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Okay, I can’t figure out how to make my blog go completely dark, so this is going to have to do for now. Stop SOPA/PIPA! Fuck censorship!


Take this conversation that I just overheard in a McDonald’s off I-80:

Redneck A: I’m telling you, if we wanna solve the problems in the Middle East, we gotta go into places like Eye-ran and Afghaineestan and start educatin’ the wimminfolk!

Redneck B: We’re already doin’ that.

Redneck A: Yeah, but we’re only doing it this much [holds fingers about an inch apart], and we gotta be doin’ it this much [holds hands apart at arm’s length].

Redneck B: You got that right.

Yes, Redneck A really pronounced Iran and Afghanistan like that, and he really said educatin’ and wimminfolk.

That’s not the point.

The point is, here are two rednecks of apparently no prior acquaintance, discussing the Middle East loudly in an interstate rest stop, and they have keyed in on the lack of education of women in that part of the world as being part of the problem there.

Sadly, I have no idea what they were talking about prior to the snippet above, because I have a regionalist tendency to block out redneck accents when they start talking politics, on the unfair assumption that I’m not going to like what they have to say. A tendency that it all the more unfair when one considers I grew up in a Republican stronghold in Southern California, where people who pronounce words the same way I do still say all sorts of things I disagree with.

What can I say? I’m working on it. This conversation was a great reminder that I can hear useful things from all sorts of sources.

I know the odds of either Redneck A or Redneck B ever reading this are miniscule, but wherever you are, guys, I’m going to have a smile on my face all day because of you.

-jane


Apparently, if you let one administration off the hook for war crimes and for violating our constitution and laws, the next guy to occupy the White House gets to thinking that it’s okay to issue an assassination order against an American citizen.

Hey, it’s not as bad as lying us into a war, right? Or torturing people to force false intel out of them to support a personal vendetta against Iraq. Or killing thousands of Iraqis or Afghanis or Pakistanis (and we’re not even at war with Pakistan!)…It’s just one guy. One American guy.

Apparently, Obama has gotten the impression that presidential performance is graded on a curve, and that as long as he does better than the previous guy, he’s cool.

Except that’s not the way it works. Or at least, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work…

For those who don’t obsessively follow the news but somehow do follow this blog (probably a null set, I will concede), the New York Times reported today:

The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

The article goes on to remind us that al-Awlaki has been linked to both Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman in the Fort Hood shooting last year, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the famed “underwear bomber” from last Christmas. Clearly, from an American perspective this dude is not on the side of the angels (speaking metaphorically, because hey, buddhist here). He may even be guilty of treason.

Does that mean it’s okay for an American president to order his assassination?

Hell no.

Let me remind you, no matter what activities this guy is guilty of, he is an American citizen. Like all of us, he should be held accountable for his crimes. I am not arguing against accountability.

What I am doing is arguing in favor of the rule of law. Remember, that concept – that fundamental principle of our system of government – that Obama campaigned on returning us to?

In taking this action, the Obama administration has started us down a very dangerous slippery slope. If we’re allowed to assassinate Americans overseas for engaging in terrorist activities, why not assassinate them domestically, as well? So much neater than actually trying and convicting them, after all. No chance they will be released because the prosecution dropped the ball.

But then, why stop there? Why not go after anyone who encourages others to rebel against the government? Again, if someone is truly inciting others to violence, we can lock them up (something Glenn Beck would do well to remember, as some of his rhetoric seems to be skating closer to the Brandenburg standard by the day). But they might beat the charge. A bullet or two would solve that problem right quick.

Sure, we might fuck up occasionally, and kill someone who didn’t deserve it, but it’s all to keep the country safe, right? Just call the innocent victims collateral damage and move on.

What led the Obama administration to believe it could get away with deciding to act to deprive this al-Awlaki character of life without due process of law?

I would argue that it is Congress’s failure, during and since the Bush administration, to rein in the power of the executive branch of government and reassert itself as a check on the authority of the president.

If our national political system were working the way it ought to, Bush and/or Cheney would have had to face the consequences of their various illegal and unconstitutional acts. At a minimum, following the last election, Congress would have imposed new constraints on the executive, or at least increased its oversight activities.

It’s what happened after we got rid of Nixon. It’s what should have happened in 2008. Actually, it should have happened by sometime in 2002 or 2004, but no use crying over spilled milk…

But a curious thing happened in 2008: voters were so fed up with the Republicans after eight years of Bush malfeasance and misfeasance that they voted in powerful Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the White House.

As a result, Congress apparently perceived very little need to rein in the executive branch. They were all on the same side, after all…the side of the angels (there they are again)…right?

Riiiiiiight…

It is a simple fact of political power dynamics that almost no one in a position of power will voluntarily relinquish that power to another official or branch of government unless forced to do so. Why would they? Even if they don’t intend to use the power to do some specific act (say, torture detainees, or hold them without trial) right now, well, there’s no telling whether circumstances might arise in the future where they would want to be able to do so.

Which is why we haven’t seen some changes that we were promised when we voted for Obama.

Remember habeas corpus? Yeah, I don’t either. Seems like we should have gotten that back by now, though, doesn’t it?

How about basic privacy protections? Like being able to trade e-mails or IMs or texts without thinking about how some computer was storing the information just in case someone got it into his head to use that information to build a federal case against you. Or maybe sell it to the tabloids. Whatever.

Remember how President Obama talked about Due Process back when he was candidate Obama? I miss that.

I could go on. And on. About the powers that Bush 43 grabbed that Obama hasn’t relinquished. About how wrong it is for our government to be targeting American citizens for assassination, no matter what those individuals are accused of doing. About what a freaking disappointment Obama is for progressives (no matter how much the Republicans may scream “Socialist!” about the man).

I could. But as usual, Glenn Greenwald has done a much better job than I could of explaining just how fucked up the whole thing is. Spencer Ackerman has some good thoughts on the subject, too.

Seems like this would be a good time to flood the White House e-mail servers with messages expressing concern about this change in policy.

We need to remind the Obama administration that if Congress won’t hold him accountable, we will. That we voted for him based on certain claims about what he would do if and when he was elected, and we can vote him out if he doesn’t at least try to live up to the hype. That he works for us, and has a duty to uphold the laws and constitution. And not some convoluted John Yoo interpretation of same, but an interpretation that would likely persuade a few Supreme Court Justices if it ever came down to that.

Speak up. Speak out. Do something.

jane doe


Okay, credit on this one goes to, I’m guessing, a Rosie O’Donnell reader. At any rate, this is posted on her site, and the context suggests that it came from one of her readers. I don’t ordinarily do reposts in this space, but in this case, I’m making an exception — if nothing else, maybe my mom will see the source and give it some serious consideration instead of dismissing it out of hand because I said it:

We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, Now you get mad!?

You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.

You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.

You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.  Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans…oh hell no!


If you’ve been watching Glenn Beck much lately – something I generally try to avoid, but I inevitably see clips on Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and/or just about every blog on the liberal side of the blogosphere – you know that the man has been bandying about terms like “Nazi” and “fascist” and “Hitler” pretty freely in connection with progressives generally and President Obama in particular.

Not that President Obama is particularly progressive, but that’s another rant for another time.

Anyway, Beck has been engaged in a lot of ranting and raving and name calling, including some odd combos like “communist fascists,” which apparently is what happens when someone moves so far to the left end of the political spectrum that they end up back around at the extreme end of the right side of the spectrum.

Apparently no one’s ever explained Godwin’s Law to Mr. Beck.

Now, just yesterday, I ran across the following photo from the Washington Post (h/t @chrislhayes, link takes you to the original photo in context):

Glen Beck addressing the crowd at CPAC in February 2010

THIS guy likes to bandy about Hitler comparisons?

I ask you, who does this photo remind you of?

Here’s a hint. Change the flag behind him with another historical flag. One from, say, Germany. Late 1930s – mid 1940s era.

Seriously, dude. Glass houses. Pot. Kettle.

Mind, I’m not calling Glenn Beck a Nazi. Because, hey, I am familiar with Godwin’s Law.*

I’m just saying that, well, if there was a photo of me looking like this floating around on teh internets, I’d really want to avoid mentioning the H-word. Or the F-word. Um, fascist, that is, not the other F-word (which I manifestly have no problem with using when the occasion seems to call for it).

Just a thought.

jane doe

* I will concede that there comes a point where the comparison to fascism as a system of government may be appropriate, despite the emotional valence of the term. I drafted a couple of posts for this blog during the Bush administration where I speculated about where we as a nation were along the slippery slope leading to fascism, though I don’t remember if I actually posted any of them. I was not alone in speculating about this – see for instance Joe Conason’s It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush.


So, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino — you remember her, right? Bush administration Kool-Aid junkie? Well, I guess she’s forgotten all about 9/11. Because she was on Fox News recently, distressed that they weren’t calling the Ft. Hood shooting a terrorist attack, and she actually said that there were no terrorist attacks during the Bush administration.

I know. Mind boggling.

Amazingly, it appears her amnesia is some new contagious type, because Sean Hannity doesn’t bother to correct her assertion that “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” Guess he forgot about 9/11, too.

Sad, very sad. I hope they get help for that. I wonder what kind of health insurance they have?

On a completely unrelated note, sorry I haven’t been around lately. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, and that’s taking a lot of my time. I’m probably going to do some posts in the near future, though.

Next week. After NaNoWriMo ends.

jane doe


Okay, first let me say that I generally like Obama, though there are plenty of points where he and I disagree on things. Still, I did vote for the man, and I think he is lightyears better than the asshole who was squatting in the White House until January 20th of this year.

Nevertheless, I had one of those “spray coffee all over the computer monitor” moments a couple minutes ago when I saw the headline that Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I seriously had to double check my facebook feed to see if it was a headline from the Onion. Then I had to visit three other news sites, because I was afraid I had gone to sleep in October and woken up on April Fools’ Day.

Okay, I get that the man is popular. And yeah, he’s a damn sight better than the Shrub was.

But seriously, the man has been in office for ten months. Actually, eleven days shy of that. He hasn’t even managed to close Gitmo yet, and they’re awarding him the Peace Prize? Is the Nobel Committee smoking something illegal? And if so, where can I get some, because it must be some seriously good shit to make them completely take leave of their senses like this.

I can come up with only one theory that makes any sense at all, and it is this: the Nobel Committee is not so much rewarding Obama’s efforts as collectively mooning George W. Bush.

And while Bush no doubt deserves a good collective mooning, preferably with him viewing it from a jail cell where he will spend the rest of his life for his crimes against our nation, the Constitution, and humanity, I’m not convinced that it warrants giving what is to my mind the most prestigious award in the world to his successor after a mere ten months in office.

Because seriously, what are they going to do for an encore if and when the man truly accomplishes something deserving of such recognition?

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize deserves recognition, whatever the circumstances, however, and so I will say this:

Congratulations, President Obama. I just hope you eventually accomplish enough to be worthy of it.

jane doe

Follow up: I wanted to say that I very much liked President Obama’s remarks on the subject of the Nobel Peace Prize earlier today. From the Huffington Post:

Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that he wasn’t sure he had done enough to earn the award, or deserved to be in the company of the “transformative figures” who had won it before him.

But, he said, “I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century.”

And:

“I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee,” Obama said.

“Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

I like his perspective on this. And it’s less cynical than my characterization of the award as a “collective mooning” of the Shrub.

I do think it’s really a “Welcome back, America, we’ve missed you” message from the rest of the world.

But then again, is that such a bad thing?

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