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In today's WSJ, Iraq War architect Doug Feith has an op ed attacking the Obama administration's plans to extend the START Treaty, the binding agreement to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

Nothwithstandning the bitter irony to being lectured by Feith about the potential unintended security consequences of President Obama's nuclear weapons policies, nuclear weapons issues are something of a non-issue in the blogosphere.  After the jump I'll explain why the blogosphere should be invested in turning back the neo-con attacks on President Obama's nuclear weapons policy.

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In a not so ironic turn, it appears that Bush's new Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (you know, the one whose job it is to convince the muslim world that the US really isnt so bad), Karen Hughes, has appeared on Pat Robertson's show, the 700 Club.

California Democrat, Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is on the case, calling on Bush to condemn Robertson's remarks.

The release her office issued is after the jump

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Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, announced today that a full time staff person has been hired to assist the CPC in developing an agenda, communications plan and serving as a liaison with progressive organizations.  Text of the press release and poll after the jump...
Poll

The top priority for the Progressive Caucus should be...

12%1 votes
12%1 votes
25%2 votes
12%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
37%3 votes
0%0 votes

| 8 votes | Vote | Results

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Good news coming out of Congress is hard to come by these days, so this is worth noting: in the wrangling and shenanagins that went into the Omnibus Appropriations bill, Congress ended up cutting virtually ALL of the money Bush asked for for new nuclear weapons.  Here's Senator Feinstein's (D-CA) summary from UPI.

Basically, Bush had asked for almost $100 million dollars for four things:

  1. Research on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a nuclear bunker buster bomb.
  2. Research on "advanced concepts," also known as "mini nukes," or nuclear weapons with a yield less than 5 kilotons.
  3. The Modern Pit Facility, a factory that would produce up to 450 plutonium pits, the explosive trigger of a nuclear device, per year.
  4. Reducing the amount of time needed to resume underground nuclear tests at the Nevada test site.

On items one, two and four, Bush got NOTHING.  On item three, of the $29 million requested, they got $7 million, with the stipulation that a site for the plant could not be selected.

My analysis after the jump...

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So Frist will today "give his blessing" to a plan to change the Senate rules so that only 51 votes are required to end a filibuster of Bush's judicial nominations.

Here's the article from this morning's CongressDailyAM (subscription only, sorry no link):

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Tue Oct 05, 2004 at 11:49 AM PDT

Romero gains on Wilson in NM 1

by tyroneslothrop

Poll from the Albuquerque Journal finds that Democratic challenger Richard Romero has closed the gap in his race to unseat Republican encumbent Heather Wilson in New Mexico's 1st CD.  Here's a link to AP coverage.

Here's what the CQ midday update had to say:

"The Albuquerque JOURNAL reports that "Democrat Richard Romero has pulled to within a point of incumbent Republican Heather Wilson in the race for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, according to a Journal poll" taken over three nights beginning Oct. 1. Wilson defeated Romero two years ago by 10 percentage points. "Forty-five percent of likely voters surveyed favored Wilson, while 44 percent favored Romero. Eleven percent told the pollsters they were undecided or declined to state their preference. A month ago, Wilson had a 49-43 edge over Romero."

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Four years ago, I remember being surprised by how well President Bush performed in the debates.  Last night, I was frankly surprised at how poorly he performed.  

The eye rolling, the long, awkward pauses.  Bush wasn't just defensive, there was a weird air of entitlement; it looked at moments like he was irritated that he had to make his case, as though he expected the public to know it already and was angry at them that there might be any doubt.  As a result, his normally charasmatic style of speaking in short sentences came off as arrogant and insincere.

I think that Bush is remarkably weak here, if the media narrative can be made to focus on this the same way it focused on the serial exaggerator/sigher, etc with Gore, because it speaks directly to the President's character.  Folks around these parts have long seen through the thin veneer of down home folksiness to see the self-centered pr*ck beneath.  I think the public caught their first glimpse of it last night.

Last night was the first broadly public indication of the unaccountable kid, the kid who has always had his messes cleaned up for him, and has never had to take responsibility for anything.

That narrative ties immediately to Bush's unwillingness to even acknowledge the mess in Iraq, and with the history of his business ventures, military service, etc ad naseum.

If I were in the Kerry camp, I would be making every effort to make that the narrative.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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I'm working to put together phonebanks focussing on "progressive" voters in swing states, and I'm wondering if anyone can point me to any published data on profiles of potential Nader voters?  I've heard tell of materials on this, but have been unable to find.
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Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 08:08 PM PDT

Bush's DNC surprise goes awry

by tyroneslothrop

Pakistan's conveniently timed capture of a high level al Qaeda operative seems to have fulfilled the Bush admin wishes.  Alas, the Los Angeles Times points out that the timely announcement basically nullifies the intelligence value of the capture.  

Oops.

Background, details and links at: notsoforeignpolicy

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This just in from the CQ midday update:

SENATE REPUBLICAN SPLIT COULD SINK PROPOSED GAY MARRIAGE BAN

Senate Republican opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage could scuttle the measure's consideration this week. The Senate is debating a motion to take up a proposal (S J Res 40) by Wayne Allard, R-Colo., that would define marriage as "the union of a man and a woman." Democrats are not blocking a vote on the measure, but they also do not want it to be subject to amendment. Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said Republicans do not agree on the wording of the proposal. Republican leaders bypassed the Judiciary Committee to bring it directly to the floor. Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, has advocated language that would take the matter out of the hands of judges and leave it to state legislatures, without expressly defining marriage. Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., estimated that eight to 12 Republicans would vote against Allard's resolution and no more than 42 senators would vote for it.

I hope the whole thing blows up in their face.

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This came in in today's CQ midday update:

"RIDGE WARNINGS OF HEIGHTENED TERRORIST THREAT COULD SPEED HOMELAND BILL

After briefing lawmakers over the past three days, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge today warned the public that "credible reporting now indicates that al Qaeda is moving forward with its efforts to carry out large-scale attacks in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process." Ridge said the government has no "specific, credible information" to suggest that either the Democratic or Republican national conventions will be targeted. But he urged new vigilance. Top congressional leaders were briefed at the White House on Tuesday, while rank-and-file House members and senators received closed-door briefings yesterday and today. In response, Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., urged GOP leaders to call up the fiscal 2005 Homeland Security appropriations bill (HR 4567, S 2537) now instead of waiting until September as planned by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. A senior GOP aide said leaders negotiations were under way to move the bill before the summer break."

I have to wonder if national security might interrupt Bill Frist's attempts to focus attention on class action lawsuits and the FMA.

Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations chair, Ted Stevens (R-AK), has apparently halted the markup of this year's appropriations bills unless Democrats agree to limit floor debate on the bills, which makes an omnibus appropriations bill all the more likely.

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As noted here  , six Senate Democrats (or five and Zell Miller) voted against an amendment that would require missile defense to have passed some basic operational tests before deployment.

Let's leave aside debate as to as to the desireability of the sytem (and assume that proponents of the system would want it to actually work).  The fact is that the rush to deploy the system is POLITICAL.  Bush made deployment before the elections a priority, so much so that many of the scheduled tests were pushed back until after deployment.

Why Democrats like Clinton and Lieberman (among others) would not only fail to take advantage of Bush's vulnerability on the issue, but would vote to allow him to get away with it is beyond me.

The missile defense budget for 04 is just over $9 billion dollars.  Compare that with the paltry amounts for minor things like, say, port security and securing loose nuclear materials, and then compare the threats each address.  For 2 years after September 11th, in fact, the Bush administration did not request port security funding, though Congress appropriated it anyway.

Will someone please explain to me how the Democrats can fail to reframe the security debate to their advantage so greivously?

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