About Reid’s Potential Delay

Folks are seeing a glimmer of hope in the FISA battle based on Harry Reid’s suggestion that we might not get FISA done before the July 4 recess.

Before I look closely at what Reid said, let me lay out a few points:

  • Unless something remarkable happens, FISA will eventually pass the Senate with about a 72-25 margin. The bad SSCI bill passed in February with a 68-29 margin, and Steny’s capitulation was tailor-made to pick up the votes of people like DiFi and Amy Klobuchar–not to mention Obama. So there’s absolutely no reason to think a filibuster would be successful or to think that the bill won’t pass.
  • The Senate is close to passing a Housing bill that–though imperfect–would do some concrete things to help Americans stay in their homes and help communities devastated by foreclosures. If Bush signs it. If Bush doesn’t, then the Republicans will have their refusal to do something about the foreclosure crisis to contend with this fall, along with everything else they’re dealing with.
  • The Senate is close to passing the equally imperfect funding supplemental which includes Webb’s GI bill and an extension to unemployment benefits.

As you look at Reid’s comments, remember that Reid is dealing with all three of these playing pieces, not just the one we’re most focused on, FISA. And to the average American, the other two pieces are way more important than the FISA piece. As well-versed as I’ve become in FISA, frankly, I can’t imagine telling my neighbors facing foreclosure that defeating immunity is more important than them keeping their house.

I’m just making an outtamyarse guess, but I’m guessing that Reid’s delay comment last night may be tailored to get action on the housing bill, by holding the two things the Administration wants–FISA and the supplemental–hostage until a hold-out Republican and Bush agree to the housing compromise.

Reid starts by clearly pressuring one Senator on the housing bill–basically saying that if this one Senator doesn’t flip, then the Senate will stay through the weekend and get some housing bill passed.

I know of only one holdup on our being able to complete the housing legislation. If we can’t get that Senator to sign off on this, then we only have one alternative and that is we’ll file cloture tomorrow on another arm of this housing legislation. We will have cloture on that two legislative days later and then we still have one more to do. Now, that would mean we would have to be here over the weekend. Now, that was not anticipated we would do that. In the meantime, having done that, we are not going to be able to — it will hold up our being able to do FISA. We wanted to do a consent agreement on that tonight. That was — I was told that would not be possible.

He then states what I’ve just said–the FISA bill will eventually pass the Senate with a large majority–even while reminding that Feingold and Dodd may filibuster. Yet note that Reid also says that Feingold and Dodd–the drafter of the housing bill–know how the Senate works.

Now, Mr. President, on that, there are people who don’t like the FISA legislation. Now, I recognize that the majority of the Senate does. But some people don’t like it. But in spite of that, I have found the two people that speak out mostly against that — and there are others — but Senator Feingold and Senator Dodd have been very — Senator Feingold and Senator Dodd have been very diligent in their opposition to the legislation. But, of course, they understand the Senate very well. They understand the Senate very well.

This highlights that Dodd is at the center of two of Reid’s three playing pieces–housing and FISA–and suggests that the filibuster may be negotiable.

Having all-but-noted that Dodd and Feingold are prepared to filibuster, Reid then concludes that the only way the Senate can proceed to FISA is with consent–that is, by convincing Dodd and Feingold not to filibuster.

And so what we would like to do is have a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to that. Well, we can’t do that unless it’s by consent. So, therefore, we’re going to have to do cloture on the motion to proceed to FISA at some later time. And then that only allows us to proceed to the bill. And then we still have to do cloture on the bill.

Reid then reiterates that the Senate will pass housing legislation before it breaks, even while he states that he will not keep the Senate in session to pass FISA.

Now, Mr. President, FISA is a product of the administration. It’s passed the House and that’s fine. But we’re not going to stop people from going home for the 4th of July recess over FISA. If people don’t want to do it, then we’re not going to do it. It’s not because we’re holding it up over here, is what I’m saying. It’s being held up by the minority. Now, we’re going to — we’re going to proceed and we’re going to stay here and finish this housing bill. Mr. President, the Case-Schiller home price index registered the largest decline in home prices in that index’s history. That’s more than 40 years. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. So we’re going to finish the housing bill. It may knock a few people out of parades on July 4th, or whatever — however long it takes us to do this.

Note the threat: while you and I may be happy to miss the local Fourth of July parade, the Norm Colemans of the world simply can’t afford to, not if they want to be re-elected this fall.

So Reid is laying out a very clear message: he will hold the Senate to get housing (a bill the Democrats want) but he won’t hold the Senate to get FISA (a bill the Republicans want). And then he throws more onto the bargaining table: the military appropriations bill.

Now, the other product we have that we want to finish before we go home is the supplemental appropriation bill. Again, Mr. President, there’s been a delicately crafted piece of legislation that has come from the House on this. They’ve worked very hard to get the House leadership to approve that, Democratic and Republican, the President of the United States has signed off on this.

Is it everything that I want? Is it everything we want over here? The answer is no. But I think, Mr. President, it’s something that will pass with a very large margin over here. But we can’t get to it unless people allow us to get to it. And so that, too, would have to wait until we get back after the July 4th recess. I think that would be a shame. We’ve been [told] that the Pentagon can pay the bills until about the middle of February. Then they’re out of money.

Having laid out his terms–Reid will recess without passing FISA and the supplemental, but he won’t recess without passing housing–Reid then clarifies who he is sending this message to.

Now, that — the President — I want the President, all of his people to hear what I’m saying. We are not holding up the supplemental. We, the Democrats, are not holding it up. We, the Democrats, are not holding up FISA.

Effectively, Reid is saying that Bush can’t get his supplemental or his FISA until Reid gets his housing bill.

Now call me crazy. But I don’t think Reid’s speech was really a promise that we’ll have another delay on FISA and one more chance to try to defeat immunity. I read this as Reid using FISA–a bill he knows will eventually pass, but one that has great support for a filibuster–to get what he needs on housing. Bush can have his supplemental and FISA so long as the one Republican hold-out on housing flips, and so long as Bush agrees to the housing bill (goddamn, I hope that Reid has determined to hold up FISA and the supplemental until he gets Bush’s signature on housing). It sounds like he has even secured agreement from Dodd (the author of the housing compromise) and Feingold not to filibuster if the Senate can push through the housing bill.

So I’m not holding out great hope that we’ll get a reprieve on FISA. Rather, I’m guessing this means Reid is holding the supplemental and FISA hostage to get the housing bill passed.

86 replies
  1. DefendOurConstitution says:


    I think you are right. Yet, holding FISA back for another week or two could give enough time for a dozen Democrats to find backbone (if they ever had any) and filibuster. It could also give time for Feingold to bring in a poison pill ammendment that could (once again) send bill back to committee limbo.

  2. JTMinIA says:

    Given what Reid did to Dodd last winter, I would not be surprised if, after getting housing, Dodd filibusters FISA anyway. And I, for one, would be happy to deliver him food (from Iowa) while he does so. Going farther, if there’s any chance that betraying a promise to Reid would bring Reid down, then I’d crawl to Willimantic and bring Dodd whatever he wants from home.

    In other words, while this might appear to be Reid showing some backbone, I’m not buying it for a moment. He will, somehow, find a way to lose on all three (i.e., housing, GI bill, and FISA). Reid is magical that way. His ability to find defeat in victory is impressive.

  3. Peterr says:

    Sadly, I think you are mostly right, Marcy.

    Desperate incumbents REALLY love their Fourth of July parades. It’s a big club that Harry’s twirling around when he threatens to keep the Senate in session through that holiday weekend. This suggests that the Dems are strongly united behind this housing bill.

    But I also think that the delay will only strengthen the hand of Dodd and Feingold as they (and we) work to peel off more democrats to stand up to Bush. Will it be enough? Doubtful — but it will have a better chance in a couple of weeks than it does if it came up for a vote today.

  4. chaboard says:

    My question….how come one unnamed Republican can “hold up” the housing bill while several courageous named Dems can’t hold up FISA?

    Seriously, how is the lone GOPer holding things up?

    • cboldt says:

      how come one unnamed Republican can “hold up” the housing bill while several courageous named Dems can’t hold up FISA?

      He can’t, indefinitely. The lens is distorted because we’re viewing this mess of bills against a deadline.

      Add in Medicare, Reid says that has priority over FISA and the Supplemental.

  5. wavpeac says:

    I was glad to see that Clinton made a statement that she would like to help her colleagues work to get retro active immunity out of the bill. I was extremely disappointed to hear that Obama is standing by his support.

    Did anyone hear of any one else out there changing their stance on fisa.

  6. FrankProbst says:

    Here’s my suggestion for the poison pill amendment: The telecoms can have immunity for anything and everything that they’re willing to admit that they did.

    • Mauimom says:

      Sounds like “the new guy” is even more crazy than Cannon. [”Get the federal government out of public education.”]

        • emptywheel says:

          Not in that district. This is an area where, last I checked, landlords could prevent renters from putting girlie pictures on the wall or beer in the fridge so as to comply with BYU’s housing guidelines, meaning even non-Mormons in the county are stuck living like children until they can actually buy a house.

          • bmaz says:

            landlords could prevent renters from putting girlie pictures on the wall

            Heh heh. Hilariously, Charlie Keating tried to put restrictions just like that in the CC&Rs of a new housing development he was building in the late 80s (think it was called Estrella).

            I didn’t say he could be beaten, just that he is more beatable. The urban areas of Utah are changing faster than you think though, really the whole state is. Last time I was through there I was shocked, and that is over a year ago.

  7. nomolos says:

    So the housing bill passes and goes to the chimp for signing meanwhile Fisa also gets passsed….. then the chimp vetos housing and signs FISA. I do not trust a one of them

    • DefendOurConstitution says:

      All the more reason housing will get passed right away and others on hold until Bush signs Housing Bill.

      • emptywheel says:

        Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping Reid is doing–holding out on FISA until Housing is signed. Not that I like picking one over the other, but FISA is a mighty big carrot for the WH, and if we’re going to give it to them anyway (not that I’ve given up, mind you), then I’d rather we got something in exchange.

        Though it’d be nice if Reid threw SCHIP in there too.

        • klynn says:

          You know, Bush/Cheney NEED this (immunity) compromise SO much, boy, I would have stacked the Dem authored/backed bills up sky high.

          Essentially stating, you want our endorsement to break the law? Come and get it, and not one veto sir.

          I think you are right, it would be nice if Reid threw SCHIP in there too.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      FWIW, I’d be very surprised if Reid allowed FISA to pass unless — and until — that Housing Bill is signed. Ditto Webb’s military benefits. There’s no evidence that Reid trusts Bush or Cheney; especially after they double-crossed him on recess appointments last summer.

  8. brendanx says:

    It seems like the inverse is true, too: Bush/Cheney is holding the housing bill hostage to FISA.

  9. PJEvans says:

    I wonder what would happen if the senators were told that leaving in retroactive immunity – thus telling the WH and the corp-rats that they can ignore laws they don’t like – also tells the average citizen that we can ignore laws we don’t like.

    Ask them how they feel about everyone not paying income tax because it’s an inconvenience and we don’t feel like dealing with it any more. Or, especially for the senators from the banking states, if we decided we didn’t want to pay credit-card bills any more.

    • klynn says:

      This leaves me with visions of 100,000 sign carriers in the Mall. The signs read, “I want immunity too.”

    • Leen says:

      That message was sent long ago. Our country our justice system is based on double standards. But the peasants know if you ignore a law and get caught your ass will end up in prison.

      Jonathon Turley on the Bush family values..”get criminal get made”

  10. wrensis says:

    while we are on the subject of caving
    This from Alternet today
    “Obama’s interview with Fortune magazine — headlined “Obama: NAFTA Not So Bad After All” — is the best news the McCain camp has received since Mike Huckabee folded his run for the Republican nomination.

    If Obama takes the economic issue that white working-class voters best understand off the table, he creates a huge opening for McCain in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.”

  11. emptywheel says:

    Dodd on the floor explaining about the delay on housing (which supports my argument here):

    Majority leader has laid this out in clear concise terms. It requires people to set aside their differences. It’s awfully difficult to go back home when gas prices are going through the roof and they’re wondering why we can’t get anything done on housing. We can’t even get to debate the issue. I wanted to inform my colleagues as to why we haven’t been able to get anything done. As he said last evening, there are moments when you have set aside partisan politics, my urging that this one senator reconsider what he’s objecting to. That Senator has had four opportunities to vote on his bill. We’re right on the brink of being able to vote on this. We could do that in the next two hours.

  12. drational says:

    And so we come to the realization that politics is complicated.
    I bet that FISA will essentially be forgotten by almost everyone but us within 2 days of the Senate compromise vote.

    And so we too will move on to the next losing battle as our savior corners the middle.

    • emptywheel says:

      As I was reflecting on this after I posted, I realized that we’ve missed out by not hitting the issues Dem legislators want hit, to prevent our issues to be sacrificed to theirs.

      Which is not to say we’ve been ignoring housing–I started moving on it in May, but just got too busy with stuff in my “beat” to focus on it and start bulding the coalition to do it.

      I’ve heard a LOT of Dems speak of the coming term in terms akin to Roosvelt (not without cause). They’re all thinking of bread and butter issues. We need to both sell the executive power issues and think of ways we can build credibility by making it easier to win their bread and butter issues.

      • drational says:

        I am wholeheartedly with you.
        Blogger capital is motivating people to get exercised and pick up the phones.
        Albeit our issues are arguably about the future of our government and constitution, most Dem legislators think in 2 or 6 year cycles.

        Do we remain principled and eternally thwarted, or can we play the game without sacrificing our core interests?

        Although I would much prefer to read about GOP malfeasance and constitutional issues, we probably would benefit from diversification.

        • emptywheel says:

          Well, for me, it’s not even an either or–except insofar as I’ve got limited time. I think overturning the bankruptcy bill ought to be the issue that finally unifies a blogger/labor coalition.

          But it’s a question of time and resources.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Honestly, I agree:

        We need to both sell the executive power issues and think of ways we can build credibility by making it easier to win their bread and butter issues.

        IMHO, solutions would include a lot more resources for the FBI’s white collar and fraud units (since these crimes cross state and national borders). That would probably put the FBI up against Wall Street, banks, drug cartels, Russian oiligarchs, bogus non-profits, and criminals of all nationalities, but I don’t see an alternative.

        And the Dems would also have to fund enough DoJ positions to support the FBI’s white collar, anti-fraud work.
        The Dems should also stop wankering about how Bear Stearns is ‘too big to fail’ and steer very clear of Schumer and anyone else who’s a Wall Street tool.

        Economic accountability is a huge, amorphous issue that remains to be exploited. And the Republicans have zero chance of credibility on this cluster of related issues: fraud, corruption, effective regulatory structures, or emerging economic ’social business’ structures like Grameen Bank.

        • prostratedragon says:

          Excellent. To which I’d add that Congressional supervision of the SEC, Comptroller of the Currency, Fed, etc., regarding their use, and in several cases refusal to use, the regulatory and oversight authority that those bodies already had might be remedied somewhat by more enforcement capacity in the field.

          Maybe not the ideal way to address the failures of Congress, but this is after all about our third dunk into these particular waters.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            And every time we end up at this watering hole, the risks, costs, and also ‘lost opportunity costs’ (from failing to go to the roots and actually solve the problem) are ever higher.

            Lack of leadership.
            Only really strong leaders — based on ethical conduct — can ask people to make the kinds of changes this will need.

            OTOH, maybe we’ll just end up impoverished as our problems mount because we can’t tolerate moderate discomfort now for huge benefits over ten years.

            Clinton was a great leader, diminished by the very forces who brought us BushCheney. I wonder how happy they are now that they all got exactly what they asked for?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I actually think this is a fairly defeatest view, and it’s not grounded in evidence.

      Just wait until someone you know has to deal with Identify Theft or fraud. No way in hell people are going to forget this – they’re going to be asking how in the world the US Congress and Bu$hCheney made it more likely that rogues inside telecoms and government will be harder to locate and track down.

      I think this — purely because of some technical issues — will really come back to haunt the politicians.

      Last winter MadDogs put up a link to a Sun Research paper on the whole FISA issue, and the implications for both spying and criminal opportunities, that were jaw-drop scary. (Honestly, the Sun document almost read like a Neal Stephenson scifi thriller).

      Sorry that I don’t have the link handy, but perhaps MadDogs still has it somewhere.

  13. cboldt says:

    Reid doesn’t want to file a cloture motion over the recalcitrant republican who has a “hold” (he actually is not consenting to a UC request, unless that UC request includes a vote on his amendment) because doing so introduces the time delays that attach to the cloture process, and Reid wants to pass numerous bills before Sunday.

      • cboldt says:

        Trying to figure out why and get confirmation now.

        My guesses were Enzi, Coburn, or DeMint. At any rate, I predict the objector will relent “soon enough.” President Bush has said he’d veto, and President Bush has also signaled the urgency of obtaining FISA and the Supplemental.

        Esoterica – the fact that Senate hasn’t conducted the cloture vote on the motion to proceed “on schedule” (that’s it’s “late”) is often used to justify reducing the 30 hour time period between obtaining cloture and voting on the underlying matter. As long as the cloture vote happens before tomorrow afternoon, I expect no DEM would object to voting on the motion to proceed, tomorrow afternoon. This will look like the 30 hours have been shortened (they have), but the full delay resulting from objecting in the first place will have been obtained.

        • emptywheel says:

          It’s Ensign.

          Are you talking about shortening the 30 hours on FISA, or on housing? Bc Dodd has already gotten consent to shorten the time on housing.

          • cboldt says:

            Are you talking about shortening the 30 hours on FISA, or on housing?

            I had FISA in mind, as the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to FISA is overdue NOW. But the principle is generic. Senators won’t object to what appears to be a shortened post-cloture debate time, particularly to the extent that the cloture vote has been delayed past it’s rules-based timing.

            But picture this – and I guarantee you there would be HOWLS from objectors, the Senate delays the cloture vote until tomorrow afternoon, then, instead of waiting 30 hours to take up the bill, it takes it up immediately. “But what about those 30 hours of post cloture debate?” Fair question … I’m just explaining how it’s not always capitulation, when a Senator agrees to less than 30 hours of post-cloture time.

  14. KestrelBrighteyes says:

    EPU’d from the last thread:

    I’m wondering about something:

    (A) in connection with intelligence activity involving communications that was (i) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and (ii) designed to prevent or detect a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation of a terrorist attack, against the United States” and

    We know that Qwest had already refused to deal without a warrant as early as FEBRUARY – so does this mean that any spying done BEFORE September 11 is NOT covered by immunity? Is there any way we can use this to our advantage?

    I sent something reminding Congress critters of this a couple of times since we started the fight – has ANYONE in the Senate or House even approached the issue of starting the spying BEFORE September 11? It just seems to me that leaves a bit of a hole in their reason for spying in the first place, and I’d like to see an explanation for that part of it – publicly, on the floor of the Senate, and as often as possible.

  15. kspena says:

    Horton tomorrow…

    June 24, 3:04 PM
    The Addington–Yoo Hearing, Gavel-to-gavel
    On Thursday, June 26, the House Judiciary Committee will conduct hearings into the legal genesis of the Bush Administration’s torture policies. Featured witnesses will be David Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and University of California–Berkeley law professor John C. Yoo, who as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was the principal draftsman of the torture memoranda. The Bay Area’s KPFA (94.1 FM in Berkeley) and participating Pacifica Network stations will be carrying the hearing live, gavel-to-gavel, starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern (6:00 a.m. Pacific) time. Pacifica’s Larry Bensky and Harper’s legal affairs contributor Scott Horton will be co-anchoring the broadcast, which can be monitored through a streaming webcast.

  16. Bushie says:

    Since Obama and Congress will gather over the 4th of July for a weenie roast fueled by the burning Constitution, what, my learned legal beagle friends, can be done in court to declare retroactive immunity and voiding the 4th amendment illegal, or are we just fucked?

  17. abinitio says:

    What a sad state of affairs in this country. There’s no one howling about losing their constitutional rights and the core of our republic – liberty from the tyranny of government. What’s going to prevent the next Dick Cheney from just arresting any folks they don’t like and torturing them just for fun?

    Most people will say it can’t happen. Until it happens to them! But it will be too late by then. After this FISA update gets signed into law we are effectively in a country run at the whim of a President. Ciao Lady Liberty.

  18. Blub says:

    well… perhaps we should look at this pragmatically, and work to ensure that it does get pushed into the break.. if it gets pushed into the August doldrums, who’s to say it can’t get lost in procedure until shrub’s approval rating is in the teens and Obama’s well into the campaign season, desperately trying to find other ways to differentiate himself from McCain. Maybe then the Dems will come to their senses.

  19. cando says:

    Marcy, I haven’t thanked you enough for the Libby Trial and your work here on FISA. Just know we do read and are watching and calling. Carol

  20. BargainCountertenor says:

    OT, but I think is a good place to ask.

    Just how did Souter and our corporatist Supreme Court figure out that punitive damages cannot exceed compensatory damages? I’ve been to the Texas State Fair, two church picnics and a rodeo and that is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of.

    I guess I could go along with it, if (and only if) Souter tells me how we can imprison Exxon for criminal wrongdoing.


    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      and a rodeo and that is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of.

      I hope you are not suggesting that rodeos are stupid…?
      They may be an acquired taste, but they probably go back to the Neolithic, and a good one is like nothing else in this world.

      (Maybe you had the bad luck to be at a lame rodeo…)

  21. alank says:

    I still don’t know what the Housing bill contains. I suppose I could have a shufti over at the LOC site. But is it, in fact, a bank bailout bill with only solicitude for the beleaguered homeowners?

    • emptywheel says:

      Some of the good things–that the Administration opposes–are funds to localities to shore up foreclosed areas, to prevent entire neighborhoods from going.

      THe big controversial thing is to do FHA backed refis so that people in trouble can get a lower interest rate fixed rate loan, where the lender has to take a cut in the principle. In other words–an attempt to incent bankers and borrowers to negotiate a deal that will work for the long term. What people oppose is the govt backing of this, but it’s sort of like bailing out Bear Stearns.

      Then there are tax breaks to get people into homes. That’s a Republican sponsored thing designed to help the real estate industry and maybe not a good idea, but if it keeps some movement in the housing industry, might not be bad.

    • prostratedragon says:

      It is a 602-page bill, is what it is; in fact it started life as an energy bill, although the energy provisions have been stripped out and were passed separately a few months ago. (Get that link while it’s hot; THOMAS decayed a fresh one on me after less than an hour. If you lose it, search for H.R. 3221 and chose the most recent version.)

      There has been a lot of talk that that main FHA bailout provisions were first proposed by Credit Suisse, with a lot of later development by BofA. Candidates for which parts those would include Title I, esp. Subsection A, and Title IV.

      • masaccio says:

        Your point about Credit Suisse appears in the South China Daily Post, a Hong Kong paper I read on the plane here.

    • MarkH says:

      I still don’t know what the Housing bill contains. I suppose I could have a shufti over at the LOC site. But is it, in fact, a bank bailout bill with only solicitude for the beleaguered homeowners?

      It has a lot of things passed in earlier sessions and a couple of important new things: it lets lender & borrower sell the mortgage to the government if they both take a pre-determined loss and the government will rejigger it from an ARM to a fixed-rate; it also sets up a fund to buy some mortgages. All this is aimed at shoring up the weakest end of the mortgage market and setting a lot of homeowners back onto fixed-rate plans they can afford.

      If there’s a bailout it’s to the lenders who have the worst mortgages and can use these options. Right not Countrywide appears to have that dubious honor, but they are also likely to be bought by Bank of America and perhaps not even exist by the time this becomes law. So, it’s really not aimed at helping any particular firms, just the mortgage industry as a whole.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        If there’s a bailout it’s to the lenders who have the worst mortgages and can use these options. Right not Countrywide appears to have that dubious honor, but they are also likely to be bought by Bank of America and perhaps not even exist by the time this becomes law. So, it’s really not aimed at helping any particular firms, just the mortgage industry as a whole.

        Basically, we taxpayers who tried to live ‘within our means’ are being asked — yet AGAIN!! — to bail out the reckless, the ignorant, the ‘in-the-moment’, those who received bad advice, and the criminally fraudulent.

        ignorance is solvable.
        Poor advice means the people who gave it should pay more.
        The criminally fraudulent belong in prison, and at this point I am so angry about the whole mess that as far as I’m concerned the feckless politicians who made the crap laws can join them for a short stay.

        I think if there is anything that unifies ‘the American people’ right now, it’s white-hot wrath at being asked, yet again, to underwrite and bail out fraudulent, reckless opportunists who told those of us who tried to be responsible that we were rubes.

        And guess what?
        Now the government, by bailing out frauds on our dollar, is telling us exactly that: we’re a bunch of rubes.

        Telling people they’re a bunch of rubes for trying to be responsible and socially considerate is not smart.

  22. JTMinIA says:

    Unnamed Democratic CongressCritter: Senator Obama, congrats on winning the primary.

    Obama: Thanks.

    UDCC: Now, there’s something we need to talk about, given how you will probably be looking for some cooperation, both this fall and, hopefully, next spring.

    O: OK.

    UDCC: I did something … saw something … discussed something … said OK to something … a few years ago – in the heat of the moment; for love of country – that I’d rather remained unmentioned … both now and forever.

    O: OK.

    UDCC: So I can count on your support on FISA, right?

    O: Can I make a show of fighting immunity before voting ‘yes’?

    UDCC: Of course. Just don’t be too convincing, OK? [laughing]

    O: [also laughing] Of course.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think you have it spot on. Reid knows he can get FISA passed, but no one will miss their Fourth of July politicking at the county fairs, bake sales, churches, parks and parades back home to do it. They might be willing to miss it in order to pass the Iraq funding bill. Otherwise, the GOP might accuse the Dems of being soft on war/crime/safety/security/gays/lawnorder/you name it. They will anyway, of course, making the Dems about as learning-challenged as Mr. Bush.

    I also think that Reid hopes that a delay in taking up FISA, which he may do at a later date with no warning for the vote, will deflate citizen opposition to his anti-civil liberties, anti-constitutional legislation. It’s also likely to partially derail opposition within the Senate, such as from Dodd and Feingold.

    In short, Reid is adopting the abusive style of the Goopers. Expect substantive announcements during the Obama regime to continue to be made with the Friday night news dump, when no one’s looking. And about 1/2 an hour to read most of the legislation he brings to the floor.

    • JTMinIA says:

      He might try to ape their “style,” but he’s no good at it and will (I predict) lose. Until recently, only Boehner’s equal incompetence has kept this under some control, maybe because it’s hard to see when you’re crying. But now that Hoyer has turned….

    • Blub says:

      well, in that case, at least one can hope that he’ll bring better legislation to the floor

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Delay in voting on FISA is not about bringing better legislation to the floor. Reid wants this capitulation to Bush and its extensive expansion of warrantless domestic spying powers as much as Hoyer. Delay is about the tactics of passing this legislation and whatever else is on his plate. Which seems to exclude an interest in protecting the civil liberties of his constituents.

  24. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Wow, what a great explanation; Sen Reid sure seems reality-based, even if the notion that FISA will pass makes me just disgusted.

    However, I got to the third excerpt of Reid’s comments, and his pragmatic, quiet, calm statements conjured up what in incredible contrast Reid displays to the Rovian_Bu$hCheney mindset that Ron Suskind reported several years ago:

    The [Bu$hCheney] aide said that guys like [Suskind] were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality– judiciously, as you will– we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”


    Although I’m strongly opposed to FISA, I have a lot of respect for Sen Reid for being reality-based to play his cards as well as he can.

    There’s a lot to be said for quiet, mundane pragmatism when you’re up against egotistical, delusional fools.

  25. VictorLaszlo says:

    The Senate is close to passing the equally imperfect funding supplemental

    When did continuing the war in Iraq go from “absolutely unacceptable” to “imperfect?”

    Lowered expectations, eh?

      • VictorLaszlo says:

        Of course I’m not opposed to those things. But the bill also funds the occupation, yes?

        I know it’s not realistic to expect Congress to actually end the war, and that’s precisely my point.

  26. Nell says:

    continuing the war in Iraq go from “absolutely unacceptable” to “imperfect?”

    When some of the Webb GI Bill stuff and extension of unemployment benefits got added in.

  27. ubetchaiam says:

    I saw Inhofe-R offer an amendment in the record to the housing bill restricting aid to those whose yearly incomes are under $75K for singles and $150K for couples. So the States that have big time real estate pricing and banks on the books for big time mortgages would be ‘hit’ by such an amendment(Bush REALLY does NOT like CA and NY).
    BUT there is more to the FISA bill besides immunity and the provisions that Feingold/Dodd have pointed out and it is this: Youngstown Sheet and Tube v Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952).
    Failure to act on this faulty bill AND cause the House Judiciary Committee to hold a Grand Inquest regarding this Administration’s illegal actions essentially means that if President’s assert a prerogative — like the power to make war without a congressional declaration — systematically, with unbroken regularity, with the knowledge of the Congress and are never questioned — then that practice becomes a Constitutional power that cannot be infringed upon by the Congress or the Courts.

    Such would essentially make the Constitution an irrelevant document.

    So it’s not just the 4th Amendment or immunity but the WHOLE Constitution.

  28. eRobin says:

    Well, this is all very depressing.

    I think the only thing that has a chance of working now is to organize demonstrations outside Congressional district offices during the recess. It’s amazing how sensitive members of Congress are to that sort of thing. If True Majority got on board with something like that and helped with turn out, we may be able to get it done.

  29. VictorLaszlo says:

    To elaborate a bit on my previous post:

    We elected a new congress largely to end the war. They disappointed us.

    Now it’s become so ingrained in Americans, even those of us on the left, that congress not only won’t end the war, but that they CAN’T end the war, that it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    If I suggest – even on a solidly progressive, anti-Iraq-war blog – that congress should do their duty and end the war… I might as well say I just returned from an alien abduction.

    It’s just taken as a given that they’ll continue to fund this war forever. And that is sad.

  30. alank says:

    Thanks to EW and prostratedragon for some insight into the legislation. Reading the sections of note, I’m beginning to the think that whoever ultimately benefits, it will take a long time to implement and ultimately relatively few homeowners will be beneficiaries at the end of the day. At that point, the economy will be in places yet unexplored, I expect.

    • prostratedragon says:

      That could be true, that by the time these measures take effect the most acute problems will have shifted, but some aspects are going to be with us a discouragingly long time, just because it takes so long to “progress” from payment trouble to completed foreclosure in most states. The aid to localities, in particular, should be welcome whenever it comes.

      I’d rather see the bankruptcy reform EW mentioned that would allow a judge to reduce the principle amount a petitioning borrower still owed, or would like to see that in addition to the loan guarantees the bill offers. That would deal with the problem of falling prices/ negative equity leading to downward spirals, and would have responses naturally tailored to the widely varying local price conditions that we see (Ooo those Californai cramdowns!). Borrowers would have to live with the consequences of declaring bankruptcy, but would at least have an action they could initiate, instead of being at the mercy of the lenders, and the lenders, as the professionals in the matter, would have to bear a more equitable portion of the pain of those original foolish deals (though I think they might have to acknowledge some losses in the D-S bill also).

  31. brantl says:

    As well-versed as I’ve become in FISA, frankly, I can’t imagine telling my neighbors facing foreclosure that defeating immunity is more important than them keeping their house.

    I can. This is an error in logic, FISA is actually is more important than this. Things can and will be done about foreclosure, this is nearly impossible to stop. And it’s not even an exclusive choice, either.

  32. JamesJoyce says:

    Seems everything is geared towards protecting the government and corporations! These laws will be used against the American people to protect powerful status quo interests.

  33. prostratedragon says:

    Btw, that Illinois filing includes a nice brisk overview of the history of mortgage securitization.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Oh, my ;-))
      Excellent links to well written docs.
      People who watch “24″ are perhaps prone to think that the only way to ‘kick ass’ is to get a gun. I’ve seen some ‘kick ass’ documents in my day, and these links also point to some.
      Good news.

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