Saturday, August 04, 2007



We don't have to go back to Roman times to find historical analogies to the Senate's approval of Bush's nefarious spying plan last night. I'm just finishing up a marvelous book by Kenneth Ackerman, Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, the chilling account of how, in 1919, an anti-immigrant jihad coupled by an irrational fear of terrorism (Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's "Red Scare"), and fueled by naked political ambitions, combined to subvert the rule of law during a dubious war on terror into an unconstitutional war of terror.

The author of the Red Scare, Young J. Edgar's boss, was a "progressive Wilson Democrat," a Quaker and former congressman from my old hometown, Stroudsberg, PA. When the going got tough, the progressive Palmer turned into a right-wing fanatic who was more than ready to shred the constitution for the sake of his conception of homeland security. History remembers this would-be presidential contender for a series of brutal police roundups of immigrants, unionists, and suspected leftists and radicals and for warrantless wiretaps, mass arrests (of thousands of people, mostly innocent of any crime whatsoever) and shameful deportations.

Last night a modern day Palmer, Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (who hails from the same northeastern part of the state and also rather loudly claims his public service is informed by his religionist beliefs) joined 15 other treacherous Democrats to band together with all the Republicans in passing Bush's latest assault on civil liberties. The other Democrats who shamed themselves and their party include the regular reactionaries like Landrieu (LA), the two Nelsons (NE & FL), Carper (DE), the pair of swine from Arkansas (Pryor and Lincoln), Salazar (CO), Feinstein (CA), Bayh (IN) but the list also includes 2 dependable progressives Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Barbara Milkulsi (MD) and fickle freshmen James Webb (VA) and Claire McCaskill (MO). The whole list is here. You'll notice all the progressive heroes and heroines who were too frightened to vote: Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Tom Harkin...

So now the Democrats co-own Bush's unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping so many of us have been citing when we clamor for impeachment. No wonder there was so little enthusiasm for that from Congressional Democrats!
The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it did not approve the changes he wanted.

So now it's up to the House leadership to stop this monstrosity. Today. Can we count on them? Are you kidding? Yesterday, Crooks & Liars posted a brilliant take on this mess by Keith Olbermann. I urge you to watch it. I would trade 20 members of the Democratic caucus-- you pick 'em-- for one Olbermann. (Bush sounds exactly like the vile David Strathairn fear-monger character in The Bourne Ultimatum.)

In June Kenneth Ackerman, the Young J. Edgar author I referred to above, penned an article for the L.A. Times Another J. Edgar Hoover?, comparing the environment that spawned the authoritarian, even tyrannical, Hoover to the environment nurtured by the Bush Regime today.
Almost 90 years later, today's war on terror exists in an echo chamber of the 1919 Red scare. The federal government demands more powers at the expense of individual rights: secret CIA prisons, enhanced interrogation techniques, suspension of habeas corpus. Even the president openly claims powers that are beyond the reach of laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The same kinds of teachers who transformed the straight-laced, young Hoover in 1919 seem to be on the loose again in Washington. And that raises a troubling question: Are we today creating a whole new generation of young J. Edgar Hoovers, dedicated government agents learning the wrong lessons from the war on terror, who will stick around to haunt us for decades to come?

I'll update this post later in the weekend when the House caves. How do I know they'll cave over the weekend? Don't be silly; they have vacation plans.


House Democrats buckled and the Republican bill passed. While only 2 Republicans had the guts to vote for America, 41 treacherous Democrats abandoned the party today and voted against our nation. It passed 227 to 183. Earlier today we ran a post about the worst Democratic House members. This should trump that entirely, except of course, nothing much changes. The worst and most reactionary are still the worst and most reactionary.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I guarantee you that if you contribute any money whatsoever to the DCCC, a good part of it goes to insure that these members who voted against your values will be re-elected. Never, never, never, no matter what, donate to the DCCC or the DSCC. Contribute directly to incumbents and candidates who you have checked out and feel confident will reflect progressive positions. Here's is the list of the 41 Democrats who betrayed us and our values tonight (the members in bold have consistently voted against progressive positions enough so that no progressive should even vote for them, let alone contribute to their campaigns):
Altmire (PA)
Barrow (GA)
Bean (IL)
Boren (OK)
Boswell (IA)
Boyd (FL)
Chandler (KY)
Cooper (TN)
Costa (CA)
Cramer (AL)
Cuellar (TX)
Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Donnelly (IN)
Edwards (TX)
Ellsworth (IN)
Etheridge (NC)
Gordon (TN)
Herseth Sandlin (SD)
Higgins (NY)
Hill (IN)
Lampson (TX)
Lipinski (IL)
Marshall (GA)
Matheson (UT)
McIntyre (NC)
Melancon (LA)
Mitchell (AZ)
Peterson (MN)
Pomeroy (ND)
Rodriguez (TX)
Ross (AR)
Salazar (CO)
Shuler (NC)
Snyder (AR)
Space (OH)
Tanner (TN)
Taylor (MS)
Walz (MN)
Wilson (OH)

And a little good news on this dismal night. Every single Blue America endorsed candidate-- no exceptions-- voted against Bush's unconstitutional power grab. (No one who voted for it will be eligible for a future endorsement.) Our incumbents who voted no were Tom Allen (ME), Steve Cohen (TN), John Hall (NY), Jerry McNerney (CA), Patrick Murphy (PA), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), and Hilda Solis (CA). Here's where you can say thanks for doing your job if you think that's merited. I might add that Steve Cohen faces a tough primary from a reactionary Democrat from the corrupt, right-wing Harold Ford Machine and that both John Hall and Carol Shea-Porter are in Republican-leaning districts where they are already being smeared by the far right for being soft on terrorism.

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At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are in a fine mess and the republicans need not worry the spineless leaders of the democrats give Bush everything he wants. Hope you enjoy your vacation you will have a long one coming in 2008. YOU promised the American people change!!

At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why assume there was K-Y involved?

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets be clear about one thing. Most of the party may have voted against this, but it is their fault there was a vote in the first place.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger raskolnikov said...

the biggest question is why pelosi even brought the matter up for a vote in the first place.
the republican's policy of not bringing a matter to the floor for a vote unless it had the support of a majority of their majority was a sound policy.
the fact that pelosi failed to exercise that type of judgment says much about her failure as a leader.
when the gop faced a potentially tough prospect they simply refused to bring the matter up for a vote. sometimes you have to play hardball, and this was one of those occassions where they needed to play that kind of hardball.

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Pelosi and Reid put themselves in this situation? It is hard to believe that they could be as frankly incompetent as it looks from out here in fly-over-land.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

The fact that this even came to a vote and that Pelosi and Reid put themselves and the country in such a position idicates to me that they simply wanted to give Bush what he wanted, no matter how much they might cynically protest otherwise. They are part of the problem. Look how they have continued to protect Bush from impeachment. Are they closet Bushies? Looks like it to me. Pelosi, Bush and Reid are all part of the back-scratching inside the beltway fraternity. Pelosi and Reid have given the phrase "loyal opposition" a new meaning. They makes some statements opposiing Bush, but it's all just cover.

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Howie,
The full congress critter vote in the house. Some of us can breathe a sigh of relief that we won't have to write a rebuking letter. It still doesn't make the whole mess any better.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Brain said...

Is it really the Senate Dems who bent over, or did they actually push Joe Q. Public over the back of a chair and pull his pants down?


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