DiFi and The Legality of the Burris Appointment

The old adage of "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again" might serve Roland Burris well in his attempt to become the junior Senator from Illinois. He may actually need only to try but once for it seems the unity of the Democrats in blocking the appointment has collapsed. Dianne Feinstein, the senior Senator from California, is urging the Senate to settle the matter and by settle she means sitting Burris.

"If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America," the California senator said. "Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled."

Senator Feinstein who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which judges the credentials of senators argues that the governor has the power under the law to make the appointment. The matter, in her mind, seems settled.  

I am not a lawyer so I have no idea the legality of all this but as a political observer I can only say this entire episode is such a tragic comedy. If the appointment is, in fact, legal then there isn't any point in any further discussions that only serve to distract from the important business facing the nation. So is this appointment legal or not? To answer this question should not consume the nation.

More from MSNBC.

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Leon Panetta To Head CIA

President-elect Obama today chose former Californian Congressman and Clinton OMB director and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the beleaguered Central Intelligence Agency. While Panetta is the ultimate Washington insider, he has no direct intelligence experience and thus an outsider to the labyrinth that is the CIA. Panetta is primarily known as tough (and partisan) negotiator and highly regarded as a competent manager, an unusual trait in the outgoing Administration. He does boast significant foreign policy experience from his days in the White House and his participation on the Iraq Study Group. The pick, however, is meeting less than rave reviews on Capitol Hill.

Yet the choice encountered early opposition on Capitol Hill, with some senior Democrats questioning why the president-elect would pick a C.I.A. chief without a deep reservoir of intelligence or counterterrorism experience.

"My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time," said Senator Dianne Feinstein who, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would be in charge of Mr. Panetta's confirmation.

The President has made his choice. Leon Panetta is a dedicated public servant with an impeccable record. And it should be noted that several previous CIA Directors had no intelligence experience when appointed. These include Stansfield M. Turner, John M. Deutch, John McCone and George H.W. Bush.

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Veterans Advocates Skeptical Of New V.A. Registration Policies

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

We recently wrote about the Department of Veterans Affairs decision to open its facilities to voter registration drives after months of urging by voting rights groups and elected officials. This week, however, "VA voter suppression continues," as AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld wrote Tuesday, with voter registration efforts being blocked in California and the VA general counsel criticizing the pending Veterans Voting Support Act (S. 3308), which would bolster federal protection of voter registration opportunities for all wounded veterans. With just three weeks left to register voters in most states, advocates say now is the time to support voter registration efforts in VA facilities and, most importantly, it needs to be explicitly protected from now on through federal law.

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Bush Administration Stops Vets from Registering to Vote

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

The ability of injured veterans to vote in November's presidential election rests in the hands of Bush Administration officials, who have so far refused demands from advocates and lawmakers that the Department of Veterans Affairs help hospitalized veterans register to vote.

"'It is an insult to those who have fought to spread democracy and freedom overseas to be denied the right to participate in their own democracy here at home,'" wrote Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) to the Department of Veterans Affairs in March. "'If each facility took a few simple steps to provide voter registration materials, the VA could do its part to guarantee access to voter registration.'"

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