Friday, December 16, 2005

That's My Neighbor
The Senate's refusal to reauthorize major provisions of the Patriot Act is why we love us some Russ Feingold up here. The Patriot Act was bad law, drafted in haste and passed in an atmosphere of panic after September 11, when the number-one priority of Congress was to get its business done so that members could go out to the Capitol steps and sing "God Bless America." Russ Feingold was the only senator who read the whole thing--and thus, the only one who can say that he knew what he was voting on. Unlike all 99 of his colleagues, many of whom would have voted, in those fearful days, to make George W. Bush dictator for life if he'd asked them to.

On the reauthorization, Repugs could probably have gotten a three-month extension of the act, to permit more time for debate and dealing, but they demanded the up-or-down vote now, even after it became clear they were going to lose. Either they thought their usual methods of strong-arming and demagoguery would work this time like they've always worked before--or (and this is, to me, the more compelling reason) they're still panicked. They're still seeing terrorists under every bed, still convinced that if they don't rein in as much of the Bill of Rights as possible, Osama bin Laden is going to do a double somersault into the well of the Senate with a suitcase nuke in his hand and a dagger in his teeth. So they had to have the vote right now right now RIGHT NOW or risk the loss of precious bodily fluids and all else America holds dear.

When you see grim-faced Repugs on the TV shows tonight, or read them ranting on the Internet or in the newspaper about how Feingold and the Democrats gave away the War on Terror, keep this in mind: Even if the Patriot Act were to disappear forever, ongoing investigations under the act can continue--and some of those investigations, like the war on terror itself, seem poised to continue eternally. And many law-enforcement officials believe that existing laws, in place before September 11, were more than adequate to fight most kinds of terrorist threats. We could have caught Mohammed Atta, for example, without the law-enforcement powers the Patriot Act provided, if we'd used them properly.

Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives yesterday, Jo Ann Davis, Representative from the State of O'Reilly, stood up for candy canes.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party: with a few exceptions (today they're Hagel, Murkowski, Craig, and Sununu), Wrong on Everything.

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