How much do you care that the administration insists it has the right to break the law? How much do you care that George Bush has spent your tax dollars flying around the country defending the indefensible? That Republicans at the SOTU address applauded Bush for declaring that he will order the NSA to spy on citizens whenever he wishes? That he has insinuated that his critics want to prevent any surveillance of terrorists?

How frightened are you that Bush has claimed monarchical powers? That he believes the Constitution is invalid during wartime? That he’s now assumed unto himself even the right to murder citizens without trial? How worried are you that, at the moment, a servile Congress worthy of Tacitus’ scorn is the only thing that stands between us and “Freedom is Slavery”?
How offended are you that the President claims that a 1978 law is archaic and inoperative? That Bush turns around and asserts he has followed the FISA law? That he’s even circumvented a Court set up as a retroactive rubber stamp for surveillance requests? That he’s kept his defiance of the law secret, and threatened those who exposed it? That he’s denigrated the authority of Congress to revise law?

Time to act, and no time to lose. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings today on the blatantly illegal use of the NSA by President Bush. Will the Senators stand up to Bush, or merely make a show of independence before finding a craven “compromise” that bargains away our liberties? Chairman Arlen Specter is notorious for his public theatrics which, almost always, lead nowhere.

I’d like to suggest that rather than waiting for the Senate to do the right thing, or for others to organize a campaign to make our thoughts known, that we begin (yet another) campaign immediately.

We absolutely need to ensure that all day Monday every single Senator’s office in Washington is flooded with demands for decisive action. To do that, we need to organize a campaign and spread the word to the rest of the netroots.

The numbers for the Congressional switchboard are 202-224-3121, 888-355-3588, or 888-818-6641. This search engine is useful for finding your Senators’ websites quickly.

In addition to contacting your own Senators, every one of us should contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do not ignore the GOP members; we’re very unlikely to get bipartisan support for holding the President accountable, but Republicans might be less aggressively obstructionist if they get a real taste of voter anger. Here are the members of the Committee, with their phone and fax numbers (in that order):

Chairman Arlen Specter 202-224-4254, 202-228-1229

Democrats on the Committee

Patrick Leahy 202-224-4242, 202-224-3479

Edward Kennedy 202-224-4543, 202-224-2417

Joseph Biden 202-224-5042, 202-224-0139

Herbert Kohl 202-224-5653, 202-224-9787

Dianne Feinstein 202-224-3841, 202-228-3954

Russ Feingold 202-224-5323, 202-224-2725

Charles Schumer 202-224-6542, 202-228-3027

Richard Durbin 202-224-2152, 202-228-0400

Republicans on the Committee

Orrin Hatch 202-224-5251, 202-224-6331

Charles Grassley 202-224-3744, 202-224-6020

Jon Kyl 202-224-4521, 202-224-2207

Mike Dewine 202-224-2315, 202-224-6519

Jeff Sessions 202-224-4124, 202-224-3149

Lindsey Graham 202-224-5972, 202-224-3808

John Cornyn 202-224-2934, 202-228-2856

Sam Brownback 202-224-6521, 202-228-1265

Tom Coburn 202-224-5754, 202-224-6008

If you’d like to make the greatest impact, call the DC office rather than (or in addition to) emailing/webmailing. Faxes get even more attention than calls.

The most impact you are likely to be able to make, in any case, will be if you also contact the Senator’s Chief of Staff. A few minutes research will usually turn up the name of the current CoS, and a few more minutes of googling plausible email addresses often will turn up the exact address. For example, the CoS for Arlen Specter is William Reynolds. His email address (which I’ve used in the past) ends in “”. You can quickly figure out what his full email address is from that information. This search engine at Project Vote Smart will take you to some handy pages that typically include a link to “Key Staff Contacts”. Under that link, you are likely to find the name of a Chief of Staff. I surmise that some of these CoS names are out of date now, but those would be the exception rather than the rule. Definitely a valuable tool for our purposes.

A short note to the Chief of Staff will have a considerable effect upon the advice he or she offers the Senator. Please take the trouble to search out the correct addresses, and then send a succinct, and polite, note expressing your views about the critical nature of this issue. You might even want to record in the comments the addresses that you’ve compiled.

Spread the word, and make some noise. If you’d like to see what the result of doing nothing could turn out to be, you might want to read the first Book or two of Tacitus’ Annals.

Meanwhile at Rome people plunged into slavery- consuls, senators, knights. The higher a man’s rank, the more eager his hypocrisy, and his looks the more carefully studied, so as neither to betray joy at the decease of one emperor nor sorrow at the rise of another, while he mingled delight and lamentations with his flattery….

Tiberius had the guard under arms, with all the other adjuncts of a court; soldiers attended him to the forum; soldiers went with him to the Senate House. He sent letters to the different armies, as though supreme power was now his, and showed hesitation only when he spoke in the Senate….It was subsequently understood that he assumed a wavering attitude, to test likewise the temper of the nobles. For he would twist a word or a look into a crime and treasure it up in his memory….

Messala Valerius further proposed that the oath of allegiance to Tiberius should be yearly renewed, and when Tiberius asked him whether it was at his bidding that he had brought forward this motion, he replied that he had proposed it spontaneously, and that in whatever concerned the State he would use only his own discretion, even at the risk of offending. This was the only style of adulation which yet remained.

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