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Wag the Blog: FISA Problems for Obama?

As we have written before, Keith Olbermann and his show "Countdown" (on which The Fix occasionally is a guest) has become a major voice on the ideological left -- where many view him with something close to reverence.

So, last night, when Olbermann devoted more than 11 minutes to a meditation on the political dangers posed to Barack Obama by the upcoming (post-July Fourth recess) vote on a rewrite of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), we took notice.

FISA has long been a touchstone for liberal activists who see it as a vehicle for a power grab by the Bush Administration and a violation of privacy rights of average citizens.

At the heart of the current debate is whether or not telecommunications companies who participated in the warrantless wiretapping program authorized by the Bush Administration in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks should be granted de facto immunity from the dozens of pending lawsuits alleging invasion of privacy. (Olbermann, as only he can, described the actions of the telecommunications companies as "definitional fascism.")

After initially opposing that sort of immunity, Obama announced last week that he would vote for the compromise bill which includes that very provision. In announcing his support for the bill, Obama said the legislation is "not all that I would want" but added that "given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay."

That decision by Obama, which was widely seen by political strategists as an attempt to move to the ideological center, represented his first major break with the liberal left, a group that sustained him financially and organizationally throughout the primary season.

For Olbermann, as well as many on the liberal end of the political spectrum, Obama has backed himself into a corner. Regardless of how the FISA vote shakes out next week, they argue, Republicans will continue to paint Obama as soft on terrorism and not sufficiently prepared to safeguard the country.

Or, in Olbermann's words: "The Republicans can scare some of the people all of the time and they can scare all of the people some of the time."

For today's Wag the Blog, we want to hear from the Fix community on this issue. Does Obama's decision to support the FISA compromise help him moderate his image for the general election and keep a major GOP arrow in the quiver? Or does it simply alienate him for the very people he depended on to win the nomination while doing little to keep Republicans at bay on terror and national security?

As always the most thoughtful/insightful comments will be excerpted in a post of their own later this week. Go to it!

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m. ET: Joan McCarter, aka "McJoan", a contributing editor at Daily Kos, sent a missive The Fix's way seeking to further explain why many in the liberal blogosphere feel so passionately about the FISA debate.

"This has never been about punishing the [telecommunication companies] for the majority of us -- it's been about open government, about accountability, and about the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, not to be too dramatic about the whole thing."

So there.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 1, 2008; 10:05 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Analysis: Obama's Blend of Idealism and Realism
Next: McCain vs Clark: Day Three

Comments

To protect America and to keep us a free nation, our US Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Our Bill of Rights is most important under our US Constitution. It is also imperative that systems of security to protect our innocent are mandatory. Passing FISA is not damaging and/or destroying our Bill Of Rights. We must locate and remove all the terrorists from any within our free society. A free society must be protected from terrorists and their terror.

On the FISA vote, there seems to be 27 Democrats in the US Senate who do not care about US security and our people. By passing of FISA, the vote passed the US Senate on a vote of 69 to 28. 27 of the 28 NO votes in the US Senate were registered Democrats. 27 Democrats voted NO to stop our government from monitoring telephone calls of known terrorists.

Posted by: Oscar Y. Harward | July 10, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

People need to understand that we as Americans have our own ideas. We will not always agree 100% of the time with our leaders, however please understand what is going on in our economy. I personally was layed of from a mortgage job and understand and do not want another Republican in the White House. Things are going from bad to worse. Think about your lives and if you are doing better now than everyone else than go for a Republican, but I personally am not. I will not put my children through a Republican economy.

Posted by: Michelle | July 3, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I am unhappy with Mr. Obama's recent "compromise" on the FISA bill. The push to expand George Bush's faith based initiatives has left me wondering what is next? He no longer represents the change I was looking for. He will lose this voter. I can no longer support his candidacy.

Posted by: Jlucero7 | July 3, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama disgusts me as much as the OTHER traitor running for president. Screw em all! I will have to vote for Obama, unfortunately. This is only because Noam Chomsky isn't running. I like what he said about the possibility of great change being brought about by someone only slightly different than the current a-hole in chief. I paraphrase of course.

Posted by: Craig R. Lane | July 3, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I was pretty riled up about this, but I'm hoping that John Dean's take on Obama's position and what he really might be trying to accomplish is true.

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20080702.html

Posted by: SoFla | July 3, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I voted for him in the primary...But I have to tell you, I see the singular national party status quo corporatist no matter who it is, rearing it's ugly head....I can't vote for faith based unconstitutionality or the destruction of the fourth amendment...he doesen't need my vote, obviously!!!!! And he's not going to get it!!!!!! get an Evangelical

Posted by: Rich.. | July 2, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that all of you disappointed Obama fans wake up and realize who you have been supporting all this time, to the detriment of a really qualified woman. Head on over to noquarterusa.net/blog and you can learn about Obama's sweetheart mortgate deals, his "doctored" certification of birth, and other choice tidbits. The man is as phony as a summer day is long, and he has fooled all of you.

Posted by: ChicagoforHillary | July 2, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I have been an Obama support from the beginning but I am very unhappy about his new FISA position. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. He is smart and should reverse himself now!

Posted by: Michael Murray | July 2, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

For those of you suggesting we look at the "bigger picture" of the November election, future Supreme Court appointments, etc, please consider this. Some people vote for candidates based solely on their position on the war, abortion, immigration, gun rights or gay marriage. What many of us fail to realize, however, is that the only reason we can afford to vote based on such narrow issues, the reason why such issues are at the core of our principles and being to begin with, is because of the sacred document that grants each of us our fundamental and basic rights as Americans. Remember that little list call the Bill of Rights? What difference does it make what you believe or how you feel about ANYTHING the government does if those rights are slowly eroded and taken away? Our country would not be what it is if not for our Constitution. If there were ever a reason to base your vote on a single issue, protecting the Constitution should be at the top of the list regardless of your political affiliation.

I've looked past Obama's criticism of Wesley Clark's comments, his pandering comments regarding the Supreme Court decisions on the death penalty and gun rights, even his decision to remain silent on impeachment, which is most difficult because I view it as ignoring his sworn duty as a US Senator; but, above all those issues, this so-called "compromise" FISA bill is too critical for me to ignore, and not just because of the telecom immunity, but because it grants too much power to the executive branch to ignore our 4th amendment rights; it does not provide necessary protections for law-abiding citizens like myself who deserve some guarantee of privacy from this God-forsaken post-911 government. Protecting my rights under the Constitution is more important to me than ANY election, period. If Obama intends to disregard and disrespect the Constitution, for whatever reason, then he is no better than Bush, and if that is the case, I cannot see how it matters who wins in November.

I truly hope Obama will come around and stick to his word, have some real conviction, maintain his principles, and most of all, show more respect for the Constitution because I cannot respect, let alone trust, and especially not vote for someone who conspires to take away my rights. If Obama votes for this bill, then he votes to continue the Bush administration's deviously effective efforts to erode our rights and freedoms, ultimately destroying our Constitution. If that happens, then it matters not what terrorists do; our country will already have been lost.

Posted by: Ozell Xiante | July 2, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Ya, who is this guy that used to be Obama. This reversal on FISA is disgusting and will cost him my vote. The Faith based initiative expansion is icing on the cake. Too bad, I was excited about his nomination and thought it was just what this country needed to go forward again - now I feel pretty stupid. Nader in November or stay home and drink for me I'm afraid - hope is gone.

Posted by: Steve | July 2, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm extremely disappointed that Obama decided to support telecom immunity.

Does that mean I won't vote for him? No. I'll still vote for Obama because the alternative is much much worse.

Does this mean I won't donate to his campaign? I don't donate often, but this makes it even less likely.

I'll still vote for Obama for the reason I stated above, but this just makes me think perhaps "Change you can believe in" is just another politician's false promise.

Posted by: EL | July 2, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama's new stance on FISA cost him $100, all the money I had set aside to donate through November. I'm poor and commute daily along 495. It costs me $20 to get to and from work now. A hundred dollars is a lot for me, and now I'm going to spend it on coffee, cigarettes and concerts instead.

Obama's new stance on the Faith-Based Initiative cost him the "Yes We Can" sign I made and have hung in my rear window since December. No employer should have the right to hire or fire based on religious ideology. It's discrimination, no different than hiring based on race, gender, or age regardless of skill, knowledge and motivation.

Obama's denouncing of Wesley Clark's statements have forced me to reconsider whether or not to touch the bogus electronic screen in November. Clark didn't lie at all, he just made a poorly worded,but incredibly valid argument about McCain's executive experience.

Obama's new stances are pathetic attempts to gain ignorant voters. Pandering and pan-handling, now I guess is the time where they play dirty and snipe each other from the bleachers. It's only a matter of time before "Obama smoked crack" and "McCain ditched his first wife after she became crippled and disfigured" start showing up.


C-c-change We Can Buh-Buh-Believe in? What's Changing? For the past 2 weeks, Obama has alienated the whole of his base in exchange for swing voters who don't like him anymore than McCain. Most of the swing voters are simple mid-westerners who've heard nothing but lies and truthiness. You could tell them that Obama pooped free ice cream and McCain's bled the stars and stripes and they'd actually stop to consider the validity of the statement while one lies through their teeth (poorly I might add) and the other runs blindly to the center of the stage without any clear goal of what to do if/when he gets there.

If Obama wins, at this point, he'll look out from his podium on victory night to see an empty hall and he'll hear a loud grumbling of people who voted for him simply because they didn't have too many other options.

Please, someone, tell me how our Electoral System is completely broken due to the stupidity and ineptitude of the average American? Out intelligence (or lack there-of) has cost us more than our money, it's costing us our lives and the lives of our children.

Thanks, Mom & Dad, I'll be cleaning your mess up for the rest of my life.

Posted by: Yost | July 2, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Gee whiz, if this is how Chris attacks Obama for voting in favor of Right-Wing legistlation, imagine what Chris would have written if Obama had voted "no."

Obama is far to the right of any politician where I live, so it hardly matters to me how he votes on another outrageous anti-privacy issue in America in order to win. He's already come out in favor of the death-penalty, in favor of incarceration of minors with adults and lectured fellow Democrats about needing to find Jesus. I wouldn't vote for him for president of Panama but he sure beats the hell out of the psychopath he's running against up in the USA.

Whatever he feels works for him to get him into the Oval Office is fine by me.

My phone is encrypted 4G and privacy laws are sacrosanct here. And even if Obama really LOVES all of this death penalty and FISA business, he's still going to have to come begging President Torrijos (or later Herrera, Navarro or Varela) for a trade deal. So, if this move angers the American "left" or right is immaterial to me. Colin Powell showed us exactly how Americans feel about us. He hasn't shown his face around here since 1989. If Obama turns out to be another Powell, he'll have to explain the 500% tariff on Microsoft and GE Torrijos would slap down.

I don't think Obama's that kind of guy, however. Obama knows better than to face off with Panama. He seems to have a broad world view and well understands the power of money versus a lot of "defense".

McCain's dangerous. So, whatever works for Obama works for me.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 2, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The FISA vote is just another case of Obama throwing you libs under the bus. Don't you realize by now that he'll do anything to get elected, that all that left wing BS he spouted during the primaries will get turned around 180 degrees during the general?

Posted by: Rob T | July 2, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Oh the drama! If I lived in the media/blog bubble only, I'd be convinced this was a death-knell for Barack - for July. And this after the death knell - in June - for his choice to stick with his more-relevant form of campaign finance reform, until he's elected, when the change will include: cutting off the campaign ad money spigot for MSM, giving equal air time to all candidates on the ballot for free, putting debates back in the hands of the League of Women voters and civic types not beholden to MSM.

I actually go out in my town and nearby cities in my district, to Obama organizing events to meet and train new volunteers. There was no death knell this weekend. There were 150, mostly new volunteers on a Saturday afternoon at our Unity event, from laborers to business owners, every color, age and creed.

It was a BBQ in a park, in a suburb that was closed to non-whites until just about three decades ago - it's one of the most diverse cities in the Bay Area now. I went from table to table. Only the campaign finance issue came up as a possible controversy. I asked what they thought - unanimous approval and many said they donated that very day.

Two days later, on a Monday after work, we held our small neighborhood meeting. Eight new and old volunteers, parents with their kids, again all ages, races and walks of life. We'll be bringing new blood to the local Democratic Club, to the relief of a new volunteer for Obama, 80 years young and a pillar of the Club and the community, and we're decorating the Dem Club float Thursday at her house, for our second-longest in the nation parade on July 4th. I live in a small city that was a Naval air station until 1997. Most families here came with the Navy. Most have family members serving now.

I posted local voter registration events coming up in the next two weeks; nine people signed up in less than 12 hours.

Former Clinton supporters have attended each event, and are signing up to volunteer in bordering battleground states already. We're organizing voter registration drives everywhere from local high school summer programs, to assisted living homes.

I understand media needs conflict to draw readers/viewers/listeners. It's not reality, though.

An irony I seldom see mentioned: I live in the former hotbed of radical activism, and the boomers you'd expect to be upset at this FISA issue and Obama mostly laugh when I ask them what they think. Their answer: Since when did laws stop paranoid or malicious presidents from spying on us?

Posted by: V in the Bay Area, CA | July 2, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Keith Olbermann: the overdue New York State Tax Warrant, Chinese American Trading Company the buyers of his real estate, the corporation

Keith Olbermann: the address from 2001 of his, the parents of Katy Tur and the civil actions

www.webofdeception.com

Posted by: Robert Lewis | July 2, 2008 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I gree with you.

This is why I said 200% Republican Victory: You got a Fake Boat with an idiot Captain, along with the wrong ammunition picked by the Captain.

The FISA Compromise will be the major mistake that Obama made (not surprising given his positions on death penalty and gun control) as well as that of the Democratic Party.

How can you fight a war without any Lethal Weapon? This game is over.

Posted by: peace4world | July 2, 2008 3:22 AM | Report abuse

'kingofzouk', this column is about FISA. Nothing to do with all this other stuff you've pathetically dragged in.

Clue: if you're going to post a link to the U of Chicago's explanation of what 'professor' means at their school, why didn't you post the whole thing to keep the context clear? Are you illiterate, or won't your Uncle Karl Rove let you do anything honest and straightforward?

It says:
"Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."

Posted by: Tom J | July 1, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I would be surprised if a majority of Americans know much about FISA, let alone care about this subject. The controversy over FISA though is considerably more than about the privacy rights of Americans. The Bush-Cheney administration, as documented in Al Gore's "The Assault on Reason" and other authors, has tried to undermine the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Most Republicans have supported numerous violations by the Bush administration of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and international law. The majority of persons in the media, with certain notable exceptions, seem inhibited from making these abuses of power the major news story it merits. Alas, the majority of Democrats have also been largely silent on these issues, generally giving in to Bush demands
or refusing to consider impeachment proceedings to try to correct these abuses of power.

Democrats who voted for FISA and who vote for the revision, which essentially placated the Bush-Cheney regime, are showing they clearly have little respect for the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. Politically I think this will not help Barack win the election, as his flip flop will be justly perceived as abandoning his previous, apparently sincere, devotion to basic constitutional liberties. The key is whether Barack continues to move to the center to try to win the election. Is his change in position on FISA an isolated action, or the beginning of a pattern which will continue?
He will lose the support of some progressives in the election if there are any similar actions, which represent him abandoning his progressive principles, especially relating to constitutional liberties.

Posted by: Independent | July 1, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Who is Olbermann?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

DWSUWF wrote [July 1, 2008 7:44 PM]:

"Frankly, I found this Olbermann "Special Comment" to be somewhat incoherent, as he apparently feels compelled to wrap superfluous caveats and insert two shots at Republicans for every mild criticism of the Obama flip-flop. That said, I liked that he explicitly urged Obama to do the right thing and either - join the opposition planning to filibuster the bill -or- explicitly state that an Obama administration will pursue a criminal prosecution of the Bush administration and Telco companies for violations of the original FISA law."

Olbermann's comment was incoherent because, intentionally, Obama makes his policies incoherent ("nuanced," dissembling) to achieve maximum wiggle-room and pander to the greatest numbert of consituencies, however they may clash. Olbermann's do-the-right-thing urging will bear effect like that of a Bushman's arrow hitting a foot-thick steel wall.

Though I would not vote for Obama, I have defended him against Neocon attacks, because, I hoped, Obama would be better than Neocon McCain. I decided to vote for Barr, to protest Democrat House and Senate members' selling out their progressive base. A Bob Barr vote will draw from McCain, not hurt Obama, but would tell Obama he is not good enough if just a much lesser evil.

I had struggled to get the mainstream press to expose McCain's being the tail of Cheney's jackal, Project for a New American Century (the founders, directors, and signatories of which are McCain's foreign policy and national security advisors, the same men who wrought the Iraq war and the frauds that made it happen). Surely, I deluded myself, Obama would not be nearly bad as McCain.

But now Obama has made me puke. After backing off his promise of talking unconditionally with Iran, after sucking up to AIPAC, after saying he opposes the death penalty then arguing we ought execute child-rapers who don't kill, and after shifting or guilefully "nuancing" his positions regarding too many other issues -- now Obama turns on everything he said about FISA and telecom immunity, and now, to pander to the Christian Right, he would create a faith-based federal program that would violate the first amendment.

Oh. Obama dissembled when he said the FISA Bill protects privacy well by providing Inspector General review.

The Bill lets government wiretap without individual warrants, just a mass one. But Obama (previously a U. Chicago Law School Constitutional Law teacher) knows (or surely ought to know) the 4th amendment requires a separate warrant for each individual surveillance (though a warrant can authorize an individual ongoing surveillance).

The Bill permits warrantless surveillance for 15 days (after which the government can "validate" its 4th amendment violation by getting a warrant ex post).

And if one reads the Bill very carefully, one sees its ambiguities let government tap a US citizen's communication made from the US to a US citizen located in the US -- though Obama and the Bill's other supporters insist, publically, that the Bill applies only to communications directed to non-citizens located abroad.

McObama (or is he Barack O'Bush-Cheney?) has bartered our liberty to attain Executive power.

In national leaders, evil is not a matter of degree -- as if a wrong is tolerable if measurably less than another. Murdering 1,000 is evil as murdering 50,000.

Obama IS a "change" candidate. He changes like Hillary & McCain. Oh, he doesn't lie -- like Hillary or McCain. He plays Bill's game: "It depends on what 'is' is." "Fellatio is not SEX."

"I said I want telecom accountability, to protect 4th amendment rights -- and I'd do all I could to block immunity.

"But the 4th amendment doesn't apply to telecoms. I meant I wanted accountability AND ALSO to protect 4th amendment rights (against Presidential intrusion). Notice the comma between 'accountability' and 'to protect' of my last paragraph.

"I did NOT say I'd trash national security -- when I said I want telecom accountability. And wanting is not the same as getting for unbearable cost -- cost like 'national security' loss.

"Yes. National security includes security of privacy. Soon I'll explain how destroying privacy makes privacy secure -- when I find the right prose.

"I saw -- yesterday -- that national security trumps telecom accountability despite telecoms invaded privacies of millions, millions of times. Telecoms will not secure privacy, by invading privacy (as we need), if they're accountable for invasions. So yesterday I saw that national security trumps privacy ... er, trumps accountability. I DID 'all' I could to block immunity. In this case, 'all' = nothing."

Obama is Bill wearing blackface. (Bill was the first Black president: he plays tenor sax.) Obama is Hillary after a sex-change operation. (Women lie. Men speak dissembling prose.)

Some say Obama will keep his progressive promises when President -- undo retroactive telecom immunity (though that may be unconstitutional), remove his nose from the recess of AIPAC's derriere. But if he may betray his last assurances as he betrayed earlier, contrary ones, he may behave even worse as President. Instead of shunning AIPAC, he may invade Iran. Instead of reversing telecom immunity, he may spy on us worse than Bush did.

But wait ! There's more -- more worry, horrific worry !

Skinner v. State of Oklahoma, Ex. Rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535 (1942), held that forced punitive sterilization is unconstitutional. Only with the most disingenuous legal dancing could the current Supreme Court hold valid the Louisiana chemical castration statute, which provides a form of punitive forced sterilization, and which Governor Jindal signed into law recently.

In Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), the Supreme Court bought into eugenics and upheld non-punitive forced sterilization of a mentally handicapped woman who conceived (or wanted to conceive) though her parents, grandparents, and great grand parents conceived mentally handicapped offspring. The Court said: "Four generations of idiots are enough."

That decision has been criticized severely (as outrageous, uncivilized) in numerous later Supreme Court decisions, and, likely, overturned by implication. See Skinner v. State of Oklahoma, Ex. Rel. Williamson, above, and later decisions. If it has been overturned, then forced chemical castration is unconstitutional (a due process clause violation) even if the state insists (and the federal courts agree) that it is a non-punitive, preventive measure.

One can argue respectably also that since women sex offenders occur but one cannot castrate a woman, a castrated male offender is denied equal protection. Or would Louisiana and Jindal "circumcise" a woman offender to discourage her offending again by denying her the chance of pleasure? Then what of the woman who has VAGINAL orgasms? Is SHE punished LESS -- so that the other woman is treated unequally?

How "astonishing" (?): A United States state elects to its governorship a lunatic who practices exorcism, believes "intelligent design" and wants it taught in public schools (and recently signed a statute of that effect), who wants state financing (voucher financing) of religious school attendance (and recently signed a statutes of that effect), and would impose a criminal punishment (or preventive eugenics) one would expect only in the most barbarous of barely civilized nations.

How "astonishing" (?): McCain -- win-by-any-means McCain -- may pick Jindal for VP running mate, because lunatic Christians might vote for the McBush ticket.

But what the Hell?

The Huffington Post reported that Obama wants to one-up Bush -- by installing an Obama version of federal support of faith-based initiatives. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/01/obama-plans-to-expand-bus_n_110140.html

Obama tried, with his usual "nuanced" explanation (read dissembling), to deny that his program would violate the first amendment:

"Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don't believe this partnership will endanger that idea - so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we'll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work."

The first amendment prohibits government-supported faith-based initiatives. SOME examples: (A) putting a crèche and crucifix in a court prosecuting a Jew for selling condoms on Sunday; (B) benedictions given in public school classes or graduation cerimonies; (C) government's funding religion-related activities of religious institutions; (D) government's funding a religious school's busing students (rather than parents' transporting their children to school); (E) government's funding church programs that commit religious discrimination.

Obama's pandering-to-Christians program (he ain't pandering to Muslims or Jews) WOULD violate the first amendment.

Government cannot ASSURE churches use government funds ONLY to finance purely secular acts that do not involve religious discrimination. But even if Obama COULD assure funds don't finance any religious institution's act related to the institution's religion, still his program would violate the first amendment.

The first amendment prohibits government's endorsing religion. Endorse religion is EXACTLY what Obama's program does --- endorses church "charity" (says it's needed, maybe better than state charity), and church "charity" is, always, an advertisement of religion.

Obama's program would be (Obama said) a "critical" part and "moral center" of his administration. So, his administration would BE an establishment of religion.

Obama said: "I ... see faith as...both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work...."

Though, alas, not yet the judiciary's standard, Jefferson's, Benjamin Franklin's, and John Adams's papers indicate that the fitting test is: Would fair-minded, objective, non-religious atheists perceive a challenged program endorses religion? That test is not the judiciary's because (contrary to Supreme Court politics) it would invalidate "In God We Trust" and the prayer sessions that start each day in Congress and the Supreme Court's having reliefs of the Ten Commandments on its walls.

In his excuse (see quote above), Obama mentioned he had taught constitutional law. I pity his students. I pity us because, likely, Obama will be President, but otherwise McCain will, and one can expect McCain will propose his own (worse) program of federal support of faith-based initiatives. I pity us more because, if near-dead McCain takes office with Jindal as VP, Jindal could become Prez by dint of McCain's "meeting his maker" (perhaps because Jindal performs an exorcism on McCain, to oust the now near-vanished "maverick" that had seemed to possess McCain's political body).

Vote for a 3d party candidate -- ANY 3d party candidate (Barr, Nader, the candidate of the Green Party, Socialist Party, Nudist Party, Kropotkinian Anarchist Party, Intergalactic Coalition of Atheist Pyramid-Wearers...), or write in Kucinich or Gore or Barbara Boxer or Henry Waxman or Russ Feingold or Lynn Woolsey or Chris Dodd. Show you won't settle for lesser evil. Mussolini was evil as Hitler despite he didn't harm so many or so much.

Posted by: Loup-bouc | July 1, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I think KO made some good points in his Countdown commentary that either way Obama votes the Right is going to aggressively go after him so therefore Obama should just go ahead and do the right thing and vote against the FISA bill.

Posted by: NashvilleColumbus | July 1, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the specifics of this issue particularly catch fire for your typical voter. In fact, as much as I oppose circumventing an already civil-liberties suspect FISA court, I don't think telecom companies should be held liable for the federal government pushing and pressuring them to break the law. This detail within a comprehensive bill will be left where it belongs, on the sidelines, once the national obsession with keeping the same position you held on every issue from the moment you entered electoral politics subsides.

Posted by: Steimel | July 1, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

The freedom with which civil liberties were set aside in the aftermath of 9/11 was indeed troubling. However, bad as they both were, the suspension of habeas corpus for US citizens in the absence of a rebellion was far worse than key word searches on citizens. In both cases the pendulum is swinging back. Even Osama bin Laden, if he survived his capture, would conceivably have one opportunity to have his bail denied, thanks to the Supreme Court. Thanks to the FISA bill, an erstwhile supreme executive is at least explicitly subject to judicial review. While the telecommunications industry is off the hook for now, whether or not they acted in good faith, that does not mean that they will remain that way under the next administration. It is likely that further adjustments will need to be made to have good guy and bad guy capabilities brought into balance in the digital age, and that will re-open the door to rules for adjustments for rules for eavesdropping and attendant civil penalties as well.

Right now, the FISA bill is filibuster-proof, and resistance is futile. Whatever vote Obama makes this time would simply be symbolic. A pledge to revisit the legislation would be a promise to change that outcome in reality.

Posted by: Publius | July 1, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I found this Olbermann "Special Comment" to be somewhat incoherent, as he apparently feels compelled to wrap superfluous caveats and insert two shots at Republicans for every mild criticism of the Obama flip-flop. That said, I liked that he explicitly urged Obama to do the right thing and either - join the opposition planning to filibuster the bill -or- explicitly state that an Obama administration will pursue a criminal prosecution of the Bush administration and Telco companies for violations of the original FISA law.

Olbermann makes much of the fact that the bill - (both the version that Obama opposes and the version that Obama supports) only provides immunity from civil lawsuits. Most constitutional experts understand that the possibility of criminal prosecution under this bill is a fantasy. It is important to remain focused on the bigger issue of stopping the expansion of executive power. In any case, I expect Obama to embrace neither of Olbermann's suggestions. Having already flip-flopped once on the issue, it just would not be politic for him to flop-flip back.

Posted by: DWSUWF | July 1, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

This shows two things:

First, Obama is the typical Washington politician engaging the politics of triangulation that he accused Hillary Clinton of engaging in. That "new politics" stuff was just a campaign slogan. Let's hope that the hope and change stuff was not.

Second, by not taking Obama to task, this shows that Keith Olbermann is not strong voice for the left he claims to be. He endeared himself to the leftists activists, the netroots, when he viciously attacked Hillary Clinton on his show. His behavior this week confirms what I first believed about his anti-Hillary rants during the primaries. He turned on her to expand his viewership into the younger, more affluent Obama demographic groups.

They are both opportunistic hypocrites and they deserve one another.

Posted by: Psychodrew | July 1, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama will make decisions all during his presidency that not all of us will agree with. Keep in mind, he knows all the wordings, amendments etc to these bills that we do not. I place my trust in
him to do what is best for us and our country.
What worries me is that Bush can still make decisions about our future. How
scary is that!!

Posted by: katiec | July 1, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Famous Obama Waffles, lets see he has had so many that its getting hard to count.

#1, Rev. Wright is my buddy and people have to understand where he is coming from, to Rev. Who?

#2, Jerusalem will be the capitol of Israel, to 'if that is what the peace process decides.

#3, I will accept public campaign funds, to It is my resposibility to not accept public campaign funds.

#4, I do not support FISA to I do support FISA.

Thanks man, no you won't get tagged as a wimpy liberal like Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. Nope.

Why don't we just hand McCain the keys to the white house now.

Posted by: DCDave | July 1, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Rule of law is paramount.

If Obama can bring himself to condone voting to exempt some segments of society from the legal effects of the law, he is in favor of and a supporter of every violation of the US Constitution that the Bush administration committed. Once you throw the principles out the window, you may as well toss out the dog, the cat, and the kids. Next we'll see legislation absolving the Bush people and their agents of civil and criminal responsibility for the war crimes they committed, and apparently Obama will be okay with that too.

I am now a FORMER supporter of Mr Obama. If I'm going to put a power mad megalomaniac into office, I'll vote for the one who's an original, duly minted NeoCon - not the fake. If McCain gets elected, you KNOW what you'll get. If Obama gets elected... what then? No one knows. He's apparently just a cheap Chicago shyster lawyer with delusions of grandeur.

I want to see "None of the Above" on the ballot, and I want to see a COMPLETE turnover in the congress. And as of now, I want to see Obama the shape-shifter and flop-flopper gone.

Posted by: nofluer | July 1, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

wmtate writes (in part):

"a program called Echelon monitored virtually every bit and byte of electronic communications in the United States without warrants"

Echelon does no such thing. If it did, Bush wouldn't need to create and expand a warrantless wiretapping program of his own.

There is no credible evidence that Echelon violates the 4th amendment. It gathers broadcast signals. To do as you suggest, one would need collusion with the telecommunications companies and to install servers into secret rooms on the backbone of the internet...oh wait, that's what Bush did with his program.

I know conservatives like to believe Clinton did every bad thing Bush is accused of and worse, but it just ain't so. Echelon is not and was not a felony breach of federal law, unlike Bush's program.

That is actually the explanation of why Democrats didn't get up in arms about it.

Posted by: Daniel De Groot | July 1, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

As a substantial but not "maxed" out contributor to Obama, I must say that the decision to support the FISA compromise has dimmed my enthusiasm and I'm sure that of others as well. It will be interesting to see what happens to his fund-raising as the support from the passionate ebbs away. Perhaps Hillary's big money people can make up the difference.

I will still vote for him because of the importance of the symbolism of having the free world and the United States led by something other than a WASP, however, future contributions will depend on his willingness to fight this election on progressive and not centrist ground.

Posted by: Fred Harder | July 1, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

So which way did Flip! Flop! Waffler,Liar
Barack Hussein Obama go today,since Obama
tells another new lie and flips and flops
and waffles like a fish out of water on
every issue that comes alone here as well.

So I bet if Messiah Barack Obama and his
weird wife Michelle Obama ate their kids
puppy and kitty live on national tv that
all the braindead drunk on Obama Kool Aid
Young Obamafools would cheer wildly! NOBAMA

Posted by: Sandy 5274 | July 1, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Why was the left not outraged during the 90's, when--as reported by the NY Times, 60 Minutes, and others--a program called Echelon monitored virtually every bit and byte of electronic communications in the United States without warrants?

Oh, I forgot. A Democrat was President then.

-Wm Tate,
http://www.atimelikethis.us/

Posted by: Wm Tate | July 1, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It is too late for Obama at this point. Every politician makes political decisions on policy issues. But Obama claims that he is a different kind of politician so as long as he makes this a political decision it will reinforce the McCain message that he is a regular politician.
WHat the Senator needs to do is what his principals dictate and then give a speech supporting that position if he succeeds in persuading people that he made the right decision it will show a level of leadership that will take him a long way.
In other words politically he needs to make this an apolitical decision.

Posted by: myhojda | July 1, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Olbermann, but he was right on last night. I think he's bad for the left, because he plays Bill O'Reilly's demonizing monologue game, but in a left leaning way, rather than being a change agent in the media by promoting principled and constructive dialogue.

Posted by: Stephen C. | July 1, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

If you are an Obama supporter against the FISA bill, please join the group "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right" on www.mybarackobama.com

It is currently the 4th largest group on the site!

Posted by: Kevin, PA | July 1, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Here is a message I have sent to the Obama campaign last Saturday:

Dear Mr. Burton,

I am writing you today to ask that you remind Senator Obama of his pledge on October 24, 2007 that he would filibuster any bill that granted retroactive immunity to the Telecom industry for its participation in illegal wiretapping. I am also writing to urge, in the strongest terms possible, that Senator Obama vote against the "compromise" bill in its entirety. I ask this because I believe this bill is a betrayal of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

I am a supporter of Senator Obama for President. My family has contributed financially to his campaign. I have stood outside in the snow and sleet of February to vote for him in the Kansas Democratic Caucus. I have waited for hours among a large crowd to hear him speak. I was thrilled to hear him deliver his Philadelphia speech on racial relations in the United States. I was proud to hear him state some hard truths on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. I cheered when he told automakers in Detroit that they needed to change their ways. When Senator Obama stood his ground and did not pander on gasoline tax reductions, I thought, "Yes, he can." In all of these situations he made good on his promise of "change."

For Senator Obama, then, to alter course on one of the most fundamental issues of our time is against everything that I have believed of him. My principal reason for not supporting Hilary Clinton (whose candidacy too was also an emblem of change) was because of her vote for the Iraq war. Specifically, I did not believe that hers was a principled stand; I thought she was practicing the traditional Clintonian "triangulation," so that if the war had been a success she would not have a vote against the war used against her.

Today, I have been forced by Senator Obama's statement that he would support the "compromise" bill, to see him in exactly the same light as Senator Clinton. This is a hard truth to swallow. I do not believe that Senator Obama thinks voting for this bill is the right thing to do, but rather, that it is the politically smart thing to do. As a Constitutional Law professor, Senator Obama knows that this bill is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment.

Senator Obama may believe that when President he will be able to resist the lure of an overreaching executive power that has been granted to him . He may believe that his character is unlike the current occupant of the White House. But this is not the theory behind the Constitution. The framers realized through their experience under the excesses of an unbridled executive (the Monarchy of England) and through their wide reading of history, both ancient and modern, that human beings can always be corrupted by power. And that those who believe that they cannot be corrupted are in the most danger. Indeed, the founders knew that the worst excesses of government were often carried out by those who thought they were doing good by exercising a corrupt power.

I am not an innocent. I have never believed that Senator Obama was beyond the lure of political necessity. At most I hoped that under the administration of a President Obama, we as a country would begin an incremental movement back toward the right path. The path of good government and constitutional principle. I prayed that we could stop using fear as the motivation for everything we do, and replace it with hope. I thought that we might begin again to practice our "civil religion" under the United States Constitution, the only religion that all Americans should be expected to profess.

But there are some issues too important, too central to the core of what we are as a country, to allow them to be thrown out as curious, worn-out relics of another age. As a colleague of Senator Obama's has stated, the founders of our country also had a pre-9/11 mentality. Their times were just as dire, indeed, they themselves were in much more danger from outside threats than we are today.

There is still time for Senator Obama to reverse himself on this issue. Please tell him to not go down the path of false compromise by abandoning our fundamental rights. I don't want to feel fooled again and to find out that a man whom I took to be a good man, and a man who just might bring us needed change, is just another politician.

Posted by: Tim Norris | July 1, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The American people have to weigh every word, phrase, TV anchorperson, news segment with complete thought! We cannot let any of these items mentioned guide us and be the deciding factor about Obama's campaign for the presidency. We have to yes, observe closely but not follow the bandwagon of loud merrymakers for the sake of gaining political points. We know who Obama is and I'm frankly sick and tired of the media saying no one knows who Sen. Obama is. They know! But this is just an excuse to make him outwork McCain, which he already has. Sen. Obama is all over the networks, TV, newspapers, magazines and people from all income levels call his name, each and everyday. Sen. Obama has a website for those of you who want to know more about his policies. You can even get in touch with Michelle. Enough said already!

Sen. Obama is the right choice!

Posted by: CHANGE | July 1, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Now Olbermann has no candidate - it doesn't get any better than that.

Posted by: Sigma2010 | July 1, 2008 1:57 PM

What happened to Lyndon Larouche?

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

It is a big, ongoing mistake to let mainstream TV media define the candidates for us. This is *entertaining*, but it is not *enlightening*. We'd learn as much from an Olberman v. O'Rielly pay per view fistfight than we do from either of their exaggerated superficial rhetoric.

Issues like Obama's compromise on this bill demonstrate very clearly how the process of statecraft often moves along very functionally, bringing divergent views into some form of working compromise.

There's a huge different of opinion about the need for FISA. The right wing correctly notes significant threats while also frothing about imaginary or trivial ones. Many liberals are ignoring real threats - choosing to attack neoconservative ideology rather than that of the terror groups and irresponsible governments who pose a very significant threat to global stability.

Despite the carping of pundits like Olbermann and his right wing contemporaries, both McCain and Obama are capable and reasonable, and both would compromise somewhat on many issues to preserve our complex and expansive democracy. I've heard both candidates frequently cite how important cooperation will be in the coming administration - let's celebrate that idea rather than let ratings-hungry blowhards knock it down.

Posted by: Joseph Hunkins | July 1, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Wesley Clark's record as NATO commander should be more closely examined. His hot-headed, vainglorious decisions got him a quick retirement. It is laughable that he should present himself as the authority on executive leadership. If, according to Clark, McCain's military service doesn't prepare him for Commander in Chief, what does that say about his candidate Obama whose only claim to military expertise is that his grandfather served in WWII? Clark is his own worst enemy and it is testimony to the process that he has been culled early in the campaign. The good news in this Cillizza article is the piece on Keith Olbermann, the self-appointed Che Guevarra of the new left, who may begin hacking away at Obama because of Obama's political moves to the center. Now Olbermann has no candidate - it doesn't get any better than that.

Posted by: Sigma2010 | July 1, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I argued that Obama should run in 2008 before he declared. I understood then that he was more liberal than myself, but I have supported him ever since. When it came down to McCain and Obama I thought, this is great two candidates I could vote for. I have voted primarily Democrat for state and national offices with the occasional Republican. I have NEVER voted for either a Republican or Democratic Presidential candidate. I guess this year will be no different. Making legal a technological infrastructure for state domestic spying with no real checks to balance it is distinctly non-democratic. It is either Bob Barr, the write in line, or not voting for President again - one less vote for either of them in Wisconsin.

Posted by: muD | July 1, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

As one whose 1st political campaign experience was as a Goldwater volunteer, and who left the GOP following the calculated racism of Nixon's (& his successors) "Southern Strategy," I believe this was a fundamental error on Obama's part, in that concern for individual and Constitutional rights are NOT just the province of the hypothetical Left. This was a missed opportunity to reach (non-neo) conservatives and independents concerned about the institutionalized excesses of FISA.

Posted by: PokeyBoy from Maine | July 1, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

"He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year."


http://www.law.uchicago.edu/media/index.html
more Lib lies exposed. Of course the actual resume is so thin, it needs fluff to fill out a single page.

I bet they somehow give him an honorary title, considering the earmarks involved.

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

bsimon writes:
"I think you misstate the need for FISA."

Perhaps my understanding of the bill is incorrect. I thought that the reason for the re-write of FISA is to establish that the FISA courts are the final authority for spying on us -- preventing the Bush administration (or any future administration) from claiming executive wartime powers for warrantless wiretapping.

I think the telecoms want immunity because they don't want to take the chance that what the Bush administration has declared to be legal will stand up in court (e.g., all the unitary executive stuff from Addington and Yoo). Plus, they are facing a bunch of lawsuits right now.

Posted by: mnteng | July 1, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

First, Olbermann. What a bore. He thinks he's God of the liberals - wrong, I'm one and I think he's a windbag. I cut him off after 5 minutes.

Second, Obama made a big mistake. He probably won't go under because of it but everyone - his supporters and the nonsupporters - are looking for this kind of flip flop. He set himself up as "holier than thou" so moves like this will cost him.

Posted by: bjm | July 1, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

mnteng writes
"I think the question is: do we need FISA? If the answer is "yes", then the follow-up question is how best to get there.
Would FISA be signed by GWB without telecom immunity? No.
Can a FISA free of telecom immunity garner veto-proof support? No.
So, then what is the alternative? Either no FISA or FISA with telecom immunity. The pragmatic solution is to compromise."

mnteng- I think you misstate the need for FISA. If the bill lapses, the FISA courts will not shut down. So far as I know anyway, the courts will merely revert to the way they were run for several decades. Again, my understanding is that this bill is one that changes the rules by which FISA operates - making it even easier for nat'l security agencies to eavesdrop without warrants. Without the bill they will have to go back to the allegedly onerous practice of asking for a warrant within three days of commencing surveillance. Note that this is AFTER commencing - not before. In other words: a fed agent identifies a new suspicious person who may be party to a crime (or party to a conspiracy to commit a crime). Agent X calls electronic ops team and says "put a bug on bad guy Y, tap his phone, monitor his email & web browsing - get me everything this guy does." Under the old FISA, within three days Agent X will have to get a warrant signed by a FISA judge that yes, he has probable cause to surveil bad guy Y. What's the burden? Where's the lost intelligence? What's the danger?

Lastly, why is retroactive immunity for telecoms a deal breaker? It is unconscionable that politicians would tie such immunity to a bill that is supposedly so critical to our ongoing safety. It seems to me that if the telecoms' past behavior is justified, there is no need for immunity.

Posted by: bsimon | July 1, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I think this was a major blunder by the Obama campaign, not a fatal one but very disappointing. The GOP is going to try and smear Obama as weak on fighting terror regardless of which way he votes here, but by voting for the so-called "compromise" he gives validity to the GOP's framing on the issue. Simultaneously, Obama has pricked a big hole in the enthusiasm balloon of the base that's buoyed his campaign so far.

McCain's only shot at winning in the fall is to control the framing of the major issues of the day, and if he can somehow deflate the broad enthusiasm for Obama. Obama's vote here was a two-fer for McCain along that path.

Posted by: BigBenInVA | July 1, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

zouk writes
"Actually guest lecturer."

Actually professor, if the U of Chicago is to be believed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

What this has done is open the eyes of those who were so mesmerized by Obama. I was never mesmerized but I did believe he had the potential to say what he means. Now I know he is just the run of the mill politician. Clinton did not try to pretend she was not a politician. But he did.

Both of course are required by their oath to protect the constitution. As a constitutional lawyer, he should know better than to support this bill as I understand it is so sloppily written. I may still vote for him, but I can tell you I have lost my motivation to go to the polls. Thats what politicians risk when they pull stunts like Obama did.

Posted by: Narnia | July 1, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Aren't there any people like me, who love watching Fox, so that I can hurl insults at them and their crazy views?

Posted by: FoxSux | July 1, 2008 12:24 PM

It seems that Libs now admit that facts are considered "crazy views" to them. Here are some real crazy views:

the economy is really messed up
the war is lost
teachers unions help kids
Liberals are frugal
Pelosi knows how to get things done
cooling proves warming
the government can solve all your problems if you just give them all your money

I cam see why you might want to stick with Olberman.

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama's backtracking is a major disappointment, not only because it is the moral low road but because the "race to the center" strategy does not work. There's a reason the "Democratic" Congress is now more popular with Republicans than Democrats. You don't see Republicans throwing their fundraising base under the bus the minute they have the nomination sewn up, but Obama can't seem to do it fast enough: in the past few weeks, MoveOn, Wes Clark, Regina Thomas, and even *hippies* for heaven's sake, have all been given the old heave-ho.

I am no ideological "purity troll," but I only want to compromise if I get something in return. The "centrist" strategy of appeasing the Right while showing contempt for your own supporters won't work any better for Obama than it did for Gore and Kerry.

Posted by: Julia | July 1, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Point 1 - FISA is not a voting issue

Point 2 - No one cares about FISA in the first place

Point 3 - FISA will be done with as soon as Bush is out, so now seriously no one cares.

Posted by: Brian | July 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I have trouble listening to Olbermann, part of it is his heavy-handed condescending manner of speaking. His habit of directly addressing Senator Obama? Come on. And part of it is his continued willingness to overstate the case. "Definitional fascism" (maybe he doesn't own a dictionary?) and calling the Bush administration the least democratic in history (maybe he isn't up on his early 20th century administrations).

The hardest part for me to swallow though is that he's absolutely correct. Obama's caught b/n a rock and a hard place here, and Olbermann offers him a pretty decent way out...what his suggestion doesn't take into account though is how cozied up to telecom companies Obama really is? It appears that maybe we shall see.

Posted by: Billy | July 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Come On Obama - You are better than that.
Fight, take a stand for what we all know is the right thing to do. No immunity for the Telecoms and share with the people what Bush did to Americans. As an embarrassed loyal Republican of 30+ years I was going to vote for you - now - this makes me think twice. Stay with your program and us the American Citizens and DO WHAT IS RIGHT!!!

Posted by: Dave Starks | July 1, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I think the question is: do we need FISA? If the answer is "yes", then the follow-up question is how best to get there.
Would FISA be signed by GWB without telecom immunity? No.
Can a FISA free of telecom immunity garner veto-proof support? No.
So, then what is the alternative? Either no FISA or FISA with telecom immunity. The pragmatic solution is to compromise.

The FISA debate aside, what fascinates me is the views by many BHO supporters and detractors.

Many BHO supporters view him as an avenging angel who will come down, smite the neo-cons, and restore the "liberal" values to the US. On the other hand, a lot of BHO detractors see him as the devil incarnate who will raise their taxes, surrender to terrorists, and force "liberal" values on the US.

Guys and gals, he's neither. He's a particularly adept and charismatic politician who has views you may or may not share. And he's human. Has anyone ever voted for a candidate with whom you have agreed 100% of the time?


Posted by: mnteng | July 1, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I guess if I was the almost certain next president, I'd change my mind about executive power grabs too. But it's absolutely amazing that Republicans don't realize that they're hoarding power for a throne they won't sit on for much longer.

Posted by: aleks | July 1, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

===========================================
"Cable Ranker: Week of June 16
Fox News Channel was the top rated cable news network again last week, in sixth place (1,542,000 average) in prime time (Live+SD). CNN finished 24th (851,000) and MSNBC 26th (711,000).

FNC and CNN saw drops week-to-week.

In total day, FNC was 9th (835,000), CNN 24th (533,000) and MSNBC 28th (404,000).

It would seem the market has only very limited tolerance for liberal propoganda and has an immense hunger for facts and truth - hence the ratings."

Posted by: no facts we're libs | July 1, 2008 11:50 AM
===========================================

Much is being made of viewer ratings of cable networks, especially Fox.
Implying that more viewers equates to more people in agreement with their views.

Aren't there any people like me, who love watching Fox, so that I can hurl insults at them and their crazy views?

Posted by: FoxSux | July 1, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Global Warming as Mass Neurosis
July 1, 2008
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the mass hysteria phenomenon known as global warming. Much of the science has since been discredited. Now it's time for political scientists, theologians and psychiatrists to weigh in.


another liberal boogeyman discredited.

al - bank that money offshore.

what's next? we're winning the war, the economy is strong, america is good?

Liberal sacrelige!

Posted by: WSJ today | July 1, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Doubly saddened today,
I had hopes that Obama was for change. It looks like he is only selling out. Will I vote for him? Most likely not *for* him,but I will vote *against* McCain and thus put my vote for the Democratic Nominee.
Today,in Obama's attempts to pander to those who will not vote for him anyhow, he stated that he supports 'Faith Based Initiatives'.

I'm afraid, what faith I may have had in Obama's call of change has been lost.

Posted by: Grey | July 1, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

What's most striking about Obama's FISA cave (forgetting for a moment how objectionable this bill is) is his campaign's sudden inability to gauge the political winds. The populace, including even the far right, is currently trending unmistakably to the left, degree by degree. Yet for all its modernism and cutting-edge maneuvers in the Democratic primary, the Obama campaign has somehow been forced into a time machine. It's apparently 2004 again. If they know what's good for them, the Obama team will get back on track in a hurry, given that they risk alienating not only their base, but the most ascendent segment of the political spectrum (i.e., progressives).

Posted by: Tank | July 1, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Obama has to buy "homeland security" political insurance because the possibility exists for symbolic attacks at any time.

There have been at least six instances of elevation of the HSC Advisory System Level or Orange or Red since its institution-ie
September 10, 2002 - Raised from Yellow to Orange White House Press Release: The U.S. intelligence community has received information, based on debriefings of a senior al Qaeda operative, of possible terrorists attacks timed to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States.
Warnings for financial institutions-2004
Warnings for transportation systems-2005
August 10, 2006 - Raised from Yellow to Red for flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States;
Press Conference - The United States government has raised the nation's threat level to our highest level of alert -- Severe, or Red -- for commercial flights originating in the United Kingdom and bound for the United States. We've made this adjustment to coordinate our alert level with that currently enforced in Britain. Second, as a precaution against any remaining threats out there, and we also want to take steps to prevent any would-be copycats who may be inspired to similar conduct. Accordingly we are raising the threat level, or we have raised the threat level, with respect to aviation in general, to High, or Orange. That will cover all in-bound international flights, other than flights from Great Britain, and it will cover all flights within the United States itself.
Statement
August 13, 2006 - Lowered from Red to Orange for flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States; remains at Orange for all domestic and international flights.
This page was last modified on June 15, 2007

Posted by: mesondk | July 1, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I hereby promise not to flip-flop on any more promises.

Except this one.

Posted by: snObama | July 1, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Obama will be smeared no matter what his positions or votes. All bills are filled with stuff that has little to do with the bill's main purpose and which can be used against those who vote for or against the bill.

Barack has been doing something few others bother to do. He has been analyzing bills to see whether the good outweighs the bad. You may disagree with his weightings, but you shouldn't impugn his methods.

I happen to disagree with his decision on this bill. I also disagree with his comments on the recent gun law decision of the Supreme Court. The second amendment proclaims the right of "the people" to bear arms, which is very different from the right of "people" to bear arms. The latter belongs to the localities, not the federal government.

I do hope that Obama becomes President and hope even more that upon assuming the presidency, he immediately acts to make our government more open and accountable. This issue far exceeds various bills in importance. Secrecy in government should be the exception rather than the rule.

Posted by: Harry, Los Angeles | July 1, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to say the FISA bill alienates him from his base. The whole reason that I supported him and was passionate was b/c I thought he was smart enough to realise he didn't have to cave to these GOP attacks. Instead of donating to him as I was planning to today, I'm going to give to the DCCC. If he continues this pattern, i think a lot of wind will be taken out of the sails of his supporters - like me.

Posted by: gradstudent | July 1, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This is just the inherent danger as Obama moves to the center on most issues. It's not particularly dramatic.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: mattIt' | July 1, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama's position on FISA neither helps nor hurts him.

The most controversial part of the FISA amendment is not the expanded surveillance measures it allows for--it's the issue of telecom immunity. Supporting the bill allows Obama to take credit for backing fairly common-sense measures that enjoy strong support with intelligence/national-security apparatchiks. With Obama's stated position on telecom immunity, his support for the FISA bill has the added benefit of appearing to prioritize national security issues over a desire for some kind of national atonement for this Administration's sins (real or imagined).

Even though this has Obama's netroots and the MoveOn.org crowd up in arms, Obama's position here probably helps him a little with independents, or at least dampens their concerns that an Obama Administration would be spineless on national security.

So ultimately this is a fairly neutral thing for Obama to do, in terms of his level of support. After a couple more rousing speeches, and as the Obama campaign goes on the media offensive, this issue should cease to be a drag with his base on the left.

Posted by: DJR | July 1, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

If this was the 2004 election with John Kerry as the nominee, it would only alienate his supporters and not keep Republican critics at bay. Due to his relative newness to the national stage, as Obama's has less political baggage than Kerry did in 2004, as well as superior oratory skills, making it easier to counter the argument that Obama is soft on terrorism.

Posted by: James Hauser | July 1, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

In consideration of the Independence holiday this week, I would like to offer some additional change.

I offer to retroactively surrender to Britian for the two wars we fought and allow them complete sovereignty over us again. Our history of bellicosity must be repaired and this is a good start.

Posted by: snObama | July 1, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Yes. It hurts...big time. And the Repubs love it. He even said he would lead the filibuster against any bill that had immunity for the telcos. And now that he got the nomination, he's just another flip flopping, tell them what they want to hear when it's convenient, type politician.

Posted by: inquisitor | July 1, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Cable Ranker: Week of June 16
Fox News Channel was the top rated cable news network again last week, in sixth place (1,542,000 average) in prime time (Live+SD). CNN finished 24th (851,000) and MSNBC 26th (711,000).

FNC and CNN saw drops week-to-week.

In total day, FNC was 9th (835,000), CNN 24th (533,000) and MSNBC 28th (404,000).

It would seem the market has only very limited tolerance for liberal propoganda and has an immense hunger for facts and truth - hence the ratings.

Posted by: no facts we're libs | July 1, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Countdown overtook the O'Riley Factor in viewership months ago.

Posted by: aBigSAM | July 1, 2008 11:39 AM

Why do you Libs always believe anything you read. Is math really that hard for you. here's some math for you: AL gore has made over 100 Million dollars on carbon offsets. someone ought to seize his windfall profits.

the cable ratings:

The Scoreboard: Thursday, June 26
25-54 demographic: (L +SD)

Total day: FNC: 241 | CNN: 170 | MSNBC: 127 | HLN: 89

Prime: FNC: 476 | CNN: 290 | MSNBC: 252 | HLN: 182
5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:

FNC Ingraham: Hume: Shep.: O'Reilly: H&C: Greta: O'Reilly:
226 288 292 583 519 326 309

CNN Blitzer: Blitzer: Dobbs: Brown: King: Cooper: Cooper:
112 139 235 266 251 352 246

MSNBC Hardball: Gregory: Hardball: Countdown: Abrams: Countdown: Special:
116 88 165 373 218 165 216

HLN Prime: Prime: Beck: Grace: Beck: Grace: Showbiz:
90 69 83 217 148 195 140

Through Wednesday night, FNC averaged 346,000 viewers between 8-11pm (live +SD) for the second quarter. CNN averaged 300,000. MSNBC averaged 269,000. The quarter officially comes to an end this Sunday.

"CNN is up 24% in prime-time, while Fox is down," CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson, told Gold. Robinson also added that CNN did not build new sets for its political coverage. "The trends are clearly in our favor," she said.

Shine retorted, "The only current trend is CNN losing their momentum and battling MSNBC for second place." Zing!


Sorry for the facts Libs, I hope your allergies don't react too badly.

http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/ratings/default.asp


Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Paul Kruger (writes: 'To his credit he voted against an illegal war'), When will you people get it through your heads: Obama never never never voted against the Iraq War. He made a speech against it before he became a Senator. Since then he voted for all 'war bills' as did Hillary. As did McCain.

Posted by: judith weingarten | July 1, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The criminal/civil distinction is a fig leaf. No telecom is going to face criminal liability for spying at the request of the government. That's entrapment. You lefties can tell yourself that Obama is going to hammer the telecoms in criminal court, but I guarantee you that none of them - not one - will face criminal charges.

Posted by: Criminal | July 1, 2008 11:23 AM

*******************

Sorry to dissappoint you but us "lefties" are not interested in prosecuting telecom companies who merely complied with the Bush Administration demands for domestic survelance, only the prosecution of the Bush Administration officials who demanded it.

Posted by: aBigSAM | July 1, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Why Scrivener (ID below) is raising the "Gang Stalking/Community Stalking" issue:

WARANTLESS WIRETAPPING IS THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG...

PEOPLE (INCLUDING JOURNALISTS) ARE BEING UNJUSTLY TARGETED AND SCAPEGOATED.

IT'S "ORGANIZED VIGILANTE STALKING" (A/K/A "GAND STALKING"/"COMMUNITY STALKING")

AND IT'S HAPPENING ALL OVER AMERICA.

Why hasn't the mainstream media "connected the dots"? As poster Dave Johnson noted in the first entry on this blog, the warantless wiretapping began BEFORE 9/11. It's just part of a frightening mosaic that already has nullified the rule of law and the constitutional right of due process under the law.

People are being targeted for ruin -- financially, socially and physically -- by an organized campaign of vigilantism that some victims believe is funded and supported my multiple levels of government. The phenomenon, which has yet to break through to the mainstream media, is commonly known as "gang stalking" and "community stalking." But that nomenclature tends to trivialize the issue. This is a re-emergence of the KKK, the Stazi and the Gestapo. It is mob rule seemingly coordinated and condoned by rogue elements within the power structure.

This link explains it, and contains sublinks to additional information:


http://citizensoulpower.wordpress.com/2007/09/21

Those who raise this issue find that their computer connections are subject to frequent interruption and tampering. Their ability to freely communicate is severely circumscribed. Their careers are ruined, their reputations are slandered, and their physical well-being is placed in serious jeopardy. The link explains how this is done.

http://citizensoulpower.wordpress.com/2007/09/21

I am a former investigative/business reporter/producer for major newspapers and TV stations. And I have been a victim of organized gang stalking for more than four years. I have contacted media outlets, but I find that there is a concerted effort to destroy my credibility. My name is Victor Livingston and my telephone number is (215) 295-0852. My email is erratic and I can't rely on its veracity. If you are a fellow journalist, please help me get the word out. I have tried to go through "the system," so far to no avail.

If you know Sy Hersh, please send him this post (that is, if it goes through...)

Posted by: scrivener | July 1, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"professor of Constitutional law"

Actually guest lecturer. the resume puffing that was done was out of hand. I even claimed to write a law I didn't even vote for. But I really need you gullible true believers to stay with me down the stretch.

Posted by: snObama | July 1, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I have a genuine question...

How did George Bush move to the center in 2000, and how is John McCain currently moving to the center? Has McCain post-primary made any moves to the center that have been forcefully touted?

Posted by: justmy2 | July 1, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

CC - only the moonbats watch this show. they gat about 600K viewers compared to O"Reilly at 4M. Why do you think MSNBC is 27th ranked cable - it stinks and Krazy Keith should be labled "comedy" although Carlin was much, much better and actually a funny liberal. Olberman is deranged.

Isn't is clear to all now that Obama will say and do anything he thinks will advance his avarice?

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 11:30 AM

******************

Apparently you haven't heard. Countdown overtook the O'Riley Factor in viewership months ago.

Posted by: aBigSAM | July 1, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

For those who will, choose reality: FISA reform was and is necessary to deal with threats to national security which have changed since the original version of the bill. For the majority of Democrat voters, this issue is a non-starter and reflects only the extreme (hysterical) left of the party.

Posted by: michaeln | July 1, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I really agree with Ollberman on this one.

I was, to say the least, disappointed with Obama's blatant flip on this one.

I've got a friend that is much older and has been progressives much longer than I have. I was a registered 'Rebushagain' up until 11 months ago. I voted for GWBush twice, regretfully. I didn't know our morals were being used against us. I've been doing my homework as of late.

Anyway, my friend, who I respect, is 50 years old and a Social Worker.... He's intense to say the least. A sort of queit intensity. When he speaks to me about these things, it causes a desire to see right done by our politicians, to burn within my heart. He didn't condemn Obama for making this political decision.

He said, "I believe he has a good reason. He has to make some decisions and changes because otherwise he won't be in a position to make the changes that he really would like to make, that will benefit everyone concerned." I wrestled with this idea for days.

Yesterday Ollbermans Comment really cleared some things up for me. This is 2nd chance number two for Obama. In this FISA bill the 'Party of Ideas' has really set itself up. Justice can actually be served.

My prayer, is that Senator Obama, if elected, will not be a political coward. I need to see that fighting spirit in him. I got a small glimpse of it yesterday when he gave his speech on Patriotism. I won't break from supporting him. I'm there. I just hope he is really taking a good look at what he's doing. I believe he and his wife are brilliant, and have a brilliant team working with them.

I'm almost done with his book, 'The Audacity of Hope'. It's one of the most mentally healthy books I've ever read outside of the writings of C.S. Lewis.

I'll say this, Ollberman said it right yesterday. Senator Obama has to get past this idea that he can be perfect and accept the fact that his imperfections are things to learn and grow from. God will reward the right intentions even if others stand in the way.

Respectfully,

need4trth

Posted by: need4trth | July 1, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

If his colleagues in the Senate and House are not willing to get out there with him on this (and I think they should, but they won't), except for martyrdom, I fail to see the upside for Obama. The fear-mongering Republicans would use his stand to try to hurt him and he wouldn't have accomplished anything.

As an aside, the Dems need to stop using a sliver majority as an excuse for folding to the will of the minority for pity's sake. What is with that massive funding of Bush's war? Where are the benchmarks? If they want to effect the price of gas, why aren't they saying unequivocally, NO WAR IN IRAN! I give to Obama , but I have little enthusiasm in giving financially to the national party because, Keith Olbermann is right, they are wimps.

Posted by: Sara B. | July 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I expected more from a professor of Constitutional law. It is disappointing to see him embrace a 'compromise' bill that ignores and overrides important principles of our system of government that are supposed to include checks and balances between the three branches of government.

Posted by: bsimon | July 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

One more thing:

The issue of immunity and respect for our laws and Constitution apply equally to Senator McCain.

Both candidates have as their first and only legal responsibility to America is as seated Senators. Their candidacy for president is nothing more than glorified self-promotion in hopes of obtaining a new job.

RIGHT NOW they are both Senators with an obligation, by oath, to uphold the law and the Constitution and to protect Americans from abuses of power.

Posted by: Paul Kruger | July 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

If there is one thing Barack Obama has shown in his time here in Illinois, it is that he is willing to solve problems via compromise. He clearly understands that there is a balance here between the needs of law enforcement and the issue of immunity. I am a lefty, but even I understand that this is not a perfect world, especially with a veto-happy executive and Congress that can't seem to get much done.

I know that Olbermann is smart enough to understand that, while holding the line on something like this is rhetorically satisfying, Obama wants to be seen as someone bipartisan and committed to working through problems. Does that mean he's turning to the ideological center? Is it a conscious shift for political purposes? Perhaps.

Or perhaps he is just deciding it's time for Congress to actually get something done for a change.

http://ilfamilypolitics.blogspot.com

Posted by: Julia Kelly | July 1, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

CC - only the moonbats watch this show. they gat about 600K viewers compared to O"Reilly at 4M. Why do you think MSNBC is 27th ranked cable - it stinks and Krazy Keith should be labled "comedy" although Carlin was much, much better and actually a funny liberal. Olberman is deranged.

Isn't is clear to all now that Obama will say and do anything he thinks will advance his avarice?

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 1, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

There is a profound difference between "moving to the middle" to get votes and violating one's oath of office.

Right now Obama is NOT the president but he IS a Senator who has sworn an oath of office to uphold the constitution.

He is being paid for that job. To his credit, he has opposed that bill in the past.

To his credit he voted against an illegal war.

It will NOT be to his credit to enter a vote in favor of immunity for criminal acts. That would be a betrayal of anyone who sees his candidacy as a promise of change.

Posted by: Paul Kruger | July 1, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Obama has lost our votes, and we will
encourage everyone we can to not vote
for him -- this flip-flop is too much,
and brings into question how really
grounded he is in pursuit of the
presidency.

Posted by: Sirius2 | July 1, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The criminal/civil distinction is a fig leaf. No telecom is going to face criminal liability for spying at the request of the government. That's entrapment. You lefties can tell yourself that Obama is going to hammer the telecoms in criminal court, but I guarantee you that none of them - not one - will face criminal charges.

Posted by: Criminal | July 1, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Please add a correction, the warrantless wiretaps were NOT in the "wake" of 9/11 but started prior. And since they did lack a warrant, you might want to mention Obama is violating his oath of office by not defending the Constitution.

Posted by: blogswarm | July 1, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Oops! I said "Howard Dean" in my post and it should have read "John Dean." (I knew it was a "Dean" but I juxtexposed the first names)

Posted by: aBigSAM | July 1, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Look, we all know why Obama's tacking towards the center: everybody has to do it to pick up swing voters. I don't fault him for doing what basically every other candidate does.

The problem is that "every other candidate" didn't run as an agent of change, a different kind of politician, one who doesn't play the cynical games that everyone else plays to get elected. Obama has run as a reformer, as something different, and he has reaped praise and adoration for his "principled" stands. Well, he's not principled. He's not different. He's no better or worse than any other politician.

That's fine. I don't care that he's a run-of-the-mill Democrat. But can we finally at long last stop praising this guy for being different? He's not.

Posted by: AK | July 1, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

What the article failed to note, but Olberman's interview with Howard Dean revealed, is that the new FISA bill does not exempt anyone from CRIMINAL prosecution but the old bill did.

What the new FISA bill as well as the old one prohibited was CIVIL lawsuits against the telecoms. This in a way is no big deal because of the 40 lawsuits that have been brought thus far, all were dismissed for lack of standing. If you cannot prove that you were in fact specifically subjected to illegal survelance, you cannot bring a case. Since only the government and the telecoms have the only proof (and they don't allow fishing expeditions) successful civil litigation is extremely unlikely.

So Obama kept his options open to take criminal action against the existing administration and the telecoms after taking office. The new FISA bill only prevents civil lawsuits for financial settlements by citizens, which are already prevented anyway due to lack of proof.

I'm not exactly happy about this, and I don't think Obama is either, but I hope the left soon realizes the distinction between the old and new FISA bills before going off on Obama.

Posted by: aBigSAM | July 1, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"Contrast that to Libertarian Bob Barr, who immediately denounced the bill as an assault on our Bill of Rights freedoms."

Is that before or after he started dissembling over his vote for the Patriot Act?

The GOP should be happy a libertarian is around - so long as Bob Barr is there, no one notices how lazy McSame is.

Posted by: bondjedi | July 1, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately all the FISA issue is is another excuse for different groups such as leftie liberals, female Hillary supporters, closet racists, etc etc etc to get on these blogs and YELL - I WILL NEVER........ or I AM NOW A MCCAIN VOTER.... feeling smug and complecent they forget that "winning" their particular battle can be deterimental to the overall cause of winning the war.

Posted by: nclwtk | July 1, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Obama will be thrilled to know that the Senate Democrats have signed an agreement to follow his vote on legislation such as FISA without any other considerations. Oh, wait - he's only one vote (and the House has already passed this; does that mean he's to blame for their passage???).

Does anyone actually believe his take is the reason this bill is going to pass? The realities are: a) too many Democratic legislators (House and Senate) just want this to go away and want to avoid being labeled as weak on security/terrorism/patriotism/etc.; b) most of the general population have little understanding about the bill, don't care about the telecom company provisions and have been scared into believing that we're guaranteed to have another 9/11 if this doesn't pass because we'll never be able to overhear plotters setting up another attack via their cell phones if we don't have this available.

Bottom line is that being a good political leader often means acknowledging reality, even if you'd prefer not to. The bill is flawed - everyone here knows it; most of the people "out there" neither know nor care. They're tired of hearing conflicting stories about it; they want to feel safe and have been convinced that they won't be safe without the bill.

What does Obama gain in the large scheme of things by refusing to acknowledge that the vast majority of people want this done? Nothing; the ones whinikng the most about his decision are going to vote for him anyway, given the McCain alternative. What does he gain by facilitating its passage - recognition that he's willing to accept non-perfection in order to help make things happen, which is a major CHANGE in perspective from the way things have been done for too long.

And, one more thing for those ponificating most strenuously about his betrayal - do you REALLY believe the telecom companies would ever have been found guilty of illegal actions if they didn't get this relief via the current FISA bill? They would have hid behind "the government told us it was legal" and there would have been sufficient reasonable doubt to get them off with a wrist slap at worst.

I, for one, am glad that Obama is willing to face reality, even if I would have liked the telecom companies to get hammered like they deserve. A willingness to think and decide based on reality, after 8 years of willful, obstinant ignorance, makes it much easier to vote for Obama - and I'm a long-time registered Republican.

Posted by: JK5432 | July 1, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I would think that he could have voted against this and the voters outside the beltway would not miss a beat if McCain hit him on it. The lefties are going to vote for him anyway so no biggie here.

I always wonder why people (a small percentage of them to be sure) would watch a sportscaster talk politics.

Posted by: E from SC | July 1, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Obama's approach with FISA seems totally in context with his other positions just now. Obama had surprisingly moderate comments to make bout the Supreme Court decisions handed down last week. He agreed that the second amendment gun ownership right is an individual right and even disagreed about the Supreme Court decision against the death penalty for child rape. So voting for the compromise FISA bill is just another case of Obama running to the center following the primary season.

The only Democratic candidates in the past 40 years to actually win the presidency have done so by running well among independent voters and people of faith (Carter and Clinton). This is just another example of Obama taking a position that will appeal to moderates. Obama is in a much more advantageous position within his party than McCain is within his. McCain is still forced to try to pander to his base since it is a real worry that evangelicals and hard line social conservatives may not vote for him in November unless he only says and does things that pass their litmus tests.

MoveOn.org et. all may not like his FISA stance, but Obama is still going to get their votes in November. Obama can take the hard left a bit more for granted than McCain can take the hard right - and having several Bill Clinton-like "Sister Souljah" moments where he panders to the center at the expense of the far left only helps him overall. His Father's Day speech where he attacked absent fathers while speaking at an african american church was one such moment. His speech yesterday where he spoke so eloquently about patriotism "...it is this essential American idea -- that we are not constrained by the accident of birth but can make of our lives what we will -- that has defined my life, just as it has defined the life of so many other Americans" was another. That line could have been made at the GOP convention. And it makes the core GOP argument against him "He's the most liberal senator ever!" just sound stupid.

Posted by: snodman | July 1, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama's "change" on FISA is no different than all the other flip flops he's had. What bothers the ulta-lefties is this is an issue dear to their hearts. I suggest they buck up; there is much more flopping to be done from now until November.

Posted by: thinkwithyourbrain | July 1, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Sharon S wrote:

"I think both of these principled, intelligent people have made a big mistake for very little possible gain."

How can you still call Obama "principled" with a straight face?

Posted by: AK | July 1, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Are there people who will change their opinion favorably to Obama because of his support of the FISA bill? I don't know of any, but I guess there must be some. I think Obama is counting on the liberals like me who feel a great deal of loyalty towards him to still support him despite his support of this terrible bill. I am also very upset that my wonderful congressman, Mark Udall, has seen fit to actually vote for the bill, in his desire to gain support from conservative Coloradoans for his Senate race. I think both of these principled, intelligent people have made a big mistake for very little possible gain.

Posted by: Sharon S | July 1, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't pretend to understand the whole 'immunity thing' completely, but imo it's a "what did they know and when did they know it" situation. If they acted in good faith and thought the President was acting legally within his 'war time powers', I can't see the point of prosecuting them. I haven't seen any evidence they were trying to undermine their country or destroy it, but they honestly believed they were doing their part to defend it. As I see it, it was THEIR trust in the government which was betrayed by Team Bush.

Stick to prosecuting Team Bush. Otherwise it's like Abu Ghraib where the people at the very bottom of the stack were prosecuted, and the ones calling the shots got off scot free.

I want all U.S. companies to support the people of the U.S. the best they can. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" isn't a helpful policy to encourage them to do so.

Posted by: Tom J | July 1, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

This is surreal. Obama adopts a position that last week the left was calling "fascist," and instead of criticizing Obama for his new position, the left's only responses are to complain that the Evil Republicans will use this as an opportunity to accuse Obama of flip-flopping.

Posted by: Mini-Me | July 1, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

What's the problem? Obama has tacked back to the left now on gay marriage. Isn't that what progressives really care about?

Posted by: not fooled | July 1, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Obama is trying to have it both ways. That's not change, it's political posturing. Too bad he couldn't have voted "present" as he did in Illinois.

Posted by: brigittepj | July 1, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

We are a strong nation because we value our civil liberties. Allowing a president, any president, to infringe on those without proper and rigorous court oversight takes away our nation's core strength. Obama will get no campaign contributions from me.

I served 21-years in the military to safeguard those liberties and will defend our nation against anyone willing to take them away.

Posted by: Sue Ri | July 1, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The executive ignoring FISA courts is a libertarian concern as opposed to a liberal or conservative one.

I am unwilling to discuss the significance of the compromise here without having read the bill. When I have read it, I will have an opinion.

Somehow a nation that has not read the bill is supposed to determine if BHO [or McC] is anti-libertarian for voting for it. Then based on that first hollow inference, we pile another: that anti-libertarianism will hurt BHO with "liberals". Then we are asked to guess if those two inferences will cause either voters or donors to stay home.

As I think mnteng has said: "meh".

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 1, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Can someone on the left please explain this to me:

Now that the FISA program has Obama's blessing, is it still "fascist"?

Posted by: Moose O'Leany | July 1, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"as long as [Obama] goes no further with compromises to the Democratic values and positions I can live with this."

Now that's Change We Can Believe In(tm)! Yes, this is truly New Politics. It's free of the cyncism of Old Washington. This is exactly the kind of political posturing that defines "hope."

Man, this Barack Obama is a completely new kind of politician! We've never seen anything like him before!

Posted by: AK | July 1, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Bob Barr is pro-stripper too! What's not to like?

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 1, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Bob Barr is pro-stripper too! What's not to like?

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 1, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I for one was very happy to listen to Keith's comment last night because he addressed it to Barack and he spoke as I would have wanted to speak to Barack, however much more eloquently. This decision on FISA is the equivalent of splitting hairs in response form. When he gets attacked for not wanting to protect the country, is he gonna seriously argue, look at my vote on FISA? Or does he believe that there will be an attack and he's trying to position himself? Either way, he's gonna be painted as weak on national defense. What's more, Keith touched up on what I noticed as well: especially in the same news cycle as his campaign finance decision, with which I agree, republicans immediately began to attack him on his ever-changing positions. That is worse than being painted as weak on defense b/c if you dig deep on that issue, you wont find anything but republican scare-mongers; however, if they attack him on changing positions, dont they now have a pattern to work with?

Posted by: Eric | July 1, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"the wiretapping program started BEFORE 9/11. That's the point. It started at a time when the bush people were ignoring al Queda and potential terrorism. SO why did they set up this program?"

Perhaps "the bush people" weren't "ignoring al Queda" after all.

Ever think of that, or are you incapable or realizing when you're holdng two directly contradictory positions?

Posted by: AK | July 1, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

As a person who would consider left wing, it is bothers me that Obama is supporting this very flawed piece of legislation.

On the other hand I have seen to many elections where Republicans have intimidated and attacked candidates on lack of patriotism.

This is a complicated issue that people will not fully understand and therefore could be used as a wedge issue.

Realizing this I can understand Obama's not wanting to use the issue and the public's perception of it to attacked.


as long as he goes no further with compromises to the Democratic values and positions I can live with this.

We really need to defeat the Republican stranlehold on our country.

Posted by: toldyouso | July 1, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The FISA sell-out shows Obama can't be trusted to defend our fundamental civil liberties. Contrast that to Libertarian Bob Barr, who immediately denounced the bill as an assault on our Bill of Rights freedoms. Bob Barr is anti-war, pro-Bill of Rights, and he's getting my vote.

I predict Barr -- who has worked with the ACLU and other lefty civil liberties groups in recent years -- will start taking more votes from the left as well as the right, as people begin to realize he's pro-freedom and pro-peace across the board.

Posted by: James W. Harris | July 1, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cillizza, way to ignore that Olbermann has defended Obama's change of position of FISA, even though Olbermann previously called what is now Obama's position "fascist." Olbermann's a hack, and he has demonstrated that he's in the tank for Obama no matter what he does. Why doesn't that get a mention?

Posted by: AK | July 1, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Chris - as a "liberal activist" let me be the first to explain what has us so concerned: the wiretapping program started BEFORE 9/11. That's the point. It started at a time when the bush people were ignoring al Queda and potential terrorism. SO why did they set up this program?

Posted by: Dave Johnson | July 1, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Obama's attempt at trying to position himself in the center is a fundamental misreading of both the electorate and Independent voters in general. The biggest myth in politics is that Democrats are liberals, Republicans are conservatives, and Independents are centrists or moderates. Thus, in the general election, the battle ground is always in the center to appeal to this center. The reality is that most Independents are really Repubs or Dems who don't want to register with a party. The partisan breakdwon in the US to day is 40% Dem, 30% Repub, 30% Indep. Of the 30% Indep, about 15% are Dem and 10% are Repubs. The remaining 5% are truly the people who could go back & forth in their voting. Most of these voters are low-information voters who won't understand FISA or any attempt to adopt a Republican position on Obama;s part.

What Obama does on FISA will not gain any additional low-information voter or gain any vote for him. After all, if one believe that the Bush/McCain position is correct on FISA and Obama agrees to it, then that person would still vote for McCain.

Obama should have said that his responsibility is not to defend telecoms or administration officials, but to the Constitution. If I were Obama, I would look for any and every opportunity to publicly go on the record AGAINST George "28% Approval" Bush. Look what happened on the talking to our enemies issue. Any time, the story is Bush & McCain vs. Obama -- Obama Wins !

Posted by: Jack | July 1, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

First off, that Barack Obama is beholden to the liberal left is an odd assertion best left to the Sean Hannitys of the world.

We have seen what eight years of the Bush regime's ideological purity has done to this country. Manipulating 50.0000001% of the country has enriched and ennobled the president's cronies but left the rest of us holding the bag with 5 dollar a gallon gas, a foreclosure on every block, and a noble cause in the Middle East that is now a quagmire.

God bless Obama for having the balls to move past the black-and-white, up-and-down passions that pass for discourse, and to hell with the gutless John McPander, who lacks a political spine and is seeking to prop up his candidacy on the ruins of the current administration.

Posted by: bondjedi | July 1, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Maybe MoveOn will take out an ad:

Senator Betray-us

Posted by: Ryan | July 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Republicans will campaign on their old talking points regardless of the climate of the times. Note the quick painting of Obama as the most liberal man on the planet shortly after securing the nomination. How he will say anything to win. Republicans will march to a "Liberals are weak on security" drumbeat regardless of what Obama says. Supporting FISA was a weak sacrifice for no gain.

Posted by: Brad S | July 1, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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