Large wars are never won in a single instant, they are won with the persistent day to day skirmishes that over time wear down the defenses of the other side. We are in such a battle on FISA — on our side is liberty, freedom and the rule of law.
What we must do is to convince those legislators who have lost their bearings that their moral, solemn obligation is to the rule of law not to an expedient end for an inconvenient quandary not of their making. They owe this not just to us, those whose interests they are elected to represent, but also to the generations that follow ours from the Founding of this nation forward into generations yet to be, to uphold their oaths to the Constitution, and to maintain the rule of law and not of men. For without that, this nation will, I am afraid, fall into ruin. And we will have failed in our solemn duty to our forebears to not allow this to happen without a fight.
So, to the barricades.
Let’s start the first wave by making calls to your Senators this morning — be kind but firm to the staffers, let them know we expect the good Senators to stand up for liberty and the rule of law, to stand against telecom immunity — for it is anathema to excuse potential criminal behavior without first knowing exactly what promises the Bush Administration gave those companies in written indemnification agreements and we expect these Senators to do their full duty by examining any and all documents pertaining thereto.
In accordance with the Fourth Amendment to our Bill of Rights, no American shall be spied upon without a lawful warrant being obtained. Period. That includes the fact that basket warrants are unconstitutional and any law allowing for them shall be challenged forthwith.
We expect them to live up to that oath to honor the Constitution and the rule of law. And if they do not, they can expect us to hound them from this day forward until they see what John Adams described as follows: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
George Bush is using Congress to shield himself from the full light of public scrutiny for his wrongs. When all of the evidence as to what has been done comes out, those Senators who enable him will be exposed as complicit in his wrongdoings.
Please ask your Senator if he or she is willing to put themselves on the line for George Bush’s temporary honor? Do they trust that George Bush and his Administration are following the law fully and without exception in this? And that the Bush Administration is being fully and completely honest with them as to what has been done?
Let’s brainstorm a bit on which Senators ought to be targeted for pressure. Gather up the local office phone numbers, addresses and FAX numbers. Contemplate good letters to the editor in their hometown papers. Or calling in to local talk radio. Think about setting up one-on-one meetings at local offices with staffers or, if you happen to be in DC, asking for a constituent meeting with staffers there — since they are on break, they have the time to meet on an issue of Constitutional importance, I should think. It’s high time to revive the "You Work For Us Summer Tour," don’t you think?
What else can be done? Let’s brainstorm…we have a rule of law to uphold, and a tradition of dissent to carry forward.
We have been watching the mini-series John Adams on HBO with great interest over the last couple of weeks. What has grabbed me from the start — apart from the incomparable cast, level of acting and scripting — is how alive the history seems in the hands of actors whose forte it is to play real people, warts and all. And how pale so many of today’s leaders appear to be in the comparison to the sacrifices and dedication with which the Founders and their families put to the cause of liberty and freedom.
But they seem so in hindsight, after the passing of a great many years and an even larger number of foibles and petty grievances have long since withered away, separating the leadership from the petty chaff of human frailty.
It is fascinating stuff. Especially when you view today’s political stewings through the lens of historical lesson and approbation of all that has turned out well, but also through the more indelicate viewpoint of all those failings to which each and every Founder was, at one point or another, tugged toward or from — be it the indelicate affairs of Franklin and his many mistresses and illegitimate children or Adams’ wealth of pride and arrogance or the devil’s bargain of maintaining slavery at the cost of unanimity at the very founding of the nation itself in the agreement to the great writing of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, which was tainted with the blood of so many left out of that document for so long.
Everything comes at a price — the question in politics is how to make possible the least cost for the most benefit for the greatest good.
The Franklin line from the second episode that "politics is the art of the possible" misses the mark in one respect: sometimes the "possible" is years in the making, the chipping away like water nudging grain after grain of resistance away over time until you have a Grand Canyon in all its glory unfolding for the view of all the rest of humanity.
Which is, most days, how I envision the FISA fight. With us as that tiny trickle at the start that becomes a loud roar that brooks no blockade as it seeks freedom.