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August 03, 2007


I agree with Mary down below, that the crisis at the time of the hospital visit, and now are due to the criminal exposure of various parties who want their get out of jail free card before vacation so they can relax while they work on their backlog of Tom Clancy novels and their tans.

As Kagro says over at Kos, it is hard to see how Senators who were talking about getting rid of Gonzales could give him the authority to determine probable cause. This stampeding is NEVER good. Everytime Congress has let itself be stampeded, they have regretted it, and this is about to happen again. What are they thinking? How can they be so afraid of Mr 28% and his band of unfavorables?

On my lunch hour, I got on CSPAN, and there is quite a debate going on in the House right now about the FISA bill.

I sure want to believe that congressional leadership knows what it is doing in relation to this matter, but I am still at a loss as to why it is so important to take care of right now, other than to save Bush's rearend... I suspect that Dems and Repubs are equally complicit in some ways for the situation that exists, and everyone is trying to avoid having the finger pointed at them. It also explains, perhaps, why the Democratic leadership is so willing to cave in to Bush.

Congress is dead set on taking its August recess. Chimpy is making noises that unless he gets his FISA bill, he will not let Congress take its vacation. WAH! He does not think he is subject to congressional oversight; why should Congress be concerned about his whims?

I said it last night, and I will say it again: Congress is going to be the big loser here if it takes it "much-needed" vacation. If it passes the FISA bill in a hurry and without adequate safeguards so that it can get out of town, it loses. If Gonzo resigns and Bush makes a recess appointment, they are going to have hell accomplishing anything further. We, the public, will never know what misdeeds have taken place in this administration despite our having a Constitution that was supposed to protect us from that. Obviously, the Constitution is irrelevant the way things stand.

Congress is making itself irrelevant if it takes its recess and leaves DC in Bush's hands. If it caves in to the incessant demands to have a FISA bill, Congress becomes irrelevant, and little more than a rubber-stamp body that we thought we had done away with at the last election.

I don't like the looks of this at all...

This entire fabricated "crisis "is nothing but a smokescreen to further eorde our protections against civil rights violations. Two days before recess suddenly the impending fall of civilization raises its ugly head if they aren't allowed unfettered access to all American citizen's correspondence? Give me a break.
Bush is threatening to keep Congress in session if they don't cave to him? Good, keep them there. That will keep him from sneaking through any recess appointments.

WTF? Does Chimpy have the power to tell congress they have to stay in session?

Ironic isn't it that he's the guy who took 12 months off in his first 4 years (after all, the Big Dick is doing all the work).

WTF on the mindlessness of the Dems here? Jeebers, it never ends. At any rate, I had a question, and a nice and interesting little story, that I posted at the end of the last thread. It is to long to repost here, but if any are looking for something to do while the activity is light here, please take a look.

linkies you wanted on last thread (or some of them)

bmaz, that's the kind of story that makes my chest hurt. What the hell happened to my country?!? I want it back. Right now.

So help me, if Dems cave on FISA, I'll start sending campaign contributions to any challengers that will take the incumbents on. I felt screwed and helpless when the Rethugs pushed through the MCA and the Dems failed to stop it. But being screwed and feeling helpless with Dems perfectly capable of stopping this train wreck is much much worse.

I think Bush pushing and telling Congress not to go on recess is a Red Herring.

He wants them to go on recess, so he's putting an irresistable little idea that they can thumb their noses at him by leaving town.

Then he does his recess appointment, and says "Congress showed no respect when they left town without passing critical legislation, I can't be expected to wait on them for anything, so I'm doing a recess appointment."

It's play with the wingnuts, but it's a trick. Jr. High psycology and it may work.

Over at TPM they are saying the talks have collapsed between the WH and Congress. WooHoo! Now hopefully, the Dems will proceed in a sane fashion, at a measured pace in crafting a piece of legislation that preserves the 4th amendment and the role of the courts.

My God -- Pete Hoekstra is an ass. I am a veteran who is beyond tired of the constant drumbeat of "for the troops" attached to proposals that are deeply anti-American.

I just called Hoekstra's office but I fear I don't have the temperament to keep making calls -- my blood pressure just won't take it. From a constitutional standpoint, it feels like we are standing on Omaha Beach today.

TPM is now saying that Congress and DNI McConnell had a compromise worked out, and the WH refused to go along. Shrub is claiming it's the fault of Congress: Yet Another Bush Lie.

BMAZ, I enjoyed your story... I vaguely remember when that took place, but did not know all the ins and outs of it. And, you make an excellent point.

I just came from over on TPM and there is a piece up that Bush killed the deal (even though McConnell was okay with it, apparently!). Do you get the impression that there is some major manipulation going on? Either that, or Bush is so scared of what he has gotten himself into that he does not know what to do next.

I just hope that the Democratic leadership will keep Congress in session so that Bush cannot make any recess appointments...

I really hope that the Dems (guys like Jay Rockefeller) don't give in to Cheney's scaremongering and amend FISA without serious contemplation and debate. And when they do amend FISA they should seriously strengthen protections on civil liberties and only permit warrants based on strict constructions of probable cause. And they should have enforceable penalties that are meaningful including personal liability when citizen's privacy are violated.

But there's something about the Dems when it comes to dealing with Cheney and the Repubs - they go slow and deliberate when it comes to impeaching Cheney and AbuG for abuse of power and obstruction of justice but bend over with alacrity when handing over even more power to these same guys who shred the constitution every chance they get. Anyone got a clue if its the water they drink or is it a genetic malfunction?

Here's one thing that keeps rubbing me the wrong way - Does no one see how absurd it is when the "it could take two years for a full withdrawl." comment is offered. They continually talk about how much equipment is there, and sure there's a lot of stuff over there, but it sure as hell didn't take two years to get it in place. Why the hell would it take two years to get it out.

As I recall, we faced a real army when taking it in. Now a few punk insurgents are going to cause it to take two years to get it out. Bulllllll Shit.

Sojourner - I do get that impression. I have tried to no avail to come up with a suitable analogy or proper words to describe the feeling I get about the state of the WH currently. Kind of a strange mix of continued ignorant arrogance, desire to hurt Dems even if they look like idiots doing it, and desperation lashing out psychotically. The gig is up, but they won't admit it or stop digging deeper in the hole. When criminals on a spree start acting like this, people in the justice system say "things are closing in and they are getting careless".

The AP article in the afternoon NYT seems to sway the issues over FISA too radically in favor of the administration on several key points. It also highlights Ms. Feinstein’s unparalleled ability, if accurately quoted, to put her foot in it.

The AP article implies that the FISA law hasn’t been updated since 1978. In fact, it’s been updated repeatedly. Bush has previously insisted FISA didn’t need to be updated and hasn’t really explained why it should be now, much less made the case for doing so “urgently”. The AP article asserts, like Sen. Trent Lott, that August is a particularly vulnerable time for terrorist attacks, especially, apparently, in Washington. I’d like to see some stats on that. First, there are far easier people and infrastructure targets in America than Washington, DC. Second, the risk described here is statistical and not tied to specific threats. All of which undercuts the claimed urgency inherent in Mr. Bush’s “emergency” appeal.

Dubya, BTW, is fond of “emergency” measures. He uses “emergency” supplemental bills to fund his Iraq war, a device that allows him to dodge detailed Congressional review of the tab and to avoid aggregating its costs so as to understate them. It’s also a negotiating technique. Because the overall Pentagon budget is considered separately, it’s much harder to dicker over requests, to exchange cutting the funding on, say, three destroyers, a sub and carrier in exchange for a few months’ war-making in Iraq.

But back to FISA. Bush frequently hides behind someone presumed to be competent. In this instance, he says he’ll veto a bill if his national intelligence director doesn’t like it. First, he already threatened to veto a bill his director had negotiated. Second, his intelligence director does not operate in a vacuum; Bush’s statement distracts from his own considerable power as the “boss” to make clear what he expects his intelligence director to do.

The AP article also repeatedly says the president needs to amend FISA so that he can spy on his targets without having to wait for a court to approve it. FISA already permits that. That is, so long as the administration has the facts to obtain a warrant afterwards. The administration doesn’t want to climb even that low hurdle. In effect, the law says that Mr. Bush should know which boater is a legitimate target before he stops him or her. Mr. Bush wants to stop all the boat traffic on the river without knowing which boater is a legitimate target and whether their boat is registered in New York or Ontario. Oh, and he doesn’t want to be liable for anything, no matter how recklessly he acts.

More dangerously, the AP article highlights that the Democrats are failing to make their case that this debate is about ensuring that there are necessary limits on presidential power – and making sure that any exercise of that power is held to account. It’s not just about protecting civil rights.

Diane Feinstein, for example, is quoted as objecting to the president moving “too boldly”. Jumpinjimminycricket! When will Feinstein hire a competent pr hack? Proctor & Gamble must have about a thousand sales people who could do a better job than her current staff. Her quote fed right into Karl Rove’s talking points as readily as any from Kneepads Lieberman. The issue is the president’s recklessness, not his "boldness". The issue is his demand that he not be held accountable, no matter how incompetent or reckless his behavior.

There are a lot of people that will be replaced if we get elections again. feinstein supports a nominee from bush, blackmail or a collaborator? either way, disgusting.
this is getting obvious.

What's up with the Dems?

"A bill that House Democrats put forward today does not require the National Security Agency to seek warrants for surveillance of persons inside the United States -- only that the Attorney General will issue "guidelines" as to how collecting the communications of U.S. persons should operate."

On the one hand they keep up the kabuki with Gonzo and at the very same moment they talk out of the other side of their mouths making the USA a police state where any citizen's communications can be tapped without any warrants or probable cause.

Why does the progressive blogosphere tolerate these guys?

An excellent question ab initio...

My early relief at the news of the collapse of the talks has been replaced by dismay and anger that the G-- D--- Dems F------ CAVED IN AGAIN.

What is wrong with these people?!? This is beyond all reason... Our republic is slipping away before our eyes, and all the phone calls, emails, letters, petitions, logic and persuasion fall on obstinately deaf ears.

We need to put up primary challengers against every Dem incumbent that kowtows to the King. Lets start with Nancy and Harry shall we?

One quick parliamentary question for anyone who can answer it...

How is it possible that Ted Stevens can put a hold on the ethics bill, but Feingold couldn't put a hold on the FISA bill. Is it because there is some parliamentary rule that prevented him from doing so, or was it yet another case of choosing to keep his powder dry?

-- How is it possible that Ted Stevens can put a hold on the ethics bill, but Feingold couldn't put a hold on the FISA bill. --

Feingold could have objected to taking up the bill, proceeding with the vote, and/or the deal to vote on the two bills side by side - or could have objected to ALL of those steps. But the deal was that either bill needed 60 to pass, and if Feingold had objected to the vote, the same 60 votes could overcome his objection via the mechanism of cloture.

So, as a practical matter, and in the interests of comity (not wanting to keep the Senate in session for a few days, twiddling its thumbs while the clock ran to satisfy his ability to "place a hold"), he said his piece, and let the other Senators do the will of the Senate.

It seems that the Senate has caved to Junya's threats and passed the McConnell (R) version of the FISA Update.

Now the only hope is in the House, but I ain't holding my breath there.

Now to do a little snooping and find out which Senate Dems sold us down the river.

BMAZ, we were out at a wedding so I am just getting back to the thread. I am appalled that the Senate Dems have caved. The only thing that I can perceive here is FEAR -- of Cheney? of Bush? Someone has these people by the balls and is pulling the strings HARD.

Bush reminds me a lot of a guy I used to work for. Everything was a crisis, and that was how he lived. He saw himself to be dynamic, when everyone around him only perceived him to be an idiot. He could not understand why people abandoned him, or put so much distance from him. But, Bush is doing his own frantic dance right now -- and I sense fear coming from him.

So, who is pulling the Dem's strings so hard? Does Rove have the goods on everyone from the previous wiretapping? Something just is not making sense.

Dang. As the need arises, maybe JamesB3 can entertain us with one of his worry rants. Or the unubiquitous DHinMI can contribute something. Whatever happened to Plutonium Page?

Sojourner and others- What do you think the betting line is on whether Cheney/Bush "has something" on the Dems (by the balls is the quote I recall) versus timid uselessness having just become ingrained in the DNA of the Dem leaders and they are just being played yet again? I got it at a 50:50 proposition. Same lame result either way I suppose.

My money's on a combination of the two. I think there is definately an extortion - we all know dirt on each other element with several key dems. Then the rest of them it's just ballessness.

No telling what kind of bullying is going on. Which brings to mind justice O'conner. I always thought it a little strange that she retired when she did. Seemed so unmotivated, so early, and so out of nowhere. My gut has always told me she was somehow threatened into retirement. I can't imagine that she would have been so selfish as to do so when she did for purely personal reasons. She had to know what stripe of troglodyte would replace her.

Dems just need to air their dirty laundry. Allowing oneself to be extorted is a form of cowardace as well. We need brave patriots at the moment - I can't imagine a single national officeholder today saying, "as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

Well Murtha might - He's a pretty tough ol cod. And I think John Kerry might. He's got more balls than people give him credit for. Feingold is plucky from time to time, but Death? Hell, most of these guys wither at the idea of losing their office.

When are the dems going to realize that the people will support a guy taking a stand and give him more lattitude than he ever imagined, if they just know he's true blue honest and for the people.

I for one don't need squeeky clean politicians, hell I don't trust a guy who's too perfect, I just want a guy to be who he pretends to be and put the nation first and over all when given the public trust.

I just read up thread, the Senate passed the R version of the bill - pathetic. They're all owned by the same people. Here's how I see it.

They all take money from the telecom industry, the telecom industry has huge liability here. Bush and his facist party ain't going to pass a bill that doesn't give them what they want, and the industry can't off thier liability if Bush and the fascist won't play, so bit tellco pressures the dems in office - Bush gets what he wants.

The problem in Washington is all of these people have their egos and self image wrapped up in being a senator, or a rep. They are so small that they will do anything to be in the game, not to be no one.

Too bad that they don't realize holding office doesn't make you a senator, or someone. A lap dog is a lap dog - I don't care how many diamonds on its collar.

These Senators are going to go down in history as the guys who gave away the republic. They are going to go down as the biggest losers in history and be maligned for thousands of years. Their legacy will be tied to Bush, as his enablers, as the men who let the world plunge into the darkness of corporate rule, as the men who stood by while every legitimate scientist in the world told them they must act to save the inheritance of man.

They can not hide. History will find them and ridicule will follow them through the ages - The real estate agents of democracy, found dead, drunk on cheap wine bought with their slim commissions.

Isn't it interesting that this Bush-hurried FISA bill was passed in the Senate just as YearlyKos convened, totally distracting nearly every prominent blogger and left-progressive political organizer? And all the major Presidential contenders - who also happen to be Convention participants - still get to "vote against" and not suffer any political backlash. In online communities, just as in any other, hierarchies happen and in this case all of our "leaders" were uniquely, and jointly, distracted. Where was the REAL OPPOSITION and/or Vision on this FISA bill?!?

cboldt -- thanks for explaining the hold business. I didn't realize it could be overridden in the same way as a filibuster. In that case I understand why Feingold couldn't do more than he did. So here's another one for you... as I understand it, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi control what legislation comes up for a vote by controlling the schedule. How come they scheduled this for a vote if they knew their side would lose?

Suprah -- I raised the same question last night over at FDL. I don't think this is a coincidence at all. Apparently negotiations have been going on for weeks, but the first I heard of this legislation was on Wednesday, just as people were heading to YKos. I would be willing to bet they kept it all quiet (even as Gonzo's, and subsequent testimony made clear that some parts of Bush's spying program were illegal) just so the blogosphere would not be able to mount a large coordinated response.

Dismayed -- I agree that pressure from the telcos may have been a key component in pressuing the Dems. Personally, I think the telcos should get what they deserve in terms of massive class action lawsuits. It's not like these companies don't have a lot of lawyers in their employ. It would have been trivial to ask for a warrant before turning over records, but they couldn't be bothered. Besides, corporations want all of our information even more than the government does. It all suited them fine.

I agree that it is a mix of the two, as well. Something happens, though, when Bush gets backed into a corner (or he backs himself into one...) -- someone or something starts threatening the Dem leadership and beats them into submission.

Suprah, I had the same thoughts as you -- the timing is interesting. Maybe that is why it became so urgent NOW to resolve FISA...

-- Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi control what legislation comes up for a vote by controlling the schedule. How come they scheduled this for a vote if they knew their side would lose? --

Once they admitted FISA revision should occur, and each of them did admit that, they opened the door to bringing up a bill, or competing bills at least. Reviewing the Congressional Record "since July 1, 2007" for the string "fisa" gives up 36 hits, with only 5 of those coming before July 25th, and 2 of those 5 being Committee meetings. But in that time frame, all sides conceded that FISA revision should be brought up.

The raw political calculation is to give President Bush all the rope he asks for, so when the next act of terror occurs on American soil, the finger pointing is not directed back to Congress.

I'm not sure if they were fooled into thinking they could obtain meaningful ground in the course of negotiation, but from my point of view the "money points" weren't even debated with clarity. And the proposed legislation has been kicking around since April!

The debate on this was very "controlled" for want of a better word. Limited, stilted and misleading also comes to mind, but the misleading part is par for the course.

At any rate, the heat on this was turned up about a week and a half ago, when the WH figured out Congress wasn't planning to handle FISA revision before the break. It was the subject of the Saturday radio address, and the formalities happened quickly after that.

Their won't be an act of terror until the dems are in office. Their is a stinky alliance between Saudi and republicans. Bandar. The fact that most of the al queda in Iraq are from Saudi. The 20 billion dollar deal with Saudi. The terrorists who bombed us on 9/11 Saudi. Bin laden himself is from Saudi. It does not take a brain surgeon to figure this out.

Thanks cboldt -- So I take it then, Pelosi and Reid didn't HAVE to schedule the vote, they were simply afraid of being blamed if something bad happened. Sigh. Perhaps someone should point out to them that shredding the Constitution is a bad thing, too. I suppose I should take heart from the fact that they have to revisit this in 6 months, but I find it pretty cold comfort given the current state of gutlessness in Congress.

-- I take it then, Pelosi and Reid didn't HAVE to schedule the vote, they were simply afraid of being blamed if something bad happened. --

All politics is, at bottom, a blame game.

But you're right that Congressional leadership, all Democrats, didn't have to schedule consideration of the bill. However, they were being pressured by the administration, and eventually gave the administration statutory language that was crafted by the administration.

Check out the presser by Senators Bond and McConnell, where Senator Bond say the language is not Senate language, but is DNI language.

Chin up. When the Democrats have the White House, they will have the same power; and the same risk of being blamed for not preventing all attacks.

I take the liberty to pass along this information from a POGO email I received today. It may be of interest to all of you....

A new document posted at the POGO Blog (http://www.pogoblog.typepad.com) shows detailed changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act made since the 9/11 terrorist attacks including color coded breakdowns for each law which amended the Act. The document was written by David S. Kris, the former Associate Deputy Attorney General who was most responsible for tearing down "The Wall" between national security and criminal investigations, and co-author of National Security Investigations and Prosecutions.

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