If you have "no place to go," come here!

Another opportunity for Obama to lead

Reach me that bucket, wouldja hon?

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they would not stand in the way of a compromise overhaul of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), despite their concerns with the impacts of the sprawling measure.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, said some Democrats are “not happy with that, but there may be enough to get a majority vote.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) predicted Tuesday that there is enough support within the Democratic Conference to approve a contentious overhaul of the FISA legislation.

“If the bill comes out as I think it will, it will pass,” Rockefeller said before heading to a conference lunch.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would not support the bill but added that he knows others will.

Sigh. I've just got to order Groundhog Day from NetFlix....

But there's still hope! As Matt Stoller wrote:

I think it's quite possible the Obama campaign and administration is going to be placed into a Google-like center of immense political and administrative power.

It's Obama's party right now. It will be for at least a few years, if he wins.

Indeed. And how important it is, when you have immense power, to use that power for good.

No votes yet


DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

What is stopping her from putting a stop to FISA sell out? Seriously, after spending years in the Starr chamber, nobody knows better to her how Republicans abuse legal power for partisan purposes, so why doesn't she do anything?

We are ruled by fools. Heedless fools.

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

So you immediately shift the onus on Clinton. You've told us through the primary season that she's unfit. So now you expect her to take the lead after the party establishment told her to hit the road.

If Obama is the chosen, precious one then this should be his place to step up.

The goddamn primary campaign is over and your candidate, via a grossly corrupt process has won.

Stop letting this guy off the hook and lay off Hillary Clinton. Your CDS is showing.

The heedless fools assaulted a qualified candidate and supported an empty suit.

Submitted by lambert on

Obama is. It's really that simple....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Besides, isn't Hillary in the last throes of E.K. Ross's stages?

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

It would be great politics in some ways for Clinton to rally some other Democrats, how about Obama backer Chris Dodd for starters. Unity for a good cause, eh?

But, she'd need to pull in others, IMO. Otherwise, she risks being punished by her fellow democrats even more than I suspect is already coming her as retribution for not giving the party what it wanted in February. Not to mention, I'm sure the media would paint it as being done out of revenge against the party and not for principles.

Still, just because she would need allies doesn't mean she couldn't do it. Leaders lead and they find allies. What's a better cause than standing up for the Constitution?

My personal hope is that this election will free Clnton some in the Senate. I was very impressed with her in the last few months on the campaign trail and I want to keep that politician around.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

There are lots of congressional Democrats who hate this so-called compromise.

We should be calling her office - in large numbers, especially her supporters.

And calling Barach Obama's.

But we should also be putting in calls to Reid, to Pelosi; if they think they're going to be getting money from their base to increase the number of Democrats in the congress, when the so-called liberal ones let this happen...

Didn't we have a post that gave people a lot of phone numbers to call - can someone link to it; I'm submerged in another matter today.

Why not email Stoller et al about where they stand on this. At least check out the website to see where they stand.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

But I have no confidence in the party. Harry Reid ignored Dodd's hold. Now, after months of sitting silent while Clinton was villified, the Democrats are going to cheer her on? For making them look bad? Again. Some more.

Having said that, I agree there are other Dems who oppose this and that would be the key for her, especially if some are Obama supporters. Because otherwise, I suspect what we're going to hear is how Hillary is trying to show up Obama even on the blogs who want to stop this. From what I can tell, hating Hillary outweighs everything else for many of them.

Now, what would really be great is if Clinton and Obama teamed up together to stop it. But I don't see Obama doing that as the nominee (if Clinton was the nominee, I don't think she'd do it either). Risk averse is how I would describe Democratic presidential politics.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

when it comes to the fisa constitutional debacle

there is nobody who understands better or fights harder than

glen greenwald.

go here hoyer and pelosi duck and jive and read the whole thing.

pay special attention to

update 1.

then come back and tell me what a great leader barack obama will be

and what a great future this country has

with our great democratic party

and why we should support leaders who pull this kind of great political scam.

pelosi, you will recall, has been a major obama enabler.

but then obama's money gurus live and profit in her district.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

All House and Senate offices contact information here

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker’s Office Email

Senator Harry Reid Email

Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair Senate Judiciary Committee Email

Representative John Conyers, Chair House Judiciary Committee (accepts email only from constituents)

2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

Senator Barack Obama Email

Senator Hillary Clinton Email

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

so I'm writing away, putting together a post on the exact same subject (with a slightly different slant) and I finally get it done, and get it posted... and I scroll down, and Lambert's done it already. ARGGGHH.

anyway, since I take a slightly different approach, here is what was posted and then deleted...

The Obotosphere and Telecom Immunity

Well, gang, the usual suspects are all up in arms again about a new FISA Bill, and its telecom immunity provisions.

Kos, and Greenwald, and the whole gang at the Firedoglake conglomerate are having hissy fits about that horrible Steny Hoyer, and that nasty “Jello Jay” Rockefeller. Glenn Greenwald is even raising money to do something or other about this horrible thing.

But there is something missing from all the hair-pulling and shirt rending and general sturm and drang. No one in the Obotosphere seems to have noticed that there is one person who can stop telecom immunity in its tracks. One person who can add a paragraph to one of his speeches, demanding that the rule of law be observed, and that illegal spying on American will have consequences.

And that one person is their Dear Leader, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Criticized, Mr. Unity Pony Himself! Barack Obama.

Now why is that? I know that if Hillary Clinton was in Obama’s position right now, I’d be screaming bloody murder demanding that she get out in front of this issue. I mean, I want her to be President so that she can lead – and I wouldn’t want her to wait until she got into the White House to lead on something that I consider as important as “No Telecom Immunity”.

But check out Daily Kos – lots of stuff about the FISA bill…. But no mention about Obama. Go read Greenwald – he’s practically obsessed with telecom immunity (and has written extensively about McCain’s ‘flip flopping’ on the issue. But somehow, the name Barack Obama – and what Barack Obama could do to stop this bill – never seems to enter Big Brain Glenn’s consciousness. Raw Story? Obama’s not part of the telecom immunity story either. Christy Hardin Smith and a whole slew of FirePups over at Firedoglake have been all over the telecom immunity story… but no mention of pressuring Obama.

But its becoming glaringly obvious that the fauxgressive movement that supported Obama throughout the blogosphere really had noting to do with Obama being a better choice for progressives – someone who would stand up for basic constitutional rights, or anything like that. They won’t make any demands of Obama, because they are desperately afraid that Obama will be revealed as the craven and corrupt phoney we’ve been saying he was all along.

The Obotosphere prefers to live in their fantasy world, and drink their Kewl-Aid, rather than insist that Obama exercise the leadership that their smears and lies about Hillary Clinton have enabled.

Is anyone surprised?

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

Yeah, I had an Awsome comment to add to it. Just when I hit "post" it said "page not found." I thought the ghosts of the Might Corrente Building messed with it or something.

Now, of course, I can't remember all of my witty brilliance :(

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

they would not dare punish her. They are in no position to do so and they know it. She is strong in NY and strong nationally. If they want her to campaign for them, and a lot of them do, they will take no action against her.

The sad truth is that Clinton has never been much of a champion of the Bill of Rights. She could lead now, and she could embarrass Obama into doing the right thing. But her telecom buddies (contributors) do not want this litigation to go forward.

Her Presidential campaign took a lot of telecom $.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

But I don't expect it. Didn't when she was a candidate and don't now. Hope for it? Of course, but it would be a change in who she was before the campaign. I don't kid myself about that.

Paul, Greenwald did mention Obama, albeit in his first update and not the main piece:

Barack Obama has previously expressed emphatic opposition to telecom amnesty and warrantless eavesdropping, but his opposition has amounted mostly to pretty words, not actions. That ought to change.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

ooohhh! Now THERE'S a strong demand from the fauxgressive community!

as for Obama's supposedly strong opposition to telecom is his original statement (supposedly) condemning it....

“I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal -- with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity -- is not the place to start.”

this isn't even a specific denunciation of telecom immunity -- the only adjective he uses for it is "unprecedented".

That's how you know that greenwald is an Obot -- totally projects his own "emphatic opposition" to telecom immunity on Obama....

Submitted by lambert on

... I would argue that PB2.0 needs to have an, er, technical aspect as well. We just can't assume that political content, especially rich content as on this site and elsewhere, won't be blocked by the telcos.

And yes, Paul, I do remember how stupid racists like me pointed out, at the time, that Kos had turned over his site to Obama without getting anything in return -- that we know of. Well, FISA and net neutrality could have been the price of support from the netroots. C'est la vie.

Maybe now we can make it all better, but I'm not confident.

Because once they've gotten immunity, they will then proceed to gut net neutrality.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

What is stopping her from putting a stop to FISA sell out? Seriously, after spending years in the Starr chamber, nobody knows better to her how Republicans abuse legal power for partisan purposes, so why doesn’t she do anything?

what's stopping her is "party unity" Obama=style.

Obama is obviously demanding that she keep a low profile, and she's complying.

The last thing that Team Obama could permit is for Clinton to take a leadership role on an issue like this -- and show Obama up.

Lets not forget, kids, that one of Obama's biggest early SD endorsements came from none other than Jello Jay Rockefeller himself -- and Jello Jay has been pushing telecom immunity HARD. It took Chris Dodd to even get Obama on the record in opposition to telecom immunity (and IIRC, he kept equivocating until he was forced to take a position).

Obama holds all the cards now -- and Clinton is going to wait until she gets dealt a good hand before she starts putting any of her chips on the table again.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

i kind of like and admire your anger.

not of course that i APPROVE in any way of public displays of anger;

that's very naughty behavior in our contemporary america.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

who said anything about punishing her? She's doing what you Obots want her to do....stay out of the picture, and not show up Obama. Now you want to complain when SHE doesn't show leadership?

you Hillary Haters really need to get a grip here.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

a VERY important question is:

why is senator clinton's name coming up in this discussion at ALL.

obama is the presumed nominee.

why is clinton still a focus in this discussion?

let me answer:

because she is a convenient scapegoat for obama's political incompetence, an expedient diversion from the reality of a democratic candidate who has not the foggiest idea how to lead - on fisa,

or on anything else.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

She’s doing what you Obots want her to do….stay out of the picture, and not show up Obama. Now you want to complain when SHE doesn’t show leadership?

you Hillary Haters really need to get a grip here.

I don't hate any Democrat. I certainly don't hate Clinton. I never called for her to leave the stage. I would love for her to take leadership on FISA and embarrass Obama and the rest of them into doing the right thing. That is about what Dodd did last January. It was great.

But Clinton is too tied to the telcos to do that.

I don't like how she was treated, but that does not blind me to her defects as a senator and a candidate.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on


Which is why the very first comment in this thread is from you, and its about HILLARY, and why HILLARY isn't doing something -- when HILLARY has nothing to do with the post.

Part of 'how she was treated' was Obots like yourself refusing to address legitimate criticism of Obama, and deflecting it by saying crap like "Clinton did it too" or "Clinton was worse" ... claims that could only be made by distoriting/cherry-picking Clinton's record.

The fact that you IMMEDIATELY tried to change the subject to Clinton -- rather than focus on the SUBJECT of the post, i.e. the lack of leadership being shown by the ONE PERSON who is in a position to say "this is what the Democratic Party stands for" leads to only one possible diagnosis -- Clinton Derangement Syndromw.

Seriously.... ask yourself WHY you immediately tried to change the subject under discussion to Hillary Clinton.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

On the contrary, in some ways I think the turning to discuss Clinton is pretty damning about him because, to me, it indicates that nobody expects or believes he will lead on this issue. I certainly don't. Not a whole lot for me to say about it. It is what it is.

Clinton is more interesting because she may feel freer to lead than she did when the primaries were on-going because she's not the nominee. Now, to the extent she decides to take her 18 million votes out for a spin, I'm not sure she'd do it now or on this issue, but it's fun to think about the possibility, however slim.

And, really, all I want is for someone other than Steny Hoyer and Jay Rockefeller to take the lead. Feingold and Dodd can't do it by themselves.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on


The Democrats have decided that the best course for Party victory in November is to pass a new FISA bill now, including expanded spying powers and a path to telecom immunity if that is what it will take to get Bush to sign. Word is this is a done deal. There are several schools of thought; combined, they will deliver enough YES votes for passage.

Feingold-Dodd school is opposed, saying that this is not needed, it is the wrong thing anyway, and no good will come of it. They’ll vote no, but they understand it’s a done deal and probably won’t filibuster because it will just end up embarrassing the leadership for no gain.

Rockefeller school is that this is the right thing to do for several reasons, the usual Jello-kneed fear that bad things might happen and I don’t want anybody to be mad at me and the telecom donors are telling me I have to help them out or they won’t give me any more money.

Hoyer school sees this move as insider political gold, racks up mega bonus points with the BlueDog caucus and new House members coming aboard in November, makes him more powerful and maybe he can get that Speaker’s job.

BlueDog school are a bunch of spineless bastards who want to put away anything that a Republican can hold against them in November. Too insecure to deal with their constituents straight up, they think they need to be just like Republicans to keep their seats. They want the FISA deal done and off the table.

Reid–Pelosi school believes the BlueDogs, doesn’t want to risk losing any seats, wants to maximize the number of possible pickups and is worried about the presidential election as well. They see Obama as vulnerable on “national security” and are going to take away anything they can that the Republicans might use for attack ads. Obama agrees, and won’t vote yes but won’t stop the vote either.

Apocalyptic school believes that Bush is all but insane and is teetering on the edge of launching an attack on Iran to prove he’s still powerful and in charge. They hope that by caving in on FISA and telecom immunity, Bush will feel like he’s still The Man and be satisfied that his “work” will be carried on after he leaves office.

Pollyanna school is on board because they respect the short-term gain judgment and believe that with a Democrat in the White House and big Dem majorities in Congress they will be able to repeal anything untoward about FISA. They also believe that punting the immunity question to the courts will force them to take the brunt of the blame for the final decision, leaving Congress with clean hands however it turns out.

Call it crazy, call it stupid, call it craven or crafty or coldly calculating or foolish or dastardly or whatever, they’re going ahead with it anyway. Pelosi and Reid and even Hoyer will vote against the bill, they want deniability, but they want it to pass or it would never see the light of day. Senate, 70-25; House, 255-175.

By all means, write and express your displeasure. Polite is always best, although I am almost out of stock on this issue myself.

gharlane's picture
Submitted by gharlane on

1) Both Clinton AND Obama need to be pushed HARD on this. As has been pointed out frequently on this blog, Clinton had half the party behind her. Both need to lead. Damn right Obama needs to. So does Clinton. Neither of them are exactly progressive stalwarts. Bickering about who won/lost/the process/who has to go first is pointless and counterproductive.

2) Updates from Greenwald:

UPDATE II: A broad alliance is now forming to raise money for and support this specific campaign, with the intent to work together on an ongoing basis on all civil liberties, constitutional rights and rule of law issues. It now includes the ACLU, as well as the faction that masterminded the online money bombs for the Ron Paul presidential campaign, represented by Break the Matrix, Rick Williams and Trevor Lymon.

We intend shortly to announce the support of a broad-based coalition of office holders and candidates who are devoted to preserving basic constitutional liberties against the ongoing erosion by the Beltway establishment, but for the moment, the goal is to work together to raise as much money as possible for this specific campaign to impede the corrupt FISA/telecom amnesty deal, the enablers in Congressional leadership and various vulnerable supporters of it. Even if they manage to pass this bill -- and everything will be done to stop it -- a coalition of this sort can generate very serious resources to undermine those responsible. For now, contributions can be made here.

UPDATE III: The announcement of this alliance from the Ron Paul/liberty-minded Right (as opposed to the authoritarian-minded Right) is here. The ACLU will distribute its Press Release tomorrow about this campaign. I really do think the British model I referenced above which is battling similar issues in England (which I wrote about a couple of days ago) is a very formidable one for opposing the Beltway Establishment's evisceration of constitutional restraints and the rule of law. As indicated, we expect to put together a wide ranging group of current office holders and Congressional candidates to support this effort, too. As Digby wrote today in encouraging her readers to contribute: "It's a shame it has come to this, but there's really no option. It's impossible to get through to these people any other way."

Original has the links.

Link to contribute:

About $144,000 raised so far. Greenwald's post raised $20K in the first hour.

Time to put our money where our mouths (or keyboards) are.

In other words, time for US to lead.

Spend the bucks (if you have 'em), and spread the word (regardless).

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Clinton has been pushed around by the Obotosphere more than enough.

And if she prefers not to get involved in this issue, good for her -- because the same people who have been trashing Hillary Clinton for months are the people who are now up in arms about telecom immunity -- and she doesn't owe THEM jack shit.

Clinton doesn't have 'half the party behind her'. Clinton did what Obama demanded, and suspended her campaign in the name of party unity. She gave up her 'leadership' position because Obama supporters demanded it....

If you want Clinton to lead, first tell Obama to step aside.

Corner Stone's picture
Submitted by Corner Stone on

That once again HRC is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't.
If she steps up and *leads* on this issue then every pundit and boiz blogger would spontaneously orgasm in fury at how she was getting in Obama's way, how she couldn't even keep the Unity for any short of amount of time, how everything *always* has to be about her, her, her. Etc.
If she sits back and waits for her party LEADERS to LEAD then she is roundly dismissed as being in the pocket of telcos and not doing what she has the power to do.
It is entirely unclear to me what she is or isn't doing behind the scenes on this issue.
What is entirely clear is that Obama is doing nothing on the center stage - the one he has all to himself.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

"We're Weak and Pathetic, Vote for More of Us!"

Which is why people don't trust them on national security. When you cave on every fucking issue, it's kind of hard to believe you'll fight to protect the American people. Nobody likes weakness.

What is the point of voting Democratic in November if they do this shit. I vote for Democrats to specifically stop this shit.

As for Obama, maybe he wouldn't look weak on national security if he ever did anything on national security beyond talk. He was against the war before he funded it. He's against immunity, but won't do anything to stop it. If you look at polls one of his big problems is that people think he lacks experience. You can't make up for that in six months, but leading can go a long way towards making folks more comfortable with your lack of experience. (It still amazes me that Dems thought they'd be able to write "experience" out of what people look for when selecting a President.)

As for Pelosi and Reid - they're just pathetic at this point. They have to cave on the Constitution because the candidate they selected is showing weakness in the GE (he was doing that before they selected him)? They want to maximize their seats by essentially keeping a bunch of GOP folks in the caucus, ensuring that no matter how many seats they win they will still have to cave to the GOP?

They are nearly as corrupt as the GOP. I'm beginning to think lambert is right and the main difference is they don't torture animals.

Oh, and given this, I'm not expecting a whole lot of leadership from Dodd and the Dems on the mortgage crisis either. Hope they enjoy their privileges while the Constitution is destroyed, the Government is bankrupted, and the middle class turned into an endangered species.

The party is not getting one thin dime from me this election season. Individual candidates, yes. The party - the DNC, the DSCC, or the DCCC - no. I don't give money to Republicans and a large section of them are either Republicans or Republican enablers.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

All the rationalizations in the world will not change the fact that Pelosi, Reid, and OBAMA are the ones in a position to LEAD.

Sweet fuckin jesus.

There is no pressure on Obama to do anything because it's WHAT THEY WANT.

(the alternative being they're totally inept, take your pick)

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Don't kid yourself, they are corrupt and inept. The corrupt ones are doing it for the cash and the power, the inept ones are doing it because they've convinced themselves it's either a good thing or that it will be undone if Obama wins (not going to happen).

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

It seems to me that this is the real reason the PUMA movement (if it's handled right, a big if at this point) and all those angry women could be a good thing. It isn't about FISA specifically,* but it is about Democrats ignoring a good section of their base and trying to make them pay a price for that.

* Although speaking for me, things like this make me feel a lot less compelled to vote for someone simply because he or she has a (D) after their name. As I've said before, my anger at the party isn't just because of the nominating contest - the nominating contest merely crystalized all the things I've been angry at the party about for years: ignoring its base to suck up to the GOP, its adoption of right-wing framing, the cravenness and corruption at the top, its unwillingness to fight for even its most basic principles, etc., etc.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

altho the ActBlue thing where you can target money specifically to one or another candidate is really helpful--it ensures you can give to just the Dems that really are liberal, as opposed to Blue Dogs or LieberDems, etc.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

"it is about Democrats ignoring a good section of their base and trying to make them pay a price for that."

it is also about a democratic party that has no discernable philosophy of governing other than "cling to power"

and a democrtic party whose leaders display little practical regard for the bill of rights in the united states constitution,

and more importantly ,

little practical regard for the anti-crown, anti-authoritarian distrust of government power that lay behind that bill of rights.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

bringiton -

yours is a superb summary, breaking down the players into schools of thought, well, actually, schools of motive.

most informative for me.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

That's what the ActBlue FISA PAC is up to in donations from 2,693 donors. One of whom is me. I'm taking the $ out of what I usually give to the party.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed recording that my occupation was an attorney for the U.S. Government. Some of us still believe in the Constitution.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

They are corrupt, inept and GUTLESS. You can't forget to add the gutless.

So Reid and Pelosi and Obama are going to "vote against" this, and yet have no power to stop it. Yes, when you have no spine, it is tough to make a move of any kind.

Any earthworm will tell you!


Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

Submitted by lambert on

And I did qualify with "that we know of"....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

I feel we have a great opportunity here to evaluate a candidate prior to his election.

We have a campaign promise:

Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it.

(Obama spokesman Bill Burton)

We get to see whether his promises mean anything, and if they do mean something, how effective he is at fulfilling them.

Submitted by lambert on

... since it was about a previous version of the law, and includes the massive qualifier "in its current form." To be fair, Obama's centrist opponent, Hillary Clinton, issued a similarly qualified comment.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

gharlane's picture
Submitted by gharlane on

Dear Thom,

I'm glad you mentioned toward the end of the show today the horrific FISA/telecom amnesty bill Hoyer and company are pushing through Congress.

A broad coalition of organizations and bloggers, including progressive organizations like the ACLU as well as what Glenn Greenwald at Salon describes as the "the Ron Paul/liberty-minded Right (as opposed to the authoritarian-minded Right)" is raising money to target Hoyer and other sponsors of the telecom amnesty bill. They (we) raised $20K in the first hour, $80K in less than 24 hours, with a total raised so far (Wed. midday Pacific time) over $166K.

Glenn Greenwald has more:

Donation page:

Please let your listeners know about this effort and please direct them to the above web page. As you know, and as Ellen Ratner reported on your show today, this bill could hit the floor as early as Friday. A substantial threat of money to target the sponsors of telecom amnesty could, potentially, derail this. After listeners donate, the next move, of course, would be to call Hoyer's office and tell the staffer that they just contributed to the campaign.

Hoyer's direct line is (202) 225-4131.

I contributed last night and just called Hoyer's office.

Your listeners could really help move this along, with help from you.

Many thanks for your hard work and dedication. I listen to your show every chance I get.


This is an example what you can do.

Or you can complain about Obama and about how badly HRC is being treated, damned if/damned if etc.

And sure, you can do both. I just hope the BHO/HRC complaints aren't substituting for actual action.

I'm calling Obama next. Both his Senate office and his campaign office, if there's anyone there to talk to.

Please consider doing likewise.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

This isn’t a decision reached because Obama is the presumptive candidate; exactly the same considerations would apply to a Hillary run, for exactly the same reasons. If the Dems nominated Attila the Hun, Republicans would paint him as inexperienced, weak militarily and soft on national security and crime. For the Dem leadership it is about dealing with an electorate that persists in making bad decisions; I don’t agree with this particular tactic, but they believe it is necessary.

They are, after all, politicians. It is in their nature, and part of their job description, to try and stay in office them selves and facilitate the election of others who will join their caucus. I don’t believe that Pelosi or Reid or Obama or Clinton or any of the Democratic leadership actually wants increased surveillance power for the government, nor do they want immunity for the telecoms. What they do want is to win the next election, and win it big. To accomplish that, they are willing to sell out a principle or two; on a moment’s reflection, not that surprising a decision – for them. The name “Faust” apparently does not give them pause.

What drives this kind of thinking, fundamentally, is the nature of the American electorate. I just can’t find words that are disparaging enough to suit. Half of the eligible voters don’t even bother to show up, so there’s the biggest bunch of apathetic losers on the planet right there. You want someone to blame for why we get suck-all for political leadership? Start with the can’t-be-bothered crowd; they are, to my mind, worse by far than the most corrupt and venal politician.

Of those who do show up, half have no common sense or critical thinking skills whatsoever. The election of 2000? Gore blew it? Corruption in Florida? Nader? The Media? No, not at all; none of those were the real cause. The problem was that damn near 50% of actual voters voted for Bush. Who in their right mind would ever vote for an untreated coke-head alcoholic multiply-failed completely inept businessman who was also the most incompetent and damaging governor in Texas history (and that’s saying something)? Gore should have won the election in 2000 by 538 – 0. That was not the outcome because half of Americans who showed up to vote cast their ballots for someone they saw as just like them – and they were right.

Come 2004, why were there not 10,000,000 people surrounding the Republican Convention with torches and pitchforks demanding Anybody But Bush? Why did Bush get any votes at all that November? Why was Kerry not elected 538 – 0, and Bush hauled off in chains bound for Stony Lonesome along with Cheney and Rove and all the rest? Why wasn’t every single Republican up for election in 2004 soundly defeated? Same reason as in 2000; half the voting electorate is nothing but damn fools.

When you’re quick to criticize the Democratic leadership for these sorts of decisions, and I agree they should be criticized, you might also pause for a moment and see it from their point of view. They have to go sell the Democratic Party to the same electorate that out of the last ten consecutive chances selected Richard Nixon twice, Ronald Reagan twice, and George Bush père et fils three times – not, it appears, an electorate predominantly composed of quick learners. How much would you be willing to give up to ensure they don’t also choose John McCain?

As you consider that, remember – we are not dealing here with rational thinkers. Three-fourths of the American electorate are bloody idiots, and yes I know that saying so out loud isn’t a recipe for coalition building. Some things, however, just demand to be voiced.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

They create narratives that make a scumbag like Bush appear credible. Sure, you can rightly blame those naive enough to fall for it, but most people aren't raised to assume that everything they hear on the news is quite possibly a lie.

Submitted by hipparchia on

and even all the people who don't trust the media, and never have, still they have no other source of information.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

spying on us here illegally, and they have made that clear in poll after poll. They are also against the corporations that commit these crimes--and think that Congress does too much for those corps to begin with.

Congress has a 20% approval rating for a reason--all those idiots disapprove of them--and of Bush.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

VL: "most people aren’t raised to assume that everything they hear on the news is quite possibly a lie." And there's a big part of the problem right there.

Not prepared here to argue nature versus nurture, the effect is the same; bunch of bloody fools, with whom I am in the moment righteously pissed off. Another week or two and surely I'll calm back down to simmering outrage; until then, if we're going to be about blame then put the blame where it fairly belongs. We have the government that we - collective we - have chosen.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

and to think I was told to "not hold back"!

Ok, say for argument sake, the electorate is stupid ("The Dullards"). By extension that means WE should be stupid? Our leaders SHOULD be stupid? Or should they NOT be stupid but instead be corrupt and/or spineless? If that is how low we set the bar then why even bother living? If the Democratic leadership is so afraid of losing that they won't even bother to tinker around the edges of what (you claim) is The Dullards policy agenda then we do not need them as leaders, because they are not bright enough, nor courageous enough to figure out how to do what is best for The Dullards while also making them know it is the best thing for "them".

Oh, wait, I think I already said "our" "leaders" are shit.



Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

also, "Does not play well with others" appears as frequently in my juvenile report cards as it has in my adult job reviews.

C’est la vie.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

I have to give some props here that I didn't expect to give. From Glenn Greenwald:

In response to emails [Sen Obama's] campaign has received over the past couple days, he has been sending out an email containing the following statements:

Giving retroactive immunity to telecom companies is simply wrong. Thankfully, the most recent effort to pass this legislation at the end of the legislative year failed. I unequivocally oppose this grant of immunity and support the filibuster of it. I have cosponsored Senator Dodd's proposal that would remove it from the current FISA bill and continue to follow this debate closely. In order to prevail, the proponents of retroactive immunity still have to convince 60 or more senators to vote to end a filibuster of this bill. I will not be one of them.

So, thank you, Senator, from a big doubter. For now.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

they don't need 60 votes to end a filibuster--they need 60 votes to stop the GOP from simply threatening to filibuster. And the Democrats are in control of this legislation--and immunity--not the GOP.

And Dodd won't be allowed to filibuster this--he wasn't last time either--because of ppl like Rockefeller and Hoyer who are pushing immunity, etc-- they're not threatening to filibuster this at all to ensure immunity--they don't have to.

This is a crock.

Submitted by lambert on

Could we at least get a statement? I know a speech is too much, let alone an appearance on the Senate floor, but email is just a little... weak.

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on


To his crediit, Obama endorser Patrick Leahy is against it. Maybe he'll issue a strongly worded statement?

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

amberglow writes:

they don’t need 60 votes to end a filibuster—they need 60 votes to stop the GOP from simply threatening to filibuster.

You need 60 votes to end a filibuster. Right now, I'm going to parse this as "there will be a filibuster on the new bill, and I will not be voting for cloture". And he deserves props for that.

If he weasels out of it, he deserves our scorn.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

his own party and his own colleagues--who are the ones pushing all this.

You don't filibuster to make something happen that the Senate leadership wants to happen--you filibuster to stop what they want to happen from happening.

Democratic leaders want immunity granted. They control the bills being put forth and their wording--they won't be filibustering anything--they don't need to. Only a hold or stop on the bill can stop it from coming to the floor--filibustering it won't happen at all.

The GOP is happy with immunity as well--there aren't many Senators against immunity of any party.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Obama himself could put a hold on the bill--any Senator can. The GOP did it all the time.

There's no filibuster that's gonna happen on this--it simply needs to be killed or stopped before it hits the floor. A filibuster to stop all Senate business would not do that and isn't a realistic way to stop this--both parties want it to come to a vote.

This is like bringing up hanging chads when talking of voting machines and mandating paper trails--it's not relevant, nor a remedy, but irrelevant.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

to explain why they caved in on everything since they took control--when the truth is that they have never once even forced the GOP to do anything more than just threaten to filibuster. The GOP threatens it, the Dems then cave in, and then they tell us "well, we couldn't get 60 votes to stop a filibuster" -- when no filibuster ever even occurred.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Obama is in a position of leadership right now -- and he can set the national news agenda.

Remember how he managed to make Clinton's gas tax holiday an issue? Remember how his campaign turned Clinton's remarks about RFK into a controversy? He could just as easily do that with the FISA bill.

He is choosing not to, because he doesn't give a shit about the ISSUE -- and he'd rather see it passed than mess with the 'daily message'.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The four-alarm RFK and gas-tax kerfuffles were necessary to prevent an entitled, pant-suited monster from destroying the party by using undemocratic primaries and the support of heartland (psst: that means "racist") and large-state (psst: that means "racist") and swing-state (psst: that means states we don't need in November) voters to return us to the privations of the 1990s.

Championing the FISA issue would take the knowledge of a Constitutional lawyer and a bickering pettiness over the scribblings on an ancient piece of paper. I'm sure one strongly worded statement will more than suffice.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Obama isn't supporting a progressive. Who knew?

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I'm not buying the voters are idiots and so that's why Democratic Leaders are pathetic. There have been many times in U.S. history where the voters were unprepared to do the right thing. Leaders led them to the right thing. FDR led the American people to be ready for WWII when they wanted to be isolationist. And then there's the leaders who accepted a political price for doing the right thing - think of the CIvil Rights laws passed during LBJ's administration. This isn't pandering on some stupid Farm Bill, this is essentially gutting the Constitution. Leaders lead on these issues, they don't cower in a corner worried about some 30-second ad.

I would also argue that perhaps the Democrats wouldn't be perceived of as weak if they didn't CAVE ON EVERY FUCKING THING TO THE GOP. The American people are not wrong on this. They may transfer it over to national security and terrorism, but the fundamental fact is that it's very actions like these that prove the narrative that Democrats are weak is right. They will cave when it comes to protecting the United States Constitution.

And perhaps more people would care about politics if we didn't have essentially two corrupt powers in D.C. who mostly fight over how to split corporate money. The voters turned out the GOP in 2006 because of corruption, Iraq, and other issues. But what have the Democrats given us? They caved on Iraq (again, hard to believe voters see them as weak on these issues), they are caving on this (with the added element of corporate payoffs, hello corruption!). They have failed to stop almost anything they were elected to stop in 2006. They don't even have the stones to make the GOP filibuster wildly popular bills. They simply CAVE. And yet it's the voters fault for not seeing what great champions the party would be for them.

Look, I hate the GOP, but they are very good at making the argument that they believe in X and they will fight for what they believe in and then they follow it up by doing exactly that. They don't always do that, but they do it enough of the time (that's why Democrats are always having to cave because the GOP won't). On some level, even if you disagree with their policies, that's appealing. Because nobody likes weakness. And people trust leaders who they believe will fight for what they believe in even if they disagree with it more than they are going to trust leaders who say they will fight for X and then run away like a frightened rabbit the minute it's clear there's going to be opposition.

As for the media, the Dems have also by and large (with some exceptions) gone along with it's consolidation and an awful lot of the time have done little to nothing to push back against the most damning media narratives, often trying to fit them instead of change them. One of the most striking things about this primary is how much angrier the voters are at the sexist coverage Clinton received (including some Obama supporters and even some Republicans, particularly women), than the Democratic Party leaders are. They sat, once again, silently for it. As did most of the "liberal" members of the Village pundit class.

I believe one of the reasons why Bill Clinton remains so popular and why his wife did so well despite the daily media floggings was because people see them as fighters. When they fight back, as he did on impeachment, the American people rally to them. The Democrats gained seats in 1998.

You'd think the Democrats would look at the one Democrat who has been elected President in the last 30 years for clues about what the American people might be looking for. Instead, they're too busy calling him and his wife polarizing and trying to purge a lot of people who liked them from the party.

I wonder if I would be just another dumb voter for noticing that the one place where Democrats are willing to be strong is in trying to claim power for themselves within the party, even as they're willing to sell out my Constitutional rights.

Fuck 'em.

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

Thanks for articulating everything I have been thinking.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

& Obama is not fighting for us either--on this or on anythning beyond putting himself in the WH--and never will.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Because the great leaders, they just somehow show up. Like superheroes, FDR and LBJ; when you need them there they are, magically appeared.

But, how did LBJ and FDR get into office? I’d have to rummage around for a linking reference, but IIRC they were elected. By voters.

My point, which while you disagree you have not yet refuted, is that voters determine who those elected “Leaders” can be. We still have free elections; yes there are flaws and yes there is manipulation, but they are minor affairs and can only have an effect if the races are close.

How can a George W. Bush get enough votes to even be close? If you have a better explanation than a modern electorate who are dominantly either lazy, ignorant, craven or stupid, please advance it. Until then, I’m going to hold to my thesis that a dominantly lazy, ignorant, craven and stupid electorate will preferentially extrude lazy, ignorant, craven and stupid elected officials who in turn will tend to do lazy, ignorant, craven and stupid things.

Really don’t think it’s any more complicated than that, but I am a simple kind of guy and I do tend to favor simple explanations. I think that when the electorate demands something more than lazy, ignorant, craven or stupid, then the leadership will respond – or be replaced. The reason few decent people run for public office is that the electorate will not support them. Sad, and dispiriting, but there it is. The path to better leadership is through a more enlightened electorate; until then, what we have is what we will continue to get.

Pelosi and Reid and Dean and Obama and Clinton are not bad people, but they have a very low opinion of the average American voter and I can’t say as I blame them. I would, personally, prefer to see them lead by example and stand up openly for constitutionality and law and justice and all that sort of stuff, but the lesson of the last ten presidential elections is that the electorate on balance doesn’t care a whit about those things. Standing on principle will not win this election, and winning the election is all they care about.

I don’t agree with the tactic, but when half the country doesn’t even show up for an election and more than half of those who do cast their votes for a simpering brain-damaged malicious petty lying fuckwit whose flaws are so evident that 90% of the rest of the world can see him for what he is, then these are the kinds of decisions that will get made.

Calls to punish the Democrats by voting for McCain? If I needed more evidence of how fucking idiotic some portions of the American electorate can be, that puts the cherry on top. I rest my case.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

But I said he'd do nothing.

This is more than nothing.

It remains to be seen whether anything comes of it, but it wouldn't be intellectually honest of me to not acknowledge I was was wrong. Which is what I was doing.

Also, amberglow: I was unaware that senate procedure only allowed the minority party to filibuster. I learn something new every day!