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Sen. Obama D-IL said

Sen. Obama (D-IL) said this morning that Democrats need to focus on convincing voters that "their values are at stake" in cases like the Alito hearings rather than relying on procedural gambits like the filibuster.

But I'm not sure I understand why it has to be either/or.

The fundamental challenge for Democrats on the judicial front is that these debates are too drowned in technical jurisprudential debates to really resonate with the public. So I think Obama is certainly right on that count. I would add that confirmation debates like this one tend to be focused on too narrow a set of issues. There's an elemental of Mark Schmitt's 'policy literalism' in play here.

But again, why does it have to be one or the other? I don't get that.

The nomination is a sop to the president's rightwing base. The man is a rightwing ideologue. He doesn't belong on the court. There's nothing to be ashamed of in doing everything possible to prevent his being seated if there's any chance of success.

According to his hometown

According to his hometown paper, the Auburn Journal, Rep. Doolittle (R-CA) is reaching out to his inner circle of funders to raise $100,000 in January to fend off what he's describing as a concerted attack by Democrats -- presumably run through the Bush Justice Department -- to drive him from office.

Says Doolittle in his money appeal: "Make no mistake about it. The liberal media wants the Democrats back in control of Congress. They don't like conservatives. They don't like President Bush, and they don't like what we stand for. They will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal."

Doolittle's plea comes amidst new disclosures tying him to the Duke Cunningham influence-peddling and bribery scandal.

There are a lot

There are a lot of trial dates, court appearances and sentencing hearings coming up in the next months -- the DeLay case, Abramoff fixer David Safavian's trial, the Gus Boulis murder trial, the Duke Cunningham case and a lot more.

Many of you have been writing in asking for info about when this or that court date is coming up. So tomorrow we'll be a rolling out a new feature. It's a timeline, but about future events not stuff that's already happened. We're calling it the Grand Old Docket.

We'll post a link when it's up.

Sometimes the key to

Sometimes the key to good politics (and good policy) is simply to say out loud what your opponents are saying amongst themselves. And that's just the case with these new health care proposals the president is set to unveil in his state of the union.

I'll leave it to the good folks over at our new health care blog to get down into all the details. But the core premise of the policies the president is about to lay out is that Americans are over-insured when it comes to health insurance. Over-insured. Got too much insurance.

These aren't my words. These are the words used by the conservative policy-wonks who came up with the president's proposals. Just hop over to Google and start googling the phrase 'over insured' along with 'health' and 'conservative'. This what they think; and what the president thinks. It's why he's behind these ideas.

So the president thinks the problem is that people have too much health insurance. People are over-insured.

I don't think that's how most Americans see the problem, do you? I'm confident that they don't. Really confident.

But let's let them decide.

The president wants to make health care his political issue this year. No Democrat should open their mouth this year on this topic without first saying this: The president thinks the problem is that Americans have too much health insurance; we don't.

Health care policy is an immensely complicated issue. And that complexity can sometimes be a cover for politicians pushing policies that would screw most families. In this case, however, the president and his supporters have done everyone the favor is simplifying what they're up to and what they want to do.

The president thinks you're over-insured. He thinks you have too much health insurance.

Add water and stir ...

T-Shirt and mug in

T-Shirt (and mug!) in the balance?

TPM Reader MM looked to be our first contest winner on the White House Abramoff Records front.

On Friday, he called up the district office of Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), who's now running to be the new House Majority Leader, and MM asked whether Rep. Shadegg believed President Bush should release the records of all the staff meeting and White House events he attended from 2001 to 2004.

To his surprise and gratification, MM was told that Rep. Shadegg did believe the president should release the White House Abramoff records. Fit in with his stand on openness and transparency from the House leadership race.

Needless to say, MM's win seemed assured. But when I called Shadegg's district office to confirm, things broke down. I was told that I should call the congressman's DC office and speak to the press secretary. When I did that I got ... well, I got the tell-tale voicemail.

So the contest continues; but MM seems to have the inside track.

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