The typically misnomered U.S.Protect America Act and telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping are some of the issues here.
Senator Chris Dodd has said the following:
For several months now, I've listened to the building frustration over this immunity and this administration's campaign of lawlessness. I've seen it in person, in mail, online — the passion and eloquence of citizens who are just fed up. They've inspired me more than they know.
There is never any shortage of super-sophisticated cynics to come along and say how none of this matters, how it's so pitifully naive to think that any difference can ever be made, how the System is so Corrupted and the Deck So Stacked Against Us that everything is doomed and defeat is the inevitable option. And there is an element of truth to the premises of that defeatist mindset. The principal reason blogs exist, after all, is precisely because all other institutions intended to provide some adversarial check on what our government does — the establishment media, the "opposition party," the Congress — typically do the opposite: they serve as enablers of it rather than checks on it. That's all true enough.
But what incidents such as this one conclusively demonstrate is that it is always possible, if enough citizen intensity is mustered and the right strategy is formulated, for citizens to disrupt and defeat the best-laid plans of our corrupt political establishment. There's a comfort and temptation in denying that truth. Those who insist that defeat is inevitable and All is Lost are relieved of the burdensome task of trying. But defeat occurs because the right strategy isn't found, not because it is inevitable. ("More disruptions to the Cheney/Rockefeller plan," by Glenn Greenwald. Salon. Saturday January 26, 2008.)
The real truth is that the house is doomed to fall. It is inherently divided. Nothing can join the irreconcilable. There are two diametrically opposed visions within the house. The house is not united. It can never be united. The only thing that can happen is that everyone of the selfish vision be separated away where he or she cannot any longer harm everyone else of the unselfish vision. The idea of fighting within the doomed system is what is wrong. We aren't saying though "everything is doomed and defeat is the inevitable" for the unselfish, quite the contrary. The selfish are doomed and their defeat is inevitable. This is true, because the inevitable outcome of continued enlightenment and revelation (being one and the same) is unselfishness. Unselfishness is going to become the guiding principle of all future humanity in spite of the throwbacks who fight against this inevitability. Don't go down on their ship.
You might want to read, "PAA & FISA — civil liberties boiling in alphabet soup," by Carol Gee. The Reaction. October 17, 2007.
The New York Times wrote the following:
The Senate (reportedly still under Democratic control) seems determined to help President Bush violate Americans' civil liberties and undermine the constitutional separation of powers. Majority Leader Harry Reid is supporting White House-backed legislation that would expand the administration's ability to spy on Americans without court supervision and ensure that the country never learns the full extent of Mr. Bush's illegal wiretapping program.
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which Mr. Bush decided to ignore after 9/11 — requires a warrant to intercept telephone calls and e-mail messages between people in the United States and people abroad.
...Mr. Bush wants to weaken FISA as much as he can. And the Senate leadership has been only too happy to oblige.
[The] aim is to make sure the full story of the illegal wiretapping never comes out in court.
...Mr. Bush has always had the authority to order emergency wiretaps — and get court approval after the fact. That has never been the problem with FISA.
...Mr. Bush's version of this law does not make intelligence-gathering more robust. Opponents like Senators Christopher Dodd and Patrick Leahy want to spy on Al Qaeda, too. They're just not willing to do it in a way that undermines the very democracy that the spies, Congress and the president are supposed to be protecting. (Editorial: "The FISA Follies, Redux." Saturday, January 26, 2008.)
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)