Archive for February 14th, 2008

And Now, The Good News…

Hey, some things actually went right today!

The House passed the measure to hold Josh Bolton and Harriet Miers in contempt, and they refused to modify their version of FISA to match the Bush-friendly Senate one. They also did a nice job of countering the Republicans’ fearmongering about how terrorists will blow us up the instant the Protect America Act expires by pointing out that the Republicans all voted against the 21-day extension of the Act that was supposedly keeping us all alive.

I guess it comes down to the House-Senate conference committee now to decide whether the final FISA bill will give the telecoms immunity. Which will probably depend on who gets selected for the committee. For what it’s worth, out of the 21 Bush Dog representatives who felt so strongly that they wrote a letter to Pelosi in support of the Senate version, only two of them (Boswell and Cramer) are on either the Judiciary or Intelligence committees, which I assume would be the pool of potential conference committee members. So that’s something, anyway.

(And, of course, the contempt vote would have been a lot more impressive if they hadn’t waited seven months to call it…)

February 14th, 2008 at 09:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism

My Comity. Let Me Show You It.

Feel the love…

Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart calls a vote for adjournment IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR TOM LANTOS. Now that’s what I call class.

Republicans walk off the House floor in protest of the Democrats voting to hold Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of congress instead of giving Dubya everything he wants on FISA. Such a bold and courageous stand against the tyranny of law and Constitution!

February 14th, 2008 at 09:01pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Superdelegates Followup

What is the practical purpose of the superdelegates, anyway? It appears that they are either a way to circumvent the will of the primary and caucus voters… or a way to reaffirm it, depending on whether the superdelegates vote according to political loyalties or their state/district’s primary results.

So if their only purpose is to either subvert or rubberstamp the primary outcome, why should they exist at all? If the party establishment decides to step in and override the results of a close election if they don’t like the winner, it will be a serious breach of faith with their voters and destroy the legitimacy of the nominee. Democratic turnout will suck, and downticket races will suffer. How is that a good thing?

Hopefully the party establishment is not so thick as to not grasp this (I’m sure Howard Dean gets it), and will encourage the superdelegates to do the right thing if neither candidate gets enough ordinary human delegates to clinch.

Hey, here’s a fun thought experiment: Imagine that the Electoral College includes 50 “Superelectors” who are not bound by their states’ electoral results, and not governed by any rules on how they should vote. Now imagine a close presidential election where the winner of the popular vote picks 250 regular electors, and his opponent only 238… but the opponent wins the Superelector vote 35-15, making him our next president. How do you think that would go over?

(Yes, I’m well aware that if the Republican candidate were the beneficiary, the media would praise the Superelectors for their courage and integrity, but I don’t think the rest of us would buy it.)

February 14th, 2008 at 07:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Politics

They Can Not Be Serious…

If this really is an accurate representation of the Clinton mindset, then I think I have to support Obama:

…Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary, said Clinton’s communications director, Howard Wolfson.

“I want to be clear about the fact that neither campaign is in a position to win this nomination without the support of the votes of the superdelegates,” Wolfson told reporters in a conference call.

“We don’t make distinctions between delegates chosen by million of voters in a primary and those chosen between tens of thousands in caucuses,” Wolfson said. “And we don’t make distinctions when it comes to elected officials” who vote as superdelegates at the convention.

“We are interested in acquiring delegates, period,” he added.

Clinton advisers rejected the notion that the candidate — and the party — would be badly wounded in the general election if the nominee were essentially selected by a group of party insiders.

“This is a nomination system that exists of caucuses, primaries, superdelegates and also the issue of voters in Florida and Michigan,” states whose delegates currently will not be seated at the convention because they broke party rules by moving up their primaries to January, said Mark Penn, senior strategist for the Clinton campaign. But “whoever the nominee is, the party will come together behind that nominee,” he said.

(…)

Clinton — who initially joined other Democrats in opposing Michigan and Florida’s decisions to go ahead with early primaries — now wants the votes of those primaries counted. The Obama camp thinks that idea is unfair, since candidates were not allowed to campaign in those states, and Clinton alone kept her name on the Michigan ballot, meaning Obama did not have a chance at getting even provisional delegates.

How does Hillary expect to have any legitimacy if she wins the nomination without a majority of the Democratic vote or pledged delegates? This approach would be particularly foul-smelling to the party that got burned by Bush v. Gore in 2000, and I think Democratic voters would stay home in droves, handing McCain the presidency and crippling Democratic efforts to gain ground in Congress.

The winner of the primaries should be the nominee. Period.

(h/t Group News Blog)

6 comments February 14th, 2008 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Clinton,Democrats,Elections,Politics,Wankers

The Only War We’re Winning

…Is the War On The Constitution:

If things proceed on the course now set by the Bush Administration and its shortsighted collaborators, and the national surveillance state is achieved in short order, then future generations looking back and tracing the destruction of the grand design of our Constitution may settle on yesterday, February 12, 2008, as the date of the decisive breach. It hardly got a mention in the media, obsessed as it was with reports on the primary elections, the use of drugs in sporting events, and that unfailing topic, the weather. Yesterday the Senate voted down the resolution offered by Senator Dodd to block retroactive immunity for the telecoms and it voted for a measure which guts the Constitution’s ban on warrantless searches by extending blanket authority to the Executive to snoop on the nation’s citizens in a wide variety of circumstances, subject to no independent checks. On the key vote, the Republicans in the Senate continued to function in lock-step, as they have on almost all significant issues for the last seven years, while the Democrats fragmented. Their vote summed up everything that’s wrong with Washington politics today. Fear and hard campaign cash rule the roost, and the Constitution is regarded as a meaningless scrap of parchment, indeed, a nuisance.

The issue in focus was a retroactive grant of immunity to telecommunications giants which violated the rights of millions of Americans by facilitating warrantless surveillance by the Bush Administration. With the exception of Qwest, they were knowingly complicit in criminal acts. And in a touch worthy of a totalitarian state, Qwest quickly found its CEO under criminal investigation and prosecuted. In fact the White House’s own arguments smack of the mentality of totalitarianism. Here’s the leading argument that the White House offers up in favor of the legislation:

“Companies should not be held responsible for verifying the government’s determination that requested assistance was necessary and lawful – and such an impossible requirement would hurt our ability to keep the Nation safe.”

But as Dan Froomkin notes at the Washington Post, “Isn’t that the very definition of a police state: that companies should do whatever the government asks, even if they know it’s illegal?” Indeed it is.

I don’t think Tuesday will go down in history as the turning point, but that’s only because telecom immunity isn’t a done deal yet. It still has to get through the House-Senate conference committee and then pass both houses of Congress. If that happens, that would go down in history as the moment when we turned our back on the Constitution. Either that or the day we re-elected Dubya as president.

(h/t Froomkin)

February 14th, 2008 at 07:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

Here’s A Question…

A revealing exchange from yesterday’s online chat with The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

Los Angeles: If — as Bush claims — the telecoms will shell out “billions of dollars,” won’t it be only because the courts have found that they are liable for illegal actions?

Dan Froomkin: That’s a very good point. It’s one thing to say they’ll be out some considerable legal costs — but presumably, they’d only be out billions if they lost. Thanks.

Kinda sounds like maybe Dubya knows the telecoms broke the law, doesn’t it?

2 comments February 14th, 2008 at 07:22am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Terrorism


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