Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The cold, incompetent stupidity of the system
April 25, 2011 1:37 AM   Subscribe

Massive leak reveals secret dossiers on 759 captives The Guantanamo Files New York Times and Guardian
() For all the sensitive types that can't read actual wikileak files with out having tanks on your lawn or SWAT teams down your chimney, please rest assured that none of my links here or inside lead directly to *sekrets*)

But what is given new prominence by these latest files is the cold, incompetent stupidity of the system: a system that tangled up the old and the young, the sick and the innocent. A system in which to say you were not a terrorist might be taken as evidence of your cunning. A system designed less to hand out justice than to process and supply information from inmates, as if they were not humans but items of digital data in some demented storage machine programmed always to reject the answer "No, I was not involved". The clinical idiocy of this dreadful place is the most chilling thing of all, since it strips away even the cynical but persuasive defence: it was harsh but it worked and it kept the world safe. (via)
Only about 220 of the people detained are assessed by the Americans to be dangerous international terrorists. A further 380 people are lower-level foot-soldiers, either members of the Taliban or extremists who travelled to Afghanistan whose presence at the military facility is questionable.
At least a further 150 people are innocent Afghans or Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded up or even sold to US forces and transferred across the world. In the top-secret documents, senior US commanders conclude that in dozens of cases there is “no reason recorded for transfer” (via).
Guardian live coverage.
The Guantanamo Docket: A History of the Detainee Population
The Nation blogs the leak.
Wikileaks Central Will WikiLeaks vs. NYT, The Guardian & Daniel Domscheit-Berg Drama Overshadow Contents of Gitmo Files
Wikileaks Gitmo Files
posted by adamvasco (391 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for posting links to the Guardian's coverage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 AM on April 25, 2011


Dear god.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing new except for the specifics. If you didn't know this was going on, you weren't paying attention.
posted by ryanrs at 2:03 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Read the NYT article. Big yawn. Gonna have to do better, boys.
posted by Ardiril at 2:13 AM on April 25, 2011


Just to establish this at the outset, since you see casual disinformation about it all the time:
Jan. 21, 2009 - Obama Issues Directive to Shut Down Guantánamo

President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.

May 20, 2009 - Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees

In a rare, bipartisan defeat for President Barack Obama, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open for the foreseeable future and forbid the transfer of any detainees to facilities in the United States. Democrats lined up with Republicans in the 90-6 vote that came on the heels of a similar move a week ago in the House, underscoring widespread apprehension among Obama's congressional allies over voters' strong feelings about bringing detainees to the U.S. from the prison in Cuba.

Dec. 8, 2010 - House bars moving Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to prohibit moving terrorism suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, a blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to prosecute them in criminal courts. The proposed legislation prevents moving such prisoners to the United States under any circumstances by prohibiting the administration from spending any money to do so.
And just for good measure:
Feb. 12, 2011 - House CR would broaden Guantanamo transfer limits

Limits on the Obama administration's ability to transfer prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the United States or to other countries would be broadened under the terms of the continuing resolution House leaders plan to bring to the floor next week. A defense authorization bill passed by Congress in December and signed into law by President Barack Obama with some grumbling last month bars use of defense funds to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S. and puts significant restrictions on transfers of prisoners to other countries, except in cases where a court has ordered a prisoner's release. The continuing resolution posted Friday on the House Rules Committee web page would apply those restrictions to all federal funds regardless of the source. It would also appear to extend the restriction indefinitely, remaining in effect until Congress legislates to the contrary.
Blame for the continuation of this fiasco lies with the legislators who continue to impede its closure, and, more broadly, with the American electorate, whose apparent fear of Supermax-housed terrorists over the degradation of justice enables congressional conservatives to vote this way in veto-proof majorities. What the White House has been pursuing lately with regard to the legal fate of the detainees is unattractive, but about the best option there is within the restrictions that have been drawn.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:14 AM on April 25, 2011 [95 favorites]


In fact, Obama is to be commended for his brave leadership in this matter.
posted by ryanrs at 2:21 AM on April 25, 2011


Bradley Manning is in jail for releasing to the world the hard evidence of America's crimes against humanity. Fuck Obama
posted by crayz at 2:27 AM on April 25, 2011 [25 favorites]


He's done good things and bad things. I'm ambivalent about the guy.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:31 AM on April 25, 2011


What does it say about us that some yawn over this?
posted by maxwelton at 2:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


> What does it say about us that some yawn over this?

Being horrified is draining.
posted by adamt at 2:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


And of course the Obama administration 'condemned' the release of the documents, saying "sure these exposed secrets make America look bad, but America has newer fresher secrets which we promise make us look better. No you don't get to see, just trust us"

Fuck Obama
posted by crayz at 2:44 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Washington Post: Guantanamo Bay; How the White House lost the fight to close it.
The cold, incompetent stupidity of the system.
The Bomb Makers watch and Wrong place at the wrong time.
posted by adamvasco at 2:59 AM on April 25, 2011


Nothing new except for the specifics. If you didn't know this was going on, you weren't paying attention.


Not everything wikileaks releases is news, especially to left-leaning people who're disinclined to trust the armed forces and security services at the best of times. But high-profile releases of solid evidence can only be a good thing. Even if you don't like to be reassured that your view is supported by all available evidence -especially in matters like this, where so little solid information is made available that views are necessarily based on lots of inference and supposition- it can help convince people who don't share those biases and are therefore going to need a much stronger evidence base before they'll be convinced.
posted by metaBugs at 3:06 AM on April 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


In fact, Obama is to be commended for his brave leadership in this matter.

Obama has worked hard to root out and punish whistleblowers, including Manning, despite coming into office promising government transparency and accountability.

His "leadership" skills have extended to being the worst/most aggressive President in US history, on this score.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:19 AM on April 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


That makes me wonder, on that score who might have done better (i.e. what former president or recent candidate would be more receptive or lenient to Manning or whistle blowers?)
posted by MrFTBN at 3:30 AM on April 25, 2011


Maybe Bush would have been more lenient. It's a faint possibility, as Obama has somehow managed to be worse than Bush, in that respect.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:36 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaBugs, I am glad more details have been released, for exactly the reasons you mention.

BP, you mistake my sarcasm for praise. Obama's unwillingness or inability to lead the debate on this and other issues has been quite a surprise to me. Pre-election Obama seemed really good at it.
posted by ryanrs at 3:37 AM on April 25, 2011


It's probably not a record to be proud of, anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:37 AM on April 25, 2011


it kept the world safe

I disagree. Before W, I felt safe traveling to (or near) the USA. Now I don't.
posted by DreamerFi at 3:39 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's nothing quite like the Guardian when it gets angry.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:43 AM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees; House bars moving Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil; House CR would broaden Guantanamo transfer limits --- If you'd just read the #tcot (top conservatives on twitter), you'd think Obama's "flip-flop" decision to keep Guantanamo open happened inside a vacuum.
posted by crunchland at 3:55 AM on April 25, 2011


In fact, Obama is to be commended for his brave leadership in this matter.
That's the biggest load of bullshit ever, IMO.

First of all I think we should be very clear about this "Obama couldn't close gitmo because congress cut funding" thing.

In most cases Congress needs to explicitly fund something, but in this case Congress had to explicitly de-fund the closure of Gitmo. As far as I know, that happened in 2009 but not in the final military spending bill in 2010. If anyone has links to the final bills for 2009 and 2010, that would be helpful.

Secondly, in 2009 and 2010 the Democrats had control of congress and the senate. So even if you say "Congress stopped Obama from closing Gitmo" you have to agree that the democratically controlled house and senate passed the bills.

Finally, it's not even true to say that the president has no control over funding bills. The president can use a veto to override legislation, and Obama chose not to do that. Beyond the Veto, Obama had a lot of sway over the Democratic house and senate. And in fact I believe (although I'm not sure) that the closure ban was not in the 2010 budget.

And beyond the veto, the president had (or should have had) more sway over the democratic house and senate.

The problem with linking to various news stories is that there are lots of different versions of the bills that go through committees and so on. You really need to link to the final bill that became law. If you can show the closure ban was in the final 2009 and 2010, then that would settle the issue.

---

Now, beyond that there's the issue of how hard he fought, but also what he was fighting for. He wanted to "Close Gitmo" but all he wanted to do was move the prisoners, with the same "legal" structure. In other words, keep the system but move it to the U.S. That isn't what most people who want to close gitmo are calling for. If you'll remember he actually went on TV and asked for new laws that would allow prisoners to be detained indefinitely, without any kind of trial. So he was not at all on the side of people who wanted to see the rule of law applied. And that the real problem here. Moving prisoners incarcerated without any trials from Cuba to Illinois isn't restoring civil rights at all.

So the fact that funding was cut (again I'm not sure it was cut from the final bill in 2010) is kind of a slight of hand that allows people to claim he tried and failed to restore civil rights and habeas corpus but failed somehow. That's not true at all.
posted by delmoi at 4:16 AM on April 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees; House bars moving Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil; House CR would broaden Guantanamo transfer limits --- If you'd just read the #tcot (top conservatives on twitter), you'd think Obama's "flip-flop" decision to keep Guantanamo open happened inside a vacuum.
Obama wanted to move the prisoners to the continental U.S. without having trials or rights for many of them. There wasn't going to be any change in the policy of keeping people in prison without rights or trials. So the fact he tried to "close gitmo" (in name only) is irrelevant here. It's more of a distraction then anything.

Obama said in a speech that he wanted a bill that would allow detainees to kept without trials. There was never any bill to do this, but despite that the Obama administration is keeping people in Guantanamo without without trials.

Also, nothing is stopping the actual release of prisoners, as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 4:19 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Blame for the continuation of this fiasco lies with the legislators who continue to impede its closure, and, more broadly, with the American electorate, whose apparent fear of Supermax-housed terrorists over the degradation of justice enables congressional conservatives to vote this way in veto-proof majorities. What the White House has been pursuing lately with regard to the legal fate of the detainees is unattractive, but about the best option there is within the restrictions that have been drawn.

You just don't get it. Obama is supposed to personally impale himself on this issue even if it means the end of his presidency.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


That makes me wonder, on that score who might have done better (i.e. what former president or recent candidate would be more receptive or lenient to Manning or whistle blowers?)
Well, Nixon never managed to do anything to Daniel Ellsberg. He was investigated and tried. But Manning is being detained without charges, and had been held in solitary confinement for much of that time.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Finally, it's not even true to say that the president has no control over funding bills. The president can use a veto to override legislation, and Obama chose not to do that. Beyond the Veto, Obama had a lot of sway over the Democratic house and senate. And in fact I believe (although I'm not sure) that the closure ban was not in the 2010 budget.

They were veto-proof majorities. Read the links.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:26 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, yes, I personally believe that Obama, as president and commander in chief of the U.S. military, has a personal moral obligation to do just that. I am absolutely serious.
posted by ryanrs at 4:29 AM on April 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Now, beyond that there's the issue of how hard he fought, but also what he was fighting for. He wanted to "Close Gitmo" but all he wanted to do was move the prisoners, with the same "legal" structure. In other words, keep the system but move it to the U.S.

Since when can you tell us what other people want? What mind-reading ray have you developed.

How about a cite, not to Glenn Greenwald's opinion?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:30 AM on April 25, 2011


They were veto-proof majorities. Read the links.
Then why not veto it and make them pass the bill without his signature. He still signed off on these bills man. To say he's not responsible is just false.

And second of all, where's the evidence that funding for the closure of Gitmo was in the final bill for the 2010 defense budget? I know it was in the 2009 bill.

Finally, as I said. Obama wanted to keep people in prison without a trial. No one cares where the prisoners are held. The problem is detention without trails. Obama explicitly argued for laws that would allow detention without any sort of trial.

So to say, that he's in any way on the right side here is just completely fucking false.
posted by delmoi at 4:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe years go slower in the White House. And after he issued that executive order he said "... NOT!"

There is too mug what the fuck here.
posted by chunking express at 4:36 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth, yes, I personally believe that Obama, as president and commander in chief of the U.S. military, has a personal moral obligation to do just that. I am absolutely serious.

So, Obama should end his presidency on this matter so that the assholes who did this can come back in armed with the full knowledge that torture is supported by the American people? What do you think the result is gonna be? More people getting tortured. All so he can say he tried?

This exactly what I mean when I say the American electorate is hooked on obtaining emotional satisfaction rather than getting wise policy goals. Two thirds want to see "brown people" tortured so they assuage anger. The other third wants to see the President destroy his ability to enact policy on the matter so that they are confirmed in their feeling of righteous indignation.

Both groups get the same thing. More torture. And its a result both groups want, because one side gets to continue to assuage that personal anger and the other side gets to continue tell themselves they are better than everyone else. The only ones who lose out are the actual victims.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [26 favorites]


You know how else they lose? Being in tortured in prison forever.
posted by chunking express at 4:43 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, Obama should end his presidency on this matter so that the assholes who did this can come back in armed with the full knowledge that torture is supported by the American people? What do you think the result is gonna be? More people getting tortured. All so he can say he tried?
First you say I have a mind reading ray because I remember what I actually said, but now you're telling us how people are going to vote?

People seem to mostly vote on the economy, this is a non issue. People are not going to vote for Sarah Palin over this bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 4:45 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth, as a lawyer you have to agree that "the legislature refused to fund the closing of the gulag" is a truly weak excuse for torture. It makes "just following orders" seem downright courageous.
posted by ryanrs at 4:46 AM on April 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


Yay, this fight again.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:46 AM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Obama certainly could have played the shutdown politics differently, but he didn't, and here we are. Im curious though. Manning handed over these documents over a year ago. WTF has taken so long for them to be published?
posted by humanfont at 4:46 AM on April 25, 2011


I sorta doubt there's people getting tortured in prison forever in Guantanamo, unless we accept unending hopeless purgatory as torture. Not that that makes it any better.
posted by floam at 4:46 AM on April 25, 2011


You know how else they lose? Being in tortured in prison forever.

Exactly. Think of it this way. He's the only person whose even had a shot at the presidency whose been this far in front of the country on this issue. Romney said he woulde double Guantanamo. Double what? The size? The torture?

Once the Obama-haters get Romney in there they can go back to having people tortured so they can feel better than the torturers. We've had a serious gap in that area, with Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher feeling it the worst.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:49 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's an interesting bit from the Guardian's page:
A number of British nationals and residents were held for years even though US authorities knew they were not Taliban or al-Qaida members. One Briton, Jamal al-Harith, was rendered to Guantánamo simply because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was thought to have knowledge of their interrogation techniques. The US military tried to hang on to another Briton, Binyam Mohamed, even after charges had been dropped and evidence emerged he had been tortured.
Fun times.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


WTF has taken so long for them to be published?

Assange seems to like to have things in the back pocket, and also generate as much publicity as possible. Even with individual releases like this one, it seems to be pretty common to spread it out over days or weeks. Right now only a portion of the files are available in the current leak, with more to come.
posted by floam at 4:51 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth: I don't mean to be rude here but didn't you say in another thread you didn't understand formal logic? How can you have a debate about ethics and morality with someone who doesn't even understand how logic works?

It's really a huge waste of time with you. You really don't seem to be able to understand this stuff and always bring up spurious topics.

But the basic crux of your argument always boils down to the claim that doing anything will cause republicans to win elections, and republicans winning elections is an absolute moral bad, while electing democrats (regardless of their positions) is an absolute moral good.

That's a completely moronic moral framework, why even bother arguing with someone who holds it?

It would probably better if people just ignored him and focused on the contents of the dump.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


First you say I have a mind reading ray because I remember what I actually said, but now you're telling us how people are going to vote?

People seem to mostly vote on the economy, this is a non issue. People are not going to vote for Sarah Palin over this bullshit.


Really? Have you checked the polling lately? You don't think this will be an effective issue? You don't think this will depress the Dem far left, even though he did try? When a veto-proof majority votes something and almost every legislature and even liberal NYC changes their mind and says no, you think they're checking the polls?

Even if there was a risk it wouldn't be worth it.

Acknowledge the simple fact that up to this point, Barack H. Obama becoming president is the best thing that has happened to these detainees.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2011


I can kind of forgive Assange and Wikileaks for sitting on these stories a little. Imagine if they released all of the Afghan and Iraq war logs plus this and whatever else they might have on the same day. They wouldn't have gotten the proper coverage. Also, some part of it is the fact that they're taking time to redact sensitive information.
posted by MrFTBN at 4:57 AM on April 25, 2011


Really? Have you checked the polling lately? You don't think this will be an effective issue?

I think, politically, it's a non-issue either way. Also see my other comment
posted by delmoi at 4:59 AM on April 25, 2011


That's a completely moronic moral framework, why even bother arguing with someone who holds it?

Seriously? The difference between you and me is that I am actual fighting for the best possible policy. You are fighting for feelings. The result of what you advocate would be the worst possible outcome for the detainees.

Just explain to me how helping the GOP on this issue by forcing an issue he cannot win because he doesn't have the votes is helping the detainees.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:59 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth, as a lawyer you have to agree that "the legislature refused to fund the closing of the gulag" is a truly weak excuse for torture. It makes "just following orders" seem downright courageous.

This tired old canard is exactly what I'm talking about. You want Obama to torture to the point where you conflate what Bush did with what his treatment of the detainees. Glenn Greenwald tried and came up with 'the UN says inmates should be allowed to starve themselves to death and we make them eat.'

So sad.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:04 AM on April 25, 2011


floam if you read the first sentence of the first link you will see this: Articles based on a huge trove of secret documents leaked to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times by another source. The second last link of the more inside touches on this issue as does the Nation link.
posted by adamvasco at 5:06 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth: I think you would be a pretty bad poker player. You can't win every had you get, but with a solid strategy you win more then you lose. If you only play the best hands possible, the opponent players will pick up on that and you won't win either.

The goal, politically, isn't the immediate release of the prisoners but rather the eventual repudiation of indefinite detention. You want to ensure that civil liberties are a core part of the democratic platform, by preventing democrats who oppose them from getting elected.

Ultimately there's no particular for the democrats to support gay rights, abortion, the environment or whatever issues matter to sub categories of democratic voters.

Beyond that, you're really just flailing about and not making much sense. It's force feeding that's considered torture, not allowing prisoners to engage in hunger strikes.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guardian - Guantánamo files: all 779 detainees - interactive database.
posted by adamvasco at 5:11 AM on April 25, 2011


Since he went on fucking TV and told people what he wanted you fucking Amnesiac.

This is not Reddit, nor Digg, let's keep it civil, please.
posted by GilloD at 5:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Guardian - Guantánamo files: all 779 detainees - interactive database.

Stupid question, but I seem to be failing at using this web page — how the heck do I get to the actual documents/PDFs through this, what do I click? All I can see is a little summary? Hope it's not my adblock or something...
posted by floam at 5:15 AM on April 25, 2011


It's an interactive flash thing. Do you have flash block?
posted by MrFTBN at 5:17 AM on April 25, 2011


My Flash seems to works fine. I click on a face, and all that happens is a couple sentences appear for "circumstances of capture" and "reason for transfer". It's not at all obvious how I go on to the document.
posted by floam at 5:19 AM on April 25, 2011


And yeah, I know I can view documents at wikileaks.ch. But most of these are yet to be published. The New York Times links to documents (and some are of higher quality than Wikileaks), but they seem to often have more censoring and it's also very incomplete. I'm just trying to find the best, most complete index of these documents.
posted by floam at 5:23 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth: I think you would be a pretty bad poker player. You can't win every had you get, but with a solid strategy you win more then you lose. If you only play the best hands possible, the opponent players will pick up on that and you won't win either.

Except this isn't poker. Its politics. And it isn't a game. There's 752 people whose conditions of imprisonment are at stake, nay their lives.

And for someone who thinks it is, why would you continue to play a bad hand? He doesn't have the votes. He doesn't have a hand to play, because, unfortunately, the voting public is squarely behind his opponents on this issue.

The goal, politically, isn't the immediate release of the prisoners but rather the eventual repudiation of indefinite detention. You want to ensure that civil liberties are a core part of the democratic platform, by preventing democrats who oppose them from getting elected.

What about the 752? Since the President is supposed to sacrafice himself on this altar, who is gonna look out for them? Glenn Greenwald gonna start ordering President Romney around. For someone who 'cares' about the detainees, you sure have no concern for them or anyone captured under President Romney.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:29 AM on April 25, 2011


The goal, politically, isn't the immediate release of the prisoners but rather the eventual repudiation of indefinite detention.

It's not? I would like to see pragmatic goals of either prosecuting or releasing nearly everyone at Gitmo and rectifying the situation as best we can. I could give two shits about eventual repudiation, it's meaningless. See Japanese-American internment camps.
posted by floam at 5:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if what I want isn't possible, I want to see it go as well as it possibly can for us with badness as mitigated as much as practicable.
posted by floam at 5:38 AM on April 25, 2011


Except this isn't poker. Its politics. And it isn't a game. There's 752 people whose conditions of imprisonment are at stake, nay their lives.

And for someone who thinks it is, why would you continue to play a bad hand? He doesn't have the votes. He doesn't have a hand to play, because, unfortunately, the voting public is squarely behind his opponents on this issue.
This is speculative. Anyway, you made your point and you aren't saying anything new here.
posted by delmoi at 5:41 AM on April 25, 2011


What's speculative about it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on April 25, 2011


This is speculative. Anyway, you made your point and you aren't saying anything new here.

It is the President's job to speculate on what the outcome of his potential actions will be. And the outcome will be a lot of his opponents and news people saying he let terrorists get away without punishment. Let's be clear, we are talking about letting Khalid Shiek Mohammed get away. The guy who planned 9/11. You think letting him walk wouldn't result in Obama losing way more votes than he gained and putting in a President way more likely to violate civil liberties?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:04 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth: I don't mean to be rude here but didn't you say in another thread you didn't understand formal logic?

I don't mean to be rude here, so I should probably not finish this sentence.

Here's something that Ironmouth should consider, aside from being a bad poker player, having no ability to argue ethics, or whatever other things we can say to devalue his ability to meaningfully contribute to the discussion.

"The Republicans would be worse" may be true, but it's not a defense. I think there are a fair number of people on the left that are so dissatisfied with Obama's performance in this arena that they are afraid that Obama boosters are effectively sweeping the problems he has failed to solve under the rug. If defenders say "Obama did what he could" and leave it at that, then it seems as though they are leaving a big problem unsolved, and that is of course unsatisfactory. The left likely feels a need for a path to a solution, which is quite distinct from merely trying to keep things from getting worse (e.g. "Don't elect Republicans, which in FPTP means 'elect Democrats').

Now, it may be that the left would be well-served to attempt to influence the Democratic primaries so that there are actual leftist Democratic candidates on the ballot. But if it were the case that the voting public is not aligned with the left on this issue, what can the left do? This is not a rhetorical question- generating alternatives is one way the discussion can move forward.
posted by Jpfed at 6:06 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if it were the case that the voting public is not aligned with the left on this issue, what can the left do? This is not a rhetorical question- generating alternatives is one way the discussion can move forward.

Finally! An excellent question!

What the left can do is simple. Send millions of letters to their congress person advocating for a vote to put those prisoners on US soil. Because that's what changes this game. Not attacking the one guy who tried to do anything. You're reinforcing the idea that "I better not bring up the detainees."

More importantly, if you don't want this to happen, don't vote for Ralph Nader.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:21 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


One final point:

Ever notice something? The ACLU does not give out bumper stickers that say "Free KSM!"

Why is that? Why aren't they out on the cable nets 24/7 telling Fox these detainees have got to be released? For that matter, why isn't Glenn Greenwald doing this? If you think Fox News wouldn't pay good money for that, you're insane.

You know why? Because they aren't dumb.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 AM on April 25, 2011


[Hey, Ironmouth and everybody arguing with Ironmouth! Maybe consider whether there is something sufficiently specifically new and unique about this particular branch of argument that makes it really necessary for you few folks to once again dominate a thread to the point where it's as much or more about you snapping at each other than it is about anyone else having any room to participate in the conversation! My chipper tone belies my annoyance at having to say this sort of thing for the nth time lately! Thanks!]
posted by cortex at 6:26 AM on April 25, 2011 [34 favorites]


Pardon my ignorance, but can anyone explain to me why, if this guy was "the mastermind of the 11 September 2001 attacks", there was/is such a focus on Bin Laden?
posted by jet_manifesto at 6:38 AM on April 25, 2011


[Hey, Ironmouth and everybody arguing with Ironmouth! Maybe consider whether there is something sufficiently specifically new and unique about this particular branch of argument that makes it really necessary for you few folks to once again dominate a thread to the point where it's as much or more about you snapping at each other than it is about anyone else having any room to participate in the conversation! My chipper tone belies my annoyance at having to say this sort of thing for the nth time lately! Thanks!]

Somebody upthread brought all of this out by putting out a whole lotta links saying that Obama had tried and was shot down by Congress.

In reality, this is a great thread for this, as in the last week, new information about this issue came out, not just in the NYT and Guardian, but in the Washington Post, as well. The new material goes into greater depth showing why the President failed to achieve his goal.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:45 AM on April 25, 2011


Pardon my ignorance, but can anyone explain to me why, if this guy was "the mastermind of the 11 September 2001 attacks", there was/is such a focus on Bin Laden?

I haven't read enough about this, but I think the idea is that KSM was the "mastermind" in sort of a Woz sense, while Bin Laden was more like the Steve Jobs. The technical guys never seem to be justly rewarded.
posted by floam at 6:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pardon my ignorance, but can anyone explain to me why, if this guy was "the mastermind of the 11 September 2001 attacks", there was/is such a focus on Bin Laden?

Same reason you take out any figurehead which controls the message a la Saddam, King, Kennedy etc...
posted by AndrewKemendo at 6:47 AM on April 25, 2011


Pardon my ignorance, but can anyone explain to me why, if this guy was "the mastermind of the 11 September 2001 attacks", there was/is such a focus on Bin Laden?

Same reason you take out any figurehead which controls the message a la Saddam, King, Kennedy etc...


Bin Laden was also the guy that got them money and got the Government of Afghanistan to allow a base, in return for training and other 'services.' Like the assasination of Massoud.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


After a certain point, the defense maneuvers Obama selects to ensure his future potential to do the things we would like him to do make him more or less equivalent to having a Republican in the White House, anyway.

He can't do anything this term, he'll have to save it for next term.

Next term, he'll have to leave a good legacy so the next Democratic candidate has a shot at election.

Repeat with the next maybe Democratic president.

I'm thinking the new theme song for the Democratic Party should be "Hazy Shade of Winter." "Time, time, time ... see what’s become of me / while I looked around for my possibilities"
posted by adipocere at 7:04 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of the biggest and most explosive clashes at Guantánamo Bay has been fought not between guards and prisoners but between US interrogators. Time and time again CITF (Criminal Investigative Task Force) is at odds with JTF GTMO (Joint Task Force Guantánamo ) but forced to defer.
posted by adamvasco at 7:07 AM on April 25, 2011


Just a clarification: the Times article notes that there are only 172 people still in Guantanamo, not 752 or 759 or however many have passed through.
posted by shivohum at 7:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


After a certain point, the defense maneuvers Obama selects to ensure his future potential to do the things we would like him to do make him more or less equivalent to having a Republican in the White House, anyway.

It seems to me you could only come to this conclusion if the only US and executive branch issues you concerned yourself with were the ones you judge he'd have handled no differently than the Republicans.
posted by floam at 7:08 AM on April 25, 2011


Fuck Obama

Tis better to point out how Obama, the Constitutional Law schooled-dude, said of Private Manning "He is guilty".

The last President of the US of A who made a statement of guilt of a very public suspect before a trial was Nixon about Charles Mason. And Nixon retracted his statement.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


More importantly, if you don't want this to happen, don't vote for Ralph Nader.

Gee, what about running candidates worth voting FOR VS selecting because you think the other guy sucks more?

(And I look forward to Ironmouths Metatalk where he discusses the access to a time machine that allows him to make such a statement due to observation of a different timeline where "voting for Ralph Nader" didn't happen.)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:19 AM on April 25, 2011


This does make me wonder what else exactly Manning handed over to WL. These leaks are good specifically because they remove the shadow of doubt (in all but the most feverish neo-cons) that the United States has been running (and running poorly) a hellish military prison to detain mostly innocent people. At high cost to the tax-payer too, if you want to put it into their language.

I wish I had the courage or the means to donate to WL.
posted by codacorolla at 7:21 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


A third party sounds refreshing, but chances are the lords of multi-party Europe would behave equally monstrously given the opportunity.
posted by klue at 7:30 AM on April 25, 2011


why the President failed to achieve his goal.

“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”

As I understand the system, all it takes is some paperwork at the executive level to make that goal happen.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:34 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


In a way, I'm glad this is coming out again, because it needs to be exposed over and over, but as many have pointed out, it's not news. The original Seton Hall report came out five years ago, pointing out age issues, problems with bounty hunters, and how a majority of those held had no tangible connection to Al Qaida.

Seton Hall Guantanamo files.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A third party sounds refreshing, but chances are the lords of multi-party Europe would behave equally monstrously given the opportunity.

Can you explain what you mean by this?
posted by modernnomad at 7:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gee, what about running candidates worth voting FOR VS selecting because you think the other guy sucks more?

There are probably 225 million voters. They all have an opinion on what they want. Most of them don't agree with us.

I'd love it if we were more than 19% of the self-identified voters. But I blame myself and my fellows rather than Obama for that. In the end it is our task to convince these people, nobody else's.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:41 AM on April 25, 2011


A third party sounds refreshing, but chances are the lords of multi-party Europe would behave equally monstrously given the opportunity.

Can you explain what you mean by this?


See France, Germany, Britain 1800-present.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:43 AM on April 25, 2011


why the President failed to achieve his goal.

“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”

As I understand the system, all it takes is some paperwork at the executive level to make that goal happen.


We are pulling out of Iraq as fast as is possible and according to promised timetable.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:44 AM on April 25, 2011


To my mind, the Obama administration has not been able to do as much as I would like to close Guantanamo. The political realities of an anti-terrorism-crazed populace and legislature do not allow for much rationality. The present situation makes it difficult to prosecute the guilty and, more importantly, absolve the innocent.

The same sorry story of "political realities" goes for taxation, health care, and general economic policy.

What disturbs me most is that the Obama administration is willing to trade the civil liberties of an heroic individual--Bradley Manning--to protect the craven oligarchs who seek to avoid exposure for their cynical and selfish exploitation of the economic system. As Charles Ferguson's Inside Job makes clear, the engineers of the economic crisis (i.e. those who looted the banking industry and funneled taxpayer dollars to cover up the mess) have been given renewed control over the financial system of the United States.

The Obama administration can only stand as tall as the interests who back it and, let's be honest, these interests are not primarily well-intentioned liberals. The real backers of the current administration are the financiers who conspired to cheat their shareholders and who covered their asses by looting our public coffers.

Why aren't every last one of these people in jail and why is Bradley Manning standing in their place?

The sad reality is that we all know why.
posted by mistersquid at 7:51 AM on April 25, 2011


Gee, what about running candidates worth voting FOR VS selecting because you think the other guy sucks more?

If you've got a progressive Democratic Presidential candidate that can win the election, I'm all ears.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gee, what about running candidates worth voting FOR VS selecting because you think the other guy sucks more?

Yeah, and if a frog had wings it wouldn't bump its ass when it jumped.

Unfortunately, there needs to be a practical viewpoint too. We don't have viable 3rd parties. As much as liberals are dissatisfied with Obama, how much more upset would we be with McCain?

I know that speculating on alternate histories is a bit foolish, but imagine if Gore were president for the first part of the 2000's. I think some important things would be different.

For years Republicans were the envy of Democrats because they lined up and supported each other and got shit done. There was probably a wide disagreement on policy issues within the party, but in general they pushed policy and law more right than left.

Now they have the teaparty issue. Democrats have the chance to move the agenda slightly more left for the next couple of cycles because the far right is pushing the primaries to candidates that are less electable in the general elections.

Shit yeah, I have been disappointed in Obama, and I'd vote Kucinich if I thought he had a chance, but I would rather move generally left and be dissatisfied then see what happens if Romney or Palin get elected.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you explain what you mean by this?

That as long as money decides who gets elected (by selecting those who get to realistically run for office), you can have as many political parties you'd like and still not end up with a pro-people government.
posted by klue at 7:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now they have the teaparty issue. Democrats have the chance to move the agenda slightly more left for the next couple of cycles because the far right is pushing the primaries to candidates that are less electable in the general elections.

Is that lack of electability why there are now 83 former tea party candidates occupying seats in the House that were once held by less wackadoodle incumbents?
posted by blucevalo at 7:57 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bradley Manning is in jail for releasing to the world the hard evidence of America's crimes against humanity. Fuck Obama

I know I'm alone on this, especially amongst liberals (of which I count myself one), but Manning's detention makes sense to me. Releasing classified information violates any number of obligations he made as a soldier. I don't think he's a traitor. I think what he did was courageous and principled, and he's a braver man than I, but acting like it shouldn't have consequences is naive. And I can hardly blame Obama for continuing his detention. Unlike many of the Gitmo detainees, he is not a victim of circumstances. He made choices.
posted by dry white toast at 7:59 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those exact people are now harming the republican's from the inside. Not too mention the fact the senate is still democratic due to republican losses because of tea party candidates.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:59 AM on April 25, 2011


I think the Senate is still Democratic because of longer, staggered terms. They simply haven't had enough time to take it yet.
posted by floam at 8:01 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth, I think the issue is that there is no effective or moral difference between Obama abandoning core values of our democracy for votes and some random Republican doing the same thing.

I wanted a leader, not a politician. Leaders don't weigh in after they read the polls and determine what they need to say in order to keep their titles. They put themselves (and their careers) on the line because they are supposed to represent more than the status quo of compromising values for power.

We've got enough cowards trading principles for votes. I want leaders.
posted by notion at 8:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


acting like it shouldn't have consequences is naive. And I can hardly blame Obama for continuing his detention.

But should the consequences be, as some reports have it, torture?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:02 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the Senate is still Democratic because of longer, staggered terms.

Sure, this is part of the reason, but Nevada and California helped too.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2011


No, but life in prison or execution is probably reasonable, given what he did. (I am glad he did it, though.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:06 AM on April 25, 2011


If you've got a progressive Democratic

You have two words here, "progressive" and "democratic".

Progressive has one set of meanings.

Lets say by Democratic you mean Democratic party and its structure/what it "stands" for.

Would this be the same Democratic party that Richard Milhouse Nixon would be "left of"?

Exactly how does "progressive" fit inside "Democrat"? Or is this a case of:
1) The other party is the only other choice.
2) "progressive" fits in Republican even worse and therefore HAS to fit in "Democrat".

posted by rough ashlar at 8:08 AM on April 25, 2011


No, but life in prison or execution is probably reasonable, given what he did.

Then lets get on with the speedy trial part of the "rule of law" eh?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I think time hurts the crazies. Remember how Ross Perot was going to be a legit candidate in 96?

Shit I just watched Cumo basically sit for election while Palidino caught fire and flamed out in a 3 month time period.

Call me optimistic ( I will catch shit for that), but I think that the longer the tea party members are around, the less support they will get from the middle. I think they will still pull the hard core righties, but you can already see how in more moderate states they ended up segmenting the vote. I believe this trend will continue in the next cycle.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2011


Whether or not the current Lords of Europe — ... what genre are they in? prog rock? Scandinavian metal? — would ever commit the same monstrosities as we're committing is utterly irrelevant. The important thing is that right now, a country that claims to be a beacon of enlightenment and democracy to the world is running a camp that tortures and kills based on no legal principle whatsoever, unless you count "Hier ist kein Warum" as a legal principle. (and I'm standing by that, Godwin be damned). And right now the guys who are actively keeping this running are the same guys who, when they won in a landslide in 2008, I and a bunch of other Americans were so excited about that we literally danced in the streets.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ironmouth, I think the issue is that there is no effective or moral difference between Obama abandoning core values of our democracy for votes and some random Republican doing the same thing.

Romney wants to "double Guantanamo." His own words. There are no "random Republicans" here. Just actual ones. You know, the kind that invade Iraq and torture detainees. Obama does not do those things.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2011


Then lets get on with the speedy trial part of the "rule of law" eh?

Agreed. Not sure why it's taking so long.
posted by ryanrs at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2011


And right now the guys who are actively keeping this running are the same guys who, when they won in a landslide in 2008

Here is the core of the problem. 52 percent with only 1 other candidate in the race is no landslide. You realize how big FDR's win was? Get on Wikipedia. 57% of the vote. 75% of the house and 66% of the Senate. The country is evenly divided. You and I see starkly different political landscapes. If he had capital to burn, hell yes, fight harder on this. But he's always had very narrow majorities, especially with the filibuster rules. If he even had 61 senators, a huge difference.

But he hasn't had the capital to burn. He burned it on healthcare, on internal priorities. Like he should have.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 AM on April 25, 2011


But should the consequences be, as some reports have it, torture?

So being kept in extreme isolation, which is what has been reported, amounts to torture now? One of the mistakes I believe progressives are making in this debate (which is a good one to have), is to define torture so broadly that it loses any meaning. If you want to stop your government from torturing people, expose torture for the cruelty it really is, rather than describing more and more things as cruel.

Not sure why it's taking so long.

Given the pace at which the legal system moves now, these are early days.
posted by dry white toast at 8:22 AM on April 25, 2011


Ha, they'll never think to look for me in this thread.
posted by Higgs_Boson at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [47 favorites]


Ha, they'll never think to look for me in this thread.

Found you! Nobel awaits.
posted by namasaya at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2011


There seems to be a vast discrepancy between perceived powers of the Presidency and the actual checks and balances in the system. The political system in the United States moves very very slowly by design, except in rare cases where there is total consensus. Right now there is no political consensus even among the Presidents own party. Until one party gets to a point of agreement nothing moves ahead, and even when one party is agreed and united things only move very very slowly.
posted by humanfont at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This does make me wonder what else exactly Manning handed over to WL. These leaks are good specifically because they remove the shadow of doubt (in all but the most feverish neo-cons) that the United States has been running (and running poorly) a hellish military prison to detain mostly innocent people. At high cost to the tax-payer too, if you want to put it into their language.
I think this is it. A lot of people have been speculating that they put Manning in these conditions because they wanted him to turn on Assange, show that Assange helped him or something like that.
A third party sounds refreshing, but chances are the lords of multi-party Europe would behave equally monstrously given the opportunity.
While it's important to point out there are problems with EU governance (such as too much reliance on Austerity measures in the wake of the recent financial problems), they aren't pulling anything like this.
Romney wants to "double Guantanamo." His own words. There are no "random Republicans" here. Just actual ones. You know, the kind that invade Iraq and torture detainees. Obama does not do those things.
Again, the question is not the location but rather the fact that people are being held without trial. Bradly Manning was held in solitary confinement for months which some people consider torture.

I don't really feel that Mitt Romney would be much worse then Obama on the issue of civil liberties.

Obama is close enough to the republican position that the differences aren't that important. He's rather far away from his apparent positions during the campaign.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2011


Agreed. Not sure why it's taking so long.

When you can indefinitely detain people without consequence, why bother going through the hassle and risk of actually going to trial?
posted by dflemingecon at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Romney wants to "double Guantanamo." His own words. There are no "random Republicans" here. Just actual ones. You know, the kind that invade Iraq and torture detainees. Obama does not do those things..
President Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start new military commission trials for detainees there...

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the order vindicated Obama's predecessor. "I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order," he said in a statement. "The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities."
Romney and Obama just have different rhetoric for their respective hardliners.
posted by notion at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


There seems to be a vast discrepancy between perceived powers of the Presidency and the actual checks and balances in the system. The political system in the United States moves very very slowly by design, except in rare cases where there is total consensus.
More like a vast discrepancy between the amount of power supporters claim the president has when he does something they like vs. the amount of power his supporters claim he has when he does something they don't. I mean, both the ban on closing Gitmo and HCR were done in congress. If Obama deserves "credit" for one then obviously he deserves as much "credit" for the other.

If Obama is going on TV claiming credit for budget deals with the republicans, how come he had zero control over the military budget?

The "Obama had no control, it was all done by congress" thing totally ignores how every other issues is covered in the media, and talked about by politicians and even the president himself.
posted by delmoi at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really, really just can't wait for those Bank of America leaks. It makes me wonder if they exist, or if it was just a bluff by the WL team.
posted by codacorolla at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So being kept in extreme isolation, which is what has been reported, amounts to torture now?

Social isolation has been shown to be psychologically damaging, thanks for asking.

But perhaps you've not bothered to read Bradley Manning has been forced to sleep naked in his cell, according to his lawyers. And the naked thing is outta the CIA "enhanced integration" manual.

But perhaps you find Lawyers to be untrustworthy, miserable lying bastards and therefore should not be listened to, let alone found credible and therefore disreguard the naked claims.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:34 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Again, the question is not the location but rather the fact that people are being held without trial.

An entire new set of legal protections come into play on US soil. It isn't a coincidence that he chose this as step one. The constitution goes here. It has very limited applicability off of US soil.

It changes them into criminals, not soldiers on the psychological side too.

People have to realize that Bush fucked him on this by torturing people we could have cases against.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2011


As I see it you (Ironmouth) are arguing that America is a howling beast, as bad as or worse than the nightmarish states of the 20th century, and if the people of America got what they wanted they would unleash unrestrained hell upon the world. And so instead the only option we have left is to hope that they elect people who will give them enough slightly restrained hell to sate their lust for "Hier ist kein Warum." I hope you're wrong, in a way, though what I think — that given a choice between a little bit of hell and the full serving, they'll vote for the full serving — is in many ways worse.

The thing, though, that makes me think that we, everyday American citizens, are not in fact beasts is that when, in 2008, we were presented with something that seemed instead to be a choice between hell and no hell, we voted for no hell and then danced in the streets.

I suspect that the "political capital" metaphor, as used in contemporary Democratic party rhetoric, is simply wrong — that the way an effective leader builds their position to do good things is through taking strong moral stances and aggressively defending those stances through their actions and words, rather than through carefully husbanding a dwindling stockpile of their "capital" to do good.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


but rather the fact that people are being held without trial.

The seeming lack of a ticking speedy trial clock, the reported hard access to legal council, the claims of forms of torture and now "He broke the law" statement without having gone through ANY public trial should be far more troubling than a detention situation.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:38 AM on April 25, 2011


But perhaps you've not bothered to read Bradley Manning has been forced to sleep naked in his cell, according to his lawyers. And the naked thing is outta the CIA "enhanced integration" manual.

Actually, this is not true. According to his lawyer's blog he was forced to wear a suicide watch smock. The kid made dumbass comments about killing himself. The prison commander panicked and feared that his ass would be on the line and overrode the doctors, who, after examination, said he was fine. Manning's lawyers got all of this from a tip. I have no reason to believe the man's own attorneys.

I also agree that if Manning was the source of the leak, he should be prosecuted.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:40 AM on April 25, 2011


I mean, both the ban on closing Gitmo and HCR were done in congress. If Obama deserves "credit" for one then obviously he deserves as much "credit" for the other.

Sure. The president has finite political capital to spend lobbying congress (and the public). Obama chose to spend his on HCR and not Gitmo. Presumably he did this based on the probability of success among other considerations.

So yes, Obama does get to take credit/flak for pushing one vs the other but the president is not the sole (or even largest IMO) pusher of Congressional actions.

I suspect that the "political capital" metaphor, as used in contemporary Democratic party rhetoric, is simply wrong — that the way an effective leader builds their position to do good things is through taking strong moral stances and aggressively defending those stances through their actions and words, rather than through carefully husbanding a dwindling stockpile of their "capital" to do good.

That's possible, we could be thoroughly wrong. Are there any examples of politicians who took 'unpopular' positions and were able to leverage that into further victories?
posted by Skorgu at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2011


As I see it you (Ironmouth) are arguing that America is a howling beast, as bad as or worse than the nightmarish states of the 20th century, and if the people of America got what they wanted they would unleash unrestrained hell upon the world. And so instead the only option we have left is to hope that they elect people who will give them enough slightly restrained hell to sate their lust for "Hier ist kein Warum." I hope you're wrong, in a way, though what I think — that given a choice between a little bit of hell and the full serving, they'll vote for the full serving — is in many ways worse.

Please don't straw man and godwin me. Answer my arguments if you feel like it, but creating some fictional giant for yourself to topple, while my own words are up on this page is difficult. You'll note that I argue that the premises of those who disagree with me are wrong, not make up premises which they never stated. On the whole, those disagreeing with me have done the same.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2011


As I see it you (Ironmouth) are arguing that America is a howling beast,

There used to be a poster - Primus Paris - who would argue that Bush was right, no matter what.

Ironmouth is doing the same thing, but for Obama.

I suspect that the "political capital" metaphor, is simply wrong

As someone was claiming in the 2000 cycle - "I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply. Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot."

How'd that 'political capital' argument work out then? 'Bout the same as it'll work now as its a BS argument.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:46 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There used to be a poster - Primus Paris - who would argue that Bush was right, no matter what.

Ironmouth is doing the same thing, but for Obama.


Check the Libya threads.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:49 AM on April 25, 2011


Please don't straw man and godwin me. Answer my arguments if you feel like it, but creating some fictional giant for yourself to topple, while my own words are up on this page is difficult. You'll note that I argue that the premises of those who disagree with me are wrong, not make up premises which they never stated. On the whole, those disagreeing with me have done the same.
Kind of a surprising response, since I think it summed up your 'philosophy' pretty well, in which any electoral gains by the republicans are tantamount to some kind of apocalypse.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on April 25, 2011


As someone was claiming in the 2000 cycle - "I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply. Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot."

How'd that 'political capital' argument work out then? 'Bout the same as it'll work now as its a BS argument.


Uh, 'cept he's talking about the political capital with foreign countries, not with the American public.

The president has a finite amount of power, soft and hard. This is an inarguable fact.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, this is not true.

A statement of belief. Ok. Lets see how that is supported.

According to his lawyer's blog he was forced to wear a suicide watch smock.

So the lawyers says not naked. Ok.

I have no reason to believe the man's own attorneys.

But the attorneys, who are the source of the smock comment used to generate "this is not true" are not to be believed.

In the language of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. - How ya gonna turn square corners on that one?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Uses of Guantánamo
posted by homunculus at 8:55 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kind of a surprising response, since I think it summed up your 'philosophy' pretty well, in which any electoral gains by the republicans are tantamount to some kind of apocalypse.

How'd it work out last time they had the presidency? Seems that the very problem you are complaining about occured no? Remember that guy Bush? The one who created this problem in the first place?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2011


How'd it work out last time they had the presidency? Seems that the very problem you are complaining about occured no? Remember that guy Bush? The one who created this problem in the first place?

And the problem remains unresolved. Doesn't matter who created it, the question is who will stop it.
posted by delmoi at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the attorneys, who are the source of the smock comment used to generate "this is not true" are not to be believed.

Bradley's own attorneys are not to be believed? Really? You have a better source than the people who are daily updated on their client's condition?

Barack?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2011


suicide watch smock

Let's just call a straightjacket a straightjacket, shall we?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't really feel that Mitt Romney would be much worse then Obama on the issue of civil liberties.

It depends on what civil liberties are important to you, I suppose. And as for what "much worse" means, I guess everyone has a different margin of what they would be willing to accept as a teensy-weensy bit worse or "much" worse.

Whether Romney (assuming that Romney is the nominee, which at this point is a fool's wager) is better than Obama on civil liberties is not the only issue. The issue is also whether Romney combined with a Republican Senate and House -- because if a GOP president is elected, we will almost certainly get a Republican Congress -- would be "much worse" than Obama and the current Congress. I would argue that it could be and would be much worse.

In any event, what does the argument that one side is not any better or worse than the other prove other than that the only winning strategy is complete apathy?
posted by blucevalo at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


How'd it work out last time they had the presidency? Seems that the very problem you are complaining about occured no? Remember that guy Bush? The one who created this problem in the first place?

And the problem remains unresolved. Doesn't matter who created it, the question is who will stop it.


Really? It doesn't matter who started the problem? So there's no increased chance of this happening under Romney, who publically stated that he would 'double Guantanamo' and that merely investigating what happened to be 'the lowest form of partisanship?' Really? How is it possible that Romney isn't signalling he will do worse?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on April 25, 2011


Certainly political power is finite, until we're talking about actual totalitarian states, but I am not remotely convinced that exercising political power diminishes it. It seems to me that one of the stories of the Bush administration was that of how, over the course of eight years, he and Cheney amassed power by using power.

The leadership (by which I mean both the Obama administration and the Democratic leaders in Congress) continually pleads weakness to stop the state from doing things that any civilized person can see are transparently wrong.1 And this is supposed to make people like them more? Of course in 2012 I will personally be following my standard voting algorithm ("if R in race, then D, else G"), but I don't think "we're too weak to stop doing bad things, therefore vote for us" will win as much support as they think it will.

1: That's not true: it's actually worse. They don't continually plead weakness, they alternate back and forth between claiming to be too weak to stop the state from doing uncivilized acts and claiming to actually support those acts.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:04 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am a citizen of a country that regularly practices torture, imprisons people for no reason and without charge, and justifies the removal of my civil liberties in the name of keeping me safe from people mad at my country for the wars my country wages around the world (and has for decades). Gotta say, I'm not a big fan right now.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Remember that guy Bush? The one who created this problem in the first place?

Funny that. Bush couldn't do bupkis squat without underlings who went along with the system/plan. Same applies for Pres. O.

To look "bigger" on this thread and to the title The cold, incompetent stupidity of the system a different view is that of Mrs. Fitts. The government and money system directly benefits from being a war/drug economy and 'doing bad things' to others. I couldn't find a text versions of the podcasts that lay this out, but this one is close and mentions the big red button
posted by rough ashlar at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2011



All the political rhetoric aside, this situation has always made me feel deeply ashamed of my country.
posted by trixare4kids at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


(And for whatever it's worth, Ironmouth, I'm not Godwinning you, I'm Godwinning me. I do in fact think that the logic of Guantanamo is the same as the logic of earlier, larger camps, and am terrified that we as a nation are enacting that logic.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2011


...over the course of eight years, he and Cheney amassed power by using power.

Just one comment: this is not exactly what happened, IMO.

Much of the Washington political establishment--from the think-tanks that authored foreign policy plans calling for a radically increased US military presence around the world--to the congressional committees that read these think-tank products and took them seriously, and the lobbyists that in turn drafted the legislation that congress adopted in response--they were all behind the administration's Middle East agenda from the moment 9-11 became a convenient political rationale for looking tough on national defense.

The PNAC committee literally suggested that a 9-11 style event would be a great thing for American foreign policy because it would provide the much-needed political and social justifications for building the now-unwieldy and monstrous homeland security apparatus and mobile military presence that our already existing interests in the region demanded.

Bush and Cheney surfed on a political wave, with the full support of the Washington establishment (much of which remains intact) and a significant proportion of the electorate. They didn't grant themselves new powers, they abused and overused existing ones and were allowed to do so with impunity by a compliant congress, judiciary and a media watchdog too busy being jingoistic and reflecting on the deep national trauma inflicted by 9-11 too bother with little matters like crimes of war and torture--to say nothing of an American public that often spoke casually about nuking the entire Middle East into a glass parking lot.

It is absolutely not the case that Bush and Cheney empowered themselves. That is the problem in this analysis.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:23 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth raises a good point about political capital. He only has so much, and with a pending election perhaps this is an issue that he would rather deal with if/when he is reelected.
It is a disappointment but a reality whether we like it or not.
If he has a second term, he has nothing to lose as he will not be running for any additional offices.
I suspect that he will be considerably more liberal in a second term as well as satisfy his base.
posted by handbanana at 9:23 AM on April 25, 2011


The constitution goes here. It has very limited applicability off of US soil.

Can you cite the section of the Constitution which changes the restrictions upon the US Government, its officers, agents, soldiers, employees and contractors based on where those individuals are located?
posted by mikelieman at 9:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


How'd it work out last time they had the presidency? Seems that the very problem you are complaining about occured no? Remember that guy Bush? The one who created this problem in the first place?

Only one member of congress objected to the resolution to invade Afghanistan. Iraq wasn't much better:

R 215 006
D 082 126
I 000 001
-------------
T 297 133 (House)

R 048 001
D 029 021
I 000 001
-------------
T 077 023 (Senate)


The issue is not Republican or Democrat. The issue is a failure to defend core principles of our democracy. Obama did not end the Iraq War; he pretended to. He did not end the war in Afghanistan, he escalated the violence. He didn't close Guantanamo, he cowed to pressure and opened it back up for business. He backed Mubarak. He escalated the violence in Libya. He continues to back dictators in Bahrain and Syria. I have no idea why anyone thinks he's doing a good job on foreign policy, much less following through on his campaign promises.

Is his rhetoric an order of magnitude better than the pathetic hyperbole from the Bush Administration? Sure. Are his policies different in any meaningful way? In some edge cases, perhaps, but stop kidding yourself. It's the same old same old, and changing the letter after the name isn't going to make a fucking bit of difference.
posted by notion at 9:29 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The president has a finite amount of power, soft and hard. This is an inarguable fact.

Hmm. How much? What instrument do you use to measure it? What consumes it? What replenishes it? Since you're someone who frequently DEMANDS citations of completely unprovable things (e.g., who would have voted for a bill in some alternate timeline), I'd really like to see you elaborate on this statement. Because, like others, I'm of the belief that using the bully pulpit to fight for one's moral stances and make a case for them in front of the public is a very effective way to BUILD "political capital" or whatever you want to call it.

As exhibit A, I will point to the shift in coverage of the Ryan plan and the number of editorials beginning to call out the Republicans for cutting popular and crucial social benefits while also cutting taxes on the rich. If you will recall, prior to Obama's speech, the general tone in the media was that Ryan was the first Serious person to address The Budget Issue and that they'd all be waiting with bated breath now to see what kinds of cuts Democrats would propose. Now, the conversation's changed. The Democratic members of the House got ballsy enough to force Republicans to vote against their own far-right plan, and it was such a conspicuously abnormal show of Balls that the Republicans were stunned and whining about it on TV.

My point is: It didn't matter that economists universally condemned the Ryan plan, it didn't matter that public opinion polls show that Americans dramatically prefer raising taxes on the rich to cutting Medicare, it didn't matter that defending historically groundbreaking, popular, and successful Democratic social programs should be a no-brainer - the political conversation among the entire pundit class save Krugman was that hey, it's time to tighten our belts and take some more money away from the middle class. This is one of those arguments where I imagine you would argue, afterwards, (because you have on so many previous occasions,) "Show me the votes. The House is controlled by Republicans, there's no way you could get a budget through that doesn't [whatever]." Now, by sticking his neck out to publicly defend Democratic beliefs, the President has changed the entire conversation and generated momentum in Congress, in the media, and in popular opinion for their defense. And I don't think that doing so reduced some amount of "capital" that Obama previously had. He seems revitalized now - many accounts of the speech described him as a fighter, coming out swinging.

Coda: This is why a lot of us say that we wish he would stick out his neck more often, say on things like that public option. Because it's not a fucking death wish, and it's not an inexorable re-election loss to Palin, to talk about your principles when you are right, in some clear moral/economical/whatever way. Especially when you are, as Obama is, a compelling speaker who commands media attention and is particularly good at shifting public opinion.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


Notion,
Obama has come through on a couple of issues, but not many I agree. (Don't ask dont tell, not fighting doma cases, for the most part leaving medical marijuana alone, financial reform, and a shity health care law with a few scraps for his base)
my question to you is name one president who has followed through with all their campaign promises. He is only one actor in a large theater. (That doesn't mean there is not a ton of room for criticism)
posted by handbanana at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2011


Some notes I've gathered reading through the articles:

1- No new prisoners have been sent to Gitmo since 2007.
2-Of the 779 total inmates only 172 remain held. 42 of those released have returned to wage war against the United States. -- Should we have held on to those guys?
3-158 detainees were identified in this document list who where never detained previously. Are any of these folks still held? Was the ICRC informed about their detention?
4-There is a lot of new information, some of it probably gathered by torture and thus of limited credence about the involvement of KSM, Bin Laden and others in the 9-11 attacks and their alliances with the Taliban.
5-80 of the remaining are Yemeni citizen who are waiting repatriation contingent upon security arrangements.

Also Ironmouth, Notion,etc.. I'm pretty sure you guys arn't going to convince each other regarding Obama. Maybe you should give it a break.
posted by humanfont at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I suppose my main question is why this information had to be leaked?

It reflects very poorly on Bush jr and his crew, it doesn't endanger national security in the slightest, why wasn't it declassified and released by Obama and his huge Democratic majorities back in 2008?
posted by sotonohito at 9:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Found you! Nobel awaits.
posted by namasaya


And you'll deserve it as much as a few of the Peace Prize winners do.

Like Kissinger.

(What? You were thinking I was gonna cite someone else?)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:40 AM on April 25, 2011


Sotonohito,

Because they are politicians. It doesn't matter what stripe, they tend to scratch each others backs because if one party in power does this when inevitably the opposing party takes power similar actions would take place. Plus let's be honest, why would our government want to air our dirty laundry? (I don't agree that we shouldn't have the information)
posted by handbanana at 9:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm. How much? What instrument do you use to measure it? What consumes it? What replenishes it?

Umm, it's not that nebulous really. All the powers of the president are enumerated in the constitution with the exception of what the courts have ruled "inherent powers" (which are basically whatever extra-constitutional powers the courts deem fit to give a sitting president).

The only other power the president has is to ride, and to some extent help guide, whatever wave of popular political sentiment happens to be cresting at the time. It's all about whether or not people support the president's ideas enough to push the other parts of the system to implement them. That's how it's supposed to work, and that's how it does work. Unfortunately, those other parts of the system are locked up by lobbyists and other interests. Even the president's own party refused to take his efforts to address those deeper problems seriously from the very beginning, because the corruption is already so wide-spread and endemic there's barely anything left under all the rot.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:41 AM on April 25, 2011


Also Ironmouth, Notion,etc.. I'm pretty sure you guys arn't going to convince each other regarding Obama. Maybe you should give it a break.

I agree.
posted by clavdivs at 9:43 AM on April 25, 2011


The president has a finite amount of power, soft and hard. This is an inarguable fact.

Hmm. How much? What instrument do you use to measure it? What consumes it? What replenishes it? Since you're someone who frequently DEMANDS citations of completely unprovable things


I was just going to agree with him because the Earth is finite and therefore any measurement of what goes on ON Earth is finine.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:43 AM on April 25, 2011


handbanana, that is largely my point. Obama is a standard issue, right of center democrat. Obama slammed Clinton for her vote on Iraq, and then hired her as the Secretary of State. To pretend that he would not have caved on Iraq as he almost certainly would have on Afghanistan (since he escalated the war there) seems to be a fairly whimsical idea.
posted by notion at 9:44 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama is a standard issue, right of center democrat.

To be pedantic: he's right of center objectively and in western-world terms but he's left of the US 'center', an important distinction electorally.
posted by Skorgu at 9:48 AM on April 25, 2011


The only other power the president has is to ride, and to some extent help guide, whatever wave of popular political sentiment happens to be cresting at the time.

This is the part I was talking about. I've never seen any proof that there's some hard limit on this, or that it's an unreplenishable quantity. I'm not demanding that Obama through a coup just to overturn DOMA or anything.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2011


Notion,
I have to disagree with the statement that he is a right of center. You seem to make this rather elementary as far as his 'slammming then hiring' of Clinton (that's what you do when campaigning particularly when they were rather similar on many issues.
also take into account that candidate Obama wasn't president yet, and therefore did not have all the information needed to make informed decisions . When campaigning you need to basically cast a wide net and also recognize issues pertaining to your base. The base must be motivated particularly in the case of Democrats (the post election numbers show the larger mobilized voter base, democrats are not as reliable as republicans)
posted by handbanana at 9:52 AM on April 25, 2011


humanfont: " Also Ironmouth, Notion,etc.. I'm pretty sure you guys arn't going to convince each other regarding Obama. Maybe you should give it a break."

Thirding this. Thank you for saying it.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some notes I've gathered reading through the articles:

You missed a big one:
Recommendations to interrogators at Guantánamo Bay rank the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon as threats. Being linked to any of these groups is an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity, the documents say.

"Through associations with these … organisations, a detainee may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or coalition forces [in Afghanistan]," says the document, dated September 2007 and called the Joint Task Force Guantánamo Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants. It adds that links to these groups is evidence that an individual poses a future threat.

The revelation that the ISI is considered as much of a threat as al-Qaida and the Taliban will cause fury in Pakistan. It will further damage the already poor relationship between US intelligence services and their Pakistani counterparts, supposedly key allies in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other Islamist militants in south Asia.
As the largest state sponsor of the Pakistani military, we have been funding both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan, while considering the ISI to be as dangerous as Al Qaeda. That's not news in how stupid it is, but it is news that the US military has explicitly known that fact for so long.
posted by notion at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2011


I get being upset at Obama. I get that. But name 3 viable alternative candidates. Until we can do that, it's like screaming at your car and being pissed because it can't fly. Flying cars don't exist yet.

These electable candidates that would end all these wars, free all these prisoners, play nice with all foreign countries and enact universal healthcare without being murdered or caught up in a scandal before they even get to the primaries - I'm asking you where they are.

Until then, holy shit, back off the dude. He's pretty decent until flying car candidate comes along in 12 years or whatever. I hate a lot of things he's done. I like a lot of things he's done. As opposed to just hating a lot of the things he's done, which is where we just came from.

George Bush was arguably the worst president we've ever known, while Obama had literal millions dancing in the streets, and Obama barely beat a 75-year-old war freak and a loony dunce from the sticks. Barely.

Just wait until July 4th and then the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 in September. The NFL already scheduled Washington vs New York for that day and I'm sure that's going to be a shitstorm of a day leading into the 2012 campaign.

At some level I really do just want to sit back and say "okay, sure, you want to have some republican president, go ahead.....watch what happens." But I don't really have that luxury.

I had been steadily criticizing people like Jon Stewart (I love the daily show) for having us laugh at crazy shit that happens. But it seems Stewart is tapping into that same sense of wanting perfection. Wanting that flying car of a candidate who will do most all things right and be somehow untouched by anyone else powerful. She or he will be unimpeachable, will end all the wars and not start new ones, won't torture or detain people and will end our dependence on oil, clean up the environment, stop the bankers from wrecking and profiting from the system, legalize gay marriage and raise taxes on the wealthy. All the while being electable.

I honestly want to think that way, but that isn't practical for me. Plus I rightly or wrongly will have moments where I have a vision of someone hard at work in an endlessly hot field in the south years ago, and they pop up at me while I am lamenting that Obama is only my new bicycle and not my flying car and turn their heads and say "What the fuck is wrong with you, fool!?"
posted by cashman at 10:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cashman,
he didn't barely beat crazy McCain and company, he swept.
electoral college for the win.
posted by handbanana at 10:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The base must be motivated particularly in the case of Democrats (the post election numbers show the larger mobilized voter base, democrats are not as reliable as republicans)

Huh, exit polls for the last decade consistently show that 90% of liberals vote for Democratic candidates. This is better party discipline than exists among conservatives. When Democratic candidates win or loose, it's almost always due moderate and conservative swing votes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:12 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But it seems Stewart is tapping into that same sense of wanting perfection.

Perfection, following rule of law

Tomato, Tamatto.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:14 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Notion,
I have to disagree with the statement that he is a right of center.


Obama could only be considered even remotely centrist in America... in the rest of the democratic world, he'd be a pretty far right conservative. Don't forget that many of the policies of Richard Nixon would be lambasted by the American right today as "insanely liberal" (Creation of the EPA? Proposed universal health care?). The "center" of American politics has shifted incredibly far to the right over the last 40 years.
posted by modernnomad at 10:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Kirkjobsluder,
I am not talking about exit polls but comparing previous midterm and presidential elections.
There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, the difference is voter turnout.
If Democrats voted every election, Democrats would be a constant majority.
posted by handbanana at 10:16 AM on April 25, 2011


But it seems Stewart is tapping into that same sense of wanting perfection. Wanting that flying car of a candidate who will do most all things right and be somehow untouched by anyone else powerful. She or he will be unimpeachable, will end all the wars and not start new ones, won't torture or detain people and will end our dependence on oil, clean up the environment, stop the bankers from wrecking and profiting from the system, legalize gay marriage and raise taxes on the wealthy. All the while being electable.

If that kind of person isn't electable, what is wrong with our country?

You know, I have to say, I've talked to a hundred people in the last couple of months who are from outside the US. They all think we are fucking crazy. And I'm seriously doubting whether it's worth going home and trying to fight the good fight. If we're so polite and easily hurt by people disagreeing on the internet, how could our society possibly handle politics? What does our ideal citizen do? Watch videos of cats and pay taxes and politely disagree a maximum of three times a day?

That's why I'm so sick of the veneer of soft words trying to cover the gruesome reality of places like Guantanamo and our three wars. Right now, innocent people are being killed with our tax dollars. Right now, men are being tortured with our tax dollars. And the best we can do is say it could be worse?
posted by notion at 10:19 AM on April 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Modernnomad,
If we are discussing internationally, yes you are correct. Our democrats are certainly more conservative when taken into comparison of world politics.
posted by handbanana at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2011


So being kept in extreme isolation, which is what has been reported, amounts to torture
now?


Actually, yes.
posted by steambadger at 10:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


But it seems Stewart is tapping into that same sense of wanting perfection. Wanting that flying car of a candidate who will do most all things right and be somehow untouched by anyone else powerful. She or he will be unimpeachable, will end all the wars and not start new ones, won't torture or detain people and will end our dependence on oil, clean up the environment, stop the bankers from wrecking and profiting from the system, legalize gay marriage and raise taxes on the wealthy. All the while being electable.

If that kind of person isn't electable, what is wrong with our country?


What is wrong with our country is that we are fucking human and weak and don't fight long enough and get discouraged upon finding out that we aren't getting the pony right away and give up.

This is a General Grant kind of campaign. We have to convince a lot of people that this is important while at the same time getting all the other things done that need to be done. Want it done now? You can not have it now. Why do you give up. Why is your first move to attack the one guy who has been trying to get it done instead of the fools who voted against him? I do not get it. How does this help.

It is our job to convince our friends and neighbors. And it will be hard as hell. It will require a lot of work. You know why? Because they have freedom of choice. They don't have to agree with us.

This is the cost of democracy--hard work. Very hard work. And if we don't win, acting like babies and saying we are going to take our toys and go home because we haven't won isn't going to cut the mustard. It won't get things done. We have to convince our neighbors and friends and fellow citizens. That is how it works. Obama was on the wrong side of this issue numbers wise. So much so that his own party delivered a sharp blow to him.

What frustrates me is that we are supposed to throw it all away on this one problem that Bush created. All of our hard work is supposed to just be tossed for this one thing that was never our fault in the first place. Is that smart?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama could only be considered even remotely centrist in America...

Well he's president in America. We don't live elsewhere. We don't vote in their elections and they don't vote here.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:39 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kirkjobsluder,
I am not talking about exit polls but comparing previous midterm and presidential elections.
There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, the difference is voter turnout.
If Democrats voted every election, Democrats would be a constant majority.


And then this would be a different story. Then the President would have the numbers and the majorities to get things done. But some people on our side don't vote in mid-term and presidential elections. That is their fault.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on April 25, 2011


handbanna: You can't make any conclusions about the "base" without looking at exit polls.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 AM on April 25, 2011


Very true ironmouth, and it drives me nuts
posted by handbanana at 10:45 AM on April 25, 2011


That's why I'm so sick of the veneer of soft words trying to cover the gruesome reality of places like Guantanamo and our three wars. Right now, innocent people are being killed with our tax dollars. Right now, men are being tortured with our tax dollars. And the best we can do is say it could be worse?

Yes because apparently an electorally significant majority of people either wants it that way or doesn't much care. Given that background yeah, I'll take anything I can get.
posted by Skorgu at 10:48 AM on April 25, 2011


Cashman,
he didn't barely beat crazy McCain and company, he swept.
electoral college for the win.


Really. Let's actually look at the numbers.

He received 52.9% of the votes in the country.

In 1988, George Bush received 53.4% George Bush!

In 1984 Reagan got 58.8% of the vote and 525 electoral votes. Mondale got 13! That is a fucking landslide, dude. 52.9% ain't a landslide.

In 1972 Richard M. Nixon received 60.7% of the vote and 520 electoral votes! That is a landslide.

In 1964, LBJ got 61.1% of the vote and 486 EVs. Landslide.

In 1956, Ike got 57.4% of the vote. Not a landslide.

In 1936, FDR got 60.6% of the vote. 523 EVs. Landslide.

In no way did Barack Obama get anything approaching a landslide in EVs or popular vote.

Time to get real.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the cost of democracy--hard work.

There used to be a tool for redress called "The Court".

But access to that tool got cut off with the invention of the idea of "Standing".
posted by rough ashlar at 10:49 AM on April 25, 2011


Kirkjobsluder,

I don't put much stock in exit polls as they tend to be very reactionary and ignore vast areas of the population. Not to mention how many people do not participate in the questioning (which is rather great) so one may only get responses from those strongly opinionated on either side.

I think a better approach is comparing election results over the long view, as well as the voting patterns of members of each respected party to give an idea potential realignments.
posted by handbanana at 10:50 AM on April 25, 2011


That's why I'm so sick of the veneer of soft words trying to cover the gruesome reality of places like Guantanamo and our three wars. Right now, innocent people are being killed with our tax dollars. Right now, men are being tortured with our tax dollars. And the best we can do is say it could be worse?

Yes because apparently an electorally significant majority of people either wants it that way or doesn't much care. Given that background yeah, I'll take anything I can get.


2-1 against closing. 3-1 against putting terrorists here.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kirkjobsluder,

I don't put much stock in exit polls as they tend to be very reactionary


The fact that you don't like the results should not be a reason for not listening to them.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:52 AM on April 25, 2011


This is the cost of democracy--hard work.

There used to be a tool for redress called "The Court".

But access to that tool got cut off with the invention of the idea of "Standing".


OK, I think you are getting confused here. What part of standing are you referring to. Because standing to sue has been around since the beginning of our legal system.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on April 25, 2011


The reason why it matters is that the specter of non-voting liberals costing Democrats elections is raised any time there's criticism of government policy, in spite of a complete lack of evidence for a significant non-voting block on the left.

Obama and congressional Democrats may need to play the politics of the possible, but putting pressure on them to do the right thing is a key part of the political process.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:55 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, no one said anything about liking thme/or not liking them. I am pointing out flaws in their assumptions based off of them. Like I said, long view. You can disagree if you'd like, but politics is a long termed game and in order to make predictions for future races.
and I would say 365 electoral votes to McCains 173 is a slide.
posted by handbanana at 10:57 AM on April 25, 2011


Damn smartphone.
Rules of the game, electoral votes count not popular vote.
posted by handbanana at 10:59 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth, I know we're on the same team. I also know we're not going to convince each other on Obama's political leadership. For me, the surge in Afghanistan was almost the last straw. The continued support of Mubarak made my mind up. I will look at the candidates in 2012, but Obama has already lost my vote.

This is the cost of democracy--hard work. Very hard work. And if we don't win, acting like babies and saying we are going to take our toys and go home because we haven't won isn't going to cut the mustard.

I dislike the connotation here. Staying in a nation that is collectively turning into a bloodthirsty sociopathic corporation (with a very pretty PR campaign) is no different than moving to one. It's just like my family: as much as I love them, I am not obligated to stay in the car when they start accelerating towards a cliff.

Another cost of democracy is losing a lot of good and smart people when your nation decides to go apeshit.
posted by notion at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


2-1 against closing. 3-1 against putting terrorists here.

And it really helps how Obama fights tooth and nail against releasing any of the information of what a fucked up situation we've created there
posted by crayz at 11:04 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


notion,
The need for good and smart people is even more pressing when the nation is/has been going apeshit.

I sure as hell am not going to let the country get worse because I'm unhappy. Fuck, it motivates me more than anything. I'm trying to start a PAC soon to get rid of my fucking rightwing nut job in congress in 2012.
posted by handbanana at 11:05 AM on April 25, 2011


Because standing to sue has been around since the beginning of our legal system.

Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923)
Fairchild v. Hughes (1922)

Prior to it the doctrine was that all persons had a right to pursue a private prosecution of a public right.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to start a PAC soon

Watch the Corbert Report's about the Colbert PAC.

It seems you can take corporate money from businesses if you call it a Super PAC. (and who knows, some members of the colbert nation will be able to help ya out.)
posted by rough ashlar at 11:09 AM on April 25, 2011


rough ashlar,

Its going to be hard enough to get people to give me money (only need $1,000), but I'm going to attempt to get it started soon. If for anything, just to be a pain in his ass and raise attention to his lack of representation of our district.
I need to talk to the last candidate to run against him to see if she has any ideas. Luckily I know her somewhat, and it seems the only way to get attention is to have skin in the game.
posted by handbanana at 11:13 AM on April 25, 2011


Watch videos of cats and pay taxes and politely disagree a maximum of three times a day?

I overheard a coworker the other day--someone who probably considers themselves pretty liberal or at least left-leaning--talking about a recent city parade in which Florida's new baron Republican governor, in breaking with historical tradition, opted to make himself the center of the event. Since the new governor's been running around gutting labor protections and firing public officials (which make up a significant proportion of the city's population, it being the capital of Florida and all), some of the locals attending the parade decided to show their disapproval by booing the governor as he passed by on his parade float. My coworker was agonizing over the fact that, while she "disagrees" with the new governor's policies, she couldn't reconcile herself with the idea that those publicly expressing their disapproval at this public event were doing anything other than making other people uncomfortable.

In this ostensible "liberal's" estimation, the public showing of disapproval for the governor was inconsiderate to the feelings of all the more apathetic or sympathetic people in attendance at the event, and that outweighed any good the public protest might have done.

That's the kind of crap that's killing us.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm going to attempt to get it started soon

I'd get the paperwork filled out yesterday - because if it takes as long as the IRS does for Form 1023 - you are looking at 6 months before they will even assign anyone to look at the paperwork. (They are on nov 2010's forms)

If for anything, just to be a pain in his ass

As Steven Colbert pointed out - the PAC *CAN NOT* get any guidance from the candidate about the advertising for the candidate. (And what candidate would not 100% truthful advertising about them/their positions?)

the only way to get attention is to have skin in the game.

I'm guessing if you ran 100% truthful ads, you'd get attention.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because standing to sue has been around since the beginning of our legal system.

Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923)
Fairchild v. Hughes (1922)

Prior to it the doctrine was that all persons had a right to pursue a private prosecution of a public right.


So they can't bring Habeus actions? I'm confused here.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2011


she couldn't reconcile herself with the idea that those publicly expressing their disapproval at this public event were doing anything other than making other people uncomfortable.

La puissance de la mort
posted by rough ashlar at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2011


I'm confused here.

Yes - we've all seen your posts in this thread.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2011


Ironmouth, I know we're on the same team. I also know we're not going to convince each other on Obama's political leadership. For me, the surge in Afghanistan was almost the last straw. The continued support of Mubarak made my mind up. I will look at the candidates in 2012, but Obama has already lost my vote.

He literally said he was going to launch a surge when he got into office. How could you be surprised.

I'm not sure what you mean by "continued support for Mubarak." I think that they told him not to shoot people. I'm also of the opinion that we should not be launching regime change against anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:22 AM on April 25, 2011


I'm confused here.

Yes - we've all seen your posts in this thread.


I'm just asking you to answer how standing affects these person's ability to file for Habeus.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:23 AM on April 25, 2011


Also, Rough Ashlar, there was zero action against the government until then under the doctrine of governmental immunity.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:23 AM on April 25, 2011


Rough ashlar,

Need to raise or spend at least$ 1000 prior to filing wiithin 10 days and I wouldn't be consulting a candidate (there isn't any yet) but a previous one on potential donors/people to talk to.

I am new to this, and its a bit of a learning curve when you are a nobody.
posted by handbanana at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2011


To be pedantic: he's right of center objectively and in western-world terms but he's left of the US 'center', an important distinction electorally.

I'm curious why you think this? Particularly if you look at economic policy, I'm hard pressed to come up with examples of left-wing policy. Being for health care reform does not make you a leftist, particularly if your plan relies on market forces and consumer choice.

I think this is the other side of the insane "Obama is a socialist" rhetoric. Reasonable people hear this and think that somehow, even if Obama isn't a communist, he must be on the left.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2011


Ah, that's more like it Wikileaks - welcome back to being relevant.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:26 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Believing there should be a government at all (other than police and military) is all it takes to qualify as a leftist in American politics today.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am new to this, and its a bit of a learning curve when you are a nobody.

You are a citizen and fully within your rights to fully exercise your right to free speech. Please do not use the term "nobody" to describe yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why does anyone think that any president is going to play by the rules when they make them? Yes this is horrible, yes I am against it. However, for every leaked thing there are things we don't get to see. We the public are always already in the position of children with regard to the government as it stands. Let's not give up seeking truth and justice, but let's not kid ourselves on transparency occuring with the consent of those who are in power.
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 11:42 AM on April 25, 2011


With the few exceptions of knowing a couple people (state, old candidates), I am an outsider trying to break in (my passion is politics).
Thanks for the reassurance ironmouth, it just feels like an uphill climb when you haven't done this kind of thing before.
posted by handbanana at 11:50 AM on April 25, 2011


I'm curious why you think this? Particularly if you look at economic policy, I'm hard pressed to come up with examples of left-wing policy. Being for health care reform does not make you a leftist, particularly if your plan relies on market forces and consumer choice.

Personally I consider Obama a centrist but because there is no left-wing party in the US and almost no liberals either he's still left of center. If the country ranges from -10 (left) to 10(right) a moderate is a 0, nowadays we go from -1 to 19 so it's entirely possible to be left of center and still not be very liberal.
posted by Skorgu at 12:02 PM on April 25, 2011


Just to establish this at the outset, since you see casual disinformation about it all the time:

"Oh hey, we got this in the first five posts! This might actually be a pretty good ..."

Bradley Manning is in jail for releasing to the world the hard evidence of America's crimes against humanity. Fuck Obama

"... aaand there we go, right off that cliff."
posted by Amanojaku at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2011


I will look at the candidates in 2012, but Obama has already lost my vote.

When you find a better candidate, please FPP them. Obama has my vote until a better electable candidate comes along.
posted by cashman at 1:27 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


He did not end the war in Afghanistan, he escalated the violence.

Obama said during the campaign that he would escalate in Afghanistan.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:09 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Punch a hippy, save a Democrat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Punch a hippy, save a Democrat.

I think were asking you to stop punching the President, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on April 25, 2011


Look, could we kindly cut it out with that insipid "hippy-punching!" line? It's a violent, obnoxious, and inaccurate metaphor that's tossed out here all the damn time as a lazy substitute for good argument.

Say what you want about Ironmouth, but at least he manages to make a decent case for himself in an often hostile environment day in and day out without falling back on combative and utterly thoughtless rejoinders like that.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:43 PM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a violent, obnoxious, and inaccurate metaphor that's tossed out here all the damn time as a lazy substitute for good argument

Every time we have a thread about Wikileaks — every single time, without fail — someone launches a snide comment (say, accusations of "casual disinformation") about how President Obama is completely blame-free for the human rights violations that WL's journalism has exposed, and that any criticisms of his policies as they relate to said human rights violations — even those that are legitimate — will lead to some other candidate getting elected in 2012.

Last time around, I think, it was Sarah Palin. This time it is Romney.

I'm completely fed up with being spoken to like a child, bullied into compliance with every one of Obama's decisions, just because of some nutty Republican bogeyman.

If you want to talk about a lazy substitute for a good argument, it is your scare tactics, every fracking time, that bug me more than anything else. Continuing George W. Bush's regime of fear in this way is lazy. It's lazy. What you and Ironmouth do in every thread like this is lazy. I'm sick of reading how my concerns mean that some right-wing lunatic is going to get voted in. I'm done getting bullied.

If you're tired of the hippy-punching comments, then stop polluting these threads like this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


WTF hippy punching? That's not an argument. I see no evidence that you are a hippy, nor that you have been physically assaulted.

Getting back to more FPP related matters. One of the revelations today has been the that A player in the Libyan revolution is an ex-Gitmo detainee named Abu Sufian bin Qumu. This would seem to make a total mess of the emerging consensus on what to do about Libya WRT to escalation. This past weekend John McCain was in Benghazi recommending we support the transitional government based there and extend it political recognition. McCain made the Sunday talk show rounds this past weekend. I assumed that this would be a way for Republicans to move to a more Hawkish position from their current all over the map response on this. What do you make of it?
posted by humanfont at 3:09 PM on April 25, 2011


If you want to talk about a lazy substitute for a good argument, it is your scare tactics, every fracking time, that bug me more than anything else. Continuing George W. Bush's regime of fear in this way is lazy. It's lazy. What you and Ironmouth do in every thread like this is lazy. I'm sick of reading how my concerns mean that some right-wing lunatic is going to get voted in. I'm done getting bullied.

If you're tired of the hippy-punching comments, then stop polluting these threads like this.


Disagreeing with you is not bullying.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2011


- Disagreeing with you is not bullying.

- I think were asking you to stop punching the President, actually.

?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:16 PM on April 25, 2011


Disagreeing with you is not bullying.

No, but repeatedly telling people that their own disagreements with you mean that some right-wing nut is going to get elected is bullying. It's a scare tactic, and it is disingenuous to claim that you aren't trying to scare people with the rhetorical equivalent of a Republican monster hiding under the bed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blazecock, I don't think anyone in the world is saying that words on the blue change elections. Votes change elections. Not voting for Democrats means Republicans get elected. Is it bullying? Sure but it's the electoral system doing the bullying, posters here are just pointing it out.
posted by Skorgu at 3:22 PM on April 25, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: " No, but repeatedly telling people that their own disagreements with you mean that some right-wing nut is going to get elected is bullying. It's a scare tactic, and it is disingenuous to claim that you aren't trying to scare people with the rhetorical equivalent of a Republican monster hiding under the bed."

So what's the other side of Dick Cheneying an argument? :)
posted by zarq at 3:29 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Suggesting actual possible consequences of your actions is not bullying. You seem to be arguing that there is no difference between Bush and Obama on foreign policy and human rights, or that the differences are minuscule. However many on this thread appear to disagree with you. Neither group seems willing to listen, but you seem to be the only one calling names and screaming hippy punching. Perhaps in the spirit of hippydom you could broaden your horizons a bit and try to get where others are coming from and offer something more constructive than droning on about how everyone is picking on you, blah blah blah.
posted by humanfont at 3:42 PM on April 25, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "Every time we have a thread about Wikileaks — every single time, without fail — someone launches a snide comment (say, accusations of "casual disinformation") about how President Obama is completely blame-free"

What was "snide" about that comment? I was just preempting the revisionist history on this issue I've been seeing all over the web (not just here) that Obama flip-flopped on Gitmo after doing nothing to shutter it, an idea that ignores the considerable congressional majorities that have repeatedly blocked the guy's clear day-one orders to close the facility. And I did it with sources and quotes, not reflexive clichés.

And for the record, I don't think the president is blame-free. He's not perfect, and has made mistakes. But he's a hell of a lot better, overall, than his predecessor, and a hell of a lot better than what the Republicans have to offer. As Ironmouth said, Romney, the most "mainstream" Republican candidate, wants to double Guantanamo. Huckabee uses his folksy charm to mask a theocratic worldview. And current poll-leader Donald Trump is an outspoken birther for chrissakes.

Pointing out that these people are the only realistic alternative to Obama in the White House isn't bullying, it's fact. They are actual, viable threats to our shared goals. And yes, spending time and energy online and IRL shit-talking about how terrible and unacceptable and unsupportable our current president is moves the needle, however slightly, in their direction. If such talk was totally ineffective, why would think tanks and the military spend money astroturfing online conversation?

Oddly, I worry about us ending up like Canada -- a permanently divided left vs. a united right-wing bloc with minority support that nevertheless manages to dominate the government, with ugly results. They're a demonstration of how calling for unity to avoid political disaster is not scaremongering, it's simply how the electoral system works. Infighting without contributing to any constructive alternatives simply cedes ground to the opposition. And the practical, real-world consequences of that for millions of people is, genuinely, scary. Just look at Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, etc., etc., etc.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:44 PM on April 25, 2011


Then the President would have the numbers and the majorities to get things done. But some people on our side don't vote in mid-term and presidential elections. That is their fault.

ok, it is the democrats fault. So the democrats are to blame for "to get things done" (what exactly would be insightful) not getting done and it is Bushs fault for the mess we face today (military and economic) and i would venture the tea party has some culpablility in current events.

we need a fourth party then. After all, this is the way things are done, right?
posted by clavdivs at 4:03 PM on April 25, 2011


Oddly, I worry about us ending up like Canada -- a permanently divided left vs. a united right-wing bloc with minority support that nevertheless manages to dominate the government, with ugly results.

Hi. Canada here, reminding you that your government is way, way, way more permafucked than ours could ever possibly be in Stephen Harper's wildest, wettest dreams.

You don't seem to understand what a minority government means: Extra opposition = extra democracy. The opposition gets to say no, like it just did by holding the Prime Minister in contempt of Parliament for not disclosing a bit of his budget. (It's not even like he unilaterally decided to bomb Libya or anything.)

A minority government far less "ugly" than a House and Senate tipped overwhelmingly in your favour and still somehow managing to get fuck-all done.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:08 PM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, but repeatedly telling people that their own disagreements with you mean that some right-wing nut is going to get elected is bullying. It's a scare tactic...

Of course it's a scare tactic, the idea of a Republican President and Republican Congress is scary!!!

You can hate Obama all you want, but you should show up and vote for him in the end, because the alternative will probably be worse. That may suck, but it's the plain truth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2011


For all the sensitive types that can't read actual wikileak files with out having tanks on your lawn or SWAT teams down your chimney, please rest assured that none of my links here or inside lead directly to *sekrets*
The Department of Defense begs to differ.
posted by rhizome at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can hate Obama all you want, but you should show up and vote for him in the end, because the alternative will probably be worse. That may suck, but it's the plain truth.
"The" alternative? Aren't you really contending that all alternatives will be worse?
posted by rhizome at 4:13 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is only one alternative, a Republican President with a Republican Senate and House.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:19 PM on April 25, 2011


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

oooh

HAHHHAHAHHHAHAHAHHHAHHHHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAH

whoo, wait , ah ohh

HHAHAHHAHHA
posted by Shit Parade at 4:21 PM on April 25, 2011


ok ok,

hey everyone, relax, kick back, have a beer and remember, we live in the best country in the world. USA USA USA USA U S A U S A U S A
posted by Shit Parade at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2011


There is only one alternative

There is only one alternative, because we continue to be browbeaten into submission to an either/or choice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is only one alternative, a Republican President with a Republican Senate and House.

OK there, Glum.
posted by rhizome at 4:25 PM on April 25, 2011


Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923), Fairchild v. Hughes (1922)
Prior to it the doctrine was that all persons had a right to pursue a private prosecution of a public right.


Maybe you shouldn't rely on Wikipedia for these things. Frothingham v. Mellon attempted to enjoin an appropriation (for maternity benefits, back when that was a new concept) on the grounds that it would necessarily increase Frothingham's taxes and amount to an unlawful taking, since the payment of maternity benefits was not among Congress's constitutionally enumerated powers. Tax objectors often buy into such specious arguments, and the wiki article has the flavor of being written or edited by such a person.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:40 PM on April 25, 2011


No, it's not hopeless, but the 2012 US Presidential Election seems pretty straight forward: Barack vs some Republican, who will probably have a Republican Congress. Obama ain't perfect, but he's better than a one party rule.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2011


Gary Johnson/Russ Feingold 2012.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:55 PM on April 25, 2011


have people never heard of the foot in the door theory? Basically, people who agree to a small change are later more likely to agree to a large change in comparison to a large change right away.

In other words, we can either continue to support "Democrats" and continue our slow slide into Corpocracy or actually do something meaningful -- which at this point would be non-violent but extreme and unyielding protests -- the kind of protesting which can often end with jail time.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:02 PM on April 25, 2011


No, it's not hopeless, but the 2012 US Presidential Election seems pretty straight forward...

Come on, dude, you're doing the political equivalent of thinking with your dick.
posted by rhizome at 5:05 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who do you expect to protest? We can't get people to vote once every two years ferchrissake.
posted by Skorgu at 5:07 PM on April 25, 2011


Basically, people who agree to a small change are later more likely to agree to a large change in comparison to a large change right away.

Fuck shit up from the inside?
posted by rhizome at 5:09 PM on April 25, 2011


You just don't get it. Obama is supposed to personally impale himself on this issue even if it means the end of his presidency.

You just don't get it. Obama is supposed to cave on everything, in order to preserve the possibility of a second term, at the end of which, having bided his time, he as a mostly-powerless lame duck maybe might have an opportunity to take a principled stand on something long after it's too late to have any real effect on anything but his "legacy" as interpreted by sympathetic biographers.

He's like the perfect and perfectly useless sleeper agent, never activated for fear that he'll be discovered, who in order to keep up his disguise burrows in so deep that he's actively working for the enemy day in and day out, to perfect his disguise, so he won't be discovered so that one day he can be activated.

Dems tell us, "In order to get elected to do good, we have to sound almost just like Republicans, and to get the money to run we need to court almost the same donors as Republicans, and if we win election, in order to stay in office we need to vote almost just like Republicans ("trangulation"), which means we need to produce outcomes almost just like the Republicans' preferred outcomes, so that tomorrow -- well, tomorrow's not a good time to act, but maybe next week, or next year or sometime soon, or sooner or later, we can act like Democrats and do the good we vaguely remember was once really important to us before we got lost in the process and the power."

The means to the end become the end, and the ultimate end goal recedes into unreachable infinity, and well, you guys need to give us money TODAY and get out and vote for us TODAY so that we can be there for you, sometime, down the road, ok, but governing is serious business, and there's a bipartisan cocktail party fundraiser to go to, so you liberal zealots stop jogging our elbows and shut the fuck up like Rahm said, until the next cycle two years hence when we need your money and your votes again to save Harry Reid's job, ok?
posted by orthogonality at 5:13 PM on April 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Honest answer Skorgu? Rally young black men in inner cities to walk through the streets of court houses, city jails, police departments, banks, city hall. About half of them are unemployed so they have the time.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:13 PM on April 25, 2011


Come on, dude, you're doing the political equivalent of thinking with your dick.

I call it reality.

As Iron Mouth alluded to previously, we need a decent Congress to go along with a half way decent President ie mostly unified majorities in both chambers to work with a liberal President.

That ain't gonna happen in 2012. It's a "keep the idiots at bay" election.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah I know, I get it. "The power of accurate observation is often called 'cynicism' by those who haven't got it." Thanks for cluing us into the nature of reality, Ms. Rand.

History tells us that Congress are bigger wimps than the President. It doesn't help to shellgame this by always looking to something else that is required. "Oh, I could vote for a different candidate, but Congress needs to change first!" "Oh sure, Congress might try to do something, but the President would just veto it." Yadda, yadda, just add Scalia/Ginsburg epithets. Textbook nihilism.

Think of it this way, if we/they are such "idiots," as you term them, wouldn't they be equally malleable to non-majority thinking? You can't have it both ways, unless the universe invented savvy idiots while I wasn't watching.
posted by rhizome at 5:30 PM on April 25, 2011


Maybe you should demonstrate the viability of your political coalition by getting your folks to vote in a primary and get one of your candidate over 5%. Raise some money for an independent PAC or issue based advocacy organization. Why should any elected political leader take you seriously? You can't sell your ideas and you can't be bought. In fact the dominant political coalitions in the democratic party are forced to align against you, because you can only fracture their coalition and peel off votes undermining their common aims.
posted by humanfont at 5:38 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In this ostensible "liberal's" estimation, the public showing of disapproval for the governor was inconsiderate to the feelings of all the more apathetic or sympathetic people in attendance at the event, and that outweighed any good the public protest might have done.

Yep. I'll add, what's also killing us is that ideology is valued way, way, waaay over relevance, not to mention just plain competence. Fuck parades.

up to this point, Barack H. Obama becoming president is the best thing that has happened to these detainees.

Except it doesn't really matter (from their perspective given the end result is the same.

Look, it's Obama's executive branch right now, but I'm happy to cede plenty of "he's trying" arguments along with the "he's not progressive" arguments.
Because ultimately the system is so broken in this (torture/counterterrorism/internment) regard that we could have Joseph II running the country we would still be stalled.

Most of the reason it's broken is ideological.
We have what amounts to PR flacks pretending to be counterterrorists on a broad scale and their experience is watching "24" thinking this ticking time bomb scenario applies to every other guy wearing a Casio (A159W - the king of the vintage retro stopwatch for hipster AQ dads) and jerking off over minutiae in raw data reports (Dick Heuer who?) thinking the answer is to 'get tough' by torturing some ex-cabbie who pissed off a local heavy in Gholona.
And they're not GOP or Democrat - oh, they might say they're the former mostly, but that's not really what they are - they are nihilist contrarians.

We're right to bitch at our elected representative(s) on this matter because "cold, incompetent stupidity" IS perhaps the most perfect description I've ever read.
For any informed thinking individual it's like living in a situation comedy written by Kafka.
'Say, we're torturing people. Should we stop?' 'NO!' 'YES' 'Blame Bush!' 'Blame Obama!' 'Torture more!' 'Free Mumia!' etc.

'How' to change this is debatable in some measure. I have my own thoughts. But let's be clear as to who and what the opposition is. We're fighting a ghost, not a man or group of men. We're fighting a self-replicating body of thinking that inhabits a vacuum of apathy and ignorance (if people saw it for what it was they'd kill anyone who was part of it almost reflexively as a survival self-defense mechanism).
The kind of thinking that allows manifestly corrosive and demonstrably useless and counterproductive torture and arbitrary incarceration to continue on for an illusion of expediency.

The best tools are not ideology but principle. And by whatever means. Want to scare aunt Biddy? Show her some waterboarding. Want to infuriate your GOP buddy? Show him how much were spending on a completely useless program paying impotent bureaucrats to do nothing. The Doves hate the pain, the Hawks hate the failure and the Owls hate the lies.

Building allies is much better than looking for enemies. Gitmo is really such a smorgasbord of outrage it should be hard to find someone you can't crawl into bed with over it.

on preview: That said, it is infuriating to see the preemption in commodifying this matter into political capital. I agree with orthogonality that that's the Dem's dance. But really - Obama who? *I* believe in good government and not randomly electrifying people's testicles pointlessly. Who's on board with that principle? Who is working towards that? Those are my friends. Those office holders/seekers I will vote for regardless of their party.

Not up for that? Well, get your shit together congress because a lot of America is out of work and has nothing better to do than obsess politically.

And you can see the tension in the generalized tightening of the controls being pushed around the country. Always happens before a coup, big shift, etc.
We just need a general "no, seriously, cut the shit" sort of mental attitude change to give elected representatives the political will (and gonadal integrity) to change things.

Immunity to prosecution maybe? I dunno.
It's not going to be solved laying blame though. The desire for and embodiment of the change we want has to happen first. Regardless of who's elected to what.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:42 PM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


(to add: Immunity to prosecution on torture in order to cut the Gordian knot of the government trying to figure out what to do with that morass. We'll cut you slack in order to change the systemic problem but let's all admit that was really, really fucked up and we're not going in that direction anymore. First step to stop damaging yourself from hitting yourself with a hammer is to stop hitting yourself with the hammer)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:48 PM on April 25, 2011


Rally young black men in inner cities to walk through the streets of court houses, city jails, police departments, banks, city hall. About half of them are unemployed so they have the time.

Your plan of action to produce a more liberal government starts with enacting every deranged right wing survivalist nutjob's most fevered wet dream?
posted by Skorgu at 5:50 PM on April 25, 2011


Liberal or not, let's at least pretend we live in a free society which respects dissent. & if we play make believe for long enough it might even happen. Act the way you wish the world to be, and stand up when you see shit happen, too often we let it pass right by because it's easier than getting involved.

& how is a protest march a wet dream for right wing survivalist nutjobs? If you really believe it will result in a more oppressive government / police state / whatever, then I recommend examining what you truly think about the American government because on the face of it, it seems already to far gone to save from that point of view.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


No society has ever respected dissent. I have an alternative though, let's pretend we are people who are capable of voting our ethics rather than for a team we hope will win. A problem in the US is that its political environment is split into Yankees fans and Lakers fans.
posted by rhizome at 6:11 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Barack H. Obama becoming president is the best thing that has happened to these detainees."

by all means, this should be the parties clarion call.

get real.
Conflating this issue with the over performance of the administration is asinine at worst, clutching at redemption at best.
posted by clavdivs at 6:18 PM on April 25, 2011


The diffence for detainees under Obama has been very significant.
1- no new detainees have been added to Gitmo
2- interrogation rules are now defined uniformly as based on the army field manual.
3- all detainees have been visited regularly by the ICRC, including those held elsewhere.
4- a large number have been relased.
5- 42 have been classified as individuals deemed worthy of prosecution
6- the remaining are either pending repatriation to their home nation (subject to ongoing negotiations), a third nation or have been designated as POWs subject to release pending the end of the conflict or their individual cooperation with the US.

The files released confirm change in detention and interrogation practices after Obama won the election.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 PM on April 25, 2011


"There is only one alternative, because we continue to be browbeaten into submission to an either/or choice."

The two party system is the natural outcome of a single-member-district, winner-take-all electoral process. To have more than two viable parties we'd first need to fundamentally reform how we elect legislators, which is a political non-starter because the people with the power to do that are the people who got elected under the current system and thus think it works fine because it elected them.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:24 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


so these prisoners can be tried before the election then? because those points will resonate with the american people. We are talking about the issue that could determine the destinty of billions of people.
posted by clavdivs at 6:27 PM on April 25, 2011


The two party system is the natural outcome of a single-member-district, winner-take-all electoral process.

I'm beginning to not-agree with this, and I don't think it's a foregone conclusion. I do think that in the US politics is engineered as an art and science of compromise, and the two party system is a result of that approach.

A system that prioritizes compromise will seek equilibrium until it merely vacillates between the minimum number of components necessary to have a compromise. That is, compromise has become the goal, not a means to an end. This means that every issue will never be decided purely, but will always be corrupted in order to introduce compromise where it may not be necessary. I dunno, just spitballin'.
posted by rhizome at 6:45 PM on April 25, 2011


Compromise is what democracy looks like. You seem to want a system where you don't have to convince the majority to advance your personal views of right and wrong.

2/3 of the voters are against closing Gitmo. Until you change that reality democratically elected leaders arn't going to be able to do much even if they agree with you. They can ae a public argument, which is what Obama has done, but they will have a difficult time making it policy.
posted by humanfont at 7:14 PM on April 25, 2011


humanfont:
Point 6 is troublesome because it amounts to indefinite detention in a nebulous conflict ("war on terror") that has no definite ending state. Point 5 could be taken as playing with words; "worthy of prosecution" doesn't mean that they ever will be prosecuted.

Additionally, the mere existence of the camp remains a huge blot on the U.S.'s human rights record. Things might be better under Obama, but resolving the situation would merely restore us to a moral zero-point. The situation remains that we are in a deficit when it comes to basic moral obligation. If you throw the rules out because they're inconvenient for you personally then you didn't think they were really rules to begin with.

2/3 of the voters are against closing Gitmo.

Yes, that's why it was such an unpopular stance when Obama ran on it.
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


They actually plan to prosecute 42 of the detainees via military tribunals. Holder wanted criminal trials in NY, but congress has forced a military tribunal. There will be some additional court rulings on the matter before the trials go forward.

Those included under my 6th point do receive a regular review of their status ( which is a new thing ordered by Obama). There is also a political appointee in charge of detainee affairs (Aka the shittiest job in DC, recreantly vacant iirc). It isn't quite as indefinite as you make it, but it is super complicated. Resolution of conflict isn't and end of the so called GWOT, it is more about holding them relative to a specific ongoing conflict such a the insurgency in the Yemeni tribal areas (vs the current revolution) and the ongoing conflict with the Tqliban in Afghanistan. It is very likely that a number of Afghans would go home as part of a peace deal with the Taliban. Some migth even be released as a part of a goodwill gesture at some point to enable negotiations.
posted by humanfont at 8:05 PM on April 25, 2011



Say what you want about Ironmouth, but at least he manages to make a decent case for himself in an often hostile environment day in and day out without falling back on combative and utterly thoughtless rejoinders like that.


People who disagree with me just have hurt feelings.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:59 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Compromise is what democracy looks like.

Who's talking about democracy? This whole topic is under the larger umbrella of politics, which also includes, at least, persuasion and capitulation. AFAIK none of this has been subject to democratic processes so far.

Furthermore, compromise must have limits, no? Lest we compromise democracy itself.
posted by rhizome at 9:46 PM on April 25, 2011


I'd just like to point out that Ironmouth posted 41 out of the 251 comments in this thread, yet he seemed to have only one thing to say.
No, it's not hopeless, but the 2012 US Presidential Election seems pretty straight forward: Barack vs some Republican, who will probably have a Republican Congress. Obama ain't perfect, but he's better than a one party rule.
What, are they the Nazis or something? Honestly I'm not even sure what would be so bad about that compared to the current situation where Obama just lets the republicans run things.

HCR was good, but as we've learned the president has no power over congress and HCR was a bill passed by congress, so Obama was totally irrelevant...
As Iron Mouth alluded to previously, we need a decent Congress to go along with a half way decent President ie mostly unified majorities in both chambers to work with a liberal President.
Except we had that for two years, and nothing happened. So sorry, now we know that isn't true. A democratic house and senate won't get us anything "good". It just won't happen. So why on earth expend energy in the hopes of getting one again? So they can sit on their ass some more? The fact that the Democrats were so ineffective is a big part of the reason they lost so badly in 2010. It wasn't that they were "too liberal" it was that the economy still sucked, due in large part to the lack of an adequate stimulus, due in turn to the inability to pass an appropriate package when Obama took office.
History tells us that Congress are bigger wimps than the President. It doesn't help to shellgame this by always looking to something else that is required. "Oh, I could vote for a different candidate, but Congress needs to change first!" "Oh sure, Congress might try to do something, but the President would just veto it." Yadda, yadda, just add Scalia/Ginsburg epithets. Textbook nihilism.
Yeah, they all hide behind each other's skirts and try to blame "the other side" for their compromises. It's almost like most people in congress are most interested in avoiding blame for the bills they pass then taking credit.
Compromise is what democracy looks like. You seem to want a system where you don't have to convince the majority to advance your personal views of right and wrong.
Again, one more time, the democrats HAD a majority and didn't do anything with it. Yet the democrats still tried to claim they were just powerless despite having a filibuster proof majority in the senate (as well the ability to change senate rules)

It isn't really that they were weak; it was that they were enacting the policies they actually wanted to enact. The 'we're too weak' stuff is just bullshit they sell to the base. People who believe it are idiots.
posted by delmoi at 9:59 PM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


delmoi: "What, are they the Nazis or something? Honestly I'm not even sure what would be so bad about that compared to the current situation where Obama just lets the republicans run things."

Just look at state government actions in places where Tea Partiers won last year. Wisconsin, Ohio, and many other states crippling unions. Florida selling off state parks and essentially legalizing bribery. Michigan un-electing local governments and replacing them with officials hand-picked by the governor. Slashing vital social programs to pay for humongous tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations, a move mirrored by the U.S. House. These people are determined to dismantle government, deregulate everything, and basically turn the clock back on the public-private balance by a century. They're not Nazis, but they're not interchangeable with Democratic lawmakers, either.

Brandon Blatcher: "As Iron Mouth alluded to previously, we need a decent Congress to go along with a half way decent President ie mostly unified majorities in both chambers to work with a liberal President."

delmoi: "Except we had that for two years, and nothing happened. So sorry, now we know that isn't true. "

*cough* the stimulus package that reinvested billions, the auto bailout that saved countless jobs, the end of DADT, the end of combat ops in Iraq, wall street reform, credit card reform, student loan reform, two supreme court justices *cough*

I should get that cough checked out. Thank goodness I have health insurance coverage, thanks to that landmark healthcare reform bill that didn't happen.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:19 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"2/3 of the voters are against closing Gitmo."
'Yes, that's why it was such an unpopular stance when Obama ran on it.'

When virtually the entire opposition party, plus 68 percent of independents, plus 42 percent of your own party oppose something you want to do, then you're in trouble.

Still - there was a majority of people against ending slavery in the U.S. For a while.
Of course that took a bloody civil war to straighten out.

And...“The president can’t just wave a magic wand to say that Gitmo will be closed,” said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking on a sensitive issue.

(the political reality was such that he felt he had to speak anonymously in opposition to a mini gulag and in giving a small demurring civics lesson.)

For individual detainees, things have changed. For "detainees" things have not essentially changed.
That is - trying detainees is an advance, yes. But it doesn't legitimacy given the mistreatment and legal snarl involving their detainment.
I would favor letting them go (given certain preconditions). (I am also in favor of cutting José Padilla loose. IANAL, but I like the 'remand' idea here (PDF). Same sort of deal.)

Remember John Walker Lindh? (calls himself Sulayman, I'm not likely to forget him)
The DOJ cut him a deal because some of the evidence against him might have been tainted by coercion. And this guy was 'well treated' (relative to the later order of the day).

(And I daresay most detainees would be cut loose if the stipulation at their trials was to eliminate any evidence which might have been gained through torture.)

So what changed?
Well, the Padilla case is really the hallmark there. I agree with humanfront on a number of things but things really are SNAFU because congress just doesn't want to deal with it and the Bush administration so deftly sidestepped the system of checks and balances.

The fact of the matter is if the detainees were cut loose (and after an actually legitimate trial how could they not be) most idiots would make a lot of money through their sponsors telling everyone how it's Obama's fault.

But it would be the fault of congress and the Bush administration.
Torture, sad enough to say, is just a symptom of what is a very serious, and apparently spreading, legal/foreign policy malady we have which became an inevitability when Bushco initiated this whole fiasco (I'd lump Iraq in there) and Congress kept forestalling change.

AQ already thinks we're corrupt hypocrites ('But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your faith, then fight the chiefs of disbelief for their oaths are nothing to them; that thus they may be restrained') and they're looking to act on it ("So the most important of the jihadi actions is the liquidation of their leaders, by murder and assassination." - if you haven't read Inspire from the AQAP, do yourself a favor. Bit unpalatable (it's agitprop), but it's worth a glance for the perspective shift. Also such gems as "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom" and how to clean your AK. Neat!)

Obama could be doing a swell job or he could be doing lousy. It doesn't matter in this regard.
What I will lay at his feet is that he did not treat this as the cancer it is. He should have taken the initiative once in office, taken the "Imperial Presidency" b.s. and rammed it down everyone's throats by unilaterally closing Gitmo (if the president does it it's not illegal/Unitary executive (fuck the courts) theory).
Though one could say some armchair quarterback things about Lincoln as well.
And would that have hurt us more? Dunno.
He could have used the election as a break and delineated the Bush administration as an aberration in a system that otherwise didn't celebrate arbitrary detainment and torture ordered by an ersatz King.
As it is he chose not to make radical course corrections. Maybe a good idea. We don't know what would have happened if he did. And indeed, he did remedy the situation for many detainees there.

But "detainees" remain a problem for the U.S. no matter the resolution of the individual detainees.
And why couldn't it happen again?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish I had the courage or the means to donate to WL.

They do have an shirt shop. I find a some of their designs a bit too edgy for my tastes but some of the simpler logos I like.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:48 PM on April 25, 2011


*cough* the stimulus package that reinvested billions, the auto bailout that saved countless jobs, the end of DADT, the end of combat ops in Iraq, wall street reform, credit card reform, student loan reform, two supreme court justices *cough*

Most of those items are not things Obama can take much credit for. Getting two justices appointed would have likely had to happen, regardless of who was in office. Obama directed his Justice Department staff to fight the repeal of DADT tooth and nail, at every step, when he could have stepped out of the way. Most of the economic packages were a continuation of bailouts started under the Bush administration, as evidenced by nearly all of the same people keeping their jobs who lead those bailouts, when Obama took office.

I should get that cough checked out. Thank goodness I have health insurance coverage, thanks to that landmark healthcare reform bill that didn't happen.

Ensuring a captive market is just corporate welfare for health insurance companies. I would save the word "landmark" for reforms on the scale of a Social Insurance Act or the like.

But as far as this thread goes, none of this is here or there. Through words and — more importantly — his actions, President Obama supported the torture of terrorism suspects, and he continues to support the incarceration and torture of whistleblowers who expose it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course he can't take all the credit. But delmoi was responding to the statement that we need a reasonably liberal House, Senate, *and* president to get reasonably liberal legislation passed.

Credit for the things I mentioned is hard to assign precisely, and it's arguable how much Obama contributed to them or how much more he could have done. But saying that nothing was accomplished by the president and Congress from 2008 through 2010 is absurd hyperbole.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:40 PM on April 25, 2011


We Will Oppose Obama As Long As He Supports War

...

The Obama administration has announced plans to form an army of mercenary troops from private military contractors in Iraq which is to have its own air force and its own fleet of mine-resistant military vehicles. The plan includes continued contracts with the company formerly called Blackwater, despite the knowledge that it was guilty of atrocities against civilians in that country, and despite the openly declared opposition of the Iraqi government to such a continued role.

...

President Obama has not closed the prison at Guantanamo Bay and continues to maintain a network of detention facilities in Afghanistan through which prisoners, according to the most recent information available, are still being subjected to harsh treatment. He has claimed the right to imprison people, including American citizens, indefinitely without charge or trial, thus further cementing in place the elimination of the rights of prisoners of war and the elimination of the right of habeas corpus for anyone, as well as the rights found in the Fourth through Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The President has claimed the power of rendition. His CIA Director Leon Panetta and his senior advisor David Axelrod have asserted, without correction by the President, that the President maintains the power to torture. In the recent case of Gulet Mohamed, the Obama administration, for a time, claimed the power to forbid an American to reenter the country, absent any conviction or even any charge of a crime, and apparently collaborated with Kuwait to torture that American. The President has also openly claimed the power to order the assassination of Americans abroad. In Iraq, the U.S. military has continued to work with and protect from accountability an Iraqi military that is known to regularly use torture.

...

President Obama, in direct violation of the Nuremberg Charter, a U.S. treaty commitment, has publicly instructed his Attorney General not to prosecute individuals responsible for crimes, including torture. His administration has worked hard to provide retroactive immunity to corporations engaged in warrantless spying and individuals engaged in sanctioning torture. He has kept secret a vast trove of documents, photos, and videos pertaining to prisoner abuse. He has advanced unprecedented claims of secrecy powers in defending the crimes of his predecessor. President Obama's White House has put great pressure on European states not to investigate or prosecute U.S. war crimes.

This president has restricted the release of the names of White House visitors and has pursued the prosecution and punishment of government whistleblowers more aggressively than any previous president. His administration is responsible for the cruel and unusual lengthy confinement in a 6' by 12' cell, prior to any trial, of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning. His vice president, Joe Biden, has publicly labeled an Australian journalist, Julian Assange, a "terrorist." President Obama has used a private propaganda firm that had been exposed planting lies in Iraqi media, to screen potential embedded reporters for coverage of the U.S. military. He has used the military to restrict reporting by American journalists on an oil spill in American waters.

...

We are not concerned with whether President Obama is acting enthusiastically or reluctantly in pursuing a militaristic policy abroad and more repression of dissent at home. It matters little whether he is submitting to powerful forces or freely following his preferred course. We do not elect his soldiers or spies, his advisors, his campaign funders, or the owners of our major media outlets. We elect the president. We will not support his nomination for another term, and we believe that a large proportion of Americans who voted for him in 2008 will not do so again unless he reverses the most egregious policies to which we have referred -- especially by taking decisive steps to end the war on Afghanistan and to make deep cuts in the military and war budgets.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yet the democrats still tried to claim they were just powerless despite having a filibuster proof majority in the senate (as well the ability to change senate rules)

Really? With Lieberman?

You really think Joe Lieberman is on board with Obama's program re: Gitmo?

You are smoking the crack.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:47 PM on April 25, 2011


Part of the problem is that the 'negotiation' or whatever that went on was so opaque. Obama has never public-ally said he tried to close Gitmo and failed, instead what we have is anonymously sourced spin, the accuracy of which is impossible to determine. Same thing with HCR. The claim is that the public option couldn't pass, then at the end of the debate there was actually an opportunity to pass it with 50 senate votes, and suddenly people got cold feet for some reasons. And then all of a sudden people started (falsely) claiming that they needed 60 votes, bla bla bla.

And of course whatever is going on between Obama and who ever is defending Gitmo is even more opaque.

Ironmouth: I'm not even going to bother responding. Obama didn't need to pass a bill to close gitmo, all he had to do was prevent a bill with the funding restriction from passing. That only takes 40 senate votes, not 60. (and in fact I still haven't seen anyone point to what actual law prevent the money from being spent in 2010, as far as I know that was just in FY2009)
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hundreds of liberal activists pledge to oppose Obama in 2012

...

But Swanson said he and the petitioners rejected the view that liberal activists should settle for flawed Democratic candidates and instead focus their resources on attacking Republicans.

"I think if you're going to eliminate the use of party primaries to advance your interests, hold your nose for two full years, and then vote for someone who is against almost everything you stand for, but is just not as bad as somebody else, then you've really given up on democracy," he said.

"We ought to think of this more in terms of pressuring elected officials to improve where they are, to move in the right direction."

Swanson has over the last decade served as a spokesman for Kucinich and progressive entities such as the AFL-CIO affiliated International Labor Communications Association, ACORN, and more recently a campaign called StopTheChamber.com.

He added that there's something "incredibly dishonest" about criticizing President George W. Bush's war and military policies without applying those same standards to Obama.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What, are they the Nazis or something? Honestly I'm not even sure what would be so bad about that compared to the current situation where Obama just lets the republicans run things.

They may not literally be Nazis, but they are indeed very bad right now. The whole Nader business from back in 2000 has most people afraid to even vote independent.
posted by JHarris at 12:33 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "Except we had that for two years, and nothing happened. So sorry, now we know that isn't true. "

we had nothing like the majorities that FDR had, that was my point.

Look, it's been explained to you multiple times that having 60 Democrats in the Senate wasn't the majority it looked like. I don't know why you can't get that point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:55 AM on April 26, 2011


Are you suggesting that McCain would have appointed liberal justices like Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the court had he won the election, or would we have two more Thomas clones?

I'm not even going to bother responding. Obama didn't need to pass a bill to close gitmo, all he had to do was prevent a bill with the funding restriction from passing. That only takes 40 senate votes, not 60.

Who were the 40 votes? The vote in the Senate to block funds for closure was 90-6.

Obama has never public-ally said he tried to close Gitmo and failed

You are wrong. Here is the speech he gave while trying to keep his plan to close Gitmo in track
posted by humanfont at 4:03 AM on April 26, 2011


Let me get this straight.

You think, so as not to appear too socialisty and to give himself a chance in the 2012 election Obama has had to compromise on the whole gulags and kleptocracy thing.

I suppose when he said this he was explaining how much he still loved you and it's just a difficult time right now and he'll tell her soon.
posted by fullerine at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2011


They may not literally be Nazis, but they are indeed very bad right now. The whole Nader business from back in 2000 has most people afraid to even vote independent.

This. Really. Much, much worse than many on the self-identifying left seem capable of understanding.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on April 26, 2011


The whole Nader business from back in 2000 has most people afraid to even vote independent.

As I remember things "back then" - Gore did get enough votes - if they had been counted.

So, exactly, how did "the whole Nader business" have a damn thing to do with how that went down?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2011


& how is a protest march a wet dream for right wing survivalist nutjobs? If you really believe it will result in a more oppressive government / police state / whatever, then I recommend examining what you truly think about the American government because on the face of it, it seems already to far gone to save from that point of view.

I think we are saying it won't have the effect you intend and will throw us back. Right now, they aren't coming at us with water cannons. That's what makes protests work--disproportionate response to peaceful action.

Right now, our slow organizing is getting it done. Think of it--DADT repealed by full-on vote, a new health care system that will reduce costs, increase coverage and is revenue neutral. Wall street reform, credit card reform.

Why do we have those things? Because we changed opinions. Gays are much more accepted now. Christ, the country favors gay marriage! In 2004 Rove used it as a wedge. Now it is our wedge. Why did those things happen? Because we changed the climate.

Obama tried to do this with this issue. But he misread the electorate. They are not ready. Hence, their representatives are not ready. So we continue our slow push. This is how we win. It isn't a TV show and it will hurt as much as feel good. Why does everyone think this was gonna be an easy job?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


he tried to close Gitmo and failed

And the option of drafting some paper that says "On date X all troops get on a plane/boat/magic carpet and leave" is not a technological possibility?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:46 AM on April 26, 2011


I'll admit that Nader is a mistake. Not only because of the direct results of the 2000 election, but because Democratic circles are now paranoid to the point of active evil when it comes to criticism of government policy.

You won. 90% of liberals will vote for a ham sandwich on election day if it's under a Democratic ticket. Non-voting liberals have not been a statistical blip since then, while FOX news and the Republican party win millions of votes by sowing FUD among moderates who outnumber us 2-1.

It's evil for two reasons. It's evil first because you not only want to sit on your own hands in response human-rights violations, you want to tie those of others in the name of party unity. And it's evil because you're going to loose the election abusing a vanishingly small number of ideological stalwarts rather than trying to sell liberal politics to a larger voting block.

Which you know is how we won 2006 and 2008, but it's not about winning, is it? If it was, you'd put your money where your mouth is and actually start organizing.

I think we are saying it won't have the effect you intend and will throw us back.

It didn't seem to hurt Republicans to have hundreds of protests happen in 09 and 10.

Right now, our slow organizing is getting it done. Think of it--DADT repealed by full-on vote,...

I'd say that continual and active protest on DADT was essential to repeal here. It certainly was praised by Obama in his speech to the HRC.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2011


This. Really. Much, much worse than many on the self-identifying left seem capable of understanding.

What we understand is that currently there is little effective difference in the foreign policy aims of Democrats and Republicans. So why pick the center-right Democrats? Sure, the Democrats are miles ahead in internal affairs. But what kind of person trades torture and murder and war for making their own lives a little bit better?
posted by notion at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole Nader business from back in 2000 has most people afraid to even vote independent.

As I remember things "back then" - Gore did get enough votes - if they had been counted.

So, exactly, how did "the whole Nader business" have a damn thing to do with how that went down?


If Gore had a significant percentage of those votes, then he would have had a lead of 10,000 rather than trailing by 500. They would have been trailing and fighting for a recount. Its often a commanding position. The SC would not have intervened. We would have won. Nader sucked enough oxygen from Gore to sink him.

We don't live in a perfect world. That means the candidates are approximations, compromises. That is the price of democracy.

There was a time liberals were a bigger part of the electorate. There was no whining about alternative vote systems, because we had the votes. We don't have the votes now. We have to work back up. It is gonna be hard, hard work. Know how they got back on top? They worked their ass off and implemented the "California Rule" "Thou shalt not criticize another Republican." And they united and got back in the game. We unite for 10 minutes before people start trying to stab people in the back. Why can't we do what wins, get a huge majority and get things through.

And I ask everyone who thinks we had a huge majority when Obama came in to look at the titanic majority that FDR had and compare it to the one Obama had. 75% of the House! And let's get it straight. We did not win 60 votes in the Senate, we won 57. One independent socialist joined with us, one "independent Democrat"who endorsed the other party's candidate for president joined us, and a Republican switched sides. That"s a weak right wing that needs constant shoring up, not a titanic, bloc that is unbeatable. 61 would have changed things. We didn't have that.

So we have two choices, a suicide charge or picking our battles. I'm there for picking our battles.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2011


But what kind of person trades torture and murder and war for making their own lives a little bit better?

Errr, most of humanity over history?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Errr, most of humanity over history?

Exactly. I'd like to be part of something a little more lofty than maintaining the status quo of depraved human behavior.
posted by notion at 8:04 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


We would have won.

"we"? What is this we thing kemosabi? Do you have a turd in your pocket and want to share?

Nader sucked enough oxygen from Gore to sink him.

And yet, in the end, Gore had more votes.

Or is that up for dispute?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the alternative were a party that didn't actually initiate and still fully, unapologetically embrace torture as a legitimate political tool, then you might be able to convince me of something. But make no mistake: You might think the Obama administration hasn't done enough to make amends for the torture policies of the right, or to punish those responsible, but it has not embraced torture and has in policy repudiated it--and the right still wants to take those policies further and makes no bones about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:08 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it's not about me, personally. I'm talking about all the people who suffer under Republican rule as basic government services and social safety nets are destroyed, and as hardworking career civil servants see their careers and life's work destroyed because they happened to get caught in the middle of the political power plays and personal vendettas that characterize Republican politics. Everyone's human dignity counts, whether in the US or abroad.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:13 AM on April 26, 2011


In response to Saulgoodman at 808 AM

"But the other side has hairy knuckles and drags them when they walk!"
posted by rough ashlar at 8:15 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth If we take your advice and never, ever, criticize a Democrat, how are we supposed to actually get things done or get the policies we want implemented?

The reason the right is big has nothing to do with Reagan's 11th Commandment, and everything to do with Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, etc pulling the national zeitgeist to the right. They criticize Republicans all the damn time, for failing to be sufficiently right wing.

We don't need to present a united front behind anyone, no matter how right wing, who calls themselves a Democrat. We need to build a liberal Tea Party equivalent backed by liberal versions of Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, etc, and start dragging the zeitgeist to the left.

I don't see how we can accomplish the goal of making American politics more liberal if we embrace the philosophy that anyone, regardless of whether they embrace liberal policy, in the Democratic party is automatically immune from criticism.

Enlighten me please. Under your proposal what is the mechanism that will cause the (never criticized) Democratic party to shift to the left and begin implementing liberal policy?
posted by sotonohito at 8:23 AM on April 26, 2011


Ironmouth: We don't have the votes now. We have to work back up. It is gonna be hard, hard work.

Yes, how is being a complete asshole to Democratic voters working for you?

We unite for 10 minutes before people start trying to stab people in the back.

So stop doing it!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:28 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the alternative were a party that didn't actually initiate and still fully, unapologetically embrace torture as a legitimate political tool, then you might be able to convince me of something. But make no mistake: You might think the Obama administration hasn't done enough to make amends for the torture policies of the right, or to punish those responsible, but it has not embraced torture and has in policy repudiated it--and the right still wants to take those policies further and makes no bones about it.

The Obama Administration has prosecuted no one important for torture, and has publicly stated that they have no intention of doing so. This is a carbon copy of the Bush Administration policy. Sure, Obama issued a directive saying that the torture should stop, but it's still going on in CIA black sites. I don't care about rhetoric. I care about reality.

The point being, if we're going to have a foreign policy that contains torture and murder and war, let's stop pretending. I'd rather have Republicans saying what they are going to do and then doing it instead of Democrats who pretend that they are different but are exactly the same.

Everyone's human dignity counts, whether in the US or abroad.

Killing innocent civilians in another sovereign country and a person having their life's work destroyed are two different universes of wrong.
posted by notion at 8:31 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


And for fucks sake, demanding that our elected representatives act in our best interest is part of the fucking political process. Unless everything from the Declaration of Independence to Schoolhouse Rock was lying to me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:37 AM on April 26, 2011


Unless everything from the Declaration of Independence to Schoolhouse Rock was lying to me.

Oh, and extend that to include many of Obama's speeches.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2011


The problem with "demanding that our elected representatives act in our best interest" is that they are and you want them to stop. At least in terms of the US representational system the government is doing what the majority of the people want it to do (i.e. not close Guantanamo in this instance).

Obviously they're morally wrong and reprehensible, I'm with you. But you and I and all of mefi don't override Congress. And while they're wrong and in the majority we have to pick our battles to things that are winnable.
posted by Skorgu at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2011


Skorgu: I can say with complete confidence that the only reason that the DADT repeal stayed alive in congress for three years starting with Bush was because citizens and political groups kept pressure on congress for it. Meanwhile, you don't build a majority around an issue by washing your hands of it and pretending it doesn't exist until a more convenient season. The interests of democracy are not served by silent acceptance.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"But the other side has hairy knuckles and drags them when they walk!"

The political apparatus of the Republican party from what I've seen personally really is a very nasty machine. You can view this as partisan hyperbole if you want, but my own direct experiences with that nastiness remain one of the biggest reasons I'm a partisan at all. Republican voters are a different matter, to be fair. I fully appreciate that they aren't all evil or knuckle-dragging cavemen. But the actual political operatives and elected officials on the Republican side are in general a whole 'nother level of bad in my experience working close to them, and I really want to impress on you and others that remains skeptical how strongly I believe that.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:15 AM on April 26, 2011


The detention sites you refer to are temporary and all available evidence is that the administration's claims--that any detainees held there are held only temporarily before transfer to permanent facilities--are true. Hell, what we know about the facilities comes from detainees that have since been transferred to permanent facilities, and no one has even claimed that there are detainees being held beyond a few weeks in these facilities; and the treatment described by those former detainees is substantially less harsh than the brutality that characterized the detention system under the previous administration. Even human rights activists with an interest in taking a critical eye of these kinds of policies readily concede that practices like water-boarding and other more severe forms of physical abuse are no longer occurring. And the administration has issued several executive orders--the most powerful legal mechanism directly available for the president to set policy--clarifying that interrogations cannot be conducted using the so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques Bush and Cheney implemented.

From the very article you cited:
Human rights advocates say the severest of the Bush-era interrogation methods are gone, but the conditions at the new interrogation sites still raise questions. Obama pledged when he took office that the United States would not torture anyone, but former detainees describe harsh treatment that some human rights groups claim borders on inhumane.

More than a dozen former detainees claimed they were menaced and held for weeks at the Joint Special Operations Command site last year, forced to strip naked, then kept in solitary confinement in windowless, often cold cells with lights on 24 hours a day, according to Daphne Eviatar of the group Human Rights First, which interviewed them in Afghanistan.
There are no credible human rights groups that don't acknowledge there have been improvements in these areas under Obama; the only complaint is that the improvements haven't gone far enough, and that the potential for abuses still exists. I don't mean to say Mission Accomplished, by any stretch. But the only present political alternative in the US is the political faction that still to this day rejects the very premise that torture and the other egregious human rights violations of the Bush administration were immoral--a faction that still publicly argues that we didn't go far enough.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2011


Ironmouth If we take your advice and never, ever, criticize a Democrat, how are we supposed to actually get things done or get the policies we want implemented?

Build a fucking majority of your people. You guys never have the votes. Ever. And when its pointed out, you whine that somebody else should have done it for you, or the system isn't fair. You've got a snowball's chance in hell in putting a parliamentary democracy in here. Literally. You know, titanic liberal legislation was passed in the past. You know how they did it? Huge fucking majorities. Not 57 senators. 75. Organize to win. 19% of Americans self-ID as liberals, 42% as conservatives. Turn that number over. Put a shitload of liberals in there. That's how they fucking do it! Why can't you try and win for once? I support 90% of what you want, but on the day of the whip count, I know the votes aren't there. You will have to convince fellow Americans to be liberals again by showing you have got the policies that will help them. Stop waiting for daddy to change the rules.

Take this issue, for example. Have you seen the polling? 2-1 against closing Gitmo. 2-1! 3-1 against bringing Gitmo detainees here!

Why the fuck aren't you out there attacking the Ryan budget? That affects people in their daily lives! That will have a titanic impact on everyone! Yet we sit here arguing about this useless issue that we are getting crushed in the public square on. Our fellow citizens disagree with us in huge numbers on this. What in the fuck has anyone desperately into this issue done to move John Q. Public on it? You want the President to do it? Give him the majority he needs to do it. Over 90 senators voted cloture on the defund bill. You got a long way to go.

This is America, you need the goddamn votes. Get cracking, stop asking other people to do the work for you and get the votes out there. Obama went out on a limb, beyond the polling and got whipped. Now you want him to go again? Give him the majority,
posted by Ironmouth at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2011


saulgoodman As it happens I agree completely with that assessment. The Republicans really are that bad, and despite my vocal objections to what I see as Obama both embracing the nastier parts of the Republican agenda and capitulating even when he doesn't wholeheartedly agree with their evil I also completely agree that the real Republicans are demonstrably, measurably, worse than even our current generation of extreme right wing Democrats (though I note that today's Democrats are basically 1990's Republicans).

Unfortunately that's not a very convincing argument for most people. I'm a political junkie. I gripe and kvetch, and I'll vote against Obama in the primary, but I'll vote for him in the general. Same as I'll vote pretty much straight ticket Democrat even though my district is so Republican they'd probably elect an admitted member of Al Qaeda as long as he was registered Republican.

Problem is that most voters aren't political junkies. Threatening them with the fact that the Republicans are worse isn't what I'd call a reliable way to motivate them to vote Democrat. People want to vote **FOR** something, not just against getting jerked around even harder than the Democrats will jerk them around.

Notice that the Republicans never try to convince their base to get out and vote by trumpeting their accomplishments. In part I think that's because if they did brag about what they really did their base would recoil in horror, but mainly its because the Republicans fundamentally get it. The average voter doesn't want a mealy mouthed compromiser who looks at the polls before saying anything. They want a big daddy figure who is decisive and actually stands for something.

We laughed and mocked Bush jr's "I'm the decider" line, but it resonated with a lot of people. Regardless of the reality of Bush and his decision process he successfully projected the image of a bold man who did what he thought was right regardless.

Obama, with his broken promises to do something about torture, his later capitulation on the issue, his BS about trying but failing to close Guantanamo, his back and forth on gay rights, etc projects the image of a loser who doesn't stand for anything.

Whether or not that is the reality of the situation is irrelevant. You can argue that Obama really and truly does stand for stuff, but he has failed to demonstrate that fact to the great unwashed masses.

We've got a political media that is strongly right wing, mainly out of fear of being labeled as the "liberal media". We've got a Left that staunchly refuses to actually support and back people trying to move the Overton window to the left (who hates Michael Moore more, the right or the backstabbing left?). We've got a political party that is ostensibly liberal but which has decided that the best way to do things is to denigrate and insult the left as much as possible, and which never seems to actually take a stand on anything.

The Right has everything we don't. They've got a compliant media, they've got a vocal and aggressive group of commentator/leaders (ie: Limbaugh types), they've got a crazy right wing branch who shifts the Overton window even more than their commentator/leaders (the Tea Party), etc. We need that too. Otherwise we're always fighting desperate battles merely to preserve the status quo.

This is not a recipe for success.

The Republicans run the nation into the ground, because that's basically their agenda, and after 10 or so years of getting jerked around hard by the Republicans the electorate decides to give the Democrats another shot. That's what happened in 2008. It wasn't so much that the Democrats presented a great agenda with great candidates, but mainly that the populous was tired of Bush jr.

And then the Democrats remind the American people why they don't vote for them except as a last resort. Because they don't stand for anything. The Republicans stand for something; it's something bad but at least it's something.

What, exactly, do the Democrats stand for? What do they bring as a positive? "Vote for me, the other guy is whole lot worse!" is not a slogan that gets a lot of enthusiasm.
posted by sotonohito at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder gays serving openly has been a majority opinion for years. That's not enough to make it happen in Congress of course and that's what the GLBT groups have been doing but it's a far cry from the approval numbers we see for Gitmo.
posted by Skorgu at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2011


Daniel Ellsberg: Bradley Manning Charges Should Be Dismissed After Obama Declares Accused Army Whistleblower "Broke The Law"
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth I meant, how are we supposed to build a majority if we take your advice and never criticize a Democrat?
posted by sotonohito at 10:09 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: This is America, you need the goddamn votes.

Yes, and how is hypocritically attacking Democrats and Democratic voters doing it for you? Personally, I have trouble taking anything you say as honest given that you appear to be doing your damned best to turn Democratic politics into an circular firing squad of failure. Human rights supporters are not your enemy, stop treating us as such.

Skorgu: KirkJobSluder gays serving openly has been a majority opinion for years. That's not enough to make it happen in Congress of course and that's what the GLBT groups have been doing but it's a far cry from the approval numbers we see for Gitmo.

How do we change the approval numbers on Gitmo if we don't fight to change them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:17 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth I meant, how are we supposed to build a majority if we take your advice and never criticize a Democrat?

I'm not saying never</em ever criticize a dem. I'm saying get smart about it. Christ, saying Obama is the same as a republican? Accusing him of waterboarding and torture? You know that "torture" claim up there? It was leaving the lights on all night. Even the lady making the claims would not go as far as the poster would.

Who is this helping? How is this moving us towards any useful agenda? I don't see how at all. When Glenn Beck says Huckabee is a socialist, is he really helping him?

Plus pick your battles and play it straight. Grialjava's progressive budget? Didn't score it with OMB, relied on friendly think tank numbers. Same as Paul Ryan. The Admin's budget was scored.

Third, don't constantly accuse your opponents of bad faith. I'm just saying your assumptions are unrealistic, that's all. Yet Obama is accused of not really caring about the issue! He put it in his inagural speech! Citizens notice when you do that and they think less of our party and our movement when we do that.

Fourth be patient. Doing big things takes time. When you jump the gun and go off on the purity patrol it turns voters off. Independents seem to like clear thinking and consistency more than anything else. When DADT repeal started, people accused the President of selling out because he was going to do a study first. The study was needed and he needed to sell the plan. But everyone was so convinced it was a sellout. What happened? Motherfucker crushed them on the issue. Wiped the floor with them. DADT is the law of the land. They gotta vote it out.

Fifth, realize that the purity patrol hurts the GOP long-term. We aren't being strong by doing it. We are weakening ourselves.

Finally, have a bit of confidence it will all work out. Voters love it as noted upthread.

posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 AM on April 26, 2011


Whoohoo! We have a classic "do as I say, not as I do."

Nothing says, "purity patrol" to me like, "thou shalt not criticize Democrats."

Plus pick your battles and play it straight.

Why is attacking voters for having principles a worthy battle for you to fight? But silly me, there's 130+ million voters in the United States, and some of us can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can also support better treatment for prisoners and detainees and criticize the budget.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2011


How do we change the approval numbers on Gitmo if we don't fight to change them.

You don't change those numbers by attacking the President. How does the public get on board when you attack the guy who said do this thing? They think we are the keystone cops.

Tell your neighbors and friends this is important to you. Limit your ideas to a few, simple saleable concepts, like we should try these guys in our courts. And be respectful of their opinions while trying to change them.

Long, slow slog wins the political race. Took MLK many years. Many years. DADT repeal took years. DADT itself was an intermediate step.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:50 AM on April 26, 2011


Why is attacking voters for having principles a worthy battle for you to fight?

We're disagreeing with the idea that your approach of attacking the President is the right approach. We need the votes first. Polling shows we do not have the support in the electorate. That's why 90+ senators voted for cloture on this. You need some friends and neighbors work. Stop demanding that the President take ridiculous and unprofitable risks on this issue. He took the risk. The electorate did not support him. This kind of stuff puts us in a bad position and does not help those affected. You only have X number of hours in the day, no? Fighting on the budget should be our no 1 priority. It reminds voters how we are right on a whole bunch of things.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2011


A survey-driven future? I'm more of the mind that you *take* votes first. Starve both sides toward alternative candidates until sometime in the future where there has to be a fucking run-off for President. Wolf Blitzer will shit gold Twinkies once both major parties don't get more than 40% apiece.
posted by rhizome at 11:32 AM on April 26, 2011


Ironmouth: Here's the simple calculus to lay it out for you:

1: The detention and treatment of people currently in the custody of the Executive branch of government is a human rights problem.
2: Pointing out that this is a problem is a criticism of the POTUS who's ultimately responsible for the prosecution and treatment of those people.
3: This problem isn't going to go away by washing our hands of it and pretending it shouldn't exist.

I don't see an avenue for creating change on this problem that doesn't involve continually pointing out that it still is a problem for both the POTUS and Congress.

Your solution is EXACTLY the one criticized by MLK as more frustrating than the Klan. Given that, your attempt to appropriate him is just as much phony bullshit as Glenn Beck's.

Every single human-rights issue in the United States was advanced by people who refused to wait for a "more convenient season" or the votes. Not slavery, not sufferage, not civil rights, not women's rights, not gay rights. Every single one had unpopular people shining a light on the problem until it changed for the better.

There's 23 million voting Liberals in the United States. We don't all have to work on the same thing. If you think the budget is important, make your own FPP. Don't thread-shit on this one by attacking human-rights advocates for addressing human-rights problems.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:41 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Starve both sides toward alternative candidates until sometime in the future where there has to be a fucking run-off for President.

This too. If you want to be taken seriously, know the facts. There is no procedure in which there is a "runoff" for President.

"The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. "
posted by Ironmouth at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2011


Well, here's some good news on a side issue regarding Bush admin whistle-blower prosecutions:

The Justice Department has dropped its investigation into a former department attorney who tipped off the media about the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the strategy here of advancing human-rights issues by attacking voters who are early adopters on it, almost all of whom will vote for Obama next year, just doesn't make a lick of sense to me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:45 AM on April 26, 2011


Every single one had unpopular people shining a light on the problem until it changed for the better.

I don't agree with this characterization. In most cases, these changes came about because there were very popular and charismatic populist leaders who organized large masses of people into carrying out carefully conceived and coordinated direct actions like the Montgomery bus boycotts or the many labor strikes of the 20s. And in Wisconsin, direct action has for now at least held up the implementation of Republican plans to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers. As far as I know, gossiping and infighting have not effected any major reforms in recent history; promoting solidarity, constructive engagement and meaningful direct action have a much better track record.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:55 AM on April 26, 2011


saulgoodman: I don't entirely disagree with you, but in most cases that charismatic direct action was the culmination of decades of hard work by largely unsung activists.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2011


And it is a good point so I'm going to leave it here and put in a donation to Amnesty International, which is probably going to be more productive and satisfying than having this argument again.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:12 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder from my point of view there's a real, immediate and predictable consequence to any action that increases the chances of Republicans winning elections. Getting better candidates to run is a great idea but it's too nebulous right now to displace that real, immediate harm.

So I'm totally 100% in sync that we need to hold everyone's feet to the fire and we should be fighting for human rights and we do need to bitch out Democrats. But we should bitch them out and then vote for them anyway. And yes, I'll join you in an Amnesty donation.
posted by Skorgu at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2011


*If you want to be taken seriously, know the facts. There is no procedure in which there is a "runoff" for President.*

Well la de da, that wasn't my point and it isn't important. Wolf Blitzer shitting gold Twinkies is. Trees, meet forest.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


dangit, wrong markup.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on April 26, 2011


So, exactly, how did 'the whole Nader business' have a damn thing to do with how that went down?

According to the Florida Department of State election results for president in the 2000 election, Bush beat Gore by 537 votes, 2,912,790 votes to 2,912,253. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. If less than 1% of Nader voters had voted for Gore, Gore would have won Florida, and the election.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:37 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


1: The detention and treatment of people currently in the custody of the Executive branch of government is a human rights problem.
2: Pointing out that this is a problem is a criticism of the POTUS who's ultimately responsible for the prosecution and treatment of those people.
3: This problem isn't going to go away by washing our hands of it and pretending it shouldn't exist.


Nor is it going to be solved by refusing to differentiate between a problem that's getting worse and one that's getting better.

And in Wisconsin, direct action has for now at least held up the implementation of Republican plans to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers.

No it hasn't. A court order enjoining the implementation is what held it up, and that was issued as the result of someone filing suit, not out of judicial enthusiasm stimulated by people banging on saucepans and blowing vuvuzelas.

Direct action is good for one thing: getting some cameras to show up and ensuring the issue is covered in the evening news or the next day's papers or on blogs. Direct action does not, by itself, bring about change; it just advertises the demand for it. Too much emphasis on the advertising can end up obscuring the substantive issue, or even become counter-productive. It had absolutely zero effect on the court's decision to enjoin the legislative abolition of collective bargaining, which was based on explicit rules of procedure in the Wisconsin constitution, rules from which the right wingers have been working overtime to distract attention.

By inaccurately attributing the holdup to 'direct action,' you're assisting Governor Walker by writing his narrative for him, and making it into a story about a mob thwarting elected officials who were trying to do the state's business. We don't govern by acclamation or mob rule, which is just as well because otherwise there'd be a lot more Tea Party Policy in the statute books. While public protest is an entirely valid form of political activity, the actual governance takes place through a a democratically elected legislature which is them implemented by an executive, subject to judicial review. It's the 'judicial review' part of the process that has stymied the Governor's plans for the time being.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Direct action is good for one thing: getting some cameras to show up and ensuring the issue is covered in the evening news or the next day's papers or on blogs.

That's absurd. Direct action--in the literal sense of forcing an outcome you want by civil disobedience, whether that outcome is preventing a corporate board from voting on something shutting down mining operations at great expense to the owners or keeping the operators of a bus system from collecting the revenues they count on to operate can and demonstrably has affected serious political change. The Wisconsin action made life really inconvenient for a lot of politicians, and in the process, made it impossible for them to ignore the controversy surrounding the way the legislation was passed. If the Dems in Wisconsin hadn't had the crowds at their back, it would have made it much more politically convenient to yield to their opposition quickly. You may be right about the direct connection in this case between the action in Wisconsin and the judicial outcome that prevented the law from going into effect, but there's no doubt it played a crucial role in my mind. At the very least, the difficulties Wisconsin lawmakers encountered in actually getting into chambers to pass the bill forced the legal error that made the appeal possible.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:40 PM on April 26, 2011


If lawmakers hadn't been forced by the direct action at the capitol, in other words, to try to ram their rights-stripping legislation through in a way that violated Wisconsin public meetings law, there would have been no legal decision against the law, period. If you can't see that, you're just blinded by your own anti-populist attitudes.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2011


Skorgu: KirkJobSluder from my point of view there's a real, immediate and predictable consequence to any action that increases the chances of Republicans winning elections.

So stop doing it. "Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this!" "Then don't do that." You want Democratic voters, stop attacking them.

But we should bitch them out and then vote for them anyway.

Well you know, I'm looking at election records and exit polls for the last 10 years, and I'm seeing the left with 90% party loyalty in election after election, and in the few states where the Greens do get on the ballot they come in 5th after the Libertarians and Constitution party.

That's the ugly tail of the Rogers' curve. It's a tiny slice of the voting pool, and one that's least likely to change their minds, especially if you're going to insist on muzzling them anyway. If you want them on your team, stop attacking and do some coalition building. You know, the stuff that Obama used to build his campaign. Or kiss them goodbye into irrelevancy because they'll have about the same effect on the election as hangovers, influenza, and bad headaches.

But it gets annoying to see the pathetic and irrelevant ghost of Nader get used to derail just about every criticism of the President or Congress with a shitload of friendly fire. Most of us can walk and chew gum you know.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2011


And from my perspective any form of political morality that makes excuses for government officials in the chain of command for human rights abuses while attacking individual voters for expressing an opinion about those abuses is exactly ass-backwards.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:54 PM on April 26, 2011


Again, the majority of the voters either approve of or don't care about human rights abuses so yeah, I've got a bone to pick with the voters.
posted by Skorgu at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2011


Here's what my problem with Obama, Ironmouth, etc basically boils down to.

Torture is going in in my name.

People are being held, forever, without trials charges or ever even seeing a real judge in my name.

People are being bombed, shot, maimed, crippled, and killed for absolutely no reason at all, in my name.

Every day that I don't grab a gun and take direct, violent, action to end the evils being perpetuated by the government of the United States of America makes me feel dirty, as if I were betraying the principles I espouse by cowardice. If I really believed that torture was the evil I claim it is, I'd be out killing the evil scum doing the torture not merely talking online.

I question whether my failure to take that course of action is cowardice on my part, or simple acknowledgement that I can't actually accomplish anything via direct action.

What drives me to incandescent fury is this:

Obama does have the power to do effective things to end the evils, even if it is just using the office of the presidency as a bully pulpit. And he does nothing. he made one very weak and utterly cowardly effort to "close Guantanamo" by moving the whole vile, extra-legal, contraption to America instead of keeping it in Cuba. After this pathetic and utterly inadequate gesture towards doing the right thing was shot down by Congress that was the end of his efforts. He has made no speeches, he has not pushed for it, he has even gone so far as to regularize the entire evil enterprise via an executive order lauded by Karl Rove as validating Bush jr's policy.

I'm in existential crisis over the fact that I'm not shooting CIA torturers, and Obama (who is in a position to do something truly effective) is busy regularizing the very evils he promised to eradicate. And worse, actively protecting the torturers by promising that there will never be even a truth commission, much less prosecution for their crimes.

How can I possibly refrain from criticizing him? It's going to be stomach turning just to vote for him again in 2012. I damn sure won't be able to campaign for him or donate the way I did in 2008.

And what drives me to incandescence here is that Ironmouth et al don't even acknowledge that I've got a legitimate beef. To them the gut wrenching evil that Obama is perpetuating is, apparently, just a minor policy issue. Something on par with tax issues or other minutia.

He tried, so I'm told, and Congress blocked him, and therefore expecting anything more is magical thinking, childish, foolish, and utterly unacceptable as grounds for even criticism much less seriously questioning allegiance to the Democratic party.

The fact that Obama simply gave up after one pathetic attempt and never bothered even discussing the unutterable evil involved, and that Ironmouth etc see this as perfectly acceptable makes me wonder if they're crazy, or if I am.
posted by sotonohito at 2:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whatever the history has been, it seems apparent to me that Obama is saving up his political capital to use in the runup to the next election. I hate anticipating manipulation this way, but I imagine in the next year we'll see some real action out of him, especially if the primarying rumblings gather steam, KEEP IT UP.
posted by rhizome at 3:36 PM on April 26, 2011


Again, the majority of the voters either approve of or don't care about human rights abuses so yeah, I've got a bone to pick with the voters.

How is attacking voters who agree with you aiding your cause?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:37 PM on April 26, 2011


If lawmakers hadn't been forced by the direct action at the capitol, in other words, to try to ram their rights-stripping legislation through in a way that violated Wisconsin public meetings law, there would have been no legal decision against the law, period. If you can't see that, you're just blinded by your own anti-populist attitudes.

You know why I don't care for populism? I may dispute your argument, but I assume you have made a deliberate choice to present it that way until you indicate otherwise. You, on the other hand, seem most unwilling to countenance any other argument but your own, to the point of denigrating my faculties by suggesting I'm too 'blinded' to see your point of view.

I am not blind. I just do not agree with all of the things you're saying.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:43 PM on April 26, 2011


so, why do you not care for populism.
posted by clavdivs at 5:47 PM on April 26, 2011


Torture is going in in my name.

Many people can tell the difference between an individual and the government.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 PM on April 26, 2011


The fact that Obama simply gave up after one pathetic attempt and never bothered even discussing the unutterable evil involved, and that Ironmouth etc see this as perfectly acceptable makes me wonder if they're crazy, or if I am.

You are either crazy, not paying attention to the actual political debate that unfolded over teh greater part of a year, or simply a paid shill or other rightq wing poser who is trying to split the liberal coalition. If you really cared about these things you would be directing your energies at the massive right wing machine funded by super wealthy folks like the Koch brothers who currently control big parts of both the media and the state.
posted by humanfont at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Many people can tell the difference between an individual and the government.

There is no government without individuals, literally.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 PM on April 26, 2011


The Guardian Steve Bell cartoon and this comment.
posted by adamvasco at 2:18 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Notion wrote: You know, I have to say, I've talked to a hundred people in the last couple of months who are from outside the US. They all think we are fucking crazy.

Oh yes. My left-wing friends think you're evil, but most of the others just feel worried about you. And for you as well, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 AM on April 27, 2011


My point is that from the viewpoint of many people torture, indefinite detention, and pointless wars are not merely policy issues and treating them as such is not merely alienating but also seen by those people as horribly wrong.

I can, quite literally, think of nothing more important than truly ending the torture regime established by Bush jr. That doesn't mean merely issuing an executive order requiring that interrogations follow the Army Field Manual. It means prosecuting the torturers and those who ordered the torture so that the next Republican president will think twice before trying to start it up. Obama's actions have pretty much guaranteed that the next Republican president will dive into torture the instant he takes office because he's confident that he and his cronies will never, even if a Democrat is elected with a supermajority in both houses of Congress, consider even looking into the torture.

Second only to that is the issue of indefinite detention. Again, I can't even rank it as being top among policy issues because from my POV it is not a mere policy issue. Even if I accept that Obama is as completely impotent as Ironmouth insists he is, that still should not prevent him from speaking out on the issue, and it should absolutely prevent him from issuing executive orders regularizing and legalizing the evil practice.

Again, those are not merely policy issues but quite literally existential issues. As in, their existence makes me question whether the continued existence of the USA is worthwhile, and if my fellow citizens insist on turning the nation into a hellhole of torture and gulags whether my continued existence as a citizen is worthwhile. These are not mere policy issues, but rather issues that strike at the very fabric of the nation and to dismiss them as just one policy among many to be pursued with tactics and dedication similar to issues of tax policy is what I see as the essence of the problem.

There are things that we don't, that we can't, compromise on. Things that are beyond mere policy difference. If Ironmouth and Obama see torture and indefinite detention as just something to be dealt with, horse traded, and otherwise treated as an insignificant policy issue than I'm not on their side and they aren't on my side.

That seems to be what Ironmouth is saying. It's a policy issue, Obama made an attempt (not a very serious one) at changing that policy, it failed, move on. It isn't possible for me to see it that way. Berating me for magical thinking because I think Obama should be fighting for prosecution of the torturers and freedom and/or trials for the wrongly imprisoned is not going to get me on your side.
posted by sotonohito at 6:50 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about the government.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2011


I don't think the point should be to move on (though I can't really speak for Ironmouth)--it should be to refocus efforts first and primarily on changing the political realities that doomed the attempt if you really want to see the change, rather than focusing excessively on heaping scorn on one of the only politicians visibly engaged in trying to affect any positive change on the issue in the first place.

Keep pushing, and be critical, but do it in a discriminating and judicious way that shames those who brazenly obstruct the efforts to correct the policies more than those who are on the public record as wanting to correct them. For chrissake, there are committee leaders in congress who effectively have more power than the President when it comes to actually enacting policy. We usually give them a free pass when they capitulate. Many people don't even know their names, or what their direct roles in the process are. Shine a bright light on them, and make them pay a political price. As long as we keep letting the nominal figurehead of the executive take all the heat off of congress, congress will continue to be unresponsive to the popular will.

There's no excuse whatsoever for any Dem legislators to have joined in with Republicans in hamstringing the president's attempts to close Guantanamo; when they couldn't circumvent the executive order through normal means, they got around it by expressly denying any funding to close the base. They banned trying the detainees in civilian courts.

These were actual concrete steps specific legislators took to prevent the base closure and to prevent the detainees from being charged in the civilian justice system. Aren't the people who are taking actual, real concrete legislative steps a little bit more solid of a target for effective political opposition than the guy who put the failed policy push on the table in the first place? The guy who stands to lose the most when it becomes clear his most powerful policy-making tool, the Executive Order, doesn't have as much political heft even among members of his own party in congress as congress has given to previous administrations? The basic fact here is that Obama's own party refused to defer to his executive authority to close Guantanamo. You really think Obama wanted that? Of course not.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2011


The thing is that on day one Obama declared retroactive immunity for torture. For me that's a deal breaker and it ended any chance of me ever campaigning for him or supporting him beyond holding my nose and voting for him in 2012.

And, again, I note that Obama has not been doing anything (positive that is, issuing executive orders that regularize Guantanamo is the sort of action I expect from the bad guys, not the ostensible good guy) about it.

Again, even if I buy the presidential impotence argument he hasn't been doing anything himself to try and change opinions. He's the bloody president, when he gives press conferences people show up. At the very least he could be discussing the issue regularly, using the State of the Union Address to call out the issue of Guantanamo and the irreparable harm it is doing to our nation.

Instead he gave up, and never seemed to push Congress on the legislation when the vote was pending. I hate to keep sounding like a broken record, but do you remember what he did when some freshman Democrats said they'd vote against funding for his military adventurism in Afghanistan? He came down like a ton of bricks. He threatened to destroy any chance of their being re-elected. And it worked, the would be peace vote vanished and all of the freshmen who had suggested it got into line and voted the way Obama wanted them to. Note that absolutely nothing even slightly resembling that happened with regards to Guantanamo. That, to me, would seem to imply that Obama views continuing an evil and pointless war to be vastly more important than ending a Constitution violating evil.

I'm in favor of going after Congress, don't misunderstand me. But at the same time I fail to see why a) criticizing Obama for both embracing evil and failing to stop evil is bad, and b) why there's something wrong with urging Obama do do what he bloody well was elected to do, or if he really is completely impotent [1] then at the very least to use the bully pulpit and try to pull America away from evil that way.

Torture and indefinite detention are not simply policy issues. The idea that we must treat them as if they were, as if Obama has better and more important things to do with his time than fight to end them, is obscene. From my point of view there is literally nothing more important, more worthy of his time and energy, than vigorously prosecuting the torturers, stripping away the veils of secrecy they have wrapped around their evil work and exposing it in all of its ugliness to the American people, and ending the vile practice of indefinite detention.

If his administration lasted one term and the only things he accomplished were a prosecution of the torturers and the end of the idea of indefinite detention I'd count him as an unalloyed success.

Instead he's shielded the torturers, spent his vigor attacking those who attempted to shine light on the evil (and torturing one of them himself), and granted indefinite detention legitimacy. There is nothing he can accomplish that makes up for that.

[1] Which I don't believe for one moment. Bush damn sure wasn't.
posted by sotonohito at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2011


You'll note, I haven't said anything against urging anyone to do anything. I've been addressing only the problem of what's effective versus what isn't. Before Obama had even begun the push to close Guantanamo, he was already drawing fire for not prosecuting Bush admin officials and those criticisms helped erode support for and undermine the credibility of his efforts to close Guantanamo before they even had a chance to gain popular momentum.

The reality is, no one has ever prosecuted thousands of former government personnel and officials for enacting the explicitly sanctioned policies of a previous administration. It might be the right thing to do in principle, but the legal complexities and political challenges of actually bringing such a massive, unprecedented prosecution to trial would have brought absolutely everything else to a halt. (For example: would the Democratic members of the committees that passively or actively approved certain enhanced interrogation techniques be prosecuted too? Why or why not? Could we afford to have some large proportion of the US senate facing prosecution? Or would we just target admin officials directly involved?) The rest of our problems haven't stopped compounding all this time, and ultimately, any charges would have best been brought by an international authority of some kind anyway to avoid any potential political response (impeachment, for example) on claims the administration was engaging in a massive, politically motivated purge.

And it is in fact a long established legal principle that agents of the US government acting under the direct leadership of the government they serve can't be held personally accountable under US law for faithfully executing their duties. And in this case, there's no doubt that they were--the very highest levels of the executive branch fully approved those torture and detention policies. I agree it's a sad, awful mess, but I guess my intuition tells me that some messes can't really be cleaned up. Some decisions are effectively irreversible. Nothing we do will ever make the decision to hold and torture hundreds of people on scant evidence in a modern-day middle-eastern parody of the Salem witch hunts a decision without horrible consequences. So I'm just not as certain as perhaps you are about what path would do the least harm in other areas while bringing us closer to some semblance of justice. In fact, I doubt any approach could effectively bring us closer to justice without causing more harm because the original sin in this case was such an abhorrent, legal and political chaos-creating one.

But I respect your right to have a different opinion, and I can do that without hand-waving away the complexity of the situation or calling your fundamental moral commitments into question, the way some seem inclined to do when they encounter anything other than unquestioning acceptance of their own particular view of the situation. All I'm personally advocating is that. Not a lack of passion, but clear-eyed thinking and some nuance--not about the policies that got us into this mess themselves (no need to be nuanced when it comes to the fact these policies encouraged government sanctioned torture, which is an absolute wrong), but nuance when it comes to understanding the challenges of getting back on the right footing, when there's still substantial political pressure to go even further down the road to hell.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:04 AM on April 27, 2011


to hold and torture hundreds of people

sorry--that should say "thousands of people," not hundreds.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:22 AM on April 27, 2011


Do you have a cite for the bit about government agents being above the law when they're doing illegal things? Because that seems unlikely to me. Enshrining "we were just following orders" as a perfectly valid, indeed automatic, defense seems like it would have been a big deal, and I don't recall ever reading about the US government doing that.

It also would have had to happen fairly recently, since (for example) Oliver North was indicted on 16 felony counts related to the illegal actions that he undertook after being ordered to do so.

As for the rest, I cannot disagree more strongly. We are nowhere near getting back on the right footing, and thanks to Obama's decision to abandon the very principles of equality under the law we never will be. The next Republican president will, I have absolutely no doubt at all, immediately order torture to begin anew because, thanks to Obama, he will know that neither he nor his evil minions will ever pay any penalty whatsoever for that crime.

Whether such an investigation and prosecution might bring some harm, or whether people would see it as a politically motivated purge, seem to me to be utterly irrelevant. That you think of such things as being significant indicates that you do not see the crimes as being as significant or important as I do.

Let me repeat: from my POV there is, literally, absolutely nothing more important than investigating the torture, exposing the whole sordid affair to the world, and ending the travesty of indefinite detention. Nothing. I don't care if it results in 90% of the Senate being put in prison. I don't care if it means Obama doesn't get a second term. I don't care if it makes the talking heads mad and they say Obama is a meanie for upholding the law. I don't care if the political fight shuts down the government. I don't care if it pisses off all of our allies and the US loses prestige, military base rights, trading partnerships, etc. To me there is absolutely nothing more important than ending those evils and exposing the ugly truth to the world.

The reason I see it that way is because we are not, as you claim, getting back on the right footing. We are getting ever further from the right footing precicely because Obama is protecting the torturers and aggressively (to the point of using torture himself) attacking the whistleblowers. This absolutely guarantees that even if Obama limits his use of torture to Bradley Manning there will be more torture later down the road. Even if Obama limits his use of indefinite detention and CIA death squads to people he's really sure are bad (and we trust his judgement there), later presidents will be less scrupulous.

What, exactly, has Obama done that can possibly be interpreted as getting us back on the right footing?
posted by sotonohito at 12:16 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


What has Obama been doing?

1-ending combat operations in Iraq and getting us out in spite of those in the DOD like Gates who seem to way us to stay. This includes most of the contractors.
2-getting most of the people out of Gitmo. There are now under 200 detainees left
3-putting in place uniform interrogation procedures based on the army field manual
4-negotiating a new START treaty and disclosing the size of the US deterrent
5-providing limited and contained support for democracy movements in the middle east without sending in ground troops and occupying the place.
6-repealing DADT via congressional action.
7-trying to stabilize Afghanistan and enable a transition to local leadership.

What does the US Chamber of Commerce Pay you to pretend to be a liberal and attack Obama? Do they pay by the post or is it by the word?
posted by humanfont at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2011


Shouldn'e the democratic supporters actually try and do something to at least get rid of fuckwits like this.
My reading of the affair is that Harry Reid was the principal mover for stopping the funding for moving the Guantanamo inmates to US soil and justice.
Until the base of the party get rid of these quasi republicans there isn't much hope.
posted by adamvasco at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2011


humanfont: "What does the US Chamber of Commerce Pay you to pretend to be a liberal and attack Obama? Do they pay by the post or is it by the word?"

Don't do that, please.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's one lazy Wikipedia cite; and just for color, here's another cite to an article grumbling about the immunity government officials have historically enjoyed in carrying out their official duties from the libertarian activist Lew Rockwell (definitely not an endorsement).
posted by saulgoodman at 1:19 PM on April 27, 2011


adamvasco: agree about reid. he's been more of a liability than an asset for a while now. waxman, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:20 PM on April 27, 2011


humanfront Not "what has he been doing that might be considered vaguely liberal", but "what has he been doing that will get us back on the right track WRT human rights".

1 - The war in Iraq continues apace, he's just replaced the regular army with a mercenary army, one which has been tied to, guess what, torture. I'm not impressed. The USA is still paying people to kill Iraqis, the war is not over.

2 - When the number of people being held without trials or charges is zero then I'll cheer. Since Obama has directly stated that at least 50 people currently in Guantanamo will never, ever, have trials but will instead be held in cages forever then I don't see any progress made on that front.

3 - Which will be instantly reversed by the next Republican president, confident that like Bush jr he will never face penalties for torturing people. That's not a step in the right direction.

4 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

5 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

6 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

7 - He's allowing the CIA to run secret prisons, shown by recently released documents to involve the torture he theoretically banned in 3. And I'm not a fan of continuing Bush jr's Afghan war regardless, that's hardly a point that is going to make me forgive him for protecting torturers.

Would you care to address the point that Obama has, since the first day of his administration, taken action to protect and defend torturers while simultaneously aggressively prosecuting the whistleblowers who let us know that the torture was happening?

Would you tell me why you think that any accomplishments of Obama make up for that unspeakably vile action?

[1] And has ended our semi-secret wars in Yemen, Pakistan, etc.
posted by sotonohito at 1:27 PM on April 27, 2011


saulgoodman I will join you in efforts to get Reid out of office.

All the money, time, etc that I won't be devoting to Obama in 2012 I will be devoting to primary challenges to Reid and the other Republicans in disguise.
posted by sotonohito at 1:30 PM on April 27, 2011


He's allowing the CIA to run secret prisons, shown by recently released documents to involve the torture he theoretically banned in 3. And I'm not a fan of continuing Bush jr's Afghan war regardless, that's hardly a point that is going to make me forgive him for protecting torturers.


That's not actually what has been alleged. Several of the claims you made here are not actually supported by the facts we do know.

The allegations are that detainees at these field sites (which are not CIA sites as you characterized it, but military sites run by military special ops personnel) are being held for as long as several weeks before transfer to the official facilities. No one has alleged that they are being held there permanently, and the allegations of mistreatment involve mainly extended stays in solitary confinement--not torture, but lesser practices some still consider inhumane.

What's more, the Pentagon has stated that the International Red Cross has access to these sites, and IRC hasn't denied that.

The AP reports:
The CIA’s infamous secret network of “black site“ interrogation centers is gone. But suspected terrorists in Afghanistan are being held and interrogated for weeks at temporary sites, including one run by the elite special operations forces at Bagram Air Base, according to U.S. officials who revealed details of the detention network to The Associated Press.
...
Human rights advocates say the severest of the Bush-era interrogation methods are gone, but the conditions at the new interrogation sites still raise questions. Obama pledged when he took office that the United States would not torture anyone, but former detainees describe harsh treatment that some human rights groups claim borders on inhumane.

....

U.S. officials in Afghanistan add that Petraeus insisted on opening the Joint Special Operations Command site to inspection by Afghan officials and the International Red Cross last May.

International Red Cross ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno would not comment on the JSOC or conventional forces detention facilities, but confirmed the group “has access to internment, screening, and transit facilities under the control of the Department of Defense.” [Source]
posted by saulgoodman at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2011


See? They're "temporary" so they aren't "black sites!" You can tell because the fact was disclosed by an unnamed source.
posted by rhizome at 3:14 PM on April 27, 2011


All the money, time, etc that I won't be devoting to Obama in 2012 I will be devoting to primary challenges to Reid and the other Republicans in disguise.
posted by sotonohito

This is exactly what is wanted. A smart republican would close down GITMO detention area on day one..."anyquestionsIthoughtnot" type of deal.
.
but something comes with that, immunity, forever, for those involved (not the prisoners, they of course would be tried then sentenced) and any new prisoners would be dealt with-in the revised procedures and guidlines.

existential (dilemma) solved.
posted by clavdivs at 4:38 PM on April 27, 2011


1 - The war in Iraq continues apace, he's just replaced the regular army with a mercenary army, one which has been tied to, guess what, torture. I'm not impressed. The USA is still paying people to kill Iraqis, the war is not over.

I question your sanity. Malaki as the entire GOI says otherwise.

2 - When the number of people being held without trials or charges is zero then I'll cheer. Since Obama has directly stated that at least 50 people currently in Guantanamo will never, ever, have trials but will instead be held in cages forever then I don't see any progress made on that front.


Already discussed above.

3 - Which will be instantly reversed by the next Republican president, confident that like Bush jr he will never face penalties for torturing people. That's not a step in the right direction.

Bush 3 selected with your help just like in 2000. I protested on the supreme court steps with about 40 other people during those cold November days. Ralph Nader couldn't be bothered along with everyone else apparently.

4 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

5 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

6 - Irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Human Rights are about lot than Gitmo.

7 - He's allowing the CIA to run secret prisons, shown by recently released documents to involve the torture he theoretically banned in 3. And I'm not a fan of continuing Bush jr's Afghan war regardless, that's hardly a point that is going to make me forgive him for protecting torturers.


Do you have a real citation for this nonsense.
posted by humanfont at 5:33 PM on April 27, 2011


Superman renounces US citizenship
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2011


There is plenty of evidence that the US chamber of Commerce and other right wing groups are planting people in Internet forums to try to divide the liberal coalition and dissuade them from voting or participating. It seems to me that those who spend their days attacking Obama while apparently ignoring the Republican leadership are legitimate suspects. Why would you want to primary Reid and not Boehner, McConnell or Cantor. Show some real fight against the far right and maybe I'll see you as something other than right wing plant. Fellow liberals don't be fooled by this he isn't good enough for us act again. Obama is great, saying otherwise is foolish nonsense, that is just undermining our progressive agenda. You want to move him left help make a path for him.
posted by humanfont at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would think the IRC would be sounding the alarm if they were holding detainees in these sites forever, is the point. But I agree. We shouldn't back off too much on these issues. I'm just not sure that it's as simple as clavdivs suggests. Opposition in congress would probably render even a smart Republican president's Executive Order powerless in the current political environment.

For god's sake, Florida's house just passed 6 bills curtailing abortion rights (including one that requires any woman seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound at her personal expense and another outlawing all insurance coverage for abortion), and when confronted by an angry colleague, Democratic Representative Daphne Campbell’s replied: “You have no right. God put me here.”

So to all the women out there, take comfort. If you have fewer health care and reproductive rights in Florida, it's because God wanted it that way.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:55 PM on April 27, 2011


humanfont: There is plenty of evidence that the US chamber of Commerce and other right wing groups are planting people in Internet forums to try to divide the liberal coalition and dissuade them from voting or participating.

Interesting that I was thinking the same thing about you and Ironmouth, who've demonstrated no commitment to liberal causes beyond yelling at Democratic voters for championing them. The logic of winning elections by screaming at your voters still puzzles me. Perhaps we should both take a few steps away from this discussion.

Why would you want to primary Reid and not Boehner, McConnell or Cantor. Show some real fight against the far right and maybe I'll see you as something other than right wing plant.

Wow. So we should save the liberal coalitions by voting for and funding Republicans in primary races? This doesn't make a lick of sense. I keep spending my votes and dollars to make the Democratic party stronger, thank you very much.

Obama is great, saying otherwise is foolish nonsense, that is just undermining our progressive agenda. You want to move him left help make a path for him.

Nonsense. We can politically walk and chew gum. We can both point out the problems with our current government and support electing Democratic candidates. It's called compromise.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:21 PM on April 27, 2011


Interesting that I was thinking the same thing about you and Ironmouth, who've demonstrated no commitment to liberal causes beyond yelling at Democratic voters for championing them.

No I'm yelling at you for directing bile at Obama and giving a pass to the entire right wing political machine. I've demonstrated my commitment to democratic initiatives such as DADT repeal, the ACA, applauded the efforts to bring and end to the war in Iraq. I've supported the START treaty. I'm the one standing up for the things the Democrats have actually done in the last two years. You are busy plotting primary challenges which would only serve to help Republicans and trying suggest a narrative of nothing Obama, Reid, etc do is good enough.

As long as you pursue that course, you are not helping the liberal cause, you are seeking to destroy any measure of progress we are making. You are working to elect Mitt Romney, or whoever the Republicans put up and destroy the unions, social safety net, and every bit of progress we've made in the last 100 years. We've seen it in Wisconsin, we've seen it in Ohio, we've seen it in Florida and everywhere else. The result of your not good enough BS is obliteration of the left. I hold you personally responsible for keeping Gitmo open and all the other nonsense you throw at Obama. You have hamstrung his presidency by leaving him with no vocal base of support. Now you've let the house fall into the hands of Republicans and forced him to compromise further with the right. If you really are as liberal as you claim, whatever you think you are doing please STOP you arn't helping.
posted by humanfont at 7:55 PM on April 27, 2011


humanfont: Congratulations. You certainly got everything about me completely wrong. More importantly, you're completely wrong about the political situation.

Gee, who's more responsible for the 2010 election, liberal voters who showed up like they did for the previous four elections and voted for Democrats? Or perhaps it might be a FOX-funded FUD factory that sponsored hundreds of protests and encouraged millions of moderates and conservatives to vote for Democrats?

The Democrats are not 'good enough.' That's ok for a variety of reasons. I can hold my nose and vote for all but the most hateful anyway. I don't expect as part of a coalition to get my every desire. And I don't see the ballot box as the only form of activism.

And the coalition can handle differences of opinion. We don't need rules like, "thou shalt not criticize a Democrat." We're usually mature enough to disagree and compromise.

Except for you today. I suggest that you should direct your anger today at Trump, who has a party, a microphone, and an audience, and not at your human-rights allies who don't.

But, I am a Democratic voter. I'll vote in the Democratic primary, and not the Republican one like you suggested. I'll vote for Democrats in the general election, and I'll drag the family with me. I will continue to both praise and criticize Democrats when they deserve it. And I'll continue to practice my politics as I see fit, the politics that as far as I can tell, resulted in victories in 06 and 08.

And I really think you need to step away from this discussion until you can learn to stop yelling at your allies and voters.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:30 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


For example, I have no problem in saying that the administration did a slightly sneaky and good thing in confiscating all of my state's lethal-injection anesthetics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:55 PM on April 27, 2011


Gee, who's more responsible for the 2010 election, liberal voters who showed up like they did for the previous four elections and voted for Democrats? Or perhaps it might be a FOX-funded FUD factory that sponsored hundreds of protests and encouraged millions of moderates and conservatives to vote for Democrats?

Liberal turnout was down in 2010.

These are facts.

And I really think you need to step away from this discussion until you can learn to stop yelling at your allies and voters

Helping the right wing isn't being an "ally." Period.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2011


These are facts.

No, it's a shitty conclusion that's unwarranted by the data. Let's take a look at the claim in question.
3. The liberal-moderate-conservative numbers in 2008 were 22%, 44% and 34%. Those numbers for yesterday were 20%, 39% and 41%. A big conservative jump, but in all likelihood because liberals didn't vote in big numbers.
So from the start, we know that you and Tomaksy are talking out of your assholes. Why? Because that 2% difference is well within sampling error.

But hold on a minute, let's look at historical trends:
2006: 20%
2004: 21%

So were liberals also staying at home when Dean's 50-state strategy secured huge victories in the House and Senate? Meanwhile, let's look at another estimate that shows that the exit polls are consistent with other polling data. Meanwhile, liberals may have demonstrated slightly better party loyalty in 2010. Again, it's hard to say because the difference is well within sampling error.

So, the evidence that liberals didn't show up in 2010 is extremely weak. Even if we assume the effect was real, it's dwarfed by losses among moderates (60%->55%) and conservatives (20%->13%). Those losses are even worse when you consider that they outnumber liberals 2:1.

So, we can't say that liberal turnout was depressed in significant numbers. We can say that millions of moderates and conservatives swung their votes to Republicans last year. And I honestly doubt that they did so because anyone said that Obama wasn't liberal enough. Not when you have Evan Bayh's armchair quarterbacking that his peers lost the election because they were too liberal (as opposed to practically giving up his seat without a fight.) I'd suggest that if you want to go on a McCarthyesque witch hunt for disloyal Democrats, that you should look at him and Lieberman.

All of this was brought to your attention back in November, so I don't know why you're trying the big lie on me.

Helping the right wing isn't being an "ally." Period.

Pardon, but do you actually do anything beyond trying to bully Democratic voters and human rights advocates into silence? Obama's a big boy who can handle and support criticism: "Now, I've said this before, I'll repeat it again -- it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago."

Personally, I trust his finely honed insight into the importance of citizen activism to the political process over your crazy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2011


So, the evidence that liberals didn't show up in 2010 is extremely weak. Even if we assume the effect was real, it's dwarfed by losses among moderates (60%->55%) and conservatives (20%->13%).

Just to clarify, these are the numbers of moderates and conservatives voting for Democrats, not the percentage of voters identifying as moderate or conservative.

And now that I look at it, there's another big hole in Tomasky's claim, "A big conservative jump, but in all likelihood because liberals didn't vote in big numbers." How the fuck does 2/100 = 7/100? On top of not accounting for sampling error, the theory doesn't even get past 4th-grade math.

Gee, could that huge right-wing astroturfing campaign possibly have affected the election?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2011


So from the start, we know that you and Tomaksy are talking out of your assholes. Why? Because that 2% difference is well within sampling error.

The sample size is 17,504. The standard error, with a 95% confidence interval, is around 0.7%. How are you getting an MoE of >2%?
posted by anigbrowl at 6:53 PM on April 28, 2011


anigbrowl: Those percentages are obviously rounded, which complicates things because we don't know if the survey found a figure of 19.5 or 20.49. Still, thanks for the correction.

The hypothesis that liberals were underrepresented in the 2010 election leading to a Republican takeover of the House is still weak because:

1) The historic gallup data identifies 2008 as a high-water mark for liberalism. The 2010 exit polls are consistent with independent estimates of liberal identification.

2) 20% is the same percentage of liberal participation behind the 2006 Democratic wins.

3) The numbers don't even come close to adding up. Even if we assume the liberal deficit is real, there's 5 million new conservative voters that are unaccounted for. Looking at the data, it's obvious where they're coming from: the center. And that's not even counting the millions of conservatives and moderates who switched from Republican to Democrat between 2008 and 2010.

And the argument doesn't make a lick of sense. Are we really supposed to believe that a small number of frustrated and marginalized advocates for unpopular causes did more damage in the last election than one of the largest astroturfing and ratfucking operations in American history? Are we really supposed to believe that Americans elected reactionary and stupid conservatives because congress wasn't liberal enough?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:38 PM on April 28, 2011


And to point out another fact that should be fucking obvious. Political discussions on metafilter are an echo chamber of a tiny unrepresentative population. It is, quite thankfully, not a microcosm of real-world politics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:53 PM on April 28, 2011


The strategy to take over congress was a multi pronged campaign. One part as to increase conservative voter intensity by the tea party movement. The second part was a campaign to reduce turnout of democratic voters by pushing a narrative that Obama wasn't fulfilling his promises and wasn't getting anything accomplished.
A large quantity of evidence has been presented that Obama has made significant progress on your political goals and moving the nation in a direction consistent with your values. Yet you seem focused on denying any of these facts. Instead you continue to push the narrative that was consistent with the media strategy of the opposition.
posted by humanfont at 1:42 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


humanfont: I've pretty much decided that there's no point in arguing with stupid, crazy, and probably evil at this point. Please get your political IFF system checked until you can learn not to attack people who support, campaign for, and will vote for Obama. I honestly don't understand how you expect to increase voter turnout by attacking your own supporters and voters.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:47 AM on April 29, 2011


Ohh hell, I'll do it anyway. I've praised Obama and congress repeatedly on HCR, gay rights, and foreign policy. I've praised Obama for his leadership skills, coalition-building, and 2008 campaign organization. I supported him in 2008, I'll support him again in 2012, and I'll support his successor in 2016. When I disagree with him on matters of policy, I try to do so constructively by focusing on the issues in question. He is, in my opinion, the best president in my lifetime.

Ideological non-voters are not helping, but neither are nasty, hypocritical, and evil shits like yourself who use party identification as an excuse to bully liberals into silence.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:00 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What you are saying is what Ironmouth and the rest of us have been saying for some time. To review some of the comments that were said in this thread and to which I was responding. it isn't all about you, you know.

Romney and Obama just have different rhetoric for their respective hardliners.
--
Obama did not end the Iraq War; he pretended to. He did not end the war in Afghanistan, he escalated the violence. He didn't close Guantanamo, he cowed to pressure and opened it back up for business. He backed Mubarak. He escalated the violence in Libya. He continues to back dictators in Bahrain and Syria. I have no idea why anyone thinks he's doing a good job on foreign policy, much less following through on his campaign promises.
--
Obama is close enough to the republican position that the differences aren't that important. He's rather far away from his apparent positions during the campaign.
--
Fuck Obama

And on and on. There are those of us who are working to extend and protect the real gains we've made in the last few years under President Obama and there are those who are spinning half-truths and lies to demoralize the democratic base. You have to decide which side you are going to be on. We got what we could in the first 18 months of the Obama administration, now it is all about holding back the counter revolution until the next election.
posted by humanfont at 7:07 AM on April 29, 2011


We got what we could in the first 18 months of the Obama administration, now it is all about holding back the counter revolution until the next election.

This. I agree with this. There's a way to criticize without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There's a way to put the situation rightly and not slant it so that people who can be swayed either way think that there is no difference in the outcomes. I doubt anyone is trying to silence anyone else in here. It's about tact and an understanding that words and statements that evoke feelings matter.

If at the end of the day one thinks Obama is the best president of our lifetime, then it would be great if that could ultimately shine through.

And besides all that, there's just a way to think practically and not ideally. I'm not going to criticize and delineate problematic aspects of various situations at critical times when ultimately it will work against all goals unless the goal is electing President Romney.
posted by cashman at 7:24 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


humanfont: What you are saying is what Ironmouth and the rest of us have been saying for some time.

We're not saying the same thing because I'm not attacking Democratic voters and supporters for having opinions.

We're not saying the same things because I'm not lying about liberal votes in 2010, about the importance of ideological non-voters, about how liberal political activism damages Democratic election success, or the mercenary motivation of my fellow Democrats.

(You made it about me when you repeatedly lied about my personal politics and activism.)

We're not saying the same things because I'm rationally afraid of massive right-wing ratfucking and astroturfing, while you're irrationally afraid of a handful of non-voters with no party, organization, money, or media.

(I also have the good sense to recognize that you and Ironmouth are equally irrelevant to real-world politics.)

Which side am I on?

I'm on the side that won in 2006 and 2008 by building coalitions and encouraging activism.

I'm on the side that actually listens to what Obama has to say about activism, rather than trying to suppress it.

I'm on the side that recognizes debate and disagreement as healthy parts of the coalition-building process.

I'm on the side that directs its anger to well-funded conservative astroturfing rather than liberal activists engaged in the political change process.

I'm on the side that sells liberal values to voters rather than treating them as electoral liabilities.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:18 AM on April 29, 2011


cashman: This. I agree with this. There's a way to criticize without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There's a way to put the situation rightly and not slant it so that people who can be swayed either way think that there is no difference in the outcomes. I doubt anyone is trying to silence anyone else in here. It's about tact and an understanding that words and statements that evoke feelings matter.

No. The agenda to silence disagreement was explicitly stated by Ironmouth above when he proposed, "thou shalt not criticize a Democrat." But as we've seen, that only applies to Obama. Liberals evidently are fair game.

I want respectful criticism all around, rather than hypocritical and one-sided mandates. Liberal advocates of human rights, gay rights, and peace in foreign policy are not the enemy in this election. The Tea Party is.

And besides all that, there's just a way to think practically and not ideally. I'm not going to criticize and delineate problematic aspects of various situations at critical times when ultimately it will work against all goals unless the goal is electing President Romney.

Criticism and engagement is part of the political change process. Why do a majority of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage and repeal of DADT? Because gay-rights advocates spent the last 25 years advocating, litigating, negotiating, lobbying, and protesting for both piecemeal benefits and full equality in spite of popular and political opposition.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2011


The hypothesis that liberals were underrepresented in the 2010 election leading to a Republican takeover of the House is still weak because:

Give it up, I've posted the data on that over and over. It's a big lie and Ironmouth and friends are married to it till death.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:03 AM on April 29, 2011


I want respectful criticism all around, rather than hypocritical and one-sided mandates.

Criticism and engagement is part of the political change process.

Ok. I get it. Here's one of my poor and confusing analogies: Your mom is going for a job up against Republican X's mom. You are a reference for your mom, similarly the republican is the reference for their mom.

The interviewer asks you, and you tell all about how your mom did this thing wrong and treated you poorly here, and forgot to pick you up from school a bunch of times, though she does a good job as director of her current department, and gets good reviews.

The interviewer asks the republican, who mentions their mother can be rude to outsiders, but otherwise she's a great director, she treated her children well and prepared them for adult life, she was religious about school pickups and gets stellar performance reviews.

Furthermore while you're in the waiting room, you loudly complain about this thing your mom did and that thing your mom did. Some faint praise is mixed in. The interviewers in the interview room can hear you from the next room.

Who will get the job based on this scenario? Right. Not your mom.

So your mom didn't get the job, but hey, you feel good because you respectfully criticized your mom, and the republican did not. Moral victory!


Sorry bud. A lot of us don't have the luxury of moral victories right now. If Obama is outright fucking up, it's one thing. But if there are reasonable explanations and anyone (you or I) in that same position would be having a similarly tough time given the same factors, then I am going to roll with it and criticize at an appropriate time, because ultimately I know my mom is likely the best current candidate for the job. And among the thousands upon thousands of decisions President Obama has made, I agree with most of the ones I've seen and understand or understand the existence of the complexities behind the issues.

Similarly, I'm going to tell my brothers and sisters to just keep it to themselves until after the interview. And if I'm the brother or sister that is being told to keep it to myself for the moment, I'm not going to throw a temper tantrum, I'm going to do it. Because I know for most intents and purposes, that republican's mother doesn't give a fuck about me or people who look like me. To the point that she would let us drown in the aftermath of a hurricane in her back yard.
posted by cashman at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


cashman: Personally, I'd delegate the job to the equally hypothetical monkeys that fly out of my ass. Since they've completed the hypothetical Hamlet, they're unquestionably more qualified to spin a metaphor that's not pure bullshit.

But oh gee, this whole thing is too silly to break down into pieces and tear apart. So let's start with some basic principles:

1) You're not an outsider to the company, you're a customer, shareholder, and perhaps even an employee.

2) If the question is, "who is more qualified to hold this position?" The answer is clearly "Obama." Or if the Democrats elect a ham sandwich, a "A Ham Sandwich." That's the answer you'll get from almost every progressive out there. It's the dominant answer here. It's the answer you'll get on almost every liberal blog in the world.

3) That said, when evaluating candidates for a position, it's perfectly reasonable to discuss reasonable concerns. "He doesn't have enough experience in this area..." "Her goals might not be the best fit ..." "It would have been nice to see more ___ apply for the position." There is no conflict between having an ideal candidate, and advocating for the best available candidate.

4) As a customer, shareholder, and employee, you're entitled to express reasonable concerns and goals for the future direction of the company. "Our production process is cumbersome and inefficient." "Our management structure is growing obsolete." "I'd like for our company to do ___." You probably won't get everything you want, but you won't get anything if you stay silent.

5) A manager who can't welcome respectful discussion about how to improve things is a shitty manager. Thankfully, we know that Obama's a good manager who welcomes activism. His ability to build coalitions of people who don't agree on every idea about the direction of U.S. policy is one of the reasons he's the best person for the job.

A lot of us don't have the luxury of moral victories right now.

Well, sorry bub, a lot of us don't have the luxuries of putting our rights on hold for an "appropriate time." MLK's activism was never the appropriate time:
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. --MLK
--
For nearly 30 years, you've advocated on behalf of those without a voice. That's not easy. For despite the real gains that we've made, there's still laws to change and there's still hearts to open. There are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors, even loved ones -- good and decent people -- who hold fast to outworn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; who would deny you the rights most Americans take for granted. And that's painful and it's heartbreaking. (Applause.) And yet you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make, and by the power of the example that you set in your own lives -- as parents and friends, as PTA members and church members, as advocates and leaders in your communities. And you're making a difference....

Now, I've said this before, I'll repeat it again -- it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago. (Applause.) But I will say this: We have made progress and we will make more. --Obama.
You don't wait for appropriate times, you create them by continuing to advocate for social justice. Gay rights advocates were told to shut up every election year under Bush, Clinton, and Bush. If they had done so, the gains made in the current administration would not have been possible.

Liberals advocating for justice in human rights, health care, economics, civil and gay rights, and education are not a threat to Democratic party politics. Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time. Most of us can also express social-justice ideals and advocate candidates who move us closer to them.

There's also a critical piece missing from your stupid metaphor: power. Tea Party groups get millions of dollars in funding, free publicity on heavy news rotation, support by dedicated political talk radio, and acceptance by the Republican party. Non-voters on the left have no media, no money, no money, and little acceptance among progressive communities. If you really think that a handful of unpopular and disgruntled leftists---a perennial feature of the political landscape---are a threat equal to the tea party, you're an idiot.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:14 AM on April 29, 2011


Oh I forgot:

6) Groupthink, putting pressure on people to suppress their opinions for the sake of political goals is often a recipe for disaster.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:49 AM on April 29, 2011


You seem to think that I'm saying "don't act", while in reality, I'm saying "act smart". You seem to think all your rights are taken away if you aren't free to tear people down until two options that are not at all alike, are alike to the mind of a (truly) undecided voter. Not the case.

Liberals advocating for justice in human rights, health care, economics, civil and gay rights, and education are not a threat to Democratic party politics.

What I'm saying is don't spread public discontent, go to that party directly. If I really felt like "fuck Obama", which I don't, I would draft some letters up and send them to him, or otherwise get the information to him. Not repeatedly (as many have done here) basically try to make the case that Obama is no better than the Republicans at this point.

That's what you're not acknowledging. If at no point does the conversation, to reasonable observers like us, get to the point where it distorts things and makes it seem like Obama, Romney, eh, who cares, then nobody cares what you say.

Call my analogy stupid, maybe it is. But you know what I am getting at. And you get the point. And if your child or some other loved one was trying to succeed at something you would not tear them down in front of their evaluators. No matter how much furiousxgeorge favorites every post you make in here, I know you get that.

And if you're making the case that the republicans/tea party have a wealth of power and basically the left has "individuals talking" to counter it, and you're then calling names...well dude, come on.

But look, say what you want. Do what you want. Neither one of us is going to change. You go criticizing every thing you can about what President Obama does. Tell 'em why you mad, son! Make Obama look like a shitty torturer to the point where voters see him and Romney or whatever Republican becomes the frontrunner and thinks "eh, doesn't matter". Go for it. It's a free country.

Hell, maybe you'll do it so well that a viable third party candidate will come in and take office, ending the war(s), not torturing, giving us universal healthcare and stopping the myriad of progress-reversing things the republicans are rushing into office.

Whatever, go for it. Maybe you're that type of person that would loudly criticize their loved ones in front of their evaluators as they faced off against powerful competition. I guess it takes all types. Do you. Get mad.
posted by cashman at 12:22 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


cashman: You've obviously not bothered to read anything I have to say, especially the unequivocal statements "Obama is the best president in my lifetime," and "Obama was the best candidate for the job." I'm going to give your post the same consideration you've given mine.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:03 PM on April 29, 2011


I did read that, and quoted it. I read the candidate thing, and got it. I get what you're saying. Ideologically I agree with you. Practically, I don't.

Furiousxgeorge got a good laugh out of me by favoriting my posts. Touche!

And now you two gentlemen have a fine rest of your day.

KirkJobSluder, I hope you're none the worse for wear and you see my point, just as I see yours. And not in a sarcastic, non-metafilter way. I'm serious. So have a good one, cheers, g'day! We can disagree without....(I know you know the rest)
posted by cashman at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, the ideal Democratic protesters for the Ironmouth/Cashman crowd are these guys. Sing about their issue (inhumane treatment of a federal prisoner) in a pathetic lobotomized manner, promise to vote for Obama anyway and shower him with money.

No. There is a middle ground to be found between being pushovers and saboteurs and pressure on the President is a legitimate part of that middle ground.

As I've said before, I'm not going to vote for Obama as long as the Bush tax cuts exist. If America wants Trump, they can have him. However, I am a small minority. Liberals show up and they are loyal.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:15 PM on April 29, 2011


And, I find no small amount of black humor in the fact that humanfont, cashman, and Ironmouth defend Obama by attacking the ideological values he's repeatedly expressed.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:23 PM on April 29, 2011


[You really do need to lay off with the name-calling. Thanks! ]
posted by restless_nomad at 2:37 PM on April 29, 2011


cashman: I did read that, and quoted it. I read the candidate thing, and got it. I get what you're saying. Ideologically I agree with you. Practically, I don't.

I'm completely baffled here. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to how you connect the dots between your post and mine?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:51 PM on April 29, 2011


Say what you want about Ironmouth, but at least he manages to make a decent case for himself in an often hostile environment day in and day out without falling back on combative and utterly thoughtless rejoinders like that.

You're smoking crack.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2011


Aww hell.

cashman: The problem is that your strategy for defending Obama looks a lot like squirrel hunting, in a city park, with hand-grenades. Sure, you'll probably hit some squirrels in the process, but you're risking a heck of a lot of friendly fire deaths in the process. Activism isn't the same thing as tearing Obama down. He knows this, you know this, I know this. Quit treating them as identical.

You want to avoid a repeal of the reforms we've seen in the last three years. Well, you need public discontent. You need activism. We are getting our ass handed to us by the largest astroturfing operation in history. Republicans are not just fighting us at the ballot box and in the House, they're doing it at the town halls, the fairs, the parks, and in front of the local news cameras. And as we saw in 2010, it works.

Tea Party activism created 7 million conservatives in the last election and encouraged an equal number of moderates to switch their votes. That's the political reality that makes it important that we get our own people in the streets and in front of the cameras in support of the values and policies we wish to defend and promote.

And we know Obama's ok with citizen activism and engagement because he's repeatedly said so. He's an adult, he can take criticism on the nose. It's what makes him one of the better presidents in history.

You want to sway undecided voters? Well, honesty works. Saying, "I don't agree with everything he does, but he's the best person for the job" works. Most people are smart enough to understand when you're giving them a sales pitch and when you're being honest with them.

If you want to argue against "Fuck Obama" or "Obama is the same as Romney," go find someone else to play with. Attributing them to me is offensively dishonest.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:57 PM on April 29, 2011


White House punishes reporter for filming Obama protest, lies about it. It's okay though, Republicans are worse so I don't care.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:20 PM on April 29, 2011


I didn't attribute them to you. Perhaps you should reread my comment and try again.
posted by humanfont at 4:21 PM on April 29, 2011


I didn't attribute them to you. Perhaps you should reread my comment and try again.

I wasn't addressing you. Perhaps you should reread my comment and try again.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:24 PM on April 29, 2011


humanfont: But of course it doesn't excuse your false statements about my politics here and here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:32 PM on April 29, 2011


False statements? How so? We have a disagreement and you categorize me as "evil". I guess I'm either with you or against you eh? Obama is the "best president of your lifetime", but your awesome political strategy is to scortch the earth because it's 100 percent purity or nothing. You don't even seem to have a workable policy to close Gitmo at this point. What do you seriously think we should do with lawfully detained prisoners of war in the absence of a clear end to the conflict? Let them go back to the battlefield and fight us some more until we kill them? What do you want to do with the Weigers who China would like us to hand over for torture but no nation will let them go? Drop them off in Denver and hope they findeaningdul employment?
posted by humanfont at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2011


humanfont: False statements? How so?

I've put too much work into writing about compromise, negotiation, and coalition building to respond to yet another accusation of scorched-earth purity. This is a nonsensical witch hunt, and one that's thankfully irrelevant to real-world Democratic politics.

You don't even seem to have a workable policy to close Gitmo at this point.

No, I don't, because I'm just a reasonably informed voter and not a policy wonk. That is the way things generally work in politics. Voters express their vision of what the government should do, Congress counts the beans to figure out what they can do, and the President signs the bill into law and makes it happen. But most of Obama's reforms started with voters saying, "I want ___," because that's how you make the votes to change policy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:03 PM on April 30, 2011


US Hosts World Press Freedom Day in the Midst of Prosecuting Media Publisher WikiLeaks.
a subpoena was delivered this week to an individual in Boston — one of a number of individuals whom investigators have pressed or tried to press for information on WikiLeaks and who have been served with subpoenas this week.
posted by adamvasco at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2011


The WikiLeaks Grand Jury and the still escalating War on Whistleblowing
posted by homunculus at 3:35 PM on May 11, 2011


WikiLeaks Threatens Its Own Leakers With $20 Million Penalty
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:53 PM on May 11, 2011


Apparently the documents sent to wikileaks are valuable private property of wikileaks. So much for their open source information should be free nonsense.
posted by humanfont at 1:57 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks replies; Confidentiality Agreement: Neither 'Draconian' Nor 'Extraordinary'
posted by adamvasco at 7:03 AM on May 12, 2011


The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear (hat tip)
posted by adamvasco at 4:30 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


adamvasco: "389The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear (hat tip)"
Perhaps the most believable account came from Ali Hasan, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, whom I visited at his home in Lahore. “My professional view,” he said, “is they’re all lying. Siddiqui’s family is lying, the husband is lying, the Pakistanis are lying, the Americans are lying, for all I know the kids are lying. And because they’re all lying the truth is probably twenty times stranger than we all know.”
I've read the article twice and still have no clue what actually happened to her, nor how this explains "how America makes its enemies disappear."
posted by zarq at 3:33 PM on May 14, 2011


zarq maybe this will help ( Read more Metafilter) The Strange Case of Aafia Siddiqui.
posted by adamvasco at 3:50 AM on May 15, 2011


« Older Rumor Sweeping World's Science Community that CERN...  |  A federal justice report on po... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments