Tuesday, January 31, 2006


An interesting day of transitions today.

First and most importantly, today is Groundhog Day, and it coincides this year with the State of the Union speech. I find the confluence of these events quite an ironic juxtaposition; one involves a meaningless ritual in which the country looks to a creature of nearly no intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog.

Today is Alan Greenspan's last day on the job; he gives way to Ben Barnanke.

And on the day that Sam ScAlito is sworn in as the nation's 110th Supreme Court Justice, Coretta Scott King passes away.

As I watched the whip count for the cloture vote on C-Span yesterday afternoon, I was surprised and pleased that it showed 57 votes aye, 40 no (a 'no' vote for cloture, or ending debate on the nomination, being evidence of the strength of the opposition's prospects for filibuster). Only 41 votes were needed, and had cloture failed, the filibuster would have commenced, and the Republicans' nuke threats would have been called.

But that hope was dashed, as at least fifteen Senators abandoned their commitment, and the final vote was 72-25.

These are the Democrats who, despite furious activism, abandoned their party and voted yes on cloture:

Akaka -HA
Baucus -MT
Bingaman -NM
Conrad-one of the Dakotas
Dorgan-also a Dakota
Ben Nelson-NE
Bill Nelson-FL

As I watched the vote, I was struck again by the congeniality evidenced by the Senators. Lots of laughing, hand-shaking, back-slapping, and not among the Republicans but the Democrats. What is so funny, I kept thinking. And then I began to recall the words of the Senators who voted for cloture but said publicly that they thought it an exercise in futility: Joe Biden, chuckling with Don Imus -- well, ha ha, I already did my filibuster when I questioned Alito. We don't have a prayer of stopping him. I'll vote no on the first cloture vote, but it's really a waste of time ...

Barak Obama said to George Staphylococcus he'd vote no to cloture, but also said it was a waste of time. We really need to elect more Democrats ...blah, blah, blah. Thanks for the enthusiasm, Barak.

Jeff Bingaman: 20 minutes before the vote he tells us, through an aide, maybe he'll vote against cloture if we give him 2,000 calls in 20 minutes. He voted for cloture.

Mary Landrieu, who had us all crying for New Orleans, voted for cloture. See, this will focus attention on a relief package for New Orleans. Alito is a distraction. So much for a pro-choice woman that Emily's List endorses.

Robert Byrd, the respected constitutionalist; the man who carries a copy with him at all times, who rails against executive power and the surrender of Congressional war-making authority to an imperial Bush, votes yes on cloture to a Supreme Court nominee whose "unitary executive" theory gives a blank check to that same President to torture, wiretap, and hold Americans indefinitely and without charges because "it's wartime".

Maria Cantwell. The guru of Real Audio, the Internet personified, votes for cloture on a man who won't tell us if there's a constitutional right of privacy.

And the noble Tim Johnson and Byron Dorgan -- profiles in courage on the great plains.

Sean-Paul Kelley is outraged, calling them a "quivering, quavering, gelatinous mass of timorous toadies".

B & B is much more reserved.

Casual Soapbox breaks it down nicely.

Me? I think I'm through being mad about it, but the fight goes on. We've got to take not only our country back from the fascists but we've got to take the Democratic Party away from the quitters and cowards, and we must do so before it is too late for democracy, and for us all.

To that end, there's an interesting protest opportunity this evening.

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