Jun 27, 2008

Stupid is as Stupid Does
by aurabass as posted on Daily Kos
Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:03:14 AM EST

Sam Stein's SERENITY LOST: Obama And The Netroots notes a culmination of a week of wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth here among my fellow Kossacks over FISA and notice of a number among us who have gone so far as to withdraw support from the presumptive Democratic Nominee.

I hate to break it to my fellow liberals but this is just plain STUPID.

Last night Keith Olbermann's fine diary shows another side of the situation and makes valid points about the potential damage we do to our one last best hope of overcoming what we lost during the past eight years. Heed the words of John Dean and Keith and don't do anything STUPID.

I will place my liberal activist pedigree and history up against anyone including my arrest record and status as a radical left leaning Democrat, but my enthusiasm for seeing Barack Obama elected is not diminished by FISA.

It seems mine is one of the few voices in the wilderness asking some fairly simple questions of my liberal brothers and sisters. OBAMA IS RIGHT ON FISA was my attempt to get you to actually read the legislation and to stipulate the passages that you believe violate the Constitution of the United States. Only one Kossak, beijingbetty, bothered to come up with a section that she felt fell into that description when she cited some language in Section 705 with the 'emergency clause' and the section that dealt with information obtained using the emergency clause being inadmissible in court. At least she had something specific to list instead of reliance on the generalities of the ACLU letter, Glenn Greenwald and Hunter. I disagree with her but we had something specific to discuss. I see nothing in this FISA legislation that rises to the level of sufficient reason to desert Barack Obama.

I followed the OBAMA IS RIGHT ON FISA with THINGS WE LOST IN THE FISA FIRE as a way to address specific examples of things that could go wrong under the FISA legislation as a practical matter. Nobody could come up with a specific example of how their rights under the Constitution might be violated. In the end any question of Constitutionality of the provisions will be decided in court.

Diane Fienstein says this FISA improvement eliminates warrantless wiretapping and I believe she is correct. So that's a good thing isn't it? Or are you too busy being indignant to actually read the bill and point out where she is wrong?

I don't like the immunity provision (and neither does Barack Obama) but from a practical standpoint how does it effect us? An individual cannot sue AT&T because email was moved to an NSA computer where it may or may not have been read? What are the damages one could recover for that I wonder? In the end the immunity only stops civil suits of questionable value that would be decided by the courts.

The Constitutionality of immunity and any potentially unconstitutional aspect of the FISA bill will be decided in court. And that brings us to what is really important about this situation and really STUPID about those who are withdrawing or limiting support for Barack Obama based on his grudging support of this FISA improvement. The courts will decide and guess who appoints the judges who will hear those cases?

Well it will either be Barack Obama or John McCain. So the only real question we have to ask ourselves when we want to uphold the Constitution and feel the this bill violates the Constitution, is what will the courts decide concerning the Constitutionality of this FISA bill.

So back off of your support for Barack Obama and we can virtually guarantee a court that will care less about Constitutional protection for the right of privacy. A McCain appointee will be far more likely to judge privacy as a right not guaranteed by the Constitution. If that right of privacy you think the Constitution protects is important to you and by your actions you allow John McCain to become President what have you done?

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.
You will defend the Constitution by helping elect the guy who will fill the courts that rule on Constitutionality with more Scalias and Thomases.
Good work.

We can disagree over whether this bill is an improvement over the current act.
We can disagree over whether this bill ends warrantless wiretaps
We can disagree over the viability of civil lawsuits and damages to those who might have had email read by government agents.
But there should be no disagreement about who will rule on the Constitutionality of provisions in this bill that is going to pass no matter what we do. And there should be no disagreement that Obama appointed judges will be far more likely to rule on the side of our view of the Constitution.
Anybody saying they are liberal Democrats who fails to support the candidate most likely to give us the judicial nominees we want is doing something very STUPID.

Again I beseech you to offer comments that show definitive language in the FISA bill that you would like to see changed. According to Senator Feinstein we will have this bill as a moderate improvement or an extension of the old unamended Patriot Act and those are the choices. Killing this bill doesn't guarantee a better solution. How is that reasoning incorrect?

I wonder why Kossack aren't attacking AT&T and the other Telcoms where they live. Why are there no calls for a boycott of AT&T services and a well funded Move On campaign explaining to AT&T subscribers that they should switch their internet provider and phone service to companies who do not violate the Constitution and spy on their customers? If you want to hit the Telcoms go after their customers instead of concerning yourself with civil litigation that has little chance of success.

If this FISA bill ends warrantless wiretapping and improves however slightly on the current situation I can see no legitimate reason for attacking Barack Obama for not throwing his body on the tracks in front of a train that has already left the station. This bill will pass regardless of Obama's vote and while I can agree with Leahy and Feingold that it isn't enough I cannot see their alternative to the situation as described by Feinstein. What I see here from opponents is a lot of self-righteous indignation from folks who cannot specifically point to a single section of the bill that makes things worse than they are.

Finally, the FISA vote has been delayed and Senator Dodd will offer an amendment to strip the provision on Telcom immunity. That is the proper way to address provisions in this bill that are onerous to those who oppose it. So we have to ask ourselves why there are not additional amendments that seek to change language of other provisions in the bill? Perhaps Obama is right. Maybe there are no other provisions that require rewording to be acceptable to even the most vocal of the FISA opponents in the Senate. I would be quite happy to see the immunity removed regardless of whether Keith Olbermann and John Dean are correct and we might be better off with flawed language leaving an opening. The only way this delay is bad for us is if some of us continue to use FISA as a way to weaken the Obama candidacy.

Please allow our candidate to concentrate on winning by the largest possible margin and leave the FISA wrangling to Dodd and Feingold. Be willing to admit that other than a deciding vote on the bill or the amendment Obama's stand on FISA is not as important as his election to the Presidency. I find it odd that Kossacks can say his vote is a deciding factor in their support while denying that his vote may have an impact on the support of other Americans that are more concerned with security from attack than the constitutionality of the FISA provisions. How can you believe one is true and the other false?

On that basis to reduce your support and effort to elect Barack Obama and thus to improve the chances of Bush III McSame is just plain STUPID.
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