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Patriot vs. PATRIOT
February 9, 2011 8:30 AM   Subscribe

"House Republicans...fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc." This vote also defies the intention of the Obama administration to extend portions of the USA PATRIOT Act to the year 2013. (Previously)

Does the Tea Party schism within the Republican party portend new common ground between liberals and conservatives? In the face of changing priorities among conservative voters, will traditional Republican congresspeople continue business as usual?
posted by overeducated_alligator (95 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I... what...

What is this feeling?

I'm happy about something the tea party did?
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:39 AM on February 9, 2011 [47 favorites]


What is this feeling?

I'm happy about something the tea party did?


I think they're moving to Phase 2 of their long-standing mission to make me extremely uncomfortable.
posted by schmod at 8:40 AM on February 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Even a broken clock every so often casts a vote for justice in the House.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:40 AM on February 9, 2011 [40 favorites]


Fuck me. The Tea Party actually did something they claimed to be in favor of.
posted by wierdo at 8:40 AM on February 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh crap I was trying for universe 616-A! Ths is 616-B! Gaaaah
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


If a Tea Party presidential candidate would do things like repeal the PATRIOT Act and close Guantanamo, I'd vote for them.

Oh God I'm only half-kidding.
posted by reductiondesign at 8:42 AM on February 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


Well GOOD I am grateful for the one thing we agree on!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:42 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


122 nays from Ds helped too.
posted by DU at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [36 favorites]


Some of the Tea Party members voted this way (enough to tip the balance), but others didn't.
You'll likely hear some media accounts saying that the "Tea Party" wing of the GOP was responsible for beating back the Patriot Act, but that's not quite true. Of the 26 Republican "nay" votes, only eight came from the massive freshman class, and many of those generally associated with the right-wing faction -- including Michele Bachmann and Allen West -- voted with the GOP leadership in support of the bill. Indeed, looking specifically at the 52 members of the House Tea Party Caucus, 44 of them voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
posted by maudlin at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [82 favorites]


Um, I don't think it's that cut and dry. Many tea Partiers still supported it (link).
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2011


"The Senate also has on its legislative calendar a bill by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would reauthorize the three measures through 2013 and a Republican proposal that would make them permanent." (source)

So, this small victory is not really cause for celebration.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a procedural hiccup. The PATRIOT Act will get re-upped soon enough.
posted by notyou at 8:44 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


So this is what schadenfreude at the failure of your own position feels like.

Weird.
posted by oddman at 8:44 AM on February 9, 2011


It will be interesting to see if the Tea Partry remains just a faction within the larger Republican party, forms a solid voting block or even goes it alone as their own party. Depends on how strong the Tea Party dicipline as a block is.

While the US traditionally thinks of itself as a two-party country, Congress may be experienceing the start of multi-party politics. Amusingly, minority parliments in the Westminster systems tend to be big spenders, because the block votes have to be bought. It will be interesting to see how that plays with the Tea Party faithful.
posted by bonehead at 8:44 AM on February 9, 2011


Um, I don't think it's that cut and dry. Many tea Partiers still supported it

But it's such a good story!
posted by Bummus at 8:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The vote was a blow to President Obama, who had asked Congress to extend the PATRIOT Act's surveillance authorities—which are due to expire February 28—for three years.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, it's a bit disingenuous to say the "tea party did" this. 12 of the 108 TP-endorsed candidates did the right thing whereas it's 122 of the 189 Dem reps that did.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/112/house/1/votes/26/
posted by DU at 8:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


When it's reintroduced under rules that require a simple majority it is expected to easily pass. This isn't even a hiccup for the destoryers of the 4th Amendment.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:46 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am encouraged by this, not just because, you know, good riddance to a bad act, but also because it shows what I was hoping would happen: That the Tea Party doesn't feel beholden to the larger Republican Party. The thing that makes Republicans a powerhouse is their discipline -- that they vote in lockstep with each other, on every issue, all the time. Well, that's done. The Republicans backed the Tea Party because they thought they would be useful idiots, but they have created a creature of its own will, and its monstrous will may not reflect their own.

As goes party discipline, so goes the Republican party. I imagine there is a creeping panic spreading through the beltway right now
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:46 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you demonstrably don't care about the Constitution, you don't even need a simple majority.
posted by DU at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2011


> It will be interesting to see if the Tea Partry remains just a faction within the larger Republican party, forms a solid voting block or even goes it alone as their own party.

I'm no Tea Party expert, but they just seem too caustic to exist on their own. They're more a parasite on the host Republican Party.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2011


I think Obama should use this power for good. All he has to do is show support for something and it is guaranteed to be killed on the floor. Maybe he should be for more military involvement in the world's trouble zones.
posted by JJ86 at 8:48 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


If every TP-endorsed representative voted for this bill, it still would have needed 48 Democrat votes in order to pass. 67 Dems voted for.

That means, without the Tea Party votes, the bill would have passed, because they had almost 20 more Democrat votes than needed.

I'm not surprised a majority of TP representatives voted for. I'm surprised such a large minority of Democrats did.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2011


This is a blow to the Republican leadership in the House, not the Obama administration. This was suppose to be a layup for them and is embarrassing.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it opposite day? Obama wants to extend the Patriot Act and Republicans say no?
posted by rmless at 8:53 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


maudlin wrote: "Some of the Tea Party members voted this way (enough to tip the balance), but others didn't."

Well fuck me twice. I believed an idiotic media narrative without verifying it.
posted by wierdo at 8:53 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Diane Feinstein is such a damn disgrace.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:57 AM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Means nothing. It was a special vote that required 2/3rds majority, and barely fell short. It'll pass under normal order easily.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't they know it has racism in it?
posted by Artw at 9:07 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Feinstein's introductory remarks (including the text of the Holder letter).
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:07 AM on February 9, 2011


I'm surprised such a large minority of Democrats did.

I'm not.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Isn't it "cut and dried?" I've been seeing "cut and dry" occurring more frequently very recently and I'm wondering if that's a new-ish error.

Also: some tea partiers are civil libertarians? Big deal. Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while.
posted by fixedgear at 9:17 AM on February 9, 2011


It seems to me that there are many liberals who would like to get the government off their backs too and if they stopped to listen to their enemies on the right they might find much in common.
posted by three blind mice at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


10% of Tea Party canidates voted against the Act, and it will be passed anyway with a significant number of Dem votes.

This isn't really a victory for freedom.
posted by Avenger at 9:23 AM on February 9, 2011


I like to think that it's those few conservatives in academia that opposed the Patriot Act.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it opposite day? Obama wants to extend the Patriot Act and Republicans say no?

Given the GOP's lock-step, literally mindless opposition to everything that Obama and the Democrats have proposed (including bits of the GOP's own agenda), reverse psychology might actually be a logical tactic to employ.

After all, it worked on the playground in elementary school....
posted by schmod at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to see if the Tea Partry remains just a faction within the larger Republican party, forms a solid voting block or even goes it alone as their own party. Depends on how strong the Tea Party dicipline as a block is.

Get real. The Tea Party has never existed as an independent entity and has always been a Republican faction. They could no longer become an independent party than your spleen could become an independent person.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Greenwald has the right take on it. The telling lines from the article:

"So confident was the House GOP leadership in commanding bipartisan support that they put the Patriot Act extension up for a vote using a fast-track procedure that prohibits debate and amendments and, in return, requires 2/3 approval....The proposed Patriot Act extension still commanded support from a significant majority of the House (277-148), and will easily pass once the GOP leadership brings up the bill for a vote again in a few weeks using the standard procedure that requires only majority approval."

posted by Xoebe at 9:30 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given the GOP's lock-step, literally mindless opposition to everything that Obama and the Democrats have proposed (including bits of the GOP's own agenda), reverse psychology might actually be a logical tactic to employ.

Greenwald:
In those rare cases when there has been real opposition on the Right, it has been grounded in a fear that they will be subjected to the abuses they oppose. Christian groups were petrified that Patriot Act powers would be used by federal officials to disrupt their religious liberty. Anger over TSA patdowns occurred on the Right only because good white Christian Americans (rather than dark American Muslims) were being inconvenienced. And the newfound right-wing concern for the Constitution stems from the belief that Obama (unlike Bush) will use the Executive Branch's ability to transgress Constitutional limits in a way that harms conservatives. It's very self-interested -- and unprincipled -- advocacy: they suddenly discover their distrust of government power and belief in liberty only when they perceive that their own interests are endangered. That's better than never discovering it -- indeed, the Democrats' failure to meaningfully oppose Bush's seizure of radical power, even if only on self-interested grounds, will redound to their eternal shame -- but such erratic interest in civil liberties makes for a very unreliable and ultimately counter-productive alliance.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:32 AM on February 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well now, this doesn't mean nothing. This failed to pass under the streamlined rule meant for non-controversial legislation. The fact that they'll have to pass this under regular rules means that renewing the PATRIOT Act is now in a formal sense controversial, at least in the House. That seems like a step in the right rhetorical direction.
posted by nicwolff at 9:32 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think they're moving to Phase 2 of their long-standing mission to make me extremely uncomfortable.

Don't let on I told you, but Phase 6 involves not-quite touching you with a finger covered with melted Reese's Cups while staring intently at your left nostril and making a not-quite-audible nasal "EEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHNNNNN" sound.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well now, this doesn't mean nothing. This failed to pass under the streamlined rule meant for non-controversial legislation. The fact that they'll have to pass this under regular rules means that renewing the PATRIOT Act is now in a formal sense controversial, at least in the House. That seems like a step in the right rhetorical direction.

So some members in purple districts got to go on record with token opposition, but the oppression will continue unabated, just like our bipartisan rulers agreed upon. Like always, nothing ever changes without being preapproved by the people with the real power. And that isn't the voters nor the stooges in Congress.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:39 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't let on I told you, but Phase 6 involves not-quite touching you with a finger covered with melted Reese's Cups while staring intently at your left nostril and making a not-quite-audible nasal "EEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHNNNNN" sound.
posted by Mr. Bad Example


Eponysterical
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you had reviewed your tea party magazine you would have known what was up. tsk tsk.
posted by cashman at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2011


Also, please, STOP SAYING THAT THIS IS SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE TEA PARTY. 15% of them voted against the PATRIOT ACT extension. 85% were for it. That is not a good thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:52 AM on February 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


> Also, please, STOP SAYING THAT THIS IS SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE TEA PARTY.

The good thing here is that the Tea Party itself seems to befar to fractious to be able to settle into a proper voting bloc.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


be far
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2011


too
posted by hippybear at 9:56 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shh!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


And 71 Democrats voted for this piece of shit too.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:58 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This befars us all, it does. And yeah, like a small minority of these knuckleheads voted based on their professed principles. I'm actually more heartened by the democratic yahoos mostly not going for renewal.
posted by Mister_A at 10:07 AM on February 9, 2011


Yeah, based on back of the envolope calculations, tea party endorsees, Republicans, and Freshman republicans all voted for/against he bill in roughly 90%/10% margins, so there appears to be no story here.
posted by Jahaza at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2011


Only a piece of shit legislator would vote for a three year extension to that piece of shit legislation. And Obama… christ, man. Did they threaten to kill Bo or something?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2011


Get real. The Tea Party has never existed as an independent entity and has always been a Republican faction. They could no longer become an independent party than your spleen could become an independent person.

Just because the ground is solid now, that's no assurance that an earthquake isn't coming. In Canada, we had a 120-year old party go from a majority to two seats in a single election because of a new party (Reform) on the right that's similar both idologically and in substative demands to the TP folks. If the TP can solidify behind a strong leader, i.e. not a flake like Sarah Palin or Ross Perot, you may be surprised at what happens.
posted by bonehead at 10:20 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Patriot Act is like a kazoo, in that it's very fun to use, but not so much fun to be around when somebody else is using it.

Hence, the reason it's so hard to get Obama to give it up, even though he gave the impression at times he would get rid of it.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party are voting for it, because they want to be able to play the kazoo when they're president.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:32 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


because they want to be able to play the kazoo when they're president

As long as they wear a threadbare hat, and loudly bellow 'change places' at irregular intervals, that could be okay. Its up to yon yankees to decide who's the mouse, and who's the march hare.

Its up to the rest of us to decide who's truly mad. NB- It's not me, I have papers.
posted by LD Feral at 10:39 AM on February 9, 2011


Sometimes you eat befar, sometimes it eats you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:44 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


like zen without napkins
posted by clavdivs at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2011


wow, the tea party is going to support the democrats, you folks must be confused.
posted by clavdivs at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2011


> like zen without napkins

What is the sound of one hand wiping? But if you truly are a zen eater you don't need a napkin because your movements are purposeful and precise.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the Patriot Act is a thing that doesn't fit neatly on the left-right spectrum. It's more an issue of personal liberty vs. personal security, from the perspective of a citizen. A lot of people are perfectly happy to give up some liberty for more national security, but those who swing more libertarian are not.

For the government, it's probably more about letting out the seams in the Bill of Rights to be able to do things that would previously be done in secret with the potential of exploding in scandal, without causing an uproar. Hence the euphemistic name.

I think if we want to get Tea Partiers legitimately against this (not just lip service for liberty, but actually voting for it), we should bring back that whole "right wing extremist" meme, where they heard that the government would be monitoring far-right groups. Naturally, the Tea Party extrapolated this to mean that any little conservative club would be infiltrated and subverted by NSA agents, rather than just a measure to make sure unhinged "militas" go after police officers and congresspeople. Hence the blog posts, tweets, and youtube videos of TPers bragging "I AM A RIGHT WING EXTREMIST! TAKE THAT, HILLARY!"

I mean, it'd be pretty simple. Make a bunch of banner ads saying "Do you want Obama reading your emails?" and choose keywords specific to rightwing blogs and forums. Link it to a blog refering to the patriot act not by name but by number, and explain how the government can now look into people's personal information without a warrant.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


The vote was a blow to President Obama, who had asked Congress to extend the PATRIOT Act's surveillance authorities—which are due to expire February 28—for three years.

Holy crap! I just figured it out! All we need to do is frame the debate in a way that puts the tea party's actions at odds with what Obama wants:

"Obama opposes single payer health care, he completely gutted it out of his obamacare plan because he hates and fears it."

*waits*
posted by quin at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


UI for one am fully indifferent since the Patriot Act gang did away with the cute color coding--a rainbow each week for us to worry over! Now, alas, gone.

ps: If you are so charmed by the Dems and the president, ask then why when the number of those protesting keeps growing in Cairo, and the Egyptian president refuses to budge, our Pentagon continues to ship military goodies to Egypt. after all, if that stopped the Egyptian army would suddenly realize which side better serves self interest.
posted by Postroad at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The vote was a blow to President Obama, who had asked Congress to extend the PATRIOT Act's surveillance authorities—which are due to expire February 28—for three years.

I have a theory about that.

My suspicion is that, on one of his first few days in office, some of the people in the intelligence community put together a presentation for Mr. Obama involving showing him evidence of terrorist plots foiled due to evidence obtained by the PATRIOT act. Something large-scale that they kept entirely hush-hush, something involving possibly massive loss of life. It's about the only explanation I can come up with for Obama's complete turnaround on his stance towards the state's overreaching intelligence-gathering powers.

Other, of course, than the idea that he just said those things to get into office, which doesn't seem quite in line with Obama's behavior in other areas, although it is true that a lot of his administration has been disappointing.
posted by JHarris at 11:41 AM on February 9, 2011


Naturally, the Tea Party extrapolated this to mean that any little conservative club would be infiltrated and subverted by NSA agents, rather than just a measure to make sure unhinged "militas" go after police officers and congresspeople.

Naturally, since that's how the US has always tended to respond to the threats posed by small leftist organizations in the US. Not that they could be bothered to stick up for them.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other, of course, than the idea that he just said those things to get into office,

I've thought about this quite a bit and I'm betting it's somewhere in the middle. Obama probably meant exactly what he said when he was campaigning, but once he actually had access to the levers of power that things like the Patriot act offer, he was much less willing to let them go.

This just seems to be the way it is, once the executive has taken a power, it won't give it up because not having it would make the job seem so much more difficult.
posted by quin at 11:47 AM on February 9, 2011


For all of those who are saying this is a non-story, consider the way that the TSA pat-down story got rolling. We were talking about it like mad then the news brokers wanted us to. If we're lucky the news brokers will want to put the Patriot Act into the limelight and that might give cover for lots of congresscirtters to vote against it.
posted by charred husk at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2011


JHarris: " My suspicion is that, on one of his first few days in office, some of the people in the intelligence community put together a presentation for Mr. Obama involving showing him evidence of terrorist plots foiled due to evidence obtained by the PATRIOT act. Something large-scale that they kept entirely hush-hush, something involving possibly massive loss of life. It's about the only explanation I can come up with for Obama's complete turnaround on his stance towards the state's overreaching intelligence-gathering powers."

This makes a lot of sense to me. We rarely hear about failed terrorism attempts unless they somehow make the news. I posted something yesterday that described two assassination attempts (one of GWB and another of Bill Clinton) I'd never heard of.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on February 9, 2011


My suspicion is...

So the two possibilities you've identified are:

1) The Cheney administration foiled a massive terrorist plot with information obtained through the PATRIOT Act - but did not tell anyone or have it leak out.

or

2) Obama misrepresented his policy beliefs to get elected.

Does one of these possibilities seem more likely to you than the other?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2011


As much as I hate to say it, I don't recall ever having heard Obama argue for a repeal of the Patriot Act. He argued that it should be reformed to put more checks in place on the new authorities. I didn't agree with him on that during the campaign, and I don't know, but I was never under the impression he pledged to repeal the PA entirely. I don't like the act either, but it's obviously very popular in Washington, so there's still a lot of minds that need to be changed before letting it lapse gets any real traction. Or who knows? Maybe it'll happen now. That would be great.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:07 PM on February 9, 2011


What is the sound of one hand wiping?

In this context I think it is more like what is the sound of one hand fapping.
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on February 9, 2011


saulgoodman: "As much as I hate to say it, I don't recall ever having heard Obama argue for a repeal of the Patriot Act. He argued that it should be reformed to put more checks in place on the new authorities. "

Exactly.

Revise the Patriot Act to increase oversight on government surveillance: "As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision."

Restrict warrantless wiretaps: "Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration's initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law."
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight...

Unfortunately, the WaPo article didn't mention how this robust oversight would have been instituted under the bill supported by the President.

It only mentioned how the administration issued a statement saying it "would strongly prefer" a 3 year extension of the existing practices such as searching library records and surveillance of targets not connected to terrorist groups - so that law enforcement agencies would have "the necessary certainty and predictability".

Does anyone have those oversight details?

Or is Politifact still scoring this one as "In Progress"?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:38 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clearly, revisit meant: renew forever.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:43 PM on February 9, 2011


Out of curiosity, does anyone know how this will affect the combat meth act (2005)? It was a patriot act provision.
posted by scunning at 12:51 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Terror Threat 'Most Heightened' Since 9/11, Napolitano Says

"One of the most striking elements of today's threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens," Napolitano said, referring to so-called homegrown terrorists fueled by the Internet and connections with operatives overseas."

"rut-roh"
posted by clavdivs at 12:54 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese: " Or is Politifact still scoring this one as "In Progress"?"

If you had clicked through to the links I provided, you'd have seen that the Politifact site tags both of them as "Stalled." It also links to his campaign statement from 2008, which says in part:
Barack Obama would restore America’s standing, reputation and authority in the world. As president, Obama will:

• Revise the PATRIOT Act. Barack Obama believes that we must provide law enforcement the tools it needs to investigate, disrupt, and capture terrorists, but he also believes we need real oversight to avoid jeopardizing the rights and ideals of all Americans. There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the current administration has abused the powers given to it by the PATRIOT Act. A March 2007 Justice Department audit found the FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the PATRIOT Act to secretly obtain personal information about American citizens. As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.

• Eliminate Warrantless Wiretaps. Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration’s initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law.

posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2011


Also: The Obameter Scorecard
* Promise Kept: 134
* Compromise: 41
* Promise Broken: 38
* Stalled: 72
* In the Works: 219
* Not yet rated: 2
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on February 9, 2011


I would really like to ask those House Republicans why they hate America.
posted by chairface at 1:01 PM on February 9, 2011


that is not a bad record.
I do not think the President has a choice that satisfys everyone. Some ugly rumors and plots are looming as we type, it is not just chatter. We need these tools to fight who may want to harm the U.S.
posted by clavdivs at 1:07 PM on February 9, 2011


If you had clicked through to the links I provided, you'd have seen that the Politifact site tags both of them as "Stalled."

And when the renewal passes later with a simple majority vote - again with Obama's approval - will it be changed to "Broken"?

They really need a new category: "Never Meant It In The First Place".
posted by Joe Beese at 1:11 PM on February 9, 2011


PATRIOT act

Original vote in House: Yeas and Nays: 337 - 79, 1 Present.
Original vote in Senate: only Russ Feingold opposed it.

We are making progress.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:22 PM on February 9, 2011


Joe Beese: " And when the renewal passes later with a simple majority vote - again with Obama's approval - will it be changed to "Broken"?"

Last time the White House renewed with no changes, the site noted it as "In Progress." They could say, "Compromise," or "Promise Broken" depending on their judgment.

They really need a new category: "Never Meant It In The First Place".

You would prefer he followed the George W. Bush model? Get the bill passed then yank its funding, as he did with No Child Left Behind and countless others?

Being a candidate and being the person sitting behind the Oval Office desk are two entirely different things. All Presidents change their opinions over time, based on (hopefully) their expanding, evolving perspectives. As a candidate, Ronald Reagan promised to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy. He also swore he'd work with Congress to balance the budget. He got into office and found none of those things were possible. How many campaign promises did George W. Bush make to run up the deficit to historic numbers?
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on February 9, 2011


We are making progress.

I've said it here before. Obama deserves some credit for his accomplishments and they are myriad but to pretend that they somehow negate the expansion of Bush era Terror War policies, is really a misreading of Obama's promises and rhetoric. The ACLU thought so back in July. I don't think we'll move past this murderous period of our history, in the United States. by basking in our leaders' accomplishments and ignoring their failings. Obama made it clear he was not behnd Bush era policies, concerning some of the provisions contained in the PATRIOT Act, and I don't think we should let him off the hook just because he got health insurance companies to promise not to let children die.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:28 PM on February 9, 2011


IvoShandor, since you quoted from my comment, I assume you're talking to me, at least in part. I didn't attribute the progress to Obama at all. I'm just saying that from nearly lockstep approval of that travesty of civil rights, we how have significant opposition in at least one house of Congress. That's progress. It probably has nothing to do with Obama.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2011


You would prefer he followed the George W. Bush model?

As far as the subject of this post is concerned, he already has.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2011


since you quoted from my comment, I assume you're talking to me, at least in part.

And I think, I agreed with you, we are making progress (and I'm student of history, I understand this deeply), which is why I quoted you as my thought process began. But again, and for emphasis, progress does not mean we can let egregious failings go by the wayside.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2011


Agreed, IvoShandor, agreed.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2011


I have to say, the only reason I feel like supporting Obama these days is because I really don't want to support Sarah Palin et al.

And I like to think "Maybe he's better than McCain would have been," but I get the feeling McCain might actually have been more liberal due to a more motivated liberal opposition and less infighting from the Republicans, since they seem to have better party unity. I find it hard to believe he would be worse than Bush.

Then again, 2008 was a while ago. But I do seem to remember McCain's plans being somewhat more liberal than the current GOP lineup.

I'm mainly just holding out hope that Obama's avoiding anything too controversial and waiting for a second term, but I really don't think that's a given at all, and he's got a pretty moderate record and is pretty much center-right these days after compromises. The polls don't seem to point towards a clear re-election or not, and they can change a lot over a year and a half or so.

In short, this country wouldn't know a liberal president if he nationalized them in the face.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:47 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama signs bill expanding health services for veterans
Obama signs improvements to Post-9/11 GI Bill

Just Plain Nuts

posted by clavdivs at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Obama has made some progress on Human rights but the matters of reigning in the executive power grab and mess of the Department of Homeland Securoty exlempified by the USA PATRIOT act he has not taken any leadership and thus is entitled to no credit. As many of you know from prior threads I'm a strong supporter of the President and generally would defend him as markedly differed from Bush. This area though he gets a very low grade. I also am a pragmatist. Realistically this is the first time this act has secured less than a 2/3 majority. That means congress could enact this over his veto. The political costs of opposing this bill are such that it would be pretty difficult for a sitting president to do something. At the same time that doesn't mean I'm happy about it and I'd like to see some kind of alternative offered by the administration. Even though Beck and others would rail against it as a new imposition on American freedoms and also making us less safe.
posted by humanfont at 2:34 PM on February 9, 2011


Also, please, STOP SAYING THAT THIS IS SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE TEA PARTY. 15% of them voted against the PATRIOT ACT extension. 85% were for it.

Not only that but the 15% who voted against it were probably just faking and can simply change their minds next time, right? From the first link:
The Republicans who control the House made plans to bring the measure back for a quick vote later this month under normal rules, requiring only a simple majority for passage.
So, they'll be able to get both "I'm not just a Republican stooge!" cred and "I support liberty! I voted against the Patriot Act extension!" cred while actually being a Republican stooge and later getting the "I'm tough on security! I voted in favor of the (some euphemism for the Patriot Act that doesn't sound as scary)!" cred by voting for the extension later on. As could any Democrats who did the same, obviously.
posted by XMLicious at 10:22 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


New York Times: House Republicans Battle Turmoil in Their Ranks -- "Under pressure to make deeper spending cuts and blindsided by floor defeats, Republican leaders are learning the limits of their power over their majority."

NPR: Tea Party-Backed Freshmen Stir Things Up In House -- "In recent days, GOP leaders seem to be having trouble running the House floor and keeping their own members united. They've yanked a bill and lost two votes. The problem? Largely it's the upstart freshmen who came ready to fight — even with their own party leaders."
posted by ericb at 7:25 AM on February 10, 2011


They're stealing Democrat tactics!
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on February 10, 2011


The 24-Hour Libertarian Revolt: The Tea Party didn't derail a vote on the Patriot Act.
posted by homunculus at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2011


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