Those of us who study history are often amazed how little things taking place miles away will ultimately cast a huge impact over all.
Imagine living in Georgia, waking up on April 19, 1775 working the farm, eating and going to bed without even remotely having a clue that over a thousand miles away, a shot fired would be heard around the world.
“Honey, did you hear ‘dat noise?
“Yep, somebody must be out catchin’ ‘em some food.”
And now some two hundred and thirty-three years later, after fighting first for this country, then against this country, then against opponents of that country, then against a country of opponents, and finally Georgia is where it is today.
And it all originated on a Green in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts . There, blood was spilled in defense of the truly original American notion that: I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore.
Tomorrow an event of much greater magnitude will take place and probably will go unnoticed by even WDEL. Before I go on, can anyone guess what it will be?
I refer to the revised FISA bill that goes up before a Senate vote tomorrow, February 12th, 2008. Those of you who do not follow Constitutional politics may be scratching your head, wondering why this would even be considered on the scale of the Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.
First: some background.
FISA was originally passed after Nixon had confused the concept of National Security with that of “Nixon’s security”. Thereby assuming both were synonymous, it was morally perfectly acceptable to bug the Democratic headquarters thereby enabling Nixon to stay in power by knowing in advance where Democratic “punches” would land.
FISA didn’t change much. It just said that someone else needed to look over the Executive Branch’s shoulder, and approve and insure that American values were protected. After 9/11 Cheney used the hysteria to say that no one should be looking over their shoulder. Having someone do so would endanger our safety. Although it made little sense, many went along and allowed it to happen.
To everyones surprise but mine, these new powers were not focused on terrorists. They were used predominantly on government employees, to vet out those within the State, Energy, and Defense Departments who might latter oppose ridiculous policies when they came forth. Fortunately the legislators put an end date, thereby killing this policy on a certain date. December 31, 2005.
In a hasty move, an extension was rushed through before the Congressional August holiday, extending the powers until two Friday’s ago. ( If your computer and internet connection seems to responding better today, you now know why. )
Tomorrow a vote takes place on a replacement FISA bill. Included in this bill is a blanket protection of immunity of all telephonic companies who complied with illegal searches of citizens records: searches that had no bearing on National Security. The telephone companies answer is, as expected: “Cheney made us do it.”
In a usual courtroom case of first degree murder, twelve members of the jury usually do not acquit a murderer of a spouse and innocent children, simply because he was told by someone else to do it. However it is certainly possible, that the trigger person could deal with the D/A and get a much reduced sentence by explaining the truth as it REALLY happened. There is a benefit to society in doing so. Currently there are at least seven lawsuits against these telephony companies who broke several basic privacy laws that have stood for centuries. By granting immunity to these companies there will be no way of getting them to testify, thereby enabling the American public to determine once and for all, that no wrongdoing was evident.
Since the sweat beading on the brow of this administration and the foreheads of all the telephon execs is telling, their innocence appears doubtful.
Therefore this ploy of granting immunity can be seen as an attempt to protect the “evil doers”, those very same who wish to undermine all American values.
The House has voted “No” shutting out any immunity for the telecoms. The only hope left to Cheney is for the Senate to vote Yes and then in secret negotiations with the House, re-add these immunity parts to this bill.
In the Senate, a yes vote looks likely, partly in thanks to Tom Carper. Hence, those few Senators still not compromised by Cheney, nor bought out by the telephony corporations, will attempt a last stand by use of a filibuster on the Senate floor. Chris Dodd leads the charge beginning with the procedural statement, ( Mr. President, I refuse to yield.) He will be joined by Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, and now, Patrick Leahy, each who will jump in with a question to the Senator long enough to insure that no puddles stain the Congressional carpet. These precious few will attempt to hold the floor until enough heat is put on the administration and Harry Ried by you, the public, forcing them to fold their hand.
So why is this important?
Great question. Up until this point the United States has been a nation created for the people, of the people, and by the people. If this bill goes forward, we will have switched our interpretation of the Constitution and become a nation for the corporation, of the corporation, and by the corporation. In other words, the needs of the corporation will from this point hence, take precedence over the needs of the citizen.
Some of us think that is just wrong. Corporations can’t vote. But with enough money and creative advertising, they can steer us to vote for who they want. But didn’t our ancestors fight so that we could be free and independent, and not beholden to some corporation?
Of course in a sense we are beholden to corporations most of our lives. Does one own your house? Your car? Does one cover your automobile accidents, your heath cost overruns? Does one supply your power, your fuel, our your paycheck? Stop and think for a moment just how much of your personal income is turned over to our corporations. Most if not all?
Now I don’t mine being beholden to a corporation if I am getting something that I want: a house, a car, a flat screen TV, especially if I couldn’t have any of those things without their help. But to have no recourse, and be forced to vote their way on issues, only because they know secrets of my past known to no one else, sends our country down the path to more corporatedom, than is good for the people. Essentially this bill will change Bedford Falls into Pottersville.
This bill tomorrow will help determine whether we hasten down the dark path of corporate domination, or whether we have tools at our disposal to check them and balance things when they step out of line. Will we be in charge, or will they?
This bill decides.
Right now, those corporations who chose to spy for the Bush administration are desperately trying to escape criminal prosecution. But if this precedent is allowed, any future corporations whether seeking past due amounts, or fishing to break your lease or steal your property, will always refer back to this bill to justify their further encroachment of our rights.
Little know fact: In Delaware three years ago, one jury actually took a stand, declaring by their verdict that even in the most justifiable of circumstances, even when used against the most odious, sickening elements of humanity, privacy issues were sacred and could not be touched.
There is precedent here. A jury of twelve random people has forced upon a court the decision that neither private individuals, nor corporations have any right whatsoever to release another’s private history. Tomorrow it is time our government itself become subject to the same laws as its citizens.
So while you go about your daily duties, somewhere far away, a handful of very motivated and angry Senators, are fighting for your’s and your grand children’s right to privacy. Whether they succeed or fail, their ripple in time will be felt perhaps as long as the next two hundred and thirty three years….