Monday, January 16, 2006

Gore on Bully Boy, Democracy Now! on MLK, Nader on Senate Dems, Solomon on Koppel & NPR

Former Vice President Al Gore asserted Monday that President Bush "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant and called for a federal investigation of the practice.
Speaking on Martin Luther King Jr.'s national holiday, the man who lost the 2000 presidential election to Bush only after a ruling by the Supreme Court on a recount in Florida, called Bush's warrantless surveillance program "a threat to the very structure of our government." Gore charged that the program has ignored the checks and balances of the courts and Congress.
Gore said that Bush's actions - which the president has defended as indispensable in the war against terrorism - represented a "direct assault" on the special federal court that considers, and decides whether to authorize, administration requests to eavesdrop on Americans.

The above, sent in by Brandon, is from Larry Margasak's "Gore Assails Domestic Wiretapping Program: Former Vice President Says Bush Repeatedly Broke Law" (Associated Press). In the article, attack poodle (to use James Wolcott's term) Tracey Schmitt launches yet another attack. Isn't it laughable to hear her speak of inaccuarcies after Nevada in 2004?

From "NV GOP: "I'm looking to take Democrats off the voter rolls" (Nevada State Democratic Party):

Dan Burdish, a Republican operative and former director of the Nevada Republican Party, told the Las Vegas Review Journal, "I'm looking to take Democrats off the voter rolls," adding that his "motives were purely political". [Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/10/04]
[. . .]
During an interview on KCEP-FM on Saturday, Bush Campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt denied Burdish's activities took place, "Republicans are doing nothing of the sort." Schmitt added, "Republicans have done nothing but encourage everyone to vote."
[. . .]
Now that it has become public that Ms. Schmitt's comments on the radio were false, the Nevada State Democratic Party is calling on her to stand by her statement of making sure "every single person has their God given right to get out there on Election Day". If Ms. Schmitt was being honest when she said that "nothing is more important to President Bush", it is incumbent on her to make the Bush administration and campaign aware that this voter suppression tactic is taking place in Nevada and call for an end to this type of voter intimidation immediately. Anything short of that will expose her comments on behalf of the campaign as disingenuous at best.

Of course she didn't retract her statements.

From Gore's "'We the People' Must Save Our Constitution" (Common Dreams):

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.
In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.
As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.
It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.
So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.
It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.
On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

And today was the federal holiday in honor of MLK. Democracy Now! devoted the full hour to MLK:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He was born January 15, 1929. If he lived, he would have turned 77 years old. In the early 1960s, King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South where police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods were used against Southern blacks seeking the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter. After passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" -- including economic rights.

Third Party notes Ralph Nader's "Stuck Between Scalia and Thomas: Democrats Drop the Ball - Again" (Common Dreams):

So now the Democrats will be saddled with what Kevin Zeese, who is running as an independent for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, called the "four horses of the apocalypse" - four partisan justices who favor executive power, corporate power, expansive law enforcement authority [but not against corporate or governmental violators], co-mingling of religion and government and minimal individual rights." "Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito will provide the foundation for right wing extremism for decades to come," he said.
If they were disciplined, the Democrats could have blocked all of them. Hoist by their own petards, to use the law school phrase, the Democrats continue to berate the Republicans for these Justices whom they let through by default, disorganization and lack of conviction.
The very format of the hearings helps the Republicans. Even though they obviously control the Judiciary Committee, it is a narrow majority. The Democrats should demand longer hearings - three days and short times for follow-up questioning regarding a lifetime position on the Supreme Court are ridiculous. Further, many Democrats damage their chances for longer hearings when they spend too much time talking and too little time getting more questions to and replies from Supreme Court nominees.
The panels of citizen witnesses should come before the nominee's testimony so as to provide broader and deeper frameworks for the public and the Congress. Instead, these testifiers have become an anti-climax after the nominee finishes and leaves, along with more than a few other absent Judiciary Committee Senators. It is not a little rude to invite Law Professors, Practitioners and others from long distances and treat them so curtly and cavalierly.
Chairman Arlen Specter and Senator Patrick Leahy - the senior Republican and Democrat on the Committee present themselves as impeccably fair. Yet persons who wrote and faxed requests to be witnesses, including myself, never received so much as an acknowledgement of rejection.

This just in, NPR continues to waste taxpayer's monies on nonsense. Doug notes Norman Solomon's "Ted Koppel, NPR and Henry Kissinger" (CounterPunch):

No doubt many people are glad that Ted Koppel will become a regular voice on National Public Radio. He recently ended 25 years with ABC's "Nightline" show amid profuse media accolades. But what kind of journalist goes out of his way to voice fervent admiration for Henry Kissinger?
Days ago, NPR announced that Koppel will do several commentaries per month on "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered." The Associated Press reported that "he also will serve as an analyst during breaking news and special events."
There's some grim irony in the statement issued by NPR's senior vice president for programming: "Ted and NPR are a natural fit, with curiosity about the world and commitment to getting to the heart of the story. The role of news analyst has been a tradition on NPR newsmagazines and there is no one better qualified to uphold and grow that tradition than Ted."
But "the heart of the story" about U.S. foreign policy has often involved deceptions from Washington. And since Koppel became a prominent journalist, he has been a fervent booster of one of the most prodigious and murderous deceivers in U.S. history.
"Henry Kissinger is, plain and simply, the best secretary of state we have had in 20, maybe 30 years -- certainly one of the two or three great secretaries of state of our century," Koppel said in an interview (quoted in Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 1989). Koppel added: "I'm proud to be a friend of Henry Kissinger. He is an extraordinary man. This country has lost a lot by not having him in a position of influence and authority."
Koppel was heaping praise on someone who served as a key architect of foreign policy throughout the Nixon presidency. Kissinger -- whose record as an inveterate liar was thoroughly documented in Seymour Hersh's 1983 book "The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House" -- orchestrated bloody foreign-policy deceptions from Southeast Asia to Chile to East Timor.

Would it be too much for taxpayers to know exactly what NPR's paying Ted Koppel? I can't imagine he's working on the cheap. While regularly begging the public for money and claiming they desperately need it (they're worse than some televangilists), they're probably forking over a large sum for Koppel. Whatever they're paying him, the public has a right to know. Not just because it's our money but also because they're always claiming that they depend on donations from "listeners like you" to "continue bringing you" the same crap they've been bringing you for years.

Bob Edwards they can send packing because he's too long in the tooth (their judgement) but Ted Koppel they'll roll out the carpet for? So another Republican booster got hired by NPR and maybe they think it will help them in the next funding round in Congress?

Just what NPR needed, one more gatekeeping gas bag.

Instead of wasting money on Koppel (Cokie Roberts, among others, already fills that role at NPR), they could have used his salary to develop a show that was fresh and actually served the public. But maybe the corporate sponsors wouldn't have like that? And maybe a network that gets so much in corporate funds should, in the fairness advertising sense, stop calling itself National Public Radio?

File it under yet another reason to listen to Pacifica.

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