In December 1971, John Lennon sang at an Ann Arbor, Michigan, concert calling for the release of a man who had been given 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. The song he wrote for the occasion, "John Sinclair," was remarkably effective. Within days, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Sinclair released. What Lennon did not know at the time was that there were FBI informants in the audience taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song. ("Lacking Lennon's usual standards," his FBI file reports, and "Yoko can't even remain on key.")We laugh now at Nixon's paranoia. But remember what that paranoia led to.
Paul Bartlett hasn't sold a million records. I don't think he's ever recorded one. But he does share one thing with John Lennon. He's also the surveillance target of a paranoid government leader. Instead of Nixon it's Congressman John Kline.
Like Lennon, Paul's crime was taking stance in a very public way -- posting his opinion on the internet. Like Nixon, Kline has paid government employees taking notes, filing them away for who knows what future use. Unlike the above incident we didn't have to wait several decades to find out about it. Kline's staffers were cavalier enough to tell the media they were pulling down blog posts to track a constituent.
If Nixon's tactics had been publicly known in 1971, we could only hope the voters would have been smart enough to toss him out instead of waiting for him to resign in disgrace. In 2006 we already know about John Kline's tactics. We know he employs the racial slur spewing Mike Osskopp on his Congressional staff who encourages verbal intimidation of Rowley volunteers. We know that Kline distorts, flings mud and doesn't want to talk about the issues.
Unlike 1971, we know enough. We've had enough. We can do better. It's time to toss John Kline and his paid goons and paranoids out of Congress.