And Then There Were 60. . .Arlen Specter Joins Democrats

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medium_Specter522.jpgWow. The Democrats — if they ever bring in Al Franken — will control 60 seats in the US Senate fair and square.
According to CNN and reports from the Washington Post, Senator Arlen Specter has just announced that he is going to join the Democratic Party and run again for his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2010 as a Dem.
This is huge news. I spoke with Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska last night at “The Week Awards Dinner” hosted by Margaret Carlson and Sir Harold Evans about the rough storms he often faces as a radical centrist Senator in an otherwise highly partisan Senate Chamber — and was impressed with how he articulated to me strong, informed support of President Obama’s general policy course and particularly Obama’s excellent foreign policy work.
I asked Senator Nelson, who often throws his own party off his back, how the Obama White House was treating him as I remember how the Bush White House lost then Vermont Republican Senator Jim Jeffords because of rude and diffident treatment.
Nelson said that he had excellent relations with Obama’s team — and that the Republican loss of Jim Jeffords was a “monumental mistake” of the Bush White House.
And now. . .the Repubs have lost Arlen Specter.
So, on a great number of issues, ‘the filibuster’ will be lurking in the shadows.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

46 comments on “And Then There Were 60. . .Arlen Specter Joins Democrats

  1. tman says:

    None of this is of any consequence until Americans
    can muster enough courage to talk openly about the
    stranglehold of influence that AIPAC has over out
    political process and our political leaders.
    Amercans bsically need to get Jewish influence and
    their tainted money out of our political system.
    They have taken our country to war against THEIR
    enemies, they have almost bankrupted our country
    (they run the banking system) and they are the most
    toxic race of people that the world has ever seen.
    Where is Hitler when you need him?

    Reply

  2. David says:

    Robert Byrd is a very old white guy and one of the great champions of the Constitution. Jesse Helms was a very old white guy and an affront to the Constitution.
    Neither age nor race nor gender has much of anything predictive to do with the worth of a United States Senator.
    The more pressure that is brought to bear on Arlen Specter for his lapses and failures, the better. But if Arlen Specter was once a progressive Democrat, there is a spark of hope. Yes, he’s a politician first, but perhaps now his conversations will be with the likes of Robert Byrd instead of the likes of Mitch McConnell.

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  3. thetruth says:

    Specter has always been a lot of noise, but not much action. It’s like he knows right and wrong, he just doesn’t let it factor into his decision-making.
    Reid, Obama and the DSCC throwing their weight behind him shows how short-sighted Washington has gotten over the magic “60”. They’ve promised him everything, and in return have gotten a promise of solid “maybe’s”. Kind of like Obama’s approach to the banking industry. Shovel trillions to them and get back… what?
    In response to Reid, Obama and the pledge of DSCC support for Specter, I am pledging to support whoever is Specter’s opponent in the Democratic primary.

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  4. pauline says:

    “79-year-old Arlen Specter is leaving the Republican Party after almost five decades. That must be tough. . .with all that lying out of the right-side of his mouth, now he has to learn to lie out of the left-side. . .”

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  5. pauline says:

    “The 79-year-old senator is leaving the Republican Party. Which is a big loss for Republicans — they really could use that young blood . . .”

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  6. Marcia says:

    Arlin Specter is 79 years old.
    Our Congress members, unlike old soldiers, never seem to fade away. Like pit-bulls, once they have a grip on the jugular, they never let go.

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  7. rich says:

    Specter’s flip-floppery on upholding the Constitution hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere: Gail Collins and Paul Soglin make the same point:
    Soglin:
    “Over two years ago we posted Arlen Specter Makes a Deal: Sells Out The Constitution for Power. At the height of one of the Constitutional crises presented by the out of control Bush White House that had no recognition of civil liberties, Specter made a lot of noise about freedom and then collapsed:
    ‘Specter went into negotiations with the White House and his own party, knowing that his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee was at stake. He caved.’
    ‘…It is hard to believe that the Arlen Specter of the nineteen-eighties—the maverick who defied his party on an issue of the magnitude of the Bork nomination—would have considered yielding on a question as fundamental as habeas corpus …
    ‘He destroyed the foundation of Anglo-American jurisprudence and took us back to the days of the Star Chamber Courts.’
    ‘…Specter is hoping the courts will restore the rights of the detainees to bring habeas cases. “The bill was severable. It has a severability clause. And I think the courts will invalidate it,” he told me. “They’re not going to give up authority to decide habeas-corpus cases, not a chance.” Others are less sure.'(end PS 2006 quote)
    (Soglin, 2009 again): “When you look at Specter’s record on all matters Constitutional in 2006, the man has no shame. He signaled all year that he was unprincipled and shallow.”
    http://www.waxingamerica.com/2009/04/arlen-specter-always-uncomfortable-never-a-leader.html
    Gail Collins notes Specter’s pattern of backing up his lip service to the Constitution with a nice stab in the back:
    “Nobody has ever tried to paint Arlen Specter as a profile in courage. As the Judiciary Committee chairman, he demonstrated his moderateness by consistently expressing sympathy for the Democrats’ objections to proposals like depriving prisoners of the right of habeas corpus or appointing Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Then, of course, he went right ahead and voted with the Bush administration. But he wanted it on the record that his heart was in the right place.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/opinion/30collins.html?_r=1
    The upshot is Arlen Specter’s career as a respected, conscientious and honorable public servant has been over for at least two years. He may pull one over on the broad middle of Pennsylvania’s electorate, but that electorate has shifted in ways not visible to long-serving officials. So, we’ll see.
    The problem with ‘centrism’ is it uses the guise of bipartisanship to reject the values our elected officials are sworn to uphold. I’m all for reasonable men finding common ground to take pragmatic action. But that’s not what’s happening, and what’s happening in the ‘center’ is not moderate or reasonable. When ‘getting something done’ means working the middle to sell out or eviscerate the basic Constitutional legal structure and any teeth those provisions have in practice, then something is very wrong. Thus we have the spectacle of Lieberman and Specter invoking ‘extremists’ [sic] of both parties — just because Dems (& Repubs) have a hankering to abide by the Constitution, rather than betray it. It reveals a bankruptcy of intellect and practice.

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  8. Surly Duck says:

    POA – while you scare the crap outta me, I learn from you. I just spent 7 mins at TM’s site and, well, that’s 7 mins of my life I’ll never get back. They seem to be a “sunshine” club to me. Nothing really to say, just “Oh, you’re wonderful!” and “Oh, what a bummer!” Kinda like the way Scarlett O’Hara felt she had to talk to young men to “catch” a husband. It doesn’t seem they really want to learn or talk in depth about anything. Strange.

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  9. rich says:

    Can a Predator drone distinguish combatants from ‘militants’ from local residents? My sense is that if Russia or India flew UAV drones over North Carolina in pursuit of say, Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh, the multiple homes and villages bombed by Predators would incite a full-scale rebellion.
    That’s the problem with push-button wars: they cannot wage a just war or win any war because fighting a political & moral cause effectively requires requires an on-the-ground ability to differentiate friend from foe, combatant from resident. Our current default to Vietnam-style ‘body counts’ — killing lotsa people an sayin they’re VC or jihadis — is a tactic that will determine our loss.
    Imagine the reaction in Tulsa or Charlotte to airborne vehicles that rain down death but cannot hear your appeals for justice or your pleas for mercy. Imagine the rage and helplessness that’d ensue from being unable to state your case or defend yourself, or just say “Hey, that was my daughter and is not a soldier.”
    We know these methods are backfiring. Few ‘responsible’ DC Establishmentarians are speaking up over these methods; these methods ‘lost Pakistan’ — so will run the refrain.
    Interestingly, as Pakistan crumbles, a stable Iran will suddenly be much more obviously in the American interest. Say goodbye to Iran the national of fanatics; hello client-state!

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  10. Mr.Murder says:

    Goering targets civilians with the Luftwaffe and was put to death. Herr Rumsfeld, Cheney?

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  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Nuremberg was a series of trials by Germans, for Germans. We’d best better do our own house cleaning.

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  12. Anger Rage says:

    Heh. Sure sounds like a survival tactic to me.
    And it certainly doesn’t sound like this defection is going to do the Democrats any good if the man can’t toe the line for 3 hours.

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  13. rich says:

    pauline above reminded me of one more reason Arlen Specter jumped the shark, long ago:
    His faux outrage over Bill Belichick’s spying on rival NFL teams. Never mind that it came at the end of a long trail of reversal-studded hackery.
    Specter’s ‘stand’ exposed his refusal to stand on principle when it came to warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. Specter was willing to work up some outrage where it didn’t matter; but when the liberties of 350 million Americans were at stake, Specter was AWOL. The hypocrisy was on full display, and Specter didn’t have a clue the ground had shifted beneath his feet.
    Again, of course he mumbled unctuously of his ‘concern’ — but voted against his stated fealty to the law as soon as he thought no one was looking, usually within a day or two. No surprise.
    But the hypocrisy was so transparent that the damage to Specter’s credibility was staggering. Outrage for spying in the NFL; but Specter was unable to summon much ire when it came to doing his job. The egregious snake-oil is deep into Leiberman territory.
    Reid and Specter are the only ones unaware of how far Specter’s reputation has fallen.
    May 14, 2008
    Arlen Specter, the Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday demanded an independent investigation into “Spygate.”
    The announcement came three years after it was first disclosed President Bush had authorized a secret electronic eavesdropping program on Americans without warrants in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
    But Specter wasn’t referring to that.
    Instead, the Pennsylvania senator is demanding an inquiry into the New England Patriots’ secret videotaping of opposing NFL coaches’ signals on the sidelines — an affair sports writers have dubbed “Spygate.”
    We are not making this up. Specter said such behavior, a violation of NFL rules, is damaging to the sport. Call it Specter’s own Patriot Act.
    “It’s really an insult to the people who follow it,” Specter said. He added that the Patriots “owe the public a lot more candor and a lot more accountability.”
    The league has fined the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick $750,000 each. The team’s video assistant has turned over to the NFL eight tapes of opposing coaches giving signals during games.
    Apparently real-world warrantless spying isn’t as egregious as snooping on opposing NFL coaches.
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/05/specter-demandi

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What a riot. After all that sniveling and moaning about my “uncivil and rude” posting at Taylor Marsh’s site, she has banned me from posting topics, but NOT from commenting.
    Go figure. Apparently it was the issues I raised that jammed a corn cob up their asses over there, (rather than my manner of discourse), as I alleged all along.
    That site is actually MORE perverse in its partisan slant than Nathan Tabor’s Conservative Voice was, and even rises to the degree of partisan idiocy that Town Hall exhibits.
    Apparently, Marsh is the Sean Hannity of the progressive blogosphere.
    And, yeah, hooray, we got Specter.
    Its kinda like throwing a dead skunk in your drinking water.

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  15. hidflect says:

    Arlen Spector’s 3 primary loyalties, in order are:
    Arlen Spector
    AIPAC
    Israel
    Turning “left” to avoid defeat maintains the viability of these.

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  16. David says:

    rich,
    I don’t have an immediate answer for that, except possibly that a sudden change of position would put him “in lockstep,” a demand from the Republican Party that I imagine helped drive him from their ranks. I was most perplexed by his position on card check, and have more than a few quarrels with him on positions he’s taken.
    I definitely agree with your statement about watching what he actually does.
    Another thought on the switch to D: it changes (although a senator really should represent, as best possible, all the constituents of his or her state, and the wise interests of the entire country – that’s what senators are for) his constituency and the perspectives the popular mind will accept his representing.
    Yes, liz, there is a terrible problem with the power of $pecial intere$t$, but there is also a terrible problem with the general mindset of our citizenry, which citizenry still cannot really wrap its mind around the actualities of US foreign policy, at least not in sufficient numbers. The fourth estate bears no small amount of responsibility for that, mostly I think because of who owns and who edits the MSM, but also again because of our collective popular mindset.
    But there is more than a dime’s worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties. Most obvious example is on the issue of facts driving science, not the other way around. And no Republican could have brought us through and out of the Great Depression, although sadly it took the military Keynesianism of WWII because conservative voices were able to get FDR to draw back prematurely from civilian Keynesianism.

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  17. rich says:

    Dawn Johnsen with an e.

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  18. liz says:

    Which Committee will Specter get to stifle now?
    This change is to stifle proceedings in whichever committee chairmanship he gets.
    There is no such thing as Republican and Democrat. That’s a game for We the People. The other groups in DC are far more dangerous.

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  19. rich says:

    David and Clay,
    How do you account for Specter’s refusal to support Dawn Johnson, scant hours after pledging to support Obama’s agenda?
    In light of the rationalizations given for quick confirmation of Michael Mukasey, I don’t see how Arlen Specter can begrudge Pres. Obama his nominees. It’s not just ungenerous and inconsistent, it is highly partisan and contradicts Specter’s stated beliefs about the proper way of conducting a Senator’s business.
    I don’t expect lockstep obeisance, but it does contradict Specter’s past stands on the bipartisan comity that must be exptended to a new President, right?
    “The President should be able to pick his team” sounded real good when Bush was nominating folks to his Cabinet and to the federal courts. But now that constatnly extolled bipartisan principle has disappeared with a Democrat in office, as Specter joins with radical Republicans to hold a hard line.
    Specter’s habit is particularly pronounced when the rule of law or Consitutional values are at risk: Dawn Johnson has made a point of stating her job is to uphold the rule of law — and that seems to be the only real objection to her nomination in the context of the rapidly escalating debate on torture. Point being, Arlen Specter’s actions don’t support the view of him as a liberal: he’s much more interested in being a hard-line partisan than in working with Pres. Obama to get something done. Much more interested in protecting the status quo and holding up Johnson’s nomination than in repairing the OLC and establishing a functional office capable of adhering to the rule of law.
    I don’t see how you reconcile your view with his behavior. Watch what he actually does.

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  20. Clay Thorp says:

    I agree with the above message by David. I think that Arlen Spector has “liberated” himself, as David would say and that such a move will now allow him to be the Arlen Spector whose true core is a Progressive Democrat. As one of the longest serving Senators in our nation’s history – and certainly one of the most repected – it is good to see the Senator finally breaking with a party that “is moving further and further to the right.” Republicans need “a revolution,” as Specter put it. If anyone knows how true that is, it’s Specter.

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  21. David says:

    Arlen Specter started his adulthood as a liberal Philadephia Democrat. While I realize all of the political considerations that drove him out of the Republican Party and into the Democratic Party, never be sure until he casts votes about any conclusions that tempt you.
    He clearly took a Rockefeller Republican turn, prompted in part, I gather, by things about the Philadephia Democratic machine that bothered him, although I cannot speak authoritatively about his earlier biography. Nor do I know how principled he is or isn’t, but liberation can most certainly lead to some transformation, or in Specter’s case, a return to a fuller expression of who and what he was philosophically/politically when he set out.
    Now for at least one lifelong Republican currently in the US Senate, the one who was attacked rather visciously by the right wing Republican machine on at least one occasion.
    I had to chuckle when the true believers called Specter a RINO. In America, you are whatever you say you are. That is the only basis. Your registration card says R, D, I, or whatever other recognized party you say you are. There is no litmus test, no initiation fee, no screening committee, no vote of acceptance or rejection by the current membership. Arlen Specter was a Republican. Now he is a Democrat. Welcome to the Party of Will Rogers, Arlen.

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  22. rich says:

    Above we cited Specter’s habitual pattern of mouthing adherence to principle and then instantly going back on his word in subsequent votes.
    Within hours of switching parties, Arlen Specter repeated his habit of knifing the principles he espouses to enact a little hyper-partisan obstruction:
    “At 10:32am, President Barack Obama reached Specter. .. . Specter told the president, “I’m a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda.”
    Hours later Arlen Specter is undermining Prznt. Obama’s agenda:
    SPECTER: I’m opposed to the nominee for Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Council, Dawn Johnsen.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/28/specter-opposes-johnsen/
    Make no mistake, Specter is fighting a rearguard action here — as a partisan Republican. He couldn’t keep his word for even three hours.
    This is not a matter of voting his conscience: Arlen Specter has always been very vocal about giving Bush’s nominees to the bench the benefit of the doubt, and said the same for Mukasey. How Senators had to approve them, barring damning evidence — though he never extended the same courtesy to Clinton’s appointees.
    Now, Specter’s obstructing one of Obama’s critical nominee in repairing DOJ, within hours of promising to do precisely the opposite.
    Steve said Specter’s “not doing this… just to be a cantankerous Republican.”
    The facts do not support Steve Clemons assertion: Specter’s opposition to Obama’s nominee — when no fact has brought into question Ms. Johnson’s fitness for the job — is an arbitrary and extremist stance designed to obstruct. And Specter does not have even a whiff of consistency or the inter-party respect to rest his conscience on.
    His own survival may be the prime motivator and uppermost in his mind, but Specter will unquestionably continue to violate his own word and his stated principles to wield a hyper-partisan axe.
    Either you’re switchin parties, Arlen, or you’re not.
    Thing is, centrism is fine if you mean it and actually practice moderation. But working the middle to destroy the common ground of the vast center makes Specter’s moderation just another kind of extremism.

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  23. KevlarKevin says:

    THE COMMISSION ON ACCOUNTABILITY IS A FRAUD.
    http://spectator.org/archives/2009/04/28/soros-show-trials
    By Matthew Vadum on 4.28.09 @ 6:08AM
    The so-called Commission on Accountability which mysteriously appeared on the political scene a few days ago to push for show trials related to War on Terror interrogation policies is a PR hoax created by liberal philanthropist George Soros and political operatives sympathetic to the Obama administration.
    The push is part of a vindictive campaign to pay back the architects of the War on Terror for making a good faith effort to defend America
    To some the arrival of the Commission on Accountability, with its 19 member groups including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch, suggested a significant groundswell of support in the nonprofit activist community for the proposed creation of an independent, non-partisan commission to examine the treatment of captured suspected terrorists. These groups all want Bush administration officials investigated for doing their jobs.
    But the Napoleonic plotter Charles Maurice de Talleyrand’s eternal aphorism that treason is a matter of dates is not lost on today’s left, which, having recaptured the White House and Congress, now wants to pay back the architects of the War on Terror for daring to defend America from Islamist totalitarians.
    Alas, this spanking new David Axelrod-style astroturf group was manufactured by Soros himself and Obama loyalists.
    The proof was surprisingly easy to find.
    That’s because the domain name registration record for the group’s website indicates near the bottom that the site was reserved for George Soros. It also indicates it was registered by Blue State Digital, LLC.
    A BusinessWeek profile in June of last year identified Soros as a Blue State Digital client since 2006 and called the firm then-candidate Obama’s “secret weapon.” The firm was described as “a market research-New Media hybrid that has played an instrumental role in fostering Obamamania.” Although the Obama campaign refused to discuss the firm for the article, Blue State Digital boasted that “its handiwork and technology can be seen in the more than $200 million Obama has raised online, the 2 million phone calls made on the candidate’s behalf, and in barackobama.com’s social network of 850,000 users, who have organized 50,000 campaign events.”
    The profile also noted that the firm was founded in 2004 by four former members of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. “But Thomas Gensemer, a former venture capitalist who, at 31, is now Blue State’s managing partner, says he and his associates wanted to use such tools to mobilize grassroots support for progressive candidates, causes, or products,” the profile states.
    Blue State Digital was “tightly entwined with the campaign,” BusinessWeek reported. “Joe Rospars, a 27-year-old partner, attends all of the Obama campaign’ senior staff meetings, says Gensemer. Campaign insiders suggest privately that Blue State has so impressed Obama that, if he wins in November, the company could be in the unique position to play a role inside the White House.”
    Indeed.
    Moreover, at least eight of the 19 left-leaning institutional members of the Commission on Accountability are funded by the secretive Soros.
    One is Soros’s foundation, the Open Society Institute, which has given away more than $5 billion over the years to various left-wing causes. The Open Society Institute has given money to seven of the Commission members. They are the Carter Center ($256,834 in 2000), the Constitution Project ($840,883 since 2001), Human Rights First ($445,000 since 2003), Human Rights Watch ($4,013,690 since 2000), Jewish Council for Public Affairs ($110,000 in 2005), National Institute of Military Justice ($255,000 since 2005), and Physicians for Human Rights ($1,224,153 since 1999).
    The creation of the Commission on Accountability dovetailed nicely with President Obama’s indication last week that he is open to the possibility of pursuing probes of Bush administration officials for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
    According to a report from Byron York of the Washington Examiner, Soros joined with MoveOn, which he funds generously, to urge the creation of “a commission of inquiry to examine and report publicly on America’s use of torture in the period since September 11, 2001.”
    Soros’s proposal was included in an email sent out by his Open Society Institute. The email refers the reader to the Commission on Accountability, whose website makes the incredible claim that “[t]he report issued by the commission [to be created] will strengthen U.S. national security and help to re-establish America’s standing in the world.”
    No, it won’t. It will poison America’s politics for decades to come, as former Solicitor General Ted Olson told York. It is the kind of thing a Third World banana republic does. It’s a kind of slow-motion national suicide by investigation and litigation.
    And Republican lawmakers would be justified in going nuclear.
    Rep. Peter King (R-New York) vows to shut down Congress if any Bush-era officials are hauled into court. “We would need to have a scorched-earth policy and use procedural means to bring the place to a halt — go to war,” King told the Politico.
    “If we have another 2,000 people killed, I want Nancy Pelosi and George Soros, John Conyers and Pat Leahy to go to the funeral and say, ‘Your son was vaporized because we didn’t want to dump some guy’s head under water for 30 seconds,'” King added.
    King’s right. The War on Terror shouldn’t become a partisan hockey puck.
    And it must be noted that in America, we resolve policy differences through elections. We don’t use the legal system after officials have left office to prosecute them for doing their jobs. We do not criminalize policy differences in America.
    But leftist groups care little for the rule of law.
    Other groups outside the Commission that are pushing for a water-boarding Inquisition include MoveOn.org, which has received untold millions from Soros, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has received $150,000 from Soros’s foundation since 1999.
    MoveOn is the more famous of the two. It has a Web-based network of more than 3 million online activists and played a significant role in helping to make Barack Obama president. Its website urges members to sign a petition demanding the appointment of a Watergate-style “special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the architects of the Bush-era torture program.”
    The Center for Constitutional Rights, an anti-American public interest law firm whose website praises the Viet Cong, is headed by Che Guevara apologist Michael Ratner. The Center has filed numerous lawsuits aimed at hobbling the War on Terror and is a frequent defender of Lynne Stewart, a lawyer convicted of aiding Islamist terrorists.
    To groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights, the show trial is an essential bit of political theater. The storyline is usually easy to follow. A bad guy is identified as an enemy of the public and charged with a crime against the people. All the evidence shows this and often without much ado a conviction is secured. Unlike a real trial with strict procedures, rules of evidence, and real defense counsel, a show trial is highly efficient much like authoritarianism is supposed to be.
    The Center’s Ratner already had a trial run. A make-believe kangaroo court composed of far-left extremists already convicted the Bush administration. It was called the “International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.”
    Ratner’s witch trial could serve as a rough blueprint for a real commission.
    Even if it doesn’t, if the kind of commission Soros wants comes to America, the country will never be the same again.
    Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy.

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  24. fidel castro ruz says:

    nations get the govt’s they deserve.
    and the u.s.a is headed (almost there) for a national socialist police state.
    one party with two wings.
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385×304785

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  25. Mr.Murder says:

    Warren Commission. He’s still on the take.

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  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh goodie. Lieberman is a Dem too, hows THAT workin’ for us?
    I am so tired of this partisan crap. What, Specter all the sudden found morality? He’s the same guy in a different party, nothing more, probably less. And this “voting his conscience” BS is just that, BS. If these posturing pricks had consciences, three quarters of our nation’s woes would not exist. Besides, I don’t really see the Dems doing any great shakes for us, it seems pretty same-o same-o to me.

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  27. BetsyM says:

    As a former Republican, I personally am very happy
    that another Rep has switched parties. The right
    wing seems to have really pushed people out of the
    party.
    I live in Colorado Springs which is known for
    being the Capitol of the Christian right. They
    have truly destroyed the republican party. The
    centrist republicans are leaving as fast as they
    can.

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  28. susan says:

    http://www.openleft.com/
    Joe Torsella Already A Serious Primary Challenger to Specter (+)
    by: Chris Bowers
    Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 15:43
    It turns out that Arlen Specter already has a serious primary challenger: Joe Torsella (I can’t seem to find a campaign website.) Torsella is CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, head of the Pennsylvania Education Board, and was also a Rhodes Scholar. He held a variety of civic and political positions in Philadelphia during the 1990’s, and narrowly lost a 2004 primary for the U.S. House to Allyson Schwartz.
    Torsella today vowed to stay in the campaign, even with Specter flipping:
    I decided to run for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania for one simple reason: I believe we need new leadership, new ideas, and new approaches in Washington. It’s become obvious that the old ways of doing business might have worked for the special interests, but they haven’t worked for the rest of us.
    Nothing about today’s news regarding Senator Specter changes that, or my intention to run for the Democratic nomination to the Senate in 2010 – an election that is still a full year away.
    This is a serious campaign. Torsella raised $596,513 during the first 51 days of his campaign, and has $586,798 on hand. While that is still a long way from the $6,735,915 that Specter has on hand, it is not to be taken lightly. Torsella has also hired a high-profile, experienced set of staff and consultants…
    Jane Hamsher had this to say:
    Senate Democrats counting on Specter to keep them from having to take a vote on EFCA are probably looking elsewhere to cover their bets (and that may have inspired the recent mass defection). Arlen may be saying “I think it is a bad bill, and I’m opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture,” but he is now running for office in a state that has 900,000 union members. Bob Casey got 2,357,058 votes in 2006 to beat Rick Santorum’s 1,658,853. Is Specter going to stand tall as a man of principle and gamble with that many votes? Well, I guess it depends on which principle we’re talking about. Arlen was an EFCA sponsor in 2007, so the only cause he’s really got is himself. If I were Tom Donohue, I’d be crying in my beer. Because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s got the cards now.

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  29. mahatma gandi says:

    the same elitist bastages remain in power….all they care about is staying in their places of power.
    the only ones they represent is the dogma or ideology of the party which rules them.
    while the people get f’ck’d.
    what do you stand for steve?
    or do you just want to be part of the washington establishment?
    do any of these self serving moves deserve serious non stop criticism?
    is there any right or wrong?
    anywhere?
    sooner or later ‘we the people’
    will awaken from their media induced slumber.

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  30. questions says:

    Rich at 3:06, you’re absolutely right. The dems won’t support a primary challenger to Spector unless he suddenly can’t run because of his health. So we’re stuck with a more northern bluedog. Oh well.
    The EFCA position is the pits. I wonder what it would take for him to “see the light” and switch again.

    Reply

  31. susan says:

    We need to give stong support to the Democrat who challenges Specter in the primary.
    Another effin’ DINO we don’t need!

    Reply

  32. pauline says:

    Why would the Dems even want this guy? Politics is such a game!
    PBS interview, July, 2004:
    “I think that the 9/11 commission report, when added to the Senate Intelligence Committee documentation of the failures on Iraqi intelligence, and the fact, which we’ve known for a long time, that if everything had been under one umbrella, 9/11 could have been prevented, and then this critical factor, we are a nation at risk now.
    The director of the FBI and the secretary of homeland security have both told us to expect an al-Qaida attack between now and the election. So we tend to put it out of our mind. . .it is so ominous, but I think the Congress has a duty. We should have done this a long time ago, but now those confluence of factors, I think, are leading us to some action. And I agree with what Senator Lieberman has said. We have a lot of experience and a lot of expertise. I chaired the intelligence committee in the 104th Congress, and we really know what ought to be done. “
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec04/plan_07-30.html
    The Hill 3/7/08
    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) does not have the fall-back option of running as an independent should he lose his 2010 primary election, giving the senior lawmaker strong incentive to abandon his party this year.
    Specter faces an extremely difficult primary race against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the conservative firebrand who lost his bid to oust Specter from his seat in the 2004 GOP primary by a mere 17,000 votes (out of more than a million cast).
    Pennsylvania political experts say that Specter would likely face a more difficult challenge in 2010 because the Republican primary electorate in Pennsylvania has become more conservative.
    “I think he has a lot of problems,” said Terry Madonna, a professor of political science at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “I think this is the test of lifetime.”
    Madonna estimated that between 150,000 to 200,000 centrist Republicans switched registration to the Democratic Party in the 2008 election cycle, leaving the remaining GOP electorate more conservative.
    The Pennsylvania Department of State reported more than 130,000 switches from the GOP to the Democratic Party before the 2008 primary contest between President Obama and former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
    The massive exodus of centrist-leaning voters from the Pennsylvania GOP leaves Specter’s right flank extremely vulnerable — fiscal and social conservatives have long viewed him as a bête noire.
    thehill.com/leading-the-news/spector-faces-make-or-break-decision-as-challenge-looms-2009-03-07.html
    May 14, 2008
    Arlen Specter, the Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday demanded an independent investigation into “Spygate.”
    The announcement came three years after it was first disclosed President Bush had authorized a secret electronic eavesdropping program on Americans without warrants in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
    But Specter wasn’t referring to that.
    Instead, the Pennsylvania senator is demanding an inquiry into the New England Patriots’ secret videotaping of opposing NFL coaches’ signals on the sidelines — an affair sports writers have dubbed “Spygate.”
    We are not making this up. Specter said such behavior, a violation of NFL rules, is damaging to the sport. Call it Specter’s own Patriot Act.
    “It’s really an insult to the people who follow it,” Specter said. He added that the Patriots “owe the public a lot more candor and a lot more accountability.”
    The league has fined the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick $750,000 each. The team’s video assistant has turned over to the NFL eight tapes of opposing coaches giving signals during games.
    Apparently real-world warrantless spying isn’t as egregious as snooping on opposing NFL coaches.
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/05/specter-demandi
    Slate, July, 2008
    • This week’s passage and enactment of the FISA amendments (H.R. 6304) was not without controversy (obviously), but I was particularly struck by an aspect of the story that’s received remarkably little attention: Sen. Arlen Specter sponsored an amendment (S.Amdt.5059) to the particularly controversial grant of immunity to telecoms that had worked with NSA; under his amendment, such immunity would have been contingent upon a court’s determination that the telecom’s activities were “provided in connection with an intelligence activity that violated the Constitution of the United States.”
    What a spectacle: a United States Senator — a former prosecutor and the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, no less! — effectively declared himself to be incapable of determining what the Constitution does and does not proscribe. (Of course, Senator Specter was not alone: 37 senators voted for his ill-conceived amendment.)
    Specter’s attempt to pass the buck on this constitutional question should disturb both proponents and critics of the NSA surveillance activities at issue. That said, and as I’ve noted previously, Senator Specter’s approach to the issue of the constitutionality of NSA surveillance activities is but one example of his tendency to (1) punt controversial issues to the courts, yet (2) loudly chastise the courts for “denigrat[ing] … congressional authority” when the politics winds suit the change in approach.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/convictions/archive/2008/07/10/arlen-specter-read-the-constitution-that-s-a-court-s-job-not-a-senator-s.aspx
    April 22, 2009
    In a written statement today Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Arlen Specter said he’s opposed to idea of an 9/11-type independent commission to investigate Bush administration torture memos, “because all of the facts are readily available to the Department of Justice.”
    “As I have said before, once the administration has a key to the front door, which they’ve had for several months, all they have to do is find the right filing cabinets and open them, which they’re already doing,” Specter said.
    Specter said he agreed with the president, “saying that we ought to be looking forward and that you shouldn’t prosecute people who operated in good faith relying on competent legal counsel.”
    firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/22/1903877.aspx

    Reply

  33. Franklin says:

    “It was also telling that Specter stated he would return donations in his official state — in the same breath he said “and I still oppose EFCA”
    correction “official state” should read “official statement”.

    Reply

  34. pauline says:

    Why would the Dems even want this guy? Politics is such a game!
    PBS interview, July, 2004:
    “I think that the 9/11 commission report, when added to the Senate Intelligence Committee documentation of the failures on Iraqi intelligence, and the fact, which we’ve known for a long time, that if everything had been under one umbrella, 9/11 could have been prevented, and then this critical factor, we are a nation at risk now.
    The director of the FBI and the secretary of homeland security have both told us to expect an al-Qaida attack between now and the election. So we tend to put it out of our mind. . .it is so ominous, but I think the Congress has a duty. We should have done this a long time ago, but now those confluence of factors, I think, are leading us to some action. And I agree with what Senator Lieberman has said. We have a lot of experience and a lot of expertise. I chaired the intelligence committee in the 104th Congress, and we really know what ought to be done. “
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec04/plan_07-30.html
    The Hill 3/7/08
    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) does not have the fall-back option of running as an independent should he lose his 2010 primary election, giving the senior lawmaker strong incentive to abandon his party this year.
    Specter faces an extremely difficult primary race against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the conservative firebrand who lost his bid to oust Specter from his seat in the 2004 GOP primary by a mere 17,000 votes (out of more than a million cast).
    Pennsylvania political experts say that Specter would likely face a more difficult challenge in 2010 because the Republican primary electorate in Pennsylvania has become more conservative.
    “I think he has a lot of problems,” said Terry Madonna, a professor of political science at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “I think this is the test of lifetime.”
    Madonna estimated that between 150,000 to 200,000 centrist Republicans switched registration to the Democratic Party in the 2008 election cycle, leaving the remaining GOP electorate more conservative.
    The Pennsylvania Department of State reported more than 130,000 switches from the GOP to the Democratic Party before the 2008 primary contest between President Obama and former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
    The massive exodus of centrist-leaning voters from the Pennsylvania GOP leaves Specter’s right flank extremely vulnerable — fiscal and social conservatives have long viewed him as a bête noire.
    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/spector-faces-make-or-break-decision-as-challenge-looms-2009-03-07.html
    May 14, 2008
    Arlen Specter, the Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday demanded an independent investigation into “Spygate.”
    The announcement came three years after it was first disclosed President Bush had authorized a secret electronic eavesdropping program on Americans without warrants in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
    But Specter wasn’t referring to that.
    Instead, the Pennsylvania senator is demanding an inquiry into the New England Patriots’ secret videotaping of opposing NFL coaches’ signals on the sidelines — an affair sports writers have dubbed “Spygate.”
    We are not making this up. Specter said such behavior, a violation of NFL rules, is damaging to the sport. Call it Specter’s own Patriot Act.
    “It’s really an insult to the people who follow it,” Specter said. He added that the Patriots “owe the public a lot more candor and a lot more accountability.”
    The league has fined the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick $750,000 each. The team’s video assistant has turned over to the NFL eight tapes of opposing coaches giving signals during games.
    Apparently real-world warrantless spying isn’t as egregious as snooping on opposing NFL coaches.
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/05/specter-demandi
    Slate, July, 2008
    • This week’s passage and enactment of the FISA amendments (H.R. 6304) was not without controversy (obviously), but I was particularly struck by an aspect of the story that’s received remarkably little attention: Sen. Arlen Specter sponsored an amendment (S.Amdt.5059) to the particularly controversial grant of immunity to telecoms that had worked with NSA; under his amendment, such immunity would have been contingent upon a court’s determination that the telecom’s activities were “provided in connection with an intelligence activity that violated the Constitution of the United States.”
    What a spectacle: a United States Senator — a former prosecutor and the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, no less! — effectively declared himself to be incapable of determining what the Constitution does and does not proscribe. (Of course, Senator Specter was not alone: 37 senators voted for his ill-conceived amendment.)
    Specter’s attempt to pass the buck on this constitutional question should disturb both proponents and critics of the NSA surveillance activities at issue. That said, and as I’ve noted previously, Senator Specter’s approach to the issue of the constitutionality of NSA surveillance activities is but one example of his tendency to (1) punt controversial issues to the courts, yet (2) loudly chastise the courts for “denigrat[ing] … congressional authority” when the politics winds suit the change in approach.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/convictions/archive/2008/07/10/arlen-specter-read-the-constitution-that-s-a-court-s-job-not-a-senator-s.aspx
    April 22, 2009
    In a written statement today Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Arlen Specter said he’s opposed to idea of an 9/11-type independent commission to investigate Bush administration torture memos, “because all of the facts are readily available to the Department of Justice.”
    “As I have said before, once the administration has a key to the front door, which they’ve had for several months, all they have to do is find the right filing cabinets and open them, which they’re already doing,” Specter said.
    Specter said he agreed with the president, “saying that we ought to be looking forward and that you shouldn’t prosecute people who operated in good faith relying on competent legal counsel.”
    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/22/1903877.aspx

    Reply

  35. Franklin says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how substantive this move really is.
    If Specter is serious about winning a Democratic primary in 2010 he needs to demonstrate more than a fleeting support with the party’s agenda. He’s still against EFCA. He still opposes the Obama OLC nominee (which is even more bizarre).
    Even if Specter consistently votes against Democratic measures will he at least work to avert GOP sponsored filibusters?
    Given Specter’s opportunism, I get the sense that I’ll probably be anting up for his Democratic challenger in the 2010 primary — even if the DSCC for some bizarre reason takes sides in the contest.
    It was also telling that Specter stated he would return donations in his official state — in the same breath he said “and I still oppose EFCA”. In other words, Big Business, please don’t abandon me like the social conservatives have.
    Specter’s main principle, like a number of politicians, is loyalty first and foremost to his political career.

    Reply

  36. Cyn says:

    Maybe it’s insane, but I’m beginning to think the only way for the Republican Party to find any relevancy and to come out of the political wilderness is to go left of the Dems. Doubtful, yes, but it would wash the stench of the Limbaugh’s and Cheney’s off of them.

    Reply

  37. rich says:

    Note who gets shut out in this formulation.
    Any prospective candidate able to ignite an already energized electorate in the Democratic primary, and move things even marginally to the Democratic wing, may well be shut out in this scenario. Reid & party-line Dems may be closing Establishment ranks with Specter against the likely win of a more progressive Democratic nominee–who would win. Washington Monthly reports just such an agreement to refuse official party support of Dem candidates challenging Specter.
    gypsy — I agree with your observations about the stark difference between Mr. Specter’s words and actions, an unmistakable pattern that goes unmentioned here at TWN. Specter’s el-foldo routine on non-negotiable principles is performed to preserve that same Establishment status quo that has so badly damaged the country over the past couple decades. It’s Theater of the Absurd. But the enormity of the poor judgment that arrangement required, along with the inevitable consequences, has been exposed on a rolling basis–and there’s no ignoring the cat vomit on the Judiciary Committee’s rug.
    Did I say cat vomit? I meant torture. And reape. And death squads. Funny thing about the rule of law, Arlen .. .

    Reply

  38. gypsy howell says:

    I don’t see this as good news for anyone except Specter.
    PA will still be without true democratic representation. Specter will
    still play his usual games – holding forth for the news conferences
    on his “principled stand du jour” and then folding like wet laundry
    when it actually comes to a vote. Now he’ll be another Fox News
    Democrat, whining every Sunday about how far left his new
    democratic party is, and undermining everything democrats stand
    for.
    This is terrible news for everyone but Specter, and his soulmates
    the Blue Dog obstructionists.

    Reply

  39. daCascadian says:

    Show me.
    Yep, before any celebrating over this I’ll wait and see if Mr. Specter
    actually puts his votes where his mouth is. And not just one or
    three votes either but a long list.
    “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, it’s what we
    know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

    Reply

  40. TonyForesta says:

    Specter has been an occasional contrarian, and moderate on some issues, (Iraq, torture, warrantless sypying on Americans) – but for him to make the epic choice in this environment to switch parties, (note not independent) is earthshattering. There must be some issue within the GOP leadership covens and cabals that forced Specter to make this radical move. I’m very curious what compelled this switch.
    It is a great day for Democrats and in my opinion the nation, – because now the Democrats are one step closer, (as soon and Franklin is seated) to having the 60 votes necessary to stomp out gop obstructionism.
    Bravo Arlen Specter

    Reply

  41. rich says:

    Steve, I have no doubt Specter will vote the way he wishes — I disagree that a conscience tilts after switching parties, rather than before. Plenty of time over the past eight years for Specter to find his conscience. This is a survival tactic, not an act of conscience. Switching now confers certain benefits.
    Everyone knows what’s happened to the Pennsylvania electorate. But staying in Congress isn’t Specter’s only motivation.
    Susan Collins found it immensely rewarding to hold up the much-needed stimulus bill–stripping funding for pandemic prevention and research–ripping it as partisan and non-stimulative, both obviously false statements. Susan Collins is no moderate, and her role juxtaposed against the swine flu outbreak exposes her pretense of responsiblity.
    Specter too will play up his moderate image, bolstering with new Dem credentials his ‘man of conscience’ routine. Yet watch what he does; see if it is consistent with our values or displays any moderation. Many a legislator hijacks the process to get something done. Let’s see what Specter actually does: I’ve yet to hear any authentic swing in his views of what this country’s been put through for eight years. Mumblemumble just doesn’t cut it.

    Reply

  42. WigWag says:

    This is excellent news for anyone who cares about health insurance reform and about “Card-Check.” Before he switched parties, Specter said he would reluctantly oppose it (he had supported “card-check” in the past). As a Democrat, Specter will almost certainly support “card-check.”
    It’s like Christmas in May!
    I do wonder what Anita Hill makes of all of this.

    Reply

  43. pacos_gal says:

    So did Specter get the green light that the way will be cleared for him to run as the Democrat candidate against what I suspect will be Toomey for the Republicans?
    If so, and with the moderate republicans who switched parties in Penn during the presidential election, then it is reasonable to think that Specter could win in Penn as a Dem.
    Republicans have been doing themselves a great deal of damage lately by embracing the far right wing of the party, leaving moderates with no place to go.

    Reply

  44. Steve Clemons says:

    Frank C — Specter has said that he will continue to vote his conscience. His conscience will now tilt more towards the Dems than the Republicans, which is why he is doing this — and also why we will see fewer real filibusters. There will be exceptions — no doubt — but Specter isn’t joining the Dems and running as a Dem just to be a cantankerous republican….all best, steve

    Reply

  45. Frank C. says:

    Steve, wake up. 60 is an illusion. This makes nearly no difference to the Democrats’ ability to enact the popular Obama agenda. Unless he says so, Specter will still vote the same, he’s a moderate Republican.
    Democrats would be much better off getting a real Democrat as nominee, who would handily beat Twomey or any other hard-right winger that the PA R’s will nominate.

    Reply

  46. rich says:

    As long as we’re not ALL required to ice-skate in hell, I’m fine with it.
    If Arlen Specter has changed his stripes, then hell has frozen over. Meaning that Specter’s habitual compulsion to pay lip-service to basic Constitutional principle but immediately follow up with a swift el-foldo routine that contradicts his own words on the actual vote, well, that shuck-n-jive act’s grown real thin.
    This is DINO-mite. Emphasis on the ‘mite’. It’s a survival tactic. Anything different in Specter’s outlook is of microscopic significance. That is, unless Specter does an about-face on the fundamental issues facing this country for the past 8 and the next 8 years, most of which he’s already had his shot at dealing with as courageously and with as much integrity as he could muster.
    So, who has seniority? Hasn’t Leahy been in the Senate a bit longer?
    Seriously, this is about survival. He could vote with the Dems now if that’s the issue; doing more damage from within is about his speed.

    Reply

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