Nelson will not vote for Elena Kagan

Senator Ben Nelson, who gets his jollies pretending to be a Democrat, just announced that he will NOT vote for Elena Kagan. Apparently he believes that only judges should be nominated to the Supreme Court, never mind that over a third of past justices have not been judges, including the first four Chief Justices: John Jay, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall. Too antiquated, you say? Then how about modern Chief Justices Earl Warren or WILLIAM REHNQUIST?

At least Nelson says he won't filibuster. His statement over at First Read:

“As a member of the bipartisan ‘Gang of 14,’ I will follow our agreement that judicial nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances. If a cloture vote is held on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am prepared to vote for cloture and oppose a filibuster because, in my view, this nominee deserves an up or down vote in the Senate.

“However, I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan’s nomination.”

Ben Nelson will do anything to appear "independent," even if it means forever flushing logic, truth, and dare I say integrity down the toilet. He is the worst lawmaker in the United States Senate. He is harmful to America and harmful to the citizens of Nebraska. Just yesterday I sent him a letter that used the word "Pbbbbbbbbtttttthhhhhhhh" in response to his announcement that he will do whatever it takes to bring down Nebraska agriculture and vote against climate legislation. Remember also that although he did vote for the final product, Nelson filibustered the first attempt to pass cloture on financial reform, and that he is the reason it took so long to pass an extension of unemployment benefits. Forget the word progressive, and forget the phrase Blue Dog - this man is not even a Democrat.

And of course he would announce this on a Friday afternoon, just as everyone is checking out for the weekend. Cowardly slime ball.

Let's end this post on a related but lighter note: Republican Judd Gregg did announce that he will vote for Kagan. At least that's nice. Thank you, Senator Gregg, along with Senators Graham, Lugar, Collins, and Snowe, for putting country ahead of party, unlike so many of your colleagues.

Ben Nelson and Judd Gregg ignore their constituents

Senator Ben Nelson doesn’t understand climate change, and is going to harm the very industries he seeks to protect. But at least he’s not Senator Judd Gregg, who refuses to think for himself - and that should drive even tea partiers nuts. From Politico:

“A carbon tax or trade piece would significantly increase the utility rates in Nebraska for businesses, agriculture and individuals,” the Nebraska Democrat told POLITICO. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to go. And while I’d usually vote for a motion to proceed, this is so extraordinary, that I just can’t bring myself to do that.”

Either Nelson’s quote is bogus and he has nothing but contempt for Nebraska agriculture, or he doesn’t understand a thing about climate change. Yes, Nebraska does have incredibly cheap electricity from Wyoming coal and that will probably change at least somewhat under if carbon is priced, but if carbon isn’t priced, there won’t BE much Nebraska agriculture left to care!

A panel of ecologists, biologists and professors told an audience of 50 on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus that as the world grows warmer in the next 50 years, so will Nebraska.

It wasn't a comforting message.

Declines in Rocky Mountain snowpack could devastate flows in the Platte River.

More precipitation could fall, but the chances of catastrophic flooding will increase.

Nebraska will get a longer growing season, but it also will get weeds and insect pests that have never been able to survive the region's harsh winters.

Add to that a Nature Conservancy report that shows Nebraska will see one of the two or three sharpest increases in temperature of any state under any scenario.

New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg is even worse. The same Politico article quotes him saying, “I’ll wait to see what the leadership position is before I make a decision on what I’d do” regarding a possible filibuster.

What’s that, Judd? Can’t think for yourself about these things? Listen, you weren’t elected to represent the citizens of leadership’s Arizona and Kentucky, you were elected to represent the citizens of New Hampshire – and a new UNH poll out just this week shows that they understand that climate change is real and that it is caused by humans. So do the right thing, not the Mitch McConnell puppet thing.

Gregg's retiring this year. Let's replace him with someone who will actually try, and help Paul Hodes get to the Senate.

For the record, both men voted for cloture on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. So Nelson's just plain flip-flopping, and Gregg doesn't want us to know yet if he's a decent guy or not.

Going On Offense: Paul Hodes

I originally planned to write several “Going On Offense” posts in the days leading up to March 31, but finding time to blog is tricky when you work at a church during Holy Week and an environmental non-profit in the month before Earth Day. Still, I feel it’s important to make time for at least one of MyDD’s “Going On Offense” Act Blue candidates: Paul Hodes.

Hodes, elected to Congress just four years ago, is running for Judd Gregg’s open Senate seat. It’s vital that we win this one – in 2006, New Hampshire had two Repub Congressman, two Repub Senators, two Repub chambers in the state legislature, and a Repub-dominated Executive Commission (the body that approves the Governors’ nominees). Back then all Democrats had was the Governor, but now, all the Repubs have is one lone retiring Senator. If we can’t win even this open seat, we really are sunk this year.

For me, this election is as much personal as it is political. I first met Hodes when he was still just a Concord lawyer and children’s musician, and was impressed from the start. I originally planned to vote for the moderate GOP incumbent Charlie Bass – my Democratic identity was still forming – but after meeting Hodes on several occasions and interviewing him for the Dartmouth Free Press, I was sold. He’s an intelligent and earnest guy with a deep love for New Hampshire, and made for a welcome addition to the House of Representatives. As you can see in my interview, he campaigned on universal health care, and earlier this month took a big step towards delivering on that promise. The US Chamber of Commerce flooded the state’s airwaves with negative ads but Hodes stuck to his progressive guns and voted for reform. He was there for us even in the darkest days of February, writing in the Huffington Post:

There are lessons to be learned from the last year, but wimping out isn't one of them. Losing a special election in Massachusetts and seeing Democrats retiring in the Senate does not mean that we should back down from what we believe in. It doesn't mean we should give up on quality, affordable health care for every American. It doesn't mean we should give up on working for a new energy strategy for the 21st Century. And it certainly does not mean we should give up on fighting for the middle class families that put us in office.

I have one message for Democrats around the country: Get over it. It's time to pick ourselves up and work together to get done what we set out to do and win in November… The Washington Republican Party and their tea-party allies would take us back to the Bush years that were disastrous for our country. Now is not the time for Democrats to shy away from a fight, to back down or run away from who we are. There is too much at stake.

There would be sweet justice in winning Judd Gregg’s seat. Gregg made a fool out of President Obama with the Commerce Secretary nomination, urged obstruction in a December memo, and acted hypocritically on budget reconciliation. His party’s likely nominee, Kelly Ayotte, wouldn’t be much better. Hodes is using her opposition to health care reform to remind voters of the 34,000 small businesses in New Hampshire that will get tax credits under the new law.

In addition to his support for universal health care, Hodes is a great environmentalist – which comes easy when you live in a state with such beauty as the White Mountains. Energy was another prominent theme in his ’06 campaign and this year he’s one of just five Senate candidates to date endorsed by the Sierra Club.

The Hodes campaign wants you to text JOIN, GREEN, or YOUTH to 46337 or visit their website. Both would be helpful, but even more helpful would be to visit ActBlue and donate some much needed cash before tomorrow night’s FEC filing deadline. $5 to each of our “Going On Offense” candidates or even just $10 to the Hodes campaign would go a long way.

GOP for Reconciliation Before it Was Against It

With the GOP's top budget negotiator in the Senate, Judd Gregg, moaning about the Democrats' potential use of the reconciliation process to enact healthcare reform legislation, it's worth pointing to a piece from Fox News (of all places) on the love previously shown to reconciliation by none other than Senator Gregg (h/t First Read).

Republicans are not exactly strangers to using the reconciliation process to create new programs. They tried to open drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge in 2005, with Gregg telling reporters at the time: "The president asked for it, and we're trying to do what the president asked for."

Former President George W. Bush got his massive tax cuts through the Senate, as well, when Republicans used the reconciliation tool.

This is one of those fake controversies by the Beltway, of the Beltway and for the Beltway. Everyone in Washington knows that the reconciliation process has been used by Republicans to ram through policy changes in the past, that the current Republican complaints are mere politics rather than legitimate concerns over process. What's more, it is also the case that the American people simply do not care as much about these process debates as do those in the establishment media. If healthcare reform gets passed, voters aren't going to harp on exactly how many votes it took -- a 60-vote supermajority or a 51-vote regular majority -- they are going to focus on what the new legislation means to them and to their country.

There's more...

A Deficit Hawk?

So-called deficit hawk Judd Gregg, who now apparently opposes President Obama's budget, says doesn't like the current level of debt in the country.

The United States wouldn't even be eligible to enter the European Union if it wanted to because of its debt levels, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) claimed Thursday.

"We won't even be able to get into the EU if we wanted to," Gregg said this morning on MSNBC, "because our government is so large and so huge."

Given that Gregg dislikes deficits and big spending so much, presumably he opposed the 2001 tax cuts, which added at least $1.6 trillion to the national debt, right? Wrong. Or how about George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug program, which costs hundreds of billions of dollars. Gregg voted that one down, too, no? No. How about the Iraq War, which has already cost $860 billion, and will eventually cost trillions more. Gregg had to have voted against that. But he didn't. Time and time again over the last eight years. Gregg voted to increase the debt he now purports to decry.

The establishment media may be willing to play into Gregg's games, labeling him a hawk on deficits. In reality, though, Gregg isn't a deficit hawk -- he's just a politician using the rhetoric of deficit hawks to try to oppose President Obama's much-needed economic, healthcare-related and energy-related reforms (which, I might add, he didn't do in the case of unneeded initiatives by the previous President).

There's more...

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