President Bush cozies up to Rep. Miller

Rep. George Miller doesn’t always have the nicest of things to say about President George W. Bush nor does the president often compliment the House Democratic leadership team’s agenda.

But today during a wide ranging press conference at the White House, the president graciously gave the Martinez congressman credit for authoring a bill that will provide uninterrupted access to student loans.

Bush referred to Miller by name and voiced support for H.R. 5715, the “Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008.” It passed in the House on April 17 by a vote 383-27 and it’s expected to pass within a few days in the Senate. Bush has said he will sign it.

The unsettled credit market has made it more difficult for lenders in the federally guaranteed student loan program to obtain capital and some are scaling back. The new federal law makes it easier for students to borrow and allows federal officials to advance federal funds to lenders if needed.

Click here for details about the bill.


Michigan and Florida reap what they sow

I don’t usually use comments on past posts as the seeds of new ones, but this one’s bugging me. This comment from “Jh” came in on the post I did yesterday listing Nancy Pelosi’s and others’ comments on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Indiana’s voter identification law:

“The right to vote is a foundation of our democracy. American citizens who wish to vote must be able to do so.”…Nancy…tell that to the people in the states where YOUR party decided not to count their votes in YOUR primary

No. No, no, no. This meme of “Oh, how awful — look at the nasty Democrats disenfranchising their own voters!” is just too superficial, and can’t be allowed to pass without some dissection.

If Michigan and Florida Democrats want to blame someone for their delegates not being seated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer, they need look no further than their own state capitols. National Democratic Party leaders warned both states repeatedly, for years, that bucking the party’s rules and setting primaries in January before some of the states the party chosen as bellwethers — first Iowa and New Hampshire, and now Nevada and South Carolina — meant their delegates would not be seated.

They were told plain and simple: If you break the rules, you will suffer the consequences. And they did it anyway.

In Florida, the Legislature passed a bill setting the early primary date with wide, bi-partisan margins; the same thing happened with Michigan’s bill in that state’s House, although the state Senate vote was split along party lines with the Republican majority prevailing.

And guess what? The Democratic National Committee did exactly what it warned it would do, refusing to seat the delegates.

If Michigan and Florida wanted to foment a national discussion on how the nation’s presidential primaries are run, they probably shouldn’t have mounted a kamikaze attack in an election year. A party sets rules for its own convention; you break ’em, you lose. And if a party would buckle and not deliver the consequences it promised for a violation of the rules, every other state in the nation would look to move its own primary earlier and earlier to reap the economic benefit, political sway and media spotlight that comes with being among the earliest. It would be a free-for-all.

levin.gifIn fact, y’know who threatened U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. — a driving force behind Michigan’s move to an early primary — against doing exactly this in 2004? Why, it was then-DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who detailed the heated encounter in his 2007 memoir. mcauliffe.jpg(There’s a slightly longer exerpt here.) Now McAuliffe is Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chairman — and wants Michigan’s and Florida’s delegates seated despite their transgression of the same party rules for which he fought so heatedly a few years ago.

So — without opining on the motivations behind and effects of Indiana’s voter-identification law, and the Supreme Court ruling that has affirmed it — I don’t see how that situation is akin to this. Florida and Michigan lawmakers of both parties played chicken with the DNC and lost, at their own voters’ expense. The blame lies with them, and with them alone.


Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1990 introducing the updated version of “Free to Choose,” economist Milton Friedman‘s ten-part television series advocating free-market policy.

And, just for fun, three sites — on health care, immigration and global warming — where right-wing critics call Schwarzenegger a socialist. Judging from the video, that’s probably the nastiest insult he could hear…

Previous SVOTWs: April 22, April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.


Election round-tables available on-line

Televised election round-tables with June 3 primary candidates for Assembly Districts 14 and 15, the two races for the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and a debate on Propositions 98 and 99 are now posted on-line at the Contra Costa Times’ politics page.

I moderated the six, half-hour segments on April 23 and they will air on your local public access television station starting May 5. (I’ve posted the air date schedule below or you can visit www.contracostatv.org.)

The sponsors organized and paid for the production of the shows at no cost to the candidates. Sponsors include: Contra Costa Times, League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, Contra Costa Council, Contra Costa TV, Contra Costa County Election Department, Comcast and the East Bay Community Foundation.

To save you a few clicks, I’ve also embedded the links to the shows here:

District 3 Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors

District 5 Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors

Assembly District 15, Republicans

Assembly District 15, Democrats

Assembly District 14, Democrats

Statewide Propositions 98 and 99

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Locals react to SCOTUS ruling on voter ID

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld Indiana’s voter identification law, finding states can require photo identification without violating voters’ rights, thus validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws. Per the Washington Post, critics say the 6-3 ruling disenfranchises those least likely to have driver’s licenses or passports: the poor, elderly, disabled and city dwellers.

More than 20 states have some form of voter ID law, but Indiana’s is the strictest. This case’s record contained no evidence that the type of polling-place impersonation fraud this law was meant to pre-empt has ever occurred in Indiana, but those who wanted the law stricken had trouble identifying specific voters whose ballots were not counted because of it.

Here’s what Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has to say about it:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision reminds us that the struggle for civil rights continues and the right to vote is still under threat.

“This decision is a big blow to all Americans -especially the poor, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities who will face tremendous obstacles in exercising the fundamental right to vote.

“Frankly, the continued push for these photo-identification laws is not at all about the integrity of the electoral process – but rather part of a tradition of voter suppression that must end.

“I am committed to defending the right to vote for every American and I will work with my colleagues to strengthen and preserve our electoral process.”

Comments from Pelosi, Feinstein et al, after the jump… Continue Reading