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January 30, 2006
Al Jazeera Airs Video of U.S. Hostage
Al Jazeera television aired a video tape from an Iraqi militant group, the Revenge Brigades, showing U.S. hostage Jill Carroll. The station said Carroll appealed for fellow Americans to press for the release of Iraqi women held by U.S.-led forces. "She said that this would help in her release," the station said. Carroll's kidnappers set a 72-hour ultimatum which expired about 10 days ago for the U.S. to release female prisoners in Iraq.
Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Former Enron Executives
A federal judge began questioning nearly 100 potential jurors today as the criminal trial opened for two leading figures in the Enron trial. Judge Simeon T, Lake III said he wants to seat a jury of 12 with 4 alternates. The judge told the jury pool that "this will be one of the most interesting and important cases ever tried." Judge Lake estimated the trail of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Killing will last four months, and he assured the potential jurors that he "won't waste anybody's time."
Republican-led Senate Votes for Cloture
The Republican-led Senate today defeated a Democratic bid to block Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Republicans acquired 60 plus votes to approve a motion to end debate on the nominee. The final vote to end the debate was 72 to 25. A confirmation vote is set for Tuesday.
Over 400 new people join DFA-Link every single week. It's a great start, but I think we can take DFA-Link to the next level in the coming weeks. We're kicking things off with a week-long DFA-Link membership drive starting today. And the best partthere are prizes!
You can check your progress at:
As we build the DFA-Link community, I've been talking to DFA organizers around the country about the tactics and strategies they've used to grow their groups. The result? An online organizing guide packed with tips to help grow your group. The guide includes tips on:
You can download the "DFA-Link Online Organizing Guide" and RSVP for the virtual workshops at:
Tuesday Workshop: http://www.dfalink.com/workshop1
Wednesday Workshop: http://www.dfalink.com/workshop2
We have a chance this year to elect Democratic majorities in Congress and win governerships, state legislatures and local offices across the country. But we need to grow the DFA-Link community so we have the shoe leather to contact voters and get out the vote for candidates that share our values.
Thanks for all you do.
Liz Herbert is the Editorial Director of the Rapid Response Network. The Rapid Response Network offers guest commentary at Democracy for America every Monday.
Not that we are unconcerned about the rest of our worldwhat happens across the city or even across the country or world is important to all of us. But how the news media are structured makes it easier in some ways to know what is happening in Congress or Chicago than in our neighborhood.
I'm thinking this little concept might just be big. As media has consolidated to Goliath proportions, perhaps we're in need of a David. Al Gore spoke of just how critical this concept of the neighborhoodof the "public square"was to the building of our great country. And he spoke of what happens when the public square doesn't quite work anymore:
Ok, so this might start out seeming like it's about "Aunt Rose Marie, who moved to Ocala but is back for the week," as Gabordi writes. But as I talk to my neighbors and you talk to yours, who knows what could happen. We might just be on to something.
January 29, 2006
Teri Sperry is Director of Training and Public Service Development at Democracy for Texas."The only sure way to make a difference is to step up and run for office yourself." Gov. Howard Dean
All over Texas, even in the most Republican-leaning districts, citizens who want to make a real difference have taken Gov. Dean's words to heart and have stepped up to run for office at every level. To help them run the best races possible, Democracy for Texas organized and hosted Texas Candidate Training 2006, an intensive training program for socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates and their staffs.
The innovative curriculum was co-developed by Latinos for America and Democracy for Texas. Our ten-member faculty of campaign pros from around the country as well as experts and victors from Texas campaigns offered nuts-and-bolts classes and one-on-one tutorials in their areas of expertise. The 24 candidate teams from across the state took time out from their already busy campaigns and traveled to Austin January 2022 to learn how to craft their message and deliver it (on camera and off); how to ask for money, budget it, and spend it wisely; how to get the most out of block walking, phone banking, and other voter contact methods; and how to create and execute their campaign's overall plan for victory.
DFA's executive director, Tom Hughes, was on hand to lend his expertise in field operations and federal campaign finance regulations and to remind the participants of the importance of what they were doing. Former State Rep. Glen Maxey, DFT's political director, treated the group to some moving and funny stories from the campaign trail. Our trainees also got great advice from a guest panel of elected officials over dinner. In their small blocks of free time, they networked and built valuable relationships based on common goals and situations (for example, several military veterans running for Congress found ways to work together; state house candidates compared notes on their school finance proposals).
Ralph Miller, of Latinos for America, ran an onsite media studio where all our candidates had the opportunity to get on-camera coaching, practice, and constructive critiques. The candidates held up well in their mock press conferences under the hot lights and a barrage of tough questions. They received copies of their own performances on videotape, and the highlights we viewed on Sunday afternoon were nothing short of inspirational.
So were the final campaign plan presentations, in which each candidate team explained to the entire group exactly how they were going to win, based on hard data, specific strategies, and realistic goals. At the end of each plan presentation, a panel of trainers asked insightful questions and offered advice for improvement. The rest of the participants then rated each campaign's presentation to determine awards for the best field plan, fundraising plan, communications and media plan, message, and overall campaign plan. We created a special category, Best Coordinated Campaign, for the amazing folks from the Fort Bend County Democrats (in Tom DeLay's district), who sent a smart, hard-working, and enthusiastic group of ten to get the skills they need to turn their county blue.
Stay tuned! It's going to be exciting to watch these newly trained candidates and their teams throughout the 2006 election cycle. As Chairman Dean would say, vote by vote, race by race, we're taking Texas back!
This Week (ABC) - Sens. Barack Obama, (D-IL), and Chuck Hagel, (R-NE), discuss the politics and policy of domestic spying, Middle East peace, and the president's forthcoming State of the Union speech. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Time magazine's Joe Klein join ABC News' Martha Raddatz and George Will to debate the week's politics.Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes has a Super Bowl ad just for dads.
Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer sat down Friday, Jan. 27, 2006 for an exclusive interview with President George W. Bush -- his only television interview prior to the State of the Union message. See it on Sunday's Face the Nation, and right here on CBSNews.com.
Meet the Press (NBC) - This week on "Meet the Press," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) joins MTP in studio to discuss his Senate agenda for the year, and share his views on the week's top stories including domestic spying, the Jack Abramoff scandal, and Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections. Then our roundtable will share their insights and analysis on the upcoming State of the Union address and public opinion on Iraq, the war on terror, the economy and the early favorites for 2008. We will talk to Washington Post columnist David Broder, NBC News White House Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, Bloomberg News Chief Political Correspondent Roger Simon, and National Review's White House Correspondent Byron York.
Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be discussing the State of the Union, Social Security as a possible defining issue in 2006 midterm elections, and Democratic hopefuls for 2008. Guests include; Mary Ann Akers of Roll Call, David Gregory from NBC News, Elisabeth Bumiller from the New York Times, Michael Duffy of Time Magazine.
Fox News Sunday (Fox News) An exclusive interview with Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Plus, a progress report on the GOP's agenda with Sen. John Thune, (R-SD), and Rep. Mike Pence, (R-IN).
Late Edition (CNN) will preview the State of the Union speech. Plus, former President Jimmy Carter on the future of Mideast peace. This week's guests include; Dan Bartlett, White House counselor, Sen. Joseph Biden, (D-DE), Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, (R-KS), Select Intelligence Committee chairman, Armed Services Committee, Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president, and Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister.
60 Minutes (CBS) This week on 60 minutes: Is the U.S. government prepared to medically treat the thousands of people who would be affected if terrorists use a nuclear bomb on America? An accident victim treating his severe pain with more and more medication runs up against drug laws that land him in prison. When she was denied a part because of her weight, opera singer Deborah Voigt decided to lose some - more than 100 lbs. with gastric bypass surgery.
January 28, 2006
Lakshmi Barot is a former DFA staff member attending this weekend's DFA Training Academy in Montpelier, VT.
"And without any further ado, Arshad Hasan!" These were Tom Hughes words this morning to the crowd at Montpelier High School in Montpelier, VT. This is DFA's first training of 2006 and we are incredibly excited about it.
After getting up at 6am (an oddity for me), I carpooled to Montpelier with fellow DFA'ers and we began helping Montpelier Training Host Andrea Stander set up for the day. Andrea, Kate Giusti and the rest of the great Montpelier crew were already hard at work posting signs, making coffee, and setting up the cafeteria for our morning session.
The morning session started out with an introduction from Tom, followed by Gaye Symington, speaker of the VT House. She gave a frank talk about her involvement in politics and her personal story. After taking questions from the audience, she gave the floor back to Tom, who introduced Arshad without any further ado.
DFA Communications Director Noreen Nielsen spoke about developing a message and DFA's Dina Wolkoff is coming up with some fundraising and finance advice.
The New York Times editorial calling for Senate Democrats to get some backbone and filibuster against Alito's nomination couldn't have been more to the pointand Senators Kerry and Kennedy stepped up to the plate by calling for that just that. But they need your help to make it happen. Call your Democratic senators today and ask them to support the filibuster. If your senators are Republican, urge them to vote against Alito.
Defeatist as it might seem, there is no way around the fact that the filibuster would most likely prove insignificant. However, that means there is all the more reason to stage one. What do Democrats have to lose by fighting? Certainly not the moral peace of mind that comes from speaking out in the face of injustice. Democrats won't get anywhere by huddling in the corner and saying please don't hurt me.
Choosing your battles is one thing, but Alito's nomination is not something that Democrats can let pass without a fight. Alito made it clear during his hearings that he is willing to make little restrictions to the power of the president. Scary anytime, but especially now, under the rule of an administration so ignorant of typical restraints to power provided by the Constitution and Congressional demands for information.
Alito's contempt of Roe vs. Wade was also made clear during his hearings, and any Senator who has promised to protect a woman's right to choose has no business not participating in a filibuster to prevent Alito's nomination. In the words of the New York Times editorial board, there are few things more frightening than Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.
Make your voice heard: call your senators today and urge them to support the filibuster and vote against Alito.
January 27, 2006
Israel Rules Out Peace Talk with Palestinian Authority
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked Hamas to form a new government today, while his own long-dominant Fatah party declined to participate in a new cabinet. Israel, meanwhile, ruled out peace talks with a Hamas-lead government, citing the group's dedication to the destruction of the Jewish state. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel "will not negotiate with a Palestinian administration if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel."
U.S. Economy's Growth Slows
The government reported today that the American economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in the fourth quarter. The report showed that spending by consumers and the government weakened significantly. The economy posted a 3.5 percent growth rate for the full year, although the fourth quarter slowed to 2.8 percent. Anthony Chan, the chief economist at J.P. Morgan's private client services group, said, "There is not much growth behind the curtain when all is said and done."
Cloture Vote Set for Monday
Democrats and Republicans alike said that Judge Alito will get more than the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the Senate floor Monday. Senate Democratic leader Harry said today that, "everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster." Senator Kerry, nonetheless, urged his fellow Democrats to take a stand during a 27-minute speech on the Senate floor. Kerry said, "This is a fight worth making, because it is a fight for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
All over the country, Democracy for America members are stepping up and running for local office. It's what we're all aboutcitizens taking action and making America better.
Win or lose, these rising stars are doing what too many in Washington fear to dofighting for what they believe.
Debra Shore is a DFA member running for Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in Cook County, IL. She believes that we can be caring stewards of our natural resources, while building a better, healthier community. DFA members across Chicagoland support Debra because they know that the best way to elect new leadership is by
Karen Felthauser is a long time DFA member, Williamson County Democratic
Elesha Gayman, a member of Democracy for America-Quad Cities, is running for the Iowa House of Representatives in District 84. Elesha's dedication to her community inspired her to enter the non-profit sector as a grant writer, fundraiser and volunteer. Now, she is running to bring new energy to the Iowa State House.
Andy Meisner is running for re-election as a State Representative in Michigan. He has been involved in the Royal Oak-DFA group since early 2004. In Lansing, he has fought to bring new jobs to Michigan and to ease legislative restrictions on stem cell research. With your help, he will continue to promote a strong Democratic message for the state and help take back the Michigan House.
Ronald Rice Jr. is a member of New Jersey for Democracy and co-organizes the Essex County, NJ DFA group. He is running for West Ward Councilman in the City of Newark. In 2002 he ran for councilman-at-large and received more votes than any previous first-time candidate in the history of Newark. His campaign is about changing the culture of city politics, empowering residents through education, and community control of all city development.
Ty Harrell is a DFA member in Raleigh, North Carolina who has spent years fighting for Democratic ideals. He has lectured at Duke University and is currently on the Arts and Sciences Development staff there. Ty is taking his experience and skills on the campaign trail in his bid for the State House in District 41. He believes North Carolina needs a better education system and a stronger health care program in order to improve the lives of its citizens. He will promote fiscal responsibility by rewarding small businesses and companies that create jobs in the state and close the tax loopholes on companies that move their business away from North Carolina.
These DFA members are doing their part. They get an "A" from DFA. That's why we're adding them to the "DFA-List."
But they need your help to win. Please visit their websites and help them in any way you can.
Thank you for helping our next generation of leaders succeed.
Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member. Her guest column on health care appears on Blog for America on Fridays and she blogs at nationalnurse.org.
Health care spending in the United States increased 7.9 percent to nearly $1.9 trillion in 2004. Once again wage growth fell behind and health care now makes up 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. The money spent on health care for each individual person living in America jumped from $5,670 in 2003 to $6,280 in 2004.
Our president has taken notice and ways to curb these costs will be a central theme during his State of the Nation address on January 31st. Apparently most of his proposals are ones we have heard in the past and range from raising the amount allowed to accumulate in existing health savings accounts; offering additional tax breaks for those who purchase private insurance on their own; establishing more portability for health insurance when people change jobs; and providing easier access to information regarding physician pricing and quality. What a progressive activist might wonder is do any of these suggestions actually save the average American worker any money? Will these proposals make it easier for our citizens to access and afford the existing health care system?
Senator Kennedy (D-MA) believes the changes proposed by Bush will worsen our health care crisis because they will actually transfer much of the cost on to the consumer. Paul Krugman believes our system needs an overhaul and more money must be dedicated to prevention. In an interview to Newsweek magazine, HHS Mike Leavitt also claims we need to focus on a prevention oriented society.
What suggestions do you have for fixing our health care crisis? You already know one of mine: nationalnurse.org.
Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
January 26, 2006
Martha Sullivan is on the Steering Committee of CA for Democracy, and a member of North San Diego DFA. Her letter to the editor was published this week in the North County Times of San Diego and Riverside.
Martha says of her published letter to the editor:"One inspiration for me in writing the following, about our Constitution and Bill of Rights being the ONE THING that holds all the amazing diversity of our nation together, was the incredible speech in the movie, "The Contender," in which Joan Allen portrays a woman senator nominated as Vice Presidentwho talks about worshiping in the "Chapel of Democracy."
It really is trueour U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights bridge all the differences among us and gives Americans our common tie that binds. Maybe focusing on saving what connects us, rather than on what divides us will help get through to people."
Bush is Breaking the Constitution
The American people need their senators to stand up to, and stop the ridiculous notion of, a unitary president who is able to waive over two centuries of checks and balances, following our Constitution. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have managed to survive a second war with Britain (1812), a civil war, two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and sundry smaller wars since without breaking.
Don't sully the memory of Americans who died in, and lived through, those conflicts by letting the Bush administration's hyped war on terror break our Constitution. Our Constitution is what holds this country togetherit bridges religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, income and language. Don't let them break the one thing that holds the U.S. together.
Hamas Wins Landslide Victory
The Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, which favors the destruction of Israel and has been labeled by the U.S. as a terrorist group, won 76 seats out of 132 in the Palestinian legislative elections. Fatah, the group that held power since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, won just 43 seats. President Bush has made it clear that he will not deal with Hamas unless it renounces terrorism. Supporters of the two groups clashed outside of the Palestinian parliament building when Hamas supporters attempted to raise the green Hamas flag.
Senator Kerry Calls for Filibuster
Senator John Kerry has decided to support a filibuster to block the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito. Kerry, who is in Davos, Switzerland attending the World Economic Forum, is marshalling support by phone. Republicans would need 60 votes to overturn a filibuster. Three Democrats, Senators Nelson, Johnson, and Byrd, have already announced their support of Alito and a couple of others have expressed opposition to a filibuster.
Gay Marriage Ban Advances in Virginia
The Virginian State Senate all but guaranteed that there will be a November referendum on whether to amend the 230 year old Bill of Rights to ban gay marriage. The Senate voted 28 to 11 to approve the amendment, the House had approved it early. Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the only openly gay legislator, said during the House debate this month, "This resolution seeks to write citizens out of our most sacred document."
What is a reflectivist? Paul Jacobs of Temecula, CA writes in the North County Times (a publication which serves San Diego and Riverside Counties in California) about his experience creating "a time for public reflection"a Bring Their Buddies Home vigilfor those killed in Iraq.
From Paul: "Participants were instructed to wear black to the vigil and upon arriving at the Temecula Duck Pond a sheet of paper with the name of a soldier was pinned to my shirt. We were told to stand silently with our heads bowed, creating a time and setting for some reflective meditation for participants and passers-by":Our local newspapers got the story wrong by calling the vigil a protest by anti-war "activists." Advocates for war were the only ones protestingagainst the peace vigil! The vigil was purposely silent and still in a street-theater way to create a time for public reflection, so more accurately, participants should be called "reflectivists," not activists.
Most, if not all, vigil participants are against the war and some probably participate in activist demonstrations at other times, but nobody participating in last Sunday's vigil carried any signs. The only protesters present were those mocking and taunting a citizen gathering for peace. I suspect a number of the pro-war activists advocate public prayer, yet ironically, they protest a public meditation for peace.
Expressed admiration for the life of the soldier killed in action which he was given on a paper during the event:I thought about "Gregory Paul S.," a specialist in the U.S. Army from Hobart, Ind., who died on March 24, 2003, at the age of 19. I wondered if a sense of patriotism following 9/11 motivated him to enlist. I wondered what unfulfilled promise was cut short.
Whether or not you support the war, I would invite anybody to wear the name of a fallen soldier over your heart for a couple of hours, contemplate silently, and see what sinks in.
Family members were quoted saying Greg was born to be a soldier and wore fatigues at the age of 2. Sanders was married and the father of a little girl when he was killed by sniper fire in Iraq.
Even a peacenik like me is in awe of such conviction and dedication to duty and country. How can anybody not respect such a young man of honor and integrity? God bless his soul and watch over his family.
While this group of citizens gathered to peacefully and quietly reflect on lives lost in a senseless and disorganized war, pro-war protesters nearby waved signs painted with insults like, "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder." You can view more photos of the event online.
Democracy for America features highlights from DFA-Link groups around the country each week. Dave Reiter is a member of DFA Miami-Dade. You can see more local DFA actions going on at www.dfalink.com.
On the 26th, San Diego DFA is hosting a special visit from Jim Dean to discuss this year's Democracy Fest. Dean will be offering some training tips, thanking members for their continued valiant volunteer efforts, and urge their further involvement in the upcoming March elections. UCSD Gen DFA is excited to be joining the meeting and everyone will get a chance to meet and briefly speak with the DFA Chair.
Bakersfield DFA will be joining with the Kern County Democrats to host precinct captain workshops. At the meetings, they will be teaching attendees how to organize as precinct captains to have a greater effect on elections. Their joint efforts will be the beginning of a permanent precinct program that should snowball from here.
Political Actions: After successfully writing and calling the cosponsor of the Patriot Act, Dianne Feinstein to filibuster the Act's renewal, DFA Orange County is mounting another write and call campaign. Group organizers are urging members to write and call Senators' Feinstein and Boxer immediately to ensure they vote against Alito's Senate confirmation. Both Senate offices acknowledged the large number of letters they received from constituents requesting the Patriot Act filibuster, and hopefully they recognize that their constituents are still on top of their game with this campaign to stop Alito.
Next weekend, American University DFA will be joining MoveOn's petition drive to stop corruption in Congress. In a two-hour blitz, DFAers will be hitting the streets of DC to collect signatures for the petition that asks for sweeping ethics reforms.
Franco Caliz-Aguilar, DFAM student coordinator, and President of the Coral Park Young Democrats, has been involved in educating students and parents about their right to opt out of military recruitment lists as federally mandated in the No Child Left Behind Act. Thanks to him and many volunteers from various other groups, 5,000 Miami Dade students have opted out of the military recruitment program. Aggravated with recruiters' aggressive tactics, Franco, a former Junior ROTC student says, "Students are usually shown a video on the benefits of military life... they pretty much avoid mentioning that you could get killed." There have been 37,000 students nationwide that have had their names removed from recruitment lists thanks in large part to San Francisco based, Leave My Child Alone.
Keep the pressure on, DFA!
January 25, 2006
If you write on a progressive weblogeither your own or within a community blog like MyDD, DailyKos or Booman TribuneDFA invites you to joing the DFA Blog Network. Our aim is to create a gathering space for connected progressive bloggers to encourage open information-sharing, collaborative projects, and rapid response.
So far, we have begun to map out the links in our small network, as well as share daily DFA resources like press clips from Burlington's Communications Department. If you have an idea you would like to share for how we can mobilize our blog network quickly and effectively, stop by and let us know.
Link your voices with ours by joining the group today.
Bush's Approval Rating at Record Low
President Bush's overall job approval rating has returned to its lowest point in his presidency. The latest survey from the American Research Group shows that Americans have become less optimistic about the national economy. Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job, while 58% disapprove. As for the President's handling of the economy, 34% approve and 60% disapprove.
Palestinians Turn Out to Vote
Palestinians held their first parliamentary election in a decade today. The long-dominant Fatah movement was favored to edge out the radical Islamic faction Hamas. Election officials are not expected to release the results until Thursday morning. An exit poll, however, indicated that Fatah won 42% of the vote while Hamas won 34%.
Report Says That Army Has Been Stretched to a Breaking Point
Andrew Krepinevic, a retired Army officer, wrote a report about the state of the American Army under a Pentagon contract. Krepinevich concluded that the Army could not sustain the pace of troop deployments in Iraq. He wrote that the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk 'breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld disputed the suggestion that troops are worn thin, and asserted that "the force is not broken."
Hi! I'm the new Communications Intern at DFA, and I will be working here until the beginning of May. I am a junior at St. Edward's University in Austin, TX, where I am a Communication major and Political Science minor. Last summer, I worked with Scott Goldstein and Aaron Voldman as they launched GenerationDFA. I recruited student leaders in the southern region, and began my own group at St. Edward's last fall. My group volunteered over 100 hours on the "No Nonsense in November" campaign to defeat the gay marriage ban in Texas.
While in Burlington, I will be working with Noreen Nielsen (Communications Director), writing and editing blog posts, press releases, and other material. I will also be the national coordinator for existing GenerationDFA groups, and set GenerationDFA's agenda and field plans for the fall semester. I am very excited to be here, and I'm looking forward to working at DFA over the next few months. I know that the experience will be unforgettable!
January 24, 2006
In the end, the vote on Judge Alito came down to one thing for Republicansallegiance to the President. Each Republican Committee member praised Alito, refusing to take into account the serious questions raised by Democrats. Some took the party line even further and attacked Democrats for being so uncooperative.
"It is simply unrealistic to think that one party would put itself at a disadvantage by eschewing political considerations while the other party almost unanimously applies such considerations," Senator Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, said. "So I say to my Democratic friends: Think carefully about what is being done today. Its impact will be felt well beyond this particular nominee."
Senator Kyl, of course, was referring to the nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, nominations that many Republicans supported. But, as Senator Feinstein(D-CA) observed, those were different times. "There was not the polarization within America that is there today, and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction."
Senator Feinstein is right, and the Democrats are right in questioning whether or not Judge Alito should be on the Supreme Court. This is, after all, a decision that will have very long term effects. It is immensely troubling that Republicans are so quick to support their party's nomination and so quick to dismiss the serious questions surrounding that candidate.
Adlai Stevenson once said that he didn't think "a man should be in public office whose attitude on our most important business depends on whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House." Unfortunately, Republicans don't share that philosophy.
The only way to make sure that there is never another nomination like Judge Alito, or to make sure that such a nomination never gets confirmed by the Senate, is to elect officials who aren't blinded by party rhetoric. The answer does not lie in complaining, but rather in doing. As Howard Dean would say, "We have the power." It's high time we used it.
Judiciary Committee Votes Along Party Lines
The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended Judge Alito's nomination to the full Senate today on a party-line vote. The 10 Republicans voted for Alito, while the 8 Democrats voted against him. The full Senate is expected to vote on Alito's nomination before the end of this week. That vote is also expected to follow party lines, with the exception of Nebraskan Democrat Ben Nelson, who has expressed support for Alito.
Attorney General Dismisses Criticisms
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today picked up where President Bush left off yesterday. In a speech at Georgetown University, Gonzales said the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which bars wiretaps on Americans without a warrant, did not prevent the controversial NSA domestic spying program. Gonzales said, "It is simply not the case that Congress in 1978 anticipated all the ways that the president might need to act in times of armed conflict to protect the United States." There were a number of silent protesters at the speech, some of whom held up a sign quoting Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."
Senators Lash Out at Bush Administration over Katrina
Senators in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs criticized the Bush Administration today for failing to heed predictions from a hurricane preparedness test that began a year before Hurricane Katrina struck. The preparedness exercise, nicknamed Hurricane Pam, warned that a Category 3 storm would overwhelm the New Orleans area and kill up to 60,000 people. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said that, "As a dry run for the real thing, Pam should have been a wake-up call that could not be ignored."
With Sam Alito moving one step closer to the Supreme Court today, it is even more clear that our country is moving in the wrong direction.
Fortunately, this is an election year. We have a chance to elect Democratic majorities in Congress and win governerships, state legislatures and local offices across the country. With lots of shoe leather and hope for a better future, we can win the elections we need to take our country backbut it takes skills.
Most of these campaigns will be tough battles that will take smart, well-trained activists executing sound strategies to win. That's why the DFA Training Academy is gearing up for its most ambitious year everwith 13 trainings planned for the first half of 2006.
Click on the city nearest you to sign up:Jan. 28-29:Montpelier, VT Feb. 4:Glens Falls, NY Feb. 11-12:Elizabethtown, KY Feb. 25-26:Philadelphia, PA Mar. 11-12:Sierra Vista, AZ Mar. 18-19:Stockton, CA Mar. 25-26:Memphis, TN Apr. 8-9:Moline, IL Apr. 22-23:Miami, FL May 6-7:Asheville, NC May 20-21:Portland, OR Jun. 3-4:Columbus, OH Jun. 10-11:Denver, CO
The DFA Training Academy is a unique opportunity to work closely with top-notch political operatives and experienced grassroots veterans on the fundamentals of developing a message, communicating with voters, and building the army of volunteers needed to win.
We have the power to change this country, but the forces lined up against us are powerful. That's why we need to train. The more people at the grassroots who know how to run and win elections means the sooner we can put our country back on track. So, join a DFA training today:
Over 4,000 activists have graduated from the DFA Training Academy in the last two years - and they are on the front lines of the fight today. One of those graduates is Val Keehn who recently wrote:"The two-day DFA training that I attended this past summer in Cazenovia, NY was very comprehensive, informational, and inspirational. There was no fluff.....just reality about running an effective campaign. The one message that stuck with me throughout my own campaign was 'campaigns are won door-to-door and face-to-face with the voters.' DFA had a huge impact on my attitude as a candidate."
Val took the strategies and tactics she learned home to her campaign in Saratoga Springs. Today, she is "Mayor Valerie Keehn." And her success is just a taste of what's in store for 2006.
So, if Sam Alito on the Supreme Court upsets you as much as it does me, I hope you'll sign up for a DFA Training Academy event near you today. Running the best campaign possible is a prerequisite to victory. And training is essential for running a great campaign.
You have the power, now get the skills. I hope to see you soon.
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County.
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
Center for American Progress
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