Tag: Capitulation

FISA battle rages on amid distractions.

Crossed-posted at EENR.

While the corporate punditry is distracted by the flap over Geraldine Ferraro’s comments about Barack Obama and the sex scandal plaguing soon-to-be-former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, the battle over FISA continues as U.S. dictator George W. Bush threatens to veto a House bill over the issue of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that helped him break the law.  According to Reuters:

Bush is seeking immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and are now facing lawsuits.

The House legislation, scheduled for a vote later on Thursday, would allow phone companies to present their defense behind closed doors in federal court, with the judge given access to confidential government documents about eavesdropping begun after the September 11 attacks.

But the shrub is not satisfied with even this charade, instead selfishly insisting that telecommunications companies be granted full immunity from all lawsuits in addition to immunity from prosecution.  He also demands that all immunity be retroactive, so that he and his co-conspirators may avoid prosecution for past violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was originally passed by Congress in 1978, following the revelations of illegal spying by president Richard Nixon during his tenure earlier in the decade.  The thirty-seventh president had resigned in 1974 ahead of impeachment proceedings for having violated the law and the Constitution.  FISA was designed to limit the scope of executive power to eavesdrop on American citizens.

The shrub has claimed unchecked power to spy on Americans in the name of fighting terrorists, but has consistently failed to provide any substantive evidence to show that his violations of FISA have actually prevented terrorist attacks on the U.S.  FISA requires that the federal government obtain warrants from a special court in order to conduct surveillance on foreign nationals.  The FISA court, which grants 99% of all warrants applied for, was amended in 1994 so the federal government may spy for up to seventy-two hours before having to apply for a warrant.

But even this proved insufficient for the shrub’s demands.  An exposé by the New York Times in December of 2005 revealed some of the extent of Bush’s lawbreaking.  Last year, Congress — by then under Democratic Party rule yet still caving in to the shrub’s demands — passed the unlawful “Protect” America Act, which violates the Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures by the government.  The act expired in early February, but all illegal surveillance ordered in that six-month period is still able to be carried out with no hope of prosecution against abuses.

Last month, Senate capitulation leader Harry Reid succeeded in passing a bill that grants the retroactive immunity demanded by Bush.  It has since been tied up in the House of Representatives, but immunity is likely to pass that body in some form despite public efforts to pressure Congress not to allow any such amnesty.

Amnesty for telecommunications companies means that in any official investigation, persons involved would have no incentive to cooperate with authorities or turn over evidence.  This means that, in the highly unlikely event Congress upholds its Constitutional duty to impeach Bush for high crimes, those in a position to provide testimony or evidence have no reason to cooperate.

The Anti-Impeachers were Dead Wrong

Give me Liberty, or give me Death!

Patrick Henry

I have not yet begun to fight!

John Paul Jones

Impeachment is off the table.

Nancy Pelosi

Sen Webb: Congress Will Fund The Debacle In Iraq

I am watching Senator Webb’s appearance on Meet the Press this morning and in response to Tim Russert’s playing President George Bush’s statement that Congress capitulate to his demand that the Iraq Debacle be funded without conditions, Senator Webb basically said that Congress will provide funds for Bush Iraq Debacle.

Senator Webb talks a good game, but as he has done all year, the bottom line is he will vote cede Congress’ Constitutional Spending Power. He will not vote to stand up to Bush. In the next breath he is real strong on nonbinding resolutions about Iran.

When asked by Russert about Joe Biden’s call to impeach Bush if he attacks Iran, Webb hems and haws and says that the SPENDING POWER is the way to stop Bush from attacking Iran.

Excuse me Senator Webb, IF Bush does attack Iran, basedon your statements on Iraq funding, I would expect that you will vote for funding there too.

Senator Webb is a real mess on these issues.

On Iraq: Create Contrast By Standing Up To Bush

Matt Yglesias writes:

Dana Goldstein remarks after watching the Republicans debate that they “are terrified of the words ‘George W. Bush.’ A smart Democrat would force her or his Republican opponent to face up, as often as possible, to the legacy of his party’s leader.” . . .  I think Democrats need to worry about a possible Republican blurring strategy on Iraq especially if the Democratic nominee voted for the war. . .

Just so. What always is missing from Yglesias’ analysis on this is what the current Congress can do – stand up to Bush on funding the Iraq Debacle:

President Bush sternly pressed Democrats to approve money to fund the Iraq war “without strings and without delay” before leaving town for the Christmas holidays, something congressional leaders have already indicated they will not do.

I liked Harry Reid’s response:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responded that Democrats will get troops the money they need as part of a “war strategy worthy of their sacrifices.” “Bush Republicans have indefinitely committed our military to a civil war that has taken a tremendous toll on our troops and our ability to respond to other very real threats around the world,” Reid said.

Now the hard part, just saying no. That is what Democrats need to do. It is good policy. It is good politics.

The Missed Opportunity

Some may not believe this, but I have been bending over backwards trying to become a solid supporter of Barack Obama. I really do believe he has a bundle of political talent and generally holds sound views on most issues. But as I have written since 2006, he has simply failed to be the type of Democratic politician we need in this political climate (See my many posts on Obama for more detail.)

Recognizing this problem, Matt Yglesias defends Obama:

I also think I should take my hat off to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — I think this has been less a failure on Obama’s part, then cleverness on Clinton’s. She’s managed to position herself on foreign policy issues in a way that signals her differences with Obama very clearly to the tiny community of specialists while completely blurring them to the broader audience of voters. I’m not sure how this can be overcome . .

I am sure how it can be done and should have been done for the past year at least – by leading on the issues NOW. As Markos writes:

I don’t know how many times I’ve written this, and maybe I’m just wasting my time, but rather than talk about leadership, Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.

Honestly, Yglesias, like too many Left wonks, has been oblivious to what Congress can do on Iraq. It is a terrible blind spot. For them, if it is not in a position paper, Foreign Affairs article or “big speech,” it as if it does not exist. Look at his lament:

I’m not sure how this can be overcome, but I’m sure it can’t be overcome by having writers further obscure the differences by focusing primarily on what a good job Clinton’s done of obscuring them.

The basic reality is that each and every time the candidates stake out a position on something, Clinton takes a less-liberal line. Then each and every time Obama starts getting traction with the argument that Clinton is too hawkish, she backtracks and makes the argument that there’s no real difference here. And it’s true that if you look at any one thing with a microscope, the “no difference” argument can be made to stick. But it’s the pattern that matters . . .

This is, in a word, absurd. There are no substantive differences on what to do NOW, despite attempts by Yglesias and others to pretend there are, among the Big 3. The only candidate who has made real differences on these big issues has been Chris Dodd – by leading NOW.

Unfortunately, Dodd just seems unable to get any traction. Partly because writers like Matt Yglesias pay no attention to what the Congress can do on Iraq. Maybe they would if OBAMA leads in the Senate NOW.

Ending The Iraq Debacle Is Up To the House

I have long said this. Today, I am proven right:

Senate Democrats appear ready to omit Iraq withdrawal timelines from a supplemental spending bill in hopes of clearing in December funds for the troops — but House leaders have no intentions of following suit.

Good for Speaker Pelosi and good for House Democrats. Now who do we have to worry about? The eternal capitulation leaders, Hoyer and Rahmbo. Watch out for them.

Satan: Democrats are “unfathomable.”

[originally at DKOS]

Is this site dedicated to electing Democrats, or Democrats in Name Only (DINOs)?  If the latter, congratulations.  Mission accomplished.

Apparently, The Great Satan himself is incredulous at his own handiwork:

If Reid and Pelosi stand firm [insert laughs] they will finally fulfill one of their key 2006 campaign promises, proving they have the courage to stand tough for what they believe, while giving the vast majority of the American people what they want.

   If they yield [more laughter] they will reinforce perceptions of Democratic weakness. Worse, they will be siding with an unpopular president and an unpopular Republican Party over an unpopular war, and their own popularity will suffer as a result.

   The options to those of us outside of the Beltway are so obvious it’s truly unfathomable that we are still left wondering which path the Democrats will take.

The Good Word From the Great Orange Satan

So I read this in Newsweek:

As much as Republicans and the media like to talk about the 60-vote threshold for any anti-war legislation, the fact is that if no legislation gets passed, there’s no money for war. A tough and principled Democratic caucus could force compromise on this legislation and, if none were forthcoming from the GOP, then see the war defunded by default. Either way, the public would cheer.

Looking for a angle to hate on the Great Orange Satan, I have come up with . . . plagiarism.

What Matters In the Iraq Funding Bill

I have not blogged on the passage in the House of an Iraq funding bill for one simple reason – the passage of the bill is irrelevant. The Senate won’t pass it and if it does, the President will veto it.

What passes is not what matters. What does NOT pass is what matters. NO FUNDING without timlines, without a date certain for ending the Debacle.

I am sort of frustrated that this simple point, made by me for quite a while now does not seem to sink in.

But one more time for posterity:

I ask for three things: First, announce NOW that the Democratic Congress will NOT fund the Iraq Debacle after a date certain. You pick the date. Whatever works politically. If October 2007 is the date Dems can agree to, then let it be then. If March 2008, then let that be the date; Second, spend the year reminding the President and the American People every day that Democrats will not fund the war past the date certain; Third, do NOT fund the Iraq Debacle PAST the date certain.

Who Woulda Thunk It?

Here is a shocker:

Matzzie to Head Democratic Soft Money Effort

Even as the Democratic primary fight enters the final stretch, plans are proceeding apace among party strategists to build an independent money machine that will rival or eclipse what they created in 2004, when donors poured millions into two key outside-the-party organizations — America Coming Together and the Media Fund.

Tom Matzzie has been hired to run a new effort for 2008, which he has described in an e-mail as a $100 million-plus venture organized around “issues and character.” Matzzie is leaving his post as the Washington director of Moveon.org to take the job. . . . The news of Matzzie’s hiring comes roughly two weeks after a group of the largest donors in the Democratic party gathered in Washington to discuss where they’ll put their money during the 2008 race. . . . Those familiar with overall Democratic fundraising plans for 2008 say that everything is still in a very nascent stage, but party heavyweights are clearly on the march — setting up various organizations that may be integrated into a larger uber-fundraising effort, perhaps under Mattzie’s group.

Move On’s political director who wasjoined at the hip with the Democratic Party on Congressional issues now getting a big Dem fundraising gig? Shocking.

Move On and Mattzie have played its members for a while now. You think they’ll figure it out? Me neither.

Save your last bullet for Democrats

How many times are you gonna get punked?

Seriously.  How much can you take?  I got punked again too when I lined up behind Chris Dodd after he put a hold on telecom amnesty and promised to filibuster-it seemed so principled to LEAD NOW!-then he failed to show up for the vote on Mukasey.  So much for the “gravitas appeal.”  Punked again.  Dodd’s dad, the Nuremburg prosecutor, must be especially proud that his own son can’t take a stand on torture.  I guess that leaves me with flying saucer boy.  Dodd wasn’t alone, of course.  Most of the rest of you fuckers got punked too. 

House Dems Propose Iraq Funding With Timetables

Speaker Pelosi today announced:

House Democrats said Thursday they would send President Bush $50 billion for combat operations on the condition that he begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. The proposal, similar to one Bush vetoed earlier this year, would identify a goal of ending combat entirely by December 2008. It would require that troops spend as much time at home as they do in combat, as well as effectively ban harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding.

In a private caucus meeting, Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats that the bill was their best shot at challenging Bush on the war. And if Bush rejected it, she said, she did not intend on sending him another war spending bill for the rest of the year.

“This is not a blank check for the president,” she said later at a Capitol Hill news conference. “This is providing funding for the troops limited to a particular purpose, for a short time frame.

As always, we know Bush will veto.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Bush would veto any bill that sets an “artificial timeline” for troop withdrawals.

As always, I applaud the Speaker’s STATED stance today.

As always, the important point here is that the House Dems MUST stick to their guns and tell the President – of he vetoes then he is abandoning the troops in the field. I repeat, the President of the United States will be ABANDONING AMERICAN TROOPS IN THE FIELD!

President Bush is proposing to stab the troops in the back by vetoing funding for them.

A disgraceful man. The worst President in history.

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