Yesterday we celebrated that the Democratic leadership in the House was able to hold nearly the whole caucus together to pass an updated FISA law stripping out Bush’s absurd and venal demands for retroactive immunity. And they managed to do that even after nearly two dozen of them had written a letter to the Speaker telling her that they demanded the opportunity to go on record in favor of retroactive immunity. Only 12 Democrats voted with the Republicans and half of them did so to protest that the bill was still too weighted in favor of the Bush Regime’s unconstitutional agenda.
For those of us who follow the foibles of treacherous reactionary Democrats — the Blue Dogs and Bush Dogs — all the names are familiar: David Boren (D-OK), Chris Carney (D-PA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Tim Holden (D-PA), Nick Lampson (D-TX), and Heath Shuler (D-NC). Last time I checked, out of the 6 Bush Dogs who had signed the original letter to Pelosi that we were asking the community to vote on so we could target one district for an educational campaign, Carney and Shuler were coming in, respectively, #1 and #2. The 4 others fled from retroactive immunity in terror.
Our experience with Blue Dogs and Bush Dogs is that when you roll up a magazine and smack them firmly in the snout and then rub said snout in their mess, they eventually learn.
We were very successful in assisting our pals in the House leadership to convince some banditos to get back on the reservation when it came to S-CHIP last year. Once conservative Democrats like Leonard Boswell and Jim Marshall, who normally act as though being bipartisan means rubber stamping every diktat that comes down the pike from Pennsylvania Avenue, starting speaking in favor of the House bill, the Republicans knew the gig was up.
But what the DLC and Republicans (and most Blue Dogs) want is a bill that caves to all Bush’s demands for warrantless wiretaps and retroactive immunity, basically, the shameful bill the Senate passed last month 68-29. What happens now is a conference with the Senate to hammer out a compromise.
So why did almost all the Blue Dogs support the House bill? They know it will never become law. Even if it ever managed to pass the Senate — almost impossible — Bush has vowed to veto it. So what happened? Sources in the House tell me that Pelosi, Hoyer and Emanuel promised the Blue Dogs that they would be on the reconciliation committee with the Senate charged with hammering out a compromise.
The House Senate bill overturns the rule of law by granting probable criminals retroactive immunity. The House bill doesn’t.
The Senate bill is fine with warrantless wiretaps. The House bill isn’t.
In the Senate 18 Democrats voted with the Republicans and Lieberman to grant retroactive immunity and to enshrine warrantless wiretaps into law. Almost none are up for re-election this year. The exceptions are Mark Pryor of Arkansas (who has no primary or general election challenger), Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and, leader of the bad Democrats on this, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. What should our community do about this?