Today’s attack on democracy in the United States began with George W. Bush’s efforts to strongarm the House of Representatives into extending the Protect America Act.
Failure to act would harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities and could re-open dangerous gaps in our intelligence. Failure to act would also make the private sector less willing to help us protect the country, and this is unacceptable.
The lives of countless Americans depend on our ability to monitor terrorist communications. Our intelligence professionals are working day and night to keep us safe, and they’re waiting to see whether Congress will give them the tools they need to succeed or tie their hands by failing to act.
Determined not to be upstaged by their faithful leader, House Republicans called a vote during the memorial service for Tom Lantos, forcing Congressmen to leave the memorial service to return for a vote on…nothing.
And like the two-year-old babies that they are, when confronted with a vote on a resolution to cite Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton for contempt of Congress (which they are), House Republicans, save two, walked out in a huff to a bank of microphones and reporters conveniently waiting on the steps of the Capitol.
The House Democrats, in their first act of patriotic bravery, passed two resolutions, one of which holds Bolton and Miers in contempt. It is refreshing to see Nancy Pelosi finally stand up for what’s right instead of backing down and dropping the ball.
“This is beyond arrogance,” said Pelosi. “It’s hubris taken to the ultimate degree.”
Conyers said he had already discovered “plenty of evidence of wrongdoing at the Department of Justice. He said officials made the decision to fire attorneys on the basis of whether they had pursued public corruption charges against Democratic government officials. He also said that Justice officials made misleading statements to investigators minimizing the apparent involvement of White House personnel in the firings.
Emboldened by the adrenaline that comes with doing the right thing for a change, Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House of Representatives until a week from Monday, allowing the Protect America Act to expire on Saturday.
Can you imagine this happening a year ago? Even six months ago? Why the difference? Could it be that our elected Representatives are hearing us when we tell them via vote and voice that we refuse to be intimidated, bullied and controlled by fear? Could it be that they are finally getting the message that we expect them to represent us and do the right thing instead of the political thing? It would seem so.
Another Patriot Act: Congressman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter to President Bush Thursday, forcefully reminding him that his statements about leaving America vulnerable are patently false and that the House of Representatives will not be bullied into passing a law on the basis of empty threats. His closing paragraphs seem to echo something I’ve been hearing recently in one of the candidates’ Presidential campaigns:
I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.
We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.
The entire letter should be framed and placed squarely on the Oval Office desk.
In a parting shot, Nancy Pelosi said :
President Bush tells the American people he has nothing to offer but fear.
I believe that our representatives are hearing our voices, the voices that call, fax, email, blog and write. The voices of the voters who are turning out in droves to say they are tired of being the pawns in a big political game. The voices that think it’s wrong for our government to ignore the same laws we obey.
Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment tonight articulated the outrage that I feel when I think about the payoff Bush wants to give the telephone companies for spying on me, especially this:
Mark Klein was the AT&T Whistleblower, the one who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all AT&T circuits — everything — carrying every one of your phone calls, every one of your e-mails, every bit of your web browsing into a secure room, room number 641-A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it.
Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some spy — a spy both patriotic and telepathic — might able to divine had been sent or spoken by — or to — a terrorist.
Every time you looked at a naked picture.
Every time you bid on eBay.
Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat.
Oh, go ahead and watch the whole thing. You know you want to. Even when Keith gets shrill, he makes good points and tonight’s were especially well-spoken.
Will the newly-emboldened House of Representatives inspire the Senate to do the right thing? Will we finally have elected representatives who understand that we’re refusing to allow them to run roughshod over the Constitution for political and personal gain? Will George Bush join the board of AT&T when he leaves office?
Stay tuned for upcoming Patriot Acts, and the inevitable whimpers of cowards, fading away into better, bolder times. We can always hope.
- EFF: Telecoms Say They Won’t “Protect America” If They Don’t Get Their Way: Talking Points
- Domestic Access to Spy Imagery Expands
Note: this is guest-blogged by my 13-year old daughter, who came home today in a huff after tussling with friends and peers at school over such diverse subjects as the Iraq war, warrantless wiretapping, Election 2008, and illegal immigration all in the span of a 90-minute PE class. I asked her to blog it because I was taken aback by her passion and by the depth of her own thought and knowledge on the topic. Hers is a self-described small voice that “doesn’t matter” (her words, not mine), but her post represents the voices of the next wave of voters, and how our decisions today have such a deep impact on their lives, tomorrow. I know she’d love comments, please feel free to leave some.
…small girl speaking–giving opinions–on big subjects.
Though my voice does not matter, and won’t be wanted until I’m eighteen, I can nevertheless help but speak it.
The presidential election of 2008 is, in fact a) a historical one; b) an exciting one; and, c) an important one. It’s a crucial time in our history, what with the war and the economy, etc… and the kids, children, teens, or whatever you want to call us can’t help but notice. We have the influence of the news and reporters telling us this and that; we have our parents’ influence whether it be Democratic or Republican, all the while learning about the Constitution and our government in history class. In short, we develop opinions, and with opinions come disagreements.
Unlike the majority of my peers I don’t have the luxury of believing what my parents believe in terms of politics. My daddy is a Republican, born and bred; my mom is a Democrat. My dad’s side of the family (Republican) lives closest to us, and I get more exposure to them than my mother’s side of the family (Democratic). My mom’s side of the family, however, is more involved and opinionated about politics. Basically I pretty much see both sides of the issues. I also see one or more small disputes that come up because of this. In addition to that, I’m also a blogger and the daughter of a blogger and seem to pick up reports and information more than my friends on these issues. This helps when you’re in an advanced history class, learning government, and are constantly bombarded with projects in which you must take various issues, research, and reflect on them. I will say we are pretty lucky to be learning this during an election. It makes it easier to understand, but unfortunately as I said before, adds to more opinions and more disputes.
Lately, these discussions have been more frequent in school. They started in our yearbook class when our teacher wasn’t there to tell us not to. There are usually about six of us who are the most involved. Two of us, me and another, are very independent thinkers, and very open to opinions which, luckily, agree with each other. The rest are fairly spread out.
It usually starts out, “I want a women president, that would be sooo cool.” I personally hate these comments, why should someone be nominated or elected based on their gender or race? Shouldn’t it be on their ideas, how they would lead us? I voice my opinions and the response is, “Whatever, I still want a women president!” Whatever.
Another person, “My dad is registered as a Democrat so he can vote for Hillary and she can lose to McCain.” I personally think that’s not a trait I would want to share with others, why play like that? Not cool, dude. The other independent, “Obama ‘08! We need change after Bush, not more war and fighting, or more lies like Hillary.” Another person, “Ew, Bush sucks, all my family supports him but me, and they get mad at me for it. I don’t get it, we’re fighting a war that’s not ours to fight.” Me: ”I agree, but why should they be mad at you for your own opinions and differences?” Anyway it usually carries on like this till the end of the period, usually just discussion on the latest primary or caucus, not fighting. The real disagreements came today in PE.
After awhile of the debates and speeches, I decided I was with my mother on Obama, and here’s the great part: My dad, the homegrown Republican, voted Obama too, Woo! So we usually have 10 minutes or so before class starts since it’s 1st period PE, and I usually talk with my friends, and some others, usually the other people in my Honors classes.
The day after Super Tuesday I was talking with them and I asked what the end result of the democratic primary in California was. “I think Hilary won by about 15%,” someone says. “That sucks,” I say. “Why? You WANT Obama to win??” by someone else. Now that’s not cool, don’t you dare get mad at me for my opinions. “Yes I do.” “Seriously? WHY?” (…did you seriously just say that? sigh…) ”Because he is who I prefer, I would personally not like to send in more troops, and I agree with most of his ideas. Jeez, you don’t have to get indignant over a difference of opinions, not cool.” “Whatever.” Haha I love this, “Bananas not War.” I say, and just as the whistle blows to get in our spots she says, “What!?” Haha, live, laugh, love.
So then, next PE the subject of politics comes up again, someone says,”Mitt Romney dropped out last night, that’s too bad I wanted him to be president.” Really? I didn’t know that, Cool. “Well McCain’s going to win anyway so he shouldn’t waste his money.” Another says we are all idiots. If that person wasn’t my friend I would be getting mad again at the intolerance they have toward other’s opinions.
“Hillary better be the Democratic candidate, she’ll be easier to beat.” That’s true, it was projected that if it was Hillary and McCain, McCain would win, but with McCain and Obama, Obama was projected to win. Of course that isn’t exactly the election, anything could happen.
“It bugs me how, although Hillary is the one running for president, lately you see more Bill than Hillary. We’re voting for Hillary, not Bill and Hillary. But I suppose you get them as a package, that’s one of the things I don’t like, some of the remarks he made were uncalled for.” Such as after S. Carolina. haha, NOT.
“I don’t really care.” Another says. The other person again, “I don’t care–McCain’s going to win.” “Do you really want that huge war hawk as president?” I say, I’m starting to lose my temper, although I shouldn’t. Come on, it’s early, I’m sleepy and I’m about to run a mile. I’m still civil though. “What?” she askes. “Dude, he’s like all for the war in Iraq, it’s time to bring our troops home, stop spreading our chaos and messing everything up even more.”
“Oh. My. Gosh, we can’t leave Iraq! Are you kidding? As soon as we leave they are like, going to bomb us!”
“Are you serious? They aren’t going to bomb us. And they don’t have weapons of mass destruction either.”
“Do you read at all? Hellllo, 9/11! If we leave they will Iraq will bomb us again!” hmm, I wonder if I say 9/11 they will jump, because they seem reaaally paranoid.
“Ok, first of all, do not say ‘Iraq will bomb us’. 9/11 was terrorists, NOT Iraq. By saying that you are condemning everybody in Iraq, all the innocent people whose homes WE have invaded, for NO reason! Second off, IRAQ and IRAN do NOT have nuclear bombs! It’s proven, do you know Iraq said they did to keep from being attacked?”
“As soon as we leave they will get Nuclear Bombs and bomb us.” grr…
“From where? They have no Money! We’ve already destroyed so much of their land, with no help to clean it up, How on earth would that happen!”
“Thats not true!”
“Really? Prove it to me.”
“Thats not the point.” Ha, no you’re avoiding the point. “The point is we are in a war that we need to win, then we can bring all the troops in that you like.”
“Dude, so many people are there right now, fighting for us! You want to send in more innocent people to go and mess up the other innocent people’s homes? You dont find any of that wrong?”
“If they don’t want to fight for us they don’t have to, heck I’ll go. It gives me an excuse to shoot people.”
“What if you get shot?” another person asks.
“I don’t care, I just won’t get shot, and even so I’ll just come home with one leg.”
Dear God, someone shoot me now so I can stop listening to this. “Are you kidding me!” It occurs to me that the people I’m standing next to all have no older brothers. “You don’t get it, you don’t get how serious this is, dude people are dying, DYING, over there and you’re joking about it–”
“I’m not joking.”
“–either that or you haven’t watched an older brother join the army–”
“If he didn’t want to go, don’t enlist.”
“Stop cutting me off! He didn’t have a choice. He needed to pay for college. I was little at the time, and didn’t always understand, but the first night he left I had nightmares that he would be out there fighting, in danger! Killed! Fighting for people like you, who could care less for one life. And as you said if people didn’t enlist they would start up the draft again, the draft that my OTHER BROTHER was MADE to sign! You don’t get that, you’ve never seen that, never had that small chance of something that important taken away from you. Also on the subject of 9/11, did you know Bush was tapping our phone lines before it happened?”
“Really?” one person pipes up.
“He did that so he could catch the people planning to do it!”
“So he knew it was going to happen then?” I ask.
“No but, just in case.”
“Well, I can see how well that worked out, so why are they still doing it? And why in such an unproductive manner? What if we accidently say something that’s like, I dont know. a code for something else? Then that person is automatically being watched, innocent because they accidently said something.”
“Well if they are innocent then they don’t have anything to hide.”
“Seriously? Have you heard of the INNOCENT people detained right NOW? Being deprived of their right of habeas corpus? Thats AGAINST the Constitution, the thing the president SWEARS to uphold and protect. Just because they aren’t citizens–”
” Well if they aren’t citizens they can get their butts out off our country!”
“Oh my gosh!” That wasn’t me, that was the girl from Vietnam standing right next to me. She is not a citizen. I lost my temper completely now.
How could anybody so arrogant to say something as that? How much of an arrogant fool do you have to be to shoot off your mouth like that and say that to a friend!
“Oh!” another person pulls the girl from Vietnam away from the group as I go stomping away, the arrogant person cries halfhearted apologies and the whistle blows. I’m still quite mad by the time PE is over and can’t help but remark on my way to the dressing rooms, “You know not everyone has the abilities and resources to become a citizen right away, including money, and time.” I’m not sure if she replied. I didn’t care enough to listen.
I’m pretty sure that’s it. I probably shouldn’t have gotten mad, and could have handled it better, but what can I say? These kinds of disputes really suck, they completely ruin your day. How could we, only 13, have such big mouths? haha jk, but we really do. It’s annoying sometimes…
–If you choose to comment on my post please keep a civil tongue and I will keep one as well. We all have differences of opinion which you are welcome to say as long as it is conducted appropriately. thankyou.—-
“Yes we can!”
peace, love, dance.
I hope you all enjoyed the opinions of the world through the eyes of the voices that do not yet register as important
cross-posted on my own blog, too
Hats off to Senator Chris Dodd for doing what his constituents have called upon him to do by vowing to block the FISA bill as long as it grants immunity to the telephone companies for their complicity in illegal wiretaps.
The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.
I have decided to place a “hold” on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President’s assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.
I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.
Now, where are the rest of the Democrats? We’ve heard from Sen. Specter and Sen. Dodd. Where do the rest of them stand? If they cave on this, then it’s time to raise up a strong third party and put an independent in office.
If you agree with Dodd’s vow to place a hold on the FISA legislation, please visit his site and sign the petition supporting him.