Monthly Archives: February 2011
Georgia Representative Paul Broun, yes a Republican, was asked by a constituent at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”
According to one account, which was confirmed by Broun’s office, the congressman didn’t criticize the man for asking the question, instead attempting to deflect with a quip that he understood their frustration with Obama and reminded them that they would have the chance to help elect a new president next year.
Excuse me? A member of the United States House of Representatives, little more than a month since the horrendous murders and attempted assassination of a fellow member of Congress in Tucson, AZ didn’t criticize the man for asking the question? What is wrong with TPGOP members of Congress? How do you not immediately criticize and condemn the man for suggesting such a thing? Or is it just the way they do things in Georgia? It’s just the way they talk about uppity black folks down there?
The Congressman claims he didn’t immediately say anything to the man because he was too stunned by the question and didn’t want to dignify it with a response. Well, at least not until word leaked out to the Athens Banner-Herald that he lacked sufficient manhood – or back bone – to stand up for the President in his home district.
But, why should Congressman Broun have said anything? After all he’s only harshly criticized almost everything the President has done; routinely calling him a socialist and claiming that he feared the President would establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.
After the exchange was reported by the paper, Broun quickly issued a statement Friday calling the question “abhorrent.”
“I deeply regret that this incident happened,” he said in his statement. “I condemn all statements — made in sincerity or jest — that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.”
What he really wanted to add was, “Unless it’s said about that uppity Black Muslim socialist who will soon be establishing a Marxist dictatorship with a Gestapo-like security police force throwing good God fearing white men like you and me sir into camps.”
Broun’s office also said he later alerted the Secret Service.
Later, as in days after it happened, because he was just too speechless to comment on a threat to the President of the United States; and, besides, what’s the harm of someone joking about killing that boy anyhow? Eh Doc Broun? It’s all just a little joke.
You, Congressman Broun – if you can be called by the title of “man” – are a disgrace to your office. You’re just another example of the gutless line of TPGOP politicians suckling off their tax payers.
You didn’t say anything Mr. Broun because you’re a spineless little weasel who didn’t want his white Georgian constituents to see him stick up for the Black President.
You’re the worse kind of racist sir, the kind who stands in the crowd and watches while the others put the noose around the victim’s neck, later claiming you were sickened by the whole affair. You didn’t say anything sir because you didn’t want to.
So, former Alaskan governor Palin broke state election laws in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and was consumed by petty grievances up until she resigned?
Wow, who would’ve ever guessed any of that?
These accusations come from one of Palin’s closest former aides Frank Bailey who is writing a book about his time with the Ice Queen, the contents of which were leaked to the media and widely circulated on Friday.
The whole, sordid, nasty, open and revealing conglomeration opens with an account of Palin sending Bailey a message saying “I hate this damn job” shortly before she resigned as Alaska’s governor in July 2009, less than three years into her four-year term.
She hated her job? I find that hard to believe. What she hated was having her hind parts handed to her by the likes of Katie Couric, and then being sent back to the oblivion of the Great White North after an embarrassing run as McCain’s VP choice.
Bailey, who joined Palin’s 2006 campaign for governor and became part of her inner circle, has never before told his version of the Palin story. He wrote in the book that he and his co-authors put together the manuscript with the help of more than 60,000 e-mails he sent or received while working for Palin. In his writing, he reveals Palin, as a candidate for governor, penning letters-to-the-editor in praise of herself, to be sent under other names. It blames the candidate for inflaming, rather than ignoring, scurrilous rumors. And it quotes her pledging to avoid appearing on any network other than FOX PAC, referring to the rest as “the bad guys.”
Writing letters to the editor, by Palin, about Palin; no real surprise here, after all Queen Sarah is her biggest and most adoring fan; and choosing FOX PAC as her only outlet? Well those “bad guys” sure made her look bad didn’t they? That nefarious gang of journalistic thugs, how could you Katie? What were thinking asking a Vice-Presidential candidate to reveal what she reads, or which Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with?
According to Bailey, in a June 2009 e-mail, nearly a year after her disastrous interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, Palin is portrayed as still holding a grudge toward the broadcaster.
“She SUCKED in ratings before she stumbled upon her little gig mocking me,” Palin wrote, “She did almost lose her job before that VP interview …”
And she had to work so hard to trip you up Sarah. After all she gave you those really hard questions.
And what was the “hard” learned lesson Palin took away from her introduction to the national media? It was simple; ignore all television networks except for FOX PAC, which would later sign her as a contributor.
In announcing to aides her decision to speak only to FOX PAC, Palin described all the competing networks as “the bad guys.”
“Every time we participate with the bad guys we are telling viewers/readers: ‘go watch them! Tune in to what they have to say to bash us today!’ I can’t do that anymore,” Palin wrote. I am through with the idiots who use and abuse us — we can NOT win them over, I hate giving them ratings boosts.”
Palin concluded, “Lesson learned. Final one. Networks are not our friends. Talking to them harms my family, admin, record, reputation, Tripp, etc. No more.”
One chapter asserts Palin broke election law by coordinating with the Republican Governors Association during her 2006 campaign for governor. State candidates can’t team up with soft-money groups such as the Republican Governors Association, which paid for TV commercials and mailers in Alaska during the election in a purported “independent” effort, and Bailey swears the allegation was true. Palin and her aides marched along the block in front of the hotel again and again in order to allow a camera operator to capture footage for the ad, he said. “(Palin aide) Kris Perry, when orchestrating that nutty- parade at the hotel, was following the directions of the RGA cameraman and/or whomever he was working for,” Bailey wrote.
“Far worse, Sarah conducted multiple takes and knew exactly what was happening. She had, I suddenly believed, broken the law,” Bailey wrote.
Really? Queen Sarah went after “soft” money “illegally”? Was a “poser” for a commercial, with multiple takes? Palin seems to think she, and her family, are outside the rules the rest of us are hemmed in by. Is it because she sees herself in some kind of role like a Joan of Arc?
Bailey has said that her highness is an extremely paranoid individual who trusts no one, not the media, not the Democratic Party, but more especially, not even her fellow Republicans whom she attacked in a scathing e-mail in June 2009.
It seems when the GOTP couldn’t confirm that her majesty would attend a fund raising event, the TPGOP congressional campaign committees rescinded its invitation for her to speak in favor of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Palin reacted by typing a contemptuous assessment of the former speaker and the national party to her team in which she credited God for keeping her away from the Washington fundraiser.
“Yes, (Newt/GOP) are egotistical, narrow-minded machine goons … but all the more reason God protected me from getting up on stage in front of ,5000 political and media ‘elites’ to praise him, then it be shown across the nation.” Palin wrote in the e-mail.
“At some point Newt would have shown his true colors anyway and we would have been devastated having known we’d earlier prostituted ourselves up in front of the country introducing him and acting like that good ol’ rich white guy is the savior of the party,” she continued.
Palin went on to express another reason she was thankful to the Almighty that she wasn’t attending the fundraising gala.
“Plus, I had nothing to wear, and God knew that too. Party machinery sucks. I can’t tell you how much I hate it — nothing ever changes — we went through it before and after the VP campaign,” she wrote. “I’ve gone through it all my career. We just don’t fit into it, and maybe we should thank God for that.”
What kind of mean girl nonsense is this? She thinks she’s ready to be the President of the United States and she rants about how poor Cinderella had nothing to wear to the ball, and how since she was no longer the VP candidate, she had no fairy god mother to go out and buy her some more new threads? And, besides all that, God wanted to protect her from “prostituting” herself to the party elites? Too late! You walked on to that street corner when you accepted McCain’s “invitation” to be his running mate. But wait, perhaps I was too hasty in that assessment? Maybe she’s only “prostituted” herself to FOX PAC.
Pam Pryor, a spokeswoman for Palin’s political action committee, said she didn’t expect Palin to react. “Doubt she will respond to this kind of untruth,” Pryor said in an e-mail.
Yeah, right. She’ll respond to it alright, because her ego won’t allow her to sit quietly. She shouldn’t have responded to things that were said about the Tucson shooting, but she couldn’t resist. What makes any right minded person think she’ll keep mum on this? She’ll respond because it will put her mug back in front of the camera, and besides, when Sean Hannity calls she’ll run down the hall to her private FOX PAC studio screaming “Make up”!
Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has earned over $680,000 working for the uber right wing Heritage Fundation; but her hubby hasn’t included it on financial disclosure forms. Ooops?
Justice Thomas failed to report his wife’s income for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause has claimed. For the years 2003 to 2007, Virginia Thomas, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Fundation, according to the group’s review of the foundation’s IRS records; and the Justice failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed. Is this an honest oversight? Is this some kind of clerical error? Or has Justice Clarence Thomas committed an illegal act worthy of impeachment, and removal from the highest court in the land?
Not only is Virginia Thomas a hired gun for the Heritage Foundation, she’s also the lead hack of a group called Liberty Central, an organization she founded to supposedly “restore” the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty. You know, those good old fashioned American values, like committing tax fraud. Interestingly, on his 2009 disclosure form, Justice Thomas also checked his spousal income as “none.” Common Cause claims Liberty Central paid Virginia Thomas an unknown salary that year.
The sticky wicket for Thomas is federal judges are required by law to disclose the source of spousal income. It’s required Mr. Justice! You’re duly bound to uphold the law, which means you, and your wife, have to follow the rules like everyone else, not pick and choose what works for you and what doesn’t.
“Without disclosure, the public and litigants appearing before the court do not have adequate information to assess potential conflicts of interest, and disclosure is needed to promote the public’s interest in open, honest and accountable government,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar wrote in a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States.
Common Cause has filed a letter requesting the United States Justice Department investigate whether Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia should have disqualified themselves from hearing a campaign finance case after they reportedly attended a private meeting sponsored by Charles and David Koch, billionaire philanthropists who fund conservative causes. And what was this case, the one the two “Justices” should have removed themselves from? It wasn’t a big one, hardly a mere trifle of a case, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Yeah, that’s right, one the largest land mark cases to come before the Supreme Court probably since its inception; a case wherein the court ruled corporate and union funds could be spent directly on election advertising, without any disclosure, and that corporations are in effect equal to people, equal to citizens, and guaranteed free speech under the Constitution.
And guess who’s been the one guy on the court arguing that laws requiring public disclosure of large contributions are unconstitutional?
That’s right; it’s Mister Honesty; Mister Integrity; its Mister I Don’t Have Any Reason for Anyone to Seriously Think I’m Remotely Qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice Himself, Clarence Thomas.
Well, guess what Justice Thomas? You’re a fraud. You’ve always been a fraud, and this goes to prove that you really are as dishonest as the day is long. It also casts serious doubt on the validity of your testimony during your confirmation hearings, and your ability to serve impartially as a member of the United States Supreme Court. You’re an embarrassment Sir and deserve to be impeached, but with your cronies controlling the House that’s not likely to happen. So, please, for once in your life, do the honorable thing and resign. Oh, wait, who am I talking to?
The Banshee of the Right – Ann Coulter – has come out of her cave once again, bellowing that because young people between the ages of 18-25 voted overwhelmingly for President Obama they should be punished and the Congress should repeal the 26th Amendment to do so.
The 26th Amendment was adopted on 1 Jul 1971, limiting the minimum voting age in America to no more than 18, in response to young Americans being drafted into military service during the Vietnam War. It was widely felt that if young men were old enough to fight and die for their country, they were old enough to vote in its elections. And who was the first American President to put forth this socialistic idea of allowing the young to vote? President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
During his 7 Jan 1954 State of the Union address President Eisenhower said, “For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to vote when they reach the age of 18.” – Read more: State of the Union Address: Dwight D. Eisenhower (January 7, 1954) — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/state-of-the-union/166.html#ixzz155JtcX4S
So, almost 40 years after its adoption Coulter now puts forth the idea that young Americans are too stupid to vote, simply because they’re not rushing in droves to vote for the likes of John McCain and Sarah Palin?
Coulter says, “Adopted in 1971 at the tail end of the Worst Generation’s anti-war protests, the argument for allowing children to vote was that 18-year-olds could drink and be conscripted into the military, so they ought to be allowed to vote.
“But 18-year-olds aren’t allowed to drink anymore. We no longer have a draft.”
The point Coulter misses on the draft was made by President Eisenhower, “For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America.”
Did you catch that Ann? “… have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America.” That would mean during a draft. Your statement that we no longer have a draft is either a deliberate lie or you’re just too stupid to know that every young man in America is required – by law – to register for selective service. That would of course be for moments when “… in time of peril” to be “… summoned to fight for America.”
Coulter continues her reasons for repeal, “Eighteen- to 26-year-olds don’t have property, spouses, children or massive tax bills. Most of them don’t even have jobs because the president they felt so good about themselves for supporting wrecked the economy.”
Just one more lie from the Banshee, “…the president they felt so good about themselves for supporting wrecked the economy.” I’m sorry? Did they vote for President Bush? The economy was already well off the road and in the ditch before President Obama was sworn into office. But, when you’re a right wing banshee who cares about trifling little facts like that?
This is what happens when candidates like Sharon Angle glibly talk about using “2nd Amendment remedies”, or Sarah Palin speaks about “taking aim at Democratic Members of Congress”, or “reloading”. Words have consequences, and candidates, and talk show personalities, need to remember that.
Oh look, Congresswoman Giffords has a gun site on her in this Sarah Palin poster … go figure why these kind of people pull guns and shoot members of Congress.
“Republicans don’t retreat, they reload,” Palin glibly spews at countless TPGOP rallies.
“Americans (Republicans) are going to have to start using 2nd Amendment remedies if the voters don’t get it right,” former TPGOP senate candidate Sharron Angle told a crowd at a campaign stop last fall.
This kind of speech breeds violent acts …
The attack on Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and those who were with her last month might be the work of “a single nut,” said Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, whose Arizona district shares Tucson with Giffords’ district. But he said the nation must assess the fallout of “an atmosphere where the political discourse is about hate, anger and bitterness.”
People like former TPGOP Congressional candidate Jesse Kelly among them. During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event. But of course Jessie Kelly doesn’t want to accept that “targeting” your opponents plays into people like this. His “honor code” as a Marine only goes so far.
Sadly one of the victims killed in the attack refused to press charges people who had threatened his life. In 2009, Judge Roll ruled that the case Vicente v. Barnett could go forward. The $32 million lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) against Arizona rancher Roger Barnett (one of those good old white, god fearing christian fellas) on behalf of 16 Mexican plaintiffs charged that the plaintiffs were assaulted, threatened, and held at gunpoint by Barnett and members of his family. After Roll’s ruling – and prompted by several talk-radio programs – he was the subject of hundreds of complaining phone calls and death threats and he and his family were under the protection of the U.S. Marshals Service for a month. Roll declined to press charges when some of those who made threats were identified.
Funny how people like Sarah Palin think its just savey political speech to “target” opponents, and to portray them as “enemies” of freedom and democracy, but those who are “targeted” as a result, men like Judge Roll, choose the higher ground and don’t press charges, and then ultimately pay for it in the end.
It was Giffords father, 75-year-old Spencer Giffords, who wept when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies, and answered, “Yeah,” to The New York Post, “The whole tea party.”
In a classic move from a Frank Capra film, the Republican-controlled House – led by Claude Rains type characters – passed sweeping legislation Saturday cutting $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs, while at the same time sheltering coal companies, oil refiners and farmers from new government regulations.
The party line vote of 235-189 passes the bill on to the Democratic-controlled Senate where it will in all likelihood meet its well deserved demise; and if by some odd chance it survives the Democratic controlled Senate, it is all but guaranteed to be vetoed by the President.
This week has given the American people one more bill in a series of fluff and nonsense legislation by the GOP House, and is seen by many as another remarkable victory for 87-member uber-conservative class of freshmen Tea Party-Republican hybrids, who were elected last fall, in the mid-term congressional election by the largely unthinking, uneducated and unwashed masses of the Tea Party movement. The new members of Congress promised to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government.
One of the new kids on the block, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas trumpeted, “The American people have spoken. They demand that Washington stop its out-of-control spending now, not some time in the future.”
Problem is Congressman; the American people spoke no such thing. 80 + local constituencies fed on a daily menu of vitriolic right-wing fear radio and FOX PAC programming elected you, not “the American people”. The one thing you and all the GOP House has forgotten is that all politics are local, and nowhere is that more true than in the House of Representatives.
So, what did they pass, this group of American loving legislators? Well, the $1.2 trillion bill covers every Cabinet agency through the end of the current fiscal year, or through 30 Sep 11, imposing (if it passes the Senate, and the President) severe spending cuts aimed at domestic programs and foreign aid, including aid for schools, nutrition programs, environmental protection, and heating and housing subsidies for the poor. Did you catch all that? The GOP is cutting programs for schools, nutrition, environmental protection, and heating and housing subsidies for the poor. Who does this affect mostly? Minorities; or everyone who isn’t an angry white, right-wing, Christian, gun-toting, Tea Party drinking voter; you know the types, the ones who “spontaneously” show up at “rallies” carrying signs decrying how they’re taxed too much, and how the President is a Communist/Nazi thug. Yeah, all those well read, deep thinking types; Glenn Beck’s masses.
On the brighter side, the bill is doomed when it arrives in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and was doomed even before TPGOP (Tea Party Grand Old Party) amendments adopted later in the week pushed it further and further away from the main stream shores and out onto the right-wing rocks and shoals of health care and environmental policy. Senate Democrats have promised higher spending levels and are more than prepared to defend the recent health care law, environmental policies and new efforts to overhaul regulation of the financial services industry.
But wait, the TPGOP isn’t finished with simply hurting the poor and minorities, it wants to provide shielding for greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators, block a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and bar the government from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution, siding with big business over environmental activists and federal regulators. Why would anyone in their right minds do this? That’s very simple, “money”.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, summed it up very well when he said, “This is like a Cliff Notes summary of every issue that the Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, and the (free market) CATO Institute have pushed for 30 years.”
But what about the jobs the TPGOP promised to deliver if given control of Congress? Cue crickets chirping – put hand over eyes to shield sun as you gaze out towards the horizon – nope, nowhere in sight.
The one thing this bill passage is guaranteed to do is to drive an even bigger wedge between, not only Democratic members of Congress and the TPGOP membership, but even within the TPGOP itself. It’s as though Speaker Boehner is a maniacal train engineer sending his locomotive plummeting down the tracks to the bridge he knows is out, screaming for more steam, more steam!
As the next two years progress we will no doubt see more of these nonsensical bills, and more Republicans voting against them, and with any luck at all a country tired of the TPGOP and a return of the House to grownups not needing a hanky handy every time they speak.
“But we have to get the deficit under control!” The TPGOP screams. “We don’t want to be bothered with any level headed, clear thinking debate. We just want to cut and slash everything that isn’t good and right in America.”
“Palin/Bachmann in 2012!” others cry.
“On with the revolution!” still more proclaim.
What the TPGOP has managed to do is to remove any and all meaningful discourse on the national debt/deficit and on the federal budget. And in so doing, they’ve magically ensured any differences on spending cuts won’t be resolved soon, meaning before the government runs out of money on 4 Mar 11, requiring a temporary spending bill when the current stopgap measure expires.
Boehner and company are insisting any new stopgap measure must carry huge spending cuts, an ultimatum carrying a threat of a government shutdown like the episodes that played to the advantage of former President Bill Clinton in his battles with Republicans in 1995-1996; the very same shutdown which eventually led to Newt Gingrich’s slinking away from Congress. Is Boehner prepared to slink away as well?
But who cares about government shutting down? Not the TPGOP; it’s on a roll baby, voting for other cuts, including voting for a ban on federal funding for the implementation of the year-old health care law; and falling all over themselves to see who can bow the lowest as they answer the royal command of anti-abortion lawmakers, calling for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood; again not only attacking the poor and minorities, but throwing woman under the bus too. “Raped and need help with that pregnancy?” they ask. “Too bad, God says you have to carry that baby to term!”
Is there not any group which benefits from the House being controlled by the TPGOP? Of course there is, it’s the Military Industrial Complex. While mercilessly slashing and burning domestic agencies spending by 12 percent, the TPGOP awarded the Pentagon with a 2 percent increase.
But wait sports fans, the TPGOP wasn’t finished, not by a long shot; one of its greatest nemesis’s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was out there and they needed to wound it, and wound it deeply, they needed to defend big business and industry from its numerous agency regulations constantly threatening job-creation and the economy. And wound it they did, slashing its budget by almost one-third, and hampering its regulatory powers. In the process, if the TPGOP has its way, proposed federal regulations would be blocked on emission of greenhouse gases, and a proposed regulation on mercury emissions from cement kilns would also be stopped.
For those living in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, Rep Robert Goodlatte, TPGOP-Va., won a 230-195 vote blocking an EPA plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay that would cut pollution from runoff from farms and municipalities throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Yeah for you! Aren’t you happy to have such a wonderful guy looking out for your interests? After all, it’s not like any of you rely on that pesky old bay for your livelihoods or anything.
And woo hoo for Floridians! Your local agricultural interests won a vote blocking those damnable EPA rules issued last year aimed at controlling fertilizer and other pollutants that stoke the spread of algae in the state’s waters. More algae! More algae!
As dire as all this sounds however, these cuts aren’t going to happen. Thank God the Senate and White House are in Democratic hands. And just as Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck have to go further and further to the right-wing extremes to keep their listeners happy, these TPGOP members of congress are going to have to keep going further and further to the right-wing extremes to keep their “constituents” happy. This side show will play well for awhile, but like any traveling circus, eventually it runs out of people wanting to watch the show, pulls up its stakes and moves on. It happened to the GOP House in the nineties, and it will happen to TPGOP of the current Congress. Time – in spite of what the Rolling Stones sing – is not on their side.
Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs?
During a 15 February 2011, press conference, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that “over the last two years since President Barack Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official statistician for the United States labor force, the overall net rise in federal employees between January 2009 and January 2011 was 58,000. Additionally, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s on-line federal workforce data source, “FedScope,” reports the net increase of positions filled between the fiscal years 2009 and 2010, was only 59,995. Either figure is well below the 200,000 claimed by Speaker Boehner.
There’s one of two things going on here; either the Speaker is completely incompetent when it comes to rounding up numbers (not entirely impossible), or he’s a liar pulling numbers out of any number of orifices to try to back up a bogus political agenda supported by only the narrowest of far right wing Tea Party members of the GOP (extremely possible).
Far more troubling than his probable lying in order to curry favor with the great intellectually unwashed masses of the far right, is his cavalier attitude towards an additional 200,000 Americans becoming unemployed, “if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it,” the Speaker crowed. You can almost hear – mirrored in Boehner’s words – Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous cant “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” One can only hope that some night soon, Boehner will find himself being visited by the Ghosts of Speakers Past, Present (no doubt the scariest of all) and future.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives on Monday, Valentine’s Day, approved a 10-month extension of three key law enforcement powers in the “war” on terror by a vote of 275-144.
The House measure, provided the Democratic controlled Senate approves, will extend authority for the USA Patriot Act-related provisions until 8 Dec 11; the Senate can of course move slowly and allow the provisions to expire on 28 Feb 11.
The two key – post 9-11 – over-reactionary provisions are those giving counter-terrorism offices roving wiretap authority to monitor multiple electronic devices and court-approved access to business records relating to a terrorist investigation. Of course these provisions wouldn’t have prevented the 9-11 attacks as it was not a lack of “intelligence” which allowed the plotters to carry out their attacks, but the lack of coordination within the intelligence community; but, when have facts had any play when we are debating the “war” on terror?
The third “lone wolf” provision, was passed in 2004, and permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. individuals not known to be linked to a specific terrorist organization. Basically, the government can monitor any non-citizen without cause. Without any justification, or proof, that the individual (s) are in any way connected to a terrorist organization.
It was just last week the GOP leadership attempted to pass the same bill using an expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority only to be poked soundly in the eye when twenty-six Republicans joined 122 Democrats in voting against it. Even with a victory, today’s vote drew 27 Republican no votes. The fact so many GOP members of the House are voting no should give voters pause as to whether “We the People” really need these provisions to continue. At question is the clearly unconstitutional search and seize authority coupled with an Orwellian-like big government intrusion into private lives.
One of the GOP dissenters, Dana Rohrabacher, CA, said “I believe the American people have a legitimate fear of out-of-control government. And yes, they have a legitimate fear of out-of-control prosecutors and out-of-control spy networks.”
Those supporting the measure claim it’s needed so Congress can have time to study it, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, argued a temporary extension “is the only way to provide House members the time to study the law” and consider possible changes. Excuse me Congressman, but the law has been around since, oh I don’t know, maybe 9-11? That’s been almost ten years; exactly how much time do you need to “study” the law? Don’t be coy, and stop treating us like we’re stupid, what you want is to keep extending it until it becomes permanent.
In opposing the continuation of the laws Democrats got only one chance to attempt an amendment, stating investigations must comply with the Constitution and that courts must give expedited consideration when a U.S. citizen argues that his or her constitutional rights have been violated. Even after invoking the need for the law to comply with the Constitution, which is supposed to be the new measuring stick put in place by the GOP, it was defeated on a party-line vote; so much for caring about the American people’s constitutional liberties.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., plans to bring before his committee a bill extending the three provisions through 2013 while tightening disclosure procedures. Republicans have countered with a proposal to make the three measures permanent. Of course there’s a great deal of pressure to hurry up and get it done because next week, leading up to the Feb. 28 deadline, Congress will not be in session, and the laws would be gone.
The disturbing part of this extension fight is the fact the GOP leadership has waited until the last possible moment to bring it forward to sharply limit any debate or consideration of renewal. It is the same, “hurry up”, and “we have to have this in order to defend our country” mentality which allowed the Patriot Act to be passed in the first place. No one wants to oppose it, because to do so would open one up to attacks of not being a “Patriot”, hence the very cagey name. It’s time for Congress, and particularly the Democratic leadership, to rein in this insanity and allow the Patriot Act to pass into history. It gave too much authority to law enforcement, and it took too much away from the citizenry. Benjamin Franklin could have been speaking to those supporting the continuation, when he said, “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”