Friday, August 30, 2013

Can we get this elderly menace out of the Senate?

 No, she's not sleeping on the job in this February 2010 photo, but America would probably be a little better off if she were.


When Senator Dianne Feinstein opens her mouth, American democracy tends to take a hit.

 This morning, ugly, crooked and stupid Dianne Feinstein as exposed her faults even more than ever before.  At this point, a Playboy centerfold of Dianne couldn't be as unflattering as her new Q&A with Time.

[Time:]Should the President wait for Congress to come back in? More than 100 members have signed a letter asking him to seek permission from Congress before he uses force in Syria.

[Dianne Feinstein:]  There have been consultations. There will be more consultations. This is not to send troops over, as I understand it. So the answer is not necessarily. I think it would be, if there is not a timeline involved, obviously it would be good to wait, but if time is of the essence that’s decision the Administration has to make. I think there’s ways of doing consultations which is adequate.

With that idiotic answer, Dianne yet again harms the democratic process.  A strike would require Congressional authorization.  Dianne's an idiot.   As we noted at the end of last month:

The ethically challenged DiFi who has abused her office also heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.  DiFi does a lot.  When not practicing nepotism and worse, she likes to pretend she's governor of California -- an office she's never held.  It's in that delusional capacity that she recently insisted that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner should resign.  That's not her damn business and she needs to take her big nose out of it.  (As noted Monday, that decision is up to the people of San Diego.  I live in District 8, so I offer no opinion on what the 'right' thing to do is.  San Diego needs to be having that conversation with one another and they don't need the rest of us telling them what to do.)
It's amazing that she wants to talk about morals when, had Democrats not controlled the Senate, she would have most likely been censured by the Ethics Committee for her actions in giving her husband -- her War Hawk husband -- government contracts.

I think she a lot of gall even showing up for this hearing. 
For those who don't know, Dianne Feinstein is the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. So when the NSA spying emerged in May, her tired ass should have been all over this issue with hearings.  How many public hearings has DiFi held on this issue?


She has not called one hearing.  (And she hasn't held a public hearing since March 13, 2013.  Someone needs to ask her what 'sunlight' and an 'informed public' mean to her.)  President Barack Obama claims a national dialogue needs to take place and Dianne Feinstein goes against that.  She's happy to hector and lecture, she just won't due the job required of her and schedule open hearings on this matter.

Today, she fawned over the unconstitutional spying and she also offered a disturbing series of remarks that indicated even she doesn't listen when she speaks.

Senator Dianne Feinstein:  Yesterday, at the Intelligence Committee,  I outlined some changes that we might consider as part of our authorization bill and let me quickly run through them.  Uh, uhm, the number of American phone numbers permitted as queries on a regular basis annually from the data base, the number of referrals  made to the FBI each year based on those queries and how many times the FBI obtains probably cause warrants to collect the content of a call which we now know is very few times relatively, the number of times a company, this is at their request -- from the high tech companies -- that any company is required to provide data pursuant to FISA's business record's provision.  As you know, the companies who provide information are seeking to be able to speak more publicly about this and I think we should.  There's some changes we can make to the business records section.  We're looking at reducing the five year retention period that NSA keeps phone records in its data base down to two or three years.


 And Sarah Palin was ridiculed for how she spoke?  Sarah Palin was mocked in a Saturday Night Live skit for how she spoke?  I found that disturbing in real time -- and noted in real time that if you attended Congressional hearings, Palin's manner of speaking wasn't that surprising when compared to other politicians (changing topics -- or subjects or verbs -- mid-sentence, for example).  From those remarks above, let's highlight Dianne Feinstein saying this:

Uh, uhm, the number of American phone numbers permitted as queries on a regular basis annually from the data base, the number of referrals  made to the FBI each year based on those queries and how many times the FBI obtains probably cause warrants to collect the content of a call which we now know is very few times relatively, the number of times a company, this is at their request -- from the high tech companies -- that any company is required to provide data pursuant to FISA's business record's provision. 

Those aren't "changes."  They might be 'topics,' but what the hell she's saying who knows?

What's really disturbing is that those remarks weren't made in response to a question from Katie Couric.  DiFi made them herself, reading from a list, and never grasped that they didn't make sense.  Behavior like that, in our state of California (Dianne and mine), would mean she wouldn't get her driver's license renewed.

Along with her not making sense in the middle of a Senate hearing, there's also the reality that, if she wanted a debate on these topics yesterday, she should have chaired an open hearing and not the closed one Tuesday afternoon

Do we need to speak more slowly for Dianne? 

Above you have Dianne Feinstein making ridiculous statement's.  It's not until the last sentence quoted that she finally does what she said she was going to do share "outlined" changes.
 At the age of 80, would you honestly let her drive the family car on a road trip or even a trip to the grocery store?

No, you probably wouldn't.

So why do we let her remain in the Senate, let alone give her the position of Chair.  This dying -- of old age -- in office really needs to be addressed by the Senate.  It's time for either term limits or age limits.  I do not trust the 80-year-old Dianne Feinstein to chair a Committee on anything.
"I think they will come after us," the dottering and aged fool insisted -- never defining who "they" were but making the case for putting her into assisted-living facilities.  We don't need the shut-in CBS viewers in charge of our rights?  We don't the need reactionary, elderly -- already spooked by societal changes -- determining what will keep us safe. Repeating: It's time for term limits or its time for age limits.  At 80, her fears [are] falling out like busted sofa, Dianne Feinstein is too old to be a Chair of anything and should not be in the US Senate.

I fully support a retirement age for the Senate (the House elects every two years, constituents should be imposing retirement on their elected members).   By the time someone's not trusted to drive a car due to their age, they're too old to be a Senate chair, they're too old to serve in the Senate.

Dianne's babbles, in fairness to her, have been bad since 2006.  But they've grown worse and it may be time to raise competency issues and the need for competency tests in the Senate for those members who think 80-years-old means you serve in the United States Senate.

It doesn't mean that.  It doesn't mean you hang on desperately to a seat and let your office do whatever 'work' you do.  It doesn't mean you die in office and stick your state with the cost of unplanned election.  Yes, deaths can happen anytime and at any age.

But, for example, the CDC notes average  life expectancy for US females is 80.4 years-old to 80.6 years-old.  Dianne turned 80 in June.  It's time for her to leave the Senate.  And in California (my state), we don't have the money to spare on a special election because stupid Dianne Feinstein wants to risk dying in office.

I do understand her hanging on so desperately.  She's not that close to her daughter, she has no other children and, if I were married to Richard C. Blum, I'd be desperate to be away from home as often as possible too.

But she can find a volunteer job somewhere.
She needs to step down.  She won't.  But she needs to.
If you doubt it, let's drop back to August 16th when Aaron Blake (Washington Post) noted:

 Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs Friday, saying that she has never come across an example of the NSA deliberately abusing its powers.
Feinstein released a statement in response to a Washington Post report detailing thousands of privacy violations committed by the NSA every year.

 As Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing) noted last Saturday:

 LOVEINT is the NSA practice of stalking people you are romantically interested in, using the enormous, illegal spy apparatus that captures huge amounts of Americans' (and foreigners') Internet traffic. It is so widespread that it has its own slangy spook-name. The NSA says it fires the people it catches doing it (though apparently it doesn't prosecute them for their crimes), but given that the NSA missed Snowden's ambitious leak-gathering activity, it seems likely that they've also missed some creepy stalkers in their midst.

We are very vocal in California when it comes to violence against women and we really don't tolerate representatives who minimize it. So when is Dianne going to address this?  And does she want to still stand by her lie that the NSA doesn't abuse their powers?

It's time for her to go.  She won't.  So what's the point here?  To have her launch another attack on 'unpaid journalists'?

The point is, first of all, it's time to float term limits or forced retirement for the Senate.  She is too old to run for re-election but at this point she will try.  It is too costly in the current environment for governments to be stuck with re-election costs.  I firmly believe that anyone of advanced age or who conceals a known health condition to seek election or re-election and dies in office should foot the bill for a re-election, sue their estate for the costs.  (I feel the same way about those who can't complete their term because they've been convicted of a crime.)

Those are serious points and we've been raising them at Third long enough that over five US Senators have died in office and their deaths have left taxpayers footing the bills for special elections.

Another point is to make it clear that when Dianne opens her mouth no one should take her seriously.  She's a miserable old woman who just gets more miserable with each passing day, she's afraid of the whole world and she shouldn't be taken seriously.  If her peers had the guts, they'd be telling her to step down as a Senate chair. 

Still on the illegal spying,  Kevin Poulsen (Wired) noted yesterday afternoon:

The latest published leak from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lays bare classified details of the U.S. government’s $52.6 billion intelligence budget, and makes the first reference in any of the Snowden documents to a “groundbreaking” U.S. encryption-breaking effort targeted squarely at internet traffic.
Snowden, currently living in Russia under a one-year grant of asylum, passed The Washington Post the 178-page intelligence community budget request for fiscal year 2013. Among the surprises reported by Post writers Barton Gellman and Greg Miller is that the CIA receives more money than the NSA: $14.7 billion for the CIA, versus $10.8 billion for the NSA. Until this morning it’s generally been believed that the geeky NSA, with its basements full of supercomputers, dwarfed its human-oriented counterparts.

 As Mike pointed out, the $52 billion yearly budget is more than NASA gets in 2014 or more than the FBI's requested for '14 -- and also more than NASA and the FBI combined.  For Abby Ohlesier (The Atlantic), the key detail from the latest revelations is:

The Washington Post followed up the release of the super-secret NSA "Black Budget" on Thursday with another detail from the leaked intelligence budget: American companies who provide the agency access to their communications networks are often paid for their trouble. It's called the Corporate Partner Access Project, and carries a yearly budget of $278 million.

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