The Sky Didn't Fall

By Al Giordano

What Russ Feingold Said:


"Having a Democratic president and particularly Barack Obama should allow us to change this mistake. Barack Obama believes in the Constitution. He's a constitutional scholar. I believe that he will have a better chance to look at these powers that have been given to the executive branch and even though that he will be running the executive branch, I think he will understand and help take the lead in fixing some of the worst provisions. So this is a huge setback and it would have been much better for Democrats to stand together and not let it happen in the first place ‘cause it's much harder to change it after the fact. But I do believe that Barack Obama is well positioned both in terms of his knowledge and his background, and his beliefs, to correct this. And so I do think that people have a right to be disappointed but I also think they have the right to hope for change on this issue in particular starting in January."



So, the FISA bill passed. And today began just as any other day. The sun came up. We drank a cup of coffee. Some of us lit a cigarette - or did any number of things that others do not approve of - and we were not locked up for it. To note the obvious, that the sky did not fall, is not akin to saying that a bill inoculating telecommunications companies against civil lawsuits (and retroactively so) for following invasive government orders, was a good thing. It's just to say that it is what it is, and life goes on, and so does the daily struggle to defend our personal and collective freedom on so many fronts.

Only in America do a significant number of people equate expressions of outrage and indignation du jour as somehow being akin to the hard work of political activism or participation. And I hate to say it, but this delusion is worse, much worse, on the left side of the dial where reaction is the standard operating procedure in place of authentic action. I speak, therefore I act is the great American illusion of politics. Sorry, but no. Only when our speech effectively causes others to act does it rise to the level of poetry (which, as Vaneigem wrote, "seldom exists in poems"). Have you ever had to sit through a poetry reading by a particularly bad poet? That's what I feel like when I find myself to trying to listen to what too many people consider activism. They're blathering on and my eyes are drooping as I'm eyeing the wall clock and the exit sign, twirling my cigarette lighter as if a rosary bead necklace.

The phenomenon of "outrage activism" in the United States - something I just haven't experienced to that degree in other lands - is understandable on a certain level: Since 1980, the United States has been plagued by presidents that routinely did outrageous things and did insufficient good things to make up for it. One could even say that with the exception of a few expressions of basic human decency by Jimmy Carter, that this perpetual disappointment has recycled itself since 1963, or even since 1945, and has wrought a permanent character trait that has calcified around the US body politic and most pointedly among those with liberal or progressive tendencies. Most Americans don't even know what real change could look like, and probably won't recognize it, or even find it scary, at first, when it does come.

I return to what Senator Obama actually said about what he will do after the FISA vote, should he get to the White House, because, well, we are now in that time and space:


Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I'm sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.


Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I'm happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples' attention on the abuses of executive power in this Administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true -- not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.

I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country...


There's an interesting paradox here: We don't want the president to eavesdrop, but we do want him to listen. I particularly liked these words in that statement:


And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok.


In other words, the veteran community organizer has heard it all before: the declaratory politics of "do exactly what I say or I'm getting off the bus!" Okay, well those people are off the bus now. Or are they? My own organizing experience tells me that the same people (and in the age of anonymous Internet handles there's so little accountability to track it numerically) will move on to the next outrage-of-the-day and declare, all over again, that if the nominee doesn't do as they say on their next ultimatum issue, they will be getting off the bus all over again. And we scratch our heads wondering, didn't that guy loudly announce his exit weeks ago? Sadly, a lot of such "activism" is driven by folks that have a hard time commanding or holding on to our attention in other aspects of daily life, and see such proclamations errantly as a way to accomplish that.

As the saying goes: How can I miss you if you never go away?

Or another of my favorite fortune-cookie axioms: He who says a thousand goodbyes never leaves.

It's the only dance move that some people know. Their miscalculation is thinking that the rest of us worry ourselves or lose sleep over whether they're on or off the bus. Part of the American experience - indeed, a key chapter of every Campbellian "hero's journey" - is the act of wandering out into the wilderness from time to time, learning a few new tricks, and coming back better armed to fight the battles that matter.

When I got off the bus for so many years and wandered around the outskirts, those experiences from that vantage point allowed me to see, more clearly, the United States of America, its culture and its politics, more truly as it is. It's a big part of how I've been able to, this year, predict some major events before they happened. I've concluded that a much bigger problem in the USA than any piece of legislation passed by Congress is the petrified manner in which so many Americans define and limit their participation in current events.

For those that feel their own participation is stuck in an ineffective rut, and cry out in frustration about deal breakers and and "getting off the bus" and such, as one who's been there, I highly recommend the voyage. And the fact that nobody really cared about - and few even noticed - my disappearance turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the lessons are better learned with both feet out, and not merely by straddling the exit door, hanging halfway off of the proverbial bus while warning the other passengers over and over again that one is about to step off, as that's when the chances of getting hit by a truck, and tumbling underneath, are far greater. And that can make one's head hurt.


Perfect day for this post

 Over at BO's blog so many people have been doing exactly what you are talking about, posting it's a deal breaker, I'm done with this campaign but then they are there later in day or the next day saying the same thing. I love it--

How can I miss you if you never go away?

I have said that to a couple of my boyfriends in the past. :-)

O/T Vanity Fair photoshopped the Faux news pundits, it is funny.


Al, you have outdone yourself.  Thanks for this post.

I also keep my sense of perspective because I do more than sit at my computer all day reading and commenting on the election (OK, not a LOT more, but more).

When I go door-to-door, or work the Obama table at an event that is not Democratic-activist centered (like I did over the 4th of July weekend), NOT ONE PERSON has asked about FISA.

People ask me about the wars.  People ask about the economy.  People ask about who Obama's VP will be.  People ask me about Obama's position on gun ownership.  At an LGBT pride event, many asked about Obama's positions on issues critical to our community.

FISA?  Nope.

I also use my mom as a source.  She's a Republican in her 70s, lives in a small town in southeastern Alaska, may see the evening news a few times a week and reads her local weekly paper.

When the MSM is whipping a stray comment or non-story into a frenzy and I'm getting frantic about it, I'll call her and ask her what she thinks.  Most of the time, she doesn't know what I'm talking about.

And she believes Obama will win the election.

Tech support

I do tech support for a blogging service and the customers that most loudly announce at every glitch or bug that they are going to cancel their service are the ones that stay around the longest. They are also the ones we wish would cancel their service so we don't have to deal with their prima donna behavior anymore. I couldn't help but think of that as I read this!

Thanks as always for being a beacon of sanity, Al.

New to the netroots

But I have to wonder how much of the work done on FISA has included outreach to folks OUTSIDE the blogosphere. Because it seems to me (and please correct me if I am wrong) that there was a lot of exhorting each other to call reprentatives, etc, but how much was done on outreach with the goal of expanding the number of people who were invested in the issue?

thanks, Al

Thanks for the reality check.

Last weekend I stood outside my local Kroger (in a heavily Democratic area in Atlanta, GA) and ended up registering 14 new voters. Many are going to be voting for the first time this fall and are excited about casting their vote for Obama. It felt great and I highly recommend getting off the blogs and heading out the door to do something like this.



Feingold practicing Smart Dissent

Feingold's comments are spot-on and a great example of Smart Dissent.  Make your objections to a tactic known while still demonstrating a clear eye on the real prize and the greater good that will come when it is won.

This is one of many reasons why I champion him for VP.

bravo, indeed.

thank you. required life reading. have nothing to add.

except that your 'personal' best was jurassic post.

Asking us to have faith

It's hard for us Americans to have any faith in politicians these days.  Do you think Barack really believes in his vote or was he doing it to win the election.  Does this matter??  And why do you think Hillary voted the other way? Did she believe in her vote? Have they switched candidacies?  ----Confused but still for Obama----


Glad you posted that Feingold statement. hadn't heard it. I saw the interview where he was saying essentially that it was outrageous there was spying on Americans, that it can't be permitted, etcetera. Which I called stupid two threads back. Because he's on the committee that should know these things and has had multo time to create effective oversight.

But I also realize he's precluded from saying We've been doing this to you for nearly four decades and we can't control it, it's got away from us, and now we have commercial concerns doing it for us that we dont know how to regulate


To use Andrew Sullivan's schtick, the 'money quote' in your post is: "I've concluded that a much bigger problem in the USA than any piece of legislation passed by Congress is the petrified manner in which so many Americans define and limit their participation in current events."

One neighbour at a time

I read an AP story yesterday (one of those "Most Popular" ones on Yahoo!) about Obama, Clinton, and Caroline Kennedy flying together to NY.  The last sentence of the article was this:

"Obama spent the majority of the day in his Senate office and on Capitol Hill for a series of votes, including on a bill overhauling rules on secret government eavesdropping. He did leave for one private meeting in a local hotel. "

I think this probably just about sums up the level that the general public is paying attention to this issue, if at all.  So we move on.

And thanks for encouraging the call to real, effective action.  I'm in Vermont, and I'll be going to the weekly phone banks that are starting this weekend - they even have a campaign staffer here in Vermont! Isn't that amazing!

I also read yesterday that the campaign staff in Missouri is being tripled to 150 paid staff (McCain has about 10-15 I think).  And, in Nevada I read there are 500,000 new democrats registered this year (putting their registered numbers above the Repubs).

Finally, there's a great program on the BO site now, and if it's operating in your state yet, you should join.  It's called neighbor to neighbor and you sign up for it and they assign you 20 people in your neighbourhood to talk to, and you do it on your own schedule, and then when you've talked to them you check them off your list.  I know it's already launched in VA, so go to this page and put in your address to see if it's in your area.



Feingold's comment is very interesting, as he has been perhaps the most vocal opponent of increased government intrusion into citizens' lives starting with the original Patriot Act.  In fact, his statement is somewhat of a mirror of Obama's statement defending Feingold and others for voting for Roberts and Alito for the Supreme Court.


At the same time, it is a warning to Obama that he better follow through after he becomes President or Feingold is going to hold him very much accountable.


Obama's statement is a request to be held accountable by everybody.  He is promising to do a revamp of all the extensions of executive power and to curtail it in a manner that will have meaning to future administrations and he more than anybody knows how powerful the grassroots (notice I did not say netroots) can be.


But the real point of this comment deals with ideological purity.  For years the left side of the blogosphere has been very condemnatory of the Republican tendency to walk in lock step with the adminstration and the party talking points.  It has decried this form ofideological purity, but apparently only because the ideology was one they disagreed with.


Now they are demanding the same level of ideological purity from Democrats, since their ideology is the ascendant one.  I think there is a word that describes this behavior.  It is called hypocrisy.

stop griping and get to know voters

As others here have pointed out, if one stops griping and gets out the door, or on the phone, and actually communicate with voters, you get perspective real fast. You hear about bread and butter issues, the economy, the war, health care. But FISA? Never. Ask most voters and they'd probably guess that FISA is a new credit card.


But some on the left are hopeless. They'd much rather win the battle and lose the war, than vice versa. They aren't your typical campaign volunteer -- that's much too pragmatic. No, they'd rather stand on the sidelines and shout into the wind.

A post on Iran situation?

 Maybe you are thinking about it, maybe not, I am.


Yes. I also wanted to add something about the phenomenon of keyboard-complaint-cum-faux-activism. The phenomenon of liberals (like many academics; liberals and academics are also very distinct as I actually see very little of what I would call progressivism in the academy) declaring this or that as a "deal-breaker" is not simply an exercise in delusions of self-importance.  Rather, in my view, it involves an extraordinary failure to grasp the sheer enormity and complexity of the worlds around us and in which we live.  Economic and social interactions on a global scale are so vast and complex that even with the vaunted and classified technology that lies at the heart of the FISA dustup, we are still, and very obviously, in the analogous situation of doing brain surgery with carpentry tools (or lasers and the latest imaging technologies, for that matter). And the same goes for politics--like the biological universe we are destroying.  The scene is so vast, so complex, so awe-inspiring, that the single-issue voter like the single-issue blogger-enthusiast is nothing but an isolated monad or mote of dust in the maelstrom.  To not see this complexity is to be willfully stupid.  Catching glimpses of such enormity, besides ensuring perpetual humility (as well as humiliation), also reminds how extraordinary it is when single individuals actually do "change the world" through their words or deeds.  But, we all want to be heroes right? We need more people telling us--a la American Idol--that we can't sing. Then we might focus--and actually work towards the day we envision.

"Outrage activism"

Nicely put Al.  Increasingly I'm finding many "progressive" blogs strangely similar in tone to The Onion.

Would the Sky Have Fallen...

...if Obama had held to his position of filibustering retroactive immunity to the telcos in this bill? I hear you loud and clear about armchiar, wi-fi-ed, entirely notional "activism", changing the world blog post by blog comment, as the nonsense ity surely is. What isn't clear to me is what Obama has gained by this reversal, except more calls that he's a flip-flopper and in bed with the telecommunications industry.

Fire up the Hallelujah Chorus!

Right on, Al! A pitch perfect post.

The most depressing element of the FISA caterwauling has been the absolutism of it, the threatening dogmatism, and, of course, the smug and self-righteous sense of superiority. My way or the highway. Gone from the discussion is the long view, the idea that the best possible outcome for FISA and every other issue is a Democratic president, a Democratic attorney general, a strong Democratic Congress and Senate, and a Democratic agenda.

I've been scratching my head at the myopia of the FISA trolls, stewing in dark corners with furrowed brows and cartoon frowns, CAPS LOCK keys perpetually turned on, angrily ripping their Obama bumper stickers from their cars. You just want to scream, be patient! Take the long view! A campaign has a complex gestalt and, by definition, is more about the creation of an environment in which each single issue can assert itself with greater likelihood of efficacy than without that environment. In fact, that's exactly what the FISA vote revealed. Obama's vote didn't matter at all in the long run because the environment in which it would have made a difference was not there. And that's the point of the campaign.

Your post, Al, goes a long way toward pointing the way there.

O to eat chickens instead of smell them

Simply, Al--your approach and insight are and have been such a gift this season.  Your experience of being "off the reservation" are similar to my own.  Burned to the point of being unrecognizable from purity rage--I dropped way out for a while.  This time around, I try and remember to be compassionate about the outrage-identified.  Anger turned inward (or typed anonymously) turns into something morose and self-destructive.  It also leads to a tougher skin.


Thank you once again, Al for staying solidly on the ground and refusing to be swept up in the whirlwind. It is a relief to have a place of balance and sanity to come to when tired of the tratruming of those who are unable to conceive of long term success as being a product of long term strategy.

I especially appreciated this:

"Or another of my favorite fortune-cookie axioms: He who says a thousand goodbyes never leaves.

It's the only dance move that some people know."

In my other life I am a child custody mediator, and find those who are the most intractible, the most stuck to their perceived "bottom lines" are the ones who, while professing their disdain for their former partners, never find a way to say goodbye, and prolong this process for years. The foot stomping, the posturing, the "my way or no way" I've seen across the "liberal" blogosphere has the same quality.

Btw, love the pix of chicken little...

the sky DID fall - you're soaking in it!

people told me the sky didn't fall when Roberts and Alito were appointed. they're right - the sky didn't fall. who SAID the sky was going to fall? I'm getting so used to getting words crammed in my mouth that I think I'm beginning to like it!

Obama didn't do what he said he would do. Arlen Furshlugginer Specter talked about it better than the Democratic Presidential Candidate did. those things don't bother anybody but me? fine.


I never said the sky was gonna fall. I said he didn't do what he said. no matter how you fluff the man's pillows - he's not doing what he said. Obama's willing to take his lumps. His supporters would rather make lumps on guys like me.


thank you sir, may I have another?

I trust Obama

I wish he hadnt voted the way he did. But I trust him and I havent seen any signs of weakness in the way he has run his campaign.

I dont know the ins or outs of the bill or a winning campaign, l just listen and learn...and trust.

the left blogsphere is so insufferable

dKos is unbearable these days with all the faux outrage, and the threats to abandon the Obama campaign...I never saw so much stupidity...well I have..this is how Dems lose elections.
one poster had a great comment in one of the threads where the author was threatening to quit the Obama it the poster stated how he was angry at Gore in 2000 for some of his centerist positions during the campaign and how he stopped donating and volunteering...he said " imagine if I and few others like me went down to Florida and capaigned extra 600 people to vote for the last 8 years would have turned out?"
the left blogsphere will cut the nose to spite the face...and I am sick and tired of the condescention from the likes of Greenwald and his types.

cute little

chicken little. .


Hurting or Helping? AND...1,420 Signatures!

So many people--"anonymous-by-keyboard" or not--think that they are the last word on Obama and the Campaign strategy.

Many people believe in their own "importance" to the detriment of themselves and Our Candidate...are you listening Rev. JJ?

Then there are the "little" people who do "small" things that actually turn out to have positive effects:

Christi and Suzy noticed that the signature rate for the Petition had slowed considerably.  So they came up with the great idea to do a series of posts over on the BHO site.  We divided up the times, taking into account our different time zones.  In less than 8 hours, we have 100+ NEW signatures; and are well on our way towards our goal of 1,480 before next Wednesday!

Other Fieldhands are doing face-to-face voter registration, phone banking, posting on comments sections, Platform and Vote for Change Meetings, etc.

Whining and complaining changes nothing.  Like Our Candidate says: Listening, thinking, and then responding with intelligence and thoughtfulness is the way to go!

We here at The Field and over at the Fieldhands Site are continuously amazed at and grateful for Our Leader, Al Giordano!

Great post and wonderful pic, Al!

waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


This link provided by KD

This link provided by KD above is pretty cool:


Neighborhood canvassing - not phone banking.  My list was 20 voters within about a third of a mile from my house.


That DKos post PalGal mentioned is twisted.  The implication is that we would have been better off with Al Gore even though he didn't do with the poster wanted him to do.  And yet, he's proud of making the same mistake twice??  Is that just narcissism at work?  Trying to make your own actions seem to all important??  It's only together that we can make a difference.

Oracle Du Jour

Al's post supports the old adage: "Know thyself"--which BTW is very difficult.  However, I enjoyed Al's oracle du jour even more: "I speak, therefore I act is the great American illusion of politics."

It's these little tidbits that keep me heading to the Field, as my first read.  But not before I have my coffee and cigarette! Tomorrow afternoon, I will be working at an Obama table during a public festival in my city. (Yes, I need to get off my duff, too!) I will see how many people are concerned about FISA and report back. That is not to say I agree about the FISA vote, but Sen. Obama has to get elected first, before he can help fix the messes that have been made for many years. This will be a difficult election, just as they all are. 



Many have been so angry for

Many have been so angry for so long they just don't know how to direct it anymore. I've always noted that the quietest people make the most impact when they do speak up.

A really smart guy once said....

"Holding anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." 

Using anger and Faux Keyboard Activism, ensures being burned.

Is dissent okay here?

For a supposed grass-roots site, it is odd that there is so little back-and-forth allowed here. I have seen very little actual discussion of what the FISA bill actually does, especially the new power that the President is given and the ham-stringing of oversight. But I have seen a lot of demonizing and intimidation of those who are honestly and deeply concerned with the actual legal issues this bill raises. And yes, the legal implications are what matters for those upset with Obama's vote, not who is licking what wounds, who's the Velociraptor and who is the weak silly girly Chicken Little. I am sure past battles and experiences color all this, and experience in how one actually fights against organized state corruption on the neighborhood level, but really, take a look at the tone being set here.

Tara..I didn't express the poster's sentiment

he was saying that we CAN'T repeat his mistake of sitting on the side because of few minor issues...he was actually chiding the posters who wanted to repeat his mistake......he was telling them that if he had considered the bigger picture in 2000, maybe things would have been different..he was expressing regret because he didn't participate in 2000 and vowed not to repeat the mistake again.


I was suffering from Chicken Littleism.  After reading this piece I've regained perspective.  Actually the tender spot to me was the immunity essentially closed the door on discovery of evidence to convict the bush cabal.  But that was never happening anyway.

I still find it difficult to compromise though.

One of your best blog posts to date

And that's saying something considering that all your posts are great.


The liberal blogosphere's overreaction to Obama's vote on FISA has been ridiculous. It seems everyone has been threatening to withhold donations and volunteer work if Obama doesn't vote their way. I equate those single-issue FISA voters with single-issue abortion voters. It's an important issue and I don't agree with his vote, BUT expecting Obama to expend all his political capital -- remember he's still a Jr Senator and not President yet -- on a largely symbolic battle is stupid. There are more important and pertinent issues like, oh I don't know, the nosediving economy, Iraq, health care, education, and the energy crisis.


I'm honestly jealous of those chicken littles though. Their financial situations are strong enough so that they can support a candidate solely based on these wedge issues. Then again, I have a feeling those same people threatening to not donate and not volunteer never really did much of either beforehand. Anyway, thanks for bringing a fresh breath of air into a liberal blogosphere that is oftentimes disconnected from reality.

Dissent Okay

"CharlesF" - I once knew a great man named Charles F: And Charles F. McCarthy would have dissented to your supposed dissent! Could you look at your comment as a mirror, please, and please note: the preemptive whining over a censorship that did not occur, and with it the urge to censor others that talk about Chicken Littles and Velociraptors and other things that apparently ruffle your feathers.

What's the difference between your "dissent" and mine (or anybody else's) that questions yours?

Whine, whine, whine if you must, but you don't get a special court order here that protects your words from criticism, either, and your comments seem to indicate that you expect that.

From your opening salvo, calling this a "supposedly grass roots" forum: One supported entirely by small donors, with more than 400 copublishers that use our real names (and therefore, as you can see, are much more responsible about what comes flying off their keypads than you will find almost anywhere else online) and whose comments are not moderated, with a high participation by commenters that would be the envy of most blogs, but you have nothing substantial to say except whining about what others say!

And if you don't like that "tone being set here," tough luck. In the memorable words of Senator Clinton: "Should I get you a pillow?" What is it that you want? A public masturbation platform? Like, you can't get that in a thousand other places already online?

Still, your readership and your commentary is appreciated. We're honored that out of millions of blogs you choose to keep coming back here over and over again! Have you thought about why that is?

@charlesf - 3:01 p.m.

Charlesf - there are no shortage of sites on the web where you can indulge your "back-and-forth" on FISA. Do we really need another? Per usual with the FISA folks, your "concern" comes across as somewhat threatening. And, I sense, that what you really want is not back-and-forth at all but another place to commence your hectoring FISA lectures. Why not just post links to your rants on other sites and save yourself some typing?

tuning out the static

Thank you, Al! I have recently decided, or come to my senses, that the most effective use of my energy is to do less blog-reading and more voter registration. I remember you saying during the primary that the least anxious people are those who are out there working for their candidate--ie, transmuting fear into empowered action.

I was preparing to draft a gentle rebuke to charlesf

but I see Al already took him out with a bazooka!

My point would have been that he hasn't seen more dissection of FISA here because there's more than enough of that elsewhere in the blogosphere, and the mission of The Field is, as Al so sneakily hides it in The Title of His Blog, to report on the U.S. Presidential Election. 

To the extent FISA influences the outcome of this election it is certainly worthy of mention here.  As it has been.  And now that it has had its news cycle and other issues rise in importance to replace it, those will also be discussed.


Just to add a little to Al's comment.  Charles, you are confusing what the criticism is about.  If you read the comments carefully, you will note that many people have objected to both the bill and the vote.  What the post is really about is the extremism of the reaction.  It is not a coherent disagreement with Obama's position, it is a "Since I disagree with this particular vote, you (Obama) aren't getting my support anymore". 


It is this type of reaction that people are criticizing.  It is what some of us here call forgetting the long term goal because of the specific vote. 


I may disagree with Al about the actual consequences of the bill, not necessarily in a technical sense but in a psychological sense, but I agree that we can't overreact to it either.

OT: Could Jesse Jackson's Remarks Have Been Choreographed?


I have an off-topic question for you that might be stupid and irrelevant (and if it is, feel free to delete or admonish or do whatever else is necessary).  I am posing this quesiton to you because I suspect that you might have a compelling read on this given your past political experiences.

So, here's the question:  could Jesse Jackson's remarks being broadcast all over the cable punditocracy today have been scripted and choreographed?  Here's my rationale:

1.  Jesse Jackson is not stupid, and is the father of an extraordinary loyal Obama backer.  He also happens to be Chicago-based, which is big-time Obama country.

2.  Jackson was on Fox News when he made the remarks, and had to have known that anything he said was fair game for red meat-seeking tabloid journalists.

3.  Jacksons' comments actually crudely play to Obama's advantage ... it reverberates Obama's ability to speak truth even when the truth hurts (I hate to compare this to Clinton's Sista Souljah moment, but that's the best analogy I can come up with), tempers concerns from white Democrats that Obama is beholden to his African-American base and highlights his faith-based initiatives.

4.  It neuters any of McCain's perceived momentum or foreign policy advantage over Iran's missile tests by completely co-opting the news cycle.

5.  Jackson's delivery of the comments look scripted to me.

Just curious.

- Vik


Vik - It's plausible. The same thought went through my mind. But we'll never know!

Between Jesse's falling on

Between Jesse's falling on his tongue-sword for Obama and Phil Gramm's calling us all whiners because 1% Depression-style economic growth isn't good enough for us, I'd say McCain's lost this news cycle.

Thank you, Al. I live in

Thank you, Al.

I live in Indiana and people are hurting here economically. The last thing on the mind of an Indiana steelworker who just lost his job is FISA. He's more concerned about putting food on the table and paying his mortgage on time. It is my hope that those who dare to turn their backs on Barack keep in mind what's really at stake in not just this election, but in the years to come. This is the most important election of our lifetime. What we do in this very crucial election will determine whether this country follows the path of peace and economic security or war and destruction.


I understand that for some FISA may be a deal breaker, but I would implore those individuals to think about someone other than themselves before abandoning Barack. Think about the single-mother in Ohio who works 3 jobs so that she can provide for her family. Think about the the grandmother whose breast cancer has returned who worries about her medical bills. Think about the Gold-Star mother who just lost her only son in Iraq. Think about the A+ student who is excited to go to college, but can not go because it's too expensive.


This election is about all of us. Black, White, Latino, Straight, Gay, Young, Old, Republican, Democrat, Weak, Strong, Rich, and Poor. This election should be about putting your fellow man before partisanship. We won't always agree with Barack, but there are too many serious issues that plague us for individuals to quit all together. As Barack likes to state, this is a movement. Movements require hard work and guts. The weak need not stay nor apply. If you're going to run at the first sign of disagreement, then maybe you weren't really committed to the cause. There are rewards and setbacks in movements. You have to learn to take the good with the bad.


Barack has shown me to think of someone other than myself in this election. That is what motivates me into making sure that Barack gets elected. I'm getting out the vote for my elderly neighbor Rosa who can't afford her prescription drugs. I'm getting out the vote for my 12 year old cousin who I do not want to see being shipped over to Iraq in the years to come to fight a 100  year illegal war. Those individuals are who I am fighting for in this election, not myself, not just one issue. There is no other choice but Barack Obama come November. Rosa, my cousin, and millions of Americans like them are counting on us to get it right this year.


In closing, fight for whatever causes that move you, but my only request to those individuals is while you're fighting the good fight against or for any issue, remember to think about someone other than yourself and what this election is truly about--all of us.

Great Post

"And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok."

This is a very effective sales technique.  People like to use the "deal breaker" line to garner attention or as a negotiating ploy.  The best way to diffuse them is to take their objection off the table.  If FISA is really a deal-breaker for these folks, then we shouldn't waste our time trying to convince them otherwise.  If they are just saying it's a deal breaker, we should just ignore them, because there's no reasoning with an inauthentic reactionary.  Either way, ignoring them is the best approach.  There are more effective ways to spend our time and effort.


you're not the only suspicious one. from today's chicago trib, columnist john kass:

"Rather than listen to Washington talking heads explain our town's politics, I called a friend, a prominent African-American activist of the far left persuasion. He considers me his token conservative buddy.

"All I want to know," he said, "is how much David Axelrod paid Jesse to say that @#$%! [rhymes with "it"].

He was speaking rhetorically, knowing that Obama/Daley strategist Axelrod wouldn't pay Jackson for such nonsense when he could get it for free...",0,725595.column

The journey

good point about that journey of wandering to find your path again, al...and the surrounding drama that usually indicates a person hasn't committed to it yet.

Re: Jesse's remarks

Vik, I was pondering the same thing this morning, after reading this post about the potential benefits of Obama's "accidental Sister Soujah moment."

Which started me thinking about how, for such a susposed egomanic, there's been nary a peep out of Rev. Wright since his Press Club "meltdown" and subsequent divorce from Obama, and how Wright's receeding fast from memory as a result (fingeres crossed).

Like Al says, we'll never know for sure what was orchestrated and what was luck. But if someone writes a definitive inside-look at the campaign someday, I'd love to read that book.

I went over to a repulsive

I went over to a repulsive anti-Obama site and people were complaining that bloggers aren't talking about FISA anymore. As I informed them, most people don't revisit the same issue over and over again but can move on. Also, most people vote based on their overall level of agreement on a set of issues. (Of course, they found that very annoying). In any case, they seem to have enough connection to reality to be able to recognize that the issue isn't sticking.


The same thought occurred to me this morning.  In fact, if you think back, there have been a number of people who have fallen on their swords at opportune moments, including the good reverend, General Clark and now Jesse.  There may be others I am forgetting.  Not that I am complaining.  I think of Al's comparison of Obama's playing chess while others are playing checkers.


Obama - FISA

Dear Barack,

Everything is forgiven if you'll make Russ Feingold your VP pick.

Yours Truly....  Eagleye

The view from afar

Al, great point about having to get some distance in order to truly see this country.  As a Canadian who lives (and now votes!) in the States, I have often felt that one of the biggest problems the States faces is that this country is just so big (and I don't mean in area) that its citizens, be they on the left or on the right, well-intentioned or not, just can't see it, can't get any perspective on it and its doings in the word.  I imagine the Roman Empire had the same problem!

Dear Barack,I will vote for

Dear Barack,

I will vote for you and all will be forgiven if you do the following upon taking the office of POTUS:

1) I want Dr. King's Face on Rushmore.  I know, I know, the white folk only like president's faces, not Kings.  It don't matter, I want it.

2) Apologize to the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, and others that have been harmed by US imperialism over the centuries.

3) Bring Bush ( I & II) and Bill Clinton to a war crimes tribunal.

4) Tell Isreal to abide by all UN resolutions and to dismantle the settlements.

5) Invite Hugo Chavez to Camp David for a week.

6)  Appoint Al Giordano as a special liason for Latin American Affairs.

7)  Universal Health Care--tax the OIL and Insurance industries, and the filthy rich, to pay for it.

8)  Raise minimum wage to double the present rate--effective immediately.


These are just a few things that I personally want.  You know that the world revolves around me, so you better do it.

If you don't bow to my demands, I will jump up and down until you do.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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