Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fearful Dems play politics of cowardice

By Libby
Updated below

I haven't been able to find the words today to express my disappointment and disgust with the Democrat's cave-in to Bush's bullyism. I'm speaking of course of the House's meekly following in the Senate's footsteps and legalizing the illegal White House domestic surveillance program.

Balkinization put it well.
The passage of the new FISA bill by the Senate and now the House demonstrates that the Democrats stand neither for defending civil liberties nor for checking executive power.

They stand for nothing at all.

So did the Xsociate.
The only thing worse than a Congress that rubberstamps because of loyalty to party is one that rubberstamps out of fear.

And fear what is what this was about. Pure political cowardice on the parts of the Dems in the face of the relentless hubris of the president. Oh, they tried to put a pretty face on it.
The Senate bill was needed, aides said, because of restrictions recently imposed by the FISA court on the ability of spy agencies to intercept communications.

What part of illegal do the Dems not understand? If a court won't write off on these expanded powers, in a secret decision we wouldn't even known about if Boehner hadn't spilled the beans, what makes the Democrats think they should underwrite it?

One Democratic traitor to civil liberties justifies her vote by saying the intelligence community is concerned about increased chatter on terrorist networks.
"I am concerned as well," Feinstein said. "We are living in a period of heightened vulnerability and must give the intelligence community the tools they need."

They've been saying that periodically for five years. This is the same intelligence community that allowed our president to lie to us about WMDs despite their own doubts. So she thinks we can believe them now -- why?

Stupid and gutless. There was no reason to cave in on this except of fear of political risk (and protect their vacation plans). God forbid that this time there really is an attack, they don't want to be blamed by the GOP. Idiots. They're going to be blamed anyway. For everything that went wrong in this adminstration. That's just the GOP's style and they have guilt transference down to an art.

In the end Larisa Alexandrovna best sums up what's so very wrong and in fact dangerous about this spineless passing of a bad bill.
Make NO mistake, we are in serious peril when an Attorney General who has subverted the Constitution per request of his boss, lied, obstructed justice, and defended torture, is now in full authority to declare who is going to be a target of warrant-less surveillance. You may not see this as seriously as I do, but then again, you have not lived under a dictatorship to know the difference. Mostly though, the people who failed most, are the citizens of this country - who should have taken to the streets and shut down all commerce, all traffic, and disengaged from the machine of government. You did not shut it down. You did not even try. You waited as your hopes were put entirely in the hands of cowards.

Anybody who thinks the White House is going to sit by for the next six months and will not abuse this carte blanche to spy on Americans, is not facing reality. As Larissa says, with this we have officially become a police state. Bush doesn't even need the jackboots to enforce his will when he can cow the Congress with an idle threat into giving him everything he wants.

Update: Orin Kerr at Volokh analyzes the decision. Short version: Well yeah, I kind of tepidly support it if they really only use it to target foreign calls and because it's temporary, even though it appears that the authorization lasts a year even though they say it sunsets in six months. Otherwise it's a civil liberties disaster.

What I get out Orin's post is there's a comically weak review system of oversight, that he thinks the court will somehow apply more strictly than the the broad language would indicate. They pretty much have an open season on eavesdropping, which may not survive a Fourth Amendment challenge -- assuming you want to wait four years or so for it to wind its way through the judicial process -- but otherwise there's no real statutory protection of privacy. They don't need a warrant to spy on you.

And the best part is the telcoms'participation is mandatory so they can't be sued for complying but neither can they, as an act of conscience, refuse to comply. That's good news for the big telcos that have already dumped tons of data into the government's lap. For those few companies that answered to a higher ethical and constitutional standard, not so much.

Larissa is still right. We've just turned the corner into the police state. If you can't imagine what Bush and Cheney might do with unfettered power to spy on Americans. Well -- I can, and it's not a comforting thought.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A handy guide to those who voted "yes" and their home pages:

7:14:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks for the link. I wish someone would do a list with just the Dems though. My House guy is good. He votes on my side on most issues. But I don't follow the house enough to know all the Dems on the list.

It would useful to know the party designations.

9:49:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think that the Dems are just afraid that the GOP and that "great decider" fella would start to call them unpatriotic, or un-American, or caving in to the terrorists, or weak on national defense, or something like that.

Oh, wait.....

4:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the ptroblem is none of the democrats ahve anything resembling a vision for americas future. ther republicans don't either, so they just sort of hold their nose and go along with bushes, which is invade everybody, turn the US intoa police state so it can churn out weapons for infinity.

Democrats want out of iraq and sense that this is a bad policy, but they are liberals, so they still believe in nation building and the government protecting the people.

vote ron paul. pulling out of iraq and giving us back our privacy are pointless without a pledge to be a differen kind of country, one that belives in peace anf freedom, not being a SParta surrounded by countries that hate it. Israel, that's what we're becoming

4:51:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL MW. Exactly. I'm still so angry I'm spittin nails.

Lester, I do admire your commitment to your candidate. I may end up voting for him yet. I don't really care who wins on the Dem side. I don't love any of them, I could live with them all. I'm going to register as an Independent in protest of the this latest sellout of the Dems and the registrar here tells me I can vote in either primary that way. I may just vote for Paul just to make a statement.

But it's still a long way to the voting booth. I don't what I'm going to do yet.

8:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

libby- first let me apologize for the unusual even for me number of spelling errors in that post. wow.

second, I don't care about ron paul the candidate at all. I care about one thing: getting the US out of the middle east. If Joe Lieberman, who I despise, ran for president with that position I would vote for him. terrorism is a business that thrives on our interventionism.

But , I realize you aren't a conservative so it wouldn't make all that much sense for you to vote for Dr paul outside of this one issue and I know you also agree with his anti drug war stuff.

11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Actually I agree with Paul on a number of issues but I disagree just as strongly on others. It's not inconceivable to me that I would vote in the GOP primary just to give him a vote. But as I say, it's a long way to primary day.

8:09:00 PM  

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