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June 20, 2008

Comments

How did that happen?

('that' being my double-comment.)

So AG Edwards notifies the telco's that they're under investigation for criminal acts -- discovery got MUCH easier than it would under civil jurisdiction.

This is precisely one of the things I don't like about immunity. Discovery got much "easier," and a whole hell of a lot less public.

All the decisions about how to proceed have now become the exclusive realm of the executive branch. President Obama wants to lean on the telcos? He can lean on the telcos privately whenever he wants, just by sending them a note reminding them about criminal jeopardy. Citizens want to lean on he telcos without having to rely on President Obama? Not a chance.

Yes, if Obama puts any real effort into removing immunity in the Senate I'll be very impressed, because that's a sub-optimal outcome for him personally. The Bushies are in a lather about this, and Bush will veto if there's no immunity. Which means that Obama will have to deal with, and take responsibility and political heat for, both questions (immunity and FISA expansion) instead of inheriting a done deal.

And he's in a legitimately difficult position with the telcos, because they (and the oil corps and the media corps and to a lesser extent agribiz) really can make his life a living hell if they want to. If the telco problem hasn't finished hitting the fan before he takes office it will definitely hit the fan afterwards, and he will be right where the splatter goes, with all the other megacorps watching to see whether he's going to be bidness-friendly like Clinton or revolutionary like Roosevelt.

Hilzoy: but one thing that this really brings home to me is how much it matters to really bring more people into the political process, and get talking to people who otherwise might not either be heard, or find someone they could ask questions to

Really? What it says to me is that right now, in the American political process, it doesn't matter how many people are involved, how many people care: Obama didn't care that this was a big issue for a significant part of his base, because he knew that those people would vote for him anyway, will continue to work for him anyway. He doesn't have to care what you want, Hilzoy, or what "Anon" wants: or what a million voters just like you want.

Obama doesn't have to listen to people who are going to support him regardless.

Obama doesn't have to listen to people who are going to support him regardless.

it's not Obama's fault: this is a central defect of a two-party system.

the Republicans have it even worse, this time around.

it's not Obama's fault: this is a central defect of a two-party system.

If it's not Obama's fault that he's not going to listen to a significant part of his base because they'll vote for him anyway, whose fault is it?

I understand what you're saying: I live in the UK, which also has a two-party system, if not quite as rigid as the American system.

But Obama is not a machine: he's a politician who had a decision to make. He opted to oppose basic civil liberties, in favor of supporting a bill that will give the President power to rule above the law. He plans to be President. It's not really surprising he wants that power, especially when he knows he won't lose the support of people who care about civil liberties, because on that specific issue (like many another) no matter how you compare them, McCain is worse. But that was his decision to make: to lead on civil liberties, or to merely be Not As Bad As McCain.

To me it seems like a pretty typical case of working within the system to rise up through the system in order to change the system.

Last night I was watching Training Day while reading up on Tokyo (leaving on Wed. for my first trip if anyone has any suggestions. I'm staying for a week near the Shibuya station) and to me, that statement (and others like it, I'm not picking on this particular author) sounds exactly like what Denzel's character told Hawke's character after Hawke's character wouldn't play ball on how the murder of one of the biggest drug dealers in LA was supposed to be justice. "Work with me, make detective, then change the system...from the inside.", Denzel said, sooo earnestly.

crionna,
I've started up a thread at TiO for you and will try to fill it up with some Tokyo recs. Drop by and give some info about what you like if you are so inclined

@cleek
centerism ? where did i say anything about that ? sheesh. at least argue with what i write - don't go inventing things for me to say.

his statement is fine, given that it makes no sense to try to split the party in two, this close to an election, and the fact that it's going to pass with or without his vote. what is he supposed to do - lambaste and alienate the Democratic legislators he'll need should he actually win it, over something that is, again, going to pass anyway?

I'm not sure what centerism is, if not a constant, easy willingness to "split the difference" as not to rock the boat. He's not just failing to object to a reprehensible bill (note, by bill I mean entire bill, not immunity provision alone)... he's supporting it while mouthing empty platitudes to placate the left portions of his base about the most ostentatiously vile portion of it. He's playing to the center. Or more clearly, he's adopting centrist positions, while posturing himself to the left. And you're telling us that we need to deal, and accept how this is as the only reasonable way for things to be as not to not offend right-leaning Dems. How is this not telling us centrism is the only way to go?

Has anyone fully compared the House votes from March to June (rollcall 145 and 437), and then read the speeches or other statements from March compared to now?

I count 93 D. reps who switched.

If you read the speeches, they gave reasons why they voted as they did. Some were hesitant about not giving immunity, but not all of them.

For example, Harman then said "We can't pass retroactive immunity when we don't know what we're
talking about." [while her changed vote isn't that much of a surprise, when did she learn what it meant?]

Boyda back then said "Let's make something real clear about what's at stake here. What's at stake is whether we wiretap Americans. That's what we're talking about..."

this word "centerism", it does not mean, etc.,etc..

He's playing to the center. Or more clearly, he's adopting centrist positions, while posturing himself to the left.

well, there's the nut, right? the wishes of Fox News and the leftist base aside, he is a centrist.

And you're telling us that we need to deal, and accept how this is as the only reasonable way for things to be as not to not offend right-leaning Dems. How is this not telling us centrism is the only way to go?

well, we do need to deal. like it or not, there aren't enough actual lefties in the country for an actual leftist candidate to win a Presidential election without compromise. and we certainly don't have such a candidate now.

this word "centerism", it does not mean, etc.,etc..

Hmm, I was not aware of the specific ideology attached to the word. I was only familiar with the common usage in the American political blogosphere, i.e., the political ideology associated with centrist politicians. Which is to say, fair point about my choice of words, but it doesn't change that you were and are advocating support of unprincipled centrist policy, as I was trying to point out.

well, we do need to deal. like it or not, there aren't enough actual lefties in the country for an actual leftist candidate to win a Presidential election without compromise. and we certainly don't have such a candidate now.

I have no illusions about Obama being anything but a center-right Democrat. This does not mean I have to like it, nor that I don't thing that he should be pressured to lean further left (or at the very bloody least, to lean no further right than he already is). Your argument is that the FISA bill was generally good, or at least inevitable, and that we should be happy that Obama responded as "cagily" as he did. I'm sorry, no. If those on the left are meekly silent, we ENCOURAGE the continued shifting of policy further and further to the right, and we let centrist politicians take for granted that they'll have leftist support as long as their policies are at least less odious than they could be. We don't have to "deal". Nor should we. Otherwise, come January it'll be capitulation cum compromise to the Blue Dogs "he'll need" as not to alienate them, then softpedal to preserve the majority in the midterms... then to get re-elected... then more midterms... etc. etc. etc. If we just sit back and "deal", we'll tell Obama and his ilk that there is no political cost for ignoring us, whereas there would be a political cost for ignoring the Blue Dogs. This is not a calculus I want to perpetuate, nor should anyone but a wholehearted centrist.

If we just sit back and "deal", we'll tell Obama and his ilk that there is no political cost for ignoring us, whereas there would be a political cost for ignoring the Blue Dogs.

yes and no. i'm all in favor of telling politicians what i expect of them - i sent my rep a letter telling him to vote against this one, and he did (he always votes the way i want. he's smart that way).

and no, there really is no cost to any of the Blue Dogs for ignoring me - none of them represent me. it's up to the people who elected the BDs to vote them out. and, since there are so many of them, we can assume there is a large pool of voters out there who like their kind of politics.

and when you get right down to it, the blame, as usual, lies with Pelosi and Reid, who have been enabling Bush ever since they took over. this is their doing, not Obama's.

"well, we do need to deal. like it or not, there aren't enough actual lefties in the country for an actual leftist candidate to win a Presidential election without compromise."

If being a lefty means having progressive values, there are more than enough to win. The trends are pretty clear on that. The statistical likelihood is that voters will be willing to compromise (in your words, "deal") when the candidate shares his or her values and does not compromise them.

Avedon outlines succinctly why it matters.

Dodd and Feingold are filibustering the bill!

Hmf. Dodd claims to be wrapping up. Cry. Never mind.

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