Sunday, August 05, 2007


How I Whored For My Summer Vacation

So, President Bush threatened to hold Congress into its summer recess if they didn't approve his legislation on reformatting FISA. Never mind the fact that the president's power over Congress is traditionally limited to the veto, and not to, say, legislative blackmail. He actually told Congress that they'd stay in session until he was presented with "a bill [he could] sign."

What did the Democrats do? They capitulated. So, what does Bush's wiretap program do now?

Privacy advocates accused the Democrats of selling out and charged that this bill gives the government more authority than it had under a controversial warrantless wiretapping program begun in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Under that program, the government could conduct surveillance without judicial oversight only if it had a reason to believe that one party to the call was a member of or affiliated with al-Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. This bill drops that condition, they noted.

That's right; the government can listen in on you, without seeking a warrant, no matter what the circumstances. Which means Bush can spy on queer folk and Quakers to his heart's content. All because he threatened Congress-- and, more pointedly, the Democrats-- with the loss of their summer vacation. And they gave in.

In some very key ways, the Democrats who voted for this bill have forgotten us. Sure, they fight for an end to the war. Sure, they fight for civil rights. But once someone threatens their own personal pleasure, they roll over. When we next go to the ballot boxes, we should remember just who they serve: themselves.

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