Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Black Day For The Rule of Law

The Senate has voted to give retroactive immunity to the phone companies for spying on Americans without a warrant.

As I have written elsewhere, this does violence to the Rule of Law. As usual, the defendants of this measure make the best case against it. As Senator Orin Hatch explained:

“And frankly, if we do not give retroactive immunity, there is not a general counsel of any of these companies that would [again] expose their company to the … litigation that has come since.”

Which is precisely the point. It should not be possible, let alone easy, for the Executive Branch to provide an end run to the Constitution and the law. That a majority of the Senate will retroactively concur in this law breaking — even applaud it and encourage it! — makes mock of the very notion that we are a free people in the land of the free governed by laws, not men, safe from the tyranny of Kings because their power is restrained.

As a Republic, we will recover. We have suffered such stains and indignities on the law in the past. Korematsu and the internment of Japanese Americans, the warrantless surveillance of civil rights leaders, The Espionage Act in World War I, which made it illegal to criticize the government’s military recruitment efforts. The list goes on. Then the pendulum swings back. We stand ashamed, offering compensation and apologies, shaking our heads at what people do and wondering how a previous generation could have erred so dramatically.

What is appalling here is that this is not done in the first rush of panic, pain and fear following the attacks. It is not prompted by “false intelligence.” There are no excuses for those Democrats who have ONCE AGAIN given President Bush everything he asks for, after promising us in 2006 that “the blank check is over” and that the Democratic landslide signaled a return to a government of checks and balances, accountability and oversight? And these Democratic Senators will come to us again in 2008, and expect the party faithful to once again fall in line?

I still have hopes for the House Democrats. Recently, Representatives Dingell, Markey and Stupak reminded their Senate colleagues of their duty to exercise oversight of the Executive to protect the rights of all Americans. Perhaps these champions of freedom will convince their House colleagues to stand firm in the face of White House pressure, telco PAC contributions, and the craven example of their colleagues in the Senate.

But it is a black day for the Rule of Law, and a black day for the Democratic party. Let every Democrat that has dared adopt a haughty attitude to Republicans for supporting domestic spying, torture, and the assault on our consititution hang his head in shame. Let our tongues be stilled. For our leaders have proven no better than theirs. And will not we, like the sheep we have accused them of being, quietly return them again to office?

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , | 5 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Mukasey == Gonzales==Republican Stooge, let's sing the “I Was Not a Nazi Polka,” Hooray!

You may recall how Fredo Corleone Harry Reid and the rest of the clueless Democrats in the Senate enthusiastically bought into the pious shitpile of festering stinking lies and prevarications that was the testimony of Michael Mukasey, the “Good German Republican”, at his confirmation hearing for the position of Attorney General, when he swore, jawohl, that he would uphold the constitution no matter what, yessir, even unto the gates of Hell or the White House, whichever came first, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, yah sure, you betcha, because I am a Federal Judge of Impeccable Credential and Pedigree, don’t you know, and I uphold the law, and I vas not ein SS guard I don’t change my stripes to fit the fashion, and blah blah blah blah blah.

And so he became the highest law officer in the land, with a pat on the back and a friendly howdy-do & welcome, hail fellow well-met, from Harry and Diane and all the other fine Presbyterians & toothless cowards in the Greatest Deliberative Body in World(tm). Alberto is gone! Michael is here! Integrity has been restored to the Department of Justice! Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, Hail Dorothy! (Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd and Biden just happened to be out of town for the vote, how unfortunate!)

Below the fold: Recalling an old chestnut from the late lamented Chad Mitchell Trio.

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Posted in Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

700 MHz Auction Update — FCC Republicans Interested In Public Interest Proposals While Senate Democrats Take a Pass.

Welcome once again to the topsy-turvy land of spectrum politics. Although Republican FCC Chair Kevin Martin shattered expectations by seeking comment on the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) proposals for the 700 MHz auction, the Senate Democrats have decided to avoid having anyone from the public interest discuss the auction at next Thursday’s (June 14) hearing. In other words, despite my hope to the contrary, the Democratic Senate Commerce Committee is still playing spectrum politics under the old rules (treating this as an industry food fight and a chance to raise revenue), rather than using this as a chance to promote a robust public debate on how to ensure that wireless auctions promote competition and serve the public interest.

As a result, when the Senate Commerce Committee gathers to ask how the 700 MHz wireless auction can introduce new competitors for broadband and facilitate the open networks critical for civic engagement and innovation, they will hear from Mr. Dick Lynch of Verizon Wireless, Mr. Michael Small of Centennial Communications Corporation, and Dr. Amol R. Sarva of the Wireless Founders Coalition For Innovation. While Verizon has supported anonymous bidding, and the Wireless Founders Coalition supports open access, that hardly takes the place of having actual public interest representatives up there to press for real spectrum reform regardless of the impact on business models or bottom lines. As I say all too often (everyone repeat together) citizen movements must be citizen driven, and that includes giving us folks pushing the public interest an opportunity to speak rather than relegating us to the side-lines because corporate interests overlap with ours.

More below . . . .

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Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

My Thoughts Exactly

Congratulations Senator-Elect Webb! Congratulations Senator-Elect Tester

Congratulations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid! Great day in the Morning! Hallelujah!

Congrats of course to winners everywhere (most especially to those in the mainstream, majoritarian party, the Democratic Party). A Democratic-led House of Representatives! Speaker Nancy Pelosi! A Democratic majority in the Senate! Hoo-boy. Some hope, at last, that we may pull back from the brink.

In Virginia the Republican candidate for the Senate is the racist thug brownshirt liar George Felix Allen, and in Montana the Republican candidate for Senate is the corrupt firefighter-hating Abramoff flunky Conrad Burns. They’re backed by the full force of the Repubiican Bush/Cheney/Rove crime family, er, national party who rightly fear marginalization if not impeachment, trial and conviction if two more Democratic senators are seated, so don’t expect them to go down without a fight — a nasty, dirty, dishonest fight. But Tester and Webb and Reid are no patsies, and a fair count will prevail.

It will be easier to concentrate on my day job today. Somehow the dread is much, much less oppressive this morning.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)
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