Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Obama and the Next 'Sellout'

As aforementioned, Senator Obama has shown himself for what he is--another DLC "centrist" Democrat, waiting to maintain our corporatist governing structure, while giving us generic speeches about "hope" and "change." Nevertheless, his bashing of black fathers and advocacy of offing pedos notwithstanding (which were new ventures for the Senator from Illinois [although he has always been pro-death penalty]), what was not so well known was the Senator's views on FISA.

To give a context, for the last several months, since the misnamed Protect America Act was under a sunset provision to expire in February 2008, the Democratic Congressional leadership began a negotiated "compromise" on a the FISA bill with the White House--basically, waiting for the opportune moment to let down the hammer that they are selling out yet again to the White House of what remains of our Constitutional rights (such is Nancy Pelosi's belief in "holding George Bush accountable"). Obama's "switch" is not a genuine switch. He has always, or at least for the last several months, supported the watered down bill that allows our federal government to spy on us without any legal oversight (including the confiscation and seizure of our property on the suspicion of being a "terrorist," without court order and with the onus of your terrorism being decided upon by a federal bureaucrat, instead of a judge trained in such onerous things like Constitutional law).

Not all Democrats have tried to out right-wing the Republicans. Senator Russ Feingold has been a consistent opponent and critic of this assault on over two centuries of law. Barack Obama is not one of those people (ironically, Hillary Clinton voted against the FISA bill). In fact, Senator Obama says of the FISA bill, "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..." Strangely, the same bill he thinks is so important is also, by his own admission, "imperfect," and a legislation he "wouldn't have drafted."

This is not a new position, by the way. He has supported this so-called compromise for at least the past five to six months. He just has not said much or anything about it. The spineless Democratic Congressional leadership smartly waited until after Obama wrapped up the nomination to have a vote taken, so the fallout would not effect the nomination process. As a result, the compromise will establish a kangaroo secret court to give a rubber stamp on what the White House has wanted all along--an unaccountable federal government that can spy on anyone it wants without limitation or judicial oversight (in other words, eliminating the protections in the Fourth Amendment). More importantly, the telecom industry can continue to hand over your information to the federal government without fear of litigation for participating in the destruction of what was your Constitutional rights.

To put this another way. Your rights as a citizen in this country to not be harassed by the federal government or your property seized by it without cause or warrant no longer exists. That part of our Bill of Rights (with the sanction of the three branches of our government) is now gone. If you are a member of a group that the FBI does not like, and this is the same organization that tried to engineer the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and continues to investigate pacifist and animal rights organizations as suspected "terrorist groups," you can have all of your electronic forms of communication stalked and any property relating to it stolen from you by that government and have no legal recourse whatsoever.

When the framers wrote the Constitution, they included these protections because the British would commonly have people arrested without charge under writs of assistance, held on no evidence on the charges they were finally jailed for, and spied on without mercy and protection. By the time of the revolution, just possessing any literature which was critical of King George could get you arrested and charged, and sweeping house searches were common. All of this was remembered--indeed, they were probably the greatest rights-violating contributors to the American Revolution--which is why the federal government cannot compel you to house troops (the Third Amendment [rarely invoked or used, thankfully]) and made certain to restrict the ability of the federal government to go into your residence without cause or a warrant (the Fourth Amendment). That has been the rule of law for over two hundred years. As I write this, that part of the Constitution (the Fourth Amendment, that is) is effectively dead with regards to federal law enforcement. The amendment is there, to be sure, but it is observed much in the same way as the rights of Japanese Americans were during World War Two.

Naturally, the right-wing is in a celebratory mood. They think it is wonderful to see the elimination of our Constitution (at least the part that does not give them the right to compensate for their penis size with a gun). It almost makes you forget when they wanted to shoot all of the ATF agents back in the 1990s. Or back when they opposed our military's bombing of their fellow white Christians in Serbia (I recall how politics made strange bedfellows when I opposed that war). Oh, how the times have changed.

Iraq and Iran: Barack's Next "Switch"

The next betrayal, if you want to call it one, for Senator Obama will almost certainly be on foreign policy. Why? Because he has not made foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign. He will not in his mind be sacrificing very much.

The switch will not be a real one, because the Senator has already used saber-rattling language on Iran, especially with regards to Israel and its "right" to attack Iran if it so desires. If the foreign policy mandarins are right and the US attacks Iran in October (conveniently, right before the elections), it is entirely possible to see Senator Obama supporting such an attack (since he has given the green light for the Israelis to do the same). That this will be a disaster for the US in the region, not the least in Iraq, which is of no consequence to the armchair bombardiers. However, it should be a concern to any person running for the office that will be deciding whether to attack Iran.

The Iraq War has, up to this point, been muted in the Obama campaign. This has been by far my greatest disappointment in his candidacy, because his view on the Iraq War was basically my only link or sympathy to him (as he was an early opponent and critic of the war). During the primaries, Senator Obama chose the route of PR speeches to snooker voters into thinking he was something different from the rest of the field. The Iraq War was rarely mentioned, except in some of the early primary debates.

Worse, Senator Obama has recently declared his intent to "survey" our troops and position in Iraq (answering Senator McCain's challenge for Obama to go to Iraq). What will come from that visit cannot be known for certain, but the fact he has not commented or campaigned on the one issue that would have garnered support from anyone left of Al From hardly inspires confidence. It would not surprise me to see the Senator come back from any visit and deliver a speech in support of the maintenance of US troops in Iraq, while delivering the typical critiques of the war effort (usually couched in language of "not getting the job done," when the fact your are in someone else's country should be the focus of opposition). If Senator Obama sincerely opposed the war before going to Iraq, he would have made it one of the primary issues of his campaign, particularly since the war in Iraq has been, in my view, one of the greatest foreign policy disasters in the history of this republic and likely will portend the future fade of our status as a great power state.

By not making the Iraq War a campaign issue sets the table for a policy "enhancement." Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Does anyone honestly believe the person who thinks our government should kill child molesters and spy on our citizenry without oversight is going to take Dennis Kucinich's position on Iraq?

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