January 27, 2006

Challenge to Democrats: 'NY Times' Calls for Filibuster on Alito
By Editor & Publisher Staff

NEW YORK. Although it has opposed the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme, it was by no means certain the The New York Times would take the strong step it announced on its editorial page on Friday: challenging the Democrats to launch a filbuster on the matter when a vote nears next week.

"A filibuster is a radical tool," the editorial admitted. "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."

The Times said that Alito's entire history "suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress... His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government ų and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead. more...

January 26, 2006

From August J. Pollak @ xoverboard.com
The 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey

Because maybe, just maybe, we draw the line at killing kittens with hammers.
A Modest Proposal for an immodest Presidency

On January 19, 2006, I initiated The 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey in an attempt to put a humorous spin on the idea that a vast percentage of conservatives simply support the President regardless of whatever he does.

Based on a recent cartoon, I decided that it would be a beneficial and worthwhile exercise to actually ask the question legitimately. In order to prove my seriousness, I offered a level-headed, open, and polite request to numerous right-wing pundits, bloggers, and other editorialists to respond to the survey. From more...

January 25, 2006

The Online Beat
JOHN NICHOLS
Feingold: Alito Would Be "Dangerous Addition" to Court

Not to be lost in the reporting on Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee vote to endorse the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to serve on the Supreme Court is the fact that U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, has voted for the first time in his Senate career against a Supreme Court nominee.

More than any other vote by a member of the committee -- which split 10-8 along partisan lines, with all Republicans backing Alito and all Democrats opposing his nomination -- Feingold's vote stands out.

While the seven other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had all voted against one or more Republican nominees for the high court, Feingold had, until Tuesday, voted to confirm every Supreme Court nominee, Republican or Democrat, to come before the panel.

This break in pattern by the man who is arguably the Senate's most adventurous thinker and independent player ought to serve as a basis for rethinking strategies with regard to blocking the nomination as it now moves to the full Senate -- up to and including the prospect of a filibuster. more...

January 24, 2006

The Great Republican Rip-Off
Froma Harrop

Once again, we have mob scenes of citizens begging for direction from their inept federal government. The botched launch of the Medicare drug benefit may not match the muddled response to Katrina in total tragedy, but it is causing trips to emergency rooms. Meanwhile, alarmed state officials are setting up crisis centers to ensure a continued flow of pills to their elderly and disabled populations.

How much more of this can the voters take? The Republicans running Washington are incapable of either designing a rational program or implementing it. And for all their talk of being the party of national security, you wonder how they would handle an unexpected terrorist attack when they can‚t even organize a drug plan with more than a year‚s lead time.   more...

**********

Alito's Clear And Present Danger
Paul Rogat Loeb

One decision doesn't make a career, but an alarm should have sounded when Chief Justice Roberts joined Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in overriding the will of Oregon voters and attempting to overrule Oregon's Death With Dignity law. Although the Court's current majority sustained the law, this was the first major split decision of the Roberts court. And by contradicting all his fine-sounding phrases about Federalist principles (much as the five justices did in Bush v. Gore) Roberts made clear that his political beliefs will guide his interpretations.  If there are doubts about his agenda, and where his loyalties lie, I'd suggest that this should bury them.

Many of us believed this would happen when we urged a no vote on Roberts. But he was well-spoken and pedigreed, praised moderation at every turn, and evaded the hard questions. The Democrats never mounted a serious challenge.

Now the Senate faces Alito, who has left a far more unambiguous trail supporting centralization of executive power, incursions of government into private life, and the right of corporations to avoid oversight and regulation. After hearings that illuminated nothing except his ability to play dodge ball, he's likely to receive considerably more negative votes.

But for the moment, the Democrats are still hesitant to filibuster. more...

January 23, 2006

Silencing the Tyrant: Saddam's Soviet-Style Show Trial is a Travesty of Justice Designed to Justify Iraq Invasion
by Eric Margolis  

Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad has become a circus. The presiding judge refuses to return to court, and defence lawyers have been murdered.

What to make of this spectacle? Emotionally, it's good to see the tyrant who terrorized so many on trial for his life. But morally and legally, Saddam's trial is a travesty of justice. This is an old-fashioned Soviet-style show trial set up by U.S. occupation authorities.

Its goal is not to determine Saddam's guilt or innocence, but to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- which, by the way, was a blatant violation of international law.

The court lacks any legal basis, being created by the puppet regime installed by the U.S. after the invasion.

Saddam has no proper legal defence. Witnesses remain secret and beyond cross-examination. Defence witnesses risk murder by Shia hit squads.

Pre-trial publicity -- the vast propaganda campaign by the U.S. to demonize Saddam -- and Iraqi TV programs (controlled by U.S. authorities) about Saddam's alleged crimes, would trigger a mistrial in any proper legal system.

In short, a kangaroo court, designed to find Saddam guilty and probably order his execution.

Dead dictators tell no tales. If allowed to fully testify, Saddam would reveal the whole sordid story of America's long, intimate collaboration with his regime, and how the U.S. and British governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher encouraged, armed and financed Iraq to invade Iran. more...

January 22, 2006

Bush, Rove Renew Vows
by Dood Abides
vows

Washington, DC (K Street Journal) - In a very simple ceremony this week, attended by friends, families, and party officials, George Bush and Karl Rove renewed their vows to each other. The ceremony was a formal, black tuxedo affair that took place in the bowels of the underground White House bunker complex with the press excluded from attendance. more...

**********

Molly Ivins: I won't support Hillary
By Molly Ivins

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges. more...

January 21, 2006

Pakistan: Why Blame America?
By Yamin Zakaria

The US air strikes carried out on the 13th of January 2006, on the remote Pakistani village of Damadola was a clear act of terrorism. Out of the 18 civilians killed, 10 were women and children. It seems US terrorism inside Pakistan is becoming routine, earlier on the 7th of January 2006 at least eight civilians were killed by the US helicopters attack. To be precise, such acts are state-terrorism or primary-terrorism as opposed to the usual: secondary-terrorism of individuals or groups! The bombings were indiscriminate and without warning, like the routine bombings of the defenceless Iraqi cities or the Palestinian villages and towns.

bsequently, the US tried to mitigate the severity of the crime, by claiming that they were targeting al-Qaeda members. Even if the alleged al-Qaeda members were present, that does not automatically give the US right to bomb houses inside a foreign territory, with total disregard for the innocent civilians. Unless, the US is above the law or inflicting collateral damages with impunity is an automatic entitlement for the leader of the free world! The air strike was a clear violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan, according to international law it was an act of war. So where is the UN now? Where is the Morgan Freeman look-alike UN-Muppet, Kofi Annan?

The US decision to bomb the village must have been based on credible őintelligence‚. In that case, why not surround the area with armed forces, and then give the innocent civilians in the village a safe passage to vacate, and demand the surrender of the alleged al-Qaeda members? For sure the US has more than adequate resources and firepower to take on a small band of men lightly armed. If this route was pursued, the al-Qaeda members would have been taken prisoners or they would have died resisting the US firepower. Taken alive they might have provided valuable information; if they died, that could be argued to have prevented future attacks on the US. Either result would have yielded benefit for the US. more...
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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
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Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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