Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Well, 50 percent of the country thinks Brad Pitt's a good actor, too

Since that's the case, I'm not gonna get too depressed over how many people think the government has every reason to hang on American citizens like Mickey Rourke playing a drunk, horny barfly.

Not that I don't trust your overall judgment, America.

Just that I watched The People's Choice Awards last night, so I'm skeptical of your taste. I mean, Ray Romano, again? Is that the best you can do? And don't even get me started on how you continue to snub Gilmore Girls -- the wordiest, wittiest show on television.

Yes, nuance is not your strong suit, and the nuances of the Bill of Rights must be real headscratchers. So, let's cover this briefly for the full 50 percent who believe warrantless spying on Americans is keen:

FISA rules allow for warrantless spying, provided the court is petitioned within 72 hours of the event for a retroactive warrant. The problem with what Bush has allowed is the fact that he and those he authorizes never returned for a warrant in most instances.

It's not "Well, there was no time."

There was. And retroactively, to boot.

It's not "Well, these are bad guys!"

We don't know who exactly was being spied upon. According to Russell Tice, a whistleblower on the NSA featured on Nightline last night, if the NSA was using its full capabilities and eavesdropping technology, the number of those with calls being intercepted is somewhere in the millions.

"That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum," Tice said.


It's not "Well, the FISA court has strident rules that have to be worked around!"

Of all the requests FISA received for warrants, they've only turned down a handful, four or five in total.


It's not "Well, we're at war!!

Only Congress has the right to declare war. Whatever we're "at" in Iraq, it's not a legally declared war. It doesn't provide our Unitary Executive the right to run willy-nilly using technology like kids use glass cups against walls to listen-in on their parents.


It's not "Well, Carter and Clinton and Magilla Gorilla did it, too!"

Carter and Clinton followed the rules of FISA. Yes, they used FISA, but with warrants. And in the case of Magilla, extra bananas. Warrants are the entire issue. Period.


Logic dictates that in the absence of these strawmen arguments we're left with a serious and disturbing question: If FISA is lenient, allows for retroactive warrants and former presidents followed their rules --- Bush knows he can't get warrants for the groups and individuals on whom he's spying. And if FISA won't issue warrants, it's because no just cause exists to issue them.


So, then, why are we going forward with the Alito nomination hearings?

Not that they're without value, if one finds such spectacle amusing.

So far, Alito's shown himself to be to the right of wingnut Bork, who was judged "too radical" to sit on the Supreme Court. He's refused to deem Roe as a settled precedent. He's exposed himself as the judicial DDR nominee, dancing around faster and more adroitly than even John Roberts, former Senate hearing "Dance, Dance Revolution" master.

Alito's hogging the dance floor so much, he's left us with little wiggle room ourselves: based on his "answers" thus far, he's either a dangerous radical to the right of Bork or a full-on liar. Take your pick.

But, that aside, really -- why go forward ? It can't just be another vehicle for Biden bloviations. We can have those anytime. Just turn on Meet the Press any Sunday: there's Joe.

What we shouldn't be having are nomination hearings for Bush's court picks until after we've had a full investigation into wiretapping. If our representatives had any guts whatsoever, they'd organize and stage a walkout on this hearing, demanding the issue of illegal wiretapping get their full, undivided first attention.

It's painful to see half the country roll completely over on their own Constitutional rights just mere decades after we impeached Nixon for less. What has happened to our electorate? Are we really more afraid of terrorists than a corrupt government engaged in illegal activities against its own people?

We're trading freedom for safety, apparently blind to the fact that we're less safe today than we were on 9/11, according to the 9/11 Commission leaders. So depressing and pathetic is this fact, I'm surprised it hasn't won its own People's Choice Award.
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