AstroTurf, garden gnomes, an American flag fluttering in the wind, this yard has it ALL…
As I age, I increasingly ponder loyalty. Most of us, I suspect, have an understanding of it. Perhaps it’s a feeling that we’d crawl through burning oil and run across broken glass because the person to whom we are loyal needs it. And that person never asks; we merely give unreservedly.
Lately, however, loyalty I have awarded (given? allowed? presented? What is the word that best presents bestowal of loyalty?) has been strained. Is it because I have come to expect something in return? A little quid pro quo? If that attitude has emerged in me, I am saddened. But I fear it has. I am human: I have done for others without marked compensation or gratitude for so long … but now, am I finally seeking a little sugar for my faithful attention?
I used to advertise my loyalty and I don’t believe there is a single person I loved that I didn’t eventually betray.
― Albert Camus, The Fall
Loyalty for me has always been freely given with no expectation of reciprocity. Either in an instant, or over time, I have become loyal to you. You owe me naught. But 70 years old is no longer a distant horizon. Has the erosion of physical ability or the emergence of emotional and intellectual insecurity altered that equation? Do I now need something, somehow, from an individual or institution that has received unqualified, unquestioned loyalty from me?
The Borg meet the One App in the Facebook app’s latest privacy permissions.
The Tech Curmudgeon has got a Facebook app on his smartphone, probably like nearly everyone else in the English-speaking world. But the Tech Curmudgeon hasn’t updated it to the latest app, and he won’t. In fact, when his current version of the Facebook app stops working, the Tech Curmudgeon will purge the app from his phone entirely rather than update to the next version. And when his phone finally dies and the Tech Curmudgeon has to get a new one, he’ll probably purge the Facebook app from that one too, all because Facebook’s recent update has asked for permissions no one in their right mind would give Facebook. Continue reading
Snowden, Assange, Greenwald, and anyone else who believes that NSA spying on American citizens is wrong is a tool for Mother Russia. Makes sense.
I just read Edward Lucas’s Wall Street Journal piece entitled “A Press Corps Full of Snowdenistas.” I can’t honestly say if Mr. Lucas is a liar, an idiot, or simply a guy who’s a little too captive to the security state party line to see past his own dogma. We’ll be charitable for the moment and assume the latter, although “wild-eyed apparatchik” is hardly something to aspire to.
The premise of his rant is more or less summed up with this: Continue reading
Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus case asks SCotUS to extend constitutional protections to to those who intentionally lie to voters.
I do not know anyone whose parents or church taught them that lying is permissible and bears no taint of sin: Thou shall not bear false witness is ingrained from childhood in everyone I know. Do not ever lie, we are taught.
So why, then, is an anti-abortion advocacy group asking the highest court in the land to allow it to lie with impunity? At stake in the case is whether the federal government has the legal right to police political advertising for lies. The case involves claims by the anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony List, against then-Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio). From Politico’s Bryon Tau:
During the 2010 election cycle, Susan B. Anthony List accused Driehaus of voting in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions by supporting President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Continue reading
Governor Jindal’s comments in the Duck Dynasty case provide aid and comfort for those who would handcuff American business leaders.
by Richard Hough
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal earlier this week offered some disturbing public remarks that must have come as a shock to many of his constituents in the business community. Jindal has long been an ally for American businesses of all sizes, and my organization, the American Commerce Institute, continues to regard him as a friend. However, his spirited defense of Phil Robertson in the Duck Dynasty controversy, while appearing to strike a blow on behalf of free speech, actually worked to undermine the principles upon which our free market system are based. Continue reading
2016 presidential hopeful’s defense of Duck Dynasty star’s homophobic comments suggests a deep misunderstanding of what the Constitution says.
Here we go again.
The great thing about Duck Dynasty-style blowups is that they provide dumbasses a chance to trot their dumbassery out for public display. Take Louisiana governor (and prospective 2016 presidential candidate) Bobby Jindal, whose comments this morning suggest that he doesn’t understand Constitution even a little bit. Continue reading
Sunday afternoon in 1990. 11 February in Port Elizabeth. The height of summer, just after schools have returned for the start of the year. The wind howls as the air tears down South Africa’s long coast.
That day was calm. The country held its breath.
Thousands gathered at Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, about an hour outside Cape Town. They were waiting for the unhoped-for release of one man: Nelson Mandela.
I, 16 years old, poised in front of the television with my camera on a tripod. I knew it was probably futile trying to catch an image, but I wanted somehow to hang on to this moment. Continue reading
I saw a Free Bradley Manning sticker on a car as I walked my dog this morning and it got me to thinking. Some months back I produced the New Constitution series, which set forth the principles upon a more just and workable American government might be based. The final “deliverable,” as we say in the business world, was 20 articles – some barely modified from the original Bill of Rights, some more aggressively revised, and some that are entirely new.
What that sticker and my morning walk have me wondering is if I need to add a 21st amendment protecting whistleblowers. Continue reading
Every once in a while, I like to check the Federal Register. This is a vice I should indulge more frequently, apparently. This evening I indulged, and discovered this:
Designation of Officers of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence To Act as Director of National Intelligence
A Presidential Document by the Executive Office of the President on 09/25/2013
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, as amended, 5 U.S.C. 3345 et seq. (the “Act”), it is hereby ordered that:
Section 1. Order of Succession. Subject to the provisions of sections 2 and 3 of this memorandum, and to the limitations set forth in the Act, the following officials of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in the order listed, shall act as and perform the functions and duties of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) during any period in which the DNI and the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence have died, resigned, or otherwise become unable to perform the functions and duties of the DNI:…
This couldn’t get much hotter off the press if it tried, and it strikes me as a very big deal, indeed. Surely someone in the media caught wind of this, right?
Not that I can find.
A variety of news searches using Google turned up nothing on today’s presidential memo on succession for the role of Director of National Intelligence. For that matter, nothing came up about the memo when I search my news sources and blog roll in InoReader (the tool I use now that Google’s Reader is caput). That, however, is not to say that there wasn’t anything relevant out there.
Marcy Wheeler’s emptywheel had this fresh, new content today:
So DiFi’s [Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA] idea of an “open hearing” is to invite two established liars. And for her non-governmental witnesses, one keeps declaring Congress NAKED! in the face of evidence the government lies to them, and the other tells fanciful stories about how much data NSA shares.
It’s like DiFi goes out of her way to find liars and their apologists to testify publicly.
I love it. For that matter, Ms. Wheeler starts the piece off strong with:
Pentagon Papers era NYT Counsel James Goodale has a piece in the Guardian attracting a lot of attention. In it, he says the first step to reform NSA is to fire the liars.
Excellent. Ms. Wheeler might not have mentioned today’s succession memo, but perhaps Mr. Goodale did over at the Guardian?
This article is also from today, and it’s an excellent bit of reportage. Mr. Goodale ends it on this note:
Obviously, if this culture seeps into popular culture, lies and deceits will be easily tolerated – and we will all be the worse for it. President Obama should focus on this issue before it is too late. But it is not at all clear that he cares about it any more than Congress or the Justice Department do.
Interestingly, he also makes no mention of the memo hot off President Obama’s desk.
If this were a reshuffling of succession rules for just about any other agency, it would probably be among the dullest things ever. With James “The Liar” Clapper at the center of so much controversy, however, should we see this as just a bit of housekeeping minutiae? Or should we expect to see an announcement of Clapper’s resignation soon?
I hope so. Part of me will cheer. The dominant, cynical side of me will just wonder who will be signing Clapper’s checks next. My gut says he’ll still be an intelligence insider, just on a private contractor’s payroll.
Image credit: Official portrait in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Cross-posted from Ars Skeptica
You probably saw Russ’s piece yesterday on Vlad Putin being a possible for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yeah, I know, what a hoot, right? And you saw my comment on how they might as well give it to him because they jumped the shark when they gave it to Obama in 2009.
Anyway, this got me to thinking about doing a post on “Nobel committee jumps shark,” or somesuch. I mean, Obama hadn’t done dick at the time and since then his record has to have the Nobel folks wondering if there’s a way they can take it back. Enhanced interrogation, doubling down on every bad idea Bush ever had, the NSA mess, and now agitating for an invasion of Syria?
I recall writing about what a joke Obama’s Nobel was back when it was announced in October of ’09. I thought I had blogged it, but a search this morning reveals no such post. Which means it was instead a back-channel e-mail to our private S&R staff mailing list on Google groups. I’m damned if I save back e-mails for four years, but it occurred to me that you guys probably do.
So what I’m wondering is if you can do a quick search of my archive for October 2009 and find that e-mail for me? I can always do a post and say that “four years ago I said ___________,” but it’s a lot more effective if I can actually quote what I said.
If you can find five minutes to help a citizen out I’d be grateful. Hope you guys are doing well, and if I don’t hear from you today have a good weekend.
The original plan when we began this project was to offer the amendments individually, invite discussion, then produce a final document. The course of the process, though, has made a couple things clear. First, there needs to be a period to discuss the entire document in context, and second, while the original “Bill of Rights” approach perhaps had a certain formatic elegance about it, the project is better served by a less formalized articulation of general principles.
As a result, what follows is a restructured draft that accounts for the discussions so far and that also adds some new elements that have arisen since the process launched.
We will compile a final statement of principles out of this discussion.
1) Organization, Composition and Conduct of Government
a) Proportional Representation
i) No political party representing a significant minority of the electorate – and here we suggest five percent as a workable baseline – will be denied direct representation in the legislature.
ii) All legislative bodies shall be comprised proportionally according to the populations represented and all elected officials should be selected by direct vote of the people.
b) Public Financing of Elections
i) In order to eliminate the corrupting, anti-democratic influence of corporate and special interest money on the electoral process, all elections shall be publicly financed. No individual will be allowed to contribute more than a token sum to an official, candidate or political party (perhaps the cap could be in line with the current $2,000 limit for contributions to presidential candidates).
ii) All corporate, commercial and other private or publicly held entities shall be forbidden from contributing directly to any official, candidate or political party.
iii) All citizens and collective entities are free to designate a portion of their annual tax contributions to a general election fund.
iv) No contributions to the electoral process shall be allowed by foreign interests, either individual or institutional.
v) Election funds shall be administered on a non-partisan basis and no candidate or party demonstrating a reasonable expectation of electoral viability shall be denied access to funding.
c) Secular Government
i) The government of the people shall be expressly secular. No individual, religious or quasi-religious entity or collective engage or seek to influence the course of legislation or policy in accordance with theological creed.
ii) No government edifice, document, collateral, communication, or other production, including currency, shall make reference to religious concepts, including “god.”
iii) No one shall, in any legal context, including legal processes or oaths of office, swear upon a sacred text.
iv) Oaths of office shall explicitly require officials to refrain from the use of religious language and dogma in the conduct of their duties.
v) No government funds shall be spent to compensate employees who exist to serve religious functions. This includes, but is not limited to, the office of Chaplain in various military bodies.
vi) No religious institution shall be eligible for tax exempt status.
d) Oversight of Covert Activities
No governmental entity shall conduct secret or covert proceedings absent ongoing oversight by a multi-partisan body of popularly elected officials.
e) Federal Autonomy
No state or local government entity shall assert special privilege or exemption with respect to established rights granted by the Federal Constitution.
2) Individual Freedoms
a) Free Speech, Press and Religion
i) No government, corporation, commercial or private entity shall abridge an individual’s legitimate exercise of free speech. This includes all political, social and civic speech activities, including those criticizing the government, corporations and business entities and other collective organizations.
ii) The right of the people peaceably to assemble, especially for purposes of protest, and to petition for a redress of grievances will not be infringed.
iii) The health of the nation depends on a vital independent check against public and commercial power. As such, no government, corporation, commercial or private entity shall be allowed to abridge the rights of a free and unfettered press.
iv) Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
b) Equal Rights Under the Law
i) No governmental, corporation or commercial interest, or other private organization shall deny to any enfranchised citizen the rights or privileges accorded to others.
ii) The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
c) Freedom from Surveillance
i) All individuals shall enjoy the right to privacy and freedom from systemic surveillance by governmental entities in the absence of a legally obtained warrant articulating probable cause against the individual.
ii) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers, data, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
iii) All individuals shall enjoy the right to privacy and freedom from systemic surveillance and data gathering by corporate, commercial or other private or public entities unless they have specifically opted into such programs.
d) Basic Human Rights
All citizens shall enjoy the right to shelter, nourishment, healthcare and educational opportunity.
3) Conduct of Business and Commercial Interests
a) Legal Standing
No corporation, business interest or any other collective entity shall be accorded the rights and privileges attending citizenship, which are reserved expressly for individuals.
b) Public Interest Standard
No corporate, commercial or other private or governmental entity shall be licensed, accredited or incorporated absent a binding commitment to serve the public interest.
c) Lobbying Restrictions
i) In order to further the public’s interest in a free and independent legislature, elected officials shall not be allowed petition the body in which they served, either on their own behalf or on behalf of the interests of a third party, for a significant period of time after the conclusion of their terms.
ii) No person shall be allowed to assume a position charged with regulatory oversight of an industry in which they have worked in the past five years.
iii) No elected official shall be allowed to assume a position on any legislative committee charged with oversight or regulation of an industry in which they have worked or held financial interest for the past five years.
d) Collective Bargaining
i) All workers shall have the right to organize for purposes of collective representation and bargaining.
ii) In any publicly held commercial interest where a significant percentage of the workforce is represented by a union, the workers shall be entitled to representation on the corporate board of directors.
4) Citizen Responsibilities and Service
a) Mandatory Service
i) All citizens will, upon attainment of their 18th birthdays, enroll in a two-year program of public service, which may be fulfilled with either civic programs or the armed forces.
ii) Enfranchisement will be earned upon completion of the public service commitment and a demonstration of a basic understanding of principles informing the political and policy issues facing the nation and the world.
b) Right to Arms
i) The right of an individual who has completed a two-year military service commitment to keep and maintain firearms appropriate to the common defense should not be infringed. 
ii) The Federal government will establish guidelines by which enfranchised citizens may obtain firearms for reasonable purposes of sport and self-defense.
5) Justice System
a) Due Process and Fair Trials
i) No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against him or herself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
ii) In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed five hundred dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
iii) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of professional, trained adjudicators sanctioned by the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; defendants shall have the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in their favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for their defense.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
 This disposes of the Electoral College.
 An alternative might be to entrust the public court system with the decision. Make all documents automatically become public in N years (and make destruction a federal felony) but the government can petition a federal court to hold them as secret. Court uses a strict scrutiny standard to continue secrecy, advocates for release present arguments and can appeal a secrecy decision (no appeal on orders to release). (Submitted by Evan Robinson.)
 This does not prevent said entities from policing explicitly illegal behavior, such as theft of proprietary information or sexual harassment. (Suggested by Carole McNall.)
 This item overturns the Citizens United case.
 This item eliminates the narrow “interest of the shareholders” doctrine emerging originally from Dodge vs. Ford.
 It is suggested by multiple commenters that “a significant period of time after the conclusion of their terms” might best be changed to “forever.” This is a perspective with some merit. In truth, though, we’re discussing a body of people who possess expertise that can, in the right circumstances, be of benefit to the people. A term of five years, for instance, might serve to rid the system of revolving-door corruption without permanently eliminating the possibility that a highly qualified individual may be able to contribute to the public good.
 This practice is common in Europe and promotes an environment of collaboration, instead of confrontation, between management and labor.
 Weapons systems are constantly evolving and we are now perhaps within a generation of the point where lasers, thermal lances and other currently experimental man-portable devices might be viable. The term “firearms” in this document should not be construed as limited to the sorts of projectile weapons we’re familiar with, but should instead be taken in a broader context. (Suggested by Rho Holden.)
The New Constitution has been a long time in the making, and it would be the height of arrogance to suggest that I reached this point on my own. In truth, I’m an intensely social, extroverted and associative thinker, which means that if I have an interesting idea, it probably emerged from interactions with one or more other people. This is why I work so hard to surround myself my folks who are as smart as possible. If they’re brighter than me, as is often the case, that’s all the better because that means there’s more opportunity to learn.
Some of the people in the list below are known to readers of S&R and others aren’t. Some have played a very direct and active role in my political thinking in recent years, and others contributed less obviously in conversations, in grad school classes, in arguments and debates over beers, and so on. In fact, there are undoubtedly some on the list who will be surprised to see their names, but trust me, each and every one of them helped me arrive at the present intellectual moment. This doesn’t necessarily mean they all endorse the project or want their names attached to it, so if there are things that aggravate you, please direct those comments at me and me alone.
All that said, many thanks to:
Dr. Jim Booth
Dr. Will Bower
Dr. Robert Burr
Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark
Dr. Erika Doss
Dr. Andrea Frantz
Dr. Stuart Hoover
Dr. Douglas Kellner
Dr. John Lawrence
Dr. Polly McLean
Dr. Michael Pecaut
|Dr. Wendy Worrall Redal
Dr. Willard Rowland
Dr. Geoffrey Rubinstein
Dr. Greg Stene
Dr. Michael Tracey
Dr. Robert Trager
Dr. Petr Vassiliev
Dr. Frank Venturo
Dr. Denny Wilkins
Way back in March of 2008, as the campaign was running in high gear, I made clear that while I wasn’t in love with the Democratic frontrunners, the emerging alternative was worse: John McCain represented the third Bush presidency.
I was undoubtedly right. But… You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?
- Obama prepares for possible action against Syria
- Despite the fact that the evidence Syria has used chemical weapons is every bit as solid as was Dubya’s evidence that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.
- Let’s play word association. I’ll give you a word and you just shout out the first thing that pops into your mind. Ready? Snowden.
- How about another one: Drones.
- This is fun. Ready? Due process.
- Here’s a good one: Newspeak.
- Next one: Torture.
- Okay, last one: Security state.
Poppy. Dubya. And now Barack. I was right – the 2008 election gave us the third installment in the Bush Dynasty.
Perhaps we’ll get to see Colin Powell back in front of the UN again soon…
This just in via ABC News blogger Mike Levine:
I don’t know whether ABC’s Mike Levine just rubber-stamped brief bios of the panel picks or if there were any degree of research done, but here’s what I’ve come up with regarding what President Obama refers to as “outside experts.”
Right off the bat, let’s look at one detail fairly well buried in Levine’s blog post at ABC.
In 60 days, the review panel will provide an interim report to the director of national intelligence, who will then brief the president on the panel’s findings.
Note how Levine fails to mention James Clapper by name. Isn’t that just a touch odd in an article about such a momentous occasion, especially an article rife with names, especially when the name omitted is that of someone folks on both the left and right would like to see, by respectable majorities, prosecuted for perjury? That James Clapper will receive the interim report and brief the President. Feel better yet?
So let’s take a closer look at these “outsider” panel picks.
Morell was acting director of the CIA until March, when John Brennan was sworn in as director.
Morell has worked at the CIA since 1980, holding a variety of senior positions, according to the CIA. In fact, he was serving as President George W. Bush’s intelligence briefer on the day of the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks.
Independent citizen “journalist” (read: me):
Morell’s bio at allgov.com had this to say:
Morell served as a presidential briefer, i.e., chief of the staff who presents the President’s Daily Brief, for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and he was with President Bush on September 11, 2001. After serving as executive assistant to CIA Director George J. Tenet, from 2003 to 2006, during which time the CIA was engaged in torture [emphasis added], Morell took a secret assignment overseas, including in London, UK.
Things really start to get interesting at Wikipedia, though. The Wikipedia article shows that Morell only just recently retired from his post as Deputy Director of the CIA, and that he served as Acting Director twice. Why did her retire? According to Wikipedia, “to devote more time to his family and to pursue other professional opportunities.”
I did say that things only start to get interesting there, right? What did The Atlantic Wire have to say about Morell’s resignation? Oh, nothing much, certainly nothing to suggest that he resigned because of his role in deleting mentions of terrorism in the Benghazi talking points. Oh, wait. I lie. That’s exactly what the article is about.
My takeaway? This “outsider” was an insider to no less than three presidents and their intelligence apparatus. Those presidents can be fairly classified as “neoliberal,” “neoconservative,” and “neoliberal” respectively. Take that how you list. Oh, and torture! And Benghazi! I managed to collect this much less flattering info in a matter of minutes. I dread to think what I might find if I actually had a massive media outlet’s resources at my disposal.
Richard Clarke served the last three presidents as a senior White House adviser, including as national coordinator for security and counterterrorism, according to his private security firm’s website. He became a vocal critic of the Bush administration, causing consternation in some Republican circles.
He has been an on-air consultant on terrorism for ABC News.
Really, Levine? That’s all you could come up with? According to Wikipedia, Clarke is “the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism for the United States.” He served under Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. ABC’s blogger apparently loses track after three. To Clarke’s credit, he was critical of the Bush 43 administration for their approach to counter-terrorism and the war on Iraq. In all reality, Clarke may just be a bright spot on this panel. Then again, did he or did he not play a role in letting the bin Laden family out of the US on September 20, 2001? Would that matter? Does Clarke’s endorsement of President Obama for his second run at the White House compromise his impartiality? In any event, there’s a ton of information on Clarke, both laudatory and damning. ABC’s Levine doesn’t seem to think any of that relevant. Chalk this one up as another inside “outsider.”
Swire recently became a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At the start of the Obama administration, he served as a special assistant to the president for economic policy and, during the Clinton administration, he served as the chief counselor for privacy.
Swire, like Clarke, appears to be a good, if apparently unlikely, Obama pick for a place on the panel. Yet again, however, a not insignificant point here is Levine’s failure to do more by way of reportage. Another quick search on Wikipedia reveals more relevant information than ABC’s blogger does. Swire has served under two presidents, Clinton and Obama, sure. He’s an internationally recognized expert on privacy. He was instrumental in the creation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. He’s actively involved in the development of the World Wide Web Consortium’s effort to mediate a global Do Not Track standard.
Further, Swire is actively antagonistic to NSA abuses of section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. According to Indiana University News Room, Peter Swire is a co-signer of an amicus brief urging SCOTUS to overturn the FISC authorization for the NSA to collect “”all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon,” including calls wholly within the U.S. and calls between the U.S. and abroad.” If President Obama is trying to create a stacked deck, he’s got a funny way of going about it. Nevertheless, this outsider is still an inside job, and that keeps me leery.
Sunstein left the White House a year ago as President Obama’s so-called “regulatory czar,” returning to Harvard Law School, according to the Center for American Progress, where Sunstein is also a senior fellow. As President Obama’s administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Sunstein’s post was considered one of the most powerful in Washington, given its ability to shape how laws were implemented.
Again, this is all ABC’s Levine can come up with? Your friendly neighborhood citizen “journalist,” relying once again on the most cursory attempts at fact-finding, and doing so mainly via Wikipedia (a big no-no, right?) still managed to find this out…
“Some view him as liberal, despite Sunstein’s public support for George W. Bush’s judicial nominees Michael W. McConnell and John G. Roberts…”
Now hold on a cotton-pickin’ minute. Would that be THE Chief Justice John Roberts, who single-handedly, and with no oversight or confirmation process, picks all the FISA judges until he dies or retires? THAT John Roberts?
This is the same Sunstein that has said:
There is no reason to believe that in the face of statutory ambiguity, the meaning of federal law should be settled by the inclinations and predispositions of federal judges. The outcome should instead depend on the commitments and beliefs of the President and those who operate under him.
Can you say, “Unitary Executive?” Can you say, “Cheney?”
This is the same Sunstein who thinks that thinks, “in light of astonishing economic and technological changes, we must doubt whether, as interpreted, the constitutional guarantee of free speech is adequately serving democratic goals.” That’s right. Our free speech needs fiddling and tweaking, and he’s just the guy to do it.
Straight from good ol’ Wikipedia, Sunstein thinks that:
“[T]here is a need to reformulate First Amendment law. He thinks that the current formulation, based on Justice Holmes’conception of free speech as a marketplace “disserves the aspirations of those who wrote America’s founding document.” The purpose of this reformulation would be to “reinvigorate processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention [emphasis added] to public issues and greater diversity of views.”
Given some of his other views, I dread to think what Sunstein means by “ensuring greater attention.” A Clockwork Orange comes to mind. Oh, we don’t have to guess much. He just wants to nudge us, because what we need is more alternately neoconservative/neoliberal paternalism.
Last, but not least, (and remember, I barely even got my muckraking shovel dirty) Sunstein also thinks the government should “cognitively infiltrate” anti-government groups. That’s right, this guy, in a time of IRS ham-fisted SNAFUs, will have a say in the reports that go through the Official Liar Clapper before landing in Obama’s Chicago School lap.
My count? Four insiders and one that’s so inside he could Tweet pictures of Obama’s appendix. My gut instincts? 2 for the NSA programs, 2 against, and a ref who guarantees the fix is in.
Now, lest I show up to the choir only singing in my bitchy, whiny voice, I’d like to propose a completely different solution to this really tough problem of picking real outsiders in a way that might actually cause citizens to trust the government a bit more. You know, exactly in a way that President Obama fails to do. It’s simple.
We’ve got 50 states. We’ve got 50 governors. Each governor vets and nominates a candidate for the panel. The governors then have a meeting (teleconference using AT&T would be AWESOME, right?) to vote on six. The US House gets to pick one. The US Senate gets to pick one. These eight, if qualified, get the necessary clearances. POTUS gets one. Whatever comes out of such a group would almost necessarily be bi-partisan. At the very least, it would create a tremendous appearance of genuine accountability to the people.
So what about it, ABC? You guys hiring? I know a guy who at least knows where the hell to find Wikipedia and Google when doing a quick and dirty takedown on a topic.
Image credit: Spy vs. Spy by tr.robinson @ flikr.com. Licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday morning, TechDirt had this insightful little snippet of pithy analysis to share.
Read that again. This is the same White House that has been saying that they want to be as transparent as possible and to rebuild trust. And yet, here they are trying to block the Post from using an interview — an interview they suggested in the first place — and then to replace it with a bland and bogus “statement.”
To what does that refer? This, from the WashPo article cited.:
The Obama administration referred all questions for this article to John DeLong, the NSA’s director of compliance, who answered questions freely in a 90-minute interview. DeLong and members of the NSA communications staff said he could be quoted “by name and title” on some of his answers after an unspecified internal review. The Post said it would not permit the editing of quotes. Two days later, White House and NSA spokesmen said that none of DeLong’s comments could be quoted on the record and sent instead a prepared statement in his name. The Post declines to accept the substitute language as quotations from DeLong.
Seriously, truly, we all, every last one of us, need to hold elected officials to a far higher standard. I don’t care which party is in. I don’t care which base is being appealed to. Lies, distortions, obfuscation, and the outright trash talk that are our daily fare are beneath us. We can and must do better.
I offer these few humble words for your consideration not just because I’m increasingly against this administration in particular, but because its behavior and TechDirt’s analysis in brief are instructive going forward, regardless of which party is in power in which branch of government.
If in one breath one tries to calm the jitters of a disillusioned electorate with lip service to transparency, one should simply not get away with this kind of overt and blisteringly incompetent interference in the next.
Enough platitudes and equivocations. The buck stops in the Oval Office. Heads need to roll, figuratively, of course, or we have zero reason for faith in the way the duties of the office are being discharged.
Like I said, we can and must do better. Or maybe we should just stop calling ourselves Americans if this is what we’re willing to stoop to and settle for.
I love to talk about my famous weiner.
That is what you’d truly like to see.
And if I run for office as a Weiner,
Everyone will point and laugh at me.
C’mon, everybody! You know the words. Second verse, same as the first. Could get better, but it’s gonna get worse.
No impulse control. Check.
Moral compass of a pickup artist. Check.
Upbraided by Pelosi with, “needs to get a clue.” Check.
Pelosi, it should be noted, knows a thing or three about getting a clue. She has, after all, been part of the huge Dem/GOP drive to erode your privacy rights for a very long time. She gets clues.
Oh, yeah, and Pepper Spray Cop is back in the news. Won’t somebody please shed a tear (he didn’t cause by spraying)?
Image credit: Public domain, courtesy of pixabay.com.
Edward Snowden issued an official statement today in Moscow, and I think it’s worth a read. It begins:
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
I’ve gotten called some awful things when I tell people that I’m both a practicing Catholic and an advocate for women’s choice – from baby killer to hypocrite. But hear me out.
I was raised with a strong sense of faith in a “cafeteria Catholic” family – that is, a family that picked and chose from doctrine and tradition what we would actually practice. There was an overarching idea of being good to other people, whether you agreed with them or not, and trying to stand in someone else’s shoes when considering situations. I was raised to help the poor, to speak up for those who couldn’t, and to be as good of a person as I could be.
I was raised in a church where my LGBT friends weren’t accepted, but in a family where they were welcomed; in a church where stem cell research wasn’t embraced because it killed live embryos, but in a family with history of diabetes and dementia, diseases that could be potentially cured by such research; in a church where women aren’t allowed to be priests, but in a family that sees it as a practical and natural progression for an aging priest population.
This isn’t to say that I was raised in a family that espoused abortion. They didn’t. I formed that opinion on my own. But it comes back around to the idea of thinking of others first, and trying to see a situation from their perspective. I consider myself pro-choice, and pro-quality of life, rather than pro-life.
Let me explain.
In states like Texas, Virginia, Kansas, and Wisconsin, legislators are not necessarily banning abortion and pre-natal care, but making it harder and harder to obtain. By instituting waiting periods, enacting parental consent requirements, building specifications that are nearly impossible to meet, and other hurdles, they have created a de facto ban on abortion in their states, tearing away at the freedom and rights that Roe v. Wade guaranteed to American women over 40 years ago. But what these politicians fail to acknowledge is that women have been having abortions for years, and will continue to have them whether they’re legal or not. The difference is that by keeping them legal, regulated, and performed by doctors, we can save more lives than the abortions end and keep thousands of women from shoddily performed procedures that result in their sickness or death.
These legislators, and their supporters, consider themselves to be a righteous, “pro-life” movement, where every life is sacred (except for the mother in question), and where we as people have no right to end a life (unless it’s someone on death row). What I argue is that these people are not pro-life. They are pro-birth.
Legislators who are against women terminating their pregnancies are also the ones who want to cut funds to programs helping families. They aim to slash the budgets for SNAP, food assistance, child care credits, education, and health care. Parents who couldn’t afford to have a child to begin with, but couldn’t abort the pregnancy, are now faced with the challenge of raising a child without the means to do so, and with little to no assistance. Not only is this difficult for the parents, but for the child. Yes, the child is alive, and that’s wonderful. But what is the quality of his or her life like? Is it really best for a child to be born when their quality of life is subpar?
I mention this argument and tie it to my religious upbringing because many of the legislators making it difficult for women to have abortions and nearly impossible for them to receive government assistance once they deliver claim to be Christian men and women of high moral standing –they’re just trying to stop people from killing babies, they say.
I don’t agree with this misguided sense of morality.
As Christians, as Americans, as people, we cannot let this counter-intuitive, counter-productive set of principles guide our legislation and limit a woman’s ability to plan her family and access health care. We must help women do what is best for themselves, their partners, and their families, even if we don’t personally agree with their choices. It is not our place, and it goes against the sort of Christianity I was taught growing up – the “judge not, lest ye be judged” kind that Bible thumpers seem to forget about when they’re spewing t their hateful ideas and claiming them as Christian doctrine.
Am I comfortable with abortion? Not really, no. But as a woman, I could never deny or legislate against a sister or a friend or a mother or a stranger seeking one because it was her best option. As a woman, I can’t bear to watch states domino one-by-one into legislating against half of the population. And as a Catholic, I cannot bear to watch legislators who fail to listen to the voices of their constituents and who refuse to care for their brothers and sisters and children as they were elected to do.
I wanted to end with a quote by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Catholic nun who talks about human rights, war, poverty and women’s rights. I think she sums up my position more succinctly and eloquently than I ever could when she said:
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
Remember how the other day I called your attention to Barack Obama’s little playground bully act re: Bolivian president Evo Morales’s flight? Uh-huh. Well, as it turns out, BarryO ain’t the only one who can send a message. Item:
(Reuters) – Bolivia offered asylum on Saturday to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, joining leftist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. surveillance programs.
Snowden, 30, is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport and has been trying to find a country that would take him since he landed from Hong Kong on June 23.
Bolivian President Evo Morales had said earlier this week that he would consider granting asylum to Snowden. But he took a harder line on Saturday, angered that some European countries banned his plane from their airspace this week on suspicion it carried Snowden.
“I want to tell … the Europeans and Americans that last night I was thinking that as a fair protest, I want to say that now in fact we are going to give asylum to that American who is being persecuted by his fellow Americans,” Morales said during a visit to the town of Chipaya.
Things just got tougher for the apparatchiks running the Bush/Obama security state operation. They absolutely have to figure out how to a) keep Edward Snowden holed up in Russia, or b) flush him out in a direction where they can capture him – and at this point it’s clear that legally or illegally makes no difference whatsoever.
If they fail, their choices get even uglier:
- invade everything south of the Panama Canal
- send in Seal Team 6 on a Whack or Extract mission
- deal with the humiliation of being one-upped by a bunch of Third World pissants
Of those, the second seems most likely. These days Obama is so drunk from slurping his own Kool-Aid that he’d invade Canada if he felt like a point needed making about his commitment to protecting the safety of US citizens protecting the economic interests of his corporate employers and making sure you know his dick is bigger than yours.
Regardless, this is all pretty entertaining as political theater goes. My advice to Mr. Obama is to tread carefully. You’re dick may be bigger than Morales’s, but you’d rather stick it in a turbocharged sausage grinder than piss off Latin America any worse than you already have. And your little closed airspace stunt has done a lot to bring them even closer together.
The smart play here is
- re-read the Constitution (there’s probably a copy lying around somewhere in the White House, and if not you can Google it)
- admit that “mistakes were made,” and
- position yourself at the forefront of a campaign to eradicate the Bush security state that you have so far done nothing but expand.
We might know that you’re a self-dealing, mealy mouthed weasel the whole time, but we’ll make allowances if you’ll actually do the right thing.