At least some people still care

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Germans, recently privy to news that Europe’s biggest telecommunications firm was illegally wiretapping phone calls, are recalling what life was like when East Germany’s secret police were still around:

Experts say sophisticated modern methods — involving digital data, computers and mobile phones — are a far cry from the days of the Stasi who used steaming devices to open envelopes as well as magnetic microphones and typewriters.

“But there are similarities. There is the same lack of scruples over looking into peoples’ lives — the possibility of obtaining and using the information on people,” said Staadt.

The Stasi ran a notoriously effective network of domestic and foreign agents to quash dissent and guard the Berlin Wall against would-be escapees.

Remember, Sen. John McCain wants to make sure telecom companies here in America are protected from lawsuits regarding their illegal eavesdropping – and he’s ready to keep spying if he’s elected president.

Reuters story via Laura Rozen.

Election Returns in the sidebar

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Handy Google Gadgets let me put Super Tuesday election returns right on the sidebar (that ling on the right). They’re running a bit late, since Huckabee won West Virginia already. Apparently, there was some interesting stuff going on between ballots in WV. Still, stick around throughout the evening.

I’m hearing (here in D.C.) that the lines in New Mexico are long. Good job people, way to vote! If you’re in a Super Tuesday state, get with it!

Accountability in an election year

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Jane at FDL informed us that Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama will be voting “no” for the cloture in the RESTORE Act (FISA reform bill) this afternoon. Tim over at OpenLeft commented on the expectations game for the two presidential candidates:

Look, it’s certainly great news they will be voting the right way here, but let’s be honest, so is Jay Rockefeller. This isn’t a tough vote. And frankly, they were gonna be back in D.C. anyway for the State of the Union.

And while we should be doing everything we possibly can to ensure we have the 41 votes necessary to stop cloture, it’s a vote that I don’t think is in doubt at this point (hope I don’t have to eat those words).

The real test of their leadership on this issue will come on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

That seems about right, but there’s one problem: there’s no real accountability on this issue this year, unless it comes during the primaries. While I’d love to see the media showcase any opposition to the RESTORE Act (in its current form) I doubt we’ll see much in the next week before Super Tuesday. However, regardless of what happens during the primary, there’s no way to really hold either candidate responsible: Democrats will coalesce behind the nominee regardless of their leadership (or lack thereof) on the FISA bill.

I agree with something Matt said yesterday:

One more reason to think that the weakness and conflict-aversion of the congressional Democrats is a bigger source of their low approval ratings than is any alleged overreaching. The President is very unpopular and people are apparently desperate for Congress to play a bigger role.

It would be something to see one of these Senators step up on this issue and really use the weight of their candidacy to lend support to Sen. Chris Dodd and his filibuster efforts. But you can color me skeptical: while there’s plenty of incentive for them to take a stand, there’s little in the way of a downside if they acquiesce.

Richardson’s third-place spot in Iowa in trouble?

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The latest Des Moines Register poll indicates Bill Richardson is holding on to his third-place spot in Iowa at the moment, but Mike Lux over at Open Left thinks Biden is the man to watch:

Biden has more momentum than Richardson or Dodd going into the final month, and is picking up traction in some places around the state. I expect him to finish fourth , but he has a very long way to go to pull off a shocker and get into the top three- he’s not surging by anywhere near that much, not yet at least.

The race in Iowa has an interesting mix of “WTF” going on right now, but I’ll put some stock in Lux’s thoughts since they’re not outside the realm of possibility. In addition, with Richardson “sucking up” to Hillary lately, who knows if he’s feeling some of the affects of Obama’s recent surge in the polls.

New Richardson ad on education released

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Richardson continues his Iowa onslaught with a new ad touting his education record in New Mexico, according to The Hill’s blog:

Richardson promises he will get rid of No Child Left Behind, create a minimum wage for teachers, make pre-k and kindergarten available to all children and create math and science academies throughout the United States.

The ad appears to be tied with a new website outlining Richardson’s planned education initiatives.