Obama's FISA update

Ari Melber has been doing the reporting:

Protesters are storming Barack Obama's website. But they all support Obama.

A grassroots group of activists has been organizing on MyBo, Obama's official social networking portal, to protest the Senator's recent decision to back controversial legislation granting the President more spying powers. The effort hit a big milestone on Tuesday afternoon: It is now the largest self-organized group on Obama's website, topping networks that were launched over a year ago. The spying protest, "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right," launched last week. (See Obama Network Organizes and Revolts Over Spying, The Nation.)

Membership spiked to about 8,900 people on Tuesday, edging out a student group with roughly 8,600 members, and one organizer estimated that the growth rate reached a rapid four percent during the daytime.

It's over 10,000 now.

Jeff Jarvis had some good thoughts on the effort:

I've argued since Howard Dean's run in 2004 that campaigns aren't or can't really be bottom-up when it comes to policy. They are necessarily propagandistic: This is what the candidate says. Indeed, Dean's supporters acted like white blood cells in his blog discussions quite effectively surrounding and strangling dissent and opponents in the bloodstream. That's the way campaigns have to work if you're going to decide what this guy stands for and whether to vote for him, right? It's about the message, no?

... I find two things fascinating about this: First, we are beginning to see a campaign built openly on coalitions. Even though I disagree with them, I am happy to see the anti-immunity lobby crack the monolithic, glassy-eyed facade of the Obama fan club (the sort of people who yell at me in my comments and tell me I'm not allowed to disagree with him about anything). Thank goodness we see disagreement and discussion -- democracy -- inside a campaign. I believe the greatest impact the internet will have on politics will be that it enables like-minded groups to find each other and organize apart from old organizations and labels (red, blue, Republican, Democrat); we will organize around issues and priorities rather than parties. See the comments under  this post.

Second, I wonder what these self-organizing groups will look like when they get into power. The Deaniacs and Joe Trippi made valiant attempts to stay organized after their campaign melted but that didn't work. If Obama gets into the White House, though, will his supporters at MyBarackObama continue to use these tools to influence him and government? And will he have to listen because he is beholden to them?

What I find ironic is all of the naysaysers within the comments on the Nation after Ari's post. Belittling, of all things, the numbers. This is a moment that has been a long time in waiting, when the netroots would turn toward organizing effectively within the institutions around which have they have campaigned for heavily, first with Dean in '03 and all the races in-between then and now with Obama in '08. Fundraising and mobilization have happened around campaigns, but the FISA organizing is more powerful and portends the future. This is going to be a clash that continues to happen, between many first-timers, that have been brought into politics through Barack Obama, and those that have been pushing for progressive policies through the netroots over the decade.

Now, I do understand the argument that we need to get power first, getting a strong Democratic trifecta, before the push for progressive reform begins to happen, but the efforts around FISA over the past year point the way, this merely the latest example.

Joe Trippi makes a note in the comments:

Jeff I want to make two points: The Dean campaign did not extend itself for two reasons. 1. Many immediately turned to the 2006 elections and got involved and made a big difference including some major upsets and big wins. Yes people did not "stay" in a "Dean Community" but most helped build the vibrant progressive community we see today. 2. The many of the tools that exist today (including most of the social networking tools that exist today) were either non existent or barely off the ground in 2003. I think it wasn't possible til now - til 2008 for a candidate (or the supporters of a candidate) to build something that would last beyond the campaign. I believe that the next President will stand at the end of the Television Presidency and at the beginning of the Networked Presidency in which the President and the people will connect and work to pass their agenda together, where they can and do agree. Obama could be that President. I stopped being disappointed a long time ago -- if you wait for the perfect candidate its a long long long wait.
It demands a balance, between pressuring for the politicians to walk the talk, and realizing that we have to get them elected in the first place. The dogmatism on both sides of the argument is better off rejected. At the congressional level, what good is it to get rid of a Blue Dog Democrat in a primary that will get replaced by a Republican in the GE? I have no problem with supporting primary challenges against incumbent Democrats by more progressive candidates in CD's where we will win in the GE regardless, but lets be strategic about it. At the presidential level, there was no such push against John Kerry over any of the issues in '04. I'm a bit surprised that Obama is getting challenged from within, but as Trippi points out, it takes having the tools to organize effectively. As pointed out over on the next right, the dissent from within is a powerful asset for Obama:
Rather than react in accordance with the practices of most campaigns by shutting and muffling dissent Obama is providing dissidents (many of whom are supporters of his) the opportunity to organize on his campaign web-site. When last I looked over 140  opponents of Obama's decision to support FISA have banded together on his site to launch an anti-FISA campaign.

The Obama campaign has made the courageous decision to keep his dissidents under his tent and armed with the tools his campaign can provide to organize. Can you imagine a Bush campaign reacting like this? I can't. But if we are going to campaign effectively on the web we must understand that power resides in the grassroots and the days of autocratic control from above are over.

Now, the real test comes when Obama next speaks/votes on FISA.

Tags: Barack Obama, jeff jarvis, Joe Trippi (all tags)



Re: Obama's FISA update

Do not hold your breath Jerome. With a good candidate, I mean one who is politically astute, this effort would probably pay off.

Obama already knows what's right for you.

Please, please STFU! and let The One lead.

'Course that is a problem since he does not appear to have any particular direction he wants to go in...

Except the office of President.

by Pericles 2008-07-02 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update


Clinton for President, one with balls.

by Pericles 2008-07-02 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

I'm glad you added that last part.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-02 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

The lines between snark, sarcasm, and genuine dislike of Obama have become somewhat blurred around here.

There are regular accusations that "Obamabots" will defend everything he does, but I just plain don't see it (as evidenced by this article). In fact, it seems to me that it's the other crowd who are obsessed with Obama. Everything he does becomes a test of his progressive credentials. Everything he says is scrutinized and occasionally taken out of context to prove a point.

aliveandkickin is a perfect example of this. Every article and every comment is devoted to Senator Obama. Jerome only seems to peek his head above water to write articles about Obama.

So... who's obsessed?

by not Brit 2008-07-02 07:54AM | 0 recs
The one with balls

is constitutionally prohibited from being President.

by JJE 2008-07-02 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Classic , mojo to u

and now to wait for an encore from the "No you can't question our O" crowd.

by aliveandkickin 2008-07-02 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Yeah, I can't wait for that to happen.  That's going to be so great

by MeganLocke 2008-07-02 06:13AM | 0 recs
And if Obama passes the test

will you give him a passing grade?  

by GFORD 2008-07-02 05:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

He's already staked out a position.  It's almost impossible for him to buckle under, even if it's from his own supporters.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-02 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

" This is not the FISA I knew" when I was against it.

by aliveandkickin 2008-07-02 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update


by MeganLocke 2008-07-02 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

The position he has now, doesn't appear to be his original position.  So what is to keep him from changing even further?  Are we to have a candidate who can move all over the place, but who is acceptable in his methods just because he allow dissent within his campaign and the people who follow him.  Wouldn't it be more effective to have a candidate who is consistant, yet still allows dissent?  That certainly would have more of an effect on people, than this way.

by Scotch 2008-07-02 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

The fact that Obama's campaign is providing a platform for supporters who are opposed to his FISA position and can do that without losing the campaign's messaging and focus is a sea change.

Excellent diary.

by hankg 2008-07-02 06:19AM | 0 recs
Obama's FISA mistake
Obama did 2 mistakes in 2 days:
and he is now suppoting Bush's faith-based programs:
Shame on Obama!
He behaves not as a "liberal" or "progressive" or Democrat, he is basically betraying his supporters in hope to gain some votes in November.
It is a huge mistake...
by engels 2008-07-02 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA mistake

I think his faith based initiative is brilliant. I'm not to thrilled with his FISA position though.

I don't expect to agree with the candidate I support on many issues. Neither Hillary or Obama supported single payer health care but I preferred either of them over Kucinich who did.

I expect he will do a lot of things in office I will love and others I will hate. Anyone who thinks it would be otherwise whether the president was Hillary or Barack is living in a fantasy world.

You need a cunning, calculating and ambitious politician if you want to seize power from the rethuglicans. I think both Clinton and Obama fit that description. Based on his performance up until now I would not bet against Obama's campaign strategy.

Engels you need to update your sig, Latinos and woman are in Obama's corner by huge margins. How about: Welcome to a Landslide without white males and seniors? Then you can adjust from there as November approaches.

by hankg 2008-07-02 06:58AM | 0 recs
How so are those mistakes?

You should try reading the articles you link before flying off the handle.

Here is the first paragraph on faith based intitiatives:

ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations, vowing to achieve a goal he said President Bush had fallen short on during his two terms...
Bush failing? Expanding social services? Hmmm...

As for FISA, while I wish the telecoms didn't get immunity in the deal, FISA is really a netroots pet issue, last on the minds of the millions more who will vote in November. And how does Bush's illegal wiretapping program continue under the compromise Obama supports?

by iohs2008 2008-07-02 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: How so are those mistakes?

no public money (including my taxes) should go to ANY religious organizations: they all separated from state BY LAW!

by engels 2008-07-02 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: How so are those mistakes?

Under Obama's rules the money would go to secular aid services run by churches not to the churches religious activities. Considering that in many poor communities church's play a big role in local social services it can be a good idea if done right.

It also is a big deal to Hispanic evangelicals who number in the millions and the 50% of white evangelicals who are not totally committed right wing Republicans.

Obama can't write off Evangelicals or gun owners anymore then he can write off white working class men. He does not need a majority he just needs to cut into the Republican margins to have a dominant national coalition.

by hankg 2008-07-02 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: How so are those mistakes?

oh yeah he needs to win regardless of how. we heard it before. don't whine after landslide lost in November

by engels 2008-07-02 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: How so are those mistakes?

Still waiting for a loss? About as disconnected from reality as your sig.

by hankg 2008-07-02 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA mistake


Obama not perfect.  OMG!

As Barney Frank said, "I once voted for the perfect candidate. But by the time I ran for re-election, that wasn't true anymore."

Take what you can get and then work to make it better. Obama is, by far, the best we are likely to get, and get actually elected, in some time.

by mjshep 2008-07-02 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

 Sweet Jeebus, the Anti-Obama horde has reconstituted itself. Their like fucking zombies!

by xdem 2008-07-02 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

It nice and sunny here in GA. I look forward to a beautiful day .

by aliveandkickin 2008-07-02 06:54AM | 0 recs
Jerome's post was fair

As for the PUMAs, Dixiecrats, and freepers, they'll come out of the woodwork any chance they get. There isn't much to crow about these days. After all, the gap between Obama and McPain is widening, and more states are turning blue in the little map up there.

The irony is, they are demonstrating their inability to read by pouring in -- there is nothing inherently anti-Obama about Jerome's post (in fact, it is the most pro-Obama post I have ever seen from him).

by iohs2008 2008-07-02 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Or as I like to think of them---The losers who as kids never were taught by their parents how to lose with dignity.

LOL...yeah they are back with a vegeance.

And as we know, warmed over crap--is still crap.

by GeeMan 2008-07-02 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

If Obama really stood for something in FISA and his supporters were trying to convince him otherwise, with him still open to them, that would be one thing.  But Obama flips back and forth,  one minute supports something and then doesn't follow through.  He presented himself one way and voted otherwise. You can't have a candidate that the followers mold into what they want him to be, and who has no solid dependability.  Only if the candidates beliefs are solid, and followed by action will progressives steps in influencing him mean anything, otherwise his changes are just pandering and will be viewed that way. Not being consistant in his presentation of his beliefs, is what leads to the view of him as an empty suit.

by Scotch 2008-07-02 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Yup.. It is like Jerome has been hiding in the dark.. waiting for Obama to do something that allowed Jerome legitimate criticism. Jerome and his Clinton loyalists now have it.. and will beat this drum to death...  

by sc1962 2008-07-02 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

So you accept it as a legitimate criticism. Good :)

by devil 2008-07-02 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Did you actually read the post? More like praise.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-02 07:32AM | 0 recs
Where is Clinton on this?

The Clintonistas tell me she is a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party.  Why doesn't she use her considerable power to kill the FISA bill?  It would take the pressure off Obama.

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-02 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

Agreed..  That is the irony here. Everyone one of these Clinton fans who are so "shocked" that Obama is staking the middle ground on this or any other issue (yes I think he is on the right path to victory and I support him) fail to realize that Clinton would never take a more left position.  In fact if she was the nominee, you could bet she would be moving even farther right..

by sc1962 2008-07-02 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

Neither she, nor her supporters ever portrayed her as the champion of the left. But many Obama supporters did. So it was expected of her.

On an other note, Clinton cannot go against FISA now. People will see this as her trying to undermine Obama. If she doesn't she is used as an excuse for Obama not taking a stand against FISA. Damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.

by devil 2008-07-02 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

Then you are on the same side as me.. Don't expect anything more from him on FISA then you would of your first choice.. Hillary..   Barrack is trying to build a coalition. by it's definition coalitions are diverse but must be "centerred" to be strong. I think his postion on FISA allows him to disarm a "national security" argument on the right, and his faith based initiatives postion allows him to build supporters on from the center-right...  As to him being a champion of the left.. hello???  Iraq War..

by sc1962 2008-07-02 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

I will expect more from him on FISA, because he is our nominee, not Hillary. I will do anything possible to get our nominee to work for the issue important to us.

Iraq war is not a litmus test for being a champion of the left. He said it when he was not in a position to act. Now he is. So we ask him to take a stance on issues important to the left. Apparently I am not alone in this, over 10500 people have joined this group on mybarackobama.

by devil 2008-07-02 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

His being our nominee doesn't give him any more power in the Senate, where this fight is taking place.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-02 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

So this FISA bill is a relative evil.  If a Senator portrayed herself as a centrist then it is a good bill and if another Senator portrayed himself as a leftist it is a bad bill?  That is not a very convincing argument.

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-02 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Where is Clinton on this?

It's not about the bill. It's about the candidate. The bill is bad, no matter who the nominee is. But right now, Obama is the nominee. His support or lack of it matters more than any one else's.

by devil 2008-07-02 08:08AM | 0 recs

One commenter just today portrayed her as a champion of the left.  

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2008/7/2/11 39/80374/45#45

You could also look at everything architek has ever written.

There was a weird split amongst Clinton supporters.  Some insisted she was the true progressive rather than the empty-suit Obama who was a secret front for corporate interests, while others insisted that Obama was a McGovernite latte-sipper too far left to be elected.

You do have a valid point - it would be a big mistake for her to undermine Obama on FISA.

by JJE 2008-07-02 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: False

Agree that there is a divide among Clinton supporters about how progressive she is, but the prevailing view was that Clinton was "Bush/McCain lite" (that's what most posters on left blogs called her anyway).

But Clinton is not the topic of the discussion now. She lost. Obama is out nominee now and he is the natural target for any petitions or criticisms.

by devil 2008-07-02 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

No one should be surprised. Obama has always represented the conservative choice in this race, the one who lauds Ronald Reagan and wants to call the 7.5-year destruction of this country by BushCo a draw rather than taking the opportunity to drive the GOP to a cliff for what they've done--and then some.

Only by squeezing out rational thought with the "yes we can" mantra and nebulous appeals to "new politics" and other hallmarks of the cult could Obama be painted as any kind of progressive choice. He is pure status quo, "faith based initiatives" and all.

But he is unfortunately what we have at this point. Certainly McCain would be worse.

by techfidel 2008-07-02 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Yawn, religious conservativism on one issue does not make someone not (dreaded double negatives) progressive. heck, we give money to other faith based initiatives, if applied in the appropriate way, it can be a great tool in combatting many societal ills, this isn't a war on religion. I guess that makes us "status quo".

by Dog Chains 2008-07-02 07:43AM | 0 recs
Netroots are displaying the terrible-twos

when it comes to Obama's recent positions on FISA and faith-based initiatives.  Really.  Analogously, Obama is behaving parental, while the netroots wail during their temper tantrum in the time-out corner.

Obama is running to be elected as president of this incredibly complex and multidimensional country.  To be elected, the relentless obviousness of humble math requires the support from the center, moderates, independents and disillusioned GOPers -- meaning he will have plenty of other constituents than the netroots -- and arguably larger amounts of constituents than the netroots. So, it makes perfect rational and political sense for the positions his has recently chosen.

For the netroots to be ignorant/willfully ignorant of both the above (in these situations and others to come, no doubt), or that this guy is a politician and no saint, is more telling of their immaturity with realpolitik and their limited role in the political process.  They are nothing more than a voice in the chorus and one which Obama, correctly this time, has chosen to ignore -- as any parent should when their child is behaving like a terrible two:  the kid will get over themselves and the parent is still in control.

by dcrolg 2008-07-02 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Netroots are displaying the terrible-twos

The netroots went against Clinton they felt Clinton was centrist (her political tactics were shown as a reason only later in the election cycle). Her policies were called "triangulation". It is only natural that they do the same with Obama when his policies are centrist.

Do you see the religious right falling over themselves to support McCain? Sometimes the policies you care about take precedence over the candidate you vote for. And it is ok to criticize the candidate.

All here are going to vote for Obama, that is why he can safely ignore us. But we can try to have our voices heard.

by devil 2008-07-02 07:38AM | 0 recs
Totally understand the disappointment
but its the tone, volume and narrow, rigid context of the response which I find incredulous.
I would have believed they would have displayed more political astuteness given their extensive particpation in political debate and analyses.
by dcrolg 2008-07-02 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

I guess I missed the part where a politician can disagree with his supporters about issues and still be their choice. What real test, Jerome? The test that states since he is inclusive of people who don't agree with one of his positions, he needs to change his? i don't get the last line, but then again, I'm not looking for any reason to hold his feet to the fire on everything like you, but at least try to make sense to us non foaming mouthers.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-02 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

"I'm not looking for any reason to hold his feet to the fire on everything like you"

For some it's just just any excuse to attack Obama. Had Hillary prevailed they would be defending the same moves on her part.

by Beren 2008-07-02 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Exactly, I read a lot of this based onthis last line is more of an attempt on Jerome's part to damage Obama. Pretty sad actually, since I would think "real" Democrats would be proud to have a candidate who may disagree with them, but instead of trying to silence them, gives them 5the tools to organize and debate. me, i think that kind of person is exactly the kind i would want around.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-02 09:15AM | 0 recs
This puts to rest the ridiculous smear...

that Obama's supporters are koolaid drinking cultist robots.

by Beren 2008-07-02 08:00AM | 0 recs
Just joined

the anti-FISA group on MyBO. 10,259 members as of 11:31 AM CST.

by sricki 2008-07-02 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Good post. His supporters need to keep him aware of their core principles.

by anoregonreader 2008-07-02 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Actually, I think this is one of the most fair and balanced (no, not THAT kind of fair and balanced) diaries from Jerome on Obama.

He is critical where he should be, but there is no little slice at end, no kicker.

In fact, he empahized the part about Obama letting the protestors organize on his site.

Maybe Jerome is coming around...

NAH! What was I thinking...(wink!)

by WashStateBlue 2008-07-02 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Obama has consistently emphasized his years of community organizing in Chicago as central to what his presidency will look like.  His most ardent supporters point to that time to define him and his ability to solve problems among competing interests.

Those of us who oppose Obama's position on the FISA bill are community organizers holding a politician's feet to the fire.  If he ignores us then he has, in my opinion, chosen sides rather than looked for solutions to problems -- this one being about our civil liberties.

What goes around comes around, Senator.

by Kate Stone 2008-07-02 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

If Obama doesn't change his mind, what then!  Will all the member of the group then actively oppose Obama,  maybe hold a protest outside of his campaign HQ...

I would just like to know how far this opposition plans to go if Obama doesn't meet their demands.

by lamh3176 2008-07-02 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Maybe they can form a circular firing squad.

by hankg 2008-07-02 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update


by Roberta 2008-07-02 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Actually I think it's great they formed this group and are having their say within the campaign.

The range of opinions and positions among supporters is diverse as you would expect in a national coalition. I don't expect they will be breaking with the campaign at all. There are going to be a lot of individual issues that supporters don't agree with.

If you supported Kucinich and his platform of pulling out of the WTO and single payer health care. Would it make sense to vote for McCain if Obama does not adopt Kucinich's positions?

by hankg 2008-07-02 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's FISA update

Freedoms disappear a little at a time at an almost unnoticable pace.  One day we wakeup and wonder how it was we got here.  The Constitution is the nation!  Where oh where are those brave politicians with the courage of their convictions.  Obama has failed the test and has not even been officially nominated.  FISA cannot include immunity for companies or presidents that violate our Constitution.  To think otherwise is truly a step towards tyranny!

by orionwest 2008-07-02 07:08PM | 0 recs


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