Authoritarian Democrats 3: Questions and Excuses


Evidence of Democratic skullduggery continues to pile up. In Category 1 is a raft of folks wondering why their safe-seat Dem Rep voted for the FISA bill, and in Category 2 is a different raft unimpressed by Democratic explanations of how they were conned by McConnell.

Two quick examples of the former:

New Rep Tim Walz, D-MN, just elected, disappointed some of his staunchest supporters by voting for FISA. Mark Gisleson, Minneapolis blogger of Norwegianity, isn’t happy.

Walz’s vote hurt, and hurt a lot. For the life of me I don’t know how a high school teacher can forget the Constitution so quickly. I think his former students should form a posse and kick his ass the next time he comes home to remind him why they sent him to D.C. The FISA renewal was a huge mistake and without a doubt the most dickheaded vote Walz has cast since going to Washington.

Maryland Democratic activist Stephanie Dray is baffled and “appalled” by Rep Barbara Mikulski’s vote.

I’ve come to this conclusion because she didn’t have to vote this way. Maryand is in no danger of turning into a Red State any time soon. We just came off an election and there’s plenty of time before the next one, even if this would have been a controversial vote. Senator Barb is an institution in this state–there’s really no chance that she’s going to lose her job. So one can only conclude that she voted this way because she believed it was the right thing to do.

And as a Democrat who cares more about civil liberties than welfare checks, this has me appalled.

If Mikulski felt comfortable throwing the Constitution aside in the genuine belief “it was the right thing to do”, we’ve already got a problem. But let’s take it at face value. The next question is: What on earth would make her think that? The answer to that question brings us to the second raft.

According to Spencer Ackerman at TPMMuckraker, the Democratic leadership is claiming it was bamboozled by DNI Mike McConnell. (I suspected we were in trouble when during McConnell’s Senate confirmation hearing, Jay Rockefeller, D WV, allowed as how he couldn’t imagine a better choice than McConnell, neglecting to mention that Adm Mike is a card-carrying Cheneyist from way back.) Ackerman says the Democrats say it’s all Mike’s fault.

At issue is Thursday’s FISA deal. As TPMmuckraker reported, Democrats left a marathon negotiation session with McConnell believing he had agreed to a deal. The proposed revision to FISA would allow the NSA to obtain foreign communications without a warrant. But soon they learned that the White House had rejected the bargain and were left perplexed by McConnell’s acquiescence — a confusion compounded by Friday’s Senate passage of a far broader bill.

The poor Dems were apparently set up and then snookered.

Despite Democratic recollections of McConnell citing “pressure” from above, both he and the White House now deny that there was ever any “deal” for the administration to scrap. But the acrimony that followed among Democrats, fueled by widespread criticism of the act from civil libertarians and of the Democrats from the press, was intense. After all, the administration used McConnell to negotiate its bill in order to exploit his credibility….

Uh, with all due respect, what credibility? McConnell’s been in Cheney’s back pocket since the First Gulf War. That’s why he was chosen. I’m not buying it, and neither is Avedon Carol.

Wait a minute, are Democrats trying to pretend it’s all Michael McConnell’s fault that they were snookered into supporting the FISA bill? I’m sorry, but everyone knows that Bush is in the White House, Cheney is in his pants, and Alberto Gonzales is running the DoJ. There’s no excuse for believing a single word they say. No one is fooled by this nonsense.

No? Mikulski claims to have been.

“I spoke with Admiral Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, at length this evening. He believes the United States is vulnerable, and that we need to move quickly to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The intelligence community is deeply concerned that chatter among suspected terrorist networks is up. I am concerned as well. We are living in a period of heightened vulnerability, and must give the intelligence community the tools they need to protect America.

This legislation is a temporary fix. It is not permanent and it expires in six months. It immediately addresses critical gaps in our intelligence-collection efforts – while preserving a role for FISA court review.

I voted for both bills because one needed 60 votes to pass. It is vital that we act now. We cannot leave the nation unprotected in this post-9/11 period.”

So does Jim Webb, who adds that he was just following orders.

“Yesterday I supported two measures to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. These measures were considered against the backdrop of heightened concerns from our nation’s intelligence community abut the threat of international terrorism. The ramifications of the two amendments before us last night were not political. Instead they related to the urgent demands of national security. I chose to heed those warnings. We now have six months to work in earnest to bring full accountability to the process.

“This distinction and the threats to national security were stated clearly by Admiral McConnell as well as four of the eight Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. These members, Senators Feinstein, Mikulski, Bayh, and Bill Nelson, have extensive experience on intelligence matters and are respected champions of civil rights and liberties. They chose to give significant weight and deference to the intelligence community on FISA reform, and so did I.

What we have here is far less a matter of political cowardice than a genuine willingness on the part of supposedly “respected champions of civil rights and liberties” to give those rights and liberties away on the basis of statements by a Cheney operative despite their “extensive experience” with the bald-faced lying of Cheney operatives.

Now, you can believe that this is proof of an order of gullibility that makes Elmer Fudd look cynical, or you can believe that Democrats have become – or are at least becoming – as anti-democratic as their Republican cohorts colleagues in the name of “protecting us” from the GWOT. Either prospect is disturbing. The latter is terrifying.

It is beyond reason to assume that some mythological band of fundamentalist suicide bombers actually threaten the destruction of the US and that therefore the suppression and even elimination of our rights and liberties is justified. Yet that is precisely the excuse argument Democrats who voted for the FISA bill are making.

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4 responses to “Authoritarian Democrats 3: Questions and Excuses

  1. I’m with you here, brother. Every time there’s an appointment process we hear how the Dems don’t like the clod/criminal BushCo has nominated but darnit, we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt because, shucks ma’am, we’re the good guys and we trust the process. Except they don’t trust the part of the process put in place to correct these horrible mistakes. Which means that they aren’t mistakes.

    You really don’t have to look any further than the electronic voting scandal to see where the Dems truly stand when it comes to the will of the people. They don’t want it expressed any more than the GOP does, which is not at all.

    Related: It’s amazing to me that, as John Stewart observed of Abu G., that they would rather be perceived as incompetent than come clean as to their real agenda. I guess that as long as they can live in their protective bubble, where everyone is buddies and knows the score – inside the castle walls is a better metaphor – then they’re cool with looking like fools and cowards.

  2. Pingback: Authoritarian Democrats 5: The Foreign Policy Establishment « Mick Arran

  3. I am still baffled by Senator Mikulski’s vote.

  4. Stephanie, she may very well have been under heavy pressure from the leadership to make the numbers come out right. She’s smart enough and been around long enough to have cut a deal for her state in exchange for her vote, so look for that. The answer may present itself in due course.

    Otherwise, there are only two explanations:

    1) She believed McConnell’s guff, in which case you’ve got a problem.

    2) She believed it was “the right thing to do”, in which case you’ve got a bigger problem.

    Given Mikulski’s record, I’m betting the statement was to cover a deal.

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