Putting His Foot Down
So here's Greenwald with the latest on the FISA kabuki, and this time it's so clunky and obvious it's more like a bunch of drunk college kids singing karaoke on platform shoes:
Harry Reid -- who has (a) done more than any other individual to ensure that Bush's demands for telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping powers will be met in full and (b) allowed the Republicans all year to block virtually every bill without having to bother to actually filibuster -- went to the Senate floor yesterday and, with the scripted assistance of Mitch McConnell and Pat Leahy, warned Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and others that they would be selfishly wreaking havoc on the schedules of their fellow Senators (making them work over the weekend, ruining their planned "retreat," and even preventing them from going to Davos!) if they bothered everyone with their annoying, pointless little filibuster.
To do so, Reid announced that, unlike for the multiple filibusters from Republican colleagues, he would actually force Dodd and company to engage in a real filibuster. This is what Reid said:
[I]f people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.That is what Democrats have been urging Reid to do to the filibustering Republicans all year -- in order to dramatize their obstructionism -- but he has refused to make them actually filibuster anything, generously agreeing instead that every bill requires 60 votes. Instead, he reserves such punishment only for the members of his own caucus trying to take a stand for the rule of law and the Constitution, those who are trying finally to bring some accountability to this administration.
Just to make that clear, here's a little reminder of all the filibusters the Democrats have not forced their new pals in bipartisan comity to actually do:
Read all of Glenn's post. He features the patronizing and demeaning little script that Reid, his counterpart the unctuous drip Mitch McConnell and Pat Leahy (!) came up with to announce their bipartisan agreement to force Democrat Chris Dodd to do what Republicans only have to pretend to do.
The next president of the United States is very likely to be one of two sitting senators who are, at the moment, the two most powerful people in the Democratic Party. Either one of them could bring their star power and future institutional clout to bear on this debate if they wanted to. Will they? I don't know. Maybe all you supporters out there should stop arguing amongst yourselves about trivia for a couple of minutes and ask them. You can go here to send a message. (And if you happen to be at a town hall meeting or a speech somewhere, how about holding up a sign or asking your guy or gal about this?)
Glenn updates his post with this, for those of you who may have forgotten what a constitutional atrocity this bill is:
For an excellent summary of just how radical and invasive these new warrantless eavesdopping powers are that Senate Democrats are about to enact, see this comment here, complete with citations. And that's separate and apart from the fact that telecom immunity will, in effect, end any prospect of accountability for Bush officials and telecoms who deliberately violated our laws for years in how they spied on us, and, by squelching these lawsuits, will block off the sole remaining avenue even for finding out what they actually did. It will take years, probably decades, for us to learn the real story -- once there's some Church-type Commission again or the relevant documents are declassified.
We have three of the nation's top lawyers as the front runners in the Democratic Party primary. One of them is a constitutional scholar, another has been treated to abuses by the long arm of the government in her own political life. The third has based his entire campaign on the fight for the common man against the powerful interests.
It's unfathomable that if they all believe that this bill should not pass, that they cannot exert enough power over their own party at this moment of high drama to put a stop to it. The only thing that will happen is that the FISA law that we have been living under from 1978 through August 2007 will remain on the books unchanged. That's it. If these three can't figure out a way to explain that to the people, how in the hell are they going to be able to do it once they are president? They'll be at the mercy of these same Republicans for their entire term.
Republicans don't need a majority as long as they have an opposition that is afraid of their own shadows.
Update: D-Day has more bipartisan kumbaaya from the House today on the Bolton and Miers subpoenas over at his blog. Apparently our 28%, lame duck president is holding the stimulus package hostage. Unless the congress agrees to end all thus unpleasantness about looking into executive abuses, lawbreaking and constitutional abuses, the economy gets it. They really are like the mafia.
Update II: Here's Emptywheel with the most absurd moment of the day: Dick Cheney appealing for bipartisanship.