Friday, June 20, 2008

Looking Beyond the FISA Bill

You didn't really expect them to do the right thing, did you?

That's okay. I was naive once. We've all been a little naive. The issue with telecom immunity boils down to this--there was no way that the telecom companies that illegally assisted the government with an illegal warrantless wiretapping program that did nothing to protect the American people were ever going to face true legal jeopardy. There was no way they were going to pay the penalties. No way were the decision makers going to face the music. There was no chance of a perp walk similar to the one we saw yesterday with the people at Bear Stearns. There was no way their cadre of lobbyists was going to allow legislation to come out of the Congress that would eviscerate these companies and cost them billions in liabilities.

With Fred Fielding in the White House and Michael Mukasey at the Justice Department? Forget it. Only a naive, pie-in-the-sky worshipping bobble-eyed hippie would have hoped it would all turn out right. Have we been able to set aside the freakout and accept such a bummer outcome all along? Did we know it was all going to turn to shit?

We may never know the full extent of what happened--nor should we care to. Someone waved papers at someone else across a table and someone had more intestinal fortitude than someone else. Someone got beat, and beat badly. That's all there is to it.

You can go read Jessalyn Radack and you can go read Glenn Greenwald and I will tell you--everything they're saying is correct.

But there is one thing no one knows--and that is, how bad was the thing that was used to threaten the Democratic Party to roll over on this issue? How bad was the thing they were threatening to use against anyone who opposed them? Was it the fact that there are archives on every Democratic politician kept sealed away--archives of their personal conversations, archives of their monetary dealings, details of their sex lives?

Here's one thing I do know--nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Nothing is too crazy, too paranoid or too outlandish to rule out. Did someone threaten to destroy the careers of a few prominent Democrats? Did a few lobbyists band together and threaten to have someone's dog shot and killed on a suburban street? Did someone produce photos of a lawmaker pressed naked against the headboard of a cheap hotel bed?

Something had to have been done to produce this result. Something awful.

You are never going to beat these people with outrage. You are never going to beat them with righteous indignation. You are never going to beat these people by citing the US Constitution as proof they do not respect the rule of law.

Because that's a fool's paradise in America, circa 2008.

No, you're only going to beat these people by quietly and purposefully organizing strong opposition to their efforts by backing candidates for office that have a chance of defeating them in primary races or in general election races. We need better Democrats now, not necessarily more Democrats, just better ones. We need to get rid of the Steny Hoyers, Jay Rockefellers, and the concern trolls like Harold Ford Jr. and James Carville. Their time is over. Not one thin dime, to any of them. They are craven fools who have sold us out.

The only way to beat them is to assume that, for the next ten years, you're not going to win anything. Assume that it will take that long, or longer, to find grassroots candidates who believe in what is right and are willing to fight against the people who are selling us out. Assume that there's a good possibility you'll never get there. Assume you'll get half way there and your candidate will sell you out.

That's how it works in the grown up world. You take what you can get. You fight to get whatever you can. But if you toughen up and learn to expect disappointment and frustration, those times when you do win and when you do make a massive impact will be all the more fulfilling. If you're up against tight-fisted, mean and nasty people who will say or do anything to hold on to what little they have then you've got to get just as mean and just as nasty and be willing to go where they won't--like, door to door in the rain signing up voters or being the only person you know who cares.

It is time to grow up--we're not going to get what's right. We're not going to get what's fair. We're going to get a cold, hard, bitter tasting pill to swallow. The question is--do you give up? Do you fight harder? Do you take this as a legitimate grudge against the people who sold you out and use it against them when they are weak and vulnerable and damn them to hell with it? When you're both exhausted and on the ground, and when your opponent reaches out to you for mercy, do you slap their hand away and stomp them into the ground and remember back to this moment and savor the victory?

The next fight is forming. They're not sitting there feeling sorry for you. They're celebrating. They popped corks last night and drank themselves silly because they won and we lost.

Are you going to take that?

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