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"There's nothing more aggravating in the world than the midnight sniffling of the person you've decided to hate." ― Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days
September 2, 2012 3:56 PM   Subscribe

The DoJ drops all remaining investigation and prosecution of US War on Terror deaths/murders through harsh tactics/torture: "No Charges Filed on Harsh Tactics Used by the C.I.A." [NYT] Glenn Greenwald reacts and describes the cases that just got dropped. [Guardian] Second link is arguably a violence trigger, but is better and bothers to do things like talk to the ALCU.
posted by jaduncan (209 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by fatllama at 3:58 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


More proof that the lesser of two evils is still pretty fucking evil.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:02 PM on September 2, 2012 [30 favorites]


.
posted by lalochezia at 4:07 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hope! Change!
posted by blue_beetle at 4:09 PM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


More proof that the lesser of two evils is still pretty fucking evil.

Yes, US politics regarding the treatment of detainees in general (domestic too) seems to be a pick between the fuck-them-I-hope-they-die party and the nobody-talk-about-it-and-it-won't-be-a-problem party.
posted by jaduncan at 4:09 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Guy #1 "[F]roze to death in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the 'Salt Pit', after he was beaten, stripped, and then shackled to a cement wall in freezing temperatures."

Guy #2 died of "blunt force trauma to the torso complicated by compromised respiration" in CIA custody "after he was beaten, stripped, had cold water poured on him, and then shackled to the wall."

If those aren't criminal acts, I'm not sure what is.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 4:15 PM on September 2, 2012 [46 favorites]


I'm ashamed.
posted by facetious at 4:17 PM on September 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


But we can't flip over this rock in an election year! Think of the political fallout!

Jesus fucking Christ. I hate being disgusted by my country. But what I hate even more is getting accustomed to it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:19 PM on September 2, 2012 [36 favorites]


Have fun sleeping at night after you vote for the sane conservative over the insane one!
posted by DU at 4:21 PM on September 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


One involved the 2002 abuse of Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the "Salt Pit", after he was beaten, stripped, and then shackled to a cement wall in freezing temperatures. The other was the 2003 death of Manadel al-Jamadi at Abu Ghraib, who died in CIA custody after he was beaten, stripped, had cold water poured on him, and then shackled to the wall.

Bush: “This government does not torture people.”

Obama: "Living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."

The United States of America tortures people, full stop. I'm not sure either party in this country has come to grips with the idea that words have meaning.
posted by Killick at 4:27 PM on September 2, 2012 [26 favorites]


I've said this before but it's truly sad that the biggest consequence of electing Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama has been the total normalization of Bush administration's imperial militarism. Criticism of these practices was taken off the table the second Obama took office, and in fact he's moved the imperial ball significantly forward; finally, bipartisanship!
posted by gerryblog at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


The United States of America tortures people, full stop

Forget Guantanamo, we torture people in regular prison and have been doing it for decades (watch any documentary on prison rape, gang violence, etc for details)
posted by empath at 4:40 PM on September 2, 2012 [34 favorites]


Forget Guantanamo, we torture people in regular prison and have been doing it for decades

We also spent decades training people in the methods of torture and terrorism after which we turned them loose on Central and South America.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:48 PM on September 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm so glad we can now say there was no torture and put this horrible mess behind us.
posted by Mezentian at 4:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But we can't flip over this rock in an election year! Think of the political fallout!
Yeah, amazingly there are people who think this way - Not just that we shouldn't vote against Obama, but that we literally shouldn't talk about it because it might somehow cause Romney to get elected.
posted by delmoi at 5:05 PM on September 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Disgraceful.
posted by odinsdream at 5:24 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I realize this image was drawn for another occasion, but it sums up my feelings on the subject.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:40 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If this isn't evil, I don't know what is.

Anyone who votes for Obama is giving a mandate for more of the same. I'm voting Jill Stein.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:41 PM on September 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you start with SAVAK, we have been torturing enemies of the state for about 55 years now. I'm sad to say so, but I don't know why anyone is shocked that a state failed to prosecute itself. It's like expecting a criminal to find himself guilty when he's also the judge, or even expecting a judge to accept your word against that of a police officer. The rules made by the powerful are for the benefit of the powerful. It's never the other way around.

What would curb our decades long pattern of extralegal violence would be a third party with the jurisdiction to prosecute Americans for war crimes, but we are actively blocking the ICC through the American Service Members Protection Act. The act includes a provision that authorizes the President use military force to free any incarcerated service member, which gave it the nickname of "The Hague Invasion Act."
posted by deanklear at 5:44 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I've said this before but it's truly sad that the biggest consequence of electing Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama has been the total normalization of Bush administration's imperial militarism. Criticism of these practices was taken off the table the second Obama took office, and in fact he's moved the imperial ball significantly forward; finally, bipartisanship!"

I am honestly sorry to phrase it so brutally, but this sentiment suffers from the delusion that criticism of these practices meant anything before the second that Obama took office. Bush was reelected just fine on his 'we don't torture, wink wink' platform.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think one should at least consider that there was a genuine effort by Holder to investigate the wrongdoings. It is possible that Holder's assertion is correct. It seems plausible to me that the investigation could not obtain the necessary evidence to win at trial. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their crew are alleged to have been involved in some of the scariest, nastiest stuff ever committed in the name of the United States from the 1970s up until the Bush Administration. These men know how to cover their tracks and hide evidence.
posted by humanfont at 5:55 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think one should at least consider that there was a genuine effort by Holder to investigate the wrongdoings.

This seems very, very generous.
posted by odinsdream at 6:05 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


So what should be done now?
posted by fatbird at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think one should at least consider that there was a genuine effort by Holder to investigate the wrongdoings. It is possible that Holder's assertion is correct. It seems plausible to me that the investigation could not obtain the necessary evidence to win at trial.

So take it to trial and lose. Aside from the United Nations Convention Against Torture obligation to prosecute, even losing means that justice is seen to be done.
posted by jaduncan at 6:14 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is possible that Holder's assertion is correct.

I think it's entirely plausible that this is true, even though I'm not inclined to believe that Holder made much of an effort. After all, it's very likely that the evidence was buried, and it's very unlikely that even if there was good evidence, any prosecutions would go forward. So why bother spending time on something that's going nowhere, one way or another?
posted by spacewrench at 6:15 PM on September 2, 2012


justice is seen to be done.

Well, at least attempted.
posted by jaduncan at 6:18 PM on September 2, 2012


Meanwhile in Canada, our government of W-wannabes just recently made public the fact that they think torture is a pretty nifty way of getting info from suspects.
posted by senor biggles at 6:22 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shameful, both the acts and the self-righteous bullshit we spew about our values.

There may well be extreme occasions where torture is necessary (or not, I'm not taking on a position on this), but this broadcast acceptance, e.g. water boarding, serves to encourage the rank and file to find these supposed exceptions and then do what it takes.

The better position to take is to hold an absolute line against torture and then if someone is faced with one of the hypothetical situations supposedly requiring the use of torture, e.g. bomb on a school bus, opening of "Dr. Strangelove", they can act as they see necessary and make their case when requesting a pardon.

-----

"What would curb our decades long pattern of extralegal violence would be a third party with the jurisdiction to prosecute Americans for war crimes, but we are actively blocking the ICC through the American Service Members Protection Act."

I don't believe this would make a difference. Justice is administered through the application of force. People identify with, and are willing to die for the preservation of, their country. International organizations? Not so much. And if an international organization was to acquire an enforcement arm that could enforce its laws on all the nations of the world, then for all intents and purposes, it is the state. And if they then start to ease the rules and regularly wink and nod at the torture of prisoners, what then?

Relying on yet another level of authority won't do. Any new higher level authority will either be faced with the same temptations at some point or lack the power to confront and deal with a strong independent nation. It's the citizens who have to insist on a firmly upheld, well-defined standard and hold their government accountable as best they can.
posted by BigSky at 6:24 PM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


ASMPA seems to be one of those cute little meaningless laws that apply to anybody but us. Nothing new there. I can't see the US agreeing to let foreign judges rule over our soldiers and civil servants in this situation--it's both an embarrassment and a comfort to be protected this way.

(I'd actually put Rumsfeld and Cheney in chains and drag them to the airplane if the French wanted to put them on trial for committing war crimes. Yeah, I know, that's inconsistent, but it's one of those little things that get me to feel all warm and fuzzy in the wee hours of the morning.)

I'm outraged that we won't police our own excesses. This is a shameful thing. I was horrified by the Bush administration's policies regarding torture. When I was on active duty, torture was not acceptable. Prisoners were supposed to be treated well. I realize that this ideal was not always observed, but the policy was what it was, and it was generally enforced. The rationale was that enemy combatants who thought they'd be tortured were less likely to surrender. Prisoners who were well treated were more likely to give helpful intellligence. We executed people for war crimes, and called those who commited them barbarians. This fit quite nicely into our own notions of being Americans, the good guys.

Bush officially changed that image, and the Batshit Brigades of the right crowed with glee. This was disgusting to watch. It was viscerally unsettling because it seemed to show how easily we could be transformed into what we were fighting against.

I had this back-burner notion that Obama would try to bring us back into the light in this respect. I guess I was wrong.
posted by mule98J at 6:27 PM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


The better position to take is to hold an absolute line against torture and then if someone is faced with one of the hypothetical situations supposedly requiring the use of torture, e.g. bomb on a school bus, opening of "Dr. Strangelove", they can act as they see necessary and make their case when requesting a pardon.

This is exactly right. And we shouldn't be giving pardons, either. If you're absolutely convinced that torturing someone in your custody is necessary, you go right ahead and do it, and then go do the 20 years of hard time in exchange.

If it matters enough that you're willing to give up most of your working life, then and only then can you torture a suspect. No pardons, no paroles, 20 years straight up is the price. Is it worth it? Then go for it.
posted by Malor at 6:36 PM on September 2, 2012 [21 favorites]


I get that it's entirely possible that the DoJ really, sincerely did its investigations and concluded that they just plain weren't ever going to get convictions. I understand that. But this was never treated as the fire-breathing priority that it should have been by this administration. It never received the holy-shit-this-isn't-okay-ever rhetoric that it should've gotten. I just don't find those factors forgivable.

Between this and the NDAA... yeah, I just don't see how I can vote for Obama again. I get that Romney is horrible. I really do understand. But the fact is that if I vote for Obama, I'm voting for more of this.

I don't see how I can do that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:40 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


(btw: I'm not saying I'll vote for Romney, either. Wouldn't, couldn't do that. But I might have to abstain, because holy shit.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:41 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, but... the beer recipes! And the Reddit AMA!
posted by gman at 6:47 PM on September 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


Yeah, that's where I've been for about three years, scaryblackdeath. I can't vote for Obama. I just can't. I will not put my name behind torture. And I'm appalled that my only options are cruelty and insanity.
posted by Malor at 6:58 PM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't think that prosecuting someone without any actual usable evidence is going to result in any kind of justice. It sounds like the goal is to punish a person via prosecution. That kind thinking where punish regardless of evidence is awfully close to the kind of thinking that created Gitmo, allowed the approval of torture, etc.
posted by humanfont at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2012


Those who prosecute war crimes are the REAL war criminals, if you stop to think about it.
posted by gerryblog at 7:02 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obama's got to fix this. I'll be voting for Obama.
posted by cashman at 7:13 PM on September 2, 2012


humanfont : I don't think that prosecuting someone without any actual usable evidence is going to result in any kind of justice.

"Golly, I just don't know how that guy managed to kill himself... With a cattle-prod up his ass... With his hands tied behind his back... Alone in a locked cell... With 24 hour surveillance (that seems to have magically gone blank) and two guards posted outside the door at all times."

Sometimes, circumstantial evidence counts as "enough".
posted by pla at 7:15 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm looking forward, not backward. And I don't see anything. Do you?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:20 PM on September 2, 2012


What DOJ convictions overwhelmingly rely upon is wiretapped admissions and people who turn state's evidence to get lenience. That CIA agents are too careful to admit crimes on a bugged line, and too smart and loyal to flip on each other, is unsurprising. I'd bet DOJ was hoping for something unrelated (mortgage fraud, kid caught dealing pot in his dorm room) to flip someone at CIA and failing that, had to give up.
posted by MattD at 7:21 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyone who votes for Obama is giving a mandate for more of the same. I'm voting Jill Stein.

Well, that's stupid.

Do you want to punish the Democratic Party for this? Vote Republican. Nothing else works. Politicians understand only one thing. 'Will this keep my job or not?'

Why do you think the Tea Party has become a dominant force in US politics? Because they will happily vote against republicans who aren't toeing the line. They do so in the primaries and the general. They deliberately make the GOP lose races to make sure that the compromise wing of the GOP is punished. The seated GOP sees this, and stops compromising.

So, you want to make the Democratic party listen to you? It's easy. Support the candidate in the primaries that you belive in, and if they lose, *vote GOP* in the general and throw the compromising bastard out.

The reason the Democratic Party has moved right in the last 25 years? Because you've rewarded them for it.

For me? No more. This tears it. Obama is out.
posted by eriko at 7:30 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are all Orpheus now.
posted by indubitable at 7:30 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward, not backward. And I don't see anything. Do you?

I just wonder how many years before these guys figure they can get away with using tactical nuclear weapons. Obama's second term, or Ryan's first?
posted by gerryblog at 7:31 PM on September 2, 2012


What DOJ convictions overwhelmingly rely upon is wiretapped admissions and people who turn state's evidence to get lenience. That CIA agents are too careful to admit crimes on a bugged line, and too smart and loyal to flip on each other, is unsurprising. I'd bet DOJ was hoping for something unrelated (mortgage fraud, kid caught dealing pot in his dorm room) to flip someone at CIA and failing that, had to give up.

Of course, CIA are also known to discharge agents who open themselves up to that kind of blackmail by hostile agents, has an entire department to check for these issues, and deals with people who require a lot less proof than DoJ to be a threat.

So yeah, I guess I can see this argument.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama's got to fix this. I'll be voting for Obama.

Obama did this. I'm not sure why you think he'd fix it. He thinks the house looks fine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:33 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am honestly sorry to phrase it so brutally, but this sentiment suffers from the delusion that criticism of these practices meant anything before the second that Obama took office. Bush was reelected just fine on his 'we don't torture, wink wink' platform.

Bush is barely mentioned by his own party nowadays. President Obama chose to ratify his policies by not opposing them -- and barring a viable third party, they are now regarded as permanent. If this were a crime, he would be called an "accessory".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:34 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you want to punish the Democratic Party for this? Vote Republican. Nothing else works.

The police didn't catch the guy who mugged me. It's time to put the muggers in charge.
posted by gerryblog at 7:35 PM on September 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


If this were a crime, he would be called an "accessory".

Just to be clear, under our treaty obligations it is a crime.
posted by gerryblog at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, you want to make the Democratic party listen to you? It's easy. Support the candidate in the primaries that you belive in, and if they lose, *vote GOP* in the general and throw the compromising bastard out.

eriko, that is absolutely terrible advice. The Democratic party is compromised by the military-congressional-industrial complex, but the current GOP adores warfare, and the military as a first option.

Let's not forget how we ended up in Iraq in the first place. Let's also not forget that the decision to turn our reaction to September 11th into a cosmic battle of good and evil was made by the person sitting in that office, and led to the rational for much of the torture and murder we committed in the aftermath. That's what happens when you elect a spiritual leader instead of someone who is capable of understanding the world beyond simplistic ideological constructs. Even if you think Romney isn't that stupid, what makes you think he's got the backbone to take a principled stand against everyone else in the party?

The Rovian machinations of the GOP, and the way they manipulate their own supporters into sending their sons and daughters to fight for a war that they knew was a complete fabrication, is proof that the last thing they give a damn about is why they are in power. They just want the power. That's it. I wouldn't give it to them again to punish Obama, because there are millions more — in America and abroad — that will suffer for it.
posted by deanklear at 7:51 PM on September 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't believe this would make a difference. Justice is administered through the application of force. People identify with, and are willing to die for the preservation of, their country. International organizations? Not so much.

People are willing to die for the preservation of their values, which often happens to be encompassed in a nation state. That doesn't mean there's no support for an international court as a check to aggressive imperial power. Many countries have signed up, and many people across the world support it.

And if an international organization was to acquire an enforcement arm that could enforce its laws on all the nations of the world, then for all intents and purposes, it is the state. And if they then start to ease the rules and regularly wink and nod at the torture of prisoners, what then?

When did the ICC apply to rewrite every law? Have you read even a summary of what the Rome Statute is?
Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the core international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression) in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. The court can investigate crimes only in states that signed the Rome Statute unless authorized by the U.N. Security Council. Thus, the majority of international crimes continue to go unpunished.[citation needed] Solutions to impunity can be found by improving justice at the domestic level, or by more states becoming signatories to the Statute.
Relying on yet another level of authority won't do. Any new higher level authority will either be faced with the same temptations at some point or lack the power to confront and deal with a strong independent nation. It's the citizens who have to insist on a firmly upheld, well-defined standard and hold their government accountable as best they can.

The ICC lacks the power to confront the United States, but that doesn't mean they'll declare war with the army they don't have. Just as any other criminal, American perpetrators of war crimes will be forced to stay in countries that don't extradite to the ICC, be subject to travel restrictions, possibly have their overseas assets frozen, etc. Or something even crazier might happen: America may agree to be subject to the laws we claim apply to everyone else. Not that I'm holding my breath.
posted by deanklear at 8:13 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


eriko: "Do you want to punish the Democratic Party for this? Vote Republican. Nothing else works. "

No, I want to reward Jill Stein for speaking the truth.

Obama has had the mike in his hands thousands of times and has had the opportunity to speak the truth. He hasn't done it.

The two major parties are wings of the same party. They squabble, they argue over token issues, but the worst abuses in the US have bipartisan support. Fuck them both.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:19 PM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair
posted by deanklear at 8:30 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, I want to reward Jill Stein for speaking the truth.

Jill Stein is not going to be rewarded. Ever.

Voting Stein, or just plain abstaining, might very well reward Romney. Rove is counting on it.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:33 PM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Does Jill Stein have a stated position on these issues? Her site is woefully vague. I did find, on (presidential nominee) Gary Johnson's site, the following, about his positions on foreign policy:
posted by Alt F4 at 8:35 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Malor was there ever a time when you actually supported Obama? I hope you don't consider this an insult, but I wouldn't have expected you to ever be a mainstream candidate voter. No need to hide it.

The two major parties are wings of the same party. They squabble, they argue over token issues, but the worst abuses in the US have bipartisan support. Fuck them both.

Token issues like the idea of a withdrawl date from Afghanistan, how agressicely we should be in confrontng Iran, universal access to Health care, banking regulation and the existence of climate change.
posted by humanfont at 8:37 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Malor was there ever a time when you actually supported Obama? I hope you don't consider this an insult, but I wouldn't have expected you to ever be a mainstream candidate voter. No need to hide it.

I voted for him, in 2008. I was actually stupid enough to believe his speeches. He was just dogwhistling to me, but I believed him, and donated to his campaign.... twice, I think, one for the primary and once for the general election. I thought he was unambiguously better than Hillary.

Such a schmuck, I was.
posted by Malor at 8:43 PM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Obama did this. I'm not sure why you think he'd fix it. He thinks the house looks fine.

Think what you want. Vote for who you want. I'll be voting for Obama. I have friends and family members who have a lot to lose if Romney gets elected, which is the guaranteed outcome if Obama doesn't win. If you're privileged enough to fuck around, go for it. I'll be voting Obama, and he will need to fix this issue.
posted by cashman at 8:44 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does lack of indoor plumbing and making 15k a year count as privileged?

I am not fucking around in not voting Obama. He's had a term to show what he's made of, and it's tapioca pudding. Obama will not fix this issue, and the abuses will continue.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I voted for him, in 2008. I was actually stupid enough to believe his speeches. He was just dogwhistling to me, but I believed him, and donated to his campaign.... twice, I think, one for the primary and once for the general election. I thought he was unambiguously better than Hillary.

Such a schmuck, I was.


I felt pretty similarly. With my politics, there is no voting other than strategic voting, and I honestly believed that Obama was too smart not to govern according to his campaigning; surely he wouldn't risk the machine and support he'd built, right?

I thought I was more cynical than I really was; had I been more cynical, I'd have been more correct, both about myself and Obama.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Think what you want. Vote for who you want. I'll be voting for Obama. I have friends and family members who have a lot to lose if Romney gets elected, which is the guaranteed outcome if Obama doesn't win. If you're privileged enough to fuck around, go for it. I'll be voting Obama, and he will need to fix this issue.

Shit, man, I'm probably going to vote for the guy, but in this case it's going to be purely because while I'm not an Obama fan, I fucking loathe Romney and Ryan.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


and he will need to fix this issue.

Or what? You guys will vote democrat again?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


he will need to fix this issue

He needed to fix it four years ago. Now? Fuck him. He's accomplished nothing more than I have toward restoring respect for the U.S., and it's his job to do it.
posted by spacewrench at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm actually pretty liberal, despite the fact that I think the libertarians are very right about some things. Classic liberalism is pretty close to what I believe -- modern libertarianism shares many of the same ideas. I really believe in personal responsibility and the government staying the hell out of the economy, and never bailing anyone out, ever, but at the same time, I also recognize that we need a fair bit of government to reduce overall social friction and improve freedom for as many people as possible.

And I didn't arrive at the belief in commodity money because I'm a wingnut conservative, but rather because I'm intensely aware of the magnitude of the abuses being perpetrated by the Fed, and the unbelievable costs that are going to come due as a result. I don't think ANYONE should have that much power, and that's why I think commodity money is important. I fell into it backwards; I didn't start with that as a given, I arrived there as a conclusion.

I actually vehemently disagreed with goldbugs in my youth, and still do in many ways: I don't think gold is magic. I just think having SOME hard limit on how much currency can be issued puts a hard limit on how stupid the politicians and central bankers can be. Commodity currency is the central check and balance on bad economic ideas, the line in the sand that says 'this far, and no farther'. It prevents things from getting too badly out of balance. This is not popular, especially with bankers, but popularity is not a measure of correctness.

So, given my beliefs, I thought Obama was actually a pretty good match. He certainly SOUNDED that way. I thought he had the ability to be one of the Truly Great Presidents, at a time when we desperately needed one.

He fooled me more thoroughly than holdkris99 did. He snowed me so bad.
posted by Malor at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sure, Obama let war criminals walk and supported bankster bailouts and put Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table during debt ceiling negotiations and can't quite seem to get around to addressing global warming in any meaningful way, but at least he's got the guts to put the screws to Bradley Manning.
posted by Karmadillo at 9:10 PM on September 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Nader was right from the get-go, as usual.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:10 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I vote for candidates that support my most important positions (right now, military budget, tax reform, and energy policy) since by having a consistent policy of doing so, then candidates gain an incentive to support my positions. If I only try to vote to affect elections, then I'm throwing away part of the discriminatory power I have.

If an election were unusually important to me (e.g. if Romney claimed that he would execute everyone with a Metafilter account) then it might be to my advantage to make an exception to that policy. But there's no reason for me to believe that this election is exceptional; if I were to make an exception and vote "strategically" for a candidate I didn't endorse, I'd probably be faced with an equally compelling case in 2016 and 2020.

So in the interest of having a long-term impact, I'm going to stick to my policy of voting for candidates who I would actually want to elect, and I encourage other voters who share my views to do the same.
posted by value of information at 9:12 PM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem is pretty simple. Our technology, and by extension our ability to wage war and cause harm, has evolved astronomically faster than we have as a species. We got way too high on our own supply, and the cocaine buzz of cheap oil gave us the tools of the gods without any wisdom as company. I don't see a good way out of that pickle. It's kind of a dill-breaker.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:19 PM on September 2, 2012


I vote for candidates that support my most important positions (right now, military budget, tax reform, and energy policy) since by having a consistent policy of doing so, then candidates gain an incentive to support my positions. If I only try to vote to affect elections, then I'm throwing away part of the discriminatory power I have.

Vastly overestimating the power of the individual is one of liberalism's major weaknesses.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:25 PM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Maybe 3 Supreme Court judges. That's the bottom line, IMO. Romney/Ryan plus maybe a Republican house making 3 SC picks? Can you even imagine?
posted by jaduncan at 9:29 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


So if we all vote for Obama because we all know Romney would be worse... where is the incentive for Obama to stop being a fuck-up? My hopes were never actually that high. I never bought into him being a transformational figure. But I figured he'd at least be worth... I dunno, 60% of a decent president.

Seriously, how do we turn this into a motivating, humiliating (because I refuse to think he deserves anything less) re-election? This shit is intolerable. Our "hope and change" turned out to be "marginally less horrifying than the previous complete fuck-up, but still a fuck-up."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:31 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm very aware that he's been paralyzed by the obstructionist Congress. I do blame him for not standing up and fighting visibly for what's important, but I don't blame him for not getting that much through Congress.

But in the stuff that's purely in the Executive Branch, he's been boots-in-faces-forever 100% of the time. Just absolutely unacceptable.
posted by Malor at 9:37 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


But in the stuff that's purely in the Executive Branch, he's been boots-in-faces-forever 100% of the time. Just absolutely unacceptable.

More concerned with not giving the Republicans space to criticise rather than doing the right thing, IMO.
posted by jaduncan at 9:44 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Bush deserved a second term based on his performance, then I think Obama deserves to at least be considered for reelection.

As a foreigner, my main interest in the US election is to defer WWIII as long as possible. Please consider electing the candidate least likely to bomb Iran, thank you.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:45 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Please consider electing the candidate least likely to bomb Iran, thank you.

I have some terrible news.
posted by gerryblog at 9:53 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Bush deserved a second term based on his performance, then I think Obama deserves to at least be considered for reelection.

Thank you.
posted by cashman at 9:53 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


About now it should dawn on all of us that we are in an abusive relationship with the two party system. Sure, it keeps beating us, but we know it loves us. It'll turn around, it'll learn. We just gotta be patient. We can't quit us. We vote third party and it might turn out terribly, and we'll just die alone.


DTMFA
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:59 PM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Seriously, how do we turn this into a motivating, humiliating (because I refuse to think he deserves anything less) re-election? This shit is intolerable. Our "hope and change" turned out to be "marginally less horrifying than the previous complete fuck-up, but still a fuck-up."

I don't believe an election provides enough bandwidth for that. Let's imagine that the winner of this election might take different messages from different margins of victory. I don't think that variation carries much information for the victor. A resounding victory would of course mean "keep doing what you're doing". But a narrow victory for Obama doesn't indicate which of Obama's many policies and decisions should change for his next term.

Torture happens to very salient to you, but if he were to try to interpret the election, the message Obama would take from his margin of victory depends on what he thinks is on most voters' minds. And I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that he thinks the economy is what's on most voter's minds, and so he would interpret this election as a referendum on his economic policies.

Setting aside the hypothetical of Obama's interpretation of his margin of victory, I believe that by far a more concrete effect of his margin of victory on his next term would be the Congresspeople that do or do not ride on his coattails. What issues Obama chooses to address, and how he chooses to address them, will depend strongly on the makeup of Congress.
posted by Jpfed at 10:02 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jpfed, I'm going to go further and suggest that America has a plurality (and maybe even a majority) broadly in favour of [Jack Bauer/Jack Ryan/other CIA types who may or may not be called Jack] torturing terrorists because:

a) information;
b) war on terrorists;
c) America #1, rah rah rah;
d) they really like the idea of torturing terrorists on a retributional level.

Human rights or due process concerns are thus absolute vote losers compared to rah-rah-go-team James Bond bullshit, and since American presidents have to be the national phallic symbol anything that can be painted as foreign policy compromise is, again, a vote killer. Cynical, eh?
posted by jaduncan at 10:11 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Believe it or not: where a percentage of a vote goes matters.

Just because it doesn't directly effect who the immediate election cycle the message is received. You vote for a candidate that isn't Red or Blue but is against torture, guess what? That is noticed. That fucks with their strategy next cycle. They ask, How do we get this 1%, 5%, 15% of the vote? We need every fucking percentage to win. Well, it'll be tricky because history says, that apparently they take torture seriously enough to say No Thanks to both Tea and Coffee! We'll need to rethink the entire breakfast! Maybe grapefruit juice should be offered? Maybe that will get them to join us?

If there isn't a candidate to back, then back an idea.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:12 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Bush deserved a second term based on his performance

Is someone actually making the argument that Bush deserved a second term?

Please consider electing the candidate least likely to bomb Iran, thank you.

I suppose when the consequences are massive, even a minute difference in probability becomes significant, but as far as I know neither major party candidate has said anything to differentiate themselves on this issue.
posted by BigSky at 10:15 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who cares who wins the presidency if we lose. This isn't two sports teams, we don't need to support a winner, we don't need to be proud. Support a loser, support our nation. Vote not for what will hurt less, but what matters more. Vote for not who, but what.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:16 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is time to start losing battles worth losing, instead of just letting them try winning war not worth winning.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:20 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone take over for me, I'm furious.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:20 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just can't fathom the logic of these threads at all. Either Obama will be president in 2013, or Romney will. Even focusing on foreign policy/civil rights, and even accounting for Obama's many failures and flaws, it's no contest.

One has banned use of torture, the other is for it.

One ordered Gitmo closed on day one, the other would double it.

One uses diplomacy, cyberespionage, and drone warfare, the other wouldn't think twice about INVADING IRAN. That alone is a tremendous military, diplomatic, and human rights clusterfuck waiting to happen.

There is not one issue I can think of on which Romney offers better policy, and so many where he is proudly worse. So why acquiesce to him gaining power to make those lurches backward a reality?

There are so many opportunities to work for a civil libertarian in our system -- party primaries, pressure groups, debates, recalls. Those are the most effective places to punish candidates who stray without jeopardizing the future. But a general election for all practical purposes is an A/B comparison test. So, re-elect the guy who did some great things and some terrible things, or replace him with the guy who would reverse the great things and double down on the terrible things?

I don't believe an election provides enough bandwidth for that.

Some people treat voting like it's intercessory prayer, a direct line to the mind of President God. And praying to the wrong god will irrevocably taint your soul.

Voting isn't magic, or telepathic, or a permanent psychic branding. It's picking between two dudes who have starkly different outlooks on how to handle our military and security state. If you hate and are disgusted by what Obama's doing or not doing for civil liberties, Romney would at best do exactly the same, and realistically so much worse. (Not to mention the myriad differences in critical domestic policy -- taxes, gay rights, Medicare, the entire public sector.) It's occasional backsliding vs. full-tilt sprint. At least re-electing Obama would preserve the current crummy status quo in this area while broadening the opening for a better candidate in future primary and election cycles. Whereas a Republican win, on the verge of this political and societal abyss we're leaning into, would put an end to that.

Nothing would be more helpful to the proponents of torture, military adventurism, and xenophobia than for the good people who support sane foreign policy to splinter into a few thousand ineffectual protest votes that, if the 2000 election is any guide, will have zero effect on the political dialogue or the behavior of the parties apart from getting a radical conservative government into power.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:37 PM on September 2, 2012 [28 favorites]


If your vote doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. If your vote (or lack of vote) can't get someone who would pursue the right policy into the White House, it's highly unlikely that it can "send a message" that will make a real difference two or three elections from now. Not in a world where election results are determined by multiple issues, not all of which are even under the control of politicians, and seem somewhat cyclical anyway.
posted by leopard at 10:37 PM on September 2, 2012


apart from getting a radical conservative government into power.

Not just the legislature and executive, either. Maybe 3 Supremes. It's almost inevitable that the Supremes will be the longest legacy.
posted by jaduncan at 10:43 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and if the Supremes shift a bit and we get same-sex marriage, I'm claiming this as post title:

"Everybody's Got the Right to Love - The Supremes"
posted by jaduncan at 10:45 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Presidential elections have nothing to do with policy and all to do with winning. That is exactly why you can vote for a losing party and have an effect on policy. Even if everyone votes differently, splinters into a million micro parties, changes nothing in the immediate, it is by having any significant percentage not vote FOR that requires a strategy meeting.

The question they must ask is simple: How do we retake those demographics in the next election?

Well, sir, they apparently think we should close Gitmo. So, we should actually get around to doing that then. Yes, sir, if we do not then the other team might figure out how to gain their support and our seats will be fucked in 2014.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:49 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you don't live in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or maybe Virginia, or Wisconsin, your vote doesn't matter, period. Vote however you want, tell yourself you're sending some grand message, because no one gives a fuck. Your state is already predestined to succumb to the masses of SSID drawing, "keep your Government hands off my Medicare" mouthbreathers, or else doomed to be overwhelmed by arugula-munching, gay-marriage supporting hipsters riding to the polls on their fixies listening to Vampire Weekend while ignoring the red light.

But if you do live in one of those 5 states, or realistically approximately 15-18 counties that will decide the election, well, you better consider exactly how much is the difference between the two evils, and really get down to the fine grain analysis on the various issues to determine if you really want an Turd Sandwich or a Giant Douche.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:49 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your vote matters if you don't vote for who you are expected to vote for. It only doesn't matter if you conform to what they predict you to do. I dunno, maybe you are pretty predictable, what with you wearing THAT outfit again. I mean, come on, you wore that same ensemble Tuesday.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry if this has already been posted. Desmond Tutu, op-ed piece in the Guardian:

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history. [...]

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush's chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?"

posted by phaedon at 11:06 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama: A proud voice for mediocrity and stagnation. Under his second term, the USA accelerates into madess and decay at a lesser rate than it would otherwise for another four years. Unless it doesn't.

Romney: An empty vessel in the form of a human male through which the Republican agenda is focused and channeled from the Outer Darkness. Gaze too deep into the Romney, and the Romney gazes into you.

Stein et al:
A vote for a "3rd" party candidate won't get that person any closer to power of course, but gives the voter a strong feeling of integrity and confidence. A similar effect can be achieved by doing push-ups outside a polling station.

(abstention):
Oh, right, you're just sooo above it all. Well, the rest of us all got American flag stickers that say "I VOTED" and we are not sharing, Mr. Cynical.
posted by eurypteris at 11:17 PM on September 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yes, you have an impact on policy by being part of a visible political coalition with the power to inflict pain and bestow rewards on politicians throughout the system.

Or you could pull a Nader, and ignore all the issues where the parties are different, and ignore the fact that Bush's victory in 2000 did not magically lead to a leftward shift by the Democrats.
posted by leopard at 11:19 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your forgot the 5th option, eurypteris, which is of course to burn down the polling station.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:21 PM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


There seems to be some sort of willful dismissal of the fact that voting results have weight in political strategy decisions. The vote for Nader DID influence democratic policy. Without that visible voting bloc to cater to we may not have even had Obama. He may not have even been offered by the Democratic Party.

Elections are about WINNING.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:22 PM on September 2, 2012


Are the voting machines still easy to hack? Maybe Donald Duck should win Ohio this time around.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:22 PM on September 2, 2012


Without that visible voting bloc to cater to we may not have even had Obama. He may not have even been offered by the Democratic Party.

Oh, so we have Nader voters to blame for Obama? Thanks guys.
posted by leopard at 11:23 PM on September 2, 2012


to Justice














.
posted by liza at 11:31 PM on September 2, 2012


By elections are about Winning I mean: whatever they think they can do to win they will do. And they decide on what they can do depending on the actual situation. What alienates their existing supporters, what brings in those that have strayed? If during the presidential election they lost 5% of voters to third parties and they were voters that should have voted for Obama then they will respond. They will villify them, they will try to round them up, they will try to bring them back into the fold. They will order their people to do surveys. They will demand to know what the hell do these people want.

And with elections becoming closer and closer then even just 1% of the vote matters. They will respond because elections are about winning, elections are not about the party's unshakeable values, or unbreakable corruption, or even the politicians-- it is about winning. And if they can cater they will.

And if by catering they have to honor their promises....
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:33 PM on September 2, 2012


BURN DOWN THE POLLING STATION: They say violence never solves anything, but they never said anything about FIRE.
posted by eurypteris at 11:33 PM on September 2, 2012


(and I mean that in jocular response to AElfwine's comment above, sorry)
posted by eurypteris at 12:04 AM on September 3, 2012


ceribus peribus: Are the voting machines still easy to hack? Maybe Donald Duck should win Ohio this time around.
I'm in favor of this; while I think fraudulent voting is a myth propped up by Republicans to justify Jim Crow-esque anti-voting, anti-American laws... if we're going to do the time, we might as well do the crime. Determined hackers should find a way to make these electronic voting machines in say Ohio or Florida force an outcome of electing "Legalize Pot" as a write-in candidate for President.

It wouldn't stick, naturally, and the news story would be epic (as well as the two month pitched battle to determine the actual president), but it would either result in a revived conversation about ending the War on Drugs... or much-needed scrutiny into the inexcusable lack of security or integrity in blackbox voting machines.

Either way... we win the Xanatos Gambit.

/pets white Persian cat sitting in lap
posted by hincandenza at 1:14 AM on September 3, 2012


Some people treat voting like it's intercessory prayer, a direct line to the mind of President God. And praying to the wrong god will irrevocably taint your soul...It's picking between two dudes who have starkly different outlooks on how to handle our military and security state...

Nothing would be more helpful to the proponents of torture, military adventurism, and xenophobia than for the good people who support sane foreign policy to splinter into a few thousand ineffectual protest votes that, if the 2000 election is any guide, will have zero effect on the political dialogue or the behavior of the parties apart from getting a radical conservative government into power.


I don't think this is a reasonable way to get good candidates elected to government.

There are many incentives driving candidates to be corrupt, shortsighted, willfully blind, and so on. It seems to me that a candidate will behave as awfully for the public as he possibly can, as long as he thinks he stands a chance of still getting elected at that particular level of terribleness.

If our strategy remains "vote for the least bad electable candidate," then the electable candidates can easily decide how terrible to be; slightly but noticeably less terrible than their competitors. In my opinion, that is still way too terrible, and I think there will be big catastrophes within my lifetime if that's the best we can field.

The only way to get candidates to be good is to make good get more votes than "slightly less terrible", and the only way to do that is to draw a line where you will only vote for candidates who are sufficiently good. (Or weight how good they are, and roll a die to determine whether or not you'll vote.)

Of course, there are many other things you can do outside of voting that are more effective, if you want to improve our government. But as long as most candidates are terrible, this seems to me like the best way to vote effectively.
posted by value of information at 1:18 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


You will pay.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:45 AM on September 3, 2012


dunkadunc: "The two major parties are wings of the same party. They squabble, they argue over token issues, but the worst abuses in the US have bipartisan support. Fuck them both."

I would absolutely love to fuck them both, but this can't be achieved by a small minority of us deciding to sit out elections or vote for third party candidates. The math is stacked heavily against us in that scenario.

I see the best course as being to vote for whatever jackhole running for federal office is likely to do the least damage during their term. Terribly unfulfilling, that. Fortunately, that doesn't have to be the end of it. We can work within our states to change the election laws. First, eliminate gerrymandering by adopting a mathematical algorithm by which the district lines are drawn, and second, adopt one of the many non-FPTP election systems. Preference voting, IRV, whatever, they're all better than what we've got. Most of us have tools at our disposal that bypass our state legislatures, so it's not an impossible task. Everyone but the most extreme partisans in the tank for the two major parties hates the inevitable conclusion of the current system.

That's not the end, but it gets the ball rolling, and makes a vote for a third party viable without actually increasing the chances of your least favorite option winning the election. More reasonable elections in enough states can change the makeup of Congress enough to get further action taken at the federal level.

I guess you could sit out all the elections between now and then, but I'd rather whatever decent leaders we eventually end up with to have the smallest possible hole to to get us out of.

Yeah, it's making the best of shitty choices. Sadly, life is largely a series of shitty choices that one has to make during the interminable wait for the eventual end. Sitting out doesn't actually do anything other than salve your conscience. That's OK as far as it goes, and is positive to the extent that it makes you feel better, but it doesn't actually solve the problem.
posted by wierdo at 3:38 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've given money to Jill Stein and support her candidacy. But I am deeply conflicted about whether to vote for her. I'm essentially being held at gunpoint by the Democratic Party - vote for me or you'll get MITT ROMNEY! - and the question is, do I give the mugger my money or whack him in the face and run away?

Can I vote for the person who ordered the 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman Al-Alwaki murdered? Who assumes that adult males in a foreign country are "militants" whom we have the right to kill unilaterally? What if that's also the same person who put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court and enacted a (deeply flawed but still workable) universal healthcare program?

Republicans are content in their choice, but the rest of us vote by duress, and it is deeply distressing that this is what my participation in our democracy has to look like.
posted by moammargaret at 5:26 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


So we think the United States military and intelligence agencies are or have used torture since Obama issued an executive order banning the use of torture? We are going to rebuke Obama for acts alleged to have occurred under a different administration?

Seems to me Obama did change the way things are done as promised. I don't remember him running on a promise to prosecute war criminals (Rumsfeld, Cheney et al.). I would support a public censure of Obama through a Move On petition in it we need to express our displeasure and call for a more progressive 2nd term.

We never should have been in Iraq but we cannot change the fact. Afghanistan and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are another thing. Terrorism is a tool of insurgency, there is no way to fight a war in a humane fashion. I don't condone harsh interrogation techniques and the death of a prisoner is a matter of grave concern that should have been addressed immediately it wasn't a failing of the previous administration not Obama. Do you want show trials? If the DOJ says it can't generate enough evidence for convictions what is the point of a trial?

A powerful piece of theater could be written and performed call it War Crimes and have the neocons prosecuted in a court get it written by someone like Sorkin get it on Broadway or in the movie houses. It might be cathartic. War crime is kind of redundant as well as an oxymoron. War is the crime and it is never the fault of a few. American citizens needed to put a stop to the insanity before it was done. Prosecutions at this point are just recriminations. I was at an anti-war rally with 50000 Portlanders in March 2003 didn't make the national news as I recall we were at war a few days later.

Be disappointed in Obama I know I am and will tell him so. I can't let Romney and the right wing fringe any more chances to put us in Iran.
posted by pdxpogo at 5:37 AM on September 3, 2012


Strike "wasn't a failing" to "was a failing" oh to have an edit feature on the blue..
posted by pdxpogo at 5:41 AM on September 3, 2012


We vote in a first-past-the-post system with a secret ballot in a system where votes count most in swing states. There is no way to send a message, literally or figuratively. I mean, you can choose to punish the President and/or the national party, but there is no way that they can discern your message. They will in all likelihood just think that they need to pander to a shrinking number of swing voters.

The only way to do it is to change or remove the parties from the ground up. It won't be easy, and it will take a long time, certainly more than one or two elections. Change begins at the local level and works its way up, not the other way around. The current incarnation of the GOP has been wildly successful at this, even through Clinton and Obama, but it took them several decades to do. But they did manage to take over the state and local parties every 10 years just in time for the census, and therefore controlled redistricting. This was not a coincidence.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:44 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


You do have a way to send a message even if it doesn't always work. The Tea Party is showing you how. You primary the hell out of any Democratic candidate that looks right wing. That's what primaries are there for - to make sure that the candidate represents you if you can. And then when the primary is over you vote against the empty suit that is Mitt Romney.

As for Obama not having done anything, he hasn't done enough. But Obamacare alone means he's done more good than any other American president in my lifetime.
posted by Francis at 6:20 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Republicans are content in their choice, but the rest of us vote by duress, and it is deeply distressing that this is what my participation in our democracy has to look like."

The really dramatic failures of empathy on metafilter can be really interesting.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:25 AM on September 3, 2012


ceribus peribus : If Bush deserved a second term based on his performance, then I think Obama deserves to at least be considered for reelection.

But... We The People decided not to give Bush a second term. Our system of government by the oligarchy, of the oligarchy, and for the oligarchy, decided to overrule the proles and let Bush the Elder's little man have a second game despite having run out of quarters.



eurypteris : (abstention): Oh, right, you're just sooo above it all. Well, the rest of us all got American flag stickers that say "I VOTED" and we are not sharing, Mr. Cynical.

Loved the other three, but this year, I think I may well just stay home. Not because I feel "above it all", but because I have no interest on wasting my time voting for an unelectable 3rd party (and I say that as someone registered Green), and because I don't really see a benefit to Obama or Romney.

You want me to care? Let's get an actually electable fiscal conservative/social liberal on the ticket. Until then, every election (except Bush-the-younger, voting against him counted as a no-brainer) of my adult life so far has amounted to deciding whether I found the candidate more likely to spend us into penury or put us in chains for what we do in the bedroom.

You want me to care? Put a Bill Clinton back in the oval office. I absolutely hated his choices for AGs, but he ran the country like a well-oiled machine despite having congress against him.
posted by pla at 6:45 AM on September 3, 2012


Republicans are content in their choice, but the rest of us vote by duress

This is the opposite of reality. Obama is more popular among democrats and liberals than romneybis among republicans and conservatives.
posted by empath at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2012


You do have a way to send a message even if it doesn't always work. The Tea Party is showing you how.

You are aware that the Tea Party is essentially a highly-organized and well-funded arm of the Republican Party, almost entirely run by former or current GOP officials and lobbyists, that exists as way of providing messaging from the elected officials to the voters rather than the other way around, right?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:48 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obama is more popular among democrats and liberals than romneybis among republicans and conservatives.

Yeah, but opinion isn't important. It's votes that matter, and I suspect conservatives hate Obama a hell of a lot more than they hate Romney.
posted by Malor at 7:00 AM on September 3, 2012


hincandenza : Either way... we win the Xanatos Gambit.

Damn you, there goes half my morning!

I dread the day some clever marketers figure out the addictive secret behind tvtropes.
posted by pla at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I vote for the person who ordered the 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman Al-Alwaki murdered? Who assumes that adult males in a foreign country are "militants" whom we have the right to kill unilaterally? What if that's also the same person who put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court and enacted a (deeply flawed but still workable) universal healthcare program?

If a murderer gives you shiny presents, he's still a murderer.

Trading away the foundations of our justice system for Sotomayor and a crippled health care system reminds me of a transaction involving Manhattan and some glass beads.
posted by Malor at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


But... We The People decided not to give Bush a second term.

I thought that happened during his first campaign, against Gore, not the reelection campaign against Kerry?
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2012


Justice has been done over.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:14 AM on September 3, 2012


Trading away the foundations of our justice system for Sotomayor and a crippled health care system reminds me of a transaction involving Manhattan and some glass beads.

Trading away rights for women, GLBT, minorities, and the poor for what is in practical terms a salve for one's conscience isn't any better.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:16 AM on September 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


ceribus peribus : I thought that happened during his first campaign, against Gore, not the reelection campaign against Kerry?

Ah, you have it right. Wishful thinking - I must have blocked out the fact that we voluntarily put that loser back in office. ;)
posted by pla at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2012


A powerful piece of theater could be written and performed call it War Crimes

Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror"
posted by moammargaret at 7:22 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The really dramatic failures of empathy on metafilter can be really interesting.

Failures of empathy? What the hell is that even supposed to mean?

I said that Republicans are content to vote for him, not jumping for joy at voting for him.
posted by moammargaret at 7:26 AM on September 3, 2012


As I recall, Obama was pretty clear that he was going to kill the leadership of Al Qaeda during the 2008 campaign. He was direct in suggesting that he would ignore the borders of other sovereign nations or the conventions of international law if there was a clear opportunity to get them.
posted by humanfont at 8:16 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trading away rights for women, GLBT, minorities, and the poor for what is in practical terms a salve for one's conscience isn't any better.

Pardon me for making the dreadful mistake of equating actual torture and assassination with the far, far more pressing problem, social inconvenience.
posted by Malor at 8:23 AM on September 3, 2012


I don't really see a benefit to Obama or Romney.

Do you really, really not see the difference between Obama vs. Romney appointed Supreme Court justices?
posted by triggerfinger at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do you really, really not see the difference between Obama vs. Romney appointed Supreme Court justices?

"They told me it wouldn't make a difference to my life who won. Then she got pregnant."

Heh. I should write political adverts.
posted by jaduncan at 9:09 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This news brought to mind a quotation that stuck with me:

"I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon” -- Gerald Ford

It so happens that the quote came from Hunter S. Thompson's scathing obituary of Nixon. The same man who went on to say of Bush: “if [Nixon] were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.” Then he killed himself.

This decision, as Obama well knows, sets us up for something unimaginably worse further down the line. It's only a matter of time before "if the evil Bush-Cheney gang were running for president this year, I would happily vote for them..."

(I wish HST was here still.)
posted by Acey at 9:29 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pardon me for making the dreadful mistake of equating actual torture and assassination with the far, far more pressing problem, social inconvenience.

Yeah, fuck those "social inconveniences" like health and control over one's body. Better to screw those folks over for the foreseeable future to make a pointless moral stand than actually put in the work to change what angers you and make a useful moral stand.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:40 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you really, really not see the difference between Obama vs. Romney appointed Supreme Court justices?


The biggest difference is the speed at which our country evolves into a full blown fascist dictatorship. I was hoping Obama would put the breaks on, but instead he grabbed the wheel from Bush and hit the cruise control. I mean Nixon was more liberal than Obama for christ sakes....NIXON!!!

ON PREVIEW: Nice one Acey you were reading my mind...or I recently read some HST.

I just can't fathom the logic of these threads at all...

One has banned use of torture, the other is for it.

One ordered Gitmo closed on day one, the other would double it.

One uses diplomacy, cyberespionage, and drone warfare, the other wouldn't think twice about INVADING IRAN. That alone is a tremendous military, diplomatic, and human rights clusterfuck waiting to happen.


Rhaomi I think you are misinformed. Yes, Obama "ordered" Guantanamo closed...call me when that acutally happens ok. And as far as his "ban" on torture methods goes that was a public relations ploy that forgot to mention the "loopholes" in the ban.

Torture under Obama

Obama’s Torture Loopholes

Obama’s Interrogation Policy and the Use of Torture in the Army Field Manual

In Iraq, Torture and Secret Prisons Continue

Fresh claims US is running secret prison in Afghanistan

It's really not surprising that the Obama regime would not prosecute Bush regime officials for the same crimes they continue to commit. As far as Guantanamo is concerned it is, and always has been, the tip of a much larger iceberg. So while Obama may have "wanted" to close Guantanamo I am not convinced given the fact that his media relations team tried to spin his order to close secret CIA prisons as a blanket ban on such prisons. Any claim that Obama closed all of our "black sites" is suspect as well.

Our Secret 'Black Jail' in Afghanistan

ICRC Confirms Existence of Second Secret Prison at Bagram, BBC Reports Torture(BBC Report)

More on JSOC’s Secret Prisons in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Secret Prisons Confirmed By U.S.

Commandos Hold Afghan Detainees in Secret Jails

It seems the reason that you don't "get the logic" is that you are apparently unaware that you are being lied to and are under the impression that Obama does things and hold opinions that bear no relation to reality.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:40 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Scott Horton: Holder Announces Impunity for Torture-Homicides
posted by homunculus at 9:50 AM on September 3, 2012


The biggest difference is the speed at which our country evolves into a full blown fascist dictatorship

Hyperbole much? Obama isn't doing anything that the us government hasn't been doing for 100 years, aside from the new technology, and he's dialed back the more brutal abuses of the bush administration. Romney is 100% guaranteed to be worse. This is an easy call.

If you want to change, the primary season is the time to do it, and modifying the make up in congress. And vastly more importantly, convincing fellow Americans to give a shit about the lives of brown people in general.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm essentially being held at gunpoint by the Democratic Party - vote for me or you'll get MITT ROMNEY! - and the question is, do I give the mugger my money or whack him in the face and run away?

In a mugging, the mugger is the one that chose to bring a gun and may shoot you if you don't comply. In this election, the Democrats did not choose Mitt Romney; if you find Mitt Romney unpalatable, why would "whacking [the Democrats] in the face" improve anything about the situation?
posted by Jpfed at 10:05 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


And taking the analogy further, whacking a mugger in the face and running away may make you less likely to get hurt by the mugger (at least, that seems to be your implicit premise). But how does whacking the Democrats in the face and running away make you less likely to get Mitt Romney? I would venture that it kinda doesn't.
posted by Jpfed at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


But, but... the beer recipes! And the Reddit AMA!

How could you forget about the garden?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't understand, the democrats had nothing to do with nominating mitt Romney. If you're upset at the gop's choice, you should probably be mad at them.
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2012


This "both parties are the same" stuff is the exact, exact same thing that people were saying in 2000 and is why so many people voted for Nader.

I absolutely do not like a lot of what the Obama administration has done and I think a lot of Democrats feel the same way, despite all the "apologist" accusations we get hurled against us. However, I absolutely do remember people thinking the exact same thing back in 2000 and thinking it couldn't get any worse, so might as well vote for Nader. I think we all know that it got a lot worse, and probably much worse under a Bush presidency than it would have been under a Gore presidency.

So at this point in time, the Overton window has shifted even farther to the right and we are back in the exact same spot we were then. Go ahead and vote for your third party candidate who has zero chance of winning, and essentially give your vote to Romney/Ryan and then sit back and wait and see how much worse it can get under them. Because it can, and it will. And ten years from now, you'll look back on the Obama years as happier times, much like people now are looking back on the Clinton years. Because, like it or not, as long as we have a FPTP system, this is the reality. Your protest vote doesn't mean anything. If you want to effect true change, you can start at the local level with your local candidates.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry if this has already been posted. Desmond Tutu, op-ed piece in the Guardian

British Op-ed: Mitt Romney's Advisers are War Criminals
posted by homunculus at 10:23 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Triggerfinger, stay using facts to scare people into voting Democratic, you shameless Obamatronic rabblerouser.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The biggest difference is the speed at which our country evolves into a full blown fascist dictatorship.

By this rationale, we've been in or nearer to a fascist dictatorship since at least FDR's second term.

I mean Nixon was more liberal than Obama for christ sakes....NIXON!!!

Well, sure, if you're a straight white Christian male born into and still living in a middle- to upper-class family.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2012


Coincidentally or not, that describes the majority of people in my circle of acquaintances who have or are likely to call Obama a fascist or enabler.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2012


What I meant is that the DNC and Obama supporters - including many progressives who take issue with a lot of things he's done - have joined the Obama personality cult on the sole basis that they're scared of what Romney might do. The Dems are content at not being republicans. By their inaction and abdication of progressive principles, they have become radical centrists. The choice is essentially between two sets of Republicans: the nice polite kind who are fiscally conservative but respect the social safety net, and the batshit insane kind. Where does that leave me? Jill Stein can't compete in the two party system: she's an ideal candidate but not a plausible one. So I vote because I'm scared of what might happen. That's not democracy. That's a mugging.
posted by moammargaret at 10:51 AM on September 3, 2012


Re: 2000. Gore lost Nader the election. It works both ways.
posted by broadway bill at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2012


Hyperbole much? Obama isn't doing anything that the us government hasn't been doing for 100 years, aside from the new technology

Empath, this isn't hyperbole. You are correct that this is nothing new, but I think you would agree that we should try and do better. The technology enables us to automate the killing and conduct war in such a way that our leaders no longer have to tell us the truth about what they are doing in our name. Obama is "winding down" our two official wars while moving the bulk of the GWOT into the shadows where accountability is non-existent; where torture, extraodinary rendition, assassination, secret prisons, secret tribunals, proxy wars, and unmitigated drone warfare become institutionalized not just in the "shadow government" but rather in the legitimate/official government of our country. These types of crimes used to be relegated to incremental periods of low intensity conflict. Now they have become the new status quo, or in more capitalistic terms, "business as usual." You may think calling this a move toward fascism is hyperbole, but I do not. That's fine, reasonable people can disagree about things like labels, but what we cannot disagree about is that these things are happening.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


triggerfinger : Do you really, really not see the difference between Obama vs. Romney appointed Supreme Court justices?


I said I don't see a benefit by choosing one over the other - Not that I don't see the difference.

They certainly have differences, which makes it all the more frustrating that, in a nation of 300 million people, we can't find one that combines their best aspects while ditching the worst. Unfortunately, they seem set on highlighting the differences that most piss me off as we near the election.

That said... They do have a lot in common.

As an aside, according to ProCon.org's "Find your match" quiz, I most closely align with Stein and Johnson - Not really surprising, considering that I self-identify as a Green with Libertarian leanings, but I don't usually fit that particular mold so tidily. More interestingly, I apparently disagree with Romney on almost every category that site measures... Though Obama only slightly less so.
posted by pla at 10:59 AM on September 3, 2012


zombieflanders : By this rationale, we've been in or nearer to a fascist dictatorship since at least FDR's second term.

Many of us actually believe exactly that. FDR counts as the greatest socialist this country has ever known; Barry O has nothing on him!
posted by pla at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2012


By this rationale, we've been in or nearer to a fascist dictatorship since at least FDR's second term.

Many scholars of fascism have come to similar conclusions.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2012


oops I somehow linked to the amazon customer reviews. Sorry about that. Here was where I intended to link to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2012


Aelfwine, the fascism thing is really not persuasive. We're moving toward fascism in the same way that me getting off the couch is moving toward a marathon. That said, the Bush years were downright scary in terms of the hypernationalism and squelching of dissent. We've moved away from that under Obama, which is partially because he's a nicer guy but also because it's fashionable on the right to hate his guts and therefore dissent from his policies is perfectly acceptable.

Don't get me wrong, nothing excuses the drones and the assassinations, but Obama's "sterilized" escalation of the Bush doctrine is not the same thing as more fascism.
posted by moammargaret at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aelfwine, the fascism thing is really not persuasive.

Listen, if you really want to have that discussion I suggest you outline why you find it unpersuasive in the other open thread I linked to above. I don't really want this thread to be derailed by a semantic disagreement. You don't have to term it fascism to agree with me that torture, extraodinary rendition, assassination, secret prisons, secret tribunals, proxy wars, and unmitigated drone warfare are not things a healthy democracy should be perpetrating. That we have no other choice but to elect someone who is guaranteed to continue or even escalate these activities is very disturbing to me. Even more disturbing is the fact that these issues are not even up for discussion this election cycle.

Our founding fathers predicted this:

The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free. The institutions chiefly alluded to are standing armies and the correspondent appendages of military establishments...These are not vague inferences drawn from supposed or speculative defects in a Constitution, the whole power of which is lodged in the hands of a people, or their representatives and delegates, but they are solid conclusions, drawn from the natural and necessary progress of human affairs. (The Federalist No. 8)

and another oldie, but goodie:

The veteran legions of Rome were an overmatch for the undisciplined valor of all other nations and rendered her the mistress of the world. Not the less true is it, that the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs; and that the liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have, with few exceptions, been the price of her military establishments. A standing force, therefore, is a dangerous, at the same time that it may be a necessary, provision. On the smallest scale it has its inconveniences. On an extensive scale its consequences may be fatal.(The Federalist No. 41)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


TwelveTwo: The vote for Nader DID influence democratic policy.
Do we have actual evidence for this? Not trying to sound snarky: this is a pretty key point in this debate, so if there is evidence either way, I for one would like to know.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2012


That said, the Bush years were downright scary in terms of the hypernationalism and squelching of dissent.

I shiver when I remember how brutally Bush crushed the Occupy movement with the violence of the state.

Or how Bush paraded around bragging that he put Bin Laden's head on a pike, and the spontaneous nationalistic demonstrations that erupted from the White House to university campuses.

Or how Bush murdered US citizens and their families with robots for putting up YouTube videos he didn't like.

etc. etc. etc.

I really will never understand why Obama gets a free pass for 1) perpetuating the Bush policies regarding surveillance, torture, indefinite detention, state secrets, war, Patriot Act provisions 2) doing Bush one better (that is, worse for us) in terms of assassinations, whistle-blower prosecutions, drone warfare, NDAA, deportations, and special ops deployments. He, along with others -- including his predecessor -- set up the apparatus for a totalitarian state. Just because it's not getting utilized to its full force doesn't mean that it couldn't, or that he bears any less culpability for creating it.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:14 PM on September 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Obama gets a free pass because the two parties are in agreement as to whether or not we should be assassinating people with drone strikes and whether or not we should authorize indefinite detention. When the two parties agree, the corporate media has nothing to talk about. We fetishize bipartisanship and concern-troll anything that's "divisive."

86 senators voted for NDAA. We Put Aside Our Differences And Acted In A Bipartisan Manner! Let's all have a big orgasm!

There's your answer.
posted by moammargaret at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Obama gets a pass because he isn't being a leader and....well, leading?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:28 PM on September 3, 2012


This is what democracy looks like AElfwine, sometimes the majority gets to make the decision, even when you personally disagree. Not everyone sees the killing of the Alwakis and Bin Laden as a great stain on the honor of the republic.
posted by humanfont at 5:59 PM on September 3, 2012


Indeed, the only thing that saddens people about that killings is that they don't get to see the video.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not everyone sees the killing of the Alwakis and Bin Laden as a great stain on the honor of the republic.

And the fact that they don't is the real stain on our honor.

Hell, honor? What honor?
posted by Malor at 7:02 PM on September 3, 2012


This is what democracy looks like AElfwine, sometimes the majority gets to make the decision, even when you personally disagree. Not everyone sees the killing of the Alwakis and Bin Laden as a great stain on the honor of the republic.

Wow...just wow. I don't even know what to say to that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:02 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow...just wow. I don't even know what to say to that.

Surely this can't be surprising to you. It's been clear that a lot of Americans aren't and never will lose sleep that Bin Laden was killed or how he was killed. A decent case as to why they should probably can't be made.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 PM on September 3, 2012


I'm not losing much sleep over al waki or bin Ladin. Actual war is far, far worse than that, and aside from Libya, which went better than expected, Obama has kept us out of them. Romney will 100% guaranteed get us into war with Iran. He's basically made it a campaign promise.
posted by empath at 7:24 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Back it up folks, this needs to not be a referendum on one person's beliefs and not a name-calling thread. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:42 PM on September 3, 2012


Consider Gitmo. Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo and tried to hold KSM's trial in New York. Congress overwhelming disagreed and limited his authority and funding to do it.
While the army field manual is far from perfect we now have one unitary government standard for detainee interrogation. We can actually talk about specific techniques instead of just having to hear the trust is whatever we do isn't torture mantra.
Similarly while we have some secret temporary holding cells, all prisoners do get paperwork sent to the ICRC facilities that support long term prisoners get regular visits from the ICRC. Previously the prisoners and prisons were not disclosed at all.
Finally I don't think the Cato institute is particularly credible when it comes to their accusations. This is another corporate money backed right wing DC think tank with an anti-Obama agenda.
posted by humanfont at 4:46 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This report by the Open Society(A George Soros Joint) seems to point towards continued torture and obfuscation by the DOD. I hope you aren't going to claim the George Soros has an anti-Obama agenda.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:26 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


A decent case as to why they should probably can't be made

"Unarmed prisoners deserve the protection of the rule of law" is a case that can't be made?

What planet are you from, anyway?
posted by Malor at 5:45 AM on September 4, 2012


The report is a set of interviews with 18 former prisoners. It specifically notes that the actions are in violation of the US polices set by the Obama administration. The actions were forwarded to the JSOC and the Department of Justice who are conducting ongoing investigations. The DOC and JSOC can't comment on ongoing investigations. Locating former prisoners and collecting evidence has proven problematic.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are arguing on the side of evil, humanfont.
posted by Malor at 7:09 AM on September 4, 2012


The only thing new here is that it's now official. Recall that from his first days in office Obama was yammering about looking forward; basically saying that he would never prosecute torture. I'm deeply unhappy with the fact that its now official that Obama has endorsed Bush's torture doctrine, but really it's just the final confirmation of a long established policy.

I'll be voting strategically, same as I always do. There's one flat out guaranteed "liberal" Supreme dying or retiring in the next olympiad, I don't want Romney replacing her.

My only real question, since I live in Texas and my vote is worthless anyway, is whether my best strategic decision is a vote for Stein to send a message, or a vote for Obama to send a message. If I lived in a place where my vote actually mattered I'd be holding my nose and voting Obama. It'd make me feel slimy, it'd make me feel as if I were betraying my principles, and I'd do it anyway because I think it is important that the Supreme Court not be swayed further to the conservative/crazy side.

Also I do think Obama is less likely to start an official war with Iran, I won't count on Obama staying out of Iran (officially, obviously he'll continue his shadow war there) but I'm pretty close to 100% sure that if Romney is elected we'll be invading Iran by 2015 at the very latest, and probably much sooner than that. Much as it pains me to say it, a shadow war with Iran beats a real war with Iran. I don't like it, I wish we could get Obama to stop with his policy of secret wars, but better that than real wars.

In the long term, I agree with the people who say we need a liberal version of the Tea Party to primary the shit out of any Democrat who leans too far conservative. We're stuck with a two party system, therefore our only option when it comes to making the best of a bad situation is to force one of those two parties to be at least semi-decent. The Democrats look like a better candidate for coercion into being semi-decent than the Republicans.

More important we need to reform our voting/political system. That's a massive undertaking to be sure, but it is the only real way out of the abusive two party system we've got today.

But right now the choice is between a party that wants to keep on with the evils of the last administration, or a party who wants to accelerate those evils and find new evils to instigate. Given a choice between things staying bad, or things getting lots worse, I'll chose things staying bad. I won't like it, and in a way I'm glad I live in a place where my vote is completely worthless so I can (if I should so choose) vote against Obama secure in the knowledge that I've not affected the outcome of the election in the slightest rather than having no choice but to vote for Obama no matter how slimy it makes me feel. But I don't see how I have much real choice.

The only way, I think, you can justify not looking to get Obama reelected is if you buy into the idea that things have to get worse before they can get better. And I don't buy that. Things often get worse without ever getting better.
posted by sotonohito at 7:57 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm deeply unhappy with the fact that its now official that Obama has endorsed Bush's torture doctrine, but really it's just the final confirmation of a long established policy.

That may be how you feel about it but it is factually incorrect. Bush's policy specifically allowed measures beyond those listed in the Army Field Manual. Furthermore while Holder suggested that there was not enough usable evidence to get a conviction he did not exonerate any of the participants. In fact he said his statement , "was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."

To suggest that these are the same policies as implemented under Bush is absurd. There were no checks, no limits and the detained had no rights in the Bush era. Today they are granted the same rights as POWs. They get ICRC visits. There are clear policies about acceptable interrogation methods. It is one thing to suggest that the changes are not sufficient but it is not factually correct to suggest that no changes were made.
posted by humanfont at 8:25 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


pla:
"Loved the other three, but this year, I think I may well just stay home. Not because I feel "above it all", but because I have no interest on wasting my time voting for an unelectable 3rd party (and I say that as someone registered Green), and because I don't really see a benefit to Obama or Romney."
Do you have a mayor? City council? State representative? Dog catcher?

Everyone, no matter how depressed the national election may make you, don't stay home. Stay plugged into your community and make a difference there - that includes the local elections that occur at the same time as the national one.
posted by charred husk at 8:42 AM on September 4, 2012


humanfront, and the next Republican president will completely ignore all those checks and whatevers because it's now been established that torture, even torturing prisoners to death, is perfectly OK and will not result in any convictions.

Holder is simply lying when he claims that the Obama policy of ignoring torture is not intended to and does not resolve the broader questions. It does, and it resolves them. And it resolves them by declaring that torturers will never be prosecuted.

The instant Obama made his looking forward not backward speech was the instant we knew that he had given a tacit OK to Bush's policies, and those policies would be reimplemented the instant another Republican president took office. Worse I suspect that the torture regime is probably continuing, if a bit less blatantly, under Obama because of his promise not to prosecute, or even investigate, torturers. You don't think the people who like torturing are going to stop after Obama told them they wouldn't be prosecuted do you?
posted by sotonohito at 8:47 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This should have been part of the fpp, but better late than never. Human Rights Watch's comprehensive report:

Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 AM on September 4, 2012


Long time lurker here and quite late to the party, but this comment thread has left me a little confused. According to NYT:

On his first full day in office in January 2009, Mr. Obama banned coercive interrogation methods and ordered the closing of the C.I.A.’s remaining prisons overseas. But he said that month that while he did not “believe that anybody is above the law,” he preferred “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and that he did not want C.I.A. employees to “suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.”

Are we disputing the notion that Obama banned torture? I understand that failure to prosecute those who perform torture is morally objectionable, but this thread makes it sound as though Obama allows and supports torture.

By the way, Eriko, a vote for the GOP does not send the message that the Democrats need to stick to liberal principles. It sends the message that the party needs to move further to the right.
posted by Chomskyfied at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are we disputing the notion that Obama banned torture?

According to Human Rights Watch and a variety of media outlets yes this is disputable. I highly suggest everyone read this article as it elaborates on these three loopholes, which allow the torture to continue:

Loophole 1: Torture is prohibited only of persons detained in an “armed conflict.”

Loophole 2: Only the CIA must close detention centers.

Loophole 3: Officials may still hide some detainees and abusive practices from the Red Cross.

Loophole 4: Abuses not labeled “torture” may continue.


What seems to have happened is that our international system of detention centers are now being run by JSOC instead of the CIA. As evidenced in the report by the Open Society and all the media reports I linked above we have first hand accounts by former detainees documenting that the torture continues.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:29 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Bradley Manning who hasn't even been convicted of a crime.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:48 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning isn't in a secret prison. He has not been denied access to a lawyer. His treatment was nothing like that conducted at the CIA black sites or Gitmo.
posted by humanfont at 1:02 PM on September 4, 2012


Chomskyfied, I'm disputing that it matters. He "banned" torture while at the same time saying he wouldn't prosecute torturers. Further, he's entered into an aggressive campaign against whistleblowers and has prosecuted at least one of the people who let us know torture was happening.

If you were a Bush era torturer, what would that tell you? I think the double standard is there for the explicit purpose of letting torturers know that they can, and should, continue in their work.

If he was serious about ending torture in the name of the USA he'd have prosecuted the torturers, not the whistleblowers. The ban is just empty words.
posted by sotonohito at 1:55 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I did vote in the primaries, and since there wasn't really a choice for the Democratic ticket, I voted for the Republican candidate I thought was most fit. In this case, it was Ron Paul and didn't really affect things much.

None of this really matters, though, I'm sick of voting for people I don't even want in office, so I'm going to vote for someone I do. That vote, in many of your minds, may be "wasted". In my mind, however, I will sleep soundly knowing that I voted for the candidate I really wanted, not just the one I thought would win. The outcome of the election is not determined by me, but my vote is, and I'm not going to waste it on someone whose policies and actions I disagree with in fundamental ways.
posted by nTeleKy at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


His treatment was nothing like that conducted at the CIA black sites or Gitmo.

His harsh treatment before trial amounts to a pre-trial punishment. He has endured cruel and unusual punishment. What you don't believe me? Well why don't you take these guys word for it:

President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as commander in chief meets fundamental standards of decency. He should not merely assert that Manning’s confinement is “appropriate and meet[s] our basic standards,” as he did recently. He should require the Pentagon publicly to document the grounds for its extraordinary actions—and immediately end those that cannot withstand the light of day.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:55 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama can't prosecute the torturers because those involved left very little evidence. The participants appear to have learned from past prosecutions and mobsters that if there is no evidence and no one talks, then there is no case.

These viallians are not deterred by the possibilty of tribunals and prosecution. They just see these things as obsticals to overcome in completing their schemes.

Regarding your other point. Merely revealing classified information to the press doesn't make one a whistleblower. Was Scooter Libby a whistleblower when he leaked Valarie Plame's info?
posted by humanfont at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2012


I'm so goddamn tired of the "Romney and President Obama are THE SAME" canard. It's just the most cursory, ignorant fucking tripe.

If someone felt like outlining the specific differences in actual policy enacted and promoted by the two major candidates that I could like Republicans and Democrats alike to, that'd be lovely.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


link*
posted by lazaruslong at 4:23 PM on September 4, 2012


It's just the most cursory, ignorant fucking tripe.

What's ignorant is saying the bullshit you just said. No one is saying they are "THE SAME". They obviously differ on some issues. The point which has been repeatedly made, which you would know had you read the thread, is that on some very crucial issues they are indistinguishable. Issues which have not even been mentioned in the MSM during this election cycle. The closest we've come is Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair about Guantanamo and Afghanistan.

Torture isn't an issue. Extraordinary rendition isn't an issue. Assassination is not an issue. Unmitigated drone warfare is not an issue. Our global system of internment camps are not an issue. The various shadow and proxy wars we are currently prosecuting in Africa, Central and Southwest Asia are not an issue. The unchecked powers of the executive branch codified into the U.S. code by the NDAA FY2012 is not an issue. The Obama regime's war on whistle blowers is not an issue. The ending of the insane GWOT is not an issue.

This is disturbing to a great many Americans. What is ignorant tripe is when people won't even admit to themselves what we have become and where we are headed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:59 PM on September 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obama left Iraq, shut down the CIA prisons, proposes leaving Afghanistan by 2014 and has blocked Israeli attempts to drag us into a war with Iran. Romney thinks Obama is too soft on Iran and too hard on Israel. He thinks that Obama is coddling the terrorists by giving any detainees protection under the Geneva Convetion. Romney has suggested we shoundt stay in Afghanistan forever, but doesn't think we should have a time table.
These are well documented positions, they are not the same. Furthermore Romney was specifically criticized by many in he media and others in the Obama administration for failing to mention the war in Afghanistan during his acceptance speech.
posted by humanfont at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's ignorant is saying the bullshit you just said. No one is saying they are "THE SAME".

A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT SHIT. I wasn't calling you out, so back the fuck off, thanks. I hear that shit ALL THE TIME from people, usually Ron Paul supporters, and it's fucking stupid.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 PM on September 4, 2012


Obama left Iraq

Bush negotiated and signed the SOFA. Obama tried to extend it. This has nothing to do with the election either way.

shut down the CIA prisons

And let JSOC take over. As evidenced above, secret prisons still exist, detainees are still being extraordinarily renditioned, and JSOC is still running Murder, Inc. everywhere and anywhere it thinks it needs to.

proposes leaving Afghanistan by 2014

Why not as soon as he was elected? Why are we still in Afghanistan? Who are we fighting and why? According to Clint Eastwood Romney will pull them out as soon as he's elected. Either way in reality this is a bad example because you are apparently unaware that this is one issue where Obama's and Romney's strategies are pretty much the same. Besides campaign rhetoric what substantial differences are there? Obama says 2014 and Romney says 2014, but only if the Afghans are ready to step up and take control of the security situation. Any differences are cosmetic, and If Obama is going to pull them out in 2014 even if the security situation is fucked then why not pull them out now?

Romney thinks Obama is too soft on Iran and too hard on Israel. He thinks that Obama is coddling the terrorists by giving any detainees protection under the Geneva Convetion. Romney has suggested we shoundt stay in Afghanistan forever, but doesn't think we should have a time table. These are well documented positions

If they are so well documented maybe you could link to some sources; something I've been doing for most of this thread. Either way, campaign rhetoric does not equate to reality once a candidate is in office. Remember Bush ran on a more humble foreign policy.

I wasn't calling you out, so back the fuck off, thanks.

Sorry, but maybe next time don't come into a thread using inflammatory language describing something no one in the thread is doing. Yes I know A LOT OF PEOLE SAY THAT SHIT, but NOT SO MUCH IN THIS THREADONEONEONE!!!!!EVELEVN111. I could be wrong, but as far as I've seen pretty much all the criticism has been pretty laser focused on several issues that neither candidate is talking about. So I don't understand why you have to try and use shitty language to inflame shit.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:15 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney opposes closing Gitmo and suggests we double it's size. Furthermore he does not think water boarding is torture and would not say which techniques are torture

Romney opposes a fixed timeline for withdrawl.

Romney proposes increasing military spending to 4% of GDP
posted by humanfont at 4:32 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Guys, it's sort of getting to take-it-to-email land in here. Please don't dominate the thread with back and forth arguing. Maybe give the thread a break if you're getting super angry and feel like you must have it out with some other poster? Thanks.]
posted by taz at 6:37 AM on September 5, 2012


humanfont Regarding your other point. Merely revealing classified information to the press doesn't make one a whistleblower. Was Scooter Libby a whistleblower when he leaked Valarie Plame's info?

One thing that bugs me is the way people, like you, who feel compelled to defend everything Obama does, sink so low so quickly.

Are you seriously comparing people like John Kiriakou, the man who confirmed for the world that the CIA was using waterboarding torture on suspects, to Scooter Libby?

Are you actually arguing that it's a good idea for America not to know what our government is doing? That the real crime wasn't the torture, but letting the world know about torture?

If you want me to take your arguments seriously you're going to have to acknowledge that the Obama administration has a disturbing double standard operating here. Torturing, per Obama, is nothing worth prosecuting, nothing worth investigating, and the country mus "look forward, not back". Letting America know that torture was going on is, per Obama, a serious crime that must be investigated, ruthlessly prosecuted, and by no means should anyone look forward not back about that. I've got a problem with that double standard. If you don't that's one thing. But you can't deny that it exists by making inane comparisons to Scooter Libby.
posted by sotonohito at 6:38 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Democrats Retreat on Civil Liberties in 2012 Platform
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2012


Glenn Greenwald: Obama campaign brags about its whistleblower persecutions
posted by homunculus at 10:25 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna start calling you the fat lady homunculus...and for the record your singing voice is lovely.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Persecuting and abusing whistleblowers. Indefinitely imprisoning people with no charges. Due process-free assassinations of citizens, even teenagers. Continuous killings of innocent people in multiple Muslim countries.

This isn't just what Democrats do. It's what they now boast about, what they campaign on, what they celebrate. That, as much as anything, is the Obama legacy


ouch
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2012


John Kirakou said he had participated in the interrogation of Abi Zubaidah and that water boarding had only been used for 30 seconds and afterwards Zubaidah was extremely cooperative. This information was disclosed during the larger debate over harsh interrogation methods approved by the Bush administration. His statement was used by political supporters of President Bush to argue for the use of these tactics.

Later it would be determined that he had not participated in the interrogation, that Zubaidah was water boarded 83 times and that it was ineffective at getting his cooperation.

He didnt blow the whistle, but he tooted his own horn.

Later on he decided to write a boom and disclose additional classified information including photos and names of two CIA officers to reporters and others.

He took many steps to promote his own ego, but none for justice. When it was to his advantage he even claimed to have participated in the torture of another human being.
posted by humanfont at 11:03 AM on September 5, 2012


I can't say I really care what the motive of the whistleblower is as long as they expose the truth.

Nor can I say I really object to CIA torturers being identified. If they get assassinated I say they've reaped what they sewed and they deserved it.

The point is that Obama has declined to prosecute torturers, but aggressively prosecutes the whistleblowers who let us know torture took place. You seem to think this is OK, and that all whistleblowers are on the level of Scooter Libby. Why is that?
posted by sotonohito at 11:12 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


First Kirakou lied about being in on the torture and how effective it was then he outed Duece Martinez who successfully got information from Zubidiah and others with non-coercive techniques. There is nothing trustworthy at all about Kirakou's information, and the agent he outed wasn't a torturer. It seems that he used his access to classified data to score political points and stroke his ego at the expense of a covert agent's career. That is very similiar to what Scooter Libby did.
posted by humanfont at 4:54 PM on September 5, 2012


Now please explain away Shamai Leibowitz, Thomas Drake, Bradley Manning, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:35 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok but this is my last comment in this thread.

Leibowitz -- The US had placed bugs and wiretaps in the Israeli Foreign ministry. This was a pretty significant intelligence operation and it was conducted within the rules of US law governing such operations. Leibowitz was a translator, he didn't like what the FM was saying in their private conversations so he disclosed the operation.

Stephen Kim -- blabbed to reporters that the US intel community was concerned about a possible North Korean nuclear test. He didn't blow the whistle on some secret illegal government program, he just thought it would be good idea to share classified intel with reporters without any authorization.

Jeffrey Sterling -- the US had a plan to allow the Iranians to obtain a fake plan for a nuclear bomb. The plan was approved by both President Clinton and Bush. The operation was a failure. Later on after being fired by the CIA (for reasons which were pretty crappy IMO), Sterling gave information about the ploy to a reporter. Hard to see how this is whistle blowing. The operation was conducted properly under US law and there is no evidence of corruption.

Thomas Drake -- the case was started in 2007 under Bush. Obama should have done something to resolve this.

Bradley Manning -- Bradley Manning is at the center of one of the largest breaches of classified data in the history of the world. It is impossible not to prosecute him. He may be able to escape a long prison sentence, but he's going to have to convince the judge and jury. I don't think this treatment at Quantico was proper and I hope that his lawyers are able to successfully obtain a reduction in sentence or other sanctions against the government for this.
posted by humanfont at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2012


Human Rights Watch accuses US of covering up extent of waterboarding: The organisation alleges that opponents of Muammar Gaddafi were subjected to the torture at secret CIA prisons
posted by homunculus at 4:01 PM on September 6, 2012


U.S. Used This Torture Box to Interrogate Gadhafi’s Enemies
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on September 6, 2012


Whistle-blowing US torture: John Kiriakou exposed the CIA's dark dealings, and as a reward, he's facing 45 years in prison
posted by homunculus at 12:33 PM on September 11, 2012


Glenn Greenwald: Another Guantánamo prisoner death highlights Democrats' hypocrisy
posted by homunculus at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2012


Indeed, dying in due process-free captivity now appears to be the only way for many of these detainees to leave. The last person to leave the camp via death was a 48-year-old Afghan citizen, Awal Gul, who died in February 2011 of an apparent heart attack. Gul, the father of 18 children, was accused by the US of being a Taliban commander – a charge he vehemently denied because, as his lawyer put it, "he was disgusted by the Taliban's growing penchant for corruption and abuse." But the due process-free indefinite detention policy still in place at the camp meant that those conflicting claims were never resolved, and he died after more than nine years in captivity – thousands of miles from his family, in the middle of a foreign ocean – despite never having been convicted of anything. - from homonculus' link

You've gotta be damaged to think indefinitely "detaining" someone until they die isn't the worst form of torture. Locked away from 18 kids, damn.
posted by odinsdream at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


86 senators voted for NDAA. We Put Aside Our Differences And Acted In A Bipartisan Manner! Let's all have a big orgasm!

Permanent Injunction Against Indefinite Military Detention in NDAA Issued by Federal Judge
posted by homunculus at 9:43 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama Admin Appeals NDAA Ruling in Bid to Preserve Indefinite Detention at Home and Abroad
posted by homunculus at 9:13 AM on September 18, 2012


Italy upholds rendition convictions for 23 Americans: Ruling is world's first judicial review of CIA practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries
posted by homunculus at 12:22 AM on September 20, 2012


As Italy Sentences 23 CIA Agents in Rendition Case, Obama Refuses To Prosecute Anyone For Torture
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chronicle of a death foretold: Guantanamo Bay prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died without having ever been charged with a crime.
posted by homunculus at 5:11 PM on September 23, 2012


Romney Advisers: Bring Torture Back
posted by homunculus at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2012


Youngest prisoner leaves Guantanamo: Captured as a 15-year-old fighting in Afghanistan, Omar Khadr is sent to finish his sentence in his native Canada.
posted by homunculus at 3:35 PM on September 29, 2012


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