Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Friday, July 30, 2010

alternatives would be worse, it is said

And you thought you'd $elected a real President instead of a butler for the Bu$h family.

Even the editors of the New York Pravda are beginning to wonder what exactly the One is thinking.

It is just a technical matter, the Obama administration says: We just need to make a slight change in a law to make clear that we have the right to see the names of anyone’s e-mail correspondents and their Web browsing history without the messy complication of asking a judge for permission...

After all the Feds wouldn't want to be a bother.

...These national security letters are the same vehicles that the Bush administration used after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to demand that libraries turn over the names of books that people had checked out. The F.B.I. used these letters hundreds of thousands of times to demand records of phone calls and other communications, and the Pentagon used them to get records from banks and consumer credit agencies. Internal investigations of both agencies found widespread misuse of the power, and little oversight into how it was wielded.

President Obama campaigned for office on an explicit promise to rein in these abuses. “There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties,” his campaign wrote in a 2008 position paper. “As president, Barack Obama would revisit the Patriot Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.”

Where is the “robust oversight” that voters were promised? Earlier this year, the administration successfully pushed for crucial provisions of the Patriot Act to be renewed for another year without changing a word. Voters had every right to expect the president would roll back authority that had been clearly abused, like national security letters. But instead of implementing reasonable civil liberties protections, like taking requests for e-mail surveillance before a judge, the administration is proposing changes to the law that would allow huge numbers of new electronic communications to be examined with no judicial oversight...

This fits quite well with a pattern.

We know that Barack Obama, in his heart of hearts, truly wants Real Change. We can tell this by examining the furrows of his brow as he squints meaningfully into the middle distance, by carefully measuring the sincerity-per-pixel count of his campaign posters, by reflecting on the inspirational Martin Luther King quotes he delicately intones before carpet-bombing an Afghan village. But we also know that despite his best efforts, Barack Obama can't achieve Real Change, confounded as he is by such institutional barriers as Congress and the Pentagon and Barack Obama. We know, for example, that Barack Obama wants nothing less than a sweeping overhaul of America's health care system, but has been hopelessly blocked at every turn by conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama. And we know that Barack Obama did everything he could to oppose a trillion-dollar no-strings-attached bailout of a corrupt finance industry, but was helpless to stop it, boosted as it was by notorious corporate whore Barack Obama. And we know that Nobel Laureate Barack Obama is a devout lover of peace, but has been powerless to prevent the American military's rampant bloodletting throughout the Muslim world, as the nation's armed forces remain in the hands of that bloodthirsty warmonger Barack Obama.

And we know that although Barack Obama is an idealist, representing the very best and brightest of American Liberalism, he's also a hard-nosed pragmatist, willing to compromise between extremes of Left and Right, between black and white, between war and more war. That's why when the Left wanted to close Guantanamo and the Right wanted to double Guantanamo, Obama doubled Bagram instead. That's why when the Left wanted to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million and the Right claimed global warming was an international Masonic conspiracy, Obama bombed a village in Pakistan. And that's why when the Left wanted universal health care and the Right wanted hundreds of billions of dollars for Wall Street, a capital gains tax cut and a domestic spending freeze, Obama gave them hundreds of billions of dollars for Wall Street, a capital gains tax cut and a domestic spending freeze.

And we know that as disappointed as we might be in Barack Obama - in his little failings, in his petty slights, in his odd betrayals, in his unseemly habit of dancing naked through the streets of Oslo smeared with the blood and entrails of Afghan children - we also know that the alternative would be far worse. Why, with a Republican president, we might be at war with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and possibly Iran, or facing some hideously draconian corporatist scheme to compel poor people to buy private insurance they can't afford, with a government that not only excuses the torture regimes of the past but dramatically expands them while giving itself license to murder anyone it likes anywhere on the planet. With Barack Obama, on the other hand, we have all that plus a man who can sparkle wittily on late night television. Now, I think that has to be worth at least a couple thousand dead Muslims, don't you?

But the Boss's family likes him, and $ervice is what it's all about.

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