Friday, June 20, 2008



The disgraceful piece of legislation known as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 just passed 293-129. Although most Democrats (128) voted against it, 105, including Pelosi, stuck with Hoyer and Bush. Hoyer no longer represents a majority of Democrats in the House. He should hand in his resignation today. Only one Republican stood up for the Constitution (Ron Paul ducked the vote): Tim Johnson of Illinois. Here's the whole list of who voted which way.

You want to fight the power? Donate to the Blue America vs Retroactive Immunity fund which is working to hold Vichy Democrats like Steny Hoyer, Chris Carney and John Barrow accountable. So far over 4,409 people have donated more than a quarter million dollars for this battle.

Goal Thermometer

Neither Carney nor Hoyer faces a primary challenge this year. Barrow does. On July 15 he has to go before the voters of GA-12 who will decide if they want a Bush rubber stamp or a real Democrat, Regina Thomas. Barrow voted with Bush today. Regina opposes retroactive immunity and opposes warrantless wiretaps against U.S. citizens. Many Democratic primary voters in Savannah, Vidalia, Statesboro and Augusta have unpleasant memories of a powerful and unaccountable federal government illegally wiretapping Dr. Martin Luther King. That is George W. Bush and that is John Barrow and that is Steny Hoyer. That is not Regina Thomas. I urge you to think about donating to her campaign directly.

The Republicans in Congress are in big trouble, but we need better Democrats, not just more Democrats.
A single question in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll says all you need to know about the problems facing Republicans in the fall election.

Asked if the election were held today which party's candidate would they vote for in their own congressional district, 53 percent of registered voters said they would back the Democratic candidate, compared with just 38 percent said they would support the Republican candidate.

That 15-point bulge for Democrats on the so-called generic ballot question matches the party's largest margin in more than two years in the Post-ABC poll.

The top Democratic leadership-- Emanuel, Hoyer, Pelosi, Clyburn-- all voted with Bush. The next tier of Democratic leaders-- George Miller (Policy Chair), Rosa DeLauro (Steering Chair) and Chris Van Hollen (DCCC Chair)-- broke with Hoyer and Bush and voted for the Constitution and for America. At this point, the ACLU better represents grassroots Democrats than our own House leadership.

Tom Perriello, the Democrat running against warrantless wire-tap advocate, Virgil Goode in Virginia, blasted Congress for passing this bill and came closer than most to doing what most Democrats are afraid to do-- denouncing Steny Hoyer for what he is-- a Bush enabler. Tom: "This 'compromise' will not make Americans safer. If Congress and the President were serious about national security they would have spent their time and energy giving our brave intelligence officers the resources they need, not the American freedoms that our armed forces defend. Our constitutional principles are never up for negotiation."

I spoke with Carol Shea-Porter a few moments after she left the floor after voting against the Bush-Hoyer bill. This is what she told me:
I'm very disappointed in the FISA vote today. I thought that the Democratic leadership had been doing a very good job of bringing the Republicans along and taking care of some of the problems that were in some of the previous attempts, but the fact is that they have basically provided retroactive immunity. We know that all of those telecom companies will be able to produce a letter saying that the Bush Administration said it was OK. That wasn't the point. The point was that
we're a government of a laws, not men. We're a government of laws not of the Bush Administration... I think we should have stuck with the initial position that we needed to see exactly why they were asking for retroactive immunity."

Representative Shea-Porter will be coming on to Crooks and Liars Monday afternoon live at 5pm (EST) to discuss this and other important issues confronting Americans.


Oh, some do it off the record, but no one is willing to get to the heart of the problem and get rid of Hoyer. If there is anyone who cares about a America still donating to the DCCC or the DSCC they should reassess after today. There is not a single person on the list of Democrats who voted for this bill that I would support.

Tom Udall is a progressive congressman running for the U.S. Senate against one of the worst Bush rubber stamps, Steve Pearce, who falls asleep at night dreaming up rights he can take away from Americans. Udall-- unlike his most establishmentarian and less trustworthy cousin in Colorado-- voted against the bill. Here's what he told New Mexico voters why:
The FISA bill we considered today would compromise the constitutionally guaranteed rights that make America a beacon of hope around the world.

Today's vote was not easy. I stood up to leaders of my own party and voted against this bill, because I took an oath to defend Americans and That duty is most important when it is most difficult. We can protect our nation while upholding our values, but unfortunately, this bill falls short.

John Hall represents a Republican-leaning district and he has a very progressive voting record. But his constituents, regardless of political party, support the Constitution and John didn't hesitate for a moment to vote against the Bush-Hoyer travesty. Here's what he told his upstate New York constituents:
I have consistently supported modernizing the existing FISA law to give our government the tools it needs to identify and defeat terrorists in today’s high-tech world, while at the same time preserving the freedoms and rights that define America.  I have voted three times to pass legislation that would strengthen and modernize FISA and reaffirm the rule of law.  Despite some improvements over previous attempts to update FISA, the bill considered by the House today regrettably falls short of achieving that critical balance. The rule of law lies at the core of America’s founding principles, and the language in this bill was too weak to ensure that any breach of our laws that may have occurred under the warrantless wiretapping program will be fully addressed.  It is not appropriate to deny Americans the right to pursue these matters in court, or to short-circuit the judicial review that lies at the heart of our system of checks and balances, which is the bedrock of our Constitution. Accordingly, I voted against this bill.


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At 11:34 AM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...

Let's hope some of the stalwarts of the party in the Senate are able to put the kibosh on this. I know we can count on Leahy, Dodd, and Feingold.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger woid said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger woid said...


Horrible, just horrible.

So what happens next? Does the bill go to the Senate? What can we do, if anything, to stop it?

Maybe you (and FDL and Glenn G., etc.) have explained this, but I haven't been that deep in the weeds.

My own rep, the so-called "liberal" Howard Berman, from the San Fernando Valley, voted for this piece of fascism. I'd called his office yesterday -- his staffer declined to say which way Berman was going, but did tell me that they'd been absolutely swamped with calls opposing the bill. Of course, you have to balance that against the ONE call from the people who actually own him.

Similarly, my parents' rep in Queens, Gary Ackerman, had staffers telling callers of his great record on this kind of thing -- then he, too, voted for the destruction of the 4th Amendment.

Both of these sleazebags, and many others, no doubt see themselves as invulnerable. They're multi-term reps in safe districts. What can we do to pull them down from their corporate-built and -maintained pedestals?

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's this I hear about Obama supporting the FISA bill??

Say it ain't so!!

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Howie, you're right. We need better Democrats, not just more Democrats. I am very disappointed in Obama and his statement sounded like something Bill Clinton would write. Illinois' Tim Johnson is a patriot.
105 Democrats are not patriots.


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