Good dance moves for two right feet
July 9, 2008 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Obama votes to grant telecom companies immunity for illegal wiretapping and "refines" his stance against Iraq to consider indefinite, undefined or vaguely defined occupation. One remarks about Obama's recent move to the right with a new campaign logo. Obama denies any change in policy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (356 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is why I don't feel obligated to follow the law. Like the telecom companies and the president, I figure at some point my lawbreaking will be pardoned, so there's a reasonable chance that my illegal activities aren't actually illegal, they just haven't been retroactively legalized yet.

I'm talking about jaywalking, of course.
posted by mullingitover at 4:49 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is the honeymoon over yet?
posted by Krrrlson at 4:50 PM on July 9, 2008


At least Mefites can find something to be happy about in your links.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:53 PM on July 9, 2008


He's still better than McCain.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:54 PM on July 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


I'm an Obama supporter, and I saw this one coming. I feel bad about it, but I'd still take one over the other.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:55 PM on July 9, 2008


*yawn*
posted by empath at 4:56 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"...The Democrats are afraid of looking weak on national security."

DEMOCRATS WEAK ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, FREEDOM.
posted by carsonb at 5:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [13 favorites]


He's still better than McCain.

Like Bush is better than Saddam. Hooray for the soft bigotry of low expectations in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [17 favorites]


If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed. That's the nature of our democracy. Sad as this vote is, it may well be the right decision. It is less important to immediately punish guilty acts of the past, than to ensure better acts in the future. Think of South Africa's "Truth and Reconciliation": far from justice, but faciliating something far better than business as usual.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:05 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


and "refines" his stance against Iraq to consider indefinite, undefined or vaguely defined occupation.

What the hell is this bullshit? Obama's plan has always been to withdraw most of the troupes within 16 months, and "be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." He has always said he would be flexible about how exactly that would happen. A couple days ago, he used the word "refine" his plans after consulting with generals and the McCain campaign tried to get as much leverage as they could out of a single word.

"refine" is a word that is sometimes used by politicians as a euphemism to mean "abandon" or "completely change" but there is no indication that that's what he meant here.

And why would he? The war is vastly unpopular with the American people, there is no reason to become a war supporter in a general election now.

All that's happening is the McCain campaign, aided by stenographers in the press doing everything they can to blur his current position, the same way Hillary Clinton tried to blur his historical position on the war during the primary.

Obama Opposed the war from the beginning, and there is zero evidence that he wants to continue it after being elected.

The FISA cave, on the other hand, it total bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 5:08 PM on July 9, 2008 [31 favorites]


I understand the Iraq timeline; his stance is he'll listen to the commanders on the ground and do what they say, which may change as conditions on the ground change.

The FISA cave-in, on the other hand, makes me sick. Retroactive immunity for the telecoms is unconstitutional, and the posturing about national security is absurd. The warantless wiretapping was going on before 911.
posted by wmeredith at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2008


I am sad about the FISA vote. But if you are selling the "Obama is trying to back off from ending the Iraq war" line you are buying McCain's story hook, line, and sinker. What Obama is saying (and he's right) is he can't pull the troops out in one day and expect it to be anything but a disaster. What he can do is start the process of bringing the troops home on day one. Is that really surprising? Did you expect Obama to bring all the troops home by the end of January 2009?

On preview, what delmoi said.
posted by aspo at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as far as I can tell there's nothing to the Iraq story. It fills column inches.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2008


If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed. That's the nature of our democracy.

I doubt it. I mean, one could argue that the terrorist attack occurred because of the presidents refusal to sign the bill without immunity for the telecom companies. In essence, putting the financial safety of the telecom companies ahead of the saftey of the American people. Plus, at this point I think a lot of people would just blame bush for the attack, and many people view McCain as the continuation of Bush style government.
posted by delmoi at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Mr. Hicks were with us, he'd be mocking our earnest faith and forgiving attitude toward the puppet on the left.

.
posted by mullingitover at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2008 [13 favorites]


The attacks over Obama's "refining" remark are such bullshit:
At which point he returned to Iraq, an issue where he has wavered very little from the stance he took many months ago. He favors a phased-in 16-month withdrawal. The McCain campaign has labored hard to suggest that he is inconsistent on this issue.
Voting for the FISA bill, on the other hand, is inexcusable.
posted by Galvatron at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2008


If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed. That's the nature of our democracy. Sad as this vote is, it may well be the right decision.

That's a brilliant defense because it would work in any situation!

It is less important to immediately punish guilty acts of the past, than to ensure better acts in the future. Think of South Africa's "Truth and Reconciliation": far from justice, but faciliating something far better than business as usual.

I don't see the analogy - could you talk about that a little more?
posted by moxiedoll at 5:13 PM on July 9, 2008


I unsubscribed from the donor emails just today, and this issue is what I put in the reason box. He is a politician and I should have known better.

On the other hand, I was starting to enjoy all those condolence cards my friends were sending addressed to my cynicism.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:14 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I heard one rightwing pundit say that for Obama to move to the center is simply what all candidates do once they get the nod. What annoyed himn was that Obama denies any shift. That he said, is just plain nonsense.
posted by Postroad at 5:14 PM on July 9, 2008


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 writes "If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed."

Regardless of his action on this bill, he will be destroyed if there's a terrorist attack. That's obvious on its face. McCain's campain peeps have openly admitted that a terrorist attack would be a boon to their campaign. Heck, the only reason we don't have President Kerry right now is because of bin Laden's '04 pre-election video. Terrorists and politicians who pander to those who fear them are symbiotic. One need only look as far as Israel to see this.
posted by mullingitover at 5:16 PM on July 9, 2008


Retroactive immunity for the telecoms is unconstitutional, and the posturing about national security is absurd.

I don't think it's unconstitutional. It would be unconstitutional to retroactively make them liable (although I wonder, is it constitutional to remove retroactive immunity later on?)

It does seriously piss me off. The democrats insistence on letting bush off the hook for all the illegal bullshit his government pulled during his presidency is disgusting, and hard to understand. You always hear about how the Impeachment of Clinton was unpopular, but the Impeachment of Nixon was not. The Bush situation would clearly be much more similar to Nixon then Clinton.

As bad as the retroactive telecom thing was, it pales in comparison to the retroactive immunity granted to those who participated in torture, a law that passed right before the 2006 election (hey, right before another election, what a coincidence!) At least Obama was opposed to that.
posted by delmoi at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in

That is some of the dumbest no-meaning blatant political bullshitting I have ever heard. I'm just glad race and sex are out of the way so that we can see him and his motto of "change" as the mere marketing of yet another convictionless douchebag.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:21 PM on July 9, 2008


You know, a lot of people here claim that telecom immunity is a deadly sin that will kill us all, and mostly I respect the people making the claim, enough so that I kind of want to know, without being attacked for asking, why it's such a big deal. It keeps coming up, so I'm going to take this opportunity to ask: why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:25 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


How did McCain vote?

Sometimes in legislative business you have to vote for imperfect legislation because it's the best that you can get. It was important that a version of this bill pass soon, and the president who is not up for reelection can easily play this game.

There are lots of good faith people who think that if the dept. of Justice demands cooperation in the context of national security after a large attack, complying shouldn't put you in danger; it should people the administration in danger.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:28 PM on July 9, 2008


wmeredith: "The FISA cave-in, on the other hand, makes me sick. Retroactive immunity for the telecoms is unconstitutional, and the posturing about national security is absurd. The warantless wiretapping was going on before 911."

I'm no fan of immunity, either, but I'm not getting the "unconstitutional" argument as it applies to act of granting immunity. I've heard people mention the "Congress shall make no ex post facto law" thing, but I was under the impression that it only forbade retroactive punishment, not legalization.

Or is it just that legalizing an unconstitutional act is unconstitutional?
posted by Rhaomi at 5:29 PM on July 9, 2008


The *ENTIRE* point of the executive branch is to enforce the laws of this nation.

In one vote, he showed that he has no regard for that duty.

The *ENTIRE* point of Obama's campaign was that he was different.

In one vote, he showed that this was just another slogan.

I'm not voting for him. If the Dems want to do something about putting a decent nominee up at the convention, I'm all ears, but it's a simple equation. He cast an unforgivable vote. He will never get mine again.

For fuck's sake, Clinton even managed to get this right.
posted by eriko at 5:30 PM on July 9, 2008 [17 favorites]


Obama didn't single-handedly pass the bill, but I think a lot of us here are taking it personally because we all looked up to him. SHAME ON HIM FOR GETTING OUR HOPES UP!

I was shocked to find out yesterday that I don't like brussell sprouts with bad cheese.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:30 PM on July 9, 2008


I have no problem with Obama's stance on Iraq. It hasn't really changed. His priority is getting the troops home and leaving Iraq as stable as possible he was against the surge because while it could accomplish something it was more money and more people and made it in some ways harder to get out. That is fine, the surge happened and wasn't a total failure. Obama is still more commited to ending the war than to declaring a victory again and that is to his credit.

The FISA bill is bad politically and practically. I get the trade offs involved but I think it was the wrong decision. In general I would like to see politicians do the right thing. I can understand occasionally doing not the right thing if there is high political price for not doing the right thing. Telecom immunity is not something that people are clamoring for. More people think of it as spying and bad than not. There is no reason not to be against it other than just wanting it completely off the table. That isn't a good enough reason. Obama should have voted against it. If he wanted to seem like a centrist faith based initiatives and partial birth aboritions are good enough issues (I disagree with him on these too but these at least will probably help him) he wasted a lot of good will on nothing. It was bad politics.

Generally I like Obama more than Kerry, more than Gore, more than either Clinton. They would, in the same situation all do the same thing. Democrats are used to losing still and it is hard to come around to the the fact that right no most people prefer their plans on pretty much everything. Having said that a good way to lose is to pretend that people don't like your way of doing things.
posted by I Foody at 5:31 PM on July 9, 2008


If only immunity were the worst thing about this bill. As arstechnica puts it, Telecom Immunity is the Icing, Not the Cake.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


He's still better than McCain.

Yes, but if he continues on this track, the only thing going for him will be that he's not McCain.
posted by oaf at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2008


The vote on H.R. 6304 (senate.gov), 69-28-3

Of interest, a manual count of the dems that voted YEA (22):

Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea


Had these all been NAY votes, the final tally would have been 47-50-3. More realistically, assuming that Lieberman's vote could not be swayed, it appears the bill could still have been stopped by a concerted effort of Democrats alone.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I like the bumpersticker made by Edge of the American West better: get disappointed by SOMEONE NEW Obama '08
posted by Kattullus at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2008


why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?

Because if they were real Americans, they would've told him to stick it.

That'll be the last time I donate tiome or money to a candidate. I think I'll go back to giving money to beer fund, cuz at least Guinness has never turned its back on me. FU, Barry, you pandering schmuck. I hope you get what you want and then some.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2008


I'm not voting for him.

You were never going to vote for him, if this is what changed your mind. If it wasn't this, it would have been something else. Good luck finding a perfect candidate.
posted by empath at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2008 [24 favorites]


How did McCain vote?

He didn't.

Neither did Ted Kennedy, but Kennedy is recovering from brain cancer.
posted by oaf at 5:39 PM on July 9, 2008


a robot made out of meat: "How did McCain vote?

He didn't, as far as I'm aware.

Sometimes in legislative business you have to vote for imperfect legislation because it's the best that you can get. It was important that a version of this bill pass soon, and the president who is not up for reelection can easily play this game."

This.

The same thing came up when Obama voted for the Patriot Act re-authorization. Lots of folks (primarily Ron Paul boosters, it seems to me) tried to spin this to portray him as a neocon in liberal's clothing, or even suggesting that he had voted for the original Patriot Act (despite his not being a Senator at the time).

In response to anticipation of this, Obama made a floor statement explaining his position and basically saying that, while the bill was imperfect, it was the best that could be achieved in the Republican Congress at the time, and that the non-controversial security provisions it contained were too important to delay while wrangling futilely with the GOP to strip the civil-liberties concerns.

It's disappointing, but a political reality. Intractable idealists like Kucinich are important, but don't win political majorities. Not yet, at least.

Anyway, I'm just hoping that Obama will hold to his pledge to deal with FISA and other similar excesses of the Bush administration after the election.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:43 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed. That's the nature of our democracy.

He might as well not vote for the bill. He's going to be loudly blamed the nanosecond that some terrorist blows up a supermarket in Cleveland no matter what.

It wont matter if the terrorists have been planning the attack and gathering supplies since 2003. Obama is a Democrat, he's got an Arab middle name, he's "soft" on Terrar. Again: he's going to be blamed no matter what.

Why then is he going to bother with this telecom security theater shit? Half the people in this country already think that he's some kind of Muslim sleeper-agent Antichrist. Who is he trying to impress?
posted by Avenger at 5:45 PM on July 9, 2008


Anotherpanacea, granting retroactive immunity for the telecoms in and of itself isn't the biggest deal, it's the precedent that it sets. When someone tells you to do something that may or may not be illegal, you have to make the choice whether or not that something will land you in shit. Just because your boss or your dad or the president of the united states told you not to worry about it, doesn't make you any less liable for your actions. So allowing these telecoms off the hook for their illegal wiretapping is tantamount to saying that you can get away with just about anything as long as someone in a position of power told you it was cool. You always have a moral choice, see also: Nuremberg Defense.

On preview, read that arstechnica article.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 5:46 PM on July 9, 2008


kid ichorous: "Had these all been NAY votes, the final tally would have been 47-50-3. More realistically, assuming that Lieberman's vote could not be swayed, it appears the bill could still have been stopped by a concerted effort of Democrats alone."

Many of those are conservative Dems that would never have voted nay under any circumstances.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2008


I'm highly disappointed he supported the final bill. It definitely calls into question my support for him. But I think it should be noted that he really did support three amendments to strike immunity from the bill:

5059 - Specter's amendment ("To limit retroactive immunity for providing assistance to the United States to instances in which a Federal court determines the assistance was provided in connection with an intelligence activity that was constitutional.")

5064 - Dodd's amendment, striking the immunity provision ("To strike title II").

5066 - Bingaman's amendment ("To stay pending cases against certain telecommunications companies and provide that such companies may not seek retroactive immunity until 90 days after the date the final report of the Inspectors General on the President's Surveillance Program is submitted to Congress.") (Weak sauce, if you ask me, but it's something.)

It's still disappointing and pretty baffling that he chose to support 6304 in the end, but I think this provides some evidence he was sincere about fighting the immunity provision.
posted by weston at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?

Because if they were real Americans, they would've told him to stick it.


At least one did, and, it has been alleged, was retaliated against by the government.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


You were never going to vote for him, if this is what changed your mind.

In all likelihood, I'm still going to vote for him, but that Obama for America donation form sitting next to me just got a lot less likely to make it to Illinois.
posted by oaf at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2008


Feinstein got a letter from me today which began, "You have lost my vote." This has been a long time coming, and FISA/immunity was the final straw. I'll be voting for any credible challenger in the Democratic primary when she runs for re-election, and if she's running unopposed, I'll abstain from voting in the senatorial race.

As for Obama ... I'm still voting for him (who the fuck else am I going to vote for?), but he's not getting any more money from me for a while.

I'm upset and outraged that this bill passed, and I don't know how long it's going to take for me to get past it.
posted by chuq at 5:48 PM on July 9, 2008


LOLOLOLOL!!!11!!1!!!!1!!!

Change!

The Real Deal!

Too. Fucking. Funny.
posted by BigSky at 5:49 PM on July 9, 2008


Oh no! Now he's only the smartest, most progressive, most constitutionally conscious, least ethically compromised, most personally thoughtful and decent, &c. front-running Presidential candidate of my voting lifetime by, um, a slightly smaller large amount. Waaah, I'm only gonna vote for him once.
posted by nicwolff at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2008 [21 favorites]


If you didn't see any of this coming, consider yourself brainwashed by corporate news.
posted by Zambrano at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2008


I Foody: "The FISA bill is bad politically and practically. I get the trade offs involved but I think it was the wrong decision. In general I would like to see politicians do the right thing. I can understand occasionally doing not the right thing if there is high political price for not doing the right thing. Telecom immunity is not something that people are clamoring for. More people think of it as spying and bad than not.

Sure, among people who are familiar with the issue. I suspect that the majority of voting Americans aren't even aware of it. And when they are made aware of it by the usual media suspects, they will be persuaded to see anyone who voted against it as ACLU-hugging, soft-on-terrorizing, liberalitist obstructionist pansies who want to punish the telcos for Serving America.

Obama should have voted against it. If he wanted to seem like a centrist faith based initiatives and partial birth aboritions are good enough issues (I disagree with him on these too but these at least will probably help him) he wasted a lot of good will on nothing. It was bad politics."

Not according to Rasmussen.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:54 PM on July 9, 2008


He's still better than McCain.

That's a compelling slogan, what with the putting your candidate in the same general category as locusts and other endearing creatures.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you didn't see any of this coming, consider yourself brainwashed by corporate news.
posted by Zambrano at 5:53 PM on July 9 [+] [!]


Man, we just got TOLD!!
posted by basicchannel at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


As soon as I saw MSM not push Obama aside - like they did with Gravel, Kucinich, Paul.. I knew he was going to be status quo. People really are gullible dopes.
posted by Zambrano at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?

Because it was probably the only way we might have gotten to hold hearings that could shed light on the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping. Which would be great, but is in the end less important than getting a President into office who has some respect for the Constitution.
posted by nicwolff at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2008


For fuck's sake, Clinton even managed to get this right.

Bill Clinton didn't exactly "get this right," though he didn't necessarily get it wrong, either. For example, being squirrelly under oath or pardoning (retroactively exonerating?) Marc Rich might be forgivable (as, I think, Obama's FISA vote is), but it seems like a bit of a stretch to portray Clinton as a shining example of upright Executive behavior. Take a few deep breaths.
posted by spiderwire at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2008


Just another pussy in a long parade of pussies. He'll fit in fine.

It well and truly sucks, though.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"For fuck's sake, Clinton even managed to get this right.

spiderwire: "Bill Clinton didn't exactly "get this right," though he didn't necessarily get it wrong, either. For example, being squirrelly under oath or pardoning (retroactively exonerating?) Marc Rich might be forgivable (as, I think, Obama's FISA vote is), but it seems like a bit of a stretch to portray Clinton as a shining example of upright Executive behavior. Take a few deep breaths.
"

He's talking about Hillary; she voted against the FISA bill.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Boy, oh, boy ... if this were "Daily Kos", half you traitors would have your comments hidden in the name of freedom!

Seriously ... after his Jerusalem flip-flop, I pretty much wrote off Obama. I never fell for the Jedi mind tricks anyway. I tended to read his speeches rather than hear them delivered; which tends to immunize one against common rhetoric. Then I'd wander into a thread of enchanted true-believers gushing over it and I'd feel like the only sober person at a NORML convention.

I will vote for him, of course. But I only see one issue: SCOTUS nominations. One more Scalia or Thomas will do more lasting damage than 10 George Bushes. So he has my support.

But I expect nothing else from his administration. We'll still be in Iraq for the 2012 election cycle and none of the Bush toadies will be made to pay for their offenses.

Kumbayah.
posted by RavinDave at 6:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


He is not the hope I was looking for. Neither was Hillary or anyone else.

Get over it or vote for McCain. Unfortunately, those are your two choices.
posted by sleepy pete at 6:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Because it was probably the only way we might have gotten to hold hearings that could shed light on the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping. Which would be great, but is in the end less important than getting a President into office who has some respect for the Constitution.

A more compelling -- and pressing -- reason was getting discovery in the pending lawsuits against the telecoms. Hearings were unlikely (and indeed still possible). The suits will be dismissed as a result of the amnesty, which is really unfortunate.
posted by spiderwire at 6:02 PM on July 9, 2008


if they were real Americans, they would've told him to stick it

What on earth is that supposed to mean? They're not real Americans. They're not patriots. They're not people at all. They're organizations, with one, and only one goal: making money. They're run by many people with two major goals: getting as much of the aforementioned money as possible, and not getting arrested doing so.

If the Bush administration made a convincing case that failure to comply would negatively impact either of those goals, then what other behavior could we possibly have expected? And such a case would be easy to make... after the last eight years, I'd believe an administration official if he or she told me to expect extreme measures if I didn't give them what they wanted. Furthermore, given that sort of pressure, it would be easy to doublethink my way into justifying it... cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing, and you never know -- maybe they would be able to use that information to prevent another terrorist attack.

In an abstract sense it's easy to hate the telecoms... they're big nebulous entities with untold power and influence and sorcery. But that doesn't make it okay to put them in a "can't win, can't break even, can't quit the game" situation.

As I've said before, I think retroactive immunity is wrong and I think Obama has landed on the wrong side here. But it's not so simple as it's being presented, and so I'll echo empath: if this is the dealbreaker, the major reason you won't vote for Obama then you were looking for a reason not to vote for him.

Quit with the hero worship, understand the realities of contemporary American politics, and reassess the presidential race rationally and soberly. He's still, not just the better candidate, but a great candidate if you're the type of person who disagrees with the Bush administration's abuses.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2008 [19 favorites]


weston writes "But I think it should be noted that he really did support three amendments to strike immunity from the bill:"

Well, yes, but we already knew Obama's good at posturing.

At casting principled votes for amendments that everyone knows won't pass, amendments that low-information voters wil never hear about but can be offered as crusts of bread to those who care about the Constitution.

The reason I didn't support Obama out of the gate is that he never seemed to have taken a difficult position, anything that would put him at real risk. (I supported anybody but Hillary because I wanted change, but waited to see which candidate that would be.) Even his anti-war speech in '02, while gratifying, wasn't really followed up on.

My real worry is that Obama (like Pelosi, like Hoyer, like Reid) just doesn't have the balls to lead. Yes, he's inspiring, but conveniently not there when we need leadership that goes beyond chanting "yes we can".

Now look, I still prefer him to Hillary -- because I can hope Obama's got fewer favors to repay, fewer vested interests to pay off, than Hillary. And he's still better than McCain, whose only attractive attribute was the "maverick" quality he completely abandoned in his rush to fall to his knees to fellate Bush.

But I'm very very disappointed in Obama. I feel like a chump for having given him the hundreds of doillars I gavce him, and even more so for talking him up to friends, family and colleagues.

Obama, it appears, has no real Audacity, and I have left little Hope.
posted by orthogonality at 6:14 PM on July 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Why are people talking about voting for McCain? It isn't a choice between McCain and Obama, McCain just sucks period. It's a choice between voting for Obama, or maybe even giving him money, and not voting period.

Obama hasn't lost my vote per se, but he has lost my interest. So I wont organize my vacation around voting in a battle ground state, and thus my vote "won't count". So effectively he has lost my vote, even if I do vote.

What is wrong with Thomas, RavinDave? Thomas is hard core originalist, not a "when it suites me" originalist like Scalia. Thomas' decisions burn the conservatives too. Issue is republicans wont make the mistake of choosing another conservative judge with a consistent point of view.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:16 PM on July 9, 2008


New and Not Improved.
posted by Brian B. at 6:16 PM on July 9, 2008


He's talking about Hillary; she voted against the FISA bill.

She wouldn't have if she had the nomination.
posted by tkchrist at 6:17 PM on July 9, 2008 [21 favorites]


Some people don't need much excuse for umbrage, do they?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:17 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


As soon as I saw MSM not push Obama aside - like they did with Gravel, Kucinich, Paul.. I knew he was going to be status quo. People really are gullible dopes.

That's really simplifying things, isn't it?

Let's take as a given that the mainstream media will always push aside candidates who are perceived as threatening the status quo. And let's assume further, that anyone without sufficient media coverage will lose the election. Doesn't it make sense for a progressive candidate [who wants to win] to give off every appearance of not rocking the boat too much?

And by extension, doesn't it make sense for a progressive voter [who wants a progressive President in the White House] to vote for that guy?

It's a risky proposition, don't get me wrong, and it might lead to getting duped by a guy who really is just a corporate tool in disguise. But I don't see a better solution for the time being.

And I think I'm just rehashing something that's been discussed endlessly, so I apologize.
posted by naju at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2008


getting a President into office who has some respect for the Constitution.

And what an outstanding way he has found to show us this 'respect' for the Constitution.

---

Or is it just that legalizing an unconstitutional act is unconstitutional?

This bill shows the contempt that the politicians who passed it, hold for our Constitutional right to be free from search without a warrant. The telecommunications companies were told "Don't worry about it." and this confirms that in the Federale's eyes, the companies made the right choice.

---

More LULZ!
posted by BigSky at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2008


I am considering supporting a fellow Connecticut Jew--Joseph Lieberman. McCain gets in, Joe will be on the Supreme Court...what could be better than that?
posted by Postroad at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2008


Had these all been NAY votes, the final tally would have been 47-50-3. More realistically, assuming that Lieberman's vote could not be swayed, it appears the bill could still have been stopped by a concerted effort of Democrats alone.

It only takes 40 votes to stop a vote in the senate.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


People who look for heroes to save them get bent across the barrel and fucked, inevitably, every time.

Obama is a politician, and a good one. Politics at the level we're talking is a dirty, dirty business of dealmaking and compromise of principles. That is never going to change.

Barack Obama could eat babies on stage and he'd still be the best goddamn hope you silly bastards have, and by extension, the best hope for the rest of us as well. Stop looking for heroes, and stop flying into hysterical tizzies when your fantasy-land Defenders of Truth and Justice show they are less perfect than you'd like them to be. Grow the hell up, vote for the man, and then, unlike what you and your media have done for the past seven years, don't say 'job done' and wait for the next election to get exercised about what's happening to your country.

The stakes are higher than they've been in generations. Swallow your disappointment that he's willing to compromise, get him elected, rejoice briefly in the possibility of a reprieve from history's executioner, then hold his goddamn feet and the feet of his administration to the fire, demand that your media pay attention to the real issues, and make sure that some kind of change actually happens. The election is the beginning not the end of the painful decisions and difficult work ahead in keeping America from going down the pipes entirely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:23 PM on July 9, 2008 [98 favorites]


McCain gets in, Joe will be on the Supreme Court...what could be better than that?
Ummmmm... strep throat?
posted by Flunkie at 6:26 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I sent an email today to my brother in law Greg and my friend Paul, both attorneys, asking if they'd been keeping up with this FISA stuff. However I only typed Gre for Greg and the Gmail ended up auto-filling my boss Gretchen as the recipient, which I missed. She ended up replying "I don't know what you're talking about."

Which is more illustrative than the informed response I would have received from Greg. Many, maybe most, people, don't care about this stuff. Somebody got to Obama—large dollar Hillary supporters?—and he caved. But caved knowing that those of us who pay attention to this are not the majority, and the broad brush TERRAR arguments will be, as Keith Olbermann said, a brick they bash him with in the election. And those impressions will end up on Gretchen's radar, she being an Obama-leaning Republican. And there's little way those of us who care are going to vote for McCain. We just may not show.

With regard to whether telecom immunity really matters, and should they be subjected to fines, etc., that's not really been the major issue. It's more that they can't be investigated for what they did, making it more difficult to investigate the Bush administration for illegalities they may have been involved with. Glenn Greenwald is much better than me at putting words together about this stuff.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 6:26 PM on July 9, 2008


It may be that all of those things about Obama are true, but that still would not justify trying to "cut his nuts off."
posted by Slap Factory at 6:27 PM on July 9, 2008


If you didn't see any of this coming, consider yourself brainwashed by corporate news.
posted by Zambrano at 5:53 PM on July 9 [+] [!]

Man, we just got TOLD!!


Impwnd!
posted by cashman at 6:29 PM on July 9, 2008


why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?

where did you get the idea that EFF and ACLU lawsuits would "bankrupt" the most powerful corporations in the world?

it is -so- important because it deals with the very fundament of this nation -- the rule of law. FISA was written to address the behavior of the telcos and not specifically the government for this very reason. it was the telco's willingness to break the law at the behest of richard "if the president does it then it's not illegal" nixon that led to FISA in the first place. in other words, FISA was specifically written to prohibit the kind of actions for which the telcos now get retroactive immunity. and it went on for years and years.

the various lawsuits were (they'll all be officially dismissed tout de suite) the sole means we had to find out just how bad the law-breaking by the president and the telcos was. now that is lost forever. we'll never know what it was that bush was doing that nearly caused james comey, john ashcroft, and other major players in the justice department to resign en masse. but you can rest assured that it was far nastier than any bungled nixon black bag job.

the rule of law has proved inconvenient for the bush administration over the years, and now, at long last, they have succeeded in rendering it devoid of meaning. there is no justice. there is no democracy. there is only AT&T.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:29 PM on July 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


delmoi, filibustering doesn't really apply here. It is able to stop a bill from being passed; it is not able to make a bill pass. The people who would have been in the minority here (had not a significant number of Democrats caved) would want the bill to pass; filibustering wouldn't have helped them.
posted by Flunkie at 6:30 PM on July 9, 2008


You were never going to vote for him, if this is what changed your mind.

Bullshit. The reason I supported him, and voted for him, in the primaries, was his clear and certain statement (and action, the last time they tried to pass this nightmare) of not supporting, not voting for, and actively supporting the filibustering of any bill containing retroactive amnesty.

I had real problems with him, but hey, he took a stand. He said, no, this is the line, it will not be crossed. I won't let BushCo win. I will make a stand for our constitutional rights. I will be brave enough to make stands that may cause the press corps to wail and beat their chests.

Today, he deliberately, and with malice aforethought, crossed that line. He let BushCo win. He sacrificed our rights to make sure the press corps wouldn't say anything bad about him. He turned out to be just another political coward.

I've had enough of those. I'm tired of voting for those who cower at any threat.
So, no, I will not vote for him.
posted by eriko at 6:30 PM on July 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


Err, unless you're saying the people who voted against the bill should've filibustered. In which case, well, there weren't enough to support a filibuster anyway.
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2008


Quit with the hero worship, understand the realities of contemporary American politics, and reassess the presidential race rationally and soberly.

I'm sorry, I've been living in a cave. I guess you're right, I'll just take a moment to reassess my situation and cow down like the rest of the country whenever some dimwit screams "it's cuz of the terrahrists!! 9-11, 9-11!!" I'll feel much better about myself if I do that.

Contemporary American politics have been shamefully distorted into making everyone fearful of their own boogeyman. No ideas, no principles. It's just Room 101 for everyone. I don't feel like an idiot for supporting someone other than a loon like ol' John, quite the opposite, but I'd like to think at least for a moment that we could get someone in the White House who at long last has some decency. Is that too much to ask?

I understand compromise and I understand politics, but I also understand integrity and the rule of law. Maybe I value what's left of the Constitution a little bit more than someone that never had to stand up and swear that they'd defend it from enemies, both foreign and domestic. If there's a line that has to be drawn somewhere, I say let it be there.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:31 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aspo: I am sad about the FISA vote. But if you are selling the "Obama is trying to back off from ending the Iraq war" line you are buying McCain's story hook, line, and sinker. What Obama is saying (and he's right) is he can't pull the troops out in one day and expect it to be anything but a disaster. What he can do is start the process of bringing the troops home on day one. Is that really surprising? Did you expect Obama to bring all the troops home by the end of January 2009?

I don't think that's accurate. He actually proposed on the floor of the Senate in January 2007 (when he was positioning for the Democratic nomination rather than a victory in the general election) that he wanted all combat troops out by March 31, 2008, and there wasn't any nuance about leaving a disaster in the wake:

"That is why today, I'm introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007.

This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop the escalation, more importantly, it would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces with the goal of removing of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31st, 2008 - consistent with the expectations of the bipartisan Iraq study group that the President has so assiduously ignored."

Whoever said we need to hold politicians' feet to the fire was 100% correct. The pandering is disgraceful. At least it's harder in the youtube era.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:34 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why are people talking about voting for McCain? It isn't a choice between McCain and Obama, McCain just sucks period. It's a choice between voting for Obama, or maybe even giving him money, and not voting period.

Who's talking about voting for McCain? Seriously?
posted by delmoi at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2008


Whoever said we need to hold politicians' feet to the fire was 100% correct. The pandering is disgraceful. At least it's harder in the youtube era.

What's annoying is that it seems so pointless. It looks so amateur and he's way up in the polls right now, and McCain has nowhere to go but down. I mean, he just called the fact that younger workers pay for Social Security a "disgrace". Talk about a stupid comment, especially given that he's going to need to rely on older voters in the fall.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 PM on July 9, 2008


Slap Factory: "I don't think that's accurate. He actually proposed on the floor of the Senate in January 2007 (when he was positioning for the Democratic nomination rather than a victory in the general election) that he wanted all combat troops out by March 31, 2008, and there wasn't any nuance about leaving a disaster in the wake"

Am I missing something? January 30, 2007 to March 31, 2008 is a 14-month period.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:40 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


If the Bush administration made a convincing case that failure to comply would negatively impact either of those goals, then what other behavior could we possibly have expected?

that they wouldn't break the FISA law that was written to address this very problem. see, e.g., qwest.

In an abstract sense it's easy to hate the telecoms... they're big nebulous entities with untold power and influence and sorcery. But that doesn't make it okay to put them in a "can't win, can't break even, can't quit the game" situation.

of course it's okay, because it (was) the freaking law!
posted by Hat Maui at 6:44 PM on July 9, 2008


Man. I'm having deja vu all over again. Is it 2000? Is this a thread about what a sell-out Gore is and how people "are not gonna vote for him but for Nader, a man of true principle, anywaya—there is no difference between the parties..."

Oh. Yeah.

I said it a year ago. I'm saying it again. Keep it up. The Republicans are gonna win. They will.

And once again you will go "How did this happen! Oh. Gosh. There is a difference between parties! OH NOES! Another war! IF ONLY WE HAD OBAMA!"

The left consistently acts like petulant little children. You have nobody to blame but yourselves.
posted by tkchrist at 6:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


I don't feel like gloating over the Hillary haters who were yelling "She's just like McCain!!! Barack's different!" But it might be cool if one or two of ya could own up to maybe having been a tiny bit strident in blasting anyone who thought she deserved consideration. I know I'll get flamed for saying this. But really, folks -- a little bit of humility goes a lot further than serial outrage.

They are all poltiicians. They have to make compromises to get elected. I really don't like this particular compromise, but I'm glad Obama is willing to do what it takes to win. A lot of good Democrats have lost on issues like opposing the death penalty -- failing to prevent executions while ushering right-wing idiots into power.
posted by msalt at 6:47 PM on July 9, 2008


Thinking about this more, I really don't get it. Why do something so in opposition to the knowledge base of his campaign? DailyKos, AmericaBlog, Firedoglake, members of this site? We're not a huge bloc but I think readers of those sites are more informed than most and probably more active. And his campaign has been so good at everything—message, design, etc.—how could they get this so wrong?

Why would you piss off some of your most informed supporters on such a granular yet important issue instead of taking a stand and then relying on us to get the message out? I'm not one for conspiracy theories but some lobby got to him, DLC, corporations, something.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 6:47 PM on July 9, 2008


Like it or not. NOT voting for Obama IS a vote for McCain.
posted by tkchrist at 6:48 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


So allowing these telecoms off the hook for their illegal wiretapping is tantamount to saying that you can get away with just about anything as long as someone in a position of power told you it was cool. You always have a moral choice, see also: Nuremberg Defense.

Is there anything about that "is tantamount to saying" that strikes you as poorly thought out and in need of elaboration? Or perhaps was it comparing wiretapping to the genocidal murder of millions of innocent people?

Sometimes people do things in good faith, or in the best faith available to them, and in those situations we as a society should consider reconciliation rather than endless resentful revenge.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:48 PM on July 9, 2008


look, if obama is going to do shit in office, he's going to need Democratic majorities. that means he's going to need Democratic congressmen who come from areas where the right side of this issue has very little support- they make up a lot of those new seats that won Pelosi control of the house. absent a massive domestic spying scandal that scared tons of likely voting-but-not-engaged Americans before the election, there's just no time to change millions and millions of minds about the ideas that (a)this ABSOLUTELY HAD TO PASS TO KEEP AMERICA SAFE FROM TERRORISTS and (b)if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.

for these people, the fact that Mukasey has repeatedly lied about it, that Ashcroft's Justice Department freaked out about it, that there was a legal way to do it anyway, and that it wouldn't have prevented 9/11 are going to be drowned out by ads that play to the very worst fears and ideas you can imagine anyone having about national security, terrorism, and constitutional rights. That's the way it is. The principles that made this country great are between a world-beating group of red-hot assholes and the lucrative jobs they want to keep. They will do and say absolutely anything to win. Good luck beating them on election day with your graduate thesis on liberty and security. Most voters don't have the time or inclination to read it, it's (mostly) not their fault, and that is the way things are. Don't even pretend like you're sitting this one out because of this.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 6:52 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


tkchrist: Like it or not. NOT voting for Obama IS a vote for McCain.

I prefer to frame such scenarios as: "Candidate X has declined my support."
posted by RavinDave at 6:53 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The left consistently acts like petulant little children. You have nobody to blame but yourselves.

It's not the left, tkchrist, it's the swing voters. The left and the right are Red Sox/Yankees, they were born convicted in their beliefs. It's the goddamned pink hats in the middle that need the nightlight left on.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:53 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I said it a year ago. I'm saying it again. Keep it up. The Republicans are gonna win. They will.

you're a genius for mocking the idea that there's no difference between the parties.

but pray tell, oh wise hammurabi, please give me one example of a policy in the last two years that is different as a result of democrats controlling congress. let's see, we are well on our way out of iraq nope, the bush administration has been called to account for its abuses nope, the economy has improved nope, the rule of law is restored nope. shit, i give up.

seriously, give me one single example of how things are different ever since the democrats retook control of congress, and i'll mail you a cash reward.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:55 PM on July 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I knew I'd regret buying that "Obama for yo mama" T-shirt.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2008


Obama's Iraq positioning is a non-story. Those who haven't seen the huge discrepancy between the free ride McCain enjoyed for his "100-years, wait make that just until 2013 and all casualty-free" Iraq fantasy versus the trashing Obama received for advocating for the same 16-month withdraw plan he had in the primaries (albeit with different emphases for the general election) haven't been playing close enough attention. The substantiative shift in positioning on Iraq has been solely McCain's.

Obama's FISA vote on the other hand was a terrible vote intended to hedge against his short-term vulnerabilities; it's his version of Clinton's 2002 AUMF vote. Only time will tell if it's a decision that'll cost him among his constituents down the road the way Clinton's vote eventually did. At least Obama had the decency to throw his support behind the multiple motions raised against telecom immunity so that he's on the record as being against that part of the bill. On the other hand, being on the losing side of a vote whose margins were going to be this decisive -- and this partisan -- would have been a bad move for him politically. It's a terrifically crappy situation all around, but at the end of the day there just aren't enough progressives in either house of Congress (Democrat ≠ progressive by a long shot -- a huge portion of Democrats in Congress represent very conservative constituencies) or in the general population at large to turn FISA into a cause célèbre. If there were, an uncompromising grandstander like Kucinich would be the Democratic nominee, not a moderate-liberal like Obama. Progressives need more downticket support, even if Obama wins the presidency. That's where people who truly want to make a difference should be sending their political donations.

A lot of the outrage from progressives is more directed at how close Obama seemed to being the Ideal Candidate. FISA is one huge step down the wrong path from a progressive standpoint, but it's still far from the sustained pattern of wholesale F-U that the Clinton administration handed to progressives. Win or lose, things are going to be a lot clearer when Obama isn't a mere four months away from the Presidential decision.

I hope this vote will come back to haunt Obama. It was a bad vote in a bad political situation, but it could very well make him a better Senator -- or President -- if he were forced to own up to it in the future, and he deserves to have his feet put to the fire by progressives. At the end of the day though, what's done is done, and FISA is finally all over except for the hand-wringing. It was a long, long battle.
posted by DaShiv at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2008 [12 favorites]


Today, he deliberately, and with malice aforethought, crossed that line.

Now you're being silly.
posted by empath at 7:01 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The hope that Barack Obama would be some kind of agent of sweeping change for the political landscape of America went out right around the end of World War Two, let's call it 1948 or '49. Ask Dwight Eisenhower about that.

It's no wonder that people of conscience who had to live through the last eight years are feeling sore that their guy is not exactly who they hoped he would be, but any chance he has of being president rides on a shitload more than just how many young people who are frustrated with the war and the shit economy and the mangling of the constitution (Bush & co just stepped up the pace of that by the way, it was already- and perhaps always had been- a less potent document than our history teachers would have us believe) come out to vote for him. It's bad here in America and as usual when things are bad people usually get hip way too late, if at all. Politicians like Kucinich and Gravel and (god help us) Ron Paul are on the margins because of their principles, because politics is not about principles, it's about playing the game and the game is shitty and rigged, if you want to step up and win the big stuffed tiger you better already know the carny that set up the milk bottles. Jesus, I sound like Dan Rather.

Point being, I'm still going to vote for Barack (I haven't missed an election since I turned 18), I'm voting in NY anyway so it's mostly so I can vote for whatever local stuff is up at that point anyway. Any person of principle who hasn't been in a coma for the last eight years has to be crazy to vote for McCain. I'm sorry the honeymoon is over, it's been over for me for a long fucking time, but I probably have at least another forty years in me (God help me) and I'm a gambler, but I try to make smart bets where I can.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:02 PM on July 9, 2008


If Obama had voted for this, and there was a terrorist attack on this country, he would be utterly destroyed.

What a cynical, completely unacceptable excuse for selling our rights down the river.

So, you're saying it's OK, because he did it to help his election chances? What a crock. If he were Bush, we'd all be yelling to high heaven, rightly so. No better if Obama does it.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:03 PM on July 9, 2008


seriously, give me one single example of how things are different ever since the democrats retook control of congress, and i'll mail you a cash reward.
The minimum wage has been increased for the first time since 1997.

How much is my cash reward? Please donate it to the American Civil Liberties Union. Thank you.
posted by Flunkie at 7:03 PM on July 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Man. I'm having deja vu all over again. Is it 2000? Is this a thread about what a sell-out Gore is and how people "are not gonna vote for him but for Nader, a man of true principle, anywaya—there is no difference between the parties..."

Oh. Yeah.

I said it a year ago. I'm saying it again. Keep it up. The Republicans are gonna win. They will.


They are, because even though "history" was 8 years ago, some people clearly have forgotten it, and thus would like to repeat it.

Kill that noise, I'm voting for Obama. He aint perfect and I had no illusion he was, but I know I don't McCain to win.

Don't be stupid about this.
posted by cashman at 7:05 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think he did it because a telecom already has some dirt on him. They probably had him tapped already. He doesn't have the safety net HRC does, being the wife of a 2 term president. The Clinton's communications are probably safe. I hate that our fourth amendment has gone the way of the dodo. And the Viacom ruling too? Man:( I have like no privacy now. I still love the muthafucka tho! Obama rocks!
posted by Flex1970 at 7:08 PM on July 9, 2008


i'll donate the 70 cents it's been raised since dems took office. maybe i'll throw in a bit more when it goes up on july 24th and then a bit more next year when it goes up again.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:08 PM on July 9, 2008


of democrats controlling congress.

But they don't, by any stretch of the imagination. There are 49 repubs and 49 dems in the senate, and 2 independents, Bernie Sanders, who is liberal, and Joe Lieberman, who is a shifty repub in disguise. The tie breaker is Dick Cheney. That does not sound like any sort of "control" of the Senate to me, and if they don't control the Senate, they don't control Congress.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:09 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


My feelings are kind of mixed on the telecom thing. I'm no fan of theirs and would love to see them held accountable. On the other hand, I'm guessing many of the Democrats who voted for it were themselves victims of the intimidation that the administration and Republicans in general heaped on anyone who didn't adopt their positions and exaggerated responses on terrorism. The telecom companies could make a valid argument that they felt they had no choice; the very fact that the government was doing warrantless wiretapping probably put fear into them, not to mention that there was a whole creepy thing going on with secret laws, defendants who ostensibly could not formulate a defense because it would breach national security, renditions and tortures. All that needed to happen was for AT&T or such to refuse an order and then have some horrible attack happen, and you have a PR disaster that who could recover from?

Not saying they did the right thing, or that they couldn't have done the right thing; but I know in the aftermath of terrorists attacks I've feared terrorists less than the creepier elements in our government--and the public willing to go along with them--who have been only too happy to gain advantage from fear and paranoia. Maybe I don't have a good handle on the telecom response to the situation, but I imagine I would not have wanted to be in their position.
posted by troybob at 7:09 PM on July 9, 2008


Any person of principle who hasn't been in a coma for the last eight years has to be crazy to vote for McCain.

That is not a good argument for Obama to vote for this bill. His vote created the problem with his constituency - which he openly courted - where there previously was none.

I'm still voting for Obama. I used to be campaigning for him, donating money, time, energy. No more of that. I don't have the stomach for general presidential elections most of the time, and it's for this reason. By the time you reach the finish line, everyone stinks.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:10 PM on July 9, 2008


How magnanimous. I must say I am underwhelmed at your cash reward.
posted by Flunkie at 7:10 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If he were Bush, we'd all be yelling to high heaven, rightly so. No better if Obama does it.

And yet McCain entirely skipped the vote to campaign. Yet no one seems outraged about that.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:11 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


And his campaign has been so good at everything—message, design, etc.—how could they get this so wrong?

They don't think they can win the swing states by being liberal. So start making excuses and hold onto your asses. This was always about power, and Obama supporters are the first to admit it. They went around reading his mind and special pleading his case, saying he's just a poser until he wins, then he'll be a true liberal in office and "save" us, as someone up-thread put it. Save us from what? I don't remember.
posted by Brian B. at 7:12 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yeah the Iraq shit is silly, he's fucked eight ways from Sunday on that from day one in the white house, I expect he'll do his best to get our boys and girls home, but we're as married to Iraq as we were to Japan after that occupation now and I'm not seeing a lot of high end fucking TVs, really good cars and big ticket UN humanitarian contributions coming our of Iraq in the next hundred years, are you?

On preview:


I think he did it because a telecom already has some dirt on him.

Well ok, whatever, maybe so. I'd bet instead that the telecom complicity in illegal wiretapping of American citizens goes back way farther than Bush II and people with juice don't want that coming out in lawsuits about the current fracas.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:12 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


A lot of the outrage from progressives is more directed at how close Obama seemed to being the Ideal Candidate. FISA is one huge step down the wrong path from a progressive standpoint, but it's still far from the sustained pattern of wholesale F-U that the Clinton administration handed to progressives.

Pretty good start though, eh? And he's not even president yet. It's not just a F-U to progressives. It's also to a lot of the libertarian and constitutional-minded independents, which he attracted due to his principled stances on civil liberties. He's turning into an opportunist very quickly. I think we'll get that sustained "fuck you" before too long.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:13 PM on July 9, 2008




That does not sound like any sort of "control" of the Senate to me, and if they don't control the Senate, they don't control Congress.

they had the numbers to filibuster this (and lots of other crap). they're just too craven to use the power they do have. and they won't make bush actually veto stuff. all he has to do is threaten to veto stuff and they crumple.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:14 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


they had the numbers to filibuster this
No they didn't. It takes 40 votes to filibuster. They had 28.
posted by Flunkie at 7:16 PM on July 9, 2008


OK - anyone who has actually swallowed the McCain soup that says Obama has changed his position on Iraq withdrawal, please take your head out of your ass. Seriously. Continually 'refining' your strategy is sort of inherent in even having a strategy. Maybe if Bush had 'refined' his strategy, like, once in the past 8 years, we wouldn't be in this shithole. Obama's position hasn't changed one iota on this matter in 12 months - he has always said he'd listen to what the commanders on the ground had to say re: safe redeployment.

As to the FISA thing - yes, it was a bullshit bill. It was destined to pass -- voting against it would have been politically disastrous (OH NOES HE VOTED FER THE TERRISTS!!1!).

Like the rest of you, I prefer my politician to have some balls. However, I think it's far more important for this one to make it to the White House before he lays those balls out on the table.
posted by skammer at 7:16 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


This will make Snuggly so happy!
posted by homunculus at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2008


(and by 'listen to' I mean 'take into account', not 'blindly obey')
posted by skammer at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2008


No they didn't. It takes 40 votes to filibuster. They had 28.

i didn't say votes, i said numbers. note that the republicans almost always vote in a bloc. that's good party discipline for you. if only the democrats had that.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2008


Well ok, whatever, maybe so. I'd bet instead that the telecom complicity in illegal wiretapping of American citizens goes back way farther than Bush II and people with juice don't want that coming out in lawsuits about the current fracas.

How nice that Obama could join them in complicity. Sure looks like CYA and quid pro quo from here.


Christopher S. Bond , R-Mo., said the bill ended up being essentially what Bush wanted. "There really is not much that is significantly different, save some cosmetic fixes that were requested by the majority party in the House," said Bond, who strongly supports the bill.


To The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau, GOP House Whip Roy Blunt derided the telecom amnesty provision as nothing more than a "formality" which would inevitably lead to the immediate and automatic dismissal of all lawsuits against the telecoms, while Sen. Kit Bond taunted the Democrats for giving away even more than they had to in order to get a deal: "I think the White House got a better deal than they even had hoped to get."

Lichtblau himself noted that "the White House immediately endorsed the proposal" and wrote that the bill "represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute." Reporters Dan Eggen and Paul Kane were even more blunt and derisive in The Washington Post, noting that the Democrats "hand[ed] President Bush one of the last major legislative victories he is likely to achieve"; that "the deal appears to give Bush and his aides, including Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, much of what they sought in a new surveillance law"; and that "the negotiations underscored the political calculation made by many Democrats who were fearful that Republicans would cast them as soft on terrorism during an election year."

posted by krinklyfig at 7:18 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, CNN just reminded me another reason I still prefer Obama to Clinton: that way I don't have to hear as much whining and kvetching from those say anything for pay jackasses James Carville, Lanny Davis, and Howard Wolfson.
posted by orthogonality at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2008


At the end of the day though, what's done is done, and FISA is finally all over except for the hand-wringing.

As a rule, I usually stay out of the threads I start. But it needs to be said that the Constitution and the average American's civil rights have been dealt serious, long-term damage from the precedent this vote creates. I wish I could be as blase about the harm this causes as to call criticism "hand-wringing".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:20 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


MarvinTheCat: With regard to whether telecom immunity really matters, and should they be subjected to fines, etc., that's not really been the major issue. It's more that they can't be investigated for what they did

Hat Maui: the various lawsuits were ... the sole means we had to find out just how bad the law-breaking by the president and the telcos was. now that is lost forever.

Exactly.

People who don't sense the terrible importance of this law: understand that without the opportunity for judicial review provided by FISA, not a soul outside of the president's inner circle can ever know how spying was conducted. No judge will ever see whether wiretaps were made to international calls, or also to domestic conversations, or to the homes and businesses of political rivals. No subpoena, no discovery order can ever turn them up. No witness can ever be produced, no victim confirmed, no list of names read, etc. All phantoms, now.

Now weigh the likelihoods: you have the word of one man, the very same man who denied any breach of FISA in the first place, that surveillance was limited only to exigent international cases. Against that, you have the documented behavior of previous administrations (Nixon, to start with) to show that that surveillance powers can and have been used for political advantage.

Incidentally, Obama's failure has nothing to do with his single vote - it has to do with the twenty odd votes he didn't marshal today. A prospective leader of hundreds of millions should have the skill to tame a handful of bickering old men.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:20 PM on July 9, 2008 [14 favorites]


Also, I thought an interesting part of the article was:

The final bill includes a reaffirmation that the surveillance law is the “exclusive” means of conducting intelligence wiretaps — a provision that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats insisted would prevent Mr. Bush or any future president from evading court scrutiny in the way that the N.S.A. program did.

My sense is that the whole executive power-grab in the administration was not something they were going to willingly pass on to a Democratic president, which made me more worried about what they would be trying around election time. But I'm wondering if they're just going to start intentionally scaling it down.

Of course, part of me was always hoping the powers would remain intact long enough for a vengeful Hilary to turn them against their makers. The administration's assertion that anything the President chooses to do is inherently constitutional was going to open up a whole world of possibilities.
posted by troybob at 7:22 PM on July 9, 2008


Is the honeymoon over yet?

If your vision of a perfect marriage is one where your spouse adheres to every one of your demands lest you berate them and threaten them with your support, then that would explain a lot.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:23 PM on July 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


It's truly mysterious why, time and again, Democrats vote to give enormous power to the least popular president in modern history.

So allow me to don my tin foil hat:

If you were this president, and you had unlimited power to tap the phones and email of anyone you wanted without a warrant, who would you listen in on? Terrorists? Ordinary Americans?

Hell no! You'd listen in on political opponents! The press! CONGRESS.

So why would Congress vote to give him the power to continue to listen in on them? Perhaps he already has something on each of them? Hey, if Obama has ever inadvertently clicked on a link leading to some child porn site... THEY KNOW. Watergate has been officially legalized.

I'll expect the Feds any second now.
posted by fungible at 7:24 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


If your vision of a perfect marriage is one where your spouse adheres to every one of your demands lest you berate them and threaten them with your support, then that would explain a lot.

does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:25 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?

Not if she's Brazilian. Yowza.

posted by kid ichorous at 7:27 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


If your vision of a perfect marriage is one where your spouse adheres to every one of your demands lest you berate them and threaten them with your support, then that would explain a lot.

does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?


Well go ahead and be stupid and divorce her and marry the Chlamydic prostitute who has made it no secret she's going to fuck all your friends and start a war with every couple you know.
posted by cashman at 7:30 PM on July 9, 2008


yeah, that, or i could just remain single.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:36 PM on July 9, 2008


I think he did it because a telecom already has some dirt on him.

Doubtful. I think it has a lot more to do with taking care of business.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:36 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bloody hell. Feinstein I can believe - she sold out a long time ago. But McCaskill? WTF Claire?
posted by ooga_booga at 7:39 PM on July 9, 2008


So a question.

How many here will give money you'd planned to give to Obama to the ACLU or to another candidate?
posted by orthogonality at 7:39 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks Krinklyfig. But then why would Hillary vote against? Again, thanks for putting me on the e-trail.
posted by Flex1970 at 7:41 PM on July 9, 2008


If you were this president, and you had unlimited power to tap the phones and email of anyone you wanted without a warrant, who would you listen in on?

Martin Yan
posted by The Straightener at 7:45 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


yeah, that, or i could just remain single.

You can't. If you're a U.S., you'll be married to a new president come next January. Oh you may not actively say I do, but this aint the Princess Bride, you'll be lawfully wedded.

posted by cashman at 7:46 PM on July 9, 2008


I'd bet instead that the telecom complicity in illegal wiretapping of American citizens goes back way farther than Bush II and people with juice don't want that coming out in lawsuits about the current fracas.

Indeed, this bill is an astounding exception to the government's century-old policy of holding telecom companies accountable and subordinating their interests to the public good.
posted by spiderwire at 7:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Screw Obama! I'm holding out my hopes for ZombieFDR to come and save the day!

Wait, what do you mean FDR tried to change the makeup of the Supreme Court to undo a ruling that declared some of his plans unconstitutional?

Screw FDR! I'm voting for ZombieLincoln!

Wait, he said he was never "in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races"?*

Well I guess I won't vote at all, but I'll definitely whine about whatever candidate is elected! Incidentally, I'm thinking of changing my username to Chicken Little. What do you all think?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm proud of Qwest that they didn't fold before the Feds, but I don't think that the Nacchio thing was retribution. Those of us who live in Colorado certainly saw his nefarious ways, and knew it was only a matter of time before he flaunted them enough that they finally went after his ass. The fact that the Feds ran kind of a slipshod affair will probably end in his favor, and the whole thing was just a sham anyways. The corporates take care of each other.

I'm one of the fence sitters that the candidates are wooing. McCain 2008 doesn't have a chance at my vote, but McCain 2000 did have a crack at it. Nader has never had any possibility (Seriously, the dude is nuts!). Obama still might. The FISA vote does suck in my estimation, and if this is his brand of compromise, then I'm not sure I like it. He needs to woo harder for me to put out.
posted by Eekacat at 7:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's naive to think a politician won't make deals or renege on some of their promises, of course. But the key is, WHICH ones do they cave and which do they stand firm on? I think Obama choked here, because as someone pointed out, it's technical and people don't really follow it. No big gain, no big risk.

A better example is (ancient history here) Sen. Frank Church, who represented Idaho back in the 1970s -- an extremely liberal guy from a very right wing state. How? He had one big compromise, he was as fervent a pro-gun politician as Washington had. That bought him the kind of freedom to investigate and really blow open all of the CIA abuses at the time, which we only know about from the Church Committee (or whatever it was called.) Hopefully as Obama gets more experience he can better finesse his tradeoffs like that.
posted by msalt at 7:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


To what extent would Obama as President be able to dismantle this kind of thing? Not necessarily the telecom immunity aspect (though if it can be retroactively offered, why not retroactively withdrawn?), but is it possible he'll go along enough to get to where he has the power to completely change it?

My fantasy, of course, is that the Obama inauguration balls look just like the baptism scene in The Godfather, with him in public view while CIA planes secretly render Bush & Co. off to interrogation-friendly countries to test the definition of enemy combatant. Then Obama would start dismantling executive power and move the White House to Vegas, where he will try to make the government legitimate.
posted by troybob at 7:48 PM on July 9, 2008


Thanks Krinklyfig. But then why would Hillary vote against? Again, thanks for putting me on the e-trail.

That's an interesting question. Her vote against was not expected. Someone mentioned upthread that she could expend this sort of political capital with her moneyed supporters. I think she may be toying with the idea another potential run in four years, and this is a badge of honor she can put on. She has not previously been all that reliable when it came to bumping up against the money machine, but I do think this is "easier" for her than Obama, who I'm sure had many more eyes watching due to his current stature in the party. She can play the dark horse. I dunno, though. I really didn't think Obama played these sorts of games with votes like this, at least not before now.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:50 PM on July 9, 2008


Honestly, I don't really care for this vote either, but most of the controversy is over what was done in the past. From what I've read, allowing the suits to proceed would be not guarantee a finding of guilt against any of the telcos, and there is considered opinion that they could successfully mount a winning defense. See this article by Cass Sunstein of University of Chicago Law School regarding a conversation he had with Obama on the issue.

What I take away from all of this is the realization of the necessity for compromise in this presidential race. I guess I had some vain hope that Obama was going to be able march to election day surrounded by an untainted aura of shiny newness, and above-it-all-ness. The vision of Obama as some shining knight of liberalism out to wrest the Executive Branch from the G.O.P. is attractive, but most likely one as fated to disappoint as much in November as this vote does now. Realistically, that was never going to happen, and I guess this simply signals that he realizes that its a real fight and its going to mean getting dirty once in a while.

Honestly, while I was pulling for him all through the Dem primaries, I harbored a fear that he wouldn't be up to handling the kind of job that the GOP noise machine was likely to do on him. I would have given better odds to HRC, but after the way she handled the last 6 - 8 weeks of the primaries, I was horrified by the prospect of voting for her in November. So I'm pretty pleased that he seems to be holding up this well, even though its only about a month in.
posted by hwestiii at 7:50 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]




He's talking about Hillary; she voted against the FISA bill.

The comment was discussing the Executive, but the point about votes was vague (Bill never cast votes).

But yes, she's certainly a paragon of consistency and righteousness.
posted by spiderwire at 7:53 PM on July 9, 2008


"I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grass-roots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty,"
Senator Barack Obama

Heh.

So has no one linked to Glen Greenwald?

1 2

While the coverage on how Obama has managed to avoid looking "soft" is pretty entertaining, don't miss the bit where Constitutional Law Professor John Turley describes the 4th Amendment as "eviscerated". Greenwald is also good on the whole "compromise" response given by some of Obama's more fervent followers:

"As Turley says, and as I've written many times over the last two weeks, what is most appalling here beyond the bill itself are the pure falsehoods being spewed to the public about what Congress is doing -- and those falsehoods are largely being spewed not by Republicans.

...

Rather, the insultingly false claims about this bill -- it brings the FISA court back into eavesdropping! it actually improves civil liberties! Obama will now go after the telecoms criminally! Government spying and lawbreaking isn't really that important anyway! -- are being disseminated by the Democratic Congressional leadership and, most of all, by those desperate to glorify Barack Obama and justify anything and everything he does."

---

Some might find this post from last year on FISA interesting. Here's another dead on missive from the past.

And I can't resist quoting Greenwald from this post in 2007,

"What makes this all the more appalling is that it was so easily avoidable. All Democrats had to do was offer legislation to fix the only real gap in FISA and then demand that the President sign it or risk a Terrorist attack. They could have gone on the offensive ahead of time by crafting the legislation and then made it their own cause to demand that the President sign it immediately in order to fix this problem and protect us from the Terrorists."
posted by BigSky at 7:56 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you were this president, and you had unlimited power to tap the phones and email of anyone you wanted without a warrant, who would you listen in on?
If I were this president? I bet that "Git-er-done" guy.
posted by Flunkie at 7:57 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


jeffburdges: Obama hasn't lost my vote per se, but he has lost my interest. So I wont organize my vacation around voting in a battle ground state, and thus my vote "won't count".

...

Probably a good plan.

What is wrong with Thomas, RavinDave? Thomas is hard core originalist, not a "when it suites me" originalist like Scalia.

If there's one lesson to be learned from politics, it's that ideological consistency isn't much use if it's not matched with competency.
posted by spiderwire at 8:01 PM on July 9, 2008


If you were this president, and you had unlimited power to tap the phones and email of anyone you wanted without a warrant, who would you listen in on? Terrorists? Ordinary Americans?

Hell no! You'd listen in on political opponents! The press! CONGRESS.


Interesting that you mention that. First off, I should say that I don't believe that's the impetus here. I think it's money, pure and simple. It's certainly the easiest, most obvious explanation. No other motivations are necessary, and the links between donations and votes are crystal clear. I posted earlier some links about that ...

But let's say you're right. It would be par for the course. There is a long, bi-partisan history of political spying, before FISA, at least. Everyone did it. That was one thing - in particular - that FISA was designed to prevent.

What we've done today is allow this to come back. I'm sure it has already (I'm pretty sure it never stopped, but was probably scaled way back for a while). But now we've made it legitimate. You could be right. That could be their ace in the hole. Who knows? We've given up the ability to find out. We've just given them the key to the memory hole. Good luck getting it back, or anything that ends up there.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:05 PM on July 9, 2008


There is a long, bi-partisan history of political spying, before FISA, at least. Everyone did it.

I should clarify: the executive did it, and this includes Kennedy, Truman, Roosevelt, as well as Nixon, et al.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:07 PM on July 9, 2008


does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?

Post-op MTF transsexuals are women, asshole.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:09 PM on July 9, 2008 [13 favorites]


Any info on how the Senate vote split party-wise? Did any R vote against it? I can see being pissed at the Dems for being lily livered on this, but where is the outrage at the Republicans?

Since 2000, they've been the kind of rubber stamp body that would have made Saddam Hussein proud. They've barely lifted a finger in defense of their own Constitutional powers, and have been nothing but willing hand maidens in the Bush-Cheney efforts to make Congress irrelevant.
posted by hwestiii at 8:16 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?

Post-op MTF transsexuals are women, asshole.


Maybe it was intended as a gender koan.
posted by spiderwire at 8:16 PM on July 9, 2008


Post-op MTF transsexuals are women, asshole.

yeah, my bad. hasty choice in making a crude analogy. the best my limited intellect could muster at the time. i gots to get me some a that retroactive immunity.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:19 PM on July 9, 2008


I should clarify: the executive did it, and this includes Kennedy, Truman, Roosevelt, as well as Nixon, et al.

Nixon wiretapped people?
posted by spiderwire at 8:20 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It keeps coming up, so I'm going to take this opportunity to ask: why is it -so- important to bankrupt the major telcos for obeying the executive branch?

I'll apologize for not reading the entire thread before commenting. The above quoted approach bothers me. Private companies have no obligation to obey the executive when they are breaking the law. That private corporations need a bill to retroactively absolve them of wrong doing does enforces their culpability. It's not unconstitutional to retroactively absolve someone (or something in this case) of a crime, but it's an abuse of power.
posted by ryoshu at 8:21 PM on July 9, 2008


By the way, in case anyone actually wants to look up the offending bit themselves, it is under Section 802(a)(4)(A)(i) of the new Title VIII inserted into FISA.
posted by Electrius at 8:24 PM on July 9, 2008


I think it has a lot more to do with taking care of business.

I think it's money, pure and simple.

Top 20 (Telecom money) Recipients
Rank Candidate Office Amount
1 McCain, John (R) Senate $365,955
2 Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) Senate $246,747
3 Obama, Barack (D) Senate $220,789


I agree with the sentiment, but I'd like to think that it would take more than a couple hundred grand to buy off the next president. I mean, he can already raise that in an hour if he wants.
posted by fungible at 8:25 PM on July 9, 2008


O-bama you refine,
You refine, you blow my mind!
O-bama!
*Clap-clap clap*
O-bama!
*Clap-clap clap*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:27 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


So I wont organize my vacation around voting in a battle ground state, and thus my vote "won't count".

Umm, what country are you from anyway? Because that's not how voting works in the US...

(Is Obama running for President of somewhere else too? That would be so Web 2.0.)
posted by Naberius at 8:28 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


So all these people are pissed because they just discovered that Obama is a politician? Wake me when it starts to be about interns.
posted by hwestiii at 8:32 PM on July 9, 2008


"So all these people are pissed because they just discovered that Obama is a politician?"

If we just wanted someone who could play the game, Hillary was better at that. The reason she lost is because Obama claimed he wasn't going to play the game. He lied. Indeed, I'm wondering if she wasn't the better choice after all now.
posted by Naberius at 8:36 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


So are we ready to vote for Nader yet?
posted by _aa_ at 8:37 PM on July 9, 2008


Alvy Ampersand, that's brilliant! And it made me laugh.
posted by overglow at 8:37 PM on July 9, 2008


Pope Guilty writes "Post-op MTF transsexuals are women, asshole"

Not this derail, not on this issue, please.
posted by orthogonality at 8:38 PM on July 9, 2008


Via Reddit:

"He voted to re-affirm and extend the PATRIOT Act.

"He does not support the Iraq War but has voted to continue funding it. He does support the Afghan War.

"He now supports FISA and telecom immunity as a means of keeping America safe.

"You Obama supporters are suffering battered wives syndrome. How many times is he going to punch you in the face before you realize he's a fucking asshole politician?"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:40 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Q: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:43 PM on July 9, 2008


Specter voted against the Dodd amendment, but otherwise voted identically to Obama. Specter is also pro-choice, so I guess if you think Republican Arlen Specter is the best Democrat for President, you should vote for Barack Obama.

And seriously, no one expects the Republicans to vote for the rule of law or for the Constitution. They are pure cowards.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:45 PM on July 9, 2008


-The stakes are higher than they've been in generations.-

Stavros, I'm choosing to read your eloquent rant without that entirely overused cliché. It's kind of dismissive of the equally grave political and social realities faced by people previously. These elections are always important. In 2044, the 2008 election will have been important, no less than was the case in 1968. There's no need to reach for hyperbole when the present circumstances, after 8 years of criminal worldfuck presided over by the stupidest person ever to hold any political office anywhere, are there for the rhetorical sampling.
posted by peacay at 8:49 PM on July 9, 2008




If we just wanted someone who could play the game, Hillary was better at that. The reason she lost is because Obama claimed he wasn't going to play the game. He lied. Indeed, I'm wondering if she wasn't the better choice after all now.

I don't think you'll ever see anyone elected to the White House who doesn't "play the game". Ralph Nader is someone who doesn't play the game, for example. A truly courageous and principled man, but the only way he'll get to the White House is by going on a tour, or getting an invitation.

I think its a given that Obama is going to play the game. I'd say what's important is the quality of that game. We'll just have to see on that. Clearly a lot of people aren't impressed right now, but there's still a lot of time till November. Then again, there's always McCain. And as someone said earlier in the thread, any vote not for Obama is a vote for McCain.
posted by hwestiii at 8:52 PM on July 9, 2008


Any info on how the Senate vote split party-wise? Did any R vote against it? I can see being pissed at the Dems for being lily livered on this, but where is the outrage at the Republicans?

It's not the Republicans who have been running on the idea of cleaning up Washington. Besides, when you invest yourself in a candidate or party, you do have the ability to speak to them as constituents, maybe even volunteers or donors. That carries some weight, and some responsibility on the other end. If the guy or woman in my corner starts turning against me, they're going to hear about it first.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:56 PM on July 9, 2008


What I take away from all of this is the realization of the necessity for compromise in this presidential race.

This is not a compromise. This is a giveaway to Bush, the telcos and the Republicans. It's a "get out of jail, free" card. We just handed it to them, right as we were starting to look at what they did. This is corruption in action.

Bingaman's amendment was a compromise.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:03 PM on July 9, 2008


If we just wanted someone who could play the game, Hillary was better at that. The reason she lost is because Obama claimed he wasn't going to play the game. He lied. Indeed, I'm wondering if she wasn't the better choice after all now.

*bangs head against desk until sweet unconsciousness descends*
posted by joe lisboa at 9:07 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "Via Reddit:

1. "He voted to re-affirm and extend the PATRIOT Act.

2a. "He does not support the Iraq War but has voted to continue funding it. 2b. He does support the Afghan War.

3. "He now supports FISA and telecom immunity as a means of keeping America safe.
"

1. After sponsoring a replacement bill that replicated the Act's necessary security provisions while dumping the civil liberties violations. And, when that failed in a Republican-controlled Congress, he helped to strip the Patriot Act of its worst excesses.

It wasn't a perfect deal, but the best that could be worked out in that political environment. He could have refused to compromise, but that would have merely led to passage of the original re-authorization bill without the ameliorative amendments.

2a. Of course he voted to fund it. Bush will not pull out the troops, regardless of what Congress does with its purse strings. If the Democrats had somehow mustered a vote to defund the war (politically impossible), it would visit much suffering on the troops in terms of lack of supplies while doing nothing to bring them home. While at the same time inviting dead-obvious "they don't support the troops" attacks from Republicans. As long as we have soldiers in Iraq, we must care for them.

2b. So does most of the rest of the world. (Or at least they did, before the Iraq debacle.) His position is that if we hadn't been distracted by Iraq we'd have done a much more effective job in Afghanistan, wouldn't have lost bin Laden, etc.

3. I've spoken my piece on this already. But essentially, it's a poor move necessitated by the machinations of the presidential race that I expect him to rectify once in office.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:11 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stavros, I'm choosing to read your eloquent rant without that entirely overused cliché.

Well, gracias amigo, but I am aware that it's a cliché. Thing about clichés, though, is that sometimes they're also true.

I believe what I said: this is a very dangerous time we live in, and in nature and extent if the problems the world faces, I reckon it's a point of no return. Provided, of course, that point isn't already in the rear-view mirror.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on July 9, 2008


Is there any reason to believe that, should Obama get elected, he would appoint (and get approved -- we've seen that Congress is no longer a separate branch of the Federal government, but a rubber stamp for the Executive, no matter the party in power) a pro-choice, pro-Constitution Supreme Court justice? I mean, he will be up for re-election in 2012, and "We Have To Compromise," after all.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:18 PM on July 9, 2008


Republicans don't do this, right? That's why they win all the time? Really, I want to know.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:18 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, by "this" I mean "tear apart their own candidates better than the opposition can."
posted by Bookhouse at 9:19 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Er, "spoken my peace."
posted by Rhaomi at 9:20 PM on July 9, 2008


it's a poor move necessitated by the machinations of the presidential race that I expect him to rectify once in office

That seems like sound policy! Give our rights away now, but have faith that someone will win an election and give them back later! History teaches that's usually the way these things go. Even if Obama has to be corrupt now, he can be a better person later on, after he becomes the most powerful person in the world.

Better pray he wins, or we've given it all away for nothing. That would suck, wouldn't it? But if he does, I'm sure that he'll stop being corrupt and keep his promise. That usually happens.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:25 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Republicans don't do this, right? That's why they win all the time?

What, allow complex issues to separate the principled voters from the merely hip? No, they don't have a significant amount of either variable to contend with.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:27 PM on July 9, 2008


Oh, by "this" I mean "tear apart their own candidates better than the opposition can."

Oh, I thought you were going to say, "Hold their candidate to their word."
posted by krinklyfig at 9:28 PM on July 9, 2008


krinklyfig: "That seems like sound policy! Give our rights away now, but have faith that someone will win an election and give them back later! History teaches that's usually the way these things go. Even if Obama has to be corrupt now, he can be a better person later on, after he becomes the most powerful person in the world.

Better pray he wins, or we've given it all away for nothing. That would suck, wouldn't it? But if he does, I'm sure that he'll stop being corrupt and keep his promise. That usually happens.
"

Uncompromising idealism has worked so well for Presidents Kucinich and Gravel.

Look, I admit that it wasn't the right call to make legally. But sometimes you've got to make some concessions to achieve a greater victory. It would have been nice if Obama had delivered a vocal "Nay". But it would not have changed the outcome of the vote, and would be turned against him later.

Another thing: so what if immunity had failed? The Bush administration has had no problems ignoring the law in the past. Just how many subpoenas have his people ignored to little or no repercussions? What would they have done to suppress or interfere with anything that might have come out of the telecom lawsuits?

People act like a decent FISA law would put these issues to rest. But the letter of the law has been no barrier to this president in the past.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:34 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Uncompromising idealism has worked so well for Presidents Kucinich and Gravel.

Opposing government spying is not an ideologically untenable position, by anyone's standards. This was not done for political gain as much as it was for the benefit of their long-standing business partners.

I can bend on a lot, and most of the hot-button political issues I consider fodder and not really as important as most of what the government deals with, so fine if he shifts on that sort of stuff. But this whiffs strongly of corruption. It's not a one-issue type of problem.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:39 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


People act like a decent FISA law would put these issues to rest. But the letter of the law has been no barrier to this president in the past.

There are lawsuits pending that, were this new law not to have miraculously and conveniently intervened, could have involved discovery orders that would bring this administration, and everyone attached to it, to their knees. And, just maybe, to justice.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:43 PM on July 9, 2008


krinklyfig: "Opposing government spying is not an ideologically untenable position, by anyone's standards."

Maybe not, but that's not how this vote is going to be framed in the media. If Hannity, O'Reilly, et al, do their jobs, then the average voter will see this as "The government asked for these companies to cooperate in monitoring terrorist phone calls for the sake of national security, and now the Democrats are trying to punish them for it." Violation of privacy won't enter into the equation. If haven't done anything wrong, then you shouldn't have anything to hide, right? A sizable portion of the electorate nods in agreement.

"This was not done for political gain as much as it was for the benefit of their long-standing business partners."

Absurd. I don't understand how some people believe that Obama allowed himself to bend on this issue for money, especially such a relatively small amount of it. It was a difficult political decision, and that alone.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:47 PM on July 9, 2008


But sometimes you've got to make some concessions to achieve a greater victory.

Show me the polling data that supports this.

What have we "gained?" A political alibi for Obama? At what price?

This depending on politicians does not ever, ever work out. That's why we have the Constitution and the rule of law. Once we give that up and start putting our faith in very powerful people to do the right thing, we've lost our way, completely, no matter who that politician is.

The one thing to remember is that, once the government takes away your rights, it's very, very hard to get them back. FISA was a poor substitute for the courts we are all accountable to, and to think it was prompted by the Nixon years, but it was better than what we have now. And down the line, we will wish we had this bill back.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm gonna invoke a little retroactive immunity and point out that the Salon article in question is Suing George W Bush by Jon Eisenberg, and damn Salon.com's web designer to the circle of Cania.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:49 PM on July 9, 2008


krinklyfig: "Show me the polling data that supports this."

Again, Rasmussen (for example) is showing that Obama is increasingly being perceived as a left-leaning moderate rather than the "the most liberal member of the Senate" meme that right-wing pundits are attempting to spread. Not that being liberal is a bad thing, but it's just not electable right now.

What have we "gained?" A political alibi for Obama? At what price?

At no price. Obama's was not the deciding vote. And I don't see any way that the Democrats in Congress could have prevented its passage, anyhow.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:54 PM on July 9, 2008


Yes, we lost rights to Augustus, but no fear! Marcus Antony will restore them!

well, maybe the Senate, anyway...
posted by dirigibleman at 9:57 PM on July 9, 2008


Uncompromising idealism has worked so well for Presidents Kucinich and Gravel.

Mindless "compromise" worked so well for Presidents Kerry and Gore.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:00 PM on July 9, 2008


Again, Rasmussen (for example) is showing that Obama is increasingly being perceived as a left-leaning moderate rather than the "the most liberal member of the Senate" meme that right-wing pundits are attempting to spread. Not that being liberal is a bad thing, but it's just not electable right now.

I want polling data that shows Americans are favorable to allowing the government to spy on them, and to forgive and forget when it happens, or that they are favorable to candidates for this particular reason. All of the polls I've ever seen show that this issue is a winner for an opposition party. All the polls show people are strongly against government spying or letting them get away with it. I'd be interested in seeing polling to the contrary, because it would be remarkable. Obama has made many shifts recently. None of them bother me that much as this one, because it's not simply ideological nor a political advantage. It's something else.

At no price. Obama's was not the deciding vote. And I don't see any way that the Democrats in Congress could have prevented its passage, anyhow.

At the price of our rights, our ability to hold those accountable who abridge or violate them, our Constitution. My rights. Yours, too. Good lord, this isn't about poor, vulnerable Obama and his political poker hand.

As the presumptive nominee, he is the de facto head of the Democratic Party. He could have put his considerable powers of persuasion to the test, and I'm sure as anything he could have done it. He could have spoken as forcefully and clearly as he did before, on this very same issue. But he caved, gave our rights away, in your estimation for a bit of a shine on his centrist image. Lovely. I'll make sure to thank him down the road, long after he's retired, and we're still dealing with the sad effects of his poor judgment.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:03 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know that all that militaristic posturing really worked for Kerry any better than it did for Dukakis. Compromising his anti-war image was the mistake, I think.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:04 PM on July 9, 2008


could have involved discovery orders that would bring this administration, and everyone attached to it, to their knees. And, just maybe, to justice.

Free Scooter Libby!
posted by spiderwire at 10:09 PM on July 9, 2008


> It's a "get out of jail, free" card. We just handed it to them, right as we were starting to look at what they did. This is corruption in action.

It's even better than that. It's a get (your friends) out of jail free card, a burn-the-evidence so nobody knows exactly what you did anyway card, and it's a deny the same advantage to your enemies card. It's like a trifecta. Christmas came early for the Bush administration this year.

The telcos won't be sued, no evidence of the actual wiretapping will ever come to the surface through discovery, and a big piece of the "Executive privilege" that Bush created for himself has been destroyed before it could be passed along to the next person to inhabit the office, when it looks like that person might be a Democrat.

And they did all this while in the minority, with an almost comically unpopular lame-duck President, because they've done such a job of working the public up that they can get anything they want just by saying "TERROR!" in a slightly raised voice.

Sometimes I think the Democrats just fail at politics. They're just honestly outclassed, and their complete inability to respond to the Right's terrorism strategy has reduced them to one big rubber stamp for the outgoing fascisto-conservative agenda.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:20 PM on July 9, 2008 [12 favorites]


As soon as I saw MSM not push Obama aside - like they did with Gravel, Kucinich, Paul.. I knew he was going to be status quo. People really are gullible dopes.

Especially the ones who use "MSM" as an abbreviation for "not kooky enough for me to trust."

I wont organize my vacation around voting in a battle ground state

What? You can't vote in a state where you're vacationing unless you also live there.
posted by oaf at 10:24 PM on July 9, 2008


You're right, Blazecock, I sounded more glib than I meant to when I said that FISA's finally over. It's not that FISA is an unimportant fight, but rather that it's a doomed fight: months and months of fighting and pushing from progressive quarters only proved decisively that actual support for the Good Fight just wasn't there on Capitol Hill. It's been obvious for quite some time now as progressive sites like Kos focused less and less and whose votes might change and more and more about how to delay the vote and railed against how bad the bill was but without a strategy for defeating it. At the end of the day, there just aren't enough Americans who care about civil liberties or corporate accountability -- and the more politicians have to lose, the less they're willing to deliver their own heads on a platter for this. Obama's vote was disappointing in that regard but not wholly unexpected.

Let me be clear: if Dodd and others had cobbled together enough support for a filibuster and Obama's name wasn't on that list, then I'd be joining in to bust out the torches and pitchforks. But thanks to our media, there's a firm line between being characterized as a principled fighter versus a shrill partisan hack: winning. I have a lot of admiration for people like Feingold who always push the progressive agenda, but that's also why people like him will never be getting near the Presidency. At this current juncture, someone in Obama's position simply can't oppose a reprehensible bill like this unless there's a successful filibuster waiting to happen. Even aside from the OMG TERRAR card, becoming marginalized as an ineffectual partisan shrill would be crippling to Obama's campaign; let's not forget also that the 527 season is just starting to fire up.

It's well-known that this country is inherently conservative, and the lack of proportional representation in the Senate only exacerbates this situation. There are many, many Democrats representing conservative constituencies but very few Republicans representing liberal ones, and thus fights like FISA are always going to be uphill. (Yes, there's nothing inherently conservative or liberal about corporatism and civil liberties, but sadly that's not the way the politics is being playing out.) Obama isn't really a progressive and never explicitly ran as one during the primary, even though he was popular in progressive quarters: he's more of a progressive-friendly moderate, and were he President I think he'd be open to incorporating more of the progressive agenda into his own than any other Democratic nominee in recent memory. But I think losing FISA can become an object lesson for progressives in harnessing the Obama factor. Obama can easily become a tipping point and a powerful popularizer for many causes, but he isn't willing to go down in flames to appease progressive partisans in a doomed pitched battle. He's just a talented politician who seems to have his heart in the right place -- but politics is a game for winners, period.

So the bottom line here is the rallying cry for progressives throughout the primary season: more Democrats, but more importantly, better Democrats. With the very real possibility of a sympathetic President on the horizon, this is a true moment of opportunity for progressive Democrats. FISA only proved how short they still are in their goals. Let the "swing voters" donate to Obama, because progressives need money and energy far more badly elsewhere. Change isn't going to magically happen from the electing of a single President.

krinklyfig : As the presumptive nominee, he is the de facto head of the Democratic Party. He could have put his considerable powers of persuasion to the test, and I'm sure as anything he could have done it.

I doubt it. Obama has far less political leverage than most are crediting him with at this point. Being the presumptive nominee gives him clout with the party faithful (and donors) but isn't worth as much as it sounds under the collegial Senate system. By comparison: how many successful, high profile, and contentious Senate fights did Kerry lead during his Presidential campaign? At this point, Obama is just the junior Senator from Illinois with an abnormally high media profile who's also spending every available moment from the Senate at his other job: running for President. As much as we might wish otherwise, FISA is an important issue during the Democratic primaries but sadly not nearly as much so during the general election. You can blame the American electorate for worrying more about jobs, gas prices, mortgages, Iraq, and health insurance than about that ol' Bill of Rights of theirs.
posted by DaShiv at 10:25 PM on July 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


krinklyfig: "I want polling data that shows Americans are favorable to allowing the government to spy on them, and to forgive and forget when it happens, or that they are favorable to candidates for this particular reason. All of the polls I've ever seen show that this issue is a winner for an opposition party. All the polls show people are strongly against government spying or letting them get away with it. I'd be interested in seeing polling to the contrary, because it would be remarkable. Obama has made many shifts recently. None of them bother me that much as this one, because it's not simply ideological nor a political advantage. It's something else.

I haven't seen polls like that, and anyway I suspect that a low-information voter would answer such a poll differently before the issue came to a head. Prior to this vote the FISA controversy was an obscure point of legalism to most people, as MarvinTheCat's story attests. Frame it as a question of government spying, and, without anything else to go on, folks will bristle. But that's not how they would see the issue portrayed if this struggle had expanded further and become more of a political issue. I don't have the polling to back that up, but it is consistent with my experiences with people here in a state like Alabama.

At the price of our rights, our ability to hold those accountable who abridge or violate them, our Constitution. My rights. Yours, too. Good lord, this isn't about poor, vulnerable Obama and his political poker hand.

I meant there was no price in that Obama did not change the outcome with his vote. It most likely would have passed even if he had made a stand. So there was no more lost to us in his voting for it since its passage was a foregone conclusion.

As for the price paid in passing it, period? It is heavy, I admit. But I don't see how it could have been avoided. And I hope to see it reversed when we have a stronger majority and a Democratic president.

As the presumptive nominee, he is the de facto head of the Democratic Party. He could have put his considerable powers of persuasion to the test, and I'm sure as anything he could have done it. He could have spoken as forcefully and clearly as he did before, on this very same issue."

I don't know about that. Many of the Democrats that voted for the bill were political conservatives from red states, whose seats are very vulnerable to Republican attack. I doubt many of them would be willing to toe the progressive line on this issue, eloquent speech or no.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:26 PM on July 9, 2008


You know what? I bet Obama was looking for the "present" button and not the "yea" button.
posted by oaf at 10:40 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes. That was a low blow.
posted by oaf at 10:40 PM on July 9, 2008


America: Damned If You Do, and Damned If You Don't. Less damned with Obama, IMO. I think the guy will do a helluva lot more good for the country than McCain, and far less bad.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on July 9, 2008


There are lawsuits pending that, were this new law not to have miraculously and conveniently intervened, could have involved discovery orders that would bring this administration, and everyone attached to it, to their knees. And, just maybe, to justice.

And if there is any measurable threat that the principal members of this administration were in any danger of being brought "to their knees, and just maybe, to justice," I sincerely believe that THEY WILL NEVER LEAVE THE WHITE HOUSE. They'll trump up a "National Emergency", order the Congress dissolved, build firewalls around themselves (using their loyal plebes in the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to do anything the Armed Forces would be too honorable to do) and officially put the rest of the Constitution in the shredder. If handled properly, Bush's approval rating will increase enough that the actions will only be called "questionable" and "controversial" by most of the Liberal Media, and depending on the "Emergency" most Americans will be hiding under their beds from the Terrorist Boogiemen and grudgingly allowing the folks in charge to take care of it.

I believe there is one very good reason Impeachment was taken 'off the table', and that is because the President and Vice President are so powerful right now, in ways that are definitely NOT in the Constitution, they can sneer right back "No, WE impeach YOU" and lock Congress out of the Capitol.

They might be very afraid of facing life Out of Power... and they honestly should. And if the passing of the FISA farce bill (and I am one who agrees that retroactive Telecom immunity was not the WORST thing about it) will help give them a sense of security, the feeling that even that Obama dude won't get them thrown in jail, it may turn out to be a very important step toward ending our long National nightmare.

Giving them a "Get Out of Jail Free" card could be the only way to ensure they "Get Out of the White House".
posted by wendell at 10:42 PM on July 9, 2008


Kadin2048 writes "Sometimes I think the Democrats just fail at politics. They're just honestly outclassed,"

Or, complicit. I mean, they're not so incompetent they can't protect the interests of the trial lawyers, the MPAA and RIAA, big Pharma, the banking industry (remember the bankruptcy bill?), and the military-industrial complex (hoe did DiFi's husband get so rich?).

And they certainly keep themselves in office term after term, having cynically concluded with Republicans to gerrymander one-party-majority congressional districts. And even when it was obvious that Droopy Joe Lieberman was no real Democrat, the party rushed to his aid (Obama included) and kept him in office. (More than Republicans did for Lincoln Chafee; note that the Dem we worked so hard to replace Chafee with also voted for FISA.)

They only seem to be "outclassed" when it comes to working for us, working for our rights, working for the constituents they claim to represent.

Then every two years then come to us and tell us that oh, they need our money, our volunteer time, and our votes, or else the Republicans will win. And we fall in line, because what choice do we have, bad Democrat is better than worse Republican. The Dems have incentive to keep "worse" around to keep us in line, and "worse" likes enough "bad" to scare their constituents into line.
posted by orthogonality at 10:43 PM on July 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't know about that. Many of the Democrats that voted for the bill were political conservatives from red states, whose seats are very vulnerable to Republican attack. I doubt many of them would be willing to toe the progressive line on this issue, eloquent speech or no.

It's late here, and I need to go to bed, but I wanted to say one more thing.

The main reason this bothers a lot of Obama supporters is because he ran on a ticket with integrity as the core message. He was a different candidate, one who didn't play old politics, one who didn't cater to moneyed interests which can do some real damage, when they're allowed to run amok. Well, here's his first test of that core message, of his integrity. He could have easily stood firm on this issue and still would have been seen as more centrist by his other actions. And it's not a political calculation that I want a politician making, using my rights as ballast that can be discarded when inconvenient.

As the candidate of integrity, I expected him to be a politician and play to the conservatives, but in a way that reflected that integrity. Up until now, he was very good at doing just that. Watching him thread the needle and come out looking good was an amazing thing. He always seemed to do the right thing, to come through when it counted, every time. Sure, a few gaffes, but nothing that stunk, nothing that spelled craven and crass big money politics. He could even speak to evangelicals and appeal to their higher natures. Never seen anything like it. Then he does something like this, and there's just no accounting for it. It's a hard dose of reality. It doesn't look like compromise. It stinks. And it just completely ruins his core message. Without that, a good portion of his fundraising base, those millions of small donors, lose their enthusiasm. And that trickles down into creating another machine politics campaign. And it's just so damn depressing. Because I really think he had a great chance by running as the real deal, as the dependable guy, for once, as the first politician to come around in a long time who had the ability and the wherewithal to see it through.

And it breaks my heart. He may well lose, though I really hope not. He may regret stripping away the enthusiasm from so many of his supporters. I hope he thinks very hard about the fact that he failed at leadership when it cost us so dearly. And I hope his supporters that work for him from this point onward remember to keep their eye on the prize, and no, that's not Obama. He's a great politician in a lot of ways, but politicians come and go, and what he does now will last longer than his career. The goal is not a good politician. The goal is good government, so politicians will be held to account and represent the interests of the people.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:51 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe not, but that's not how this vote is going to be framed in the media. If Hannity, O'Reilly, et al, do their jobs, then the average voter will see this as "The government asked for these companies to cooperate in monitoring terrorist phone calls for the sake of national security, and now the Democrats are trying to punish them for it."

Oh this is such a pathetic line of argument. Of "Hannity, O'Reilly, et al" were able to control the mind of the "Average voter" then what happened in 2006? Why was Obama way ahead in the polls before this came up, when he had previously opposed this bullshit.

And that's the thing, anything that could be said about Obama if he opposed this could already be said about him because he opposed this in the past, as the Protect America Act was expiring. Letting the PAA expire (which we did) would have put Americans in more danger then letting the few remaining wiretaps expire, because those wiretaps could have been switched over to regular FISA taps in the months between when PAA expired and now.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on July 9, 2008


How many here will give money you'd planned to give to Obama to the ACLU or to another candidate?

I don't know. I'm going to keep my checkbook closed for the time being.
posted by oaf at 10:55 PM on July 9, 2008


delmoi: [I]f "Hannity, O'Reilly, et al" were able to control the mind of the "Average voter" then what happened in 2006?

Heck ... they don't even have any juice with their OWN crowd. Look how much energy they expended to keep the GOP nomination from McCain. Day after day after day, unrelenting snipage and vilification in a frantic attempt to keep him from the big chair.
posted by RavinDave at 11:11 PM on July 9, 2008


You know what? I bet Obama was looking for the "present" button and not the "yea" button.

Yes. That was a low blow.


Rather, a blow for truth.

Here's another one: the fact that Obama has actually voted for more war funding than Clinton. He's the biggest lie since Reagan.
posted by MetaMan at 11:21 PM on July 9, 2008


Look, I admit that it wasn't the right call to make legally. But sometimes you've got to make some concessions to achieve a greater victory.


Yeah, just another Obama "change" that you can 'believe' in, right?
posted by MetaMan at 11:28 PM on July 9, 2008


Oh this is such a pathetic line of argument. Of "Hannity, O'Reilly, et al" were able to control the mind of the "Average voter" then what happened in 2006?

'Et al' is everyone else in the media: MSNBC, CNN, the Nets, etc. And they've managed to convince everyone (despite no evidence) that Obama has done a 180 on Iraq (see: this post.) I doubt they'd have trouble convincing people that his Nay FISA vote was a YAY! TERRUR! vote. People are idiots, remember?

There's a reason candidates don't go out on idealogical limbs during election season -- they're not fucking morons. I, for one, am grateful for that.
posted by skammer at 11:59 PM on July 9, 2008


To put it more politely, there's a reason politicians tack to the center during an election -- they have to. It's a sad fact of life.
posted by skammer at 12:03 AM on July 10, 2008


There's a reason candidates don't go out on idealogical limbs during election season -- they're not fucking morons.

Exactly! They just can't connect with regular Americans.
posted by spiderwire at 12:17 AM on July 10, 2008


Oh, welcome back MetaMan: He's [Obama's] the biggest lie since Reagan.

Your comments are coming in on a ten-year lag. You should get that checked out.
posted by spiderwire at 12:19 AM on July 10, 2008


To put it more politely, there's a reason politicians tack to the center during an election -- they have to. It's a sad fact of life.

Yeah, like voting on one of the most egregious affronts to the 4th Amendment, ever? Tack to the center? How about right field, on the warning track, jumping toward the foul pole?

The thing that's sad is the sad and pathetic rationales that people make for Obama. Real people who believed in "change". What a f****** joke!

Why didn't he vote "no" and say that he would reserve the right to suspend 4th amendment rights, like FDR did, in WWII, if necessary.

This was a weak move by Obama, one of many that he has made since faking out his base in the primaries.

Looks like 18+ million changelings have been orphaned.

And the Democratic Party, which I will soon no longer be a part of, screw 'em!
posted by MetaMan at 12:24 AM on July 10, 2008


Your comments are coming in on a ten-year lag.

The only lag I see is between Obama's words and his actions. I tried to warn you.
posted by MetaMan at 1:05 AM on July 10, 2008


Oh jesus, was this idiot banned and now he's back, or what? Like political threads aren't fractious enough, we need a dedicated troll to stir things up and make sure nothing but argument happens?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:30 AM on July 10, 2008


For any ConLaw people out there in the blue: the new bill grants retroactive immunity for civil offenses to something that may have been illegal. That squashes almost all of the current cases pending (there is one case pending that directly implicates the government and has standing). If Congress were to rewrite this law, could the violaters still be held accountable? e.g. Theft is illegal. Congress passes a law after I steal from someone and makes theft legal. If Congress subseuqently makes theft illegal again, the same way it was illegal before, can I still be held liable?
posted by ryoshu at 1:31 AM on July 10, 2008


And this would be one of the many hundreds of thousands of reasons why neither I nor my family members get involved in US politics. Honestly, between the illusion of choice, the golden cage and the unstable economy, I'm having a hard time deciding why I'm leaving the country behind for good.
posted by electronslave at 1:57 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there's anything that can re-ignite my support for Obama, it's going to be another round of MetaMan bullshit. I think I'd be happy to vote for Obama just to tweak him at this point.
posted by namespan at 2:13 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Iraq thing is a non-story, an over parsing of a statement that isn't different from things he's said in the past.

This FISA thing, though, is troubling. The shine of Obama as a crusader against the bad guys has dimmed, at least a bit. It's kind of amazing just how spineless Democrats become just before an election, because Obama is not alone on this. The other yellow-bellied act the Democrats have done this week is not call Karl Rove on his refusal to testify on the Don Siegelman affair. That's a jailable offense, but the no Dems want to rock the boat...because of the election.
posted by zardoz at 2:35 AM on July 10, 2008


does it matter that your wife told you she was a woman and now it turns out she's a post-op transsexual?

Speaking as a Canadian, I would be more concerned if it turned out that my wife supports this fucking bill. You people, and by extension, us, really are fucked.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:54 AM on July 10, 2008


FROST: The wave of dissent, occasionally violent, which followed in the wake of the Cambodian incursion, prompted President Nixon to demand better intelligence about the people who were opposing him. To this end, the Deputy White House Counsel, Tom Huston, arranged a series of meetings with representatives of the CIA, the FBI, and other police and intelligence agencies.

These meetings produced a plan, the Huston Plan, which advocated the systematic use of wiretappings, burglaries, or so-called black bag jobs, mail openings and infiltration against antiwar groups and others. Some of these activities, as Huston emphasized to Nixon, were clearly illegal. Nevertheless, the president approved the plan. Five days later, after opposition from J. Edgar Hoover, the plan was withdrawn, but the president's approval was later to be listed in the Articles of Impeachment as an alleged abuse of presidential power.

FROST: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

FROST: By definition.

NIXON:
Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:00 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


So allowing these telecoms off the hook for their illegal wiretapping is tantamount to saying that you can get away with just about anything as long as someone in a position of power told you it was cool. You always have a moral choice, see also: Nuremberg Defense.

Is there anything about that "is tantamount to saying" that strikes you as poorly thought out and in need of elaboration? Or perhaps was it comparing wiretapping to the genocidal murder of millions of innocent people?

Sometimes people do things in good faith, or in the best faith available to them, and in those situations we as a society should consider reconciliation rather than endless resentful revenge.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:48 PM on July 9 [+] [!]


Sorry AP, I thought you were actually asking a question, not looking for an argument. But ok, I'll bite.

FISA was created in 1978 as a direct result of the actions of the NSA and Nixon's executive branch during Projects MINARET and SHAMROCK. At the time, they were operating in a bit of a legal gray area: while there were no laws on the books that expressly forbade what they were doing, when it came to the harsh light of day, everyone was pretty sure that it ran against both the spirit and the letter of the fourth amendment. When these programs started to take some heat, Lew Allen decided to shut them down of his own accord. But FISA's major purpose was to set in place guidelines for surveillance and wiretapping, precisely so something like this never happened again. So the ones giving the orders knew what they were doing was seriously questionable if not flat out wrong. No good faith over here!

On the same token, if you honestly believe that giant multinational telecoms don't know the the laws that govern them (privacy laws included) to the letter, you seriously underestimate the American propensity to cover one's ass. Interesting, everyone over here knows what they are doing is illegal too!

So both sides of this mess know what they are doing is wrong. GWB and Co. decided to interpret the law in new! and! exciting! ways, the most important interpretation being one of United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18. They unilaterally decided that USSID 18 meant that they could fart around and do whatever the fuck they want, because I'm the PRESIDENT god-dammit! At the same time, from what I've heard, it sounds like the Exec's modus operandi was damn close to that of MINARET, precisely the type of situation that FISA was created to stop. (I have no source for that, however, and may have just made it up whole cloth.) But I brought up the Nuremberg defense because it is the most prominent example that in international law, not just American, the defense "He told me to do it" just won't cut it. I'm sure you've also heard the judicial mantra which says ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Well this time these companies actually knew what they were doing was wrong, and did it anyway! So this vote is essentially a threat that undermines the very principles that our country was founded on, namely a system of checks and balances and an inherent right to privacy.


On a different note, I know I've read some damn good arguments around here that crush the "If you're not breaking the law you've got nothing to hide" rationalization. Anybody care to point a few out to me?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 3:45 AM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have neither the time nor inclination to read the entire thread. But I have some words to say.

Dogs and cats, can live together! Anything you want, goes. There is no justice, and no law. Everything is null and void.

Western Civilization exists by social contract. The social contract has been rendered null and void. The people who have lied and conned their ways into high offices have revealed themselves as fools. They have broken that which must not be violated.

The head has been removed from civil society's shoulders. What remains is mimicry of a functioning society. While many otherwise good people continue through the motions of a functioning society, the thieves are stealing anything they can, as honor itself is raped.

Those Noble Ladies we call "Liberty" and "Justice" await, well-armed, in case we should choose to remember them. But only We the People can summon their return.

Tyrants and patriots. Tyrants and patriots. Tyrants and patriots. Patriotism is dead? Tyrants can only make prosperity with blood, and it isn't their own. A person may say sell their own soul for a mistaken value. A tyrant will sell your soul in the name of political expediency.
posted by Goofyy at 3:47 AM on July 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Nice post Goofyy. Pretty much right on the money.

Also it's pretty obvious that the "professionals" are now advising Obama on how to take the election, hey they did great in 2000 and 2004.

If he had voted against the bill he'd be hammered by the repubs and our plutocratic media hamstrung like the inventor of the internet.

This one is doubtful, but maybe he did this to prevent the destruction of evidence, not from the telcos but the current admin, the one he hopes to replace.

If he's perceived as enough of an "insider" by Bushco, mayyyyybe they'll be less shredded paper to sift through.
posted by Max Power at 5:24 AM on July 10, 2008


Sorry AP, I thought you were actually asking a question, not looking for an argument.

I was, and am, asking a question. When the answers all involve comparisons to Hitler's Germany, I find that pointing out the loose thinking involved in such analogies is helpful in eliciting real answers. Moreover, I'm not interested in debating the FISA court itself; if you feel that wiretapping for intelligence (not criminal prosecution) purposes is intrinsically a violation of civil liberties, I respectfully disagree, but I think it's irrelevant to the question of immunity. Whether it violates some ideal set of civil liberties or not, the FISA court is a legal and constitutionally sound body.

But I brought up the Nuremberg defense because it is the most prominent example that in international law, not just American, the defense "He told me to do it" just won't cut it.

Well, when the you're defending a war crime or human rights violation, I'd agree that the Nuremburg defense is inadequate. But in a situation like the one in the US, where wiretapping is -often- legal and above board, "he told me to do it" does become an affirmative defense. This is especially true when Congress passes a broad authorization of force that was drafted and written purely for the purpose of justifying the executive's response to 9/11, whatever that might turn out to be. Serious, liberal scholars like Cass Sunstein are wondering whether the wiretapping was actually legal: "If Osama Bin Laden is calling New York, it's clear, I think, that the AUMF allows the President to listen to the call."

So there is and was a genuine question for the telcos about what the right thing to do was: the right legal thing to do, and, despite the outrage, the right moral thing to do, since it's implicitly immoral to retreat to legal abstractions when your countrymen are being attacked. It's -not- clearcut, and the grant of immunity largely respects the deeply ambiguous moral and legal choice the telcos made, and, moreover, were forced to make without vetting the question publicly or bringing in external legal counsel due to the supposed 'security' concerns.

If the Bush administration is the bad actor here, why pick on their victims? Why not go after them directly? Moreover, the current administration has done much more evil things than listen to telephone conversations: they've tortured, they've initiated wars of aggression, they've buggered the economic well-being they inherited from their predecessors for a payday, destroying major gains in economic justice out of greed, they've used trumped-up criminal prosecutions to win elections, they've failed to care for the victims of natural disasters with anything approaching compassion or responsibility, they've destroyed our faith in government and shred the legitimacy that we need if we're to respond to future challenges collectively. These are good reasons to be outraged, and to vote the bastards out, but when you take all the outrage and direct it at some stupid phone companies, I start to see evidence of projection. We can't do anything to remove Bush from office right now, so out of frustration some people start looking for other scapegoats, and take all their rage out on these stand-ins for the real object.

Now, I'm not trying to start an argument, but I am fishing for a criticism of the retroactive immunity that can actually encompass these concerns. I'll happily agree that this bill is a major injustice if someone can provide a response that's actually responsive.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:28 AM on July 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have neither the time nor inclination to read the entire thread. But I have some words to say.

I'm sure, having not bothered to read other people's thoughts and arguments, you will provide some truly reasonable, thoughtful, and persuasive ideas that will help this discussion.

The head has been removed from civil society's shoulders. What remains is mimicry of a functioning society. While many otherwise good people continue through the motions of a functioning society, the thieves are stealing anything they can, as honor itself is raped.

Nevermind.

(Maybe I'm being a hypocrite, but at least I read the whole thread before being dramatic.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:15 AM on July 10, 2008


Hey! The politician's being a politician! Look, everybody!

And I was just about to drink the Flavor Aid.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:00 AM on July 10, 2008


Articles of Impeachment Adopted by the Committee on the Judiciary, July 27, 1974:
He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
FISA was put into place to prevent Nixon's impeachable offenses. Bush broke the law. Impeachment should be on the table when a president breaks a law that another president was nearly impeached for.

justifying the executive's response to 9/11

The wiretapping started before 9/11.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:17 AM on July 10, 2008


Solon and Thanks:
Did it ever occur to you that I've been reading and hearing about this issue for days? Or that the essential concept of which I wrote, that of the broken social contract, is not a new idea to me, but this merely became the moment at which I wrote?

Or did you not stop to think at all (perhaps being to weary from all that reading) before the snark?

Oh, and so clever to dismiss my words as mere "drama". That makes it much easier to continue with "life as usual", rather than having to actually think about some action you might take. It's just Goofyy being "dramatic".

Nothing is really serious, it's all just "drama". That means you can ignore it, right? Tens of thousands dead, the Constitution blatantly disregarded, the nation in deep deep debt. All so much drama, I'm sure. Nothing to worry about, just drama.

How many generations will it take to pay back the debt in the Federal government? How many more generations to pay restitution to the victims of illegal aggression? Oh dear, more drama. Mustn't think in those terms, it will harsh your mellow! Oh dear! Hands on my ears! LALALALALALA!
posted by Goofyy at 7:19 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that many metafilter folk are intelligent and informed, but so many people in this thread cannot seem to see the forest for the trees.

Take a step back and watch some Fox News or something to get a more realistic perception about this election and what half the people in this country (or more) actually believe.

For example, my sister was talking to my mom the other day and my mom said she didn't think we should let Arabs into the USA.

My sister said: "Maybe we should just put them in internment camps."

My mom said: "Yeah, that might be a good idea."

My dad (her husband) is JAPANESE!!!!!! And my mom wasn't joking. And she's got 2 masters degrees. My dad has a PhD and a huge hard on for Ann Coulter. They're not even totally stupid people.

There are lots of people out there who believe totally ridiculous shit, who vote consistently for right-wing candidates who are very, very different from Barack Obama.

This isn't a joke, and as important as FISA, and many of these issues are, I don't think progressives can win by being totally insular and ignoring that there's a whole other side to the fight.
posted by snofoam at 7:20 AM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


News flash: Obama is basically a centrist. Didn't we know this all along?

Just because the Republican party calls him a "liberal" like it's something dirty doesn't mean it's true.


This is the USA, there is no actual left.
posted by Foosnark at 7:28 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Retroactive immunity for the telecoms is unconstitutional"

I don't think you're qualified to make that determination, unless... oh... wait... Nino, is that you?
posted by jock@law at 7:38 AM on July 10, 2008


Solon and Thanks:
Did it ever occur to you that I've been reading and hearing about this issue for days? Or that the essential concept of which I wrote, that of the broken social contract, is not a new idea to me, but this merely became the moment at which I wrote?

Or did you not stop to think at all (perhaps being to weary from all that reading) before the snark?


You're the one who essentially said, "I didn't feel like reading any of your opinions, but please listen to mine." I'm sorry if you can't understand why I found that snark-worthy.

Saying that "honor itself is raped" is a dramatic and unhelpful statement, in my eyes, that does not contribute to a healthy political discussion.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:46 AM on July 10, 2008


I am fishing for a criticism of the retroactive immunity that can actually encompass these concerns.

I think the general idea was that if telecom immunity passed, then the one clear chance to finally find out the extent of the illegal wiretapping would be eliminated. It's now very likely - barring a very unlikely criminal investigation by an Obama administration - that we will never know.

And if you think it's possible that Bush's wiretapping was legal, that's a lot to swallow. One of the big stumbling blocks for senators voting on this bill is that they were granting immunity but they didn't know what for. If it was for actual terrorist phone calls, we'd be hearing about it.
posted by fungible at 7:58 AM on July 10, 2008


But I think losing FISA can become an object lesson for progressives in harnessing the Obama factor. Obama can easily become a tipping point and a powerful popularizer for many causes, but he isn't willing to go down in flames to appease progressive partisans in a doomed pitched battle

I know what you're saying, DaShiv, but making FISA into a "progressive cause" does a disservice to civil rights granted to all Americans along the political spectrum. Conservatives should be as concerned about illegal surveillance as anyone else.

Trying to lose the fight and win the war through right-centrism got Gore and Kerry nowhere. Maybe Obama needs to lose his war as well — and we have to live through another two terms of a Bush presidency — for the Democratic Party, for the country, to finally learn this lesson.

You can blame the American electorate for worrying more about jobs, gas prices, mortgages, Iraq, and health insurance than about that ol' Bill of Rights of theirs.

No, thanks. I'd prefer to place scrutiny squarely on people like Obama, who cast yea votes for laws like these.

The American electorate will always have to worry about paying the bills, regardless of who is in charge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:58 AM on July 10, 2008


I know what you're saying, DaShiv, but making FISA into a "progressive cause" does a disservice to civil rights granted to all Americans along the political spectrum. Conservatives should be as concerned about illegal surveillance as anyone else.

I think this comment does a pretty good job of illustrating the confusion in this thread between the real and some idealized America. DaShiv isn't responsible for making FISA a progressive cause. This is basically acknowledged when you say conservatives "should be" concerned about it. In the real world, they don't. They would rather be "tough on terror" than protect their own civil liberties (or, at least some of them).

No one would vote for real-world Obama if we lived in some magical world where everyone cared about constitutional rights and universal healthcare and alternative energy and not having wars.
posted by snofoam at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


oops, feel free to read that as either:

"In the real world, they don't (be concerned about it)."

or just the more traditional

"In the real world, they aren't."
posted by snofoam at 8:15 AM on July 10, 2008


"Stop looking for heroes, and stop flying into hysterical tizzies when your fantasy-land Defenders of Truth and Justice show they are less perfect than you'd like them to be."

Ummmm...... no. I don't think I'll be taking that advice.
posted by Ragma at 8:35 AM on July 10, 2008


As much as I'm upset by this reversal, particularly since it has dealt a major blow to the rights of Americans, I think the thing I'm most upset about is the fact that Obama had an opportunity to lead and did not do it. This whole thing could have been a time for his ability to lead to shine through: you know that you're on the weak side of perceptions, but you swing people around to your point of view. He could have re-framed this whole debate into we don't need to give up our right not to be spied on to be safe He's been set up as the second coming of Lincoln, but I wonder why he hasn't taken Lincoln's Cooper Union Address, the situation Lincoln faced before it, and the resulting turning of the tide to heart.

"Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

Indeed. I'm so very disappointed.

If you care about this fight, I second the call up-thread to shift some donations that were intended for Obama over to the EFF and ACLU. You can donate to these organizations even if you aren't a citizen or resident of the US.
posted by mzanatta at 8:38 AM on July 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


This isn't shocking or surprising. This is how Obama works.
Obama is always disappointing people who feel that he gives too much respect or yields too much ground to the other side, rather than fighting aggressively for his principles. “In law school, we had a seminar together and Charles Fried, who is very conservative, was one of our speakers,” Cassandra Butts says. “The issue of the Second Amendment came up and Fried is pretty much a Second Amendment absolutist. One of our classmates was in favor of gun control—he’d come from an urban environment where guns were a big issue. And, while Barack agreed with our classmate, he was much more willing to hear Fried out—he was very moved by the fact that Fried grew up in the Soviet bloc, where they didn’t have those freedoms. After the class, our classmate was still challenging Fried and Barack was just not as passionate and I didn’t understand that.” Recently, Obama said that if Bush decided to veto a military spending bill on the ground that it included a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, he, Obama, would support removing the timetable in order to pass the bill. Liberal bloggers were irate at this capitulation, but the writer Samantha Power, who has worked for Obama on foreign policy, says, “Standing on one side of the room with his arms folded is just not his M.O.”
posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The wiretapping started before 9/11.

Cite please?
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:13 AM on July 10, 2008






I support donating to ACLU, etc. and I don't agree with the FISA vote.

But also, I would like the more progressive presidential candidate to win the election this November.

Unless someone can come up with a better way of doing this, I'm going to use my time, money and energy supporting Barack Obama.

There are threats to stop donating, or not vote for Obama, etc. in this thread. What does this accomplish?

How about we make our opinions known AND do what we can to get a better outcome in Nov.?
posted by snofoam at 9:32 AM on July 10, 2008


There are threats to stop donating, or not vote for Obama, etc. in this thread. What does this accomplish?

It sends an important message to the party machine.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:39 AM on July 10, 2008


The wiretapping started before 9/11.

Cite please?


That's easy. I remember running across it because of QWest. The CEO of QWest alleged that the Bush administration approached all of the major telcos when they took office and wanted to do warrantless wiretapping (within a week, iirc). QWest said no and the CEO was prosecuted for something unrelated.

Before this devolves into some chants of conspiracy, think Don Siegelman. Given the well documented lack of interest in terrorism demonstrated by this administration pre-9/11, why would they have any interest in warrantless domestic surveillance?

This is the question people keep missing about the entire situation. Quashing the lawsuits, by granting immunity, prevents discovery about this and subsequent questions.

To put my tinfoil hat on for a second, imagine what the Bush administration could dig up if it was able to monitor the calls of congresscritters? If you don't think this is possible, I don't think you've been paying attention.
posted by ryoshu at 9:48 AM on July 10, 2008 [4 favorites]






The Spying Started Before September 11 -- That's The Whole Point

Thanks homunculus. That goes a ways towards the serious criticism one would hope for.

I'm a little embarrassed by this "Saudis did 9/11? Doh!" moment, but this little tidbit could be a little better publicized. It ought to be front-and-center on all discussions of the bill and immunity and everything else related to it. I even knew that Qwest had refused to participate in the program, but somehow it doesn't come up very often that this was a pre-9/11, and more importantly, pre-AUMF move. If you look at the conversations people like Sunstein and Obama have been having, mostly they assume that this is post-AUMF move in their criticisms on the legality issue.

I'm going to digest this for a little bit, but it does raise the question: if we have Qwest to testify and offer evidence, especially if there was retaliation that they could sue for, what does discovery from the other telcos add?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:22 AM on July 10, 2008


I find it interesting that there's a deep belief expressed in this thread in an ideal notion of "America" and "American values" that Obama is taken to have betrayed. And yet, it's curious that in over 200 years of its existence, there has never once been an American president who the typical Mefite would be likely to admire who has not committed far more egregious sins of political expediency or infringement of rights than this pretty run-of-the-mill piece of congressional nose-holding. Lincoln? FDR? JFK? Puh-leese. By the standards of rigid ideological purity you're demanding of Obama, they're all turncoats of the worst kind.

So...Obama is being asked to live up to an ideal America which, apparently, has never--in over two centuries--had a president worthy of its excellence. Well, perhaps that's true. And maybe the lesson to be learnt from that is that it's better to just abandon the political process as hopelessly corrupt, to refuse to vote for the guy who'll give you 70% of what you want rather than the guy who'll give you 40% of what you want, because the only way to teach those 40%ers is to let them run the place into the ground while you wait for Mr 100%. Hell--it can't take more than four or five more centuries for him/her to show up, can it? What harm could another few centuries of President Bush clones do?

On the other hand, maybe the lesson to be learnt here is that politics is a messy process that always involves difficult compromises. That throwing up your hands in horror at the "cynicism" of politicians is a good way of empowering those who are in fact nothing but cynics, and disempowering those people of good will who do happen to recognize that politics is the art of the possible. Maybe it means recognizing that it's more important that Congress actually gets legislation passed clarifying that all searches must be approved by the courts than it is to go on a fishing expedition for a evidence that might lead to perp-walks for Bush and Rove (which, from the evidence of the thread up above, is the only outcome from suing the telecoms that most of you are really hoping for).

It's been said for a long time that the reason it's so hard for people to move from Senator to President is that anyone involved in the real political sausage-factory that is Congress will have too many votes on their record that can be used in attack ads against them. Political consultants claim that the general public is too ignorant about the political process to understand what anyone remotely connected with any real-world political process knows, that if a legislative body is going to achieve anything at all people have to be willing to vote for bills not every part of which they approve of. I always hoped that this was taking too pessimistic a view of people's political savvy, but the whole bullshit "flip-flopper" thing about Kerry last time around, and now this stuff about Obama pretty much proves their point.
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2008 [11 favorites]


if we have Qwest to testify and offer evidence, especially if there was retaliation that they could sue for, what does discovery from the other telcos add?

We find out about the actual scope of the programs versus the proposed scope. Another thing that gets lost in the discussion of warrantless wiretapping is how many programs the administration is running. We've heard about the TSP (terrorist surveillance program), but more programs exist beyond that. At the very least, we also have the NSA snooping on domestic internet traffic.

The amount of data they are parsing in that context is not very good at rooting out terrorists, but it's very useful for other things.
posted by ryoshu at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2008


It sends an important message to the party machine.

Sure, I suppose it sends a message, and maybe that message is heard, but is that the best way to do it, and what does the message accomplish?

I don't think it's the only way to send a message. What about being involved AND voicing your opinion on decisions like this? I think that would send a message, maybe more effectively than pulling out of the process.

More importantly, if the cost of sending the message is letting the Republicans win again, how is that possibly worth it? What good is sending a message to a party that isn't in power?

I 100% believe in voicing our opinions on the issues to influence candidates. If one's goal is to have a more progressive candidate in office, though, to stop supporting them is unequivocally counterproductive.

To hope that losing the election will send the Dems a message, and that the message will be you are not progressive enough to win the presidency, and that they will become more progressive so they can win the next one is pure fantasy.

Which still leaves me with the question, what (good) is accomplished by not supporting Barack right now?
posted by snofoam at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2008


To hope that losing the election will send the Dems a message, and that the message will be you are not progressive enough to win the presidency, and that they will become more progressive so they can win the next one is pure fantasy.

I find pressuring the Democratic Party to run a genuine Democratic candidate preferable to voting for someone who claims to embody Democratic ideals yet votes consistently for the worst of Republican policy: PATRIOT Act, FISA, funding of the Iraq war, etc.

A vote for Obama may as well be a vote McCain, if Obama votes for the same laws, and would sign the same laws into effect as a McCain presidency.

We're beyond the Gore v. Bush comparison that motivated Nader voters, when we now have a clear, transparent demonstration of Obama's ideals and how he would really conduct his presidency and run this country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:06 AM on July 10, 2008


A vote for Obama may as well be a vote McCain, if Obama votes for the same laws, and would sign the same laws into effect as a McCain presidency.

Ah yes: if he votes the same way as McCain on one issue, it clearly demonstrates that he will vote exactly the same way on all possible issues. Thanks for the incisive political analysis. You know, I'm pretty sure you could find issues that Bush and Gore agreed upon, and which you would oppose, therefore it is clearly utterly unimportant that Bush won in 2000. Right?
posted by yoink at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2008


A vote for Obama may as well be a vote McCain, if Obama votes for the same laws, and would sign the same laws into effect as a McCain presidency.

Except that he won't, as anyone who has paid the least bit of attention to John McCain's voting records and multiple personality stump speeches knows.

We're beyond the Gore v. Bush comparison that motivated Nader voters, when we now have a clear, transparent demonstration of Obama's ideals and how he would really conduct his presidency and run this country.

He has not only being OK with an anti-fisa group on his own website, but also engaging them and explaining why he's just fine with their dissent. Does that sound like crazy hothead John McCain? Obama at least discussed why he voted the way he did, instead of avoiding the issue entirely like McCain did by not bothering to show up at all, to vote on a hugely important bill (McCain also avoided voting on the medicare bill that day). Christ, at least Obama isn't a freaking coward. I'm not pleased about the successful cloture to end the retroactive immunity filibuster, but anyone who says that Obama and McCain are the same is not, and has not been paying attention.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2008


Ah yes: if he votes the same way as McCain on one issue

More like many issues: PATRIOT Act, FISA, Iraq war, faith-based initiatives, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 AM on July 10, 2008


Ok. I think that basically sums up everything that is misguided about this point of view. I admire your idealism and I'm sure we agree about most of the issues. In fact, when I was 18 I probably would have said exactly the same things you're saying now.

The idea that Obama and McCain are indistinguishable on policy is, however, simply not true.

I'm pretty sure your efforts to pressure the Democratic party will come to naught as well, but more power to ya. We do need a few people like you, taking a hard line to try to keep the party honest.

I think we just need more people who are willing to pitch in and win this darn election so we can actually have some positive change now. Let's do it, folks!
posted by snofoam at 11:36 AM on July 10, 2008


Obama at least discussed why he voted the way he did, instead of avoiding the issue entirely like McCain did by not bothering to show up at all, to vote on a hugely important bill

McCain voted for a previous bill to continue FISA, as did Obama. They both support expanded illegal surveillance, even if McCain did not vote yesterday.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2008


I think that basically sums up everything that is misguided about this point of view... The idea that Obama and McCain are indistinguishable on policy is, however, simply not true.

Actually, it looks like your opinion is entirely misinformed, given overlaps in Obama and McCain's voting record on major policies, as I mentioned. FISA is just one example.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 AM on July 10, 2008


Uh, no. I didn't say there was no overlap, I just said they weren't indistinguishable. Since they did vote differently on many issues, I can't possibly be wrong about that statement.
posted by snofoam at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2008


FYI, here are the voting records:

obama

mccain
posted by snofoam at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since they did vote differently on many issues, I can't possibly be wrong about that statement.

I'll try to avoid being as condescending to you as you were to me, but let's try it again, since you do not comprehend.

If Obama and McCain vote the same way on larger policy, then they are indistinguishable for what matters. Presidential conduct related to civil liberties and war is a reasonably major part of the job, involving a number of core ideas regarding separation of powers and the Constitution as a whole.

If Obama and McCain vote to illegally spy at home, expand faith-based initiatives, keep a costly war going abroad, etc. then what little difference remains seems somewhat diminished in comparison.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 PM on July 10, 2008


BP: More like many issues: PATRIOT Act,

Obama wasn't in the Senate when the PATRIOT Act was passed. He filibustered the reauthorization before voting for a compromise bill. Even a charitable interpretation of this charge strains credulity.

Iraq war

Again, Obama wasn't in the Senate when the war was authorized. Your characterization of his "refine" statement is fairly disingenuous, as at least a half dozen people have pointed out in this thread.

faith-based initiatives, etc.

Obama's proposal is to roll back the extant program to reinstitute the safeguards that existed pre-Bush. This is a far smarter position than the alternatives, i.e. (a) eliminating the program entirely and incurring a backlash or (b) letting the program continue as-is.

Regardless, it's nonsense to claim that Obama's position is the "same" as McCain's w/r/t any of these issues, even if it's not the position you'd prefer; it's nonsense to claim that they're similar on "many" issues, particularly when even the majority of the few examples you posit are a bit of a stretch.
posted by spiderwire at 12:05 PM on July 10, 2008


In addition to what spiderwire points out, there are plenty of substantive differences in their voting records. Obama voted against confirming Alito, Roberts and Gonzales. He voted to grant habeas corpus to persons being detained by the US. He voted for a commission to investigate how contracts are awarded in Iraq and Afganistan. He voted to increase Pell grants. There are plenty of other things as well.

You could also look at organizations, both liberal and conservative, that rate politicians' voting records on various issues and see that these organizations score Obama and McCain very differently.

If the question is whether they are indistinguishable based on their voting records, the answer is clearly no, because they voted differently on many things, plenty of them substantive, in areas from education to economics to constitutional rights.

I agree that they have voted the same on plenty of issues, and sadly, some that I disagree with. That doesn't make them the same.

This is kind of like debating politics with Karl Pilkington.
posted by snofoam at 12:19 PM on July 10, 2008


Obama wasn't in the Senate when the PATRIOT Act was passed. He filibustered the reauthorization before voting for a compromise bill. Even a charitable interpretation of this charge strains credulity.

He voted to reauthorize the Act. Calling that a compromise is unfortunate, when the FBI itself granted that the Act has often been misused since it was enacted.

Again, Obama wasn't in the Senate when the war was authorized. Your characterization of his "refine" statement is fairly disingenuous, as at least a half dozen people have pointed out in this thread.

Senator Obama has voted four times in support of reauthorizing $300 billion of funding for the continuance of the Iraq war, since taking office (cite).

My characterization is hardly disingenuous, if his platform includes the cessation of war, but he cannot now provide a clear path out of this mess while having a voting record that supports keeping the war going.

Regardless, it's nonsense to claim that Obama's position is the "same" as McCain's w/r/t any of these issues

Even if they claim to have different views, if they vote the same way, the outcome is likely to be the same. It is fair to give Senator Obama scrutiny on these and other matters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on July 10, 2008


How did McCain vote? He didn't. Neither did Ted Kennedy, but Kennedy is recovering from brain cancer.

Three senators missed the FISA vote: Kennedy, McCain and Sessions.

While he missed the FISA vote, Kennedy did make it to Congress (to thunderous applause and ovation) yesterday afternoon to vote on the Medicare bill. Only one senator missed that vote. Yep. John McCain. Right there keeping with his current record of missed votes. "[McCain has] cast 36 of the Senate's 169 votes this session."
posted by ericb at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2008


This is kind of like debating politics with Karl Pilkington.

I feel bad for Karl, then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on July 10, 2008


Oh jesus, was this idiot banned and now he's back, or what? Like political threads aren't fractious enough, we need a dedicated troll to stir things up and make sure nothing but argument happens?

As I said before: "I'm convinced [Metaman] was a participant in Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos and nothing more than a shameless troll and Republican operative here on MeFi."

Be prepared for more mischief from Metaman here in MeFi.

Rush Limbaugh Begins Second Phase of 'Operation Chaos'
"Rush Limbaugh, opening the second phase of his 'Operation Chaos' campaign to make mischief within the Democratic Party, called on his millions of listeners Wednesday to take part in the Sen. Barack Obama campaign’s effort to democratize the party platform."
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on July 10, 2008


I'll try to avoid being as condescending to you as you were to me, but let's try it again, since you do not comprehend.

I'll try to avoid being condescending, but what you are saying is contrary to simple fact. Obama and McCain do not vote similarly. At all. From the just-linked pages, here are the only times they voted together outside of appropriations and nominations that passed by 90+ votes:
Earmark Moratorium (S Amdt 4347) Yes; Motion Rejected - Senate (29 - 71)

Denying Legal Status for Immigrants Convicted of Certain Crimes (S Amdt 1184) No; Amendment Rejected - Senate (46 - 51)
Barring Immigrants with Certain Criminal Histories (S Amdt 1333) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (66 - 32)
Second Immigration Act of 2007 (S 1639) Yes; Cloture Not Invoked - Senate (46 - 53)
Double-Layered Fencing Amendment (HR 5441) No; Amendment Rejected - Senate (29 - 71)
Confidentiality Requirement Amendment (S 2611) No; Amendment Rejected - Senate (49 - 49)
Immigration Reform Bill (S 2611) Yes; Bill Passed - Senate (62 - 36)
Employer Verification Amendment (S 2611) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (58 - 40)

Status of Detainees Substitute Amendment (S 1042) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (84 - 14)
National Defense Authorization Act - Cloture (S 1042) No; Cloture Not Invoked - Senate (50 - 48)
USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization (HR 3199) Yes; Conference Report Adopted - Senate (89 - 10)
USEMA Amendment (HR 5441) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (87 - 11)

Alaska Judicial Review Amendment (S 1932) Yes; Amendment Rejected - Senate (48 - 51)
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Drilling Amendment (S Con Res 18) Yes; Amendment Rejected - Senate (49 - 51)
ANWR Amendment (S 1932) Yes; Amendment Rejected - Senate (48 - 51)
EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule (S J Res 20) Yes; Resolution Failed: - Senate (47 - 51)

Firearm Confiscation Prohibition Amendment (HR 5441) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (84 - 16)
Child Safety Lock Amendment (S 397) Yes; Amendment Adopted - Senate (70 - 30)

Medicaid Generic Drug Amendment (S 1932) Yes; Amendment Rejected - Senate (49 - 50)
Stem Cell Research Act of 2007 (S 5) Yes; Passed - Senate (63 - 34)
Stem Cell Research Bill (HR 810) Yes; Bill Passed - Senate (63 - 37)
Prescription Drugs Amendment (S Con Res 18) Yes; Amendment Rejected - Senate (49 - 50)

Same Sex Marriage Resolution (SJ Res. 1) No; Cloture Not Invoked - Senate (49 - 48)

U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement Implementation (HR 5684) Yes; Bill Passed - Senate (62 - 32)
U.S. -Oman Free Trade Agreement (S 3569) Yes; Bill Passed - Senate (60 - 34)
To be more specific, on close votes they have voted the same way only 11 times. Ever. And this count isn't even a complete because it doesn't highlight the many, many times they've differed on very important issues. Calling Obama and McCain similar on policy is so incredibly, obviously wrong it's just mind-boggling.
posted by spiderwire at 12:52 PM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Senator Obama has voted four times in support of reauthorizing $300 billion of funding for the continuance of the Iraq war, since taking office (cite).

Ooh. Good argument. Hey, you know who voted against the defense appropriations bills?

NOBODY.
posted by spiderwire at 12:58 PM on July 10, 2008


A vote for Obama may as well be a vote McCain, if Obama votes for the same laws, and would sign the same laws into effect as a McCain presidency.

This is the goofiest thing I have ever heard, and obviates any possible need for further discussion. Thanks! I can go outside now!
posted by skammer at 1:05 PM on July 10, 2008


On further review, that sentence is actually accurate, I guess. My apologies.

The goofy part is the claim that Obama's voting record is anything like McCain's. It's not. Really.
posted by skammer at 1:07 PM on July 10, 2008


"So...Obama is being asked to live up to an ideal America which, apparently, has never--in over two centuries--had a president worthy of its excellence."

1) The prominent theme of his campaign is "Change". So I don't think it's too much to expect...... you know..... change.

2) Even Clinton didn't vote for it. And it would have been easy for him to vote no. So the "ideal" we're asking him to live up to here is well short of the most wonderful and virtuous president of all time.
posted by Ragma at 1:13 PM on July 10, 2008


What, Obama voted yes?? I KNEW HE WAS A TURNCOAT!! I'm voting McCain all the way now. Clinton voted no? Good, she should try to become the democratic nominee at the convention then. There was ALWAYS something fishy about Obama. He's exotic, arrogant. I mean, I voted for him to get to this point. I truly believe he can win the race just on voters like ME alone, I really do! Looks like he's just another fool trying to trick me. I have 1 year college behind me, and a criminal record, I'm 38, and black. And I still know more than THEM fools! I am now voting for change for the worse, and will do all I can to hasten then end of this stupid world. Everyones stupid now. Fuck all ya'll. If I have to be a victim of your tyranny, then ANY unlucky schmuck who crosses my pack will have damn good chance of being a victim also. So I will continue to exist by playing the odds, because I have the advantage. When NWA talks about pimps and hos, there's a double meaning. Pimps are the wealthy, hos are everyone else. This is why Eazy E had dinner with Bush. This election is going to come down to race. And all the voters who can put this man in office (white people) are going to suddenly do him in. Just as you always have. We cannot do ANYTHING you guys cannot understand. McCain's steady doing the dumbest shit I've ever seen anyone do, yet still Obama cannot have one blemish. White people! You guys have like 2 good things left to fuck up, then you will loose everyone forever. And I wanna be first in line for payback before I die. I am an Obamacon, I sent him an email asking why he voted yes. I am still voting for him. Sometimes I really wish white people were gone. You guys can't stop trying to assfuck people. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! Enemies in front, enemies behind. Let him get in the fucking office if you really believe. Giving McCain a free ride, why?? I need a drink. I love my liberties too. One questionable vote will not sway me. AND I'm not a hater, nor a bigot. I'm just really damaged and hurt and pissed, and tired, and blah blah. Please talk about why the other dems voted yes, and analyze why HRC voted no, and why McCain didn't vote? Fuck it!
posted by Flex1970 at 1:41 PM on July 10, 2008


CHANGE
N O T H I N G
posted by paulsc at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone who decides not vote for Obama because of this vote is overreacting.
The idea that any vote could help McCain get into the White House should be considered unwise - especially if you don't like Bush.
Next, if this FISA bill was such an important bill to stop from passing then why would a Democratic Congress pass it without a fight? Could it be that the bill [though flawed] was something they felt we needed?
I mean it is not like the Senators don't know how much this bill was loathed by the grass roots and progressives who help put some of the Senators in office in the first place. There is no reason why they would cave into Bush at this point - so they must have sort of like something about the bill.

While it is disappointing it shouldn't stop someone from supporting Obama over McCain. Because there really is a difference between the two candidates.
posted by Rashomon at 2:05 PM on July 10, 2008


Blazecock Pileon: A vote for Obama may as well be a vote McCain, if Obama votes for the same laws, and would sign the same laws into effect as a McCain presidency.

You're also ignoring the whole concept of administration. One only needs to look at the complete and utter disdain members of the Bush Administration have show when testifying before congress to understand that Bush's record low approval rating is an honor that he gets to share with everyone he brought along with him. If you look at the utter incompetence of the people he put in the highest offices, imagine what the lesser offices look like. We already know that the Justice department was completely and illegally politicized, and filled with party hacks, what about the other departments? Remember "heck of a job Brownie"? One bad apple spoils the bunch? We have an administration full of bad apples. Bad apples who have taken every opportunity to act like mean spirited, litigious, thieving bastards with no regard for law, the institution of government, or the American People.

Pre-Bush, I was firmly in the camp of believing that, except for a few exceptions, all politicians are mostly alike, not to be trusted, in the pocket of corporations, and whatever other cynicisms I could think up. But this administration has given example after example of going out of their way to lie, chat, steal, and generally fuck over anyone who who crosses their path. From the highest office down to inconsequential BS that doesn't even matter to anyone.

Bush is on his way out, (keeping my fingers crossed), but what about those who came in on his coattails? The ones we don't vote for, Which of your votes has the best chance of flushing these people out of our government? Which White House is going to have the highest number of people in it that Cheney can call up and have a few words with?
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:16 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bush is on his way out, (keeping my fingers crossed), but what about those who came in on his coattails? The ones we don't vote for, Which of your votes has the best chance of flushing these people out of our government? Which White House is going to have the highest number of people in it that Cheney can call up and have a few words with?

That's a fair point. We don't know how much cronyism Obama would introduce via cabinet positions, but it would certainly be hard to top Bush and Cheney on that score.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2008


One questionable vote will not sway me. AND I'm not a hater, nor a bigot.

"Yet you allow to go on, and won't admit it."

That'll big rant will probably get bahleted, but rest assured, I know quite a few people who are yelling that rant right about now in that futile, facetious and frustrated tone it always comes in.
posted by cashman at 2:35 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet, we have to remember that the Democrats (of which I have been one for a lifetime, with plans to leave soon for "independent" status) - including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - have enabled Shrub's blatant incompetence.

The GOP was brilliant in conflating patriotism with "agreement" to arcane and carefully plotted policy that has all but began to shred the very foundations upon which our freedoms were born.

So now we have a situation where powers-that-be, many of the same cynical powers that Hillary Clinton (and to some extent, GWBush) have catered to - are now happily backing Obama.

Many myths, like where Obama's money comes from, and other large details, have purposely been kept small by the press and the hard core of Obama's support base.

Obama is a very smart guy; he's also something special as a personal presence. That said, he is no more trustworthy than any other politician. Anyone who looks up to Obama as some kind of "savior" for America has simply not done their homework.

About John McCain (btw, Will not be voting for McCain, or Obama). He has highly compromised many of his more independent decisions, over years, especially since 2000. I have personal experience with McCain's staffers, from a consulting gig I did some years ago. He's about as far as you can get from George Bush in the GOP. He's not the brightest bulb on the block, but he's a very savvy guy.

The thing that worries me about McCain is that he seems almost as malleable as Obama.

Both McCain and Obama are pure politicians. There is nothing "different" about either one of them, in terms of independence from the political machine that sucks us all dry, with help from their donor base.

In all, this is going to be a very interesting race. It's going to be a _lot_ closer than most people think. We're going to see a flurry near the end of the process, with everyone pulling out all the stops.

Whoever gets elected will be orders-of-magnitude better than we have now.

That said, Americans are in for a roughly two-decade span of serious dislocation and pain. Our structural disadvantages have been kept under wraps by an incompetent press. we have been seriously dumbed down.

How we ended up with these two candidates, among those who are so much better qualified, speaks volumes about America.

Learn to garden, make friends, save money, and live within your means. The only messiah is you. Forget about your politicians saving you.
posted by MetaMan at 3:11 PM on July 10, 2008


Anyone who decides not vote for Obama because of this vote is overreacting.

How can you say what you just said, when that bill, taken to its logical end, permits UNIVERSAL SURVEILLANCE with _no_ consequence.

Go ahead and vote for Obama; that's your right. But _anyone_ who rationalizes Obama's vote is just another "good German". THINK!
posted by MetaMan at 3:22 PM on July 10, 2008


Blazecock Pileon:

I thought I recalled your name from political discussions in other threads, so out of curiosity, I took the liberty of looking up some of your posts on the subject. One was from a thread about a speech by Obama:

"Not only best of the web, but the best in and about America."

I may be overreaching, but I suspect you're feeling betrayed right now. So, I think, do several other posters on this thread. Eriko, who from this thread was apparently practically a one-issue voter on the FISA bill, probably feels even more so.

Since many of the votes of his you cite came before you called his words "the best in and about America," I also suspect, although once again I could be wrong, that it was the FISA vote, far more than the other issues, that was the cause. And with reason. He demonstrably said he would do something, support an issue you that is incredibly important to you -- and which has a clear right side and wrong side -- and said he would do so in the strongest possible way. But when push came to shove, he didn't. He threw out a few doomed votes against it, and then ultimately voted for the very thing he said he would fillibuster rather than vote for.

That sucks. It isn't what "the best in and about America" should be. Maybe you feel taken in. Maybe you feel like it doesn't matter now.

But I would also like to remind you of something else you said, in yet another thread:

"We just don't have the luxury of trying to survive another four years of a Republican".

That is still true.

Much as it pains me to say it ... FISA is the tip of the iceberg. Hell, even the Iraq war is just the tip of the iceberg. It pains me to say it, but our Fourth Amendment rights are not the only issue on the table right now. They may not even be the most important issue.

Health care. Climate change. Energy policy. Gay rights. Science policy. Education policy. Croneyism in federal agencies. Judicial appointments. Censorship of "independent" government agencies. Use of the law apparatus for personal vengeance and political gain. Opaque government. Women's rights. The politics of personal attack. Lobbyist influence run rampant. Minority rights. Scapegoating of immigrants. Runaway budget deficits. Economic policy.

There's more.

Will Obama fix all of these things? No, of course not. Will McCain worsen all of these things? Possibly not. But McCain has embraced Bush's policies, far more than Obama has. And I look back over the last eight years, and I see New Orleans destroyed, hundreds of billions wasted and hundreds of thousands killed in a pointless war, millions with no access to health care -- including a friend of mine who died not long ago, the economy in ruins, no progress on fixing disastrous environmental and energy problems until we're starting to really obviously sail up shit creek, and ... and I agree with the Blazecock Pileon of several months ago.

We just don't have the luxury of trying to survive another four years of a Republican.

Obama is not perfect, and I never thought he was, but he is, now, literally, the only possible alternative we have to what is currently going on. It is difficult for me to believe that he will not represent a change for the better in many ways, and it is difficult for me to believe that he will not be vastly better than McCain. Even after FISA.

I cannot afford to wait for Mr. Right. I have to vote for Mr. Right Now.
posted by kyrademon at 3:26 PM on July 10, 2008 [10 favorites]



"Yet you allow to go on, and won't admit it."


Man, that's a KRS-One/BDP song that's not quoted nearly enough. Well done!

On topic, I join others who are more deeply troubled by Sen. Clinton's vote than Sen. Obama's. Numerous people in the thread have spoken of the games that a politician must play, and I suspect that we've just seen an opening gambit of some sort. I just worry what the endgame will be.

Anyone else here read The Authority? Sometimes it seems like we really are living in a world in which the Colonel wished things to continue as they were but with the opposition a little more compliant.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:33 PM on July 10, 2008


Post-op MTF transsexuals are women, asshole.

and minstrels were negroes.
posted by quonsar at 3:41 PM on July 10, 2008


I cannot afford to wait for Mr. Right. I have to vote for Mr. Right Now.

Bingo!
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on July 10, 2008


I just want to apologize for what I said earlier. It was bad, I was mad. I went JJ on MeFi. I'm gonna go smell some flowers and get in a happy place now.
posted by Flex1970 at 4:52 PM on July 10, 2008


well put, kyrademon. also kudos to blazecock for acknowledging that obama would probably not have as venomously evil a cabinet as W. though it may be small, it is a step in the right direction of remembering that there are differences between the parties and the candidates, even though those differences aren't as big as we might hope.
posted by snofoam at 5:30 PM on July 10, 2008


News flash: Obama is basically a centrist. Didn't we know this all along?

I have no problem with that. Now, the question is, is he principled, honest, reliable? Being a centrist doesn't mean you lack principles. Voting against the people's interest for a corrupt government's interest in covering up their crimes is not really a centrist position.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:47 PM on July 10, 2008


We just don't have the luxury of trying to survive another four years of a Republican.

Of course not, but in the meantime, we can't let them give it all away. I mean, what's happened is a prime example of the sort of thing we want to stop, presumably by electing a Democrat. What have they done about it in the meantime, while they have the ability? We can't let it pass by, just because there's an election in November. My god, there's a hell of a lot that will happen between now and then, too long to put everything else on hold for their delicate sensibilities, and I don't want Obama or anyone else making poor decisions in the name of getting elected. Sure, let's make sure not to vote in a maniac in November, but let's not encourage the worst sort of political games, where the people are the main losers in the end. "It's an election year" is no excuse for allowing corruption to fester.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:59 PM on July 10, 2008


GOD DAMN IT! I WANT A BLACK DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT! We NEED a black democrat president.

Do have any idea what that simple fact alone will change in this country? Jesus H. Christ.

Swallow your pride and just get this thing done.
posted by tkchrist at 6:42 PM on July 10, 2008


Even Clinton didn't vote for it. And it would have been easy for him to vote no. So the "ideal" we're asking him to live up to here is well short of the most wonderful and virtuous president of all time.

This is the thing that doesn't make any sense about this vote. What does Obama gain, and how is it better than what he risks for voting against it? This Salon article convincingly argues that this was not a pander to the right, since the average conservative voter doesn't even know or care about FISA. The only people that do care are civil liberatarians and lefties, Obama's base basically. So why piss off your base, when they are very important in terms of fund raising and volunteers? Plus it is a blatant change in his old position which opens him up to being branded as flip flopper, which according to the media is the worst thing in the history of the universe.

I can think of 3 possible reasons:
1. Obama has felt the allure of power and wants the surveillance authority for himself when he becomes president.
2. He did this to piss lefties off on purpose. The ACLU and Move On aren't that popular in general and it probably helps Obama if there are criticizing him. Obama's campaign might have figured that having hippies support your campaign is more of a risk than having hippies against it.
3. He did it to acquire political capital so when he does get elected he can get his bills enacted. Conservative Democrats in the senate really wanted to this bill, but they were vulnerable to attacks from the left for supporting it. For Obama to come out so publically in favor of the bill takes the heat off everybody else and puts it on him.

I'm hoping it's # 3, I think there is a little #2 in the vote and I pray it isn't #1.
posted by afu at 7:15 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you place this event within the larger context of the Obama campaign's stated positions on civil liberties, it comes as less of a surprise. As enumerated on his website, and as I've probably observed before, his top civil liberties issues feature such nailbiters as Hate Crimes on the Rise, but can't be bothered to invoke the tune of the time: Guantanamo. Unwarranted. PATRIOT. No-Knock. Habeas. Rendition.

The list is, at best, an embarrassing disconnect from the last decade (at least) of American history. At worst, however, some of it fits neatly into a playbook for more escalation of executive power. If our perspective on civil rights is constructed around a fear of hate crime, for example, one could easily make an argument for throwing yet another wing on our great monument to terrorism, the DHS. In fact, recent Obama-approved reading suggests that COINTEL-like applications of the DHS might be the next big thing, in spite of the fact that hunting white separatists is... a little like hunting terrorists, unicorns, Pokemon, and other nigh-legendary beasts.

I still hold out hope that the public instinct, even if dulled by a thousand channels of noise, is attuned enough to be more frightened of the cop around the corner than by the graffito swastika on the bathroom stall. Both of them, in their way, are symbols of authoritarianism; one of them is a necessary ingredient.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:50 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


GOD DAMN IT! I WANT A BLACK DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT! We NEED a black democrat president.

We do? Why?

Do have any idea what that simple fact alone will change in this country?

No. What will it change?

Personally, I hate politics as theater, which is how the whole "Wow! We could have either a woman or a black be POTUS!" exclamation came across to me during the Democratic primaries. Be that as it may, for those who consider it important that a minority other than Catholic take the White House, Obama winning may well be a bitter victory. This country is about to take an economic beating of epic proportions, and there ain't much that anyone can do about it. Many Americans hold the rather questionable notion that the POTUS controls the nation's economy and that therefore a booming economy means the President has been doing a good job. So when the economy falls right into the shitter (maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but ...), the incumbent will get the blame, especially when there's no quick fix. Obama's economic policies are certainly not to my liking (exception: PAYGO is plenty OK with me), but he won't be responsible. He may help bring it on a little quicker, but otherwise, no more responsible than anyone else who has been busy promoting the nanny state for the last few decades. I would think that if a minority President is important to some, they wouldn't want the first black to be set up either to fail or to completely alienate his constituency plus most of the rest of the country.

(here and here for evidence making the case that we are facing a choice between dramatic cuts in entitlement spending or hyper-inflation. And I don't think this country is willing to make those cuts. Obama supporters certainly aren't.)
posted by BigSky at 7:53 PM on July 10, 2008


Personally, I hate politics as theater

But didn't you know that showing black people in leadership roles on TV magically heals all wounds? Heal, dammit, heal! Cure3!
posted by kid ichorous at 8:10 PM on July 10, 2008


We do? Why?

Are you kidding me? Honestly I feel pity for you if you can't grasp why this is important. Or you're like Stephen Colbert and you don't "see" race. Or gender. Right. If I have to explain it there is no hope.

I will try. Because it will signal a major departure from the past. Yes. If only superficial.

Do you know how many people in this world are not white? Not just the people in our borders. Do you not get what we have been doing to the brown people of this world? I mean you get that, right?

And to have somebody that looks even a little bit like them will go a long way in showing that maybe we are willing to change directions. If not this time, maybe next time. Once the wall is breached it's breached forever.

Symbols MATTER.

This is a war of inches not miles.

If you get anther establishment white conservative you guarantee that the world will continue to us as an extension of neocon interventionist torture ideology. Guarantee it.

And if the economy is gonna crash and burn and it's doomsday then what the fuck difference does it make? Shouldn't we at last take ONE giant step in helping resolve one of our major inequities in this country. RACE.
posted by tkchrist at 8:16 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Question: I understand that for the majority of folk who contribute to Metafilter that Obama's action in supporting FISA is a 'bad thing', that they will be less willing to vote for him or at least contribute less to his campaign. I'll make a bold assertion and say such folk are not the "average" American voter. [As a New Zealander, I may be mistaken on this - feel free to disabuse me of this notion.] However, how does Obama's support for FISA play in the Ohio heartlands - those places not necessarily inhabited by lots of Metafilter people? Are they more likely to vote for Obama or contribute more as a result of his support? Just askin'.
posted by vac2003 at 8:17 PM on July 10, 2008


However, how does Obama's support for FISA play in the Ohio heartlands - those places not necessarily inhabited by lots of Metafilter people?

Something like this, I imagine: "What's FISA? Will it stop my grocery bill from going up on a weekly basis?"
posted by oaf at 8:36 PM on July 10, 2008


Via Salon, June 18, 2008:
One last point: Barack Obama has, in the past, emphatically opposed warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty. In response to emails his campaign has received over the past couple days, he has been sending out an email containing the following statements:

I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was in regard to the conduct of the Iraq war or its restrictions on our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs or suspension of habeas corpus. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and rejecting this unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity is a good place to start.

Giving retroactive immunity to telecom companies is simply wrong. Thankfully, the most recent effort to pass this legislation at the end of the legislative year failed. I unequivocally oppose this grant of immunity and support the filibuster of it. I have cosponsored Senator Dodd's proposal that would remove it from the current FISA bill and continue to follow this debate closely. In order to prevail, the proponents of retroactive immunity still have to convince 60 or more senators to vote to end a filibuster of this bill. I will not be one of them.

This Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. When I am president, there will be no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens; no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime; no more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. Our Constitution works, and so does the FISA court.
If this is on record, and it is true, what happened to Senator Obama that turned him into a Quisling in the space of a month?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding me? Honestly I feel pity for you if you can't grasp why this is important. Or you're like Stephen Colbert and you don't "see" race. Or gender. Right. If I have to explain it there is no hope.

Feel pity.

Frankly you sound like the SLA guy at the end of Patty Hearst pounding on the steering wheel yelling about the need for BLACK MALE LEADERSHIP. It's a little bit comic.

Do you not get what we have been doing to the brown people of this world?

Providing an example?

I'd like to think of us as the 'city on a hill', but I fear we'll be an example of denial and fiscal irresponsibility.

Shouldn't we at last take ONE giant step in helping resolve one of our major inequities in this country. RACE.

If I have to explain this, I doubt you'll get it. But when you champion someone on the basis of race, so that race will no longer matter, you subvert your own goal. People notice. A certain condescension comes across, like you want a statement to be made so the rest of the country can 'evolve'. If that's how you think, OK, but you might want to keep quiet about it, and for the sake of the performance, focus on the issues. That kind of tone can turn the undecided into opponents.
posted by BigSky at 8:44 PM on July 10, 2008


There weren't 60 votes to uphold a fillibuster, and he never voted to end a fillibuster.
posted by empath at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2008


Shouldn't we at last take ONE giant step in helping resolve one of our major inequities in this country. RACE.

Maybe he won't tap your phone if you say nice things about him.
posted by Brian B. at 9:49 PM on July 10, 2008


Providing an example?

I'd like to think of us as the 'city on a hill', but I fear we'll be an example of denial and fiscal irresponsibility.


Providing an example?

Name one other black man or woman elected to the highest office of any First World country.

That matters.

If that's how you think, OK, but you might want to keep quiet about it, and for the sake of the performance, focus on the issues. That kind of tone can turn the undecided into opponents.

Yes, telling people to "keep quiet about it," i.e. the fact that Barack Obama is black, doesn't communicate "a certain condescension" at all. Wouldn't want to galvanize "the undecided into opponents" who weren't yet aware of that fact.
posted by spiderwire at 10:04 PM on July 10, 2008


Name one other black man or woman elected to the highest office of any First World country. That matters.

It does. How much it matters depends on how high you rank symbolism as one of the goals of government, how much sway this sort of magical thinking holds over the rest of the world, and how much your chapter of the American race drama applies to a planet which is majority neither white nor brown. All things considered, I figure it's slightly less important than a law that nulls any chance of discovering (probably) the most extensive wiretapping violation in American history. By a smidgen.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:27 PM on July 10, 2008


kid ichorous: All things considered, I figure it's slightly less important than a law that nulls any chance of discovering (probably) the most extensive wiretapping violation in American history. By a smidgen.

That's an interesting if questionable comparison that no one was actually making. Though I don't agree with tkchrist's whole argument, this is a bizarre equivalency to draw and I'm not sure where it came from. I think I'll leave this discussion now.
posted by spiderwire at 10:47 PM on July 10, 2008


I'm sorry if I imputed the wrong argument to you, spiderwire. However, my understanding of TK's comments was that this comparison was implicit. "Swallowing my pride and just getting this thing done" so we can "have a black president" would only make sense if his blackness were some kind of decisive, countervailing argument against all our grievances, including FISA. It might be, but I wager it doesn't work for a lot of people, for the same reasons I'm confident it won't work as a reason for tearing the man down.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:05 PM on July 10, 2008


Yes, telling people to "keep quiet about it," i.e. the fact that Barack Obama is black, doesn't communicate "a certain condescension" at all. Wouldn't want to galvanize "the undecided into opponents" who weren't yet aware of that fact.

You completely missed the point (and barely made sense, to boot). I'm not telling him to keep quiet about "the fact that Barack Obama is black" (!). What he may want to keep quiet about is his belief that "We NEED a black democrat president." It presupposes that the symbol is what's important, a black democrat is needed, not specifically Barack Obama. And implicit in the importance of the symbol is the power of its message. Once the symbol is shown, the consciousness of the ignorant masses has been raised. How lucky the masses are to have some progressive political activists who recognizes their failings and work to provide the experiences that will allow them to grow and mature! That is what's condescending. And if that's the take on the American people, then maybe speculation about the symbolic importance of Obama and what it will mean for Mankind should be kept on the down low until the victory party.

It's just a suggestion. Perhaps you think I'm reading into it and that no one gets their back up when they hear talk about how a female or black POTUS would be good for the country. I assure you, they do.
posted by BigSky at 11:05 PM on July 10, 2008


Well, when the you're defending a war crime or human rights violation, I'd agree that the Nuremburg defense is inadequate. But in a situation like the one in the US, where wiretapping is -often- legal and above board, "he told me to do it" does become an affirmative defense.

While no one died, I would call eavesdropping on the american public a human rights violation as well. Now, while I don't really know enough about FISA court goings on to say whether or not they are constitutional, I do know enough to say that when they issue the go-ahead for wiretapping, they give out warrants. I figure that it's safe to say the telecoms are aware that without a warrant, what they were doing was illegal. Now, you may be saying that the President and his people could have told the telecoms that the rules are different this time, that we don't need warrants this time, etc. But now, thanks to this bill, we will never know. Civil suit was going to be the best way to discover the presumably egregious excesses of this administration's surveillance policies, to find out just what was done and whether or not Osama Bin-Ladin was calling his buddies in the US. As you point out, there is a chance that these cases would have ended with a pissed off ACLU and a skipping AT&T. But the point of the courts here in the USA is to decide whether or not what went on is legal, and by having congress say "yeah no it's cool we don't need no judicial review" we are simply flying in the face of the system of checks and balances established so shit like this doesn't happen. There, that elimination of judicial review, is where this retroactive immunity becomes unconstitutional as well as simply immoral.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:19 PM on July 10, 2008


OK. Yes. No further clarification necessary. Shining city on a hill.
posted by spiderwire at 11:21 PM on July 10, 2008


And yet McCain entirely skipped the vote to campaign. Yet no one seems outraged about that.

He's a fucking coward. I'm sick of all this 'war hero' shit as well.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:26 AM on July 11, 2008


tkchrist writes "GOD DAMN IT! I WANT A BLACK DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT! We NEED a black democrat president.

"Do have any idea what that simple fact alone will change in this country? Jesus H. Christ."


Even if it's Alan Keyes?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:01 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


While no one died, I would call eavesdropping on the american public a human rights violation as well.

Uh... okay. I'd call hangnails human rights violations. Also, people who block the doors to the metro.

Or, we could save that term for things that are really, really bad, like state-sanctioned torture and murder.

Now, you may be saying that the President and his people could have told the telecoms that the rules are different this time, that we don't need warrants this time, etc. But now, thanks to this bill, we will never know.

I'm still trying to work some of the details of this out from extant sources, but it's looking increasingly troubling. Nonetheless, we'll know someday: the conspiracy-discovery time line is longer, but records get unsealed, people get old and write their memoirs, and the historical record gets filled in. We'll know, or our children will. The real question is: what can we do to make sure that we've prevented the most egregious violations, the murders, the tortures, the renditions? It seems to me that involves letting go of some of our vindictiveness.

Think of South Africa after apartheid. They desperately wanted to go after the bad guys, but it would have torn the country apart. So they've accepted reconciliation in place of retribution. That may be all we get, here. Maybe we don't even get reconciliation, but just regime-change and a chance to fix this administration's screw-ups. Maybe all an Obama candidacy means is we stop bleeding money and troops and civilians in the Iraq, that we forgo war with Iran and replace some of the old liberal Supreme Justices with new, that we make some stumbling steps to fixing health care. Maybe that's it... but that's a lot.

If that makes you feel disillusioned and betrayed, well, I'm sorry. We don't live in an ideal world, we live in this world, and it's our job to live in it rather than the escaping into the next season of some fantasy Aaron Sorkin presidency.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:07 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Even if it's Alan Keyes?

How is your reading comprehension?

Is Alan Keyes a Democrat?

No.

He is a self described conservative Christian "Reagan Republican." In other words a nut.

It's truly shocking how people like BigSky just don't get it. It's so depressing. But so predictable.

We have a likely once in a life time opportunity to do something really Big Picture here. At a time when it's cruicial to accomplish something of such symbolic importance. ESPECIALLY because of Americas waning power and economic problems.

If you can't see that then I really question not only your personal maturity and principles but your understanding of history and the effects of racism. So much so I wonder if some of you have never even met a black person?

Nobody is saying not to hold Obama feet tot he fire for his political compromises. Obama has ALWAYS been a politician. Always. You were high if you thought he was different.

But NOT voting for him— and that what people are saying in here— if you consider yourself remotely progressive, not voting for Obama is possible cultural suicide for America. It's not that electing a black man will usher in paradise. Nobody has said that. It's that electing another rightwing nut administration at this point in time could be a near irreversible tragedy. At least for our lifetimes.

If McCain gets elected, and judging by the shear stupidity of the American electorate and the stupidity demonstrated in this thread, he will, you will have another decade of total erosion of progressive causes.

It took fifty years to get to where we were when Bill Clinton got elected. And Bush set us back thirty. It will take another 20 to just get to where we were. Do you not understand how slowly cultures change? How easily they are set back? Most of you sound like spoiled selfish little children with no understanding of what you have and how you got it and how easily it could all go away.

The damage another decade of right wing control of this country combined with our coming economic crisis could mutate the US into something more akin to Argentina— permanently. Only governed by bullying militant religious nuts and robber barons. It will be the new gilded age. This is what they have said they want. So. Have fun in your favelas. You won't be spied on—you won't have enough power to care about.

Forget environmentalism. Say goodbye to your parks and public lands. Forget healthcare. Forget gay rights. Say hello to more accelerated looting of the public treasury. Say hello to more wars. And with those wars legislation that will make this FISA bill seem cute by comparison.

Keep it up.
posted by tkchrist at 12:07 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the USA, there is no actual left.

Don't be deceived by the polls: The "median voter" is more of a liberal than you may realize.
posted by effwerd at 12:08 PM on July 11, 2008


Interesting article, effwerd. Thanks for posting it.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:39 PM on July 11, 2008


If McCain gets elected, and judging by the shear stupidity of the American electorate and the stupidity demonstrated in this thread, he will, you will have another decade of total erosion of progressive causes.

How is it then that the so-called "Progressives" in the Democratic Party voted up on FISA? How about all the other bullshi* that the Democrats (and the press) let Shrub get away with?

I don't trust Obama or McCain to be different enough to a degree that will put us on a fast path out of this mess. They're really not that different, and cater to the same power structures.

George Bush is not a stupid person. In fact, it's his intelligence combined with how he has chosen to use that intelligence in times of crisis - in combination with pandering from the press and Democrats - and beyond that has gotten us to where we are.

The GOP leveraged the fear of the populace to get away with literal murder. They were helped by many "good German" types who knuckled under and slipped into mass hysteria.

If you want an example of how malleable a spoiled populace can be, just look at how opinion has changed about offshore oil drilling since we have had an increase at the pump.

America is in for 15-20 years if dislocation and pain, to a degree not experienced since the years between the post-Depression and WWII.

Hang on, the ride has just begun.
posted by MetaMan at 5:31 PM on July 11, 2008


And how is not voting for Obama gonna make all that better, metaman?

Uh. It won't. It will only make everything much, much worse for the average person.
posted by tkchrist at 5:42 PM on July 11, 2008


Oh. Jeez. I fed the troll. I TAKE IT BACK!
posted by tkchrist at 5:43 PM on July 11, 2008


McCain flustered when he's called to explain why he voted to have insurance companies pay for Viagra prescriptions, and against having insurance companies pay for birth control.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:54 PM on July 11, 2008


And how is not voting for Obama gonna make all that better, metaman?


If people are going to argue for Obama as a racial catharsis vote, which is really what a racial vote comes down to, then I don't see how not voting isn't a solid choice if one is feeling betrayed by Obama. If one is struggling with a racial past in their memory and would like to vote to purge those ugly thoughts, voting for a traitor to one's longstanding ideals isn't going to help deal with those emotions. Okay, now never mind emotions (despite all that pleading and whining against Hillary by the Obama camp). He basically canceled the need for himself as race healer, because you don't need to electronically spy on someone to find out if their race. Spying is for thought crimes. Racism is a thought crime. So much for the public trust. The racial sympathy vote is for idealists of a bygone era and we're beyond that with Obama's betrayal and nobody wants to make excuses for their vote anymore as American ideals are flushed away. The "keep what's left of our common rights" vote was due for Hillary because the poverty right is still struggling to stack the supreme court with women haters, and the Obama camp could have cared less on that one. That's three strikes, counting his enthusiasm to bring down the wall separating church and state.
posted by Brian B. at 8:19 PM on July 11, 2008


McCain flustered...

Young man (Justin, 25 y.o.) from Arizona on McCain [video | 06:19]
"The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008.

"McCain Facts," ColorOfChange.org, April 4, 2008.

"McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008.

"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi'," ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008.

"McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008.

"McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007.

"2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008.

"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007.

"Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008.

"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End 'Systemic Risk'," Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008.

"Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008.

"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008.

"Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008.

"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008.

"McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008.

"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008.

"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008.

"John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008.
posted by ericb at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I watched a few other McCain videos after the Viagra one.

The man is a world of suck. Little wonder no one shows up to his speeches: he can't talk his way out of a wet paper bag. He's a maroon.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:57 PM on July 11, 2008


Google blocked anti-Obama ads Washington Post - 7/12/2008

Obama pushes to continue George Bush "Faith Based" initiative, further threatening church/state separation Yahoo News - 7/1/2008

Obama votes to give telcos retroactive and forward immunity for spying on Americans Washington Post - Ju;y, 2008

Obama shill Maureen Down censured by the NYT for unacceptable sexim in reporting on Hillary Clinton NYT - June 22, 2008

Obama's money cartel Counterpunch - May 5, 2008

Obama flip-flops on campaign financing NYT - 6/20/08

Obama supports death penalty, reversing earlier statements 6/27/2008

Obama health care plan leaves millions out NYT -2/4/2008

Barack Sreamed at me: A significant percentage of Obama's IL legislature bills were created and promoted by others Houston Press - 2/28.2008

Obama's pastor, spiritual guide, and confidant for 20 years: "God Damn America!" ABC NEWS 3/13/2008

Longtime confidant and Obama associate Father Pfleger insults Hillary Clinton from the pulpit NYT - 5/31/2008

Obama call small town America "bitter 4/13/2008

Obama flip flops on Iraq CNN 7/4/2008

Obama deceives about taking money from lobbyists; he is generally shown as a friend of big business Harpers Magazine 8/26/2006

Michelle Obama makes sexist attack on Hillary Clinton abilty to "control her house", even though she dressesd her daughters for years to attend Sunday hatefests at Trinity Church - CBS TV affiliate

DNC delegates reassign (steal) ballots for Barack Obama, violating yet another inalienable right to get him nominated
posted by MetaMan at 11:51 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]




Uh... okay. I'd call hangnails human rights violations. Also, people who block the doors to the metro.

Dude, do you read the things you post? Let's take this step-by-step. A human rights violation is an action which violates one or more human rights. Now, what "human rights" actually entail can be up for debate, but I'm pretty sure that 9/10 people will agree that privacy is one of those rights that we call inalienable. You do realize that you are comparing poor keratin formation to people listening in on your private communications, right?

But you do have a point regarding revenge vs. reconciliation, and I'm honestly not sure that taking huge punitive damages from the telecoms would be the best policy. But the fact still stands that without the information that would have come from these civil suits, I won't be able to be sure, and neither will the rest of America (including, perhaps, the other branches of the federal government).
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:18 AM on July 12, 2008


That's low, but hardly sexist. This end of thread videodrome was worth the wait.

Little wonder no one shows up to his speeches: he can't talk his way out of a wet paper bag. He's a maroon.

I thought exactly that after every one of the Republican debates; it's inexplicable to me, this being a salesmanship contest among people hawking virtually indistinguishable wares, that Romney didn't take it. Maybe McCain has that Shelly "The Machine" Levine pity vibe working for him or something, or maybe he's just a cheap sacrifice.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:25 AM on July 12, 2008


Privacy is listed in Article 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:31 AM on July 12, 2008


Metaman -- did you watch Justin's video? The articles and links he provided in his comment regarding his YouTube video. He addresses his thought about each one.

Thanks for playing the game. Our lovely hostess has a departure gift for you. Tune in next week.
posted by ericb at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2008


*thoughts*
posted by ericb at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2008




did you watch Justin's video? The articles and links he provided in his comment regarding his YouTube video. He addresses his thought about each one.

Yeah, I watched the video, but was easily distracted by the devil-man stick figure wallpaper spread all over his pages, and the titles of other videos like "McCain is the Devil", and then watching another video where he says he wants to "bitchslap Daxflame in so many ways that he (Justin) can hardly contain myself".

So, are you telling me that just because this little twerp provides links that support his position (like everyone here, including me, does) that I'm going to change my mind about Obama, based on _Justin's_ arguments??!!

Thanks for the best laugh I've had in a week. And, if people like "Justin" is all Obama has in his corner, I feel sorry for our country.

Neither McCain or Obama are evil, or the devil. Neither one of them deserve to be the President of the United States. Both are deeply flawed, for this time.
posted by MetaMan at 3:24 PM on July 12, 2008


I'm going to put Metaman down as my write-in candidate for President.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2008


The idea that Obama and McCain are indistinguishable on policy is, however, simply not true.

Right. Though neither of them give a rat's ass about my "rights," the former wants to raise my taxes. Which will get him the votes of 90% of Metafilter, but not mine.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:38 PM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, in his defense, tax cuts are not wise policy when you're 10 trillion dollars in debt. Neither are trillion dollar wars.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:42 AM on July 13, 2008


Apparently kwantsar is one of the greedy multimillionaires, one of the few who really benefited by Bush's tax cuts.

Or am I mistaken, and Obama's plan is to jack up taxes on the lower and middle classes, so that the ultra-wealthy don't have to pay their dues?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 AM on July 13, 2008


I am not a multimillionaire, I barely benefited from the Bush tax cuts, and let me remind you that wealth is a stock, fff, not a flow. In the United States, we tend to tax flows almost exclusively. I have no children and because I rent my home, I get fewer deductions than people who are far wealthier than I am. The exact details of my personal situation aren't really that relevant, but you can see one interpretation of Obama's tax plan in this spreadsheet.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:01 AM on July 13, 2008


Privacy is listed in Article 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

So is paid vacation:

Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.


Saying it, or even declaring it, doesn't make it so. In any case, article 12 deals with 'arbitrary interference,' which is to say harassment. It's not arbitrary if it happens to everyone, which is why, for instance, security screenings at airports or sobriety checkpoints aren't human rights violations.

You do realize that you are comparing poor keratin formation to people listening in on your private communications, right?


What are you on about, Honeydew? You've just devoted a bunch of vitriol to my ad absurdum argument. Given the way that this wiretapping likely works, I might ask you: do you realize you're comparing gmail's ad server to torture and murder?

My position is that the concept of a human right is misused when it's applied to things like paid vacation or intelligence gathering. Was Bletchley Park morally equivalent to Birkenau? Is the difference a difference of degree or of kind?
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2008




I saw that earlier and I think it's cause for some commotion.
posted by cashman at 5:55 PM on July 13, 2008


There's a difference between "can't" and "won't".
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:57 AM on July 14, 2008


















Obtained documents point to a potential investigation of the White House that could rival Watergate.

Not likely. Hillary was the revenge ticket. Obama represents something else and is not expected to have any political memory because that's really why he has strong support among red state voters.

Quote: Paul Street, author of the forthcoming book "Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics," says Obama risks becoming an Oval Office version of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. She and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are African-American figures whose popularity allows some white Americans to congratulate themselves for not being racist, he says

"They're cited as proof that racism is no longer a significant barrier to black advancement and interracial equality," Street said.

posted by Brian B. at 6:27 AM on July 23, 2008


Not likely. Hillary was the revenge ticket.

What the fuck do dubious claims about expunging white guilt have to do with investigating the Bush Administration's surveillance programs? You fail.

Obama represents something else and is not expected to have any political memory because that's really why he has strong support among red state voters.

Oh, I see, it's just that you have no idea what you're talking about. Never mind; carry on.
posted by spiderwire at 5:05 PM on July 23, 2008




What the fuck do dubious claims about expunging white guilt have to do with investigating the Bush Administration's surveillance programs? You fail.

Hmm. This type of ignorant question and self-aggrandizing response is usually followed up with a strong indication of psychological denial. What have we here...

Oh, I see, it's just that you have no idea what you're talking about. Never mind; carry on.

Not disappointed!
posted by Brian B. at 7:34 PM on July 23, 2008


Hmm. This type of ignorant question and self-aggrandizing response is usually followed up with a strong indication of psychological denial. What have we here...

Jokes are funnier when you don't set them up yourself.

Feel free to explain the connection between white guilt and prosecutions and, like, totally pop my little political bubble, man. I'm sure it'll be completely mind-blowing.
posted by spiderwire at 7:45 PM on July 23, 2008


On second thought, I'll make it easier for you, since, again, you're obviously just making shit up based on a CNN op-ed you read about Oprah Winfrey. I suppose the "something else" that Obama represents doesn't sound like a complete idiocy to you, so, OK:

Comparing the exit polls for 2004 with the crosstabs in 2008 for the most recent polls in, e.g., Virginia, reveals that the entirety of the gap that Obama's closed is the result of (a) white voters moving from the GOP to the undecided column and (b) an increase in projected turnout among nonwhite voters. Obama's levels of support are otherwise virtually identical to Kerry's.

In fact, Obama is not reaching Kerry's level of support yet without leaners (-4 points). However, he has widened the gap among African-American voters by about +14 points. (I'm guessing those voters aren't switching based on white guilt.) You'll find a similar pattern in any of the Southern states that Obama has pushed into the "lean" column.

The obvious explanation for those numbers is that support for the Republican ticket has softened considerably since 2004. Regardless, since the racial-exegesis explanation explains neither of those results, I reiterate: you fail.
posted by spiderwire at 8:15 PM on July 23, 2008


Feel free to explain the connection between white guilt and prosecutions and, like, totally pop my little political bubble, man. I'm sure it'll be completely mind-blowing.

Wouldn't it be really weird if you next answered your own question, to "make it easy" for me?
posted by Brian B. at 8:33 PM on July 23, 2008


Not into the whole reading thing, are you?
posted by spiderwire at 8:41 PM on July 23, 2008


Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood. You were asking me to play devil's advocate for your ignorant-ass argument. I respectfully decline; I was looking forward to your explanation.
posted by spiderwire at 9:00 PM on July 23, 2008




How Obama Became Acting President
posted by caddis at 5:00 AM on July 27, 2008


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