Posts Tagged ‘Maddening Stupidity’
I am so sick and tired of “gridlock” and “squabbling” in Congress. Can’t we all just get along (by going with with the program)? Finally, we have a government with bi-partisan support. A government that has unlimited power to oppress its citizens, a federal-state coalition of military, police and corporate interests with the ability to arrest, detain, torture and even assassinate its any American, anywhere, at any time… yippee.
I feel so relieved… Hope and change, baby!
By Bill Van Auken
27 February 2010
With almost no debate, the Democratic leadership in Congress pushed through an unamended extension of the USA Patriot Act’s most notorious provisions, granting sweeping powers to eavesdrop and seize library, Internet and other personal records of US citizens.
The provisions were set to expire by Sunday. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation before then, securing his administration the ability to continue and expand the domestic spying and attacks on basic democratic rights that he and other Democrats had pretended to oppose under the Bush administration.
The three extended provisions give US intelligence agencies the power to: 1) conduct “roving” wiretaps without specifying a particular phone number or e-mail account; 2) force institutions to surrender credit, banking, medical, mental health and library records; and 3) spy on so-called lone-wolf foreign nationals, who have no affiliation to either terrorist organizations or foreign governments.
The Senate approved the one-year extension Wednesday by a voice vote and without any debate. The House followed suit on Thursday night, voting 315 to 97 in favor of the legislation.
Originally, the three provisions were to expire at the end of December, but Congress passed a two-month extension late last year, while continuing to discuss proposed amendments that would ostensibly introduce greater protection of privacy and constitutional rights.
Last fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved President Obama’s request to renew the measures after debating various limited proposals to increase judicial oversight and otherwise reform the legislation, while keeping its essential powers intact. The Obama administration offered no support for even the most modest changes, with both the Justice Department and the FBI calling for the provisions to be extended as is.
Among the proposed changes was an amendment that would have barred the government from using National Security Letters (NSLs)—administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon—to obtain confidential records of US citizens who are not suspected of terrorism or espionage. Another would have let the “lone-wolf” provision expire. A third would have required the government to issue written statements setting out the factual basis for obtaining an NSL. There was also a proposal to allow recipients of NSLs limited ability to challenge the so-called gag orders that bar them from informing anyone that they have been targeted for investigation.
A separate proposal called for the repeal of the section of the FISA Amendments Act that granted blanket immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government in its illegal warrantless wiretapping program.
Seeking bipartisan consensus on the legislation, all of these measures were defeated, with the committee ultimately adopting—with eight Democrats voting in favor and only three against—virtually meaningless proposals introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Senate intelligence panel.
Even these toothless amendments were stripped from the final extension resolution. Democratic leaders justified the action on the grounds that it was necessary to secure Republican support.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy justified extending the worst abuses in the Patriot Act without any changes by declaring, “I would have preferred to add oversight and judicial review improvements to any extension of expiring provisions in the USA Patriot Act, but I understand some Republican senators objected.”
The media has largely attributed the Democrats’ support for the renewal of the Patriot Act provisions and the scrapping of any attempt to amend them as an attempt to avoid any debate that would allow the Republican minority to portray them as “soft on terrorism” in the run-up to the midterm election.
While no doubt such cowardice and opportunism govern all of the decisions made by the Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the reality is that support for the police state measures introduced with the Patriot Act has been bipartisan from the outset.
The measure was passed by the Senate in 2001 with just one dissenting vote and under conditions in which members of Congress acknowledged that they had not even read the legislation. The Democrats have provided the necessary votes for approving every attack on democratic rights enacted since, while leading members of the party in Congress have collaborated in covering up illegal surveillance activities.
While the Democratic Party won the 2008 election based on a platform that explicitly promised to overturn unconstitutional provisions in the Patriot Act and halt “the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime,” since coming to office the Obama administration has continued and expanded these practices.
Successive reports have revealed that hundreds of thousands of NSLs have been issued since the Patriot Act was initially enacted, and there have been repeated revelations of illegal spying on American citizens—including reporters writing stories placing intelligence agencies in a bad light. Nonetheless, the Obama administration Justice Department insisted that there was no real abuse of authority under the Bush administration, and that therefore the act should be renewed.
At the same time, the administration has intervened repeatedly in lawsuits challenging illegal wiretapping under the Bush administration, invoking the “state secrets privilege” to have them quashed. Last October, US Attorney General Eric Holder used this method to seek the dismissal of a suit demanding a halt to the National Security Agency’s illegal dragnet surveillance of AT&T Internet communications and to hold Bush administration officials responsible for this unconstitutional program accountable.
The Obama White House opposes such lawsuits because it does not want its own powers curtailed and fears that any prosecution of former officials could set a legal precedent that could be used against it.
Similarly, it has opposed any probe of senior Bush administration and CIA officials responsible for the torture and killing of detainees, under conditions in which the Obama administration has upheld the policies of rendition and administrative detention without charges or trials.
Just as with its foreign policy that continues the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and an economic policy designed to defend Wall Street at the expense of workers’ jobs, wages and benefits, the Obama administration is continuing the wholesale assault on democratic rights initiated by its predecessor.
The staggering repudiation of the promises made by the so-called candidate of “change” is not a matter merely of Obama’s own duplicity. He heads a government that is dedicated to the defense of the essential interests of a financial oligarchy.
Under conditions of deepening economic crisis and in the face of ever-wider social polarization at home, it can defend these interests only by embracing the unconstitutional methods adopted by the Bush administration. The Obama White House is continuing to build up a police state not for use against some ubiquitous terrorist threat, but to counter the inevitable growth of mass struggles by the American working class.
Welcome to the new Nazi-free Germany… well, not quite free. The names have been changed to protect…. Israel.
If you are Jewish and criticize Israel, you can lose your job, go to prison, or be deported. Everything but the armbands. http://tinyurl.com/yed8d2q
And if you are Muslim, you can be knifed to death because of a scarf. During a trial at your local courthouse. http://tinyurl.com/yazbdow
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Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.
You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.
Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.
You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion’
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.
You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins.
How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.
I created a Black Russian yesterday with vanilla vodka, Creme de Cacao and choocolate soy yogurt. Very soothing especially while knitting. A remedy for too much research on the quake. French & US imperialism, US occupation, the IMF, the Clintons, natural and unnatural disasters, and so on. Today my stress was resolved with a screwdriver: orange juice, Absolut citron, ginger liqueur, & Grand Marnier.
One 9-11 after another. They’ll keep invading, we’ll keep pouring. At least until it finally reaches our house. Will it “take away the sting of the occupation…” as Monsieur Rick suggested? Not nearly enough…
“The merry dance of death and trade ” [Conrad] has accelerated to a breakneck pace. Not only are the merchants of death willing to destroy the earth, they’re willing to take the lives of millions of innocent people, all over the world, along the way. How many Pakistanis will freeze and starve this winter? Sri Lankans watch their children die? Haitians die will waiting for supplies? How many Gazans will be killed for their land? And how many children in Afghanistan and Iraq will be buried alive by US bombs? Oh, yes, it’s always “regrettable.” But there’s always a “higher goal.” But for any reason, it’s intolerable. It’s a crime that reaches to the skies. It could be our kids. It probably will be eventually. Driving one to drink.
ADDENDUM: Created my next 2 drinks in a happier scenario: a sewing bee-2-B. Natural pomegranate soda, Grand Marnier, Amaretto, lemon juice was the first. The second was Vanilla Vodka, Creme de Cocoa, Goldschlager, etc. Hasn’t all come back to me yet…