Democrat$ and the FI$A Bill

[][1] is a great site that tracks Congressional campaign contribution data for the US Congress - you can see when campaigns receive money (before or after certain bills) and the average donation. So guess what's Maplight's focus today? There are 94 House Democrats who previously voted against the FISA acts, but now voted yes on a [ new FISA bill][2] that is worse than the previous two as far as civil liberties are concerned. These 94 Democrats all, strangely enough, received [campaign contributions][3] from telecom companies. The average "donation" was $8,359.00.Guess who's among this company? Both Kansas Democrats Dennis Moore (who got $18,500 - ?!) and Nancy Boyda ($1,000), as well as James Clyburn ($29,500), Rahm Emanuel ($28,000), Nancy Pelosi ($24,500), Emanuel Cleaver ($6,000), John Murtha ($5,000) and Patrick Murphy ($3,000), among well, 86 others. [Click here][4] to send an email to Dennis Moore about accepting $18,500 from the telecom companies.The Senate is supposed to vote on it this week. [Click here][5] to go to the Senate's contact info page to send them a disgruntled email - I suggest sending one to Missouri's Claire McCaskill (is Sam Brownback really gonna care at all?). Harry Reid seems to be trying to stall the bill until after July 4th and Senators Feingold and Dodd stated that they will [filibuster][6], but no one seems to really know what's going to happen. The general excuse is that some Democrats do not want to be seen in tough upcoming elections as being "soft on terror", and that they want to rush this through so that it is not an issue they will have to be concerned with. But this bill extends the current three-day window for no warrants to a week (not that the administration really gives a shit about permission anyway), plus there's that tricky retroactive immunity thing (which seems to be the only thing that Feingold and Dodd seem to be attempting to amend). Ugh. Taking a little turn - if you're looking for a new book, may I suggest [The Great Derangement][7], by my future husband Matt Taibbi. The premise of the book is that Americans have become so increasingly disillusioned with our government that they increasingly turn to weirder, more paranoid and conspiratorial fringe groups on both ends of the political spectrum. He spends months with a doomsday evangelical church, 9/11 Truthers, soldiers in Iraq and the US Congress. And he's hilarious.Here's a good clip of a fairly recent interview in which he talks about spending some time with a group of 9/11 Truthers and as a member of John Hagee's evangelical church: [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]:


Joel 8 years, 4 months ago

Well, I'm not justifying. I'm explaining.

April Fleming 8 years, 4 months ago

From this Slate article "Why the New Wiretapping Laws are Worse than You Think":"No judge will have an opportunity to call the president's willful violation of a federal statute a crime, and no landmark ruling by the courts can serve as a warning for future generations about government excesses in dangerous times. What's more, because the proposal so completely plays into the Bush conception of executive power, it renders meaningless any of its own provisions. After all, if the main lesson of the wiretapping scandal is that we need more surveillance power for the government, what is to stop President Bush-or President Obama or President McCain-from one day choosing to set this new law aside, too?"

April Fleming 8 years, 4 months ago

Something I did neglect to mention that's pretty important that the bill does do is restore some semblance of a court (cough there hasn't been one since last August or something?), that being the "compromise". And yup on that, Joel. A majority doesn't mean much when nothing changes. Or if you're in the Senate, Joe Lieberman is your majority vote.

April Fleming 8 years, 4 months ago

Going after the telecoms and punishing them isn't the whole point of the immunity, really (that might actually be cheaper for them than this), but by going through the civil legal process we can find out in court exactly who was behind what, who asked for what and what justfication was provided to whom. I don't think there's any other way to find out and ultimately the blame and culpability would go to whoever is truly responsible for this. If the bill is in the same form when it emerges from the Senate as it was when it got out of the house (which is doubtful) I think this can still be done criminally. Also, voting yes to avoid the ads is one thing. Accepting $18,500 from those hosers is another.

Joel 8 years, 4 months ago

With the explaination explaination out of the way, though, it does make you wonder why somebody with liberal leanings should vote for, say, Dennis Moore. I suppose -- big picture -- a liberal person might like the fact that he helps create a Democratic majority in the House. But if you're one of his constituents and he keeps voting against your wishes on Big Things like invading Iraq and government surveillance ... well, you know, a Republican could do that just as well.

Chris Tackett 8 years, 4 months ago

I completely see what Joel is saying, but I'm sick of it.Stand for something or stand for nothing. Strategic or not, debate it, fine. But Congress is about to let a bunch of criminals off the hook and way too many people think it's no big deal. Enforce the laws as they are written, don't just willfully set this precedent and don't fall over when the other guy pushes you, just because you think you'll maybe get a punch in later on. Stand your ground. This is embarassing.

Joel 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure money explains everything you think it explains here.Remember: Boyda is representing a district that, until a year-and-a-half ago, was represented by Jim Ryun, one of the most conservative members of Congress. Her district -- which includes a couple of forts -- didn't suddenly turn liberal. So Boyda, when she casts the vote, probably is thinking a little bit like this: "I'd rather not face five months of 'Nancy Boyda doesn't want to protect you from terrorist attacks' TV ads." Sure, those ads would be skipping over some nuance, but that doesn't mean they'd be any less effective.Dennis Moore is in somewhat the same situation. It's easy to forget because he's held the seat so long now, but he's mostly only barely beat Republicans during that time. So he, too, probably figures he has to steer toward the middle: Johnson County ain't liberal, either. (And remember: He voted for the Iraq invasion way back when; that wasn't a money thing ... that's just how he rolls, by trying to never appear "soft" on national security issues.)It's also possible that both these folks simply believe the bill was the best think possible. In any case, I'm mad about the warrantless wiretapping -- but I can't get too worked up about telecom immunity. For one thing, civil libertarians are going after the telecom companies because they can't go after the real culprits, who are all in the Bush Administration -- it's like executing the guy who mailed in Al Capone's taxes for him. Maybe it's satisfying, but it doesn't do anything to actually solve the problem of abused executive power.Plus, part of me feels sympathetic. If you're the head of a telecom company and the president asks you -- after 9/11 -- for help, wouldn't you be a little inclined to give it? Don't get me wrong: Dahlia Lithwick is entirely correct (in a different but very related context) that we'll have no law if people can merely violate the law because of "good intentions." But again, I think the Bush Administration is the real culprit here; the telecoms are a sideshow at best.

maclothier 8 years, 4 months ago

Nor does it explain why the change in voting patterns, particularly as it relates to the point Joel made about Boyda and Moore.

Chris Tackett 8 years, 3 months ago

joel, i knew you were just explaining and wasn't directing that at you. just those evening frustrations, ya know. and i think you're just about exactly right. but the reason to still vote for moore in lesser-evil-land - if you look at it like that - is that he's going to be better on some of the issues. ideally you get to throw out the people that aren't w/ you on the issues that matter and moore and boyda (i guess?) are thinking they'll be progressive on the stuff they can get away with. i get the idea of picking ones battles, but at some point they're gonna have to fight to win one of the hard ones.

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