Thursday, July 10, 2008

I may stay home in November

Sometimes I wonder why I vote for anyone at all, let alone Democrats.

I am not a registered Democrat; I never have been, and I never will be. I am, in the parlance of Massachusetts, unenrolled. But I am exceedingly liberal, and Democrats simply happen to be the only viable choice when I step into the booth every other November. It's just that, lately, I've been holding my nose when I black those little circles with my choice.

Now I wonder why I bother at all. The Democrats who control Congress have just allowed to pass into law a bill which will legalize the White House's practice of conducting illegal wiretaps; and will forever immunize the telecommunication businesses which have been abetting these criminals acts.

This is not a kooky rant or a left-wing polemic. The NSA, at the directive of the White House, has been breaking the law since at least 2005. The text of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution is quite specific:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The text of FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which this wiretapping has proceeded, is equally specific:
A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally -- (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; ...

An offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
So to sum up, it is a violation of our Constitutional rights to be spied on without a warrant. It is specifically illegal, according to FISA, to spy on someone without a warrant. And the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which passed with barely a jitter through a Democrat-controlled Congress, has just ignored the Constitution and made it legal to continue spying on Americans without a warrant; and blithely dismissed the 40 lawsuits pending against AT&T, Verizon, and the other telecoms which assisted our government's criminal activities.

To say I'm disgusted would be something of an understatement.

Disgusted, yes, but hardly surprised. That Bush is a disgrace to his office; that he is without argument the worst President in our nation's history; that he is a criminal, a liar, and an utter buffoon -- there's no shock there. But that the Democrats, the party allegedly given control of Congress in November of 2006 to bring about the changes the voters so desperately wanted, would so willingly cave in the most spineless manner possible, is simply astonishing....and completely predictable.

That old "Republicans are evil/Democrats are stupid" mantra has never been more true than it is today. Since 9/11, Democrats have been terrified of opposing right-wing efforts to, basically, do whatever the hell they wanted, for fear of appearing "weak" in the fight against terror. What they have accomplished instead of not appearing weak, is appearing like they stand for nothing at all. They are the opposition party which supports the other side; they are the opposition party which does not oppose anything.

And I'm not alone in that sentiment, it seems, since a recent Rasmussen poll reports that only about 9% of Americans think Congress is going a good or excellent job. 9%. Only 13% of registered Democrats think Congress is doing a good or excellent job.

I cannot fathom why the Democrats given control of Congress have chosen to betray the voters who put them there, and I cannot fathom why they have chosen to betray all Americans by allowing the Bush White House's criminal activities to continue unchecked. They are a disgrace to their office, no less than Bush is a disgrace to his. And Barack Obama, who back in October released a statement vowing to " a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies," completely turned his coat by adding his "yea" to the bill which passed on Tuesday.

I'd say the odds that these new powers won't be abused at some point in the future are pretty close to zero; and that we won't hear about it until it's far too late to do anything. The saddest thing, I believe, is that supporters of actions like these simply don't care. It's not like they're acknowledging the inherent dangers but arguing exigent circumstances -- they don't care. Like their support for invading a country that didn't attack us, and torturing prisoners, they simply don't care.

It's astounding how far my love for my country has diverged from the utter loathing I feel for my government.

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