As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Man And His Moment

It must be noted that Chris Dodd in polling at under 1% in California and many other states, so viability is obviously an issue, but I think people have to take notice at a speech like this, if they ever manage to find it (certainly not on their local or even national news; they only show Congressional speeches when someone makes a "gaffe.").

Mr. President, for six years, this President has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t respect the role of Congress nor does he respect the rule of law.

Every six years as United States Senators we take the oath office to uphold the Constitution. Our colleagues on the House side take that oath every two years. That is important.

For six years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the Congress from reining in his abuse of authority. A case and point is the current direction this body appears to be headed as we prepare to reform and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [...]

Each of these policies share two things in common.

First, they have weakened our ability to prosecute the global war on terrorism – if for no other reason than they have made it harder, if not impossible, to build the international support and cooperation we need to fight it.

And second, each has only been possible because Congress has not been able to stop this President’s unprecedented expansion of executive power, although some in this body have tried.

Whether or not these policies were explicitly authorized is beside the point. In every instance, Congress has been unable to hold this Administration to account for violating the rule of law and our Constitution. In each instance, Republicans in the Congress have prevented this body from telling this Administration that “a state of war is not a blank check.”

And those aren’t my words, Mr. President – those are the words of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who was nominated by Ronald Reagan.

And today, it appears that we are prepared to consider the proposed renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – a law that in whatever form it eventually takes will almost certainly permit the Bush Administration to broadly eavesdrop on American citizens.

Legislation, as currently drafted, that would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that helped this Administration violate the civil liberties of Americans and the law of this country.

Mr. President while it may be true that the proposed legislation is an improvement on existing law, it remains fundamentally flawed because it fails to protect the privacy rights of Americans or hold the Executive or the private sector accountable if they choose to ignore the law.

That is why I will not stand on the floor of the United States Senate and be silent about the direction we are headed.

It is time to say “no more.”

No more trampling our Constitution.

No more excusing those who violate the rule of law.

These are our principles.

They have been around at least since the Magna Carta.

They are enduring.

What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where our country is at risk is abandon them.

It's a great speech and it really needs to be heard by every American, many of whom have a vague sense of this, but have not seen anyone in the Congress standing up for them and expressing their beliefs. Dodd is really rising to the importance of the moment, and I would hope that everyone marching in protests tomorrow, or grumbling around water coolers, or just disassociating from politics altogether can take the time to seek this out and recognize that there is a champion fighting for our interests in the Senate, and he needs your support.

It really just takes one man to say these things for the whole hollow shell of this Administration to come undone. But it has to be amplified. There's this great article in The Nation about the power of the right-wing email chains. These emails with baseless lies about Democrats get forwarded around to millions of fellow travelers, and there's no accountability on them, nor any idea where they even came from. There are a few similar kinds of email forwards on the left, but not nearly with the same reach. Let's send around Chris Dodd's speech. It has the benefit of being true.

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