For Fear Of Fear – Part One

It has been an exciting and fascinating two days, yesterday and today. It has been the best, and worst, of American democracy in action. The thrill of victory; the agony of a weak defeat, snatched from the strong jaws of victory. Yesterday we were giddy with the knowledge that the Democratic Senate Leadership had actually stood up, not just to the Bush/Cheney/Republican cabal of maximum everything in wiretapping and privacy invasion, but in the name or the Constitution and righteousness. Today, reality came crashing back down to earth for those of us in the reality based community.

Yesterday, the Senate led by Harry Reid and the Democrats fought off cloture and a vote on the contemptible Jello Jay Rockefeller crafted SSCI FISA Update Bill that, in addition to other ills, provided immunity to Dick Cheney, George Bush, other Administration malefactors and, as somewhat of an afterthought, participating telcos. That was a good thing. There were already whispers and scuttlebutt of a "brief extension" of the truly contemptible Protect America Act. As I have argued for some time now, there are inherent problems with such a "routine brief extension".

I repeat what I said yesterday on this “brief extension” nonsense. It is nothing but sheer political posturing that brings us down to the level of the Repuglicans AND weakens our case at the same time. Take a stand for the proper principles, and stand behind them as opposed to injecting harmful BS for the sole sake of cornering your opponent; which is a fine and appropriate tactic, if it doesn’t undercut your core principle in the process. Here, it will weaken the core principle and argument in it’s favor and should NOT be considered; especially since it is not necessary “to protect us” in the least, and blindly saying that it is so necessary is ridiculous.

NO EXTENSION! There is no need whatsoever for an extension, because A) The Administration can order any comprehensive program, or programs, they want prior to the lapse of the PAA and that program(s) will stay in effect for one full year “to protect us”; and B) the original FISA law is reinstated. Furthermore, passage of any extension is a wolf in sheep’s clothing because is equitably removes and/or weakens many arguments and defenses that opponents, like us, to the PAA had from it’s original passage in August 2007. At the Read more

Reid Thanks Christy and McJoan on FISA

I’m at a schmoozy event at the Senate today–Harry Reid gave an opening speech focusing on the areas where progressive loud mouths have really helped out the Senate.

He spoke for a bit about FISA–repeating what he has said publicly (that if the Republicans won’t accept a PAA extension, then it will expire). But at the very start of his speech he named some of the people who had helped most on the FISA bill. McJoan (from DailyKos) and FDL’s own Christy were the first two people he mentioned.

Was It Her Colleagues, or Her Constituents?

As Jane reported last night, our presidential candidates have decided to return to DC to exercise their vote, if not to lead.

I’m glad to have them, though I agree with Tim Tagaris that we could sure use their help on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, as well as today.

I’m curious, though, about one thing. On Friday, here’s what Hillary told Matt Stoller about this vote:

Then I spoke with Hillary, and she said she has assured her colleagues she will go back to the Senate if they need her vote.

As was perfectly clear at that point, you don’t need votes to defeat a cloture vote–you just need to make sure your opponent doesn’t get the requisite 60 votes.

So what convinced Hillary to return and cast a vote that, I’m sure, her Republican opponents will find some way to attack (speaking of which, McCain is blowing off the SOTU, presumably to avoid committing one way or another to this vote)? Was it a slew of faxes sent to her campaign office, finally persuading her that missing this vote will be like flip-flopping on an $87 billion Iraq appropriation? Did someone decide that we might have a shot at reaching cloture on the House version of FISA, RESTORE, which should have a cloture vote immediately following the Rockefeller-Bond bill (I doubt that highly–I suspect this cloture vote is Reid’s attempt to prove that RESTORE is no likelier to pass than the Rockefeller-Bond bill [oops, I confused what the cloture vote is on–it’s on the extension of PAA])? Are we at risk of failing to defeat cloture, and Hillary wanted to make sure her vote was registered? Or did Hillary just remember she had a day job?

[Speaking of which, I’m actually in DC hanging around the Senate today, though I doubt they’ll let me vote in the cloture vote, or even see it any more closely than you can on CSPAN. Posting may be either light or heavy–who knows?]

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