FISA: Bush's Vise On Dem Incompetence


They have got us in a vise,” Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said as she left a Saturday afternoon meeting where senior Democrats were debating how to handle the issue in the final hours before recess.

If there is one thing Bush knows how to do well it is how to intimidate the useless Democrats in Congress. I have never ever seen a more pathetic group of negotiators in my life.

Congresswoman Slaughter, have you ever thought of actually just demonstrating some public resolve? Even if you plan to cave in later, do you think you MIGHT act as if you might stand up to Bush? He might give you a concession once in a while. Apparently getting pre-punked, as Sen. Obama was on the Iraq Supplemental (remember the not playing chicken remark?), is the SOP for Dems.

This quote is as pathetic and incompetent a piece of bargaining that I have ever seen.

Let's face it - Congressional Democrats stink at politics and stink at political bargaining. Utterly incompetent.

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    I've actually really started to worry (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:35:39 PM EST
    about keeping the House. These people don't even bring a knife to a gun fight--they bring a carrot!

    Honestly (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:39:56 PM EST
    Are they really as stupid as Slaughter's comment makes them seem?

    I have nbever been impressed with Slaughter's intellect but I thought she had the sense to maintain a fighting posture.

    If she can not even do that, then WTF good is she for?

    She is in a safe district so it is not like she is holding a tough seat for us.

    She is basically awful. I know she is a dkos pet but I find her to be incompetent as a general matter.


    When the Chairman of Rules speaks (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:52:23 PM EST
    we are effectively hearing the Speaker of the House. At least, that's the normal interpretation. Does Mrs. Pelosi think she's in a vice? Someone ought to ask her.

    Incidentally, I have heard Slaughter speak in person. New York is the last place in the world I would otherwise expect to find that she comes from. As Stephen Colbert says, the traditional way to connote "stupid" on TV is to give a character a southern accent.


    Slaughter is born and raised in Kentucky (1.00 / 1) (#22)
    by joejoejoe on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:37:01 PM EST
    The vise Slaughter is in is between her historic view of America (respect the President, government works on coalitions and compromise) and the reality of the Bush presidency.

    I don't know why the Democratic Congress can't hold their ground on having FISA be the approving body. The FISA court already overruled Bush. Adding Congress makes it 2 out of 3 branches and that's how Dems should talk about it. I think Slaughter is very sharp but there are a whole generation of Democratic pols who lack the imagination to believe a White House could be both this crooked and this bold. BushCo. makes Nixon look like Adlai Stevenson by comparison.


    Heh (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:58:37 PM EST
    They are Too 'Fat' (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by squeaky on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:46:03 PM EST
    A dent in their summer recess was way too much for them to face.

    They are like children.

    Dems - A Faith Based Opposition Party (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by john horse on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 06:19:34 PM EST
    I agree with BTD.  What a pathetic display.  As they say in the South, the Senate Dems who voted for this exapansion of FISA are just plain sorry.  They keep getting bamboozled by Bush and the GOP again and again.  Against all common sense they trust Bush only to see that trust betrayed, whether it be voting for Iraq or the confirmation of Alito and Roberts.  They have become a faith based opposition party.

    Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me again and again and I must be a Dem Senator.

    Not making the argument (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by tnthorpe on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 07:01:02 PM EST
    As far as I understand it, the FISA bill needs revision to cope with technological and network developments in electronic communications, and the Bush administration is using this valid necessity to gut the law by removing court supervision in favor of warrants issued under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General. The executive branch doesn't issue warrants, the judicial branch does, and for very good reasons having to do with the 4th Amendment. Further, this new expansion all but removes the previous law-breaking of the President in authorizing warrantless wiretaps from serious public scrutiny. It has the de facto effect of retroactively "authorizing" violations of law that are impeachable, or would be if Congress chose to exercise its Constitutional duties. So, the Bush Administration is using the FISA bill to moot both censure and impeachment, show how ineffective the Democrats are at managing the government and fighting terrorism, and to stoke the fear factory once again. Not bad for a guy polling in the mid-20% to low 30% range. Let's be clear about this pressing need for a quick and dirty FISA fix: what the Bush Administration fears is scrutiny into its secretive affairs and is cynically using the shield of public necessity to screen themselves from legitimate inquiry. FISA could well be fixed on a solid bi-partisan basis that kept the 4th Amendment intact and did all it needs to advance the work of protecting America from terrorists. The bill passed by the Senate fails to protect Americans from a government with a proven history of the abuse of surveillance power. That the Democrats can't find an argument to make here is not surprising, but frankly appalling.

    tnthorpe (1.00 / 1) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 12:03:36 PM EST
    Let's be clear about this pressing need for a quick and dirty FISA fix:

    This was started in January. Perhaps if the Demo controlled Congress had been less interested in naming Post Office buildings and trying to set perjury traps the issue could have been more thoroughly debated.

    Don't ya know??


    did rush tell you to say that? (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Sailor on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 03:26:51 PM EST
    This was started in January.
    So what's the hurry now?

    Perhaps if the Demo controlled Congress had been less interested in naming Post Office buildings and trying to set perjury traps the issue could have been more thoroughly debated.
    1) congress is not dem controlled, the constant rethuglican fillibusters proove that, not to mention it is a very narrow margin in the seante and lieberman is NOT A DEM.
    1. There are many committees and votes, they can actually do many things at once. What a simplistic view you adopt on this occasion.
    2. Lying to congress is a crime, there were no traps, just testimony that constantly consisted of lies.

    But since this commenter supported arming the Taliban and Saddam what else would one expect except trashing of the constitution and American ideals.

    sailor likes to kid us (1.00 / 1) (#45)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 03:50:37 PM EST
    The Demos don't have the majority??

    Who knew?? Like wow.

    Look Sailor, time to quit trying to fun people.

    That majority allows them to say when a bill gets considered. So don't play dumb. They didn't want to touch it because they knew they would have to pass it, or else face the possibility of accepting a lot of blame if an attack happened.

    So they put it off hoping that somehow they could cut a deal, maybe trade this for votes in favor of surrendering in Iraq.

    Didn't work. They got trapped.

    These are your leaders, sailor. Enjoy.


    Perfectly Said (none / 0) (#34)
    by scarysh*t on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 07:29:07 PM EST
    Much better than I could.

    I bet the Technological fix excuse is a total lie (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Jeff in Texas on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 07:31:48 PM EST
    "the FISA bill needs revision to cope with technological and network developments in electronic communications"

    I am willing to bet that this is not only not the primary reason for the bill (which is obvious), it is not even "a" reason for the bill.  This seems like utter bs.  You mean to tell me that in the last 10 years or more that e-mail has been widely used by the population at large-- the entirety of which time most of the backbone of the internet resided in the United States-- this issue has never come up?  That Clinton's and Bush's DOJ and the FISA court assumed that warrants were required to monitor totally foreign communications overseas if they happened to pass through a switch in the US???  How likely is that? The point is, how do we even know this is an issue?  It's all top secret.  We don't even officially know that any part of the White House's extra-legal spy program was declared out of bounds, let alone WHICH part of it was.

    As for the Democrats, well.  The question is, how does this come to a vote, in both houses, on less than a week's notice, if the leadership of the party didn't want it to?  How long were they "about to get around to" the restoring habeas bill?  How long has it taken to get moving on contempt (inherent or otherwise)?  But this dog's breakfast of a bill they can get to LIKE THAT, by accident?  Please.  The comments about "being in a vise" reflect either fear, stupidity, or complicity.  It is almost certainly a combination of all three, but the point is, how does it matter?  They are worthless in any case.  

    Dems are not up to the task on FISA (none / 0) (#38)
    by tnthorpe on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 08:32:43 PM EST
    Jeff, I think your suspicions are likely right on target. FISA has been modified many times since its initial passage (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/m071906.pdf). The argument about a "intelligence gap" is like the Kennedy era "missile gap," yet another political fiction that was very useful at the time and a complete fabrication. As I watch the floor debate unfold, the Dems are getting rhetorically outflanked at every turn: it's all 9/11, dead daddies, and soft of terrorism allegations.

    Dems are shredding long standing rights (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by janinsanfran on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 08:05:23 PM EST
    As far as I can figure out, what this bill does is forfeit Fourth Amendment rights for any of us who have the effrontery to interact with anyone foreign. Perhaps also any of us whose internet traffic bounces through "foreign" ether. Or perhaps any of us that someone at NSA thinks might do one of those things. No way of knowing or finding out. Reps want us to be a nation of isolationist cowards.

    I blame the Dems -- Bushco are known authoritarians. Dems are pathetic enablers.

    I wouldn't be surprised (4.00 / 1) (#4)
    by jen on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:43:27 PM EST
    if we someday learn the Dems and/or their families are being threatened by this crime family administration. Either that or it really is already a one party system and we're the fools.

    it's less overt (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:02:26 PM EST
    psyops are far more subtle than that. psyops include those hidden hands that make bad things happen. or bumps in the night. or telephone calls showing caller IDs with a message related to something you are doing on the computer or elsewhere at any given moment. or the telephone rings with nobody there at precisely the moment you have made an especially poignant remark, as if in punctuation. stuff like that, but including even far more imaginative menacings, that I am quite afraid to get into.

    Believe it or not, after a while, that stuff gets truly unnerving and especially scary after a while


    War is a War of and on nerves -- Alfred Korzybski (none / 0) (#21)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:35:32 PM EST
    Psych BSCT teams are about much of the same, they design programs to keep subject's minds off balance and routines disrupted.

    Yes I am aware of conventions like found here. I doubt they are held to apply.

    Yes I am aware of stuff like this and DSMIV, etc.


    ahem, (none / 0) (#23)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:49:08 PM EST
    that stroll down memory lane

    Conspiracy theories are for weak minds. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Gabriel Malor on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:53:15 PM EST
    Think about that for a minute. The "crime family administration" is somehow controlling Democrat congressfolks in what must be a massive, but completely invisible conspiracy?

    Helpful hint for you and your type: if your theory relies in any manner on a "massive, but completely invisible conspiracy" you may want to seek professional help.

    Of course, let's just say you're right and somehow Democrats are being forced to act under duress. I'd say that makes you "the fools" anyway.


    Conspiracy theories are for weak minds. (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Edger on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 07:57:24 PM EST
    There are billions of them out there. They want to take over the world and force you to submit to Sharia Law.

    Oh, and they hate you for you freedom.



    Edger gets edgy (1.00 / 1) (#41)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 11:50:19 AM EST
    Uh, you are the one who floated the theory here, on TL, that Bush and Rudy knew about the details of 9/11, in advance.

    I would tell you, but then someone would have to.. (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 09:39:59 PM EST
    I guess your and my level of play fall miles apart on the food chain

    Don't let Gabe kid you (1.00 / 1) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 12:00:03 PM EST
    "weezie" (none / 0) (#3)
    by olie on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:42:28 PM EST
    take it easy on Ms. Slaughter- I've been a big fan since I voted for her in '86, her first term in the house

    she doesn't take crap from anybody, and she's often kicking butt for our side

    I'd like to see more than a sound bite before I judge her on this one

    Excuse me (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:45:55 PM EST
    I don't agree. I ahve never been impressed with Rep. Slaughter. She knows how to push the red meat buttons but can never really come through with a darn thing.

    I think her intellect is weak, her political skills nonexistent, her bargaining skills pathetic.

    I think she should stick to her one note - red meat.

    Here she can not even do that. PAthetic.


    It's Hard to Believe (none / 0) (#7)
    by BDB on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 04:52:07 PM EST
    the number of politicians who are lawyers given the Dems pathetic negotiating skills.  Why not vote for their bill and force a Bush veto? Or if they don't have the 51 votes cough Lieberman cough, then blame the republicans for failing to pass a bill?  Or at least f'ing try.  I get they can't ignore the "chatter" crap because they're scared of how easily the MSM will be manipulated into blaming them, but that doesn't mean you have to agree on Bush's bill.  

    They need to ask themselves - is this the legacy I want to leave?  That I helped weaken civil rights and, inevitably, made it possible for George W. Bush to spy on folks who were no threat to the United States.  Because dollars to donuts, the Bushies will abuse this power like they've abused every other.  I don't normally have such a dim view of government, but how can you not with this crew?  Gonzales just lied to Congress about the spying program last week!  

    I don't normally agree with Obama's a pox on both their houses, because really the Republicans are so much worse at this point, but things like this are a nice reminder that Democrats cannot be counted on to always do the right thing either and Americans must remain ever vigilant to protect even the most basic of our rights.

    will you keep us updated? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:00:30 PM EST
    On any votes and what happens?  The blogging here last night on the Senate vote was great. For those of not near tvs tonight, that would be great.

    I'm watching C-Span as we speak (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:01:40 PM EST
    Boehner still on about  "enough is enough."

    Oh boy, we just got called out by Phil English! (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:15:37 PM EST
    I wonder if they are having trouble (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:20:36 PM EST
    whipping up the 290 votes they need.

    I was going to go to a movie but I thought they would do FISA tonight.

    Now I am not so sure.

    What's the holdup?


    If they can't get 290 (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:25:58 PM EST
    then they have two options: either they can bring the Senate bill to the floor under an open rule or they can get a rule--and probably have to pass it with Republican votes. I'm guessing the latter will happen, and wonder what Pelosi will trade away to get it.

    Strike that (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:27:34 PM EST
    they have to get a rule no matter what, because suspension bills are only allowed on Mondays through Wednesdays.

    Vice indeed.


    Adoption of the rule (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:30:25 PM EST
    requires 2/3 though. Right?

    Nope, 218 (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:34:24 PM EST
    Then why was the Dem altenrative (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:57:44 PM EST
    not brought under that rule?

    Why is it not done now?


    There were some very strange maneuvers yesterday (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 06:06:57 PM EST
    They did get a special rule to allow a suspension vote on the MI bridge funding authorization. I assume that there was a similar rule for the Democratic FISA bill, otherwise there could not have been a vote.

    I believe they could get a regular rule that would only require a 218 majority, but they haven't for some reason.


    interesting thoughts (none / 0) (#32)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 06:25:38 PM EST
    ... checking tailrank

    Can someone explain to me (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jon Erik Kingstad on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:24:45 PM EST
    how the House voted yesterday, Friday, to adjourn and they are still in D.C. considering this FISA bill? I  have never made a study of House or Senate procedural rules. I read in Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson that they are byzantine and arcane but some politicians, like Johnson, can master them and rule. When I read that an elected representative says they are "in a vise", I am inferring that person does not understand the rules. An elected representative should never be in the position of being forced to comply with an agenda of the executive branch and if the executive branch is dictating anything here to a coequal and coordinate brnach of government, there is something very wrong going on.

    Adjourned for the day (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:29:34 PM EST
    Question: (none / 0) (#25)
    by Gabriel Malor on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:55:22 PM EST
    When Senator Slaughter says "they" have got her in a vise, who is the "they" that she is referring to? She was leaving a meeting of Democrats, but it is possible (and largely assumed here) that she was talking about the Republicans rather than, say, her party leadership. What do you think?

    terror? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 05:56:29 PM EST
    See my latest post (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 06:04:19 PM EST
    It might be of interest to you.

    Bush's Vise On Dems (none / 0) (#46)
    by Edger on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 11:02:19 PM EST
    Slightly OT...

    Scott Horton Interviews Bruce Fein

    On Friday, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein, in describing a new "Orwellian" executive order granting the Treasury Department unprecedented power to seize Americans' property, told Antiwar Radio that the language of the order is so broad that it would be "arguable" that the government could even [cite] Senator Clinton's requests to the Pentagon for information about withdrawal plans, recently denounced by the Defense Department, as proof of "a significant risk" that she could do something else which might undermine the Iraqi government - and hence lose all her property with no recourse. The rest of us too.