Saturday, July 12, 2008

The small gap between torture and spying

Glenn Greenwald appears to agree - at least in principle - with my issue with Andrew Sullivan's contradictory positions on torture and illegal surveillance.

That's why this ongoing, well-intentioned debate
that Andrew Sullivan is having with himself and his readers over
whether "torture is worse than illegal, warrantless eavesdropping" is
so misplaced, and it's also why those who are dismissing as "an
overblown distraction" the anger generated by last week's Congressional
protection of surveillance lawbreakers are so deeply misguided. Things
like "torture" and "illegal eavesdropping" can't be compared as though
they're separate, competing policies. They are rooted in the same
framework of lawlessness. The same rationale that justifies one is what
justifies the other. Endorsing one is to endorse all of it.

New and NOT improved FISA must be stopped

As explained by the inimitable Chris Hedges.

The monitoring of suspected terrorists, with proper oversight, is a
crucial part of our national security. But this law is not about
keeping us safe, which can -- and should -- be done in a constitutional
manner and with judicial oversight. It is about using terrorism as a
pretext to permit wholesale spying and to silence voices that will
allow us to maintain an open society.

Digby says it well

Unlike Digby, I was taken in by Obama's personality, as much as by his message. But I had read his books and studied his legislative record, so while I knew him to be somewhat centrist, I was okay with it. As a socially liberal/fiscally conservative progressive, I have a couple of center-right tendencies on certain issues, and I actually liked those contradictions in Obama. But why I am now turned off and have stopped supporting (donating to/volunteering for) his campaign is that I feel completely betrayed.

Up until the end of the primaries, I was convinced that he was indeed principled and not triangulating, and that he wasn't afraid of standing up for any of his principles. Sure, he may not be much of a fighter in the sense that he didn't go looking for fights, be he did seem proud and strong enough to stand his ground. I don't know where that guy went, but this General Election Obama is not the Primary Obama that I worked so hard for in the primaries.

And I did work hard. I manned the phones, I donated money I could barely afford to give up, and I flew across the country to volunteer in Texas. I did that because Obama seemed proud that he had the support of the netroots, and activists on the left. He certainly wasn't dismissive of us like Clinton was. So it did indeed come as a shock when he reversed his position on FISA, and it really hurt when he attacked I genuinely feel like he got what he wanted from us, and has now hung us out to dry.

I still believe that Obama must win, because a McCain presidency would be absolutely horrible for this country. But Obama is going to have to win without my help, as he certainly seems to be okay with. But if he wants my support, he's going to have to earn it.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Just forced myself to sit through this nearly unbreable interview with our Chimp in Chief that Ben Cohen posted at HuffPo. The reporter, Carol Coleman, did what no American reporter has yet to do, and that's not back down from the idiot. Throughout the interview, you can tell Carol quickly tires of Bush's non-answers and tries to move the point forward. But Bush repeatedly cuts her off, whining "let me finish." And by the interview it becomes painfully clear why Bush actually needs to finish. It's because he loses his train of thought if he gets cut off, and forgets his rehearsed talking points and has to resort to meaningless platitudes and monosyllabic grunts. The fact that this was never aired in America is testament to media's complicity in our current downward spiral.

Animal Farm Friday

No video today, just this creepy pic. That cat in the background is from the government. No thanks to Barack Obama, we can look forward to a creeping sense of paranoia building in our society now that we can't even trust those who we thought were on our side. Watch your backs, people!

Organized People Beat Organized Money

Up yours, Comcast! Net Neutrality victory nears!

Re: A response to your message to Obama for America

Check out this BULLSHIT response from Team Obama regarding his FISA vote. I don't give a shit that he voted three times to strip telecom immunity from the bill, he still voted for the final piece of legislative garbage. I don't buy it for one second, and that's why the money that I would have been donating to his campaign is now going to real progressive candidates down ballot, and to the ACLU to fight this fucking FISA law.

On Fri, Jul 11, 2008 at 12:30 PM, Obama for America Correspondence Team wrote:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting us and sharing your strong feelings about this important issue.  Please find a statement from Senator Obama below.

We appreciate hearing from you.


Obama for America,

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act.  Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance - making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses.  Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful.  But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.  So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives - and the liberty - of the American people.

Paid for by Obama for America


No, not what John Lennon sung about. Imagine if our leaders today were tasked with forming the legal foundations for a new society much like our founding fathers were. What would that new society look like?

I'd love to hear your ideas. Please share them in the comments.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Chuck Todd disqualified himself from taking the helm of Meet the Press

NBC's Chuck Todd on McCain's bad jokes about genocide:

"That's what makes him real and that's what makes people who disagree with him say 'ah, you know what? The guy seems like any guy you'd want to have around the dinner table or the bar stool.'"

The current douchebag occupying the Oval Office was the kind of guy people want to have a beer with (even though he supposedly doesn't snort coke drink. Look how he turned out.

By suckling up to John McCain's man-teets, Chuck just made himself irrelevant to the political discourse beyond anything more than number crunching. And not that I matter all that much, but whatever respect I had for Mr. Todd has been severely diminished.

Bring back primary Obama

I like "primary Obama" much more than"general election Obama"

Why are you okay with FISA?


I was writing my own note to you wondering why you are so indifferent to this terrible FISA bill when you are so opposed to torture, but another reader has already said much of what I would have said. Your response to that reader, however, is disappointing.

Your response sounds like it's couched from a perspective of fear, but I think you are afraid of the wrong things. Should we be doing everything we can to find and track potential threats? Yes, but within the bounds of our existing legal framework, and in a manner that does not jeopardize our civil liberties. Certainly not in a manner that undermines our founding documents.

That reader was right to hint at the possibility of these new surveillance powers being egregiously abused, and that is what you should be afraid of more than terror threats. The distance is very short between a totalitarian police state and an unchecked executive with sweeping powers of surveillance, supported by a compliant congress and an indifferent public.

You, as someone who once had to hide his true nature, I would think the prospect of someone in authority who took a disliking to you and abused that surveillance authority in order to harm you would be a more realistic threat than the possibility of you being harmed by some foreign agent with limited reach and capabilities.

But on the comparison between FISA and torture, they are both immoral on legal grounds. They both go directly against the grain of our national fiber, and our founding principles. Not only are both issues horrible on their own merits, they are completely un-American. As a veteran from a military family, someone who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I take this issue very seriously. From my perspective, the Constitution - and the very soul of this country - is under assault by some cravenly immoral and cowardly individuals, who use the specter of fear to usurp sweeping powers of authority. Those who would do this are the same types of people who would also abuse that power. It is incredibly sad that you don't see this.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Time to FIGHT!

About that money that I was going to donate to Obama's GE fund. That's going to the ACLU to help fight the FISA Fuck Over.

Join the FIGHT!

What we need to do to all the Dems that caved on the FISA bill

The fight will continue

Obama may have joined the Republicans in taking their morning constitution on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, but there are still a handful of people with spines who aren't going to bend over for Bush.

The ACLU plans to challenge the law as soon as Bush signs it into law. No telling whether or not that will do any good, but at least they're not afraid to fight.

Keep on rockin' in the (not-so-free) world, Glenn!

Hey Glenn,

Since you mentioned that you've gotten a lot of e-mails from Obama supporters that say you should stop criticizing him, I just want you to know that there are others out here who think like you do. That it is Obama's behavior that warrants criticism, not the criticism of his behavior.

You're calling it like it is. No matter how anyone feels about this bill, there is one simple truth that cannot be denied. Barack Obama LIED to his supporters back when he said he would support a filibuster of any bill that contained immunity for telecoms involved with warrantless wiretapping. In doing so, he completely shot himself in the foot, because he can no longer be trusted on ANY issue when he would so cravenly undermine the Constitution. He has shown himself inexplicably to be a vacillating and unprincipled politician, and in my view an utter coward.

Thanks for the truth!

Jake Barlow

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why the media loves McCain?

Does he use some kind of magical bbq sauce, laced with magic mushrooms or Ecstasy? Or maybe Cindy plies them all with promises of free Budweiser for the rest of their lives? Maybe the [Straight] Talk Express is stocked with lots of free porn and chicken.

It's easy for me to believe that it's all of these, and perhaps that they are all still in love with their "idea" of McCain the Top Gun Maverick. Except McCain was never even close to being a Top Gun, given how many planes he "crashed and burned." (Hell, he's never even been much of a maverick.) Maybe it's because they see that he's so pliable, given the way his stances on issues change seemingly by the moment. A guy like that would certainly be easy enough to manipulate, and his involvement as part of the Keating 5 would support that notion.

But maybe the reason is much more cynical. Maybe the press is trying to create an artificial horserace like they did with Clinton. even though Obama had essentially won the primaries by the first week in March, the MSM made hay out of Clinton's "dogged determination" and "won't back down" fighting, even though her odds of overtaking Obama were slim to none. But a horserace it was, yeah? A real nail-biter. The ratings and ad sales were through the roof!

Stepping back away from the trees, to me the forest looks like it has a clear path running from Chicago to the White House. That path cutting in from Arizona looks twisted, winding, and narrow, and full of fallen trees, briar patches, and nefarious, loot-stealing highwaymen. It seems clear to just about anyone who is not a white racist pig that Obama is walking all over McCain in the general election, and every day is two steps forward for Obama, and only a half-step forward (or one step back) for McCain. It's only the MSM that seems to have not gotten the memo, or if they have, they are choosing to ignore it. Instead, we find the MSM fabricating a new horserace, this time with Big Brown versus Ol' Gray Mare Mac. It is in the financial interest of the MSM to keep some sense of competition alive in this race, otherwise, consider all the lost revenue - and lost journalism jobs - if the media treated this race like it really is: Obama is beating the snot out of McCain.

Should I be happy about this?

Getting quoted in an article in the NY Daily News - with the fifth largest circulation in the US - on my 40th birthday sounds like a good thing, especially in an article that also quotes Glenn Greenwald on the same issue. But then it is the NY Daily News, a rag that has been at times in a head-to-head race to the bottom with Rupert Murdock's NY Post. It's also quoting something I wish I wouldn't have had to say. But today tomorrow will bear out my reasoning as Barack Obama votes alongside many other cowardly Democratic senators to undermine the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

But at least Mike Saul wrote the article somewhat fairly, so I'm grateful for that. Although he could have mentioned a little more about the wiretapping flap.

The votes in the Senate on various amendments to the FISA "compromise" bill and to the underlying bill itself were originally scheduled for today, but have been postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday, July 9) to enable Senators to attend the funeral of Jesse Helms.

Fired up for Mac!

Monday, July 7, 2008

It bridges the gap between pork and cookie.

You don't hear that everyday.

Why They Haven't Attacked Us Again

Ted Rall
© Ted Rall

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In a Galaxy not so far away...

Our hero races to the find its center.