Balkinization  

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Obama Kinda Likes the FISA Bill (But He Won't Come Out and Say It)

JB

Emily Bazelon wonders, entirely correctly, why Barack Obama has been missing in action on the FISA compromise bill passed by the House today. Finally, the Obama campaign sent a lukewarm endorsement of the measure: As to the key reforms of FISA, the bill is an acceptable compromise, not perfect but the best one can do under the situation. As to the retroactive immunity for telecom companies, Obama says he will work to change that in the Senate.

What gives? Why did Obama stay silent for so long, and why did he finally offer such a muted response to the bill?

The answer is simple:

Barrack Obama plans to be the next President of the United States. Once he becomes President, he will be in the same position as George W. Bush: he wants all the power he needs to protect the country. Moreover, he will be the beneficiary of a Democratic-controlled Congress, and he wants to get some important legislation passed in his first two years in office.

Given these facts, why in the world would Obama oppose the current FISA compromise bill? If it's done on Bush's watch, he doesn't have to worry about wasting political capital on it in the next year. Perhaps it gives a bit too much power to the executive. But he plans to be the executive, and he can institute internal checks within the Executive Branch that can keep it from violating civil liberties as he understands them. And not to put too fine a point on it, once he becomes president, he will likely see civil liberties issues from a different perspective anyway.

So, in short, from Obama's perspective, what's not to like?

Most Americans don't realize that the FISA compromise comes in two parts. The first part greatly alters FISA by expanding the executive's ability to wiretap and engage in much broader searches of communications than were permissible under the law before. It essentially gives congressional blessing to some but not all of what the executive was doing under President Bush. President Obama will like having Congress authorize these new powers. He'll like it just fine. People aren't paying as much attention to this part of the bill. But they should, because it will define the law of surveillance going forward. It is where your civil liberties will be defined for the next decade.

Part II, by contrast, is the part that everyone has gotten up in arms about. It creates effective immunity for telecom companies. It makes perfect sense for Obama to criticize this part of the bill. That's because he doesn't need it as much as he needs the first part, and his base really really dislikes it. True, it might be nice to have retroactive immunity for the players who he will be working with in the future. But remember, he expects to be President, and he figures that his OLC and Justice Department can offer sufficient assurances of legality going forward based on the changes in the first part of the bill.

So, let's sum up: Congress gives the President new powers that Obama can use. Great. (This is change we can believe in). Obama doesn't have to expend any political capital to get these new powers. Also great. Finally, Obama can score points with his base by criticizing the retroactive immunity provisions, which is less important to him going forward than the new powers. Just dandy.

It should now be clear why the Obama campaign has taken the position it has taken. And given what I have just said, Obama's supporters should be pressing him less on the immunity provisions and more on the first part of the bill which completely rewrites FISA. Because, if he becomes president, he'll be the one applying and enforcing its provisions.

If you really care about civil liberties in the National Surveillance State, you have to recognize that both parties will be constructing its institutions. The next President will be a major player in its construction, as important if not more important than George W. Bush ever was. That President will want more authority to engage in surveillance, and he'll be delighted for Congress to give it to him officially.

Comments:

One additional point you might want to consider. Obama may theoretically support holding telecoms accountable for past illegality. But if this was a really important consideration to him, he would presumably be even more strongly in favor of holding Bush Administration officials accountable for such illegality. Given that he has not, as far as I know, made any suggestion that he would investigate or prosecute Bush Administration officials for the various misdeeds (real or imagined) identified by the bloggers on this site, Obama's position on telcom immunity should hardly be a surprise.
 

I'm not sure I buy this analysis. Why would Obama want these additional powers in the first place? It kind of presumes that he's a power hungry dictator wannabe. As a candidate for President, he certainly has an ego a mile wide, but there is little about him that would suggest that he craves expanded powers to spy on Americans.

Additionally, I don't buy that he would have such a simplistic belief that he could score points with the base by "opposing" retroactive immunity while allowing it to pass. This issue is too important, and the Democratic base (certainly the bloggy base) is too sophisticated and too angry about this issue. As we speak, the disappointment and sense of betrayal is pervasive in the blogosphere. If Obama really thought he could win accolades by acting this way, then he isn't nearly as smart as I gave him credit for.

On the other hand, I have no alternative theory why Obama is supporting this legislation in any form. As a political matter, it's a lose-lose proposition. He gets blamed for a late, tepid response, and even if immunity ultimately gets stripped from the Senate version, he will not be perceived as the forceful leader he has claimed so convincingly to be.
 

"Why would Obama want these additional powers in the first place? It kind of presumes that he's a power hungry dictator wannabe."

Nobody runs for President who's not power hungry. They may want to use that power for good, they may be absolutely resolute in their determination not to abuse that power, (As their evolving definition of "abuse" has it.) but they want that power.

As the saying has it, "He meant to rule well, but he meant to RULE."
 

I don't often agree with Brett, but this time I think he is spot-on. People who are warped enough to actually want to be President are the last people we should trust with unchecked executive power.
 

One big reason why Prof. Balkin is dead wrong and we should care about the telecom immunity section is that those suits provide the only way we will ever know what the Bush Administration actually did.

I suspect-- and I would imagine other liberals also suspect-- that if discovery is ever conducted, it will show that the Bush Administration grossly abused its surveillance powers and deliberately violated the law to spy on people they shouldn't have been spying on, or simply engaged in blunderbuss surveillance of all or many Americans.

If telecom immunity is enacted, we never find out.
 

The desire to rule and the desire to spy on Americans are two different things. If it is really the case that Obama wants the power to spy as well as the power to rule, then he is no better than Nixon.

Say what you will, but not everyone who has run for President was on the same level as Nixon.
 

Obama may rationalize his support of this FISA law, saying HE"LL use the powere for GOOD not evil. Huh.
 

I agree that Part I is more important. The analysis comes down to trust and mistrust; and sunk vs. "costs" going forward.
.
Regardless of the extent of snooping in the past, that infraction is "sunk." It's done. It's certainly done as of Jan 2009. We don't know if the the snooping was unreasonably broad, or if it was strictly and reasonably targeted, even if technically outside the statutory law. If you don't trust GWB, you assume it's overbroad. If you do trust him, it wasn't overbroad.
.
But either way, finding out for sure doesn't determine the snooping policy going forward. After President Bush is gone, that same "trust" calculus shifts from GWB to the new occupant.
.
Not to say that Part II is unimportant, but I see that more as a reflection of the bankruptcy of the Congress as it formulates laws that purport to protect privacy interests, only to "pull the ball away" if and when the public attempts to use the law.
 

-- I would imagine other liberals also suspect-- that if discovery is ever conducted, it will show that the Bush Administration grossly abused its surveillance powers --
.
With the caveat that what constitutes "gross abuse" is in the eye of the beholder, put me in the pile of conservatives who suspects that the government is engaged in MUCH more non-targeted surveillance and analysis than it's willing to admit to the public. We ARE being monitored. The government does NOT trust the public.
 

I think that what it boils down to is that the Democratic AND Republican Congressional leaderships were perfectly aware of this program, and had signed off on it, and Bush can probably prove it, if pushed to the wall. So they can't afford the lawsuits to reach the discovery stage.

There's never accountability when the complicity is bipartisan.
 

Obama is now the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party. His strikingly mild opposition to telecom immunity (Part II) is as disturbing a signal as his support for the prospective FISA amendments (Part I).

The immunity will be a congressional pardon for most of the telecoms, one of the largest, most powerful business sectors in America. There could scarcely be a better demonstration that “equal justice under law” as carved on the Supreme Court building is getting closer to a relic of our past. Approving this immunity will be as though Watergate not only ended with Congress exonerating everyone from Nixon to the burglars, but that the Senate Watergate Committee decided not to bother examining any evidence of government-directed lawlesssness.

Regardless of the Democratic congressional leadership's reason for agreeing to the immunity provision, why would Obama throw away such an obvious opportunity to send a message to the whole country that the Bush Administration’s contempt for the rule of law has reached its limit and that the Democrats, led by Obama, have already begun to return our country to its constitutional foundation? I can only conclude that the Democratic congressional leadership is so afraid of might result from the telecom lawsuits going forward -- such as exposure of their long-standing knowledge and acquiescence in the widespread warrantless domestic spying, as suggested by Jonathan Turley on last night’s Countdown on MSNBC -- that they threatened Obama with something he couldn’t bear. Pity.
 

I suppose that's a reasonable explanation if you start from the invincible premise that Obama is a good guy. Ocam's razor suggests that he's just a typical power hungry sociopath who talks a good line.
 

"Regardless of the extent of snooping in the past, that infraction is "sunk." It's done. It's certainly done as of Jan 2009. We don't know if the the snooping was unreasonably broad, or if it was strictly and reasonably targeted, even if technically outside the statutory law. If you don't trust GWB, you assume it's overbroad. If you do trust him, it wasn't overbroad."

You're missing the point. If the entire criminal program is ever made public there will be such a huge scandal that there will be considerable pressure to revoke the entire law.

That's what Obama and the Democrats don't want. They want to sweep this all under the rug, because:

#1 They are nearly all implicated. Bush wasn't eager to let them in on what he was doing but some of the insisted on being briefed. Rather like some Senators begged Bush to let them vote for his war, and he reluctantly agreed -- with the proviso that he thinks he can take the nation to war WITHOUT their consent and they can't do anything about it. As long as that's clear, fine.

#2 Obama going forward must want these powers for some reason or feel they could be convenient, whereas if the program were all made public Congress might revoke the law.

If everything came out, people would realize that tens of millions of people were swept up in these programs and that the government was probably spying extensively on the anti-war movement protesters prior to the war, as well as labor, church, and other leaders.

In fact, given the chicken-without-a-head panic that the Bush administration and Congress were in after 9-11, and the mode of similar panic in the country as a whole, I would be surprised to learn that the military wasn't planning to round up everybody targeted by their surveillance list once Bush declared a "state of emergency."

In today's climate most of them probably think that response was "a tad over the top" and are a bit embarrassed about it and don't want it revealed.
 

So, assuming you're right... At what point do you think that the Republicans in Congress are going to wake up in a cold sweat about the vast surveillance powers they've just handed to a liberal black Democratic president? Or do they just think they'll con the Democrats into "fixing" all this again after the election?
 

Mr. Obama has not demonstrated that he has thought deeply at all about foreign policy, nevertheless about the tools required to exercised that policy.

This is a political move.

Obama is supporting FISA reform for the same reasons the Blue Dog Dems are doing so - to attract the center-right Reagan Dem voters this fall.
 

I don't care if it's Bush or Obama who has the power, the point is that no one should have it. Almost any system can theoretically work if you have good people in it, but you can never count on having good people in there all the time. This is one reason the Founders put together the kind of government it did.

But once you start vesting the President with the power to determine what is and is not legal, all that goes out the window. It's not the specifics of this compromise that concern me, it's the precedent it sets: suppose Bush tells Blackwater to break into a few homes and physically intimidate a few political opponents. Using this compromise as a model, it would be perfectly legal as long as it was authorized by the President and the Justice Department said it was legal.

Is this really what we want?
 

-- If the entire criminal program is ever made public there will be such a huge scandal that there will be considerable pressure to revoke the entire law. --
.
How does revoking the law remedy a past scandal, where the lawbreaker flouted the law?
.
I'm not arguing that Part II (immunity) is unimportant, I'm just placing it below Part I in relative importance.
.
As to whether ANY administration will respect the law, that's a question and matter of trust. I think ALL administrations will flout the law, to the extent they believe they can get away with it, in combination with considerations of personal advantage and preservation of public order. The tools of surveillance are ignorant of the law.
.
So, in that regard, I am in agreement with you. Democrats are complicit in "over the top" surveillance and in planning to physically corral the public, with force applied as necessary, if the public becomes restive for any reason. And there is a risk, should the public believe the governing are THAT distrustful of the governed, that the governed WOULD become restive. Secrecy then becomes imperative as a matter of preserving public trust in government.
 

"Or do they just think they'll con the Democrats into "fixing" all this again after the election?"

For all I know the idiots really think such surveillance powers are necessary, and view their inevitable abuse by Democrats as just a price that's worth paying.
 

How depressing. Anyways, I come at this from two angles, which don't quite seem the be the spirit of the post.

(1) Obama is symbolically radical, in some ways, but practically safe. This to me is key. He simply doesn't have the guts to strongly oppose the bill. And/or as a moderate, figures he has to go along with the caucus majority.

This is depressing and partially why I didn't lean toward him early. See also, his early support of Lieberman and decision to recently tape an ad in a primary a conservative Dem who has a more liberal/grassroots friendly opponent.

(2) The immunity bill is a piece with the habeas ruling -- it is about court review, the rule of law and not benefiting breaches of the law in the name of some vague "safety" rationale. The discovery, per Dilan, issue also factors in.

If Obama supports it because he cares more about "protecting America" than doing so -- as demanded by the executive oath -- under the Constitution, this deserves our deep concern.


BTW, realistic souls realize Obama is a flawed person, like most of us. The fact he has some passionate supporters doesn't change this. I think the same thing was true when Reagan came into power etc.

He is however still the better candidate, with some real up sides. The fact we have a long way to go, even with him notwithstanding.
 

"Mr. Obama has not demonstrated that he has thought deeply at all about foreign policy, nevertheless [sic] about the tools required to exercised that policy."

There's some that seem to show evidence they haven't even thought much about English, much less gotten to foreign policy or Constitutional law (something in which Obama has far more experience than does our "Bartster"....)

Now it is true that I'm being a bit of an Internet language cop here, but when said person, without evidence, casts aspersions on Obama's qualifications and aptitude, isn't such fair game?

Cheers,
 

-- realistic souls realize Obama is a flawed person, like most of us ... He is however still the better candidate, with some real up sides. --
.

Hypothetically, imagine two candidates that are both calculating, opportunistic and manipulative at bottom, where both employ rhetoric that is difficult to "pin" to a FIRM principled position or concrete promise for action.

.

How the hell can an objective observer, bent on factual analysis, confidently assert or even argue that one or the other is "better?"

.

Two lying chimeras, pick the better. Feh.
 

At what point do you think that the Republicans in Congress are going to wake up in a cold sweat about the vast surveillance powers they've just handed to a liberal black Democratic president?

January 21, 2009.
 

-- Now it is true that I'm being a bit of an Internet language cop here, but when said person, without evidence, casts aspersions on Obama's qualifications and aptitude, isn't such fair game? --
.
Yep. But discretion is the better part of valor. Language and punctuation cops can be entertaining, taken in moderation, just the same. Most flaws in expression speak well for themselves - Lord knows I've made my share of contributions to the cause!
 

Take a look at Obama's statement:

"So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people."

He is saying trust me with these powers, I'll use them responsibly. Screw that, I say. Having a (D) after his name is not some kind of magic talisman that makes me ok with the erosion of our civil liberties.

I hope Obama's campaign gets a deluge of contacts reminding him that, in the words of John Adams, "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." And Tom Jefferson sums my feeling on this, pretty well, too:

"F]ree government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go ... In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
 

I'm not arguing that Part II (immunity) is unimportant, I'm just placing it below Part I in relative importance.

I think the point here is that Part II, i.e., exposing what was actually done, is the only way to achieve Part I, i.e., forcing an obviously reluctant Congress into passing actual laws curbing the President's power. Exposure can shame people into mending their ways.
 

As to "feh" ... if you honestly can't see much of a difference, fine.

I don't think one can credibly say that. Honestly, we can figure out what each presidency would mean in various respects with some degree of assurance. And, on various issues, they DO have some "firm" stance.

Cynicism is warranted, but only up to a point.
 

-- I think the point here is that Part II, i.e., exposing what was actually done, is the only way to achieve Part I, i.e., forcing an obviously reluctant Congress into passing actual laws curbing the President's power. Exposure can shame people into mending their ways. --

.

My first point is that the surveillance activity might be really limited. But even if the surveillance activity shows that GWB was not trustworthy, it's no guarantee that any successor will be trustworthy. Shame GWB all you want, he's out of power come Jan 2009. Shame on a predecessor and current laws do not curb the president. SUNLIGHT, ACTION and POWER curb the president.
 

-- As to "feh" ... if you honestly can't see much of a difference, fine. --
.
I see many differences. But none are based on one of the two being honest and forthright.
.
I think Obama is a better chimera, and as such, a more risky choice. He's got superior charisma based on vacuity. It sells like hotcakes in the US of A. But I'm not buying his brand of bull butter.
 

"That President will want more authority to engage in surveillance, and he'll be delighted for Congress to give it to him officially."

That statement mirrors the logic and modeling of economic self-interest. But since it goes so often side by side with calls for "responsible" and "serious" journalism and the defense of "reason" the cognitive dissonance gets to be annoying. By this logic the victory of any one man's reason would be dictatorship.

I've argued in comments here and elsewhere for the moral logic of vulgar political reportage not because I don't trust anyone to ever have the country's best interest as a democracy at heart, but because I trust vulgarians more than self-important priests to know when a line has been crossed. It was a gossip columnist not a political reporter who was overheard leaving a club full of republican partyers at the convention in NY saying in disgust that they were fascists.

Professor Balkin you haven't spent your life trying to get rich, nor have you spent it trying to expand a political power base; and the one you've developed I'd imagine you think of as a sometimes pleasant side effect of your intellectual commitments. So with that in mind I'll remind you that publicly refusing to judge the actions of others does little more than reinforce their logic. At some point assuming people are greedy encourages greed. There's always a line between awareness and indifference. And you've crossed it here. Obama may well desire the power this new bill grants, but if so he should be condemned for that desire.

Representative democracy is not giving the people what they want. It is following the will of the people until your individual conscience says: enough. David Davis, a British MP, and a Tory, resigned his seat last week, in protest against the 42 day rule, forcing an election he may well lose. If his "self interest" is power then he did so in error. If his self interest is his own self-respect as a British citizen he did well. Dictatorship is telling the people what they want. The responsibility of republican government is to know when to refuse to act in a way you can't accept. There's no way to avoid the ambiguities of our form of government. Ian Ayres' "Super Crunchers" can say nothing about values. Your objective passivity concerning Obama's response is shameful.
I was raised to understand that there were many greedy people in the world, but I was not raised to be greedy. Academics used to understand the distinction. That seems no longer to be the case.
 

-- Honestly, we can figure out what each presidency would mean in various respects with some degree of assurance. --
.

Heh. Well, lay it out, and let history be your judge.

.

I thought GWB would nominate testable SCOTUS nominees, and he put Harriet Miers out there. I thought he'd run transparent and honest government (more or less).

.

Although, if you told me that Obama would implement federal government in the mold of Daley/Chicago machine, I'd believe that.

.

As for McCain, I think "The Cain Mutiny" is not a far-fetched parallel. I'm suspicious of his advocacy for VN normalization, and his rhetoric relating to opting out of public financing in a primary campaign show me he is willing to lie his ass off about the little things.

.

Which is better? Feh.
 

-- Your objective passivity concerning Obama's response is shameful --

.

Yes, if one is required to express a value judgement. I too use a style that resembles detached objectivity, but in fact I'm a harshly opinionated SOB. I adopt "objective passivity" because I think it helps me see two sides of each issue, it results in less "noise" from those who differ from my (unexpressed) value judgments, and it credits the reader with the right to make his own value judgments.
 

I agree with CupOJoe : 10:21 PM.

Also, Obama is supporting because he is "assuming" that he will be president. We all know what happens when you make assumptions... you make an ASS out of U and ME.
What will he say if McCain gets elected?
 

Spot on, Brett.

Nobody runs for President who's not power hungry. They may want to use that power for good, they may be absolutely resolute in their determination not to abuse that power, (As their evolving definition of "abuse" has it.) but they want that power.

As the saying has it, "He meant to rule well, but he meant to RULE."
 

As touching as this bipartisan paranoia is, I must demur. Obama may or may not be “power hungry,” but I seriously doubt that he is salivating over the enhancement to his power that the FISA bill represents. I think it is far more likely that he recognizes that (a) it will be his responsibility, if elected, to stop the next terrorist attack, and that surveillance is an important tool to carry out that responsibility and/or (b) it would be politically unwise to position himself to the left of the House Democrats who negotiated this compromise.

With regard to the potential abuse of the surveillance power (ie, its use for political or other improper purposes), as far as I know there is no evidence that it has been so misused in the current Administration, or in any administration since the notorious practices of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations were exposed. It seems to me that it would be very difficult for any president to attempt this and expect to get away with it. And if you think that Obama (or any other potential president) would be so brazen and clever to pull off this feat, what makes you think that any legal regime would stop him? The best defense against this possibility would seem to be a strong oversight system, which the new FISA bill (allegedly) provides.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that a healthy suspicion of the government is a good thing. But it could be better directed. For example, I am curious as to why the liberals who are so worried that the government might listen into their telephone conversations are nonetheless happy to give it full control of the health care system, where it can dictate the terms and conditions of your relationship with your doctor, decide who gets what treatment and in what priority, and have access to your medical records. To me, this does not compute.
 

cboldt, Maybe would you raise a child to be a schmuck. I wouldn't.

It's a soldier's job to follow orders and a lawyer's job to make lemonade from lemons. Citizens have a more complex responsibility: and since lawyers and soldiers are also citizens, we have a problem. The theory of rational self-interest ignores this problem by saying it doesn't exist. it does. If simplicity is what you like that's fine, but don't tell me it describes how our system of was meant to function.
Indifference and hero worship are both forms of passivity. Democracy requires engagement.

"The best lack all conviction..."
 

Suffice to say on "brands," I don't buy McCain's "brand," his past and current performance underlines why, and (key in the real world) policy-wise, one is going to be better too.

Of the two, one is much better for me, and the fact Obama is flawed and plays politics doesn't suddenly make him only worth of my sneering at him. But, we differ.

As to Bush, I find this curious, and not just in your case cbolt. It is unclear (1)why people are so surprised (2)that he really didn't do what one should have thought.

Him playing the heavy for his father shows in his style as president. Overall, he appointed the conservatives you'd think he would. His willingness, to some extent, to temper things somewhat (be somewhat unprincipled, tomato/oe) was supposed to be a reason to pick the guy.

Why exactly you thought he wouldn't pick a few bad ones, partially out of personal attachment is unclear.

And so forth. Cheney too really shouldn't have been a surprise either. The book "Shrub," by someone who knew him upclose, was quite prophetic about the administration.

As to MLS ... "full control of the health care system." Compared to what? Relying on HMOs and such? In the real world, this is the choice. And, the imperfect system likely to arise is far from "full control" or even as much "control" as many would wish. Not that universial health care is that.


The idea the current system adequately upholds autonomy in the real world for the people at large is something of a joke.
 

-- cboldt, Maybe would you raise a child to be a schmuck. --
.
I was referring to the way I tend to compose written material for online consumption, not the way I conduct my life.
.
I don't care if YOU expect every article to deliver an opinion as to the ultimate outcome, and deliver praise or rebuke to the subjects of the piece. And of course, you are free to complain / whinge to your frickin' hearts content, when an author doesn't deliver the goods that YOU think are imperative.
.
My opinion as to Balkin's article is that it was thought provoking, and probably objectively correct. Obama sees no harm in wielding power against the people, as long as he's the one doing the wielding.
 

I'm disappointed though not very surprised by Obama's stance, but I admit that part of me would be happy if Obama just would use the new powers of the Presidency to send Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Gonzales, and a few dozen others to Guantanamo to be waterboarded.

Civil liberties, the rule of law, etc. would be no worse off than they are already, and the schadenfreude would make it all worth it.

George Will and David Brooks look like enemy combatants to me too. Waterboarding them would tell us whether I'm right about that.

[Seriously, once Obama's in office, as I expect, we should expect the united media to set up a clamor demanding that he rule in a more moderate and bipartisan way than Bush and Delay did without any media protest. Even if Obama governs from the center, I hope that he at least governs harshly and punitively from the center, and smashes as many Republican mouths as possible.

"Beggars can't be choosers" is the first rule of democratic politics. Vengeance is the most I can hope for.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

I'm voting for Obama. That was never the question; nor should it be. The politics of spoiled children is not politics at all. However, following a link from Atrios brings you to this: "We need more and better Democrats"

Vote for Obama and then work to move him where he needs to go. Do you think the Republican base really gives a shit about Bush? He's a tool.
 

Michael

I recommend listening to Dionne Warwick's "I'll never fall in love again."

Over and over.
 

Only fools fall in love with politicians.
 

the question is better framed, why would obama not want to pick this fight when it is so unpopular with his base.

i think mls hit it on the head, that the decision was based on tactical reasons; eg. he doesn't want to undermine his fellow dem's efforts.

maybe he's worried about the shit storm the WH would whip up if they don't get their way on this, and figures the smart play is to let the clock run and fix it when he gets into office.

the sad thing is that many of the powers bush is asking for are just plain unnecessary.

obama's no saint i'm sure, but, there are a number of other credible reasons that he may be avoiding taking the stage on this issue, beyond, he's a power hungry dictator.

he's in a presidential campaign.

maybe he just doesn't want to rock the boat...

i mean there's a limit to what the guy can do.

i don't like it one bit.

but who am i going to vote for?

mccain?

LOL
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

The Republicans are a disease, a chancre, a purulent boil, a sepsis, a malignancy, a necrosis on the body of America.

To be fair, it's the Bush-Cheney-Rove strain of GOPism which deserves the Royal and Urgent Flushdown. Otherwise, I'm in broad concurrence!
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Mattski,

I think actually the problem with the GOP is of longer historic standing than just the current Rove-Cheney-Bush axis.

Since 1947 they, the Republicans, have been pursuing avidly a certain brand of unhealthy politics. With the exception of Eisenhower, the trend has been ever downwards.
 

Be not afraid. Demonstrating his usual Jimmy Carter and the Rabbit decisiveness, Mr. Obama has flip flopped yet again - now agreeing to support a filibuster of the FISA reform bill he just said he supported.

One can only wait with bated breath to observe Mr. Obama demonstrate this brand of firm commitment to principle when he conducts "tough and direct diplomacy" to convince Iran that it really does not want to build nukes.

After all, Mr. Obama tells us that Iran is not a threat except of course when he is trying to attract Jewish votes by calling Iran a grave threat.
 

The only thing that matters, though, is that Mr. Obama is not a Republican. Heaven forfend!
 

I am deleting two of my above posts as overly partisan.

This is after all a law blog and I will reserve such partisan attacks to another more suitable forum.

Or at least I will try.
 

I agree with Dilan:
"One big reason why Prof. Balkin is dead wrong and we should care about the telecom immunity section is that those suits provide the only way we will ever know what the Bush Administration actually did.
I suspect-- and I would imagine other liberals also suspect-- that if discovery is ever conducted, it will show that the Bush Administration grossly abused its surveillance powers and deliberately violated the law to spy on people they shouldn't have been spying on, or simply engaged in blunderbuss surveillance of all or many Americans. If telecom immunity is enacted, we never find out."

Obama's statement is weak, but also indicates he will aggregate power to do what he wants to do.

When Jonathan Turley and Rep. Pete Hoekstra stated this week that the House and Senate leadership knew about the telecom intervention at the time or before it occurred, I realized they are covering themselves.

This is why the public hates Washington and why we may come to not trust Senator/President Obama.
 

What I suspect may be the real motivation of the Democrats at the moment is that they know very well that as of next year they may very well have a Democratic majority in both houses, rather nearer to the 60 votes needed to ensure relatively free passage of legislation through the Senate and not at risk of a Bush veto.

Therefore they want to clear the decks and get on with the campaign, knowing they can change what they don’t like in the new Congress.

Having said that there are some long-term problems with FISA (new or old model).

Interception for law enforcement purposes is well-understood by now. Interception for national security purposes less so, and in a world where terrorism does not respect national boundaries the idea of purely national interception regulation becomes increasingly meaningless. I have already made reference to the EU concerns over the old Echelon system. The USA has intercepted communications outside the USA for many years and has been pretty casual about the use of the information gathered.

But suppose that in today's world we speak of a communication starting in the United Kingdom and terminating in the USA. If it were not lawful for the US government to intercept that communication in the USA because the person at the US end was a US citizen and there was no "probable cause", it still remains the case that it might be perfectly lawful for that communication to be intercepted at the UK end and anyone who thinks the resulting information would not be shared if it produced usable national security intelligence is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Therefore distinctions on grounds of nationality are almost meaningless.

The so-called “FISA Court” seems to me to be something of a joke. If the authorities being given are as wide as the legislation suggests, my view is that the so-called safeguards are practically meaningless and the whole thing is an expensive scheme to gull the public into a false expectation of privacy.

It may well be that all countries will have to change from a prior authority basis of regulation for intelligence purposes to a “use made” basis of regulation, i.e. that all international traffic may be monitored – no matter who is at either end – but that the law concentrates on the use which may be made of the data once captured, i.e. what use may be made of the data captured, how long it may be kept for and with whom it may be shared.

In the EU, we also have ongoing concerns about surveillance and the international storage and use of data. This recently gave rise to problems about the use to be made of the information gleaned from passengers embarking at airports.

For so long as the prospect of international terrorist outrages remains real, we may have to accept that some of our cherished expectations of total privacy of communications are unreal.
 

Gee, way to not show that you're a thinker, at least not a thorough one.

Could it also be that he [Obama] is trying to avoid the narrow-minded attacks that the right keep throwing in the air everytime someone stands up against the Bush Administration? You know the attacks to which I'm referring, the attacks that slander Democrats with national security weakness should they actually stand up and vote in favor of the Constitution instead of George Bush and his lawlessness. The same attacks that will run rampant from now until November should Obama entirely reject this bill. The same attacks that the media latch onto instead of offering their support for the Constitution as well...yeah, those attacks, the kind that could cost a Democrat the Presidential election.

Hmmm...your conclusions are very short sighted and cynical.
 

I agree with FreeFallin on Obama's motives, but I think that's even less defensible. In the first place, I have a tough time believing that he could really lose the election by coming out against telecom immunity, and that's assuming that the majority of Americans disagree with him on this issue. It isn't big enough of an issue to lose an election on, and the connection between being against immunity and being soft on terror is just too attenuated. Moreover, if he spoke out against immunity, he could probably move public opinion. This is an issue that most Americans have very little knowledge of, if any, so if he made a persuasive argument, it wouldn't even be a losing issue for him anymore, just as the gas tax wasn't after he and a million economists explained why it wouldn't work. So I think his decision is shortsighted and way too risk-adverse. But even if a different stance could somehow cost him the election, do you really want to elect a guy who's willing to sell out both your civil liberties going forward and any chance you had to find out just how encroached upon they were in the past, just in order to get elected? You may say, "well, if he gets elected surely he won't misuse FISA power." Sure (I guess), but what if he loses? This isn't just a matter of principle. He's the de facto leader of the party; he may well have been the one Senator with the power to scuttle the bill.
 

Several folks have surmised that discovery in civil lawsuits is the only remaining vehicle for ferreting out wrongdoing in the current Bush administration. I disagree. Abuses of power such as unlawfully electronic surveillance of American citizens is an impeachable offense, or at least the House Judiciary Committee deemed it to be so in 1974.

Removal from office is not the only remedy in cases of impeachment. Article I, § 3 of the Constitution states that "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States".

The expiration of an official's term of office does not make impeachment moot; the Congress can still consider disqualification from holding office in the future. This is more than a hypothetical question. John Quincy Adams served in the House of Representatives after serving as President. William Howard Taft served as Chief Justice of the United States.

During the past half-century, Richard Nixon served as president after leaving office as Vice-president. Hubert Humphrey served as U.S. Senator after serving as Vice-president. Walter Mondale served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, and he was nominated to run for the Senate from Minnesota after Paul Wellstone's death in a plane crash.

I do not favor bringing articles of impeachment during this election year, but in light of the current Administration's Herculean efforts to block official inquiry into its conduct, I hope that Rep. Kucinich or another member of the next Congress will continue to pursue impeachment of the current President Bush, and I hope that the leadership will bring the full investigtive power of the House of Representatives to bear. The conduct of Vice-president Cheney and former Attorney General Gonzales, among others, would also merit investigation.
 

See also, his early support of Lieberman and decision to recently tape an ad in a primary a conservative Dem who has a more liberal/grassroots friendly opponent.

A more liberal/grassroots friendly opponent who would certainly lose to the Republicans if she is the nominee. Georgia-12 is a borderline district which Barrow won by less than 1,000 votes last time around. No African American has ever been elected for the first time in a majority white district in the South, and Regina Thomas is Black. I give pretty much no credibility to anyone who mouths this talking point - they clearly either have no idea what they're talking about, or else are being purposefully misleading (as, e.g., Greenwald, who had the effrontery to compare this situation to that with Al Wynn in Maryland's 4th, one of the safest Democratic seats in the country - surely he knows better.)
 

Bart de Palma said:

Be not afraid. Demonstrating his usual Jimmy Carter and the Rabbit decisiveness, Mr. Obama has flip flopped yet again - now agreeing to support a filibuster of the FISA reform bill he just said he supported.

Bart, try checking the date of the post you referenced. If you do, I think you'll be deleting another one of your posts.
 

A more liberal/grassroots friendly opponent who would certainly lose to the Republicans if she is the nominee. Georgia-12 is a borderline district which Barrow won by less than 1,000 votes last time around. No African American has ever been elected for the first time in a majority white district in the South, and Regina Thomas is Black.

So your argument is that Obama should endorse the guy who's wrong on the issues in order to prevent the nomination of a black because blacks just can't win in majority-white constituencies. Seems to be an argument against Obama's own campaign.
 

Another interpretation might be that Barack Obama's background as a community organizer made him aware that there are radical groups in the United States who plot to overthrow our government and will collaborate with foreign governments and terrorists to do so. The government does need powers of investigation to surveil them. There are many on the right as well as on the left.
 

This whole article makes me nauseous. Of course Obama is power hungry, more so than most considering how he got here and how much time he spent in the Senate before running for president. (Not much).

It sickens me that we are here and that people are going to support this by voting for a man, a man similar to George W. Bush on this subject. It sickens me that anyone would support Obama or any Democrat that voted for this, and even that it's discussed so calmly when it's unconstitutional. We can only hope the courts will fix this problem, because the Democrats sure won't.
 

A professional website always have the their own ways selling RS Gold to buyers. Buying Cheapest WOW Gold from those websites, you don’t need to worry about getting banned. Because they promise to offer you hand farmed Buy World Of Warcraft Gold!
 

My 1999 Avalon (169,000 miles-V6) gives me error codes 401, 402, 446, 401pd, and 420pd. When I clear the codes, the vehicle operates for a day, up to operating x431 printer temperature on short drives without the light coming on, then next day, it comes back on. I have replaced the EGR valve and cleaned the tube. Using Haynes for reference, I checked resistance/vacuum on everything recommended and replaced new if needed. Any suggestions.
 

You made some respectable factors there. I appeared on the web for the issue and located most people will go together with with your website.
Audio Jobs

 

Fine post, and your overall all the blog is very informative and of the best quality. Thanks
credit card safety tips
 

I am agreed with this fact that this blog is really incredible due to its amazing post.
PUA

 

HD kaliteli porno izle ve boşal.
Bayan porno izleme sitesi.
Bedava ve ücretsiz porno izle size gelsin.
Liseli kızların ve Türbanlı ateşli hatunların sikiş filmlerini izle.
Siyah karanlık odada porno yapan evli çift.
harika Duvar Kağıtları bunlar
tamamen ithal duvar kağıdı olanlar var
 

obd2 scanneronline supply high quality EOBD/EOBD2, OBD2 Scanner, OBDII Coder Reader, Car&Truck Diagnostic Tool, etc. All are best price and worldwide shipping.

 

http://www.obd2works.com, as a professional obd2 scanner online supplier, providing our customers with a vast range of high-quality and affordable automobile maintenance tools.Our main business line covers: Automotive Professional Diagnostic Tools for OBD I and OBD II compliant vehicles; Auto Diagnostic tool, OBD2 Code Scanners, ECU Chip Tuning Tool, Car Key programmer Mileage Programmer as well as other more featured products.


 

GDS+ 3hot sale on www.obd2works.com
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

http://delphids150e.over-blog.com/
http://fordvcmii.over-blog.com/
http://fordvcm2.blogspot.com/
http://delphids150e.blogspot.com/

 

Wow! It's awesome blog post here.... really very interesting for reading.....
clipping path
 

Post a Comment

Home