crypto and public policy

Pedalling in the Mud

Filed under: Policy January 31, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

Last night, I attended, in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, an ACLU “Emergency Townhall Meeting” regarding Bush’s domestic spying program. The participants were top notch, particularly Marc Rotenberg of EPIC and Representative Ed Markey. The arguments were calm, composed, and focused, only rarely straying into the anti-Bush diatribe one might expect from an ACLU meeting.

But from the moment I stepped into the room through tonight, I’ve felt extremely sad and powerless. I feel like we, liberals, are pedalling in the mud. We’re preaching to the choir, and, frankly, we’re not getting any traction outside of those who already agree. After all, if I disagree with Bush, it’s not exactly news. Even if Congressman Ed Markey disagrees with Bush, it’s not news.

Is it okay for the President to spy on Americans without a warrant? Of course it isn’t. Did Bush notify the proper people in Congress? The evidence clearly shows he didn’t. Does this program help in the fight against terrorism? Well, who knows, but then again, putting every Muslim in jail would probably help in the fight against terrorism, too, but it would hardly be legal, so that’s hardly a valid argument.

This is a big deal. This is a President going for a power grab, placing justices on the Supreme Court who will support his power grab, and rewriting laws he doesn’t like. This is how democracy is threatened, bit by bit, one infraction after another, until it’s too late to turn back.

But the thing is, there’s nothing I can do. The only people who can do something are those who are closest to Bush. The reasonable Republicans who realize that this is bad news for everyone. As I’ve said before, it behooves members of any group to denounce the extremists closest to them.

Let’s be more precise. It behooves me to denounce Cindy Sheehan right now. I fully support her right to protest, and I agree with her on Iraq. But I cannot accept her visit to Venezuela, her participation in anti-globalization protests, her (supposed) blind support of Palestinian causes without any balance or understanding of the Israeli position, and her recent claim that Democrats and Republicans are “just the same” in her prelude to running against Dianne Feinstein. Those are the positions of extremists. And, most importantly, my statement on THIS issue has a certain value, because it obviously isn’t blindly partisan.

But I can’t do anything about Bush’s spying program. Because even if my position is justified, it will always be seen as partisan. So it behooves the Republicans to put an end to this insanity. You can support Bush, but ask for oversight. You can support Bush on 90% of the issues, but oppose him when he threatens the very constitutional principles he is supposed to defend.

If you don’t speak up, if you stick to the brainless partisan line, then you are responsible for what will happen as this power grab continues.

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