Friday, March 14, 2008

Democrats Begin Bipedal Movement

After a closed session on Thursday, the House passed the Democratic proposal for amendments to FISA on Friday, the specifics of which were in Thursday's post. It appears that the Dems have realized the feeble objections of the Republicans were not unassailable and that they could even ignore or defy them at times.

In passing the bill, which will still have a tough time passing the Senate, the Democrats kept retroactive immunity out and put confidentiality protection for the telecoms in. However, this action only stood to prove that when Bush and his minions say 'compromise,' they mean 'do as we say,' as this seemingly reasonable compromise was met with predictable objections from the right.

In presenting these objections, proponents of blanket immunity only illustrate with ever-growing clarity that their arguments are as baseless as they are erratic. Tony Fratto with the current White House version:

Their bill would make it easier for class-action trial lawyers to sue companies whose only offense is that they are alleged to have assisted in efforts to protect the country after the attacks of September 11.

Sorry, Tony, better luck next time. They're not charged with being helpful, they're charged with doing so illegally. But congrats on the ability to keep this charade of illogical tripe going with a straight face. And about the use of 'alleged.' If you want to cast doubt that the companies actually aided you, you might want to shy away from throwing everything you have into trying to protect them from prosecution. When I was younger, I used to try this by flinging myself on top of my mattress when my mother went to flip it. And it certainly wasn't because I had any magazines under there.

The 'they-we're-being-patriotic' reasoning is only the latest in the White House's series of arguments. This shifting is reminiscent of the lead-up to the Iraq War (Saddam's a bad man. No wait, he's bad and he has WMDs. Non-starter? What if he was responsible for the WTC? Umm...democracy. That's the ticket!).

Once upon a time, it was 'well, if immunity's off the table, the phone companies won't cooperate.' One has to assume that this was dropped as the main talking point once a pre-law student informed the administration that a company can't refuse to comply with a legally-acquired warrant. This is a point that is somehow missed in most discussions of immunity; a tragic failure to include a little common sense.

Then, it was 'well, even if it was illegal, the Justice Department said they weren't breaking the law.' Unfortunately for Bush, the Constitution and laws don't change based on JD advisement. But the Democrats even threw him a bone on this one, allowing the companies to bring those advisements to trial in their defense. So that talking point's out, too, I guess. What do you do when the opposition includes a provision that makes your rationale a moot point?

Bush and the Republicans have tried their best to stir up fear on the intelligence bill, but the more they speak, the more it becomes clear their arguments lack validity or substance. Every legal argument thrown out is shot down post haste, so they gravitate to the emotional. When that, too, fails to elicit the response they desire, they call secret sessions to stall and pretend to have some secret information we're all missing. And that's only after they decide they even want to stay in the room and talk about it.

Although this bill will die either in the Senate or the President's desk, it does succeed in showing just how ineffective the Republican fear machine has become, and that's a win for everybody.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: