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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Feingold Reminds US to Stay Outraged

by bert

Good for Russ Feingold for continuing this week to protest against the warrantless wiretapping bill. Too bad no one is listening.

We're all tired, I know. It's summer for god's sake. And this is just one old, rotting piece on a messy pile of constitutional outrages that were built up in the guise of fighting terror.

But Feingold, along with Sen. Christopher Dodd, is still out there this week on the Senate floor and in interviews with messages that are in effect paddling upstream. They are pushing against a strong current of indifference. (UPDATE: Note, for example, the buried wire story on this that the Journal Sentinel ran Thursday morning.) This shows that both men are working from principles, and not craven political posing. You don't pose when you know no one is watching.

At issue is the bill that will exonerate phone companies for opening communications to the executive branch of government without the (heretofore) required judicial permission, and will weaken protections of our privacy against one government branch's unilateral decision to snoop.

What sticks in Feingold's craw -- besides the fact that the existing rules to act fast and give judicial oversight would work fine against terror -- is that this administration knew the wiretaps were illegal, and just did them anyway.

Bush's defenders try to attack Feingold's position by saying Feingold doesn't want the government to fight terror. I remember Jessica McBride urging Feingold to watch the movie "United 93". But obvious to anyone is that the administration's motive is not terror, it is a belief in unfettered executive branch power and in the divine right of corporations.

Here's Feingold today during an interview with Amy Goodman's Democracy Now:

But I think a censure resolution [against George Bush] that essentially lays out the same case, that for the first time since Andrew Jackson says this president has
actually violated the laws of the land and has disregarded our system of government, is a very important step. I know it won’t happen. I know it’s not going to be brought up. But I do think it would be the appropriate step . . .
Feingold recognizes that our mass fatigue and a conservative media are working against a clear view of the damage wreaked by the Bush administration. In fact, lately sensing an opportunity, right-wing dead-enders have been working stealthily to exploit this indifference -- -- to try to burnish the lame duck's outgoing image while no one is looking. For example, Mark Belling last week called Bush's war on terror a "glorious victory".

So Feingold deserves credit for pushing back a little -- for lighting a candle rather than cursing the apathy.

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