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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hey Barack, Listen Up

Here's a video from Sen. Russ Feingold in response to the many messages he's getting encouraging him to keep fighting the dangerous FISA bill that will now be heard when the Senate reconvenes next Tuesday. He summarizes what's wrong with this bill, and says our letters, phone calls and emails are making a real difference in this fight. We need to keep up the pressure -- on our Senators and our presumptive presidential nominee.

As currently written, the bill would provide retroactive immunity to telecoms without their having to enter a court of law to try and justify their complicity with illegal acts by President Bush. Even worse, the bill would give unprecedented and wide-ranging access to all our international communications without a court overseeing the process.

How could any Democrat vote for such a constitution-shredding bill? Ask Senator Obama -- if he follows through with his stated intention to vote for the FISA bill with or without telecom immunity. Despite his campaign's previous statement that he'd support a filibuster of any bill that contained retroactive immunity, Obama suddenly seems to believe that the dangers of terrorism justify throwing our privacy rights and laws in the trash can. Can anything be farther from the truth or sound more like a Bush-Cheney-McCain punchline? Is Obama really no better than the likes of Rep. Steny Hoyer, who pushed this bill on the House side?

Tonight's Obama Meeting
We attended the Obama campaign meeting tonight at the Plumbers' Hall in Albuquerque and it was apparent that Obama's incredibly disappointing and dismissive statement about the FISA bill was much on people's minds. Obviously, the 60+ people who showed up tonight to touch base with the new field organizers and get certified as voter registrars are gung-ho Obama supporters. And yet the enthusiasm of many seemed subdued and unfocused.

There was a fair amount of whispering and muttering going on in the crowd about Obama and FISA, as well as a few other stances he's taken recently. Several people even challenged the organizers about Obama's upcoming FISA vote, saying they'd have a very hard time going door to door to encouage people to vote for Barack if he backed the bill as written.

Meanwhile, outside the meeting, clumps of people expressed their disappointment and confusion about the Obama campaign's recent tack toward the Dem spinelessness we've come to know and abhor. No, not more of that, please. We've had enough.

Danger Ahead for Obama?
If I were Obama or any of his advisors, I'd be more than a little wary about these early danger signals within the ranks of those who need to be passionate in their support if the campaign's field strategy is to succeed. I can't imagine any of us abandoning the nominee based on his wrong-headed FISA vote, his unnecessary criticism of Wesley Clark's reasonable remarks about McCain or other similar disappointments, but it sure would make it harder to nourish a healthy sense of enthusiasm for the work that's ahead. Or to dig deep to donate generously to his campaign.

Is Obama willing to risk that in order to try and avoid criticism from the fearmongering hyenas of the punditry and the right? Hasn't he learned the most important lesson we've learned from what we've endured over the past decade or more? The hyenas will attack in the very same way whether Obama toes their line or not.

WE know this. Why doesn't Obama? Maybe he'll start getting the picture from what's become the fourth largest group on my.barackobama.com.  “Senator Obama­ Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity –­ Get FISA Right” is five days old and growing fast. Their mission statement says: “We are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill and lead other Democrats to do the same!” Click here to join the group, which currently has more than 9600 members. And read this by one of the folks who started the group. Here's a wiki that makes it easy to take action.

Much will be revealed next week. As Feingold says in the video, "I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you'll decide not to tear it up." Get it, Barack? Get it, Sen. Bingaman?

Let's keep up the contacts between now and next Tuesday and let those who are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law know we're watching and that we understand, very specifically, what's wrong with this bill. And with any Senator who votes for it in its present form.

P.S. As usual Glenn Greenwald says it all and says it well.

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July 1, 2008 at 10:45 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Justice, Local Politics, Terrorism | Permalink