Sunday, June 22, 2008

Telecom immunity

So the new big controversial thing I've written is a post on how the new telecom immunity legislation, though bad, isn't quite the disaster that people have made it out to be. There's good discussion in comments.


Shock Mouse said...

Random thoughts in long form:

I really worry about how much of the left intelligentsia is getting worked up about this. The left-wing coalition is inherently unstable in any country, and particularly America. I know we’re going to collapse under our collective contradictions and self-righteousness, but was hoping it was sometime after 2010. It’s a bad sign that we are seeing this before we even get a President elected.

The “hidden” reasons behind wanting this bill are equally frustrating. Huge congressional battles should not be fought just because if we capitulate to this it will send a signal of weakness. That sort of vicious cycle BS gets everyone in too much trouble and can be used to justify any lengths for any political argument.

It’s even worse for the “real” goal to be courtroom discovery. There are dozens of reasons this wouldn’t work (ACS had a good summary), and it’s silly to pass legislation that is simply a fishing expedition. The problem with any “hidden” goal is that it isn’t subjected to skeptical debate, so it can often be unrealistic and foolish. If you have to lie to sell a policy, then it’s a bad policy (see: Iraq War).

The political contributions aren’t that big. The telephone utilities have given $2.4 million to Democrats this cycle so far , and that’s overall, which includes some false positives. One of the weird things about bribing congress is how little money is involved. So I assume there are other motives at work here.

This isn’t even a matter of idealism. If you’re an idealist, the FISA bill (and FISA court) is inherently pretty bad. The FISA court has always hugely acceded to Presidential privilege, and this bill goes even further in that direction (largely because it’s trying to negotiate with Bush). I like Kevin Drum’s summary I fear that Bush broke the FISA law and many liberals jumped on board as fans of FISA to say Bush is beyond the pale. But unfortunately, this had the effect of moving the Overton window to the right by making FISA the standard for civil libertarians. Which is effing absurd.

Anonymous said...

You're such a douchebag.

It's amazing you can even breathe.