August 02, 2007

Breaking point

Is it just me, or has our government finally stepped beyond the bounds of sanity? From Tuesday's New York Times (emphasis mine):
Under pressure from President Bush, Democratic leaders in Congress are scrambling to pass legislation this week to expand the government's electronic wiretapping powers.

Democratic leaders have expressed a new willingness to work with the White House to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make it easier for the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on some purely foreign telephone calls and e-mail. Such a step now requires court approval.

As I've been moaning for the last six months, I don't even know what to say any more. I guess digby comes fairly close to summarizing my stupefied incredulity, writing yesterday:
Let's set aside the idea that "trusting" the Bush administration with warrantless wiretaps is like trusting your four year old with a zippo lighter, what kind of bucket-of-lukewarm-spit kind of politics is this? What are they afraid of, that the Bush administration will blame them if a terrorist attack occurs and they didn't approve another blank check? Guess what? It wouldn't matter if the Democrats named Bush king with the power to draw and quarter hippies and Muslims on the white house lawn, they will still blame the Democrats if there is another terrorist attack.

I do not know what this latest program is, but whatever it is, it needs to be approved by somebody other than the White House. I'm sorry, but that should be non-negotiable. Dick Cheney has delegated to himself virtually limitless power and he is borderline insane. The executive branch cannot be trusted with additional power of any kind. They have quite enough, thank you.

Here we are trying to pry from the Bush administration just what in the hell was in the "other intelligence activities" they were doing before the entire upper management of the Department of Justice threatened to resign, and the Dems are now publicly capitulating to white house demands that they give them more warrantless surveillance powers --- and Harry Reid is whining about how he hopes the Republicans will work with him? Talk about muddying the waters. The substance is nuts and the politics are nuts.
Maybe, better still, I'll just yield to journalist Larisa Alexandrovna, who penned this open letter at HuffPo to Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
I know you are eager to get to your month long, paid vacation - something our soldiers do not get and something the voting public does not get either. But if you are going to leave the country unsupervised while you are gone, the least you can do is not pass something as serious as an expansion of surveillance powers for the Decider as you head off to get your last tan of the summer.

Ms. Pelosi, you have said that you are working to reach an agreement with the White House sometime this week. Pray tell, what is it that you need to agree to that will justify anything this administration promises in exchange?

You have already taken impeachment off the table, something you have no right or authority to do, as your oath of office should remind you on a daily basis. But you have unilaterally decided that no matter what the public wants, it is your opinion on this that is important, when in fact your opinion means nothing outside your duty.

Instead of going on a vacation, you should be babysitting Congressional chambers so that this duplicitous administration does not make any more recess appointments, such as, perhaps, a new Attorney General?

You should be on the House floor daily to make sure that a deranged mad-man you refuse to remove from office does not launch an illegal war against yet another country. You should be investigating if and why a Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, was really framed by the Rove machine - as many people believe - in order to make room for the White House sanctioned candidate in Alabama...

You should be working day and night to set right what is still wrong in New Orleans.

You should be demanding to know what happened to over $9 billion dollars of OUR money gone missing under this administration in Iraq, a sizable amount that no Executive Branch official can "recall" and something Congress appears to be barely interested in locating.

You should be doing something, anything but going on vacation. In short, you should be the leader that you were elected to be.

Instead, your last concern before you head off on a month long vacation is how to best compromise with this administration on something as sacrosanct as OUR rights and liberties. No. We have compromised enough and we go no further.
Within the last two weeks alone, George the Younger has issued two stunning decrees, expanding Executive power to unprecedented, absurd, and downright dangerous levels.

He has given renewed blessing to an official U.S. policy of torture against prisoners in our custody, a betrayal of the most basic tenets of simple human decency, let alone the international treaties we've sworn to uphold.

He continues to debase the concept of a government accountable to its people - not to mention pushing the limits of doublespeak - by hiding behind a disingenuous definition of "Executive Privilege" in both the U.S. Attorney scandal and the Pat Tillman investigation - all while claiming that the White House was not involved in either situation (can somebody tell me exactly how that works?).

And that's just for starters. Our Attorney General is an incompetent liar and perjurer. Our top military commanders (or at least those who've survived this Administration's partisan vetting process) are clearly delusional. Our court system is hopelessly politicized. Our poor and middle class citizens are under relentless economic assault as a result of Conservative greed, irresponsibility, and cronyism. Our airwaves and "information" sources are still dominated by the prognostications of "analysts" and neo-con pundits whose every prediction has been proven wrong for the past 6 years.

And our one last defense against the madness of King George and his tail-wagging disciples - the Congress - is paralyzed by orchestrated Republican obstructionism and complicit Democratic cowardice.

We're at the breaking point, America. We've reached the edge of that proverbial cliff, where it increasingly looks like the only option available to those true patriots who honor the things which make America "America" is open revolution. By God, the times demand at least a 60s-style sit-in on the Capitol floor.

But unlike the revered (sorry, couldn't help it) colonists who founded this nation, unlike the "Greatest Generation" that sucked it up and fought a horrific world war to protect our freedoms, unlike even the flower children and civil rights marchers who risked life and limb to force a change in our foreign and domestic policies, I don't hold out much hope that the ire of our complacent citizenry will be aroused as it should be, or that our outrage will manifest itself in any tangible action.

Not as long as our air-conditioning and i-phones still work. Not as long as there's still gas for our Hummers and Navigators, and 900 channels on the tube. Not as long as we hide our collective head in the sand of boundless creature comforts, convincing ourselves that things can't really be "that bad" if we can still get that 50" plasma set on credit.

Not as long as the insanity of our alleged leaders only affects "the other guy."

Make no mistake, kids. We're witnessing the rapid death of our grand democratic experiment, and pretending that if we just shut our eyes reeeeeeeal tight until 2008 things will magically improve. But that simply won't cut it. It's obvious that no help is coming, no cavalry charging over the hill, no deus ex machina to do the heavy lifting for us.

We're on our own. What, I wonder, are we really willing to do about it?

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