Totalitarianism? OK, Not Quite

"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler as his microphone was shut off during a meeting of the House Judiciary committee on Friday morning. Apparently committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had had enough of the debate and decided to take the ball and go home.

As anyone who has read this blog somewhat regularly can attest, I try to avoid excessive use of hyperbole. I really am getting sick inside at the amount of effort some Republicans are putting into avoiding discussion of issues for which they have no good answers! Can't anybody learn from past mistakes? For the GOP that would mean Nixon's Waterloo, er, Watergate scandall. For the Dem's it's gotta be Slick Willy's "I din't have no sex wit' dat chick" stupidity. Nevermind which one was worse for the country*, they both resulted in crises which would have been less disruptive of government if the principals had been more forthcoming early on.

But nooo... Everybody has to have their way and ignore reality if it might possibly make them look bad or result in a set-back for their cherished little ideas.

There is a very basic premise at issue here: The Patriot Act contains Super-Constitutional elements which have been deemed appropriate and integral by the Congress for the protection of the "Homeland" during a time of "War." Without going into how much that word "Homeland" makes my non-nationalistic self shudder (Homeland - Vaterland,) I think the act's concept is a good one. There are extremist nutters out there (not to mention within the homeland {shudder}) who would see our way(s) of life destroyed in order sublimate their mythology rather than taking responsibility for the mess in which they find their own versions of civilization. It has been a matter of no limited discussion that the YES vote to institute the Patriot Act was ridiculously quick and poorly debated (Ha! There's some understatement to off-set the hyperbole of this post's title.)

Sensenbrenner's spokesman, Jeff Lungren, derided the Democrat's for their determination to fully engage in meaningful debate.
We have a number of members on our committee for whom 5 minutes is never enough. Five hours is closer. You're trying to be respectful of everyone's time and [Sensenbrenner] was very, very generous…Democrats wanted to turn a thoughtful review of the Patriot Act into open mic night at the Improv...
Uh, sure Jeff. And I bet your arms are tired from the flight in from Wisconsin. {sigh} What seems more likely, given the partisanship this Congress is so notable for embracing, is that the chairman had simply decided that this particular meeting had gone on long enough since it is the only one, amongst dozens concerning reauthorization of the Pat Act, to include witnesses who were called exclusively by the Democrats.

'Tis a shade of the Nuclear Option debacle vis-a-vie the Senate's use of the filibuster. The party in power has determined that such power obviates the lesser party's opinion. "The people have spoken" becomes "Winner takes all" and not even nuts to the losers! Folks, this tactic is NOT a democratic one. The Constitutional Democratic Replubic that is the United States of America is based upon Majority Rule with the Consent of the Minority
**: Compromise. That usually means looong hours of dickering and less than desired out-comes for both (or all) sides of any debate. It also, and most importantly, means that The Mob does NOT rule. It means that there is no way on Earth that BIG BROTHER shall ever, Ever assume control.

* IMHO, Nixon's was worse for the country and the Slick one's was worse for the Dems - which may actually mean for the country... hhhmmm...

** If you don't think so, try reading the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution again...


  1. I love this blog. You are absolutely right about the Patriot Act, though I feel that it should be RENEWED (not made permanent) if necessary.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my site. I would encourage you to continue doing so.

  3. Thanks American. I agree that the Pat Act should be renewed, with slight modifications, as well.

    All these stories 'bout "defiling the qur'an" do give me pause: why are these detainees allowed these trappings of their dogma? Are not their rights to Think whatever they want unimpeded? Are the warden's administering electric shocks every time a prisoner is seen praying? Are the prisoners themselves being urinated upon? Shat on? Spit on? If not I support lobbying for changes in the Geneva Convention regarding accoutrements of religious worship as well. A person's brain is all they need for such a thing. Period. Otherwise we'd be "forced" to allow folks small-arms and body parts if they claimed their use were necessary for their worship. That is utterly disgusting and ridiculous.

    They're in prison. Yes the conditions are somewhat ambigous and the P.A. may or may not be right for allowing this. I think this may also be where it goes a little too far but have not debated the issue enough to know what precise elements in this regard I would disallow. The last time I checked though, people go to prison during time of war (and right or wrong, that's what "we've" decided the terrorism crisis is) being enemy combattants. They LOSE THEIR RIGHTS except in regards to personal physical health and safety.

    The problems with the P.A. are regarding the repression of privacy rights belonging to All people in this country. They want to check my Library Card??? I want to check their heads for brains!

  4. dude, am reading "all the president's men" right now - since I haven't finished it yet, all I can say about your current rant is, the more things change, the more they stay the same. ;)

  5. Hi, all,

    While I generally agree with you that the PA goes too far in intruding on free citizens, I disagree with some of your other points.

    First, the Supreme Court has frequently expanded the rights of prisoners to practice their religions, and readings from the Qu'ran (or Bible, or...) are very commonly part of daily ritual. If this were happening to Christians, here or abroad, many Americans would be just as incensed as many Muslims are. Besides, if people are reading and praying, they aren't plotting escapes or causing riots.

    Second, while these folks are prisoners, most of them have never been tried or convicted. That's more than just "ambiguous;" that makes their incarceration a violation of our Constitution, and a war fueled by the rhetoric of "defending our freedom" which violates our Constitution is not a just war.

  6. I've had the same uneasy feeling about a "Department of Homeland Security" - that's one of the most (perhaps only) apt comparisons to Nazi Germany of the hundreds I've heard in the last few years. Unfortunately it was such a bipartisan bit of Nazism that I can't honestly remember which party I heard the phrase from first. On top of that, the Dept. is entirely redundant. Is it law enforcement? We have the DOJ. Military? We have the DOD. Is it for militarizing the administration of domestic justice? That's just plain scary. Is it for turning the military into police around the world? That's almost as scary.

  7. the Dept. is entirely redundant.

    Agreed! What is it for? From its inception (cultural aeons ago) it has one purpose: keeping the activities of the government Secret from those who oppose the leadership.

    Isn't the NSA supposed to cover that arena? Sure! But the Admin (could have been almost any Admin) can't fire everyone who doesn't toe their line so they need a new group of hand-picked snots to do it THEIR WAY.

    The more I research this Act, the more I think that it should be whittled down to 2 or 3 paragraph's which point to short-term and Terrorism-Specific enhancements of the duties and responsibilities of other Departments (NSA, CIA, FBI.)


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