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Democratic Committee Meeting

Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Politicians Who Met Lady Luck in 2010

In a year when Lady Luck seemed to desert the nation's most prominent political leaders, a few found the pot of gold under the rainbow, some in big fashion.     Overall, Republicans were the luckiest considering how pundits like James Carville greeted President Obama's election with predictions that the Democrats would control Washington for the next 40 years.     In case you haven't heard Carville missed his prediction by more than a country mile.    But some Democrats escaped disaster.      So for this year it's a bipartisan collection of the five luckiest politicians of 2010.
1.      Scott Brown.    The Massachusetts Republican shocked everyone by taking the Senate seat left after the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Better yet, he ended his first year in the Senate with polls showing him leading several potential foes in 2012 in the heavily Democratic state. Brown crosses the isle on a regular basis to support the Obama agenda.

2.      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevadan was targeted by the GOP, his Senate Republican foes, and a well-organized Tea Party movement.     His state suffered among the worst in the economic downturn.     But the wily ex-boxer pulled off a stunning comeback to win re-election.

3.      Sen. Lisa Murkowski.     The Alaskan senator was left for dead when she lost in her GOP primary to newbie Joe Miller.     But a well organized write-in campaign that taught state voters how to spell her name exactly was too much for Miller to hold back.     Miller on the advice of Norm Coleman will keep the protest going until climate change brings Alaskians a 5 month summer.

4.      Vice President Joe Biden.     The veep has had a great year, but seemed to be at the short end of rumors that he would be pushed aside to make room for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Biden kept his head up, brushed off the rumors and was eventually endorsed by Obama and the media-hyped threats to his position died down.     Clinton is favorably viewed even amongst Obama democrats.

5.      Sarah Palin.    The former Alaska governor proved her critics wrong by getting rich selling books while expanding her influence especially through the Tea Party movement.     She's also become a reality TV show figure on Sarah Palin's Alaska and in one show shrugged off a few unlucky shots to take a majestic caribou.     Sarah's newest mission is keeping fat unhealthy kids fat and unhealthy by making sure they continue to get their eating advice from the source it comes from now.


Alaska Election Results:
Murkowski To Be Sworn-In, Judge Rejects Miller Lawsuit
The Lady had a close shave, the also ran candidate needs one.

About two months ago the midterm elections ended for most of the United States with the exception of Joe Miller doing his best Norm Coleman sore loser impression.     Knowing how much tea partiers and Miller hate federal judges I know they are happy that the court has rejected their claims and let the will of the people stand.

JUNEAU, Alaska — A Federal Judge on Tuesday dismissed a Lawsuit by Republican Joe Miller and lifted a stay on certification of Alaska's U.S. Senate election, clearing the way for Sen. Lisa Murkowski to officially be declared the winner later this week.

The rulings by U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline mean Alaska state officials will likely certify the November Election Results either Wednesday or Thursday.

That would allow Murkowski to be sworn in when the new term of Congress convenes Jan 3rd., and make her the first U.S. Senate candidate since 1954 to win with a write-in campaign.

Fairbanks attorney and would-be totalitarian strongman Joe Miller apparently will not try to perform a citizens arrest on Lisa Murkowski.    He will, however, take her to federal court for having the audacity to defeat him in the general election after losing the August 24 primary in a write-in campaign.

Never mind that it was the Tea Party that originally came in to steal Murkowski’s seat out from under her.

We all remember Karl Rove’s judgment:

“Absolutely no she can’t win.     Under the law, you have to carefully spell the name exactly correct, now everyone go to your pencil and paper and write the name ‘Murkowski’ and see if you got it right.”

“No, she’s going to lose,” he said.

And Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) used a Tea Party fundraiser to call her a “big-tent hypocrite” and said she had betrayed the conservative cause.     Republican cannibalism at its best – or worst.

But she didn’t lose.     She outraged the Tea Party by actually winning.

And what neither Karl Rove nor Joe Miller (nor, most certainly, Sarah Palin) reckoned on was the innate fairness of the process.     The state Division of Elections established guidelines before counting even began that the voter’s intent had to count when writing-in a vote.

God forbid fairness should enter into the democratic process. “We can’t have that!” the Tea Party says.

So Miller lost fair and square.    That’s the verdict of the Alaska Supreme Court, the law of the land.     But that is Joe Miler’s whining lament:  she cheated!     Egads, people misspelled her name.     Has she no shame claiming the victory?

The Alaskan Supreme Court ruled against him.     The message from the voters was “You lost, Joe.”     The message from the highest court in the state was the same:  “You lost, Joe.”

“There are no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified.”
But Joe claims that the sanctity of the election process is at stake. Meaning, he can’t possibly have lost.     Perhaps God promised him a victory or something.     After all, he promised one to Sarah Palin too on the eve of the ’08 Election Day.

Apparently, those nasty feds aren’t so nasty when Joe’s victory is at stake.     To hell with the State of Alaska.     What do the feds say? Does the Tea Party have no shame, throwing the state under the bus and trying to trump with the federal courts?

Did the world just turn upside down?

I’m unclear as to how losing an election fair and square violates the sanctity of the democratic process but then, I’ve never performed a citizens arrest on somebody who asked me a question.

For the record, this is Joe’s reasoning:

“After careful consideration and seeking the counsel of people whose opinion I respect and trust, I have decided that the federal case must go forward.     The integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard.     Nevertheless, I have also decided to withdraw our opposition to the certification of the election, ensuring that Alaska will have its full delegation seated when the 112th Congress convenes next month.”

What a guy. Such a gesture of magnanimity!

There really wasn’t much magnanimity evident in Joe’s official protest.     As his spokesman Randy DeSota said on Wednesday,  “We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment.”

Of course, the Alaskan Supreme Court made just that ruling, that state law had not been violated.     End of story.    Not so, says Joe.

Of course, none of this surprises Lisa Murkowski, who has already been exposed to the limitless, mindless hate and nihilism of Tea Party politics.     Her campaign fully expected Joe Miller to be a big crybaby.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this whole situation is that with or without the contested votes, Joe Miller has lost.    Murkowski ended up with a lead of 10,328 votes.     Joe says 8,159 of those votes can’t count.     Even without them, however, Lisa Murkowski still has a 2,169 vote lead.

There is a great deal wrong with this picture. There is the Republican betrayal of Lisa Murkowski later reinterpreted as a betrayal by Lisa Murkowski, another Sarah Palin demagogue who like Christine O’Donnell showed himself completely unequal to the office to which he sought election (a real chip off the old block), and then, when the people had spoken, when the State of Alaska had spoken, these Tea Party tenthers turn around and appeal to the hated feds to overturn the state.     We’ll leave aside for the moment the sheer childishness of Miller’s position on this. What does he do for an encore?    Hold his breath?

No, take your medicine Joe.    In Palin-speak, find your cojones and man up.   Vox populi: The people have spoken.   Isn’t that supposed to be what the Tea Party is all about?    But it isn’t, is it Joe?    It’s not about what the people want:  it’s about what you want, what Sarah Palin wants, what Christine O’Donnell wants – a free lunch.

ACVDN wishes you a Happy New Year

Regular meetings will resume in February, weather premitting.    We hope to greet you there.     Follow ACVDN for meeting  dates, times and special info about the Amherst County Democratic Committee

ACV Democratic News

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Who Owns The GOP?

First, the one group with absolutely no control is the Republican National Committee led by Michael Steele.    He can’t even control his own mouth.     He told the truth twice, and has paid a heavy price for it.     No one sends Steele money anymore, not even for those alleged occasional Los Angeles bondage club visits.     Never mind winning elections.
Ann Wagner, one of six candidates seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, is promising not to support Chairman Michael Steele under any circumstance if she happens to come up short in her bid to lead the organization.

The former Missouri GOP Chairwoman and onetime Ambassador to Luxembourg told CNN that she will "absolutely not" endorse Steele or tell her supporters to do so if she fails to make it to the final round of what is likely to be a multi-ballot election come January.

The most recent RNC election, in January 2009, lasted through six rounds of balloting before Steele was declared the winner.     Along the way, the losers cut deals and endorsed candidates who were perceived to have momentum.

Wagner called on her rivals not to back Steele if history begins to repeat itself.     "I would ask any of the candidates out there to not to move any of their support to Michael Steele, regardless of the outcome of any one individual,"  she said.

While affirming that she is "in the race to win it," Wagner said numerous committee members have, in the course of their conversations, asked her not to back Steele if she fails to advance to the late stages of the election.

"I have made that commitment to many of the men and women who have asked me that," Wagner said.    "They want a new direction, a new leadership. That's my commitment."

Steele and Wagner are running against Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins, Michigan committeeman Saul Anuzis, and former Bush administration official Maria Cino.

Also Monday, Wagner picked up the backing of two West Virginia committee members - Jim Reed and Donna Lou Gosney, meaning she can now officially be nominated for the chairmanship.

Each state is represented on the RNC by three people:   the state GOP chair and two national committee members.    To stand for the chairmanship, a candidate must count on two-thirds support from three different states.     Wagner has now crossed that crucial threshold in West Virginia, Tennessee and her home state of Missouri.

Cino also earned a burst of momentum over the weekend by announcing endorsements from New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox, Delaware committeewoman Priscilla Rakestraw and Minnesota committeewoman Evie Axdahl. The RNC members are the first to publicly line up behind Cino.


Here's something to think about.  The republicans just won a huge victory and cleaned the democrats clocks yet the
republicans are dissatisfied with the RNC leadership and will most likely replace Steel as chairman.  On the other hand the democrats are replacing Nobody and changing Nothing.

Do democrats ever learn anything from the hardships life sends their way?

Many people consider the Republicans a wholly owned subsidiary of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has poured umpty-three million dollars into the 2010 midterms.   Who controls the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?   The ownership seems split between China and Dubai, with a minority share in the hands of multinational oil, banking and chemical corporations.

But the ownership shares fluctuate as the sellout price of the GOP varies according to the latest polls.    And think of the foreign currency exchange headaches – do you buy a Republican senator in euros or yen?

Some loyal American groups, like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, are trying to compete with the foreigners.

Crossroads has tossed umpty-FOUR million dollars into the kitty in its bid to buy the GOP, and feels it should be considered - at the very least - the management team controlling the Republican Party on behalf of the Chinese.

Oh, but the Kochs, the Texas oil zillionaires, beg to differ.    Having bought out rights to the Tea Party from Dick Armey and the Washington lobbyists who founded it, the Kochs and their group, Americans For Prosperity, have thrown their hat in the ring.

They argue quite persuasively that without the Tea Party, there would be no Republican Party, so all bids to buy GOP senators and congressman should be channeled through their Texas headquarters.

The truth is, the Republican Party is a big tent party. There is room for every billionaire bummed out by a pesky safety regulation, every billionaire xenophobe, and every billionaire tax cheat.

There just isn’t any room for regular everyday republicans but keep that a secret because thats just one of many things they don't know.

The state of ignorant bliss that the average republican lives in is amazing and the people who pull the strings at the GOP make Bernie Madoff look like a kid with a bicycle and a newspaper route.   Year after year the republican party delivers nothing but talk to the GOP masses who remain fat, dumb and happy while huge tax breaks go to the wealthy and business operates with no regulation.

I'll predict here that the big boys will be sorry they created the tea party and woke this sleeping dog.   Once these zombie republicans start to think there will be many old time leaders left bleeding on the side of the road, and thats a GOOD THING.   The destruction of the republican party has begun.

ACV Democratic News

Monday, December 27, 2010

112th United States Congress

The One Hundred Twelfth United States Congress is the next meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives.     It is scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C. from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2013, during what will be the third and fourth years of Barack Obama's presidency.     Senators elected to regular terms in 2006 will be in the last two years of those terms during this Congress.     This will be the last Congress elected from congressional districts that were apportioned based on the 2000 census.     In the November 2, 2010 elections, the Republican Party gained a majority in the House of Representatives, while the Democratic Party maintained a majority in the Senate, albeit reduced from the 111th Congress.

Last election Democrats were handed one of their biggest electoral setbacks in recent memory, losing 60-plus seats in the House, and another 7 in the Senate.     Locally it was out with Tom Perriello who was the hardest working congressman the 5th District of Virginia ever had.     What is this strange hold that republicans have on Virginia's 5th and 6th District.     It is not that republicans do anything for the people who live there.     Why do the voters turn out and vote for candidates who do not represent their interest? How can the people be fooled over and over?     How can people who barely make a living continue to support a party that stands up only for the rich?

Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, lost his bid for reelection.     He faced an arduous challenge.     He was narrowly elected in 2008 in a district designed by Virginia Republicans to be GOP-friendly territory.     He worked hard as soon as he hit the House to bring jobs to his district.     He was no down-the-line liberal.      He supported gun rights (a big plus in his largely rural district) and backed the anti-abortion Stupak amendment during the health care reform fight (another plus for his Bible-Beltish turf). More important, he was truly a populist Democrat.     He supported President Barack Obama on health care and the stimulus, but he decried the administration's embrace of conventional corporatist economics symbolized by Larry Summers, whom he routinely slammed.     He was a possible model for other Democrats looking to succeed in conservative but economically distressed areas.

Perriello was a proficient fundraiser.     But from the moment he entered the House, corporate and conservative groups targeted him, launching a steady blitz of negative ads against him.     In a difficult year for Democrats in a difficult district for Democrats, Perriello fought hard—and he was the one House member for whom Obama campaigned—but in a Republican district he couldn't survive the double wave of anti-Washington sentiment and outside GOP big money.     His defeat was a tough loss for progressive Democrats.

Life will change dramatically for hundreds of returning House lawmakers and thousands of their staffers as the Republicans claim majority status in the 112th Congress and Democrats settle into the minority.

The change will not just be political.    It will also mean significant lifestyle and workplace adjustments for nearly everybody who works in the House.

The Republicans’ workweek will become substantially longer, their families will see less of them and their offices will take a different — more chaotic — tone, with lobbyists and constituents streaming through their doors, according to more than a dozen lawmakers and staffers from both parties who have worked on Capitol Hill for a decade or more.

Likewise, Democrats will be able to enjoy longer lunches but also have to put up with bosses who are in the office more, since they won’t have as much committee work to attend to, they say.     The bright side:   a lightened workload that comes with rejecting policy, as opposed to crafting it.

“There’s a real burden or obligation or responsibility on the majority that the minority doesn’t have, and it’s reflected all the way from top to bottom,” says Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who has served in the minority for most of his 16 years in office.    In January, he will take over as chairman of the House Administration Committee.

“It’s the difference in boxing between being a reactive puncher and a puncher,” Lungren says. “There’s a lot of nitty-gritty stuff that not only goes to members, but staff as well, like just pure scheduling.”

Twenty-six-year House veteran Howard Coble (R-N.C.) agrees that the workload for both lawmakers and staffers is lighter in the minority because it’s more reactionary.

“When you’re in the minority, it’s a lot easier to hit that red button,” Coble says. “It’s a lot easier to come out ‘no’ on an issue. When you’re in the majority, it’s not quite that comfortable.”

A Republican aide to another longtime member put it more bluntly, saying the duties of a minority staffer aren’t nearly as pressing as the workload of those in the majority.

“Let me say it like this:  If you’re down in Longworth having lunch with co-workers and you need to take an extra 30 minutes, nine times out of 10, the boss isn’t going to frown on that,” the staffer says.

But the minority party doesn’t necessarily get to slack off, several longtime Democratic and Republican staffers say.

“It’s just a different sort of work,” a Democratic aide says.    “You have to follow very closely what the other party is doing and make sure that you’re on top of your response to an issue when they pivot.”

As for members, a big shift in time-management occurs when committee chairmen become ranking members.     As the current head of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) expects he’ll spend more time in his district and with his personal-office staff next year.

“They’ll probably be tickled to see me more,” he says of his staff. “Physically I’ll be more present in my district rather than looking at issues along the border and all over the country. I’ll have more time to deal with constituent work.”

As Republican lawmakers begin to focus on their committee duties, staff in their personal offices will not have as much access to them; simultaneously, those staffers will take the lead on the details of constituent work and writing legislation.     The shift in dynamics forces staff to take a more assertive role.

“You become much more autonomous as an office,” a veteran Democratic staffer says.     “When we came back in the majority [in 2007] after 12 years of not being in it, it was like the difference from being in college to going to grad school.     The boss isn’t around as much to give you a guiding hand.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who has served for four years in both the majority and the minority, agrees, adding that he has talked with staffers about the impact their new role will have.

“You have to reorient your staff and … say, ‘Hey this stuff could become law now,’ ”   Cole says.

Though they have hated it politically, several Republican staffers say, on a personal level, they’ve been OK with being in the minority the past four years because it’s given them more time to be with family and friends.

“I let family know [after Election Day] that I won’t be as available as I have been over the past couple years,” one Republican aide says. “I just know it’s going to be a heavy lift, and that’s going to take its toll on the personal side.”

Something as basic as a lawmaker’s office traffic often changes as well.     Minority offices usually see fewer constituent, lobbying and media requests simply because they don’t set the tone for the chamber, Cole says.

“You get a lot fewer visitors,” he says. “The reality is you’re not in the middle of decisions as much as you were.     The other side has the initiative, and, frankly, you have more influence in the majority.”

Several Democratic aides say they’ve already noticed a downturn in foot traffic and phone calls.     Most say they’ve tried to use the shift as an opportunity to focus on a few key legislative areas instead of aiming to affect a broad range of issues.

“Where one door closes, another one opens,” a Democratic staffer says. “In the minority, you really have to pick and choose where you want to leave your mark. And if you work hard enough at it, you really can [affect policy] on a smaller scale.”

Political tides can turn quickly, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) advises lawmakers and aides in the minority not to take their diminished status personally.     They might not have as many friends as they did when they were in the majority, but the 38-year veteran says minority lawmakers have the opportunity to develop longer-lasting political relationships that could be more fruitful anyway.

“It’s amazing how many more acquaintances you have when you’re in the majority and how quick those acquaintances leave when you cease to be in the majority,” he says. “I try to remind staff once in a while that this wheel is turning, so they shouldn’t seek revenge for those who treated them badly … because it can come back to bite you.”

ACV Democratic News

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sarah From Alaska

Her oddities, spectacles, galas, extravaganzas, and events tickled the fancies, hearts, minds and imaginations of republicans and tea partiers of all ages as they dreamed she would rule their worlds from her perch as John McCains VP but it was not to be.     As PT Barnum is reputed to have said there is a sucker born every minute but the McCain-Palin team came up about 14 Million suckers light and the white house went to the Hope team.     McCain desended into a funk of nastiness opposing everything he had once stood for and Palin in the role of actor, sideshow performer, hunter and clown took to selling the public anything that they would pay her money for.    The tea party dream would not die.

Now An Excerpt from "Sarah From Alaska" -- a New Book Telling the Inside Story of Palin's Campaign for VP

THE OVERPOWERING SMELL OF cheeseburgers and French fries saturated the candidate's suite at the Philadelphia Westin Hotel.     About a dozen staffers shuffled around the table set up in the middle of the room where hundreds upon hundreds of five-by-seven-inch note cards were spread out in two-foot-high stacks.     Palin had been locked in there for hours, cramming for her debate against Joe Biden.     The biggest test of the campaign was less than a week away.

On the heels of the first round of Katie Couric interviews, her margin for error was nonexistent.     Joe Lieberman, a veteran of a previous vice presidential debate, had been brought in to give Palin an idea of what to expect.     The stifling air shortened everyone's patience, and tensions were running especially high between debate prep coordinator Mark Wallace and foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann.     It was the note cards that had first led to the longstanding feud between Wallace and Scheunemann a couple of weeks earlier.     One of the aides wanted Palin to memorize them, while the other thought it better for her to learn conceptually.     The spat made it all the way up the chain to Steve Schmidt, who told Scheunemann in no uncertain terms that he did not have the time for bickering between staffers and that they needed to
sort it out.     But the two men were still fuming at one another, and negative vibes permeated the room along with the smell of greasy food.
At the end of one cram session, Palin asked her advisers to run through the various trade agreements, including "who's in NAFTA, who's in CAFTA," and so forth.     It seemed an unremarkable request at the time.     The advisers knew that the governor was, in fact, aware that the NAFTA treaty included the United States, Canada, and Mexico.     But someone in the room with a penchant for whispering to reporters was taking mental notes.     Come November, the anonymous source would pass Palin's words along as part of a concerted effort to advance the exaggerated narrative that her handlers had been stymied in their heroic, yet futile, efforts to educate an ignoramus.

Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, and domestic policy adviser Becky Tallent arrived in Philadelphia by train on Sunday, September 28.     It was clear by the time they set foot in the suffocating hotel suite on the third full day of debate prep that a dramatic change was needed.     Schmidt and Davis had already spoken to John McCain, who agreed to offer up his sprawling Sedona ranch.     It did not take much persuasion to convince Palin of the benefits of moving the operation to the desert compound, where she could work in her shorts and T-shirt with her family by her side.     Schmidt realized that the candidate would benefit from having a more condensed circle of aides to brief her, so he sent some of the staffers who had been with her in Philadelphia ahead to the debate site at St. Louis.     Others who did travel to Sedona were barred from McCain's compound and had to remain at the hotel.
Palin and her downsized contingent of advisers arrived in Arizona the next afternoon.     On the first evening of their stay, one of her aides spoke privately to the governor about the importance of speaking in her own voice, rather than regurgitating talking points handed down from the Washington insiders who ran the campaign, all of whom were white males.     It was one piece of advice that Palin took to heart.

The preparations were kept informal except for two timed reenactments in which debate conditions were replicated, including the exact distance between the podiums.     Randy Scheunemann had flown in to play Joe Biden, an acting role that the archconservative seemed born to play.     Scheunemann had sat through years of Biden's speeches during his time working for two Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he knew the Delaware senator's mannerisms well.     Palin struggled to keep a straight face as Scheunemann peppered his performance with "God love ya"s and "literally"s and shifted between long-winded discourses on everything from the war in Iraq to his own mother.     A former National Rifle Association lobbyist, Scheunemann as Biden delivered a passionate screed on banning assault rifles.     When he waxed poetic on the issue of gay marriage, some of the aides looking on from the sidelines gave up on trying to maintain decorum and burst out laughing.     At the end of the ninety-minute session, they broke out into spontaneous applause.     Palin's keen memory for detail had manifested itself in her very first formal rehearsal, and she had done even better than they had hoped she would.
The next day, the group decided to move the debate operation outdoors so that they could take full advantage of the beautiful Sedona weather.     The new environment continued to have a calming effect on Palin and everyone around her.     Gone were the endless stacks of note cards and claustrophobic atmosphere that plagued the operation in Philadelphia.     Palin looked refreshed as she stood behind her podium in a baseball cap and T-shirt.     As evening shadows crept across the well-manicured grass, Cindy McCain came out from the house to address the group.     She insisted that all toil must end at an appointed hour of 5 P.M., when everyone was to convene for wine and cheese.     There were no arguments.

When Palin nailed a second ninety-minute mock debate, everyone was optimistic about the real thing, which was coming up the next day.     By the time she and her aides left the ranch for St. Louis, their confidence was high enough that the hottest topic under discussion was whether the governor should wear blue or black.     In the end, she went with black.     The background, after all, would be blue.

Just minutes before the candidates shook hands on stage in St. Louis, Palin collected her thoughts in a room as she was joined by three top McCain advisers and her longtime Alaska aide Kris Perry.     "Be still in the presence of the Lord!"     Perry called out, as Palin bowed her head and prayed.
Palin would give her own version of this event several months later in a speech at a Republican Party dinner in Alaska.     "So, I'm looking around for somebody to pray with.     I just need maybe a little help, maybe a little extra," she said.     "And the McCain campaign, love 'em, you know-there are a lot of people around me, but nobody I could find that I wanted to hold hands with and pray."

The remark drew laughter at the dinner but consternation among some former campaign aides, especially the ones who recalled that she had, in fact, deemed them worthy enough companions with whom to pray.     On the surface, Palin's remark seemed like a harmless, humorous aside.     But to some of the staffers who had spent two months of their lives working around the clock to try to get her elected, it was hurtful.     The comment marked a turning point for several campaign operatives who had defended her up to that point but began to wonder about her willingness to exploit their relationship for political gain.     "I was initially upset.     I think a lot of people were," said one former senior aide who still speaks frequently to other staffers who continued to support Palin through difficult times.     "I think that somebody in the group spoke up and said, 'It's not directed at us.'"     Still, the aide wondered how the comment could have been allowed to run wild in the news cycle without any clarification from Palin.     "Why are people letting her go out and give speeches like this?     And why are people not getting ahead of this when she says something like this?"

But all of that was much further down the road.     In St. Louis on the night of October 2, the governor's aides looked on approvingly as Palin took the stage and made it immediately clear that she intended to showcase her confidence and personality instead of sparring with Biden over specific details of policy-a fight she could not possibly be expected to win.     "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear," she declared with a bright smile.     "But I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record, also."

There were a few moments that came perilously close to flashbacks of the Katie Couric interviews, such as Palin's response to moderator Gwen Ifill's question about whether any trigger would justify the use of nuclear weapons.     "Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet," she said (mostly the end-all, as Palin-bashing columnist Maureen Dowd gleefully pointed out in a postdebate column).

All in all, however, Palin performed competently and avoided major gaffes.     The Republican candidate winked and "darn righted" her way through the debate, delighting her admirers and infuriating her detractors in a predictable way.     She was particularly effective in using her methodically unaffected speaking style to break down into simple terms the lessons the country could learn from the economic crisis.     "Let's commit ourselves, just everyday American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say, 'Never again,'" she said.     "Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars.     We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt."

Though Biden restrained himself from delivering any of the over-the-top diatribes for which Randy Scheunemann had prepared her, Palin told a confidante after the debate that she'd had a hard time reigning in her smile because the real candidate sounded so much like Scheunemann.     Surprisingly, it was the Democrat who struck the most poignant note of the evening when he choked up recalling the death of his first wife and daughter in a car accident that also nearly took the lives of his two sons.
Still, the aides who prepared Palin for the debate were uniformly pleased with her performance.     Before a local late-night rally scheduled to keep the momentum going, Palin's inner circle opened a bottle of champagne and toasted the candidate.     Feeding off the adrenaline, Palin approached a small group of aides and made a pitch to start bringing up on the campaign trail Barack Obama's ties to his controversial former preacher, Jeremiah Wright.     John McCain wanted desperately to become the nation's next president, but not at the expense of facing the inevitable accusations of racial exploitation if he made Wright an issue.     She knew quite well about the decree that he had months earlier laid out to everyone involved in the campaign:  no one was to touch the controversy. Still, Palin could not understand why she should be held to the rule.

"I just don't want to go back to Alaska," she said in an offhanded comment that would later seem prescient.

Several polls showed that both the general electorate and undecided voters thought Biden had won the debate, although most pundits declared that Palin had exceeded expectations.     But with McCain unable to gain any traction against Obama in the presidential debates, the campaign had needed Palin to do more than that.     Her performance did nothing to change the complexion of the race, the way her stirring convention speech had done a month earlier.

The day after the debate, Palin caused more headaches when she told Fox News's Carl Cameron that she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull resources out of Michigan, effectively ceding the state to Obama.     She had not been consulted on that critical move in the chess game, which leaked out in a report penned by the Politico's Jonathan Martin the previous afternoon.     "I fired off a quick e-mail and said, 'Oh, come on.     You know, do we have to?     Do we have to call it there?'" she told Cameron.     "I want to get back to Michigan, and I want to try."
The e-mail that Palin sent was, in fact, essentially how she described it to Cameron.     She wrote to her traveling staff and top McCain advisers, "If there's any time, Todd and I would love a quick return to Michigan-we'd tour the plants, etc. . . . If it does McC any good.     I know you have a plan, but I hate to see us leave Michigan.     We'll do whatever we had [sic] to do there to give it a 2nd effort."

A senior aide replied, "Michigan is out of reach unless something drastic happens.     We must win oh and hopefully pa."

Palin replied that she "got it," but her subsequent interview with Cameron had shown that she hadn't.     She acknowledged as much in a postinterview e-mail to senior staff, writing, "Oops-I mentioned something about that to Carl Cameron and it's now recorded that I'd love to give Michigan the ol' college try."    Later in the day, she tried once more.     "It's a cheap 4 hr drive from WI.     I'll pay for the gas," she wrote.

Though senior aides had firmly rejected her request, Palin continued to press them on it in the coming days and weeks.     A natural optimist but a novice when it came to national campaign strategy, she was inclined not to give up anywhere, much less on a state that had been a prime target for months.     She remembered the massive crowds that had greeted her and McCain in Macomb County the day after the convention ended and in Grand Rapids a couple of weeks later.     They were good, God-fearing, salt-of-the-earth people.     She figured that she could introduce them to her husband, who liked to ride snowmobiles and hunt, just like Michiganders did.     Her instincts told her that if she just had a chance to talk to some laid-off automobile workers face-to-face, she could convince them to vote Republican.

"I know what I know what I know."     She repeated that mantra to the people around her throughout the campaign.     Sometimes she was right, but her growing determination to do things her own way became a continuing headache for the campaign's strategists, who were more interested in polling data and documented fact than they were in the vice presidential candidate's instincts.
Palin sat in her hotel suite in Costa Mesa, California, on the night after the Cameron interview and began to muse with traveling staffers about what she could do to win back Michigan, despite top aides' firm decree that it was out of reach.     She was the candidate after all, and it was time for her to take more control over her own destiny.     What if they descended upon the state unannounced in the middle of the night and brought Jay Leno or David Letterman along to cover the triumphant surprise visit?     Several of her traveling aides loved the idea, as unorthodox as it sounded.     There was a growing consensus on the plane that the powers that be at headquarters were holding her back unwisely.     The late-night comedian idea was probably pushing it, but maybe they could wait until the next time they were in Ohio and commandeer the campaign bus at the end of the day's events.     They could drive it across the border into Michigan, hold a dramatic public appearance to draw in local media, then drive back to Ohio overnight in time for the next day's rallies.

Though many of her aides were on board with her sentiment, other campaign staffers were becoming irritated by how often she brought up her ideas for campaigning in Michigan.     There was a growing sense that the vice presidential plane was becoming a renegade operation, increasingly comfortable with acting on its own.     Rick Davis was so concerned about the possibility that the governor would ignore orders and travel to Michigan on her own that he attempted to order Secret Service agents to prevent it.     Of course, agents would have been obliged to follow the candidate wherever she decided to go.

The election of George W. Bush began the era of Republicans worshipping stupid people, Palin carries on what Bush began.

ACV Democratic News

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Merry Christmas from the White House

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year at the White House.

The White House truly feels like the “People’s House,” as folks of all ages from across the country pass through the halls enjoying the beautiful d├ęcor and celebrating the history here at every turn.

More than 100,000 visitors will come to the White House this holiday season, and we wanted to give everyone a chance to share in the magic of the White House during the holidays.

That’s why one of my favorite decorations this year is the Military Appreciation Tree where visitors can leave their holiday messages for our troops and their families, many of whom will spend this holiday season far away from their loved ones.    You can send your own season’s greetings to our men and women in uniform and our military families, as well as see all the holiday decorations and watch behind-the-scenes videos, on

This year’s White House theme, Simple Gifts, is a celebration of the simple things that bring joy during the holidays, like spending time with family and friends and serving those in need in our communities.     And it’s a reminder to us all, particularly in these trying times, that some of the greatest gifts in our lives are those that don’t cost a thing.

On behalf of Barack, Malia, Sasha, and Bo, I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday season.


Michelle Obama

First Lady of the United States

And This From The Virginia Democratic Party

Dear Friends and Amherst County Democrats

On behalf of the staff and our members here at the Democratic Party of Virginia, I want to wish you and your family a happy holiday season and a wonderful start to the New Year.

This is a time of year to take a moment and give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy.      Personally, I am thankful for my wonderful family and good friends and of course for the opportunity to serve you as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

As we prepare for another year, I am excited by the opportunities we have to advance our agenda, to elect good Democrats and to work in communities across the Commonwealth to uphold our strong values of fairness, justice and equality of opportunity for everyone.     I hope you will join me in learning from the challenges of 2010 and recommitting to make 2011 a successful year for our party and our Commonwealth.

In this holiday season I hope you have the chance to take a well-deserved break, spend quality time with friends and family and enjoy this most wonderful time of year.     Next year is just a few days away and we’re going to get right back to work getting Virginia moving forward again.

Once more, on behalf of the Democratic Party of Virginia, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a great new year.


Brian J. Moran

And From the staff at ACVDN

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The More You Watch The Less You Know

Fox News gets okay to misinform public in court ruling.   

This is a 7 year old story but it explains how Fox works.

Many news agencies lie and distort facts, not many have the guts to admit court...positioning the First Amendment as their defense!

The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, successfully argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.     We are pushing for a consumer protection solution that labels news content according to its adherence to ethical journalism standards that have been codified by the Society of Professional Journalists  (Ethics:

A News Quality Rating System and Content Labeling approach, follows a tradition of consumer protection product labeling, that is very familiar to Americans.      The ratings are anti-censorship and can benefit consumers.

Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.

On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization.     The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information.     The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to report the station's pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was "a false, distorted, or slanted" story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows.

The court did not dispute the heart of Akre's claim, that Fox pressured her to broadcast a false story to protect the broadcaster from having to defend the truth in court, as well as suffer the ire of irate advertisers.     Fox argued from the first, and failed on three separate occasions, in front of three different judges, to have the case tossed out on the grounds there is no hard, fast, and written rule against deliberate distortion of the news.

The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.

In its six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion is only a "policy," not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation.      Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was "totally vindicated" by the verdict.

Fox defended its right to distort and lie in court and it won.     If you know someone who gets all their news from Fox please urge them to read this.     We have great problems in our country and solving them will be hard under any set of conditions.     If groups of our citizens are being spoon fed lies then reaching solutions becomes even harder if not impossible.     If they would only mix the Fox propoganda with a little real news then their minds would start to function again.     They might even find that they prefer the truth to Fox fiction.

ACV Democratic News

Why is Fox News successful?

Despite the frequent lies and distortions pushed forth by Fox News, and specifically by the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, Fox News continues to drive a plurality of viewers to its TV shows.     Why would anyone watch Fox News’ reports if they are so deceptive and misleading?

1.    A strong market for protestant-Christian views in the United States.

Where else can you go to watch criticism on evolution, and non-Christian values?      For non-stop criticism on evolution, you’d have to go to the creationist history museum.      For a more liberal twist on religion you could watch CNN bash and ridicule atheists and agnostics; but for profit, and at the expense of reason, the major news networks acknowledge that religious controversies are better fueled than ignored.      The invention of new controversies like “wars on Christmas” or whether Barack Obama is actually a practicing Muslim in disguise (and by implicit extension whether he is a terrorist or not),  generates viewership,  regardless of the merit of the fabricated story.

2.     A jingoist and elitist “journalistic” culture.

What other news network displays red, white and blue, or the U.S. flag, non-stop?     Whether the controversy is illegal immigration or the war in Iraq, no one will enrage you more than Bill O’Reilly’s tabloid journalism, regardless of whether you agree with his talking points or not.     Tabloid journalism is not new, however, the sleek computer-generated graphics and the disappointingly-intelligent, self-important commentators can capture the attention of even some well-educated viewers, who if not fooled by the misleading, fabricated, or poorly-sourced material, are accused of being or implied to be un-American through a psychological (but clearly fallacious) tactic reminiscent of 1950s McCarthyism.

The underlying message typically is, if you don’t agree with our “news” or our interpretation, then you are a traitor.    Bush said so.     We can’t afford to think otherwise.

The same group mentality is fostered by the deceptively-playful morning shows, where the participants (news anchors is not a good title,) go from one pointless or mundane story to the next, talking casually as buddies or friends, but intermittently highlighting a real or manufactured political event to inject a Christian-conservative slant on the controversy of the day.

Whether or not you agree with the content or lack thereof, it is difficult to turn off the channel.     Controversy is interesting, and tabloids sell.     But when the controversy appeals to your dogmatic and/or erroneous beliefs, your only source of semi-intelligent debate comes from the mouth of Bill O’Reilly.

In other words, if you can’t normally defend your jingoist, “Christian”, or elitist political views (because they are just wrong), Fox News provides you with the ammunition to do so.

3.    The symbiotic relationship with the Bush Administration.

Because the agendas of Fox News and the Bush administration coincide in large part, Fox News can deceive the public to enable the Bush administration, and the Bush administration can send exclusive leads to Fox News before they are made available to other networks.     Now that Bush is no more the lies and made up stories are more frequent.

4.    We are in danger all the time.

If you follow the Homeland Security terror alert (eternally present on Fox News’ news ticker), or listen to Fox News, we are constantly under attack by terrorists from Osama Bin Laden to Barack Obama and his “sugar mama”.    Fear captivates.     If Bill O’Reilly can get away with scaring old people (the plurality of his viewers are old people) into believing that Christmas is going to end this year, he will.     If he can shock Christians with indecent pictures of young actresses, or perhaps entice them to watch his show safely with the pretext of outrage, he will do that too.

For a commentator who pretends to oppose nudity and embrace Christian values, his show and others on Fox News certainly appear to do the opposite most of the time.

5.     No significant alternatives in U.S. media.

It’s not necessary to place all the blame on FOX News.    Lou Dobbs (fired from CNN and now with Fox) on CNN does plenty of fear-mongering about immigrants and the potential demise of the English language.     Or watch any presidential debate and watch the subtle manipulation via the choice and number of questions for the candidates.

Why would the choice of questions make a difference?     Well, if you consider that a network-favored candidate will receive more opportunities to clarify a statement, will receive more airtime, and will therefore be more familiar to the average voter.     Voters vote based on familiarity when not informed.     These voters influence the next set of poll results, which are not necessarily a reflection of true political preference, but rather simple name recognition.   

People who are serious about understanding politics won’t rely only any single source.    A good portion of the news we get from CNN and CBS and Fox News is much closer to entertainment than news-worthy information, and even when the information is intended as news, it is filtered, distorted and framed to be controversial, or entertaining, or to fit a point of view.    Other countries and cultures also have an influence on their national news, but it is widely acknowledged that serious international sources tend to be more neutral and objective when reporting news.

Sadly, there is less demand for accurate news than there is for thrilling-ambulance-chasing-tabloid material or news that appeals to religious and jingoist nuts.     And even if there were more demand for accurate news, most of us in this part of the world couldn’t tell the difference.

This is why Fox News is successful.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

President Obama Signs Tax Extension

Lots of successes coming out of the lame duck session in spite of all the venting and windbaggery being practiced by the indivudal players.      If we could get two lame duck sessions a year it would be enough to govern the country.

As President Obama signed into law Friday the massive bipartisan tax package the debate over its implications raged on.    Obama found himself surrounded by Democrats and Republicans eager to take advantage of a photo opportunity that illustrates their effort to prevent a big New Year's Day tax hike for millions of Americans.

Obama called the deal "real money that's going to make a real difference in people's lives."     But others continue to criticize the deal.     Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said Obama and lawmakers will face enormous election-year pressure in 2012 to extend the cuts again or make them permanent.     Weiner said the Republicans turned out to be "better poker players" than Obama.

The White House continued to defend the deal on Friday, saying there was no viable alternative plan.     "There was a lot of heat generated around this, but I will point out that a majority of Democrats in the House supported,"   White House chief spokesman Robert Gibbs said.     Incoming House Speaker John Boehner hailed the deal but said there's room for  improvement.        "It's a good first step, but let's be clear," he said. "If we actually want to help our economy get back on track and to begin creating jobs, we need to end the job-killing spending binge. We need to cut spending significantly, and we need to provide more certainty to small businesses around America."

The measure would extend existing tax cuts for families at every income level, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and enact a new one-year cut in Social Security taxes that would benefit nearly every worker who earns a wage.

The bill was passed just before midnight Thursday in a remarkable show of bipartisanship in the House, despite objections from some Democrats, who wanted to impose a higher estate tax than the one Obama agreed to.      The vote was 277-148, with each party contributing an almost identical number of votes in favor -- the Democrats 139 and the Republicans 138.

In a rare reach across party lines, Obama negotiated the $858 billion package with Senate Republicans.     The White House then spent the past 10 days persuading congressional Democrats to go along, providing a possible blueprint for the next two years, when Republicans will control the House and hold more seats in the Senate.

"There probably is nobody on this floor who likes this bill," said House Majority Leader Steny D-Md.     "The judgment is, is it better than doing nothing?     Some of the business groups believe it will help. I hope they're right."

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., said that with unemployment hovering just under 10 percent and the deadline for avoiding a big tax hike fast approaching, lawmakers had little choice but to support the bill.     "This is just no time to be playing games with our economy," said Camp, who will become chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee in January.     "The failure to block these tax increases would be a direct hit to families and small businesses."

Sweeping tax cuts enacted when George W. Bush was president are scheduled to expire Jan. 1 -- a little more than two weeks away.    The bill extends them for two years, placing the issue squarely in the middle of the next presidential election, in 2012.

The extended tax cuts include lower rates for the rich, the middle class and the working poor,  a $1,000-per-child tax credit,  tax breaks for college students and lower taxes on capital gains and dividends.      The bill also extends through 2011, a series of business tax breaks designed to encourage investment that expired at the end of 2009.

Workers' Social Security taxes would be cut by nearly a third,  going from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, for 2011.     A worker making $50,000 in wages would save $1,000;    one making $100,000 would save $2,000.

"This legislation is good for growth, good for jobs, good for working and middle class families, and good for businesses looking to invest and expand their work force," said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Some Democrats complained that the package is too generous to the wealthy;    Republicans complained that it doesn't make all the tax cuts permanent.      Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., called it "a bipartisan moment of clarity."

The bill's cost, $858 billion, would be added to the deficit, a sore spot among budget hawks in both parties.

"I know that we are going to borrow every nickel in this bill," Hoyer lamented.

At the insistence of Republicans, the plan includes an estate tax that would allow the first $10 million of a couple's estate to pass to heirs without taxation.     The balance would be subject to a 35 percent tax rate.

Many House Democrats wanted a higher estate tax, one that would allow couples to pass only $7 million tax-free, taxing anything above that amount at a 45 percent rate.     They argued that the higher estate tax would affect only 6,600 of the wealthiest estates in 2011 and would save $23 billion over two years.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the estate tax the "most egregious provision" in the bill and held a vote that would have imposed the higher estate tax.     It failed, 194-233.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he thought the White House could have gotten a better deal.     "When I talk to the Republicans they are giddy about this bill," he said.

So the Democrats talked trash, strutted and cooed and generally acted like peacocks about to mate and then as predicted approved the presidents deal.     As we at ACVDN declared earlier in a Dec 7th article President Obama Did The Right Thing and everybody is better off for it.      Looking at the things that got done in the lame duck session I've got to say it was quite a success.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Ends

After months of fits and starts, a bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell," the ban against gays serving openly in the military, passed the Senate 65 to 31 on Saturday.

Eight Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and George Voinovich of Ohio -- joined 57 members of the Democratic caucus in support of the historic measure.     Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) did not vote Saturday, but released a statement saying he could not support repeal "at this time."      So sorry Joe but it was now or never and you missed it, Robert Byrd had courage - you don't.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, framed the issue as a civil rights imperative, calling the ban on gays in the military "inconsistent with basic American values."

"To force the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on the military is to force them to be less than they want to be -- and less than they can be," Lieberman said Saturday.     "These people simply want to serve their country."      Under the Clinton-era policy, armed services members are expected to keep their sexual orientation private, with the promise that recruiters and officers will not delve into their personal lives.

President Obama applauded the Senate and said "thousands of patriotic Americans" would no longer have to "live a lie" to serve in the military.

During the debate Saturday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was alarmed by the number of Arabic and Farsi linguists who had been discharged under the policy at a time the military needs them most, noting that nearly 10,000 of the 14,000 men and women forced out since 1993 were language specialists.

"I don't care who you love.    If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you should be able to serve as you are," Wyden said.   "Today the Senate has the opportunity to be on the right side of history.     'Don't ask, don't tell' is a wrong that should never have been perpetrated."

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testified that lifting the DADT policy would likely have only a limited impact on the services.      They said they preferred congressional action -- which would give the military some time to implement the change -- to a judicial decision, which would alter the policy immediately.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, cited that testimony, as well as the results of a Pentagon study on implementing the change, as the reasons he believed ending the policy that bans gays from serving openly is the right thing to do.

"The final report of a working group concluded that changing the policy would present a low risk to the military's effectiveness, even during a time of war, and that 70 percent believe it would be positive, mixed or no effect," Levin said. "The troops told us that what matters is doing the job."

But several Republicans on the Armed Services panel disagreed with Levin and stood up Saturday to vocally oppose changing the policy.

Sen. John McCain, a former Navy flier and POW during the Vietnam war, had filibustered the repeal bill throughout the year. Yet he said he was resigned to the fact that it would pass an earlier test vote Saturday.     But McCain (R-Ariz.) said he remained convinced that repealing the ban would cost American lives.
"I understand the other side's argument about their social political agenda, but to somehow argue that ['don't ask, don't tell'] has harmed our military is not consistent with the facts," he said.    Although McCain said he was confident that the military will comply with a change in the law, he warned that troops will
be put at greater risk as a result.    "They will do what is asked of them, but don't think it won't be at great cost,"   he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a JAG officer in the Air Force Reserves, excoriated the bill's proponents for pushing forward with the change when the military is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.    "You care more about politics...than you care about governing this country,"  Graham said.

Now that the bill has passed the House and Senate, it goes to Obama to be signed into law some time next week.

But a change in the law will not automatically change the policy. Rather, the bill stipulates that the policy will only be discarded after the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that changing it will not hurt the armed services' readiness, morale or cohesion.     After a 60-day review by Congress, the Pentagon is to develop procedures for ending it altogether, a process that could take months or years to complete.

Sen. Levin said he would be watching the military carefully as the certification and implementation process moves forward.     But he could not yet say how long would be too long.

"I just think we'll know it when we see it,"   Levin told Politics Daily.     "But right now we've got to just be optimistic and be confident, particularly with these leaders."      Levin credited Mullen's early support of repeal for giving the legislative process momentum when it needed it most.

"I don't have any doubt that he is going to be pushing this quickly and at the appropriate speed and in the appropriate way," Levin said. "This is a totally doable deal."

Sen. Collins told Politics Daily that she expects it to take months, not years, but said that the military needs time to create and hold training sessions for servicemembers and to work through any issues associated with the implementation.

But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), an early advocate for repeal this year,  said Congressional passage of the bill makes one immediate change in military policy.    "No one will be dismissed under this policy ever again,"   she said.

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