Friday, 27 May 2011

Congress Runs to the Aid of "Massa Gummint"

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The administration of Barack O'Bomber has not been a screaming success thus far, as just about any Republican will be happy to tell you. But a Democrat in the White House has one thing going for him that most Republicans don't like to admit. Whenever a big government program is in trouble, Republicans will ride to its rescue. That's bipartisanship. Being bipartisan means you never have to stand for principle.

That was never more true than Thursday evening when our elected representatives in the House of Ill Dispute rushed to affix its "Yes, Massa" to the extension of provisions of  the Patriot Act that would have otherwise expired at midnight. The House, with its Republican majority, went into the "Amen" corner as soon the needed legislation came over from the semi-senile Senate, where the Democrats are in control. Both houses performed, in effect, their three kneelings and nine prostrations before the all-powerful executive branch. And our Maximum Leader, the President of All the Planets, was in France, ready and eager to sign the bill with his "auto pen." 

To be sure, some members of Congress, bless their hearts, tried to reform the beast, with an effort to write some "congressional oversight" into provisions that allow secret searches of homes and businesses and a snooping through business, medical, and library records, all without a constitutionally required warrant, so long as someone in the executive branch of "Massa Gummint" says it's somehow "related" to a terrorist investigation. Probable cause that someone whose home, business, or records are being searched has committed or is committing a crime? Forget it. Massa Gummint don't need no probable cause. Massa Gummint is protecting us real good. Yessuh.

So the efforts at reform and "oversight" failed. As the so-called Patriot Act has been, so shall it be for another four years, when, no doubt, a few brave souls will again try to amend the bill and again Massa Gummint will convince the kennel-fed Republicans and Democrats in Congress that they need to leave it just the way it is, because to tamper with it will only encourage, strengthen, and embolden the terrorists who are trying to destroy our liberties. And we don't want terrorists to destroy our liberties, because that's the job of the President and the Congress and they are doing it quite well, thank you.

And if some little old librarian gets arrested and maybe even convicted and sent to a federal prison for not bowing at once to some government snoop with a National Security letter who wants to examine the reading selections or the emails of the library's patrons, well that's just a part of the price we have to pay to keep America strong and free. We Americans have always been willing to shed blood — usually other people's — in the name of national security. Why shouldn't we be willing to shed a little liberty, too?

See, that's the way bipartisanship is supposed to work, not like the coup Senators Pat Leahy and Rand Paul were trying to pull off. Leahy, a liberal Democrat from Vermont and the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Paul, the  freshman Senator from Kentucky and a Tea Party favorite, were conspiring right up to the last minute to put some reform and "oversight" into the dang legislation. But after a hundred or more incantations of the magic worlds, "national security," the congressional herd  abandoned Lady Liberty and rushed to the aid of Massa Gummint. As "Cool Hand Luke" said, "Yeah, those poor ol' bosses need all the help they can get."

And who gives a rat's keyster about congressional oversight, anyway? Who wants a busybody bunch  of Congress critters, who spend all the money they take from us and then some, looking over the shoulders of the men and women who do the important work of delving into the lives of the American people to make sure we're not aiding and abetting any terrorists. Leave those snoops alone for heaven's sake! Don't members of  Congress have better things to do, like investigating steroid use in major league baseball or maybe bringing 834 charges of ethics violations against a colleague they don't like? They don't have time for oversight of government agencies patriotically spying on the American people.

"The extension of the Patriot Act provisions," Senator Leahy said, "does not include a single improvement or reform, and includes not even a word that recognizes the importance of protecting the civil liberties and constitutional privacy rights of Americans."

Picky. Picky. We've got a government that will keep us safe, don't we? We've got the U.S. Army occupying roughly half the world, a Navy that's patrolling all the waterways, and an Air Force that's been bombing the lights out of Libya. You want all that and civil liberties, too? Whaddaya want, Leahy, egg in your beer? Caviar with your champagne? 

Get over it, guy. Civil Liberties were good in their day, but this is the new world order, pal. I mean, even Predator O'Bomber, who taught constitutional law for heaven's sake, knows that concern for civil liberties is "pre/911." He probably learned that from Georgie W(arlord) Bush, whose thinking on the subject (assuming he did some) was what former Senator Russ Feingold called "pre-1776." Heck, maybe even pre-1215, when that wimpy King John signed the Magna Carta. Suppressing liberty has a long and venerable tradition, going back through centuries of famous Kings and Queens and Emperors and strong government types like Nero and Diocletian, Caesar and Cleopatra, and Alexander the Great. So conservatives, especially, should be willing give the Bushama administration the benefit of the doubt and "stay the course." 

That's what the House of Howling Hypocrites did. Tea Party or no Tea Party, they voted to stay the course. And it's a good thing too, because at the start of the year, all the members took turns reading aloud portions of the Constitution of the United States. We were told it was an unabridged copy, but somebody must have gotten in there ahead of them and removed the Bill of Rights — especially that troublesome ol' Fourth Amendment that says searches and seizures must be reasonable, authorized by a warrant supported by an oath or affirmation of probable cause and "particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized." What a bunch of hooey! How is our good Lord Massa Gummint supposed to run an efficient anti-terrorist program that way?

Well, anyway, I sure feel a whole lot more secure now that Congress has extended those provisions of the Patriot Act. I'll probably sleep better too, knowing that Massa Gummint has those "terror-fighting tools," as the distinguished Minority Leader, Senator "Sing Along With" Mitch (McConnell) calls them, to keep us all secure. But I'll keep my doors double locked anyway, just in case someone from Massa Gummint, who's here to help us, has some idea about dropping in to see if I've been mailing any checks or sending any e-mails to any person, place, or thing that might have a connection with a terrorist somewhere. Let that kind of snooping go on in the homes of other people, who may not be as patriotic and law abiding as I am. 

I expect to be left alone.