Complicity Doesn't "Keep Your Powder Dry"

Obviously, the triangle Peter Daou spoke of in his latest article is a long way from being closed:Yesterday Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Schumer polled the room and the overwhelming majority supported voting for Roberts as a way of keeping our powder dry.

You would think that after the war vote democrats would have learned something, but apparently not. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but it seems obvious to me that it is impossible to be complicit with governing Republicans when something passes into law, and then try to gain political traction by "opposing" that something later on. If Democrats are unhappy with, but vote for, a stealth nominee with a miniscule record of actual rulings, who refused to answer any questions during his hearings, and who claims that everything he wrote and did in the past reflected the views of his clients and bosses rather than his own views, then how are they ever going to oppose these characteristics in any nominee in the future? If Democrats vote for Roberts, they will make it clear that they sanction the Bush administration to propose someone for O'Conner's seat who also doesn't have to have an actual record, and who also doesn't have to answer questions. Thus, the only way they could ever actually prevent a slew of new Scalia's is if the nominees are nice enough to tell them that they are going to be like Scalia. I can see the next hearings now:Democratic Senator: Are you going to be like Scalia?

Loved by the Right Nominee: I'm not going to answer that.

Democratic Senator: OK. But could you at least tell me your name? Loved by the Right Nominee: I'm not going to answer that.

Democratic Senator: OK. I'll vote to confirm.

Complicity doesn't keep your powder dry--it deprives you of power entirely. Since 2002, there has been few things more frustrating and empty sounding than Democrats who favored the war going on about how the war was a good idea and we should continue it, but Bush conducted the war badly because he didn't bring in our allies, because our humvees don't have enough armor, because the intelligence was bad, or because firehouses are opening in Baghdad while they are closing in America. Have such statements influenced anyone when they come form people who support the war? Do such statements represent anyone? Consistently, according the trend-lines in the CBS poll currently up at the top of the Iraq section of polling report, only around 5-10% of the population thinks the war was a good idea but disapproves of Bush's handling of the war.

And now we are faced with a caucus that wants to use that same tactic to win over that same 5-10% of the population? I have got news for you fellas--that will not be enough of a swing in popular support to block a future Scalia or Thomas. If you vote for Roberts, you condone the way he didn't answer anything in these hearings, and you condone the way he passed off everything he did in the past as the views of his clients or superiors. Doing this will make it impossible to block any future nominee who either does not already have a long record of rulings, or who does not willing comply with your questions. Of course, since you will also be endorsing a nominee who has a small history of rulings and who did not comply with your questions, well, hard to imagine how that will change either.

So yeah, keep your powder dry. Keep it dry by locking it in a chest and and burying it underground. Forget where you buried it, and sell your only map of its location to James Dobson. Then go on Fox and tell your opponents that you are unarmed and helpless. Don't forget to tell them where you live, and where you hide all your valuables. A vote for Roberts will do just that.

Tags: Judges (all tags)



David Mamet For Senate--From ANYWHERE!
Good Grief!  No brains, no spine, and no men left on base!

Poker party
In politics as in poker, the only way to win is to seize the initiative. The Democrats need to make bold wagers or risk being rolled over again.
By David Mamet

September 16, 2005

ONE NEEDS TO know but three words to play poker: call, raise or fold.

Fold means keep the money, I'm out of the hand; call means to match your opponents' bet. That leaves raise, which is the only way to win at poker. The raiser puts his opponent on the defensive, seizing the initiative. Initiative is only important if one wants to win.

The military axiom is "he who imposes the terms of the battle imposes the terms of the peace." The gambling equivalent is: "Don't call unless you could raise"; that is, to merely match one's opponent's bet is effective only if it makes the opponent question the caller's motives. And that can only occur if the caller has acted aggressively enough in the past to cause his opponents to wonder if the mere call is a ruse de guerre.

If you are branded as passive, the table will roll right over you -- your opponents will steal antes without fear. Why? Because the addicted caller has never exhibited what, in the wider world, is known as courage.

In poker, one must have courage: the courage to bet, to back one's convictions, one's intuitions, one's understanding. There can be no victory without courage. The successful player must be willing to wager on likelihoods. Should he wait for absolutely risk-free certainty, he will win nothing, regardless of the cards he is dealt.

The whole magilla.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-09-19 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: David Mamet For Senate--From ANYWHERE!
We Democrats have the fold part down pat.    Our Congressional leaders would fold on a straight flush if the Republicans put any money in the pot. I would make the bold statement that we are the world's leaders at folding.
by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 02:16PM | 0 recs
Crying Wolf
Roberts is more qualified than any Justice to sit on the Court in a long time, and is replacining a hard-right conservative.  Even if he IS a hard-right conservative, it doesn't change the dynamic of the Court.  If the Democrats oppose him on the basis of ideology alone, they look foolish.  

Voters have a chance every four years to affect the ideology of Supreme Court nominees.  In 2004 they knew Bush wasn't going to nominate Ted Kennedy to the SC, he would nominate conservatives.  And they still ended up reelecting Bush by a larger margin than last time, as well as sending larger Republican majorities to both houses of Congress.

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Crying Wolf
Yea, and I think it was the Republican's promise to further stack the federal courts against working people that turned the tide in their favor.  Not.

And in what way is Roberts "more qualified than any Justice to sit on the Court in a long time. . .."  By every standard I can think of, Robert Bork was more qualified then Roberts.  He was as smart or smarter.  I am almost positive that he was a federal apellate judge for much longer, and Bork was in the DC Circuit, usually considered the best training ground for the Supreme Court.  Roberts is certainly smoother, "prettier," and better at concealing his true opinions, though I dont see how this makes him in any way qualified for the Court.  So, what do you mean by "better qualified."

by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Crying Wolf
Roberts started out as a Supreme Court clerk just out of college, held various positions in the Justice Department, and argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court, in addition to being a judge on the Court of Appeals the last two years.  He also has extensive private practice experience.  

I think being able to view the judicial system from such varied locations is a great asset.

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 02:32PM | 0 recs
Here's What Bothers Me
Before I vent, see below, let me say I agree with every word of the main post.  Im not sure just what the Democrats are going to keep their powder dry for.  Perhaps they are waiting for Bush to nominate an outright racist.  Perhaps then they would be willing to oppose a person he nominates.  Even that might be giving them too much credit.  The Senate Dems may be afraid to piss off the "outright racist vote."

What has really bothered me in the whole discussion by the Democratic professionals is any sense of just doing what is right.  If they really believe that the judicial confirmation process is a joke in that no real information needs to be provided by the potential nominee, then just say so.  I disagree, but at least that would be taking some position on principle.  On the other hand, if you believe as I do, that the Senate shoukd take its "advise and consent" role seiously, then you must oppose any nominee that refuses to provide information to permit a Senator to make an informed choice.

Moreover, if you believe that someone who opposes the use of the Commerce Clause as justification for governmental action, the very foundation of modern government, is within the mainstream of judicial thought, then by all means vote in favor of someone whose postion on this vital issue is unclear.  On the other hand, if you believe as I do, that anyone who rejects the use of the Commerce Clause in this manner is a judicial extremist who should not serve on any federal court, let alone our Highest Court, then a nominee must prove that he or she will uphold the Commerce Clause (and modern government) before such individual's nomination is approved.

All this "tooing and froing" over every issue trying to determine every political nuance before deciding how to vote is just killing the Democratic Party.  If we had half the political fortitude that the Republicans do, we would be in control of the White House and both branches of Congress.  

by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's What Bothers Me
Of course the Beltway Dems barely mentioned the Commerce Clause. "Nobody cares about that," they say.

But the Commerce Clause is at the heart of what the Democratic Party is supposed to be about. It allows the party program that protects the little guy against the big guy.

These confirmation hearings could have been all about protecting the little guy from the big wheels.

But nooooooh. They had to fritter it all away on stuff that gets no traction. The Beltway Dems never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The Party About Nothing.

by Mister Go 2005-09-19 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's What Bothers Me
Can we come up with a better name than the "Commerce Clause."  Am intrigued by what you said, about it being about what the Dems are all about.  Well, if so, we need some why of labeling that and not put people to sleep.  You know, just like the Estate Tax became the Death Tax... what would be a descriptive name for the Commerce Clause that Dems can site as a core Dem principle is you will?
by bedobe 2005-09-19 06:02PM | 0 recs
Dare I hope?
That this is laying the groundwork for the NEXT nominee, the one we all expect to be Little Scalia? With that one the "Nuclear Option" can be exercised and the Democratic Senators can legitimately say "Look, we're not just being obstructionists, we confirmed Roberts with no problem. But THIS guy, absolutely not." Just hoping.
by HeroMachine 2005-09-19 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Dare I hope?
Keep hoping, but I can't see the current flock of Democrats in the Senate doing anything. We have an administation at its lowest point in terms of public opinion. New corruption and questionable actions are uncovered every week. And all we get from the Dems is an occasional peep. They continually let Rove and company dictate how anything gets played.  
by blogus 2005-09-20 02:39AM | 0 recs
I know
how about if we poor water on our powder!
by pyrrho 2005-09-19 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
I say we burn that fucking powder -- I'm tired of elected Dems being spineless; however, I never thought that the ranks of the grassroots would be equally filled with the spineless-let's-keep-our-powder-dry crowd.

I'm so disappointed to so routinely run into the "let's keep our powder dry" argument, specially over at DailyKos.  Shit, the grassroots is supposed to be bold and "radical;" yet, even the Dem grassroots seems to be composed of beltway elites and consultants -- too afraid of alienating the crowd that pays no attention and, therefore, for ever remain undecided.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Hm, I guess I'm in the "powder dry" segment of the party but I'm nowhere near a "beltway elite" or consultant.  In fact, I live in Indiana and have a working class job.
by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Yet your analysis is closer to those elites than to your  geographical location.
by bedobe 2005-09-19 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
And if that shows anything, it's that there are those OTHER than "beltway elites" who share my views.

But we share those views and face catcalls about being "bad" Democrats because we dare disagree with the blogosphere on some issues.

For all the accusations of Republicans wanting a "small tent" party, you guys do a pretty good job of making that your goal for the Dem party.

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Don't worry, it's my experience that you're in good company -- it seem that the majority of people I've come across on the so called netroots agree with you... or at least are willing to be vocal about it.

I just think that it's extremely shortsighted and just more of the same.  If anything, one would think that Dems would be searching for a new direction on how to play politics; but, alas, their imagination seems to have run dry.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
I just don't think the Court is the place to play politics.  The Judiciary is supposed to be an apolitical entity, and the thought of "tell me how you're going to decide cases or I'll vote against you" frightens me.  It creates somewhat of a conflict of interest, really.

The role of the Senate isn't entirely clear on the issue.  Some interpret the "advice and consent" clause to mean simply the voting.  Others take it to mean the Senate gets to choose judges FOR the executive.  Most likely it lies somewhere in between.

The problem I have with blocking judges on ideology alone is that it legitimizes what the Republicans did in the '90s with Clinton's nominees.  Remember that they simply didn't vote on dozens of those nominees.  Like we more-progressive folks say about terrorism, you can't win by adopting their tactics.  I think the same is true for the battle over the courts.  To win a truly moral victory, you can't stoop to the Republican level.  If you do, you may win the battle, but you lose the moral ground you stand on.

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
See my reasoning below for a strong No Vote on Roberts.  As for not playing politics with the Courts, unfortunately, we no longer have that luxury -- Republicans have written the play book on modern politics, wherein everything is political.  It's about time we start playing, too.  Let's say that the goal is to restore some sense of the moral high ground; well, the only way to do that is by playing to win -- and Dems, with their let's keep our powder dry short term tactical game, are not playing to win... we've seen that... that's where we are.
by bedobe 2005-09-19 03:17PM | 0 recs
A No Vote does not block Roberts -- again, the filibuster is off the table.  A No vote means that Dems do not have confidence on a nominee that refused to tell the American people where he stands on so many of the most important issues affecting us today.  A No Vote simply means, Bush, next time send  us a candidate that will be more forthcoming with the American people.

No one is getting blocked by simply voting no.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
You say "The problem I have with blocking judges on ideology alone is that it legitimizes what the Republicans did in the '90s with Clinton's nominees.  Remember that they simply didn't vote on dozens of those nominees.  Like we more-progressive folks say about terrorism, you can't win by adopting their tactics.  I think the same is true for the battle over the courts.  To win a truly moral victory, you can't stoop to the Republican level.  If you do, you may win the battle, but you lose the moral ground you stand on."

I have two comments to this.  First, if the President is going to use ideology as a criteria, then Senators should be able to use the same criteria.  I agree that the President should get some deference when he/she choses a nominee.  But if the President is going to have ideological litmus tests, then there is nothing improper about Senators having them.  Second, I understand, and even appreciate, your position that Democrats should remain on a higher plane then Rs.  For the most part, I disagree. I think you have to play on the field as it exists.  To act too virtuously is to fight with one hand behind your back.  And doing so also has the disadvantage of encouraging Rs to think they can do more and more bad stuff as they never face the Dems adopting their tactics.  I am not saying I think the Dems should copy all immoral things Rs do.  For example, I would leave the racist appeals to them.  But on political tactics, I would fight fire with fire.  

Im not saying that you are "wrong."  But I do disagree.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
The problem with your analogy is the Republican congress had the votes to stop the nominees.  To be honest look at the appointments that did get through the process though.  They turned out great.  Look at Reagans appointments, what a mix of ideologies that turned out being.

The President gets to pick his nominees.  The President stated he wanted a Justice that will respect his position and not write law.  I have not heard one Senator disagree with this notion.  Use what ever litmus test you want, but the only way to win this argument (without throwing out democracy) is to win at the ballot box.

You don't have to be a neocon to think Robert's is a fine pick.  Anyone with that much respect for the law is not going to wildly change it to fit his personal agenda.  

I respect your energy; I just think it is misplaced.

by Classical Liberal 2005-09-19 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Im not trying to be "rude" when I say Im not positive of the specific points you are making.  I mention this because if I misrepresent your position, I dont mean to.

In your first paragraph your point seems to be that the voting behavior of a president's nominee tends to be unpredictable in that the judicial opinions of conservative presidents have, at times, been different then what one would expect.

I would agree to this to a certain extent.  Two of the most liberal members of the Warren Court were picked by Eisenhower, who said that his pick of Earl Warrent to be Chief Justice was "the damdest fool thing I ever did" or something to that effect.  

Yet, as I mentioned before, Roberts was deliberately silent on where he stood on the most basic principles of constitutional law.  The most important example for me is, as you might expect, is his view of the Commerce Clause.  My opinion is that this issue is so important that a nominee should not be deemed acceptable unless he or she states a position for the record.  Some things are too important to left up to chance.

In the second paragraph you seem to say that essentially the nomination is the President's to make and the only recourse is to defeat the President, or his/her successor, at the ballot box.  By this you seem to imply that a senator should never vote no, at least on the basis of the potential justice's ideology.  I just disagree.  I think some views are "beyond the pale."

In the final paragraph you refer to Roberts' respect for the law as a reason for voting for him.  What is your basis for believing that he has this type of respect?  Because Roberts says he does?  Honestly, I would agree with your position on Roberts if he had some paper trail, or some verifiable evidence showing that he is a "Harlan" type conservative, referring to the Justice Harlan that served in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, that dissented from many of the Warren Court's decisions but was considered by all sides to be a very fair minded and pricipled conservative.  However, there is nothing in the record to show that Roberts would be this type of justice.  Certainly, many conservative Republicans in the Senate and many of their allied conservative groups are supporting him because they view him more of a Scalia or Thomas type conservative.  

He should be opposed.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-20 04:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Andy, say for a moment Roberts DID answer questions--about the Commerce Clause, his position on the constitutionality of a woman's right to choose, etc.  I have the strongest feeling that even if he answered those questions, so many here would say "he's lying, he's lying," and have nothing to really back that up.

It's not only the "beltway politicians" who are members of the party of nothing.  It seems Democrats/Progressives are interested in tearing down and criticizing, but fail to promote a coherent alternative.  So I ask you this; Who would have been acceptable for Bush to nominate?  

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-20 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Below, in reply to Classical Liberal, I mention that Id support any "principled conservative." A conservative like John Harlan.  By way of background, Harlan opposed many of the great Warren Court opinions, so I disagree with him on ideology.  Yet, he was very principled, truly had institutional respect for the Court and supported stare decicis. I dont have the name of any specific person Id like to see him nominate, but I assume there are still some honorable conservatives in the judiciary.

Now, you may say that Roberts "said" all the right things that would demonstrate that he has the principles I am looking for.  But, he doesnt have any record at all to back it up. And just "saying" these things under oath is meaningless.  The things I mentioned are the judicial equivalent of supporting apple pie and motherhood.  Everyone says they are for them (what nominee is going to come out against having respect for the judiciary).

On the other hand, contrary to your assertion, if he would have said what he thought about the Commerce Clause or the right to privacy, I would have believed that because once having said it his position would have been "locked in."

by Andy Katz 2005-09-20 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: I know
Being "locked in" for a SC Justice doesn't mean much, seeing as they have life terms.  It would be easy for them to "lie" or like Kerry, "change their mind" about an issue later.

One of the key things he said over and over was that there IS a right to privacy in the Constitution.  That's something Rehnquist didn't believe, if I'm not mistaken.

by HoosierJosh 2005-09-20 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: I know
I don't think you are rude at all, I hope I have remained civil, in these blogs it is so easy to get overly critical.  Anyway here is my attempt to answer your post:

If you are interested in Roberts View of the commerce clause he wrote a dissent from the federal bench in the RANCHO VIEJO v NORTON GALE case.  He also spoke directly to it during the hearings several times.

From the answers Roberts gave at the hearings and his written dissent in RANCHO VIEJO v NORTON GALE it would seem to me that Roberts has decided to stay with the most recent years of president on the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Roberts seems to want to keep the power at the Federal level with congress where Rehnquist was working to move the power to the states as with the US v. Lopez case.  Being a limited power type of guy it goes against my nature to agree with the position, but that has been how the courts have treated this issue for the last 40 years.  

What exactly is your concern with the Interstate Commerce Clause and Roberts?

Taking over the Senate would do the trick as well.  I did not find anything Roberts has said to be beyond the pale.  By overstating this with a very bland pick like Roberts you take the meat out of your argument for the next justice to be confirmed.

I watched the hearings.  This guy sat in front of the committee and not once did he refer to any notes or get help from an aid.  He has a huge command of US law.  He could rattle off court cases like no one I have ever heard.  To my understanding he has paper trail.  

I haven't heard him characterized as a Scalia or Thomas type, but I could be wrong.   He seems like a very straight shooter.  This is how it will go: safe senators will vote no and senators in unsure states will vote yes.  

by Classical Liberal 2005-09-20 06:38AM | 0 recs
A Party About Nothing
The Beltway Dems are addicted to being the Party about Nothing. Dick Gephardt's and Tom Daschle's 2002 Election about Nothing worked so well they decided they had to repeat it in 2004 and now into infinity.

If they keep on keeping their powder dry, the stuff is going to decompose from disuse.

When Roberts votes to overturn environment, health, and safety laws, or Roe, they won't be able to say a thing about it. After all, they "kept their powder dry" and voted for him. Just like Kerry and voting for the Iraq War.

Hey guys, take a few risks on occasion. Sometimes you lose, but you know, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

by Mister Go 2005-09-19 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: A Party About Nothing
These are votes Rehnquist would have cast anyway!  Assuming he WOULD vote the way you predict, how does that change things?  The balance of the Court stays the same!
by HoosierJosh 2005-09-19 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: A Party About Nothing
It's not merely about the short term tactical gain, is about the long term advantage.  Moreover, there is such a thing as principle, specially when a party is in the total minority -- as Dems clearly are everywhere in DC.  One would think that with little else to loose, that the Dems could actually stand on principle and BEGIN to define what the party stands for.  However, no, they continue with their short term tactical game that's lost them every goddamn thing in DC.
by bedobe 2005-09-19 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: A Party About Nothing
It is about drawing a contrast and showing people an alternative.  That things don't always have to be this way.  maybe they'll remember that next election.  Maybe Bush won't nominate someone worse.  Either is better than just rolling over.
by Mimikatz 2005-09-19 03:53PM | 0 recs
What powder?
In case anyone has not noticed, the Republican Party wants Democrats destroyed. They will attempt to roll anything and everything over the Democrats. They want to see all democrats crushed under the wheels of the political juggernaut they have created.

Democrats should make them fight like hell for every inch of ground. Inflame their base and point out their wrongdoing at every opportunity. Do not think that this is politics as usual. You be wrong.

by leftofcenter 2005-09-19 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: What powder?
Other than perhaps Dean, not one Democratic leader seems to realize this. They just sit, watch and do nothing.
by blogus 2005-09-20 07:35AM | 0 recs
Dems: Vote No on Roberts!

Democrats must shore up their base and claim the title of an effective and vigorous opposition party. Accordingly, the best course at the moment is to begin making principled stances on high profile issues that can further a narrative describing what Dems believe in and stand for (ex., a) broadening the rights of Americans that have been historically marginalized; b) guarding domestic programs and the social well being; c) represented the little guy that cannot hire big time lawyers, like Roberts, to represent him before the Court). That narrative, at the moment, is set against the backdrop of a drowned New Orleans; which, as Dems in the Judiciary Committee have already cited, clearly illustrates the failures of Republican policies and of their administration of our government’s readiness and response.

With Roberts Dems have been given a perfect opportunity to describe the judge’s frequent refusal to answer forthrightly on so many issues, as unsatisfactory to the American people and that they -- the American people -- at a time of such political polarization, where the Court has, of recent, very narrowly decided many contentious cases dealing with national elections to eminent domain, deserve a judicial nominee that’s more forthcoming and ready to share with the country what the nominee’s views are on the many issues that Americans care about.

To my mind, Senator Biden did a good job of laying the ground work for such a tact when the Senator said, the American people would be rolling the dice with Judge Roberts, given that he’s refused to let the American people begin to understand his political philosophy. Now the Dems need to run with that, and device a message along the lines of: after being promised by President Bush that he would unite us, not divide us, and at a time when our country cannot afford any further polarization, the American people deserve a judicial nominee whose philosophy is clear and whose motives are transparent. Further, because judge Roberts has refused to answer so many vital questions, and because President Bush has not released the documents that would help the Senate better understand judge Roberts’ philosophy and his motives, we cannot in good conscious -- on behalf of the American people -- endorse him to sit on the Supreme Court.

Now, because the filibuster is off the table, Roberts is likely to win confirmation; however, the point here is to rally the base and to send a message to the administration. Moreover, this is the only way that Dems can begin to chip away at the Republican strangle hold on the national discourse. The fact is that Republican talking points and their surrogates dominate the public forum; accordingly, it is only through bold moves that Dems can hope to inject their narrative into the national discourse.

And, yes, don’t be surprised if Republicans and their media surrogates begin an all out assault against such an “obstructionist, partisan and bitterly divisive” move by the “obstructionist, partisan and bitterly divisive” Democrats. I mean, come on, would you expect anything else from Republicans? No matter what, Republicans and their allies do one thing, if nothing else, exceedingly well, and that’s attack, attack, attack. So, please, save your breath if you think that the ammo must be saved for the next big fight, rather than “wasting” it against Roberts. Again, understand this, this is one continuous big fight, and all enemies respect is one thing: a strong show of force. A strong Nay vote on Roberts, say 42 Nay votes, would bolsters the Dems credibility as an opposition party that’s ready to go to the matt over the issues that are important to the American people.

If you’ve not done it, contact your Senators and encourage them to demand more from Roberts and to vote no on him, we deserve serious answers. Also, as Howard Dean has suggested, use the DNC letter writing tool to send a letter to your local papers. We gotta turn up the heat on Roberts and let our Dem Representatives know that we expect results from them not just rhetoric.

Our Progressive ideological ancestors bled too much, fought too hard, died too frequently and surpassed too much for a bunch of soft bellied 21st century wankers to let them down now. The least we can do is make a call, write a letter, encourage a friend and let our representatives know that we expect results and some backbone.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 02:52PM | 0 recs
We lost the 2004 election (probably)
and we knew that at least one SC judge would retire under the next president. John Roberts is the best we can hope for coming from The Worst President Ever. Filibuster will lead us nowhere. Vote "no" by all means, but keep the filibuster to block future nominees that are worse than Roberts.

We lost this in 2004, not now. We knew this was coming and we'll have to fight harder next time to elect a Democratic president. There's no need to get bitter now - we need to look forward.

I agree that the Dems could use a little more spine, though.

by Populism2008 2005-09-19 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: We lost the 2004 election (probably)
Yes, clearly the filibuster is off the table -- and, therefore, Roberts will be confirmed.  However, Roberts should go down with a strong NO VOTE in his record.  I explain my reasoning above.
by bedobe 2005-09-19 03:12PM | 0 recs
Roberts, it seems to me, would've been the perfect project to get the so-called netroots and blogsphere organized to present a message, yet -- except for you -- the major blogs seem to have dropped the ball big time on this issue; and this allowed elected Dems to rollover once more.

I presume you have the ear of the other name brand bloggers, any way to organize a final push?

I don't know whether this is true, but my impression is that because some of the name brand bloggers from the left are lawyers, that they've been dazzled with Roberts' credentials and facility before the committee.  Accordingly, these lefty bloggers have decided to give Roberts a pass, forgetting that -- ultimately, for our purpose, I belive -- it shouldn't be about his credentials; instead, it should be about one thing: OUR politics.  Clearly I should elaborate on this point, but that's for another diary -- when am not at work.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 03:10PM | 0 recs
there is no better example of how complicity removes your power to present a coherent opposition than John Kerry.  Had he voted against the war to begin with . . .voila, a coherent campaign
by brossnick 2005-09-19 03:29PM | 0 recs
We need a citizens referendum on John Roberts.
Here's your citizen's referendum. Simple. If you oppose John Roberts then boycott these 2 companies and contact them. Spread this message far and wide. Flood these 2 companies with calls.

I have a plan to stop the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Of course it will only succeed if you do this and get every person that you can find to do this.

Call, email Curves for Women health Clubs corporate Headquarters. The CEO gives quite a bit of money to the Republican Party and the antiabortion movement.

When you call them and or email them, tell them you or your girlfriend or wife will not patronize their health clubs until the CEO gets George W Bush to hold a press conference announcing the withdrawal the nomination of John Roberts and replace the nominee with a moderate or liberal for the Supreme Court.

Curves for Women health clubs at 800-848-1096

You can also boycott Dominoes Pizza and call their corporate headquarters make the demands above.

(734) 930-3030

CEO David Brandon, a hardcore Republican had planned to run for Senate in Michigan against Senator Debbie Stabenow. What better way to make Brandon pay more attention to his company and not run for Senate if thousands of people call his company telling him to get the President to withdraw the nomination of Roberts or face a withering boycott.

Spread the word.

Hold Republican contributors accountable for the poor functioning of this Republican administration and Republican controlled congress.

If you have come to the point where complaining about the Republican party does not do much for you then browse this web page and take action. If you don't like the content of a television program, you call their sponsors and demand a change or you will boycott the sponsor. If you don't like the content of the Republican Party program, you call their contributors and demand the CEO call the Republican Party and get the  Republican Party to accede to your progressive agenda demands or you will boycott the contributor.

by maximus7 2005-09-19 03:53PM | 0 recs
Through the Looking Glass
Honestly that's how I feel.  I'm a liberal/progressive whatever who left Clinton in '96 and Gore in '00, and I don't regret it.  As such, I've always had a certain detached feeling with the left blogging community.  I always felt I was more  willing to drop support of the Dems (at the national level anyway) than most here or at DKos.

However, reading the threads and comments posted in both places makes me feel like a Dem Establishment Guy.

The Dems should not vote against Roberts.  That's my take.  It is unfortunate that, to date, the Dems have gone along with Republicans far too often both before Bush II and since.  However, on this issue they should not oppose Roberts' confirmation (on a tangential note, I haven't heard a lot of discussion of the Dems abstaining from a vote on Roberts, which I think would be interesting).

The evidence that Roberts is an ideologue just isn't there.  The case that the Dems have been wrongly denied access to critical information is ALSO just not there (at least that I've run across, but I'll freely admit I may be wrong).  Without either of those, the case for opposing Roberts is also just not there.

Opposing Roberts will be interpreted (in the media and elsewhere) as partisan pouting with no regard to the merits of the issue.  It will further solidify the non-Dem public's view of Dems as beholden to discrete special interests because those voters don't care about esoteric issues of disclosure of certain notes and records.  They don't care if the guy took a definitive position on the Commerce Clause or not.  In fact, I'd bet they don't care about 90% of what has gone on in the confirmation process thus far.  All they know is everyone concedes the guy is bright as hell (which even the Dem Senators did), but he's been opposed for partisan reasons.

In any event, the major difference to me is that the real-world consequences of going along with Roberts are unknown.  Scream all you want about what seem like smoking gun comments into his mind, but they don't add up to a persuasive prediction of what will happen with Roberts.  And, not that I expect it, we have been pleasantly surprised by Republican-appointees in the past (Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, Souter).  So we just don't know what will happen.

That's in sharp contrast to all the other Dem capitulations where we had a much more accurate view of what would happen.  The Iraq Occupation would eventually devolve into a quagmire.  The Bankruptcy Bill would devastate middle to low-income Americans doing their best to start over.  The tax cuts would cripple social spending and expand the deficit.  Free trade would gut the American manufacturing class, decimate communities, and drive jobs out of this country.  We knew all these things would come to pass if Dems supported them.  Yet many of them did anyway.

For me, that should be the test whether to lambast Dems for being capitulators with the Republican agenda:  did we reasonably know what the cost/outcome of supporting such an endeavor would be?

With Roberts we just don't.  Apologies for the length.

by Kumar 2005-09-19 04:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Through the Looking Glass
Even Bloomberg opposes Roberts -- Bloomberg, a Republican on the national stage (he is still a Republican in spite of all the parsing on his brief political record as one).  Opposition to Roberts would be about politics, and it would be up to the Dems to couch the issue on more palatable terms.  Accordingly, opposition would not be over something like the commerce clause; in stead, I would hope that Dems could craft a message that's digestible and palatable enough.  You've admitted as much, you just don't know about Roberts... Accordingly, all Dems have to do is insert doubt... throw up enough dust...  And, of course, Republicans would attack; but for crying out loud,  we couldn't expect anything different from them.  As for the talking heads, jeesh, come on, Reed and the elected leadership need to put that so-called war room to use again and come up with an offense.  Again, Dems would not be filibustering -- Dems would simply be saying, We don't know Roberts and during such polarizing times, with so many important issues facing us, the American people deserve better... they deserve someone that will provide answers...

Now, am not a word smith, so I would hope that the Dem brains trust could do a lot better than I ever could.  But for crying out loud, what we don't need is more of the same -- that is, capitulation.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Through the Looking Glass
No apologies needed Kumar, it was a good post.  I agree with what I take to be your basic premis: that we should not oppose just to oppose but oppose when the results of Bush's actions are clearly bad.  You believe Roberts assuming the Chief Justiceship (if thats a word) is unclear in terms of whether it would be good or bad.  However, I disagree.

For the most part, the reasons why I oppose Roberts is outlined above so there is no reason to go through them again in detail.  Suffice it to say that I believe that the principle of upholding the constitutionality of federal governmental action under the Commerce Clause is so important that I think an individual is unfit to serve unless he/she clearly expresses support for this principle.  This Roberts did not do.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 05:13PM | 0 recs
The little boy who cried wolf
The line of questions jokingly placed in Chris's piece is not what I saw at all while watching the hearings.  John Roberts seems to me like one of the sharpest law professionals I have ever seen.  He doesn't seem at face value like an ideologue.  The problem the Democratic senators face is that I am not the only person who got that feeling from this nominee.  The danger you pose with the knee jerk reaction to vote no is if the senators do it gives Bush a free pass to appoint an even more ideological driven judge to the bench for Ginsburg's spot.  The line would read like this:  nothing will please the democratic obstructionists.  It is the classic boy who cried wolf story.  You have to choose your battles wisely.
by Classical Liberal 2005-09-19 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The little boy who cried wolf
I guess this is the rational behind the "keep your powder dry" argument.  Like I said in my post above, I think the Dems make a mistake in worrying too much about what the political fallout will be.  We get so wrapped up in what the media will say and what Repugs will say that we lose sight of what is right.

To me there is one main question: is there a principled reason for opposing Roberts.  I think there is for reasons I have already stated at length.  

Finally, let me say that I do not contend that practical politics is never a consideration.  Sure, it should be, especially in what tactics are used to achieve our principle-based goals.  The irony is, however, that by focusing so much attention to the politics of every single issue that the Democrats have obtained a well deserved reputation for weakness and this reputation is killing us politically.  Every single concession can be upheld individually as "smart politics."  But the net effect is a party that believes in nothing and has the support of no one.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-19 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The little boy who cried wolf
It isn't worrying about the political fallout its dealing with the political reality.  You are dead on that the Party is losing its principles and over politicizing is the root cause.  IYour arguement is where the over playing politics is causing the problems though.

I would argue that acting as obstructionists and wondering why the rest of the country doesn't hate Bush is pulling the party out of the give and take political process.  As the minority party in Washington you have to work with the majority to get things passed.  The appointment could have been much worse.  Relax - Roberts isn't the root of all evil.

by Classical Liberal 2005-09-19 06:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The little boy who cried wolf
In rreply to what you wrote I make the following points:

  1. No one is talking about "obstructing" Roberts.  For better or worse, fillibustering is completely off the table.

  2. At 40% approval or lower, Bush is not feeling much love right now.

  3. Can you give one example where "working with the majority party to get things passed" has had a positive result since Bush was appointed?  Maybe campaign finance reform, but I cant think of any other examples. It is you who dont face political reality.  The Rs have completely shut the Dems out of the political process already.

  4. I am pretty much always relaxed, thanks for worrying though.

  5. That the Roberts nomination could have been worse is hardly the point, or a valid reason to vote for someone to be Chief Justice.
by Andy Katz 2005-09-20 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The little boy who cried wolf
  1. Exactly - why pretend you would be making some big point when it can only be used against the senators in the next hearings.

  2. Agreed - non relevent.

  3. Bush wasn't appointed.  You seem to care more that working with the GOP might some how give them credit for something.  Instead our senators should be working(and are) working on every bill to make sure there voices are heard.  More grandstanding on mole hills will only give the Rs more of a justification for not listening to your concerns.  Marginalization will occur(if not already), by not just the congress but the American people.

  4. :) I am happy for you.  So many of the writers seem to be whipped up into some kind of a frenzy.  It is a tactic which is used by the left to energize its base and has back-fired several times by falling into traps placed by the Rove types.

  5. Arguing that it would send some sort of message or gain political ground is hardly a reason for a no vote.
by Classical Liberal 2005-09-20 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The little boy who cried wolf
Yes, it is smart to choose the right battles.  But it is even better to shape the terrain on which the battle will be fought.

By taking "principled" positions on highly visible situations (i.e., Roberts), Dems can change the narrative and begin to affirmatively change the terrain of the battle field.

Yes, easier said than done.  And, yes, it take guts to make bold moves, but Dems do have little to loose.  They've already lost everything in DC.  This is the time to be bold, innovative, courageous and principled.

As I stated above, the game here, in my opinion, is to begin to alter the battle field by taking principled positions on highly visible cases, that allow Dems to craft a narrative on what it is that the party stands for.  Voting No on Roberts would have to be on something along the lines of: the American people deserve serious answers on many of the tough issues facing the nation.  (Again, my disclaimer is that the Dems brain trust would need to come up with something that's digestible and palatable).  The goal, though, out to be advancing a Dem narrative on which to position the next real battle -- Bush's second nomination.

by bedobe 2005-09-19 05:44PM | 0 recs
"No" isn't about ideology
In college if you do acceptable work for a fraction of the work but don't hand in all your papers or take the final you don't get a passing grade. At best you get an "incomplete". "Incompletes" can become passing grades or failures depending on fulfilling the requirements of the course. This should be the standard for confirmation to any post - fully disclose or get an "incomplete" which can either force compliance or over time a "No" vote for failure to meet basic requirements.

If Senators of both parties really thought that advise and consent was their responsibility then reasonable Senators could vote NO on Roberts regardless of ideology. The documentation is incomplete and it's only by faith alone can you accept that the unreleased solicitor general documents (and others) are not important.

Senators like Schumer and Specter have a standard of candor and disclosure in mind for SCOTUS candidates before the hearings begin. If ANY candidate fails to meet this standard then a "NO" vote is justified.

by joejoejoe 2005-09-19 09:08PM | 0 recs
Keeping Your Powder Dry
What good is dry powder if no one is willing to shoot anything?

Let's make no mistake about it.  Most of these guys are unwilling to fire a shot in anger.

by zak822 2005-09-20 07:38AM | 0 recs


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