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It now looks like the grand saga of the New York state Senate, which involved the chamber coming to a halt as two Democrats flipped control of the chamber by joining up with the Republicans, is now coming to an end. And it has a very amusing denouement.

State Sen. Pedro Espada, a Bronx Democrat who had joined up with the Republicans in exchange for them making him state Senate President, is now returning to the Democratic caucus in a new role -- as Majority Leader! Espada told the New York Post that he has a "handshake deal" to return to the Dems in his new leadership position. His fellow renegade in this whole operation, Queens state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, had previously gone back to the Dems, too.

This is now Espada's fourth party switch in his career. Back in 2002, he'd switched from the Democrats to supporting Republican control, then was defeated for re-election by a Dem. Then last year he returned to the chamber as a Democrat from another district, then embarked on this whole adventure.

As Winston Churchill said of his own switch from the Conservative Party to the Liberals, then later back to the Conservatives: Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat. And in Sir Winston's defense, his switches took place over the course of 20 years, as various realignments of the British political system were going on. Espada, by contrast, has had the ingenuity to switch and re-switch in the course of weeks, after having already done it before.

In a now-infamous raid on a Democratic Congressional candidate's fundraiser, the San Diego Sheriff's Department used pepper spray and mobilized multiple patrol cars, a canine unit, and, to top it all off, even a police helicopter. All to subdue a small gathering of middle- and retirement-aged Democrats in a private home. It turns out the department has a program it calls ASTREA (Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies), after the Greek goddess of justice, and a penchant for photographing its choppers in action.


San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department




San Diego Sheriff's Department

Read the full coverage of the raid at TPMDC here.


San Diego Sheriff's Department

Another poll shows that Democrats start off with the advantage for the 2010 Ohio Senate race, which is expected to be a close competition for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. George Voinovich, with both Democrats leading Republican former Rep. Rob Portman.

The new numbers from Daily Kos/Research 2000: Lt. Gov Lee Fisher 42%, Portman 35%; Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner 40%, Portman 36%. This more or less corroborates a Quinnipiac poll from two days ago, with slight differences in the numbers.

In the Democratic primary, Fisher leads Brunner by 22%-17%, with "Undecided" at the head of the pack with a whopping 61%.

The undecided numbers are very high in both the primary and general match-ups, and the cycle has just barely started. The major question for this big swing state is what the economy and overall political environment will be like in 2010 -- and there's only one way to find out.

It looks like John Ensign's sexual dignity -- which hasn't been high lately -- has plunged to new depths. His lawyer has just released a remarkable statement saying that Ensign's parents paid the Hamptons $96,000 after the 51-year-old senator told his Mom and Dad about the affair.

The senator's father, Mike Ensign, is a casino mogul who sold his shares in the Mandalay Group for around $300 million earlier this decade.

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It looks like when Tom Coburn denied today that he urged his friend John Ensign to pay restitution to the family of the woman he had an affair with, the Oklahoma senator wasn't speaking just to Roll Call (sub. req.). Rather, in a sign of the potential trouble the story could represent for Coburn, he appears to have given an impromptu press conference, in what's likely to be a failed effort to nip it in the bud.

Politico reports that, along with his denial, Coburn had some choice words for Doug Hampton.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from all sides next week about Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, and, as we've already noted, the invitation list includes the Connecticut firefighters who've become a cause célèbre for conservative activists.

But the GOP has also called upon Peter Kirsanow--a Bush appointee who heads the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and testified on behalf of Samuel Alito four years ago--to question Sotomayor's fitness.

Who is Kirsanow, you ask? According to a 2002 Knight-Ridder report, he's this guy: "A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said Friday that he could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for Arab Americans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country."

If there's a future terrorist attack in America "and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights," commission member Peter Kirsanow said.

The reason, he said, is that "the public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives."

Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President Bush, said that he personally doesn't support internment camps and the government would never envision setting them up. He said he was merely saying public opinion would so strongly favor the idea that it would be difficult to prevent. There would be a "groundswell of opinion" for such detentions, he said.

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Jeb Bush is, for now, operating outside of politics. The former Florida governor and brother of the former president declined to run for a Senate seat in his state, and says he wasn't tempted to run for president last year.

Bush, whose party has seen better days, gave an interview to Tucker Carlson for Esquire with his thoughts on the GOP's future.

On intelligence, faux populism and Joe the Plumber:

I think it's okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it's okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we're living in is incredibly complex. And simplifying things to the point where you're misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn't going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don't get inspired by shameless populism.


After that, it's not surprising Bush didn't list Sarah Palin as a future GOP leader. When asked who is leading the Republicans, he said, "The next generation of leaders are going to be people we probably don't even know." But he did name Newt Gingrich, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Rick Baker, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., as possibilities.

He lamented the Republican Party's loss of the last two national election cycles and urged his fellow conservatives to come up with new ideas and "find creative ways of expressing the principles."

We haven't upgraded our message. We haven't updated it. If you close your eyes and listen to most Republicans, most conservatives, the same speech could have been given in 1990. And you can't discount that. It's a pretty important point. If people think our message is outdated, our message is not relevant to the world we live in, and I think a growing number of people may feel that, you lose your relevance.


But he blamed the loss of power not on tired ideas or an overall change in public sentiment, but on the GOP's "tactics of politics."

In this interim period, we have to pay for our sins and show some humility.

[The interviewer:] What are those sins?

We didn't advocate our positions well enough to win.

We just told you about Doug Hampton's allegation that Sen. Tom Coburn urged his friend Sen. John Ensign to pay "restitution" money to the Hamptons on account of Ensign's affair with Hampton's wife. And now Coburn is denying the claim.

Roll Call reports:

Coburn repeatedly denied allegations that he urged Ensign to pay Doug Hampton, the husband of his mistress Cynthia, millions in hush money following a confrontation with Hampton. "I categorically deny everything he said," Coburn said.

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We just got the witness lists for Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing on July 13.

American Bar Association Witnesses

Kim Askew, Chair of Standing Committee Mary Boies, Primary Reviewer

Majority Witnesses

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, City of New York Chuck Canterbury, National President, Fraternal Order of Police David Cone, former Major League Baseball pitcher JoAnne A. Epps, Dean, Temple University Beasley School of Law, on behalf of the National Association of Women Lawyers Louis Freeh, former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Michael J. Garcia, former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Patricia Hynes, President, New York City Bar Association Dustin McDaniel, Attorney General, State of Arkansas Robert Morgenthau, former District Attorney, New York County, New York Ramona Romero, National President, Hispanic National Bar Association Congressman Jose E. Serrano, New York 16th District Theodore M. Shaw, Professor, Columbia Law School Kate Stith, Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law, Yale Law School Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Minority Witnesses

Linda Chavez, President, Center for Equal Opportunity Sandy Froman, Esq., Former President, National Rifle Association of America Dr. Stephen Halbrook, Attorney Tim Jeffries, Founder, P7 Enterprises Peter Kirsanow, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights David Kopel, Esq., Independence Institute John McGinnis, Professor, Northwestern University School of Law Neomi Rao, Professor, George Mason University School of Law Frank Ricci, Director of Fire Services, ConnectiCOSH (Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health) David Rivkin, Esq., Partner, Baker Hostetler Nick Rosenkranz, Professor, Georgetown University School of Law Ilya Somin, Professor, George Mason University School of Law Lieutenant Ben Vargas, New Haven Fire Department Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life

The Hill reports that Senate Republicans will call two special witnesses in the Sotomayor confirmation hearings: Frank Ricci and Ben Vargas, two of the firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut, who recently won at the Supreme Court in their high-profile case.

That case, of course, involved a 5-4 Supreme Court overturning a three-judge appeals panel that included Sotomayor herself, and has become a centerpiece of Republican efforts to portray Sotomayor as biased in favor of minority groups.

After the Ricci decision was handed down, you had to know this kind of shoe would drop. Expect the firefighters to more or less testify that Sotomayor discriminated against them becuase of race, and for the GOP Senators to pitch them the kind of questions that will reinforce the point.

TPMLivewire