Shorter WSJ: George Bush Is Irrelevant and So Is McCain

This WSJ editorial beating up on Dems for their shiny new FISA spine is full of the illogical blathering you’d expect. Take this paragraph, which claims that even with immunity from PAA and even with a FISA court order, the telecoms simply won’t do as they’re mandated to do.

Mr. Reyes claims that existing wiretap orders can stay in place for a year. But that doesn’t account for new targets, which may require new kinds of telecom cooperation and thus a new court order. Mr. Reyes can make all the assertions he wants about immunity, but they are no defense against a lawsuit. For that matter, without a statute in place, even a renewed order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is likely to be challenged as illegitimate. A telecom CEO who cooperates without a court order is all but guaranteed to get not merely a wiretap lawsuit, but also a shareholder suit for putting the company at legal risk.

Apparently, the WSJ believes that even if the telecoms have immunity, it’s no defense against a lawsuit (someone better tell Mitch and Mike McConnell that all their immunity efforts are for naught). And even if the FISA Court issues a warrant under that statute known as "FISA," the telecoms would regard such an order as illegitimate, because there’s no statute supporting it.

And of course, the WSJ parrots the now mandatory claim that ACLU and EFF are really trial lawyers wearing low-paying disguises.

So instead they’re trying to do it through the backdoor by unleashing the trial bar to punish the telephone companies.

I’m most amused, though, by the closing paragraph, which gets to the heart of the panic over FISA.

Mr. Bush has been doing his part in this debate, but his political capital is waning. The Republican who needs to make himself heard now is John McCain. The Arizona Senator is voting the right way, but he seems curiously disengaged from a debate that plays to his national security strengths. The time to speak up is before the next 9/11 Commission. [my emphasis]

Bush’s "political capital is waning" must be GOP-speak for "don’t look now because the Democrats have stood up to Bush."  And, pathetically, the WSJ whines that John McCain isn’t cowering Democrats into unquestioning obedience, either.

It’s like flying without a net, isn’t it, WSJ? When you can’t rely on Bush’s "political capital" to cow others into compliance?

Still Trying to Read Poppy Bush’s Lips

Am I the only one that finds it especially ironic that Poppy Bush endorsed McCain one day after McCain came out with a "no new taxes" pledge? If the timing was unintentional, I’d consider it a rather inauspicious coincidence if I were McCain.

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

You Know It’s a Clusterfuck if emptywheel Agrees with PowerLine

PowerLine is offended that John McCain allowed Joe Lieberman to make robocalls for him.

Mr. Knott reports the time of the message as 4:23 p.m. and quotes the message as follows (emphasis added):

Hi. This Senator Joe Lieberman. I’m calling for John McCain.

As you may remember I was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2000. But this year I’m supporting Republican John McCain for President because he is the person best qualified to lead our country forward. He’s a straight talker who will always do what’s right for our country regardless of partisan politics and he’s the only candidate prepared to be commander-in-chief from day one.

There isn’t a competitive Democratic primary in Michigan this year and all registered voters are able to participate in a Republican primary. So I’m calling today to urge you to vote in the Republican primary on January 15 for Senator John McCain. He’ll break through the partisanship and make our government in Washington work for all the people again.

I have written the McCain campaign to inquire about the accuracy of this report. I cannot vouch for it as of yet. It is consistent with this CBS report of Senator Lieberman campaigning today for Senator McCain in Michigan:

[I]n Ypsilanti, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., joined McCain on the stump and urged independents to vote for his friend.

"This is a tough and close fight here in Michigan here today. But Republicans, and I want to say specifically independents and yes, Democrats……I urge them to come out today and stand for a man who is a great American patriot."

If Mr. Knott’s report is accurate, is there anyone in the Republican Party beside John McCain who thinks this is kosher?

UPDATE: Patrick Hynes responds on behalf of the McCain campaign:

Thanks for reaching out to me. Sen. Lieberman indeed recorded a GOTV phone call, but it mentioned nothing about Democrats voting in the Republican primary and the call was not targeted to Democrats. Sen. Lieberman’s message was of a series of calls from numerous McCain campaign surrogates, which also included Sen. Sam Brownback.

As regular readers no doubt know, I, too, am offended that Joe Lieberman spammed me with robocalls for McCain for the last 4 days. Read more

Clusterfuck Eve

I can tell you, it’ll sure be hard to sleep tonight as I ponder the possibilities of tomorrow’s MI Clusterfuck Primary. Polls show that Romney might just pull this out–and surprisingly, at least one of those polls says he’ll do so with Republican support.

“As the undecided voters make up their minds, more are turning to Mitt Romney than to John McCain. We have also seen the participation among Republicans increase from 62% last night to 75% at the end of phoning tonight. That means that 75% of the voters taking part in the GOP Primary identify themselves as Republicans,” Steve Mitchell, president of Mitchell Interactive said.

Rasmussen has a similar projection for the number of Republican primary voters who will be Republican. And the Free Press claims that 0% of Democrats polled said they’d vote a Republican ballot–a laughable number, IMO. If those numbers are correct, it may mean "Uncommitted" will have a come from behind victory on the Democratic side as more Democrats listen to party leadership and decide to vote in the meaningless Democratic primary. I’d actually be thrilled with an "Uncommitted" victory in MI–it describes how I’m feeling right now perfectly. But like said, the 0% is a laughable number.

But what I’m really looking forward to is for Joe Lieberman and John McCain to stop spamming me (or rather, some Republican named Margaret) with robocalls and junk mail. McCain is even doing an event in Washtenaw County, a sure-fire sign he thinks Democrats might put him over the edge again. Though why he believes Lieberman is going to help make that case, I don’t know.

I still have gotten a robocall from Huck yet, which was the only reason I would cross-over to vote for Mitt. There’s still time yet, but for now, I’m hoping our clusterfuck ends in the only logical fashion: uncommitted.

Polling the Clusterfuck

Yesterday I said there were no MI polls. Well, now there are two, which still support my clusterfuck analysis, but also suggest that the Mitten might finish off Mitt. Here are the two polls:

Rossman Group/MIRS/Denno-Noor
January 6 and 7, MOE 5.8%

Huck 23%
Mitt 22%
McCain 18%
Rudy 8%
Frederick of Hollywood 4%
Paul 3%
Hunter 1%
Uncommitted 13%
Unsure 7%

Hillary 48%
Kooch 3%
Gravel 1%
Uncommitted 28%
Unsure 11%
Other 10%

Strategic Vision
January 4-6, MOE 4%

John McCain 29%
Mitt Romney 20%
Mike Huckabee 18%
Rudy Giuliani 13%
Fred Thompson 5%
Ron Paul 5%
Duncan Hunter 1%
Undecided 9%

So let’s start with the Democrats (only MIRS polled Dems). The poll was pre-NH, so you might assume that Hillary would pick up a bit for her NH victory, which might put her over 50%. However, state pols have really just started their campaigns to get Dems to vote uncommitted, including the rather amusingly named, Detroiters for Uncommitted Voters and radio ads from Congressman Conyers. As more people realize what "uncommitted" means, Hillary may well lose some points to … no one. What I’m most interested in with the MIRS is the 10% who voted "other," which is what I’d answer if I were given a Democratic ballot and asked who I planned to vote for if I planned to cross-over and add to the Republican clusterfuck. In other words, I take this poll to suggest, very very very roughly, that the Republicans might be hosting at least 10% of self-identified Democrats. Though of course, who they’ll vote for is anyone’s guess. Read more

Michigan’s Clusterfuck: Prelude to a National Clusterfuck?

I’m not the only one calling MI’s primary next week a clusterfuck–one of the state’s top Dem consultants, Mark Grebner, thinks so too, though he doesn’t use the word clusterfuck:

Of course, we may get lucky, but that’s not really "a plan". With Clinton bouncing back tonight in NH, it’s plausible that she and Obama will go round after round, with neither scoring a knockout.

Imagine next that Michigan’s "primary" results in a Clinton landslide on January 15, caused mainly because the opposition will be confused and splintered by the available options. I don’t know whether that will happen, but it may.

The consequence might be that Michigan’s would-be delegation would prove critical to forming a majority. Not at the Convention, most likely, but during the wheeling and dealing phase that leads up to it, as the two sides struggle to assemble a majority.

If this comes to pass, the fight will be between Clinton’s effort to seat Michigan, and Obama’s struggle to uphold the DNC sanctions. One side extending pseudo-grace and forgiveness to our transgressions, while the other side asks in pseudo-good-faith, why he should be punished for complying with the DNC’s rules and following their instructions.


My question is: is there some reason this can’t happen?

I’m marginally less worried than Grebner is about the Democratic side (though trust me–he’s a lot smarter about MI politics), mostly because I’m taking naive solace in the fact that "uncommitted" will appear on ballots, meaning Edwards and Obama supporters won’t have to navigate what would be effectively a write-in vote, but with a legally significant word, to support their candidate. That doesn’t mean Democratic voters won’t choose to vote in the Republican primary, doesn’t mean that those cross-over voters won’t be decisive as they were in 2000 for McCain, and doesn’t mean either party will get a real read of the support for its various candidates from the clusterfuck. It just means that Hillary will win by a smaller landslide (hey–with both Edwards and Obama supporters voting on the same line, who knows?), which will make the clusterfuck imagined by Grebner slightly less severe, though still a real possibility.

Me, I’m more intrigued by the way that Michigan’s clusterfuck may begin to set off a larger clusterfuck for Republicans. There has been no polling in Michigan since mid-December, and in that poll Huck scored remarkably well. Read more

Missing the Party

Let me start this post by throwing out some assertions.

  • The most interesting question about New Hampshire, IMO, is not whether Obama beats Hillary or whether Mitt survives against McCain. It’s whether Obama has a greater draw over Independents than McCain, which thereby deprives McCain of any victory there.
  • In her very gracious concession speech the other night, Hillary seemed genuinely thrilled by the huge Democratic/female/youth turnout (even after bitching about Obama’s direct appeal to "out-of-state" students for several weeks beforehand), even as she seemed to be recognizing how failed her strategy in Iowa had been.
  • Mitt Romney won handful of delegates today, and regardless of what happens in NH, will go onto MI, a state where several buildings in Lansing bear his Daddy’s name, to compete against a guy who had a huge victory here in 2000.

All of which is my preface to saying that the pundits are (for the most part) dealing with a much too flat conception of what this primary is going to look like, seeing only the intra-party competition, and they’re not seeing that we’re already thick into a competition between the two parties that may well have real ramifications for the outcome.

That said, let me go back to the beginning and explain what I mean. The press has largely assumed that McCain, the "maverick" who won in NH in 2000, stands to be the non-Mitt there this year. That assumes, of course, that the Independents (and even the Republicans) who turned out for McCain in 2000 will turn out for him again and it assumes that McCain’s prime contestant is Mitt. Now, ignore the fact that NH is a pretty solidly anti-war state and McCain is up there threatening a hundred year presence in Iraq. The bulk of the press still seems to be ignoring an unstated contest between Obama and McCain for Independents. Chris Bowers reads it right, IMO, when he suggests,

No momentum for McCain and Huckabee whatsoever. Obama is sucking up all the air right now, and probably the New Hampshire independents that McCain needed. Read more