Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A tale of two constituencies

As you have no doubt heard by now, the Democratic Caucus in the Senate handed President Bush-Cheney a huge victory on Tuesday, passing the un-amended SSCI version of the FISA bill, 68 – 29.

Let me just remind everyone, because, frankly, it is sometimes hard to remember, that the Democrats are the majority party in the Senate.

This bill contains retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry, which, as previously explained, is really a “get out of jail free” card for the President and his henchmen. This bill also contains many other egregious planks that do more damage to our Constitution than any bill I could have ever imagined coming out of a supposedly democratic body. As Senator Chris Dodd put it, “We’ve just sanctioned the single largest invasion of privacy in American history."

That what passes for a Republican party voted in lock step to cover up this administration’s wrongdoings is not a surprise, but what can we say about the Democrats? Specifically, these Democrats:

Conrad, Rockefeller, Baucus, Webb, Kohl, Whitehouse, Bayh, Johnson, Bill Nelson, Mikulski, McCaskill, Lincoln, Casey, Salazar, Inouye, Ben Nelson, Pryor, Carper, and Landrieu.

I will also add Feinstein to this list. She voted against the final bill, but that was just a cover, since she voted for cloture—which was as good as signing off on it. Lieberman also voted with the coward caucus, but that’s no surprise.

Many of these same Dems voted for the Military Commissions Act back in 2006, and the last FISA “fix”—the Protect America Act—last year.

I would also like to nominate Majority Leader Harry Reid to this hall of shame, for if Reid had wanted to, he could have stopped this piece-of-crap bill (and the PAA, for that matter) cold. Reid made a big deal about his opposition to the SSCI version, but he ignored Chris Dodd’s hold on it, and allowed this bill to come to the floor ahead of the better Judiciary Committee draft. Shame!

It should also be noted that among the Presidential aspirants, Obama showed up to vote to strip telecom immunity from the bill, and voted against cloture—and I extend due thanks for those votes—but he left before the final roll call. Clinton missed all of the votes on Tuesday. And, John Asshole McCain—ever the maverick—didn’t show up, either.

Now that’s what I call leadership for the future!

I am surprised by the votes of Webb and Whitehouse. They are both over four years away from reelection and have been critics of the Bush Administration on other so-called “war on terror” issues—they should both know better.

As for most of the rest—oh, hell, ALL the rest—what were you thinking?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Polls show that voters are against telecom immunity and warrantless surveillance by solid margins. They despise and distrust George W. Bush even more. So, Senators, you clearly were not acting in the interests of the American people.

We also know that this bill does little (likely nothing) to enhance our nation’s ability to catch “potential terrorists” (whatever the fuck that is), but it gives the administration vast powers to do opposition research, limit a free press, and stifle dissent. So, Senators, you clearly were not acting to protect the nation or the Constitution.

And, as has been established, this version of the legislation lets the Bush bunch off the hook for what is now over six years of illegal behavior when it comes to domestic spying. So, you were clearly not acting to defend the rule of law.

So, what the fuck were you doing? Who the fuck are you working for?

Could it be that you really work for the telecommunications lobby?

Could it be that you harbor some vague future ambition?

Or, could it be that you are just acting out of stupidity or cowardice?

Really, I see no other options.

Of course, this exercise in incompetence/cowardice/greed is not quite over. There is still the superior House version of this bill to be dealt with in conference. There is a petition over at FDL asking House members to stand firm. If you have not yet seen it, please click on over and sign it. Then keep your ear to the ground—or whatever we do these days—and watch for another vote on something before the PAA expires on Friday. (And, I will continue to contend, simply letting the PAA expire would really be the very best option. I can dream, can’t I?)

As for all the Democrats that have failed us, I recommend that they pick up a paper and read about The Fourth Congressional District of Maryland, for it was there on Tuesday that progressive Donna Edwards beat eight-term Bush-dog Al Wynn in the Democratic primary.

Incumbents should now think long and hard about whom they really represent. Thanks to the increasingly sophisticated organizing skills of the grassroots and netroots, it not enough to simply label yourself a Democrat, grab a seat, and then hold on to it. Corporate money might have gotten you to where you are, but it will not always keep you there. Not any more.

Every one of the Democrats that help the Bush administration abrogate the Constitution, every one of you that votes for the rule of men over the rule of law, every one of you that chases the money instead of leading the way out of the last decade of darkness, you now have a time clock, and it is counting down to your next primary.

So, each of you, ladies and gentlemen of the United States Congress, the clock is ticking. It’s time to decide: which constituency do you represent?

(cross-posted on guy2k, Daily Kos, and The Seminal)

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