We gave up privacy years ago

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The always emotional Arthur Sibler wants us to keep the impending FISA “compromise” law in perspective. He’s not saying we should support the Democrats and Obama despite their betrayal (or cowardice), because they are the lesser of two evils. What he is saying is that we ceded the right to privacy long ago:

I do not find the least bit of enjoyment in breaking the news to you, but I suppose someone must. In terms of liberty and freedom, the right to be left alone is the most precious value of all. Regardless of what happens with FISA, and even if FISA were abolished altogether, you lost that right decades ago.

Although that’s a severely cynical assessment, it’s hard to argue with the case he makes. But there is a bright side, according to Sibler, our government is too incompetent to take advantage of the powers it already has long held:

I further submit to you that the only reason you appear to have some precious remnants of freedom left, and the only reason you remain at liberty, is that the government hasn’t comprehensively focused on all the powers it already possesses and hasn’t come anywhere close to utilizing them fully and consistently. This is the moment you should fall to your knees and thank whatever gods may be for the miraculous, close to perfect incompetence of the pathetically ineffectual blockheads in Washington.

So instead of worrying about FISA, Sibler says we need to keep our eyes on a larger danger still very much on the horizon. A war with Iran. He thinks campaigns focused on FISA, like the one championed by Glenn Greenwald, are a waste of resources. Sibler wonders why the lefties aren’t as fervently interested in preventing a new war with Iran.

I think I have an answer for him. The FISA fight, while difficult, seemed like a fight that was at least remotely winnable. There were politicians like Feingold and Dodd that were willing to speak and fight passionately on our behalf. More importantly, Bush seemed to need Congress to make these concessions.

On the other hand, I think that if Bush wants to start a war with Iran, he won’t even bother to go to Congress first (Not that I don’t think they would give him everything he wants again). And there is no way in hell that Congress would ever be able to pass a law preempting a Bush ordered attack on Iran. To be honest, I’m not even sure I would support a law like that.

So what is there to do at this point?

Flickr photo by unk4jazz

6 Comments

  1. Ian

    I think I will continue to be incensed about both issues. The notion that I have to pick one thing to be pissed about is stupid. I assure you my list of things goes beyond just these two issues 😉

  2. Ian

    Oh, and also, Bush won’t start a war with Iran. He doesn’t have the time to drum up public and possibly international support for it (which he would need). Remember, he is only here for about 6 months more. If you really want to avoid war with Iran, I would vote for Obama, or at least not vote for McCain.

  3. Chris

    Just this weekend Bill Kristol said that Bush might attack Iran before he leaves office if it’s clear that Obama would win. Not that I put any stock into what Kristol has to say…
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/22/kristol-bush-iran/

  4. Ian

    Part of me feels like if Bush did that, we would be seeing Congress going after his ass like there is no tomorrow. I know that Congress has bowed to Bush’s wishes so far, but the Iraq War is terribly unpopular. It has already led to many Republican seats going to the Democrats. Congress will look out for their own necks before they let Bush do this.

    Also, don’t forget that the economy isn’t doing amazingly well right now and the government cannot afford to open a third front.

  5. Chris

    The government can’t afford what it’s doing right now. National politics is devoid of any concern over cost.

  6. Ian

    I guess, but that alone isn’t proof it will happen, or even a hinting that it might. I mean, Bush has done a lot of bad stuff and so has Congress, but that doesn’t mean you can just extrapolate it however you wish. I could probably come up with a few just as “seemingly” likely things for you to be worried about if you want.

    Kristol is the editor of a conservative magazine and a regular op-ed writer. He isn’t exactly on Bush’s cabinet, and like many of the commenters in the link you put point out, the guy is probably just fearmongering.