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.

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