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Here and no further

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by Ari Rutenberg

Once again, for the umpteenth time in the past year the Democrats in congress have demonstrated their complete lack of connection with the American people as well as the feature that Republicans love to talk about, and are unfortunately right about: their spinelessness. Have they not heard us? Have they not listened to the cry of the people for genuine change? With the passage of the "temporary" FISA-destroying electronic surveillance bill last week the Democrats showed us that they were more interested in going on vacation on time than getting the work done right. As several Democrats have said they "do not want to go on vacation without passing an intelligence reform bill" because they fear that if an attack occurs they will be politically vulnerable. This to me is simply unacceptable. They were elected to run the country, not to protect their own careers.
It is a genuine indictment of this Congress that they cannot see past their own vacations. They believe that it is better to keep their vacation schedule and force through another poorly written and half-baked law like the PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The would rather go on vacation and give Alberto Gonzales, who aside from his obvious political problems is clearly not competent to run the Justice Department, the power to OK domestic wiretapping with no oversight what so ever.
Now this is not a power any attorney general should have as it completely eliminated any process of checks and balances for domestic wiretapping. That being said it seems especially egregious to give such carte blanche for spying to Alberto Gonzales, who in both a political and professional sense is in no way qualified to use such a power wisely and for the purpose it was intended.
It would seem from this episode that the Democrats simply have not learned from the past 8 months. This is not about Republicans, or George Bush changing his demands after legislation had been agreed to. Instead this time the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. This is about putting image and job ahead of reason and country. Instead of staying to uphold their oaths and write a bill that addresses the so-called problems (read here warrants and due process) with domestic wiretapping, they simply gave Bush everything he wanted and then said "well its only temporary and we'll deal with it in six months." That six months more of eroding freedoms. Six months more of Bush and Gonzo having powers that no one should have in our system of government. Six months more of no accountability in government.
In the end this is about the Democrats being more afraid of the media and what they might be called by Republicans then actually doing what is in the interest of the security of the commonwealth. When will the Democrats start standing up for the American people and the constitution? When will they say enough with political games and empty rhetoric? When will they say the only thing the American public wants to hear: here, and no further.