Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Democracy Now: James Bamford, mining safety; CCR, John Nichols, Cindy Sheehan, Matthew Rothschild, Danny Schechter, Feminist Wire

[Note: Post disappeared from site. Original title was "Democracy Now: James Bamford, mining safety; Center for Constitutional Rights, John Nichols, Cindy Sheehan, Matthew Rothschild, Danny Schechter, Feminist Wire." Original post below.]

Judiciary Democrats Vote Solidly 'No' on Alito
In a straight party-line vote (10-8), the Senate Judiciary Committee voted this morning to approve Alito's confirmation, sending the debate to the Senate floor.

"The strong statements from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee demonstrate that the confirmation of Judge Alito is too risky for a nation divided in a time of crisis," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.
"This unusual straight party vote on a Supreme Court nominee shows that the Republican Party has moved too far to the right, deserting basic women"s rights and individual rights, and it shows a willingness on the part of Republican Senators to give the President a blank check in expanding presidential powers, even to the extent of breaking the law, such as in the domestic surveillance," Smeal continued.
"Women in this nation must recognize that the dominant force in the Republican Party has decided to take away women's fundamental right to an abortion. We cannot continue to fool ourselves and call some Republicans pro-choice when they continue to vote to empower those who would take away our rights," Smeal said.
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP with The Smeal Report and the New Leif blogs at MsMagazine.com
TAKE ACTION Call your Senators and urge them to oppose Alito
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.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority

Martha notes the above from the Feminist Wire.

Martha:What do you know? The Dems managed stick together and vote 'no.' Maybe they can stick together for the floor vote? It's time for Harry Reid to prove he can lead or step down. That means filibuster. That means getting Nelson in line. Harry Reid's like the kid who wants to be on the student council to have one more citation by his name in the year book. If he can't be a Minority Leader, he needs to give up the title. On the eight vote, where the Dems stuck together and voted 'no' . . . I'd say 'good job' but I feel like 'Good job' doesn't belong to them, it belongs to NOW, the ACLU, the NAACP, NARAL and, most of all, the people. Find me a Democratic Senator who will push for a filibuster and I'll give some praise.


Let's stay with this for a moment before we go on to another topic.

KeShawn: Since the 2004 elections, we've been told "We're going to fight" by the Democratic Party and it just seems like the only people the Democratic Party wants to fight with is those of us who vote for them. On the bankruptcy bill, we were stabbed in the back. On the Ohio vote would the Senate have done anything if Barbara Boxer hadn't stepped forward to back Stephanie Tubbs Jones? I don't think so. I think we'd have seen no one step up to the plate. A lot of stuff got noted here but there was 1 point I kept meaning to make about the Democrats and Alito and I'll point it out now. They did a lousy job in the hearings, yes. They then went on to stab the voters in the back, yes. But do we all get that not only did they pull out the knives following the first Sunday after Alito and give up the fight. But those chat & chews, where they revealed their large yellow streaks, that's where they should have been making the case against Alito. I'm sick of their craven behavior. I'm sick of a party that we have to beg and plead with like we're their mothers, "Come on Senators, eat your green beans." I'm sick of the fact that with more than enough Senators to filibuster, they're acting like there's only two in the whole Senate. "Oh we don't have any power. We're out of power," is the excuse. They have some power they just don't want to use it. It's a damn shame that we have to demand our Democratic Senators do the job they were elected to do and I'm getting damn sick of them.

On the same topic, another view.

Kyle: The popular view seems to be that Tom Daschle lost his Senate seat in 2004 because he was attacked by the right in the election. As a resident of South Dakota, let me offer another view, a number of us stopped caring. Senator Daschle would talk a big talk long enough for it to make it into the soundbyte circle and be attacked and then he's back off immediately, hat in hand, begging for forgiveness. He demonstrated no spine. And a number of us weren't pleased with all his back door bargaining with Bully Boy and Cheney before he'd even call for the weak hearings into 9/11. From the minute the election was stolen from Al Gore, Daschle seemed to specialize in not making waves. He kept thinking 'events' would rescue the party. A lot of us were getting damn tired of his singing "Someday my prince will come" and refusing to stand up. We could touch on the sweetheart deals for the airline industry and how, considering who his wife lobbied for and the fact that the airlines do not appear to have done the basic safety job required to prevent hijacking, that was also pretty disgusting.
I got called for a survey and they wanted to know who I would likely vote for and I answered Daschle. The guy wanted to know if I'd voted in the last election and the one before. It was to predict how likely I was to vote. But no one asked how strong my support for Daschle was. It wasn't strong at all and if it hadn't been thinking John Kerry might win, I would've stayed home and skipped the election. He didn't have strong support, Daschle, because he never showed any strength. His [Washington] Post op-ed was just a reminder of how little he did when he could have done something. That attitude seems to have infected all the Democrats who rush to make sure their noses are clean and that they're liked but don't show a damn bit of leadership.

Kyle felt BuzzFlash's "The Power of One" "got it right" and says Daschle's loss can be summed up in the following from the editorial:

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. The primary voters will not reward empty rhetoric.

Last view before we get to headlines.

Mia: I'm sick of it. I'm sick of demanding that people voted into office do their jobs. A big thank you to Gina and Krista in this community and to everyone outside of this community who rallied and led. But isn't it time we asked the obvious: Why does leadership keep coming from outside the Congress?

Now four items from today's Democracy Now! Headlines selected by Charlie, Eli, Robin and Erika:

Peace Activist Gets 6 Months in Jail For Recruiting Station Protest
In upstate New York, a peace activist has been sentenced to six months in jail for pouring blood inside a military recruiting station in March 2003 in order to protest the invasion of Iraq. The man, Daniel Burns, 45, was one of a group now known as the St. Patrick's Four. The other three members will also be sentenced this week.

U.S.: Insurgent Attacks in Iraq Increased by 30% in 2005
In Iraq, the U.S has admitted that insurgents carried out over 34,000 attacks during 2005. This marks an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year. Despite the spike, U.S. officials have attempted to put a positive spin on the news. A military spokesperson said the numbers "tells me the coalition and the Iraqi forces have been very aggressive in taking the fight to the enemy."

White House Asked to Reveal Details About Abramoff Contacts
Congressman Henry Waxman of California has called on the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform to subpoena the White House for all records, including photographs, between the White House and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Three weeks ago Abramoff admitted to defrauding at least four Native Americans tribes of tens of millions of dollars, bribing government officials and evading taxes. At the time the White House vowed to give a "thorough report" regarding Abramoff's White House contacts. However the White House is now refusing to say how many times Abramoff met President Bush or White House staffers or the number of times he visited the White House. According to a count by the Associated Press, Abramoff and his associates had nearly 200 contacts with the White House during just the first 10 months of Bush's presidency. Time Magazine is reporting it has seen five photos of the president and Abramoff together. Congressman Waxman noted that during the Clinton presidency, the House Committee on Government Reform issued a broad subpoena to the White House for all records - including photographs - relating to dozens of specific lobbyists and other individuals thought to have been in contact with the Clinton White House.

Bush Vows Anti-Choice Movement "Will Prevail"
Back here in the United States, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote today on whether to recommend the confirmation of Samuel Alito as a Supreme Court justice. The vote is expected to be split largely along party lines. Meanwhile on Monday, President Bush told activists who are tying to make abortions illegal that they are pursuing a "a noble cause." To mark the 33th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, Bush said "This is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens and is rooted in America's deepest principle. And history tells us that with such a cause we will prevail." Several groups include the National Organization of Women have urged Democratic Senators to filibuster Samuel Alito's confirmation because they fear he will overturn Roe v. Wade. In 1985 Alito wrote that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion.

Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says and Martha notes there's a story on "miners" not "minors"):

Headlines for January 24, 2006
- Ford to Cut 30,000 Jobs, Close 14 Auto Plants
- Conservative Party Wins Canadian Election
- U.S.: Insurgent Attacks in Iraq Increased by 30% in 2005
- No Jail Time For Army Interrogator Who Killed Iraqi
- Activist Gets 6 Months in Jail For Recruiting Station Protest
- Nepal: Anti-Monarch Protests Intensify; Hundreds Arrested
- Bush Vows Anti-Choice Movement "Will Prevail"
- White House Asked to Reveal Details About Abramoff Contacts
- Palestinian Groups Accuse U.S. of Meddling in Elections

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

NSA Expert Jim Bamford on Domestic Wiretapping: The Bush Administration Has "Decided Simply to Violate the Law"
The Bush administration has launched a public-relations offensive to defend the National Security Agency's eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants. We speak with James Bamford, author of several books on intelligence, including the first book ever written about the NSA. Bamford is also a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit that charges the spying program violates Americans' rights to free speech and privacy under the first and fourth amendments of the Constitution. [includes rush transcript]

Former NSA Head Gen. Hayden Grilled by Journalists on NSA Eavesdropping on U.S. Citizens
We turn to a rare news conference held by General Michael Hayden, deputy director of National Intelligence and former national director of the National Security Agency, who spoke to reporters Monday in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club. The conference was part of a public relations offensive by the Bush administration to defend the NSA's eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants. [includes rush transcript]

Asst. Labor Secretary Dye Walks Out of Mine Safety Hearing As West Virgnia Mine Deaths Reach 14
Fourteen miners have died in a span of three weeks at mines in West Virginia. On Capital Hill Monday, David Dye, the Acting Assistant Labor Secretary For Mine Safety & Health, walked out of a hearing on mine safety before he could answer further questioning and hear from other witnesses. We speak with Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News. [includes rush transcript]

In other news, Tricia notes this from the Center for Constitutional Rights, "Four Men Deported After 9/11 Return to New York to Pursue Suit against U.S. Government for Abuse:"

On January 23, 2006, in New York, the unusual depositions of four men suing the U.S. government for unlawful imprisonment and abuse in the wake of the September 11 attacks began, according to their attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights. CCR's class action, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, was filed in September 2002 to challenge the arbitrary detention and mistreatment of immigration detainees by prison guards and high level Bush Administration officials. With no evidence of any connection to terrorism, hundreds of Arab and South Asian Muslim men were rounded up on the basis of racial and religious profiling and subject to unlawful detention and abuse at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. All of the men were eventually deported, but after long and complicated negotiations, four of the plaintiffs have returned under strict conditions to participate in their case against the government.
In the Turkmen suit, CCR challenges the unconstitutional detention of non-citizens arrested on civil immigration charges but held for investigation into potential ties to terrorism long after their immigration issues were resolved and until they could be cleared of any connection to terrorism.

The suit describes the inhumane and degrading treatment they suffered, including solitary confinement, a complete blackout on communication with their families and attorneys, excessive strip searches, severe beatings by guards, incessant verbal abuse, and deliberate interference with their religious practices.
The four men, Yasser Ebrahim, Asif-ur-Rehman Saffi, Hany Ibrahim and Ashraf Ibrahim, will be barred from speaking to anyone outside of the case, including family members, whether in the U.S. or at home, while they are here, and the content of their depositions will not be made public. They will be deposed by attorneys from the Department of Justice, and attorneys for the individual defendants named in the suit. Despite the fact that the allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment have been substantiated by two reports of the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General, discipline has been slow in coming from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine, testifying before Congress in June 2005, criticized the long delay and urged expeditious and appropriate action in disciplining at least 10 of those responsible.

The Center for Constitutional Rights welcomed news that disciplinary actions had finally been taken by the Bureau of Prisons: so far, in December 2005 and January 2006, five men from the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) have been disciplined for their role in the abuse: two were terminated, two were suspended for 30 days, and one was demoted. More actions may be pending.CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman said, "Our clients have returned to the U.S. to fight for justice. They were deprived of their rights and abused simply because of their ethnicity and religion, and we at the Center for Constitutional Rights are determined to challenge the unlawful actions of those responsible. Former Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller were among the architects of the plan to deprive these individuals of their rights, and we plan to hold them accountable in this lawsuit."
CCR attorney Rachel Meeropol said, "To our knowledge, there has never before been a case where immigrants who had been deported were allowed to return to the country to participate in a lawsuit, and we look forward to using their time here to strengthen our case against defendants.""While the three-year delay in taking disciplinary action remains a major concern, we commend the Bureau of Prisons for finally disciplining some of the guards who participated in this outrageous abuse," said CCR attorney Matthew Strugar. "It means a lot to our clients that finally someone is being held accountable for the brutality they experienced, but we believe the responsibility for these abuses goes further up the chain of command at the Bureau of Prisons and we are disappointed more individuals have not yet been held accountable."

Lloyd says he's getting ready for the NSA battle and notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush's Kansas Speech: More Nonsense on the NSA" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Then, like every bad criminal, Bush said, "If I wanted to break the law, why was I" doing such and such?
In his case, such and such was "briefing Congress." But even as Cheney gave the most meager notifications to a handful of leaders on the Hill, the Administration was not following the law, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Most disturbing of all, Bush claimed that "Congress gave me the authority to use necessary force to protect the American people, but it didn't prescribe the tactics."
And he evidently believes there is nothing--neither the Constitution, nor statutes, nor Congress, nor the Courts--that can now limit his choice of tactics.
With this rationale, Bush could send F-16s to attack a residential area in, say, Indianapolis, if he thought there was someone with an Al Qaeda link there.
Bush acts as though the war on terror has rendered the Bill of Rights obsolete.
We better use it or lose it.

Kylie found something "that should make everyone laugh." It's a parody of a memo to John Rendon (of the Rendon Group and one of the people responsible for selling the wars), Danny Schechter's "The Day Bin Laden Went Shopping for a US PR Advisor -- (Satire)" (MediaChannel.org):

To: John Rendon CEOFrom: XXX 1
Dear John:
You are not going to believe this. We are receiving a feeler for a covert consultancy that belongs in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Please shred this memo after you’ve read it for obvious reasons. I am sure that the government agencies we have been working for would go postal if they knew about this. Absolute discretion is essential. If this gets out on the Internet, our golden goose is cooked. Paper is dangerous - it does not self-destruct.
The Background:
•A few weeks ago, the US military confirmed it was negotiating locally with certain unnamed insurgent groups in Iraq. This came after over two years of Washington stridently denouncing the insurgents as terrorists and insisting we would never talk with them. Remember, when you advised Rumsfeld to intimate that the insurgents could be worked with. Don started joking that he didn't know what an insurgent was. Soon, our policy in the field shifted even as it remained officially unchanged.
Clearly the Pentagon wants to divide the locals from the foreign fighters from Al Qaeda but this maneuver sets a new precedent and is a sign that a new type of political deal may be in the works. As you often say, "watch what we do, not what we say."
Just look at China for how yesterday's enemies can become today's allies. The "red menace" is now a business partner.

On the topic of Alito, Brad notes John Nichols' "Feingold: Alito Would Be 'Dangerous Addition' to Court" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

Not to be lost in the reporting on Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee vote to endorse the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to serve on the Supreme Court is the fact that U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, has voted for the first time in his Senate career against a Supreme Court nominee.
More than any other vote by a member of the committee -- which split 10-8 along partisan lines, with all Republicans backing Alito and all Democrats opposing his nomination -- Feingold's vote stands out.
While the seven other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had all voted against one or more Republican nominees for the high court, Feingold had, until Tuesday, voted to confirm every Supreme Court nominee, Republican or Democrat, to come before the panel.
This break in pattern by the man who is arguably the Senate's most adventurous thinker and independent player ought to serve as a basis for rethinking strategies with regard to blocking the nomination as it now moves to the full Senate -- up to and including the prospect of a filibuster.

Which brings us to Tori's highlight, John Nichols "What the President Ordered In This Case Was a Crime" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

While Judge Sam Alito's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has confirmed that he is not one of their number, a dwindling cadre of public servants still take seriously the dictates of the Constitution and the intents of it authors. And there is no more serious dictate of the document -- and no more solidly established intent -- than the one that requires the Congress to serve as a check and a balance against the excesses of the executive branch. Most particularly in a time of war, the founders intended for the Congress to question, challenge and constrain the president and his aides so that never again would Americans be subjected to the illegitimate, unwarranted and illegal dictates of a King George.
This mandate, so well-established and so thoroughly grounded in history and tradition, places a particularly high demand on the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It is in the House, the Constitution tells us, that the work of holding an out-of-control president to account, must begin -- and it is on the Judiciary Committee that the process is initiated.

Brenda notes Cindy Sheehan's "Matriotism" (Common Dreams):

All though school, we are brainwashed into believing that some how our leaders are always right and certainly have our best interests at heart when they wave the flag and convince us to hate fellow human beings who stand in the way of making immense profits from war. As Samuel Johnson said, patriotism is the "last refuge of a scoundrel."
Matriotism is the opposite of patriotism…not to destroy it, but to be a yin to its yang, and balance out the militarism of patriotism.
Not everyone is a mother, but there is one universal truth that no one can dispute no matter how hard they try (and believe me, some will try): Everyone has a mother! Mothers give life, and if the child is lucky, mothers nurture life. And if a man has had a nurturing mother he will already have a base of Matriotism.
A Matriot loves his/her country but does not buy into the exploitive phrase of "My country right or wrong." (As Chesterton said, that's like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober.") A Matriot knows that her country can do a lot of things right, especially when the government is not involved. For example, I know of no other citizens of any country who are more personally generous than those of America. However, a Matriot also knows that when her country is wrong, it can be responsible for murdering thouands upon thousands of innocent and unsuspecting humans. A true Matriot would never drop an atomic bomb or bombs filled with white phosphorous, carpet bomb cities and villages, or control drones from thousands of miles away to kill innocent men, women and children.
There is one most important thing that matriots would never do, however, and this is the key to stopping killing to solve problems: a matriot would never send her child or another mother's child to fight nonsense wars -- and would march into a war herself that she considered just to protect her child from harm. Aha! Matriots would fight their own battles, but take a dim view of having to do so, and would seldom resort to violence to solve conflict! Patriots cowardly hide behind the flag and eagerly send young people to die to fill their own pocketbooks.

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