Thursday, July 10, 2008

"This really is a black mark, not only on Democrats, but on the Congress, and the history of the United States."

How are you feeling today? I'm not feeling great. I spent three hours at the dentist today, and considered that a welcome respite from the news yesterday.

What news? I understand. You might have missed it. Based on television coverage, it was only the third most important story yesterday. The most important political story yesterday was Rev. Jesse Jackson caught making crude remarks about Obama on an open microphone. The second most important story was John McCain joking about cigarette exports killing Iranians. The third most important story was our elected representatives voting to gut 4th Amendment protections that have been afforded Americans since the founding of the country and the crafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Who cares? After all, what could the Founding Fathers possibly know about the need to protect individual civil liberties against the over-reach of power by a unitary executive? Clearly our Congress and President (and the two senators who want to be our next President) know better than the founders which of our civil liberties we really need today. So protections that have been in place for over two hundred years are now less than they were. Domestic surveillance activities by our government that were illegal yesterday, are legal today (or as soon as GWB signs it into law).

I am not going to belabor this as I have beat this to death in previous posts and comments here, and at Donklephant. I'll make one more point - When smart people on the right, left, and academia agree that this is a very bad bill that erodes our freedom and constitutional protections, it does not mean this is a good compromise. It means this is a very bad bill that erodes our freedom and constitutional protections.

No, I'm not feeling great. I feel about the way the dispirited Senator Russ Feingold looks in this interview on MSNBC's Countdown yesterday, where he says:
"This is a sad moment, it really is a black mark, not only on Democrats, but on the Congress, and the history of the United States. This is one of the greatest assaults on the Constitution in the history of our country."- Russ Feingold
C'mon Russ! Lighten up! It's only the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Sheesh....



Some thoughts on this interview. Feingold expresses a hope that a future Congress will take this up and restore our Fourth Amendment protections. You tell me - What do you think the likelihood that any President or Congress will voluntarily reopen this political can of worms?

I actually believe it will happen, but not without a powerful catalyst, and it won't be pretty. It will happen only after the inevitable abuse of these new powers are revealed to the American people.

Why inevitable? Because every single expansion of government power over citizens is ultimately abused by those entrusted with that power. I don't know when that will happen, but I know it will happen.

Outrage over executive branch abuse of eavesdropping and domestic surveillance was the reason for the original FISA legislation in 1978. When FISA was modified by the Patriot Act, the loosened restrictions were immediately abused by the FBI, and that abuse continued for years. With these even looser restrictions, there will be more abuse. It is only a question of time, a question of how the abuse will be revealed, and a question of how badly and how many Americans must be hurt before enough outrage forces Congress to act. Perhaps the abuse will happen under President Obama. Perhaps the abuse will happen under President McCain. Perhaps it will happen under a President four or eight or twelve years from now. It will happen.

It is also interesting that Feingold declined to answer Maddow's question about the real liklihood of an Obama presidency pursuing criminal liability against the Telcos and administration officials that broke the law. This, as you may recall, was Obama's CYA fig leaf rationalization for explicitly breaking his promise to filibuster any FISA provision that included Telecom immunity. Feingold did not decline to answer because he does not know the answer. He knows. He knows that Obama is being disingenuous and there is no possibility of a criminal prosecution for law-breaking activity that Congress just made legal.

No, I don't feel great. I particularly don't like the idea of contributing or supporting either of the Tweedledum Tweedledee presidential candidates who have so little respect for our Constitution and the civil liberties of Americans.

Contributions? Instead of the candidates, I'll make contributions to organizations like the Strange Bedfellows Alliance, a progressive / libertarian alliance that will target legislators that voted to reduce my freedoms. Since the Executive and Legislative branch have no respect for the Constitution, I can only hope the Judicial branch will. The ACLU and Electronic Freedom Foundation are going to test the constitutionality of this law in the courts. I've never contributed to the ACLU before, but I will now and I will get behind this program and suggest you do also.

There. I feel a little better now.


x-posted at Donklephant, and - as usual - some interesting comments are to be found there.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


1 comment:

Adam Pieniazek said...

Don't forget President Nader or President Paul or President Mckinney [etc.]! Ignoring them is almost as bad as the media ignoring the FISA bill.

I for one am not outraged nor disappointed, I fully expect the Demopublicans and Republocrats to continue their assault on our rights and to continue expanding their government. The retroactive immunity is just as illegal as the warrant-less wiretapping it's covering up and that's the one bit that does piss me off, that congress passes immunity without any major coverage by the media, and for good reason. I'm quite sure the media, congress, and the executive branch are all in this mess together and none of them want to be outed in the public eye so immunity is pushed through.

Personally, I agree (partially) with Senator Clinton that the Republicans should withdraw from the Presidential election, but also think the Democrats should do likewise. In fact, the two parties should be banned completely from taking part in any elections this year.