24 House Democratic Sell-Outs
Almost lost in the votes cast by the House and Senate over the weekend to whitewash the NSA domestic data mining program against everyday Americans were the votes by House and Senate Democrats in favor of handing Alberto Gonzales the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance here at home. Who were the 16 Senate Democrats who voted for Bush’s NSA whitewash in a 60-28 vote? And they weren't voting out of fear that this would be used against them in 2008. Check out how many of the Democratic senators aren’t even on the ballot next year; have been critical of Alberto Gonzales; and yet still handed him unparalleled authority to data mine information on everyday Americans. (Yes Peter, for once I agree with you: what the hell are Mikulski and Feinstein doing on this list?)
For context, those in bold also voted in favor of the 2005 bankruptcy bill. Don't gag at the sight that ten of the 16 already sold out everyday Americans two years ago, and for all we know, some of last year's batch would have done so themselves.
Evan Bayh (Indiana-2010)
Tom Carper (Delaware-2012)
Bob Casey (Pennsylvania-2012)
Kent Conrad (North Dakota-2012)
Dianne Feinstein (California-2012)
Daniel Inouye (Hawaii-2010)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota-2012)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana-2008)
Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas-2010)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri-2012)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland-2010)
Bill Nelson (Florida-2012)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska-2012)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas-2008)
Ken Salazar (Colorado-2010)
Jim Webb (Virginia-2012)
As for the House Democrats, I can somewhat excuse red or purple-district House Democrats elected last year for being buffaloed into voting for the NSA whitewash bill. But 24 of these 41 House Democrats also voted for the abhorrent 2005 bankruptcy bill (in bold). And as Meteor Blades at DailyKos noted Saturday night, a large number of these "Democrats" are Blue Dog Democrats, who have as Cenk Uygur noted earlier questionable priorities and judgment. To this crowd, corporate power and campaign contributions win out over the public interest, personal freedoms, and the Constitution each and every day.
If Pelosi has 24 members of her caucus that are willing to piss on the Constitution and screw working Americans to benefit banks and data collection companies, we shouldn't expect her to be able to stop this war.
Update: There's something going on here that needs to be fleshed out more, but my comments about the Blue Dogs' willingness to sell out everyday Americans for corporate checkwriters, whether it be for the banks two years ago or for telecoms and data collection firms now was based on this part of the NYT story over the weekend:
The law also gave the administration greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with such spying operations. The companies can now be compelled to cooperate by orders from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.
Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that some telecommunications company officials had told Congressional leaders that they were unhappy with that provision in the bill and might challenge the new law in court. The aides said the telecommunications companies had told lawmakers that they would rather have a court-approved warrant ordering them to comply.
In fact, pressure from the telecommunications companies on the Bush administration has apparently played a major hidden role in the political battle over the surveillance issue over the past few months.
In January, the administration placed the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and subjected it for the first time to the scrutiny of the FISA court.
Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that they believed that pressure from major telecommunications companies on the White House was a major factor in persuading the Bush administration to do that. Those companies were facing major lawsuits for having secretly cooperated with the warrantless wiretapping program, and now wanted greater legal protections before cooperating further.
But the change suddenly swamped the court with an enormous volume of search warrant applications, leading, in turn, to the administration’s decision to seek the new legislation.
So let's play along here. Bush pushes the issue to the FISA court in January, which is where the telecoms wanted it. But the court becomes flooded as a result, and as expected Bush then wants it yanked back out from under the FISA court and back to the executive branch, now against the wishes of the telecoms because they wanted some judicial clarity to deal with their own lawsuits. So the telecoms tell the Democrats they may now sue to challenge the matter in court and to finally get the judicial clarity they have wanted for several years.
And knowing that, the Blue Dog Democrats still voted for this bill. But it gives them the chance to shake down the telecoms for more campaign cash when the next shoe drops, which it does today when . . . Bush tells Congress that aside from what Pelosi wants to narrow this bill, he now wants in essence blanket immunity for the telecoms.
You can see a scenario whereby the telecoms file their lawsuit threatening to undo Bush's victory, seeking court decisions that Bush is afraid of, but quite willing to withdraw that suit if they get the blanket immunity from Congress. The Blue Dogs get their campaign cash no matter what; two years ago it was from the banks and now it is from the telecoms and data collectors. And the Blue Dogs can hide behind the war on terror while they are doing it.
The interesting question is what the privacy rights groups do while this unfolds. At some point, before the telecoms withdraw their lawsuit if they get the immunity they seek, wouldn't it be clever for the ACLU and EFF groups to join the lawsuit to finally force this strict constructionist Supreme Court to choose between unbridled executive power and the Constitution they claim to fervently respect as it was written?