March 12, 2006

One of the political arguments constantly fowarded on abortion is that Democrats shouldn't fight to defend Roe v. Wade because the far right really doesn't want to see Roe overturned. The argument generally goes that they get too much traction from abortion to give it up--Roe is just too important as a rallying point for motivating volunteers, raising money, and ultimately bringing people to the polls. South Dakota puts the lie to that theory.

These people, including  Bill "Sodomized Religious Virgin" Napoli, aren't just a bunch of religious fantatics being used by cynical national politicians to get elected. No, they're the people actually getting elected at every level of government, from school boards and city councils all the way to the U.S. Senate. Their effort to end legalized abortion is played out in state level efforts to restrict abortion to its Constitutional limits. Consider these facts from a brand-new report by the Guttmacher Institute [pdf].

  • Refusal: 46 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 43 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions.

  • State-Mandated Counseling: 28 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (3 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (4 states), long-term mental health consequences for the woman (3 states) or the availability of services and funding should the woman decide to carry the pregnancy to term (26 states).

  • Waiting Periods: 24 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. 6 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.
  • That's just a handful of the restrictions currently in place in states throughout the nation, all intended to make abortion as difficult to obtain as possible. They are the result of the unceasing activism of the far-right. People like Martin Wishnatsky in North Dakota. He has been banned from going within 150 feet of Red River Women's Clinic, so he uses his zoom lens to take pictures of the women entering the clinic, and then posts them on the Internet. His defense? "I hope this might contribute to turning people's hearts back to life." And people like Bill Napoli.

    Just because they've stopped bombing clinics and assassinating doctors doesn't mean that they aren't as committed to ending abortion as they've always been. They've just become smarter in selecting their targets. Instead of blowing them up, they legislate them out of existence by getting their people elected. They're the people who've made sure that health care providers can even refuse to provide contraception in 12 states.

    Digby had an excellent post on this last week that's been rattling around in my head since I read it.

    They really mean it. This is no bullshit. There is no downside to overturning Roe for them --- and if there is, they don't care. If they want to overturn Griswald, they'll do that too.... Conservative absolutists don't give up just because liberals get up-in-arms. They certainly don't care if we think they are shrill....

    This is not an issue for tweaking.... State mandated forced childbirth and denial of access to birth control cannot be negotiated or finessed. This one's going to have to be fought out head to head, day to day to a final reckoning. That's what they are going to do and if we don't recognise that and act accordingly, we will lose.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
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From Knight Ridder:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Senior Iraqi officials Sunday confirmed for the first time that death squads composed of government employees had operated illegally from inside two government ministries.

"The deaths squads that we have captured are in the defense and interior ministries," Minister of Interior Bayan Jabr said during a joint news conference with the Minister of Defense. "There are people who have infiltrated the army and the interior."

Rumors about the Shiite death squads targeting Sunnis have been floating around for more than a year, according to the article. Twenty-two people have been arrested, 18 were released and four have been sent to trial - indicating a smaller barrel of "bad apples" than critics have been alleging.

The Knight Ridder account also has a round-up of the past few deadly days in Iraq, focusing on the Sadr City bombings earlier today that are causing fears of a backlash.

Perhaps Rumsfeld is right and this is not civil war. Perhaps it's anarchy, chaos and outright carnage. While our political spinmeisters churn, splitting hairs over political terms and definitions, it becomes more clear with each passing day that American forces, even with the best intentions, are utterly clueless as to who exactly we're training and supplying with weaponry, and who will be the next targets.

Expect no reference in the coming days from our leaders to the now infamous (and erroneously attributed) Pottery Barn rule. It's going to be up to anti-war critics to remind the American public - unrelentingly in this election year - who "owns" the Iraqi nightmare now.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs

BBC News

At least 36 people have been killed in three car bomb attacks in Baghdad, bringing the total killed in the day to more than 55, Iraqi officials say. The near-simultaneous blasts reportedly targeted two markets in the capital's Shia district of Sadr City.

The first two blasts occurred at the Ula market, followed by a third in the Kayara market. A fourth was defused.

Sadr City, a stronghold of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, has been relatively free from violence recently.

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By Sally Kalson, Post-Gazette

Look closely at the face of collateral damage in Iraq before you answer.

Pittsburghers were captivated this week by the 7-year-old Iraqi boy who arrived here for reconstructive facial surgery at Children's Hospital, having been badly disfigured in an American bombing raid in 2004.

On a shoestring budget, the American group No More Victims arranged for his medical care, got visas for the child and his father, paid their expenses in Jordan until the documents came through, and is still trying to raise the cash to cover the travel. A Massachusetts philanthropist kicked in $50,000 for the hospital bill. A single mom in Banksville has taken father and son into her home during their stay.

Categories: Blogs
It's midday where I am, anyway.
  • Man, these Dem politicians can be frustrating. Read Greenwald's post at Crooks and Liars: With very few exceptions, national Democrats in Washington see the blogosphere as composed of uninformed, ranting, dirty masses who need to be kept as far away as possible. While they are willing to take your money, many of the Beltway Democrats see the vibrant activism in the blogosphere as some sort of an embarrassment, while others see it as a threat to their feifdoms.

    Armando has his own take here.

  • What is going on with these conservative men and the obsession with polygamy? Do they really think HBO has that much influence on American life? And what in the hell is polyamory? I'm with Atrios:
    Consider what motivates someone to write "polyamory has much greater potential appeal, and poses a much deeper danger to the American family." I have no idea if "polyamory has much greater potential appeal" or, if it does, why it "poses a much deeper danger to the American family" than does polygamy.

  • Lieberman is sounding eerily like Rove these days. LamontBlog has the goods, with C&L providing the video.

  • According to a UN official at the Hague, Milosevic died from a heart attack. True to form, however, Milosevic is raising hell from beyond the grave. He left letters asserting he was being poisoned by his captors.

  • The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee has endorsed "adding as many as four state primaries and caucuses to the early presidential nominating season, now dominated by Iowa and New Hampshire." Iowa and New Hamshire would still be the first caucus and primary, respectively. But two states could hold their caucuses after Iowa and before New Hampshire, and two states could hold primaries after New Hampshire and before February 5, the formal start of the primary/caucus season. Conventional wisdom is that this would shift focus to Western states.

  • And speaking of Presidental politics, Daschle is contemplating a run. Huh.

  • Read DCCC Executive Director John Lapp's take on bloggers and the Democratic establishment in this diary from TPaine. Good stuff.

  • The Sopranos begins Season 6 tonight. (Armando)

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
This weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference revealed two things: Adam Nagourney can be a reporter (!), and confirmation that John McCain has no soul. The presumed Republican 2008 presidential hopeful spent his time at the conference assuming the mantle of the heir of Bush by expressing his undying devotion and support to the man who slipped a shiv in his back and twisted it unmercifully six years ago in South Carolina. Nagourney provides the details:

Senator John McCain of Arizona offered a full embrace of a president he has quarreled with over the years--Mr. Bush defeated him for the presidential nomination in an acrid campaign in 2000--as he urged Republicans to rally around Mr. Bush in a difficult time and to focus on the midterm elections ahead....

The session culminated with a straw poll of delegates.... McCain [requested] that his supporters cast write-in votes for President Bush, as a show of support for the president....

The extent of McCain's embrace of Mr. Bush was striking.... McCain went so far as to condemn the collapse of the port deal, saying that Congress had served Mr. Bush poorly by not permitting a 45-day review of security concerns, though he did not mention that the deal was sunk by fellow Republicans.

"The president deserved better," Mr. McCain said. [Emphasis mine]

The President deserved better? Excuse me, Senator, the American people deserve better. It is, after all, our national security you're talking about here. And that goes for the domestic front as well, where McCain is also doing his best to prove himself "Bushier than thou," as you'll see on the flip.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs

Wisconsin Democrat Asks Senate to Rebuke the President for NSA Wiretaps

March 12, 2006— - In an exclusive interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush for approving domestic wiretaps on American citizens without first seeking a legally required court order.

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, D-Wis., a three-term senator and potential presidential contender.

Categories: Blogs

By Sean Rayment, The Telegraph UK

An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces.

After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces.

He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human.

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Anne Braden was a rebel, a patriot and a feisty fighter for civil rights and social justice.

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Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday that Congress needs to censure President Bush as a possible first step towards impeachment for authorizing the wiretapping of terrorists based in America, adding that Bush's alleged lawbreaking was "much more serious, clearly, than anything Bill Clinton ever did."

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," Feingold told ABC's "This Week." "What the president did, by consciously and intentionally violating the Constitution and the laws of this country with this illegal wiretapping, has to be answered."

Categories: Blogs

Feingold Says Congress Must Condemn the President's Violation of the Public's Trust Through Illegal Wiretapping Program

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has announced that he will introduce a resolution in the U.S. Senate on Monday to censure the President of the United States. Feingold's resolution condemns the President's actions in authorizing the illegal wiretapping program and then misleading the country about the existence and legality of the program. Feingold calls the resolution an appropriate and responsible step for Congress to take in response to the President's undermining of the separation of powers and ignoring the rule of law.

Categories: Blogs

From the "we can only hope" department, a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney at the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings, held this month:

REUTERS/Larry Downing

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In response to Senator Feingold's announcement that he will seek to censure President Bush, Senator Frist launched into a bumbling speech about 9/11, terrorism, Iran, and quashing dissent:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're against it. Are you going to allow it to come up for a vote?

FRIST: Well, George, this is the first I've heard about it. I really am surprised about it because Russ is just wrong. He is flat wrong. He is dead wrong. And as I was listening to it, I was hoping deep inside that that the leadership in Iran and other people who have the U.S. not in their best interest are not listening because of the terrible signal it sends.

What a terrible signal it sends to those who seek to destroy our freedoms when Congress exercises its right to censure to the President. How dare we remind the terrorists that we're a democratic society, with rules and accountability.  What a terrible signal, indeed. Let's move on.

More below...

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs

Late Edition (CNN) will feature Gov. Howard Dean weighing in on the controversial Dubai ports deal, as well as Sens. John Warner (R-VA) and Carl Levin (D-MI) giving their thoughts on the blocked proposal.

This Week (ABC) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will talk about national security, port security and '08 presidential politics. Donna Brazile, Jay Carney, Claire Shipman and George Will will come together for a roundtable discussion.

Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer will be speaking to Sen. Barack Obama about ethics reform legislation, US port security and the war in Iraq.

Meet the Press (NBC) - This week on "Meet the Press," Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), two key senators from the Foreign Relations Committee, will talk about the civil unrest rising in Iraq and the implications for U.S. troops in the area. The authors of the book, "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq," Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent for the New York Times, and General Bernard Trainor (Ret.), will be on the program.

Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be discussing the overexposure of Hillary Clinton, the Dubai ports deal and the possibility of a Mormon presidential candidate with Kathleen Parker from Tribune Newspapers, Clarence Page from the Chicago Tribune, Kelly O'Donnell from NBC News and Howard Fineman of Newsweek Magazine.

Fox News Sunday (Fox News) - This week, Fox News Sunday will be talking to Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) on scuttling of Dubai port deal, as well as Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

60 Minutes (CBS) This week's 60 Minutes tells the story of when "terrorist insurgents led by Al Qaeda took over the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, the U.S. military had to devise a way of retaking it. Their methods have become a blueprint for the war on terror."

Categories: Blogs

March 11, 2006


Friday marked DFA Executive Director Tom Hughes' birthday—and the DFA HQ staff in Burlington just couldn't resist a little early morning surprise:

Tom's office, filled with 300 balloons.

The office was filled with approximately 300 balloons, but what was probably most disturbing to Tom was finding Deputy Technology Director, Luigi Montanez, hiding under his desk with a camera.

Surprise—there's an employee under your desk!

It's not all candidates, trainings and elections around here, you know...

Categories: Blogs

Preparations for the Third Annual DemocracyFest are underway and the agenda is getting more exciting each day. I hope you will join me and progressive activists from across the country in San Diego from July 14 through 16:

DemocracyFest 2006 promises to feature some of the best that San Diego and the progressive grassroots movement have to offer. Event, meal and lodging tickets are available for purchase at a discounted early-bird rate until March 15th. Get yours now before the regular prices take effect:

DemocracyFest organizers from DemocracyFest Incorporated and San Diego for Democracy have a fabulous program planned for you—a weekend where you can trade ideas, learn new strategies, and get energized for the hard political work ahead.

It'll be a great celebration in San Diego—I look forward to seeing you there.

Categories: Blogs
One House member demands documents about how deal was approved, including materials relating to Papa Bush's Carlyle Group.

Categories: Blogs

Brenda Bayne is the organizer of the Democracy for America Gainesville DFA-Link group.

In last year's city election, DFA members played a pivotal role in the defeat of an incumbent regressive conservative city council member. First he was forced into a runoff and then against all odds and conventional wisdom he was defeated by an 88-vote margin.

Like the undead this same candidate came back this election cycle, with the full support of the Republican and business establishment to contest an at-large seat on the council. In addition to his powerful backers and their money, he had name recognition and an established campaign machine. Again conventional wisdom anointed him the favorite and the local newspaper gave him their endorsement.

During the intervening year DFA/Gainesville had been hard at work. With the support and participation of the county's Democratic Executive Committee we brought in DFA training, attended by 120 grassroots and party loyalists. This proved so successful and popular that a few months later we brought in Steve Ybarra to fine tune our GOTV strategy. Out of this grew a Precinct Action Network.

Our first test came this week. Our candidate was an impressive young woman, well credentialed but untested with little name recognition. The grassroots and the DEC went to work to target and get out our voters. The local political pundits still gave the edge to the opposition, but by election eve they were conceding the race too close to call.

The results on election night proved that DFA training and hard work can pay off. Our candidate, Jeanna Mastrodicasa, had won her seat with 54.7% of the vote and with a turnout 3% higher than predicted. Now we're on to November!

—Brenda Bayne

Categories: Blogs