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Daily News Roundup, 11/9/07: Confirmations and Overrides

Yesterday two very significant things happened to President George Bush. Late in the day, the Senate confirmed Michael Mukasey as attorney general by a vote of 53-40. Before that, the Senate aligned with the House and voted to override Bush's veto of a water projects bill, the first time his veto has been disregarded by the legislature.

In the Mukasey confirmation, the way the vote was broken down was of particular interest. None of the presidential candidates voted, although all of the Democrats had said they wouldn't support Mukasey due to his waffling on answers about things like torture. I'm guessing if the vote had been closer, and if their presence would have flipped the vote over, they might have shown up, but who can say? McCain was the sole sitting senator / presidential candidate who had said he would vote for Mukasey, despite having undergone torture himself as a prisoner of war during Vietnam.

As for the veto override, it showed that Bush's ability to always get what he wants out of Congress has diminished significantly. 34 Republican Senators voted to override, and there's no doubt why — the water projects bill was popular with almost everyone. This response from the White House quite literally made me chuckle and shake my head in disbelief:

Bush's spokeswoman portrayed the issue as a divide between a budget-conscious president and a big-spending Congress.

"The president is standing up for the taxpayers," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "No one is surprised that this veto is overridden. We understand that members of Congress are going to support the projects in their districts. Budgeting is about making choices and defining priorities — it doesn't mean you can have everything. This bill doesn't make the difficult choices; it says we can fund every idea out there. That's not a responsible way to budget."

Insert commentary about Bush's spending habits here.

Speaking of spending, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has a piece today titled "Voters willing to pay for what they want." The story takes a look at how the constitutional amendment votes turned out, and generally says that when you give voters the ability to further projects like infrastructure improvement and curing cancer, they are not usually opposed to voting for the ways to pay for those improvements. Just this morning I heard Rudy Giuliani on NPR talking about how, if Democrats are elected, they will raise taxes, and that he would instead cut taxes. That makes me wonder how he'll pay for anything. We don't have enough money to pay for what we're doing right now, and a great deal of that spending was initiated by an overreaching executive who then painted anyone who wasn't crazy giving the money he wanted into an ideological corner. This presidential election will be as much a referendum on vision and reform as it will on catch phrases and hyperpartisan rhetoric.

If you've been following the events in Pakistan at all, you know that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been encouraging opposition and demonstration against President / General Pervez Musharraf's decision to suspend the constitution, and how many of those demonstrators have been getting arrested. Today, police barricaded Bhutto into her residence and prevented her from getting to a mass demonstration in Islamabad, which she had called for and was supposed to lead. Politicians are being arrested for treason if they make speeches containing anti-Musharraf statements or criticisms of emergency rule. In Pakistan, as in the United States, treason is a crime punishable by death.

Finally today, some news on the structure of a new Democratic strategy on Iraq. The plan now (or again, depending on how you look at it) is to tie funds requested by Bush for operations to a timed withdrawal. The anti-war caucus has said they can get behind this so long as everyone sticks to their guns, so here it begins. This is the fight Congressional Democrats are going to have to dig in on, and it looks like the battle is about to begin in earnest.

Water bill

A collective sigh and unletting of belts just came over the Big Business in Dallas, since the federal money needed for the Trinity River Project was tied up in said bill.

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