The horrible FISA bill passed yesterday, despite heroic rear-guard action by our own Harold Feld. Nancy Pelosi, the best-looking Republican grandma in the People’s Chamber (who also happens to be the Democratic Speaker of the House, go figure) led the charge. Obama was invisible before the vote and issued a watery piece-of-shit press release afterwards. Harry Reid said some empty nonsense.

Congressman Delahunt, who represents me (among others), voted against. Go Bill Delahunt. (Maybe the 3,342,985 calls I made to his office over the last few months gave him the encouragement he needed, but the action was his alone.)

Well, so, immediately after the roll call was published I went down to the Tisbury Town Hall, into the Town Clerk’s office. There, I made damn good an’ sure I’ve got nothing to do with the Democratic Party. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 4,345,395 times, shame on me. I told said clerk, “I want to change my registration,” and she said, “Yeah, and I know why.”

I don’t know how it is where you live, but in my little home town, a DemocraticPartyectomy takes less than a minute. I highly recommend the procedure. It does wonders for one’s blood pressure.

After the jump: Democrats–monarchists or fascists: which one of these?

UPDATE: I edited this post for clarity. My points are probably still unclear, but I wanted to be up front about my revisions.

What’s in a name?

Over on Eschaton, in one of his more pithy dog-barks of recent vintage, Atrios bestowed upon Obama the title of Wanker of the Day. A well-deserved encomium, I must say.

On Dailykos, the Obamboid true believers are flinging poo at us whiney-ass constitutionalists. The long-rumored and eagerly awaited Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad has commenced firing in earnest, although it would appear that the progressives and constitutionalists are firing a lot of blanks. As we went down in the fussilade we were heard to be muttering Joe Hill’s last words, “Organize, Organize. . .” Organize? I’m organizing my dropping out of that corrupt stinkhole party, that’s what I’m organizing. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, Barack Obama. Good God, what a boatload of hosers. They can have their stupid party, I don’t want it.

Harold Feld observed, “What makes this more astounding is that there is not a single, rational reason for the Democrats to do this, and every reason not to do it.”

Feld speculates that a desire to keep the corporate donations flowing may lay behind Pelosi’s joining in this Beer Hall Putsch. Oh but Harold, there is an even more obvious rational reason for her donning of the lederhosen. Occam’s Razor tells us that Pelosi is hiding something. The lawsuits that this law wipes out were never only about redressing wrongs done to telco users. They were also, perhaps mainly, about disclosure, about finding out what the Bush-Cheney junta was up to. It’s pretty clear now that Pelosi and Reid are Quislings. In passing this omerta law, Pelosi et al ensure the their secret collaborations will go to the grave along with the King’s and Regent’s.

I don’t think that Obama has any telcom/spying/Stasi secrets to hide in this affair; he hasn’t been around long enough. But still it’s clear what’s in it for him. This law gives monarchical powers to the president, and Obama expects to be president. To the extent that he’s more interested in personal power than in preserving and defending the constitution of the United States of America, this law is a gift-wrapped present with his name on it. Happy Birthday, Barack!

Now, some of you may think I’m off base. This isn’t about monarchy, you may be saying. It’s about fascism. Digby says it well:

Pace Godwin, the idea that it’s a good principle to indemnify corporations from law breaking when its done at the behest of the government is getting close to the definition of fascism — the joining of corporate and government power, beyond the scope of law, in the name of national security.

I admit that it’s a fine distinction to make (monarchy or fascism), but I think that all the trappings of the red carpets, the monogrammed jackets, the kitschy pomp and the retro regal ceremonies that are the hallmark of the Bush presidency (not to mention all the family dynasty stuff in the air), tip the scales to the kingly side as opposed to the Fearless Leader side. Can’t you just see Michelle Obama in a stylish tiara? I know I can, which is why I go for “monarchy”. I could probably be persuaded on this point, however.

The Living Saint We Call Barak

But what’s the bottom line, as we say here in wage-slave land? What’s my takeaway? Well, so, like, fuck Barack Obama, that’s my bottom line. Fuck you, Barack; that’s my takeaway. Again, the incomparable Digby:

[Obama] may genuinely think the legislation is good or just be afraid that the Republicans will use it against him. (I don’t think that’s going to help frankly — he voted against it last time and that’s all they need for the scare ads.) He does say that if he wins, he promises not to abuse the power it gives him, so I guess we should feel good about that.

I do know this: they would not have made this “compromise” and then brought this to the floor without his ok, and probably without his direction. He is the leader of the Democratic Party now, in the middle of a hotly contested presidential campaign. If he didn’t come to them and say to get this thing done before the fall, then they came to him and asked his permission. That’s just a fact. They aren’t going to do anything he doesn’t want them to do.

Knave or Eunuch?

Speaking of fascists, these lines from Ezra Pound seem apt:

All men, in law, are equals.
Free of Peisistratus,
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.

For those of you just joining the game, the eunuch would be McCain. As for who’s the knave: do the math, as the kids say. In this case, I woke up to my astonishment and realized I might actually have to vote for McCain. He’s a doddering old fool, a Polonius. But I don’t see a cult of personality springing up around McCain the way one clearly is springing up around Obama. And old fools, while capable of doing great damage (see under: Reagan, Ronald), are theoretically containable. We’re still here, after all. Reagan didn’t get us all nuked, and neither did he round us all up concentration-camp style, as they did in the Argentine. But the idea of a young and smart messianic figure, (i.e. saint Obama) a possible megalomaniac, at the helm & with these new monarchical powers to bind and to loose is more disconcerting, isn’t it? Or maybe that’s just me.

Obama. . . Perhaps it’s just the East African connection that makes “Mugabe” spring to my mind? What’s that you say? Is that too harsh? Ah, maybe. But this FISA thing is going to become law, you know. Tha’s a fact. An that’s on Obama; he owns it. And he’s already tipped his hand about what kind of representatives he favors. Hint: not progressives, not constitutionalists. Objectively pro-Stasi, when you get right down to it. So it is what it is, as we say in Bill Parcells county.

But it’s not merely a binary choice, of course. I could always write in Chris Dodd. Or my own name, or that of my late departed dog Rosa Barks. And I expect I’ll be googling up Bob Barr quite a bit over the next few days and weeks.

And I wasn’t even an English major!

For your edification, that Pound stanza in a little more context:

The tea-rose, tea-gown, etc.
Supplants the mousseline of Cos,
The pianola “replaces”
Sappho’s barbitos.

Christ follows Dionysus,
Phallic and ambrosial
Made way for macerations;
Caliban casts out Ariel.

All things are a flowing,
Sage Heracleitus says;
But a tawdry cheapness
Shall reign throughout our days.

Even the Christian beauty
Defects — after Samothrace;
We see to kalon
Decreed in the market place.

Faun’s flesh is not to us,
Nor the saint’s vision.
We have the press for wafer;
Franchise for circumcision.

All men, in law, are equals.
Free of Peisistratus,
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.

A bright Apollo,
tin andra, tin eroa, tina theon,
What god, man, or hero
Shall I place a tin wreath upon?

If you find that bright Apollo, please drop me a line.


  1. Aaaaah buyers remorse. Don’t know if it makes you feel any better but us Republicans aren’t exactly overjoyed with our choice either. Fact I wasn’t really that excited about any Republican choice during the primary run. Romney probably came closest to a pick but even he had warts. Ron Paul might be a decent choice from a position perspective but I don’t like his Open Borders stance. No country can survive having its population double in 20 years with that kind of thinking.

    Its another election year of the lesser of two bad choices.

  2. I don’t have “buyer’s remorse” because I never realy bought Obama. As I wrote on wetmachine some months ago, I voted for Chris Dodd in the primary, which occured a good while after he had dropped out of the race.

    I did give an endorsement to Obama some weeks after I voted for Dodd, but that vote was based on Obama’s opposition to an earlier version of this FISA abomination. Now Obama has gone back on his word, changed is opinion. My endorsement is hereby rescinded.

    Here’s my question for you, John. All Republican representatives save one voted for this FISA act. Do you support their position? I mean, the reason I detest Pelosi and Reid and now Obama is that they act like Republicans. I loathe Republican congressmen even more than I do these guys, who at least sometimes act like responsible patriots. That (acting like responsible patriots) is something that Republicans in congress never do. Or maybe one person does it here or there. But not the national figures — the Condi Rices and GWBushes and Karl Roves, etc.

    After seven years of Bush, it’s hard for me to comprehend how anybody of sound mind and possessed of a conscience can still call themselves a Republican. To be a Republican is to be a Bushite and Cheneyite. Which it tantamount to condoning treason.

    [update: I edited this comment to make it a little less strident. I trust it’s strident enough still.]

  3. If Larry Lessig is right (see…),
    our elected officials vote like this because they serve not the public interest but the corporate interest. They serve the corporate interest because that’s where the money is.

    I don’t see this as Obama’s fault. At least his campaign refuses to accept contributions from corporate lobbyists and PACs.

  4. Alan,

    I agree that corporate money has a lot to do with this. But note: Obama has created a very productive grass roots money machine that enables him to do just fine, thank you very much, without the corporate dollars. So far, so good.

    But here’s the thing. Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. If he had put the word out “I hate this bill and I don’t want it to pass. Anybody who wants to be remembered as a ‘friend of Obama’ when I’m in the White House will vote against it”, then it never would have passed. Either Digby is correct (and I think she is) and this bill has Obama’s blessing, or else he’s a wimp who doesn’t know how to use his power as presidential nominee. In either case he gets from me the grade of F-. I might hold my nose and vote for him, but if the election were today I would vote for Bob Barr.

    Now, I know that Barr has a smelly history as a rightwing zealot. I don’t like the guy.

    But when he says that Habeus is the bedrock on which all the whole edifice of our liberty is constructed, I believe him. And that counts for a lot.

  5. Yesterday, in honor of the occasion, I wore my T-shirt from Don’t Panic that reads:

    do not assume your freedoms are assured

    I usually wear it every July 4, but it seemed fitting.

  6. A sobering “pragmatist’s view” is here:

    It says that the 4th amendment is already dead, killed by the Patriot Act. So, no reason for Obama to fall on his sword over FISA.

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