Today's Downsizer Dispatch
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Quotes of the Day:
"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."
-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
-- David Thoreau
Subject: Fear is the problem. Courage is the solution.
Something strange has happened. It demands an explanation, and a response.
President Bush was in big trouble this time last year. He had broken the law, and implicated several major telephone companies in his crime. He had spied on Americans without a warrant.
The solution to his problem seemed ready to hand. His party controlled Congress. All he had to do was get them to pass a law legalizing what he had done, and immunizing the telecom companies.
It didn't happen.
The Republicans couldn't ram the bill through, even though they controlled the levers of Congressional power. Then the Republicans lost control of Congress -- swept out of power by widespread discontent with their corruption and the war in Iraq.
That should have been the end of it.
There should have been no chance that a Democrat controlled Congress would give President Bush what his fellow Republicans had not.
But this past weekend the Democrats did exactly that. They legalized warrant-less spying on innocent Americans. Of course . . .
The Democrats claim to have done no such thing. They claim their legislation only permits spying on those Americans who talk to foreigners on the telephone. But lots of Americans talk to foreigners on the phone, and those who do can now be spied upon without a warrant.
Any way you slice it, that's still a violation of the 4th Amendment.
But the Democrat leadership contends that their bill provides protections that are just as good as a warrant. Any surveillance of Americans must be approved by both the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General.
It is to laugh. You might as well say that any spying the President wants has to be authorized by the President. The Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General both serve at the President's pleasure.
It is to cry. The Democrats are trying to drive Attorney General Alberto Gonzales out of office, for incompetence and possible crimes, but now they've handed him a direct line to your telephone. Why?
It is to scratch one's head in wonder. Karl Rove and the Republicans have re-written the political playbook by showing the importance of playing to your base, but now the Democrats have gone and done something their base will hate. Why? What is going on here?
Now, it must be said that nearly all Democrats voted against this legislation. But why did the Democratic leadership let it come to a vote when they had all sorts of methods by which they could have blocked or delayed such a vote?
The answer lies in the fear felt by the 14 conservative Democrats who voted with the Republicans to pass this legislation. These so-called blue-dog Democrats are the key to Democrat control of Congress, and they reside in conservative districts vulnerable to Republican challengers in the next election. Here's what the blue-dogs fear . . .
There will be another terrorist attack. This is as certain as night following day, so long as we maintain our huge footprint in the Middle East.
It wouldn't matter if you built walls along every U.S. border and every U.S. beach, and severely restricted travel -- THERE WILL STILL BE ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK EVENTUALLY, AS LONG AS WE REMAIN MIRED IN MID-EAST MEDDLING.
And if that attack happens with a Republican in the White House . . .
The Republicans will blame the Democrats for not giving the President sufficient powers to prevent it.
Never mind that there isn't enough power in all the world to prevent terrorism, the blame game will still be in order. And the blue-dog Democrats will be the most vulnerable to it. That's why they voted to pass this bill . . . out of fear.
They fear that the public will believe Republican charges of softness in the so-called war on terror.
It is the public's unreasonable fear of terrorism that leads to cowardice in Congress.
Fear is the problem. It lies at the root of our difficulties. We must strike at this fear, and root it out, if we are to preserve our freedoms.
Tomorrow we will begin to do just that. We will place the fear of terrorism in its proper place in the vast array of disasters that are the lot of humanity on earth, and by so doing we will work to remove the toxic stain of cowardice from the body politic.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new type of campaign for Downsize DC -- campaigns that strike at the root of unreasonable beliefs and social pathologies that provide the incentive, or the cover, for massive government expansion.
Fear is the problem. Courage is the solution.
Are you brave? Then prepare for action.
Meanwhile, today, we need to continue to establish a strong base for insuring that the spying bill dies in six months when its sunset date arrives. If you have not sent a message on this yet, please do so now.
You can do so here.
We will be hitting this issue repeatedly over the next six months, and we must do so strongly each time.
If you've already sent a message on this issue, please use the "Read the Bills" campaign to hit the issue again from a different angle. Tell Congress you are upset that the FISA bill was rushed to a vote without a proper reading. Tell them you want RTBA passed, and the FISA bill to sunset.
You can send that message here.
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