Saturday, January 14, 2006

diggin' up 'balance'

How come Republicans can find has-beens with axes to grind to say anything bad about veterans and no one in the media calls it. But if some actual ex-administration official speaks the truth, they are labeled as spiteful liers by the traditional press?

Just compare what they said about Richard Clarke versus Don Bailey. Bailey, who lost to Murtha over twenty years ago in a primary, claims that Murtha told him he lied to get his purple hearts. First of all, even if that was true, which there is nothing behind it but lies...but even if it was true, how does that make what Murtha says about the war less true? He still would be a decorated war veteran and ex-Marine who has been the head of the House Defense Appropriation Committee and has garnered great respect for the brass at the Pentagon. He voted for the war. And now he strongly believes based on what he has been told by military folks in the field, that the war is unwinniable and that we need to go home.

Now, I don't know if I agree with Murtha. I think there is a lot of truth to what he says though. And I have more reason to trust him than say, Scott McClelland or Dick Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney or George W. Bush.

So why do we have to listen to repeated baseless attacks against veterans who oppose the war in Iraq? Why do these charges recieve any air time. One word: balance. THe right wing brutalized the traditional media into beliving that since the journalist themselves were culturally liberal, their news was similarily liberal. Of course, the TRUTH or FACTS are not liberal or conservative or moderate. They are just facts or truth. And the fact is, the war is not going well. The fact is, our troops keep dying and there is absolutely no stablity or security over in Iraq. In terms of everyday municipal services, life is worse post-Saddam than pre-Saddam. The electricity is off days at a time, there are Carter-style gas lines, no trash pick up, etc. Sure they have democracy, but what good are free elections if those elected will make your country Iran II?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

can't get enough hearing highlights

Today's the last day of Senators questioning the nominee. Next up, interest groups gone wild!

But first, some irony (not Atlantis Morissette-style) Sen. Biden said Supreme Court nominees are so mum about the major legal issues at their Senate confirmation hearings that the hearings serve little purpose and should probably be abandoned. According to the NY Times, "Mr. Biden used about 1800 words in his 20 minutes Wednesday, down from about 3800 words during his 30 minutes Tuesday. In each case, Judge Alito got in about 1,000." Some more Biden moments, from the Times: "Discussing the Family and Medical Leave Act, he noted that his own wife, daughter-in-law and daughter had all worked through their pregnancies until the time that they gave birth. He noted that his daughter was now in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. And he reiterated once again that he was an 'Irish Catholic kid from Claymont' who would not have been comfortable in the old days at Judge Alito's alma mater, Princeton."

Mrs. Alito broke down in tears yesterday. No one knows whether this was due to tremenous boredom, the Democrats' attempts at attacking Alito's character, or Republicans' at asking him overly soft questions.

Kohl sought to get Alito to say good things about O'Connor and that he would be just like her on the SCOTUS. Alito refused to go along, saying he would be the same guy that HW Bush appointed to the 3rd circuit.

Feingold says assume all procedures are perfect - is there a contitutional right to not be executed if one is innocent? Alito again stresses the procedural protections in place to prevent this.

Schumer showed little patience to sit and listen to Alito's rather lengthy responses, which were drawn out and utterly neutral explanations of methods of analysis: how he would approach a case, rather than how he would decide it. Schumer then tried a kind of multiple choice approach [no pens and bubble sheets jokes please]: "Judge, I'm going to give you two interpretations of the Commerce Clause....Which one is closer to your view of the Commerce Clause?" A. Congress can do whatever B. Morrison/Lopez rock C. Can we go in the way back machine to 1937?

Specter asks Grassley to tell Alito his Anita Hill story in order to give Alito a brief respite. Grassley says that during the Anita Hill hearings many people confused him with Specter and berated his questioning of Ms. Hill.

Turning to the "unified executive" theory, Sessions asks a hard question: "There are only three branches, aren't there?" Alito: Last time I checked. Previously, Sessions noted that Alito's sister is at the hearings and they were debate partners in school. Wants to know who was better. Alito takes the 5th.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

more Alito fun

Biden, who rambled about being a Ivy League parent for a while yesterday, donned a a Princeton Univ. hat to show how he too was a concerned alumni of princeton (CAP).

Coburn expressed anger that Sen. Durbin changed his mind on the abortion question, but wasn't there. When Durbin got there, he was upset about the comment and wanted to respond, but Coburn was no longer there. When Coburn was there, and Durbin was only 20 seconds into his response he referred to Sen. Hatch, who, of course, wasn't in the room. Specter said they would have to get the 3 Senators in the hearing at the same time. Meanwhile, they are supposed to be asking questions to some guy who is could replace Sandra Day for life, what was his name again?

Kennedy motioned for the committee to go into executive session to consider issuing a subpoena for records related to Concerned Alumni of Princeton. Specter, caught off guard by Kennedy's motion, scolded Kennedy for not mentioning the proposal in advance. Kennedy said he sent Specter a letter on 12/22 requesting the "William Rusher papers" from the Library of Congress. Kennedy: "If you're going to rule it out of order, I want to have a vote on that." Specter to Kennedy: "I'm not going to have you run this committee" Specter: "There was no letter, which I received... I take umbrage at you telling me what I received." Then Kennedy presented Specter's reply to Kennedy's initial letter. Oops.

Sen. Feinstein wants to try "one more time" to get him to give her a satisfactory answer on Roe. She says that according to the Washington Post, yesterday Alito used a phrase to describe stare decisis -- that precedent "is not an exorable command" -- that the former Chief Justice used in a case in which he was arguing for overruling Wade. Did he mean to use it in the same way? Alito and Feinstein discuss whether one should believe everything one reads in the Washington Post.

And a congressional hearing wouldn't be complete without a sports or war analogy. Grassley Compared Alito to a quarterback whose team is ahead in the fourth quarter, charged that Democrats are going to keep "trying to sack you." "They haven't hit you all day," he said, so expect some "last minute Hail Marys." GROAN.

Hatch spent most of his time lobbing softball questions to Alito that allowed him to rebut criticisms made over the past two days by Democratic senators.

HATCH: But most employment discrimination cases really are decided at the lower level. ALITO: Most of them are. HATCH: And when they get up to your level it's generally decided on technical or a procedural basis. Am I wrong in that? ALITO: No, that's correct, Senator.

And now for some boring actual questions about pressing constitutional issues:

LEAHY: But does the president have unlimited power just to declare a statute -- especially if it is a statute he had signed into law -- to then declared that unconstitutional, and he’s not going to follow it?
ALITO: If the matter is later challenged in court, of course, the president isn’t going to have the last word on that question. That’s for sure. And the courts would exercise absolutely independent judgment on that question. It is emphatically the duty of the courts to say what the law is when constitutional questions are raised in cases that come before the court.
LEAHY: Now, that is an answer I agree with. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

hearing quote of the day

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believes Judge Sam Alito when he says he doesn't remember certain parts of his murder boards.

Alito smiled appreciately.

Continued Graham: "And if any of us come before a court and say we can't remember Abramoff, you'll believe us."

"Abramoff who?" queried another Senator.

"Wasn't he the guy in the Bible?" asked a third.

It would be funny if so many Republicans weren't going to jail.

members of congress that hurt america

There are members of congress on both sides of the ailse that really upset me for all the crap they do that is a disservice to our system of governance.

1. Joe Biden (D-DE): All he does is talk. It took him over ten minutes to get to a question for ScAlito today. The Senator is on nearly every weekend on some Sunday talk show, and tries to squeeze in some time to talk to Jim Lehrer and Jon Stewart during the week. The George Hamilton of the Senate is so eagar to be on TV and in print that he is willing to be the guy that attacks his fellow Democrats and such a blow hard that even when he is trying to pitch for his team, he bores and annoys everyone in his path.

2. Tom Coburn (R-OK): Such a culture warrior that he has to cry about how divided this country is, and then do a crossword. I am sick of being lectured by someone on Abortion because they are a "doctor" and some how their opinion matters more. Not when your argument has nothing to do with medicine Senator.

3. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): This Rep. makes long speeches on bridges not bombs and other oratory devices that put his former collegue James "convicted for bribery and money laundering" Trafficant to shame. Routinely endorces policies that either have no chance of occuring or if they do would be disasterous. See his term as mayor.

4. Richard Palmbo (R-CA): I am not sure if I spelled his name right, but all he cares about his how quickly resources can be extracted from the environment, planet and endangered species be damned. And he is the chair of the House Resources Committee.

5. Joe Lieberman (D-CT): for enambling a disasterous and rabidly administation to claim "bipartisan support" by having Joementum's support. Joe lives in the same fantasy world as Bush when it comes to how things in Iraq are going.

But really we should be talking about ScAlito and what a farce "advise and consent" has become in recent years. The judiciary committee should not be divided by party and with competing hyperpartisans. This a serious job for lifetime appointments. Maybe they should let staffers do it, or senators that are not ramblers, idiots, or generally crazy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

notice something?

Reuters Headlines
Sharon breathes on own, moves slightly
Cheney leaves hospital after breathing scare

Were the two related? Why do democracies keep electing old, fat overstressed men with a history of poor coronary health?

I was listening to the German equivalent of 60 Minutes daily recently and the commenters asked some damn good questions: Why wasn't there doctors around the clock with Sharon? Why was he at a farm so far away from medical care? Why did they not take him to the best hospital in the county? Why was he not on blood thinners?

The whole thing seemed rather botched and haphazard, like they had no idea the man had had a previous stroke, was old, and under lots of stress.

Then again, if Cheney died or had a Sharon-like stroke/coma, what would the Bush administration do? Katrina shows they are not good a preparing with or dealing with natural disasters. Even though this one has long been forseen, somehow I doubt they have any contingency plans. Bush would be very sad but then use the appointment of VP to change the topic and boost his own ratings.