Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What do I have against President Obama?

I don't usually like making posts that are almost exclusively links to outside content, but I'm repeatedly seeing Obama supporters ask this question, so I think it'll be useful to link to this post rather than repeatedly copy/pasting the same response, over and over. This post won't be static. I'll likely be updating sources and whatnot as time passes.


What do I have against President Obama? I have a problem with a guy:

 Who has been terrorizing and slaughtering citizens in Yemen and Pakistan, and has declared the right to assassinate Americans without so much as charging them with crimes
A quick overview of Obama's Drone War

Who killed the public option, and gave us a healthcare bill written by insurance industry lobbyists
Should progressives really be celebrating the survival of the Affordable Care Act?

Who's refused to prosecute Wall St executives for crimes they committed...
Heist of the century: Wall Street's role in the financial crisis

 ...yet intentionally deceived the public into thinking they didn't really break the law
  "Zero Accountability": Glenn Greenwald on Obama’s Refusal to Prosecute Wall Street Crimes (skip ahead to 43:19)

Who vetoed a deal proposed by the Bush Administration to allow citizens to write down mortgage debt as part of the bailout package
Barney Frank: Obama Rejected Bush Administration Concession to Write Down Mortgages

Who refused to prosecute George W. Bush for felony wiretapping, but ruthlessly continued the prosecution of the whistle-blower that exposed the crime
Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state?

Who has prosecuted more whistle-blowers than every other President combined
Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers

 Who is attempting to win the right to arrest and detain American citizens without giving them access to courts to defend themselves
Federal court enjoins NDAA

Who is willing to cut entitlements...
Rep. Conyers: Obama Demanded Social Security Cuts--Not GOP

 ...without bothering to cut any grossly wasteful intelligence spending
Washington Post Special Project: Top Secret America

It boggles the mind that his supporters can ignore all of this, because of tepid support for gay rights, some funding for radio and TV stations, and funding for planned parenthood, which I guess the Democrats wouldn't have fought for if they didn't win the White House?

Friday, November 09, 2012


The G.O.P. sat there, wondering if it should have just done this over e-mail. No, it's better than that. This was a long relationship; it had to be done in person.

"It's not you, it's us. We're in a different place now, We've grown as a people, we have needs that this relationship isn't fulfilling. We have goals that, frankly, this relationship is holding us back from..."

The xenophobe sat there, eyes red and soaked, torn between rage and heartbreak, scarcely believing what it was hearing.

The G.O.P. continued, "hey, at least they're Christians, right? Maybe, after some time passes, we can all get together. I actually think you all would get along pretty..."

Fueled by jealousy, rage won out. "GET ALONG WITH SOME GOD #&*%&# ILLEGALS??", the xenophobe shrieked.

The G.O.P. stood up, feigning disgust. "See, this is exactly what we were talking about. It's 'undocumented', not 'illegal'. You need to grow up, get with the times... Goodbye, Xenophobe".

Hannity: I've 'evolved' on immigration and support a 'pathway to citizenship'

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Could Romney have single-handedly destroyed the left with Supreme Court picks?

In this past election, I had been pushing people to vote for third-party candidates that actually supported their ideals, rather than Romney and Obama, as their legislative records contradicted the messaging they were campaigning on. I had especially been focusing on Obama, since my own politics skew to the left, and a majority of my friends lean left. I had been pointing out how, on just about every major issue they care about, Obama has either betrayed his base, or pretty meekly supported it. I've discussed two examples in this blog here and here.

A pretty common response I've gotten to this is in regards to Supreme Court picks. I was told that, despite all of Obama's betrayals, it was still imperative to vote for him, because allowing Romney to have those picks would have been devastating for progressive politics. Here's a good example:

Conservative Scholars Bullish That A Romney Supreme Court Could Reverse Longstanding Liberal Jurisprudence

A potential Mitt Romney presidency carries huge implications for the Supreme Court that have conservatives excited and progressives fearful about the future. Liberal-leaning Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, and Steven Breyer, 74, are likely candidates for retirement during a Romney administration. The GOP nominee has vowed to appoint staunch conservatives, and the influential conservative legal community will make sure he follows through. Replacing even one of the liberal justices with a conservative, legal scholars and advocates across the ideological spectrum agree, would position conservatives to scale back the social safety net and abortion rights in the near term.

 Over time, if a robust five-vote conservative bloc prevails on the court for years, the right would have the potential opportunity to reverse nearly a century of progressive jurisprudence. For all those reasons, conservative legal activists anticipate that a Romney win would be the culmination of their decades-long project to remake the country’s legal architecture.(...) a Romney presidency — even a one-term presidency — would pose a slow-release threat to key progressive accomplishments, and why small-government conservatives view his candidacy as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Why it is essential that Barack Obama be reelected

[That clip] explains the situation perfectly....The idea of wiping out all the progress made in over a lifetime of legislation and rulings... a veritable coup d'etat by the most reactionary elements in America, is truly too horrible to contemplate

Like most arguments designed to scare people into voting for the lesser-evil, this one overlooks some pretty important facts about our political process and history. Here are five reasons why I wasn't terrified by the idea of Romney nominating Supreme Court judges:

1) From "The progressive case against Obama"

In terms of the Supreme Court itself, Obama’s track record is not actually that good. As a senator, Obama publicly chided liberals for demanding that Sen. Patrick Leahy block Sam Alito from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has in her career already ruled to limit access to abortion, and Elena Kagan’s stance is not yet clear. Arguing that Romney justices would overturn Roe v. Wade is a concession that Senate Democrats, as they did with Alito and Roberts, would allow an anti-choice justice through the Senate.

Further, given Obama's absolutely horrendous record on civil liberties, the rule of law, and executive power, I wasn't exactly comfortable with the prospect of him nominating judges either; the assumption that his nominations are guaranteed to be strong progressive choices is tenuous. Just as in other areas, Romney's likely worse, but not so much worse that we should have been obligated to vote against him for Obama.

2) Obama's healthcare bill survived its Supreme Court challenge because Bush nominated, conservative, Chief Justice John Roberts made a last minute switch in positions to allow the law to survive. He did because he does care about the integrity of the Supreme Court, and does not want it to be perceived as yet another political entity. This should give us some confidence in the court, regardless of who's doing future nominations.

3) The President doesn't appoint judges, the President nominates judges. Congress still has to approve these judges, and if we can't trust the Democrats to properly vet and block judges, our system's broken.

4) The Supreme Court only hears a limited number of cases every year. Compared to the vast amount of legislation that gets passed every year, and how instantly and immensely impacted we are by Federal legislation, we should be much, much more concerned about the conduct of Democrats in Congress than we are about the conduct of the Supreme Court. Voting for Obama, in spite of his betrayals, only encourages bad conduct.

5) This talk, given by former executive director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser, at the 2011 Drug Policy Alliance conference.

It discusses the "long arc of social justice", how reform happens gradually, but inevitably, and in spite of terrible setbacks. In the talk he mentions some absolutely atrocious Supreme Court decisions that affirmed slavery, that kept women out of the workplace, etc etc. It's easy to think of Supreme Court decisions as insurmountable, but that isn't the case; reform movements have overcome bad decisions in the past, and will do so in the future.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A quick overview of Obama's Drone War

Updated Below

With the election one week away, the bases of both major parties are fired up, lambasting the "other team's" candidate while ignoring the gross flaws in their own preferred candidate. In this environment, mentioning civilian deaths from Obama's drone wars to an enthusiastic Democratic voter is often met with shrug, "war is ugly".

These voters don't quite understand just how horrendous Obama's drone strike policy is. If people imagined the government bombing U.S. malls at random, killing LOTS of innocents, because they *think* a criminal might be in the mall, they'd have a better appreciation of what's happening.

Not only is the U.S. not verifying their intelligence before they target an area for a drone strike, often they simply attack "patterns of movement"; movement by individuals that they think might be terrorist related, without knowing who they're actually bombing. The Obama administration has also adopted the terrorist technique dubbed "double tap" bombings, where they target rescue workers that show up to a scene of a bombing. This has forced humanitarian organizations, like the Red Cross, to prohibit their staff from attending to the victims of a bombing until several hours have passed. They have also targeted the funerals of victims of these bombings, killing even more civilians in the process. These strikes are resulting in massive amounts of civilian casualties, all  for the sake of trying to get "mid-level" terrorists. The United Nations is currently investigating these strikes, and have suggested they might amount to war-crimes. Official U.S. accounts of civilian casualties have grossly under-counted civilian deaths, because of the Administration's shocking definition of "militant": any male adult. The dead most be proven to have been civilians after their deaths. Stephen Colbert has highlighted this on his show:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Two Birds With One Drone
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

The civilian population in Pakistan and Yemen, that hear these drones constantly overhead, are absolutely terrified, and it's crippled their ability to live their day to day lives. Between the fear, and the constant news of family and neighbors being killed in these strikes, anti-American sentiment has spiked in these regions, and terrorist recruitment is way up. Obama is likely creating more terrorists than he's killing with this policy.

More about civilian terror over the drones can be found in this Democracy Now segment:
Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians

and also this New York Times editorial from a Yemeni activist:
How Drones Help Al Qaeda

In Yemen, President Obama is responsible for a bombing that killed 26 innocent women and children in a single strike, and convinced the Yemeni government to take the blame for it. This was exposed by a Yemeni reporter, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who was subsequently imprisoned for his reporting. When public pressure forced the Yemeni  Government to set him free,  President Obama personally intervened and demanded to that reporter remain behind bars for exposing the U.S's role in those killings. Details about this can be found in this Democracy Now segment: Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?

Even worse, from a domestic rule of law standpoint, President Obama has declared the ability to assassinate American citizens without so much as a trial, (never mind a conviction and sentencing).  His drone strikes have also killed a 16 year old American teen whom no one suggests was ever involved in terrorism, and the administration refuses to answer for the killing. See this Young Turks segment on the killing:

See how President Obama's campaign adviser has justified this teen's death:

Obama Adviser Robert Gibbs Blames Denver Teen’s ‘Terrorist’ Father for His Drone Death

The secret "kill list", which determines the targets of these strikes, has been made a permanent feature of the Presidency by Obama. Who ever wins the White House will inherit the kill list and the infrastructure around it. President Obama has given future Republican Presidents both the infrastructure and the legal and political precedent to continue the slaughter.

In short, President Obama has been terrorizing and slaughtering civilians in Yemen and Pakistan, increasing anti-American sentiment and terrorist recruitment, while also claiming the power to play "judge, jury, and executioner" by ordering American citizens to be assassinated without bothering to so much as name the crimes they've committed, let alone prove their guilt to the courts. This isn't an issue that should be shrugged off. Obama voters need to be aware of what, exactly, they're supporting when they vote for him next week.

Update 02/07/2013

This week NBC news uncovered a White House legal document that details, what it believes to be, it's "legal" justification for assassinating American citizens, anywhere, without so much as charging them with a crime. Today, President Obama is attempting to have one of the main architects of this program, John Brennan, confirmed as the new head of the C.I.A. I've posted an excellent segment by Rachel Maddow that details Brennan's role in President Bush's illegal torture program, and how he has since been braced by President Obama to lead his assassination program.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, September 07, 2012

Seeking Truth From Power

A gay veteran and a local news reporter confront Romney and Obama (in separate events) about things they'd rather not talk about. Both Romney and Obama blow the questions off, and both implicate themselves in their steadfast refusal to discuss the issues.

Gay veteran talks to Mitt Romney over whether he supports the repeal of the New Hampshire same-sex marriage law

A local TV reporter in Cincinnati, Ben Swann challenges Obama on how it is that he believes he has the right to order even American citizens assassinated without due process
(This video's app is poorly designed. The play button on the center of the screen doesn't work, you have to hit the one next to the progress bar, on the bottom of the vid. It appears when you mouse-over)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Should progressives really be celebrating the survival of the Affordable Care Act?

Updated Below

Seeing the survival the healthcare bill hailed as a progressive victory is interesting. Progressives are celebrating the fact that we're now forced to be the customers of these "evil and greedy" insurance companies. During the Clinton administration, when he was pushing for a true public option, the conservative alternative was essentially President Obama's plan: a national health insurance mandate. This is yet another example how successful the G.O.P. has been at shifting American politics, as a whole, to the right. This is entirely due to the fact that liberal/progressive voters will vote for Democrats no matter how bad they betray their base. In the legislative battle over this law, not only did President Obama lie to the public about fighting for the public option, Congressional Democrats decided not to attempt to get it, when it was within reach. The Democrats killed the public option.
Rachel Maddow covered this in depth right before the bill was passed. See this segment:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Also check out Glenn Greenwald's post about how President Obama secretly negotiated away the public option before lying to the public about trying to keep it in the bill:
the White House had negotiated away the public option very early in the process (July, 2009), even though Obama and the administration spent months after that assuring their supporters that they were doing everything they could do have a public option in the bill
Read the rest here: Truth about the public option momentarily emerges, quickly scampers back into hiding

Update 7/7/2012:
This should have been included in the original post. President Obama hired a healthcare industry lobbyist, Liz Fowler, to help draft and later implement his healthcare reform bill:

[Implementation] of the massive healthcare bill just enacted by the Congress will be overseen by a former high-level executive of the nation’s largest private health insurer.

As Marcy Wheeler writes: ”It’s a nice trick: send your VP to write a law mandating that the middle class buy shitty products like yours, then watch that VP move into the executive branch to ‘oversee’ the implementation of the law.” Indeed, Fowler played a crucial role in shaping the healthcare bill to ensure there was no public option and to compel every single American to purchase the products of the private healthcare industry (including those of her former employer).

As Politico put it last year: ”If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate healthcare negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer.” It was Fowler who was literally writing the healthcare bills for Baucus which, at least at the time, progressives found so objectionable.

Fowler is the very embodiment of the sleazy Revolving Door and lobbyist-dominated politics which candidate Barack Obama endlessly vowed to subvert
Check out the rest of the post here: The revolving door spins faster on healthcare reform

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why does Talk Left take Zimmerman at his word?

**Update 6/25/2013**
I just realized I linked to the wrong Talk Left Post. I accidentally linked to Zimmerman: The Discovery and the Witnesses, when I had meant to link to George Zimmerman: The Most Likely Scenario. This is corrected in the post below.

A few weeks ago, defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt of the liberal legal blog, TalkLeft, presented what she thought was "the most likely scenario" in the Trayvon Martin killing:

George Zimmerman: The Most Likely Scenario

For the most part, it's a great, informative post. But in the midsts of her analysis, she makes a few assumptions about the case that aren't supported by the evidence, and appear pretty biased against Trayvon Martin. Merritt:

GZ did not have TM in sight when the dispatcher told him they didn't need him to follow TM. He responded OK. He didn't follow him after that. He didn't know where Trayvon was. He continued walking towards the front of the Retreat View Circle, where the first house is 2861, home to W-13 and W-12. He then turned around to walk back to his car. He just passed the T and the pet waste can when Travyon came up on his left. After a few brief vocal exchanges, which even according to Dee Dee were initiated by Trayvon, GZ got punched and fell down. This may have been at the T or in the grass right off the T, in the backyard of W-11 and W-20. After getting his nose broken is most likely when the sounds turned into cries and wails for help -- by George Zimmerman.

Merritt's assuming Martin was the one who confronted Zimmerman at point T on the map. Why? No witnesses saw this, and it seems to contradict Martin’s girlfriend’s testimony. She was on the phone with Martin immediately before the fight, was told by Martin that Zimmerman had spotted him, and that he was going to "walk fast", rather than run away.

It also contradicts the dynamics of the situation as we understand it, from the 911 calls. Zimmerman was following Martin in his truck as Martin was walking down the street. Martin ran away from Zimmerman, who got out of his car and ran after Martin. While he's running after Martin, he mutters, “these punks always get away”. (This statement, by the way, is going to be used by the prosecution to demonstrate a depraved state of mind, which is necessary for the murder charge). Why is Merritt so quick to believe Martin, who was running away from Zimmerman, decided to double back and jump Zimmerman?

Merritt believes the fight started at point T on the map, and ended up at point X (see the map at the top of this post). That’s about what, 40 feet? How, exactly, did that distance get covered? Here's Zimmerman's account of the situation:

Zimmerman told police that the struggle began when Martin "jumped out from the bushes" and punched him in the face, knocking him down.

"I started screaming for help. I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe," he said.

"He grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk," he said. "When he started doing that, I slid into the grass to try to get out from under him. ... I'm still yelling for help."

Martin, he said, put his hand over Zimmerman's mouth and nose and told him, "You're going to die tonight."

"When I slid, my jacket and my shirt came up. ... I felt his hand go down my side, and I thought he was going for my firearm, so I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him."

Zimmerman says that he was sucker punched and knocked down at point T, was completely unable to get out from under Martin, and ended up shooting Martin shortly thereafter. If we believe Zimmerman's testimony, Martin's body should have been discovered at point T, not 40 feet away at point X. The evidence simply doesn't match his story. It's worth noting that one of the homicide investigators, that questioned Zimmerman, informed him that he had received an anonymous phone call, "from somebody who gave a different version of events ... more along the lines that you tried to detain him," and recounted an argument prior to the shooting.

The alternative situation, as described by Martin’s girlfriend, better fits the facts. Trayvon was hiding out, and then was spotted by Zimmerman on his way back to his truck. Martin’s girlfriend begs him to run, but he says he’s just going to “walk fast” (which only makes sense if he’s walking fast away from Zimmerman). Zimmerman runs after Martin and confronts him at X, where the shooting occurs.

In this situation:

- The original dynamics stay the same. Zimmerman is pursuing Martin through out.

- We don’t have to account for how the shooting took place some 40 feet away from where Merritt assumes the altercation started.

- There’s no contradiction here between Martin’s girlfriend’s testimony and anything reported by the witnesses Merritt considers "useful".

Later in the her post, Merritt makes a pretty astounding statement:

The state is unlikely to prevail in arguing Zimmerman was the aggressor because to be the aggressor, Zimmerman had to contemporaneously provoke the force Martin used against him.Zimmerman's profiling of Martin and call to the non-emergency number were not contemporaneous with Martin's attack. Even if the state could convince a judge or jury that Zimmerman was following Martin, rather than walking back to his car, rendering his pursuit a contemporaneous act, it is not an act that provokes Martin's use of force against him. Demanding someone account for their presence does not provoke the use of force.

Merritt would have us believe that, at worst, Zimmerman merely followed Martin and asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood. Is that really all Zimmerman did?

According to the 911 tapes, Zimmerman was slowly following Martin in his vehicle, at night, and neglected to identify himself when Martin approached to check him out. When Martin runs away, Zimmerman runs after him through the dark neighborhood. Given the facts I discussed above, it also appears Zimmerman approached Martin when he spotted him again, after Martin had been hiding from him.

If I believed I was being stalked by a stranger, ran away, and saw my assumed stalker chase me through a dark neighborhood, it would be completely reasonable for me to assume my pursuer intends to harm me. Zimmerman's actions were clearly aggressive, and Trayvon Martin had every reason to believe he was in imminent danger of bodily harm, especially if he spotted Zimmerman's gun.


I have no idea why Merritt made the assumptions she did. My best guess is, because of her background as a defense attorney, she’s looking at the case as if she were the one representing Zimmerman, and that’s what’s coloring her analysis. Perhaps she wrote up something that she would have presented to the court in Zimmerman's defense, rather than an objective analysis of the facts.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why is Nader blamed for Bush's presidency?

Another Presidential election is headed our way, and anyone advocating for people to vote third-party over Obama is likely to hear something like the following:

What did voting for Nader in 2000 gain our nation? We got eight years of one of the worst presidents in history and rather than basking in the glow of progress and abundance our leaders are still occupying themselves with cleaning up the mess.

People have awfully selective memories. After all, it was the Democrats that

- overwhelmingly voted for the Iraq war

- overwhelmingly voted for the Patriot Act

- refused to rebuke the President for deceiving the public into supporting the war

- refused to so much as censure the President for blatantly breaking the law (illegally wiretapping)

During Bush's second term in office, the Democrats won control of both houses of Congress. One would assume that would have halted Bush's abuses, yet it was the Democratically controlled congress that:

- continued to fund the war through an abused process stuffed with pork-spending

- condemned (censured) for criticizing deceptive comments issued by General Petraeus

- refused to hold the President accountable for intentionally deceiving the public into supporting its war initiatives

- gave the Executive Branch de-facto authority to spy on any American citizen it wishes to spy on

If we're going to blame anyone other the Bush administration for the worst of his abuses, we should be blaming the Democrats. Why the Democrats voted the way they did is an interesting discussion in and of itself, and has much to do with why I'm so adament that people refrain from voting for Obama in the upcoming election. More on that to come.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I don't understand the birth control mandate

A recent CBS/New York Times poll reports that 66% of their respondents support "a recent federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female patients?" Why?

I assume they'd argue that there are considerable public health and/or societal benefits to providing free access to birth control. I agree. But is this mandate really providing free access?

After all, this mandate is forcing for profit insurance companies to cover the full cost of birth control for their customers. Does anyone seriously believe that these companies are going to eat the costs of these contraceptives for the sake of the public? Remember, these are the guys that dropped & denied people with pre-existing conditions from their plans, to maintain their profit margins. Do we suddenly think they're going to want to subsidize birth control for their customers? More likely, they're just going to raise their premiums to make up for this new cost. If you pay for your insurance all on your own, your rates are going up, and you're still paying for your contraceptives.

What if your health insurance is subsidized by your employer? Do you get a break then? Well, once the insurance company raises its rates, your employer has to deal with the costs. Does anyone seriously believe employers are going to eat the costs? I'm guessing their going to find a way to pass the costs on to us, either by raising our required contributions to our healthcare plans, or by managing the compensation they give to their employees (i.e. hire less people, hire people at a lower rate/salary, reduce the amount of money they set aside for the following year's raises, etc.).

At the end of the day, the money's still coming out of our pockets. But that certainly won't stop politicians from taking credit for legislating "free birth-control" into existence, and duping a large portion of their electorate to praise them for it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

PolitiFact rules ACLU claims: Mostly False?

Last month, Glenn Greenwald wrote a post criticizing W. Gardner Selby's Politifact analysis of one of Ron Paul's recent statements:

PolitiFact and the scam of neutral expertise

Greenwald pointed to Selby's work as, yet another, example of politically biased sources being cited as "neutral experts". From the blog post:

But the real import of PolitiFact‘s analysis is that it relies entirely on two supposedly neutral legal “experts”: The Brooking Institution’s Benjamin Wittes and University of Texas Law School’s Robert Chesney, both of whom co-founded and write together on the “Lawfare” blog (along with former Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith). That duo mocks as “nonsense” and “preposterous” Paul’s view that these new AUMF standards vest the President with dangerous levels of discretion. They ridicule Paul’s concerns even as Chesney admits that “Paul fairly points out the lack of a definition of associated forces.” PolitiFact then blindly relies upon what these two experts told them to declare Paul’s concerns to be “largely false.”

Just on the level of credentials, in what sense is Wittes — who, just by the way, is not a lawyer and never studied law — more of an expert on these matters than, say, Ron Paul or Kevin Drum? And why are the pronouncements of Robert Chesney that this AUMF language is not dangerously permissive more authoritative than the views on the same topic of ACLU lawyers or Professor Hafetz, who say exactly the opposite? Both Wittes and Chesney are perfectly well-versed in these issues, but so are countless others who have expressed Paul’s exact views. Why is the Wittes/Chesney opinion that these AUFM standards are perfectly narrow and trustworthy — and that’s all it is: an opinion — treated by PolitiFact as factually dispositive, while the views of Paul and those who agree with him are treated as false? That is preposterous nonsense.

As Greenwald points out, the ACLU, an organization that employs the top constitutional law experts in the country, had echoed Paul's concerns about the bill, but were not cited in this article. Was this an oversight?

I e-mailed Politifact, to see if they had a response to Greenwald's piece, and was contacted by Mr. Selby himself. The only problem with the article, he insisted, was that he had incorrectly referred to Benjamin Wittes as a lawyer. He acknowledged that there were many groups, including the ACLU,  that were discussing this issue, and claimed he contacted the ACLU to request a "sideline expert" for his article.  I responded with the following:

If you were aware that there were many groups making the same point as Ron Paul, then why is there no mention of them in the article? How do you purport to provide a factual analysis of his statement without citing all available facts?

Did you choose not to cite the opinions of the ACLU or any of these other groups because none of them responded to you in time? 

In response, he stated there were "no advocacy groups" mentioned in the article. It appears he didn't believe it was necessary to cite those experts, because he cited and quoted Paul's spring update, which explained his view on the issue.

I took that to mean he felt it would be redundant to cite both Paul's spring update and the ACLU's arguments on the issue. If that's the case, since he has judged Paul's position here as "mostly false", he is also judging the ACLU's claims here as "mostly false".

When I asked if this was really the case, he stopped responding to me (and, consequently, never gave me permission to publish our e-mail exchange in full).


Since Politifact published that piece, numerous experts have weighed in on Paul's side of the debate.

Tom Malinowski, Washington Director for Human Rights Watch and former special assistant to President Bill Clinton, wrote the following for Foreign Policy:

What Libyan Rebels Could Teach Obama About the Rule of Law

President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the legislation, but now says he will sign it. There are "waivers" in the bill that will allow him -- and future presidents, should they agree with him -- to evade its strictures. But the Congress has nonetheless made the militarization of law enforcement against terrorism the rule in America going forward. Civilian justice is to be the exception -- employed only on those occasions when the president of the United States personally waives the rule.

A couple weeks after critiquing Politifact's piece, Glenn Greenwald, himself a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator, weighed in on the ramifications of the bill:

Three myths about the detention bill 

Myth #3: U.S. citizens are exempted from this new bill

This is simply false, at least when expressed so definitively and without caveats. The bill is purposely muddled on this issue which is what is enabling the falsehood

...The only provision from which U.S. citizens are exempted here is the “requirement” of military detention. For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional. This section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention.

This past week, the ACLU reiterated it's stance on the bill as President Obama signed it into law:

President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Bill Into Law

President Obama's action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.  The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.

In rating Paul's position here as "mostly false", Mr. Gardner has caused Politifact to take a political stand in an ongoing legal debate, which goes far beyond their mission of simply "fact-checking" political statements.

Has Mr. Gardner allowed his personal political biases to compromise his journalistic integrity? Perhaps his article was just poorly researched, and he is too proud to issue a retraction. Whichever the case, it's grossly unprofessional, and so long as it stands uncorrected/unretracted, it should be a source of embarrassment to an organization that believes:

we are true believers in journalism as an instrument of democracy. Even as we seek to reach customers in new ways, we see our primary obligation as helping citizens participate fully in the democratic process. 

Passing off politically biased material as "neutral" neither helps the democratic process, nor is it an example of good journalism.