Monday, March 13, 2006

"Democrats Distance Themselves From Censure Motion."

Updated below

Jesus H. Jehosaphat, what sissies our leaders are.

From the A.P., via CBS:

Democrats distanced themselves Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold's effort to censure President Bush over domestic spying.

The White House hit back at the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney telling a fundraiser in Feingold's home state that the resolution was an "outrageous proposition."

As the crowd in De Pere, Wis., booed Feingold's effort, Cheney said, "Don't hold back."

Feingold's fellow Democrats did just that Monday, with several saying they wanted first to see the Senate Intelligence Committee finish an investigation of the warrantless wiretapping program that Bush authorized as part of his war on terrorism.

Asked at a news conference whether he would vote for the censure resolution, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada declined to endorse it and said he hadn't read it.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said he had not read it either and wasn't inclined simply to scold the president.

"I'd prefer to see us solve the problem," Lieberman told reporters.

Across the Capitol, reaction was similar. Feingold's resolution drew empathy but no outright support from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. ***

Cheney dared other Democrats to support Feingold's resolution.

"The outrageous proposition that we ought to protect our enemies' ability to communicate as it plots against America poses a key test of our Democratic leaders," he said. "Do they support the extreme and counterproductive antics of a few or do they support a lawful program vital to the security of this nation?

"The American people already made their decision," Cheney added. "They agree with the president."

Democratic Senators "wanted first to see the Senate Intelligence Committee finish an investigation of the warrantless wiretapping program"?!? What newspapers have they been reading? There WILL BE NO Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the program -- that's the point!

The American people, no matter what lies Cheney tells, do not support the NSA program without warrants. The majority think even the President must operate within the law, even when surveilling terrorists. They just want someone, anyone, in power to stand up and say so, and they will rally overwhelmingly to that person. But that person in nowhere to be found in our Congressional leadership.

Triangulate, tremble, triangulate, tremble. This should have been a 100%-Democrat-supported resolution. The American people would have applauded. Instead, we've given our lunch money to the bullies once again, hoping to appease them so they won't ask for it again tomorrow.

It's time for a change at the top, and I'm not talking about the White House (yet). Reid needs to step aside and let Barbara Boxer take over as House Minority Leader. And Pelosi? I used to like Pelosi, but if she can't even find the backbone to support a mere censure, for God's sake, then we need to find someone who does.

UPDATE, 2:53 PM PT: A staffer in Harry Reid's office just told me he was unaware of any statement by Senator Reid, and that he doubted the truth of any reports that the Senate Minority Leader was not supporting Feingold's resolution.

Let's hope he's right. Sen. Reid likes the "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" moniker, but he needs to earn it. His recent history has been far from firebreathing -- among other things, he failed to call for party discipline on the Alito votes, and he never followed up meaningfully on his brief effort to resurrent Phase II of the Iraq Intelligence hearings. We need a true opposition party, led by a firebrand. Let's see whether Senator Reid is it.

UPDATE, 3:25 PM PT: Jane Hamsher at firedoglake reports that while Frist tried to hold a vote on the censure motion tonight, before Feingold could muster support for it, Feingold managed to delay the vote until the day after tomorrow. That means we still have time to lean, HARD, on every Democratic senator. I will post contact information, and real-time position reports, as soon as I am able. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON. Everything you need to know here.

UPDATE, 5:53 PM PT: Positive news: Pow Wow at firedoglake reports in a comment that Reid told Ed Schultz today he WOULD support Feingold's resolution. It sounds like it's still secondhand news, but if true, it's great and will make me eat many of my words. I'll confirm with Reid's office first thing tomorrow and report back here. Also, the story of how Dems defeated Frist's effort to hold an early vote on the censure resolution can be found here.

UPDATE, 7:01 PM PT: File this under the "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" heading: from a conservative website that I don't want to send hits to:

It’s tough being a lefty. The poor bastards who spent all day “calling their Senators” over at “Fire Dog Lake” must be almost apoplectic at the ineffectuality of the move. Not only is the there a horrible “air escaping from a balloon” sound coming from the direction of Washington, the media’s barely covering this silliness.... See? The Democrats feel your pain - they just don’t want to actually put their votes behind it. Next time, FireDogLakers, don’t call ‘em. Fedex them some Viagra instead.

Two responses: (a) He's right; our representatives need moral Viagra or something like it. (b) We're in this for the long haul. Read this crud, get angry, make more phone calls tomorrow. Donate to Lamont. Keep working.

UPDATE, TUES. MARCH 15, 7:12 AM PT: Maybe the problem is a lack of Internets savvy: we bloggers, unlike either our senators or the MSM, know a concern troll when we see one. The WaPo: Republicans pounced, practically daring Democrats to vote for the measure. "The big question now," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), "is how many of his Democrat colleagues will follow him over the cliff?" Aw... he's concerned for us. A concern Republican, the cutest, cuddliest kind of them all.

Feingold, however, gets it: Feingold, a member of the intelligence and Judiciary committees, disputed Bush's assertion that a president's inherent constitutional powers trump FISA's restrictions. Feingold also rejected arguments that he may hurt fellow Democrats, telling reporters that Republicans are "nervous as cats" about having greater scrutiny of the spying policy. He said thousands of Americans have called or e-mailed his office to protest Bush's actions, with some calling for the president's impeachment.

And the party's strategists miss the point altogether, still believing that our call for censure or impeachment of Bush is based on a desire for retribution for Clinton's impeachment: Several Democratic strategists said surveillance issues are not Bush's most vulnerable spot, and they fear the party may appear extremist. "It is more likely that a big censure fight would have the effect of rallying folks to his side," said one Democratic strategist and former Clinton aide. "While some in the Democratic base want retribution for what happened to Clinton," the adviser said, "I think there is a larger reluctance to try to remove people from office." WTF? How Beltway-blind can someone get?

Please, please, please, politicians, get this message: Bush lied us into war. He considers himself above the law. He's spying on us without warrants. We need a Congress that, as Madison wanted, "jealously" reins him in and protects its own powers. And Bill Clinton, whose Presidency is now the most ancient of history (Bush having undone everything good about it), is not relevant to this discussion. This is about Bush. (And it's about censure, not about "trying to remove people from office." That's sort of the brilliance of Feingold's resolution; what's so hard to understand about that?)

Elsewhere, columnist/blogger Chris Cillizza reports that Frist already is using his blog to campaign on Feingold's resolution, and also puts the "establishment Dem" cowardice into a nutshell: some establishment Democrats have reined in their rhetoric on the eavesdropping program -- arguing privately that most Americans see the issue as a national security question and, as a result, are more likely to side with the president. Of course, polls show that most Americans see the program as BOTH a national security issue AND a privacy issue, and want the President to operate within the law -- but our leaders are such bad politicians that even when they see a parade they can't recognize it and wander around, looking for a ready-made movement to lead. (Hint, guys? People FOLLOW true leaders, and true leaders PERSUADE people?)

The letter-to-editor campaign supporting Feingold's motion remains in effect here. (If nothing else, we'll have another test of which senators are patriots and which are cowardly enablers -- info we'll use in rallying foot soldiers in November.) Ongoing updates on each senator's position will be posted right here (bookmark it here). Keep tapping away at the edifice, and eventually it will fall.



zennurse said...

I hope there are no comments here because everyone is busy calling thier senators. I have spoken to mine, left a message for Frist while he was on the floor trying to force a vote 1 hour after Feingold introduced the resolution and left Feingold a message in his Milwaukee office (closed) thanking him for his heroic effort and asking him to run for president. If you haven't done anything yet, you can reach your senator on

lucretia said...

We have the Democratic firebrand and that's Howard Dean. I thought you stated the difference earlier on between Dean and the Vichy Dems who are the Hill Dems who are the DLC/DCCC/DSCC. Unfortunately for Pelosi and Reid they speak for this group,so I think that's why they don't speak. Everyone is kind of rudderless without a leader. Of course,Bill Clinton reached out and took over all of this back when he ran the first time. No problem for him but he's exceptional that way. Dean is the same way but he doesn't have the same philosophy that they do.

Buck-Fush said...

I don't look for much support on this...they enjoy running around with their pants down getting ganged raped by BushCo....

Anonymous said...

We have the Democratic firebrand and that's Howard Dean.

I agree, but I worry that he's neutered himself somewhat by taking the DNC post. I'd love it if he were gearing up for another run in 2008 and making loud growling noises in the wings, making all the sissified suits in the Senate look like the wimps they are. As DNC chair, he has to play nice when it comes to members of his own party. I keep hoping he'll suddenly unveil a grand strategy...

Paida said...

I listened to most of Ed Schultz's interview and he really did not say that he was going to support Feingold. He was a very measured and f#$%ing annoying Reid today. Below is NOT a transcript I did the best I could- but it is not perfect:

Reid:"We will refer this to a major committee, have some hearings and then it will come to the Senate floor..... it is keeping with Russ he is on the cutting edge"

Schultz "Senator what is the down side of you going to every Dem Senator and telling them to vote for this?....- every single person emailing and calling has been for this- they want this"

Reid "I think we need to do this in a orderly fashion WE DON'T NEED TO RUSH THINGS we need to investigate.

Schultz: "So this may open an door"

Reid: "Not may it will open an opportunity"

I mean what does that mean?

Go to and click on "Audio Highlights" if you want to here the

Via said...

We need to harness the anger and outrage that the DPW deal kindled. The message is simply not getting out to the average, American Idol watching public. We need Feingold, Dean and Gore to get together, frame this issue and relentlessly pound it home over MSM television: The president broke the law and will not allow a proper investigation. He claims he has the power to ignore the laws of the United States, which he does not. We are not under martial law. We are a nation of laws and he must be held accountable, as any one of us would be.

The problem is, it doesn't scare anyone the way the vision of a nuke in a shipping container does. The Repubs have mastered the lessons of Terror Management Theory. The trouble is, the concentration of power in the executive branch is even more dangerous and frightening and has much longer reaching consequences. Dean, Feingold and Gore must talk to Glenn Greenwald and Therstites and Jeffrey Feldman and frame this issue. Then get the damn message out! We all must keep the phone lines hot, but that is not going to be enough. Especially after the outpouring of anger and outrage over the DPW deal, it will take that level of emotional calling to register with our congress.

Ellie Finlay said...

My senators are Coburn and Inhofe. So you see, it's hopeless. (Living in this very red state is definitely a challenge, to say the least.)

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lucretia said...

Re. Thersite2 response on Howard Dean as firebrand for Democrats: He's not neutered as DNC Chair. Note after he got sabotaged in Iowa by both Demos and Repubs (basically this is the Corps/Oligarchs), what smarter and harder thing could he have done than run for DNC Chair not supported by either Pelosi or Reid? Using that base to save the party as a regular Democrat party against the DLC. Without Dean we would have no defense against the Liebermens, Clintons, etc.

I have to say I'm not 100% sure of Feingold either because he also needs the Corps money which will tie him to them on issues.

BACK TO DEAN: He speaks out a lot on the Mainstream TV when he is guest. And he talks big when speaking otherwse. Go to webiste and read the talks. I've downloaded several of them and they're great. I last saw him in an interview with Wolf Blitzass (CNN) and Wolf couldn't trap him though he tried!

Most important though he's building up the party for the future, which will save this country. Remember you talked about the 'shortcut'? Well the shortcut will give us if they can win, which I don't think they can,Hillary or Kerry. Sure we say better than the Nazis we have now, but how much different, that's the question?

I do want HOWARD DEAN FOR PRESIDENT. As DNC Chair, he's supposed to complete his four-year term which precludes that. But I think he would run anyway if the political/public support was there. It's my dearest hope.