Obama and the Decline of the American Civil Liberties Movement

Below is today’s column in The Los Angeles Times on the record of Barack Obama on civil liberties and his impact on the civil liberties movement in the United States.


With the 2012 presidential election before us, the country is again caught up in debating national security issues, our ongoing wars and the threat of terrorism. There is one related subject, however, that is rarely mentioned: civil liberties.

Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.

It’s almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama’s position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama’s policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama’s policies have become secondary to his persona.

Ironically, had Obama been defeated in 2008, it is likely that an alliance for civil liberties might have coalesced and effectively fought the government’s burgeoning police powers. A Gallup poll released this week shows 49% of Americans, a record since the poll began asking this question in 2003, believe that “the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals’ rights and freedoms.” Yet the Obama administration long ago made a cynical calculation that it already had such voters in the bag and tacked to the right on this issue to show Obama was not “soft” on terror. He assumed that, yet again, civil libertarians might grumble and gripe but, come election day, they would not dare stay home.

This calculation may be wrong. Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line, especially when it comes to waterboarding. For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. As Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted, waterboarding is clearly torture and has been long defined as such by both international and U.S. courts. It is not only a crime but a war crime. By blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes. The administration magnified the damage by blocking efforts of other countries like Spain from investigating our alleged war crimes. In this process, his administration shredded principles on the accountability of government officials and lawyers facilitating war crimes and further destroyed the credibility of the U.S. in objecting to civil liberties abuses abroad.

In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University.

The Los Angeles Times
September 29, 2011

210 thoughts on “Obama and the Decline of the American Civil Liberties Movement

  1. This article defines the conundrum for liberal and progressive voters next year. It is a lose-lose situation. Civil liberties are at risk, repressive measures are in place and not budging, abusive use of the DoJ for right wing vendettas such as in Alabama and Mississippi, and of course the badly misnamed ‘war on terror.’

    What do we even have to gain by going to the polls? We have nobody who shares our values to vote for. Lesser of two evils? We are supposed to make our choices based on the lesser of two evils? I am old enough to remember FDR and Harry Truman. I wish we had them back. Heck, I would settle for Dwight Eisenhower–his prescience about the military industrial complex being a threat was spot-on.

  2. I think it’s more important than ever to keep fighting for our freedoms before the current policies become so entrenched there will be no going back.
    The poll says 49% are unhappy about how the government is a danger to our civil rights which are still promising numbers so we just need to find a way to try and unite and expand that number so the people have a bigger voice.

  3. My family still contributes to the ACLU. Will vote for Obama although I think he should step aside for another democrat. Most of the republicans are really evil not just the lesser of two evils and that includes Ron Paul in my opinion. Social issues had not come into play in Ike’s time so who know what his views on abortion and gay rights would have been? He was not good on civil rights and there were many lynchings in the fifties.

  4. Ok….Now what…Will the voters vote for CHANGE again….or will they go for the status quo….Bush started the War with Iraq to secure his second victory…Obama has been stuck with that….But what national disaster can happen that will assure Obama public support….

    So far he has appeased everyone that has the money to help him get elected…The base that put him in office…NOT SO MUCH…He is now trying to appease the base…is it too late…

    The miracle that will get him reelected is putting a chicken in everyone’s pot…Job….Food….Stuff….

    Read anything you want but…take a look at TR and his time in office and you will see how we got President Wilson….

    1912 : Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs

    Publishers Weekly – Some histories interpret new evidence and add to our store of knowledge. Some, relying on others’ research, simply tell a known story. Chace’s work is the best of the latter kind: a lively, balanced and accurate retelling of an important moment in American history. Even though the 1912 election wasn’t the election that changed the country (there have been several), it was a critical one. It gave us Woodrow Wilson, though only by a plurality of the popular vote (albeit a huge electoral majority) and so gave us U.S. intervention in WWI and Wilsonian internationalism. Because of former president Theodore Roosevelt’s rousing candidacy as nominee of the short-lived Bull Moose, or Progressive, Party, the campaign deepened the public’s acceptance of the idea of a more modern and activist presidency


    Taft was the sitting president, Roosevelt left office to give some new blood…The office and nation was not going so well…Roosevelt wanted Taft out….He ran…knowing that it would split the party sufficiently to allow Wilson to win…

    You will see a lot of similarities of the times….

  5. I want to clarify what I said about Ike on civil rights. It seems like he left a good imprint on the movement but was too passive as far as I am concerned.

  6. With Perry falling in the polls, it looks like it will be Obama versus “corporations are people” Romney. Keep in mind that Romney’s court appointments will be very corporation friendly.

  7. There’s much this administration has done that goes beyond the above mentioned “banner” infringements. The Food Safety Act is a biggie, but I won’t get into that here. It’s enough to say that there pretty much isn’t a thought or wish or action that he and his ilk don’t think can be judged, abridged, or controlled in the name of “it’s what’s best for you,” and that’s ALWAYS the road to serfdom.

  8. keestadoll,

    I have to disagree with you on the Fair Labeling Act….This is part of what the FTC does….look at this site…..


    Exactly, what is wrong knowing what you are consuming….But for the FDA you might just get more rodents per pound of peanut butter than you normally consume…

    Want to turn your stomach and never eat some of these products again…read this…

    Defect Levels Handbook
    The Food Defect Action Levels
    Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods
    that present no health hazards for humans


  9. Perfection in prose, Professor. The only thing wrong with that column was that you had the motivation to write it in the first place. The only way I’d consider voting for Obama is if he turns Holder’s DOJ loose on the war criminals from the previous administration and those on Wall Street responsible for our economic crisis. I don’t mean just lip service either. I mean the likes of Dick Cheney and Lloyd Blankfein doing the perp walk and well on their way to facing serious jail time and asset forfeiture.

  10. Gene, Gene, Gene…..

    If he did that then there would be more unemployment….and valuable Real Estate….the Ivory Tower of the DHS….is not the new digs bigger than than the pentagon….

  11. Disagree,keestadoll, The government needs the food recall power. Look at the listeria outbreak we are experiencing.

  12. The world is not a simple one kind fits all legal questions and means. There are many places where there is neither a government nor any power which could be used to enforce international laws. So to insist that the law be followed that we use among established nations is a fools paradise. Since there is no law or established power in those spots which harbor terrorists, the US has to take measures that are extra-legal, and I have no problem with that. It is a simple rule, you shoot at us, you get shot at in return and hopefully die.

    Torture has long been a practice of the US CIA and other agencies, only practiced abroad. Targeted murder of US citizens has also long been a staple of the right wing. I can cite the cases of Ben Linder, in Nicaragua, Horman in Chile, the four US nuns in El Salvador, etc..The difference is that all of those murders were done against NON-COMBATANTS who were engaged in projects that benefited the poor people. Thus they were targeted for death.

    The difference between Obama and any opponent is that Obama has declared torture, ie waterboarding, to be illegal. His opponents will take it up again. Obama is treating the Guantanamo prisoners in accord with standards for POWs. HIs opponents deny that. I have no problem with using US forces or others to go after US citizens who are members of Al Qeada. They are combatants and should be treated as such. There are no governments to which the US can appeal to for their apprehension and trial. So what should be done in that case? Let them continue to attack the US with no consequences?

    I can understand why Gitmo is still operating since there was so much opposition to putting them elsewhere. The best solution is simply to treat them as POWs, and as such the military has every legal right to try them under military laws of warfare. They also have the right to imprison them for as long as they see fit.

    It was funny that Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex since HE was the one who created it for WWII. Ikes job when he came to the Pentagon was to formulate the industrial mobilization plan for WWII. He did an outstanding job too.

    While I do not like the Patriot Act since I feel it overreachs, we still DO need some such enhanced powers to forestall major terrorist attacks. I would much rather a person like Obama run it than a Perry, Romney, Bachmann, etc..

  13. I am so mad now that the ONLY reason I might vote for Obama next year is concern for the SCOTUS. The last thing we need is another very young super conservative on the Court that could do damage for another thirty or forty years. His court appointments so far have been OK, but I really wish he would appoint someone like our esteemed host of this blog if there is another opening.

  14. Gene,

    You can see that as well….At least with Bush…if he said he was for lower taxes….the Middle Class…making 250K or more….just kinda took it in stride…. because they knew they were going to get screwed somehow….Now if the current one says the same things…..some of the middle class provide the lube….

  15. SwMom,

    I’m not saying they (the Republicans) didn’t declare war on women. That they have is without question. I’m saying the entire scope of the erosion of civil liberties problem is much broader than just the GOP war on women. It’s an element of the whole problem, but it’s not the whole problem.

  16. yeah, so the choice is to reelect Obama and get continue the slow downward spiral or elect one of the freak show rejects from the Republican Party and return to Bush levels downward trajectory.

    Nader thought that electing Bush would show the whole country how awful it could be. They would be disgusted and turn to intelligent competent leadership. But that didn’t happen did it? Instead we got a weak tea Democrat as the only option. This country is screwed until the Republican Party is either returned to sanity or so totally discredited as to be irrelevant,

  17. SwMom,

    Democrats also aren’t doing anything productive either. No gains are being made in civil liberties. What ground hasn’t been lost the Democrats may try to sell as success stories, but treading water is not the same thing as getting out of the water.

    The problem is bigger than partisanship.

    If you want to be anti-GOP? No issue. They will end up being America’s NAZI party before history is done writing itself if the current trends continue unabated. But if you want to reasonably assess blame for the current and continuing erosion of civil rights? The DNC carries a fair share of the blame as well.

    To frame the issue in partisan terms and on narrower issues of scope does a disservice to representing the seriousness and scale of the whole problem. Women, minorities, majorities, men? We’re all on this sinking ship together and Captains from both parties have piloted it into the iceberg repeatedly.

  18. Gene H, You are correct about that. But in my view electing more republicans will only make things worse especially for women, gay people and minorities.

  19. Republicans are the ones that are sponsoring and voting for the repressive voter ID laws. Democrats are not involved in this. It is a very partisan thing.

  20. SwMom,

    I don’t disagree with that statement, however, measures must be taken to hold the Democrats responsible. We need to demand a primary challenger to Obama. Someone who will walk the talk that Obama talked before he took office and rolled over like a lap dog to special interests and the war machine.

  21. “Republicans are the ones that are sponsoring and voting for the repressive voter ID laws. Democrats are not involved in this. It is a very partisan thing.”

    But it’s not the whole picture. The whole picture is ultra-partisan. Both parties need a kick in the ass.

  22. If the Party had someone with guts. like we did had Clinton…They would have NO Problem….Most people see the current President as no different than Bush…

    Someone stated that he should step aside….That is the most sanest ideal that has been said in awhile…..Like so many others have stated and I as well…what has this one done except to whittle down those rights you claim so essential in exchange for a vote on something else…..

    He has lost the confidence of his people, very much like LBJ….

  23. Let me think about how come republican or change is looking so good….Oh yeah 1600 Pennsylvania Ave…..The current Occupant….

  24. Swarthmore Mom,
    II am with you on this one. Noone has been more vocal in criticizing Obama for ignoring the law and allowing admitted torturers to avoid investigation and prosecution, but if the Teapublicans gain the White House and the Senate, women will be 2nd class citizens and the religious Right will push their agendas through successfully. Just look at the attacks on birth control, let alone abortion.
    Civil liberties were dealt a death blow on 9/11 because the nation allowed the government to install the Patriot Act and all parties are afraid to rein it in. If the Teapublicans are in control, the Patriot Act will be just the beginning.
    One more thing, Gitmo not closing is not Obama’s problem. Congress, even Dems objected to it and he could get no funding for it. When they attempted to try one of the Gitmo detainees in NYC, the city and state and Congress balked. You and I may not like it, but a vote for the Republican candidate will be a larger step backwards for Civil liberties, but also for women’s rights, health care, the economy, and foreign policy. How many new wars will be started? With Obama in office we have a chance to correct things and protect people, but with any of the Teapublicans in the White House, the middle class will continue to be destroyed and we will have no chance to correct just what Prof. Turley is detailing in this article.

  25. Gene ,I said early on in this thread I wish Obama would step aside, but if he does not I will vote for him. A primary challenger would be fine, too. Obama deserted the base to reach out to independents. Now the independents have gone away and the base is not motivated. He will more than likely lose unless the economy turns around.

  26. Charlie Savage dances around the edges in the following article, but there’s more. When will Americans (and the world) learn the whole truth about what’s going on in America under the guise of fighting what-should-never-have-been-termed “the war on terror?”

    It’s much worse than many realize.

    Even Those Cleared of Crimes Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List
    Published: September 27, 2011

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.


  27. AN,

    A breath of fresh air….

    Something that a lot of folks are unaware of is the extent of those “Registry’s” Believe this or not…even if a case is dismissed or you are found NOT guilty….or charges never filed….Some states allow that data base to be maintained….Some states are so F*&*ing kind that they allow that information on credit reports….How I became aware of it….in Section 8 housing…..a last resort for a lot of folks…can’t be rented to drugies, rapist, pedophiles…the list goes on and on….

    Used to any person convicted of a sexual crime regardless of age was on that registry….this included 14 year old females and 15 year old males…having sex…or touching….or whatever…a lifelong “A” attached to them….FYI….the State registry is still kept….

  28. Good Morning,
    Sounds like we’re all abit confused. Me too.
    Unfortunately talking like that is going to get us the big label. “Conspiacy Theorist.” Glad to hear I’m not alone. I have long considered the possibility that not just Obama, but the entire system is being puppeted by people who are never seen or never recognized for their true power and function. That what we have is no longer a two party system but a one party system designed to operate as an entertaining show for the public but which is actually just a “Grand Illusion”. That would explain why it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to succeed. Before you say anything, it could also mean that the third party candidates who do run are chosen by that “Invisible Power Structure” for their quirks and their unelectability. Also If I were an “IPS” I would be trying to cause just what we are going through today. Confusion and “Rock and a Hard Place” decision making.
    It does occur to me though that if this were the case, it shouldn’t change how we respond to our confusion. The most succesful movements for civil rights, have always been grass roots. Womens Sufferage, Racial Equality, Gay Rights. When the people stand up en masse and say this is what we demand, even an”IPS” has to appease them to a point. Civil disobedience and peaceful protests have worked here bedfore and they are working today in most of the Arab world. They worked in China ultimately, Poland etc. Maybe it’s time to organize a true risistance to these degrading un-constitutional laws and acts.
    So, what do you think? Right-Wing Death Squad has already been dispatched to take us out?

  29. Something that a lot of folks are unaware of is the extent of those “Registry’s” -Anonymously Yours


    You’re absolutely right. And these “registries” seem to be growing (in both length and number) and without much, if any, oversight. That the information is sometimes placed on credit reports is something that I didn’t know… It’s already out of control… and the system is rife with corruption. (Thanks for the information…)

  30. AY,

    Let’s not forget the US practice of using extraordinary renditions.
    Fact Sheet: Extraordinary Rendition

    December 6, 2005
    Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”

    The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton.

  31. Elaine M.,

    You are absolutely correct….I am just trying to gloss over the negative and hi-light the glory….

    Ok, now I was BSing you….I was unaware of the time frame of the rendition….there is a certain time period I forgot or was unaware of….I was aware of the pussyfooting about DADT….

    My, my is it not nice when collective wisdom helps others recall…. Thank you…

  32. AN,

    An Attorney as an officer of the court can get into a program…you have to pay for it….and detail a vague reason for doing so….but you can find out pretty much everything about everybody…..It is about 70% accurate….I no longer have the means…or incentive….

  33. I have to wonder about the internals of the ACLU and other orgs. have they simply become K Street fundraisers rather than orgs with real grassroots?

  34. Gene H. 1, September 29, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Both parties want to send everyone to the 1930′s.

    Even worse, it seems like they mean to make it Germany of the 1930′s.


    Gene H.,

    Succinctly and well-stated.

    (I was viewing an old version of the thread and my last comment would have directly followed…)

  35. Disagree, Don’t think either party is in favor of public lynchings of African Americans although republicans are trying to reinstate Jim Crow.

  36. “The only way I’d consider voting for Obama is if he turns Holder’s DOJ loose on the war criminals from the previous administration and those on Wall Street responsible for our economic crisis.”

    The problem stated in the article is that Obama can fail the left, knowing he’s still left of the Republicans. If you don’t vote for Obama, you’re stuck with a Republican, whose civil rights preferences will disappoint you more.

    Asked from curiousity, not malice: what’s your alternative plan?

  37. Swarthmore,
    I am reading the book, The Warmth of Other Suns, and it is about the migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West to escape from Jim Crow’s grasp. Any semblence of the return of Jim Crow like attitudes and/or laws would be devastating for all of us.

  38. raf, That is why we are sticking with Obama. Romney is moving further to the right every day. He picked up a big tea party endorsement in New Hampshire today. Perry showed a little compassion on immigration and has fallen out of favor.

  39. Asked from curiousity, not malice: what’s your alternative plan?

    Speaking for myself, the plan is to not empower people who do evil things.

    When we vote for the lesser of two evils, we confirm our willingness to tolerate evil. We give our approval and support to people who are willing and able to destroy the lives of innocent people in order to maintain and increase their own power. And the candidates who destroy lives are made more certain in their power to do so.

    If good people simply refuse to lend their support to candidates who do evil things, then candidates will learn that in order to be elected they must speak out against and refuse to tolerate the kind of violent, aggressive foreign policies and civil rights violations that have defined the Obama administration.

    Many liberals will vote for Obama, a conservative (like his party), out of fear of a more conservative candidate being elected. Our last Republican president would have been unable to do the worst things he did without the clear and active support of Democrats, who, having been elected by liberals, acted like conservatives, because they knew they could.

    Fear is what defines conservatism. Voting for Obama is a conservative act, based on fear. It is the opposite of liberalism.

    It will take time, but the only solution is the simplest. Refuse to support candidates in any and all positions who are willing to destroy the lives of innocent people.

  40. This time the republican president won’t need democrats. He will have the supreme court and the house and the senate. He will have total control according to the Charlie Cook report.

  41. I won’t be voting for Obama. In my view, he’s either incredibly weak or incredibly cynical. Either way, I’m done with him.
    His actions on Wall Street, (disamantling his campaign team, which included some liberal voices, and installing an entirely Wall Street-friendly economic team,) civil liberties, (as stated in this article,) health care, (rolling over for the insurance industry and making a back room deal with big pharma,) the list goes on. Now as I see it, there are two possibilities:
    1. Obama was threatened or otherwise coersed into getting onboard the corporate bandwagon, or
    2. He was on board all along and merely tacked left in the primaries to sew up liberal support.

    Either way, I refuse to support this man any further. We can do better. And if his lack of liberal support translates into a republican victory next November, so be it. Better to totally wreck the whole system and pick up the pieces afterward.
    Nothing good comes without struggle, and I’m afraid that for things to truly change, those riots that Bloomberg is worried about need to become a reality. The quickest way to cause enough civil unrest that things have a chance of changing is to put some right wing radical in the White House. So in that regard, I find myself almost hoping for a republican victory. Not enough to vote for one, mind you. I’ll cast my vote for a third party candidate or no one at all.

  42. Ears of the World, I think it is dangerous for our children to put a right wing radical in charge as you hope. Perry will shoot the protesters and disenfranchise so many voters that he will be in for eight years.

  43. Swarthmore mom, with all respect, your arguments for supporting the conservatives in the Democratic party who have been actively destroying the lives of countless innocent people, are based on fear. Not only are arguments based on fear inherently conservative, but ultimately illogical.

    We should be so afraid of Republicans, that we should support their allies in their murderous and wasteful foreign policy and their war on civil liberties? Republicans working for Republicans will somehow be much worse for our children than Democrats working for Republicans? (“Do it for the children” is a particularly conservative talking point.)

    I understand the desire to keep Republicans out of power. That makes sense. But to support people who act, in most ways, just like Republicans, in order to keep Republicans out of power doesn’t make sense. And it is exactly the reason why Democrats know they can act just like Republicans, while counting on the support of liberals.

  44. The only way any of this changes is if voters start holding politicians accountable. As I read the comments here I see many people trying to justify the reasons they will still vote for Obama. This is exactly what Obama expects and his willing servants are eager to oblige. If you voted for Obama in part because of his stance on civil liberties than the most anyone can accuse you of is being naive. If you vote for him again than you share in the blame. This is a long term problem which will only be solved by a long term solution…changing voting patterns away from the tribal mentality. Start now and vote against every Republican and Democrat.

  45. Les, Maybe voter suppression is not a big deal to you. It is to me. Republicans in my state have passed laws requiring photo ids. When all is said and done it will either be Obama or one of the republican candidates. My point is those that favor disenfranchising voters should not be allowed to come to power especially with no checks and balances because they have control of all three branches. Vote however you want, and I hope you don’t live in a state where the republicans are trying to curb voting.

  46. In politics it has always been the lesser of two evils … accept that age-old reality. I’ve read my history … Adams thought Jefferson was the most dangerous man in the country and Jefferson was scared to death that if Adams got a second term the revolution would have been for naught. Of course by the time the 50th anniversary of the Declaration rolled around, both men had buried the hatchet and were friendly pen-pals.

    Obama stinks and I held my nose when I voted for him and will do so again if no one else steps up to the plate whom I would judge as less evil than Obama.

    I don’t even want to think about the present republican, Romney, who will be their nominee. He’s worse than Obama but not by much. His party, however, with all its teabagging members is a hell of a lot worse than the democrats … even the crazy ones.

    Reality, folks, in politics is always a compromise between the lessers of two evils. I’m goin’ with the democrats and their CIA stooge, Obama because the CIA’s stooge, Romney, is a republican and that party’s present platform is far too evil for me.

  47. The only ray of sunshine I see is the faint possibility that either Scalia or Thomas leave or, in Thomas’s case, are forced from the bench. Then perhaps we could overturn these decisions that, if they’re not changed, will serve to perpetuate this corporatocracy in which we find ourselves. Corporations have far too much influence, both indirect and increasingly direct, over our government, and thanks to recent decisions, citizens fighting corporations in court face an up hill battle. It’s as simple as that. And until this changes, we can expect more of the same.
    The only ways I see that happening are either through the courts, or through some sort of mass uprising brought on by republican overreach. While I applaud the movement to amend the constitution to revoke corporate free speech and personhood, I think everyone would agree that its chances for success are practically nonexistent. Even if, by some miracle, they were able to hold a constitutional convention, the vast majority of the delegates to that convention would be on the corporate payroll themselves.
    So what to do? I honestly don’t know. But I refuse to be taken for granted by the democrats any longer.
    Bernie for president!

  48. So, what to do? The Republicans are all liars and thieves bent on wealth and domination and they have nearly unlimited financial resources.
    The Democrats don’t have as much money or “influence” but they have the numbers if they only had a leader to motivate them.
    Why don’t the Democrats have such a leader?
    I think the answer is multi faceted. Assuming that we discount my earlier mentioned Conspiracy Possibility because it is possible but not proven and realistically, it’s probably un-provable, several factors are involved.
    As much as we all want politics to be about defending our rights and making positive changes, politics is ultimately about pressure.
    Pressure applied to voters, candidates and office holders even assuming their good intentions at the start.
    This pressure can be:
    MONETARY– The simple bribe is still popular in America. A public servant who has been frustrated by fighting the Republican machine may see it as a way of doing good for his jurisdiction. or he may just be a greedy s–t and want the moola. The Liberals have some of those as well and if we can’t face that we are bound to delude ourselves right into the mouths of the sharks. Republican sharks that is.
    PERSONAL– Blackmail. Mmmmmm. They know you had an affair but your wife and the public don’t. They know you were seen smoking a joint when you were younger. They saw you smoking one yesterday or right now. Hey I’ll be right back. Just kidding. Really though, anything can be used. They know you cheated on a math test in third grade. “This shows a tendency toward ant-social behavior and dishonesty.”
    They have the ability to insure that you are elected for another term if you just vote “no” one this gay rights bill. Think of all the good you could do with two or six more years in office. Just throw these gays under the bus.
    And last on my list is the pressure experienced from the other side of the aisle directly in the form of deals to vote this way on Bill A and we’ll let Bill B go through without objection etc.
    PHYSICAL– Less likely today, but I don’t think we can assume non-existent. Especially among the ranks of the Republicans. I don’t think a party who is so willing to take your rights away will shrink from the thought of using violence if they:
    a) Think it will work.
    b) Think they can get away with it.
    c) Don’t have a better idea.
    Next, it seems that almost all candidates for the higher public offices are lawyers. Ever been inspired to tears by a lawyer? I haven’t. It’s not their job as a rule. Even for serious litigators the chance’s to make that grand stand closing argument that changes the world as we know it are few and far between.
    Now I’m not going to make any lawyer jokes but honestly, as a group; lawyers have a less than savory reputation. But aside from the stereotype, lawyers are very good and useful if you’re going to court or writing bills or dealing with the Bureaucratic red tape so carefully placed for our amusement. But when I want a President or when I want a candidate, I want a person who is driven by philosophy. A person who has ideas. Not legal reasons why they won’t work. I want a person who has no prior political ties. I want a Leader, not a Lawyer. A leader who doesn’t know what’s not possible and will stand up and fight for my rights even though they may not be popular. A leader who makes no political deals. A dreamer. A leader who mobilizes the masses to action. Who brings out the vote because people can see he is someone who can be trusted and believed in. He can hire all the lawyers he needs to do the grunt work. What he needs to be is a man who can do the heart work.
    I also believe that leaders from the Democratic party are so few because they are worried about driving away the moderate vote from both parties who might be convinced to vote for him, but not if he comes across as a crusader or tooooooo Liberal. But the numbers are at the bottom. Move the grassroots population to the polls and you can worry a lot less about the moderates
    Since the divergence of the rich and poor is increasing, the number of poor and you would think liberal voters should increase. Nothing like poverty to open your mind.
    What I think is needed is a grassroots education and voter assistance program sponsored and operated by Liberals to help voters register, get ID (if these laws pass) and get to the polls. If every liberal voter with a car took one or two or three people with them to vote, who would otherwise not vote due to illness, apathy, transportation, we would increase the rolls of Liberals x2 at least; probably more.
    Find the Candidate who can lead, “the real thing”. But we only get one chance. If the new liberal voters, the poor are screwed out of their rights this time, their faith will be shattered forever. They already have little to no trust in government or politicians of any ilk and any lawyer is like to drive them off just because the poor don’t trust lawyers. So if we really want to defeat these republican thugs and religious fanatics, I don’t see any other way than to take it to the people in a new way and get their support before we all lose what rights we still have.

  49. Swarthmore mom, let’s consider this phrase:

    Maybe voter suppression is not a big deal to you. It is to me.

    This is not a good way to argue your point. See, I could say, “Maybe men, women, and children getting blown to bits and burned alive in front of their family members is not a big deal to you. It is to me.”

    See how that makes the argument about you, and what’s wrong with you, instead of what’s wrong with the system?

    I could say, “Maybe you don’t care about innocent people being held in secret prisons without trials forever, maybe you don’t care about whistle-blowers (who Obama promised to protect) being prosecuted like no Republican ever did. Those things matter to me.”

    See? What if I posted a story about parents gathering their children’s body parts from a field after U.S. helicopters tore them to pieces, suggesting you didn’t care about things like that? What if I posted a picture of old people and children lying bloody and dead after an attack that Obama approved?

    Of course you care about stuff like that. Of course I care about voter suppression. We’re arguing about how to keep such things from happening. I mean, you don’t honestly think that people who have no problem killing peasants overseas and locking up people indefinitely without a trial really wouldn’t stoop to voter suppression, do you? Really?

    Like thepilgrim, I believe the solution to evil acts of the government is a long-term process of only empowering government agents who don’t do evil. That’s not really been tried before, at least in this country. You and others believe the solution is to give people who do evil things more power to keep other people who do evil things from doing those evil things. Your way has been tried and it’s not working. So, it’s not unreasonable to try another strategy.

    Wanting to try another strategy doesn’t translate into not caring about the problem.

  50. Blouise, I’m sure we can agree that the people who refused to vote for Adams (maybe because of his signing the Alien and Sedition Acts) while also refusing to vote for Jefferson (maybe because of his slave holding) didn’t do anything wrong and were justified in acting according to their convictions.

  51. Indeed, we need someone, probably from the south, who can show these tea party types who the real enemy is. The right wing echo chamber has done a great job of transfering their anger and hatred to commies, gays, immigrants, you name it. What we need to do is refocus that anger and convince these people to vote for their own interests.
    Easier said than done.

  52. Scott,

    Not for whistleblowers, it won’t be. Not for the people sitting in secret prisons without a possibility of being tried. Not for the family members of people overseas whose family members were violently killed by U.S. forces.

    Those people don’t care if their lives were destroyed by Republicans or Democrats.

  53. les, I don’t think they would stoop to being for such a thing unless the person was a Ron Paul supporter who favors ending the wars but does not seem to give a damn about other civil rights. I am just trying to make people aware of the extent that voter suppression is going on and that by electing republicans they will be endorsing it. You make good points. Glad you are back.

  54. At least when a Republican was in office we had an opposition party. This is why Obama is so dangerous, his actions have placed these issues on the fringe as Democrats either ignore or excuse Bush/Obama policies. Remember this, when the founders drafted our constitution they were much more worried about protecting us from our own government then they were about protecting us from outside threats.

  55. Remember this, when the founders drafted our constitution they were much more worried about protecting us from our own government then they were about protecting us from outside threats. -thepilgrim

    Yes. We’ve let “our own government” run amok… and it’s clearly our biggest threat right now.

  56. Off Topic:

    NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street
    by Matt Sledge
    Huffington Post, 9/29/2011

    New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.

    The Transit Workers Union Local 100’s executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.

  57. Swarthmore mom: “I am taking the republican introduction of voter ID laws in 23 states as a serious violation of civil rights and an attempt to reintroduce Jim Crow.”

    I know that there are moves by Ohio congressman to have the Justice Dept. move on the the voter suppression but that may be moot now due to the Ohio legislature backing off the measures. The Justice Dept. should be all over these measures in every state but all that seems to be happening is hearings in Congress. The Justice Dept inaction is enabling this movement. All of these efforts have the effect of discriminating against protected groups and if nothing else the Civil Rights Division of the JD should be all over this.

    “CLEVELAND – Facing calls by area members of Congress for a Justice Department investigation, Secretary of State John Husted retracted a threat not to process mail ballot applications sent to voters by the Cuyahoga County government”


  58. Lotta,
    the situation in Ohio is unbelievable. The DOJ needs to get off of their butts and get to work on these abuses. If they are not going to go after torturers, at least go after illegal voter suppression.

  59. Lotta,

    That was one fight we won but it was hard going and is coming around again in another form. the only thing going for us here in Ohio is that the Governor is so unpopular that Obama scores higher with republicans than he does. That means the present administration is saddled with a weak leader and Columbus acts accordingly. It’s the only bright spot in a sea of teabagging idiots.

  60. Blouise, The level of activism in a few states, Ohio, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, is heartening. Other states- not so much. I have no doubt that you in Ohio are going to be fighting this same battle repeatedly until you change the face of the Governor’s office and the legislature.

  61. les,

    Can’t go there with you because the example you use to take the discussion to the area you intend isn’t comparative to today’s electoral (I’m referring to the Electoral College) selection. In the 1800 election states were all over the place in choosing their electors with Georgia opting out entirely from the popular vote … I think a couple of other states also opted out (electors by popular vote) but I’m not certain which ones.

    If you are asking me if I agree with those who choose not to vote because they don’t like either candidate, then my answer would be no, I don’t, which should be pretty obvious from my post regarding the age-old reality that many elections then and now are seen by voters as being a lesser of two evils choice.

  62. That being said … give me a third, fourth, or fifth political party that promotes the principles I hold dear and puts forth a candidate like Kucinich or Sherrod Brown and I’m there.

  63. angrymanspeaks, September 29, 2011


    Unfortunately talking like that is going to get us the big label. “Conspiacy Theorist.” Glad to hear I’m not alone.
    If you read the links in my comment you refer to, you will see that I cite to The Wall Street Journal, and The University of California, for data concluding the same thing.

    A conclusion of conservative and liberal alike.

    What I said is not a conspiracy, conspiracy theory, or the like, it is an academic reality revealed by experts in the field.

  64. Blouise 1, September 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    That being said … give me a third, fourth, or fifth political party that promotes the principles I hold dear and puts forth a candidate like Kucinich or Sherrod Brown and I’m there.


    And I’m with you…

  65. Occupy Wall Street Protests Poised to Grow Rapidly With Union Support

    The “Occupy Wall Street” protests, now entering their third week, are poised to get a whole lot bigger than its core of 200 to 300 people, potentially even exceeding the protesters original goals of 20,000 demonstrators, thanks to recent pledges of support from some of New York City’s largest labor unions and community groups.

    On Tuesday, over 700 uniformed pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, took to the streets outside of Wall Street demanding better pay.

    On Wednesday night, the executive board of the New York Transit Workers Union (TWU Local 100), which represents the city’s all-important train and bus workers, voted unanimously to support Occupy Wall Street. TWU Local 100 counts 38,000 active members and covers 26,000 retirees, according to its website.

    The Union on Thursday used Twitter to urge members to take part in a massive march and rally on Wednesday, Oct. 5. That effort is being co-sponsored by another eight labor and community outreach organizations.


    The other eight organizations expected to join in the October 5 rally, based on its Facebook page, are United NY, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Working Families Party, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, Alliance for Quality Education, New York Communities for Change, Coalition for the Homeless, which have a collective membership of over 1 million.

    As Jon Kest, the executive director of New York Communities for Change, told Crain’s New York Business: “It’s a responsibility for the progressive organizations in town to show their support and connect Occupy Wall Street to some of the struggles that are real in the city today. They’re speaking about issues we’re trying to speak about.”

    Crain’s also quoted a political consultant who said of the demonstration: “”It’s become too big to ignore.”

    Meanwhile, the New York Metro 32BJ SEIU, which represents maintenance workers and security officers and counts some 70,000 members, is also re-purposing a previously planned rally on Oct. 12 to express solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, the Huffington Post reports.

  66. Blouise, AN, et al….

    Put me in that camp as well….What we are stuck with is the lesser of two evils and I frankly don’t like that option….It is getting old….

  67. Dredd,


    Anonymously Yours
    1, September 29, 2011 at 9:46 am
    Damn….I just hate it when “I” am the lamb…

    Anonymously Yours
    1, September 29, 2011 at 9:52 am

    That was to you…..

  68. And to think that these people are using tax payer dollars…to fund this stuff…

    Police Device Used To Steal Your Cell Phone Data During Traffic Stop

    You may have heard about the Cellebrite cell phone extraction device (UFED) in the news lately. It gives law enforcement officials the ability to access all the information on your cell phone within a few short minutes. When it became known that Michigan State Police had been using the tool to access cell phones during traffic stops, it raised concern with the ACLU. Now, everyone is wondering if cops will be using devices like this elsewhere. Will this new law enforcement tool be abused, or will it be used responsibly in the pursuit of justice?

    Call us paranoid, but we obtained a law-enforcement-grade software extraction tool for the iPhone to see exactly what data is up for grabs. You’d be surprised to see just how much data today’s smartphones can store — and police can access.


  69. re: Elaine’s post at 8:56 pm

    Okay now everybody … that’s the place to be … trust me, protesting is fun … take it to the “Let them eat cake bunch”. Ruin their gong-gong day … hell, the majority of the cowards will stay home so take their street … let ’em know that you know they couldn’t stop it.

    Bring a camera … you might get a chance to snap a picture of Officer Mark DeSimone

  70. There is a reason I own a “stupid” cell phone. It makes phone calls. That’s it. I don’t use voice mail and I do not have speed dial set up. I don’t have photos stored in my phone. I do not use text messaging.

    It is going to stay that way.

  71. Is the U.S. ginning up its own “war on terror?”

    “…in order to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror) — the FBI has to search for ones they can recruit, convert, convince, fund, and direct to carry out plots. -Glenn Greenwald


    Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 14:30 ET

    The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot
    By Glenn Greenwald


    The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade — much of it valid — but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.

    Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success. In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro. And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.

    None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it. They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them. Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI’s Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags). I have several observations and questions about these matters:

    …and the article continues

    (4) Wouldn’t the FBI’s resources be better spent on detecting and breaking up actual Terrorist plots — if there are any — rather than manufacturing ones so that they can stop those? Harboring hatred for the U.S. and wanting to harm it (or any country) is not actually a crime; at most, it’s a Thought Crime. It doesn’t become a crime until steps are taken to attempt to transform that desire into reality. There are millions and millions of people who at some point harbor a desire to impose violent harm on others who never do so: perhaps that’s true of a majority of human beings. Many of them will never act in the absence of the type of highly sophisticated, expert push of which the FBI is uniquely capable. Is manufacturing criminals — as opposed to finding and stopping actual criminals — really a prudent law enforcement activity?

    (5) Does the FBI devote any comparable resources to infiltrating non-Muslim communities in order to persuade and induce those extremists to become Terrorists so that they can arrest them? Are they out in the anti-abortion world, or the world of radical Christianity, or right-wing anti-government radicals, trying to recruit them into manufactured Terrorist plots?

    (6) As usual, most media coverage of the FBI’s plots is as uncritical as it is sensationalistic. The first paragraph of The New York Times article on this story described the plot as one “to blow up the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.” But the FBI’s charging Affidavit (reproduced below) makes clear that Ferdaus’ plan was to send a single model airplane (at most 1/10 the size of an actual U.S. jet) to the Capitol and two of them to the Pentagon, each packed with “5 pounds” of explosives (para. 70); the Capitol was to be attacked at its dome for “psychological effect” (para 34). The U.S. routinely drops 500-pound or 1,000-pound bombs from actual fighter jets; this plot — even if it were carried out by someone other than a hapless loner with no experience and it worked perfectly — could not remotely “blow up” the Pentagon or the Capitol.

    (7) As is now found in almost every case of would-be Terrorist plots against the U.S. — especially “homegrown Terrorists” — the motive is unbridled fury over (and a desire to avenge) continuous U.S violence against Muslim civilians. Infused throughout the charging Affidavit here are such references to Ferdaus’ motives, including his happiness over the prospect of killing U.S. troops in Iraq; his proclamation that he’s “interested in traveling to Afghanistan” to aid insurgents; his statement that “he wanted to ‘decapitate’ the U.S. government’s ‘military center’ and to severely disrupt . . . the head and heart of the snake” (para 12) and to “essentially decapitate the entire empire” (para 34) (compare that language to how the U.S. described what it tried to do in Baghdad). Using drones to decapitate the leadership and government infrastructure of a nation at war; I wonder where he got that idea.

    At least according to the FBI, this is how Feradus replied when expressly asked why he wanted to attack the U.S.:

    Cause that would be a huge scare . . . the point is you want to scare them so they know not to mess with you . . . They have . . . . have killed from us, our innocents, our men, women and children, they are all enemies (para 19).

    If the FBI’s allegations are accurate, then it’s clear Ferdaus has become hardened in his hatred; he talks about a willingness to kill American civilians because they have become part of the enemy, and claims that he fantasized about such attacks before the FBI informant spoke to him.

    But whatever else is true, it’s simply unrealistic in the extreme to expect to run around for a full decade screaming WE ARE AT WAR!! — and dropping bombs and attacking with drones and shooting up families in multiple Muslim countries (and occupying, interfering in and killing large numbers before that) — and not produce many Rezwan Ferdauses. In fact, the only surprising thing is that these seem to be so few of them actually willing and able to attack back that — in order to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror) — the FBI has to search for ones they can recruit, convert, convince, fund, and direct to carry out plots. (end of excerpts)

  72. Sorry about the length of my last posting… I might have cut some more of the Greenwald piece…



    “What we are stuck with is the lesser of two evils and I frankly don’t like that option…”

    There’s still time for some kind of turn-around… I keep hoping…

  73. This video has been up and down today. It apparently attracted the attention of the admins at YouTube and they took it down. It was put right back up. Some bloggers have suggested it be downloaded and saved, then if it is taken down again, upload it to your account.

  74. AY,

    Theft of information from cell phones by government was also discussed on an earlier thread, here.

    I expect to see these devices universally deployed by US Customs and eventually at TSA checkpoints.

  75. hey swarthy swathmore hon,
    So the Republicans are waging a war on at least 50% of the voting population – women. So how did the dems get such a rear kicking in the mid-terms? And how much of a % of the ladies voted the Rep way? Please reflect on this and consider that either your assertions are erroneous OR that the gals (other than you I assume) just don’t know what they are doing. I think that your views might be a little off the mark in this case. then again, I guess I’m one of the guilty parties “waging war” on your gender so what do I know? Still respect your opinion and your right to express it.

    And just how did it happen that females have dominated the “Human Resources” profession by overwhelming numbers? Perhaps a little gender war going on in the workplace? HR hiring practices within that business function have a demonstrable disparate impact on males – imho. And since females dominate this function isn’t it fair to assert that said females are responsible for some unfair hiring policies perpetrated by companies who boldly state “unemployed people need not apply”? Since plus 40 aged males have been affected by layoffs more than other groups – doesn’t this show disparate impact upon them? I mean – you people are a bunch of cougars!

  76. Nothing gets better unless progressives manage to elect a Democratic Congress and kill the filibuster rule. Obama’s style is to lead from behind, and he can’t or won’t push for a progressive agenda unless there’s a wind at his back.


  77. Gebba Gebba,..”how did it happen that females have dominated the “Human Resources” profession by overwhelming numbers”
    Because it’s a handmaiden position. All those women scrambling for those MBA’s hadn’t a clue, got sold a bill of goods. That’s not where the money is. The money is in the line management chain of command, and sales. The money is the the department head of production. Human Resources? The implement the policies that are decided by the owners and production heads.

    Owner: ‘I want more widgets and profits, can you do that?’

    Production department heads: ‘We can do that bu then we need more widget makers and some new machines and a way to get more work out of the widget makers, and I’ll need a raise.’

    Owner: ‘Yo, human resources girly-girl, hire more widget makers and see if we can take the peasants break away from them.’

    That’s how it goes. That’s the real chain of command. Human Resource’s chiefs and assistant chiefs, they’re the first people to be laid off when there are belts to tighten. Non-essential personnel.


    “HR hiring practices within that business function have a demonstrable disparate impact on males – imho”

    You bet they do. Gee, one of us is wrong. But I know where the money is and you don’t so a betting man would put his money on which one of us I wonder?

  78. Puzzling…..

    Yes. You are correct….However, if you will look at the link provided…I think it is dated April 29….now if my suspicions are correct…There is something going on about this device and MSM may occasionally run an old story…without updates to alert the public…and feel like they are doing their job….There are some decent journalist still out there….Think about it…

  79. Friday, Sep 30, 2011 06:31 ET

    The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality
    By Glenn Greenwald


    “From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture. It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.”

    (And our government has dispensed with due process here in the U.S., as well. Many just don’t realize it yet.)

  80. Obama should be tried for murder and then impeached. We dont need to do it in the Haig, we can do it right here in DC.

    I guess this is what happens when you allow waterboarding to go unanswered. I wonder who is next?

    Buddha is Laughing wherever you are, watch your back.

  81. Swathmore Mum and all who think voting Democrat is the lesser of two evils.

    Please read this article at Black Agenda Report entitled “Barak Obama Versus Those Craaaazy Republicans: Is He the Lesser Evil, or the More Effective Evil”.

    The article makes a good case for the proposition that Obama and the Democrats can getaway with many anti-civil liberties polices without being criticised by the loyal liberal base.

    In any case politicians who have treated their supporters with such contempt will not consider this an error until the election when the jilted supporters withhold their votes. this may already have happened in 2010.

  82. One inherent problem is the words WE use. We should be talking about inalienable rights – those rights are inherant and are NOT government granted. Civil rights on the other hand are government granted, and what the government gives it can take away.

  83. Why Is Everyone So Scared of Civil Liberties?
    September 30, 2011 at 12:52PM

    by Charles P. Pierce


    There’s an interesting argument going on in various quarters over the depth and sincerity of Barack Obama’s commitment to civil liberties. Jonathan Turley — about whom my favorite factoid is that he once fought a worker’s-comp suit on behalf of workers… at Area 51 — launched the first salvo in the L.A. Times on Thursday, calling Obama a “disaster” on the issue. Over at Mother Jones, the judicious Adam Serwer replies to Turley’s jeremiad by constructing what seems to me, anyway, to be a rather sturdy alibi, but nevertheless simply an alibi — and not just an alibi for Obama, either.

    …and the article continues…

  84. Per Michael German, the FBI can open a file on any individual if they suspect that person might commit a federal crime in the future. No suspicion of wrongdoing is needed.

  85. ekeyra1, September 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    what has this got to do with the rank foul theft of the American people that has occurred over the past 10+ years?
    laws and regulations have been breached….

  86. There are 3,000 plus protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge. Police are barricading them and arresting people at random, apparently. At least one or more of the arrests appear to be children or teenagers.

    At least one reporter, including one from the NYT covering the protests, have been arrested. This is not getting much (none?) coverage from the MSM. If so, I have not been able to find it among news of football, racing and baseball. Someone pointed out that a few weeks ago, JP Morgan Chase & Company made a 4.6 million dollar “donation” to the NYPD.

    Here is a link to the live feed from the bridge:


  87. It’s not just Brooklyn and Wall St…..it is EVERYWHERE!!! [I don’t have a television…are they saying anything about this?] From my facebook site they are arresting in Toronto, in Sarasota….all over…and the kids are being just awesome…calm, collected, respectful…shouting out thier names as they get arrested so there is a record…good-oh!

    I’m excited! and all emotional and everything….it just took too damn long….and here is this from reuters;

    ‘The group has gained support among some union members. The United Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members, are among those pledging solidarity.~reuters’

    keep it peaceful!

  88. OS

    i’ve been kinda/sorta keeping up with occupy wall st on alternet but i just logged on a few minutes ago.

    why the hell isn’t this plastered all over the news

    i just scanned the 3 1/2 24 hour news channels and they’re running the same old shit, cnn headline, micheal jackson, cnn, micheal jackson, msnbc, the prison channel, and faux news is still talking about casey anthony.

  89. pete, I don’t know the answer for certain, but in the last half hour on the TV watching some football and storm chasers on the Weather Channel, I have seen at least a dozen bank and credit card commercials. I have not seen a single item sponsored by unions or protesters. Coincidence? I think not…..

  90. Rich-

    The ACLU is alive and well and in court every day fighting for civil liberties, unlike our President, who stands for absolutely nothing. Check out the ACLU website and if you like what you see, join up and send them a few bucks. If you’re a Progressive, they are on your side. If you’re a Bible-thumping, woman-hating, gay-bashing, tea-bagger, the ACLU is your worst nightmare come true. They are in the State courts as well as the Federal courts fighting the Statehouse Fascism of the newly powerful Republicans. In my opinion they are the most useful and effective organization we have in the USA. I wish I could say the same for the Democratic Party.

  91. Swarthmore Mom-

    You are doing a great job of shouting “Fire!” every time someone calls you on the “lesser of two evils” excuse to keep an unprincipled President in office. The lesser of two evils is evil. Obama lost my vote shortly after he was elected with his “I want to look forward, not backward” excuse for not investigating the war crimes and illegal invasion of Iraq by the previous administration. Obama also lost my vote for his failure to roll back the Bush administration attacks on the civil liberties of the American people when he had both Houses under Democratic control. A President who stands for nothing and is a moral coward on Progressive issues brings the Democratic Party into disrepute and has nothing to offer me or anyone else. As Prof. Turley said early in Obama’s Presidency, “President Obama has proven to be a perfect nightmare on civil liberties.”

    When I voted for Obama, who was not my first choice, I at least thought he had a fine mind and would move America in the right direction. I was wrong on both assumptions. The man has been a total dupe for the Republicans and John Boehner has played him like a banjo. How many months has he wasted arguing with the Republicans about the “deficit problem”? He should have told them publicly that we are not going to even consider lowering the deficit until the small business owners and corporate CEO’s stop sitting on their money and start hiring unemployed Americans. He should have told the two Republican leaders that he would talk to them about the deficit when the unemployment level hits 5%.

    I hope I will have a real Progressive primary challenger to vote for in 2012. If not, I will write in Bernie Sanders. At least I will have the satisfaction of voting for someone I respect. I have no respect for Barack Obama.

    And, no, Swarthmore Mom, I will NOT be responsible if a Republican is elected. Barack Obama will be solely responsible for his loss because of his own lack of principles and his own flawed character. I would not respect myself if I voted for Obama, and unlike Obama, I DO have principles and will not compromise them.

  92. HenMan,

    Copy that…..or is it….Roger that….

    Now as I understand it you run around with Bobcats…..so you should be looked to with askance…..really….But then again….Bobcats under each arms….in the mid west….may just be like truffles in the UP…..

  93. Henman, I respect your principled position, but i just can’t bear the idea of the tea party republicans having control of the presidency,congress and the supreme court. I think it could very likely happen.

  94. Henman,

    Regardless of who is elected president….based upon the current ones disposition…it won’t really matter…the law and order that one would expect from the one expected to uphold it is a dismissal prospect at best….You say Bernie Sanders….

  95. Swarthmore Mom-

    You just shouted “Fire!” again.

    As FDR said, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

    The “lesser of two evils” theory doesn’t get us there- it just prolongs the evil.

  96. Henman, You write in Bernie. I like him a lot but Jane Hampshire of FDL was tweeting about him being a “techno fascist disguised as a liberal”. However, I am sticking with my Planned Parenthood and union friends and voting a straight democratic ticket. We don’t get the union sample ballot that I used to distribute when I lived up north. The repubs will sweep here, and if I want to do campaign work I will work in Colorado. Texas is a one party state, and it is pretty darn evil for working people. Things did not get better here when the republicans achieved a super majority.Ask any teacher.

  97. http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/texas-house-of-representatives/olbermann-on-the-new-texas-house-supermajority/ Keith Olberman called Texas a “wholly owned subsidiary of the tea party”. It has not worked out well. The lesser of two evil argument does not work in Texas. Wish I had my old kinda blue dog rep, Martin Frost, back instead of Tea Party leader Pete Sessions. Once they get in they don’t leave. They rig the rules. Thanks again, Tom DeLay.

  98. My name is Fear, I induce or ridicule people by using a tactic which is known as fear mongering or scaremongering. I like to get people to think the way I do and use this type of emotional manipulation to to cause fear in people that don’t think like I do. I do not want them to act any different than what I think. I use fear and set up people so that I can ridicule them for acting different than I think they should. I will exaggerate my point in order to induce action. I will repeat it over and over until I feel that I have made my point. I will attack anyone that disagrees with me and show them the error of their way. My name is Fear, and I am here. You may know me by another name.

  99. Swarthmore Mom-

    Werner von Braun was a techno fascist. I don’t believe that Bernie Sanders ever aimed a V2 rocket at the moon and hit London by mistake like WvB did. And it didn’t just happen once.

    Actually, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. Obama is the techno fascist. But he’s a waffling techno fascist who will compromise if you glare at him.

    SwM- We can’t vote a straight party ticket in Wisconsin anymore. The Republicans thought that might cause voter fraud, or Democrats winning elections, or something. So they made it illegal.

    P.S. I still luv ya, even though you keep shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater. When Obama turns Social Security over to Goldman Sachs and Medicare over to United Healthcare, I promise not to say “I told you so”……..(more than 100 times).

  100. HenMan, I am shouting against the tea party. Wish someone had shouted louder in 2010. We might still have Russ Feingold. Everyone is waiting for the messiah Chris Christie. Even Herman Cain is afraid of Rick Perry now after he heard about what was in that article I posted above. The election is over a year away so who knows what could happen.

  101. SwM,

    You have my sympathies living down there in a state that only protests last suppers for those on death row. I was at an organizing meeting today and learned that we have our own Wall Street protesting group going in Cleveland.

    Fun times.

  102. Blouise,

    I would and will trade you….I have been doing fall clean up and finally finished erecting the fence….Hope you had fun…I am exhausted…

    I see where or read Cheney thinks Obama should apologize to Bush about the what he said about the war….Now if he’d just keep his campaign promises…maybe he’d have some credibility….

  103. Blouise, We have occupy Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio coming up this month. I doubt Dallas will get much of a crowd but Austin will.

  104. Off Topic:

    Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales
    By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans – Oct 2, 2011 6:00 PM ET
    Bloomberg Markets Magazine

    Abolishing Social Security
    Fred was an early adviser to the founder of the anti- communist John Birch Society, which fought against the civil rights movement and the United Nations. Charles and David have supported the Tea Party, a loosely organized group that aims to shrink the size of government and cut federal spending.

    These are long-standing tenets for the Kochs. In 1980, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws and federal agencies — including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

    What many people don’t know is how the Kochs’ anti- regulation political ideology has influenced the way they conduct business.

    A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries — in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East — has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.

    The ‘Koch Method’

    Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada.

    From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S.

    Phil Dubose, a Koch employee who testified against the company said he and his colleagues were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat — using techniques they called the Koch Method.

  105. Obama who? I look to occupy wall st for a leaderless movement. I have plans, switch from a bank to a local credit union, don’t use my atm card, withdraw and pay with cash instead. Buy local whenever possible. Reduce driving as much as possible. Eat meat and vegetables from local farmers, get off processed foods. If a product is made in another country with slave labor, I won’t buy it. If I’m not the only one making small decisions like these, there is hope. Interesting times ahead…

  106. The guy on camera certainly articulated his point well, at a time that his interviewer probably wanted him to sound like some tripped-out peace child of the 60s. Is there any uncertainty why this footage remained unaired?

  107. John Cusack replied (in part) to a comment of mine concerning “breaking Obama’s balls.” Now’s not the time is my singular point. And if timing is anything, that’s my disagreement. Cusack would argue “breaking balls” is required because of his love for The Constitution. So, I will attack the above by assuming it is all true. I know y’all are friends and enjoyed Prof. Turley’s dancing scene in Better Off Dead. So, without the constraints of a Tweet beak, here it goes…

    Assuming arguendo everything Prof. Turley says is true, a legal realist (or the like) with a liberal core might argue now is not the time to make this case. Given the political realities — crazies who act irrationally and in bad faith — the real “disaster” would be an inability to recognize what SCOTUS would look like with Romney appointments and Ginsburg stepping down next term… Hell. The Dark Court. If one loves The Constitution, recognize the realities, play the hand, and wait. The political math doesn’t add up and sorry, that’s a sad and necessary corollary of law. Obama is a pragmatist, like Justice Roberts in a way (both taught by Prof. Tribe), and there is a realistic way to outflank the cons for a long time on The Court.

    Like a poker game, and I’m mostly a CRIT, the only time to hit these issues are during the second term — The Turn & River.

    No political playbook, if one agrees with the arguments Prof. Turley espouses, could, given the arena, be designed in the first term with the above arguments that would… work. In reality. Why? If Obama did shift the paradigm of executive power, or, the perception of that, to the areas presented above, it would cut out his ability to get reelected. If Republicans could credibly argue he is soft on these issues, the odds are Obama goes down. If he goes down, The Court does.

    At the end of the day, I care about the balance of The Court. I grant out every argument above as true, but here’s the kicker — the paradox of law vitiates any realistic hope of pursuing them in the first term. The threat of Romney taking over and drastically changing the court to point where civil rights legislation gets struck down, The Commerce Clause is upended, and Roe overturned, trumps making the Prof’s arguments now. Less is more. The waiting is the hardest part, and, even if the president doesn’t fix these perceived holes in the second term, the balance still tips in his favor.

    I respectfully dissent and would reserve judgment (very quietly) until the goods are in the bag. Trumpeting this cause with hyperbole won’t work in reality now, and, isn’t worth the risk to Obama politically by the superlongestshot.

    Gotta Bad Man’s view of the law. Someone said that.

    Also a conference on realism in Stockholm next month. Something about realism, growing a garden, but no guy named, “Chauncy.”

    Wiki on CLS.

  108. This is the most wonderful day of my life, because I’m here with you now.The Smiths are my neighbors.The price is reasonable.I will speak against anything I know to be wrong.He looks very healthy.There are mice next to the refrigerator, under the sink and inside the cupboard!There are mice next to the refrigerator, under the sink and inside the cupboard!He came to the point at once.The view is great.The question will be settled tonight.

  109. […] However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. […] In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. MORE […]

  110. […] However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. […] In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. MORE […]

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