so, this is what it feels like to be stabbed in the back

As my friend Brett’s giant robotic guardian would say, “I have a little bad news here.”

I was completely demoralized earlier this evening, in the wake of the 72-25 vote in favor of cloture, clearing the way for Alito’s ascension to the high court tomorrow. It wasn’t so much that we lost, as it was knowing that 18 Democrats betrayed us and voted in favor of ending the open debate on Alito. These Democrats, in spite of knowing that Alito was a bad choice for the Supreme Court, backed down from the fight. They had an opportunity to make the case as to why our vision for America is more compelling than the one presented by Bush and Alito, and instead they chose to play along and do what was more politically expedient. It’s a sad day.

In the car, on my way home from work, I was trying to remember where my official Democratic Party membership card was so that I could tear it up. I was going to rip it to shreds, scan it, and put the image up on the site without any words. I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate the actions of our gutless Democratic leaders, like Joe Lieberman, who this afternoon showed us what they were really made of.

In case you’re interested, these are the 18 Senators who voted to cut the debate short this afternoon: Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Dorgan (ND), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO).

My second idea for tonight’s post, after getting home and realizing that I didn’t know where my DNC card was, was to post an image of a box, Joe Lieberman’s address, and a passionate plea for people NOT to give into temptation and send him boxes brimming with excrement. (I decided to watch “24” instead.)

A glass or two of wine later, I realized that a better way to get back at Lieberman would probably be to sign on to support Ned Lamont in his gambit to take-on Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primaries… And the same goes for rest of the “Gang of 18.” They may have bought some points with the Republicans in their districts by pushing Alito through, but my guess is that quite a few of them did so to their detriment. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of really heated Democratic primaries, with the Democratic base (or as Howard Dean would say, “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party”) supporting challengers who promise to defend those things we believe in, like the protection of individual liberty.

And, now that I’ve read a few optimistic posts here and there about how I shouldn’t give up in the face of today’s defeat, I feel a little less like pooping in boxes and ripping up any evidence of the fact that I ever called myself a Democrat.

It was perhaps irrational to think that we could ever pull it off, but, in the back of my mind, I had this idea that something truly historic would happen today. I thought that maybe, just maybe, a groundswell would sweep through America and people, confronted by the prospect of a court stacked with the likes of Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito, might begin to push back. I thought that maybe people would begin to snap out of their post-911 comas and see what was going on around them. I know it was na

Posted in Special Projects | 7 Comments

how much should i pay the babysitter?

Does anyone know the going rate for 16 year-old babysitter in southeast Michigan? I’m going to be leaving Clementine with a friend’s daughter tomorrow for a couple of hours while I’m in a meeting, and I’m not sure how much money I should get out of the bank. Would I be close if I said, twice minimum-wage and then round the total up to the closest $5 multiple, or is that way off? Seriously, we’ve never left her with anyone that we’ve had to pay before, and I have no idea how stuff like that works. The closest thing I have any familiarity with is leaving the dog at the kennel when we’re out of town.

Posted in Mark's Life | 252 Comments

the brits know talent when they see it

A reviewer in England, just had this to say about the new Monkey Power Trio record:

…After some difficulty, the Monkey Power Trio have released the record from their 2004 session, and it’s their best yet.

Their tenth release, ‘Spiders in the Blood Supply’, still has the chaotic charm of their previous releases, but the quality of the songs has come on in leaps and bounds.

The band only plays together for one day a year, and records a session to be released as a 7″. This means that the Monkey Power Trio are almost like a band developing in slow motion, steadily improving with each record. Over the course of their records they have written some truly great songs, but none of their records have been as consistently great as this one…

I don’t usually like to post positive reviews of my stuff here, as I think it comes across as “smug and pretentious,” but I needed to break up all the terrible, depressing shit that I’ve been posting lately with something positive… If you’d like to listen to all the new songs and review them negatively in the comments section, have at it. All the tracks are available for free at our site. (I thrive on criticism. My tears make me grow. I am lik a plant.)

Posted in Monkey Power Trio | 11 Comments

do the democrats have spine enough to fight for what they claim to believe in?

Tomorrow is the day we see what the Democrats we’ve elected to serve in the Senate are made of. As you probably know, late last week Senators Kerry and Kennedy announced that they would be pushing for a filibuster against Samuel Alito, Bush’s second Supreme Court nominee for the spot being vacated by Sandra Day O’Connor. (His first nominee, Harriet Miers, didn’t satisfy the extreme religious right of the Republican party, so Bush withdrew her name and gave them what they demanded — Samuel Alito.) The question is, who will join Kerry and Kennedy, and who will, instead, choose to take the way that might prove less troublesome come reelection time (when those supporting the filibuster will no doubt be portrayed by Republicans as partisan obstructionists).

(If you haven’t done so already, you can reach the offices of your Senators at either of the following two toll-free numbers:

(888)355-3588 or (888)818-6641

The switchboards will probably be swamped on Monday, so be prepared to call a few times before getting through. When you do get though to the Senate switchboard, just ask for the office of either of your two Senators. (Every state has two, and, if you don’t know the names of yours, you can find a list here.) Once you get through to their office, you’ll get a young staffer on the line and you just have to let them know that you’re a constituent of the Senator’s and that you would like him, or her, to vote “no” on the Alito confirmation. And, unless your Senator’s on the far right, you could also ask that he or she consider joining the filibuster… You never know – if the public sentiment seems to be turning, a moderate Republican or two might decide to cross the aisle.)

The last that I heard, we probably only had 37 of the necessary 40 Senators that we’d need to make a filibuster successful, so your calls are absolutely essential. Please, even if you’ve never voted before in your life, take a few minutes to make these calls. Trust me — you’ll feel better having done something.

OK, instead of printing my own little rant here about the Democrats who have indicated that they will not be supporting a filibuster, I thought that I’d just cut-and-paste something posted by blogger David Neiwert a few days ago. Here’s what he had to say (and it goes double for me):

…I broke my longstanding policy of not donating money to political parties last fall when the folks from the DNC called and asked for money to help gird them for the upcoming fights over judicial seats. I was assured that indeed they would fight to keep right-wing extremists off the Supreme Court.

And now, faced with a clear-cut extremist (and dissembler) who is about to not only overturn the right to obtain an abortion, but also to pave the path for an imperial executive branch with limitless powers … nothing.

I’m not terribly inclined, as my readers know, to use profanity in my posts. But if the Democratic Party wants any more of my money, they can just go fuck themselves…

In defense of the Democrats, a few things have changed since then. Howard Dean, as I understand it, has come out in support of the filibuster, as has Barack Obama, who the day before had said that he would not support the move… I haven’t confirmed it yet, but according to a poster at the Daily Kos site, Senator Obama told George Stephanopoulos this morning that he would be reluctantly supporting Kerry and Kennedy, even though it ultimately would fail. According to this source, Obama “said he opposed ‘procedural maneuvers’ and wished Democrats had framed the substantive issues better,” which pissed me the fuck off. I had a lot of faith in Obama when he started in the job, but I’m losing a little bit more every day… And, if the Democrats didn’t frame the substantive issues well, then why in the hell didn’t he get in there and offer a solution?

Here, by way of background is a clip from the CNN article I linked to at the beginning of the post. It should help explain what’s taking place these next few days, procedurally speaking.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist filed a motion to cut off debate on the Alito nomination after his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Harry Reid, objected to a move by GOP leaders to schedule a final vote on his confirmation Monday afternoon.

Frist’s motion, which requires 60 votes under Senate rules, will come up for a vote at 4:30 p.m. Monday. If successful, senators will then vote on Alito’s nomination at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with a simple majority of 51 votes needed for approval.

So, Obama might be right, and we may never have the votes to make it work, but we can’t not at least try to stand up for what we believe in. Alito is the wrong man for the Supreme Court, and we’re right to be fighting it, even if it’s probable that we’ll get our asses kicked. (To quote the President, “Bring ’em on.”)

Here’s a clip from a recent New York Times editorial:

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public’s attention to the import of this nomination…. A filibuster is a radical tool. It’s easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court….

The judge — who long maintained that Roe v. Wade should be overturned — ignored all the efforts by the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Arlen Specter, to get him to provide some cover for pro-choice senators who wanted to support the nomination. As it stands, it is indefensible for Mr. Specter or any other senator who has promised constituents to protect a woman’s right to an abortion to turn around and hand Judge Alito a potent vote to undermine or even end it.

And I didn’t say it before, but if you live in Pennsylvania, please call Senator Specter and remind him that you elected him to protect the Constitution and a woman’s right to choose. He knows that this nomination is wrong, and maybe if he hears from enough of his constituents, he’ll have the balls to stand up to the Republican machine and vote against Alito.

OK, that’s all I have time for right now… Let’s grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground tomorrow. Let’s fight. And let’s take advantage of the fact that the President will be delivering the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Let’s keep pushing until we get the filibuster, and then let’s make the President’s speech be about Alito instead of about all the other bullshit he wanted it to be about. Let him introduce the controversy to the American people, who haven’t been paying attention, and then, when he’s done, let’s be ready to lay out our case against Alito in a unified voice. (Speaking of the State of the Union, I wanted to mention that the folks at Think Progress have something special planned.) I know that the Democrats have already announced who they are planning to have give the official rebuttal on Tuesday night, but if we make headway with the filibuster, I wonder if it would be possible to make a change. I’m thinking, for instance, that it might make more sense to have a female Senator (not Hillary) deliver a speech about a woman’s fundamental right to decide for herself what happens to her body, and how Supreme Court Justice Alito would take that right away. We can win this thing. It’s a longshot, but I’m confident that a majority of Americans don’t want a radical judicial activist on the bench, especially one that would increase the power of the Executive, and lessen the freedom of the individual. This is something we should be anxious to fight for. This is our opportunity to clearly lay out the differences between us and them.

(There are, of course, those who make a strong case against the filibuster.)

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

let’s call it “climate change” – it sounds better

In an incredible speech delivered on January 16, Al Gore, while making the case for the impeachment of our President, mentioned that the Bush administration was essentially keeping the lead NASA scientist dealing with the issue of global warning under something like house-arrest. According to Gore, NASA ordered this unnamed scientist to curtail his public speaking and start keeping a log of everyone that he’s spoken with. Today’s New York Times identifies the man as Dr. James Hansen, a physicist who has been with the space agency for nearly 30 years, and now directs their efforts to create global warming computer simulations. Apparently, the crackdown on Dr. Hansen came after he gave a lecture last month “calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.” I suppose it’s not much of a surprise that the administration would try to keep facts, like those uncovered by Dr. Hansen, under wraps, but you would have thought that maybe they would have learned at least one thing from the whole Iraq experience — that you can’t hide from the truth forever.

Posted in Alternative Energy | 4 Comments


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