Glenn Greenwald: Obama Statement "Worthless"

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 23:18


Update below.

Glenn Greenwald has posted a detailed analysis of the Barack Obama's recently-released statement.  While giving credit to Obama for engaging this way, and allowing his site to be a forum for disagreement, Greenwald notes:

Despite that, the statement contains many dubious claims and, in a couple cases, outright misleading statements. Worse, Obama's statement only addressed the objections to the telecom immunity provisions of the bill, while ignoring the objections to the (at least) equally pernicious new warrantless eavesdropping powers the bill authorizes.

In his analysis he notes one outright falsehood:

    But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.

This is just false. The new FISA bill that Obama supports vests new categories of warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President (.pdf), and allows the Government, for the first time, to tap physically into U.S. telecommunications networks inside our country with no individual warrant requirement. To claim that this new bill creates "an independent monitor [to] watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people" is truly misleading, since the new FISA bill actually does the opposite -- it frees the Government from exactly that monitoring in all sorts of broad categories.

And he concludes his analysis with the following paragraph:

This statement has so many equivocations and vague claims as to be worthless. In a society that lives under the rule of law, government officials and corporations which break our laws are held accountable by courts of law, not by vague promises from politicians of some future "review" and "recommendation" process grounded in claims that we can trust the Leader to do the right thing, whatever he decides in his sole discretion and infinite wisdom that might be. That is no consolation for blocking courts from adjudicating whether laws were broken here, which is what the bill that Obama supports will do.

I do not believe Obama's statement will fool anyone who's been following this issue, other than those who want to be fooled.  Greenwald's analysis is strengthened by the fact that most of Obama's obfuscations are not new.  We have heard it all before, and were expecting him to speak out against this sort of bilge water.  Instead he's giving it to us on tap, and saying, "Happy Independence Day!" without the slightest hint of irony.

I believe a letter from leading law school deans would be in order.  But I'm rather afraid they may be reluctant to speak out, simply because Obama is not Bush.

Yet.



Again, Greenwald's full text is here

[Update] TPM has a timeline of Obama's statements re FISA and Telco immunity here.

Paul Rosenberg :: Glenn Greenwald: Obama Statement "Worthless"

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Mentioned this elsewhere (4.00 / 4)
I would love someone to do a thought experiment in which Obama's more ardent supporters are presented with something that is far right, and see how they react to that. Maybe something Bush has done, but change it too Obama. I think its clear from their behavior really don't plan now or once he is elected to do much more than they are doi ng now. This sort of mindless support doesn't die just because the leader is elected. The circling the wagons and seige mentality only gets worse. We've already seen this on the far right- and now I am guessing we are about to see it from the centrists.

Let's Over React! (4.00 / 3)
Are you warning us of rabid centrists?

I really don't see how one cannot distinguish between the very small and obsessive clan of Obama-firsters and the rest of the rabble who don't assume Obama has any special powers. Yes, we all see the 'cult-like' aspects in some corners of his base, but we all seem to overlook how god damn small that contingent really is.


"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
I am referring to the behavior I see both above and elsewhere (0.00 / 0)
And, I do make a distinction between them, but to be quite frank, after almost 8 years of dealing with crazies on the right- I didn't imagine I would be having to face them from my own party. They talk at length about the 'radical left" and blah, blah blah. But the radicalism I am seeing comes from them. The things they say to justify this is amazing.  

[ Parent ]
Like a tactic the right has pursued many times in the past... (0.00 / 0)
what the (lets call them:) Obama skeptics are doing is creating a mythical contingent of cult-like kool-aid drinking followers, then trying to paint everyone who chose to originally support Obama instead of one of the other candidates with the same brush, as if they must have all been ignorant  followers who should have been smart enough to support the candidate who you originally supported.

Notice almost all of this type of attacks are coming from people who originally supported other candidates (usually Edwards). I think I've finally figured out why this is, but I'll save that explanation for a diary.

Sure there are plenty of people who have supported Obama all along who are being very critical of his recent statements, including myself, but nearly all the ones who rant endlessly about "Kool-Aid drinking cultist identity politics followers" are people who originally supported another primary candidate and are still sour about losing and are endlessly looking for an explanation and an apology for all those stupid Democrats who foolishly chose to support this guy Obama.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.


[ Parent ]
You seem to be full of a lot of excuses (0.00 / 0)
and lashing out at us. I honestly don't care why. If you need to pretend this is about us that's your deal. Above I tired to give you the benefit of the doubt, but one of the things I am not going to do is to let you personalize to me what is in fact behavior that is readily apparent from any numbe of websites including Daily Kos where Koshas been attacked by the very subset to which I m referring. if you want to pretend it's not happening- again' your problem, not my facts.

[ Parent ]
Where did I make and excuse. The subset exists... (0.00 / 0)
but it is very small.

There also truly does exist a subset of anti-war liberals who believe in tin-foil hat conspiracies and all of that, but they are also very small.

It is unhelpful, insulting, and downright demeaning to keep going around and pretending like the people you describe characterize a large subset of Obama supporters. Take a look at HillaryIs44.org, how is THAT for a subset?

Out of all of Obama's millions of supporters and donors, very few of them blog or post comments about him on the internet. Of the supporters that do, even fewer of them fit your description.

I am one of Obama's most ardent supporters on here and even I don't fit into your mythical description. That should tell you something.

It also says something that the vast majority of your posts on here seem to be obsessed with this topic. Its like Lou Dobbs, he might actually have a good point about some of his views on immigration (not many of them) but the fact the he is so obsessed and demagogue about it makes him seem crazy and obsessed.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.


[ Parent ]
if you want play tend there is nothing I can do to stop you (0.00 / 0)
Mythical means by the way that something has no basis in reality, but you contradict yourself above that by saying there is indeed a contigency that is as I describe

[ Parent ]
The "myth" part is the beleif that... (0.00 / 0)
 this subset pertaining to Obama is abnormally large. I would argue the size of the subset you're refering to as it petains to Obama isn't much bigger or smaller % wise than it is or has been for any other Democratic Primary candidates.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
I have no idea how big they are and neither do you (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
EXACTLY! This is what I've been trying to get you to admit the entire time. Which begs a lot of questions about the comments you've made. n/t (0.00 / 0)


End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
Congrats (4.00 / 1)
Although point a) that we are uncertain of numbers doesn't follow b that this means I need to answer begged question, here, you think you won something (which is important) so I am happy to help. In seriousness, logically speaking it doesn't change my thought experiment. If you are right, we would know, and if I am right- the same is true. You are the one claiming certainty that its unrepresentative.

[ Parent ]
Of course it doesn't change your thought experiment. And that was not why I was replying to. (0.00 / 0)
We stopped talking about your thought experiment many threadings ago. What we were arguing about for the rest of this thread was about your imagined invisible army of Obama followers. I didn't even bother asking all the questions that your latest admission begs, but any rational person reading this exchange and has seen your other posts elsewhere would conclude that you have a serious preoccupation with a topic phenomenon, that by your own admission, may not even exist (to the extent that it is noteworthy).

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
Congrats (0.00 / 0)
Although point a) that we are uncertain of numbers doesn't follow b that this means I need to answer begged question, here, you think you won something (which is important) so I am happy to help. In seriousness, logically speaking it doesn't change my thought experiment. If you are right, we would know, and if I am right- the same is true. You are the one claiming certainty that its unrepresentative.

[ Parent ]
There IS A Personality Cult Contingent (4.00 / 3)
There is such a contingent with any candidate, and there's more of this contingent with Obama because he intentionally cultivated it.

This does not mean that everyone who supported him since early on acts that way, but to try to deny that such behavior exists is just silly.

Obama's vagueness on issues, rarely speaking on them directly, was a part of cultivating that sort of support.  And now, on one of the most prominent issues where he did take a clear stand, he has totally reversed himself and sought to obscure what he's done with a lot of misleading verbiage.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
by the way (4.00 / 2)
to be clear- toward the end and even now Clinton also had a cult of personality following her. You can see some of those people in the PUMA crap for example or on Talk LEft. But as Paul says to deny there is a contigent of Obama supporters are fanatical is to deny reality. These people are arguing that any criticsim (and yeah I've seen recommended diaries with 100s of posts on Daily Kos) is tantamount to handing the election to McCain, and that although they disagree with him on FISA they "trust" him to do the right thing with this power because they have faith in him.

[ Parent ]
No, not really (4.00 / 3)
I leaned towards Obama since before he announced, without "supporting" him until the primaries got underway. And even then I didn't fully commit to voting for him in my state's caucus (WA) until the race-baiting from the Clinton campaign got into high gear, and he impressed me as a good campaigner who wasn't just an Iowa fluke like Huckabee. I have supported him since, and none of the other candidates struck me as better on the issues AND more viable against the GOP (I actually liked a lot of what Gravel had to say, but of course he wasn't going anywhere).

But I was never in the "Obama is a faultless god" camp, even though I probabaly took a few sips of the Kool Aid at one point (or just blinded myself to his faults in the hope that they weren't that bad). And I still intend to vote for him, because what viable alternative do we have? McCain is simply unthinkable. But ever since he started flip-flopping on issue after issue since clinching, I've been increasingly worried about him. And when his FISA position was announced, it was like someone threw a glass of ice cold water (or Kool Aid) in my face, and I was thinking WTF?!?!?!?!?!?

And I'm one of those people now ranting about "Kool-Aid drinking cultists", because that's what they are. I find them to be as equally rediculous as the people who claim that Obama = McCain and that it's probably better that McCain wins so we can finally go over that cliff and rebuild from the ground up. "He's 100% pure" is about as stupid and dangerous is "he's 100% evil". A cult is a cult whether you're unconditionally FOR or AGAINST something (e.g. wingnuts whose main raison d'etre seems to be a deeply irrational hatred of liberals).

He's probably going to win and be a competent president, fix some of the messes that Bush and the GOP have made, and maybe even initiate some decent reforms. But he's not going to go to the mat for any issue because it's the right progressive thing to do. He'll only fight the battles that won't draw any blood, and for which there is already a fairly broad consensus (which will include corporations and other privileged special interests like AIPAC). But he's not going to be the next FDR or LBJ. More like the next Nixon (who was actually not a bad president in some of his domestic policies), but less paranoid and evil. I.e. Bill Clinton II.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
exactly right (4.00 / 2)
but i would add that's also because his more ardent supporters will not allow him to be anything because they will deflect all meaningful critique. they say they are just doing this to allow him to win, but i've already seen rumblings of (both online and off) that he's going to be the leader of the country, not the progresive movement. if you want to have a movement you need to build it yourself. as if reagan wasn't both present and leader of the conservatives and pushed the GOP brand. It's one of these false choices approach to analysis that is ultimately meant to prevent one from thinking "wait, but why does one have to choose among the three like that?"

[ Parent ]
Ah, Yes! Just What We Need, Another Republican President With A "D" After His Name (0.00 / 0)
It's gettin' as how the only competent Republicans anymore are Democrats.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Well, there was Eisenhower (4.00 / 2)
Who could have been either, really. A competent Repub would certainly be preferable to an incompetent and insane conservative (either Bush or McCain qualify for this). But if we can have a competent Repub, why not a competent real Dem?

And it's going to be tough in '16 too, since Obama is NOT going to pick a liberal as VP, who will likely be the heir apparent and front-runner then. I wouldn't put him past picking a Strickland or Casey at this point--or even a Hagel or Bloomberg.

Better than Bush or McSame, but man, does this have to be our only choice?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
We are right (0.00 / 0)
to be cynical regarding Obama (and everyone else in politics, for that matter), but I can't see Hagel or Bloomberg getting the nod.  

I lapped up Paul's series on Edwards as VP, which I agree is as likely as Barr being elected President, but I hope we won't end up with a Casey.  I never thought I'd hope for Webb as VP, but given some of the other options floated (Hagel, Bloomberg, Casey, Rendell) I find him less repugnant; and very possibly more "effective" than Sebelius.

Too bad.  I think the case for Edwards is remarkably solid.


[ Parent ]
The case for Edwards is remarkably solid if Obama wants to govern as a progressive (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Or If He Just Wants To Win The Election (4.00 / 2)
Oh, that!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
But, like you said earlier, (0.00 / 0)
they'd rather lose without us than they would win with us.  If Obama wants to just be a media crony centrist, then he really would rather not have a gadfly like Edwards or Brown or Feingold constantly biting him.  Even if it means losing the election.

[ Parent ]
Or, i guess I should say, (0.00 / 0)
even if it means risking the election.  I doubt he'd completely throw the election.  

[ Parent ]
I doubt that it'll be Casey himself (0.00 / 0)
Because he's incredibly boring and listless and would drag down the ticket. But a pro-lifer or even Repub (former or current) would not be out of the question for Senator "Yes he can!". But clearly, Edwards is not going to happen--nor Clark at this point. Webb might be out best hope, sadly. At least Kaine would get to appoint his replacement.

You can't alway get what you want.
But if you try sometime, you get "Yes we can!"

Ugh.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
We can fight this (0.00 / 0)
Kennedy really did have a shot in 1980.  If the straight talk express hadn't managed to suck all of the air out of Bradley 2000, he might have had a shot.  Dean fell more due to horrible strategic miscalculation than anything else.  We probably would have had our candidate this time if it had been made clear who that should've been until waaaay too late.  

But finding the right candidate with the right message, and then rallying around that candidate to the extent that they are immune from all the bullshit that gets flung from the press and the centrists and the Republicans is hard effing work.  

But at least we learned this time that a media driven candidate can beat a party insider driven candidate.  The machine's choice can be beaten.  Now it's a matter of finding our choice, and pushing her/him.  Hell, if he repeats Bill Clinton's performance as President, why not primary him in 2012?  I wonder if Al Gore could be drafted if Obama completely sits on his hands re: the environment.


[ Parent ]
But Obama WAS media-driven (4.00 / 1)
Sure, he was the one who drove it, by manipulating things a certain way. But they played right into his hands, just like Reagan in '80, or Bush in '00. Obama was no Carter or even Clinton-like insurgent. He was the establishment guy who brilliantly pretended to be the anti-establishment guy, while charming the establishment that he was really a part of (or wanted to be a part of). Sort of like the kind of guy who looks and dresses like a hippie or biker or some kind of rebel who would normally get kicked out of his date's house by her father, yet who manages to charm the socks off of him and getting invited in for a beer--until you realize that beyond the superficial appearances, he's establishment to the core. We've all met people like this, who initially look like rebels and outsiders, in how they dress and speak. But when you get to know them, you realize that they're totally conventional and just want to claw their way into the power-money hierarchy (think Bill Clinton in his "hippie" phase with that beard).

AT heart, he's a boomer to the core, in all the bad ways (not all or even most boomers are like the selfish power and money-hungry self-absorbed stereotype, which is what I'm referring to). He was the outsider always looking in, wanting to be part of the "in" power and money crowd, and slowly working his way in. This is just the next and ultimate step in that direction. When he wins, watch the entire power establishment rally around him like he was always the guy they most liked. Kind of like what happened with Reagan, except much faster. Well, until his screws up and displeases them. That's when they'll all say "Well, I never really did like him". At which point he MIGHT start developing a real soul. Maybe.

And don't kid yourself that a real progressive can be elected. In today's world it is exceedingly hard. Trying to find someone like Obama, but with a conscience, is extremely hard.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Yes, obama was media-driven (0.00 / 0)
but at least he wasn't party infrastructure driven.  He was not the party insider's choice, he was the media's choice.  That is an incremental step.

He was no rebel.  And he was certainly much more centrist than he painted himself.  And none of this was really particularly surprising.  But if this election had taken place in 2000 or 2004, Hillary Clinton would have wrapped this thing up around Super Tuesday.  The way the party works is changing.  It's a matter of finding a candidate and coalescing around that candidate.  


[ Parent ]
But Clinton did the same thing in '92 (4.00 / 2)
Like Obama, he was the insurgent outsider who upended the Democratic establishment's preferred candidates (Gephardt, Harkin, Kerrey). And he ended up governing as a non-liberal center-right "New Dem". Obama is basically a "New New Dem", as opposed to a "New Old Dem" (of the pre-modern, New Deal era). So I'm not sure what really changed. We seem to cycle between establishment Dems who lose (Dukakis, Gore, Kerry), and disappointingly non-liberal "outsiders" (Clinton, Obama). But we haven't seen either an establishment Dem who won and did good since LBJ, and a liberal outsider who won and did good since FDR.

I'm starting to believe that true reform won't come from a president, but rather from congress. Like you said, we need to elect more and better progressives to congress, to present Obama and whoever follows him with a strong pushback from the left. Since we seem to be incapable of electing a genuinely liberal or progressive president, perhaps the nest best thing would be a centrist president and a liberal/progressive congress, and let them have at each other.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
I hate to cite the Ayn Rand vehicle Reason magazine, but they have a snippet from "The Cult of the Presidency" ( http://www.reason.com/news/pri... - apologies, no clue how to post a link) that I think makes a few good points.  Instead of looking to a Democratic "Dear Leader" to replace the Republican one, it should be about the People - ergo, Congress.  After all, they're the ones that make laws.

[ Parent ]
The peoples' house (4.00 / 2)
Because the peoples' president doesn't look likely this time around.

Unless by "people" one means David Broder and Brian Williams.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
And we already have at least one such foil for Obama (4.00 / 2)
in the form of Ted Kennedy. There are others (Feingold, Wexler, Sanders, Waxman, Nadler, possibly Clinton), and there will be more. I sincerely hope that after a period of flirting with center-right politics and policies, and a bout of self-infatuation, he will come down to (or be knocked down to) planet earth, and realize where his legacy lies, if he wants to have a good one--on the left side of the aisle. He may think that he's made some good new friends in the "center", but they're no friends, and will turn on him if he fails to play along fully. I hope that this happens while he still has time to do some good.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
The difference with 1992 was that there was no real establishment candidate (0.00 / 0)
Everyone credible thought that Bush's reelection was inevitable, and they didn't move the infrastructure necessary to run.  There was no way of predicting how horribly Perot, the recession and the LA riots were going to hurt Bush.  

He certainly wasn't the progresive in that election, but there wasn't really an institution within the Democratic party amongst him, Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas.

Not to mention that, of those three, the insiders were happy to have a DLC founder like Clinton.


[ Parent ]
I liked the other two (0.00 / 0)
I'm guessing that most of the people who are so upset with Obama right now did, or would have, too. But yeah, the only reason the DLC was founded and succeeded for a while was because the party itself was half-dead, and had essentially been since '68. That didn't really change until just a few years ago, and we still have quite a ways to go before it's back to life again, AS the party that it's supposed to be, and not as some centrist hack job.

This is why I reject true third party alternatives, and instead believe that we should do what the conservatives did with the GOP--take over a ready-made party rather than create a new one from scratch. Parties are really just vessels for whoever is able to fill them at the time. I view Obama and other leading Dems as such a vessel, and it's our job to fill them over time. Perhaps an awkward metaphor, but the one that comes to mind right now.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Also, we need to work like hell to get a congress that can push him. Hard (4.00 / 2)
The larger and more powerful a progressive base we get, the less wiggle room that Obama will have to do shit like this.  Kennedy starting on health care now is a hell of a good start.  If we hit the ground running, and make Obama's first hundred days as president be a lot of him signing pre-drafted progressive legislation, then the tone for his Presidency will have been set.

[ Parent ]
100% agreed (0.00 / 0)
In a way, this might work out for the best. Government tends to work best when there's some tension between the branches, as opposed to under Bush, but not too much tension, as under Clinton. And in any case, we need some way of keeping him honest. I also wouldn't at all be surprised to see the courts push back a lot more than they did under Bush. And we, of course, need to push back when he deserves it. Which is precisely why I view all this criticism of him as healthy, and all the attempts to squelch it as unhealthy.

He will survive it and be better off for it. As will we.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Radical Left (0.00 / 0)
I agree it is a little odd to see moderates play the role formerly reserved for true far-lefties and righties. I just feel the need to stress what a small group this really is. And there is something to be said for a middle-of-the-road political leader being able to rile up these folks over mild liberal fare.

For my money, if I want to see self-defeating extremists I'd rather gawk at the Minutemen or Critical Mass!  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
"we" (4.00 / 1)
if I may use that term, are far from the radical left.  No one that I've seen/read is out publicly advocating the nationalization of various industries (setting aside that I can think of a few that could use it), nor are there parallel organizations on the left to right-wing militias or abortion clinic bombers or an equivalent to the cozy ties a number of GOP officeholders have to white nationalist/supremacist/separatist groups.  Radical we are not.  [Note: in case I'm misunderstanding your comment entirely - do you mean moderates are a small number, or the netroots?  Forgive me if I misread you; the rest of my comment is predicated on reference to the netroots.]

Yes, the netroots are small, but thankfully growing in influence.  In terms of the marketplace of ideas (let alone good governance) it is paramount said influence expands.  Public debate being limited to the center-right in the MSM is even worse to my mind than losing elections.  Taking a principled stand and losing is one thing, but the near-blackout in mainstream discourse paralyzes democracy.  

We still don't have the influence of a single lefty Rush Limbaugh.  What's the closest the left has?  Bill Maher?  Unless the limited "power of the purse" the netroots has gets used, we will remain merely an ATM for the same corporate Dems we don't want.  Tough love perhaps, but it's the only tool of substance we wield at the moment.  Lest we lose sight of the bigger picture, Chris Bowers' earlier posts (I think they were his, from Tuesday or Wednesday) regarding the size of the wingnuts relative to the population is illustrative of what dedication, organization and money can accomplish.

I do agree that there is something to be said that Obama has generated the excitement that he has, however on issue after issue, year after year polls indicate the public supports liberal/progressive positions on reproductive choice, gay rights, health care, taxes, the environment, corporate subsidies, etc.  We lose because the Democratic Party is, by and large, spineless.  So I'm not that shocked that a candidate with Obama's charisma has managed to rally hordes of people around tepid reforms on those issues.  That said, he's an adult that can handle himself and I don't think the criticism directed at him from these quarters is self-defeating.  No one's pulling a 1968 Convention that I'm aware of.  

Bloody hell, this comment is a lot longer than I anticipated.  Sorry about that ;)  


[ Parent ]
I Think You Mean MY Posts, Klaus (0.00 / 0)
Lest we lose sight of the bigger picture, Chris Bowers' earlier posts (I think they were his, from Tuesday or Wednesday) regarding the size of the wingnuts relative to the population is illustrative of what dedication, organization and money can accomplish.

From last weekend: "The Deep--And Hidden--Divide In American Politics" and "Center-Left America--Vast Support For the Welfare State"

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, I feel (0.00 / 0)
pretty damn sheepish.  

[ Parent ]
gawk at Critical Mass (4.00 / 1)
son, you obviously don't let yourself have enough fun.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Oh Come On Paul! (4.00 / 2)
I believe a letter from leading law school deans would be in order.  But I'm rather afraid they may be reluctant to speak out, simply because Obama is not Bush.

Yet.

First off, do we really expect Future President Obama to yield executive power before he evens takes office? There are a million rapid wingers already penning their expose on how Obama's opposition to "FISA reform" was the sole and exclusive reason for the Next Big Terror Attack! By supporting this legislation he is hedging his bets against a presidency-killing blame game that would erupt once the experts connect two and two following the next 9/11.  

We are living in a post-9/11 world, even if that fact won't be apparent until after the next attack. The populous is still fully primed to engage in super-outrage mode, given the right motivation - like dead Americans. Obama realizes this.

It is in the best interest of an Obama presidency that he support this now, and its in the best interest of our nation that it doesn't pass. We can still have the best of both worlds because, if everyone hasn't forgotten - IT ISN'T LAW YET.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


THis country went through a Civil War (4.00 / 6)
and managed to survive. It survived the Cold War in a situation that was an existential threat to the entire planet. Are you seriously arguing that this is the worse thing this country has ever faced? Because to follow your logic that somehow "post 9/11" makes this necessary, one is then forced to ask- why wasn't it necessary before now and more that- how were we able to suceed in prior struggles with out it?

[ Parent ]
Yes, yes.... but (0.00 / 0)
I guess my concern isn't whether or not it is necessary (I agree it is not) but what the ramifications would be for the greater political alignment of this country. Lest we forget the legions of American flag stickers and "watch what you say" mentality following 9/11. It is truly a terrifying proposition, IMHO, for the most prominent Democrat in a generation to set them self up for the fall should another several thousand Americans die.

How many cycles for Democrats to overcome a fresh new assault on their national defense credibility should the worst befall an Obama presidency? If a narrative emerges, following a hypothetical attack, that blames the Democrats for failing to prevent an attack, we could find ourselves with a fresh slate of hawks leading us to new wars. It's the kind of long term threat to our political alignment that keeps me up at night.


"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
You fight fascists by denying authoritarianism (4.00 / 2)
You don't fight them by raising your hand in a half-assed salute, and then claiming that you're more reasonable than them.  

Obama has just legitimized warrantless wiretapping and a notion of legality that boils down to 'if the government tells a company to do something, then it is legal.'  And secret courts.  His answer to 'who will watch the watchers?' is a secret court.  

To make an appeal to the atmosphere in early 2002 just makes this point clearer.  I doubt there would have been much resistance to martial law back then.  So would it have been wise for the Democrats to have gone along with THAT?


[ Parent ]
Correct me if I'm wrong (4.00 / 1)
but wasn't FISA always a secret court?  


[ Parent ]
yes. (4.00 / 1)
And the existing FISA law already gave too much power to the government.  That is why anyone who strengthens it is no friend of democracy.  

[ Parent ]
Simple Answers to Simple Questions (4.00 / 6)
First off, do we really expect Future President Obama to yield executive power before he evens takes office?

Yes.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
George Washington (4.00 / 3)
was also offered the chance to be king. He turned it down.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
"In Order To Save The Constitution It Was Necessary To Destroy It" (4.00 / 6)
Yes. I have heard it all before.

If Obama were the least bit sincere in his opposition, he would have simply made certain this never came up for another vote.  He is the one who put himself on the spot.

And, once again, like every Democratic presidential candidate in living memory, his own self-contradictory actions, in the process of trying to "act tough" are showing him to be weak, unprincipled, and indecisive.

No one did that to him.  He did it to himself.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
the question is whether or not this is true (0.00 / 0)
First let me say I too wish Obama continued to oppose the bill despite it's near-certain passage.  Furthermore, I have seen no evidence that he strongly opposed the bill behind-the-scenes.  I suspect he did nothing.  So Obama deserves criticism.  

But the key criticism is...

If Obama were the least bit sincere in his opposition, he would have simply made certain this never came up for another vote.  He is the one who put himself on the spot.

I don't find this model of how Democrats in Congress function very compelling. Both Carter and Clinton has enormous difficulties working with Democratic-controlled congresses, yet I am supposed to believe that a candidate can get anything he likes with a word whispered in a few ears?  Furthermore, I remember that telecom immunity passed last fall when the Presidential candidates were all pandering to the base.  Rockefeller pushed it through.

Now, if it is true that Obama cannot get bills killed by his word alone, then it is simply a political question of the best mileage. I agree with you that he should not cave, but I don't think it is absolutely crazy -- as bruhrabbit suggests -- to think that he should go the other way.  Obama did the easy (again, I think wrong) path, which is go along with the Pelosi cave and pretend that Democrats got significant concessions.

So I'd like you to develop the case that Obama could have stopped this bill easily.  



New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
Uh? (0.00 / 0)
 You claimed in your post it was necessary and I provided a context for how silly the argument is on its face given this country's history.

Now, when challeged with how silly that argument is on it's face, you change argument in mid stream to this?

It's a strawman argument. No one needs to prove that Obama needed to "stop this bill easily.'  The question is why he's not even trying to show leadership?

Even on its own terms, you aren't able to maket he argument you are makign because what political argument is there for this outside of DC? How does this improve Obama's brand as the agent of change?


[ Parent ]
Stopping A Voting Is A Lot Easier Than Getting Something Passed (4.00 / 1)
Besides, a Presidential nominee has enormous clout.  They are already funcitoning at the top of the ticket.

What's more, this was something that no one outside of the cloakrooms was calling for.  It was considered dead until just a few weeks ago.  It wouldn't have taken much to keep it dead.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Excellent point (0.00 / 0)
Simple, direct and correct - it isn't difficult for a Senator to hold a bill (Coburn, anyone?).  

However, the question I have - and it's an honest question, although I confess an inclination to give Obama the benefit of the doubt - is that while popular opinion is against the FISA bill, was/is Obama really in a position to fight Pelosi, Reid, and the Blue Dogs over this?  

I don't mean to defend Obama's decision here - frankly I think it stinks to high heaven - but I can't help but wonder if within the confines of the cloakroom there is some piece to this infuriating puzzle that we're missing.  I don't pretend to know what that could be.  As it stands I'm strongly disappointed that this bill will move forward.

Paul, as an aside, thanks for all your work here on OpenLeft.  I find your analysis excellent, and your posts never fail to get the synapses firing. :)


[ Parent ]
Well, Frankly (0.00 / 0)
I've never seen Obama lead on anything high profile.  So I don't really think he tried on this, either.  Or even thought about it.  Which would make the whole question you raise moot.

My opinion of him is that he's a second-rate JFK, and this latest fit of pandering has merely downgraded him to a third-rate JFK.

And thanks for the attaboy.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I often wonder (0.00 / 0)
what happened to liberals with spines.  I mean, we have Feingold, Sanders.  Dodd sometimes.  A smattering of others.  When the hell did the party of FDR, JFK or even take-no-prisoners LBJ turn into milquetoast? [insert usual caveat that LBJ was criminal on Vietnam, but I have to give him domestic policy cred].

Given that Obama has displayed skill at playing politics (securing the nomination, and increasing his poll numbers despite weeks of seemingly bad press), I end up back at the question of why he didn't oppose.  As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, it really wouldn't have cost him at all, and likely could only have benefited him politically.


[ Parent ]
Absolutely wrong (4.00 / 1)
And you can consult Glenn Greenwald for evidence on this. There are a number of high-ranking Democrats who have been continually wanting to revive this vote. The most logical reason why is because they are complicit in illegal activities and want cover their asses. I don't believe there is any way Obama could have blocked this bill.

Now I too wish Obama had acted differently and I joined the group on myobama.com as one of my expressions of opposition.

But I think your criticism of Obama is way overboard. I think your remark about him not being Bush yet is quite ludicrous. The difference between them is vast, getting us out of Iraq vs fighting another 100 years, moving us towards universal health care, an energy policy oriented towards alternative energies.

I believe Obama when he says that when he is president he will work towards preventing presidential abuse in the future. I don't know whether right now he believes he is taking the correct position or he thinks he needs to do it to prevent him from attack. I think right now it would not hurt him to go against the bill but he could leave himself open to terrible scapegoating if another attack should happen.

The sad fact is that no one can be elected president in this country who could be wholeheartedly supported by Open Left. For my part I will save my biggest opposition to Obama if I feel betrayed by him after the election. Until then I will do all I can to help him get elected, though as with FISA I will criticize what I disagree with.


[ Parent ]
There's Nothing Overboard About My Bush Remark (0.00 / 0)
Vietnam was the Democrat's war, remember?

And LBJ didn't even believe in it.  He just thought he had no choice in the matter.  Just as it appears Obama thinks he has no choice but to pander rightward as fast as he can.

At least LBJ gave us a whole raft of great domestic legislation--the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Head Start, etc., etc., etc.  He thought he had to fight in Vietnam in order to do all that good stuff.

But Obama?  Quite frankly, after lying about filibustering Telco immunity, I don't think we can trust a thing he says.  We have no idea which promises he intends to keep and which were just blowing smoke.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I don't think there's any guarantees about Obama (0.00 / 0)
But looking at his history of community organizing, his writings, the majority of actions, I have to say that I trust him as a person much more than I trusted LBJ. I think he will get us out of Iraq. I don't trust entirely that he will not use military action that I would strongly disagree with, but if so I would guess it would be more on the lines of Bill Clinton's military involvements than the atrocities of LBJ in Vietnam.

I understand your anger about FISA. I was quite angry at first as well. Now I still oppose his position but I can understand it and it doesn't change my opinion that he is a good man.


[ Parent ]
LBJ (4.00 / 4)
I trust him as a person much more than I trusted LBJ.

Perhaps this is what is wrong with modern politics.  It's all bullshit personality analysis.

LBJ had plenty of character flaws, but his heart was in the right place, and he fought hard for what he believed in.  He was a giant compared to today's pygmies.

So Vietnam is the great tragedy of his administration.  I wouldn't crow too hard about Obama vs LBJ.  BO hasn't got us out of Iraq yet, and my expectations that he will ever deliver anything domestic on the scale of LBJ are rapidly diminishing.  For example, meaningful UHC, which Republicans will fight tooth and nail because they know it will mean another 40 years in the political wilderness for them if it passes.

This to me looks to be the great tragedy of the Obama administration.  As others have pointed out, Bill Clinton II, when we had the opportunity for a major political realignment.


[ Parent ]
Don't give me this crap nostalgia about LBJ (0.00 / 0)
LBJ was every bit as evil as Bush when it came to foreign policy. He manufactured the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get us in and he was responsible for even more death and destruction than Bush. I don't know if you lived through LBJ. I did and what he created was a nightmare.  

[ Parent ]
With one important exception (4.00 / 1)
LBJ was consciously afraid of having what happened to Truman post-Mao happen to him when Ho Chi Minh marched into Saigon.  And he wanted the Voting Rights Bill, Medicare, and the War on Poverty.  So he went along with something that he knew to be unwise.  It was the wrong decision, and it was unethical, but it was at least done with a rationalization, however horrible that rationalization was.  

[ Parent ]
Your Knowledge Of History Is Flawed, To Say The Least (0.00 / 0)
I responded at length to your character assasination of LBJ on the more current diary, so I'll limit myself here to seconding Valatan's point, and adding that you've crucially misrepresented the Gulf of Tonkin incident to superficially make Johnson look more like Bush.

As Valatan points out, Johnson didn't want into the war, but felt he had no way to avoid it, sooner or later.  This goes back to the whole history of "who lost China?", the Korean War, McCarthyism, and the Democrats loss of power for the first time in 20 years in 1952.  So he was pushing the envelope, waiting for an incident that would give him an excuse for political cover.

What he was expecting was that whatever he did, one way or another, he would be attacked.  This is what the Republicans had done to Truman, and he was very wary of a replay.  So he figured, get as big a Congressional mandate as possible, and have maximum political insulation.  (FDR had almost universal support going into Yalta, and yet within a few years the GOP was hyperventilating about it being a sellout.)

I go into this at a little length, because it indicates a completely different mindset and motivation.  Not that I approve of it--in fact, I think that Obama is following the exact same fear-based logic, and that's a large part of why I oppose it.  But it is a distinctly and fundamentally different logic from that of Bush/Cheney.  And, indeed, when the Gulf of Tonkin Incident did occur, Johnson pounced on it--because he'd been waiting for something like it for a while.  But even then he became aware that it was not that clear-cut, and acknowledged as much in private.

So, this is not manufacturing an incident.  It is certainly setting things up to take advantage of it.  And it is deliberately moving forward, rather than stopping when it becomes uncertain exactly what happened.  It is not how foreign policy should be conducted, by any stretch of the imagination.  But it is not pure invention.  LBJ is not identical to Bush, and Obama is not the polar opposite.

You need to get your mind out of the simplistic 1930s good-vs-evil comic-book mindset, and into the moral complexities of the 1960s comics.  If not Zap, then at least Marvel.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
This is why experience is important: (4.00 / 1)

We have no idea which promises he intends to keep and which were just blowing smoke.

This is, once again, something that the press had completely backward.  Experience is important not because it makes someone able to be President (though there might be some truth to that).  It is important because it lets voters know how the hell the person wil react to political pressure.  


[ Parent ]
I was mistaken about who posted what (0.00 / 0)
clearly you aren't the same as tposter above.

[ Parent ]
... (4.00 / 1)
And, once again, like every Democratic presidential candidate in living memory, his own self-contradictory actions, in the process of trying to "act tough" are showing him to be weak, unprincipled, and indecisive.

No, Paul, it shows YOU that he is weak, unprincipled, etc, etc. Sadly, you do not get to determine the next president. There are a lot of voters out there who would be very swayed by a series of "Obama wants the terrorists to kill your children" ads. Yes, these ads will come anyway, but at least in this scenario he can go on talk TV and honestly say he DID vote to stop child-murdering terrorists. Principle or not, most people don't want terrorists to kill their children, and they are going to need to believe Obama can protect them.

I do wonder why the Dems have allowed this to proceed in the first place. Maybe its the obvious answer - Obama wants to secure expanded executive power for his own presidency. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of Obama, but it isn't an unrealistic explanation.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
Zeig Heil, Dude! (0.00 / 0)
No rule of law for you!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
Isn't the executive supposed to be power hungry? Checks and balances and all that, right?

If your waiting for the modest type to run for president, keep waiting!!

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
conflict of interest (4.00 / 1)
That's a provocative line of thinking. Senator Obama is charged by the Constitution with checking the executive power that he seeks as president. Basic conflict of interest.

It used to be at least candidates pretended they wanted to uphold the Constitution. No more, that's a liability now.


[ Parent ]
Where does it end? (0.00 / 0)
Because people just mildly rationalizing executive power grabs usually ends in a guy with a uniform and a beret who wears a bunch of medals and who dissolves Parliaments.

[ Parent ]
... (4.00 / 2)
Barring an attack pre-election, if I'm not mistaken terrorism isn't high on the list of voters' priorities.  The GOP will, as you say, run those ads anyway.  Now, however, they can try to paint Obama as indecisive at best, or craven and opportunistic at worst.  It's a lose-lose for Obama and "our side".

That said, I trust no one with that degree of executive power.  

Had Obama given his recent patriotism speech in the context of opposing FISA and explaining why in the same even, mature tones as his speech on race I'd be singing his praises.  He'd have shifted the frame of the debate and, I believe, scored quite a coup re: voters in Montana and the Dakotas, to say nothing of extending a bit of coattail to Gary Trauner in Wyoming.  Sadly that isn't the case.


[ Parent ]
... (4.00 / 1)
I can't express in words how truly concerned I am that a terrorist attack during the Obama presidency could destroy Democrats for a generation, through no fault of their own. If Obama wants to play defense on that (if that is what he is doing) I have a hard time blaming him.

We all see how the media and the pundit class treat Dems when it comes to defense. Boy-wonder Bush reads a book while American burns, and he is a great American hero! Obama could single-handedly beat Osama bin laden to death and still be branded as a terrorist sympathizer.

Clearly we, as Dems, have made up substantial ground in our efforts to prove that Republicans do not have a monopoly on national defense, but all that could change in an instant the next time 3,000 Americans die.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


[ Parent ]
Eek, I'm a concern troll! (0.00 / 0)
But I really am concerned!

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
well this is honest- this is really all about what (4.00 / 3)
people fear. not about what the Constition says or even what Obama says. He cn do no wrong because you are afraid.

[ Parent ]
It's understandable (4.00 / 1)
even if to my thinking mistaken.

The prospect of an Obama Administration after the manchild we've been stuck with is not unpleasant.  I understand the feeling of those that don't want to rock that boat.

But if McCain can be even remotely competitive given the open revolt of a chunk of his base, then Obama can handle the left calling his b.s.


[ Parent ]
I think fear is the enemy of freedom (4.00 / 4)
I live in Brooklyn. I was suppose to meet someone in the towers, but woke up to see they were coming down. For 2 days, if you lived here, they were telling us to be afraid. There were these bomb threatens and everyone was numb and afraid.  On Thursday, I got on the subway- although it was hard to do so because I made up my mind that I was going into Manhattan. I had nothing to do over there, but I knew I had to go. I had to confront  my fear of being over there. I wasn't going to be free if I was afraid. If it takes over your mind- you can't think straight.  I went, and there was nothing that happened to be me. My fears were ust that-  my fears.  By being here, I was able to work through it. Ironically, if you ask many NY'ers they are some of the most liberal Americans on many of these issues. Its the people far away who live in terror of the unknown. You start to listen to whatever people throw at you and rationalize anything. I am saying all this to say I get it. But it's dangerous. What made Bush possible is this fear. What would make another bush possible is the continuation of this fear. Even if Obama is a saint in office, he's got two terms, and then what?


[ Parent ]
Same here (4.00 / 2)
I was living on the UWS at the time. Like everyone, I was numb. But as soon as I could, I took a subway down to the wreckage--a place where I had worked several times, including in one of the buildings that fell (WTC7)--because I had to see it.

Sure, I was afraid, but I was also convinced that we could and would deal with whatever lay ahead, without having to radically change. Sadly, a lot of people disagreed--mostly ones who lived far away from the attacks--and went with Bush's fear-based agenda. Including all too many "Dems", whether it was because they truly bought into it, or because they feared for their careers if they didn't play along (like, oh, Cleland and Daschle). I had hoped that Obama was better, smarter and tougher than all this.

I was wrong.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I realized that as well- its the abstraction they fear (4.00 / 3)
They don't fear the actual act of terror- which, let's face it- most Americans will not experience. It's the abstraction of "it may happen" that defines them.

To some degree, it makes sense. For many of us, we lived under the existential threat of nuclear anhilation. For many, they took the emotions concerning this threat, and transferred it (with Bush's help) to terrorism. They were told 9/11 was like the Cold War. This frame helped Bush and his allies, and to a large degree redefined even liberal thinking. No one to this day can honestly say to Americans- you know what- it's a threat, but we have faced worst. We have looked into the brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We have seen the dark days of the arms war. We have seen 2 major world wars that threatened freedom across multiple continents. This isn't something we can not weather. But, no one says this. They live us in fear.

I remember in 2004 they interviewed this woman- older lady- she lived in a rural county in Washinton state. She was voting for Bush because he would protected her from terrorist. Now, my first thought- was look lady you have more of a chance of being struck by lightening. But, we aren't suppose to say that. We are suppose to pretend that all fears are reasonable about terrorism because of this one act.

There was this book written before 9/11 that gets at the heart of what this is really about. It's about how Americans have been born into fear-- it was called "Culture of Fear." Moore in his annoying way used the book -although his of course used it to make money, but that's for another post.

The main thesis of the book is as follows:

"Americans are afraid of many things that shouldn't frighten them, writes Barry Glassner in this book devoted to exploding conventional wisdom. Thanks to opportunistic politicians, single-minded advocacy groups, and unscrupulous TV "newsmagazines," people must unlearn their many misperceptions about the world around them. The youth homicide rate, for instance, has dropped by as much as 30 percent in recent years, says Glassner--and up to three times as many people are struck dead by lightening than die by violence in schools. "False and overdrawn fears only cause hardship," he writes. In fact, one study shows that daughters of women with breast cancer are actually less likely to conduct self-examinations--probably because the campaign to increase awareness of the ailment also inadvertently heightens fears.

Although some sections are stronger than others, The Culture of Fear's examination of many nonproblems--such as "road rage," "Internet addiction," and airline safety--is very good. Glassner also has a sharp eye for what causes unnecessary goose bumps: "The use of poignant anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, the christening of isolated incidents as trends, depictions of entire categories of people as innately dangerous," and unknown scholars who masquerade as "experts." Although Glassner rejects the notion that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, he certainly shows we have much less to fear than we think. And isn't that sort of scary?"

This is America right now, and it's only gotten worse since 9/11. No one has the ability any more to reason whether their fears should dictate what we do. Obama- here for example- is justified because people fear what can happen if he loses. Nevermind, that what they fear could happen- may happen because Obama's judgementhere is wrong. Nevermind the rightness of what they are saying. Freedom from fear by giving up freedom. Security through fear. That's the name of the game.


[ Parent ]
Fear lies at the core of all that is America (4.00 / 1)
You see it literally everywhere, even though it's usually masked. Just like the country itself, Americans are continually trying to carve out little islands of apparant safety out of what to them appears to be a vast and dangerous wilderness. Not just physical safety, but financial, emotional, cultural and social safety. E.g. the biggest prison system in the world, the most money-obsessed country in the world, the most self-help book and seminar-obsessed country in the world, the most fitness and health-obsessed country in the world, the tendency to self-select socially and exclude anyone not enough like you in appearance, income, lifestyle, the extreme disinclination to face opinions that run counter to or challenge your own or simply make you think (because thinking leads to enlightenment, which leads to fear about all those things that you cannot control), the fear of confrontation and unpleasantness (have a nice day!), and now the fear of dark people, whether they're stealing out jobs and resources from Mexico, or plotting to kill us all from the mideast. And so on. Ech.

It helps to be an immigrant, which I am, to better see this, I think. Most of my American friends and acquiantances display a far less curious attitude about the world than my non-American ones, and give off a much higher level of anxiety about things that they don't know about and can't control. They'd rather talk about sports or buying a house or their jobs, than about ideas, politics and the rest of the world. The former are predictable and controllable. The latter less so. It's like, like the original colonists, they fear whatever's OUT THERE, in the vast wilderness that they cannot see, understand or control. Except it's more virtual than physical now. And their way of dealing with it is to either ignore and deny it, or control and if need be just kill it. We have, as a country, society and culture, still not really gotten past our infantile stage, terrified of the real world, and trying desperately to elude, control or destroy those parts of it that we don't understand--or want to understand.

Thus is it with terrorism and the post-9/11 mindset. We just haven't gotten past our fear-reaction phase. And we may never. We're like one big collective neurosis that occasionally breaks out into full-blown psychosis (witch burnings, KKK, McCarthy, Vietnam, Iraq war). And politicians like Obama come along and, instead of trying to move us past this destructive and debilitating fear-avoidance-overreaction cycle, simply seek to exploit it as a friction-free path to power. And right now a bunch of folks over in Obamaland live in mortal fear that our merely discussing this in some obscure blog is going to hand the election to McCain. QED.

It's the fear, stupid (not you).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Obama Was Selling Hope, While Hoarding Fear (0.00 / 0)
He really is very much like a Republican.  What he's pushing--"the audacity of hope"--is the exact opposite of where he's actually coming from, which is cravenness of fear.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
In fairness- I doubt any of the others would be better (0.00 / 0)
This is what America is, and has been for a long time. This fear is the basis of my cynacism. Well,t hat and my creativity too.

[ Parent ]
His gift is making fear, cowardice and caving "cool" (4.00 / 2)
Not just "Kool", as in Kool Aid, but as in hip, the way JFK and to a certain extent even Clinton were "cool". I mean, Lieberman, Pelosi, Reid and Hoyer were no one under the age of 60's idea of cool, but Obama, who is turning out to be their younger and hipper clone, is. And that is one of his gifts. To make the otherwise awful palatable, with palaver about "Yes we can!".

Who needs civil liberties when you've got a rock star as president?!?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Agree 100% (4.00 / 1)
And you should diary that, if you haven't.

As a fellow NY'er (upstate), good on ya.


[ Parent ]
There's A Simple Solution To This (4.00 / 1)
Obama should simply conceded the election right now. That way he won't have to worry about a terrorist attack while he's President.

I mean, if he's going to govern as a Republican anyway, out of fear, why not just let a real Republican do it?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Because he knows that Hillary (4.00 / 1)
would make his life a living hell in the senate if he did.

;-)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Bush screwed up 2 wars (0.00 / 0)
let 9/11 happen on his watch despite many warnings, failed to persue the Cole attackers, or Bin Laden after 9/11, let a city drown, put the economy in the tank, and the country is going to blame Dems for the next attack, if it comes? Well, perhaps, if they fail to do what is necessary to try to prevent it--as opposed to caving on bills that will not and are 100% politically and CYA motivated. Plus, it seems to me that Americans tend to rally around the president and party that is in power when we're attacked. So I just don't agree.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 2)
There are a lot of voters out there who would be very swayed by a series of "Obama wants the terrorists to kill your children" ads.

They're called wingnuts, and none of them were ever going to vote for Obama anyway.

Have you even been following the past few special elections? They totally shred your argument to pieces. Go look them up.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Got any more straw men and fear-based memes? (4.00 / 1)
He will not lose the election over FISA, one way or another. PERIOD. Bill Foster pretty much put that one to rest.

I don't know what a "post-9/11 world" means, except that it's a popular RW meme that's supposed to justify trashing the constitution because 9/11 "changed EVERYTHING". It did not.

What I do know is that when you run from a fight, out of fear or a desire to be an "ober-chochem", you tend to lose it. And perhaps even deservedly.

No, I don't want Obama to lose, and will vote for him. But clearly, he's disappointed a lot of us.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
He's The Uber-Biden (0.00 / 0)
A waffling, albeit educated, non-entity on steroids.

Who owes major debts to his corporate backers.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, at least Biden puts on the illusion of a fight (0.00 / 0)
As anyone who's seen him in committee hearings knows. It doesn't amount to anything and is basically for public consumption. But Obama doesn't even pretend to fight. You want me to cave on what? Sure, no problem, just make that check out to Obama '08! Yes I can!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Sometimes (0.00 / 0)
Other times, not so much.

And sometimes he's fighting against us.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
disapointing (4.00 / 1)
While I didn't expect any real change from Obama, I was hoping he'd use this as an example of people powered politics and agree to the filibuster.

But I was expecting better explanation.  Obama used the same soft language all politicians use.  Check out this:

particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer.

If there was a forum to spell out the details, it was this.  What orders will expire?  Why do we care?  What does the bill do to help?

He barely tries to make the case of why the bill is better than no bill.

The answers aren't much better.  Someone asked

Could the experts please comment on the rumored possibility that when Barack Obama is in office he still might pursue criminal prosecution against the telecommunication companies who revealed our private information at Bush's request...

The answer?

By Danielle Gray   Yesterday at 5:03 pm EDT
Barack is certainly distressed about the Bush Administration's possible infringement on the civil liberties of the American people. He has said repeatedly that we need to find out as much information as possible about the warrantless surveillance program.

While the compromise legislation is far from perfect, Title II will ensure that we will learn more about how the program operated and whether the rights of telecom customers were violated. And once Barack is elected president, he has committed to having his Attorney General conduct a thorough review of the IGs report and make recommendations on how best to proceed.

Question completely ignored, but answered in a way that sort of sounds like the same thing.  Pure, typical, politics.


but he provided an answer and if all you are looking from politics (0.00 / 0)
is to be provided a self help book answer then yes we can and a little attention is enough.

[ Parent ]
We're looking for more than that (0.00 / 0)
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the attention; and it's good that there's a conversation going on.  Kudos to the Obama campaign.  It's not enough -- but it's a start.

[ Parent ]
well but he assumes its enough because up until now it has been (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Personally, I Think It's A Dog-And-Pony Show (0.00 / 0)
But without the pony.

The only way you're going to get Obama to pay attention is to make him hurt. Period.

Sit ins in all his field offices next Monday, for example.  That would be a good start.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Withhold donations (0.00 / 0)
Now they've opted out of campaign financing, they are going to be really relying on those $5 and $10 donations.

The People may still have some leverage.

Occupying offices would just feed the DFH narrative.

Money is what drives politics in this country.


[ Parent ]
Protest fundraisers for FISA supporters (4.00 / 1)
I'd like to see lots of angry Dems showing up at fundraisers for FISA supporters Obama is attending. I mean, the guy wants to act like this is his best choice and his defenders want to act like there is nothing he could do. He could have told each and every one of these losers (cough Rockefeller Tuesday 6pm in Wash DC cough) that he would not help them fund raise if they brought this bill forward. I mean, this guy is supposed to be smart right?

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Hell, all he needed to do was call them out publicly (0.00 / 0)
he's the party leader now.  All he had to do is quietly ask Reid to table this shit.

[ Parent ]
Reading the tea leaves (0.00 / 0)
I predict he appoints a Republican AG. Or at least a Democratic who is up-to-his-ears in telecom money and happy to proceed as planned with the cover-up.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I'm astonished anyone expected anything different (4.00 / 1)
Once Obama changed his position to support the bill without a filibuster, there was simply no way he would change his position again, simply in response to public pressure.  Regardless of the merits, he knows that would make him look weak and indecisive.

I thought all the efforts this weak were good because it might make Obama think twice next time about crossing his progressive supporters. But anyone who thought we were going to get anything more than this public statement was just not being realistic.


So - the question is... (0.00 / 0)
As is clearly pointed out, Obama is saying something to us that is not true.

So the only question is, does he simply not know what the f-ck he's talking about, or is he just lying?

What a choice.


Anyone know a link to the Houls bill (0.00 / 0)


AZ CD1 (0.00 / 0)
I don't know about other Congressional district, but here in AZ CD1, we are being spoon fed a SHITTY BLUEDOG-BUSH DEMOCRAT candidate who is so boring, so conservative, so rebuglican lite that it makes us sick. The AZ Dem Party, the party hacks and the DCCC are pushing a candidate who describes undocumented workers as "terrorists walking across the desert to get in". She talks like a republican, acts like a republican but will tow the party line for our state party so they are very happy with her. It is time for a revolution in our country. It is time to elect candidate who will represent the people, not the party, not the lobby creeps, not the corporate and developers who are behind the big-buck donations. We don't need DCCC's candidate, Ann Kirkpatrick, a racist, a bigot, a conservative gun nut, we need Howard Shanker, a grassroots candidate who will represent US.  http://www.howardshankerforcon...  Vote, back, and support Howard Shanker for Congress in AZ CD1.

Patricia J George

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