Monday, October 31, 2005

How Dems Win, Battling Alito Nomination

Polls are often very revealing....if one knows where to look and what to look for.

The latest USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll shows what the Democratic strategy on Alito and the entire Supreme Court nomination process needs to be. It is crystal clear.

According to the poll, when asked whether someone who is a "conservative" is essential as a qualification for Supreme Court justice, the breakdown was:
21% Essential
24% Good idea, not essential
32% Doesn't matter
20% Bad idea
3% No opinion.

By a 45-20 count, Americans have bought into the notion that a "Conservative" is good for the Court. The rhetoric works.

Except when that rhetoric is translated into something tangible.


When the question becomes how essential it is for the next justice to be someone who would overturn Roe V. Wade on abortion there is a radical shift:

16% Essential
16% Not essential, but good idea
20% Doesn't matter
42% Bad idea
6% No opinion

We now go to a 42-32 plus for the Democratic position, a huge swing from the 45-20 that is allegedly pro-conservative.

What this poll clearly demonstrates is that the public does not fully understand that the type of conservative that Bush is appointing to the court is a man who will overturn Roe V. Wade. Everything the Democrats do in this process needs to be focused on alerting the public that 'Conservative,' in a judicial sense, means the taking away of a woman's choice. We need to make sure that the word 'Conservative' has the proper connotations attached to it, and not just the false stature that GOP pundits imbue it with.

The GOP is winning the war on image, but when reality is presented, that victory turns into defeat.

Revealing Alito Ruling Should Rile Latinos

Since the man does have a paper trail I did a little exploring on some of Judge Samuel Alito's prior rulings.

An enlightening tidbit...

I wonder how the Latino community will view the following Alito decision, which allowed potential jurors to be excluded from a jury, for speaking a foreign language.

From Trial Magazine (7/1/94) comes this interesting ruling:

"Excluding potential jurors because they speak a foreign language does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

"A three-judge panel reversed a district court ruling and upheld two New Jersey drug convictions. It rejected arguments by the defendants that the prosecutor's use of peremptory strikes to remove all Spanish-speaking jurors amounted to discrimination against Hispanics. (Pemberthy v. Beyer, 19 F.3d 857 (3d Cir. Mar. 16, 1994).)

"'[N]o simple equation can be drawn between ethnicity and language,' Judge Samuel Alito wrote. 'Sociologists recognize language as only one of the many components of ethnicity.'

"Alan Zegas, an attorney in West Orange, New Jersey, who represents defendant Gabriel Pemberthy, said the effect of the decision will be 'to deny Latino defendants a jury of their peers.' By excluding Spanish speakers, he said, 'you are by definition excluding the entire Latino population from the jury.'"

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Why is Cheney 'Cabal' Story Being Buried?

If ever a story exemplified the dereliction of duty by the mainstream media, it is the way they have covered remarks this week by Col. Larry Wilkerson.

In comments made at the New America Foundation, a D.C. think tank, Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former Chief-of-Staff at the State Department, said the following:

"'What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,' Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told a stunned audience at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

"'We have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time,' he said. 'And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.'

"'The Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process' over going to war in Iraq and the shambles that was made of the nation's reconstruction, Wilkerson said. Cheney and Rumsfeld now preside over 'a concentration of power that is just unparalleled' in U.S. history,' he said."

Have you read this story? The odds are heavily stacked against it.

I have read 2 columnists rightly questioning why this story has not gotten higher priority. In the Huffington Post, Cenk Uyger wrote, "when a top former Bush administration official comes out and says the White House has been taken over by a cabal and that George Bush is overmatched for his position, I would say that qualifies as headline news."

One of the best columnists writing on the web today, Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post has addressed this 2 days in a row.

Froomkin, the day the story was first reported, on October 20th, wrote, "It didn't make the front page this morning, but it seems to me that it's a big deal when a former top administration official declares that a secret cabal led by the vice president has hijacked U.S. foreign policy, inveigled the president, condoned torture and crippled the ability of the government to respond to emergencies."

The following day, Froomkin referred back to the story and writes, "There's virtually no follow-up whatsoever in today's papers."

Which leads me to wonder, why are the American people being shut out from learning about these comments? We are not talking about the extremist fringe here. These comments were made by Colin Powell's right-hand man.

So who is the MSM protecting?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Say 'No' To Pro-Life, 'Yes' To Pro-Ban

The only thing one needs to know to understand how the left and center have allowed the right-wing to control the national discourse are the word 'liberal' and the term 'pro-life.'

It has only been recently that 'liberal' has begun to be re-claimed for the proud heritage behind the name, so now let's adopt a strategy to fight the fraudulent term 'pro-life.'

When it comes to defining ones position in the abortion debate, the term 'pro-choice' is perfectly acceptable, because even the opposition would agree that they are against the right of a woman to choose. Using the term 'pro-choice' does not denigrate their position.

However, use of the term 'pro-life' makes the assumption that those who take the opposing view are 'anti-life,' which is a fallacious argument. That might be the case if those who support abortion rights buy into the assertion that life begins at conception, which many don't. And even if those who do believe that life begins at conception support the right for others to decide for themselves, the appropriateness of having an abortion, it hardly makes them 'anti-life.'

While others have used the term 'anti-choice' to label those who would ban abortion, I can understand why the mainstream media does not adopt it. It takes sides. It labels one side negatively. Seriously, whether it is honest or not, who would want their position to be labeled with an 'anti' anything?

And that brings me to 'pro-ban.'

'Pro-ban' is the flipside to 'pro-choice.' One side represents the right of a woman to choose an abortion, the other side supports a ban on abortions. And it uses lingo that doesn't demonize the opposition.

A term like 'pro-ban' accurately represents their position in favor of banning abortion, while giving respect to the opposition as being 'anti-ban.'

Incidentally, a search on Google found the following results for these entries:
pro-choice 3,610,000
pro-life 5,290,000

We are losing the battle of words and with it the battle of perceptions.

So how about it? Can we start a campaign to contact mainstream media outlets when they use the term 'pro-life' and ask them to use this more accurate term that does not denigrate those who support a woman's right to choose?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Will Someone Ask Bush This Question?

Since Dubya repeatedly says that Miers will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench, will some journalist please ask Bush the following....."Mr. President, do you feel that the verdict in Roe v. Wade was an example of legislating from the bench?"

This way, the public can finally cut to the chase on this.

As far as the overall "legislate from the bench" jargon goes, Edward Lazarus has a good piece up on the Find Law blog.

In getting to the bottom of the lingo, Lazarus writes:

"The nature of Miers's nomination may well have made such revelations inevitable. On the one hand, in order to stay true to longstanding Administration strategy, President Bush has to promote Miers as a strict constructionist who will not "legislate from the bench."

"But on the other hand, because Miers is such an unknown even in GOP circles, right-wing skeptics of her nomination are demanding actual evidence that Miers will carry their agenda - and make no mistake, this is a highly political agenda, not a neutral "carry out the law as written and respect precedent" agenda -- onto the Court.

"Most importantly, they are looking for assurances not about neutral decisionmaking or interpretive method, but rather about results: They want to know, with certainty, that Miers will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. From their perspective, simply declaring Miers to be a strict constructionist is not enough.

"As a result, the Administration finds itself torn between directly conflicting imperatives. It has to say that Miers won't base her legal thinking on her values, in order to position her as a strict constructionist. Yet at the same time, the only way the Administration can credibly reassure its conservative base that it can trust Miers to "do the right thing," is to hint strongly that Miers's evangelical Christian values will make her a conservative standard bearer on the Court."

The Demonizing Of Bushco's Enemies

At the Crooks and Liars blog there is a perfect representation of the way that Bushco wages war on perceived enemies. It concerns Press Secretary Scott McClellan and his attack on veteran journalist Helen Thomas, during his October 13th press briefing.

Angered by questions from Ms. Thomas that challenged McClellan on intertwining 9/11 and Iraq, McClellan commented that Thomas was "opposed to the broader war on terrorism."

Witness the following exchange:

(Note: The initial questioning is by Thomas)

"Q What does the President mean by "total victory" -- that we will never leave Iraq until we have "total victory"? What does that mean?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions --

"Q If they ask us to leave, then we'll leave?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I'm trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East -- we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

"Q They also know we invaded Iraq.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --

"Q It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.


"Q On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

"Q And speak for her, which is odd.

"MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she's expressed her concerns --

"Q I'm opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

"MR. McCLELLAN: -- she's expressed her concerns. "

It is so quintissentially Bushco. Attack the loyalty and patriotism of any who would dare to question your policies.

In this case, kudos to Terry Moran for calling McClellan on it and putting him on the defensive for using the tactic.

Wouldn't it be nice if the MSM chose to highlight moments such as these in their coverage of these exercises in futility, led uncomfortably by an obviously demoralized McClellan?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Did Dubya Really Not Know?

I find it a bit odd that George W. is getting what seems to be a free pass in the media on Plamegate.

Doesn't any reporter think it might be possible that Bush not only knew, but encouraged the outing of Valerie Plame?

Typical of coverage is today's porridge from the AP on Karl Rove's allegedly directly telling both Bush and Scott McLellan that he was not responsible for blowing Plame's cover.

But think about it, this is at a time when Bush and his posse felt that they could pretty much do anything they wanted. His approval rating was still relatively high and Bush had to have been aware of other dirty tricks perpetuated in his name. So why would something of this magnitutde not be discussed with Bush, or Cheney for that matter.

I, for one, would be surprised if Dubya wasn't in the loop. However, I cannot imagine one of the boys ratting him out either?

So let's see who gets sacrificed at the altar, to become a future pardon down the road.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What do George Bush, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have in common?

Apparently, God selects the simplest among us to deliver the Divine message.

According to AFP, the answer to "who would Jesus bomb?" has been revealed.


Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza didn't know what he was in for. On his "The Fix" blog on the Post website, Mr. Cillizza had an item, "Dean Pops Off," trashing Howard Dean's appearance on "Hardball."

Cillizza's 2 excerpts from that interview chose to stereotype and marginalize Dean. The first reference was to Dean's use of the term "hide the salami," in referring to White House tactics over the Miers nomination. Cillizza also seemed to be amazed that Dean would dare infer that Cheney had prior knowledge of the Plame outing, and also cited this Dean remark, "The M.O. of the Bush administration is to discredit your opponents and attack them personally rather than attack them for their position."

I was one of those who commented on the scape-goating of Dean. Many accused Cillizza of being a tool of the RNC. But, what amazed me, was the unanimity of the comments against Cillizza. I realize that the Post will more likely than not garner a liberal readership, but the comments were extremely critical, with hardly anybody coming to his defense. And the tone was especially harsh.

So harsh, in fact, that Cillizza followed it up with an assertion that the reaction against Dean was something he had heard from unnamed Democratic strategists.

That, of course, brought in yet another assault. As I pointed out in my comments, the Democratic strategists were one of the main reasons that the party sometimes appears to be 'GOP lite' and why we lose elections. We need politicians with a spine, who are willing to speak out.

At any rate, Cillizza's choice to hide behind unnamed sources, in the current, post-Judy Miller, Plamegate climate, was rather unfortunate. And, judging by the comments, it seemed to backfire on him.

Maybe we really are mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore.

One would only hope.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Meirs' Past

It didn't take long, researching into Harriet Meirs' background to uncover some interesting tidbits:

1)In Money Magazine (8/1/87), Harriet Meirs' name comes up in her role as a lawyer, representing a Dallas mortgage firm, charged with fraud. The report yielded the following:

"Regulators in a handful of states have filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislation designed to keep lenders from slipping Houdini-like out of lock-in agreements. Last summer Pennsylvania imposed emergency lock-in guidelines for mortgage brokers. Pennsylvania attorney general LeRoy S. Zimmerman also sued two brokers for alleged misrepresentations; the suit is still pending, but about 75 borrowers have come to acceptable settlements. This spring Zimmerman sued the nation's second largest mortgage banker, Dallas-based Lomas & Nettleton, charging that the company led borrowers to believe that quoted rates on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans were locked solid when they actually moved in tandem with the Veterans Administration (VA) loan rate. According to Harriet Miers, a Dallas lawyer representing Lomas & Nettleton, the company is cooperating with the Pennsylvania attorney general but denies wrongdoing and contends that the link between the FHA and VA rates was clearly stated in a clause on the back of its loan agreements. Miers adds, however: 'We have suspended use of the clause nationwide until the confusion is cleared up.'"

2) In 1996, as head of the Texas Lottery commission, The Washington Times (12/23/96) reported that, "As U.S. grand juries in Austin and Greenwich, R.I., sifted through contracts involving this and other Gtech projects, Miss Linares last week filed suit in Austin against her bosses - the state Lottery Commission - charging that the group had illegally silenced her and had improperly taken control of the day-to-day operation of the lottery.

"Harriet Miers, a Dallas lawyer who chairs the Lottery Commission, had angered Miss Linares and other lottery officials last week by getting permission from Gov. George W. Bush to send in a contingent of Texas Rangers to guard against what Mrs. Miers claimed were improprieties involving the agency's investigative files.

"More than 180 such files were "missing," Mrs. Miers claimed."

3) La Prensa de San Antonio (2/16/97) had the following to write, regarding an apparent conflict-of-interest, concerning Miers:

"As stated in a previous column, the State Lottery Commission announced that lottery profits over the next year are estimated at $2.7 billion. Lt. Gov. Bullock favors turning lottery profits over to public education. Most people agree that's how the lottery profits should be spent. However, the commission and some of its contractors believe in spending money on lobbyists' contributions to public officials and other questionable pursuits.

"Recently the press discovered and reported that GTECH, the lottery's main contractor, was contributing up to Ten Thousand to favored legislators.

"GTECH has a lobbyist contract with former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. GTECH pays Barnes 4 percent of the money it earns from the lottery. That's a lot of money for lobbyists.

"GSD&M does most of the lottery's advertising and received $40.2 million from its lottery work last year. In the past two years, it has paid Texas Lottery Chairman Harriet Miers' law firm $38,500. This is not only obscene; it's illegal.

"All of these shenanigans are only the tip of the lottery iceberg. Why doesn't Gov. George Bush demand a complete investigation and audit of the State Lottery Commission before its too late? Instead of Lottery profits going to lobbyist, questionable legal fees etc., it should be used for the education of our children."

And these 3 tidbits are just for starters. Hey, maybe in a Bush/DeLay/Frist/Rove dynasty, Ms. Miers may be the perfect choice after all.