I tried to confine my comments to four observations:
#1. We Democratic voters are SECOND CLASS CITIZENS: The Republican-Right was able to OBSTRUCT, quash, derail, President Bush's Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, without even mussing their hair. We Democrat voters who object strenuously to the Alito nomination are told "there aren't enough votes."
This is an abject lie. There are 44 Democratic Senators, only 40 votes are needed to sustain a veto. If Senate Republicans want to be President Bush's toadies and dispense with 200 years of Senate rules and tradition by using the "Nuclear Option" as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has threatened - let them. Let them explain their votes to American voters in the next election. If Senate DEMOCRATS want to OPPOSE an Alito filibuster, let THEM go on the record as doing so!
Worse, there is to date not even ONE Democratic Senator willing to make a SYMBOLIC fight, willing to 'take one for the team." Senator Jesse Helms was able to obstruct a DOZEN Democratic nominees and appointees, merely by putting their nomination "in his pocket." (Using the "pocket veto," which is effectively a filibuster as well, Senator Helms even prevented a popular Republican governor, William Weld of Massachusetts, from being confirmed as President Clinton's ambassador to Mexico.)
In this (non-filbuster of a partisan and divisive Supreme Court nominee), the Senate Democrats are REPEATING their abject REFUSAL to support the Black Congressional Caucus' demands for an investigation of the Florida recount debacle, in December of 2000, when Vice President Gore gaveled the caucus leaders into submission. This time around, there is a Black (African-American) Senator, and Vice President Gore cannot be portrayed as being a self-serving partisan, so the Senate Democrats have no excuse for not only going through a symbolic fight, but for marshaling their forces to sustain a filibuster as well.
#2. The Democrats can't plead ignorance, and say that they don't know what they are getting with the Alito nomination. They do know what they are getting - they are getting another Justice Scalie. Scalia wrote the opinion in "Bush vs. Gore" which stopped the vote recount in Florida. Florida election law is very clear: in the event of a vote where the winner wins the popular vote by less than 1%, ALL VOTES SHALL BE RECOUNTED at the request of the losing candidate. Dispensing with decades of "States Rights" conservative rhetoric and talking points, George W. Bush and his Republicans went running to the US Supreme Court, requesting that the Supreme Court overrule a Florida State Supreme Court decision to recount votes. On behalf of a partisan court Justice Scalia wrote that partisan decision, and recognizing how partisan and irrational it was, Justice Scalia instructed that the decision should never be used as precedent in any other case!
#3. In the summer of 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush campaigned as a "more bipartisan" candidate and leader, a "Uniter, not Divider." Yet from the time of his appointment to the White House by the Scalia/Rhenquist court, Mr. Bush has taken considerable effort to ram the most partisan nominees he can find into high court and federal government positions. Republicans and Republican-friendly media are free to broadcast Hillary Clinton's "Congress is ruled like a plantation" comments repeatedly (ignoring serial Republican scandals and crimes to do so, including CONVICTIONS of Abramoff and Cunningham, INDICTMENTS of Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Bush presidential advisor Lewis Libby, massive corruption in Iraq war contracts, and unlimited spying by the NSA), while Democrats have NEVER ONCE to my knowledge tried to hold accountable to Mr. Bush's own "more bipartisan" pledge, much less round up the videos of Mr. Bush making that pledge with such self-assurance and repetition at campaign appearances around the country.
#4. We are told "We don't have the votes" in the Senate, and in my home state of Florida, we are told "we have only 45% of the vote, we don't have a majority." I don't believe it on either count. Even setting aside for a moment (as "conspiracy theory") my convictions that the majority of Florida voters voted for Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004 respectively, I believe that the VAST MAJORITY of Florida voters identify with the Democratic AGENDA, if not Dem. candidates. 40 hour work week, overtime, public education, Social Security, the SEC to safeguard investors and prosecute stock fraud; the FDIC to insure savings, at one time, ALL of these issues were considered "Radical," "socialist" if not "dangerously subversive." Today, we take them for granted, although the Republican Party never tires in trying to subvert or destroy them. Most recently, the Republican Social Security "reform" plan was shot down, not by strong Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, but by grassroots activists of both parties. Activists who realized (again, without much effort or leadership from the Democratic Party) that President Bush's "privatization" scheme for Social Security was code for "do to Social Security recipients what Enron insiders did to Enron stockholders and pensioners."
I called Senator Feinstein's office, and after explaining that I am not a California constituent, I nevertheless requested that Senator Feinstein filibuster the Alito nomination, as there are only so many Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it is obviously up to the Judiciary Committee senators to LEAD the fight in any senate judiciary battles. I was told by a staffer or intern that Senator Feinstein was opposed to the nomination, and would vote against it, but no, a filibuster would not, in Senator Feinstein's estimation, do any good at all.
You can be "opposed" to violent crime, but if someone is mugged, screaming and pleading for help, on your doorstep, and you don't even pick up the phone to call the police, can you really claim that you are a good citizen who upholds the law? That event actually happened in the 1980s (in Philadelphia? In Connecticut?) where a woman was assaulted, beaten, and raped, screaming the whole time, and although hundreds of people heard her cries, no one even called the police, much less came to her aid.
Are Senator Feinstein and our other Senate Democratic "leaders" the picture of gross apathy, impotence, a failure to uphold the laws and 200 years of Senate tradition? Are Democratic voters truly second-class citizens, one-half-step away from the disenfranchisement of the pre-1965 Voting Rights era?
Are Republicans forever free to make mountains out of Senator Clinton's "Congress is run like a plantation" statement, WHILE DIVERTING ATTENTION from the Bush White House's many connections to convicted bribery lobbyists Jack Abramoff? (Not only will the Bush White House not comment on what Mr. Abramoff requested or who he saw in his many visits there, but the White House won't even tell us how many times Mr. Abramoff visited the White House. This is a repeat of the Ganon-Guckert scandal of two years ago. By comparison, the Republicans practically made a crime out of President Clinton inviting friends and supporters to spend the night in the White House, the so-called "Lincoln Bedroom Scandals.")
Yes, Republicans can raise more money than Democrats, the billions of dollars missing from the US Treasury since the Clinton-Gore administration have gone in the form of "kickbacks" - multibillion dollar tax-cuts - to President Bush's core supporters, wealthy people who will gladly write out a $100,000 check to the Republican Party or Bush campaign, after receiving millions in reduced taxes.
Yes, the corporate media is solidly in the pocket of the Republican Party and Bush White House. Today's New York Times article on the Democrat's response to the Abramoff lobbying scandal is headlined << Democrats Claim a Better Idea on Controlling Lobbying >> instead of "Democrats Demand Answers to Abramoff Bribery Scandal."
And, yes, Democrats keep nominating confusing and indecisive candidates for the only national election, in 2000 Al Gore ran away from Environmental protesters in an Everglades appearance, despite his co-authorship of the $8.7 billion Everglades Restoration bill!, and in 2004 John Kerry stood there like a dumb punching bag as George W. Bush looked into national TV cameras and said "My opponent is a FLIP-FLOPPER!" (Kerry never took the time or effort to explain to voters that Mr. Bush had "FLIP-FLOPPED" on his "Get Osama bin Laden dead or alive pledge", even with White House videos available showing that "FLIP-FLOP" coming from Mr. Bush's own words, and even with considerable documentation that US forces had Osama bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, but with troops diverted to the Iraq-War buildup, bin Laden was able to escape capture by America's hired Afghan proxies.)
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