Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

Details From Our Clinton Meeting

The netroots project began at firedoglake.com, Crooks and Liars.com and Glen Greenwald in response to the NSA illegal wiretaps. It has evolved to over 30 states. Each state has autonomy to engage elected officials as they see fit. This is the New York story.

New York netroots members wanted to meet with Senator Clinton to discuss three key issues: censure, Iran, and net neutrality. The community liaison, Christine Falvo, informed us that policy matters were discussed in DC. Her job is to act as a conduit. She takes the information from the meeting and distributes it to the appropriate staff. Prior to the meeting, we submitted questions to her in the hopes of getting answers that could then inform our discussions. The questions were:

1. War in Iran
Seymour Hersh's article pointed to a rush to war in Iran. Josh Bolten has listed fighting Iran as a key angle for resuscitating Bush's presidency. He said so in the following link : http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1186555,00.html.

"Presidential advisers believe that by putting pressure on Iran, Bush may be able to rehabilitate himself on national security, a core strength that has been compromised by a discouraging outlook in Iraq. "In the face of the Iranian menace, the Democrats will lose," said a Republican frequently consulted by the White House.

Thousands have now died for the partisan political purposes of George Bush. Given that the threat from Iran is not imminent, how will the Senate assure us that the President will not assume the authority to bomb or invade Iran?

2. Censure
The President of the United States continues to violate the Constitution and flout the duly enacted laws of the land through illegal secret wiretapping and signing statements declaring he is not accountable to the rule of law. See article from the Boston Globe, linked below. We believe that a Motion to Censure is an appropriate first measure. If you do not support Sen. Feingold’s motion, please discuss how you think the Senate should hold the president accountable.
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/03/24/bush_shuns_patriot_act_requirement/

3. Net Neutrality
Last fall, at the behest of the large telecoms , the "fairness" constraints that the telephone companies have been operating under since the 1930's were repealed by the FCC with regard to the internet. Within three months, if the Net Neutrality bill sponsored by Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan and Congressman Ed Markey is not passed (It was already narrowly defeated in the House,) the service providers will be able to decide what sites you can access and with what speed. Essentially this would de-democratize the net. What is your position on net neutrality? This is the New York Times take on it: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/opinion/02tue3.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin.

We did not want yes or no answers. We also wanted to know that she would take a leadership role on these issues.

Furthermore, it is our philosophy to praise electeds when they do good work, and express our displeasure when they do wrong, both directly to the elected and to the blogging community.

We began the meeting by praising Senator Clinton for opposing the confirmation of the FDA director until the FDA issues a decision on the morning after pill. Following this, we asked that she take a leadership role to thwart right wing efforts to criminalize birth control. We were told that she is drafting legislation that would put all members of the House and Senate on record as to whether they support the right of people to have access to birth control. A press conference will be held to announce the legislation. We were grateful to hear the information.

We moved to the three issues. Again, we were informed that policy staff is in DC. We objected to the set up of having to travel to DC to talk policy. Christine then informed us that the policy people come up to New York during recess to meet with constituents. Her office sets up the appointments. We look forward to meeting with the policy staff.

IRAN

Senator Clinton is concerned about the issues raised in the Seymour Hersh NEW YORKER article. It is her position that the US should take a leadership role with the international community to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. She does not think military action is currently warranted, although she will not rule it out. We asked that she take a leadership role in passing legislation that explicitly states that the President is not authorized to take military action without Congressional approval. We stressed that Bush’s action threaten the Constitution’s separation of powers. Congress must reassert itself. Christine took careful notes.

CENSURE

This discussion was most disappointing. Falvo expressed that the Senator is “very concerned” and that she is “waiting for investigations by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees”. We pointed out that there will be no hearings on the NSA wiretaps, especially in the Intelligence Committee. We asked for some recognition that the program is operating outside of the law. It was not forthcoming. We begged for leadership on the issue. We pointed out that Americans can be convinced that the NSA program is harmful. We told Falvo that America is looking for people to stand for something. Again, to no avail. We mentioned that Feingold’s approval ratings soared after he introduced the censure resolution.

As a follow up, we sent her a link to the Justice Department dropping the investigation because the NSA would not give them security clearance.

NET NEUTRALITY

Senator Clinton believes in open access and increasing access to the internet. Her office is looking at the Snowe bill and the Markey companion bill. They have not endorsed either, but will let us know their decision. We are looking into whether there are competing bills on this issue in the Senate. The answer felt like a dodge.

On Net Neutrality we pointed out that this is being marketed by the Republicans with their usual deceptive "up is down"isms and that our legislators have to be alert to the actual issue which is an attempt to curtail and de-democratize the freedom of the net in the interest of corporate profits.

SUMMARY

Though no surprise, we didn’t get the answers we were hoping for. Senator Clinton will not take a leadership role on the two critical issues before the Congress: censure and stopping Bush’s push to war in yet a third country. On censure, she is hiding behind the “need more information” door. There will be no further information. The Intelligence Committee will never hold hearings. If Judiciary holds hearings, they will be stymied by administration claims that all the information is classified. That she will not use her position on the Armed Services Committee to draft legislation requiring Congressional approval prior to military action against Iran is a sign that she agrees with the consultants and does not want to rock the boat.

We pointed out that the Bush people are radicals. And not in a good way. They are shredding the Constitution. Rather than veto legislation, this administration, in each signing statement, refuses to follow the law. This radicalism must be called out.

We gave them a copy of CRASHING THE GATES. We talked about how informed bloggers are—that blogs scoop the mainstream press on a regular basis. Falvo was certainly surprised to know that Daily Kos gets over 500,000 hits a day. We suggested blogs to read and urged, through Falvo that the Senator take advantage and get on line.

Now that we have met, we will remain in touch with Clinton’s office. We added our voice.

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