Friday, December 16, 2005

End of the Ice Age?

From CNN's site:

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

Feingold, Craig and other critics said that wasn't enough, and have called for the law to be extended in its present form so they can continue to try and add more civil liberties safeguards. But Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have said they won't accept a short-term extension of the law.

Must play hardball.

From CNN's site:

If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on December 31.

Frist changed his vote at the last moment after seeing the critics would win. He decided to vote with the prevailing side so he could call for a new vote at any time. He immediately objected to an offer of a short term extension from Democrats, saying the House won't approve it and the president won't sign it.

"We have more to fear from terrorism than we do from this Patriot Act," Frist warned.

This is typically disingenuous. The government passes the laws it chooses. The Patriot Act is a choice. The components of the act are determined choices. It would not be difficult for the government to pass a law with support from both sides of the house. It only becomes difficult when a policy of no retreat is in effect.

Somewhere, I recently read that the ice may finally be breaking in the U.S. That it may soon be possible to disagree with the administration without being framed as a traitor or as incompetent. We'll see.

"I don't want to hear again from the attorney general or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care," said Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001.

"It is time to have some checks and balances in this country," shouted Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We are more American for doing that."

I don't think that it is really, "more American". The Republicans are stating very effectively that, "more American" means, "Father knows best". Having said that, this is the first time in years that I've heard someone disagree in this manner with the administration on the issue of what is best for the United States.

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