PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts


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  1. I was watching on C-span while the house debated this, and it shocked me that it passed, since when I watching it so many of the senators seemed to have such strong feelings against it. (I fell asleep before they voted). It seems like the Bush Administration is very effective at propagating fear, and that makes that last amendment seem like cold comfort.

    Comment by Toki-chan — Saturday, August 4, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  2. The bipartisan agreement on this bill was that it would have to have 60 votes to move forward. In the end it got exactly 60, passing 60-28. That probably means that there were a few more Democratic ‘if needed’ votes for it that were cast against. My guess is several wanted to vote against a bill that passed.

    That puts the wails of anguish that came from the Senate earlier on this in a very political light. Easy to scream defiance about how the Bush administration was doing things, but when faced with the prospect of taking responsibility they whimpered.

    As far as political repercussions, this is a perfect example why so few presidents have come directly from the ranks of the Senate in modern times. Cautiousness is in the senatorial DNA. It’s hard for the cautious to lose their seat, but being blamed for actions that could have prevented bad things could do just that. Executives don’t have the luxury of remaining forever cautious.

    Comment by Buckland — Saturday, August 4, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  3. I don’t think Steven’s last paragraph is even a slight digression. It goes to the heart of the matter. I just would drop the term, “pro-defense.” A massive state capacity for violence, like that for spying, is not about defense, per se, but about domination-whether of citizens of developing countries or our own. This fact was certainly recognized by Madison and other founders. We citizens have let our “leaders” conveniently forget that.

    As for the Senate vote, I suppose it is always useful to have reminders of why the two-party system is broken. Neither party stands for freedom or democracy, despite the constant use and abuse of those words by office-holders and office-seekers under both parties’ banners.

    Comment by MSS — Sunday, August 5, 2007 @ 11:07 am

  4. […] Jack Balkin, writing at Balkinization is rather unimpressed with the Congress’ behavior on the new FISA bill: The passage of the new FISA bill by the Senate and now the House demonstrates that the Democrats stand neither for defending civil liberties nor for checking executive power. They stand for nothing at all. Conversely, the new bill shows that the Republican Party can get the Democrats to surrender almost any civil liberty- indeed, to give the President just as much unchecked power as he might obtain under a Republican controlled Congress- simply by playing the fear card repeatedly and without shame. […] Whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, Congress seems willing to bestow more and more unaccountable power to the President of the United States. The Democratic Party, which has long prided itself on its support for civil liberties, seems altogether to have lost its soul, and the Republican Party, which long contained a strong element of libertarianism and respect for individual freedom- particularly in economic matters- has given up any claims to providing a counterweight to a deluded and incompetent President. […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » America’s Two Party System: “The Party of Fear, the Party Without A Spine” — Sunday, August 5, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  5. I can’t help but think that some of the Democrat Senators were (perhaps subconsciously) calculating that the next President will be a Democrat and therefore, the bill was not as dangerous as it would be in the hands of Gonzalez/Bush.

    I’m not trying to excuse their vote, I’m just trying to understand it in all it’s wonderful dumbnitude.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Monday, August 6, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  6. I was very surprised that President Bush won this round. He’s had a free ride for so long, I guess I had forgotten his ability to get what he wants in a hostile political environment.

    Of course, Congress said one of the big reasons they voted for the bill was that the President threatened to take away their month-long vacation. That’s pretty petty. OTOH, I don’t know if the President really can force Congress to stay in session. It seems to me that Congress ought to be in charge of it’s own calendar.

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Monday, August 6, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  7. Well, hell, if you know anybody to call overseas, you are automatically suspicious, right. Real Americans don’t know foreigners.

    I follow the news, and the media presented this measure as if it were just to cover foreign-to-foreign communication when the switching was routed through the US. Once again, the media has let us down. And now they decry the injustice in their editorials instead of screaming foul on the front page.

    Looks like we’re going to have to raise hell for next 6 months to get them to back away from 1984.

    I saw THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM yesterday which is a major caution on unsupervised domestic spying; fiction often gets at the truth better than badly covered news stories. They point up the cameras on every street corner in Britain, for instance; Orwell knew it would start there. It will be here soon.

    Comment by John McMullen — Monday, August 6, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

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