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January 10, 2006

Very funny.

The GOP plans to call as a pro-Alito witness Cathy Fleming. Here's her bio from the GOP's witness list culled from an email press release out of Arlen Specter's office:

Tentative Majority Witness List and Bios:
Panel 5 - Witnesses acquainted with Judge Alito's legal work

Cathy Fleming - a Partner at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, who served as a division chief when Alito was New Jersey U.S. Attorney.  She is the president-elect of the National Association of Women Lawyers.  

Ms. Fleming is the President-Elect of The National Association of Women Lawyers, the nation's oldest women's bar association devoted to the interests of women lawyers and their families, and is a partner at the law firm of Edwards & Angell in New York.  She specializes in complex civil and white collar criminal litigation.  She has been in private practice for more than 25 years. She has known Judge Alito for nearly 20 years, having worked with him when he was the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and she was the Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit.  Ms. Fleming is a life-long Democrat, outspoken women's rights advocate, and liberal-minded criminal defense attorney.

Wow. The president-elect of the National Association of Women Lawyers! Good score! Well, what does NAWL have to say about Alito?

The National Association of Women Lawyers
("NAWL"), Committee for the Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees, has evaluated Judge Samuel Alito for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Committee has determined that Judge Alito is not qualified to serve on the Court from the perspective of laws and decisions regarding women's rights or that have a special impact on women.


Update: I have reproduced the entire Specter email here, which lays out the schedule for the week and GOP witness list.

Categories: Blogs
  • The Alito hearings are covered on MSNBC, and they couldn't find a single Democrat or liberal to comment on them? Not one? Instead, they gave us Pat Buchanan, Ed Gillespie, and Bill Frist. Let MSNBC hear it: [email protected].

  • Think Progress thinks that Lindsey Graham's behind-the-scenes coaching of Alito could violate Senate ethics guidelines. That would just be par for the course for this GOP congress. They also note that if Alito is like an "umpire" (Cornyn's analogy), he'd be an umpire that always roots for the home team.

  • Hotline on Call has summarized everyone's opening statements today in Haiku format.

  • Jane Hamsher notes that we can stop Alito, despite the GOP spin of inevitability and consternation in some parts of the liberal blogosphere. And she's right. The key right now is to focus on spreading the word about who Alito really is and how afraid Republicans are of that happening (except for Coburn).

  • The Legal Times has a comprehensive, in-depth "field guide" to the Alito heartings.

Categories: Blogs
Wow. OK's Tom Coburn really IS a loon.

COBURN: You know, how is it that we have sodomy protected under that due process but prostitution unprotected? It's schizophrenic. And the reason it's schizophrenic is there's no foundation for it whatsoever other than a falsely created foundation that is in error.. I don't know if we'll ever change that. It's a measure of our society.

But the fact is that you can't claim, in this Senate hearing, to care for those that are underprivileged, to those that are at risk, to those that are vulnerable, to those that are weak, to those that suffer and, at the same time, say I don't care about those who have been ripped from the wombs of women and the complications that have come about throughout that.

So, the debate, for the American public -- and the real debate here is about Roe.

But he's a useful loon. The Republicans managing Alito's nomination would love nothing more than to pretend Roe is not an issue and to continue hiding Alito's actual agenda. Yet here is Coburn attempting to rip the veil off the whole charade.

Here's a link to the full transcript of today's hearings.

Categories: Blogs
In his opening statement today, Judge Samuel Alito, runs away from his record and his beliefs:

In his 12-minute statement, Judge Alito was not only expressing his core beliefs and values but, perhaps, seeking to reassure those who fear that his conservative views would make him too beholden to President Bush and tilt the Supreme Court too far to the right.

"A judge can't have an agenda, a judge can't have a preferred outcome," the nominee said. "A judge can't have a client."

Nor, he suggested, has he been a rigid ideologue on the bench. "Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds" when they read the next brief or hear the next argument, he said.

Of course, as his dissents in Casey and Rybar clearly illustrated, Judge Alito does have preferred outcomes and is willing to distort precedent, the Constitution and the law to achieve them.

And we know what his preferred outcomes are. That he does not want to acknowledge them, that his supporters are ashamed of their views and Alito's views, tells all.

I'll be on Air America's Majority Report tonight around 7:45 EST to discuss the first day of the Alito hearings.

Categories: Blogs
Listening to Box Turtle Cornyn, you won't be surprised to see the GOP Talking Points on ScAlito:

Subject: TALKING POINTS: Judge Samuel Alito - A Career Dedicated To Public Service
To: Communications Update


President Bush Believes This Nation Deserves A Dignified Process Of Confirmation In The Senate, With A Fair Hearing.  Senators have had an opportunity to meet with Judge Alito, review hundreds of opinions and thousands of votes and thousands of pages of supporting documents, including speeches, articles, testimony and other writings. Judge Alito is looking forward to the hearings and answering questions from the Committee.

[Can we ask him a few questions about those documents and opinions?>

. . . Judge Alito Began His Distinguished Career With Close To 15 Years Of Service At The U.S. Department Of Justice, Including Three Years As US Attorney For New Jersey.  As US Attorney, he was known for his unquestioned character, fair-mindedness and even-handed approach to cases.  He was also credited with successfully prosecuting white collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime, and violations of civil rights.

[Known by whom?]

. . . Ø      Michael Gilberti, who worked with Alito in the US Attorney's office, addressed attempts by Alito's opponents to attack his character: "I defy anybody to say anything bad about Sam's private and professional character." (Henry Gottlieb, "No Doubt Where Alito Stands," New Jersey Law Journal, 11/7/05)

[You do? Explain his lying to the Senate.]

His 15-Year Record On The Third Circuit Shows Him To Be A Fair, Thorough Judge Who Respects Precedents And Applies The Law Even-Handedly.  Judge Alito has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in over 70 years.  Judge Alito's jurisprudence and integrity have been praised by legal scholars, former law clerks, and colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

[His friends say he is a good guy. That's dispositive. Riiight.]

Ø      Legal Ethics Professor Ronald Rotunda responded to ethics attacks by liberal interest groups: "These charges of ethics violations are absurd.... Twenty years of ethics opinions and case law are uniform in reaching this conclusion." (Professor Ronald Rotunda, 11/4/05).

[Ronald Rotunda who gets a paycheck from the Bush Adminsitration for his work with the Pentagon? Puhleeeeaze.]

Judge Alito's Career Is The Epitome Of "The American Dream."

 . . . Ø      Judge Alito graduated valedictorian of his public high school, received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University and attended Yale Law School, where he served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal.

[Well. no one said he was dumb.]

You know what's missing of course. Nothing about ScAlito judicial philosophy and views. The dirty little secret is of course that ScAlito is an extreme conservative. Why aren't Republicans proud of ScAlito's views?

Categories: Blogs
Ahh, this is why Bush has never vetoed any bills:

When George Bush signed the defense appropriation bill containing John McCain's amendment removing torture and other human rights violations from the official repertoire of the armed forces, he added his own little amendment: "Unless I say otherwise." The vehicle through which he reserved the option to break the law is called a bill-signing statement, and as Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson revealed on Friday, the McCain bill was far from the first victim of the practice: Bush has used it some 500 times since taking office [...]

Bush doesn't veto bills because in his view, he doesn't have to; he can simply ignore the ones he doesn't like.

The administration have made that argument explicit, but only in terms of the president's capacity as "commander in chief" during an endless war, as with the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping, the decisions to ignore various Geneva Conventions and the selective suspension of habeas corpus. According to the Hutcheson story, though, it isn't only legislation dealing with national security issues that the White House asserts the right to ignore.

In 2003, lawmakers tried to get a handle on Bush's use of signing statements by passing a Justice Department spending bill that required the department to inform Congress whenever the administration decided to ignore a legislative provision on constitutional grounds.

Bush signed the bill, but issued a statement asserting his right to ignore the notification requirement.

Seriously, why doesn't King George just dissolve Congress and get it over with.

Categories: Blogs
Poor DeLay. The Massive Conspiracy to Get Him to Step Aside seems to include the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order two days after he announced he was stepping down as House majority leader. DeLay had been forced to temporarily relinquish the Republican leadership post after he was indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges in September.

DeLay, who denies wrongdoing, had been trying to rush to trial in Texas in hopes of clearing his name and regaining the position.

And my opening graf wasn't hyperbole. That's been DeLay's spin.

Update: Oh, one further note -- the nine judges on this appeals court are all elected. And they are all Republicans.

Categories: Blogs
Michael at AMERICAblog. Apologies for stealing the whole thing, but this deserves as wide a reading as possible.

The far right wants us to believe that Supreme Court nominee Alito is similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Even though everyone knew Ginsburg was a liberal, she was passed by a vast majority in the Senate. They are both in the mainstream of judicial philosophy, the far right says. So Alito deserves the same treatment because he's "qualified."

So why is Alito so ashamed of his entire career?

Ginsburg IS in the mainstream of judicial philosophy, even though she's clearly a strong liberal. But she never pretended to be anything else. And everything on Ginsburg's resume was something she was proud of. Every group she belonged to, every organization she worked for, every position she staked out on the issues of the day and every promise she made reflected who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, what she stood for and what she believed in.

Did she insist you shouldn't read anything into her work for the ACLU? Of course not; she was proud of that work. Did she insist you shouldn't read anything into her activism over the years, her push for equality among the sexes? Don't be absurd. Did she break her word on solemn pledges made before the Senate? Never.

Nothing could be further from the truth for Alito. He is apparently ashamed of everything he's ever done. Alito boasted on an application for promotion in the Reagan administration about belonging to the racist, Neanderthal-ish Concerned Alumni For Princeton. Now he pretends he can't remember ever belonging to them at all.

Alito said he wanted to become a lawyer because he was so distraught about Supreme Court rulings that led to "one person, one vote," a cornerstone of our modern democracy. Now, he says we should ignore his consistent, persistent attacks on affirmative action.

Alito also cannily helped to devise the incremental approach to dismantling Roe v Wade that has been the very tactic the far right has used. Now Alito says to ignore all that.

Alito has repeatedly proven he believes the president is more like an emperor -- someone who deserves almost unlimited deference from the Supreme Court, especially during a time of war.

Finally, Alito pledged to the Senate that he would recuse himself under certain situations as a federal judge. He repeatedly broke that pledge. His excuses vary: he forgot, the computers shouldn't have assigned him those cases in the first place, he never HAD to recuse himself, and finally he never promised he would recuse himself forever. The reasons change, but the fact remains: Alito gave his word and then he broke it. He can't be trusted.

Since Alito is so clearly ashamed of himself, shouldn't we be ashamed of him and keep him off the Supreme Court?

While conservatives like to pretend that the country is with them, their actions speak louder than words.

If the country is truly with them, why do they have to spin, lie, and frame away the things they truly stand for? Scalito is just the latest in a long history of efforts to hide what they really stand for.

To conservatives I say, "Be proud! Stand tall! Tell people what you TRULY believe! And if they're with you, then you've won the war of ideas. But quit the subterfuge. It's quite unbecoming."

Of course, they won't listen. They know that a full airing of their views would doom them. It would doom Alito. And as such, true conservatism remains in the closet, pathetically hiding in the shadows.

Categories: Blogs

January 7, 2006

It seems Tom DeLay has finally decided that he's perhaps not the best face to represent House Republicans.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay decided Saturday to give up his post as House majority leader, clearing the way for new leadership elections among House Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal, two officials said.

Perhaps it was the Abramoff flip. Perhaps it because prosecutors have identified a second lobbying firm that appears to have been set up primarily to rake in the bucks for DeLay.

The firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is of particular interest to investigators because it was founded by Edwin A. Buckham, a close personal friend of Mr. DeLay's and his former chief of staff, and has been a lucrative landing spot for several former members of the DeLay staff, people who are directly involved in the case have said.


The firm openly promoted the idea that it could deliver access to Representative DeLay, the former majority leader. The firm paid Mr. DeLay's wife $115,000 in consulting fees, while conducting business with Mr. Abramoff's firm. Mr. Abramoff helped Mr. Buckham set up his firm.

Or maybe it's because fellow Republican House members are increasingly unwilling to go down with the USS Corruption ship.

Will this remove the taint from the House leadership, and by extension all House Republicans? I somehow doubt it. I, for one, am very much looking forward to what Abramoff has to say, as well as what investigators might have picked up from that wire Duke Cunningham wore.

Update [2006-1-7 13:38:5 by mcjoan]: Hahahahahaha!!! DeLay's formal resignation in a letter to fellow Republicans has been released. It's just so darned cute.

In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said, "I have always acted in an ethical manner."

At the same time, "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention," the Texas Republican wrote.


In a separate letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert, DeLay said he intends to seek re-election to his House seat in November "while I work to clear my name of the baseless charges leveled against me."

DeLay's about-face came amid growing pressure from fellow Republicans who were concerned about their own political futures in the wake of this past week's guilty pleas by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Categories: Blogs
Prof. Phillip E. Johnson is a Professor Emeritus of Law at UC Berkeley and a senior advisor and cofounder of The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (Catchy name for a right-wing think tank dedicated in large part to discrediting science). As the story goes, following an emotionally exhausting mid-life reevaluation of some sort, Johnson was born again and eventually set out to destroy what he calls materialist science.

The mission of the Intelligent Design PR movement as originally envisioned by Johnson is not limited to attacks on evolutionary biology. They see all science as lacking a proper theistic basis. As best I can discern, Johnson and his ilk want every field of science and indeed all public policy to be held hostage to some vague theocratic organization, with members of their own ultra-conservative religious faith occupying those seats of power. It is in this context that Johnson uses evolution to attack science. He calls evolution the 'thin edge of the wedge' with which to 'split the log of materialism open'. Much more below.

Categories: Blogs
These links are brought to you courtesy of the REALITY based community.  

  • My colleague Brent Rasmussen riffs on Creationists and Fundamentalists who complain that Reality is debatable and that the scientific method is unfairly restrictive because it doesn't uncritically accept vague claims of magic.

    [Link] When ID proponents whine about how [science] doesn't "allow" students or scientists to consider supernatural explanations for natural phenomenon it's like someone complaining that blue doesn't "allow" red.

  • The Rude Pundit takes off his rude cap and demonstrates why he's a sought after professional writer in a poignant series on the Reality of the devastation he recently witnessed along the Gulf Coast.

  • Lindsay Beyerstein reflects on the Reality she observed and photographed during her own visit to NOLA and the surrounding area

  • Meteor Blades pointed out the other day that over 6,000 people are Really still missing in the aftermath of Katrina.

  • Bird flu spreads to birds and a few humans in Turkey; the Feds suggest individual stockpiling may be a good idea, after all. [DemFromCT]

  • The Pew poll suggests the post-Schiavo end-of-life attitudes remain constant and in favor of individual decision; "By a wide margin, the public continues to disapprove of congressional action in 2005 that directed the federal courts to hear the case of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who later died after her feeding tube was removed. " [DemFromCT]

Categories: Blogs
From The Carpetbagger:

How about a rank-and-file, far-right Republican showing the courage to criticize Bush on this? I'd say Kansas' Sam Brownback fits the bill.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., on Friday said the Bush administration needed to answer questions about spying on Americans without court authorization. And Brownback said he disagreed with the administration's legal rationale, which he said could hamper future presidents during war.

"There are questions that should be examined at this point in time," Brownback said during a news conference. [...]

"I do not agree with the legal basis on which they are basing their surveillance -- that when the Congress gave the authorization to go to war that that gives sufficient legal basis for the surveillance," he said.

He said if the justification holds up, "you're going to have real trouble having future Congresses giving approval to presidents to go to war."

Brownback said this in Kansas, the Friday before Christmas weekend, perhaps to help Brownback play both sides of the fence -- he took a principled stand against presidential overreach, which few outside of Kansas will actually know about.

Let's hope that he's just the first of many hard-core Republicans, House or Senate--take your pick, to realize the extreme danger this power grab by the Bush administration poses to our legislative institution. Never mind the Constitution. I never thought I'd be typing this, but kudos to Sam Brownback for calling illegal, unauthorized activity just that.

Categories: Blogs
The New York Times just posted a story claiming that a secret Pentagon study, originally obtained by Soldiers for Truth, found that 80% -- eight out of ten! -- Marines with upper body wounds could have been saved by use of proper body armor.

The story reads like a classic example of total bureaucratic fucked-updom in action: increasing calls from the field wending their slow and laborious way through agencies and feet-dragging studies, as well as wrangling with cost factors.

Read it and weep. (The story also details other problems with procurements that the Times has been looking into in detail, thank God.)

Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows

A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds.

Military officials said they had originally decided against using the extra plates because they were concerned they added too much weight to the vests or constricted the movement of soldiers. Marine Corps officials said the findings of the Pentagon study caused field commanders to override those concerns in the interest of greater protection.
The findings and other research by military pathologists suggests that an analysis of all combat deaths in Iraq, including those of Army personnel, would show that 300 or more lives might have been saved with improved body armor.

Military officials and defense contractors said the Pentagon's procurement troubles have stemmed in part from miscalculations that underestimated the strength of the insurgency, and from years of cost-cutting that left some armoring firms on the brink of collapse as they waited for new orders.

Eight out of ten. Eight out of ten could have survived.

Please, dear God: set the bureaucratic bungling aside. Streamline whatever is going on. I don't give a rat's ass how much these things cost - as much as I hate the war, please ... hit me up with some taxes so these soldiers will survive.

What a godawful nightmare. Damn it! Support the troops, you asshats! This is criminal!

Here's link to a PDF copy of the study.

Categories: Blogs
The non-partisan Congressional Research Service has released its report on the legality of domestic spying.  It's conclusion: "the Administration's legal justification, as presented in the summary analysis from the Office of Legislative Affairs, does not seem to be as well-grounded as the tenor of that letter suggests."

The report, spanning 44 pages, carefully deconstructs each Bush argument. (Download the pdf here). Naturally, because no one has all the details about the program, the CRS reserved absolute conclusions about the legality of the program .  While it stretched--and I mean stretched--to find a logical and legal basis in Bush's arguments, but time and time again, the law is not on Bush's side.  Watch as each of Bush's rationales are knocked down:

On Bush's argument that FISA doesn't apply when the President exercises his inherent authority:

If Congress meant for FISA to occupy the entire field of electronic surveillance of the type that is being conducted pursuant to the President's executive order, then the operation may fall under the third tier of Justice Jackson's formula, in which the President's "power is at its lowest ebb" and a court could sustain it only by "disabling the Congress from acting upon the subject." In other words, if FISA, together with Title III, were found to occupy the field, then for a court to sustain the President's authorization of electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information outside the FISA framework, FISA would have to be considered an unconstitutional encroachment on inherent presidential authority.

More on the flip...

Categories: Blogs
This is getting ridiculous.

Military officials Friday announced the deaths of six more U.S. troops killed in the recent violence that's swept Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of Americans slain on the same day. Thousands of Shiites in Baghdad protested the bloodshed and what they claimed was American coddling of Sunni Arab insurgents.

And how's this for a tired response?

A spokesman for the U.S. military said insurgents are becoming more desperate as a democratic process increasingly takes hold -- "and desperate people are dangerous people."

Yeah. If violence is down, it's a good thing. If violence is up, it's a good thing. If violence is WAY up, it's a great thing.

The more effective they are in sowing chaos and killing our men and women in uniform, the more precarious their position.

Or something like that.

Categories: Blogs
  • Is Smokey Joe Barton in TX-06 afraid of Fighting Dem challenger Dave Harris? Seems so, since the corrupt Republican is already engaging in smear tactics against Harris.

  • Arianna details how charitable organizations are used to launder dirty GOP money.

  • Tweety thinks DeLay is just your regular ol' middle class type of guy. The kind of middle class guy that gets to travel first class to luxury resorts all over the world at lobbyist expense, dines at 4-star restaurants at lobbyist expense, and plays in the world's top golf courses. You know, an average joe.

  • Hotline on Call, which reported earlier that several Republican congressmen are agitating for new leaderhip elections, thinks a blog vs. establishment battle is brewing.

  • Wow. The latest generic congressional ballot poll from Ipsos-Reid has Dems up 49-36. It also has Bush at 40 percent, lower than some of the other polls.

  • Speaking of Bush and polls, expect a big bump from his State of the Union address. The question will not be whether he gets a bump -- he will -- it's whether his numbers survive the weeks after or whether he falls back down to earth.

  • How do the cowards on the Right mask their fears? They talk macho.

  • The Conservative rag Human Events makes a list of the Top 10 RINOs. I wouldn't mind some of these switching parties.

  • Cantwell looking good in the early going according to Rasmussen, who pegs her numbers at 51-36 over GOP challenger Mike McGavick. Also, Rasmussen will soon release numbers from Ohio that have good news for Dems in the governor's race, while both Brown and Hackett trail DeWine narrowly.

  • Holy shit, Sci Fri Friday is back! Glorious! Nerds everywhere rejoice!

  • Terrible news for Republicans hoping to stem their losses in November -- Ken Lucas will try to take back his old KY-04 seat surrendered when he retired in 2004.

Categories: Blogs
Clueless, incompetent and totally ignorant of history. Remind me ... how many people have died now because of the defiant, willful blindness of this administration? This sickens me.

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON - Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, NBC Television said on Friday.

Bremer, interviewed by the network in connection with release of his book on Iraq, recounted the decision to disband the Iraqi army quickly after arriving in Baghdad, a move many experts consider a major miscalculation.

When asked who was to blame for the subsequent Iraqi rebellion, in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have died, Bremer said "we really didn't see the insurgency coming," the network said in a news release.

The network, which did not publish a transcript of the interview, added that Bremer's comments suggested "the focus of the war effort was in the wrong place."

Categories: Blogs
This is brilliant.

The summary: Cowardly chickenhawk blogger says Patrick Henry was a chickenhawk too. Roger Ailes, well, puts him in his place. And hilariously so.

Categories: Blogs
Jesus, who can keep track of all the scandals anymore? And even the ones that seem settled are anything but. Take Duke Cunningham, for example. He's pled out, yet before doing so it looks like he took some people down with hiim.

Sources familiar with the situation say Cunningham, a California Republican who pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to taking $2.4 million in bribes -- including a yacht, a Rolls Royce and a 19th Century Louis-Philippe commode -- from a defense contractor, wore a wire at some point during the short interval between the moment he began cooperating with the feds and the announcement of his guilty plea on Nov. 28.

The identity of those with whom the San Diego congressman met while wearing the wire remains unclear, and is the source of furious -- and nervous -- speculation by congressional Republicans. A Cunningham lawyer, K. Lee Blalack, refused to confirm or deny the story, and wouldn't say whether Cunningham will implicate any other members of Congress. The FBI is believed to be continuing its probe of defense contractors involved in the Cunningham case.

Categories: Blogs
This is an open thread.

Categories: Blogs