A Bad Idea Is A Bad Idea, Even If It Is OursYou know, a bad idea is a bad idea, no matter who comes up with it.
Exhibit A, a story about some well-connected Democrats led by former Clinton aide Harold Ickes. Ickes icky idea is to data mine a variety of sources to identify Democrats who presumably would vote along party lines and cough up enough cash to blunt the Republicans' control of all things governmental.
"The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them" Ickes said. "Appreciate" them, hell they love them. The cadres go by the initials FBI and CIA and work under the auspices of the UnPatriot Act. Nobody swings a virtual pick any better than these guys and they have the data nuggets to prove it.
Ickes rationalization sounds awfully familiar, almost Bushonian in it moral relativism. "It's unclear what the DNC is doing. Is it going to be kept up to date?" Out-of-date information is "worse than having no database at all," he says. Remove the reference to the DNC and insert "the American people" and we could swear his voice sounds just like Alberto Gonzales channeling Bush's need for more data in the War on Whatever It Is This Week.
As usual, the Republicrats beat the Democans to the punch. That bastion of American unity, the RNC, started several years ago to build a database of voters centered around what they call "anger points". Hate abortion, here's the list. Hate liberals, here's the list. Think Karl Rove is the latter day coming of Jesus and Bush is his God, here's the list. Members of a South Dakota abortion cult, well, you get the idea.
We're sure the Republicans will piss and whine about this move, much as they piss and whine about many other "unfair" and "damaging" practices they employ themselves. You really have to hand it to them, hypocrisy, like evolution, is a concept well beyond their comprehension.
However, we're equally sure many Democrats will support this high-tech gold panning operation, claiming that if the other side does it they have to too. This argument is akin to India and Pakistan both claiming they need nukes to "protect" themselves from one other. The idea that some idiot zealot with access to the button might solve the problem - by annihilating both - once and for all never seems to occur to them.
Here's the bottom line - defeating Republicans is an admirable goal. There's no one more foursquare behind the idea than us, but a bad idea is a bad idea whoever comes up with it. Until now, the idea of snooping on their fellow citizens has been the clear province of Republicans. They snoop, they spy, they collect more data than they can use in 100 years - and they're damn good at it.
But snooping is wrong. We need more protection from this sort of intrusion, not less. We've already slid down the slippery slope, fell off the cliff at the edge of the river, and are now floating helplessly toward Niagara Falls. One can only hope we'll survive the fall long enough to swim to the Canadian side where, hopefully, cooler heads prevail. Eh?
It's time for Democrats to do something they've been awfully loathe to do recently - stand on principle. Forget this cockamamie idea and leave the spying to Bush. We're not foolish enough to think money is unimportant to the political process, but we're also not foolish enough to completely abandon bedrock principles in the face of a "they did it so we have to too" mentality.
Leave that to Bush, because that's exactly the type of reasoning that Dad and Bar imbued in the poor little bastard when he was a kid - you don't have to follow the rules, because we're above all that.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, March 08, 2006