June 30, 2013

Here we are, about midway between our 5th birthday, June 26, and Independence Day, July 4. This post is overdue, as I have been reflecting on the anniversary just passed despite not getting over here to comment. But what to say?  I’m not feeling very optimistic.  There is not much to applaud in the fact that the president (once the candidate for whom we who cofounded this blog had so much hope) is “not going to scramble jets” to capture a patriot who released data to the United States public, not to an enemy; to know that Bradley Manning’s trial is going on right now, but that details are available only through a very few online sources* (Reader Supported News, FireDogLake, etc.), to see The New York Times call the woman whose coverage they are quoting not a journalist, but an activist, is distressing—no cause for celebration.

Then one hears an interview with the husband of Lynne Stewart, the New York lawyer and activist now in a Texas prison, approved by the Texas warden for compassionate release.  One learns that the paperwork for her release is now held up in Washington, and when her team asks for a more-legible copy on which to make their case, they are brushed off with “go through FoIA [Freedom of Information Act]”.  And one—if lucky—finds in the press (or in a blog’s responsive comment) a mention of James Clapper, who admittedly lied to Congress, on the record—where is Attorney General Eric Holder’s commitment to prosecution?

Finally, one reads speculation on how the press takes its cues from the federal government in their coverage of those who leak information (, which includes the following: “High government officials in Washington routinely leak classified information, as part of turf battles inside the government. . . . That such leaks are so routine, and are part of Washington’s way of doing business, is what makes the harsh espionage charges against people like Edward Snowden so hypocritical. He who is without leaks should cast the first stone.).”

So am I hopeful this year?  No, not very.  However, there are 2 recent posts here that are encouraging—a new group called Restore the 4th has taken up the mantle, with a couple of our own involved.  Let’s make a noise this 4th of July!  Let’s start some meaningful conversations—at the parades, at the picnics, before the fireworks go off, let’s talk about what the holiday really means, beyond  a day off from work midweek and sales at the malls.  Despite understandable criticisms of slavery and limited voter enfranchisement in the 1700s, I prefer to focus on the radical aspects of the events surrounding 4 July 1776, when this country began in revolution against the tyranny of taxation without representation, the “divine right” of kings, and for the “unalienable rights [of] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  It is time—well past time!—for our nation to remember and demand that our current government honor its founding principles.

*in contrast to the Watergate hearings in 1974, to which I sat glued every afternoon upon returning home from my college classes

Restore the Fourth! McPherson Sq Rally — July 4 at noon

June 30, 2013

The Rt4th folks in DC are putting together a great rally; find your local “Restore the 4th” chapter and show up for your rights this Independence Day!

Update: scarletsaint, an organizer for the DC rally, has some excellent thoughts on reddit on what to bring, what to wear, and what expect.

Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition is proud to endorse a major “Restore The Fourth” rally for our Fourth Amendment rights — one that will happen, appropriately enough, on July 4th.

  • Where: McPherson Square, downtown DC (map, Metro)
  • When: July 4th, noon-2pm
  • Speakers: NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar, Defending Dissent’s Sue Udry, Libertarian Party president Carla Howell, Free Press CEO Craig Aaron, Demand Progress’ Charlie Fuhrman, and many more.

The rally was triggered, of course, by the ongoing surveillance revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.  For an overview of those revelations, visit The Guardian’s site “The NSA Files” — a growing collection of articles by Glenn Greenwald, Spencer Ackerman, and others.  For a careful summary of the disturbing truths we’re learning about NSA surveillance, see Everything you wanted to Know About NSA Surveillance *but were afraid to…

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Happy Birthday Get FISA Right: Looking forward to what comes next!

June 26, 2013

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26, 2008, with posts by Mardi S on and Mike Stark on Open Left.  We were the first high-profile grassroots social network activism campaign in the US and got enough attention that Obama responded to our open letter.  Still, we and our allies lost that battle over the disastrous FISA Amendments Act.   And since then, it’s been more of the same.

Five more years of the NSA vacuuming up our phone and internet information.

Five more years without meaningful oversight.

Five more years of evasion and outright lies in Congressional testimony.

Five more years of secret court rulings.

Five more years of legal maneuvering to try to prevent EFF, ACLU, or anybody else from challenging the laws’ constitutionality.

Five more years of Patriot Act and FISA reauthorization.

Happy f—ing birthday.

But after the firestorm of publicity in response to the recent leaks, I’m increasingly optimistic that momentum is building for a change.

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Help publicize the July 4 rallies using Thunderclap!

June 26, 2013

RestoreThe4thMomentum continues to build for Restore the Fourth’s grassroots rallies on July 4th — check out Rand Paul’s video here! and their home on reddit have information about the rallies.  Whether or not you’re able to attend in person, you can help get the word out on Facebook and Twitter using Thunderclap.

Thunderclap is an interesting approach to getting visibility on social media.  People sign up in advance, and at a specified time the same tweet and status post goes out from everybody all at once.  Restore the Fourth’s Thunderclap has already attracted supporters like Fight for the Future with a lot of followers … the more the merrier!

So please, join in!

Get FISA Right’s purpose in 2013

June 24, 2013

We did this in 2008:

  1. Tackled an issue that was getting tiny MSM and not significant progressive coverage (right?) and dramatically amplified awareness of the issue.
  2. Sourced our members directly from Obama supporters. “We love you, but.” — this provocative identity was an attention-grabber.
  3. Had at least one very specific goal: pressure Obama to vote a certain way on a certain issue (corporate immunity for domestic spying lawsuits).
  4. Tackled a wonky issue.
  5. Used online/social media for organizing in a way that was novel at the time.

(What am I missing?)

Now i’ll address each of those as they apply today.

1: The issue is getting a ton of press. The progressive press is doing a pretty good job and even the MSM coverage isn’t horrendous. So i don’t think we have anything special to add here.

2: Is there anything we can do that’s analogous today? “We are ______ supporters, but.” There’s nothing I can think of, but maybe others have more ideas.

3: We have no specific goal to strive toward.

4: Here’s somewhere we can maybe add something. We are pretty wonky, and if we make it a goal then our wonkiness can expand.

5: Hopefully we can do a competent job with organizing via social media again. But… maybe there is something more we can add? Some other new media/method we can foray into?

In summary: if we are just wonky, I don’t know how much we can get done. If we can think of a provocative identity, this would significantly help focus us and get attention. If we can think of a way to be innovative with spreading information and organizing then that will help us further and will be fun. And maybe if we stick around for a while, we’ll figure out a specific goal to strive for.

What do you think? Who should we be, and what should we do? Discuss in the comments below!

Organizing call: Sunday 10 p.m. Eastern

June 22, 2013

Taking stock of where we are and looking at next steps.

Draft agenda here

If you’ve got suggested topics, please leave them as comments here!

How to celebrate Get FISA Right’s birthday?

June 20, 2013

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26 2008 with posts by Mardi S on and Mike Stark on OpenLeft … which means that Wednesday is our 5th birthday.  Hooray!

How to celebrate?

Please share your thoughts here!  Or, if you prefer, in our Google+ community, our Facebook group, or on Twitter.


PS: image credit: “Bill’s Birthday Cake”, by Cattoo, via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons