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The daily view from the oasis

January 20, 2006 PERMALINK
The Osama Tape
Another Reminder Of the GOP's Failing Terror War
(posted Jan. 20 1:30 AM ET)

1590 days since 9/11 and Osama still has not been brought to justice, nor (as Dubya used to say) has justice been brought to him.

Friendly leaders have been undemocratically installed in Iraq and Afghanistan under the guise of democracy.

The Bush Administration has unconstitutionally asserted that Dubya is at the “zenith” of his executive power.

He has used that unchecked, unbalanced, unconstitutional power to allow torture, secret detentions, and warrantless wiretaps.

Unsurprisingly, these undemocratic, unconstitutional acts have not helped defeat the terrorist threat, but have exacerbated it.

Killing or capturing bin Laden immediately after 9/11 might have sent a strong message and severely disrupted the terrorist network.

Now, if we ever do get bin Laden, it will be four or more years too late.

It will be mere symbolism, as the terrorist ideology has already spread thanks to Bush’s neocon program.

Bush and the neocons deserve our deep disdain for putting their dangerous ideological desires ahead of taking care of immediate threats.

But let us not argue that bin Laden should be the be all and end all of a liberal counterterror strategy, simply because Bush has shamefully let him run free for so long.

Getting bin Laden, taking care of unfinished business, may be Step 1 in getting our counterterror strategy back on track, but it is far from steps 2-10.

Steps 2-10 involve junking the failing neocon game plan of phony democracy imposed by unilateral force, and replacing it with credible democracy and the eradication of poverty, fostered multilaterally.

That’s what will sap the Al Qaeda ideology of any rationale, depriving it of sympathy and support from the Arab/Muslim world.

Getting bin Laden’s symbolic scalp, without a substantive shift in foreign policy will be meaningless.

Of course, instead of delving into why the GOP strategy has failed us so, elements of the media are reinforcing the GOP-fed notion that liberals and Democrats are akin to Osama.

Chris Matthews sunk to a new low, saying Osama sounds like Michael Moore. (Calls for a public apology are mounting.)

And the GOP flaks in Scarborough Country are saying Dems are taking cues from Al Qaeda.

Perpetuating the perception that Dems and liberals are weak is what has kept Republicans in power when national security is believed to be on the line.

But it is not Democratic politicians, liberal bloggers, or portly filmmakers that have fed Al Qaeda’s growth.

It is the last five years of essentially unfettered Republican rule, breaking our military, wasting our resources, denying people’s freedom, undermining our moral authority.

Bush is not Osama, and Cheney is not Zarqawi. But they make us weaker by the day.

January 19, 2006 PERMALINK
Dems Make Their Stand on Ethics
Can They Draw A Bright Line Even Brighter?
(posted Jan. 19 1:45 AM ET)

On a Tuesday conference call with bloggers, Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid showed some spine and savvy, saying there was little point cutting deals with GOPers on ethics when they’re the source of the problem.

Instead, Reid said Dems would offer proposals that draw a “bright line” between the parties on fighting corruption, so the public could see the difference.

Yesterday’s rollout of the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act” certainly fulfilled that pledge in terms of political posture.

Tapped’s Sam Rosenfeld writes:

I thought the presentation itself was remarkably well done by their standards...

...Barack Obama and Louise Slaughter have been tapped as point people for the Dems on reform and ethics this year, and they're both well-suited to it.

Their speeches as well as Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's were all aggressive and politicized, replete with a nicely unsubtle recurring motif about Republicans and the mafia...

...The Dems are also taking pains to connect the corruption issue to bad legislative outcomes, particularly on energy and prescription drugs.

What about on the substance of the reform proposals? Is the bright line being drawn?

Somewhat. The Dem plan is certainly tougher, but not so much tougher that it pops off the page.

For example, the W. Post writes that the Dem proposals “closely mirror” but also “go further than the Republicans' proposals.”

And Reuters was worse, making the proposals seem identical:

...the Democrats' "Jack Abramoff Reform" proposal would ban lawmakers from accepting the kind of gifts, meals and travel the lobbyist showered on some Republicans. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, embraced such a ban on Tuesday.

Like Republicans, Democrats would end lawmakers-turned-lobbyists access to the House or Senate floor -- retiring lawmakers and senior aides would not be allowed to lobby for two years, double the current cooling-off period.

Part of the reason why the differences are not being played up more is the lukewarm reception the Dem plan received from government watchdog groups, which were looking for a better way to enforce ethics rules.

Their preferred solution -- an independent ethics commission that could launch its own investigations, but would still leave the House and Senate committees to determine penalties – may not sound like an iron-clad way to achieve clean government.

But it certainly couldn’t hurt, and if Dems threw them that bone, that might have produced stronger media coverage.

Others wanted Dems to go for the silver bullet, an overhaul of the system with public financing of campaigns.

Such a bold stroke would certainly draw a bright line.

It would also solve the problem that the W. Post flagged after the GOP “reform” package came down:

...even if [Speaker Dennis] Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

"That's a big hole if they don't address campaign finance," said Joel Jankowsky, the lobbying chief of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld...

Reid was asked about that loophole on PBS’s Newshour last night:

JIM LEHRER: What about the fundraising loophole ... Are you going to do something about that?

REID: You know, Fritz Hollings, who is no longer in Congress ... He has been proposing for years a constitutional amendment so that we can put a lot of strong restrictions on campaign financing.

And we need to do that.

Again, we need to get Republicans to help us with that...

....But the main obstacle at this time is that the courts have struck down a lot of things we have done, and we need to do it with a constitutional amendment...

... Right now, constitutionally, we can't do it.

But why not go bold and propose the constitutional amendment?

Sure, you would need Republicans to pass a constitutional amendment in the Senate, but that’s not the point right now.

The point is to draw that bright line.

No doubt it took Reid and Pelosi considerable time to get their fractured caucus to agree on yesterday’s reform proposal.

And it would take more time to craft consensus wording for an amendment.

But that’s not necessarily a negative, since we have time.

Dems are trying to sustain a “culture of corruption” narrative over the course of a year -- a tricky thing to do because you need a stream of fresh news to which to link your narrative.

A constitutional amendment, fully backed by the party, potentially knocking John McCain of his campaign finance leadership perch, could generate quite a bit of news a few months down the road.

January 18, 2006 PERMALINK
Meet The New O'Connor
(posted Jan. 18 1:30 AM ET)

Yesterday’s 6-3 ruling smacking down John Ashcroft’s attempt to squelch Oregon’s doctor-assisted suicide law was a reminder that the conservative movement doesn’t fully own the Supreme Court.

At least, not quite yet.

John Roberts put to rest foolishly wishful notions that he would be a non-ideological pragmatist, joining judicial activists Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in saying Ashcroft did not need Congress to pass a federal law banning assisted suicide for him to arbitrarily deny the will of Oregon voters.

(Roberts conned Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to vote for him by, at least in part, insinuating he would be supportive of the Oregon law. Newsflash: right-wing nominees lie, ‘cause that’s the only way they get confirmed.)

You can bet that if Robert Bork groupie Sam Alito was on the bench, it would have been a 5-4 majority for the Oregon law, instead of 6-3.

But the fringe fundamentalist leaders who oppose assisted suicide still would have lost, because the hard-right wing of the Court can rely less and less on Anthony Kennedy -- the man who replaced the defeated Bork.

As the W. Post reported last July, at the end of the ‘04-’05 Supreme Court term:

...not only did [Kennedy] desert the conservative camp on crucial issues, he did so in spite of his past votes and writings on the court, which suggested that he might have come out the other way each time.

"What's up with Justice Kennedy?" [said] Boston University law professor Randy Barnett ... "He's clearly crossed some kind of a Rubicon. That's the big news of this term."

With four hard-right justices, and four moderate-left justices, Kennedy may further distance himself from the Right to establish himself as the lone fulcrum of the Court, a job he apparently wants.

In the book “The Accidental President” about the 2000 election, author David Kaplan wrote:

...Kennedy seemed to play the part of Court sad sack.

It wasn’t so much his droopy demeanor on the bench as that privately he bristled that it was O’Connor who was always described as “the Court’s most influential member.”

In a 5-4 ruling, as so many were, why wasn’t he just as decisive?

This is the classic right-wing nightmare script: conservative judge “evolves” on the bench under the pernicious influence of the liberal intellectual elite.

Which is why there have been calls on the Right to impeach Kennedy.

Still, this is not exactly a reason to celebrate, or even relax.

Just as O’Connor, a major shill for the corporate lobby, should not be excessively lauded as moderate, Kennedy should not be considered a reliable defender of democracy and equality because he nobly broke ranks to protect gay rights and stop executions of juveniles.

For example, a Vanity Fair expose that found Bush v. Gore came down to Kennedy’s vote, reported:

There were two more extraordinary passages [in the opinion]:

[F]irst, that the ruling applied to Bush and Bush alone, lest anyone think the Court was expanding the reach of the equal-protection clause;

[A]nd, second, that the Court had taken the case only very reluctantly and out of necessity.

“That infuriated us,” one liberal clerk recalls. “It was typical Kennedy bullshit, aggrandizing the power of the Court while ostensibly wringing his hands about it.”

To have our rights and liberties depend on the whims of one individual -- who is still more conservative than not -- is not the healthiest situation.

We still need to fight for a Court that can be fully trusted to secure our basic rights, and not to be in the pocket of crony corporations and fringe fundamentalists.

But if O’Connor’s departure and the hard-right wing’s expansion prompts Kennedy to swing more, it does buy us some time before the Court is fully in the hands of a youthful right-wing brigade, that will block liberal legislation for decades, no matter how well we do at the ballot box.

The moderate-liberal wing is considerably older than the hard-right wing. It is quite plausible we will have one or more Supreme Court battles before Bush is out of office.

So just because Kennedy may buy us some time, that is not much help if we waste that time sitting on our hands.

We need to use the time and do a better job of communicating to the public what is at stake.

We need sharp arguments at the ready, so we are not scrambling and fumbling for messages just before the next Judiciary Committee hearing.

Following Roberts’ confirmation and Alito’s expected confirmation, it is clear that the conservative movement game plan is working. They have the momentum.

But Scalia was unanimously confirmed just a year before Bork was stopped.

Momentum can turn, if lessons are learned and adjustments are made.

January 17, 2006 PERMALINK
More Proof Warrantless Wiretaps Don't Work
(posted Jan. 17 1:15 AM ET)

Yesterday on CNN, leading neocon Frank Gaffney reacted to Al Gore’s speech:

Well, I agree with the vice president on one point. I think the constitution is at threat.

I happen to disagree with the source of the threat.

My belief is that it is a threat that emanates most immediately from a totalitarian political ideology. I call it Islamo-fascism...

...And frankly, it's getting some help from American civil liberties lawyers who think that they're protecting the rights of some of the people...

...The president has used, I believe, authority that is invested in him, carefully, and in a discrimnant fashion to try to protect us against those sorts of threats.

And I think the vast majority of the American people understand not only is that the right thing to have done, a reasonable, sensible, legal thing to have done, but to have done otherwise ...would have been to lead this country very much more vulnerable to attack.

Last month, LiberalOasis wrote in response to the Bush Administration:

If warrantless wiretaps are so great, then why is a low-level guy like [Iyman] Faris the only guy in America you caught because of them?

And might it be that the reason why so many people “have been swept into U.S. counterterrorism investigations by chance” is because of your illegal disregard for checks and balances?

Who’s right about the effectiveness of warrantless wiretaps and unchecked presidential power? Gaffney or LiberalOasis?

Let’s see what the FBI has to say, according to today’s NY Times:

More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau.

"After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

...

[FBI officials were] concerned about the quality and quantity of the material, which produced "mountains of paperwork" often more like raw data than conventional investigative leads.

"It affected the F.B.I. in the sense that they had to devote so many resources to tracking every single one of these leads, and, in my experience, they were all dry leads," the former senior prosecutor said.

...

By the administration's account, the N.S.A. eavesdropping helped lead investigators to Iyman Faris, [who] spoke of toppling the Brooklyn Bridge by taking a torch to its suspension cables, but concluded that it would not work...

But ... some officials with direct knowledge of the Faris case dispute that the N.S.A. information played a significant role.

So, as TalkLeft put it, the warrantless wiretap program “is a flop.”

It is not the checks and balances designed by our Founders that hinder counterterrorism operations.

It is unchecked, unbalanced presidential power that leads our Administration not only to undermine our nation’s moral authority, but also to waste time and resources going after the wrong people.

We need a strong, moral and effective government effort to truly defeat the terrorist threat.

Our long-standing system of checks and balances would provide that. The right-wing unitary executive does not.

This goes beyond the law enforcement component of the counterterror effort. It also speaks to the larger neocon foreign policy vision.

As Gore said yesterday:

This effort to rework America's carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all-powerful executive branch, with a subservient Congress and subservient judiciary, is ... accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish a form of dominance in the world.

The common denominator seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.

QUICK HIT

The Bizarro World of 1987

From the 9/28/87 NY Times:

... with considerable success, the Democrats who control the judiciary committee carefully structured the scheduling of witnesses and gave selective emphasis to Judge Bork's published views, in an effort to dominate the news and appeal to undecided senators and the constituencies on which they depend...

... Liberal groups, who organized early and worked hard, have produced a blizzard of memorandums and studies focusing attention on the nominee's most controversial statements. The counterpunches from pro-Bork lobbyists were too little and too late to have as much effect...

...The strategic advantage that Democratic control of committee procedures gave to opponents was augmented by sometimes counterproductive efforts of Republican Senators to discredit witnesses who testified against him.

For example, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah ... and others kept prominent and articulate anti-Bork witnesses on the stand for hours with sometimes fumbling cross-examinations.

Pro-Bork witnesses, some grumbling privately that the pro-Bork senators were hurting their own cause, waited deep into the twilight hours to testify.

January 16, 2006 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Jan. 16 1 AM ET)

The Senate Dems effectively, and nonsensically, threw in the towel on the Alito nomination yesterday.

Following the Sunday NY Times front-pager on Dem defeatism, Sen. Dianne Feinstein went on CBS’ Face The Nation and said that despite her own probable “No” vote:

I do not see a likelihood of a filibuster ... This might be a man I disagree with, but it doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court.

Meanwhile, on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer had more negative things (some) to say about “left-wing groups” than he did about Alito (none).

While this amounts to nothing short of a spineless cave-in, the seeds of this failure were sown months ago.

It's easy to forget that there were seeds of success planted years ago.

It's even easier to forget that Tom Daschle planted them.

(flashback begins)

Fightin’ Daschle

As The Nation reported in 2003:

Senate Democrats, who were so divided on the war and tax cuts, are holding together impressively to stop the Worst of the Worst of President Bush's judicial nominees.

Filibusters against Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen have prevailed, and every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee recently voted against Carolyn Kuhl, setting up another likely filibuster...

... Daschle has made the rejection of extremist judges a test of his leadership.

Before the filibuster began against Estrada, Daschle told his conference[:]

"We are in this through the tenth cloture vote and the twentieth cloture vote," signaling he would resign as leader if there were defections in the midst of battle.

Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice ... credits the tenacity of Daschle, along with Charles Schumer, Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy, with making the filibuster strategy work.

"Schumer is a tiger," she says. "There is leadership here."

These judicial fights are in effect spring training for the coming battle over [the] Supreme Court...

...The Democrats are sending Bush the message -- in neon -- that they have sufficient cohesion to stop any nominees in the image of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia.

Spring training went well at first. Every nominee Daschle marked was blocked.

Then, Daschle lost his own Senate seat.

Longtime political reporter David Kranz of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader said Daschle lost because “voters said he was getting too big for his britches,” buying a $1.9M home in Washington and once calling himself a “D.C resident.”

But it did not serve the conservative movement's interests if the lesson Dem Senators took from the loss was to buy smaller houses.

So they aggressively spun the loss as being the result of Daschle’s filibusters of lower court nominees, threatening “red state” Dems to roll over for Bush or suffer Daschle’s fate.

The Gang of 14 Backstab

New minority leader Harry Reid was not cowed at first.

He kept up the filibuster strategy, and crafted a strategy to effectively shut down the Senate if GOPers stopped the filibusters with the nuclear option.

But the GOP spin of the Daschle loss suckered enough “red state” Dems to undercut Reid and break the party’s cohesion.

The Gang of 14 was born, “preserving” the filibuster at the expense of letting most of the extremist lower court nominees go through.

Reid, along with many other Dems, then made a massive mistake: he praised the deal.

In doing so, he signaled that the party cared more about Senate procedure than the direction of the courts.

And so, there wasn’t much talk about how a right-wing judiciary would harm Americans. The principles got lost.

Further, the Gang of 14 deal, turned "filibuster" into a dirty word, an icky thing only to be suffered in “extraordinary circumstances.”

Ever since that point, Dems have run away from the word (despite employing two successful filibusters last month).

And if you can’t bring yourself to simply threaten a filibuster, it’s awfully hard to actually wage one.

The John Roberts Wimp Out

Party cohesion on judges was now gone. Daschle’s spring training was rendered useless. There were no clearly stated principles guiding a strategy.

So once John Roberts came before the Senate, nobody knew what to do – not Senators, not civil rights activists, not bloggers.

Instead of sparking a confrontation that would illuminate Democratic principles about the judiciary – including the need for nominees to answer questions – Dems rolled. By default.

Many insisted ducking a fight was smart strategy: you got to save your political capital, you can’t fight every nominee, we’ll fight harder when the swing seat is on the line.

Wrong.

By failing to fight Roberts, Dems and liberals failed to lay down their principles, to show what drives their efforts to protect the judiciary, to explain how their principles are on the side of most Americans.

So Roberts skated, and the Right smelled blood.

The Final Failure

The Right tossed Harriet Miers aside, sensing an opportunity to thrust a relatively unabashed right-winger on a fractured and fearful Dem caucus.

It was a gamble. Alito was overtly conservative enough to get liberal activists moving far earlier the process than with Roberts.

And his record was bad enough to get some Dem Senators to drop a few markers in advance of the hearing.

For example, Feinstein said that Alito’s views on abortion would be enough to prompt a filibuster, and Schumer said “stonewalling” Senators’ questions could “jeopardize his nomination.

But these were isolated incidents. Not coordinated strategy.

Because Dem principles were not consistently articulated and understood throughout the caucus, the questioning at the hearing was poorly coordinated and unevenly executed.

That made it easier for the media to mock Senators, get distracted by the tears of Alito's wife, and ignore Alito's record.

And because Dems did not clearly establish at the Roberts hearings that evasion is unacceptable, they were unable to muster up the will to hold Alito to a higher standard.

In turn, evasion was treated as successful strategy – by both Dems and the media.

And Feinstein’s and Schumer’s pre-hearing threats were exposed as empty.

Granted, failure to articulate principles yesterday doesn’t preclude a party and its grassroots from articulating them today.

It just makes it harder.

You’re starting a game plan from scratch instead of executing a long-term strategy.

You’re making a complicated multi-issue case in a short timeframe, instead of over the course of months and years.

There was enough ammo from the Alito hearings, his writings, and his rulings to start what should have began months ago.

But you had to work for it.

You couldn’t sit back and expect opposition to Alito to magically be stirred. You have to stir it yourself.

Apparently, the current lot of fossilized Dem Senators have forgotten how to do that.

Since another Supreme Court battle is always around the corner, they either need to figure it out, or move aside for some new blood, for us to have any chance of stopping the bleeding that is being inflicted on the Court.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Huffington Post's Paul Loeb: "The wink-and-nod games of the hearings were designed to obscure Alito's record and frame him as genial and reasonable. If the Democrats accept this, or even quietly vote against him without further protest, they further the lie that this is an ordinary nomination in an ordinary time."

Independent Court: New Ad Hits Alito's Record; Save The Court: Donate to keep this ad on the air

Nomination Watch: What will happen if the Alito nomination is defeated?

Daily Kos: "The burden was on him to explain his record. And he didn't. Because there's no explaining away the fact that he believes the government can do whatever the hell it wants when it comes to stripping of our rights. To succeed in these hearings, Alito had to counter record, and he didn't."

The Forward's Erwin Chemerinsky: "The Senate should reject Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court because of his almost certain impact in undermining basic constitutional protections. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this nomination for the immediate future of constitutional law in the United States."

Legal Momentum: Alito vs. O'Connor

Think Progress: List of Alito “Murder Board” Participants; Includes Lawyers Who Approved Warrantless Surveillance

My Left Nutmeg: Lieberman says filibuster of Alito on the table

Judiciary Committee, Minority Staff: Fact Check: Judge Alito and Presidential Power

TalkLeft: "consider this, from Time Magazine Wednesday night: 'The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews..."'"

Huffington Post's Max Blumenthal: Alito witness Peter Kirsanow told Arabs and Muslims to "forget about civil rights"

Shakespeare's Sister: Judge Memento

Feministe: "Alito seems to be searching for a way to get rid of Roe without shaking its popular predecessors. That is not a good sign." (more at Lawyers, Guns and Money)

The American Street: Sam The Sham

The Republican Majority for Choice regrettably announces its opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Glenn Greenwald: "Alito, in 1988, did not just say that he supported Bork’s nomination, but also made clear that Bork was his ideal for what a Supreme Court Justice ought to be ... That is extraordinary praise for someone who was judged too radical to serve on the Supreme Court."

Independent Court: Guess who else had a "open mind" on abortion? Clarence Thomas. That is, until he got confirmed.

Daily Kos: "Say Anything Sammy" tries to pretend he didn't know Bork's views when he called him " one of the most outstanding nominees of this century."

Culture Kitchen: Chuck Schumer "nailed him and he won't answer the [abortion] question."

Rude Pundit: "On the Third Circuit Court, [Alito] had no problem forcing [other] lower court judges off cases where there was an appearance of bias" but insisted on hearing cases where he had conflicts

Echidne of the Snakes: "I'm worried about Alito's bad memory. How can he keep large amounts of judicial information in his mind if he has trouble remembering the events of his own life?"

Daily Kos: What A "Unitary Executive" Means - President As King

firedoglake: "short summaries ... for those who don't have access to the hearings this morning ..."

Think Progress: Alito Hides His Plan To Push Executive Immunity In Wiretapping

blackprof.com: Alito on CAP: "Is this all they could come up with in Judge Alito's prep sessions at the White House?"

Lawyers, Guns and Money: 2 Ways To Skin A Precedent

AmericaBlog: Americans aren't sold on Alito

Daily Kos: GOP witness' organization gave Alito "not qualified" rating

Save The Court: More shifting stories from Alito, this time on his membership in the anti-coed Concerned Alumni of Princeton

Balkinization: The Basic Case Against Alito ... In two broad areas especially, Alito promises to be a dangerous servant of the [right-wing Republican] agenda ... Executive Power [and] Protections of the Vulnerable"

Media Matters has compiled the top myths and falsehoods advanced by conservatives and Alito supporters -- and often repeated in the mainstream media -- that effectively obscure his record and distort concerns and questions raised by his critics.

Micah L. Sifry: "Todd Purdum in the [NY Times] kicks off one of the press's favorite memes whenever ... corruption hits the front pages: 'But will things really change?' ... It's moments like these when you really see the corporate media reinforcing some very conservative assumptions about the role of government, and those of us who believe in government as a tool for good have to push back hard."

Nomination Watch: What to watch for in the Alito hearing next week

The Young Turks have a few words about Alito's and Bush's "unitary executive" theory (not work safe)

Just World News: "I don't agree ... that Sharon's exit from active political life will necessarily strengthen Israeli hardliners. As we saw last summer, a large majority of Jewish Israelis clearly supported the decision to pull the settlers out of Gaza, and there is also a clear majority who favor further significant Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. Israeli hardliners do have an advantage over the 'left' in terms of ideological/political clarity (aka rigidity), and some possible advantage in terms of organization. But if the leaders on the left can muster a clear and realistic approach to peacemaking then they have a good chance of being able to mobilize the country's many, many supporters of a decent and realistic approach to peacemaking."

Ha'aretz: "The collapse of Sharon's health leaves Israel in a strange situation: Vice Premier Ehud Olmert is heading a transitional government on the eve of elections. The ruling party, Kadima, has no institutions or organizational structure, and it is not clear how a replacement for Sharon will be chosen. The race for prime minister, which until Wednesday looked like Sharon's one-man show, is now open ... Israel is expecting a generation shift in its upper echelons, after five years of stability of the Sharon leadership. This was stability that the Israeli public liked, and, according to the polls, wanted to maintain."

Tapped: "Perhaps ... this will lead to the kind of victory by a Netanyahu-led Likud that Sharon tried to preempt ... This is obviously a sad day for Sharon’s family. But worse, it may herald hard times ahead for those Israelis hoping for reconciliation with their Palestinian neighbors and compatriots."

The Head Heeb: "Two weeks from now, Israel might still be in a three-way race between Avoda, Likud and an only-somewhat-weakened Kadima, or it might be facing an uncertain Peretz-Bibi battle with the center fading and political fragmentation returning with a vengeance."

JTA News: "Amir Peretz’s tenure as Labor leader started with a bang ... In the seven weeks since, however, it has been all downhill. The latest polls show Labor winning only 19 to 21 seats ... can Peretz’s free-fall be reversed?"

Independent Court releases anti-Alito ad; Save The Court and Supreme Court Watch release final research reports on Alito

Hotline On Call: Al Gore gives global warming presentation to Grover Norquist's Wednesday Meeting

The Democratic Party: Join The One Million Americans Who Have Rejected Samuel Alito

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