Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For Fear Of Fear

It has been an exciting and fascinating two days, yesterday and today. It has been the best, and worst, of American democracy in action. The thrill of victory; the agony of a weak defeat, snatched from the strong jaws of victory. Yesterday we were giddy with the knowledge that the Democratic Senate Leadership had actually stood up, not just to the Bush/Cheney/Republican cabal of maximum everything in wiretapping and privacy invasion, but in the name or the Constitution and righteousness. Today, reality came crashing back down to earth for those of us in the reality based community.

Yesterday, the Senate led by Harry Reid and the Democrats fought off cloture and a vote on the contemptible Jello Jay Rockefeller crafted SSCI FISA Update Bill that, in addition to other ills, provided immunity to Dick Cheney, George Bush, other Administration malefactors and, as somewhat of an afterthought, participating telcos. That was a good thing. There were already whispers and scuttlebutt of a "brief extension" of the truly contemptible Protect America Act. As I have argued for some time now, there are inherent problems with such a "routine brief extension".

I repeat what I said yesterday on this “brief extension” nonsense. It is nothing but sheer political posturing that brings us down to the level of the Repuglicans AND weakens our case at the same time. Take a stand for the proper principles, and stand behind them as opposed to injecting harmful BS for the sole sake of cornering your opponent; which is a fine and appropriate tactic, if it doesn’t undercut your core principle in the process. Here, it will weaken the core principle and argument in it’s favor and should NOT be considered; especially since it is not necessary “to protect us” in the least, and blindly saying that it is so necessary is ridiculous.

NO EXTENSION! There is no need whatsoever for an extension, because A) The Administration can order any comprehensive program, or programs, they want prior to the lapse of the PAA and that program(s) will stay in effect for one full year “to protect us”; and B) the original FISA law is reinstated. Furthermore, passage of any extension is a wolf in sheep’s clothing because is equitably removes and/or weakens many arguments and defenses that opponents, like us, to the PAA had from it’s original passage in August 2007. At the time of the original passage of the PAA, most congressmembers voted based upon false and misleading facts provided by the Administration, McConnell and Hayden; voted under a false fear that the country was in jeopardy of an imminent major attack (another direct lie), were not aware of the secret memos produced by OLC behind the Administration program that were legally indefensible, etc. If we now vote to extend the PAA, we not only effectively remove and/or undercut all those germane defenses/explanations, we also give credence to the position that there is some merit and legality to the PAA. There is absolutely no need for an extension and passing one weakens our side’s position. THERE MUST BE NO EXTENSION. (lame grammatical errors in original corrected)
Today we didn't get what I had feared, we got worse. Thanks to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and the usual cast of nefarious Republican characters, Congress has agreed to a fifteen day extension of the horrendous Protect America Act, thus weakening our defenses and objections to the despicable and fraudulent tactics by the adversary that produced it, and they didn't even grab a political advantage in the process. The worst of both worlds, so to speak. Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said that we "have nothing to fear but fear itself". Today, we once again flinched in the face of falsely injected fear of fear.

Cross Posted From Emptywheel