Glenn Greenwald and Matt Yglesias have a curious exchange (see Kevin Drum for the weirdness of the dispute) about President Obama and civil liberties. For the full argument, click the links, but I found these two quotes to be the key takeaways. Yglesias wrote:

"This is what I think: If public opinion were friendly to civil liberties, then public policy in the Obama era would be friendlier to civil liberties than it currently is."

I say duh. Obama is a pol. And they do what they do. I think the actual issue is identified in this from Yglesias:

[P]eople who want to halt the erosion of civil liberties need to do a better job of persuading people that the erosion of civil liberties would be a bad thing.

The question is, is Obama one of those "people?" And if so, why is he not doing more? Yglesias, like me, is cynical about politicians, and expects nothing from Obama on this. I do not see this as excusing Obama, but being realistic about him, and every pol. That is why a true progressive flank can never accept a role as cheerleader for any pol. Glenn chooses to criticize Obama. Me? I criticize the supposed progressive flank for being unthinking Obama cheerleaders. (NOTE: I have strong disagreements with Greenwald on certain civil liberties issues and find myself defending the position the Obama Administration has taken that Glenn disagrees with. But I make no pretense to being part of the progressive flank on civil liberties.)

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    If someone needs "convincing" (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:51:29 PM EST
    that sacrificing essential liberty for the illusion of safety is a bad thing, they're already too far gone to be reasoned with.  I mean this is bedrock of the republic sh*t...we can't send the 3/4 of country back to junior high civics.

    It's why I think the civil liberties game is over, like the privacy game...this puppy is too far gone.  We can only hope to put some speed bumps on the Tyranny Expressway.

    Agree in principle. Frequently wonder: (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:59:27 PM EST
    how could Lawrence Tribe's superstar student of search and seizure keep Bush's policies in place?  

    My guess... (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:07:06 PM EST
    any soul you may have left after fighting dirty for one of the dirty jobs is immediately seized upon inauguration by strongmen working for the tyranny industrial complex mafia.

    most frustrating aspect (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by CST on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:07:31 PM EST
    is that I felt at some point during 2008 the left was winning this argument, if only because during the campaign (even the general election one) that was the case Obama was making - and it won.  Even John McCain was more "moderate" on civil liberties at that time than he is now.

    At some point after the election that changed.  And I just wonder why, what happened, how did we lose control of that narrative so quickly.  Sure there were some close calls, but it's not even like we had another 9/11 where everyone freaked out.


    Maybe we misread the case... (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:19:38 PM EST
    Obama, and to a lesser extent McCain, were making.  It wasn't a strong support of civil liberties, it was just another way to bash, and seperate, from Bush.

    Like BTD always says...they're pols.  They believe in being pols and winning elections...principles don't even take a beack seat, they get thrown in the trunk under the spare.


    I think fear of another 9/11 must (none / 0) (#23)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:18:47 PM EST
    be trumping all else once they take office.

    I think Obama allowed and encouraged (none / 0) (#41)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:48:55 PM EST
     that argument because he was happy to ride an electoral wave of anti-Bush/Cheney sentiment - and happy to brand McCain and the GOP as the most likely to continue and extend the Bush/Cheney incursions.

    That wave was so strong that people allowed themselves to skip the due diligence on Obama, to not take a serious look at how much of a politician he was, and how likely he was to backtrack on promises or fail to do the work necessary to bring about the changes he campaigned on.  The signs were all there for anyone who wanted to look, but by the time we got to the FISA vote, it was all over but the shouting, and Obama was assured of the nomination and all but assured of a win in the general.  

    Once he was elected, it's not like we could demand a do-over - no one was going to take away his victory - so it wasn't so much that we lost control of the narrative, we just lost control altogether.  And that's the problem - we are not really in control.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in about a year, when Campaign 2012 starts to heat up; will people once again ignore what has happened right under their noses and once again dispense with their common sense in the midst of what I expect to be a heavy fear-the-GOP, the-other-guy-is-worse strategy?

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure they will.


    i guess that's the thing though (none / 0) (#43)
    by CST on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:57:24 PM EST
    it wasn't just obama, it was the whole country, even the gop was running away from bush in 2008.  I mean at the time it seemed like even a vote for McCain would have been better than Bush.  And now McCain has gone way to the right.

    Then all of a sudden it flipped.  The national polls, the media, and yes, the politicians.

    I guess my question is - what happened to that wave?  Because it feels like even the national desire for that change has disappeared.  Maybe it's Obama, and the wave was really just about him, but I think he tapped into something existing and was able to ride it to the top.  But now that wave has just died.


    Well, did you notice that when (5.00 / 6) (#50)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:17:38 PM EST
    Obama began to make some less-than-progressive decisions and backed away from his campaign positions, a fair number of Obama supporters went along with it - and gave excuses for doing so that ranged from "if Obama's doing it, it must be okay" to "he has to do this now, and later he will change it," to "just be patient - we are not smart enough to see what this visionary does - all will be revealed in due time" to "if we criticize, we undermine, and that helps the GOP."

    Hard to believe, but you can find examples of this thinking, still.

    That's why it got quiet; the cult of personality turned a lot of people who had been screaming about Bush for 8 years into hypocrites who didn't just stop screaming, they beat up on those who didn't.


    Campaign Promises (none / 0) (#52)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:21:17 PM EST
    Campaign promises are always to be believed when they are uttered by politicians with core principals, right?

    Utiopia was only a hairs breadth away... darn.


    I think a lot of people ... (none / 0) (#55)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:29:27 PM EST
    just wanted Bush with better packaging.

    I think (none / 0) (#57)
    by CST on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:36:08 PM EST
    There is a bit of a disconnect between Obama "supporters" who have a mic and people who voted for Obama and just go about their daily lives.  I think the first group was so invested in that support that they did what you are saying in your post.

    But I think a sizable amount of the people who actually voted for him did so because they thought he was saying better stuff than the other person during the election season.  And that's the group I'm wondering about.  I'm not talking about bloggers or writers or the "insiders" in the beltway.  I'm talking about the college kids and aging hippies.  Because I think for the most part they did and still do believe in that stuff.  Maybe they're just too sick and tired to make noise about it anymore.


    No Blood 4Oil: BP spill=Metaphorical blood loss (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by Ellie on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:29:11 PM EST
    When the Obama era groovily surfed to shore on the oBot app, his new Dumpling Dems/ OFA mistook their easy-peasy multi-tasked "activism" as the same as the head-busting kind that earned those rights during past eras (long gone by) in the first place.

    If there's a sense of anemia (Human Rights Fight Fatigue?), IMO it's from the thousand cuts delivered by Big Oil during the Bush/ Cheney appearances -- free speech zone anyone? -- followed by this jaw-dropping environmental disaster occuring now.

    Generation O has no idea what they let their guy run up on the tab that Frat Boy started.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#47)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:09:18 PM EST
    That wave was so strong that people allowed themselves to skip the due diligence on Obama, to not take a serious look at how much of a politician he was, and how likely he was to backtrack on promises or fail to do the work necessary to bring about the changes he campaigned on.

    There have always been cult worshipers. The funny thing is that somehow you seem to believe that had someone else been elected all would be rosy.... lol


    Never said that, dear. (5.00 / 7) (#53)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:25:48 PM EST
    Never.  I was never under any illusion that Hillary is or would be perfect; I'm still not.  A lot better on some issues I care about, yes - but not even close to perfect.

    What I knew without a doubt was that she would never be allowed to get away with the crap that Obama has - her feet would have been held to the fire without pause - and that likely would have made her much more responsive to her base, and given us much greater opportunity to move her where we wanted her to go.

    It serves no purpose to keep beating people over the head with Hillary; if people had done one-tenth the due diligence on Obama, they might have been able to light a fire under his feet when it was needed, but all they signaled was "it doesn't matter what you do, what you've done, what your record and history are - we support you."  It was a license no politician should ever be given.


    And the whole debate isn't ... (5.00 / 10) (#58)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:36:26 PM EST
    Obama vs. Hillary anymore.  It's Obama vs. Obama.  What people thought he'd do vs. what he's done.

    There was a lot of evidence in the campaign that he'd be the President he's become.  But many chose to ignore it, or deny it.  Why they did that seems a worthy subject of discussion.  Much more worthy than debating an imaginary Hillary presidency.


    Crystal Ball? (none / 0) (#56)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:35:56 PM EST
    What I knew without a doubt was that she would never be allowed to get away with the crap that Obama has - her feet would have been held to the fire without pause -




    Do you want to argue that she (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:58:08 PM EST
    would not have been held to a higher standard in all corners?  If so, knock yourself out; we'll still be here when you regain consciousness.

    No one needs a crystal ball to know that, squeaky, just a functioning brain.


    Really? (none / 0) (#60)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:00:38 PM EST
    Just takes a functioning brain? Well yours seems to contain a rather large blindspot, imo. It has seriously impairied your soothsaying abilities.

    squeaky, sorry but you're actually a case in point (5.00 / 4) (#72)
    by sj on Tue May 18, 2010 at 05:21:08 PM EST
    You are still holding HRC's feet to the fire and she's not even President.  If you were half as skeptical about Obama's actual supporters/decisions as you are about your imagined support of your imagined supporters imagined support for HRC decisions (and yes, that does scan, but not well) then you could sneer and lol away to your heart's content without the usual thread-jacking resulting.

    I happen to think a certain amount if skepticism is good and necessary.  But you only display such skepticism towards the imagined presidency of HRC.  I think you would (rightly) be displaying that skepticism if she had won the Presidency.  And that is what Ann is talking about.


    BS (none / 0) (#75)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:10:34 PM EST
    She was my Senator, I voted for her in the primaries, and moved on to Obama in the general. I never saw any difference in either of them and had no hope that either of them would be any kind of a progressive hope.

    I do like to make fun of those who saw some kind of huge divide between Hillary and Obama, and believed that Hillary was some sort of progressive mother teresa.

    I never was an Obama cheerleader, although I can imagine that some here may have thought so, because I took such delight in laughing at delusion of Hillary cultists, who landed at TL  in droves.


    Jesus, how old are you, twelve? (5.00 / 5) (#86)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 10:38:02 PM EST
    "Ooh, I like to make fun of the Hillary cultists;" "Ooh, I take such delight in laughing at delusion;" "I love to type LOLOLOLOL."

    Because this is all just so funny?  Really?

    Do you have a box full of flies with no wings, too?

    What do they call it when someone defends against criticism of Obama by laughing about Hillary?  

    Missing the point.

    What is just so ironic and twisted is that you use the Senator you claim to have voted for and supported in the primaries to deflect from the reality - the sad and disappointing reality - that Obama sucks.  And you take pride in knowing that he sucked and voting for him anyway.  

    Your ham-handed constant deflection doesn't hide the ugly truth of how the party manipulated the rules and disenfranchised voters to install their chosen one on the throne - a throne that is looking more and more like a garden-variety toilet.

    Grow up, for God's sake, and get over Hillary - the rest of us have.


    Rather Sensitive About Hil, No? (none / 0) (#89)
    by squeaky on Wed May 19, 2010 at 01:12:44 AM EST
    Yes, you do seem to be. (5.00 / 3) (#90)
    by Anne on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:17:47 AM EST
    But I think it is more like an obsession for you than anything else.

    I'd laugh, but that would be insensitive.


    Okay, (none / 0) (#77)
    by sj on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:18:27 PM EST
    but I never said you were an Obama cheerleader.  I said that you don't express the same skepticism.

    I Certainly Do (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:23:38 PM EST
    But given that there is so much irrational hate from those who love Hillary here, that more of my time is spent pointing out the sour grapes of that crowd, than jumping on the "Obama can never do anything to make up for the treatment he gave Hillary" bandwagon.

    I haven't noticed that much (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 07:00:01 PM EST
    "irrational hate" Squeaky. Or "irrational love" either. I have noticed that the dem party is divided. Or at least what used to be the dem party demographic is now in flux.

    Yeah, but it;s so much easier ... (none / 0) (#96)
    by Yman on Wed May 19, 2010 at 07:15:01 PM EST
    ... to use hyperbole and put imaginary words in the mouths of others.

    Come on Squeaky (5.00 / 7) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:05:12 PM EST
    I believe you believe this is true. I think you are just being contrarian now.

    Thee was already a built dislike for things Clinton in the Dem ranks, which is part of why Obama won.

    Hell, it was common throughout the Media so I supported Obama over Clinton.

    I at least think there would have been a more vocal Left Flank if Clinton were President.

    For the country no difference really imo, but the Left blogs have suffered imo.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:01:53 PM EST
    I never got involved with dkos or the other left blogs. Going from the blind faith in Hillary I saw here at TL, it would logically follow that they would behave just as the Obama cultists now,  had Hillary been elected.

    And considering the party machine that was behind both of them, I do not see any difference considering would be in the WH advising and insulating them from critics on the left. The nostalgia for a FDR type leader is nice but it may not be possible in this media soaked age with corporate contributions controlling the campaigns.

    And as much as I agree with you that Pols cannot be trusted and need to have their feet held to the fire, I believe that the progressive left blogoshpere, would have exactly as much an effect on Hillary as POTUS as they have on Obama, even if every blog were to scream at the top of their lungs, in Unison. OK I am a pessimist.

    The rightward swing of the Democratic party, pandering to a security minded phobic public primed by 8 years of BushCo fearmongering, is the driving force behind any POTUS today. I cannot imagine that a Hillary admin would have been one iota different.


    IMO it is one of the most interesting (none / 0) (#65)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:42:48 PM EST
    unintended consequences, that lefty blogs have suffered.

    Liberal blogs were a useful tool to dems in being against an opponent, and many let themselves be narrowed into that function. They were great for gotv. Yet, the vast majority of people do not read blogs and are not influenced by them. Neither do blogs control much money. It is only when a blogger gains prominence and begins to regularly appear on TV does their voice begin to really influence. And they generally have a good blog behind them. (like GG)

    Liberal blogs were good at whistle-blowing and watchdogging under Bush, but got caught in the partisan rah-rah of it all. Hey, it can be fun. But they were cast - and cast themselves - as sure thing partisan supporters. So in that sense, yes, "we" are to blame.

    Also, most republicans and TPers are sort of insane and do not represent facts. Most of it is name calling, so the left calls them names back further marginalizing itself by engaging on that level.


    Just do the math- she was tarred'n feathered over (3.50 / 2) (#64)
    by Ellie on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:37:04 PM EST
    ... malingering resentment for Fmr Pres. BILL Clinton's policies and practices during his 2xAdmins, PLUS her record in the Senate, AND for sh!t she didn't even do (the Clintons all of a sudden became racist for not bowing down before Teh One.)

    Do you see any media organ wailing on Michelle for stuff Obama's putting out there?

    You bought him, he pwn3s you squeak.

    I'm not addressing you by handle, btw, but invoking the sound that everyone around you will barely hear when the monuments to Obama crumble and the ensuing crushing debt obliterates you.

    I shorted on both the Bush and Obama admins so I'm riding out whatever happens the next decade in relative serenity. (My biggest problem is getting my CPA to stop drooling over my shoes when he kisses my feet at quarterly budget meetings.)


    That tarring and feathering (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by jondee on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:46:38 PM EST
    was already in high gear in the early nineties: when she was the shrill, crypto-marxist, "feminazi", neo-pagan high priestess of a secret, Mena based, coke-smuggling Spotted Owl cult..

    Personally, I think most of the damage had been done before '08.  


    Yes, in this way the primaries are still (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:54:06 PM EST
    relevant. Obama campaigned (good old really hardball - which is OK) against the dem party establishment in order to gain the nomination to the party. His campaign conflated Hillary and Bill and he actively campaigned that he was different and better than Bill. It was easy to steer the MSM into sexist prejudiced anti-Hillary and anti-Bill frenzy. His campaign said they wanted to re-organize the party demographic and I think it was successful. No matter if I like it or not, it worked. So now the party demographic is re-organized but it was not really - that is, it is not settled yet. And I really think that a portion of the dem party has not landed yet.

    Hmmm (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by Spamlet on Tue May 18, 2010 at 05:18:22 PM EST
    Obama campaigned (good old really hardball - which is OK) against the dem party establishment in order to gain the nomination

    My impression was that the Democratic Party establishment "made" and promoted the neophyte Obama in order to crush Hillary Clinton. In other words, the Democratic Party establishment had already shifted its center of gravity before 2008 and was no longer synonymous with All Things Clinton (if it ever really had been). That is part of what 2008 revealed to those who had not already noticed.

    Agree that Obama then played hardball, and agree that it was OK for him or any other candidate to do so. In fact, I had been waiting eight years for ANY Democratic presidential candidate to play hardball. Obama certainly did, though it appears that he reserves that game for his fellow Democrats.


    Well, that's intresting Spamlet (none / 0) (#74)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:01:58 PM EST
    You are most likely right, and I was one who didn't notice being wrapped up in disliking Bush. Do you have any further ideas? Was it Dean and Rahm? Who owns the power and picks the power players?

    oops my # 67 is response to Ellie (none / 0) (#68)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:54:53 PM EST
    Yep -- His campaign was admirably slick, (4.25 / 4) (#70)
    by Ellie on Tue May 18, 2010 at 05:16:41 PM EST
    ... though morally and ethically bankrupt. His team's still trying to dodge responsibility by pretending to scold Congress after they do something he wanted all along, &C. At some point, the Cheese Stands alone; OR not.

    Oh well. Either way, I won't be paying so I've ceased to give a crap (except to continue to fight for issues I've always held dear.)


    Hillary and Bill (none / 0) (#100)
    by norris morris on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:04:24 PM EST
    Obama played hardball down and dirty politics in the primaries.

    Yet he walks on water?

    Please. Obama is a Chicago pol.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#76)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:11:42 PM EST
    And the tea party, fox et al, just loooove Obama.

    Nonsense (none / 0) (#79)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 06:24:59 PM EST
    You bought him, he pwn3s you squeak

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sorry to disappoint you.


    Why, yes (none / 0) (#94)
    by Emma on Wed May 19, 2010 at 06:51:43 PM EST
    The funny thing is that somehow you seem to believe that had someone else been elected all would be rosy

    Yes I do.  lol


    Yes (none / 0) (#95)
    by squeaky on Wed May 19, 2010 at 06:58:26 PM EST
    Which is fine, and rather obvious. Many here are the mirror of those who saw Obama as the messiah..

    So if it's (none / 0) (#97)
    by Emma on Thu May 20, 2010 at 04:19:00 PM EST
    so "fine" and "rather obvious" why do you keep clogging thread with your suppositions?

    Notice I didn't say who that somebody else was.


    Clogging? (none / 0) (#98)
    by squeaky on Thu May 20, 2010 at 04:22:07 PM EST
    Do you fancy yourself as a virtual rotor router..

    Obama Unlimited (none / 0) (#91)
    by norris morris on Wed May 19, 2010 at 04:10:18 PM EST
    The unqualified approval and mindless worship of Obama is somewhat responsible for his behavior.Of course if one is loved unconditionally for doing absolutely nothing, or doing the opposite of what was promised, the results are going to be that you elected a Pol. Period.

    The Obamabots haven't allowed healthy and necessary criticism, questioning, and so impeded a healthy political rebellion from we the people.

    Without pushback, elected officials go their way and feel their political strength is unlimited.

    Obama's behavior and policies on many levels needed to be questioned with a loud voice from Democrats and Independents. Obama fanatics have not helped to create a decent healthcare bill, or so many other issues that have gone on undeterred by public opinion from the left and the center.

    Obama has just had a lesson re: Specter.But is he emotionally connected enough to really learn from this? I dunno.  Obamabots still continue giving unqualified love and approval that hurts us all.


    Obama Holding Bush's Place (none / 0) (#99)
    by norris morris on Sat May 22, 2010 at 09:01:18 PM EST

    Because as you said, he's a pol. Yglesias is ridiculously vapid and hypocritical in excusing Obama's behavior by indicating it's OUR fault because we don't speak up enough, blah blah.
    Another left wing zealot who hasn't even got the guts to be angry and upset.

    Speak Up??  We certainly did.
    We voted Obama into power. Now it's Obama's turn to speak up.

    He has consistently covered Bush's military positions,enacted a giveaway terrible healthcare program which benefits big business, delayed into 10 years  the hope seniors had of getting a break on their drugs by closing the donut hole, which Obama delayed and titrated into oblivion. He did not permit Medicare & the government to purchase drugs at reasonable costs, and the current legislation regarding our Wall Street scum is inadequate.  They remain to big to fail instead of being broken up.

    There's more, but this is just a comment, eh?

    We have a president who allowed 30 years of struggle by women to be ignored, by punishing anti abortion legislation to replace previously won rights.

    So can we expect candor,sinlight,and bold action regarding BP and the oil spill?

    I say no. Yglesias is nowhere on this and it's embarrassing he isn't loudly demanding more from Obama. The oil spill goes on without any real direct pressure from the WHouse.

    As the BP spill continues and Obama remains cute and timid, I wonder who Yglesias will blame for covering up and tolerating a cover up by BP?



    I'd like to think you are wrong (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:06:36 PM EST
    But I see no evidence against you at the moment.

    So, it's our fault? Is that what (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Anne on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:20:13 PM EST
    Yglesias is saying?

    I don't think the answer to her question is particularly difficult -- people who want to halt the erosion of civil liberties need to do a better job of persuading people that the erosion of civil liberties would be a bad thing.  If you have an incumbent administration being urged by the opposition to seize more power, and the public wants the administration to seize more power, then you get what we have today. People on the good team are sometimes in denial about opinion on this subject, but read the numbers -- the public wants Guantanamo Bay open, wants suspects tried in military courts, and thinks we should give up more civil liberties in order to enhance security.

    Is this part of the "make me do it" school of leadership?

    Not only does the public not always get what it wants, often it shouldn't, because even if the public wants to ignore the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it really is the responsibility of those in power not just to observe the rights encapsulated and enumerated in those documents, but to preserve them.  Even the founders recognized that the power of any majority can threaten these rights, can threaten the democracy itself, which is why they didn't make it easy to make changes based on the resident party-in-power or popular opinion.

    Yes, we as a people should absolutely make our voices heard in opposition to the erosion of civil liberties; having these rights doesn't mean we have no responsibility to safeguard them in whatever way we can.  But, what do we do when our voices are ignored?  We all know that laws can be changed, new laws written, executive orders issued, with surprising alacrity when it suits the purposes of those with the power to do so - but we only have an opportunity to vote every 2-4 years, so what's our recourse in the meantime - and what are the chances bells can be un-rung or the toothpaste put back in the tube, once it's a done deal - and a "friendly" Supreme Court puts the final blessing on it?

    The larger picture here is that even if public opinion is making it easier to chip away at our rights, the overriding obligation to serve the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should outweigh the temptation to use that public opinion to accrue and accumulate power; there are probably a hundred reasons why we are at the point where we are having this conversation, but unfortunately, I see nothing on the horizon that gives me reason to think we, the people, will ever get back the power - and the rights - we have ceded to those who have steadily been taking it away.

    Well we are responsible... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:32:35 PM EST
    for those we elect to mind the store...so yeah, it is our fault.  And frankly Yglesias is right that tyranny-lite is more popular than an unwavering respect for civil liberty that might be a little more dangerous right now.  I'd be scared to death if the nation voted on a referendum to nuke every muslim country, cuz that sh*t would probably pass....this is who we are as a nation.

    Classic its gotta get a lot worse before it gets better situation Anne...those that are behind the tyranny-lite agenda are gonna have to get stomped on to see the err in their beliefs...I wish there was a better faster way.


    I agreed with Matt (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Maryb2004 on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:34:00 PM EST
    I especially liked this:  

    "Obviously a more effective approach would be to develop a mind control machine that allowed us to force Obama to bend to our will. But I don't think that's a practical proposal."

    LOL... (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:36:57 PM EST
    yeah...everybody knows only the CIA has access to the controls of the Mind-Control 3000:)

    Yeah (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:37:50 PM EST
    It would be a civil rights violation... lol

    Matt is Right (none / 0) (#92)
    by norris morris on Wed May 19, 2010 at 04:17:17 PM EST
    I agree with Matt, but it still takes a Village.
    And I don't mean Obamabots.

    Public opinion and strong pushback can make a difference and the hero worship Obama has received is entirely unearned. Fanatics on either side hurt us all.

    Matt is correct on principle, but the groundswell must come from us who dare to question and criticize, and yes demand.  This kind of reaction is very complelling when politicians realize they need us.  Rham predicted that Obama could do as he wished with Healthcare because his followers would fanatically follow, and the rest of us progressives weren't necessary. And oh yes, where else could we go?  This is the kind of cynicism and reality that runs Obama & Co.


    May be there is a more fundamental problem ... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by nyrias on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:00:53 PM EST
    1. Fear works. There is a reason why fear exists. People who are afraid of heights are less likely to fall and die from high places. That is nature defense mechanism.

    2. People are risk-averse. Better safe than sorry as long as it is NOT my liberty that you take away. Thus, outcry of the no-fly list because it is an inconvenience to ME. But whatever you want to do to a few hundred terrorists? Be my guest.

    3. Civil liberties like Miranda rights impact very few people. How many accursed terrorists are impacted? 10, 100? Most people won't expect it to affect them .. and statistically they are CORRECT.

    The thing both of them seem ... (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:30:15 PM EST
    to ignore is that the protection of the individual against an over-reaching state is one of the bedrock principles of the constitution.  And the fact that public opinion would often go against these rights was clearly understood by the founders. That's why we have a bill of rights.

    what pi**es me off is the idea (3.00 / 2) (#36)
    by mexboy on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:16:46 PM EST
    that the electorate has to lead the leader!

    What the electorate lacks is courage to not vote for the posers we are given to "chose" from.

    I disagree with just about anything from the Tea Party, but I admire their determination and energy. They are doing!

    What pi55es me off is the idea (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Jack E Lope on Tue May 18, 2010 at 10:34:45 PM EST
    that a pol who changes his or her mind about an issue is "unprincipled", or some variation of that theme.  One man's "flip-flopper" has - in the eyes of another - finally realized the truth....

    But that's tangent to the issue at hand.  Sorry.


    I think you have a point (none / 0) (#42)
    by ZtoA on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:49:07 PM EST
    But most people are just not paying attention and are still steeped in identity politics and see issues completely thru that lens. They will always cheer for who their identity aligns with. So, if they are going to cheer less then their entire orientation to political leadership will have to be challenged. I'm not holding my breath.

    And for those who are paying attention their vote is about the only tool they have to force a politician to listen. Money works better.


    You said it yourself mex... (none / 0) (#45)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:02:32 PM EST
    since the electorate seems totally unable to think & act outside the two-party box and elect an actual, ya know, leader...we gotta try and lead the spineless jellyfish we do elect outta the two-party box.

    It's a non ending vicious cycle. (none / 0) (#61)
    by mexboy on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:01:56 PM EST
    We can never do enough to force them to live up to the oath--to defend the constitution--they take when they take office.

    The only thing that can change things is a revolt. Like the Tea Party, but without the hate.


    I disagree (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:30:57 PM EST
    I think Glenn has the better argument - public opinion follows Obama --> he does not follow public opinion (see public option, Wall Street bailouts etc.). Matt's argument is "If we only push harder, he'll change his ways." Sure he will.  Maybe if we close our eyes and tap our heels together three times, he'll give ponies to everyone too.

    That's not disagreeing (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:36:10 PM EST
    That's wishing Obama was a different kind of pol.

    He isn't.


    Yes yes yes ... human beings suck so Neener Neener (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Ellie on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:48:36 PM EST
    Jeebus effin cee BTD pleass kill off this addled Pols are Pols axiom already. It would be the next best service to your fellow (wo)man than actually obliterating Washington.

    Ah (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:39:28 PM EST
    Well, I never had any "hope" of that.  I figured whoever got into office was not going to roll back the Bush/Cheney executive powers - I just never dreamed a Democrat would expand them.

    Obama has not expanded them (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:41:46 PM EST
    Unless you are referencing the Miranda proposal issue, in which case, this is Obama seeking Congressional action, action which would be unconstitutional BTW.

    I think nothing will come of it.


    Did any Obama's predecessor (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:45:31 PM EST
    issue a capture or kill order re any U.S. citizen by name?

    Im sure Bush (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:49:49 PM EST
    was much more discreet about it.

    We have no way of knowing, do we? (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:49:51 PM EST
    Lots of Texans think Johnson (none / 0) (#8)
    by jes on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:50:09 PM EST

    I think so (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:54:03 PM EST
    But that is not an expansion of Executive power imo.

    Suppose Bush knew John Walker Lindh was with the Taliban. If he had said "kill and capture Lindh," how would that have been different?


    But the Bush admins. afforded (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:04:04 PM EST
    Lindh vigourous due process.  Why?  Because he was raised Lutheran?  Because he is blonde?

    Obama could offer the same to Al-Alwaki (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:07:42 PM EST
    if captured.

    But Bush could have held Lindh as a POW.


    Agree. (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:12:18 PM EST
    No segue.  Just read in Wiki there was a musical about Lindh at NY Fringe Festival!

    Ruby Ridge (none / 0) (#31)
    by Rojas on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:39:17 PM EST
    Was a kill order.
    I would say the gas insertion at the Davidian complex was a kill order as well. Certainly the insertion of gas in the concrete vault would have and probably did kill the infants and children who sought refuge in there.

    Ruby Ridge involved a shoot to kill (none / 0) (#63)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 04:14:46 PM EST
    order as to armed adults following a surrender order.  Very poor and very deadly law enforcement.  

    I believe (none / 0) (#69)
    by Rojas on Tue May 18, 2010 at 05:11:34 PM EST
    It was kill any adult with a weapon...
    Amended to kill any adult male with a weapon...
    No surrender order prerequisite.

    Poor and deadly, but it got the presidential seal of appoval.


    I am relying on Wiki "Ruby Ridge" (none / 0) (#81)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 08:06:38 PM EST
    article.  What the order sd. and what happened differed significantly.

    Pushback & Fear Work (none / 0) (#93)
    by norris morris on Wed May 19, 2010 at 04:22:21 PM EST
    Politically. All politicians fear the voters.

    If we make enough noise and mean it, we can influence far more than we have been led to believe.

    Yes politicians may fear getting financial support more from corporate/Wall Sr. america.

    But we haven't done our job either.


    I agree with Matt (none / 0) (#12)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:01:09 PM EST
    And also would like to know the anwer to your questions: is Obama one of those people, and if so why is he not doing more abbot it?

    Civil liberties need a spokesman with access to airtime.People in this country seem to only be persuaded by someone on the teepee, preferably someone they want to have a beer with.  If Obama will not fill that role, we need someone else.

    Ha- teevee (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:01:49 PM EST
    Which "people"? The persuaders or (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:05:09 PM EST
    those to be persuaded.  Confusing.

    I thought they were referring (none / 0) (#20)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:11:18 PM EST
    to Obama as one of the potential persuader people. But if he needs to be persuaded himself, BTDs question is answered.

    "Teepee," "Teevee" (none / 0) (#22)
    by Zorba on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:17:33 PM EST
    You were right the first time, ruffian.   ;-)

    Maybe my spell check knows best (none / 0) (#25)
    by ruffian on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:19:41 PM EST
    Cheerfools to Obama (none / 0) (#33)
    by szielinski on Tue May 18, 2010 at 01:51:59 PM EST
    Lead on Macduff....

    BTD, you need to be more cynical ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:08:03 PM EST
    about bloggers. And view them through the prism of their real aims.

    Read between the lines (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:38:39 PM EST
    Okay, but sometimes ... (none / 0) (#44)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:59:16 PM EST
    it seems like it needs to be more than just implied.  After all, bloggers are bloggers.  They do what they do.

    The problem with MattY's line: he, like most of us (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ellie on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:20:05 PM EST
    ... has nowhere near the terrifying sense of what it's like not to be able to draw hard and tight on a particular rights protection at the abrupt time it is il/licitly denied.

    Is Well, ya dope, ya shouldda fought harder for human rights when you had the luxury, huh? what MY intends to yell as the latest menace II society's ass is dragged past his section of the gauntlet? (A 'hood so dire there's hardly any crema in the espresso at all!)

    Please. Miranda? A mouthpiece? Unh Unhhh. They take you, you go, you're gone. It could be decades before you see daylight again, and that's if you're lucky enough to have an advocacy TEAM fighting for your release.

    Most of the disappeared wither, rot and die and no one gives a sh!t.

    I find these argument about (none / 0) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:24:47 PM EST
    civil liberties amusing when you consider Kagan's position on free speech.

    I mean you folks do support Kagan, don't you?


    Reluctantly... (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by kdog on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:13:35 PM EST
    because a SC candidate with a strong civil liberties record was never in the cards, I mean as far as I know they didn't even call Ron Kuby to gauge his interest:)

    Since the justice we need is outta the question, might as well get a Mets fan.


    She's a Mets fan? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:18:50 PM EST
    Now I feel much better about her.  At least now I know she's known pain in her life.



    Only if she's not a secularist (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by jondee on Tue May 18, 2010 at 10:04:25 PM EST
    and supports the Rev Moon.

    Despite the constitution ... (none / 0) (#46)
    by Robot Porter on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:07:12 PM EST
    saying "no law", SCOTUS has found numerous reasons to abridge free speech.  And I've never been convinced that the "peaceably" in "peaceably assemble" bears any relation to the "no law" phrase in regards to speech.

    Moonie Times.... lol (none / 0) (#48)
    by squeaky on Tue May 18, 2010 at 03:11:36 PM EST
    Yeah corporations are people too... lol

    For the purposes of The 16th Amendment? (none / 0) (#87)
    by Jack E Lope on Tue May 18, 2010 at 10:38:34 PM EST
    Oh please oh please oh please....