Israeli paper publishes Obama's stolen Western Wall prayer
July 27, 2008 5:13 AM   Subscribe

Israeli paper publishes Obama's stolen Western Wall prayer New York, July 26 : Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama wrote a prayer in Jerusalem this week - and left it at Judaism's holiest of sites, the Western Wall. As Barack placed his prayer in the cracks of the Western Wall, someone came from behind and stole it. That pilfered prayer has now been published in an Israeli newspaper, exposing to the world a personal plea for God to help him "guard against pride and despair."
posted by Postroad (237 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
He asked for a pony.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:16 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


May I suggest adding the 'ohno!' tag to this? It's appropriate.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:17 AM on July 27, 2008


"Lord- Protect my image, and make this note innocuous enough that, if found, it will re-enforce my carefully-plotted appearance of piety. Please bless my PR people."
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:18 AM on July 27, 2008 [51 favorites]


As prayers go, sounds like a pretty good one to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:18 AM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


But it is reassuring, somehow, to know that Mayor Curley is still as mean-spirited and cynical as ever.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:20 AM on July 27, 2008 [27 favorites]


But, what sort of person steals a prayer? Damn.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:20 AM on July 27, 2008 [39 favorites]


Thousands upon thousands of people leave their prayers at the Western Wall. It is so petty and ugly that some kid decided he should go and scoop up the man's prayer and take it to get some kind of news bite.
posted by cavalier at 5:21 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


"But, what sort of person steals a prayer?"

A Jew.

:D
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:22 AM on July 27, 2008 [18 favorites]


WELL, IT WAS!!!
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:22 AM on July 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


That seems a bit like bugging a confessional. And done by a seminary student, eh?
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on July 27, 2008


A Jew.

Haha! (I think...)

Should I have known I was setting myself up for an answer like that? I guess if I had thought in those terms ("racial" or religious generalizations) I would've known I was being a straight man. Such an answer never occurred to me, however.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 AM on July 27, 2008


Oh, nooooo, of course not, flapjax. ;)
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:31 AM on July 27, 2008


I just came here to check that the internet works.


Ok guys, that's a...
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:33 AM on July 27, 2008


"Safari can’t open the page “http://story.israelherald.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/f81a4d9d561822ee/id/386656/cs/1/” because it could not connect to the server “story.israelherald.com”."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:35 AM on July 27, 2008


Heh. Think what you will, Henry!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 AM on July 27, 2008


I love Obama, and i still think this was made to happen. Reverend Jackson was made to happen. And others i must have missed. Its all good if his later actions reflect his words. However the FISA vote showed us the maximum size limit of his balls. He won't fix the fundamental issues and you people will still have to revolt by yourselves.

There's Obama for you.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:37 AM on July 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Good evening, and welcome to the Four Season's Hades. Checking in?

Yes, reservation for Jacob Schulevitz.

Very well, I'll need your credit card and a form of ID...let's see...Schulevitz. Ah, there you are. Thanks for being part of our membership rewards program, I do see that you're a Glowing-White-Hot-Platinum status...and I do have your complimentary upgrade to our molten member's floor and a Surface-of-the-Sun suite available.


Thanks, I had to steal a prayer from the holiest site in Judaism for that.

Ah, I see! Well we do hope you'll enjoy your stay. I show your check-out date as never. Belze-hop! Would you help Mr. Schulevitz to his room please?
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:38 AM on July 27, 2008 [16 favorites]


Wow, that is just a totally new level of dickery. Both from the dude who stole the prayer and the newspaper that published it. I think to get more dick you gotta start molesting children or something. Good job, guy!
posted by schroedinger at 5:56 AM on July 27, 2008


And you people who are claiming this is all a stunt are almost as dick as the guy who did this. Jesus Christ, does nobody believe in decency any more?
posted by schroedinger at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Does nobody believe in competency in democrat politicians any more?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:03 AM on July 27, 2008


Jesus Christ, does nobody believe in decency any more?

Oh, I believe in it, but I'm also aware that there's a damn shortage of it. As far as whether or not this thing was staged, hmm... could've been. I'd have no way of knowing for sure, but, could've been.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 AM on July 27, 2008


I do see that you're a Glowing-White-Hot-Platinum status...and I do have your complimentary upgrade to our molten member's floor and a Surface-of-the-Sun suite available.

Coincidentally, that's a pretty good description of the weather the one time I visited Israel.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:05 AM on July 27, 2008


The Obama campaign has declined to comment on the note.

Seems to me the Obama team are at least trying to take the high road, schroedinger.
posted by orange swan at 6:06 AM on July 27, 2008


"... Jesus Christ, does nobody believe in decency any more?"
posted by schroedinger at 8:58 AM on July 27 [+] [!]

I'm no rabbi, but maybe this is just JC or God or $INSERT_DEITY helping him to "guard against pride and despair." Because, otherwise, that prayer is periously close in spirit to one that has been prayed there before.
posted by paulsc at 6:10 AM on July 27, 2008


Historians, or Newshounds, has this ever happened before?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:19 AM on July 27, 2008


Wow, every possible way to interpret that story results in the conclusion that at least one person involved in the story is the king asshole. This is amazing, but unbelievable. There can only be one king asshole.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:20 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems to me the Obama team are at least trying to take the high road

They're just relieved that it wasn't self-addressed.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:23 AM on July 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


To save others the trouble of looking up paulsc's reference: Luke 18:10–12.
posted by gleuschk at 6:29 AM on July 27, 2008


paulsc, I'm not sure it is. All three requests by Obama seem pretty generic. "Guard against pride" may seem like a prideful statement itself - but on the other hand, pride is one of the worst character traits explored in the Bible, in both the Torah and the Gospels.
posted by Picklegnome at 6:30 AM on July 27, 2008


Your current president's prayer would've probably read like a letter to Santa.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:31 AM on July 27, 2008 [43 favorites]


It's a win-win for the big O. To the left, the message is that religion should be a private affair. To the more religious swing-voters, the message is that Obama does have a humble, God-fearing side.

Also, I love how most American papers reported the story, complete with horrified reactions by all denominations of rabbinic authorities that someone would steal, let along publish a private prayer form the wall. But the NYPost decided to show the ACTUAL LETTER on their front page!
posted by ericbop at 6:31 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Part of me is glad it was such a thoughtful, reverent prayer.
Other parts of me wish it said this: "Allahu Akbar! God damn America! Just kidding."
Or maybe this.
posted by naju at 6:32 AM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I prefer Stephen Colbert's version, which was, if I remember correctly : "Please, God, don't let Jesse Jackson cut my nuts off".
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:42 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Apparently nothing is sacred anymore.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:42 AM on July 27, 2008


According to this little tale related by Rabbi Shraga Simmons, though, it's not the first time a prayer from the Wailing Wall has been read by someone other than G-d.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:43 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


What normally happens to the notes left there? They must have to periodically clean them out... anyone?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2008


They must have to periodically clean them out... anyone?

Meatbomb, read that little article I linked to in the comment just above yours.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:56 AM on July 27, 2008


Or, here's the pertinent bit:

Because of the great volume, every so often, all the notes are removed from the Wall and buried, along with other holy objects that are not being used anymore.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:57 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


His prayers have already been answered. He's running against John McCain for fuck's sake.
posted by baphomet at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2008 [12 favorites]


Pagan sacrifice at the volcano.
posted by netbros at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


From flapjax's link : "God had good eyesight"

Interesting use of the past tense.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2008


I used to work in a movie theater right down the street from Marilyn Monroe's grave in Westwood, which is tucked into a tiny cemetery surrounded by high-rise buildings, and also contains the graves of Natalie Wood, Truman Capote, and the girl from Poltergeist. People left notes at Miss Monroe's grave all the time, and, I feel guilty about this now, but I would steal them before work and read them when I had a spare moment. I was just unendurably curious about what sort of notes people would write to the burial vault of a long-dead actress.

Mostly they were love notes, of a sort, praising Marilyn's beauty and her talent as an actress. Some included detailed descriptions of where the author of the note came from -- and they came from around the world -- and the planning it took to make this trip, and how long they planned it, sometimes including information about how long the flight took and how hard it was to find the cemetery.

A few notes actually contained detailed autobiographies from troubled people, discussing their experiences with drugs addiction, or their bad experiences with men who beat them, or the homophobic violence they suffered from their parents. These notes rarely seemed intended for Ms. Monroe herself, but were obviously just written in a confessional torrent, because they desperately needed someone to hear this story.

This is why it is a good thing I don't live near the Western Wall. Curiosity and boredom can be a toxic combination, and it's easy to convince yourself that, you know, Marilyn is dead, so she's not going to be reading these notes, or, I suppose, God already knows what you wrote. It doesn't make it right, but I would surprised if it didn't turn out a lot of people steal notes from the Wailing Wall, just because they can't resist. And a prayer from Obama? Man, if you're already a junkie for these sort of confessionals, how could you resist that?

I eventually wrote my own note for Marilyn. All it said was "I'm sorry I stole all your notes." I really am sorry, by the way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:04 AM on July 27, 2008 [81 favorites]


Interesting use of the past tense.

Well, at God's age, you know, He probably needs reading glasses, at least.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:05 AM on July 27, 2008


I find myself picturing a Not Necessarily The News skit:

(loose, jazzy music plays)
Camera from distance shows real footage of Barack Obama about to put a prayer in the wall.
Fake closeup shows him opening it. It reads "please let the White Sox take the World Series".
Distant camera shows him finishing putting the prayer in the wall.
Canned laughter.
posted by tinkertown at 7:09 AM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


And you people who are claiming this is all a stunt are almost as dick as the guy who did this. Jesus Christ, does nobody believe in decency any more?

For the record, I am not claiming this is a calculated stunt by the Obama campaign. But I'll bet you anything that a PR hack actually wrote the content of the note, to get the best possible publicity IN THE EVENT that someone was crass enough to remove the note from the wall.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


at least it wasn't anything he'd be ashamed of now...
posted by krautland at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2008


Astrozombie: it's easy to convince yourself that, you know, Marilyn is dead, so she's not going to be reading these notes, or, I suppose, God already knows what you wrote. is dead, so he's not going to be reading these notes.

FTFY
posted by symbioid at 7:13 AM on July 27, 2008


The people that stole it and printed it are Grade A fuck-knuckles. The good news, though, is that Obama('s people) would have written it with the knowledge that it was going to be published and could specifically tailor the message. As ericbop pointed out above it's win-win for Obama.
posted by meech at 7:15 AM on July 27, 2008


For the record, I am not claiming this is a calculated stunt by the Obama campaign. But I'll bet you anything that a PR hack actually wrote the content of the note, to get the best possible publicity IN THE EVENT that someone was crass enough to remove the note from the wall.

I'd be more inclined to agree with you if he'd written something really profound. As it stands, I'm inclined to think this is exactly what it looks like, and that someone is a real scumbag (even if...my GOD, I can't imagine how tempting it would've been to grab the note and read it...selling it to a news outlet is something else altogether, though).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:17 AM on July 27, 2008


If the Obama campaign people did *not* envisage this note being read, then they are dumber than anyone in the Bush administration, and that is pretty dumb. Having said that, it doesn't mean it's a set-up, but you cover all your bases, you know.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:17 AM on July 27, 2008


Birthday wish rules apply here. Now that it has been said out loud, it will not come true.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:17 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ, does nobody believe in decency any more?

In politics? Nope. I expect nothing less than the most base and vile conduct from all concerned.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:26 AM on July 27, 2008


so if someone could steal a note from obama right after he put it in the wall and get away with it, just how easy would it have been to do something else?

that's the real story here - someone's doing a lousy job of security
posted by pyramid termite at 7:27 AM on July 27, 2008


paulsc:

Obama's prayer seem similar in spirit to the tax collector's prayer ("Lord. help me, a sinner"), if a bit more wordy. I can't see how you could make the case that asking for help with his sin is at all like the Pharisee's prayer.

Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and has, for centuries been considered the sin that caused the fall of Lucifer, who began his career as the head angel before rebelling against God. If the prayer is genuine, it is heartening that Obama recognizes that the greatest danger to himself is the pride that comes with great power.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:27 AM on July 27, 2008


But, what sort of person steals a prayer?

I think the same sort of person who publishes a prayer in their newspaper or posts a link to that article on Metafilter.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:29 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I'll bet you anything that a PR hack actually wrote the content of the note

Yeah. This Obama guy is pretty uncooth. I can't imagine him writing anything near the level of pristine wordplay and flowing discourse found in that thousand word missive. Good work, my good man. Good work.
posted by cashman at 7:34 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


But, what sort of person steals a prayer?

someone who's smart enough to realize that a news outlet will (quietly) pay quite a lot of money for it.

maybe, just maybe, and I don't really believe in this hypothesis, there may also be a political motivation -- the insane hope that the note would be embarrassing or even read something like "ALLAH IS GREAT KILL ALL THE JEWS DESTROY AMERICA GO AL QAEDA GO BWAHAHAHA". in that case, not only the note would have been worth millions, but it would also have destroyed Obama's career had his campaign been so dumb as not to quietly buy it back.
posted by matteo at 7:42 AM on July 27, 2008


they got his blackberry?
posted by es_de_bah at 7:46 AM on July 27, 2008


Can't somebody for once realize that something is not a PR gambit? The context is that right-wing Orthodox Jews in Israel distrust Obama, because he's prefers to let American foreign policy be dictated more by sanity and pragmatism than by apocalyptic fundamentalist Zionism (whether of the Jewish or Christian Right variety). When Obama appeared at the wall, he was heckled by Orthodox rabbis, one of whom yelled "Jerusalem is not for sale." It's not much of a stretch to argue that the seminary student who stole Obama's prayer was probably studying under one of those rabbis.
posted by jonp72 at 7:55 AM on July 27, 2008 [18 favorites]


Where are the intellectual property police?
posted by srboisvert at 8:00 AM on July 27, 2008


"A Jew.

Haha! (I think...)"


Seriously, they are reporting that it was a Jewish seminary student.

He apparently tried selling the prayer to the Maariv Daily for 5000 Shekels, but they Jewed him down to 3000.

(Such a bargain!)
posted by markkraft at 8:03 AM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well I bet Obama's thankful he left out the part about "Forgive me for the man I killed in Tulsa. And the hookers. And the blow."

Seriously, it was a good prayer. And the people who stole it and published it? Suck.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2008


But I'll bet you anything that a PR hack actually wrote the content of the note

Protecting his family...forgiving his sins...guarding against pride and despair...right and just...instrument of His will...

Yeah, that's exactly the kind of slick-talking angle a PR hack would take. HAVE THEY NO SHAME?!!

Just for the record, Mayor Curley, what do you think Obama would have written, you know, if he didn't let his PR people do all his talking for him? (And, wow...it really would have to be ALL his talking, amiright?)

(BTW, how long do you think it'll take before some right-wing blogger notices the word "your" in the last sentence wasn't capitalized and proclaims it evidence that Obama's an athiest?)
posted by PlusDistance at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


seems unlikely to me that this is a stunt; just imagine the fallout if the kid who stole the prayer later revealed that it had been the Obama campaign's idea. seems possible that the PR people wrote the note. but what seems overwhelmingly most likely is that the words are actually Obama's but that his PR people told him to be careful what he wrote, as there is a nonzero chance it would eventually be read.
posted by 256 at 8:10 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Today at PostSecret: George W. Bush's deepest, darkest secret revealed.
posted by Knappster at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


What are the theological rammifications here? Do birthday wish rules (as mentioned by dances with sneetches) apply? Now that it's been read by someone other than The Almighty, will it come true? And what about the guy who stole the prayer - is this like breaking a mirror or stepping under a ladder where he'll be condemned to seven years bad luck?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2008


Thank you for the observation, jonp72, I had not seen any media paint it in that context. At least it establishes a plausible motive more than stupid greed.
posted by cavalier at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2008


Just for the record, Mayor Curley, what do you think Obama would have written, you know, if he didn't let his PR people do all his talking for him?

I don't think he would have been doing it all if his handlers hadn't coordinated it. I think Mr. Obama is too smart to be as religious as he is portrayed, but he pretends to be wicked religious to pander. Can we at least agree that Obama knows that a crumbling wall is not God's fax machine?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:36 AM on July 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Look, he clearly has some religious feeling. And the Western Wall is a pretty imposing place. I'm hardly the most religious person in the world, but I've felt a little awed when I've been in some Buddhist temples or churches. If other people feel that it's some kind of hotline to heaven, why wouldn't he want to share the experience.

He wouldn't be in Israel at all if his handlers hadn't arranged it and he didn't feel the campaign demanded it. Of course he was playing for the camera. But does that have to negate the fact that some of his emotion might be real?

Can we at least agree that Obama wants his family to be protected?
posted by PlusDistance at 8:44 AM on July 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


No. He's a demo-RAT, so he hates all normal, straight families including his own.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2008


Pray: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
- Ambrose Bierce
posted by furtive at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


I love Obama, and i still think this was made to happen.

I don't love Obama (though he's clearly superior to the competition), but I think anyone who thinks this was "made to happen" is as much a nutball as the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and the GOOGLE RON PAUL folks.
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


Citing handlers for their supposed advice on a personal prayer at the wee hours of the morning? Now *THAT* would require a leap of faith to believe, under the circumstances! I mean, the guy writes his own major speeches, but he can't be trusted to write a simple prayer?!

And maybe it's me, but it seems unfair / insulting / ignorant to suggest that you can't be intelligent and religious at the same time.

Very few people question Bush's faith... but is his faith okay, because most of us consider him less intelligent?

I tend to think that Barack Obama is religious like Thomas Jefferson was religious. It shapes his idealism, grounds his beliefs, informs his sense of what is right and just, and gives him a sense of humility... but it doesn't prevent him from viewing science and government as something largely seperate from such beliefs.

Barack Obama isn't afraid to discuss religion, mention God, or reach out to religious constituencies, both as far as meeting with them and through his choice of words... but so did Jefferson. Was Jefferson pandering too, or just a realist?

"Can we at least agree that Obama knows that a crumbling wall is not God's fax machine?"

Can we agree that a believer might possibly feel that God hears all prayers?!

Religion and spirituality is something that is very personal to people, and it is a rare individual who lives an exceptional, successful life without getting an ineffable sense of fate and destiny.

From that point, it's a relatively easy leap to call whatever that guiding force is God.
posted by markkraft at 9:12 AM on July 27, 2008 [12 favorites]


but they Jewed him down to 3000.

Eh, you know, not so much of this maybe.
posted by cortex at 9:17 AM on July 27, 2008 [21 favorites]


"I think anyone who thinks this was "made to happen" is as much a nutball as the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and the GOOGLE RON PAUL folks"

and while you're at it, GET OFF MY LAWN!
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:37 AM on July 27, 2008


What are the theological rammifications here? Do birthday wish rules (as mentioned by dances with sneetches) apply?

No, it's still a prayer.

Now that it's been read by someone other than The Almighty, will it come true?

A prayer is a prayer is a prayer. It's up to the Almighty to decide what to do with it.

And what about the guy who stole the prayer - is this like breaking a mirror or stepping under a ladder where he'll be condemned to seven years bad luck?

No, but he's a dick for all eternity.
posted by dw at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2008


Do birthday wish rules ... apply?

No, but the notes in the Wall are more entertaining when you apply the fortune cookie rules:


And make me an instrument of your will...in bed.
posted by horsewithnoname at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Made you look."
posted by ColdChef at 9:43 AM on July 27, 2008 [6 favorites]




"... If the prayer is genuine, it is heartening that Obama recognizes that the greatest danger to himself is the pride that comes with great power."
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:27 AM on July 27

"If the prayer is genuine," indeed. I guess it's good, then, that he wrote it on King David Hotel stationary, and placed it discreetly, while posing for photos in front of the world press, while on a tour to enhance his personal political stature. Because otherwise, I could have had problems understanding how genuine and sincere his concern about overreaching pride really is.

And, of course, it was completely unforeseeable on the part of this professional politician's paid PR staff, that someone would grab such a note and run with it, after he placed it during an arranged photo opportunity. I mean, really, what are the chances?
posted by paulsc at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another interesting bit of context is that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz ranked Barack Obama lowest, as the worst major party presidential candidate possible on the Israel issue. When you add in the rumors circulating in the United States that Obama is a secret "Manchurian candidate" Muslim (some of which must have been absorbed by American-born Israelis), the idea that an ultra-Orthodox student would steal Obama's prayer from the Wailing Wall looking for evidence of anti-Israel bias isn't so odd. When you consider that the winner of the Israel Factor survey was Rudy Giuliani, I'm thinking that Obama's mediocre ranking on the scale (5.12 out of a scale from 1 to 10) is actually a point in his favor.
posted by jonp72 at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2008


the prayer really read: "if i looking for frog. him name is hopkin green frog..."
posted by punkbitch at 10:06 AM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


jonp72 One of the interesting things is that "mainstream" political thought as defined by the corporate media and what the actual majority of Americans think are often quite different.

The overwhelming majority of Americans (71%) think that the US should be neutral in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. That POV is forbidden, described as well outside the mainstream, by the corporate media.

Even suggesting that US policy should simply be "evenhanded", as Howard Dean did in 2003 provoked a shitstorm, with dozens of Democrats calling for his head and all the major press declaring that Dean had gone off his meds.

Similarly the vast majority of Americans support getting US forces out of Iraq quickly and sticking to a timeline. That view is also routinely derided in the corporate media and routinely held up as an example of radical left wing lunacy.

82% of Americans favor direct, no prerequisite, negotiations with Iran, and you'll note that yet again according to the corporate media that view is heresy, far left insanity that only dirty fucking hippies contemplate between their rounds of toasting tofu over burning American flags.

So, yeah, I'm thinking that Obama's willingness to take a less than rabidly Zionist approach to US/Israeli relations is very much a point in his favor. Startlingly the US public generally likes a bit of sanity, from its politicians.
posted by sotonohito at 10:23 AM on July 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


^ 'cept in years divisible by 4.
posted by yort at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2008


Why are we so upset about a piece of paper bearing [the usual] bland and inoffensive religious sentiment? If Obama is like any other candidate (or any other busy person, for that matter) he constantly scribbles down notes, sometimes sensitive, that are eventually swept into the wastepaper basket. If you don't want something to be read, don't write it down (and this is a good rule no matter how much privacy/confidentiality you think ought to apply). Is the only reason we're supposed to be upset that somebody broke - in this case, seemingly harmlessly - some religious taboo?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:54 AM on July 27, 2008


I think Mr. Obama is too smart to be as religious as he is portrayed, but he pretends to be wicked religious to pander.

I can't see what the difference is between this and the people who think Obama is secretly a Muslim. Sure, he says he's Christian, and he talks about his faith as through it has been a real and significant influence in his life, and he even delivers sermons from time to time, but all that is a smokescreen for what he really is--an [agnostic/Muslim/anti-Christ]. (Choose one or two based on your own personal preconceptions.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


You know, I'm far from Barack Obama's biggest fan, but the lengths to which people will go to and the mental contortions they will subject themselves to in order to believe bad things about Barack Obama are pretty impressive.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:59 AM on July 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Wow paulsc, you're really shitty at this whole being a christian thing.
posted by afu at 11:04 AM on July 27, 2008


"Wow paulsc, you're really shitty at this whole being a christian thing."
posted by afu at 2:04 PM on July 27

Well, to be, um, clear then, I guess it was the right week to take up Scientology.
posted by paulsc at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2008


johnp72 -
1) That's from '06.
2) It's not a survey, it's the opinion of a group of right-wing pundits assembled by Haaretz.
3) Obama's only the lowest if by "lowest" you mean "not lowest". 5.12 Obama, 3.5 Hagel, 5 Clark, 4.86 Vilsack, 5 Feingold (tally) Interestingly, Condoleeza Rice came in at an anemic 5.38.

Here are some other completely unbiased articles from the same columnist:
ANALYSIS 37: What's wrong with Obama?
ANALYSIS 36: Easy choices: McCain better than Obama, Clinton better than what's-his-name
ANALYSIS 35: Clinton or McCain? That's a tough one
ANALYSIS 34: Is Obama is pro-Palestinian? Will McCain will appoint James Baker?
ANALYSIS 33: If Giuliani is out, will it be Clinton or McCain?
ANALYSIS 31: Let McCain deal with Iran
posted by swell at 11:14 AM on July 27, 2008


I don't think he's religious, but I think the sentiment expressed in the prayer is probably sincere.
posted by empath at 11:16 AM on July 27, 2008


The idea that there are people here who just don't believe that Obama is religious is baffling to me. Any such person, in my view, is so far out of touch with any semblance of reality and/or rational thought that I really, really hope they don't vote on anything more important than whether you get doughnuts or bagels at work on Friday morning.
posted by jock@law at 11:21 AM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Panorama of Obama in Berlin
posted by empath at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to work as a Nanny, this is the same note he always put under his pillow for the tooth fairy. He was a serious little boy.
posted by Oyéah at 11:27 AM on July 27, 2008


jock -- i couldn't support Obama if I genuinely thought he was religious, in the sense of being a 'true believer.' I'm sure he has a religious side. I'm an atheist, and I still have vestiges of Catholic thought that crop up from time to time. But he joined his church for political reasons. And he never really expressed the zeal typical of late converts. He has said he never abandoned his doubt. I really think he was more inspired by the way that Wright was able to use Christian allegory to further a political agenda than by the allegory itself.
posted by empath at 11:40 AM on July 27, 2008


empath: Then don't support Obama.
posted by jock@law at 11:42 AM on July 27, 2008


I'm so thankful to have Metafilter so that I can skim through one of these intellectual pissing matches any time I need help remembering why liberalism is basically fucking impotent in America.
posted by nanojath at 11:44 AM on July 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


The idea that there are people here who just don't believe that Obama is religious is baffling to me.

You've got some insight into his heart that proves his religion isn't a politcally expedient show like many other politicians'?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:48 AM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]






TheOnlyCoolTim: How about the fact, oh, say, that he converted well before even running for state office in one of the most liberal and most Catholic cities in the country? Wrong timing, wrong religion, wrong direction. His actions are the opposite of what you'd expect in a political ploy.
posted by jock@law at 12:03 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, see, jock@law, you don't understand: we don't take religious people seriously here at MetaFilter, so in order to take Obama seriously (which we have to do because he's our only hope against the Evil Empire), we have to believe that he's not religious. And when I say "believe," I mean "believe against all the evidence," just like religious people believe in God.

Oops, did I say that out loud?
posted by languagehat at 12:14 PM on July 27, 2008 [12 favorites]


Also, I love how most American papers reported the story, complete with horrified reactions by all denominations of rabbinic authorities that someone would steal, let along publish a private prayer form the wall. But the NYPost decided to show the ACTUAL LETTER on their front page!

There's a mistake in your reply. The NY Post isn't an real newspaper.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


This Obama guy is pretty uncooth. I can't imagine him writing anything near the level of pristine wordplay and flowing discourse found in that thousand word missive.

uncooth. LOL!
posted by quonsar at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


an newspaper?
. . . and i'll never write for one
posted by Mikey-San at 12:19 PM on July 27, 2008


I am not surprised that a Jewish seminary student did this. And every young Orthodox man is a "seminary student" - it's code for "unemployed schmuck who goes to shul all day instead of feeding his wife and twelve kids." But for those bastards, no prayers are important except their own. God hears no one but them, and even most Jews aren't Jewish enough in their eyes, never mind this American Muslim.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:26 PM on July 27, 2008


You know, the evidence is pretty strong that he's a fairly decent guy who's got some pretty good insights on some things. The mental contortions that some folks upthread are going through are truly breathtaking; things that he's doing that they'd approve of must be a conspiracy to sucker them into liking him. The fact that he's Christian, for instance, is an obvious sign that Christians shouldn't like him. Say what, again?

We've gotten so far into the Republican versus Democrat thing that if someone's playing for the wrong team, but professes ideas you like, well, it's all a trick, because obviously he's evil. He's on the wrong team, so he has to be.

I find it baffling to watch these mental gymnastics upthread. He's on the wrong team, therefore evil, therefore anything he says or does is evidence of evil. The better any action looks, the stronger evidence it becomes that the man is deceptive. You can't be a good candidate and be a Democrat, so if one does, that means he's worse.

That's messed up. That kind of thinking, if it continues down the path it's going, will eventually tear the country apart. The welfare of political parties has become more important than the welfare of the nation as a whole; the opposing party, and people who support it, are evil by definition.

If we don't back away from that idea, we're going to end up in violent conflict.
posted by Malor at 12:40 PM on July 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Obama's Secret Rescue Mission
posted by homunculus at 12:44 PM on July 27, 2008


That kind of thinking, if it continues down the path it's going, will eventually tear the country apart.

Yes, yes, we'll end up a divided nation of color-coded states, where every political contest boils down to a few "battleground" states where the margins of victory are so narrow that they could "theoretically" be swayed by things like hacking electronic voting machines, or aggressively suppressing minority votes, or tactical gerrymandering of electoral districts! A complete breakdown of democracy! A cowed and complacent populace, distracted by threats of terrorism, real and (more frequently) imagined, a press not so much partisan as dulled and dumbed down beyond the point of being capable of examining anything beyond the depth of the spoon-fed status quo's carefully crafted talking points, while meanwhile a class of tame intellectuals mill along, preoccupied with the latest lifestyle gadgetry and clinging to their precarious positions in the shrinking middle class, hopelessly holding to the belief that they are somehow contributing to the betterment of the clearly eroding conditions by participating in endless high-minded discussions in politically meaningless electronically mediated forums. That would be terrible! Quick, somebody do something!
posted by nanojath at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


How much weight can Barack Obama lift?
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2008


In Germany, politicians in front of large, shouting crowds evoke images that nobody wants to see repeated.
- Susan Nieman, NYTimes OpEd, 7/26/08

Hey! You know who ELSE was a politician in front of a large, shouting crowd of Germans?
posted by swell at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2008


Obama's Call to Renewal Keynote, 2006
posted by niles at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2008


Hey! You know who ELSE was a politician in front of a large, shouting crowd of Germans?

Ronald Reagan?
posted by homunculus at 1:34 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey! You know who ELSE was a politician in front of a large, shouting crowd of Germans?

jfk?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:54 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Konrad Adenauer?
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And every young Orthodox man is a "seminary student" - it's code for "unemployed schmuck who goes to shul all day instead of feeding his wife and twelve kids."

Actually, they generally get paid to study all day.
posted by lullaby at 2:13 PM on July 27, 2008


This Obama guy is turing out to be a real dimwit. He writes a sappy prayer when any idiot in his position would have left a blank piece of paper.

A degree from Harvard means about as little as a degree from Yale apparently.
posted by three blind mice at 2:14 PM on July 27, 2008


Hey! You know who ELSE was a politician in front of a large, shouting crowd of Germans?

Ronald Reagan?


Like many other examples of Reagan hagiography, the reality is quite different from the recently rewritten history. JFK drew about 120,000 and Obama drew about 200,000. Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech only drew about 20,000, many of whom were vocal protesters booing the speech. The night before 25,000 protesters marched in opposition to Reagan's militant interventionist policies. Reagan was just as unpopular if not more so than GWB in most of Europe.
posted by JackFlash at 2:23 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


nanojath: I meant 'armed conflict', not just arguing.
posted by Malor at 2:24 PM on July 27, 2008


"But, what sort of person steals a prayer?"

A Jew.


That is the kind of disgusting, knuckle-dragging, antisemitic crap we do NOT need here at Metafilter. The idea that a Jew would steal something simply because he's a Jew is -- well, it's beneath contempt. We would NEVER steal a man's prayer out of the Wailing Wall!!!!

We would, however, charge him rent on the crack.
posted by PlusDistance at 2:30 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey Jesus, it's me Barry.
Remember that time on the beach when there was only one set of footprints? WTF?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


To be fair, Obama (who had of course the advantage of speaking in a united Berlin) drew a crowd much larger than Reagan did.

To comment on the larger issue -- after the Rev. Wright disaster (and it was a disaster, face it, even if you're one of those who think that Obama's shit doesn't stink) religion is quite obviously a delicate topic for the Obama campaign -- you don't want anyone to believe the "he's a Muslim" chain e-mails, OK, but still diuscussing religion now only reinforces the fact that Obama the young atheist was converted and mentored for 20 years, the daughters baptized etc etc, by a guy who's essentially a Black Panther, to the left of Farrakhan. it's a delicate balancing act, for the Obama campaign: even after they eventually threw Wright under the bus.

The anti-abortion single-issue religious voters (just mefimail konolia if in doubt) will never vote for him, because Roe v Wade is one vote away from being overturned and poor John Paul Stevens is about 136 years old. after 30 years, they finally have Roe cornered: no amount of ass-kissing from Obama will make them vote for him, unless gas touches 10 dollars a gallon (it won't, from here to November).

Less abortion-obsessed religious voters might be up for grabs -- I mean, no one seriously believes McCain is even remotely religious, and to his credit he's not really pretending to be a good Christian, he spins his saintliness with the "Martyred By The Commie Gooks" thing, not with his going to church. But still, Obama -- ironically -- has the same problem JFK had. The basically secular JFK couldn't really act too religious because that would only remind voters that he was a Catholic, and so many people thought he'd end up taking orders from the Pope (as insane as it sounds today). Seeing Obama in Church only reminds you that he doesn't have a Church now because he listened for 20 years to Wright's sermons but now he doesn't go there anymore, and it's not something you really want to remind voters.

To sum it up, he has to look Christian (ie, "NOT A MUSLIM, SIR, NO SIR!") without reminding people too much of the "God Damn America" guy. Good luck for that.

But then, at least Obama is breathing, walking, talking. Watching the barely-alive McCain on TV is so painful that maybe Obama has a better chance to win than I rationally think he has.
posted by matteo at 2:38 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


three blind mice said: This Obama guy is turing out to be a real dimwit. He writes a sappy prayer when any idiot in his position would have left a blank piece of paper. A degree from Harvard means about as little as a degree from Yale apparently.

At least at Harvard, we learn things like how to spell "turning," and all of the fine third-grade skills of proofreading. More substantively, though, is your failure to contribute anything other than insults to the discussion. Your point is cynical at best; at worst, it's meaningless drivel. You honestly think the media running stories like "Obama blasphemes Judeo-Christian holy site, snubs God with blank prayer" would be a better result? Instead, the whole incident sends the message to millions of Midwestern swing state voters that Obama prays for humility.

Sounds like something you should start praying for.
posted by jock@law at 2:42 PM on July 27, 2008


Panorama of Obama in Berlin

More like a Panorbama, amirite?
I hate myself.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:45 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least at Harvard, we learn things like how to spell "turning,"

Wow, the Ivy League's reputation for arduous curricula has been grossly inflated.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:53 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'M IN UR WAILING WALL, FILCHING UR OBSECRATIONZ!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:57 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"No, see, jock@law, you don't understand: we don't take religious people seriously here at MetaFilter, so in order to take Obama seriously (which we have to do because he's our only hope against the Evil Empire), we have to believe that he's not religious. ...""
posted by languagehat at 3:14 PM on July 27

Or, you know, we could just take seriously the idea that a guy who arranges a photo op, specifically involving his religious observances at the Western Wall, is politicizing his religion for calculated effect. Because if he was there for anything but politics, he could have gone, sans cameras, and he wouldn't have been thanking the media for coming out at 7:00 a.m. to cover the event. Once the candidate does that, his religion, or lack thereof, or his outright hypocrisy, is in play.

I can say this with some situational insight, because in all the times I've gone to the Wailing Wall, I never called a press conference there, or posed for pictures, so I never had to thank anyone for coming out to cover my visits. People do a lot of things there, but photo ops aren't the reason it was built.

What comes out of a larger comparison, that can be conducted there any day by anyone who has more than a 15 minute photo op slot to spend in that ancient place, between the behavior of thousands of normal people who go there, many on pilgrimage, to have some kind of sacred experience of the place, and a guy like Obama who is there to use it as a photo backdrop, is that Obama's mindset on a lot of topics isn't anything like that of the average man. This is a guy who starts his "stolen prayer" with the request “Lord — Protect my family and me,” after arranging appearances of his children in numerous photos for press distribution, and granting interviews that include his children, in service of his political career. This is a guy who, along with his wife, has determined that the best place to raise their kids, in the whole world, is in the fishbowl of the White House, where Secret Service agents will need to keep an eye on them. Well, he did think that, at least until the wisdom of exposing his family to publicity was called into question.
"I don't think it's healthy and it's something that we'll be avoiding in the future," Obama said Wednesday on "Good Morning America."
But you know, this isn't a guy who has much in common with most family men, who often choose where to live, and even what career commitments to undertake, based on the schools and needs of their kids. I know I did, on a number of occasions, as my Dad had made such considerations for me and my siblings, without question. Because that is what a Dad does - he puts his kids first, and not just on King David Hotel stationary. I guess I'm glad Obama is now giving enough consideration to his kid's welfare to ask $INSERT_DEITY's protection for them, along with that of the Secret Service. That's at least one of his position changes I, and probably Britney Spears, can support. I keep looking for others.

You'd think a guy who was editor of the Harvard Law Review would be bright enough to see that putting your minor children out front, isn't the best strategy for living a public life, before being called on it publicly. You'd think a guy that maintains he has the foresight to lead the world, could at least lead a substantive press conference in Israel that wasn't subject to being borked on phony photo symbolism.

You'd think, but on the evidence of July, you'd be wrong.
posted by paulsc at 3:02 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with everything paulsc said with the provisio that, unlike McCain, at least Obama doesn't look like a testicle.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:14 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


JFK drew about 120,000 and Obama drew about 200,000.

How many newspapers bothered to report that there were no less than two popular music acts that afternoon in Berlin, and that Obama's "crowd" was largely there for the music?

Nobody will ever convince me that Obama didn't think his note would be read, or even published. Obama is by far the most brilliant orator we've seen vie for public office in a long time. He's also one of the most coldly calculating politicians we've seen run for President, maybe ever.

However, if he didn't think that, having it read and published is pure karmic payback for his vote to essentially support spying on the American people, with retroactive immunity for those who trample on 4th Amendment rights.

The great irony in his campaign is that he has used the power of communications distribution to spread his word, but his words keep changing. Thus, the thing that brought him to the pinnacle will probably be the thing that brings him down. I mean, how many times can a Presidential candidate do 180 degree reversals without getting shredded for it? So, far, Obama is the all-time flip-flopping champ.


Watching the barely-alive McCain on TV is so painful that maybe Obama has a better chance to win than I rationally think he has.

That's what a lot of Mitt Romney's people were saying.

btw, I'm not voting for Obama, or McCain. Again, the American public has been hoodwinked, and screwed over. We have two lame politicians to chose from.

Last, I was noting comments about how we're becoming a divided nation. Voting patterns bear that out. There's been a decided increase in landslide results for one candidate or the other since 1976. Voting patterns are hardening. (I searched for a recent, highly-touted and well-researched book about this point, but couldn't find it)

I don't think we're going to see anything much different this year than we saw in 2004. With certain battleground states looking for someone they resonate with in their *gut*. I don't think Obama is going to change that pattern, based solely on his performance in the latter part of the primary against Hillary Clinton.
posted by MetaMan at 3:16 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paul, you're a smart guy, but your nitpicking is beginning to make you sound like a loon.
posted by JackFlash at 3:19 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


At least at Harvard, we learn things like how to spell "turning," and all of the fine third-grade skills of proofreading.

for eighty thousand dollars a year, you'd better.
posted by matteo at 3:34 PM on July 27, 2008


is politicizing his religion for calculated effect.

Unlike George W. Bush who ran as the Jesus Guy in 2000 and he upgraded to Guy Who Talks To God in 2004? Unlike him, you mean? Or are you talking about the shameful way McCain backed his truck up on the "agents of intolerance" thing and then sent his sad butler Joe Lieberman to kiss the insane antisemite John Hagee's ass (one wonders if they made poor Joe eat a post-event ham sandwich just for shits and giggles) in order to get some evangelical votes? is that the kind of politicizing one's religion for calculated effect you're talking about?


People do a lot of things there, but photo ops aren't the reason it was built.


no, not the reason it was built, photo-ops are the reason the Temple was destroyed, together with the rest of the city -- after razing Jerusalem to the ground Titus had his portrait taken (sculptures, bas relief, etc, too bad they didn't have HDTV back then) so much it launched a kickass political career. he was, you know, tough on terrorism and the right man to become Emperor.
posted by matteo at 3:47 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


How many newspapers bothered to report that there were no less than two popular music acts that afternoon in Berlin, and that Obama's "crowd" was largely there for the music?

Well, they didn't mention the 70,000+ at that rally in Portland were there to see the Decemberists! MEDIA CONSPIRACY!

(Are there 70,000 Decemberists fans in the entire world?)
posted by dw at 3:50 PM on July 27, 2008


jock, you don't have the faintest fucking clue what you're talking about.

How about the fact, oh, say, that he converted well before even running for state office in one of the most liberal and most Catholic cities in the country?

He wasn't running mayor of Chicago, he was running to represent the south side, and TUCC was the most influential church in his district.
posted by empath at 3:56 PM on July 27, 2008


Nobody will ever convince me that Obama didn't think his note would be read, or even published.

True, and nobody will ever convince you that Senator Obama isn't a puppy-kicking Muslim who hates women and wants to turn America into a radioactive wasteland. So who cares what you think?

I'd be a lot more convinced by anti-Obama arguments if they weren't all predicated on Ron-Paul-style insanities. You could talk about his tax cuts for the poor and middle class and try to convince me that it's somehow worse than Senator McCain's tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans, at the expense of the poor and middle class. But you won't. You could talk about how we need to stay in Iraq for another hundred years and how somehow this will be a compassionate endeavor that won't engender further hatred of Americans abroad. But you won't.

Instead, you and everyone else who are supposedly "lifelong Democrats" who also happen to loathe one of the smartest and most inspiring politicians of the last three generations would rather discuss seriously crazy stuff like how Obama isn't even an American citizen or his wife was videotaped screaming "Whitey did it" or Obama wasn't playing basketball with troops stationed in Kuwait but secretly poisoning them with fluoride.

And the guy puts a note in a holy site that should have never been seen by anyone else, and it's stolen, and published, and you somehow think that this was his grand plan all along? That is insanity. What would make you happy? Seriously? What could the note have possibly said that you wouldn't have jumped on to point out some sort of flaw in his character? Give me one sentence you wouldn't have flipped out at.

Look, folks, I hate George W. Bush with unmatched passion. I think he has been a just awful, awful President and I think he is also probably an awful human being. But I am pretty sure that he loves his kids, and I am pretty sure that he thinks he's doing the right thing, even when he's doing something illegal or ill-advised or grossly criminal. If I can give that asshole the benefit of the doubt, would it be too hard for you to think, just for a second, that Barack Obama loves his family and his country, and wants what's best for both?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:57 PM on July 27, 2008 [18 favorites]


Someone has to clear out all the old prayers in the wall to make space for new ones. What happens to the old slips of paper? dumpster? compost? incinerator? recycled to make toilet paper and maxi pads?
posted by HotPatatta at 4:15 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]




they're put through markov filters and typed into metafilter comments - there's at least 5 in this thread alone
posted by pyramid termite at 4:20 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


How many newspapers bothered to report that there were no less than two popular music acts that afternoon in Berlin, and that Obama's "crowd" was largely there for the music?

Citations or you're a liar.
posted by oaf at 4:30 PM on July 27, 2008


"Unlike George W. Bush who ran as the Jesus Guy in 2000 and he upgraded to Guy Who Talks To God in 2004? Unlike him, you mean? Or are you talking about the shameful way McCain backed his truck up on the "agents of intolerance" thing and then sent his sad butler Joe Lieberman to kiss the insane antisemite John Hagee's ass (one wonders if they made poor Joe eat a post-event ham sandwich just for shits and giggles) in order to get some evangelical votes? is that the kind of politicizing one's religion for calculated effect you're talking about?"
posted by matteo at 6:47 PM on July 27

Those guys weren't standing behind the word "CHANGE" and trying to look secularly inspirational every chance they got. "If you're pushing 'CHANGE,' don't try to lead with the other guy's issues" is probably the best advice I have for you. Don't throw your pastor under the bus, and trot off to Jerusalem to model a yarmulke to demonstrate that you're still fist-bump tight with $INSERT_DEITY. You can't help looking foolish.

But what do I know? I'm not a Harvard lawyer, bragging about the $200+ million war chest I've got, and backing away from my 16 month deadline for getting out of Iraq, now that, finally, I've been there. I don't know what Petraeus said to Obama, but I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that meeting.
posted by paulsc at 4:31 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


There were two bands at Obama's appearance in Berlin.

Reamon and Patrice -- I have no idea how popular they are in Germany, or if they'd have drawn 200,000 people.
posted by empath at 4:39 PM on July 27, 2008


If I can give that asshole the benefit of the doubt, would it be too hard for you to think, just for a second, that Barack Obama loves his family and his country, and wants what's best for both?

Maybe you should give citizens and Democrats who have doubts about Obama the same benefit of the doubt, instead of writing rants on imaginary accusations made against Obama.

Not one of the things you bring up did I mention in my previous post. So stop distorting what's said.

I have never said that Obama isn't a good man. I have always said that his qualifications for the highest political office on our land are suspect, and that he is a politician whose moral center is yet to be revealed. I do not trust the man, and his political record - what there is of it - is full of electoral chicanery, outright "borrowing" of other's legislative initiatives (look at his record in the IL state legislature)

Obama has reversed himself on practically every major stance he held fast to during the primary campaign, including others that he didn't tout during the primary. So why should anyone trust what he says? Because he talks pretty?

How is it that I haven't heard a serious PEEP from Obama supporters about his shredding of the 4th Amendment with a "yes" vote on the FISA bill?

Tax cuts? How is Obama going to do that, with his planned redeployments into Afghanistan, and his highly questionable health care reforms; social security taxes; handguns, campaign financing, and on and on and on. How about welfare reform?

Obama's tax cuts? The increase in investment income tax, combined with income tax will hurt seniors, who tend to have income gains from triggered 401K's, home and business sales (capital gains), and the sale of business equipment (income).

Obama's taxes will be hard on those who don't get a pension, many corporate workers, small farmers, owners of mom-and-pop retail, etc.. Many in these sectors will have $1-2million income for one year, especially in the form of capital gains.


And please don't give me that crap about how "smart" Obama is. Jimmy Carter could run rings around Obama. Carter was/is a nice guy, with a good heart, but he didn't make the grade.


What could the note have possibly said that you wouldn't have jumped on to point out some sort of flaw in his character? Give me one sentence you wouldn't have flipped out at.

THis has _nothing_ to do with the content of the note, and _everything_ to do with the fact that Obama is a very carefully honed candidate, who has not missed one opportunity to manipulate a crowd. I don't fault him for that; he's a politician. So it comes off as rather naive on your part to think that someone of Obama's stature would write anything but the most self-prepossessing praiseworthy words on any document that might be seen by others.

I've gone into some of this elsewhere. America is a great country, and although I'm not voting for either McCain or Obama, there is no way that anyone with any common sense is going to beleive that John McCain is another George Bush. Anyone who even intimates that is either ignorant of the facts, or so blinded by cultism that they can't see straight.

I have problems with McCain, too. Like I said before, we've been had by the MSM, and our own myth that "someone" will save us from our excesses of the last 30-40 years. It's ain't gonna happen.

America will evolve a new moral tone. America _wants_ a new moral tone. Obama is not going to deliver on that, nor is McCain.

Only YOU and I, and 300 million other Americans, by ourselves, and together, can make that happen. If you think Obama is going to lead you in the right direction, or McCain, you're dreaming. They're both beholden to large, moneyed interests, and things much as they have always been, with the Democrats and Republicans playing "good cop, bad cop" depending on the issue, or the time.

Wake up!
posted by MetaMan at 4:43 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obama with Reamonn -- not sure why obama is throwin up a gang sign, there.
posted by empath at 4:46 PM on July 27, 2008


throw your pastor under the bus

I have a rule that if someone says something along the lines "Obama threw x under the bus", I can safely ignore anything else they have to say, since they've demonstrated that they can't do anything but regurgitate talking points.
posted by empath at 4:52 PM on July 27, 2008


Reamon and Patrice -- I have no idea how popular they are in Germany, or if they'd have drawn 200,000 people.

Well, seeing as how neither has a single at the moment in the top 100, I'm not sure they'd draw 200,000 people.
posted by oaf at 4:53 PM on July 27, 2008


Citations or you're a liar.

So who's a liar? I'm not the one that has flip-flopped more than a dolphin, like your plastic Jesus candidate.

Police have cordoned off a broad section of the city centre around the speech venue, where European bands and DJs are to warm up the crowd before Obama takes the stage at around 7:30 pm. and here and change Germans can't believe in
posted by MetaMan at 4:54 PM on July 27, 2008


I mean, paulsc's last post is essentially the entire carefully crafted narrative the GOP is pushing on Obama, that he has no center, that he's unprincipled, that he doesn't have loyalty, that he's a cipher. It's wrong, but more important than that (to me), it's also boring.
posted by empath at 4:55 PM on July 27, 2008


Barack Obama and John McCain. Two men of God. Two brothers in His sight. But now, brother is pitted against brother. And this November, God has to choose one - and only one - to be his representative on Earth. Both have asked for His blessing - both have prayed for His guidance. One of them sacrificed a goat to appease Him. Yeah, it was pretty fucking gross actually, but there you go. Anyway, both men, both godly men have invoked his help. And come November, God himself will clench his awesome fist and, with the force of a hurricane, will drive that fist through the cap of clouds; down, with unspeakable velocity and momentous power, down from the vault of heaven and with infinite violence, He will crush into powdery oblivion, into microscopic dust, one or other of these two righteous statesmen. BAM! Like a fucking battering ram of titanium His gargantuan judgment will descend and obliterate the un-chosen candidate. Like a petulant child crushing a damselfly underfoot, His choice will flatten down the curve of the Earth and the air will shake and sweat to feel the passing of His swift and final blow. And THAT is democracy, my friends - THAT is why America is the greatest nation on this bountiful and beautiful Earth, because when God himself casts His vote there's no college of electors that can dimiss or glance aside the tremendous holy missile of His will, nor prevent a glassy crater of justice, 75-foot in radius, around the miniscule corpse of whosoever does not merit his choice. So fuck YOU, Iran - and up YOURS, Belgium. When you've got DEMOCRACY and you've got GOD you've got a political decision-making process that can't be beat. And come November, it will come. So just think about that before you decide to run for congress or D.A. or local councillor, because once that big, numinous bastard up there starts voting, you better kiss your fucking asshole goodbye, you shitfucker.

Actually that's how I assume this thing works, but if anyone can fill in a few details I've missed, please do add your two cents.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:03 PM on July 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


How is it that I haven't heard a serious PEEP from Obama supporters about his shredding of the 4th Amendment with a "yes" vote on the FISA bill?

I guess you haven't been reading then - Obama supporters both here and elsewhere were largely disappointed by his FISA stance; however, one vote that I disagree with doesn't mean that I'm cutting off my support. When his position on civil liberties is worse than McCain's, then I'll vote for McCain. Let me know if and when that happens.

Tax cuts? How is Obama going to do that, with his planned redeployments into Afghanistan, and his highly questionable health care reforms; social security taxes; handguns, campaign financing, and on and on and on.

His tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000/year are offset by increased income taxes on those earning more than $250,000/year. I don't know how handguns and campaign financing tie into that.

And please don't give me that crap about how "smart" Obama is. Jimmy Carter could run rings around Obama. Carter was/is a nice guy, with a good heart, but he didn't make the grade.

Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law, he writes his own books, and much of his own speeches. You telling me he's not smart says more about you than it does him.

no way that anyone with any common sense is going to beleive that John McCain is another George Bush

This is true. George W. Bush was a much better student than John McCain.

If you think Obama is going to lead you in the right direction, or McCain, you're dreaming.

Obama's term as President will not be a golden age. There is a tremendous amount of work we all have to do to fix the messes of the last forty years of corporate hegemony, and specifically the last eight years of war profiteering and Constitution-shredding. At best, we will be almost back on our feet by 2016. Sometimes that is all you can hope for.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:06 PM on July 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


At best, we will be almost back on our feet by 2016. Sometimes that is all you can hope for.

Yes. Exactly.
I have never seen the stereotype that Obama supporters believe that he's the messiah and will magically fix everything play out in real life. We know it's not going to be perfect, but it won't be as bad as it could be.
posted by 235w103 at 5:09 PM on July 27, 2008


So who's a liar? [. . .]

Police have cordoned off a broad section of the city centre around the speech venue, where European bands and DJs are to warm up the crowd before Obama takes the stage at around 7:30 pm.
posted by MetaMan at 4:54 PM on July 27


Yes. Obama was the main event. Before main events there are these things called "openers." By your logic the reason so many people show up to Rolling Stones concerts is to see Our Lady Peace and Maroon 5.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:11 PM on July 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


caddis posted this excellent piece by Frank Rich in another Obama thread: How Obama Became Acting President
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"... If I can give that asshole the benefit of the doubt, would it be too hard for you to think, just for a second, that Barack Obama loves his family and his country, and wants what's best for both?"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:57 PM on July 27

I'll grant that Barack Obama loves his family, and I never questioned that. What I do question is his, and his wife's judgment in granting media access to their kids. The Obamas are both Harvard lawyers, and savvy public figures. They're not inexperienced in dealing with the media. Thus, their actions are, or should be, well considered, particularly where their kids are concerned.

If their actions aren't well considered, and in the best interests of their kids, it's not only fair, it's important to ask why not. Judgment about the welfare of those nearest and dearest to you is likely to be the best you've got, and this was such an obviously bad call, I think a lot of people were shocked by it. Only a loose sense of propriety by major U.S. media outlets when minor children are involved in a story, and Obama's trip, have kept this from being a bigger issue than it otherwise would have been.

In summary, I'll grant Obama:
Love of Family - A+
Love of Country - A+

If you'll grant Obama:
Judgment About Family Security - FAIL, REPEAT BY CANDIDATE
Judgment About Iraq Withdrawal Timetable and National Security - SUSPECT; PROBABLE FAIL - DROP REQUEST BY CANDIDATE IN PROCESS

M'kay?
posted by paulsc at 5:19 PM on July 27, 2008


"... if anyone can fill in a few details I've missed, please do add your two cents."
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:03 PM on July 27

Florida. Again.
posted by paulsc at 5:23 PM on July 27, 2008


OK, on reading MetaMan's links, I can now definitively respond to this:

How many newspapers bothered to report that there were no less than two popular music acts that afternoon in Berlin, and that Obama's "crowd" was largely there for the music?

None, because the crowd was there to see Obama speak.
posted by oaf at 5:27 PM on July 27, 2008


I'm not sure that doing a softball interview with your wife and kids on an entertainment show is a horrible crime, or even bad judgement.
posted by empath at 5:28 PM on July 27, 2008


We would, however, charge him rent on the crack.

You see, renting cracks is exactly the kind of thing that got Spitzer in trouble...
posted by qvantamon at 5:37 PM on July 27, 2008


backing away from my 16 month deadline for getting out of Iraq, now that, finally, I've been there

Your links don't support your claim. The first one is from before the trip, and he reiterates his position, which has been consistent all along: pulling one or two brigades a month out of Iraq depending on conditions, which would take about 16 months. He's always said one or two brigades a month, which means the timeline has always been flexible. The second one says Obama "gained fresh support Monday for the idea of pulling all U.S. combat forces from the war zone by 2010" and doesn't mention that the Iraqi prime minister explicitly endorsed Obama's 2010 timeline, which Bush and McCain have basically also done. And Obama had been to Iraq before, in 2006.

If you're pushing 'CHANGE,' don't try to lead with the other guy's issues

Obama has also consistently supported negotiation with Iran. McCain and Bush mocked him for it; now Bush is negotiating with Iran.

He's also one of the most coldly calculating politicians we've seen run for President, maybe ever.

As opposed to all of the altruistic idealists who ran before him. An ambitious presidential candidate? My stars!

there were no less than two popular music acts that afternoon in Berlin, and that Obama's 'crowd' was largely there for the music?

If the bands were popular enough to draw crowds that size, the news would have been "Obama appears at $band concert."

A degree from Harvard means about as little as a degree from Yale apparently.

President Bush went to both.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:58 PM on July 27, 2008


"I have a rule that if someone says something along the lines "Obama threw x under the bus", I can safely ignore anything else they have to say, since they've demonstrated that they can't do anything but regurgitate talking points."
posted by empath at 7:52 PM on July 27

'll grant that Barack Obama loves his family, and I never questioned that. ..."
posted by paulsc at 8:19 PM on July 27

"I'm not sure that doing a softball interview with your wife and kids on an entertainment show is a horrible crime, or even bad judgement. [sic]"
posted by empath at 8:28 PM on July 27

So I take it I've still got your interest, after all, empath?

So, you think making photos of your kids available to media outlets is a wise thing for public figures to do? The value of a 20 ratings points bump for your career (thanks for the pointer, homunculus) on an infotainment program is enough that you'd make that trade, if they were your kids?

The narrow benefit for the risk is a measure many people cite in saying they see this as a poor judgment call. If the kids had gone on TV to promote third world vaccination programs, it might have a different ethical bent. But, they went on to help package Barack and Michelle Obama as parents, on those same parents' authorization. Not the best ethical decision ever made, by far.
posted by paulsc at 6:09 PM on July 27, 2008


Metaman, buddy, Hillary Clinton lost. Go away until you're reconciled to that fact instead of reposting Hillaryis44's greatest hits.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:11 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, if Barack Obama feels that he's a better choice for the country, why shouldn't he be doing photo ops and press events and shit? What is wrong with that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:12 PM on July 27, 2008


"... Your links don't support your claim. ..."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:58 PM on July 27

Sure they do. From the first WaPo July 3 story:
"FARGO, N.D., July 3 -- Sen. Barack Obama raised the possibility of slowing a promised gradual, 16-month withdrawal from Iraq if he is elected president, saying that Thursday he will consult with military commanders on an upcoming trip to the region and "continue to refine" his proposals." [emphasis added]
And from the July 21 examiner.com AP wire story:
"Obama told ABC News that military leaders have "deep concerns" about a timetable that doesn't account for changing conditions."


"And Obama had been to Iraq before, in 2006."

He wasn't pushing his harebrained withdrawal schedule then, that he's now backing away from, which was the subject of my comment. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Anything else I can clear up for you?
posted by paulsc at 6:24 PM on July 27, 2008


I think Mr. Obama is too smart to be as religious as he is portrayed, but he pretends to be wicked religious to pander. Can we at least agree that Obama knows that a crumbling wall is not God's fax machine?

Oh, hell, even I would probably stick a note like that in the wall, were the whole freakin' world watching me. There are some things you do simply because custom and politeness dictate it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2008


"... What is wrong with that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:12 PM on July 27

Tootin' his own horn is fine. Havin' a public fist-bump with his wife is great, whenever they want. Putting their minor kids on the stump is sorta Paper Moon, don't you think?

I can almost hear Ryan O'Neal saying "What is wrong with that?" now... And we know what a fine father/daughter relationship that forged.
posted by paulsc at 6:36 PM on July 27, 2008


Involving your children in your campaign is the same as using children to scam old ladies. That's the kind of brilliant political analysis I've come to expect from you, paulsc.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


PlusDistance: "Can we at least agree that Obama wants his family to be protected?"

Pffft. You Obamaniacs are all alike. Just eat up the propaganda, buy into that slick image without thinking. Can't you see that ol' Barry hooked up with his wife because a Presidential candidate is expected to have one? His marriage is just another smokescreen, plotted early on to groom him for the Democratic ticket. It's pretty obvious that he selected her as the perfect foil to Billybob Clinton's red-faced rantings.

And those children, aren't they a little too photogenic, a little too happy? Don't be a fool. They're just pawns in the vast Obama conspiracy. Sasha and Malia? More like Smoke-a and Mirror-ia!

And Obama doesn't love his family, nothing could be further from the truth. Barack must maintain a studied disinterest in his so-called "loved ones". That way, he won't be emotionally crippled when the three of them are assassinated by a radical branch of the KKK. The op will be secretly underwritten by the Obama campaign, of course, to score political points off of a sympathetic and racially guilty nation. But again, all the more reason to establish no real relationship with his kin outside the media spotlight. And all the more reason to stash a scrap of paper professing his love for them in that wall in Jerusalem.

"Obama wants his family to be protected"? Spare me.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:11 PM on July 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


Rhaomi for a win.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:34 PM on July 27, 2008


America is a great country, and although I'm not voting for either McCain or Obama

who are you voting for, metaman?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:34 PM on July 27, 2008


Hey, paulsc, I'll bet you $1000 that if you build a 1200-foot-long conveyor belt, Obama's campaign plane can take off from it.
posted by nicwolff at 7:56 PM on July 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


Anything else I can clear up for you?

Nope, you're clear.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:23 PM on July 27, 2008


who are you voting for, metaman?

Not sure yet. Maybe Nader. Maybe I'll write Hillary in. It will probably boil down to one of those. I may not vote for anyone at all, leaving the Presidential ballot blank.

I've always liked Nader. I voted for him in 2000, and almost voted for him again, in 2004, but I couldn't stand another 4 years of Bush, so I held my nose and voted for the effete, Kerry. I live in a state that was a Kerry shoo-in, but I voted for him anyway.

After he lost, I swore I would only vote for centrists who "said it like it is". Hillary came closer to filling that bill (for me) than anyone else.

Obama made a bee-line for the center as soon as Hillary conceded, claiming her centrist positions - the one's he criticized her for - on nearly every issue...even managing to remain to the _right_ of Clinton on certain other issues (like health care).

Nader is more right about American government than almost any candidate I've ever heard. He was thoroughly marginalized in the 2000 election; he was kept from the 2000 debates (because he would have been a serious threat to Gore if he'd had a chance to elaborate on his positions in national debates); then he was blamed for the 2000 loss, by Gore's effete handlers, who sucked the life and passion out of a very able politician (Gore), cuasing the 2000 race to end up far closer than it should have been.

IF Gore had been left to his own instincts, we would never have seen Bush at all.

The Democratic Party has become a joke. I can't go there anymore, and I won't vote GOP. I'm not a libertarian. Like 35% of Hillary's base, I'm looking for a centrist with a solid record of liberal accomplishment. Neither McCain or Obama are that.
posted by MetaMan at 10:32 PM on July 27, 2008


I'm looking for a centrist with a solid record of liberal accomplishment.

I'm looking for an Easter Bunny with antlers.
posted by trondant at 10:51 PM on July 27, 2008 [6 favorites]




MetaMan, if Hillary is so great, and Hillary is supporting Senator Obama, why not follow her lead? Clearly, you trust her judgment. Why are you second-guessing her now?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:05 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because it's about punishing the Democrats for not picking the one he personally feels deserves to be the candidate. It's nothing to do with supporting Hillary.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:07 PM on July 27, 2008


if Hillary is so great, and Hillary is supporting Senator Obama, why not follow her lead? Clearly, you trust her judgment. Why are you second-guessing her now?

HIllary's supporting Obama because 1) she's a good party soldier; 2) she hopes to get help with her debt; 3) she might want, and get offered, the VP slot (unlikely); 4) she may want to run again, and doesn't want to burn bridges.

She's not supporting Obama because she thinks he's a viable candidate. She does want to defeat McCain. What other choice does she have?

I think Obama is dangerous, because the difference between what comes off his silver tongue, and what he delivers, is vast. Contradictory positions, moral stances, associates, and promises are what Obama has delivered thus far. He has never, and will never, deliver real change.

America doesn't need any more broken promises. America needs leaders who say it like it is, and stop promising Camelot.

This is not about "punishing" Obama for Hillary's loss. Only condescending elitists make that claim, because they can't imagine anyone having an honest difference with them, or their candidate, on the issues that they hold most dear.

That said, the silence from the Obama's peanut gallery on his many profuse *changes* (not change) has been deafening.
posted by MetaMan at 11:26 PM on July 27, 2008


The thing I find interesting is that nobody can point out any concrete examples of "profuse changes."

The fact of the matter is that Obama's positions are getting more like the GOP's because the GOP has been moving, not Obama. Obama was right on Pakistan, right about Iran, right about a lot of things. Even McCain is starting to say 16 months looks like a good timetable.

The talking heads and Hillary drones like to talk about things like opposing telecom immunity and then voting for the FISA bill. None of these people, of course, realize that they're mischaracterizing the FISA bill, or that telecom immunity isn't really a big deal (really? you want to hold AT&T liable just because you can't hold Bush liable? that seems fair.).

The worst of it is that ostensibly intelligent people are talking about changing their vote over FISA, knowing full well that if Obama loses, McCain gets to appoint Supreme Court justices, which means there won't be much of a Fourth Amendment left at all. These kinds of people are either far less intelligent than they like to pretend, or else just nasty vindictive people who prefer "sticking it to the (black) man" over acting in the best interest of the things they claim to value.
posted by jock@law at 11:45 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


She's not supporting Obama because she thinks he's a viable candidate. She does want to defeat McCain.

These two sentences contradict each other. Can you understand that?

That said, the silence from the Obama's peanut gallery on his many profuse *changes* (not change) has been deafening.
posted by MetaMan at 11:26 PM on July 27


Okay, I'm done with you. Your repeated lies are tiresome and shameful.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:59 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


knowing full well that if Obama loses, McCain gets to appoint Supreme Court justices

And why wouldn't Obama appoint Supremes that agree with him on his 4th Amendment vote?

Like most Obama supporters I've encountered on this issue, there's "always an excuse". You conveniently brush this off as of little concern, in a way that leaves me wondering about _your_ ostensible intelligence, and judgment.

nobody can point out any concrete examples of "profuse changes."

How about NAFTA; Iraq, and Campaign financing, just for starters, unless you want to start parsing my choice of words about his "changes", like "profuse". Let's just say he's flip-flopped. That's a little less egregious.
posted by MetaMan at 12:15 AM on July 28, 2008


"She's not supporting Obama because she thinks he's a viable candidate. She does want to defeat McCain."

These two sentences contradict each other. Can you understand that?


No, they don't. Not within the context of the question that prompted my answer. Can you understand that?

Try harder, but then, you probably won't, because you're up to your ears in the quicksand of a kind of rationalization that is desperate to preserve closely held belief. It's a pitiable position to be in.

Are you happy with the ATT vote? How about NAFTA? Campaign financing? Don't struggle, remember, it's quicksand - you'll sink.
posted by MetaMan at 12:25 AM on July 28, 2008


I told you this thread needed the 'ohno!' tag.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:32 AM on July 28, 2008


because you're up to your ears in the quicksand of a kind of rationalization that is desperate to preserve closely held belief.

I suppose "rationalization" is what one could call the claim that a crowd of thousands came for the warmup act and not for the main event.
posted by micketymoc at 12:39 AM on July 28, 2008


I've heard his explanation about public financing for the campaign. I accept the explanation and agree with it. We've all seen how to skirt around the rules using non-campaign political organizations. MoveOn in '04 was a perfect example. By taking the high road now, Obama can address that problem later without being hypocritical. Flip-flopping is an act of indecision. This isn't indecision. It's changing your mind after reflection. That's a good thing.

I don't know what you're talking about in reference to "the ATT vote." I don't know of any legislation called ATT.

Assuming you're referring to the FISA amendment, I've already explained to you, in small words, that the legislation was a complex bill including many thing not related to telecom immunity. Given the tradeoff, it was the right decision. It's not a "flip-flop" -- he never changed his mind about whether TI was a good idea or a bad idea. He just decided that, since it was gonna happen anyway, he might as well get the provision in that preempts the War Powers argument. That's a pretty damn good trade-off, and many legislators agreed with him.

As far as NAFTA goes, I couldn't give two shits about it. Regardless of whether the treaty is modified in place or completely renegotiated, the material facts (a- NAFTA exists in one form now; b- free trade will continue to exist; c- the future free trade arrangement will have different, better terms than the current way of doing it) are identical. Toning down the language isn't a substantive change, it's merely recognizing that rhetoric got a little intense during the primary. I don't think anyone has to be told that that's the case.

Frankly, you sound like a bitter, muddled-thinking troll. You have yet to make a single substantive contribution to intelligent conversation here. You spew talking points without analysis or reason. Please don't come back until you're ready to articulate exactly what your problem is in a way that approximates maturity and open-mindedness.

Thank you.
posted by jock@law at 1:28 AM on July 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's not a "flip-flop" -- he never changed his mind about whether TI was a good idea or a bad idea.

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.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 AM on July 28, 2008


Yes, that's what I meant. Thanks for the source, Blazecock Pileon.
posted by jock@law at 1:58 AM on July 28, 2008


I'm sorry, I think you misunderstand. The point is that Senator Obama is on record for having changed his position on telecom immunity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 AM on July 28, 2008


I'm sorry, but the source you have cited does not support the stated proposition. Please hang up and try your call again later.
posted by jock@law at 2:13 AM on July 28, 2008


I'm sorry, jock@law, but I have to politely insist that it does, even if you don't want it to. Hell, even I don't want it to, but Senator Obama voted how he voted.

Look, I get that granting immunity to the telecom companies wasn't important to you. I get it. We all get it.

But civil liberties are important to some people. And the troublesome fact remains that Senator Obama is on record for changing from opposition to telecom immunity to support for telecom immunity in a very short period of time, for reasons that are still not very clear.

If he caved on privacy rights to this extent, then it is perfectly reasonable for voters to ask what else he will cave on that is as important, and who else he will throw under the bus in the process.

I'd prefer that Senator Obama earn my vote, instead of expect it. I learned my lesson with Senator Kerry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:46 AM on July 28, 2008


We've all seen how to skirt around the rules using non-campaign political organizations....Flip-flopping is an act of indecision. This isn't indecision. It's changing your mind after reflection.

That's rich. OK, he reflected, and then changed his mind. Of course, there was no indecision about this when he was wooing his small supporters during the primary campaign, right? How convenient of him to suck in the ultra-liberal MoveOn money machine, and then "deftly" move to the center on issues like this, especially since a significant share of his contributions are not from small donors You know what, he not only flip-flopped, he outright deceived!

He (Obama) just decided that, since it was gonna happen anyway (the FISA amendment getting voted up), he might as well get the provision in that preempts the War Powers argument.

The FISA amendment? It goes completely against the grain of his prior, stated position. He didn't say a PEEP about the rationalization on his website when he voted; it was only after he started taking heat from his liberal base. I wonder if getting $4k more in contributions from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint than those who voted "no" helped him to push the "yes" button? Didn't know about that, did you?

on NAFTA: Toning down the language isn't a substantive change, it's merely recognizing that rhetoric got a little intense during the primary.

Oh, I see, Obama "reflected" again. He just got a "little intense" in the primary. A little "intensity" here and there is OK, right? I wonder how the unions that were sucked into his rhetoric about NAFTA will feel in the swing states that they populate, in the general election.

About NAFTA, you might try reading what the other side says about Obama's NAFTA position, because the other side is going to have its say in the upcoming general campaign, whether you like it or not.

And please do learn to address your debate opponent with more opprobrium than a prepubescent teen. btw, Did Bill Clinton get his "It depends on what the meaning of 'is', is" line from you? Come back after you've read Hoffer, and gotten your driver's license.
posted by MetaMan at 3:08 AM on July 28, 2008


I'm looking for a centrist with a solid record of liberal accomplishment.

And so you're voting for Nader? His liberal accomplishment peaked with Unsafe at Any Speed and took a step backward in 2000.

Nader has changed from being an activist working for the betterment of society into a narcissist who doesn't care if he's torpedoing his own causes by splitting the vote.
posted by oaf at 4:29 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think Mr. Obama is too smart to be as religious as he is portrayed, but he pretends to be wicked religious to pander.

***

I can't see what the difference is between this and the people who think Obama is secretly a Muslim. Sure, he says he's Christian... but all that is a smokescreen for what he really is--an [agnostic/Muslim/anti-Christ].


Obama's rather detailed public statements on his religious beliefs show him to be what might be described as a 'spiritual agnostic'. There is no evidence from his writings that he believes in anything supernatural, and he explicitly states that he has no way of knowing the truth of supernatural claims. On the other hand he acknowledges the power of religious ideas and imagery/metaphor to create and sustain community and drive people towards social change.

This creates somewhat of a tension in the interpretation of his religious behavior. When Obama prays or says he feels Jesus inside him (or whatever), does this mean he believes in actual invisible beings magically altering material circumstances? His own expressions of materialist agnosticism imply that he does not believe this. His statements suggest such religious language/behavior are a form of uplifting rhetoric or a social adhesive in his mind.

To those who believe "religion" requires belief in supernatural claims, Obama must be either an atheist or an agnostic -- and not a Christian. To those who believe "religion" does not require belief in supernatural claims, Obama will probably be considered religious.

From my atheist perspective religion does require such beliefs, and one who prays or makes ritualistic statements about heaven/Jesus/resurrection/angels/souls in a religious context without believing in the material reality of those things is crypto-religious. Crypto-religion is what someone adopts when they would like to better be accepted by, cooperate with, or advance in status or influence within a religious community. (the crypto-Muslim Donmeh elite in Turkey is another example)

Educated, intelligent people are more likely to end up and advance in politics. Educated, intelligent people are also more likely to disbelieve in supernaturalism. Polls consistently show a majority of people will not vote for an atheist. So unsurprisingly, crypto-religion (and even more extreme forms such as crypto-creationism) is rather common among people of political influence in America. It is to Obama's credit that he is so open about it.
posted by dgaicun at 5:11 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock: it absolutely does not support your position. No reasonable person could read your post and think that Obama thinks telecom immunity is a good idea. He never has thought it is good, does not think it is good, and probably never will think it is good. However you want to spin that as flip-flopping, go ahead and try, but rational people know otherwise, and you hurt your own credibility.
posted by jock@law at 6:15 AM on July 28, 2008


MetaMan: Your post is intellectually dishonest on its face. You know it. I know it. Anyone who read your links knows it. And even if we do accept your "we completely contort the rules of rounding such that $3,372 rounds up to $4,000 whenever it supports my point" rules, it's still ridiculous on its face to think that a candidate with tens of millions of dollars in cash on hand would be swayed by an amount of money he could raise on eBay by signing a pair of socks.

As for your first link... wow. Really? There's nothing credible in that story. But since any story headlining "Obama's Money Cartel" is obviously making an attempt at intellectual honesty and fair-mindedness, I guess I can try to give it a shot. The fact that the article uses terms that sound bad but don't mean anything ("Wall Street brokerage firm" -- brokering what? the article never defines its terms -- and "corporate law firm" are the radical ultraliberal version of GWB's "trial lawyer") hurts it right off the bat. The kicker is that the article then proceeds to blame the big bad "Wall Street firms" for the home foreclosure debacle, which of course is ridiculous on its face. How and why it's ridiculous is left as an exercise for the reader - but if you really don't understand, we can explore that topic further. But that's not enough idiocy for your taste. The article then goes on to conflate law firms with their employees. Sorry buddy, but a corporate entity is not the same as its employees, no matter how hard you try. The article then goes on - get this - to claim that Obama is evil because he supported the Class Action Fairness Act. Seriously? I'm highly confident that you have never litigated under CAFA and have no idea whatsoever what it's about or what the reasons are for its passage. Being a pupil of Bill Rubenstein (yes, that Bill Rubenstein), I am fully prepared to have a conversation with you at any point about the merits of CAFA. After you've removed to federal court under it, and write a law review note on it in preparation, of course.

Your third point, about NAFTA... is what exactly? You'll have to humor me, but I fail to see the inconsistency between thinking NAFTA sucks (it does) and thinking free trade rocks (it does). The only people who could fault him for that position are a) those who don't understand the distinction; b) people who love NAFTA; c) people who think free trade sucks. None of those people are people I would estimate to be very bright. To which group do you belong?
posted by jock@law at 6:21 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


jock, it is worth pointing out that he DID vote to wipe his ass with the Constitution, whatever he claims his position is.
posted by Malor at 7:09 AM on July 28, 2008


I have to say... I *love* reading atheists try to rationalize away Obama's religious beliefs.
posted by rulethirty at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2008


There just seems to be an unnatural obsession over Obama and his religion. The press likes to consider itself innocent, but they more or less hounded him from his Church during the primary season and now they invade his privacy in regards to prayer.

I was curious about the note, but curiosity is not an acceptable reason in-of-itself to do something. I'm curious about plenty of things I'll never do or am willing to compromise basic ethics to find out... it's called tact.
posted by edgeways at 7:27 AM on July 28, 2008


Malor, FISA does not violate any part of the text of the U.S. Constitution or its amendments. Whether it violates the general thrust of those provisions enough to be recognized by the judiciary is a question for the Supreme Court to decide.

In considering this issue, please remember that telecommunications lines are part of the national infrastructure. It is government-owned property that you are placing your information upon. I don't disagree that it's hugely creepy and shouldn't be done without a damn good reason, but to say unequivocally that it is a Constitutional issue is a little premature, I think. If you really feel that privacy should extend to government-owned infrastructure, then why aren't you up in arms over Terry stops?
posted by jock@law at 7:43 AM on July 28, 2008


Seems to be an unusual amount (and type) of emotional defensiveness over Obama's beliefs. I don't think anything I wrote above contradicts what Obama has stated himself.

Again, I think the same is true for lots of political figures. I believe Karl Rove is also an agnostic (and not even a spiritual one) even though he explicitly denies it! "Rationalizing it" obviously assumes I have a vested interest (e.g. political) to argue one way or the other, which I do not. All I can tell you is the conclusion really is coming from the reading, not preceding it.
posted by dgaicun at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2008


"Hey, paulsc, I'll bet you $1000 that if you build a 1200-foot-long conveyor belt, Obama's campaign plane can take off from it."
posted by nicwolff at 10:56 PM on July 27

My original offer to bet:

"Put up, or shut up time: $1,000 total, out of my own pocket, for any person or group from this thread, that shows me, in person, an actual factory standard Cessna 172 taking off from a conveyor belt of less than 1200 feet length, from an agreed location (no wild goose chases to Tierra del Fuego, folks), while the conveyor belt is doing at least 60+ mph in a direction opposite flight, with the plane rolling on it unrotated before takeoff, before Thanksgiving, 2007, against a total similar wager from all you physics fans and BarcaLounger pilots. I'll want a look at the pilot's logbook, a look at the aircraft logs, and a very good technical look at that conveyor. I may bring as many additional observers as I want, at my expense, to verify data and flight. We'll probably film the heck out of it. If your pilot doesn't make it, you bear the travel expenses for me and my crew, and all costs of failure, that you can't insure, and I'll pay for filming, and a nice flower arrangement, if required, to the funereal home. Payment by me, to the winner(s), based on my agreement of performance, within 24 hours of takeoff, via cash or Paypal. Payment to me, by any/all of you, expected within 48 hours following 12:01 A.M. of November 23, 2007, if you can't show me."

To accommodate your latest offer, nicwolff, we're obviously changing the original date, location and equipment terms, as follows. I'm now to furnish the 1200 foot conveyor (with no other technical stipulation on your part), so I get to pick a site and time frame for the attempt: Before Wednesday morning, August 27, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. at Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville, FL.

You've specified Obama's campaign plane, which is, as of July 20, according to news reports, a leased, refurbished, twin engined Boeing 757 jetliner, instead of the Cessna 172 single engine piston propeller plane I originally included as an element of my offer. The 757 is well known as an overpowered plane, with engines that, together, can deliver over 85,000 pounds of thrust, on wings optimized for fast lift and climb rather than cruise, so it's kind of a "bar bet" offer on your part. Still, your choice of the Boeing 757 jetliner is fine by me, although I trust you know that at the minimum takeoff weight of about 177,000 pounds, at sea level for a STD DAY +14°C (58° F), with normal engines and takeoff thrust settings, the FAR runway takeoff length is over 3,200 feet [see table 3.3.1 and following of Boeing's airport planning data for 757 models]. Still here's a video of a stripped down 757 getting off the ground during an airshow from RKV airport in Reykavik, Iceland in 14 seconds flat! For comparison while watching that video, 1200 feet is about 10 fuselage lengths for the 757-200 model.

Since I'd really like to see Obama's campaign plane, in full trim, get airborne and out of Florida that quickly, even once, I've specified an airport that is only a few feet above sea level, and I reserve the right to give you an easier takeoff condition at the time of any attempt, by dropping the requirement that you takeoff from an actual conveyor. I will be satisfied if you can get that plane airborne in less than 1200 feet of takeoff roll, from a normal concrete runway, and a standing start, at the specified facility, at any time up to the end of the specified date and time. Notify me whenever you're ready to go in that time frame, and I'll meet you at the SheltAir Aviation Facilities office at 7:00 a.m. on the day of any attempt, for the pre-attempt aircraft technical inspection and preflight.

But wait, there's more! You've complained before that my previous offer wasn't economic, or practical, and so I want to remove those objections, too. Recognizing that Obama is a busy man, and his plane is probably heavily scheduled, and in consideration of the fact that a 757 burns some extra fuel in landing and taking off that it wouldn't if it just cruised on by, I realize $1000 wouldn't even cover your costs for extra jet fuel, if you won. I'd like to make sure that if you can get Obama's campaign plane to cruising altitude from a 1200 foot takeoff run, that you can afford the fuel. So, I'm willing to make the maximum personal donation to the Obama campaign ($2300) if you can get his campaign plane to do it, against your wager of $1000 paid to me, if, for any reason, you can't. $2300 buys about 2600 pounds of Jet A at today's average price of $6.05/gallon, and that's significantly more than the fuel cost you'll incur in a landing and max power takeoff for a 757, even at today's prices.

Now, giving you better than 2:1 payout odds, accepting your suggestion for a plane of your choice, and dropping the actual conveyor belt operation requirement to make this practical for a tightly scheduled Presidential candidate and his campaign plane, is going pretty far in making this an attractive bet, for you, I think. I really feel I've bent over backwards, here. So, any time Obama is planning a campaign plane flight past JIA in the next month, and wants to back your interesting offer, he or you can contact me, and on four hour's notice, I'll be at JIA to see him try, and hand him, or you, a check if his plane makes it. What could go wrong?

Of course, if his plane doesn't make it, or you can't get him to try, you're on record for offering me $1000 as a bet that it can.

Now, toddle off and see if Obama is a sportin' man. Your bluff's called, at odds.
posted by paulsc at 7:57 AM on July 28, 2008


It's quite ironic that this particular thread has generated discussion of Obama putting his kids in the spotlight. (paulsc in particular)

The theme here is that a member of the public and then the media violated Obama's privacy by removing a prayer from one of religion's most holy places. Surely the Obamas have struggled with the right way to deal with the media and their children, given this environment where there is absolutely no respect for privacy.

Perhaps making them available in measured, controlled ways is their way of both getting the children used to the exposure and giving the media what is hopefully enough to avoid TMZ following them to school and anyone exposing them to uncomfortable harassment at their young ages... or, worst case, giving the children measured exposure will at least prepare them for the inevitable TMZ exposure and such.

He's running for president. He and his children will be in the public eye for the rest of their lives, especially if he wins. Surely one can find right or wrong in any parental decision, but suggesting that they are simply tools for generating points in the polls is an painfully oversimplified and under-considered argument.

It only convinces other of your spite, rather than convincing us of your point.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:09 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


After reading this thread, I'm thinking there are a few other requests Obama might have made in his prayer, but he had the presence of mind to hold off.
posted by mikeh at 8:18 AM on July 28, 2008


Now, toddle off and see if Obama is a sportin' man.

paulsc, you're dangerously close to making something exciting happen in Jacksonville. Whoa there.
posted by oaf at 9:06 AM on July 28, 2008


"It's quite ironic that this particular thread has generated discussion of Obama putting his kids in the spotlight. ..."
posted by VulcanMike at 11:09 AM on July 28

It's not "ironic" at all, VulcanMike. Obama put his kids in a TV interview. Obama put a plea for his kids protection by some $INSERT_DEITY in a note in a crack in the Western Wall, under circumstances that were self-serving. Whatever discussion of his actions I've introduced in this thread, wouldn't have occurred were it not for his choices.

As I said above "If their [Barack and Michelle Obama] actions aren't well considered, and in the best interests of their kids, it's not only fair, it's important to ask why not." The reason it's important, is because such questions go to helping us divine how they think with regard to common experiences such as parenting, and how their thinking might well be different, or the same as, our own. When they change their mind in response to questions being raised about such decisions, it gives us a view into how they correct personal mistakes.

But I, for one, would be happy not to have further public actions to consider in this area. Where Obama publicly stated, in response to questioning, that he'd changed his mind about further exposure of his kids, I linked his statements, in part because I support that course. I hope he keeps to it, and gets more questions if he doesn't.
posted by paulsc at 9:07 AM on July 28, 2008


So you don't have a 1200-foot conveyor belt either? Nuts. When you do, I'll call my man Barry.
posted by nicwolff at 9:13 AM on July 28, 2008


Yanno, pauilsc, it would be a lot easier to just admit you were wrong about the conveyor belt thing. Is it really that difficult for you to back off and admit you misunderstood the function wheels have on planes?
posted by Malor at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


No reasonable person could read your post and think that Obama thinks telecom immunity is a good idea. He never has thought it is good, does not think it is good, and probably never will think it is good.

But he voted for immunity, despite saying it is a bad idea. He must have later thought it was a good idea or he wouldn't have voted for it. Obama flip-flopped on an important civil liberties matter. What else will he bail out on us over?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2008


He must have later thought it was a good idea or he wouldn't have voted for it.

Of course, it wasn't just one provision in an enormous bill, and the idea he thought that the rest of the bill's provisions, which you know little or nothing about, were important enough to justify voting for the bill as a whole is just ridiculous, isn't it?

Christ, man, I've seen you mock Republicans for lacking nuance. Don't be that guy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2008


inellectually dishonest on its face. You know it. I know it. Anyone....knows it.

I wonder if Newsweek Knows It; I wonder if US News and World Report knows it (quoting the New York Times (I wonder if they know it) Seems they all agree with me.

In the end, it's not going to matter what I think, because the American public is going to be availed of the _facts_ that I have brought forward, and they're going to be availed of those facts without the desperate parsing spin-like-a-top support of those who have been willing to see the edges of our very US Constitution frayed on the altar of Obama's quest for power.

please remember that telecommunications lines are part of the national infrastructure. It is government-owned property that you are placing your information upon. I don't disagree that it's hugely creepy and shouldn't be done without a damn good reason, but to say unequivocally that it is a Constitutional issue is a little premature, I think.

Talk about going down the road of "good Germans"? This is almost beyond the pale for someone who is parsing language to a fare-thee-well in order to rationalize the slippery slope that a supposedly liberal candidate has been steadily sliding down.

Nader has changed from being an activist working for the betterment of society into a narcissist who doesn't care if he's torpedoing his own causes by splitting the vote.

Oh, I see. Ralph Nader should just shut up and go home when the same people who screwed up Gore's campaign; the same people who brought us John Effete-Man Kerry; and now this plastic Jesus do everything they can to keep him from debating his points in public.

I worked very closely with the Nader group some years ago, and got to know a little bit about Nader. He's certainly not a narcissist; far from it. He is passionate about America, and not willing to compromise basic principles. I don't agree with everything he says, but his critique of American politics is spot on.

The Democrats did to Ralph Nader what the insurance lobby did to Hillary Clinton, and the GOP did to Bill Clinton. They used procedure to marginalize him, and then sullied his reputation by blaming him for Gore's loss - a real irony, because the Democratic Party handlers of Gore are the ones whoh sucked the soul out of a great politician - so-much-so that he lost to someone as seriously pathetic a s George Bush.


I suppose "rationalization" is what one could call the claim that a crowd of thousands came for the warmup act and not for the main event.

"When Obama came to my city some months ago. The Civic Auditorium exceeded its capacity of 11,000 people and many more had to be turned away. But the propaganda wasn't fooling me.

I knew it was just because most people were there to see the musical group Bright Eyes, who was performing for 20 minutes before the rally. Once they finished up, I'd say a good 90% of the crowd thinned out. Each of them rushing out like the building was on fire, saying something about, "Lets get out of here before we have to listen to whats-his-face...Barama Something"

I mean, let's face it. Barack Obama doesn't hold a candle to Conor Oberst".


So please don't tell me that Barack Obama, all by himself, would draw 200,000 Germans to a rally. There's no doubt that he's popular in Europe, and that he's your candidate, but please try to temper your enthusiasm with reality.
posted by MetaMan at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2008


Of course, it wasn't just one provision in an enormous bill, and the idea he thought that the rest of the bill's provisions, which you know little or nothing about, were important enough to justify voting for the bill as a whole is just ridiculous, isn't it?

Maybe not so ridiculous. What was so compelling in the rest of the bill that the average voter should overlook the immunity clause -- and the consequences of granting that immunity for future illegal eavesdropping incidents?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2008


MetaMan, I hope that was sarcasm because that seriously misrepresents Obama's appearance in Omaha before the Nebraska primary. Further, your quoted text is merely a comment in the linked piece. Bright Eyes played a show near the Civic after the rally although they did play a few songs to warm up the crowd before Obama took the stage. The idea that the crowd immediately dispersed afterward Bright Eyes played runs counter to all first-hand reports I have heard--many being my student employees. I myself wasn't there to confirm this myself as I was working for said students but the coverage I heard in the news did nothing to dispel their glowing reviews of Obama's speech and reports of a packed and rocking Civic auditorium.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: Holding or increasing a majority in the Senate was more important than telecom immunity. I don't like it but Obama clearly chose not to fight this battle now, against Pelosi in the middle of an election campaign.
posted by Skorgu at 2:20 PM on July 28, 2008


Just for the visual record:

Bright Eyes at Civic Auditorium
Obama at Civic Auditorium

If anything, there are MORE people in the audience for Obama than for Oberst.
posted by dw at 2:26 PM on July 28, 2008


So please don't tell me that Barack Obama, all by himself, would draw 200,000 Germans to a rally

Dude. (May I call you dude?) Dude. I personally know a guy who nearly flew from London for the rally. Just for the rally. He was going to fly in the night before, hang out, and fly back the night after. Why didn't he do it? He was kept late at work. No lie.

I have no doubt that Obama could easily draw 200,000 similarly minded folk (who were let out from their jobs in time to catch their buses or trains or planes) from around Europe. Were the event limited solely to Germans, you may have a point, but bear in mind that travel in Europe (one of those places where they still believe in trains) is pretty easy and a great portion of the crowd probably came from elsewhere. JUST TO HEAR THIS GUY TALK.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:56 PM on July 28, 2008


Yanno, pauilsc, it would be a lot easier to just admit you were wrong about the conveyor belt thing. Is it really that difficult for you to back off and admit you misunderstood the function wheels have on planes?

Paul, you seem to be an intelligent person so your stubbornness in defying all the laws of physics baffles me. It calls into question your judgment on other matters. Apparently you think that if an airplane landed on the same conveyor belt that it would instantly come to a stop when it touched the ground (and the pilot would go through the windshield). Or apparently you think touch-and-goes on a conveyor belt would be impossible. Any pilot taking off or landing downwind knows that the speed of the spinning wheels makes no difference (as long as you don't run out of runway).
posted by JackFlash at 3:41 PM on July 28, 2008


[Nader] is passionate about America, and not willing to compromise basic principles.

I don't doubt that he's passionate about America. However, he has shown himself, time and again, to be unwilling to stop tilting at windmills, even when he can surely see that his actions (namely, running against Gore in 2000) will result in great steps in the wrong direction.
posted by oaf at 3:46 PM on July 28, 2008


MetaMan, maybe the American people could avail you of some information, like how to round numbers, or how to improve your reading comprehension. The Newsweek piece says they disagree with Obama that McCain's numbers support the phrase "fueled by lobbyists and PACs." The Newsweek article does not address 527 organizations, and therefore does not address Obama's argument in any meaningful way. The other link was broken.

Blazecock, you have the burden of proof for demonstrating why the average voter should care about telecom immunity. I think any normal person's moral compass would lead to the conclusion that your preferred reality -- misdirecting national anger at the Bush Administration toward publicly-traded companies* (who depend, by the way, on executive agencies for their operation) for following what they thought the law was -- is profoundly wrong. You don't sentence the mafia's sandwich boy to death just because the bosses are untouchable. I have yet to read anything approximating a cogent response to that point.

* The fact that they are publicly-traded is important, because it means that failure to comply with executive demands in a way that hurts their shareholders (look at Qwest) could be illegal. The great irony here is that shareholders' rights are something that you voted for. Telecoms can't vote. You set up the system, and it acted accordingly. You want someone to blame, look in the mirror. Then get back to debugging.
posted by jock@law at 4:28 PM on July 28, 2008


The fact that they are publicly-traded is important, because it means that failure to comply with executive demands in a way that hurts their shareholders (look at Qwest) could be illegal. The great irony here is that shareholders' rights are something that you voted for. Telecoms can't vote. You set up the system, and it acted accordingly.

So, ATT was a pawn, and beholden to the President (Bush) because refusal to follow his executive order would violate ATT's responsibility to avoid hurting their shareholders. I think that's what you're saying.

If that is what you're saying, it's one of the most profoundly ironic and sad rationales for Bush's fascism I've seen on this site, to date - and just goes to show how far at least one Obama supporter is willing to go - as a "good German" - down a dangerous path that lets an American President use a law to shred our Constitution.

For all your grandstanding and parsing of legalities, every time you defend Obama on this point you prove the general point about too many of his followers - i.e. that many of them are so blinded by their need to be relieved of the ways of Bush, that they are willing to traverse the same slippery slopes that Bush has been tobogganing for the last several years.

This means trouble for America,, and I will maintain that stance until Obama's actions in this campaign - and in the Presidency, if he makes it there, that show me otherwise. So far, Obama has shown he's no "different" than anyone else, except for his magnificent oratorical skills.

This is what's scary about Obama. Where's his core, and how far is he willing to go to sacrifice core principles to accomplish a goal? All politicians are duplicitous, but Obama is setting records in that regard. He's done it so much that nobody even seems to pay attention any more. Instead, they fawn after his (meaningless, so far) rhetoric, like a fix between his faulty and flip-flopping actions. Welcome to the world of the American Political Idol - brought to us by the same crowd that produced John Kerry, American Effete.
posted by MetaMan at 6:59 PM on July 28, 2008


I have decided that Americans don't like politics. They love soap-opera drama. This thread is just choc-a-bloc with it. It's almost as good as Passions. And about as intellectually robust.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on July 28, 2008


This is what's scary about Obama. Where's his core, and how far is he willing to go to sacrifice core principles to accomplish a goal?

If you think that Clinton, had she been the presumptive Democratic nominee at the time, wouldn't have voted the same way on the FISA bill that Obama did, when he was the presumptive Democratic nominee, you're more naïve than I thought.
posted by oaf at 7:13 PM on July 28, 2008


MetaMan and paulsc have got to be the best false-flag operation in the history of politics. What better way to distract from real, genuine issues like a cult of personality, FISA and NAFTA than with a few attacks on softball issues like how many tens of thousands of supporters he can attract or whether he was endangering his kids by putting them on TV combined with some poorly focused, incoherent mumblings on the real issues just to lend an air of legitimacy.

I mean, effete? Really? Just call him gay and be honest about it.
posted by Skorgu at 7:43 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The yeshiva student who pried Barack Obama's prayer note from the Western Wall has apologized.

Identified only by the first initial of his name, Aleph, and with his face obscured, the student went on Channel 2 television Sunday to confess that he took the presidential contender's note last week and passed it to the press.

The resulting coverage of Obama's private, handwritten musings on hope and sin added to the mystique of his campaign visit to Israel but drew international criticism, including from leading rabbis who said Jewish morality had been compromised by the publication.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate to face off against Republican John McCain in the race to succeed President Bush in November, has not commented on the episode.

"I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank," Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. "I hope he wasn't hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency."

Channel 2's religious affairs correspondent said she had passed the note from the yeshiva student to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which reinserted it - deeply - between the ancient slabs of stone.

posted by Rhaomi at 7:53 PM on July 28, 2008


I have decided that Americans don't like politics. They love soap-opera drama.

So, um, back in 1995, Quebec tried to secede from Canada, except the provincial government went about it all sneakily, and held a referendum where they asked people a vague question and hoped they'd say yes. Most of them said no, but the federal government then tried to spend all of this money trying to convince Quebec that they didn't really want to leave, except a lot of it got funneled to a bunch of people who were politically connected, and even though the prime minister at the time didn't really know what was going on, and his successor didn't know what was going on, the other party managed to get them thrown out, and its leader may have even tried unsuccessfully to bribe some guy into bringing down the government a year before, but then he became prime minister and then it was discovered for sure that the previous two guys hadn't known about it…

No?

King: Dissolve the government. I want an election.
Byng: OK.
King: Oh no, corruption in my government! I'll fire the guy responsible, but you appoint him to the Senate!
Byng: Um…OK.
King: Uh-oh, I'm losing support. Dissolve the government. I want an election.
Byng: No. Let the other guys try.
King: No. Dissolve the government. Ask London if you don't agree with me.
Byng: No.
King: Here, sign this paper dissolving the government.
Byng: What the hell is wrong with you?
King: Fuck this. I quit.
Byng: Arthur, do you want to give it a try?
Meighen: Sure! I'll be prime minister again!
House of Commons: Not for long, you won't!
Meighen: Dissolve the government.
Byng: OK.


No?

Well, here's one that's short, to the point, and doesn't require ten minutes of backstory: we burned your capital first.
posted by oaf at 8:30 PM on July 28, 2008


well, technically speaking, oaf, we MELTED it, not burned it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:05 PM on July 28, 2008


Blazecock, you have the burden of proof for demonstrating why the average voter should care about telecom immunity.

The ACLU had a lawsuit prepped and ready to go once Obama helped sign the immunity bill into law. Illegal eavesdropping is an important civil liberties issue, enough for the ACLU to dedicate staff and money to this legal fight to the exclusion of other efforts. I'm not griping about nothing — this is a critical matter with very serious, long-term consequences for the freedoms we used to enjoy.

As to the rest of what you wrote, it makes no sense at all so I have no comment on it.

The burden of proof is not on voters like myself. It's up to Obama to demonstrate that he's worthy of being President, and that means standing up in the face of adversity and showing strength.

As he couldn't display the courage of his convictions and instead became a Quisling in the space of two weeks between his on-record stance against the FISA bill and his subsequent vote for the bill — if he does not have the backbone to defend the Constitution from attacks by the current President — perhaps Senator Obama is not a good candidate for the massive repair work our country needs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 AM on July 29, 2008


Ok, I know this is a derail, but this late, it shouldn't matter too much.

Any pilot taking off or landing downwind knows that the speed of the spinning wheels makes no difference (as long as you don't run out of runway).

Well, first, paulsc claims to be a pilot, and in fact is quite dismissive of the 'Barcalounger pilots' who insist he's wrong about what wheels do on a plane.

Second, the speed of the spinning wheels DOES make a difference, in at least two areas. First, if your wheels are spinning twice as fast from moving ground, your wheel steering will be twice as responsive as usual, so you'll have to be careful. Second, if the wheels spin too fast, they may fail, which will almost certainly cause a crash.

I imagine airplane tires are built to a very high standard, so that's probably not all that likely, but if normal takeoff and landing speeds are in the 65-90mph range, that means the tires would be spinning at 130-180mph, so a blowout and subsequent crash would be possible.

The theoretical conveyor belt, in other words, COULD stop a plane from taking off, because it could move fast enough to destroy the wheels. Considering how much trouble we're having finding a flat, outdoor, 1200-foot conveyor belt, however, hoping to find one that ALSO went 200+ mph may be just a shade optimistic.
posted by Malor at 2:43 AM on July 29, 2008


Astro Zombie reminded me of something actually. I was in Paris on the first anniversary of Princess Diana's death. They were having candlelight vigils and stuff, and people were writing graffiti all over the bridge and the Liberty Flame sculpture (which pissed off Paris officials no end).

I became really fascinated by the PEOPLE greiving Diana. I sat there and watched them, and then I started walking around and reading the graffiti. There were notes all over the place that people left, and while most of them were easily viewable (people had even laminated some), some were in envelopes. I actually opened a few, but I didn't take them. I put them back. But still, I was reading those things for HOURS.

Most of them were going on about how she was "too beautiful to live," how she was murdered and/or how she belonged to the people. But what surprised me was the high percentage of notes that focused on "true love" between her and Dodi, and... strangely enough... there were many notes that went basically like this:

"Dear Diana, I am really sorry you are dead. Your and Dodi's love was so true and burned brighter than the sun. Nobody understood you, and now they are sorry because they killed you. I can feel your pain because (insert male name here) and I have that same kind of love and nobody understands us either. Everyone is trying to break us up. I know that nobody really understands your and Dodi's love except for (boyfriend's name) and I. We are you and I hope they don't kill us too."

Or something like that. It really struck me interesting how many people projected themselves onto onto this dead princess they felt they understood explicitly despite never having met her. I guess that's why she was the "people's" princess, though.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:39 AM on July 29, 2008


Because if he was there for anything but politics, he could have gone, sans cameras, and he wouldn't have been thanking the media for coming out at 7:00 a.m. to cover the event. Once the candidate does that, his religion, or lack thereof, or his outright hypocrisy, is in play.

Eh, politics are his job. It doesn't mean that politics is the only thing that puts air in his lungs every day. He can earnestly write out a little prayer AND acknowledge that him visiting Jewish holy sites are news at the same time.

I don't get your obsession with the fact that he acknowledges that, as a public figure, his kids are of interest. All public figures should eschew raising a family? He should be like Michael Jackson and put a hood over his kids to keep them off camera?
posted by desuetude at 1:19 PM on July 29, 2008




Blazecock, do you understand that AT&T is not the President? MetaMan, do you understand that AT&T is not the President?

Do either of you understand that it is possible to have accountability for wrongdoing without holding the wrong person accountable?

Quit bitching about telecom immunity. The telecoms didn't do anything wrong. They did what they were supposed to do. Bitch about Bush.
posted by jock@law at 11:15 PM on July 29, 2008


If the president tells you to break the law, that doesn't make it OK for you to do so.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:00 AM on July 30, 2008


The telecoms didn't do anything wrong. They did what they were supposed to do. Bitch about Bush.

It has been over sixty years since that's been an acceptable defense.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:33 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 AM on July 30, 2008


Pope Guilty, your comment betrays ignorance of the fact that the warrantless wiretapping was perfectly legal. The wrongdoing was NOT the wiretapping, it was the Bush Administration's failure to get a retroactive warrant from the FISA court within n days. Whether the Bush Administration complied with Congress's mandate to submit to judicial oversight is utterly unrelated to the conduct of the telecoms.

When I say "they did what they were supposed to" I don't mean "they did what the President told them to." I mean they followed the gosh-danged law.

Anyone who has a problem with public utilities following the law, raise your hand. Thank you.

Thread closed.
posted by jock@law at 3:20 PM on July 30, 2008


And the Bush administration should have supplied them with the warrants once they were acquired. That they failed to receive warrants within the generous FISA-required time limit but kept doing it anyway is where they committed the crime.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:49 PM on July 30, 2008


Jock, you appear ignorant of the massive spying dragnet that's been implemented in AT&T networks. THAT'S what FISA is there to protect: massive, ongoing, warrantless surveillance. There were NEVER warrants issued, because they'd have need millions.

It has nothing to do with individual taps on individual people, but rather mass taps on EVERYONE.

It's extraordinarily illegal -- or it was, before Congress, and Obama, betrayed the Constitution.
posted by Malor at 5:43 PM on July 30, 2008


jock's point, Malor, is that while the government is constrained by law from demanding call data from the telecoms without warrants (except in exigent cases), the telecoms can legally give your call data to anyone they want to. This surprises a lot of people - it came up during the FBI national-security letter brouhaha as well, and I was taken aback when a friend of mine (who happens to be an FBI lawyer) pointed it out.

The telecoms aren't the ones who are focused on immunity; track their lobbying and you'll find that it's not a priority. They may in fact not have committed any crimes at all. It's the Bush administration that desperately wants to prevent hearings into their warrantless wiretapping.

And Malor's point, jock, is that by voting for a bill that gives free immunity to the telecoms Obama is compromising our ability to have such hearings and get some people under oath who could shine some light on the extent of Bush's domestic surveillance. That's a valid interest of many voters who hope for some accountability; I'm not sure it's a big priority for Obama, which I guess may be a deal-breaker for some people - doesn't make them idiots.
posted by nicwolff at 8:43 PM on July 30, 2008


The illegal part is where there is massive continuous wiretapping. The telcos are not permitted to do this—or weren't, until FISA. Then there are the black-ops switching rooms where the big pipe main trunks are dumped to NSA surveillance—another misdeed, as domestic spying is supposed to be accomplished by having us Canucks do that for you (and you, in turn, perform CSIS's dirty domestic work.)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 PM on July 30, 2008


« Older Screw brushes (redux)   |   Walk This Way Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments