Nuclear Option Archive:

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Day Democrats Said Enough

Posted by Bob Brigham

Every Republican Senator should be on notice, today isn't like yesterday. Tomorrow won't be either. We have new rules, Democrats with spine, and enough is enough. Today, Harry Reid attempted to end the cover-up surrounding how the Administration lied to the American people while fabricating a case for a needless war. Kos says:

Reid asked the Senate to go into special session on intelligence -- that is, a closed session -- to discuss prewar intelligence. This mostion, along with a second (provided by Durbin), requires all Senators to report to the Senate floor. It is a non-debatable motion.

Cue in lots of hystrionics from Frist and company. Republicans whined that this was a violation of Senate tradition. This coming from the gang that wants to eliminate the judicial filibuster. Frist whined that he wasn't consulted. As though Democrats have had a seat at the table in this Congress. They want to play hardball? Fine. Reid sent notice that he can play that game as well.

Frist whined, "Senator Daschle never did anything like this." Damn right. A new sheriff is in town.

Now, this is more than a temporary stunt. The Democratic leadership has promised to call a special session in the Senate every single day until Republicans alllow for a real investigation.

So let's see what we have here --

Democrats showing leadership and fight. Very nice. Democrats creating a media narrative around Republican stonewalling of a real investigation into pre-war intelligence. Also very nice. Republicans getting a taste of things to come if they initiate the nuclear option? Very crafty.

Here are some quick facts on Rule 21:


* Since 1929, the Senate has held 53 secret sessions, generally for reasons of national security.
* For example, in 1997 the Senate held a secret session to consider the Chemical Weapons Convention (treaty).
* In 1992, the Senate met in secret session to consider “most favored nation” trade status for China.
* In 1988, a session was held to consider the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and in 1983 a session was held on Nicaragua.
* In 1942, a secret session was held on navy plans to build battleships and aircraft carriers, and in 1943 a secret session was held on reports from the war fronts.
* Six of the most recent secret sessions, however, were held during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.


* During a secret session, the doors of the chamber are closed, and the chamber and its galleries are cleared of all individuals except Members and those officers and employees specified in the rules or essential to the session.

* Standing Senate Rules 21, 29, and 31 cover secret sessions for legislative and executive business. Rule 21 calls for the Senate to close its doors once a motion is made and seconded. The motion is not debatable, and its disposition is made behind closed doors.

Reid's full statement in the extended entry.

Reid ask to go into special session on intelligence to discuss intelligence failures and the war in Iraq. Statement below

Statement by Senator Reid
Troops and Security First

This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President's Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.

The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm's way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration's mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.

And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.

Let's take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.

The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.

There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.

The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq "has reconstituted its nuclear weapons." Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.

Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam's nuclear capabilities were false.
The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, "We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization."

The Administration's assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government's top experts did not agree with these claims.

What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration's manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.

There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.

For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam's WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration's claims of Saddam's nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

Given this Administration's pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.

This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone - the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm's way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.

The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration's Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:

o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration's assertions?
o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?

Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and ½ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.

At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.

We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee's annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests.

Indeed. In terms of the 2006 mid-term elections, it is important to note that Democrats have the high-ground:

Democratic Efforts to Address Misuse of Intelligence Have Been Repeatedly Blocked by Republicans

For more than two years, Senate Democrats have pressed Republicans to address the misuse of intelligence. At every turn, Republicans have blocked efforts to investigate how intelligence was used in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Below details the long record established by Democrats to investigate this matter.

March 14, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Mueller requesting an investigation into the origin of the Niger documents.

May 23, 2003 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to the CIA and State Department Inspectors General to review issues related to the Niger documents.

June 2, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller issued a press release endorsing a statement made of the previous weekend by Senator Warner calling for a joint SSCI/SASC investigation.

June 4, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller issued a press release saying he would push for an investigation. Senator Roberts issued a press release saying calls for an investigation are premature.

June 10, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts asking for an investigation.

June 11, 2003 – All Committee Democrats signed a letter to Senator Roberts asking for a meeting of the Committee to discuss the question of authorizing an inquiry into the intelligence that formed the basis for going to war.

June 11, 2003 – Senator Roberts issued a press release saying this is routine committee oversight, and that criticism of the intelligence community is unwarranted. Senator Rockefeller issued a press release calling the ongoing review inadequate.

June 20, 2003 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release laying out the scope of the inquiry.

August 13, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts making 14 points about the investigation, asking to expand the inquiry to address the “use of intelligence by policy makers” and asking for several other actions.

September 9, 2003 – After press reports quoting Senator Roberts as saying the investigation was almost over, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts urging him not to rush to complete the investigation prematurely.
October 29, 2003 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet expressing in strong terms that he should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.

October 30, 2003 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent letters to Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice expressing in strong terms that they should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.

October 31, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for documents related to the interaction between intelligence and policy makers, including the documents from the Vice President’s office related to the Powell speech.

November 2, 2003 – Senator Roberts made statements during a joint television appearance with Senator Rockefeller claiming that the White house would provide all documents they jointly requested.

December 5, 2003 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to National Security Advisor Rice asking for her help getting documents and access to individuals.

January 22, 2004 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.

February 12, 2004 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release announcing the Committee’s unanimous approval of the expansion of the Iraq review, to include use of intelligence in the form of public statements, and listing other aspects of what became Phase II.

March 23, 2004 – Senator Rockefeller sent yet another letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.

June 17, 2004 – Senators Roberts and Rockefeller joint press release announcing the unanimous approval of the report.

July 16, 2004 – Committee Democrats sent a letter to Bush asking for the one page summary of the NIE prepared for Bush. The Committee staff had been allowed to review it but could not take notes and the Committee was never given a copy.

February 3, 2005 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts outlining Committee priorities for the coming year and encouraging completion of Phase II.

August 5, 2005 – Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts expressing concern over the lack of progress on Phase II and calling for a draft to be presented to the Committee at a business meeting in September.

September 29, 2005 – All Committee Democrats joined in additional views to the annual Intelligence Authorization Bill criticizing the lack of progress on Phase II.

With actions like this, I think we will soon be hearing the title Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Posted at 04:14 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Culture of Corruption, Nuclear Option, Republicans, Scandals, Supreme Court | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

SCOTUS: Ethically Challenged John Roberts (Another Partisan Hack)

Posted by Tim Tagaris

An ethically challenged lawyer appointed by an ethically challenged "win-at-all-cost" administration.

U.S. v. Smithfield Foods - Roberts representing a pork processing company against Clean Water Act violations. This is what the court had to say about Roberts the litigator:

"The mischaracterization and distortion of this Memorandum is frustrating to the court. Quotes are being taken out of context, and it appears that words are being conveniently deleted or added for purposes of argument." "A totally misleading argument presented to this court."

I am not sure the amount of cases he has argued is very compelling if that is the way that he argues them.

UPDATE: Roberts on Roe v. Wade -- Brief field in Rust v. Sullivan

"We continue to believe that Roe was wrongfully decided and should be overturned." "[T]he Court's conclusions i Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."

UPDATE (Bob) John Aravosis has info from NARAL Pro-Choice America on John Roberts and the huge oppo file from Alliance for Justice on John Roberts.

UPDATE (Tim) Aravosis has more, including Roberts' weak resume, and militant crusade to erode a woman's right to privacy, choice, and apparently right to live free from violence.

UPDATE (Tim) Jeralyn already debunks the Right's first talking point, that he was approved by the Senate to the Appeals Court overhwlemingly.

UPDATE (Bob) Here is PFAW on John Roberts (PDF)

UPDATE (Bob) Update the dkosopedia page on John Roberts and the Wikipedia page on John Roberts.

UPDATE (Bob) The John G. Robert's 2003 Confirmation Hearings

UPDATE (Bob Chris Bowers is right, John Roberts is a Partisan Hack:

The Bush administration has clearly stepped up the nomination of John Roberts in order to deflect attention from Karl Rove. Really, it makes sense. One partisan hack is deflecting attention from another.

Karl Rove is a lifetime Republican operative. John Roberts has been filing briefs and providing legal support for recounts (Roberts worked for Bush-Cheney 2000 in Florida) on behalf of Republicans for two decades. John Roberts is a partisan hack taking the heat for another partisan hack. He has only been a judge for two years. He has been a partisan Republican hack for twenty years.

The Bush administration was elected by the Supreme Court, and now it is electing a member of its campaign team to the Supreme Court in order to deflect attention away from ethics violations by the head of its campaign team, Karl Rove. The is partisan hackery at its best. The Bush administration has decided to treat the Supreme Court as an ambassadorship.

And so the fight is enjoined--the Bush administration wants to nominate a partisan hack who helped elect Bush to the Supreme Court, which elected Bush, in order to deflect attention from possible the possibly treasonous activates of another partisan hack who led the Bush campaign in 2000 and 2004. And so this is our fight--the Supreme Court is not the Northern Mariana Islands. The Supreme Court is not a way to reward those who helped get you elected. The Supreme Court is not a way to help deflect attention from the ethics violations of those who helped elect you. The Supreme Court is not a place for partisan hacks, but the Bush administration thinks it is. And so this is our fight--country over partisanship. And so it begins.

Howard Dean (from a press release):

Washington - Faced with a growing scandal surrounding the involvement of Deputy White House chief of Staff Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby in the leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative, President Bush announced his nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court late this evening. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement on the nomination:

"It is disappointing that when President Bush had the chance to bring the country together, he instead turned to a nominee who may have impressive legal credentials, but also has sharp partisan credentials that cannot be ignored.

"Democrats take very seriously the responsibility to protect the individual rights of all Americans and are committed to ensuring that ideological judicial activists are not appointed to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will now have the opportunity to see if Judge Roberts can put his partisanship aside, and live up to a Supreme Court Justice's duty to uphold the rights and freedoms of every American and the promise of equal justice for all."

Posted at 08:02 PM in Activism, DNC Chair, General, Netroots, Nuclear Option, Plamegate, Scandals, Supreme Court | Technorati

Monday, June 27, 2005

Nuclear Option Redux

Posted by Bob Brigham

Tomorrow at 10:30 AM, Senator Bill Frist will be speaking at the Heritage Foundation. On Friday's Inside Politics, Bob Novak said that the speech would serve to kick-off another "nuclear option" war.

Judging by how the event is being billed, friends of the institution of the Senate should be very worried about the next Frist Holy War.

Posted at 02:15 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

SCOTUS: Re-Draw the Battle Lines or Cease Fire?

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Today's the big day. Will Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist retire? How about Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? Big decisions on several issues including protecting journalists from revealing sources, "The Ten Commandments," file sharing, and the death penalty.

Hopefully David will have something at some point in the near future on some of the decisions. Until then, follow the "court wire" for up to the minute information.

As for the retirements; I am ready for another fight.

UPDATE: Supreme Court rules against 10 Commandmnents Displays (Kentucky Case). We are still waiting to see if there is a retirement today. If there is, rest assured, the Fristians will use this decision as a rallying cry.
UPDATE 2: Supreme Court decides against hearing reporters cases in Valerie Plame case.
UPDATE3: File sharing companies liable for file-swapping (eh, David corrects me on Kos--this decision only means that a case against a company can go to trial).
UPDATE 4: Instead of covering the Supreme Court decisions and possible retirements, CNN and Fox News have found it perfectly reasonable to air some mass murderer's painstaking descriptions of 10 counts of murder, how he did each, in detail, and his sexual fantasies while he was killing them.

This could be a new low.

UPDATE 5: Supreme Court rules that you can display the 10 Commandments outside the Texas State House(Texas case).
UPDATE 6: Supreme Court adjourns with no retirements announced.

Posted at 09:49 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Spectator Sport: Watching Zealot Mental Breakdowns

Posted by Bob Brigham

All across America, people are beginning to understand that the zealots who lead the Republican Party will stop at nothing to ensure a one party political system. Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Tom DeLay have no respect for the rules, no respect for cooperation, no respect for debate. All they care about is forcing their extremist views upon America.

With great pleasure I've been watching the GOP response to the compromise that saved the institution of the Senate. This has been covered all over the blogosphere, but I found the following email of particular interest:


Radical Republicans and right-wing activists have repeatedly stressed their all-or-nothing position on the nuclear option. They find compromise unacceptable. After the defection of seven moderate Republican Senators from the pro-nuclear position of Senate Republican leadership, radical activists express their disappointment over failing to take the Senate nuclear.

Conservatives unhappy with the moderates’ deal because it is the same one offered by Senator Harry Reid, rejected by Senator Frist. Writing in the conservative National Review, Andrew McCarthy assessed the moderates’ deal: “Let’s say, instead, that they simply gave us the bottom line: (a) three of the president’s nominees get an up-or-down vote (i.e., exactly three of the pending seven left standing after the Democrats — in that spirit of compromise — whittled down from the original ten); (b) the Democrats remain free to filibuster (but only on the strict condition that, uh, well, that the Democrats feel like filibustering); and (c) the Republicans, on the brink of breaking four years of obstruction, decide instead to punt (and on the eve of a likely battle over a Supreme Court vacancy, no less). Sound familiar? Yes it does: It’s the deal that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered a week ago — and that was flatly rejected as paltry and unprincipled.” [National Review, 5/24/05]

Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson calls compromise a “complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans, great victory for Senate Democrats. "This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals. [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05]

Disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment: Dobson goes on: "We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust." [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05]

Former Republican presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, calls compromise a “travesty.” "Under this agreement it is now more likely that radical social change will continue to be forced on the American people by liberal courts committed to same sex marriage, abortion on demand and hostility to religious expression. The Republicans who lent their names to this travesty have undercut their President as well as millions of their most loyal voters. Shame on them all." [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05]

Moderate Republicans have thrown victory overboard. Paul Weyrich, veteran conservative organizer, says of the compromise," Once again, moderate Republicans have taken the victory and thrown it overboard." [New York Times, 5/24/05]

A big defeat for the Republicans, Democrats win even though they put a few judges up for confirmation. “Conservatives are going to be outraged over it," said Paul Weyrich, a veteran social conservative organizer and founder of the Free Congress Foundation. "And what do they get for it? This is about the Supreme Court, and the filibuster is still intact for the Supreme Court. This is a big defeat for the Republicans. The Democrats win even though they have got to put a few judges up for confirmation." [New York Times, 5/24/05]

Moderate Republicans didn’t have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority. The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition: said he was sitting with several conservative senators and a dozen Republican House members at the Capitol Hill Club when they learned of the agreement. "I tell you, you would have thought that the World Series had been forfeited for some dumb reason," Sheldon said. "They slapped their hands against their heads and cried out. They couldn't believe that this was the agreement." . . . . . Of the seven Republicans who signed the compromise agreement, Sheldon said: "They didn't have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority." [L.A. Times 5/24/05,0,69327.story?coll=la-home-headlines]

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says it’s not over. "I think we are going to be back here down the road," he said. [New York Times, 5/24/04]

Iowa Right to Life Committee president, Kim Lehman calls compromise “absurd,” an “abandonment.” In an interview, Lehman called the proposed compromise "absolutely absurd" and said it amounted to "abandonment" of the GOP. "The grassroots worked very hard to elect this Republican Senate. It's not an accident that we have the majority, and they've squandered it," she said. "When on earth did they decide to compromise the Constitution?" [CNN, Morning Grind 5/24/05]

Washington Times announces: “7 Republicans abandon GOP on filibuster. “The deal didn't satisfy Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has maintained that the Constitution requires up-or-down votes on all judicial nominees. ‘The agreement announced tonight falls short of that principle,’ the Tennessee Republican said on the Senate floor. ‘It falls short. It has some good news, and it has some disappointing news.’ “ [Washington Times, 5/24/05]

Right-wing activists warn compromisers about their chances in the Iowa caucuses. President of Iowa Christian Coalition Steve Scheffler, president of the Christian Coalition of Iowa, said '08 caucus-goers have a long memory and little patience for "Republicans who oppose George Bush's judges." "We'll educate people in the caucuses, and this is not going to do them a lot of good in terms of their presidential aspirations," Scheffler told the Grind. "If they think people who attend caucus are going to forget about this, they're sadly mistaken." [CNN, Morning Grind, 5/24/05]

Nothing else comes close short of nuclear war – activists vow to fight on. The Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley said the issue won't go away. "It's the biggest battle, nothing else comes close, short of nuclear war," he told the Grind. "It's the biggest job the president has, and it's the biggest test a candidate faces." [CNN, Morning Grind, 5/24/05]


Senator Frist compared Democratic efforts to prevent the nomination of out of the mainstream judges to an assassination. Frist: “Mr. President, The – In response, the Paez nomination – we’ll come back and discuss it further, and actually I’d like to come back to the floor and discuss it, and it really brings to I believe a point what is – the issue. And the issue is that we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have obstructed not one nominee but two, three, four five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten in a routine way. The issue is not cloture votes per se. It’s the partisan leadership-led use of cloture vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees.” [Senate Floor, 5/18/05]

Senator Frist says it’s the Constitution or the filibuster: “My goal is to have up or down votes, fair up or down votes, and it's based on principle, it's based on the Constitution," Frist said in a rare news conference Tuesday on the Senate floor. "One, at the end of the day, will be left standing. Either the Constitution... or the filibuster." [Gannett News Service, 4/27/05]

Frist says votes must go forward without the procedural gimmick of the filibuster. “Republicans believe in the regular order of fair up-and-down votes and letting the Senate decide yes or no on judicial confirmations free from procedural gimmicks like the filibuster,”

Frist: “It’s hard to compromise to the extent that people don’t get an up-or-down vote.” [Roll Call 5/11/05 Subscription Required]

Senator McConnell says compromise on judges is equivalent to a “random slaying.” McConnell: “any suggested agreement by the other side involves a kind of random slaying of good people.” [New York Times, 5/11/05]

McConnell says Republicans have the votes to go nuclear. “It has been my prediction that we will have the votes if this step is taken,” McConnell said. [Roll Call 5/11/05 Subscription Required]

Senator George Allen urges action: "I've been advocating for months that we should move on this." [LA Times 5/11/05]

Senator Hutchinson is ready to exercise the nuclear option. Kay Bailey Hutchison, supports going nuclear in the Senate by saying, “We need to move on with the confirmations.” [CQ Today, 5/3/05 Subscription Required]

Senator Santorum says the time has come: “The time has come for the Senate to reestablish that tradition, to end these destructive judicial filibusters and to give all judicial nominees the up-or-down vote they deserve.” [Washington Post, 4/17/05]

Santorum: "My motivation is to affirm the constitutional duty of all Senators to give advice and consent on the President's judicial nominations. That includes a vigorous...up or down vote" [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/22]

Senator John Cornyn says the filibuster must end: “Fundamentally, what we have is a partisan minority blocking a bipartisan majority from being able to act on the Senate floor. And this is something that we think needs to come to an end.” [CNN, 5/9/05]

Cornyn Said Frist Is Going Ahead With Nuclear Option. “Senator John Cornyn, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, tells us his party has the 51 votes necessary to implement the rule change and that Mr. Frist is getting ready to do just that.” [Wall Street Journal, Editorial, 2/1/05]

Senator Cornyn’s narrow parameters for a no-compromise compromise: won’t accept any proposal where some nominees get votes, others do not. “Well, I certainly couldn't support any proposal which suggests that some of the president's nominees get an up-or-down vote and others be thrown overboard, and with no promise of how a prospective Supreme Court nominee might be treated, whether they would be filibustered or not. We need a permanent solution to this problem, and I believe it should be along the lines that I've suggested: that all presidents' -- each president's nominees would be treated exactly the same and not dependent on who happens to take up the decision to block, in a partisan fashion, a bipartisan majority from being able to cast an up-or-down vote.”
[News Conference, 5/9/05]


Conservative pundit Bob Novak says compromise on judges is, “like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber.”
In response to a question from Al Hunt: “Bob, why would Senator Frist refuse an offer [by Reid] to break the deadlock?”

Novak responded: “Because the whole system is that you're not going to have -- like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say we're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person. They're going to -- they're going to say that this is not the way we're going to do it. They've had all kinds of different offers of that kind.” [CNN's The Capital Gang, 5/14/05]

Dr. Dobson says compromise would be an end run, and a betrayal. "If this is true," Dr. Dobson said in an interview Tuesday, "it will represent an end run around the majority leader and will quite frankly be seen as a betrayal of the millions of people who put George Bush and the Republicans in office." [New York Times 5/11/05]

Frist goaded into action by disgraced former staffer who says delay would be “intolerable.” Manuel Miranda, a former nominations counsel for Senator Frist who was forced to resign from the majority leader's office after leaking strategy memos from activist groups to Senate Democrats on which nominations to filibuster. Winning the fight over judges is "vitally important for his political future," says Miranda. "But even if he were not to run for president it's important for his legacy. He knows he will not be remembered for the class‑action bill or the healthy forest initiative." [Christian Science Monitor 5/11/05]

“It must happen next week,” Manuel Miranda, chairman of the National Coalition to End the Judicial Filibuster, said during last week’s recess. “It would be considered intolerable to delay any further than next week. … Were it to be delayed beyond the next week, the Senate GOP should expect tens of thousands of angry phone calls and faxes to tie up their lines.” [Roll Call 5/12/05 Subscription Required]

Right-wing groups think it’s time to cash in, warning Republicans to vote for the nuclear option. On one side are conservative leaders who, after helping Republicans gain control of the White House and Congress, want results. If the Senate GOP leadership accepts anything less than a vote on each of Bush's nominees, ''I think people will be extremely upset,'' said Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network. [AP, 5/17/05]

GOP won’t let any nominations fail. On the notion that GOP leaders might allow some nominations to fail without a vote, she said flatly, ''They won't.'' [AP, 5/17/05]

Posted at 03:28 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

The Revitalized Democratic Party

Posted by Bob Brigham

For the last two weeks, I've been blessed with a front-row seat to the filibuster fight. It has been a remarkable experience and as Swing State Project pivots back to focusing on 2006 races, I will miss the urgency of the battle. Make no mistake, this was a battle royale and I believe it will be remembered as a turning point in the transformation of the Democratic Party.

My first observation is that the Democrats didn't roll over and die. The Democratic Leadership Council has so thoroughly wrecked the Democratic Party that I believe it is important to emphasize this. On too many battles since the DLC bought the party, Democrats have feared to engage in political battle. Much to my surprise, under Senator Harry Reid's leadership, Democrats are willing to stand up fight.

The Democratic Party still has a long way to go in the quest to remedy the harm of the DLC. The most important part of the battle to retake our party is giving Senator Joe Lieberman a giant shitburger of a primary challenge. As far as I'm concerned, the junior Senator from Connecticut is a complete piece of crap that is only allowed in the Democratic caucus because Harry Reid is a gentleman. To be perfectly honest, I don't even care if we win. But we need to send a powerful signal that the appeasement days are over. Blanketing Connecticut with the nastiest ads ever created will go a long way towards forging a respect for solidarity in the Democratic Party.

Looking back over the battle for the filibuster, I think Democrats biggest blow came on March 15 when Harry Reid held a capitol steps rally to demonstrate unity -- Lieberman's absence was "conspicuous" (as the press noted). That is the great thing about brinkmanship, it clearly defines who is on which team. Lieberman hurt Democrats through the entire battle and the Democratic Leadership Council was worthless in the fight.

Those of you who think Democrats could have done better are 100% justified in blaming Joe Lieberman. Lieberman's refusal to work with Democrats cost us from the start, it hurt our posture, it compromised our negotiating position, and it personally pissed me off.

I don't buy in to unilateral disarmament and I certainly don't buy in to the notion that you don't go negative in primary elections. The primaries are where we set our Democratic Party's course and if a credible candidate runs against Joe Lieberman, I am confident that the netroots will unleash a wrath of epic proportions. Sure Lieberman will probably win, but he needs to be shunned by Democrats. When he goes home to Connecticut, I want people to lower their eyes as he walks down the street...too embarrassed to make eye contact.

The act of shunning has a proud tradition in political action and needs to be utilized against Lieberman. For Democratic political operatives, there is no honor in working for Lieberman or the DLC. While people have ended up in the employment of both for a variety of reasons, now is the time to leave. Twenty years down the road, if a resume crosses my desk from somebody who worked for Lieberman after today, that person will be rejected without any further consideration. If you want to work in Democratic politics, you do not want Lieberman or the DLC on your resume.

I am one-hundred fucking percent serious about this. From now on, there are no excuses.

But back to the good stuff. In spite of Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party showed a new spirit these last couple of weeks. Some of it was the momentum from a united caucus blocking Social Security privatization, but there was something else that I noticed in this fight: teamwork.

Except for the Lieberman and the dipshits at the DLC, the left worked together to save the filibuster. Bill Frist's abuse of power forced institutional and structural changes in Democrats' coordination, command and control, messsage, and distribution that were fast-tracked to deal with Dobson's threat against the senate.

Comparing my experiences early in the year fighting for Social Security with the last two weeks, I noticed a dramatic escalation in modernized campaigning by Democrats.

Yes, there is a long way to go, but the filibuster fight was a great fire-drill for Democrats. We learned a great deal at an accelerated rate, knowledge that will be priceless in future policy and election battles.

In short, Reid kicks ass, Lieberman sucks ass, and the revitalized donkey is one ass we can be proud of.

UPDATE: (Bob) - You can find more out more about a potential primary campaign against Lieberman here and here.

Posted at 11:36 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut, Democrats, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Fallout: More From the Field

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Working for Change: (David Sirota) Good news on the filibuster issue being resolved, at least for now. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Caucus really managed to make the Republican leadership look like the extremist thugs they are.

Working for Change: (David Sirota Part II) First and foremost - the radical right is freaking out. That means that, policy-wise, we've not only done something right by defeating the "nuclear" option, but we've opened up a divide between the lunatic fringe wing of the GOP, and the (albeit dying and tiny) mainstream wing.

Senator Russ Feingold: This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House.

MyDD: (Chris Bowers Part II) The Nuclear Option debacle is over, and I for one am glad. As much as it helped shed sunlight on the extremist, theocon wing of the Republican Party, it also dragged on for two months and sucked as much air out of the news and the blogosphere as I have seen any issue accomplish since the election.

Posted at 12:21 AM in Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Monday, May 23, 2005

Driving the Wedge

Posted by DavidNYC

Regardless of what you think of the filibuster deal we cut tonight - and I can't say I'm a big fan of it - the outrage in wingnuttia is truly berserk. Our friends at Crooks & Liars have compiled an awesome assemblage of conservative froth and venom. The fact is, no matter how grumpy some of us on the left might be right now, Bill Frist drove an enormous wedge between the Republican leadership in Washington and the right-wing base tonight. It's our job to hammer that wedge even further.

Even Darth Dobson is spluttering with rage and already making threats:

This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.


We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.

Go follow that Crooks & Liars link for more winger vein-popping. Keep reminding the right of how their leadership "betrayed" them today and their blood will keep boiling. As I say, this is going to be a good wedge issue for the foreseeable future, especially if the Dems do find a way to filibuster any future nominees.

Posted at 11:07 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (2) | Technorati

Nuclear Fallout: Keeping Score at Home

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Kos: Remember, Republicans have a 10-seat majority in the Senate. Given the alternative -- a Dobson controlled Supreme Court nominee -- this is a huge victory.

Atrios: (Avendon) I don't know about you, but I don't like it.

MyDD: (Chris Bowers) My first reaction is that this is a defeat, since we would only accept a deal unless we didn't have the votes. Then again, the filibuster is saved and Frist might be finished, so it is also a victory

BOP News: (Stirling Newberry) They got it. Make no mistake, this deal is an unmitigated disaster for Democracy, for the Democratic Senate caucus, for ordinary Democrats, for all Americans.

Talk Left: - We don't have a "Republic" tonight. We have a total Republican regime. Welcome to the Theocracy.

AmericaBlog: (From Joe) - But, in the long run, this forces the White House to think differently about the Supreme Court. That seemed to be the message from the gang of 14, most notably Lindsay Graham who said as much during the press conference. Still processing...but those are initial thoughts.

Steve Gillard: This is a major defeat for the theocrats. This is what happens when amateurs play at politics. Dobson was under the delusion that he could control the Senate with his money and Bill Frist's dick in his pocket. This didn't work.

Swing State Project: (Tim) We just spent the last several months repeating that Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown were so far out of the mainstream that we were willing to walk up to the edge of nuclear catastrophe in the Senate. If these two do not fall into the "extraordinary circumstances" category, how can we convince the American people that any nominee to the Supreme Court is so beyond the pale that we are forced to filibuster?

Swing State Project: (David) Sounds like we made a deal to preserve a filibuster we'll never be able to use.

The Next Hurrah: (DHinMI) The presser is still going on, and people on both ends of the political spectrum are calling this a defeat. But only one side of the political spectrum calling this a defeat is wrong: the left side is wrong. This is a victory for Harry Reid and the Democratic caucus in the Senate, and it's a big loss for the Republicans, the White House, and especially Bill Frist.

The Next Hurrah: (Emptywheel) I don't know--and I don't think anyone knows--whether this compromise is a good or bad thing. Hell, we don't even know what the result of Owen's and Brown's votes will be; if some Republicans have been convinced to oppose them, then it will feel more like a win than it does today. But I think this compromise can be turned into a win, by pushing the moderate 14 to oppose Bolton's nomination on the terms it is being advanced perhaps as early as Wednesday.

Crooks & Liars: No nuclear option. Dobson, Robertson, Frist and the Religious Right have lost.

If you see any more I should add, from the left, or if you have a blog and want yours added, let me know.

Posted at 09:48 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (3) | Technorati

Nuclear Fallout: Harry Reid Video

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Link from DemBloggers.

Use this as a temporary open thread. Sign up for an account to comment on Swing State Project here.

Posted at 09:18 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Reid Claims Victory!

Posted by Bob Brigham

Reid's Statement:

There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called "nuclear option" is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.

The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undue influences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican "nuclear option" from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.

We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers¹ vision, and one we hold dear.

I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.

I am grateful to my colleagues who brokered this deal. Now, we can move beyond this time-consuming process that has deteriorated the comity of this great institution. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people's business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree's pensions and long-term security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people's reform agenda. Together, we can get the job done.

Good news for America, even Senate Republicans admitted the GOP leadership under Frist and DeLay is nuts. With Senate Republicans leading the charge, the 2006 backlash begins today!


Posted at 08:31 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: CNN Reports Deal Reached

Posted by Tim Tagaris

From CNN's breaking news alert on the top of it's webstite.

A bipartisan group of senators has reached a deal to avert a showdown over President Bush's judicial nominees, congressional sources tell CNN. Details soon.
UPDATE 1 - 7:37 P.M. (Tim) - Drudge Reports (Take it for what it's worth):
"We've got a deal," Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson told reporters. Senators plan to announce details at a news conference shortly...

UPDATE - 2 7:46 P.M. (Bob): From MSNBC:

Under the agreement, Democrats would pledge not to filibuster any of Bush’s future appeals court or Supreme Court nominees except in “extraordinary circumstances.”

For their part, Republicans agreed not to support an attempt to strip Democrats of their right to block votes.

If these are the terms, then Democrats won everything. Democrats have approved 95% of Bush's nominees, only using the filibuster for "extraordinary circumstances" with the most extremist picks. With the GOP tanking in the polls, it looks like they were the first to blink. If this is true, then the Democrats won, Democrats saved the Senate!

UPDATE 3 (Tim) - CSPAN3 is carrying the conference, I just tuned in. You can watch at

UPDATE 4 (Bob): The few remaining moderates in the Republican Party have just admitted that Bush and Frist and DeLay are batshit crazy. People who vote for Republicans in 2006 are voting to continue the reign of those who pushed this outrageous abuse of power.

UPDATE 5 (Bob): Kos;

It's not a good day to be Bill Frist. He looks weak, unable to control his own caucus. His winger friends go ballistic. They get some judges, sure, but ultimately, we can filibuster Bush's next Supreme Court nominee unless he picks a moderate.

The Dobson power grab may have failed a day early.

UPDATE 6 (Bob): Reid claims victory: "Checks and Balances have been protected."

UPDATE 7 (Bob): Crooks and Liars:

No nuclear option. Dobson, Robertson, Frist and the Religious Right have lost.

UPDATE 8 (Bob): While Democrats won, there is talk that we would could have done better if Reid wouldn't have been undermined by the chickenshit DLCers.

UPDATE 9 (Bob): More from Kos:

On top of everything, Frist looks weak. He's failed his crazies. He's finished.

Posted at 07:33 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (2) | Technorati

Reid to Republicans: Stand Down

Posted by Bob Brigham

Roll Call (via Political Wire):

In an unusual move, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will appear tonight in a 90-second television ad calling on Republicans to stand down on their threat to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees.

Reid will address the nation in a half an hour. For the sake of the Senate, let's hope Reid is successful in convincing the Republicans to stop this abuse of power.

Posted at 07:25 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Dr. Action on GOP Abuse of Power

Posted by Bob Brigham

According to Chris Bowers, Swing State Project's DavidNYC is Dr. Action.

Join Dr. Action and tell everyone you know about the Republican's Abuse of Power.

UPDATE: (Bob): Dr. Action's All Hands on Deck post made MSNBC today -- check out Crooks and Liars for the video. Way to go, David Dr. Action!

Posted at 06:38 PM in Activism, Nuclear Option, Site News | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Showdown at High Noon Tomorrow

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Bill Frist just had the Sargeant at Arms instruct all Senators to the floor to make one simple announcement. He will call for a cloture vote on Priscilla Owen tomorrow at high noon in the well of the United States Senate.

He couldn't have picked a better time.

Posted at 06:05 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Biden Floor Speech

Posted by Tim Tagaris

As you know, Swing State Project will be following the nuclear option around the clock leading up to, and continuing through, the nuclear fallout resulting from the GOP abuse of power. As a service to SSP readers, we are getting in touch with Senate staffs in order to post their remarks in full. If you are a Senate staffer, please send along full-text transcripts of prepared remarks so we can post them in full here. Email addresses can be found on the right side of this page.

Senator Joe Biden's office was the first to respond, and they deserve praise for reaching out in this manner. Snip from his remarks:

Watch what happens, watch what happens when the Majority Leader stands up and says to the Vice President, if we go forward with this, and he calls the question. And one of us, I expect our leader on the Democratic side, will stand up and say, "parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President. Is this parliamentary appropriate -- parliamentarily appropriate?" and in every other case that I've been here in 32 years, the presiding officer leans down to the parliamentarian and says, "what's the rule, Mr. Parliamentarian?" the parliamentarian turns and tells him. Hold your breath, parliamentarian.

He's not going to look to you because he knows what you would say. He would say, this is not parliamentarily appropriate. You cannot change the Senate rules by a pure majority vote.

If any of you think I'm exaggerating, watch on television. Watch when this happens. And watch the vice president ignore -- he's not required to look to an unelected officer. But that has been the practice for 218 years. He will not look down and say, "what is the ruling?"

Full-text of remarks in the extended entry.

Biden Floor Statement on the "Nuclear Option"

May 23, 2005

Mr. BIDEN: Mr. President, my friends and colleagues, I've not been here as long as Senator Byrd, and no one fully understands the Senate as well as Senator Byrd, but I've been here for over three decades.

I think this is the single-most significant vote any one of us will cast in my 32 years in the Senate, and I suspect the senator would agree with that.

And we should make no mistake. This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party propelled by its extreme right and designed to change the reading of the Constitution, particularly as it relates to individual rights and property rights. It's nothing more or nothing less.

And let me take a few minutes to explain that. Folks who want to see this change want to eliminate one of the procedural mechanisms designed for the express purpose of guaranteeing individual rights and they also, as a consequence, would undermine the protections of the minority point of view in the heat of majority excess.

We've been through these periods before in American history, but never to the best of my knowledge has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body.

Why else would the majority party attempt one of the most fundamental changes in the 216-year history of this Senate on the grounds that they are being denied seven of 218 federal judges, three of whom have stepped down?

What shortsightedness and what a price history will exact on those who support this radical move. Mr. President, I think it's important we state frankly, if for no other reason than the historical record, why this is being done.

The extreme right of the Republican party is attempting to hijack the federal courts by emasculating the court's independence and changing one of the unique foundations of the united states senate. That is, the requirement that the protection of the right of individual senators to guarantee the independence of the federal judiciary. This is being done in the name of fairness?

But, quite frankly, it's the ultimate act of unfairness to alter the unique responsibility of the United States Senate and to do so by breaking the very rules of the united states senate. Mark my words, what's at stake here is not the politics of 2005 but the federal judiciary and the united states senate of the year 2025.

This is the single-most significant vote, as I said earlier, that I will have cast in my 32 years in the senate. The extreme Republican right has made Justice Ginsburg's "Constitution in Exile," the name of a work he wrote, the framework of that "Constitution in Exile" their top priority.

It is their purpose to reshape the federal courts so as to guarantee a reading of the Constitution consistent with Judge Ginsburg's radical views of the 5th Amendment's taking clause, the Non-delegation Doe Doctrine, the 11th amendment and the 10th amendment.

I suspect some listening to me and some in the press will think I'm exaggerating. I would respectfully suggest they read Justice Ginsburg's work, "Constitution in Exile." Read it. Read it and understand what is at work here.

As I said, if you doubt what I'm saying, then I suggest you ask yourself the rhetorical question, "why for the first time since 1789 is the Republican-controlled Senate attempting to change the rule of unlimited debate, as it relates to federal----eliminate it as it relates to federal judges for the circuit court or supreme court?"

If you doubt what I say, please read what Justice Ginsburg has written.
Greve says "what is really needed here is a fundamental, intellectual assault on the entire new deal edifice. We want to withdraw judicial support for the entire modern welfare state." End of quote.

Read: social security, workmans comp. National labor root relations board. Read. F.D.A., read what all the byproduct of that shift in Constitutional authority meant.

If you want to hear more of what I'm -- I characterize as radical view -- and maybe it is unfair to say "radical." A fundamental view and what at least must be characterized as a stark departure from current Constitutional jurisprudence, then click onto American Enterprise Institute's web site. Read what they say.

Read what the purpose is. It's not about seeking a conservative court or placing conservative justices on the bench. The courts are already conservative. Seven of the nine Supreme Court Justices appointed by republican presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II -- seven of nine. 10 of 13 federal circuit court of appeals dominated by Republican appointees appointed by presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. 58% of the circuit court judges appointed by either presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.

No, my friends and colleagues, this is not about building a conservative court. We already have a conservative court. This is about guaranteeing a Supreme Court made up of men and women like those who sat on the court in 1910 and 1920.

Those who believe shall as Justice Rogers does of California, that the Constitution has been in exile, has been in exile since the New Deal.

My friends and colleagues, the nuclear option is not an isolated instance. It is part of a broader plan to pack the court with fundamentalist judges and to cower existing conservative judges to tow the extreme party line. You all heard what Tom DeLay said after the federal courts refused to bend to the whip of the radical right in the Schiavo case.

DeLay declared, and I quote, "the time will come for men responsible for this to answer for their behavior" -- end of quote.

Even current conservative Supreme Court justices are looking over their shoulder with one extremist recalling the despicable slogan of Josef Stalin -- and I am not making this up -- in reference to a Republican appointee, Reagan Republican appointee, Justice Kennedy, when he said, "no man, no problem. Absent his presence, we have no problem."

Let me remind you, as I said, Justice Kennedy was appointed by president Reagan. Have they never heard of the independence of the judiciary?

As a fundamental part of our Constitutional system of checks and balances, as there is today literally the envy of the world, the envy of the entire world, and the fear of the extremist part of the world, an independent judiciary is their greatest fear.

Why are radicals focusing on the court? Well, first of all, it's their time to be in absolute political control because it's there. It's like why did Willie Sutton rob banks? He said because that's where the money is. Why try it now, for the first time in history, to eliminate extended debate?

Well, because they control every lever of the federal government. That's the very reason why we have the rule. So when one party, when one interest controls all levers of government, one man or one woman can stand on the floor of the Senate and resist, if need be, the passions of the moment.

But there's a second reason why they're focusing on the courts and that is because they've been unable to get their agenda passed through the legislative body. Think about it. All the talk about how they represent -- represent the majority of the American people. None of their agenda has passed as is it relates to the 5th Amendment, as it relates to zoning laws, as it relates to the ability of federal agencies like the food and drug administration, the E.P.A. to do their job.

Read what they write when they write about the nondelegation doctrine. That simply means we in the Congress, as they read the Constitution, cannot delegate to the E.P.A. the authority to set limits on how many carcinogens, how much of a percentage of carcinogens can be admitted into the air or admitted into the water.

They'd insist that we, the Senate, have to vote on every one of those rules, that we, the Senate and the House, with the ability of the president to veto works have to vote on any and all drugs that are approved or not approved.

You think I'm exaggerating this. Look at these web sites. These aren’t a bunch of wackos. These are a bunch of very bright, very smart, very well-educated intellectuals who see these federal restraints as a restraint upon competition, a restraint upon growth, a restraint upon the powerful.

The American people see what's going on. They're too smart and they're too practical. They may not know the meaning of the nondelegation doctrine. They may not know the clause of the 5th Amendment relating to property. They may not know the meaning of the 10th and 11th Amendment as interpreted by Mr. Ginsburg and others. But they know that the strength of our country lies in the common sense and our common pragmatism which is antithetical to the poisons of the extremes on either side.

The American people will soon learn that Justice Janice Rogers Brown, one of the nominees that we are not allowing to be passed, one of the ostensible reasons for this nuclear option being employed has decried the supreme court's -- quote -- "socialist revolution of 1930."

Read what they say. Read what they mean. The very year that a 5-4 court upheld the Constitutional -- the Constitutionality of Social Security against a strong challenge. 1937, Social Security almost failed by one vote. It was challenged in the supreme court as being confiscatory.

People argued then that a government has no right to demand that everyone pay into the system, no right to demand that every employer pay into the system. Some of you may agree with that. It's a legitimate argument. But one rejected by the supreme court in 1937 that Janice Rogers Brown refers to as the "socialist revolution" of 1937.

If it hadn't been for some of the things they've already done, no one would believe anything I'm saying here. These guys mean what they say. And the American people are going to soon learn that one of the leaders of the "Constitution in Exile" school, the group that wants to reinstate the Constitution as it existed in 1920, said that another -- said of another filibustered judge, William Pryor, that -- quote -- "Pryor is the key to this puzzle. There's nobody like him. I think he's sensational. He gets almost all of it." That's the reason why I oppose him. He gets all of it.

And you're about to get all of it if they prevail. We'll not have to debate about Social Security on this floor. So the radical right makes its power play now and they control all centers of political power, however temporary. The radicals push through the nuclear option and then pack the courts with unimpeded judges who by -- unimpeded judges who by current estimations will serve an average of 25 years.

The right focused on packing the courts because their agenda is so radical that they're unwilling to come directly to you, the American people, and tell you what they intend. Without the filibuster, President Bush will send over more and more judges of this nature but perhaps three or four supreme court nominations then there will be nothing, nothing that any moderate Republican friends and I will be able to do about it.

Judges who will influence the rights of average Americans, the ability to sue your H.M.O. that denies you your rights, the ability to keep strip clubs out of your neighborhood because they un -- make zoning laws unconstitutional without you paying to keep the person from not building. The ability to protect the land your kids play on, the water they drink, the air they breathe, and the privacy of your family in your own home.

Remember, many of my colleagues here say there is no such thing as a right to privacy in any iteration under the Constitution of the United States of America. Fortunately, we've had a majority of judges who's disagreed with that over the past 70 years. But hang on, folks.

The fight over judges at bottom is not about abortion and a God. It's about giving greater power to the already powerful. The fight is about maintaining our civil rights protections, about workplace safety and worker protections, about effective oversight of financial markets and protecting against insider trading. It's about Social Security.

What is really at stake in this debate point blank is the shape of our Constitutional system for the next generation. And the nuclear option is a two-fer.

It excises independence from our courts into the -- and at the same time emasculates the Senate. Put simple, the nuclear option would transform the senate from the so-called "cooling saucer" our Founding Fathers talked about to cool the passions of the day to a pure majoritarian body, like a parliament.

We've heard a lot in recent weeks about the rights of the majority and of obstructionism. But the Senate is not meant to be a place of pure majoritarianism. Is majority rule really what you want?

Do my Republican colleagues really want majority rule in this Senate?
Well, let me remind you, 44 of us Democrats represent 161 million people. 161 million Americans voted for these 44 Democrats. Do you know how many Americans voted for the 55 of you? 131 million. If this were about pure majorities, my party represents more people in America than the Republican party does.

But that's not what it's about. Wyoming, the home state of the Vice President of this body, gets one senator for every 246,000 citizens. California gets one senator, one senator for 17 million Americans.

More Americans voted for Vice President Gore than they did Bush by majoritarian logic, Gore won the election. The Republicans control the Senate and they've decided that they're going to change the rule. At its core, it is filibuster's not -- the filibuster's not about stopping a nominee or a bill.

It's about compromise and moderation. That's why the Founders put unlimited debate in. When you have to -- and I have never conducted a filibuster. But if I did, the purpose would be you have to deal with me as one senator. It doesn't mean I get my way. It means you may have to compromise. You may have to see my side of the argument. That's what it's about.

Engendering compromise and moderation. Ladies and gentlemen, the nuclear option extinguishes the power of independence and moderates in this senate. That's it. They're done. Moderates are important only if you need to get 60 votes to satisfy cloture. They are much less important if you need only 50 votes. I understand the frustration of my Republican colleagues. I've been here 32 years. Most of the time in the majority.

And whenever you're in the majority, it's frustrating to see the other side block a bill or a nominee you support. I've walked in your shoes. And I get it. I get it so much that what brought me to the United States Senate was the fight for civil rights.

My state, to its great shame, was segregated by law, was a slave state. I came here to fight it. But even I understood, with all the passion I felt as a 29-year-old kid running for the senate, the purpose -- the purpose -- of extended debate, getting rid of the filibuster has long-term consequences.

There's one thing I've learned in my years here, once you change the rules and surrender the senate's institutional power, you never get it back. And we're about to break the rules to change the rules. I don't want to hear about fair play from my friends. Under our rules, you're required to get a two-thirds vote -- I mean, excuse me, 60 votes to change the rules.

Watch what happens, watch what happens when the Majority Leader stands up and says to the Vice President, if we go forward with this, and he calls the question. And one of us, I expect our leader on the Democratic side, will stand up and say, "parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President. Is this parliamentary appropriate -- parliamentarily appropriate?" and in every other case that I've been here in 32 years, the presiding officer leans down to the parliamentarian and says, "what's the rule, Mr. Parliamentarian?" the parliamentarian turns and tells him. Hold your breath, parliamentarian.

He's not going to look to you because he knows what you would say. He would say, this is not parliamentarily appropriate. You cannot change the Senate rules by a pure majority vote.

If any of you think I'm exaggerating, watch on television. Watch when this happens. And watch the vice president ignore -- he's not required to look to an unelected officer. But that has been the practice for 218 years. He will not look down and say, "what is the ruling?"

He will make the ruling, which is a lie. A lie about the rule. Isn't what really going on here, the majority doesn't want to hear what others have to say, even if it's the truth?

Senator Moynihan, my good friend who I served with for years, said "you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts."

The nuclear option abandons America's sense of fair play. It's the one thing this country stands for. Not tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side, you may own the field right now but you won't own it forever. And I pray god when the Democrats take back control, we don't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing

But I'm afraid you will teach my new colleagues the wrong lessons. We're only temporary custodians of the Senate. But the Senate will go on. And I can see my time is up. Let me conclude by saying again, mark my words. History will judge this Republican majority harshly if it makes this catastrophic move.

I yield the floor.

Posted at 06:03 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Voter Backlash Against GOP Abuse of Power

Posted by Bob Brigham

Yet another new poll and yet further evidence that voters are pissed off at the Republican abuse of power. This is going to have serious ramifications in 2006.

Posted at 05:37 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Technorati

DSCC Email: Time is Running Out

Posted by Bob Brigham

I just received the following email from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on the GOP Abuse of Power:

Time is running out. At any moment, Bill Frist could trigger the "nuclear option" and end the filibuster as we know it. This abuse of power is nothing less than a brazen attempt to change the rules so the Republicans can pack our federal courts with extremist right wing judges.

There is only one way to stop this partisan power grab. We have to show Bill Frist and the Senate Republicans that the American people oppose them now and that we will remember these events on Election Day. That's why I'm asking you to join the DSCC in opposition to the nuclear option by signing our new petition today.

Click here to oppose the nuclear option!

This is the absolute last minute. At any moment, Bill Frist could put an end to 200 years of Senate tradition by asking Dick Cheney to make an unprecedented ruling that judicial filibusters are out of order.

The only way to stop this is to show Senate Republicans that when they abuse their power and change the rules, they do so despite having an overwhelming majority of Americans opposed to their actions. Make sure your voice is heard by joining the DSCC today.

Click here to oppose the nuclear option!

Acting immediately is even more important if you live in Maine, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, or Virginia or if you know someone who does. Senators from those states will prove to be the critical swing votes we will need to win this fight.

To save the filibuster and prevent a right wing takeover of our federal courts, we must act today. Please sign the DSCC's new petition before time runs out.


Anne Lewis

I signed.

Posted at 05:15 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Blogosphere Slumber Party Tonight

Posted by Bob Brigham

OK everyone, here's the story: We're going all night tonight. If you live on the West Coast, your duty lasts until 3 AM. If you live on the East Coast, your shift begins at 5 AM (all times local).


WASHINGTON - Cots were brought into the Capitol Monday as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist scheduled an all-night session stretching into Tuesday to dramatize the debate over President Bush’s judicial nominees and the filibusters that Democrats have used to block votes on 10 of them.

UPDATE: Key links:
All Hands On Deck - Action Items
"Nuclear Option" Survival Guide - Netroots Tips
"Nuclear Option" Resource Center - (The Next Hurrah)

UPDATE: Tonight is the night, stop the Republican ABUSE OF POWER.

Swing State Project have have round-the-clock coverage.

Posted at 04:02 PM in Activism, Netroots, Nuclear Option | Technorati

"Nuclear Option" Citizen Filibusters

Posted by Bob Brigham

Moveon PAC's Citizen Filibusters made DavidNYC's All Hands On Deck action post. I just finished registering for mine:

City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tuesday, 24 May 2005, 12:00 PM

See you there, if you aren't there, I expect to see photos of the Citizen Filibuster in your area.

Posted at 03:36 PM in Activism, California, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: NE, PA, OH, VI Calls

Posted by Bob Brigham

If you live in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Virginia -- pick up your phone right now and help save the Senate. Details after the jump...

From NHC1978 on Daily Kos:

Arlen Specter: (Pennsylvania)
DC Office:

Philadelphia Office:

Pittsburgh Office:

John Warner: (Virginia)
DC Office:
(202) 224-2023

Richmond Office:
(804) 739-0247

Norfolk Office:
(757) 441-3079

Mike Dewine: (Ohio)
DC Office:
(202) 224-2315

Cleveland office:
(216) 522-7272

Columbus office:
(614) 469-5186

Chuck Hagel: (Nebraska)
DC Office:
(202) 224-4224

Omaha Office:
(402) 758-8981

Posted at 03:25 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nebraska, Nuclear Option, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Harry Reid Addresses the Nation

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Kos:

Reid has bought a 90-second ad this evening to present the Democratic position to the American people. It will air tonight as follows:

WRC (DC) 7:58 P.M.
WJLA (DC) 7:57 P.M.
WTTG (C) 7:57 P.M.
CNN 8:00 P.M.
CNNHN 8:00 P.M.
FoxNews 7:50-7:55 P.M.

Part of his message in the ad:

Unfortunately, some Senate Republicans are trying to give President Bush power no president has ever had -- the ability to personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges -- including the Supreme Court, without consensus from the other party. This abuse of power is not what our founders intended. It's wrong for one political party -- be it Republicans today or Democrats tomorrow -- to have total control over who sits on our high courts and rules on our most basic rights.


Posted at 03:22 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

All Hands on Deck!

Posted by DavidNYC

The battle to preserve the rights of minority political factions - and the public interests those factions represent - is about to be fully joined. Here are the simple steps you need to take to gear up for the fight to save the filibuster:

1) Sign up for text message alerts on your cell phone with People for the American Way. This way, you'll know instantly when we need to take action and what you need to do.

2) Regionalization is becoming increasingly important - elected officials always respond more eagerly to their constituents, and good local media coverage is key. BlogPAC is helping to organize state-by-state efforts, so if you haven't yet signed up there, do so by clicking here. If you have a blog of your own, be sure to input that in the appropriate field. (Non-bloggers should sign up as well.)

3) MoveOn PAC is organizing citizen filibusters - along the lines of the tremendously successful Princeton filibuster - tomorrow at noon. Click on over to their site to find a location near you. If you go, be sure to take a digital camera or a camcorder and post pics or videos online when you get home. Thanks to inflation, pictures are worth even more than 1,000 words these days.

4) When things really, finally go down, everyone needs to be able to contact as many people as fast as possible. We need people to hear our unfiltered message from friends and family and co-workers and neighbors before they hear the sterile and misleading he-said/she-said version on the news. So people need to pull together email addresses for everyone they know before it happens so that our message can immediately spread virally.

We don't know exactly when Frist will try to go nuclear, but people need to plan to drop everything and get in front of a computer. The process of breaking the rules to end the filibuster won't take that much time. We need instant mobilization and widespread distribution. With everyone's help, we can win this in the Senate - and on the local level.

All hands on deck!

Posted at 02:44 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option Resource Center

Posted by Bob Brigham

Our friends at The Next Hurrah have the "Nuclear Option" Resource Center. In covering the Senate Scandal, blogs have breadth and depth!

Posted at 01:40 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Houston Bar Grades Owen "Poor"

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Hat tip to Suburban Guerilla.

Priscilla Owens was just rated “poor” by the Houston Bar Association by almost half of the respondents. She had the lowest rating on the Texas Supreme Court of any justice.

To be exact, 39.5% rated her "outstanding," 15.2% rated her "acceptable," and 45.3 rated her "poor."

The "guts" of the poll show an equally "poor" perception of Owen. Fourty-eight percent of respondents rate Owen as "poor" when it comes to being "impartial and open-minded with respect to determining the legal issues." Her rating among Texas Supreme Courts colleagues was the lowest among all justices on, being "attentive to the oral argument," "interact[ing] constructively with counsel during oral arguments," and her opinions "demonstrat[ing] a well-reasoned, clearly written disposition of the case based on proper of the law to the record."

Posted at 01:37 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Nuclear Option: DeWine Getting a Free Pass

Posted by Tim Tagaris

It's too late now, but imagine how much more pressure we could be putting on Ohio Senator Mike DeWine had the Democratic Party already recruited a candidate to run against him in 2006. Ted Strickland is running for Governor, Michael Coleman the same, and Sherrod Brown looks like he is going to simply retain his seat in the House. That leaves Jerry Springer, who could make the race interesting and can self-finance, and then there is potential placeholder Lee Fisher.

DeWine knows the nuclear option would be a disaster for the insitution of the U.S. Senate, but there is no challenger to hold him to account:

"It is in the best interest of the country and the Senate, as an institution, if we can avoid this confrontation," DeWine said. "It would poison the relations between the senators if it comes to a vote."
Amazingly, DeWine is getting some pressure, unfortunately, it's the Republican interest groups that are promising him a challenge should he side with the Democrats on the nuclear option.
Phil Burress, president of the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, said DeWine shouldn't even consider a compromise on the issue. [...]

"If Mike DeWine goes the wrong way on this vote, I promise that he will have strong opposition in 2006," added Burress, who was in Washington last week to lobby the senator.

And it's probably a threat that DeWine should take quite seriously. All one needs to do is rewind to last year when the Club for Growth "primaried" Arlen Specter and pushed him to the absolute brink with Pat Toomey.

Posted at 01:04 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Sending Rule Breakers Back to the Senate

Posted by Bob Brigham

As everyone knows, the only way the GOP can end the filibuster without the 67 votes needed to change senate rules, is to break the rules. Will voters re-elect Senators who break the rules? Will voters re-elect Senators who are going nuclear against the institution of the senate? I'm sure it is on the minds of:

• Senator George Allen (R-VA)*
• Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)*
• Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)*
• Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
• Senator John Ensign (R-NV)*
• Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)*
• Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)*
• Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)*
• Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)*
• Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)*
• Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)*
• Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
• Senator Jim Talent (R-MO)*
• Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)*

* Social Security: on record voting in favor of "deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

Posted at 10:33 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Bloggers' Survival Guide

Posted by Bob Brigham

NOTE: Swing State Project already has 11 pages of archives on the "Nuclear Option". We'll double that.

With the Republican Party about to launch a nuclear war upon the institution of the senate, it is important to know what bloggers must do to prepare for and respond to a political nuclear attack.

Keep this guide in a safe place so that you can refer to it rapidly should the GOP launch a nuclear attack against the Senate.

Cigarettes: Be ready for long hours by down-grading your cigarettes. If you smoke regulars, get lights; if you smoke lights, get extra your voice. Inversely, if you are trying to not smoke, consider upgrading your nicorette intake (I'm a blogger not a doctor).

Batteries: If you are going down to buy a carton of lighter cigarettes, bring your laptop, your cell phone, and all of your chargers. This sprint will be a battle against batteries, ensure you have access to more juice.

Links: Be generous with links. Help everyone find the best and don't hesitate to pile on.

Duty: When this goes 24 hours, we need 24 hour blogging. If you live on the west-coast, plan on blogging until 3AM local time. If you live on the east-coast, plan on waking up at 5AM local time. If your time zone isn't at either end, maximize your blogging according to the most natural schedule.

Browsers: While I admit I use Internet Explorer as part of a multi-browser array, IE is not suited for surviving the explosion in information. Organizing the information requires Tabs, I recommend Firefox.

Offline: Work as a team with bloggers in your area to focus on the people your area sent to D.C. Use email and free conference calls to call plays, move action, and create the personal relationships that will serve us well in future battles.

Multi-Media: The video of senators is ending up online within minutes. Download, edit, and post your own ads. Get creative with photoshop and flash and MP3.

Shelter: When the hours get long, having a satellite office will help keep you sharp. I recommend a park or a coffee shop...someplace with wi-fi that isn't the place you're used to. Bring your headphones, a cup of coffee, and enjoy standing up to save senate rules.

Lead Locally: Let Reid worry about whether we are winning nationally while you worry about winning locally. Ensure people are sending letters to the editor, let local political reporters know your blog is covering the story from a local angle, and keep the local press honest in their coverage. Follow other progressive bloggers in your state at BlogPAC.

Focus on the Story: This isn't a single event, this is part of a pattern. Help build the storyline for the 2006 cycle by putting this week's extremism in context.

Working together, it is possible to survive. This is the perfect event for bloggers to cover and traffic suggests a helluva lot of people appreciate this fact. So kick ass.

Posted at 09:24 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

DLC Worthless in Nuclear Fight

Posted by Bob Brigham

A member of the Democratic Leadership Forum is the last person I would ever want in my fox hole. When the going gets tough, you know they're going to stop shooting at the enemy, start shooting at you, and say it is necessary for the Third Way.

For those unfamiliar with the DLC's Third Way, it is the Republican way, but hidden behind the word 'Democrat' to ensure the attacks against Democrats have more sting.

With the Republicans declaring "nuclear war" upon the institution of the senate, you would think this is one time DLC could pull together with Democratic Party. But instead the DLC chose to stand against Harry Reid and join the Republican Party in blaming the Democrats for why the GOP doesn't have total control.

From the DLC:

A clear Democratic willingness to be reasonable on judges will not only defuse this contrived crisis, but will also force Republicans to either live up to their responsibilities as a governing party or expose the power of extremists in their ranks.

Democrats have been reasonable and this is far from a "contrived" crisis. Democrats have been very reasonable, yet the GOP is starting this crisis because the Democratic Party hasn't joined the DLC in rolling over every single time. Democrats have approved 95% of judges, Bush and Frist want 100%, and the DLC blames the Democrats?

The nice thing about this battle is the whole world gets to see who is lining up on whose side. If the DLC won't stand with the Democratic Party during a GOP nuclear attack, then why the fuck would we ever let them near our party during good times?

Posted at 08:41 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Nuclear Option, GOP Firing Blanks

Posted by Bob Brigham

It doesn't matter who you have on the team roster, what matters is who you put in the game. While the GOP has the White House and both chambers, in the battle for the constitution they aren't fielding their best team. I'm not just talking about Manny Miranda's screw-ups, I'm talking about the ad I just saw on Drudge:


Fill in the Blank

OK, if they want me to fill in the blank, how about I fill in the blank about that Social Security card linked to Bush. How about I fill in the blank with Bush's poll numbers on the Social Security issue the up or down vote people brought into the debate (and tied to Bush).

Time Poll conducted by Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs. May 10-12, 2005. N=1,011 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3); compared to same from 1/12-13/05:

"Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing in each of these areas? Handling of Social Security issues."

Approve: 31% (40%)
Disapprove: 59% (49%)

That is a helluva shift so far this year, the public has soundly rejected Bush's Social Security privatization.

But now the "nuclear option" crowd is dragging Social Security into the fight against the institution of the Senate. People need to realize that this lust for absolute power has serious implications when it comes to whether the GOP will break the rules (to change the rules) to end Social Security like they are trying to do with the filibuster. It is the "nuclear option" lobby who is linking Social Security to the quest for total GOP domination -- be worried, they will stop at nothing, least of not the rules.

Posted at 12:29 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Comments (2) | Technorati

Friday, May 20, 2005

PA-Sen: Update on Santorum Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

Two major updates on the Santorum Scandal.

Chuck Pennacchio, Democrat challenging Santorum in 2006, has posted a startling video on his blog of Santorum using a Nazi slander against the New York Times.

The Anti-Defamation League is outraged

Dear Senator Santorum:

We write to object in the strongest terms to your reference to Adolf Hitler in the context of a political debate on judicial nominations on the floor of the Senate today.

Whatever your views on the Senate rules relating to the use of the filibuster and judicial nominations, it is utterly inappropriate and insensitive to suggest that Democratic Party tactics in any way resemble actions taken by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Suggesting some kind of "equivalence" between these tactics and statements and actions of Adolf Hitler demonstrates a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was and what he and his regime represented.

We urge you to repudiate your remarks and apologize to the American people for distorting an important issue with such an inappropriate comparison to Hitler and the Holocaust.

Ricky Santorum should step down from his leadership position to avoid being censured by the full Senate.

Posted at 04:50 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Netroots, Nuclear Option, Pennsylvania, Scandals | Comments (1) | Technorati

GOP Blocked Judicial Nominees While in Minority

Posted by DavidNYC

One claim the GOP likes to make is that they were justified in blocking many of Clinton's judicial nominees in the 90s because they were in the majority in Congress. Dems should now be supine, they say, because the right comparison to make is with the Senate Republicans in the first two years of Clinton's first term, when they were in the minority - and as docile as can be.

Only problem is, that story isn't true. Even when the Democrats held a 56-44 advantage in the Senate in 1993 & 1994, the Republicans still tried to stop nominees they didn't like. Here's a tale about one of them.

In 1993, Larry LaRocco, then a Democratic Congressman from Idaho, suggested to Bill Clinton that attorney John Tait be nominated to fill a vacant federal district judgeship in the state. The following year, Clinton went ahead and put Tait's name forward.

But GOP Sen. Larry Craig (and his former Idaho colleague Dirk Kempthorne) were irked about being left out of the process - usually senators get to advise presidents about judicial nominees, but because they were Republicans, they got passed over in favor of LaRocco. Primarily, of course, they were pissed about a Democrat (Tait) getting the nod.

So what did the aggrieved Idaho senators do? Did they just take their lumps and quietly lie down? Hardly:

Two months ago, U.S. Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne successfully blocked Tait's confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lewiston Morning Tribue, 12/14/1994

Orrin Hatch, then the ranking member of the judiciary committee, prevented Tait from getting a vote at Craig & Kempthorne's request. When the GOP took over Congress in November of that year, Tait's nomination was permanently dead. Tait, by the way, was rated as qualified by the American Bar Association.

I'm sorry for the lack of links - this story is just a bit too old to have made it on to the web. (Though if you have access to Lexis, you can easily confirm all the details.) But in fact, this is something the Republicans are relying on - they're trying to rewrite a period of history (as they often do) that's just a little bit beyond the edges of recent memory. Of course, we won't let them - and we'll remind them that while the GOP thwarted nominees for crass partisan reasons even when they were in the minority, we are currently only exercising our perogative in order to block a tiny handful of the very worst candidates.

Posted at 04:58 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Bloggers' Parlimentarian

Posted by Bob Brigham

Yes, the bloggers have a Parlimentarian. His name is Kagro X. When he writes at The Next Hurrah, you should read:

Nuclear Option Proliferation
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part II
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part III
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IV
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part V
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VI
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VIII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IX
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part X
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XI
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XIII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XIV
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XV
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XVI
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XVII

Footnotes on the Nuclear Option
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part II
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part III
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IV
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part V
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VI
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VII
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VIII
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IX

Posted at 02:07 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Netroots, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Thursday, May 19, 2005

PA-Sen: Senator Rick Santorum Out of Line

Posted by Bob Brigham

This post made CNN.

NOTE: This is a long post with lots of links that should be explored. This is completely outrageous, Santorum should step down from his leadership position.

Another Raw Story Exclusive:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) compared Democrats' attempts to keep the filibuster to Hitler's moves in 1942 in a floor speech in the Senate Thursday afternoon, RAW STORY has learned.

Atrios asks:

The "Move On" Standard

Once upon a time an organziation called Move On (or probably Move On Pac, forget which) ran a little ad creation contest. The initial submissions, of which there were many, weren't really screened by the organization, and a couple of them admittedly crossed the line by making Bush/Nazi comparisons. Those ads were yanked immediately by the organization, but are nonetheless used to this day by the liberal media to smear Move On as an irresponsible "extremist" organization.

Now we have the junior Senator from Pennsylvania comparing the entire Senate Dem caucus to Adolf Hitler. Will the "Move On" standard of the liberal media still apply?

Good question. My guess is that the blogosphere will be making a list of every reporter who wrote about the MoveOn non-story. If reporters will enable right-wing attacks by repeating non-stories about something posted online, but won't give more attention to a real story about this happening on the Senate floor, then I believe that these reporters deserve the wrath of the blogosphere.

We're watching, if you're a reporter, you had better be filing.


UPDATE: : Sean-Paul Kelley piles on at The Agonist. And Atrios busts Santorum for flip-flopping.
UPDATE: Dave Johnson piles on at Seeing the Forest.
UPDATE: David piles on at The Supreme Irony of Life (how fitting).
UPDATE: David Sirota piles on and escalates -- great stuff!
UPDATE: Oliver Willis has audio.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has video.
UPDATE: Jeffrey Dubner at American Prospect tells Santorum to go to hell
UPDATE: In Santorum's home state Pennsylvania, Jeff's Little Blog Blue piles on.
UPDATE: Think Progress throws down.
UPDATE: Talking Points Memo seemed to be in a state of disbelief
UPDATE: The blogswarm is turning into a shitstorm, Armando has it on the front page of Daily Kos.
UPDATE: DC Media Girl asks readers to call Santorum's office at 202-224-6324
UPDATE: Balloon Juice is in favor of bitch-slapping
UPDATE: ArchPundit calls Senator Santorum a jackass.
UPDATE: Chris Bowers of MyDD piles on
UPDATE: The Carpetbagger joins
UPDATE: Spin Dry suggests a spanking may be in order
UPDATE: The "view from above" is at the Rooftop Report
UPDATE: 2 Political Junkies: "Un-fucking-believable"
UPDATE: Left in the West call's Rick Santorum an asshole and has more here
UPDATE: And Random Ravings

UPDATE: This is now an issue in Pennyslvania's 2006 Senate race, Chuck Pennacchio's statement (also on Politics PA):

“As an historian of Holocaust-era Germany, I find Rick Santorum’s comment to be offensive, divisive, and destructive. Rick Santorum should immediately issue a public apology, and then retreat with conscience to consider the lasting damage he has done to the United States Senate and to the memory of 12 million Holocaust victims.”

“How ironic is it that he would make such an extremist comment, comparing Senate Democrats to Adolph Hitler, while his own political party seeks to consolidate all governmental party in its own hands?”

Pennacchio continued, “This is embarrassing to all Pennsylvanians. Unfortunately, Rick Santorum’s hate-filled and heated rhetoric is completely consistent with the junior Senator’s past behavior.”

UPDATE: Damn Liberals piles on
UPDATE: Talk Left piles on.
UPDATE: Rob at Laughing at the Pieces: Holy Fucking Shit
UPDATE: Political Strategy: Scum of the Earth (and at Semidi
UPDATE: Yudel Line piles on
UPDATE: Charging Rino: the nuclear option's "Major Kong."
UPDATE: In Pennsylvania, Young Philly Politics piles on
UPDATE: The scandal made "BUZZ" on Salon's Dauo Report
UPDATE: Think Progress has the rebuttal from Senator Max Baucus: “This is the Way Democracy Ends”
UPDATE: David Sirota has his second post
UPDATE: Steve Gilliard of News Blog: this is like shitting on the WWII memorial
UPDATE: Stirlying Newberry of Blogging of the President calls for CENSURE
UPDATE: Brad of Brad Blog: Fillibuster Blitzkreig!
UPDATE: AmericaBlog piles on and on.
UPDATE: With way too much time to prepare before morning drive time, here comes Eric Hananoki with the Air America Al Franken Show Blog
UPDATE Over at Hullabaloo Digby writes: Santorum is full of shit and everybody but the theocrats and the press knows it. Even Ricky.
UPDATE Steve Soto at The Left Coaster: In fact, a good old liberal lynching of Frist and Santorum is just what this country needs right about now, if you ask me.
UPDATE DNC's Kicking Ass: truly sickening


Washington, D.C. Office:
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-6324
Allentown Office:
Counties: Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton, Lehigh, Berks
3802 Federal Office Building
504 West Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101
Main: 610-770-0142
Fax: 610-770-0911
Altoona Office:
Counties: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset
Route 220 North
Regency Square, Suite 220
Altoona, PA 16601
Main: 814-946-7023
Fax: 814-946-7025
Coudersport Office:
Counties: Cameron, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Potter, Tioga
1705 West 26th Street
Erie, PA 16508
Main: 814-454-7114
Fax: 814-459-2096
Erie Office:
Counties: Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren
1705 West 26th Street
Erie, PA 16508
Main: 814-454-7114
Fax: 814-459-2096
Harrisburg Office:
Counties: Adams, Centre, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Union Snyder, York
555 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Main: 717-231-7540
Fax: 717-231-7542
Philadelphia Office:
Counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia
1 South Penn Square
Widener Building, Suite 960
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Main: 215-864-6900
Fax: 215-864-6910
Pittsburgh Office:
Counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Westmoreland, Washington
100 West Station Square Drive
Landmarks Building, Suite 250
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Main: 412-562-0533
Fax: 412-562-4313
Scranton Office:
Counties: Bradford, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Montour, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming
527 Linden Street
Scranton, PA 18503
Main: 570-344-8799
Fax: 570-344-8906

Posted at 05:45 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Netroots, Nuclear Option, Pennsylvania, Scandals | Comments (3) | Technorati

Nuclear Recap

Posted by Bob Brigham

[Bumped up to the top. - David]

So far, Swing State Project has done more posts on today's power grab than there is room on the front page. So here's our recap:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 9:49 P.M. (Bob): Looking back over Day 1, it is clear that the GOP is over-playing on the over-reach. But what strikes me as one of the most important developments is not the GOP screwing up, but the Democrats not screwing up. Moreover, I think it is an honest assessment that the Democrats are kicking ass -- for the first time in a long time.

The abrasiveness of the GOP powergrab seems to have been the shock that some Democrats needed to finally understand that we aren't a governing party. Democrats brought their A-Game and it matches up very well against team the GOP fielded (i.e. Mammy Miranda). The team-work and drive of revitalized Democrats is achieving results and winning hearts. Today, the Democratic Party was a party worthy of respect.

More to come...

Posted at 05:14 PM in Nuclear Option, Site News | Technorati

Hip Hop Rally Broadens Coalition Against Nuclear Option

Posted by Bob Brigham

From People for the American Way:

The Hip Hop Caucus joined members of the Congressional Black Caucus and People For the American Way at the U.S. Capitol today to call on the Senate to preserve checks and balances in our system, and protect the 200-year-old tradition of the filibuster for judicial nominees. The group is launching an eye-catching postcard campaign to let Senators know where young constituents stand.

“Hip-Hop was created out of the need to provide a voice to the voiceless. It is in that vein that we recognize the duty of every concerned American citizen to speak up and speak out, to make their voices heard,” said Jeff Johnson, Director of African-American Outreach for People for the American Way and the Host & Producer of BET’s Cousin Jeff Chronicles. [...]

The Hip Hop Caucus is organizing youth leaders to ensure that young people understand the stakes for their generation in the battle over the filibuster and judicial nominations. Among the organizations that signed the letter to the Senate leaders were: Rock the Vote, Youth Vote Coalition, Black Youth Vote, Hip-Hop Voices, Hip-Hop Convention, The League of Young Voters, Citizen Change, and Hip Hop Congress.

Preserving the institution of the Senate is supported by damn near everyone.

Posted at 03:02 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Lautenberg To Invoke Star Wars on Floor at 2:30?

Posted by Tim Tagaris

UPDATE 2:47 (Bob) - Senator Kennedy just mentioned bloggers. He sounds good in the elder-statesman, post-presidential role. I hope he realizes that is where we need him, not gearing up for 2008.

UPDATE 2:31 (Tim) - Senator Byrd is still speaking, and it looks like Lautenberg's speechifying has been moved back.

I have always wondered about the merging of mainstream culture and politics, if and when they would fuse completely, and what the impact on our democracy would be. Will it be entertaining? Sure. Will it help to educate voters that otherwise might not pay attention to the political process? Probably, just like Jay Leno & David Letterman do when they include political content in their monologues. Will it help us defuse the nuclear option? I guess we'll find out.

Last night, Revenge of the Sith came out in theaters across the country, and the connection to the current state of our country and the nuclear option has been debated in and out of the "mainstream media." In the movie, Senator Palpatine changes the rules to consolidate power.

MoveOn is running a television spot that draws the connection. They are distributing literature at movie theaters across the country. And at 2:30 P.M. rumor has it that Senator Frank Lautenberg is going to "go Star Wars" on Bill Frist and use photos that compare his over-reaching power-grab with that of Senator Palaptine of Star Wars fame. We'll see how it goes.

You can watch it HERE.

UPDATE 2:26 PM (Tim) - Last time Lautenberg brought a picture to the floor, it was his now famous image that defined the word, "chickenhawk." Photo in the extended entry.


Posted at 02:13 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Save the Republic

Posted by Bob Brigham

MoveOn PAC Press Release:

Washington, DC – As “Revenge of the Sith” opens in theaters, the 3 million member grassroots organization will begin its own “Save the Republic” campaign, including a political ad and grassroots campaign that parodies themes and ideas from the new Star Wars sequel.

To view the ad, which depicts Senator Frist as a hooded villain who seeks absolute power over our courts, visit

Members will also hand out “Save the Republic” themed flyers outside theaters across the country to generate phone calls to U.S. Senators asking them to stop the “nuclear option.” The flyer describes Senator Frist’s efforts to end the filibuster and seize total control over our courts.

“The Star Wars story is a timely illustration of the very real danger to democracy when one person or party seeks absolute power,” said Ben Brandzel, Advocacy Director of MoveOn Pac.

“For 200 years we’ve had checks and balances to ensure that no one party has complete control over our government,” Brandzel, continued. “Radical Republicans want to break the rules to pander to their corporate donors and radical right religious fundamentalists by ramming through extreme judges who will threaten basic protections, like clean water, the minimum wage, even the 40-hour work week, and intrude on life and death family decisions.”

MoveOn Pac members will take part in emergency 24-hour citizen filibusters outside Senate offices, and courthouses when the nuclear trigger is pulled.

I like the idea of "emergency 24-hour citizen filibusters outside Senate offices, and courthouses" -- sign up and unite.

Posted at 01:49 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option Polling

Posted by Bob Brigham

I took a look at the new NBC/WSJ poll yesterday. This is the one showing Congress has dropped to a 33% approval rating, down 8% for the year. And there is room to trend further south as we'll be seeing in the polls that capture the post-nuclear opinion. In the analysis of his poll, GOP pollster Bill says:

Congress has wrong priorities
McInturff, the GOP pollster, points out that Americans are upset with Congress focusing on the battle over judges, Social Security, trying to restore Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube and the ethical troubles surrounding their members, including Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, instead of focusing on the economy, gas prices and health care.

The storyline of the an out-of-touch, corrupt, GOP recklessly over-reaching is developing. And Democrats' defense of the institution of the U.S. Senate is respected by Americans who passed high school civics. Republicans know that their party has been taken over by bat-shit crazies who are hell-bent on total control.

The 2006 political ramifications will be severe. Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart says:

“The public is exceptionally displeased with the Congress,” Hart said. “It is [its] lowest set of numbers since May of 1994,” the year when congressional Republicans defeated their Democratic counterparts in the midterm elections to take control of both the House and Senate. According to this poll, by 47 percent to 40 percent the public says it would prefer Democrats controlling Congress after the 2006 elections. [...]

Regarding the contentious debate over Bush’s judicial nominees, just 34 percent say the Senate should generally confirm the president’s judicial picks as long as they are honest and competent, while 56 percent argue that the Senate should make its own decision about the fitness of each nominee to serve.

Overall, according to the NBC/Journal poll, 52 percent believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction, while 35 percent think it’s on the right track.

All of these findings, Hart says, are signs of an angry electorate. “If you are a member of Congress and you got the poll back, you better be looking over your shoulder,” he said. “The masses are not happy.”


Posted at 12:31 PM in 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Media Coverage of "Nuclear Option"

Posted by Bob Brigham

I was SHOCKED to see this screen-capture from Fox News. Keep an eye on the press during this constitutional crisis at Media Matters' Judicial Nomination page. They have already publically pointed out shoddy reporting at the A.P., NPR, and CNN.

He said/she said coverage is not journalism when one side is lying. This is a power-grab with the GOP seeking full consolidation of total control -- and they are lying to perpetuate this fraud.

When reporters repeat filibuster falsehoods they become active participants in partisan politics.

Posted at 11:34 AM in Nuclear Option, Scandals | Technorati

Nuclear Option: One Simple Question

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Update 1: 10:00 A.M. - Ping Pong: Reid and Schumer just got done going back and forth on the floor in regards to the "one simple question" posed to Bill Frist moments after he pushed the nuclear button yesterday morning. A question that Senator Frist will obviously have to answer:

Chuck Schumer: "Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?"

The answer, yes. Frist said yesterday that he would come back and answer the question. Well, he had another shot this morning, and failed. It's one simple question. Why was the filibuster of Richard Paez a "constitutional option" on March 8, 2001 at 5:51 PM?

Here's the roll call vote of Frist voting to extend the filibuster.

UPDATE: Wednesday 11:46 A.M. (Bob): Dem Bloggers has the video, Reid's prepared remarks after the jump...


Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I’ve addressed the Senate on several recent occasions to set the record straight about Senate history and the rules of this Chamber. I’d much rather address ways to cut health care costs or bring down gas prices. But the Majority Leader has decided that we will spend this week debating radical judges instead. I’m happy to engage in that debate, but I want it to be accurate.

For example, the Majority Leader issued a statement last Friday in which he called the filibuster a “procedural gimmick.” I took some time yesterday to correct that assertion. The filibuster is not a gimmick. It has been part of our nation’s history for two centuries. It is one of the vital checks and balances established by our Founding Fathers. It is not a gimmick.

Also, Republicans have not been accurate in describing the use of the filibuster. They say the defeat of a handful of President Bush’s judicial nominees is unprecedented. In fact, hundreds of judicial nominees in American history have been rejected by the Senate, many by filibuster. Most notably, the nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the United States was successfully filibustered in 1968. And during the Clinton Administration, over 60 judicial nominees were bottled up in the Judiciary Committee and never received floor votes.

In addition, Republicans engaged in explicit filibusters on the floor against a number of Clinton judges, and defeated a number of President Clinton’s executive branch nominees by filibuster. It’s the same Advice and Consent Clause – why was a Republican filibuster of Surgeon General nominee Henry Foster constitutional, but a Democratic filibuster of Fifth Circuit nominee Priscilla Owen unconstitutional? The Republican argument doesn’t add up.

And now, the President of the United States has joined the fray and become the latest to rewrite the Constitution and reinvent reality. Speaking to fellow Republicans on Tuesday night, he said that the Senate “has a duty to promptly consider each…nominee on the Senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications, and then give them the up or down vote they deserve.”

Duty to whom? The radical right wing of the Republican Party who see within their reach the destruction of America's mainstream values?

It's certainly not duty to the tenets of our Constitution or to the American people who are waiting for progress and promise, not partisanship and petty debates.

The duties of the United States Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees “an up or down vote.” It says appointments shall be made with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying that every nominee receives a vote.

This fact was even acknowledged by the Majority Leader on this floor last week. Senator Byrd asked the Majority leader if the Constitution accorded “to each nominee an up or down vote on the Senate floor?”

Senator Frist’s answer? “No, the language is not there.”

Senator Frist is correct. And the President should read the same copy of the Constitution that Senator Frist was referring to.

It is clear that the President misunderstands the meaning of the Advice and Consent Clause. The word “Advice” means “Advice.” President Clinton, consulted extensively with then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatch. Senator Hatch boasts in his autobiography that he personally convinced President Clinton to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court instead of more controversial choices.

In contrast, this President has never ever sought or heeded the advice of the Senate. But now he demands our consent.

That’s not how America works. The Senate is not a rubber stamp for the Executive branch. Rather, we’re the one institution where the Minority has a voice and the ability to check the power of the Majority. Today, in the face of President Bush's power grab, that's more important than ever. Republicans want one-party rule. The Senate is the last place where the President and his Republican colleagues can't have it all. And, now President Bush wants to destroy our checks and balances to ensure that he does get it all.

That check on his power is the right to extended debate. Every Senator can stand up on behalf of the people who have sent them here and say their piece. In the Senate’s 200 plus years of history, this has been done hundreds and hundreds of times…to stand up to popular presidents arrogant with power…to block legislation harmful to America’s workers…and yes – even to reject the President's judicial nominations.

Who are the nominees now before the Senate?

Priscilla Owen is a Texas Supreme Court Justice nominated to the Fifth Circuit. Justice Owen sides with big business and corporate interests against workers and consumers in case after case, regardless of the law. Her colleagues on the conservative Texas court have written that she legislates from the bench. Her own colleagues have called her opinions "nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric," her interpretation of the law to be "misconceptions," and even rebuked her for second guessing the legislature on vital pieces of legislation. If she wanted to legislate, she should run for Congress. If she wants to interpret and uphold the law, she should be a judge. She can't do both.

In case after case, Justice Owen’s record marks her as a judge willing to make law from the bench rather than follow the language and intent of the legislature or judicial precedent. She has demonstrated this tendency most clearly in a series of dissents involving a Texas law providing for a judicial bypass of parental notification requirements for minors seeking abortions. She sought to erect barriers that did not exist in law, such as requiring religious counseling for minors facing a tough choice.

Janice Rogers Brown, a California Supreme Court justice nominated to the D.C. Circuit, is using her seat on the bench to wage an ideological war against America’s social safety net. She wants to take America back to the 19th Century and undo the New Deal, which includes Social Security and vital protections for working Americans like the minimum wage. Every Senator in this body should tell the more than 10 million working Americans already living in poverty on minimum wage why someone who wants to make their life harder and destroy their hopes and dreams should be elevated to a lifetime to one of the most powerful courts in the country.

Justice Brown has been nominated to the court that oversees the actions of federal agencies responsible for worker protections, environmental laws, and civil rights and consumer protections. She has made no secret of her disdain for government. According to Justice Brown, government destroys families, takes property, is the cause of a “debased, debauched culture,” and threatens civilization.

Moreover, Justice Brown received a “not qualified” rating from the California Judicial Commission when she was nominated for the California Supreme Court in 1996 because of her “tendency to interject her political and philosophical views into her opinions” and complaints that she was insensitive to established legal precedent.

Speaking recently at a church on "Justice Sunday," Brown proclaimed a "war" between religious people and the rest of America. Is this someone we want protecting the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state, or freedom for all Americans to practice religion?

She has expanded the rights of corporations at the expense of individuals -- arguing to give corporations more leeway against attempts to prevent consumer fraud, to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors, and to prevent discrimination against women and individuals.

Janice Rogers Brown may be the daughter of a sharecropper, but she's never looked back to ensure the legal rights of millions of Americans still fighting to build better lives for their children and children's children.

These are the nominees over which the Republican leadership is waging this fight. And they are prepared to destroy the Senate that has existed for over 200 years to do it.

The Senate is a body of moderation. While the White House is the voice of a single man, and the House of Representatives is the voice of the Majority, the Senate is a forum of the states. It is the saucer that cools the coffee. It is the world’s greatest deliberative body.

How will we call this the world’s greatest deliberative body after the majority breaks the rules to silence the minority?

This vision of our government – the vision of our Founding Fathers - no longer suits President Bush and the Republicans in the Senate. They don’t want consensus or compromise. They don’t want advice and consent.

They want absolute power. And to get it, the President and the Majority Leader will do all they can to silence the Minority in the Senate and remove the last check on Republican power in Washington.

The White House is trying to grab power over two separate branches of government – Congress and the Judiciary – and they’re enlisting the help of the Republican Senate leadership to do it.

Republicans are demanding a power no president has ever had, and they’re willing to break the rules to do it.

And make no mistake Mr. President. This is about more than breaking the rules of the Senate or the future of seven radical judges.

At the end of the day, this about the rights and freedoms of millions of Americans.

The attempt to do away with the filibuster is nothing short of clearing the trees for the confirmation of an unacceptable nominee on the Supreme Court. If the Majority gets its way, George Bush and the far right will have the sole power to put whoever they want on the Supreme Court -- from Pat Robertson to Phylis Schlafley. They don't want someone who represents the values of all Americans, someone who can win bipartisan consensus. They want someone who can skate through with only a bare partisan majority, someone whose beliefs lay in the fringes of our society.

Nobody will be able to stop them from placing these people on the highest court in the land – extremist judges who won’t protect our rights and who hold values far outside the mainstream of America.

Here's what's really at stake here:

The civil rights of millions of Americans.

The voting rights of millions of Americans.

The right to clean water to drink and safe air to breathe for millions of Americans.

The right to free speech and religious beliefs.

The right to equality, opportunity and justice.

And, nothing less than the individual rights and liberties of all Americans.

It is up to us in this Chamber to say no to this abuse of power. To stand up for the Constitution and let George Bush and the Republican Party know that the Supreme Court is not theirs to claim.

This debate all comes down to this: will we let George Bush turn the Senate into a rubber stamp to fill the Supreme Court with people from the extreme right's wish list?

Or will we uphold the Constitution and use of advice and consent powers to force the President to look to the mainstream?

Mr. President, I hope it's the latter. I know that is what my fellow Democrats and I will fight for, and I hope the responsible Republicans we've heard from will have the courage to join us.

Let's see who has the courage in them.

Posted at 10:04 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Manny Miranda

Posted by Bob Brigham

Manny Miranda did a high-tech Watergate and we're now finding out that some of the information stolen from the Democrats is driving the GOP assualt on the Senate.

This entire powergrab is the work of one unethical thief who stole files and is now trying to force Republicans to join him in breaking the rules.

I know Swing State Project is read by many Republicans and polling suggests a good percentage may be unhappy that one thief has forced this upon the GOP. So send him an email and maybe he'll demonstrate why he's in charge with an intelligent reply.

Posted at 09:12 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Frist's New Problem

Posted by Bob Brigham

The thing about postmodern politics is that you need to be just as worried about certain people as you are about many of the organizations. John Aravosis for instance...

He – personally – is the biggest argument against the military's anti-gay discrimination. Aravosis is an Army of One. The guy fought Microsoft...and won. He is the embodiment of postmodern politics, and he wins more times than you do, so pay attention.

I know this must drive the Republicans crazy, but when John calls you out, you're going to getting a beating. So when he calls on Frist to resign, pay attention. From

Frist is a pig. The GOP is out of control. He should step down and the voters should slap that party hard. Their over-the-top comments and reactions and whines and complaints and outright lies have gone on long enough. Shut up and leave the country if you're so unhappy living in America the way the Framers set things up. Just spare us the blatant lies and the downright dangerous language.

Frist's words are particularly ironic when its GOP senators who have condoned the murder of judges and when it's their radical right hate group allies who have used language that could easily inspire violence against judges, or so says Sandra Day O'Connor and Judge Lefkow (the judge whose mother and husband were recently murdered in Chicago). The GOP has become the party of un-American, anti-American, far-right nutjobs who have no respect for the truth, the Constitution, the separation of powers, or the rule of law. They are beholdened to absolute power and their bigoted pseudo-religious patrons.

Aravosis doesn't just write a post, he runs campaigns that begin with a post. This is the call-out, next comes the fury, followed by the takedown. Republicans can only hope to survive a battle with Aravosis, there is no way to win. That's why I am so proud he's a General in our army.

Posted at 12:23 AM in Netroots, Nuclear Option | Comments (2) | Technorati

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

2006 Elections: Over Reach = Backlash

Posted by Bob Brigham

Big Lebowski:

The Dude: Walter, what is the point? Look, we all know who is at fault here, what the fuck are you talking about?
Walter Sobchak: Huh? No, what the fuck are you... I'm not... We're talking about unchecked aggression here, dude.

I couldn't help but think of this when I saw the latest poll numbers:

Voters dissatisfied with Bush, Congress
NBC/WSJ poll reveals 'angry electorate'

WASHINGTON - As the Senate marches closer toward a nuclear showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominees, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the American public is dissatisfied — with Congress and its priorities, with Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security and with the nation’s economy and general direction. Moreover, a majority believes that the Senate should make its own decision about the president’s judicial nominees, rather than just generally confirming them. [...]

Perhaps the most revealing finding in the poll is the attitude toward Congress. Just 33 percent of the respondents approve of Congress’ job. That’s down 6 points since a poll in April and 8 points since January.

“The public is exceptionally displeased with the Congress,” Hart said. “It is [its] lowest set of numbers since May of 1994,” the year when congressional Republicans defeated their Democratic counterparts in the midterm elections to take control of both the House and Senate. According to this poll, by 47 percent to 40 percent the public says it would prefer Democrats controlling Congress after the 2006 elections.

This isn't Abu Ghraib, this is our government. There are rules.

Posted at 07:38 PM in 2006 Elections, Nuclear Option | Technorati

No Shame, No Honor: Bill Frist

Posted by Bob Brigham

A Raw Story exclusive:

On the same day that a federal judge whose family was assassinated testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about courthouse safety, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) described Democratic efforts opposing some of President Bush’s judicial nominees as “leadership-led use of Cloture vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees.”

Federal Judge Joan Lefkow was a target for assassination, and her husband and mother were murdered in February of this year. Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) hammered Frist's comments and asked they be struck from the Senate record.

Durbin remarked, "When words are expressed during the court of the debate that those of us who oppose these nominees are setting out to 'kill, to defeat or to assassinate these nominees, those words should be taken from this record. Those words go too far."

I agree those words go too far, but they should remain on the record as none among us should every forget today's GOP.

Posted at 07:17 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: 2703 to 1

Posted by Tim Tagaris

2703 - 1.

That's the vote tally of Republicans in the U.S. Senate for the 39 Court of Appeals nominees sent by President Bush. Two thousand and three individual votes cast in the affirmative for the nominees, one single vote against. So much for calling for a "deliberative body," "independent thinking," and allowing each member to "vote their conscience."

via Senator Schumer on the floor, right now.

Posted at 07:03 PM in Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Nuclear Option: SCLM

Posted by Tim Tagaris

New York Times headline: Church Teacher at Center of Senate Fight

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A Sunday school teacher who graduated among the top of her law school class but angered abortion rights advocates by wanting to make it harder for minors to terminate a pregnancy is at the center of the historic storm in the U.S. Senate over the future of the federal judiciary.

A filibuster against people of faith, indeed. Not sure there is much more to be said about this piece. Kind of pathetic that it is linked front page at the top of the NYT website.

Posted at 06:47 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Email Manny Miranda

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Kos:

The email address he's using to rally his troops and wage this battle:

Spread the word.

UPDATE 6:00 P.M. (Tim): If you needed reminding, Miranda is the source of Charles Hurt's infamous Gannon-like article attempting to smear Harry Reid last week. He's the guy that "jacked" Senate computers of data that prompted his resignation while working for Senator Bill Frist--same guy Orrin Hatch called improper, unethical and simply unacceptable. And he's the guy who is coordinating efforts behind the scenes to blow up the Senate via the nuclear option.

Posted at 05:47 PM in Activism, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option Video

Posted by Bob Brigham

C-SPAN2 is streaming the live video, Dem Bloggers and Crooks and Liars have recaps.

Posted at 05:39 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: GOP Lie to Perpetuate a Fraud

Posted by Bob Brigham

Everyone knows that the entire premise behind the "nuclear option" is a lie. A bold-faced lie. But the most dangerous implication of the GOP lying to push their power grab is that this is a lie designed to perpetuate a fraud.

Steve Soto, Josh Marshall, and Hunter have more.

Posted at 04:40 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

GOP Thuggery Behind Power Grab

Posted by Bob Brigham

It is a shame that the MSM refuses to touch this story. From Raw Story:

Chairman of coalition aimed at killing filibuster pirated Dem, GOP memos on judicial nominees

The chairman of a massive coalition of groups working to kill the filibuster was forced to resign from the Senate Judiciary Committee last year after admitting to raiding thousands of private Democratic and GOP strategy memos relating to judicial nominees without permission—a fact that continues to go unnoticed in media reports, RAW STORY has found.

Chairman of the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters Manuel Miranda admitted to accessing thousands of private Democratic and Republican memos without permission in 2004, which he likened to “to finding documents left on his desk.”

He was a formerly counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) on judicial nominations.

A probe in early 2004 concluded “that more than 4,500 files of committee Democrats were accessed by former Hatch aides Manuel Miranda and Jason Lundell.” His tapping of strategy memos on judicial nominees went on for months; their contents appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.

These thugs have no respect, no honor -- only a lust for absolute power.

Posted at 04:19 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Democrats Winning Star Wars Metaphors

Posted by Bob Brigham

From a Press Release:

DAGOBAH (AP) - At an impromptu news conference held in front of his hut, Yoda, the famed Jedi Master, formally announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in 2008.

"Disbanded the Jedi Council young Skywalker has. Find new work I must," joked Master Yoda.

Master Yoda has hundreds of years of experience as a Jedi Master. Already, Master Yoda has received key endorsements from Senators Bail Organa (D-Alderaan) and Mon Mothma (D-Chandrila), who compared tactics the current Bush administration uses to undermine civil liberties to those of Emperor Palpatine.

Posted at 04:14 PM in 2008 Election - President, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Dem Unity Event: Harry Reid Statements

Posted by Bob Brigham

I have never before seen the Democrats as united, coordinated, and strong as today. Democrats just finished a Unity Event on the Capitol Steps. Reid's remarks after the fold:


Remarks as prepared for delivery:

The hour of decision has come for our nation’s Senate. In the debate that has begun, the Republican majority that holds the reins of power will have to make a choice.

They will have to choose between their partisan interests or the people’s interests.

Between upholding our liberties and rights or overturning 200 year old protections.

Between continuing to abuse the power the American people have lent them or using that power on behalf of everyday Americans who are looking for a fair break.

When Americans think of a scary person in a black robe, they should be thinking of Darth Vader, not Republican choices for judges. But what the Republican leadership is attempting to do is to pack the courts with judges far out of the mainstream of American values.

To do so they want to scrap rules that have been in place since our nation’s beginning that give every Senator the right to speak their mind and say their piece. They are demanding a power no president has ever had: the ability to all-but personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges without giving the other party any say.

That’s too much power for one person. That’s too much power for one President. That’s too much power for one political party.

Our Constitution says the Senate should give “advice and consent.” Not advice as long as we agree with everything President Bush wants. Not consent as long as we rubber-stamp the most extreme elements of the Republican agenda.

These checks and balances were put in place by our founding fathers. And they are there for a reason: to prevent any political party from abusing its power.

Look at the facts: more than 60 of President Clinton's nominees to be judges never were allowed an up-or-down vote. In contrast, we have approved 208 out of President Bush’s 218 nominees. That’s the best record any president has had in a quarter of a century. But its not enough for George Bush and the Republican leaders.

We’ve approved 95 percent of their picks. But that’s not enough for them. They want 100 percent. They want it all. All the say. All the control. All the power. It’s their way or the highway. But that’s not the American way.

The Washington Republicans are on a quest for absolute power…and we all know what that brings. Their corruption and abuse of power is already here for all Americans to see. House Republican leader Tom Delay is a walking symbol of what’s wrong with Washington DC.

At a time when gas prices are going through the roof and families are cutting back on summer vacations, George Bush and Dick Cheney are trying to line the pockets of big oil and walking hand-in-hand with the Saudi princes.

And while health care costs are rising, pensions are sinking, and our economy is stuck in place, Washington Republicans are wasting our time by trying to pay off the far right.

We are a nation at war. And the American people want their leaders to be focused on achieving progress, not playing partisan games.

Fifty years ago this Spring, a US Senator in the majority party wrote that “Fanatics and extremists are always disappointed at the failure of their government to rush to implement all their principles.” But that the job of leaders is to follow the “course of their conscience.”

Those were the words of John F. Kennedy in “Profiles in Courage.” Now comes a time of testing for our own time. In the coming days, we will see who our nation’s leaders of courage are today. I ask Republicans who believe in liberty and limited government to join us in taking a stand against this abuse of power.

Its time that the Republican leaders in Congress stopped silencing people’s voices and began hearing the voices of Americans who are calling on us to live up to our nation’s promise.


Give 'em hell Harry!

If you want a wealth of information, visit Reid's website.

Posted at 04:05 PM in Democrats, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Media Matters: Top 10 Filibuster Falsehoods

Posted by Bob Brigham

This is a must read. Via Atrios.

This is moving at the speed of light. Check back for more, Swing State Project will have constant posting.

Posted at 03:57 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

PFAW Email: Getting the Word Out On The 'Nuclear Option'

Posted by Bob Brigham

People for the American Way has blasted their first email. Full text after the fold.

We told you Sen. Frist would begin his nuclear countdown this week, and as you read this he is using one extreme judicial nominee, with more to follow, to launch the rule-breaking plan.You may have also heard in media reports that some senators have been discussing ways to avoid a nuclear showdown. Our position remains simple: the filibuster must be protected to prevent our courts from being packed with right wing judges who would turn back the clock on decades of social justice progress.

The filibuster is a critical part of our system of checks and balances, a tool for the minority to prevent out-of-the-mainstream judges from taking lifetime positions on the federal bench. The nominee being debated - Priscilla Owen - has a record of pushing a right-wing agenda hostile to individual rights and Senate Democrats are right to filibuster her nomination.

Furthermore, People For the American Way Foundation continues to provide research that describes how the "Nuclear Option" could break at least six senate rules and precedents, concluding that the senate Republican leaders plan to break the Rules in an attempt to change them for momentary partisan advantage."

Since Sen. Frist is steering the Senate into dangerous and uncharted territory, the timing is unclear. Debate on the Nuclear Option may continue into next week please watch for upcoming alerts as the vote may occur quickly. Meanwhile, the senate must hear from us!


We've been spending millions on print and television advertisements, but nothing is more powerful than an army of grassroots activists. Download our eye-catching flyer, gather some friends, and post copies around your city, town, or workplace. Hand out flyers at local markets, grocery stores, and movie theaters, and make sure all Americans know what's at stake. Be sure to follow any local regulations, be considerate of your neighbors and communities, and post and distribute the flyers where they'll be seen.

Click here to download the flyer (PDF)


Support our campaign:

Participate in our Massive Immediate Response:

Sign our petition to Save the Filibuster:

Forward this e-mail:

I signed up for the text alert some time ago, this is cutting edge activism.

Posted at 03:42 PM in Activism, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Senator Ted Kennedy

Posted by Bob Brigham

Senator Kennedy rocks, check out STOP IT NOW:

Senator Frist and the Republican Party believe they have absolute power to change our system of checks and balances and challenge our independent judiciary.

Their drastic and destructive path has only one destination: the Supreme Court.

Tell Senator Frist to stop it now before it reaches the pinacle of our independent judiciary:

I signed. Crystal Patterson, the Senator's Online Director, has an important diary on Daily Kos: ALERT: Senator Kennedy To Speak on the Floor at 2:45.

Posted at 03:22 PM in Activism, Massachusetts, Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Nuclear Option: Frist Hearts the Filibuster

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Question: On the Cloture Motion (Cloture Motion RE: Nom. of Richard Paez to be U.S. Circuit Judge) -- Roll Call Vote

Senator Dorgan said that he didn't want to embarrass his colleagues on the floor of the Senate by calling out those who have voted against cloture during an attempted filibuster of Clinton appointees. Well, he is a better man than I. Here's a hint -- Bill Frist & Sam Brownback -- on the list. Remember, just cause you failed in a filibuster attempt, doesn't mean you didn't see it as a "constitutional option."

Then there was 1995.

Question: On the Cloture Motion (Motion to invoke cloture Re: Henry W. Foster, Jr. nomination) -- Roll Call Vote

The full list is in the extended entry. Here's another hint; Santorum, Hatch, McConnel -- you guessed it, on the list.

Abraham (R-MI)
Ashcroft (R-MO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-CO)
Burns (R-MT)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coverdell (R-GA)
Craig (R-ID)
D'Amato (R-NY)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-KS)
Domenici (R-NM)
Faircloth (R-NC)
Gramm (R-TX)
Grams (R-MN)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hatfield (R-OR)
Helms (R-NC)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kempthorne (R-ID)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Mack (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nickles (R-OK)
Pressler (R-SD)
Roth (R-DE)
Santorum (R-PA)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-NH)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thompson (R-TN)
Thurmond (R-SC)
Warner (R-VA)

Posted at 03:09 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Nuclear Option

Posted by Bob Brigham

In the opening salvo, Schumer bested Frist

UPDATE 1 - Wednesday 1:54 PM (Bob): Dave Johnson reports, Schumer: "It's like a Banana Republic." Ellen Dana Nagler has the negotiation watch.

UPDATE 2 - Wednesday 2:29 PM (Tim): A wingnut batton pass. From Senator Sessions to Sam Brownback who wastes no time sprinting down the path to regress by taking up the case against gay marriage. This is going to be a long half-hour.

UPDATE 3 - Wednesday 2:38 PM (Bob): In addition to email, phone, and fax, send a telegram. The Manny Miranda email I mentioned earlier also said that the zealots were going to "use all the technology" at their disposal, so let's escalate with some old school technology.

UPDATE 4 - Wednesday 2:54 PM (Bob): ACTION WATCH:

PFAW Filibuster Action Center
DSCC: Senate Republicans Out of Control and an ask:

Call these Senators today and urge them to hold the line and support the right to a filibuster.

Senator Susan Collins (ME)
Phone: (202) 224-2523

Senator Olympia Snowe (ME)
Phone: (202) 224-5344

Senator Chuck Hagel (NE)
Phone: (202) 224-4224

Senator Arlen Specter (PA)
Phone: (202) 224-4254

Senator John W. Warner (VA)
Phone: (202) 224-2023

UPDATE 5: Wednesday 3:10 PM (Bob): The DNC has audio of the conference call with Reid

UPDATE 6: Wednesday 3:25 PM (Bob): Lastest news posted here.

Posted at 01:49 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Send a Telegram

Posted by Bob Brigham

Harkening back to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, send a telegram. You can do it online, using the internet to pile-on with the oldest form of wired lobbying. Go to Western Union, click on Send Now -> Telegram, and send one, especially if you are represented by a Republican Senator. In addition to email, phone and fax, invest $15 in sending a telegram. Here's a sample to Leader Harry Reid:


Time to escalate, time to go old school.

Posted at 01:10 PM in Activism, Netroots, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Filibuster and Nuclear Option Coverage

Posted by Bob Brigham

Swing State Project will have round-the-clock coverage of the filibuster festivities (this post will remain at the top of the page). You can watch on CSPAN2.

Update 1 - Wednesday 9:50 A.M. (Tim): It's on. Bill Frist has brought the nomination of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown to the floor and the debate about the filibuster is on. No turning back now.

Update 2 - Wednesday 10:33 A.M. (Bob): Joining the battle...after five days on the road I'm back in The City, sitting at the best coffee shop and watching C-SPAN 2 online.

Update 3 - Wednesday 10:48 A.M. (Bob & Tim: I am including contact links): From an email, Manny Miranda is targeting, "GOP Leaders, and to McCain, Snowe (email below), Collins, Hagel, Sununu, Chafee, and Red State Democrats Byrd, Conrad, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, and Bingaman (email below)."

Comma separated email addresses (looking for rest to make it easy):,

Update 4 - Wednesday 12:08 P.M. (Bob): Memo to Senator Ken Salazar. You can't win if negotiate with terrorists.

Update 5 - Wednesday 12:52 P.M. (Bob): Since the last update, I've been on conference calls with Reid and Schumer. Democrats are as coordinated as I've ever seen.

Posted at 01:04 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Political Respect - Nuclear Option

Posted by Bob Brigham

Respect is something the polls need to do a better job of trying to understand. While polls try to follow by examining sentiment by testing approval, they need to also look at respect because we know that people will vote against interests, against their beliefs.

I don't care where people stand on the issue of the nuclear option, it is just that I'm far more interested in the degree voters respect the role a politician is playing in the filibuster theatre.

I thought this deserved some disussion after reading this in the Las Vegas Journal Review:

Reid's performance gets thumbs up from most

WASHINGTON -- Days before an anticipated Senate filibuster showdown, a slight majority of Nevadans disapprove of Sen. Harry Reid blocking some of President Bush's judicial picks, according to a new poll.

But despite splitting from him on federal judges, a majority of Nevadans believe Reid, D-Nev., is doing a good job representing them in the Senate, the poll showed.

For many voters, respect is a primia facia hurdle, only after that will they listen to the issues. So the question for the nuclear war is will voters respect the Republicans after this power grab:

Despite his leading role in partisan fighting over judges and Social Security reform, Reid drew some support from Nevada Republicans, with 29 percent of GOP respondents rating him "good" or "excellent."

Time for bold action. Time to earn some respect. The Democrat comeback begins today.

Posted at 10:03 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Democrats, Nevada, Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Senator Reid, We've Got Your Back

Posted by Bob Brigham

Every day, Nevada Senator Harry Reid looks out for us. On the brink of the GOP attacking the institution of the United States Senate with the "Nuclear Option", he needs us. Senator, I got your back. But he could use you too.

I've signed up at, so I get email briefings from the Minority Leaders "war room" keeping me in the loop on what is going on in the upper chamber. If you care about politics, you should probably go sign up.

In one of the most amazing uses of the internet for participatory democracy, Senator Reid wants our statements on the nuclear debate -- so he can use them on the floor. I am overwhelmed by how much Senator Reid "gets it" when it comes to the internet. He wants to use the internet to involve people, instead of just talking at them and asking for contribution. He wants more debate, more participation, more voices, and more people involved in politics.

There is very stark contrast between Reid's involvement in trying to save the filibuster and Frist's attempts to shut down debate. In know Swing State Project is read by some brilliant people. So throw an idea, send him your words so he has the ammunition necessary to win the nuclear war the GOP is hell-bent on launching. Here is his email:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has informed me that tomorrow he will bring the nominations of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown to the floor of the United States Senate. The Senate has already rejected both of these judges and now Bill Frist is threatening to impose the “Nuclear Option”, effectively ending free speech in the Senate, breaking the rules to end Democrats right to filibuster, in order to pass these extreme nominees.

Next week I need all of you on the email list to stand with us. I want to use your voice as part of this debate. Tell me and in fact the American people why this debate is important to you and I will use some of your statements on the floor.

George Bush has gotten more than 95% of his judicial nominations confirmed – but it isn’t enough. The “Nuclear Option” is just another example of Republicans striving for absolute power in Washington, DC. They don’t have the votes to pass these nominees so they abuse power and break the rules to get their way. If they win, it spells the end of the checks and balances the founding fathers envisioned in our constitution.

And if that wasn’t enough, the judges George Bush has chosen to serve on the federal courts are simply unacceptable because of their actions and judicial temperaments. Janice Rogers Brown has called Social Security a form of “cannibalism” and has consistently used her position to advocate for an extreme ideological agenda. In one opinion she argued that racial slurs are protected by the first amendment, even when they rise to the level of illegal race discrimination.

Priscilla Owen is no better. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales - who is now Attorney General– served with Owen and has called her opinions “an unconscionable act of judicial activism." She has even sought to twist the meaning of an important state civil rights law making it much harder for employees to prove that their rights were violated.

This is the most important fight of my political life but working together we can defeat the forces that wish abuse power to destroy freedom of speech in the United States Senate

Lend your voice and stand with me on the floor this week. There has never been a more important time.

Thank you,

Senator Harry Reid

Give him your thoughts.

Posted at 03:49 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bush Justice Department Smears Reid

Posted by Bob Brigham

The GOP political assassination push leading up to the filibuster is now being financed by your tax dollars. From the AP:

The Justice Department is edging into the Senate controversy over judicial nominees, writing key lawmakers after Democratic Leader Harry Reid publicly referred to an FBI file on one of President Bush's controversial appointees.

"The letter expressed concern about recent remarks on the floor of the Senate which alluded to an FBI background investigation file provided by the Department of Justice to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a confidential basis in connection with a judicial nomination," a department official said Friday night.

The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the letter did not refer specifically to Reid, or to 6th Circuit Court nominee Henry Saad.

1. For years, everyone has known about this (public knowledge in the public domain).

2. This is a politically motivated "leak" by a Justice Department "anonymous source" -- total partisan politics.

3. No where does the letter mention Reid, but the "leak" brings Reid into the story, not Orin Hatch who has also spoke on this.

This is disgusting.

UPDATE: Matt Singer has more...Bush Admin Still Trying to Push Story, Going Into Violate Separation of Powers Mode:

Where was this concern a year ago, when Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, and Charles Hurt all referred to these materials? It was nowhere. This isn’t concern about what’s going on. It’s the Bush Administration trying to hijack democracy by meddling in the legislative process, inferring that the legislative branch must defer to the executive, and generally ransacking the principles of our Constitution.

Posted at 12:10 PM in Nuclear Option, Republicans | Comments (3) | Technorati

"Nuclear Option"

Posted by Bob Brigham

Last night, I took the red-eye to Dulles. Let's get it on.

Posted at 09:40 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Friday, May 13, 2005

Rapid Response: The Hurt

Posted by Bob Brigham

I just want to clarify a few things so that everyone is on the same page. The year is 2005 and Tom Daschle is not leading Democrats in the Senate. The days of walking all over Democrats are over. People who do not appreciate these facts will feel The Hurt.

Today's total bullshit that Charlie Hurt let Manuel Miranda run in the Washington Times should serve as a wake-up call to the out-of-control conservatives who think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. The year is 2005 and Harry Reid is the Senate Leader.

While the Gang of 500 was sleeping, the blogosphere gave a late-night wake up call to everyone that the year is 2005. Bloggers have a nationwide post-modern message system. And netroots activists are ready for rapid response to bullshit. If the GOP is foolish enough to "go nuclear" they will find a backlash so thorough, so fast, and so widespread that it will make last night look quaint.

In preperation for the GOP's nuclear attack on the Senate, netroots activists are signing up to get a text-message alert on their cell phones. Immediately, an army of Democrats will be rushing to computers to wage politics online. The backlash will be the largest rapid response ever. Bloggers and those with email lists will lead as Generals on the post-modern battlefield as our message spreads every state. Before Americans see what happens on the news, they are going to learn about it from their family and friends and neighbors. Unfiltered message real-time.


It was fun flexing our muscles last night.

Once upon a time, Republicans could run their smear campaigns with impugnity. Now, we will go after those who plan those smears, those who abet them, and those who disseminate them.

We will be quick, ruthless, and diligent. We won't show mercy, because we haven't gotten any. We will play their game, and play it better. And we will prevail.


UPDATE Chris Bowers has much, much more...must read.

Posted at 12:18 PM in Netroots, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Maybe Reid Learned About Saad's FBI File from... Charlie Hurt

Posted by DavidNYC

Washington Times, June 4, 2004:

From the moment Mr. Hatch began the meeting, he struggled to get the quorum required to vote on a nominee. As soon as a quorum gathered, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, requested a private meeting to discuss accusations stemming from Judge Saad's FBI background check.

Though several Republicans noted privately that the routine check had been completed more than six months ago and that no questions had arisen, Mr. Hatch acquiesced and removed the public and reporters to hold a meeting. During that meeting, Judge Saad's hopes of getting out of committee faded.

Although the closed-door meeting succeeded in delaying Judge Saad's nomination one more week, it failed to remain secret. The hearing was broadcast over the Internet because of apparent inadvertence on the part of Republican staffers. (Emphasis added.)

The byline: Charles Hurt. Oops.

Posted at 03:40 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Charlie Hurt, a Hack, Hacks & Misses

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Charlie Hurt is about a year late in trying to manufacture this "scandal."

With Senator Harry Reid outplaying Bill Frist at every turn in the debate over the nuclear option, the GOP turned to Moonie Times hatchet man Charles Hurt in a piece that probably would have been rejected by the editor(s?) at Jeff Gannon's Talon News.

The public already knows a great deal about Michigan Appeals Court Judge Henry Saad, one of President Bush's judicial nominees right in the middle of the nuclear option debate:

Last June, Michigan's Senators Stabenow and Levin, from Saad's home state, said there was "information from Saad's FBI background check that raised doubts about his ability to serve."

• The public knows even more about Saad because the Senate Judiciary left the live web audio feed on while Senators were "raising and answering questions about the contents of Saad's FBI background check when the alarming call came that the entire private session was being streamed live on C-SPAN's audio Web site." (Roll Call June 7, 2004)

• We also know that Saad's wife was a contributed $10,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and a whopping $25,000 to the Republican National Committee.

And we also know that Harry Reid is ready to vote on the nuclear option, and the Republicans do not have the votes for passage. Quite an embarassment for the "Justice Sunday" crowd.

Enter Charles Hurt of the Washington Times and the GOP's latest "Hail Mary."

The Washington Times Moonie Times ran a piece today, linked above, that attempts to create scandal out of nothing - setting their sights on Harry Reid. The charge? Well, on the floor of the Senate today, Senator Reid said that Saad would be filibustered because of questions raised in his FBI background check. The GOP's latest lead trial balloon talking point merrily parroted by Hurt is that Reid should face expulsion from the Senate because of this.

This story will go nowhere, and fast.

First of all, this is old news, public news, that we became aware of because of discussion inside the U.S. Senate almost an entire year ago. Second of all, the details of that report were broadcast for the world to listen to - again, nearly a year ago. And third, Charles Hurt is a hack with zero journalistic credibility. The only thing separating Jeff Gannon from Charles Hurt is that Hurt still writes for a ficticious, fringe "news organization."

Here are some of Hurt's greatests hits, just to give you an example of his "brand of journalism:"

Edwards' malpractice suits leave bitter taste

The American Medical Association lists North Carolina's current health care situation as a "crisis" and blames it on medical-malpractice lawsuits such as the ones that made Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards a millionaire many times over. One of the most successful personal-injury lawyers in North Carolina history, Mr. Edwards won dozens of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals across the state that he now represents in the Senate.
Kerry flip-flops on terrorism
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry spent the past week hawking a tough national-security image to convince voters that he can be trusted to aggressively fight the war on terrorism, calling it the "greatest threat" facing America today. But less than six months ago, the Massachusetts senator said in a televised debate that the Bush administration had exaggerated the threat posed by terrorism.
For a much more comprehensive list of Charlie's "journalistic" practices, check out Matt Singer's post (Left in the West) on some of Hurt's past articles.

Meanwhile, no word on whether the terror alert might be raised as we get closer to the "nuclear moment" on the Senate floor.

Posted at 01:23 AM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Nuclear Option" Mass Immediate Response

Posted by Bob Brigham

People for the American Way:

By giving us your cell phone number, we will text message you as soon as Senate Republicans trigger the "nuclear option." Embedded in that text message will be a link to the Senate switchboard. With the push of a couple buttons, your call – along with thousands of others – goes right through to the corridors of power demanding preservation of the filibuster.

This is a brand new technology, and this is the first time it is being used on a large scale.

I was proud to sign up, this is great. And when GOP goes Nuclear, stop by the blogs, we have some tricks of our own...

Posted at 05:59 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Republican Zealots Plan to "Go Nuclear" Next Week

Posted by Bob Brigham

Political Wire has the recap on the "Nuclear Option" to end the filibuster. They report:

1. It will happen next week

2. It will start with Judge Priscilla Owen's nomination

Posted at 09:39 AM in Nuclear Option | Comments (2) | Technorati

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Filibuster Frist Road Trip

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the good people at, check out Filibuster Frist Goes to Washington:

Students Bring Two Week Long Frist Filibuster to Capitol to Protest Nuclear Option on Judges

Washington, DC – Scores of college students will converge on the Capitol Reflecting Pool on Wednesday to stage a 24 hour filibuster in protest of the “Nuclear Option” being considered by Senate Republicans to end filibusters on controversial judicial nominees.

The mock filibuster, initiated two weeks ago by a group of Princeton University students outside the Frist Campus Center, a building financed by a $25 million gift from the Senate majority leader’s family, has been running round-the-clock for over 300 hours and has attracted wide spread media attention.

With action on the nuclear option expected within days, Princeton students will travel by bus to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning, joining area college students and congressional leaders to continue their filibuster at the Capitol Reflecting Pool within sight of Senator Frist’s Capitol office.

If you are in the Washington, DC area, join in!

“This student-powered filibuster shows that progressive activism on college campuses is strong and building. It also demonstrates the overwhelming support for the 200 year-old institution of the Senate filibuster,” said Asheesh Siddique, editor of the Princeton Progressive Review, one of the filibuster’s sponsors. “Buoyed by the dedication of hundreds of Princeton University students and other students across the nation, we are now bringing the fight for a fair and independent judiciary directly to Senator Frist,” said Siddique. The Princeton Progressive Review is one of fourteen of progressive college papers across the country supported by Campus Progress, a new project of the Center for American Progress.

The Washington mock filibuster will be a continuation of the original Princeton protest, with students reading from texts that range from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, to Shakespeare and physics texts. Students from Howard University, Georgetown University, Trinity College, George Washington University and American University will also take turns speaking over the 24 hour filibuster.

The protest and its organizers have received coverage from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, New York Times, Washington Post, UK Guardian, the popular blog Talking Points Memo, and Air America Radio. A live Webcam, daily blog, and schedule of special guests are available at

The student filibuster will begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and will continue throughout the night, ending at 11 a.m. Thursday with press conference and rally with members of the House and Senate.

The event is also being supported by Campus Progress and Young People For, a project of People for The American Way.

Event Highlights:

Wednesday, May 11
9:00 a.m. (approximately) – Princeton students arrive via bus at the Capitol Reflecting Pool (3rd St SW & Maryland Ave SW)

Thursday, May 12
11:00 a.m. – Rally and Press Conference with Members of Congress

They've raised $5492.26 of the $7,500 needed. Help them out.

Posted at 08:15 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

PA-Sen: Chuck Pennacchio Joins Princeton Filibuster

Posted by Bob Brigham

Regular Swing State Project readers know that when Tim isn't posting here, he is directing communications for Chuck Pennacchio, who is running against Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.

Today they are in New Jersey, joining the Princeton Filibuster: (see here, here, here, and here).

I just got off the phone with Tim...

Professor Pennacchio begins speaking at 3PM local time, with Chris Matthews doing a Harball interview beginning at 4PM.

Because of the media attention, there are rumors of a College Republican protest, but it is unknown what size of crowd they would be able to turn out.

They are closing in on Hour 173 with no end in sight. Right now, there are around 25 students at the event and the MSNBC crew is setting up.

The mood is festive, with refreshments and people seem to be having fun.

Tim is decked out with the postmodern politics toolkit: laptop, cell phone, mic, video and still digitals. You can watch the event on the webcam at

More to come...

Posted at 02:41 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Pennsylvania | Comments (2) | Technorati

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

MoveOn Rally

Posted by Bob Brigham

I enjoyed tonight's MoveOn rally in the heart of San Francisco. It was easy to get to, efficiently organized over email, and only lasted an hour -- it was almost a flash mob.

If anyone is fool enough to doubt the people power potential of e-organizing, it was on display tonight. I've worked on a similarly sized rally thrown together in 72 hours, but it took twice as much local staff to turn out a crowd in San Francisco as MoveOn used to turn out people for 150 rallies in 48 states.


If you look at the signs, you'll realize that they are tiled with four sheets of printout for each sign. Not only did MoveOn turn out a crowd, but they worked towards message consistency while giving people the tools to quickly make their own signs. At the edges of the rally early on, I noticed lots of people walking up, proudly carrying the sign they made in 5 minutes with 8 pages of computer printout, a piece of cardboard, and some tape.

The minimum level of staff intensiveness didn't hinder the flow of the event. There were brief speeches with a bullhorn, but the rally was spread out across such a long area of sidewalk that most people were content to hold their signs, wave at the honking cars, and of course: tell stories of past protests.

You can't attend any protest, especially in San Francisco, without hearing battle stories of the protests against the Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam wars...the tales of the Free Speech Movement, strikes and lockouts, Governor Reagan, Richard Nixon, President Reagan, President Bush, President Bush, and the recent protests against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Moveon deserves a great deal of credit for making tonight as easy as possible for supporters. People joined up, stood together on principle, and still had most of the evening to spend with loved ones.

It was very impressive.

Posted at 10:31 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sen. Isakson (R-GA) Pimped Filibuster on Senate Floor

Posted by Tim Tagaris

File this under, priceless.

Senator Isakson on the floor of the United States Senate extolling the virtues of the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority from being overrun by the majority.

"Don't you fear that the Shi'ites inevitably being in the majority, that you will be overrun? And he says, 'oh no, we have a secret weapon.' Mr. President, this is a Kurdish leader, in the middle of Iraq in the 21st century who said he had a secret weapon. And when asked what it was, he said one word, 'filibuster'" [...]

"It is one of their minority leaders, proudly stating one of the pillars and principles of our government, as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority."

Quicktime File (from website) - Just watch the whole thing, it's about 1 min 30 sec, and it's priceless.

Posted at 04:56 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Studying the "Nuclear Option"

Posted by Bob Brigham

While Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist is whipping the zealots into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy over the GOP plot for absolute power, people who care about the Constitution, checks and blances, seperation of power, minority rights, and the institution of the United States Senate should spend some time getting reading up on the details.

Over at The Next Hurrah -- a must read blog -- Kagro X has been probing the issues surrounding the "Nuclear Option" in detail that demands to be studied and enjoyed.

Nuclear Option Proliferation
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part II
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part III
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IV
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part V
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VI
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part VIII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part IX
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part X
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XI
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XIII
Notes on the Nuclear Option -- Part XIV

Footnotes on the Nuclear Option
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part II
Footnotes on the Nuclear Option -- Part III

Posted at 03:42 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Saturday, April 16, 2005

2006 Elections: Backlash Against GOP Holy War

Posted by Bob Brigham

Here is the headline you don't want on the Editorial Page of the New York Times:

Bill Frist's Religious War

Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.

Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern. The message is that the Democrats who oppose a tiny handful of President Bush's judicial nominations are conducting an assault "against people of faith." By that, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.

Indeed. And people are talking about how the GOP Theocracy now extends to the highest level of government:

It is one thing when private groups foment this kind of intolerance. It is another thing entirely when it's done by the highest-ranking member of the United States Senate, who swore on the Bible to uphold a Constitution that forbids the imposition of religious views on Americans. Unfortunately, Senator Frist and his allies are willing to break down the rules to push through their agenda - in this case, by creating what the senator knows is a false connection between religion and the debate about judges.

Senator Frist and his backers want to take away the sole tool Democrats have for resisting the appointment of unqualified judges: the filibuster. This is not about a majority or even a significant number of Bush nominees; it's about a handful with fringe views or shaky qualifications. But Senator Frist is determined to get judges on the federal bench who are loyal to the Republican fringe and, he hopes, would accept a theocratic test on decisions.

Senator Frist has an even bigger game in mind than the current nominees: the next appointments to the Supreme Court, which the Republican conservatives view as their best chance to outlaw abortion and impose their moral code on the country.

We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on "moral values." Even if that were true, that's a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.

So Mr. Bush, will you stand up and say no before the Theocrats' Nuclear Holy War begins?

Posted at 01:59 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Technorati

2006 Senate: Reid on Frist's Holy War

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Senator Reid:

I am disappointed that in an attempt to hide what the debate is really about, Senator Frist would exploit religion like this. Religion to me is a very personal thing. I have been a religious man all my adult life. My wife and I have lived our lives and raised our children according to the morals and values taught by the faith to which we prescribe. No one has the right to judge mine or anyone else’s personal commitment to faith and religion.

God isn’t partisan.

As His children, he does ask us to do our very best and treat each other with kindness. Republicans have crossed a line today. America is better than this and Republicans need to remember that. This is a democracy, not a theocracy. We are people of faith, and in many ways are doing God’s work. But we represent all Americans, regardless of religion. Our founding fathers had the superior vision to separate Church and State in our democracy. It is a fundamental principle that has allowed our great, diverse nation to grow and flourish peacefully. Blurring the line between Church and State erodes our Constitution, and our democracy. It is a blatant abuse of power. Participating in something designed to incite divisiveness and encourage contention is unacceptable. I would hope that Sen. Frist will rise above something so beyond the pale.

Posted at 01:25 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Friday, April 15, 2005

2006 Senate: Coalition of Religious Organizations Blasts Frist

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Press Release:

Senate Majority Leader Frist’s Attack on the Religion of his Opponents “Offensive,” says a Coalition of Religious Organizations

Religious Coalition Appeals to Frist to Put the American Value of Religious Tolerance Ahead of Frist’s Partisan Political Agenda of Forcing Senators to Accept Bush’s Extremist Judicial Nominees

Friday, April 15 -- A coalition of progressive religious leaders and organizations today expressed outrage that Republican leaders are attacking the faith of Democrats and progressives in a cynical, partisan effort to win support for a handful of extremist judicial nominees.

”Such an action is immoral, deceitful, and beyond the pale of even politics as usual,” said Rev. Albert M. Pennybacker, Executive Director and Chair of Clergy and Laity Network and coordinator for the Building the Beloved Community Coalition. “We call on Senator Frist to immediately cancel his plans to attend the event, and we urge all Republicans to condemn this wholesale attack on the religious practices of their political opponents.”

According to the New York Times, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist will join an organization called "The Family Research Council" in a national telecast on April 24. The Council is calling it "Justice Sunday," are saying Democrats want to use the Senate filibuster "against people of faith."

“As people of faith, we protest the religious manipulation of the filibuster issue,” said Pennybacker. “Attacks by Republicans on the religion of those who differ politically are offensive in America.”

The Clergy and Laity Network will sponsor a national prayer vigil on April 24 and is inviting citizens of all faith traditions to protest this unprecedented attack, which is add odds with America’s religious traditions

The CLN and DriveDemocracy are the coordinators of a national coalition of more than 65 religious organizations. Their national "Breaking the Silence" campaign kicked off April 4 at Riverside Church in NYC and is continuing with a national tour of America. Details of these and other events can be found at and

Posted at 05:01 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Comments (1) | Technorati

2006 Senate Races: GOP Losing on "Nuclear Option"

Posted by Bob Brigham

From The Hill:

GOP fears it's losing Frist v. Reid Senate Republican leaders were due to meet last night amid rising concern that they are being beaten on the “nuclear option” by Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) public-relations war room.

The GOP’s talks follow a meeting last week in which aides warned Bob Stevenson, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) communications director, that something needs to be done to win back lost ground, a participant said.

“I think there’s a realization that this particular [Democratic] effort has to be countered and they’re in full-scale attack mode,” a GOP aide said, adding, “I think that people know that we’ve got a serious problem here."

Reid's War Room is working...

The team is headed by Jim Manley, whom Reid hired in December from the office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Stephanie Cutter, who was campaign spokeswoman for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign, joined Reid’s team last week to coordinate outside liberal groups and Senate Democratic policy and communications staff in the fight over the nuclear option. Reid’s war room currently employs eight staff members and is part of a nearly 20-person communications team.

Now it is one thing for Democrats to have a War Room to preserve the Constitution and the filibuster, but it is a far different thing if the GOP sets up a War Room to push their agenda of absolute power:

He did not say whether Republicans would establish their own such team, noting that “having a war room inside the Capitol is unprecedented.” Nevertheless, he indicated that more aides would be drafted to the fight over the nuclear option.

For people keeping score, Democrats are winning and this is going to be a huge issue in the 2006 Midterm Elections:

Another GOP aide said: “There’s a general sense in the rank and file that we are a little in the hole and that Democrats have been more aggressive on messaging, that we’ve kind of gone dark. Democrats have gotten a head start and defined the issue ahead of us.”

At a closed-door luncheon Tuesday, members of the Democratic caucus were presented a stack of more than 260 press editorials from 41 states and the District of Columbia arguing against changing Senate rules to prohibit judicial filibusters. That’s quite a change from a year and a half ago, when many editorial boards criticized Democrats for blocking confirmation votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees. [...]

“They turned it around,” the aide said, and “one can suggest that it’s because of our lack of organized countermessaging.”

A few GOP senators said that when they returned to their states they heard more talk from their constituents about the nuclear option than Social Security.

Posted at 11:23 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Thursday, April 14, 2005

2006 Senate Elections: GOP Hates America

Posted by Bob Brigham

Washington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is all but certain to press for a rule change that would ban filibusters of judicial nominations in the next few weeks, despite misgivings by some of his fellow Republicans and a possible Democratic backlash that could paralyze the chamber, close associates said yesterday.

The strategy carries significant risks for the Tennessee Republican, who is weighing a 2008 presidential bid. It could embroil the Senate in a bitter stalemate that would complicate passage of President Bush's agenda and raise questions about Frist's leadership capabilities. Should he fail to make the move or to get the necessary votes, however, Frist risks the ire of key conservative groups that will play big roles in the 2008 GOP primaries.

If Frist does this he shuts down the Senate. And if the GOP shuts down the Senate, then the following Senators are not going to look forward to the voters' check on absolute power during the 2006 elections:

  • Senator George Allen (R-VA)*
  • Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)*
  • Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)*
  • Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
  • Senator John Ensign (R-NV)*
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)*
  • Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)*
  • Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)*
  • Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)*
  • Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)*
  • Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)*
  • Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
  • Senator Jim Talent (R-MO)*
  • Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)*

* Social Security: on record voting in favor of "deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

In addition, such a move would allow the following Democrats a hero vote to bolster their 2006 re-elections:

  • Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE)
  • Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
  • Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
  • Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
  • Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Posted at 11:21 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

2006 Senate: Religious Wackos Take Over Senate

Posted by Bob Brigham

New York Times:

WASHINGTON, April 14 - As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other.

People of faith? These zealots aren't people of faith, they are the American matter how much they hide behind the flag, these basket cases are no different than Waco or Jonestown or those idiots who strapped on their tennis shoes for the ride on the comet and when they start talking about one party rule then all people of faith should be worried.

Posted at 10:37 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Republican absolute power

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the AP:

WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Saturday that the fight over President Bush's judicial nominees is really a battle between Democrats who believe in checks and balances and Republicans who want everything their way. [...]

"When it comes down to it, stripping away these important checks and balances is about the arrogance of those in power who want to rewrite the rules so that they can get their way," Reid, D-Nev., said in his party's weekly radio address.

The Republican plan has been dubbed the "nuclear option" because some say it would blow up Senate relations.

If the GOP goes forward with their plan for absolute power, it will shut down the Senate:

Reid has threatened to retaliate by slowing down or stopping Senate business through procedural maneuvers.

While the fight is technically over the internal rules of the Senate, Reid said it is still important. "This isn't about some arcane procedures of the Senate. It is about protecting liberty and our limited government," he said.

Without the judicial filibuster, "the U.S. Senate becomes merely a rubber stamp for the president," Reid said. "It would mean that one political party — be it Republicans today or Democrats tomorrow — gets to have all the say over our nation's highest courts."

Reid also targeted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in his remarks. While not identifying him by name, Reid said there was a "Republican leader threatening judges who protect our rights and corrupting our government by running roughshod over the ethics committee to protect himself."

Listening to Tom DeLay or the Constitution...Democrats are 100% right. There are no two sides to this story.

Posted at 06:54 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Technorati

Friday, April 08, 2005

Everyone hates Republicans

Posted by Bob Brigham


When Bush's face appeared on giant screen TVs showing the ceremony, many in the crowds outside St. Peter's Square booed and whistled.

ABC News:

President Bush's standing with the public is slumping just three months into his final term, but Americans have an even lower regard for the job being done by Congress. Bush's job approval is at 44 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. Only 37 percent have a favorable opinion of the work being done by the Republican-controlled Congress, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.

Bush's job approval was at 49 percent in January, while Congress was at 41 percent. [...]

The number supporting Bush's handling of some domestic issues dipped between March and April, to 42 percent for the economy and 38 percent for issues like education and health care, according to the poll conducted for The Associated Press by Ipsos-Public Affairs.

Support for the president's approach to his top domestic priority, Social Security, remained at 36 percent, while 58 percent oppose it.

New York Times:

But Democrats say they intend to use the renewed focus on energy issues to revive their case that Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, both of whom worked in the oil business, are more interested in helping oil companies than in helping consumers. And several recent polls suggest that the spike in oil prices and the resulting rise in gasoline prices have undermined Mr. Bush's political standing.

"When gas prices go up to the level they're at now, they are in some ways the economic equivalent of the color-coded terrorism alerts," said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. "They work their way through into public opinion very quickly in terms of affecting people's opinions about the direction of the nation and raising the stakes on pocketbook issues generally."

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey published Thursday showed a drop in approval of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy to 41 percent from 46 percent two months ago. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released this week found an even sharper drop, to 41 percent from 48 percent five weeks earlier.

The 2006 backlash is materializing.

Posted at 05:51 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option, Republicans | Comments (1) | Technorati

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Save Phil A. Buster

Posted by Bob Brigham

Hi! I'm Phil A. Buster, welcome to my website. Thanks for coming!

The Republican leadership in the Senate is threatening to destroy me and hurt my friends, Checks and Balanz. Our founding fathers created this system of checks and balances over 200 years ago. And now Republican leaders in the Senate want to take that away from all of us.

I'm the only check that prevents a party that controls the presidency and the houses of Congress from abusing that power. We can't allow Senate Republicans to rewrite our country's history just to serve their own partisan political agenda.

Posted at 01:05 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati

Saturday, April 02, 2005

U.S. Senate "Nuclear Option" and 2006 midterm elections

Posted by Bob Brigham

Over at DailyKos, Kargo X has kickstarted a conversation on the coming "Nuclear Option" -- the Republican scheme to end the filibuster and gain absolute power.

If the GOP pushes forward with this power grab, it will force a major backlash against Republicans in the 2006 midterm elections. During the Schiavo usurpation, Bush dropped 10 pts in the time it took for Santorum to permanently tie himself to the issue.

If the GOP continues their quest for absolute power, the backlash will be severe. Already, Democrats have 12 Republican Senators (facing re-election in 2006) on record with their Social Security vote.

It has become conventional wisdom that Americans oppose the GOP plan to privatize Social Security. If the GOP moves for absolute control of the Senate while Bush forces privatization then the storyline gets a villian in a potent way. Add Tom DeLay as the public face of Republicans in Congress, a splintering of the conservative coalition, and a united Democratic Party. Together, this could result in a major restructuring of party perception in a nationalized 2006 midterm election cycle.

Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) wants to be President so he needs to protect his record. In addition, the following Republican Senators need to worry about running for re-election in 2006:

  • Senator George Allen (R-VA)*
  • Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)*
  • Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)*
  • Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
  • Senator John Ensign (R-NV)*
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)*
  • Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)*
  • Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)*
  • Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)*
  • Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)*
  • Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)*
  • Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
  • Senator Jim Talent (R-MO)*
  • Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)*

* Social Security: on record voting in favor of "deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

In addition, such a move would allow the following Democrats a hero vote to bolster their 2006 re-elections:

  • Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE)
  • Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
  • Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
  • Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
  • Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Posted at 06:36 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nuclear Option, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming | Technorati

Nuclear Option Archive: