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Political news--June & July of 08
Obama votes for FISA spying on U.S.

Obama reverses his position on Constitutional right to privacy. He votes to support new FISA bill, a bill which legalizes the violation of our constitutional right to privacy, among other things. In December Obama had said he would support a “filibuster of any bill containing telecom immunity.” In February he voted against a bill that would have reauthorized surveillance that also contained immunity. More proof that their agenda is not our well-being.

From Huffington Post of July 2nd at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m.s.-bellows/republicans-taunt-obama-a_b_109445.html by M.S. Bellows, Jr.

Republicans Taunt Obama as Spineless Over FISA Reversal

His abandonment of principle couldn't be clearer, no matter what his defenders say. The FISA "compromise" allows the government to data-mine the contents of millions of Americans' communications -- their phone calls, emails, IMs -- even when there's no suspicion at all that those Americans are involved with terrorism, and without warrants. The bill pretends to add warrant and other oversight requirements -- but, as Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly explained in his columns on this issue, and as Senator Russ Feingold explained on the Senate floor yesterday (caution: superb, but really long, speech), it also contains exceptions that swallow the rule. Obama, a Constitutional Law professor, knows better. There's no way a "yes" vote on this bill can be reconciled with what he said less than a year ago, on August 1, 2007, when he referred to the "false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand" and promised "no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens.... That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works."
That's just not the same Obama as the one who now says he will support the "compromise" FISA bill. It's a man with a fundamentally different nature, a different character, and the Republicans are seizing on it.
And even if expediency is all that matters, Obama's still failing. He's losing the support of MoveOn, one of his most important (and generous) supporters. Most of the commenters on my last post about this topic say resoundingly: Obama's destroyed his "brand" in just one week; they'll still vote for him, but that energy, that hopefulness that maybe his politics will be different, is already gone, squandered. Yesterday David Plouffe bragged about how much more excited Obama's supporters are than McCain's supporters are, but I'll bet a new poll on that issue will show that edge slipping away, just over this one vote on FISA. I don't think he's realized yet how much his collapse on FISA is costing him.
But even if Obama loses some energy on the Democratic side, will his embrace of a Bush-endorsed FISA amendment help him reach across the aisle to Republicans? I'm not so sure. If there's one thing that Obamacons and Reagan Democrats admire, it's principle. They don't mind someone who disagrees with them on specifics; but they despise someone who lacks a sense of right and wrong and the spine to stand up for what he believes is right.
Obama spent 18 months earning the respect of those folks. But now? Now, he hasn't even voted for FISA yet -- and already the Republicans are laughing at him.
Obama could, however, have the last laugh: The Hill is reporting that Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has managed to delay the FISA vote until after the July 4 recess. Perhaps Obama will dedicate part of Independence Day to remembering what exactly July 4 is supposed to commemorate -- and find his way back to what Emerson called "the law of his being" -- to the principle, and to the backbone, that we used to respect him





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Teddy Roosevelt's advice that, "We must drive the special interests out of politics. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains."