By Matthew Rothschild on August 01, 2007

Unbelievably, the Democratic leadership in Congress seems about to cave in to Bush and grant him, of all things, more power to spy on Americans.

This, even as Alberto Gonzales continues to dissemble about the spying that has already been going on.

But whenever Bush lights the scare fluid, the Democrats jump back in fear.

In his Saturday radio address, Bush said, “Congress needs to act immediately to pass this bill, so that our national security professionals can close intelligence gaps and provide critical warning time for our country.”

Bush also said that “FISA was passed nearly 30 years ago, and FISA has not kept up with new technological developments.”

He conveniently failed to note that FISA has been updated 50 times over those last 30 years, and 20 times since 9/11, as the ACLU notes.

Bush’s rhetoric is designed to obscure the fact that he wants the NSA now to have the right to scoop up all our international phone and e-mail communications, without a warrant or court oversight.

That was the essence of Bush’s illegal wiretapping scandal in the first place.

“After being caught trying to steal an inch, the administration now has the gall to ask for the whole mile,” says Anthony Romero, head of the ACLU.

Yet now the Democratic leaders appear ready to give such spying their retroactive blessing.

“Under pressure from President Bush, Democratic leaders in Congress are scrambling to pass legislation this week to expand the government’s electronic wiretapping powers,” reports James Risen in the August 1 edition of The New York Times. (Risen was one of two Times reporters who broke the original story of the NSA spying.)

Not all Democrats are going along, however. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin calls the bill “an egregious power grab.”

But that’s what Bush is best at—and Democratic leaders so complicit in.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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