Saturday, January 21, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Saturday Robert Redford, James Longley, Patricia Foulkrod, Byron Hurt; Sunday: Elizabeth Holtzman, Joel Pomeroy . . .

Kat here. Dead to the world, but here. It seems like I blinked and lost a whole week. I bet a lot of you feel that way. It's a good kind of tired knowing that you're doing everything you can to get the message to your senators that Alito doesn't belong on the Supreme Court.

But it's been a week. And you know if I'm here, I'm either talking about music or Laura Flanders. It's Saturday, so guess which topic I'm here for?

RadioNation with Laura Flanders! She's still in Utah and this time Laura's live from Sundance. With the Sundance Kid himself, Robert Redford! That's right, Saturday's show will feature an exclusive interview with Robert Redford. Now for some of the younger members, this may not seem like a big deal; however, Redford doesn't do a large number of interviews. Growing up, I knew Redford wouldn't be sitting down with Johnny Carson each time he had a film due out. So Laura interviewing him is a very big deal. (The last time I remember seeing an interview with him, and I'm sure he's done one since, was when Gloria Steinem interviewed him on The Today Show. I believe that was in the early eighties.)

RadioNation with Laura Flanders
Live from Sundance!
This weekend Air America and
The Nation magazine go to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Saturdays & Sundays, 7-10pm ET on Air America Radio
On Saturday, we talk to founder Robert Redford about a quarter-century of nurturing independent film... festival Programming Director John Cooper about this year's films... Filmmakers Patricia Foulkrod and James Longley about their independent documentaries on Iraq, Byron Hurt on his film on machismo and hip hop culture, and more.
On Sunday, we'll hear from former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman -- she was on Nixon's impeachment committee and believes W. deserves the same. The media roundtable features Joel Pomeroy, executive producer of "Crossing Arizona" and Freida Lee Mock, director and screenwriter of "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner".

Tune in. And if you missed it, last weekend's live broadcast from Salt Lake City can be podcast from It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman is the author of "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" and, as someone who worked on the impeachment of Nixon, she knows a thing or two about the crimes of Bully Boys. Along with Redford and Holtzman, you'll hear about the latest in independent film. So make a point to listen to RadioNation with Laura Flanders either over the traditional airwaves, via XM satellite radio, podcasting or via the online stream.

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: Yesterday, Pacifica Radio broadcast Representative John Conyers Jr.'s hearings on the NSA spying of American citizens that circumvented the FISA courts. If you heard the broadcast, anchored by Larry Bensky, you had a good idea of how the Senate should run their hearings. This was the second time we have been able to count on Representative Conyers to call a hearing that the Republican controlled House did not want.

There were strong questions and equally strong answers. I do not know whether there will be any press coverage on this or if, as with the last hearing, the press will just choose to ignore it. If they do cover it, I assume that they will offer snippets of Congress members and expert witnesses.

I would like to draw attention to Richard Hersh because I found his testimony to be to the point and because, if there is press coverage, he seems the sort of witness the press would ignore because he is speaking of his own personal experiences.

Mr. Hersh is not a terrorist but he and his peace group have been spied upon by the Defense Department. These are old tactics of one Bully Boy, Nixon, brought back by our current Bully Boy.

Mr. Hersh noted that, "Quakers welcomed us into their church. . . They knew our purpose was solely to excercise our First Amendment rights . . . We had no idea, until one year later, that the unfamiliar faces in the church, had been sent by the President to spy on us. . . . Agents rummaged through trash, hacked websites and listened in on phone calls. Indeed address books and activist's meetings lists have disappeared. . . . I was spied on in a house of worship in the United States and in a private home in Flordia . . ."

Mr. Hersh further noted that, "I think it's time for us to act. I think to protect our civil liberties and our constitutional rights it's important to hold him accountable. To hold the president and his entire administration accountable for their behaviors. "

The Defense Department's actions were revealed shortly before we learned of the NSA spying and, in the mainstream press, that earlier report seems to have gotten lost; however, it is important and Kate Martin's testimony noted this, "The Defense Department appears to be sending people into religious meetings. . . If we could get the facts, I think we would see that they have changed all the rules . . . and that the NSA is only one aspect of it."

It will be interesting to see whether the Senate hearings touch on this aspect or if, instead, they narrow down the range of discussion to allow the Bully Boy even more wiggle room. The spying is a serious issue and, if you were fortunate enough to listen to the hearing on Pacifica Radio, you heard a strong example of how the Senate should run their own hearings. Among the other strong witnesses offering testimony were James Bamford, Professor Jonathan Turley, and Carole Frederickson.

Representative Jerrold Nadler made the point that the crimes Bully Boy committed in his warrantless spying on American citizens are crimes that come with a long statute of limitations. Short of pardoning himself, even if he escapes Congressional punishment, the crime is still open to prosecution for many years.

After last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the Conyer's hearings demonstrated that Democrats, at least House members, can still be effective and strong voices.

If you missed the hearings, you can access the KPFA archives for the broadcast and you can also note this program airing Sunday:

Sunday Salon
Big Brother Really IS Watching You...
A look at the Bush Administration's unauthorized domestic surveillance program. Commentary on Representative John Conyers' Congressional hearings on surveillance, and a listen to Al Gore's Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech slamming Bush for breaking the law.
Listen to past shows, get contact and reference info for guests, see announcements of upcoming programs, and more at:

Last Sunday, Larry Bensky, the host of Sunday Salon, addressed the realities and the media coverage of Iraq. It was a lively discussion. Mr. Bensky anchored the coverage of the Conyers' hearing so this Sunday's broadcast should also be of interest.

Friday on CounterSpin, which I listen to on WBAI, Stephen Zunes, a professor at the University of San Francisco, discussed the violent and bloody legacy of Ariel Sharon in contrast to the media portrayals of Prime Minister Sharon as "peacemaker." In addition to that interview, also of interest to the community should be the interview with Danny Schechter, the News Dissector.
Mr. Schechter disussed the Samuel Alito Jr. hearings and wondered, "How did the Democrats blow it so badly?"

The media frame going into the Senate Judiciary Committee was that Judge Alito would react to questioning the way Robert Bork had. When that did not happen, the Democrats had no "alternative strategy." Mr. Schechter pointed out that Judge Alito's performance should not have been surprising since it followed Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.'s hearings "where the same tactic was used."

Once again, as Mr. Schechter explained, the Democrats did not make the case to the American people of why the nomination mattered and why the Supreme Court mattered. Instead, they attempted to provide legal analysis. When the media began rewarding Judge Alito's nonanswers by focusing on "strategy" as opposed to substance, the problems with the existing media were obvious. More on this topic can be found in Mr. Schechter's "
AFTER ALITO: WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT NOW?" What now? The goal should be to become a part of the media process and "grab the opportunity" to do so as we see a shift away from traditional media forms.

Mr. Schechter's books,
When News Media Lies and The Death of Media: And the Fight to Save Democracy, were noted and he was asked to explain the main points that could be taken from the books. With regards to When News Media Lies, Mr. Schechter noted that we would not have "the war in Iraq if the media wasn't supporting it." He spoke of the media war that has existed side by side with the war in Iraq.

This is a topic that his film Weapons of Mass Deception addresses. As noted at
this site Thursday, WMD just won "the top jury award for documentaries in the Breakthrough Human Rights Festival in India." When my grandson Jayson saw that, he asked that I note it and note that his favorite film is WMD. When many of us were in D.C. for the September protest, C.I. and my granddaughter Tracey had planned to exchange a number of books and C.I. also passed along that documentary. If you have not already seen WMD, I will tell you that not only is it Jayson's favorites but it is one that has led to many discussions in my family about the role the media played in the lead up to the war. It is a comprehensive look at the broadcast media that addresses the failures to seriously address administration claims and to offer a wide range of discussion. My very good friend Treva has deemed it the film to watch if you want to "get angry and get active."

Also on Friday, I did listen to a program Rachel suggested on
WBAI, Nonfiction hosted by Harry Allen. This was an interesting program and one I will attempt to listen to in the future. Mr. Allen's first guest Friday was author William Blum. Blum is, as Tracey says, the author of Rogue State "Osama's Book of the Month pick." In the recent broadcast remarks alleged to have been made by Osama bin Laden, the book Rogue State was noted. Since bin Laden was never captured, "dead or alive," he appears to be attempting to poach Oprah's territory. Mr. Blum noted that there were actually two books by him, Freeing the World to Death being the second one, but bin Laden appeared to compress them into a single book.

Mr. Blum said that there would be no "blurb" added to the cover of Rogue State, which has lept up the charts, but that a news item might be added. Mr. Allen asked if bin Laden had attempted to contact him and Mr. Blum replied that had that happened, he would have been worried. The author explained that the book had been translated into Arabic and that possibly bin Laden read a translated copy. (Egypt was one of the two countries that offered an Arabic translation.) More information about Mr. Blum's works can be found at his website Killing Hope.

As most members know, I have been mentioning Pacifica programming in the daily column for the gina & krista round-robins. I have saved Friday's programs for this site but I do have a column in Saturday's round-robin which is an interview I did with Treva where she reflects back on her college days, we went to college together, and what it was like then when abortion was illegal. Please remain active in opposing the confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court.

Other Items

With the White House under increasing attack over the program, the administration also announced that President Bush, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the agency, will each give talks next week in support of the program.
The day's events showed the White House's increasingly forceful effort to build public support for the program, as it seeks to demonstrate that Mr. Bush acted within constitutional authority in ordering the agency to monitor international e-mail and phone calls linked to Al Qaeda without seeking warrants.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau and James Risen's "More Attacks and Meetings on a Program Under Fire" on the website of the New York Times this morning and in tomorrow's paper in some form. (Jonah noted it.) The Bully Boy and his cohorts will be pressing the claim that there was nothing wrong with spying on American citizens without warrants. (See "The Notwit and Nonwisdom of John Cornyn.") And there was nothing wrong with it except for it being illegal, unconstitutional and, I'd argue, unethical. So keep pressing Bully Boy.

Of the article, note that, unlike the Downing Street Memos hearings that John Conyers Jr. held, yesterday's hearings on the spying/snooping by the NSA, authorized by the Bully Boy, actually make it into the paper. Nine paragraphs (check my math). We'll note this:

While several witnesses brought reputations as liberal critics of the administration, one witness, Bruce Fein, had been a senior Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan and was critical of the program's legal underpinnings.
Mr. Fein suggested that he would have resigned rather than acquiesce in such a program.

Should we assume that the paper included coverage of the Conyers hearings as trade off in their continued avoidance of any coverage the event going on in their own backyard? The Bush Commission's hearings are taking place. Will the Times cover the three day event in any form?
Probably not. A discussion as to the legalities of the Bully Boy's actions might seem like a natural topic for the paper, especially since it doesn't require any huge travel expense; however, an intellectual pursuit is hardly in keeping with the paper's continued dumbing down of America.
Though never on par with The New York Review of Books, the paper wasn't always opposed to intellectual pursuit. Possibly they, like Daniel Okrent, prefer their new attitude (what Keesha once dubbed "Grey Lady be letting her hair down" attitude) as opposed to the paper's past which did include coverage of the academic world that went far beyond the embarrassing coverage of public schools.

Question, which Times reporter, after penning an article on the Rod Paige, then Secretary of Education, controversy stated that he didn't care to look into whether or not Paige was paid in full by Houston for work he didn't complete when he left to become Secretary of Education? And note, this was after the myth of the "Houston miracle" exploded. Answer? In today's gina & krista round-robin. That's one of my contributions to today's round-robin and one more reason to open it even though it's a Saturday and you may think, "Well, I've done all I can until Monday on the Alito issue." There's still work to be done and Gina and Krista are publishing each day so be sure to read the round-robins. And please stay active this weekend.

(For more on the special round-robins, see Wally's "Evening Jot." And Three Cool Old Guys have a column in today's round-robin to give you another reason to open it when you see it in your inboxes.)

I noted a song by Maria McKee yesterday and Susan notes a favorite that ties in with Rebecca's call to shake the mountain, move the mountain and defeat the Alito confirmation.

I'm depending on you
To teach me all the things I forgot I eve knew
Baby you can lean on me
I may lean a little too
Whatever gets us through
And I feel a mountain movin' deep within
-- "Nobody's Child" written by Maria McKee and Robbie Robertson, appears on McKee's self-titled album

Since the Times won't tell you about the Bush Commission, let's go to Ruth:

The Bush Commission . . . will be holding a tribunal in New York City from January twentieth to the twenty-third. The first day of the hearing will take place at The Riverside Church on 123 Riverside Drive and will begin at 5:00 pm. The second day will take place at the same location and begin at 10:00 am. The final day, Sunday, the hearings will move to the Law School at Columbia University and will begin at 1:00 pm. More information can be found online at Bush Commission and also by calling (212) 941- 8086. Also at the Bush Commission website, you can find information on the October 2005 hearings including audio and videos you can watch online as well as text excerpts.

So today at the Riverside Church, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and tomorrow at the Law School at Columbia, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

In other news, Adam Nagourney tells readers the latest of still-under-investigation-for-outing-a-CIA-agent Karl Rove and his plan for selling Repubes as "national security" lust objects. Before the 'vangical voters get their psuedo morals up and dripping, Democrats might want to note that this is the man who had conversations with the press about an undercover CIA agent. This is the man who, though not yet charged, actively gave out information that led to a CIA agent's cover being blown. So possibly he's the last person to speak of national security? Possibly, the country might be safer if he were composing his talking points from a prison cell?

Or they might want to hit on the fact that (see last entry), Scooter Libby will go to trial shortly for his involvement in the outing of a CIA agent. That would be Cheney's right hand man. Scoots who had to resign when he was indicted. For, among other things, lying to FBI investigators.

Or there's Lawrence Franklin who just pled guilty for passing on national security secrets which ended up in the hands of a foreign government. (Again, see previous entry.) Outing a CIA agent, passing national security information onto a foreign government, it's a bit hard for the Repubes to fall back on their usual plan of Blame Clinton For Everything.

Hillary Clinton might want to grab an old speech (one she gave, if I'm remembering correctly, to the ABA, prior to Bill Clinton being elected president in 1992) and rework it so that it captures the feel of "The last thing American voters need is to hear Republicans talk about a national security they never honored or lived up to."

Need more to refute the talking point of "national security Republicans"? Zach notes Robert Parry's "The Imperium's Quarter Century" (Consortium News):

If there is a birth date for today's American Imperium, it would be Jan. 20, 1981, exactly a quarter century ago, when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President and Iran released 52 American hostages under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day.
The freedom of the hostages, ending a 444-day crisis, brought forth an outpouring of patriotism that bathed the new President in an aura of heroism as a leader so feared by America's enemies that they scrambled to avoid angering him. It was viewed as a case study of how U.S. toughness could restore the proper international order.
That night, as fireworks lit the skies of Washington, the celebration was not only for a new President and for the freed hostages, but for a new era in which American power would no longer be mocked. That momentum continues today in George W. Bush's "preemptive" wars and the imperial boasts about a "New American Century."
However, the reality of that day 25 years ago now appears to have been quite different than was understood at the time, much as George W. Bush's cowboy rhetoric of smoking Osama bin Laden out and getting him dead or alive has proved more bluster than reality.
What's now known about the Iranian hostage crisis suggests that the "coincidence" of the Reagan Inauguration and the Hostage Release was not a case of frightened Iranians cowering before a U.S. President who might just nuke Tehran.
The preponderance of evidence suggests that it was a prearranged deal between the Republicans and the Iranians. The Republicans got the hostages and the political bounce; Iran's Islamic fundamentalists got a secret supply of weapons and various other payoffs.
State Secret
Though the full history remains a state secret -- in part because of an executive order signed by George W. Bush on his first day in office in 2001 -- it appears Republicans did contact Iran's mullahs during the 1980 campaign; agreements were reached; and a clandestine flow of U.S. weapons followed the hostage release.

Ah, those "national security Republicans." The article notes "For more on the October Surprise mystery and supporting documents, see's "The October Surprise X-Files" or Parry's Secrecy & Privilege." Secrecy & Privilege is a great book but I'd also add to that Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom. And, if I didn't, members would. The latter book was discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review recently and on this end (I haven't had time to ask Ty and Dona what the response has been at, members have been very interested in that book. Need another reason to hunt down the book? Parry's Rebecca's favorite book author of nonfiction.

Cindy pointed out that Trina's gotten very little build up compared to other members who've started sites. Cindy's right and my apologies to Trina. She had the misfortune of starting her site, Trina's Kitchen, when the hearings had just concluded and I was wiped out. This week has been about Alito as well. Trina's Kitchen is a Saturday site -- that means she intends to post only on Saturdays because that's the only time she has to spare. Ideally, it's a weekly site; however, I'm not sure she'll be posting today. She's worked really hard contributing to the round-robins this week. It's a great site and one that I should have given more attention to.
My apologies to Trina. (And if you need another reason to check out Trina's Kitchen, remember that Mike is Trina's son.)

And she may be posting today. I know Isaiah's trying to think up a new The World Today Just Nuts due to the fact that he's created original comics all week for the round-robin. He e-mailed that he's going to try to think of something but he's not sure he has a daily comic in him. I understand completely. I've e-mailed West and if Isaiah's not able to think up yet another comic in a week where he's already given so much, we'll highlight a previous one that West selects.

Everyone has given a great deal to the round-robins this week (most of all Gina and Krista so please let them know that you appreciate their hard work). I believe Kayla has a contribution today (if it's not today, it will run Sunday) as does Travis.

Brandon e-mailed wondering if there would be a new edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow and if Ava and I would have a TV thing in it? Yes, the plan is for a new edition. As for a TV piece, Ava and I have two ideas. If we can create or find time, we may have two pieces. I'm booked solid today and Ava and Jess are meeting with at least two student groups to talk about the need to stop the confirmation of Alito so I can't promise that we'll find the time or, that if we do find the time, we won't be so tired we have nothing to say. But, fingers crossed, there will be at least one piece by us and possibly two.

Dallas is hunting down links for Ruth's latest which will go up shortly and Kat will be doing the entry on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and, remember, Flanders is in Utah at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend. (Thank you to Dallas and Kat for their help and then some.) (And thank you to Ruth, too. I know she's exhausted.)

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NYT: "Former Military Analyst Gets Prison Term for Passing Information" (David Johnston)

A federal judge sentenced a former Defense Department analyst to 12 years and seven months in prison on Friday after the analyst admitted passing classified military information about Iran and Iraq to two pro-Israel lobbyists and an Israeli diplomat.
The sentence given to the analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, by Judge T. S. Ellis III of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., was at the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Judge Ellis said at the hearing that he did not excuse the actions of Mr. Franklin, 59, but that Mr. Franklin had been motivated by a desire to help the United States.
[. . .]
The lobbyists, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, were senior staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying organization known as Aipac that was close to officials in the Bush administration.

The above is from David Johnston's "Former Military Analyst Gets Prison Term for Passing Information" in this morning's New York Times.

We have two highlights from the New York Times in this entry and both are by David Johnston.
They're being grouped together because they buck the notion of those "National Security Republicans." Franklin pleads guilty in a case involving national security and Franklin, until recently, served in whose administration? No, don't be a Bill O'Lielly and scream "Bill Clinton!" The answer is that Franklin was Bully Boy's boy.

The Bully Boy administration has many claims to be ashamed of and certainly the passing of national security, classified information to a foreign government ranks high. For more background on this, you can see Amanda's highlight, James Petras' "AIPAC on Trial" (CounterPunch):

In August 2004, the FBI and the US Justice Department counter-intelligence bureau announced that they were investigating a top Pentagon analyst suspected of spying for Israel and handing over highly confidential documents on US policy toward Iran to AIPAC which in turn handed them over to the Israeli Embassy. The FBI had been covertly investigating senior Pentagon analyst, Larry Franklin and AIPAC leaders, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman for several years prior to their indictment for spying. On August 29, 2005 the Israeli Embassy predictably hotly denied the spy allegation. On the same day Larry Franklin was publicly named as a spy suspect. Franklin worked closely with Michael Ledeen and Douglas Feith, then Undersecretary for Defense in the Pentagon, in fabricating the case for war with Iraq. Franklin was the senior analyst on Iran, which is at the top of AIPAC's list of targets for war.
As the investigation proceeded toward formal charges of espionage, the pro-Israeli think tanks and neo-con ideologues joined in a two-prong response. On the one hand some questioned whether "handing over documents" was a crime at all, claiming it involved "routine exchanges of ideas" and lobbying. On the other hand, Israeli officials and media denied any Israeli connection with Franklin, minimizing his importance in policy-making circles, while others vouched for his integrity.
The FBI investigation of the Washington spy network deepened and included the interrogation of two senior members of Feith's Office of Special Plans, William Luti and Harold Rhode. The OSP was responsible for feeding bogus intelligence leading to the US attack of Iraq. The leading FBI investigator, Dave Szady, stated that the FBI investigation involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that document the passing of classified information from Franklin to the men at AIPAC and on to the Israelis.

You can also check out Jeffrey Goldberg's "Real Insiders: A pro-Israel lobby and an F.B.I. sting"
(The New Yorker) from this summer.

But it's not just Lawrence Franklin, it also includes the one and only Scooter Libby. Remember Scoots? The Times does today in Johnston's "Lawyers in C.I.A. Leak Case Seek to Subpoena Journalists:"

Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff told a federal judge on Friday that they would seek to subpoena reporters and news organizations to obtain additional documents that could assist in his defense in the C.I.A. leak case.
[. . .]
Mr. Libby was indicted in October on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, accused of lying to F.B.I. investigators and to the grand jury about his dealings with reporters in the leak case. Mr. Libby, who had been one of the most influential figures in the White House, immediately resigned.

Oh how proud Poppy and Big Babs must be.

Lynda e-mails to note that Amy Goodman is in Florida this evening, the Un-Embed the Media tour continues:

* Amy Goodman in Melbourne, FL:
Sat, Jan 21
*TIME: 6:30 pm
Gleason Performing Arts Center,
Florida Institute Of Technology,
150 W University Blvd, Melbourne Fl 32901
$10 advance/$15 at the door (if still available).
On sale at WFIT website,
or by calling WFIT at (321) 674-8950.
For more information: Call SCPA (321) 917-1960
Doors open at 5:30 pm

* Amy Goodman in San Francisco, CA:
Fri, Jan 27
*TIME: 12:15 pm
IPA 2006 Conference
Marines Memorial Hotel,
609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA

* Amy Goodman in Oakland, CA:
Fri, Jan 27
Alice Walker & Amy Goodman: Media Alliance's 30th Anniversary Kick-Off
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison Street,
Oakland, CA
Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Reception is $75 generally, and $40 for recent MA donors already possessing an event voucher. The Reception is reservation only, by phone, in advance.
Purchase tickets online:
Or purchase by phone at 510-832-9000
For more information:
Reception Information:
7pm - Join Amy Goodman and the Media Alliance Board for a wine and cheese reception to launch the 30th Anniversary
$75 admission includes reception, 1 preferred seat for 8pm talk, and commemorative poster
$40 admission for recent MA donors possessing event voucher

* Amy Goodman in Arcata, CA:
Sat, Jan 28
An Evening with Amy Goodman
Center Arts Van Duzer Theater
Humbolt State University
1 Harpst St.
Arcata,CA 95521
Tickets are $25 general, $20 Senior/Child and $15 for HSU Students
For more information:
Tickets are available by calling the University Ticket Office at 707-826-3928.
Doors open at 7:30

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The Nonwit and Nonwisdom of John Cornyn

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the new audio tape of Osama bin Laden threatening attacks on American soil "is a vivid reminder why we must continue to intercept communications between al-Qaida overseas and potential operatives in the United States."

The above quote/Cornyism is from the Associated Press' "Democrats Scold White House Over Spying." Billie, one of our many Texas members, coined the term "Cornyism" to describe the screwball utterances that flow from John Cornyn's mouth. (Coined some time ago.)

Billie noted the quote and wanted everyone to think about it. Cornyn's referring to the alleged tape by bin Laden that was broadcast by Al Jazeera.

Billie: Osama has a message broadcast via television & Corny sees it as proof that we must intercept . . . cable television broadcasts? Or maybe Corny thinks it reminds us that Osama is still at large, still plotting? If so, I believe the Bully Boy's the only one who forgot that. So maybe Corny should go to the Oval Office and ask his buddy Bully Boy when he intends to get serious about that four-year-old pledge of "Wanted Dead or Alive"? Or maybe that's what Corny's trying to say? This is "a reminder" of "why" really is a coded message to America that we need to remember if Bully Boy had done the job he blustered about and not let Osama escape in Tora Bora, we would be safer now? Blink twice, Corny, if you're trying to send us a coded message.

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Note: Post corrected when I saw that Billie had written a second time. In her second e-mail, she suggested the title of this entry so I've changed it to that.

Hoy se inicia la Segunda Comisión Investigadora de Crímenes Contra la Humanidad cometidos por el gobierno de Bush

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" nueve cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Hoy se inicia la Segunda Comisión Investigadora de Crímenes Contra la Humanidad cometidos por el gobierno de Bush
La segunda reunión de la Comisión Internacional de Investigación de Crímenes Contra la Humanidad Cometidos por el Gobierno de Bush comenzará hoy en Nueva York. La comisión investigará una serie de acusaciones de que el gobierno de Bush cometió crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad. Se redactó un borrador de las acusaciones en la primera comisión realizada en octubre. Entre quienes deben declarar ante la comisión se encuentran el ex director de Abu Ghraib, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski; el ex embajador británico en Uzbekistán Craig Murray; el conductor y activista Harry Belafonte, y el ex inspector de armas de la ONU Scott Ritter.

Lideres iraquíes y musulmanes estadounidenses piden la liberación de Carroll
Líderes musulmanes iraquíes y estadounidenses adhirieron a los llamados de familiares y colegas de la periodista estadounidense secuestrada Jill Carroll para pedir que sea liberada sana y salva. Carroll, una periodista de 28 años de edad que trabajaba de forma independiente para el periódico "Christian Science Monitor" en Irak, fue secuestrada en Bagdad a principios de este mes. Integrantes del grupo de apoyo musulmán estadounidense Consejo de Relaciones Estadounidenses-Islámicas (CAIR, por sus siglas en inglés), están viajando a Irak para intentar obtener la liberación de Carroll. Mientras tanto, Muthanna Harith al-Dhari, una destacada figura del grupo sunita iraquí Asociación de Eruditos Musulmanes (MSA, por sus siglas en inglés), dijo: "Todos los secuestros y asesinatos son totalmente rechazados... especialmente cuando se trata del secuestro de un periodista. Los periodistas están aquí para informar al mundo sobre la ocupación, por lo tanto, secuestrar a un periodista es esconder la verdad". Al-Dhari agregó: "La periodista, Jill Carroll... es una de las grandes periodistas que están en contra de la ocupación. Es considerada una de las mejores periodistas que se opuso a la ocupación estadounidense de Irak y centró sus artículos en ... contarle al mundo sobre el sufrimiento de los iraquíes".

Periodistas iraquíes liberados describen calvario bajo custodia de Estados Unidos
En otra noticia sobre Irak, los dos periodistas iraquíes que fueron liberados esta semana, luego de estar detenidos sin ser acusados durante más de cuatro meses por las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses, describieron su calvario. El periodista de "Reuters" Majed Hameed dijo: "Las fuerzas estadounidenses llevaron a cabo una redada en casa, mi casa, el 8 de agosto (de 2005) y encontraron una cámara con la que yo había filmado enfrentamientos en Ramadi que ocurrieron en la ciudad desde el mediodía hasta la tarde. (Filmé) con mi cámara tomas muy sencillas de las fuerzas estadounidenses atacando la mezquita de Haj Maqbulaa, y una de las casas, con vidrios rotos desparramados por el piso. Realizaron una redada en mi casa y vieron estas cosas, yo respondí que sólo eran enfrentamientos y luego de eso inmediatamente tomaron mis cámaras, los dispositivos de comunicación, la computadora y luego me arrestaron". Hamedd fue liberado esta semana luego de estar bajo custodia de Estados Unidos, junto con el camarógrafo de "Reuters" Ali al-Mashhadani, quien fue arrestado en agosto. Ambos estaban detenidos en las prisiones dirigidas por Estados Unidos en la cárcel de Abu Ghraib y Camp Bucca. Al menos otros tres periodistas iraquíes que trabajan para los medios de comunicación internacionales permanecen bajo custodia de Estados Unidos.

HRW dice que la política exterior de Bush socava derechos humanos
En Estados Unidos, "Human Rights Watch" dio a conocer su informe anual el miércoles. El informe incluye una dura critica contra el gobierno de Bush, al que acusa de socavar el respeto por los derechos humanos en el mundo debido al modo en que está dirigiendo la llamada guerra contra el terrorismo. Este grupo también pidió al Congreso que establezca un panel independiente para investigar las violaciones de los derechos humanos llevadas a cabo por Estados Unidos. El director ejecutivo de "Human Rights Watch", Kenneth Roth, dijo: "Lamento informar que la defensa mundial de los derechos humanos se ha visto seriamente comprometida por la decisión política del gobierno de Bush de violar algunas de las normas básicas de los derechos humanos, por creer erróneamente que es la mejor manera de luchar contra el terrorismo. Se sabe desde hace tiempo que no se puede culpar a algunos soldados rasos del turno de la noche por la tortura y los tratos inhumanos aplicados por el gobierno de Bush. Por lo menos, y según lo que sabemos hasta ahora, las decisiones políticas tomadas por los de más alto rango crearon una atmósfera de tolerancia hacia las violaciones. Y entre esas decisiones políticas se puede citar, por ejemplo, la violación de la Convención de Ginebra en Guantánamo, su extraordinariamente limitada definición de tortura, al punto de que la mayoría de los abusos no son considerados tortura".

Estados Unidos se niega a disculparse por bombardeo de la CIA en Pakistán
En otras noticias, el gobierno estadounidense se negó a expresar arrepentimiento por el bombardeo de la CIA de la semana pasada en Pakistán. Según trascendió, el ataque mató a 17 personas, entre las que encontraban mujeres y niños. Estados Unidos no dijo mucho sobre el bombardeo, pero se cree que fue llevado a cabo por un avión Predator a control remoto de la CIA. El martes, el portavoz del Departamento de Estado, Sean McCormack, dijo a periodistas: "Estados Unidos claramente valora las vidas inocentes. Y es por eso que estamos llevando a cabo la guerra contra el terrorismo". Mientras tanto, funcionarios pakistaníes dijeron el martes que el ataque mató a cinco personas sospechosas de ser militantes.

Senador suizo dice que evidencia confirma traslados de la CIA en Europa
En Europa, un Senador suizo dijo que ya no cabe duda de que la CIA llevó a cabo actividades ilegales en Europa, al trasladar y encarcelar secretamente a sospechosos de terrorismo. El funcionario, Dick Marty, está dirigiendo una investigación europea sobre acusaciones de que la CIA manejaba prisiones secretas en Polonia y Rumania. Marty también dijo que la culpa era de todas las naciones europeas que ayudaron a Estados Unidos a llevar a cabo sus operaciones secretas. El Senador Suizo Dick Marty dijo: "Me gustaría que quedara claro que el problema no es sólo de Rumania y Polonia. Sería demasiado fácil criminalizar a estos dos países. Creo que la responsabilidad es de toda Europa, que aceptó permanecer en silencio, porque si es cierto que algo pasó en Rumania y Polonia, también paso algo en muchos otros países, y muchos de ellos ciertamente sabían lo que estaba sucediendo. Y para mi, en una situación así, saber y quedarse callado es tan malo como tolerar que este tipo de actividades sean llevadas a cabo en su territorio". La semana pasada, un periódico suizo publicó el contenido de un memorando egipcio interceptado sobre los centros de interrogatorio de Estados Unidos en Europa del Este y los Balcanes. El memorando había sido enviado por fax desde el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Egipto a la embajada egipcia en Londres. Pero había sido interceptado por el servicio secreto suizo y luego entregado a la prensa.

Gobierno de Bush demandado por espionaje telefónico de la NSA
En Estados Unidos, el Centro para los Derechos Constitucionales y la Unión Estadounidense por las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés) están presentando hoy demandas por separado para impugnar la orden del Presidente Bush de que la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) lleve a cabo operaciones de espionaje a nivel nacional sin las ordenes judiciales que exige la ley.

Al Gore: Bush violó la ley "de forma reiterada y persistente"
El lunes, el ex Vicepresidente Al Gore pronunció un importante discurso en Washington en el que acusó a Bush de violar la ley "de forma reiterada y persistente" al autorizar las intervenciones telefónicas de la NSA. Gore pidió al Fiscal General Alberto Gonzales que designe un fiscal especial para investigar estas violaciones. Gore dijo que el programa ilegal de espionaje de Bush puso en peligró "la propia estructura de nuestro gobierno".

Comisión del gobierno finaliza investigación sobre asesinato de Menezes
En Gran Bretaña, una comisión del gobierno finalizó la investigación sobre el asesinato por parte de la policía de Jean Charles De Menezes. La policía británica mató a balazos a Menezes, de nacionalidad brasileña, en una estación de trenes subterráneos de Londres, un día después de un atentado fallido con bombas en el sistema de trenes subterráneos británico en julio. En un principio la policía dijo que creía que Menezes era un bombardero suicida. La policía afirmó que Menezes intentó escaparse y que tenía puesta una campera abultada. Pero desde entonces, se reveló que Menezes era inocente y que la policía mintió sobre las circunstancias de su muerte. El jueves, la familia de Menezes pidió justicia.
Alex Pereira, primo de Jean Charles De Menezes, dijo: "Es muy simple, si haces algo bueno no tienes que mentir u ocultar nada; ellos mintieron y ocultaron cosas, y la explicación es que fue un asesinato, ellos (de Menezes) fueron asesinados. ¿Por qué tengo que mentir si hice bien mi trabajo? Creo que es así de simple".

Maria: From Democracy Now!, here are nine headlines. Democracy Now! provides daily headlines in English and in Spanish, text and audio. Peace.

Second Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration Opens Today
The second gathering of the International Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration will begin today in New York. The commission will look into a series of charges the Bush administration has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The indictments were drafted at the first commission held in October. Those scheduled to testify before the commission include the former head of Abu Ghraib, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray; the entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte, and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter.

Leading Iraqi, US Muslims Call For Jill Carroll's Release
Leading Iraqi and American Muslims have echoed the calls of family members and colleagues of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll to plead for her safe release. Carroll, a 28-year old freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor in Iraq, was kidnapped in Baghdad earlier this month. Members of the Muslim-American advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations are traveling to Iraq to attempt to win Carroll’s release. Meanwhile, Muthanna Harith al-Dhari, a prominent figure in the leading Iraqi Sunni group the Muslim Scholars Association, said: "All kidnappings and assassinations are completely rejected... especially when kidnapping a journalist. Journalists are here to tell the world about the occupation so kidnapping a journalist is going to hide the truth.” Al-Dhari continued: "This journalist, Jill Carroll... is one of the great journalists who are against the occupation. She is considered one of the best journalists who stood against the American occupation of Iraq and she focused in her articles on... telling the world about the Iraqi people’s suffering."

Freed Iraqi Journalists Describe Ordeal US Custody
In other Iraq news, the two Iraqi journalists who were freed this week after being held by the US military without charge for over four months have come forward to describe their ordeal.
Reuters journalist Majed Hameed : "The US forces raided the house, my house on August 8 (2005) and found a camera with which I filmed clashes in Ramadi that erupted in the city from noon until evening. [I filmed] with my camera very simple shots of the US forces attacking Haj Maqbulaa mosque, and one of the houses, with broken glass scattered on the floor. They raided my house and saw these things, I replied it is only clashes and after that they immediately collected my cameras, communication devices, computer and then they arrested me." Hameed was freed this week from US custody along with Reuters camera operator Ali al-Mashhadani, who was arrested in August. The two were held at the US-run prisons at Abu Ghraib prison and Camp Bucca. At least three other Iraqi journalists working for the international media remain in US custody.

HRW Says Bush Foreign Policy Undermining Human Rights
Here in the United States, Human Rights Watch released its annual report Wednesday. The report includes a scathing critique of the Bush administration, accusing it of undermining human rights around the world by the way its waging the so-called war on terror. The group also called on Congress to set up an independent panel to investigate U.S. human rights abuses.
Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth : "I'm sorry to report that the global defense of human rights has been profoundly compromised by the Bush administration's policy level decisions to flout some of the most basic human rights norms out of a misguided sense that is the best way to fight against terrorism. It's long been understood that the Bush administration's torture and inhumane treatment could not be blamed on a handful of low level soldiers on the night shift. At minimum, we understand until now, that policy decisions taken at the top had created an atmosphere of tolerance for abuse. And among those policy decisions that one could cite would be, for example, is the Bush Administration's ripping of the Geneva Convention with respect to Guantanamo, its extraordinarily narrow definition of torture to the point that most forms of abuse are not considered torture."

US Refuses to Apologize For CIA Bombing in Pakistan
In other news, the US government has refused to express regret over last week’s CIA bombing in Pakistan. The attack killed a reported 17 people, including women and children. The U.S. has said little about the bombing but it is believed to have been carried out by a CIA Predator drone. On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack told reporters only: "The United States clearly values innocent human life. And that is why we're fighting the war on terror." Meanwhile, Pakistani officials said Tuesday the strike had killed up to 5 suspected militants.

Swiss Senator Says Evidence Confirms CIA Renditions in Europe
In Europe, a Swiss Senator has said there is no longer any question that the CIA undertook in illegal activities in Europe by secretly transporting and jailing suspected terrorists. The official -- Dick Marty -- is heading up a European investigation into allegations that the CIA operated secret prisons in Poland and Romania. He also said blame has to be placed on all European nations who have helped the U.S. carry out its covert operations.
Swiss Senator Dick Marty : "I'd like it to be clear that the problem does not only concern Rumania and Poland. It would be too simple to criminalize these two countries. I think it's to whole of Europe that accepted to keep quiet, because if it's true that something happened in Rumania and Poland, something also happened in many other countries, and many of them were certainly aware of what was going on. And to me, in such a situation, knowing and keeping quiet is as bad as tolerating that such activities be led on its territory." Last week a Swiss newspaper published the text of an intercepted Egyptian memo about U.S. interrogation centers in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The memo had been faxed from the Egyptian foreign ministry to the Egyptian embassy in London. But it had been intercepted by the Swiss secret service and then leaked to the press.

Bush Administration Sued Over NSA Wiretaps
Here in this country, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union are filing separate lawsuits today challenging President Bush's order for the National Security Agency to conduct domestic spy operations without legally required court warrants.

Al Gore: Bush "Repeatedly and Persistently" Broke Law
On Monday, former Vice President Al Gore gave a major speech in Washington accusing Bush of "repeatedly and persistently" breaking the law by authorizing the NSA wiretaps. Gore called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the abuses. Gore said Bush's illegal spying program threatened "the very structure of our government."

Gov. Commission Completes Inquiry Into Menezes Shooting
In Britain, a government commission has completed its inquiry into the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Menezes, a native of Brazil, was shot dead by British police in a London subway station one day after an attempted bomb attack on the British subway system in July. At first, British police said they believed Menezes was a suicide bomber. They claimed he had run from police and was wearing a bulky jacket. But since then it has been revealed that he was innocent and that police lied about the circumstances of his death. On Thursday, Menezes’ family appealed for justice.
Alex Pereira, the cousin of Jean Charles De Menezes : "It is very simple, if you do something good you don't need to lie or hide; they lie they hide, and the explanation is that it was an assassination, they (de Menezes) were murdered. Why do I have to lie if I have done a good job? I think it's that simple."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Democracy Now: Micah Garen; BuzzFlash, NOW, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Bush Commission

From the Feminist Wire:

More Senators Announce Opposition to Alito

More Senators have announced their opposition to Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. Encouragingly, no additional Democrats have announced support for Alito since Ben Nelson (NE). Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Democratic Whip, announced his opposition to a packed auditorium at Northwestern University School of Law. "In the record, the writings, the words, and the life of Samuel Alito, I searched for evidence of his caring heart -- evidence that for the next two or three decades he would use his position on the Supreme Court to enlarge our freedom, protect our privacy, and respect the delicate balance of power and responsibility our Constitution creates," said Senator Durbin. "At the end of the day, at this historic moment, I cannot say with confidence that Samuel Alito meets that test."

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), in announcing his opposition, said, "Based on his record, I am gravely concerned that Judge Alito does not believe the Congress has the authority to protect the fundamental rights of all Americans."

Other Senators who have announced publicly their opposition to Alito include Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (the Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (the only woman on the Judiciary Committee), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and Max Baucus (D-MT). Senators Leahy, Baucus, and Salazar all voted for John Roberts in September.

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

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: Harkin statement 1/19/06; Durbin statement 1/19/06; Feminist Majority
This is a do-able if we stay focused. Susan sent the above in and said everyone should "Keep fighting and keep the hope."
Currently airing on some stations:

Pacifica is airing a special broadcast of the John Conyers' (Dem. MI) hearings on the surveillance of US citizens
11:00 AM WBAI (airing now)
KPFK (starts at eleven a.m., Pacific Time)
KPFA starts at noon (Pacific time)

These are the John Conyers hearings into the NSA/Bully Boy spying. Remember you can listen online and that includes at the main page for Pacifica.

Will you get it live on NPR? Stop! You're making me laugh. (And if you listen to a Pacifica station that's not noted, my apologies, but I'm going by the e-mails that have come in. And KPFA listeners asked that it be noted Larry Bensky was anchoring the coverage.)

Nepalese Monarchy Cracks Down Opposition Ahead of Rally
In Nepal, authorities have carried out a broad crackdown against opponents of the royalist government. On Thursday, dozens of activists and politicians were arrested and phone lines cut off in advance of a banned rally against King Gyanendra in the capitol of Kathmandu. The rally, organized by a coalition of the country's seven main political parties, was to demand the restoration of democracy to the country nearly one year after the king seized complete control last February. Protests against the monarchy have been growing in strength. Last week, close to 100,000 people demonstrated in the southeastern town of Janakpur.

ACLU Files Lawsuits Over Police Measures At Bush Inauguration
In Washington, D.C., the American Civil Liberties Union has filed three lawsuits against the district over police tactics during last year's presidential inauguration. The ACLU alleges D.C. police made several false arrests and indiscriminately used pepper spray against people protesting the inauguration of President Bush. Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the D.C. branch of the ACLU, said: "People who come to the nation's Capital to demonstrate, or to observe major public events, are supposed to be protected by the police, not be assaulted and arrested. "Soaking people with pepper spray is not a game as the D.C. police seem to have treated it on Inauguration Day last year."

Second Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration Opens Today
The second gathering of the International Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration will begin today in New York. The commission will look into a series of charges the Bush administration has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The indictments were drafted at the first commission held in October. Those scheduled to testify before the commission include the former head of Abu Ghraib, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray; the entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte, and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter.

The three items above are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Heath, Ned and Lynda. (And we'll have more on the Bush Commission in this entry.) Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for January 20, 2006

- Bin Laden Threatens US, Hints At Truce in New Message
- White House Dismisses Idea of Truce With Bin Laden

- Suicide Bomber Wounds 30 in Tel Aviv
- Police Seal Major Iraq Cities, Attack Kills 22
- Nepalese Monarchy Cracks Down on Opposition
- Gov. Commission Completes Inquiry Into Menezes Shooting
- Oklahoma Accomplice Fortier To Be Released From Prison
- 2 Workers Trapped in West Va. Coal Mine Fire
- ACLU Files Lawsuits Over Inauguration Police Measures
- Second Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity
Committed by the Bush Administration Opens Today

Muslim Leaders in Iraq Call for Release of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Jill Carroll as Deadline Set by Captors Expires

Nearly two weeks have passed since 28-year-old freelance journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped on the streets of Baghdad. Her family has been pleading for her safety while calls for her release come from throughout the Muslim and Arabic world. A deadline set by her captors expires today. We speak Ayman Safadi, editor-in-chief of Jordan's Al Ghad newspaper, who once worked with Carroll. [includes rush transcript]

American Hostage: As Jill Carroll Remains Captive in Iraq, Another Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Talks About the Remarkable Battle That Won His Release

As kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll remains in captivity in Iraq, we hear the story of another American who was kidnapped in Iraq - Micah Garen. He was held for 10 days in August 2004 before being released. Garen recently published a book about his experience with his partner, Marie-Helene Carleton, who helped secure his release. It's titled "American Hostage: A Memoir of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq and the Remarkable Battle to Win His Release."

We'll start the highlights with BuzzFlash and "Sam Alito and the End of Constitutional Checks and Balances: The Senate Dems are About to Hang Themselves:"

Shortly after the "Supreme Court Partisan Five" stole the election for Bush in 2000, Tom Daschle struck a deal with the Texas transition team.
The deal went something like this: the Democrats in the Senate would not contest Bush's selection by the Supreme Court as President of the United States and they wouldn't filibuster his cabinet appointments. In return, the Democrats would get the right to weigh in on Supreme Court appointments and contest any that they thought were too extreme.
Daschle went on (and we remember this well, because BuzzFlash took him to task in numerous editorials) to praise Bush and his cabinet selections with such zealousness, it was revolting. BuzzFlash particularly documented Daschle's homepage in early 2001 that discussed how proud he was to attend the inauguration of the wonderful President Bush, and Daschle bragged about how he regularly consulted with Bush.
But Daschle, his staff whispered, was just playing a two-sided game. He was shoring up his support in ultra-red state South Dakota, but assuring Democrats that the Maginot Line of compromise would be the Supreme Court.
As part of the deal, Daschle didn't even force a filibuster on the Ashcroft nomination. Up until the moment of the Ashcroft confirmation vote, Daschle said he didn't know how many Dem Senators would vote against the controversial appointment, even though he was Democratic leader. Heck, even Russell Feingold voted for Ashcroft in the Judiciary Committee, saying that he took Ashcroft at his word in the hearings that he would uphold the laws of Congress and the Constitution.
So Ashcroft became Attorney General, and we were told that the Dems would hold the line at the Supreme Court. And then vote after vote, we were told, the Dems would hold their powder until a Supreme Court nominee came up.
And then one Supreme Court nominee came up, and the Dems held their powder. And then another Supreme Court nominee came up, Sam Alito, who threatens the very viability of Congress, and the Dems are going to hold their powder again.
Daschle is long gone, the victim of unrelenting Republican attacks in the 2004 election, including a dirty tricks web operation by the infamous Jeff Gannon. He finally fell off his tightrope act that saw him running to be in photos with Bush and then running back to the Senate to criticize the White House, and then running to apologize for his criticism.

Tom noted that and wanted to note a BuzzFlash premium as well, Danny Schechter's The Death of Media: And the Fight to Save Democracy. ($14.50) Tom also added that BuzzFlash editorials should replace the ones the New York Times runs.

I'll note that in a world of commentary on Alito (well, maybe not a world, members have complained that there's been little commentary post-hearings), BuzzFlash is one of the few that members have highlighted who called Dianne Feinstein out. I have no idea (to answer the most asked question in e-mails this week) why Feinstein got a pass but she didn't from BuzzFlash.

And she's not getting a pass from voters. Today, at her San Francisco office, eleven this morning, there will be a protest demanding that she back a filibuster on Alito. (That's at One Post Street, Suite 2450.)

There will be a gina & krista round-robin Saturday and Sunday. Gina and Krista are doing this every day through the 24th. The action that everyone is pouring into this effort (not just people in our community) is demonstrating that we're not going to take pats on the heads and "We know best." I think this summer (the summer of protest) we saw the spirit leading up to the 2004 election come back to life.

Sam notes a "strong article," Elizabeth Schulte's "Abortion Before Roe" (CounterPunch):

Part of the right wing's offensive on abortion has been ideological--to shift the terms of the debate to where abortion is once again considered shameful.
"That's the purpose of a lot of anti-abortion tactics--to make it shameful, so that even when it's legal, many women who are obtaining abortions are getting them in conditions where they feel extremely isolated and ashamed, and don't even know there is a long history of women like them, of every religion, every social background, getting abortions," [Leslie] Reagan said.
Meanwhile, the party that has traditionally said it stood for abortion rights--the Democrats--wants nothing to do with a real fight to defend a women's right to choose.
The job of turning back the political climate--in favor of women's right to choose what they do with their bodies, without apology--falls on our shoulders. The stories of life before legalized abortion--and the struggle that made it the law of the land--have to be told.
That's how we can begin to turn the table on the anti-abortion lies, and build the movement we need to defend abortion rights.

Same topic, Nicole notes the latest from NOW. In full, here's NOW's "NOW Urges Senate Filibuster of Alito Nomination:"

January 19, 2006
National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy today sent a letter to senators of both parties who have held themselves out as supporters of women's rights, reminding them of the danger posed by Judge Samuel Alito and asking them to wage a filibuster in opposition to his nomination.
Considering Senate Republicans' consistent record of voting in lock-step for Bush's judicial nominees, Alito likely has all 55 of those votes sewn up, but we continue to hold out hope for a rare glimpse of independence. Nonetheless, that places the responsibility for protecting women's rights squarely on the Democrats, who must rise to the occasion and use their prerogative to require sixty votes--the filibuster.
"Yes, we all know the numbers, and the reality of the imbalance of power," Gandy wrote. "But the lives, hopes, and futures of our girls and women, our hard-working families, our seniors, our children, our neighbors who face physical, mental and economic challenges, depend on you."
Gandy reminded senators of Alito's reversal of the Family and Medical Leave Act, his refusal to hold a school responsible for sexual harassment, and his memorandum mapping out the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
"Your commitment to women's rights is hollow if you will not fight to preserve them," Gandy wrote to senators. "NOW, with our legions of everyday supporters who are the 'foot soldiers' in our fight to protect our democracy and basic rights, finds just about ALL of Judge Alito's record, writings, decisions and remarks 'unsettling.' We believe that this nomination and its threat to privacy and autonomy and decency and respect for all of us is cause for a declaration of 'extraordinary circumstances' and a Senate filibuster."
The Supreme Court's opinion in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England gives women's rights supporters even greater reason to believe that Samuel Alito is the wrong justice for a court whose mission is to preserve fundamental constitutional rights and liberties.
Gandy responded to that decision: "Yesterday the Supreme Court sidestepped a substantive decision in Ayotte, yet we know that the issue of abortion exceptions to preserve the woman's health will come back to the Court. If Samuel Alito is on that Court, we have every reason to believe that he will tip the balance against clear protection for our lives and health. The looming threat of this confirmation is terrifying."

Get active. Stay active. Work your own circles of friends and family this weekend.

Bonita steers us to Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Toward a Sensible Immigration Policy" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

A new report by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy attempts to turn the conversation on its head with a well-documented report arguing that protecting immigrants' rights in the workplace benefits all middle-class and aspiring middle-class Americans.
Drawing on a broad range of empirical studies and economic analyses, the report makes the case that it is not undocumented immigrants' presence in the US labor market that harms American workers, but rather it is the immigrants' disempowerment in the workplace, stemming from employers' ability to threaten deportation, that is a danger to US workers. "When immigrants lack rights in the workplace," the report contends, "labor standards are driven down, and all working people have less opportunity to enter or remain part of the middle class. So a pro-middle class immigration policy must guarantee immigrants full labor rights and make sure that employers cannot use deportation as a coercive tool in the labor market" to drive down the wages of all workers.

Finally . . . Bush Commission? Starting this evening in NYC. As Ruth noted last week:

The Bush Commission . . . will be holding a tribunal in New York City from January twentieth to the twenty-third. The first day of the hearing will take place at The Riverside Church on 123 Riverside Drive and will begin at 5:00 pm. The second day will take place at the same location and begin at 10:00 am. The final day, Sunday, the hearings will move to the Law School at Columbia University and will begin at 1:00 pm. More information can be found online at Bush Commission and also by calling (212) 941- 8086. Also at the Bush Commission website, you can find information on the October 2005 hearings including audio and videos you can watch online as well as text excerpts.

The e-mail address for this site is

Other Items

Dozens of lawyers around the country joined forces on Thursday to protest the Department of Homeland Security's decision to continue deporting illegal immigrants to Haiti, an island nation plagued by political instability, violence and human rights violations.
The United Nations says it has documented widespread cases of unlawful arrests and has received credible reports of police involvement in executions and banditry. The State Department says more than 25 Americans were kidnapped in Haiti last year, and local authorities say that over Christmas, kidnappings peaked to as many as 12 a day. Travel is so hazardous in Port-au-Prince, the capital, that American Embassy personnel have been barred from leaving their homes at night. More than 10 United Nations soldiers have been killed, officials say.
The lawyers want immigration judges to close the deportation cases until the situation in Haiti improves. Several lawyers said the legal strategy might not succeed on a broad scale because judges typically require assent from the government's lawyers before closing a case. But advocates for Haitian immigrants said they were trying to send the Bush administration a message and hoped that some judges would take action, even if it meant simply delaying decisions in deportation cases until Haiti stabilizes.
"I don't think it makes sense for the United States to send people back to a country where such devastating human rights violations are occurring," said Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project in Boston. "Those Haitian deportees face grave risk to their lives, and that's not acceptable."

The above is from Rachel L. Swarns' "Lawyers Protest Deportation of Illegal Immigrants to Haiti" in this morning's New York Times and that's about all judging by the e-mails. (I'm assuming everyone was as unimpressed with the "news" that the Bully Boy said Laura Bush would run for the Senate "never" as I am.)

Cindy notes Harvey Wasserman's "Are You Ready to Be Bugged and Tortured By George W. Bush?" (Common Dreams):

It's not really terrorists George W. Bush wants to bug and torture. It's YOU.
It's not really terrorism he wants to fight. It's opposition from people he can't control.
It's not really US security he wants to protect. It's the power of his regime.
The Constitutional debate about whether these executive privileges are allowable in war is a smoke screen.
This isn't about war: It's about dictatorship. It’s about making power permanent by using private information against you, and by terrifying you with torture.
Team Bush believes it rules by Divine right. It has already re-defined "terrorist" to mean anyone who questions its power. It will use "anti-terrorist" wiretapping as a tool against anyone who dares oppose it.

Neil passes on this e-mail he received:

We have gotten many emails from our participants, asking "what more can we do?".
Some have reported senators arbitrarily turning off their answering machines at night, or long waits on hold. Are they trying to hide from the thousands and thousands of their constituents who are raising their voices to demand that our filibuster the evasive Alito. Even if you have already sent your personal message by email or made some phone calls, we have added a FABULOUS extra function to the main action page where you can instantly lookup all your senators local district offices phone and fax numbers with just one click.
If the other side can have a so-called "Justice Sunday", we can have our own "Filibuster Friday", and that day is tomorrow. In just the last 24 hours we have seen a major shift in momentum. Today, Senator Leahy came out with a very strong statement that he recognizes the immense threat to our freedom and democracy in allowing a dangerous and unpopular president to install a fifth and controlling vote to hold that our Constitution actually intended to create an executive dictatorship. . . . . we need to show our support for those senators who are starting to stand up now by hitting every phone they've got right down to the district level with our phone calls and faxes. Get all your numbers with one easy click at
Those you who like to call in to progressive radio programs, we have all their call in numbers too at the site above in the right column. Call them and ask them to talk up Filibuster Friday all day and night long! Let's start early and snowball the thing all day long. Ask them to give out the easy to say and remember URL above as much as possible. Senators have said they are "undecided" on a filibuster. But we the American people HAVE decided and all they have to do it get it.
Some senators who are too still too cowardly to demand a filibuster are saying they will make Alito an issue in the 2006 election. It'll be an issue alright, in their OWN primaries! Any officeholder who will not stand up for this one never hold public office in any capacity ever again. And the difference is whether you will stand up YOURSELF right now and make those calls to their local district offices. Make calls to the toll-free numbers 888-355-3588, 888-818-6641 and 800-426-8073 if you can get through there too. It is not enough to vote "No." They must vote "Hell, NO!" It's called a filibuster. Filibuster Friday.
Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.
If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at

Momentum is starting to build. Use the above or anything in this morning's gina & krista round-robin (should be in your inboxes now) but let's hit hard today and make sure our senators know we oppose Alito. Let's make them consider the consequences of their vote all weekend. We were told at the start of the week (and also yesterday in the Times) that this was a 'done deal.' Everyone's accomplished a great deal already but let's really push hard today.

Markus notes Tom Hayden's "Pacifying Iraq: Insurgent Scenarios" (The Nation):

AMMAN, JORDAN--Iraq's armed national resistance is willing to support an honorable American troop withdrawal and recognize "the interests of the US as a superpower," according to a Baghdad source with intimate knowledge of the insurgents. He was interviewed this week in Amman, where he had driven twenty hours from Baghdad for conversations.
I interviewed this source, who insisted on anonymity, to explore the political aims of the resistance movement against the US occupation. Is theirs only a decentralized military strategy, or is there a shared set of demands that might lead to peace? The source, who is known and respected by several American media outlets, comes from one of Baghdad's once-mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians. In his mid-40s, he ekes out a living as a guide and translator for visiting reporters and occasional peace activists. The source spoke with urgency about the need for greater American understanding of the Iraqi resistance, so far faceless in the West.
While recent surveys show 80 percent of Iraqis supporting a US military withdrawal, opposition voices are rarely ever reported in American public discourse. Security conditions do not permit the insurgents to establish an overt political arm, like Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, American officials celebrate the large Iraqi voter turnout in the December 15 elections while not acknowledging that most of those same voters favor a US withdrawal. Instead of heeding the Iraqi majority, Newsweek reported that American military officials accused the insurgents of "cynically using the election process" in a new strategy they called"talk and fight."

Don't forget to check out Democracy Now! today.

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