That's Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
Let me preface this by saying that I didn't vote for her, don't like her, and don't support her. That said, she is one of my representatives in the Senate, so I accept she won the election and deal with her when necessary.
Yesterday, however, my patience broke. You see, there's a bill going before the Senate to reauthorize the Patriot Act, with a bunch of extra crap thrown in for good measure. George "Its just a god damn piece of paper" Bush wants this bill - and why not? It gives him dictatorial powers by keeping us in a constant state of war, therefore making his role as commander and chief supreme to just about everything else.
The reauthorization bill passed the House, narrowly I hear, and is on it's way to the Senate. Some key senators are trying to fight with a filibuster, while others are fighting back pushing for a cloture vote, which would kill the filibuster and push the bill through the Senate.
Being a concerned citizen and unable to cast my own vote on this issue, I sent e-mails to both Patty Murray (my other Senator) and Maria Cantwell, urging them to vote against cloture and not to pass this bill. You can read about that on the ACLU web site.
Then, watching the news last night, I caught a story on the Iraqi elections going on. Who do I see in the background, acting as an observer but Senator Maria Cantwell. She's not in Washington to cast a vote - she's in Iraq making sure the votes cast there are fair.
In other words, instead of being in Washington protecting the rights of American citizens, she's in a foreign country making sure their rights are being protected.
The job description for a U.S. Senator is listed in the Constitution, and nowhere does it say, "Uphold and protect the rights of citizens of foreign lands on other sovereign nations".
I don't know how the Senate votes, but if she cannot cast a vote from Iraq, then she has abandoned her post. Should the new Patriot Act make it through the Senate while she's away and she doesn't cast a vote, I think she should be allowed to be away from Washington D.C. as much as possible after the next election by voting for someone who will be around when the shit hits the fan.
Just checked MSNBC (at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10485860/) - the Senate did their duty, by god, and rejected cloture, killing the bill until they could work some more civili liberty protections into it. Of course, the best protection they could add would be absolutely nothing - let the damn things sunset in a few weeks, and let's go back to the way things were before. Won't happen, but a boy can dream, can't he...
As an interesting aside, the vote was 52-47 - that adds up to 99. There are 100 Senators, 2 from each state. Whose was the vote that didn't get cast? The vote lists aren't up on the www.senate.gov website yet - once I see who didn't cast a vote, I'll post it here.
Patty Murray did vote against the bill - marks for her. She also has a statement about it on her website at http://murray.senate.gov/news.cfm?id=249858. Cantwell's last blurb on her site? Some socialist crap about oil exec's not being honest with Congress about fuel oil prices - apparently, she didn't like the answers she got before, so she asked, and asked again. The press release was about her asking again. Maybe while she's in Iraq, she can bring back some oil for the poor folk - isn't that why our troops are there, to get the oil?