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Obama = Worse than Bush

Barack Obama in August, 2007:

Barack Obama today? Read it and weep, Conflucians. From Raw Story (h/t commenter iloveny)

President Barack Obama invoked “state secrets” to prevent a court from reviewing the legality of the National Security Agency’s warantless wiretapping program, moving late Friday to have a lawsuit that challenged the program dismissed.

The move — which holds that information surrounding the massive eavesdropping program should be kept from the public because of its sensitivity — follows an earlier decision in March to block handover of documents relating to the Bush Administration’s decision to spy on a charity. The arguments also mirror the Bush Administration’s efforts to dismiss an earlier suit against AT&T.

The Friday brief involves a lawsuit filed by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA for the wiretapping program. The agency monitored the telephone calls and emails of thousands of people within the United States without a court’s approval in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks.

The Defendents in the suit the Obama Justice Department is trying to short circuit?

Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff David Addington and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

According to Glenn Greenwald,

the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned.

Have you got that all you Obots who claimed Obama would restore Constitutional protections? Greenwald again:

Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ — using an absurdly broad rendition of “state secrets” to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity — are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.

At this point, I can’t say I’m surprised. Obama has already signaled he will follow Bush policies on continuing “extraordinary rendition” and keeping the torture programs secret. He’s handing over the entire treasury to the banks and wants to “fix” social security and medicare just like Bush planned to do. Exactly what was that “change” we were supposed to believe in? It’s a real crying shame that we couldn’t elect a Democrat in 2008. Exactly how would McCain/Palin have been worse?

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America Jumps The Shark

10-obama-meets-spiderman-100109I’m beginning to think that the art of politics (if there is such a thing) is the ability to get strangers to pretend to understand when you talk nonsense out of both sides of your mouth.  Unfortunately, that is also today’s definition of journalism.  That makes looking for turds of political wisdom among the media bullshit as much fun as a scavenger hunt in a sewer.  And just as obvious.

Politico is reporting that there are landmines ahead for ever-prepared policy wonk, Hillary Clinton, in her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings because she’s married to Bill and she ran against the man who appointed her, while at the same time (same article) reporting that her confirmation hearings are scheduled for only one day and everybody thinks she’ll be confirmed “speedily.”

Rasmussen Reports tells us that “lots” of people, 75% in fact, plan to watch at least “some” of the first black president-elect’s upcoming inauguration, with 28% planning to watch it “all,” while you couldn’t pay 21% to watch “any” of it.  They don’t tell us how many people plan to watch “for sure,” but 61% of black people will watch “all” the festivities, because he’s black, too, while only 22% of whites feel the same way, because they’re not.  Since the stupid networks show every indication of airing every aspect of the stupid inauguration festivities over and over until we “all” puke, I think it’s significant that 21% obviously won’t be turning on their televisions, reading a paper or surfing the net in the foreseeable near future.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent support of Rod Blagojevich’s appointee for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, Roland Burris, should score her some major points with black voters and colleagues who pretty much liked her anyway, according to CQ Politics.  Fienstein’s support registered well with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, though her reasoning had nothing to do with his skin color; rather, she cited a quaint little concept known as “the law.”

Feinstein’s bold stance on a no-brainer issue nonetheless puts her at odds with her Senate colleagues intent upon prolonging what amounts to a pissing contest during a circle jerk.  Those opposing Burris’ seating because he was appointed by a guy they consider to be a slimeball, (presumably not because he was involved in shady pay-to-play scams, but because he got caught; nobody’s calling for Bill Richardson‘s head or for his duties to be suspended; probably because he doesn’t have a Senate seat to sell like Blago and barely Governor Patterson) are suddenly trying to figure out how to zip up their wet pants and look presentable without washing their hands now that they realize that the curtain’s open and people are watching.

What do you do when you pick the guy you like to give the invocation at your inauguration, in order to make nice with the people who didn’t vote for you, if the people who did vote for you hate him?  Why, you find somebody the people who like you will like, too, and invite him to speak at another event, call it an “inauguration…something” and, sell it on EBay the internet.

But, all of that is just business as usual.  Sure, the outgoing Republican president turning over 350 billion taxpayer dollars to the incoming Democratic president is a little unprecedented (like being a little pregnant) but, not eyebrow-raising in today’s Obamacan political climate.  And, so what if people who read Politico think that MSNBC’s Chuck Todd is a latter-day Walter Cronkite?   Who cares if the FISA guy wants to digitalize medical records?  Multiple wars, impeachments, Gitmo flip-flops, unemployment, sucky economy, scandal, we’re used to all that stuff.

No, what has sent the country into a Happy Days-inspired leap from reality is the recent propensity of popular culture icons to embrace the ridiculous as it relates to Barack Obama.  You’d think they’d never seen a black president before, or something.  First Ms. Magazine, in a move that makes6a00e553cca69a8833010536c23492970c-800wi “The View” and “Playgirl” seem radical by comparison, boasted an improbable cover touting Obama’s non-existent feminist creds, going so far as to depict him as the women’s movement’s very own super hero, a giant leap up, in the wrong direction, from Prince Charming or Barbie’s Ken.

But the “fridge was nuked” waaaay over the rainbow shark when Marvel Comics equally (more) improbably paired Obama with a real-as-it-gets superhero, Spiderman, in it’s latest edition, because the future Geek-In-Chief was once a collector.  I shit kid you not.

The Barack Obama rage has now taken the comic world by storm. Reportedly the president will feature along with the superhero ‘Spiderman’. The fact that the US-president elect was a Spidey collector as a kid, has inspired the Marvel Comics to feature the ‘icon’ for the children’s book.

“When we read that we thought, ‘Oh my God the future Commander-in-chief is actually the future nerd-in-chief,’ the New York Daily News quoted Joe Quesada, Marvel’s top editor, as saying. “With a geek in the White House , we just had to give him a shout back. It’s just the coolest thing ever,” Quesada added.

Unlike Ms., at least they didn’t give the Obamessiah undeserved super powers.  Maybe by this time next week, or more likely, the week after, since “lots” of us will be eating nachos and watching the Super Bowl of Politics on cable next week, (I wonder if they’ll have cool new commercials?) we’ll find out that the wheels on the Obabus are actually jet-propelled wings or something.  I’m sure a rocket fueled, Acme Co. E-ject-O driver’s seat is too much to ask for.

And, the wheels on the bus…

*X-posted over at my place, Cinie’s World, as you would expect.

A Noisy Noise Annoys a Noisy Oyster

Masslib at Alegre’s Corner pointed me to the silly commentary on FISA on DailyKos.  Suffice it to say, Markos is uncomfortable.  He is not amused.  First, there was that stupid FISA vote yesterday where the evil villainess, Senator Clinton, voted like she always said she was going to vote- for Constitutional principle.  And Senator Obama, that evil of two lessers, did not.  Nope, he was OK with George Bush listening in on our cell phones and peering into our email.  That’s all cool and groovy for Obama.

So, what to make of this inversion?  Markos said that Clinton appears to be finished triangulating and that’s good because triangulation is bad.  And Barack Obama is triangulating because he needs to win.  And this is also good.  Because he needs to win.  Wrapping his head around this must be tiring because it is making Markos cranky:

Like all retreats, this one came with a price. Much of his veneer as a transformational politician has faded. He’s a gifted and inspirational politician, no doubt about that, and he will make a great president. But at the end of the day, he’s a politician, with all the triangulating goodness that’s become a hallmark of our presidential candidates. That has cost him some intensity of support, some bad headlines, a new avenue of attack for Republicans (even though McCain didn’t even bother showing up for the vote), and … renewed energy and sense of purpose for the ridiculous PUMAs. That last one is really fucking annoying.

I have no idea why Markos is giving us attention on his world’s biggest political billboard but, hey, whatever works.  Make some noise for us, Kos.

Update: I am watching Bush sign the FISA bill and he is thanking the members of the House and Senate, including Steny Hoyer, Jay Rockefeller, Silvestre Reyes … and “other supporters of this legislation”.  Oooo, isn’t that nice?  Bush is thanking Barack Obama for helping him fight terrism.  Wow!  When they said that Obama would have an historic candidacy, they sure weren’t kidding.  He and Bush will go down in history for this day, the day the fourth amendment took a body blow.  I hope Markos isn’t too annoyed.


Monday: Hits and Misses

There are a couple of posts around the web that got my attention last night. You might have already seen some of them. We have a few hits and a few misses. One is tempted to say, “I told you so” to the middle one but it probably wouldn’t do any good. {{sigh}}

  • Rebecca Traister kind of misses in her Salon piece Why Clinton Voters Say They Won’t Support Obama. The biggest miss is that she assumes that Hillary lost. We don’t believe there was any reason for Hillary to lose. The problem is that the process was flawed, the game was rigged and the superdelegate system failed to give us the stronger candidate. The superdelegates could still give the nomination to Clinton. If FL and MI are counted in full, the delegate count narrows to less than 100 and is statistically insignificant. For whatever reason, supers are not inclined to do this but there is still time for them to change their minds. What we need is a fair and transparent convention. With the DNC unable to pay its convention bills, we can hope they will come around in time to realizing that behaving badly will not open the money spigots. But she’s also totally clueless about whether we’ll come around in November. She thinks we’ll come crawling back because we have no where else to go. It’s all about reproductive freedom. Ok, we went over this last week in The Roe Ruse. The SCOTUS already has enough justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and this will not change unless one of the conservative justices quit, which will be like… never. Anyway, the real issues revolve around business, commerce and civil liberties and we have already seen what Obama feels about privacy in his FISA position. So, please, trust us Rebecca, we’re not coming back. Really.
  • Regarding Obama and FISA, Big Tent Democrat tries to make sense of it John Cole’s mysterious poker metaphor in On FISA, The Media and Poker while Hunter at the Big Orange Cheeto finally has a “Soylent Green is People!” epiphany in Even Barack Obama Thinks You’re Stupid. (Sorry, no link, we’re honoring the strike) Yes, Hunter finally wakes up and smells the coffee. Except, in Hunter’s case, I don’t believe he ever bought the Unity Pony shtick in the first place. He went along to get along. It wasn’t that he loved Obama so much as he absolutely couldn’t stand Hillary for reasons that are probably still a mystery, even to himself. But I suspect it goes something like this: the Kossack buzz words were carefully played, first by Joe Trippi and then by David Axelrod. Oh, yeah, she was an establishment corporate toadying, lobbyist money sucking harlot of the first degree. And she liiiiiiiiiies. But the final straw was that damn Kyl-Lieberman amendment thingy that was a symbolic, no-committment vote that whipped Kossacks into a shrieking, hysterical frenzy and one she no doubt probably felt she had to vote for in order to establish her national security creds. (Do we have a vote for that for Obama? No, we do not. How conveeeenient.) And now, Obama goes out of his way to vote for FISA for I suspect the same reasons that Clinton chose to vote for Kyl-Lieberman: he needs national security creds. So what if it’s your civil liberties in jeopardy? Isn’t winning important to Kossacks? This is apparently where Hunter draws the line, like all the other $&*( Obama campaign pulled during the primary season wasn’t enough. As if using the term ‘racism’ as a weapon against half of the Democratic base wasn’t sufficient reason to be completely disgusted with the arrogant lightweight. I’d say it was better late than never but frankly, as much as Hunter loathes him now, he’s probably going to still vote for him because I’m betting he still thinks Hillary would have been worse. No need to ask for proof of this. Psychological conditioning is complete.
  • Finally, Anglachel gathers up some of Bob Somerby’s recent posts on the death and glorification of Tim Russert, aka Pumpkinhead, in The Heart of Their Culture. I have to admit that I only recently started to notice the Irish Catholic Parochial School Graduate phenomenon at MSNBC. It was pretty clear with Maureen Dowd though. It’s not so much the prudery or the prosecutorial manner in which the MICs do their jobs at MSNBC as much as the obedience and devotion to it. Somerby touches on the intersection of Jack Welch and the MICs only tangentially but they are actually quite harmonious. The rank and yank system that Welch created a way to promote the aggressive employees who excel from the losers who need to be cut free depends on pleasing the person who will ultimately rank you. It encourages slavish devotion and obedience and there’s no better training for that than with the Sisters who subscribe to group punishment and zero tolerance. It makes perfect sense. (And lay off the pearl clutching over the MIC label. My Dad was from a MIC family and they never shied away from the label. Anyways, they always told me that there was a gun in the basement of Saint Joe’s church with my name on it and any time I was ready to join the IRA, I was welcome to it. I’m kidding!, Kidding)

Sunday: The Freeper Infestation

A couple of years ago, Bob Altemeyer of the Univerity of Manitoba wrote an online book based on his 40 years of psychological research into the mind of authoritarians.  He didn’t think the book had any commercial value so he offered it for free  on his website under the title, The Authoritarians.  John Dean cited Altemeyer’s work in his book Conservatives Without Conscience.  I highly recommend both books but if you have to start somewhere, try Altemeyer’s book.  It’s based on a lot of research but it is written in a highly accessible conversational style and is chock full of fascinating details about what makes these people tick.

I only bring this up because Obama’s position on the FISA debate has brought out something deeply disturbing in his followers.  Obama says he will support the House compromise but not necessarily Telecomm immunity.  (I have my own thoughts about this but I’ll get to that in a minute.)  Glenn Greenwald has a scathing post about Obama’s capitulation but what Glenn says about Obama’s followers is even more severe.  From Greenwald’s Obama’s Support for the FISA Compromise, Glenn has this to say:

The excuse that Obama’s support for this bill is politically shrewd is — even if accurate — neither a defense of what he did nor a reason to refrain from loudly criticizing him for it. Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s precisely because Obama is calculating that he can — without real consequence — trample upon the political values of those who believe in the Constitution and the rule of law that it’s necessary to do what one can to change that calculus. Telling Obama that you’ll cheer for him no matter what he does, that you’ll vest in him Blind Faith that anything he does is done with the purest of motives, ensures that he will continue to ignore you and your political interests.

Beyond that, this attitude that we should uncritically support Obama in everything he does and refrain from criticizing him is unhealthy in the extreme. No political leader merits uncritical devotion — neither when they are running for office nor when they occupy it — and there are few things more dangerous than announcing that you so deeply believe in the Core Goodness of a political leader, or that we face such extreme political crises that you trust and support whatever your Leader does, even when you don’t understand it or think that it’s wrong. That’s precisely the warped authoritarian mindset that defined the Bush Movement and led to the insanity of the post-9/11 Era, and that uncritical reverence is no more attractive or healthy when it’s shifted to a new Leader.

The excuse that we must sit by quietly and allow him to do these things with no opposition so that he can win is itself a corrupted and self-destructive mentality. That mindset has no end. Once he’s elected, it will transform into: “It’s vital that Obama keeps his majority in Congress so you have to keep quiet until after the 2010 midterms,” after which it will be: “It’s vital that Obama is re-elected so you have to keep quiet until after 2012,” at which point the process will repeat itself from the first step. Quite plainly, those are excuses to justify mindless devotion, not genuine political strategies.

I recommend the whole piece.  Greenwald is brilliant when it comes to constitutional issues.  But what I think he touches on here is what some of us witnessed in the very early manifestation of Obama mania for brutal suppression of dissent and unquestioning loyalty towards the Obama personality that is reminiscent of the early Bush years.  And I think the reason we are seeing this is because some of the Freepers and Little Green Football fanatics moved to the Democratic party.  Whether this was due to some Rovian design or whether it was the inevitable migration of an evolving demographic is unclear to me.  I picture these new Democrats as the same type of people who ran Enron like they did in the documentary, The Smartest Guys in the Room.  They seem to share many of the same characteristics.  They are like salesmen with testosterone poisoning, ultracompetitive and not particularly wedded to one political philosophy or another.  The party power structures exist to them as a means to acquiring what they want, whether it is deregulated markets or wealth or unfettered liberty.

Some Obama followers, not all, are the double high kind of authoritarians that Altemeyer talks about.  They are both vulnerable to authoritarian indoctrination while at the same time, perfectly capable of manipulating the system and individuals for their own personal gain.  This is who has taken over the Democratic party.  For those of you who still believe that is OK to straddle the fence and be both supportive of the party but object to the way that Obama has managed to comandeer the party mechanisms for his own advantage, I would strongly caution you that this is not the case.  If you do not now take a stand and push back with all your might, you will not have a party that will represent you in the future.  Obama and his handlers are not benevolent despots.  And this is not an insurmountable situation.  You have the power, now, and in the worst case scenario, at election time, to make a difference.  As Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

PUMAs can not do nothing.

Now, I don’t know about you but I have my own criteria as to what would have been the correct response to the FISA debacle.  If I were King of the Forest, I would make sure that our constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties were protected.  The proposed bill would have to be structured in such a way that new surveillance techniques would not infringe upon them.  As for telecom immunity, I’m a more practical individual.  There is a lot of room here for negotiation.  The power is in the hands of Congress to compel the telecomms to compromise on more market competition.  If we punish the telecomms with class action lawsuits, the only people who will benefit will be the lawyers.  The average customer will not likely see a big payoff.  What are you going to get?  A check for a $100 or a credit for your next month’s phone bill?  You, I and the fencepost know this is the all too typical result.  BUT, what if you could force the telecomms to allow ala carte programming on your cable system or infrastructure improvements or mandatory guidelines for better customer service?  What if you could forbid big telecomms from bidding on newly available radio spectra or force them to open their networks to your favorite cellphone?  Wouldn’t this be better than decimating them and sending potentially thousands of their workers to the unemployment lines?  And so what if some of them *did* take a hit?  Wouldn’t their workers benefit from the increased competition as well by having more new start up companies to work for?

Just sayin’

(If you want to know what Hillary has to say about FISA, here are her last statements I could find on the subject from back in February, 2008.  In summary, she co-sponsored Dodd’s bill and says she will support a filibuster if the bill that comes before her infringes on a citizen’s right to privacy and civil liberties.  This, more than preventing retroactive telecomm immunity, is the correct stance.)

Denver asks Obama-nation to pay convention tab

Yesterday the Rocky Mountain News asked Senator Obama to “take Denver off the hook” and cover the 11 million shortfall in fund-raising for Denver’s share of expenses for the Democratic Convention.

Make the calls to your donors, Sen. Obama. Send the e-mails. Denver should no longer be on the hook for Democratic National Convention expenses. A few exhortations to your supporters could quickly retire the city’s remaining obligations.

After all, Denver is simply providing the venue for Barack Obama’s nomination. It’s his party. It’s only appropriate to ask his contributors to ensure that the celebration is a rousing success.

Continue reading

Late Afternoon Developments- Holding Pattern

My curiosity has been piqued by the following interesting developments:

  • Admiral “Fox” Fallon is retiring. Yep, the guy who referred to General Petraeus as “an @$$-kissing, little chicken$hit” is calling it quits. Fallon was the last surviving top military honcho to stand between Dick Cheney and his Iran bombing Viagra. As Jane at FDL points out, retiring means he is free to spill the beans.
  • Eliot Spitzer is not resigning today. He may not resign tomorrow. It is unknown when he will resign. Except that the Republicans in the NY State legislature printed the Articles of Impeachment sometime back in January and it would be a shame to waste them. So, it appears that he may be trying to work out a deal to avoid indictment on some of the charges before he beats a hasty retreat. Oh, and apparently, his NY cheesecake was not cool with Silda.
  • John Boehner is threatening to close up the House if the president and the telecomms don’t get their way with FISA. There is a deal in the works to not give them blanket immunity but instead bring each infraction before a federal judge to determine whether there is a state secret involved. BUT we forget that Republicans have been in charge of nominating federal judges for the past 28 out of 40 years so what are the chances?
  • Pelosi scuttles any chance of a joint Clinton-Obama, Obam-Clinton ticket. Whew! That’s a relief. I guess she knows firsthand what it’s like to be the first female leader in her organization who has a male second in command forced on her who ignores her every word. Well, we’ll see, Nancy. It’s likely you won’t have any say in *this* matter either.

Guys, I don’t have to remind you that 3 out of the 4 items up above are a direct result of Republican skullduggery. They are nasty pieces of work who will scheme right up to the last minute when they are escorted off the premises and just before they leave, someone will give the signal to type “rm *” at the sys admin console while logged in as root at /. (I’ll bet the unix geeks just got a shivver from that)

In the meantime, item 4 shows how much we have let our guard down with respect to the Bushies while Obama has accused Clinton of being the Grand Master of the Chapaqua Branch of the KKK and the Obamaphiles are flipping out over the fact that Hillary says McCain has more national security creds than Barry. And what about the FL and MI delegates, guys? Could you please wrap it up so we can get onto keeping the barbarians from making any further incursions until we can send reinforcements?

Priorities, people!

Web Roundup

roundup.jpgHere are some tasty links that should keep you until dinner:

FISA Unintended Consequences

FISA and businesThis past year, my PC at work has gotten slower. Muuucccchhh Slllooowwwerrr. It started happening when new firewalls went up. Then there were new encryption applications applied to all of the disks. Then there were severe restrictions placed on the size of data transfer. It went from gigabytes to tens of megabytes. Last week, my PC was migrated to a domain behind one of the new secure firewalls. One of my first attempts to download a patch for one of my department’s applications went from seconds to 22 minutes. The patch was 11 mb.

This was part of a new security initiative. Now, it could be that my company, notorious for over the top IT domination, was just doing what comes naturally. But it is also an international company with many European sites. We all share information between these sites. The information we share is literally worth *billions* of dollars. That’s Billions with a B. It can’t be understated. If there is a bad guy, ie, industrial spy out there listening to our transmissions, that bad guy could sell the stuff he intercepts to our competition and put us at a competitive disadvantage for decades.

What if that bad guy is our own government? Ha-ha-ha!, you laugh. GB is letting her paranoia get the best of her again. I’m serious. Does anyone doubt that the Bushies are capable of such iniquity? My company is based in a European country. The US facility is simply a branch. According to the way Bush has circumvented FISA, he’s had the ability to monitor every transmission we make over the internet and regular phone lines since 2001. Every patentable, proprietary discovery at all companies like mine has been in the hands of his droogs at the NSA for 7 years. He could sell this information to the highest bidder for campaign contributions or whatever. It could be used to extort cooperation. In short, it’s a fricking gold mine for anyone who has access to it. Now, I’m not saying the Bushies did it but would anyone really be shocked?

So, now, I’ve been told that I can no longer rsync information containing gigabytes of information over the net. If I need to transfer something, it will have to be copied onto CD’s or DVD’s and hand carried across the ocean on a plane. People don’t send CD’s like this by themselves in the mail. It’s going to have to wait for someone on a business trip to do the transfer. What might have taken minutes or hours will now take days and weeks.

Russ Feingold makes a good point about his phone transmissions. Everyone you call is vulnerable not just the people overseas. If your kid makes a stupid call about acquiring a joint from a friend, there’s a distinct possibility that the call could be intercepted leading to legal consequences and, poof!, there go the government backed student loans you needed for college. Your hidden lust for gay porn at home could be exposed to your church group or employer. Those saucy emails you’ve been sending to your wife’s best friend? The NSA’s been reading them with great intensity. Feingold points to the overseas transmissions but if the government thought they could get something on you, they’d come up with an excuse to eavesdrop.

Meanwhile, the slowing up at work continues with unintended consequences. In all of the migrations, I’ve lost some of my email with attachments as I scrambled to meet the new security measures before I was whisked to a new compartment between me and my colleages.

Progress marches backwards.

Here’s Feingold’s FISA in 30 seconds. Pass it around…