Re: Obama’s NSA Speech—Ralph Lopez Is Right. So Was James Otis. So Why Aren’t More Liberals, Progressives And Democrats…Wait, Didn’t I Just Write This?

James-Otis-Quotes-1A political writer from the alternative media wrote a clear, well-researched, pretty much irrefutable 0p-ed for the Digital Journal , crystallizing an issue that should have been obvious all along. The NSA’s incursions on the privacy of U.S. citizens are a bright line violation of the Fourth Amendment, one of the bulwarks of American individual rights. Yesterday, President Obama rationalized and embraced those unconstitutional acts and policies. The writer, Ralph Lopez, is angry and outraged. Why isn’t everybody?

In particular, why isn’t the very same group that compared the less obtrusive Patriot Act measures imposed by the Bush administration to “1984” and fascist regimes screaming bloody murder? That group would be, in case you’ve forgotten, liberals, progressives and Democrats. The technical terms for this are “hypocrisy,” “absence of integrity,” “dishonesty,” “blind loyalty,” “misplaced priorities,” and “foolish.” The technical term for the consistent Republicans who support the NSA’s over-reach is “wrong.”

Unfortunately, Lopez’s piece is burdened by a ridiculous title (“Should Obama be tried for treason after his NSA speech on Friday?,” indicating that either Lopez or his headline writer has been infected by the signature delusion of this President and his enablers—that giving a speech is the same as doing something), but its main points are as solid as granite:

  • “The language of the amendment, which embodies the sentiment in Patriot speeches of the American Revolution that “a man’s house is his castle,” is beautifully crystalline in clarity as all the Founding Fathers’ declarations were. The Fourth Amendment guarantees:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

“In modern times, electronic communications such as emails and telephone calls have been held to be an extension of a person’s “papers and effects,” from a time when the only non-verbal communication was written letters, i.e. “papers.” This means, quite simply, that all private communications of private citizens are none of the government’s damned business, unless it can show “probable cause” that they involve a crime, and the government can prove it to a judge. In the real world judges already tend to give wide latitude to police and prosecutors who are convinced they have “probable cause,” a fairly low standard which might consist of a mere hunch based on the most circumstantial of evidence, like a man rooting around in a dumpster where, the day before, the cops found a cache of drugs.” 

In his speech yesterday, the President said, …in an extraordinarily difficult job, one in which actions are second-guessed, success is unreported and failure can be catastrophic, the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people. They’re not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.”

Really? They are collecting private data that can allow them to do that when and if they choose, and that is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Glenn Greenwald

“Every journalist has an agenda. We’re on MSNBC now where close to 24 hours a day the agenda of President Obama and the Democratic Party are promoted, defended, glorified. The agenda of the Republican Party is undermined. That doesn’t mean that the people who appear on MSNBC aren’t journalists. They are.”

—-Libertarian blogger, pundit and activist Glenn Greenwald, defending himself in an MSNBC interview against allegations that he has become a “spokesman” for fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Journalism!

Journalism!

Remember, this is an ethics quote, not necessarily one that expresses an ethical point of view. With that caveat, I find it fascinating in many respects:
  • Greenwald is technically correct: journalists who use  their position to distort the news, express their biases and serve as advocates rather than objective critics, as most of the journalists do on MSNBC (and the way many too many journalists do elsewhere) are still journalists. They are unethical and unprofessional journalists. Continue reading

Patriotism And Citizenship Check Coming For Democrats As The “Golden Dancer” Presidency Nears Its Point Of No Return

almost_midnight_

I sense that time is running out.

This evening, around 8 PM, the New York Post released an exclusive story, citing a “reliable source,” claiming that the Census Bureau faked the September  2012 employment figures that gave a huge boost to President Obama’s campaign as the race against Mitt Romney was reaching its stretch run. The figures, which were challenged by conservative pundits as suspiciously and conveniently positive, finally put unemployment below the crucial 8% mark.

From the Post’s John Crudele:

“The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it. Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today. “He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked. The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

‘“It was a phone conversation — I forget the exact words — but it was, ‘Go ahead and fabricate it’ to make it what it was,” Buckmon told me.”

Crudele notes that falsifying jobs figures has more consequences than just misleading voters and giving the President a basis to claim that the economy is improving. He writes, “I hope the next stop will be Congress, since manipulation of data like this not only gives voters the wrong impression of the economy but also leads lawmakers, the Federal Reserve and companies to make uninformed decisions. To cite just one instance, the Fed is targeting the curtailment of its so-called quantitative easing money-printing/bond-buying fiasco to the unemployment rate for which Census provided the false information. So falsifying this would, in essence, have dire consequences for the country.” [UPDATE (11/19)—“A Republican aide told the Washington Examiner the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is digging into the claim, published in the New York Post on Tuesday….”]

That’s not my hope.

I don’t know if this story is accurate or not. The New York Post is hardly…well, let’s see how to best put this…it’s hardly a reliable, trusted news source like the New York Times or the Washington Post were before U.S. journalism lost all credibility, objectivity and trustworthiness. This story could prove false,  but whether it is or not, the Obama Administration will deny it, stonewall it, make sure its media allies keep it isolated to “conservative media” so it can be discredited, just as it did with Benghazi, the IRS efforts to handcuff conservative groups during the campaign, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, and the real source of the problems with the ACA website. Whether this scandal, which would show that the Obama Administration used its various agencies to illicitly, unethically and dishonestly deceive the public to influence the Presidential election, is real or not, there are real scandals, many of them, waiting to be discovered, and still more that are in the process of developing. There is no doubt in my mind about this, just as there was no doubt in my mind a year ago that this wave of dashed hopes, uncovered lies, and desperate survival maneuvers was inevitable. The Obama Presidency is dysfunctional, incompetent, corrupt and rotten to its core, like Golden Dancer, the apocryphal rocking horse that Henry Drummond, the fictional avatar of Clarence Darrow in “Inherit the Wind,”  describes in a famous scene: Continue reading

I Regret Being Obligated To Say It, But I Told You So…

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

(I have wrestled to the floor past urges to write a post like this, but this time, I think I have to.)

In May, I concluded a post about the “scandal trifecta” with this:

“Four years of hyperpartisan, arrogant, irresponsible, rudder-less and badly managed government have had the predictable result, and I will be stunned if we have yet seen the worst of it.”

I was not stunned, unfortunately. And we may see worse yet. We probably will.

May 2013 was far from the first time I noted the apparent vacuum of leadership in the Oval Office. Two years earlier, when the Administration was breaching security to take credit for Bin Laden’s death, I wrote, “To hell with “Hope and Change”…I’ll settle for responsibility and competence.” Of course, we have gotten neither, nor did I expect a different result even then. I didn’t expect a different result in January of 2009, to be frank. Oh, I hoped, as I think almost everyone but Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell did, that Obama would prove adept at the job he had the audacity to seek.  Some Presidents with leadership credentials almost as thin as Obama’s have turned themselves into competent executives, though I suspect that those successes had the self-awareness and humility to know that they had some learning to do, as Obama does not. They also did not have a chorus of sycophants in the media and the public telling them how magical they were. It was quickly obvious, however, that President Obama’s concept of leadership was (and is) to give speeches, raise campaign funds, appoint loyalists, and sit back while they do the best job they can until they royally screw up, then express surprise and disappointment and let the same people have another crack at it.

And lie, of course. Can’t forget that. Continue reading

Leadership Trust: Is This Finally The Public’s Tipping Point On President Obama?

giant-jengaTipping points are events that establish major shifts in public attitudes and the culture, and what determines a tipping point varies from circumstance to circumstance. When the switch is flipped on public trust, a leader is done for, at least in a democracy. This is why, in a parliamentary system,  prime ministers call for elections at such times, or even resign. It’s a tradition the U.S. might do well to consider.

The tipping point on the George W. Bush presidency was glaringly obvious: it was the botched handling of Hurricane Katrina, even though that particular fiasco was mostly an example of effective  blame-shifting by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had already accumulated many legitimate reasons to doubt him, but the traditional American eagerness to like and trust whoever holds the same job as Washington, Lincoln and FDR had kept his presidency afloat…until it drowned in Katrina. All was downhill from there.

Interestingly, nobody at the time argued that Americans should support the lousy response to Katrina because not doing so would cripple the Bush presidency going forward. But I digress..

Now it appears that the Obama proposal/decision/ argument—who knows what it really is?—to engage in a limited missile attack on Syria may be the public tipping point on Obama’s leadership, the moment when the veils fall and the nation reluctantly but decisively admits that the man it elected—twice—as its leader cannot be trusted. If so, it is remarkable this took so long, testimony to how much we all wanted our first African-American President to succeed. The tipping point for me was years ago. Following the Bush experience, I thought that the bungled government handling of the Gulf oil spill would clinch it, but no. Then came the Benghazi mess, with an ambassador and other Americans murdered without any decisive response other than deceptive spin and obfuscation to avoid electoral consequences—the I.R.S. tea party harassment (still being investigated, and looking worse all the time)—the NSA revelations, and the growing evidence that while the Affordable Care Act may not be the cataclysmic socialist disaster conservatives claim it is, it is also far from what the President promised. No tipping point though, until Syria, and the consequences flowing directly from the President’s undisciplined off-the-cuff rhetoric—a constantly repeated flaw in his leadership style.

Now, as tipping points do, this current controversy is resuscitating all of the past incidents, and serving as the catalyst for a reappraisal of Obama’s leadership. The looming conclusion is that he cannot be trusted.

Occasionally am beaten to the punch by a pundit or blogger who delivers an essay that says exactly what I was preparing to write, even as I was almost finished writing it. Such a pundit is Forbes contributor Merrill Mathews, who delivered an article on that publication’s website over the weekend, titled “What Happens When You Can’t Believe A Thing The President Says?” (My title was going to be “When Trust Is Gone”).

Some key quotes from the article: Continue reading

The Bo Deplaning Background: A Picture Not Quite Worth 1000 Words

I reluctantly replaced the background photo of Justin Carter (who is still, by the way, awaiting trial for the crime of making a sarcastic comment on Facebook that post-Sandy Hook hysterics decided to treat as a terrorist threat) and put up the iconic photo of Bo, the Presidential dog, being solemnly escorted out of an Osprey to join the First Family in another spectacularly ill-timed vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, together with a photo of the National Debt clock. I hoped the background picture would save me the proverbial thousand words, because I think it speaks eloquently to several issues. But I have already received some squeals of protest, so I’m going to have to use up some of those words after all.

I generally have no problem with any President taking vacations, since the job is impossible and it travels with him, no matter how much he might wish otherwise. I have a problem with Presidents spending excessive amounts of the nation’s time in partisan fundraising, but that’s another issue. As one of the President’s supervisors, I have serious concerns about this President taking so many vacations, because, frankly, I don’t know what he does all day. He appears to have no foreign policy, other than making speeches, waffling, and dithering. He says he is making the economy his full time priority, but I see little indication of that. We know he doesn’t dirty his hands with engaging in politics and forging compromises with the opposition, and based on his statements and stunned surprise when incompetence or misconduct appears, he seems not to know what is going on in his own departments. We know he doesn’t trouble himself with oversight or management—even #1 fan Chris Matthews admits that.

Obama said on The Tonight Show (he has time to appear on The Tonight Show) that the U.S. has no domestic spying program. Today we learn that the NSA has habitually violated privacy restrictions on its spying, meaning that we don’t have a domestic spying program, just a spying program that repeatedly engages in domestic spying. Call me a stickler, but I think a few of those down days on vacation should have been spent instead actually learning what was the real situation before he told the nation things that weren’t true. Or was he lying? If you prefer that explanation, fine. That is another ethical issue. Continue reading