Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama and FISA: Some thoughts from the Nation's "The Beat"

--You have to give some due to the public. We're nearly always ahead of the politicians and the business community on what needs to be fixed, changed, and deposed. This applies to economic policy, foreign policy, and most all of the rest. Frequently, we're wrong, but not nearly as wrong as the pundits and the politicians. In-keeping with this, politicians and Wall Street tend to move in the opposite direction on almost every issue dear to Americans.

Obama's recent, and brusque, shift to the right shouldn't be any surprise with this kind of a political context. America is a hard-right nation in a way that separates it from the rest of the developed world. Think about that when you hear someone on the radio using the terms "conservative," "liberal," "extremist," and all the other loaded catchphrases we're bombarded with daily by our corporate-owned media. What's extremist is the so-called "conventional wisdom" that most American voters disagree with.

Below are some comments from a poster at the Nation in-response to the issue of Obama's 180-degree turn on the FISA bill. This bill will grant the telecommunications companies legal immunity if they're asked by the President of the United States to break the law by illegally spying on all of us. Worse still, the bill will close the door on further investigations into the Bush administration's now-defunct NSA wiretapping program, an operation that violated the Fourth amendment to the Constitution by authorizing surveillance of American citizens without a warrant.

Senator Obama knows better, and he's making a very grave error that could cost him the election against presumptive GOP candidate John McCain, a politician who would most certainly abuse these new powers being granted to the executive branch. It's in the genetic-makeup of the Republican Party to do so...and the Democratic Party. In addition to granting wider, legalized surveillance powers, the Bush administration will be handed a free-pass by Congress on all of their misdeeds surrounding this issue.

The bill closes the door on any future recourse or investigations into the warrantless NSA program. We the people have a right to know out history if we're to remain a democracy. Instead, Senators Obama and McCain have decided to play a game of political calculus that's not likely to win them much support. Therefore, we presume that they're throwing in their lot with corporate American interests and unaccountable power. That's the same old politics in a new bottle.

"B Kool 66" wrote this on a thread addressing this issue at the Nation. "66" claims to be a veteran of the military, and his words were well-chosen.


That is the question.

Before you answer let's review some recent background.

Barack Obama sailed into June with the political wind at his back and riding the crest of a tidal wave of enthusiastic support, especially among his left wing progressive base who were convinced that Obama would --however cryptic he might often come off-- eventually deliver with a more or less progressive agenda. After all, isn't it rather obvious after Dubya that the time is ripe for a whole new agenda? What other change should we "believe in" if not a genuine change in direction?

We lined up eagerly with our money in hand to buy our tickets to the big race. Everyone knew that this was a moment for the history books. Big Brown was destined to go wire to wire, and we would all cash in our winnings and join the ticker tape parade to the sounds of triumphant music.

Only it didn't happen.

We were left standing with our losing tickets and tear streaked faces while the owners acted upset too. "Who is responsible for this travesty?", they said. It was the trainer, or the jockey, or perhaps the track conditions were not right.

Here is where the analogy must break down. In politics we all know that the game is so often rigged just like boxing and horse racing, but in this case I put the blame for our disappointment firmly with the horse. How could he so callously raise our hopes, and then so unceremoniously dash them as soon as the nomination was his?

This is the "old" politics we were promised would not be repeated.

And one of the ironies of the moment is that more disappointment has perhaps been raised in the so-called mainstream media then in our progressive media.

Philip Gailey, recently, in the St. Petersburg Times, "In ‘The Audacity of Hope,' Obama wrote: "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." Someone is going to be disappointed. He can't be everything to everyone. If that's his idea of a new kind of politics, maybe he should just stick to the old politics he is beginning to master."

Katrina vanden Heuvel said on Stephanopoulos (6/29, viewable online), "I'm shocked, shocked that Obama has turned to the center."


Or is this just a sarcastic remark ala Casablanca? I'm not quite sure, but I'll assume, for her sake, that she really meant it -after all, a sarcastic remark would be a slap in the face to Nation readers since The Nation endorsed Barack Obama. And if she is indeed shocked, then where is the appropriate anger to go along with it?

I, for one, am grateful that George Carlin decided to die right at the moment when his words are most needed --and I'm not referring to the ones that have been played on television of late:

"Forget the politicians, politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you.

They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations, they've long since bought and paid for the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they've got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They've got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. We know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else... but they don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard thirty fucking years ago....

The game is rigged, and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care, good honest hard working people, white collar, blue collar, doesn't matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard working people continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don't give a fuck about them. They don't give a fuck about you... at all...

And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care, that's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white, and blue dick being jammed up their assholes everyday.

Because the owners of this country know the truth - it's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

On June 3rd Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, and today, July 3rd, is the anniversary of the ending of the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Lincoln would deliver his Gettyburg Address in response and singlehandedly redefine what the nation stood for. "…Our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

This is the central tenet of the progressive movement, people. As Bill Moyers recently said at the Media Reform Conference, "Equality is the heart of Democracy."

In just one short month Barack Obama with his completely unecessary, but entirely calculated flip-flops –on NAFTA, FISA, campaign finance reform, the Israeli-Palestinian issue etc…-- has essentially declared war on the very causes he has thus far pretended to champion.

Obama appears to be just the latest act at Sea World. A black and white Orca performing incredible high flying tricks for his corporate masters.

We've been duped, folks. And it's up to us to resist the behavior that the masters have calculated we will exhibit. You see, they've got us pegged with their sophisticated statistical algorithms, and sealed in a prison of numerical calculations. As right winger Hugh Hewitt said on Stephanopoulos, "Progressives will ride the bus no matter how hard right it turns."

Will we, really?

If Obama is a Big Brown of disappointment, I challenge all of us to tap our inner Black Beauty.

It is up to us to show our corporate masters that we are not the emmasculated animals that they treat us as. Statistical calculations don't have the power to predict the impact of inspiration.

At a time that our nation is facing its darkest moment at least since the Civil War, we need to find the courage to shirk the reins that have been so carefully crafted for us.

If Barack Obama can't find it in himself to do the right thing and stand up for a progressive –and popular--agenda, then we need to do the right thing and vote for Ralph Nader.

Don't fear the election of John McCain, fear instead the machinery that would have us all in shackles with our noses buried in slop-filled troughs of fattening propaganda.

Should we vote for Obama?

As a former Marine First Sergeant of mine was fond of saying, "Not only no, but fuck no!"

Posted by b_kool_66 at 07/07/2008 @ 2:41pm

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