Dan Quayle and Cerberus Holding American Economy Hostage


(Graphic by twolf)

Chris Dodd has signaled that he will let Dan Quayle’s Cerberus hold GM–and the American economy– hostage to get out of its crappy gambling bets.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Richard Wagoner should be replaced as a condition of federal aid and Chrysler LLC may have to merge to survive.


“Chrysler, is, I think, basically gone, probably ought to be merged,” Dodd said. Ford Motor Co. is the healthiest domestic automaker, he said.

Chris Dodd is right: Chrysler undoubtedly has to merge to survive. That’s partly because it does not have the global reach of GM and Ford. Because GM and Ford have significant sales in China and India and other quickly growing markets (which have been netting much higher profits), they can offset lower profits or even losses here in the States. But Chrysler doesn’t have that, so it can’t become profitable–across all its operations–as quickly as GM or Ford can. 

Chrysler also doesn’t have the product development pipeline its domestic competitors do. Ford has had increasing success of late offering either new US models on Mazda or Volvo chassis (like the Fusion, which competes well in quality and safety with the Accord and Camry), or bringing successful European models to the US (Focus in the past, and Fiesta and Mondeo in the near future). GM has the new Malibu (which is also gaining market share in the sedan segment), with the Cruze and Volt in the works (as well as any Opel models it decides to bring to the US, though the threats to shut down Saturn don’t bode well on that front). Chrysler’s got nothing equivalent. 

But understand: GM acquiring Chrysler–which is the most discussed option–offers little benefit to GM. Sure, the merged company would get to sell either the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit or Chrysler’s fairly new digs up north; you could find efficiencies in headquarter structure (if you were a healthy company to begin with). But everyone agrees that two of GM’s most urgent problems are that it has too many brands and too many dealerships. And you want to fix that by making it take on 3,300 more dealers and three more brands? This is Congress’ idea of a really smart restructuring?

Making a Chrysler bailout contingent on GM’s acquisition of it is two things. First, a refusal to do the most logical thing with it, nationalization. Read more

Confirmed: Final FISA Votes on July 8

As I understand it, Dodd and Feingold have signed off on a unanimous consent agreement to hold debate on three amendments (one of them immunity) on July 8, and then hold the vote then.

Here’s Feingold’s short statement on the delay.

I’m pleased we were able to delay a vote on FISA until after the July 4th holiday instead of having it jammed through. I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.

And here’s Dodd’s statement on it.

I’m pleased that consideration of the FISA Amendments Act has been delayed until after the 4th of July recess. I urge my colleagues to take this time to listen to their constituents and consider the dangerous precedent that would be set by granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that may have engaged in President Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

When and if FISA does come back to the Senate floor, I will offer my amendment to strip the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. I implore my colleagues to support the rule of law and join me in voting against retroactive immunity.

So we’ve got 12 days to convince our Senators to stop channeling the barnacle and protect our Constitution.

Update: Here’s what’s going to happen on the 8th.

This evening Senator Reid filed cloture on H.R. 6304. Under the agreement at a time to be determined on Tuesday, July 8, the Senate will proceed to Calendar #827, H.R. 6304, FISA. The following amendments are the only amendments in order:

Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment to strike immunity;

Specter amendment which is relevant; (60-vote threshold); and

Bingaman amendment re: staying court cases against telecom companies (60-vote threshold).

Debate on the amendments is limited to the times listed below with the time equally divided and controlled:

Dodd- 2 hours, with Senator Leahy controlling 10 minutes;

Specter- 2 hours; and

Bingaman- 60 minutes.

Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to vote on the amendments.

Prior to the cloture vote, there will be up to 60 minutes for debate equally divided and controlled between the Leaders or their designees, with Senator Leahy controlling 10 minutes. Senator Feingold will control an additional 30 minutes and Senator Read more

Why Does Senator Ensign Hate Foreclosed Homeowners … and Veterans … and Seniors … and Telecoms?

I’ve got a call into John Ensign’s Communications Director for confirmation now, but it sounds like John Ensign is the one Senator referenced in Harry Reid’s statement last night and Dodd’s statement a few minutes ago on the Senate floor. That is, because John Ensign has refused to a unanimous consent agreement on the housing bill, he is holding up everything the Senate is doing right now.

That means Ensign is preventing the thousands of Nevadans facing foreclosure–Nevada’s foreclosure rate rivals even Michigan’s–from the relief that the housing bill in the Senate will give them.

But because Reid has said the Senate has to get housing done before it gets anything else done, it means Ensign is also standing between a bunch of veterans and the expanded GI bill included in the supplemental bill. And a bunch of people who’ve been looking for jobs hoping to get an extension on their unemployment benefits. And doctors hoping to be compensated fairly, in a new Medicare bill, for treating our nation’s seniors.

Of course, it’s not all bad. We FISA bloggers owe Ensign a debt of gratitude, it looks like. Because he’s blocking unanimous consent on housing, we may be able to push out FISA beyond the July 4 break. So thank you, John Ensign, for standing in the way of the shredding of the Constitution.

If you’re a Nevada resident, you might want to call Ensign at (202) 224-6244 and ask him why he’s preventing Nevada homeowners from getting some alternatives to losing their house.

But if you’re not a Nevada resident, you might want to call Ensign and thank him for standing up to the evil telecoms who illegally spied on American citizens.

Update: Corrected Medicare language per cboldt.

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. Read more

FISA Debate Liveblog

Three amendments up, no votes today. The first two Feingold amendments prohibit bulk collection and reverse targeting. The third, with Dodd, is immunity.

Feingold on Reverse Targeting

Director of Intelligence has testified that reverse targeting is violation of 4th amendment.

Notes Senator from GA has said reverse targeting is possible.

[Placing declassified documents in record]

This confirms that when FBI has interest in American, up to FBI whether to seek a warrant.

A recent DOJ IG report says surveillance disrupted bc telephone bill not paid on time.

Of course, FBI might choose not to seek a warrant because it doesn’t really have a case against that American. I’m afraid to say, the answer appears to be yes. Once FBI gets US identity, the FBI can choose whether or not to follow up.

Even as Administration brought broad new authorities the Administration refused to figure out whether they were violating the Constitution.

I hope my colleagues will support this amendment, it appears there’s no opposition to it (no Republicans present). Read more

FISA Fight Reconvenes at 2

The Senate will take up the FISA fight again today at 2:00, now missing not just the three presidential candidates, but possibly others campaigning for their colleagues. Among the many ways last week’s compromise on FISA really hurt our cause, scheduling the vote for the day before Super Tuesday is at the top of the list. [Update: there will not be a FISA related vote today, we’ll have debate. But I still doubt we’re going to hold off the votes until Wednesday, when everyone will be back from Super Tuesday.]

cboldt has a slightly updated post on what the Senate will be voting on here. By far his most important update is this:

The Senate has formally signaled that it will not request a conference with the House, to resolve differences. At this point of the process on the FISA bill, a conference request is premature because the House has yet to weigh in on the Senate’s proposed legislation. While the two bills are different, the formality of disagreement is presently absent. See Riddicks – Conferences and Conference Reports, in particular pp 467-8, which describe the interaction between both chambers.

For those of you hoping we’ll restore some of the protections from the House Bill (sorry, no pun intended) during conference, I take this to mean that we may well never get to conference, and therefore may never get to improve on the Senate bill once the Senate passes it.

So it behooves us to call our Senators and lobby for them to improve this bill now, in the Senate. When you call, I suggest you tell them to:

  • Oppose telecom immunity. While it’s unlikely that we’ll get the 51 majority vote to pass Dodd and Feingold’s amendment, pushing hard against immunity may convince them to support one or both of the compromise immunity amendments (I just learned this one requires majority vote of those voting, not 51).
  • Support court review of minimization procedures. Right now, the Administration is obligated to tell the FISA Court how they intend to make sure your data and mine isn’t rounded up in un-related searches and then used. But they don’t have to prove to the Court that they’re doing what they say they’ll be doing. Encourage your Senators to support Whitehouse’s amendment giving the FISA Court review of whether the Administration is doing what they say they’re doing. As we know, more often than not, they’re NOT doing what they say. Minimization is one of the things that Republicans consistently say they support, so if your Senator(s) is a Republican, remind him or her that this is really about protecting Americans’ civil liberties and privacy. Read more

How to Lead: Chris Dodd Edition

While Hillary and Obama were leaving the work of legislating to others, Chris Dodd stepped up to lay out the stakes for the FISA debate.

Senators are not entitled to see their amendments pass. But they are entitled to this: a good-faith debate, honest criticism, and, ultimately, a vote.

Last night, they didn’t get it. Our Republican colleagues, assuming that they would lose those votes, effectively shut down the work of the Senate. They’ve taken their ball and run home.

They won’t debate us on the merits. On the merits, they conceded, Republicans have lost.

And I don’t think I’m far off base, Mr. President, in seeing in this egregious shutdown a parallel to retroactive immunity itself. Both attitudes privilege power over deliberation, over consensus, over honest argument.

Like immunity, pulling these amendments shows a contempt for honest debate and a willingness to settle issues in the dark, in back rooms—rather than in the open, where the law lives, where the American people can see it.

President Bush wants to shut down courts whose rulings he doesn’t like; last night, Senate Republicans showed that when they don’t like the outcome of a debate, they’ll shut that down, too.

It’s one thing for a president to express that kind of contempt for the process of legislation. It’s another for the members legislative branch to express it themselves.

Mr. President, I’ve spoken repeatedly about the rule of law. The rule of law isn’t some abstract idea. It’s here with us—it’s what makes this body run.

It means we hear each other out, we do it in the open, and while the minority gets its voice, gets its right to strenuously object, the majority ultimately rules.

And standing for the rule of law anywhere means standing for it everywhere: in our courts, and in our Senate. The circumstances are different, of course; but the heart of the matter is the same. Last night, I believe, the Republican party forfeited its claim to good faith on this issue. They’re left to stake their case on fear. Whether that will be enough, the next few days will tell. [my emphasis]

Well, thank god someone’s in DC standing up for the rule of law.

Anti-Immunity Porn

Senators Dodd and Feingold aren’t waiting for Monday to keep fighting the good fight on FISA. Feingold has issued the following statement:

The conduct of Senate Republicans yesterday was shameless. After weeks of insisting that it is absolutely critical to finish the FISA legislation by February 1, even going so far as to object to a one-month extension of the Protect America Act, they obstructed all efforts to actually work on the bill. Now they want to simply ram the deeply flawed Intelligence Committee bill through the Senate. They refused to allow amendments to be offered or voted on, including my straight-forward amendment to require that the government provide copies of FISA Court orders and pleadings for review in a classified setting, so that Members of Congress can understand how FISA has been interpreted and is being applied. If the Republicans succeed in cutting off debate on Monday, the Senate won’t even get to vote on the amendment Senator Dodd and I want to offer to deny retroactive immunity to telecom companies that allegedly cooperated with the administration’s illegal wiretapping program.

Democrats should not allow the Republicans to ram this bill through the Senate without amendments. Monday’s cloture vote will be a test of whether the majority is willing to stand up to the administration and stand up for our rights. [my empahsis]

And Dodd just finished kicking some serious ass on the floor of the Senate. He has called those who claim the telecoms will go out of business "amateur economists" and pointed to AT&Ts huge profits. He explained, "the point of immunity is to challenge Bush’s assertion that he is the law." And he accused the telecoms of using the Nuremberg defense. Finally, after listing all the abuses of power that can’t be undone–including the destruction of the torture tapes and AGAG’s lies before Congress, he described immunity as one thread that we can use to combat the Administration’s abuses. "We can grab hold of the one thread left to use here and pull on it until the whole garment unravels."

Update: Whitehouse just finished speaking. Two of his best lines were, the Administration "couldn’t be troubled to get a court order, to protect these companies they’re so concerned about now" and if we pass telecom immunity, "we are taking away real rights of real Americans that are being litigated in courts right now. I don’t know if Congress Read more

Why Did Reid Pull the Bill?

This rather snotty article from the WaPo says that Reid didn’t pull the FISA bill yesterday because of Dodd’s efforts.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the decision had nothing to do with the efforts of Dodd and his allies. Indeed, for most of yesterday, Dodd appeared to be fighting a losing battle. His initial filibuster effort was steamrolled when the Senate voted 76 to 10 to take up the measure at noon.

Manley is, of course, full of shit. At the very least, Reid did the math to see that Dodd could filibuster this issue until the Christmas break, and since Reid intended to get funding done before the break, he was faced with postponing the break or punting the appropriations bills to the next year. So whatever else caused Reid to pull the bill, Dodd’s demonstration that he was willing to hold the Senate floor was one factor (apparently, Dodd only left the floor once during yesterday’s debate).

Snotty article also points to the amendments as one of the reasons Reid pulled the bill.

But in the face of more than a dozen amendments to the bill and guerrilla tactics from its opponents, Reid surprised his colleagues when he announced there would not be enough time to finish the job.

Now, best as I can count, I think I know of at least five amendments:

  1. Dodd’s amendment to pull immunity from the bill
  2. DiFi’s amendment to declare FISA the exclusive means of electronic tapping
  3. DiFi’s amendment to have the FISA Court review the authorizations the telecoms got before they received immunity
  4. [I think] A Whitehouse amendment to prohibit wiretapping of US Persons abroad
  5. [I think] A Whitehouse amendment to provide oversight of minimization
  6. Update: Beth Meacham says Leahy’s amendment–to substitute the SJC bill–came up just before Reid pulled the bill (thanks Beth).

I’ll try to clarify these later today. In addition, I’m sure there were going to be Republican amendments seeking to allow Bush to wiretap each and every Dirty Fucking Hippie and similar authoritarian fun.

Read more


As you’ve likely heard, Senator Reid has pulled the FISA bill. We win–for today, at least.

Here’s Nico PitneyThe HuffPo’s write-up.

The Dead Tree Media is a little behind. At 9:16, the headlines read:

Telecom Immunity Bill Advances

Telecom Industry Wins a Round on Eavesdropping

Um, no they didn’t.

A statement of thanks from Senator Dodd:

Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy. The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I want to thank the thousands of Americans throughout the country that stood with me to get this done for our country.

And if you’d like to return the favor, this might be a good place to start.