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If you review Bush’s State of the Union Address from Monday night, you will note that his fear-mongering served one consistent aim: to attack the privacy rights and expectations of American citizens. Be afraid. Be very afraid, he tells us. Be prepared to surrender your privacy. Trust us. Big Government will only use all your private secrets to protect you.
Will he get his way? All eyes are turned on the White-flag Democrats. Will they do what they usually do, namely buckle and run? Or will they stand their ground and show that their office as members of Congress, their pledge to the Constitution actually mean something?
In the last twenty-four hours, both the House and the Senate have approved a fifteen day extension of the Orwellian Protect America Act, a law which gives Bush plenary discretion to tap the phone conversations of Americans conducted with anyone beyond our borders. In both cases, the Congressional chambers acted by voice vote, so that the positions of the members are unknown. According to Majority Leader Harry Reid, a “deal is in the works” now that would produce some consensus legislation.
But Glenn Greenwald offers us some solid analysis and speculation about what’s in the works:
there are really only two possible ways for all of this to be derailed:
(1) the Senate passes one or more pending amendments which is unacceptable to the White House and thus provokes a veto of the bill Congress passes (the most likely candidates: Sen. Feinstein’s amendment declaring (again) that FISA is the “exclusive means” for eavesdropping and/or Sen. Feingold’s amendment compelling the disclosure to Congress of the secret FISA court rulings which the White House claimed prompted the need for changes to FISA in the first place); or,
(2) the House stands firm with the bill it already passed and refuses to provide telecom amnesty and new warrantless eavesdropping powers, even once the Senate does so. At this point, option (1) seems far more likely, as the Blue Dogs can single-handedly fulfill all the President’s demands by voting (along with the Republicans) in favor of the Senate bill.
The White House–understandably–is extremely confident that they will win, as they always do, telling “conservative journalists” with whom they met today: “once the Senate votes to make FISA permanent–including immunity for the telecoms–the House will acquiesce.”
Here’s Senator Russ Feingold to remind us of what this struggle is all about.
Should we trust this administration—or any administration—with fundamental rights of privacy? Greenwald reminds us of the words that the Great Communicator used to deal with such appeals. Especially since his party is intent on falsifying his legacy, the words that Reagan delivered in accepting the nomination at the 1980 Republican Convention are worth recalling:
“Trust me” government is government that asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs–in the people.
The Bush Administration is putting the nation on the road to serfdom. Those who understand that fact keep quiet at their own peril. This is the time to check in with your representatives in Congress if you have not already done so. No to telecom immunity. No to extension of the PAA. No to warrantless surveillance of private communications.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”