President Bush is going to Africa! I'm so scared; who will protect us now? According to him, the terrorists will be here tomorrow night at 12:01 AM, as soon as the Protect America Act (PAA) expires. That's the recent amplification of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that gives the government license to spy on everybody, not just suspected terrorists. If the extension had been signed, sealed and delivered to the president yesterday the way he was stamping his foot and demanding of the House of Representatives, that would have been it: any chance to investigate criminal activities or breaches of our constitutionally guaranteed rights would have been rendered futile, as the primary actors in the wrongdoing would have been granted immunity from any further oversight or accountability.
Something else happened instead. For once, our legislators stood up to the ominous threats and recriminations issued by the president and refused to pass the bill the senate dumped in their laps on Tuesday. Instead, they took up the matter of whether or not to hold Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton in contempt for refusing to answer subpoenas requiring their appearance before Congress to explain their respective roles in the firing of eight United States Attorneys last year. This was a matter first introduced in July of 2007, seven months ago, but it was only yesterday that Nancy Pelosi finally mustered the troops the way she promised she would when the democratic majority was installed in 2006, strode into the House, and spoke passionately and eloquently against allowing the executive branch to further trample all over the constitution and the congressional oversight wedded to its precepts. Thus, discussion of the PAA extension was tabled in favor of addressing the Bolton/Miers matter, causing a mob of republicans to march out in a snit and strike poses around a podium on the steps of the Capitol while they adoringly mimicked the president's admonitions that we're all going to die now.
Our commander-in-chief'? He upbraided the democrats like a schoolmarm scolding the class clown. "The House should not leave Washington without passing the senate bill," he whined peevishly, adding, "I am scheduled to leave tomorrow for a long-planned trip to five African nations." I wonder exactly when this trip was "planned" and how coincidental its timing is at this particular juncture. Why, if I didn't know better I'd say it looks as if the president is cutting and running! "The lives of countless Americans depend on our ability to monitor terrorists' communications," he rebuked his intransigent charges, conveniently misremembering, to borrow a Clemensism, that purely out of pique at not getting his way, he himself had obstructed passage of the RESTORE Act which would have enabled exactly that. Also conveniently dissembling, and not even very adroitly, about the fact that when the PAA does expire, FISA still permits monitoring and wiretapping without a warrant as long is one is obtained after the surveillance is initiated.
Meanwhile, back at the mainstream media corral, a laundry list of newspaper, television, and radio outlets patriotically parroted the completely false assertion that FISA was about to expire rather than the PAA and we wouldn't be able to listen in on terrorist communications as a result, exposing ourselves to all sorts of danger. ABC's Charlie Gibson did this repeatedly, as did Fox News' Wendell Goler, Chris Wallace, and Martha MacCallum, MSNBC's Monica Novotny, NBC's Brian Williams, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Somehow, in spite of all the phony hoopla, members of the House of Representatives - the radical, islamofascist troop-hating democrats, anyway - at last had the perspicacity and courage of their convictions to say enough is enough, we're not going to let you bully us into giving you all the powers of a dictator and watch you defecate all over the constitution and use it for toilet paper anymore.
So now our fearless leader is going to Africa, leaving the rest of us to be killed immediately, all because of the terrorist-abetting democrats. I hope while he's there he at least addresses a few other issues that have been kind of bothering me lately when I haven't been so distracted by thoughts of being killed by terrorists, like the institutional rape of women and children in Congo, the unabated genocide and sexual depredations still decimating Darfur, or the ethnic violence targeting long distance runners in Kenya.
The terrorists are coming to get us! For once, the president was right: one of them already did, right here at home. But his name wasn't Osama or Mohammed; it was Steven Kazmierczak, a Northern Illinois University graduate who reportedly went off his meds - was one of them accutane? - before shooting and killing five students and then himself yesterday afternoon with several legally purchased handguns.