Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sunday Sketch - Flip-flops are Great for the Summer

On the heals of launching Animal Farm Fridays in honor of the rising totalitarian police state in America, I'm now kicking off the Sunday Sketch, featuring an unfinished - and currently exclusive - cartoon. Some of you may recall my earlier request to get readers to pound away on the Google ads to help me justify the time commitment it takes to do these cartoons. There's been modest progress there, but right now sketches and works-in-progress are the most I can do. So thanks for those who have been clicking those ads, but I'm pleading now for others to literally abuse those ads with your mouse clicks - point the arrow on the ads and pound away on that mouse button - because, while this is partly a labor of love, it is still labor, and I still have bills to pay.

With that, I'll pause on the pity party/beggars ball and introduce to you the inaugural piece to the new Sunday Sketch feature on The Low Bar. (Click the image to enlarge)

I've been paying attention

Josh wants to know if we're paying attention, and for the record I'm saying "yeah." I've been paying attention to the exceedingly clear bias the reporters from the Associated Press have shown in their stories against Obama, almost as obviously egregious as those of Fox News. That's really saying something, because at least Fox News doesn't shy away from its obvious bias against Obama, nor does Fox News try to pretend to be anything other than baseless tabloid journalism. But the folks at the AP are flea-ridden dogs pretending to be shit-eating pigs, so they haven't quite gotten the hang of what it takes to roll around in the muck and love doing it. But with Fox News's big daddy Rupert on the AP board, it's only a matter of time before the lot of them become just as useless and joyfully pathetic as all the other fecal freaks at Fox News.

New Look

I've been working on a new look for The Low Bar, and I'm interested in what you think before I kill myself trying to code it. Take a peek and let me know what you think, or if you have a preference for one or the other. All feedback is welcome, good and bad.

Friday, July 4, 2008

How dare they, indeed!

Preach it, brother!

Now these bad actors are prepared to set aside your right to privacy — written into the Constitution as a key part of our Bill of Rights — with hardly a nod in the direction of the true patriots who rebelled against an English king and his army to guarantee those rights.

That they will do this while the last empty phrases of the political windbags at the Fourth of July celebrations are still echoing across a thousand city parks and the bright red, white and blue bunting and blizzard of American flags still flap in the breeze is little short of breath-taking.

How dare they?


They would have us believe that a nation of 300 million people must surrender what a million other Americans gave their lives in war to protect in order to protect us from a couple of hundred fanatics hiding in caves in Waziristan.

Somewhere across an ocean and a desert, hiding in his cave, a man of hate named Osama bin Laden is laughing up the sleeve of his dirty robe at the thought that he and a small handful of fellow fanatics could tie a great nation in knots — knots of fear stoked by our own leaders.

We have done incalculably more and greater damage to ourselves since September 11, 2001, than a thousand bin Ladens and ten thousand al Qaida recruits could ever have done to us.

The world just got a little better

Jessie Helms is dead!

Losing Hope

After a thorough re-reading (and re-reading) of Obama's statement on his FISA cave-in, I've come to this conclusion. What this sounds like to me is that Barack Obama's attitude is "Aw, aren't they cute? Look how the angry supporters self-organized to tell me how much they don't like that I flip-flopped on the FISA bill. That's just darling. Okay little cuties, run along now. Go back to your little blogs, and rant and rave all you like, and leave this Presidenting stuff to us grown-ups."

Obama just lost nearly all of my respect. Seeing Obama being weak on this issue and playing into the right's frames of national security, seeing Obama willfully participate in the denigration of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and see Obama act so patronizingly towards his supporters who firmly believe that we are first a nation of laws, not a nation of men, I am so very saddened.

While I could easily believe that Obama would not abuse the power of the Executive branch the way that George W. Bush has, I cannot accept that as a reasonable defense of his new position. It is not enough to say "trust me" on such a critical issue. It does not matter how trustworthy he may appear to be. But on that note, if we cannot trust Obama to stand by his own words and principles on such a critical issue, how can we trust anything else he says? Why won't we just expect him to do the politically expedient thing of the moment? Isn't that what the Clintons are famous for? Isn't that what triangulation is?

Here is why I find him to be so patronizing with this statement:

It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

Potentially weakens? No, it absolutely weakens the deterrent effect of the law. It is not as though we demand accountability for the sake of vengeance. Accountability for past abuses would have the effect of increasing the deterrent effect of the law, ensuring that those who might liberally interpret those laws in the future could be held accountable retroactively. As for supporting the removal of Title II, that just talk, and talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Supporting this bill even while verbally objecting to Title II is like talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time. Clintonism at its finest.

But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility

The exclusivity provision is needless rhetoric. The current FISA law was just liberally interpreted by Bush, as could this new exclusivity provision be imaginatively interpreted by a future President. As for this "compromise law" assuring that the FISA court has the responsibility of "watching the watchers", the current FISA bill already does that just fine.

But leaving that aside, I am completely appalled at this new tone Obama is taking with his supporters. Firstly, he is talking to us like children, much like Bush did. And using fear - like Bush - to defend his position. "In a dangerous world..." WTF? Seriously, Obama. WTF? Who have you become?

The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

Really? And how is that going, Mr. Obama? How is the uncovering of these illegal issues going? When a rogue Executive has the backing of a rogue Judiciary and the support of roadblocking Legislators, and when lawmakers can't enforce suppoenas against Executive staff members, ow are we to believe that this "new and improved" compromise bill will do anything to keep the government from violating our Constitutional rights again? The answer: It can't!

The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. 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.

BOO! Are you scared yet? (I'll address in more detail the issue of these expiring electronic surveillance orders, but the short of it is that these orders need to expire, and their expiration will do nothing to make us less safe.) But to the point of Obama's intentions once he's sworn in, this goes back to the matter of trust. In the very statement he makes to defend his flip-flopping, he asks us to trust him when he's President. That sounds eerily familiar. I will repeat, we are a nation of laws, not a nation of men. That's where Bush got it wrong, and now it is looking like it is where Obama is getting it wrong.

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.

Awwww. Aren't we sweet? Look how we got Obama's attention just long enough to tell us all to collectively go fuck ourselves.

Firstly, Obama supporters in the FISA group had nothing to do with this current compromise bill. While some in the group may have been vocal about the issue, this particular group was formed to tell Obama that we were not happy with this particular new bill, nor with his reversal on the issue, and his decision to go against his own words. Look how that has worked for us. We get a pat on the bottom and told to run along, while Obama goes off a plays nice with the telecoms. How much has he gotten from them anyway?

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. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States -- a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples' business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

I don't see a whole lot of "accountability" here at all, not with Obama being so dismissive of and patronizing to so many of his supporters. As for this being a deal breaker, I mentioned earlier that it is indeed a deal breaker for me. I hope Obama wins against McCain. I really do. I really believe that McCain would be horrible for this country, and despite this "new but not improved Obama," I think he'd be a great President. But he is going to have to do it without my help.

Obama's campaign was the first campaign I ever volunteered for. I have donated more of my money to his campaign than to any other, by far. I got on board back when he formed his exploratory committee, and have been supporting him on the phones calling almost every state, walking the streets of San Francisco, and the streets of San Antonio. I did this because he convinced me that he was not like other politicians. He convinced me that he was a true leader, not someone who was led by consultants. He seemed guided by principles, not blown by political winds. He talked to us all like we were adults, and treated us with respect.

I don't know who this new Barack Obama is, but I don't particularly like him, at least not as much as the old Obama.

Thanks, Glenn

First of all, thanks Glenn Greenwald for the link to a little post on this tiny little backwater blog in your very astute post on Obama's FISA cave. I really appreciate the traffic, and the lively discussion it has generated.

More importantly, thank you for your dogged determination to get the story out about just how dangerous this new FISA bill is, and how damaging it is to our country.


Animal Farm Friday - Independence Day Edition

Predictable, I suppose. But what can I say. These are magnificent birds. Stephen Colbert, this one's for you!

Declaration on Independence Day (eve)

I wish I was part of this group. Where do I sign on?

Rabble Rousers Post Subversive “Declaration” in NYT

Off Obama's bus

Here is an excerpt from Obama's statement on his FISA cave in, interspersed with my knee-jerk commentary (I will have full analysis when I have a proper keyboard again):


Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward,
some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's

Me: It is a deal breaker, and I guess Obama is happy to lose my support.

But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast
majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have.

Me: If by differences Obama means the way we value the Constitution, then he is astoundingly out of touch with the way I - and many like me - feel. I am sorry, but pissing on the Constitution is absolutely unequivocal to any other issue in this - or any - campaign. Accepting the past transgressions against the Constitution, and those transgressors, is unacceptable.

After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether
it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent
has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want
to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John
McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we
love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic
opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

Me: Sorry mate, but turning your back on your principles and on the Constitution is an act of cowardice. It is a weak political move, and it goes against the primary reasons I supported you since prior to your official announcement to run. The Barack Obama who penned this letter is not the same person I flew to Texas to volunteer for.

The vacillating, flip-flopping politician that you appear to have become is little different from McCain, and I can no longer trust you any more than I could McCain.

This does not sound like a new course at all, but rather a failed course, and one I want no part of. Not only have you lost my support, you may have even lost my vote. Consider me officially off the Obama bus.

Thursday, July 3, 2008




Earlier today in a response to a question by Mike Saul from the NY Daily News on Obama's statement today on withdrawing from Iraq I wrote:

My first thought is that Obama's recent actions and statements won't help him avoid being painted a flip-flopper by the right, but they were going to find a way to do that anyhow. It also won't help Obama much with the "low information" voters for the same reason. I, however, expected this. Obama has always said that how he wants to proceed with Iraq will be determined by the information he has available, and he never ruled out that his thinking might shift. I remember this from either a debate moderated by Tim Russert, or perhaps it was on his MTP appearance. However, the context of those statements seemed to apply more to post-inauguration than while still campaigning. But we can't deny - at least from recent press reports - that things do appear to be changing in Iraq, at least from the point of the Iraqi government trying to at least appear to be acting more independent.

I'm less concerned about what he has to say about Iraq, because lets face it, there's no easy way out of this for anyone. What I am very concerned about is what he says about Iran. Any "tough talk" is going to have a negative affect on me.

On their own, many of the apparent "flip-flops" from Obama lately are anything but. If you've read his books, you'd know that he was for the death penalty for those who would rape and murder a child. He was also fairly pro gun, though he was also for gun control, especially in Chicago, and those positions are not incompatible.

His recent remarks about withdrawing the troops from Iraq are consistent with what he has said all along, but when you put all of these recent positions together and view them out of their original context, you see what appears to be a pattern of Obama shifting away from his progressive values and pandering more to the "center" - wherever the hell that is.

I guess I could be in the center, considering that my positions swing far right in some cases, but far left on most others. What I liked about Obama is that he seemed to embody a similar dynamic, that he could be liberal and libertarian and conservative, without those positions being in conflict. What I liked most about him, however, was that he seemed guided more by principles than by politics, and wasn't afraid to be controversial. I still believe that for the most part, but I cannot compromise on the FISA issue.

Make no mistake. I am holding Obama accountable to his words, not mine. When I say he has lost my support, I mean that I am no longer willing to give him my money, nor give him my time. It's not too late for him to change my mind on that, just as it's not too late to lose my vote as well. I'll be watching Obama with the same critical eye that I have always watched with, even when I walked up and down the San Francisco hills on that cold and rainy February day, even those days in Texas when I walked three precincts, and even when I talked to potential voters on the countless numbers of calls I made.

Not that it really matters all that much, what with me being one person. But then maybe it matters a little more when you factor in all those folks I encountered while volunteering for the campaign, and especially when you factor in all the fence sitters I talked over to Obama's side.

I'm anxious to see what Obama does next.

FISA is still the law!

If a judge appointed by Bush Sr. says that Li'l Bush's wiretaps were illegal, and that FISA gives Congress authority on this matter, will Obama still support a bill that grants telecoms immunity?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not a glitch in the Matrix, but an attempt to break the matrix

Strange Bed Fellows, indeed. I'm on board to add to the "money bomb!"

Yes. It is torture.

Take it from the mouth of one of the biggest champions of the Iraq war.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A top 10 list...

...that will really piss you off!

Cockney rhyming slang...

...just about blows my loaf off! Have a butcher's.

No, Russ. We thank you!

Glad to see someone standing by their principles and not being a political coward.

No sycophancy here either!

I'm with Kos on this one, for the very same reasons!

So it's not just me...

From Greg Sargent at TPM:

Anti-FISA-Cave Group On Obama's Web Site Keeps On Growing

That social networking group set up on for the specific purpose of urging Obama not to support the FISA cave-in bill has now grown to nearly 7,500 members.

It's the fourth largest group on the site, after less than a week in existence.

As of 9:20 AM 2:00 PM Pacific, there are over 7,900 8,900 members.

A glitch in the Matrix?

or just Chronotopic Anamorphosis from Marginalia Project on Vimeo? It gets better as it goes on.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Worth remembering...

"In adversity lies opportunity, however hidden or dim. And we must find that dim or hidden opportunity and seize it. Otherwise, despair swallows us whole."
Cary Tennis

Can you tell I'm feeling melancholy?

The First Fax

Apparently, this question was interesting to me a couple of years ago:

What did the first person who owned a fax machine do with it?

WTF Obama?!?

What the fuck has gotten into Obama? His campaign is turning into one big massive mistake right before our very eyes. General Wes Clark rightfully says that McCain's military service and experience as a POW does not necessarily qualify him for being president, and that it also does not serve as a reliable indicator of good judgment. There was no attack on McCain, nor on his service, but to hear the right-wingnuts and media blowhards tell it, Clark might has well have pissed on McCain's medals.

But then the Obama campaign has to come running to McCain's defense? Why? There was no attack to defend against.

"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark," said Obama campaign spokeman Bill Burton.

I'm already done donating and volunteering because of the whole FISA/telco amnesty flip-flop, but Obama is dangerously close to losing my vote outright. If they keep up this kind of wussy behavior and allow themselves to be led around by the nose by the media and the McCain campaign, then Obama can go fuck himself.