Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy August: you hope



Welcome to August! The month of devastating hurricanes, searing heat... and the month when Congress takes a little 'recess' and leaves the nation's capitol unguarded.

A few days ago I received a 'warning' email about a new bill the GOP was trying to shove through Congress before the recess bell.

The bill (HR 3138) offered by Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) redefines the meaning of 'electronic surveillance.' Her new definition subtly would expand the NSA's access to the telephone conversations and e-mail communications of Americans who have no connection to Al Qaeda or terrorism: and one party doesn't even have to be outside of the United States.

As long as you're not the subject of a search, you should feel relief, right? Wrong. According to H.R. 3138, as long as the government doesn't target a specific person with "electronic surveillance," it should be able to search anyone's phone and email conversations. This bill is being given a hard push before the August recess, with the assumption that any member of Congress who doesn't vote for it isn't willing to do all that it takes to stop terrorism, even though the Administration has refused repeatedly to provide key information to Congress on its NSA wiretapping program(s).

This one is particularly chilling, if in fact it has anything to do with whatever Bush and Gonzo are already hiding (and of course, we don't know yet.) That anyone is willing to vote on anything right now, without knowing what the White House is hiding, would be Patriot Act knee jerk all over again (and we know that one plays out for the American people and our Constitution.)

According to the email from the The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Bush administration is warning that if the Democratically controlled Congress fails to take this action before recess, it 'will be blamed for any terrorist attacks that may happen while they are gone.'

Where have I heard that one before?

Oh that's right, this is Chertoff's gut again. And Rick Santorum's solution to our misguided, anti-Iraq sentiment (because of course seeing 'them' attack us here will convince us that fighting them over there has made us safer over here... um, huh?)

Oh yes, the GOP is once again standing on a chair and screaming 'the terrorists are coming!' And it appears we are to believe they they are coming while Congress is away. Within the span of one month. When we haven't had any terrorist attacks within the country since 9-11. And this so that they can get even more power to spy on American citizens while refusing to come clean about the spying they've already done.

And of course, this means the obstructionist GOP, is suddenly producing bills that must be signed and passed immediately (unlike removing Gonzo the perjurer) before anyone leaves town. Democrats must guard against these terrorists now; quickly, knee-jerk-like, right now! Don't think -- just sign! Oh, and trust us (wink wink, nudge nudge.) And the Democrats will probably do it too. Not because they fear the attack as much as they fear being BLAMED for an attack if they don't allow Bush to spy on us again.

This is beginning to remind me of the Sopranos. Congress paying protection money in the form of domestic spying bills?

I'm sorry... how strange to imagine terrorists actually sitting around waiting for scary Congress to leave town before striking.

It now seems obvious to me that if Congress is such an effective deterrent of terrorism, they should cancel recess and stay in Washington. Obviously if they stay in town, the blame for any terrorist attack will remain with the White House, where it belongs (after all we're fighting them 'over there,' right?)

Besides, they have the White House (almost, kinda) on the ropes. They can charge forward and pursue the Constitutional crisis already in progress. When the momentum shifts in your favor, you'd better run the ball into the end zone. Momentum doesn't magically return after halftime, (especially if one team is allowed to stay on the field; with no defense to resist them, and free to run the ball into the other end zone, unopposed, for an entire month.)

Does this seem wise? Does this seem smart? Is this Democratic majority really so naive?

I'm no lawyer, but I do know that I wouldn't turn my back on the Bush administration for one second, let alone a month. And I certainly wouldn't let them bully me into passing a law 'forgiving' any behavior that hasn't even been investigated due to continual obstruction of justice.

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