I’m not a lawyer, but I play one TV. 135


It’s amazing.  Everything Barack does now as a Senator brings out the Constitutional Lawyer Brigade (not a actual attorney among them) to SCREAM FROM EVERY THREAD – Obama is Destroying the Country I Love and Ending Democracy as We Know It.

It’s not that the CLB doesn’t sounds credible at times.  They are good at pulling quotes from Appellate or Supreme Court decisions that kind of sorta have something to do with the topic they are discussing, but beyond that, all they have is illogical conclusions based on very unlawerly hyperbole.

I am not an attorney, and it drives me up a wall.  I I were an attorney, I would be much less constrained than the ones who frequent these pages have been.  I would expect all the lawyers by now to be like HusseinTenaX and libgirl and the precious few others who have gone out of their way to correct the CLB in their paranoid rantings about the Constitution and The End of Life as We Know It.

We’ve all seen them, so no need to call out the guilty on this one.

I just have one questions for all the lawyers on TPM.  Are you as sick of seeing the law treated this way as I am?  I mean, if it were a bunch of fools talking about making or writing films who clearly had no idea what they were talking about, I would be busting that shit non-stop.

If I get frustrated by how obviously uninformed they are about the American jurisprudence process, how fucking irritating is it to you guys?  My head would be exploding by now if I were an attorney.

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135 thoughts on “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one TV.

  • JasonEverettMiller

    I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV. Sheesh. I hate missing words and not being able to correct them. Hello? TPM? Very simple thing to give us. It is probably a core feature of the blogging software that can be switch on.

    • hrebendorf

      We’ve all seen them, so no need to call out the guilty on this one.

      I disagree, Jason. Der guilty vones must be routed und burned at ze stake. Ve must provide links and documentation. Ve must see ze evidence. Your facts vill be checked for accuracy. Zis iss your last warning.

      – Der Fact Fuhrer

      Agree, by the way. Totally.

        • hrebendorf

          Our good friend gharlane is seriously on both of our cases, Jason. According to him, we’re pwned! (He’s a 733T HAXOR, so he can use “way cool lingo” like that). Here’s an example of how we’re pwned:

          http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/2008/07/forgiving-the-fisa-cave.php#comment-2960904

          I didn’t read it (I never bother to read gharlane’s shit because it’s, well… shit, but it sure is long, so I’m assuming it’s very important.) I’ll probably read all of gharlane’s shit someday when I’m in the mood for shit. But anyway, Jason, he’s the got evidence against us, he understands all Internet traditions, and he’s on the case. Like a private dick.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            I could use a paycheck from the Obama camp right about now. I wonder how one goes about actually getting paid for to do this?

            That is a perfect job for me. Wonder what it pays?

            I would have to clean up my language if I was working for a Christian as well, which would mean a nicer TPM neighborhood all around.

            On a different not, the clown in question isn’t as good as investigator as Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch, so I won’t sweat it too much. (Extra credit for anyone who has read those novels.) I bet he thinks he’s clever by finding my email address via my company website that I freely listed on TPM.

            This is why democrats get nothing done in the way of progressive change for the 40 years and is why I am an independent. Hell, I might become a Bull Moose Republican before I become a democrat if this is what the party has going in the way of its base. I just don’t have much in common with these guys.

            Good thing they have a couple leaders I can get behind like Obama and Dean. There are republicans (albeit very few) who seem to understand what we have lost in the way of civility and progress.

            Makes me feel we can perhaps make the country stronger and more progressive despite being “conservative” or “liberal” in our methods.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            That last was supposed to say: There are republicans as well who seem to understand our…

          • hrebendorf

            Hell, I might become a Bull Moose Republican before I become a democrat if this is what the party has going in the way of its base.

            I know what you mean, although I’m convinced that even among the most rapid of the “true democrat” crowd, this sort of raving lunacy is uncommon. At least I hope it is. Online you see a lot of it, but in the real world, not so much. I think the problem here may be that our little buddy can’t tell the difference.

            The Bull Moose Party ain’t a bad idea, actually. A little more pragmatism and a lot less petulance. Not a bad idea at all.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Exactly. They want to keep giving me a label, that is the one I am going with. Being born and raised in Alaska makes it even more appropriate.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            That makes it a party of two. Time to start building a platform on a guiding principle of Pragmatic Progressivism.

    • Edmund Crankypants

      If you knew how to type correctly, it wouldn’t be a problem, would it now? Sloppy typing is a sign of a sloppy mind.

      • readytoblowagasket

        Thanks for the reference, hrebendorf. It’s good to have.

        I don’t know why she’s lying. But I don’t care too much, either. Maybe she has worked in a law office in some capacity, but I’m just not going to give her credit for something she doesn’t deserve.

    • libgirl

      Yes she is. She and I have both seen how the Fourth Amendment works in real life, especially for minority men who drive beater cars.

      What we need, in this change movement (or “uprising,” as Sirota wants to call it) is a constitutional convention. The founders believed and expected that we would do this from time to time. We can re-write that shitty pack of sentences that comprise the Fourth Amendment (it is piss poorly written), and re-write that even shittier pack of sentences that comprise the Second Amendment. If we don’t want people to be able to walk down the street with an AR-15, we can just say that. If we want to stop fighting about whether there is a penumbral right of privacy, we can just write one in to the constitution. If we don’t want the death penalty, we can just say that without having to shoot it down on a case by case basis using procedural arguments. We can stop fighting these knuckleheaded fights that comprise thousands of pages of Federal and State Reporters (books where legal opinions are published). We can be clear where the founders failed to be clear. We can be liberal where they failed to be liberal.

      Really, there is no better time than now. We have seen how the constitution failed to adequately protect against abuse of executive power and we can correct it. We can see how they went wrong by allowing the president to pick Supreme Court justices with only “advice and consent” from that other branch. Perhaps branch two should have more say than that. Perhaps we can write in term limits for congress, if we think that’s best. And while we’re at it, let’s write one person-one vote into the constitution. No more electoral college, or anything remotely like the electoral college.

      It consistently amazes me to see people putting the Fourth Amendment on such a pedestal. It sucks. Let’s write something better.

      • JasonEverettMiller

        Love this commen. Thomas Jefferson was the one who told us to rewrite it once in a generation. Pretty smart advice coming from the guy who wrote many of the passages in question. he obviously was quite aware of his own limitations as both a writer and a statesman.

      • readytoblowagasket

        It consistently amazes me to see people putting the Fourth Amendment on such a pedestal.

        What’s amazing is that sentence.

        • libgirl

          Reading comprehension is not your strong suit. I am not saying we should currently disregard it. I am saying we should re-write it. It is terribly written. It could be better. More protective. More clear. Do you disagree? If so, why?

          • readytoblowagasket

            Reading comprehension is not your strong suit.

            Ooh, ouch. Making assumptions about what people mean without enough information is your strong suit. You must be a fantastic lawyer.

            It was an utterly ridiculous sentence. Live with it.

            I am not saying we should currently disregard it. I am saying we should re-write it. It is terribly written. It could be better. More protective. More clear. Do you disagree? If so, why?

            I agree with you that we could rewrite it, but the point is we won’t. If we won’t put other states before the Iowa caucuses during the primaries, why do you think we’d rewrite the 4th Amendment?

            Not to mention, which member of the illustrious brain trust in this country is going to do that, libgirl? A Democrat or a Republican? John Roberts? Who would the country find acceptable? Walter Cronkite? The Poet Laureate? Or are the much vaunted Democrats just going to hijack this rewriting-the-Constitution project?

            Do you get out much? You’re a bizarre combination of cynicism and pie-in-the-sky. The cynicism clearly comes from your job, which usually means it’s time for a vacation.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      I did say “and many others” which Elizabeth2 certainly falls into. I believe articleman is one as well. I am grateful to all of them who provide a more educated nuance to what seems like common sense conclusions to me.

      • BH

        I think you’re correct about articleman, as well. Maybe we should compile a comprehensive list somewhere. (I was unaware that libgirl was a laywer, for example.) It does help to know sometimes who actually knows what they’re talking about. (Not that amateurs can’t be more informed than professionals, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.)

  • ewmulaw

    Well, I am a lawyer, but I don’t play one on TV. Part of the problem is that after three years of legal education and a few years of practice, we sometimes forget what it’s like to not be a lawyer. “Legalese” becomes part of our daily vocabulary, and we immediately catch the circular arguments the CLB uses to slam any progressive agenda — not just Senator Obama.

    My assumption is that most TPM readers are intelligent and educated enough to see through the bullshit these para-lawyers spew in the MSM. The problem, sadly, is that the average voter is not.

    On the upside, there is an organization out there, of which I am a member — “Young Lawyers for Obama.” We engage in a variety of campaign activities, including fundraising, GOTV drives, voter protection (primary and general election), and voter education. We do canvassing in our neighborhoods (there are 3 members of YLFO in my area — St. Louis’s Tower Grove neighborhood).

    I know the Missouri YLFO is very active, particularly in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia (the only Blue areas in MO)… I’m not sure how active they are in outstate MO or in other states.

    I’ll pass these concerns on to the rest of the organization and see if we can get some kind of response team going on these issues.

    • hrebendorf

      What a completely awesome idea. A little pro-bono fact checking from the legal profession? Badly needed in the blogosphere.

      • ewmulaw

        Well, I’d hope there’s more than just some upside :oP

        Let’s not “kill all the lawyers” just yet. There are still those of us who are still fighting the good fight…

        • libgirl

          I’ve got a fun one coming up for oral argument before the Washington State Supreme Court in a few weeks, dealing with Article 1, Section 7 (our version of the Fourth Amendment, only a quite a bit better). Sadly, the client has already served his four years in prison and so when the Court (likely) confirms that the cops entered his home without authority of law, he will get no relief.

          You see, folks, that is how it works in the real world. Forgive me if I don’t have time to cry about the plaintiffs in the telecom lawsuits. Too busy dealing with those who society is only too happy to throw away, especially when they appear in front of local elected judges who don’t like releasing people on “technicalities” (like unlawful search and seizure), particularly when the local press is in the gallery.

          Does that mean I think FISA is good? No. It simply means that all this drama about the “evisceration” of the hallowed Fourth Amendment is laughable to me. This legislation doesn’t eviscerate it any more than half a century of pro-police case law has succeeded in doing.

  • BH

    My assumption is that most TPM readers are intelligent and educated enough to see through the bullshit these para-lawyers spew in the MSM.

    I think you might be giving us too much credit. I’m always skeptical of everything I hear in the MSM, and even when my BS-detector is going off (it doesn’t work 100% of the time), I’m not always sure why it’s going off.

    • ewmulaw

      That’s a good point. Most people don’t know that in law school they don’t actually teach us how to be lawyers. They teach us how to teach ourselves to be lawyers. We learn a little bit of law and procedure, but we forget most of it.

      We don’t learn all the right answers to legal questions — we learn how to find the right answers through careful and thorough research. When I’m reading an opposing attorney’s brief, I don’t automatically know the proper legal response… but my bs-detector goes off on certain parts, and I research that specific issue until I find the right answer.

      I think it works the same way in the political realm. For example — Sure, McCain’s talking point on “cutting taxes” sounds good on the surface (who doesn’t want a little more cash in their pockets?), but there’s something about it that rings a little false… you can’t quite put your finger on why. So, what do you do? You research the issue until you figure it out. What do you find? You find that he’s giving massive tax cuts not to you and me, but to the richest people in the country and the largest companies in the world. You also find that Obama’s plan gives a bigger tax cut to the middle and lower classes, without giving a break to the top 5%.

      • hrebendorf

        Interesting points. This morning, for some odd reason, I was reading over Judge Waller’s order on AT&T’s motions to dismiss in Hepting v. AT&T. I found the judge’s sources and reasoning for his decision on standing to be fascinatingly byzantine. I’m not a lawyer, and I know why I wouldn’t be a good one: not enough patience for the kind of research that’s required.

        • ewmulaw

          It’s nice to know that you take a realistic view of the legal profession. Most people don’t. It’s not like TV. I spend probably 90% of my time in my office staring at my computer or paperwork, and about 10% in the courtroom… That Perry Mason/Matlock moment rarely, if ever, happens in a lawyer’s career. There’s nothing glamorous about it. And to top it off, I work in State government, so I don’t get anywhere near the financial benefits most of my classmates do. Public service… whaddya gonna do? 🙂

          • hrebendorf

            I have a good friend who was seriously considering working for the CIA. He went through the first part of the interview series, but lost interest when the guy who was taking him through the process explained to him that he’d be spending most of his time reading newspapers and looking at websites and so forth. No gun, no excitement, no “Bond, James Bond.” Just datamining. Endless datamining. I have another friend who thought that was possibly the coolest job she’d ever heard of. One person’s nightmare is another person’s video game.

          • bslev

            If you spend ten percent of your time in the court room, you probably spend more time there than 99 percent of the lawyers in this country. My daughter just started working as a legal assistant for a large firm here in New York, and she was talking about all of the mundane stuff she was doing. I told her, hey, join the club kid.

          • libgirl

            Yikes, you in the AGs? I used to be a DPA. Come over to our side. I thought I would hate it, but it is a lot more fun over here. Nice to have people say “thank you.” And yes, the money helps. Don’t want to lie…

          • libgirl

            Hmmnn, I shouldn’t have started that sentence with the word “yikes.” There is nothing wrong with the AGs (or DOJ, depending on what state you’re in). I was more curious than anything.

          • ewmulaw

            I am indeed in the AG’s office. I’m one of the lucky ones, though. Despite the pay (MO fell below MS and AR a couple of years ago… ugh), it’s been the best experience I could have asked for. As I said, I’m in court a lot! One year out of school, and I already had three trials and two appeals under my belt. My classmates that went to big private firms can’t say that.

            I actually do tobacco litigation for the state, so it’s just about the most secure job one can have — the Master Settlement Agreement is a perpetual contract.

      • raider99

        Nice analysis of the situation with McCain’s tax cuts, but it didn’t take me all that long to figure it out when he said he wanted to increase Bush’s tax policy and all that ridiculous Reaganomics, trickle down bullshit. And contrasting it with what Obama has said, which the MSM and McCain love to mischaracterize, it’s easy to see who will benefit US as opposed to THEM.

        But overall, my BS meter has been pegged to the far end of the scale for years anyway. Have to get into some pristine nature from time to time to get it out of the red zone, even for a day or two.

    • hrebendorf

      Exactly. Too many bloggers get their “facts” from some “folk” attorney on DU or DailyKos. The half truths and bullshit expand outward from there, and eventually come to dominate the conversation. Even if someone knows what they’re talk about (see Glenn Greenwald) it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have an agenda or an axe to grind. I mean, Greenwald has admitted that he doesn’t even bother to vote which, for me, makes whatever he has to say completely academic. If he has a horse in the race, he’s not saying. Which is why I’ve called him a pussy in the past, and why I’ll continue to call him a pussy. One vote. Thirty minutes of his precious time. That’s all it would take to make me care what he has to say.

  • Constantinople

    You don’t need to be a lawyer to realize that Obama did a 180 on FISA.

    Moreover, one of the reasons for having a written constitution is so that everyone, not just lawyers, can reflect on the roles, responsibilities and rights of citizens, government, etc. The Constitution isn’t just a legal document, it’s a political document. Typically when we talk about checks-and-balances we think of three branches of government. But there’s potentially another check and balance on those three branches of government: public opinion. A public opinion based, in part, on how individual citizens interpret the constitution.

    Finally, the “it’s OK as long as the lawyes say so” is not exactly the kind of change I think Obama is trying to promote. Therefore, I’m not sure his supporters should be either.

    • BH

      If he did a 180, what angle would you have described it as if he had voted against the amendment to strip immunity? I’m not a fan of his final vote on this bill, but if you can’t imagine a worse treatment on FISA, well, then your imagination needs some fine-tuning. 😉

    • hrebendorf

      You don’t need to be a lawyer to realize that Obama did a 180 on FISA.

      No, he didn’t. Because when he said that he’d filibuster telecom immunity, the bill he voted for didn’t exist. You want to hold him to a past statement that’s not even relevant to the current situation. I just want him to make good decisions. And his vote on FISA, I believe, was the best decision he could have made under the circumstances. Was he in a leveraged position due to his candidacy? Of course. But you can’t ignore part of reality while acknowledging another. It’s all one big, fucked-up, integrated mess.

      • Constantinople

        No, he didn’t. Because when he said that he’d filibuster telecom immunity, the bill he voted for didn’t exist.

        Yes, he did. In October 2007 he said he would support a filibuster of any bill that included telecom immunity.

        • hrebendorf

          You said that he did a 180 on FISA–you never mentioned his pledge to support a filibuster. You may not think the way you state something matters, but I do. I thought you were talking about FISA–probably because that’s what you were talking about.

          Three amendments were offered, and Obama voted in favor of all three. And all three failed. What would have been the point of voting against cloture at that point? Don’t confuse intransigence and idealistic naivete with strength of character.

          • Constantinople

            You said that he did a 180 on FISA–you never mentioned his pledge to support a filibuster. You may not think the way you state something matters, but I do. I thought you were talking about FISA–probably because that’s what you were talking about.

            Sorry for not writing more clearly.

            The fact remains he did a 180 on his pledge to filibuster any FISA bill with retroactive immunity. I would also consider that he voted for the final bill to be a flip-flop (or evolution if you prefer). It doesn’t make much sense to plege to support a filibuster of any bill while mentally reserving the right to vote for that bill.

            I can understand that people look as this differently and think Obama made this a reasonable decision (I think Obama’s evolution on public finance was reasonable). I’m still voting for the guy myself (last I checked, the price of gas wasn’t imaginary, contrary to what Dr. Phil thinks).

            To tie this back to the original post, and to re-iterate, it doesn’t require a law degree to understand that Obama did the exact opposite of what he said he would do.

          • hrebendorf

            The fact remains he did a 180 on his pledge to filibuster any FISA bill with retroactive immunity.

            Agreed.

            To tie this back to the original post, and to re-iterate, it doesn’t require a law degree to understand that Obama did the exact opposite of what he said he would do.

            True, he didn’t support a filibuster. I don’t recall anyone trying to filibuster the bill, however, so I can’t imagine how Obama could be accused of going back on his word. Unless you think he should have filibustered the bill personally. And if that’s the case, I would suggest that you must not care to much if he wins the election or not.

          • hrebendorf

            Actually, not agreed on the first point. He didn’t pledge to filibuster the bill as far as I know. He said he’d support a filibuster. I don’t think he was offering to throw his own body on the tracks. Did he ever say he’d personally lead a filibuster? I can’t say for sure, I guess.

          • Constantinople

            He didn’t pledge to filibuster the bill as far as I know. He said he’d support a filibuster.

            Sorry again. I’m a little under the weather today so I guess I’m being sloppy in my posts.

            You’re correct. Obama did not pledge to filibuster himself. However, he did say he would support a filibuster. Given that he didn’t even vote on the Motion to Cloture, I would argue that he didn’t follow through on his pledge to support a filibuster.

          • raider99

            Thank god for a politician who actually can reason and make changes to his positions. We’ve had enough of presidential posers who can’t do any such thing.

            The problem with Obama isn’t that he changed his decision, it’s that he didn’t adequately support that decision with clear and complete explanations. When Obama is clear about his decisions, I generally understand, and I either agree with him or I can support his position, even if it’s different from mine, because, essentially, Obama is a reasonable and careful man, highly intelligent and a deep thinker on all the issues he faces.

    • The Commenter Formerly Known as NCSteve

      Acually, he did a 90, not a one 180, on telecom immunity, as opposed to FISA (opposed but didn’t filibuster). I am not at all happy about the telecom immunity part because its wrong to let any industry buy itself a congressional reversal of a judicial opinion. That is destructive of the rule of law and emblematic of everything that’s gone wrong with our system. No argument from me there. (Plus, I hate telcos just on GP’s because it seems like they’ve been a pain in my ass since I first moved out of my parents house.)

      But as to the substantive provisions in the rest of the law, well I finally broke down and read the damn thing a couple of nights ago and, frankly, it is not going cause me to lay awake at night waiting for the Thought Police to come kick down my, or my neighbor’s, door.

      I’m not crazy about living in a world where a law like that is necessary, and its probably inevitable that the new technical capabilitiy Bush created is going to be abused. But as to the law, I would really like one of the people who are really upset to cite the specific provisions that have them so upset and tell me why its upsetting. Not what someone else says about the law in general. Not what someone else says the law allows, even if that person is another lawyer, like Gleen Greenwald.

      No, tell me the specific provision or provisions in the law that bother you–give me a cite or cut and paste the offending text from the bill itself. Then, maybe, we can have an intelligent conversation about whether this law is really the end of the rule of law and civil liberties as we know them. You may even convince me it really is a danger to all we hold dear as a nation–I’m not claiming that one read-though of a hundred and something page law with the usual maddeningly large number of cross-references makes me an expert on it.

      But I do think my one read-through and my law license makes me more qualified to talk about it than someone who hasn’t read it.

      So give me a cite and then maybe we can have a meaningful discussion.

      Then again, maybe not. Every time one of the TPM League of Actual Lawyers tries to explain something about this bill or the Fourth Amendment based on actual law, rather than something someone thinks the law is or oughta be, they just get a bunch of vitriolic abuse sprayed on them. This thing has become the liberal equivalent of wearing a flag pin–its a symbol that’s become unmoored from its meaning and has turned into a halfwitted litmus test for one’s Americanism.

      • raider99

        I stopped worrying about the thought police a long time ago, realizing that I was as likely as anyone to be lined up and shot for what I believe if it comes to that. But I’d rather be shot than spend my life in fear of expressing my true beliefs and my utter contempt for the current regime and the depraved and destructive corporate ownership of our country.

    • raider99

      Public opinion is, obviously, important, but you neglected to mention the fourth estate, so named because of its role in providing the truth to the electorate, so that public opinion is based on facts and truth, not propaganda and political expediency.

      Sadly, that is rarely the case anymore, and so we desperately need media overhaul and oversight if public opinion is to mean anything.

  • DancingBear

    I am a lawyer, and I’m with Obama on this stuff, but as far as irritation none of that stuff here can compare to what I see elsewhere on the Web. I’ve recently responded to a poster on another website that (1) on one thread made xenophobic remarks about the Sikh-AMERICAN who sued Disney on First Amendment free exercise grounds about his need to wear his turban on the job at Disney World, and (2) on another thread said he thinks ANY law which in any way restricts his right to carry around his firearm violates his Second Amendment rights (I pointed out to him that even Scalia doesn’t believe that).

  • Allsburg

    I’m a lawyer, and although Obama’s stance on FISA upset me, I’m also annoyed by the claims that the Constitution is being trounced. As I’ve argued elsewhere on these boards (1) if Congress is trouncing the Constitution, it is the role of the Supreme Court to correct it, and (2) FISA does not appear to violate the Constitution. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not bad. There are plenty of reasons to object to FISA. The Constitution is quite frankly the least of them.

    But I have to say, the worst offender in my book is Testing, who always posts detailed arguments that certain things are illegal or unconstitutional, without having the slightest grip on the law.

  • bslev

    I have been an attorney since 1986, one who happens to spend a fair amount of time on constitutional issues, but I don’t think one needs to be an attorney to be informed about constitutional protections or lack thereof. Objection, you have assumed a fact that is absolutely not in evidence.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Overruled.

      The facts in dispute are not whether one has an opinion, but whether that opinion is based in a sound and logical reading of the applicable laws and precedent.

      I am not a lawyer, but I even I know we have been violating the Constitution since the days it was signed. We wrote Constitutional violations into the document itself with the Three Fifths clause. John Adams was the first in a long line of presidents who treated the Constitution as being subject to interpretation by the challenges – both real and political – of the times.

      To paraphrase my candidate: I don’t oppose all legal opinions, just dumb ones.

  • artappraiser

    It’s real hard to take your complaint about hyperbole seriously when it starts out like this:

    Everything Barack does now as a Senator brings out the Constitutional Lawyer Brigade (not a actual attorney among them) to SCREAM FROM EVERY THREAD – Obama is Destroying the Country I Love and Ending Democracy as We Know It.

    Now that’s hyperbole. In actuality, this site, not to mention the liberal blogosphere overall, seemed far more hyperbolic in March through May of this year, when spinning oneself silly about the wonders of the perfect person Obama and the evils of the person Hillary spilled forth day after day in mass quantities. Just incredible mass delusion about a celebrity deathmatch on display. Overall, it seems far more balanced and realistic now, though there’s certainly a long way to go on that front.

    At least some issues are now being discussed in the blogosphere, with attendant interest and discussion and research into them. As to your feeling that there’s a lot of disinfo. being passed on the issues, welcome to the blogopshere.

    If you don’t like that happening now as regards Obama, maybe you should rethink the praise of Obama’s tactic of avoiding focus on issues in the primary race, in preference for general inspirationals and rallies and personality differences. Some of us knew the day was coming when he’d have to start addressing issues, and that that would be a problem for the happy temporary coalition of Obama inspirational rhetoric fans.

    Someone like McCain was never going to run on the power of personality and inspirationals, and is going to bring up issue after issue after issue until Novemeber. It’s a given that people are not going to like everything Obama says on every issue. From the way he ran his primary race, many were under the impression that he was what they looked at in the mirror, but he’s not. And as a matter of fact, he said that several times, but few listened, but he was willing to let it go during the primary because it helped him win against a nearly identical primary opponent by having lefties seeing a mirror image think he was more with them than she was. That’s not throwing anyone under the bus, that’s just using inspirationals.

    Did you really think Obama worship could be sustained through November with an internet where everyone gets to say what they think? I don’t think he did. He’s more realistic than you are, he knew what he was doing by being vague in order to rally a liberal base, and he also knew it would come to an end. It is clear to me that his bets are on getting a center majority vote, pick up a few previous red states, and record turnout of Afro-Americans. He will continue to dis certain liberal interest groups in that goal as he has shown wont to do in the past, as it will benefit him in his goals as well as being truer to his own beliefs.

    It’s not going to stop with this one issue. There are many more Sister Souljah moments coming. Everything he’s written in the past, all the advisors he’s chosen, says he plans to govern by majority centrism. And I am sure he is fine with that and doesn’t need or want someone like you policing the internet for positive leftist thoughts about Obama. He wants the rest of the electorate to see he is not with them, because he’s not and never had been. I think you labor under the mistaken impression that netroots is not a joke as to affecting the majority vote as to presidential race in this country, when more people have interest and vote than in mid-terms. I don’t think he has that mistaken impression, he thinks it a benefit not to cow to such interests:

    Obama in Sept. 2006 to New York Magazine’s Jennifer Senior:

    “One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me. And increasingly, when I read Daily Kos, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s all just exactly what I would expect.”

    He wants to see disagreement from “netroots.” It’s not their votes and those sympatico with him that he’s courting and it’s not in their direction that he wants to govern, either; Obama Sept. 30, 2005

    According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

    I think this perspective misreads the American people….

    Meanwhile, the liberal blogosphere is a place where people can discuss their opinion on issues and lurkers can try to learn more on issues, a good thing. It’s really not a place where votes are won over for a presidential candidate by enforcing that everyone participating stays on the lesser evil candidate message. Let the campaigns handle that; the blogosphere is not Obama central. I am sure they are happy both with the chance to differentiate themselves from the “netroots,” as Obama clearly tried to do way back in 2005 and 2006, and with the chance to see what “netroots” are thinking on issues, under no illusion that such represents the majority.

    Consider the idea that you are not in charge of Obama’s campaign for a reason. Also consider the idea that the unmoderated blogosphere might not be for you if disinfo. and agitprop drive you absolutely crazy. Now you know how some of us felt when TPMCafe was transformed into “Obama the wonder god central” in late February of this year from a place where one could find interesting threads on such things as fact finding on the Bhutto assassination, female attitudes toward Islam, or the failure of Massachusett’s health care plan and what it means for future reform. At least fighting over minutae over FISA is a step in the right direction, away from Obama is god agitprop. I don’t read every thread, but I vastly prefer those to hearing about what terrible thing Hillary did in the campaign today and what SuperDelegates Obama won today.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      See my comment to gasket below. You continue to show a complete inability to have conversations like an adult.

      You take my very specific distaste with uneducated dipshits making SKY IS FALLING pronouncements about this stupid legislation and somehow turn that into an indictment of the entire blogosphere.

      Until you decide you want to actually talk about what is actually the topic for discussion, I will agree to try and have a civil debate. As it is, you have shown a complete unwillingness to be reasonable.

      • readytoblowagasket

        See my comment to gasket below.

        See mine back to you, Jason. I’d be surprised if artappraiser responds to you.

        You continue to show a complete inability to have conversations like an adult.

        Whoever talked to you this way in your life did you a huge disservice. If you want to have a conversation like an adult yourself, you can’t hurl accusations at people first, before you say anything else, because it makes people shut down and stop listening.

        You take my very specific distaste with uneducated dipshits making SKY IS FALLING pronouncements about this stupid legislation and somehow turn that into an indictment of the entire blogosphere.

        Why does this bother you so much? This mode of blogging has been a regular feature of TPM since January. Why is it so irksome to you now? And how is your post helping matters?

        Until you decide you want to actually talk about what is actually the topic for discussion, I will agree to try and have a civil debate. As it is, you have shown a complete unwillingness to be reasonable.

        Again with the admonishing-parent tone. Who spoke to you like that? I know your mom was a single parent with a bunch of kids; did she speak that way out of stress and the need to control an out-of-control situation? Was it someone else in the family? Or a teacher? You certainly don’t have to answer since it’s none of my business, really, but you’ve internalized it and made it your own speech pattern.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          I object to that phrasing because it find its way on to the corporate press as “TROUBLE IN OBAMALAND” and “THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT IS WAVERING ON OBAMA.” I object because it is damaging to Barack as a candidate and decreases his chance of winning and forces him to play defense against his own team.

          It’s like the center trying to sack the quarterback after snapping the ball.

          I started out speaking in rational and civil tones. Don’t conflate my exasperated language after weeks of trying to reason with you as our somehow my main mode of communication. I am far from the only progressive around here who has called for an ounce of self-control from the left side of the spectrum.

          You mistake my ability to be pragmatic until the election is over with an unwillingness to hold Obama accountable for the change I seek. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet you have continued with this logical fallacy for weeks. You do it in rude and sarcastic tones. You respond to honest inquiry with derision and an obtuse inability to get anyone’s position unless it conforms to your own.

          I am sorry, but that is textbook neocon behavior coming from people who are supposed to be on my side. If you can’t see that, I suppose I will console myself with the notion that for every voter such as yourself that Barack loses, he gains a dozen who see him as a principled and pragmatic leader who is willing to piss his base off if he disagrees.

          It’s been decades since we had a leader like that.

          • readytoblowagasket

            Jason, after all this time, you know nothing about me.

            You are confusing me with whoever writes the sky-is-falling posts. I have never written such a post. Go ahead and check. Most of the sky-is-falling tripe on this site comes from hard-core Obama supporters who like to imitate Keith Olbermann.

            I have strenuously objected to the FISA Amendments Act on this site. That’s my First Amendment right, and this is the correct forum for soapbox protest. It’s a shitty Act, and it’s my duty as a U.S. citizen to protest against it. I have rarely (if ever) mentioned Obama in my criticisms of the Act. In fact, I have deliberately avoided mentioning him when I’ve discussed FISA. Imagining that I’ve attacked Obama is flat-out false. You’re an out-of-control jackass for accusing me of it. Again, you can look up my past comments on FISA if you’re not too lazy to do so. But I’ll put money on your laziness.

            Unlike you, I don’t pay much attention to the MSM anymore, except peripherally. I watch maybe an hour of TV news a week, and even then, it’s Democracy Now! rather than CNN or MSNBC. I can’t stand the U.S. news on TV, and I cannot worry about its influence on others. I can only control its influence on me, which I do by not watching it. I simply don’t care about it. You hysteria about it is not my problem.

            During the week, I listen to NPR while I make dinner. Most of what’s reported in the evenings is not even news, it’s watered-down oatmeal + the weather report. I listen critically for bias and for what’s not reported. After dinner, I check the internet for more information.

            I seek out radio interviews on political topics. When I want to learn more about a topic, I start reading articles on the internet on sites I trust (not TPM or Jake Tapper or Chuck Todd or Politico). I look up the bios of writers I don’t know, I research what experts have to say, I read opposing views. I learned how to do research by getting paid to do it, and I am not intimidated by whether other people know more than I do. I can guarantee that I do more research than you do, and more than most of the lawyers who comment here (lawyers use other people to do their research for them—go ahead and ask NCSteve).

            My first choice of presidential candidate was Dennis Kucinich. Yep, just like you, Jason. I know a lot about Dennis: I know how his ethnicity and upbringing inform his politics. I grew up in Cleveland in the ’70s when Dennis was the Boy Mayor. His congressional district headquarters is in my hometown suburb. I love Dennis. I really wanted to vote for him in the primary, but he dropped out before I had the chance.

            Accusing me of adopting the tactics of neocons is obnoxiously defensive and brain-dead stupid, Jason. You owe me an apology. But I doubt you have the character to apologize when you’re wrong.

  • articleman

    I’m a lawyer, as is subliminability, armchair guerrilla, tena, bslev, and too many others to list.

    I really like the quality of discourse here, and think the number of lawyers and other folk with advanced training or interesting life experience really adds to this place (concededly, those two are sometimes in conflict).

    I think the nonlawyers here do a pretty good job on law, and that it’s good that they care enough to look stuff up. Just keep an open mind, hopefully, to someone more familiar with the stuff prompting you is my suggestion, not to give the lawyers all weight, but they can help nonlawyers look through the glass more clearly sometimes.

    You get nonlawyer screamers here occasionally(“Obama is peeing and pooping on the Fourth Amendment. Help help, I’m being repressed.”) But then, I’m pretty good at not giving a shit about people trying to get my goat (precisely because I’m a lawyer and I deal with too many asshole lawyers), or I might mind such bloviating overstatement.

    So on the whole, kudos to the nonlawyers of TPM. Except the guy who posts on Blackstone. That makes me pound my skull into a wall until it’s bloody.

    • Don Key

      You get nonlawyer screamers here occasionally(“Obama is peeing and pooping on the Fourth Amendment. Help help, I’m being repressed.”)

      For us non-lawyers, please stop with all the legalese and lawyerly jargon like “peeing and pooping” on the 4th amendment (is that a felony?). Seriously, I agree with your whole comment but would point out that constitutional experts and law professors like Jonathon Turley (4th Amendment expert), Lawrence Lessig- pretty much most experts I’ve read on this- believe that it is about infringements on civil liberties and constitutional rights.

      • JasonEverettMiller

        Any quotes from them circa 1978 from before the legislation was originally signed? How about any of the numerous updates over the years? Curious that they decide now is the time to demonize the democratic candidate over this shit. This is politics for the haters, not principles.

        • Don Key

          Sorry Jason, I have no quotes from 1978 that demonizes the presidential candidate and new legislation of 2008?! First, it is not FISA that is being criticized (except by those practicing misdirection). It’s the further erosion of FISA, condoning of warrantless spying, and impunity granted to the criminals who ignored FISA law that is being fought.

          The TPM hand-wringing doesn’t come from sudden criticizing of bypassing the FISA law and illegal spying since Obama annouonced his position on this FAA. It’s just the opposite. The vehement defense of government spying, new laws that enable spying on us, and political “compromises” that pass those laws and protect the corporations and officials who knowingly broke the law is what is new here.

          Oddly, the expert legal opinion being tossed around this site (i.e. “FISA was intended to be applied to foreign intelligence sources, not domestic” or “…people putting the Fourth Amendment on such a pedestal. It sucks.” or “Greenwald is a fucking liar”) only popped up after Obama’s reversal. Coincidence, right? The legal scholars have been criticizing the TSP as the stories have broken since 2005. The friend-of-the-court briefs I link to downthread are from 2006.

          Here’s a quote from 1978 or so by Sen. Frank Church whose work led to FISA:

          Personal privacy is protected because it is essential to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution checks the power of Government for purposes of protecting the rights of individuals, in order that all our citizens may live in a free and decent society. Unlike totalitarian states, we do not believe that any government has a monopoly on truth.
          When government infringes those right instead of nurturing and protecting them, the injury spreads far beyond the particular citizens targeted to untold numbers of other Americans who may be intimidated…
          The natural tendency of government is toward abuse of power. Men entrusted with power, even those aware of its dangers, tend, particularly when pressured, to slight liberty.
          Our constitutional system guards against this tendency. It establishes many different checks upon power. It is those wise restraints which keep men free. In the field of intelligence those restraints have too often been ignored….
          The United States must not adopt the tactics of the enemy. Means are important, as ends. Crisis makes it tempting to ignore the wise restraints that make men free. But each time we do so, each time the means we use are wrong, our inner strength, the strength which makes us free, is lessened.
          H/T DKos.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Nothing in the new legislation weaken controls. Like the quote you provided, Barack believes essential Constitutional liberties and improved court review have been re-established by this legislation, without losing the tools to effectively provide counterintelligence.

            You don’t agree, but that hardly makes you right.

            The fact remains that this president broke the law and and won’t be held accountable via civil suits that are sure to be tossed because telecommunications CEOs were following the orders of a president, backed by letters from an AG.

            It will take Congressional hearings or an Obama DoJ investigation to hold the Baby Bush administration accountable.

  • mentsmin

    I am a lawyer, and I disagree with Obama’s vote on the FISA bill.

    Many lawyers who specialize in constitutional law have come out in opposition to this administration’s surveillance activities (and these amendments to the FISA statute).

    Obama simply made the wrong call here…and sided with virtually every-single Republican (all but one) in the process. That alone should signal that something is wrong.

    A majority of the congressional democrats voted against this bill, and I agree with them.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Bravo, Jason. A classic rant.

    I have a couple of questions:

    Don’t the framers of the Constitution who weren’t lawyers drive you up a wall too? George Washington wasn’t a lawyer. His formal education (such as it was; he was very self-conscious about his lack of it) ended at 16. James Madison and Ben Franklin weren’t lawyers, either. Madison received an excellent education, but Franklin left school at 10. Later he helped write the Declaration of Independence—can you believe it?

    Here’s a list of the framers, which includes occupation. You’ll see there’s lots of lawyers on the list. I wonder if the lawyer-framers ever got sick of Washington’s, Madison’s and Franklin’s input? I mean how fucking irritating was that? Enough to make their heads explode, probably. At the very least, I’m sure it was frustrating to have to listen to the non-lawyer fools in the group contribute to designing a constitution and bill of rights.

    Anyway, if you think it’s bad here at TPM, Jason, imagine how the trained lawyers in Congress feel! Bush and Cheney aren’t lawyers, and only 58 senators and 178 representatives of the 110th Congress hold law degrees. Some of those lawyers were opposed to the FISA Amendments Act, and some non-lawyers (who also sit on important committees) voted for it. Some of the non-lawyers write legislation! A lot of it!

    Our system is whack. But I don’t have to tell you that. You know the jurisprudence process.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Reductio ad absurdum. You are making arguments against something I never said. As soon as you choose to debate like an adult, I will decide to comment on your questions.

      • readytoblowagasket

        It’s hard to discuss anything with you, Jason, because you resort to name-calling when someone doesn’t overtly praise and agree with you. You’re a hothead who is blinded by defensiveness, which you yourself have acknowledged. If you want praise, go call your mother. This is a public site, and if you choose to write a blog post, you subject yourself to public opinion, and therefore criticism. Stop being so tedious and immature about mere disagreement.

        I disagree with you that our laws are beyond the comprehension of non-lawyers. I disagree that people are incapable of educating themselves, which is why I referenced Washington and Franklin. Education is not the exclusive domain of the founding fathers or of lawyers. If you think it is, you sell yourself short.

        Most of Congress is, in fact, comprised of non-lawyers, and they’re the ones writing our laws. Our government was founded on the principle of participation by the people. Obama more than any other politician encourages us all to participate. You, on the other hand, espouse a principle of intolerance in your rant. Your rant is anti-Obama. Bizarre.

        From what I’ve seen, the people on these boards who take a contrary view can and do support their arguments, which are then ignored by the challengers (including many of the lawyers). Because of that, it’s a rather facile site. C’est la vie.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          What name did I call you? Did you think “reductio ad absurdum” was a name? No, it is a tactic you employ to keep our discussion in the gutter instead of in the public square.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          By the way, it means that you are disagreeing and critiquing arguments I never made. Just like this post. You offer one-sided arguments that are single-sourced, have no historical context and are tangential to the discussion at best.

          That is what drives me nuts. Not that you disagree with Obama or me or anyone. Hell, I disagree with the man on this, but the Chicken Little bit around here is getting to be a bit much.

          In case you missed it, this blog was about methods of communication and the underlying veracity of those claims, since they have been presented as fact and not opinion.

          The opinion of pragmatists seems to be in the majority around here. Perhaps the single reason why democrats might win with more than a 50%+1 Pyhrric victory over an incredibly weak opponent like 2000 and 2004.

          • readytoblowagasket

            In case you missed it, this blog was about methods of communication

            Speaking of “methods of communication,” go back and read your own original post, Jason. Read the words that are actually there. Don’t skip over these provocative phrases:

            1. drives me up a wall
            2. sick of…as I am
            3. I get frustrated
            4. how fucking irritating
            5. My head would be exploding

            And don’t ignore how you describe your fellow TPMers:

            1. they scream from every thread
            2. they’re illogical
            3. they’re hyperbolic
            4. they’re paranoid ranters
            5. they’re a bunch of fools
            6. they clearly have no idea what they’re talking about
            7. they’re obviously uninformed

            Jason, there is no content in your post. Nothing to debate. You don’t provide examples of your complaints and you don’t lay out a legitimate argument. You just rant. The only thing to criticize, really, is you.

            By the way, I never said you called me a name. Go back and read my words. I was speaking in general terms about your reactionary method of communicating with those who disagree with you.

            I would be happy to have an actual debate, but you are often too fast on the trigger and make too many faulty (and false) assumptions. Other times you simply misread or misunderstand me.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Not a single one of the things you listed are descriptions of other people. They are metaphors for my own opinions about the discussion at hand, an opinion your handily back up every time you post.

            Further, I don’t paint my “fellow TPMers” as all those things you list, but there are a handful who fit the description for sure. Certain people just can’t discuss issues as differences of opinion, rather than frame very single issue as a life or death struggle for the future of America.

            That is the same hyperbole that the far right uses and is no more attractive on the far left.

          • readytoblowagasket

            Jason, did it ever occur to you that other people at TPM might be using literary devices such as metaphor or hyperbole or understatement to make a point or express an idea? Or are you the only one?

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Perhaps they are, but if it comes across as insults and ignorance and intransigence, then it clearly isn’t working as a literary device.

          • readytoblowagasket

            Bingo! Now maybe you’ll understand how your own post might have come off to some readers.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            When you use hyperbole and misrepresentation of someone’s positions in order to get a rise you are debating like a neocon. Sorry you feel like I need to apologize for your bad behavior.

            Further, if you did indeed grow up in the 1970s then there is even less reason for you to be conducting yourself like my little brother does sometimes with snide comments and sarcasm in the place of reasoned argument.

            You still neglect to mention that my rhetoric is always in direct proportion to that which I find directed at me. You early support of Kucinich aside, much of our interaction has revolved around Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, which I find a bit odd.

            At any rate, your day-job as a researcher aside, on this particular issue, you seem to have dismissed all historical precedent in your haste to make a point. I also not sure why you take offense to my questioning of other people’s tactics. If you claim your comments don’t fall into the category I describe, then why bother getting offended?

            Finally, I don’t watch the news except to see what ordinary Americans are digesting and how what I find on-line affects that narrative. By and large, it hasn’t taken long for Internet chatter to make it to the corporate media. It has been many years that I thought anything worthwhile could be found on the tube.

            So, you project motives on to me even as you cry foul for me doing the same.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            This was actually in reply to the comment above. TPM’s software is seriously weak.

  • Don Key

    Excuse the length of this quote but it’s worth noting here. From ACLU:

    In a brief affirming the landmark ruling, the nation’s leading constitutional law scholars, including Kathleen Sullivan, Laurence H. Tribe, Richard Epstein and Ronald Dworkin said: “Whatever inherent powers the President might have under Article II, they do not include the power to conduct a warrantless domestic surveillance campaign, of indefinite duration and unlimited scope, where a duly enacted statute expressly prohibits such conduct. Thus, no separation of powers concern requires deference to the Government’s implausible statutory construction. To the contrary, deference to the Government’s position would itself cast doubt on the constitutionality of the statute.”

    In another friend-of-the-court brief, civil rights organizations, including National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Japanese Americans Citizens League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and United for Peace and Justice pointed to decades of spying on Americans – including members of their organizations – that was halted only after a congressional investigation in the 1970’s exposed the abuses. Drawing on their shared history, the groups said that “Intelligence agents misused information gained by such surveillance to ‘discredit’ ideas and ‘neutralize the actions’ of Americans engaged in First Amendment-protected speech and advocacy, further distorting the political marketplace of ideas, a marketplace in which the American values of civil rights have historically triumphed.”

    The brief signed by the New York City Bar Association, the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Bar Association discussed the importance of confidential communications and trust in the sacred American value of the privileged attorney client relationship. “The NSA surveillance program threatens to undermine a fundamental principle of a just legal system: That justice requires that persons accused by the government of wrongdoing have access to legal advice and that such legal advice can only be effective if lawyer-client communications are conducted in confidence, uninhibited by fears that government agents are listening in,” the groups said in their brief.

    The fourth brief was filed by the Center for National Security Studies and the Constitution Project and concerns the preservation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. “The Fourth Amendment thus undergirds and reinforces FISA’s requirement that the government obtain a warrant in order to engage in foreign intelligence surveillance of persons in the United States. Any concerns potentially counseling against enforcing the warrant requirement in the foreign intelligence realm have been absent for the better part of thirty years, and the threat to individual liberties by an unchecked Executive is, if anything, magnified in the current environment. Accordingly, there is no basis for determining that the President has inherent authority to disregard the warrant requirement enacted by Congress to safeguard the Fourth Amendment rights of persons in the United States.”

  • mentsmin

    Yes, the suggestion that the only people bothered by all of this are “non-lawyers” who don’t understand the law (a claim floated many times on this site in the past few days) is without merit.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      No, the blog was actually saying the only people who are stark raving mad over this are non lawyers and the Raging Left.

      That the VAST majority of lawyers and more pragmatic progressives, at least on this site, take a much more nuanced and educated view of the issue.

  • JasonEverettMiller

    Not to mention the second president of the United States who didn’t think the First or the Fourth amendment really applied to anyone who would disagree with the federal government’s stance during the French and British stand-off.

    We have been violating the constitution like a drunk prom date (I am sorry for the visual, but only a sociopath would violate our own rules in this way, which leads me to an apt metaphor) since before the ink was dry on the preamble.

    As your story clearly shows, we still don’t cherish the document as much as the netroots would like to believe.

    This whole debate is the perfect definition of Circle Jerk.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      This was to libgirl up above as she tried to set some sort of context to this and many other on-going Constitutional violations.

  • mentsmin

    Any quotes from them circa 1978 from before the legislation was originally signed? How about any of the numerous updates over the years? Curious that they decide now is the time to demonize the democratic candidate over this shit. This is politics for the haters, not principles.

    I don’t understand this point. Perhaps there are some who believe the FISA statute was already unconstitutional. However, I believe that many are unhappy with the current revisions in particular (which are significant) and with the fact that they shield the lawbreaking telecoms from liability.

    Obama doesn’t deserve any greater blame than the Democratic leaders in the House that capitulated to Republican demands.

    I understand that you believe Obama should be our next president–and compared to McCain, I’d have to agree with you. However, that fact should not be used to whitewash the implications of this bill. It’s bad law. You don’t need any further proof of that than the fact that the Republicans celebrated it as a great victory while Bush gleefully signed it.

    It’s ridiculous that this should happen while the Democrats control Congress…and when it comes down to it, it’s likely to be mostly about money (at least as far as the telecom immunity clause is concerned).

    • JasonEverettMiller

      It is the opinion of some people on the left (and right to a lesser extent) that it is a bad law. That is my point. You guys claim your opinions as if they were facts. The extreme right did the same shit and it irritated me just as badly.

      It is a bad law in the opinion of some on the left. On the right, it is a good law that was violated by bad or simply misguided men. For many of us in the middle, it is a red herring at best meant to distract from the things that are really killing us. It is a minor infraction at best given the long history of this country’s on-going quest to refine the Constitution via the jurisprudence system.

      Now, maybe you disagree with the courts deciding this in such varied ways. I know it drives me crazy about our system. But it is also the magic of the system. As the ideas of the majority change, the court comes to reflect them.

      We are swinging back to the left, but make no mistake that a slight majority of this country – democrat, independent or republican – self-identify as more conservative than liberal in their politics. It’s why we have stayed skewed to the right for so long, despite both republican and democratic administrations.

      We had our differences turned into distrust and hate. If we can be empathetic with our conservative brothers and sisters, then we have a real opportunity to change the environment that makes threats from small groups of dangerous men a possibility.

      A President Obama can end our ambitions of empire and take a more moderate, more peaceful stance in the world. This would make these types of compromises unnecessary in the long run.

      Just not today.

  • JasonEverettMiller

    Exactly. They want to keep giving me a label, that is the one I am going with. Being born and raised in Alaska makes it even more appropriate.

  • mentsmin

    It is the opinion of some people on the left (and right to a lesser extent) that it is a bad law. That is my point. You guys claim your opinions as if they were facts.

    Oh come on, I’m obviously stating my “opinion.” Did I really need to specify that?

    Furthermore, there are plenty of people who are not “liberals” yet who take issue with this bill–I’d imagine they refer to themselves as “libertarians” and most certainly do not consider themselves part of “the left” (they likely vote more often for Republicans, in fact).

    For many of us in the middle, it is a red herring at best meant to distract from the things that are really killing us.

    That’s a difficult assertion for me to grasp. Domestic spying is an important issue, especially when it comes on the heels of government behavior that was in gross violation of the law being reformed (and note that it didn’t even seem necesssary–the FBI repeatedly complained that the NSA was offering a excessive amount of data involving U.S. citizens and of which was no value to investigators). It’s hard to fathom how someone could view it as a simple “distraction.”

    We had our differences turned into distrust and hate. If we can be empathetic with our conservative brothers and sisters, then we have a real opportunity to change the environment that makes threats from small groups of dangerous men a possibility.

    I personally do not “hate” conservatives or republicans…in fact I work as an attorney for a republican state attorney general–though the Bush/Cheney administration has done great damage to them, as have too many years in the majority.

    What most bothers me is that I don’t buy that the lamenting over criticism leveled at Obama has anything to do with the issue itself. I would imagine that many of Obama’s most vociferous supporters would be arguing the other side of this issue had he voted with the Democratic majority.

    I’m not like that. I voted for the man in the primary and I will still vote for him over John McCain, but I simply don’t see him as the end all be all and in my opinion he made a particularly poor choice here, one which I’m convinced was with eyes towards his political ambitions and not the policy at issue.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      My point being that many of the objections to overly harsh criticism on this is that they conveniently forget a whole lot of history (an precedent) with regards to this particular issue.

      Whether I agree or not, the system is what it is and will require many years to fix it in a way that would make the far left happy on this and a number of other issues.

      At the end of the day, though, I don’t agree that we live in an environment that makes compromises like this one unnecessary.

      • mentsmin

        I agree that compromises are often necessary and I’m not disappointed that the Democrats do not vote in lockstep like the GOP….but I simply do not view this particular act as a “compromise.” The White House actually ended up with more than it hoped to get.

        It’s yet another example of the Democrats allowing the other side to control the conversation on “security” and it’s an obvious nod to the big money that is flowing to congressional campaign coffers from the telecom industry.

  • mentsmin

    I’m a moderate, by the way. But I’ve been on the side of many constitutional experts, civil libertarians, and “the left” on this issue long before a handful of congressional democrats rolled over on this particular bill.

    The fact that constitutional questions can ultimately be decided by the courts (as long as they maintain jurisdiction), but that does not excuse poor decision-making. Law that is wrong can still be constitutional, and in this instance in particular challenging the government’s behavior has proven quite difficult because no one has been allowed to discover evidence that would support their claim to standing.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      This law has been in effect for thirty years, used by both republicans and democrats with nary a protest.

      It is only in this election year that it becomes an imperative and is thus suspect as a principled stand when political motivations are a much more likely explanation.

      The law suits in question will most certainly be thrown own in advance of any discovery, so that argument is kind of thin. The more likely avenue to ferreting out the truth is electing Obama and trusting his AG will investigate these issues as we have been promised.

      If such investigations are forthcoming after January 20, 2009, I will join the far left in demanding justice on this and the many other crimes committed by the Bush administration.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          The objections on the right, like those on the left, are to the far right of mainstream republican thought and were curiously absent these last thirty years it has been in effect.

          • mentsmin

            Again, you’re suggesting that opposition lies in FISA generally and not in the recent changes to the FISA statute, the granting of immunity to those who broke the law, or the fact that the Bush Administration simply ignored the law completely. That is simply not the case as far as many critics are concerned.

            Did you even read the link I posted? It contained comments from a former presiding judge of the FISA court! He wasn’t objecting to the statute or to the court review mandated under FISA, he objected to the warrantless surveillance that occurred outside of FISA (with the assistance of those same telecoms).

            As for your insistence that only fringe groups are opposed to this action:

            Opposition to immunity is widespread, cutting across ideology and geography. Majorities of liberals, moderates, and conservatives agree that courts should decide the outcomes of these legal actions (liberals: 64% let courts decide, 26% give immunity; moderates: 58% let courts decide, 34% give immunity; conservatives: 50% let courts decide, 38% give immunity).

            Link.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Based on your own poll numbers, 50% of ALL Americans want immunity and 50% think the courts should decide. I don’t understand what your point is.

            If you asked those same Americans the question: “Should telecommunications companies be held accountable for the law breaking of the president and his attorney general?” I bet you get much different results.

            Stop citing polls as justification for your opinions. Even allegorically from a sampling of this site, most people don’t think he should have thrown himself on his sword for law suits that will most likely be dismissed.

            Seems like common sense to me.

  • mentsmin

    This law has been in effect for thirty years, used by both republicans and democrats with nary a protest.

    You keep repeating this, and I’m a little confused as to why. I’m not objecting to the existence of the FISA Court, I believe that the FISA Court as it was functioning previously was an appropriate constitutional safeguard.

    What I object to is this administration’s flagrant violation of federal law and the acts of Congress that have basically enshrined those violations into law while shifting even greater power away from the courts and towards the executive. Throw in telecom immunity, and you have a very different FISA than what existed prior to.

    It is only in this election year that it becomes an imperative and is thus suspect as a principled stand when political motivations are a much more likely explanation.

    Again, confusion. Of course it’s an issue now…Congress just voted on the amendments!

    No offense, but I find it much more likely that those Democrats now defending Obama’s vote are the ones doing so with “political motivations.” My view on this subject is no different than it was when the administration’s illegal spying was first revealed.

    I voted for Obama in the primary and I will vote for him in the general, but my mind will not chance simply because his vote did.

      • JasonEverettMiller

        I am glad that you won’t change your mind on that at least, but perhaps it remains open to other ideas. I am not saying that Bush’s violations of the law aren’t important and shouldn’t be investigated.

        However, as many of the attorneys here have stated and what makes perfect sense to me as a layman, is that civil suits will not be the way to do that. Certainly civil suits that have a better than even chance of being dismissed isn’t the right vehicle for that.

        Further, our candidate believes the legislation provided necessary tools for national security. Given our current standing in the world, I am willing to actually buy that argument coming from someone I trust.

        Yes, this all need to be reviewed under a President Obama to see where we can tighten up controls moving forward to avoid this sort of thing in the future, which this legislation clearly doesn’t address. I also think we need to create an environment that makes being worried about our national security to such an extent an anachronism from an earlier age.

        We just don’t live in that country today, as much as I am trying to create it for my kids.

        • mentsmin

          It isn’t just the Bush Administration that did wrong. It’s difficult to take such a statute seriously when violators are quickly shielded from liability by the government.

          The idea that the telecoms felt compelled to break the law is laughable. They had no problems cutting off the government’s access when the bills weren’t paid. I’d say that those whose rights were violated deserve their day in court. How else can such abuses be prevented in the future?

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Actually, the time-line was Qwest had no problem calling the Bush administration’s bluff once they saw the long line of companies before them who cooperated and saw the law go unfulfilled; in other words, no warrants after the fact as required by statute.

            I’ll flip your question back on you: If all a person needs to do to win multi-million dollar judgments against a company for following what they took to be lawful orders why should they ever cooperate ever again?

            You keeping saying those whose rights were violated. Which rights were those? Their Constitutional rights? Because only a government can infringe on those and last I checked Bush wasn’t on the lawsuits in question.

            It is the Bush administration that must be held accountable for not following the statute. The telecommunications companies, whether you like it or not, have a proven defense against these charges.

            One I actually agree with.

            As horrible as I think this legislation is, it gives the president the right to do what he asked of these companies. They were legally bound to comply. If there is enough evidence to make the request at all, I think that should be enough for a warrant before hand at the last minute. Seems to be a stupid argument for a wire=tap in advance of court approval.

            Maybe a good compromise would be that you can download the data in question and sequester it for examination once the proper warrants have been awarded.

            Personally, I say we get rid of it altogether and just let the CIA do what they have always done overseas for these operations before 1978 – tap the phones at the source or whatever it is they are trying to capture.

            Or, even better, create an environment where a lot of the world’s bad guys feel it is necessary to kill us. That is the best long-term solution, though not terribly realistic today.

  • mentsmin

    I’ll flip your question back on you: If all a person needs to do to win multi-million dollar judgments against a company for following what they took to be lawful orders why should they ever cooperate ever again?

    Entities that deal in the private data of their customers should not be immune from civil suit simply because a government body requested that they break the law. I work in a similar area of law, dealing with public versus confidential information and the proper handling of it by the government and private entities.

    You keeping saying those whose rights were violated. Which rights were those? Their Constitutional rights? Because only a government can infringe on those and last I checked Bush wasn’t on the lawsuits in question.

    It is the Bush administration that must be held accountable for not following the statute. The telecommunications companies, whether you like it or not, have a proven defense against these charges.

    The aggrieved individuals possessed the ‘right’ to have their communications kept from government intrusion except as authorized by law.

    I don’t know how someone could believe that the telecoms are not liable here…a quick reading of the statute would show you that plaintiffs are specifically afforded a cause of action:

    § 2520. Recovery of civil damages authorized

    “any person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or intentionally used in violation of this chapter may in a civil action recover from the person or entity, other than the United States, which engaged in that violation such relief as may be appropriate.”

  • mentsmin

    …and furthermore…

    Telecommunications companies have repeatedly cut off FBI access to wiretaps of alleged terrorists and criminal suspects because the bureau did not pay its phone bills, according to the results of an audit released yesterday.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been sharply critical of the Bush administration’s surveillance practices, called on the FBI to release the full report. The group’s national security policy counsel, Michael German, also said that the report raises questions about the motives of large telecom firms, which have, in many cases, allowed the government to run wiretaps on their systems without warrants.

    “It sounds as though the telecoms believe it when the FBI says the warrant is in the mail, but not when they say the check is in the mail,” said German, a former FBI agent.

    Link.