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Forum Post: The left is the new right

Posted 1 year ago on Nov. 12, 2012, 12:22 p.m. EST by GNAT (150)
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Liberals let Obama get away with unconstitutional actions

Let us stipulate, as lawyers like to say, that President Obama has a deplorable record on civil liberties, one that threatens long-term damage to the country’s constitutional culture.

Why, then, has his base of support not been eroded decisively? Why have so many on the left fallen silent, after railing against George W. Bush’s rights violations, as Obama has prolonged and codified most of the same practices? And why have so few on the right, riding a groundswell of resentment toward big government, failed to resent the biggest governmental intrusions into personal privacy since the FBI’s domestic spying during the Cold War?

The facts are not in dispute. While Obama has ordered an end to CIA kidnapping and torture, he has personally approved kill lists containing the names of American citizens to be targeted by drones. While he has tried to move the accused masterminds of 9/11 and others from Guantanamo to civilian courts (only to be blocked by congressional Republicans), he has also embraced military commissions and indefinite detention. He voiced misgivings about a bill subjecting suspected terrorists to military arrest — whether foreigners or Americans, whether in Afghanistan or Alabama — and then signed it into law.

In practically every significant court case, his administration has argued for an expansive encroachment on individual rights, much as the Bush administration did. Obama’s Justice Department has successfully opposed the habeas corpus petitions of Guantanamo prisoners, persuading conservative judges to rule in one case that sketchy, unverified intelligence reports must be presumed correct. This absurdity has now entered case law as an erosion of the venerable right, dating from the Magna Carta, to summon your jailer before an impartial magistrate.

The administration has continued undermining the Fourth Amendment. It argued in the Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, that law enforcement should be free to attach GPS tracking devices to vehicles without showing probable cause and getting warrants. It has vigorously used a tool that Obama denounced in the 2008 campaign: the administrative subpoenas known as National Security Letters, which are issued without warrants to acquire the library, Internet, banking and other records of individuals suspected of nothing at all. His Justice Department has invoked state secrets, as did Bush’s, to deny wrongfully imprisoned and tortured victims the right to sue the government. The administration has sought broad immunity for Secret Service agents and others in law enforcement who arrest people exercising their First Amendment right to speech.

Obama’s solicitor general has just made a catch-22 argument before the Supreme Court that could exempt from constitutional challenge the law that authorizes the interception of Americans’ international communications without probable cause — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, broadened in 2008 with Obama’s vote as senator. Because the surveillance by the National Security Agency is secret, his administration argues, there is no way for the lawyers, journalists and rights organizations who suspect they are being monitored to prove that they are, in fact, targets of surveillance, and therefore they have no standing to sue.

These acts aren’t deal-breakers for many voters, except among a small number of civil liberties advocates, such as Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, whose blog “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama” deplored the left’s lack of outrage. Other liberals, seeing a constellation of social and economic issues, don’t want to damage Obama’s re-election chances by speaking out. He’ll probably get the votes of most lawyers for the ACLU, which has criticized him persistently. And his judicial nominees will be more liberal than Mitt Romney’s. So there is no opportunity for principled voting. Without a civil liberties candidate with a chance to win, pragmatic balloting is unavoidable.

A symmetrical silence about Obama’s rights policies afflicts Republicans. They worry that government is too big when it funds programs for the poor but not when it funds wars. It is too big when it regulates business but not when it regulates individual lives. It can decide whom people may marry, restrict women’s control over their pregnancies and evade the Fourth Amendment by invading Americans’ privacy. Only true libertarians seem to care.

But there is more here than hypocrisy. Terrorism remains a threat, as the FBI repeatedly reminds the country with sting operations that lure hapless wannabes into dramatic plots they couldn’t execute without undercover agents. Each arrest stokes the public’s fear. Furthermore, rights violations are largely clandestine and invisible. Their targets are “others,” meaning foreigners, terrorists, common criminals and various people not like “us.”

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, polling by the AP and the National Opinion Research Center found that those surveyed supported, by 65 to 21 percent, a government policy to read, without warrants, any emails to people inside the U.S. from countries known for terrorism. By 48 to 37 percent, respondents favored warrantless monitoring of U.S. citizens’ Internet searches “to watch for suspicious activities,” not further defined. In other words, I’m willing to give up your rights for my security.

It’s not generally understood that constitutional rights are not divisible, that those denied to others, including suspected terrorists, are also denied to “us.” For example, Ernesto Miranda of the Miranda warning, who secured our right to silence during police interrogation, was not a model citizen. He had a long record and had kidnapped and raped a mentally defective teenager. Yet his right now belongs to us all.

A certain appreciation of constitutional law is required to grasp what has happened under the Bush and Obama administrations, and neither the press nor the school system educates well on these issues. It has been widely noted that global warming went unmentioned in the presidential debates, but hardly anyone has observed that both poverty and civil liberties (and the Supreme Court) were also ignored by the candidates and moderators.

It took a comedian, Jon Stewart, to raise Bush-era surveillance policies with Obama, on The Daily Show on Oct. 18. “We have modified them,” the president said. “Now, they’re not real sexy issues.”

Stewart replied: “You don’t know what I find sexy.”

41 Comments

41 Comments


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[-] 8 points by beautifulworld (20443) 1 year ago

Great article. Anyone who considers themselves to be truly on the left needs to start pushing hard, in my opinion, to combat the nation's subtle, yet profound, shift to the right.

[-] 4 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

There is very little 'subtle' about our nation's 'profound shift to the right', but I did like your excellent point after a good article. The OP says - 'The left is the new right', but to be honest if that means that 'liberals' are to be considered 'left' then that really speaks to just how far politics here has swung to the right! The POTUS election though is a chink of light, not because Obama will do much for the 99% (though I hope he can surprise us"), but because there is a chance that OWS, The Green Party and others can result in a New American Left, campaigning for less war and military expenditure, single payer Medicare for all, good education, action on student debt, investment in infrastructure, Green-Tech etc. We need a 21st century 'New Deal'! I know, I live in hope, but what's the choice?

[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (20443) 1 year ago

I say it's been subtle because it's been shifting for around 30/40 years and no one noticed until very recently. The left has actually shifted to the right as much as the right has shifted more to the right. This is the problem and we need to take back the left.

[-] 3 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

'The left has actually shifted to the right as much as the right has shifted more to the right.' and I totally agree that this IS the case since President Kennedy was killed. This is actually why OWS is really so important, to seed and nurture and inspire 'a New American Left, campaigning for less war and military expenditure, single payer Medicare for all, good education, action on student debt, investment in our infrastructure, Green-Tech etc. We need a 21st century 'New Deal!' and I appreciate your commentary on this site with your recent comment about Walmart being an excellent example. Never Give Up! Go Occupy & http://www.nationofchange.org/growing-global-movement-against-austerity-1352979025

[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (20443) 1 year ago

The Green New Deal works for me. Great list of things we need to fight for, A4C.

[-] 2 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

The GND can work for us all! God knows we need it - http://www.nationofchange.org/does-tar-sands-oil-mean-game-over-climate-1352814419 Never Give Up fighting for a bw! Occupy The Future For The Kids!

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

Yeah I've always pegged the shift after JFK, but really after his voting/civil rights bills LBJ pushed/signed. LBJ said "we just lost the south for generation". And the shift continued when Nixon (and succeeding repubs) employed "the southern strategy".

While all these things were goin on the Dems were trying to maintain a progressive approach (MvGovern RIP) but they lost elections (except Carter). It was Reagans success with suburbanites that accelerated the dems shift to the right. Clinton was a moderate and no help in moving back to the left. Obama hasn't done much to move us back left either.

However, if WE can organize andput pressure WE can move the country back to the left.

It is up to us. Not one politician or party. We can & must do it!

[-] 1 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

'It is up to us. Not one politician or party. We can & must do it!' EXACTLY! Bear in mind that Clinton was a 'moderate' rightwinger and Obama less so. Never Give Up! Go Occupy The Future! Our Future!

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

I'm with you.

Fight for progressive change. We can get there together.

[-] 1 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

Amen :)

[-] 1 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 1 year ago

Exactly. This started after JFK. We have incompetent law enforcement in Texas to thank for this.

[-] 2 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

It was much more than just 'incompetent law enforcement in Texas', I fear but that was then, this is NOW - http://www.nationofchange.org/growing-global-movement-against-austerity-1352979025 & We Must Go Occupy The Future!

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (27777) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Gotta have good dreams if you want to make plans to actually get there. {:-])

[-] 1 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

These are not just pipe dreams nor are they beyond the wit of americans and I really don't need to be patronised. As you replied to me yourself earlier - 'Economics used ("USED") to be about dealing with the facts of supply and demand and caring for the workers in a fashion that supported growth ( for all - not just the executive officers ). That has changed over the years to propaganda econ-speak ( kind of like legalese ) so that they could hide schemes behind incomprehensible econ-speak. It stopped being a study of healthy business practices that supported the community/society as it also supported growth/profits for business and turned into - how can "I" get the most out for myself in the shortest period of time and to hell with the future.' I twinkled that comment but stinkled this one. Go Occupy!

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (27777) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Sorry was not meaning to be patronizing - I am serious when I say you have to have good dreams to provide good things to strive for. Like clean energy dreams to push for the implementation of green technology like hydrogen as a source of fuel for transportation and the generation of electricity.

[-] 2 points by Ache4Change (3280) 1 year ago

Ain't no thing, my bad. Just opened some annoying letters trying to con money out of me by promising 'pipe dreams' so momentarily, I was very irritated indeed. I don't doubt that you are 'serious', I have read your comments here before and pasted your comment in reply to me which I could not reply to before - although it is easy to misread, misunderstand and get annoyed with short one liners. Peace.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (27777) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Keep-on Keeping-on. I like what I have seen of your comments on the forum.

[-] 3 points by Renneye (3657) 1 year ago

((((((Big hugs))))))

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (27777) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Gawrsh...ah-heh.....shucks.

[-] 3 points by Renneye (3657) 1 year ago

Cute! Hehehe! BTW...Tesla's Model S roadster has nabbed Motor Trend's 2013 Car of the Year award, making it the first electric car to win. Unanimously voted! More recognition! Woohooo!

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (27777) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Right F'n ON. That is such a positive thing to hear. Thx. Green Tech gets good press - YEAH!!!!

[-] 3 points by jph (2652) 1 year ago

Fact is most people know next to nothing about the crimes of the corporate/military/government,.

When told the truth the vast majority of people are very reasonable, the unfortunate reality however is that the corporate media does a damn fine job of concealing the news the people need to know.

Turning this into a partisan issue is the height of stupidity, as both parties are just as awful when it comes to growing power and exploiting it.

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

Ignorance is bliss....

[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 1 year ago

"First to 270 gets to bomb Iran" - John Stewart on election night.

[-] 1 points by WiccanRevolutionary (63) from South Charleston, OH 1 year ago

I see the same things. Many on the left are now bleeding hypocrites. When confronted on these issues, half of them deny it, or pull the "lesser of two evils" card. Other assholes on the left have the AUDACITY to defend it!

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

This administration has been an absolute disaster and if it was McCain doing this, then the left would be int he street screaming and the right would be the ones dodging and justifying this bullshit.

People need to get their fuckin heads out of their asses and realize they are being played every single day.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

I don't think McCain would have create the 'right to health care' that we now have.

Now it's up to us to get the last element of the public option.

Protest for the public option. let's put the private health insurance companies out of business.

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

Ya, protest all you want, the people that were supposed to deliver universal just forced the poor to fuckin buy it.

Total 100% Epic Huge Disgusting Fail.

[-] -1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

We can't expect politicians to do everything for us. WE gotta get off our fat, lazy, suburban, entitled, whiny asses and protest for what we want.

We got 90% of what we needed on health care. We have to force our respective states to implement a public health care option.

[-] 2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

90% of what we needed? Are you fuckin insane? Costs are and will keep going up. The states cant afford it as it stands now, and they are powerless against DC to institute laws changing that.

WE got off our asses and campaigned and got the biggest fuckin Dem landslide victory in history. Thats not enough? We must all dedicate 100% of our lives to constantly campainging? Ive got a newsflash for you- most of the time that doesnt pay bills. Thats called a broken fuckin system.

I dont expect politicians to do everything for me. But I expect them to not blatantly screw me over. Preexisting conditions didnt even do what it was suppose to, because they didnt set the condition within X % of the state average.

Wait till they decide to force us to buy something else from a corrupted industry, I cant wait to see what that is!!

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

You are confused.

Yes we must constantly fight for what we want. And yes the system is broken, which is why we mustfight.

The states absolutely can and will change the ACA. The flexibility was built in through a waiver process.

That is how we will get the public option.

If we are willing to fight.

don't give up.

[-] 1 points by 1sealyon (434) 1 year ago

Is it not also an option to "get off our fat, lazy, suburban, entitled, whiny asses and" get a job and go to work "for what we want"?

What ever happen to, "Ask not what your country can do for you .............."?

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

Jobs for everyone! no doubt about it.

We agree. But still get into the street and protest!

[-] 1 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 1 year ago

Addressing pre-existing conditions was great but what about people who can't afford HC who have pre-existing conditions? The ACA is almost a non-event. As for respective states, I don't expect many to go for single-payer.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

The ACA will save families, states, & the fed govt money. A public option will address the people you mention.

Protest and pressure your state to implement a public option through the waiver system.

It's the only way.

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) from Fort Walton Beach, FL 1 year ago

The silence is deafening.

[-] 0 points by ivyquinn (167) 1 year ago

Welcome to the Left/Right paradigm. They have cookies and tell you how to feel.

[-] 0 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 1 year ago

"The left is the new right"

I got that feeling when Clinton was elected. 2016 is a window of opportunity to get new people in gov- People who will listen.

[-] 0 points by richardkentgates (3269) from Fort Walton Beach, FL 1 year ago

Yeah, I'm no fan of the Clintons either. I would have voted for Buddy Roamer but no BIG-Money backing so The People ignored him. So everyone wants money out of politics and the few who went the campaign without that money, just got ignored. So, maybe you're right. Maybe by 2016 people will have considered the implications of their vote. Unfortunately I see nothing that would indicate that.

[-] -1 points by 1sealyon (434) 1 year ago

Once people become dependent on government for their livelihood they are no longer free to vote against a politician with which they disagree, so long as that same politician is the source of the largess. That is the point at which we become slaves.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 1 year ago

Ridiculous! No one feels a responsibility to vote for politicians because of their position on programs they benefit from.

the elderly on Social security who vote for dems are not simply interested in the protection of dems provide for SS, (some on SS vote for repubs who are commited to destroying SS through privatization) They support a party based on it's entire platform.