Friday, September 30, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Would You Just Let Me Dream For a Moment?

I have discovered a candidate who CNN thinks is on Bush's short list who would be reasonable. Edward Prado of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Was nominated to the Federal District Court by Reagan in 1984 and Nominated to the US Circuit Court of Appeals by Bush in 2003. Someone who appears upon initial inspection to actually resemble some spirit of moderation. My money is on Bush nominating an Edith Jones or a John Luttig, and I have a plan. Please tell me if my plan is flawed and full of crap.

Democrats should hold a huge press conference tomorrow morning anouncing that President Bush should nominate Judge Prado to replace O'Connor and would recieve their overwhelming support. Call on the President to reach accross partison lines for a consensus nominee. I know, the worst news day if you want something to get covered is Friday, but its important to do this before Bush can nominate someone. We then spend the weekend on TV shows talking about how Bush should nominate Prado. This would serve as a preemptive strike saying that "we'll reach out for a nominee who Bush himself appointed to the US Court of Appeals that would be acceptable to both sides." It puts pressure immediatly over the weekend on Bush to nominate a consensus nominee instead of going for his favorite strategy of relying on brute force of the majority. Should Bush ignore us and appoint a strong conservative we have gained more legitimacy for our case for filibuster before they can start spouting their bogus lines that "Democrats will oppose anybody Bush nominates." It makes the Republicans the ones playing partison politics and the Democrats the ones extending their arm for bipartison agreement.

It strikes me that this would lead to one of two likely outcomes, either Bush caves to the idea of an overwhelming confirmation and nominates Prado (unlikely) or we fight the confirmation battle on our turf instead of theirs this time. This time we take the offensive before there even is a nominee.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted!

And has stepped down from his position as Majority Leader. Until they came under criticism for their unbelievable cronyism House Republicans had previously passed a rule change so that leadership would not have to step down if indicted by a grand jury. Unfortunate that this didn't happen next summer, it would have been kind of nice to have this hanging over the heads of Republicans everywhere and a consistant front page story. I guess we could still have Plame on the front pages during that time to hit them over the head with though.
DeLay, 58, attended a meeting in the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert shortly after receiving word of the indictment and said afterward he notified Hastert that he would "temporarily step aside" as majority leader. GOP House rules require that any member of Congress who is indicted must step down from a leadership position. However, there is no requirement that DeLay leave his congressional seat.

In the indictment, DeLay is accused of conspiring with two associates who have already been indicted: John Colyandro, the former executive director of a political action committee in Texas that was formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, the head of DeLay's national political committee.

At the heart of the case are corporate contributions of about $190,000 that prosecutors allege were essentially laundered by DeLay and his associates through transfers from a federal fund into a state fund.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More on Social Class

Think Progress breaks it down, the rich, the middle class, and the poor. We got damn lucky Rita didn't hit in Galveston, no offense to people in Lake Charles LA or Beaumont TX.

Give me a Break Slate

While Slate magazine wonders why we focus on Dylan in the 1960s and leave out the rest of Dylan's carreer, they seem incapable of acknowledging the simple fact that Dylan was by far at his best in the 1960s, from about 1963 until about 1970 Bob Dylan produced some of the greatest songs ever written, and after that he kind of faded out. Perhaps we focus on Dylan's work in the 1960s over the others not because we are anctious to romanticize the 1960s, but rather because Dylan's writing was so damn amazing at that time.
To be fair, Scorsese's not alone. Most recent Dylan material has focused exclusively on the 1960s. Sony has released albums of classic concerts, including the 1966 Royal Albert Hall show that's excerpted at length in the film. David Hajdu published Positively 4th Street (2001), a well-regarded history of the Greenwich Village folk scene that perpetuated the idea that Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" years mattered above all else. Even reviews of Dylan's 2004 memoir, Chronicles, Vol. I, dwelled inordinately on the sections about his coming of age and short-changed one of the most revealing chapters, which explained how he snapped a bout of writer's block to record his 1989 comeback album Oh Mercy. No less incisive a critic than Luc Sante allowed wistfulness to overwhelm critical acumen on the subject of Dylan when he asserted in the New York Review of Books that between roughly 1972 and 1997, Dylan "lost or at least misplaced parts of his power and inspiration."

Something is happening here. To be sure, few Dylanologists would deny that, except for Blood on the Tracks (1975), Dylan created his very best music between 1965 (the year of Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited) and 1967 (when he issued John Wesley Harding and recorded The Basement Tapes). Nonetheless, despite subsequent droughts and misfires, Dylan has since turned out some brilliant albums—from Desire in the 1970s to Infidels and Oh Mercy at either end of the 1980s to Time Out of Mind a few years ago—that approach his greatest work and surpass much of the folkie stuff that still draws so much giddy attention. So, why have we been so quick to ignore the bulk of his career?

Admittadly there is that brief moment of acknowledgement that Dylan was at his best from 1965-1967, but nonetheless Greenberg seems to draw some kind of equality between early gems of Dylan's such as "The Times they are a Changin'" and "Another Side of Bob Dylan", both in 1964, and later albums such as "Blood on the Tracks" or "Infidels" and "Oh Mercy." Get a clue Greenberg, those later albums you mentioned are just flatly not comparable to the earlier albums. By complaining that Dylan's later works don't get the attention they deserve Greenberg downplays the brilliance and influence of Dylan's earlier work.

Brilliance at the Oregonian Comics Page

When Charles Schulz died newspapers accross the Country continued to run Peanuts as they had for 50 years. When the greatest cartoonist ever retired however, Calvin and Hobbes stopped running. This is undoubtedly in part because Waterson had only been doing Calvin and Hobbes for 10 years when he retired and thus didn't have the huge archive of comics that Schulz had assembled, but nonetheless, greatness deserves to remain in the comics page even as reruns. Therefore, out of remembrance of the greatness of Calvin and Hobbes I applaud the Oregonian for running rerun strips, and I hope that they continue this. As a side note I would also mention that I would love for the Oregonian to pick up The Boondocks as it is clearly one of the top strips out there right now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ok, I'm Convinced

I have struggled recently between two arguments on the Roberts nomination that both make sense to me, I had come to tell people that I supported the "politics of contrast" idea fronted by Armando at DailyKos, while I still felt that there was some validity to the "keep our powder dry" argument reserving our outrage for when an outrageous replacement for O'Conner that will make a difference is nominated. I have now been totally convinced by an argument, one that appealed ultimately to my lack of conviction about either of the other ideas. In short, they are both correct to some extent.
There's an epic performance in progress on the stage of US history, but we're not actors in this drama. We're not even in the intended audience. Neither are the media, the interest groups, the voting publics of 2006 or 2008 (with limited exceptions) ... nor (with very limited exceptions) are most members of the Senate, of either party.

Hint: the people who should care already do care. The people who need to "get it" already get it. Why don't our leaders pull out all the stops against Roberts? Because they care, and because they get it.

The thigh bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the shin bone, and there is intelligence to this strategic design. It's been inaptly described as "keeping our powder dry" ... but it's really a matter of signal contrast.

Begin with Chuck Schumer's "devil's bargain" (my paraphrase):
What would you have paid the Devil, at the start of his presidency, for a guarantee that Bush would leave SCOTUS no worse than he found it? A lot, probably. So far, Roberts is no worse than Rehnquist ... just younger, plausibly more circumspect, and a stronger counter to Scalia's dominant intellect.

And O'Connor's 5-4 swing seat is still in play.

The next nominee -- whoever he or she may be -- will receive every Republican vote. Our only stopper is the filibuster.

Democrats start with 38 seats outside the anti-nuclear 7+7 Our Gang Comity compact. To sustain a filibuster we must hold all 38 votes, and then find a way to get to 41. (Or 42 for a margin of safety, and to forestall unbearable pressure on #41.)

We've got nothing unless the Gang of Fourteen breaks ranks.

They'll need strong reasons -- "extraordinary circumstances", and then some -- to vote against cloture. In some cases, this vote will run counter to their personal and principled (conservative, pro-life or institutional) convictions.

To move these votes, leadership and the caucus majority must emphasize the intensity of their principled opposition ... and by extension, the intensity of repercussions within the caucus, and in the party activist core, and in a post-2006 Senate.

If 35 D's vote 'Nay' on Roberts, there's no space to the left for a contrasting message on (say) a Janice Rogers Brown. No contrast, no message. No message, no impact.

But 17 Nay's on Roberts would define a baseline from which 37 Nay's would project a contrasting signal to the attention of Democrats #38, 39, 40, 41, and 42.

If 30-plus Dem's vote against Roberts, they will win our approval ... but it means we've already conceded the next round.

If we sell out to the bare walls now, the other side knows exactly what we've got ... and we lose both the potential for contrast and the marginal advantage of strategic ambiguity. That's what we've got. That's ALL we've got, and if we give it up, there's no burden of guesswork on the other side. Done deal, on their terms.

Next time, we could still fail to deter the worst possible nomination. We could fail to mount and sustain a filibuster. We could be outgunned in a Nuclear Option showdown.

But at least we've dragged the showdown down the calendar ...

o it's high drama, with possible surprise endings. We're not in the show. We're not in the intended audience. And -- Shhhhhh!!! -- the curtain is about to go up on Act II.

Desperate Dems Try to Bring Back Former Governor

Democrats worried about Kulongoski's low poll numbers and apparent vulnerability in the 2006 midterms are working to bring back former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as a primary challenger to the struggling incumbent. I love Kitzhaber, but it doesn't look like he's seriously entertaining this idea at all.
But, he added: "It would take an awful lot to make me believe that I could do more good for the world Logan (his 7-year-old son) will inherit with another four years as governor rather than with what I'm doing privately."

Rumors about a potential Kitzhaber candidacy have swirled in recent weeks. Given the chance to rule it out entirely, the two-term Democrat didn't. Instead, he grinned and said such a move is "hard to imagine" and that he has no plans to run.

Who is Bianca?

President Bush recently called on "Bianca" in a press briefing, but strangely enough Bianca wasn't even in the press room.

Q Why is it taking so long to secure the border at Syria? And do you really think that the Iraqis can secure it if the U.S. troops have been unsuccessful to do it so far?

THE PRESIDENT: It takes a while to secure the border with Syria because it is a long border that has had smuggling routes in existence for decades. In order to secure a border, it requires cooperation on both sides of the border, and we're getting limited cooperation from Syria. We've made it clear to Syria we expect them to help us secure their border and to stop the transit of suiciders coming from other countries through Syria into Iraq. Their response hasn't been very satisfactory to date. I continue to remind them of their obligation.

And so it's a long border. One of the things is that we need to continue to train the Iraqis to be better controllers of the border, and that's one of the missions that General Casey briefed us on today.

Bianca. Nobody named Bianca? Well, sorry Bianca's not here. I'll be glad to answer her question.

Q I'll follow up.

THE PRESIDENT: No, that's fine. (Laughter.) Thank you though, appreciate it. Just trying to spread around the joy of asking a question.

Billmon theorizes about the identity of Bianca.
NEW YORK (AP) Rock diva and human rights activist Bianca Jagger reacted with puzzlement and disbelief Thursday night when told that the President of the United States was looking for her in Washington.

"I've never even met the bastard," said the 60-year old ex-wife of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger. "Unless it was during my blackout period . . . or his blackout period. Was he ever involved with David Bowie?"

Jagger angrily denied rumors that she had been prompted by White House staffers to ask the president a softball question about his work on behalf of human rights.

"Human rights? Are you out of your mind? The man has been a absolute disaster for human rights. The only question I want to ask him is when will he do the right thing and hand himself in to the International Criminal Court . . . Are you sure he was never involved with David Bowie?"

Mr. Bowie was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, in Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan insisted the president and Ms. Jagger were "old friends," who had often "shared a few lines" in the back room at Studio 54, the famous '70s New York disco club.

"The president distinctly recalls Bianca telling him she'd show tonight," McClellan explained. "Now that he's back on the sauce, he wants to hook up with that old crowd he ran with back in the day. Just for a few laughs and, you know, so he can lick some cocaine off Bianca's boobies."

Thanks to Armando at Dailykos for the tip off.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Armando Way Over the Top

Front pager Armando has gone way over the top over at DailyKos in this outrageous attack on Baucus. Baucus is wrong to support Roberts, I believe that, but to go this far in attacking him for it is absolutely unreasonable. I did not comment for other posters have said far better of this post than I could. Here is one that I found particularly useful.
A perfect caricature of a hysterical lefty (4.00 / 6)

Armando, I think you need to breathe into a sack! You are spewing a lot of ignorant crap about Sen. Max Baucus, and you don't know what you are talking about.

Baucus disrespects the values of the Democratic Party? He is a tool for the repugs? Educate yourself, brother...

Max Baucus' ratings:

NARAL - 100%
National Farmers Union - 100%
Americans for the Arts - 100%
ACLU - 78%
NAACP - 88%
Leadership Council on Civil Rights - 100%
NEA - 85%
PTA - 73%
American Assoc. of University Women - 100%
Business and Prof. Women USA - 100%
AFL-CIO - 92%
Postal Workers Union - 92%
SEIU - 100%
CWA - 100%
AFSCME - 82%
American Bar Assoc - 100%
Americans for Democratic Action - 85%
NCO Assoc - 100%
Bread for the World - 100%
Population Connection - 100%
Population Action International - 100%
Information Technology Industry Council - 100%
Partnership for the Homeless - 100%

On the other hand:

Family Research Council - 0%
Eagle Forum - 20%

Disagree with Baucus over the Roberts nomination if you like, but your blanket declarations of party apostasy are shrill in the extreme. You give the progressive movement a bad name. This hysteria does more harm than good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Alan Alda on The Daily Show

"Republicans are just as capable of having great ideas as anyone else, they just don't do it."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Word Verification Tool Turned On

Please do not let this prevent you from commenting, it is an extra hurdle, but should be very helpful in preventing comment spam.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Canadian Workers Win Union In Hostile Territory

Wal Mart workers in Cranbrook BC have voted to form a Union, and it has been certified by the BC Labor Relations Board. The word on the street is that Wal Marts union busting days are over in Canada, hope that soon we can say the same about the United States. Hat tip to diarist JR Monsterfodder at DailyKos.

Brian Williams Exposes How Little Bush Really Cares About New Orleans

Good Reporting, bad politics. What the hell? The President is in town so you turn the lights on, the President leaves town and you turn them back off!?
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.


Google "miserable failure" and click on the first link that comes up. Then go back to Google, type in "worst president" and click on the first link that comes up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Santorum in Deep Shit

At this stage in the game no incumbent should be down this far, Casey starting to really pull ahead of Santorum in Pennsylvania.
The Strategic Vision survey, conducted Saturday through Monday, gives Casey a 14-point lead over the second-term senator, with the Democrat at 52 percent and the Republican at 38 percent. Seven percent of the 1,200 likely voters interviewed were undecided.

And from a partison Republican pollster, these are amazing numbers. If this keeps up at all Santorum is a sitting duck, so much for his Presidential aspirations.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush Envisions a Pre 1940 America For All

Think Progress exposes the Bush vision for dealing with the humanitarian disaster of Hurrican Katrina. It includes eliminating wage floors on government contracts, refusing to cover those displaced by the Hurricane under MediCare, and the gem of the plan, reinstating segregation in public schools.

Dude, Come Off It

Michael Newdow's personal crusade against the pledge of allegiance is getting more than a little annoying. Leaving out the fact that he is right, he lacks all credibility after suing on behalf of his daughter who he a) didn't have custody over and b) didn't even agree with him. Now Newdow has brought a new suit filed on behalf of three unnamed parents in California. The case has won in the District Court in San Francisco, and will probably face appeal to the 9th Circuit and eventually the Supreme Court again.

Now what is up with this? If a black man says he's been discriminated against does the Associated Press say in every other sentence that he's black, harping upon it so as to hammer it well into the unsuspecting reader's brain? Wait, I don't think I understood that Newdow is an atheist the first 6 times you said it AP, why don't you say it again just to clarify?

Just to clarify I firmly believe that Newdow was right, I would just prefer that someone else argue the case, because Newdow has no credibility with anyone anymore. Further, this is not the wisest timing for the suit, everyone knows that if forced to rule on the Constitutional question that the Court dodged two years ago they will rule to keep the pledge in place, this should wait until the Court is a little more sympathetic to the idea.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More on the Death Penalty

Yet another example of how the death penalty fails to serve the cause of justice. Please look at this Diary at DailyKos.
Frances Newton was accused of killing her husband and children for the "insurance money" back in 1987. But Frances' new lawyer, David Dow, the head of the Innocence Network at the University of Houston Law Center, has discovered evidence that proves otherwise. Frances believes her husband was killed by a drug dealer, who he owed $1,500. Frances' brother thought this as well, and told police that he could lead them to the drug dealer's home. But the police never investigated that lead. And even though Frances passed a lie detector test, even though she had no blood on her clothes or car (in what was a very bloody crime), and no gunpowder residue was found on her hands, the police arrested her. According to prosecutors, Frances was supposed to have killed her family, cleaned up all of the evidence, and then returned to the crime scene, all in 30 minutes.

Her first attorney, ironically named, Mock, made a mockery of her defense. Actually there was no defense. On the day of her trial he could not name one witness he had interviewed and called no witnesses at the trial. The parents of the Newton's murdered husband asked to testify at the trial in Frances's behalf, but were not called.
According to a recent article in the Austin Chronicle, "Ron Mock has since been brought before the state bar's disciplinary board at least five times on various charges of professional misconduct, for which he has been fined and sometimes suspended; he is currently suspended from practicing law until late 2007."

Monday, September 12, 2005

The ColdStone Scam

I was in ColdStone Creamery today in McMinnville, and was examining the menu as I stood in line. On the left they had a board that posted special ice cream concoctions that they will make for $3.99 (remember the price, its important). On the middle board it had the create your own concoction prices at $3.09 including one free "add-in". Additional add ins were $0.49. I looked at the Rocky Road on the board and it said it was chocolate with almonds and marshmallows. So, if I order a chocolate for $3.09 and add-in marshmallows as my first add in, I can add in the walnuts for another $0.49. That gets me to $3.58 and I have the exact same thing that the other board listed at $3.99. Explain that to me? The person working at the store didn't seem to get it when I explained this to her, but this is quite the little scam to rip off innocent customers who like Rocky Road ice cream.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm speechless

Police prevent New Orleans evacuees from leaving the city. I'm speechless, just digusting.
Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said.

The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there.

Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said.

"The police kept saying, 'We don't want another Superdome,' and 'This isn't New Orleans,' " said Larry Bradshaw, a San Francisco paramedic who was among those fleeing.

Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna, La., Police Department, confirmed that his officers, along with those from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection Police, sealed the bridge.

"There was no place for them to come on our side," Mr. Lawson said.

Friday, September 09, 2005

4th Circuit Court of Appeals Says President Can do Whatever the Hell He Wants in a Time of War

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the President unchecked authority to arrest anyone he feels like. In Hanft v. Padilla the Circuit Court ruled that the President can detain "suspected terrorists" (whatever that is) as long as the state of war with Al-Qaeda exists, the Administration has stated many times (correctly) that it could pretty much last forever. So, the lesson here: don't piss off your government, because you have no rights anymore. If Bush doesn't like you he can call you an "enemy combatant" and give you a life sentence just by saying "you're a terrorist." King George now rules the United States if the 4th Circuit ruling stands, you have no rights, the only voice that matters is the President's say so, sounds to me like the autocratic power of say Hitler, or Stalin, of Pinochet, or Rosas, or Mao, or Santa Ana. An interesting name arises in this discussion. John Luttig, who wrote the opinion, is among the few individuals rumored to be the future nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Luttig's decision seems based nearly in its entirety on a gross misreading of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Luttig argues:
because, like Hamdi, Padilla is an enemy combatant, and because
his detention is no less necessary than was Hamdi’s in order to
prevent his return to the battlefield, the President is
authorized by the AUMF to detain Padilla as a fundamental
incident to the conduct of war.

But while Luttig proceeds with such bizarre arguments that the Court upheld the right of the President to detain American citizens as "enemy combatants." A reading of the decision in Hamdi tells us that they quite clearly ruled that Hamdi must be allowed basic due process rights in accordance with the 5th and 6th Amendments, but Luttig clearly seems to think that they ruled the opposite.
We hold that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged here, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker.

Thus in accordance with the Hamdi decision the 4th Circuit should have ruled that Mr. Padilla cannot be detained without due process and the President must allow him to challenge his detention, see the body of evidence against him, and speak with a lawyer. None of these are rights that have been accorded to Padilla, and the 4th Circuit seems to have a difficult time comprehending their existence.
We hold that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged here, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker.

This ruling is in desperate need to be reconciled with previous precedent, as well as an apparent reading of due process that we have these basic rights of due process guaranteed by the 5th and 6th amendment, Hamdi provides the recent precedent that the 4th Circuit cannot seem to reconcile with, but how does the 4th circuit get off reconciling this ruling with ex parte Milligan?
Congress could grant no such power (to suspend habeas corpus and try US citizens in military Courts) and to the honor of our national legislature be it said, it has never been provoked by the state of the country even to attempt its exercise. One of the plainest Constitutional provisions was, therefore, infringed when Milligan was tried by a court not ordained and established by Congress, and not composed of judges appointed during good behavior.

So the Ex Parte Milligan Court couldn't imagine how the President reconciles military tribunals with the 6th Amendment, while Luttig and the 4th Circuit have no problem giving the President power to bypass the legal system in its entirety. Luttig bumbles inarticulately to try to reconcile his decision with Milligan and fails miserably attempting to turn the Milligan decision into a statement of innocence of Milligan instead of the statement of Constitutionally guaranteed rights that it was.

The establishment press insists that the nomination battles are about abortion. They are liars. The folks at DailyKos insist that its really about interstate commerce, they are wrong. The real battle in the Supreme Court is about all of these things, but most of all about Presidential power. All of the discussed potential nominees to replace Justice O’Connor share one common trait. Most of them are against privacy, this is true, most want to eliminate Congress' interstate commerce power, this also is true, but what they all share is a strong deference to Presidential power. Allowing the kind of misuse of power that has gone on in the government's treatment of Padilla would spell the end of American Democracy as we know it.

Cross posted at DailyKos

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New York Times Hits and Misses

The New York Times in an Editorial yesterday hit on some good points on Judge Roberts, but also missed the point noticeably at the same time.
The Bush administration could make the Senate's job easier by handing over all the documents Mr. Roberts prepared when he worked for the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. And when Judge Roberts is questioned at his confirmation hearing, he should speak candidly and at some length about his views on important legal issues and precedents.

Very true, but they seem to miss the point that it is not an option for the President to hand over the Roberts documents, it should be a must. The very fact that confirmation hearings on Roberts will proceed without the release of those documents only goes to prove the degree to which the Senate has become a rubber stamp for this President's judicial nominations. The Senate should and must use its full power to check the authority of the executive, and that includes full disclosure on the President's appointments to the Supreme Court. Democrats and Republicans alike should determine not to proceed with the confirmation until those documents are released. But this Senate refuses to use its authority and thus yields unbelievable power to the Presidency. What the New York Times, and indeed much of the public misses here is that the checks and balances of our system are rapidly decaying. With the possibility of the nuclear option looming large over all judicial nominations, and the elimination of the blue-slip rule party has become far more important in Washington than Country, leading us to no longer be the Democracy built on Separation of Powers that we thought we were to what is essentially a limited dictatorship. If another hard right Justice is nominated and confirmed by the Senate we will likely see even the overturning of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and the end to your rights to due process of law. Even the allegedly more "moderate" Abu Gonzalez is so favorable towards Presidential power that American Democracy as we know it could fall by the way-side.

That said, the change in what Roberts has been nominated for creates a kind of indifference to his nomination. I have thought since his name came up, and the opinion has grown on me more as time has passed that Roberts is very much like the late Chief Justice Rehnquist, therefore he was an unsuitable replacement for O'Conner, but no longer is for Rehnquist. The Times finishes off.
Some Democrats have urged that he make his second nomination, for the seat occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, before the Senate takes up Judge Roberts's nomination. That seems reasonable. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died on Saturday, was a very conservative jurist, and from what we know about Judge Roberts, it is clear that President Bush has nominated a very conservative man to take his place. It is also important to know the president's plans for filling the seat held by the more moderate Justice O'Connor.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Roberts Nominated For Chief Justice

wow, it took Bush all of about 32 hours to come up with who he wanted to be the new Chief Justice. The stakes on the Roberts nomination just went down. Democrats need to make their opposition to Roberts known, and need to ask questions in committee that will reveal his views, thus we can treat Roberts as Rehnquist's successor instead of O'Conner's and insist on someone more like O'Conner as her replacement. There is no longer any need to try to block Roberts no matter what he says in committee, Democrats need to be very clear that Bush has picked a staunch conservative much like Rehnquist to succeed the Chief Justice, and now another such conservative as O'Conner's replacement is absolutely unacceptable.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bad Reporting

The Washington Post and Newsweek have now both run the exact same claim easily demonstrated to be false that Louisianna Governor Blanco was "slow to declare a state of emergency," and that this delay prompted the slow Federal response. All they had to do was look at the declaration of a State of Emergency dated August 26 to tell that this was bogus. Just because an anonymous White House tipster tells you something doesn't mean its true, how could it possibly hurt to, after recieving this tip, go check it out and see that its true. As Josh Marshall notes.
But in this case, this is a straightforward factual assertion. What you do in such a case is find out whether it's true or not. If it is, you don't need to source it to your tipster. You run it as a fact. What you don't do is take an interested party's say-so on an easily verifiable claim and run it as a blind quote.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Class in America

In the midst of Hurricane Katrina one is brought to think about an issue that Americans don't like to think about. Race and class in America, we are trained from our earliest days to think that class does not matter in America. If I were to summarize the result of Hurricane Katrina I would direct you to the movie Dirty Pretty Things when Okwe meets the Doctor, and the Doctor does not recognize him.
The doctor: How come I've never seen you people before?
Okwe: Because we are the people you do not see. We are the ones who drive your cabs. We clean your rooms. And suck your cocks.

What Hurrican Katrina has revealed so starkly in New Orleans is that it does. It has brought to the forefront of our minds "the people you do not see."
"We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and those who died in the great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md. "It would be unconscionable to stand by and do nothing."

When 80 percent of the city's population, according to the mayor, evacuated before Hurricane Katrina, that left behind those with no cars, no resources, no way out. Twenty-one percent of Orleans Parish households earn less than $10,000 a year. Nearly 27,000 families are below the poverty level. Most of those families are black.

Larry E. Davis, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center on Race and Social Problems, said images of the disaster are an embarrassment to this nation.

"It suggests that the residuals of a racist legacy are still very much intact," he said. "It's as though you are looking at a picture of an African country."

Racial disparity in access to health care has been documented. Last December, the American Journal of Public Health reported that 886,000 African American deaths could have been prevented between 1991-2000 if they had the same care as whites.

Indeed the response has been slow, and inept in a situation where those who are well off were able to get out, and those who are poor were stranded at the convention center and any other of many places arround the City.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the world is seeing a sea of black faces, interspersed with a few low-income whites. The population of New Orleans, home of jazz, gumbo and lagniappe -- which means a little something extra -- is nearly 70 percent black. And very, very poor.

The reason many of those left behind didn't evacuate was that they didn't have a car or enough gas to make it to safety. Or they couldn't imagine leaving behind Ma'Dear, who lost both legs to diabetes.
Native Cajuns were already oppressed before the hurricane swallowed their remaining hope. The public schools are inadequate. Jobs are scarce. A simmering undercurrent of black-on-black violence is as thick there as jambalaya.

Add hunger. No electricity. No running water. No air conditioning. And no available medicine or medical care. Throw in the images of dead corpses and animal carcasses floating on downtown streets. Mix in the potential for epidemics of dysentery, tetanus and cholera.

The people who have been stranded, without food or water for several days now, must certainly feel forgotten, neglected and abandoned.

New Orleans' bad element, already flourishing in this city flush with danger and seduction, even intimidates the cops. And folks without any other way to get attention from rescue helicopters are shooting as the whirlybirds approach -- not to harm, but because their shouts don't reach high enough.

The media are adding to the confusion. Two different newswire captions for pictures of people carrying soggy groceries as they wade through chest-deep water describe a black man as "looting" and two white people as "finding." changed the wording Thursday, however, after the photos made the rounds on blogs and e-mail lists.

Enter John Edwards, the only major political figure who seems to be able to talk about class. Here is a man who understands what is really going on here, the issues of class that he spoke about in the Presidential primaries have been brought to the front pages of our newspapers and the images on the television. While the most important thing to talk about right now is an effective releif operation, it is high time, while the Country still has the images of Katrina's devastation for Democrats to talk about class, as it is the very basis of our entire economic argument.
Commentators on television have expressed surprise, saying they think that most people didn't know there was such poverty in America. Thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty, most of them are the working poor, but it is clear that they have been invisible. But if these commentators are right, this tragedy can have a great influence, if we listen to its message.
The people most devastated have always lived on a razor blade, afraid of any setback, any illness, any job loss that could disrupt the fragile balance they achieved paycheck to paycheck. They didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. Some didn't leave their homes because they wanted to protect the hard-won possessions that made their lives a little easier.

The government released new poverty statistics this week. The number of Americans living in poverty rose again last year. Thirteen million children -- nearly one in every five -- lives in poverty. Close to 25 percent of all African Americans live in poverty. Twenty-three percent of the population in New Orleans lives in poverty. Those are chilling numbers. Because of Katrina, we have now seen many of the faces behind those numbers.

Poverty exists everywhere in America. It is in Detroit and El Paso. It is in Omaha, Nebraska and Stockton, California. It is in rural towns like Chillicothe, Ohio and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Nearly half of the children in Detroit, Atlanta and Long Beach, California live in poverty. It doesn't have to be this way. We can begin embracing policies that offer opportunity, reward responsibility, and assume the dignity of each American.

There are immediate needs in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and the first priority is meeting those, but after that, we need to think about the American community, about the one America we think we are, the one we talk about. We need people to feel more than sympathy with the victims, we need them to feel empathy with our national community that includes the poor. We have missed opportunities to make certain that all Americans would be more than huddled masses. We have been too slow to act in the face in the misery of our brothers and sisters. This is an ugly and horrifying wake-up call to America. Let us pray we answer this call. Now is the time to act.

Here's to the victems of Katrina, to the poor and downtrodden in America. And in the future may you cease to be "the people you do not see", may we understand your problems, and show more humanity towards our fellow human beings than we have for a very long time.

Cross posted at DailyKos.

Breaking: Chief Justice Rehnquist Has Died

Chief Justice William Rehnquist has died tonight after serving as Chief Justice for 19 years, and serving on the High Court for 23 years.

So, what's next for the Court? After they press the radical, but relatively undocumented John Roberts through the Senate, what wingnut will they force through next? Rumors were strong prior to the nomination of Roberts that Bush would appoint Edith Jones to replace Rehnquist, will her name return to the national spotlight once again as a Supreme Court nominee? Should Democrats attempt to stall the Roberts confirmation to see who Bush appoints in Rehnquist's place?

This new piece of the puzzle adds new dimensions and harder questions to the Supreme Court battle that is soon to take place (Robert's confirmation hearings begin on Tuesday Sept 6).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Harry Reid Calls Out the Republican Leadership

The first thing on the minds of Republicans on top of the hurricane Katrina disaster is the Estate Tax repeal. Harry Reid tries to shame those who have no shame, via Atrios.
(WASHINGTON, DC)--“I am surprised at the Republican leadership's insensitivity toward the events of the last week. With thousands presumed dead after Hurricane Katrina and families uprooted all along the Gulf Coast, giving tax breaks to millionaires should be the last thing on the Senate's agenda. I understand that the Senate shouldn't grind to a halt as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but there are issues that are of much greater importance both to the people directly affected by the hurricane as well as the nation as a whole than estate tax repeal.

“This shouldn't even be a choice. Families have been torn apart and homes have been washed in four states. These victims deserve the Senate's time, not the handful of millionaires repealing the Estate Tax will affect. I once again urge Senator Frist to reconsider his decision. Gulf Coast families are counting on us. They are suffering, and they have no where else to turn. We owe it to them to make their safety and survival our top priority, and we should give them nothing less. Regardless of how one feels about the estate tax, we should all be able to agree that the Senate's attention should be on the victims of this crisis.

The Real Looting