Friday, July 11, 2008
Another betrayal of "West Wing" ideals
My heroes are mainly fictional, and of those fictional heroes, roughly 80% of them are characters on The West Wing. Like all heroes -- real or fictitious -- the West Wingers taught me lots about life, the world, and how humans (certainly, Americans) should conduct themselves. And I can't help but wonder what they'd have made of the Senate's decision yesterday to broaden federal wiretapping powers.
Clarification: the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Now, I'm no lawyer -- I'm just a caveman. Your "iPhones" and "hybrid cars" confuse and frighten me. But I do know one thing: the Framers intended for Americans to be secure in their "papers" and "effects" from unwarranted search by their government…and by "unwarranted" they pretty specifically meant a pre-approved description of a bad guy.
Of course the Constitution is subject to interpretation. For example, the Second Amendment describes "a well-regulated militia." As my greatest West Wing hero Toby Ziegler points out, the Second Amendment does not describe "three guys in a Dodge Durango." Somewhere on the spectrum between the two, there is probably a reasonable compromise on gun ownership in this country.
But I'm pretty certain that the Framers never intended for the federal government to possess the power to eavesdrop without warrant (never mind probable cause) on American citizens. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if John Adams had received an advance copy of the July 11, 2008 New York Times and seen what was coming, he'd have just burned the whole government to the ground back then in 1791. (Of course, you would've had to explain to John Adams what "telecom surveillance" is…and "phones" too. But once you did explain all that, you can bet he'd be fucking pissed.)
And I'm pissed too, though not at the White House…I've come to expect this from those guys. My fury is reserved for the Democrats -- the congressional majority! -- who have once again rolled over out of fear of appearing "soft on national security." The Dems were swept into power in 2004 specifically to check this kind of recklessness.
And guess what, my fellow progressives…Barack Obama voted for this crap! He voted for it, and he'd have voted for it twice if he could. Because he's not "soft on terror," no no no…not with his convention coming up.
My brilliant friend Ryan Bradley once observed that there are two political parties in America -- "the pro-business party that's for abortion" and then "the pro-business party that's against abortion." Those were wise and troubling words, and now it looks like you can add another scary similarity between our two political "options": no regard whatsoever for our most basic liberties.
This would never have happened if Jed Bartlet were still president. That guy was a real Democrat…in the only place such a thing exists anymore, Make-Believe-Land.