Just More Outrageous Bi-Partisan Agreement: “CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate” – latimes.com

Just note that the headline might lead you to think he was going to have a rough time being confirmed but that is not what it says, nor what it means.

In effect, it means that (1) a few senators exercised over his not having paid them due deference by reading a report he plans to ignore before meeting with them, (2) a few more concerned about killing citizens abroad without according them their rights and explaining themselves, and (3) a few worried about leaks (not worried about why there aren’t more and why so many resources are applied to finding them unless they favor the administration, but about why there are any that do favor the administration).

And it means he will get through the hearing and confirmation this time despite significant opposition leading to his withdrawing his name from consideration last time for the questions his prior conduct had raised.  Now, after compounding his earlier sins and presumably his rationalization skills, he can expect confirmation.

After all, we all agree that torture and unconstitutional intrusions on individual rights are acceptable, don’t we?

CIA nominee John Brennan to face tough questions in Senate – latimes.com.

Why I will not vote for Obama again…probably…

No one had higher hopes for President Obama.  No one feels greater sympathy for him as he has had to cope with wars and an economic meltdown he did not begin against an intractable Republican opposition more committed to getting him out of office than to resolving problems that confront the country.  But he has not only followed his predecessors in allowing the violation of civil liberties and the expansion of un-reviewed executive authority, he has expanded upon both.  He has given precedental weight to behavior which, were it confined to his predecessor’s administration, might be thought of as another sad aberration from American ideals, similar to interning the Japanese, or the earlier imprisonment of Eugene V. Debs*, and by his doing so, made constitutionally prohibited behavior more acceptable to Americans and more to be expected by people from other countries dealing with ours and with us.

He has set a course that says to all, “Whatever we once wanted to be, which included living up to some high ideals, from which we sometimes fell woefully short, we now want something quite different:  to have our way, as the president sees that way, no matter what.

The single most egregious example is recounted in this post from Glenn Greenwald blogging for Salon.com. regarding the targeting for assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen.  Give this and the likely consequences in the future under either Republicans or Democrats a few minutes thought:


If you are like me, i.e. you have little formal tie to the ideals of the country or any role in its governance other than that which is yours through being a citizen, and particularly if you are young and reasonably able to anticipate living here in 50 years after future administrations have come to take the powers he is assuming unto themselves as simple working assumptions, validated by time in place and both parties, think about what Greenwald says for a few minutes.

Some will note that I left room with “probably” in the headline for changing my mind.  I did so for two reasons:  the first is that Obama himself might alter his path and come home to what I hope were once his values.  The second is that at the time I write this it is possible the Republicans will nominate, and significant numbers of Americans show themselves willing to elect, a candidate so outrageous that voting for Obama again requires a violation of English to express:  a choice between worst and worst.  In that case, I’ll vote for him again.  Remote though I think the possibility to be at this time, the Republicans could nominate a candidate committed to our ideals to a greater degree than is Obama.  I suppose I will have to vote for him or her.

*  Lest a reader point it out as vitiating my whole point, both these happened under Democratic administrations.  Falling short of our ideals is one area of non-partisan performance in our history and under the even the best of circumstances is likely to remain so.

In many instances, didn’t Obama set the expectations he is failing to meet?

I really don’t want to be unsympathetic to Barack Obama, or any president, yes, including his predecessor, for having a strong ego and lots of self-confidence.  Deciding to run for a major party’s nomination, securing it and then running for election against the nominee of the opposing party are not for the short-winded, weak-willed or those racked with self-doubt.  In fact, I don’t want a president who lacks self-confidence.  But some explanation of things done or left undone at odds with campaign commitments, whether they be apologies for personal failings in key areas or simply thoughtful expositions of why one has chosen a path other than that proposed  need not undermine a healthy ego or a self-confident character.

A cynic might think Obama would rather run in 2012 against the background of a Republican Congress than with a Democratic one that had failed to meet public expectations and thus isn’t going to do more than the minimum to rally Democratic voters in a year when he is not on the ballot.  But that’s like deliberately choosing to enter the second half of the game behind rather than ahead of the other team.  It may be the modern political calculus but it takes some getting used to to accept that being in the lead the whole game isn’t better.

Glenn Greenwald (I know, him again) makes a list of items in which Obama has not only failed to live up fully to his campaign pledges but has either failed completely or has adopted the very policies he criticized when practiced by his predecessor.  Sometimes he’s gone farther than Bush did to make these latter policies unacceptable.


“Imperial Irony” US won’t allow suits for torture but Iraq must pay for Saddam regime’s outrages against human rights…Glenn Greenwald again…

So, to recap:  the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment.  Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even though other countries have provided the victims with compensation for their much more minor role in what happened.  Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.

Here is the link where this amazing story is elaborated:  http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/11/exceptionalism/index.html

Law suit to challenge administration’s assassination of American citizens without due process–a surreal situation!

Glenn Greenwald today in Salon recounts the details of a law suit brought by the father of the best known target of the assassination program and the ACLU.  It also includes a YouTube video made by the ACLU  that you may find interesting.  How is it that we have come to the point at which a president would even want this power, that “terrorist” and “war” have become words so frightening that many Americans and people in both houses of Congress are willing to permit it?  Some key points, followed by the link:

Just how perverse is the Obama administration’s assassination program is reflected in the rights Awlaki is forced to assert.  He alleges — as the Complaint puts it — that the Government is violating his “Fifth Amendment Right Not to be Deprived of Life Without Due Process.”  Just re-read that and contemplate that in Barack Obama’s America, that right even needs to be contested.

What I’ve found most disturbing about this controversy from the start is how many Americans are willing to blindly believe the Government’s accusations of Terrorism against their fellow citizens — provided they’re Muslims with foreign-sounding names — without needing to see any evidence at all.  All government officials have to do is anonymously leak to the media extremely vague accusations against someone without any evidence presented (Awlaki is involved in multiple plots!!), and a substantial number of people will then immediately run around yelling:  Kill that Terrorist!!

It’s an authoritarian scene out of some near-future dystopian novel, yet it’s exactly what is happening.  This is precisely the reaction of a substantial portion of the population which has been trained to believe every unproven government accusation of Terrorism.  The mere utterance of the accusation — Terrorist — sends them into mindless, fear-driven submission, so extreme that they’re willing even to endorse a Presidential-imposed death penalty on American citizens with no due process:  about the most tyrannical power that can be imagined, literally.  The fact that this very same Government is continuously and repeatedly wrong when it makes those accusations does not seem to be even a cause for hesitation among this faction.  They just keep dutifully reciting the ultimate authoritarian anthem:  if my Government says it, it must be true, and I don’t need to see any evidence or indulge any of this bothersome process stuff — trials and courts or whatever — before punishment is meted out, including the death penalty.

Read the article at http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/30/assassinations/index.html

Glenn Greenwald on the unprecedented erosion of our liberties and disregard of constitutional safeguards

Here is an excellent piece on the mis-use of the “fear” and “war” concerns to justify abuse of governmental power as well as the lowering of our standards as a country dedicated to the preservation of individual liberties.