Nobody Could Have Predicted . . .


The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. . . . The intelligence officials said the problems had grown out of changes enacted by Congress last July in the law that regulates the government’s wiretapping powers, and the challenges posed by enacting a new framework for collecting intelligence on terrorism and spying suspects.

(Emphasis supplied.) Well nobody could have predicted it except everyone who predicted it (See Glenn Greenwald and Digby.) But let's face it, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and all the the triangulators of your civil liberties knew exactly what they were doing. Of course, the stupidity of it all is even taking the crass and cynical view - just looking at the politics - they were wrong:

What motivated Pelosi and the Democrats to incur the wrath of their liberal base and allow one of the Administration's most controversial anti-terror policies to be extended? A mix of politics, pragmatism and some significant concessions. . . .

Stonewalling the Administration and letting the surveillance powers expire could have cost the Democrats swing seats they won in 2006 as well as new ones they have a chance to steal from Republicans this November. "For any Republican-leaning district this would have been a huge issue," says a top Pelosi aide, who estimates that as many as 10 competitive races could have been affected by it.

That was just wrong. It was not going to be a big issue for any swing voter. Anybody who cared about it was a committed vote already. It is worth remembering that Democrats have done nothing to earn the power they now hold. There were no great political strategies or tactic that explain the Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008. they won by default - by not being George Bush's party.

They have yet to prove any skill at governance. They are dominant politically because they are not Republicans. That's it. It remains to be seen what they do with their opportunity.

Speaking for me only

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    That's (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:54:20 AM EST
    why I didn't see winning the 2008 election at the presidential level as very important. For two years they did nothing but give George W. Bush whatever he wanted. They failed to hold him accountable for ANYTHING that he did and that continues to the this very day. I don't see how having another Cartersque four years is going to help the party at all. IMO, all leadership needs to be replaced. I'm tired of the milquetoast.

    The very fact that the Coingressional Dems chose (none / 0) (#18)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:25:53 AM EST
    Pelosi and Reid as their leaders tells me all I need to know about their commitment to accountability and principled governance. And I don't see any more principled people in Congress coming forth to challenge them.

    I've always counted on being able to look to the Democratic Party leadership for protection of civil liberties. Why, I now have no idea.


    I think the 2006 election was (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:09:34 AM EST
    won on a stand on ending the war in Iraq.  Sadly, it turned out that it was only a political tactic and not a real a goal.

    I agree that refusing to expand spying powers wasn't going to lose them any votes.  I've been thinking for quite some time now that the balance/relationship between political considerations and good governance is totally out of wack in the Dem leadership's minds.  The can't seem to take an idea on its merits and create a political opportunity.  They seem to only be able to consider ideas that in their minds are already defined as a political opportunity.  

    It is difficult to change the paradigm when you are unable to think outside of it.  Not very changey.  They're stuck in the same old box imo.  A box that is of their making.

    Expanding spying powers lost (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:19:40 AM EST
    them contributions, work, party membership and at least the vote of one person, Me.

    It is difficult to change the paradigm when voters base their vote on personalities rather than issues or are willing to vote for a politician for the sole reason that he is at least not as bad as the other guy.



    Agree completely. But what to do? (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:22:12 AM EST
    When one talks of third parties or alternatives, one is generally ridiculed or accused of enabling Bush's victory due to Nader.

    So what's left to do to effect real change?


    Rock meets hard place (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:47:06 AM EST
    Wish I knew the answer. Seems we get what I consider a Republican agenda either way. If that is the case, then I would rather send a message to the Democratic Party that I refuse to vote for that agenda and I will go elsewhere until they start supporting issues and positions that I support. Unfortunately, not enough people will follow that route to make a difference now (maybe never).

    I can only put forth my position for people to chew on and direct my own votes so that they do not support politicians who vote for agendas that I strongly oppose. IOW, it will be a cold day in hades when I vote for McCaskill again based on her votes on FISA, Iraq and other issues I care about.    


    Unfortunately (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:23:31 AM EST
    What needs to happen is a complete smackdown of the Democratic Party.  It would be easier if the R's were not full of extreme right wingers, but instead were more moderate.  If that was the case, the large numbers of people who left the Democratic Party (or rather, the Democratic Party left them) this year could've cast their votes for the R candidate and left the Dems shell-shocked.

    We always knew the R's were arrogant, but we are now waking up to the fact that the Dems are even more so.


    Personally, I do not view upholding the rule (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:50:40 AM EST
    of law and protecting the Constitution as left-wing ideas.

    It's the new reality (none / 0) (#10)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:52:57 AM EST
    Get used to it! :-<

    More than two years? (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:51:50 AM EST
    Separate from the new inquiries, the Justice Department has for more than two years been investigating aspects of the N.S.A.'s wiretapping program.

    As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general's office described as accusations of "significant misconduct" in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those accusations are said to involve whether the N.S.A. made Americans targets in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

    And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

    And yet, the Democrats in Congress could not only not bring themselves to draw the line, especially in light of what they had to already have known were serious problems, they cooperated in an effort that guaranteed that this kind of mis-use and violation of the program was likely to continue.

    I swear I just do not get it, I really, really don't.

    I have been a committed voter all of my adult life, but if our choices are to vote for Democrats who don't do their jobs in ways that keep the Republicans in check, and keep all administrations honest, or not voting, I may have to seriously consider not casting a vote for any more Democrats who just keep letting the people - and the country - down.

    Winning by default (none / 0) (#5)
    by Demi Moaned on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:36:50 AM EST
    I absolutely agree that Democrats won by being the un-Republicans. Next year and in '12, it's almost certain that the un-Democrats will have the advantage if conditions get worse in the US, as seems more than possible.

    If that happens, we're really in trouble. If the Republicans are swept back in to power, what we saw during the Bush years will seem tame.

    In the wind... (none / 0) (#13)
    by lambert on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:26:57 AM EST
    I wonder if this news has anything to do with this. Lawyers? Thoughts?

    FISA was a law on the books when (none / 0) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:28:43 AM EST
    Bush decided to disregard it. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution required warrants, something that was deemed unnecessary. Those are IMO facts and not opinions.

    BTW, seems that you are exercising the same conduct of moral superiority and demonization that you are accusing me of pursuing. Pot meet kettle.

    Please do not respond (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:40:19 AM EST
    to comments from users banned from my threads. All responses will be deleted.

    Aw, too bad (none / 0) (#16)
    by lambert on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:04:22 AM EST
    I was licking my chops... And the comment disappeared!

    Growing Up In The Sixties (none / 0) (#17)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:13:15 AM EST
    I became accustomed to a news media that often challenged official evils, or at least questioned them more aggressively. You had exposes of things like poverty, pollution, racism, etc. Our news media examined things.

    Or, as in the case of Vietnam, it simply showed us night after night the reality of a stupid war, and in that way, ultimately, shaped public opinion.

    It's hard for me to imagine this kind of blatent abuse of civil liberties being tolerated back then. I know we had COINTELPRO, and I'm also cynical enough to believe there are always (and have always been) sneaky incursions into our privacy that go unreported.

    But what I see now, not just since 9/11, but really, since the death of the post Watergate era when Reagan and his crew got so ensconced in power, is a seeming indifference on the part of the general public about challenging and trying to rein in gov't authority. And it shows up in the silence I hear from the media and the electorate on things like FISA.

    I know Americans have often tolerated more gov't power rather than less in terms of 'national security' behavior, but even among my friends--people I'd generally call liberal or progressive--there is a curious lack of outrage about things like this. Only one or two people who. like me, want this hammered on much more in the news media, and want to see an enormous groundswell of pressure brought to bear on the White House and Congress.

    Because (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:36:37 AM EST
    ...but even among my friends--people I'd generally call liberal or progressive

    It doesn't fit with their perception of reality.  If they supported Obama, they were told, and most likely believe, that he was this untainted knight on a white horse who would come to Washington to weed out all that was bad and sullied by Congress and the Bush Administration.  This was the meme pushed by the media, and will end up doing a disservice, not only to the American people, but to Obama himself, as no human could live up to that hype.


    No (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:15:13 PM EST
    The friends I'm talking about were Hillary supporters too so the 'can't/don't want to believe it about Obama' slant doesn't really hold.

    And among myself and all of my friends who have long supported Obama there was little starry-eyed idealism about the man.

    The people I talk to (most, not all) have their minds on other things like the economy and this has just not filtered through to them as an important concern.

    That's why I wish the media was on it more aggressively. (Not holding my breath.) Not everyone reads blogs or reads them every day.


    Reagan and Bush I years (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:57:19 AM EST
    NSA generally refused efforts to get them to operate domestically. the internal culture at NSA shifted during the 2nd Clinton term, when Hayden began widespread purges, initially by instituting pee tests, which led to more than a thousand resignations.

    It was the NSA blew the whistle on Ollie North's operations out of NSC, providing the Congressional Committees with the emails he thought he'd deleted. NSA ran the Withe house system, ollie had only deleted his own access to the files.


    Thanks, Ben (none / 0) (#22)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:21:00 PM EST
    It's great to hear that the internal culture at the NSA was still so principled back then.

    I referred to the dawn of the Reagan regime more in terms of what I think average citizens came to accept or anyway what they seem resigned to from our gov't. At least, that's my observation.

    I think almost 30 years of that authoritarian infection of the public mindset about governance has dulled some of the older astuteness about what's right and what's wrong, about what we should permit and what we must condemn.