Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Congressional Week

Will I ever get caught up on anything again? Given what would need to happen to provide the time to do so here, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for.

But nobody said I couldn't give it the old college try....

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In case you were naive enough to latch on to the hope that the Democrats had actually thrown in the towel on their relentless efforts to sabotage the Bush Administration's attempts to protect the country against another 9/11, this should prove a powerful antidote of reality:
Reflecting the deep divisions within Congress over granting legal immunity to telephone companies for cooperating with the Bush Administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new domestic surveillance law on Thursday that sidestepped the issue.
By a 10 to 9 vote, the committee approved an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that dropped a key provision for immunity for telecommunications companies that another committee had already approved. The Senate leadership will have to decide how to deal with the immunity question on the Senate floor.
On Thursday night, the House voted 227-189, generally along party lines, to approve its own version of the FISA bill, which also does not include immunity.
But the Administration has made clear that President Bush will veto any bill that does not include what it considers necessary tools for government eavesdropping, including the retroactive immunity for phone carriers that took part in the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program after the September 11 attacks.
It's very simple: without that legal immunity, "civil liberties" zealots (and their trial lawyer buddies) can sue telecom companies back to the Stone Age for what amounts to doing their patriotic duty to safeguard the lives of American citizens. This would provide a powerful disincentive for them to cooperate in the government's efforts to monitor enemy communications and impede their efforts to inflitrate the country and unleash terrorist havoc. That disincentive is one of the "tools of war" that the Left wants to leave right where it is - in al Qaeda's U.S. arsenal.
The House version, BTW, is even worse:
The proposed legislation in the House has more problems than just a missing immunity package. Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) blasted the passage of the FISA bill yesterday, saying that the bill would "not help our troops or streamline intelligence collection to help prevent the next attack.” He noted that the bill would require NSA for the first time to limit its foreign (and therefore warrantless) surveillance to only those situations where "certainty" exists that no US persons will be party to the communications, a new and potentially crippling standard. Previously, NSA could proceed until it became apparent that a US person was participating in the communication. This would mean that the NSA would have to wait on warrants for potentially all of its investigations. [emphasis added]
....while American cities go up in flames, one right after the next.
And when President Bush vetoes the monstrous hybrid that emerges from House-Senate conference committee? The Dems will then loudly proclaim that they "tried to provide the American people constitutional FISA reform" that would "protect them from the terrorists," but George W. Bush "stood in the way."
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Meanwhile, the Battle of the Budget rages on - and the Democrats are not getting the best of the fight:
House Democrats were unable to override President Bush's veto of a key domestic spending bill yesterday, forcing the party back to the drawing board on some of its most important domestic initiatives, including early-childhood education and heating-bill payments for the elderly.
With a vote of 277-141, Democrats lost their bid to defy Bush's veto of the labor, health and education bill. The vote was a setback for the Democratic social agenda championed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (WI), the bill's chief architect.
The $606 billion bill includes spending for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as $151 billion in discretionary spending, including more money for medical research, Head Start, student loans, job training and a range of assistance programs for low-income people.
The bill is the largest of a dozen 2008 spending bills at the center of a battle between the White House and Congress over the federal budget.
It was the first to draw a veto from Bush, who has threatened to do the same to most appropriations bills because of what he says is excess spending by Congress.
That excess spending included more pork than a Porky Pig convention, a little detail the WaPo helpfully chose to omit:
David Obey called Republicans "lemmings" for upholding Bush's veto. However, Obey could have sacrificed his twelve earmarks in this bill in order to set an example to the hundreds of other legislators who put over 2,000 pork-barrel line items into this appropriation. Charles Rangel's Monument to Me certainly didn't get challenged by Democratic leadership or rank-and-file, even after John Campbell (R-CA) spoke out against the $2 million self-aggrandizement project on the House floor. All of that spending could buy some home heating oil this winter , too, but Democrats didn't consider redirecting that money back into that project.
Is anybody paying attention to the fact that the REAL "culture of corruption" has been back in business since January, and is not bothering to conceal its orgyistic bread & circuses? Or is it a case, as the Donks no doubt have calculated, that as long as they cut in most voters for a "piece of the action," the latter won't care how much the majority party wallows in the earmark mire? Next November should prove very educational on that score. I wish I could be more confident that this is not the lesson that will be driven home.
Still, for now, you know the Dems were frustrated by their invocation of parallels with war funding, as though the budget is only a zero sum game with the portions of it that they don't support - and funding for which they haven't mustered the "courage" to cut off in any case.
So what's more important to Crazy Nancy and Porky Obey? Abandoning the troops or lining their own pockets? And wouldn't it be educational to see them actually have to make THAT choice?
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Remember how at the Philadelphia Donk presidential primary confab three weeks ago, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd was the "voice of reason" counterpoint to Hillary Clinton's pneumatic vibrating on drivers licenses for illegal aliens? It appears that even for designated Donk also-rans, sanity is only an occasional mental condition in the roiling sea of fractal neoBolshevik chaos:
Compare that case [the Moussaoui trial] to the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who organized the attacks of 9/11. He was held in a secret prison, where he claims he was tortured severely. Whether he is lying or not, by our actions we have allowed Khalid Mohammed to claim the moral high ground. Khalid Mohammed plays martyr to a world that is inclined to believe it.
So, let's see; Senator Dodd believes that it would have been preferable to not water-board KSM, not extract the intelligence that prevented several follow-up al Qaeda plots that would have killed thousands more Americans, so that a world that is inclined to believe the worst about the United States regardless of what we say or do might think a little bit better of us? What form would that take - allowing Uncle Sam to sit like a pet cocker spaniel at the base of the pedestal on which "the world" has already placed KSM for a perpetuity of hero-worship?
It reminds me of something former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said (paraphrased): "We [Israel] will not die so that the world might think better of us." And why should we pay such a stiff price tag when "the world" seems to be taking a fresh shine to us without our kissing the ass of "that mass-murdering bastard", whose word Chris Dodd appears to value above that of his own president?
And you wonder why Michael Savage calls liberalism a mental disorder?