Friday, September 30, 2005

''CNN, MSNBC parroted DeLay's allegation that Earle is a ''partisan zealot'' but failed to note Earle's history of prosecuting Democrats''

"On September 28 and 29, CNN news personalities repeatedly cited and played footage of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) September 28 accusation that Travis County, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle is a "partisan fanatic" and an "unabashed partisan zealot" who is prosecuting DeLay for political reasons, without noting that most of the public officials Earle has prosecuted were Democrats. Similarly, on the September 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell aired DeLay's charges without noting Earle's history of prosecuting Democrats."-from Media Matters for America.

''Katrina Will Be Bush's Monica''

"A Tomdispatch Interview with Cindy Sheehan---My brief immersion in the almost unimaginable life of Cindy Sheehan begins on the Friday before the massive antiwar march past the White House. I take a cab to an address somewhere at the edge of Washington DC -- a city I don't know well -- where I'm to have a quiet hour with her. Finding myself on a porch filled with peace signs and vases of roses (assumedly sent for Sheehan), I ring the doorbell, only to be greeted by two barking dogs but no human beings. Checking my cell phone, I discover a message back in New York from someone helping Sheehan out. Good Morning America has just called; plans have changed. Can I make it to Constitution and 15th by five? I rush to the nearest major street and, from a bus stop, fruitlessly attempt to hail a cab. The only empty one passes me by and a young black man next to me offers an apologetic commentary: "I hate to say this, but they probably think you're hailing it for me and they don't want to pick me up." On his recommendation, I board a bus, leaping off (twenty blocks of crawl later) at the sight of a hotel with a cab stand. few minutes before five, I'm finally standing under the Washington monument, beneath a cloud-dotted sky, in front of "Camp Casey," a white tent with a blazing red "Bring them home tour" banner. Behind the tent is a display of banged-up, empty soldiers' boots; and then, stretching almost as far as the eye can see or the heart can feel, a lawn of small white crosses, nearly two thousand of them, some with tiny American flags planted in the nearby ground. In front of the serried ranks of crosses is a battered looking metal map of the United States rising off a rusty base. Cut out of it are the letters, "America in Iraq, killed ___, wounded ___." (It's wrenching to note that, on this strange sculpture with eternal letters of air, only the figures of 1,910 dead and 14,700 wounded seem ephemeral, written as they are in white chalk over a smeared chalk background, evidence of numerous erasures.)

This is, at the moment, Ground Zero for the singular movement of Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey, who was killed in Sadr City, Baghdad on April 4, 2004, only a few days after arriving in Iraq. Her movement began in the shadows and on the Internet, but burst out of a roadside ditch in Crawford, Texas, and, right now, actually seems capable of changing the political map of America. When I arrive, Sheehan is a distant figure, walking with a crew from Good Morning America amid the white crosses. I'm told by Jodie, a stalwart of Code Pink, the women's antiwar group, in a flamboyant pink-feathered hat, just to hang in there along with Joan Baez, assorted parents of soldiers, vets, admirers, tourists, press people, and who knows who else.

As Sheehan approaches, she's mobbed. She hugs some of her greeters, poses for photos with others, listens briefly while people tell her they came all the way from California or Colorado just to see her, and accepts the literal T-shirt off the back of a man, possibly a vet, with a bandana around his forehead, who wants to give her "the shirt off my back." She is brief and utterly patient. She offers a word to everyone and anyone. At one point, a man shoves a camera in my hand so that he and his family can have proof of this moment -- as if Cindy Sheehan were already some kind of national monument, which in a way she is.

But, of course, she's also one human being, even if she's on what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton would call a "survivor mission" for her son. Exhaustion visibly inhabits her face. (Later, she'll say to me, "Most people, if they came with me for a day, would be in a coma by eleven A.M.") She wears a tie-dyed, purple T-shirt with "Veterans for Peace" on the front and "waging peace" on the back. Her size surprises me. She's imposing, far taller than I expected, taller certainly than my modest five-foot, six inches. Perhaps I'm startled only because I'd filed her away -- despite every strong commentary I'd read by her – as a grieving mother and so, somehow, a diminished creature.

And then, suddenly, a few minutes after five, Jodie is hustling me into the backseat of a car with Cindy Sheehan beside me, and Joan Baez beside her. Cindy's sister Dede, who wears an "Anything war can do, peace can do better" T-shirt and says to me later, "I'm the behind-the-scenes one, I'm the quiet one," climbs into the front seat. As soon as the car leaves the curb, Cindy turns to me: "We better get started."

"Now?" I ask, flustered at the thought of interviewing her under such chaotic conditions. She offers a tired nod -- I'm surely the 900th person of this day -- and says, "It's the only way it'll happen." And so, with my notebook (tiny printed questions scattered across several pages) on my knees, clutching my two cheap tape recorders for dear life and shoving them towards her, we begin:

Tomdispatch: You've said that the failed bookends of George Bush's presidency are Iraq and Katrina. And here we are with parts of New Orleans flooded again. Where exactly do you see us today?

Cindy Sheehan: Well, the invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake, and the invasion and occupation have been seriously mismanaged. The troops don't have what they need. The money's being dropped into the pockets of war profiteers and not getting to our soldiers. It's a political war. Not only should we not be there, it's making our country very vulnerable. It's creating enemies for our children's children. Killing innocent Arabic Muslims, who had no animosity towards the United States and meant us no harm, is only creating more problems for us.

Katrina was a natural disaster that nobody could help, but the man-made disaster afterwards was just horrible. I mean, number one, all our resources are in Iraq. Number two, what little resources we did have were deployed far too late. George Bush was golfing and eating birthday cake with John McCain while people were hanging off their houses praying to be rescued. He's so disconnected from this country -- and from reality. I heard a line yesterday that I thought was perfect. This man said he thinks Katrina will be Bush's Monica. Only worse.

TD: It seems logical that the families of dead soldiers should lead an antiwar movement, but historically it's almost unique. I wondered if you had given some thought to why it happened here and now.

CS: That's like people asking me, "Why didn't anybody ever think of going to George Bush's ranch to protest anything?"

TD: I was going to ask you that too…

CS: [Laughs.] I don't know. I just thought of it and went down to do it. It was so serendipitous. I was supposed to go to England for a week in August to do Downing Street [Memo] events with [Congressman] John Conyers. That got cancelled. I was supposed to go to Arkansas for a four-day convention. That got cancelled. So I had my whole month free. I was going to be in Dallas for the Veteran's for Peace convention. The last straw was on Wednesday, August 3 -- the fourteen Marines who were killed and George Bush saying that all of our soldiers had died for a noble cause and we had to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by continuing the mission. I had just had it. That was enough and I had this idea to go to Crawford.

The first day we were there -- this is how unplanned it was -- we were sitting in lawn chairs, about six of us, underneath the stars with one flashlight between us, and we were going to the bathroom in a ten-gallon bucket.

DeDe: Five-gallon…

CS: A Five-gallon bucket, sorry. So that's how well planned this action was. We just planned it as we were going along and, for something so spontaneous, it turned out to be incredibly powerful and successful. It's hard for some people to believe how spontaneous it was.

TD: You've written that George Bush refusing to meet with you was the spark that lit the prairie fire -- and that his not doing so reflected his cowardice. You also said that if he had met you that fatal… fateful day…

Joan Baez: Fatal day…

TD: Fatal -- it was fatal for him -- things might have turned out quite differently.

CS: If he had met with me, I know he would have lied to me. I would have called him on his lies and it wouldn't have been a good meeting, but I would have left Crawford. I would have written about it, probably done a few interviews, but it wouldn't have sparked this exciting, organic, huge peace movement. So he really did the peace movement a favor by not meeting with me.

TD: I thought his fatal blunder was to send out [National Security Advisor Stephen] Hadley and [Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe] Hagin as if you were the prime minister of Poland. [She laughs.] And it suddenly made you in terms of the media…

CS: …credible.

TD: So what did Hadley and Hagen say to you?

CS: They said, "What do you want to tell the President?" I said, "I want to ask the President, what is the noble cause my son died for?" And they kept telling me: Keep America safe from terrorism for freedom and democracy. Blah-blah-blah… all the excuses I wasn't going to take, except from the President. Then we talked about weapons of mass destruction and the lack thereof, about how they had really believed it. I was: Well, really, Mr. Stephen (Yellowcake Uranium) Hadley… I finally said, "This is a waste of time. I might be a grieving mother, but I'm not stupid. I'm very well informed and I want to meet with the President." And so they said, "Okay, we'll pass on your concerns to the President."

They said at one point, "We didn't come out here thinking we'd change your mind on policy." And I said, "Yes you did." They thought they were going to intimidate me, that they were going to impress me with the high level of administration official they had sent out, and after they explained everything to me, I was going to go [her voice becomes liltingly mocking], "Ohhhh, I really never saw it that way. Okay, let's go guys." You know, that's exactly what they thought they were going to do to me. And I believe it was a move that did backfire because, as you said, it gave me credibility and then, all of a sudden, the White House press corps thought this might be a story worth covering.

TD: What was that like? I had been reading your stuff on the Internet for over a year, but…

CS: I think in progressive circles I was very well known. But all of a sudden I was known all over the world. My daughters were in Europe when my mother had her stroke. My husband and I decided not to tell the girls. We didn't want to ruin their vacation, but they saw it on TV. So it really just spread like wildfire. And not only did it bring wanted attention, it brought unwanted attention from the right-wing media. But that didn't affect me, that didn't harm me at all.

I'd been doing this a long time. I'd been on Wolf Blitzer, Chris Mathews, all those shows. I'd done press conferences. It was just the intensity that spiked up. But my message has always remained the same. I didn't just fall off some pumpkin truck on August 6th and start doing this. The media couldn't believe someone like me could be so articulate and intelligent and have my own message. Number one, I'm a woman; number two, I'm a grieving mother; so they had the urge to marginalize me, to pretend like somebody's pulling my strings. Our President's not even articulate and intelligent. Someone must be pulling his strings, so someone must be pulling Cindy Sheehan's too. That offended me. Oh my gosh, you think someone has to put words into my mouth! [She laughs.] Do some research!

TD: Did you feel they were presenting you without some of your bluntness?

CS: God forbid anybody speak bluntly or tell the truth. Teresa Heinz Kerry, they marginalized her too because she always spoke her mind.

TD: Would you like to speak about your bluntness a little because words you use like "war crimes" aren't ones Americans hear often.

CS: All you have to do is look at the Nuremberg Tribunal or the Geneva Conventions. Clearly they've committed war crimes. Clearly. It's black and white. It's not me coming up with this abstract idea. It's like, well, did you put a bullet in that person's head or didn't you? "Yes I did." Well, that's a crime. It's not shades of grey. They broke every treaty. They broke our own Constitution. They broke Nuremberg. They broke the Geneva Conventions. Everything. And if somebody doesn't say it, does it mean it didn't happen? Somebody has to say it, and I'll say it. I've called George Bush a terrorist. He says a terrorist is somebody who kills innocent people. That's his own definition. So, by George Bush's own definition, he is a terrorist, because there are almost 100,000 innocent Iraqis that have been killed. And innocent Afghanis that have been killed.

And I think a lot of the mainstream opposition is glad I'm saying it, because they don't have to say it. They're not strong enough or brave enough or they think they have something politically at stake. We've had Congress members talk about impeachment and war crimes. I've heard them. But they're the usual suspects. They're marginalized too. They've always been against the war, so we can't listen to them.

You know, I had always admired people like the woman who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving or John Walsh for starting the Adam Walsh Foundation after his son was killed. I thought I could never do anything like that to elevate my suffering or my tragedy, and then, when it happened to me, I found out I did have the strength.

[It's about 5:30 when we pull up at a Hyatt Hotel. Cindy, Dede, and I proceed to the deserted recesses of the hotel's restaurant where Cindy has her first modest meal of the day. The rest of the interview takes place between spoonfuls of soup.]

TD: I've read a lot of articles about you in which your son Casey is identified as an altar boy or an Eagle Scout, but would you be willing to tell me a little more about him?

CS: He was very calm. He never got mad. He never got too wild. One way or the other, he didn't waver much. I have another son and two daughters. He was the oldest one and they just idolized him. He never gave anybody trouble, but he was a procrastinator, the kind of person who, if he had a big project at school, would wait until the day before to do it. But when he had a job -- he worked full time before he went into the Army and he was never late for work or missed a day in two years. I think that's pretty amazing. The reason we talk about him being an altar boy was that church was his number one priority, even when he was away from us in the Army. He helped at the chapel. He never missed Mass. He was an usher. He was a Eucharistic minister. When he was at home, he was heavily involved in my youth ministry.

For eight years I was a youth minister at our parish and for three of those years in high school he was in my youth group; then for three of those years in college he helped me.

TD: Tell me about his decision to join the Army.

CS: A recruiter got hold of him, probably at a vulnerable point in his life, promised him a lot of things, and didn't fulfill one of the promises. It was May of 2000. There was no 9/11. George Bush hadn't even happened. When George Bush became his commander-and-chief, my son's doom was sealed. George Bush wanted to invade Iraq before he was even elected president. While he was still governor of Texas he was talking about: "If I was commander-and-chief, this is what I would do."

Back then, my son was promised a twenty thousand dollar signing bonus. He only got four thousand dollars of that when he finished his advanced training. He was promised a laptop, so he could take classes from wherever he was deployed in the world. He never got that. They promised him he could finish college because he only had one year left when he went in the Army. They would never let him take a class. They promised him he could be a chaplain's assistant which was what he really wanted to do; but, when he got to boot camp, they said that was full and he could be a Humvee mechanic or a cook. So he chose Humvee mechanic. The most awful thing the recruiter promised him was: Even if there was a war, he wouldn't see combat because he scored so high on the ASVAB [Career Exploration] tests. He would only be in war in a support role. He was in Iraq for five days before he was killed in combat.

TD: Did you discuss Iraq with him at all?

CS: Yes we did. He didn't agree with it. Nobody in our family agreed with it. He said, "I wish I didn't have to go, Mom, but I have to. It's my duty and my buddies are going." I believe we as Americans have every right to, and should be willing to, defend our country if we're in danger. But Iraq had nothing to do with keeping America safe. So that's why we disagreed with it. He reenlisted after the invasion of Iraq, because he was told if he didn't, he'd have to go to Iraq anyway -- he'd be stop-lossed -- but if he did, he'd get to choose a new MOS [military specialty] when he got home.

TD: Can you tell me something about your own political background?

CS: I've always been a pretty liberal democrat, but I don't think this issue is partisan. I think it's life and death. Nobody asked Casey what political party he belonged to before they sent him to die in an unjust and immoral war.

TD: You met with Hillary Clinton yesterday, didn't you? What do you think generally of the Democratic... well, whatever it is?

CS: They've been very weak. I think Kerry lost because he didn't come out strong against the war. He came out to be even more of a nightmare than George Bush. You know, we'll put more troops in; I'll hunt down terrorists; I'll kill them! That wasn't the right thing to say. The right thing to say was: This war was wrong; George Bush lied to us; people are dead because of it; they shouldn't be dead; and if I'm elected, I'll do everything to get our troops home as soon as possible. Then, instead of seeing the failure Kerry was with his middle-of-the-road, wishy-washy, cowardly policies, the rest of the Democrats have just kept saying the same things.

Howard Dean came out and said he hopes that the President is successful in Iraq. What's that mean? How can somebody be successful when we have no goals or defined mission or objectives to achieve there? They've been very cowardly and spineless. What we did at Camp Casey was give them some spine. The doors are open to them, Democrats and Republicans alike. As [former Congressman and Win Without War Director] Tom Andrews said, if they won't see the light, they'll feel the heat. And I think they're feeling the heat.

I can see it happening. I can see some Republicans like Chuck Hagel and Walter Jones breaking ranks with the party line. We met with a Republican yesterday -- I don't want to say his name because I don't want to scare him off -- but he seems to be somebody we can work with. Of course, as it gets closer to the congressional elections, we'll be letting his constituents know that he can be worked with.

TD: So you're planning to go into the elections as a force?

CS: It's totally about the war, about their position on the war. If people care about that issue, then that's what they should make it about too. We're starting a "Meet with the Moms" campaign. We're going to target every single congressman and senator to show their constituents exactly where they stand on the war. People in the state of New York, for instance, should look at their senators and say, if you don't come out for bringing our troops home as soon as possible, we're not going to reelect you.

TD: Did Hillary give you any satisfaction at all?

CS: Her position is still to send in more troops and honor the sacrifices of the fallen, which sounds like a Bush position, but the dialogue was open.

TD: Don't you think it's strange, these politicians like [Senator] Joe Biden, for example, who talk about sending in more troops, even though we all know there are no more troops?

CS: Yes... Where you gettin' ‘em? Where you gettin' ‘em? It's crazy. I mean we're going to send more troops in there and leave our country even more vulnerable? Leave us open for attack somewhere else, or to be attacked by natural and man-made disasters again?

TD: You want the troops out now. Bush isn't about to do that, but have you thought about how you would proceed if you could?

CS: When we say now, we don't mean that they can all come home tomorrow. I hope everybody knows that. We have to start by withdrawing our troops from the cities, bringing them to the borders and getting them out. We have to replace our military with something that looks Arabic, something that looks Iraqi, to rebuild their country. You know, they have the technology, they have the skills, but they don't have any jobs right now. How desperate for a job does one have to be to stand in line to apply to the Iraqi National Guard? I mean, they're killed just standing in line! Give the Iraqis as much help and support as they need to rebuild their country which is in chaos. When our military presence leaves, a lot of the violence and insurgency will die. There will be some regional struggles with the different communities in Iraq, but that's happening right now. The British put together a country that should never have been put together. Maybe it should be split into three different countries -- who knows? But that's up to them, not us.

TD: And what do you actually expect? We have three and a half more years of this administration…

CS: No we don't! [She chuckles.] I think Katrina's going to be his Monica. It's not a matter of "if" any more, it's a matter of "when," because clearly… clearly, they're criminals. I mean, look at the people who got the first no-bid contracts to clean-up and rebuild New Orleans. It's Halliburton again. It's crazy. One negative effect of Camp Casey was it took a lot of heat off Karl Rove for his hand in the [Valerie] Plame case. But I hear indictments are coming down soon. So that's one way it's going to come about. George Bush is getting ready to implode. I mean have you seen him lately? He's a man who's out of control."-from

Thursday, September 29, 2005

''Dean Calls on Republican Leadership to Repudiate Bill Bennett's Racist Remarks"

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Former Republican Secretary of Education William Bennett remarked yesterday on his radio show that, "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement:

"Bill Bennett's hateful, inflammatory remarks regarding African Americans are simply inexcusable. They are particularly unacceptable from a leader in the conservative movement and former Secretary of Education, once charged with the well being of every American school child. He should apologize immediately. This kind of statement is hardly compassionate conservatism; rather, Bennett's comments demonstrate a reprehensible racial insensitivity and ignorance. Are these the values of the Republican Party and its conservative allies? If not, President Bush, Ken Mehlman and the Republican Leadership should denounce them immediately as hateful, divisive and worthy only of scorn.

As Americans, we should focus on the virtues that bring us together, not hatred that tears us apart and unjustly scapegoats fellow Americans."-from the DNC.

''Dean Statement on Senate Vote on Judge Roberts''

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement on the Senate vote to approve John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court:

"Despite his refusal to answer basic questions about his views and record, John Roberts is set to begin his lifetime appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Sadly, the White House stonewall means that Americans simply do not know what type of Chief Justice John Roberts will be, and must now cross their fingers and hope that Roberts will interpret the Constitution to protect the rights and freedoms of every American.

"When President Bush makes his next Supreme Court nomination, he owes the American people better than the obstruction, distortion and delay his Administration employed to win Roberts' approval. Whoever replaces Justice O'Connor will be the crucial swing vote on a wide variety of issues the Court will face in the coming decades. The American people should not have to cross their fingers and hope once again that the next Supreme Court justice will be committed to upholding their rights and freedoms.

"Democrats are committed to standing up for what we believe and will fight any nominee whose views fall outside of the mainstream, who is not qualified to sit on our nation's highest court and who refuses to provide honest and straightforward answers about their record and views."-from the DNC.

''Senate Democrats Divided on Roberts Nomination''

"The Senate is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as U.S. chief justice Thursday. Democrats -- especially those who are thinking about running for president in 2008 -- must weigh the political ramifications of their votes."-Mara Liasson handles this task for NPR (audio).

''Briefing From Governor Dean''

"I attended a briefing this evening by Governor Howard Dean for DNC contributors. I summarize his remarks below. I am relating his comments in his voice, but these are not necessarily direct quotes.

'The Democratic Party has been out of date for 30 years. For 30 years the Republicans have been building an infrastructure that exists between election cycles and allows them to maintain a constant prescience. For years the Democratic Party has assumed that a charismatic candidate will come along and overwhelm the Republican machine with his personality, another JKF or Bill Clinton. The Republican organization is so good that they can get any imbecile elected (witness Bush). When I came in as head of the DNC, Terry left me with a good budget and a really nice building full of up-to-date technology. What I didn't have was an organization on the ground and a database.

During the last election the local parties, ACT and others built incredible databases, but nobody knows where they are anymore. With every election cycle we have to start over because the DNC didn't keep the lists. We need to do that now, we need a database. We won't fundraise from it, we'll give it back to all of you so you can organize and fundraise for each local and state election.

I am bringing in a new strategy. We can't win if we run in 18 states, we need to run in 50 states. The first thing I did when I took over at the DNC was go to Mississippi. No Democrat had been there in years, they thought the people there didn't welcome northeastern liberals. Well, they were wrong. There were 900 people at this meeting, we ran out of seats we ran out of food, we had to order pizza for people spilling into the streets. Every former Democratic governor, every former and current legislator came. That told me that these people were hungry for help and they want to win. So I'm going to help them. We may not win the presidential election in Alabama in 2008, but we may win the governor's seat. In Mississippi, a small Democratic majority in the state legislature is all that is keeping 50,000 kids from losing their health care. These are important moral issues. It is our moral obligation to stand up for our beliefs and the people we have always spoken for every where in the country. We cannot cede territory to the Republicans. We need for people there to hear our side, someone to give our message voice.

When I came to the DNC, the Mississippi Democratic Party had 1.5 staffers. We just sent them 4 more, we tripled their staff. As of today we have at least several fulltime staff paid for by the DNC in 35 states. In two weeks that will be 43 states. By the end of the year that will be 50 states. That what your contributions are paying for. To build a permanent organization on the ground. We are getting there now and we are staying there for 2006, for 2008 and beyond. We need stability and we need lists. We need lists to give back to people, it's part of the organization, lists of people we can call on to work, to vote.

The Democratic Party needs a national message. We are smart people, we know how to fix every problem, but a list of policy positions is not a message. For 8 months I've been working to develop a message. But that message is not going to be handed down from people in Washington. People in Washington with political experience lost us the last two elections. So I spent the summer traveling around the country listening to Democrats in local communities and asking people what they care about, asking candidates what they want to talk about in their campaign.

Everywhere I went I heard the same core issues. People care about 4 things: 1). Jobs and economic development; 2). Health care; 3). Education; 4). National security. But 4 issues is not a message. We have been talking to people's heads, explaining things to them, when we need to talk to their hearts. We are working with people who are not politicians but who are really good at messages. By the end of the year we will have a coherent message to use nation wide that will resonate in any part of the country. The biggest challenge may be getting the politicians in Washington to stick to the message. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are with me. When the others see the message working they will use it too. If it doesn't work, they'll toss me out.

A message is a statement of values and principles, not a set of policies or positions. When we tell people we want to give them universal health care, no child left behind and such, what they hear us say is that we want to raise their children for them. If you look at our positions on issues from abortion to the Iraq War to education, polls show that people agree with our positions. It's the way we frame the message that matters. George Bush figured this out long ago. He talks about values, except he uses gay marriage and abortion as the metaphor. When the Republicans call us pro-abortion and we start defending abortion, we have let them frame the issue. I was on the board of Planned Parenthood in Vermont for 5 years and I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion. We cannot let them frame the debate and go on the defensive. We should talk to people more about values and morals because people agree with us.

Our message will be about community, honesty in government, and we will have our own version of the Contract with America. It will be a clear message that distinguishes us from the Republicans. We'll have it by the end of this year.

We are also developing an email list of 10,000 activists. Every week the list will get an instruction to write a letter to the editor and to call their local talk show hosts, even the conservative ones, and they will have talking points to discuss. The Republicans have been doing this and we need to get our message out there. You won't get on Rush, but you will get on your local radio program. They may ridicule and denigrate you, but you will get out our message. It will part of the messaging and branding of our party.

We've been a party defending a 70 year old system. And we should defend what is good about our system like Social Security. But we've had a problem articulating new ideas, bold ideas. I will be mean, tough, and I will often say things people wish I hadn't. But what I won't do is stoop to their level of greed, indifference to the country and the American people, and uncaring. Having said that, my political models are Gingrich and Rove. Gingrich came to power with a clear message and took advantage of corruption in Congress, We have a similar opportunity now. We do not need to move the party to the right. We only need to stand up for what we believe in.

Governor Dean was asked about the national security issue. He said we are in a tough spot. He believes we lost the last election over security issues. He said he thought Kerry made a big mistake by not immediately defending himself against the Swift Boat attack, that it gave people the impression that if he couldn't or wouldn't defend himself, then how could he defend the country. He said that most of the Democrats in Washington want to get out of Iraq, and the majority of people also want to, but maybe not right away. It is difficult to formulate a position to convince the public that we are strong on defense, that we will "pull the trigger" when needed, while advocating for a pull out from Iraq.

He was also asked about taking advantage of the scandals and incompetence the Republicans have demonstrated in spades recently. He said that Democrats are out there every day talking about these things. He said he also wants to be patient, because he wants Bush to be the story, not the Democrats response to Bush. He said we have no power, we cannot enact any change, we have no role in running the government now. As such, it can hurt us more to speak out at times than to let the Republicans swing in the breeze. The Democrats have only one job right now, to get rid of Bush and the Republicans. We cannot influence anything until we return to power. This frustrated a lot of people in the room, who felt the Democrats should be constantly pushing agenda items. The governor said that strategically, that doesn't work, that we cannot influence anything right now and it can hurt us to become the story and be put on the defensive."-from Ramsey's Diary on Kos, tipped by Howard-Empowered People.

''Howard Dean on Nightline''

"Last night on Nightline, Howard Dean was interviewed by Ted Koppel in response to Tom DeLay's indictment by a Texas Grand Jury. I recorded the interview, and you can find my transcript below.

Koppel: A little over four months ago Governor Dean, you were prepared to see Tom DeLay in jail without benefit of an indictment or a trial. Uhh…I mean, you already had him there. So, what’s your reaction now that there is at least an indictment? (Editor's note: Not only is that a bratty question, but it was executed badly. If you’re going to go the asshat route, you really need to finesse it better than that.)
Dean: Well, I think that this is endemic, both in the White House and in the government. It’s a culture of corruption; the Republicans have bought Washington. A couple of weeks ago, the chief procurement officer in the White House was arrested on corruption charges, Tom DeLay is now indicted, but he has been convicted three times in the ethics committee of the House for ethical violations. Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House is now under investigation along with a senior person on Vice President Cheney’s staff, and now of course the majority leader of the Senate Bill Frist is being looked at for insider stock trading. So the Tom DeLay issue is an issue that’s been at the forefront, but it’s not just about Tom DeLay. It’s a thorough culture of corruption which has permeated the Bush administration, which has been brought to Washington by them, and we need to change it, and we can do better in this country.
Koppel: Governor, you were careful enough in each case to indicate that there are charges, there are suggestions—in no case has anybody been convicted of anything. So, to speak about a culture of corruption before any legal procedure has confirmed that seems a little premature, doesn’t it? Dean: I don’t think so. I think when you have the Majority Leader who is now under indictment, having been admonished three times by the ethics committee, there is already a culture of corruption. You have the Senate leader trying to protest that he had nothing to do with insider trading. Look, this is a pattern, Ted. It’s a pattern that recurs again and again in this particular administration. We need a fundamental change in Washington—we need to get away from this. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If this was one case of one congressman, that would be one thing. The House Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House, Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, the Chief Procurement Officer in the White House…this is pretty serious stuff and I think that the President frankly ought to repudiate it and he hasn’t done anything. He’s stood by all these people. You know, we need some leadership in this country, and we need a president who will stand up for ethics in government, and we don’t have that president now.
Koppel: You clearly believe or you wouldn’t be saying these things that somehow this is going to resonate well with the American public. I guess my question would be do you think the American public is going to respond to what it sees as a partisan attack, by which I mean an attack which comes before the courts have spoken.
Dean: Look, Tom DeLay was indicted by a jury of Texans. I don’t know if there’s 12 or 15 that sit in the Grand Jury in Texas, but this is not a partisan indictment. This is an indictment of his peers. His peers thought there was enough evidence to turn this into a trial, and it’s going to happen.
Koppel: Look, you know full well that an indictment—they often say that a good Attorney General can get an indictment with a ham and swiss sandwich. An indictment doesn’t mean necessarily mean that someone’s going to be convicted.
Dean: The Republicans, of course, would make that scheme. But this problem is, this is a pattern with Tom DeLay. This is not the first time he’s been in trouble. This is not the second time or even the third time he’s been in trouble. This is the fourth time he’s been in trouble, and the previous three times he was found by his own committee, his ethics committee in the House to in fact have been guilty of what he was charged of. So I think we again see a pervasive pattern of corruption in Washington at all levels: in the White House, in the Senate, and in the House. And this is the first indictment of a major political figure, but there have been previous indictments, both Jack Abramoff who was both a big fundraiser for the President and very close to Tom DeLay, the arrest of the Chief Procurement Officer in the White House…again and again we see a lot of this, and I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Koppel: Let me ask you to keep your hat as Democratic National Chairman on for a moment, and give me a frankly partisan assessment of how, if at all, this can help the Democrats.
Dean: Well, I don’t think it helps the country at all—that’s the big issue. I mean, in times like these you kind of wince. This is not good for America. We’ve had some terrible blows: we’ve had the President’s blunders in Iraq, we’ve had the disaster Katrina which embarrassed us in front of the whole world, and now the whole world again gets to see the leadership in both the White House and the House and the Senate be indicted or investigated or arrested for corruption. It’s not a great time for America. I think Americans are sick of this. And I can tell you one thing; when we get back in power, which I believe is going to be in 2006 in the congressional, we’re going to have some ethics reform in Washington. We’re going to get tough, and we’re going to get tough on everybody, not just Republicans. Enough of this in Washington! We ought to have substantial ethics reforms in Congress and to get serious about this.
Koppel: Governor Dean, it’s good of you to come in and join us. Thanks very much.
Dean: Thanks, Ted."-from Renee In Ohio on Howard-Empowered People.

''The Last Passion of the Democratic Party''

"Conviction can move mountains; it can make the dreams of a Martin Luther King Jr. come true; it can change the attitudes of millions of Americans and appeal to their higher sense of fairness and decency. But if you don't have conviction, you can't have passion -- and if you don't have passion, you're just sitting in the shadow of those who do. Unfortunately, this means that the right wing's passion marginalizes most of the Democrats in Congress into insignificant timid back benchers."-from the BuzzFlash editorial today.

''The 2003-04 Dean takedown''

"I'm currently writing a section on the rise of Howard Dean and his takedown during the primary campaign. I'm currently looking for good information on the takedown component of the story -- the Dean-to-Osama morph ad in Iowa, the DLC attacks, the insider snickering ("Meetups a scene out of the Star Wars cantina"). That sort of thing. Ultimately, Dean did himself in -- the scream only happened after he lost big in Iowa. But there was an establishment effort to knock him down.

One obvious question is whether you guys know of good writeups about that period of the campaign? I remember a lot of what happened, but I don't have the best memory. Google has its limits.

But even if you don't have any particular article in mind, many of us lived those crazy months following every twist and turn of the primary. What are your thoughts on what happened to Dean? I'm sure many of you have theories."-Kos, this morning. Some of the comments are brilliant.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

''Right Wing Media Gets Desperate''

"Recently, Air America Radio came under attack from the same cast of right wing media characters who have attacked the Network for ideological reasons from day one. A recent piece in the New York Post by John Mainelli states that “Air America is in...bad financial shape.” On September 20th Bill O’Reilly on Fox News which, like the New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation said that Air America “could be on its last legs.”

This is untrue.

Air America is in strong financial shape. Last week we started broadcasting from our new multi-million dollar studios. Several weeks earlier the Board of Directors of Air America’s parent company accelerated re-payment of a loan from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club of $875,000 two years in advance of a previously agreed upon re-payment plan. In the last several months, Air America has expanded its executive team to augment our efforts on the internet and in affiliate relations. The pretext for the latest smears is an initiative I launched last week called Air America Associates, in which I asked our listeners to support our programming financially and at various levels offer bumper stickers, tote bags, etc. as a way of thanking them. (We received thousands of responses, far beyond what we projected for the first few days).

Many of our listeners also listen to NPR stations and Pacifica and are used to supporting radio programming they like. I got the idea from the Nation Magazine’s program “The Nation Associates” which helps them fund investigative journalism. Like Air America Radio, The Nation is a for-profit company.

But the conservative propagandists have tried to make it seem like there is something unseemly because Air America Radio is both commercial—and a radio network, as O’Reilly said last night, “I have never seen a commercial enterprise ask their listeners for money—ever” This is also false. The modern model of the broadcasting business involves numerous revenue streams. If anything, Air America has been late in fully building such an infrastructure which the “Associates” is a part of."-from Air America CEO Danny Goldberg, on The Huffington Post.

''DNC Chairman Dean on DeLay Indictment''

"Today, the state of Texas is doing what the Republican-controlled federal government has failed repeatedly to do, which is hold Republicans in Washington accountable for their culture of corruption. This alleged illegal activity reaches to the highest levels of the Republican Party.

With House Republican Leader Tom DeLay under criminal indictment, Senate Republican Leader Frist facing SEC and Department of Justice investigations, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove under investigation, the Republican leadership in Washington is now spending more time answering questions about ethical misconduct than doing the people's business.

Tom DeLay is neither the beginning nor the end of the Washington Republicans' ethical problems. America can do better than leaders who use their power to promote their own personal interests instead of the interests of the American people who elected them. We simply must change the way business is done in Washington."-from the DNC.

Howard Dean on TV

"Via the DNC blog, Howard Dean will be on Nightline tonight discussing the indictment of Tom DeLay. He will also be on CNN's "American Morning" and ABC's "Good Morning America" tomorrow morning."-from the Howard-Empowered People website.

''Statement of Senator Patty Murray on Judge John Roberts''

"WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced her vote in favor of Judge John Roberts as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States.
Senator Murray’s statement follows." It's a such long message, no wonder it took so long for her to announce her decision.

''Washington Republicans’ Ties Raise Serious Questions''

"Today, a Texas grand jury indicted Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) on the charge of criminal conspiracy. DeLay could face up to two years in jail. Congressman DeLay was also forced to step down as House Majority Leader.
This is the culmination of months of investigation into DeLay’s activities. These investigations have uncovered a simmering culture of corruption that runs rampant throughout the Republican party. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is currently being investigated by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) as a result of his shady dealings with HCA Inc.
Last year, House Republicans voted to weaken ethics rules in order to protect their leader. They reversed their actions only after intense political pressure. How far have the tentacles of this culture of corruption reached into Washington State? Our Republican delegation has significant ties to DeLay. What will be uncovered next?

Congressman Richard “Doc” Hastings (R-4): Hastings chairs the House Ethics Committee, the body whose duty is to investigate any ethics inquiries involving a member of the House. Under his leadership, the House Ethics Committee has stood at a standstill, as Hastings has employed obstructionary tactics to prevent the committee from doing its job. Why has this happened? Hastings took more than $4000 in campaign cash from DeLay during the 1993-1994 campaign cycle, and accepted more than $1000 from him during the 1997-1998 cycle []. Hastings also has ties to corrupt super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8): Last year, amidst ethics investigations involving other activities, DeLay came to Western Washington to campaign for Reichert. Reichert also accepted $20,000 in campaign contributions from DeLay. Who does Dave Reichert want to represent -- Tom DeLay's conservative, win-at-all-costs wing of the Republican Party or the independent voters of the 8th Congressional District?

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (R-5): McMorris accepted $5000 in campaign cash from DeLay. This came only days after DeLay was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee. What does this say about McMorris?

All three members of our Republican delegation have voted with DeLay, and down the party line, at least 96% of the time.

This is not acceptable! We must have faith in our delegation in Congress and trust that they will fairly represent us and our concerns. Please support the Washington State Democrats in their mission to defeat these Republican "Yes" men."-email from the Washington State Democrats.

''Statement of Senator Patty Murray on Judge John Roberts''

"WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced her vote in favor of Judge John Roberts as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States. Senator Murray’s statement follows." It's such long message, no wonder it took so long for her to announce her decision.

''Washington Republicans’ Ties Raise Serious Questions''

"Today, a Texas grand jury indicted Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) on the charge of criminal conspiracy. DeLay could face up to two years in jail. Congressman DeLay was also forced to step down as House Majority Leader.
This is the culmination of months of investigation into DeLay’s activities. These investigations have uncovered a simmering culture of corruption that runs rampant throughout the Republican party. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is currently being investigated by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) as a result of his shady dealings with HCA Inc.
Last year, House Republicans voted to weaken ethics rules in order to protect their leader. They reversed their actions only after intense political pressure. How far have the tentacles of this culture of corruption reached into Washington State? Our Republican delegation has significant ties to DeLay. What will be uncovered next?
Congressman Richard “Doc” Hastings (R-4): Hastings chairs the House Ethics Committee, the body whose duty is to investigate any ethics inquiries involving a member of the House. Under his leadership, the House Ethics Committee has stood at a standstill, as Hastings has employed obstructionary tactics to prevent the committee from doing its job. Why has this happened? Hastings took more than $4000 in campaign cash from DeLay during the 1993-1994 campaign cycle, and accepted more than $1000 from him during the 1997-1998 cycle []. Hastings also has ties to corrupt super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8): Last year, amidst ethics investigations involving other activities, DeLay came to Western Washington to campaign for Reichert. Reichert also accepted $20,000 in campaign contributions from DeLay. Who does Dave Reichert want to represent -- Tom DeLay's conservative, win-at-all-costs wing of the Republican Party or the independent voters of the 8th Congressional District?
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (R-5): McMorris accepted $5000 in campaign cash from DeLay. This came only days after DeLay was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee. What does this say about McMorris?
All three members of our Republican delegation have voted with DeLay, and down the party line, at least 96% of the time.

This is not acceptable! We must have faith in our delegation in Congress and trust that they will fairly represent us and our concerns. Please support the Washington State Democrats in their mission to defeat these Republican "Yes" men."-email from the Washington State Democrats.

''Sen. Murray undecided on Roberts --- call today''

"Tomorrow morning at 11:30 the entire Senate will cast the final vote on the nomination of John Roberts to be the next Chief Justice of the United States. Sen. Murray is one of the last few Democrats still undecided, and she needs to hear from you today.

While the vote count doesn't look promising, Democrats still have the opportunity to show the country that they will defend core values—like equal voting rights, reproductive choice, and basic protections for workers. Every Democratic Senator who comes out against Roberts strengthens that message, and every vote counts.

This week Senators Reid, Obama, Clinton, Kerry and others all came out against Roberts. We can still get a solid majority of Democrats to join them, but only if the last holdouts like Sen. Murray step up to do the right thing. With only hours remaining, your voice can make a real difference. Please call today:

Senator Patty Murray

Phone: 202-224-2621."-from

''Winning the House, starting with WA-08''

"Over a week ago, I attended a fundraiser with our leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, and she noted to the assembled crowd a couple of facts which are extremely important to how we approach taking back our government.

The first fact is this: we need only 15 incremental seats to control the House of Representatives.

Those 15 seats change everything about the dynamic of the federal government; they allow us to stop the right-wing machine that's destroying every semblance of effective and fair government in this country.

The second fact is that every list of 15 seats we can take includes Washington's 8th Congressional District (now represented by GOP Rep. Dave Reichert).

Those two facts are of interest very broadly: even if you don't live in Washington's 8th, you can affect the outcome of the race, and it's of critical national importance.

They are, in addition, of particular interest to me, because I am running for that seat and because I have empirical data now that shows that it is possible for me to win it."-from Darcy Burner's post on Kos. Check it out for all the talking points.

''The Most Important Election of 2005''

"Yes, Paul Hackett was big. Yes, Tim Kaine's bid for Governor of Virgina is important. And yes, Jon Corzine as the next Governor of New Jersey is something we can all look forward to. But if there is one race is 2005, more than any listed above, that we should all begin to rally around, today, it is the amendments put forward by the group known as Reform Ohio Now.

With less than a month to go before August 2nd, the blogosphere began to rally around Paul Hackett's campaign for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District. Whatever the reason you cared (a fighting Democrat or you as a Democrat just wanting a fight), the world took notice of our efforts while the collective blogosphere set the terms of the debate for 2006. Reform Ohio Now is the equivalent of six Paul Hacketts...And then some. Four amendments, Issues 2-5 on the ballot; all important, but possibly none bigger than the SIX U.S. HOUSE SEATS we gain if "State Issue Four" passes this November."-from the post on MyDD by ttagaris.

''Why I Was Smiling and Hurricane Rita''

"I had a huge grin on my face when I was getting arrested yesterday. I have received a lot of flak for smiling. Apparently I am not supposed to smile, but I had some really good reasons for doing so.
First of all, I was having fun. I was with a group of good-humored, cheerful, happy people. We were singing old protest songs and old Sunday school songs and clapping. I felt I had to be cheerful to set the tone. We didn't want any trouble or to do anything non-peaceful. Secondly, when I got arrested and the officers lifted me out I was afraid that America would see my underwear and that tickled me.
There is another and more important reason that I was smiling. I had not genuinely smiled since Casey was killed in Iraq. I thought my hope was buried along with my son and I was in a pit of hopeless despair. Camp Casey gave me back my hope because America came out in huge numbers to support us and they raised their voices with ours in unison to take our country back and to hold this administration accountable for the lies and mistakes that are killing tens of thousands of innocent people. There were hundreds of thousands of regular Americans who came out to protest the war and Bush's policies this past Saturday. Hundreds of faithful Americans turned out for our interfaith religious service Sunday night next to the Washington Monument. The so-called religious right doesn't have a monopoly on God. I am so pleased that the people of America are becoming active participants in Democracy and America is ready to put their money where their collective mouths are: to bring our troops home and hold BushCo accountable. It is a wonderful thing to be doing something that makes a difference and it is a wonderful and miraculous thing to have my hope back. That is why I am smiling.

Now about Hurricane Rita: I woke up on Saturday morning filled with excitement. I knew that the rally and march were going to be amazing events and I was thrilled to be a part of them. I switched on the TV and turned on CNN and for 2 hours, I watched one of their reporters in front of the same downed tree and it wasn't even raining. I knew that there was a hurricane and it was damaging. At the point of the news cycle though, I thought CNN could be covering other news. 40 soldiers have been killed this month so far in Iraq and countless Iraqis have been killed. The war is still going on and the news has been dominated by hurricanes and the terrible aftermaths. I actually think the mainstream media has been doing a good job of pointing out the dropped balls in the Gulf States. However, CNN and other mainstream news outlets ALWAYS report other news besides the illegal occupation of Iraq.

When we had hundreds of thousands of people turn out for protests all over the nation on March 19th, the 2 nd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the Terry Schiavo fiasco was occurring. The Schiavo tragedy was bad for one family and I was in agony for them, but I found it hypocritical that Congress would rush into a special session to save one person's lives when so many were being needlessly killed in Iraq partly because Congress abrogated their Constitutional responsibilities to declare war. I was also disappointed that that tragedy superseded the protest coverage. Wolf Blitzer called our protests: Insignificant.

Saturday was the most important event in peace history in decades. The numbers were underreported and the wonderful energy was unreported by the mainstream media. With the MSM there will always be something more important than covering the atrocity of Iraq: Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Terry Schiavo, The Runaway Bride, etc. It is time we hold our media accountable, too. Balanced coverage of all issues and some investigative reporting would be extremely refreshing.

I am sorry for what seemed to be an insensitive remark about the people who were affected by Rita, but that was not my intention. I am very aware that the failed policies of the Bush administration have all put us in the same boat, so to speak, and we need to take responsibility for righting the wrongs here in our country and in Iraq.

I don't think I can be challenged for my analysis of the war and for what I say because it is all the truth and comes from my heart, so I have to be attacked for smiling. I won't apologize for smiling, though, we are making a difference and that is definitely something to smile about!"-Cindy Sheehan on The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Filibuster Showdown Looms In Senate"

"The upcoming battle over a successor to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor threatens to plunge the Senate into another bitter confrontation over filibusters and the "nuclear option," with Democrats already threatening to use any means possible to thwart President Bush if he nominates someone they regard as too conservative.

The roster of those threatening a filibuster includes liberal and moderate Democrats, supporters and opponents of John G. Roberts Jr., Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and at least one of the seven Democratic senators who were part of the bipartisan "Gang of 14." Democrats have splintered almost evenly over Roberts's nomination as chief justice, leading to frustration among party activists who think their elected leaders did not put up a serious fight against him. Pollsters have told party leaders that a show of opposition against Bush's next nominee could be crucial to restoring enthusiasm among the rank and file on the left.

In an interview, Dean said Democratic unity is essential in the upcoming battle and that the party "absolutely" should be prepared to filibuster -- holding unlimited debate and preventing an up-or-down vote -- Bush's next high court nominee, if he taps someone they find unacceptably ideological. He cited appellate court judges Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as two who would be likely to trigger such opposition.

"Those people are clearly not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure they don't," he said. "If we lose, better to go down fighting and standing for what we believe in, because we will not win an election if the public doesn't think we'll stand up for what we believe in."

The possibility of a filibuster comes only a few months after an agreement that supposedly eliminated such threats. The Gang of 14 agreement barred filibusters against judicial nominees except under "extraordinary circumstances." The compromise also blocked Republican threats to change Senate rules to bar the use of filibusters to block judicial nominations, a step considered so drastic it became known as the "nuclear option."

Owen and Brown were cleared for confirmation to the appellate courts as part of that agreement, and Republicans said then that Democratic acquiescence in their confirmation meant the opposition party could not use ideology to bar future Bush nominees. But Democrats rejected that interpretation and said this week that Owen, Brown and several others believed to be under consideration by the president face a likely filibuster if nominated to the high court.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) declined to issue a blanket filibuster threat but joined Dean in saying that a nominee judged more conservative than Roberts will face vigorous opposition because the successor to O'Connor -- the key swing vote on many issues -- could shift the ideological balance of the court.

"A nominee more extreme than Judge Roberts would be unacceptable to the Democratic caucus," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley, who added later: "You could expect a major fight on the Senate floor."

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), a member of the Gang of 14 who plans to vote for Roberts, said a filibuster will be warranted if "the president appoints someone who brings a right-wing ideology and is going to use the court to advance their views."

In an interview yesterday, Salazar said: "From my personal point of view, anyone who is going to be an ideologue, who is going to have right-wing views, falls within that category of extraordinary circumstances." He said that although he would attempt to defeat such a nominee by enlisting opposition among moderate Republicans, "a filibuster has to remain a procedural possibility."

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), also a member of the Gang of 14, said he hopes White House consultation with senators would persuade the president to select a consensus nominee. "If he sends over someone who looks like a conservative ideologue, who's going to be an activist on the court, that could be very problematic," he said.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who was instrumental in forging the May agreement, said: "I'm not anxious to speculate what might trigger an extraordinary circumstance. If there is one, I'll know it when I see it. It's just very difficult to try to do that without a particular nominee in place."

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday on Roberts's nomination to become the 17th chief justice of the United States, and White House officials have said Bush will move quickly after the vote to announce his nominee to succeed O'Connor. That could mean an announcement by Friday or possibly early next week.

If Democrats threaten a filibuster, Republicans are likely to respond by bringing back the nuclear option. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Mike DeWine (Ohio) have said that if any Democrats in the Gang of 14 join a filibuster, they will support invoking the nuclear option, providing enough votes to assure passage.

Democrats think Bush is too weak politically to take on a difficult fight over the court. Some also argue that Republicans would lose politically if they change the rules to force through a nominee.

The speculation about a filibuster comes even before the coalition of liberal groups leading the opposition to Bush's court picks has settled on a strategy to press on Democratic senators in the next nomination fight. "No one is talking about filibuster at this point," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. "It's much too early."

Dean said a straight party-line vote would show Democratic unity but would not be sufficient to block a nominee. "That's not a fight to the death," he said. "A fight to the death is a filibuster, which is the only way we can reject an unqualified nominee -- because the Republicans don't seem to have any qualms about putting unqualified people in all manner of positions all over the government."-from the story in Wednesday's Washington Post.

''Howard Dean, on his meeting with Cindy Sheehan''

"I just checked the DNC blog and was pleasantly surprised to see, not only a message from Howard Dean, but a message about his meeting with Cindy Sheehan after Saturday's rally. Here are his impressions after that meeting:

She is a delightful person. She had not a drop of holier than thou zealotry. She is unpretentious and very clear. All this I expected, given the terrible sacrifice she has made, and her willingness to speak out.
What I was surprised at was her ability to be so comfortable in her own skin. After she became a phenomenon in Crawford, the Republican spin team realized she was a real threat. Cindy Sheehan , made a tremendous personal sacrifice. A sacrifice being made by too many American families who have had loved ones killed or maimed in this war.
Cindy has credibility the Administration does not have. Even the President tried to diminish her by saying that she did not believe in fighting terrorism. His minions, of course, did much worse, trying to make out that she was a media savvy manipulator -- and even spreading false rumors that she was anti-Semitic.
No one is untouched in the face of personal attack, but Cindy exudes an inner calm and a self-confidence which made it clear to me that she will not back down. I respect and support what she is doing in standing up and speaking out.
Whether you think the Iraq war is a good idea or not, all of us should support Cindy Sheehan . Perhaps the grossest disservice the Republican leadership has inflicted on our country is not the war, the huge deficits, or even the divisive appeals to the worst fears of voters. Rather it is the notion that it is unpatriotic to disagree with the most partisan President in our life time, and that dissent harms our country. Nothing could be farther from the truth -- we are a strong country because we have the right to dissent.
In fact it is the attempts of the Administration to fight dissent with personal attacks as they did during the Nixon era are that diminish our country in the long term. Cindy Sheehan is honest in the face of a dishonest and corrupt Washington culture. She is plain spoken in an era of cynicism and propaganda, she in committed and idealistic in a time where our government has abandoned what is right for America in favor of what is right for the Republican party. We need more Cindy Sheehans."

Red text, bold-faced emphasis of Cindy Sheehan's name is my own. Apparently, according to some, whether or not Howard Dean actually calls Cindy Sheehan by name is of great, earth shaking significance. As you can see above, Howard Dean shows no squeamishness at all in calling Cindy Sheehan by name, and even states "We need more Cindy Sheehans."

Huh."-from the post by Renee in Ohio on "Howard-Empowered People," the new name of the Shadow Blog For America.

''Senator Cantwell will vote NO on confirmation of Judge Roberts''

"Senator Maria Cantwell just announced on the floor of the Senate that she will vote “No” on the confirmation of Judge Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Her primary concern, expressed quite eloquently, is Judge Roberts ‘s refusal to disclose his views on citizens’ right to privacy. She noted that this is a particularly important issue in Washington because the right to privacy granted in Washington’s constitution is more expansive than that provided in the U.S. constitution. She further noted that the desire to maintain the right to privacy has also been expressed by Washingtonians who have twice codified in state law – once in 1970 and again in 1991 -- a woman’s right to choose."-from the email from Lisa Cipollone, Maria's King County Director. Thanks to Bev Marcus for sending this along. Senator Murray has yet to state her position on this.

''Howard Dean Backs Bloomberg Challenger''

"NEW YORK - The national leader of the Democratic party threw his weight behind the underdog candidate hoping to oust Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Howard Dean and Fernando Ferrer campaigned together Tuesday in Manhattan, greeting passersby during evening rush hour.

The one-time presidential candidate is the latest prominent Democrat to back Ferrer's attempt to unseat Bloomberg, whose $5 billion personal fortune funds his re-election bid. Others include former presidential candidate John Kerry, his running mate John Edwards, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, and Rep. Charles Rangel (news, bio, voting record), one of the city's most influential black politicians.
Dean said the Democratic National Committee will do "whatever we have to do" to help Ferrer win.

"Mayor Bloomberg is fortunate enough to be a billionaire, which puts him well out of touch with New Yorkers," Dean said. "Freddy's going to do this the old-fashioned way."

A Marist College poll released Tuesday found that nearly 80 percent of respondents believe the mayor will win a second term. It also finds Bloomberg with a comfortable double-digit lead — 53 percent to 38 percent over Ferrer — even though Democrats in New York City outnumber Republicans five-to-one.

The Marist survey questioned 721 registered voters last week and has a 4 percent margin of error. It also shows the mayor's highest approval rating: 61 percent of voters believe Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job.

"Republicans have shown they can't run the country and Bloomberg is one of the largest supporters of Bush," Dean said. "I think the Democrats are going to come home."

The mayor on Tuesday dismissed the strategy to tie him to Bush as a desperate ploy because his accomplishments — lowering crime and improving schools — are impossible to attack.

"If you're trying to run against that record, it's very hard to do, so maybe you would want to go out and look for something that has absolutely nothing to do with this election," he said.-from the AP story tonight.

''The News Media and the Antiwar Movement''

"To a notable degree, reporters seem to await signals from politicians and high-level appointees to widen the range of discourse. "They need confirmation that this issue is part of the mainstream political discussion in the U.S.," Hallin commented. "Journalists are very keyed into what their sources are talking about. Political reporters define news worthiness in part by what's going to affect American politics in the sense of who gets elected the next time around. But it isn't absolutely only elites. I think it also makes a difference that polls show the public divided, and that there are problems of morale among soldiers in Iraq. But the first thing that the journalists look to is: 'What are the elites debating in Washington?' That's what really sets the news agenda."

So, with the autumn of 2005 underway, what are the elites debating in Washington? With rare exceptions, they're debating how to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

High-profile Democrats and even some Republicans like to bemoan "mistakes" and bad planning and the absence of an "exit strategy." The prevailing version of Washington's debate over Iraq still amounts to disputes over how to proceed with the U.S. war effort in Iraq. Top officials and politicians in Washington won't change that. The journalists echoing them won't change that. The antiwar movement must."-from Norman Solomon on Common Dreams.

Monday, September 26, 2005

''Dean and New York City Mayoral Candidate Fernando Ferrer to Discuss Education Policy''

"Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will join New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Fernando Ferrer for a news conference outside of Louis D. Brandeis High School at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27. Dean will discuss Ferrer’s vision for reforming New York City public schools to help city youth recover from Mayor Bloomberg’s failed education policies.

Following the event, Dean and Ferrer will meet and greet New York City commuters at the 86th and Broadway subway station.

WHO: DNC Chairman Howard Dean and New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Fernando Ferrer
WHAT: News Conference on Education Policy
WHERE: Louis D. Brandeis High School, 145 West 84th Street, New York, NY

WHEN: Tuesday, September 27, 4:30 to 5:15 p.m."-from the DNC.

''My First Time''

"The rumors are true this time. I was arrested in front of the White House today. It was my first time ever being arrested.

We proceeded from Lafayette Park to the Guard House at the White House. I, my sister, and other Gold Star Families for Peace members and some Military Families requested to meet with the President again. We again wanted to know: What is the Noble Cause? Our request was, to our immense shock and surprise, denied. They wouldn't even deliver any letters or pictures of our killed loved ones to the White House.

We all know by now why George won't meet with parents of the soldiers he has killed who disagree with him. First of all, he hates it when people disagree with him. I am not so sure he hates it as much as he is in denial that it even happens. Secondly, he is a coward who arrogantly refuses to meet with the people who pay his salary. Maybe the next time one of us is asked by our bosses to have a performance review, or we are going to be written up for a workplace infraction, we should refuse to go and talk to our bosses citing the fact that the President doesn't have to. The third reason why he won't talk to us is that he knows there is no Noble Cause for the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. It is a question that has no true answer.

After we were refused a meeting with the Disconnected One, we went over to right in front of our house…the White House (in front of the gate of course) and we sat down and refused to move until George came out and talked to us. We actually had a good time singing old church songs and old protest songs while we waited. I tied a picture of Casey on the White House fence and apparently, that is against the law, too.

After three warnings to get up and move off of the sidewalk in front of our house, we were arrested. It is so ironic to me that the person who resides in our White House swears to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The person who is the (p)resident of the White House now has no concept of the Constitution. He was appointed by the Supreme Court for his first term, invaded and continues to occupy a sovereign country without a declaration of war from the Congress, and violated several treaties to actually invade, Iraq too. Not to mention the condoned torture that pervades the military prisons these days. These are all violations of the Constitution. The Patriot Act and denying us our rights to peaceably assemble are serious breaches of the Bill of Rights. George is so hypocritically concerned about Iraq developing a Constitution when he ignores and shreds our own Constitution.

Being arrested is not a big deal. Even though were arrested for "demonstrating without a permit" we were protesting something that is much more serious than sitting on a sidewalk: the tragic and needless deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Americans (both in Iraq and here in America) who would be alive if it weren't for the criminals who reside in and work in the White House.

Karl Rove (besides just being a very creepy man) outted a CIA agent and was responsible for endangering many of our covert agents worldwide. Dick Cheney's old company is reaping profits beyond anyone's wildest imaginations in their no-bid contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans. John Negroponte's activities in South America are very shady and murderous. Rumsfeld and Gonzales are responsible for illegal and immoral authorization, encouragement and approval of torture. Not to mention, violating Geneva Conventions, torture endangers the lives of our service men and women in Iraq. Along with the above mentioned traitors, Condi lied through her teeth in the insane run-up to the invasion. The list of crimes this administration has commited is extensive, abhorrent, and unbelievable. What is so unbelievable is that WE were arrested for exercising our first amendment rights and these people are running free to enjoy their lives of crime and to wreak havoc on the world.

The fine for "demonstrating without a permit" is $75.00. I am certain that I won't pay it. My court date is November 16 th. Any lawyers out there want to help me challenge an unconstitutional law??"-Cindy Sheehan on Joe Tresh will be posting pictures here. Crooks and Liars has a short video here.

''Sheehan Arrested During Antiwar Protest''

"WASHINGTON - Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became a leader of the anti-war movement after her son died in Iraq, was arrested Monday along with hundreds of others protesting outside the White House.

Sheehan, carrying a photo of her son in his Army uniform, rallied with other protesters in a park across the street from the White House and then marched to the gate of the executive mansion to request a meeting with President Bush.

The protesters later sat down on the pedestrian walkway in front of the White House — knowing they would be arrested — and began singing and chanting "Stop the war now!"

Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests. One man climbed over the White House fence and was quickly subdued by Secret Service agents.

Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She smiled as she was carried to the curb, then stood up and walked to a police vehicle as protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."

"It's an honor to be arrested with this group of people," said Gary Handschumacher, 58, of Crawford, Colo., who was waiting for police to arrest him.

Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said about 370 protesters were arrested over four and a half hours. All but one were charged with demonstrating without a permit, a misdemeanor. One person faced a charge of crossing a police line.

Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed last year in an ambush in Sadr City, Iraq. She attracted worldwide attention last month with her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch.

Monday's demonstration was part of a broader anti-war effort on Capitol Hill organized by United for Peace and Justice, an umbrella group. Representatives from anti-war groups met Monday with members of Congress to urge them to work to end the war and to bring the troops home.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush is "very much aware" of the protesters and "recognizes that there are differences of opinion" on Iraq.

"It's the right of the American people to peacefully express their views. And that's what you're seeing here in Washington, D.C.," McClellan said. "They're well-intentioned, but the president strongly believes that withdrawing ... would make us less safe and make the world more dangerous."

The protest Monday followed a massive demonstration Saturday that drew a crowd of 100,000 or more, the largest such gathering in the capital since the war began in March 2003.

On Sunday, a rally supporting the war drew about 500 people. Speakers included veterans of World War II and the war in Iraq, as well as family members of soldiers killed in Iraq.

"I would like to say to Cindy Sheehan and her supporters: Don't be a group of unthinking lemmings," said Mitzy Kenny of Ridgeley, W.Va., whose husband died in Iraq last year. She said the anti-war demonstrations "can affect the war in a really negative way. It gives the enemy hope."-from the AP story today.

"Author says segregation endures in Seattle, nation"

"Jonathan Kozol is an award-winning author of several books about the differences in schools for the rich and the poor in America: "Savage Inequalities," "Amazing Grace," and now, "The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America" (Crown, 416 pp., $25)

Kozol visited 60 schools over the past several years for his latest book, including Thurgood Marshall Elementary in the Seattle School District. He concludes that the racial segregation in the nation's schools is higher than it's been since 1968, and that conditions for students in inner-city schools are, as a result, getting worse.

He started a conversation by noting he's spending more time in Seattle than any other city on his book tour because he wants to reinforce the "good people there who haven't given up on Brown v. Board of Education."

"I'm really grateful to the Seattle Public Schools for fighting in defense of racial integration by defending the tiebreaker," he said, referring to the district's policy of using race as one factor in assigning students to popular schools, a policy that's been suspended while under challenge in court. "There aren't too many school districts that have the guts to do that."

Q: Why did you choose to visit Thurgood Marshall?

A: Almost all the schools I visit, I visit by accident. Somebody I know says, "I know the principal and he'll invite you to visit." I also chose that school out of enthusiasm. I've always thought of Seattle as a relatively progressive city. So I thought, "Hooray, I'm going to see a school named for Thurgood Marshall that exemplifies what Marshall fought for."

It wasn't until I walked into the school that I realized I was in a basically segregated school. (Editor's note: According to the district, Marshall's racial breakdown in Oct. 2004 was 63 percent African American, 19 percent Latino, 15 percent Asian and 2 percent Caucasian).

Let me say briefly: The intensity of segregation in Seattle is not even in the same ballpark as Chicago and New York. In the New York neighborhood I write about, 99.8 percent of the children in the public schools are black or Latino. Two-tenths of 1 percentage point marks the difference between legally enforced segregation in the South 50 years ago and socially and residentially enforced segregation today. Not much of a victory after all these years.

Q: Thurgood Marshall is a school that's often held up as a success because, up until this year, its test scores were rising.

A: In every city in America, you can find a handful of segregated schools which, at one point of another, appear to boost their scores. ... They are almost always exceptional situations, either because they have an unusually charismatic principal, or because they happen to have a cluster of unusually terrific teachers.

But the main reason you get these temporary blips in test scores is that so much time is devoted to drilling children for exams. At the time I visited Thurgood Marshall, there was almost nonstop emphasis on a kind of robotic curriculum in which children were exposed to repeated incantations and slogans, posted everywhere.

Q: You make the case for integrated schools. Yet in Seattle, forced busing ended in part because it was a one-way street, with many more minority students than white students taking those buses.

A: The newest trendy slogan in America is "neighborhood schools." But if you ask black parents in any deeply segregated, under-funded school system, "If you could put your child on a bus for a 30-minute ride to a school system where 95 percent of the kids graduate, and virtually all of them go to four-year colleges, would you consider this a cruel thing to do to your little girl?" When I ask that question, most black parents I know ask me, "Are you crazy?"

Q: In your book, you note that Thurgood Marshall is a segregated school in an integrated neighborhood. Do you see that as worse than places where segregated schools are in segregated neighborhoods?

A: To me, the issue is that almost anywhere you go in the United States today, if you want to see a really segregated school, you ask for a school named Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks or Thurgood Marshall. It's the ultimate irony.

Q: You make it sound as if the educational challenges of many low-income, minority children would disappear if they just attend integrated schools. What about all the factors in children's lives that are outside a school's control?

A: It's obvious that no one change is going to work miracles. But there's something conveniently self-serving when a segregated white society points to all those quote "other factors" that might also damage a child. They use the things they can't change to avoid doing the one thing they can.
We don't know how to transform the health-care system next year, and we don't know what to do about decrepit housing next year we could open up the doors of the best schools in America and we could admit to those schools the children who are presently locked out of white society. And if we're not prepared to do that, we could at least pour money into inner-city schools to give them at least a shot at equal opportunity.

Q: You clearly want to shake up the middle class with this book to do something about the conditions in urban schools. What do you think they should do?

A: First, instead of putting all that time and energy into doing fund-raising that is purely selfish and will benefit only their own children, they should devote the very same dynamic energy into fighting like hell to guarantee the same very high quality of education to all the children in the city of Seattle.

Q: If you had children, where would you send them to school?

A: I would send them to a public school in the city in which I lived. I would insist that it be a racially mixed school, and then I would join the parents of the minority children in the school to fight like hell to make sure the politicians hear from us.

I don't condemn people who send their kids to private schools. Often they do so for good reasons of their own, including religious reasons. It's understandable as a personal choice, but it's rotten social policy, and I do make that distinction.-from Linda Shaw's story in Monday's Seattle Times. Kozol is in Seattle today and later this week. Check the article for details.

''Big News Blown Away Again By a Hurricane of Saturation Coverage''

"Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005 – NEW YORK – Quite the week, eh?

• About 150,000 Americans rallied yesterday in Washington against the Iraq qWagmire.

• A decorated Army officer has revealed sickening new details about the torture of military detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

• Bill Frist is up to his kitten-killing eyeballs in an insider trading scandal involving stock in a family-owned business that was supposed to be in a blind trust.

• David Hossein Safavian, the top Executive Branch procurement official until he resigned last week, has been arrested as part of a probe into the dirty dealings of king of sleazy lobbyists Jack Abramoff — a probe that threatens other leading Republican players as it expands.

• Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.

• An administration insider told ultra-right-wing rag American Spectator that Bush's regime is "sunk."

• And Bush has been hitting the bottle again, according to the National Enquirer.

So with all of this juicy, red-meat political news ripe for discussion, what do you think was the top "political" topic of this pundit Sunday?

I know, I know, why do we even bother asking?"-from American Politics Journal. They run down all the usual offenders.

Seattle Antiwar March, September 24, 2005

Great photos from Dina Lydia Johnson AND her diary on Kos about the march.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"A Grassroots Media Strategy"

Progressive Democrats of America held a workshop today following yesterday's anti-war protest in Washington, DC. David Swanson spoke to them about how to work with media. Here some exceprts:
"There are few things reporters like better than a local angle on a national story. PDA should have provided a communications person in each chapter with a generic press release about local people traveling to DC this weekend or staging an event locally, and one about local people affected by the new bankruptcy law, and one about local jobs affected by CAFTA, etc. If we don't provide talking points and generic media materials on national issues, we might as well be separate local groups.
PDA has great national handouts and flyers that can build local credibility with potential members. These should also be used in meetings with reporters and editors. But even once PDA's identity is well established in the minds of local reporters, you will have to fight to get the name of your organization into the media. Make sure that no one goes to a rally without wearing a PDA shirt. A sticker or button is not visible in a newspaper photo or on TV, and a statement identifying yourself as a PDA member will almost certainly be cut. Negotiate with a reporter ahead of time: if you're going to help them tell a story, they're going to mention the name of the organization involved. Their reluctance is not so much dislike for you or your politics, but a desire to look as if they found people on their own without the help of an organization. Do what you can to make them look good, but make them commit to naming the organization.

Of course, working for decent coverage in the corporate media, even the local corporate media, is a little like believing there's hope for the Democrats in Congress. (So PDAers should be good at it!) A huge percentage of the signs and posters yesterday called for Bush's impeachment, but I didn't see that word in any articles this morning, just as we haven't heard it from any member of Congress.

The impossibility of getting some stories into the so-called mainstream media is one good reason to work the independent media and make your own media. Another is that doing these things usually improves your coverage in the corporate media. So, usually, does aggressively holding the media accountable for its failures. But this needs to be done fairly and professionally. It is always possible to make corporate media coverage worse, and trying to improve it is usually worth the effort.

Beyond making your own media, use the media that's open to what you have to say: the ethnic media, independent radio, public access TV, newsletters of local labor unions and other organizations, church bulletins, bulletin boards. And develop a team of people to call into talk shows and write letters to the editor, identifying themselves as PDA members. Use media calendars to announce your events. Run free public service announcements anywhere that will let you.

When you've developed your communications skills and refined your messages, work on the corporate media. Learn which reporters and columnists and editors do what. Read them. Watch them. Know what they're open to and what they like. Ask for meetings to get to know them. Tell them about stories coming down the road in future weeks and months.

Remember that many reporters are not out to get us. If they are hurried and demanding and almost unbelievably lazy, it is because they are busy and overworked and at the local level often paid poverty wages. If you make their jobs easier, you get better coverage.

Be available on short notice, and always return phone calls quickly.

Make events start on time.

Make every assertion you make reliable.

Never lie or exaggerate.

But remember that being helpful to a reporter does not mean being a reporter's friend. Never tell a reporter anything "off the record." Being helpful to a reporter does not mean caring what a reporter thinks. Never worry about pleasing or agreeing with the reporter. You are talking for the media audience, not the reporter."-from Let's Try Democracy. There are many more tips there, as well.

"Democrats still fear dissent on Iraq"

"AGAINST SUPREME Court nominee John Roberts. For the war in Iraq. How long can Democrats like Hillary Clinton walk that political line? Fearful of the peacenik label, Democrats are still reluctant to challenge President Bush on Iraq, no matter how ugly the news from Baghdad. Opposing Roberts is much easier. It shows that when it comes to social issues like abortion, left-leaning interest groups still hold sway with Democrats who would be president.

The antiwar left is a different story. It's the third rail Democrats fear to touch. The junior senator from New York also has the ''woman problem." No female presidential candidate wants to sound like antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan.

This week, Clinton and Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada did meet with Sheehan in Washington. But to Tom Andrews, a former congressman from Maine who is national director of ''Win Without War," the antiwar group associated with Sheehan, the session represents bare courtesy from Clinton and Reid. ''What are they going to do?" he asks. ''Pull a George Bush? I don't think anyone in Congress was thrilled with the idea of a Camp Casey encampment in front of their offices."

Post 9/11, the perception of weakness on defense is considered poison. That thinking led to John Kerry's tortured ''for and against" the war position during the 2004 presidential election. Now, dissatisfaction with the war is growing, with registered Democrats the most dissatisfied. A recent CBS News poll showed that 85 percent of registered Democrats disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq; 50 percent support withdrawal of all troops.

But on Iraq, a big disconnect exists between what registered Democrats believe about the war and what elected Democratic officials and alleged party leaders like Howard Dean are willing to do. Only two Democratic officeholders -- Representatives John Conyers of Michigan and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia -- planned to be anywhere near the antiwar rally scheduled this weekend in Washington.

Forget about standing up alongside Michael Moore. Merely speaking up against the war in Iraq continues to terrify Democrats. One exception is Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who voted against Roberts and is also a strong, consistent Democratic voice against Iraq. But Kennedy is not running for president.

Democratic senators who are in the presidential contender mix, such as Clinton, Kerry, and Joseph Biden of Delaware, have yet to label their votes to authorize war a mistake, even though the underlying rationale -- weapons of mass destruction -- was long ago revealed as false. Given the reluctance to admit mistakes in Washington, they probably never will. These Democrats, meanwhile, continue to tailor their opposition to the way the war is being waged, not to its underlying purpose or morality.

A Biden opinion piece, published recently in The Washington Post, addressed the Bush administration's ''mishandling of Iraq." Biden called not for troop withdrawal, but for the Bush administration to provide ''a much clearer picture of the way forward." Biden also called for ''monthly oversight meetings with senior administration witnesses to assess Iraq's progress." If that is as brave as a Democratic presidental contender gets, 2,000 US military dead are just a starting point.

Yet when it came to approving a Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, Biden dared not take a chance with Roberts. Kerry, too, opposes Roberts on grounds of high moral principle, but can't muster the same outrage about Iraq, which he recently called ''a low-grade civil war."

As for Clinton, she also opposes the Roberts nomination because of the potential threat he poses to ''civil rights, voting rights, and women's rights." But she is leaving it to her husband, Bill, to raise questions about Iraq, which he did on ABC's ''This Week."

Why will Democrats do what the political left wants on ''civil rights, voting rights, and women's rights" but ignore the left on war?

Maybe it's a matter of time and space.

There has been more than enough time to see what is happening in Iraq, but it is still distant enough to ignore. Two hurricanes also shoved the Iraq debacle off the front page.

The first hurricane pushed poor people, battered by nature and ignored by government, onto our television screens. Even Congress could not ignore the winds of Katrina, and they stirred Democrats, especially, to think about what a Republican president, a Republican Congress, and a conservative chief justice would mean to average Americans.

How long before the winds of war finally touch us, too?"-Joan Vennochi in Sunday's Boston Globe.