Saturday, June 24, 2006
BTL Midnight Round-Up
just published a basic summary of all the hoopla surrounding their financial spying article from yesterday. They really don’t provide anything new, simply a reposting of Bush administration spin, but the last line is a great one.

Swift has said that its role in the program was never voluntary, but that it was obligated to comply with a valid subpoena, and had worked to narrow the range of data it provided to American officials.

But the Treasury secretary, Mr. Snow, said Friday that after the Sept. 11 attacks, Treasury Department officials initially presented the cooperative with what he described as "really narrowly crafted subpoenas all tied to terrorism." Officials at Swift responded that that they did not have the ability to "extract the particular information from their broad database."

"So they said, 'We'll give you all the data,' " Secretary Snow said.

• The WaPo has a good on Republicans in Congress grasping for votes.

The Republican-controlled Congress seems to be struggling lately to carry out its most basic mission: passing legislation. A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage failed miserably. Long-debated immigration legislation has reached an impasse. The House passed line-item veto and estate tax measures that face significant hurdles in the Senate, while the Senate devoted a week to impassioned debates over Iraq that only resulted in two failed Democratic resolutions.

Democratic critics are reviving Harry S. Truman's taunt of a "Do-Nothing Congress." But many Republicans say they are exactly where they want to be as they head into the November elections, which will determine whether they retain their House and Senate majorities. In every instance, GOP leaders pushed legislation known to have little or no chance of eventual enactment but also known to appeal to conservative voters, whose turnout is crucial to the party's success.

On Monday, Senate Republicans plan to launch a debate on what many Democrats consider the king of cynical, election-oriented bills: a proposed constitutional amendment banning the desecration of the American flag. Senators say it is possible that they finally have the two-thirds majority needed for passage, but analysts in both parties say it hardly matters. The flag amendment is red meat for conservative audiences, and it is no surprise that Republicans are rolling it out with eight legislative weeks left in the election year.

"There's no question that they are trotting out their hardy perennials," said Matt Bennett, a former Democratic staffer who is vice president of Third Way, a centrist think tank. "They're done purely for political gamesmanship. . . . No one can go to the floor and say, 'The citizens of my district are demanding we take up the flag amendment.' "

The Federal Marriage Amendment was stupid Christianist pandering by Republicans - an amendment with no chance of passing, yet something that the whacky base really cares about -, but the flag burning amendment is even worse. I’m not even sure who it’s pandering to… the five people in Kentucky who actually give a shit?

All this stupid, frantic pandering shows me one thing - Republicans do not have the policy that Americans want on the important issues, so they parade out all these stupid, unimportant issues to make people think that Republican policy is still relevant.


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