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Censure Hearing Today — FDL Patriot Action

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The Censure Resolution hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee begins at 9:30 am, according to the committee schedule.  Looks like the hearing will be carried live on C-Span.  (And can I just say thank goodness for C-Span, because you know the regular news media are planning some sort of missing white woman extravaganza baseball steroids telethon this morning instead.)

I heard some excerpts from the immigration debate in the House and the Senate this morning on NPR, and I have to say, Republicans are walking a fine line in their demand that we follow the rule of law for immingrants to this country but give the President a pass on having to follow the laws.  That rings very hollow — and I hope that the Judiciary Committee members make that clear in their questioning of witnesses and in their statements today.

I’m going to try and live-blog as much of the hearings as I can today.

And we had some FDL Patriot Action this week — Jane and I are so proud of all of you!  In the photo above, meet your fellow FDL readers:  left to right, Kathryn MA, selise, rcman, RevDeb, Katie Joyce Walsh, scarecrow.  How fun is that?!?  Scarecrow wrote up a report of the visit to Sen. Kerry’s office:

Five FDLers visited Senator John Kerry’s office in Boston today, to meet with a Kerry policy aide, Katie Joyce Walsh. RevDeb arranged the meeting with Ms. Walsh, having dealt with her in the past on women’s and other issues. The group also included Kathryn from MA, rcman, selise, and me. The meeting was cordial throughout, and sometimes impassioned. It was a nice mix – different professions, life experiences, and past and present activism.

It was clear from the beginning that however sympathetic Ms. Walsh might be, she was not able to answer any of the questions we sought to raise about Kerry’s views on the Feingold measure. Ms. Walsh said she had checked that a.m. with the Senator’s DC office and noted only that Kerry was still considering his position, but she gave us no indication of which way he might be leaning and why. We explained that we were concerned that earlier reports that Sen. Kerry would support the Feingold censure effort were later contradicted, without any explanation. None was given today.

Much of the discussion focused on the frustration we have with the lack of Dem leadership support for efforts, like Feingold’s, to hold the Administration accountable for violating statutes and the Constitution. We expressed strong concerns about the seriousness of the issue – as rc noted, this wasn’t just politics; this was our Constitution under assault – while Susan, RevDeb and Kathryn related several anecdotes about things each of them had experienced, seen or heard, about violations of basic rights. We mentioned other outrages going on – from the warrantless spying and the signing statement on torture and the [anti]Patriot Act to Iraq, to the growing voting machines scandal. The theme was, “why isn’t the leadership decrying these things?” We described it as a lack of spine, among other phrases, such as feeling “betrayed.” There was a common nodding of heads about “the Lieberman problem.” We related the story of our frustration over the leadership’s picking another candidate in the recent IL-6 primary, when a very good candidate with grass roots support was available, and almost won.

Ms. Walsh noted how difficult it is for Dems to get press attention when they are out of power, making it hard to let the public know when the Dems were fighting back and on what issues. She related an incident in which the Senator urged those on his e-mail list to call Senator Frist’s office about bringing a Dem bill to the floor, but that all of the calls were redirected to Kerry’s office, never reaching Frist. There was a short discussion of the Dem’s “Security Plan,” and RevDeb related the Nancy Pelosi story – which way does this sign go? – and its coverage on Olberman.

We discussed the power of the blogs, and made sure Ms. Walsh was aware of not only Firedoglake but also Glen Greenwald, Dkos and others. She’d “heard” of FDL (we didn’t ask in what context??), but not Glen. We emphasized the blogs’ growing audience of committed and concerned folks, willing to be active and to contribute. We emphasized our keen disappointment with the Dem “leadership” and a growing trend among the most activist party folks to withhold support from DSCC and DCCC and to focus money on select progressive candidates. We stressed several times that the party was in danger of having its most committed troops sit on their hands and urged her to convey to the Senator the need to engage the progressive bloggers and even coordinate. We explained we could help them, but needed to be included.

We ended by asking Ms. Walsh to get back to us with answers on several questions:What is the Senator’s issue with the Feingold bill? Does he need more information? A legal brief? What’s holding him up? Is he confused about “further investigation?”If the leadership (or Kerry’s) view is that the Feingold initiative is not the right move, or not the right timing to address the issue of lawbreaking/undermining the constitution, and accountability for that, then what is the right move and the right time? Is there a strategy, then when/how, if ever does accountability with or without censure enter into it? And if there is a strategy, what can we/blogs do to move it along? We asked to be included, as adults, because as adults, we were likely to act anyway, and it would be a good idea if were working in a consistent manner.

We suggested the Senator might offer to post a response on FDL on these issues. Ms. Walsh promised to get back to us with answers.

RevDeb says that she will be following up with the Kerry aide that they met with this week, and that selise will do the follow-up with the Kennedy aide they met last week. Truly, this is the best of American democracy in action. Kudos to everyone involved!

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com