Thursday, February 14, 2008


Tuesday was a hard day for me. After the FISA debacle in the Senate, I wanted to scream and cry. I knew I was going to have a hard time practicing what had become a daily routine.

Some months ago I added a new discipline. For years I have kept a journal of the previous day’s activities, writing on the morning after because I don’t feel creative at the end of the day. From an article in a popular magazine I was looking at while waiting for my wife in the doctor’s office, I decided to write a paragraph in my account of each day that contained those things for which I had felt gratitude the day before.

The list is not profound. It is an earnest effort to remember the things for which I actually felt grateful—our Manx cat, who came to us as a feral kitten to foster that we couldn’t give up, now waiting outside my bedroom door every morning to be petted as I come out; the irrepressible enthusiasm of the three American Eskimo puppies orphaned at birth that my wife has fostered since they were two days old; the gesture of my wife for something unexpected, like saying that she was going to cook a special Valentine’s Day dinner for me and what did I want; a dinner of fellowship with good friends; and you name it.

What I discovered is that the discipline was a buffer against all of the crap and negative stuff that goes on in the world every day. Simplistic? Maybe, but it is a daily reminder that I am in debt to so many others and that I stand on the shoulders of many, named and unnamed, who have gone before me.

It has not been difficult to find things which happened the day before for which I was grateful.

Not until yesterday when I read
McJoan’s report (posted at 10:49a PST), about how eighteen Democrats “who were willing to sell out your Constitutional rights to protect the telcos.” Then, she listed them. To say that I was angry at the vote would be a gross understatement. I was enraged! It occurred to me that for the first time since the week after Thanksgiving, I was going to have a hard time with my gratitude list.

Then, at 2:49p McJoan posted her report, “Final Vote.” She wrote:

Despite the bitter disappointment many of us feel tonight, take a bit of heart in this--we could have lost everything in December, if Chris Dodd hadn't mobilized a massive grassroots effort against it. And in view of that, here are the 31 Senate heroes who have stood with Dodd on telco amnesty, and who will continue to. Thank you, Senators.

And then she named all thirty-one. My anger at the eighteen who crossed over wasn’t asuaged, nor was my sadness for our country mitigated, but McJoan reminded me of the importance of gratitude for those who stood fast.

That wasn’t the only thing for which I was grateful on Tuesday. On Sunday, I had
written about how the debate in the Senate on FISA was a place where our two Democratic presidential candidates should be demonstrating leadership. I am grateful that on primary day in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Obama chose to be present and voted on the amendments. He was not present for the final vote on cloture, but by then the issue had been decided. Unfortunately, Clinton was on her way to Texas and absent for all of the votes.

McJoan updated her report with the final vote, 68-29, or as she called it, “dereliction of duty by 69 senators.”

Today, my attention has been on HR 2082 and Section 327 (the anti-torture provision). How could any member of Congress not vote to forbid torture? 45 of them did, including one of the original voices against torture, John McCain. But 51 voted for the Conference Report that included Section 327. I am grateful for those 51 senators, even though a bunch of them were among those who failed to stand up on FISA. I’m also grateful that President Bush will have to decide if he wants to veto this bill, instead of having his mineons in the Senate do his dirty work—although, goodness knows, enough of them tried. I’m grateful that Senator Smith was one of the five Republicans who crossed over to vote against torture along with our other Senator, Wyden.

This evening I learned that 222 House members rejected a Republican attempt to substitute the Senate’s FISA bill for their own. The proposal for a 21-day extension failed, but a press release from Speaker Pelosi’s office saying that she was willing for the current bill to expire on Friday. We’ll see what happens, but I am grateful for all of the Senators and Representatives who stood up yesterday and today.

My thanks to McJoan for reminding me to be grateful!
- Milo

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