The Sun Always Rises

The sun always dawns a new day, and so it has again. The day after a disappointing yesterday. Possibly we get so wrapped up in all the swirling malevolence and scorched trail of destruction by the Administration that is Cheney/Bush, the ravenous corporate robber plunderers, and the feeble enabling Democratic Leadersheep, that we forget that there is still a whole lot that is good, that still maintains, and that is worth feeling warm and fuzzy about and fighting for. Let’s all remember that it does maintain and, as Roberto Benigni would say, Life Is Beautiful.

Marcy is going to take a couple of days off to chill, do some gardening, and have a couple of pints of Beamish with Mr. Wheel. Good, she deserves it. She puts absolutely a ton of heart and effort into both this blog and the common effort as a whole. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but she does a heck of a lot more than you see on the surface, and we are all better for it. And I can tell you, in fact, I think you all personally know from your own passion, that the constant battle seeps inside of you and can consume a great deal of your soul along the way. Disappointment burns, and sometimes you just need to step back so you can realize the tremendous value and beauty of all that you are fighting for.

So, I will be minding the store for the weekend. Marcy may drop by, she may not, but trust me she knows we are all here; and I assure you she is having some much needed fun (and pulling weeds from the yard is way fun!), is working on some great stuff, and will be back Monday and raring to go. In the meantime, I will put up some substantive posts here and there and all here should feel free to use this post, and any this weekend, as a free floating discussion forum on whatever is of interest. If there is anything uniquely significant, then we will deal with that too.

Lastly, several people turned off their cloaking devices and delurked in the last couple of days to say hi and relate their thoughts. That is a good thing. If you are smart enough, and passionate enough, to read this blog religiously, you are plenty good to contribute. Myself excluded, there are some of the finest minds available that participate here, and from some incredibly diverse backgrounds. We are all strong and opinionated people, and there are no sacred lambs that cannot be picked apart, not even Marcy, and certainly not me. From the outside looking in, it might seem sharp elbowed, testy and intimidating. But that is true only from the analytical perspective, not the compassionate. Everyone’s theories, positions, thought and comments are subject to the scrutiny; as well they should be. That is why this, overall, is the best, most rational, and most elegant blog in the blogosphere. If I do say so myself; and I do. It is because of you. All of you. So if you are a regular but have been hesitant to jump in, hop to it. You will be fine and we will all be better as a result.

To quote the type of leader we could have used in the last couple of days, Jean Luc Picard, "Engage!"

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134 replies
  1. posaune says:

    hi bmaz, i’m one of those folks who is amazed by this site — it’s like watching a great tennis match! it’s easy to feel like your three plays behind! we’ll try, though! huge thanks to marcy and you for your great work in the last week!

    • bmaz says:

      I would say welcome, but I know you have been around the community for a good long time, so are not new. But welcome for this morning, cheers and stay engaged. Cool name too!

  2. allan says:

    Could someone please tell me how to make
    negative contributions on ActBlue?

    For some reason, John Barrow, Jerry McNerney
    and Jane Harman are all listed.

    But seriously, this is a time when those Democrats who voted for
    their country and not just for the approval of the Fred Hiatts
    and David Brooks of the world deserve as much support as we can each afford.

  3. Tross says:

    Good Morning, BMAZ.

    I’m delurking twice in one week! Here’s my letter to the Obama campaign:

    Mr. Burton,

    Obama’s statement on FISA is insulting and disingenuous. Please, if your candidate is going to pander to the center for strategically political leverage then do so without insulting the intelligence of the electorate.

    We are in no way more safe due to this legislation, especially since the original FISA never expired. Invoking the war on terror and the safety of Americans while reneging on his Constitutionally-solid stance of refusing to allow retroactive immunity is right out of the political playbook of those who don’t want to see “change” in Washington.

    May I suggest that your candidate tread lightly in these waters. No candidate is inevitable. And winning the presidency by “flipping the bird” to the base could be a dangerous strategy given we have been known to make a little noise (See Donna Edwards, if you don’t understand).

    I’ve been persuading my family and friends to become engaged in this campaign. Your candidates decision on FISA is definitely a set-back and has cost him the confidence of many potential voters. Another decision like this and the Senator can expect A LOT MORE push-back and A LOT LESS money from those average Americans he depends on to fund his campaign.

    • Peterr says:

      I’m delurking twice in one week! . . .

      If you’re not careful, Tross, that’ll turn into a habit. Given the nice letter you posted, that’s one habit I’d like to encourage. In that vein . . .

      If you hear back from the campaign, share the reply with us as well.

    • bmaz says:

      Excellent letter. We have to stop meeting like this! Seriously, there was a chap that played basketball, at my high school here in Arizona, with your name. Great guy. Must be contagious with the name eh?

      Marie @9 – Alas no, I was not able to make it, which bummed me out. If you go, chat him up and tell him to come join us here. I have an inkling he knows and may even have covertly visited here, but I am not sure. At any rate, I think he would like it.

      • MarieRoget says:

        Will do. Pretty sure I’ve the time to go down to Warwicks while on the hill over @ UCSD. I’m pretty good w/the chatting up, plus want to have my copy of In Justice signed.

        I know from friends that John McKay, former USA from Seattle, reads FDL, btw.

        Leaving now for the wknd. TTFN

      • Tross says:

        I’ve been getting that a lot lately, bmaz. I didn’t realize my name was so popular. Googled myself once, there’s a very prolific children’s book author of the same name, too.

  4. TobyWollin says:

    Good afternoon, bmaz; thanks for keeping things going for Marcy..she works so hard and her brain burns so brightly that she deserves time to recharge with her family and get away from the swamp for a while. I am constantly in awe of the amazing amounts of knowledge, humor, poetry writing ability, passion and just plain stubborn-ness that people here have. There are times when I just have to wander away and sit at the sewing machine or something like that. I first came here during the infamous “Libby Live Blog” and haven’t left since. There are things that I have given up to be here, to read, to become informed, to yell at my congress critters, to educate my kids. It’s worth it. I sometimes recall my parents’ stories from WWII(they were in Glasgow, Scotland during the bombings, etc.) – I remember my father telling one where he was studying at his desk and his landlady was going crazy banging on his door, yelling at him to evacuate – he grabbed his medical texts and ran outside and across the street to see what everyone was excited about. They were pointing to the roof of his building, where there was an overhang – the Germans had some sort of bomb that they used to let loose that had extensions on them that would catch on roofs, overhangs, etc. and that would detonate them. In this case, the bomb somehow caught on the overhang on the roof above HIS window during the bombing during the night(while they were in the shelter)it had not detonated..no one had noticed it until daylight. Even while there was this war on, people had to go on with their daily lives, in the faith that it would all work out eventually. And in the midst of all of it, there were times of laughter and tears, and frustration and anger, but with everyone working toward the same goal..it did eventually work out. It might not seem that we are in the midst of a war here at home right now, but sometimes it feels that way, with the Bush/Cheney Administration at war againts the Constitution and the rest of us. And yesterday was not a good day for the American People – but we must not lose faith that if we keep marching ahead and working and making meaningful steps(Donna Edwards)toward the goal…it’s going to work. Perhaps not today and perhaps not even within the next Administration’s first year or two..but we have to keep working at it.

  5. FormerFed says:

    Hi BMAZ, hot as hell down here in Tucson. I got so hot yesterday that I wrote a “For Shame” email to Gabby. That doesn’t mean that I am going to jump on Tim Bee’s bandwagon, but she still needs to know how some of us feel about the FISA debacle.

    Have a great one and keep up the super work!!

  6. MarieRoget says:

    Well, good morning, all. After yesterday’s crapfest, I’m leaving shortly & going upstate to camp out @ Jalama Beach CA (also to get out of the heat in L.A.; amazingly hot even in Santa Monica). Those foggy mornings & great hikes through the sand dunes & sage can be a real tonic. I could use one.

    Bmaz, did you get to the David Iglesias book event over @ Changing Hands last eve? Turns out I’ll be going to UC San Diego for biz & will probably have time to catch the speak & sign he’s got scheduled in La Jolla next week.

  7. Mauimom says:

    (and pulling weeds from the yard is way fun!)

    Particularly if you give each weed a name before you yank it out by its ugly head. ”Nancy, get the hell out of my garden.” ”Steny, you *%^$%@.”

    Jonathan Turley said that ”it’s not over” and that Congress needs to hear about how upset constituents are about this: that they can’t just sneak this crap through without a firestorm.

    So I suggest using the weekend to fire up the old ”dear friends” e-mail list and asking everyone you know to e-mail, write or fax their Congresscritter. Remember [speaking as a former Congressional staffer] your message DOESN’T have to be long or eloquent. It’s quantity [”crap, we got 482 letters on this!!”] vs. quality. They really only count the numbers.

    I’d also suggest missives to the DCCC and DSCC [Chris Van Hollen & Chuck Shumer] reminding them that a) we raised a hell of a lot of $$$ in a very short time; b) that fund-raising prowess is NOT coming in their direction [and probably consumes $$$ that could have gone to them]; and c) we don’t take kindly to money we’ve previously sent them going to support folks who are going to sell off our constitutional rights.

    PS – preview apparently no-workee here or on firedoglake.

  8. GeorgeSimian says:

    I came here around the time of the Libby trial, or a little before. I used to go to a site called Georgewbush.org, which had a great forum. They closed down after the 2004 election. Miss those guys.

    I’m thankful for the work done here. I only wish our Congressmen would be a little more responsive so it wouldn’t seem like we were repeating ourselves so much and just banging our head against the wall.

  9. marksb says:

    Good morning! After that crazed day Friday, one of the busiest at my business–non-stop ’till about 9–and all this hue and cry and drama unfolding on my computer screen every half hour as I’d duck in and check the action, today is (almost) chill. Except it’s almost a hundred already.

    Santa Barbara has a wonderful tradition this weekend, the summer solstice parade. If ever you are in our town on solstice weekend, catch it.

    All of you have a lovely day, stay cool, and as my sister often tells me, trust the f*cking process (TTFP).

  10. Mary says:

    4 – Very nice
    120 from the below thread is worth the read as well.

    This item up at folo http://www.folo.us/2008/06/21/…..ment-28650 recites and interesting story told by Lawrence Wright (Looming Tower – great book) to Ira Glass in a recent interview and lotus there pulls out and highlights the info that:

    Before 9/11, he said, the whole FBI had exactly eight agents able to speak Arabic or Farsi, Pashto, Dari, or any of the other regional languages that al Qaeda members use. Guess how many they have now, seven years later.

    Nine.

    Right – so what NSA needs to be doing is scooping more and more crap that they can’t handle efficiently and effectively anyway, while leaving stored access to any political twit like a Bolton who wants to get som oppor research, and for any criminally inclined person to use all kinds of passwords and financial info compiled on us citizens.

    I have to go do some physical work this weekend to cool off. Right now I am so angry that when I go out with the Shepherds they are almost dangerous if a car drives up. They can tell I’m on a hair trigger and they’re looking for someone to bite for me.

    Some people make themselves calm down for the children – I do it for the dogs. *g*

    • drational says:

      I am surprised your Shephards would even know how to bite. I kinda picture them holding your leash most of the time….*g*.

    • Tross says:

      Mary,

      I have a wolf-hybrid with the same attitude. Can’t go for a walk now, though, since it’s hot as Hades today.

      The heat doesn’t help one’s mood after the FISA debacle, that’s for sure.

    • KenMuldrew says:

      Mary nails it. If you want privacy from here on out, learn to speak Arabic (or Farsi, or probably any of a hundred languages or so). They’ll have your every conversation on file, but it will remain as some untranscribed pile of bits in a huge warehouse where “top men are working on it”. No worries there.

      • PJEvans says:

        Gaelic or Welsh or Hungarian or Estonian or Finnish …. not common languages, not many speakers, in this country. Or Basque, which is supposed to be so difficult that after several years the Devil could only say ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
        They probably have a lot of Russian translators, though.

  11. drational says:

    Allright.
    hre is something to discuss:
    http://www.miamiherald.com/gua…..77594.html

    Now that there will be real judges reviewing the GTMO detainee evidence, the government wants to beef up the evidence.

    6 years of bullshit and they want a do-over.

    Like FISA, this is another important issue that too few care about. But unlike FISA, this issue will persist through the summer and through the elections as they try to prosecute KSM and others.
    So hopefully BMAZ, you will keep posting on GTMO. I sure will, but alas, no one cares about this over at the great orange.

    • FormerFed says:

      I saw a bit on this yesterday. Amazing now that they have to go before a real Judge, they have determined that their “evidence” is a little weak. Just saying “He’s guilty, because I say so” doesn’t cut it anymore.

      And we want to trust any Administration with no oversight to say “the wiretapping is needed because we say it is needed” and believe it. Being in the Executive branch all my career I am a great believer in the independent review process.

      • drational says:

        “Just saying “He’s guilty, because I say so” doesn’t cut it anymore.”

        This is a great thing to remember as the sun rises again tomorrow.
        It doesn’t cut it five times out of nine, subject to renegotiation if McCain wins.

        So even though we learned twice this week that Obama is a triangulating opportunist, he remains the triangulating opportunist most likely to keep me and my offspring out of political prisons.

        Pick weeds, then back to the salt mines.

        • Bushie says:

          Boy that’s damning by faint praise!

          Obama, the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, either caved on an important privacy issue or has given us a glance into his governance as President, i.e. triangulation. My feeling is the latter. He had the time and political power to defeat the bill in the House. He instead backed THE POWERS THAT BE, including Cheney/Bush. If he shows up for the Senate vote, he may vote no on FISA, knowing full well the bill will pass. Just what the Nation needs, another hypocrite.

          Call the Obama campaign

          866-675-2008 To get through: 1. Wait until the message asks you to press 4 for your contribution. 2. Press 6 instead. A volunteer will answer. 3. Vent

          • cbl2 says:

            this is the highest placed FISA post over at Obamaworld – go over and show the poster some love (not me) and remember to be nice to all the starry eyed newbies

            • Tross says:

              I just went over and posted my letter, too. Let’s hope BO’s campaign staffers get the message that we are not buying what Obama’s trying to sell us.

            • Bushie says:

              Thanks I did and found this petition:
              To: Senator Barack Obama

              Senator Obama:

              On Friday, June 20th, an unconstitutional FISA update bill passed the House of Representatives, which will legitimize the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. It will give extensive powers of surveillance to the executive branch and provide an avenue for retroactive immunity for the telecoms companies that illegally spied on American citizens.

              As the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party–and most likely the next President of the United States–your words and actions in the Senate carry a lot of weight. Therefore, we ask two things of you:

              1) That you speak out against the bill in its entirety and encourage other Senators to vote against it when it comes up for a vote in the Senate next week.
              2) That when called to vote on the FISA Bill, that you vote against it in its entirety.
              [snip]
              To sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/…..ition.html

          • NealDeesit says:

            At 5″50 PDT, all I got at 866-675-2008 were these two messages: 1. We’re sorry that a volunteer operator is not available to take your call, please leave us a message so that we can properly follow up; 2. Messges can be recorded at this time.

            I guess with a few dozens of millions of small contributors’ dollars in his pocket, Obama is still relying on a Radio Shack answering system.

            Oh, I was invited to go to barackobama.com, but good luck there finding Obama’s recent “I support the compromise” handwaving, or a place to respond to it.

      • PJEvans says:

        It’s sort of the DA mindset: they arrested the guy, they’ve got an indictment, now they can jail him. Evidence? Hey, anyone who’s been arrested must be guilty, or they wouldn’t have been arrested.

        I wish that last line was a joke, but too many people think that way. And a lot of DAs really do think that way. Cases that are so weak the juries won’t convict, and the DA is saying ‘we’ll keep trying you until we get a conviction’. That’s not justice.

    • lizard says:

      I doubt very much they want to ADD evidence. This exercise is about deleting evidence that, in a habeas hearing, would invalidate their entire case by taint of torture. And they can’t have a civilian judge looking at their crap ’secret evidence’ because it would then be on the record and in the hands of judges who are not as bootlicking as handpicked officers at a monkey-rendition of a courts martial

    • skdadl says:

      drational, you keep writing ‘em and I’ll keep tracking along. That AP report has appeared here as well (see link on last thread), and you reminded me that we should be checking regularly, as EW has advised, for Carol Rosenberg’s MH coverage from Guantanamo.

      So I looked, and see what I found from Friday. General Hartmann has been on the stand, trying to explain away his crass attempts to politicize the first trials as mere administrative efficiency:

      GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Defending his “intense and direct” management style, the general overseeing the war trials here testified Thursday that he pushed Pentagon lawyers to pick up the pace of war-crimes prosecutions – not for political purposes but in the interest of kick-starting sluggish military commissions.

      Hartmann testified before an Army judge at the pre-trial hearing of detainee Mohammed Jawad, six weeks after a Navy judge banned the general from oversight in the case of Osama bin Laden’s driver because of the appearance of impropriety.

      Hartmann defended a remark widely attributed to him that he chose cases that would “capture the imagination of the American people.”

      “I meant that in the context of the kinds of cases that should be the focus of a legal office that had limited resources,” he said.

      Earlier, the Pentagon’s chief prosecutor who resigned in protest of what he considered inappropriate meddling testified that Hartmann fast-tracked the Jawad case to trial, favoring it at staff meetings as the case of the Afghan who threw the grenade at the soldiers.

      “Your client went from the freezer to the front burner after General Hartmann arrived,” said Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who is retiring and said he was denied a medal because he became a whistle-blower against what he described as politically motivated prosecutions.

      NB: In case anyone is confused, Jawad is not “the driver.” The driver is Hamdan, from whose case a judge has banned Hartmann.

  12. Audrey says:

    Ummm…This has been on my mind since learning of Obama’s endorsement of John Barrow, which to me is far more egregious than the FISA issue since the first is a done deal and he has time to act on FISA. The endorsement specifically undermines us and I have to wonder if this is the shape of things to come. I want to suggest that all those who are in the mood to withhold contributions tell him they are instead giving the money here:
    http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/19682

    Blue America candidate Regina Thomas has only received 337.00 through us. How about we bump that up and let Obama know about it.

    Thanks.

      • BooRadley says:

        Howie’s introduction to Sen. Thomas is really exciting. The demographics of GA-12 really appear to favor her. I think she’s got a real shot at winning the primary and the general.

      • Audrey says:

        This is why Obama’s endorsement of Barrows is so infuriating. He just told all his supporters to NOT vote for Thomas. That directly undercuts her chances and enables a Bush Dog Reich Wing Ass.

        • PetePierce says:

          A number of Obama’s supporters who know Barrows are plenty smart enough to know who and what he is and would not vote for him regardless of what Obama said about him. We know Barrows infinitely better than Obama does. Why he would have endorsed Barrows is mind boggling and I’m trying to find out but someone sure pulled the wool over Axelrod’s staff’s eyes.

          • Eureka Springs says:

            Excellent question.. Who advised Obama to do that? I really want to know, but have no idea how to find out.

            • PetePierce says:

              I’m going to try very hard. It seems obvious on the surface as many articles and comments at FDL’s blogs and Kos, elsewhere have said–Obama thinks Barrow is easily going to beat Regina Thomas of Savannah and he thinks he needs him to put Georgia in play. Many of us have watched Barrow of Georgia 12 closely for a long time. Barrow was a relatively early endorser of Obama on Feb. 28, 2008. He is of course, a typical Southern conservative Bush lackie Democrat, voting with Bush and conservative Republicans on most key issues.

              Barrow has a reprehensible voting record as a Blue Bush Dog.

              Progressive v. Bush Dog

            • PetePierce says:

              There’s been a lot of press along those lines. That could be part of it although I think conventional wisdom is that Obama thought Barrows (whose Bush votes I detest) would help him with conservatives and some independents in Georgia. There are still a lot of black voters also who are not registered to vote in the general–in Georgia bet. 5-600,000.

              Nunn always says that he absolutely doesn’t want to run, but he is probably mulling what he could get accomplished from the VP’s office with someone who would be amenable to giving Sam Nunn a powerful role (who is btw respected in Congress generally) as to causes that are dear to him including disarmament. If Nunn were VP or even if he were Sec State or Defense, he might be able to achieve his goals as well.

        • BooRadley says:

          This was what HRC beat up on Obama for, she kept saying, he’s not electable.

          His campaign is signaling to all the Democrats who voted for Hillary that he will support conservative, European American Democrats. His responsibility to Democrats is to beat McCain. Like any other Presidential candidate, he has to “run to the middle.”

          I sent Sen. Thomas $25 through Act Blue when she was in the chat with Howie. I sent her another $25 through Act Blue when I heard the sad news about Obama making the commercial for Barrow. If anyone here has any pull with HRC, I think it would be great if she would go down to Georgia and cut a commercial for Sen. Thomas.

          • PetePierce says:

            HRC is basically concerned with making life comfortable for HRC and making damn sure that you never see her 2007 taxes, her foundation contributors and their library contributors. She’s not about to go down to Georgia and make a commercial for Thomas or to get out of her chauffeur driven gas hog SUVs to do so. Clinton is about comfort and enrichment of the Clintons period end of story.

            If she were electable, her bullshit would have won the primary and it fell far short and she had to be removed.

          • PetePierce says:

            Why aren’t Chris Dood and Feingold leading a charge to hold up the Senate any way they can at this moment? Why isn’t Dodd or Feingold standing in the middle of the street making the points about the horrendously stupidly written house FISA bill with all the nuances they have been fed by people like Glenn Greenwald, Christy Smith, Jane, Marcy and other prominent bloggers about the components of this FISA monstrosity?

            This certainly is Obama’s responsibility. It’s beyond profoundly disappointing that he isn’t going at it with an ax, but it is hardly just his responsibility. You have a stampeed of House and Senate capitulation on this as Cboldt and Bmaz have pointed out from the get go and I have always anticipated.

            • BooRadley says:

              Why aren’t Chris Dood and Feingold leading a charge

              Excellent question. I called both Dodd’s and Feingold’s offices and asked them to put a “hold” on the FISA abomination the House passed.

              IMHO, Dodd only made his pledge to filibuster only to advance his chances in the Presidential campaign. That’s ok, I’m glad he did it. I also think Dodd is in deep trouble over the sub-prime/CMO mess (and the loans he got from Countrywide). He needs all the friends he can get, so I’m not optimistic

              It’s potentially lethal for any of the few liberals in the Senate to take on the rest of the Democrats, who are scared silly that we will learn about their complicity with Bush. Feingold has to deliver to his constituents and they need other Dems help to do it. As I read cboldt’s posts, it’s going to take at least two Senators. Each one has to place one hold. (Apologies to cboldt, if I got this wrong). If Feingold knows he can’t find another one, he may figure it’s better to wait to commit what might look to him like political suicide.

              I’m a big tent guy. I’m staying with the ethical disaster that the Dems are. But, the fact that no Democratic Congress person stood up and said, “this is about Democrats trying to hide their complicity with the Bush administration,” was an even greater ethical lapse. If just one person in Congress had done that, maybe Feingold and someone else would be more willing to risk it. It’s a members only club and the club has rules. Even one of my favorites such as Maxine Waters (D-CA) won’t break those rules.

              • cboldt says:

                As I read cboldt’s posts, it’s going to take at least two Senators. Each one has to place one hold. (Apologies to cboldt, if I got this wrong)

                Any single Senator can make both objections. It could be Feingold/Feingold, or Dodd/Dodd, or Dodd/Feingold, etc. -OR- multiple Senators can object, but usually only one stands up and raises the objection.

                I don’t call ‘em “holds,” they are parliamentary objections to advancing legislation, where Senate procedure uses cloture to get around an objection. IOW, even if a bill has a “hold” on it (a courtesy sometimes extended), leadership can move to proceed to the bill anyway. At this point, “hold” turns into “I object.”

                There are two places in the course of processing the legislation where an objection can be asserted, and the assertion of objection WILL result in delay. The first place is on the motion to proceed to the bill. The second is on taking a vote on final passage.

                If amendments are allowed, each amendment is another opportunity to object to taking a vote, Any single Senator can object at each one of those steps. Dodd (just to pick one name as an example) could do this solo, if he wanted to.

                My apologies for not making it clear in the first place. It’s a confusing parliamentary process, but once you understand that any debatable “move” can be delayed by objection and that objection can be overridden by cloture, the myriad combinations fall into place.

                • Hmmm says:

                  (Sorry for the repetition for any who have seen this from me before:)

                  If the Senate floor will entertain amendments (the House floor wouldn’t), here are two good ones.

                  First, replace “was determined to be lawful” with “was determined by a court of law to be lawful” — this will most likely fail, making a point that can’t be missed, or in the unlikely event that it succeeds, it becomes a poison pill, at the veto stage.

                  Then, if that fails, the next amendment to propose is to replace “was determined to be lawful” with “was determined by the President of the United States to be lawful” — this one calls the R’s bluff, since they should want this, but actually acknowledging this in the text of the law becomes a poison pill at the court challenge stage. And for now, it shines a big ol’ spotlight on the crux issue of establishing a precedent for the suspension of rule of law.

                  Now… what Senator will do this work for the people?

  13. wavpeac says:

    Oh my god, you did not just quote Captain Picard!!

    First of all, at the risk of sounding like a total trekie nerd, the series while still written by Gene Roddenbarry (a true humanist)was something akin to going to church for me. Except for the fact that I had a HUGE crush on Captain Picard. (not so much church thoughts).

    I miss Gene Roddenbarry. I was just reading a paper about the legal system that Roddenbarry wove into the series. Oh how I wish we could develop the nonlinear thinking and problem solving that existed only on that show.

    I would also love to visit the halo deck.

    Evidently some escapism would also fit my state of mind. Perhaps I will go do some gardening as well.

    I unregistered to Obama’s site…for now. I can always join back up, but it made me feel better.

  14. wrensis says:

    Thank you for reminding us that we do have reasons to continue the struggle even when our minds blur and our hearts ache. Stepping back and pulling weeds is just the way to go. I was once told the way to get thru things was that if I was scrubbing the floor, just keep scrubbing the floor.
    Nice post

    Thanks to all of you do

  15. PetePierce says:

    My regret is that I didn’t stumble into Marcy’s site sooner–I would have learned much more from Marcy, Bmaz, and the bright, well educated commenters here. If I were a Dean or Admin at U Michigan or other schools, I would be doing everything possible to have Marcy as a professor there and I’d make sure I made her very happy doing it if that was what she wanted to do. Marcy has extraordinary talent obviously and a work ethic to match.

    I was out of pocket yesterday, and our neighborhoods had cable out so I had to watch McClellan and HJC in the wee hours this morning, and nothing shook the earth I saw there. I didn’t see the House Bullshitters vote, and that’s time saved and stomach churning that happens every time I see a Republican and some Democrats speak on C-Span.

    I’m reading through all the comments about what a scum sugging pig people now think Barack Obama is for not stopping this FISA monstrosity, and my thoughts are this fwiw.

    1) Obama has been disappointing and I can’t think of any issue in years except when Bush got elected or some democratic senators or congress people lost that I cared about more. I’m not discounting the deaths at 911 or Iraq which of course this administration has responsibility for as to 911 and as to both and Congress has shirked their responsibility in the aftermath of both and in approving Iraq although whatever they voted Bush would have disrgarded.

    Obama should have said the same words Marcy Wheeler has said and Bmaz has said and many others and it is disappointing that he hasn’t for whatever reasons.

    2) Obama could not have stopped the vote and I doubt he could have changed the outcome but that doesn’t let him off the hook for what he should have done any more than a doctor is excused for not doing every possible appropriate thing to save a life.

    Loo Hoo aptly brought up a quote from TPM muck early this morning or last night for her where Obama said in 2007 he’d support a fillibuster–before the weazles in the Senate made it impossible for one to continue.

    But there aren’t the votes there now.

    The substance between the lines of this article is reprehensible:

    With Flurry of Deals, and Eye on Calendar, Congress Clears Decks

    This paragraph is ugly to read:

    The deal on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, approved by a vote of 293 to 129, had been months in the making, the product of delicate negotiations between House and Senate leaders. In contrast, the agreement on war spending came together in a hurry this week after consultations between the top Democrat and Republican on the Appropriations Committee led to talks between Mr. Boehner and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    3) A lot of people were out this morning because trucks were trying to restore our signals that bring internet, tv and phone out because the new nodes didn’t conform to the older amps, and I asked them what the thought about the FISA bill that way on purpose and I got blank looks from everyone.

    So ignorance and apathy in this countryare part of the reason that these people think they can get away with what they have done to you–they didn’t just put lipstick on the pig–they made you screw the pig several times and thought you were dumb enough to be happy doing so.

    4) I wouldn’t extrapolate as some of the commenters on the last 2-3 threads have that “I toldja so Obama is worthless–I’m votin’ for Nader or worse for McCain.” That’s one helluva quantum leap and no one can predict all the permutations and combinations of the ways Obama will behave and the results he will get again Congress is crucial and they have been failing on all cylinders.

    5) I see next to nothing on most blogs linked here and at FDL that many people read wanting to reform the Democratic nominating process.

    In a very short time we were down to two people. A friend of mine took a leave of absense from Harvard law as a prof to help advise Biden during his campaign. My friend was on his way back to Harvard after Obama won Iowa and Joe Biden dropped out.

    So we were down to Clinton and Obama very quickly after Iowa, and former Senator Edwards was out on January 30 2008.

    This was the scene after South Carolina:

    Mr. Edwards placed a distant third Tuesday night in Florida’s primary. And even more disappointing, as a native of South Carolina, he finished in the mid-teens there, as Mr. Obama won overwhelmingly. Mr. Edwards had campaigned heavily in Iowa for months and months, fine-tuning a populist message and issuing many proposals, including one on health care, long before his rivals issued theirs. In the caucuses, he finished second, but just about a percentage point ahead of Mrs. Clinton.

    Despite never having captured a first-place finish, Mr. Edwards had insisted that his campaign would carry on “to the convention.” And as the primary season headed toward Super Tuesday, and several big Southern states, Mr. Edwards was expected to draw a swath of white voters his way.

    Given the byzantine rules of the Democratic National Committee (those people you watched during the RBG) we were down to two candidates early on, and it was not at all a difficult choice for me.

    I would not elect a President who is playing 3 card Monte with an income of $110 million plus brazenly and stubbornly who thinks I’m too stupid for it to matter, and that would be precisely what the Clintons did and continue to do to this second. We have a US Senator who refuses to reveal the sources of over a hundred million dollars to her Foundation and her husband’s Library fund and she has plenty of reasons to hide that information. Some of it will leak out in the next several months and years possibly.

    I would not have voted for someone who painted the walls everywhere she touched with experience but demurred on defining that experience in the way anyone would make her define it if she applied for any number of professional jobs, including that of a lawyer or a doctor.

    I would not have voted for someone who bullshitted the gas tax holiday or being fired at by snipers when she was impeached by several video tapes and tried to extrapolate experience any more than someone gains the experience to be president because they’re unlucky enough to be in a 7-11 when people start popping caps someone’s way.

    • allan says:

      This paragraph is ugly to read:

      The deal on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, approved by a vote of 293 to 129, had been months in the making, the product of delicate negotiations between House and Senate leaders. In contrast, the agreement on war spending came together in a hurry this week after consultations between the top Democrat and Republican on the Appropriations Committee led to talks between Mr. Boehner and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

      The Democrats who voted for the FISA amendments were just following
      Rahm Emanuel’s fashion advice for a “smart” way to look tough in the GWOT.
      That’s the way you get to appear on GE’s Meet the Press and Disney’s This Week.

      So, H.R. 6304 can best be thought of as a pair of Nancy’s f*ck me pumps.

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      It makes you really, really sad to know that the people are supposed to be the last line of defense, and they do not know what is being done. Even I do not fully know what is being done because I didn’t read the bill yet.

      I don’t even know if someone talked to me, even to say, “You of all people should know to speak out loudly and criticize people when they deserve it”, because I knew that was what it was going to be. I imagine many people who never liked him showed up, but I hope they did not have the chutzpah to say that Hillary would have done any better.
      I did not say what he did was right folks!

  16. cbl2 says:

    bmaz –

    thanks for the coverage

    a belated welcome to you and thanks for all you bring to the embarassment of riches that is FDL – as a community, we are spoiled rotten. mr cbl and I both consider ourselves lucky to have ever encountered Empty and her work.

    always wanted to ask if your screen name has anything to do with a certain Hall of Fame Second Baseman

    • bmaz says:

      No, but as a kid in the mid 60s, I did have his baseball card and my grandfather, a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan (whose 2nd or 3rd removed nephew was/is Tim McCarver) loved telling the story of the only game 7 walk off homerun in history. Still is I think (I think Joe Carter’s was in a game 6). The az part is simply reflective of where i live.

      Boo and Audrey – Howie Klein is pumped up over Regina Thomas. She is going to be getting some support and help.

      • JThomason says:

        Do I qualify?

        Orlando Cepeda
        Dal Maxville
        Julio Javier
        Mike Shannon
        Tim McCarver
        Lou Brock
        Curt Flood
        Roger Maris/Bobby Tolan

        Bob Gibson, Nelson Briles, Steve Carlton

        • PJEvans says:

          Cepeda … that was one trade that actually worked out for the Jints. We got Ray Sadecki, IIRC.

          • JThomason says:

            Cepeda had a penchant for cussing the umps, in Spanish mind you. I can remember suspensions for this. If I remember correctly he had a knack for RBIs as well.

      • Audrey says:

        I’m hoping Howie has a plan to neutralize the Obama endorsement of Barrows. Would love to see Thomas take that seat. Besides, we have to have a pushback plan in place to counter any future similar actions by Obama.

    • cbl2 says:

      Where did Dodd go with his filibuster outrage?

      the front page of the WaPo and every major CT newspaper and teevee station with the Countrywide VIP Program story – will have to look now to see if the ‘VIP’ in the House was leading opposition to Steny – jes sayin’

      pretty much all we have is Finegold and frankly I expect any attempts at “holds” or filibuster will be smacked down by some arcane parliamentary procedure

      can you say fait accompli ?? I knew ya could

  17. FormerFed says:

    Just called the Obama campaign @ 866-675-2008 and got through to a very nice young lady (it took a “0″ to talk to a rep). I gave her my comment and you could hear her keying it in as I spoke. I told the Senator my concerns on the FISA bill and asked him to strongly speak out against it. I also told him that if he really stood for “change” then this was an opportunity to show that to the American people.

    Very pleasant conversation and she said she would pass along my comments to the Senator!! (In the form of “add one to the against FISA total”!!!)

    • PetePierce says:

      What do you think the chances are that the woman you talked to knew Fisa from Ne-Yo and Alisha keys. Unfortunately many of these phone volunteers know they want to volunteer but couldn’t discuss the issues with you and will never be able to do that the rest of their lives.

      They are trained to be polite and come accross as facilitating your input.

      • FormerFed says:

        Pete, and your point is?? Should I have not called?? Should I not have sent emails the past few days to my Representative and to Senator Obama?? What exactly should I be doing?? I kind of thought I was exercising the democratic way of life.

      • 4jkb4ia says:

        This is why it was probably smarter to call the Senate office to start with, but I thought Glenn knew what he was doing.

  18. cbl2 says:

    don’t forget to unsubscribe from Obama site – (bottom of e mails – lower left) you can unsubscribe and tell them why

  19. marymccurnin says:

    Could it be (I hesitate to write this cause it is, well, foil hatish)the dems are worried about a nasty true/false flag event before the election and want to be seen as protecting the people?

    • Audrey says:

      Not at all foilhatish. I remember predicting what Bush would do if he took the presidency and that sounded foilhatish too. I was right, though. We are living in foilhat territory.

  20. wmd1961 says:

    I called Baron Hill’s office prior to the vote. They said he would vote nay and he did. Called Anna Eshoo’s office after seeing the roll call and thanked her for voting nay and standing up for rule of law. I’ll contact Hill’s Bloomington office on Tuesday and thank him for getting it right.

    Wrote to Obama. Talked with an Obama volunteer that had contacted me for fundraising, said I’m irritated with Obama and wouldn’t be donating for a bit, that I want to see him show some leadership in the Senate on stripping immunity.

    I just had a brainstorm – I’m going to make a token donation to Obama (and a larger donation to whatever name the strange bedfellows. I’ll use $1.29 for the Obama donation (number of nay votes in the House). A storm of $1.29 donations to Obama might get his campaign’s attention.

  21. wmd1961 says:

    Made a $5.59 donation. On the post donation page they ask you to contact your friends about how exited you are to donate and try to get your friends to join in.

    I sent a letter to [email protected] from the donation page, explaining that I was making a token donation, the bulk of my summer political giving will go to organizations that don’t compromise on civil liberties. And I told him I’d be looking for Obama’s leadership in the Senate next week.

  22. SnarKassandra says:

    Can I say hi even if I am an irregular and nonreligious reader of this blog? In my defense I can say that I live behind the camo curtain of a military base and can mostly participate when I am on vacation.

  23. cbl2 says:

    uh firedogs, I love this community and I have learned so much here

    And . . .some of you are missing the point of yesterday’s flim flammery

    The FISA vote was nothing but permanently eliminating any Dem fingerprints on Bush/Cheney lawlessness

    it wasn’t about Gen Election memes

    low information voters

    keeping the Telco spigot open (nice bonus)

    this was self innoculation ( a bit of election cycle housekeeping if you will) and even some of the brighter lights across left blogistan are missing it

    please recall Jane’s fabulous post about the upcoming Iraq supplemental where WH asked for $102 billion and the House said how about $170 billion. – in hopes of keeping Iraq and possible calls of their softness off the table until their Pres Elect was sworn in. Yep, a cynical calculation – not an iota of concern for the lives lost and damaged until then.

    it’s what they do.

    they didn’t cave because of incorrect calculations on the country’s mood or because they’re incredibly gullible – they wanted this out of the way before Cheney leaves office, providing themselves with what they perceive to be relief before the General commences proper

    • BooRadley says:

      Agree completely about FISA.

      Regarding the malevolent Iraq appropriation, there was more in it, than just war funding. Some of the money went to a GI bill to pay for college education for the military. That was a very smart move on several levels. It tells the military we’re interested in them as something beyond hired guns and it also funds educational institutions. I think other money in the bill was for care of wounded veterans. That indirectly funds health care workers.

      I completely disagree with the funding of the war, but at least on that one the Dems got somethings that are beneficial.

  24. LS says:

    After being furious yesterday at the Dems and Obama, I’ve been trying to find some kind of positive angle on all this FISA stuff.

    At the risk of sounding stupid on this amazing blog, I will voice what is on my mind today regarding FISA and the events of the debacle known as “yesterday”.

    The Dems must…must…win in November or else we are doomed.
    Because the corporate fascists control the media, any blocking of FISA would be a talking point that the Dems won’t “protect” “the Homeland” from catching terrorists. We are at the mercy of the spin of the MSM.

    If Obama were to block the “perception” of a bill that “protects the Homeland”….he would be defeated by the media spin to those who don’t pay attention…i.e., the majority of Homelandians. That cannot be allowed to happen. He knows this. It is a game of chess, and the stakes are unbelievably high.

    If Obama is elected…there most likely will be 1-3 SCOTUS replacements in 2009 that he will nominate.

    The FISA immunity and the violation of the 4th Amendment are both obstruction of justice and unconstitutional.

    Under a Dem President and large enough Congressional majority we will have a chance to turn the Titanic around. It is the only way.

    FISA should, at that time, be referred somehow to a new “mix” of SCOTUS justices…I think they will overturn this legislation.

    We know that this legislation does not trump the 4th Amendment…only a constitutional amendment could do that, so what they are doing will “eventually” be moot. We cannot win the election “and” stop the FISA bill from going through; but, we could find a way to delay the final voting on it. That should be the goal right now. Find every loophole to stop it without it “appearing” to be against foiling terrorism. If that fails, it most certainly will sit there as so-called law for awhile.

    I believe possibly, that Obama will act to once again change FISA if elected. But, until then, he can’t get elected “and” stop what is being spun by the MSM as protecting the country against terrorism. He is walking a tightrope.

    I am worried, and sometimes paranoid, that he is really much more right than left…but I can’t tell…He’s smart, that is for sure. He usually has a plan.

    Sorry this is a rant really…I’m so torn in every direction over this. What I do know without a doubt, is that we cannot risk accidentally electing McNeocon. We cannot do that. There must be a way out of this mess.

    • PetePierce says:

      I’m still wonderin’ why did this word homeland creep into everyone’s vocabulary as if formalizing fear when it hadn’t been used except in Ibsen plays by anyone in the US?

    • PetePierce says:

      FISA should, at that time, be referred somehow to a new “mix” of SCOTUS justices…I think they will overturn this legislation.

      Components of FISA may perculate through the federal appellate system and probably will, but I don’t see anyway for immunity’s bell to be unrung and that’s one overriding component.

      • BooRadley says:

        but I don’t see anyway for immunity’s bell to be unrung and that’s one overriding component.

        Yeah and all the other great legal minds here at FDL agree with you.

        IANAL, and I wish you were all wrong, but I know better.

        Paging the Hague.

        Liberals have to start considering ways to connect with liberals in other countries. Then we have to find some way to support the World Court. Congress didn’t immunize the Telcos against international prosecution. I know European Union gave Bill Gates lots of head aches (anti-trust violations for illegally bundling windows).

        • BooRadley says:

          If we could get the Hague to indict the Telco’s, they would spill the beans on the Bush administration. Then the Bush Administration would claim quite accurately that they had support from the Democratic leadership.

          Works for me.

    • cbl2 says:

      I’m so torn in every direction over this

      know zactly what you mean!

      I do disagree on the If Obama were to block the “perception” of a bill that “protects the Homeland”…

      doesn’t fly in the face of the 24% JAR – as evidenced by the 9/10 mindset meme that flopped earlier in the week

      he has the con, he has the microphone and could have beat back any of their terra, terra, terra memes

    • JThomason says:

      In reflecting on Obama’s statement, I am not convinced that his use of the word “grassroots” should be taken as pejorative given where he has come from.

  25. LS says:

    The new FISA legislation is a violation of the 10th Amendment, because it violates the 4th Amendment:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

  26. LS says:

    Remember…Obama has a picture of Mohammad Ali on his wall…float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and sometimes…Ropey dope. The man is brilliant. In order to negotiate the slings and arrows…he has to have a bag of tricks. I’m not smart enough to know what they are, but they always surprise me in the end. Sometimes, it looks like he’s feinting a punch, but he gets right up and executes a KO.

  27. LS says:

    Couldn’t each State refuse via State legislation refuse to honor this new FISA legislation, because it violates the 4th Amendment?

    • BooRadley says:

      I don’t know if you’re correct or not, but nice catch.

      The Wisconsin Supreme Court declares the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional, 1854

      The case of Joshua Glover brought the issue of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to the fore in Wisconsin. For their assistance in guiding Glover to freedom in Canada, abolitionists Sherman Booth and John Rycraft were taken into custody for violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. In 1854, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the act a violation of the constitution, clearing Booth and Rycraft of charges. The main reasons for the decision are summarized on the second page of the transcript.

      • LS says:

        That is what I’m suggesting. Perhaps they’ve legislated themselves into a complete no go on the whole shebang….which would make it revert to the original FISA law, which had protections and was, I suppose, constitutional. The new FISA law is unconstitutional.

  28. Akatabi says:

    Perhaps a useful meme in a kind of jiu-jitsu sense might be something along the lines of: “You say Boumedienne gives “unlawful enemy combatants” the same rights as Americans- why is it necessary to give the telcos more rights than Americans?”

  29. LS says:

    You can’t violate a US constitutional Amendment and force the States to capitulate by a law doing just that, because the 10th amendment kicks in if they do that.

  30. KestrelBrighteyes says:

    Here’s a message I found left for me in a political chatroom (the same one I used to moderate but handed over to a friend for awhile, at least until the chaos subsides a bit)

    ~AKA~
    (snip)
    your lib controlled congress just protected the phone company’s..~smirks~ and all that bitching you did for 12 months…right down the drain..lol
    [Ignore all messages from ~AKA~ ][06/21/2008 11:35:47]

    ***

    Lovely, no?

    This place – you people – are my refuge.

    Have I mentioned lately how much I really like y’all?

  31. posaune says:

    Hi J Tomason @ 44 and bmaz @40: what about Johnny Keane (1964) and Red Schoendienst, cousin to our principal, Sister Annunciata!

  32. JThomason says:

    The odds would be slim though. I remember only one fight growing up in Memphis. I took a punch to my jaw and put my opponent in a head lock til he calmed down.

  33. JThomason says:

    Oh there was another incident but it was kind of one sided. I suggested to our tailback, who went on to play at Alabama, that he was a “red neck.” He hit me in the eye. I suggested he was still a “red neck.” I felt like it was a moral victory and went on my way.

  34. tejanarusa says:

    From the NYT “blog” Campaign Stops this am: (arguing that Obama opting out of public money is the right thing to do):

    Some observers make the case that money is less important at the presidential level because the press plays such a significant role in communicating the campaign narrative

    .

    Immediate reaction: and THAT is exactly why we have to have as many sources of info (including MoveOn and other orgs ads and spots) to raise the important issues. The press’s “significant role” is worth s***t these days, since all they talk about is worthless gotcha issues.
    As expected, my late evening news had nothing about the FISA vote; NPR this morning, even Dan Schorr, talked about the “delicate compromise” and never mentioned the destruction of our freedoms involved.
    And, of course, the fact of the opting out is the big politics issue, not the FISA vote, which is MUCH MUCH more significant for all of us.
    Pardon me for shouting. Thanks. I’m at work – good to vent a bit.

    Thnaks for the thread, bmaz. And thanks to Marcy, should she wander by. I wouldn’t blame her for staying in the garden, though. Dunno how she does what she does.

  35. LS says:

    Marcy has been weeding out more clues, instead of weeds in her garden…who needs to read mystery books…just follow Marcy…a novel you can’t put down…see her new post upstairs…

  36. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Delurking to engage with “engage.” Can a Trekignoramous be told more about it. I ask because I know that the Captain’s other motto, “Make it so,” comes from the Hornblower sea novels, and in that genre, “engage” is inseparable from “engage the enemy more closely” with all its Lord Nelson associations.

    While it is pretty much everybody’s wish here.

  37. Hmmm says:

    WRT why the House D leadership caved, I could buy the idea that there is knowledge of a forthcoming attack.

    In which case, with all this frickin’ hoovered communication contents stored in escrow, why don’t they just go out and STOP the damn thing with legwork? If this question seems familiar it’s because it’s the Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside US scenario, all over again.

    Huh… Actually… if they know there’s going to be an attack, and if they can’t go out and stop it even with the benefit of all the expansive, massive, illegal snooping they’ve already got in place… then wouldn’t that be proof positive that IT DOESN’T WORK?

    Pass me a Pepcid, wouldya?

    • PJEvans says:

      I just sent a slightly edited version of your proposed amendments to my senators. The DINO, I’m sure, will do nothing constructive. The other one will probably vote against the bill – I can hope, yes?
      I very deliberately left the reasons for the amendments off; I want to see them figure it out, or better yet, be dim enough to assume it’s straight-up clarification. Also, I’m afraid that giving them reasons for those two proposals would result in the Rs finding out ahead of time and scuttling things.

      (No, I don’t trust these people.)
      I also said that it’s up to them if they want to get out of the hole they’ve put themselves in, where their approval rating is well below used car salesmen.

  38. 4jkb4ia says:

    Thanks bmaz. This is why Shabbos is so important, although I did not prepare a maximally festive meal.

  39. 4jkb4ia says:

    Also I wanted to say that the very quick turnaround of this bill in the House took away some of Obama’s chance to effect the outcome. As EW said, we will have DiFi for this bill. We will also certainly have Lieberman. So the chance of passing the bill comes down to whether it requires 60 votes. But Obama has to read the bill, or have a staff member do it for him, and deal with the ravenous press corps who have not shown shining interest in any kind of policy, in 24 hours. Not that the public financing announcement could not have waited until next week.

  40. Drumman says:

    bmaz were you able to watch the f1 race? it was an alright race Kimi lucked out hie exhaust problem was not worse but everybody finished looking forward to silverstone

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah I watched it. Freaking got up to watch it live, and it wasn’t on and there is no other earthly reason for me to be up at 4:30 in the morning. Then I slept in until 10:30 and it was already underway. Arrrgh! Little boring in a way, I expected a more exciting go of it. I cannot believe FIA didn’t order Kimi to pit with that exhaust piece flailing around held on by a sensor wire. It’s good to be Ferrari I guess….

  41. Sara says:

    Really sorry to tell everyone, but FISA is not even a tenth of it, as I discovered during my week off the net. Combination of a few days away and a damn case of “Sick Computer Syndrome.”

    Anyhow — I have a book for everyone to read who feels passionate about this, one which will send you to the nearest bridge to check for a jumping off spot, — when your computer gets sick computer syndrome, you revert to old style, and you read a book.

    “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing” by Tim Shorrock, Simon and Schuster, 2008 is just what you need.

    Forget learning obscure languages — CIA and NSA have spent billions on a corporate contract that translates everything. They have a long term contract with the corporate outsource — they didn’t buy the softwear, they just lease it, and the product does not belong to the Government (that’s us), but it belongs to the contractor. In other words, it is probably beyond the reach of a congressional subpoena or a court order. (At least that was how it was contracted.) And no oversight was the intent.

    70% of CIA and NSA’s current budgets are for contractors — very little other than contract management is done in house any more. In fact at the current time a majority of the Presidential daily briefings are written by outside contractors.

    Shorrock makes the point that this “outsourcing” did not begin with Bush, it really began with Gore and Clinton, with Gore really in the lead. It is just that Bush took the basic idea and took it to the sky.

    According to Tim Shorrock, there is the beginning of a push back from Congress, but that is not really possible till the next administration and a congress that is more democratic, and in particular, some sort of real movement from the populace that demands changes in the core areas. While right now FISA may seem to us to be a core area, it may not be, and in fact Nancy Pelosi may have gotten a couple of hooks in with this agreement that could serve her well in the next congress.

    The first step, according to Shorrock is law that defines what is a core Governmental Responsibility, and what is not really — and according to him, we do not have such a bright line at this juncture, and getting one would be step one. That means not just what communications Government can tap, but what is done with them once tapped — who owns, who has custody, can Congress govern the use of such? Apparently Shorrock believes this has to become settled law before other things can be done — and he offers up description of at least the initial outline of what Pelosi and her chair of Intelligence, Reyes, have introduced as language that has passed the House, but is stuck in the Senate with a threatened Fillibuster, and a promised Veto by Bush. It is a little less about the 4th and 10th amendment than it is the right of ownership to the Intellectual Property for which the Government — through the intelligence agencies — have contracted. (it may be that some of the “give-up’s” in the FISA bill regarding immunity also have the language that will become the basis for the “take back” of all this intellectual property from the Intelligence Industrial Complex, once she has a straight shot at a bill, and a President who will sign it.) For instance, right now the Government really doesn’t have the ability to take someone who is clearly not a terrorist off the “no-fly” list, because making that list is outsourced, and the Government doesn’t own it, the Corporation that has the contract for the softwear owns the intellectual product. (Poor Senator Kennedy, apparently he is still on the list, and has to flash some sort of permission slip everytime he wants to board a plane.) So it is so much more than E-Mail and phone calls — it is everything, bank transactions, what you buy, sell, trade, What you read, religious preferences, food preferences, (apparently one huge contract involved looking for people who bought middle eastern foods — I immediately went out to my local Iranian Grocery Store and bought ten pounds of Basmati Rice, and some spices.) charity preferences, sports you like or participate in, and of course your politics. Everything. They are spending billions collecting this information on the Intelligence Budget’s dime, and then it becomes the property of the corporations that collect and process it.

    Sherrock’s example of “processing” is one contractor who demonstrates a software program that can parse “Moby Dick” in ten seconds….and yes, deal with the symbolism. And it can do it in perhaps 100 languages, mostly fairly obscure ones. But we (citizens) don’t own the software, and we don’t really own the product, even though we paid for the contractor.

    Sherrock’s claim is that most of this “outsourcing” was actually designed to avoid both congressional oversight of Intelligence, and any legal, or court intervention. Correction has to involve drawing the bright line as to what is Core Governmental, and what may be just supportive contracting, and bringing it properly under regulation and oversight. He raises the question as to how far all this extends — for instance are Cheney’s maps of Oil deposits created by a contractor working for a Government Agency properly public property — or do they belong to the contractor? Are materials on Global Warming the property of all — or just the contracted analyist’s Corporation which collected them?

    This doesn’t mean I am not disappointed in the seeming cave in on FISA, and TelCo Immunity, but Sherrock has convinced me that the issue is much larger, and that we need to comprehend the scope as we act. FISA and TelCo Immunity is the little issue — as Sherrock describes it, Pelosi is playing for much bigger stakes.

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