Liberaltarians Against Telecom Immunity

28Jun08

So Obama is working against us on FISA and telecom immunity. That is very disapointing, to say the least. I would love to hear his rationale on that, but I don’t think we’re going to get that anytime before January 1st, 2009.

But what we do have right now is a new coaltion to fight the FISA sellout. (I think that “sellout” is a reasonable term here from several different perspectives.) It’s called Strange Bedfellows, and it’s a coalition of Ron Paul libertarians and various liberal bloggers like Glenn Greenwald, all with the blessing of the ACLU.

One thing I really like about this group is that it is determined, in the event that we lose this fight, to punish the Democrats who have taken the lead on the sellout: Steny Hoyer, Chris Carney, and John Barrow. This is the key requirement for political reform, both necessary and sufficient, because the fear of a powerful, primary challenge is one of the few things now that will cause the Democrats in Congress to straighten up and fly right. And the Ron Paul people have demonstrated an ability to raise the kind of money that can make a real impact in a few select primaries. If we knock even one of these guys out of office, and make sure that everyone knows that we did it because of the FISA sellout, then that should go a long way towards giving the Democrats a real commitment to civil liberties.

I support Obama for President, fully and completely, but I don’t have any stars in my eyes. In order to do the right thing, an elected official, even Obama, needs political support sufficient to overcome the vested interests who are opposed to doing the right thing. Another way to phrase that same thought is to say that any politician will do the right thing if you can apply enough political pressure to force him or her to do it. Either way you want to phrase it, it is now clear that we need to employ some serious political muscle if we want to see the Bush-Republican attacks on civil liberties corrected in an Obama-Democratic administration. Seriously going after a couple of FISA sellouts is a really good way to employ political muscle.

I’ve been trying to send a little money Obama’s way every month, but this month I’m going to send my donation to the Strange Bedfellows coalition. And I’m going to make sure to tell the Obama campaign about it, because basic economics tells me that Obama can’t be expected to make the best policy choices if he doesn’t face any costs for making bad ones.

Thanks to The Political Inquirer for the original link to Glenn Greenwald’s article, and thanks to Glenn Greenwald for the link to Simon Owen’s piece. Ain’t the Internets wonderful? For updates on the situation, check the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deeplinks blog.

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