Omnibus budget/spying bill is a corrupt, stupid mess

The Omnibus Budget Bill passed this week, and Paul Ryan managed to cram the domestic mass surveillance law CISA into it, but that's just the appetizer in a banquet of corrupt DC horsetrading embodied in 2,000+ pages that indicts the entire US legislative system.

Some context: for years, the Tea Party Republicans in Congress have played the tactical game of refusing to pass virtually any legislation, on the grounds that they hate everything Obama likes, and even if they don't hate it, passing something good from Obama will just be good for the Democrats, so fuck 'em. This intentional disfunctionality is a really good tactic for people whose political platform is based on the idea that governments are useless. Having been elected on this premise, they only need to do their jobs as badly as possible in order to prove their point, and therefore get re-elected. Deliberately trying to crash the US government has proven to be so divisive within the GOP that their senior leadership are quitting government in disgust.

So the US government had no budget, because the Tea Party stonewalled it, and it was only some brinksmanship horse-trading that kept the lights on in America until this week, when the "emergency" temporary budget ran out. So there was going to be a new budget this week, no matter what.

At this point, every corrupt asshole in Washington started lobbying to get everything they cared about attached to the budget, which is why it's a 2,000-page omnibus bill. Part of that was Paul Ryan's addition of the domestic surveillance bill CISA to the budget. CISA started out as a cyber-security bill that encouraged companies to secretly violate their privacy policies and hand information over the goverment, immunizing them from liability for doing so. It had some pretty important privacy protections built into it that barely saved it from being a cynical domestic mass surveillance bill and gave it some claim to being about cybersecurity, but all those privacy protections were ripped out at the last minute.

That's just for starters, though: Republican operators spent the runup to the bill copypasting phrases that had literally no legislative effect, but did signal to low-information voters that their agenda was being upheld.

For example, the bill specifically defunds ACORN, a community service group that became a Republican whipping-boy in 2009. ACORN has since folded. But the bill bans any funding to ACORN, its "allied organizations" (a legally meaningless term) and "successors" (another legally meaningless term."

But as much as the GOP wants the nation to know that it hates ACORN — which, I remind you, no longer exists — they're really anxious to let you know they hate porn. A legally meaningless clause prohibiting funding for networks that aren't censored for porn appears in many bills that GOP operators have copypasted all over, but this bill takes the cake: the magic, meaningless phrase appears four times, for no particular reason, except to chest-thump and declare one's meaningless, repetitive opposition to porn.

Here Is The Single Dumbest Thing In The Government Spending Bill
[Zach Carter/Huffington Post]

(via Techdirt)

(Image: Ryan speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. in March 2014., Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA)