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Feingold on FISA

While I share Senator Feingold's concern on the FISA bill , his argument that voting for Barack Obama is the solution to our loss of liberty was difficult to listen to. There are reasons to vote for Obama but protecting our civil liberties is not one of them.

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Comments

Norm, I've been reading your blog for years and never commented, but because of your recent Obama commentary, I now have to speak up.

Politicians, especially Democrats, have to pander a little in order to get elected. What is so hard to understand about this? It's simply how the game works. If he stuck to his guns 100%, he would run the risk of losing the election.

He must pander to independents, and he must pander to Hillary supporters. THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS. He's still a thousand times better than John McCain, and that is the bottom line.

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You don't honestly think McBush would be a better choice for protecting civil liberties, do you?

You don't honestly think McBush would be a better choice for protecting civil liberties, do you?

Why would you even ask the question? Nothing I've ever said or posted would give anyone a reason to believe that I think McCain is better on civil liberties.

The Slate article was, I thought at first, a little over the top. (I do not think, for instance, the Constitution guarentees an 'individual right to bear arms', when they are not in a militia; but the other interpretation is possible, and not "to the right of the Constitution"). But usually there was more careful qualification of the statements that struck me as more extreme. I think the authors nail it on why Obama should have taken McCain relentlessly to task for his breathtakingly ignorant remark about the court's upholding habeas corpus as being among 'the worse decisions in the history of this country'.

And Obama should welcome this debate; it's one he should win hands down, but he won't be able to capitalize on his strengths unless he can change the way progressive candidates talk about judging and the Supreme Court.

Exactly. Liberals just sit there and let themselves be smeared with vague and omnious talk about "legislating from the bench" and "strictly interpreting the Constitution", when usually these are the wackos who want try to legislate their own agenda all the time--on religion, on abortion, on civil rights and discrimination, and much else. Yet another way in which liberal simply let the rhetorical terms of the debate be couched in terms utterly unfavorable to their own position.

So much for his promise of filibustering the bill if telecom immunity was not removed. Wish I could take back my $50 and give it to the ACLU or EFF.

Uhh, how can Feingold sit there and expect anyone to believe that the people who JUST voted for this would be the ones we should trust to stop it? Honestly?

And how could he be supporting Obama, after he just betrayed the constitution? One more than just this issue, no less.

I really think that Clinton would have been better, honestly, this is just sad...I actually never supported her either, but at this point, it seems that she was the right choice all along.

My understanding was that Feingold did, in fact, filibuster it. Wikipedia agrees:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FISAAmendmentsActof2008

I think Feingold twice gives a "tell" in the interview that he "has a good feeling" that the situation will be rectified next year (i.e., this was purely a strategic vote by Obama). In such a lopsided vote, Obama would have paid a steep price to vote "no", get the same result, and give McNut a great "you're siding with the terrorists" point.

I think Feingold would have had little problem taking Obama to task if there hadn't been some quiet assurances.

After watching the Feingold interview all I could think was "you're throwing a crap shot based on polls in July!" Yeah, Obama's ahead by a pretty significant margin at the moment, but most Americans still haven't been paying that much attention to the elections. Those numbers are going to drop quiet a bit once September and October roll around, and there's a good chance that Obama wont make it into office. This bill gives way too much power to whoever is going to be POTUS, and there's a good chance that the guy the dems don't want to have that power will. I just don't understand making this vote at this moment considering what's at stake.

After watching the Feingold interview all I could think was "you're throwing a crap shot based on polls in July!" Yeah, Obama's ahead by a pretty significant margin at the moment, but most Americans still haven't been paying that much attention to the elections. Those numbers are going to drop quiet a bit once September and October roll around, and there's a good chance that Obama wont make it into office. This bill gives way too much power to whoever is going to be POTUS, and there's a good chance that the guy the dems don't want to have that power will. I just don't understand making this vote at this moment considering what's at stake.

Sorry about the double post!

Ditto, Adam and Smash.

I really question whether Hillary would have voted differently. She's consistently been on the wrong side of every other national security-related vote up to this point, and she finally voted the "right" way yesterday when it didn't cost her anything. I notice that despite this vote, she didn't pull any strings at all to help out Dodd and Feingold here. We have no indication that she talked to Obama about this, either.

This is the one damned issue that Obama could have stayed firm on and it would have hurt him not one iota. He could have used his pull to get other Dems on board to at least recess without voting on it, or something else. Ditto Reid, ditto Pelosi, etc. etc.

My own sense is that there is much more behind this FISA thing than Obama's "move to the center" and the Dems worried about getting hit on this in November. This whole thing stinks.

Obama: I'm going to use your tax dollars to pay for religious propaganda!

Chorus: Thank you sir, may I have another?

Obama: FISA ain't so bad. You'll get used to it.

Chorus: Thank you sir, may I have another?

Obama: Thanks for your donations. Oh, did I mention? I'm using that money to repay Hillary Clinton's campaign debt.

Chorus: Thank you sir, may I have another?

Zap Co.: Pitchforks! Torches! I've got all the angry mob gear you need at the low low prices you want!

Chorus: Booo! Booo! Go away, you McCain lover!!

Zap Co.: Er, I've been fighting McCain since the primary, while fighting for Ron Paul.

Chorus: A-ha! We knew you were racist! Go away, racist McCain lover!

Zap Co.: Nigga please.

Here are a couple of links from Cenk of the Young Turks, which I think outlines the position fairly well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0FjjNMqcX0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4kAl0yGT1Y

Maybe Obama does need to pander to get elected. But does he need to actually sell out civil liberties in the process?

My thoughts on Hilary are that on votes like this in the past she would have played politics. She would have aimed for the center and tried to seem tough on terror. I don't think she needs to anymore. She came out of the Primary looking tougher then McCain in my opinion and she became a stronger candidate in the end by finding her own voice. She can't rally support against Obama on this because she will be 'tearing the party apart'.

I also believe that Obama's message was at its strongest when he was above 'playing politics' even when he wasn't really. The appearance was important. His pragmatic, intelligent approach and visionary style of speaking played to his strengths. Now he not only looks weak, he looks every bit a part of the establishment. He has lost his message for the sake of trying to win votes on the right.

There are far better issues to pander with then the fourth amendment. Even just from a strategic perspective.

He's still a thousand times better than John McCain, and that is the bottom line.

Keep telling yourself that. Obama is McCain, just in a more media-friendly package.

she became a stronger candidate in the end by finding her own voice

It amazes me how people can convince themselves of this stuff - like Clinton voting against this now isn't political maneuvering. It's like the people who really believe Gore 'found his voice' after losing his presidential bid. I'm sure his newfound enthusiasm for the Global Warming hysteria has nothing to do with the $250K-per-engagement speeches and rock star lifestyle.

Clinton voted against this because her vote is meaningless and only benefits her. Obama would have done the same thing if he hadn't received the nomination. It allows them to pretend they don't believe this stuff is necessary to protect the country, when in reality they do believe that.

And - here's a stunning question - what if they're right? Put aside the ideology, put aside the tiresome idealism, and consider that. What if some reinterpretation of 'civil liberties' is necessary to fight the war on terrorism? You know, like how we accept limits on our 'civil liberties' to fight 'hate crimes' (speech/writing laws), or to lessen traffic deaths (seatbelt and hands-free phone laws), or to reduce cancer deaths (anti-smoking laws), and so on?

I should have said played safer politics.I agree with you calligraph actually. In all likelihood it is political maneuvering. Which I do not mind in itself. However, I do not see her making this move two years ago. She has more political capital and I am sure that for her own career as a politician she thinks it is better to fight then capitulate to the republicans to seem 'tough'. I agree, though it does not seem enough democrats do.

About Gore, I actually think he gained more presence after the loss. It wasn't global warming either. If you saw his endorsement of Dean, he looked angry. Gore is far more confident now then he was running for office. I think it has more to do with watching the four years after he conceded that did it rather then global warming. Though I am sure the reception of that also gave him more confidence.

Norm, I’m as upset about this FISA bill as you are but you’re looking for a Democratic presidential candidate whose going to be left of Feingold? And have a chance of winning? Good luck. I’ll take Feingold at his word. Perhaps when Obama is POTUS he’ll make your guy, John Edwards, Attorney General and go after the telecom companies. I think Smash is correct, it felt to me like Feingold had been assured that President Obama would be in a better position to take care of this.

How many of you, that are really angry that these telecom companies have, for now, escaped punishment, are going to continue to pay them each month? I am taking action and dropping Verizon for Credo. Check them out. They are a division of the progressive Working Assets and Credo donates 1% of their profits to progressive causes. Has anyone else switched to Credo? http://www.credomobile.com/

Keep telling yourself that. Gore is Bush, just in a more media-friendly package.

Remind you of anything?

calligraph, since you seem to have put your last questions in an almost non-hostile manner let me give a reasonably non-hostile response.

It allows them to pretend they don't believe this stuff is necessary to protect the country, when in reality they do believe that.

If I believed that, then I'd actually be less pissed off than I am. But, I think they did it because they believe it is necessary to protect themselves politically against the kind of unprincipled charge you and the most of GOP routinely level at Democrats: soft on terrorists {replaces Communists], anti-Military, blah, blah, blah,...

...what if they're right? Put aside the ideology, put aside the tiresome idealism, and consider that. What if some reinterpretation of 'civil liberties' is necessary to fight the war on terrorism? You know, like how we accept limits on our 'civil liberties' to fight 'hate crimes' (speech/writing laws), or to lessen traffic deaths (seatbelt and hands-free phone laws), or to reduce cancer deaths (anti-smoking laws), and so on?

If we are going to do that, I don't accept for a minute that we should, then we should amend the Constitution - not disregard it. And as far as immunity is concerned, if we are going to decide that Bush and other members of his government should be given a pass for breaking the law, then we should know just what laws he broke and extend our forgiveness openly - like in a real democracy.

As to the substance of your suggestion, no thanks. In my opinion, the threat posed by terrorism is not as bad as the threat posed by constructing the apparatus of a police state - and the potential for the politicization of just about every function of government is well illustrated by the behavior of the Bush administration. I'm sure you'll view this as unrealistic idealism/alarmism - but there is no reason to expect the United States is any more immune to the possibility of political repression by an overly powerful government than any other country in history. Incidentally, while individuals may vary in their feeling about seatbelt and hands-free phone laws, or anti-smoking laws - there seems to me to be very little potential that such laws can be used by the state to engage in political repression. As for speech/writing laws - I'm pretty leery of them too.

i might find this compelling

What if some reinterpretation of 'civil liberties' is necessary to fight the war on terrorism?

if i hadn't been pursuaded long ago by polemecists claiming that making a war against a tactic is impossible. wake me up when they start calling it the "war on seeing others lives as less valuable than your own" or the "war against taking your religion too damn seriously" or the "war against muslims who want us to convert or die" or something.

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