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.


Dan said...

This seems like a great time to take credit, once again, for introducing you to The West Wing in the first place (or at least the first four seasons). You're welcome.

I'm extraordinarily pissed at Obama right now for suckering me in to thinking he might actually believe this "change" BS he's been spewing and then voting along with the Republicans to wreck the Fourth Amendment - and, adding insult to injury, Clinton made the correct vote on this bill. Now the money I was going to give to Obama's campaign is going instead to the ACLU to help in their lawsuit to attempt to undo the damage that Obama helped cause. And how about Feinstein? She voted for the FISA bill and against the amendment to remove immunity!

However, John Adams might be a poor choice of example for this particular rant, since his signature is on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, would have refreshed the Tree of Liberty by now.

Daniel Morris said...

From today's NY Times:

So hot is the speculation that war-crimes trials will eventually follow in foreign or international courts that Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, has publicly advised Mr. Feith, Mr. Addington and Alberto Gonzales, among others, to “never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel.”

rakiel said...

My kids will not be surprised (and i'm certain would be disappointed if i didn't) I quote now and forever the immortal words of Mr. Franklin - "Those who sacrifice a little liberty for a little safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

We continue to allow talking heads to lead us where we shouldn't want to go. I never was for Obama and now i'm stuck with him 'cause the alternative is worse. (I wonder if we en masse organized if we'd be able to get the delegates to change their mind and vote Clinton at the convention? - now that would be an exercise of the rights of the people!)

I don't care how liberal we think we've become - it clearly wasn't enough to back a bitch I trust would have fought these pricks. Pardon my French.

A white male dominated list of CEO's line their pockets and the pockets of their fellow CEOs without apology or shame; aided an abetted by elected official who retire on our taxes and make millions more heading up these same companies. They infringe on our benefits and our rights to beat us down because as a whole we’re complacent.

They're bastard - make no mistake about it.

That's how Obama beat Clinton you know.... You allowed yourself to believe - yes he could. But you didn't stop to check and see if he would. Well he won't because he is a compromiser not a leader. And, maybe we need that, to avoid, say - war.

But not when it comes to my civil liberties. Is that not the primary task of the President - to defend the constitution? And yes, Jefferson would be refreshing the Tree of Liberty............So why aren't we? We don't have to spill blood. We just have to organize. Hell, we could kill them with emails... that's what I'm going to do.

Don't just get pissed.

Brotherman said...

The way I see it we don't live in a democracy. We live in a capitolist society where money talks. If people were organized they could demand change by affecting the bottom line of companies who willingly or otherwise participate in the collection of information on behalf of the government. I mean people got by somehow without telecommunications once upon a time. But this would be inconvienant, and who has time for that.

How many people does it take to form a well maintained malitia?
This is a little off subject, but did you know it's illegal to put any kind of guidance system on even the smallest model rockets. It would then be considered a missile. All I want is a remote control rocket. Maybe if I had my own malitia I could get around this little snag.

Daniel Morris said...

Dude, we should go into the business of making hobby rockets with missile-guidance systems. That would be the coolest DIY kit ever.

(Dear National Security Agency: I'm not being serious.)