Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Telecoms win, America loses

(Daniel Kurtzman,

I'm disappointed about this, but not terribly surprised.

The Senate, by a 69-28 vote, sent the House bill for the FISA overhaul to President Bush's desk, where he'll probably have to restrain himself from giggling uncontrollably while he signs it with his child-like scrawl.

The bill includes complete immunity for crimes that the giant telecommunications corporations MAY have committed in their mindless rush to serve our lord and master's every whim and desire, regardless of the letter of the law. We'll never know for sure what crimes they may have committed, the details of the widespread nature of the surveillance, or indeed, the actual chain of command the orders came down for them to spy on all of us.

Very few people, especially the uncritical media, seem to grasp why telecom immunity is a terribly bad thing.

Nobody really gives a crap about punishing the telecoms. What would have come out of any investigation would have been countless hours of testimony from telecom executives about the way they were illegally pressured into spying on Americans, and the extent of the spying. The testimony would have eventually been used to put members of the Bush administration on trail in the coming years.

That won't happen now, at least as far as any telecom angle goes. And regardless of what fixes to this flawed FISA act we'll see made next year when we'll have a Democratic President and a vigorous majority in Congress, once you give immunity you can't take it back.

It's a done deal. Bush and Friends managed to squeak through yet another in an endless series of close calls. They really are the Teflon Administration, apparently.

Sen. Barack Obama voted for the bill, despite his campaign promises to the opposite. Again, this troubles me somewhat, but doesn't surprise me very much. I've never considered Obama to be a true a progressive candidate, and I have a feeling we'll see his presidency resemble Bill Clinton's conservative-Democratic administration to a large extent. I know that right now within the lefty blogosphere there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about Obama's vote, but I'm willing to accept the fact that NO candidate is going to please "all of the progressives, all of the time".

Of course, no matter what Obama does while in office, it won't come close to approaching the massive crap-storm that will rain down on our nation should John Sidney McCain somehow manage to slither on his mottled belly into the Oval Office.

I can come to terms with the fact that Obama needed to vote for the FISA bill even with that toxic immunity pill included, or else he'd give McCain more ammunition to claim that he's "soft on terrorism" or some such bullshit. Listen, it was a 69-28 vote. His vote was totally meaningless. I can see if it was 49-48 and his was the deciding vote and he voted that way; of COURSE we would be righteously pissed. But his vote turned out to be largely symbolic, and if it helps get him some more votes in important swing states, then so be it.

So, all you voters out there who are angry about this, try not to forget the importance of putting a Democrat, even a slightly imperfect one, into the White House this November. It's the only way we'll see ANY chance of the Constitution being put back in effect.


chele said...

McCain evaded any fallout either way by simply not showing up for the vote. Hillary voted against it, surprisingly. I think she was turning the knife. Obama is making it harder and harder for me to mark that box this November.

Ramos South Africa said...

This is absolutely ridiculous…how can something like his be passed?!?!? Its ripping the constitution to pieces, and its being allowed, publicly.
This is not good, another step forward for the “Teflon Administration”, 1 step closer to total control of America.
Americas forefather are turning in their graves…..

Sigh, what can we do? Is it too late…??????

CT Bob said...

As Sen. Russ Feingold said last night, an Obama administration will begin fixing the laws early next year.

It's OK to be pissed. It's OK to scream, write letters, complain on blogs, and to give Obama the stink-eye the next time you see him. But just don't let it stand in the way of supporting him to be President.

Because even if he did ten more such things before November, he'd STILL be better than McCain.

oldswede said...

Did you read Gail Collins in yesterday's (7/10/08) N.Y.Times? She doesn't think he has changed his positions at all. We just have not been listening to him:
"Think back. Why, exactly, did you prefer Obama over Hillary Clinton in the first place? Their policies were almost identical — except his health care proposal was more conservative. You liked Barack because you thought he could get us past the old brain-dead politics, right? He talked — and talked and talked — about how there were going to be no more red states and blue states, how he was going to bring Americans together, including Republicans and Democrats.
"Exactly where did everybody think this gathering was going to take place? Left field?
"When an extremely intelligent politician tells you over and over and over that he is tired of the take-no-prisoners politics of the last several decades, that he is going to get things done and build a 'new consensus,' he is trying to explain that he is all about compromise. Even if he says it in that great Baracky way."
Collins is a very astute, insightful writer and she makes some other excellent points. Here's one:
"But if you look at the political fights he’s picked throughout his political career, the main theme is not any ideology. It’s that he hates stupidity."
It was a sad day for Connecticut when she stopped writing her column for the Courant.

CT Bob said...

Good comment. I'll have to read Gail's columns in the Times.

Even though I usually indulge in it, I generally do hate stupidity. :)