Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bad News/Good News

Altho it’s hard to find good news in this:

In a 205-217 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort to restrict the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to collect electronic information.

The NSA's chief had lobbied strongly against the proposed measure.

The vote saw an unusual coalition of conservatives and liberal Democrats join forces against the programme.

I’m going to try.

Yes, the measure was defeated, but look at that vote total: if only six votes had swung the other way, this bill passes – and probably dies a slow painful death in the Senate. But for once, we could have been proud of the House.

Second, a coalition of ideologues from both wings of the nation – liberal and conservative – banded together. We finally found something to agree upon.

Given Congress’s abysmal ratings – HIV probably polls higher – the fact the House could get anything done is to be commended, which is a little like clapping for your tyke when he hits the toilet while sitting down.

But even in this good news lies a dark, nasty secret: this bill, supposedly advanced by a “renegade” conservative Republican…and really, how conservative do you have to be for Boehner to turn his back on you?...had some surprisingly establishment assistance:

Boehner opposes the NSA amendment. Leadership doesn’t care much for Justin Amash. But they were listening to complaints from a broad swath of Republicans who wanted to vote against the spying program, exposed by former security contractor Edward Snowden.

And even after GOP leadership privately determined Amash’s threats were likely empty — that he didn’t have the votes to keep the Defense appropriations bill from coming to the floor — top aides to Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) staff spent the week holding Amash’s hand, helping him turn an unworkable amendment into language that would effectively quash one of the spy agency’s most effective tools.

“Amash was out there acting like he was fighting against the leadership trying to shut us down,” one Republican involved said. “The reality is [leadership was] twisting ourselves in knots for a week trying to craft language that was germane and got at the issue.”

Oh. So it wasn’t that he was too radical for them, he was too big an iliterate douchebag nutcase. Got it now.