Wednesday, December 19, 2007

truth to power

I thank Senator Dodd for the opportunity to participate in this debate.
For the Senate's edification: I'm twenty-three years old and a new voter
who isn't going away any time soon.

The United States of America is founded upon the rule of law. Senators
and representatives swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the
United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." According to
the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution—a document for which centuries'
of blood and tears have been shed—"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."

Yet here the Senate stands, poised to grant immunity to
telecommunications companies for profiting from the warrantless and
lawless spying perpetrated upon the law-abiding citizenry; here the
Senate stands, poised to usurp the judiciary, the branch of government
responsible for determining whether the laws of the land have been
broken and meting out punishment where appropriate; and here the Senate
stands, poised to usher in its own irrevelancy—and, worst of all, in
exchange for nothing: no promises that this flagrant lawbreaking will
cease, no testimony to be offered in the course of real and rigorous

"Give me liberty or give me death," said Patrick Henry. "Those who
sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither," said Benjamin Franklin.
Now the telecommunications companies lobby the lot of you, saying, "Give
us immunity, or we'll suffer the consequences of our lawbreaking." Now
the President comes before you, saying, "Give my partners in crime
immunity, or there'll be investigations and findings that taint my legacy."

Never mind the judiciary. Never mind that it's the job of the courts to
ascertain whether any laws have been broken. So Congress rushes in to
save the day! Immunity for profit-driven corporations, amnesty for

I submit to this body that the Founders are rolling in their graves.

Voters could be forgiven for not realizing the Democratic Party won
control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections, for
there's so little evidence of any checks being brought against President
Bush, whose polling to date is both abysmal and deserved. Yet now
Democrats brandish the majority and usher in much of the same: more war,
more lives lost, more of our tax dollars pouring into places I've never
even heard of, and here we've got next to nothing to show for it. I hear
citizens of other countries get something for paying their taxes; I
can't even imagine what that's like.

And what are Americans to think, except that they've been betrayed by
both parties? I congratulate Democrats and Republicans for their
breathtaking cynicism, for how well they've worked together to engender
so much apathy among voters that millions of Americans stay home on
election day. What choices we have!

The legislature abdicates oversight, puts blind faith in the executive,
and extends immunity to lawbreaking telecommunications companies. Are
those companies to be pitied for going along with the President's plan
in direct contravention of the law and raking in cash? Are they, along
with the President, to be congratulated for their foresight, considering
that this warrantless spying upon Americans is reported to have gone on
well before 9/11? (And mind you how well all of that illegal
surveillance served to protect us on that awful day.) Are these
companies to be respected more than voters? Are they to be granted
immunity for lawbreaking, in return for nothing? Congress doesn't even
appear to be interested in leveraging immunity in return for testimony.

What will I tell my children? It's fine to break the law if the
president says so? It's fine to break the law if you can lobby Congress
to grant you immunity? It's fine to break the law if you can stuff cash
into the coffers of senators and representatives? What country is this?
I say again: the Founders are rolling in their graves. For the past
fifteen years, I've watched the news and felt disgust for the whole
sorry lot of you.

You who purport to lead, yet cower like beaten dogs before the
President, as if he were king. You who vote upon legislation you likely
don't even read. You who coif your hair into absurd, unmoving helmets
and whiten your teeth and don designers suits and appear on TV, daring
to tell me you represent my interests. You who pass pointless,
meaningless resolutions condemning commercials and congratulating
professional sports teams for winning while Americans go hungry, while
Americans go without healthcare, while Americans work two jobs to make
ends meet, while Americans die in Iraq and Afghanistan. You who swear an
oath to support and defend the Constitution and flatter yourselves by
conflating your re-election with the interests of your country and
constituency. You who fret about keeping your powder dry until the are
barracks overrun.

You who tell me to live in a constant state of fear, but to keep on
shopping; do keep shopping. How proud my children should be to be born
American! They'll shop in the face of constant fear with fists full of
credit cards. And I'll say to them, "What shall we buy tomorrow,
children?" But, of course, I have my own ideas: our very own Senator,
our very own Representative, our very own President. I should buy the
whole sorry lot of you to be heeded at all.

And so here is the Senate in all its majesty. Where are the Patrick
Henrys, the Benjamin Franklins? God save America from her greatest
enemy: a pack of pathetic, self-serving cowards.

> "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven
> into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and
> remember we are not descended from fearful men."
> *Edward R. Murrow
> <>*
> /US broadcast journalist & newscaster (1908 - 1965)/


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