Prop 8: Bigotry Wins in California

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Voters have approved prop 8, writing discrimination into the California state constitution.

Their jubilation comes at the expense of people they denied the right to marriage by successfully hiding behind the veil of religious freedom and appealing to people’s worst instincts.

The thing to remember is that their victory will be short lived.  There will be another proposition to overturn prop 8 as surely as there is a will to victory emboldened by Obama’s historic win and call to service.

Younger generations by far favor equality, not bigotry.  If not in 2 years then in 4.  If not in 4 years then in 6.  To those of good heart in California take heart: This is a battle we will win!

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Buyer’s Remorse on McCain

As the race tightens, Alexander Mooney over at CNN Political Ticker speculates voters who have not yet voted may be experiencing a kind of buyers remorse:

“It’s possible that McCain will continue to close the gap over the final few days of the campaign,” said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “Presidential elections often tighten up at the end, especially if there’s not an incumbent on the ballot. Voters sometimes experience a degree of ‘buyer’s remorse’ before settling on a new president.”

That doesn’t sound like buyer’s remorse to me.  It sounds like undecided voters still swinging.

Now this on the other hand (via Jesse Taylor at Pandagon), sounds like real buyer’s remorse (Iowa State Daily):

Elborno said even McCain supporters were among those being asked to leave.

“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said. “They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.”

Do Republicans who support the attacks on our constitutional rights cry when those same policies come back to bite them in the ass?  Do they experience shock, or buyer’s remorse?  I wonder if it is the latter.

Who do you know who buys a crappy used car from a shady dealership, and after going into debt trying to fix it (and getting hurt when the airbags failed to deploy) goes back to the same damn dealer for an older model?

The Second Ammendment: Revolution

The second ammendment clearly protects the right to have an armed militia, and not individual rights as its been successfully perverted over the years (wiki):

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Because let’s face it, its poorly written.  Its essentially conflating “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” with “a well regulated Militia”.  Oops.

But they’ve come to be interpreted as separate, and I’d like to deal with the rational behind the NRA and other gun-toting groups out there.  Why should we have the right to bear arms?

The first reason that pops off the top of my head is Self Defense.  This isn’t that shabby an argument.  Take an etnertaining stroll down the posts at the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog.  Between scaring off robberies, vigilanteism occasionally resulting in murder, and entirely accidental shootings, it doesn’t make too clear a case in either direction on its own.  But let’s not suppose people guilty before proven innocent, and allow that at least some civilians use guns legitimately as self defense.  That’s not what interests me.

What has me thinking is the idea that our right to bear arms affords us some protection, any protection, against a tyrannical state.

If the United States Government began rounding up “problem reporters“, anarchists, and known peace demonstrators, would you expect:

  1. People would be outraged.
  2. There would be direct action, including massive street protests.
  3. Politicians would take meaningful actions to free the political prisoners and stand up to the government.
  4. There would be armed resistance.

If you answered anything more direct than 1, I think you’d better prepare to be dissapointed.  First of all, its doubtful the arrests would even be covered.  They wouldn’t be directly censored, just ignored.  Most people would never know.  The ones who did, while angry, would they risk arrest themselves to protest?

I think its clear off the bat that however much faith we put in our politicians of choice, 3 is not a realistic possibility.

Which leaves 4, and I ask you.  Even if we throw away the idealism and strategic pragmatism of non-violent resistance, does anyone honestly think there’d be a lick of a chance against a government so much more powerful than its citizens?

This is why when I hear arguments about the second ammendment being necessary to protect against a fascist government I can’t help but laugh.  By the time we’ve gotten that far it will already be too late.

But that begs the important question.  If tomorrow the US went into lockdown, would business change for anyone not directly affected?  Would enough power (people or political) put itself at risk to fight back?  And if not, if this challenge to our liberty is left unmet, what the hell is stopping the government from doing this whenever they want?

And what the hell is wrong with me, when even mentioning armed resistance (despite my opposition to violence as a political means) makes me nervous?

The Republican Police State is Here

The Police, in riot gear and carrying semi automatic weapons, raided houses on a purely political basis.  This was done at the behest of the federal government.

They blamed “anarchists”.  No, seriously.  These raids were carried out for thought crime.

Ian Welsh is right in observing that the bleeding silence from the media and political class is enough to convict (emphasis mine):

It’s notable that as of this writing, at midnight, I see nothing on the NY Times front page or on their US page about the RNC harassment, arrests and snatch squads. I see nothing on the Washington Post’s front page, or its Politics page. As best I am aware no major Democratic politician has made a statement that warrants should be required before busting down doors, or that protesters have a right to protest, or that people even have a right to see a warrant.

Why is that? Is it that there’s a bipartisan consensus that civil liberties are just for talk, but when the handcuffs get slapped on people who have done nothing, when people are punished for crimes they haven’t commited, that it’s no big deal as long as they aren’t anyone important? Is it that Democrats stirring words about civil liberties were as sincere as many of their promises to vote against warrantless wiretapping?

I can only assume it is. But I’d certainly love to be proved wrong. So, perhaps a major newspaper might act interested in mass violations of basic constitutional rights like the right to free speech, the right to assembly and the right to be secure in ones own home and possessions and for the government to not be able to search and seize without a warrant. They covered the exact same sort of harassment by the Chinese government in Beijing against activists and journalists, but they don’t cover it when it’s the US government. Wonder why?

Because they have the same boss.  Complacency is complicity.  This is why members of the Accountability Now PAC are going against politicians from any party that tramble on our fundamental rights.

Further reading on slashdot, crooks and liars, and the huffington post.

To be fair, the media has some coverage.  The AP has some tepid coverage here.  The San Francisco Chronicle has more:

Activists planning protests around the Republican National Convention say they are being targeted in a heavy-handed attempt to chill dissent after police arrested five people, detained dozens of others, and seized computers and protest guides in raids Friday night and Saturday on private homes and the major meeting center.

Google News probably would have been a better place to check.  It isn’t that these events were not covered.  Direct censorship is easily noticed and countered.  Soft censorship, that is to say covering an event a little but not promoting it, is a far more effective way to keep most people (the kind who would not think to search for “RNC Protest” on a news site) in the dark.

I hate to be brutal, but the 2008 election is about making a choice.  The constitution is in tatters on the ground.  We’ve got to choose between the man with the bloody knife and the man with a single band-aid.  Perhaps I am being unfair, but Obama really needs to make a big stink about this.  Its about as close to an easy win opening as the campaign is going to get.  He needs to be the man between the constitution and the guy with the knife.  And if I were him, I’d be armed too.  Because the guy with the knife is just getting started.  At least the Democrats didn’t have anything like this at their convention.  Can’t wait to see what the Republicans do next.

MoneyBomb for Accountability

Today is the day for the MoneyBomb to support accountability to our constitution!

August 8, 2008—this is the date for our Strangebedfellows MONEYBOMB on behalf of constitutional rights and civil liberties in America. Let’s remove from power the key enablers of the tyrannical and lawless FISA ‘compromise;’ we can end the Patriot Act—and so much more. Join with us by pledging now—right here at AccountabilityNowPAC.com. Become a part of our transpartisan alliance of freedom lovers! Be a Strangebedfellow!

You will not find a more worthy cause.

Join in and support the MoneyBomb for the Accountability Now PAC!

Accountability and Politics: Bedfellows at Last!

But only if we’re aggressive.

My friend Marco sent me a link to an incredibly important article.  Glenn Greenwald has effectively reframed American politics as a struggle between voters and the political class:

The August 8 Money Bomb is intended to be used to fuel a long-term campaign and an enduring organization devoted to changing the behavior of the political class with regard to these issues. We intend to begin now actively recruiting and promoting credible primary challengers against the likes of Steny Hoyer and other key culprits; to target for defeat those members of Congress who continue to support policies of this sort, Democrat or Republican; and to find ways to affect the public discourse on these issues, which are jointly distorted and ignored by both the so-called “liberal Beltway establishment” and the crux of the Republican Party.

In 2006, we played by party rules.  True, we played hardball, and played more skillfully and effectively than ever before.  But we still played the party game.  And as Glenn notes, that left us in the lurch.  We had Democrats who were complicit, and Republicans who were voracious, and only a few from either party have consistently stood up and fought.

So what is being proposed is the creation of a long term Political Action Committee to aggressively take down incumbents who trespass on the constitution and our civil liberties:

Strangebedfellows is a unique and diverse left–right coalition which has come together to put a stop to the eradication of civil liberties in America. Modeled on a similar group in Britain, the initial Strangebedfellows group encompasses Ron Paul supporters (BreakTheMatrix.com, Rick Williams and Trevor Lyman), leading bloggers from the left (Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com) and many more who share the view that warrantless surveillance, telecom immunity and other such outrages of the lawless surveillance state MUST END—AND END NOW. Our group of Strangebedfellows is organizing a moneybomb on behalf of AccountabilityNowPAC, and we’re reaching out to friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum who believe in the Bill of Rights and freedom in America. So join us– become a Strangebedfellow! Add your name and group to our list of backers, and enter your pledge today to donate to AccountabilityNowPAC. Let’s reverse these police state sellouts by our political leaders—FOREVER.

Its simple.  By joining in this coalition, we are taking aim at any politician of any party who attacks civil liberties and constitutional rights.  And we are putting our time, money, energy where our mouth is.  There is no party loyalty.  There is simply strategy and loyalty to civil rights.

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

On August 8th there is a fundraising drive (from Greenwald’s article, emphasis mine):

In the past few months, we’ve raised almost $350,000 with our old FISA-specific fund — the vast bulk of that amount being raised in the last several weeks. And in just the last week alone, more than 2,000 people have already pledged to donate to the Strange Bedfellows’ August 8 Money Bomb. And that’s before most of the efforts on behalf of the Money Bomb campaign have begun. It is virtually certain that the August 8 Money Bomb will generate at least as much as the amount raised already for the prior fund, and it’s very likely that it will produce far more than that amount. Thus, this Constitution-defending, civil-liberties campaign will be one of the most successful short-term political fund-raising campaigns on the Internet, demonstrating that there is a very real, intense, active and substantial constituency for these civil liberties, Constitutional rights and rule of law issues.

This is a show of power.  It is a roar that should crack the marble in Washington and send political and media elites scurrying.  And we will only get that powerful an effect if enough of us join in at the top of our lungs.

There’s a number of ways to join.  Become a SponsorHelp spread the wordPledge to donate on August 8th.

This effort will determine the nature of our government and the extent of our liberty.  Its the most promising front in the defining battle of our generation.

It’s clobberin time.

Analysis: Obama’s Argument on FISA

The last thing Obama wants to do is move closer to John McCain and George Bush on issues of constitutional rights.  But take a look at his own rationale for his terrible decision to vote for the FISA bill (TPM, emphasis mine):

Obama on the FISA ‘Compromise’ …

“Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.”That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

“After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act.

“Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

This is crucial, and its great Obama fought for this.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

Ok.  So there is no accountability for the President or the Telecoms in the past, but moving forward they are now restricted from freely spying on Americans.  The bill’s supporters essentially carved out what they could with the intention of going back later and pursuing actual accountability for crimes committed.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

I don’t like that.  Its a very Republican argument to make.  Essentially “There are scary bad men so we need to spy on some of you but don’t worry it will be the right ones”.  I don’t like the FISA courts, its just that since Bush ignored them they seem downright transparent and democratic by comparison.  How sad our country is becoming.

So in essence, Obama and the bill’s other Democratic supporters (like Jim Webb) seem to have decided to trade accountability for past actions for assurance that as of this bill’s passing the illegal spying will stop.  Personally I feel this was a poor decision to make, and that this bill should have been used to embarress the politicians who supported giving complete and total freedom to the administration and the telecoms to spy on Americans “above the law”, with no stated intention of “fixing it later”.  But its an understable decision.  However now Barack Obama has another part of his platform whether he acknowledges it or not: “If elected I will hold the Bush administration and the Telecoms responsible for breaking the law, and work to ensure they are fully prosecuted”.  Although I wonder if we just saw that chance sail by?