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Dec 16, 2011

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Fec

That NYT excerpt is so much more compelling than anything Greenwald has had to say on the issue. The latter seems flummoxed that the NDAA only confirms domestic legal calamities already upheld by the courts. It'll be interested to read what Hedges says about it when he returns from working on his book.

cheripickr

Liberal president elected on hope and change. We lose hope, so he needs to change. Moves to center, enforces policies he once campaigned on ending, for any hopes of re-election. It is the natural evolution of any liberal president in this country shooting for the eight year track.

Fec

Obama was never a liberal.

Kim

He just played one on teevee.

Ishmael

I second the notion that he was never a liberal.

cheripickr

He had the 1st or 2nd most liberal voting record in the senate the year prior to his election (I think Kerry was the other)

sean

liberal, meaning he actual cast a vote?

justcorbly

That assumes Congressional voting records are an appropriate indicator of political stance. Since it's rather obvious that members of Comgress don't always vote based on their convictions -- to put it mildly -- I think it has limited value.

Besides, it all depends on who built the yardstick and who is doing the measuring.

cheripickr

sean, good point

Fec

Obama is an ingenue for the oligarchs and plutocrats, who hopes that should he keep up their games, they might one day allow him to sit at the table, rather than continue as one of the help.

cheripickr

If I had said that I would be in big, big trouble. Anybody see Roch anywhere?

Bill Yaner

I believe this President has taken to the center from day 1 in the White House, with his most often cited sin of leading healthcare reform being borrowed from the Republican proposal of only two years prior.

The more steadfastly he grabbed at the center, however, the more air he grabbed. Moderate Republicans could have had a heck of a three years of legislating had their been any with the courage to stand up.

One man's opinion.

Patrick Eakes

two men's opinion, Bill

Ed Cone

This is policy is toward the center of...what, exactly?

justcorbly

Right. It is not centrtist to advocate the military detention and trial for American citizens. Such thinking has no place anywhere on the legitimate American political spectrum.

It puts us in the position of having to trust that politicians and law enforcers and the mlitary will, first, always be right, and, two, will never abuse their authority.


The first is a fantasy. As for the second, we have Constitutional and legal protections against abuse by authorities, which this bill seems intent on nullifying.

It's one more instance of a reaction to terrorism seeming so over the top and so damaging in its own right that one wonder's what the real impetus is.

Fec

The corporatists have used terrorism as an excuse to infringe upon individual liberty for the sake of putting down opposition.

cheripickr

Wow, never thought I'd see the day. Has Obama now ascended to being on par with Bush as a bigger enemy to our nation than Islamic terrorism?

Bill Bush

Could he have sustained a veto?

Fec

He never had any intention of a veto. Read the links.

The only reason to fear Islamic terrorism is American Imperialism. While the average Islamofascist is building bombs, he's also saving his money and dreaming of a way to send his children here to enjoy our excellent schools and high standard of living. Europe has already been overrun with such ambitions, primarily due to its proximity.

sean

the proposed reality of the bill is that only "bad guy" americans will be chased after, but the reality of reality is that nothing's perfect and the fourth amendment is looking like roadkill.

this is the exact kind of bill that turned me from feeling indifferent / cautious of bush (patriot act, forcing phone records en masse, etc.) to downright fearing that he was ruining our nation.

i don't know what to feel about obama. troops are coming home, osama is dead, healthcare is moving in the right direction, yet banking / wall street is still running rampant and now this...

designation

Has Obama now ascended to being on par with Bush as a bigger enemy to our nation than Islamic terrorism?

Yes. But it's been that way for a few years now.

Any liberals in NC that want to halt the Democrats' 30 year march to the right will quit enabling Obama with their votes as the nation's eyes turn to NC in 2012.

Say it loud and proud: Obama is no Democrat.

Billy Jones

The war is over, America fallen, democracy lost, socialism lost, anarchy lost... the 1% Fascists won. Washington, Napoleon., Mao Tse-tung, Stalin and Hitler are rolling over in their graves while Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini laughs at us all from his special place in Hell. And Barak Obama will someday sit beside him.

sean

let's not get too crazy, billy.

Fec

Bullshit, the war has yet to be fought. Hedges, by virtue of witnessing revolutions in southern Europe and South America, shows the way. The challenge is to prepare for a right wing backlash, foster our weak democracy and ward of totalitarianism.

It will be done on a local level and without violence. The sanctity and dignity of the individual will be honored at all cost. We will choose love and reason over ignorance and the power of destruction.

A child could do it. Indeed, an innocent child probably will.

Billy Jones

Sean, "let's not get too crazy, billy."

I fear I crossed that line a long time ago.


Fec, I wish I were so optimistic as you appear to be.

Fec

Billy, I submit that few have stared as long and as hard into the abyss as me. What I finally found was a hopeful God staring back at me. Our problems are not insoluble. Hell, apathy and ignorance are overcome with the simple circumstance of an empty belly.

If we are to prevail, we must not fear to call evil by its name. Sometimes, that is all that is required. You may soon come to find that evil trucks much too often for its own good with cowardice.

  Bill Yaner

"The sanctity and dignity of the individual will be honored at all cost."

Well yes, Atlas shrugged. But is not this whole post about our expansion beyond the individual?

Fec

The inexpensive blended scotch whiskey which has so far this evening empowered me is quickly waning, but what remains questions the importance of any social construct which does not nurture individual liberty.

We are not, never have been and never shall be the borg. The incandescent light of freedom burns within each soul as the singular proof of a Providential existence. Any attempt to disregard that fundamental truth is waste and pestilence and dishonor.

cheripickr

This all sounds so beautiful and heavy. But can somebody boil this thing down to some specifics? Who is the enemy? What have they done to us? What is the evil? Who is we? Who is they? What is the "it" that we and the child will do? Is it just that 99 vs 1 thing, something else, or do we just have a good Friday night buzz going?

Fec

I'm just as juiced on Hedges. You should try it sometime.

Fec

Paranoia and anti-intellectualism. Add to that a failure to exercise due diligence. Song of the pseudo-conservative.

cheripickr

I see the paranoia, I just don't understand who/what shadowy forces it is directed at. Are you and Billy on the same page about the evil ones, or do your wars and villains differ to some degree?

Fec

You are either feigning a lack of comprehension or are not serious. In either case, your comments are disingenuous and I suspect designed simply to infuriate. Your incessant questioning projects a veiled malevolence which presupposes a lack of respect.

Joy is found in the kind of plain dealing of which you appear to be completely unaware. I feel sorry for you, alien creature.

Fec

OTOH, Occam's Razor says you're just stupid.

polifrog

fec

I'm just as juiced on Hedges. You should try it sometime.

I tried out Hedges over at your place. You do realize he is only a communist who happens to be smart enough to understand an admission of that sort would discredit him.


Billy Jones

But, as I've said before, there is a bright side. Now that Obama has signed the bill he could declare GOP leaders to be suspected terrorists and make them disappear.

And if he doesn't do so then there's proof, Obama is not a liberal.

cheripickr

Fec, You don't do very well with discussion, much less debate, do you? All I did was ask you to explain what the hell you are talking about. It's not like it was exactly clear. Is that too tall a task for you?

You just expect people to understand and accept whatever armageddonal vagaries you are waxing philosophically about, and when asked for specifics, get angry, and reach into your tired and overworn repertoir of 4th grade insults with a couple of $5 words mixed in to sound smart time(booger-eaters,morons retards, pseudoconservatives, misogynists, xenophobes, blah blah blah etc.) Is that really the best you can do to communicate? Can you not have a dialogue without presuming everyone else is already a disciple of whomever's spell you have fallen under du jour, or failing that, evil, and start potty-mouthing again? If not, you don't have to worry about me causing you to overflow your diaper any more. I guess I assumed that underneath all the bad boy personna there was a little more to you than that. Carry on.

Ed Cone

Here's how I put it a while back in a newspaper column:

We are as a nation suspicious of power. It's a distrust encoded in our political DNA, dating back to the founding of the republic, and deeply ingrained in our culture. Most often, we think in terms of political power and its threats to liberty, and with good reason.

But government is not the only power to be reckoned with, and sometimes it serves as a necessary counterbalance to other forms of influence.

Suspicion of commercial interests was evident in the days of the Founders (they also believed that government could be too weak, which is why they took a mulligan and wrote the Constitution after the Articles of Confederation proved inadequate). Thomas Jefferson said that he hoped to "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations."

...Now, after a generation in which the clout of big business has grown enormously, and respect for the useful machinery of the marketplace has mutated in some quarters into something close to idolatry, we need to rethink the common belief that says government is always the problem.

...Talk about socialism: We've been so busy making sure that bankers stay rich that we have yet to reform their industry...

...The larger issue [is] the question of who really controls our government, and what master government serves -- the people or the moneyed interests.

polifrog

Well, Ed, it definitely helps not to sound like a nut.

Suspicion of commercial interests was evident in the days of the Founders (they also believed that government could be too weak, which is why they took a mulligan and wrote the Constitution after the Articles of Confederation proved inadequate). Thomas Jefferson said that he hoped to "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations."

What would those same founding fathers say of government spending that accounted for, not the 3% of of GDP they were accustomed to, but rather the 45% of GDP we are accustomed to and during which time the spending of private and commercial interests plummeted from 97% of GDP to 55%? Would they have truly feared commercial interests and corporations which [or who:)] have been at the loosing end of this equation since 1860?

Your answer appears to be commercial interests.

Really? Really?

Even your icing, Ed, fails to hide basic nuttery.

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that commercial interests and influence is all stands between government spending at 45% of GDP and government spending at 75% of GDP.

Fear the nuts who wish to silence them.


Fec

Fear the nuts who proclaim themselves Libertarian.

Ed Cone

I'm pretty sure the Founders would be appalled at current levels of corporate power over and in government, yes.

A lot of the growth of government spending and government power is related to corporate interests (e.g., "defense" spending, industries protected by regulators they control, etc).

justcorbly

Frog, the founders didn't fear commercial interests. Nor did the fear government power. They feared concentrations of interest and power, whether in government, in commercial interests, the church. the military, etc.

Some feared it less than others. E.g., the debate between Jefferson and Hamilton on the path the nascent nation should take. On the other hand, substantial numbers of people thought even Jerfferson's vision allowed too much power in the hands of too few people.

But, those differences are all variations along the same spectrum. Underlying everything was the conviction that concentrations of wealth and power, by anyone, threaten the rights of everyone else. Government's duty is to secure the rights of everyone, so it has a responsibility to act to contain or disperse the power and influence wielded by such concentrations.

Your assertion about the changing ratio of commercial and government components of GDP over time seems to be arguing that concentrations of private and corporate wealth and power are not to be feared merely because of the increase in government's portion of the GDP.

We need to ask where does that government spending go? It goes to private and corporate interests. Some goes to individuals in the form of Social Security payments, and everntually to other commercial intersts hen spent. Medicare ends up in the accounts of doctors, hospitals and medical and insurance corporations. Absent personnel compensation (which follows the same path as Social Security payments) defense spending flows into the accounts of a relative few corporations.

I think a more valid assertion is that the increased slice of GDP taken by government ultimately concentrates more wealth and power in unelected commercial interests that, with the cooperation of Congress, have managed to wall themselves off from democratic control.

That's the real split in the country: One form of government for concentrated wealth and power, and another form for everyone else.

And that is something the Founders would immediately recognize and oppose.

polifrog

Ed:

A lot of the growth of government spending and government power is related to corporate interests...

...And an excellent reason that is to cut the ties that bind, namely, government spending.

How much interest in influencing government spending does an industry not affected by government spending have?

How much interest in influencing government spending does the financial industry, heath care industry, automotive industry have?

Let's look at the trend:

We start with government at 3% of GDP during which time commercial influence and interest in government was minimal as government's influence was minimal.

Over time, however, government influence grew via regulation and commercial interest in influencing that regulation grew commensurately.

Not satisfied with influence via simple regulation, government increased influence via increased spending power following the Great Depression. It should come as no surprise that commercial interest in influencing the flow of that spending followed.

What is the proposed solution for the commercial interest in government's ever increasing expenditures on the "benevolent" coddling of its citizenry? To silence their private voice, a solution that is nothing more than the continuation of a 150 year trend toward lost liberty.

Hence, the Fec's of the world argue that liberty is best served by silencing private influence to the benefit of government influence. Really?

None of you seem remotely aware of what you argue for in the name of liberty.

polifrog

Justcorbly:

We need to ask where does that government spending go? It goes to private and corporate interests. Some goes to individuals in the form of Social Security payments, and everntually to other commercial intersts hen spent. Medicare ends up in the accounts of doctors, hospitals and medical and insurance corporations. Absent personnel compensation (which follows the same path as Social Security payments) defense spending flows into the accounts of a relative few corporations.

Then you agree the source of the problem is the concentration of wealth in government that fuels unbridled spending, its 45% share of GDP, and a massive concentration of government influence?

Well, no. Apparently, despite government first concentrating wealth and subsequent influence it is the private interests that benefit from that concentration of wealth who are both at fault and to be feared:

I think a more valid assertion is that the increased slice of GDP taken by government ultimately concentrates more wealth and power in unelected commercial interests that, with the cooperation of Congress, have managed to wall themselves off from democratic control.

Yours is broken logic, as you skip the primary concentration of wealth and influence in government only to attack secondary private interests in government largess.

The only solution is to decrease the concentration of interest, influence, and wealth in government, as only then will the private concentration of interest, influence and wealth you fear wither upon a dry government teat.

Occupy Ed Brain

Oh, well. At least he stood up to Wall Street and fixed the housing mess.*Ed

WTF! Are you on some type of Russ Limbnuts Pill?

Obama is own lock stock and barrel by Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street Criminal Terrorists.. No doubt you do not read or know the local forecloser or national forecloser stats. The bankgangtors are up to their ass in Homes and the former families are living in tents, Cars, and the Streets.......

justcorbly

Frog, I haven't agreed that government spending is a problem, much less that it is "unbridled". It certainly is not a moral or ethical issue.

You assert that government spending -- without defining "government" or pointing to a source -- accounts for 45% of GDP, then claim it is the primary source of wealth. I believe 45% is still less than 55%.

How, exactly, would my liberties be protected and enhanced if government spending was cut to say, 25% of GDP? What could I do then that I cannot do now? (Let's ignore how the conomy might respond to a 20% drop in GDP.)

Constraints on our liberties coming from government are not related to spending. They are related to legislation and court decisions.

For example, would the Patriot Act be repealed? Would SOPA be tossed in the trash? Would I be free to fly without the TSA x-raying and groping me? Would Time-Warner lose its monopoly here so I'd be free to choose from a range of better providers? Woild I be able to afford the freedom of choosing my health care providers as I see fit?

Would corporations and the wealthy stop paying elected officials to ignore the welfare of their constituents?

The problem with government spending is running long-term unsustainable deficits. That's not especially smart, but I can't see how it that makes government more of a threat to my liberties.

Cutting government spending -- altering that GDP ratio -- would do nothing to reduce the undemocratic influence corporations have in government and across our society. If anything, as their spending increased as a percentage of GDP, they would have more influence.

bubba

"We need to ask where does that government spending go? It goes to private and corporate interests."

We need to understand that, by necessity, some of it has to go to private corporations primarily on behalf of beneficiaries. (I specifically will not use the word "citizens" here)

On the other hand, I suppose we could always nationalize medicine completely, making all of it a federal operation, which is the not so subtle implication of your argument. On the other hand, that may be irrelevant if Obamacare doesn't die it's well deserved death, because the hilariously named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act accomplishes much of what my suggestion would produce.

Here's another idea: Why don't we make Social Security beneficiaries federal employees, and subject them to rigid control of how they spend their pension dollars? All unspent funds would revert back to Uncle Sugar.


Steve Harrison

"Hence, the Fec's of the world argue that liberty is best served by silencing private influence to the benefit of government influence."

That's not the argument, froggie. The argument is: Liberty is best served by limiting the influence of wealthy private interests, to the benefit of the less wealthy, who also have a stake in the way our government functions.

A lot of people on the right tend to classify government as being a separate entity, existing outside (or above) the citizenry of this country. Whether that's accurate or not, those same people, when presented with a tool that could possibly alleviate that situation and bring government and the people closer together (campaign finance reform), they reject such tools out of hand.

Until you address that glaring ideological inconsistency, you will continue to get the government you claim you don't want.

polifrog

Steve:

That's not the argument, froggie. The argument is: Liberty is best served by limiting the influence of wealthy private interests, to the benefit of the less wealthy, who also have a stake in the way our government functions.

Weakening a private sector voice does not necessarily translate a to greater voice for those remaining. Instead it translates to a weakening of the whole of the private sector relative to government.

Hence, the Fec's of the world argue that liberty is best served by silencing private influence to the benefit of government influence.

Until you address that continuing erosion of private sector influence as whole relative to government, you will continue to get the government you claim you don't want.

bubba

"Weakening a private sector voice does not necessarily translate a to greater voice for those remaining. Instead it translates to a weakening of the whole of the private sector relative to government."

....and enhances the statist cronyism voices of unions and other "progressive" special interest groups.

It's nothing more than rigging the game to make it impossible for those who oppose big government/big spending, the crony allies, and the perpetual exploiters of class warfare/perpetual victimization to put a stop to the growing malignancy in our society.

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