Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Can You Say?

The deed was done. Yesterday the Senate passed the FISA bill that exculpated the telecommunication companies from complying with the Bush Administrations patently illegal requests to eavesdrop and drag net communications with warrants. The Congress humbly asks the corporations to please not do this again, here are the new rules which nicely round over the oh-so-tough edges of the old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which we negated at our President's request for you. And if you could, we'll be running for election this fall so if you could drop a few dimes into our campaign coffers, well, it'd be much appreciated.

So very sad.

Equally depressing is the major media's coverage of the affair. Rarely will the popular press allude to the entire illegality of what Bush officials did outside of the rule of law. As is mentioned in the original FISA, it is a severe penalty to infringe this law which is the only means of spying on electronic communication when connecting one dot outside of the United States to a dot inside the country. Up to five years imprisonment, up to a ten-thousand dollar fine -- per offense. Did they do it? Yes. Did they admit to this in public? Of course, as they mentioned it many times branding it the 'Terrorist Surveillance Program' when word leaked out. If the public heard any discourse on this matter, it was more then likely that they would hear it couched in terms of "listening to terrorists making phone calls to Afghanistan," rather then an illegal communications sweep.

As it is today, that goes by the wayside. It doesn't matter what it is called, what it was called, as Congress has seen fit to remove civil liability from corrupted corporations involved in the affair, and revise the FISA law to mete out exactly what the President wanted. Do we know the details of this? Of course not, neither did some 70 Senators who voted to sweep this under the rug. Why bother with the nagging details of criminal affairs? What is best is that we put this behind us. The fourth amendment in the Constitution hasn't been updated to current technologies, it may be better to remove it entirely in a few years with an even more compliant and malleable Congress.

What a stain. A Democratic Congress deserves the credit here; the Republicans could only be so giddy to march in almost a near-unanimous fashion (one lone Republican in Congress voted against it in the House, Tim Johnson IL-15) behind this bill. This bill couldn't even come out of a Republican controlled House and Senate in the 109th Congress.

There really are no words to describe this capitulation as Sen. Feingold aptly described it. They just don't do the insult justice.

Friday, July 04, 2008

America Turns 232

A happy 4th of July, 2008, to you America.


There are several things that just don't seem right about the United States. Much like a trash can collecting far too many flies on a hot summer's day, the contents emanate a foul smell as of late. Unfortunately the contents in the rubbish heap have been added to again and again since 2001 under the Bush Administration with a little help from his friends and the public at large.

Guantanamo Bay and the absence of legality and international norms. Warrantless fishing expeditions by the state on American citizens under the guise of security. Countless dead conducted over the course of two major foreign occupations. 

Was this really what distinguished the American experiment from the rest of the world's governments? Was this institution supposed to trundle its way into oblivion on the meat hooks of public passivity and egregious defense department budgets?

I'm incredibly depressed by all of this. It doesn't end with all that flies in the face of Constitutional government either, but those are for another post. It just seems terribly difficult to continue a celebration when this should be a period of mourning, a time when we reflect on how nice it was to have a government Of the People, By the People, and For the People.

This year starts a new tradition: actually reading the Constitution of the United States of America. One more Republican term and the whole document will possibly look, (what was the word so popular in 2001? ah yes) - quaint.

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."
- Mark Twain