A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
- Prairie Weather


“Protest works. Just look at the proof”


The last place you will hear about the new American labor movement is in big American outlets.

Via lambert, via susie. See them, their blogrolls, Twitter hash tag #1u and just about any other outlet where citizens can get the word out.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. Via.


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This Week in Tyranny

Well, a very good week was followed by a very bad one.  The capitulation on FISA tells me that a lot of representatives think they can disregard strenuous opposition from the left (when it comes from the right - see immigration - they comply).  One of the few positive developments was the new alliance formed with civil libertarians on the right.  If it endures and projects a more diverse spectrum of opposition to the erosion of our freedoms it could end up as more than just a silver lining.  It also increases my sense that the ground is shifting under the politicians’ feet and they are largely ignorant of it.

Speaking of which, there’s a good deal of ignorance or worse in how the legislation is being characterized.  Glenn has some details.  He writes it is “vital to target and defeat selected Democrats in Congress who are enabling these unconstitutional and lawless assaults”, but I’d say anyone who voted for it should be targeted.  No reason to single out one party, especially if we are trying to create a broad coalition.  And let’s face it, if you really want to get Washington’s attention send a few GOP incumbents down to defeat in primaries over this issue.

This week the action is in the Senate and it doesn’t look good.  There is a lot of debate on the left over how Obama stands on this and how much he can do.  While the ideal situation would be for the entire bill to be defeated I don’t think most people are taking an all-or-nothing approach towards him.  If telecom amnesty was stripped and the rest of it went through I think most would grudgingly accept it.  He’s the leader of his party and even though it has a reputation for being undisciplined he could make a difference if he really wanted to.  If the bill goes to the President’s desk in its current form he can be faulted for practicing politics as usual in Washington DC.


Side notes: Obama pledged to comply with Congressional subpoenas.  Atrios notes that abuses Republicans are blind to at the moment will become outrages under a Democratic President, so look for subpoenas to become sacred.  Those of us blogging from the left will face a test of our own:  Will we be as vocal about them then as we are now?  I hope so.  The right loudly proclaimed principles of limited foreign intervention, fiscal responsibility, obedience to the law and so on during the 90’s and promptly trashed all that when it controlled all the levers of power.  The past eight years have been an uninterrupted lesson in conservative hypocrisy, and one of the reasons I’m proud to be a liberal is that I think we are more likely to stand on principle even when it means being critical of our own.  If November produces another Democratic wave we will probably be tested on that frequently.


And since Obama claims he won’t invoke executive privilege indiscriminately we may as well look at an example of why doing so is such a terrible idea. (Via email from PW.)

House FISA Yes Votes

The following people solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Yesterday’s vote gutted the Fourth Amendment; can any of them explain how their actions did not actively damage the Constitution?

Gary Ackerman
Robert Aderholt
Todd Akin
Rodney Alexander
Jason Altmire
Michael Arcuri
Joe Baca
Michele Bachmann
Spencer Bachus
Brian Baird
Gresham Barrett
John Barrow
Roscoe Bartlett
Joe Barton
Melissa Bean
Shelley Berkley
Howard Berman
Marion Berry
Judy Biggert
Brian Bilbray
Gus Bilirakis
Sanford Bishop, Jr
Tim Bishop
Rob Bishop
Marsha Blackburn
Roy Blunt
John Boehner
Jo Bonner
Mary Bono Mack
John Boozman
Dan Boren
Leonard Boswell
Rick Boucher
Charles Boustany
Allen Boyd
Nancy Boyda
Kevin Brady
Paul Broun
Henry Brown, Jr
Corrine Brown
Vern Buchanan
Michael Burgess
Dan Burton
G.K. Butterfield
Steve Buyer
Ken Calvert
Dave Camp
John Campbell
Eric Cantor
Shelley Moore Capito
Dennis Cardoza
Christopher Carney
John Carter
Mike Castle
Kathy Castor
Don Cazayoux
Steve Chabot
Ben Chandler
Travis Childers
Emanuel Cleaver II
James Clyburn
Howard Coble
Tom Cole
Mike Conaway
Jim Cooper
Jim Costa
Bud Cramer
Ander Crenshaw
Joseph Crowley
Barbara Cubin
Henry Cuellar
John Culberson
Artur Davis
Geoff Davis
David Davis
Lincoln Davis
Tom Davis
Nathan Deal
Charlie Dent
Lincoln Diaz-Balart
Mario Diaz-Balart
Norm Dicks
Joe Donnelly
John Doolittle
Thelma Drake
David Dreier
John Duncan, Jr.
Chet Edwards
Vern Ehlers
Brad Ellsworth
Rahm Emanuel
Jo Ann Emerson
Eliot Engel
Phil English
Bob Etheridge
Terry Everett
Mary Fallin
Tom Feeney
Jeff Flake
J. Randy Forbes
Jeff Fortenberry
Vito Fossella
Virginia Foxx
Trent Franks
Rodney Frelinghuysen
Elton Gallegly
Scott Garrett
Jim Gerlach
Gabrielle Giffords
Kristen Gillibrand
Phil Gingrey
Virgil Goode
Bob Goodlatte
Bart Gordon
Kay Granger
Sam Graves
Al Green
Gene Green
Luis Gutierrez
Ralph Hall
Jane Harman
Alcee Hastings
Doc Hastings
Robin Hayes
Dean Heller
Jeb Hensarling
Wally Herger
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Brian Higgins
Rubén Hinojosa
Dave Hobson
Pete Hoekstra
Tim Holden
Steny Hoyer
Kenny Hulshof
Duncan Hunter
Bob Inglis
Darrell Issa
Sam Johnson
Jim Jordan
Paul Kanjorski
Ric Keller
Dale Kildee
Ron Kind
Steve King
Pete King
Jack Kingston
Mark Steven Kirk
Ron Klein
John Kline
Joe Knollenberg
Randy Kuhl
Ray LaHood
Doug Lamborn
Nick Lampson
Jim Langevin
Tom Latham
Steven LaTourette
Bob Latta
Jerry Lewis
Ron Lewis
John Linder
Daniel Lipinski
Frank LoBiondo
Nita Lowey
Frank Lucas
Dan Lungren
Connie Mack
Tim Mahoney
Don Manzullo
Kenny Marchant
Jim Marshall
Jim Matheson
Kevin McCarthy
Carolyn McCarthy
Michael McCaul
Thaddeus McCotter
Jim McCrery
Patrick McHenry
John McHugh
Mike McIntyre
Buck McKeon
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Jerry McNerney
Gregory Meeks
Charlie Melancon
John Mica
Jeff Miller
Candice Miller
Gary Miller
Harry Mitchell
Dennis Moore
Jerry Moran
Patrick Murphy
Tim Murphy
Marilyn Musgrave
Sue Myrick
Randy Neugebauer
Devin Nunes
Solomon Ortiz
Steve Pearce
Nancy Pelosi
Mike Pence
Ed Perlmutter
Collin Peterson
Tom Petri
Chip Pickering
Joe Pitts
Todd Russell Platts
Ted Poe
Earl Pomeroy
Jon Porter
Tom Price
Deborah Pryce
Adam Putnam
George Radanovich
Nick Rahall
Jim Ramstad
Ralph Regula
Denny Rehberg
Dave Reichert
Rick Renzi
Silvestre Reyes
Laura Richardson
Ciro Rodriguez
Mike Rogers (AL)
Hal Rogers
Mike Rogers (MI)
Dana Rohrabacher
Ilena Ros-Lehtinen
Peter Roskam
Mike Ross
Ed Royce
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Paul Ryan
John Salazar
Bill Sali
Jim Saxton
Steve Scalise
Adam Schiff
Jean Schmidt
David Scott
F. James Sensenbrenner
Pete Sessions
Joe Sestak
John Shadegg
Christopher Shays
Brad Sherman
John Shimkus
Heath Shuler
Bill Shuster
Mike Simpson
Albio Sires
Ike Skelton
Adrian Smith
Chris Smith
Lamar Smith
Adam Smith
Vic Snyder
Mark Souder
Zack Space
John Spratt
Cliff Stearns
Bart Stupak
John Sullivan
Tom Tancredo
John Tanner
Ellen Tauscher
Gene Taylor
Lee Terry
Bennie Thompson
Mac Thornberry
Patrick Tiberi
Mike Turner
Mark Udall
Fred Upton
Tim Walberg
Greg Walden
Jim Walsh
Zach Wamp
Dave Weldon
Lynn Westmoreland
Ed Whitfield
Heather Wilson
Charlie Wilson
Joe Wilson
Rob Wittman
Frank Wolf
John Yarmuth
Don Young
C.W. Bill Young

Please contact your representatives before 9 AM tomorrow

It looks like the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 is going to be voted on in the next 24 hours.  Here is a good summary of why it is terrible.  Please contact your House and Senate representatives, tonight if possible.
  I hate to sound breathless or alarmist about this but it looks like we don’t have much time to make our voices heard.  Steny Hoyer seems to want a very quick vote.  Please - call, fax, email, do whatever you can.  Simon Owens has more on the kind of broad alliance that is starting to unite against it.

UPDATE: You can send two free faxes per day at http://faxzero.com/.  Send two tonight and two tomorrow.  Some suggestions:

Barack Obama (202) 228-4260
Steny Hoyer (202) 225-4300
Nancy Pelosi (202) 225-8259

Let ‘em hear  from you.

A judge working for a weaker judiciary

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled this week that the White House’s Office of Administration (OA) does not have to turn over documents relating to the disappearance of potentially millions of emails. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and in her decision Kollar-Kotelly wrote “the Court concludes that OA is not an agency subject to the FOIA”. CREW plans to appeal.

She acknowledged that until the administration decided otherwise “OA considered itself an agency subject to the FOIA and operated as such.” Why should a decades-long practice under Republican and Democratic administrations alike be so casually disregarded? Considering the reverence for precedents in the judicial system it would seem logical that longstanding conventions elsewhere would be granted some measure of respect. Instead she concludes that even though the OA always considered itself bound by FISA and responded accordingly, all that was required to end this long-running practice was for the current President to order it.

Such logic is fine in the abstract. There are lots of things we’ve done for long periods of time without ever having a formal blessing, and many of them would not stand up to official scrutiny. But principles are not formulated in a vacuum, nor should they be interpreted in one. The lawsuit sought to preserve an area of transparency from the government. The OA is by all accounts not some kind of top secret agency that deals in national security secrets. Releasing documents under FOIA may reveal embarrassing details of incompetence or corruption, and that would certainly be one reason for an administration to want to suppress them. But it also makes it even more important that responsiveness and openness be adhered to.

Consider the source for the lawsuit, too. How has the White House acted regarding routine access of information requests like this, or testimony of top officials, or willingness to share ordinary (but important) details on its decision making methods? It has generally acted with an unrivalled level of opacity. This is a group that does not want what it is doing to be visible to the public. Of course, based on what we have seen from them it appears there is good reason for them to want as little openness as possible, but why on earth would Kollar-Kotelly continue to enable such behavior?

Finally, think about it in simple terms of a turf battle. The judicial branch is confronted with an executive branch that does not respect it. It has relentlessly politicized the Justice Department and attempted to render terms like “voter fraud” and “civil rights” meaningless. It has tried to evade the courts by going to great lengths to stay beyond their jurisdiction - black sites, Guantánamo Bay, extraordinary rendition. (At what point do we start to ask the President what he finds so offensive about American soil?) Now in the wake of Boumediene they are indicating they will attempt to defy a ruling by the Supreme Court itself. Spokesman Tony Fratto said “[t]his was not a slam-dunk by the Supreme Court - this was a deeply divided decision - but there’s no question it has done damage to our ability to protect the country.” Or consider the President’s exchange with Adam Boulton:

BOULTON: But the Supreme Court have just said that — you know, ruled against what you’ve been doing down there.

THE PRESIDENT: But the district court didn’t. And the appellate court didn’t.

BOULTON: The Supreme Court is supreme, isn’t it?

THE PRESIDENT: It is, and I accept their verdict. I don’t agree with their verdict. And it’s not what I was doing down there. This was a law passed by our United States Congress that I worked with the Congress to get passed and sign into law.

BOULTON: But it looked like an attempt to bypass the Constitution, to a certain extent.

THE PRESIDENT: This was a law passed, Adam. We passed a law. Bypassing the Constitution means that we did something outside the bounds of the Constitution. We went to the Congress and got a piece of legislation passed.

Note how he gives weight to the district and appellate court rulings; notice how he emphasizes the law passed by Congress. He will not so much as lift a finger in response to this ruling. He will publicly ignore it and work to undermine it. This is the environment judges are ruling in. It would seem reasonable for them to take such casual contempt for the law by a petitioner into account, but clearly not all of them feel that way. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, this is the man you deferred to.

Blue America PAC vs Retroactive Immunity

Contribute here.  Glenn has details here.  I’ve added the PAC link to its own blogroll on the left hand side.