Friday, June 27, 2008

Animal Farm Friday

In honor of our current rising police state, I think it is fitting to remember George Orwell's Animal Farm. So to that end, I'm introducing Animal Farm Fridays

While this whole FISA issue is probably more Big Brother, there's no weekday that works with "B", and certainly there's a limit on amusing authoritarian media. But there are tons of funny animal videos on YouTube, or photos on Flickr, and the goal here is to throw a humorous spin on such an un-funny issue.

What better way to introduce this weekly homage to Eric Arthur Blair (a.k.a. Geroge Orwell) and his prescient vision of life under a totalitarian police state than with militant chickens bringing the law to the farm.

nice Friday send-off for George

Carlin, that is. Some classics from the genius posted here for your reading pleasure.

Best of the bunch:

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, Y'know, I want to set those people over there on fire but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.

Lock and load

As much as I think there will be a shockingly dramatic increase in handgun violence in the next few years, and as pissed off as I am that Scalia was the driver behind the SCOTUS ruling on the 2nd Amendment, I have to agree with Gene Robinson on this one:

I believe the Constitution is a living document that has to be seen in light of the times. I believe the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, was right to infer an implicit right to privacy, even though no such thing is spelled out. I think the idea that the Founders' "original intent" should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony -- as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet.

But I also believe that if the Constitution says yes, you can't just blithely pretend it says no. Yesterday's decision appears to leave room for laws that place some restrictions on gun ownership but still observe the Second Amendment's guarantee. If not, then the way to fix the Constitution is to amend it -- not ignore it.

In fact, I agree completely with everything he said in this post.

Lieberman Must GO!

Sign the petition!

Keith Olbermann, Glenn Greenwald Feud Over FISA

About Keith Olbermann
I think Keith and Glenn are both right in different ways. Per KO's comment, I'll follow John Dean on this one, and wholeheartedly agree that he is worth 25 GGs and 26 KOs. I am as fuming mad at BO for this triangulation, to the point of considering not donating or volunteering as I have in the past, but if there is any truth to the notion that the "soft on terror" attacks are trumped by this move, and that the possibility for criminal prosecution is still on the table, then BO's change in position makes sense. I don't know enough about Constitutional law to have a solid understanding of this, and I believe GG comes up short on this as well. But John Dean certainly knows more about Constitutional law than just about anyone alive, so I'd defer to his judgment on this.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

In this original post, I asserted that Glenn Greenwald comes up short on the Constitutional law front. I am completely incorrect on that, and would like for the record to say that Glenn does indeed know quite a lot about Constitutional law. I had meant to also include Keith Olbermann in that regard, and I will stand by the assertion that he does not know much about Constitutional law. I also want to be clear that the point I was trying to make was that John Dean does indeed know more about Constitutional law than both of them combined, and I was attempting to laud Mr. Dean and not necessarily denegrate either Misters Greenwald or Olbermann.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FISA on hold until July



SCOTUS - a la Scalia Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, and Thomas - just shot America in the foot. Better run out and get your guns, since the right-wingnuts are stocking up even more now.

How Obama lost my support

Dear Mr. Burton,

I am very saddened by this recent turn of position by Barack Obama on the matter of amnesty for the telecommunications violation of the law in their complicity with the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping orders.

These are your words, Mr. Burton:

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

These are Senator Obama's words from last January:

"I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill.

Ever since 9/11, this Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people - not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

That is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Dodd's amendment to remove the immunity provision. Secrecy must not trump accountability. We must show our citizens – and set an example to the world – that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient.

A grassroots movement of Americans has pushed this issue to the forefront. You have come together across this country. You have called upon our leaders to adhere to the Constitution. You have sent a message to the halls of power that the American people will not permit the abuse of power – and demanded that we reclaim our core values by restoring the rule of law.

It's time for Washington to hear your voices, and to act. I share your commitment to this cause, and will stand with you in the fights to come (emphasis mine)."

And again in February:

"We know it's time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd's candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish. The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I've been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability . We must show our citizens – and set an example to the world – that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America – no one is above the law."(emphasis mine)

It is clear after his statement yesterday that he was either lying then, or he is lying now:

"My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."

I am not so naive as to think that Senator Obama would not shift his positions on important issues, all politicians do that. But on a matter of such grave importance as defending the Constitution, and holding accountable those who would harm it, there is no room for compromise.

As someone who volunteered to the campaign many, many hours and money I could ill afford to give up, all because I trusted that Barack Obama was the one true candidate who was different from all the rest, it is heartbreaking to see that he is indeed just like all the rest. The only change I see coming from Barack Obama now is a change in his attitude towards those of us who worked so hard to help him win the Democratic nomination. It is painfully clear to me that we were used up and are now being hung out to dry.

I can no longer volunteer my support, nor donate any more of my time or money to Obama's campaign. I cannot in good conscience support any candidate who could be so cravenly dishonest on such an important matter.

Take note of this, Mr. Burton: When someone who has been so committed to supporting Barack Obama withdraws that support over this FISA compromise issue, imagine what might happen with all of the undecided voters who are concerned about this issue.

James "Jake" Barlow
MyBo: seejake

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Serenity Lost: Obama And The Netroots

I don't quite understand how trampling the Constitution is a matter that only the netroots are upset about. It's abhorrent that most Americans don't seem bothered by this. Abhorrent, but understandable when you stop to consider the degree of ignorance and apathy in this country, as well as mass media complacency on matters of grave importance affecting this country. Most who know me think that I am an "Obamabot" - and I have traveled to red states to campaign for him. But I care a lot more about the Constitution than I do any single man, and if Obama is complicit in the success of the FISA "compromise", that will be a travesty that I cannot forgive. Two major points to consider: 1) Obama gave his word that he would do everything he could to oppose telco amnesty. If he breaks his word on such an important issue, then how can he be trusted? 2) If he allows for the trampling of the Constitution, then he has shown contempt for the very laws that serve as the bedrock of our nation. He would no more deserve to be president than Bush.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, June 23, 2008

I will stop supporting Barack if he doesn't filibuster the FISA bill

Dear Mr. Burton,

My name is James Barlow, I was a precinct captain in CD-08, San Francisco, and I spent 5 days in Texas walking door to door and working the phones. I have also donated nearly $2000 to his campaign, and his is the first campaign I have ever worked for. But if Barack Obama does not filibuster Steny Hoyers FISA compromise, I will STOP SUPPORTING BARACK OBAMA. No more donations. No more volunteering for the campaign. No vote in the general election.

This is the real test of Barack Obama's claim to bring change to Washington. If he capitulates on this issue, I will absolutely have no way of trusting him anymore, and his message of change will be nothing but complete hogwash.

It is bad enough that Barack cut that radio ad for Bush Democrat John Barrow, when a much more deserving progressive Democrat could have benefited from his support. That Obama backed Barrow was reprehensible. Now, his support of the FISA compromise will be the deal breaker.

I am not acting out, nor am I venting my frustration. Hear this, Mr. Burton, and communicate it to Barack Obama: I WILL NOT SUPPORT, NOR VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA IF HE DOES NOT FILIBUSTER THE FISA BILL IF IT GRANTS AMNESTY TO TELECOMS.


James Barlow
873 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110