Tuesday, January 31, 2006


"Today, Senators who voted for cloture are going to vote against the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. And when Lincoln Chafee, Maria Cantwell, Herbert Kohl, Blanche Lincoln, and Jay Rockefeller, as well as all the others run for re-election, they can say, "Look, I said 'No.'" But that "no" matters so little as the very issues they say caused them to vote that way - the power of the presidency, abortion rights, the right to privacy, the favoring of corporations - are turned against them time and again. Yeah, they voted against Alito, but there's a starving, beaten prisoner in Gitmo, a pregnant teenage girl in Nebraska, a coal mining family in West Virginia who are all gonna be the ones fucked because of such cowardly courage. And when they say they voted against Alito, someone's gonna be smart enough to say, "Hey, Maria, if it's such a big fuckin' deal, why didn't you join the filibuster?""-from The Rude Pundit.

Air Ameria's Sam Seder (with Atrios) is providing running commentary to The Shrub's speech tonight. It helps. Thanks to Susan Hu on Boooman Tribune for the tip.

''Get Up, Stand Up''

"Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right (3 times)
Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight

Preacher man don't tell me heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know what life is really worth
Is not all that glitters in gold and
Half the story has never been told
So now you see the light, aay
Stand up for your right. Come on

Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right
Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight

Most people think great God will come from the sky
Take away ev'rything, and make ev'rybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You would look for yours on earth
And now you see the light
You stand up for your right, yeah!

Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right
Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight
Get Up, Stand Up. Life is your right
So we can't give up the fight
Stand up for your right, Lord, Lord
Get Up, Stand Up. Keep on struggling on
Don't give up the fight

We're sick and tired of your ism and skism game
Die and go to heaven in Jesus' name, Lord
We know when we understand
Almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometimes
But you can't fool all the people all the time
So now we see the light
We gonna stand up for our right

So you'd better get up, stand up, stand up for your right
Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight
Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right
Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight."-from the song by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"The Vote Of A Lifetime"

UPDATE: (12 noon PST)If you have trouble accessing to the Young Turks radio filibuster link below, try one of these:






-from The Young Turks. They are saying that Murray and Cantwell are still "undecided" and could MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!

"Many people seem curious or even skeptical why United States Senators believe it's so important to take a stand against the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court -- why we're willing to take on a fight that conventional wisdom suggests we will lose.

The reality is simple. We care about the future of our country.

We care about the millions of Americans who expect Congress to stand up and fight for their rights and their freedoms, and we also know that the Supreme Court, again and again, is the battlefield on which those rights and freedoms are decided.

So let's get this straight. The time to fight is now - before we make the irreversible decision of confirming a new Supreme Court Justice. When you're talking about the Supreme Court, you don't live to fight another day. It's a zero sum game. Once Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito, there's no turning back the Senate confirmation vote. We don't get to 'take a mulligan' when choosing a Supreme Court Justice. The direction our country takes for the next thirty years is being set now. Will it matter if we speak up after the Supreme Court has granted the executive the right to use torture, or to eavesdrop without warrants? Will it matter if we speak up only after a woman's right to privacy has been taken away? Will history record what we say after the courthouse door is slammed in the faces of women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor? No. History will record what we say and what we do now.

What on earth are we waiting for? We all know why President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. He is packing the court with conservative ideologues who will extend the legacy of his presidency for years to come. After all, Judge Alito was nominated only after extreme members of the right-wing killed the nomination of Harriet Miers, an accomplished lawyer who ideologues fumed lacked a track record of proven, tested, activist conservatism. Those same individuals heralded Judge Alito's nomination. Ann Coulter, who last week suggested Justice Stevens should be poisoned, who denounced the nomination of John Roberts, celebrated Judge Alito's nomination, stating that Bush gave Democrats 'a right-hook' - high praise from an activist who said that Republicans need to nominate a person who 'wake[s] up every morning . . . chortling about how much his latest opinion will tick off the left.'

After reviewing Judge Alito's writings as a Department of Justice lawyer and a federal judge, I have no doubt why he is so heralded by the most extreme Republicans. There is no doubt about the kind of Justice Samuel Alito will be. He will make it harder for the most disadvantaged members of our society to have their day in court. He will allow the President's power to grow far beyond what the Framers of the Constitution intended. He will roll back women's privacy rights. Empty promises made in the heat of a highly-charged and exceedingly political confirmation battle cannot erase a twenty year record.

No one will be able to say, in five to ten years, that they are surprised by the decisions Judge Alito makes from the bench. They know that in his fifteen years on the Third Circuit, Judge Alito has almost never voted in favor of African-American plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases. They know that he routinely defers to government invasions into personal privacy, often going out of his way to excuse unlawful government actions. And they know that the only statement he has ever made regarding a woman's right to privacy is that she does not have one.

People who believe in privacy rights, who fight for the rights of the most disadvantaged, who believe in balancing the power between the President and Congress have no choice but to stand up against Judge Alito.

I know better than anyone that elections have consequences and that the President has every right to nominate whomever he chooses to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But I also know that Senators have the right - in fact, they have a constitutional responsibility, to question whether that nominee is the right choice. That is why the Framers required the Senate to provide advice and consent. We are not meant to be a rubber stamp. We need not rush to judgment simply to satisfy the political deadline of a State of the Union address.

I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong choice for America. In fact, I am convinced that he is a dangerous choice for America. This is a rare moment in Washington. We are facing the vote of a lifetime - a vote that will shape the law for generations to come. Despite the predictions of the pundits, the story is not over until the last vote is cast. We cannot win unless we try. The time to take a stand is now, to fight for the rights and freedoms of all Americans is when they're endangered not after they've been diminished. It is time to take a stand against Judge Alito, and take a stand for the kind of America we've been for over two hundred years."-John Kerry today on The Huffington Post today, sounding less like Clark Kent and more like a superhero.

For ongoing coverage today, I'll be watching "The Youngs Turks Filibuster" online, whenever I can. Paste "easylink.playstream.com/seawm1/youngturks.wvx" onto your browser window.

''Liberal bloggers pushing hard for filibuster''

If the "traditional media," Print Division, were truly "fair and balanced," all across America folks would be opening their Sunday papers to see that headline. Since it is not, RAW STORY fills the void:

"Just a few days ago, the idea of a Democrat filibuster against President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito seemed unrealistic or 'quixotic' at best, but liberal bloggers have been working all weekend to try and make the impossible happen, RAW STORY has learned.

On Thursday night, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), after delivering a Senate floor speech against the nomination, posted his third diary at the popular Daily Kos Website (Filibuster Alito) which urged the community to help "stop Judge Alito from becoming Justice Alito." At that time, only the 2004 Presidential nominee and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) were behind such a move, as numerous reports showed that Alito would have enough votes to be confirmed.

On Friday afternoon, Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) press secretary revealed to Raw Story by email that she was also on board. By late Saturday night, 13 Democrats, in total, agreed to join in.

Bob Fertik of Democrats.com was one of the key online activists who has worked tirelessly to get liberals to dig in their heels and push for action. Fertik sent email messages to many popular bloggers, thanking the ones who were already involved, and cajoling those that were uncommitted or had even blogged against getting behind what looked to be a losing proposition. A 'blog swarm' began shortly after.

At Daily Kos, front page blogger georgia10 has been updating a checklist of Senators that have agreed to vote "no on cloture" and support the filibuster. Senators that need the most "convincing" are marked in bold.

"The intensity of the internet response on this has been beyond belief," georgia10 told RAW STORY in an email. "Constituents have raised so much support for the filibuster--Senators' mailboxes are full, inboxes are overflowing, fax machines are running out of paper, and phone lines are ringing off the hook. Considering each internet activist represents not only their own concerns, but the concerns of millions of Americans, the support for a filibuster is astounding."

All weekend long, bloggers called the Young Turks have been 'filibustering' on a 24-hour video feed as they implore their viewers to call their Senators and tell them to take action.

In an article written for Saturday's Washington Post about 'fiery,' liberal bloggers battling Democrats aiming for the center, Jim VandeHei acknowledged that the filibuster campaign has had "slightly more influence" than earlier efforts.

But despite what a few polls have shown, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas insists that it's not just liberal Democrats backing the effort.

"This is probably the most united I've ever seen the Democratic establishment, that is, Democrats without offices in the U.S. Senate. Even the DLC is calling for a filibuster. Center, left, right -- all corners of the party agree," Kos blogged on Saturday.

Even if unsuccessful, many on the left just want to see the candidates they campaigned for, and helped elect, go down fighting. After posting the toll free numbers to Congress' switchboard (888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641) on his blog, Steve Gilliard added, "Let's smack them around a bit."

Your homework assignment: If you are one of those who does crack a newspaper on Sunday, compare the above to what you see, or don't see. This will be easy! Alternate assignment: checkout the Young Turks' video feed, if print ain't your thing (click on the "URL live stream").

''Democrats elect Dwight Pelz as State Chair''

Nobody made more phone calls, recruited more volunteers or worked the voter lists harder for Howard Dean in 2004 than Dwight Pelz. I remember the many times he introduced Dean at his Seattle events, including the "Sleepless Summer" speech in Westlake Center.

Northwest Progressive Institute has the details on the voting process. The Seattle Times covers the rovians, too, in their story, "Veteran activists to head parties." They have this about Dwight:

"Pelz told party members he is an "FDR Democrat" who believes government can be a force for good. He said Republicans have begun a war on the poor and the middle class.

He promised Democrats the party would field a candidate in every race around the state, something that hasn't always happened in Republican-heavy Eastern Washington. After his election, Pelz reached out to rural Democrats, saying he would be in rural Washington soon "to talk more than we did the first time" when he was campaigning for the job."

Carl Ballard from Washington State Political Report wishes Dwight well and sets his previous reservations aside for the moment. This portends well for the prospect of a united Democratic party in Washington state.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

''Filibustering Alito For Reasons Other Than Alito'' (UPDATED)

Reader Advisory: If you are offended by coarse language, please disregard this quote from The Rude Pundit:

"In the entire political calculus over a potential filibuster, let us for the moment remove Samuel Alito as the physical derivative. 'Cause, truth be told, despite pathetic polls and pouting presidents or putrid politicians, most people couldn't give a happy monkey fuck about whether or not Samuel Alito is on the Supreme Court. Most people aren't paying attention, and when they turn on the CNN or the Fox, no one's tellin' them that Samuel Alito rapes hobo corpses after beating them to death with beagle puppies. So if you ask average Joe, Jane, Jose, Juanita, whoever, if Alito oughta be on the court, chances are they're gonna say, "Sure, why the fuck not?" or "Si, porque la cogida no?"

What the Democratic leadership, and the Rude Pundit's talkin' to you, sexy Harry Reid, needs to realize is that the filibuster is what gets the left to the polls in November. Moderates won't give a damn about Alito when the war is still raging, the Abramoff scandal is blowing up in the Republicans' faces like an acid bomb, and the Middle East is going nutzoid. Besides, as far as issues go, what has more resonance: blocking Alito or trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive?

As Republicans fret and fume if a filibuster happens, threatening some recriminations, even the "nuclear option," remember this from everything we know about Rovean politics, the way of the wolverine: they attack when frightened. They don't compromise. They don't look for solutions. They attack and attack until they get what they want. And if they still don't get it, they try to do it anyway.

Politics is about power, motherfuckers. Use it or lose it. Sure, sure, there's easy principles to defend in blocking Alito because of what Alito believes, but there's also the pure assertion of power against those who seek to disempower the rest of us."

I'd like to think Howard Dean is thinking these kind of thoughts, but is constrained in his present circumstance from uttering them.

Update: Meanwhile back on the Alioto Front: This is may a tad over-optimistic, but Joshua Holland on Alternet says, "Filibuster coming within reach!" He has all the names and numbers, too, tho he has Obama still listed as Undecided. A recent commentor on Democrats.com claims Jim Lehrer said that the Senator from Illinois is now pro-filibuster.

He also quotes Atrios, thusly:

"Cruising into Tuesday evening next week there will be two possible storylines:

1) The Democrats are a bunch of losers, as are all of their supporters. Bush and his giant codpiece looked magnificent at the state of the union, and Mrs. Alito was very happy and smiling sitting next to Mrs. Bush safe and content now that the magnificent and mighty President Bush made that bad Ted Kennedy go away.

2) The Democrats shocked Washington today by holding together, dropping a mighty turd in the punchbowl of the Bush administration, dealing a deadly blow to his nomination of Alito. The president won't be too happy tonight as he gives the 2006 state of the union speech.

Those are the choices."

Finally, my own Howie-opinion: If we only fight the battles we believe we are likely to win, we are surely going to lose the contest to "take our country back."

Update II: For a case study of one person's account of her struggle to try and turn around one recalcitrant, "undecided" Democratic Senator you won't do much better than this diary on Kos from my friend Dina Johnson. Appetizer:

"A coalition of peace activists gathered on a Friday afternoon in Seattle. The occasion was a fundraiser for Senator Maria Cantwell, featuring everyone's favorite lightning rod, Hillary R. Clinton.

A woman on her way into the fundraiser early told me "I am a peace activist, like you." She showed me her pin. She said she intended to support Cantwell, get her elected, then AFTER the election direct her to a more antiwar position (how?). She said that fighting Cantwell would weaken her, and after all, we don't want a Republican to win, right? And that she didn't want to "embarrass her."

I said any elected official knows that confrontations with dissenters might occur...it goes with the territory. But in any case, our messages were not ugly or profane, although they did make a strong statement of protest. She was glad the signs weren't mean, but still was concerned about `embarrassing her".

She said that Maria could not "appear weak," because that might endanger her re-election. I suppose she meant that the mythical "Eastern Washington swing voter" would vote Repub in a minute if Maria didn't stand firm on her pro-war position (such as it is). Was this woman imagining that Maria was, deep down, against the war, but must "act tough" to get re-elected? Or did she mean that the very existance of protest erodes Cantwell's image, thus we should desist?

I said I felt Cantwell's pro-war position was a liability, not a strength, considering the bad news from Iraq we hear about almost daily in recent months. She can't defend it; every rationalization has been debunked [Murtha plus military, diplomatic & intelligence experts]. And how long can she refuse to discuss it?

I wondered, how are we to influence her after the re-election? What would be her incentive to change after the election, when her job will be secure for the next 6 years?

The woman said for third time she didn't want to "embarrass her," then hurried into the building.

Someone is fully aware of the horrifying chain of events the invasion and occupation has unleashed--yet is more worried about the "embarrassment" of a highly-placed U. S. politician who has colluded in this? Is it acceptable to sacrifice an unknown number of U.S. troops & Iraqis, and spend more useless billions, so a Dem politician will not lose face? She's looking at one kind of "big picture"--let's elect a Democratic majority--and I'm looking at another kind of "big picture"--let's force politicians to face the truth." There are some great photos in the post, well.

Friday, January 27, 2006


"When I shook Senator Cantwell's hand at the rope line and asked her very politely to please filibuster Judge Alito, she froze, went blank and turned away to the next person without saying anything.

She said on stage that she admired Senator Clinton, so with any luck (and perhaps more constituent phone calls), maybe she'll take a cue from her and decide to filibuster Alito, whether it works or not. I hope she'll decide to fight."-from natasha's post on Pacific Views on the Cantwell-Hillary fundraiser today.

Murtha: ''Hillary Can't Win''

The reporter thought his comment that Iraq is now a "Civil War" was "the story." But I don't agree. It's this:

"He also said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., could win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, but that she would lose in the general election."

On Iraq:"He wants U.S. troops to be redeployed to Kuwait and areas around Iraq. He predicted there will be fewer than 100,000 troops by midsummer and that the pullout by the end of the year."

"We're not cutting and running. We're giving the Iraqis incentive to take over," he said."-from the AP story in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA).

With this and Kerry's position out in front on the filibuster, not a good day for Hillary.

"TELL YOUR SENATORS: No nuclear option for Alito filibuster" (UPDATED)

"As a result of the overwhelming outpouring of public opinion against appointment of another biased nominee to our Supreme Court, John Kerry today announced that he would lead the fight to stop Alito from bringing his unitary executive dogma to our Supreme Court. Virtually all Democratic senators are united in their commitment to vote "No" on Alito.

What we must now do is encourage them to join the filibuster to save our future from his reactionary agenda. Now is the moment of truth where we are called each of us to speak out and tell our senators to find the courage of conscience to take a stand for the people. Tell them to not ONLY vote "No" on Alito, but to also SUPPORT the filibuster, which may be the only way to actually stop him from turning our rights upside down.

With recent revelations about the way the Bush administration deliberately disregarded the FISA law in engaging in secret domestic wiretaps of ordinary citizens, it is striking that Alito's supporters are now threatening to do an end run around longstanding and honored Senate rules to abolish the right of filibuster for this one occasion. They are planning on overruling the Senate parliamentarian and in the most egregious abuse of power yet. They call it their "nuclear option," because it would totally obliterate the right of the minority to have any say whatsoever over policy decisions in our democracy. Please tell your senators how outraged you are that such a move is even being contemplated for partisan purposes. The one click form on this page will send your personal message to both your Senators, with the subject "No nuclear option for Alito filibuster." At the same time it will send your personal comments only as a letter to the editor of your nearest local daily newspaper, if that option is selected below."-from actspeak.com.

Update: Democrats.com is keeping an on-going tally of the effort to find the "Alito 48" who will either support the filibuster or stay away on Monday. They've got all the contact information there, too. CSPAN says coverage will start at 9 AM PST. News Dissector says "Democratic activists and Kerry supporters had been pressuring the 2004 Democratic Presidential contender to honor a commitment he made back in June 2003 2 when he pledged:

"I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment. The test is basic -- any person who thinks it's his or her job to push an extreme political agenda rather than to interpret the law should not be a Supreme Court justice."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

''Drinking Liberally at The Stranger''

Goldy reviews the The Stranger's little story on Drinking Liberally Seattle.

Yours truly makes a cameo appearance in the background of the only photo in the online edition. I'm the grey hair resting his weary head on his hand, tucked under the chin. I appear to be listening intently.

"Fighting Dems"

"PHILADELPHIA -- Bryan Lentz, toting an Army-issue duffel bag, slips into the booth.

Over the din of a bustling downtown coffee shop, the 41-year-old infantry officer and lawyer leans across the table, and outlines his latest mission.

''You either have to buy into the rhetoric or stand up. I am standing up."

Lentz, who as a major in the 82d Airborne helped to rebuild the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, is running for Congress. He is one of at least nine veterans vying to become the first soldiers of the post-9/11 military to be elected to the House of Representatives, according to party leaders.

They say their experience makes them well-suited to help successfully extricate the United States from Iraq and to more effectively fight the war on terrorism, which they fear is being lost in the Muslim world's court of public opinion.

Eight of the nine are running as Democrats. At least three are lawyers. Most went to the front lines from the Reserves or the National Guard. Some have been recruited for office by party leaders; others say they are trying to get the national parties to pay attention to them.

But they are all running on their wartime experience and against the prevailing political hierarchy in Washington -- both Republican and Democrat."-from the story last fall in The Boston Globe. Majority Report Radio and Daily Kos are now featuring these candidates in an on-going series of posts and shows, using the tag-line, "Back from Front Lines and Headed to Congress."

Why shouldn't the Dems put these people front and center in this year's battle for Congress?

There They Go, Again (UPDATED)

Crooks and Liars has this up:

''Katie Couric pulls a Deborah Howell on Howard Dean (with video).''

"We expect Katie and all interviewers to ask tough questions of their guests. Questions that at least are based on fact, not ones that are repeating GOP talking points.

Katie: Hey, wait a second. Democrats took-Democrats took money from Abramoff too, Mr. Dean.

Howard: That is absolutely false. That did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time.

Katie: According to the CRP, Abramoff and his associates gave 3 million dollars to republicans and 1.5 million to democrats...

Howard: Not-one-dime.

Katie: We'll obviously have to look into that and clarify that to our viewers at a later date...

Howad: Yes Katie, I hope you'll do that. I hope you will actually get the story right.

Think Progress: "Katie then cited a Center for Responsive Politics study as her evidence, but a look at CRP's website here and here show that Democrats accepted no money from Abramoff."-from Crooks and Liars.

This is more rovian "fear and smear." Too bad Katie was a tool for them.

Update: Renee in Ohio has posted a transcript of this "interview" on Howard-Empowered People.


Mary Robinson and Bev Marcus have both spoken to Kerry's office and have confirmed this. Democrats.com handicaps the situation, as does Booman Tribune. Read em' both and figure out if you can do anything at this critical moment.

"Dems Pick Kaine for State of Union Response; What the Hell Are They Thinking?"

Arianna reminds us the Dems have flinched again on the "terror card" issue. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's "only claim to fame is that he carried a red state," she says. As I have opined previously, we know the rovians are going to play this card all year: they have told us this, straight up. So why don't they take up the challenge of coming up with a "terror card" of their own. I agree with Arianna:

"I know I've said this before and before, but the Democrats will never become the majority party until they can prove to the American people that they have a better plan for keeping us safe. And that means having someone like Jack Murtha give the State of the Union response -- someone with the authority to make the point that, on every level, Iraq is the wrong priority. And that the hundreds of billions already spent on Iraq (and the countless billions to come) would be better spent shoring up our ports, roadways, railways, securing our nuclear installations and chemical plants, and properly supporting our first responders."

In case it's slipped your mind, the "State of the Union" blatherings will take place next Tuesday, January 31st.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


"Today, a senior Democratic aide admitted the filibuster is a “long shot,” and that some Democrats who have announced their intention to vote against Alito have signaled they will not support a move to filibuster the vote.

“There are a lot more people that want to vote no and think he’s not the right guy, and a lot less people who want to support the filibuster,” one veteran aide said.

"The myopia among too many Senate Democrats is stunning,” the aide said. “They can’t see this is the fight for the future of the Supreme Court. Three years from now if Justice Alito has rolled back the right to choose, Democrats should want to be remembered for fighting tooth and nail to stop this guy.”

“This is a fight for history, you can’t just take the issue off the table,” the aide continued. “Does the country understand what’s at stake right now? Probably not. But they will when Alito does damage to our Constitution, and if we don’t fight now, voters will say a pox on both our houses.”

One aide said part of the problem is that Democratic senators haven’t felt a groundswell of opposition from constituents. Polls show that Alito’s nomination is supported by most Americans.

“People aren’t engaged in this fight,” one senior aide said. “The reality is this isn’t something that American people are calling in droves about. We’re getting more calls in on NSA spying than we are on Alito. Still, one aide close to the Democratic leadership said that they hadn’t given up hope of a filibuster.

“Things change every fifteen minutes,” the staffer quipped.”-excerpted from the post on RAW STORY. Take this as your cue to CALL YOUR SENATOR NOW.

Update: Democrats.com says the "Alito 8" are blocking a filibuster. They've got the phone numbers and the likely suspects.The Rude Pundit tells it as you would expect him to:

"So here's the question that the Rude Pundit has for Senators Daniel Akaka, Max Baucus, Joe Biden, Robert Byrd, Kent Conrad, Tom Harkin, Jim Jeffords, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman, Barbara Mikulski, Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, and Paul Sarbanes, who were there then and are there now: Do you wish you had filibustered Clarence Thomas now? Do you wish you had done everything you could even against the slim majority that supported Thomas?"

Patty Murray: ''Just Say No to Alito'' (UPDATED)

I'm listening to the Senate session and Patty is now telling us why she's against Alito. I will post text of her message, as it becomes available.

Update: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday she will oppose Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, saying he did not show he will be an independent judge who will uphold the rights and liberties of all Americans.

"With our rights and freedoms on the line, I will not take a chance on Judge Alito because I have serious questions about his independence and commitment to protecting our rights and liberties," Murray said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Murray, a liberal, voted in favor of Chief Justice John Roberts last fall, describing her vote as one of hope over fear.

"Judge Alito, through his writings, rulings and non-answers, does not inspire confidence in me that he will protect all our rights," Murray said. "Because so much is on the line ... I will respectfully vote against his confirmation to the Supreme Court."

Murray called Alito's record troubling, saying he had a history of "voting for the government and corporations and against individuals."

Alito, a veteran appeals court judge from New Jersey, "seems to favor the entrenched power over the little guy," Murray said. "His record does not give me the confidence that everyone who comes before the court will be treated fairly."

Murray, an abortion rights supporter, said she had serious doubts whether Alito would uphold the right to privacy, noting that Alito refused to say during his confirmation hearings that Roe v. Wade is "settled law."

She also said Alito did not adequately explain his 1985 statement, in a job application to the Reagan administration, that the "Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

Murray said she was troubled that conservative Republicans cheered when Alito was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, following the withdrawal of White House counsel Harriet Miers last October.

"If the right wing is so confident he will vote their way, how can we be confident that he will put the country's needs first?" Murray asked.

Murray's announcement came as Alito moved toward confirmation on a largely party-line vote. With support from 51 Republicans and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Alito has enough votes to ensure his confirmation by the 100-member Senate.

Senators are expected to make that official before President Bush gives his State of the Union speech next Tuesday.

Washington's other Democratic senator, Maria Cantwell, has not announced how she will vote on Alito's nomination. Cantwell voted against Roberts"-from the AP story.

Live Senate debate on Alito (Video)

From ABC News via Yahoo. I couldn't find this on CSPAN. Disregard the story, just go to the link at the bottom of the page for the video.

Chad Shue tells me that the Senate debate is also on CSPAN 2 right now.

Al Rocks the House at Sundance Yesterday

"Mr. Gore—no longer Bill Clinton’s straight man, no longer the wooden, cautious candidate of 2000—has been raising his profile through a series of impassioned speeches against the Bush administration. They began in September 2002, when he warned against the invasion of Iraq, which he said “has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world.”

He dwelled, presciently, on the risk of post-invasion chaos. That speech and others like it, along with his once-mocked warnings about global warning, have transformed him for Democrats into a kind of Cassandra, always right and always ignored. And his clear anti-war stand is in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s obsessively monitored but hard-to-explain position on Iraq. Nobody in Mr. Gore’s political circle suggests, on the record or off, that he is actively planning a run for President in 2008. But the film “falls into the ‘we’ll see if that gives anything legs’ category,” said a major Democratic donor who backed Mr. Gore in 2000 and is in touch with the former Vice President’s circle of friends and allies.

First things first: Mr. Gore has said that he’s not running for President, although he said it in less-than-Shermanesque fashion. And he isn’t touching the same political bases as the half-dozen other men—oh, and that one woman—thought to be considering a Presidential campaign. He’s not massaging donors’ egos or stroking local pols in Iowa and New Hampshire. “He couldn’t be doing less,” said the donor. He’s busy warning of global warming and running an experimental new cable-television project, Current TV, whose viewer-driven, interactive model seems to be arriving at the right time.

And yet. And yet. Two prominent Democrats said that Mr. Gore didn’t discourage them when they raised the prospect of another run. And in some circles, Mr. Gore suddenly appears not just possible but unavoidable. In the new mix of power, money and ideology organized around Ms. David and Arianna Huffington in Los Angeles, in the burgeoning liberal blogosphere and among some of the former Vice President’s old friends, Mr. Gore appears the only alternative to Hillary Clinton. That is rich with irony—more than a decade ago, Mrs. Clinton was Mr. Gore’s foil in the internal squabbles of the Clinton White House.

“If we get to a situation where it’s Hillary Clinton and nobody has really filled the space [Mr. Gore] is currently forging, it’ll be hard for him not to run,” said David Sirota, a Democratic strategist and blogger who has worked with Mr. Gore since he left office."-excerpted from the story in The New York Observer.

''State of Fear''

This post is about a movie and a political mood.

You can see the movie in Seattle on February 17th here.

The political mood is playing every day in the media, courtesy of the Rove Administration. Last night at Drinking Liberally, a few of us had a conversation with Jay Inslee's Chief of Staff about how to protect the Democrats' obvious advantages going into the fall elections from the fear and smear tactics that the Rovians have promised to use against us, using the "terror card." This is a challenge for which we do not yet have answers, in my opinion.

''Why Democrats are united against Alito''

"With Senate math against them, Democrats see scant prospect of blocking Judge Samuel Alito's rise to the Supreme Court - a final call to be made in a caucus meeting Wednesday.
But their push for a party-line vote on Alito signals another prize in this week's confirmation debate: a possible takeover of the Senate in next fall's elections.

While liberal groups critical to the the Democratic base are disappointed with the probable confirmation of Judge Alito, Democrats are eager to mount an aggressive rhetorical case heading into this week's final vote - and coming midterm elections.

"This is a nomination that threatens the rights and liberties of Americans now and for generations to come," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in his opening salvo against the nominee Tuesday. On a 10-8 party-line vote, the panel voted to send the Alito nomination to the full Senate.

Senator Leahy was one of 22 Democrats who voted to confirm John Roberts as chief justice in September. In a far more contentious confirmation, 11 Democrats voted with Republicans to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991. The vote to confirm Mr. Alito is expected to draw even fewer Democratic votes.

So far, the only Democrat to publicly back Alito is Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Six Democrats who voted for Justice Roberts have already announced their opposition to Alito.

In a week billed as a "prebuttal" of the president's State of the Union Address Jan. 31, Democrats are rallying around a few key themes: privacy rights, civil rights, and the dangers of unchecked presidential power.

"We'll use the debate to set the bar for the president's [speech] and set some themes for the 2006 elections," says Senate Democratic spokesman Jim Manley.

As President Bush takes his case for domestic eavesdropping without a warrant to the American people in a series of events this week, Democrats are using the Alito debate to raise objections. Before voting Tuesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary panel zeroed in on Alito's statements in support of executive powers, especially in a time of war.

"In times of constitutional crisis, the Supreme Court can tell the executive it has gone too far, and require it to obey the law," said Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, another Democrat who voted for Roberts but who opposes Alito. "Yet Judge Alito's record and testimony strongly suggest that he would do what he has done for much of his 15 years on the bench: defer to the executive branch in case after case at the expense of individual rights."

For the small army of interest groups opposing the nomination, the Democrats' war of words falls short of the all-out battle they had expected. Some say they still hope Democrats will mount a filibuster against the nomination, which requires 60 votes to break. Republicans have 55 votes in the 100-member Senate.

"Many of these Democrats ran on the promise to fight with any means possible to bar someone like Samuel Alito," says Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. "Yet, the Democrats could not even field their members to a filibuster. That will leave a view with many Democratic voters that the current Democratic leadership is ineffectual."

In a preemptive move to break a possible filibuster, Senate Republicans have threatened a change in Senate rules that would ban that option in the case of judicial nominations. Last May, a bipartisan group of 14 senators agreed to vote against either a filibuster or a rule change in a bid to defuse the crisis.

Republicans say Alito is one of the most highly qualified judges ever to come before the Senate and should be confirmed. "Many of Judge Alito's detractors oppose his nomination simply because he will not promise to impose a liberal agenda from the bench," said Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas, before Tuesday's vote."-from the story today in the Christian Science Monitor.

"Five Republicans, 23 Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont were still publicly undecided or refused to say how they would vote on Alito's nomination. The nominee was meeting with two of the undecided Democrats, Sens. Patty Murray and Jay Rockefeller, on Wednesday in hopes of gaining their votes."-from the AP story, "Alito Has Enough Support for Confirmation."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Howard Dean on the Randi Rhodes Show

"The following is a transcript of Howard Dean's appearance on the Randi Rhodes Show yesterday, January 23. You can listen to it on the Randi Rhodes Archives, in the second half of the show.

Also, check out Governor Dean: Alito Not Fit for Supreme Court, posted at the DNC web site."-from Howard-Empowered People.

''Abrams out of 8th CD race?''

"A little birdy has told me that contrary to prior reports, biotech entrepreneur Paul Abrams will not run for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District. This leaves Darcy Burner as the only Democrat officially in the race, with a possible run still being mulled over by Montrail, Inc. founder and CEO Menno van Wyk.

Abrams certainly has a large enough personal fortune to finance his own campaign, but I think his dropping out is yet another indication of party support solidifying around Burner, who has proven to be a tireless campaigner and fundraiser. A year ago, few people would have given Burner a snowball’s chance, but now, the people in the know really believe that she can win in November."-from Horsesass.org.

If Abrams doesn't run, this is very good news. We don't need a contested primary in the 8th.

Harry Reid's 'State of the Union'' and a Senator's ''Blind Spot''

If you've got 17 minutes, Crooks and Liars has this video for you.

It won't take that long to read this letter in today's P-I, "Senator maintains blind spot about the war," from Dina Lydia Johnson (scroll down). Can you guess which Senator she is referring to?

Filibuster Alito Now: No ''Regrets'' Later

We are at a point that reminds me of the Iraq War Resolution (IWR) vote in 2002. Anybody with eyes to see knows what Alito will do to the Supreme Court and, subsequently, to our political situation. As this BuzzFlash editorial says:

"The biggest risk now of Democratic presidential "contenders" is in thinking that there is no risk in giving tyranny a pass. If you are a Democrat, let's say a John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, and you talk a tough "No" on Alito, that is not enough. Strong words against a bully mean nothing; swagger and verbal bravado are just blather against a political thug; all that matters is bold action in defense of the Republic.

A Democratic Senator voting for Alito in New York or Massachusetts would be risking political suicide. It is no profile in courage to vote "No."

The profile in courage would be taking a stand for the Constitution, for democracy, for a nation of civilized behavior, for a nation of laws.

It would be exercising the power of one and filibustering. It would be compelling the ever hesitant and limping Democrats in the Senate to stand up for all those men and women who have fought to preserve our Constitution and our freedoms. It would be in leading the party to 41 votes -- through a filibuster -- to keep Alito, a neo-monarchist, from confirmation.

Those Democratic Senators who think that they will fool us by declaring a symbolic "no" vote and not filibustering should be warned beforehand.

They will face the power of one, as is the American tradition, if they are seeking the Presidency in the cold, snow swept caucuses of Iowa and voting booths of New Hampshire in the 2008 primaries.

And by then that power of one will be a full-blown wave of outrage that will swell into an army of voters impassioned for justice. And the candidate who has channeled democracy -- instead of the craven advice of entrenched political advisors who only know defeat -- the candidate who inspires us in deed, not just in symbolic losses, that is the person who shall lead the Democratic Party in 2008."

Paul Loeb also has this new commentary today, "Roberts and Alito: Evasion Confirmed."

Call your Senator today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

''Northwest Progressive Institute begins podcasting''

"As most Kossacks are well aware, talk radio is one of the Republican Right's greatest weapons. Recently, authors like David Brock have skillfully chronicled how the Right has been able to master this critical, underestimated medium and use it to their advantage.

We have only barely begun to counter the Right's dominance of the airwaves. Air America, which is not even two years old yet, has had a promising start, but still we have a long ways to go.

The Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) is working to help build an infrastructure that will enable the progressive movement to take the country back from the Right. We believe the Internet is the medium that will allow us to do this.

We also believe that we need to offer more than text and graphics.

That's why, last week, we launched the first in what will become a regular series of podcasts.

Podcasting is basically using RSS to distribute audio content over the Internet, which can be listened to on both computers and mobile devices.

Today, NPI is pleased to announce that our podcasts won't just be distributed over the Internet - they'll also be aired on the radio. Our inaugural podcast is going on the air today on 94.5 FM in Seattle (104.5 in the rural cities of Fall City, Snoqualmie, and Carnation).

We are hopeful that other stations will also pick up our podcasts and air them. Future podcasts will likely be broken up into two shorter segments for radio, which means we'll be delivering four "mini episodes", or segments, for airplay each month. Each audio segment will run several times.
While the Internet is the only medium that is experiencing significant growth, radio remains important.

Our audio content will be different and unique. While existing shows and commentaries focus mostly on national politics and national news, we will have a strong focus on local politics and the Pacific Northwest.

Our regular episodes will focus on important issues and campaigns, offering vital information and refreshing perspectives. We will strive to make every episode entertaining and useful to our listeners.

Examples of possible episodes range from defending transportation funding from attacks by right wing anti-tax zealots to focusing attention on key campaigns for elected office, such as the race for Washington's 8th Congressional District.

We're also going to be working off your feedback and input. (Yes, that means we'll take suggestions for possible episodes).

We have a long way to go to take our country back from the Republican Right. Every piece of media infrastructure that we create helps us as a movement (and also as a Party) in the pursuit of our goals.

You can listen to our inaugural podcast here. And if you want to be notified so you can listen to future episodes when they're made available, you can subscribe to our multimedia feed. Our podcasts are also available through iTunes - just do a search for "Northwest Progressive Institute" and our podcasts should come right up."-from the post in the Diaries on Kos.

Congrats to NWPI for pulling this off. I hope live podcasting from Seattle's Tuesday night "Drinking Liberally" gatherings will soon follow. Let me know if you can help.

''John Kerry Calls for Independent Counsel to Investigate Bush Warrantless Wiretaps''

On the heels of his post Friday on Kos, Kerry "was on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, this morning. He spoke against Bush’s warrantless wiretaps, calling them “a clear violation of the law.”
Kerry said “that the administration has made no effort to consult Congress about any possible alteration to the law that he says restricts the wiretaps — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA,” and called for a special counsel and independent investigation into the matter.

In the interview John Kerry announced his intent to vote against Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. when the vote goes to the Senate floor this week. Kerry missed most of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings during an overseas tour of India, Pakistan, Iraq and Kuwait. He told Stephanopoulos that Alito would take the country “backwards.”

When asked about “outside criticism that his Democratic colleagues may have focused on relatively inconsequential issues during the hearings,” Kerry said, “That is certainly the criticism I have heard.”

The discussion moved on to Osama bin Laden and Kerry repeated his belief that “the White House failed to commit the proper resources to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in Afghanistan.” He also chastised Karl Rove for “continuing to make the war on terror a priority political issue” in his recent speech to fire up the GOP base for the 2006 elections.

Speaking of the Bush administration’s efforts in the war on terror and the failure to capture Osama bin Laden, Kerry said, “Osama Bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he’s killed by Karl Rove and his crowd.”-from The Democratic Daily Blog.

Full transcript of the interview here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Al Gore: The Man Who Should Be President"

"When Al Gore spoke this week, he showed what we should demand of our leaders: honesty and forthrightness.

We know that in 2000, when Americans went to the polls to select a president, Al Gore won the popular vote. Furthermore, he won the Florida vote when all the overvotes were counted [PDF] (votes where someone selected Gore through the voting machine technology AND also wrote in his name). Florida was legally bound to count those votes because their law specifically called out that votes were to be count where the intent of the voter could be discerned. And in the case of the overcounts that intent had NO ambiguity. The only reason the Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection clause was relevant was because the Florida Supreme Court did not provide a standard for counting votes where there was an ambiguity in whether the ballot expressed a certain vote or not.

The Florida Supreme Court has ordered that the intent of the voter be discerned from such ballots. For purposes of resolving the equal protection challenge, it is not necessary to decide whether the Florida Supreme Court had the authority under the legislative scheme for resolving election disputes to define what a legal vote is and to mandate a manual recount implementing that definition. The recount mechanisms implemented in response to the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court do not satisfy the minimum requirement for non-arbitrary treatment of voters necessary to secure the fundamental right. Florida’s basic command for the count of legally cast votes is to consider the “intent of the voter.” Gore v. Harris, ___ So. 2d, at ___ (slip op., at 39). This is unobjectionable as an abstract proposition and a starting principle. The problem inheres in the absence of specific standards to ensure its equal application. The formulation of uniform rules to determine intent based on these recurring circumstances is practicable and, we conclude, necessary.

So what did the US Supreme Court say about the overvotes so as to guarantee that the legitmate votes could not be counted? They noted that there were at least 110,000 overvotes outstanding, but because it would take too much effort and the election officials couldn't use computers to discern the intent of the voter, these votes would have to be ignored for expediency's sake.

Given the Court's assessment that the recount process underway was probably being conducted in an unconstitutional manner, the Court stayed the order directing the recount so it could hear this case and render an expedited decision. The contest provision, as it was mandated by the State Supreme Court, is not well calculated to sustain the confidence that all citizens must have in the outcome of elections. The State has not shown that its procedures include the necessary safeguards. The problem, for instance, of the estimated 110,000 overvotes has not been addressed, although Chief Justice Wells called attention to the concern in his dissenting opinion. See ____ So. 2d, at ____, n. 26 (slip op., at 45, n. 26).

Upon due consideration of the difficulties identified to this point, it is obvious that the recount cannot be conducted in compliance with the requirements of equal protection and due process without substantial additional work. It would require not only the adoption (after opportunity for argument) of adequate statewide standards for determining what is a legal vote, and practicable procedures to implement them, but also orderly judicial review of any disputed matters that might arise. In addition, the Secretary of State has advised that the recount of only a portion of the ballots requires that the vote tabulation equipment be used to screen out undervotes, a function for which the machines were not designed. If a recount of overvotes were also required, perhaps even a second screening would be necessary. Use of the equipment for this purpose, and any new software developed for it, would have to be evaluated for accuracy by the Secretary of State, as required by Fla. Stat. §101.015 (2000).

Notice that the only reason the opinion said that computers needed to be used in this case was because Kathleen Harris, the Secretary of State, declared that they were required. Too bad a second screening (hand counting is illegal???) would have been necessary to figure out who really won the election. And now that we know that despite the numbers of people who were denied their right to vote, by just counting the votes where there was no ambiguity at all, Gore won the election. And we Americans have been foisted with a fraud who has used his presidency to damage our constitution, our good name and our future.

Avedon Carol has long written about the stolen election of 2000. This week she had an impassioned piece about why Al Gore should be the next president. My colleague, Marie, on the Left Coaster expressed the same sentiment as well. Today, I want to add my voice to those who believe that Al Gore should be our candidate in 2008. He has the courage and the wisdom to help undo the tragic consequences of turning our country over to a liar and a cheat who used his presidency to divide and plunder our country."-from Pacific Views.

Howard Dean seconds that emotion: "We fully stand by Al's speech. He is a great American, and should have been President."-quoted in comments in this post last night on Howard-Empowered People. Reader Advisory: There is also a photo of a young, shirtless Howard Dean.

"Warmer Al Gore finds a new stump" from the LA Times reviews Al's performance in a 90-minute documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" and the reaction Al is receiving when he shows up at screenings.

''Why Won't the Media Touch this Book?

It takes an alternative newspaper in New Zealand to get this message out:

"Bush/Cheney stole their re-election in 2004.

They stole it not just in Ohio, but all throughout the USA, from coast to coast.

They stole it not by using any single ploy, but through a stealthy combination of computerized vote theft, bureaucratic monkey business, systematic shortages of viable equipment and old-fashioned dirty tricks, including rampant bullying, disinformation and obstructionism.

Such foul play was not apparent "on both sides" in the 2004 election, but was committed mainly by the Bush Republicans.

The evidence is both abundant and precise--and it's all here in Fooled Again.

"This second heist of the White House is one of the great untold stories of our time - even though it was largely carried out in plain sight. Miller performs the simple but increasingly rare act of journalism and gathers a mountain of overwhelming evidence from publicly available material. This is no "conspiracy theory" stitched together from anonymous sources, strained inferences and dark innuendo, but a solid case based on official records, sworn testimony, eyewitness accounts, news reports - and the Bushists' own words."

Those words were published in an excellent review of Fooled Again that will come out tomorrow--in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Also tomorrow, a number of Web sites will be posting a review of Fooled Again by Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan. A genuine conservative, Roberts is unafraid to read the evidence and face reality:

"Miller describes considerably more election fraud than voting machines programmed to count a proportion of Kerry votes as Bush votes. Voters were disenfranchised in a number of ways. Miller reports incidences of intimidation of, and reduced voting opportunities for, poorer voters who tend to vote Democrat....

"The outcome of the 2004 presidential election has always struck me as strange. Although Kerry was a poor candidate and evaded the issue most on the public's mind, by November of 2004 a majority of Americans were aware that Bush had led the country into a gratuitous war on the basis either of incompetence or deception. By November 2004 it was completely clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and that Bush had rushed to war. People were concerned by the changing rationales that Bush was offering for going to war. Moreover, the needless war was going badly and the results bore no relationship to the rosy scenario painted at the time of the invasion. It seems contrary to American common sense for voters to have reelected a president who had failed in such a dramatic way."

Roberts--a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, and a former contributing editor for National Review--concludes with a warning that the Founding Fathers would appreciate:

"Miller directs our attention to Bush's high-handed treatment of dissenters. If electronic voting machines programmed by private Republican firms remain in our future, dissent will become pointless unless it boils over into revolution. Power-mad Republicans need to consider the result when democracy loses its legitimacy and only the rich have anything to lose."

Despite its wealth of evidence--meticulously documented in 57 pages of detailed endnotes--and despite the standing of its author (Miller is an NYU professor with a solid global reputation), Fooled Again has been pointedly ignored by the national media.

There have been no national reviews of Fooled Again.

No network or cable TV show would have the author on to talk about the book.

NPR has refused to have him on. Even shows that Miller has appeared on in the past, and more than once ("The Connection," "On the Media," "Talk of the Nation"), have refused to him on to talk about this book.

Only one daily newspaper--the Florida Sun-Sentinel--has published a review.

WHYY, the NPR affiliate in Philadelphia, recently refused to broadcast paid ads for the book, offering several different and unlikely explanations.

Aside from C-SPAN, Air America and Pacifica, no national media would have the author on to tell his fellow-citizens about his findings.

Those few reviews of Fooled Again that have appeared were mostly positive: Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, The Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Chicago Reader, The Baltimore Chronicle and other publications have all stressed the book's importance and the soundness of its evidence. (Fooled Again is certainly the only book in history to be highly praised by both The Christian Century and Hustler!) In short, the media would seem to have buried Fooled Again not because of any weakness in the book itself, but for political reasons above all.

Right now the very soul of our democracy is at unprecedented risk. The president is openly contemptuous of the very system that the Founding Fathers put in place. He seeks to rule regardless of what Congress and the people want, does all he can to silence the free press, has recklessly subjected millions of Americans to government surveillance, and demands the right to bomb and torture other peoples as the spirit moves him.

And all of this goes on with little protest from the Democratic Party, which now behaves not like the patriotic opposition but merely as a bunch of bystanders afraid to speak out loud and clear against the Bush administration's un-American activities.

At this moment, it is crucial that we openly discuss the likelihood that this administration was not duly re-elected in 2004, any more than it was properly elected in 2000. That national debate must take place now, so that the people understand that their democracy had been subverted--and, even more important, so that we can begin to talk about electoral reform in these United States as soon as possible. The crucial democratic conversation won't take place until the scandal of the last election finally resonates; and that is what impelled Mark Crispin Miller to write Fooled Again. His fellow-citizens deserve no less than to be told what's in this deeply edifying book."-from Miller's email regarding his new book Fooled Again, published in Scoop.

He can be reached at mark.miller @ nyu.edu, or at New York University, at 212-998-5188. Jamie Brickhouse is his publicist at Basic Books: jamie.brickhouse@perseusbooks.com. Mr. Brickhouse appears to have contributed to Mr. Miller's email.Thanks to The Smirking Chimp for the tip.

''Ex-Abu Ghraib general among anti-war speakers''

It takes a daily newspaper in New York City to get this story out:

"A former general in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison during the 2004 abuse scandal there and England's former ambassador to Uzbekistan were among several people to speak out against the Bush administration's handling of the "War on Terror" Saturday at an anti-war hearing at Manhattan's Riverside Church.

Craig Murray, ousted as Britain's ambassador to Uzbekistan after he criticized the use of intelligence gained through torture, said Uzbek security forces supplying interrogation findings to the CIA used torture "on an industrial scale." In two cases he said he documented that people were boiled alive.

"I would rather die than to have [innocent people] tortured to save my life," Murray said, drawing applause from the crowd of more than 500 people.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski said photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison "opened a huge door on" America's mishandling of the war, and that soldiers trained to handle prisoners of war were ill-suited for running Iraq's civilian prisons.

Karpinski also said as many as 85 percent of the Iraqi detainees there were "guilty of nothing," but were not released because interrogators "were afraid of releasing the next Osama bin Laden."-from Newsday.

I'm pleased the reporter put quotes around War on Terror. The article does seem to confuse that "war" with the war in Iraq, however.

''Call is out to impeach Bush''

A daily newspaper from the "traditional media," The Detroit Free Press, gives us this:

"WASHINGTON -- A Democratic congressman, a prominent legal scholar and a self-described target of government surveillance urged Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday to consider impeaching President George W. Bush for his domestic surveillance program.

The recommendation by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., law scholar Jonathan Turley and Florida-based political activist Richard Hersh emerged at an unofficial Judiciary Committee hearing staged entirely by Democrats.

The proceedings on Capitol Hill were conducted with no legal authority after the committee chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., rejected Democrats' requests for an inquiry into the spying program.

Nadler, a senior Democrat on the committee's panel on the Constitution, called for the Republican-led committee to explore whether Bush should face impeachment for alleged high crimes and misdemeanors stemming from his decision to authorize domestic surveillance without court review.

Hersh, 59, testified that he learned in a Pentagon report unearthed last year by NBC News that he had been the target of government surveillance during participation in a meeting at the Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth, Fla., in 2004.

At that meeting, activists from religious, educational, environmental, peace and social justice organizations organized the Truth Project to help educate high school students and their parents about military service, he said."

''As Elections Near, Officials Challenge Balloting Security''

The most amazing thing about this story is that appears in the Sunday edition of the Beltway's newspaper of record, the Washington Post. Blurb:

"As the Leon County (FL) supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.

Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country.
Sancho's most recent demonstration was last month. Harri Hursti, a computer security expert from Finland, manipulated the "memory card" that records the votes of ballots run through an optical scanning machine.

Then, in a warehouse a few blocks from his office in downtown Tallahassee, Sancho and seven other people held a referendum. The question on the ballot:

"Can the votes of this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card?"

Two people marked yes on their ballots, and six no. The optical scan machine read the ballots, and the data were transmitted to a final tabulator. The result? Seven yes, one no.

"Was it possible for a disgruntled employee to do this and not have the elections administrator find out?" Sancho asked. "The answer was yes."

Diebold and some officials have criticized Sancho's experiments and said his conclusions about the vulnerability of electronic voting systems are unfounded.

What Sancho did "is analogous to if I gave you the keys to my house and told you when I was gone," said David Bear, a Diebold spokesman. As Bear sees it, Sancho's experiment involved giving hackers "complete unfettered access" to the equipment, something a responsible elections administrator would never allow.

Questions about the security of electronic voting machines have been circulating widely in recent years. But many of the concerns have been dismissed as the fantasies of Internet conspiracy theorists or sore-loser partisans who could not accept that their candidates simply got fewer votes. Critics have not demonstrated that any real elections have had returns altered by the manipulation of electronic voting systems.

But the questions raised by Sancho, who has held his post since 1989, show how the concerns are being taken more seriously among elections professionals.

"While electronic voting systems hold promise for improving the election process," the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress last year, there are still pressing concerns about "security and reliability . . . design flaws" and other issues.

The events that set in motion Hursti and Sancho meeting, and a new wave of concern over today's voting technologies, started in 2003, when a Seattle-based activist named Bev Harris released thousands of Diebold documents she said she found on an unsecured portion of the company's Web site. Some computer scientists said the documents showed Diebold's systems were vulnerable to attack. Today, more than 800 jurisdictions use their technology, Harris said.

She wanted to find a way to test whether those vulnerabilities could be exploited. Sancho volunteered his equipment to be tested by experts Harris would select.

Harris recruited computer expert Herbert Thompson, and on Feb. 14, 2005, in Tallahassee, Thompson met with Sancho and tried to crack the Diebold system remotely. The first attempt failed. On a second attempt, by directly accessing a computer where the votes are counted in a final tally, he manipulated returns. They used a local high school election for the experiment.

In May, two more tests were held, this time with Hursti present. Using a device bought for about $200, he was able to easily alter the final vote by changing the program stored on the memory card.

"You have to admit these systems are vulnerable and act accordingly," Hursti said."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Spreading the Progressive Audio Message

"I’m interested in recording a 1-hour, weekly podcast from Drinking Liberally… unfortunately, I don’t have any audio equipment, or in fact, any experience at all creating podcasts.

If one or more of my loyal readers would like too volunteer to serve as a producer and get this project rolling, I’d love to hear from you; please leave a comment or send me any email if you are interested. Or, if you think this is a really stupid idea, let me know that too.

And FYI… this coming Tuesday, Rep. Jay Inslee will be stopping by Drinking Liberally. Should be some good conversation."-from Goldy on Horsesass.org.

I told Goldy I wanted to help out, so if anybody knows how we can get the podcasting started let me or Goldy know. Eventually, this can be a step towards getting local progressive voices on the radio.

''Governor Gregoire's approval numbers jump''

"Lynn over at Evergreen Politics notes the recent spike in the Governor's approval ratings, now showing for the first time a plurality of voters favor the job she is doing.

She is strong with women (53/40), older voters (60/36) and blacks (48/32). She is weak with men (41/53), younger voters (38/51) and Asians (43/51). The margins are thinner but she is also not yet doing well with Hispanic voters (47/51) or with Independents (44/47).

Those numbers appear to suggest that normal constituents who support democrats are lagging still. And no wonder, when you look that the constant stream of 'Gregoire was not elected' articles in the traditional media. The Governor in recent months has been making a concerted effort in getting her message out to the public, in an attempt to break through the fog of doubt being parroted by so-called 'news' outlets. Looks like it is finally having an effect.

Some recent examples of the media's handywork in helping the state GOP keep the 'in doubt' meme below."-from the post on Washblog.

''Returning Abramoff cash 'taints' tribes, Murray says''

"OLYMPIA -- Sen. Patty Murray said Friday that returning contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff would "taint" the tribes.

The state's senior senator, a Seattle Democrat, said there was nothing wrong with accepting more than $40,000 in campaign donations from out-of-state tribes represented by the disgraced lobbyist.

Abramoff's excesses have been halted, and Congress is considering myriad ethics reforms, she said.

The donations, from 1999 to 2005, placed Murray second among Senate Democrats and ninth overall in the Senate, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., organization that tracks money in politics.

Abramoff has pleaded guilty to fraud, corruption and tax evasion.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan gave Murray $14,980. She received $12,000 from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California; $9,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; and $5,000 from the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the report said.

A number of lawmakers, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., returned similar contributions or sent the money to charity. Murray's staff announced last month that she saw no reason to do so."-from today's AP story in the Seattle P-I.

Dean: Rove Actions 'Both Unpatriotic and Wrong'

"At his keynote address to the Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. today, controversial White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove once again launched irresponsible, partisan attacks at Democrats.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean pointed out that Rove personally damaged America's national security by revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative and renewed his call for President Bush to keep his promise to fire his closest adviser:

"Karl Rove only has a White House job and a security clearance because President Bush has refused to keep his promise to fire anyone involved in revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative," said Dean. "Rove's political standing gets him an invitation to address Republicans in Washington, DC today, but it doesn't give him the credibility to question Democrats' commitment to national security. The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain and that is both unpatriotic and wrong."-from the DNC.

''Durbin to vote against Alito, says filibuster possible''

"U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday he will vote against Judge Sam Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. And he said so many other senators intensely oppose Alito that they may have enough votes to sustain a filibuster against the conservative jurist.

"In case after case, he has voted -- often as the lone dissenter on his court -- against the dispossessed, the poor and the powerless who finally made their way to his court," Durbin said.
He didn't like what he considered Alito's vague, noncommittal answers -- during Senate hearings -- about abortion and presidential power "to eavesdrop on our phone conversations" and "to seize American citizens and to imprison them indefinitely without charge."

And then there was Alito's refusal to take a firm stand on The Boss.

"Judge Alito was extremely guarded in his answers," Durbin said. "Judge Alito, a New Jersey native, wouldn't even say whether he was a Bruce Springsteen fan. I asked him about that, and his answer was, 'I am -- to some degree.' Now he may be one of the few people from New Jersey who has such cautious fealty to The Boss."

That line prompted laughter among hundreds of Northwestern University Law School students who attended Durbin's announcement.

Around the country, six other Democrats announced they will vote "no" on Alito, including Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). One Democratic senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, has said he will vote for Alito. One Republican, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, reportedly may vote against him. No others have said they are breaking party ranks.

'I just can't rule it out'

As the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, it's Durbin's job to count votes for and against Alito. He said he won't know until Tuesday if there are enough strong opponents to filibuster Alito's nomination.

"A week ago, I would have told you it's not likely to happen," Durbin said. "As of [Wednesday], I just can't rule it out. I was surprised by the intensity of feeling of some of my colleagues. It's a matter of counting. We have 45 Democrats, counting [Vermont independent] Jim Jeffords, on our side. We could sustain a filibuster if 41 senators ... are willing to stand and fight.

"We're asking senators where they stand. When it reaches a critical moment when five senators have said they oppose a filibuster, it's off the table. It's not going to happen. But if it doesn't reach that moment, then we'll sit down and have that conversation."

Durbin took questions from law students -- many of them members of the conservative Federalist Society who support Alito and who noted his high ratings from the American Bar Association.

"What's the difference between the current situation and the [Ruth Bader] Ginsberg nomination, where, as you know, the Republicans overwhelmingly voted to confirm her, even though they didn't agree with her politically, because they knew she had the qualifications necessary?" second-year law student Jonathan Steitz asked.

"When Bill Clinton was looking to fill that vacancy, he was in dialogue with Orrin Hatch, the Republican leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Durbin said. "He brought him several names that Hatch rejected. He said, 'Don't send those to me -- I can't get 'em through.' And then Bill Clinton came up with the name of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And Hatch said, 'I can support her. The Republicans can support her.' A dramatic difference from where we are today."

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) plans to meet with Alito next week before announcing his vote."-from the story Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Here's quote that might help the filibuster effort: "Frist calls Alito Democrats' nightmare"-from the Reuters story.

Friday, January 20, 2006

"McGavick's life's work"

The Washington State Dems have a nice little video, "McGavick's life's work."

Kerry on Kos

"There's something that doesn't sit right with me when, on the day Osama Bin Laden resurfaced in a disturbing audio tape, cable television ends up in a game of name calling as a war protester is compared to Osama Bin Laden.

That's reason to be outraged - but even more outrageous is the fact that in a flurry of sound bites what was lost was a real discussion of the fact that more than four years after the devastating attacks of 9/11, more than four years after George Bush boasted we wanted Osama "dead or alive," more than a year after Osama Bin Laden showed his hateful face in yet another video, this barbarian is still very much alive and boasting of additional attacks against the United States.

Here's what I'd like to see debated on Hardball.

President Bush's mouthpiece Scott McClellan can claim this administration puts terrorists out of business, but yesterday's tape reminds us that instead of being out of business, Osama is still out there.

If this administration had followed through on the opportunity to capture Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001, the world would be a better place with Osama Bin Laden brought to justice -- and we wouldn't be having this discussion today.

And here's what the media should insist we discuss.

President Bush and his defenders continue to claim that Osama Bin Laden didn't escape at Tora Bora. But Gary Bernstein's book Jawbreaker documents what I said early in 2002 and during my debates with George Bush: that because Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon didn't use American troops to do the job and instead outsourced the job of killing the world's #1 terrorist to Afghan warlords, this cold blooded killer got away.

So what's the truth? There's a question that the full force of cable television should demand be answered. Press accounts over the last month have raised new concerns about the reliance on Afghan forces at Tora Bora in 2001. One account cited a Department of Defense document said to summarize the case against a suspected al Qaeda militant. The militant was believed to have helped Osama bin Laden escape from Tora Bora. More recently, August Hanning, the head of German intelligence, has said bin Laden bribed Afghan forces at Tora Bora to make his escape.

The evidence keeps mounting here."

"Democratic Party Chairs race update from Dwight Pelz"

"As this race moves into its final week I think fellow democrats who may not be on the central committee mailing list will be interested to read the following update from candidate Dwight Pelz. Much has been said here and elsewhere about the candidates. What follows is a reaffirmation of how Dwight sees the job in the short and longer term and gives an idea of the depth of his support. I welcome comment of course but let us try to focus in on the qualities each of the candidates will bring to the table and to remember that in one short week, regardless of who wins, we need to unite in the goal of electing democrats east west north center and south.

January 20, 2006
Dear State Central Committee Member,

First let me thank all of you for the time and attention you have given this
contest. I know that you have busy lives, which makes me even more
appreciative of the many considerations you have shown me. It has a
wonderful pleasure to meet so many of you in your own communities and to put
our Party and its work into the local context.

On the same day our Democratic Party will be electing our State Chair the
Republicans will be electing their chair too. Chris Vance has lost all
credibility. He's used up and has to be replaced. But whoever they elect
will not run their party. Professional operatives from Slade Gorton's
machine will move into Republican Headquarters. Their party will take the
high road and Gorton's hatchet men will take the low road to conduct a
determined and vicious campaign to capture Maria Cantwell's seat in the U.S.

Our Party must be at maximum strength to meet their 2006 challenge. Our
Democratic Chair must be the best organizer in the state. Our Democratic
Chair must have the closest working relationship with our elected officials
and the powerhouse allies of our party. And he must be able to stand up -
toe to toe - to every maneuver and ploy the Republicans will throw at us.

I intend to be that Chair. I see the job ahead and I am ready for it by
talent, experience and temperament. I want you to join me in meeting this


With more that a month of campaigning behind us and only a week to go before
the vote that will end this campaign I want to give you an update on our
progress toward that goal.

This campaign has been a great pleasure and a great learning experience for
me as I met Democrats and their Party leaders across the state to discuss
their political issues and to give them a flavor of what a Pelz
administration would mean for our Party. I did a four-day tour of Eastern
Washington, visiting Spokane, Newport, Colville, Davenport, Othello, Pasco,
Walla Walla, Clarkston and Pullman. I have met with Democrats in Aberdeen,
Shelton, Mt. Vernon, Chehalis, Longview and Vancouver. I have been to
Kitsap County and will be going to Ferndale, Olympia, Port Angeles and
Renton. Throughout my travels I found our Party committed to making our
state and our nation better places to live, work and raise our families.


In each of these places our Party faces unique challenges. But everywhere
our local parties are as one in their need for help, not direction, from the
State Party. I have learned that the greatest service I can give as Chair
is to help in organizing so they can bring more grassroots Democrats into
their local Parties. They want training in recruiting candidates for all
their partisan offices and for non-partisan offices as well. Across the
board they need help in raising money so they too can play a part in funding

All of these needs play to my strengths as a grassroots political organizer
that I learned here in our state over the past 30 years. But I know that
the Party Chair cannot accomplish these things alone. As Chair I will build
the training component of the Party so we can depend on local Democrats to
do much of the important work that lies ahead.

I will continue to support our regional office and staff in Eastern
Washington. If circumstances permit I want to expand that effort so that
both the 4th and 5th CDs can have their own Party office and full time
staff. To attract more grassroots Democrats into our local Party
Organizations I want to continue meetings patterned on the successful
Eastern Washington Conference held in Moses Lake last year.

I am especially aware that great potential for our Party lies untapped in
our communities of color and in ethnic communities across the state. I want
to build the diversity of our current membership and use it to make the
Democratic Party more relevant in the communities where they live. We will
work together to increase our organizing and to find leaders who will run
for office throughout the state and I believe the State Party can and should
provide it.


So far our campaign has been very successful in bring members of the Central
Committee into our effort. As of this writing more than a majority of the
members of the Central Committee have indicated their support for my


As State Democratic Chair my first priority will be to use the full
resources of the State Party to make every County Democratic Party and
Legislative District Organization as effective and successful as possible.
My second priority will be to make our local elections as victorious as
possible. At the same time I will bring the entire State Party together as
one to solidify our hold on Maria Cantwell's U.S. Senate seat and to expand
our representation in the U.S. House of Representative.

These are goals we can and will meet. Our Party has done great over the
years and together I know we can do even better.


Dwight Pelz


I'd like you to know the names of some of the people and groups who have
endorsed my efforts to be State Party Chair. I consider all of these
endorsements important because they each represent parts of the Party or the
Party's allies that the new chair will be working with in the years ahead.

You have already seen that Senator Patty Murray and Governor Christine
Gregoire have put their confidence in me. They and their staff believe I am
the strongest candidate running to build the Party in our state.

King County Executive Ron Sims and Council member Larry Gossett also
demonstrate that they know and trust that I will work with them in their
offices. Velma Veloria and Kip Tokuda, former members of the Legislature
from the largely minority 11th and 37th Districts endorse me and know that I
will work to develop the Democratic Party across the State.

Former State Party Chairs Karen Marchioro and Charles Rolland, who know the
job better than anyone besides Paul Berendt, both support my election
because they say that I represent our Party's best chance of meeting the
challenges that lie ahead in the 2006 elections. The same evaluation has
brought other Party leaders to support my candidacy, including D.N.C.
members Ed Cote and Pat Notter, LD Chairs Peter House and Scott White, and
Party activists like Greg Mowat, Betty Means and Jeanne Legult.

Dean Nielson the Washington Director of the Progressive Majority is a strong
Pelz supporter because he knows that our Party's success in Washington State
depends on a strong progressive State Chair.

Charles Hasse, the President of the Washington Education Association, addressed to WEA members who serve on the State Democratic Central Committee, saying that the WEA does not endorse in Party races such as this, but states clearly that they consider me a friend of

I have received the endorsement of the Thurston, Lewis and Mason Counties
Central Labor Council. I am proud of their support because the bulk of the
union members this Council represents serve all of us as the people who make
government work in Olympia.

The State Association of Electrical Workers, the labor organization that
includes the IBEW, one of the most active unions working on the behalf of
Democratic candidates, says that it wants to work with me as the leader of
the Democratic Party as we go into battle with the Republicans this year.
The State Council of the Service Employees International Union has given me
their endorsement. I am particularly pleased by this show of support
because no other union is doing more to bring the advantages of collective
action to some of the hardest working and lowest paid members of the State's
workforce. The SEIU has more members from communities of color than any
other union. Their endorsement is a reflection of their trust that as Chair
of the Party I will work just as hard to bring greater political
participation to these same communities. SEIU is one of the three largest
contributors to the Washington State Democratic Party."-from the post on Washblog.

Thanks to Nigel Herbig for passing this along.

Cantwell "has no regrets" about Iraq War Vote

"According to yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, looks like Senator Maria Cantwell has not budged in her position on Iraq since the IWR.

Cantwell "has no regrets" P-I story.

It spurred me to fire off a letter to the Editor, reproduced below.

The topic of Cantwell and her upcoming re-election provokes a storm of squabbling among WA Kossaks--everything from "She's the greatest" to "She's useless"--depending on how monumental the war issue is to us. If you could see into my head (it's messy in there) the IRAQ WAR would be in 60-point type, most other issues of the day would be in 20- or 30-point type."-from Dina Lydia's post on Kos, in the diaries.

Reminder: ''Democrats' unofficial wiretap hearings to be carried on CSPAN'' (UPDATED)

I'm listening and watching online now. Click here for the links. RAW STORY has "In opening statement, Democrat takes on warrantless wiretaps."

Update: RAW STORY continues its coverage with "Congressman, law scholar urge House to consider impeachment inquiry at hearing."