January 16, 2006


Remarks by Al Gore on January 16, 2006.

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens—Democrats and Republicans alike—to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped—one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.

Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection."

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

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Liz Herbert is the Editorial Director of the Rapid Response Network. The Rapid Response Network offers guest commentary at Democracy for America every Monday.

On Sunday morning, the morning that would have been the 77th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, I spent some time in church. It's been decades since I was there much, allowing political extremes to define a religion I had been born into, one I had once found, then lost. But I've been on a search of late, a search Reverend King's birthday brings a fitting opportunity to recount.

So my feet brought me to this particular church on this particular Sunday, it turns out to hear a sermon preached by a clergyman originally from Birmingham, Alabama, one to whom Rev. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail was written. He had grown up a son of the South, comfortable with the way it treated black men and women. But he spoke of how that changed, in his life and in his church. Speaking with deep humility, he said he had read King's letter again the night before and that he was appalled at the man he had been.

He was so clearly a different man standing before us. He spoke of prejudice and how his church had since steadfastly opposed it, first based on race, then gender, now sexual preference. He got a standing ovation. And, as he spoke, I remembered my church. I went home and re-read King's letter, at once all about God and all about America:

One day the South will recognize its real heroes... They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest."

...One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps on this day, to honor Dr. King, we should each examine our own prejudices—prejudices against others because of the color of their skin, prejudices against others because of who they love. And, just perhaps, some prejudices on the left side of the aisle about what one might hear in a church on a Sunday morning. And, rather than giving into the temptation of returning a vengeful monologue when one has been launched at us, we must steadfastly seek the dialogue... the same dialogue Dr. King managed to maintain with every syllable he penned from the Birmingham Jail.

Can our conditions be any more extreme than his? Can we really justify having any less patience? Perhaps we too can strive to walk King's fine line between the necessary insistence and the required civility:

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

With tired feet, a soul at rest, I'm just now in a sitting sort of mood. So you'll imagine my delight when I read CrossLeft's Jarrod Cochran, someone I recently heard from in my Rapid Response job, as he blogged about progressive Christianity at the DFA community's My Vote is My Voice: "Pull up a chair and let the dialogue begin."


Liz Herbert (FL)
Speak up. Join Rapid Response.

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January 15, 2006

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
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By, Mike Shelby - Phoenix, PDA Activist I was in Crawford , TX  for the last five days of Camp  Casey  where I volunteered and got known as “Mike the Medic.”  I met Cindy Sheehan, talked with her, and shared her truth, goodness, and sorrow.  I joined Cindy at the Washington , D.C.  peace march, photographed [...]
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Nancy Tronaas is a member of Sacramento for Democracy.

On Saturday, January 7, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, author David Dionisi, 4th Congressional District candidate Charles Brown, and surprise guests--academy-award winning Sean Penn and author Norman Solomon spoke to a packed SEIU hall in Sacramento, California. With nearly 200 people inside and a large overflow crowd gathered out on the sidewalk listening to loudspeakers, Sacramentans demonstrated their impatience and frustration with U.S. involvement in Iraq. The event was part of a national campaign sponsored by After Downing Street, Progressive Democrats ofAmerica, Backbone Campaign and many others. As California for Democracy is an ADS coalition member, Sacramento for Democracy has taken a proactive role in promoting a public dialogue about the need to exit Iraq, with the intention of strengthening a higher visibility of public support for the idea.

Dave Dionisi, author of American Hiroshima and former U.S. military intelligence officer, provided insight on pre-9-11 intelligence. This information should have been utilized to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center. He also discussed U.S. foreign policy driven by the combination of controlling oil reserves in the Middle East in league with the U.S. military-industrial machine that has promoted war to support corporate profits.

The next speaker was Charles Brown, USAF Retired Lt. Colonel, and Democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District in California. He is running against incumbent Republican John Doolittle. Charles expressed concerns about George W. Bush's efforts to erode the Constitution and the administration's usurpation of Congressional power. Brown stressed as voters, we must continue to support candidates who will effect changes in Congress in order to take back our country and restore the rule of law

Welcomed with a standing ovation, Cindy Sheehan and co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace gave a rousing talk. She stressed the need to impeach this administration as war criminals who continue to lie to the American public about pre-war Iraq intelligence. She also contends that Pres. Bush's assertions about pulling the U.S. troops out of Iraq would lead to chaos are a part of a calculated strategy to mislead the American public. Cindy reminded the audience that we all need to take responsibility for Iraq—as we elected the officials who ultimately allowed the invasion and occupation. We have the power to remove them from office. Cindy emphasized we must exit Iraq now to save precious lives. After expressing her support for a Dept. of Peace, Cindy concluded that she'd like to create a U.S. Dept. of History, with herself as the first secretary.

Author and media critic Norman Solomon,
mother/activist Cindy Sheehan,
and actor Sean Penn
Photo by Bill Lackemacher IV

Actor Sean Penn added to the enthusiasm of the day by stressing that all of the nation's anti-war activism was taking hold and was starting to work—while admitting that the stress of living under the current administration was making it tough for him to quit smoking. Stating that he "was not a pacifist on the inside", he was moved to be one on the outside for the sake of his children and grandchildren’s future. He said we have to fight for everything we have.

A Q & A session followed a brief summary of current pending legislation authored by Bush opponents. The invited speakers deftly fielded questions on the economics of war, the politics of foreign policy, and the power of resistance.

Perhaps the most unforgettable moment occurred when Jesse Dyen, Camp Casey's beloved sound technician and songwriter, played his guitar and sang "Sons and Daughters", the beautiful and plaintive anthem born in Crawford during those hot August nights. Before he sang, Jesse asked the audience to point in the direction that would be southeast. He explained that they always faced Bush’s ranch whenever it was sung at Camp Casey. The emotion in his song was reflected and magnified by the packed hall, which was aching and palpable.

The program was moderated by Bill Durston, President of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Bill wrapped up the meeting by telling the audience ideas for how they can get involved in resisting the war. He encouraged everyone to take part in the National Call In Day for January 9th. We can't imagine anyone in attendance wasn't motivated to keep the energy going!

This Sacramento Out of Iraq Town Hall meeting was sponsored by Sacramento for Democracy, the Sacramento Coalition to End the War, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Progressive Democrats of America, and Peace in the Precincts.

For more photos and related articles, see:

—Nancy Tronaas

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Fifty years ago, the civil rights pioneer told Christians they must stop using the Bible to justify bigotry and inequality.

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ActNow will be return on January 21. In the meantime, please use the comments section to suggest ideas.

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Larry Dudley is the Host/Coordinator for Democracy For the Greater Glens Falls Area.

DFA members in New York State's 20th Congressional District started out almost three years ago to Take Back America by taking back the White House with Governor Dean. We're the Governor's neighbors along the Vermont border here in eastern New York, so we were early and big Dean supporters.

NY's 20th Congressional District has an unusually large number of DFA groups—six right now with more to come. I am pretty certain this is the largest number in any congressional district that is not also a state.

We are still working to take back the people's house, only now it is a different house, the House of Representatives instead of the White House. Last night all our groups jointly endorsed Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress. My fellow hosts in Saratoga Springs, the Capital District, Columbia County, Dutchess County and Otsego/Delaware counties will be joining me with messages about how their night went, too.

Democracy For the Greater Glens Falls Area first hosted Kirsten publicly at our second anniversary meetup last year. She had just begun exploring running for Congress and we were all enormously taken with her idealism, intelligence, grace, skill, decency and determination to win. There was little doubt we were looking at a future star of the Democratic Party.

Kirsten Gillibrand is an attorney with David Boies' law firm. (I am sure we all remember David Boies from Bush vs. Gore in 2000.) She was a special counsel for HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton administration, a successful Democratic fundraiser and a wife and mother.

Among the themes her campaign will stress are accountability, ethics, fighting for the interests of working Americans, energy independence and rebuilding American industries and jobs. Her campaign website is at

We believe this will be one of the most important congressional races in the country next November.

First, the 20th CD, which could be viewed as the West Vermont or West New England region of New York, is in transition. Readers of the blog will know that last November, DFA supported candidates in Saratoga Springs, New York, lead by DFA Training Academy graduate Val Keehn (now her honor Mayor Keehn), swept the Saratoga Springs races, the most important in the district, 7-0. It was a huge shock to the GOP. Saratoga had been a Republican bastion since the Civil War. That's happening all over the district.

The other reason this race matters so much is Kirsten Gillibrand's opponent: Republican Representative John Sweeney. We all should remember Sweeney from the Florida fiasco in 2000. It was Sweeney who lead the infamous so-called "white collar riot" of Republican staffers that halted the counting of American's votes in the Miami Board of Elections. Sweeney gave the word—"shut it down," which became one of his nicknames, "Shut It Down Sweeney." George Bush has a different, fonder nickname for him, as well he should; Congressman Kickass. Bush knows he's in the White House because of John Sweeney. They all know if the vote had gone ahead, things might be very different—the "White Collar Riot" changed the tenor of the recount, and American history. Amazingly enough, Sweeney has even boasted on radio programs here about his order to shut down the legal and legitimate counting of American's votes.

The "White Collar Riot" was the American Reichstag Fire, a moment in time where we may someday look back and either say "that is where American Democracy began to die" or a moment when American Democracy proved it's resilience, as it has so many times in the past. Which option becomes true is up to all of us.

That's why in Glens Falls we voted unanimously to endorse Kirsten Gillibrand. We are already forming teams to work for her. It's going to be a tough race and nothing is guaranteed. If you want to do something today, you can go to her website at and help her financially.

Finally, all of us DFA supporters in NY's 20th CD want to challenge our fellow DFA members across the country; we don't want to be the only Congressional District with so many DFA groups! We challenge you all to get going and get more DFA-Link groups and more DFA members in your districts. Match us! Beat us! We challenge you to catch us by doing your best.

Many thanks,
Larry Dudley

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This Week (ABC) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter(R-PA) will be on "This Week" to talk exclusively about the Alito confirmation hearings and the upcoming hearings on domestic spying. Also on the program: Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Time Magazine Washington bureau chief Jay Carney, and ABC News' Claire Shipman and George Will.

Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News Anchor Bob Schieffer will be discussing the Iran, the Alito Hearings and eavesdropping on Americans with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Armed Services Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Judiciary Committee, Select Intelligence Committee and Jan Crawford Greenburg, Legal Analyst at the Chicago Tribune.

Meet the Press (NBC) - This week on "Meet the Press," Ambassador Paul Bremer will speak to Tim Russert about the status of the war in Iraq, as well as plug his new book, "My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope." Then, Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the new book, "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years (1965-68);" Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund; and Dr. John McWhorter, author of "Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America" will come together to discuss the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be discussing the Democratic effect on the Alito hearings, as well as the effect that President Bush has had on African-American voting habits with Norah O'Donnell from MSNBC, Michael Duffy from Time Magazine, Cynthia Tucker from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Andrew Sullivan of Time Magazine and New Republic Magazine.

Fox News Sunday (Fox News) Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) will talk about the revelations uncovered during the questioning of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Reps. Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boehner (R-OH), and John Shadegg (R-AZ) will be on to discuss Tom DeLay's successor as House Majority Leader.

Late Edition (CNN) will be discussing what lies ahead for Iraq and when the United States will leave the region. Guests include: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN); Armed Services Committee; Select Intelligence Committee, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS); Select Intelligence Committee, Steve Forbes, Former Republican presidential candidate; president & CEO, Forbes, Inc., Gene Sperling: Senior fellow, Center for American Progress; Former Clinton White House economic adviser, Faisal al-Istrabadi: Iraq's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Bergen: CNN terrorism analyst; author, "The Osama Bin Laden I Know," Steve Coll: New Yorker Magazine; author, "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan” and “Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001," and James Risen: New York Times; author: "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration."

60 Minutes (CBS) This week will feature highlights from past episodes; Mike Wallace interviews Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). Dan Rather reports from inside the reclusive communist dictatorship of North Korea. Lesley Stahl profiles veteran actress Felicity Huffman.

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January 14, 2006


The latest poem on beltway nepotism from Mike Silverstein.

The Congressman's a family man,
He heads a public service clan,
While others give but of themselves,
His clannish ways, the good work swells.
He serves as a committee chair,
His wife consults on elder care,
His son does work for lobbyists,
His daughter markets mailing lists.
And it is no coincidence,
A sister thrives on think tank stints;
A brother who some thought was dense,
Runs agents for homeland defense.
A campaign worker twice indicted,
Has on this statesman¹s staff alighted;
An intern who once shared his bed,
Is now a cable talking head.
God bless this Rep and all his clan.
Their selfless deeds, their grand élan;
And fie on those who heap derision,
On such extended patriotism.

—Mike Silverstein

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By PDA Board Member, Lila Garrett Here we are maneuvering to hold on to our basic democracy while being confronted by a president who insists that he will continue to wiretap private citizens, despite the objection of the United States Congress.  And, despite the 90 %  vote of  the Senate to prohibit  torture in interrogating prisoners, [...]
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As an addendum to bohewasp's excellent diary on anti SAD/FDA Living, I thought it might...
Source: TruthOut
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I'll try to be a bit more organized but I get carried away with each...
Source: TruthOut
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In his farewell address to the nation President Eisenhower finalized his relationship with the Congress...
Source: TruthOut
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Once again we have seen the Democrats blunder and stumble. All that time to prepare...
Source: TruthOut
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RE: Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11     By Jason Leopold     t...
Source: TruthOut
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I have to shake my head in disbelief just about every day when I listen...
Source: TruthOut
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While going through the transcripts of the Alito hearing, I came across a couple of...
Source: TruthOut
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"Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown (D), one of two Democrats seeking to unseat...
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Rubble, rubbly, rubblier, rubbliest.  (really!)   ("Rumsfeld is rubbly, Bush is rubblier but Cheney is...
Source: TruthOut
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