February 4, 2008
The Direction of Compromise
By Perry Willis
Today's Downsizer Dispatch . . . Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this with others. Quote of the Day: "Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass Subject: The Direction of Compromise We are told that compromise is the essence of politics. We assert that seeking what you really want is the only way to move the process of compromise in the right direction. We are constantly amazed by the propensity of people to prejudge what is possible. Many people tend to give away valued goals at the very start of a negotiation, rather than at the end. This leads the resulting compromises to move in the wrong direction, toward larger government, rather than smaller. It's one thing to give up on something you want because it is necessary to get something else you want. It's quite another thing to give up on your values before the negotiations have even begun. Too many people are too certain of their own political sophistication. They falsely believe they can predict the outcome. Because of this unfounded confidence they give away valuable bargaining chips in return for nothing. We encounter this problem constantly with regard to things like the "Read the Bills Act." Some people tell us we would be more likely to get it passed if we gave up this provision or that provision. Why give up anything now, when no one is offering us anything in exchange, and when our strategy for passing the bill -- applying overwhelming pressure -- is at such an early stage? We strongly believe that to get what we want, we must FIRST ASK FOR IT. Do not ask for what you think the politicians would be willing to give, ask for what YOU WANT, and try to make the politicians compromise in your direction more than you compromise in their direction. Citizens should fight for the principle, and make the politicians generate the compromises. The fight over the "Protect America Act" -- the law that permits warrantless spying on Americans -- has been a case in point. We think the law is bad and should be repealed, outright. So we have repeatedly encouraged you to ask Congress for exactly that. Meanwhile . . . Others have campaigned for this compromise or that compromise. These compromises have become the starting point for the negotiation, allowing many in Congress to naturally assume that it would be okay to provide even less than the offered compromise. Now "the negotiations" are nearing an end. Congress appears very likely to vote on a replacement for the "Protect America Act." The goods news is that Congressional opponents of PAA have won a fight to have several good amendments considered. We hope that our constant pressure for outright repeal of PAA has contributed to this result. We want to continue to ask you to ask for outright repeal, but, if we must have a replacement for PAA, we are now ready to suggest that you use your personal comments to advocate for the passage of the compromise amendments listed below. Yes, we know, the list of amendments we're about to offer is long and somewhat mind numbing. This is another reason we usually try to strike at the root, so we can avoid all this hair-splitting. To save yourself time you could just cut and paste the items listed below into the personal comments section of your message to Congress . . .
  • The Dodd-Feingold Amendment that strips retroactive immunity for the telecom companies that collaborated in illegal spying on the American people.
  • The Feingold-Webb-Tester Amendment to provide additional protections for Americans who communicate with people in foreign countries.
  • Senator Feingold's amendment to prohibit the "bulk collection" of all communications between Americans and the outside world -- the government's collection of communications must be targeted, not a random sweep.
  • Senator Feingold's amendment prohibiting "Reverse Targeting" -- this is a practice by which the government gets around FISAs court order requirements by wiretapping an individual overseas when it is really interested in a person in the U.S. with whom that supposed foreign target is communicating. The Director of National Intelligence has agreed that reverse targeting is unconstitutional. Senator Feingolds amendment requires the government to obtain a court order whenever a significant purpose of the surveillance is to acquire the communications of an American in the U.S.
  • The "Use Limits" amendment -- this amendment gives the FISA Court discretion to impose restrictions on the use of information about Americans that is acquired through procedures later determined to be illegal by the FISA court.
  • The amendment that requires the executive branch to provide Congress with timely access to FISA court pleadings related to significant interpretations of law, which may be necessary to understand the courts rulings, as well as past FISA court orders containing such interpretations. This is necessary for Congress to perform its oversight function.
You can send your message here. Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army. Jim Babka President, Inc.
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