Thursday, July 10, 2008

For an Easy, Unequivocal Message to Obama on FISA, Use Your Wallet

For an Easy, Unequivocal Message to Obama on FISA, Use Your Wallet

By Bob Ostertag
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Since I started writing about Senator Obama's reversal on the upcoming FISA vote, the number of comments to column shot up 1000%, and they are mostly supportive. It turns out that there are a lot of Obama supporters who feel as I do: we support Obama over McCain as much ever, but his about-face on FISA and the U.S. Constitution is a disaster that cannot be ignored.

It seems that we are right back to the dreary old position we so often find ourselves in: having our votes taken for granted as the nominee moves relentlessly to the right. Except this time it is even more infuriating because we had so much to do with the candidate getting far enough down the road that he can turn his back on us.

The Internet had a lot to do with this. What if we can find a way to use it to our advantage now? Is there a creative way to use the Internet to make our voice heard? I have a proposal:

Imagine how inspired you would have been if, instead of turning and running, Obama was interrupting his campaign schedule to fly to Washington and lead the filibuster against the FISA legislation. Take the money donate it instead to Russ Feingold, the senator who is leading the struggle. Then tell everyone you know to do the same.

This will be simple and effective:

* This won't be a vote against Obama. It will be a vote for the U.S. Constitution and for political courage.

* It won't help McCain, and it will strengthen the part of the Democratic Party that will do what Obama said he would do but now won't.

* We will be able to measure our success by the size of the bump in contributions to the Feingold campaign fund.

* It is a no risk deal. If no one does it except you and me, we have still given some money to the senator who is actually out front leading on this. And if lots of others do it to, we will be making a statement that might reverberate nationally.

Now, about Feingold. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) has led the fight against the FISA bill. He is still leading it. He has not backed down one inch. Here is his latest statement on the matter:

I hope that over the July 4th holiday, Senators will take a closer look at this deeply flawed legislation and understand how it threatens the civil liberties of the American people. It is possible to defend this country from terrorists while also protecting the rights and freedoms that define our nation.

Note how the clarity of this statements contrasts with the pathetic hemming and hawing of Senator Obama's most recent statement, which is here.

The leadership shown by Feingold was a big reason why Obama wanted to get next to him the week before the Wisconsin primary (back when Obama needed progressive votes). Here is Obama back then:

I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty. There is no reason why telephone companies should be given blanket immunity to cover violations of the rights of the American people -- we must reaffirm that no one in this country is above the law … It is time for this politics of fear to end. We are trying to protect the American people, not special interests like the telecommunications industry.

Obama won Wisconsin, and is now leaving Feingold out to dry. It is funny (sort of) that Obama still has this statement up on his Senate Web site, while his campaign site has his new statement in support of the legislation. Dude! That's embarrassing! You caved in so fast your own Web sites are arguing with each other! This is not what we had in mind when we gave you all that time and money, and votes.

For a contrast, watch the video on Senator Feingold's home page. Nope, he is not a great orator, but he gets right to the point and says what he means.

You can donate to Feingold's campaign fund here.

If you have a moment, come back to this column after you make your contribution and leave a comment stating how much money you gave.

OK. Let's see what happens. I am logging off to go put my $100 in the Feingold campaign. Join me if you can.

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