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Who should be Gore's running mate?
Evan Bayh
Joe Biden
Barbara Boxer
Wesley Clark
Hillary Clinton
John Conyers
Howard Dean
Dick Durbin
John Edwards
Russ Feingold
Rush Holt
John Kerry
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Jack Reed
Harry Reid
Bill Richardson
Mark Warner
Someone else
Not sure
  
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Grassroots for Gore is a team blog of volunteer bloggers. The blog is neither authorized by Mr. Gore nor is affiliated with any of the organizations that he is a part of. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual authors and commenters.

Tuesday, January 24

What Tom Knapp says about Al Gore

I still say Gore would be a cinch in '08 ... and he talks like a guy who's running, even if he says he isn't.

Read and comment here.

Al Gore to Publish Book about Global Warming

Rodale Books today announced its agreement with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to publish a book about global warming entitled An Inconvenient Truth to be released in April 2006. Rodale Books President Tami Booth and Vice President and Executive Editor Leigh Haber acquired the book and audio rights in an agreement with Andrew Wylie of the Wylie Agency. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The book, to be edited by Leigh Haber, will be released in April and was announced at the screening of the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on January 24. In the film, Mr. Gore guides audiences through indisputable evidence of the environmental impact of global warming.

In the book, the former U.S. Vice President writes about global warming and shares his personal story about how the issue became of urgent importance to him. His 1992 book, entitled Earth In The Balance, was critically praised and became a national bestseller, establishing him as an expert and leading spokesperson on the issue. The subject has become increasingly vital to him in the intervening years.

Read and comment here.

Monday, January 23

Tracking the Al Gore Response

SusanHu has posted a great round-up on Gore over at bootrib.

We've covered Al's great speech (posted at Raw Story) in the week following, with these stories:

* "Al Gore's Triumph Gives Us Reason To Fight On,"
* "Gore Video & Media Reactions,"
* "What Al Said,"
* "Al Gore Speech Live-Blogging," and
* "Al Gore Speech: 9am PT/Noon ET."

Today, here are three more, thanks to Howie in Seattle:

* "Warmer Al Gore finds a new stump" from the LA Times reviews Al's performance in a 90-minute documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" and the reaction Al is receiving when he shows up at screenings.

* Howard Dean ... "We fully stand by Al's speech. He is a great American, and should have been President."-quoted in comments in this post last night on Howard-Empowered People. Reader Advisory: There is also a photo of a young, shirtless Howard Dean.

* From Pacific Views: "When Al Gore spoke this week, he showed what we should demand of our leaders: honesty and forthrightness.



Tags: , . ,


Read and comment here.

John Aloysius Farrell on Al Gore

Which raises the issue of Gore's own future. His speech was honed and polished, obviously well-rehearsed. Maybe he is contemplating a return to presidential politics.

Gore bridges divisions in the Democratic Party; he's as at home with conservatives as with lefties. He watches NASCAR, sings Nashville and speaks Ivy League.

Read and comment here.

Another blogger for Gore

Green Zombie’s blog

While I like Russ Feingold and Wes Clark, the irony of Gore coming back and winning the election again and cleaning up Bush’s mess would be great. Here’s a link to the video of Gore’s speach that has caused the momentum to shift to him for president.

Read and comment here.

Speech gives Gore a boost

From Avedon Carol we learn that his speech has boosted his popularity:

Gore's favorable ratings among Democrats increased from 64 percent to 77 percent among those who viewed it. Favorable ratings among Independents increased from 25 percent to 36 percent after viewing the speech. However, among Republicans, Gore's unfavorable ratings increased from 75 percent prior to viewing the speech to 81 percent after viewing it.

Read and comment here.

Sunday, January 22

Growing support for Gore

It's time to get serious about this draft Gore movement, people. I wasn't particularly impressed with him in 2000, but I respect tremendously everything he's done since the march to war started in 2002. Listening to him speak, one can't help but be impressed with his depth of knowledge, command of history, love for his country, and now, pure moral courage. I could go on and on here, but the bottom line is I don't think we will find a candidate who is smarter, more principled, more qualified or more electable!

So what can we do to make Gore's reported dream of being drafted to run for president a reality?

Read and comment here.

Friday, January 20

Al Gore, leading man?

To borrow a cliché from the Hollywood marketing playbook, the new global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" stars the former vice president as you've never seen him before.

Al Gore wheeling his own suitcase through airports, taking off his shoes and emptying his pockets at security. Al Gore firing up crowds with his one-man PowerPoint presentation show on arctic melt rates, devastating heat waves and dangerous changes in ocean currents.

Al Gore cracking jokes, reflecting candidly on his own foibles.

The failed presidential candidate doesn't immediately come to mind as the kind of charismatic star Hollywood might turn to to dramatize a pet cause. But his quest caught the attention of a group of filmmakers — among them "Pulp Fiction" producer Lawrence Bender — who have translated it to the screen in a documentary slated to premiere Tuesday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Read and comment here.

Thursday, January 19

OpEd (David Broder): Gore's Challenge


In a Washingon post OpEd on Thusday, David Broder gives his opinion about Gore's resounding DAR speech.

For those interested in reading or watching the speech (it's worth a second reading or viewing), the transcript and video are available here:
  1. speech transcript link
  2. full-length speech video can be found here
Below the flip, please find Mr. Broder's fairly positive take on Gore's speech. Here is a Daily Kos diary on Broder's editorial that appeared as I was drafting this post. I will be posting my own thoughts on Broder's arguments in a couple of days. Thanks.

Gore's Challenge

By David S. Broder
Thursday, January 19, 2006; Page A19

Former vice president Al Gore has turned himself into a one-man grand jury, ready to indict the Bush administration for any number of crimes against the Constitution. Whether you agree with Gore's conclusions or not, the speech that the 2000 Democratic nominee for president gave this week in Washington was as comprehensive a rundown of George W. Bush's ventures to the limits of executive authority as anyone could hope to find.

Gore is hardly an objective observer. Having outpolled Bush in the popular vote only to see his apparent victory taken from him by a divided Supreme Court, Gore cannot be expected to be dispassionate about the way Bush is operating as president. His speech is just an indictment. The proof of the charges can come only in congressional hearings and, ultimately, in the courts.


But even after discounting for political motivations, it seems to me that Gore has done a service by laying out the case as clearly and copiously as he has done. His overall charge is that Bush has systematically broken the laws and bent the Constitution by his actions in the areas of national security and domestic anti-terrorism. He is not the first to make that complaint. My e-mail has included many messages from people who have leaped far ahead of the evidence and concluded that Bush should be impeached and removed from office for actions they deem illegal.

Gore stops well short of that point and contents himself with citing the cases that cause many others concern. The first -- and to my mind weakest -- instance is the claim that Bush took the nation to war on the basis of false intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But there is no clear evidence as yet that Bush willfully concocted or knowingly distorted the intelligence he received about Saddam Hussein's military programs. Interpretations of that intelligence varied within the government, but the Clinton administration, of which Gore was an important part, came to the same conclusions that Bush did -- and so did other governments in the Western alliance.

It is a reach to attempt to make a crime of a policy misjudgment.

But the other cases Gore cited are more troubling. The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, for which only low-level military personnel have been punished, traces back through higher and untouched levels of command to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the White House, all of which failed in their duties to ensure that the occupation forces were adhering to recognized international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

Similarly, the administration's resistance to setting and enforcing clear prohibitions on torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism raises legitimate questions about its willingness to adhere to the rule of law. From the first days after Sept. 11, Bush has appeared to believe that he is essentially unconstrained. His oddly equivocal recent signing statement on John McCain's legislation banning such tactics seemed to say he could ignore the plain terms of the law.

If Judge Samuel Alito is right that no one is above the law, then Bush's supposition deserves to be challenged.

Gore's final example -- on which he has lots of company among legal scholars -- is the contention that Bush broke the law in ordering the National Security Agency to monitor domestic phone calls without a warrant from the court Congress had created to supervise all such wiretapping. If -- as the Justice Department and the White House insist -- the president can flout that law, then it is hard to imagine what power he cannot assert.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter has summoned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to a hearing on the warrantless wiretap issue, and that hearing should be the occasion for a broad exploration of the willingness of this administration to be constrained by the Constitution and the laws.

The committee should keep the attorney general on the witness stand as long as it takes -- as long as it spent examining the qualifications of Judge Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts, if it comes to that. The stakes for the country are that high.

Gore is certainly right about one thing. When he challenged the members of Congress to "start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be," he was issuing a call of conscience that goes well beyond any partisan criticism.

davidbroder@washpost.com



Read and comment here.

For American Democracy

I went to Constitution Hall last Monday to listen to Al Gore speak. What a good speech! Mr. Gore presented the NSA wiretapping fiasco, torture and extraordinary rendition in an interwoven manner that captured the stunning disregard this administration has to the Constitution and the rule of law.

Read and comment here.

Anatomy of a Smear

Al Gore "invented the Internet" - resources

Read and comment here.

About sums it up

Al Gore has guts; George Bush is nuts

Read and comment here.

Andy Ostroy says Gore is running

Make no mistake, Al Gore is running for president. Bet the farm on it. He's been running for some time now. And Monday's fire and brimstone speech, delivered on a day celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., should be a wake up call to every Democrat who's set his/her sights on the White House. Gore has more passion and more mojo than any of them, and has been front and center on a number of key issues including Iraq, the environment and executive power, aggressively taking on the president while others in the party are too afraid to go for the political jugular. And he's been exciting Democrats in ways Hillary Clinton and John kerry wish they could. His overall presentation and message is resonating extremely well with voters. He's The Comeback Kid.


I don't think Comeback Kid quite covers it. American Restoration would be closer to the mark.

Read and comment here.

Wednesday, January 18

(Updated) Draft Petition Being 'Freeped'

Note to folks visiting us from from the link in our Draft petition: some unknown malicious person is filling out fake and offensive signatures on our petition.

The attacker is relentless and persistent, making it impossible to delete the signatures in real-time.

We'd like to assure genuine signees that appropriate actions will be taken to prevent this attacker from spamming the petition. The interspersed legitimate signatures will be preserved.

Thank you for your patience and consideration.

Grassroots for Gore Team

UPDATE (1/21/06): It appears that the disruptive attacks by the prankster(s) have been addressed by the folks at care2.com, thepetitionsite.com that are hosting our Draft petition. We thank them for their help and for their ongoing contributions to activist communities.

Read and comment here.

Paul Craig Roberts says Gore Is Right

Former vice president Al Gore gave what I believe to be the most important political speech in my lifetime, and the New York Times, "the newspaper of record," did not report it. Not even excerpts.

For the New York Times, it was a nonevent that a former vice president and presidential candidate, denied the presidency by one vote of the Supreme Court, challenged the Bush administration for its illegalities, rending of the Constitution and disrespect for the separation of powers.

So much for "the liberal press" that right-wingers rant about. If a "liberal press" exists, the New York Times is certainly no longer a member.

The Washington Post had a short report on Gore’s address at Constitution Hall, but the newspaper, if that is what it is, managed to water down the seriousness and urgency of the message that Gore brought to the country with sneers.

Gore’s address is the first sign of leadership from the Democratic party in six years. This alone makes it a major news event. But not even his own party took notice. According to reports, only one Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein (CA) was in the audience. One would have thought the entire Democratic congressional delegation would have turned out in support of Gore’s challenge to Bush’s extraordinary claims of power.

The lack of an opposition party makes the media vulnerable to intimidation by a dictatorial-minded administration.

Read and comment here.

History has a funny way of tapping someone on the shoulder

In a passionate - yes, passionate - speech, the former vice president indicted George W. Bush for arrogating to himself powers that the Constitution does not confer on him or any other president. Gore accused the president of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act, of torturing prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions, of imprisoning Americans as enemy combatants without a charge.

Gore called for the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to investigate the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping, and he called on Congress to find the backbone to fulfill its constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch of government and check its power.

We believe that Gore is right, both in his analysis and in his proposed remedies. We second his call for a special counsel to investigate his claim - an absurd claim, in our view - that Congress' authorization of the use of military force in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 gave the president the inherent power to violate the Bill of Rights and the FISA statute.

Read and comment here.

The best hope we have of taking back America

Frankly, to my mind he is no longer a politician but a statesman. He has a unique place in American politics that I am sure no one would wish to trade with him, but the events that have brought him there obviously have--I must repeat, as there seems no other way to say it--transformed him. He has gone through political Hell and survived, and more remarkable still, has gained immeasurably from it.

No other possible candidate from either party is his equal. They are all beholden to just the sorts of interest groups and political calculations, the obvious insincerity, that alienates and repulses voters and in the end leads to voter disaffection and alienation. Even the so-called invincible McCain looks like a tawdry panderer in comparison.

Put bluntly, Al Gore has nothing left to lose. He already did. He can't be swift-boated; it would look grotesque. He has been freed to speak his mind, his principles, and that gives him an amazing power. He makes all the others, of both parties, look like the petty pols they are.

He is the best hope we have of taking back America.

Read and comment here.

Gore looks like a leader because he is a leader

Avedon Carol

Note that Clinton and Kerry, both of whom want to claim the mantel of leadership for the Democratic Party, have been pretty quiet about this issue until Al Gore spoke up about it.

Despite the fact that the Clintons were the ones who were supposed to deliver healthcare, Al Gore was the first to mention single-payer. Gore was also the first high-profile Democrat to make the case against invading Iraq. Up until now, the Democratic leadership has carefully ignored Gore, partly because they were too cowardly to agree with positions which were clearly right but not popular among the Washington blitherati, but mainly because acknowledging that Gore is right (when they have been wrong) would have threatened their own ambitions for the presidency.

But this week Gore was too hard to ignore, and so clearly right that even these climbers were forced to agree with him. Gore has been showing the leadership that these people lack, and they are falling behind him in spite of themselves, because he is a leader.

Look, the GOP works hard to dismiss Gore, to call him crazy, to marginalize him, and it's helped to convince some Democrats that he's not someone they need to pay attention to. Meanwhile, please note that the GOP works not nearly as hard to attack Clinton, consistently playing her up as the incipient party nominee for the presidential race in '08. Why do you think they're doing that?

They're a lot more afraid of Gore than they are of Hillary, and not without good reason. Hillary looks like a panderer because she is pandering, but not showing any real leadership. Gore is the leader, and Gore has that one big thing that voters have complained is missing from other candidates: passionate commitment to what he is saying - honesty. Gore is the real thing and that's getting harder and harder to hide. He is obviously not pandering. Even a few members of the press may start to get it soon. I'll be interested to see if MoDo has another column about how Gore is boring.

Read and comment here.

Tuesday, January 17

Whether he wants it or not

Al Gore MUST Run for President in 2008

Read and comment here.

Blogosphere respond's to Gore's speech


Read and comment here.

Gore spoke as a patriot

Lisa Brown of the American Constitution Society opened the event by asking Gore to enter, whereupon there was a standing ovation. After Gore sat down, Brown reminded the audience that Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of government spying. She emphasized that liberty is not a partisan issue and went on to introduce Bob Barr. Barr was scheduled to introduce Al Gore via video feed, but there was a technology glitch that spoiled the effect, so Michael Ostrolenk introduced Gore.

There was a thunderous applause and standing ovation as Gore rose and crossed to the podium. Gore began by thanking the Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society. He acknowledged distinguished guests including Senator Feinstein.

Gore said that while he and Bob Barr disagreed on many things (general laughter) they did agree on the risk posed by an expansive executive. He said it was imperative that the rule of law be restored. Gore said, “That is why I have come to Constitution Hall and went on to say that Martin Luther King Day was an appropriate occasion for such remarks.

Gore reminded the audience that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been the victim of government spying, saying that the FBI had called King the “most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country” and vowed to “take him off his pedestal.” The Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) had been written as a response to those abuses. Gore said he had voted for FISA and that it had worked well for thirty years.

He said that "Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States.” without any search warrants or any new domestic law.

Gore pointed out that Bush had gone out of his way to reassure Americans that constitutional protections were being preserved. In a slightly satiric voice Gore said, “But surprisingly, the President’s soothing statements turned out to be false." to general laughter. When the New York Times reported the abuses, the President brazenly asserted that he had those powers.

Gore observed that a President who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our founding fathers made a government of laws, not men. A President not bound by laws of the legislature or the check of the judiciary becomes a threat to our system of government.

Gore repeatedly pointed out that adherence to the rule of law strengthens our democracy and America. He pointed out that lack of openness and honesty had led to mistakes such as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Iraq War. He concluded that America was “better off knowing the truth” to thunderous applause.

He said that, “the President and I agree that the threat of terror is all to real; where we disagree is that we have to break the law” to protect the country. Once the rule of law is broken, lawlessness grows, and democracy itself is threatened. Gore said, “Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.” Gore reminded us that the Attorney General must have known such surveillance was illegal because he conferred with members of congress asking for new legislation as was turned down; so how can they now argue that their actions had been legal all along?

When Congress denied the President these powers, he secretly assumed them anyway.

These abuses are part of a larger pattern of disregard for the constitution. The President has assumed the power to seize and imprison any American, deny him access to a lawyer, even to imprison him the rest of his life without even bringing charges. And here, in a low, angry voice, Gore said, “No such right exists”.

Here Gore came to what I regard as the most moving part of his speech, which dealt with torture. I can only quote it directly:

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.

This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then – until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.

The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan – one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons – registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: “This material is useless – we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful.”

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is “yes” then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can’t he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch’s claims of these previously unrecognized powers: “If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.”

The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.


When Gore said he reserved the right not to comply there was general laughter.

Gore reviewed the times in our history when we strayed from the Bill of Rights: The Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the Palmer Raids, the internment of Japanese Americans, and the COINTELPRO program; but observed in each case we had restored rights under the law and learned from the experience.

He described the expansion of executive power during the cold war and the increased danger the present administration poses by putting us on a war footing that will last, in the administration's words, “for the rest of our lives”. Gore then went on to describe the danger posed by new technology in eavesdropping and surveillance.

Gore repeatedly acknowledged the danger of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He went on to say that there is an inherent power in the Presidency to respond to threats that cannot be precisely legally defined. However, the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.

This is not just another cycle of overreach and regret. The administration proponents have put for a, “theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president’s powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition.” Bush has pushed this theory to the max and when added to the idea of perpetual war, “the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.”

The common denominator is an instinct to intimidate and control.

Gore compared the current suppression on dissenting voices in the CIA with the previous suppression of dissenting voices in the FBI during Hoover’s era:

Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover’s view that Dr. King was closely connected to Communists. The head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division said that his effort to tell the truth about King’s innocence of the charge resulted in he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured. “It was evident that we had to change our ways or we would all be out on the street…. The men and I discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in school. They lived in fear of getting transferred, losing money on their homes, as they usually did. … so they wanted another memorandum written to get us out of the trouble that we were in.


In a proper system the court acts as an umpire, the administration has attempted to thwart this by appointing compliant judges. The President’s domestic spying program is a direct challenge to the power of the courts.

Gore said the most serious challenge was to the legislature, which now operates as if it were completely subservient to the executive. Now members spend the majority of there time on raising money for thirty second commercials, “and they’re not the federalist papers” (general laughter). There have now been two or three generations of congress where who don’t know what a true oversight hearing looks like.

Gore said both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for failing to protest a clearly unconstitutional program. He said, “I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution.” to a sustained, thunderous, standing ovation. Gore said over the ovation, “Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you’re supposed to be.” Again and again Gore spoke over applause, over even standing ovations. He was not a candidate. He spoke as an American patriot.

He reminded that audience that we the people are the key to the survival of American democracy. We must examine our own role in the decay of our democracy.

Gore spoke about the administration’s use of fear to short-circuit debate. He endorsed the words of Bob Barr who said, “The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will.”

Gore called for:

A special counsel to investigate serious violations of the law by the President

Strengthened whistle-blower protection laws

Serious, not superficial, hearings into abuses of power by the President. To follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Under no circumstances should the patriot act be extended without proper constitutional protections.

Telecommunications companies must cease and desist any complicity with administration domestic spying without a proper warrant.

Freedom of the Internet must be preserved.

He said that there was reason for hope and he could feel it in the hall.

Gore closed by quoting Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.


Watching Gore speak you could only be reminded of Ben Franklin’s words upon being asked what sort of government the Constitutional Conventionhad produced, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Video Highlights of Gore's Speech

Read and comment here.

Monday, January 16

This was not a campaign speech

Today Al Gore gave a speech that was a call to action to American citizens to defend the constitution. Speaking to an audience at DAR Constitution Hall that was 75% full, Gore gave a speech laying out how Bush has set himself up as a tyrant. He specifically called on members of the House and Senate to uphold your oath of office.

His voice was nothing like when he was candidate, instead he spoke mostly on a low tone, sometimes with righteous anger. He had clearly made a decision to speak thought the applause lines in keeping with the seriousness of his purpose.

I will give a further report later.

Text of prepared remarks.

Read and comment here.

Gore's Speech Today: Transcript and Video Link

Al Gore delivered a powerful speech today at the DAR Constitution hall in Washington DC. Please read the transcript below the flip, but you may also watch the speech video at C-Span (scroll down to locate the video link under the "Recent Programs" tab).
The transcipt follows, courtesy of a gnostic's diary at Daily Kos. Two of our team members attended the speech today, and will be most likely be posting diaries on the event within the next day or so.
Former Vice President Al Gore:

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.




It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.

Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection."

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense" ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that "the law is king."

Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that those who govern us operate within our constitutional structure, which means that our democratic institutions play their indispensable role in shaping policy and determining the direction of our nation. It means that the people of this nation ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating in secret without constraint.

The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.

The President and I agree on one thing. The threat from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no question that we continue to face new challenges in the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.

Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable.

Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police it. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws.

The President's men have minced words about America's laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."

This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure case.

It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.

This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.

The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons - registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: "This material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful."

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.

Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.

A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch's handling of one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment of principle "at substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts."

As a result of its unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for America's representative democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized.

These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation.

For more than two centuries, America's freedoms have been preserved in part by our founders' wise decision to separate the aggregate power of our government into three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check and balance the power of the other two.

On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction among all three branches has resulted in collisions and temporary impasses that create what are invariably labeled "constitutional crises." These crises have often been dangerous and uncertain times for our Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common agreement to live under the rule of law.

The principle alternative to democracy throughout history has been the consolidation of virtually all state power in the hands of a single strongman or small group who together exercise that power without the informed consent of the governed.

It was in revolt against just such a regime, after all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate question being decided in the Civil War was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving our union but also was recognizing the fact that democracies are rare in history. And when they fail, as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in their place is another strongman regime.

There have of course been other periods of American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents.

When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."

Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of others.

But in each of these cases, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, the country recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

There are reasons for concern this time around that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and counter intelligence activities and to allocate our military forces on the global stage. When military force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost always been as the result of presidential initiative and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the Steel Seizure Case, "The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority."

A second reason to believe we may be experiencing something new is that we are told by the Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to "last for the rest of our lives." So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other Presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity.

Third, we need to be aware of the advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence. This adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the same time as the potential power of those technologies. These techologies have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.

Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional terror strikes is all too real and their concerted efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power that is conferred by the Constitution to the President to take unilateral action to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat, but it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.

But the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.

There is a final reason to worry that we may be experiencing something more than just another cycle of overreach and regret. This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.

This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress. President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.

This effort to rework America's carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world.

The common denominator seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.

This same pattern has characterized the effort to silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch, to censor information that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity from all Executive Branch employees.

For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases.

Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover's view that Dr. King was closely connected to Communists. The head of the FBI's domestic intelligence division said that his effort to tell the truth about King's innocence of the charge resulted in he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured. "It was evident that we had to change our ways or we would all be out on the street.... The men and I discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in school. They lived in fear of getting transferred, losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ... so they wanted another memorandum written to get us out of the trouble that we were in."

The Constitution's framers understood this dilemma as well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, "a power over a man's support is a power over his will." (Federalist No. 73)

Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet's CIA eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the government of Iraq.

In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has.

Moreover, if the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President's attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.

The same instinct to expand its power and to establish dominance characterizes the relationship between this Administration and the courts and the Congress.

In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure that the branches of government observed their proper spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those challenging its ability to detain individuals without legal process -- by appointing judges who will be deferential to its exercise of power and by its support of assaults on the independence of the third branch.

The President's decision to ignore FISA was a direct assault on the power of the judges who sit on that court. Congress established the FISA court precisely to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to ensure that the court could not function as a check on executive power, the President simply did not take matters to it and did not let the court know that it was being bypassed.

The President's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.

And the Administration has supported the assault on judicial independence that has been conducted largely in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the Republican majority in the Senate to permanently change the rules to eliminate the right of the minority to engage in extended debate of the President's judicial nominees. The assault has extended to legislative efforts to curtail the jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of its actions at every turn.

But the most serious damage has been done to the legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.

I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938, 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in 1971.

The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.

Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.

There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.

The role of authorization committees has declined into insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is lumped into a single giant measure that is not even available for Members of Congress to read before they vote on it.

Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.

In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"

In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.

And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give; and, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization.

So the willingness of Congress to challenge the Administration is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.

The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.

Look for example at the Congressional role in "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed Congress, but what he really means is that he talked with the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of the House and Senate. This small group, in turn, claimed that they were not given the full facts, though at least one of the intelligence committee leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and placed a copy in his own safe.

Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.

Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.

The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.

It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.

But there is yet another Constitutional player whose pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to dominate our constitutional system.

We the people are-collectively-still the key to the survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it, "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and degradation of our democracy.

Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."

The revolutionary departure on which the idea of America was based was the audacious belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government. This insight proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of the governed."

The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional system that is now in such danger was created with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was the people - in their various States - that refused to confirm the result until, at their insistence, the Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent forward for ratification.

And it is "We the people" who must now find once again the ability we once had to play an integral role in saving our Constitution.

And here there is cause for both concern and great hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by television - a distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined to entertain and sell more than it informs and educates.

Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

Forty years have passed since the majority of Americans adopted television as their principal source of information. Its dominance has become so extensive that virtually all significant political communication now takes place within the confines of flickering 30-second television advertisements.

And the political economy supported by these short but expensive television ads is as different from the vibrant politics of America's first century as those politics were different from the feudalism which thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in the Dark Ages.

The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the other branches can't check an abuse of power if they don't know it is happening.

For example, when the Administration was attempting to persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised concerns about the cost and design of the program. But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it sought from the principal administration expert who had compiled information showing in advance of the vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far higher than the numbers given to Congress by the President.

Deprived of that information, and believing the false numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now collapsing- all over the country- with the Administration making an appeal just this weekend to major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.

To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political appointee in the White House who had no scientific training. And today one of the leading scientific experts on global warming in NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and control his discussions of global warming.

One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President.

Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy.

It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.

I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."


Read and comment here.

Friday, January 13

Gore to deliver scathing speech Monday on 'constitutional crisis' in D.C.

Tivo and VCR alert! Let us pray that C-Span will broadcast Gore's speech. This could well be a watershed moment - for the country and for our candidate.

I also hope that some of our more high-visibility posters on dkos will diary this. Al is going to give them hell. I can't wait!

Read and comment here.

Tuesday, January 10

Gov. fires top aide over remarks made at Gore event

I cannot help but feel that the republicans are really afraid of an Al Gore candidacy for President. They know he'd win and unite the country. Just look at what they've done to someone who speaks up and tells the truth. This is an interesting story and it also shows how weak Arnold Schwarzenegger is, and afraid he will lose his base of support.

Here's an older article about Gore, check it out if you have not read it. And, let me know what you think of it.

Read and comment here.

Sunday, January 8

Howard Dean on CNN Today

"Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" was broadcasting live from Israel today. Blitzer had Howard Dean on the program and they discussed what’s happening politically here in the United States. Dean definitely got the better of Blitzer. Blitzer wanted to pin Dean down that the Democrats were somehow involved with this Abramoff lobby scandal. Dean was very well primed for this line of questioning and was able to make the republicans look really really bad about the entire issue. They have become the party of corruption and they were not able to shake that label with Blitzer. Dean knew how to respond because the Dean Party Organization has done its homework and demonstrated that not one penny has gone to the Dems from republican Jack Abramoff. This is a Republican Party scandal - 100%.
There is one thing I would like to see all dems say when they are on TV or in front of a group. That is to reiterate that the GOP controls everything in Washington, DC. They govern the House and Senate, the Executive branch of Government, plus they control the courts. So, if the American people don’t like the direction of the country they know whom to blame! It is the GOP that’s in control and has messed things up!!

Read and comment here.

Gore won Florida by 30,000 votes!

Lance Dehaven-Smith is a professor in the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. He has long been deeply immersed in the politics of Florida, and has just published a book through University Press of Florida entitled "The Battle for Florida:An Annotated Compendium Of Materials From The 2000 Presidential Election."


Read the rest. Excellent analysis.

Please contact your local newspaper and ask them to review the book. You might also contact your favorite radio and/or TV news show and ask them to interview Dehaven-Smith.

Read and comment here.

Wednesday, January 4

Gore documentary surfaces

A short documentary showing a more personal side of Al Gore and shot during his failed 2000 presidential election bid has recently become available to the public.

The 13-minute film shows Gore at his family home in Carthage, Tenn., resting before entering the last sprint of the election. It captures Gore the family man, surrounded by his daughters, grandchildren, wife and mother; and includes shots of Gore bodysurfing in the North Carolina coast and dismissing the Mel Gibson film The Patriot at the dinner table.


For more information, visit www.wholphindvd.com.

Read and comment here.

They still fear him

Avedon Carroll does not understand why the press will not admit Al Gore is a strong Presidential contender. Because the celebrity press corps have a vested interest in ignoring Gore.

Will Al Gore Run? Meet The Press Doesn't Think So; Fails to Make Their Top '08 List

As we've said several times in this blog, Gore stands as good a chance as any based on his proven electability (he did win the popular vote); his firm anti-war position from the get-go; his unrivaled 20+ year environmental leadership; his stewardship with Bill Clinton over 7 years of unprecedented economic prosperity; and his skeleton-less closet (he's already been vetted several times). He's the comeback kid; the New Nixon. And he's more viable in our opinion than those that Russert mentioned, including, yes, Hillary. Only Warner has the makings of a candidate who could achieve some broad national crossover appeal.


Nobody understands our times better than Al Gore. Why would we settle for anyone else?

Read and comment here.

Draft Gore Petition