Authors note: This is a repost from my blog Progressive World Review
In an ironic twist of fate, a long time public servant was recently forced into early retirement for refusing to lower the flag to half-mast in honor of his state’s deceased senator, Jesse Helms,
This is in no way a political decision. I simply do not feel it is appropriate to honor a person whose epitaph of government service was to have voted against or blocked every civil rights issue that came before the US Congress. His doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice cost North Carolina and our Nation much that we may never regain.
What makes this ironic is, the flag should be lowered, not in deference to a racist bigot but in memoriam to our Constitution which was dealt a serious blow today.
The controversial update to FISA was passed by the Senate today in a 69 to 28 vote. Three amendments designed to mitigate some of the worst aspects of this bill were all defeated so the bill moves, intact, to a gleeful president eager to sign it into law.
Theoretically, when it’s discovered that the president has broken the law heads roll, especially when the law in question is as serious this. Violating FISA was not only a felony; it violated the fourth amendment to the Constitution that prohibits unwarranted search and seizure. When a president commits this level of lawlessness, impeachment is in order, especially given that we impeached a president for lying about an extra-marital affair, something that wasn’t anybodies business to begin with and had absolutely no effect on the American people, whereas Bush’s crimes were in direct violation of the Constitution and the rule of law in general. So what are the consequences for this egregious breach of the public trust? The oppositional controlled Congress passes legislation that not only legalizes his actions after the fact, they provide full, retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that helped Bush violate our rights.
Is it any wonder that Congresses approval ratings are even lower than the president’s,
The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.
It would be bad enough if this was simply another example of cowardice from the Democratic Party, but even worse, rather than passing this legislation to avoid accusations of being weak on terrorism, it seems that they actually agree with this bill. The Republican brand is in the toilet, voters gave control of Congress to the Democrats in protest of the Republican style of governing, Democrats recently won three special elections in districts that normally go to Republicans, all of this demonstrates rather clearly that voters are no longer buying the Republican scare tactics so why then are the Democrats so eager to capitulate to Bush? Fear may account for a small portion but with no real price to pay, (Democrats are poised to pick up Congressional seats rather than lose them), the only logical conclusion is that many Democrats actually wanted this bill to pass. It’s not as if the tremendous grassroots opposition to this bill went unnoticed in the Senate. This is what Chris Dodd, one of the most strident opponents, along with Russ Feingold, of this bill, (h/t Glenn Greenwald)
Lastly, I want to thank the thousands who joined with us in this fight around the country — those who took to the blogs, gathered signatures for online petitions and created a movement behind this issue. Men and women, young and old, who stood up, spoke out and gave us the strength to carry on this fight. Not one of them had to be involved, but each choose to become involved for one reason and one reason alone: Because they love their country. They remind us that the “silent encroachments of those in power” Madison spoke of can, in fact, be heard, if only we listen.
And for all those who have pinned their hopes on Obama to bring about change to Washington, Obama has proven yet again he’s a part of the problem rather than the solution. Obama did vote in favor of the amendment that would have stripped telecom immunity from the bill but he did so with the certainty that it was going to fail anyway. And if he was so genuinely opposed to this why then did he vote in favor of the bill’s passage. And even more telling, prior to the vote on the bill, Obama voted in favor of cloture thus ending all debate on the floor and shutting down the possibility of a filibuster, a filibuster he once unambiguously pledged to support. This is from an Obama spokesperson, (h/t Glenn Greenwald) (emphasis original)
To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
As hopeless as it may seem, now is not the time to give up the fight. The ACLU has vowed to bring this to the courts as soon as it’s signed into law and they’re soliciting signatures for a full page ad they’re planning to take out in protest. Additionally, money is being collected to help challenge the Democratic candidates who have been so eager to trash our Constitution. “Now is the time for all good men [and women] to come to the aid of the party [and the Constitution]” so please help support this cause, there may be none more important.
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