Tuesday, July 08, 2008



Count on these 5 and it'll be like living under Stalin

Last night I had dinner with an English friend, an attorney and businessman. He asked me how likely I thought it was that if the economy kept spiraling downward America would turn to a military strongman or a veiled proto-fascist dictatorship. Here? It couldn't happen here... could it? Today the U.S. Senate is debating a FISA bill that certainly sets the stage for exactly that. With it Congress allowing a runaway, powermad executive to usurp powers specifically prohibited it by the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution, powers to invade American citizens' privacy without a court warrant. We have come to expect this from George Bush and his cronies and the rubber stamp Republicans in Congress who have enabled him to do our nation such grievous harm. But Bush and the Republicans couldn't do it alone. They needed some Democrats.

Enter bribe-happy Democratic powermongers Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel, flush with gigantic "contributions" from the big telecoms looking for retroactive immunity for illegally spying on Americans. Hoyer and Emanuel were able to bribe and pressure enough Democrats who are unfit for office to cross the aisle with them and vote with the Republicans. Tomorrow the telecoms' best friend (i.e.- the one, other than presidential candidates, they give the most bribes to ), Jay Rockefeller (D-$51,500 this year alone) will try persuading Democrats in the Senate to do the same thing and vote with Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Joe Lieberman and John McCain to neuter another piece of the Constitution. It is nearly a foregone conclusion that Rockefeller will succeed. He's had a lot of grease spread for him by the Telecoms. Here are a list of some of the senators who seem ready to sell us out for the bribes-- and let's face it, ladies and gentlemen, these huge "contributions are bribes-- they have been given by the Telecoms this year alone:

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)- $51,500
Ted Stevens (R-AK)- $37,900
Susan Collins (R-ME)- $32,850
Mark Pryor (D-AR)- $31,350
Max Baucus (D-MT)- $28,000
Gordon Smith (R-OR)- $26,750
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)- $26,700
Roger Wicker (R-MS)- $26,600
John Sununu (R-NH)- $24,600
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $20,250
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)- $15,750
Sam Brownback (R-KS)- $14,200
Pat Roberts (R-KS)- $13,250

We contacted some of the candidates running for Congress against incumbents who voted to rubber stamp this frightening development. John Barrow in Georgia has been one of Bush's closets conspirators among right-wing Democrats. He has bragged how he has supported Bush "every step of the way" in Iraq. And he has been supporting Bush's dismantling of the constitutional protections that Americans cherish. A week from today Barrow-- who accepted $19,500 in bribes from Telecoms this year-- will face a primary challenge from state Senator Regina Thomas. She says she is stunned and outraged that Bush would pull this stunt. She remembers when the FBI illegally wiretapped Rev. Martin Luther King and she is dismayed that her own congressman is cheerleading this. "The concept of retroactive immunity is an affront to the American people. There shouldn't be two classes of Justice in this country, one for wealthy campaign donors and one for the rest of us."

Yesterday we published a statement from Dennis Shulman, whose opponent, right wing crazy Scott Garrett (R-NJ) has accepted $9,000 from the Telecoms this year and was happy to vote in favor of warrantless wiretaps and retroactive immunity. You should hit that link and read Dennis' statement. It's very powerful. So is one we got last night from Andrea Miller, a brilliant educator in Virginia who is running against a garden variety Republican pod who never says no to anything Bush wants, Randy Forbes. Of course it doesn't hurt that Forbes takes bribes right and left from all the corporations with special interests and dealings before Congress. The Telecoms have given him $8,550 this year. Andrea doesn't address his corruption, just the crisis in identity our nation is facing:
"As a teacher, I look at a lot of things from a historical perspective. Can anyone say 'Constitution,' does anyone remember Civics class from elementary school? The House recently passed a FISA bill that is an embarrassment to the concept of freedom and America. In a free society, the government does not spy on its citizens. The United States Constitution was written to create a free society and protect the individual rights of its citizens for all time. We just celebrated Independence Day, American independence from a tyrant's rule. It seems that we have simply exchanged a tyrant from one century for a new set of tyrants in the 21st century. The Constitution was written so that the new American democracy would never grant any individual the power of king. And now the House has decreed that the President is above the law and the President at any time can break any rule and declare that the law does not count. All parties involved in the FISA issue clearly understood that their actions were not allowed under the Constitution-- they simply decided that the Constitution no longer applied to them because they simply chose to ignore it.
If we are not a nation of laws, what kind of nation are we? If we break our laws in the name of national security, what kind of security can we have as a nation?"

And if you have any doubt about which way the Insiders-- whether Bush, McCain, the Republican sheep in Congress, or the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- are taking this country, watch this short video taken yesterday in Denver as a 61 year old librarian, peacefully exercising her express constitutional rights, was harassed and threatened by the police for saying what everyone in America already knows:

McCain = Bush

Had enough?

Goal Thermometer


Like the Republicans, Hoyer and Emanuel are taking a great deal of money from the Telecoms. They spread this money around to more corrupt members of the Democratic caucus, the easy votes on corporate matters-- like John Barrow and Chris Carney. In any rational discussion, this would be called "bribery," but Congress makes the "rules" that it has to live up to and they carefully redefine bribery to not include this kind of behavior. Hoyer took the lead in working with the Telecoms to make sure they get their money's worth. The resulting "compromise" is even worse than the atrocious bill Jay Rockefeller and Mitch McConnell got them.
The 114-page bill was pushed through the House so quickly that there was no real time to debate its many complex provisions. This may explain why the telecom immunity provision has received so much attention in the media: it is much easier to explain to readers not familiar with the intricacies of surveillance law than the other provisions. But as important as the immunity issue is, the legislation also makes many prospective changes to surveillance law that will profoundly impact our privacy rights for years to come.

Specifically, the new legislation dramatically expands the government's ability to wiretap without meaningful judicial oversight, by redefining "oversight" so that the feds can drag their feet on getting authorization almost indefinitely. It also gives the feds unprecedented new latitude in selecting eavesdropping targets, latitude that could be used to collect information on non-terrorist-related activities like P2P copyright infringement and online gambling. In short, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 opens up loopholes so large that the feds could drive a truck loaded down with purloined civil liberties through it. So the telecom immunity stuff is just the smoke; let's take a look at the fire.

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At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, of course you already HAVE this (ok so I am still shockable) SHOCKING video of a nice little oldish lady being removed or she will be arrested on public property for holding up a Bush=McCain sign!

I know this is full of really twisted irony/humor but first I am really sad for our country.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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