Republicans claim that Democratic filibustering of right-wing lawyer Miguel Estrada's nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is racist and anti-Latino, but some think that by forcing the issue the GOP also forces the Democrats to filibuster Bush's white judicial nominees (see nathannewman.org). A 55-44 vote March 6 fell five votes short of ending the filibuster as only four conservative Dems -- Sens. John Breaux (La.), Zell Miller (Ga.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) -- sided with the GOP in favor of Estrada, who was involved in the Whitewater probe and the 2000 lawsuit that let the Supreme Court place George W. Bush in the White House. Another candidate for a filibuster is Charles Pickering, the former segregationist from Mississippi whom Bush renominated for the 5th Circuit court, which hears cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, after the Democrats rejected him last year. Others include Deborah Cook and Jeffrey Sutton for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, John Roberts for the D.C. Circuit and Priscilla Owen for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.
PREDATOR RELIEF.The Georgia Legislature passed a bill that would gut the Georgia Fair Lending Act, which was adopted only last year to protect consumers from predatory loan practices, where a lender offers a mortgage loan with a deceptive interest rate and fees that make foreclosure likely. The one-year-old law was the strongest in the country, the Georgia Public Interest Research Group said, as it clearly defines predatory lending and holds accountable the lending agency that provided the loan. Almost immediately after Gov. Roy Barnes signed the bill into law last year, the national banking lobby started fighting the measure. In January, Standard & Poor's announced that it would no longer rate securities that include Georgia mortgages because the lenders faced unlimited liability. With a shift to Republican control of the Legislature, both chambers passed measures that would gut the consumer protections. Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue was expected to sign the bill. See www.aarp.org.
DRUGMAKER BANS PRICE BREAKS. Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is seeking to keep more than one million US seniors from accessing affordable prescription drugs from Canada, leading a coalition of 10 US and Canadian healthcare and business groups to work to reverse the ban. Consumers are asked to contact their legislators, complain to Glaxo's consumer hotline at 1-888-825-5249 (ext. 3 and 2 to speak to a live operator), and seek alternatives to Glaxo products, such as Aquafresh toothpaste, Contac cold medicine, Geritol iron supplement, Sominex sleep treatment and Tums antacid. While Glaxo claims it is "acting in the interests of patient safety" in refusing to supply Canadian pharmacies that sell to US customers, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association says the drugs ordered by and sent to US customers are the same quality as those originally imported for Canadian pharmacy patrons. See www.consumeraffairs.com/news03/glaxo_boycott.htm.
SAVAGE RESPONSE. Michael Savage, who has called on the Bush administration to "arrest the leaders of the antiwar movement" in case of war, also has threatened to jail critics of his new show on MSNBC, referring to them as "stinking rats who hide in the sewers." Noting that "we have a Republican president. We have a Republican attorney general," Savage suggested he would sic the government on his enemies. He also has issued thinly veiled threats of violence, saying he would release names and addresses of these "little hateful nothings" to his fans, according to Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (fair.org). The following companies purchased ads on his debut on MSNBC Saturday, March 8, according to mediawhoresonline.com. Let them know how you feel about their sponsoring Savage's incendiary rants: [Note: By March 10, four advertisers had promised to avoid Savage's show in the future.] Finishing Touch Trimmer: 1-800-219-8833; Preferred RX (supplier of prescription drugs, medical equipment, supplies), expressed regrets; Chef Wizard, 1-800-431-5406; Eloan.com (online lending, mortgage, home equity loans, etc.), 1-800-E-LOAN-22; Casual Male Big and Tall, expressed regrets; Sharper Image, 1-800-866-8676; Swiffer Duster (Procter & Gamble) expressed regrets; Dell Computer, 1-800-608-DELL; Puritans' Pride (direct sales of vitamins, herbal products) 1-800-645-1030. Kraft also expressed regret that ads for Gevalia, a mail-order coffee, appeared in some localities during the show.
HUMAN RIGHTS AMENDMENTS. US Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill., introduced legislation to grant every American a right to vote, public education and health care of equal high quality. He introduced HJR 28, a Voting Rights Amendment, to correct the lack of an explicit constitutional right to vote and have the vote counted; HJR 29 to guarantee "a public education of equal high quality" to every American; and HJR 30 to guarantee "health care of equal high quality." He also plans amendments on affordable housing; clean, safe and sustainable environment; employment; equal rights for women and taxation in a fair, progressive manner. Passing the amendments "all depends on the education and political consciousness of the American people," he said. See jessejacksonjr.com.
VEEP GETS TOUCHY. Vice President Dick Cheney's office gave a White House parody web site plenty of free publicity when a White House lawyer sent a letter asking www.whitehouse.org to remove a satirical biography and pictures of the vice president's wife, Lynne. After receiving the letter from Cheney's counsel, which web site creator John A. Wooden took as a threat, a red clown nose was added to Mrs. Cheney's photograph and one of her front teeth was blackened. New York Civil Liberties Union will defend the parody's posting in court if necessary, as spokesmanChristopher Dunn said, "[Cheney's office] should know better -- this is pure intimidation." Wooden's site parodies the official White House web site at www.whitehouse.gov.