How the Battle was Lost

One thing Progressives have constantly been up in arms about since we helped the Democrats win back Congress in 2006 is the FISA fight. Many of us think that this bill was completely unneccesary, and that it was a bad idea. It wasn't that we needed new, broad ranging powers for the Federal Government to keep us safe, we just needed a competent administration in place to use laws already in place to protect us. That is what failed us on that terrible day of 9-11-01.

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*UPDATE x2* Steny Hoyer's "Bad Date" FISA legislation

When I heard that FISA was back, and this time at the behest of our own side, I determined that I wouldn't get complacent... that's what this is all about:  If they keep bringing it up, and we stop caring, the Bush Administration and the complicit telecoms will get away with spying on us and abridging our rights.  

This is not good bipartisanship, this is the bipartisanship of a bad date: they walk out on you, and you get to pay the bill.

Glenn Greenwald has some analysis on the issue here: 008/06/19/telecom/

It's even worse than expected. When you read it, it's actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and legalized George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program with the "Protect America Act," so it shouldn't be hard to believe at all. Seeing the words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is.

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IL-14: The Losing Strategy

What happens in Podunk shouldn't stay there.  Or at least if it does, the Democratic Party Establishment, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, the Blue Dogs among us, will have won one more unrecorded battle against those of us who want real change.

What's happening most immediately in the IL-14 corner of Podunk (a term I use here to describe anything not directly inside the DC Beltway) is a primary and a special primary on Tuesday, between the DC insider "pick" for our district, an attorney who is a relative newcomer to both politics and our area, and John Laesch, the nominee against Denny Hastert last time out, and the only progressive in the race.

At this point, I'd call it a significant bellwether for the upcoming Congressional elections that virtually no one outside of IL-14 is paying much attention to in the glare of the presidential race, as well as a bellwether event in the battle for control of the party.  So while I don't expect this diary to get much attention, I want to leave a record of what has happened in this primary.  Bellwethers, however unobserved at the time, sometimes have a way of becoming useful history for those who follow.  

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New Insight on Attacking Iran

It always pays to go argue with people, to exit the city and hang out in towns where Republicans tend to breed.  In a cafe in Manchester, NH, a friend uncovered the mindset of the poor dupes who want us to attack Iran.  She was wearing her impeach Bush-Cheney sticker when a few young males started in on her, which is interesting because she being about 5'3" always seems to draw fire of this sort, whereas I wear my sticker everywhere but, benching 300, guys seem to hold their tongues, and I am actually looking for these "loud discussions" whereas she is not.  Lesson number one: the Brownshirt mentality is cowardly.  I can't count the number of times women who wear impeachment stickers tell me they get it constantly, and here I am lonely and no one wants to talk about what I want to talk about, except beefy union-looking dudes who walk over with their hands outstretched saying F-ing A!  Impeach!

Cutting to the chase, these people have bought the Amadinajed-as-Hitler line hook-line-and-sinker.  Friend reports that the most heated arguer was "invoking the death camps in Germany & a friend of his telling me that if I didn't want a war with Iran, I was spitting on his grandmother's grave."

I wonder if Amadinajed knows how perfectly his remarks on Israel, meant to bolster his standing among Middle East hardliners, have played into Bush's set-up of Iran as the new Nazi Germany?  This is a guy who gets booed at his own Iranian University.  His support in Iran is zilch.

This is a valuable insight.  If the Iranians were smart they would dump him, for stupidity.  No one says they can't stand up to the United States, but a good politician should have a clue about how different people think and know how to weigh their words, a skill neither Bush nor Amadinajed have.  We're following two idiots over a cliff.  This was an impassioned argument in that cafe.  No sneers about turning the Middle East into a parking lot or to hell with them all.  These guys really, truly believed this Hitler shit.  I feel sorry for them, and think I understand now.

If Bush bombs Iran, it will be based on a false flag attack against us.  He will eventually be impeached or run out of office, because the retaliatory terror attacks right here are guaranteed. Iran is no Iraq.  I would just prefer to avoid the round of civilian casualties, domestic attacks, martial law, social unrest, Americans fighting Americans, and eventual restoration of the republic that we will have to go through, and all the attendant grieving, because of the media's decision to go along with Bush's set-up uncritically.  It would be beyond what our national soul could bear, to bomb Iran after what we did to them in 1953.

Can we save ourselves all this grief and just impeach them now?  

Chart with contact links to the major campaign contributors of all members of the House Judiciary Committee, where the impeachment of Cheney is now bottled up.  Beg, please not another dime until they do their duty to impeach.

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McWane, Representative Davis? Who's McWane?

Okay here it is, a look under the hood of what makes our political system work, the muscles and sinews that will make impeachment happen if it ever does.  This is a full list of the top 3 or 4 major campaign contributors to every House Judiciary Committee member who refuses to get on the impeachment train, with a link to contact that contributor.  It's all in the hands of 40 people now, a manageable number.  Forget it if you are a mere constituent.  These are who gets their phone calls returned.  

Some of them are a lot richer than you or me, but they are still Americans who were born with the same rights that are now being taken away, and the same interest in the rule of law.  Bush could have been a good "Republican" president, mere pillaging and looting the treasury for corporate friends.  That we expect, hell, Democrats too.  But he started messing with our rights, and bankrupting the country in a way that hurts nearly everyone.  If your writing hand is sore writing letters to congressmen who just throw them in the trash, let's write to the people they HAVE to listen to.

The goal is to persuade contributors to tell these guys they aren't getting another dime until they do their duty to impeach Cheney first, then Bush.  This works in a couple of ways.  First, there are patriots everywhere, and we can't assume that because someone is a captain of industry, is loaded, and is hooked into the system, he isn't pissed about what has been happening too.  Over Thanksgiving I talked with four or five former hardcore Bush supporters, invited to the inaugural and everything, who now say they don't care if he's impeached and probably deserves it.  The reasons they want him impeached are different from the reasons I do, but the effect is the same.  We had a good laugh and actually agreed on something.  The iron is hot.

The other level on which this works is that this is interesting reading.  I initially thought I was in for hours of drudgery putting these links together, but I found myself intrigued at who is giving money to whom.  Sometimes it makes sense, like a the big defense contractor in town is obviously going to ante up when the congressman comes a-calling.  But why would a real estate developer in Arizona be giving the max to a congressman in Indiana (Pence)?  By the time I was done, I think I had a pretty good idea of how the machine works, with LOTS of questions.  Ordinary people poking around these reports, and asking questions, is what congressmen DO NOT want.  

The broad outlines don't surprise me.  Defense, finance and real estate, oil and gas, telecommunications, all seem to pop up with predictable regularity.  But then you'll see a company that makes you wonder what kind of business they could possibly have before the government, like McWane Co., cast iron pipe fittings (Artur Davis, Alabama, Democrat.)  You google a bit and viola!  Turns out McWane has been having some serious problems with OSHA, one of the "most dangerous places to work in America." These guys aren't congressmen; they're enterprises.

For my money the best bet is to focus on the unions.  They give enormous sums, and if they said "dance," the Dems would dance.  

Write nice letters and emails asking these organizations to put impeachment on their agendas when it comes time to discuss which candidates they will support.  Being on the "inside," a union or professional association member, or the holder of a few shares who asks to speak about the company PAC at a shareholder's meeting, is best.  But as many impassioned pleas to your fellow Americans as you can manage, about our disappearing rights, about how everyone wants impeachment but it just won't start, may be the shove that undoes the logjam.  We found out the hard way the congressmen don't give a rat's ass what we think.  In our Massachusetts 1st, Congressman John Olver acknowledged that an "overwhelming majority" of his district wanted him to co-sponsor Kucinich's H.Res.333 for the impeachment of Cheney, and even said he was concerned Bush would attack Iran from the air, declare a national emergency upon the inevitable retaliation of terror attacks here, and cancel the 2008 elections (why is it Americans are the only people who get offended if folks don't hold still while we bomb them?)  These fantastic, surreal things came out of his mouth, and still he is against impeachment.  He now has a primary challenge from attorney Bob Feuer of the Northeast Impeachment Coalition.

They keep spinning along about elections and bills which, once passed, Bush will ignore with a signing statement anyway.  He can put in his signing statement that THAT wasn't the bill, THIS was.  Right now everything, the rule of law itself, is at stake.

These are the folks who helped get these congressmen elected.  They will bear some responsibility in the eyes of history.


Links to help you compose your letter/email (cutting and pasting is fine):

Impeach Investiations?  Here, They're Done! The Public Evidence for Impeachment

The President Himself

Enormous thanks to the patriots at the non-profit, who did the real work of putting this info online.  It has no value until we USE it.

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