Over the course of his term, President George W. Bush upped the number of Republicans on federal courts by 12 percent. With then-chair of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, as his hired gun, Bush fought tooth and nail for that advantage. Here's how they did it:
Since 1917, presidents have been mailing out blue slips of paper to judicial nominees' home-state senators to invite comment on the nomination. In December 2002, Sen. Hatch announced he would not abide the tradition. No blue slip? No problem.
In New Orleans, "there is a white power structure and a black power structure but not really any in between," explains Latino community activist Jessica Venegas. Latinos hold little political power compared to their population size, which has tripled in the years since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Seeking to be that "in between" in the city's power structure, in 2007 the Latino community founded Puentes, the city's first Latino-run and Latino-serving organization. Along with many other community-based organizations across the Gulf Coast, Puentes is working to build social capital and to unify Latino voices so that for future crises, the community can avoid the kind of devastation it suffered in the wake of Katrina.
Over the last month or so, the drug war has been shifting and accelerating, punctuated on Wednesday by two drastic changes. On the domestic front, Barack Obama appointed his drug czar, former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, to the applause of folks like Joanna McKee who heads a medical marijuana advocacy group, and Norm Stamper, also a former Seattle police chief, who resigned so he could more freely support the legalization of drugs.
In what will probably be a rare show of GOP support, Vermont went for Republican incumbent Douglas, as expected (and by more than 50 percent, it seems, which was less clear), with Symington and Pollina splitting the difference. But Missouri, which has backed the GOP in recent years, strongly supported Nixon with 57 percent. In North Carolina, Democrat Bev Purdue has won by just a few percent. Keep your eyes peeled for Washington state results coming in after 11 p.m. EST.
In the last two weeks, both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the question of the Latino vote had been answered -- Latinos are going for Obama, two to one. But, as recently as September, Arturo Vargas, campaign insider and head of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said at a Council on Foreign Relations symposium: "[Obama and McCain] are in somewhat of a conundrum because they're trying to figure out how do they reach Latino voters -- how do they communicate to them, message to them?"