Drop a Dodd Bomb! Or, My First Political Donation of the Season
I've made my first political donation for the 2008 cycle, $50 to Chris Dodd. I know some of the people working for him, and as of yesterday he's sticking his neck way the fuck out in the Senate to block a bill that would give telecommunications executives retroactive immunity for breaking the law in allowing the Bush Administration to eavesdrop on citizens without warrants. I'll let Glenn Greenwald explain why this is a Very Bat Thing™:
bq.. Just think about what is really happening here. AT&T's customers sued them for violating their privacy in violation of long-standing federal laws and for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. Even with the most expensive armies of lawyers possible, AT&T and other telecoms are losing in a court of law. The federal judge presiding over the case ruled against them -- ruled that the law is so clear they could not possibly have believed that what they did was legal -- and most observers, having heard the Oral Argument on appeal, predicted that they will lose in the Court of Appeals, too.
So AT&T and other telecoms went to Washington and -- led by Bush 41 Attorney General (and now Verizon General Counsel) William Barr, and in cooperation with their former colleague, Mike McConnell -- began paying former government officials such as Dan Coats and Jamie Gorelick to convince political officials to whom they give money, such as Jay Rockefeller, to pass a law declaring them the victors in these lawsuits and be relieved of all liability -- all based on assertions that a court of law has already rejected. They are literally buying a judicial victory in Congress -- just like Carothers warned that third-world countries must avoid if they want to become functioning democracies under the "rule of law" ("Above all, government officials must refrain from interfering with judicial decision-making").
And in the process -- for good measure -- they have ensured that there will never be any judicial ruling as to whether our Government and the telecom industry broke the law in how they spied on us for years without warrants. They have placed what they did literally beyond the reach of any law or judicial determination. And they accomplished all of that by paying enough officials in Washington to obtain those incomparably corrupt gifts. That's just factually, objectively, what has happened here.
p. The phrases "banana republic" and "corporate junta" do come to mind. This is just one in a long series of pretty deeply corrupt things that have been going on; the only difference is that Dodd is willing to risk becoming unpopular and declasse in DC to (maybe) stop it from happening. The lack of any of this kind of, ummm, whadyacallit... oh yeah, leadership from Reid, Pelosi, or any of the other electeds who are running for higher office is what's been so damn depressing this past year.
Anyway, I saw Sen. Dodd when I was in Chicago this summer, and while he seems pretty good (got some crazy hair, says the word "here" compulsively in a way that's sort of endearing) I don't know that he's got more than a 1 in 20 chance at getting real traction nationally. However, I bitch enough about the timidity and risk-aversion of our political leaders that I feel obligated to do something when someone breaks that mold. There's some real drama around this decision, and now I'm invested, so I'll pay attention.
Also FWIW, the Dodd campaign is doing some of the more interesting stuff with online video around.