S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Seen in the light of day --

It is now the day after Super/Duper/Tsunami/etc. Tuesday. As the sun comes up it is apparent to me that my Texas vote in our March 4 primary may make a difference, after all. I like that idea. Lots and lots of voters also thought it would make a difference as they turned out to ballot or caucus yesterday. The New York Times has a great overview of it all. The Washington Post's "The Trail" provides a great state by state Super Tuesday digest. As in every election so far this year, there were large numbers of people casting votes, according to the Associated Press. As a result, the Republican race is more decisively in the hands of Senator John McCain, and the Democratic race is more even between Senators Clinton and Obama than ever before. It is, as I said recently, a "delicious dilemma." Roger Simon at calls it "a fine mess."

In the light of day we see the damage from widespread tornadoes that brought terrible tragedy to several states in the U.S., including Super Tuesday states Arkansas and Tennessee. Over 30 people were killed, according to the Reuters story, from which I quote:

The storms tore across Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, overturning trucks, trapping people, ripping up houses, smashing cars, and uprooting trees. By Wednesday morning, the city of New Orleans and the state of Georgia were also under tornado warning. Two of the states hit by the tornadoes -- Arkansas and Tennessee -- were among the 24 "Super Tuesday" states that held nominating contests before November's presidential election.

Sunrise in Washington will see Congress still hard at work, despite the political races and a 370 point stock market plunge on Super Tuesday. The Senate is debating its own economic stimulus package, as well as amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to the Washington Post. To quote:

Senate Democrats yesterday scrambled to find Republican votes to support their $157 billion economic stimulus measure and delayed a vote until later this week so that their presidential candidates can return to the chamber and support the measure.

. . . Reid said yesterday that "Obama and Clinton will not miss this important vote we're going to have on the stimulus package. But I have to give them a day's notice to get here."

Meanwhile, Democrats scheduled votes for today on several amendments to the electronic surveillance bill. However, it put off until tomorrow a vote on an amendment that would deny immunity to telecom companies being sued for invasion of privacy for cooperating with warrantless government wiretaps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The immunity provision battle has been provoked by dozens of privacy lawsuits and an outcry among liberal activists, but the Senate has already cast one vote showing that Democratic leaders lack the votes to strip legal protections for the telecommunications industry.

In light of the information provided to the public yesterday by leaders of the nation's intelligence community, voters might have been frightened enough to vote for any candidate who promises to keep us safe from our enemies. Off the Senate floor yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee held its "annual national threat" hearing at which the heads of all the major security agencies testified. The list included FBI Director, Robert Mueller, and the head of the intelligence arm of the defense department, among others. See it on C-SPAN: Senate Select Cmte. on Intelligence Hearing on Annual Threat Assessment (02/05/2008). In testimony General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA made an admission of waterboarding that marked a first for the Bush administration. Admiral Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence warned that Al Qaeda is attempting to train and infiltrate terrorists who are indistinguishable from the rest of us into the U.S. Glenn Greenwald at closed his insightful post yesterday with this, from which I quote:

This is really, really scary. We better forget about checks and balances and oversight and restraints of any kind and everything else and just make sure that the President can spy on our emails and telephone calls with no oversight, otherwise Al Qaeda is going to slaughter us in our Homeland. And we also better make sure that telecommunications corporations don't have consequences when they break the law, otherwise we're doomed, because Al Qaeda is coming.

Or, as leading fear-mongerer and proponent of limitless surveillance powers, Jay Rockefeller, put it today:

"Al Qaeda has used this border safe haven to reconstitute itself and launch offensive operations that threaten to undo the stability brought to Afghanistan and undermine, if not overthrow, the Pakistan government," said Mr. Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.

This, Mr. Rockefeller added, gave Al Qaeda "a base of operations from which to plot and direct attacks against the United States."

After scaring everyone with the latest Al-Qaeda-is-Coming warnings, the CIA also admitted for the first time that it waterboarded detainees in its custody, but what's a little water up the nose -- or a little presidential omnipotence -- when Al Qaeda is coming to get us in our Homeland?

Senator Rockefeller shed a little light, for me at least, on why he has gotten off track as a rational Democrat who has an understanding of the importance of guarding civil liberties as well as spying on our enemies. To explain my view, at one point he gave a little history lesson about China. He talked about how the Chinese leaders have never been elected, and have, thus had to practice repression, "because they fear their own people," the Senator said. Later, Rockefeller questioned the witnesses repeatedly about the possibility of people in the United States becoming disaffected enough to turn to terrorism. He decried the state of the nation's youth because of sex and violence in entertainment, etc. I understood, all of a sudden, that Senator Rockefeller, may have become afraid of his own people. It sometimes happens to people as they grow older. How many of us elders have come to believe that the nation's youth have "gone to hell in a hand basket?" I am not one of them. I find myself much more in the camp of those fresh faces standing on the stage behind Senator Barack Obama. I now find myself a universe apart from the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, for whom I used to have a great deal of affection and admiration.

I am now deep into today's FISA amendments debate on C-SPAN. I am not optimistic that a majority of the Senators will come to their senses. They have, themselves, become the latest victims of the administration's relentless fear-mongering.

View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

Technorati tags:

No comments: