On July 4 of this year, an old patriot passed away. Former five-term North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, retired since 2002, finally succumbed at 86 after a long career on the forefront of American conservatism during the Cold War and thereafter.
The bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow the government to engage in massive collection of American citizens’ communications without a search warrant, clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment, is moving forward in the Senate, after having been passed by the House on June 20. In February, the Senate had passed similar legislation (see Senate vote #25 in “The Freedom Index” in this issue of TNA), but the House did not do likewise and the legislation stalled. More recently a compromise between the Bush administration and congressional leaders breathed new life into the legislation.
During a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee dealing with rising oil prices, John Hofmeister, the president of Shell Oil, testified: “I can guarantee to the American people, because of the inaction of the United States Congress, ever increasing prices, unless the demand comes down — and the five dollars [a gallon gas] will look like a very low price in the years to come if we are prohibited from finding new reserves, new opportunities to increase supplies.”
On Monday, June 2, the U.S. Senate began deliberating on the Climate Security Act (S. 3036), in what many hoped would mark the start of a historic debate. But progress was thwarted by partisan bickering over judicial nominations and by procedural maneuvers, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that all 492 pages be read into the record, which took more than eight hours.
In May Minnesota and Alaska became the eighth and ninth states whose legislatures have rejected Real ID, joining Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. A dozen more states have approved resolutions calling for the costs of the Real ID program to be fully covered by Congress or the act repealed.
The Washington, D.C., lobbying law firm Dickstein Shapiro announced on May 31 that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) is joining the firm as a senior adviser.
Undeterred by record cold temperatures worldwide for the winter of 2007-2008 and recent admissions by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization that global temperatures have been in decline for the past decade and will continue to drop through most of 2008, politicians at the local, state, and federal levels are continuing to push for more carbon dioxide emission controls.
The passage of two recent bills — by both the Senate and the House, and the signing of those bills into law by the president — provides an object lesson in the workings of the state, and full illustration of the type of logic that must necessarily govern the actions of that coercive body.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 4986), which Congress passed on January 22 and President Bush signed into law on January 28, contained language that effectively repealed revisions to the Posse Comitatus Act made in 2006. The 2006 language made it easier for a president to declare martial law.
“The first and most important point to make about the preliminary report on corruption in the United Nations’ oil-for-food program is that it is not a whitewash.” So declared the Washington Post in a February 5 editorial. The Post was referring, of course, to the “interim report” issued two days earlier by the so-called Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.