Why I Hate Political Parties
The battle to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has shifted from the halls of Congress to the courts.Conservative activists and at least one congressional Republican are poised to legally challenge a controversial provision of the VRA measure, picking up where the intense debate left off after President Bush signed it into law this summer.
Conservative activists, led by a leading scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), plan on filing several lawsuits in various federal courts, all centered on Section 5 of the VRA. Congressional Republicans will also play an active role in the litigation, signaling their intent to use the courts to win a battle they lost on Capitol Hill.
Wait a minute, I thought going to court to win battles lost in legislatures was anti-democratic and the cause of all of this county’s problems? Oh, I understand, it’s only wrong when the other party does it.
And to make the hypocracy even more specific, the one Republican on record in support of the the lawsuit is none other than Lynn Westmoreland. That’s the same guy who sponsored more than one law that would allow government displays of ten commandments monuments (though he can’t name even half of the commands) because “judicial activists” are trying to destroy America.
No word on whether Alabama’s anti-VRA representatives will join in one of the lawsuits.
Second, I’m sure you’ve already seen this, but consider these quotes.
If the Government of the United States can through, quote-unquote, good faith tap our phones and intrude into our lives, they violate our constitutional liberties, and that is something that we should not tolerate, and that is in section 305 and section 307. The FBI can gain access to individual phone billing records without a subpoena or a court order. Once again I believe that infringes upon our constitutional rights and liberties, and while we are trying to deal with terrorism, and we should, we should not violate our constitutional rights and liberties, and I believe this bill in its present form does.
I oppose this provision that could expand emergency wiretap authority to permit the Government to begin a wiretap prior to obtaining court approval in a greater range of cases than the law presently allows. I personally find this proposal troubling. I am concerned that this provision, if enacted, would unnecessarily broaden emergency wiretap authority. Under current law, such authority exists when life is in danger, when the national security is threatened, or when an organized crime conspiracy is involved. In the real world, we do not need this amendment to get emergency wiretap authority, and that is a fact.
our society remains vulnerable to terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorism is a fact of life. In response to recent events, a series of proposals were offered to solve the problem–some with merit, and some that could cause more problems than they might solve by cutting deeply–and unnecessarily–into the constitutional freedoms of American citizens. I include in that category certain proposals for expanded wiretapping authority for Federal law enforcement. This is a dangerous proposition–and one that would be ceding victory to terrorists, whose goal is to disrupt our society, create anxiety and constrain our freedoms. That’s the way terrorism attacks a free open society.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the bill, and on behalf of a constituent whose daughter was lost in TWA flight 800, because this bill is an outrage and a disgrace to that family, and an outrage and a disgrace to this body.
This bill should include both taggants and enhanced wiretapping provisions. Instead, it has neither. Law enforcement has repeatedly asked for these critical tools to combat terrorism. Yet this Congress has repeatedly denied them.
When, Mr. Speaker, when are we going to say enough is enough? How many bombs have to go off? How many daughters do we have to lose? How many Americans have to die before the [other party] leadership will give us a tough antiterrorism bill?
Once again we had an opportunity today to protect Americans from terrorism, and once again the [other party] leadership took its marching orders from the [a special interest group] and gutted the bill.
Those quotes could have come from today’s paper. There’s high minded stuff about civil liberties and bravely continuing to live as free Americans in the face of terror, as well as emotional appeals to cowardice.
But these quotes are not from today’s paper or from the ususal sources. They are all from the 1996 Congressional Record, which records the debate over
Nautius Maximus Bill Clinton’s request for wiretapping authority and other anti-terrorist measures. Quotes one through three are from Republicans: one is Dan Burton, two is Orin Hatch, and three is Porter Goss. Quote four is from a Democrat.
As usual, Dispatches from the Culture Wars says it best:
The two parties just exchanged scripts, because it’s not about taking a serious, principled position; it’s only about spinning a tale that benefits you politically – and that’s true for both parties, not just the one that happens to be in power now. And who took a consistent position on this question? Libertarians. Libertarians were against such expanded wiretapping authority in 1996 and we’re against it in 2006 as well, and it doesn’t matter which party will be using it. And people wonder why I don’t take the major parties seriously.
Unfortunately, “taking a serious, principled position” isn’t going to win any elections. So we’re governed by hacks.