Friday, January 27, 2006

Democracy Now: Jamal Dajani, Harley Shaiken, Deidre Mulligan: Katha Pollit, Robert Parry, Matthew Rothschild, Saul Landau,

Group of Senate Democrats Launch Filibuster on Alito

A group of Democratic Senators, led by Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, has launched a filibuster to block the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has called for a cloture vote on Monday at 4:30 p.m. to end debate and move to a vote on Alito. To win a cloture vote, Frist has to muster 60 votes in favor of ending debate.

"Millions of people have called and emailed their Senators, urging them to save the Supreme Court for women's rights, civil rights, environment protections, civil liberties, separation of church and state, disability rights, and to stop a Bush power grab. The Democrats have heard this message loud and clear," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. "This filibuster is historically important because it is sending a message to the President -- people will not tolerate his packing of the Supreme Court."

TAKE ACTION Urge your Democratic Senators to filibuster Alito!

GET THE INSIDE SCOOP with The Smeal Report and the New Leif blogs at

DONATE Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority's Save Roe Campaign. We must be a strong voice in this crucial fight to save Roe and the Supreme Court for women's rights.

The above is from the Feminist Daily Wire (Ms. Magazine) and was noted by Nina.
(That's Nina of Nina & Mike, her boyfriend is Mike of Mikey Likes It!) Nina asked if we note the thing from last night:

Kerry is filibustering Alito!
Call Senators Immediately!

Call the Senators listed below, as well as your own, and tell them:
* a "No" vote is meaningless without a filibuster
* it is cowardly to only fight a fight when assured victory
* the American people need to see the Senate standing up for separation of powers and against the "Unitary Executive"

Use these toll free numbers to call the Capitol: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here:

First: Call the three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) who oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster.
We must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster.
Senator Salazar (D-CO) 202-224-5852
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202-224-3841

Call your own Democratic Senator: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.*
If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here:

Unbelievably, three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito!
Tell them to either support filibuster or at least "don't get in the way."
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) 202-224-3954
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here:

Call the "Red State" Democrats: (Message same as above -- "No" is meaningless)
Tom Carper (DE)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Mark Pryor (AR)

Call these "Blue State" and pro-choice Republicans: (Message: A "Unitary Executive" is dangerous to balance of powers--please do not get in the way of a filibuster.)

Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Susan Collins (ME)
Lisa Murkowsky (AK)
Bob Smith (OR)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Ted Stevens (AK)

For extra credit, call all of the 2008 Presidential candidates who are sitting Senators--

Evan Bayh,
Joe Biden,
Hillary Clinton,
Russ Feingold,
and John Kerry


888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here:

You can also send that message to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (202-224-2447) and the Democratic National Committee (202-863-8000).

Kerry and Ted Kennedy are Nina's two senators and she notes that she's going to focus on New York because "I'm tired of tough talking Hillary who's for war with any country but can't stand up and fight for women's reproductive freedom."

Now for three items from today's Democracy Now! Headlines selected by Joan, Kyle and Oliver.

Justice Dept. Argued Against By-Passing FISA in 2002
In other news, uncovered statements made by the Justice Department appear to contradict several of the Bush administration's key arguments in defense of its eavesdropping on US citizens without court warrants. In July 2002, the Justice Department told a Senate Committee the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- FISA -- was working well. It said efforts to circumvent FISA would need "serious review." The Justice Department made the statement in an argument against a proposal that would have made it easier to obtain the warrants -- something the Bush administration now claims is needed today. The apparent contradiction was first pointed out by Internet blogger Glenn Greenwald, on his weblog
Unclaimed Territory.

Gen. Casey Amits US Forces "Stretched"
Meanwhile, General George Casey, the top US army commander in Iraq, has acknowledged that the US military is overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan. General Casey said: "The forces are stretched. I don't think there is any question about that." In the past week, two new reports -- one by the Pentagon and one by former Clinton administration officials -- have said the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is growing increasingly unsustainable.

South Korean Judge Orders US Companies to Pay Veterans Compensation For Agent Orange
In South Korea, two US manufacturers of Agent Orange have been ordered to pay compensation to thousands of South Korean veterans who fought with the US in the Vietnam War. Dow Chemical and Monsanto, which supplied the US during the war, were ordered to pay up to $61 million in damages. The case marked the first ruling in a favor of Agent Orange Victims in South Korea. Last year, a US federal judge dismissed a similar class action lawsuit against the two companies brought by a group of Vietnamese citizens. The U.S. military sprayed over 3,000 Vietnamese villages with Agent Orange during the war, affecting between two and five million people.

Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for January 27, 2006

- Israel, US Call On Hamas To Renounce Violence, Charter
- Hamas Rejects Calls To Abandon Armed Struggle
- Fatah Leaders Blame Israeli Intransigence For Loss
- Sens. Kerry, Kennedy To Attempt Alito Filibuster
- Justice Dept. Argued Against By-Passing FISA in 2002
- Gen. Casey Admits US Forces "Stretched"
- British Troop Presence To Increase Four-Fold In Afghanistan
- Venezuela Accuses Military Officials Of Spying For US
- Animal Rights Activist Released on $1.6 Million Bail

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

How Middle East Media Cover Hamas Victory: Mosaic Compiles Arab T.V. News for U.S. Audience

Hamas' surprising landslide victory in the Palestinian elections reverberated around the world. We look at how the news was delivered in the Middle East by turning to the award-wining MOSAIC, a daily show on our partner network LinkTV that compiles television news reports from more than 30 television outlets throughout the Middle East. We play an excerpt of a MOSAIC newscast and speak with Jamal Dajani, director of Middle Eastern Programming at Link TV. [includes rush transcript]

Ford and GM Devastate Workers by Slashing Jobs and Closing Plants

Earlier this week, Ford Motor Company, the nation's second-largest automaker, announced plans to slash up to 30,000 jobs and close fourteen plants in North America over the next six years. This comes on the heels of similar GM cuts, causing massive job losses in the auto industry nationwide. We speak with UC Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken, who has done research and policy work examining issues of technology, labor, and globalization. [includes rush transcript]

The Great Firewall of China: Internet Companies Censor Material at Chinese Government’s Request

We take a look at why the internet company Google is coming under intense criticism for agreeing to censor material deemed objectionable by the Chinese government and how Yahoo and Microsoft comply with China's censorship orders. And in the U.S., the internet companies have provided the government with information on users at the Justice Department's request. We speak with UC Berkeley school of law professor Deirdre Mulligan about the issue of telecom companies working with governments.

So what's the main focus in the e-mails? Reproductive rights, Bully Boy power grab and abuse of power -- Alito topics. Brian notes Katha Pollitt's "Prochoice Puritans" (The Nation):

Do you think abortion is tragic and terrible and wrong, that Roe v. Wade went too far and that the prochoice movement is elitist, unfeeling, overbearing, overreaching and quite possibly dead? In the current debate over abortion, that makes you a prochoicer. As the nation passes the thirty-third anniversary of Roe, it is hard to find anyone who will say a good word in public for abortion rights, let alone for abortion itself. Abortion has become a bit like flag-burning--something that offends all right-thinking people but needs to be legal for reasons of abstract principle ("choice"). Unwanted pregnancy has become like, I don't know, smoking crack: the mark of a weak, undisciplined person of the lower orders.
On the New York Times op-ed page, William Saletan argues that prochoicers should concede that "abortion is bad, and the ideal number of abortions is zero," and calls for "an explicit pro-choice war on the abortion rate." Sounding a "clear anti-abortion message," prochoicers should promote a basket of "solutions" to unintended pregnancy: the Prevention First Act, which calls for federal funding for family planning programs; expanded access to health insurance and emergency contraception; comprehensive sex education. "Some pro-choice activists" are even "pushing for more contraceptive diligence in the abortion counseling process, especially on the part of those women who come back for a second abortion." Give those sluts the lecture they deserve.
Saletan is a very shrewd analyst of political framing. Indeed, plenty of Democrats have already picked up the "I hate abortion" mantra. I seem always to be reading calls from prochoicers to antichoicers to work together on contraception. Calling their bluff sounds so clever. Why isn't it working?

The abuse of power runs deep in the Bully Boy family,as the next highlight reminds us. Zach notes Robert Parry's "When Republicans Loved a Filibuster" (Consortium News):

Supporters of George W. Bush are lambasting Sen. John Kerry for a threatened filibuster against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. But 15 years ago, their attitude was different as backers of George H.W. Bush wielded the filibuster to block a probe into Republican secret dealings with Iran that could have doomed the Bush Dynasty.
In 1991, the Democratic-controlled Senate was planning an investigation into whether Republicans had conducted secret negotiations with Iran's Islamic fundamentalist regime during the 1980 campaign, when Jimmy Carter was still President and Iran was holding 52 Americans hostage.
The unresolved hostage crisis destroyed Carter's reelection hopes and gave an important boost to Ronald Reagan when the hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981, immediately after he was sworn in as President and George H.W. Bush became Vice President.
A decade after those events, some Democrats wanted to get to the bottom of recurring allegations that George Bush Sr., a former CIA director, had joined clandestine negotiations with Iran in fall 1980 that may have delayed release of the hostages for political gain, what was called the "October Surprise" mystery.
Meanwhile, Republicans were worried that a full-scale October Surprise investigation might implicate Bush in near-treasonous talks with an enemy state and devastate his 1992 reelection campaign. Confirmation of the allegations also would have eviscerated the legitimacy of the Reagan-Bush era.
So, in November 1991, Republican leaders used the filibuster to block funding for the investigation. The Democrats mustered 51 votes -- a majority -- but fell short of the 60 votes needed for cloture. A fully funded investigation was prevented.
Historical Marker
The Republican success in blocking a full Senate probe received little attention at the time, but represented an important historical marker. It was an early indication of how neoconservative journalists, then rising inside the national news media, could collaborate with Republicans to shape the information reaching the American people.
The preponderance of evidence now suggests that in 1980, Republicans -- most likely including Ronald Reagan's campaign chief William Casey and then-vice presidential nominee George H.W. Bush -- did negotiate with representatives of Iran's Islamic government behind Carter's back. [For details, see's "The Imperium’s Quarter Century" or Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege.]

Bully Boy's sealed up his father's papers, now he's determined to seal up the Court. Bernardo notes Saul Landau's "Domestic Spying, Now and Then" (CounterPunch):

FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover never pursued the Mafia with the vigor he showed in his assault on the left. Reportedly, Mafiosos apparently used against him a photo of the director clad in a tutu while tripping the light fantastic in his living room -- in a house he shared with another high FBI official (male). The Mob also practiced surveillance. Like government prying, Mafia snooping related to extending their power.
When I was a university freshman in the 1950s, the FBI opened a file on me for writing a letter to the student newspaper supporting free speech for communists. The documents I received from the Bureau under the FOIA contained dozens of pages of transcripts of my phone conversations in the 1960s and 70s. I read transcripts of conspiratorial phone conversations I'd had with my father about when I would arrive at his Santa Monica home with my wife and kids and how my mother was doing with her diabetes treatments.
I don't know if anyone actually listened or if the FBI simply recorded and then transcribed these calls. Nor do I know how much it cost the government to carry out wiretapping on thousands of people who did not even contemplate engaging in crime.
In 1956, top FBI leaders invented COINTELPRO, the acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, to target the left and even liberals. COINTELPRO was supposed to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" protest movements and their leaders. The Bureau kept this invasiveness going until 1971.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his cronies considered as "subversive" not only those few loonies who declared their intentions of overthrowing the government, but the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose goal was racial integration. Yes, the Bureau targeted the Ku Klux Klan and handful of Nazis as well.
In those days, the government used the "communist threat" to justify such measures. Today, as in the past, blanket surveillance has no relationship to security. It does, however, produce insecurity. Indeed, it forms part and parcel of the power package that the Bush gang has employed to govern. Bush speech writers use "protecting" as a metaphor for taking away their rights.

And remember this weekend, as your active, that the Clear Creek Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana does not tolerate five-letter words. Brad notes Matthew Rothschild's "Teacher Awaits Day in Court" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Deb Mayer was a teacher of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Clear Creek Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana, during the 2002-2003 school year.
On January 10, 2003, she was leading a class discussion on an issue of "Time for Kids"--Time magazine's school-age version, which the class usually discussed on Fridays and which is part of Clear Creek's approved curriculum.
There were several articles in the magazine that discussed topics relating to the imminent war against Iraq, and one that mentioned a peace march.
According to Mayer, a student asked her if she would ever participate in such a march.
And Mayer said, "When I drive past the courthouse square and the demonstrators are picketing, I honk my horn for peace because their signs say, 'Honk for peace.' " She added that she thought "it was important for people to seek out peaceful solutions to problems before going to war and that we train kids to be mediators on the playground so that they can seek out peaceful solutions to their own problems."
Mayer claims in a pending federal lawsuit that the school chilled her First Amendment rights because of this one conversation in class, which she says took all of about five minutes, and that the school district refused to renew her contract because of it. (The quotes above are taken from court documents.)
I spoke with Mayer on January 24--more than three years after this incident took place.
"It didn't dawn on me that people would object to me saying peace was an option to war," she says. "I didn't even think it was controversial."
But it sure turned out to be.
"One student went home to tell her parents that I was encouraging people to protest the Iraq War," she says. "The parents called the principal and demanded to have a conference. The dad was complaining that I was unpatriotic. He was very agitated. He kept raising out of his chair and pointing his finger at me and yelling, 'What if you had a child in the service?' I said, 'I do have a child in the service.' "
At the time, one of Mayer's sons was a naval nuclear engineer aboard the USS Nebraska, she says, adding that he's now an officer in Afghanistan.
She told the parent, Mark Hahn, that her son also "doesn't preclude peace as an option to war," she recalls. "And that made him even angrier."
At the end of the meeting, Hahn insisted that the principal, Victoria Rogers, make Mayer refrain from talking about peace again in the classroom. "I think she can do that," Principal Rogers responded, according to Mayer's deposition. "I think she can not mention peace in her class again."
"I was just floored," Mayer says, "but I said OK because we had a parent out of control, and I didn't want to be insubordinate. I thought that would be the end of it."
It wasn't.

So if you're visiting, don't say the five-letter word "peace."

After those Alito-releated topics, what's a much discussed topic? Miss Bette Davis' return to Hollywood. She did announce her retirement, many times over, you're not mistaken. A few, okay, a lot, a lot of people are noting that Miss Davis appears to be denying her last months of online portrayals. Well when you have a Dark Victory or The Letter or Now Voyager to your name, it's probably not a good idea to remind the fans of your The Bride Came C.O.D. period, is it? And that school marm role which found Miss Davis clucking over tone during The Corn Is Green? Let's hope that's long forgotten.

We eagerly await word on whether Miss Davis has more than a Scream, Pretty Peggy left in her. We understand that she's falling back on mannerisms at present or else is attempting to send herself up. Scooter? Did she really utter the name Scooter Libby?

Miss Davis got something of a pass because she was going to rededicate herself to education in a sort of Audrey Hepburn helps the UN move. Possibly the ambassadorship didn't suit the temperament? Fasten your seatbelts . . .

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[C.I. Note: Font errors corrected and "is" added to "or else attempting to send . . ."]