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The rise of Samuel Alito and the death of Coretta Scott King mark the end of an era and the abandonment of our civil rights legacy by both political parties.

So, now, the Bush Administration has given an official name to the war on terrorism. "Long War." Who knows if this term will stick? Last August, Bush reached for his dictionary and decided that GWOT ("The Global War on Terror") should become the "Global Struggle against violent extremism." That term lasted all of two days. This "long war" sounds a like lot like endless war to me. And that got me thinking about the ramifications, the consequences for our freedoms and liberties. After all, there have been other periods in American history when illegal spying has been committed, habeas corpus has been suspended, innocent civilians have been imprisoned, torture condoned, unprecedented secrecy invoked in the name of national security, and when the President has broken the law. But have they ever all happened at the same time? I don't think so. And if they have, they've never come with the promise that this song will remain for the rest of our natural lives. And, most important, other chapters of excess and overreach in our history have been followed by a period of regret, and then reform. But if this administration claims that we are engaged in a war without end (aka "long war"), does that also mean the war on our fundamental rights and liberties knows no end? I say we combat the idea that this is a "long war," (aka: endless war), or even a war at all. Let's come up with a definition that is a true and accurate one for the times we are living in. I welcome submissions.

Newly-selected House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is getting some remarkably good press, considering his remarkably sordid political pedigree.

ABC News referred to the grizzled veteran of Capitol Hill, who was elected to the House when George Bush the Dad was president and Democrat Tom Foley was the Speaker of the House, as a "fresh face." The network's report on the House Republican Caucus vote to select a replacement for the indicted Tom DeLay was headlined: "New Leader, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, Campaigned as a Reformer."

The Los Angeles Times announced, with no apparent sense of irony, that: "By choosing Boehner to fill DeLay's shoes in the House, the party hopes to move past scandals."

Rep. John Boehner, the Congressman of K Street, Sallie Mae, big tobacco and Jack Abramoff.

In other words, a fitting heir to Tom DeLay.

The antidote to President Bush's vapid and unrealistic repetition of increasingly dangerous delusions about everything from the continued occupation of Iraq to warrantless wiretapping to race-to-the-bottom trade policies did not come in the official Democratic response to the State of the Union address delivered by newly elected Governor Tim Kaine. (I teased blogger Ezra Klein about making fun of Kaine's looks, but I have to admit that I was slightly hypnotized by the Virginia governor's manic eyebrows and lullaby-like delivery. Ezra, good having that drink earlier this week to sort out our differences (few) and agreements (many)--substantive, aesthetic.)

I guess I now think the Dem leadership would have been better off tapping Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer if it wanted a "can-do-let's-work-together-solutions-oriented" governor.

The real alternative State of the Union address was delivered earlier on SOTU day by California Representatives Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) who gathered at an event organized by the caucus, The Nation and the Institute for Policy Studies to outline an ambitious agenda. It included a speedy withdrawal of troops from Iraq, universal health care, public financing of campaigns, earned amnesty for illegal immigrants, fair tax policies that actually create jobs and meet the needs of working Americans and the poor, debt relief for countries struggling with poverty or disease, and a real plan to end our addiction to oil.

FRA ANGELICO: NOT A BASEBALL

New York City

President Bush may have tried to claim a little bit of the legacy of Coretta Scott King with a warm and generous reference to her passing at the opening of his State of the Union address this week, but it should be remembered that Mrs. King was a foe of this president and a frequent critic of his abuses of power.

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mrs. King celebrated the anniversary of birth of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., by recalling that the slain civil rights leader had been outspoken in his opposition to unnecessary and unwise wars.

"We commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. as a great champion of peace who warned us that war was a poor chisel for carving out a peaceful tomorrow. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. Martin said, 'True peace is not just the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice,'" Mrs. King told a crowd that had gathered at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church. She continued, "May his challenge and his example guide and inspire us to seek peaceful alternatives to a war with Iraq and military conflict in the Middle East."

In Arthur & George, Julian Barnes mixes fact and fiction,
linking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a wrongfully convicted Victorian
author.

Lost Battalions tells the story of two US Army regiments of
the American Expeditionary Force, the struggle to buy citizenship
through the self-sacrifice of war.

Forty-two years later, assassination buffs continue to attack the
validity of the Warren Report.

The Justice Department meddled in a case against Jack Abramoff in Guam
in 2002; last week, Bush nominated the current Abramoff prosecutor to
the federal bench. Can the DOJ credibly continue this investigation?

Leaders of the Christian right are paying the price as evidence mounts
of their complicity in a sordid GOP gambling-industry scheme.

Scandals abound in the smoking remains of the Alexander Strategy
Group.

Despite his lies and incompetence, Bush remains more popular with elite
media than Clinton or any other political leader who sought to save us
from the Iraq catastrophe. Why won't they connect the dots?

Worry about the CIA's new Open Source Center, which aims to piece
together all sorts of unclassified information to create a broad
picture of where trouble is likely to arise.

Using cartoons, games and kid-friendly websites, the federal intelligence community is seeking to win the hearts and minds of America's children.

The widows of great men either gracefully retire from history's stage or take their own lonely road. Coretta Scott King had little hesitancy about carrying on her husband's work.

Democrats can capitalize on the current economic stall and gain control
of Congress with a return to bedrock principles: creating jobs,
restoring incomes and rescuing families from debt.

The Bush Administration has propagated five myths in its current
campaign to rationalize its illegal domestic spying program.

What if the West responded to Hamas's victory not with sanctions but
with a commitment to resume negotiations from where they left off in
2000?

Instead of Bush's imperial presidency, America needs the vision of
Congressional progressives: rapid withdrawal from Iraq, universal
healthcare, campaign reform and a shift to renewable energy.

Muslims across Europe have taken offense to the Dutch editorial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed; some countries have boycotted Danish goods and a few are up in arms--literally.