Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 9, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

HILLARY AND FISA....Hillary Clinton has finally taken a public stand on the upcoming FISA legislation. Unlike Barack Obama, she's voting against it:

While this legislation does strengthen oversight of the administration's surveillance activities over previous drafts, in many respects, the oversight in the bill continues to come up short. For instance, while the bill nominally calls for increased oversight by the FISA Court, its ability to serve as a meaningful check on the President's power is debatable. The clearest example of this is the limited power given to the FISA Court to review the government's targeting and minimization procedures.

But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct.

Take your pick: (a) Hillary is a hero for taking the right position on this, (b) Hillary is just trying to embarrass Barack Obama and pave the way for her eventual resurrection and another run at the presidency in 2012, or (c) she's triangulating, taking the right stand but only doing it at the last minute when passage of the bill is already assured and her opposition won't matter. I figure it's a combination of (a) and (c), but I betcha there's going to be at least a few people who will darkly intimate that it's (b).

Kevin Drum 5:47 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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Comments

Kevin. You've been throwing red meat at us all day! We're all going to have bloody noses by this evening.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 9, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares about why Hillary voted against it. The critical and appalling thing is that Obama voted for it. I understand politically why he did so (avoiding the "soft on terrorism" charge), but it really was a classic wimp-out.

Posted by: Tom in Houston on July 9, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take (c), she doesn't get (a) unless she lead on the issue, which she didn't.

Posted by: RollaMO on July 9, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going with a dollop of C with a soupcon of A (there'd be more A if there weren't C).

Posted by: shortstop on July 9, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Eh. Neither one of them are heroes on this. They both voted for removing the immunity provision, and he caved and voted for the final bill while she voted against it. Big deal. She took the right stance and on this issue was clearly stronger and better and right where Obama wasn't -- that's not heroism. She wasn't out there fighting this from the start and pushing for filibusters and putting holds on the legislation and constantly articulating against it.

Dodd and Feingold are the heroes on this one.

Posted by: jbryan on July 9, 2008 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Don't really care -- I'll take it.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on July 9, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

It will still be that Hillary's Evil for rubbing his face in it, even while she voted to support the Consitution, the way she always said she would, and he voted not to, while ignoring his promise to filibuster.

She's a monster, after all.

No post about this on the Great Orange Cheetoh yet BTW. Goodness.

Posted by: smott999 on July 9, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie,
Are you going to pretend you don't enjoy it?

Posted by: thersites on July 9, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is not principled, period. She is doing this for political reasons. I think (b) is a bit of a stretch, even for her, but rest assured, it's political.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on July 9, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

There is no political reason for Hillary not to do the right thing here. There are massive political reasons for Obama to do the wrong thing (vote for the bill). Sadly, most people think the FISA bill is simple anti-terrorist legislation, and Obama can't open up a broadside like this.

It's still retarded, though.

Posted by: Ruck on July 9, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is responsible for chemtrails and shadow people too. Also for the end of the Mayan Calendar and the coming global superstorm.

So rest assured, this too is political.

So no, I will not give Clinton credit on her vote because unlike Obamessiah, she did not lead on this issue.

Speaking of her issue, there's a very good chance that Chelsea is the anti-christ.

Sometimes the difference between this blog's commenters and Michael Savage's listeners is pretty thin.

Posted by: jerry on July 9, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

How about d). Hillery said Obama was inexperienced – so she gets the last laugh.

Suck on this unity pal!

It isn’t unity, it’s standing back and laughing and saying – I bet you didn’t see that coming *-hole. And she’s right, She knew that Republicans can cut young Dems right in half anytime some stupid greenhorn got stupid dumb enough to stick his fool *ss of a head in a Elephants mouth.

It’s goes crunch every time.

Hardly knew ya Obama.

Posted by: Me_again on July 9, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a and c along w/a secret glee at sticking it to him after the shit she took for Kyl-Liberman which the Obama team rammed down her throat, lol.

Either way, kudos to her for being on the side of the light.

Posted by: Rhoda on July 9, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

With passage of this piece of shit, I take little solace that both my senators voted against it.

Every year we inch ever closer to becoming a police state. All terror all the time!

Posted by: Jeff II on July 9, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a and c along w/a secret glee at sticking it to him after the shit she took for Kyl-Liberman which the Obama team rammed down her throat, lol.

Either way, kudos to her for being on the side of the light.

As for Obama: I don't think this hurts him at all. Sadly, he's probably on the majority w/FISA and actually voting for it would have put an issue on the table for the Republicans to hammer him as weak on. I think he'd have done better to stand tall; but overall there's no doubt he took a strong issue off the table w/McCain.

Coversely, missing today's Medi-vote after Kennedy makes it is really bad for McCain.

He's the one who has taken the hit, voting record wise, today.

Posted by: Rhoda on July 9, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this will go anywhere:

Greenwald UPDATE: The ACLU announced today that it will challenge this bill in court as soon as it is passed on the ground that its warrantless eavesdropping provisions violate the Fourth Amendment

At least we can see if we have functioning court anymore - instead of a court that follows Republican Party directives.

Hopefully Justice Souter will save the day once more.

Posted by: Me_again on July 9, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

FINALLY? LAST MINUTE? She's been saying for weeks that she opposes telecomm immunity. And you'd know that if you'd made an effort.

Posted by: Melinda on July 9, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hardly knew ya Obama. Posted by: Me_again

The book title was "(Johnny) We Hardly Knew Ye," ya moron.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 9, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ruck has it figured right.

"Sadly, most people think the FISA bill is simple anti-terrorist legislation, and Obama can't open up a broadside like this."

Obama [currently] cannot do anything that can be perceived 'soft on terrorism'. The McCain-swiftboaters would have a field day with it.
"Terrism" is the only wedge McCain has.

Clinton no longer carries that burden. I STRONGLY suspect if she were the presumptive candidate, she would have voted for it too.

Like so many of the problems in this country, it all comes down to the ignorance of the american electorate... and the media that feed that ignorance.

Posted by: Buford on July 9, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Kevin? Combined with the Obama plane story from yesterday (or day before, I forget), this is now twice that you've posited that Hillary foes will be concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories when, in fact, the only person I've seen put forward such theories is you. Maybe you should just wait for this behavior to, you know, actually happen before accusing people of it.

Posted by: Glenn on July 9, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just happy she voted against it. I'm a supporter and fan of Obama but she did the right thing with this bill and should be applauded for it.

Obama deserves the criticism he's gotten here, but it shouldn't change voting behavior in November.

Sujal

Posted by: sujal on July 9, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, a) and c) are both kinda close, but she's neither a hero nor really triangulating in this case: she can afford to do the right thing now that no one's nattering about the 0.01426 percent of the suburban 'security moms' whose votes are absolutely essential to get her into the White House. It's just part of boomer Dems' DNA, I guess (and I include Al Gore in that assessment, as much as I admire him)... what's important is the immediate win, so they can then Do all the Really Important Liberal Things They've Always Wanted To, except it never seems to work out that way due to GOP tactics, the need to win reelection ('just one more set of compromises') and lame-duckness.

FWIW, I'm pretty pissed at Obama too, but I'm also hoping he's gathering some major chits from all those Dems whose asses he covered today, and that he uses them well.

Posted by: latts on July 9, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well the Church Committee ride again? Gosh, what was Bush hiding? I wonder if the RNC ate all the e-mails?

One has to wonder, how "good faith" was the Bushies warrentless wiretapping? Even as we know it was happening before 9/11.

Remember how tricky Dicky wanted the entire senate to take a lie detective test just a couple a months after 9/11 for leaking something that turn out be, in the end, leaked by Cheney himself.

Can't remember but it was not the Plame thing, anyway, If Bush and Cheney can't resign because they have already left office - I guess we can ask for jail time instead of a stupid mere resignation - one can only hope.

Posted by: Me_again on July 9, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

FINALLY? LAST MINUTE? She's been saying for weeks that she opposes telecomm immunity. And you'd know that if you'd made an effort. Posted by: Melinda

While this may be true, did she oppose it before ending her bid for the nomination? That's the real questions, isn't it?

Posted by: Jeff II on July 9, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ha ha, "Jeff II"

I know it hard son, but Obama is toast, get use to it.

Another one of Obama's starry-eyed zombies. Jeebus!

Posted by: Me_again on July 9, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

or (c) she's triangulating, taking the right stand but only doing it at the last minute when passage of the bill is already assured and her opposition won't matter.

I think there's a more precise term than triangulation.

Posted by: B on July 9, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

There is no political reason for Hillary not to do the right thing here. There are massive political reasons for Obama to do the wrong thing (vote for the bill). Sadly, most people think the FISA bill is simple anti-terrorist legislation, and Obama can't open up a broadside like this.

Why would anyone think that it's a political risk to go against an unconstitutional power grab by this administration? Because they're such a model of competence & efficiency, and we don't want to tamper with a good thing? Because they're above things like using federal agencies as an arm of the RNC? Seriously, what in the name of Pete is the political downside of standing up against Mr. 29% & the unitary executive?

Posted by: junebug on July 9, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I was an Obama supporter until his FISA vote today! Now, let's change the rules in Denver, we should open the floor at the convention and have an old fashion get down and get dirty convention floor vote----Obama or Hillary!

Posted by: antiquelt on July 9, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

If Sen. Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee, she would have voted for FISA and Sen. Obama would have voted against it. Democratic presidential candidtates have to bend over backwards to be perceived as strong on national security, and Democrats think the FISA bill is perceived by Americans as having something to do with national security.

Posted by: Brojo on July 9, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is no prize, but I voted for her over Obama (it was a no-brainer IMO) and have no regrets. She's miles better than Obama in every regard and I wish she were the nominee. Since my first presidential vote was cast for McGovern in '72, I have never considered not voting for the Democratic nominee, not even the awful Carter, but I may not this year. No, I won't vote for McCain, I'll just leave it blank. Not only is Obama looking increasingly bad substantively, I detest his obvious smug calculation that voters like me have no where to go. And by the way, Obamabots, I think his triangulation is turning out to be bad politics as well.

I've never like Obama since he started making kissy kissy with the Amy Robinsons of the world a couple of years ago, was appalled when he praised Reagan and Rethug "ideas" this spring, and he gets worse by the day. My next prediction for how he will piss on real Democrats? Although he should be able to make hay (both politically and substantively) on McCain's clear adoption of the wingnut anti-Social Security meme, I predict that Obama will fellate David Broder, the ghost of Tim Russert, and the rest of the Village by annoucning his intention to reach across the aisle to "save" Social Security. In other words, he'll join with the Rethugs, and a few cowed Democrats, to gut the legacy of FDR. He already made some sounds in that direction during the primaries and almost nobody noticed but the prescient Paul Krugman, who was rounded attacked by the koolaid drinkers. It looks like Krugman is as spot on about Obama in 2008 as he was on Bush in 2000.

Posted by: Marlowe on July 9, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

If Sen. Clinton was the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the Democrats would not be using the Broncos' football stadium for her acceptance speech. Obama has let down informed voters, but most voters are not well informed and are still going to vote for him.

Posted by: Brojo on July 9, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Obama sure is doing a good job of taking this out of the headlines...

Iran...Kennedy return....Jackson playing the dozens with him...

I am still upset though....but I give them an A for effort...

Posted by: justmy2 on July 9, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that Clinton will become a more liberal (and therefore better) senator now that she no longer needs to cast every vote with an eye toward how it will play in a future presidential campaign?

Posted by: FearItself on July 9, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

You are probably right. Clinton might well have voted for FISA, as Obama actually did, if she had been the nominee. Equally, he probably would have voted with the President regarding Iraq if he had been in the Senate. He backtracks as easily and often as any other politician.

Posted by: lynn on July 9, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Brojo - if I had wings I'd save a heck of a lot of money on airfare. I'm not sure I see the point of speculating about what might have happened if the universe were a totally different place. We've got what did happen right in front of us.

Posted by: Melinda on July 9, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

And Fear - I'm a Clinton constituent. While I don't agree with everything she's done and I'm not a starry-eyed naif (unlike, say, oh nevermind), I do think she's an excellent senator and a lot further to the left than the fauxgressives seem to believe. Getting hung up on her hawkishness prevents you from seeing the entire picture.

Posted by: Melinda on July 9, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

oh great, so now all of Hillary's bitter, loser, saggy teet-sucking drones are coming back out of the woodwork.

yeah, her and all the Clinton baggage would have done much better against the Republican hit squad--even though she's 99.99% the same on all the issues as Obama, would have voted for this crap bill if she were the nominee(which she isn't and never will be) and would have lost in November while Obama is winning and will win, easily, because he's the better candidate.

Posted by: haha on July 9, 2008 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Come now Jerry, dont you have a shadow?

Posted by: Shadow Person on July 9, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

obama is a pandering jerk - when he was nobody last year, he would make bold statements about not allowing retro telecom immunity.

He is just another lying liar and the public, and especially the blogosphere, has been had.

Obama had an inferior healthcare plan and little or no record on progressive issues - he talks a good game - but it is all hot air.

We need to raise hell at convention and try to find a way to prevent another lying liar from winning the white house - obama stands for nothing other than bush's third term.

If elected - just watch him start gutting Social Security - he is already telling lies that it is in crisis.

Posted by: on July 9, 2008 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Melinda,

I'm not a Clinton hater, but I certainly felt some frustration with her triangulating tendencies even before I had decided who to support in the primary. I'm just thinking that votes like the one she cast in favor of the AUMF were driven largely by concerns about election. They may (may) have actually run counter to her policy instincts.

If that's true, as a senator with a very safe seat, surrounded by a Democratic majority in the Senate and (hopefully) working with a Democratic president, Clinton may feel more free to respond to her instincts. (Spraying "troll-guard": yes, this is entirely speculation, and we'll only know in the coming years how accurate it is; maybe she's just more conservative than I'd like.)

The point is that Clinton could well develop into a more liberal political force in national politics than Obama will be (and a more liberal influence than she would have been as president). Personally, I think that would be a good thing.

Posted by: FearItself on July 9, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe after winning, Obama will surprise us and do the right things. Got another plan?

Posted by: slanted tom on July 9, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

We've got what did happen right in front of us.

That is correct. Sen. Clinton voted for the war in Iraq. Sen. Clinton knowlingly voted to kill all of those Iraqi children.

Posted by: Brojo on July 9, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

if I had wings I'd save a heck of a lot of money on airfare.

Cynthia McKinney looks forward to your vote.

Posted by: Brojo on July 9, 2008 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

This law's patent unconstitutionality is easy for a first-year law student to demonstrate in any court-- save one: the Supreme Court, which has become the last refuge of scoundrels. Sigh.
Obama must resume being authentic very soon; Americans given the choice between a moderate Republican and a conservative one will use lighter skin color in justifying further tyranny.

Posted by: Sparko on July 9, 2008 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

For whatever reason, Hillary did the right thing. Obama didn't. But he hasn't yet sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, so I guess he's off the hook for now.

Posted by: alibubba on July 9, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

How about this theory: Obama is soon to announce Hillary as his Veep candidate. Hillary and Obama are triangulating on this issue - he voted for it to immunize himself against attacks from the right, while Hillary voted against it to throw a sop to the base.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on July 9, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Got another plan?

Yup - VOTE FOR ANYONE BUT OBAMA!!!!

If mccain wins - SO BE IT.

If that is what it takes to get rid of the DINO that currently lead this party and to get the lying liar obama off the stage - I can live with that.

Let the history books record it was the REPUGS that turned America into a facist state - gutting the work of our founding fathers and the US Constitution.

He is a scam and will disappoint you on many MANY more issues - he is just another sold-out politician that will say whatever he needs to say at the moment.

He answers to the same corpocracy as mccain - let a senile dolt be bush's third term and not a dishonest political hack the exploits progressives and liberals for money, and then sells them out for even more from the same corporate interests that dominate republicans.

Posted by: on July 9, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

>"Why would anyone think that it's a political risk to go against an unconstitutional power grab by this administration?"

er.... try this: "Because a large percentage of Americans are afraid, ignorant and incapable of critical thinking" To speak logically and clearly to fearful people is the kiss of doom.

Remember that you're talking about a nation where 43% think it's ok for the state to issue religious-themed license plates. (An obvious constitutional blow-out). You could fill many paragraphs with other off-the-wall stuff espoused by major chunks of the American populace like 'Saddam was a 9-11 plotter' etc...

An ignorant population puts an honest, thoughtful and plain-speaking candidate (like Kucinich) instantly out of the running. Bummer, that.

My hope for Obama is that he has only checked his soul in the cloakroom until election day. Time will tell.

Posted by: Buford on July 9, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

If she were the the nominee she'd vote for it ... if Obama weren't he'd likely be standing with Feingold.

She hasn't spoken about obliterating Iran lately...
That she didn't come out publicly against this really implies "c"

Posted by: jackifus on July 9, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why do people use the word "trianglating" only when referring to the Clintons? EVERY politican "triangulates". She's no more calculating than anyone else.

Posted by: captcrisis on July 9, 2008 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Why any U.S. Senator, who has read the Constitution, would vote for this abomination is a great mystery. We have fallen so far as a nation - we have truly lost our way....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 9, 2008 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why do people use the word "trianglating" only when referring to the Clintons? EVERY politican "triangulates". She's no more calculating than anyone else.

ZOMG Wombats! That just proves how deep under her spell they've got you!

Posted by: jerry (who casts no shadows) on July 9, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

a large percentage of Americans are afraid, ignorant and incapable of critical thinking" To speak logically and clearly to fearful people is the kiss of doom.

No, it's the mark of leadership and it's the duty any President owes the country.

It is however, the mark of cynicism and elitism to wander through life insisting "I know more than those rubes." Reminds me of something Colonel Jessep once told me, I'd like to tell it to you, it goes a little something like this:

"Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."

Now, I don't like Colonel Jessep's world, and when people told me throughout the campaign that Barack couldn't tell the people the truth, I told them I understood how they felt that was so, but I couldn't get behind him.

And so now, I am forced to do so very reluctantly.

The rest of you, well, happy endings only happen in the movies like a Few Good Men, so you'll probably end up with the Colonel Jessep you seek.

Posted by: jerry on July 9, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

I see the Repug trolls are out tonight. But just because they are trolls does not make them wrong.

If Clinton had said early on in the campaign that she was wrong to vote for the Iraq War (and let's not pretend that the vote was anything other than a vote for war) then she might have won the nomination.

But here is something else: had Clinton, weeks ago, admitted that she should have admitted her mistake, and admitted that it cost her the nomination, then I would be in favor of lobbying the superdelegates to switch their preference from Obama to Clinton now.

Obama does not have the nomination -- he won't have that until the delegates actually vote in Denver. Too bad Democrats have proved time and time againt that they are wimps.

Because if they were not wimps, they would dump Obama NOW.

Obama does not deserve this nomination. Period.

America needs an end to the nightmare of the past eight years. I fear Obama as much as I feared Bush. Both will do anything to win the White House -- neither have even the slightest moral character needed to be President.

Obama can take his pro-gun, pro-death penalty, pro-wiretapping ass over to the Republican Party where he can join his friend Joe Lieberman. (And don't think for a moment that Obama takes Lieberman's recent comments personally. Both of them know that this isn't about ideas, morals or values -- its just politics.)

Posted by: Dicksknee on July 9, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is the "change candidate."

So why is it that the more things "change," the more they seem to stay the same?

Not your father's Democrat (or your mother's). Just the Gen "Why" candidate reinventing the wheel.
MOTS What a load of crap he sold and we bought.

Posted by: GatorAide on July 9, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Obama can take...

When Obama disavowed his association with Rev. Wright, my hope for a progressive, liberal president diminished. What took everyone else so long to become disillusioned because of his moderate conservative potential?

Nevertheless, the pain of a McCain presidency, regardless of how much Americans deserve it, would be too painful for the rest of the world to endure. And Obama is a much better candidate than Clinton.

Posted by: Brojo on July 10, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Will somebody remind me of why I am a Democrat?

Stated otherwise, consider a parallel universe in which the Republicans held control of Congress in 2006. How would things be different?

Zak Space is my congressman. He voted for FISA. I'm voting against him. That means a Republican. I don't care.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on July 10, 2008 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Russ Feingold is a dildohead.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 10, 2008 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

There is no difference between a democrat and a republican. Just as there is no difference between Coke and Pepsi. You all live in an illusion thinking there are "great differences".

Posted by: ixxa on July 10, 2008 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Zak Space is my congressman. He voted for FISA. I'm voting against him. That means a Republican. I don't care."

Vote write-in, and make the vote for somebody who makes it obvious. A vote for the R sends no message that they can hear.

Write-ins aren't much, but they can count. Even a no vote for that office (if there are a greater than usual number) sends a message that they can actually read.

Posted by: drinkof on July 10, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I was optimistic about Obama up until this FISA capitulation. Now it's clear we're in the same situation as every other election (lesser of two evils), and I'm really at a loss.
A coworker is trying to convince me that no matter how bad Obama's FISA vote was, nothing would be worse than a McCain presidency. I'm not so sure. If Bush's eight years of destruction didn't wake our country up, maybe we NEED eight more years. And if that doesn't wake us up and force some change, then maybe we deserve to plummet head-first off the cliff.
I don't think I can vote for Obama after this capitulation. And I think that NOT voting for him may be the best thing I can do for the republic, regardless of what it means in this election.

P.S. Can anyone tell me why, after many months of stalling, this bill became a pressing issue RIGHT NOW? Why not just push it off until after Nov? How did the House and Senate manage to agree on this legislation so quickly? What's the real motivation? Telecom campaign money?

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on July 10, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I vote for A plus C, with a iittle B for fun. Who cares if she wants to embarrass him? He should be embarrassed. Hillary is a cool, tough old broad and she will be doing some good work in the coming years. As for Obama, he will be doing some good work for Obama.

Posted by: WB on July 10, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I vote for A plus C, with a iittle B for fun. Who cares if she wants to embarrass him? He should be embarrassed. Hillary is a cool, tough old broad and she will be doing some good work in the coming years. As for Obama, he will be doing some good work for Obama.

Posted by: WB on July 10, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Russ Feingold is a dildohead.

This is more of that famous Socratic Method in action. Makes me proud to be a Classical Greek.

Posted by: pythagorean barfly on July 10, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, both HRC and Obama voted "yes" on the Dodd Amendment -- the critical piece which would have bagged retroactive immunity entirely.

Give Barack a break here. Yes the new FISA is an abomination, but he could have done nothing to prevent its passage and, had he tried, would have been promptly sandbagged by the fear-mongers on the right.

Keep November in mind, please!

Posted by: jwinct on July 10, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

"When Obama disavowed his association with Rev. Wright, my hope for a progressive, liberal president diminished."

Brojo,

Yes, Obama's Wright disavowal was indeed a disappointment and a warning signal. I'm glad to hear that your hope for a progressive president was just 'diminished' and not totally lost. I'm in the same boat, hoping against hope that Obama is playing to win because the stakes are so high at this moment that he's willing to sacrifice some personal integrity in the effort. But in truth that scenario doesn't wash with me. I'm beginning to see Obama more as a populist than a progressive. That isn't bad. Obama did support Feingold's amendment to exclude telecom immunity from the bill so his vote for the bill wasn't without certain reservations. I think we're going to be very happy with some of Obama's decisions and not so happy with others. If Obama's projection of a 90/10 split (on agreement with him) turns out to be correct, we'll be OK.

Posted by: nepeta on July 10, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

(b) and (c)
Only Dodd and Feingold are heroes and deserve an (a).
As for Obama, my car bumper sticker that says Obama '08 no longer rates being displayed.

Posted by: bushworstpresidentever on July 10, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

jwinct,

Thanks for correcting me even before I had commented! Dodd's amendment, not Feingold's.

Posted by: nepeta on July 10, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'll go with equal parts (b) and (c). Such fun.

Posted by: Brian on July 10, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm voting against him

Voting Republican is like voting for Nazis and an approval for the killing that W. Bush has done. Voting for a third party candidate, if one cannot vote for the lesser evil, would seem to be a better choice.

Obama must not think he can win the presidential election confronting the horrible policies of the W. Bush regime. He is falling into the Gore/Kerry milquetoast trap, pandering to the hysterical fears of the minority rather than standing up and making strong arguments for the correct policies. Sen. Clinton no longer has to pander to that faction. Had Obama voted no on FISA he would have to spend time explaining constitutional rights and what they mean. I would prefer he do that, but many Americans would tune him out as weak on terrorism, buying into that mass media theme without any critical thinking about the issue.

Posted by: Brojo on July 10, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

If Bush's eight years of destruction didn't wake our country up, maybe we NEED eight more years. And if that doesn't wake us up and force some change, then maybe we deserve to plummet head-first off the cliff.

I find this increasingly common sentiment bewildering. I wonder if its espousers ever stop to think that the plummeting will come much sooner for others than it will for the speaker. There are millions living on the very edge, in total desperation, who will lose immediately and devastatingly if another Republican is elected. There are thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of others who will die if another Republican is elected. There are millions upon millions who won't get medical care and will needlessly die early deaths. There are thousands more who will lose everything they have trying to pay for that health care. There are tens of millions who will go without education, job training and other vital services. That's just the beginning.

In short, do you know what you're saying? You're not going to be around for the supposed rebirth of our society, you know, or did you think that would happen in a 10-year cycle? And if you do realize what you're promoting, and you're still ready to jump into the fire, could you indulge your suicidal impulses without insisting on taking everyone with you?

We don't have to trust these guys. We don't even have to be hopeful. But we do have to keep trying.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Once Germany and Japan became militant warring camps, there was only one way to end their aggression, and that was with unconditional surrender. Both nations suffered greatly in their defeat, but did not suffer nearly as badly as their victims. However, if they had been allowed to negotiate a surrender and continue to use the ideologies and leadership that led to their militancy, they would not have become the passive, social liberal democracies they are today. The Ukranians, Chinese, etc., who were the victims of Germany's and Japan's aggression, could probably care less about the good fortune of the Krauts and Japs, though, but had they not been passified, their victims of WW II would still have to live in fear of them today.

The US has become like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, wrecking destruction all around the globe with its almost invincible military might. Without a total defeat of the militant ideology that guides US policy, the rest of the world will not be rid of it, which creates a dilemma for the voters who percieve the issue in this way.

If McCain is elected president, probably not only millions of foreingers will be killed, but millions of Americans will die untimely deaths as well. Lack of health care and diminshing living standards will take a heavy toll on the bottom fifty percent of Americans, whether they deserve it or not, if McCain becomes president, but at least it will be self-inflicted and, some would hope, will lead to a radical change to US foreign and domestic policies. It is the rest of the world that will not deserve the suffering of a McCain presidency. The problem is if the suffering is mitigated with an Obma presidency, the fundamental reasons for the worldwide suffering the US creates will not be extinguished and will sooner or later rise once again to put the world in a rage of mass murder.

It is not a convincing argument to expect the imperial policies of today to lead to their defeat and open the way to a better world, epsecially when the accounting of probable deaths is so horrifying. Historically, the US will not be able to change its militant aggressive course unless it fails spectacularly, which means lots of suffering both domestic and abroad. Without such a failure, the policies will continue, even with Obama as president.

I am choosing to vote for Obama despite my understanding of the need for failure. The pain of another Republican president is not only too great for me as an American to bear, but the pain the rest of the world would have to bear would be far greater. The audacity of hope, in this case, is that history will be wrong when it comes to our city on the hill. For the sake of our future victims, I hope so.

Posted by: Brojo on drugs! on July 10, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK
but I betcha there's going to be at least a few people who will darkly intimate that it's (b).

Why do you keep interjecting this pettiness into your posts? There has been enough conflict and discord in this race without you continuing to stir it up or (in this case) manufacture it.

I'm sure there's also a subset of people who think the Clintons are evil alien overlords from another galaxy. But why address? Given that you haven't cited anyone actually making the "(b)" argument, it really does look like this is a continuation of your same old passive-aggressive hang-up.

Please stop. It diminishes the quality of your otherwise excellent blogging.

Posted by: Augustus on July 10, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Or d, she thinks the bill stinks, as do I.

Posted by: rbe1 on July 10, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

@shortstop:
I think you're misunderstanding me, and perhaps the situation as well.
The system is already fundamentally unhealthy for millions of Americans and millions upon millions of others worldwide. While McCain might make that incrementally worse, and Obama slightly less so, neither one is fundamentally changing what's wrong. In fact, one of those two voted to enable an overreaching executive by updating a (previously ignored) law, weakening the oversight, and granting immunity to lawbreakers. How does that strengthen ANYTHING? And please, don't explain horse trading to me; that's just an excuse to FAIL to do what's right.
I'm not advocating suicidal tendencies. I'm just pointing out that if we think it's okay when Senators to fail to uphold the Constitution (for whatever reason) then we as a nation have not yet had our moment of clarity, as it were.
With one vote, Obama stopped representing real change. He now represents a different flavor of the SOS.
For the record, I'm not "taking anyone else with me." It's my vote alone, and it will go to a candidate who doesn't compromise on issues like FISA. Don't push the guilt of suffering-which-could-have-been-averted onto me, just because I'm voting differently from you.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on July 10, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

We're not going to agree, Govt, so let me make two quick points and I'll let it rest:

You're not going to get any "horse trading" rationalizations for Obama's FISA atrocity from me, nor have my posts provided any reason for anyone to expect such an argument from this corner. Indeed, the "with one vote" comment reveals that you attributed to Obama qualities than I've never assigned to him or any other major candidate, so if one of us is guilty of naively putting too much trust in the nominee and of misjudging the state of the current system, it isn't I.

"Increments" mean a great deal to people who have very little, who are teetering on the brink and whose very ability to keep living will depend on who gets elected this fall. That isn't melodrama; that's cold fact. I'm not asking you to feel guilty. I'm asking you to consider this from the perspective of those people, not only from your own. You'll probably still do the same thing. But do it in full knowledge of what "we deserve to plummet headfirst off the cliff" means in real terms to people who don't have any sort of safety net.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

It's "b" and "c".

Posted by: James on July 10, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Give Barack a break here....Keep November in mind, please!

Posted by: jwinct on July 10, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I know your concern is sincere, but I don't think you need to worry yourself too awfully much about people here giving Barack a break. As most of the comments above show, the overwhelming opinion at the good old Political Animal is that when Barry votes all wrong, he's still all right. And of course, when Hills votes right, it's politics and triangulation.

Posted by: Pat on July 10, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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