Levin to lead Senate investigation into rendition, torture

The Guardian has the scoop:

Abuses carried out under the CIA's secret programme of extraordinary rendition are to be investigated by one of the Senate's most powerful committees, it emerged today.

The new chairman of the Senate armed services committee, the Democratic senator Carl Levin, revealed that he was "not comfortable" with the rendition system and said it was making the US less secure.


Asked whether he would investigate the renditions programme, including the secret prisons and missing detainees, Mr Levin replied: "Yes. Yes, yes and yes."


Amnesty International has described extraordinary renditions as a policy of "disappearances" and welcomed Mr Levin's announcement.

"It is long overdue," an Amnesty spokeswoman said. "Many aspects of the US war on terror are of concern and are questionable. There is a need for greater transparency and we need to know who has been taken and where."


Mr Levin made his comments as he was outlining the priorities of the committee after the Democrats' gain in last week's midterm elections. The first order of business would be to change the direction of Iraq policy, he said.

Good going for Michigan’s longest-serving US Senator in history, whom TIME Magazine named one of America’s 10 Best Senators. Now if only we can get Debbie on board…


Granholm landslide highlights a great week to be a Democrat!!

As of 4:30 Thursday, here's an UPDATED look at how the election returns are shaping up according to CNN and Michigan Liberal:

Last night, the Democrats gained control of the US Senate as Jim Webb (D) beat George Allen (R) in Virginia. US Senate: 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, 1 independent.

US House: 229 Democrats, 196 Republicans, 10 undecided seats.

Governorships: 28 Democrats, 21 Republicans, one undecided race (MN; The Repub incumbent is leading by a small margin). Granholm 56%, DeVos 42%. Rougly 3.8 million people voted in Michigan. 3.4 million were expected to vote. Damn, that's awesome!

Ballot proposals: 1 passes, 2 passes (^@&#), 3 fails, 4 passes, 5 fails.

State Senate: It looks like 21 Republicans, 17 Democrats. Just a couple thousand votes in a couple seats would have tipped the balance. Grr. But hey, we did get the......

State House: 58 Democrats, 52 Republicans.

Democrats SWEPT the races for State Board of Education, and U-M, MSU, and Wayne State governing boards! Has that ever happened?


Election 2006 predictions: How well did I do?

Governor/Lieutenant Governor:
Granholm/Cherry* 51%-47%
Actual: 56-42% (better than I expected)

Secretary of State:
Land* 58-41%
Actual: 56-42% (better)

Attorney General:
Cox* 53%-46%
Actual: 54-43% (worse)

US Senate:
50 Republicans. 49 Democrats
Actual: 50D, 49R, 1I (better than I tought - woohoo!!)

Stabenow* (D) 55-44%
Actual: 57-41%

US House:
Democrats: 219, Republicans: 216
Actual: 230-196 (with 9 undecided)

Ehlers* 61-38%
Actual: 63-35%

Camp* 58%-41%
Actual: 60-38%

State House:
56 Democrats, 54 Republicans
Actual: 58-42

District 72:
Steil* 78-20%
Actual: 66-32%

District 75:
Dean 52-48%
Actual: 51-47%

District 99:
Caul* 64-36%
Actual: 58-42%

State Senate:
19-19 plus Lt. Gov. Cherry's tie-breaking vote
Actual: It looks like 21-17 Repubs.

District 29:
Hardiman* 49.7-49.1%
Actual: 53-46%

District 33:
Cropsey* 59-41%
Actual: 54-44%

State Board of Education:
Weiser*, Turner*, McMillin, Ulbrich
Actual: Ulbrich, Turner, McMillin, Weiser

U-M Regents:
Brandon*, White*, Darlow, Brown
Actual: White, Darlow, Brown, Brandon

MSU Trustees:
Perles, Porteous*, Cook*, Owen
Actual: Perles, Owen, Cook, Porteous

WSU Governors:
Dingell, Driker*, McLemore, Akouri
Actual: Dingell, Driker, Akouri, McLemore

Supreme Court:
Cavanagh*, Corrigan*, Beckering, Shulman
Actual: Cavanagh, Corrigan, Beckering, Shulman

Kent County Drain Commissioner:
Byl 58-42%
Actual: 58-42%

17th Circuit Court:
Brinkman 50.2-49.8%
Actual: Trusock 51-49%

Ballot proposals (in tems of what percentage of voters vote yes):
Proposal 1: 61%
Proposal 2: 46%
Proposal 3: 41%
Proposal 4: 64%
Proposal 5: 41%

Actual: 82%, 58%, 31%, 80%, and 38%, respectively


Thoughts on Election Day 2006

"This is not a time to sit back and let others decide the state’s and country's fate." – Mark Brewer, MDP Chair

"The only poll that matters will be on Election Day and it will signal a new direction for America. " -Howard Dean, Democratic National Chair

"This is the time for us to stand up and be counted. Together, we will help Democrats take back Congress on Tuesday, bringing the change that our troops, our families, and all Americans so desperately need." – Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.)

"I’m depending on you to help me keep our plan, and our vision of Michigan’s future, alive. … You can make the difference in this election." –Gov. Jennifer Granholm

"Remind your world: Vote tomorrow." -100actions.com


Happy Election Day!!

Hopefully, you all have voted (at least you Democrats... Republicans, please check out www.republicansforgranholm.com before voting. ;-) ) I voted absentee a couple weeks ago. 3.4 million people are expected to vote.

I really, really, REALLY want the Democrats to kick butt this election. We haven't had a good Election Night since... a long time ago.

The polls are looking good. Jenny's up anywhere between 6 and 14 points, Debbie's up even more. (They're doing much better than I predicted they will; see previous entry.)

How am I? Nervous, yes. I want Jenny and Debbie to win big. Same with Amos Williams. I also want the Democrats to control Congress and the Legislature. And boy, do I ever want Prop 2 to go down big time!! (And I have plenty of company on that one.)

But perhaps my thoughts can be best summed up by Matt Ferguson over at Michigan Liberal:

"But the sun will come back. It always does. Before long it will be time once again to stroll along our magnificent Great Lakes shoreline, feeling the soft sand between our toes; the smooth and rhthymic din of the waves washing over our souls; the crisp coolness of that annual first plunge into the water that tells us we're alive and living in one of the most miraculous places on earth! This...is ours. It's our habitat; our imagination; part of our humanity."

All the best to Michigan and all of America.

Election 2006 Predictions

These predictions are mine and mine alone. Percentages often do NOT add up to 100% to account for third party performance.

Governor/Lieutenant Governor: Jenny is peaking at just the right time. Unlike the last two Dem governors (Swainson in 1962, Blanchard in 1990), Jenny won't lose for re-election.
Granholm/Cherry* 51%
DeVos/Johnson 47%

Secretary of State:
Land* 58%
Sabaugh 41%

Attorney General:
Cox* 53%
Williams 46%

US Senate: Didn't expect this one to bbe within reach. That said, I don't want to be too optimistic.
50 Republicans
49 Democrats

Stabenow* (D) 55%
Bouchard 44%

US House: A lot of people say they expect Democrats to win control of the House. Even Bill Ballenger predicted Dems would hold a 220-215 advantage! I've convinced myself that it won't happen. That way, if it doesn't, I won't be disappointed. But now I'll say it: I predict Speaker Pelosi come January.
Democrats: 219
Republicans: 216

MI-3: Rinck has name recognition, which is unusual for Ehler's oppoonent. Plus, it's a bad year for Repubs, so he won't do as well as usual. (He usually gets 67% or better.
Ehlers* 61%
Rinck 38%

MI-4: More people know Huck in '06 than in '04... but they still like Camp!
Camp* 58%
Huckleberry 41%

State House:
56 Democrats
54 Republicans

District 72 (Kentwood, Cascade, Caledonia): I'm stuck with Prop 2 supporter and minimum wage opponent Steil for another two years.
Steil* 78%
Hinton 20%

District 75 (part of G.R.): This is an open seat, where the Dem challenger got 48% in '04 after barely campaigning.
Dean 52%
Doyle 48%

District 99 (Isabella + part of Midland): Putting it mildly, Partlo is a disaster. ICDP endorsee and 20-something Eric Welsby would break 40% if he had won the nomination. (He lost in the primary by 61 votes.)
Caul* 64%
Partlo 36%

State Senate:
19 Democrats, plus Lt. Gov. Cherry's tie-breaking vote
19 Republicans

District 29 (Grand Rapids, Kentwood): This district is split in terms of party lines. Six months ago, I would've said that Hardiman was a loock for re-election, getting around 60-65% of the vote. But LaGrand has surprised me. I predict it will be close, with the popular Hardiman edging out the also-popular LaGrand.
Hardiman* 49.7%
LaGrand 49.1%

District 33 (Isabella, Montcalm, Ionia, Clinton):
Cropsey* 59%
White 41%

The following races are listed in terms of what order each major candidate will finish in. Top two get elected.

State Board of Education: The 5-3 Dem majority remains.
1. Eileen Weiser*
2. Reginald Turner*
3. Tom McMillin
4. Casandra Ulbrich

U-M Regents: 5-3 Dems here too. Again, no change.
1. David Brandon*
2. Kathy White*
3. Julia Darlow
4. Susan Brown

MSU Trustees: For any candidate, name recognition is important. This is especially true here, and that will help Perles more than his actions at MSU will hurt him. The GOP holds a 5-3 majority. Look for an even 4-4 split now.
1. George Perles
2. Dave Porteous*
3. Dee Cook*
4. Faylene Owen

WSU Governors: Currently it's 6-2 Dems over GOP. One of the two Repubs is calling it quits, and Debbie Dingell has a lot of name recognoition for a candidate on this part of the ballot. Can you say 7-1?
1. Debbie Dingell
2. Eugene Driker*
3. Andrew McLemore
4. John Akouri

Supreme Court: When's the last time an incumbent justice lost for re-election?
Michael Cavanagh*
Maura Corrigan*
Jane Beckering
Marc Shulman

Kent County Drain Commissioner:
Byl 58%
McKay 42%

17th Circuit Court: Many judges, plus the Grand Rapids Press, are endorsing Trusock, but the all-powerful Right to Life is endorsing Brinkman. I smell a recount.
Brinkman 50.2%
Trusock 49.8%

Ballot proposals (in tems of what percentage of voters vote yes):
Proposal 1 (Conservation Trust Fund): 61% vote yes
Proposal 2 (Affirmative action ban): 46%
Proposal 3 (Allowing mourning dove hunting): 41%
Proposal 4 (Emnent domain): 64%
Proposal 5 (Education funding): 41%
So Props 1 and 4 pass, while 2, 3, and 5 are going down.