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Obama’s Latest U-Turn

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As Barack Obama’s presidency continues in the United States, it’s safe to say that a pattern is now emerging that reveals his true tradition. He is a politician, lest we forget, and his loyalties lie with nationalist and capitalist interests. That he should act accordingly should not surprise us. That he should make campaign promises to secure election and consequently turn from those should also not surprise us.

And so it also should not surprise us that Obama would turn his Change Chariot right back around in the direction previously traveled by one George W. Bush.

We have experienced a lot in the last few days, with a decision to try to block the release of photos showing prisoner abuse and another decision to avoid pursuit of the Bush era officials who may have sanctioned torture. Obama’s explanations are cluttered and mystifying, far from the straight-ahead platform of change he ran on.

The latest volte-face finds Obama restoring military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay and sending a very clear message that the architecture of his predecessor is good enough for him.

The Obama Administration seems to have itself fixated on moving forward, pressing the public to hurriedly move beyond the appalling torture of the Bush years and into a new, sunlit future. But if Barack Obama is adopting many of the same policies from the Bush Doctrine, how can the public be expected to see change on the horizon?

As a candidate, Obama criticized the military trials of the Bush Administration and claimed a desire to restore the rule of law and dignity to the United States on the global stage. Shortly after taking office in January, the president announced that he would close up shop at Gitmo within a year. He also suspended the military trials there, establishing a task force to deal with the detainees and the legal process mess.

But now, Obama is heading back in Bush's direction and reopening the military commissions he halted in January. The rub is that the Obama Administration is introducing a “new” way to approach these commissions that will include extra “safeguards.” The "safeguards" include bans on evidence obtained by harsh interrogation and restrictions on hearsay evidence.

"He (Obama) is taking a gravely, truly flawed system, tinkering at the edges and hoping that the world is somehow going to see this as legitimate, as open, as fair – it's not going to happen," said Zachary Katznelson of Reprieve, which represents a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Indeed, Obama’s insistence on toying with broken Bush policies is treacherous. By attempting to refashion the commissions that he dubbed an “enormous failure” in his campaign, Barack Obama is fundamentally trying to put lipstick on a pig. His reapplication of the military commissions, with or without new amendments, sends the wrong message to the global community.

The right message is clear: Obama must throw out the military commission architecture lock, stock and barrel and ditch the stain left by the Bush policies.

"It's disappointing that Obama is seeking to revive rather than end this failed experiment. There is no detainee at Guantanamo who cannot be tried and shouldn't be tried in the regular federal courts system. This is perpetuating the Bush administration's misguided detention policy," said Jonathan Hafetz, a national security attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

President Barack Obama hopes to reopen the military commissions, complete with “new rules,” within 90 days.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • Whatever. He’s much more cogent and persuasive that most conservative voices on BC. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with his analysis, but it’s as cogent an argument as I’ve heard yet.

    Perhaps the most forceful objection came from Irene – you may have to fish it out from among the cluster – and it had to do with “becoming endowed with power,” and therefore that something is lost in the process.

    As to substantiating Cheney’s claims that some vital information was made available under the circumstances, I think he more than echoes it in that he cites some additional sources on behalf of that contention.

    This, of course, IMO, is the weakest link – because the intelligence agencies may have a vested interest here in stretching the truth (to protect their arse).

    On the other hand, K’s remarks on Pelosi and other members of Congress as to their duplicity, are on-target.

  • Bliffle

    #76 – roger nowosielski

    “I believe that indirectly at least, Krauthammer substantiates Cheney’s claim.”

    I scanned K’s articles and saw no substantiation. I suspect they are just echoing.

    I intend to read K’s articles again and possibly Fisk them.

    Reading K, again after all these years, did not improve my notion of his unwisdom.

  • I’ll post this again. This is video interview and article.

    In the video you see Rove and Cheney trying to claim torture was an effective means of obtaining information.

    Anything that comes out of Cheney’s mouth regarding torture should be completely disregarded. Get your information about whether ice cream is fattening from someone other than the Good Humor man.

    CIA Inspector General documents say no evidence “enhanced interrogation” stopped an attack

    WASHINGTON — The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any “specific imminent attacks,” according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.

    That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of harsh interrogation tactics including waterboarding, which is widely considered torture, was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.

  • Bliffle,

    You can refer to Clavos’s Notre Dame’s thread, the second one, in connection with Charles Krauthammer’s two links (provided there).

    I believe that indirectly at least, Krauthammer substantiates Cheney’s claim.

  • Bliffle

    I didn’t hear Cheney state any facts, just his unsupported statement. We need verifiable evidence that the torture worked.

    Contrary-wise, an FBI agent reported that he was making progress with a prisoner and had recovered some good info when the CIA rudely shoved him aside in order to torture the prisoner. And the torture was counter-effective: the prisoner clammed up.

    So far, as near as I can see, all we have is Cheneys unsupported claim that torture produced good info.

    Has anyone corroborated Cheneys claim?

  • I hear you Stan, but sometimes it just feels like we’re sticking up for the rights of the wrongs folks…

  • STM

    Andy might not care what the rest of the world thinks about this, and about rule of law, but the truth is, it is hugely important – especially what America’s friends think on this issue.

    Especially if you want us to keep helping you.

    Even more important probably is what America’s enemies think.

    Why do you think all those hostage-takings and internet beheadings feature Americans and westerners wearing orange jump suits.

    It’s revenge for Gitmo, old boy.

    It’s just one more reason for them to hate us. Let’s not give them an excuse to accuse us of being hypocrites as well as infidels.

    They should keep the moral-low ground, and we should stick to the high.

  • It’s just an excuse, bliffle, for disavowing responsibility. We keep ’em in foreign prisons for no other reason than to create the impression that our hands are clean.

  • Bliffle

    I don’t see any good reason for not imprisoning convicted terrorists in US maximum security prisons. We already have a passel of terrorists and serial killers in those things, so the effectiveness of the prisons seems to be proven.

  • Yes, too antiseptic to my taste.

  • And lastly, for the record, IMO, this new format here at BC….it ain’t cuttin’ it!

  • And I thought all you foreigners loved our new president?

  • I think that’s where the confusion lies…they’re not prisoners of our judicial system, they’re prisoners of our military system. They weren’t arrested by the police, they were captured by the army.

    Our military laws cover pow’s not our civilian laws. But you folks whine about military tribunals too. So, there’s no making some people happy.

  • I see what happened. There was a temporary glitch during deletion.

  • Jordan’s long comment is on the previous page, timed at 0900…

  • When you get back.

    What I find interesting in that news item, Jordan, is the following:

    “Separately, a federal judge said the United States can continue to hold some prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely without any charges.”

  • Chris,

    There’s been a comment by Jordan (should have been #61), but then it was bumped off somehow once I posted. It still appears in the Fresh Comments section under the “More” heading. Is there a way of reinstating it? It was rather poignant.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Yep, it’s gone.

    I did find that news interesting, Roger. It seems to me that the primary reason for denying the funds appears to be that Obama simply has no clue what he’s going to do with the detainees yet (maybe he never will, it doesn’t seem like he can pawn them off on any state).

    And so it continues.

    Anyways, I’m off. It’d be nice if my comment came back, but maybe I swore too much or something. It’s cool.

  • For some reason, your long comment just disappeared.

  • Jordan,

    You might find this breaking news interesting.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Andy, I’m not talking about the prisoners at Gitmo getting any rights under your constitution. Who fucking cares about your constitution? Who mentioned it?

    I’m talking about giving them fair trials in your country under the rule of law. The world is watching and you guys can send a big giant “don’t fuck with us” message, but instead you idiots went after the wrong country, hung a guy that had dick all to do with it, and have been farting around there ever since with little to no justice delivered to the perps of that horrific day.

    They are, in fact, your prisoners not Cuba’s. Leaving them over there to rot isn’t offering them or those who perished in 9/11 any finality, closure, or justice. If Gitmo prisoners are guilty, try them and ship them to Texas for execution for all I care. It’s your problem, after all. This article sheds light on Obama and Bush’s tendency to avoid doing any actual legwork and providing any actual justice.

    Were someone to do something like this to Canada, I’d want justice.

    It amazes me that you consider American justice to be so casual that you’d rather just forget about them or let them escape Gitmo and go to Cuba than have trials in your actual courts and stays in your actual prisons. Fuck, Gitmo looks like it was created by Home Depot. Add to that the fact that the detainees were getting better health care than most of the rubes in America and you’ve really done nicely in giving the “terrorists” a rich set-up off the shores of the country they wronged with primo dental care and probably a pretty good collection of porn.

    If you want to continue to capitulate to your anger, go right ahead. I won’t stop you and I won’t try to reason with you. But you’ll have to forgive me for finding endless hours of amusement with the fact that, for all of your anger, you can’t for one second see that no justice is being served here for and nobody’s actually paying for the crimes on 9/11 except for you foolish Americans who continue to perpetuate a mythical “war on terror” and keep people in prisons while ignoring their deeds. The only time the terrorist acts do come up is when it’s time to manipulate the populace and drum up some good ol’ fashioned anger and/or fear. Is that really something that honours the memories of those in 9/11?

    And don’t come piss and yell at me for that, Andy. It’s not my fault your country dropped the ball and looks to be well prepared to continue to drop the ball with your next inept, clueless, corrupt president. It’s not my fault that justice for 9/11 is only being served in the form of symbolic political gestures and shoddy, well-stocked prisons. It’s not my fault your country has no problem cramming the jails full of some of the most diabolical and psychotic criminals on this god damn planet but can’t possibly fathom the idea of offering up a juicy cell next to Big Gay Nate for a sandal-wearing farmer with terrorist connections. And it’s not my fault that your justice system is too lazy, too corrupt, and too stupid to bother wanting to bring any of these guys to trial so that real justice can be served.

  • STM

    Andy, I’ve never heard of TB Bechtel. I’m going to google him now to see anyhow …

    Just did. Lol. What a classic.

    For those who haven’t:

    Bechtel is supposed to be an Aussie city councillor in Newcastle, a city not far from the one I live in.

    When asked on radio what he thought of torture methods at Gitmo, he reportedly answered: “Red is positive, black is negative and make sure his nuts are wet.”

    He does sound like an Australian (in fact he could easily be any one of a dozen of my mates), but I fear it’s one of those urban myths.

    I’m still giggling though.

    Nice to see you back Andy. Where ya bin?

  • Didn’t change it Clav, just didn’t completely fill it back in after being gone for so long.

    I understand where you’re coming from Stan. It’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling to say that we’re better than they are. Yeah, we are. Most of us learned a long time ago that religion isn’t worth killing over. Some of those terrorists at Gitmo were held for years and then when they were released they went back to Iraq and killed more Americans! I read a piece about a pol named T.B. Bechtel from OZ. I put it up on my blog. I was wondering if it was true Stan. Can you tell me?

    But I’ve said it before and I’ll let my arrogant American fingers type it again for all of you to read…..I don’t give a flying fuck on a rolling donut what the rest of the world thinks of us. Most of the rest of the world despises us even as they call us for help. Just be happy that my countrymen gave the rest of you the president you all wanted. They’ll be kicking themselves in the ass soon enough, if they’re not already. Can’t wait for all the right wing extremists coming home from the war to rise up in revolt!

    Jordan, all these things that you want for the poor terrorists, all the things that the worlds hero/messiah/the chosen one is doing wrong with them now, can all be traced back to that same argument, the argument that says that our constitution promises certain rights to these scumbags. But it doesn’t, it only promises those rights to us, the citizens of the United States. Fuck them, they don’t have any rights. They killed my friends and my family, they can rot in that godforsaken place that is Gitmo! Or better yet, let them cut a hole in the fence and enjoy some Cuban hospitality!

    I wonder how this piece would sound if those terrorists hadn’t crossed the border on September 10,2001 and instead attacked some nice big landmark in Canada. Are there any?

  • STM

    You’re actually wrong on AIG cannon.

    Had AIG gone under, it would have been the first domino going over and would have sent the world economy into freefall.

    A lot of Americans don’t realise that tt wasn’t just the US that had exposure to AIG, and the world economy in freefall would have been an absolute disaster for the US, mainly because none of this anymore is just about the US economy.

    The domino descrpition is apt because if you take one major player out of the equation, everything starts to go. It would be a case of spite my neighbour … to spite myself.

    The company’s exposure to toxic debt through credit derivatives brought it undone but unfortunately in the case of AIG, the damage was worldwide.

    It wouldn’t have been a blip but a global disaster.

    When you are talking “state corporatism”. it’s also worth understanding that every other major western player on the world stage, even down here in Oz, has had to prop up their economies with bailouts, bank/savings guarantees and stimulus packages.

    The UK has probably spent even more per capita doing this than the US, especially in regard to bailouts.

    Had everyone not, the picture you are seeing at the moment would be way worse than it is.

    It’s not anything about ideology in this case but a decision to move quickly – drawing partly on the lessons of the Great Depression, when nothing was done.

    What’s been done my not have been perfect, and I understand how unpopular TARP was in the US, but the concensus around the globe is that it’s been a million times better than not doing anything.

    We may just have averted the worst global crisis since WWII. Just …

  • Cannonshop

    State Corporatism is NOT free market Capitalism.

    In a Free Market, AIG would have failed a year ago, probably about the time that Bear Stearns went under, GM would have gone chapter 11 without interference and been allowed to either die, or re-organize to pay off its enormous debts. TARP (the fault of Bush, McCain and…Obama working together) would not have been created, There would have been a short, hard dip in the economy and we’d STILL be recovering-possibly faster, as the deadweight in boardrooms got shed and the unethical (censored,very bad word) running corporations into the ground and ripping off consumers AND investors got their Bonuses woodchipped.

    Pushing fantasies in “Green Energy” while cutting off domestic production hurts small, competitive players to the benefit of large, well-connected ones, same for many of the President’s OTHER initiatives-which is bad for a FREE market that is CAPITALIST instead of CORPORATIST.

    State Corporatism in Practice favours Monopolism. Monopolies are the ENEMY of the Free MARKET.

    Obama’s reversals wrt GitMo and the war are actually to be expected-like Johnson, he can use it in part to ‘stimulate’ enough economy to finance his socalist “New Society” inspired agenda and pay off his political backers, using the blood of young men who might otherwise be able to vote against his friends (Note how Virginia treated absentee ballots filed by military personnel during the last election.)

  • STM

    “The Constitution was written FOR the people of the United States, not the world.”

    Most of the stuff in it came from somewhere else. It all looks pretty familiar to me.

    Since the US has asked the rest of us in the English-speaking world to help, and we were the first to answer the call in solidarity because it’s not just the US being targeted by these idiots (88 of my countrymen murdered in Bali), perhaps we also have a right to express an opinion on this issue.

    Due process is a pillar of our legal systems. It should never be tinkered with.

    By cherry picking the bits of freedom and democracy we want to export to those less fortunate (even the bady guys), we undermine our own values.

    Doesn’t mean we can’t tear the bastards new arseholes and lock ’em up and throw away the key if they’re found guilty, but let’s do it according to RULE OF LAW – the giver and keeper of our freedoms.

    Some of those people held in Guantanamo have been held for up to seven years, then released because no one could find any evidence against them.

    How does that make us look in the eyes of the world?? Whether you believe it or not, that is part of the key to succeeding in this conflict.

    (Sorry for shouting 🙂

    I really hate terrorists and despise their methods (the mongrels killed my friend’s teenage daughter), but I’d like to remain on the high moral ground when dealing with them because the slope starts to get slippery around this point.

    There you go Andy, there’s the view from some of your friends and allies.

    And it’s as valid as the view of any American.

  • The Constitution was written FOR the people of the United States, not the world.

    Agree 100%. I would hate to subject the world to such a rigid, outmoded document.

    It talks about securing liberties for ourselves, not the rest of the world.

    Correct. Who exactly is suggesting the contrary? What is being suggested is that people are treated with basic human dignity and due process, not justice shams and unfair practices. That has nothing to do with your Constitution, as you rightly state.

  • Clavos

    Andy how come you (slightly) changed your moniker?

  • I keep hearing about these Supermax prisons and how we can keep the really bad terrorists there. I thought all the liberals thought our prisons were already to overcrowded and just to mean for real people, no matter how bad they are?

    I read in the paper the other day where some VA pol (Rep. Jim Moran)said that it was obvious that Virginians didn’t mind having terrorists trials in our state. He knew this because there had already been a few up in Fairfax or Alexandria. I wondered what the hell that had to do with what the people of a county wanted. I’ve never been asked who I wanted tried in my local courts. I never knew it was the people’s decision! I guess we have to go back to what I hear on Law & Order all the time…The “People” rest, your honor. Those must be “The People” that Jim Moran is talking about.

    I can’t find the original article, but there are a plenty of blogs against his suggestion. Jim Moran, or is it moron, wants them but Jim Webb said HELL NO!

    I think what you Obama lovers are missing is the fact that Obama never told you when or what change was gonna take place. The change you can all believe in is the fact that once he got in office, he changed! Now that’s “change you can believe in”!

    I bet he sits in that oval office of his and says over and over again, Man, this reality thing is a real bitch!

    And when you’re speaking of a living wage, are you talking about the Dan (Miller)living wage, the Unions’ version of a living wage, or is there some arbitrary number you’re looking for. Because what I can live on here in VA is a lot less than someone can live on just 250 miles up the road and more than it would take to live comfortable 250 miles down the road. What exactly is a living wage. Bernie Maddoff thinks he needs a lot more money to live on than I do. I’m sure the guy you all accuse of living in a gated compound (No offense Dave)has a higher version of a living wage than I do, so what exactly is a living wage?

    I also heard someone on TV bitching about the new pres making a suggestion that every person in this country do some kind of community service in order to qualify for national health care, like the peace corp or something. Of course this was a very bad idea from the person I heard spewing about it, it’s always so much better to give people something for nothing, they seem to appreciate it so much more.

    As far as I’m concerned, none of you should get something for nothing! I get a check every month from the govt and I get free health care for the rest of my life. You want it, send me an email and I’ll tell you how you can get free health care and a check from the govt for the rest of your life.

    The Constitution was written FOR the people of the United States, not the world. It talks about securing liberties for ourselves, not the rest of the world.

    And how dare any of you tell the rest of us what most Americans want. You think because Obama got elected you know what the rest of us want? You don’t have a clue! About a third of the population voted in the last election and only half of them voted for your guy, so you can’t possibly know what “MOST” Americans want. You ain’t most americans, you’re one american, stop putting words in the rest of our mouths.

  • ma r k

    Parenthetical Dan, all that I can say is: remember to remember that it all depends and you never can tell.

  • STM

    Thanks mate … left a reply for you. Cheers, much appreciated.

  • STM

    You too Jordo old boy … feel free to comment on my site … our thinking on this is similar. And we’re not even Yanks!

  • Well, I’m certain there are significant differences; but when I gave it a quick look, you’re discussion issues which are most germane to the Anglo-Saxon model of jurisprudence. My first impression was, it’s a very well balanced and thoughtful piece – kind of refreshing when compared to so much ideological bullshit that passes for thinking on this site.

    I wish you have it reprinted here, too, though it might be against the BC policy.

  • poloticians are as full of bullsh.t here as they are over there 🙂


  • STM

    Thanks Rog. Some of it won’t make sense to Americans as it’s about Aussie politics.

    But you know what, the more things are different, the more they stay the same … poloticians are as full of bullsh.t here as they are over there 🙂

    Feel free to leave a comment Rog. I’d welcome your opinion on this subject, as an American.

  • I thought the statement about Obama’s loyalties to capitalism and nationalism were fairly obvious, non-contentious issues. The statement was include merely to contextualize the idea that expecting something different, expecting change from Obama to any significant degree, is foolish.

    Both Dave’s alarmist tendencies towards each nudge the president makes and the left’s tendency to deify Obama are incorrect given the true context of his loyalties. Like all American presidents, he is loyal to nationalist and capitalist sentiments. It was not my intention to express that in a positive or negative way, but rather to suggest that it should not surprise us that he has operated in this fashion.

    He is no different from the rest and this article provides but one example of that.

  • Great picture, STM. Looks like some of your blogs are features in the papers. Great way to get exposure.

    Would you mind if I were to comment as well? But it’s have to be tomorrow. Want to read it and digest it first.

  • Well, we, too, had servants in Poland, from the peasant stock; but that was also a matter of class distinction – my father was a stage actor in the National Theater. I was just a kid; but even so, I remember having kind of ambivalent feelings about it.

  • STM

    Clav, if you’re around. Could you give my blog a comment (above) … I need the traffic 🙂

  • Clavos

    Careful, Dan(Miller), you’re going to be accused of being an “exploiter” and worse, now that you’ve told us how you maintain your lavish lifestyle by keeping a whole family in your slave quarters.

    Sorta like my parents did when I was a kid, and they paid the campesinas who worked for us the going wage then of room and board, plus the peso equivalent of $16 cash a month — most of them worked for us from when I was a baby until we left Mexico in my mid teens, and they cried when they were told we were leaving the country.

    The really exploitative wealthier Americans even brought their Mexican workers to the States with them when they came back.

    The horror!

  • STM

    See the silver surfer’s thoughts on this issue in detail … here.

    Yes, we do care about American politics in Australia. Especially something like this, which has been an issue in the past with a couple of Australians detained there.

    I don’t have sympathy for the detainees, but it’s a slippery slope.

    Who’s next in the US not to get due process?

    Perhaps non-citizens accused of a crime in the United States?

  • Bliffle, you say, in Comment #22, Maybe you think that living wages undermine the economic system. At least spell it out. I have no idea whether it would undermine the economic system because, as I noted previously, I simply do not know what it means. That’s the trouble with slogans.

    Does “living wage” mean,

    Enough for one person to “live,” i.e., to survive on a minimal level, perhaps in a cardboard shelter on the street, or

    Enough for one person to support a family of four, permitting them to “live,” i.e., to survive on that minimal level, or

    Enough for one person, or that person and his family, to have what are regarded in 21st Century North America as modest comforts — a building in which to live, with running water, toilet facilities, cooking facilities, electricity, etc., or

    Enough for one person, or that person and his family, to have something more than those modest comforts, e.g., air conditioning, an automobile, perhaps a two week vacation at the beach, or

    Enough for one person, or that person and his family, to have slightly more than those modest comforts, such as a maid to clean house and a cottage at the beach?

    Does it refer to the standard of living in the United States as a whole, or in different parts of the United States — having more comforts than 49.999999…% of the people but less than 49.99999…% of the people, or

    Does it refer to the average standard of living elsewhere? Is the “living wage” different in New York City than in West Sweet Jesus, Texas, and if so why and to what extent? This is not a frivolous question.

    Here in Panama, we have a full time worker to take care of our nine horses and of most everything else on our small farm of 13 acres. We pay him slightly more than the local minimum wage of $1.01 per hour. Under the labor laws, we also pay him something called decimo, one month’s additional wages divided into three segments, due three times each year. We also provide vacation pay, one month’s wages, at the end of the eleventh month of the year. Hence, he gets thirteen months wages per year for eleven months of work. Since he likes it here, he takes few or no vacation days, and we pay him for the month that he does not go away, at the same rate. Hence, he gets fourteen months wages for twelve months of work. We also pay on his behalf into the social security system which, unlike the system in the U.S., provides free health care for him and for his family while he is employed as well as after he retires. In addition, we provide a small house on our land for him and for his family, with two significant amenities he had never previously enjoyed — running water and electricity, for which we pay. He also raises enough vegetables and chickens for his family to eat. From what we pay, he has managed to buy a television set and a DVD player and to help his son finish school and be certified as a school teacher. We help a bit with that, and also with school uniforms and books for his two (soon to be three) children attending the local public school. We also employ a maid, whom we pay $5.00 for four hours of work per day, six days per week. We also give her vacation pay and decimo, although we are not required by law to do so.

    To people living in the U.S., these payments might well seem grossly inadequate as a “living wage.” That is not the case here, whatever the term might mean. Our full time worker has a standard of living better than his peers and a status (important here) as a manager, since he is known to be our farm boss and hires and supervises “peons” when there is more work than he can conveniently do himself. His wife is able to stay home and take care of their family; which is a good thing, because she has no marketable skills and barely speaks Spanish — she is fluent in her native Indian dialect, only.

    I mention these things simply to make the point that the term “living wage” is extremely ambiguous and, while it seems unlikely that anyone would oppose the concept, rational discussion requires a bit more specificity than is implicit in the term itself.

    I could make similar arguments about other slogan concepts — world peace, universal health care, etc. However, to those who accept very ambiguous and therefore essential meaningless slogans as universal truths regardless of whatever they might mean, it would not make much difference.


  • “A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.” Lysander Spooner

  • “Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage.”

    If you don’t AGREE with those goals, then argue against them, but pettifoggery over terms is silly.

    While most americans may want these things, or at least most want some of them and a signifcant number want others, there really is fundamental disagreement on how best to achieve these things and even on what adequate healthcare and a living wage are.

    There is also such a determined campaign to mislead the public and build up entirely unrealistic expectations about these issues and to manipulate them for the gain of special interests, that we really can’t trust most of those who advocate for them at all.


  • If Dave ran the world, all situations, including extreme crises, would be handled according to a rigid, inflexible set of ideological principles… based on a psychopathological model.

    (*does not have a conscience, unfit for human consumption, and even if it would result in what it claims, it would do so at the cost of sacrificing one’s humanity to implement–it makes people psychologically sick…ipso facto it should be discarded.)

  • Jordan made a very apt comment a while back: there’s only so much you can do trying to defend your country and keeping it secure. Ultimately, nothing is foolproof. And the more extreme measures we take to that end, it’s only going to be a reflection on us.

  • I totally agree, STM. What a f …ing example are we setting.

  • STM

    Due process Lite.

    What an absolute disgrace for America.

    Throwing down the toilet an instrument that has been enshrined in the Anglo-American legal tradition for 800 years.

    Due process became part of common law in England in 1215 at the signing of the Magna Carta, with the words “due process” adding more weight to that and entering the lexicon in the year 1354 in a statute of Edward III, The Liberty of Subject Act.

    The 1354 Act reads: “That no Man of what Estate or Condition that he be, shall be put out of Land or Tenement, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited, nor put to Death, without being brought in Answer by due Process of the Law.”

    It is enshrined in our shared legal tradition.

    It was regarded as so important by the founding fathers of thre US that if formed the basis of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which wrapped up some of the accepted due process requirements required as safeguards under for rule of law.

    Along with the writ of Habeas Corpus, with which it dovetails, it has served for those 800 years to act as a legal instrument designed to protect the rights of the individual against arbitrary abuses of power by the state.

    It is still in operation in Britain and all the Commonwealth countries, and the United States (except in this instance), and in all those countries is regarded as a cornerstone of law.

    If we are to continue fighting “the war on terror”, we should remember that we are also fighting for our values against people who want to destroy them.

    This is a classic example of the state shooting itself in the foot – in public.

    Simply, you can’t have due-process Lite and expect the rest of the world to believe that your real interest in fighting terrorism is in instituting rule of law, liberal democracy and personal freedoms when you are cherry picking the ones you’ll impose on others – even if they’re the bad guys.

    Obama needs to think again, and offer these people either PoW status and international protection, or the protections offered by the US criminal justice system.

    Doesn’t mean we treat them namby-pamby style. America can’t bang on about freedom (which comes from rule of law) and then throw those instruments that make it possible down the toilet when it suits.

    Most of those to be tried are criminals, pure and simple: mass murderers. They can do life in Supermax if found guilty.

    Suggesting that terrorists “don’t give us any rights” is a red herring. Doing it the proper way means WE retain our values.

    That is the only issue to be debated here.

  • Bliffle

    It’s a little known fact that Nancy Pelosi is personally responsible for 9/11 since she FAILED to jump up in August 2001 and tell C Rice do something about the CIA report that said OBL was determined to attack inside the USA!

    It’s all Pelosi’s fault. Except maybe for Barney Franks part of it.

  • Will said it this morning on George Stepanopoulos’s show. I’m sure it can be watched on ABC’s web site.

  • Bliffle

    “Obama is a state-corporatist but he is hostile to free market capitalism. It’s a vital distinction.”

    In what way is Obama hostile to free market capitalism?

    And what the heck is “free market Capitalism”?

    Capitalists struggle to dominate free markets and subject them to monopoly management, so you have a basic contradiction. Capitalists HATE free markets.

    It seems to me that Obama is a corporate statist who is devoted to propping up failing capitalist/monopoly enterprises with even more enthusiasm than his predecessors.

    Obama famously said “make me do it” during the campaign, and , sure enough, the corporate/capitalist/monpolist interests are making him do their will.

    Too bad for the entrepeneurs and employees who don’t have an inside track. To see an example of how they’ve been shut out, just look at the Senate Finance UHC hearings where the Single payer advocates were systematically shut out and even imprisoned when they tried to represent the opinion of the majority of Americans.


  • “there are many very dangerous people housed quite securely in federal Supermax prisons right now.”

    It’s interesting you’re saying that. Could you provide the link to George Will’s article?

  • And the lock-step-left reaction, typified by this article, toward the cautious moderation of Obama’s national security policies, is badly misguided — based on emotion rather than reason.

    The president is neither ‘betraying’ his principles or reverting to Bush doctrine. Using campaign-style rhetoric to respond to his policies just makes the left look shrill [and it may in fact increase Obama’s popularity with the public as a whole].

    It does bother me to hear idiots in Congress make NIMBY noises about putting terrorists into US prisons so that Guantanamo can be closed. As George Will pointed out today, there are many very dangerous people housed quite securely in federal Supermax prisons right now. There is no reason that prisoners from Guantanamo who are convicted can’t be imprisoned on US soil. Foolish demagoguery to suggest otherwise.

  • Welcome back, Handy. Long time no see.
    I do have a problem, however, with not enforcing antitrust legislation. He’s only saving the big guys – “too big to fail.” So what else is new and different other than “the tone”?

  • Obama’s ‘hostility’ toward free-market capitalism is an imaginary construct of the right.

    If Dave ran the world, all situations, including extreme crises, would be handled according to a rigid, inflexible set of ideological principles, i.e., Hands Off.

    You may agree or not with the president’s aggressive approach [some say not aggressive enough] to the banking, auto and housing industries. But caricaturing this as ‘hostility’ to capitalism is pernicious, foolish propaganda.

  • And since when, anyway, you’re being so trustful of the politicians seeing they’re all selling our country down the river?

  • I don’t think Pelosi did that, bliffle. But it does begin to look more and more that she, along with many others, has been complicit.

  • Bliffle

    Oh, get off it!

    You guys know perfectly well what this means:

    “Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage.”

    If you don’t AGREE with those goals, then argue against them, but pettifoggery over terms is silly.

    Maybe you have arguments against UHC. Let’s hear them.

    Maybe you don’t think education should be available to all. Tel us why.

    Maybe you think that living wages undermine the economic system. At least spell it out.

    But this hiding behind childish nitpicking is dragging the quality of BC down the tubes and making this a very easy site to avoid. Especially after the crappy format change that makes it torture (hmmm, do you suppose Pelosi agreed to this too?) to either read or contribute.

    I suppose it’s all Pelosi’s fault. After all, it now seems evident that Pelosi twisted the arms of Bush and Cheney and forced them to torture innocent foreigners whisked off US streets.

  • In other words, Dave, it’s socialism in disguise.

  • You make the common mistake in this article of confusing state-corporatism with capitalism. State-corporatism is a characteristic of socialist and fascist government and inherently inimical to true, entrepreneurial capitalism.

    Obama is a state-corporatist but he is hostile to free market capitalism. It’s a vital distinction.


  • Clavos

    “nudge, nudge”

  • m a rk


  • Clavos


  • m a rk

    I’m not sure what you mean by your slogan re the ‘shallow-minded’.

  • Clavos

    If you claim that the slogans convey no meaning to you…

    Most of them don’t, and are meaningful to (and are intended for) only the shallow-minded.

  • m a R k

    If you claim that the slogans convey no meaning to you, I’ll claim that you are merely playing and are full of shit.

  • Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage.

    …lacking precise definitions, but hardly meaningless

    I don’t see any definitions at all, precise or even ambiguous. Still, I’ll play the game: What does the collection of warm but fuzzy words mean? Perhaps some of them are icons for something? For what?

    It strikes me that President Obama now has substantial latitude to waffle because he used that sort of bumper sticker slogan to get elected. Many people liked his words but few grasped their real-life meanings; he did not explain what he actually had in mind beyond, of course, getting elected. And, boiled down to a bumper sticker slogan, that seems to be the thrust of the article.


  • Baronius

    “his loyalties lie with nationalist and capitalist interests”

    I can only hope so! However, none of the policies discussed in this article favor capitalism. They don’t even particularly support nationalism; they impede a few potential prosecutions. That’s it.

  • I’ll go with that. BTW, just finished the three-piece series – all posted now. So give me your feedback when you get to it. We may have to slug it out a bit over the good old Karl Marx.

  • m a r K

    How about ‘ambiguous’?

  • I agree; but even slogans have their purpose. Is vacuous a better term?

  • m a r K

    Calling the (admitted) slogan ‘meaningless’ is a bit too dismissive for me.

  • Sorry, Mark. I do tend to agree with Clavos on “the education” issue. It does come across as a slogan.

  • m a r k

    …lacking precise definitions, but hardly meaningless.

  • Clavos

    Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage. Whether we get these things remains to be seen…

    Great protest placard, but without definitions, meaningless.

    Example: “Education for all.” To what level? What course of study? To what end?

    What constitutes a “living wage?” How would you determine it? Should a “living wage” be the limit? Or can a physician earn more? What about those who don’t receive any wages, but are paid by commission or royalties?

  • m A r k

    Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage. Whether we get these things remains to be seen…

    Jeannie, we will need to work out a way to get these things other than through the (bought and paid for) federal government.

  • Jeannie Danna

    I am a fierce supporter of the Obama administration and am proud that America finally rid itself, if even just temporarily, of the Republican party. We want Obama to succeed! but the underlying powers in this country are too strong. I will never give up my personal effort to educate my fellow citizens or the world; the military industrial complex, the conservative top 1%, and corporate America are the reasons Obama is up against the wall. Most Americans want, national health care, education for all, and jobs that pay a living wage. Whether we get these things remains to be seen…

  • I’m afraid you’re right in your estimate, Jordan. My main concern is – beyond the issue of human rights – it doesn’t bide well for his “solutions” to the economic crisis. Just another case of putting lipstick on a pig.

  • Ruvy


    If I didn’t have so much contempt for this Chicago thief, this immigrant incompetent of a president, I call his reversals “statesmalike”. But, incompetent that he is, his twisting and turning like a snake in the wood only reveals his lack of competence – and how far fallen your neighbors to the south are in having to choose between him and a near senile idiot for president.

    O, Cry the Beloved Country!