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Abandon the last vestiges of Hope™ all ye who enter here?

“Nobody” could have predicted “the first wired president” would seek to wiretap the internet. From that last link (via the Gray Lady):

WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

From the CNN “first wired president” article I linked to above (this story was published back in January 2009):

As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.

Judging by Obama’s savvy use of social-networking sites during his campaign and the interactive nature of his transition team’s Web site, Americans can expect a president who bypasses the traditional media’s filters while reaching out to citizens for input, observers say.

“The rebooting of our democracy has begun,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. “[Obama] has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy.”

Our democracy has been rebooted? Well, as a matter of fact it has. Just in the opposite direction of what Rasiej and others who pushed the “first wired president” meme had in mind.

If anyone really couldn’t have seen this coming by now, here’s a little refresher from May:

Donna continues:

If a single move could restore civility to politics, that is it. Get rid of the left-vs.-right commentators who are just out scoring points for their team. This sort of opinion-mongering is not only boring and predictable, it is destructive of the truth. If your only credentials are “GOP shill” or “Democratic hack,” you’ve no business cluttering up the airwaves or the op-ed pages. My momma always told me that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. That’s good advice.


Timing is everything. Brazile’s commentary bears an uncanny resemblance to remarks made by President Obama in his commencement speech to Hampton University graduates this past Sunday:

“With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not,” Obama said. “Let’s face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I’ve had some experience with that myself. Fortunately, you’ll be well positioned to navigate this terrain.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said. “With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment.


“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Point being, there have been red flags up the wazoo. So anyone at this point who is surprised, that Obama isn’t exactly the natural ally to internet freedom and other first amendment issues that he was pitched as, isn’t paying enough or proper attention to what has continued to be telegraphed over the last few years by Obama and his allies.

The part that saddens and troubles me most about the latest developments is not that the Obama Administration is going to submit a plan to wiretap the internet.

As much as I admire and respect Hillary and as strong and forceful an advocate as she is with her Clinton Doctrine on Internet Freedom on the global front, I have to say point blank that I would not have been surprised to see anyone else’s Administration–including a potential Hillary Administration–make some sort of request to Congress about the internet and wiretaps.

The cynic in me would frankly have been surprised not to see anyone who won in 2008 lobby for something like this at some point in their Administration. (Even the Kooch himself. Or actually especially the Kooch himself. But, that’s a topic for another post. It’s in my drafts folder.)

So, to reiterate, what I find disturbing about the Obama Admin seeking to wiretap the internet is not that development itself–it’s that I do not have confidence that the left will be holding Obama as accountable as they should be throughout the process of his Administration making such a request. If a Hillary Clinton Administration or a McCain Administration were doing this, I can’t imagine the left would be anything other than rightly holding their feet to the fire. I think that would have been a force for pulling the conversation to the left and served as at least some kind of check on the process.

The Obama Admin’s plans to wiretap the internet probably won’t do much to change anything as far as the 23 percenters who will always be Obama’s true believers. But, for the rest of the Obama Left wavering in and out of states of consciousness and clarity, if this doesn’t shock them out of their Hope-coma for good, I’m not sure how much more has to happen for them to understand that Obama is a politician and a president. He has his own agenda. The left’s role is not to coddle and apologize and make excuses for him but to hold him accountable from the left.

If Bush were doing this, I can just imagine the level of outrage and the types of commentary that would be pouring out of left blogistan and other progressive media right now. If their complaints about Bush were sincere and they were not just made as a means to achieving progressive power and relevance, then Obama must be held to the same standards as Bush would be on this. Otherwise the left just looks disingenuous and blindly partisan (I am actually in favor of partisanship grounded in reason, but I’m not fond of blind-anything.)

Oh, and remember the “Vote Different” ad? (this isn’t the end of the post, so keep reading after the video.)

Yep. The Obama netroots sure voted “different” in 2008. We really avoided an Orwellian nightmare there.

The netroots powered Obama’s candidacy and had great hopes that he would “reboot” our democracy. And, reboot he has. He has rendered the left irrelevant where the left had been alive and well in challenging the oligarchy during the Bush years. Just goes to show that old saying, “be careful what you wish for,” is as relevant as ever.

Too bad the left has yet to strategize differently.

70 Responses

  1. I hadn’t read Kat’s last post yet about Captain Obama and the Great White Cankle before I wrote this, but I have just completed reading it. It appears Kat and I were thinking along similar wavelengths. We both brought up Donna and the twenty/thirty something percenters 🙂

    • Talk About it while you can, you Young Knitter Bitter Pajama wearing rebel! I thought the pajama wearing bit was a hoot in her post.

      • Lol… when the netroots were all supporting Obama and donating to him online, the O camp and their media fluffers sold this as an authentic 21st century grassroots “movement,” but the moment the A-list netroot blogs became divided over Obama and one flank started to scrutinize him even the slightest bit, that entire flank became pajama-wearing keyboard/armchair critics who don’t have anything meaningful to offer this Administration.

    • My momma always told me that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. That’s good advice.

      You’ve got to admire her unending supply of self-confidence, at least.

  2. Oh, and remember the “Vote Different” ad?

    Yup, it was the ad made by his campaign staffer that had to quit once he was tied to it and of course, he did it on his time and NO ONE at the Obama campaign knew about it.

    Well, when we go on Skype we will have to great our President and cc’em on all e-mails. 😦

    • Yes, that ad was one of the first huge red flags for me with Obama. If you listen to what Hillary is saying, she’s talking about having a conversation and welcoming differing viewpoints into her potential Administration, and that was supposed to be evidence of her being a cyborg?

      Yet when Obama has done anything about anything his permanent campaign and his sycophants have trotted out the comparison of him to Lincoln and “a Team of Rivals.”

      • Not to mention having a conversation and giving everyone a seat at the table, haters definitely included, was Obama’s big schtick. Another “When he says it, or actually something worse, I close my eyes and picture the Washington Monument!” moment.

        • Exactly my point. They attacked Hillary for it while perverting the whole damn concept and running on the idea that O was a Lincolnesque postpartisan consensus builder bringing the whole wide universe into the conversation etc. etc.

      • Maybe the “cc the white house and your congressman” idea would make a good protest to this.

        Every time you write some innocuous email about meeting for dinner at 7 pm, cc them.

        Wouldn’t it be a hoot if millions did this, and their inboxes were overloaded with citizen “spam”? At the very least it might cause enough of a ripple to focus attention on the subject.

  3. Well, he’d pretty much have to “reboot” democracy after he and his minions took an ax to it in 2008, right? As much as it’s probably karma that he wants to wiretap skype–oy. By the time any of these groups that are covered in tire tracks decide to mount any type of opposition, it’ll be too late, all of their communication tools and most of their rights will have been taken away.

    • You make an excellent point that in many ways it is too late for progressives to undo the damage of their ways when it comes to O… but course-correction is important here for integrity’s sake. Maybe by the time the progs are ready to mount a real opposition much of their communication tools and rights will have been too degraded for them to mount the most effective opposition possible. But, worse yet, if they don’t start course-correcting now, the progressives will have trouble rising up against the authoritative current because too many of them will have been revealed as frauds who don’t truly care about freedom and civil liberties and nobody will want to rally around them. Maybe, in a way, there is a blessing in disguise here. Maybe what we need is a liberal resurgence and reclaiming of liberalism as being about fundamental rights rather than the size of government. Maybe the only way that can happen is if the progressive poseurs are exposed for what they are and that whole “progressive” relabeling is cycled out and current events force everything so far right that the consequences of that will start bringing the liberals out in more people and we can have a real authentic fight for our rights in the streets if we won’t be able to have it on blogs by that point.

      Unfortunately, the damage done in the meantime is going to be ugly to watch.

      • Pardon the runon sentences as usual. I am a mere mortal, incapable of the rhetorical brilliance of Barack “wee weed up” Obama. 😉

        • 🙂 Don’t waste your beautiful mind on such trivialities as learning the number of states and how to pronounce them. Welcome to Massatwosetts. Just remember, some are red, some are blue. The blue ones love awesome gods, red ones, pro-library. If you get stuck, just start tossing the styrofoam ruins apart, it’s an amazing Atlas-like demonstration of strength.

          • haha! You are too funny.

            Sorta random (okay totally random), but you just reminded me of that Halle Berry line that she’ll “do whatever he [Obama] says to do. I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.” Back when she said that, it made me visualize her going from blue state to red state across America picking up paper cups. Come to think of it she’d have been picking up little blue and red ones, Lol.

          • Lol! The Repubs should have tried blocking his path by strewing the nation with insurmountable paper cup mountains. It wouldn’t have worked, but it would’ve been fun to meet Halle. And maybe we’d all find that drinks taste just the same regardless of the color of the cup–that’s deep. 😉

      • Maybe someone should offer them amnesty. 🙂 If you course-correct now, before it’s too late, you’ll be forgiven for creating this problem in the first place, and everyone will stop making fun of you. It’ll be like Darth Vader but we’ll let you keep the mask.

        • I’m for a pathway for citizenship for undocumented workers and citizens, but Amnesty for progressives? I’m not that much of a maverick 😉

          • Lol Hey, don’t be like that! We will overlook some of their willful non-assimilationist tendencies, like following us to the supermarket and second guessing our choice of genetic store brand Items, as long as they’ll give up trying to actively stab us in the back and throw us under the bus.

  4. EFF EFF

    EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston on PBS Newshour: Proposal Could Expand Government’s Web Wiretapping Efforts http://eff.org/r.1rH

    To think that all the techies that Voted for Obama were thinking EFF was going to bestow an award on him and instead he is the main topic of concern on the EFF tweets.

    • The video on the TWEET is good and I believe is the one being quoted about.

      • Thanks. From the transcript:

        KEVIN BANKSTON: There simply is no record as of yet to support the conclusion that these technologies are posing an insurmountable problem for law enforcement.

        What there is a record of, however, is how these so-called lawful intercept programs have actually posed a threat to security. The most powerful example is in Greece in 2005. Lawful intercept systems for cell phones were hacked into by outside parties and used to spy on the Greek government itself, including its prime minister.

        More recently, reports are that the Chinese intrusion into Google’s systems exploited the lawful intercept systems that Google has. And so when you build these backdoors into our communications facilities, not only do we face the risk of overzealous investigators abusing them; we also open up the risk of hackers, criminals and foreign governments abusing them.

      • More excerpts from earlier in the program:

        KEVIN BANKSTON, Electronic Frontier Foundation: There are a great deal of new technologies that the Internet has enabled to allow us to communicate with each other.

        But the fact is, this proposal would be a drastic and costly anti-privacy, anti-security, and anti-innovation solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. The fact is, based on the government’s own reporting, law enforcement investigators in the 2,500 wiretaps they did last year encountered encryption only once.

        And that encryption didn’t prevent them from getting the communications they were after. So, the idea that we should, based on vague warnings that criminals are going dark, re-architect the entire Internet to make it more easily tappable by the government is simply ludicrous.


        KEVIN BANKSTON: Well, we don’t have a proposal. We don’t have hard language, but looking to the requirements currently applied to telephone companies and broadband access providers, capabilities that are already quite broad, this would apparently require every provider of any type of communication service on the Internet to build into their systems facilities to ease government wiretapping and access to user data, or face hefty fines.

        And I think part of the issue here is, would Mark Zuckerberg have been able to build Facebook and launch it from his dorm room if he had to first build in surveillance capabilities, or get fined for it? Or would Skype have even been built if they were forced to forego the benefits of peer-to-peer communication and create an artificial bottleneck, so that the government could wiretap your chats?

        I think the answer is no.

  5. wait didnt BO say this unconstitutional in O8
    then go and vote for it .

    • Obama said a lot of pretty, feel-good things in 2008, but you always had to read the fine print. And, still do. Obama’s pretty words are often… “just words.”

      • The ME TOO CAMPAIGN!

        Hi Boogie!

        • It was Generation Me who brought us Obama.

          Came across this bit, (from an NYT blog back in May):

          As my colleague Judith Warner writes in an essay in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, demographers and pundits have given this latest generation many names — “Generation Y — also known as the millennials, echo boomers or, less flatteringly, Generation Me.”

          If I could add one to this list, it would be the “T-Ball generation.” It’s telling that kids (many of them now young adults), born between 1982 and 2002, started out by swinging at an unmoving ball held in front of them at a hittable height and were given as many swings as they needed.

          There’s always an arbitrariness involved here with all these generational labels, but thankfully I missed the cutoff on this one, Lol. I was born in ’81. Glad not to be part of T-Ball generation. It’s bad enough being part of the MTV Generation.

          • You never played T-ball???? Seriously? I love all these sports analogies these people make, like somehow creating a hyper-competitive environment where a few kids are made to feel like they’ve accomplished something amazing because they hit a little projectile with a little stick while all the other kids are made to feel worthless is somehow going to great less entitled, superior problem kids and less resentment. 😉 Little leagues are about learning sportmanship and social interaction!!!!

          • Create

          • I was more on the gymnastics, tap, jazz, ballet track. Wasn’t into playing most sports and didn’t really think it defined my entire being. Lol.

          • Ohhh, T-ball is sooooo cute. The kids are adorable. Little, little kids only play t-ball.

            Wait, what am I saying? It’s unAmerican. Those three year olds thinking rules don’t apply to them and barely being able to lift the bat while commies cheer them on and sap the spirit of this country! If they can’t learn to get hit by a 90 mph fastball and like it, they’ll never learn to grow up and play professional sports with a zillion dollars, 27 DV convictions, and 21 sexual assault convictions. Having fun and learning to play nicely with others–so not the point!!!

          • Lol, no, I know what T-ball is. I only meant glad not to be part of the T-ball Generation as in glad not to be part of another derogatory generational label about younger people. The year I was born was a cusp year, so I end up in a lot of them but escape one every now and then. (Plus my suckitude at sports was from a very early age. I was more into the stereotypically girly stuff from the beginning.)

          • I mean… I do think some of the criticisms of for instance “Generation Me” have some validity in so far as you can characterize an entire generation. But, it’s a complicated thing. If you accept as fact those criticism, then part of the criticism is also a criticism of the way the generation before raised Generation Me. But, that part kind of gets lost in translation and it’s just a put-down of younger people. And, I mean look at Generation Obama. Even though a lot of it is ostensibly Generation Me and their cluelessness to blame,a good chunk of it is also Generation Me’s parents and grandparents wanting to pick the candidate their kids liked or whatever.

          • That’s the great thing about t-ball, Wonk. We love you for just being you. 🙂 Your suckitude as you hack at the ball is only endearing, especially if you wore adorable glasses. Come–join us! Pigtails optional!

          • I do think some of the criticisms of for instance “Generation Me” have some validity in so far as you can characterize an entire generation. But, it’s a complicated thing. If you accept as fact those criticism, then part of the criticism is also a criticism of the way the generation before raised Generation Me. But, that part kind of gets lost in translation and it’s just a put-down of younger people

            That’s a really good point. Definitely, members of Gen O can be very annoying. Especially the guys. But, worse than previous generations? They had their issues too, at the same ages. And maybe they’ll grow out of it. It’s younger people’s fault, maybe, for starting with the gen warfare, but it definitely gets out of hand. It’s also a class issue, where older middle class functional people are understandably annoyed with the gen warfare and don’t take into account how many members of their cohort are severely dysfunctional and have left their kids over their heads, scarred, trying to clean up their messes. It’s all complicated under the generalizations.

          • It’s also a class issue, where older middle class functional people are understandably annoyed with the gen warfare and don’t take into account how many members of their cohort are severely dysfunctional and have left their kids over their heads, scarred, trying to clean up their messes.

            This times infinity. So true. (But, then the grownup kids run away with blaming parents, and that can get unproductive really fast too. It’s a vicious cycle.)

          • It’s kind of funny, because the Me Generation and Generation Me are pretty much subject to many of the same stereotypes, some true, but many not. 😉 And everybody who takes the nostalgia theme to heart (“in my day we were beaten morning noon and night, and nobody called CPS! If a kid couldn’t hit the ball he was jeered by everybody and ran home crying–to a beating! We didn’t believe in coddling!”) knows from experience how well that type of thing didn’t work for so many members of their generation, either.

          • There are some things that make the generations different (like current events and technologies for example), but underneath it all, some of it is just patterns of behavior that keep repeating themselves. Like you say, “maybe they’ll grow out of it.” I criticize my generation all the time, too, so I’m not saying don’t criticize. But, I think a little understanding for the other side from both sides of the Me Gen/Gen Me divide might go a long way.

          • Have you read Jean Twenge’s Generation Me or her more recent book, The Narcissism Epidemic?

            Very compelling.

  6. As Obamanation was revealed through the Primaries, I thought it was obvious if Obama won this is exactly where we were headed. It’s Generation Me to a “T”, and the older generations that yearned so much to be hip with Generation Me were just idiotic and still are.

    It’s too late to stop the train.

    Generation Me may be making a whole new world but the problem ahead is old as the hills: Be careful what you wish for.

  7. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a prescient Newsvine article from 2008 called “Obama’s Unprecedented Attack on Free Speech””

    “For many months now, Obama has run a campaign that has as its centerpiece the control and manipulation of the media, and the elimination of free speech. This began as a methodology designed to control the Internet. And moved to the main stream media very quickly….

    Taking their cue from totalitarian regimes, Obama developed his own propaganda arm which spewed facts and figures to the media and made false claims designed to keep controversial issues dealing with the candidate off of the main stream media. At the same time, Obama attacked in merciless ways those who voiced opposition on various Internet systems and sources, including the media who dared to question him, and has now stopped debates in favor of tuning his message against McCain again with the help of completely compliant media.”


  8. Love the “No one could have predicted”s…It always takes me to the moment Condi blurted she knew there’ll be plane hijackings…
    Indeed, those FISA votes were absolutely no clue to anything.
    Today’s tabloids deal with Wall Street next casino: the public education

  9. Seems to me, Rs finally came up with a winner in their campaign promises: cut the White House budget
    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/121233-cantor-gop-looking-at-cutting-budget-for-white-house. As David Frum tweets


  10. Obama once again berates Democratic voters for being lazy and apathetic. All he has left is race baiting and telling Democrats that they have nowhere else to go because the Republicans are worse. It might have worked in 2008, but it’s getting old and Americans are no longer high on Hopium seeing as that they are out of work or struggling to pay the bills.


    Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

    …”It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election,” Obama said.

    And here is the funny part…

    The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.

    As for the rest: “Well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six.”

    Obama would need to win re-election in 2012 for that latter timeframe to occur.

    Does Obama still give his presidency a “B+”? It’s embarrassing.

    • Yes. And even Joe Biden is out at campaign stops telling Democratic voters to “Stop whining!”


  11. Just saw this at The daily beast:

    Remember the PUMAs, whose motto was Party Unity My Ass? They were the supposedly angry white women (the horror) so pissed off by Hillary Clinton’s defeat they were going elect John McCain? The PUMAs were sort of lost in the pixie dust storm of the Obama election. I wonder if we declared them an endangered species too soon? There were glimpses that all might not be well with white women in the exit polls even then.


  12. Time to move on from the Dem made disaster that is Obama. What we need to do now is to ignore the negative ignorant energy of the Omites and Democratic Party and begin the search for a worthy candidate that can win the White House.

    If you haven’t read Linda Hirshman “White Women Dump the Dems” today at the Beast, do. Her rationale for the demographic exodus just as clueless and unbrilliant as her suggested dog whistle for the call home….children heath care issues.

    • I’m sure some white female Democratic voters were convinced that the whole country would go to hell if a Republican won the White House in 2008. It’s harder to convince voters that their one Congressional vote (or abstention from one) will destroy the country, especially now.

      • And, also just to say–the meme that it’s only “white” female Democratic voters is really oversimplified and ignores Hillary holdouts like me who aren’t white (or older. And, not all of Hill’s holdouts were female, either. Not that there’s anything wrong with being any of those things, but I’m curious to see some extensive polling that shows the demographic split on Hillary’s holdouts.I’d wager a guess that we’re more diverse than the talking points would have you believe.)

    • Libertarians are doing the same to the gays – with a more apt call: Dems don’t give a damn about your rights!

  13. I may be disputed on this, but making back door keys to encryption generally makes the system either less secure or more complicated.

  14. Waxman bringing up legislation which will neuter net neutrality — give the internet to the Corporations to use for pure profit.

    Obama et al propose to demand all communications service providers buid in “back doors” so the Feds can tap anyone at anytime quickly and easily.

    Obama et al now want banks to turn over records of absolutely every electronic bank transaction in and out of the country.

    It’s long past 1984, but Obama is legislating and executive ordering like it’s 1984!

  15. “The rebooting of our democracy has begun,”



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