Looks like it was business as usual today in Congress, where Democratic and Republican senators agreed to approve a grant of legal immunity to telecom companies that have gone along with the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The Washington Post reported that the deal was reached after Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, decided to withdraw a competing bill that did not grant such sweeping immunity. Power in the government is supposed to be split amongst the branches, but the president has accumulated so much power since the Sept. 11 attacks that the usual checks on executivve power are not operating. President Bush has no respect for the traditions of power that have characterized the American democracy for over 200 years, and the Democrats seem powerless to reassert themselves, despite taking majorities in both houses of Congress after the November election. The Democrats, who lack the votes in the Senate to stop filibusters, continue to be cowed by Republican threats to portray them as weak on terrorism.