Strange and evil days, beloveds. People one admired seem to be wimping out on impeachment, illegal surveillance, funding an imperial war, and handing everything available to the corporations, then promising more.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers was one bright spot during the Dark Ages from 2000 to 2006; now he’s ragging on us for opposing the RESTORE bill.
To those who say that the bill is too weak on civil liberties, I say that if you trust an independent court and have faith in congressional oversight, those liberties will not be jeopardized. That is the premise our democracy was founded on, and that is exactly what this bill does.
I agree, our republic was founded on that premise. But how does that apply to our situation today?
The Cheney administration has packed the courts with relatively young right-wing authoritarians; they’re anything but independent. Congressional oversight hit its lowest point in our history during the first six years of the current administration; unfortunately it has improved only a little since then. Congress’s actions don’t seem to be such as would deserve my faith.
It is possible, I suppose, that this is a gambit by the Democratic leadership. Here’s what I’d like to think.
Suppose the White House were to relate the Adventures of the Telecoms in Surveillance Land, which I believe is what the Democrats demanded in return for a two-year extension of the hateful and unconstitutional law that’s expiring. If that information came out, it would probably show that most of our phone calls and emails have been surveilled since (at least) 9/11. People like Charlie Savage, Dana Priest, Warren Strobel, and Jonathan Landay would quickly find links to other disquieting data, and demands for actual Congressional oversight would surge. Thus, I argue that the chance of the administration telling Congress the story of the telecoms approaches zero.
The original bill was a Constitutional abomination, which the Democrats passed — let’s not forget it was the Democrats who decided to make that bill the law of the land — as they huddled in fear of the Imperial President and his 30% approval ratings. The right thing to do is clearly and unambiguously to let it lapse and spend the money and effort on something useful.
If there are any Democrats who feel that way, but are unsure about the public reaction if they say it overtly, they might find it convenient to support a bill they know the White House will find unacceptable. In such a case the bill would probably die in the Senate, where McConnell’s crew would make sure the President wasn’t forced to veto it. The Democrats would be able to say they’d offered the President what he wanted and he turned it down.
The strategy might work. But I’m pretty sure it’s not the Democrats’ actual strategy, because it would take some courage and some foresight, the ability to withstand a rhetorical onslaught from a bunch of incompetent warmongers.
And the only thing the Democrats complain about is the incompetent part.