That Americans might safely graze

February 13, 2008 by barbara

barbara says

Pop quiz:

Q: When is a Democrat not a Democrat?
A: When a Democrat is a United States Senator.

Yesterday, 18 Democratic senators slithered across the aisle (again) as the Senate voted 68 to 29 to bless and broaden the odious practice of spying on U.S. citizens. Making a list and checking it twice. Protecting America from the murderous infidels by illegally wiretapping communications. Illegal? Eh, pesky detail.

We all know it’s generally easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. The problem is that BushCo never asks for either. They do what they damn well please, because Congress has repeatedly ceded its Constitutional role as a co-equal third of the United States government. That arcane checks and balances thingie.

But wait. There’s more.

Over the past few years, multiple telecommunications companies have given BushCo their records and access to client information. Without judicial review. At the pleasure of the White House. AT&T, Verizon, Cingular, and Bell South, for starters.

Yesterday’s Senate legislation effectively tells the telecoms, “Hey, that’s okay. You were doing your patriotic duty!” It also gives them carte blanche to continue by granting them immunity for what they’re doing, i.e., invading individuals’ privacy. Sidestepping the judicial and legislative “co-equal” branches of the government. Which is SOP for BushCo.

The most recent Dem sell-outs (most of them repeaters): Bayh, Inouye, Johnson (South Dakota), Landrieu, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Stabenow, Feinstein, Kohl, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Carper, Mikulski, Conrad, Webb, and Lincoln. BTW, Obama voted against immunity. Hillary Clinton didn’t vote.

Okay, I do talk out of both sides of my angry mouth. I know I have been extremely critical of elected officials who vote in lockstep with BushCo. (Think Coleman and Kline, locally.) My criticism of Democrats is rooted in my belief that anything the Dems offer or oppose is bound to be an improvement over what the GOP throws at us. Far as I remember. It’s been a long time since Dems made a significant difference, 2006 promises notwithstanding.

Given that our “leadership” treats the people who elected them like so many ignorant lamblets, we are condemned to live in the valley of the shadow of the Senate.

I would remind you that a fundamental tenet of progressives is that we say we believe the people can be trusted with the truth. Frankly, I’m fed up and rising with the “well, you know, we couldn’t win it anyway, so we released some senators to vote in a way that will protect them when their names are on the ballot again” meme. Fah! That’s a convenient and manipulative dodge. Furthermore, it renders the slitherers enormously suspect. It says to me that there are Dems in the Senate who put personal ambition ahead of principle. Yeah, I know. Shocking.

So on the heels of their colossal capitulation yesterday, I got a broadcast email from “Give ‘em hell Harry” (Reid). It’s a yea, rah rah piece about ending torture. In principle, a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. In the hands of the Democrats in the Senate, who knows?

In a fit of pique, I penned a quick response to Reid, to wit:

Senator Reid:

For one full year, Democrats have waited eagerly for our newly elected Senators to represent us well and fully. To be our voice, speaking against the outrageous and egregious acts and actions, failures to act, lies and abominations perpetrated on the United States and the global community by the George W. Bush administration.

As recently as today, the Senate failed again. Failed to herd its sheep in opposition to the FISA action that effectively lets telecoms off the hook for their illegal and immoral cave-in to the George W. Bush administration.

Sir, with all due respect, I am fed up and rising with generally wishy-washy waffling and caving of the United States Senate. I am perilously close to being ashamed to be a Democrat. I sure as hell can’t be a Republican. So that doesn’t leave many options, does it?

The main thing that separates progressives from elephants is that progressives trust the people with the truth. Progressives believe in transparency. Progressives believe in making progress. Measurable progress. Progressives believe in accountability. Ergo, progressive elected officials are accountable to the people who elected them.

There appears to be a paucity of genuine, stiff spines in the Democratic Congress. Now you may argue that is not so. I am simply telling you how it looks and feels out here in voter land. That old “perception is reality” thing. And in the absence of transparency, the perception is not positive. Not at all.

I believe it is time for Democratic Senators to start leveling with their/your constituents. To explain to us why there is such a massive pile-up of legislative failures (i.e., that which goes George W. Bush’s way). Why? Because that’s what we elected you to do. Because I’m not the only one who’s fed up and rising. Because the failures put House and Senate majorities at risk, and threaten to undermine the effort to replace George W. Bush with a Democrat.

Show us spine. Show us legislative victories. Show us something. Please.

I wish that made me feel better. It doesn’t. Reid won’t see it. And I will get a canned response, patting me on my pretty little lamblet head and telling me to leave it in their capable hands.

Have been. Not working very well.

George Lakoff says this: “America needs to renew its moral vision.” That’s not just a slogan. It’s a mandate. Anyone in Congress listening? Just askin'.

Posted in


leftymn (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 11:56am

the 22% approval rating of Congress is directly related to the frustration of voters who voted for Dems to change things and now cannot. Brilliant tactics by McConnell , similar to the same ones employed by Daschle when he was minority leader are frustrating progress. The only thing that will change it is a majority that can overcome the 60 needed to dump filibuster. Part of this can be solved by electing a Democratic President, and then electing new leadership in the House and the Senate.


barbara says (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 1:36pm

Hey, Lefty! I totally agree with you. Well, maybe not totally. Because if faux Democrats are going to defect to the right as they have been doing, we need a super-duper majority to mitigate against that. Seems as though this fractious bunch can't be herded together (as noted by none other than their esteemed leader, Harry Reid), even when it matters most. So just when we think things are looking up, we need more and more and more to make this work. Crikey!!


Anonymous (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 2:58pm

Maybe it shows that when you get into a position of leadership you have to do something called " lead ".

The ass they save may be yours.

Or maybe you would like to go back to the "connect the dots" days?

Come to think of it, there is more than a good chance that is coming regardless.

Be careful what you wish for.


susan | February 13, 2008 - 4:53pm

Whoo-ooo, very Rumsfeldian Delphic murmurings, Anon. Do keep us posted.

As for Barb and Leftymn, yep, total agreement on the baa-baa sheep thing. How'd our own AK vote? I don't see her on the list.


Anonymous (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 5:20pm

As per the NYTimes today, the Changemeister did NOT vote on this bill. Nor did Hillary Clinton. Taking a page from the Changemeister, as on the Iraq vote, she stated that she "would have voted against" had she been there.


leftymn (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 5:30pm

our Amy voted with Feingold and those that prefer the Constitution to fear and what essentially is the definition of a police state, i.e. companies should be immune to prosecution for saying yes to executive fiat that is against the statutory law.. I was under the impression the only non voter was Clinton who was in Texas, and that Obama did show up to vote? But I didnt review the record.


barbara says (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 5:56pm

Though it is painful to have to tell Anon it is wrong, Obama voted in favor of the Constitution and therefore, as usual in cases that encompass moral judgment and integrity, against BushCo.


leftymn (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 6:04pm

Anon is partially right, Obama voted on some of the amendments but did not vote on the final bill. Clinton was having tamales in Texas somewhere I guess.


barbara says (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 6:07pm

Oh, crap. So now I have to (partially) apologize to Anon. Hey, Anon. I'm (partially) sorry. Somewhat.


Anonymous 1 (not verified) | February 13, 2008 - 8:16pm

So; you have a dysfunctional Senate led by Mr Reid, and an equally dysfunctional House run by Ms Pelosi.

To that , you would like to add the Executive branch and yet hope the country will remain safe on a daily basis.

Do you feel lucky?

Be careful what you wish for.

Will keep you posted.


Anonymous (not verified) | February 14, 2008 - 9:30am

Okay, if it's fair to say she was "having tamales in Texas" then is it fair to say he was having, what, grits, ? in Texas? Because they were both in Texas; his vote for "certain parts" of the bill took place last October, I believe.
And by the "grits" reference, I don't mean to allude to his race, but to the black voters he needs to keep in his camp. Like her tamale voters. (I can't stand the lopsided treatment of HC)


leftymn (not verified) | February 14, 2008 - 1:02pm

Obama was in Madison Wisconsin on that day as my daughter went and saw him speak. He then was in Milwaukee area and Janesville on Feb 13 accdg to press reports

As to his eating habits, I don't think he is eating "grits", based on the recent exit polling I would say he has a very well balanced diet.

it is no secret HC needs to hold the Hispanic vote, but actually anon, I wasnt trying to make a coded statement, some type of texmex food just popped into my head, maybe she was having brisket and Dr Pepper...


John (not verified) | February 15, 2008 - 6:26am

I don't think they get it. If you are a incumbent you need to pay attention to this one. Way back when Ventura got elected it was because the voters revolted against the son of Mondale, & the son of Humphrey literally. A vote for Ventura was essentially a protest vote. Now a vote for Obama is essentially a vote against the spouse of Clinton literally. What we are really saying out here is do your job or you will be irrelevant soon. The 8 term congressman from Maryland that just got tossed out on his butt is just the beginning. Eight terms, can you imagine? The voters finally said you are not a solution you are the problem. I think we need to massively make it clear to our leaders just how sick of all this nonsense we are.


dk - nyc (not verified) | February 15, 2008 - 7:43am

I don't think YOU get it John, Barack Obama is no "outsider". He matches Clinton to a tee in shrewd Washington politicking.
Why does the myth of the "fresh new outsider" appeal? Legislating in Washington is a job, and like any other job, experience should be considered a good thing. Would you hire a "fresh new voice" for your lawyer, or a likeable face for your dentist?
And if things are a mess in Washington, maybe, just maybe, it's because we the people insist on new faces, stars, and likeableness. And when these folks get to Washington, or into state houses, they discover, like our WH inhabitant, that, gosh, "it's hard work".
By the way, most of our legislators DO work hard. Jesse Ventura soon discovered that the hard work of governing wasn't for him. Nuff said.
And p.s. That eight term incumbent would've been just dandy by me. Look what LBJ was able to accomplish, versus, say, JFK. Or Carter.


leftymn (not verified) | February 15, 2008 - 9:25am

Disclosure: I am for Obama.

I think the LBJ accomplishment issue is specious. Going back to the brouhaha in S.Carolina, arguing as to MLK or LBJ ability to produce change is meaningless, neither one could have done it without the other.

the reason it passed was strictly timing... the nation had only recently rejected Goldwater's GOP, and was at an apex of confidence and I believe had JFK lived he would have made the same progress.

I quote from David Kaiser's book "American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson , and the Origins of the Vietnam War" to cite why 1965 was a pivotal year: "Johnson had 65% approval rating. The Gemini program, the next step on the way to the moon, had just completed a spectacular mission, including the space walk. The economy had been steadily expanding for four years and five months....One U.S. dollar bought four Deutschmarks and 360 Japanese yen. The Interstate Highway system was well on its way to completion. "The Sound of Music" was the most popular movie of the year. America's colleges-with the sole exception of the University of California at Berkeley-were filled with well-dressed, industrious and obedient undergraduates, an in June, in a cover story on the Palisades California high school class of 1965, Time magazine announced that American youth seemed on the verge of a new golden age. No one know that a whole era of American history was over. "

What followed 1965 was riots, assinations, escalation of Vietnam, the rupturing of the Democratic party and the crafting of the GOP Southern Strategy which effectively is the era of discord we are still living in.

We just had 8 years of disaster with a President who brought in a fabled group with experience. If experience is the be all and end all to get my vote, good luck.


barbara says (not verified) | February 15, 2008 - 11:22am

We just had 8 years of disaster with a President who brought in a fabled group with experience. If experience is the be all and end all to get my vote, good luck.

Well, amen to that, brother!!