A not so great week for Democracy

“The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.”
— Woodrow Wilson

I very much wanted this post to be more upbeat than last week’s, so I hoped for a slow news week. But, obviously it wasn’t, and those of you who read my post on Thursday will have no problem guessing the first news item to be highlighted this week. And anyone who knows me will expect the second (if the quote I selected for today didn’t give it away).

The dubious honor of being mentioned first goes to the release of Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA Interrogation Methods, or as it is better known, the ‘Torture Report’. I’m stunned by how the media – liberal, conservative & in-between – has played this one. The fact that anyone is bothering to ask Dick Cheney his opinion on anything, anymore, is mind-boggling. We lost the moral high-ground when we invaded Iraq post 9/11. The report proves that we lost whatever high ground we had left in the years since. To try to pretend otherwise is a waste of energy. There simply is no justification. Ever. Someone helpfully pointed out to me that 141 countries are still using torture. I’m not sure what that was supposed to prove, but I certainly hope that the intent was not to make me appreciative of the fact that we are not alone. 141 wrongs do not make a right. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, himself a former POW, said it all much better than I ever could. If you haven’t already heard the speech, the transcript is well worth a read:

FLOOR STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE REPORT ON CIA INTERROGATION METHODS – Press Releases – United States Senator John McCain.

In other news, we have the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill that has passed both Houses of Congress. Very good news – no government shutdown. Very bad news – the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill. I think that I may have preferred a shutdown. Now, I’ll be honest, I did not read the entire 1600 page bill – my guess is very few in Congress did, either, since like most legislation these days, the bills are generally written by lobbyists, but I did read three summaries over the past few days. And I may plow through it eventually. Although those Senators and Representatives that did not vote for the bill had differing reasons, some of which I may not agree with, they should all be lauded for standing their ground under a great deal of pressure from the leadership of both parties, and from the White House – because no one really wanted to repeat the very unpopular ‘government shutdown’ approach to budget negotiations. But the sad fact is that there were many losers in the passage of this bill – chief among them was the American public. The bill (or actually a set of bills) drafted, as always, by special interest groups has left us with a massive increase in campaign contribution limits, and a gutting of the finance reform legislation.  Oligarchy here were come..

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