Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day by Day coverage of the Alito fan club

You may be one of the many who just wants to forget the week long meeting of the Samuel Alito Junior fan club. If so, we truly don't blame you. If you're up to reliving the nightmare, we've assmeled some of the coverage from community sties during the hearings.


Rebecca began by noting that Pacifica was covering the heraings live but NPR was not.

Rebecca: if gas air's terry 'that's gross' had been present when john cornyn was speaking, i think the senate building would have floated right off the ground.
common ills community member billie has talked a lot about cornyn, he's her senator, and his cornyisms.
i enjoy it anytime
c.i. posts any of billie's 'look, here he goes with another cornyism!' comments. but i wasn't prepared for him.
as i listened to him ramble from 1 topic to another, i would have thought the man insane if i honestly believed he meant a word he said.
at 1 point, he was speaking of school prayer and working himself into a case of the dry heaves over students wanting to pray at a school football game when all the sudden something else caught his attention and he started ranting that depictions of sex and violence are allowed but public expressions of religion are not.
okay, help me out here, but are students allowed to depict sex at a sporting event? i'm remembering get balled out by an assistant principal just for kissing in the bleachers. and violence?
is corny calling football violent? i thought he was from the state of texas?
if you're looking for easy laughs, always stand within ear range of john cornyn because his cornyisms will have you rolling on the floor.
the other thing was hearing christine todd whitman tell the senate how to vote and how to do their job. unless i'm remembering wrongly, todd whitman could have used some 1 explaining what an epa administrator does?

C.I.: With regards to Alito, let's note this from an interview Grover Norquist gave to El Mundo (September, 2004):
Question: And if Bush wins?

Norquist: The Democratic Party will be forever doomed. If we take control of the legislature and the executive branch, we will reinforce our control of the judicial branch to direct it against the Democrats. We will bring about a modest limit of the ability of the people to initiate lawsuits against corporations, which will damage the lawyers who specialize in these cases, which is one of the props of the Democratic Party. We will accelerate the decline of the unions. We will cut funding to groups of public employees, like teachers, who are one of the great sources of Democratic votes. And we will begin to move the welfare state toward a private system, in pensions and health care.

That excerpt is from Troy Duster's foreword (*p. ix*) of Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich's The Fox In The Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy. (And worth thinking about with the hearings going on.)

Ruth: Among the guests during Monday's coverage were Nan Aaron of the Alliance for Justice, Chip Pitts of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. All three provided interesting commentary but I know Mr. Pitts is only noted at this site if a member highlights him* so I made a point to take down some of his comments.
"Judge Alito is not the mainstream conservative the adminstration's trying to paint him as," Mr. Pitts stated. The administration and Senator Lindsey Graham appear to be working very hard indeed to paint Judge Alito as mainstream. One wonders when the administration last worked so hard? Probably while they were selecting Americans to spy on without court warrants is my guess. Mr. Pitts also felt that the area of executive privilege may be the most important issue facing the country today.

[Note that Ruth's commentary posted early Tuesday morning but she's referring to Monday so we put it here.]


Elaine addresses the issue of Vanguard case and Alito's broken promise from the nineties to step aside if cases to do with that company came before him.

Elaine: Listening to Russ Feingold beat through the spin and make Samuel Alito admit that there was no computer glitch that prevented his recusal from a case was powerful. When Alito finally got honest, Feingold asked "Why didn't you just do that here instead of coming up with excuses, as you've done here?" Of course the Republicans rushed in to the rescue. I belive it was Hatch. I listened to about four minutes of that and then shut it off to head home.

Mike: And Wally had a good roundup of comments on the Alito hearings. I'm listening. Hope you're listening and listening via Pacifica. I think Russ Feingold did a great job today. He seemed serious and didn't make jokes about how pretty Diane Feinstein was or other stuff that was just a waste of time. This is serious stuff and I was really surprised that a lot of them didn't seem to take it seriously. I listen and think, "Okay, I guess it's no surprise that the Republicans are sucking up hard but why are Democrats rushing in with 'you're a good man' and all that other stuff?" This isn't a comic book convention. It's supposed to be deliberating about whether or not someone is qualified for the Supreme Court. They're all, "Yes, Miss Carey" and "Sparkle was a really good movie, Miss Carey." They need to get serious and ask questions. That was what Feingold did. They're not supposed to be making nice on either side. This is a job interview and they're treating it like a Sunday brunch to meet the new neighbor. Remember to listen to the hearings on Pacifica and show your support for independent media.

C.I.: If you're following the hearings, you know that poor little Alito can't remember membership in a group he saw fit to list on his resume in the eighties.

Rebecca: but 1 point i'll make now is that monday it sure was sweet - sarcasm - to listen to white men rush to say that sandra day o'connor can be replaced by a man and that it's practically reverse discrimination to suggest otherwise.
why there's no difference that a woman could bring.which was blown out of the water this morning when some 1 made some stupid comment about diane feinstein's looks and then it was turned into a mini joke to be picked up on. if there were several women on the committee, instead of just 1, would that have happened?
i don't think so.
there were so many overtones of 'the little lady' during these 'jokes.'


Wally started off Weds. feeling down, but, like many was rallied by Ted Kennedy.

Wally: The roundtable last night was depressing. C.I. wrote about it a little so you can read about some of it here. But the press was already calling it over after yesterday because so many of the Dems were so damn spineless and kept saying things like, "You're such a good person," "I like you" blah blah blah blah.
But after a slow start, they came to life. Maybe there's still hope?
I hope so. I thought Russ Feingold, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer did a great job. It looked like Alito was finally getting some tough questioning. I hope they keep it up.

C.I.: Dick Durbin spoke this morning and bailed. When the need to see "your heart" was stressed, I had to bail myself. At least Durbin showed strength.
"Does it really feel 'over?'" asked Cindy in an e-mail this morning (after reading this morning's gina & krista roundrobin -- my comments in the roundtable). Yes, it really does. When Durbin started bringing up Bruce Springsteen and the "crushing hand of fate," it did seem like there was cause for hope.
But, and I said this once in the roundtable, I'm not watching [onTV] or listening [on radio]. I have no idea how it plays out. What I notice is that Diane Feinstein wants to be "likeable" in the hearings, that Joe Biden needs to get a trim in back (truly, his staff has failed him by not scheduling a trip to the barber before these hearings started), that you come to count on the ones you usually count on -- Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy. I'll even say that Joe Biden showed a desire to come alive in spots.
Kyle e-mailed saying Mitch Jeserich offered in commentary (yesterday) that (I'm summarizing Kyle's summary -- twice removed) when Diane Feinstein finished her questioning, he had the sense that it was over. I'd say that was a good call not just because I personally feel that way but because that was a sentiment many were sharing. I haven't seen that in the Times but it's not surprising that
Pacifica would provide you the commentary or any other that doesn't make it into the paper of record. That's one of many reasons that Pacifica is so important to the country.
Susan wondered if, considering the way things are going, I'm not thinking "I should have stayed home." No. However this goes down, I want to witness it and say I did my best to say "NO!"
Pacifica is providing coverage. And I'm providing that link several times in this entry because a few members, reading this morning's round-robin, appear to understand my comments to be, "Good for NPR for not airing the hearings!"
That wasn't what I was attempting to say. My point was that Alito wasn't Roberts. (And Judge has made that point in his coverage for the round-robin as did ___ who came in for last night's roundtable.) Roberts rubbed elbows and more. He was one of the inner circle on the DC scene.
Roberts would have had to have been caught frenching a Grand Dragon of the KKK in Dupont Circle, in broad daylight with many witnesses, for the fawning press to have turned on him. Alito didn't have that level of insider status. Some in the mainstream press were willing to go after something if the Democrats presented their case. They really haven't. There have been exceptions. (And I'd even include some of Biden's moments on the list.)
But the press is said to be on full snow job mode now (and the Times bears that out this morning). If so, that's due to the fact that there was no blood in the water. If the Dems had gotten one good "wound," the sharks would have come swarming.
But they're not going to do a thing without the Dems. (Hold on for the second part.) And that has to do with more then the usual nonsense (which is why I brought ____ into the roundtable last night to explain that point of view). What is the point of angering a Supreme Court Judge? Especially in light of the attacks on the press already? If the Dems appear to be throwing in the towel, then why should the press stand up?
That's a point of view from the press. Now let's deal with the Dems. They're playing the Dukakis strategy all over again. "I'll make a point and then expect the press to flesh it out and run with it!" Doesn't happen that way. (We'll have at least one former Congress member in tonight's roundtable so if I'm doing the Senate's position a disservice, that can be straightened out tonight.)
But I'm not impressed by the behavior during the hearings. The Senate does have a sense of decorum to uphold. But that doesn't excuse turning a job interview into a Sunday greet the new neighbor brunch. (Which
Mike went into in the roundtable but a link will be provided to Mike's comment on that online.)
Before I walked out this morning, Alito was being asked about an issue that, as the Senator presented the question, "will come up" -- will be heard before the Court and?
Alito weighed in. No arm twisting. Why? It wasn't about abortion. It was about public displays of worship.
Why aren't the Dems pointing that out? Maybe they will. Maybe they will make a point of that. But as it stands, Alito speaks in code (and uses Plessy v. Ferguson and "equal protection to all") to signal to the base that he will vote to chip away and overturn Roe. But he gets a pass on it. Not just in terms of being confronted on that and him being allowed not to answer -- he's not even being asked about it. On public displays of worship, an issue that will come before the Court, Alito feels free to weigh in.
So his so-called "Ginsburg defense" is applied selectively. That should be an issue emphasized. But the reality is nothing is being emphasized.
Maybe the press coverage is grabbing a soundbyte? I don't know. Outside of the New York Times the only thing I've caught is
Democracy Now! on TV. DN! isn't mainstream media (it's brave independent media) so I have no idea how it's playing out in the media.
But I'm not impressed with what's gone in the hearings. Could they turn it around? Yes. But the Dems will have to do it. While Alito's present. The press (mainstream) has little interest in covering the witnesses. If there's a dynamo among the witnesses, someone needs to start leaking. As it is, when Alito's done being questioned, many of the coverage will disappear.
Can they (Dems) still turn it around? I hope so. Because, not endorsing this just noting the rumors as I said in the roundtable last night, the rumbles are that Bully Boy thinks he may get a third nomination. (Let's hope he's impeached before that can happen.) If Kennedy is the one they think he'll get to replace, as some of the rumors indicate, the Court will not be the same.
Diane Feinstein can say, "I questioned Alito! I questioned Roberts!" She did. She asked them silly questions for the most part. Then, with serious questions, she took the statements at face value. It was embarrassing in the Roberts hearings and it's embarrassing in these.
Her "I take my responsibility seriously" as the only woman on the commitee remarks may be sincere. But sincere or not, her questioning hasn't been helpful. Dick Durbin did a far better job probing the issues of Roe than did Feinstein.
Pacifica is covering the hearings. You should listen to them (unless the whole thing upsets you too much). NPR should be covering them live. My comment last night re: NPR was that possibly when the indications of no-filibuster were made, they saw no point in covering it. That wasn't a defense of them. They should be covering it. It sounds like Pacifica is doing a wonderful job (no surprise there). But this is historic and NPR should be covering it live. That's what public radio should do. You put your middle of the road, tired, gas bag based shows on ice and cover the hearings live. [**"tired, gas bag based shows, refers to NPR's lineup.] Pacifica is covering the hearings. If I were home, I'd be listening to Pacifica.
But the point I was making re: NPR is that they aren't public radio, they are the mainstream press. And the press lost a great deal of interest in covering topics the minute the noises were made (by some Dems) that a filibuster wasn't likely. The impression was, for the mainstream press, that Dems weren't going to fight this. When that impression took hold, the prospect of the press pursuing leads (and some were being pursued) got tossed aside.
I'm not saying that's right. (In fact, I said in the round-robin that I thought that was lazy and irresponsible.)
I think there's value in following the hearings. Short of the Dems getting their act together, I don't think the left will be pleased with the results of the hearings. (We're told repeatedly that things are "about" to change -- in the hearings. We keep waiting to reach that "about.") But that doesn't change that the hearings are significant.
Pacifica's broadcasting the hearings live and providing commentaries. They're taking it seriously.
We started with Carol Leif's comments and they really say it all. She had a visceral reaction. Many people did (I did) to Alito's nomination. So the lack of strong questioning has been distressing.
But we can learn from it. One thing we can do is start demanding that another woman be added to the judicial committee. All this time after Anita Hill faced an all male panel, to have but one female on the committee just isn't good enough. That should be true whether you think Diane Feinstein is doing a good job or not.
And we can see that once again Ted Kennedy is a fighter. Patrick Leahy fought, Russ Feingold fought. Dick Durbin fought. Even Joe Biden has had some moments.
Hopefully, there will be more. But you did see who would fight and you saw who would make nice.

Rebecca: let me say what i'm willing to bet everyone wants to but no one wants to be the 1st to do so: diane feinstein, are you trying to help or hurt?
over and over she plays 'miss diane' with the white gloves and 'oh my's. miss diane, it's the 21st century. you are a us senator. try acting like 1.
now maybe she's confused because she's got lindsey graham playing like the heroine to a tennessee williams play that he never had time to write: the mint julup exploded on my best dress!
'i am sorry,' blanche, er, lindsey sobbed to alito, 'that you had to go through this. i'm sorry that your family had to sit here . . .'
oh the tragedy! oh the drama!poor alito! asked questions!
i can barely hear lindsey crying due to the rustle from his crinoline petticoat.
but diane feinstein was worse than a joke, she was a distraction.yesterday it was all 'miss diane you are so pretty' nonsense. and she basked in it.
today, ted kennedy's reading an article by a cap member. [Concerned Alumni of Princeton] what's being read is pretty shocking.
he's leading to a question and the thing has soundbyte written all over it.what happens?miss diane interrupts him. 'read the last sentence.'
miss diane, in your own time, where you 'let things pass,' and you have no follow ups, you can read that last sentence. (it applied to women.)
what you shouldn't do is step on someone's powerful moment.
i was listening to the hearings on
pacifica and hope you were too.
but i wondered what ted kennedy's face looked like during that?
did he realize his soundbyte was blown?
and did everyone get that diane thought she was being silly. 'read the last sentence.'
twice she interrupts and sounds so delighted.
as though teddy were given a toast and she'd just cut him off to say, 'oh look, the grants brought baked beans! yoo hoo! over here!'
can someone have a talk with diane feinstein?
from a p.r. perspective, she needs it explained to her that she didn't just butt into ted kennedy's time, she destroyed a soundbyte that could have been on all the news networks - well, not fox 'news.'
it was a powerful moment - until she piped off. twice.
now in her own time, she wastes everyone's. she won't follow up on anything. she wastes time playing the 'girl' which is embarrassing from any senator but especially 1 of her advanced years.
so i'll ask it, is she trying to help us or trying to hurt us?
if she's trying to help us, she needs some 1 to explain to her the importance of not butting in on some 1's sound byte.
the importance of not being 'cute' in the hearings but instead doing your job.
this isn't a social, it's not a dance. conduct yourself like a senator or get off the committee.
there are many reasons to sing barbara boxer's praises. 1 of them is that she can lay it out without trying to pour on the filigree. she doesn't need to 'girl' it up. she's a strong woman, a confident 1. that's how she conducts herself and that's 1 reason so many respect her.
diane feinstein needs to be diane feinstein. but if she thinks playing it like shirley temple is appropriate, she needs to rethink being on the committee.

Mike: Now let's talk Alito. Ted Kennedy? I feel proud to have him as one of my senators.He did a great job. I groan everytime Diane Feinstein speaks. She really gets on my nerves with her fussy manners. But Ted Kennedy roared like a lion. I think he shook things up and woke things up. There was a lot more action today. Dick Durbin did pretty good in the morning. Charles Schumer did a strong job in the afternoon. Russ Feingold is second only to Ted Kennedy. I feel like even Kohl and Biden got some points in. Then Diane Feinstein has to get silly. Elaine's covering that so I'll just ask what she thinks she's doing?
She's not helping anyone. If you think I'm being rough, you should hear Nina. We cut class to listen to the hearings and I've never seen her so mad. That includes when we were hurrying down the stairs Christmas Eve to get to Mass and I accidentally stepped on her dress. She was ahead of me on the stairs and had a nice long dress on. We were both hurrying down the stairs and she was in front of me and I wasn't paying attention where my big feet were going.
Ma and Elaine got out the thread and needle and it was like the mice in Cindrella. :D I have hopes for tomorrow's hearings and I'll talk about that in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin tonight so look for that tomorrow when Gina and Krista e-mail it out. By the way, Ma's taking part in tonight and tomorrow night's roundtables. And when you read tomorrow, expect an earful from Nina. She didn't plan to take part tonight but she's so furious with Diane Feinstein that she called Gina and Gina said "Of course." If she'd asked me, I would have told her that because Gina and Krista want as many people weighing in as possible. So look for that in the morning. C.I. wrote some about the round-robin and Leigh Ann doesn't get the round-robin. She saw C.I.'s entry and wondered about C.I. talking about? C.I. asked Gina and Krista last night. C.I. really only talked about comments made by C.I. which would have been fine without permission. But Gina and Krista gave permission (and said C.I. didn't need permission, but C.I. really thinks the round-robin should be kept private). C.I. said if they were doing nonsense, it was going up at The Common Ills because the press was bored on Tuesday. The journalist that took part in the roundtable Tuesday night kept stressing that over and over and kept saying C.I. needed to post something on that because if there weren't sparks today, it was over. In the roundtable I listened a lot and I did talk about the "manners" bit like I had blogged on last night. Leigh Ann asked why it pissed me off so much? Because I think they needed to get down business and wasn't seeing that happen. Today was better after about the second or third hour. But Diane Feinstein needs to stop playing Miss Manners.

Elaine: So Alito.
Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy did a fine job. Why is Diane Feinstein on the committee? Does she serve cookies? That's how she acts. Like some stereotype of femininity. Is she a Senator or is she Lily Tomlin's The Tasteful Lady? I do not understand why she's on the committee. As a woman, I find it offensive when she doesn't correct someone raving about her looks. It's not a beauty contest, Diane.
Your peers on the committee may think you're sweet and pretty but that's not why you should be on the committee. Anyone who says, "I'll let that pass" when they're supposed to be questioning a prospective Supreme Court Justice, needs to step down from the committee.
And with a husband profitting from the war and Diane's own history after the assassination of Harvey Milk, "Genteel Diane" is a bit hard to buy.
Feinstein is especially disappointing because in 1991, Anita Hill stood before an all White, all male judiciary committee and was dismissed and savaged. As feminists, we said never again. Fifteen years later, and
C.I. pointed this out last summer, all we have to show for it is one woman on the committee?
Diane's not up to the challenge. That's clear. I don't buy that she's a huggable, just out of the sorority and headed to the mixer, type "girl." But if that's how she wants to present herself, so be it. That behavior doesn't belong on the Judiciary Committee. She obviously enjoys providing the "boys" with entertainment and they obviously enjoy having a "girl" among them. But they need a woman on the committee. At least one. So it's time for Barbara Boxer or Maria Cantwell to be put on the committee or both.

Kat: What did I hear today?
Some life. I'd like to hear more of it. Today was almost robust. After yesterday's comatose hearings, there was suddenly some life in the hearings.
The biggest disappointment? The Republicans, of course. John Cornyn? He just loves the sound of his own voice. Can someone teach him to pronounce Holocaust? It's not "HO" (as in "Ho-Ho-HO") "LOW" "COST." This is not a new word. Nor is it a "Texan" way to pronounce it. I have two friends who grew up in Texas. They know how to say the word. I called them at three to ask is this something that everyone who grew up in Texas says but they learned after they left? I was told not "no" but "Hell no!" John Cornyn is an idiot.
This is a historical event that everyone should know about. That includes knowing how to say the word. Since he doesn't know how to say words, you'd think he'd be embarrassed to go on and on. But he's not. He just can't shut up. And he has this tendency to try to speak for the country. "I'm sure everyone . . ." Hey bud, don't speak for those of us who don't say "HO" "LOW" "COST." It's like they dropped a pallet on his head at some Super Wal-Mart.
Is Tom Coburn the one trying to sound like Cher? Everytime he speaks, if it's him, he's got that natural tear in his voice that works for Cher when she's singing the sad songs but I don't think he's strutting around in fishnet stockings and high heels. I could be wrong.
Biggest disappointment on the other side of the aisle?Diane Feinstein.
Rebecca and I were on the phone off and on all day. She has a great take on Lindsey Graham and I hope she write about it tonight. We were riffing and bouncing jokes off one another on Diane Feinstein.
The thing that made her laugh the most was when I said Feinstein seemed determine to become the "Little Lady of the Senate." It's as though she walks in, takes off her gardening gloves, pulls off her bonnet, fluffs her hair and is then ready to waste everyone's time. Rebecca had the perfect example and she better write about it. Me? I just groan everytime she speaks.
For those who wonder, that's not who we elected in 1992. We elected a feisty fighter who could stand her own ground. I have no idea what's become of that woman but in her place we get the "Little Lady of the Senate." It's probably for the best that she didn't participate in the recall race for governor. She's pissed off a lot of people in this state (California) by being pro-war. Between that and her "Little Lady of the Senate" routine, I don't think she could have been elected.
The way she acts these days, she couldn't win her seat if it weren't for the fact that she's already an incumbent. To win it as a non-incumbent, she's have to be scrappy again. But she honestly reminds me of the Faye Dunaway character from The Handmaid's Tale.


The Dems have abandoned the fight and it becomes even more obvious as the day wears on.

Wally: Another day of hearings on Alito. Worth remembering Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts from November when Alito told Bully Boy, "I'll say anything to be confirmed."Well almost anything! He won't give an honest answer on Roe v. Wade. What he has said makes it plain that he doesn't want to say Roe v. Wade is settled law.
Like C.I. pointed out yesterday, he had no problem weighing in on public displays of worship and you know that's coming before the Court.

C.I.: So what has today been like? Not as lively as yesterday. "Enough of that. Let me move on." Who said that? Which Democrat? Does it matter? Doesn't that seem like those two sentences summed up much of what's gone on so far today? (Diane Feinstein said it today to Alito, for those who missed it.)
[. . .]
The hearings? No real follow ups for Alito. He's still allowed to pick and choose what he'll respond to. "I don't think that's settled" was popular this morning. Has anyone pointed out that he tossed that rule aside when he weighed in on public displays of worship the day before?Schumer was the strongest from where I sat. Dick Durbin did well (I thought). I'm not sure on Kohl. I had trouble hearing him but I think he was laying groundwork. (Supposedly some are laying groundwork for the witnesses that will testify later. Whether that's true or not, who knows.)It's more sedate. The life seems to have gone out of the hearings. Even Jeff Sessions seemed to have trouble kissing Alito's ass today. Everyone looks tired and it seems like a sense of resignation just hangs over everything. Which may be why the fact that Alito followed the law by providing employment to men and women is somehow seen as some amazing, trailblazing thing he did. I also think Alito completely screwed up the war powers issue.
[. . .]
The hearings appear done. (Though there's supposedly some amazing witnesses coming up. I'm sure they are worth listening to, but I'm not sure any witnesses will have any impact.) But there are other issues involving the nation. Such as the issue of impeachment.

Elaine: When the "strategy" was explained to us in last night's round-robin, you read our reactions. The "big plan" is apparently to plant seeds of doubt and hope that the people will swarm Senators with phone calls, e-mails, letters, faxes and visits.
If you read the New York Times editorial, you got a sense that this is the middle of the road's press' feeling too. (The link for the editorial takes you to Common Dreams, not to the Times. There's no registration required at Common Dreams.)Thank you, by the way, to Gina and Krista as well as all participants in the roundtable for granting permission to talk about this topic. It was very nice of the two guests to sit in and explain the "strategy." But when you're "strategy" is the same as the tactic that the middle of the road newspaper takes on its own, that's no "strategy." That's not fighting. That's not providing an opposition.I think it was a gross mistake that will result in Alito being confirmed. If I'm wrong, I'll be thrilled. But before the next elected Democrat sends out a mass e-mail asking for donations to the DNC so that they can "stand up and fight," the party might want to consider demonstrating that they know how to stand up and fight.
C.I. summed up today when the hearings broke for lunch:
So what has today been like? Not as lively as yesterday. "Enough of that. Let me move on." Who said that? Which Democrat? Does it matter? Doesn't that seem like those two sentences summed up much of what's gone on so far today? (Diane Feinstein said it today to Alito, for those who missed it.)
Thank you, by the way, to those e-mailing how displeased they are with Feinstein. If anyone missed it, Rebecca explained yesterday how Feinstien's being "cute" destroyed Ted Kennedy's soundbyte and Kat explained how Feinstein seems intent on playing "The Little Lady of The Senate." Feinstein was a waste. It's not that she couldn't ask a question like an adult (although there is that), it's that she was incapable of doing a follow up and felt the need to "girl" it up. Drag queens haven't felt the need to manufacture false feminity to that degree. For an indepth rundown of each day's key moments (highs and lows) visit Eleanor Smeal's The Smeal Report.

Mike: The hearings today on Alito?
Yawn.You get all excited from one day and then it's back to butt smooching and "Thank you to you and your family for being here." Notice that Alito never mentioned thanks. Who is the one being honored? The Senate? No.The Senate's fulfilling its obligation. Any nominee has to be vetted by them. Alito's the one who should be honored. But he sat there smugly time and again basking in the butt smooches.
I'm not a Hillary fan but both my parents think Diane Feinstein needs to step down from the judiciary committee and let Hillary get on it. They don't think you need to be a lawyer to be on the committee but they think you need to be strong and they're as disgusted as everyone else with Diane Feinstein's nonsense in the last three days.
Nina said it last night in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, "Is she trying to play good cop? Because she just comes off like dumb cop. She like Chief Wiggins on The Simpsons."
I laughed so hard when Nina said that last night. (I had permission to quote the round-robin if anyone's wondering.)
I am proud of Ted Kennedy for being a fighter. I think some fought and some just growled. And Diane Feinstein just fanned herself acting like, as Kat's pointed out, The "Little Lady" of the Senate.

Seth: From what little I've seen so far, it seems to be going as expected. By that I mean, the Republicans are lauding him for being the second coming (or so it always sounds when they're laying on the praise) and the Democrats are trying their hardest to get some real answers from the man and not succeeding.Most chilling, I think, is the fact that Alito bragged in '85 (on a job application for the Reagan White House) about having belonged to the group Concerned Alumni of Princeton, though now he has come down with selective amnesia about the group and his membership in it. How convenient for him. Senator Kennedy had a poster made of a quote from the group's magazine, and this really says it all:
"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns black and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children. And now... and now come women."
This is the sort of man they're trying to put on the court to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. The Democrats and any even halfway moderate Republicans should be coming together to stop this from happening. They're literally holding the future of countless Americans in their hands and if they screw this up...I don't even want to think about it. But suffice it to say, we'll all know who failed to stop this. The Democrats have been in danger of losing the left for a long time now, and if they let Alito receive confirmation without putting up a real fight, that could be the final straw for many of us.I say filibuster the nomination. If the right then takes away the right to filibuster, at least the public knows that the Democrats put up a real fight. If they let this go to a vote without a filibuster, they've caved in yet again to the right.

Rebecca: it started with a whimper, then it picked up a little, then it whimpered to an end.
no climax. if the alito hearings had been a lover, you'd have been smart to kick it out of bed.
this is the oppostion party? this is how they do the brave stands?
i'm not talking about a filbuster. 1 of the nelsons brothers (that's how i see the 2 senators named nelson, they're like the really bad pop band of the 80s) has already given indications that he's willing to vote for alito.
so i'm not talking about that. i'm talking about asking tough questions and then asking follow ups. too often i felt like i was watching toy poodles who'd been housebroken long ago.
they'd bark a little at you while you were sitting on the couch but if you stood, they'd whimper and run out of the room.
that's not an opposition party.
it's sad that the democrats think that makes 1.
when alito kept fudging and refusing to answer, they should have treated him like a hostile witness. by the last day, every 1 of them should have used their time to hit on the same issues.over and over.
diane feinstein, to name 1 of the worst offenders, could shoot scattershot (although she acted as though she were tossing out lillies throughout the hearings) in the other days but on the final day, she didn't need to be bringing up new issues. this is where you make the case to the people.
not where you suddenly introduce a new topic.and for some 1 who interrupted ted kennedy repeatedly the day prior as he asked about caps, wasn't it strange that she didn't have a question on that? when kennedy was speaking yesterday, she couldn't stop interrupting. today? she's moved on.
miss diane gets my vote for most useless and i'm not fan of kohl. but miss diane was supposed to be fighting for women and instead we got a timid school marm trying to get the rowdy class to like her.
it's not just her. that's a point c.i. made tonight in the roundtable. c.i. pointed out that arlen specter couldn't stop treating her like she was a 'special' and not a real senator. he referred to her 'dramatic entrance.' there was another specific example c.i. brought up but i'm forgetting it now. but the point is, she is treated that way by others on the committee.
as an adult, she should ask them to cut it out. instead she seems tickled by the patronizing attitude.
i'm looking for the non-action figure miss diane. she comes non-fully poseable. she's in a seated postion. you can extend her legs or bend them depending upon whether you want her to sit in a chair or to sit on the floor. she wears a lovely dress with several layers. she comes with white gloves and the cutest little purse that matches her hat, her belt and her shoes. the non-action figure has a silly grin pasted on its face and is called 'miss diane, girl senator.'
the tea set is purchased separately.

Cedric: Disappointed and disappointing are the two words for the night. Disappointed is the way I feel because disappointing was the way the Democrats handled the Alito hearings.
There's no excuse of "we're the minority party." Some of the worst moments were from Democrats. Joe Biden obviously spent a great deal of time planning his questions and he obviously enjoys the sound of his own voice. But he was incapable of listening. He had no real follow ups. Time after time when Alito would answer in a vague or troubling manner, Biden would basically rush on to his next prepared question.
Herbert Kohl? Was he even there? He'd speak and it would be, "Who's that?" On the third day, he did seem to have a point or be close to one.
Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy did the best job. But why were the other Dems unable to grab the baton on the handoff?
Diane Feinstein was just embarrassing. She never followed up on questions others had asked.It seemed like she was trying to score points with various factions in the party. "Here's my Roe questions" and "Now here's my environmental questions."
Both are huge issues but others hit hard on Roe and managed to note other things as well.
Feinstein didn't hit hard on anything. She had no follow ups. She felt the need to say, "I'm not a lawyer," as if she was the anti-Star Jones, over and over. Since Florida's the sunshine state, and not California, I have no idea why she wanted to act like a ray of sunshine.
But there she was joking and saying sweet things. Vouching for him at times.
Does she know how to handle a witness because it never seemed like it in the hearings.

Kat: ? What is there to say?
In the final day of the , she thought she was attending a church social. And lucky her, she was the only "gal" invited to the big to-do. She basked in the male gaze.
Hey, I'm sure she's had many Wendy Jo Sperber moments. Being able to have Kip and Henry's attention without a Donna Dixon about to enter the room () was probably quite enjoyable to her.
If it weren't, she would have called on his patronizing her with remarks about her "dramatic entrance." That a U.S. Senator can't call a man on that isn't encouraging to the rest of us.
But she seemed quite happy to be belle of the ball.
Too bad she didn't seem too keen on questioning Alito.


C.I.: Alito contradicted himself throughout and was all over the map. This "general approach," for instance, was directly refuted on the day (it's all a blur) when he went into internet porn. There he spoke of an interpretation larger than "originalism." A problem throughout this article is that a reporter who tries to decipher Alito is headed for trouble if they try to condense by marrying fragments of the question with his answers. Alito did not answer the questions directly. That was obvious observing the hearings all week. Alito skated over everything. He wasn't challenged with follow ups often enough and when he did get a follow up he continued his dance of disinformation. Some of the things reported as "answers" (by the Times and the AP -- the only things I've seen) are not answers. His saying Congress can do something, for instance, is merely stating that Congress has the ability to do something, it's not answering whether or not he thinks the Court could or should overrule a proposed legislation. A number of Democrats on the panel appeared to either hear what they wanted or not listen closely. (That's been true of the press as well.) "Can" is ability. (Yes, we're back to that lesson again, do you believe it?) Congress can pass anything it has the votes to pass. Whether or not it will be upheld in a legal challenge is a completely different issue. Observing the hearings, for me, was one long moot court nightmare where you kept wishing people would get what was being said but they didn't.(They being most Democrats on the committee -- though not all -- and some members of the press.)
Judith Resnik calls it best in the article: "He's fabulous at tautology." We'll address the Alito fan club that met from Monday through Thursday in highlights further down.

Wally: Mom saw this excerpt at The Common Ills and asked, "Please, put it up at your site."From the National Organization for Women's Kim Gandy's "Mostly Serious New Year's Resolutions:"
- I pledge to do my part to oppose the nomination of Samuel Alito the Supreme Court, for all the reasons given here and here. Even if I've already called my Senators, I pledge to go call 'em again now! I know this fight could decide women's reproductive rights for the next 40 years or longer, and I am committed to doing my part to stop Alito. (And in fact, if you have some time, we'd love to have you in D.C.! Find out more about joining our campaign in D.C.)
- I resolve not to be fooled by Sam Alito's evasion, obfuscation, and wiggle words (that's a legal term, for all of you non-lawyers out there ;>) and to focus on his very serious anti-woman ideology, even if it is really funny that his excuses sound a lot like "the dog ate my homework" The excuses? In today's hearing they went something like this: the computer forgot to remind me that I promised not to rule on Vanguard cases and I really don't remember being in that misogynistic club, but if I did it must have been about the ROTC and the military (sounds of patriotic music playing in the background).
- I will do everything I can to make sure Congress doesn't take women's rights lightly, and to remind our elected officials--especially the ones who claim to be "progressive"--that women's issues matter and women's votes count!
- I'll work with my local NOW chapter on whatever campaigns I can help with in my area, knowing that all across the country I will be joined by hundreds of thousands of feminists and progressive allies working to take back our country from the far Right! (Don't know your local chapter? Click here!)
It's not over yet. If everyone works together we can still defeat Alito.

C.I.: The hearings or "hearings." A number of topics were addressed (and misaddressed) today. I'm not as tickled by the term "stink bomb" as one Senator was. I will note that chortles continued once Laurence Tribe began speaking and he had to stop and wait for the chortling Senator to come to their senses. If you felt the Senator never did, chances are you know whom we're speaking of. The Senator who either felt the need to play Barbara Walters ("If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?") or to play Mystery Date (stated by a woman seated next to me) didn't go out on a high note.
[C.I.'s referring to Feinstein.]
Tribe and Kate Michelman spoke effectively. The testimonails in favor of Alito started out resembling too many late night "It changed my life!" infomercials. As the parade continued, the Cult of Alito became more mind numbing (one had to wonder if some "vouchers" had been mind numbed before they became mind numbing?)
So now the Senate committee's done all it probably plans to. Use NOW's
Take Action: Call Your Senators Today link today and remember this number 1-800-839-5276. Delilah Boyd (A Scrivener's Lament) always displays it. Why? It's the toll free number for the Capitol Hill Switchboard. Dial it, ask for the Senator you want to speak to and they'll transfer you to her or his office. You can store the number and use it to contact the offices of House members as well. Or you can just remember Delilah's got it posted at her site and visit A Scriverner's Lament not just for her humor and keen observations (noted in the year-in-review) but also for the solid information she hooks you up with.

Mike: It was depressing for me to listen to. I kept thinking how the Dems could have all fought but instead they missed their chance.

And that was the five days of the hearings. Alito finished testifying on Thursday and the Dems appeared to finish trying Wednesday. (Some might argue sooner.)

We spotlighted a great deal of C.I. and we know it. That's partly because C.I. posts more than any member of the community but also because C.I. was in D.C. and was often commenting on the mood at the hearings. Jess and Ava made it to D.C. mid-morning Thursday, at which point, "It was over."

Jess: [Thursday] It was over. You could feel it in the room. Someone would clear their throat and you could feel the optimisim rise in the non-Alito fan base. Then nothing would happen, then more nothing would not happen. People observing the hearings were angry and you'd get stopped with a lot of, "Is it just me" type questions.

Ava: Friday was worthless. Hatch made nice with abortion rights activists, Feinstein made nice with everyone. I don't think there was a sincere moment from the committee members. Specter creeped me out with the way he looked at and spoke to Michelman. I couldn't figure out if he was acting like an overly attentive father (treating a grown woman like a child) or if it seemed like he was attracted to her. It may have been a combination of the two but it was creepy. I thought Fienstein faniced herself Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz Friday and her "What can a judge would Alito make" nonsense question, that's a paraphrase by the way, came off like she had just stumbled across the Scarecrow.
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