Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chuck on net neutrality:

"I believe that Internet access for consumers must be protected, and that's why I support net neutrality. As the Internet continues to grow and evolve, we must make sure that average consumers can still use the web to learn, shop, and communicate. The Internet has the power to enhance one of the most fundamental values of our democracy: freedom of speech. That's why I support the free flow of information on the Internet and enforceable network neutrality. I will oppose the flawed and limiting provisions in Senator Stevens' bill, S. 2686, which would allow Internet providers to discriminate against the websites of their competitors--hurting the ability of consumers and everyday citizens to view the websites they want. If the Stevens bill is not changed to protect network neutrality, I will oppose it. Network neutrality has allowed the Internet to be an engine of economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech. Eliminating it would be a serious mistake."

He gets it. He says it. Loud and clear. Kudos to the Senator. (via myDD.com and an email from Pachatutec of FDL.)

Monday, July 31, 2006

When the going gets tough, Chuck sits down. It was nice to see Chris Dodd out in front and in opposition to John Bolton, but now the NY Sun is reporting that Chuck says that a filibuster is "unlikely."

The Sun says Schumer

supported an effort last year to block Mr. Bolton's nomination from gaining a full Senate vote, but he confirmed that he is considering changing his position.

New York's senior senator said he was weighing Mr. Bolton's backing of Israel against his unwillingness to work with other countries at the United Nations. "There's a good part of Bolton. He's been a staunch and very good defender of Israel," Mr. Schumer said on CNN's "Late Edition." "There's a bad part of Bolton. He seems to have a ‘go it alone' attitude at a time when we need the nations of the world on our side. We've seen that in Iran and North Korea."

Mr. Schumer said he had not made a final decision on which way to vote and that a lot of Democrats were also contemplating their position.

Can anyone say AIPAC?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Okay, so Chuck's been doing better on curbing Presidential excesses, but he's apparently gone all triangulate on an issue that is a no-brainer--stem cell research.

Jonathan Singer at MyDD.com passes on a quotation from the subscription only web site run by The Hill:

Schumer says stem-cell bill will harm Dems at the polls

Democrats say next week's Senate vote on research into embryonic stem cells -- and a promised White House veto -- will cut into their advantage on the campaign trail, particularly in Midwestern states.

"Our polling data shows this is a very prescient issue in Missouri," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday.

"It's not just in Missouri," he continued, naming Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan as other states where the issue would help Democratic candidates.

The wingnut position on this issue is both without merit and illogical. Even Nancy Reagan recognizes the benefits of this research. And the wingnuts themselves have proven that they really don't believe that embryos and fetus are people. The SD ban of abortion does not punish women at all for getting an abortion, and sentences doctors not to a life sentence without parole, but a maximum of five years. They clearly don't regard a fetus as the same thing as a five-year-old when it comes time to actually pass legislation.

There is no call from the wingnut camp to close down fertility clinics or to ban fertility drugs. Both the clinics and the drugs lead to "excess" embryos which are removed in the interest of both the pregnant woman and the child she hopes to have. Moreover, fertility clinics would generally be the source for the embryos used in the research. So the issue is nonsensical--these excess embryos will be produced nonetheless. The only question is whether to destroy them or to make some progress in treating syndromes that are currently untreatable, like Alzeimer's disease.

There's absolutely no reason to run and hide on this issue. It can be explained clearly, forthrightly even in Missouri. Nobody with a lick of sense is going to support a Republican argument that says that it's okay to discard embryos, but not okay to use them to advance medical science's treatment regimes for degenerative diseases.

This issue epitomizes Russ Feingold's remark that too many Senators are in their foxholes, afraid to take a position on anything they regard as controversial. Even when the right position on an issue is crystal clear, even when the wingnuts are clearly wrong, there's Schumer cowering behind his pollsters instead of representing the people who elected him.

And what the heck does "prescient" mean in this context?

Glenn Greenwald passes on a reminder from Marty Lederman, to support Schumer's S.2468, which puts the question of the legality and Constitutionality of Bush's warrantless wiretapping directly onto the Supreme Court's docket. While Schumer is no Feingold, in general, he has been doing an effective job in pointing out the illegality of the President's actions.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

On June 30th, Senator Schumer sent a letter (pdf, via LawCulture) to the Justice Department. It asked the DoJ to review the status of the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping activity, given that the Hamdan decision eviscerated the justification for the use of data gathering activity expressly placed under the jurisdiction of the FISA court. He says this in the letter:

The reasoning of Hamden, however, calls into question the sweep of the AUMF and raises questions about the legal justifications for the NSA program contained in the DOJ memorandum. In Hamdan, for example, the Administration argued that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) read together with the AUMF authorized a plan for trying suspects before special military tribunals. The majority specifically rejected this reasoning, however, concluding that “there is nothing in the text or legislative history of the AUMF even hinting that Congress intended to expand or alter the authorization set forth in Article 21 of UCMJ.” Hamdan may also bear on your Department’s argument that the President’s Article II powers can override a lawfully enacted statute like FISA.

In light of Hamdan, then,. the issue of whether the President exceeded his lawful authority in approving the NSA surveillance program is an open question now more than ever.

The DOJ response (pdf, same source) essentially repeats the argument that the Court expressly rejected—that the President’s war making powers override Congressional power as defined in Article I of the Constitution.

He also spoke out clearly and strongly on Tuesday’s Hamdan hearing, opening with the following remark:

The Hamdan decision in my judgement shows that the administration's bull in a china approach is actually impeding the war on terror. And so that leads to my first question. I'm glad that the administration finally stands ready ...to work with us. You say: "We'd like to see congress act quickly to establish a solid statuatory basis for the military commision process." That kind of testimony has an Alice in Wonderland quality because where have you been for the last four or five years? (my transcription, video at YouTube)

He then asks the same question he raised in his letter, and he wants to know that a review of the violations of the FISA law are also being reviewed. He gets the same kind of evasive non-answer that is the standard executive branch response to substantive questions asked of this Administration. Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly pointed out that reasserting the powers given to Congress by the Founders is going to be a long struggle. It's important that Senators from both parties speak out--and to have one of our two Democratic neo-cons raising the issue is a step in the right direction.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cognitive Diss has a pretty comprehensive breakdown of Schumer's political antics up on his site.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

First Hackett, now Lamont. Via this Kos diary from David Sirota, Time Magazine is reporting that Schumer is pressuring Lamont to drop out of the CT Sen race.

The money quote:

And Lamont says as recently a few weeks ago, even as he was investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign, Charles Schumer, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, asked him to drop out. Schumer has told colleagues he thinks that if Lieberman lost the primary, it would send a bad signal to moderate voters and might hurt the party's chances of winning Senate seats in places like Montana and Missouri in November.

Check out David's diary. There are other links and more analysis.

And I'd add just one other thing.

Schumer told AdNags that the races were gonna be run from DC:

"We'll give you money, but you have to hire a campaign manager, a finance director and a communications director who we approve," Mr. Schumer said. "They have to toe the line."

This is, of course, very ironic because Lieberman's latest lame line is that he will not toe the line--that he is a man of principle, a message dutifully echoed by Anne Kornblut on Press the Meat today. If you're for the war and you're Bush's favorite Republican, you're principled. If you take a stand against this insanity, you're toeing the blogger line.

(They've really gotta make up their minds. YearlyKos has put them into a spin--we're powerless yammerering losers, but we nonetheless draw lines that have to be toed. As I write this, I see Digby's Peter Finch picture in my head.)

Can somebody please tell me when we decided that elections were bad mechanisms to choose candidates? And also please tell me why Democrats from CT would prefer someone who shares fewer of their views on the issues? I mean, with Lamont you get all of Joementum's good votes, and some extras to boot. What's hard about this?

My note to Sam Schaeffer, who works at Schumer's Manhattan office. The video is long, but very good:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about the Senator’s unwillingness to take a position on net neutrality Here’s the link I mentioned.


It’s long. The second half of Misener’s initial presentation contains the rebuttal to all the, frankly dishonest, arguments made by the telecom folks. Note also his key point that when the telecoms talk about a “free market,” they emphasize “free,” but, in fact, a duopoly (which is what consumers face) or an oligopoly (the backbone providers) is not a “market.”

The Q&A is also valuable.

But, Sam, bluntly speaking, as far as the public interest goes, this is a no-brainer. There is absolutely no benefit to the public to permit telecom companies to engage in packet discrimination. The only beneficiaries of the removal of net neutrality are the telecom companies’ management and shareholders. It’s shocking to me that this issue is even up for debate. It’s not shocking that Ted Stevens is carrying the flag on this, but for Schumer to even consider not representing his constituents on an issue this fundamental is very disturbing.

He may think his seat is safe, but so did Lieberman.

Friday, June 23, 2006

By RagingGurrl

Is this the reason Senator Chuck Schumer is still undecided about Net Neutrality? :
From 1998 to 2004 the Federal Election Commission’s contribution records conclude that Senator Schumer has received over $525,000 from the Communications Industry.


Here are his top five contributors:

Time Warner PayTV - Cable 111 $115,750

Viacom Inc. Broadcast 83 $78,700

General Electric Co. Broadcast 54 $59,000

Cablevision Systems Corp. PayTV - Cable 38 $50,590

Verizon Communications Inc. Phones 42 $46,550

News Corp Ltd. Broadcast 39 $40,500

So I called DC again and was told that Chuck had not taken a "public position" on net neutrality. Presumably he has actually decided how to vote, privately, but doesn't feel that it's his responsibility to tell us what his private decision is. Or, perhaps, he's still waiting to see whether he can get away with feeding the telcos--whether enough of us are angry enough to override the lobbyists. So keep making those calls.

I also called the staffer, Sam Schaeffer, we met during the Easter recess. He refused, quite strongly in the end, to engage in any substantive discussion, saying that he was not going to debate me on the merits of the isssue.

This is plainly because there are no merits--that there is nothing in the public interest in giving power over what content is presented to a duopoly (your phone company or your cable company). This is a rerun of the telecom bill of 1996, which gave concessions to the phone companies worth tens of billions of dollars, while allowing them to make service worse. Actually, this is worse. Reversing net neutrality would be taking something that has never been in the private sphere, never been dictated by corporate interests, and move it there, despite the enormous success of the current model.

Call Chuck. You'll get the tally response, or the hasn't decided response. Call nonetheless.