Monday, January 28, 2008

let’s talk about sex. . . and FISA

If you tuned in last Thursday, then you might know that there is a crucial cloture vote on the revisions to FISA as reported out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence scheduled today for 4:30 PM. As you probably have read by now, the SSCI version of the bill is bad news on may levels, the most obvious of which is the proposed amnesty for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bush Administration in breaking the original FISA law and violating the Fourth Amendment.

Republicans have moved for cloture to cut off amendments to this bill and to preclude a vote on a one-month extension of the (frankly terrible) Protect America Act, due to expire on February 4th. It is crucial to the legislative process and to our civil liberties that at least 41 Senators vote against cloture.

Now you think that would be easy, given that the Democrats theoretically control 51 seats, that this version of the bill gives Dick Cheney and his henchmen retroactive cover for past wrongs, and everything they want to exploit their power in the future. Alas, securing these 41 votes will actually require effort.

You can play your part. Call your senators. Fax your senators. Write your favorite presidential candidate—tell them all that this is important to you. (Information on how to do all of this can be found here.)

Senators Clinton and Obama are in Washington for the State of the Union speech, and have both said that they will be present to vote “no” on cloture. But, they could do more, as Ari Melber points out, each have several colleagues that have endorsed their candidacies, but who, at present, have not committed to a vote against cloture. It is crucial for any senator auditioning to be president to show some leadership skills on this issue. Both Clinton and Obama need to expend some political capital to make sure that the Senate does not vote out a bad FISA bill.

(For the record, as I noted on Thursday, former Senator John Edwards weighed in against telecom immunity and this version of the bill last week. I should also note that Republican Senator and presidential candidate John “Asshole” McCain is skipping both this vote and the SOTU.)

Now, perhaps you think this is all academic. “What’s the big deal?” you say. “I lead a clean life; this won’t affect me.” Well, think again.

Finally, if you still want to talk about sex. . . and race. . . then click through to my post on capitoilette.

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