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The Worse The Better, Continued

By Al Schumann on Sunday August 19, 2007 02:14 PM

Courtesy of Who Is IOZ?, Vichy Sunday.

For a thorough excoriation, Arthur Silber

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.

Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns from Democrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate over the meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.

They also emphasized that there would be strict rules in place to minimize the extent to which Americans would be caught up in the surveillance.

The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.


As usual, the Democrats have gone much further than their constituents and the country at large feel comfortable supporting. Security state legislation enjoys tepid, qualified support, at best. A poll conducted for the ACLU in the wake of the Patriot Act uncovered serious reservations. Americans by and large support due process. They reject torture. Outside relatively small groups of paranoid, vindictive and ignorant people, it takes a great deal of fearmongering, rhetorical manipulation, harassment and narrowing of political choice to get them to acquiesce to the policies of their leadership, in either party. Their desire, at least, for some attempt at decency is quite strong. A party that promises its supporters a difference from "business as usual", and achieves a majority based on widespread disgust with excesses, owes its supporters much more than a hurried vote and greater license for excess.

It is possible that the Democratic leadership is so self-deluded that they feel constantly expressed opposition to capitulations and tightening the screws translates to demands for worse policies. But if so, why do so many of them make so many excuses? Why do they blame the Republicans and duck questions? Why do they as a group continue to give campaigning support and enabling perqs to defectors within their ranks? It seems far more likely that they feel guilty, but compelled and/or obliged to carry on. They certainly have no reluctance to benefit from the inevitable fall out. Deep thinkers in their pundit corps don't mind a little "the worse, the better", all in a good cause, and they're certainly no strangers to crackpot realism.

I'd draw up short of saying the party as a whole, or even a majority, has agreed to a "the worse, the better" strategy. What they have agreed to is amoral collegiality -- corporate conservatism, as opposed to the corporate liberalism of the past. It's not internally fixable. It relies heavily on rejecting feedback, in much the same the way troubled companies circle the PR wagons when enough bigshots have screwed up so badly that facing the music looks like an existential threat. Changing that would mean an overhaul of the supporting infrastructure. Too many people are dirty for it to happen on its own.

Comments (4)

plato's cave:

Excellent comments, Scruggs! For "amoral collegiality" you could substitute "country club behavior". They don't care who wins, even the other party, as long as it stays within the chosen and vetted few.

See the photo of Hillary and Obama at today's Left I on the News.


"allow them to play this out the way they want"

no no not the briar patch

that's father smiff's
satanic strateeegery
writ small ..too small
to read its on content
the two heads in alteration
are bader then one

the coming change of power
proves what we got is a choice
worse then none

callow souls
i suspect
fear the weeblery will take a few sops
and call it salvation

have more faith
in the ways of the weebles
me hearteees

if in order to dig out of hell
a class scrap they need
a class scrap they'll give

plato's cave:

Since the Dems (some of them) seem to believe in the "worse is better" strategy (i.e. the worse it gets in Iraq, the better the Dems' chances next November), why dont we adopt it too, by voting for the Republican. At least then we'll have a wolf in wolf's clothing, instead of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Could have some shock value for liberals.


Bob, that's punitive without offering them a path to redemption. I want to save their souls too. Good works that they can't avoid and the company of relentless gadflies will shorten their stay in Hell considerably.

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