The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Hitler didn’t not rise to power by show of force; he was elected. The rights of the German people were not first taken away at the point of a gun, but were eroded by the power of the pen.
With back-room deals and plenty of intimidation, laws contrary to the public good and in violation of the German Constitution were passed by lawmakers whipped to a frenzy by an atmosphere of fear-mongering and hysteria. The Reichstag — the elected representatives of the German people — voted to destroy their Constitution and disband themselves in order that the country be “protected” from “terrorists.”
Those Senators who vote to allow the government to continue spying on the communications of Americans without warrants and to immunize those telecoms which complied with illegal directives by the Executive Branch — to a degree which is still unknown — should be haunted from here on out by the words of some of our Founders and historic figures.
But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
Bob Geiger’s post this morning is his interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). It’s long, but well worth the time it takes to read. Here’s some excerpts:
Geiger: I think even those of us who wanted this so badly and who wanted you to become Majority Leader felt deep down that this was just too many seats to make up…
Reid: Until election night I never even considered it. I was rationalizing that three seats would be 48 and that’s certainly better than 45, but 49 would be wonderful — change the committee structure, but here we are.
Geiger: Here we are. But having endured the antics of the Republican majority the last few years — both from a procedural and policy point of view — how do you balance now, as incoming Majority Leader, taking every advantage you possibly can, for the Democratic party and the Democratic party vision, but not doing a lot of what they did and, in the course of that, becoming like them?
Reid: I think first of all you have to apply a very simple principle: It’s called the Golden Rule. I will not treat them like they treated me. We’re going to have Congress the way it ran for more than 200 years. We’re going to have committee hearings, we’re going to look and see what the White House is doing. We have a Republican president, but it doesn’t matter — Republican or Democratic president, Congress has the ability and the obligation of Congressional oversight, which has not existed for six years and we have to do that.
Geiger: One ongoing drama I’ve seen in watching the Senate every day is the battle that Senator Kennedy has had over the minimum wage — and seeing how many times that’s been shot down by the Republicans unless it happened to be attached to an Estate Tax cut. I think people are very encouraged with what they expect to happen with that in the coming months and what I’m wondering, sir, is that for low-income Americans who may be a little disillusioned with Washington and maybe not understand how it operates, what can you say to them about the minimum wage being raised with Democrats in charge of the Congress?
Reid: To show you how strongly we feel about this, we told the Republicans that there will be no Congressional pay raise unless you raise the minimum wage. There’s no minimum wage increase, there’s no Congressional pay raise for the first time in many years.
We’re serious about this. We want the people in this country, the hardest working, to be able to work instead of going on welfare and make a living. Right now, you can’t do that. You make a little over $10,000 a year working 40 hours a week — try living on that. It’s very hard to do. So I feel comfortable that we can pass a minimum wage increase. I guess I put it in this vernacular: I dare the Republicans to stop us from doing it.
Geiger: Do you feel confident that it will happen in the first month or two of the new Congress?
Reid: It will happen in the first six weeks that we’re back.
Geiger: You’re saying it will happen in the first six weeks?
Reid: It will happen. Yes.
Geiger: Along the same lines. I’m from a rural area and I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree and that happened because of the G.I. Bill. I went into the Navy a long time ago under the old G.I. Bill and it allowed me to move forward in life. I understand that Senator-elect Webb plans to bring something to the floor to restore an old-school type G.I. Bill for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Where do you see that going?
Reid: I think Senator-elect Webb is the right person to do this. He’s decorated for heroism in Vietnam. He’s written books and plays and movies about war. He’s an expert on war and he also thinks he knows a little bit about peace. He’s got a son as we speak serving in Iraq and he believes that the G.I. Bill of Rights educated several generations and it’s not doing that any more. We’ve got to change our tack and go back to some of the basics that we’ve lost.
Reid: One of the things that I am dismayed about is why these Veterans groups even support Republicans. They under-fund their benefits, they have little concern for some of the new things — agent orange, they fought that — we now have the Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome which is running rampant among all these people and the Republicans won’t fund these programs. We do that.
The finest hospitals, I should say medical care, in the country today is the Veterans Administration. VA Hospitals. Now that’s not a perfect health-care system but it’s the best we have and the Republicans under-fund it every year. It’s under-funded next year by this president by at least $30 billion — billion not million.
And we have these men and women coming back from Iraq, this unusual war, with all kinds of problems. We have 23,000 who have been wounded, we have 2,000 of them with multiple amputations, we have a third of that 23,000 who have head injuries — blind, missing limbs, paralysis. We fight for money for these programs and Republicans don’t, so I don’t understand why they would support Republicans.
Senator Chuck Hagel, a known conservative Republican, says what many Democrats and most Americans have been saying for the past year.
From Senator Hagel’s column, to be published in tomorrow’s Washington Post:
Leaving Iraq, Honorably
There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.
Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.
The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
America finds itself in a dangerous and isolated position in the world. We are perceived as a nation at war with Muslims. Unfortunately, that perception is gaining credibility in the Muslim world and for many years will complicate America’s global credibility, purpose and leadership. This debilitating and dangerous perception must be reversed as the world seeks a new geopolitical, trade and economic center that will accommodate the interests of billions of people over the next 25 years. The world will continue to require realistic, clear-headed American leadership — not an American divine mission.
We are destroying our force structure, which took 30 years to build. We’ve been funding this war dishonestly, mainly through supplemental appropriations, which minimizes responsible congressional oversight and allows the administration to duck tough questions in defending its policies. Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility in the past four years.
It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder — one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.
To squander this moment would be to squander future possibilities for the Middle East and the world. That is what is at stake over the next few months.
Read the entire column here.
I'm passing this on after reading it over at firedoglake.
The US Senate is considering cutting a break to health insurance companies by removing the requirement that they pay for cancer screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and other essential diagnostic tools, according to the American Cancer Society website.
The ACS provides forms/contact information to contact your Senators on this.
Cancer is not something that Senators ought to play around with in order to up the profit margin for big insurance, which also happens to be a big source of political campaign funding. Medical decisions ought to be made by patients and their doctors. We all pay enormous fees for health insurance these days (at least, those of us lucky enough to have insurance do…) — and we deserve something besides a "we’re not going to cover that, even though it could save your life" in return. Please take a moment to contact your Senators on this.
More from the AFL-CIO website:
May 1–7 is National Cover the Uninsured Week, an annual event that gives us all the chance to focus on ways to ensure every American has access to affordable health care.
So how are anti-worker groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Associated Builders and Contractors and others celebrating? They’re trying to push a bill through the U.S. Senate that could gut your health care coverage.
The Enzi bill, S. 1955, would allow health insurers to bypass state requirements for minimum benefits. That means it could eliminate key benefits in your coverage, including cancer screenings, contraception, emergency services, mental health care and diabetic supplies. [emphasis mine]
Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!! Do these people just not get it? The problem with FEMA – as with every other agency since Bush took office – is that incompetent 'Buddies of George' were put in charge, instead of people who had actual experience!
Does anyone remember FEMA being this incompetent prior to the Bush administration? Could it be that FEMA did its job well prior to that because the former Presidents appointed FEMA directors who knew what their jobs were and did them? Hurricane Andrew, anyone? Hurricane Hugo? Ringing any bells there?
Simply put, the problem is not the department, it's the idiots running it. Brown (until he quit/was fired) and Chertoff, and the man who appointed them, the chief boob himself.
From the Associated Press:
Hurricane Katrina’s latest fatality should be FEMA, the nation’s disaster response agency, a Senate inquiry concluded in calling for a government overhaul to avoid future failures like those the devastating storm exposed.
Eighty-six recommendations by the bipartisan panel indicate the United States is still woefully unprepared for a storm of Katrina’s scope with the start of the hurricane season little more than a month away.
The new authority would be “better equipped with the tools to prepare for and respond to a disaster,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led the inquiry by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Though the proposed changes do not place blame on any official or government agency, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., will offer “additional views” to the panel’s findings in a statement accusing President Bush of failing “to provide critical leadership when it was most needed.”
“The United States was, and is, ill-prepared to respond to a catastrophic event of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina,” said the recommendations. “Catastrophic events are, by their nature, difficult to imagine and to adequately plan for, and the existing plans and training proved inadequate in Katrina.”
The recommendations were being released Thursday morning and will be included in the Senate panel’s full report to be issued next week.
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, who resigned under fire after Katrina, said the new agency would basically have the same mission FEMA had a year ago before its disaster planning responsibilities were taken away to focus solely on responding to calls for help.
“It sounds like they’re just re-creating the wheel and making it look like they’re calling for change,” Brown said. “If indeed that’s all they’re doing, they owe more than that to the American public.”
From Tim Curry, MSNBC:
As Sen. Russ Feingold urges the Senate to censure President Bush, the alleged misdeed that moved the Wisconsin Democrat to propose censure continues: the Bush administration keeps conducting surveillance of calls by suspected al Qaida operatives to and from people in the U.S.
Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has scheduled a Friday hearing on the censure proposal. Specter opposes censure, as does Judiciary Committee Democrat Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who said at Tuesday’s hearing, with exasperation in his voice, “The idea of censuring the president — we don’t know what he did.”
Friday’s censure hearing sets up what both Feingold and Senate Majority leader Bill Frist want: a roll call vote on the Senate floor on censuring Bush.
This would force all 100 senators — and especially the potential Democratic presidential hopefuls — Sens. Biden, Evan Bayh, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton — to go in the spotlight and make their choice: either condemn Bush for taking an action which the president argues is necessary to defend the nation from al Qaida attacks — or give Feingold a potential weapon to use against them in the event that he too seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.
A “no” vote on censure would also incur the wrath of Democratic groups such as Moveon.org.
When Feingold was asked two weeks ago whether he would take action against the NSA program by cutting off funding for it, he replied, "Cutting off funding? How are you going to enforce that? If the president has inherent power, he'll just shift some money around. He'll just keep doing it. That's the problem with this doctrine. If the president isn't going to acknowledge that a law we passed such as FISA binds him, why should the cutting off of funding affect him?”
Well, isn’t it nice to know that Sen. Specter’s office doesn’t personally respond to emails. I did get a lovely form letter though:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding your concern.
I appreciate your taking the time to bring your views on this important matter to my attention. As a United States Senator, it is essential that I be kept fully informed on the issues of concern to my constituents. While the large volume of correspondence I receive precludes a more lengthy response, please rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers this issue. If you have any further questions on this or any other issues, please visit my website, http://specter.senate.gov , and carefully fill out the contact form under contact info.
Again, thank you for writing.
Think there’s any chance I’ll get more than a form letter in response to my handwritten and snail-mailed letter? Me either.