Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Erosion of Hope - shame on you, Obama.

There was a time, a time of continual war (Cold), when illegal wiretapping was such an offense to the ideals of American liberty, that the President of the United States lost his job over it (and the hotel that it happened in became synomous with scandal). That was then. And the outraged nation demanded legal protection against such despicable spying behavior. It got that in FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This is now. This is a time of continual war (on Terror) when illegal wiretapping is considered such a fundamental necessity for American "liberty", that all candidates for the Presidency of the United States feel it's politically necessary to legislate crippling changes to FISA, grant amnesty to telecom companies complicit in illegal spying, further legalize warrantless eavesdropping, and spit on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

For coverage of this bullshit, see here (nytimes), here (aclu), here (dailykos), here (commondreams (salon story)), and here (salon blog). The bill passed by a vote of 69 (a popular reference to a kind of fucking) to 28 (which happens to be Bush's approval rating. 28. You cowered and caved to a lame duck with a 28% approval rating).

For a list of cowards and non-cowards see here:

Democrats voting in favor of final passage of the FISA bill: Bayh - Carper - Casey - Conrad - Feinstein - Innuoye - Kohl - Landrieu - Lincoln - McCaskill - Mukulski - Nelson (Neb.) - Nelson (Fla.) - OBAMA - Pryor - Rockefeller - Salazar - Webb - Whitehouse.

Democrats voting against final passage of the FISA bill: Akaka - Biden - Bingaman - Boxer - Brown - Byrd - Cantwell - Cardin - Clinton - Dodd - Dorgan - Durbin - Feingold - Harkin - Kerry - Klobachur - Lautenberg - Leahy - Levin - Menendez - Murray - Reed - Reid - Sanders - Schumer - Stabenow - Tester - Wyden.

For a civil libertarian's explanation of what this means see here:



Obama also voted for cloture to prevent any filibustering against it. In October, the Obama campaign said that he would support any filibuster of the bill. I guess that's what you say when you want to get the Democratic nomination and this is what you do when you want centrists and moderate Republicans to elect you to the presidency. Shame shame shame, Barry. No principles. You've got some audacity, alright.


In other, unrelated, political shamefulness, global leaders met at the G8 Summit recently and discussed the global food crisis. They met, they discussed it, and then they chowed down! Amy Goodman reports: Shortly after saying they were “deeply concerned” about soaring global food prices and supply shortages, world leaders attending the G8 summit in Hokkaido sat down to an eighteen-course gastronomic extravaganza, courtesy of the Japanese government. The dinner was themed “Blessings of the Earth and the Sea,” and the global food shortage was certainly not evident. The meal included delicacies such as caviar, milk-fed lamb, sea urchin, winter lily bulbs, truffles and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the United States.

YAY USA! YAY WORLD!

59 comments:

lc said...

Dude, everyone knows the global food crisis is India and China's fault. And no one is stressing about the shortage of sea urchins, are they? pass the champagne.

Dan said...

Dude, I just totally had a burrito and I don't even know where the rice came from. Mexico? Who cares. It was muy delicioso!

akboognish said...

Nice post.

We spent the past six months castigating Clinton for her vote in favor of the war in 2002, when she was debating running for president and wanted to make sure the she didn't open up a flank to Bush. Her vote made no difference in the total; it would have passed with or without her, and yet I condemned her and vowed to never vote for her because of it.

I don't see the difference here. This vote is totally unacceptable. It destroys Obama for me. Not only am I done giving Obama any money (he was the first D I've supported with money since Jerry Brown, and I only gave Jerry 20 bucks), but it looks like Nader just got my vote for the fourth election in a row.

Hope the Dems enjoy losing again and perhaps this time we'll finally be done with their sorry, pathetic, spineless asses. With friends like them we don't need enemies.

Next vote to watch: artic and off shore oil drilling. Hardly as important as the FISA bill, in my opinion, but it will piss off a whole different constituency.

All they'll then need to do is get a vote in restricting abortion and they'll have hit the fuck-you trifecta to all of us.

Kudos to Clinton for voting against this thing. Not sure what her thinking is at this point though--nothing left to lose? Sen Boxer (my hometown hero) continues to do the right thing, fortunately. She'll get my vote against Arnold next election.

Dewy24 said...

Here we go...

AK, you need to calm down. If you think that this bill is the single most important issue in the campaign then I guess you should vote for the McCain/Nadar ticket although I think it is foolish. If you think that this single vote nullifies his entire voting record in the Senate before this, go ahead. And if you think the Gore and Kerry didn't win because they didn't appeal to the left enough you are absolutely wrong. And if you think the country will be more or less the same under McCain or Obama you are retarded. While I don't like the bill either I'll grudgingly accept Obama voting for it for a few reasons. He tried to get rid of the amnesty clause earlier this week but it didn't have the support and Obama knew that the bill was going to pass. It is pure political calculation but what possible gain could he get from voting against it considering that it was going to pass either way? Why give McCain something to bash him over next fall? I'll take a slightly less ideologically pure Obama as president to a righteous loser any day. I'm actually happy that he is acting a bit more ruthless because this is going to be a very ugly campaign. He was a bit passive when both Clintons were pounding on him.

I think it is a little harsh that you say he has "no principles". There is a difference between voting for a compromise legislation and being unprincipled. His voting record in the Senate puts him squarely in the left and I'm not worried about it. And wouldn't VTK's space be better used attacking McCain rather than Barack? Also remember that Obama is a hamma!

Joel said...

Dan,

I know there was a post about nicknames for Obama I was hoping we could go another round and see how they might have changed given some of the latest news about and still my favorite:

Obama yo Mama!


http://www.votenader.org/

Joel said...

dewy24 said,



"And wouldn't VTK's space be better used attacking McCain rather than Barack?"

I know that we all feel very strongly about removing the "R"
from the White House and replacing it with a "D" but akboognish brings up some very valid points and worth carful consideration.

The notion that we who participate in VTK are for the most part like minded individuals is true but spying on the american people is wrong in any form and as a citizen of this country I have to vote my conscience and frankly I am appaled that Obama would vote in favor of this whatever the political fall out he will endure.

Its flat out wrong!

Joel

Dan said...

well, first of all, we could do without the "retarded" talk, dewy24. that's not contributing anything to the dialogue.

second of all, I'll use VTK space however I see fit, and a deserved criticism of a shameful vote for a supposedly liberal candidate is entirely VTKworthy (don't bother telling me about his liberal voting record - I already know it). More so than a pointless criticism of McCain. Who do you think is reading this? Moderate Republicans in Western Pennsylvania? I don't write about the Steelers that much. Thinking McCain is a shameless schmuck is a presupposition of this post, so I didn't bother wasting my time criticizing his vote.

My question for you is this: where do you, dewy24, draw the line on unacceptable legislative votes? Anywhere? Do you have a line? They can enact any type of legislation they want as long as they get those Ohio voters necessary to beat the Republican candidate in the fall? Is nothing inexcusable? I know why he voted for the bill. I get it. I understand the strategy. But that's not going to stop me from criticizing him, questioning his principles, or thinking less of him for casting this vote. I would be a hypocrite if I didn't. Where's the line? What would you consider unacceptable and worthy of criticism? Because the 4th Amendment is pretty fundamental to me and legalizing warrantless eavesdropping is pretty despicable. And beyond that, he voted for cloture to prevent anyone from filibustering. Justify that. Who cares if he made a token effort to get rid of the amnesty clause and who cares that he knew the bill was going to pass. That doesn't justify his voting for it. He lost a lot of moral highground this week.

To reiterate: I understand why he voted for it - political strategy. got it.

ok go!

Dan said...

Joel,

How about "Double Obama" since he's so pro-spying. He should have to wear a shirt that says "Hey spy on me! I like spying! It's cool! I'm cool with spying!".

more on the use of this space issue:

Yes, the denizens of VTKountry are mostly left of center, though there are a few more conservative folks through here from time to time. But those who are right of center need only look to the right of this post in the links section to find such liberal rag sites as commondreams.org, Get Your War On, Democracy Now!, The Progressive, The Action Mill, Al Franken, The Center for Biological Diversity, and (they would probably list) the Boston Globe and NY Times. This is a liberal (or "progressive") blog. Everyone's welcome to come through here and give their non-liberal opinions in the comments section and as long as they're not offensive (I know - definitional issues), then I'll leave them up and most likely engage in a debate with the opinioneer. So, when a liberal senator gets the Democratic nomination for President and gets the left excited about him and then turns around and shamelessly sells us and the civil liberties of all US citizens out, you better believe it's going to get criticized in this space.

Dewy24 said...

Damn it! I just wrote an epic comment that would have won you over with its reason a wit but it disappeared. I guess we will agree to disagree. AK, I don't think you are retarded. I was just trying to match the hyperbolic tone on the post and comments.

Dan said...

sure you did, dewy24, sure you did.

Jeannette said...

good post
(no political insight of my own)

akboognish said...

Interesting conversation here, and sorry I was gone for a few days (I was off in New Mexico getting my ass kicked at a certain former UMass roommate with the same first name as me of mine's bachelor party which involved balls-out mountain biking and whitewater kayaking).

Anyway, about this vote. Is it the single most important issue in this election? I think it might be. I'd like to say that Iraq is, or the economy, or health care, or global warming/the environment (my coworkers will regard this as heresy), but I think the constitutional crises caused by a power-hungry and fascist-leaning executive married to a weak and purposeless legislative branch both bought and paid for by a klepto-corporate/wealthy cabal might be the single most important issue that we have ever faced in our lives.

The Democratic-controlled Congress legitimized and legalized the illegal actions of our president, who seriously damaged the very document that binds us as a people, and did so specifically to further his goal of the transfer of the earth's resources and riches to his cronies, allies, and fellow corporatists, while also conveniently increasing his power over his domestic political opposition (don't forget that Mr. Ashcroft declared that the number one domestic terrorist threat was "radical environmentalists," and he actually had principles compared to the nazies currently in power).

And then, after demanding of the legislature that the law be changed to reflect his dangerous perspective of executive power, our president also demanded immunity for the corporations who also broke the law. And not just immunity from damages, but immunity from liability, eliminating one of the last forms of truth-telling we have in this society (the civil lawsuit) from having any role.

The Republicans were actually saying that the reason that immunity was essential was because the lawsuits were going to be used to raise all sorts of political issues. Uhhh.. yeah... no shit, Sherlock! They filed the lawsuits exactly because the goddamned Dems won't do their job. These "political issues" need to be heard by everybody, need to be argued and debated and thought about! That's the whole point! It wasn't the ambulance chasers who filed the lawsuits, it was the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the civil libertarian lawyers.

(full disclosure: I'm friends with one of their lawyers on the ATT case).

This vote had it all:

1) Should the executive branch should have virtually unchecked power to spy on private citizens (AMERICAN citizens)?

2) If a law is on the books and the president breaks that law, is the proper thing for the opposition-party controlled Congress to pass ANOTHER LAW, making the president's action legal and declaring "hey--this is to confirm that you have to follow the law--we really mean it this time"? What about requiring the President to abide by the first law? Isn't that what laws are for? Isn't that what Congress is for? An opposition party? WTF???

3) Should private parties who broke the law be given an after-the-fact "you're ok" law that absolves them of their sins...EVER? Where does this come from? What's wrong with holding them accountable to follow the law? Why does the get-tough-on-crime set only target poor sons of bitches and leftist? What rule of fairness demands that ATT be excused for their behavior?

It's so obvious it's hard for you to see, Dewey: they're all bought and paid for. Actually, that's wrong. They're all the same thing, trading their money with each other, holding onto their power and riches and maybe sometimes thinking that they're somehow different from each other when they're all really the same same same same thing.

Obama showed his true colors to us all with that vote: he's just as susceptible to the corrupting nature of money and party politics as the rest of them.

All we really had was hope with Obama. He was promising hope. I decided that I was ok with going only on hope and I let myself believe that he really was different; that he had ideals, that he had beliefs, that he gave a shit about something other than the maintenance of the empire that is wrecking such havoc on the world. And with one vote, he shattered that hope. Why the hell should I vote for him now? What else is left?

Nader was right all along, and I regret that I doubted him for the past couple of years. It really is as bad as he says it is. And I'm not getting fooled again.

Dan said...

wow. that was an obamaesque speech (the giving hope with soaring commentary part, not the sell out the american people by rubber stamping fascist tendencies part). Very nicely put.

Next time you get an email from the Obama campaign asking for money, click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom. It will redirect you to a page that asks you to confirm your unsubscription with your email and an optional explanation. I entered my email and "FISA vote" with no further explanation.

Dewy24 said...

Again I agree that this is a bad bill but disagree on how much damage this bill does to civil liberties and I'm sure we are not going to agree on this, which is fine. Either McCain or Obama will be the next president and I still think you need to think of what issues are important to you and how you think those issues will be handled under either candidate. If you still this there isn't a sufficient difference, I guess there is nothing that will change your mind. Personally I think Obama's election will be the greatest moment in American political history. It is almost impossible to understate how momentous a black man named Barack Hussein Obama occupying the White House will be. If you want no part of that celebration because of his vote on the FISA bill, it's your choice. Of course we live in Mass. and California so are votes won't actually make any difference so this is a moot argument except for the principles. But next I get an email from the Obama campaign asking for money I'm giving more in the names of VTK and Akboognish.

Dewy24 said...

This won't change your minds either but here is what Barack posted on his site regard his vote:



I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility

The Inspectors General report also provides a real mechanism for accountability and should not be discounted. It will allow a close look at past misconduct without hurdles that would exist in federal court because of classification issues. The (PDF)recent investigation uncovering the illegal politicization of Justice Department hiring sets a strong example of the accountability that can come from a tough and thorough IG report.

The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise. I do so with the firm intention -- once I’m sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future.

Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I'm happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions. No tool has been more important in focusing peoples' attention on the abuses of executive power in this Administration than the active and sustained engagement of American citizens. That holds true -- not just on wiretapping, but on a range of issues where Washington has let the American people down.

I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I'm not exempt from that. I'm certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too. I cannot promise to agree with you on every issue. But I do promise to listen to your concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn your ongoing support to change the country. That is why we have built the largest grassroots campaign in the history of presidential politics, and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States -- a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples' business out in the open, welcomes and listens to dissenting views, and asks you to play your part in shaping our country’s destiny.

Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through my.barackobama.com, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

lc said...

Great post and I haven't been this excited about a comment thread since the Supreme Court fiasco in 2006. This link isn't a response so much as a point of interest given his whole organizing in chicago thing.

Also, I can understand dewy24's point about celebrating how far we've come from the current administration if/when Obama gets elected. But it rubs me the wrong way when a US Senator tells me he voted the wrong way because I did not organize enough to make it palatable for him to do the right thing.

And "I do so with the firm intention -- once I’m sworn in as President -- to have my Attorney General conduct a comprehensive review of all our surveillance programs, and to make further recommendations on any steps needed to preserve civil liberties and to prevent executive branch abuse in the future." puh-leaze.
Firm intention - (promises, promises)
Comprehensive review-(bi partisan committee that will take forever to do anything, if it is even formed)
Further recommendations-(more legislation with few to zero consequences)
Is this going to happen once you've sworn in as POTUS or President of the f-ing PTA?

yeah, I probably won't vote for Nader butI'm tired of the democrats' pussy politics and am certainly not buying that explanation. i guess the next step is to be an activist and comment on his website.

Dan said...

First of all, you're right. That didn't change my mind. That's just irrelevant rhetoric to me. What's relevant is that a. he voted for the bill, and b. that he did so for purely political reasons. And that speaks to the lengths that he is willing to go, what he is willing to compromise, for political gain. And that post on his website is pure politics too. I don't want to hear about your time on the South Side of Chicago as an organizer, Double Obama. Is that supposed to impress me and make me forget what a shameless flip flop you just perpetrated?

Secondly, dewy24, I'll try not to be insulted that you didn't think my comments worthy of response and instead waited until akboognish responded. I agree with you that the election of a black man named Barack Hussein Obama is going to be a potential sea change in the way the world perceives Americans. For that reason, I hope he wins instead of McCain. But I have no intention of campaigning for him, contributing to him, or anything else, and that post of his did nothing to repair my opinion of him. If anything, it insulted me that he thought he could just post something like that and smooth over the reaction to this vote.

Dan said...

lc snuck me! nice comment there. ah the 2006 SCOTUS Fiasco. I wonder if Harriet Myers is getting any these days...

that was classless. sorry.

but, yeah, back to Obama's bullshit. How about this line in his attempt to justify his FISA vote:

and that is the kind of White House that I intend to run as President of the United States -- a White House that takes the Constitution seriously, conducts the peoples' business out in the open

yeah. ok. I'll just violate it until I get there and then I'll defend it. You have my word. Just like the word that I used to say that I would support a filibuster of this bill (as opposed to, say, voting for cloture).

Dewy24 said...

I didn't mean to ignore your response. Sorry. I thought I was just following the flow of the comments and didn't mean to offend. If you doubt his sincerity regarding what he would do as President, I can't argue with you. If you don't take him at his word, you don't take him at his word. I do think that he took extraordinary measures to address the concerns of opponents of the FISA bill on his blog, especially considering that a tiny fraction of voters (albeit very vocal) actually know what FISA is. The unfortunate part of being in a legislature is that any opponent can accuse you of being a "flip flopper" due to the nature of how they work. Ultimately I take Obama at his word. What isn't mentioned is that Obama's vote had zero influence on the bill's passage. It was going to pass no matter how he voted and he knew it. So he made the calculation that he would have more influence on surveillance legislation as the President than a Senator of the losing side of bill and I think he is right in that choice. I think his record as a defender of civil liberties show where is sympathies are.
(I wish I knew how to imbed links in comments)
http://action.aclu.org/site/VoteCenter?page=congScorecard&congress=110&location=S&lcmd=next&lcmd_cf=
So what you call a shameless flip flop I call a wise choosing of battles. I completely see you point but respectfully disagree.

Can I get a Yankees mid-season report now?

Dan said...

that aclu link is here

lc said...

I hate to say that in this crazy mixed up world of sex and politics, ol' harriet's probably getting her share. In fact, she's probably getting my share.

Also, at the risk of holding up a yankees report, I don't see what Obama gains by sullying his own integrity, especially on one of the issues that makes the election for President so important. If no one is paying attention, then why not vote the right way? Because huge corporate interests are paying attention and that's as far from audacity and hope as we can get, frankly.

But i realize this ground has been covered well above. if we are moving on to other threads, so be it.

Dan said...

to hyperlink, you need to use some basic html. I tried to give instructions here but it would not compute.
Here's a pretty comprehensible explanation.

Dan said...

lc snuck me again! I think if Harriet's getting your share, it's time to reexamine your demographic. You can do a lot better than her. (I mean better than she's doing, not better than her herself - though you can do better than her herself too).

I agree re "sullying his integrity". This is part of why it's so disappointing. Because he had gotten so far in this campaign on a relatively high ground and now that's gone (in my opinion, anyway). Ultimately, he's just another politician. Of course, we knew that. But it was nice to pretend for a while.

dewy24, I'm not actually offended. This flip flop isn't an unfortunate byproduct of the nature of the way the legislature works. It's a byproduct of the nature of the way this presidential campaign is working. And it's not isolated. He has flip flopped on his stance on Israel-Palestine and NAFTA in recent months, as well. It's not a matter of someone pouring through 30 years of legislative votes and magnifying seeming inconsistencies. It's Obama, changing his stance radically in a matter of months.

You're just trying to get akboognish back on your side by baiting him with the temptation of yankee bashing. Not in this post. Maybe I'll whip something up during the mid-summer classic tonight.

akboognish said...

Actually, I think Dewy actually wants the Yankee discussion to get his ass off the hot seat here.

Ic and Dan, great comments well said.

Ic, I agree completely that Dewy's argument doesn't hold water: if Obama's vote didn't matter, why didn't he stick to his principles and his promise and vote against it? Why go out and vote against it, and worse yet, as Dan has pointed out, vote for cloture?

Instead, what if he had used his power and position as the Dem nominee and rally his party around his principled stance, exploiting the greatest weakness in the Republican party (Bush) and pinning this whole thing as an attempt by Bush and his corporate cronies to evade responsibility for their illegal actions? Surely it could have been a great strong action by the Dems, directly confronting the worst allegations about them (that they're weak and spineless).

We all know the answer, and I'll save you the trouble of having to, Dewy: it's because the Dem's would never have backed him up. Oh, sure, "they're a big tent party, hard to corral, etc...," but that's not it--they wouldn't back him up on such a move because they wanted that bill to pass as much as Bush did.

They fundamentally don't see this as a constitutional crisis. They want to avoid their own culpability in the mess. They want good things to come to their friends who have been giving them so much money for so long (the telecoms).

They're all the same. They are all bought off just the same. They all like their power just the same.

Last month's Harpers has a great article about why the Republican Party should die, but what was most telling was that the "panelists" made just as much a case, if not more, for why the Democratic Party should die, too. None of them could observe the elephant in the room, though--that the two party system is completely broken. It's a failed experiment and needs to go away. We don't have a majority/minority party system, and we don't have a government/opposition system. We have two faces of the same same same same same thing: power for the powerful and riches for the rich.

There is no real opposition to any of the worst government offenses imaginable. Sure, there are some exceptions, but they're few and far between, and Obama has shown that he's not one of them.

I thought he could be different. I had hope. I was wrong. Guess it's better to learn that now before I voted for the guy or gave him any more money. But it still pisses me off.

Hold on fast to your hope, Dewy, because that's all you'll have for the rest of your life. You're going to be old and feeble and still waiting for the Dems to do the right thing, and maybe around then you'll realize that they never will. You'll finally realize that maybe you shouldn't have ridden that train, maybe you shouldn't have supported that system. You'll start to shout, but you'll be too weak for anybody to hear you. You'll realize that you need lots of voices, lots of people, lots of energy, none of which you have yourself. You'll look around for help but you'll realize that you're all alone. All gone. Too late. That shit was decided so long ago. Take your pill and enjoy your show.

Dan said...

Just like I called dewy24 out for his "retarded" comment, I'll say that we could probably do without the old feeble lonely doom talk. We can disagree on this without slinging mud at friends. It's not like this is a Yankees Red Sox discussion.

Also, while I share many of akboognish's feelings on this matter, I want to give credit once more to those Dem senators who had the gumption to vote against this bill, even if it was going to pass regardless. Obama had a chance to be the leader of that sizeable faction of the party and to be an agent for change within the party. He passed on that. Too bad.

akboognish said...

I'm not saying that all old people are feeble. Just weak-kneed and spineless Democrats. Or, rather, most of them.

Dan said...

Well, you're all adults, so you're welcome to bash eachother. I was just calling you out on that in the interest of consistency and civility and because it was starting to sound like another thing you've crusaded against on this very blog - an ad hominem attack.

akboognish said...

Fair enough. I shouldn't have directed that last paragraph at Dewy. Replace the "you" with "I" or "we" and it has the same meaning and impact. More impact, maybe. Didn't mean to accuse Dewy of anything other than having hope and, perhaps, being a Democrat.

I actually don't think Dewy will ever be feeble--that dude is running marathons and crap right now and he's like, what, old?

Dewy24 said...

I don’t mind ad hominem attacks and called his stand “retarded” (still do) so I had it coming. AK is a bare knuckle debater which is what I love about him. You will bear the brunt of this if we start discussing the classless and shameful Yankee fans treatment of Papelbon last night. At least the Sox fans gave Mariano a well deserved standing ovation on opening day in 2005. Back to the point…

Do I really need to argue that this country would have been run differently under any democrat than Bush? Do you really think that we would have started a war in Iraq under a democrat? Would there have been an Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo? Would 90,000 civilians have died in Iraq? Would there have been a Department of Homeland Security? Would there have been a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut that went primarily to the rich and bankrupt the government? Would the federal response to Katrina have been as inadequate? Would Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld , John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez had high level positions in the government? Would Samuel Alito been a Supreme Court justice? Would the U.S. have rejected the Kyoto Protocol? Would the stem cell, children’s insurance bills and Intelligence Authorization Act which would have banned waterboarding been vetoed?

This is just a partial list and I could go on but on but every one of these I know that the answer would have been “no” had a democrat been elected. If you don’t consider these to be major difference between the democrats and republicans I’m speechless and will stop commenting because there is nothing left to say. You would have me believe that I shouldn’t have been so upset with Bush stealing the election in 2000 because ultimately the policies of our government would have been virtually identical.

Dewy24 said...

DN. Remind me how you showed your outrage at Dennis Kucinich "changing his stance radically in a matter of months" on abortion rights when running for the democratic nomination. Surely that qualifies at a flip flop in the same way you accuse Obama. Or is changing your position for political expediency ok if you happen to agree with the position a politician ultimately takes?

Dan said...

Don't kill the moderator. My only concern about the bare knuckle debating is that you might intimidate someone less brazen out of offering their opinion. You two can beat the crap out of eachother like a couple of classless drunk Red Sox fans all you want. I assume you're joking in comparing the receptions that Papelbon got last night and the one Mariano got in 05, so I won't bother addressing that. And I assume the rest of that comment is directed at AK, so I'll skip that as well.

dewy24, you're missing the point. My outrage is not over Obama's flip flop; it's over his vote. That was an outrageous bill to vote for, in my opinion. I don't really give a damn if DK decided to be become pro-choice. That's a decisions to grant US citizens more rights, not a decision to take them away (even if you consider fetuses full blown human lives, they're not US citizens (born in the USA) yet). The fact that he swayed people to give him the nomination by saying he was going to protect their liberties, then turned around and took those liberties away shortly after he got the nomination only makes his decision more despicable. He'd be getting this criticism from me regardless of the flip flop. the flip flop is just salt in the wound.

Keep moving the line back.

joel said...

Dewey24,

Low blow, I think I have to give DN a mulligan on Dennis Kucinich.



Joel

Dan said...

Thanks, Joel. But no mulligan necessary. D24's just grasping at straws trying to defend his by any means necessary support of the Democratic Party. If a candidate is 1% better than the Republican candidate then there is a strict moratorium on criticizing anything he does.

Dewy24 said...

Grasping at straws? I took all your straws and made a hat!

My point on bringing in Kucinich is to illustrate that Obama certainly isn’t alone in "changing his stance radically in a matter of months". You accuse Obama of voting for FISA for political expediency yet don’t criticize Kucinich for changing his position on abortion for political expediency. Why would the issue matter? A flip flop is a flip flop (unless we are talking about footwear). I am a little dense but I can’t see the difference.

Remember that I said long ago that I too was disappointed with his vote so I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be criticized. I just think your punishment is harsher than the crime. In my previous comment I listed a bunch of things that would have been different under a democratic president and I think the sum of those difference add up to a lot more than a 1% difference. Almost every left leaning non-profit that you support is going to endorse Obama because they understand that this country will be very different under the democrats.

As far as moving the line back I think I’ve addressed most every counter-argument, or at least all a have time to address. I am at work. We just disagree and that is cool. By the way what is the VTK record for comments on a post because I have a lot more. I’d love to expand this straw hat metaphor.

Dan said...

a hat!?!? I turned your hat upside down, reworked it into a basket, and filled it with so many verbal beatdowns that you got classified as a basketcase!

In fact, you did say that he shouldn't be criticized. You said you "grudgingly accept[ed] Obama voting for it" and that this space would be better used attacking McCain than Obama. Don't confuse akboognish's comments and mine. I didn't say that there was no difference between how Democrats would have run the world in the last 8 years and how Republicans did, and I didn't even say that I wouldn't vote for Obama (though in MA it won't matter, so I have yet to decide). In fact, now that I review my comments, I said "I hope he wins instead of McCain". This whole post was just an attempt to be consistent, call him out on this bullshit, and give him the criticism he rightly deserves. I'm not going to endorse him on this blog for 12 months and then keep silent when he pulls some bullshit like this. The whole issue of this vote being a flip-flop is ancillary, though not irrelevant. Citing the fact that a progressive politician that I consider to be admirable once flip flopped on something too is pointless. It has no bearing on this discussion. Your point is clearly that everyone flip flops sometimes and therefore no one should ever be called on it. Fuck that. The consequences of the flip flop matter. A lot in this case. Punishment is harsher than the crime? Really? This legislation is pretty fucking criminal and his punishment is that some nobody small time assorted topics blogger from Cambridge says "shame on him". What a police state this blog has become. Call me Il Duce from now on.

I think the record is like 50 - the Top Ten High School movies post got a lot of responses.

(and for the record, a small part of me was disappointed with DK when he switched his stance on abortion, even though he was aligning himself with me. It bothered me that a man of his principles, could let The Machine change him too)

Dan said...

Also, I voted for Sharpton, not Kucinich, in 04, and it might have been because of that flip flop. Can't remember.

Awaiting your racist Sharpton bashing ...

Dewy24 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dewy24 said...

"Awaiting your racist Sharpton bashing ..." Dude. WTF. I love Rev. Al.

You might be the world's most difficult person to get the last word in on.

(deleted my last post because I mistakenly wrote "I might be the world's most difficult person to ..."

Dan said...

You're a basketcase. A basket of racism. You and Papelbon should go down to Tom English's Pub in Southie and have a pint.

A pint of blonde lager.

I'll take Sharpton, Mariano, and a nice pint of Guinness at one of the many non-racist Irish pubs in Cambridge.

Dewy24 said...

Stop mangling my metaphor!

Speaking of pubs my friend Greg called me from work last night at a bar/restaurant on Broadway and told me he was serving Bernie Williams. I begged him to say "Here's your check Noodle Arm" but he wouldn't do it. Something about losing his job. Actually I always liked Bernie and Mariano. Jeter's a pretty boy, cocky punk though.

Dan said...

Well, I'm not going to give you that as the last word.

akboognish said...

Dewy, you definitely don't need to argue that we'd be better off with a D than with Bush. No question. It's true on a million levels, including all the ones you mentioned.

But "better" is only just that. It doesn't mean "good," "satisfactory," "principled," "spine-ful," or "credible."

We probably wouldn't have gone into Iraq the way we did under Gore. But that doesn't absolve the Dem's for overwhelmingly favoring the war authorization and making it possible for us to go in there in the first place.

Guantanamo is a creature of Bush, but again, the Dem's have continued to fund it and have been unable (unwilling) to stop it.

DHS was as much a creation of the Dems as the Repubs. Alito is in there as much because of the Dems as the Repubs--they barely tried to stop his nomination even though they knew how bad he was. Bush might have nominated him, but the Dem's approved him.

And that's what pisses me off so much about them. They act like it's enough to say a few words in opposition--sometimes--and then cave when push comes to shove. They're so worried about offending some mythical middle that they fail to advance any agenda other than their own reelection.

So when I say that they're all the same, of course I'm not saying that they are all identical clones of each other. There are some differences, and occasionally those differences matter. But in the system we have now, with two parties, one fighting to move the country into fascism and one happy to keep it in corporate-kleptocracy land, I don't see corporate-kleptocracy land being something I want to vote for, even though it might be better than fascism.

It's like amon and Jeter. Just because Damon is better than Jeter, it doesn't mean that I want him on my team. I want Ellsbury on my team. And I'm sick of people telling me I have to want Damon just because if I don't have Damon I'm going to get stuck with Jeter. If that's the system, the system is broken and it's time to throw it out. Time to say that you're sick of the limited choices and that either the game has to change or you're going to stop playing the game.

Dan said...

"amon"? Is that some sort of Amos and Andy reference? God you Red Sox fans are racist. No wonder Papelbon's racist preggo wife felt threatened driving through a crowd of multiculturally accepting non-racist Yankees fans. She couldn't scream racial slurs and it freaked her out.

Dewy24 said...

I agree with you on the Iraq War resolution. It was the biggest failure of the Democratic party in recent memory and those who voted for it should be roundly criticized. But you are wrong when you say “overwhelmingly favoring the war authorization” 126 out of 207 Democrats in the House and 21 of the 50 Democrats in the Senate voted against it. That make as total of 147 no votes to 110 yes votes. Completely inadequate opposition it was but most Democrats did oppose it.

Just because the Dems can’t stop Guantanamo doesn’t mean they are complicit. Are the Republicans in the Massachusetts Congress complicit in the legalization of gay marriage or are they simply unable to stop it? Guantanamo was set up by the Department of Defense and the fight against it is more a legal battle than a legislative battle. The Supreme Court’s decision that Gitmo detainees are entitled to Constitutional protect was shocking or at least much more than I expected of the current court. Of course John McCain bashed and Obama praised the ruling. I guess they could raise more of a ruckus but ultimately Congress has very little power to force the closure of Gitmo other than electing a president that will close it.

Remember that the Senate was under Republican control in 2005 when Alito’s nomination was voted on. The vote in the Judiciary Committee went straight down party lines 10-8 without a single Democrat crossing lines. The vote in the full Senate went 58-42 with only 4 Democrats voting for him. John Kerry made an attempt to filibuster but he didn’t have the votes and wouldn’t have had them even if the four Democrats changed their votes to no. I really don’t understand what else you expected the Democrats to do.

You are right about the Democrats being behind the DHS but my point is that it wouldn’t have been their reaction to 9/11. Bush was ridiculously popular at the time and the country was still in shock. There was no way that was going to be stopped. I’m not necessarily opposed the idea of a DHS but more upset with the way it has been run under the Bush administration.

I’m not unsympathetic to your view that the two party system is broken but at the same time I don’t think it is going to change. And if you don’t things can get a lot worse, you haven’t been paying attention to the last eight year. I also don’t think other forms of democracy are much different. Parliamentary systems have the problems we are talking about here. So other than authoritarian rule I don’t see how you will ever get the government you want. If you were arguing for authoritarian rule by the left, you’d probably get a lot less lip from me. But short of that the unfortunate fact is that there are and always will be a lot of conservatives who fundamentally disagree with the left’s vision of what America should be.

I guess my view is pretty cynical in that I think every country gets the government it deserves and occasionally I wonder why I even care. The amount of apathy or ignorance which causes this mess isn’t going to change but I’ll take trying to make them the best we can. They say it better than I can so please refer to the last track of ‘Let it Bleed’. It is a brilliant reflection on the cycles of idealism, disillusion and pragmatism. I think he is talking about drugs most of the time but it is the same thing.

I’m still trying to understand your Damon/Jeter analogy. Does it have anything to do with a straw hat?

Dan said...

d24, is this a misprint: "If you were arguing for authoritarian rule by the left, you’d probably get a lot less lip from me."

That doesn't sound like you (given our history of discussions about the career of Hugo Chavez).

Authoritarian rule by the left does not have a great track record on the planet Earth over the last 75 years or so.

akboognish said...

The very few instances of authoritarian rule by the (truly) left actually have a great track record (never mind the fact that authoritarian and left are probably mutually exclusive). I don't consider the Soviets any more left than the Chinese communists--they are collectivist in name only, but otherwise extremely right-wing. Castro and Chavez are the closest, with Ortega in Nicaragua also in there. All three did/are doing a pretty good job with their dictatorships. You balance out the quality of life for their citizens, measured in terms of almost every metric (education, health, infant mortality, opportunity, wealth disparity, etc...) and those three countries are doing/did extremely well when compared to other countries of similar size/population/economic development etc.

The Harper's article that I mentioned above had an interesting last line by one of the panelists, where he said that if either candidate wins and starts working up an Iran war, he (the panelist) would expect and welcome an intervention from the military, in a sort of Turkish-style coup or at least a sit-down strike. Apparently the top military commanders are horrified by the thought of an Iran war.

I blame the Dems for failing to filibuster Alito's nomination. Roberts was going to be impossible to filibuster, but there was a real chance to block Alito if the opposition party had any spine. Kerry started his filibuster from Davos, which didn't help anything, but I think he did it only because he was so surprised that nobody else had done so. Either way, it highlights the problem with the Dems--they are absolutely terrible at being the oppositional party, not knowing what their power is or how they can use it.

Looks like my prediction about the Dems ushering in off-shore oil drilling might have run into a little bump, in the name of Nancy Pelosi (my congresswoman). Apparently she's pretty committed to killing the proposal. Too bad she's countering it with a "Drill more responsibly in existing leases" campaign that will do nothing for the cost of gas and further destroy the environment, maintain dependency on fossil fuels, contribute to global warming, and line the pockets of big oil. But it's admittedly not off-shore so it's something.

Dan said...

I find it funny that you've gone from being outraged at Obama's vote to strip US citizens of their civil liberties to praising authoritarian dictatorships within the same comment section. You certainly have very specific understanding of what "left" is. Soviet and Chinese authoritarian governments were/are born out of communist ideals. Certainly they morphed and ended up pretty far from "socialist" ideals but at what point do you classify them as right wing and on what basis? How are you defining "right wing"? And would Castro even still be relevant if it weren't for decades of Soviet subsidies? Furthermore, I don't think you can compare Castro and Chavez's "dictatorships" at this stage. Not least of all because, Chavez is not a dictator, though he has certainly moved in that direction.

And most importantly, what do you think authoritarian rule by the "left" would look like in the US at this stage? Given the size of the country, the attitude of the populace, the status as global superpower, I think it would be a disaster.

akboognish said...

Well, like I said, I think authoritarian and left are mutually exclusive. The commies are/were right wing corporatists cloaked in the rhetoric of collectivism, but the collectivism is just window dressing. The soviets had a harder time admitting that than the Chinese but that's still where they ended up.

I agree that it's funny for me to singing the praises of any dictatorship in this post. But I condemn authoritarian rule whether its left or right. I just disagreed that left wing dictatorships had a poor track record--certainly not compared to similar rightist-ruled societies.

Cuba's situation post-Soviet subsidy was very bleak for a little while, but then what that country did with its farm program (organic, super local, extremely well managed) is incredible. They hardly had any fossil fuel-derived fertilizer, which is what the rest of the world depends on to feed itself (the "green revolution" is all about nitrogen fertilizer which almost all requires oil to produce) and so they figured out how to fertilize their farms on a large enough scale using sustainable and local means that still produced enough food for their population. They've done an awesome job; maintaining pretty good minimum health welfare standards compared to any country, first world or not, but fantastic standards compared to their neighbors (Haiti? DR?). Add in their education and social welfare standards (again, kicking the ass out of their neighbors) and you've got to give them credit, dictatorship or not.

Yeah, I know, the civil rights thing is a huge problem there, and there's no way I'd advocate for it or for a similar dictatorship model here. But considering that Castro is a dictator, never relinquishing power and virtually controlling the entire existence of a society, I'd say he's the best dictator in modern history. Which is only to say that every other dictator has been worse on most or all levels. If stuck with one, I'd go with Castro.

I agree that Chavez isn't a dictator yet. We'll see where he goes. I like almost all of what he's done so far, but am fearful that he wants to compete with Castro for longest-running ruler. Perhaps there's something about being the target of US imperialist rebellions / coups / assassination attempts that backs one into the role of power-hungry dictator (seemed to happen in Nicaragua, too). It's wrong, but I do tend to give the more left-leaning dictators a pass compared to the cabals who run the neighboring countries (although there are a lot fewer of those now!).

I can't even imagine authoritarian rule by the left. Maybe it would look like the Massachusetts delegation to the US Senate? I mean, Kennedy and Kerry are Senators-for-life, and I'm pretty damn happy about it at this point (and sad about Kennedy's brain cancer).

Leftist rule, on the other hand, might be possible some day. I'm not as cynical as Dewey is (or you appear to be in your last paragraph above), even though I probably hate everybody just as much as both of you do. But it will only after the Dems get out of the way and stop screwing it up.

Dan said...

Unfortunately, I'm out the door to catch a flight. I'll have to revisit this after the weekend.

lc said...

akboognish! The failure to filibuster Alito was the comment thread I referred to earlier. total crap. the failure, not the post.

I'm interested in where this thread is headed and I feel like we're going to end up in China. I mean, we can sacrifice civil liberties as long as we end up with some quality of life benefits? I don't know. I like the idea of sticking with a principle even if it gives unprincipled people the right to be unprincipled. I think some of the (admittedly sexist and racist) philosophers had it right or at least more right than the politicos. Remember when ideas were involved as opposed to (ok, along with) cults of personality? If its about ideas, rather than strictly power, money, etc., then yeah we'll end up with some terrible no good regrettable failures (Bush and the democrats, frankly) but at least we will be able to choose whether or not we want to own or disown those. I think one of our greatest assets as a nation/political system is that we value critical thought.Otherwise, we're a lot more wary of posting our meanderings on blogs for fear of reprisal. And without that, there would be no VTK.

I have to agree with DN (and misquote and paraphrase) that authoritarianism's track record in cultivating critical thought is less than zero.

akboognish said...

I'm definitely not advocating for the sacrifice of any civil liberties, and these two threads in my opinion are pretty much unrelated to each other. I'll take my lumps with a free democratic society (with the very real risk that it ends up being controlled by the right wing) over "leftist" authoritarian rule.

I'm with you 100%, Ic, that principle is more important than power, which is why we also agree that Obama's vote was such an offense.

Unfortunately, I don't hold up our society as any example of a principled, free critical thought environment, or a defender of civil liberties. The right is in power here because it's rigged the system, making money the driving factor and neutralizing votes. We've figured out how to allow people to perceive that they have rights and freedoms when actually they are just as much victims of an oppressive regime as those in authoritarian societies. Your comment that this thread is dangerously heading towards China is a good one, although I think it's going that way from the other direction: China is the realization of the corporatist dream, having a lot more in common with the US than with Cuba.

Dewy24 said...

I agree that the U.S. should do far more to protect civil liberties. But I don't agree that we "are just as much victims of an oppressive regime as those in authoritarian societies." I could easily name 30 countries where we would be thrown in prison for saying what we have on this post. Now I also recognize that it is pathetic that I'm saying "yeah, but we're better than Burma." But if we are comparing the U.S.with other countries, who is more free gets a little murky. For example wire tapping in many HREF="http://www.slate.com/id/2136147/> European countries is far worse than in the U.S. (I'll be amazed if my attempt at embedding a link works) Again that is not a defense of wire tapping, just pointing out that a lot of countries generally considered more liberal than the U.S. give their citizens fewer rights to privacy, at least when it comes to wire tapping. I recently read an article in the HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/19/us/19exclude.html?pagewanted=2&sq=exclusionary%20rule&st=cse&scp=1> Timesabout the Exclusionary Rule and how most other countries are far more lenient in allowing illegally obtained evidence to trial.

Dewy24 said...

total failure on the links.

Dan said...

I'm back after a weekend of pant splitting fun (those of you who know my brother, ask him what I mean by that).

akb - regarding your comments about the farming revolution in Cuba, I had an opportunity to talk to my (very progressive) cousin who lived there (legally) for a couple years and is married to a Cuban. He agrees that they have done some pretty impressive things with local farming and self-sufficiency, though he points out that this was out of necessity rather than ideology. All the cows died. He also pointed out that while it is primarily organic, the farmers use pesticides when/where they can get their hands on them to increase their income from the crops. it's about survival, not politics. He also agreed that while many Cubans would jump at the opportunity to come to the US and take a shot at the imperialist dream, they really have not interest in going to Guatemala or Mexico or other regional countries (certainly not DR or Haiti) that would not provide them any more substantial poverty relief than staying in Cuba. Again, on a personal, non-governmental level, I think these issues are dictated by practicality, not politics. I've been there. It's no paradise. I'd more closely classify it as a "shithole". Though some parts of the country are obviously beautiful. The people are poor and the fear of the government is deeply ingrained. Maybe that's because there are soldiers with machine guns standing on street corners.

[side note - he also tipped me to a popular conspiracy theory regarding the Irish referendum that took down the Lisbon Treaty (he lives in Dublin these days). Apparently, part of the Treaty had to do with establishing an EU military force that would be something of an updated NATO (excluding the US, including EU countries previously behind the Iron Curtain). Some of the individuals who were associated with the grassroots efforts to vote to reject the Treaty on the referendum in Ireland reportedly had high level security clearance within the US Dept of Defense. The theory is that they were encouraging the Irish people to vote the Treaty down to prevent the establishment of an EU military organization and to promote continued US military hegemony. Don't know how much truth is involved in this conspiracy theory, but it's interesting enough to check around on the internet. Unfortunately, Obama won't let me email my cousin in privacy, so I can't get the rest of the story from him.]

lc - are you trying to steer this thread into your wheelhouse? Be forewarned, VTKids, she's an Ivy League Chinese Foreign Policy buff. I agree with you though: a world without free meandering in the comment section of VTK is not a world I want to be a part of. (paraphrase?)

d24 - I also disagree that we "are just as much victims of an oppressive regime as those in authoritarian societies." But why congratulate ourselves for not being as bad as other countries (crappy Euro countries or Burma). It used to be a point of pride in this country that we could be such a global superpower and an economic success (I know I just opened a can of worms there) while holding ourselves and our government up to impressive levels of civil liberties. We were a strong country even without spying on our own, whereas much of the rest of the world felt the need to do that. And those who didn't were following our lead. It is what liberals love(d) about this country. What we held up high while the conservatives were holding up their lapel flag pins. It is why this vote by someone who purported to be different, to be speaking truth to power, was a slap in the face.

(to fix your hyperlinking problems, check out one of your posts on your blog that has a link. go to edit the post and copy/paste the whole html of the link to somewhere. then just replace the url and the words that you want hyperlinked when you want to link something here.)

Dan said...

d24's links:

Wiretapping, European-Style It actually doesn't surprise at all that Great Britain (Remember Giuseppe Conlin!!) and Italy (always an AC Milan victory away from reverting to total fascism) spy on their own. The Netherlands is a bit surprising. I would have figured they were too hopped up on space cake to care.

U.S. Is Alone in Rejecting All Evidence if Police Err Canada sucks so we should too? (interesting (less conspiratorial, more likely true) theory from my other cousin (Canadian) that I picked up over the weekend - there are many within the Canadian government who are supportive of the conservative movement within the US and of the Bush Administration and a potential McBush Administration. he says that it's likely that they lied about the Obama campaign person supposedly assuring them behind closed doors that all the anti-NAFTA rhetoric was just campaign politics (i.e. they were just trying to politically undermine Obama).)

Also of interest: 4 more comments and we break the record set by the "Top 10 Pyrrhic Victories of All Time" post for most commented on post.

akboognish said...

No doubt that all of Cuba's organic agrarian reforms were done out of necessity, and not politics and not even environmental stewardship. But still impressive and still resulted in a much improved food situation compared to the bleakest years post-USSR. I know you have a strong opinion of the place as a shithole and that you had a bad experience there, and I've never been there, but again, all I'm saying is that by almost every objective metric Cuba is better off than its similar neighbors, and your cousin's comment that folks there might prefer to live in the US but not in other Latin American countries confirms that (and is in line with my experience working with Cuban asylum seekers in the US).

Like I said, I'd take Castro over any other dictator (or, to paraphrase you, better to be poor in Cuba than be poor in Haiti, DR, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, etc...). Kind of a stupid comment, obviously, because I'll never have to make that choice, but it gives me an excuse to talk about how the most important contribution of Cuba when all is said and done is their applied permaculture thing they've got going on. We'll need that knowledge soon and hopefully we won't have blown them to smithereens first.

Dewy24 (and Dan): If the system is absolutely corrupted and controlled by a power elite, and dissent is never heard, to the extent it's even tolerated (remember the freedom cages at the Dem convention in Boston?), and folks don't engage in dissent regardless because they're too stuffed with consumerist/corporatist crap and ignorant of any (or almost all) oppositional voices, what's the real difference? And what about the persecution by our government of Sami Al-Amin? I think there is plenty of fear in this country and plenty of good reason to have fear.

As for that bullshit story in the NYTimes about us being alone in using the exclusionary rule, if any of us ever needed proof that that paper is the voice of the system, and nothing more, this is it.

I think most people would agree with the exclusionary rule: if the police break the law and as a result discover some evidence, then the evidence can't be used against the victim of the police's illegal behavior. It's a judge-made rule that is designed to implement the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures (it's a remedy to a violation) and has generally had a positive impact in forcing good police work. Unfortunately, it's just a judge-made rule and has since been almost completely destroyed by exceptions, exemptions, work-arounds, and subsequent interpretations. The crim defense lawyers I know make a big deal whenever an exclusionary rule motion is granted by a judge--it hardly ever happens.

I think the exclusionary rule is a great example of a "right" that exists just to assuage us into thinking that we're freer than we are. Ever try to exercise your rights when getting shaken down by a cop? It doesn't work (speaking of which, happy belated Bastille Day, all). As it is, we're right in line with the rest of the world: the cops lie 99.9999% of the time and the evidence gets in. For that .0001% of the time where the cop is too stupid (or ethical? no, forget that) to lie, there's an exception, exemption, etc... that the judge can use to still allow the evidence to get in.

And so the NYTimes has the guts to run a joke of an article about how the US is all alone--Canada doesn't even have it!, with hardly any context about the history of police oppression in this country, especially to minorities, unions, political dissidents, etc..., and with hardly any talk about how the rule doesn't even really exist here, anyway (yes, there really is a "good faith" exception to the rule). The story should be "What's left of the exclusionary rule slated for execution by S. Ct."; that would be more accurate.

Dan, Ireland conspiracy: interesting stuff, but it seems so hard to believe. I can see how the EU military might be against the US's military interests, but wouldn't the EU be better for international capital? I can't imagine the money in this country being behind scuttling the deal, although maybe I'm not giving the military folks enough credit for how much power they wield in Washington. I always thought that Iraq and even Afghanistan were more about making money than they were about securing US power. On the other hand, it's hard to believe anything that important goes down without the illuminati controlling it somehow.

Random tangent: I want to amend my top-ten high school movie list and take Breakfast Club off. I first left it off, remembering it as a sucky and inaccurate portrayal of each stereotype, but then added it on after reading a bunch of posts and stuff. I saw it this weekend and it is just as sucky as I remembered it. It had ok acting but terrible writing, that did almost nothing for me then or now.

Dan said...

I agree - still impressive. As far as my thinking the place is a shithole, I pretty much do. But I also say that a lot because I feel like people (especially over here on the left) have a tendency to romanticize the place, something you might be doing. I know I did before I went there. To clarify your paraphrase of me: I wouldn't say "better" to be poor in Cuba than Haiti/DR/Guat/etc; I'd say that they see it as a lateral move and not worth the hassle/cultural/familial upheaval.

As to your next "Dewy24 (and Dan)" comment, I think you're exaggerating the situation. You're in the right ballpark and make some good points, but it's hyperbole to say that "dissent is never heard" and "folks don't engage in dissent". That's just not true. There is a real difference between dissent in this country and in other countries. Not to pimp my own experience (like I did with the Cuban example), but one small example that sticks out in my mind was the enoughfear.org political action, in which we Americans were broadcasting our actions to everyone in the Boston Commons including the police and the Iranians involved (there and here) did not feel comfortable giving their last names. There are many examples of our government not tolerating dissent (and that's an understatement), but to extrapolate from that into equating the situation here to authoritarian regimes is an exaggeration of the situation. You can respond with multiple examples but they would still be X number of examples out of Y total possible persecutions - as opposed to the Y out of Y that happens in some parts of the world. Doesn't excuse the X's.

"cops lie 99.9999% of the time" - more hyperbole.

like I said, pure conspiracy theory on the Lisbon Treaty until I research further.

As far as the Breakfast Club statement goes, I'll repeat my reply from that thread: "I think you may be looking too critically at it. It's not a piece of pure realism. The characters are hyperbolic for effect. How can you not like John Bender's character? He's iconic."

Kevin said...

Finally, something on which I can comment with some authority:

10. Heathers
9. Sixteen Candles
8. To Sir With Love
7. Better Off Dead
6. Risky Business
5. Just One of the Guys
4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
3. Hoosiers
2. Dazed and Confused
1. Vision Quest

-Kevin B.

Dan said...

Vision Quest at # 1? You're a wild man, KB.

For a more exhaustive discussion on the matter from the citizens of VTKountry, see the original post.