Obama, like Bush before, claims authority to assassinate US citizens

Green Change quotes a Glenn Greenwald article that states that the Obama administration has compiled a list people, including US citizens, which president Obama has authorized the military and intelligence services to kill:

Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush
before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens
murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim
that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and
imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests."  They're entitled to no
charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly,
the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign
nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges —
based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists —
produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a
grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn't Obama's policy of
ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or
checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as
much controversy?

Obviously, if U.S. forces are
fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have
the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including
American citizens.  That's just the essence of war.  That's why it's
permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war
zone but not, say, torture them once they're captured and helplessly
detained.  But combat is not what we're talking about here.  The people
on this "hit list" are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in
their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a
whole array of other activities.  More critically still, the Obama
administration — like the Bush administration before it — defines the "battlefield" as the entire world
So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed
anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities
carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his
say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks.  That's quite a
power for an American President to claim for himself.

Greenwald lays it out pretty well and it is worth the read.

Coakley’s loss and what it could mean

Now that the Massachusetts US Senate Special Election is over with a win by Republican Scott Brown, many in the news biz will start to pontificate over why it happened and what it means for the future.  Before they do, here is my take.

"First rule of leadership: everything is your fault. It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, Princess. One of those "circle of life" kind of things."Hopper, Bugs Life

Having been a candidate, I can say that the responsibility for any failure in the campaign is the fault of the candidate. 

That Coakley waited about a month after the primary to get her general election campaign going doesn't help.  Going negative before you put out enough (any?) ads defining who you are, and why you are the better candidate, turns off voters.  In contrast, Brown created his "man of the people" schick early, kept at it and let the PACs and 527s do the attack ads.  The Democrat's GOTV effort helped, but clearly not enough.

President Obama and the Congressional Democrats played a part in Coakley's failure, though.  As Paul Krugman points out in his latest column:

  • the economic stimulus was too small and became confused with the Wall Street bailout,
  • the Dems have rolled over to Wall Street & the banks, and
  • Obama, unlike Reagan, has let the state of the economy become his problem, rather than blaming it on Bush the Lesser.  After all, Bush presided over two recessions, incredibly poor jobs growth and a continuing massive shift in wealth and income to the rich.

"That's our lot in life. It's not a lot, but it's our life! Ah-ha-ha-ha!"Queen, Bugs Life

It has amazed me that Obama & The Dems, with the presidency and significant if not overwhelming control of the congress, have not accomplished more.  Their biggest accomplishment seems to have continued Bush's blank check to Wall Street.  Most of the major banks were insolvent (and likely are still now), but rather than take them over, clean and break them up, Obama & the federal reserve have given them massive financial support (via the Fed, AIG, TARP, etc.) and let them continue to limp along ala Japan's zombie banks while paying out huge bonuses to the people who tanked the economy.

Given a tremendous opportunity to be bold and reshape the economy for the better, Obama installed Summers, Geithner and others to kow tow to Wall Street.  The Republicans, out of power, resisted with all their might anything Obama wanted unless it helped Wall Street, the rich or our occupation of other countries.  They were pretty good at their resistance since Obama gave away some of the store on health care and the stimulus in a misguided attempt to be bi-partisan.  SNL summed up their seeming position well with "The Rock Obama" skit when Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell says:  "It's not that we want health care to fail, we don't.  We just want you to fail."

Based on their track record, the Democrats may use this set back as an excuse to cut back on any policies that are to the left of the Republicans, since the Republicans are standing in their way

"You're wrong, Hopper. Ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers. I've
seen these ants do great things, and year after year, they somehow
manage to pick enough food for themselves and you. So-so who's the weaker species? Ants don't serve grasshoppers! It's you who need us! We're a lot stronger than you say we are. And you know it, don't you?"
Flik, Bugs Life

There is an alternative, of course.  Obama and The Dems could chart a bold course to rein in Wall Street, deal with our foreclosure crisis in a way that helps people and not the banks, and use the House-Senate reconciliation process to pass a stronger health care plan that isn't a give away to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.  They will get push back from the Republicans, but if they define the terms of the debate and actually get some policies that help people passed, they will succeed.

I am not holding my breath.

Helping Haiti

Haiti had its latest devastation with the earthquake they suffered two days ago.  After being hit by four hurricanes in 2008 and 100s of years of US and French occupation/meddling, the earthquake was very devastating.

With at least three million people homeless, and likely over 100,000 people dead, it would be an understatement to say that things are dire there.  Bikes Not Bombs and WBUR have sites you can go to listing organizations that can help.  Locally, Partners in Health setup a page with news and ways for people to donate.  The Red Cross has setup a way to make a $10 donation by texting "Haiti" to 90999.

With 2.8 million homes foreclosed on in 2009 (higher than in 2008) and more bad economic news to come, it can be tough to find the money to give, but if you can, please do.

UPDATE: Just found out that my employer has a part to play in the Red Cross' 90999 text message donation program.  No company on the message path charges anything, so 100% of what you give goes to the Red Cross.  Not an endorsement, just a clarification.


Besides the RedMassGroup.com (Republicans, not Socialists sadly) & BlueMassGroup.com (Democrats), we now have GoldMassGroup.com (Libertarians), GreenMassGroup.com (Greens) and PurpleMassGroup.com (anti-Libertarian Republicans & Democrats or something or other).  There is one thing that unites them all it seems: registering their domain in the .com top-level domain.

I have noticed that many political campaigns register and advertise their internet presence with a .com domain.  Why?  .com domains are for for-profit companies, which political campaigns & groups are not supposed to be.  .org works fine, is for non-profit entities, which political campaigns are ostensibly, and the price difference of registering in .org isn't measurably different.

It must be a pet peeve of mine, but I think, on some level, they are revealing the truth that our political system is dominated by corporations.