The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Arlen Specter: lion or lapdog?

First, sorry about the lack of posts today. The site was down for much of the day, and I couldn't do a thing. Although it wasn't a big news day, I wanted to update my post on reactions to yesterday's primaries and elections after seeing what a number of other bloggers and pundits had to say about it. Instead I'll just say this-- the concensus is largely that the Democratic establishment inexplicably left Busby to her own devices rather than fighting for the seat, and that means plenty of Republican bullshit along the lines of Fearless Leader's "mandate" and "will of the people" talk of 2004. The charges being leveled at Busby are that she relied too much on corruption and too little on other issues, as though she tried to evade the word Democrat. I can understand the reluctance, being in a solidly Republican district, but it didn't work for Gore or Kerry, either. And it looks as though immigration could genuinely haunt Democrats this fall-- a lot of people out there are pissed, and see the GOP as the hardasses who'll do something about it. Which is unfortunate, because their proposals for punitive action, mass deportation and giant walls are absurd. But they sell.

Crooks & Liars has put up several posts today regarding Arlen Specter, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committe. He's been put in the position of having to decide what happens with investigations into warrantless wiretapping, phone record collection, ignoring the FISA laws, etc. And he's been waffling pretty bad.

Jack Cafferty had some scathing things to say about Specter's latest decision to block an investigation into the collection of phone records:

What an idiot I am. I actually thought at the time Senator Specter was going to exercise his responsibility to provide some congressional oversight of the executive branch, you know, see if the White House is playing by the rules. Silly me.

In the end, Senator Specter has turned out to be yet another gutless Republican worm cowering in the face of pressure from the administration and fellow Republicans. There are not going to be any hearings. Americans won't find out if their privacy is being illegally invaded.

You know what the Senate Judiciary Committee settled for instead? Senator Orrin Hatch said he has won assurances from Vice President Dick Cheney that the White House will review proposed changes to the law that would restrict certain aspects of the NSA program.

Dick Cheney is going to decide if it's OK to spy on American citizens without a warrant. And this worthless bunch senators has agreed to let him do it. It's a disgrace.

But Specter sent a letter to Cheney stating that the FISA laws have been violated, that this is a serious constitutional matter in which the White House is not cooperating, and that the executive branch has done wrong in lobbying the legislative branch to squelch any investigation. True, true, true and true.

But Orrin Hatch, another key member of the committee, has come down securely on the side of the White House, and it remains to be seen if Specter is just trying to cover his ass (probably), or if he'll actually do the principled thing.