My Interview With John Cusack on Civil Liberties and Obama

On Huffington Post this week, John Cusack has published an interview with me on the record of the Obama Administration. For full disclosure, John and I grew up together in Chicago and our families have been very close since childhood. With John, I was part of the Piven Theater company with Anne and Joan Cusack (also with Aidan Quinn, Jeremy Piven, Bill Macey, and others involved with the company). John and I continue to discuss politics and philosophy – a regular past time over the holidays for decades over kitchen tables in Evanston and Chicago. In this interview, we shared some of our mutual sense of betrayal by President Obama of core civil liberties in the United States. I have previously written (See e.g., here and here and here) about the harm caused to civil liberties by Obama as well as the harm he has caused to the civil liberties movement. This is also a debate that we have had on this blog over the dilemma facing many civil libertarians voting in this election.

Here is part of our discussion:

Here’s the transcript of the telephone interview I conducted with Turley.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Hi John.

CUSACK: Hello. Okay, hey I was just thinking about all this stuff and thought maybe we’d see what we can do to bring civil liberties and these issues back into the debate for the next couple of months …

TURLEY: I think that’s great.

CUSACK: So, I don’t know how you can believe in the Constitution and violate it that much.

TURLEY: Yeah.

CUSACK: I would just love to know your take as an expert on these things. And then maybe we can speak to whatever you think his motivations would be, and not speak to them in the way that we want to armchair-quarterback like the pundits do about “the game inside the game,” but only do it because it would speak to the arguments that are being used by the left to excuse it. For example, maybe their argument that there are things you can’t know, and it’s a dangerous world out there, or why do you think a constitutional law professor would throw out due process?

TURLEY: Well, there’s a misconception about Barack Obama as a former constitutional law professor. First of all, there are plenty of professors who are “legal relativists.” They tend to view legal principles as relative to whatever they’re trying to achieve. I would certainly put President Obama in the relativist category. Ironically, he shares that distinction with George W. Bush. They both tended to view the law as a means to a particular end — as opposed to the end itself. That’s the fundamental distinction among law professors. Law professors like Obama tend to view the law as one means to an end, and others, like myself, tend to view it as the end itself.

Truth be known President Obama has never been particularly driven by principle. Right after his election, I wrote a column in a few days warning people that even though I voted for Obama, he was not what people were describing him to be. I saw him in the Senate. I saw him in Chicago.

CUSACK: Yeah, so did I.

TURLEY: He was never motivated that much by principle. What he’s motivated by are programs. And to that extent, I like his programs more than Bush’s programs, but Bush and Obama are very much alike when it comes to principles. They simply do not fight for the abstract principles and view them as something quite relative to what they’re trying to accomplish. Thus privacy yields to immunity for telecommunications companies and due process yields to tribunals for terrorism suspects.

CUSACK: Churchill said, “The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.” That wasn’t Eugene Debs speaking — that was Winston Churchill.

And if he takes an oath before God to uphold the Constitution, and yet he decides it’s not politically expedient for him to deal with due process or spying on citizens and has his Attorney General justify murdering US citizens — and then adds a signing statement saying, “Well, I’m not going to do anything with this stuff because I’m a good guy.”– one would think we would have to define this as a much graver threat than good or bad policy choices- correct?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, there’s a great desire of many people to relieve themselves of the obligation to vote on principle. It’s a classic rationalization that liberals have been known to use recently, but not just liberals. The Republican and Democratic parties have accomplished an amazing feat with the red state/blue state paradigm. They’ve convinced everyone that regardless of how bad they are, the other guy is worse. So even with 11 percent of the public supporting Congress most incumbents will be returned to Congress. They have so structured and defined the question that people no longer look at the actual principles and instead vote on this false dichotomy.

Now, belief in human rights law and civil liberties leads one to the uncomfortable conclusion that President Obama has violated his oath to uphold the Constitution. But that’s not the primary question for voters. It is less about him than it is them. They have an obligation to cast their vote in a principled fashion. It is, in my opinion, no excuse to vote for someone who has violated core constitutional rights and civil liberties simply because you believe the other side is no better. You cannot pretend that your vote does not constitute at least a tacit approval of the policies of the candidate.

This is nothing new, of course for civil libertarians who have always been left behind at the altar in elections. We’ve always been the bridesmaid, never the bride. We’re used to politicians lying to us. And President Obama lied to us. There’s no way around that. He promised various things and promptly abandoned those principles.

So the argument that Romney is no better or worse does not excuse the obligation of a voter. With President Obama they have a president who went to the CIA soon after he was elected and promised CIA employees that they would not be investigated or prosecuted for torture, even though he admitted that waterboarding was torture.

CUSACK: I remember when we were working with Arianna at The Huffington Post and we thought, well, has anyone asked whether waterboarding is torture? Has anyone asked Eric Holder that? And so Arianna had Sam Seder ask him that at a press conference, and then he had to admit that it was. And then the next question, of course, was, well, if it is a crime, are you going to prosecute the law? But, of course, it wasn’t politically expedient to do so, right? That’s inherent in their non-answer and inaction?

TURLEY: That’s right.

CUSACK: Have you ever heard a more specious argument than “It’s time for us all to move on?” When did the Attorney General or the President have the option to enforce the law?

TURLEY: Well, that’s the key question that nobody wants to ask. We have a treaty, actually a number of treaties, that obligate us to investigate and prosecute torture. We pushed through those treaties because we wanted to make clear that no matter what the expediency of the moment, no matter whether it was convenient or inconvenient, all nations had to agree to investigate and prosecute torture and other war crimes.

And the whole reason for putting this in the treaties was to do precisely the opposite of what the Obama administration has done. That is, in these treaties they say that it is not a defense that prosecution would be inconvenient or unpopular. But that’s exactly what President Obama said when he announced, “I won’t allow the prosecution of torture because I want us to look to the future and not the past.” That is simply a rhetorical flourish to hide the obvious point: “I don’t want the inconvenience and the unpopularity that would come with enforcing this treaty.”

CUSACK: Right. So, in that sense, the Bush administration had set the precedent that the state can do anything it likes in the name of terror, and not only has Obama let that cement harden, but he’s actually expanded the power of the executive branch to do whatever it wants, or he’s lowered the bar — he’s lowered the law — to meet his convenience. He’s lowered the law to meet his personal political convenience rather than leaving it as something that, as Mario Cuomo said, the law is supposed to be better than us.

TURLEY: That’s exactly right. In fact, President Obama has not only maintained the position of George W. Bush in the area of national securities and in civil liberties, he’s actually expanded on those positions. He is actually worse than George Bush in some areas.

CUSACK: Can you speak to which ones?

TURLEY: Well, a good example of it is that President Bush ordered the killing of an American citizen when he approved a drone strike on a car in Yemen that he knew contained an American citizen as a passenger. Many of us at the time said, “You just effectively ordered the death of an American citizen in order to kill someone else, and where exactly do you have that authority?” But they made an argument that because the citizen wasn’t the primary target, he was just collateral damage. And there are many that believe that that is a plausible argument.

CUSACK: By the way, we’re forgetting to kill even a foreign citizen is against the law. I hate to be so quaint…

TURLEY: Well, President Obama outdid President Bush. He ordered the killing of two US citizens as the primary targets and has then gone forward and put out a policy that allows him to kill any American citizen when he unilaterally determines them to be a terrorist threat. Where President Bush had a citizen killed as collateral damage, President Obama has actually a formal policy allowing him to kill any US citizen.

CUSACK: But yet the speech that Eric Holder gave was greeted generally, by those others than civil libertarians and a few people on the left with some intellectual honesty, with polite applause and a stunning silence and then more cocktail parties and state dinners and dignitaries, back the Republican Hypocrisy Hour on the evening feed — and he basically gave a speech saying that the executive can assassinate US citizens.

TURLEY: That was the truly other-worldly moment of the speech. He went to, Northwestern Law School (my alma mater), and stood there and articulated the most authoritarian policy that a government can have: the right to unilaterally kill its citizens without any court order or review. The response from the audience was applause. Citizens applauding an Attorney General who just described how the President was claiming the right to kill any of them on his sole inherent authority.

CUSACK: Does that order have to come directly from Obama, or can his underlings carry that out on his behalf as part of a generalized understanding? Or does he have to personally say, “You can get that guy and that guy?”

TURLEY: Well, he has delegated the authority to the so-called death panel, which is, of course, hilarious, since the Republicans keep talking about a nonexistent death panel in national healthcare. We actually do have a death panel, and it’s killing people who are healthy.

CUSACK: I think you just gave me the idea for my next film. And the tone will be, of course, Kafkaesque.

TURLEY: It really is.

CUSACK: You’re at the bottom of the barrel when the Attorney General is saying that not only can you hold people in prison for no charge without due process, but we can kill the citizens that “we” deem terrorists. But “we” won’t do it cause we’re the good guys remember?

TURLEY: Well, the way that this works is you have this unseen panel. Of course, their proceedings are completely secret. The people who are put on the hit list are not informed, obviously.

CUSACK: That’s just not polite, is it?

TURLEY: No, it’s not. The first time you’re informed that you’re on this list is when your car explodes, and that doesn’t allow much time for due process. But the thing about the Obama administration is that it is far more premeditated and sophisticated in claiming authoritarian powers. Bush tended to shoot from the hip — he tended to do these things largely on the edges. In contrast, Obama has openly embraced these powers and created formal measures, an actual process for killing US citizens. He has used the terminology of the law to seek to legitimate an extrajudicial killing.

CUSACK: Yeah, bringing the law down to meet his political realism, his constitutional realism, which is that the Constitution is just a means to an end politically for him, so if it’s inconvenient for him to deal with due process or if it’s inconvenient for him to deal with torture, well, then why should he do that? He’s a busy man. The Constitution is just another document to be used in a political fashion, right?

TURLEY: Indeed. I heard from people in the administration after I wrote a column a couple weeks ago about the assassination policy. And they basically said, “Look, you’re not giving us our due. Holder said in the speech that we are following a constitutional analysis. And we have standards that we apply.” It is an incredibly seductive argument, but there is an incredible intellectual disconnect. Whatever they are doing, it can’t be called a constitutional process.

Obama has asserted the right to kill any citizen that he believes is a terrorist. He is not bound by this panel that only exists as an extension of his claimed inherent absolute authority. He can ignore them. He can circumvent them. In the end, with or without a panel, a president is unilaterally killing a US citizen. This is exactly what the framers of the Constitution told us not to do.

CUSACK: The framers didn’t say, “In special cases, do what you like. When there are things the public cannot know for their own good, when it’s extra-specially a dangerous world… do whatever you want.” The framers of the Constitution always knew there would be extraordinary circumstances, and they were accounted for in the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow for the executive to redefine the Constitution when it will be politically easier for him to get things done.

TURLEY: No. And it’s preposterous to argue that.

CUSACK: When does it become — criminal?

TURLEY: Well, the framers knew what it was like to have sovereigns kill citizens without due process. They did it all the time back in the 18th century. They wrote a constitution specifically to bar unilateral authority.

James Madison is often quoted for his observation that if all men were angels, no government would be necessary. And what he was saying is that you have to create a system of law that has checks and balances so that even imperfect human beings are restrained from doing much harm. Madison and other framers did not want to rely on the promises of good motivations or good intents from the government. They created a system where no branch had enough authority to govern alone — a system of shared and balanced powers.

So what Obama’s doing is to rewrite the most fundamental principle of the US Constitution. The whole point of the Holder speech was that we’re really good guys who take this seriously, and you can trust us. That’s exactly the argument the framers rejected, the “trust me” principle of government. You’ll notice when Romney was asked about this, he said, “I would’ve signed the same law, because I trust Obama to do the right thing.” They’re both using the very argument that the framers warned citizens never to accept from their government.

CUSACK: So basically, it comes down to, again, just political expediency and aesthetics. So as long as we have friendly aesthetics and likable people, we can do whatever we want. Who cares what the policy is or the implications for the future.

TURLEY: The greatest problem is what it has done to us and what our relative silence signifies. Liberals and civil libertarians have lost their own credibility, their own moral standing, with the support of President Obama. For many civil libertarians it is impossible to vote for someone who has blocked the prosecution of war crimes. That’s where you cross the Rubicon for most civil libertarians. That was a turning point for many who simply cannot to vote for someone who is accused of that type of violation.

Under international law, shielding people from war-crime prosecutions is itself a form of war crime. They’re both violations of international law. Notably, when the Spanish moved to investigate our torture program, we now know that the Obama administration threatened the Spanish courts and the Spanish government that they better not enforce the treaty against the US This was a real threat to the Administration because these treaties allow other nations to step forward when another nation refuses to uphold the treaty. If a government does not investigate and prosecute its own accused war criminals, then other countries have the right to do so. That rule was, again, of our own creation. With other leading national we have long asserted the right to prosecute people in other countries who are shielded or protected by their own countries.

CUSACK: Didn’t Spain pull somebody out of Chile under that?

TURLEY: Yeah, Pinochet.

CUSACK: Yeah, also our guy…

TURLEY: The great irony of all this is that we’re the architect of that international process. We’re the one that always pushed for the position that no government could block war crimes prosecution.

But that’s not all. The Obama administration has also outdone the Bush administration in other areas. For example, one of the most important international principles to come out of World War II was the rejection of the “just following orders” defense. We were the country that led the world in saying that defendants brought before Nuremberg could not base their defense on the fact that they were just following orders. After Nuremberg, there were decades of development of this principle. It’s a very important point, because that defense, if it is allowed, would shield most people accused of torture and war crime. So when the Obama administration –

CUSACK: That also parallels into the idea that the National Defense Authorization Act is using its powers not only to put a chilling effect on whistleblowers, but to also make it illegal for whistleblowers to bring the truth out. Am I right on that, or is that an overstatement?

TURLEY: Well, the biggest problem is that when the administration was fishing around for some way to justify not doing the right thing and not prosecuting torture, they finally released a document that said that CIA personnel and even some DOJ lawyers were “just following orders,” but particularly CIA personnel.

The reason Obama promised them that none of them would be prosecuted is he said that they were just following the orders of higher authority in the government. That position gutted Nuremberg. Many lawyers around the world are upset because the US under the Obama administration has torn the heart out of Nuremberg. Just think of the implications: other countries that are accused of torture can shield their people and say, “Yeah, this guy was a torturer. This guy ordered a war crime. But they were all just following orders. And the guy that gave them the order, he’s dead.” It is the classic defense of war criminals. Now it is a viable defense again because of the Obama administration.

CUSACK: Yeah.

TURLEY: Certainly part of the problem is how the news media –

CUSACK: Oscar Wilde said most journalists would fall under the category of those who couldn’t tell the difference between a bicycle accident and the end of civilization. But why is it that all the journalists that you see mostly on MSNBC or most of the progressives, or so-called progressives, who believe that under Bush and Cheney and Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez these were great and grave constitutional crises, the wars were an ongoing moral fiasco — but now, since we have a friendly face in the White House, someone with kind of pleasing aesthetics and some new policies we like, now all of a sudden these aren’t crimes, there’s no crisis. Because he’s our guy? Go, team, go?

TURLEY: Some in the media have certainly fallen into this cult of personality.

CUSACK: What would you say to those people? I always thought the duty of a citizen, and even more so as a journalist, had greatly to do with the idea that intellectual honesty was much more important than political loyalty. How would you compare Alberto Gonzalez to Eric Holder?

TURLEY: Oh, Eric Holder is smarter than Gonzalez, but I see no other difference in terms of how they’ve conducted themselves. Both of these men are highly political. Holder was accused of being improperly political during his time in the Clinton administration. When he was up for Attorney General, he had to promise the Senate that he would not repeat some of the mistakes he made in the Clinton administration over things like the pardon scandal, where he was accused of being more politically than legally motivated.

In this town, Holder is viewed as much more of a political than a legal figure, and the same thing with Gonzalez. Bush and Obama both selected Attorney Generals who would do what they wanted them to do, who would enable them by saying that no principles stood in the way of what they wanted to do. More importantly, that there were no principles requiring them to do something they didn’t want to do, like investigate torture.

CUSACK: So would you say this assassination issue, or the speech and the clause in the NDAA and this signing statement that was attached, was equivalent to John Yoo’s torture document?

TURLEY: Oh, I think it’s amazing. It is astonishing the dishonesty that preceded and followed its passage. Before passage, the administration told the public that the president was upset about the lack of an exception for citizens and that he was ready to veto the bill if there was a lack of such an exception. Then, in an unguarded moment, Senator Levin was speaking to another Democratic senator who was objecting to the fact that citizens could be assassinated under this provision, and Levin said, “I don’t know if my colleague is aware that the exception language was removed at the request of the White House.” Many of us just fell out of our chairs. It was a relatively rare moment on the Senate floor, unguarded and unscripted.

CUSACK: And finally simple.

TURLEY: Yes. So we were basically lied to. I think that the administration was really caught unprepared by that rare moment of honesty, and that led ultimately to his pledge not to use the power to assassinate against citizens. But that pledge is meaningless. Having a president say, “I won’t use a power given to me” is the most dangerous of assurances, because a promise is not worth anything.

CUSACK: Yeah, I would say it’s the coldest comfort there is.

TURLEY: Yes. This brings us back to the media and the failure to strip away the rhetoric around these policies. It was certainly easier in the Bush administration, because you had more clown-like figures like Alberto Gonzalez. The problem is that the media has tended to get thinner and thinner in terms of analysis. The best example is that about the use of the term “coerced or enhanced interrogation.” I often stop reporters when they use these terms in questions. I say, “I’m not too sure what you mean, because waterboarding is not enhanced interrogation.” That was a myth put out by the Bush administration. Virtually no one in the field used that term, because courts in the United States and around the world consistently said that waterboarding’s torture. Holder admitted that waterboarding’s torture. Obama admitted that waterboarding is torture. Even members of the Bush administration ultimately admitted that waterboarding’s torture. The Bush Administration pushed this term to get reporters to drop the word torture and it worked. They are still using the term.

Look at the articles and the coverage. They uniformly say “enhanced interrogation.” Why? Because it’s easier. They want to avoid the controversy. Because if they say “torture,” it makes the story much more difficult. If you say, “Today the Senate was looking into a program to torture detainees,” there’s a requirement that you get a little more into the fact that we’re not supposed to be torturing people.

CUSACK: So, from a civil liberties perspective, ravens are circling the White House, even though there’s a friendly man in it.

TURLEY: Yeah.

CUSACK: I hate to speak too much to motivation, but why do you think MSNBC and other so-called centrist or left outlets won’t bring up any of these things? These issues were broadcast and reported on nightly when John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez and Bush were in office.

TURLEY: Well, there is no question that some at MSNBC have backed away from these issues, although occasionally you’ll see people talk about –

CUSACK: I think that’s being kind, don’t you? More like “abandoned.”

TURLEY: Yeah. The civil liberties perspective is rarely given more than a passing reference while national security concerns are explored in depth. Fox is viewed as protective of Bush while MSNBC is viewed as protective of Obama. But both presidents are guilty of the same violations. There are relatively few journalists willing to pursue these questions aggressively and objectively, particularly on television. And so the result is that the public is hearing a script written by the government that downplays these principles. They don’t hear the word “torture.”

They hear “enhanced interrogation.” They don’t hear much about the treaties. They don’t hear about the international condemnation of the United States. Most Americans are unaware of how far we have moved away from Nuremberg and core principles of international law.

CUSACK: So the surreal Holder speech — how could it be that no one would be reporting on that? How could it be that has gone by with not a bang but a whimper?

TURLEY: Well, you know, part of it, John, I think, is that this administration is very clever. First of all, they clearly made the decision right after the election to tack heavily to the right on national security issues. We know that by the people they put on the National Security Council. They went and got very hardcore folks — people who are quite unpopular with civil libertarians. Not surprisingly we almost immediately started to hear things like the pledge not to prosecute CIA officials and other Bush policies being continued.

Many reporters buy into these escape clauses that the administration gives them, this is where I think the administration is quite clever. From a legal perspective, the Holder speech should have been exposed as perfect nonsense. If you’re a constitutional scholar, what he was talking about is facially ridiculous, because he was saying that we do have a constitutional process–it’s just self-imposed, and we’re the only ones who can review it. They created a process of their own and then pledged to remain faithful to it.

While that should be a transparent and absurd position, it gave an out for journalists to say, “Well, you know, the administration’s promising that there is a process, it’s just not the court process.” That’s what is so clever, and why the Obama administration has been far more successful than the Bush administration in rolling back core rights. The Bush administration would basically say, “We just vaporized a citizen in a car with a terrorist, and we’re not sorry for it.”

CUSACK: Well, yeah, the Bush administration basically said, “We may have committed a crime, but we’re the government, so what the fuck are you going to do about it?” Right? —and the Obama administration is saying, “We’re going to set this all in cement, expand the power of the executive, and pass the buck to the next guy.” Is that it?

TURLEY: It’s the same type of argument when people used to say when they caught a criminal and hung him from a tree after a perfunctory five-minute trial. In those days, there was an attempt to pretend that they are really not a lynch mob, they were following a legal process of their making and their satisfaction. It’s just… it’s expedited. Well, in some ways, the administration is arguing the same thing. They’re saying, “Yes, we do believe that we can kill any US citizen, but we’re going to talk amongst ourselves about this, and we’re not going to do it until we’re satisfied that this guy is guilty.”

CUSACK: Me and the nameless death panel.

TURLEY: Again, the death panel is ludicrous. The power that they’ve defined derives from the president’s role as Commander in Chief. So this panel –

CUSACK: They’re falling back on executive privilege, the same as Nixon and Bush.

TURLEY: Right, it’s an extension of the president. He could just ignore it. It’s not like they have any power that exceeds his own.

CUSACK: So the death panel serves at the pleasure of the king, is what you’re saying.

TURLEY: Yes, and it gives him cover so that they can claim that they’re doing something legal when they’re doing something extra-legal.

CUSACK: Well, illegal, right?

TURLEY: Right. Outside the law.

CUSACK: So when does it get to a point where if you abdicate duty, it is in and of itself a crime? Obama is essentially creating a constitutional crisis not by committing crimes but by abdicating his oath that he swore before God — is that not a crime?

TURLEY: Well, he is violating international law over things like his promise to protect CIA officials from any prosecution for torture. That’s a direct violation, which makes our country as a whole doubly guilty for alleged war crimes. I know many of the people in the administration. Some of us were quite close. And they’re very smart people. I think that they also realize how far outside the lines they are. That’s the reason they are trying to draft up these policies to give the appearance of the law. It’s like a Potemkin village constructed as a façade for people to pass through –

CUSACK: They want to have a legal patina.

TURLEY: Right, and so they create this Potemkin village using names. You certainly can put the name “due process” on a drone missile, but it’s not delivering due process.

CUSACK: Yeah. And what about — well, we haven’t even gotten into the expansion of the privatization movement of the military “contractors” under George Bush or the escalation of drone strikes. I mean, who are they killing? Is it legal? Does anyone care — have we just given up as a country, saying that the Congress can declare war?

TURLEY: We appear to be in a sort of a free-fall. We have what used to be called an “imperial presidency.”

CUSACK: Obama is far more of an imperial president than Bush in many ways, wouldn’t you say?

TURLEY: Oh, President Obama has created an imperial presidency that would have made Richard Nixon blush. It is unbelievable.

CUSACK: And to say these things, most of the liberal community or the progressive community would say, “Turley and Cusack have lost their minds. What do they want? They want Mitt Romney to come in?”

TURLEY: The question is, “What has all of your relativistic voting and support done for you?” That is, certainly there are many people who believe –

CUSACK: Well, some of the people will say the bread-and-butter issues, “I got healthcare coverage, I got expanded healthcare coverage.”

TURLEY: See, that’s what I find really interesting. When I talk to people who support the administration, they usually agree with me that torture is a war crime and that the administration has blocked the investigation of alleged war crimes.

Then I ask them, “Then, morally, are you comfortable with saying, ‘I know the administration is concealing war crimes, but they’re really good on healthcare?'” That is what it comes down to.

The question for people to struggle with is how we ever hope to regain our moral standing and our high ground unless citizens are prepared to say, “Enough.” And this is really the election where that might actually carry some weight — if people said, “Enough. We’re not going to blindly support the president and be played anymore according to this blue state/red state paradigm. We’re going to reconstruct instead of replicate. It might not even be a reinvented Democratic Party in the end that is a viable option. Civil libertarians are going to stand apart so that people like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama and others know that there are certain Rubicon issues that you cannot cross, and one of them happens to be civil liberty.

CUSACK: Yeah, because most people reading this will sort of say, “Okay, this is all fine and good, but I’ve got to get to work and I’ve got stuff to do and I don’t know what these fucking guys are talking about. I don’t really care.”

So let’s paint a scenario. My nephew, Miles, decides that he wants to grow dreadlocks, and he also decides he’s falling in love with the religion of Islam. And he changes his name. Instead of his name being Miles, he changes his name to a Muslim-sounding name.

He goes to Washington, and he goes to the wrong organization or meeting, let’s say, and he goes to an Occupy Washington protest. He’s out there next to someone with a speaker, and a car bomb explodes. He didn’t set it off, and he didn’t do anything. The government can throw him in prison and never try him, right?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, that’s a very good question.

CUSACK: How do we illustrate the danger to normal people of these massive overreaches and radical changes to the Constitution that started under bush and have expanded under Obama?

TURLEY: I mean, first of all, I know Miles, and –

CUSACK: Yes.

TURLEY: –and he is a little dangerous.

CUSACK: Yes.

TURLEY: I played basketball with him and you and I would describe him as a clear and present danger.

CUSACK: I mean, and I know Eric Holder and Obama won’t throw him in prison because they’re nice guys, but let’s say that they’re out of office.

TURLEY: Right, and the problem is that there is no guarantee. It has become almost Fellini-esque. Holder made the announcement a couple of years ago that they would try some defendants in a federal court while reserving military tribunals for others. The speech started out on the high ground, saying, “We have to believe in our federal courts and our Constitution. We’ve tried terrorists before, and therefore we’re transferring these individuals to federal court.”

Then he said, “But we’re going to transfer these other individuals to Guantanamo Bay.” What was missing was any type of principle. You have Obama doing the same thing that George Bush did — sitting there like Caesar and saying, “You get a real trial and you get a fake trial.” He sent Zacarias Moussaoui to a federal court and then he threw Jose Padilla, who happened to be a US citizen, into the Navy brig and held him without trial.

Yet, Obama and Holder publicly assert that they’re somehow making a civil liberties point, and say, “We’re very proud of the fact that we have the courage to hold these people for a real trial, except for those people. Those people are going to get a tribunal.” And what happened after that was remarkable. If you read the press accounts, the press actually credits the administration with doing the right thing. Most of them pushed into the last paragraph the fact that all they did was split the people on the table, and half got a real trial and half got a fake trial.

CUSACK: In the same way, the demonization, whether rightful demonization, of Osama Bin Laden was so intense that people were thrilled that he was assassinated instead of brought to trial and tried. And I thought, if the Nuremberg principles were right, the idea would be that you’d want to take this guy and put him on trial in front of the entire world, and, actually, if you were going to put him to death, you’d put him to death by lethal injection.

TURLEY: You’ll recall reports came out that the Seals were told to kill Osama, and then reports came out to say that Osama might not have been armed when the Seals came in. The strong indication was that this was a hit.

CUSACK: Yeah.

TURLEY: The accounts suggest that this was an assassination from the beginning to the end, and that was largely brushed over in the media. There was never really any discussion of whether it was appropriate or even a good idea not to capture this guy and to bring him to justice.

The other thing that was not discussed in most newspapers and programs was the fact that we violated international law. Pakistan insisted that they never approved our going into Pakistan. Think about it — if the government of Mexico sent in Mexican special forces into San Diego and captured a Mexican national, or maybe even an American citizen, and then killed him, could you imagine what the outcry would be?

CUSACK: Or somebody from a Middle Eastern country who had their kids blown up by Mr. Cheney’s and Bush’s wars came in and decided they were going to take out Cheney–not take him back to try him, but actually just come in and assassinate him.

TURLEY: Yet we didn’t even have that debate. And I think that goes to your point, John, about where’s the media?

CUSACK: But, see, that’s a very tough principle to take, because everybody feels so rightfully loathsome about Bin Laden, right? But principles are not meant to be convenient, right? The Constitution is not meant to be convenient. If they can catch Adolf Eichmann and put him on trial, why not bin Laden? The principles are what separate us from the beasts.

I think the best answer I ever heard about this stuff, besides sitting around a kitchen table with you and your father and my father, was I heard somebody, they asked Mario Cuomo, “You don’t support the death penalty…? Would you for someone who raped your wife?” And Cuomo blinked, and he looked at him, and he said, “What would I do? Well, I’d take a baseball bat and I’d bash his skull in… But I don’t matter. The law is better than me. The law is supposed to be better than me. That’s the whole point.”

TURLEY: Right. It is one thing if the president argued that there was no opportunity to capture bin Laden because he was in a moving car, for example. And then some people could say, “Well, they took him out because there was no way they could use anything but a missile.” What’s missing in the debate is that it was quickly brushed over whether we had the ability to capture bin Laden.

CUSACK: Well, it gets to [the late] Raiders owner Al Davis’ justice, which is basically, “Just win, baby.” And that’s where we are. The Constitution was framed by Al Davis. I never knew that.

And the sad part for me is that all the conversations and these interpretations and these conveniences, if they had followed the Constitution, and if they had been strict in terms of their interpretations, it wouldn’t matter one bit in effectively handling the war on terror or protecting Americans, because there wasn’t anything extra accomplished materially in taking these extra leaps, other than to make it easier for them to play cowboy and not cede national security to the Republicans politically. Bin Laden was basically ineffective. And our overseas intel people were already all over these guys.

It doesn’t really matter. The only thing that’s been hurt here has been us and the Constitution and any moral high ground we used to have. Because Obama and Holder are good guys, it’s okay. But what happens when the not-so-good guys come in, does MSNBC really want to cede and grandfather these powers to Gingrich or Romney or Ryan or Santorum or whomever — and then we’re sitting around looking at each other, like how did this happen? — the same way we look around now and say, “How the hell did the middle of America lose the American dream? How is all of this stuff happening at the same time?” And it gets back to lack of principle.

TURLEY: I think that’s right. Remember the articles during the torture debate? I kept on getting calls from reporters saying, “Well, you know, the administration has come out with an interesting statement. They said that it appears that they might’ve gotten something positive from torturing these people.” Yet you’ve had other officials say that they got garbage, which is what you often get from torture…

CUSACK: So the argument being that if we can get good information, we should torture?

TURLEY: Exactly. Yeah, that’s what I ask them. I say, “So, first of all, let’s remember, torture is a war crime. So what you’re saying is — ”

CUSACK: Well, war crimes… war crimes are effective.

TURLEY: The thing that amazes me is that you have smart people like reporters who buy so readily into this. I truly believe that they’re earnest when they say this.

Of course you ask them “Well, does that mean that the Nuremberg principles don’t apply as long as you can show some productive use?” We have treaty provisions that expressly rule out justifying torture on the basis that it was used to gain useful information.

CUSACK: Look, I mean, enforced slave labor has some productive use. You get great productivity, you get great output from that shit. You’re not measuring the principle against the potential outcome; that’s a bad business model. “Just win, baby” — we’re supposed to be above that.

TURLEY: But, you know, I’ll give you an example. I had one of the leading investigative journalists email me after one of my columns blasting the administration on the assassin list, and this is someone I deeply respect. He’s one of the true great investigative reporters. He objected to the fact that my column said that under the Obama policy he could kill US citizens not just abroad, but could kill them in the United States. And he said, “You know, I agree with everything in your column except that.” He said, “You know, they’ve never said that they could kill someone in the United States. I think that you are exaggerating.”

Yet, if you look at how they define the power, it is based on the mere perceived practicality and necessity of legal process by the president. They say the President has unilateral power to assassinate a citizen that he believes is a terrorist. Now, is the limiting principle? They argue that they do this “constitutional analysis,” and they only kill a citizen when it’s not practical to arrest the person.

CUSACK: Is that with the death panel?

TURLEY: Well, yeah, he’s talking about the death panel. Yet, he can ignore the death panel. But, more importantly, what does practicality mean? It all comes down to an unchecked presidential power.

CUSACK: By the way, the death panel — that room can’t be a fun room to go into, just make the decision on your own. You know, it’s probably a gloomy place, the death panel room, so the argument from the reporter was, “Look, they can… if they kill people in England or Paris that’s okay, but they — ”

TURLEY: I also don’t understand, why would it make sense that you could kill a US citizen on the streets of London but you might not be able to kill them on the streets of Las Vegas? The question is where the limiting principle comes from or is that just simply one more of these self-imposed rules? And that’s what they really are saying: we have these self-imposed rules that we’re only going to do this when we think we have to.

CUSACK: So, if somebody can use the contra-Nuremberg argument — that principle’s now been flipped, that they were only following orders — does that mean that the person that issued the order through Obama, or the President himself, is responsible and can be brought up on a war crime charge?

TURLEY: Well, under international law, Obama is subject to international law in terms of ordering any defined war crime.

CUSACK: Would he have to give his Nobel Peace Prize back?

TURLEY: I don’t think that thing’s going back. I’ve got to tell you… and given the amount of authority he’s claimed, I don’t know if anyone would have the guts to ask for it back.

CUSACK: And the argument people are going to use is,”Look, Obama and Holder are good guys. They’re not going to use this power.” But the point is, what about after them? What about the apparatchiks? You’ve unleashed the beast. And precedent is everything constitutionally, isn’t it?

TURLEY: I think that’s right. Basically what they’re arguing is, “We’re angels,” and that’s exactly what Madison warned against. As we discussed, he said if all men were angels you wouldn’t need government. And what the administration is saying is, “We’re angels, so trust us.”

I think that what is really telling is the disconnect between what people say about our country and what our country has become. What we’ve lost under Bush and Obama is clarity. In the “war on terror” what we’ve lost is what we need the most in fighting terrorism: clarity. We need the clarity of being better than the people that we are fighting against. Instead, we’ve given propagandists in Al Qaeda or the Taliban an endless supply of material — allowing them to denounce us as hypocrites.

Soon after 9/11 we started government officials talk about how the US Constitution is making us weaker, how we can’t function by giving people due process. And it was perfectly ridiculous.

CUSACK: Feels more grotesque than ridiculous.

TURLEY: Yeah, all the reports that came out after 9/11 showed that 9/11 could’ve been avoided. For years people argued that we should have locked reinforced cockpit doors. For years people talked about the gaps in security at airports. We had the intelligence services that had the intelligence that they needed to move against this ring, and they didn’t share the information. So we have this long list of failures by US agencies, and the result was that we increased their budget and gave them more unchecked authority.

In the end, we have to be as good as we claim. We can’t just talk a good game. If you look at this country in terms of what we’ve done, we have violated the Nuremberg principles, we have violated international treaties, we have refused to accept–

CUSACK: And you’re not just talking about in the Bush administration. You’re talking about –

TURLEY: The Obama administration.

CUSACK: You’re talking about right now.

TURLEY: We have refused to accept the jurisdictional authority of sovereign countries. We now routinely kill in other countries. It is American exceptionalism – the rules apply to other countries.

CUSACK: Well, these drone attacks in Pakistan, are they legal? Does anyone care? Who are we killing? Do they deserve due process?

TURLEY: When we cross the border, Americans disregard the fact that Pakistan is a sovereign nation, let alone an ally, and they insist that they have not agreed to these operations. They have accused us of repeatedly killing people in their country by violating their sovereign airspace. And we just disregard it. Again, its American exceptionalism, that we –

CUSACK: Get out of our way or we’ll pulverize you.

TURLEY: The rules apply to everyone else. So the treaties against torture and war crimes, sovereign integrity –

CUSACK: And this also speaks to the question that nobody even bothers to ask: what exactly are we doing in Afghanistan now? Why are we there?

TURLEY: Oh, yeah, that’s the real tragedy.

CUSACK: It has the highest recorded suicide rate among veterans in history and no one even bothers to state a pretense of a definable mission or goal. It appears we’re there because it’s not convenient for him to really get out before the election. So in that sense he’s another guy who’s letting people die in some shithole for purely political reasons. I mean, it is what it is.

TURLEY: I’m afraid, it is a political calculation. What I find amazing is that we’re supporting an unbelievably corrupt government in the Karzai administration.

Karzai himself, just two days ago, called Americans “demons.” He previously said that he wished he had gone with the Taliban rather than the Americans. And, more importantly, his government recently announced that women are worth less than men, and he has started to implement these religious edicts that are subjugating women. So he has American women who are protecting his life while he’s on television telling people that women are worth less than men, and we’re funding –

CUSACK: What are they, about three-fifths?

TURLEY: Yeah, he wasn’t very specific on that point. So we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars. More importantly, we’re losing all these lives because it was simply politically inconvenient to be able to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

CUSACK: Yeah. And, I mean, we haven’t even touched on the whole privatization of the military and what that means. What does it mean for the state to be funding at-cost-plus private mercenary armies and private mercenary security forces like Blackwater, or now their names are Xe, or whatever they’ve been rebranded as?

TURLEY: Well, the United States has barred various international rules because they would allow for the prosecution of war crimes by both military and private forces. The US barred those new rules because we didn’t want the ability of other countries to prosecute our people for war crimes. One of the things I teach in my constitutional class is that there is a need for what’s called a bright-line rule. That is, the value for bright-line rules is that they structure relations between the branches, between the government and citizens. Bright-line rules protect freedom and liberty. Those people that try to eliminate bright-line rules quickly find themselves on a slippery slope. The Obama administration, with the Bush administration, began by denying rights to people at Guantanamo Bay.

And then they started to deny rights of foreigners who they accused of being terrorists. And eventually, just recently, they started denying rights to citizens and saying that they could kill citizens without any court order or review. It is the fulfillment of what is the nightmare of civil liberties. They crossed that bright line. Now they’re bringing these same abuses to US citizens and changing how we relate to our government. In the end, we have this huge apparatus of the legal system, this huge court system, and all of it has become discretionary because the president can go ahead and kill US citizens if he feels that it’s simply inconvenient or impractical to bring them to justice.

CUSACK: Or if the great O, decides that he wants to be lenient and just throw them in jail for the rest of their life without trial, he can do that, right?

TURLEY: Well, you’ve got Guantanamo Bay if you’re accused of being an enemy combatant. There is the concept in law that the lesser is included in the greater.

So if the president can kill me when I’m in London, then the lesser of that greater is that he could also hold me, presumably, without having any court involvement. It’d be a little bizarre that he could kill me but if he held me he’d have to turn me over to the court system.

CUSACK: Yeah. We’re getting into kind of Kafka territory. You know, with Bush I always felt like you were at one of those rides in an amusement park where the floor kept dropping and you kept kind of falling. But I think what Obama’s done is we’ve really hit the bottom as far as civil liberties go.

TURLEY: Yet people have greeted this erosion of civil liberties with this collective yawn.

CUSACK: Yeah, yeah. And so then it gets down to the question, “Well, are you going to vote for Obama?” And I say, “Well, I don’t really know. I couldn’t really vote for Hillary Clinton because of her Iraq War vote.” Because I felt like that was a line, a Rubicon line –

TURLEY: Right.

CUSACK: — a Rubicon line that I couldn’t cross, right? I don’t know how to bring myself to vote for a constitutional law professor, or even a constitutional realist, who throws away due process and claims the authority that the executive branch can assassinate American citizens. I just don’t know if I can bring myself to do it.

If you want to make a protest vote against Romney, go ahead, but I would think we’d be better putting our energies into local and state politics — occupy Wall Street and organizations and movements outside the system, not national politics, not personalities. Not stadium rock politics. Not brands. That’s the only thing I can think of. What would you say?

TURLEY: Well, the question, I think, that people have got to ask themselves when they get into that booth is not what Obama has become, but what have we become? That is, what’s left of our values if we vote for a person that we believe has shielded war crimes or violated due process or implemented authoritarian powers. It’s not enough to say, “Yeah, he did all those things, but I really like what he did with the National Park System.”

CUSACK: Yeah, or that he did a good job with the auto bailout.

TURLEY: Right. I think that people have to accept that they own this decision, that they can walk away. I realize that this is a tough decision for people but maybe, if enough people walked away, we could finally galvanize people into action to make serious changes. We have to recognize that our political system is fundamentally broken, it’s unresponsive. Only 11 percent of the public supports Congress, and yet nothing is changing — and so the question becomes, how do you jumpstart that system? How do you create an alternative? What we have learned from past elections is that you don’t create an alternative by yielding to this false dichotomy that only reinforces their monopoly on power.

CUSACK: I think that even Howard Zinn/Chomsky progressives, would admit that there will be a difference in domestic policy between Obama and a Romney presidency.

But DUE PROCESS….I think about how we own it. We own it. Everybody’s sort of let it slip. There’s no immediacy in the day-to-day on and it’s just one of those things that unless they… when they start pulling kids off the street, like they did in Argentina a few years ago and other places, all of a sudden, it’s like, “How the hell did that happen?” I say, “Look, you’re not helping Obama by enabling him. If you want to help him, hold his feet to the fire.”

TURLEY: Exactly.

CUSACK: The problem is, as I see it, is that regardless of goodwill and intent and people being tired of the status quo and everything else, the information outlets and the powers that be reconstruct or construct the government narrative only as an election game of ‘us versus them,’ Obama versus Romney, and if you do anything that will compromise that equation, you are picking one side versus the other. Because don’t you realize that’s going to hurt Obama? Don’t you know that’s going to help Obama? Don’t you know… and they’re not thinking through their own sort of self-interest or the community’s interest in just changing the way that this whole thing works to the benefit of the majority. We used to have some lines we wouldn’t cross–some people who said this is not what this country does …we don’t do this shit, you had to do the right thing. So it’s going to be a tough process getting our rights back, but you know Frankie’s Law? Whoever stops fighting first – loses.

TURLEY: Right.

Source: Truth Out

348 thoughts on “My Interview With John Cusack on Civil Liberties and Obama

  1. It’s been a very long time since any political piece has drawn me to read ALL of it. This piece did that. Thanks for the perspective.

  2. Elementary ques: If we re-elect PBO (I admit I’m caught in the “He’s better/worse than the other guy” debacle) aren’t our chances for holding his (Obama’s) feet to the fire than Romney/GOP/Koch Admin? I believe we would immediately, absolutely and completely lose our votes/voice all remaining rights under a GOP Admin….I believe our best chance to reverse damage is via an Obama Admin-But isn’t that when We, the People typically yawn and walk away? When the “real peoples work” begins? As we did in 2009?
    I believe “we, the people”, for our failure to be involved must also bear at a minimum, some responsibility. It is we who sit back and wait for democracy to come To us, to have “it” served to us-rather than creating it? It’s not just MSM that fails to ask questions-it is also “us”.
    Excellent read, btw-You make me think :)

  3. Fredamae,

    That’s insightful….. The prof will give you the tools….. It’s up to you to decide how best to use them…..

  4. What a great post that has the regulars here squirming!

    I remember clearly after the Holder speech informing folks like Mike Spindell, Swarthmore Mom, Elaine M. & M. Esposito that it’s impossible to conceive of Turley voting for Obama in 2012 and anybody who still doubts it ought to re-read this article.

    Nope. Turley, Gene H., myself, and 80 million other eligible voters will either be abstaining from this presidential election or voting for a 3rd party or write-in candidate.

    The great irony of course is that so many of the professor’s followers possess political sophistication & instincts completely alien to this blog’s founder.

  5. Fredamae,

    Whether it is Obama or Romney, you will lose all of your rights.

    The question is, do you prefer a friendly guy like Obama to do it,
    or a corporate clown like Romney.

    The way I see it is the only people jealous of your rights (as George
    Bush put it) are the Republicans/Republican party and all its entities,
    and the Democrats/Democratic party and all of its entities.

    Unless of course you are prepared to die for them….

  6. CUSACK: “I think that even Howard Zinn/Chomsky progressives, would admit that there will be a difference in domestic policy between Obama and a Romney presidency.” Vote Obama and protest the racism of the RNC. Save medicare and defeat the GOP war on women. Don’t enable those that want to suppress the vote.

  7. Excellent dialogue! I think the fourth estate has fallen down on the job–and that we have too few citizens who are concerned about the erosion of our civil liberties. The thinking is: “I’d never do anything bad…so the government would never do anything bad to me.”

    I think Obama has been a great disappointment from the beginning of his term in office. The refusal of this administration to bring the banksters of Wall Street and war criminals to justice are two of the things that have caused my blood to boil. Its war against whistle-blowers and its killing of US citizens has gone beyond the pale. The treatment of Bradley Manning has been inhumane. Our country certainly has lost the moral high ground.

    *****

    Karl,

    I have never presumed to know how anyone–including Jonathan Turley– would vote.

  8. Very interesting. One of the tangential points jumped out @ me. I absolutely agree that elections in our duopoly have devolved to this phrase, “Well we may suck…but we don’t suck as bad as that other party.” My analogy is family. A family w/ 2 kids is too often a fierce personal competition. My wife grew up in a 2 child family. I grew up in a 4 child family. There was conflict as there is in every family, but the dynamic was very different; less animous and more cooperation in different combinations. So 3 or 4 parties would be nice. If for no other reason is that it would drain more money from corporate lobbyist. We make it too easy for them to hedge their bets w/ 2 parties.

    When Obama tapped Holder as AG I was very disheartened. I’ve predicted since 2010, if Obama is reelected he’ll be the first to go.

  9. Swarthmore mom,

    My great fear is that the Republicans retain the House and win the Senate and the presidency. They already control the Supreme Court. I believe if that happens we will lose many of the social programs that have helped to keep the elderly out of poverty, helped to provide healthcare for those living in poverty, help the unemployed, etc. I am also concerned about what could happen to the rights of women…and the privatization of the Post Office, schools, and other government services.

  10. CUSACK: Yeah, yeah. And so then it gets down to the question, “Well, are you going to vote for Obama?” And I say, “Well, I don’t really know. I couldn’t really vote for Hillary Clinton because of her Iraq War vote.” Because I felt like that was a line, a Rubicon line – Karl, Cusack does not say how he will vote, either. He hardly lives in a swing district. Maybe, Ryan will help him make up his mind.

  11. Elaine, I know. It does not look too good for many of the senate candidates including Warren. Also, Romney’s foreign policy is full on neo-con…..back to torture.

  12. While I agree that there are some principles that should be maintained at nearly any cost, there can be no absolutes in all situations. We have to use common sense and judgement. For example, wihile it is an absolute rule that the captain of a ship or aircraft is the sole authority to decide where that vessel goes, it is not so strict that the officer of the deck or co-pilot cannot change course to avoid crashing. In fact, the Constitution does allow for the executive to jail people without trial in the provision that allows for the suspension of habeus corpus.

    I have to laugh at the Churchill quote since he was a terrorist himself and formed the Black and Tans to murder suspected IRA members. He also was not averse to committing war crimes against defenseless people when he wanted to use poison gas against the Kurds. He was also very much opposed to the Nurenburg Trials since he knew that HE could be put in the dock. He just wanted to execute the main Nazi leaders out of hand.

    We should indeed try our best to observe principles in most all cases,but I have to think that if Benedict Arnold were to try visiting the US after the Revolution, and was seen escaping by boat, Madison himself would have loved to have fired the cannon that would kill Arnold along with all on board. That is similar to the drone strike in Yemen. If an American sits alongside Hitler during WWII, you have no complaint when the 8th Air Force drops a bomb on you. Nor should the President be thought to have committed a war crime in blowing up an American citizen. There are different rules for warfare and terrorism than apply for police operations. That is why we do not issue machine guns to cops and DO issue them to the troops.

  13. SMom apparently has no problem enabling proven war criminals. War criminals of course only have a facade of caring about women & people’s health but some people just don’t grasp bigger principles, that is, you can’t have justice for women at home from a goverenment when women are arbitrarily being slaughtered abroad by that same govenment.

    _____________

    True Elaine, you didn’t presume to know but I did presume to know and this article (as did the articles after Holder’s speech) rests my case.

    To your credit Elaine, you didn’t lash out as if wounded like Spindell & SMom by the notion that their political sensibilities when it comes to voting for President were so contrary to the professor’s.

    But they are contrary and my only point all along is how ironic that is because you see, until I made that prediction, it never even DAWNED on the typical Turley groupies that he might not be voting along with them.

    Nevermind how my union credentials & backround in the Feminist movement were attacked as not credible for daring to make such a point that turns out to have been valid all along.

  14. Prof,

    I read this excellent interview yesterday and as for the substantive content, I’d like to invite both you and Lane Meyer to stop reading my mind.

    (P.S. Any of you who have not seen Cusack’s anti-war comedy War, Inc., I highly recommend it – acerbic, intelligent and very funny. And if you haven’t seen Better Off Dead, you have a gap in your comedy education.)

  15. @Jude, Ra: It is “pastime,” derived from the phrase “pass time”, and it means “that which amuses or serves to make time pass agreeably.” Like a hobby, game playing, gambling, TV.

  16. Anonymously Yours-You prod me to not just exercise my civic responsibilities but to be responsibly considerate of my duty to analyze the candidates, the issues and the realities of what has in Fact occurred. Your post sadly confirms the “nagging concerns” I have had over these very issues for sometime now. I admit reality is quite uncomfortable, but my discomfort is no excuse to ignore this very serious matter.

    In my opinion, not voting or voting for someone who can never win-is never a winning decision for the whole country over the long term. It is part of the reason why we are where we are today.
    In my opinion, we must decide which candidate(s) we are most likely going to have the greatest influence on, in the long run. If we’re really honest, there may be 5% of those currently serving in congress who actually do work for “the people”-If we’re lucky.
    This isn’t just about who the POTUS is, but maybe more importantly, who we send to Congress.
    This is perhaps one of the Most difficult and important elections I’ve ever participated in.
    I may be “new” to politics, naive and I may not fully understand all that is going on, but I know this One thing to be absolute: I am not going to be pulled any further to the “Right”. Period.
    Thanks to the prof for the “Tool Box” (I think) :)

  17. For those who are still pondering whether they can vote for Obama or not… you have certainly missed one of the main points. IMO

    It doesn’t really matter, your vote in the presidential race won’t change anything. It is a drop in the ocean. Most of you live in states that are already certain to go red or blue, don’t fool yourself into thinking there is any real contest. Why sell yourself out when 500,000 other votes are clearly going to make your sellout worthless?

    The most important part of the interview was where they spelled out that using your efforts *outside* of the political process is far more effective and empowering!

    If you want something fixed, ignore the half-concieved (and likely immoral, unconstitutional, or both) government direction – find someone who IS making a real impact and join them.

    If no one is doing this then it is up to you. Seeking government solutions is what got us all into the tangled mess we are in now.

  18. KF, about having the “regulars here squirming,” that was kind of a sophisticated insult, but I basically DO want to look at it, although I do not consider myself a “regular here” so much as a party-crasher who came in largely because of the Trayvon Martin case (that has now come to be called the George Zimmerman case, because of the peculiarities of public consciousness).

    I never took part in the debate about who Professor Turley was going to vote for. I could never have told Professor Turley whom to vote for and just like someone else’s sexuality or gender preference (when I can only cook up an interest if I would like to have sex with that person), I can only manage to cook up an interest in someone else’s voting habits or voting intentions if I am working in their neighborhood to try to advance a political candidate I support. Well, I could never do that in Professor Turley’s neighborhood because the Commonwealth of Virginia, having long ago deprived me of my Constitutional rights, has three times in the past issued bogus warrants for my arrest (later surreptitiously “withdrawn” when litigation seems likely) as a result of government corruption in three (1, 2, 3) state agencies. So on both the issue of Professor Turley’s vote and the issue of protection of Constitutional rights, my position is and remains: who in Hell cares?

    Now what other reason would I have to — as you say (a word borrowed from the lexicon of George Zimmerman, no less) — “squirm”?

    Well, I might feel ashamed of myself because I would still vote for Obama in spite of all the evil he has done and the fact that he has abandoned and even blatantly and violently derogated the principles enunciated in the Constitution?

    Well, I don’t shame easy.

    There IS no viable candidate for the US Presidency who can do any less harm than Obama will do in the next four years. WHY? Because this great nation, made up of all these great scholars, academics, attorneys and all these great pontificators, questioners, and commentators, has never really cared about the human rights, the constitutional rights, the life interest, of a person like me OR ME IN POINT OF ACTUAL FACT and they have all been part and parcel of all the evil that takes place and that is the only way they have become the great scholars, academics, attorneys, pontificators, questioners and commentators that they are. THEY have not made it possible for us to have a candidate reach the point of party nomination by one of the two gangs of thugs (Slimocrats OR Repugnicans) who is not already essentially a complacent murderer with a pretty wife or a sexy husband. You CANNOT rise to power in this sewer unless you are sufficiently immune to the stench.

    So I am not squirming. I hate what Obama has done. The only reason I am not horribly disappointed in him is that I didn’t have all that much faith in him to start with. And Laurence Tribe, who put up an essay saying Obama was the greatest Constitutional scholar he had ever taught wrote me a letter back in 1990 telling me I did not NEED a “novel constitutional theory”; all I NEEDED was a “very good lawyer to work for you, and only you, full time, for a year.” So thanks, Larry, but who’s gonna finance THAT little prerequisite to my having some constitutional rights, you? One of your students?

    So what do I expect from my Government? Precious damn little.

    But I want to be able to go to the doctor and have Medicare pay for it when I’m really sick two years from now, if I should live that long. I am sick of everything and I’m sure I know only a tiny tip of a huge iceberg (unlike all those that are melting from the fictional global warming Romney’s crowd of punks has bought us with our own money) but if there is one thing that will directly affect ME that has a chance of being not-so-horrible with Obama in office than it will be with Romney in office, there’s my shameless vote!

    And not only am I not squirming, but the physiological representation of the views I have tried to express here would come out more like this:

  19. Karl,

    “But they are contrary and my only point all along is how ironic that is because you see, until I made that prediction, it never even DAWNED on the typical Turley groupies that he might not be voting along with them.”

    *****

    I have no idea what a “typical Turley groupie” is. This isn’t a groupthink blog. I’m puzzled as to why you would assume that Turley regulars would all vote for the same candidates. We do not all have the same political affiliations–nor have we all had the same life experiences.

    I share many of the same concerns as Mike Spindell and Swarthmore mom. They are real concerns about what could happen to this country if Romney and Ryan are elected.

  20. Karl,
    The purpose of this blog site is not to parrot who Prof. Turley will vote for. He has his decision to make and so do we all. The purpose of the blog, as I see it, is to do just what this conversation between Prof. Turley and John Cusack does. They discussed some of the issues that concern them and the country.

    The regulars here, by my view, are all over the board when it comes to supporting and/or voting for President Obama. I have discussed the shortfalls in the mishandling of the Bradley Manning case and the American citizen hit list. But I have to make a choice on a legitimate candidate for President. It doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with me or anyone else. In my opinion, if you don’t vote, you are voting for Romney/Ryan and their vision for America. If you vote for a third party candidate that has no legitimate chance of even getting 20% of the vote, you are voting for the Romney/Ryan vision of America.

    I see little or no difference between a Romney presidency on the security issues, but if you are a women, a Romney presidency will mean that you will lose your rights to your own body. A Romney presidency will mean the middle class will be further abused and the 1% will take full control of the economy and the recession will return. Except for the financial industry and the defense industry, of course.

  21. When Barrack Obama started being identified as the most likely Democrat candidate for president and I began to pay more attention to him as a candidate, more and more I began to wonder something peculiar.

    My instinct was very strong that I could not trust him. I asked several friends of mine about what it might have been that was causing me this suspicion. He seemed to be a viable candidate but again my instincts told me there was something going on in the background beyond more than this man’s politics. I believed he also was arrogant, had something to hide, was a liar when it suited him, and his qualifications were pumped up.

    I have tried to make a practice of not coming to a conclusion at the beginning and only taking in evidence to support that conclusion, but making a conscious effort to avoid this pitfall, time and time again every suspicion I had of this man has proven to be correct.

    But as I told my wife, half of this country will love him no matter what he does even if he screws that half out of everything. Then they will put him up to a pedestal, declaring him their “Dear Leader” of DPRK fame. This man is viewed as one who is off limits to criticism because those who dare do are either fools or a threat according to his beliefs.

    But most will disagree with me so what does it really matter what I believe? If Barrack wins his re-election I don’t see him having much restraint on engaging on his shreading of the constitution, especially when so many will gladly hand him the scissors.

  22. Great conversation, I like Cusack, he’s a smart guy. It’s frustrating to hear them talk about Obama being a blatant war criminal and yet discuss voting for him though. Bush, Obama are virtually the same, a “protest” vote against Romney, who is a chicken hawk himself changes nothing. If Obama gets another 4 years, sadly I think he will, he will likely lock down the National Security State even more.
    It is a false narrative to even contemplate voting for these men, both policies are essentially the same. What tangible differences in any major policy do they have?
    American’s seem to have this blind loyalty to party, while war crimes, bailouts & liberties are lost, Turley talks about a “collective yawn”, but it sounds like he would still vote Obama?
    This is disturbing, vote Johnson or some third party candidate, allowing the democrats & republicans to rule with virtually no differences in policy is turning the states into a relativist country.
    When they discussed the relativism of bush/obama’s interpretation of the law, it’s clear you should not be able to vote for either of the so called party nominees. What good is decrying foul about civil liberties violations and then voting for the despot that abuses them? It’s hypocrisy to do it, I really respect Mr. Turley for his liberty stance but he does come up very short when it comes to his voting preference which is clearly democrat.
    Great convo, but abandon the party loyalty it’s destroying your country.

  23. I consider myself a regular here; and this is not the first time Professor Turley has expressed his belief that a civil libertarian cannot vote for Obama in good conscience. I would not consider this a sudden reveal.

    Like Gene, I agree with Turley, and I will not vote for Obama or donate to his campaign, despite my previous votes for him and contributions to his 2008 campaign.

    As for “who is worse” in this cycle, let me point out that regardless of what Romney says he will do, to my knowledge he has NEVER taken an extra-constitutional action while in elected office, and Obama has. So you do not know exactly what Romney will do.

    I will further point out that in the “game” (which our lives may depend upon), we are probably better off with bitter partisanship between the Senate and the Presidency over partisan compliance with a President so intent upon an Imperial Presidency. Even if Democrats lose the Senate (which I think is doubtful) they will retain the filibuster, and the desire to make Romney a one-term President, too.

    Even if the Republicans ram through an Aynish government, what they will have done is pass laws or repeal them. Those actions can be undone by a subsequent and more liberal administration. In my view, as a civil libertarian that believes in the social safety net, perhaps this is what is finally needed to wake up the electorate: Take the social safety net away.

    As I have been saying here since 2009, people are complacent until they sense pain. The entire social safety net is just routine laws, passed by Congresses past, that can be swept in or out by majority vote. The fact that they have been around so long is a testament to their popularity, politicians have been afraid to cripple them. If a corrupt Republican administration REALLY does something to hurt Medicare or Social Security, on the next even-numbered year that same popularity will will drive voters to the polls in record numbers to have them restored. Congress can be swept clean in two years, and 1/3 of Senators can as well.

    Letting Obama lose may be the best thing to happen to civil liberties and the social safety net. It would create a divided government at minimum, and if the Republicans were successful anyway, galvanize voters to stop them in 2014 and 2016. It would also, as Turley notes, send the political message that there is only so far one can go in the erosion of civil liberties, which would put a restraint on Romney.

    The vast majority of potential voters will not get off the couch for anything but pain, and economic and emotional pain is what they will get if the safety net is dismantled and the parts of their extended family that depended on it start begging for help, not to mention the referred pain of their friends and their families.

    Politicians will not respond (in our favor) to anything but the fear of losing an election. They pore over the losses and political deaths of their comrades (of either party) to find the boundaries of what they can get away with; and a loss by Obama would be an influential point in that constellation.

  24. “Letting Obama lose may be the best thing to happen to civil liberties and the social safety net.”, Tony C. We had this discussion in 2010 concerning voting for democrats. I don’t think it turned out so well do you?

  25. This interview is extremely well done; however, I always find myself cringing when I see an all or nothing argument being made, which this (unfortunately) feels like. In the process of governing a country, there seems to be an infinite amount of priorities that compete with one another. Governance consists of the loftier aims of the attention to the citizen’s basic rights and the more mundane aims of getting mail to each citizen’s mailbox. On a scale such as this one, containing literally hundreds of priorities, I can’t help but feel that throughout the interview, Mr. Cusack and Mr. Turley aim to throw the baby out with the bath water without parsing the infinite priorities of governance.

    I cannot excuse any president for abusing his power, but the unfortunate fact is that every single president has. If we are unqualifying presidents from the presidency for not standing firm on due process on each occasion, then none of our forty-four leaders stand the test. I don’t know how comfortable I am throwing out Abraham Lincoln’s civil rights record in the avenue of slavery just because he suspended habeas corpus for so many during the Civil War. To label Lincoln a war criminal; however, for this would be close to insane. It is in this unfortunately parsed category that Mr. Obama finds himself on the record of civil rights. Yes, Mr. Obama has been too liberal in his execution of executive powers (but so have literally all U.S. presidents before him). On the other hand, this is the president who put into law the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that recognizes the rights of gays not to be beaten to death just because they are gay. This is also the president who legalized the service of openly gay soldiers in the United States military. This is also the only president in history who has ever voiced a support for the recognition of same-sex marriage. Do the former civil rights issues overshadow the latter civil rights issues? No. But, they demonstrate the competition that constantly finds itself at war in the governance of a country. This is why I do not feel comfortable with the type of all or nothing argument being made during Mr. Cusack’s and Mr. Turley’s discussion. It completely dismisses the good in favor of the perfect. I think Mr. Obama should be questioned vociferously (as all other presidents should have been, but weren’t) for his handling of executive powers, but I am not willing to dismiss the sum for one of it’s parts. Just as I don’t think Americans (including Mr. Cusack and Mr. Turley) are willing to disqualify Mr. Lincoln’s civil rights successes with regard to American slavery, in favor of locking him up for suspending habeaus corpus, I do not think it is wise to convict Mr. Obama just yet. Imagine Americans dismissing Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights successes because of his actions taken in the Vietnam War. It is an inconceivable idea. Why are we then doing it to Mr. Obama?

  26. Personally…. I Think it is an important conversation to have… and of course there are things Obama has done, that I am not really OK with… HOWEVER…. reality to me says… as far as War and Security goes… Obama, I think he has proved he will keep the country safe….
    also, I have seen the Neo Cons talking about starting up with Iran….

    Yeah… as if 3 wars will help the USA become more stable and help the economy…. NOPE it won’t…. It will RUIN it….

    also what Rafflaw said… Woman’s issues are on the table with the GOP… and this time, I think they mean business….
    It could be bad….

    and as for the middle class… well.. I don’t think Romney really cares…..

    He is not even trying to pretend wanting to UNITE the country….

    Not only that…. Romney is shirking many years of tradition of transparency by not releasing his Tax returns….
    That makes me a BIT nervous that he is willing to take the heat for not releasing them. Makes me think there is something rather poisonous in those returns.

  27. Tony C
    If Romney is elected-what makes you believe we will still be allowed to vote in 2014 & 2016? Your remembrance of Romney’s past not demonstrating any extra-constitutional action fails the smell test in 2012 for he’s never owed the Kochs, Adelsons, Rove etc before either, like he does now.
    Romney and Ryan, after-all Both signed on with Norquist….I have no reason to believe they are the remedy we seek.

  28. @Swarthmore: Since it HASN’T turned out yet, you are jumping the gun. The recoil will be in November of 2012, how do you know how the House and Senate will change?

  29. fredamae, If you are white and affluent you will be allowed to vote. That’s how they plan to hold power. A republican AG would be a rubber stamp for them and more and more restrictive voting laws would get passed. At least Holder got a few of them struck down.

  30. Sometimes I wish that we would just let the Republicans tank the USA…. then…. maybe the people would see, and starting caring for more things than, just wanting a president that is a “Godly Man”…..

    If all fails, I can always bring my family to Sweden…

  31. Ho hum … the discussion was very interesting and I have certainly heard it all before and don’t really disagree with any of the various points made.

    I look at this period in time as something of a return to the Gilded Age from the late 19th to the early 20th century when tycoons enjoyed the spoils of unfettered capitalism. They “captured” the government just as corporations of great wealth have captured today’s government through total control of both political parties whose campaign pockets are always open to be filled.

    Atrocities at home and abroad are the natural flow of a government which no longer serves the Constitution having replaced it with “downstairs” fetch-‘n-carryism.

    We have to make changes at the very core and that is directly into the heart of the political parties that have sold out en masse. How? Simple … stop supporting any political party. Stop contributing. Stop going to conventions, picnics, fund raisers. Withdraw public support from the parties and regain control of the government which has been “captured” by the Gilded Ones. It is really that simple.

    As for Romney -v- Obama … give me a break. They are both products of their parties. Change the parties, change the products.

    Not superficial enough for you? Tough shite.

  32. I read the article and then all of the comments. My comments is that it is a clever dance rather than a thoughtful conversation. It reminds me of that couple in the Viagra commercial in the two bathtubs in the back yard. An alient would think that this is how we procreate. Yakkity yaki. But if you discuss civil liberties in this country or in Afghanistan then be more specific, Obama inherited the Patriot Act and the Twin Towers mentality. By analogy this is the same, and perhaps modeled after (copied) on the Reichstag Fire and then the Reichstag Fire Decree. Von Hindenburg promulgated the Decree to disestablish civil liberties and when Hitler was elected (like Bush being re-elected) he began taking away civil liberties. Obama has reversed many Bushie practices. He killed bin Laden rather than capturing him and giving him a trial. Obama put two good people on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Our choice now has a parallel to 1933. We can elect The Willard and Big Ears. Same as Hitler. I say go ahead and vote for them if you are blind, deaf, dumb, insane, illiterate, or just plain Nazi in your belief. The Turley articles have been blaming Obama for a whole litany of things that almost stretch to the lack of cab service at Busch Gardens on rain days.

  33. @fredame: If Romney is elected-what makes you believe we will still be allowed to vote in 2014 & 2016?

    Common sense and an unwillingness to exaggerate issues into cataclysmic effect. As the article says, there is a difference between a bicycle accident and the end of the world.

    I have no reason to believe they are the remedy we seek.

    Are you incapable of comprehension? I did not argue they will do anything to help us, I argued they would do everything they could to HURT us (meaning liberals) and that pain would shock the complacent liberals sitting on the couch, those that benefit directly or indirectly from liberal assistance and programs, into getting OFF the couch, once that benefit was taken away.

    Geez. Read what I wrote, it is perfectly sensible. If you take something away from somebody, because they were complacent and not defending it, then they will not just SIT there and say, “oh well, that check and that health insurance was sure nice while it lasted.” They will take some action to get it back. Politicians know that, and even the self-serving politicians will seize upon the restoration of those programs as a ticket into office. The safety net is just LAWS, they can be re-passed, and if they are repealed, I think they WILL be re-passed and strengthened, perhaps even to the point of Constitutional Amendments, to protect them from further predation. People want them.

    A Romney-Ryan is not good for liberals in the short term, it causes pain. It is good for liberals in the long term because the pain it would cause would spur them to action.

  34. Blouise,

    It’s hard for us common folk to match the kinds of contributions that the one-percenters can make–especially in these times when two income households often live from paycheck to paycheck and the middle class is shrinking.

  35. On the other hand, this is the president who put into law the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that recognizes the rights of gays not to be beaten to death just because they are gay. This is also the president who legalized the service of openly gay soldiers in the United States military. This is also the only president in history who has ever voiced a support for the recognition of same-sex marriage.

    ——————————————

    EXACTLY!!!!

    Not to mention… TRIED to give the people better health care options….
    got health care for the people who had preexisting conditions….

    tried to get better consumer protections for credit card holders….

  36. Pat Dawson,

    Consider that Lincoln abused habeas corpus to primarily oppress critics and dissent. Consider that Johnson’s transgressions were indirect but not war crimes he was responsible for per se but rather men under his command committed war crimes on their own impetus, not as a matter of policy as is the Bush/Obama torture debacle and the Obama “I can assassinate American citizens without due process” disgrace. I’m certain LBJ would have preferred that Mỹ Lai not happened as it marked a Rubicon in public support for the war failing. The Marines at Mỹ Lai were not “just following orders”.

    Contrast this to both Bush and Obama officially ordering acts that violate the Constitution, Federal law and international treaty.

    There is a big difference between following orders and giving orders.

    It’s apples and oranges.

    However, a more apt comparison question would be why not a call to have prosecuted Curtis LeMay and others involved in the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities during WWII and go after Bush and Obama.

    If Nuremberg should have taught our species anything, it is that war criminals regardless of where they are found are like any criminal and should be brought to justice for the betterment of both society and the human condition. The only thing that has the potential to keep us from self-destructing and eating each other alive is the Rule of Law. However, as has been said in this forum many times before, a law without enforcement is no better than a suggestion. This erosion of the utility of the Rule of Law is an inevitable consequence of legal relativism. The law needs to be flexible enough to provide for just outcomes and deal with novel situations, but to be so flexible as to be effectively meaningless is the path to ruin.

  37. Tony C.,

    There are many elderly who worked hard all their lives who now depend on government assistance to keep them out of poverty or from becoming homeless. Many of them are not sitting on couches–but in wheelchairs. What do you suppose would happen to them if those social safety nets are taken away from them?

  38. Gene,
    Well said. I agree with the proper criticisms of Obama due to the no prosecution of torture and the american hit list issues, but I still have to do the math on the total picture. Of course, you know how good (bad) my math is!
    OS, you are right that not only is our money going overseas, the jobs in the defense industry are leaving as well. Do we really want our defense jobs done by foreign companies?

  39. Pat Dawson:

    There is much considered thought in your post which, in some instances, clsoely tracks my own. Your comment that all Presidents have “abused” their power begs the question of whether “abuse” in service to the nations interests is “abuse” at all. If I suspend habeas corpus to keep anti-war dissent to a minimum as Gene suggests am I not furthering the interests of the nation ultimately given the consequences of no action?

    Like you, I find the interview entertaining given the participants involved even if a trifle one-sided. However, I rather enjoy a point-counterpoint approach with well-prepared adversaries instead of an agree-a-thon. Call it an occupational disease.

  40. Karl Friedrich:

    I’m happy you’ve received your requisite dose of affirmation today — so much so that it dragged you out of the shadows. Who needs contrary views? It requires all that needless reconsideration of firmly held attitudes and beliefs. Re-thinking is for losers! And, thinking about the other guys point of view? Well, that’s for double-losers!

  41. Elaine,

    But people do contribute … small amounts at a time and continuously.

    I’m not looking to solve the Romney -v – Obama conundrum … I’ve already made my choice based on historical data over the last 40 years so I’m voting for Obama. Remember, I was one of those who was appalled at his nomination and like SwM, wasn’t sure I’d be pulling the lever for him when I walked into the booth 4 years ago. I knew I wouldn’t be pulling McCain’s lever … the question was, would I be voting for anyone for President.

    However, since then I have dropped any formal membership in political parties because they are, in my opinion, at the root of the problem. The more declared Independents, the better.

    When you have a minute or two, go back and refresh your memory on the Gilded Age … the similarities to today’s problems will make you chuckle (not humorously).

  42. Blouise,
    I don’t think it is a party issue. I don’t care if the proper candidate to vote for is an independent, but I do want someone who can actually win. Protest votes are not successful and do not achieve anything, IMHO. I tried that with a vote for John Anderson years ago and you know how that turned out.

  43. Live every day as ethically as you can. Live your life as to reflect how you want the world to be. For me, voting at a national , state or city level ( big voting ) is pretty much immoral ( and fruitless ). My credo is: Leave people alone , do not advocate or engage in violence , share what you can , be generous , don”t support stealing ( taxes ) …… see 99IPPP & 99sophont2
    Make another movie JC I loved War Inc. 99guspuppet

  44. @Elaine: . What do you suppose would happen to them if those social safety nets are taken away from them?

    I imagine it would cause pain and despair. What did you think I thought?

    However, what I am thinking, and you are not, is that for most of them their relatives would feel obligated to pick up the slack as best they could, and that would put pressure on them to have the nets restored.

    What I am thinking and you are not is that about 80% of those people are the people that do not bother to vote, but WOULD bother to vote if their paycheck was cut by a few hundred dollars a month, or if their hobby room was converted to a bedroom for their elderly mother or sickly father-in-law that now had to live with them, or if they were suddenly given the gun-to-the-head choice of paying hundreds of dollars for their mother’s medication and health-care or watching her deteriorate and die.

    What I am thinking, and you are not, is that if we continue down this path of the Imperial Presidency and corpocracy, then the pain and misery are coming ANYWAY, and it would be better to feel it now than feel it later, when the cement Cusack refers to in the article is so set and hard that it can no longer be cracked.

    What I am thinking, and you are not, is that four more years of Obama’s wholesale disregard for the Constitution, with a compliant Congress, is going to send the political message that said disregard is just FINE with the electorate, that the Imperial Presidency is no big deal, and that message will be received loud and clear by the next Congress and the next President, and they will continue down the path of Imperial Conquest and the two-level system of wide liberty and privilege for the rich, the celebrities, and the politicians, and unrestrained brutality and control for everybody else.

    That is what I am thinking, and you are not, that the route in which all pain and loss is avoided at all costs is the route to utter subjugation by the ruthless and greedy.

  45. Turley and Cusack need to get their heads out of their rear ends about “The Law” and “The Constitution”. The Law is a tool of man- a social invention- it isn’t sacred or holy or mystical. It usually is the servant of Power and Wealth. And right now? In the West? In the US especially? Power and wealth OWN “The Law”. Because if they think appealing to the “law” or some never true latent notions of it’s neutrality supposedly ingrained in something called “The American People” is the way out then they can hold their breaths to the cows come home. Sorry fellas- change ain’t gonna come through holding placards on street corners and the wiles of plucky bearded lawyers in corduroy blazers or “getting out the vote”. Way past that point and too many guilty parties with stakes to loose.

  46. Capt Jenks, brilliant. One time I backed something utterly unconstitutional because (a) it didn’t matter and (b) it would help a kid who would otherwise be at risk of being abused AGAIN. When it comes down to a question of whether to do a real thing for a real person or do some imaginary thing for a principle, what’s to decide? We’re getting hedged in. Any way you can slip someone out through any escape hatch you find, I say do it as quickly as possible and weep big Limpopo River tears about it later, if ever.

  47. Tony C.,

    “However, what I am thinking, and you are not, is that for most of them their relatives would feel obligated to pick up the slack as best they could, and that would put pressure on them to have the nets restored.”

    *****

    Of course, I never consider such things! What you may not have thought about is that many people with elderly parents work. They aren’t able to provide round the clock assistance to their parents–nor can they afford to pay for caregivers and nurses to tend to their parents. Some of the elderly are childless–and, unfortunately, the children of some older people do not take their family responsibilities seriously. Not all families have spare rooms which they can convert into bedrooms for ailing/infirm parents.

    Why should I care about the pain and despair of the elderly without families to care for them who might lose government assistance? They can tough it out, right? I happen to believe that once something (a social safety net/government assistance program) is gone–it’s gone for good…and it ain’t coming back!

    What would four years of Romney/Ryan bring us, do you suppose?

  48. There is a big transition from the Ivory Tower (=as a law Professor) and a political career, especially one that goes all the way to the top. In any employment, one’s principles only last so long, for once one decides to go “up the flagpole,” you know what happens to them… Yes, you do; unless, you chose to stay a “ground pounder,”(or Ivory Tower Professor) and keep them.

  49. I have lost both respect and interest in people that still support Obama.

    Dr. Turley, thanks for fighting the good fight.

  50. Elections do matter, especially to the power brokers. In 2008 they tried out 3 iconic candidate images to see which would work best for them: 1. a
    decorated Nam vet who’d been tortured 2. a woman and 3. a black man The power brokers carefully watched the electorate, pumping us with propaganda designed to erase each person’s flaws and building up “a story” around them. Power brokers gave freely to each fictional character but by the summer it became clear who would best serve their interests. At that point campaign money shifted to their candidate of choice. Media was called on board to make certain their guy was elected.

    This is happening again, right now. It’s not that Romney wouldn’t do as he was told, just like Obama. The election of Obama matters because people
    cannot wrap their minds around him. He certainly has engaged in much
    worse than Bush, yet people still love, respect and adore him. If you want to institute depraved policies with near complete acquiescence of your
    population, you want Obama not Romney in place.

    As to what to do. A matter of personal integrity calls us to resist
    injustice. Whether we are successful is no reason not to try. There is no reason to vote for your oppressor and we should not do so. There are other choices and we should take them.

    Voting is also not an answer in and of itself. We face problems that can be solved. There are answers. It is implementing those answers in the face of overwhelming force controlled by US power brokers that is difficult.

    Now I will address what I am certain to hear. Obama will protect women. Let’s take a look at that assertion. Obama says he will protect women’s rights. But what did he actually do when he has taken an action concerning women’s reproductive rights? When he took an action he did this: forbid the sickest and poorest women from having the right to even purchase insurance coverage for abortion. This is like the FISA vote. It will be ignored by his followers even though it is incredibly revelatory of his actual intentions.

    The Obama administration just closed the book on prosecution of torturers. During torture, one’s bodily integrity is completely and utterly violated. Why then do people trust a man who prevents justice for one group of people whose bodies have been violated to protect another group’s bodily integrity? That does not make sense. It also shows an unethical stance. Hey, if it isn’t happening to me, why should I care?.

    You should care because: 1. it is wrong and 2. because it will happen to you eventually. Only an ethical and intellectually honest group of citizens can take on the level of injustice we face.

  51. Until I really thought about what is raised in this article, I too thought it would be far better for Obama to get in than the alternative, but now I wonder if what America needs is to hit bottom so it can see where it already is? What happened to leading?

  52. Karl,

    Maybe you already know this, but the irony you mention has its roots in history. Many of the Obama fans on this blog started out here during the 2nd Bush’s administration. At that time, they were all anti-torture, anti-Patriot Act, anti-destruction of the Constitution.

    Now that their guy is in the White House, it’s all good. So far as this blog being a “conversation” between the posters & Prof. Turley, for the Obama coterie it can’t possibly be one. There is simply too little common ground.

    For that group, this blog is virtual social club where they come together as a political cult to sing the praises of Obama & to warn the benighted of how much worse Romney will be if he is elected.

  53. One destructive aspect of US culture is the veneration of celebrities. It really doesn’t matter that Chuck Norris or John Cusack, celebrity, think, it is the quality of their and anyone else’s argument that counts. In this case we also have the argument put forward by JT. Celebrity does not confer rightness or wrongness on an argument. That is determined by thoughtfulness, depth of reasoning and reference to facts which back up the ideas one puts forward.

  54. Amazing. So many facets: of different views of ideas and different positions from persons I thought I knew who/what they were.

    For those like TonyC, who feel we should cut our throats and see if they get us to the hospital in time:

    I’ve been there and done that. My mother had parents who were OK in the 30s and her deceased husband’s were better off. Nobody offered any help. So as Blouise said, your dreams are just that.

    But don’t want to single TonyC or others for that matter. I was most pleased by that only one instance of kicking the balls of your opponent occurred. A new record? Civility reigns.

    Solution? Is there one? It is not an agreeathon as was
    noted, which will give rise to solutions. Nor is it the common man’s donation, nor will ignoring make it go away.

    Survival is the natural law. Next comes power. Money gives power. Democracy is a chimera.

    America’s only hope rest on a few things:
    —-a multi-party system
    —-total control of campaign financing=no PACS
    —-demand ideas and programs; not persons
    —-socialize; you can’t sell it or move it overseas

    Changing personkind is harder than you can imagine.
    Start with your family, your school funding, your local politics.
    And as the dying of cancer coach said to his team:
    “Never, ever give up”

  55. Flower Child Gone to Seed,

    Evidently, you aren’t that familiar with many of the discussions we’ve had here on this blog about torture, the war against whistle-blowers, Bradley Manning, drone strikes, the Patriot Act, and other subjects.

  56. raff,

    I’m sure I wasn’t clear as I’m writing on the fly, as it were.

    I do believe that the political parties as they are presently operating are the root of our problem in trying to recapture our government from the corporations. I’m not suggesting a new party at this time. What I want to do is reduce the membership in both parties so that their only followers are the corporations.

    If everyone is thinking from an independent standpoint, there is not enough money in the world to sustain a leadership that has no followers. In other words, I would like to see us evolve to a non-partisan electorate.

    Heck, vote for the Dem or Rep … just don’t support the party structure. Once enough people declare as independent (I am not saying declare membership in an Independent Party) … there is nothing to gild.

  57. idealist,

    You do not have to vote for your oppressor. Absolutely working local is a great idea. Starting with family, friends etc. Still, there is no reason to vote for your oppressor in high office, none. We can vote third party to show that we do not accept the unacceptable. Doing this while taking local action is not mutually exclusive, they are synergistic.

  58. America’s only hope rest on a few things:
    —-a multi-party system
    —-total control of campaign financing=no PACS
    —-demand ideas and programs; not persons
    —-socialize; you can’t sell it or move it overseas

    BRAVO!!!!

    Exactly…..

  59. Jill,

    You write thought-provoking things at times. The one about how people adore Obama, brought to mind how adored Hitler was. He knew how to sell it too. Possible? We got fooled before. Principles are never valued by the electorate.
    So what difference does a few principled people make?
    It is the mob that votes the power brokers choice into power. The principled voters are a ripple on the pond.

    Just to drive the point home. How many smoked Camels because the ad showed a doctor doing it? That is how stupid we are.

    I would welcome a study results on Obama’s administration as to concrete achievements and a thousand other factors. Would Joe Voter welcome it to study for a few weeks in his spare time?

    Go join the losers: like Adlai Stevenson, etc. A long list. But do keep trying. I’m rooting for your world.

  60. In other words, I would like to see us evolve to a non-partisan electorate.
    ——————

    the ONLY way to do that is to get away from the type of governing that is done in the USA….

    Take on a Parliamentary System…. MANY party’s…. NOT just 2…

    as it is, the country is split in two…
    not in 3rds…. not in 4rths…. IN 2’s….

    that is what makes it so bad….

    It is a win, or lose situation….

    MY party… or your party… winner take all…..
    OR.. NOTHINg gets done, do to political blocking…

  61. idealist707, Is it principled to throw women under the bridge and enable a Romney Ryan victory? Just wondering…….. I don’t know of anyone that adores Obama except maybe Michele and his daughters.

  62. Blouise,

    Enjoyed listening to your chat with Rafflaw.

    “What I want to do is reduce the membership in both parties so that their only followers are the corporations.”

    If I promise to stay home will the others do so?

    Not this time at least. And it is to take your Obama medicine and pray for a cure.

    If not an independent party, then what will the media have to talk about? It is a nice dream. Could lead to lots of bloody noses in discussions. “and the independents say…..” says the media.

  63. I don’t think that the present is a very good time to convene a constitutional convention and introduce a parliamentary form of government…. what a troubling thought.

  64. This is only slightly OT, but in view of the fact you needed Sherlock Holmes’ famous magnifying glass to find the “bounce” from the Republican convention, look for the MSM to go negative on the Democratic convention.

    They will devote vast amounts of time on irrelevant stuff like protesters, who made what gaffe, whether Bill Clinton is pissed at Obama that his wife did not win, and how much local businesses lose because of the convention. And we may be treated to the spectacle of the media suddenly learning how to fact check in real time without being prodded by bloggers.

  65. SwM,

    Have I got you confused? Not uncommon for me to do so with most folks. My bad…..

    So what makes you accuse me (or at least indicate suspicion of) of throwing women under the bus?

    I came out flamingly in several recent posts against Romney/Ryan. Sooner cut my whang off than do that.

    I just said (I guess that is what got you excited) that
    Obama is charming to some in spite of his failings.
    I think it was Jill that said that, and you two are not buddies on the subject. I said only that people who are convincing (Hitler) are not necessarily worthy of trust. Witness my tirades against the psychopath Zimmerman.

    So give me more to go on. Kicks in shins and “have you stopped beating your wife” is not much to argue against.

  66. I’m not voting for anyone (or any party) who would let the auto industry go bust, who believes in creationism, who thinks climate change is a hoax, who would vote for a “personhood” law, who would privatize schools, the post office and medicare, who thinks Obama was born in Kenya, who thinks there is something called legitimate rape, who doesn’t support Pell grants, who wants people to “self-deport”, who doesn’t support gay rights, who doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, who doesn’t support Planned Parenthood, who doesn’t support choice, who threatens a war with China, or Russia, or Iran, who unabashedly and repeatedly Lies in campagin ads, who wants to eliminate the EPA, who would appoint another Scalia to the bench, who doesn’t release five years of tax returns, who wants to govern this country but shelters his money in offshore banks, whose idea of charity is limited to supporting the growth of his church, who doesn’t believe contraception should be available in basic health insurance coverage. who doesn’t want sex education taught in secondary schools, who would employ Pearl, Wolfowitz, Bolton and Abrams.

    And I surely don’t want the guys on the other side of those positions thinking that 51% of Americans are on their side, so I’ll vote without apology for Obama.

  67. I am leery of a law professor who proports to be involved in constitutional issues who takes shots at a Democratic President who has put two good people on the Supreme Court. If Romney wins then expect this JT to be angling for a job on the DC Court of Appeals.

  68. Just one (ha ha) more item:

    I am just as unprincipled as Turley accuses Obama of being in re following the Constitution.

    We don’t need a constitution to realize we are getting screwed. So Jill can take her principles and try see if they will matter anywhere than in the debating room.

    As I hope (hope is all we have) Obama thinks, principles are fine, but I gotta do my job. Not do a flag waving ceremony every stinking day (which he does magically).

    For those interested in the Constitution and principles. The latter have never ruled America, all
    movies to the contrary. The former was abandoned in the 20s, when the holding that no new powers could be accorded to the federal government but by constitutional amemdment was overrun. The fight between FDR and the Supremes was the dividing line, effectively.

    Got a link which proves it, which I have posted several times (to no avail). Google Sobran and tyranny comes to America.

    So having opened the dam, the land is overflooded with powers. And going back to 1790 just is not a choice now. So stop dreaming those who long for that which we had then.

  69. Jack2uall, Never happen…. I assume the professor is pro-choice but I don’t know for sure. Republicans are committed to making anti-abortion judicial appointments.

  70. S.M.,

    I already addressed you on the rights of women. I’ll repost:

    Now I will address what I am certain to hear. Obama will protect women. Let’s take a look at that assertion. Obama says he will protect women’s
    rights. But what did he actually do when he has taken an action concerning women’s reproductive rights? When he took an action he did this: forbid the sickest and poorest women from having the right to even purchase insurance coverage for abortion. This is like the FISA vote. It will be ignored by his followers even though it is incredibly revelatory of his actual intentions.

    The Obama administration just closed the book on prosecution of torturers. During torture, one’s bodily integrity is completely and utterly violated. Why then do people trust a man who prevents justice for one group of people whose bodies have been violated to protect another group’s bodily integrity? That does not make sense. It also shows an unethical stance. Hey, if it isn’t happening to me, why should I care?.

    You should care because: 1. it is wrong and 2. because it will happen to you eventually. Only an ethical and intellectually honest group of citizens can take on the level of injustice we face.

    idealist,

    Yes, people will care. Obama got elected in 2008 because people wanted to end what happened under Bush. The problem arose in that people were manipulated to vote for a fiction, not reality. Now the reality should be clear and it is time to act on the clear knowledge we posses.

  71. To those who say we should just stop voting and work hard just helping people, I say some variation of “STUFF IT.” I worked hard, from 1980 (when I noticed the problem) until this last summer (when I lost the ability to work hard, period) on helping individuals who were being crushed under the wheels of a government (local, state, federal, etc.) gone so corrupt that it made ANIMAL FARM look like an allegory. I helped them with my own work and my own energy and my own efforts and my own money and my own travel and my own strength — it’s gone — and my my my my my and it’s used up and where are we? With some saying we should just toughen up and take care of those whom this “new government” intends to throw under all new buses.

    The only comfort is that there won’t be buses to throw the folks UNDER. There won’t be money to pay the bus-drivers to run them the hell OVER.

    Now, I just want to save enough of whatever can be used so that I can perhaps get some cheap pain-killers for the rest of this unnecessarily horrifying trip. Shame on the greedy, self-congratulating, pompous, lying, thieving, corrupt sons of Pilate who have brought us to this point and who now fill all the offices our government has TO fill, a pox on all their doorsteps but I still need to try to choose among the least of all available evils and until the f*cking punks come up with a way to make me get new i.d., that’s what I will do.

    Anybody who wants to take my right to choose the least of these sickening evils away from me has to fight me in the street and although I’ll lose, I’ll take somebody down with me if I only stand my ground.

    Anybody want to call me “boy”?

  72. So all other suggestions to the contrary, our only chance NOW is to get Obama reelected.

    We need time to fight those who steer him. He is not screaming for war on anybody, although he does give a lot of slack to the MICS and the Pentagon.

    But hell, who wants to have a palace revolution just now. Not he nor we.

    Patience, we gotta eat so we can fight. Bring in a Democrat “aggressive liberal” falang into Congress. Get a majority in the House and 62 in the Senate.
    Then get the election moneys and registration fixed for the next one in two years.

    The aggressive liberals are meeting in Charlotte now with Grijalves and Grayson in a caucus.

  73. And send the blue dog dems to hell. They took health insurance campaign money and voted against ACA.
    Proud of it too. The best families (parties) have crazy cousins. Inbreeding?

  74. When Obama took his oath of office, he swore to uphold the Constitution. Then later after he’d been in office, he said the Constitution was flawed. So apparently, that meant he didn’t need to uphold the oath.

    My question is HOW can Congress pass the NDAA depriving Americans of their Constitutional right to due process, how can the President sign this into law, without all who voted for it and signed it being tried for TREASON? I don’t understand it. I thought going against our Constitution and using your power of authority to do it was grounds for arrest and trial for treason, not grounds for debate.

    Am I not understanding the definition of treason? I mean, there is no QUESTION that the NDAA is not Constitutional. It feels to me like our country has been hijacked by a bunch of jackbooted thugs.

    My other question (okay I have two), is what are we SUPPOSED to do about all this? I kept seeing things like, but nothing was done, but the people didn’t get in an uproar, etc. What exactly are we SUPPOSED to do? We’ve certainly seen in youtube videos what happens to people who try a peaceful protest.

    So what is the answer? Whether the red or the blue is in office will make no difference. Ron Paul tried his darndest, but has been unable to make changes.

    (And by the way! Hitler thought HE as a good guy, didn’t he!)

  75. Just think if Malisha had used her facilities to get control of the folks who kidnapped Patty Hearst.
    Where would we be today?

    Or if she had gotten JTs education and his current “speaker” to the media role.
    What would we have? Does anyone dream anymore?

    The worst is we have come so near disaster before. Someday somebody will push the button. Or nature will. Anybody flown over Greenland lately?

    It was years since for me, and the lack of ice on the ocean was scary. This was long before climate warming.

  76. S.M.

    I gave you information which contradicts both your and PP’s ideal that Obama will be good for women. I notice that you fail to address this evidence.

    idealist,

    Obama is most certainly is screaming for war– in Syria under the guise of regime change for democracy (which is an incredible joke given his iron clad support of Saudi Arabia). He’s prosecuting war on Iran right now and in the past with computer viruses which have not only harmed military but civilian infrastructure. He is also engaged in several covert drone wars which have killed many civilians.

    If you truly believe Obama is a victim of dark forces beyond his control the last thing you should do is vote him in. You should help him escape these forces by getting him out of office as quickly as possible. That way he will never again be forced to kill a 16 year old boy, just because he could. He will never imprison a child soldier at his command. He will never have to prosecute another whistleblower. If you don’t want him to engage in such reprehensible acts, then don’t vote for him.

  77. […] The blog post was a Q&A, with Cusack asking Turley his thoughts about Obama’s poor record on preserving Americans’ civil liberties and how easily he has gotten away with their erosion.  I’ll highlight some interesting points. TURLEY: … President Obama has not only maintained the position of George W. Bush in the area of national securities and in civil liberties, he’s actually expanded on those positions. He is actually worse than George Bush in some areas. […]

  78. Jill, (last post)

    We sent our death squad boy from Iraq there to Syria as ambassador. Remember Assad’s protests as he went around encouraging the rebels. Neat gang of uniformed kill squads with stars with him too.
    If we wanted to do anything other than keep SA happy, then we would be delivering suitable light but effective weapons to the rebels (Stingers, anti-tank missiles and mines, etc) Do we? NO NO NO

    We could also armtwist a UN resolution on a no-fly
    zone as in Libya. Do we? NO NO NO

    So much for warmongering by Obama.

    As for Iran, we made the CIA depose Mossadegh, remember. And we installed a puppet Shah. That worked out fine too.
    I think we are just content with containment of Iran. Let the theocrats handle it.

    Good night. I’m ready for bed, not battle. Did my army service in ’60-62. Kennedy did not push the button. Unfortunately he screwed the CIA, mob and others (Fedbank) and got himself shot.

    Principles and a lot of dollars will get you a cup of coffeel

  79. The Democratic party, controlled primarily by men, think women are a one issue sex, abortion, abortion, abortion. I know women care about much more than that. But you couldn’t tell that from most women on this blog. Politicians push your button and you respond just like they want.

  80. Nick, If one is denied the right to birth control and other forms of healthcare, it is pretty hard to achieve much. Ryan wants to outlaw many forms of birth control.

  81. @Elaine: They aren’t able to provide round the clock assistance to their parents–nor can they afford to pay for caregivers and nurses to tend to their parents.

    I thought of precisely that. Yet, they will do SOMETHING, won’t they? They will not just let their parents DIE, will they? What exactly will they do? They will suffer, and then VOTE.

    Some of the elderly are childless–and, unfortunately, the children of some older people do not take their family responsibilities seriously.

    Sooner or later, people like that are going to suffer. Better sooner than later, better now than when the E.R. is allowed to reject patients that cannot pay.

    Barack Obama is the first Democrat President in my memory willing to put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on the table as negotiable items, by his own on-camera statements. Another four years will mean that did not hurt him politically, and ALL Democrats will consider those benefits “on the table.” How long shall those chips lay “on the table” until some Republicans start picking them off?

    Somebody of those ages and infirmities and lack of any backup system is going to suffer, sooner or later, period. Even if the deal is cut to not touch benefits for anybody 55 or older, the 54 year olds will become 84 year olds without those benefits.

    Not all families have spare rooms which they can convert into bedrooms for ailing/infirm parents.

    That is just false. In the 1930’s in New York, people had an average of 50 sf of living space. Today, the average is about 500 sf per person, ten times as much. Perhaps not in NYC, but even there, couples live in 400 sf apartments that could hold 8 people. I have seen people living six to a bedroom; 3 bunk beds in one bedroom. Virtually everybody in the USA could, if the alternative was homelessness, accomodate a few more people in their home. They wouldn’t LIKE it, but that would be part of the “pain” that would get them to the voting booth.

    Why should I care about the pain and despair of the elderly without families to care for them who might lose government assistance?

    You should. I do. I just care more about the infinite number that are COMING than the few that exist right now.

    I happen to believe that once something (a social safety net/government assistance program) is gone–it’s gone for good…and it ain’t coming back!

    I disagree with you. If you truly believe that, then you truly believe that the majority would not vote for it. If you truly believe the majority would not vote for it, then you believe your minority view should prevail over the majority view. Which, in MY view, would make you no better than the Ayn Rand acolytes, the free market bozos, or the devoutly religious that want to impose their morality upon all of us by law.

    How are you different?

    I disagree with you because Social Security and Medicare are the most popular government programs of all of American history. If people experience what life is like without the FDA, they will clamor for the FDA.

    The problem with liberalism is its success. Success breeds complacency, and complacency means that the vast majority of people that beneift from SS or Medicare indirectly do not bother to vote for politicians that support it, and that makes it LOOK like there isn’t much support for it. Because it is not explicit. The voters that could make it explicit will not even give up one night of reruns in order to educate themselves about the dynamics of the situation and pick a side. They won’t give it up because, as long as the safety net remains intact, they do not NEED to give anything up.

    That is just the facts of life; the TRUTH is that there is enough support for those programs to totally crush the 25% moronic enough to resent them. In multiple polls right after Obama was elected, we had 72% approval for a public option along the lines of Medicare for all. If 72% would vote for that, 72% would vote for the more critically needed Social Security and Medicare as currently constituted.

    You are just wrong, if we lose those things under Republican (or Obama) rule the complacency will end with a shock, and they will return with a newly electrified vengeance, they are super-majority, pass-a-Constitutional-amendment popular.

    More generally, the insistence upon solving problems without suffering any pain whatsoever has led to an impasse and a steady decline of rights and benefits, because if no strategic moves can be made that are not forward, the only changes left are the backward slips you cannot prevent.

  82. DarrenSmith said “I believed he also was arrogant, had something to hide, was a liar when it suited him, and his qualifications were pumped up.” about Obama.
    I thought that described a politician. Period.

    As for ‘I don’t like what Obama did as per the conversation so I will not vote.’: that non vote becomes a defacto vote for Romney. Obama has done some things that I dislike, a lot, much menitoned in the conversation (although it was a conversation fueled by a common belief – nothing new in it, Prof. Turley has repeatedly written about his distatse for Presidetn Obama.) but he also done a lot, in spite of the republican obstructionism, and had to make some compromises to get things, like health care, done.
    It is a clear choice. Either you are for closing a lot of the safety net, ending the EPA, denying climate change, working for the wealthy (and Adelson and the Koches – adelson has something going on with the justice department -sry I forget the specifics at the moment, what kind of chit will he demand be obliged if Romney wins?), ending not only abortion rights but access to contraception, the ‘personhood’ of the fetus, etc and so on or you need to vote for the President. Do you really want a Romney pres who, aside from any other reason not to vote for him, if you are a democrat or liberal, will be able to nominate supreme court justices?

    (And Tony, I am on disability and medicare and have no family or anyone who could take me in. There is more then just one of me. What do you propose then? That we just live in the street if the safety net is withdrawn?)

  83. Why should a decision not to vote be called ‘principled’ if it is done as a protest against Obama but voting for Obama is not principled if it is done to keep candidates and a party with the credentials listed by Eeyore at 4:50 pm out of office? Does anyone here argue that a Romney presidency would roll back the trauma done to civil liberties under Bush and Obama? There is no third choice that could win and would do so.

    Tony C actually came closest to an alternate voting strategy that makes sense: voting against your and others best interest in order to stimulate a backlash that would be in opposition to the status quo of both parties. I call that the berserker strategy, the hell in a hand-basket sooner rather than later strategy, a firing squad v. the death of a thousand cuts. But if that’s what the principled non-voters here hope would happen, then vote and work for Romney. Get with the program and actively work for a political re-set. Anything less is just self indulgent, way too precious for me. I’d vote for Romney if I couldn’t hold my nose and vote for Obama.

    I too think that we need a re-set to zero but some thoughts have intruded on my desire: both candidates have the same view regarding the constitution in general; once you lose a right (or big program) you don’t get it back anytime soon- think generations; the Republicans are insane and want to turn this country into a fundamentalist theocracy. There are more things that have decided my vote but after “the Republicans are insane/theocracy” why bother wit listing them? It ‘s just dicta thereafter.

    I also know that this country treated its citizens very badly in general and as targeted specific groups for generations, progress was slow in coming and a democratic utopia is still nowhere in sight. But things changed. Many changes bought with blood in our streets. Things can change back, and back from there, again.

    I have simply written off some things that we enjoyed but no longer actually have. They’re gone for the next 4 years no matter who gets elected. They may be written off for much longer. The question for me is what do I do, vote wise, with what’s left? It’s not to vote for the crazy people that would take those things left away also- that would just be stupid, for me.

    I’m just not so principled nor so cynical that I’m ready for a Kristallnacht against what’s left of America, though Tony C’s rationale (as elaborated to Elaine) is very, very attractive to me. Do it quick and now, sooner rather than later. So I advocate that our principled non-voters get off the pot and vote for Romney because that is what your non-participation will equate to. Do it, vote Romney, I’d respect that. I just can’t do it.

  84. Swarthmoremom, Who are “my guys”? How many times do I need to say I’m independent? Look @ my first comment on this thread and numerous others I’ve made elsewhere. When you think like a partisan, and someone just makes a point, they must be “one of those guys.” It’s myopic and in my case just flat ass wrong.

  85. Good posts lee and lotta. I can’t see you working for a mormon bishop, lotta. Also, the judges Romney appoints get life time appointments. It won’t be quick as Tony C suggests.

  86. MESPO72:

    Aren’t you the guy whose proud to have voted both terms for Bush & Cheney, the 2 chickenhawk nitwits that didn’t get anything right in their 2 terms, you know, the ones who dreamed up the Patriot Act & rammed through (thanks only to the majority of spineless Democrats) the Military Commissions Act that eliminated Habeas Corpus, asleep at the wheel during 911, so confident about WMD’s in Iraq, bullshitting about yellow cake uranium in Niger, deploying humvees with canvas doors, proclaiming they’ll greet us as liberators, the criminal architects of the bank bailouts, the grotesque spending under the banner of conservatism, alongside a long litany other crimes so loathsome it generates nothing but contempt & disgust in the hearts of at least 2 billion literate people around the globe.

    You have zero credibility here. You only think you do because the regulars here are too kind to tar, feather & shove you back under the rock you slithered out from.

  87. Obama ran on “change” in 2008, but Mitt Romney represents a far more real and seismic shift in the American landscape. Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart. The entire purpose of the business model that Romney helped pioneer is to move money into the archipelago from the places outside it, using massive amounts of taxpayer-subsidized debt to enrich a handful of billionaires. It’s a vision of society that’s crazy, vicious and almost unbelievably selfish, yet it’s running for president, and it has a chance of winning. Perhaps that change is coming whether we like it or not. Perhaps Mitt Romney is the best man to manage the transition. But it seems a little early to vote for that kind of wholesale surrender.

    — Matt Taibbi, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, Rolling Stone, August 29, 2012.

  88. J.T. said

    “President Bush ordered the killing of an American citizen when he approved a drone strike on a car in Yemen that he knew contained an American citizen as a passenger.”

    Yet 90-95% of this blog’s readers believe the bush 9/11 fairy tale, Apollo Moon landing hoaxes, that “lone nut” Oswald is who killed President Kennedy etc.

    Rationalize voting for O if you wish, but I won’t be fooled again.

  89. Tony C.,

    “Why should I care about the pain and despair of the elderly without families to care for them who might lose government assistance?”

    You’re the one who is willing to let the elderly suffer while a new world order is remade. I guess you didn’t catch the sarcasm in my question.

    What are Romney and Ryan willing to do to Medicare? Destroy it–and give the elderly a voucher program that won’t cover the services that Medicare does.

    I suggest you take in some of the elderly and infirm when they are left homeless because of the elimination of government assistance. Why not do your part–since you are willing to set them adrift to make a political point.

    We don’t vote for the programs. Congress does…remember?

  90. Thanks Rafflkaw and SWM.
    Tony you said: As for “who is worse” in this cycle, let me point out that regardless of what Romney says he will do, to my knowledge he has NEVER taken an extra-constitutional action while in elected office, and Obama has. So you do not know exactly what Romney will do.
    No Romney was only governor. I have not checked so do not know if what you say is a fact. What I do know ifs that many repubs are attempting to remove the right to vote from many people to “help Romney win:” in the words of Mike Turzai, a Pa representative. Tells me that the repubs have no problem with abusing the rights of the people. (and Romney represents the repub party ergo……..)

  91. leejcarrol,

    Romney was governor of my state. He isn’t as moderate as some people may think. He did and said what he had to do to get elected in one of the bluest states in this country. The governorship of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was just a stepping stone to the presidency for Romney. Soon after he took office, he began campaigning around the country–and badmouthing the state he had just been elected to represent. I have absolutely no use for the man/chameleon.

  92. SwM,

    I’m not referring to an Independent party … independent thinking … non-partisan.

    It’s very doable in our lifetime.

  93. Rather than compare the two American football teams political parties as “lesser of two evils” or “better than”, think of both of them working together as a well oiledratchet (Also see here) :

    The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.

    The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.

    The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.

    Here’s how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes. […] In fact, the Democrats’ rightward shift not only enables the Republicans to move farther right themselves; it actually compels them to do so, if they want to maintain their identity as the angry-white-guy party par excellence. (A great part of the Republicans’ hysterical hatred of Bill Clinton arose from this cause: with Democrats like Clinton, who needs Republicans?)

    The ratchet clicks: Nixon. The pawl holds: Carter. Click again: Reagan. And again: Bush Senior (and Iraq War I). The pawl holds: Clinton. Click: Bush Junior and Iraq War II; then another click, and it’s Bush Junior triumphant, and God knows what to come.

    Tony C’s strategy of gridlock is not at all far fetched (much less so than paralyzing fear on the one hand or hyperbole on the other). Gridlock has worked time and again in both Democratic and Republican Presidencies to avoid or mitigate calamity. Obama on the other hand has publicly stated that he will put the social saftey net on the chopping block of negotiations and he has a very compliant majority of Democrat;s in the Senate. Tony C is hardly alone in pointing out that this is far more destructive than if a Republican president did the same thing as it puts the Democratic seal of approval on going after what used to be the very soul of their party. The road to privatization will be short indeed after that initial treachery.

    I think it would be helpful if we could take away the two contender’s names and party affiliations and simply call them x and y and even shift those names around. Instead, we would simply get a cheat sheet each day accurately and factually summarizing their positions on relevant issues.

  94. Elaine, I have yet to hear real plans from the man.I think Romney just wants the title, I am not so sure he really cares about the job (or more then the 1%)

  95. lee, Romney’s strategy is to appear to be the generic republican. You know the generic republican polls better than one that takes stands. The party platform and his choice of Ryan speak volumes.

  96. What surprises me is the people I thought were intelligent telling me they were voting for Romney, parroting the lies that have proven to be lies. Yesterday talking to someone who was a history major and is on top of things, I was floored when he told me Obama would make us communist like the European countries. There is no way to refute the ignorance.

  97. Matt Taibbi: The Secret to Mitt Romney’s Fortune? Greed, Debt and Forcing Others to Foot the Bill
    Democracy Now
    8/30/12
    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/30/matt_taibbi_the_secret_to_mitt

    Excerpt:
    AMY GOODMAN: Lay it out for us. Excellent piece, investigative piece, on Mitt Romney’s wealth. Where did it start?

    MATT TAIBBI: Well, you know, for me, it started when I had to cover this campaign earlier this year, and I was listening to Romney’s stump speech about debt. You know, he came up with this whole image of a prairie fire of debt raging across America that was literally going to burn children alive in the future. And I kept thinking to myself, does nobody know what this guy did for a living and how he made his money? You know, Mitt Romney is unabashedly a leverage buyout artist. And a leverage buyout artist is a guy who borrows lots of money that other companies have to pay back. And that’s the simple formula.

    He started out—his most famous deals, of course, are essentially venture capital deals like the Staples situation, where he built a company from the ground up. But after Staples, he switched to a different model, that he preferred for the rest of his professional career, in which he took over existing companies by putting down small amounts of his own cash, borrowing the rest from—typically from a giant investment bank, taking over controlling stakes in companies, and then forcing those companies to pay him either through management fees or through dividends. And that’s his business formula.

    AMY GOODMAN: Explain what private equity is.

    MATT TAIBBI: Well, that is what a private equity fund does. They’re essentially—it’s a synonym for what in the ’80s we called the leverage buyout business. It’s a small group that raises capital and then goes and leverages takeovers of companies using borrowed money. In the ’80s, these—this sort of business was glamorized through a couple of things, in particular, in pop culture. One was the movie Wall Street, where Gordon Gekko, the famous Michael Douglas character from the Oliver Stone movie, was essentially a private equity guy. He was a leverage buyout takeover artist. And the other one was a book called Barbarians at the Gate, which was a true story of the takeover of RJR Nabisco by a company called KKR, which was another Bain Capital-like takeover company. And that’s what they are. They’re essentially guys who borrow money to take over companies and extract wealth from those companies to pay off their investors.

    AMY GOODMAN: Matt, you say that Mitt Romney is not the flip-flopper that critics say he is.

    MATT TAIBBI: Yeah. I mean, this is a sort of a subtle point about Mitt Romney. It’s funny. I don’t want to stretch this comparison too much, but, you know, there’s—it’s almost like he has a kind of a religious conviction about being able to lie to people outside of the tent, so to speak. You know, there’s that tenet of some forms of extreme Muslim religions where it’s OK to lie to the infidel. And I think Mitt Romney has a little bit of that. He seems to believe that it’s OK, that there’s nothing particularly wrong with changing one’s mind about things, and he does it repeatedly in a way that I think is different from other politicians. For him, it’s just changing a business strategy, and he doesn’t see why everybody should get so upset about it.

    AMY GOODMAN: You say that Mitt Romney has a vision, that he’s trying for something big. Lay out what that vision is.

    MATT TAIBBI: Well, Mitt Romney is really the representative of an entire movement that’s taken over the American business world in the last couple of decades. You know, America used to be—especially the American economy was built upon this brick-and-mortar industrial economy, where we had factories, we built stuff, and we sold it here in America, and we exported it all over the world. That manufacturing economy was the foundation for our wealth and power for a couple of centuries. And then, in the ’80s, we started to transform ourselves from a manufacturing economy to a financial economy. And that process, which, you know, on Wall Street we call financialization, was really led that—sort of this revolution, where instead of making products, we made transactions, we made financial products, like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. We created money through financial transactions rather than building products and selling them around the world. And that revolution was really led by people like Mitt Romney. And the advantage of financialization, from the point of view of the very rich and the people who run the American economy, is that it was extremely efficient at extracting wealth and kicking it upward, whereas the old manufacturing economy had the sort of negative effect of spreading around to the entire population. In the financialization revolution, you can take all of the money, and you don’t have to spread it around with anybody. And Mitt Romney was kind of a symbol of that fundamental shift in our economy.

  98. “Hank Williams Jr. repeated his anti-Obama tirade at a concert in Texas on Sunday. Performing at the Stockyards Music Festival, the country singer went on an extended rant against the president.

    “We’ve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him,” Williams Jr. bellowed. As the Dallas Sun reported, the crowd responded with a loud cheer.

    This is the second time in recent weeks the singer has used heated language when describing his distaste for the president. A late August concert featured Williams Jr. doing the same bit, though the dig at homosexuals appears to be a new addition to his schtick.

    In October 2011, the singer went on “Fox and Friends” to liken the president to Hitler.

    His comments put him squarely in the company of Ted Nugent, another singer known for lambasting the president without a particular regard for temperance. More on Nugent available in the gallery below. For more on Williams Jr., head over to the Dallas Sun.” Huffington Post

  99. Women Who Love Republicans Who Hate Them
    Katha Pollitt
    August 29, 2012
    http://www.thenation.com/article/169630/women-who-love-republicans-who-hate-them

    Excerpt:
    I know there is no monolithic voting bloc called “women”—femaleness, like maleness, is cross-cut with race, education, class, income, ethnicity, religion, marital status, even geography. I also know we all make allowances for our own side, which usually boils down to forgiving men for sexual shenanigans and insulting “gaffes” (aka blurting out their true feelings) that no woman politician would get away with. But with that fully acknowledged, I still want to say: Women! WTF?! After all the weird, heartless, misogynistic, ignorant things Republican men have said about women and pregnancy and rape over the past month, I’m ashamed for my sex that any woman is still planning to vote for Romney and Ryan.

    And a lot of them are: 51 percent of white women, to be exact. What’s the matter with them? Do they have Stockholm syndrome? And how about you, women of Virginia—21 percent of whom in a just-issued Public Policy Polling survey say they “strongly” agree that abortion should be banned even in cases of rape and incest? (For women 18 to 29, it’s 32 percent.)

    Ladies, I doubt you read The Nation, but I’m going to say it anyway: The Republican Party is not your friend! It does not respect you or even like you. Rush Limbaugh thinks women who use birth control are sluts and prostitutes. Ann Coulter regrets that women can even vote. Most recently, you may have heard, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said it’s “really rare” for women to get pregnant from rape because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” He has said he “misspoke” about “legitimate” rape—he meant “forcible,” another problematic word—and denies believing that women have magic sperm-killing plumbing. But both ideas—that only some rape really counts as rape, and that such rape doesn’t cause pregnancies—have long, inglorious Republican pedigrees. Some highlights:

    § In 1988, Pennsylvania Republican State Representative Stephen Freind said that women emit “a certain secretion” that stops pregnancy when they are raped.

    § In 1995, North Carolina Republican State Representative Henry Aldridge said that when a woman is raped, “the juices don’t flow” so she can’t get pregnant.

    § In 1998, Arkansas Republican Senate candidate Dr. Fay Boozman claimed that hormones prevented rape from resulting in pregnancy. Boozman lost the election, but Governor Mike Huckabee appointed him to run the state Department of Health.

    § In 2004, President Bush appointed to the federal bench James Leon Holmes, who had stated in 1980, “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

    Nor is Akin the only rape skeptic in today’s GOP. In March 2012, Idaho State Senator Chuck Winder said, “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape.” Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith recently said that his daughter faced “something similar” to the situation of a pregnant rape victim because she decided to have a baby “out of wedlock.” And Iowa Representative Steve King remarked that he’d never heard of a girl getting pregnant from rape.

    Should your magical uterus fail you, Mike Huckabee supports carrying your rapist’s baby: “Even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.” Well, who says they aren’t? The issue is whether the woman should be forced by law to bear her rapist’s wonder tot.

    Paul Ryan and Todd Akin wanted to restrict coverage of abortion to victims of “forcible rape” in their version of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, sponsored by 217 Republicans (and, sadly, ten Democrats). In the wake of Akin, Ryan has defended the term as “stock language.” John Willke, the mad physician who founded the National Right to Life Committee, has been denying that rape causes pregnancy for decades (“the tubes are spastic,” he recently explained to the New York Times). Romney welcomed Willke’s endorsement in 2008 (“I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country”). Willke says they met last October and that Romney assured him they agree on “almost everything.”

  100. The “Flower Child” radiates the scent of an intelligent life form.

    Obviously this is still a nominally free country (lest you be renditioned to scrutiny under Obama’s death panel) wherein bloggers of all repute can chime in with myriad oratory atop their respective soap boxes — but the fact is with all such blogs the erudite founder generates such a following that they can fairly be labelled as groupies.

    Needless to say this blog has dozens of “groupies” and they all know who they are, that is, they consistently agree with over 99% of the Professor’s writings, except when it comes to one thing, and that is, how a principled constitutionalist is supposed to vote this November.

    Months ago, after Professor Turley wrote scathing indictments in every publication he could get published in about the flagrant abdication of centuries of constitutional jurisprudence by the Obama administration, I predicted, as a learned scholar in the behavioral sciences, that Professor Turley, out of sheer principles, would never ever vote for Obama in 2012, even though I predicted with certainty he did in 2008.

    Science in general & social science in particular is validated through predictive success. So if I can predict with 100% accuracy the fact that in 2008 Turley voted for Obama but in 2012 Turley would NEVER vote for Obama then as a behavioral scientist I’ve discovered something big. I know what that big discovery is but the question remains — do you folks understand?

  101. Karl,

    “Needless to say this blog has dozens of “groupies” and they all know who they are, that is, they consistently agree with over 99% of the Professor’s writings, except when it comes to one thing, and that is, how a principled constitutionalist is supposed to vote this November.”

    Can you provide specifics? Can you name the “dozens of groupies” of whom you speak?

  102. Here’s a perspective worth considering: “Obamobedience

    By davidswanson – Posted on 29 August 2012

    Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine spoke prior to Obama’s speech on
    Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. He had praise for anyone signing up to go to war in Afghanistan. “We can still put our positive thumbprint on that nation,” he said, to wild cheers. Imagine the competition among the world’s nations to get our thumbprint next! Imagine what it costs to get our assprint.

    “So, who are you voting for?” an Obama follower asked me prior to the event. I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).

    The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama’s willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called “Bush” tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama’s sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.

    “So, who are you going to vote for?”

    “Well,” I said, “you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda — that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?”

    “Yeah, I see, but I’m trying to understand who you think we should vote for.”

    “Let me try again. Take Obama’s kill list for . . . ”

    “His what?”

    “President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?”

    “Well what’s the alternative?”

    “The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don’t know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people.”

    “No, what’s the alternative to Obama? Isn’t the other guy worse?”

    “Let me try again. You’ll grant me that women didn’t vote themselves the right to vote. Will you go along with that? They didn’t get the right to vote by voting for it?”

    “Yes.”

    “And the civil rights movement didn’t end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly? That wouldn’t have worked as well and wouldn’t have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right? We don’t accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn’t endorse candidates, right? And if you’d asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?”

    “So, you’re not going to vote for anybody?”

    “I’m not sure I’m being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he’s ending it. Romney doesn’t mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we’re satisfied — regardless of who we’re going to vote for?”

    “Well, you can have your opinion about Afghanistan, but that’s no reason to character assassinate the President.”

    “Seventy percent of the country is character assassinating the president by wanting to get out of Afghanistan? Or only if you mention it out loud? How do you character assassinate someone? Did you catch the part where I pointed out that Obama actually assassinates people?”

    Three of us went into the event. I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue. We didn’t go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he’d given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube. Thousands of people did that. We went in to disturb the war.

    We wanted to shout. But what could we shout? We were only three. We were not near the front. (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You’ll own the place.) We would have to be loud and clear. We couldn’t mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people. We couldn’t mention Social Security because they pretend Obama’s not threatening it. We couldn’t mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant. We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!

    Here’s how the Washington Post’s blog reported on that:

    “Protesters drown out Obama

    “Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
    “CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama’s speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard ‘Get out of Afghanistan!’ The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: ‘Four more years!’ and ‘O-ba-ma!’ Obama couldn’t continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: ‘I couldn’t hear what those young people had to say, but that’s good that they got involved.’ To the rest of the crowd, he said: ‘Don’t just chant! Vote!'”

    Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people. He’d tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there. The crowd didn’t shout us down till we’d run out of breath. They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their “U-S-A! U-S-A!” In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell “O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!” Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity. Don’t just hold teach-ins, vote! Don’t just occupy the square, vote! Don’t just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.

    As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us. After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service. The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration. The police had mentioned freedom of speech. The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent. The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they’d been able, and if they weren’t suffering under the misconception that it’s been closed.”

  103. Karl F: …”do you folks understand?”

    No. What is your point? It seems to be little more than disdain for 99% of the visitors to this blawg, characterized as “groupies”, and a hypothesis that the Professor voted for Obama in 2008 and won’t in 2012. So?

  104. Karl,
    I hate to ruin your evening, but I told you earlier that it doesn’t matter if some of us agree or disagree with Prof. Turley’s choice for President. Free speech means all of us can express who we want or don’t want for President. Free speech is what this blog is all about. You get your shot and so do the rest of us.

  105. Brooklin Bridge, Your analysis of the rightward move of both parties is a good observation. With each shift the policies advocated would have been unthinkable just a few years previously. At any given cycle the citizenry is faced with an increasingly limited, or more properly, an artificially lowered ceiling on its goals and expectations. We settle for less. Less and less and less.

    I read about a study that attempted to find out about risk taking behaviour and if it was correlated to the amount of resources one brought to a situation where risk taking was necessary to succeed at a task. This might help explain the correlation of lower economy voters to vote conservatively even if it did not seem to be in their benefit. The results from the study groups were that the fewer the resources, the less risk with them that the subjects were willing to take even though to succeed one must take the risks presented.

    That sure sounds… familiar?

  106. I absolutely disagree with what Professor Turley has to say in this article…. NOT to mention a few other articles…
    However, I do at least like the fact that the people here, that I may not agree with, put their arguments in a much better, tone and make it about IDEAS… IDEALS… and differing opinion on policy… NOT personal attacks on Obama as a person….

    also, if I may… You learn NOTHING, by only talking with people you agree with…

  107. For those planning to not vote, or vote for Rmoney, I have just a few words as a reminder: It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! (I have an attorney blogger friend who uses that phrase for her blog handle).

  108. raff, to have another Alito, Scalia, Thomas or Roberts on the court for another generation would be a disaster. In the next four years there is a good chance we are looking at a possible two more Justices. On top of that, Thomas and Scalia are getting a little long in the tooth as well, and I don’t know what kind of health they are in. Both seem to be overweight, which puts them in a high risk group, especially considering their age. It is within the realm of possibility, although not likely, whoever is in office the next four years could be looking to appoint as many as three or four Justices.

    Personally, I do not want to see ideologues on either extreme of the political spectrum. I want to see really smart, honest, scholarly and ethical lawyers in those seats. Judges who have a deep and abiding respect for the Bill of Rights as well as the other provisions of the Constitution as well as human rights.

  109. Makes me wonder what it takes to be on the kill list. Every future president will now have this power. Imagine a nixon with a kill list that carries the legitamcy of law…

  110. TonyC.

    Your post to ElaineM is interesting in that you point indirectly to the benefits of a parliamentary system.

    There the party binds itself to programs, type SS or Medicare. There is generally, with wrirein exceptions, no local politician who sells his own lies to that constituency’s prejudicesa and preferences. He is bound to follow the program (after long painful internal discussions.

    Anyway, we are not going to get parliamentarism anytime soon.

    But you pointed at the right problem. Nobody is accountable in this system for doing bad programs, nor for the lies they have made.
    Good man.

  111. You guys need to pay attention to the whole jist of the article. A so-called Constitiontal Lawyer lays blame on black guy Obama for not being civil rights enough. The so called Constitutional Lawyer is chatting with some schmuck and they denigrate the President on this and that and not anything really of substance. The Turley guy is smoozing for something under The Willard. Probably a job on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. On that court there is not control by Senator this or that from say the First Circuit. So, it will be up to the Willard and very few nominees get denied by a compliant Senate. So, Turelyboy gets appointed and then he works the system again and hopes that The Willard will appoint him to the Supreme Court. Oh yeah! This is what is going on. Be there or be square.

  112. The greatest threat to freedom of the American People is not the terrorists, the Russians, North Korea, Iran, or any other boogymen of common folklore, it is a dubious congress, president, or US Supreme Court. These three can take away your freedom faster than any of the former, and we will be so foolish to hand them the pen to sign it away.

    While most politicians and Supreme Court Justices do not want this to happen, their institutions are fully capable of doing so if nefarioius people assume office.

  113. Darren Smith, for the one, small, individual person (and Idealist, the Talmud says, in effect, that the one-person unit is the only actual reality, more later on that), any trial court judge in any county in any state of the Union can do all that you envision happening (collectively) from “a dubious congress, president, or US Supreme Court.” And this happens on a daily basis. On a single day in a single proceeding without an evidentiary hearing and in a procedural manner not authorized by any legislature at any time, one single judge in Virginia (a highly respected judge, by the way, but one who gave a litigant a whole new trial as a reward for having sued the prior judge on the case) took from me my First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Nineteenth Amendment rights, made an order that could not be appealed (because it is a mixed civil and criminal order in a court of chancery, which does not exist and therefore no court has jurisdiction to review it) and that is still being enforced against me although I cannot get a hearing to challenge its validity. ANY JUDGE CAN DO THIS.

    The greatest threat to freedom of the American People is not the terrorists, the Russians, North Korea, Iran, or any other boogymen of common folklore; it is our corruption in the common places. It is the thugs who fly lower than radar and victimize people who simply get regarded as lunatics if they object to the kind of corruption that does not involve sex in the oval orifice.

  114. “Barack Obama is one of those people who are often wrong but never in doubt. When he burst upon the national political scene as a presidential candidate in 2008, even some conservatives were impressed by his confidence.

    But confident ignorance is one of the most dangerous qualities in a leader of a nation. If he has the rhetorical skills to inspire the same confidence in himself by others, then you have the ingredients for national disaster.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/09/04/obamas_dreams

  115. @Elaine: I guess you didn’t catch the sarcasm in my question.

    I guess you are fundamentally incapable of seeing more than a year into the future.

    What are Romney and Ryan willing to do to Medicare? Destroy it–and give the elderly a voucher program that won’t cover the services that Medicare does.

    Yes, I know that. And then they will reduce the vouchers (or let inflation do it for them) until they are worthless.

    You seem to think you are arguing with a grade schooler, I am fully aware of precisely what they will do. They will try to destroy it. You are not fully aware of what the electorate will do in response. Do you think they will just gnash their teeth and wail? Do you think they will just surrender? NO.

    I suggest you take in some of the elderly and infirm when they are left homeless because of the elimination of government assistance.

    I expect I will be doing more than average filling the gap for those in my own family.

    I suggest you change your myopic focus from the immediate consequences of your personal voting policy to its long term consequences.

    That is what Brooklin is doing above with the “ratchet” post, and that is what Turley is doing by decrying the Red State / Blue State paradigm that produces the polarization to which you are victim.

    The optimal solution is NOT always choosing the best of what is immediately in front of you; and that is what you are doing. That optimization algorithm, in fact, is called The Greedy Algorithm. People naturally employ this all the time, and that tendency can be exploited and choices manipulated.

    But The Greedy Algorithm famously fails, and spectacularly, when the best immediate choice is not part of the optimal long term solution. That is the mistake you are making, and the mistake that leads to Brooklin’s ratchet paradigm.

    What can stop that ratchet paradigm? Breaking the pawl. How do we do that? The same way the Tea Party has already shown us; refuse to vote for “moderates” and “traitors to the cause” even if that flips the seat to the other side. If liberals and civil libertarians did that, the “holding action” of the pawl would be broken.

    What scares modern politicians more than anything is being voted out of office. It is usually a political-career-ending event, and the end of playing loose with campaign cash, the end of privilege and honor and deference, the end of their personal fiefdom, staff, and status.

    The one and only reason the Republicans fell in line with the Tea Party demands when they first emerged was because of this singular strategy of voting against anybody that failed to hew to their platform with religious conviction. They refused to vote for the lesser of two evils, and Republicans lost seats to Democrats, and the Tea Party was unchastened, and promised to do it again.

    That is what scared the bejeesus out of Republicans, a realized threat of losing office, and they fell all over themselves scrambling to swear allegiance. (They have since defused the Tea Party dummies with money, subterfuge and sociopaths like Gingrich).

    No amount of letter writing, donations, pleading, blogging, protests or rallies or petitions is going to sway a sitting politician. They care about one thing, and that is staying in office, and none of those actions are a threat when their base will vote for them no matter what, because the alternative is worse.

    The solution to the problem is not LESS ideology, it is MORE of it, which is how the Tea Party briefly became dominant. It was their absolutist demands that forced the Republican change of direction, and that is the correct approach: Abandon the Red State / Blue State paradigm, and suffer temporary losses for longer term gain.

    The Greedy Algorithm is inherently short-sighted, and that is why it fails. Short-sightedness is what smokers suffer from, what the obese suffer from, what college drop-outs suffer from, they pursue an immediate reward at the expense of their longer term physical or financial health.

    Short sightedness is the route to failure in life, and I believe your short-sighted protection of the current cohort of the needy will doom the many future cohorts to pain and misery, as every election lets the ratchet click one more degree toward the destruction of their safety net, because you will NEVER stand up and punish the corpo-corrupted incumbent Democrats that let it happen, because there is always somebody worse than them on the ballot.

  116. :THE LIST for when I am President:

    Eighth Grade Algebra Teacher. Mr Campbell

    That guy in the grey suburban who cut me off. I might not be able to find you right now but just you wait till I have the CIA

    That woman who left her dog in a car with the windows up in 95* heat. Out side Pennys . We had words . I told her she’d be sorry one day!

    Oh yeah and the ones that Uncle Klause whispers to me about that no one else seems to be able to hear…………

  117. Bron:

    “Mespo:

    I didnt know you came from under a rock, that is news to me. I thought the stork brought you.”

    *********************

    That, or parthenogenesis — not sure which. I’ll have to consult with Karl.

  118. Tony C, You said repeatedly in 2010 that the democrats should be punished but who was really punished? Women in states that limited their healthcare and reproductive freedom and imposed invasive medical procedures on them. You are not being very sensitive to poor women in South Texas. Maybe you need to plug real people into your model.

  119. Bottom line here is that you choose from the choice you are given. If you drop out you lose the right to complain about the result. If you don’t like the candidates get involved: start a new party; involve yourself in the campaign process for the powers that be; or become a delegate. Griping that the parties don’t provide the ideal candidate you want does nothing but perpetuate the myth that politics is a spectator sport. It isn’t. That’s why they call it a participatory democracy.

    You can’t stay in the grandstand forever and complain the team isn’t performing as well as if you were on it. You lose face.

  120. Tony,

    I’m not short-sighted. I’m a realist. I recall the elections of 2010. We got some new Republican governors–who have made matters worse for many of the working people in their states…who are helping to pass laws that will likely disenfranchise millions of voters.

    You think I talk to you like you are a grade schooler. You speak to me as if I am ignorant, ill-informed, and can’t see past the tip of my nose. I am always wrong when I disagree with your perspective on a subject. You are always the smarter one in the discussion. You lecture me. That’s okay–I’ve gotten used to it.

    I happen to think that your plan is akin to the cure that is worse than the disease,

  121. @leejcarol: I have not checked so do not know if what you say is a fact.

    And yet, by reading Turley’s article, you do know that Obama has taken the worst possible anti-constitutional acts imaginable? Violating a citizen’s rights to life and liberty without charges, trial, or even notification?

    The fact that you cannot name an anti-Constitutional act of Romney means any he has done are innocuous enough to go unnoticed; Taibbi documents a hundred repulsive acts but not a single illegal act, much less an anti-Constitutional one. So you are left with nothing but wild speculation of what he MAY do based upon his Party affiliation.

    Should I assume that all Democrats that intend to vote for Obama are also enthusiastic supporters of his claimed powers of summary execution of American citizens at his sole discretion? You all belong to the same Party, after all.

  122. Democracy is perhaps better than most systems …. It is a deeply flawed system … it is a form of mob rule. The philosopher Kant said that every human should be an end unto it’s self ….. I agree with this stance. No one should be used as grist for the mill. No one should be cannon fodder or collateral damage. Voting for POTUS is an evil process. Having a POTUS is an out-dated idea. Someday soon…. people will move on from thinking with their amygdala ( the product of 1,000,000 years of evolution ) and depending on their powers of reason. No one “owes” anything to another except by way of mutual agreement ( contracts ) . Check out 99IPPP & 99Sophont2

  123. Sorry… typo correction

    Democracy is perhaps better than most systems …. It is a deeply flawed system … it is a form of mob rule. The philosopher Kant said that every human should be an end unto it’s self ….. I agree with this stance. No one should be used as grist for the mill. No one should be cannon fodder or collateral damage. Voting for POTUS is an evil process. Having a POTUS is an out-dated idea. Someday soon…. people will move on from thinking with their amygdala ( the product of 1,000,000 years of evolution ) and depend on their powers of reason. No one “owes” anything to another except by way of mutual agreement ( contracts ) . 99guspuppet Check out 99IPPP & 99Sophont2

  124. Tony C, If you trust Romney and his advisor Jon Bolton to do a better job in upholding the constitution, go for it.

  125. @Elaine: who have made matters worse for many of the working people in their states

    I think the fact that you say this, as if it supports your view, is evidence of your short-sightedness, which you prefer to characterize as “realism.”

    When in fact it is precisely what I want to happen, because the “working people” and “disenfranchised” are the people that aren’t voting, dammit, and the only thing that will get them to vote is, unfortunately, making matters worse, and disenfranchisement.

    I do not think you are either ignorant or ill-informed, but I do think you are short-sighted to the point of harming your own self-interest. I am not lecturing you, I am trying to find a logical argument that can get through to you, within the constraints of this medium.

    You taught school, so let me try that: If you give every kid in the class an “A”, no matter how well they do, then the students that really could excel do not bother, because there is no reward. The entire class stops trying, because it makes no difference if they try or do not. Students work for recognition, acceptance, admiration, and in general Reward. If you do not selectively reward them in some way, even if it is just acknowledging their superior job with a smiley face or verbal congrats, they will do their time and expend the minimal effort.

    Flip that over: Bad grades are what make Good grades worthwhile. Punishment for bad performance is what makes people try to do better.

    The approval for Congress is at 11%, but 80% of voters are still staying home. There are twin forks here: How did Congress get to the point that they do not care what we think of them? Because they always get an “A” no matter how little effort they make, the Red State / Blue State paradigm works to ensure that.

    The second fork is with the voters; why do 80% of eligible voters not bother to vote? Because there is no punishment for them in not voting, so they take the easy way out. Perhaps if there IS punishment when Republican governors harm them or try to disenfranchise them, they will make the effort to quash the conservatives and restore liberalism.

    The harm is unfortunate, but not unrecoverable, and if that is the only way to make people angry enough to vote for liberals then the sacrifices of those harmed are the sacrifices of soldiers in the war against greed and selfishness. There is no free lunch, wars are not won with rhetoric.

  126. @Swarthmore: If you trust Romney and his advisor Jon Bolton to do a better job in upholding the constitution, go for it.

    Obviously I do not, I expect them to do us harm. Clearly you are also so pathologically short-sighted you cannot see the logic of suffering in the short term to improve your long term prospects.

    Once you have walked into a blind alley, the only way out is to temporarily reverse course and try another route. Liberalism is in a blind alley and will probably die there because it cannot bring itself to ever suffer a strategic loss.

  127. Tony C.,
    until Romney becomes President, he is not in a position to take an extra-constitutional action. All we can judge him on is his words and as Swarthmore Mom linked to earlier, he has joined the neocon mantra that waterboarding is not torture. I have to admit, using that mantra gained them a no prosecution result from the DOJ and Holder and Obama. Maybe we should all use it and then none of us will ever be put on the kill list.

  128. Tony,

    I am so sorry that you have to work so hard to help me understand your superior logic.

    You’re not lecturing me? Who knew? Ah, you’re merely talking down to me. I don’t need you to provide me with grade school scenarios. I disagree with you. Live with it!

    I am the one who is trying to avoid going down a blind alley. You can go there–if you want. I choose not to.

    *****

    Swarthmore mom,

    Only Tony can see the correct path forward. You and I? We can’t. We’re too short-sited…pathologically so.

  129. “I think that people have to accept that they own this decision, that they can walk away. I realize that this is a tough decision for people but maybe, if enough people walked away, we could finally galvanize people into action to make serious changes. We have to recognize that our political system is fundamentally broken, it’s unresponsive.”

    I agree with everything stated in the article and deeply respect both Professor Turley (obviously) and John Cusack (as both an actor and an activist). Beyond that since my parents kept me home from school to watch the Army vs. McCarthy hearings, civil liberties has been my major political interest. In this respect and in my own career I have always upheld peoples rights to civil liberties, sometimes at my own peril. However, recognizing that all of what the two Johns said in their discussion about this Administration’s rationalizing oppressive activity is true, I will cast my vote for Obama without a qualm.
    Again here’s why:

    I won’t pretend that this country is either a democracy, or the republic it was intended to be. I’m not certain that historically it was ever more than the
    self-serving fabrications of the very wealthy Revolutionary class to advance their own interests by organizing a revolution by the masses against a colonial power that cramped their style. Like many people of intelligence who do things that their ow morality condemns the Founding Fathers were able to rationalize the dichotomy between “All men are created equal” and the “original sin” of countenancing slavery.

    America has used its purported “freedom” as a sop to the citizenry, just as the propaganda of the “America Dream” has allowed the masses to buy into the myths that abound in this country as to our personal freedom and equality. Orwell had it nailed in “Animal Farm” with the phrase “Some Animals are more equal than others”. However, throughout this false history we’ve been propagandized with the one benefit has been that almost by its very nature our elite ruling classes have been infatuated with their own egos and feelings of self worth. Consequently, they are not homogenous in belief. Some believe screw the people as much as you can to not only increase your own version of wealth/power/esteem, but to also let those “peasants” (piss-ants) know their place is to venerate us their betters. The other major group believes that their
    position at the top of the food chain is better served by throwing “crumbs” to the rest of us in the form of a “social safety net” and the illusion of equality under the law.

    Even in the area of foreign policy and national security there was some play in how our ruling class did their business. That was true up until the Cold War and culminated in the assassination of JFK, followed by the cabal that took over this country’s foreign affairs ad security apparatus. I think the ensuing years showed that among the elite and in the election of a President the script of establishing the American Empire was going to be played out in the direction of the “Hawks”. What is left for the Presidency is basically domestic issues, but since 9/11 that has been impinged upon by the encroachment of “national security” issues into American life.

    I personally think that we have reached the tipping point in this election between maintaining the illusion of freedom and outright fascism. The question is what message will we send to the ruling class? Will it be that their money and their propaganda will allow them by R&R’s election to signal that they finally move the country into an outright Fascist/Theocratic/Patriarchal country, or must they continue for awhile to maintain the pretense?

    The idea of voting for none of the above, or not voting, strikes me as futilely playing into the hands of the Plutocracy, since its message is that apathy reins among the weak opposition. Had people who one way or another believe as I do organized some effective mass movement, with even a minimal chance of success towards regaining control count me in. However, except for words this movement does not exist. Given that I’ll vote for at least the “status quo” as unsatisfying as that may be, because it will at least diminish the pain suffered by the masses of people in this country.

    I will never forget the message of many of my radical brethren in the 60’s who constantly talked about organizing, but never got past their own orations. Organize an opposition DAMN-IT and I’m with you, but don’t insult my intelligence by thinking that your opting out will be making any kind of meaningful statement of opposition.

    I saying this I do ot mean to imply that those here who choose not to play the two-party game due to their own ethical beliefs, should violate them by voting for Obama. I respect those beliefs and understand their choice. The opening quote of this comment though implies by these inaction’s a statement is being made that will have any effect on those who rule us and with that I disagree.

  130. TonyC.

    You write a good line, but it is not that suffers the consequences. There obviouly are many who have no one to help them. I can only speak from my situation when my mother’s 3 brothers shoved granny over to her to take care of, mother who has less income than any of them. Dysfunctional? Maybe. But whatever. We can’t let the system go to hell just to make a point with the politicians. And out family is I believe like many others, in spite of the statistics. Bad, yeah, but change humanity if you can.

    They have got us in a vise, and they know it.

    And your idea requires an equivalent of a Teaparty. Those don’t grow on trees.

  131. “Clearly you are also so pathologically short-sighted you cannot see the logic of suffering in the short term to improve your long term prospects.”

    Tony,

    We’ve had this argument before and my contention is that you are blind to the fact that one of us writing here will do the suffering because we obviously have the time to ponder these issues. You though, seem quite willing to let the suffering be borne by those less able to ride it out, as we who write here are.

  132. And yet, by reading Turley’s article, you do know that Obama has taken the worst possible anti-constitutional acts imaginable? Violating a citizen’s rights to life and liberty without charges, trial, or even notification?

    —————————————

    This guy was not just on holiday….
    also.. he was a DUAL Yemeni US Citizen…. and a senior al-Qaida leader….

    This guy GAVE UP being a citizen, when he took up arms against the USA….

    he was notified…. he KNEW he was wanted…

    he was not only a TRAITOR…. he was murdering scum…..

    Personally, I think that any President would have done what Obama did.. Had Bush taken this guy out the same way, I would have been fine with it…

    what if Obama did not take this action, and he planed ANOTHER attack on the USA, and succeeded????

    If he managed to kill other CITIZENS…. Obama would have been blamed, and called SOFT ON Terror…..

    I’m sorry.. But, anybody calling this man a FELLOW American Citizen, is seriously misguided…. YOU give up that right, the second you take up arms against the USA…. It’s called TREASON…. and it is punishable by death…
    Now Obama had one of two options…. doing this as he did, by drone… OR… he could have ordered Special Opps, to go in and extract him, possibly getting a few of our guys killed in the process….

    the man was a traitor…. PUR and simple….

  133. Tony C.,

    I wrote: “I suggest you take in some of the elderly and infirm when they are left homeless because of the elimination of government assistance.”

    You responded: “I expect I will be doing more than average filling the gap for those in my own family.”

    *****

    You expect. So, you have had no experience with caring for elderly/infirm relatives and have no idea what it entails. Maybe you shouldn’t be so critical of those of us who would hate to see the elimination of/cutbacks to programs that help the elderly/infirm from living in poverty, keep them from becoming homeless, provide them with good medical coverage.

  134. FYI: Here’s a good Republican candidate to vote for in ND:

    GOP Senate Candidate Supports Life Sentences For Rape Victims Who Obtain Abortions
    By Annie-Rose Strasser
    Sep 4, 2012
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/09/04/790351/gop-senate-candidate-supported-life-sentences-for-rape-victims-who-obtain-abortions/

    Excerpt:
    Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), the candidate for Senate from North Dakota, once voted for a bill that would have made any woman who obtained an abortion guilty of a homicide crime — even if it were in the case of rape or incest. Indeed, the bill Berg supported does not even contain an explicit exception if an abortion is necessary to save the woman’s life.

    In 2007, Berg was among the small number of state representatives in the North Dakota House who supported the measure. It also would have imposed penalties on doctors and anyone else who “aids, abets, facilitates, solicits, or incites” a person into an abortion:

    A new section to chapter 12.1-16 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:

    Intentional termination of human life – Preborn children. A person is guilty of a class AA felony if the person intentionally destroys or terminates the life of a preborn child. A person that knowingly administers to, prescribes for, procures for, or sells to any pregnant individual any medicine, drug, device, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of a preborn child is guilty of a class AA felony. A person that intentionally or knowingly aids, abets, facilitates, solicits, or incites a person to intentionally destroy or terminate the life of a preborn child is guilt of a class C felony. For purposes of this section, “preborn child” includes a human being from the moment of fertilization until the moment of birth.

    A class AA felony carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole in North Dakota. Chapter 12.1-16 of the North Dakota Century Code is the section of that state’s law that covers homicide crimes such as murder or manslaughter.

    Although one news outlet claims that Berg’s bill contains an exception “when the life of the mother is endangered” such an exception does not appear in the bill’s text. The language of the bill quoted above creates a new homicide crime without any exceptions whatsoever. It is possible that a woman who obtained an abortion to save her life could invoke a provision of North Dakota law permitting self-defense to prevent “imminent unlawful bodily injury, sexual assault, or detention,” although even this is not certain because a life-threatening pregnancy is not “unlawful.”

  135. I hope this comment will be accepted at its face value and nothing more.

    MikeS.

    This was not one of your best written comments, but certainly a most worthy one, which I agree with wholeheartedly.

    A perhaps not important point, but so recently as last night, I was thinking of our holy FFs (Founding Fathers). I realized after a while, that they while perhaps special, were still men motivated by their own interests.

    And they represented colonies who had conflicting views and interests. To confer on them some holy position, and the product in the Constitution as also being holy is ridiculous, if one considers it.

    Thus when you write the following:

    “I’m not certain that historically it was ever more than the self-serving fabrications of the very wealthy Revolutionary class to advance their own interests by organizing a revolution by the masses against a colonial power that cramped their style. Like many people of intelligence who do things that their ow morality condemns the Founding Fathers were able to rationalize the dichotomy between “All men are created equal” and the “original sin” of countenancing slavery.”

    I find my conclusions confirmed, if I understand correctly. And I have written before that the corruption of our Constitution started before the ink had dried.

    By mentioning this point I will in no way say that the other points made are less worthy.

    On the contrary, there are many which resonate with my feeling that we are victims of a conspiracy of competing forces, which may sound peculiar but is in fact possible. There are things they agree on, interests which are supported, but conflicts do occur. But you can be very sure that these ocnflicts are never ones which we the people can use to our advantage.

    Breaking out of this net, this matrix, this chattel system, will require what Jefferson is said to have thought necessary. A revolution—–every twenty years.

    The American experiment is ended. It is locked into a system which no longer experiments in citizen influence.

    80 percent do NOT vote. Here in Sweden, more than 80 percent DO vote. I wonder why. And yet we complain at the lack of engagement at the local level.

    BTW, EVERYBODY is registered to vote, even foreigners such as myself, but only in the town and county elections. But since about 42 percent of your taxes go to those governments, then the programs there are important to all. They devise and administrate a large part of our social net system.

    No response expected. I write to add my voice to the others here.

  136. Elaine, We should want this guy to win to “punish” the democratic woman he is running against. Be sure to sign up for Todd Aken but only for the short term.

  137. Elaine:

    now that is just grand.

    There is a very good Maugham short story about a French woman who is raped by a German soldier during, I think WWI, it should be required reading for politicians.

    I found it, the title is “The Unconquered” and is set during WWII in occupied France.

    Maugham does a very good job of exploring the psyche of the woman.

    He might change his mind after reading that story.

  138. “I won’t pretend that this country is either a democracy, or the republic it was intended to be. I’m not certain that historically it was ever more than the self-serving fabrications of the very wealthy Revolutionary class ….”

    ***************************

    Along Mike S’s line of reasoning I found this quote from an expert:

    We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.

    ~ Thomas Jefferson

  139. @Mike: That argument is invalid; it is the equivalent of arguing that only the military should be allowed to declare war, because only they will bear the losses.

    It is equivalent to declaring that the rich should have a greater say in government and taxation, because they are paying a larger proportion of the bills.

    It is illogical to claim that only the people affected by policy should be allowed to set policy; in the extreme it is like saying only sociopaths without conscience or remorse should be allowed to set laws because they are the only ones really affected by the laws that protect people from their predation.

    To answer your charge: YES, I am willing to let people suffer the harm they bring upon themselves by their own political complacency and stupidity. 80% of people in this country do not vote, at their own peril, and if they did then liberalism, civil liberties and the social safety net would be robust and intact and unassailable. The fact that it is all now “on the table” is their fault, not mine, and anything that wakes them up, even if it hurts, is ultimately in their best interest, not mine.

    I have voted against my own narrow self-interest for my entire adult life, and I will happily pay higher taxes to help those less fortunate than me, but they have GOT to vote for it, and I have given up on any route of getting them to the polls. Nothing has worked, and I think the only thing left is to let them suffer the consequences of their own complacency.

  140. (P.S. Any of you who have not seen Cusack’s anti-war comedy War, Inc., I highly recommend it – acerbic, intelligent and very funny. And if you haven’t seen Better Off Dead, you have a gap in your comedy education.) ~Gene H.
    ——————————————-
    Thank you Gene….I just watched War, Inc. at your recommendation and it is all you say it is, hilarious ala Pulp Fiction and yet frighteningly mirrors what is becoming the new societal ‘norm’….which leaves me running from the room screaming w/hair afire….

  141. It doesn’t seem realistic and it certainly isn’t logical to imagine that voting for a politician gives you control over what they will do. It’s like giving a car dealer the exorbitant price he asks for up front and then trying to negotiate with him to give you some of it back. Nor is it realistic to assume that voting for the lesser evil will protect you and your loved ones from evil. Instead, you will get evil in installments that you have acquiesced to; agreed upon, signed the contract to. There may be good reasons to vote for Obama, (I personally don’t think so), but those two have serious flaws at best. And that is particularly true in the current circumstances where the “Rubicon line” has been crossed, and then re-crossed, and then re-crossed again and “spat on” for good measure, (you f**king retards). The lesser of evil argument might be “realistic” or “responsible” when the evil we are talking about is minor, or when the differences between the two choices/candidates are more significant and not patently fabricated by propaganda, but that does not apply here. As has been listed a gazillion times elsewhere, and as is listed in professor Turley’s interview with John Cusack, Obama has pretty much crossed all the lines that we would ordinarily assume only Republicans can cross. To point to Republicans and say, “crazy” when Democrats are killing Americans with no judicial review and torturing people barely in secret, etc., etc., etc., etc., or see here, is itself just crazy, though perhaps understandable.

    But less understandable are those who would excuse Obama; All presidents do illegal things, boys will be boys, the Rethugs made him do it, (secretly meet with the insurance giants and give away the public option, force him to pull the trigger – literally – on American citizens with no judicial review, no explanation whatsoever except that “it’s a secret”, or Republicans bent his arm to imprison Bradly Manning and stand by as he was tortured) and so on. I have no argument with them. It’s depressing, even overwhelming that “liberals” and “progressives” have almost exactly the same mentality as tea-party-ers or fox viewers; that they swallow the propaganda wholesale as long as it’s “their boy”, “their team”, but it’s obviously pointless to argue.

    Fortunately, that is not really relevant to this site (swallowing the propaganda), but this interview has been floating around the net for over a week and besides being an incredibly impressive feat of intellectual honesty on professor Turley and John Cusack’s parts, it has elicited all sorts of comments and reactions. When it finally got to HuffPo (that is, when they could no longer ignore it), the comments – in droves – where mind numbingly depressing: wave upon wave of proof that Murdock like propaganda works on both parties beautifully and with equal effect.

    And as for the Supreme Court, there is nothing, abosloutely nothing, progressive or liberal about either of Obama’s choices. Both Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are corporatists first, last and foremost. To argue that Obama is critical for choices such as those is like choosing BP over Exon to drill oil wells because people swallow the line that “BP” stands for “Beyond Petrolium”. As a commenter on N-aked Capitalisim pointed out,

    I am amused by the Obama apologists on this thread invoking partisan reasons why we should support their transpartisan candidate. I especially like the recycling of talkingpoints like “Vote for Obama because OMG Romney’s Supreme Court choices!” This was tired and discredited when it was trotted out 4 years ago. Since then Obama has put two people on the Supreme Court, both corporatists. The main difference is that Sotomayor is a technician whereas Kagan believes in the doctrine of vast Executive powers. Neither is liberal, neither is even remotely progressive. So we are being told to vote for Obama because he will nominate people to the Supreme Court who don’t represent your views. And this is supposed to induce me to vote for him how exactly?

  142. @Elaine: , you have had no experience with caring for elderly/infirm relatives and have no idea what it entails.

    I think you underestimate me, I too have changed the diapers of men in their eighties and cared for my dying relatives, male and female. I probably will again.

  143. TonyC wroite:
    The fact that you cannot name an anti-Constitutional act of Romney means any he has done are innocuous enough to go unnoticed; Taibbi documents a hundred repulsive acts but not a single illegal act, much less an anti-Constitutional one. So you are left with nothing but wild speculation of what he MAY do based upon his Party affiliation.

    Tony I did not say I could not name one, if in fact there is one from Romney, I said I did not check it ou but let’s go with your statement..
    I don’t know Tony, you seem to feel repugnance is not a concern if it is constitutional. ( Of course since he refuses to releasxe the tax returns we only have his word he has done nothing illegal, at least in the realm of taxes)
    I have already posted that I am not happy with what the president has done, the signing statements making it only a little better and only if the Prez wins since Romney need only ignore it.
    But on balance, given the right wing bent of the repubs, their intended vow to take medicare, ss private, end abortion, continue their war on women, including refusing to pass the equal pay etc and so on, said before here, and much better then I, I have no problem voting for the president.
    (as for your does one assume all remark, when repubs, in power, say they are willing to trample on constitutional right to vote to help theur guy win, and their guy has not come out to say that is not acceptable nor the way I want to win, then by extension one has to believe Romney endorses it.

  144. But Tony how many non relatives who are infirm and elderly will you take in? If they get to pivatize SS and medicare I will be one of them. Can I come live with you then?

  145. Rafflaw, I imagine you would be a perfect choice (you’d be fine in my book) and that Republicans would NOT filibuster you as long as Obama stood up for you; as long as he used the bully pulpit to make it impossible to filibuster you, as long as he used his vast influence as president to make sure all the powerful people in Washington lobbied HARD on your behalf, just as long as he used every means within his amazingly powerful administration, the most powerful on earth, to do his job, to get his choice through, just the way, just exactly the way Republicans do when THEY make THEIR choices.

  146. ” …but they have GOT to vote for it, and I have given up on any route of getting them to the polls. Nothing has worked” (Tony C)

    Have we ever tried a reverse poll tax?

  147. @leejcarol: I imagine your bedroll will be occupied by one of my relatives. However, if my taxes go down and my income goes up more than the added cost of their food and shelter, I promise to use the excess to increase my donations to charitably run shelters.

  148. @Blouise: Hmmmm, that would be a very interesting charity; we need Raff or Gene to weigh in on this: Would it be legal to reward people with $5 for showing up at the polls and voting, regardless of who they voted for?

    Or would it be legal to pay somebody $5 to answer a verbal exit poll?

  149. The real question, Rafflaw, is why wouldn’t Obama go to bat for you?, and I don’t think the answer would be because he couldn’t get you in, but rather because he doesn’t WANT you in. You are not sufficiently corporatist. You would be a nuisance at best, and positively lethal to the interests of the owners at worst and therefore to Obama’s interests as well.

  150. “Just to drive the point home. How many smoked Camels because the ad showed a doctor doing it? That is how stupid we are.” ~Idealist707
    ———————
    Just to drive the point home. How many smoked Camels because the ad showed a doctor doing it? That is how trusting we are.

    exploitation of trust is become pure bathos in politics…and an expectation in our courts as well.

    I find it odd to hear the discussion about ‘Obama’ vs. ‘Romney’ because we all know that the power of office has little to do wit one singular person….but the blame does often fall to 1 set of shoulders….

    I have no doubt that Obamas current Presidency would look much more stellar if it were not for the very epitome of anti-democratic, anti-republic politics exhibited by the various congress and senatorial players as well as the judiciary. Amongst others. In looking at who to vote for, for me, that discernment will contain the element of how appropriate, how self defeating is it, to give in to those who take hostage a situation by being selfish, self serving, petulant, destructively stubborn and borderline psychotic…and who somehow manage to make that sort of behaviour sound ok. And who support political behaviour in a Judiciary whose existance is supposed to uphold and enforce current laws, not manipulate the laws to create a society of their choosing.

    And healthcare. I think it’s really important to NOT have people making laws at other peoples expense….where they make their money…

  151. Tony C.,

    Or … taxing people who don’t vote … reverse poll tax. Can you imagine the shudder that passes through the party’s hierarchy as they envision hordes of “unsophisticated” voters heading to the polls or filling out absentee ballots.

    Imagine the number of jobs created by a whole new government agency (similar to the IRS) created to root out and tax those who don’t uphold their birth-right or fulfill their civic duty by voting. All newborns will be issued a voter ID card # similar to the SS# that is registered at birth. At the age of 18 and forward, failure to vote using one’s voter ID card results in a tax.

    Outside the box, baby … outside the box.

  152. Tony,

    I was talking about caring for others on a long term basis–preparing their meals, doing their laundry, taking them to the doctor, getting their prescriptions, making sure they take all their medications at the right time, helping to support them financially, etc.

    Having an infirm elder who is a relative you love live with you can be extremely difficult when you are working. Who is going to care for them when you are at work? Who is going to pay for an LPN or assistant to care for them if you don’t have the money?

    Many elderly who live in nursing homes may not vote for various reasons. Do you fault them?

  153. Brooklin,
    you may be right, but he is also confined by the record setting filibusters on judge appointments at all levels. I would prefer that he choose more progressive candidates and fight for them, but it may be a losing battle and where would we be. Thank you for the nomination! :) Professor Turley would be my choice!

  154. My brethern in the dog pack named itchinbayDog was a bit rough in her comment above. I do think that the Cursack guy is just some Hollywood fruit that knows how to comb his hair and all that and try to look cute in some film but he is not quite yet in the ranks of intelligencia. If you guys are interested in war crimes prosecution then take a gander at the book by Whitney Harris, Tyranny On Trial. The waterboarding does not quite measure up to the genocide but the imposition of an international law by the conquoring powers (U.S., Britain, France, Remulak, Russia, ) was quite remarkable. Ok, the Coneheads were not part of it. But the Conehead movie has as much relevance to the discussion as this Cursack schmuck. America thinks it is Exceptional and therefore we can do no wrong. I think Cursack is from France.

  155. The “nomination” was meant as a compliment, Rafflaw, and you are welcome to it, but in reality I would hate to see either of you swallowed up by that cavernous institution of privilege and aristocratic veneer. It has come to represent evil – ignorance – but not justice. The “law” it understands creates and perpetuates is intrinsically opposed to liberty. Those people enshrine lies. They speak of liberty but act for servitude of the many by the few; virtually the opposite of the contract our constitution once fulfilled.

  156. @Elaine: And my contention is that those (like you, and Swarthmore) that have consistently and persistently insisted upon this “lesser of two evils” greedy algorithm strategy of voting, even when such care and assistance have been in no real danger, have led us to this point when all of that assistance and care is now truly in danger with a President willing to put it all on the table.

    The refusal to ever punish a Democrat for violating liberal or civil liberty principles, on the grounds that the Republican would be worse, have given permission slips to Democrats to misbehave and cater to the highest bidder as long as their Republican opponent is to their right, which is always the case.

    It is that attitude and misguided absolute avoidance of harm that has led to the virtual certainty that harm will now be done in that department, and I still maintain that the sooner we take that hit the better off we are in the long run. Every cycle we delay it, the reckoning gets steeper.

    And BTW, I am not “always right,” I believe I have admitted to being wrong or mistaken more often than any other commenter on this blog.

  157. Random insight:
    We’ve heard the plaint if we had less government.
    We’ve also heard the response that government is there to do the necessary that private solutions are not good at, for ex. 20 different competing road systems.

    Well, here’s an insight. When we created cities, we entered a contract with each other that food would be brought to us from the farms, the products of our specialization would be exported to other markets, etc.
    Is not a government a contract with ourselvess, where we agree to let it do certain tasks?

    So of course we discuss what we feel it should do. But to simply declare it in itself as faulty is non sequitur, IMHO.

    Similarly, every entrepreneur is one who is tired of pulling the weight of others and wants to do well for himself. But then come the drones, who don’t contribute, don’t pull any weight, and who work the system to their own advantage.

    The electoral question remains: Who is the model Republican and what attracts him to the Repubs.
    And similarly for the Dems. We have our clear ideas.

    But is the Repub voter a drone aspirant?
    And is the Dem voter a shirker stealing food from others?

    There are no easy nor black and white answers.
    The R voter can be the small businessman (are there any—it looks like those are being replaced by the Walmarts paradigm). The small businessman who tires of bureaucracy telling him what to report and how to run his business, in the name of “us”.

    A long discussion over some beers. Or a glasses of Montalcino.

    PS Someone pointed out that the old model does not exist anymore. The businessman who chooses his market segment, his products chosen from many manufacturers via many distributors, arranges his store as he feels he and his customers like, etc.

    It is all Walmart who has vertical control from slave labor in China to the giant market nearest you, where you are preferably coming in a car.

    My point? Not to point out that paradigms change.
    Rather that the world and our society does without we being aware of those changes. More than we can imagine.

  158. “It is illogical to claim that only the people affected by policy should be allowed to set policy; in the extreme it is like saying only sociopaths without conscience or remorse should be allowed to set laws because they are the only ones really affected by the laws that protect people from their predation.”

    Tony,

    You knocked that straw man right out of the park. Now try understanding what I wrote without filtering it through the lens of your mis-perception.

    “To answer your charge: YES, I am willing to let people suffer the harm they bring upon themselves by their own political complacency and stupidity. 80% of people in this country do not vote, at their own peril, and if they did then liberalism, civil liberties and the social safety net would be robust and intact and unassailable.”

    This perfectly illustrates the difference between our viewpoints. I don’t consider myself on a pedestal above most people and yet I understand that being in the top 1% of human intelligence, gives me an edge when it comes to teasing out the propaganda. Secondly, I have been blessed with the leisure time to contemplate my environment, while most people have a hard enough time just making ends meet. Finally, of the two of us, I am far more empathic regarding people than you are, even though I think you’re still a good person and the fact that we agree o much. :)

  159. Admittedly I speaking for the old folks, as I am one.
    Here is another point on why we need government supervised safety nets for the old folks.

    Do we still have orphanages? I don’t know. Nobody mentions them, just as they don’t mention asylums for the mentally ill. I remember the one which had huge grounds which I had to cross walking to high school.
    Why this? Well, society decided we needed to take care of those who had no “parents”.

    Isn’t it the same for the old folks who have no willing “parent” to take care of them. No housewives exist to take care of them, as ElaineM points out.

    Most would prefer to pay the small addition to our taxes to help pay for their meager gruel and diapers. And BTW, we avoid being reminded of our own parents languishing in the loving care of the nurses/caregivers who lock them in their rooms and go home for the night (that happened in Sweden and it became a scandal)! So full of dope that if they awake they fall trying to get to their feet.

    Now how we handle the impaired of all categories depends on us. Do we leave them behind on the nomad trail of life, to perish quickest possible and at the least burden to the young and able. There are babies which must be nourished instead, say their parents.

    Hard decisions. Prehistorically in Sweden we had the so-called ättestupan; a cliff over which the old were nudged to end that lineage which had no issue to take
    care of its elders. What do we want and can afford?

    The Republicans want a quick death to the sick as Alan Grayson is famous for saying.
    The Democrats who, as BB so well points out, helped create this world where everyone needs a car and two jobs to make ends meet, have also helped us reach this cliff we stand on.

    Was replacing our own sweatshops with ones in China via free trade pacts a la Nafta the only way we could fill our bellies with cheap goods, and bling-bling.

    Everytime I see consumption porn I puke. Figuratively speaking.

  160. “But Tony how many non relatives who are infirm and elderly will you take in? If they get to pivatize SS and medicare I will be one of them. Can I come live with you then?”

    Leejcarroll,

    For whatever comfort it gives you I’d be in the same boat, but after all some here say that our pain will be in the cause of the greater good.

  161. Tony C:

    I think you are right on target, people need to vote their conscience. Maybe if both parties would vote that way we could end this crap in Washington.

  162. “Nor is it realistic to assume that voting for the lesser evil will protect you and your loved ones from evil. Instead, you will get evil in installments that you have acquiesced to; agreed upon, signed the contract to.”

    BB,

    Another straw man knocked out of the park. I really think your reading of certain of our (the Obama voters at this site) assumptions is incomplete and shallow. Where in my comments for instance, where I state that a cabal of
    the Military/Corporate/Plutocratic Complex took control of this country via assassinations in the 60’s, do you get the idea that I think that by simply voting the right way I’ll be protected? And where do you get the idea that by voting no to the two-parties, or not voting at all, will be a statement of courage and principle? Stop assuming that everyone who disagrees with you is either shallow, wrong, or finds propaganda irresistible.

  163. Tony,

    I haven’t insisted on the lesser of two evils. I’ve said a number of times on this blog that I don’t know if I will vote for Obama in November. I can express my opinion however I so choose. I don’t need to be judged by the likes of you. Get off your high horse every now and then. Stop talking to people who disagree with you as if you are morally superior to them. You have no proof that YOUR way is the right way.

  164. The refusal to ever punish a Democrat for violating liberal or civil liberty principles, on the grounds that the Republican would be worse, have given permission slips to Democrats to misbehave and cater to the highest bidder as long as Their Republican opponent is to their right, which is always the case.

    It is that attitude and misguided absolute avoidance of harm that has led contributed to the virtual certainty that harm will now be done in that department[…].

    Exactly. It is hard to put it more simply or more convincingly than that. And while playing the strings of suffering people may seem like a good argument (to anything), it is no argument at all. That people will suffer if Romney is elected is in no way proof of any sort for why they will suffer, but worse, to imply that such suffering would be the fault of someone making an argument for accountability and to further turn up the volume and play on the heart strings of such suffering (“will you take so and so into your house”) as if it were some sort of proof that one is cold hearted or wants such suffering, is the farthest thing I can think of from “reasoned argument.” Such accusations are proof of nothing. Moreover, in this case, it is perfectly clear and has been publicly stated that we will also suffer if Obama is re-elected. He has said publicly that he wants to put the social safety net on the chopping block, a fact which people keep studiously ignoring. So on the one hand you have proof that we as a people will suffer if Obama is re-elected and on the other hand you have the OMG specter of Romney, period. And even if that specter were also true, to imply that blame for such suffering should rest on someone for making a well reasoned argument for accountability and for the consequences of lack of accountability is completely unfair even if it is understandable as a reaction of fear.

  165. Elaine, I am actually more pro-Obama than I was four years ago. The birtherism , the racist republican lies, the attempts to suppress minority votes, the desire to take away the social safety net, and the republican war on women have put me more solidly in his camp. I hope these republicans are not given the opportunity to turn probing sonograms into national policy. I am not apologizing that I am a democrat on this blog or any where else. I am awaiting Julian Castro’s speech tonight, and hopefully a bright young democrat can someday be elected statewide in Texas.

  166. Let me see if I have gotten this right. We punish Obama and the Democrats by not voting for them or by voting for Romney and Republican candidates. When Republicans win handily, the Democrats will think that they should return to their liberal ideals instead of moving further to the right as the victorious Republican party has. Is that the logic that I don’t get?

  167. Swarthmore mom,

    I’m not pro Obama–but I am definitely anti batsh*t crazy Republican party. People who don’t see the import of voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights, social safety nets, etc., can castigate people like you and me all they want. They believe they are principled and feel morally superior to us. Let them be smug and self-righteous. That’s their prerogative.

  168. Elaine M, I think we are being spun in hopes that some naive person will actually buy what they are selling and turn around and vote for Romney. Remember, women need to suffer more pain for the ultimate good. I don’t think I would waste my time telling my daughter that. She would say “get off those blogs.”

  169. Swarthmore mom,

    It’s not just women who need to suffer more pain. It’s also the elderly, the poor, minorities, gays, children, public education,,,,and on and on and on–while the rich get richer.

  170. Elaine, Right. I think most people have suffered enough… it certainly wouldn’t be my political platform. lol.

  171. @Mike: Except it was not a straw man, I do not play with them. I think you try to call a “straw man” anytime anybody makes an analogy you do not like.

    You claimed “You though, seem quite willing to let the suffering be borne by those less able to ride it out,”

    Combined with the previous sentence that I am blind to the suffering of others and you are not. What am I to infer from the intensifier “quite”, nothing?

    Your implication is clear; that I am being selfish and my opinion should be discounted because I will not personally suffer the consequences, that I am dumber than you and if I could just better see the suffering you see, I would change my mind.

    That stance is illogical, and I showed it to be illogical by the absurdity produced by its consistent application. That is not a straw man, it is logic.

    In fact, the opposite is true, I see further than you, I see the end of all such assistance being engineered right before our eyes by the Obama apologists. You will “save” them for four more years even if it means the destruction of two generations worth of subsequent assistance.

    Obama will do with the quiet assent of Democrats what no Republican could ever do without vociferous dead-set opposition. I can only imagine the outrage that would be expressed by the likes of Reid and Pelosi and other Congressional Democrats if McCain had won and was doing precisely what Obama is doing now. Oh wait, I don’t have to imagine it: Just play the tapes of their spitting mad condemnations when Bush and Cheney were previewing the watered down versions of it.

    I think it is a pity that we trust the Democrats in Congress so little that we truly fear they will not defend the safety net we prize so highly against the predations of a single Republican President. What does it say about our voting strategy that it has led us to such a fragile, teetering state and such a pitiful collection of unprincipled elected “leaders”?

  172. Elaine, The new CNN poll came out, and it is all tied up at 48% each. Only 4 percent are undecided so they are looking at trying to peel off slivers from Obama. One thing interesting I heard today is that Obama is beating Romney by 300,000 votes in your state while Warren is losing. If enough voters vote a straight ticket, she might have a chance to win.

  173. Tony C,

    “. . . even when such care and assistance have been in no real danger, . . .”

    Domestic programs have been under assault for many decades though it’s possible your definition of “real danger” is different from mine. Do you not remember when George W. Bush trotted out his mother Barbara to speak to the wisdom of allowing the SSI fund to be managed by, “professional investors?”

    “The refusal to ever punish a Democrat for violating liberal or civil liberty principles, on the grounds that the Republican would be worse, have given permission slips to Democrats to misbehave and cater to the highest bidder as long as their Republican opponent is to their right, which is always the case.”

    This is just a false conclusion. Democrats were “punished” in 2010 if memory serves. Possibly not for civil liberty principles, but apparently for liberal principles; have you forgotten the health care debate in the first years of Obama’s administration and how this influenced the 2010 elections?

    The issues that need to be separated are the consolidation of a unitary executive verses representation through elected state representatives. This feedback mechanism of voicing opinion through the mechanism of voting is broken now as all, as you put it, “cater to the highest bidder.”

    I am no fan of Obama for many reasons, primarily the unitary executive perspective that he obviously feels is the right of office as many of his predecessors have also subscribed to, in addition to his innate need to compromise before any cause.

    However, one must recognize that political involvement — be it through the now historically simple act of voting ranging to activism requires time and money — and these are the very things that are being stripped from the populace as we speak; by design.

  174. @Elaine: Let me see if I have gotten this right.

    You punish them by not voting for them. I will not vote for Romney, I assure you. There is a difference, and the difference is turnout.

    When Republicans win handily, the Democrats will think that they should return to their liberal ideals instead of moving further to the right as the victorious Republican party has.

    If the Democrats lose because their raw-number TURNOUT was lower than last time, that is not taken as an endorsement of the Republican agenda, but as a lack of enthusiasm for Democrats past performance and a lack of trust in their candidates.

    I do not recommend that anyone vote for any candidate or party with whom one strongly disagrees on policy; such a vote falsely signals endorsement, and could have the effect that you state.

    The punishment is withholding approval and letting the chips fall where they may, or trying to defeat the candidates in primary challenges. Even if the candidate ultimately wins after a strong primary challenge or tepid turnout, they will still get the message that they are alienating people and risking their political career.

    That won’t make a difference to a final-term candidate like Obama, of course, but even if Obama wins with a reduced turnout, it will be noted by other Democrats in the House and Senate and can influence policy.

    Party turnout is a measure of enthusiasm, and thinning margins of victory are viewed as weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

  175. Mike Spindell:

    that is almost the same reasons the right isnt going to vote for Obama.

    Right and left see things differently because they have a different way of processing what they see. Its philosophical and I think it is different epistemologies which are causing the schism.

    There isnt much difference between Jack Kennedy, Sam Nunn, Scoop Jackson and Ronald Reagan, Ike and Gerald Ford. But there is a lot of difference between George McGovern and those guys or President Obama and those guys. George Bush [W] is closer in philosophy to McGovern or even Obama than to Kennedy or Reagan.

  176. Bron,

    “Right and left see things differently because they have a different way of processing what they see.”

    Are you talking about the brain, or politics?

    “Its philosophical and I think it is different epistemologies which are causing the schism.”

    Wow, maybe you’ve finally read some of those philosophy books that is all a poor kid requires:

    “Knowledge is power, give a poor kid some Plato, Kant and Aristotle and I have a feeling he will end up doing pretty well for himself.”

    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/15/who-watches-the-watchman-florida-family-calls-for-the-arrest-of-watch-captain-who-sought-teen/#comment-343987

  177. @gbk: I do remember Bush claiming he earned political capital and now he was going to spend it, and then he quietly shelved that plan. SS was never in any real danger then. It was still the third rail of politics. What has changed that? A Democratic Party President saying its on the table and needs to be revisited.

    I suppose there is merit to the idea that a failure to pass liberal policy was responsible for the 2010 losses; certainly Obama failed to keep many promises I expected him to keep within the first two years. At least I felt that way, and felt that the Democrats in office had sold out to corporate interests and were purposely dragging their feet on every liberal promise Obama had made, to devastating effect.

  178. Tony,

    “That won’t make a difference to a final-term candidate like Obama, of course, but even if Obama wins with a reduced turnout, it will be noted by other Democrats in the House and Senate and can influence policy.”

    You’re assuming that a low Democratic turnout would lead Democrats to return to their liberal principles. The Democrats may draw a different conclusion about the reason for the reduced turnout than you suppose.

  179. Tony C.,

    “. . . and then he quietly shelved that plan. SS was never in any real danger then. It was still the third rail of politics.”

    Is it not recursive to say that, “he quietly shelved that plan,” and then state, “SS was never in any danger,” because he shelved the plan?

  180. Bron,

    “I am talking about politics.”

    So am I.

    I was just noting that your heretofore usage of multisyllabic words is impressive.

  181. Yep Tony A lot easier to say the heck with them because’ I will not personally be suffering the consequences’.
    It does seem awfully easy for you to say so you live your life out in a shelter (Thanks Elaine you got there before me with your reply). Just for a secnd imagine you are, like Mike, like me, like so many others, here probably as well as beyond, disabled or elderly and have no one to help care for you in the future. See yourself in a shelter with many other strangers, people crying, dirty, hungry, ill. Do you have empathy enough to do that, just for the flash of a second? Then, if you can, repeat your position, so a shelter, so it is others who will have to pay, not me. Does it look any different to you then?

  182. Tony,

    Using a straw man means opposing someone’s argument by refuting a point they didn’t make and
    pretending that was a valid refutation. That was exactly what you did to my comment. You used a straw man argument.

    As for not worrying about the suffering of the people, I was merely referring to what you said about that. Own it. Fact is that you did nothing to logically debunk my comments, even though you declared victory in doing so. Seriously Tony, you usually exhibit better logic and better reading comprehension. Are you feeling alright?

  183. Both Turley and Cusack make strong arguments that Obama has passed certain limits, or Rubicon lines. That is a central issue with their interview and one of the principal reasons Turley states that he can not vote for Obama. The interview gives a compelling list of such extreme abuses, such line crossing, that Obama is incontestably party to or directly responsible for. Yet those extremes, so central to the post, always seem to get mitigated, softened and then simply overlooked when ever the discussion focuses on lesser of evil-ism or the dangers of letting Republicans win. Voting for Obama, like it or no, endorses those abuses such as the authorization of warentless assassination by the executive branch. It waters them, gives them sustenance and approval until they are just a few more weeds in the garden. Hardly worth noticing. It makes them a lesser crime than they are. It buries them in the ho-hum just like torture and spying on citizens and the CIA being able to claim they “were told to do it ” which was one of the principal unforgivable crimes at Nuremberg, and yet has been buried by “the practical empirical concerns of lesser evil” to the point it barely elicits a collective yawn.

  184. Another straw man […]. Where in my comments […] do you get the idea that I think that by simply voting the right way I’ll be protected?”

    -Mike S.

    Flattering yourself will get me nowhere, Mike. I wasn’t thinking of you at all, and hadn’t even read your comment, so by your own definition it couldn’t be a straw man. I suggest you read the other comments on this thread instead if your actually curious about the origins of mine.

  185. Correction, in the above interview, professor Turley did not explicitly say he would not vote for Obama (at least that I can find) and I stated otherwise. I made the assumption from the interview, particularly from passages such as the following,

    Now, belief in human rights law and civil liberties leads one to the uncomfortable conclusion that President Obama has violated his oath to uphold the Constitution. But that’s not the primary question for voters. It is less about him than it is them. They have an obligation to cast their vote in a principled fashion. It is, in my opinion, no excuse to vote for someone who has violated core constitutional rights and civil liberties simply because you believe the other side is no better. You cannot pretend that your vote does not constitute at least a tacit approval of the policies of the candidate. [emphasis mine]

  186. Brooklyn:

    Thank you for that correction. I never read that JT said he wasn’t voting for Obama explicitly but he did imply as much. I am wondering if he felt it a valid excuse to vote for someone who violated core constitutional rights and civil liberties if the other side was demonstrably worse.

  187. BB,

    Both you and Tony seem to project onto my words that which isn’t there. It is quite hard to have a discussion with people who only perceive what they expect.

  188. For those of you opting out of the two party system, I can understand your principles, but your solutions to the evils you see are either far fetched or non-existent.

  189. Mike S.,
    I agree wholeheartedly with your statements that it is easy to understand the desire for a third party choice, but the reality does not match the desire.

  190. For those who want their candidate to be pure as driven snow on EVERY issue, may I remind you that it was Ralph Nader who was so pure he drained just enough votes from Al Gore in Florida to give us President Bush, who in turn rewarded us with John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

    So much for purity. Are you guy sure that what’s-his-name who ran against Obama would have prosecuted the war criminals? Would Mitt Romney?

  191. OS,

    “For those who want their candidate to be pure as driven snow on EVERY issue, . . .”

    Can you point to any post here that would give the impression that someone expected a politician, “to be pure as driven snow on EVERY issue?”

    Bring a real argument to the table, OS, and leave the homilies at home.

  192. SwM,

    The poll you mentioned from CNN (all tied up at 48%) should be much higher in Romney’s favor due to a bump from his convention. It is not and that is what I mean when I say that the polls, if looked at realistically, are not good news for Romney. He needed to move ahead but lost momentum thanks to Eastwood’s empty chair routine.

    I can guarantee you that Obama will be center stage and the only one everyone is talking about when the Democrats finish their convention, not some Hollywood star talking to an empty chair.

  193. Mike Spindell

    For those of you opting out of the two party system, I can understand your principles, but your solutions to the evils you see are either far fetched or non-existent.

    ————————————————————————-

    Harrumph

    Seriously, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Why? Because party membership has been falling steadily for the last 25 years while those declaring as independents has been steadily rising. Even four years ago the percentages in movement did not change in any drastic way. Political Scientists no longer call it a trend and the two Parties know it.

    Please read the following carefully:

    “Yet despite such attractive prices, Europeans and Americans are turning away in droves from affiliating with any one party. Membership has been falling for many years, but the decline seems to be accelerating and taking on a different quality. The factors that gave rise to mass parties are fading and unlikely to return, as Ingrid van Biezen of Leiden University and her colleagues argue in a recent paper ominously entitled “Going, going… gone? … In America, where people can state a party preference when registering to vote, the proportion of voters eschewing a party affiliation and calling themselves “independent” reached an average of 40% last year, a record high. The share of independents usually drops in presidential-election years, but in May the figure touched 44%—nine points more than at the same stage of the campaign in 2008 … Rather, explains Mr Dalton, apartisans are “floating voters on steroids”: they are young, educated and vote at almost the same rate as partisans. They can be on the right or left. They are not interested in parties explaining their programmes to them. Instead, they try to get parties to adopt their views on issues they care about.”

    That’s part of an article from The Economist which I’ll link at the end of this post. There are many other articles out there which say exactly the same based on real data and ethical interpretation.

    So in recommending that people stay away from party affiliation as a way of taking back our government, I’m talking about something that is not only NOT far fetched but also very, very existent. The only thing you may honestly criticize me for is jumping out in front of the steadily moving crowd and yelling, “Hey, follow me!”

    Harrumph, again.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21559901

  194. “They are not interested in parties explaining their programmes to them. Instead, they try to get parties to adopt their views on issues they care about.”

    Exactly so. I’ve always been registered as “independent.” Primarily to make the gerrymandering so loved by parties a more inexact effort and the fact that I toe the line to no dogma offered by either. I refuse, as much as possible, to be taken for granted in any aspect of life.

  195. gbk,

    Yep.

    Democracies all over the world are experiencing this. The parties lost touch with the people and, although the independents numbers were steadily growing through the 80’s and early 90’s, the internet and social media were the avenues that led to the explosion and basically turned the tide for good. Going, going, gone. (If I wanted to incite a riot I could say “Just like Churches which are also experiencing the same loss in numbers.” But since I don’t want to incite, let’s just keep that very truthful fact between ourselves. ;) )

    (And, Romney really was upstaged at his own convention by an empty chair. Another example of how truly ignorant these guys/gals are when it comes to the impact of the internet and the social media technology on modern day politics. That da*n chair lost them a lot of votes from independents who take this election seriously.)

  196. Brooklin Bridge
    1, September 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Both Turley and Cusack make strong arguments that Obama has passed certain limits, or Rubicon lines. ……………………………………………………….Voting for Obama, like it or no, endorses those abuses such as the authorization of warentless assassination by the executive branch.
    ————————————————
    Disagree.
    Political candidates run on platforms and promises. Voters have the right and obligation to use their votes to empower those platforms and promises.
    No voter endorses the deviations that politicians take…..because no voter has any knowledge that those deviations will be taken. The choice is between a candidate who says one thing and a candidate who says another. This may be an oversimplification but it is also the crux of the matter.
    The lack of prosecution of criminal behaviour by those in governance is not necessarily the fault of one person, but the alarming regularity of inability to govern within the rule of law by ANY party is undermining the entire legal process and painting sham all over this Country….

  197. @Elaine: The Democrats may draw a different conclusion about the reason for the reduced turnout than you suppose.

    Of course. However, few are as stupid and shallow as they pretend to be, and they employ psychologists and statisticians (trained in the same graduate statistics programs as I am) that will be advising them of the meaning of turnouts and demographic differentials (between self-selected voters and their market, between this election and the previous, between polls).

    So I think low turnout can work, but from the statistical angle an even better strategy has occurred to me: If I go to the polls to vote, and vote on, say, propositions or judges without voting for a main ticket candidate, the candidates staff will figure out statistically how many people did that, how many were Democrats or Republicans, pretty firmly, based on prior trends and the assumption of coherency in attitude for voting on the other ballot elements. (Specifically a factor analysis, where one of the factors will correspond to a measure of party affiliation.)

    So, for example, they can know exactly how many voters there were. From that, subtract the total votes for any main ticket candidate, and that is exactly the number of voters that refused to vote for a main ticket candidate.

    The split of Rs and Ds (derived from the factor analysis) will tell the main ticket candidates what percentage of voters in their own party showed up at the polls and then refused to vote for them. That would be a more unmistakable measure; after all the voter wasn’t just busy or apathetic, they found the time to show up, be counted, and not vote.

    It is much more of a “none of the above” vote, and for a politician, a better measure of losing their base.

    I have no idea if political statisticians do anything like that; but marketing, sociology and engineering all have far more convoluted statistical extractions than that, and I imagine political statisticians are just as sophisticated.

  198. Blouise, The convention was great last night but especially Michele Obama. Tonight we get Cecile Richards, Sandra Fluke, Elizabeth Warren plus Bill Clinton. I know my daughter and her young friends were energized. What a relief from the angry white republican men and the women that love them.

  199. @Mike: your solutions to the evils you see are either far fetched or non-existent.

    Mike also says: I personally think that we have reached the tipping point in this election between maintaining the illusion of freedom and outright fascism.

    So, how are your solutions working out, Mike?
    :-)

  200. Tony,

    I think you make the assumption that the majority of people in this country are opposed to the US using “enhanced interrogation methods” on suspected terrorists, against indefinite detention of suspected terrorists–even if they are American citizens, drone strikes, the erosion of our civil liberties in order to ensure our safety. I’m not so sure about that.

  201. Woosty’s still a Cat,

    Perhaps what politicians say vs. what they do is the crux of the issue (you certainly raise a good point), but in this case we are talking about a sitting president who has already established a clear record. Obama didn’t simply “say” that the executive branch has authority to kill without judicial review, he HAS killed without judicial review. Vote for him this time round and you are not only endorsing the fact that he said nothing about it the first time around, you are endorsing the act itself since it was committed, reported on by the press and admitted to by his AG, the other line crossings as well though sometimes brought to light by different means. Your notion that a politician says one thing and does another would in itself be, and IS in Obama’s case, an endorsement of being lied to if you vote for him a second time. As to first time presidents, it is still our responsibility to get to know them as well as possible regardless of the fact that it has become their job to and the job of the media to ensure the opposite. And for first time presidents or anyone, we are endorsing what we, in good faith, believe about a candidate based on what he or she says and what his or her past record shows (in terms of voting records for instance). Otherwise, you might as well be throwing dice at the booth (which I admit, for reasons Tony C has mentioned above, would probably produce a better result).

  202. Mespo727272,

    I am wondering if he felt it a valid excuse to vote for someone who violated core constitutional rights and civil liberties if the other side was demonstrably worse

    Me too. And you are right, “[…] the other side is no better” is not the same as “demonstrably worse”. My take on what Turley would say to that is that 1) He is sympathetic to or understands the difficulty of such a decision, but 2) In cases of someone who has violated core constitutional rights it is nevertheless one’s responsibility to reject such behavior in this case by withholding one’s vote.

  203. “I have no idea if political statisticians do anything like that; but marketing, sociology and engineering all have far more convoluted statistical extractions than that, and I imagine political statisticians are just as sophisticated.” (Tony C.)

    Of course they are and do … constantly and at every election even if no candidate is running. (I’m referring to special elections when only issues are on the ballot.) You can do it. Just go to the Bd. of Elections for any County and request the certified results for any or all elections and then build your statistical analysis. This is one of the every day functions of a political party and service it provides its members.

    Candidates read these reports to decide how they should position themselves on future issues based on voter trends in past issues of a similar nature.

    You can also get a list of registered voters complete with addresses and voting history. By voting history I of course mean whether or not they showed up to vote. The analysis comes into play when trying to figure out how they voted and that process is just as sophisticated as any marketing statistical extractions.

    That’s part of the beauty of registering as an Independent as gbk referenced in one of his latest posts. Candidates have a more difficult time deciding how to position themselves when the statistics are analyzed and if enough people do it, candidates will just have to start saying what they personally believe about an issue and not what the party has told them to believe. It also makes effective gerrymandering really, really difficult.

  204. Elaine,

    You are soo right in your post @ 9:32am as it regards the attitudes concerning drone attacks, enhanced interrogations, etc.

    The difference today, as opposed to ten years ago, can be seen right here on this blog. JONATHAN TURLEY has a forum that allows him to point out the errors in such thinking and thus present a daily viewpoint and analysis that 10 years would never have been heard, except by a few attending conferences or catching a glimpse of a news show discussion.

    And, even better, the forum he has purposely chosen allows those who wish to comment and argue the merits of the issues he’s raised to do so … on a daily, often hourly basis.

    Truly, the world of politics has changed. Jonathon Turley doesn’t need the support of any political party to get his ideas out there for people to read and discuss. (That’s why I find it so amusing to read the comments from those who like to think they know who JT supports for the Presidency. Honestly, who cares who JT supports for President … it’s his ideas we seek, not his political preferences.)

  205. @Elaine: I think you make the assumption that the majority of people in this country are opposed to …

    I think the majority of people in this country just don’t give much thought to anybody or anything outside their immediate circle. I do not wish to denigrate them, or convey any animosity or disdain I do not feel, but I think the reason 80% of them do not vote is because, in my experience with employees, family and students, they act as subjects of a ruling elite and a royal court they take as a more or less necessary evil and fact of life.

    As much as Jefferson’s phrase “All men are created equal” may resonate, people do not really believe that as anything but an unobtainable ideal. They expect the elite to be treated differently by the courts, by the government, to be privileged, whether the elite are the wealthy, the cops, the politicians, the CEOs.

    They just do not believe there is anything they can do about it, so they put their head down, ignore the intrigues of the court and courtiers, and do their job of deferring to the authority of their “superiors” and the “chain of command,” phrases still used in most businesses.

    How, precisely, the royals and their minions are chosen may be drifting from the middle ages, but the mindset is the same. They defer to the king, and if the king says he exercised his God given right to kill a bad guy, they will take him at his word and give a thumbs up. No further analysis needed.

    (IMO exactly the same mindset exists for anybody that defers to a human religious authority.)

    The very fact that we comment on the blog of a Constitutional Lawyer suggests we are not like them. However, that is my opinion of anybody that does not bother to vote.

    If you find that negative or derogatory, it is neither, I just think that is human nature. It is, however, also the basis of my contention that those people will not respond to anything but (metaphorical) pain, they will not rise up and revolt, or even vote, for theoretical implications of what might happen. They will not do a damn thing until something is taken away (from them specifically or someone they know directly) and their routine is disrupted.

  206. Mespo727272 (cont.)

    To expand a little on, “in this case by withholding ones vote”, I assume that Turley would not see such a dilemma in a case such as Hitler vs. Obama. That is, if it was clear we were going to get the monster or Obama based on our vote or lack of vote, I am not at all sure Turley would draw any such lines. If he did, I would be fascinated by his reasoning. But in this case, despite the OMG factor, we are not faced with such a choice even if much of the media, and all of the Democratic and Republican machinery are trying to convince us otherwise (and doing a rather good job of it). But in the interview above, I see little evidence Turley is buying it. Yes, Romney is bad and his party is horrible, but what Obama has done is so contrary to the constitution, to our civil rights and to what is reasonable and human in a democracy that it is our civic duty to reject it.

  207. “Why? Because party membership has been falling steadily for the last 25 years while those declaring as independents has been steadily rising.”

    Blouise,

    My use of:

    “For those of you opting out of the two party system, I can understand your principles, but your solutions to the evils you see are either far fetched or non-existent.”

    Was unclear in terms of my point I used that phrase instead of stating:

    “For those of you who will not be voting for Obama this year and possibly give your vote to a third party candidate, or not vote at all for President…………”

    I used 11 words in lieu of 30 and thus made my point unclear, which I regret. I’m not at all interested in whether or not whether people join/leave the two major parties, in fact I’ve been all along asking for a movement to form that will actually have a chance of providing opposition to the corporate State. My critique has been that there is no viable movement that can mount anything close to opposition to the corporatocracy. OWS looked to be the beginnings of that movement, but beyond their developing a brilliant meme “1%vs.99%”, they then returned to methods akin to the “60’s Movement”, which obviously didn’t work back then and won’t now. Assange developed a good strategy, but look at him now. The “Anonymous” movement has some potential, but how long before they are busted?

    The problem is that we are a mouse roaring against a corporate megalopoly that controls the major media. A movement is needed that will not only include the formation of a viable third party from the ground up, but will also have to be clever enough in spreading its message to overcome the disadvantages that wealth and power bring to the struggle. I don’t see this happening right now, or I would be singing a different tune.

    My point of view on politics was formed during my involvement in Movement politics in the 60’s and early 70’s. I knew too many Communists and Anarchists who believed and argued that if you destroy the system and cause the lower classes to experience great pain, they will revolt. My work as a social worker exposed me to the misery of the “underclass” and my sensibility is such that I don’t wish to inflict more pain on the 99%, than they already have.

    Finally, I have a selfish reason for wanting to maintain the status quo until we can overthrow it. I am alive today because of Medicare. The medicines I must take to stay alive are paid for by Medicare, or their cost would be beyond my means. My heart transplant’s associated costs, not covered by insurance, depleted much of my savings. My house is way under water mortgage-wise.
    Also my income is based on a municipal pension and social security, both of which could easily be at risk under Romney/Ryan. I have a personal stake in this election, since I may be among those whose pain Tony sees as necessary for change.

  208. Defending Marriage Against An Activist Judiciary (Top)

    A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.

    A Sacred Contract: Defense of Marriage (Top)

    That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. The current Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle – in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts – makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and State Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.

    Here’s one difference for you, Brooklin. BTW, It is not a media creation.

  209. “So, how are your solutions working out, Mike? :)

    Tony,

    Given that only months ago you were touting Ron Paul for President. Had that bigot won the Presidency, given his widespread support among the White Power Movement, I might well as a Jew be facing “the final solution”. :)

  210. Swarthmore mom,

    Brooklin Bridge, read the republican platform

    Swarthmore mom, read the above interview.

    Anyway, as you know, I’ll be voting for you SM, just as I said I would some months ago, so you better practice up on keeping your word…

  211. “It is, however, also the basis of my contention that those people will not respond to anything but (metaphorical) pain, they will not rise up and revolt, or even vote, for theoretical implications of what might happen. They will not do a damn thing until something is taken away (from them specifically or someone they know directly) and their routine is disrupted.”

    Tony,

    A succinct summation of our differences and may I say an honest one. Others here who think as you do would not be quite so honest about the consequences of a Republican takeover and for that I commend you. On the other hand from what we know of your own personal situation you would not be among those suffering and so can view it in the abstract, with little consequence. Since I would be one of the “sufferers” in the case of a Republican victory, you will forgive me if I’m not in a position to view the situation abstractly.

  212. “But in this case, despite the OMG factor, we are not faced with such a choice even if much of the media, and all of the Democratic and Republican machinery are trying to convince us otherwise”

    BB,

    As SwM said read the Republican Platform. Then perhaps do some digging into Romney’s and Ryan’s history. Then when you are grounded in the facts, tell me why neither man is quite capable of becoming a Fascist Leader. Now while it is true that neither man seems to have a record as to wanting a Shoah,
    somehow I think the reduction of women to chattel and their definite disregard for Blacks and Latino’s, would be as equally destructive as Hitler’s policies. This is true because in their foreign policy they see American Empire as the end result. Compare PNAC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century with: http://www.mittromney.com/collection/foreign-policy

    Maybe they lack Hitler’s rhetorical flourishes and sickly charisma, but they come damned close to Hitler’s own vision of Empire.

  213. “I don’t see this happening right now, or I would be singing a different tune.” (Mike S)

    Look a little closer. It is happening all over the world within Democracies. It’s not flashy and it’s real grassroots in that it is each individual, independent of his neighbor or spouse or friends, making a personal decision to walk away from party affiliation. The media may be ignoring it at the behest of the established political parties and their corporate benefactors but that hasn’t stopped the steady flow of independents leaving the parties (yep, that could be a pun).

    Without followers, there is no one to lead and no amount of money is going to fix that for the political party structure.

    Now, here’s a thought that is deadly serious. This is happening and will continue to happen and is, in fact, increasing. A void is being created Mike … and you know exactly what danger could walk right into that void.

  214. Mike S.,

    You seem to work by insinuation, […]Others here who think as you [Tony C.] do would not be quite so honest a bout the consequences of a Republican takeover, and so I don’t feel compelled to engage beyond the following. You’ve stated your opinion, now you’re simply indulging in sneaky sarcasm rather than making any reasoned argument. I’m sympathetic (and I don’t mean that condescendingly) in that obviously what is happening right now is truly grim. There is no easy choice. I’ve stated what I believe might reasonably be Turley’s answer to Mespo’s question and if it is, I agree with him.

  215. Mike S.,

    You seem to work by insinuation, […]Others here who think as you [Tony C.] do would not be quite so honest a bout the consequences of a Republican takeover, and so I don’t feel compelled to engage beyond the following. You’ve stated your opinion, now you’re simply indulging in sneaky sarcasm rather than making any reasoned argument. I’m sympathetic (and I don’t mean that condescendingly) in that obviously what is happening right now is truly grim. There is no easy choice. I’ve stated what I believe might reasonably be Turley’s answer to Mespo’s question and if it is, I agree with him.

  216. SwM,

    Kucinich was a huge Ron Paul fan … said he’d choose him as the VP if nominated. That’s when I left his camp and went over to Marcy Kaptur.

  217. “A void is being created Mike … and you know exactly what danger could walk right into that void.”

    Blouise,

    I do see that danger and that is where my caution comes from. In the US for instance, if you’ve ever read the NRA magazine, you can see some of the most extreme views being expressed. I believe in the right to bear arms, but also know that there are various movements like the Aryan Nation, that seem to have the most weaponry.

  218. “You’ve stated your opinion, now you’re simply indulging in sneaky sarcasm rather than making any reasoned argument.”

    BB,

    Now it is you imagining yourself as the center of my attention. My comment, which was snarky, was specifically aimed at a long time commenter here, with whom I’ve had a long history of disagreement. This person has time and again questioned my motivations and indeed morality. When I reply, as I am wont to do, this person claims victim-hood. These actions of purported victimization helped result in the absence of two of our most respected commenters. I must admit it is a grudge I still hold against this person, but then I’ve never presented myself as saintly.

  219. Mike S.,

    Like any “coin” of change … there is a good side and a bad side.

    The change has taken place but the coin is in the air … push for the good side.

    Sorry, that’s kind of a sappy way to put it but it’ll have to do for now.

    (Never read anything from the NRA … crazy mudder phuckers.)

  220. But Mike, you are engaging in insinuation and sarcasm rather than reasoned argument (I didn’t insist it was directed at me). You have implied, in a derogatory way that Tony C. can not have a valid opinion on this issue because he has been successful and therefore has no skin in the game. Such a charge is based on NOTHING. It is ridiculous to say that Tony can’t have a well reasoned opinion, and nasty to imply he doesn’t care deeply (”this is all abstract to you”), because he may be well off. It is equally beside the point to insist that I read the Republican platform, and then, no doubt, follow a host of other such directives before I can express an opinion that might differ from yours. That is why I avoid giving personal particulars. I could easily be less well off than you Mike, and older, and facing all hell if Social Security and Medicare are even reduced, never mind taken away. I say, “could be”. It shouldn’t matter.

  221. “You have implied, in a derogatory way that Tony C. can not have a valid opinion on this issue because he has been successful and therefore has no skin in the game.”

    BB,

    No I responded to Tony’s assertion that people will have to feel some pain before change can occur. My specifics were related to those like me who depend upon SS and Medicare. Also to those who will come after me. Tony has used his success in the business and academic world in many arguments and therefore that same success is fair game when he talks about people needing to feel pain, when that pain will not affect him. Beyond that though given the beliefs of Romney/Ryan and how those beliefs implemented will change our already eroding country into a corporate/feudal/patriarchal/racist state far beyond its current sad one, the false equivalency between the aims of the two campaigns as merely arms of the same corporate structure is a cause for angst. Both parties truly are corporate, but one wants feudalism and the other wants a far less harsh system, recognizing that a large population of miserable people affects their own stability.

    As far as the encroachment upon human rights and the prosecution of war. Both parties are deficient, but do you honestly believe that human rights abuses will not drastically increase under Romney/Ryan. I have given you the links above between PNAC and the Romney/Ryan campaign. The theme of imperialism and endless war runs through both of them in equal measure.

  222. This post, the interview above, IS about taking principled stands, about drawing lines beyond which one shouldn’t go or give approval by vote. To suggest that those who agree do so because they can’t feel the pain or because they haven’t read the Republican platform or because they don’t know how loony and destructive the Republican candidates are side steps the subject of the post; the dilemma that Obama has put us in, not Tony or me or Jill, or others, by blatant abuse of the constitution.

  223. Catholic Bishops Say Ryan Budget Fails Moral Test
    By David Gibson
    Religion News Service
    Posted: 04/18/2012
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/ryan-budget-catholic_n_1434919.html

    Excerpts:
    WASHINGTON (RNS) A week after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan claimed his Catholic faith inspired the Republicans’ cost-cutting budget plan, the nation’s Catholic bishops reiterated their demand that the federal budget protect the poor, and said the GOP measure “fails to meet these moral criteria.”

    ***

    “What I am asking for is a campaign for the poor, the hungry, the middle class, the people who are going to be eviscerated by the Ryan budget,” DeLauro told Catholic News Service.

    That same day, some 60 Catholic social justice leaders, theologians and clergy also released a statement saying that “this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good.”

    Tuesday’s statement from the bishops came the same day as Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., called a proposed cut in benefits for children of immigrants “unjust and wrong.” Blaire, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also decried any cuts in food stamps while preserving federal subsidies for industrial farming enterprises.

    “Congress faces a difficult task to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices,” Blaire wrote to the House Agriculture Committee. “Just solutions, however, must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs.”

    “The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”

  224. Republican budget: Ryan Plan cuts fall predominantly on low-income Americans
    by Joan McCarter
    3/30/12
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/30/1079209/-House-Republican-budget-cuts-fall-predominantly-on-low-income-American

    The Paul Ryan budget passed by House Republicans, applauded by Mitt Romney, really does take us back to the Hoover administration. It gives massive tax breaks to the wealthy while slashing programs for low-income America. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the cuts in the Republican budget hit programs for the most vulnerable Americans.

    Total cuts in low-income programs (including cuts in both discretionary and entitlement programs) appear likely to account for at least $3.3 trillion — or 62 percent — of Chairman Ryan’s total budget cuts, and probably significantly more than that; as explained below, our assumptions regarding the size of the low-income cuts are conservative.
    Those cuts:

    $2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes.

    $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
    At least $463 billion in cuts in mandatory programs, such as farm programs and federal employee retirement.

    At least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs, like Head Start, child care, K-12 education, job training, Pell grants and services for the elderly.

    Those are estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities of the proposal written by Rep. Paul Ryan, and now embraced by House Republicans and Mitt Romney. But they’re just estimates, since Ryan didn’t do much actual homework by specifying cuts. The real amounts Ryan and his Republican cohorts envision cutting in these programs could be much, much higher.

    The Republican tax rates would be the lowest for the wealthy since the Hoover administration. The cuts to programs for low-income Americans would bring back the Hoover administration for them, too.

    .

  225. “Sacrifice” in America now is being used in the same sense as “their gods want them to sacrifice virgins on the cliffs.” Sacrifice is the rich deciding how many poor cannot have food or housing. But it is unpatriotic to refuse to go along with this sacrifice, you see?

    It’s like people understanding that we have to have “some semblance of law and order.” If armed citizens can’t kill whomever they fear, we won’t have a “semblance of law and order” and that is bad for America. See?

  226. Elaine,
    Ryan would love the Billionaire in Australia who thinks workers should be paid $2.00 per day in order to compete with African workers. This is the same billionaire who complains that people need to work harder. The same women who Inherited her billions.

  227. Georgetown Letter to Rep. Paul Ryan
    https://docs.google.com/a/huffingtonpost.com/document/d/1JRLM7Jh9PnrxptafWYENXdAmxnXd4gQJMYTu3H4TFHA/edit?pli=1

    Dear Rep. Paul Ryan,

    Welcome to Georgetown University. We appreciate your willingness to talk about how Catholic social teaching can help inform effective policy in dealing with the urgent challenges facing our country. As members of an academic community at a Catholic university, we see your visit on April 26 for the Whittington Lecture as an opportunity to discuss Catholic social teaching and its role in public policy.

    However, we would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” Catholic bishops recently wrote that “the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”

    In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.

    Cuts to anti-hunger programs have devastating consequences. Last year, one in six Americans lived below the official poverty level and over 46 million Americans – almost half of them children – used food stamps for basic nutrition. We also know how cuts in Pell Grants will make it difficult for low-income students to pursue their educations at colleges across the nation, including Georgetown. At a time when charities are strained to the breaking point and local governments have a hard time paying for essential services, the federal government must not walk away from the most vulnerable.

    While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on “subsidiarity” as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help — “subsidium”– when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger. According to Pope Benedict XVI: “Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.”

    Along with this letter, we have included a copy of the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by John Paul II, to help deepen your understanding of Catholic social teaching.

    Respectfully,

    Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Maurice Jackson
    Associate Professor of History and African American Studies
    Department of History

    Angelyn Mitchell, PhD
    Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
    Department of English

    Dolores R. Leckey
    Senior Research Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Raymond B. Kemp
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Thomas Michel, S.J., Ph.D.
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Rita M. Rodriguez, MBA, PhD
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Hope LeGro
    Director, Georgetown Languages
    Georgetown University Press

    Jackie Beilhart
    Publicist
    Georgetown University Press

    John Langan, S.J.
    Professor of Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought
    Georgetown University

    John F Haught, PhD
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Karen Stohr, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Philosophy, Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics
    Department of Philosophy

    Ilia Delio, OSF
    Senior Fellow
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Joseph Schad, Mdiv
    Chaplain, Mission and Pastoral Care
    Georgetown University Hospital

    J. Leon Hooper, S.J.
    Director, Woodstock Library
    Woodstock Theological Center Library

    Joseph A. McCartin
    Associate Professor of History; Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
    Department of History

    E. Hazel Denton, PhD
    Adjunct Professor
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    James Walsh, SJ, Phd
    Associate Professor
    Department of Theology

    Scott Taylor
    Associate Professor
    School of Foreign Service

    Sarah C Stiles, PhD, JD
    Professor
    Department of Sociology

    Katherine Marshall, MPA
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

    William C. McFadden, S.J.
    Associate Professor of Theology
    Georgetown University

    Alan C. Mitchell, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins
    Georgetown University

    Rev. Dr. Joseph Palacios
    Adjunct Professor of Latin American Studies
    Center for Latin American Studies

    Julia A Lamm
    Associate Professor of Theology
    Theology Department

    Peter C. Phan, Ph.D., D.D.
    Professor of Catholic Social Thought
    Georgetown University

    William Rehg, SJ, PhD, MDiv, PhL, MA
    Professor of Philosophy
    Saint Louis University (visiting, Georgetown University)

    Diana L. Hayes, JD, PhD, STD
    Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology
    Georgetown University

    Edward Vacek, S.J.
    Visiting Scholar
    Woodstock Theological Center

    Anthony Tambasco, PhD
    Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ethics
    Theology Department

    Mark Lance, PhD
    Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Justice and Peace
    Georgetown University

    Robert J. Bies, PhD, MBA
    Professor of Management
    McDonough School of Management

    Benjamin Bogin, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Theology Department

    John W. O’Malley, S.J., PhD
    University Professor
    Theology Department

    Lauve H. Steenhuisen, PhD
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    Theology Department

    Linda Ferneyhough
    Theology Dept. Administrator
    Theology Department

    Marilyn McMorrow
    Visiting Assistant Professor International Relations and Political Theory
    School of Foreign Service

    Matthew Carnes, S.J., PhD
    Assistant Professor of Government
    Georgetown University

    Diana Owen, PhD
    Associate Professor
    CCT/American Studies

    Friederike Eigler (Ph.D.)
    Professor of German
    Georgetown University College

    Ricardo L. Ortiz, PhD
    Associate Professor of English
    Department of English

    David J. Collins, S.J., S.T.L., Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of History
    Georgetown University

    Peter C. Pfeiffer, PhD
    Professor
    German Department

    Julie Finnegan Stoner
    Publishing Assistant
    Georgetown University Press

    Mary Helen Dupree
    Assistant Professor of German
    Georgetown University

    Lan Ngo, S.J., M.A., MDiv.
    Graduate Student
    Department of History

    Francis J. Ambrosio PhD
    Associate Professor of Philosohy
    Philosophy Department

    Joseph H. Neale, Ph.D.
    Paduano Distinguished Professor of Biology
    Georgetown University College

    Elizabeth Velez
    Academic Director, Community Scholars
    Professorial Lecturer, English Women’s and Gender Studies
    Georgetown University College

    Astrid Weigert
    Assistant Professor of German
    Department of German

    John Rakestraw, PhD
    Instructor of Theology
    Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship

    Susan F. Martin, PhD
    Donald G. Herzberg Associate Professor of International Migration
    School of Foreign Service

    Eli S. McCarthy PhD
    Adjunct Professor of Justice and Peace Studies
    Center for Social Justice

    Veronica Salles Reese
    Associate Professor
    Spanish Department

    Francisca Cho, PhD
    Professor of Buddhist Studies
    Theology Department

    Marcia Chatelain
    Assistant Professor of History
    Georgetown University

    Heidi Byrnes, PhD
    George M. Roth Distinguished Professor of German
    German Department

    Steven R. Sabat, Ph.D.
    Professor of Psychology
    College of Arts and Sciences

    Marianne Lyons
    Assistant Dean
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA
    Assistant Professor
    Georgetown University

    John Kraemer, JD, MPH
    Assistant Professor of Health Systems Administration
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Jose R Teruel, MD, MPH
    Professor of International Health
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Elizabeth H. Andretta, Ph.D.
    Visiting Associate Professsor
    Georgetown University in Qatar

    Jo Anne P Davis, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Nursing
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Irene Anne Jillson, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Jeanne A. Matthews, PhD, RN
    Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Justin M. Owen, BSc(Eng)
    Director of Medical Technologies
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Laura Anderko PhD RN
    Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Health Care
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Michael A. Stoto, PhD
    Professor of Health Systems Administration and Population Health
    School of Nursing & Health Studies and Pubic Policy Institute

    Ronald Leow, Ph.D.
    Professor of Applied Linguistics
    Georgetown University

    Rosemary Sokas, MD, MOH
    Professor of Human Science
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Carol Taylor, PhD, RN
    Professor of Nursing
    School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Robert J. Barnet MD, MA
    Adjunct Professor of Medicine
    School of Medicine

    Leona M Fisher, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of English
    Department of English

    Jane Fitz-Simons MS,RN
    Adjunct Faculty Nursing
    Georgetown University

    Mary Jane Mastorovich, MS
    Asst. Professor, Health Systems Administration
    Georgetown University

    Edilma Yearwood, PhD, RN
    Associate Professor of Nursing
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Wilfried Ver Eecke
    Professor in Philosophy
    Department of Philosophy

    Sylvia E. Mullins, M.A.R in Theology
    Graduate Student
    Department of History

    Terry Pinkard, PhD
    University Professor
    Department of Philosophy

    Bryce Huebner, PhD
    Assistant Professor of Philosophy
    Georgetown University

    Judith Baigis, PhD, RN, FAAN
    Professor Emerita
    School of Nursing & Health Studies

    Patricia Mullahy Fugere
    Adjunct Professor, JD Program
    AB ’81; JD ’84; E.D., Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

    Henry Schwarz, PhD
    Professor of English
    Georgetown University

    Judith Lichtenberg, PhD
    Professor of Philosophy
    Georgetown University

    Joseph A. Chalmers, PhD
    Retired Dean
    Georgetown University

    E. J. Dionne, Jr., D.Phil.
    University Professor
    Georgetown Public Policy Institute

    Marlene Canlas, MA, MPH
    Assistant Dean
    Georgetown University

  228. Malisha: “Sacrifice” in America now is being used in the same sense as “their gods want them to sacrifice virgins on the cliffs.” Sacrifice is the rich deciding how many poor cannot have food or housing. But it is unpatriotic to refuse to go along with this sacrifice, you see?”

    Right, it’s the excuse for a Democratic administration to make cuts in programs that would have been unthinkable a few years ago- if the administration is so inclined, in the interest of bi-partisan agreement. Its the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Reality is ‘pay up you greedy *$%6!@%^*@*$$’ and encompasses serious regulation of the financial sector, revisions to the tax code and an end to direct subsidies to the most profitable corporations and business sectors in our country.

    It’s not a virtue to reduce taxes to 0% on half the population when that half of the population is at or below the &%#$%%@* poverty level, it’s self interest, as is a social safety net; it’s the difference between anarchy and order. You can only tick people off so much and most of the folks on this blawg are old enough to remember what happens when you have people with little stake in society get ticked off utterly. “Welfare” is the buy-in that keeps otherwise hope-less people from torching the cities- I’ve always been a great fan of the safety net, and compassion and basic fairness is only part of the reason.

  229. Malisha & Lotta,

    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph E. Stiglitz
    May 2011
    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

    Excerpt:
    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

    Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

    First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

    Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

  230. rafflaw,

    Isn’t she a piece of work!!!!!?????

    World’s Richest Woman Suggests Workers Should Make $2 Per Day
    By Rebecca Leber on Sep 5, 2012
    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/09/05/797221/worlds-richest-woman-minimum-wage/

    The world’s richest woman has equated Australia’s minimum wage to “class warfare,” following her controversial article last week where she called poor workers coddled, lazy drunks. Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who inherited her $30 billion fortune and mining empire, pointed to workers who make less than $2 as a model for economic competitiveness in mining:

    We must be realistic, not just promote class warfare. Indeed, if we competed at the Olympic games as sluggishly as we compete economically, there would be an outcry.

    The evidence is unarguable that Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export- orientated business. Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.

    Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded harshly to Rinehart. “It’s not the Australian way to toss people $2, to toss them a gold coin, and then ask them to work for a day,” Gillard said. “We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions.”

    Rinehart’s flawed logic draws on a popular myth among U.S. conservatives, that increasing the minimum wage would impact job and economic growth. But a significant body of research shows that higher minimum wages have no effect on employment levels.

    *****

    I wonder where this pig would be today if she hadn’t inherited a fortune!

  231. Poor Hope (her middle name) … even her children sued her for delayed the vesting date of their trust. Greedy Hope, meet Mommy Dearest.

  232. It is some hours overdue to post here, but here goes.
    First a little levity, Blouise had the lead a long while if the curve and the back stretch, then Woosty began to creep closer in one daring move, but sudddenly from nowhere comes a charging elephant passing these fillies as if they were standing still, leaving them in a cloud of dust at the finish line.

    You have all guessed at this point who the elephant is.

    Yep, MikeS.

    Although I am not on good terms with him, I am for reasons of again chiming in when sensible principled but practical matters are advanced, as I also see them, then I will express my agreement.

    I would also like to add the following. 60’s style ground up resistance type OWS is doomed to failure.
    “They” are simply better organized there thanks to the 60’s experience. The streets are theirs.

    BUT, under the cover of organizing a political party which will offer an alternative, a channel for channeling your opinions (FWTAW), and a real possibility to effect things without meeting the cops in the street…..WHAT IS THERE TO LOSE BY GOING THE INTERNET ROUTE. It will mean choosing a state or the whole nation and trying to make a difference to make waves which have political effect—SOMEWHERE.

    It may be attractive to the independents. It will require the political savvy of the folks Blouise mentioned and Denenson who I mentioned in a comment with a link.

    Who is willing to do something and what to get it launched. Any secret contacts? Keep them to yourself.
    The NSA is listening.

    As for Turley’s blog, if that was what was referred to, how far do you think rings made here will reach?

  233. Rinehart and Romney?ryan not that far apart since Ryan budget cuts affect the poor. (I tweeted the 2 articles cited earlier re budget costs to poor Americans and Catholics say is morally wrong (Of course Ryan, lying again, said his budget was “inspired by his Faith” – yeah, right. and I have a bridge to sell you)

  234. leejcarroll,

    Maybe Ryan’s budget was inspired by faith–faith in the Koch Brothers,,,faith in the premise that the rich shall inherit the earth…faith in the belief that the rich should keep getting richer.

    Poor Paul Ryan–the man who married an heiress who is a former big-time lobbyist.

  235. I have to admit I do not know much about Ryan prior to his budget and then VP pick. I assumed there was money somewhere in his background since you need money to enter politics.

  236. Remember the old days, the real old days when it took 2,000,000 men to support a railroad magnate.

    Well, they still need our votes.

    How are we going to make them pay for those votes when the corps own Washington, all three branchs? And it
    is corporate ownership all the way down, like the proverbial turtles if you have heard that tale.

    When does the President, whichever we get, declare a national emergency and take executive control over the nation, suspending all democratic actions including local elections, etc. due to “democracy’s crisis”???

    Anybody taking wagers?

  237. Swarthmore mom,

    I had read about Ryan’s family.

    The Ryan Family’s History of Fakery
    By Charles P. Pierce
    8/13/12
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/paul-ryan-family-wealth-11644997

    Excerpt:
    I was struck by the revelation in this morning’s paean to zombie-eyed granny-starving in the Times, that young, up-from-the-muddy-bootstraps Paul Ryan, the plucky burger-flippin’ success story from darkest Janesville, Wisconsin, had amassed a fortune of “between three and $7.7 million” without having held a more lucrative job than “Congressman” at any point in his adult life. Then, I noticed another item. Namely, that:

    Mr. Ryan reported two tax-deferred college savings plans, with a combined value of between $150,000 and $300,000. He also reported two investment partnerships worth, in total, between $350,000 and $750,000, mostly containing shares of stock in well-known companies, including Apple, Goodrich, Kraft Foods, Visa and Whole Foods. Both partnerships were formed by Mr. Ryan and other family members to manage assets left by his grandparents and an aunt. Mrs. Ryan has reported receiving a trust after her mother died in 2010 that is valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to a letter Mr. Ryan filed with his latest financial disclosure. Mrs. Ryan also has longstanding interests in several mining and oil exploration investments in Oklahoma and Texas managed by her father, Dan Little, a lawyer in Oklahoma whose clients include oil and gas companies. Those investments generated as much as $150,000 in income last year.

    So, he’s not the son of poor Smallville dirt farmer Jonathan Kent and his wife, Martha, after all. Where does the family dough come from? A construction company founded by Great Grandpa Ryan. The Rude Pundit went a’wandering through Googlestan, and what did he find? Among other great nuggets, this thing right here:

    “The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later, was mostly Highway construction.”

    This, of course, partly explains the outburst of Weaselspeak that Ryan dropped on Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker when Lizza cornered him at the logical end of all of the government-bashing on which he’d built his career.

    When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been misunderstood. “Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature,” he said. “As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy.” He added, “Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.”

  238. Elaine:

    “Rinehart’s flawed logic draws on a popular myth among U.S. conservatives, that increasing the minimum wage would impact job and economic growth. But a significant body of research shows that higher minimum wages have no effect on employment levels.”

    The issue isnt employment of mine workers, or any skilled worker such as a welder or HVAC man. The issue is the unskilled workers, the people with no skills just entering into the workforce. They should not be depending on a low level job to support a family for one thing. Why would an employer higher an unskilled worker at $7 or $8 dollars per hour if he can get a semi-skilled worker for $10 or $12 per hour?

    The bottom line is that a good economy raises labor rates as employers compete for the best workers. Let the market determine labor rates, you might find [that is the going rate in the Dakota oil fields] that a McDonalds hamburger flipper is worth $15/hour in a good economy. Fact is, in a good economy no employer pays minimum wage, they pay more than that. So the solution is providing the necessary environment for a good economy and there is only one way to do that.

    Concerning Africa; it is a benighted cesspool of corruption, socialism and totalitarian governments. Africans are warm, good people and their governments have failed them miserably.

    Concerning the heiress; she sounds like an idiot who thinks dollars are a substitute for white and gray matter.

    “Minimum Wages and Employment*

    We review the burgeoning literature on the employment effects of minimum wages – in the United States and other countries – that was spurred by the new minimum wage research beginning in the early 1990s. Our review indicates that there is a wide range of existing estimates and, accordingly, a lack of consensus about the overall effects on low-wage employment of an increase in the minimum wage. However, the oft-stated assertion that
    recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-wage workers is clearly incorrect. A sizable majority of the studies surveyed in this monograph give a relatively consistent (although not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages. In addition, among
    the papers we view as providing the most credible evidence, almost all point to negative employment effects, both for the United States as well as for many other countries. Two other important conclusions emerge from our review. First, we see very few – if any – studies that provide convincing evidence of positive employment effects of minimum wages, especially
    from those studies that focus on the broader groups (rather than a narrow industry) for which the competitive model predicts disemployment effects. Second, the studies that focus on the least-skilled groups provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects for these groups.”

    From the Abstract, full study available from link:

    ftp://ftp.iza.org/RePEc/Discussionpaper/dp2570.pdf

  239. @Mike S: Had people who one way or another believe as I do organized some effective mass movement, with even a minimal chance of success towards regaining control count me in. However, except for words this movement does not exist. […] Organize an opposition DAMN-IT […]

    Exactly how would you be “counted in,” Mike? I can provide you with the blueprint for such a movement that meets all of your previously stated requirements (not just rhetoric, not violent, not illegal), but if you are demanding that I “organize it” so you can give me the thumbs up and donate $20 to buy a banner ad, I think that is a little presumptuous of you.

    What are you willing to do, for the right plan? Recruit the attorneys we will need? Volunteer the hours for management, target research and advocacy we need? Build a board of directors? Man the phones? Keep the books?

    The organization itself must be bootstrapped as a collective effort. Just as you decry the rhetoric of the sixties that led to no action, your rhetorical support for an organized opposition is empty if you are not going to devote any hours to creating it.

  240. TonyC,

    I’m saving that one. Not because it is MikeS who it is addressed to.

    But because it seems to apply to all the commenters here. Of course I can’t claim to know it all, but no one talks of an organized resistance to which they donate time. And my calls for suggestions on how we could get started are never answered. Not answering me in one thing, but not even discussing the possibilities is worse IMHO.

    I said in my latest comment that we should concede the streets, forget demonstrations, they’ve got that well covered. But as yet the net and free speech is not in police control. Being open also directly contradicts claims of conspiracy. But not completely. Subversion and agent provocateurs are still possible. And other infiltration.

    I could lay out some more ideas but implementing is hard if you don’t know the ropes. And ideas are worthless if they don’t have savvy workmen to do them and the longhaul money. Who in the worle of finance would contribute? Soros?

    Just saying…..

  241. Tony,
    How will I contribute? Seriously? What do you think I’m doing writing here? What government lists do you think I’ve been on since the 60’s? And my career was spent trying to male things better.for those in need. I’m already there amd will continue to be.

  242. @Idealist: I don’t need Soros. I once started and ran a national business, with sales in all 50 states, with exactly $3000 (and for the principal owners many hundreds of hours of contributed up-front labor). This would be a similar effort with a different goal.

    My plan does not require or rely on any cooperation with, sponsorship of, or endorsement by any politician, candidate, celebrity, Party, or wealthy donor. I consider that a valuable feature. We will use them if they volunteer, but we can easily do the job without them.

  243. idealist 707, Grayson? Tony C was against the re-election of Grayson in 2010. It is some thread in the fall of 2010.

  244. Doobie Dad, Tony and I are are usually on the opposite sides in these political discussions. I don’t even want to make old people go to shelters.

  245. @Swarthmore: No need to go back, I am still against Grayson, he is a proven liar and fabricator. You seem to consistently believe that people are whatever they claim to be, and ignore their actual actions as long as they provide the right lip service. I am opposed to voting for people that lie whenever it provides them a personal or political advantage, that includes Grayson, no matter how good he may be at reading a script and playing a character he doesn’t really believe in.

  246. @Idealist: As I said, there is no need. The vast majority of politicians are liars looking for personal advantage, fame and power, I think there is a perfectly valid way forward without them, and we would be far better off without them.

  247. Please make certain not to say there is anything wrong with the following:

    “President Obama doesn’t like to talk about how he uses drones to kill suspected militants — including American citizens. Explanations about who gets picked for remote-control death and who does the picking are left to underlings and aides. Just a few days ago, for example, Obama
    blew off a local Cincinnati television reporter who asked the president about his “kill list.”

    On Wednesday, however, CNN’s Jessica Yellin managed to get Obama to open up, just a little, about his criteria for approving drone attacks. His comments may have been the president’s most extensive so far on robot warfare. They were also total baloney, outside experts say.

    As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism notes, Obama told CNN that a terror suspect had to pass five tests before the administration would allow him to be taken out by a drone. “Drones are one tool that we use, and our criteria for using them is very tight and very strict,” the president said.

    1 “It has to be a target that is authorised by our laws.”

    2 “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative.”

    3 “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

    4 “We’ve got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.”

    5 “That while there is a legal justification for us to try and stop [American citizens] from carrying out plots … they are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process.”

    At least two of those five points appear to be half-truths at best. In both Yemen and Pakistan, the CIA is allowed to launch a strike based on the target’s “signature” — that is, whether he appears to look and act like a terrorist. As senior U.S. officials have repeatedly confirmed, intelligence analysts don’t even have to know the target’s name, let alone whether he’s planning to attack the U.S. In some cases, merely being a military-aged male at the wrong place at the wrong time is enough to justify your death.

    “What I found most striking was his claim that legitimate targets are a ‘threat that is serious and not speculative,’ and engaged in ‘some operational plot against the United States,’ That is simply not true,” emails the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, who has tracked the drone war as closely as any outside analyst. “The claim that the 3,000+ people killed in roughly 375 nonbattlefield targeted killings were all engaged in actual operational plots against the U.S. defies any understanding of the scope of what America has been doing for the past ten years.”

    A third point — that an American citizen is given the “protections of the Constitution” before he’s approved for unmanned killing — is dubious. Yes, there is a process that the White House uses to vet proposed drone targets. Several government officials review a suspected terrorist’s dossier before an attack on that person is okayed. This is an internal review by presidential aides, not subject to any kind of independent authority, and obviously not one in which a target’s representatives can contest the case. It’s enough to condemn someone to death. The Obama administration has argued that this is the same as the “due process of law” guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

    Legal scholars have found the argument flimsy — with no coherent standard of evidence that amounts to an instant death sentence, and no limits to where that sentence can be carried out. in a January Google Hangout — one of the few other times Obama has even mentioned the drone campaign — he said that targeting decisions were not managed by “a bunch of folks in a room somewhere just making decisions.” Actually, it appears to be something rather close to that.

    When Yellin pressed further, asking Obama if he himself made the ultimate decisions about who should live and who should die, Obama demurred, saying, “I’ve got to be careful here. There are classified issues… I can’t get too deeply into how these things work.”

    But, as Zenko notes, “that is total BS. The President has the authority to declassify anything. That authority was reaffirmed by the White House in one of its first executive orders,” issued in 2009. If the president felt like talking about the drone approval process, he could. Obama doesn’t have to leave the discussion up to unnamed officials, former subordinates, and authored leakers. He chooses to do so, presumably because the issues involved are so thorny.

    Twice in the interview, Obama complained about “misreporting” by the media about the drone campaign. “A lot of what you read in the press that purports to be accurate isn’t always accurate,” Obama said. What he didn’t mention was his own role in perpetuating the confusion.”
    Noah Shachtman
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/obama-drone/

  248. @Mike: My question was how committed you would be to working for a movement. You are not writing for a movement, since in your writing you are complaining about the distinct lack of any movement.

  249. TonyC,

    I did not say that I loved Grayson. All politicians are liars, otherwise they will never be elected.
    And to believe that we can get by with nice clean folks, that is an exercise in futility.

    I aay the guy might welcome a chance to stay in the limelight. We are going to have to offer something other than principles. Principles have not been in politics since ?????? And he knows how to pitch a line so it registers on the media. Do you or principled people? Not in their CV I believe.

    What did principles ever do for a pol? Helped them lose it seems to me.

    Working for a good cause is one thing, being unsavvy is another. Show us how your business skills are relevant in the BS arena.

  250. SwM,

    I have in several comments rejected the “let’s sacrifice others (even if I must suffer a “little”) in order to get a real change. Can’t do it myself.

    This is not 1788, Paris, and nobody is ready to storm the Bastille and burn the churches and the priests, nor guillotine the nobles.

    Tony, to be kind, misjudges how the people will react.
    I could go on on this, ie his vein as I see it. But nuf’.

    He is not the only surprise here. Found out recently that a sound streetwise and morally sound person says he believes in libertarianism. The full Ayn Rand in terms of consequences. My astonishment was great.

    Sometimes I wonder what hook, line and sinker I may have swallowed.

    Haven’t got so far that I suspect myself of shadowing myself, but then it has been cloudy a lot lately, so you never know.

  251. SwM,

    No, haven’t. He’s still chasing money from the proles, like me. Gave 50 each to him and Grijalves who won his crucial primary. A faux demo candidate says my friend in Tucson.

    Grayson is complaining of Koch money, which put him out last time he says.
    Grayson is a profiler and the dems desperately need one.
    Obama and Co have and are miserable at it.

    How is the DNC going. Could not sit through a re-run of Michelle. The crying ladies got to me. I get so much bile from listening. She mentions his rusty car with holes in the door so you could see the pavement when they first met. Hah. accdg to others they did not start dating when he joined the law firm where she was the shining light. Hell, I once had a USD 50 jalopy in LA. It was not rusted, but then they don’t have salt on the roads there. So damn poor can he not have been.

    Now restore my faith in Michele. I like her. She is competent. And human. She treats vegetables, kids and dogs well.

  252. idealist, You raised an interesting point. They met when he had a temporary summer position at the law firm. He never became a full associate there. so that explains the old car and no money.

  253. SwM,

    I suck up loose change and fuzzy facts. Lessee if Í can handle real stuff. Thanks.

    I had thought it was established that she was a star, relatively, and she was not impressed with him. Always a good beginning in many ways.

    Kerstin loved autobiographies. I can’t suffer them.
    Where do you get your stuff? Not profiling, just curious. No answer required. I don’t bite nor lick hands (anymore). Smile

  254. Idealist, She left the firm in 1991 and went to work for the city. I don’t think either one of them was cut out for corporate law.

  255. @Idealist: If you think politics is nothing BUT b.s., then what would be the harm in electing Republicans, socialists, free marketeers, or communists? If politics is nothing BUT b.s. then it is all a fiction is it not? Why would anybody care about it? If politics is nothing BUT b.s., then it is like music or a TV drama or a movie; some idle entertainment where the best performance artists can strike it rich.

    The fact is that politics is not just b.s.

    It matters. Like a business, politics produces a product (policy) that must be sold to the American people, over competing offerings.

    What does that take, to sell a product? Promoting it, explaining the features or benefits. it is marketing, which means understanding the motivations of the target. You have to convince the target that the benefits are more valuable to them than the money it would cost.

    It also takes an understanding of the mechanisms of human psychology in motivation, work and reward; and an understanding of business protocol, delegation, work tracking, finance, and all the other machinery of business.

    A movement and a business are equivalent in those regards, they have components with responsibilities, deadlines, budgets, and goals to be achieved. That is my point; if you look at a company like Apple, it could be turned around by one master idea (like an iPod) but only because there were 60,400 people working to make it happen.

    When it comes to a political movement, it isn’t enough to wish for a (metaphorical) iPod or talk endlessly about how much fun a (metaphorical) iPod would be, sooner or later somebody has to sit down and map out the (metaphorical) circuits. Somebody has to agree to work on it, instead of just talking about it.

  256. Tony,
    Question my commitment all you want. However,I reassert that you were the one lo those few months ago that was supporting Ron Paul, who is an objectivist, theocratic bigot. I’m equally justified in questioning yours. Yes he was a peace candidate, but oh that fascist baggage.

  257. TonyC,

    You write very convincingly. I was fascinated. Now I discover you read very poorly.

    I said politics is BS. Well choose your words, your choice. I still say it is fraud. It is neither “of, by and (or) for” the people. It is not even a republic. The colonies complained of taxation without representation. What the EFF do we have?

    Go cast your vote. Make a party in your own image. Make me laugh.

    I will vote for Obama because I want to prolong the agony. Not hope that you will succeed in purifying this mess and getting us saved.

    I am very naive and often through the years make a similar mistake. Meeting someone I mistake them for Leonardo da Vinci. And then the disillusionment begins.

    Go read my posts at the end of the Dem.convention thread.

    No demonstrations this year as in ’68, someone said if I remember the year right. (I came to Sweden then and had my hands full.)

    This year there will be none. Nobody believes in it, as some point out. And the “security” and the new law prohibits any (limits not clear on the new “national events protection clause” of the new Parks law). Can’t stand beside a road with a sign for the President to read either.

    How sad it is. Are you convinced you can help all this?

  258. @Idealist: Are you convinced you can help all this?

    I am convinced there is a way out, and I do not say that lightly, I am not an eternal optimist. I have been in a few business situations for which I advocated shutting down an operation (i.e. project, division, or whole company) because it was doomed, and when my advice was not taken, my predictions turned out as expected.

    I do not know if I can help or not, certainly it is not something I could do alone, and I do not have the time to lead a revolution.

    The colonies complained of taxation without representation. What the EFF do we have?

    Our founding fathers, no matter how people might like to recast them as peaceful men (as some commenters on this blog have tried) finally resorted to acts of property vandalism (like the Boston Tea Party) and then lethal violence, all illegal acts defying their King and the Law. Had they simply obeyed the law of their time, which I will point out was NOT an actual imminent threat to their lives (just their property and dignity), we would still be English subjects (unless the Americas had been overrun by non-English forces).

    What WE EFFing have is something they gave us that has, thus far, been preserved for 240 years: the ability to have a revolution without bloodshed. We have that still, despite the erosion of our civil liberties, despite the corruptions of our government, we can still recover. In this country, a good idea can explode from nothing to behemoth in a decade.

    Thus my analogizing to companies: Look at Google. In 16 years it has grown from a two-man operation to be worth about 225 billion dollars.

    However, I am not idolizing Google, or Yahoo, or Apple, or Microsoft, or or IBM, or even Linus Torvalds and Linux, perhaps the more relevant model of explosive growth and acceptance. Rather, I am pointing out that massively influential organizations can happen practically overnight, culturally speaking. Like Linux and Google such ‘revolutions’ can often be traced to one key idea or stretch of work by a handful of people, even one or two people (Linus Torvalds single-handedly produced a working core for Linux, Page & Brin had one new idea about page ranking and implemented that themselves, with much subsequent development it is still at the heart of Google search).

    As for you mistaking people for Leonardo, let me suggest you cut the cord between people and ideas, as I have. That is the essence of science, in a way, treating ideas as independent entities that are to be tested and accepted or discarded on their own, divorced from their originator or advocates.

    As for “making a party in my own image,” I have no intent of doing that. I think it is possible, with work and within 16 years, to hijack the Democratic Party and restore liberalism as the central post in that tent, and I believe this is a fine time to do it, on the verge of major instability and what I think most probably will happen economically (it isn’t good). The last New Deal came on the heels of collapse, I think the next one will too.

    If we work together, we can still influence the form of that next new deal, but writing and rhetoric is useless if nobody is taking action. Torvalds, Page & Brin, Wozniak, and many other giants (like Ford) all built something that worked in the real world. They were not armchair philosophers, they were engineers. Many did not even know what they had, for example, as students Page and Brin once sincerely offered to sell Google in its entirety for one million dollars.

    I welcome your disillusionment, or better yet, outright cynicism. I prefer my ideas be judged on their merit alone, ad hominem support is even more insidious and corrosive than ad hominem attack.

  259. ” … cut the cord between people and ideas, as I have. That is the essence of science, in a way, treating ideas as independent entities that are to be tested and accepted or discarded on their own, divorced from their originator or advocates.” (Tony C)

    That is the way to handle the change which needs to occur. If the idea inspires then it has to be because everyone has tested and absorbed it as their own.

  260. @Mike: Question my commitment all you want.

    I wasn’t questioning your commitment, I was questioning your coherency. First you say the rhetoric of the sixties led to (in my words) nothing of substance; you claimed in an earlier thread you want to move beyond rhetoric; then you claim your commitment is demonstrated by your writing here (rhetoric).

    Your implied disdain for my support for the only Peace and Constitution candidate available, despite his other baggage, is truly humorous in the light of your support for the candidate you think supports your liberal ideals in spite of HIS other baggage: Endless war, Endless secrecy, brutal oppression of the whistle-blowers he promised to protect, and a total disregard for our Constitutional Rights. Apparently you are allowed to put aside horrific baggage producing death, destruction and the ruination of lives, but I am not allowed to put aside an unlikable attitude (in Ron Paul) that has not done any provable harm to anyone, with the exception of hurt feelings. That, Mike, is hypocrisy raised to an art form.

    Having said that I will put it behind me.

    I was not questioning your commitment, I was asking if it would extend to something more than rhetoric, if there were work to be done. It was more of an inquiry DUE to your commitment, an exploration of its extent, not a slur upon it.

  261. “Your implied disdain for my support for the only Peace and Constitution candidate available, despite his other baggage, is truly humorous in the light of your support for the candidate you think supports your liberal ideals in spite of HIS other baggage”

    Tony,

    Ron Paul is a proven anti-Jewish, anti-Black bigot, which is only part of the “other baggage” you allude to. He is a Randist, who would dismantle government and government regulation. He is anti-Women’s rights, no matter how much a dichotomy that is for someone who named his so after Ayn Rand. He would as President work to dismantle most of what you yourself purport to believe in. Yes he says he’s anti-war, but perhaps if you gave more thought to his position and more thought to how politics works, you might realize that position is merely a admixture of strengthening his brand and also an expression of his hatred of government.

    That disdain for your opinion on Paul is not “implied” as you stated, but is actual when it comes to your views on Paul. “Constitution” candidate? Only in the sense that the Federalist Society is an organization that “supports” the Constitution. Theirs and Paul’s interpretation of the Constitution is a radical, right wing one. You’ve been conned Tony and you either can’t admit it, or can’t see it. Of any candidate today, of any party, Paul is the one who would most likely be the Fascist dictator. That you are unable to see how this man could rationalize away anything in his fanatical drive to vindicate an obscene
    vision of the US, is quite telling despite your intelligence. The dichotomy of his thinking shows the extent of his ability to rationalize. How anyone who supposedly believes in Ayn Rand, can be both anti-abortion as a legislative proposition and pro-Christian Church, shows a striking ability to compartmentalize his thought processes.

    “I wasn’t questioning your commitment, I was questioning your coherency.”

    “your rhetorical support for an organized opposition is empty if you are not going to devote any hours to creating it.”

    You were questioning my commitment by any reasonable interpretation of what you wrote. I don’t feel I have to answer this since quite frankly Tony you show little real insight into matters political. You approach politics, like you approach your work, as something that can be dealt with in terms of theory and practice. Despite your education you show little insight into what constitutes the political process both micro and macro-cosmically. That’s why you present simplistic solutions to problems that can’t be solved simplistically.

    However, I will tell you that in 2008 I not only worked at the grass roots for Obama, donated what money I could afford, manned phone banks and drove voters to the polls. This has been my history for the last 45 years, both in a public political context and in a Union political context. As for organizing Tony I’m not only expert in the logistics of campaigning, but I can (and have) given speeches to large groups of people, but I’m also adept at meeting people “cold” one on one and engaging them. I would be a asset to any movement I wished to join, while I think with your necessity to overvalue your personal views you would ted to turn people off politically, though I admit by your own statements you could contribute far more than me financially.

    When I wrote the piece linked below the author I quoted used the term
    Right-Wing Authoritarians (RWA’s), but he clearly stated that there were many on the Left who were also “authoritarian” in personality type. That resonated with me most strongly since I’ve stated time and again my involvement in the 60″s Movement put me into close contact with Communists, Anarchists and Socialists of all types. Most socialists were good people and we got along fine although I didn’t accept many of the premises. The communists and anarchists I met I found to be unacceptable,
    although we shared similar views about ending the Viet Nam War and racism. They were Left Wing Authoritarians, constantly “purging” people for not following the “party line” of their belief systems. Peoples actions and beliefs either met up to their personal standards, or they were no good.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/21/the-authoritarians-a-book-review-and-book/

    I wrote another piece dealing with what I saw as “political purity” and that too was informed by my long time political experience:

    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/06/02/the-pursuit-of-political-purity/

    What one can see from both of those blogs, I have a more nuanced outlook
    on politics than many and so really can be neatly classified into any political position. Which brings us back to you Tony.

    Back in the day the communists I knew, whether Stalinist, Maoist or Trotskyite all shared one overarching goal. That goal was to disrupt the society so badly, to ensure such chaos, that the masses in their misery would revolt, of course then providing the opportunity for them to take over.
    When I read your own words Tony, though you are hardly a communist, I see the same mindset.

    “It is, however, also the basis of my contention that those people will not respond to anything but (metaphorical) pain, they will not rise up and revolt, or even vote, for theoretical implications of what might happen. They will not do a damn thing until something is taken away (from them specifically or someone they know directly) and their routine is disrupted.”

    Tony, I knew more than a few communists and anarchists who would have seen the same pain. ow what makes your position more untenable to me is that what you call “metaphorical” pain would be real pain to myself and millions of others. You believe this necessary even though you have admitted that the “pain” won’t affect you. So please excuse me from wanting to be of assistance to you with your “blueprint”. For that plan of yours, you are correct, I won’t commit to it.

    “Exactly how would you be “counted in,” Mike? I can provide you with the blueprint for such a movement that meets all of your previously stated requirements”

  262. @Mike: As I said, you are being a hypocrite.

    1) It is a lie to claim Paul is a “proven” anti-black bigot, no such thing has ever been proven except in your own fevered imagination. You are redefining the word “proven” to include whatever you want it to mean. Paul does not admit to such bigotry, you derive that conclusion from circumstantial evidence and association. Knowing a racist does not make one a racist, anymore than knowing me makes one an atheist.

    2) Obama is proven to be many things too, with far more evidence and by his own on-camera speeches and statements, but you ignore them completely.

    3) You conveniently pretend that Paul could accomplish anything he felt like as President, while pretending that Obama has just been flummoxed by the politics. None of what you claim Paul “would do” or “would work to do” is politically probable at all, he would be opposed by Democrats and Republicans both on most fronts. Unlike Obama, every action Paul has ever proposed for an action as President has been Constitutionally grounded.

    4) I have not advocated causing pain to effect political change, I have advocated minimizing the totality of pain when pain is inevitable. It is better to have some pain now, which is reversible and manageable, than to have a complete collapse of the social welfare state in concert with the collapse of our civil liberties that would let us do anything about it.

    I do not doubt Obama’s sincerity when he tells Republicans “Everything is on the table,” and I have no doubt that Obama’s open-mic moment with Putin spoke to more than arms control. He will indeed have much more flexibility after his election, because then he can pursue his vision of an Imperial Presidency as vigorously as he wishes without any concern for political consequences. He will provide the next President both political cover and new dictatorial powers. Then you can kiss goodbye the safety net you cherish, because the corporatist Party really does not want to pay for it.

    5) What Ron Paul would plausibly threaten in terms of government is microscopic in comparison to what Obama has already done to civil rights and the advancement of the Imperial Presidency, the creation of bipartisanship in the practice of torture and suppression of criticism, transparency, or exposing of corruption, or any attempt to roll back pervasive surveillance, privacy, or fair trial.

    I am not the one that has been conned, Mike, I see clearly. You are the one that has been conned by a liar and criminal, because you are desperate to believe we can win a war against ruthless sociopathic corporations without ever suffering a casualty or giving up an inch of ground, despite the many casualties we suffer and ground we lose in one election cycle after another.

    As for my “simplistic solutions,” I was (and occasionally still am sought out, on contract) very well paid because I think hard to find relatively simple solutions that work. Finding them is not easy, there are ten thousand simple ideas that won’t work for every one that could work.

    But there are several very good reasons to strive for simple solutions: Complex solutions have a very high rate of failure. Complexity means inter-dependencies, and the more complex the inner workings are the more points of failure and the less robust the solution will be, and the more likely it is to be misunderstood and utterly fail. The more likely it is to have unintended consequences. The more likely it is to consume so much time and resources that any other solution becomes impossible; i.e. the more complex it is the less reversible or salvageable it is.

    Complex solutions are also far less likely to be adopted in the first place, they are (rightly) perceived as risky and managerial thinking is typically shallow, superficial, and risk averse.

    I am inventive and I have some experience finding simple-in-hindsight solutions that work. Maybe you’re right, maybe that doesn’t apply to politics. Or maybe finding something that works is not as complex as you want to think.

  263. @Elaine: Or you can lead a horse to water, and then conclude the horse must be a racist, because racists can also be led to water.

  264. Tony C.,

    We had a discussion about Ron Paul some time ago on another post. I provided you with a lot of evidence about how racist some of his newsletters were. You chose to discount all the proof that I presented to you. You choose to believe what you want to believe about the man.

  265. “It is a lie to claim Paul is a “proven” anti-black bigot, no such thing has ever been proven except in your own fevered imagination.”

    Tony,

    You allow bigoted articles to be put out over your name and masthead and you’re a proven bigot. Game, set & match. Call me all the names you want but it doesn’t hide the facts, nor does your parsing of them.

    “I see clearly. You are the one that has been conned by a liar and criminal, because you are desperate to believe we can win a war against ruthless sociopathic corporations without ever suffering a casualty or giving up an inch of ground, despite the many casualties we suffer and ground we lose in one election cycle after another.”

    Problem is Tony, you’ve already stated that you won’t be the one suffering financially, or in other ways.

    As far as “simple” solutions you are the one who is delusional, though you like to call that of others who disagree with you. As to Paul’s bigotry Elaine did prove it exhaustively, but you ignored her points, countered them with sophistry as basically responded with your guiding philosophy: “I might not always be right, but I’m never wrong!” :)

  266. Tony reminds me of the person on facebook who is for Romney, refusing to acknowledge any clicks that prove his reasoning wrong – from unbased sources as opposed to his right wing Fox, daily beast etc. His response, since he did not have reality on his side, was to call me names, use profanity, and then say (he does not know me in person only thru FB infrequent comments – and maybe my blog posts) “You are not disabled and should be working”. Not just patriotism but insults and childish behavior, the bailiwick of scoundrels.

  267. @Mike: Problem is Tony, you’ve already stated that you won’t be the one suffering financially, or in other ways.

    First, I would be impacted; the majority of my family remains in the sub-median middle class, four of them (including my mother, and partially disabled sister) are dependent upon SS and / or Medicare. None of those four people will starve or go homeless on my watch, even if this home office is converted to bedrolls. Also, among my nieces and nephews, no college student will drop out for lack of student loans.

    Second, claiming my lack of suffering is “the problem” is accusing me of being so callously biased that my opinion is invalid. Well, that weapon cuts you just as deep, the fact that you would “suffer” makes you so biased and fearful that you are blind to the logic of my position. If my personal situation makes my policy opinion invalid, your personal position makes your policy opinion invalid.

    However, I am not so childish that I can only see policy through the lens of how it will affect me, personally. I have perspective, I can tell the difference in my mind between emotion and rationality. You apparently are too overwhelmed by emotion to make that distinction.

  268. @leejcarol: ??? I am a liberal, through and through. I believe in the successful Norway model of 50% socialism and 50% capitalism.

    I won’t vote for Romney, he is a thief and con man that got rich by massive fraud.

    If you are disabled you deserve all the state aid you need to give you a level playing field, or complete support if that is impossible. Whatever deluded jerk I remind you of, you are mistaken about me. In addition, I believe I have conceded points or admitted to being wrong on this blog more than any other commenter. I doubt you will do the same.

  269. @leejcarol: P.S. The only FOX news or commentary I ever watch is clips excerpted for the Daily Show or Colbert Report. If I do watch political coverage for breaking news (like election results) it is on MSNBC. But I do not watch any talk shows; and I do not listen to any radio, even in the car.

  270. Tony you misread my post, I said you remind me of that person on FB, he refuses to admit he is wrong, the examples were then related to that fellow not you.
    No point in debating how many times you have said whoops, I’m wrong, I do not see that very often from you, although to be fair I believe you believe you do do that.

  271. @leejcarol: I do not see that very often from you,

    You haven’t seen it often from any other posters on this blog, either. In fact it is pretty difficult to find anywhere, so the fact that I do it at all is exceptional.

    My emotional stake in being “right” does not override my rational stake in conforming to reality, the point isn’t to win a debate against another person, the point is to correctly comprehend reality. If I have misapprehended reality, I admit it, even when I discover that myself, because if anybody took my mistake to heart, it is more important to fix that than to protect my ego.

    The reason I seldom admit I am wrong is because I am seldom proven wrong, and I keep countering until that happens. But after some rational debate I usually find I am debating somebody that is really rationalizing, i.e. they are so emotionally invested in their view they do not care what the cost of that view is in reality, where it leads, or whether there is any hope of achieving their extreme view in reality or not.

    That has been true for extremists in all directions; the Ayn Rand Acolytes, the Obama Apologists, religionists, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians. Why bother with messy reality when you have Ideology?

  272. Not an insult you tell us “The reason I seldom admit I am wrong is because I am seldom proven wrong, and I keep countering until that happens. But after some rational debate I usually find I am debating somebody that is really rationalizing, i.e. they are so emotionally invested in their view they do not care what the cost of that view is in reality, where it leads, or whether there is any hope of achieving their extreme view in reality or not.”
    I wish I were so right all the time. Had I mean to be snide i would have used the word arrogant. But I will not contiinue to engage in this with you.

  273. @leejcarol: I did not say I was “right,” I said I was not proven wrong, and there is a huge difference. If I hold a position and nobody offers a logical attack on that position, if all they have is feelings without evidence or rationality, if they cannot prove THEIR stance, why should I concede mine? In such cases all they are doing is rationalizing an emotional preference I do not share.

    I admit I am wrong when I am proven wrong. That does not mean my position is correct, it means nobody else can demonstrate their position is superior to mine in terms of rational consequences or ramifications.

Comments are closed.