(updated below - Update II - Update III)
According to the President and his followers, we will be -- as of the stroke of midnight tonight -- no longer safe, no longer protected, no longer snug and secure in the strong and loving arms of our Federal Government. That's because the Protect America Act -- a law which has only existed for six months yet is now indispensable to America's ability to survive and avoid being slaughtered by the Terrorists -- expires tonight.
The President himself this morning dramatically intoned: "At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gravely pointed out: "What will happen at midnight tonight is much more significant than stump speeches, steroids or superdelegates. On Sunday, the terrorist tracking program . . . no longer will be fully operational." National Review warrior and all-around tough guy Andy McCarthy fretted: "When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe."
This is one of the most bizarre propaganda dramas ever, even when weighed against other Bush Terrorism propaganda dramas of the past. There is one reason, and one reason only, that the Protect America Act expired. Its name is "George W. Bush." That is who refused to agree to the Democrats' offer to extend the law by 21 days (or longer), then repeatedly threatened to veto any such extension ("US President George W. Bush on Wednesday vowed to veto another temporary extension of a domestic spying law"), then directed the always-obedient House Republicans to vote unanimously against the extension, which they (needless to say) did. This vital-to-our-safety piece of legislation expired only because George W. Bush repeatedly blocked its extension. It's just that simple.
All of the right-wing war cheerleaders who will be rendered sleepless as of midnight tonight, petrified that the Muslims who normally lurk menacingly on their corners will now be free to spring attacks since we now live under FISA (1978-8/2007) rather than the PAA (8/2007-2/2008), have only the Warrior-Protector Commander-in-Chief to blame for making us all so very "unprotected and unsafe." And George W. Bush's (absurd) claim this morning that, as of midnight tonight, "it will be harder for our government to keep you safe from terrorist attacks" amounts to a confession that he has deliberately chosen to make us all Unsafe because he is the one who single-handedly ensured the death of this Vital Intelligence Tool. This is an extremely straightforward, clear and indisputable fact which even our national press corps ought to have no trouble conveying.
UPDATE: The deeply serious Heritage Foundation -- and this is real -- has a countdown clock on its frontpage, showing to the
second milisecond the time that we all have left before we become -- all together now -- unsafe and unprotected (h/t sysprog):
It is true, of course, that many right-wing polemicists use fearmongering techniques like this manipulatively, to exploit the Terrorist threat for more unchecked government power and to advance their political agenda.
But many of them actually believe this, and there are undoubtedly all sorts of individuals in the U.S. today nervously looking at their clocks, with accelerating heartbeat and a deepening sense of foreboding, knowing that the Hour of Danger is nigh upon us. This pitiful, fear-drenched absurdity is the face of the Bush Movement, the symbol of the post-9/11 Bush Era in the United States.
UPDATE II: Several commenters underscore the seriousness with which this impending midnight deadline deserves to be taken. About the Heritage countdown clock, Sailmaker asks: "does the clock go negative so that we can see how long we have been dead?" FMD, quite reasonably, inquires: "If the nation is really going to be more vulnerable as the result of the expiration of the PAA (Protect AT&T Act), why hasn't Homeland Security's color coded threat level been raised to Magenta or Puce or some such thing?"
Most impressively, rupert_c shows that, even with this looming and scary crisis fast approaching, he is able to stay focused on what matters most -- a calm, constructive search for a solution:
Are you all insane?
They have already flown passenger jets into American buildings before and they can do it again!!!
Better give him what he wants.
Anyone have a crown we can offer him?
Finally, DCLaw1 dramatizes the grim countdown our Nation faces (as well as the riveting Berkeley Treason scandal described in the prior post) in serial form (here, here, and here), although much of this has been done before:
Season Two: It's been more than a year after Jack Bauer experienced the longest and most painful day of his life. But things are about to get much worse. A nuclear bomb has been planted in Los Angeles. President David Palmer has no choice but to call Jack back to CTU for another day of hardships. . . . And Jack must face the toughest challenge of his life. . . finding the bomb with aid from the woman who killed his wife, Nina Myers. The clock is ticking. . .
I wonder if they used the Heritage clock -- which, just by the way, now warns that time is short:
I'd love to know how many National Review readers and Rush Limbaugh listeners spent today going to the store to stock up on window shutters, duct tape and canned goods.
UPDATE III (!):
According to Heritage, it's now been 7 hours, 6 minutes, and 39.55 seconds since expiration of the FISA "extention" (sic -- who can stay calm enough to spell correctly during a Doomsday crisis?). Is there anyone out there? Is there anyone left?