Patriot Act roll call review: can you do more than talk?
No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
So a few provisions of the Patriot Act failed to get renewed because some Republicans voted against it. It looks like just a speed bump on the way to passage; the original vote was done on a fast track “no debate” schedule (wonder why) that required a two thirds majority. Now it looks like there will be a little debate followed by a simple majority vote.
It looks like a left/right strange bedfellows alliance might be developing on civil liberties issues, and that’s fine as far as it goes. At the moment the coalition doesn’t look to be able to do much beyond forcing debate on these issues as they arise; while that’s better than nothing – and certainly something to try to build on – it’s not exactly a major breakthrough.
There has been one amusing aspect to the procedural embarrassment: the GOP has become so hostile to governing it can’t even do a simple whip count. Guess you shouldn’t have tossed out the whole playbook, hey folks?
What’s really important about a vote like this is the way it reveals the hypocrisy of those who love to present themselves as ardent defenders of freedom and liberty. That’s why I decided to grab the roll call details, exclude all the “no” votes, and put together a table with the names. Each one contains an embedded link to a simple Google search of the representative’s name followed by the words “freedom” and “liberty.” The list is at the end of the post.
I decided to cherry pick some of the bigger ones. Here are some choice bits of rhetoric from those who weren’t among the “nays.”
First, Joe Barton is troubled by private companies collecting data on citizens, but apparently not the government (via):
I wonder if the intentional collection and coordination of all that personal data about us is such a good idea, and I wonder if I’m the only one who is feeling a little uncomfortable about it.
This can be a dangerous path to go down, as former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn showed:
Barton: “If I called you up, Ms. Dunn, and said I’d like your phone records for the last six months, would you give me that?”
Dunn: “If I understood why you wanted it…in your position, I would give you my phone records,” eliciting laughter from the crowd.
Barton: “Well, praise the Lord,” Barton said. “I wouldn’t give you mine.”
Dunn: “I hope that doesn’t mean you have something to hide.”
And he’ll gladly furrow his brow over intrusive government if it gives him the chance to bash a regulatory agency:
increasing the federal government’s role in the composition of the information Americans have at their disposal – in an information marketplace that is bigger and more easily accessible than ever before – is unwise policy and raises serious questions of constitutionality.
Here’s some boilerplate from Michele Bachmann:
Many Pilgrims paid the ultimate price – sickness and death – as they sought freedom. But they found a better future for their children. On Thanksgiving they were able to celebrate family, the company of one another and their Indian neighbors, a bountiful harvest, and most of all the opportunity to serve their God without government hindrance. May we too in 2010, like the Pilgrims, always press forward toward true liberty and freedom
She’ll work up quite a lather over the tyranny of health insurance but can’t be bothered to spare a few words about roving wiretaps.
Ben Quayle, presumably still honing the mad Taekwondo skillz he’ll unleash when he begins knocking the hell out of Washington:
Which Arizona political figure past or present do you most admire and why?
I admire Barry Goldwater because he unabashedly stood up for individual freedom and a limited form of government.
She said the thing that our party is built on is the principle that “the government that governs least, governs best.” When conservatism began, she said, it was really a radical idea “…all we knew about governance was…European rulers [were] endowed by divine rights to be the sovereign of that nation.” However, she pointed out that our founders said that every single individual deserves that liberty, that freedom, “It was the radicals that decided every single person deserves the blessings of liberty… and aren’t we glad they did?” Yet, “We’ve got a fight on our hands to conserve and preserve liberty,” she said.
Paul Ryan, new darling of the Village:
The progressive movement and ideology is a repressive, big-brother movement that drains you of your freedom and liberty, and therefore of your prosperity… The government is taking away your discretion, taking away your choices.
But the government being able to seize and records – including library and medical ones – without even having to declare it part of a terrorism investigation (never mind getting a warrant!) is not in any way draining of freedom and liberty.
Can we look forward to the American Conservative Union rescinding Dan Burton’s 2008 Defenders of Liberty Award, or are they OK with his vote?
And finally there’s this from all around goofball Louie Gohmert (via):
Thomas Jefferson captured this unsettling tension in his admonition, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” But as evidenced by your presence here today, you understand that this dangerous power grab is neither the progress nor the change that Americans desire. We note that it was the threats to and thwarting of freedom and innovation that caused Americans over 200 years ago to risk everything to fight a revolution and ultimately become the greatest in the world. Contrast that to the 1917 Revolution that produced Marxist socialism in the Soviet Union that has already disappeared because of its stifling of creativity and liberty. Though my fighting for our principles has kept me in Washington, D.C. today, I stand with you in spirit against the tyranny of this government’s effort to takeover healthcare and subjugate you and your freedom.
Once more, the tyranny of insurance. Unlimited electronic monitoring though: perfectly safe for freedom.
Here is the full list: