Monday, August 08, 2005

Democracy Now: the Voting Rights Act; Laura Flanders is the substitute host for tonight's Majority Report (Air America Radio)

Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq Protests Near Bush's Ranch
In Texas a mother whose son was killed in Iraq has begun a month-long protest in Crawford in an attempt to meet with President Bush who is vacationing there at his ranch. Cindy Sheehan was joined on Saturday by 50 other anti-war activists. The Secret Service blocked the group from approaching the President's ranch and they were forced to gather four miles away from the site. Sheehan's son Casey was killed last year in Sadr City at the age of 24. She told reporters, "I want to ask George Bush: Why did my son die?"
President Bush's Approval Rating Reaches New Low
Meanwhile President Bush's poll ratings have reached a new low. A new survey by Newsweek found only 38 percent of the country approve of the president's handling of the war in Iraq. Overall his approval rating is just 42 percent - the lowest of his presidency.
The above are from Democracy Now's Headlines today and they were selected by Kendrick and Nina.  Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for August 8, 2005

- 39 Die in Iraq As Debate Over Constitution Continues
- President Bush's Approval Rating Reaches New Low
- Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq Protests Near Bush's Ranch
- CIA Commander: Pentagon Blew Chance to Catch Bin Laden
- Netanyahu Quits Israeli Cabinet to Protest Gaza Withdrawal
- Zapatista Leader Marcos Reemerges to Speak Publicly
- ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings Dies
- Valley Free Radio Launches in Northampton Massachusetts
Harry Belafonte, Stevie Wonder Speak/Sing Out for Voting Rights

World renowned performers Harry Belefonte and Stevie Wonder speak at the Keep the Vote Alive march commemorating the 40th anniversary for the Voting Rights Act.
40th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act: Thousands March to Keep the Vote Alive

Tens of thousands gathered in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend for the Keep the Vote Alive March. The march commemorated the 40th anniversary of the historic 1965 signing of the Voting Rights act and called for the Congress and the President to extend key provisions of the law which expire in 2007. includes rush transcript - partial]
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Responds to Supreme Court Nominee Roberts Push to Limit Voting Rights Act

Newly released documents show that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts argued strongly against strengthening the Act in 1982 when he served as an aide in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. We speak with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund about the history and future of voting rights. [includes rush transcript]
SNCC Activist Ekwueme Michael Thelwell: "People Fought, Died And Bled for the Right to Vote"

Former field secretary of SNCC, professor Ekwueme Michael Thelwell speaks on the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the Grassroots Radio Conference in Northampton, Massachusetts. He discusses today's struggle around strengthening provisions to the act and the role of grassroots media.
A lot at The Daily Howler today, we'll focus on on this section where Bob Somerby is discussing the press treatment of Al Gore:

Once we started THE HOWLER, of course, we encountered the most remarkable press story of the past many years--the two-year press corps War Against Gore which eventually put George Bush in the White House. That war was run by the Post and the Times--just like the trashing of Clinton before it--and so store-bought, mainstream tribunes like Slate found a way not to see what was happening, just as Kevin tends to do in his own musings on the press corps today. Indeed, almost all career liberal writers knew not to notice what the press corps was doing to Gore--and they knew they mustn't mention it once the wilding was over. By 2002, career liberal writers all knew to pretend that the press corps' War Against Gore hadn't happened. Among others, store-brand liberals like Michelle Cottle and Josh Marshall were presenting a common absurd line:

COTTLE (Hardball, 12/5/02): I mean, [Gore] had this great situation handed to him. The economy was great, the Clinton years, except for a few unfortunate personal scandals, were fine, and Gore blew it.

MARSHALL (Salon, 4/11/02): When Al Gore kicked off his presidential campaign in 1999, he enjoyed near-unanimous support from his own party, including the Democrats’ chief officeholders, political operatives and the most deep-pocketed fundraisers. The only problem appeared to be the voters, who didn’t seem to have particularly strong feelings about Gore one way or another.

Two years after the 2000 race, that was the standard mainstream line, designed to obscure the role the press corps itself had played in the outcome of Campaign 2000. How completely absurd was the claim that "Gore had this great situation handed to him," that "the only problem appeared to be the voters?" In the summer of 2002, we (very) mildly criticized Josh's past silence about the coverage of Campaign 2000, and he went on Reliable Sources and massively self-contradicted, telling Howard Kurtz the raw truth:
KURTZ (Reliable Sources, 8/10/02): Josh Marshall, don't a lot of reporters believe deep down that Gore ran a horrible campaign [in 2000] and doesn't deserve another shot?

MARSHALL: I think it's even more than that. I think deep down most reporters just have contempt for Al Gore. I don't even think it's dislike. It's more like a disdain and contempt.


MARSHALL: That's a good question, and I'm not sure I have the answer for it entirely, or at least not one that you'd let me run on long enough to make clear here.

KURTZ: He's never been successful in the courtship of the press.

MARSHALL: No, not at all, and this was, you know, a year-and-a-half before the election, I think you could say this. This wasn't something that happened because he ran a bad campaign. If he did, it was something that predated it.

That statement by Josh was perfectly accurate. In fact, twenty months before the election, the mainstream War Against Gore began. Of course, people like Cottle didn't want you to know that--didn’t want you to know what their cohort had done--so they kept reciting their cohort's rank lies, lies that are still reflected in the see-no-evil coverage that comes from a redoubt like Slate.
Carrie e-mails to note Robert Parry's latest, "Will Ferrell & ACT's Failed Logic" (Consortium News):

A chief reason for this failure to make wider use of Ferrell's "Bush" appeared to be that ACT and the Media Fund were dominated by traditional Democratic operatives, such as former Clinton aide Harold Ickes, Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm and Service Employees International Union President Andrew L. Stern.

These operatives, in turn, relied on armies of consultants to vet the political commercials. The ones that survived this committee process -- and then were aired mostly in battleground states -- were widely criticized as safe and unimaginative.

In effect, ACT and the Media Fund were accepting the parameters of political respectability that had been shaped by the powerful conservative news media over the previous four years.

Any poking fun at Bush was deemed unpatriotic or a "hate-fest," while ridicule of Kerry -- for wind-surfing or "looking French" or supposedly lying about his Vietnam War record -- was considered standard fare for political talk shows.

Okay, I'm the last person you'd call a fan of Arlen Specter; however, I'm glad he's all for stem cell research now (too bad his support is based on his own bout with cancer and not an inherent generosity of spirit toward the betterment of mankind).

That being said, Arlen Specter just may be the stake in Novakula's heart.

Scroll down this page for the examples of garlic and holy water (truly despicable behaviors) that should have been used against pseudo-journalist Robert Novak by his peers, his employers (CNN & The Chicago Sun Times), and prosecutors... But weren't.

Thursday's blog swarm concerning Novakula's "Bullshit" comment and subsequent storming off the set of CNN's "Inside Politics." Many speculated that Novak's hissy fit preempted host Ed Henry's upcoming Plame questions. For example, some noted that the presence of the book, "Who's Who In America," (in plain sight on the desk that day) indicated that one of Novak's claims about how he learned the covert CIA agent's maiden name, was about to be blasted to kingdom come.

Now we learn that Arlen Specter might have prompted Novakula's cowardly retreat.
Brandon, Kyle and Joan e-mail to note that at Democratic Underground there is a lot of information on Cindy Sheehan. BeTheChange shares details of visiting Crawford, patrioticliberal steers you to David Swanson at Daily Kos who reports Sheehan's been told she'll be arrested Thursday as a "threat to national security."
In two articles in the New York Times, Richard W. Stevenson has noted the distance Sheehan is kept from the Bully Boy's ranch.  From Sunday's "Mother Takes Protest to Bush's Ranch:"
The mother, Cindy Sheehan, who has made regular public appearances in opposition to the war, was accompanied by several dozen chanting antiwar activists, including other parents who had lost children to the war, as she walked down a country road toward Mr. Bush's ranch. About five miles from the ranch, they were met by the local police, who barred them from getting any closer. Ms. Sheehan said she would remain as close as possible until Mr. Bush agreed to see her.
From Stevenson's article in this morning's paper ("Of Many Deaths in Iraq, One Mother's Loss May Become a Problem for the President"):
But when she was blocked by the police a few miles from Mr. Bush's 1,600-acre spread on Saturday, the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was transformed into a news media phenomenon, the new face of opposition to the Iraq conflict at a moment when public opinion is in flux and the politics of the war have grown more complicated for the president and the Republican Party.
[. . .]
It is not clear how the White House will handle Ms. Sheehan. Mr. Bush usually comes and goes from the ranch by helicopter, but he might have to drive by her on Friday, when he is scheduled to attend a Republican fund-raiser at a ranch just down the road from where Ms. Sheehan is camped out. She will no doubt get another wave of publicity on Thursday, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice join Mr. Bush at the ranch to discuss the war
Swanson notes Sheehan's been informed that "beginning Thursday, she and her companions will be considered a threat to national security and will be arrested."  "A threat to national security"?  A peaceful person, miles away from the ranch itself and she's a "a threat to national security"?  With Bully Boy's approval ratings continuing to sink, probably the smartest action plan right now isn't to arrest a peaceful protestor whose son died in Iraq.  (No one accused the Bully Boy -- or his team -- of being smart.)
Show Cindy Sheehan that you support her vigil by sending a postcard or letter of support. In your postcard/letter, you might also let her know what you would like her to tell Bush when she sees him.

Snail-mail your postcard or letter to:

Cindy Sheehan
c/o Crawford Peace House
9142 5th Street
Crawford, TX 76638-3037

For more information on the postcard project, see this thread:

1131 DU Activist Corps members have pledged to participate in this task, so get to work, and let's make it a success! You don't need to be a member of the DU Activist Corps in order to participate.
Remember Laura Flanders hosts The Majority Report tonight (substituting for Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder).  Among her guests will be Majority Report Monday regular Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis who has the Sunday chat & chew breakdown at his site:

ABC's This Week dug up a July 2000 interview of John Roberts by ABC's Dallas affiliate. According to George Stephanopoulos, "he was there to analyze the Supreme Court term that just ended from a conservative perspective."

For the most part, Roberts functioned as an analyst and not an advocate, so you couldn’t take much of what he said as evidence of his judicial philosophy.

But there were a couple of things worth noting.

First one involves the concept of "settled law."

Roberts invoked this phrase at his appellate court nomination hearing when asked about Roe v. Wade.

Pro-choice advocates have correctly remarked that it's a meaningless comment for an appeals court nominee, because they have to respect Supreme Court rulings, while Roberts' supporters push the comment deflect attention to his anti-Roe views.

Which is why this exchange with Roberts is interesting.

Roberts had already commented that the 2000 Supreme Court term was evidence that the Rehnquist Court was not very conservative, prompting this question from co-host David Jackson:

JACKSON: Is the conservative counter-revolution on the Supreme Court over now, or can they regain momentum?

ROBERTS: Well, I think a lot will depend on new appointments, and the types of cases that do come before the court.

But first and foremost, this is a pragmatic court. Some of the defeats may not be as serious as they look.

The Miranda case for example, that really wasn't a vote by all of these justices in favor of Miranda [the reading of rights to criminal suspects].

It was more a stare decisis [vote]: this has been part of our law for a long time, we're not going to unsettle it.

So, the defeat for the conservatives this year, although I think they’re real, it's not as extreme as you might imagine.

"Unsettle it."

Roberts is saying that the ruling in that case was not as bad for conservatives as an explicit vote of support for Miranda would have been, because the opportunity still exists for Miranda to be "unsettled" later on.

He made clear that a "settled law" which conservatives deem insufficiently conservative can always be "unsettled" (undercutting the whole notion of "settled law.")

At the upcoming hearings, he should not be allowed to slide by with any "settled law" responses about Roe or any other past rulings.

If he does, the follow-up question should be, "do you think that past Supreme Court ruling should be 'unsettled?'"

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