Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

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Obama’s ‘State Secrets’ a Bigger Threat to Our Free Society than Health Care Ever Will

09.26.10

Those in the Tea Parties like to rally against government getting too big and usually cite the bank bailouts, the stimulus package, and the health care reform as tell-tale signs that Obama and the Democrats are leading us into socialism.

It seems that the size of government, regardless of what those programs intend to do or why they were enacted in the first place, trumps the content of the policy.  It’s a simple numbers game for them.  In their mind, the government has peaked that curve that tips us from capitalism into socialism in their own view of the world and that’s that.

But what about the real issue of government getting too big: the deprivation of American civil liberties. And it’s already been happening.  First under Bush with the warrantless wiretapping and torture of terror suspects and now with Obama’s declared execution of an American citizen without any formal charges or due process:

Obama’s now asserting a power so radical — the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts — that it’s “too harsh even for” one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation.  But that power is certainly not “too harsh” for the kind-hearted Constitutional Scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified.

What’s a more egregious act of a too-powerful government: making everyone have health insurance or the ability for the president to kill Americans with total impunity?  Why aren’t more people on all sides of the political divide beyond outraged at this?!

Is it because Anwar Awlaki – an American citizen – is an alleged (not even accused, because there haven’t been formal charges even) terrorist and traitor?  Unfortunately it seems that a large swath of Americans – including most, if not all, of the GOP – feel that once someone is deemed a terror suspect, they lose all human rights — as evidenced by the support of torture, rendition, and imprisonment for indefinite amounts of time without trial, even for American citizens.

How anyone could be in favor of smaller, less intrusive government yet support any of these powers that the President has given to the executive branch lacks any and all intellectual honesty.  It’s downright baffling and oxymoronic.

It must be problematic for those on the right because their fostered hatred for all things Islam has them believing that all Muslims are “the other,” they’re not truly American – even if they are U.S. citizens – which lets them be okay with this because, after all, it’s not like Obama is attempting to assassinate Bubba Joe Thompson from South Carolina or something.  It’s Anwar Awlaki from New Mexico.  With a name like that and the government saying that he’s a terrorist, well, that’s all the evidence I need!

Sigh.

It’s all good when the President is using those extra-constitutional powers to get the bad guys when the bad guys aren’t you.  But what happens when some radical in your social, ethnic, or religious group ends up doing something awful and all of a sudden you’re lumped in with them and targeted by the government?  What then?  By then it’ll be too far gone to stop.

This is why it’s so dangerous to conflate Islamic, murderous radicals with all Muslims, of which they constitute a tiny minority.  We get these knee-jerk reactions that toss away our civil liberties that we fought so hard to gain centuries ago, all under the guise of security and safety and protecting the American way of life.

Unfortunately, it seems that by having Obama – who was elected to clean up government and end these atrocious violations of the Constitution – continue and expand them, it may be too late to change already.

Photo courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele.

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Americans Not Just Forgetful; Much Worse

01.20.10

Glenn Greenwald reiterates exactly what I wrote about in my last post:

All that said, and as horrible as the Democrats have been all year, the most amazing — and depressing — aspect of all of this is how Americans have so quickly forgotten how thoroughly the Republicans, during their eight-year reign, destroyed the country.  Whatever the source of our national woes are, re-empowering that faction cannot possibly be the answer to anything.

His emphasis.

It’s not just that Americans have no memory of the Bush era: it’s that they’ve completely bought the story the Republicans are selling that blames Obama – who has been on the job for 365 days – and the Democrats for every single problem America faces today, which is not up for debate as a matter of partisan opinion.  The Republicans are dishing out revisionist history on a platter and Americans are eating it up without even bothering to ask what’s in it.

It’s not just forgetfulness; it’s a total lack of rational thought.

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“Enhanced Interrogation”

04.17.09

george-w-bush-picture

Andrew Sullivan:

[George W. Bush] was either therefore a fantastic liar on one of the gravest matters imaginable or so psychologically compartmentalized and prone to rigid denial of reality and so unversed in history, law and morality that he had no reason being president.

If you haven’t read about the release of the Bybee memos regarding the use of torture authorized by Bush/Cheney and “legalized” by their team of attorneys who took oaths to uphold the law, you owe it to yourself to check them out.  You can read Andrew Sullivan’s continued discussion on his blog.

Remember that Clinton was impeached because he lied about having a personal, extramarital affair.  Bush endorsed the torture of prisoners-of-war while condemning the horrors of Abu Ghraib prison.  For all of those who are screaming bloody murder about how Obama is taking America into a social-fascist state, open your eyes.  Administering torture techniques used by Stalin, the Gestapo, and the Khmer Rouge is fascism.  Taxing Americans at the same rate they were 10 years ago is not.  It’s depressing and shameful that people have the energy, time and audacity to protest the American president on Tax Day simply because they are greedy and whiny when true atrocities are happening and have been happening under the previous administration’s watch.  Funny how those same people voted for Bush and McCain – essentially endorsing torture methods that really are the strongest attack on civil liberties imaginable – yet now claim that Obama is the socialist.  It would be funny if people weren’t so stubborn in their beliefs.

This isn’t some good news.  This doesn’t make someone like me – who was staunchly opposed to Bush – happy.  I’m not glad to see proof that he truly was as awful as I thought he was.  I’m not sure what was his bigger downfall: believing that he really was ordained by God to be president, or his sheer, utter stupidity.  I suppose one begat the other.

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This Is Not Socialism

04.04.09

While bored, I ended up jumping around friends’ Facebook walls and read posts from random people that I may or may not have ever met.  The Six Degrees of Facebook, essentially.  On one wall I found a post that read as follows:

yeah, i agree, i am not against Obama, but i disagree with the philosphy that the stimulus package and more government spending is the right solution. and i don’t think pelosi and reid did him any favors by locking out the republicans when they created the bill and then expected support for it. but it is what it is – moving towards national healthcare run by the government and nationalization of banks is socialism.

This person has every right to disagree with Obama’s politics.  But the final remark is incorrect.  A country can have social programs without being a socialist state.  No one was screaming socialism when Bush was in office, yet he was the one whose spending was completely out of control to the point where the administration claimed that deficits don’t matter.  We’ve also had social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for decades, yet again, the Republicans weren’t screaming socialism 6 months ago.  In fact, Bush spent a TON of money on Medicare just before he left office.  Finally, Bush was the one who started the whole “nationalization” of banks with the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG bailouts.  Again, no calls of socialism, yet these were all characteristics of socialist policy.

Obama does have a plan for health care reform and so did all of the other presidential candidates.  Only Clinton’s even came close to being universal coverage.  I am not sure that Obama’s plan of forcing employers to provide health care really is the answer at all, but I do know that it’s not national healthcare nor socialism.

I am not an economist.  I’m not even an political scientist by degree.  I have no idea what the best course of action is with regards to the banking system.  In my gut I would rather them fail than the Big Three.  I also would rather the president didn’t tell the GM CEO to step down – but that’s what happens when the government essentially owns part of the company.  I can see this being a dangerous state of affairs but I also don’t see it as socialism.  If you ask for the government’s help, then you should be held accountable to their stipulations.  If you don’t want the help, then let capitalism do its thing and GM would most likely be going through bankruptcy right now.  Which they still could be doing soon.  Either way, it wasn’t a hostile takeover by the government like what happened in Venezula.  Far from it.

Regardless of how it all turns out, we are not living under socialism, we are not heading toward socialism, and having social programs when you’re one of the wealthiest and strongest countries in the world is not socialism.  It’s part of what makes us one of the best nations on the planet.

(P.S. I don’t know the protocol for the content of a random Facebook wall posting.  I don’t want to credit the writer because I would like for him/her to remain anonymous.  It’s nothing personal and if he/she so chooses to want credit for said quote, I’ll be happy to attribute accordingly.)
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I’m 17 and I Can (Finally) Get Plan B

03.23.09

Another Bush fallacy gets righted.

I didn’t realize how long the fight had been going on with getting Plan B – also known as the morning-after pill – approved for being an over-the-counter medicine.  I guess trying to get something logical pushed through the bureaucracy of Bush’s Administration would take both him leaving office and nearly a decade’s worth of fighting.

Still, the FDA’s Advisory Committee voted 23 to 4 in 2003 to approve Plan B for over-the-counter status without age restrictions. Yet the Plan B request of the only one of nearly two dozen applications to move a prescription drug to over-the-counter status that was not approved after the committee recommended it.

The judge said top FDA officials at a meeting in late 2003 or early 2004 told their subordinates that over-the-counter status for Plan B would not be approved at that time and that it was a decision that would be made at a higher level in the FDA than those decisions are usually made.

Isn’t that committee set up with experts who could reasonably decide the fate of any strength of medicine?  Why would this particular medicine need a level of approval higher than normal?

Oh wait.  This is why.

“Moreover, they were told that the White House had been involved in the decision on Plan B,” he said.

Like so many other things, Bush overrided the FDA committee in order to push through his own far-right, socially-religious, political agenda.  Who needs branches of government and checks and balances when you already know what’s best for the country?

Thankfully, someone realized the absurdity of all of this.

As of today, thanks to a federal judge, 17 year old girls can now purchase the Plan B pill over the counter without a prescription.  Naturally, the opposition cries out that this is just another form of abortion.  Chris Gasek, a regulation expert with the conservative Family Research Council, went even further to suggest that “[t]here is a real danger that Plan B may be given to women, especially sexually abused women and minors, under coercion or without their consent.”

Wouldn’t the real danger then be the sociopaths who coerce and sexually abuse the young women, not a pill designed to help limit the number of abortions?  Maybe the Family Research Council should focus on preventing such heinous acts instead of wasting their time with this pompous and futile refutal aimed at simply riling up the religious right with rhetoric instead of actually helping anyone or accomplishing anything.

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Faith-Based and Government? Of course!

02.05.09

I lied in my previous post.  I had to make a quick remark on this article.

President Obama will be revamping President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.  I still am having trouble figuring out just why our federal government needs any such office, no matter how revamped it gets.

President Obama said that the office:

“[will not] favor one religious group over another — or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.”

So, basically it’s an office that helps provide social services to those in need, such as international HIV/AIDS efforts, job training to low-income workers, and helping released convicts get back into society.  That I can get behind.

And now that Obama is making sure that people aren’t discriminated against based on their religious background during hiring, it seems that the only thing faith-based about the office is the name.

Well done.  Another Bush blunder effectively reversed.

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Obama’s “Struggle” More Than Just Semantics

02.01.09

You can say the same thing in dozens of ways.  That’s one of the perks of language.  The English language particularly.  How you say something, though, can drastically change the meaning, even if on the surface, it’s saying the same thing.

However, Obama isn’t just saying the same thing in a different way by dropping the Bushism “War on Terror.”  He’s completely changing the message:

President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the “enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” Another time it was an “ongoing struggle.”

He has pledged to “go after” extremists and “win this fight.” There even was an oblique reference to a “twilight struggle” as the U.S. relentlessly pursues those who threaten the country.

Does it really make a difference other than just trying to separate and distance himself from his unpopular predecessor?  Absolutely.

Because it shows a change in philosophy, a different approach to the same conflict, one that doesn’t live in ultimatums and absolutes but allows for a spectrum of responses and possibilities.  A struggle doesn’t implicitly pronounce one side to be good and the other evil.  It allows for the option that it’s not nearly as cut and dried as that.  A struggle can be resolved, where as a war can only be won or lost.  It takes the importance off of America’s ego and need to be the victors and instead lets us be the one who helps solve the global plague of terrorism and extremism.