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Rep. Peter Welch: 1st term Democrat from Vermont At Large.  First elected in 2006.

Faiz Shakir: Research Director at The Center for American Progress and serves as Editor-in-Chief of

Caroline Fredrickson: director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office. As director, Fredrickson leads all federal lobbying for the national ACLU, the nation's oldest and largest civil liberties organization.

Scott Dick: regular contributor on Military/Vets issues. Dick hosts his own radio broadcast called The Scott Dick Show.

Free Speech Zone

R J Shulman: political satirist. You can read Shulman’s blog at

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Sean (heart) Sarah

Just watched Hannity's lovefest with Sarah Palin, and lost a $5 bet that Sean would drop the Bill Ayres bomb in the first installment.

It was billed as an exclusive interview with Hannity and Colmes, (credit to Al Franken for font selection) but milquetoast Alan was not even permitted to ask a question or two as time is running out, the usual protocol.  No it was all Sean, and he proved his love for Sarah by denouncing left wing smears and unspecified attacks from the Obama campaign, and setting her up to parrot GOP talking points.  No mention of troopers, bridges to nowhere, or anything remotely critical of the Palin package.

First Sean teed up McCain's repeated remarks that the economy is "fundamentally sound" and Palin dropped her prefab soundbite, that this was an unfair attack on McCain's verbiage, and that he was talking about the American workforce being sound.  No challenge from Hannity on a lie so obvious it drew a rebuke from the NY Times editorial page.  Palin slid into disingenuous calls to fight the "abuse" and "toxic waste" of Wall Street, and that John McCain will fix it with "stringent oversight".  No mention from either lover of McCain's intractable support of deregulation of every kind, and that his Senate Commerce Committee failed to provide ANY oversight as Wall Street ran wild.  And when she talks about the "old boys" in Washington, doesn't that include her Johnny?

Then Hannity accused Obama of exploiting the problems for political gain, and Palin decried "obsessive partisanship"--perhaps she meant "excessive".  As Hannity blamed Obama for the bailout of Freddie and Fannie, Palin fingered lobbyists (but not the dozens on the McCain campaign), cronyism (3 times) and that her brand of reform will put government regulatory agencies "back on the side of the people".  Hannity didn't bother to ask about her own patterns of cronyism as mayor and governor, or raise an eyebrow that a fellow republican would embrace government as a solution.  And isn't the troopergate investigation that she formerly welcomed an effort to expose cronyism that needs reform?

Next, Hannity got really tough and asked her why low taxes are good.  Another prefab bite;  "Barack Obama had 94 opportunities to be on the side of the people", but voted against tax cuts.  No mention that McCain had opposed some of the Bush tax cuts, too.

And Hannity, oblivious to all of the fact checking that shows Palin deserves the scrutiny she's gotten (and much more), talked about the heated campaign and that she has been the focus of "attacks".  Palin said the American people are getting down to the facts and "seein' through the rhetoric and cheap shots"
I hope she's right, guys and gals!

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Grover Virus Fells California

Now 81 days without a budget, just today I learned the cause of the stalemate in Sacramento:  we are the first to go swirling down the drain of Grover Norquist's bathtub.

John Laird, the Democrat who chairs the budget committee in the lower house, the Assembly, told me today that the reason the Republicans have held firm on their "no new taxes" pledge--even though it will cripple economic growth and education for years to come--is that all but one of the GOP in the Assembly have signed a pledge to reject all tax increase proposals, even from their own Governator.  And they all know that if they fall off the wagon they will be taken out at the next election; just like kindergarten, they make an example out of one guy, and it keeps the rest in line.

So, instead of some modest tax increases to close a $17-billion gap, we get a payday loan plan.  Starting January 1, the payroll withholding rate doubles (from 5 to 10%) but the tax rate doesn't go up.  For 2009 only (they say), every worker in California will loan the state a few bucks each paycheck, interest-free, creating a loan pool of about a billion dollars.  In April of 2010 (they say) they will refund the extra tax we paid.  Can you think of a more regressive tax?  In Grover's book, this is not a tax increase, it just feels like one.

Arnold has painted himself into a corner, one Dem said "he's a leader with no followers".  He broke his own pledge a few weeks ago and proposed a sales tax increase (only slightly less regressive) and could not get a single member of his party to support it.

And now Schwarzenegger is vetoing the stinky budget that passed by a veto-proof margin, further delaying the resumption of payments to millions of people, plus schools and nonprofits.  The squabble now is about the terms of a "rainy day fund" that is supposed to prevent budget gridlock in the future.

The Grover virus is most dangerous when it combines with the Jarvis strain of anti-tax radicals here in California.  They passed Prop 13 in the 1970's which limits property taxes, and are ruthless enforcers like the Norquist gang.  They use thuggish tactics and minority rule and they are winning.

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Eric Boehlert: Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America. He is the author of “Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush”.

John Laird: Assemblymember for the 27th Assembly District, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties. In 2004, Mr. Laird was named by Assembly Speaker Núñez to join the Assembly leadership team as chair of the Budget Committee.

Marjorie Cohn: president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law.

David Cobb: an American activist and was the 2004 presidential candidate of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS).

Cliff Schecter: political commentator and journalist. His blog is called The Political Carnival. His latest book is called “The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn’t”.

Tommy Panik: special report from Alaska

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Christopher Fettweis:  assistant professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. Author of Losing Hurts Twice As Bad: The Four stages to Moving Beyond Iraq

David Cay Johnston: was an investigative journalist for The New York Times now focusing on the subject of taxation. He accepted a buyout offer from the Times in April 2008 and is now an independent reporter. He most recently published Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill, about hidden subsidies, rigged markets, and corporate socialism.

Lt. Gov John Garamendi: 46th Lieutenant Governor of California. He brings to the office 32 years of public service.

Jason Leopold: investigative journalist. He writes for the online publication The Public Record.

Melanie Sloan: serves as CREW’s Executive Director. Prior to starting CREW, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia where, from 1998-2003, she successfully tried cases before dozens of judges and juries.

Free Speech Zone

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Adrian Levy: Adrian Levy is a journalist and film maker specializing in foreign affairs and South East Asia.

Patty Goldman: Vice President for Litigation of Earthjustice, leads the organization’s ten regional offices in developing and implementing effective legal strategies to protect the environment for future generations.

Cliff Schecter: political commentator and journalist. His blog is called The Political Carnival. His latest book is called “The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn’t”.

Bob Borosage: president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future.

Free Speech Zone

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Ari Melber is a great young reporter who covers Netroots for The Nation and is posting frequent dispatches from the Obama campaign trail at The Washington Independent (

)  His real-time account of the origins of the lipstick-on-pig faux controversy last week was priceless.

I'm cross-posting this item he's running today, based on his appearance on my show last Friday.  As he points out, I'm blessed with callers who are well informed and have interesting views.

(Beau, please paste in his post with this link

If you'd like to hear the segment with Ari, go here


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This past Sunday morning, I was guest host on The Peter Laufer Show on Green 960, the Air America station in San Francisco.  On Sundays, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has brunch and holds court at her favorite spot along the waterfront, just a few blocks from the station.

So she just might have been listening when Don Siegelman came on the air with a special message for the speaker: please permit a floor vote on the contempt citation for Karl Rove.

Gov. Siegelman is Rove-kill, Exhibit A.  He is a witness to a hatchet job that sent him from Alabama's governor's mansion to a federal prison on phony, political charges, and he fingers Karl Rove as a central figure in the caper.  The story is recapped in this audio clip

Siegelman believes that his case, if it's blown open, could expose more about the politicization of the Justice Department and its US Attorneys.  His story includes the theft of his re-election, and a failed prosecution followed by one that got him 7 years in federal prison, he's now free on bail during appeal.

The House Judiciary Committee voted out the contempt citation in August, and now it's up to Pelosi to schedule a vote to enforce it.  It's mostly symbolic, but could help Siegelman and future investigations.  To me, it's the bare minimum she can do to deliver some accountability for the clear violations of law and ethical standards by the Bush admin.

Today's Washington Post reported that Cheney's lawyer David Addington forged the signature of Alberto Gonzalez on a document intended to provide legal cover for the illegal monitoring of phones and emails in the US. This will not be the last Bushie crime to go uninvestigated, unpunished.

Please call Pelosi at 202-225-0100 and urge the vote on contempt for Rove.  And to some of the fine folks who post lengthy comments here, intended to tweak other posters, may I suggest you put the time & effort into getting the word out on contempt for Rove?  much obliged.

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Sugar Sugar

If you consume sugar today, in almost any form, you will likely be patronizing the Fanjul family of Florida.  They control 32% of the sugar market in the US, and large swaths of land in Florida, including 40,000 acres between Lake Okeechobee (say it 5 times fast) and the Everglades. The Fanjuls are also big political donors, to both parties, and enjoy access and influence that is, well, special.

About 10 years back, when the Clinton impeachment was on the table, Monica testified about a time she was in the Oval Office and under the desk pleasuring the President.  The "prosecutor" asked Monica to back up her oral assertion with proof of the date and time, she said that Mr. Fanjul had called to protest a plan Al Gore had just announced that would affect sugar cane areas in or near the Everglades.  The prosecutor guy (was it Ken Starr or Bob Barr? my memory is fuzzy) confirmed that the call was on the log for that date and time, so Monica's account was deemed credible.  But he didn't note that Clinton did intervene at his donor's behest, and gore's plan was re-tooled to please the sugar kings.

For more, there is a remarkably honest and detailed story in the Business Section of the Sunday NYT (link)


There's a barrage of coverage of the very thin story of Gov. Palin, but I've managed to absorb quite a bit.  CNN featured back-to-back hour specials on Sunday, lady first, and called hers "Sarah Palin Revealed"; Biden's hour was slugged "Who Is He?" .   The Sarah hour of power started off gauzy and cheezy but I learned this nugget: it took Sarah 5 years and 5 different schools (two in Hawaii, that exotic place that Obama was criticized for his vacation destination) to get her journalism degree.
CNN serves up Sarah's big sister to tell us about the quickie wedding to Todd at the court house, complete with elderly strangers from a rest home nearby who were wheeled in to serve as witnesses. And, they discreetly add, 8 months later their son Track is born.  The hour has other critical reporting about her stints on the Council and as Mayor of Wasila and more recently as Gov. has fired incumbent pros and replaced them with loyalists, including about half of her high school classmates.  And the Trooper of Troopergate was on screen, Mike Wooten, and he calmly refuted Sarah and Todd's allegations that he had threatened his ex-father-in-law, and explained that his son wanted to know what a taser felt like before he agreed to zap the boy, at low power.  The troopergate investigation is Palin's biggest liability right now, although her inexperience may produce more boo boos when she gets off the script "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks for the bridge"
is demonstrably false, but they kept a  lot of that money!


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Robert Parry: founder of His new book is called “Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush”.

Matt Corley: Assistant Editor for The Progress Report and at American Progress.

Ari Melber: is The Nation’s Net movement correspondent, and a writer for the Campaign 08 blog at as well as a writer at

Lt. Gov John Garamendi: 46th Lieutenant Governor of California. He brings to the office 32 years of public service.

Brad Friedman: self-described election integrity muckraking journalist jerk. You can read his blog at

Rory O’Connor: veteran media critic.  O’Connor’s new book is called “Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio: America’s Ten Worst Hate Talkers and the Progressive Alternatives”. Read his blog at