Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Hall of Shame

Democrats in the Senate who rolled over today for the President's illegal wire-tapping program, and the subsequent immunity cover-up.

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
No surprise to see Leiberman's name on there. Very disappointing to see Obama's name on there (thanks for listening Senator). And seeing McCaskill (D-MO) on there simply pisses me off. I phone banked for her campaign in 2006.


  1. I bet it pisses you off that Matheson isn't on that list.

  2. Though he did support this bill on June 20th, Matheson is a congressman, not a senator, making it nearly impossible for his name to be on that list.

    Thanks for playing!

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  4. I'll have to confess that it provides me, as a lifelong warhorse Republican, a considerable amount of amusement, as I watch all the lefties in the Utah blogoshere lash out at their own party (and Barrack Obama) re the FISA matter.

    Here's a Daily Kos article I believe all of you Utah lefties ought to consider:

    A pragmatist's view on FISA

    The author speculates that Obama's so-called "flip-flop" is effectively a well-reasoned campaign decision "not to fight and die on this hill."

    The author makes a very well-reasoned point that the fourth amendment (and the sixth) actually died with the Patriot Act, and that the current debate about the FISA act is mere diversion, i.e. "political theater," with much sound and fury, signifying nothing (to paraphrase the Bard).

    I'd suggest that all Utah Democrats who take the knee-jerk position thsat Obama has "rolled over," consider the argument in this article.

    I'll disclose that I'm obviously NOT an Obama fan, but I will also say at the same time that I hold Obama in extremely high respect, due to his obviously exceptional intellect.

    I hope everyone who reads your most excellent blog will take the time to read the above article, and consider its contents.

    Time to consder the legal nuances, Utah lefties, and to cease lashing out until you understand the full political terrain, methinks.

  5. Rudizink,

    I appreciate your addition to the debate, but there is a bit more than "political theater" going on here, and to dust it off as such is extremely naive. And considering your (much justified, I might ad) distaste for Ogden Mayor Godfrey, I am surprised that you would find the FISA issue simply humorous, and not infuriating. Back door dealings seem to be something you rally against, not mock.

    The Patriot Act was a travesty, to say the least, but to say it killed the 4th amendment and therefore the FISA debate is meaningless is, while a unique approach, quite simply ridiculous.

    At issue in the FISA debate for this "leftie" was the prospect of granting retro-active immunity to phone companies who broke the law (keeping in mind that some phone companies were foresighted enough to tell the President to get bent). Obama voted against Title II, which granted that immunity. Where's the political theater in that, I ask? He simply knew that this bill was going through, and used decided that supporting this bill (while still voting against the immunity title) would gain him more voters than those he would lose. He was simply assuming those that bitch on this issue will still vote for him because their only other choice is a 72 year old moron. And he was right. Is this the genius you are referring to? Because to me, this is typical campaigning, and in no way a reason to keep quiet when one disagrees, as you seem to be urging us to do.

    And Matheson voted for this poorly conceived cave-in to the Preznit simply because he is a member of the Blue Dog caucus, a group that formed under the umbrella of "fiscally responsibility" but have since used the caucus as an excuse for voting as Republicans do on social issues, and matters relating to the White House. Where's the political genius you are lauding in that?

    There is no greater political terrain to understand here. Democrats have consistently caved to Republicans any time they are accused of being "weak on terror." Until they stand up, and stay standing, the betrayal of our constitution continues. No genius political maneuvering, no "theater." Simply politics. And when we disagree with candidates or representatives, we should speak up, not assume they know more than us, and call that educated voting.

  6. That's nice. Take a breather and read the article, ferchrissake.

    The situation's a lot more nuanced and complicated than some of you lefties seem to think... methinks.

    (Glad to hear, BTW, that you apparently share our view about "Son of Perdition" Godfrey.)

    I'll check back later to confirm that you've at least taken a look at the above-linked DAily Kos article.

    After that, maybe we can have a little talk.

  7. Rudizink,

    I believe you misunderstand. I did read the article. While it is an accurate assessment (for the most part) of the intricacies of the FISA court, surveillance, and even the various agencies involved, it is irrelevant to my objections to the granting of retro-active immunity for AT&T and Verizon. This issue is without a doubt devoid of the nuances you would like to portray. The immunity was not necessary. It shouldn't have passed.

    And "that's nice"? I'm sorry, I assumed you stopped by to have an adult discussion. It appears not, and thus I have little interest in having a little talk.

    But we do agree on Godfrey. The man is an icon of the perpetual campaign.

  8. In Rudizink's defense, Jason, I don't think he's been following this closely enough to understand your experience and involvement with the FISA battle. I mean I get what he's trying to say, but it really isn't relevant what so ever to what The SideTrack and others are/were working for in their criticism of Matheson. It's not that you're wrong, Rudi, you just are not following along closely enough to understand what people are saying and fighting for over the past 9 months. There are many erroneous presumptions in your comment here about those you are trying to attack, which is never a good way to present an intelligent argument, as most likely (in this case for sure) you misunderstand what those you want so much to disagree with are even saying in the first place. You're boxing your own shadow. And just IMHO, the dailykos article you reference does much the same thing. Luckily about 800 commenters shared my view and promptly corrected the diary author.

  9. Ah c'mon guys. Give me a little credit. Just because I haven't been feverishly blogging about the issue (for the last 9 months) it doesn't mean I fail to understand the issues. The principle Jason and so many other lefties (and many righties) have been fighting for is borne of the highest ideal - the sanctity of the fourth amendment. Nothing could be more obvious. And Jason and all other like-minded civil libertarians should be congratulated for that.

    What the Kos author (NCrissieB) is arguing, however, is political pragmatism. Pragmatism is of course where political idealism meets political reality. I'll say more about that in a minute.

    And the argument she makes is that the effects of the current tinkering with FISA won't make a dime's worth of difference in the big picture. The real problem, she argues, is the damage that was done to the 4th and 6th amendments upon the original passage of the Patriot Act, which brought down the "wall of separation" between foreign intelligence surveillance, and garden variety criminal law jurispridence. The FISA courts will continue to remain administration "rubber stamps" after yesterday's FISA amendments, just as they have always been over the past 19 years. Thus, she argues, the current raging debate about FISA amendments is largely irrelevant. So long as secret FISA courts continue operating in tandem with the Patriot Act, the 4th amendment rights of all Americans will remain one big joke.

    And here's where the pragmatism argument comes in:

    If all goes well for the Democratic Party this year, Democrats will control both the legislative and executive branches, beginning in 2009. And it's at that time, NCrissieB argues, that the party of Jefferson should set into action their project of rescuing the 4th amendment. Although current political polling reveals the Democratic Party will be successful in November, that outcome is nevertheless not carved in granite.

    If I were a Democratic party adviser I'd be advising my client to be pragmatic for the time being. I'd advise that the railing about FISA "caving" be immediately brought to a halt. I'd advise that during the 3-1/2 month pre-election runup that Democratic party activists tone down their rhetoric and work to build party unity, and do their very danged best to not get painted into a corner as the party that's "soft" regarding the national security boogieman.

    Once the new congress and president are sworn in in January, I would advise, let the fourth amendment idealists be unlashed.

    And what say you both about that?

  10. rudi - in the diary it says: In terms of constitutional safeguards, the current FISA bill is a non-issue. Yes, it allows telecoms to raise "color of law" immunity as an affirmative, threshhold defense. And yes, that means the telecoms very likely will never be held to account for violations of FISA.

    Yes it is important to protect the 4th amendment, but so is holding people (and corporations and government officials) accountable to the laws that exist, not giving them a free pass because the president wants to (for some, this is the most important) issue regarding this current bill.

    This bill gives the telcos a pass on breaking the law, and now we'll never know what the white house said to get them to willingly invade unknown numbers of individuals privacy.

    And these Democrats voted for it.

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  12. "Yes, it allows telecoms to raise "color of law" immunity as an affirmative, threshhold defense. And yes, that means the telecoms very likely will never be held to account for violations of FISA."

    Hate to break it to ya's Craig. The "good faith color of law affirmative defense" also exists under "common law."

    It's an affirmative defense that already exists for telcom civil defendants.

    It's really nothing new at all, except that now its a statutory defense.

    I do understand that you'd like to punish the telcoms, even though they'd pass the penalty onto you and other consumers.

    Consider, BTW, what happened to the one telcom company, Quest, and its CEO Mr. Nachio, who refused to cooperate with the Bush Administration and its National Security Letters.

    Don't think for a minute that the other telcoms didn't get the message.

    As I cautioned before... be patient. It's the Democrats' time at the wheel, now that the neoCON faction who've hijacked my beloved GOP party have "blown it" so VERY badly.

    Hopefully the lefties in the Demoratic Party won't blow their opportunity at this juncture, like they did in 2004.

  13. Rudi,

    Huh? I don't know where you have dusted off this incomplete understanding of law, but you could not be more "off." I don't say that as an insult, but merely to be blunt. Educate yourself on these matters before beginning a discussion, because you may have something to offer the debate, and it is impossible to give you credibility when you miss the mark by so far in the very foundation of what you present.

    First off (again) your grasp of what this debate was about from the start if tenuous at best. You make many assumptions that say, to those of us heavily involved, that you have been half paying attention. And common law? That is not even remotely relevant in this issue. "Color of law"? Again, irrelevant in a constitutional debate. Irrelevant in a debate that veers toward executive powers. Irrelevant. From your first comment to this last, irrelevant to what has just happened, and the efforts that were stomped by a cowardly House.

    And as for your "theatrical" politics, asserting that there is something to be blown for standing up to the administration, or that Obama's likely election as the next President of the United States is at risk because many disagree with his vote on this bill and attempted to sway him is ridiculously naive. Proclaiming that there is logic in the "sage" advice of "patience" you offer on this issue implies a type of politics that I, for one, am glad only you subscribe to. Waiting for the "master plan" to be enacted, when you could be using your blog and readership to help craft the "master plan" is, to me, the weak man's path.

    You would like to believe there is a grand, majestic show playing out on this issue, when it is simply bad politics, bad decision making, and capitulation by Democrats still gun shy from having their patriotism questioned (so successfully and so often) in the past 8 years for the slightest sign of opposition. This was an opportunity for them to stand up, dispel the image they have allowed Republicans to create of them, and show leadership on an issue that has been twisted beyond recognition (few even remember there was little need to even make an adjustment to 30 yr old FISA legislation, outside of making basket warrants the standard, redefining "search and seizure," and granting retro-active immunity to AT&T and Verizon. Incidentally, the article you reference on the supposed retribution Qwest experienced for refusing to participate until the NSA produced a warrant is factually inaccurate. They paid no price. In fact, they have seen nearly 3 times the growth in their wireless and DSL services that can be directly linked (simply because they are using their record as a marketing tool in many areas) to their defense of customer privacy over an over-reaching administration.

    The original article you site as justification is completely irrelevant. Political "theater" does not interest me, nor is it something I'd ever instruct voters to pin their future on. Obama is a very capable Senator, and will make an amazing President (I believe this is evidenced simply by the campaign architecture he is using so far... and I hope he carries it into his White House). That doesn't change the fact that he was wrong on this issue, and Russ Feingold surpassed him like a speeding train in sheer magnitude of leadership and fight.

    I understand where you are coming from. I understand even why you would feel it is good advice. But I do not agree, nor would I instruct others to take you seriously. Despite the failure of activists in stopping this legislation, the debate has been framed. The issue has been (has always been) the issue of immunity, and you argue that we should should have kept quiet on this because Telecom's will raise their rates if we hold them accountable? Seriously?

    The precedent granting retro-active immunity for those who complied without the common sense of asking for a warrant first cannot be justified away so simply, no matter how much you wish it to be so. It is a betrayal of the oath of office each and every Rep and Senator swore when taking office. If we don't at least try to demand that duty from them, who exactly are we at that point?

    Unfortunately, I do not have time to continue better informing you on this issue. Good luck in your efforts advise inaction to others with poor understanding of issues. When you tire of this outdated attitude toward activism, perhaps you will consider using your forum and readership to make a difference here in Utah, rather than obsessing over Blog Net News ratings (yes, we all notice, many of us just have better things to do, so have at it, say I) and defending so aggressively flawed logic - lecturing as you do to those who may be able to teach you much (and believe me, on this issue, we've done our research, and would love to educate, should you show willingness rather than pomposity).

    I say none of this simply to insult, nor is there an ounce of spite in my feelings toward your comments here. I appreciate the debate, but we've been at this for a few years now, and you're not the first uninformed blogger I've conversed with in the comments of The SideTrack, nor will you be the last, and continued discussion is relatively pointless. You aren't coming here to converse, or (god forbid!) learn, but to effect arrogance to cover a complete lack of understanding on an issue that should matter greatly to you. WILL, matter greatly to you, I dare say.

    As a final extension of good will to you, feel free to shoot me an email if you'd like to be better informed on this issue. I can provide you with a good weekend's worth of reading, and would be more than happy to take the time to do so.

  14. Jason, I always get a chuckle at your ability to sound so nice while being such a complete asshole.

    But right he is, Rudi. I have studied and instructed law (not by choice always, believe me) for the past 9 years, and your understanding of it is, at best, vague.

    This issue is much larger than one election. THis vote was a step toward institutionalized fascism. Obama will survive (to think otherwise is very unrealistic, but makes sense if you're coming into this with a Republican background... it's very "un" Republican to break ranks with the nominee or President, right? Not so damaging for Democrats, who historically encourage dissent and debate to form their policy. But the message this latest vote sends to Americans is much like the message German leaders sent just before the rise of Hitler. I believe America could never follow that path, but so many (like you Rudi) not recognizing the similarity of reasoning (lack there of is perhaps a better phrase) is frightening.

    As a law scholar, I applaud those who have fought this issue, especially those who challenged Obama to respond. The Senator cum future President has been white-knuckled. It was a calculated and shrewdly political decision on his part (as Jason said earlier, he gained or broke even more than he lost, in terms of number of voters), and it gave him opportunity to squelch the last angle McCain may have been able to use. Nothing more. And none of that makes it a legally or constitutionally correct decision. Simply a political decision. To misunderstand that, Rudi, speaks volumes to your lack of any real perspective on this one.

    RUdi foolishly implies that challenging immunity for the telecommunication companies was not an important battle to wage because there is a larger "theater" at play (or was it because they would raise our rates, Rudi?). To be crude, that and similar notions are shit for brains thinking. There is no "show" of greater importance than the disassembling of the backbone of American principle. If we continue down this path, it will matter not one iota which party wins which election, we will no longer be a Republic striving for Democracy, but rather a failing regime with the pretense of power in a world that passes us by. We may have discovered liberty and independence, but now other countries are watching us piss it away. Unless we get back on track, they will leave us behind.

  15. Also, both of you may want to take a look at Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman's comments on the new FISA bill (Jason, for more info on just how far this goes, Rudi, it explains clearly just how wrong you are about the new FISA leg. being just an extension of "common law" notions).

  16. "It was a calculated and shrewdly political decision on his part (as Jason said earlier, he [Obama]gained or broke even more than he lost, in terms of number of voters), and it gave him opportunity to squelch the last angle McCain may have been able to use."

    Exactly right, Ryan; and that's of course my whole point.

    Obama played it smart; unlike the leagues of American progressives who screamed for his scalp, after his so-called FICA amendment "rollover."

    There will be plenty of opportunity for Obama and his newly-elected congress to "fix" Fourth Amendment incursions in 2009, dontcha think, provided that's what they'd like to do?

    Read your linked article BTW, and I don't believe it added much to the discussion, frankly. As I already said I already understand the argument that the Fourth Amendment stands gutted, and is in need of major rehab.

    (Love it, BTW, Ryan, whenever some ivory tower law professor tries to "pull rank" on this old battle-hardened barrister.) Lots to be learned about "pragmatism" for those who've fought it out in the trenches.

    As for Jason... well... he's just being Jason, I guess. Like many Democratic party activists, it seemed to me he'd rather stand on a soapbox than get his own candidate elected.

    Thanks for playing, fellas. I don't imagine there will be much more discussion for an article that's fallen so far down-thread.

  17. "Zink", you're an idiot. Breaking ranks with the Senator/candidate on this issue, and the ensuing dialog is exactly what IS going to get Obama elected. Go figure a Republican wouldn't understand that. You guys are trained/taught to not question. As someone above mentioned, it's the "perpetual campaign" mentality the GOP has turned into religion. Implying that disagree with the candidate will cost him the election is retarded. Obama's fundraising (though currently in a slump) is a result of the very fact that he encourages such debate within his campaign. He's leaving the flawed and now (thankfully) defunct politics Mr. Zink is trying to prop up (weakly, and without much to back it up, I might ad) behind, and thank God for that.

    Please try to keep up, Mr. Zink. There is a lot you could be learning. And if you are a blogger, as earlier comments imply, you should be on top of this, not trailing behind so. It's a new age for politics. You're "concern-trolling" yourself into a category of those who want to maintain the status quo. I applaud both Obama and the supporters who fought him on his FISA vote for their efforts. And another point Mr. Zink seems oblivious of is that Obama actually DID vote against the immunity title in the FISA bill, which is what the "soapbox" as Mr. Zink wants to call it was all about in the beginning.

    Some people fight to remain stupid. Other's fight for change. This comment thread is a perfect example of the two mindsets.

  18. While I wouldn't have worded it so harshly, Rudi, Ryan has made the point I planned to make already (often our commenters are quicker than the staff).

    While I agree with the basic "gist" of the argument you are reaching to make here, it is irrelevant, and you have completely missed the entire point of the FISA battle.

    And just to point it out again, you earlier asserted that if we were to fight telco immunity, it would raise our rates, and thus we shouldn't fight. That is indicative of what you have displayed here: a political philosophy I am enthusiastic to see dying out as a younger, more responsive and engaged generation of activists take the reigns.

    I'm not saying you don't offer valuable insight, I'm simply saying it pertains very little to what the fight against retro-active immunity was about, and if you believe the disagreement many had with Obama (and Matheson of course) is something to be avoided in American politics, well, then you are a part of the problem, and shall fade away into irrelevance with the rest of the established capitulating factions.

    As a cynic myself, I believe about 10% of what progressive Democrats fight for will meet with success (the establishment is simply too large). But as a long time activist, I find the argument you are making completely out of touch, and fairly uninformed.

    Unfortunately, people like you are too often in the majority. But we aim to change that soon. It requires more effort these days to remain obtuse and resist better information than it does to simply sit back and take it all in, forming opinions AFTER you learn, not before as an excuse not to.

  19. Read this, Jason. speaking from the position of a mucky-muck in Weber county GOP politics, with a fairly extensive backgound in national GOP politics over the past 30 years, this is what MANY of the hard-core paleo-Republicans in the GOP rank and file believe now:

    A living Agenda for a Dying Party

    Trust me. Many in the GOP are hoping for a GOP debacle in 2008, so that we can roudily oust the neoCONS, and restore our party to one which stands for small and frugal government, jealous regard for constitutionally provided civil liberties, and non intervention in foreign and traditionally non-govermnmental domestic affairs.

    We're counting on YOU GUYS to deliver the coup de gras to the corporo-fascists who now control our party, since GOP traditionals have been so painfully inadept at this.

    It's you guys' turn at the wheel... and many of us are hoping you don't blow it like you did in 2004.

    That's why I admonished you to be practical, and to avoid playing into the Rovesque FISA Fourth Amendment trap which had obviously set for Obama.

    In the broad political game, there's no room for savaging your own candidates, I believe. There's plenty of time to strut idealism, after your candidates are sworn into office.

    And why, you may ask, don't we all join the Democratic party in this?

    Simple answer: The Democrats still remain a party in favor of Big Government. Lefties these days are typically left-wing socialists; and the neoCONS in power now are the Big Government right-wing socialists. Think Hitler and Mussolini, if you like.

    Enjoy your allies while you have them, Jason; and remember that many in the GOP stand behind you in your defense of civil liberties.

    The only thing we ask is that you play it smart... like Obama did.

    As to the fourth Amendment issues, the "debate," such as it is, continues to be non-partisan, I think.

  20. Ryan, when my children wind up in law school, as I'm sure several of them will, I would hope they don't suffer the handicap of studying under a blockhead like you.