Obama on Warrantless Surveillance: As Bad As Bush? Worse?

Barack Obama, who at one point was looking at least a little better than his predecessor on the issue of warrantless domestic surveillance, may turn out to be just as bad. During his campaign he criticized the Bush administration for flouting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by monitoring communications involving people in the U.S. without a court order. But then he went along with amendments to FISA that legalized such surveillance, even giving in on the issue of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that facilitated it. Now The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency has been abusing its new statutory powers, collecting purely domestic communications along with the international phone calls and email messages covered by the FISA amendments:

Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in "overcollection" of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.

Whoops. During a periodic review, the Justice Department says, it "detected issues that raised concerns" and "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance." The NSA says "intelligence operations, including programs for collection and analysis, are in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations." Except when they're not, I guess. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence adds that "when inadvertent mistakes are made, we take it very seriously and work immediately to correct them."

So the overcollection was not just a mistake but an inadvertent mistake, and everything has been fixed now. Or maybe not. According to the Times, "Intelligence officials say they are still examining the scope of the N.S.A. practices, and Congressional investigators say they hope to determine if any violations of Americans' privacy occurred. It is not clear to what extent the agency may have actively listened in on conversations or read e-mail messages of Americans without proper court authority, rather than simply obtained access to them." I suppose an Obama enthusiast would say this episode shows the executive branch can be trusted to police itself, as long as the right people are in charge. But it also highlights the extent to which the new surveillance rules (the constitutionality of which has not been settled) require such trust.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to quash an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuit aimed at holding Bush administration officials responsible for warrantless surveillance conducted prior to the FISA amendments, surveillance that Obama himself has said was illegal. It argues that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would harm national security—a claim frequently made by the Bush administration, which Obama has criticized as excessively secretive. Obama's Justice Department has gone even further than the Bush administration, arguing that the PATRIOT Act immunizes government officials who participate in illegal surveillance, except when "the Government obtains information about a person through intelligence-gathering, and Government agents unlawfully disclose that information." As EFF puts it, "DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying [as opposed to disclosure]—that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes."

The DOJ dismissal motion is here. Glenn Greenwald has more here.

[Thanks to Tricky Vic and John Kluge for the links.]

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  • ||

    How about every person who argues in defense of some state sponsored spying and information gathering upon the basis of national security be publicly stoned to death?

  • Mad Max||

    'Now The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency has been abusing its new statutory powers, collecting purely domestic communications along with the international phone calls and email messages covered by the FISA amendments'

    And, in a shocking revelation, the NY Times discovers that the Pope is Catholic (and they're outraged at the discovery, of course).

    libertymike,

    I'm glad that there's someone out there to make me look moderate.

  • JP||

    I realize this is picky, but I'm bored ...

    Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to quash an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuit ....

    "Quash" is really not the word you want there. It's usually used to refer to a court's nullifying of a writ or subpoena. What the government is doing here is seeking dismissal of the suit. There's no shorter way of saying it that's accurate.

    BTW -- I will buy and donate to Reason a copy of Bryan Garner's Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, if you guys will use it. Srsly.

  • jtuf||

    Yeah, I just saw some left wing protestors raising awareness about Obama's privacy violations. Nah, just kidding.

  • Kilroy||

    Certainly no Obama supporter, but the following statement is a red herring:
    "During his campaign he criticized the Bush administration for flouting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by monitoring communications involving people in the U.S. without a court order. But then he went along with amendments to FISA that legalized such surveillance..."

    It is a valid perspective to demand compliance with the law, even if you don't agree with the law and actively try to change it. Even bad laws need to be enforced as a lesson to stop making bad laws.

  • ||

    If things really take a turn for the worse, who here doubts that there will be some serious tarring and feathering administered?

    Anyone wonder why references to the rule of law are a joke? Look at the first argument in support of the government's motion to dismiss EFF's Complaint. The gvt. claims that Congress has not waived soveriegn immunity-the judicial doctrine (actual judicial activism) that holds that the state cannot be sued unless it agrees to be sued. This doctrine is no more than "the king can do no wrong."

    Remember, the federal gvt. is no more than the agent of the states and individuals. The state governments are the agents of its citizens. Thus, how can the agent, the government, exempt itself liability to its principal? It is absurd.

    Further, sovereign immunity is thoroughly at odds with First Principles. Does anybody
    really think that the framers risked their lives, their fortunes and their reputations for sovereign immunity? This English doctrine was not universally accepted by the English courts nor was it in the colonial courts. Most of the framers thought it downright repulsive to liberty and order.

    The federal constitution does not permit the judiciary to immunize the federal government nor its hacks. The constitution does not empower congress to enact laws immunizing state actors from liability for interfering with the rights of private parties.

  • Paul||

    Obama is being presidential. He has to govern.

  • ||

    Mad Max-

    You know, on some issues, I do make you sound moderate. We both know that there are other issues where it would be the reverse. But, alas, as with so many other things in life, it depends upon who is doing the listening, yes?

  • ||

    Mad Max-

    Given your thoughts about judicial activism, what say you about sovereign immunity?

  • Paul||

    publicly stoned to death?

    Good god, man, don't you know there's a drug war on?

  • Kilroy||

    libertymike,

    I thought it was already clear who is doing the listening: the NSA

  • ||

    Kilroy-

    They'll take you to a FEMA camp as well just for being a smart ass.

  • Hugh||

    I'm no constitutional law professor, but doesn't a change to our constitutional rights (e.g., fourth amendment) require a majority referendum vote by all citizens?

    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.



    Does ex post facto immunity constitute a bill of attainder? In the same way that making punitive laws, which target a specific group of people after the fact, isn't this the same idea -- only protecting a specific group after the fact?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • Kilroy||

    Oh yeah, damn...

    Go socialism! Boo consumerism! Um, unless it's government-sponsored consumerism! I love congress! Please don't take me away, pleeeeese?

  • Bronwyn||

    Paul ftw

  • economist||

    Great! Can we finally retire the "Obama is better on civil liberties, so his socialism is partially balanced out" canard once and for all? It was a flimsy argument to begin with, and it seems to be shot all to hell.

  • economist||

    "It is a valid perspective to demand compliance with the law, even if you don't agree with the law and actively try to change it. Even bad laws need to be enforced as a lesson to stop making bad laws."

    It's a highly legalistic justification. I think the point was: Bush violated the more restrictive law, and Obama supported the bill that both widened the latitude of the law AND granted retroactive immunity for violating it, while billing himself as better on civil liberties, and then it turns out that the NSA under Obama is still abusing its power, even under the law that gives it wider latitude in the first place.

  • economist||

    "Obama is being presidential. He has to govern."

    Yes. But who said governing had to involve making sure the agencies of which you are the nominal head follow the law? *sarcasm*

  • economist||

    How can the president bring Hope and Change (tm) if he's bogged down with such mundane tasks as enforcing the law?

  • Kilroy||

    Never said he was better on civil liberties, just that the statement I quoted is a lame effort to highlight O's hypocrisy. There are so many other very good examples of hypocrisy (like the rest of the article) that there is no excuse for using a poor one.

  • economist||

    Kilroy,
    I didn't accuse you personally of shilling for Obama. I made my first post before I read yours. And I wanted to explain why I thought that this was a valid example of Obama's hypocrisy. I'm sorry if it seemed that I was accusing you of Obama-shilling. That was not my intention.

  • economist||

    Maybe I shouldn't post under the influence.

  • Kilroy||

    No worries, I just tend to hold my own people (in this case the Reason writers and community) to higher standards than I do other people. Rock on brother.

    Everyone else, let's keep to good, sound arguments about how dumb certain government-types are. There's plenty of fodder out there!

  • PETE||

    Only a day late on this. Oh, yeah, Obama is WAY WORSE than Bush on warrantless surveillance.

    Yeah, he voted for the FISA changes. Bad move. But srsly? Worse than Bush already? I guess this whole thing is down the memory hole then?

    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/22/nsa-whistleblower-tice/

    Plus, you know, everything else. Sheesh. I think I'll give the Obama DOJ at least a few months to clean up the NSA's act. The NYT article was short on specifics as far as what, exactly, Holder did. We'll aslo see if Congress responds. But I guess we should just impeach Obama now and get it over with. Sigh.

    Also, still no mention of the torture memos? Can't find a "same or worse than Bush" angle yet on those?

    How's THAT for carrying water. huh guys?

  • ||

    It's kind of important to listen to the man when he speaks about what he intends and what he is doing, rather than read distorted opinion pieces like this one and then attribute all you just read to the man in question.

    Obama's reasoning has consistently been that the EMPLOYEES and other participants in BUSH ADMINISTRATION activities like warrantless wiretapping (which supposedly ended in 2007) will not be prosecuted because they were, at the time, under legally-given orders from the Chief Executive's office that later have been determined to be less defensible than they were when the orders were given.

    For example, would you string up the technician who actually hooked up the wiretap? He was following the ordered from his superior who was following orders from Central Command who was obeying an instruction handed down directly from the President's Office.

    Yeah, I remember My Lai. In many respects this is no different, in that the executors of the former President's demands SHOULD have refused to do the tasks they were ORDERED to do because they knew, deep down inside, that the orders were flawed.

    But where this DOES differ is important, too. This is not about slaughtering innocent civilians in a war zone. And this is not about a rogue Commander and a small number of troops in the field. This is about huge numbers of employees of very large corporations executing orders that are borderline un-Constitutional. There is no clear line here, like there was at My Lai.

    Personally, I can understand (a) why the multitude of employees performed the tasks assigned to them by their superiors and (b) why the Obama Administration would not seek to punish every one of those individuals for doing so. Giving a "company" immunity means nothing. Refusing to prosecute the EMPLOYEES of a company for actions undertaken by that company as a whole under orders from the leader of the Nation is understandable.

  • Paul||

    Friday Fun link: Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama's Double-Homicide

    And people say there's no media bias toward Obama.

  • economist||

    PETE,
    You might want to find a different handle. Considering all the dumb shit things you've said your current handle, anything you post might lack a certain... credibility.

  • ||

    The other really disturbing thing about this is that they tried to tap a phone conversation of a member of congress. WTF? Maybe they had a good reason for it. I don't know. But they sure as hell better have. That is getting into wire tapping MLK kind of terriroty.

  • the innominate one||

    It's a mixed bag at the moment, but if this warrantless wiretapping is kept up, Obama should be impeached.

    Shit, let's just start over entirely. Write up and ratify a new constitution, everything. We're not really using the one we've got.

  • SIV||

    Barack Obama, who at one point was looking at least a little better than his predecessor on the issue of warrantless domestic surveillance, may turn out to be just as bad.

    I must of missed that part about him looking better on civil liberties.Surely you aren't basing that on anything Obama said during the campaign? I thought we all understood those statements to be lies.

  • The Prez||

    I'm President Joe Cool, as long as the fans adore me, what the fuck do I care?

  • ||

    McCain would have been worse?

  • ||

    Ummm, not to break up the party or anything, but before you jump to conclusions about Obama's responsibility you might actually want to read the article, which clearly implies that this was an ongoing situation which was found recently in a Justice Department review, not something that Obama had endorsed or started:

    "[The] review, officials said, began in the waning days of the Bush administration and was continued by the Obama administration. It led intelligence officials to realize that the NSA was improperly capturing information involving significant amounts of American traffic."

    I've been disappointed with Obama's stance towards state secrets in court cases and towards the NSA program. But it's quite clear that the NSA's overreach started long before he came into office, and that when they discovered what was going on they put in "new safeguards" to bring the agency's actions in line with FISA law.

  • ||

    McCain would have been worse?


    It is difficult to see how. I can't think of anything that McCain could have done that BO hasn't already.

  • SIV||

    I predict "Bush Nostalgia".

  • economist||

    John,
    I'm sure there's plenty of things McCain could have done. The question really is, WOULD he have done them? And would the Congress have gone along with it (this assumes a Democratic Congress)?

  • economist||

    SIV,
    It will take a lot more than this to make me nostalgic for Bush. When our national debt doubles again and we're in an even deeper recession (or this one has never ended, and become a depression), then I will be nostalgic for Bush.

  • economist||

    I am currently experiencing Harding and Coolidge nostalgia, though.

  • MNG||

    Uh, the ACLU has been all over the Obama administration for this kind of stuff. The whole "liberals simply turn blind eye to Obama's bullshit" meme is only quite plausible to someone who's not very acquainted with liberals and liberalism.

  • hmm||

    Come on!!!

    We all know Obama surveillance is not the same as Bush surveillance. Big O clearly has our best interest in mind.

  • Hugh Akston||

    From the Onion's coverage of the First Hundred Days:

    DAY 85: President Obama was totally about to stop illegal federal wiretapping, but got distracted by this phone call and then dinner and suddenly, it was bedtime.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Uh, the ACLU has been all over the Obama administration for this kind of stuff.

    Maybe I'm weird because I don't consider the ACLU a liberal organization. I mean, the conservatives don't think too highly of them, but they hate libertarians too.

    When I think of liberal organizations that should be critical of Obama on wiretapping, I think New Republic, MoveOn.org and Daily Kos. I don't know what their take on it has been, I'm just saying.

  • hmm||

    The ACLU actually has a purpose beyond the political scope. The other "organizations" you mentioned do not. Their sole goal is push a progressive agenda. The ACLU for all it's assbackwardness actually does some things by the "book." That said, they are definitely on the liberal side of the fence.

  • ed||

    In all fairness, Obama (cough) inherited that warrantless domestic surveillance.

    In other news, the First Family got a dog.

  • ||

    When our national debt doubles again and we're in an even deeper recession (or this one has never ended, and become a depression), then I will be nostalgic for Bush.

    So, then, right before Obama's second term ends. i think a lot of people will be feeling the same way.

    I will never forgive the lefty idiots for making me sympathetic to Bush or obliging me to defend him (actually, I still think Hitler was worse; inarticulate isn't the same thing as retarded; you're a fucking atheist, so don't tell me Bush is the Antichrist) but I will enjoy the hell out of it if, in five or six years, there really are any signs of Bush nostalgia. I may be homeless and disconnected from the Intertubes, but I'll enjoy it.

  • ||

    Did you guys fire those doofus's that pre-election were stammering on and on about some imaginary "liberal - libertarian" conjoining? In other words, is it safe to read anything here yet?

  • Ben||

    Obama's 4th amendment position:

    "Chains you can believe in!"

  • ||

    Can we finally retire the "Obama is better on civil liberties, so his socialism is partially balanced out" canard once and for all?

    I thought that canard was buried at the end of his one-week hiatus on raiding marijuana dispensaries.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I will never forgive the lefty idiots for making me sympathetic to Bush or obliging me to defend him

    I'm with you on that, stubby.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Regarding the ACLU:

    That said, they are definitely on the liberal side of the fence.

    They've done a lot of good, but they have this massive and deliberate blind spot when it comes to the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is crucial to maintaining the rest of our rights.

    -jcr

  • Anonymous||

    Did you guys fire those doofus's that pre-election were stammering on and on about some imaginary "liberal - libertarian" conjoining? In other words, is it safe to read anything here yet?

    It's cooled off. The writing feels more like that pre-primaries, and the comments are remarkably free from big-government trolls that you actually have to think about to debate (though whether that'll turn into a weakness is unclear).

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    "ETE,You might want to find a different handle. Considering all the dumb shit things you've said your current handle, anything you post might lack a certain... credibility."

    Wow. I didn't even have to dig through the archives to find an example of your rather scripted ad hominem attack style. What a stunning display of intellect. You have a gift.

    The reality is, you react this way to anyone you disagree with. How fucking old are you, and how many times are you going to do it before you realize how childish it is?

    Admit it. You were playing dumb when you asked me for an example of this type of behavior.

    Anyway, Reason is clealry trying to galvanize it's more stereotypical fanbase with these Obama/Bush equivocations. It's how the political seasons work. When a Democrat is in office, you switch to indulging the sentiments of the other side, and when the other side is in office you roll out the more nuanced, "cosmopolitan" pieces.

    For now, we get the somewhat misleading FOX news strategy that's a favorite of meat and potatoes style Conservatives.

    "free from big-government trolls that you actually have to think about to debate (though whether that'll turn into a weakness is unclear)."

    Of course not. Echo chambers allow Libertarians to preserve their fantasy where they are the smartest, most astute members of an imaginary social realm. They don't need a bunch of Commie knuckle heads crashing the party.

    No. No potential weakness there.

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    "I predict "Bush Nostalgia"."

    This is where many of you reveal how disconnected you are form reality. The details that most of you care about are not even on the radar of the average voter.

    Many of you were spouting the Obama is worse than Bush script even before he took office. It was a convenient attitude to adopt because you knew from day one that Obama was not going to be a Libertarian President, and you would have ample opportunity to highlight that fact.

    Hell, within his first week the Obama administration was a failure to Libertarians. They made sure to get a head start on trying to prepare people for their lovely alternative.

    This entire thread is based on strawman argument created by, and for Libertarians.

  • Fluffy||

    Many of you were spouting the Obama is worse than Bush script even before he took office. It was a convenient attitude to adopt because you knew from day one that Obama was not going to be a Libertarian President, and you would have ample opportunity to highlight that fact.

    Time out!

    You may not have noticed this, but one of the links in the original Sullum post here is to Greenwald, who has been having an ongoing meltdown over the ways that Obama has failed to live up to his campaign rhetoric, and has failed to improve sufficiently on the Bush record on civil liberties and surveillance.

    So it seems like Obama isn't just failing to be a "libertarian President", he's failing to satisfy "progressive civil libertarians" who were among his own staunchest supporters.

    I did not expect Obama to be a libertarian President, and [for example] send to the Congress a bill sunsetting the Civil Rights Act. I did, however, expect him to live up to the relative pittance of civil libertarian rhetoric he used in the campaign, and although there have been instances where he has done that, there have been instances where he has failed to do it, too.

    Next time tell Obama not to lie like a two-dollar whore, and we'll have less to complain about.

  • ||

    This entire thread comment is based on strawman argument created by, and for Libertarians Nameless Troll.

  • Suki||

    Good morning Art, economist, jcr and other nice people to see in the morning!

    Otherwise this is thread just another depressing reminder of what a bad voting decision I made in November :(

    Obama will not toad the lion on this one :)

  • ||

    I really don't have a problem with gathering information by listening to calls made from foreign countries. We even had an absurd situation where calls between two other countries couldn't be tapped because a switch routed through the US. All of that had to be fixed.

    I also didn't have a problem with Bush being at the helm because his one goal was to defeat our enemies in the war on terror. Any excesses or mistakes would flow in that direction. But now that we have a Marxist in charge, whose every instinct is towards tyranny, who seems to want to fellate every two bit dictator with a trumped up title I do not trust the motives of the government at all. I think we will see actual abuses instead of imagined or theoretical ones.

    But hey, it will all be okay because once the government has a copy of everyone's medical records in our spiffy new health care system no one will ever be prosecuted for having the wrong opinion now will they? No one's records will be rifled through like Joe the Plumber's to find violations for being impertinent enough to ask a question. If the media doesn't cover the problem then there won't be a problem. Right?

  • ||

    I predict "Bush Nostalgia".

    As long as we're headed dowm that path, for the next year I predict a Scott Baio #1 record, the Lions winning the Super Bowl and Britney Spears winning the Nobel prize in chemistry.

  • Lester Hunt||

    Are the Republicans beginning to regret that they gave these powers to the government? Okay, dumb question.

  • Anonymous||

    Libertarian Keyboard Warriors,

    The tiring antics of Dan T and joe were not improving the signal-to-noise ratio. My point is that writers and commenters here are more thoughtful than average, so the quality of debate can be more civilized overall -- but if you think reason requires mendacious adversity to keep us on our toes, go on and fill that role and stop lecturing me on the horrors of echo chambers.

  • ||

    I also didn't have a problem with Bush being at the helm because his one goal was to defeat our enemies in the war on terror. Any excesses or mistakes would flow in that direction. But now that we have a Marxist in charge, whose every instinct is towards tyranny, who seems to want to fellate every two bit dictator with a trumped up title I do not trust the motives of the government at all. I think we will see actual abuses instead of imagined or theoretical ones.

    Bravo! Splendid parody.

    *golf clap*

  • BakedPenguin||

    Lester, as soon as the 'right people' get back in charge, it'll be okay. They only regret that it will take at least two years for that to happen.

  • ||

    This is where many of you reveal how disconnected you are form reality. The details that most of you care about are not even on the radar of the average voter.

    That's awesome. The average voter voted for the
    retard
    we have in office right now.

  • Suki||

    It is of the utmost importance who is in charge and that they be "the right people"! The "wrong people" are going to do whatever they want anyway, legal or not.

  • ||

    1) The check's in the mail.

    2) I'll never love anybody else.

    3) This hurts me more than it hurts you.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Suki, In all seriousness, I'd disagree. If they're going after political power - whatever their motivations - they're almost certainly the "wrong people". Even if they have the best intentions, they will become the wrong people after obtaining political power. Lord Acton was rather eloquent on this.

    This is why institutions limiting power are so important, and why we need to bring about a renaissance in adhering to those institutions.

  • Suki||

    BP,

    I can agree with you that that is the way I now want it to be too, but it never will be.

  • ||

    President Obama said Saturday that he would soon announce "the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective,"
    -NYT

    I'm....

    speechless.

  • Suki||

    PB,

    Any word on what they are? Pretty sure his idea of wasteful is not what I voted for.

  • Anonymous||

    You know, all those wasteful and ineffective programs. Like checks, balances, due process -- everybody hates lawyers, get rid of them -- private property. Just the big ones.

  • dhex||

    why hasn't there been more coverage of the torture memos? it's, uh, germane.

  • Naga Sadow, Charles Dickens fa||

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively) Those who believe Obama will cut or eliminate wasteful or ineffective programs shall go wanting.

  • ||

    why hasn't there been more coverage of the torture memos? it's, uh, germane.

    Don't be absurd, Acid Damage. TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE may snipe at each other, but nobody gets sent to the penalty box for real. That's no fun for the guys at the top. Unsporting, to put it simply.

  • ||

    Two dollar whore ? Wow, talk about a trip down Memory Lane.

    Thanks, Fluffy, you made me feel like a teenager again !!

    Gotta go reinvent government (again). Thanks again, Fluffy.

  • ||

    Did any Bush appointees advocates licensing and federal control of newspapers?

    http://blacklistednews.com/?news_id=3948

  • dhex||

    Don't be absurd, Acid Damage. TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE may snipe at each other, but nobody gets sent to the penalty box for real. That's no fun for the guys at the top. Unsporting, to put it simply.

    granted, epipen. such are the fruits of privilege.

    but i should have been more clear - why hasn't there been more hit and run coverage of the memos? unless we've got a hootenany update coming up on monday, in which case i withdraw the question.

  • Suki||

    Hi Naga!

    Check the update to the website ;)

  • JB||

    Jacob, like most journalists I think you are missing a big part of the story.

    Go look up Echelon and learn more about it. A program of intercepts was going on in the Clinton administration and possibly before.

    It's not too hard to figure out how this worked and likely still works if you do a little digging and thinking.

    The US government doesn't need to spy on its own citizens. They have the Canadians, British, and Australians to do that for them. They hand over material on our citizens and the US hands over material on their citizens.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Hola Suki,

    I gotta get ready for work, Suki. I'll check it when I get off work. (blows kiss)

  • ||

    "epipen"?!?

    You're pushing it, buddy. I have only a certain level of tolerance for Brooklynites, and then I reach my limits. Usually in Canarsie, or Sheepshead Bay.

  • ||

    The average voter voted for the retard we have in office right now.

    The only solution to the idiocy of the masses is to only let libertarians vote. For liberty!

  • Suki||

    Naga,

    Mmmmm you said "get off" ;)

    Smoochies!

  • ||

    Now that I'm back from lunch...

    Suki (re: your earlier question)-

    They *did* root out that inefficient and wasteful school voucher program in DC.

    That must mean they're serious.

    Next up: Ethanol!

  • ||

    Do you suppose the wizards of the Inner Sanctum consider bailing out GM and Chrysler to be "wasteful and inefficient"?

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    I can suck myself good.

  • ||

    What government program could possibly be more ineffective than the War on Drugs?

    I foresee the dawning of a new era of government thrift and effectiveness!

    Eat yer heart out, Raygun!

  • economist||

    Libertarian Keyboard Warriors,
    "Wow. I didn't even have to dig through the archives to find an example of your rather scripted ad hominem attack style. What a stunning display of intellect. You have a gift.

    The reality is, you react this way to anyone you disagree with. How fucking old are you, and how many times are you going to do it before you realize how childish it is?

    Admit it. You were playing dumb when you asked me for an example of this type of behavior."

    You seem to be quite obsessed with me and my postings. I mean, I occasionally dredged up stuff on joe from the archives if I could catch him in a self-contradiction, but in all fairness, he was one of the few people that I regularly had occasion to argue with. By contrast, there's plenty of targets here for your "I hate libertarians so much" invective. There's really only one possible explanation for this level of obsession with me in particular-you're infatuated with me. Now, naturally, I'm flattered, but it just wouldn't work out. I'm a fat, middle-aged man who enjoys drinking and staying up late too much to be in any sort of relationship, and given your own posting style, it's likely that you're severely underage.

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    I am not Leftitty, even though I sound exactly like him.

  • Preston||

    We've got the whip hand now Rethuglicans and "Libertarian" rightwing fellow travelers.You are going to pay for 8 years of violating the civil liberties of progressives.STFU,STFU!,STFU!!! or pay the consequences.No free speech for hate groups and apologists for capitalism.

  • Suki||

    They *did* root out that inefficient and wasteful school voucher program in DC.

    Okay, I am ready to send my Liberal card to the shredder for that one.

    What is supposed to be so wrong about letting poor kids go to good schools?

  • ||

    I bow to no one
    It's the only the someone I bow to

  • dhex||

    hey now, some of my best friends are from sheepshead bay.

    canarsie, not so much.

  • ||

    Admit it. You were playing dumb when you asked me for an example of this type of behavior.

    This is a classic joe line. That fucker is here, trolling this site with sockpuppets.

    Sup, joe?

  • Suki||

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively) Those who believe Obama will cut or eliminate wasteful or ineffective programs shall go wanting.

    Perhaps Obama is talking about the money we could be saving by using Geiko?

  • economist||

    "Bah! (waves hand dismissively) Those who believe Obama will cut or eliminate wasteful or ineffective programs shall go wanting."

    Waste stimulates the economy, so sayeth the Ruler Be'ethos (or maybe it was Lord Keynes).

  • Suki||

    An nation in bondage does have a certain ring to it . . .

  • BakedPenguin||

    Suki, let me know the safe word, so I can opt out...

  • Suki||

    BP,

    I think this is more like an episode of Saw.

  • ||

    Ok, I admit it - when I read Suki's posts, I picture Ann Pacquin's face, and I hear the voice of the guy that plays Bill the Vampire. I HATE the way he says Sookie. His Southern accent sucks (haha) to begin with, and the way he says "sookie" is just nasty.

    what? you want something on topic?

    Obama's gonna be worse than Bush on lots of fronts, mainly because he will have a supine Congress. That people who called Bush arrogant don't seem to see the same quality in Obama just fucking boggles.

  • ||

    Obama's gonna be worse than Bush on lots of fronts, mainly because he will have a supine Congress.

    How could this Congress be any more supine than the one run by Denny Hastert and Bill Frist?

  • ||

    I'm thinking. Okay, I got nuthin.

    The difference is in degree. Bush and the Republican controlled Congress set the house on fire. Obama and the Dems poured gasoline and it spread to the whole neighborhood.

  • Bildie burgers with fries||

    The truth is here - this video by Alex Jones explains the connections between the mainstream pols like Obama/Bush/Clinton and the high financiers: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/593.html

  • ||

    Errr, Bildie, I don't think you need Alex Jones or elaborate conspiracies to see that the major players for Teams Red & Blue are "in the tank" (drink!) for big monied interests.

  • ||

    "How could this Congress be any more supine than the one run by Denny Hastert and Bill Frist?"

    But who was supine to whom? Was Congress rolling over for Bush or was Bush rolling over for Congress so that he could get his war funding? I don't think it is entirely truthful to say that the poor weak Congress got rolled by the evil all powerful Bush.

  • Anonymous||

    The truth is here - this video by Alex Jones explains [dosing off...]

    How would they be nominated without high financiers? I mean, they are always among at least a dozen possible nominees with similar backgrounds (eg, fellow governors, long-time senators, many communist mentors), so what else is to distinguish them?

    I'm not feeling the outrage.

  • Suki||

    Anonymous,

    I was thinking about that the other day. There really is not any getting around the treasury and the federal reserve people being from big finance?

  • fuckin\' fixed||

    Obama's gonna be worse than Bush on lots of ALL fronts.

    Let me know when Obama is better on anything...

    He is continuing the "failed policies of the Bush Administration" and fucking up everything else too.

  • ||

    Could someone please explain to me what advantages Obama brings over Bush that justifies cap and trade enforced by the EPA and the $800 billion stimulus? The guy is going to let the eviro fanatics destroy the economy completely and bankrupt the government with pork. Meanwhile, he is staying in Iraq, escalating the war in Afghanistan and pretty much continueing all of Bush's anti-terror policies. How is Obama not just Bush with an even bigger spending problem and hard leftist environmental policy thrown in for spice?

  • Suki||

    So this is the weekend open thread now?

  • Suki||

    John,

    Aren't we on our way out of Iraq now? Not sure if it is the same schedule as Bush.

  • ||

    thrown in for spice

    please be Melange, please be Melange, please be Melange.

  • Anonymous||

    Suki,

    Let's take it as a generalization that "Big Finance" competes to hire the best finance minds in the world. I would expect a Government Of Experts (tm) to draw from a pool mostly composed of people unemployable and formerly-employed at "Big Finance."

    But that doesn't mean anything itself. Do I have a problem with it? Insofar as business is still allowed to exist by the Executive (PBUH), and as long as finance is relevant in public policy, then this is how the labor pool is going to split. I have a problem with ugly rocks, but without a hell of a lot of heat and pressure, I'm not going to do any wide-reaching damage to them.

    Yes, there are dangers of conflict of interest. That's why we have this little thing called "the market" to allow us to register and exchange our interests as we see fit. Too bad that monetary policy and banking and gun ownership and filing tax forms is too important to be left in the hands of peasants.

  • Anonymous||

    Could someone please explain to me what advantages Obama brings over Bush that justifies cap and trade

    WHAT PRICE WOULD YOU PAY TO SAVE THE WORLD?! YOU CAN'T LEAVE THAT UP TO THE HOLY "MARKET"!!

    (Helpful hint: you can tell I was being facetious because of all the exclamation marks I didn't use.)

  • Fluffy||

    Could someone please explain to me what advantages Obama brings over Bush that justifies cap and trade enforced by the EPA and the $800 billion stimulus?

    Well, McCain advocated cap and trade too, and articulated plans for all sorts of stimulus, like paying off hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of delinquent mortgages with treasury funds.

    Personally, I'd rather have these initiatives take place with a [D] in front of their name, so that when they fail the [D] takes the blame. That is necessary [along with massive turnover of personnel and personalities] if there's going to be any long-term prospect of rehabilitating the [R] brand. I wish there was some way to put a [D] in front of Bush's name, but there isn't.

  • ||

    I wish there was some way to put a [D] in front of Bush's name, but there isn't.

    How about Deregulator?

    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk....

  • ||

    Fluffy, yes. The over reach is so bad it almost makes me think the Republicans are behind it. And anyone surprised Clinton 3 is abusing power is a fool. Fortunately he spies on his own peeople more than extremists like me.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Fluffy,

    The problem is that things will work out in almost the exact opposite way. The economy will right itself when the panic attack wears off and people start investing again. But because Obama "did something" about it, he will be cast as the savior of America, singlehandedly saving both the economy and the environment, by the grace of the spending packages and environmental initiatives that the country will be burdened with forever.

    I would hope that the last eight years would have taught you that there is no rehabilitating the Republicans. As the opposition party, they flap their jowls about fiscal responsibility and the free market, but as soon as they have power its all sacrificed to the gods of National Security and National Greatness.

  • ||

    As the opposition party, they flap their jowls about fiscal responsibility and the free market, but as soon as they have power its all sacrificed to the gods of National Security and National Greatness

    There's a political cartoon in this. A good one, too.

  • ||

    The economy will right itself when the panic attack wears off and people start investing again.

    But the majority of people, "coached" by the media, will believe it was *because of* rather than *in spite of* government intervention and fine tuning.

  • Hugh Akston||

    There's a political cartoon in this. A good one, too.

    Somebody call Chip Bok.

  • economist||

    "thrown in for spice
    please be Melange, please be Melange, please be Melange."

    I told you, Art, do not go the way of the Guild Steersmen.

  • ||

    Personally, I'd rather have these initiatives take place with a [D] in front of their name, so that when they fail the [D] takes the blame. That is necessary [along with massive turnover of personnel and personalities] if there's going to be any long-term prospect of rehabilitating the [R] brand. I wish there was some way to put a [D] in front of Bush's name, but there isn't."


    That is a fair point. I had forgotten about McCain's endorsement of cap and trade. Cap and trade will go down as this Administration's crime against humanity. If it is a crime that will be committed one way or another, I would rather the Dems get blamed.

    But even still you are left with the same terror policy as Bush and a cap and trade scheme that probably would have happened anyway. In return you get Obama's multi trillion dollar budget deficit. McCain for all of his faults would have certainly done better on that.

    In the end though other than "now the Dems get blamed" anything positive coming out of this administration.

  • ¢||

    What is supposed to be so wrong about letting poor kids go to good schools?

    They're black.

  • economist||

    "In return you get Obama's multi trillion dollar budget deficit. McCain for all of his faults would have certainly done better on that."

    True, but how much better?

  • economist||

    I should have said "probably true". McCain could very well have run up the deficit to equal Obama's deficit. The last eight years have made that actually seem a possibility.

    Ah, but for a Warren G. Harding.

  • Suki||

    ¢,

    That was mean.

  • ||

    "I should have said "probably true". McCain could very well have run up the deficit to equal Obama's deficit. The last eight years have made that actually seem a possibility."


    I don't see any evidence in McCain's past that would show a propensity to tripple the deficit in three months. People seem to lose sight of how big the Obama deficits really are. The largest Bush deficit was $500 billion. Obama is now talking about $1.7 trillion deficit if all of his blow smoke up your ass economic forcasts come true. If the economy continues to worsen, we could see two or even two and half trillion dollar deficits and all for what? Obama really hasn't even done any social programs. It is literally all going for pork and to Democratic chronies. He is looting the country.

  • ||

    So this is the weekend open thread now?

    I'm treating it a such.
    F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases

    The F.B.I., with a DNA database of 6.7 million profiles, expects to accelerate its growth rate from 80,000 new entries a year to 1.2 million by 2012 - a 17-fold increase. F.B.I. officials say they expect DNA processing backlogs - which now stand at more than 500,000 cases - to increase.



    We derided the UK over this kind of stuff, didn't we?

  • ||

    But even still you are left with the same terror policy as Bush and a cap and trade scheme that probably would have happened anyway. In return you get Obama's multi trillion dollar budget deficit. McCain for all of his faults would have certainly done better on that.

    Who is this "McCain" of which you speak? Is there some McCain who didn't "suspend" his campaign* in order to get the first of the big bailouts passed

    * Damn, that was the lamest political ploy in years.

  • ||

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively) Those who believe Obama will cut or eliminate wasteful or ineffective programs shall go wanting.

    Depends on your perspective. Obama feels the tax cuts that are set to expire are wasteful and ineffective programs, and he will try to end them. The modern liberals who agree with this implied notion that the government owns all your income will only go wanting if enough moderate Democrats get cold feet about the hit pieces that raising taxes will generate.

  • ||

    There's really only one possible explanation for this level of obsession with me in particular-you're infatuated with me. Now, naturally, I'm flattered, but it just wouldn't work out. I'm a fat, middle-aged man who enjoys drinking and staying up late too much to be in any sort of relationship, and given your own posting style, it's likely that you're severely underage.

    I'm gonna call it -- threadwinner!

  • ||

    "Who is this "McCain" of which you speak? Is there some McCain who didn't "suspend" his campaign* in order to get the first of the big bailouts passed

    * Damn, that was the lamest political ploy in years."


    It was. But McCain has always been a hardliner on spending and pork. You may hate McCAin, but at least hate him for the proper reasons. No way would McCain have come up with the steaming pile of crap smelling theft that was OBama's porkulus package and budget. As far as the bailouts, he could have done no worse and might have done better. At the very least he would have listened to someone like Paul Volker rather than pushing him to the side. Oh and tax cheat and chief Geithner would not be running treasury.

    I suppose it makes people feel better to think "McCain would have been worse". But, there isn't any evidence of that. Honestly, short of immediately starting a nuclear war, what could anyone have done as President in the last three months that would have been worse than BO?

  • ||

    John,

    I find your previous speculation unbacked by evidence. John McCain, budget warrior doesn't really have a lot of credibility.

    Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (a big ticket item by any honest accounting) and the senior senator from Arizona is on record as
    McCain (R-AZ), Not Voting

  • zoltan||

    Maybe he could have gotten us some more McCain-Feingold?!?! Or War with Iran!??! That wouldn't have tripled our deficit.

  • ||

    J Sub D,

    You don't get it do you? All of the spending by the federal government up until now is chump change compared to Obama. Prescription Drug Coverage is 1.2 trillion over a decade. Obama spent more than that in three months on the stimulus and his first budget.

    People need to face reality. Nothing short of World War II even begins to compare to what Obama is doing. It is beyond any peacetime spending in history.

    At some level it soothes your conscience to beleive that McCain is just as bad and that electing Obama isn't a singular tragedy for the country. What ever gets you through the night I guess. But, the reality is what is going right now is not something that even the biggest Republican porkers in history could have ever even concieved of. I am frankly not sure even most Dems would have been audacious enough to think that you could really loot the entire treasury in just a few short months.

  • ||

    My bad, he voted against it. Yes I'm an idiot, but an honest one.


    The link sucks. I blame google and my own carelessness.

  • ||

    It is amazing to me. If you count the interest payments, Obama has in less than six months obligated something like $120,000 for every person in the country under 30. That money will never be paid off. Worse still, he has doubled the baseline level of domestic spending. That means that when people try to do somehting about it in a few years and get spending back to (gasp) 2008 levels even, Democrats will be able to say "the evil Republicans are cutting domestic spending in half". That spending will never stop until the country turns into Argintina and just can't borrow anymore. That is a lot bigger deal that giving drugs to old people, as bad of an idea as that was.

  • ||

    Thank for being honest J sub D. I didn't even look. I took your word for it.

  • MNG||

    The two things to be glad about that McCain did not win are 1. no war with Iran (the guy actually sang "bomb, bomb Iran" to a crowd) and 2. no SCOTUS justices like Roberts and Alito (who never met a police action or executive power grab they didn't approve of).

    But McCain, facing this mess, would have spent a lot of money in attempts to fix it, but not as much as Obama.

  • MNG||

    And we don't have to hear "my friends" at the beginning of every sentence that comes out of the POTUS mouth...

    But I really think he might have punched someone on camera, maybe a foriegn dignitary, and that would have been great...

  • Suki||

    Let me be clear.

  • ||

    Thank for being honest J sub D. I didn't even look. I took your word for it.

    Old habit. I have no future in politics.

  • engineer||

    "Obama is now talking about $1.7 trillion deficit if all of his blow smoke up your ass economic forcasts come true."

    But, but...hope...CHANGE! That's a pretty big change if you ask me.

  • engineer||

    John,
    I'm just not ready to start speculating about how McCain would have been better. Come back in a year. If we're still in an economic slump + the government has actually increased the deficit by 1.7 trillion (or more), I'll think about it.

    That said, you're likely to be correct on this one.

  • engineer||

    Why does my butt keep hurting so much?

  • MNG||

    "Why does my butt keep hurting so much?"

    I dunno, did you get drunk and pass out around Nooge?

  • ||

    Breaking: J.G. Ballard (dbcooper's favourite writer) dead at 78.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/19/jg-ballard-dies-aged-78

  • engineer||

    "I dunno, did you get drunk and pass out around Nooge?"

    No, it's more like every time I read about the latest Washington antics, my butt hurts.

  • ||

    I dunno, did you get drunk and pass out around Nooge?

    Shut your face! Their love is a beautiful thing! A beautiful thing!

  • engineer||

    We're just friends.

  • MNG||

    "Their love is a beautiful thing! A beautiful thing!"

    I'm pretty sure one party has to be conscious before there can be "love."

  • Suki||

    SugarFree,

    Are you sure you did not mean "buttiful"

  • engineer||

    Suki,
    Look, we're just really, really good friends.

    Really.

  • ||

    Here, have our constitution. We're not using it.

  • engineer||

    Brandybuck,
    No thanks. A bunch of members of Congress just wiped their asses with it.

  • ||

    Every time you think about me, MNG, my nose tickles.

    And here I thought it was just allergy season.

    protip: when somebody who pisses you off doesn't even have to say anything or do anything in your general direction to get a rise out of you, you've lost.

    You can keep projecting on me if you want, I guess, although it's kind of sad that an adult reacts the way you do.

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  • PapaT||

    Bush bad ... Obama worse ... Any Questions?
    IWantMyCountryBackStore.com (non profit)

  • Calion||

    The Greenwald link is broken. Fix please?

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