Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Fail at Voting

And to add to the crap sandwich that is Tuesday, February 10, 2009, the Washington Post reports that Obama is doing his best Bush impression when it comes to civil liberties.

I would comment on this, using every nasty word I can think of, but Greenwald sums it up without even using a swear word. From his other piece on the issue:
Countries that are nations of laws rather than of men don't rely on blind faith in the good character of leaders to prevent abuse. They rely on what we call "law" and "accountability" and "checks and balances" to provide those safeguards -- exactly the type that Democrats, when it came to the States Secret privilege, long insisted upon before January 20, 2009.

We've been had, civil libertarians. Obama's proving himself to be a weak-willed power whore, passing off panic and secrecy as policy.

Fuck it, I shoulda voted for Barr. There, I said it. Jacob, cackle all you want.

UPDATE: I know it's old news, but this isn't helping matters.

13 comments:

lsmsrbls said...

I'm still glad I voted for Obama, as he's done a lot of stuff already that I'm proud of (and McCain clearly wouldn't have).

However, damn, is this disappointing. As Jacob said, the honeymoon's over.

Well, I knew he'd do something to piss me off sooner or later.

Jacob said...

I still think a vote for Obama is defensible too, given the McCain alternative. What really pisses me off is that on the same day this story breaks I'm seeing Tweets from friends about how Obama is such a wonderful person because he'd be willing to have a beer with Sean Hannity. It's that brainless worship by smart people while ignoring real and substantial failures that I want to see end.

Matthew B. Novak said...

I always thought Obama talked a good game but wouldn't deliver. I was cautiously optimistic. That's been changed a bit.

And I know that I frequently disagree with y'all on the role of government and such, but this is one area where we are in complete agreement. Count me among the Obama voters who is dismayed to see this decision.

Ben said...

Is there an Obama supporter who WOULDN'T be dismayed to see this? Maybe some people would be indifferent, because they voted for him some other policy or because he's Black.....but I can't see any Obama supporter being happy about this.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Ben -

I think the articles point out that there are plenty of Obama apologists who fully support him on this. It's the "the power isn't bad, just the person who weilds (sp?) it" position. Then they argue that Obama will use this power better than Bush did. Which is of course absurd, but there are plenty of people out there who think this way. In fact, I'm almost surprised I'm not hearing more from those folks. It wasn't too long ago we were discussing the problem with the cult of Obama... a lot of those people would be behind him on this.

Also, my word verification earlier was "changu" which is so close to "change" but not actually "change" that it seemed eerily appropriate to this topic.

Jacob said...

Which leads to another point brought up by another blogger. All of Obama's executive orders so far, praiseworthy as they are, are just that: executive orders. They could be reversed by Obama, or not by him then by the next evil Republican to take office. They're only as lasting as presidents want them to be.

Real change requires respecting checks and balances and the power of the courts. When that option came on the table, Obama balked.

lsmsrbls said...

You're right...when Obama didn't overturn the global gag rule on the Roe v. Wade anniversary, I heard rumors it was because they were gonna pass a law regarding it...so it wouldn't just be an executive order anymore, and I though that was great...and when it did just turn out to be an executive order I was okay with it...But I think it's pretty damn obvious now that executive orders are not so useful.

I mean, as far as the gag rule goes, it's been in effect for republicans and then off for democrats for what, more than 20 years now? (I guess this is an example of how votes for president can count, but god, how obvious)....

But as far as Matt goes...I think he must know other people than I do... (I've had a bit of wine and may be convoluting blogs here...)

And yet, in my drunken stupor...I feel compelled to add that (compounding threads on different blogs) no, I don't think executive power should be expanded, no matter who the executive is...

And I don't know who these people are who think Obama is infallible...I mean, the Obama voters I see on these blogs are (maybe?) Jeff, Mike, David, and me....

Who the hell are you reading who thinks Obama can be trusted with any power you can throw at him?

Was this even comprehensible? Probably not. Don't worry! I'm a rocket scientist!

Ben said...

On the day before the Obama/Holder DOJ filed this atrocity, it filed a brief in one of the Guantanamo habeas corpus cases asking the court to not define "enemy combatant" and get on to the merits of the individual habeas petitions. If I'm understanding this correctly, this is huge. In essence, it means the Obama administration is actually encouraging judicial review of the Guantanamo detainees' detention, instead of throwing up the "enemy combatant" shield that the Bush Administration used to try and deny judicial review in every case.

It's too soon to tell, however. The Obama Administration is still reviewing each of the Guantanamo prisoners, and it may come up with some new definition of "enemy combatant" that could be better, worse, or just as bad as Bush's. Or, they could ask for a delay until the review is complete this summer, because a release would render the habeas cases moot.

At the very least, this filing would likely stop that other judge in....I forget his location ....who's been rejecting habeas petitions left and right using an incredibly broad definition of enemy combatant.

My point is this: reality is more complicated than a one-liner. The truth is almost always going to be somewhere in between "Obama is 5000000% better than me" and "Obama is a weak-willed power whore." Rather than engaging in such blanket pronouncements (and I'm as guilty as anybody in doing that), it makes more sense to me to evaluate each action of those in power on its merits. Some actions, like the state secrets filing, should be condemned as the horrible power grabs they are. Some, like ordering an end to "extraordinary rendition", should be praised as steps in the right direction.

And when the time comes to vote, one should choose the lesser of two (or more) evils...AND the greater of two (or more) goods.

Bottom line: Obama's not good. Obama's not evil. But his actions are doubtlessly a mixture of both and we should evaluate them as such (without getting lost in a fog of "gray areas").

(Also, to respond to Jacob: I see nothing wrong with praiseworthy executive order. There's no reason Congress can't codify such good executive orders into law....but, in the meantime, an EO changes government policy quickly and efficiently. No problem with that as long as it's not defying Congress. Also, if my understanding of Monday's court filing is correct, the Obama administration DID respect the power of the courts....but only sometimes.)

Jeff said...

Ben, if that's true, points for Obama in my book. Right now, though, he has done nothing to demonstrate that he intends to follow through with his pledges to limit the executive's power to do whatever it wants with the detainees on anything more than a cursory level. As it stands right now, Obama had the chance to give up presidential power for the good of the country, and, like his predecessors, chose power instead.

Jacob said...

Ben, I don't see anything wrong with good executive orders either, it's just a matter of fact that they do less to bind the executive than submitting to checks from the other branches of government would.

Ben said...

Jacob: Fair enough. But they do bind everybody in the Executive Branch who works under the President...which is the vast majority of the federal government. I can tell you that Executive Orders bind me pretty much the same as a statute. Of course, nothing I do has any bearing on national security.

Jacob said...

Now Ben, do you really expect me to believe you don't spend your lunch breaks torturing enemy combatants in the basement? I know how you guys operate.

Ben said...

Are you implying that I would give up my lunch break to do work? I'm offended by the very thought. Come on, Jacob. I'm a government worker. You should know better!