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January 26, 2006

Pick up the phone. Now.
Posted by Patrick at 05:16 PM * 106 comments

I can barely believe that John Kerry, of all people, is issuing a last-minute call for a filibuster of the Alito nomination, but this appears to be the case.

I’m not interested in arguing about Kerry’s timing, or his motives, or anything to do with the 2008 Presidental race. I’m not interested in arguing about Roe v Wade. I’m interested in one thing, which is that we appear to be about to put a guy onto the Supreme Court who thinks the President of the United States should have dictatorial powers whenever he or she wants to exercise them. If that doesn’t alarm you, you’re dead.

A good hint to Senate Democrats (plus Jim Jeffords, and the sad remaining rump of ha ha “moderate” Republicans like Snowe and Chafee) would be that when the New York “Conventional Wisdom ‘R’ Us” Times writes:

A filibuster is a radical tool. It’s easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

—you have to think, maybe it’s time to get off the pot. Phone your Senators. Urge them to support this filibuster. It probably won’t work, but how much trouble is two damn phone calls? Lose well today to win tomorrow. Pick up the phone now.

Comments on Pick up the phone. Now.:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:43 PM:

I just called the office of New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman. The person I talked to said he had not heard of a filibuster, which is when I mentioned Kerry's efforts. I said that I hoped Bingaman would support a filibuster and that I had no wish to see someone like Alito on the Supreme Court.

At least now Bingaman knows what some of his constituents feel and that, if he supports a filibuster, we will support him for it and that he won't get his head chopped up for showing some spine.

You know, this felt kind of good. I should do this more often. Oh, and as for my other senator, hell, Pete Domenici is a Republican.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:43 PM:

I've bombarded them with e-mail. Major point: the separation of powers and the wiretaps. About ten times in the last three weeks. Since it's Boxer and DiFi, it isn't hopeless, but I'd really like them to hold to this instead of folding again.

#3 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:47 PM:

So if, in two years, Alito isn't as extreme as you and others have made him out to be are you willing to issue a public apology for such extreme rhetoric?

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Everyone should always be asking themselves whether events have borne out their views. This is a given. You don't get any special promises.

#5 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Fair enough. I think that Alito isn't going to end up as far to the right as left is fearing and the right is hoping.

#6 ::: So-Called "Austin Mayor" ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 05:59 PM:

The link to the .gov site listing Senate phone numbers is down -- coincidence?

#7 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 06:06 PM:

Alito has already done damage to the republic, there's no way a lickspittle like him should be on the Supreme Court, and I doubt very seriously I'll ever change my views on that. Thanks for your post, Patrick.

#8 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Write to Harry Reid, too. I've written to him, Akaka, Inouye, and Howard Dean. The gist of what I said was this:

Judge Alito defers entirely too much to the executive branch. His strict constructionism seems to be selective: he has forgotten (wilfully?) that there are three co-equal branches of government in the United States.

#9 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 06:22 PM:

I live in PA. Which means my senators are Specter and Santorum.

...should I even try?

#10 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 06:25 PM:

cap: Yes. Can't hurt.

#11 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:14 PM:

cap, Specter is pro-choice. You might suggest that while Specter may trust Alito when he says Roe v. Wade is protected by stare decisis, you don't.

#12 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:27 PM:

What about all those people who said that the Schmuck wasn't going to do all the Christian-Dominionist-pandering things he's been doing?!

He's lied about all sorts of things--lied about what he would do regarding environmental protection, lied about warrantless domestic surveillance of US citizens, is obstructing justice in all sorts of different ways blocking Freedom of Information requests, blocking Congress b/y f/a/t/w/a by Presidential Directive or some such from getting at the FBI records regarding James Bulger, crimelorder, murderer, and apparently blackmailer of J. Edgar Hoover whom the FBI essentially gave a license to freely murder and frame other people innocent of those murders when the FBI knew that Bulger was involved in the murders...

Anyway, there were all those people saying that Schmuck was not the caricature painted by those opposed to him.... No, he's not that caricature, he's even WORSE than most of the doom-and-gloom-forecasters-if-Schmuck-got-in forecast.... nobody was seriously expecting that he would institute Stasi tactics of warrantless wiretaps and spying on US citizens organizing peaceful protests violating their religious beliefs (Quaker meetings, for example), and authorizing operations secretly arresting people in the middle of the night and whisking them off in restraints to Asia, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, and blocking all information from the public or even relatives, of people kidnapped by the US Government in the USA who were legally in the USA and held without acknowledgement by the US Government....

Schmuck is a fascist, and so is his choice Alito. Note the strawwoman created using Harriet Miers to confuse the situation, to generate a nomination of someone whom the rightwing would kick down so that the chosen extremist white Christian supremacist Constitution-spiting annointee candidate could then replace, with the opposition put into disarray and lost momentum for having first had to concentrate on someone that the fascists were proposing with the agenda of putting in their stealth real candidate afterwards, and the momentum of the opposition having been gotten together regarding Miers, remove her and pop in Alito, the bigot... he belonged to a misogynist, white supremacist organization as a student at Yale, at a time when such organizations at colleges were far from the mainstream rightwing bigot refuges, and claims he has no memory of it... ha, ha, ha. His memory is just as "bad" as Billy Bulger's when he kept saying "I don't remember" when grilled by Congress about his homicidal brother James....

Alito has a record, it's a record of meanspiritedness, of bigotry, of fascism, of stomping on civil rights of citizens, of rewarding rich white men's greed....


"August 24, 2004
"'We Could Control This Country': 33 Extreme Reasons to Give Bush the Boot

"by Maureen Farrell

""I am deeply disturbed by the dangerous and growing influence of people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on our nation’s political leaders." – Walter Cronkite, January, 2004


"3. John Ashcroft: A former member of the Council for National Policy, John Aschroft was initially considered an extreme choice for Attorney General, but the folks at Prophecy Central rallied behind him, as did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who reportedly anointed the America’s Attorney General with cooking oil, in the manner of King David....

"33. Values Action Team: Formed in 1998 and operating out of Tom DeLay’s office, the Values Action Team reportedly funnels concerns of like-minded Christian conservatives into Capital Hill. As Sojourner Magazine explained, The Values Action Team gives Dr. James Dobson’s "Focus on the Family" and "30 or so other Religious Right member organizations a direct lobbying line to the U.S. Congress."..."

"Is Bush the Antichrist?
"The Christian right and the Christian left are engaged in a debate over who 'owns' Jesus—and whether Dubya is a force for good or evil.
"By Tim Appelo

"When President George W. Bush was appointed by five Supreme Court justices in 2000, right-wing Christians sang hosannas for the triumph of God's will over the electorate's. "President Bush is God's man at this hour," said Tim Goeglein, Bush's liaison to evangelicals. Though the Methodist president dishonestly conceals the whole truth about his apocalyptic religious beliefs, he has acted as an evangelist in office. As Esther Kaplan demonstrates in With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House, he's doled out millions to far-right Christian groups, systematically crushed secular left and nonright mainstream organizations from Head Start to the Audubon Society, and replaced policy and scientific experts with comically ignorant yet politically cunning fanatic provocateurs. Out with the American Medical Association, in with the American Family Association. Before Bush, the Internal Revenue Service hounded the Christian Coalition; now that Bush is, in extremist Gary Bauer's opinion, the de facto leader of the Christian Coalition, the government selectively harasses non-Christian groups, and a rightist apparatchik tried to sneak through Congress a bill legitimizing the kinds of politically targeted IRS abuses that would have made Richard M. Nixon proud...."

#13 ::: JDRhoades ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:29 PM:

They should filibuster, but they should make it clear, as they miserably failed to do in the preliminary hearings, that Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton isn't an's the Presidential power thing, followed by the Roe v. Wade thing.

Unfortunately, my Senators are Dole and Burr...but I'm e-mailing them anyway.

#14 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:45 PM:

I called DiFi's office 3 days ago, telling her that as her constituent, I wanted her to support a filibuster. The bored staffer did not seem happy with the message. I haven't bothered to call Barbara Boxer because I think she's in "our" camp -- I think she'd support a filibuster w/o a qualm. I also called and e-mailed Reid's office.

I don't think it's going to happen. And I hope -- I really do -- that those who don't think Alito is as bad as I think he is are right, and I am wrong.

Heard snippets of Bush's press conference this morning. He does not believe in checks and balances; hell, I don't think he believes that Congress makes the laws and the job of the Executive is to, well, execute. I think he believes the POTUS gets to do it all and run the military, too.

If you live in a district where any Democrat is challenging any Republican, find a way to support her or him: money, time, whatever.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:57 PM:

Following on Cap: my senators are Isakson and Chambliss, should I bother?

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 07:58 PM:

I e-mailed and called DiFi's office. FWIW, it took several tries to get past the busy signal. I think the phones have been busier this afternoon than they ever expected!

Someone out there was going throught Jefferson's procedures manual for the House and found that state legislatures can send up impeachment motions. They apparently have precedence over normal business. Question is, can they be kept out of the rules committee?

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 08:01 PM:

Chris: Goodness, that was fast.

So if, in two years, Alito isn't as extreme as you and others have made him out to be are you willing to issue a public apology for such extreme rhetoric?
Sure -- if all the right-wingers who've been wildly, culpably, repeatedly, dunderheadedly wrong are willing to issue full public apologies. I'll happily wait in line behind 'em. Figure it'll take a while for my turn to come up.

Are you going to apologize if you're wrong? And by the way, do you have a last name?

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 08:05 PM:

Should we bother? Yes. All of us should bother. If our senators were already planning to support the filibuster, it'll show we support them. If they're wavering, we should definitely make our presence felt. And if they've already decided not to support the filibuster, let's make them feel uneasy about it.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 08:07 PM:

As I said on Senator Clinton's "leave an opinion about an issue" voicemail system, I'd just as soon we didn't crown King George.

#20 ::: A Alexander Stella ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 08:41 PM:

okay, let's say you'd like to learn about an actual political campaign to impeach the president ...

ah, none of this noise about a yearning for somebody to go do it ...

in addition, you'd like to learn about a game plan to snag Osama ...

if all the above meets with your approval, then click, somehow, on the following hyperlink:

and get ready for a ride on a wild blog

.he who is known as sefton

oh, yes, the above was copied and then pasted by an actual human being, who visited the "alicublog" blog.

#21 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 09:14 PM:

I typically agree with about 90% of the political discussions I read at this site. This thread falls into the 10% category - I just can't see how a filibuster at this stage helps the good guys.

If the Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee had done a decent job of framing the objection to Alito around a vital issue of principle - that the Constitution empowers a President, not a King - then possibly.

You'd likely have to carry 10 of the "Gang of 14" to have a decent shot - which I just don't see happening.

And say you could some how get 41/42 senators on board - what then? Priscilla Owen? Do we filibuster Bush 43 appointees for the next 3 years (because the next one after Alito is not going to be Lawrence Tribe)?

Or say the Gang of 14 fragments, nuclear option - which is cheating, you got it, but try telling that to Kyra Phillips or Katie Couric - a Senate snarl that poisons the Congressional well for years to come?

This is a target-rich time for the good guys - Abramoff drip-drip-drip, incompetence across the board, Medicare drug plan idiocy - so why try to play the poorest card in the hand?

Yes, none of us would have tapped Alito. Hell, GWB didn't first time around - and on balance, I'm not sure I'd have preferred Justice Miers. But not only do the Republicans have 55 senators, the Democratic senators just have not made a compelling enough case against him to make it stick. I don't like it, but then I didn't like the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election results. To stop the next Alito, we have to win in 2006, and win big. I just don't see that we get closer to doing so by going down this path.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

#22 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 09:23 PM:

oh, yes, the above was copied and then pasted by an actual human being, who visited the "alicublog" blog

Well, at least he took the time to see what blog he was visiting when he spammed me.

Really. How rude.

#23 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 09:25 PM:

Andrew --

You know that line about Rome fell, and found not the strength to rise again?

This about the Republic finding the strength to rise again. Thrice now have the votes not been counted, and Alito is meant to be the capstone on that, to make it good in law.

Sometimes you have to admit that the rules have been thrown out, the rulebook burnt, and all questions of calculation and advantage must be hurled away.

Sometimes it's time to stand in the shieldwall.

Usually, that means what you're doing is making it a bit easier for the next guy, come to clean up the mess; you aren't going to live through this. You may not have any good effect, and there will be none to sing your praises.

It's still time to stand, if there is is any courage or faith or truth in you at all.

This is that time.

Unto the least and last, unto the last nerve and sinew, until the rule of law is restored.

#24 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 09:51 PM:

Andrew writes: "I just can't see how a filibuster at this stage helps the good guys."

In other words, "How can we look less bad while losing?"

Andrew, I disagree with you. I say we look less bad losing when we go down swinging. If progressive Senators stand up and make passionate floor speeches about all the reasons we know Alito is an unacceptable nomination to the Supreme Court, and rank and file Democrats make a point of flooding the top-down media with demands that their points be covered widely and fairly, then progressives will be well positioned for nationalizing the Congressional campaigns later this year.

And who knows? They might even be able to sustain a filibuster without the GOP having the stones to pull the trigger on the so-called "nuclear" option.

#25 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 10:05 PM:

That link for senate phone numbers isn't working. This works--I hope the numbers are accurate.

#26 ::: Shawn M Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Just e-mailed both of my Sentaors (Clinton and Schumer.) I'd like to think that both are already willing to support a filibuster, but the e-mails can't hurt.

#27 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Kerry confirmed it at Daily Kos:

I said yesterday that President Bush had the opportunity to nominate someone who would unite the country in a time of extreme division. He chose not to do this, and that is his right. But we have every right, in fact, we have a responsibility, to fight against a radical ideological shift on the Supreme Court. Just think about how this nomination came to be. Under fire from his conservative base for nominating Harriet Miers--a woman whose judicial philosophy they mercilessly attacked--President Bush broke to extreme right-wing demands.
This was a coup. ...
Here's the bottom line though and I'll just be blunt and direct about it. It takes more than one or two people to filibuster. It's not "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." I'm doing what I can, Senator Kennedy is doing what he can, but if, like me, you want to stop Judge Alito from becoming Justice Alito, we can't just preach to our own choir. We need even more of your advocacy.

I live in Utah, so I have Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett to call.

#28 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 10:51 PM:

When I call my junior senator's office, what do I say?

"Senator Kerry, please support Senator Kerry's call for a filibuster."?

#29 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Yep. Call your senator, no matter how hidebound, rockribbed a Republican he or she might be. Because in the end, if enough of their constituents aren't happy, they aren't employed. They know this.

If you think they'll support a filibuster, call them. They could use the support.

And even if your senator is John Kerry, call his office and tell whoever answers that he's doing the right thing.

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 11:22 PM:

The Dems on the Judiciary Committee, in general, did a lousy job focusing in on what, IMHO, should have been their core concern: Alito's position on Presidential power, in and out of war time. If they had done their jobs, the votes would probably have been the same but the country would know WHY they voted the way they did and what it might mean in the future. (That is, if anyone out there is still listening to anyone except Bill O'Reilly and his friends. No, okay, don't go there.)

So maybe they can do it now. Make speeches, give interviews, talk about Presidential power, the Unitary Executive theory, the rule of law, Presidential arrogance, etc. Forget Roe v. Wade. (I don't mean that it isn't important. But this issue is more important.) Draw the damn line in the damn sand. Take a stand. What Graydon said. There are times when you must look to principle, politics be damned.

#31 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 11:23 PM:

I feel so proud to be from Massachusetts right now. :)

#32 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Some years back, I remember reading something that said that for every person who takes the time and effort to contact a federal legislator, there are an estimated 10,000 who don't... those who make the calls and send the letters (and these days email) get to be the big pressure group. It's how the extremists who claim to be Christians have hijacked the Republic/Republican party, they put their effort and time and advocacy into their attitudes. When I worked at GTE Strategic Systems Division there was a church group that day after day, week after week, picketed the driveway up to the building. The Westboro Baptist Church faithful--most of them apaprently Fred Phelps' family--travel the USA bringing their noxious hatemongering signs and picketing schools, funerals, and whatever else hits their fancy carrying signs that say things like "Thank God for 9/11!" They regard that disastrous day as divine retribution for tolerance of homosexuality and other things they regard as social Evils.

I very strongly object to what Concerned Women of America spend their time and effort lobbying, but I have to admire their willingness to put their time and effort into their causes--I majorly objects to much of what they are promoting and their attitudes... people who work hard and patiently in causes which the goals of have been getting closer and closer... Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit in some ways, "patient in a patient cause" except for their advocacy that women shouldn't really be in charge of anything, they are defined as subordinate to the husband and master. The Bene Gesserit focused much more openly on politics and the Reverend Mothers excised overt political power.....

#33 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2006, 11:57 PM:

j h woodyat - you wrote
I say we look less bad losing when we go down swinging. If progressive Senators stand up and make passionate floor speeches about all the reasons we know Alito is an unacceptable nomination to the Supreme Court, and rank and file Democrats make a point of flooding the top-down media with demands that their points be covered widely and fairly...

Absolutely - have at it. Let's find our strongest point - this nomination is part of a pattern of reckless overreach of Presidential authority - and use it to build a case for a national election in 2006. By all means weave the Alito nomination into the thread of domestic spying, executive winking at torture, rampant cronyism, the capitulation of a weak Congress.

But the chance of a successful filibuster rested on a) a powerful hook which resonated with that part of the voting public paying attention before the hearings and b)a very strong showing by the Democratic senators in the Judiciary Committee. I just don't see either.

To use a poker metaphor, we started with an 8-4 offsuit, and haven't picked up anything all the way to the river. Every so often you go all in on a bluff, but this is just a sure way to lose a big stack.

With many of the key issues right now, we're in a much stronger position to make the case for change. A vicious battle over filibustering Alito is unlikely to prevail in the short term (I don't think we have the votes); I can't see it making us stronger in the medium term (Senate snarl and/or someone much nastier two months down the pike).

And in the long term, are we really willing to make the argument that you need 60 senators for any judicial nominee? I'd like to see a Democratic President and Senate in 2008, and I'd like to see some good judges appointed. If you think what happened to Clinton's judges in the 1990s was bad, wait until the Right has a filibustered Alito's bloody shirt to wave.

#34 ::: Terry Ott ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Independent, anti-Bush, split my time between a Red and Blue state; very much hoping the Democrats give me a reason to vote for them in upcoming elections.

Filibuster is a losing proposition.

Wanna turn Alito into a sympathetic figure? Stone him some more.

Wanna make Democrat party leaders look childish and petulent and have viewers critique their "encore performances" (Confirmation Hearings Redux)? Put the TV lights on them again.

Wanna burn up some more time being reactionary instead of devoting that effort to building a positive brand image for mid-term elections 2006? Yak yak yak ... right up to the elections.

Wanna put some more logs on the polarization fire, the one that keeps Rove and Co. warm at night when they deserve to be left out in the cold? Play their "in your face" game, which is one they always win at.

Wanna have people like me, seeking a good governance theme that speaks to solving problems and serving the general good, finally decide that a third party is the only way --- even if it is a pipe dream?

As a strategist, we saw Kerry in operation not so long ago. Now he has added that to his repetoire somehow, at this stage in his career? Sure....

Go ahead. Blow me off. I'm pretty much resigned to wandering in the wilderness anyway. Do the filibuster. It will be kind of a nostalgic thing as you fade off into the foggy night. I'll meet you at the Lost Cause Pub for a friendly drink and another round of complaining.

#35 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:08 AM:

Andrew writes: "...but this is just a sure way to lose a big stack."

What big stack?

Seriously. What big stack? This looks like a tablestakes game to me, and we are already all-in with no more re-buys. All we have to do is be smart enough not to fold our cards before the hand is all dealt out, and take our winnings or our lumps as they come. How easy is that?

#36 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:16 AM:

"Go ahead. Blow me off. I'm pretty much resigned to wandering in the wilderness anyway."

Don't sprain your shoulder with all that patting yourself on the back. I mean, really.

I'm with Graydon and J H Woodyatt. Sometimes you need to go down in glory. The argument Terry Ott puts forth has been tried and tried again and yielded nothing.

People respect bravery more than calculation. Okay, granted, I'm speaking as someone who has actually had social dealings with human beings. Your mileage may vary.

#37 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:19 AM:

Terry Ott writes: ...Wanna? ...Wanna? ...Wanna? ...

Not particularly. But I'd rather have all those things happen just the way you fear they would happen— a fear I don't share, and I find really quite comical, by the way— than see Alito confirmed, if there is a chance that his filibuster could be sustained.

Alito is the real deal. If the D's don't have the stones to keep him off the court, then they don't have the stones to do anything, and they might just as well pack up and go home. It would be capitulation to Grover Norquist's infamous characterization of them as animals.

"Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such."

Yeah. Now is a great time to just roll over and whimper... not.

#38 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:22 AM:

I'm deeply skeptical that anything I say or do can actually influence things even a little bit...but on the grounds that I won't know for sure until I try, I went ahead and e-mail Senators Murry and Cantwell.

#39 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:22 AM:

"No Truce with Kings" ....

Negotiating with rabid animals doesn't work. They bite, REGARDLESS of any attempts to reason with or be nice to them. The rightwing extremists don't let much get in their way, look what they did to McCain and Max Clelland, they'll slime and smear and bully and deprecate and slander and libel -anybody- who doesn't do things their way or comply with their line or who dares have an opinion not compliant to theirs. Now Schmuck claims that Abramoff is no associate of his, "politicians get their pictures taken /p/r/m/i/c/u/o/u/s/l/y with with everybody, just because there are all those pictures of Jack and George, doesn't mean George has ANY relationship with Jack or is even casually acquainted with him.

The Schmuck's a pathological liar--lied about his Guard service, lied about his "youthful indiscretions" of booze and narcotics, lied about "we get court warrants for wiretaps," lied about the outing of Valerie Plame/Wilson, lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction... he's a pathetic, contemptible willing tool of fascists, making Warren G. Harding look heroic....

And anybody he nominates for an appointment to ANYTHING, given the likes of "You're doinga great job, Brownie!" [Yet another stinking lie...] and the White House Procurement Chief being frogmarches off in handcuffs, the foxes he's appointed to guard henhouses in the government, the QUACKS he's put into NIH and the Publich Health service, should be assumed unqualified until proven otherwise.

#40 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:22 AM:

Terry Ott: I get your point, I even can agree with most of it, and yet, and yet... I am so fucking tired of no one out there speaking for me. They could, just maybe, use this opportunity to make the case that the country is in danger. They could hammer on the point about power. Don't attack Alito on his membership in CAP (it was always a dumb issue), don't scream about abortion because the other side screams louder -- just focus on the issue of how power can be misused, and ... oh, you know. If done well, it could be part of that "brand image" you mention. Democrats support the Constitution! (They should all speak holding a copy of it. I gather the Cato Institure makes copies available.) More in sorrow than in anger, etc. etc.

On the other hand, and this is where I tend to agree with you, especially late at night when I'm tired, I see nothing in the Democratic track record that suggests to me that they are capable of any of this.

#41 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:24 AM:

And by the way, if Massachusetts posters to Making Light want to feel proud, they're entitled.

Now, as then.

#42 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:32 AM:

Engraved on a large rock on Lexington Green, a laser print of which is sitting next to me, within Minuteman marching distance from where I'm sitting: a musket and powderhorn slung from it, and below, the words,

APRIL 19 1775


The current governance is an utter disgrace... and an offense to the values that drove the Minuteman to rebellion and offering up their lifes for the goal of freedom, for life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom of speech....

#43 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:55 AM:

I have to say that I can no longer feel any reliable confidence that we can recover a constutional republic in this country without significant violence and/or some massive catastrophe. I think the Democratic Party has pissed away all the chances there were to respond effectively within the framework of the rule of law.


I might be wrong.

And even if I'm right, any demonstration at all is that much more of a display to remind and encourage on our way to whatever comes next.

#44 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:00 AM:

I made my call to Ron "won't vote against torture" Wyden this afternoon--hope it helps.

I'd never have thought of Kerry in this connection. And yet it makes perfect sense, given his interest in honest judgement (as evinced in both his anti-war stand as a vet, his prosecutorial experience, and his participation in Senate investigation) and his willingness to put himself on the line, when backed into it, as evinced in his combat record.

"I typically agree with about 90% of the political discussions I read at this site. This thread falls into the 10% category - I just can't see how a filibuster at this stage helps the good guys."

I'd be happy to see some Senators stand for the Republic. And, we might win. The Republicans are starting to get scared--the Bush administration is doing poorly in the polls, and if there's enough popular opposition to Alito, some might break ranks. If the Democrats can block Supreme Court nominations until the elections this year, and make a good showing in those elections, the Republic may yet stand, though shakily.

#45 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:14 AM:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
[Schmuck has rejected the anti-torture legislation, and vetoed much]

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

[see above, also consider his Presidential Directives wiping out family planning support, and much else, and PROTECTING the likes of James Bulger the sociopath]

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

[The Congressional Republicraps holding meetings at 1 AM rewriting legislation before it gone on an up or down vote with no discussion and no amendments allows, I forget which committee is it that has been doing that abuse... the head of it was thoroughly unrepetent and -proud- of his totalitarian control... it's supposed to be a rather minor committee, but under the Republicrat reign of fear and deceit, it controls entirely what goes to the House floor for a vote....)

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
[those appointments between sessions of Congress, of ideological fanatics like Bolton and bigoted biased judges rejected previously by the Senate for appointment...]


He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

[the INS remains an utter mess...]

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

[litmus tests of rightwing Christians for nomination of judges to federal courts...]

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

[the expansion of the Department of Homeland Security, the appointment of unqualified gorfs like Mr Brown and the WHite House former Procurement Chief, John Bolton, the mining business lobbyists appointed the the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the attacks on longterm civil servants with trumped-up malfeasance charges, the appointment of rightwing politica activist fanatics to the FCC and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting who have sone such things as told a Massachusetts school system that the broadfcast licene it had should go instead to a Christian sectarian evangelizing organization...)


He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

[or rather, of any oversight beside his...]

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

[warrantless searches and seizures, ghost prisoners in ghost jails, -torture- of the incarcerated, and gag orders everywhere...]


... For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: [the translator at the FBI, and others whose requests for court adjudication have been utterly squashed with bogus claims that trial would reveale "classified" information]

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: [or abducted secretly and held secretly]

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

[the Imperial Presidency and playing tinplated dictator, the removal of environmental and safety oversight, the defunding of so many public programs for improving the quality of life of the citizenry...)


He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

[FEMA versus New Orleans, reading to school kids instead of actually carrying out Commander-in-Chief duties when New York City and Washington DC were so lethally and devastatingly attacked...]

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
[US mercenarys in Asia, torturing and running operations, as "contractors."... ]

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,

[Promoting radical anti-abortion groups; agendas and providing aid and support to abortion opponents, giving free access to the likes of James Dobson to infest the White House and push Christian fanatic agenda...)

and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

[Schmuck doesn't read newspapers, doesn't watch TV news, doesn't speak to audiences without other tyhan syncophants planted as the audience, doesn't allow anyone who doesn't agree with his attitudes to even present them to him, much less listen.... ]

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

[Sectarian fanatics with free run of Congress and the White House lobbying.... ]

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


DOWN WITH KING GEORGE, and his disdain for the US Constitution and Bill of Rights....

#46 ::: Keffy ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:20 AM:

All our votes and our support and our tax dollars mean absolutely nothing if the people we've elected will not stand up and protect us.

So many people are saying "oh, what good will it do? What good will it do to filibuster if we've already lost?"

What GOOD does it do to roll over and stick our feet in the air? What GOOD does it do to hide for eight years while our Constitution is burning? You can argue with me that no politician ever cares about his or her constituents, fine.

But we know that the Bush Administration does NOT care about America. They have done nothing for the past six years but prove that. The right of a human being to a fair trial means less to Bush than the metaphorical ability to find more heads to spike outside the front gate. The Executive branch is already far overpowered. Whatever Bush wants to do, with a few very slight exceptions, he does. It is always bad. Keep in mind, this is coming from somebody who dealt with 2004 by trying to find any reason to sleep well at night afterward, and I could find nothing. I did not want to believe that what I'd been dreading before the election could actually come to pass, and yet, it is. It has.

The Constitution was put in place with three governmental branches because we knew the danger of an unopposed, super-powered executive. Now we have one, and he's just asked to cut the last ties that could possibly constrain him. Although, really, when he asked Congress for the right to decide on his own - regardless of the constitution - when he ought to go to war, who couldn't see this coming?

Run, run away, and live to fight another day.
Except that if we keep running, eventually there won't be another day. There is no such thing as a graceful loser in politics.

And you know what? While you're calling the Dems to beg a filibuster, call the Republicans too. You might not have voted for them, but they STILL represent you, whether you like it or not. So give them a piece of your mind about Alito too.

"But that wouldn't do any good!" Maybe not, but do you really want to live for the next 20 years knowing that you didn't even try?

And if you want to talk about poker, we've got one chip left and we're praying for an ace.

#47 ::: Terry Ott ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:23 AM:

OK, about the "wandering in the wilderness" (I guess that's what was taken for back patting myself), NO candidate I have ever backed with energy or money has come out of the primaries with the nomination, since my first POTUS vote for JFK. So that's MY wilderness. I'd like for that to change some day.

My argument is not about capitulation, it is about WINNING for crying out loud. You might see filibustering as a step forward in battle; I see it as a step over the cliff (for the reasons I mentioned). My suggestion for winning is to make all the points that Lizzie L wants made, and more, but I simply do not think a filibuster (by definition, a defensive and obstructionist tactic) is the venue. I want the Democrats to start dazzling the country with their equivalent of the Contract With America --- not the content, of course, but the boldness, the sweep, the grandeur of it. If you think this can be done in the context of a filibuster, which features every windbag politician (articulate or not, smart or dumb) making his/her repetitious and somewhat mean-spirited 20-minute speech for the benefit of his/her base, then I missed something in Marketing 101.

I'd like the Democrats to appear as something other than the beseiged victims. It's not a "leadership image". Isn't that obvious? One more spasm of fury (filibuster bluster), followed by the inevitable put down is not going to move the cause forward. They need to get their act together (key word is "together"), their version of what governance SHOULD be and start blasting it in every local election venue, state election, and the upcoming election for seats in Washington, consistently --- not in the Senate chambers with all the world waiting to see how they will be checked and countered by the defending champions.

I understand the frustration; it is palpable. But the filibuster would be like a snort of cocaine; feels good, gets you nowhere, except further behind the eight-ball.

And as for the comment that "The argument Terry Ott puts forth has been tried and tried again and yielded nothing", tell me WHEN the Democrats have tried to put a sweeping, positive, populist message out there in a coordinated way and it has not worked. What hasn't worked is the message of gloom and the politics of ABB, and that's what a filibuster is bound to sound like, 2006 style.

It's easy to write and deliver alarmist "sky is falling" speeches; Gore did a nice job of it the other day. Then they fade away because most people don't want to believe it's "that bad". But right now they DO want to hear how things CAN be better in terms of a governance model. Bush has succeeded in putting them (read: many of us) in exactly that frame of mind. It's hard work to put togther the winning proposition of hope and opportunity, and then stick to it for a couple of years until people "get it". But that has to start happening now, I believe. A filibuster against someone that lots of people think is a genuinely "acceptable" nominee to the SC is not the way to kick it off.

We need to see something special and exceptional coming from the Democrats, not "politics as usual".

#48 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:48 AM:

What, do you mean something like the meeting held in the basement of the Capitol a few days ago, because even though the House is in recess for DeLay to armwrestle anyone susceptible to his mixture of graft and corruption and strongarmtwisting, the official Republicrat-controlled government machinery claimed there were no conference rooms available, for the meeting that Democratic representatives went ahead with unilaterally becuase the Republicraps are blocking all official bipartisan/Congressional official investigation?

It got reported on AirAmerica but of course not on the "national" news which is most controlled by organizations such as CBS/Paramount, ABC/Disney, and NBC/GE that pander to the Republicraps and the Schmuck and seem to generally censor anything that might show the Republicrap control and (mis)governance in a light that isn't highly laudatory and appreciative....

That is, there HAVE been Democratic plans proposed--that have gotten no or almost no airplay and attention by The Media. Sinclair-run stations won't do anyting that could be construed as other than praising Schmuck's tenure, etc.

#49 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 02:09 AM:

There -are- initiatives the Democrats are pushing, but they don't get -reported-, especially not by the conglomeratized media and their right-wing-pandering policies (there are those that outright are rightwingers or rightwing catamites, and there there are those like the New York Times with the likes of Judith Miller, willing Schmuck misadminstration mouthpiece, what was she, the equivalent of the Albania press spouting the official Albanian goverment line? ....


Monday, December 12, 2005

"Clinton, Schumer, Reid and Rendell Underscore Critical Need for Energy Independence

"Highlight Immediate Need to Increase Funding for Low Income Home Heating Assistance

"New York, New York – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined by Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Governor of Pennsylvania Edward Rendell, launched the Democrats’ "Energy Independence 2020" plan, and kicked off a series of forums around the country to highlight the Democratic plan and spotlight innovative efforts underway to promote use of alternative energy sources that would be greatly accelerated under the Democratic plan. They called on President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress to stop blocking Democratic efforts to provide $2.9 billion in additional funding for the Income Heating Assistance Program to help the millions of Americans who are struggling to meet record high costs for home heating this winter. A Senate Democratic Policy Committee report released at the event details the staggering cost of inaction on energy independence and the impact of skyrocketing energy prices on American families and businesses.

"“We need to put America on the path to energy independence with policies that promote advanced energy technologies, not by subsidizing oil companies like the President's energy plan does. We also have an urgent need to help millions of Americans who will face the highest heating bills they have ever seen this winter. Yet the President and the Republican leadership in Congress have stood in the way of our every attempt to increase heating assistance over the last few months. American people are counting on us to fully fund the heating assistance program before Congress adjourns for the holidays, and it is time for the President to stop blocking heating aid to seniors and low-income Americans," said Senator Clinton....


"Launch an Apollo Project for Energy

"- Free the US from foreign oil by 2020 by supporting research, development, and production of alternative energy sources..

"Diversify and Expand Our Energy Supplies

"- Establish a national electricity standard that requires greater use of renewable energy

"- Enhance incentives for energy production from solar, wind, and geothermal

"- Increase dramatically the production of domestically grown biofuels

"- Increase environmentally friendly extraction of oil and gas from existing domestic sources

"- Encourage construction of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline

"- Support the development of a hydrogen economy

"- Promote deployment of advanced clean coal technology with carbon capture and storage ..."


"...Today the President is in Ohio addressing health care but his effort is the same window dressing, avoidance of reality that we've seen the last four years. Unfortunately, the White House plan for health care will actually make matters far worse. It will let insurance costs get higher, not lower. It will abandon still more families and kids to fend for themselves. It will force still more sick people out of cheap preventive care and into expensive critical care, with the rest of us footing the bill. And it will decisively repudiate the national responsibility to promote quality, affordable health care at a time when health care is unmistakably a national challenge.

"Pare back all the rhetoric, and the White House plan is this: let's not import less expensive drugs. Let's not negotiate better drug prices. Let's ignore the 45 million Americans without any health care coverage. Let's forget about patients' rights. Let's weaken coverage. Let's raise premiums with a phony small business health plan. Let's pretend the answer for families struggling to afford insurance is just another tax cut for the wealthy that leaves them behind. And while we're at it, let's dump the responsibility for covering low-income families and their kids on the states, and let them take the heat for dumping them altogether. That's how the president who promised to usher in a "responsibility era" proposes to deal with a real and present health care crisis, even as he seeks to hype a phony crisis in Social Security. You know what that sounds like to me? Sounds like a cradle-to-grave irresponsibility plan. My Kids First proposal is meant to serve as the first step towards ending this irresponsibility era and keeping our promises. And when it comes to giving kids health care coverage, it's a promise we not only can afford to keep, but one we cannot afford to break.


"My proposal would finance the coverage expansion by asking something back from the least needy beneficiaries of Washington's big borrowing spree, individuals earning well over $300,000 per year. A portion of the Bush tax cuts benefiting these most-fortunate citizens would be repealed, making the top rate a bit closer to the rate under which wealthy individuals did so spectacularly during the 1990s. Like all Americans, the wealthiest among us would benefit greatly from covering all kids, through less taxpayer financed uncompensated care and fewer state and local tax increases in the short run, and through stronger families and communities and a better educated and trained workforce in the long run. That's the value of shared responsibility -- and that's a test of who really believes in the United States of America...."

#50 ::: Terry Ott ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 02:41 AM:

Paula: "Initiatives the Democrats are pushing..." is not what I am talking about. At all.

I am talking about a pledge that "Governance will be different and better when the Democrats are in majority control of the executive and legislative branches. The American people have our iron-clad pledge that these things will be done: (1) ...(2) ... (3) ... (4) immediately and then consistently carried out, and our solemn assurance that the following will be the 7 most important principles for governance in the Neo-Progressive era: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7).

Take a look at the Contract With America. If this kind of document were produced and disseminated, now, by Democrats (unitied) what chance is there that it would not be front and center in all political discussions, Fox News included, and editorials and op-ed columns, etc.? Not that it would be uniformly hailed as "the right answer", but it would not be pushed aside as minutia and policy details. No --- it would put the contest for minds and votes on another level altogether.

That's what I'm talking about. Not "we're trying our best to get some traction on this and that", but rather "You deserve better government, and we promise you that will happen and here is how....."

And if the Party cannot muster the will and intellect to get this kind of message out, then the party does not deserve to lead the political agenda of the nation --- and in fact one would have to wonder if it is ever destined to be a viable force again.

Take a look, not for a debate on the contents, but for a lesson in how to take charge:

The beauty of this is that the Bush administration could never come up with anything like this. It's way too "cards on the table and dealing from the top of the deck".

To me this seems so obviously needed, and so powerful. What am I missing?

#51 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 03:57 AM:

Terry Ott writes: "What am I missing?"

If the D's won't mount the strongest defense available to them when there's a Supreme Court majority on the line, then it doesn't matter what they say they'll do when they have the Congress back, because their promises will be worthless at that point. That is what you're missing.

#52 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 04:39 AM:

In spite of what the Times wrote, the filibuster is a conservative institution. It preserves the status quo. Radical would be doing away with it.

As for the argument that using the filibuster would be polarizing, one might want to consider the context. Nominating a political extremist to the Supreme Court is polarizing. If the Democrats and I hope a few moderate Republicans can stop Alito's confirmation, the administration will not nominate someone even more extreme, because they will have already been shown they don't have the votes. They will have no choice but to nominate someone more moderate. If that comes to pass, it would represent a modest renewal of civility, not polarization.

As for the argument that the filibuster is not to be wasted on a mere Supreme Court nomination, what else should it be used on? What flavor of jello salad to have on the senatorial lunch menu?

However, I rather admire the right-wing argument, made elsewhere, that the Democrats should not dare to use the filibuster because if they do it will be taken away from them, and then they wouldn't be able to use it. That's chutzpa.

Also astounding for its bluster is the argument that essentially boils down to this: If the Democrats use the filibuster to stop a nominee who refuses to admit he is anti-choice, it will so offend the minority of Americans who are anti-choice, that they will keep voting for the Republicans. In other words, the Democrats should be quaking in fear that they might be abandoned by the extreme right-wing partisan Republican base.

I have to agree that this is a no-lose proposition for the Democrats. Sure, if they try to filibuster, it may fail. Alito might be confirmed anyway. But if they don't try, he'll be confirmed for sure. As for the horrible negative consequences, there don't seem to be any.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 06:24 AM:

This may seem off topic, but it's not... I was watching Turner Classic Movies yesterday. When there is a gap between movies, they put in a short film, a featurette, an old documentary. Sometimes the fill-in is related in some ways to the movie that just ended, or to the one about to begin. Interestingly, the one I caught was about the beautiful and picturesque city of... New Orleans. It's like they're not afraid of reminding their audience that the people currently in charge screwed up big-time. Maybe it IS just a coincidence, a thoughtless choice, and maybe I'm so hungry for a glimmer of some possibility that my country will recover its sanity that I see crumbs where there is nothing. But maybe not.

#54 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:51 AM:

Terry Ott --

The other thing you are missing is that electoral politics has no further importance.

The votes aren't being counted. The Democratic party will lose at least six senate seats, in vaguely plausible ways that don't compell public notice, in the 2006 midterms, and that will be that.

Large corporations, including those which own news outlets, have an inherently autocratic agenda. This is about the survival of government.

For those of you contacting your senators -- phone again. Phone every day. Fax every day, and twice on Sunday. Repetition creates belief.

#55 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 08:05 AM:

I think there are two arguments woven into this thread - strategic and tactical.

Taking the tactical point first, I could be convinced to ramp the fight up to another level if I had some real momentum coming into it. Sorry, it isn't there. This particular battle was lost when Joe Biden spent half an hour talking about himself and he and his colleagues failed to make a clear case for opposition. At this point - following all the fluff about Princeton societies - we haven't got a unified opposition and a middle of the country leaning in our direction. Sometimes you do pay for the mistakes already made.

On the strategic side, we have a Senate and House majority to win in November, and the only way to do this (in my judgement) is to make a positive case to change. Part of that message is corruption, part incompetence, part President-as-King, but also - how are we going to govern better based on values that will capture a majority.

Patrick, if you want to talk bravery, fair enough. Deciding that your pugnaciousness is more important than thinking things through, to me, is one defining feature of this Administration and its leader. I really don't want us to take that model on.

#56 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 09:27 AM:

I ahd already called my senators before this was posted. Alexander is reported to be wavering; I told his local office that I was really, really unhappy with the idea of Supreme Court Justice Alito and left it at that. I left the staffer at Frist's office feeling like her ear had been wasp-stung, on the basis of "With his support of Alito, Frist is betraying the separation of powers in the Constitution and destroying the power of Congress, with references to Nixon's abuses of power." I think that is the single most effective argument to use on any Senator--the man will try and say your part of government is inferior to another part, and that what you do doesn't matter. In fact, the more genuinely conservative a Senator is, the more likely this argument will catch their eye.

#57 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 09:57 AM:

I can understand Kerry and Kennedy's position, and understand why Patrick (and others) support it.

I can't understand Graydon's. If, as you seem to believe, the fix is in already on the 2006 elections, then one filibuster more or less isn't going to do anything. If you are serious about what you are saying, you should be out organizing the resistance movement and gathering weapons, not thinking about the filibuster.

As for my own opinion, if there was a chance of it working, it might be worth doing, as I doubt the "nuclear option" is popular. Since it seems clear at this point that it won't work, it will appear to be petulant breath-holding and help Bush more than harm him.

#58 ::: Vardibidian ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 10:21 AM:

I've called my Senators, both of whom have come out 'no', but neither of whom is terribly likely to support a filibuster.

I must say, that if the Democrats somehow manage to get 40 votes to filibuster, they need to actually filibuster, that is, they need to take the floor and not yield it, talking 24 hours about why they are willing to put a stop to Senate business rather than allow the confirmation of Judge Alito. The modern filibuster, that is just a series of procedural votes, is just a demand for a supermajority, and as such is, as TomB says, inherently conservative. But a real filibuster, where Senators Kerry and Reid and all have to go up and state their case, will be a very different thing, both strategically and tactically.

Most people won't support a filibuster. Not the first day. If it's over on the first day, the Dems lose. If it goes on for a week, and we keep making the case all week, we might get a movement. And in a representative democracy, once you've got a movement, who knows...


#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 10:58 AM:

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
[Medical marijuana is the first that comes to mind. State environmental regulations being overridden by the (much looser) federal regs.]

I think the senators should start reading Alito's material on the 'unitary executive' (ie KING) into the record. Read Bush's contradictory statements on Osama bin Forgotten into the record. Read Glenn Greenwald's material on reasonable/probable cause for search warrants into the record. Make the Republicans have to listen to this stuff, and make sure it goes into the Congressional Record, for everyone to hear and see. Make it obvious to even the dimmest (well, almost: Bush ain't going to understand) that this is about power, it's about check and balances, it's about whether we'll be a democracy next year or a dictatorship.

#60 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:24 AM:

Vardibidian and PJ have it right -- if they do it, they should do it dramatically and clearly. The republic should be defended with high drama and sharp, clear oratory (not self-serving windbag speeches a la Biden.) They should state the case, and if they lose, as they seem destined to, let them lose with dignity and honor and in support of a real goal.

If they are just going to handle it as a matter of procedure, then I agree, it will be worse than useless, because it will make them out to be petulant fools.

#61 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:27 AM:

DaveL -

Defeat happens in the mind.

The only mechanism of government that the Republican Party does not utterly control is the judiciary. It is very much worthwhile to do almost anything other than supinely surrender that branch of government to them.

And since this is, in large measure, a matter of perception and belief, you can hope to install some spine, create some hope, or actually make the seizure of control more expensive. They don't have infinite resources.

No, it doesn't fix the problem with fraudulent elections, but one thing at a time.

(And if I were an American, I would be.)

#62 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Terry-- Democrats are not known for a single totalitarian party line. The Republi-theocrap misbegotten "Contract with American" was a marvel of bigotry and monomania, a creed which denied life, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness from anyone with values other than rightwing whitebread proselytizing apocalyptic Christianity.

When in a multicultural pluralistic society --"We, the people of the United States of American, in order to form a more perfect union..."--there are going to be conflicts of interests and values, accommodations/zones of tolerance and acceding to "I don't like this/don't have those values/don't practice this/am not in favor of that, but it is none of my damn business to be interfering in the personal lives and bodies and decisions of consenting adults in consenting adult company that isn't polluting the air, destroying the environment, isn't robbing me of life and liberty and propert, etc., and telling them them that instead they must obey my value system, comply with a religion I might give lip service to (there are lots of religiously orthodox lip service givers, who claim to be of rigid sects and demand others convert and comply to their sect, who themselves consider themselves not bound by the provisions they demand others follow... see, e.g., the webpage abour "The Only Moral Abortion Is my Abortion" wherein the level of hypocrisy of those demanding abortions for themselves or their associates, hits ancient Greek play levels of irony and hubris... women who go from picketing clinics to demanding an abortion at the same clinic, and have the temerity to say "you're still murderers" while/after obtaining the abortion, and then being back on the picket line not that many hours later...) and only the self-determination Big Daddy Patriarch Religious Fanatic Fascist allows.

The Democrats don't have a "Contract" because they have an ethnically, socially, religiously, economically, and world-outlook pluralistic constituency. The Republicraps make Cromwell's England look multicultural and tolerant....

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:02 PM:

[Note, Kerry and Kennedy have had more constituents than I contacting them about Alito calling for filibustering...]

Received: from ([]) by; Fri, 27 Jan 2006 03:40:01
Received: by (PowerMTA(TM) v3.0r8) id hr7e5i087tgm; Fri, 27 Jan 2006 03:34:06
-0500 (envelope-from )
From: "John Kerry"
Subject: Filibuster
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 02:53:13 -0500

Yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy and I told our colleagues that we supported a filibuster of Judge
Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court. And we weren't alone. But the bottom line is that it takes
more than two or three people to filibuster successfully. It's not "Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington." If you want to stop Judge Alito from becoming Justice Alito, use your own email
list and organize. We can't just preach to our own choir. We need to prove to everyone - from our
friends and neighbors to our fellow Senators - that the American people know Judge Alito will take our country in the wrong direction, and they expect something to be done about it.

So I'm asking you to join Senator Kennedy, me, and concerned citizens across America who are signing this petition to support a filibuster. If there was ever a time to forward an email on to friends and family, this is it. One way or another, we're going to find out in the next few days if Judge Alito is going to become Justice Alito. You know where I stand. The time to make your voice heard is now. So please sign this filibuster petition and get as many friends as you can to do the same.

Sign the filibuster petition:

If Judge Alito gets on the Supreme Court, it will be an incredible mistake for America. And
remember, this is one mistake that we can never take back.

I voted against Justice Roberts, but I feel even more strongly about Judge Alito. Why? Rather than live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law," he has consistently made it harder
for the most disadvantaged Americans to have their day in court. He routinely defers to excessive government power no matter how much government abuses that power. And, to this date, his only statement on record regarding a woman's right to privacy is that she doesn't have one.

There isn't a shred of doubt in my opposition to Judge Alito's nomination. I spent a lot of time
over the last few years thinking about what kind of person deserves to sit on the highest court in
the land, so I don't hesitate a minute in saying that Judge Alito is not that person. His entire
legal career shows that, if confirmed, he will take America backward. People can say all they want that "elections have consequences." Trust me, I understand. But that doesn't mean we have to
stay silent about Judge Alito's nomination.

Sign the filibuster petition:

President Bush had the opportunity to nominate someone who would unite the country in a time of
extreme division. He chose not to do this, and that is his right. But we have every right -- in
fact, we have a responsibility -- to fight against a radical ideological shift on the Supreme Court. This nomination was a sellout to the demands of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. The president gave no thought to what the American people really wanted - or needed. So now that the president and Judge Alito have proven they won't stand up for the majority of Americans, we have to stand up. We have to speak out. That's the true meaning of "advice and consent."


John Kerry

#64 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Biden sounds like a Republicrap with tag that reads "Democrat" stuck on. Remember Katherine Harris?...

#65 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:13 PM:

PS-- and who would really be surprised if information ever came out that the Rovian Slime had wiretapped Kennedy and Kerry's offices, thinking about "last minute" operations and why they might be last minute operations--it wouldn't be the first time Republican appartchiks went around plumbing things--remember the "Watergate Plumbers"? Schmuck has had the effrontery to stand up in public first saying that all wiretapping has been done with warrants, and these past several weeks has stood up without the slightest bit of repentance or embarrassment or apology and proclaimed that he has perniciously been authorizing month after month after month of warrantless search and seizure, and claims that it is all "legal"... in direct contradiction and contrainvention to his words those many months earlier.

Oathbreaker, liar, incompetent, bigot, fascist... and any appointment he makes or nominates, should be viewed in the light of "why should one trust and/or support ANYTHING/ANYONE this lying gorf advocates?"

#66 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 12:49 PM:

I've emailed my thanks to Kennedy and Kerry.

I'm surprised I didn't get this email. I'm usually on Sen. Kerry's mailing list.

#67 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:24 PM:

Brief note on the filibuster: it is the one real power a minority party has in US politics; without it the USA becomes a single-party state. I do not love it, but I will not see it abandoned without a replacement well in hand.

#68 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:27 PM:

found my senators' fone numbers at their web site.
then click "contact me/us" and away you go

What to say?

"Hi I'm a constituent of Senator Beep-Click and I'd like to say fillibuster Alito"

That's it. Add your tally mark to the collection. I just did - both senators.

#69 ::: Terry Ott ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Paula Lieberman:
Thanks for reading my post, but I regret I was unable to explain myself well enough.

Respectfully as possible, I will point something: my post said to think about the power of a succinct but sweeping document (as the Contract With America certainly was), and imagine that the Democrats would do something comparable to it IN TERMS OF THE PRINCIPLES BY WHICH THEY WOULD GOVERN. e.g., A PLEDGE THEY WOULD SIGN ABOUT WHAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT (enumerate those things) COMPARED TO THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS, AND A COMMITMENT TO TAKE ACTION ON VARIOUS "GOVERNANCE MODEL" TACTICS (enumerate them).

Your reply was to attack with vengeance the contents/substance of the Contract With America , and then go from there off into the standard diatribe filled with your own vituperous lingo about Bush and the right wing and theocracry and all the rest of it. Your knee actually jerked, I think.

The document I was thinking of would resemble (remind people of) the Gingrich Contract ONLY in that it would be clear, short, "un-nuanced", bold, forward looking, and binding. It would be the common launching pad for party candidates. And if the party cannot come up with a collection of principles around governance and then expect its candidates to get behind them --- well, I'm afraid that in and of itself is very telling.

If you think the Democrats collectively would commit to a common high-level set of themes about energy, retirement income security, health care, national security, etc --- fine, add that. But that is not so important right now. The fundamental "contract" I want to see from the party is "here is how WE will govern once in power" with the appropriate subpoints made very clearly.

I believe that if the governance processes are "right" (which they are not), and the few overarching "agenda items" are right (which the are not), and we have people in office we can trust to do the best they can for the whole country, all the rest will sort itself out. I'd like to hear the Democrats say that kind of thing forcefully and repeatedly and make a pledge to live by the principles that flow from it. That's not too constraining for your "ethnically, socially, religiously, economically, and world-outlook pluralistic constituency" is it?

#70 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 02:04 PM:

I think that there is that kind of thing out there already, but that the news media has gone far out of its way to ignore it, as opposed to the promotion given to the Republicrap screed.


"The Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World, the Party Platform of the Democratic National Committee, approved July 2004

"Click here for 58 full quotes from Democratic Party in the book The Democratic Platform for America.
OR click on an issue category below for a subset....

"The above quotations are from The Democratic Platform for America: Strong at Home, Respected in the World, the Party Platform of the Democratic National Committee, approved July 2004."

"The Democratic Party has a long and proud history of representing and protecting the interests of working Americans and guaranteeing personal liberties for all. One of the places we articulate our beliefs is in the Party's National Platform, adopted every four years by the Delegates at the National Convention.

Click here to read Strong At Home, Respected in the World -- The Democratic Platform for America.

#71 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 02:11 PM:

I don't see that the issue of fraudulent election results as simple as Graydon says it is. My folk belief is that the more votes actually cast for Democratic candidates, the harder it will be to rig the reported results to show that the Democratic candidates have lost.

For this reason, it's not clear to me that "electoral politics has no further importance."

My folk belief is based on reading descriptions of how incidents of vote tampering became known in the last two elections. I don't have any specific knowledge of how the scale of tampering operations affects their ease of implementation.

#72 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 02:14 PM:

I just emailed both my senators with PJ's text on what to read during the filibuster.

If the Democrats just get a spine, that will be win enough for now. If they can hang on to it long enough to use it during the 2006 campaigning, then that's an even bigger victory.

Dammit, the Democrats have laid down and "taken it" for far too many years. Just because we can't win the fight, doesn't mean we have to give up the battle.


#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 03:21 PM:

Something else to hang on the GOP:
Documents Show Army Seized Wives As Tactic
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

Hey, prez: Explain to me again how this is supposed to spread democracy?

#74 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 03:33 PM:

One of my Senators is here in town (he's facing an unexpected primary challenge from a House Rep., the little bankruptcy-bill-voting-aye twerp), so I called his local office. The guy who answered the phone registered my approval of a filibuster. When I asked if he was getting lots of calls, he sighed "oh yes."

I tried calling the DC office of my other Senator, and I can't get through. The phone system seems to be swamped, as I get the "all circuits busy" message.

#75 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 04:56 PM:

I just called the local offices, since I can't get through on the Washington ones.

If you are in New York State here are your numbers:
Senator Charles Schumer
Phone: 202-224-6542
District Offices:
Albany: 518-431-4070
Binghamton: 607-772-6792
Buffalo: 716-846-4111
Melville: 631-753-0978
New York: 212-486-4430
Red Hook: 914-285-9741
Rochester: 585-263-5866
Syracuse: 315-423-5471

Senator Hillary Clinton
Phone: 202-224-4451
District Offices:
Albany: 518-431-0120
Buffalo: 716-854-9725
Hartsdale: 914-725-9294
Lowville: 315-376-6118
Melville: 631-249-2825
New York: 212-688-6262
Rochester: 585-263-6250
Syracuse: 315-448-0470

#76 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 05:03 PM:

I am amazed that the Democrats have not managed to grasp how this would play out in the media.

You remember how good it looked when Reid called the Senate into a closed session? Frist looked like an idiot. The Democrats looked like the good guys. The media couldn't spin it any other way and it drew the spotlight onto the Democrats and gave them a chance to express their message.

The same is true here, I believe. The act of filibustering would itself draw so much attention that the arguments against Alito that may not have achieved much traction would come out again. It'd be all talking heads saying "Well, the Democrats claim the extreme judicial philosophy of Alito justifies this". That's our message getting out there in the media. It's high drama. It's the spotlight on the Democrats.

The filibuster is essentially a tool of protest & outrage, not of democratic process. Protest & outrage are valid tactics; they show that you truly feel the opinion of the majority is wrong, they give some time and attention to your beliefs, and in the end, they may persuade enough people that the outcome is changed via the democratic process.

I'm glad the Senate provides for it. If the Republicans had filibustered a Democratic judicial nominee, I might not have agreed with them that the nominee was unsuitable, but it would have made me think twice about it.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 05:05 PM:

There are suggestions that the phone lines in DC are full so they can't hear us. The alternative, for those who can, is to fax your speech to them.

#78 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 05:29 PM:

Of interest- a list of who is committed to filibuster, and who is not, with phone numbers:

#79 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 06:06 PM:

Here's the full Senate directory. Click the appropriate Senator and you should find a fax number in the "contact" section of his/her pages.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Thanks, Jacob, for reminding us of how Harry Reid's closed-session manoeuvre had been reported. People like a fighter better than someone who dithers about whether or not this is the right thing to do. Especially when we do know that this is the right thing to do.

#81 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 06:43 PM:

Lenny --

Florida in 2000 wasn't even vaguely close. A whole bunch of votes simply were not counted.

Once you get widespread collusion among the officials charged with counting the votes, the reported total is just that. There is no obvious way to dispute the total, especially when as in Ohio in 2004, the records and ballots are destroyed.

All of this is already massively unlawful, but the check against systematic vote fraud is supposed to be that the papers will rail against it and the states shall oppose the feds and the feds shall oppose the states as required. That isn't happening, mostly because party loyalty is replacing loyalty to principle or to the nation.

Canada's voting is much better organized and funded and centrally administered by people who really care that it's fair, but the important difference is that if an election scrutinizer went to a newspaper and said there was fraud, it would get prompt national attention. (and, indeed, every election, this happens. This time is was a Saskatchewan Conservative candidate.)

There's an automated review process, too, and it works very well, but it doesn't have to; the thing that keeps it working is the widespread willingness to believe that an election could so be fraudulent.

Once that belief is lost -- and it has pretty clearly been at least officially and at least widely lost in the United States -- they can get away with anything.

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Lizzy: W would never be a king, that would be un-American. Emperor, now, has a nice ring, and the right precedents (Augustus and Napoleons I and III) for the destruction of a republic.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:00 PM:

How about Lord Protector, Fragano? Isn't that what Cromwell called himself?

#84 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:02 PM:

True, Fragano, true.

I just read on firedoglake that DiFi has stated she will vote "no" on cloture.

*pumps fist*

I have been trying for half an hour to reach the San Francisco office to express my appreciation for her stance, and I can't get through. Good!! Democracy in action, folks calling their Senator -- and in the Bay Area, that means Democrats. In San Diego it might be angry Republicans but up here we're pretty damn near all bluish.

#85 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Sarcasm alert

Of course they're spreading democracy that way--they're spreading it the same way a rapist spreads the victim's legs...

The filibuster is the tool of the minority against tyranny by the majority. The extremists hijacked the Republican Party through their hardcover devotion to their causes and their making that sort of thing their life focus--I don't know how I got on the Concerned Women of America mailing list years ago, but Bev[erly] LaHaye, wife of Tim[othy] LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind series, who is firmly convinced that what he is writing there is docudrama and not real fiction, had an editorial about how hard it was for her being in Washington far from her family as a lobbyist--she didn't use that term than I recall however--pushing the Concerned Women of America agenda and values instead of being home with the family, and how she had gotten dispirited and almost given up and gone home BUT she perserved due in no small part to all those other people in Concerned Women of America, and then things started going her/their way... The group was focused and organized, had people who did calling of strangers--one of them called me up and asked for my support to prevent homosexual males from being allowed to teach children because they were a threat to little boys... I pointed out that homosexual and pederast are not the same thing, and continued ... the concept that heterosexual pederasts predate on little girls, had apparently never occurred to the woman who called me "I never though about that!" she exclaimed--but anyway, my point is that the people in CWA and its ilk, included a lot of people who put their Causes as their life calling, and spend huge amounts of time and effort in their endeavors.... I keep wondering where the bankrolling comes from for the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church (go take a look at and realize that the material there is NOT there satirically, that it their actual set of values and beliefs!) and the people who picket health clinics day after day after day... the people doing the picketing, are not the ones bankrolling the operation, someone else is providing the wherewithal for their parasitic protesting--I say parasitic, because they are not contributing productive -work- and economic value to the society, and not doing anything that in my opinion is beneficial, what they're doing is detracting from the quality of life in the country and wasting resources and effort which could so much more beneficially be applied in other ways, or spent doing something that's a no-op and at least isn't detracting from other people's lives and well-being and psychological well-being.

Getting back to the filibuster--it's a tool for those people who feel very strongly that something is -wrong- or inappropriate, to have a forum to demonstrate they are willing to go to the effort to make kthat point. There have been senators in the pastwho were known for their marathon level filibusters, both in duration, and in the number of filibusters they launched. But that was decades ago. And they were a MUCH smaller minority in their opinions and views, than the number of Senators with strong reservations about Alito.

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Kerry's website at is

Kennedy's is

Other senators the same format seems likely to work. There are links at to the various senator's websites, and all the senatorial websites I have seen, include forms or email addresses for electronically contacting the senators' offices.

Kerry's staffers, at least, do read and even respond to such missives.

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:20 PM:

Oh, did I mention Sen Grasso's rectocranial commentary, about how is it unconstitutional to threaten to filibuster/to filibuster the vote in the Senate on Alito!?! Yes, he actually said "unconstitutional" dumping on Kerry and Kennedy's opposition, and saying that there must be a straight up vote on the candidate!

#88 ::: Jesse ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 07:39 PM:

In San Diego it might be angry Republicans but up here we're pretty damn near all bluish.

I'm in San Diego. I called my senators (yours as well, obviously) to support a filibuster, and I asked a number of other people here to do so. Some did, some said they will, some probably won't. It's something. I've never called a senator before, and I bet the people I talked to have never done so either.

Don't count a whole geographic area out. Even the most polarized parts of the country have plenty of people who feel differently.

#89 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 08:47 PM:

"We, the people of the United States of America...."

words that the Schmuck, Mr DeLay, Mr Ney, Mr Blunt, Mr Alito, Mr Thomas, Mr Scalia, Mr Gonzales, Mr Rove, Mr Cheney, Mr Rumsfeld, Mr Libby, Ms Miers, etc., all seem to hold in disapprobation and disdain.

The Scmuck's deprecation of the FISA law, "that was 30 years ago, things are different today," is less than a seventh the amount of time it's been since those words above, became the basis for all law in this country, and the document that organizated the United States of America into its current form of government, with the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, the Judiciary, the military, the power to tax, the Bill of Rights, copyright law, patent law.... old words, who cares about old words, a law that's a mere 29 years old being deemed irrelevant and dispensable because "things are different now." How much more, then, irrelevant to those above, are words that writ 217 years ago?...

[what set this off was the post of someone saying this is the first time the person has called a senator. That further reminds me, of "We can all hang together or we can all hang alone" of an interchange between one of the other Continental Congress members and Benjamin Franklin. They risked their lives, and Jefferson's attitude was that a democracy over time requires blood to ensure that survives...]

#90 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 10:24 PM:

a guy onto the Supreme Court who thinks the President of the United States should have dictatorial powers whenever he or she wants to exercise them

What evidence do you have that this is remotely the case? "Dictatorial"?

#91 ::: Michael Falcon-Gates ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 10:48 PM:

What evidence do you have that this is remotely the case? "Dictatorial"?

George W. Bush has, in public, declared that he has the right to ignore duly enacted laws of this country because he finds them to be inconvenient. What better word is there for such conduct than "dictatorial?" Well, "autocratic," perhaps. Or "despotic" or "tyrannical." I could probably continue, but why put Roget's out of business?

#92 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:01 PM:

Just tried faxing Boxer and Feinstein. Couldn't get through to Boxer even with the fax, something I'd never heard of, though Feinstein's went through ok. I'll try Boxer again later.

#93 ::: Jim S ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:04 AM:

My senators are red as red can be at least until next January. Then we might manage to make it a split. It's an interesting conundrum. Blue KC, blue St. Louis, blue Columbia (M.U.) and red rural areas. Sigh.

#94 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:15 AM:

Mr. Falcon-Gates -- I didn't ask about President Bush's opinions. I asked why it has been said that Alito believes in "dictatorial" powers. Has Alito ever said or done anything to warrant that adjective?

#95 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:48 AM:

Mr. Jackson, take a look at this page. It's an analysis of Alito's cases while on the Appeals Court, done by the WaPo.

It starts off with these three categories:

Cases involving any government agency or unit, except criminal cases

* Cases in which Alito ruled against the government position (14 cases)
* Cases in which Alito split his ruling (10 cases)
* Cases in which Alito ruled with the government position (40 cases)

Each of those is a link I won't bother to put in. If you go to the main page I did link to, you can click them.

I submit that 40-14 in favor of the government might, at least, indicate a trend toward deference to executive power.

#96 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:24 AM:

Linkmeister -- the issue wasn't "deference toward executive power," but "dictatorial" power. There's a difference between those two terms.

Anyway, those kinds of percentages are meaningless, unless you know: 1) What sorts of cases were involved, and 2) How often other judges vote with the "government" position.

Here's why knowing something about the cases helps. The WaPo counts Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center v. Knoll as a pro-government decision. What happened in that case? Pennsylvania passed a law requiring that doctors who perform Medicaid abortions report on their activities. But Clinton's Secretary of Health and Human Services ordered that state reporting requirements were OK only if they had a waiver provision. Pennsylvania's did not. The Third Circuit -- including Alito -- held that the federal government had acted permissibly in preventing Pennsylvania from imposing its reporting requirement.

How exactly is that "dictatorial" in any way? I just don't get it. In fact, while I don't know you, I'd guess that you might be happy with a decision that limited state abortion regulations.

Another case: Pennsylvania Pharmacists Ass'n v. Houstoun. That case upheld more Clinton administration Medicaid regulations, as applied by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (something to do with payment formulas for prescription drugs). Again, this represents a trend towards dictatorial power?

I'm not cherry-picking here; those are the first two cases that I picked at random to look at.

Anyway, the bottom line is that it's meaningless to talk about "deference to executive power" -- let alone "dictatorial" power -- without some idea of what those 40 cases stood for.

#97 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Here are two more decisions that I picked at random out of the 40:

Resolution Trust v. CityFed Financial. In this case, Congress had passed the Financial Institutions, Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, which imposed liability for "gross negligence" on the part of bank administrators. The Third Circuit held: This law preempts federal "common law," but does not preempt state law.

That's a pro-executive power decision?

Marwood v. Elizabeth Forward School District. A teacher named Marwood had been using a teaching technique called "Learnball" (not really explained) but the school district had banned it. She had sued, and in a previous case, she and the school district had reached a "Settlement Agreement" that allowed her to lead a "Learnball League Club" but not to use "Learnball" in the classroom. But she started using Learnball in the classroom again anyway. After she was disciplined, she sued yet again, and the district court held that the "Settlement Agreement" barred her from using Learnball.

All that the Third Circuit did was say that the district court had interpreted the Settlement Agreement correctly.

Again: This is supposed to be "pro-executive," let alone "dictatorial"?

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:44 AM:

Serge: 'Lord Protector' was then a term of art meaning 'Regent'. Cromwell chose the title because it was explicitly not 'King', and he was too sensible to want to call himself 'Emperor' of Britain. Of course, he also claimed that the republic ('the Commonwealth') was still alive even after he had killed it. On t'other hand, the Commonwealth allowed the censorship to lapse, and Cromwell never reinstated it; plus, he employed John Milton.

#99 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 06:16 PM:


Florida in 2000 wasn't even vaguely close. A whole bunch of votes simply were not counted.

My understanding, now, is that there were about 14,000 overvotes for Gore not counted, where crossouts clearly indicated a preference. This is in addition to smaller totals in the hundreds that were tossed out because of other technical objections, the absentee ballots that weren't counted, the few thousands that were falsely disqulaified for being felons, and the unknown number who didn't get to the polls due to police harrassment. My guess is that the whole total was probably 50,000 or less.

My point is that if 100,000 or a million more people had voted for Gore, I think Republicans would have had to come up with increasingly transparent and detectable ways to suppress all those votes. In 2004, in Ohio, we saw a variety of reported anomalies: "broken" machines that reported false totals, Republicans carrying out Kerry votes and throwing them in the trash, under-supplying voting machines in pro-Democrat precincts to create long lines, harrassment of potential Democratic voters, and so forth.

At this point, not all vote counters and newspaper reporters are crooked or blind. My intuitive belief is that if the total votes for Democratic candidates are sufficiently large, crooked officials may not be able to rig the results in ways that will stick. As you point out, there is a high probability that they'll be able to get away with some vote rigging. It's not clear to me how much that will affect the actual reported totals. The more votes they have to bury or invalidate, the harder it will be for them to convince the mainstream media that they're not cooking the results.

So I'm not willing to go along with the idea that "electoral politics has no further importance in determining who gets to sit in the White House and Congress.

#100 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Lenny --

It is impossible to prove that the Ohio totals in 2004 were not completely fabricated.

Since making it impossible to prove that required unlawful acts ordered by Ohio's secretary of state, and Bush state campaign co-chair, my take is that the vote totals were fabricated entire.

Since the television media accept the vote totals they are given uncritically and are in any case a Republican Party propaganda arm, I see no reason to expect any election to report anything bearing any relation to the actual totals.

#101 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 06:38 PM:

Niels --

The core problems with Alito are two.

First, he accepts the idea that the President can declare himself above the law, based on some of his own available writings.

Since taking chances with that belief on the Supreme Court is very foolish, he isn't suitable.

Secondly, he has testified that he lied about what he represented as his most deeply held views on his job applications to the Regan White House.

Since anyone who will casually lie for personal advantage is completely untrustworthy, he isn't suitable for the bar, never mind the Supreme Court.

You may wish to summon up some more "random" examples, but you're late to the party. The awareness that the guy is a bagman and a liar has managed to percolate out rather well.

#102 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 10:10 PM:

You say, "First, he accepts the idea that the President can declare himself above the law, based on some of his own available writings."

What are you referring to here? To my knowledge, Alito has never said any such thing.

If you are referring to Alito's memo on presidential signing statements, you have been misled. Alito's actual memo said no such thing. What he actually said, to the contrary, was that President Reagan should "concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."

Now some people have noticed that Bush has sometimes issued signing statements that affirmatively announce his intent not to obey a particular bit of a law (just as, for that matter, every President has done at least back to Carter, and including Roosevelt as well). From this, they extrapolate rather wildly, and accuse Alito of having supported signing statements that would allow a President to disregard a law. He didn't do any such thing.

#103 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 11:48 PM:

Arguments about what Alito will or will not do seem a trifle silly to me at this point; we're going to find out. I will be overjoyed to the point of giddiness if over the next few years it appears that he is more moderate than I now believe he is.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I get to call Dianne Feinstein's office and say THANK YOU. She actually changed her vote because her constituents, of whom I am one, called and faxed and e-mailed. She needs to know that I appreciate it. If any of you have Senators who made the same sort of choice to be responsive to the people who vote for them (and she didn't have to -- I don't think she's got a credible Democratic challenger and I'm surely not going to vote for a Republican) you might consider doing the same. Indeed you probably already have considered it.

On to the the next fight. Hearings in the Judiciary Committee, right? See you there.

#104 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 12:03 AM:

And in the clutch we had 25 Senate Democrats--slightly more than half--willing to stand for the Republic. My own Democratic Senator, who voted for torture, at least voted against cloture, though it was a safe vote for him; he could vote in the near-certain knowlege that cloture would pass. I will nonetheless call and thank him tomorrow.

"This is not my party."

#105 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 01:15 AM:

Both of my Democratic Senators voted in favor of cloture, despite my and several thousand others' calls and e-mails. Bitter and disgusted would be two good adjectives to describe me.

#106 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 06:16 AM:

Meanwhile, tomorrow I get to call Dianne Feinstein's office and say THANK YOU. She actually changed her vote because her constituents, of whom I am one, called and faxed and e-mailed.

I wonder whether Feinstein was further encouraged by the news from Saturday that Cindy Sheehan may be considering a challenge run for her Senate seat.

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