January 18, 2006


Supreme Court Avoids Abortion Ruling

Supreme Court Justices ruled unanimously today that the lower courts were wrong in declaring a New Hampshire abortion law entirely unconstitutional. The Justices said that the courts should look for a less drastic way to fix the law's problems. Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote what could be her last opinion. O'Connor prefaced the opinion by writing that, "We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address the question of remedy."

Attacks Kill Dozens in Iraq

Nearly 50 Iraqis were killed today in several attacks around the country. Gunmen ambushed a heavily defended telecommunications convoy in the morning, killing 10 guards and kidnapping two African engineers. Other attacks throughout the country included attacks from gunmen and roadside bombings. On top of all the violence, Iraq is investigating the death of a 15 year old girl who suffered from symptoms similar to those of bird flu.

Democrats Reveal Their Own Rules on Lobbying

Congressional Democrats today proposed a lobbying overhaul they said far exceeds its Republican counterpart. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, "Today we as Democrats are declaring our commitment to change – change to a government as good and as honest as the people that we serve." House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that the Democratic plan is superior to the "vague and insufficient set of so-called reforms" proposed by Republicans.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs
The last open thread has been pushed way down, so here's another.

And while I have your attention, I need a programmer to create our own version of the conservative blogosphere's 2008 Straw Poll engine (results page here). Credit given where due, and that poll, courtesy of Patrick Ruffini, rocks.

If you've got the chops, please email me (use the contact form). Please include your experience. This is a paid gig.  

I don't want exactly what the other guys did. We'll customize for our own needs. But what they've done is a great model. I especially love the ability to have various sites participate in each poll and then track results by site. I wonder if dkos results would differ significantly from Eschaton's, or MyDD's, or AMERICAblog.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
One of the most striking things about today's Supreme Court decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was how quickly it was decided. Oral arguments in the case were heard on November 30, 2005. In contrast, arguments in Oregon v. Gonzalez were heard October 6.

In sending the case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, O'Connor (in what is likely her final decision) said:

"We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address a question of remedy. . . . States unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy," Justice O'Connor wrote. "Accordingly, we have long upheld state parental involvement statutes like the act before us, and we cast no doubt on those holdings today." But, she added in a footnote, "it is the sad reality" that some young women lack "a loving and supportive parent" to whom they can turn.

Reading Supreme Court tea leaves reminds me of being a Kremlinologist in the bad old days of the cold war. Speculation based on scraps of knowledge, a little bit of history, and a lot of wishful thinking. But conventional wisdom on this case definitely held that Justice O'Connor would not be in on the decision. Here's Yale Constitutional Law professor Jack Balkin:

It is very unlikely that the decision will be written and delivered before a new justice is confirmed and O'Connor leaves the Court. So the key question is what the initial vote is when the Court meets in conference after hearing the oral arguments in Ayotte. If the Justices split 5-4, and O'Connor is in the majority, then the case will probably be held over for reargument. If the Justices split 6-3 and O'Connor is in the majority, or if she is in the minority, then the case can go forward without her vote. In effect, that means that Justice Kennedy's vote will probably decide whether the case is held over for reargument.

So, why did the Court push this decision through in what appears to be record time? Justice O'Connor obviously took the lead in writing the decision and confirming again that Roe is settled law, as is the health exception. With the Alito nomination, and his affirmed hostility to Roe, the timing of all of this is just too tantalizing to not raise speculation. Did O'Connor not trust this decision to be made with Alito on the bench? We'll never know. But one sure can't help wondering.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
James Webb, former secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan:

It should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves [...]

A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
DavidNYC analyzes the Connecticut Senate primary, and finds this interesting tidbit from a recent Q-poll:

Lieberman gets pretty good job approval from Dems (55-29), while Republican approval of him is a good bit higher (68-20). And his favorability rating among Dems is good as well (50-15). But those numbers only tell part of the story.

By a 52-39 margin, Dems say Lieberman should once again be the senatorial nominee. That's not exactly terrific. But it gets even more interesting. Self-identified liberals - who strike me as being more representative of primary voters than just self-identified Dems - are tied on the question. Forty-seven percent say Lieberman should be re-nominated; forty-seven percent say "someone else."

This is the pivot-point for Ned Lamont. He would only need to move that 47% number just a wee bit in order to dethrone Lieberman.

Lamont faces an uphill challenge, no doubt, but the task is not impossible. He'll have the money and the netroots and grassroots support. Lieberman will have more money (the insurance and neocon lobbies will spend big) and his name recognition, but his ground game will be hired guns.

This thing will be more of a contest than the CW currently recognizes.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
(Bumped. Newer content below -- kos)

  • We have a Senate candidate in Wyoming, Dale Groutage, a retired military weapons designer. He will face Republican Craig Thomas.

  • Chief Justice Roberts lied to Ron Wyden during his confirmation process. That's why the record is more important than any promises they make during the confirmation process. They can lie knowing full well that their lifetime appointments protect them against any real repercussions.

  • Hotline on Call explains what the K Street Project is all about.

  • Former Burns (R-MT) staffers are under DOJ investigation for taking a Super Bowl trip courtesy of Abramoff. Man, those Montana newspapers are kicking ass on this story.

  • eRiposte over at the Left Coaster says, "Give me Liberty and Give me Life!"

    To make people stop living in fear, you need to highlight that the alternative is not death, but rather, a life with cherished liberties.

  • Ha ha, the poor folks over at the Free Republic can't stand that some of their top conservative leaders have come out against Bush's illegal spying.

  • Great coverage of a speech I gave last Friday.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
Fun poll by the University of Virginia, covered by Larry Sabato. It pits a hypothetical matchup in Virginia for president between Mark Warner (D) and George Allen (R), both Virginians.

UVA Center for Survey Research. Conducted the "three weeks following the November 2005 election". MoE 2.85% (No trend lines.)

Warner (D) 49
Allen (R) 32

Allen is lucky Warner isn't challenging him for the Senate seat this November.

To stress, this is a poll of the two candidates in Virginia, a fairly Red state (though it has been trending our way for a couple of cycles). Warner's numbers against Allen are pretty impressive. Though, to be fair, this poll was conducted in the Warner lovefest immediately following the November's elections.

It would be great to see this poll again in a few months.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs

DFA members and other anti-war activists are keeping up the fight in Morris County New Jersey:

Danielle Austen, Daily Record

Denville resident Joe Farmarco, a member of Morris Democrats For America (DFA) and Morris County Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) acted as both panelist and master of ceremonies.

He said the forum was part of a broader national effort, and was one of 180 similar forums held Saturday across the nation. The national campaign was organized by the coalition, an alliance of over 100 grassroots organizations.

Panelist Tom Wyka of Parsippany, also a member of Morris DFA and PDA, stressed the importance of accountability in the Bush administration's role in the war.

"Accountability is important in this country. We believe in it," Wyka said.

He fears our "national credibility is at stake"because after going to war over an alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction, none were found.

"Who's going to listen to the country that cried wolf when we need them again?"Wyka asked.

He said he was "furious"after learning about the so-called Downing Street Memo. In the memo, according to news reports, the head of British foreign intelligence reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that President Bush wanted to topple Saddam Hussein by military action and warned that in Washington intelligence was "being fixed around the policy."

Like many of us, the group has been writing letters to state legislators—including governor-elect Jon Corzine—to encourage them to make the link between the current financial distress in our states and the war in Iraq. "Avery Hart of Kinnelon said the war is a 'war of aggression, built on lies.'"

Categories: Blogs
Protecting immigrants' rights could benefit middle-class Americans.

Categories: Blogs
By Norman Solomon Legalized killing requires official justifications. The execution of Clarence Ray Allen was no exception. A prosecutor explained that “he masterminded the murders of three innocent young people and conspired to attack the heart of our criminal justice system.” And California’s governor was stern when he denied a clemency request for the 76-year-old prisoner. “The passage [...]
Categories: Blogs
by Deborah James Published on January 14, 2006 by Last week, 11 of the 14 last detainees from the December protests in Hong Kong against the World Trade Organization were ruled innocent. Three Koreans still face trial for unlawful assembly. Over 1,000 people were arrested in Hong Kong during the 6th Ministerial meeting of the WTO, even [...]
Categories: Blogs

January 17, 2006


A letter to the editor from DFA member Rebecca DiLiddo published in the Bennington Banner newspaper (Vermont).

Republicans across the land are trying very hard to turn a Republican scandal and its associated possible criminal activities into a bipartisan outrage. Readers need to make sure that they know the facts. Federal Election Commission records of Jack Abramoff's as a registered D.C. lobbyist show all the donations given either by Abramoff himself or one of his PACs. The list includes hundreds of recipients.

Every one is a Republican. There is not one Democrat. No Democrats took money from Abramoff. Although a few Democrats accepted donations from Indian tribes that were also clients of Jack Abramoff they did so independently and not through Abramoff acting as an agent.

Let's not lose sight of the facts here. Abramoff was a Republican working to raise money to support Republican candidates and buy Republican lawmakers. He is directly linked to charities and other agencies established for the sole purpose of laundering money to be funneled to Republican candidates and lawmakers.

This is a Republican scandal, but it is going to take bipartisan cooperation to craft effective campaign finance reform that finally puts U.S. citizens back in control of elections and the elected.

Rebecca DiLiddo

Categories: Blogs

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Assisted Suicide Law

Justices voted 6-3 to uphold Oregon's unique physician-assisted-suicide law. Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, wrote that the federal law bars doctors from using prescriptions to engage in illicit drug dealings, but it "manifests no intent to regulate the practice of medicine generally. The ruling marks the first time Chief Justice John Roberts has dissented, siding with Justices Scalia and Thomas.

Iran Offers to Resume Talks, but Is Denied

In an effort to win international support and avoid action by the United Nations Security Council, Iran today proposed a return to nuclear talks with Europeans. In a letter to the foreign ministries of Britain, France, and Germany, Iran made it clear that while it was willing to resume talks, it would not resume the freeze on its nuclear program. A German official called the proposal "unacceptable." A British official echoed that sentiment saying that "the Iranians have created the conditions to make it impossible to talk."

Groups Sue to Stop Domestic Spying

Federal lawsuits were filed today against President Bush's domestic eavesdropping programs call it an "illegal and unconstitutional program." The lawsuits were filed in New York by the Center for Constitutional Rights and in Detroit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The New York lawsuit said that President Bush, "unilaterally and secretly authorized electronic surveillance without judicial approval or congressional authorization.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs
Add Samuel Alito's judicial philosophy to the long list of Bush White House state secrets.

Categories: Blogs

Rich Kolker has been a software geek, journalist, broadcaster, convention organizer, political party chair, campaign volunteer, airman, and still has a long way to go to catch up with Ben Franklin. (He's also been known to Chair the Loudoun County (VA) Democratic Committee, as well as the 10th CD (VA) for Dean for America.)

Today marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin—born in Boston, resident of Philadelphia, representative to London and Paris, citizen of the World, the first American. To quote his "Google" citation, Franklin was "printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, [and] public servant." He proposed the first plan of Union for the American Colonies in 1754 and was instrumental in and signed all of the founding documents of the United States, serving most famously on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Franklin was the classic "self made man." Apprenticed to his brother in a print shop in Boston, he ran away to Philadephia, eventually founding his own printing business there. He published a newspaper and most famously, his "Poor Richard's Almanack," adding writing to his growing resume. Printing, particularly the Almanack, proved so lucrative that by 1748 he was able to "retire" and concentrate on his other interests.

Not that he had been idle before then. He was a founder of the first volunteer fire company in America and the first public lending library. He helped found the Academy and College of Philadelphia, now part of the University of Pennsyvania and the American Philsophical Society, for discussions about and the promotion of science.

After "retirement", Franklin concentrated considerable time and effort on scientific pursuits, particularly in electricity and meteorology. Never one to waste time, even on his voyages to and from Europe on diplomatic missions he used a thermometer to map the Gulf Stream. He also found himself getting more and more involved in the politics of the time. As one of Pennsylvalia's leading citizens, he was elected to the Assembly and led the delegation to the Albany Congress of the colonies in 1754 to discuss relations with the Indians and defense against the French. It ended up going further, proposing a plan of union for the colonies based in part on the Iroquois Confederation.

Franklin spent much of the time leading up to the American Revolution in London, as the representative of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other colonies in England. Much of that time he was a strong supporter of the continued connection of England and her colonies, looking for ways to bring together the two sides to their common benefit. He would never succeed. The differences between England and the colonies had grown too great, and Franklin returned to America, just in time for the Second COntenental Congress, the one which declared America's

By the end of 1776, Franklin was headed oversas again, this time to France as the Commissioner, later Ambassador, of the new United States of America. His job was to garner France's support, both military but mostly financial, for the Revolution. Well known and respected by the French for his scientific studies, Franklin was a superstar in French society and successful in keeping money flowing, although sometimes fitfully, from France to America. He was one of the primary writers of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolution in 1783. Franklin returned home for the final time in 1785, but he wasn't done with public life.

Franklin took up the cause of slavery, serving as President of the The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first American abolition organization. His last public writings, shortly before his death in 1790, were on the topic of abolishing slavery.

But before then, there was one more thing to do. In 1787 representatives met once again in Philadelphia to discuss amending the Articles of Confederation that formed the government of the united States. Franklin, then over 80 in an era where it was unusual to live past 50, was again chosen a delegate. Yet another fouding document would show his influence, and his signature.

When I was growing up, Ben Franklin was on the 50 cent piece, something I saw more often than the $100 bill he adorns today. It was also more appropriate, because Ben Franklin, capable and comfortable in English and French high society, was nevertheless always the man who grew up on the streets of Boston and Philadelphia, perhaps our most "middle class" founding father. Even in science, he put his research to practical uses (the lightning rod and stove, for example) and put the designs of those inventions in the public domain for the common good. He enjoyed life, learning, good company (particularly of women) and good conversation (from people of any gender).

Celebrate his 300th birthday today, Franklin would have.

—Rich Kolker

Categories: Blogs

Matthew Alvarez McMillan is the former finance director and a supporter of Latinos for America. Democracy for America welcomes LFA columnists on Tuesdays.

Latinos are the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority in America. We are a faithful people who believe in hard work, determination and the common good. We want to live the American Dream. And, we deserve representation.

Progressives know that there's strength in diversity. Yet, progressive Latinos make up less than 5% of the U.S. House and just 2% of the U.S. Senate. We can do better.

From the U.S. Senate to the State House, from the town council to the Governor's mansion, all across America, progressive Latinos are standing up and speaking out for our values and they deserve our support.

Below are just a few rising Latino stars running in close races in 2006.

NJ-Sen.: Robert Menendez

Recently appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine to fill out his term, Sen. Bob Menendez faces a tough 2006 campaign. His Republican opponent, the son of a popular Governor, has a name that's worth its weight in New Jersey political gold. To further complicate matters, Menendez took a battering in the media during the tough behind-the-scenes political fight that preceded Corzine's appointment. While Menendez seems to have consolidated support amongst Democrats, an early poll shows Menendez trailing his Republican rival. We can't afford to lose one of just two progressive Latino Senators.

NM-01: Patricia Madrid

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid is exactly the kind of strong progressive leader we need to replace a Bush rubber stamp, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson. Twice elected in statewide contests, she's the first and only Latina in the nation to be elected Attorney General. As Attorney General, she stood up for the progressive cause, battling electricity deregulation, standing up for the environment and exposing corporate corruption. As a candidate for Congress, she's called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, health care for all, and reforming Congress. She's also engaged in one of the most competitive U.S. House races in the nation.

FL-State Rep: Laura Leyva

Running in an open seat in a swing district, Laura Leyva is hoping to become the second Latina in the Florida State House. She's a health care expert who is proposing common sense solutions to get care to the people who need it. A community activist, she will fight for the community she knows and cares about in Tallahassee. Laura Leyva is exactly the kind of next generation leader that we need to begin to cultivate now.

Progressives are strong because African-Americans and Latinos join with those of European ancestry to speak out for peace, justice and equality. Progressives are trusted because men stand with women and straight people stand with gay people in favor of civil rights. And, progressives are respected because Christians, Jews, Muslims and the non-religious put aside our differences to fight for the common good.

If we hope to push the progressive vision into reality, we need every member of the rainbow coalition to stand up and speak out for people. We progressive Latinos are here and our voice will be heard. We're asking for your support.

—Matthew Alvarez

Categories: Blogs

January 16, 2006

"(Bush's) shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War..."

Categories: Blogs
Comparing the message sent by the CIA attack with a cable outlining "Karen's Rules" for promoting America's message overseas.

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By Mike Hersh, PDA Field Coordinator (Washington, DC January 16, 2006) Former Vice President Gore, the man selected by most voters in 2000 said of the man selected by most of the Supreme Court: “the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.” This stark but accurate accusation highlighted a rousing [...]
Categories: Blogs

Today we celebrate a great hero and patriot of our country and our democracy, the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Real patriots are those who stand up and fight for the real values of our country—tolerance, respect, and the integrity of our democracy. A real patriot fights against tyranny and bigotry both inside and outside of our government institutions. A real patriot stands up for our Constitution and its Bill of Rights when our leaders will not.

By these measures and many more, Dr. King was a true patriot—one who gave his life to our country and the cause of our democracy. His legacy remains an inspiration to all of us to fight for what the Unites States can and must be—a country of tolerance, respect, and a country whose citizenry dictates government action and not the other way around.

Dr. King's sacrifice for civil rights and justice was a sacrifice he made for every American. The battles that he fought are out battles. It was Dr. King who reminded America that we are in this together and that we must be responsible and accountable to each other.

In this era of "greed is good" and "I got mine" leadership, today is a breath of fresh air.

Our thanks to a man whose shoes we may never fill, but we'll never stop trying.

Categories: Blogs