lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 9 08:47:25 MDT 2007
Dbachmozart at aol.com wrote:
> (http://www.ajc.com/shared-blogs/ajc/luckovich/luckovich0808.jpg) >
Speaking of which:
NY Times, August 9, 2007
The Blogs Are Alive With the Sound of Angry Democrats
By CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 — Progressive and liberal groups and left-leaning
blogs are furious, tossing around fighting words like “spineless,”
“craven” and “weak.”
So much for the hopes of Democratic leaders that they could avoid a
withering political attack by clearing the way for Congress to approve
an expansion of the Bush administration’s terrorist surveillance program
before the August recess.
“Democratic leaders in Congress didn’t put up much of a fight and they
didn’t stand up and say ‘no’ to Bush,” said an e-mail message that
political operatives for the group MoveOn sent Tuesday to the
organization’s members, urging them to sign an online petition calling
on Congress to reverse the new law.
Activist groups were somewhat forgiving earlier this year when Democrats
backed down in a fight with President Bush over war spending, but the
concession on changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act seems
to have touched a nerve.
From the perspective of liberal critics, Democrats again let themselves
be hoodwinked into handing Mr. Bush substantial new power on the basis
of White House warnings of an imminent threat. And they did so when Mr.
Bush’s poll numbers are low.
“Ultimately, it was the Democratic leadership on the Hill that rolled
over to this demand,” said Caroline Fredrickson, a top lobbyist for the
American Civil Liberties Union. “Instead of standing strong and standing
on principle, they panicked and gave the administration not only what it
has been asking for, but more.”
Democratic officials in the House and the Senate say they understand the
dismay that greeted the measure’s passage and point out that most
Democrats opposed the bill, including the four senators seeking the
party’s presidential nomination. But they say that given classified
security briefings and the approach of the recess, Democrats had little
“Everyone who heard the briefings from the administration agreed that
the intelligence community did not have what it needed,” said Jim
Manley, a spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority
leader. “Both Democrats and Republicans alike agreed that going home
without addressing this issue was not an option.”
And once the Senate left town after approving the Republican proposal
making it possible to institute wiretaps without warrants, House members
found themselves in the position of either acting or being the last
roadblock to the changes sought by the White House.
“We agreed with the administration that there was a problem with FISA
that needed to be fixed,” said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Speaker
Nancy Pelosi of California. “We thought we had a bill that protected
civil liberties and addressed their problems, but it did not have the
votes on its own.”
Still, many House Democrats argued Saturday both in private party
meetings and again on the floor that Democrats should either prevent a
vote on the Republican proposal or join together to defeat it no matter
the political cost. They believed the measure went too far in handing
surveillance power to the administration, particularly Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzales, without sufficient judicial review.
“We should have stood our ground,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler,
Democrat of New York. “We had a bill that did everything they said was
necessary for national security. I think we could defend that.”
Progressive bloggers agreed. “Cowards,” said the headline on a post
Tuesday on the Daily Kos Web site, which listed the 41 House Democrats
and 16 Senate Democrats who sided with the White House and Republicans.
As they dealt with the political fallout, Democrats noted that
Congressional aides were already drafting a revision of the bill, which
expires in six months. But they also acknowledged that reaching
agreement on changes would not be easy.
The A.C.L.U. wants to make sure that Congress and the country have all
the information they need for the renewed debate. On Wednesday, the
group filed an unusual request with the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court, which operates in near-total secrecy, asking it to
make public its recent opinions on the scope of the government’s ability
to wiretap Americans.
The executive director of the A.C.L.U., Anthony D. Romero, said, “Unless
the FISA court discloses the documents leading up to the recent law and
shedding light on the government’s claimed surveillance authority, an
informed and meaningful debate — the cornerstone of our democracy —
Democrats and political analysts said they expected the long-term
political consequences of last week’s votes to be minimal because most
of those who are irate would not be inclined to back Republicans.
“At the end of the day, how many choices do they have?” asked Stuart
Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst, about liberal voters. “How
many Democratic primaries are going to be determined by this? Base
voters have a way of complaining, being angry, of holding their breath
until they turn blue. But I don’t see it as having any real consequence.”
Others say frustration with the party over issues like the surveillance
vote is at the heart of the dismal poll ratings for Congress.
Some are already talking about primary challenges for Democrats whom
they consider enablers of Mr. Bush, like moderate Blue Dogs who formed
the core of Democratic support for the eavesdropping proposal in the
House. On the Web site Open Left, the blogger Matt Stoller accused the
Blue Dogs of one of their “standard betrayals.”
“The upside,” Mr. Stoller wrote, “is that organizing is beginning
already around fixing the FISA legislation, and a campaign to destroy
the brand of the Blue Dogs is not far away.”
Eric Lichtblau contributed reporting.
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