I'm as disappointed as the next that Obama's not jumped into the fray, but in the meantime, we've got a damn good quarterback on the field in Russ Feingold, and instead of whining that your favorite's on the bench, let's get to work with the team we've got.
Russ' strategy here is more than a classic filibuster. The real fight comes before the cloture vote on the bill itself. Russ has announce that he plans to introduce 6 Amendments. If even one passes (or for that matter even Specter's) the Bill returns to the House. Only if the 2 Chambers pass identical legislation does it move to the President's desk. If we send a bill sufficiently not to his liking to draw a veto, that kicks the can further down the road. If this mess can be stalled through Labor Day, when the Congress breaks for campaign season, it's dead.
Obama's statement that he'd vote for the bill included a remark that it “isn't perfect.” It's too late for him to reverse field and join a filibuster on the whole package, but he has indicated he'd vote for an amendment to strip amnesty, and it's not too much of a stretch to back the other amendments to “perfect” the Bill. Two Senators who voted to take it up, Webb and Tester, are already signed on to what seems the most important of Russ' Amendments.
Here's the 6:
Dodd-Feingold Amendment Stripping Retroactive Immunity
Feingold-Webb-Tester Amendment to Provide Protections for Americans
Use Limits Amendment
Prohibiting “Reverse Targeting”
Prohibiting “Bulk Collection”
Giving Congress Access to FISA Court Materials
So what can WE do? Take a hint from
Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
On Preventing the FISA Amendments Act from Being Jammed Through the Senate
June 26, 2008
“I'm pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through. I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.”
Let's make 'em take a closer look. In my last diary, I called for OPERATION READ THE BILL.
Print the thing out, all 114 pages (pdf), Feingold's brief explanation of his upcoming amendments as well, and literally, physically, hand it to your Senators.
Best if you can say “I've read it, I expect you to take the time to do so yourself.” For extra credit, take a highlighter to the printout and mark up the sections you consider problematic.
Bring an accomplice with a vidcam. An admission that they haven't and won't read the bill makes nice youtube, come re-election time.
How to find them? Start with their Senate and Campaign websites and your State Party's websitre. Next, search Google News for “YourSenator'sname Parade” “YourSenator's name Barbeque” “YourSenator'sname Picnic” “YourSenator'sname fundraiser” If you don't get hits, make a Google Alert.
Post any scheduled events you find below in comments.
Senator Obama – Please, Vote No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right on my.barackobama.com (Warning; the inmterface defaults to “get all emails to this group, running 20/hour. You can set it to no emails, or daily digest.)
Also at kos