Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

Hey, where is everybody?

Me in bed with Jane Hamsher? Whoda thunkit? Of course, she had to invite all these other people. Hey, Greenwald, watch the tail!

What am I babbling about? It all started with this:

It is now definitively clear that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is the driving force behind a bill -- written by GOP Sen. Kit Bond -- to vest the President with vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and to vest lawbreaking telecoms with amnesty. Even as his office dishonestly denies that he is doing so, still more reports yesterday -- this one from the NYT and this one from Roll Call (sub req'd) -- confirm that a so-called "compromise" is being spearheaded by Hoyer and the House Democratic leadership. The ACLU and EFF are holding a joint call tomorrow to denounce Hoyer's "compromise" as nothing more than disguised guaranteed immunity for telecoms and, further, because "the proposed deal could be used to authorize dragnet surveillance of Americans' communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

Targeting Steny Hoyer for his contempt for the rule of law

[links from original]

If you're read this blog, or FireDogLake, or Glenn Greenwald's blog, you may have noticed quite a few articles on this subject. Mine generally start with this graphic:

then explain how this goddamned piece of paper needs our help, and then go on and on about how you would think by now Congress would remember the oath they took, and so on.

It looks like I'm not the only one who's tired of having to do this:

The deal that's been cut by the Democratic leadership to give George Bush everything he wants and grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms is an outrageous betrayal of the public trust. With the passage of this bill, we'll never be able to discover the extent of the lawbreaking that the Bush Administration and the telecos engaged in as they spied on American citizens.

Strange Bedfellows, Indeed

From another blog:

I wrote last week that the Democratic Party is far from a lost cause for freedom lovers in America. Not the corrupt establishment leadership of the party, of course-- those people are lost forever. Nancy Pelosi should always be remembered for her "impeachment is off the table" comment regarding George Bush, and Steny Hoyer (Democratic House Majority Leader) has now become the driving force behind a bogus "compromise" on a Republican sponsored bill that would create vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President and grant amnesty to lawbreaking telecom companies. These people-- the Pelosis and Hoyers of the world-- are beyond saving, but there's a new movement growing in the Democratic Party among online bloggers and freedom lovers who stand strongly in favor of constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Announcing: Strangebedfellows!

No, that isn't Jane Hamsher, or Glenn Greenwald. That was written by someone named Rick Williams at a libertarian blog called Break The Matrix. As strange as this arrangement of bedfellows might seem, it's really not all that strange. We're both interested in freedom. We both want to continue to be able to speak our minds. On this issue, at least, those minds are the same.

We're tired of Congresspeople who don't seem to feel that they work for us.

Greenwald's view is particularly cynical, at least for him. I'm saddened to say that I agree with him:

The message of the campaign we are going to launch will be that ordinary Americans who run afoul even of the pettiest laws, such as alleged minor drug possession offenses and the like, have the full weight of the criminal justice system smash mercilessly down upon them. People and small businesses who are sued in court are required to defend themselves no matter the expense. Steny Hoyer and his comrades do nothing to oppose that.

Instead, Hoyer spends his time in Washington expending enormous amounts of his political capital and energy working to obtain amnesty for the nation's richest and most powerful telecom corporations which, for years, broke far more serious laws in enabling the Bush administration illegally to spy on Americans. Hoyer is working to perpetuate a two-tiered system of justice in America where rich corporations with lobbyists and big campaign contributions are literally allowed to break our most serious laws and receive retroactive amnesty, while ordinary citizens have their lives destroyed over the pettiest offenses, as America turns itself into the world's largest prison state.


No matter what, the Democrats are going to control the House and Senate after the 2008 election. What people like Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel are pursuing is the consolidation of their power so that they become entrenched and can control Congress for the next decade, at least. That's obviously their first and only objective, and they are willing to sacrifice anything that they perceive at all threatening to that goal -- including efforts to stop the war in Iraq, basic constitutional liberties, protections against warrantless eavesdropping, and the equal and firm application of the rule of law.

Targeting Steny Hoyer for his contempt for the rule of law

[link from original, emphasis mine]

We're really, really tired of this crap. I don't vote Democratic because I like blue more than red. I don't do it to make Steny Hoyer more powerful than Duncan Hunter. I do it because they represent my interests better than the other party. If they're going to sell my country out for a little added power, they're worse than not worth supporting - they're dangerous.

The one thing that Congress swore to do was protect and defend the Constitution. If these people won't do that, they don't deserve those jobs. If you agree, I suggest you do four things:

  • write or call your Representative and Senators this week and explain in no uncertain terms that this alleged "compromise" is not satisfactory. Amend that to now. The vote will probably be tonight (Thursday).

  • Give to the Blue America PAC Versus Retroactive Immunity. The money will be used to oppose Hoyer in this election, and those who have enabled him. The more money there is, the better chance we have of making some of these people pay with their jobs.

  • Sign this online petition at

  • If you're a blogger, sign on as a Strange Bedfellow. Hey, who can resist this fur?

Do it soon, though. It looks like there will be a vote sometime this week. Now more than ever, that goddamned piece of paper needs your help.

UPDATE: Emptywheel thinks that the vote in the House could be as early as tomorrow night (Thursday, June 19). That means calls or e-mails need to be done now.

UPDATE 2 (Jun. 19): One player in this coalition of the unwilling is the American Civil Liberties Union. Over at Blogasm, Simon Owens covers that part of the story:

Liz Rose, a spokesperson for the ACLU, told me today that it’s not uncommon for the special interest group to work with people from both the right and left on civil liberties issues. “In this case, a vote is coming up in Congress on this bad FISA bill and we need to convince the Democratic leadership not to go forward with what we think is an unconstitutional bill,” she said. “So this Strange Bedfellows presented itself as a great opportunity to get involved with the right and left who are against the bill. And eventually we’d collaborate on other civil liberties concerns.”

Strange Bedfellows: Bloggers from the left and right team up with the ACLU to fight telecom immunity

Ms. Rose is correct, of course. Their stand on free speech often pits the ACLU against other progressive organizations along with more right-wing ones. Free speech is like that - everyone gets to have it or it's not free.

As of 10:45 AM, the fund is up over $205K. That's good, because I think we're going to need a bigger bed soon.


Dana Hunter said...

Hey, handsome! Imagine seeing you here in this bed! ;-) Thanks for the petition link!

Cujo359 said...

You're welcome. Poke Hamsher to see if she'll give you a little more room.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Great piece. Thanks for the reminder. I linky-loved it over at my place.

Cujo359 said...

Thanks Hope. Pull up a pillow and sit down. Greenwald's finally calmed down a little.

Dana Hunter said...

The Glenn does thrash when he's in the grip of a nightmare, doesn't he? And Jane's got vicious elbows.

I don't think any of us are going to be sleeping well tonight, alas.

Cujo359 said...

I didn't sleep well until this morning, after I'd largely forgotten put all this out of my mind. It's sad watching something you love and value die.