The blogosphere has been going crazy all day at Obama's apparent support of the FISA bill that just passed the House. (See here
. And here
. And here
. And here
While Obama says he'll "try" to remove the immunity provisions for the telephone companies who provided the government illegal access to our phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications, others say he should focus on the other provisions of the bill, which take away our right to privacy.
They want Obama's head on a platter. And if they're not careful, they're going to get it.
People who do what we are asking of Obama have been killed. Over and over.
Those who did the noble, right thing, who challenged big money head on, who protested war and took steps to end it, have paid a heavy price. President John Kennedy. Senator Bob Kennedy. Martin Luther King.
Obama is not naive. He knows what the stakes are. A part of me is mad at him for not trying harder, but another part is hearing him say to himself, "but when I'm president, things will be different."
I'd argue the voice in his head is wrong. Because it's what you do in a crisis that defines who you are. And our country is facing a constitutional crisis. We need giants, but have only some men and women on the hill, more interested in protecting their own careers than in fighting the epic battle that needs to be waged. But I also feel sorry for him.
He aspires to be someone great. But so far, he is only a man, not a giant.
Obama can't do this alone. We need to help. And so far, most people not on liberal blogs aren't even aware of this battle. And even some who ARE aware think immunity is okay. We feel we are the core of the party, but we are not. There are many in the party who believe that immunity IS the right thing. I am not of that persuasion.
I sometimes wonder if we're just going to have to go through fascism to truly understand it's danger, the insidiousness of it all. Will we have to suffer a holocaust of our own - not Jews, this time, but perhaps liberals, or maybe Muslims - to understand why we can't give away our rights in this fashion? Ask a German. They have incredibly strict laws (or had, prior to the EU) preventing the collection of personal data because THEY KNOW how dangerous the accumulation of such data can be.
This is OUR fight. This has ALWAYS been OUR fight.
Over and over, whenever the government has overstepped, WE have failed to reign it in. When Nixon overstepped, he was forced from office. But when the CIA overstepped, performing illegal domestic activities - spying on Americans right here at home, infiltrating student groups and peace movements - Congress failed to serve up an appropriate remedy. Cowed by the death of a CIA station chief they claimed had been exposed by the incessant prying atmosphere (when they weren't prying nearly hard enough), Frank Church, perhaps due to his own presidential ambitions, refused to push for accountability, and allowed the laws to be opened up, to give the CIA greater leeway to commit what previously had been an egregious breach of the law.
WE failed by not protesting this in the streets, by rolling over and going back to sleep. By pretending that didn't mean anything. It set a dangerous precedent.
During Iran-Contra, when Robert Parry made the cover of Newsweek with an article that demonstrated how Reagan's aids were rewriting chronologies to hide his hand in the deal, did Congress rise up and impeach Reagan? No. Newsweek pulled that issue from the stands! As the title of a wonderful little play cries, everything was "in the hands of its enemy."
What did WE do? Nothing. There was no outrage, outside a few tiny groups of people paying attention.
I submit WE have not done OUR part.
How many of us have pressed for the truth about the deaths of those who WERE brave, who DID stand up against huge forces and do battle?
WE didn't have their back. WE didn't do our part.
So we can rant and rave all we want. But WE are a big part of the problem.
I'm trying to do my part. I've done a lot of homework. I've been very vocal about who I think the killed our best leaders and why. I speak out loudly and often on the subject because I believe doing so helps protect future leaders. But it will take much more than a handful of researchers. It will take an entire country saying no more lies. No more unelected goverment. No more domestic spying. No more cover-ups for political assassinations.
If the price may be an assassination for which no one will be held accountable, is it too much to ask Obama to do the right thing?
Do WE have his back?
Are we truly going to take to the streets and hold our elected leaders accountable? No one else will do it. This is still a government of the people, and by the people, if not often FOR the people. And WE have shirked our duties.
This is on us as much as him. Because so long as we're only talking to each other, we're not changing things.
We need to spend more time talking to people who AREN'T on left-wing blogs. Reaching NEW audiences. Commenting on sites where right-wing libertarian-type allies may see it. Then we may build enough awareness to truly have Obama's back, and the back of anyone trying to do good.
I was sorry to see all the vitriol re Ron Paul. He wasn't going to win, so his more extreme views didn't bother me. Those weren't the reasons people were supporting him. They supported him because he said government is corrupt and broken, and that we shouldn't be at war in Iraq. And he was dead on re the need to reform our money system.
When we shut our ears and go "La-la-la can't HEAR you because you're a Republican/Democrat," we're missing some chances to build bridges and forge powerful coalitions.
We need to listen to the arguments of others, if only to better refute them. But we should listen with an ear to learning, and perhaps reaching a point of agreement in a surprising place.
And we need to teach each other history, and specifically, conspiratorial history. Conspiracy theory is simply pattern recognition. But you can't recognize the patterns if you don't know what they look like. The only way to prevent a conspiracy from happening is to expose it before it happens. The only way to expose it is to recognize the signs. And the only way to recognize the signs is to study conspiracies. We can't prevent large-scale corruption until we gain some conspiracy literacy.
I believe strongly the many voices crying out re Iran have prevented us, so far, from creating a fake event that would drag us into war.
By not being willing to deal with the weirdnesses around 9/11, we have shirked our duty. Many don't want to be associated with a few truly paranoid people who surround that case, but there are deeper issues that have nothing to do with planes and buildings that we should be pursuing, specifically, where did the money come from to pay the hijackers? It went from the ISI, the CIA-trained intelligence service in Pakistan, to the hijackers. Who gave the money to ISI? And isn't that worth finding out? If we shriek "conspiracy lunacy" every time the subject comes up, we can't find out. And if we can't find out, we can't prevent future attacks.
So yeah, we can claim to be holier than thou - but really, what are WE doing?
How can Obama or anyone stand up to such enormous power when the costs to his predecessors have been so very high? The only way he'd dare is if we bring him right up to the goal line.
Re illegal wiretapping, this IS a big deal. This is THE big deal of our collective rights, so far. And those who get it are working hard on this. Many more don't have a clue. And it's going to take so many more to win this one.
It's going to take something more along the lines of a general strike to shake the business community to its knees. And that's the positive option. The negative option is that we have to suffer a period similar to that in Nazi Germany to wake people up, to make them realize politics is as important as life itself. Most people in America find politics boring, something removed, something they don't have to participate in. But most people in Germany of my generation and earlier understand that not paying attention can have truly disastrous results.
So stop whining about Obama. Press him. Support him. Push him to do the right thing. But understand as well that he's all we've got. No one else is coming.
And most importantly, remember this surprisingly sage advice from Michael Jackson's song "Man in the Mirror":
If you want to make the world a better place,
take a look at yourself and make a change.