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Friday, June 20, 2008

The First Truly Sucktastic Thing Obama Has Done So Far in the General Election

posted by on June 20 at 17:29 PM

He’s backing the FISA “compromise” even though it includes fairly sweeping immunity for telecoms.

As the New York Times describes it,

The deal, expanding the government’s powers to spy on terrorism suspects in some major respects, would strengthen the ability of intelligence officials to eavesdrop on foreign targets. It would also allow them to conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined that important national security information would otherwise be lost. If approved by the Senate, as appears likely, the agreement would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years.

The agreement would settle one of the thorniest issues in dispute by providing immunity to the phone companies in the Sept. 11 program as long as a federal district court determined that they received legitimate requests from the government directing their participation in the program of wiretapping without warrants.

With AT&T and other telecommunications companies facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

Remember when Obama was totally down with Dodd’s immunity filibuster? Those were the days.

Don’t do something illegal and ethically problematic just cause the government tells you do to it, OK? Gahh. Now we’ll never learn.

RSS icon Comments


Get used to it. SOS for Sell Out Season. Or Suckers On Slog.

Posted by Bob | June 20, 2008 5:36 PM

Everyone is forgetting their high school logic tables...

If all politicians are scumbags,
And Obama is a politician,
Then Obama is a scumbag.

Personally, I like the guy and plan on voting for him... but I'm not buying to the Obama as Messiah tripe.

Posted by rotten666 | June 20, 2008 5:40 PM

Didn't you just prove that all politicians are Obama?

Posted by umvue | June 20, 2008 5:43 PM

Buying into, that is.

Posted by rotten666 | June 20, 2008 5:44 PM

@3 Ha! Probably.

Posted by Rotten666 | June 20, 2008 5:45 PM

It sounds like he thinks it's the best they could do - stop the illegal wiretaps, but leave the telcos alone. Next week the Senate will try to amend the bill to remove immunity. Obama will vote to remove immunity, but it won't work. Telcos will have immunity from prosecution, and Obama will have immunity from attacks on the issue.

Posted by pox | June 20, 2008 6:00 PM

I know it's fun to hate big corporations, but can someone explain to me why telecom immunity is so bad in this case?

They may have broken the law, but they did so at the behest of the government. That's the real problem as I see it.

Complying with requests from law enforcement shouldn't be illegal, and companies shouldn't be expected to enforce laws, which is what they would have been doing had they refused to comply.

Blaming the telecoms for the impropriety of the executive branch seems like a deflection of the real problem.

Posted by meh | June 20, 2008 6:00 PM

meh@7: Giving the telcos immunity stops the civil suits that are pending. If the suits were allowed to continue, they would probably expose crimes of the administration. It might be the only chance we have for those crimes to be addressed in court in any way. That's why the Republicans are pushing for immunity, and why it would be more fun prevent it.

Posted by pox | June 20, 2008 6:05 PM

@8 Hits it on the nose.

I want to disagree because I love Obama, but this is really bad legislation.

I will admit freely that if ECB had posted this
I would be calling it an Obama smear job but since it's Annie I'm willing to listen.

Posted by Dawgson | June 20, 2008 6:27 PM

@ 7,

The real problem is that our failed Democratic Congress is acting more and more like a royal court or a third world oligarchy that subverts and perverts its own laws in order to retroactively legalize criminal and unconstitutional behavior, not to mention the fact that it's an open obstruction of justice. We know that Bush has committed over 30 felonies under current law and the telcos assisted; that's not even in dispute.

I never would have imagined this happening just a few short years ago, and most people don't understand what a radical move this is. Basically, they're saying that they're above the law, and the rule of law no longer exists. Imagine what would have happened had Congress in the 70s simply retroactively legalized Nixon's crimes--it would have been unthinkable, and this is so much worse. It's just fucking sick.

Posted by Original Andrew | June 20, 2008 6:34 PM

Boo. Everybody send Obama an angry email or phone call, kay?

Posted by Greg | June 20, 2008 6:45 PM

really? this is the first time you've been less completely devout to Obama?
for another recent gaffe, how about his dubious claim that McCain's money making is "fueled by lobbyists and PACs" ???
CNN did a story on Obama's untrue allegations and it was less than flattering to Mr. O (McCain's donations from lobbyists were less than 2% of his money).

i am not a fan of McCain, but i don't see how lying about your opponent is anything other than politics as usual. Hillary is looking better day by day....

Posted by lauper | June 20, 2008 6:49 PM


Good answer. It's a shame there's no more direct legal remedy.

Posted by meh | June 20, 2008 7:09 PM


Yeah, I agree with all of that sentiment. I was just wondering why everyone is so concerned about the crimes of the telecoms rather than those of the administration, and pox answered that-- telecoms are a stepping stone for eventual litigation of the administration.

Posted by meh | June 20, 2008 7:15 PM

here's a coupla-three ideas

1. Obama = human = pol.

Wow.....who'd a thought??

Certainly nothing in his background in Chicago to suggest he'd um, litigate people off the ballot, throw prior supporters under the bus, um, what else, turn about a ful 180 on his promise to use public financing (just cuz um if he does he'll have about $500 million to spread TV ads all over the land like GM or Nike while McCain't will only have $85 million in public funds) (tactical advantage; v. glad he has that ol' ruthlessness in him; would very much like to see sweeping change election).

But on telecoms, no, he didn't need to cave in.

2. Idea no. 2:

Enforce the laws.

I know, I know, that "sounds consdervative."

Very difficult for liberals to buy into this. But let's say at the outset we don't mean the racist institution of unfair drug laws, OK?

But apart from that how about enforcing all the laws ?

Enforce them through civil lawsuits. Enforce them through prosecution. Enforce them against govt. officials through impeachment.

Do it all -- sue the telecoms AND sue the officials. Prosecute them all. Impeach them all.

I certainly hope this cave-in doesn't mean President Obama will just let all those Bush officials get away with their torture, crimes, constitutional violations, etc.

'Twouldn't' be prudent.

3. Idea no. 3:

Why you can't give private citizens immunity, in four words or less:

i. Nazi
ii. Germany
iii. Nuremberg
iv. Defense


Posted by PC | June 20, 2008 8:07 PM

I agree. Fucking lame.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 20, 2008 8:29 PM

perhaps obama realizes he's not going to be able to change this vote and if he were to attempt to do so with a minority on his side, could open himself up to accusations of being soft-on-terrorism?

i'm not ready to believe he's as big as of a lapdog as pelosi and reid have proven themselves to be.

Posted by skye | June 20, 2008 9:09 PM

Obama kicks ass, not in spite, but because of this. He rocks your socks and you know it.

Posted by Sirkowski | June 20, 2008 9:37 PM

Supremely disappointing.

Pox probably has the rationale figured out though. The dems have control of congress but not by a large enough margin that spineless blue dogs in the house and that sycophantic piece of shit Lieberman in the senate can't fuck things up.

Posted by ru shur | June 20, 2008 9:52 PM

here is the roll call vote.

print it out and keep a record.

Posted by LMSW | June 20, 2008 9:53 PM


Lauper, the part of the site you linked to that I find interesting is this:

"Also, for what it's worth, the Democratic National Committee has historically been far more reliant on PAC and lobbyist money than the RNC. In 2004, PACs provided about 10 percent of the DNC's total fundraising and only about 1 percent of the RNC's total, according to the CRP. Obama, after he sewed up enough delegates to win the party's nomination, sent word to the DNC to stop accepting PAC and lobbyist donations."

Ok, so the "fueled" remark may have been a gaffe, but it seems that what Obama's is doing by not taking "money from lobbyists" is not so much drawing a contrast between himself and the GOP money machine, but between himself and the previous Democratic candidates. If Obama did go with the public financing and the DNC really does rake in more money from lobbyists and PACs, that would be an open wound just waiting to have salt thrown into it by the GOP and he'd be labeled a hypocrite. ("My friends, senator Obama says he's not beholden to the lobbyists. but 10% of his finances come from lobbyists and PACs. We've only taken in 1% from lobbyists and PACs. Explain yourself Mr. Obama...yadda yadda...I'm old and hungry you cunt-faced trollops, etc..." McCain would say.) It makes sense to do that, then.

Oh, and let's not forget that 1% of McCain's available war chest is still millions of dollars from lobbyists and PACs.

....and immunity and wiretaps, boo!

Posted by bearseatbeats | June 21, 2008 1:29 AM

Even if he doesn't accept any more money from PACs and the like, he still used a lot more than McCain, which is painful to even write. But then why did he go back on his promise to only use public money to campaign??? Because he could raise a lot more money through donations. Was it a smart financial move? Sure. Does it make him look like another sleazy politician no matter how he prettifies it in a speech? Yes, it does.
The honeymoon is over.

Posted by lauper | June 21, 2008 8:23 AM

But I thought Hillary was the triangulator, my mistake.

Posted by ratcityreprobate | June 21, 2008 8:51 AM

What bothers me most is that it's a sign of weakness. He's worried about McCain's national security advantage, and wants to show that he's not weak on terrorism. When he slammed McCain earlier in the week, that was the way to do it. Endorsing this capitulation is not.

Posted by Gitai | June 21, 2008 9:39 AM

Well, the comments here are more reasoned than on other lefty blogs. It's obvious that some folks put Obama on a pedestal. And now that their idol has broken their hearts, they are refusing to volunteer, donate, and in some cases, not vote for him. This is what a lot of the older Dems worried would happen. They knew that when things got tougher, these folks would flee. And they are certainly doing it. Sadly, if they don't get over it, McCain will win. For the record, I've supported Obama since January.

Posted by Tony | June 21, 2008 10:16 AM

Well well well. So much for a different kind of politics from a different kind of politician.

I smell a rush to the center a la Bill Clinton. In '92 I got my hopes up and became enamored with Clintonism. Only to have it crushed after 8yrs of stupidity.

Never again. It's becoming increasingly such that the only differentiator in favor of Obama, over his former dem rivals, is his skin color and pretty speeches.

This week has thus far been the lowest of Obama's campaign. The only wise vote now is one against McCain.

Posted by fluteprof | June 21, 2008 10:32 AM

fluteprof, whose administration are you referring to when you say 8 years of stupidity?

Posted by Fitz | June 21, 2008 11:10 AM


1. Obama never accepted PAC or federal lobbyist money during his presidential campaign. The recent change has been for the DNC's fundraising, which he only recently took over.

2. Obama never unconditionally promised to take public financing. He promised to try and work out a way for public financing that would reign in outside spending.. Something McCain publicly refused to even try to do. In contrast, MoveOn's 527 is shutting down at the request of the Obama campaign.

Posted by ru shur | June 21, 2008 12:13 PM

It looks like Clinton but both would be apt.

Posted by vooodooo84 | June 21, 2008 12:16 PM

Never "unconditionally promised" to take public financing??? You kidding me right? That's like arguing the definition of the word "is". He's full of shit on this issue, and your attempt to rationalize this point only makes it more painfully obvious how disillusioned people are becoming with Obama.

"Obama has made his pledge not to accept money from lobbyists or PACs one of the centerpieces of his presidential campaign, and it's one that he has insisted on since the early days of his run....In the last 10 years, Barack Obama has taken almost $2 million from lobbyists, corporations and PACs."

Okay, so this was before his presidential run, but doesn't exactly ring true as a cornerstone of integrity. He also previously criticized Hillary for being funded entirely by PACs and lobbyists. While it's true she did raise more money from these groups than the other candidates, this only accounted for less than 1% of her total contributions. The other 99% was from public donors. Now I'm not even saying taking money from PACs and lobbyists is a horrible deal breaker for any candidate, but the way Obama has approached this issue and than back peddled has been truly disgusting. Less than a month after he pretty much secured the nomination and I've already got buyer's remorse.

Posted by lauper | June 21, 2008 3:52 PM

The FISA compromise is pretty terrible, and it is too bad that Obama supports it.

Tempering that with Obama's solid rejection of retroactive immunity for the telecom companies AND expanding government surveillance makes it a little easier to bear. In his statement, he admits that the FISA compromise bill is shitty but better than last year's proposals, and that he will try to remove the immunity provision in the Senate.

I'm remembering a guest opinion, originally from the Chicago Tribune, called "The Obama I Know". In it, a former colleague of Sen. Obama's from UChicago law writes about the hour-long phone call he received from Obama-- to discuss the constitutionality of the surveillance before a vote was taken on immunity.

I feel like Obama wants to pick his battles right now so that he can appear strong to the electorate, but I do wish he'd be harsher on this.

Posted by V | June 21, 2008 6:52 PM


Obama Didn't Want My Money
The story of a registered lobbyist for a non-profit getting $100 returned to him.

What Obama has been doing is real public financing, instead of raising dirty money through surrogates.

Here's what he said a few months back. His position hasn't really changed-- the campaign has recognized its fundraising potential and decried 527 groups. If the Obama campaign can control its message, it will continue to be this positive and effective.

Posted by V | June 21, 2008 7:11 PM

bitch bitch bitch. v @30 is right. quibble all you want. he's a damn sight better than hrc and mccain, and i for one am grateful for the chance to vote for someone who doesn't make me want to puke.

Posted by ellarosa | June 22, 2008 1:38 AM

32, i mean.

Posted by ellarosa | June 22, 2008 1:40 AM

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