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

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A sad day for the U.S. Senate

Put out the torch, Lady Liberty. It was nice while it lasted.

From the AP:

The Senate, in a high-stakes showdown over national security, voted late Friday to temporarily give President Bush expanded authority to eavesdrop on suspected foreign terrorists without court warrants.

The House, meanwhile, rejected a Democratic version of the bill.

Democratic leaders there were working on a plan to bring up the Senate-passed measure and vote on it Saturday in response to Bush's demand that Congress give him expanded powers before leaving for vacation this weekend.

The White House applauded the Senate vote and urged the House to quickly follow suit.

The bill "will give our intelligence professionals the essential tools they need to protect our nation," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "It is urgent that this legislation become law as quickly as possible."

Senate Democrats reluctantly voted for a plan largely crafted by the White House after Bush promised to veto a stricter proposal that would have required a court review to begin within 10 days.

I'm speechless. Democratic majority? My own Senator, Evan Bayh, has betrayed us. Democratic majority? Cowards. They caved to Bush AGAIN. They threw our constitutional rights under the bus, again, for a little 'temporary safety.'

Benjamin Franklin is rolling in his grave.

No Republicans voted against the bill. The following Democrats voted for it: Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawai‘i); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Nancy Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); Jim Webb (Virginia).

Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Barack Obama all opposed the bill, as did 23 other Democrats and Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont. Joe Lieberman voted... with the neocons, of course.

From the NY Times:

A furious push by the White House to broaden its wiretapping authority appeared on the verge of victory on Friday night after the Senate approved a measure that would temporarily give the administration more latitude to eavesdrop without court warrants on foreign communications that it suspects may be tied to terrorism.

The House is expected to take up the White House-backed measure on Saturday morning before going into its summer recess.

Democratic leaders acknowledged that the bill would probably pass.

Democrats in both the House and the Senate failed to pass competing measures on Friday that would have included tougher judicial checks and oversight on the eavesdropping powers.

The White House and Congressional Republicans hailed the Senate vote as critical to plugging what they saw as dangerous gaps in the intelligence agencies’ ability to detect terrorist threats.

“I can sleep a little safer tonight,” Senator Christopher S. Bond, the Missouri Republican who co-sponsored the measure, declared after the Senate vote.

Rock-a-bye baby Bond... you were more likely to be injured by a car accident than a terrorist, you coward.

What ever happened to 'we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here?' I guess they're damned good swimmers. Or maybe the real problem is that Bush hasn't been looking for 'them' at all, but simply bullying Iraq into signing his oil bill, while 'they' continued to get stronger and stronger in Pakistan.

Only days before recess, the White House started screaming that a desperately needed FISA upgrade was required to give Bush broader spying capabilities. Here is why they got their panties in a bunch, from Newsweek:

Aug. 1, 2007 - A secret ruling by a federal judge has restricted the U.S. intelligence community's surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas and prompted the Bush administration's current push for "emergency" legislation to expand its wiretapping powers, according to a leading congressman and a legal source who has been briefed on the matter.

And what did this judge know that we apparently do not? We'll never know! I'm guessing that the Senate will never know either. This will of course be 'privileged information,' and we the people... we will never be so privileged. We are just the great unwashed, kicked out of our own democracy -- and by our representatives no less.

The measure “goes far, far beyond” the National Security Agency program that the president secretly approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin.

Caroline Frederickson, head of the American Civil Liberties Union office here, said: “The Democrats caved in to the politics of fear we’re seeing from this administration. They didn’t want to be depicted as soft on terrorism. But this measure removes any court oversight from surveillance on Americans in a large number of cases.”

Nice try Russ, but they aren't listening to you. It's a bitch caring about democracy these days. It's a real bummer to have a grasp of history and the Constitution. Lonely, frightening and beyond depressing.

We are losing everything: the very soul of this once proud country. Stolen from us because we are... in fact, no longer 'the home of the brave' at all; or even the descendants of the greatest generation that liberated Europe from fascism.

Apparently we are now merely the home of the quivering, fearful and the gullible.

But I'll be mailing a pair of kneepads to Senator Bayh, to take some pressure off his poor kneecaps for his return to the Senate next month. Poor Bayh: cowering before the supreme executive must be humiliating work. I can think of better ways to make a living. Like cleaning toilets.

I hope he gets a nice tan while he is off on 'recess.' I hope he sleeps a lot better than I do.

Bush and Cheney are much more interested in partisan and corporate interests than terrorists (we were never attacked before he took office, did you notice?)

Corporate Bush buddies can now use 'Homeland Security' to attack people who blow the whistle on law-breaking, corporate polluters; so you can just imagine how Bush will use these broader powers he so desperately wanted, while the Senate is home facing our wrath.

And they will face our wrath:

Democrats agreed the law should not restrict U.S. spies from tapping in on foreign suspects. However, they initially demanded the FISA court to review the eavesdropping process before it begins to make sure that Americans aren't targeted.

By the final vote, Senate Democrats had whittled down that demand and approved a bill that largely mirrored what the Bush administration wanted.

Before the vote, Democrats excoriated the GOP plan, which Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, said "provides a weak and practically nonexistent court review."

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, angrily chastised his colleagues for bending to the administration's will.

"The day we start deferring to someone who's not a member of this body ... is a sad day for the U.S. Senate," Feingold said. "We make the policy -- not the executive branch."

Likewise, civil liberties advocates said they were outraged that Democratic-led Senate would side with the White House.

"We're hugely disappointed with the Democrats," said Caroline Fredrickson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The idea they let themselves be manipulated into accepting the White House proposal, certainly taking a great deal of it, when they're in control -- it's mind-boggling."

I will never vote for any Senator who voted for this bill. Ever. And I will never forget this betrayal.

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