The Only Thing We Have To Fear… Is Fear Itself

One of America’s greatest Presidents said it. And Democrats in Congress keep acting it out…

Republicans and the Bush administration used a ‘bogus’ terror threat that raised specific fears of an attack on the Capitol to scare lawmakers into adopting a dramatic temporary expansion of the government’s spy powers last month, a former top intelligence committee Democrat said Wednesday.

Congress agreed to give President Bush and the nation’s intelligence agencies extra authority to spy on Americans just hours before lawmakers left for a month-long recess in August. In the legislative session’s final week, news emerged of an impending plot by foreign terrorists to attack the US Capitol, and Republicans pointed to the reports as justification to expand the administration’s powers.

“That specific intelligence claim, it turned out, was bogus; the intelligence agencies knew that,” Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said at a forum on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act organized by the Center for American Progress in Washington. However, lawmakers did not learn of the claim’s unreliability until “the day” they approved the FISA expansion, she said.

Why anyone believes anything Republicans say anymore is beyond me. Of all people you’d think that Congressional Democrats, after being gulled and filleted multiple times, would be beginning to clue in. But once a mark, always a mark.

However I think it’s more than that. As Corrente’s Chicago Dyke pointed out:

I didn’t really enjoy it, but like everyone else who wants to move on the Hill in DC, I got used to all the security measures that honestly, are making the town ugly. Barricades, police vehicles on every corner, all manner of checks and tags and providing your ”œpapers” to people. It’s like an armed camp…

…No wonder Pelosi and Reid honestly believe the rest of America is as askeerd as they- toss in a little domestic wiretapping and ratfucking, and it must be very spooky for them.

There is an important lesson here. It seems that all one has to do to sustain a coup in a once-democratic nation is to imprison the former ”œleaders” in a invisible prison of fear. Make them feel fear, and they won’t be able to think and fight and otherwise act logically to preserve the Constitution.

Lawmakers, ever since the Anthrax scare that strangely targetted only Democrats, have been living in fear. They see all these security precuations all the time – they work in an armed camp – and they natural come to think all these protections must exist because they need them… becuase it’s a dangerous world out there. Already scared, already under siege, already thinking that there are powerful forces out there who want to kill them, they are primed to be ramped up into greater fear at any time.

Taking down the barricades and instituting more reasonable levels of security would be one of the best things the next President could do. Living like everyone’s out to get you, eventually makes you think everyone is out to get you.

In the meantime, Democrats continue to live out Franklin’s (that’s Benjamin Franklin’, folks, sorry for any inadvertant confusion) maxim that those who give up a little liberty to get a little safety will neither get, nor deserve, either. But in their efforts to feel safe in their little fortress, Congress members keep throwing out everyone else’s civil liberties too. Indeed they probably believe they aren’t throwing out there’s along with yours. One day they’ll find out they’re wrong (indeed the new FISA bill gave the executive the right to spy on anyone, including Senators, without oversight. Smart. Real smart.)

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Ian Welsh

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  • we had for about a minute, back in November…

    What a fucking waste of energy.

    Sorry for my cycnicism–it’s contributes nothing to the discussion–but each day, when I think I can’t get more disgusted with The Powers That Be, ….I do.

  • … or least my version of it. I too burble over with cynicism at times and get it all over everybody else, and then my sense of civility leads me to cringe a little as I relax from my compelling, unsatiated urge to do something. 😐

    Somewhere in the annals of psychology there is written stages of grief or loss (or something). I feel like I, and perhaps others too, relive some of the stages repeatedly, but moving closer to acceptance all the time. By that I mean, more and more it feels like s**t is gonna hit the fan and I feel myself moving toward a protective, hunker down mode.

    I don’t know if I’m making sense, but I’m talking about something I don’t really control. It happens to me, and around me. Very unsettling.

  • are working on in a particular case:

    Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke opposed a push to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy mortgages higher than $417,000, saying it may undermine efforts to strengthen regulation of the two largest U.S. mortgage finance companies.

    A proposal in Congress to increase the limit “would be ill- advised if it has the practical effect of reducing the incentives to achieve meaningful” regulatory tightening over the companies, Bernanke said in a Sept. 17 letter to Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

    Frank and other Democrats, seeking to reverse the biggest housing market slump in 16 years, have called on the Bush administration to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy bigger mortgages and expand their $1.5 trillion investment portfolios. The companies’ regulator announced today it will allow the companies to annually increase their purchases of home loans and mortgage bonds by 2 percent.

    In my view, FDR would not have been on their side of the ball.

  • born an FDR Democrat, went far to the left as a kid, and returned to being one, as everyone one was taking the Dems away from labor and basic civil rights into “University sponsored” issues, like the environment, gender orientation, and all the other kinds of things we talk about on this site.

    These other issues are ok with me, but when you lose sight of the middle class, which labor became in the 60’s and 70’s, and basic civil rights, you lose too many votes. And the Republican have stepped into power since the Rainbow Coalition.

    Now here is Frank trying to get loans for someone in excess of 417k. That is nonsense and Paulson is starting to back his play:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Shifting course, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson planned to tell Congress that the Bush administration would consider allowing the big mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to temporarily buy, bundle and sell as securities loans exceeding $417,000.

    I don’t know any FDR Democrats except me. Where’d we all go?

  • although I’m very sympathetic to that tradition. On the third book of Schlessinger’s Roosevelt trilogy, which if you haven’t read I expect you would enjoy.

    Very interesting and unusual guy Roosevelt. Very flexible in his approaches to things, actually. He was interested in “what worked” and had a real care for ordinary people. He wanted things to “work” and was willing to keep trying until they did, and if one thing didn’t seem to cut it, he’d try another.

    There’s not much I want more for the US than another Roosevelt.

  • Before you get on your high horse, a starter house in So Cal, where I live is $450k to $500k. Similarly in Hawaii. And these are 40 to 50 year old 1,200 sq ft, no basement, 3 bed 2 bath tract home in the cheapest city in the LA metro area.

    STFU until you know why things are the way they are. Moron.

  • And consider – there is NO unregulated financial market. The fed controls interest rates, including adjustable mortgages. The fed raised interest rates 17 time in a row, without considering the impact on ARMs (as Greenspan confessed), and are now scrambling to fix the monumental fuck-up they caused becuase they ignored the ARM resets.

    And who permitted NINA (No income, no assets, no ratio) and SISA (Stated Income, Stated Asset) loans? The Fed. As they have the responsibility of regulating the financial markets The Fed encouraged the “investors” (institutions buying mrotgage based bonds), to set the underwriting standards that allowed these very stupid loans.

    And you f…..s what to blame the public (the borrowers). Way to go, just like the republicans, who blame the public for no “choosing” to purcase medical insurance.

    I suppose you believe that advertisng juck food to kids make no contribution to obesity? So advertising home loans to the public does not encourage people to buy homes?

    You Jerks.

  • I’m going to cut you some slack, this once. Neither Mauberly nor I are blaming the borrowers as a class, we just disagree that Franks is the best solution. You are assuming what our reasons are for opposing it. Given that Fannie Mae can’t even produce an audited financial statement for the last few years, I really am not interested in letting them load up on more bad debt. It’s a bad solution that will only pump up the bubble even more. There comes a time when you have to deflate bubbles.

    See, for example this article.

    However calling people f….s and morons is unacceptable behaviour. Please don’t do it.

  • If mortgages weren’t as easily available, then So. Cal. prices would return to reasonable levels instead of being several times higher than the national norms. Increase the limits and see housing prices soar even higher. Good for existing home owners, bad for the society.

  • but ad hominem attacks are the substance and stuff of a lot of other blogs. I don’t post on them because, quite frankly, the space for polite reasoned discourse just doesn’t exist.

    Thank you for Agonist.

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