There is the current Bush administration and usually its Republican Congress. They have worked very hard — and incompetently — to make us less safe and less secure. Along the way and until today unfettered, they have both openly and surreptitiously worked to strip us of our long-loved and assumed rights and freedoms.
By a disturbingly small margin, the U.S. Senate came down on the right side of Americanism today. It rejected closing the debate on the speciously named USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, hardy har). George the Lesser needed 60 votes to force a vote in the Senate. The vote was 52 to 47, with two Democrats going to the Dark Side and five Republicans being moral.
In contrast, the House renewed this assault on American liberty Wednesday 251 to 174. Then again, that body has the deserved reputation as the more puerile and emotional of the chambers.
All the papers and wires are carrying the story. The Washington Post recapped the effect of the law:
The Patriot Act, approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, made it easier for the FBI to conduct secret searches, monitor telephone calls and e-mails, and obtain bank records and other personal documents in connection with terrorism investigations. Critics said the proposed renewal would do too little to let targeted people challenge national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI substantial latitude in deciding what records -- including those from libraries -- should be surrendered.The obvious and unanswerable question is what are these bozo Congressmen thinking or drinking? They can say that real freedom is letting any crackpot get a gun without a permit or waiting period. Yet, it is okay to spy on, lie to and even physically abuse Americans and visitors. That's not the way the WWII folk raised their Boomer kids. We don't buy it.
In a beautiful synchronization, the NY Times broke the story that our what-me-worry? and what-me-think? President authorized the ultra-secret National Security Administration to intercept and record or copy the calls and emails of possibly thousands of Americans without showing cause. [Search warrants? We don't have no warrants. We don't need no stinking warrants!]
That may sink into the skulls of even the most mindless of the Administration's supporters.
Let us be thankful that the Senate may have queered George the Lesser's authoritarian anti-democracy. May it be a trend and may the House get its house in order.