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Obama has been shameful on civil liberties. The sad thing is that it has traditionally been the Republicans who push against the limits of civil liberties and the Dems who at least pretend to care. Thanks to Obama, the Dems have flipped over so completely against civil liberties that there really is no remaining government interest protecting us. It's a Nixon goes to China moment, Obama has done more to destroy civil liberties than any Republican ever could have dreamed.



The Democratic Party has completely removed civil liberties policies from their platform for 2012, even though it was one of the main things they ran on in 2008.

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/09/democrats-retreat-ci...

Romney would obviously be even worse for this, but yeah - this is what you get with a 2 party system. It just gets worse and worse. My only hope is that once Republicans lose this one, then by 2014 or even 2016 they reform the party, and the libertarians inside the party get to heavily influence the platform towards more civil liberties, and attack the Democrat Party on it at the next elections, so they can win on it. Other than that, I'm not sure how you'll get either the Democratic Party or the Republican one to start caring about this again.


Civil liberties weren't one of the main things Obama ran on in 2008. Obama ran on the economy and on a fixed timetable for ending the Iraq war.

To make the argument that civil liberties were a key focus of the Obama 2008 campaign, you should be able to provide a Google News search query from (say) July-October '08 that demonstrates that fact. I just tried to find one and couldn't.

We are (mostly, and myself included) social liberals on HN, and Obama was the liberal mainstream candidate in 2008, so I think we tend to project things onto him that aren't really there. Obama is first and foremost a pragmatist. Closing Gitmo was worth less to Obama than getting health care passed.


I agree that both parties (save Ron Paul, if you'd call him a Republican) aren't running on civil liberties, but don't pretend that social "justice" wasn't a theme of Obama in '08. And to Obama, the two are conflated. And to call Obama a pragmatist is laughable, at best. I know you're from Chi-town...so am I. In his neighborhood, no less. But pragmatism is an unknown word to Obama because he doesn't know how to govern. You brought up Gitmo...any candidate with half a brain wouldn't go around spouting nonsense about closing it as a campaign issue. A 15 minute conversation with anyone in that arena would tell you not to make that promise...yet he did.

Also, I'm here to provide a counter-point to your assertion that most people on HN are social liberals. I'm not, yet I live in one of the most socially liberal neighborhoods in the country (save SF neighborhoods?).

I agree with you that closing Gitmo wasn't a priority for him in office, and that health care was the priority. Unfortunately, that's why we're 2+ years behind in fixing this economy. He is so fixated on ideology than pragmatism (in his words) that the economy just slipped his mind.

*edit: pronoun change


He doesn't understand how the economy works. Neither do nearly everyone in government. They are all basically academics without practical experience. You can't fix something you don't understand. You'd have better luck asking a virgin about sex.


Calling them academics is a serious stretch outside anything but the field of political science.


How about Obama's own 2008 campaign promises?

From the "Security" section of his main "Blueprint for Change" (http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/obamabl... p. 71):

>Reaffirm our Values: Obama and Biden will restore respect for the rule of law and America’s values. They will: reject torture with- out exception or equivocation, including so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding; restore the Rule of Law by closing Guantanamo and restoring habeas corpus; and provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track down terrorists without undermining our Constitution or civil liberties.

Similar statements are made in other 2008 campaign documents, and with more detail.

Before you object, I do realize you're saying two different things here: (a) that it wasn't one of the "main" things he ran on, and (b) that promises to restore civil liberties "weren't really there" except in liberal imaginations. I can accept the first, but the second is completely untrue.


Obama tried and failed to close Guantanamo Bay, losing a great deal of political capital in the process. Do you think the Obama administration is writing memos encouraging the use of waterboarding, like David Addington and John Yoo did in 2003? I don't.

I don't object to this on a technicality. I object to it on the substance.


Obama tried and failed to close Guantanamo Bay, losing a great deal of political capital in the process.

Oh, spare me. Barack Obama has explicitly targeted, and killed, American citizens in drone attacks, something even Bush never did. This is public knowledge. I count myself a hawk in matters of Islamic terrorism, but I am also a libertarian and this is beyond the pale. There has to be a bright line in these killings, and American citizens must never be targeted for execution by some politician just because they think they should be dead. This is why we have courts and due process. Suddenly however, all the people who were so deeply, deeply, concerned about waterboarding have been silent about US citizens being eliminated on presidential orders.

As for your claim, evidence? He did no such thing, because he knew that as soon as the prisoners were released most would go right back to killing again (or do you think that they were mostly innocent?), as indeed several who were released already have. Even his Mainstream Media toadies wouldn't be able to cover that up.

Instead we have seen a massive gunrunning operation intended to give weapons to Mexican drug cartels, conducted by Eric Holder, Obama's chief law enforcement officer, that has resulted in the murder of four innocent Americans and who knows how many Mexicans. The legal term for this is "accessory to murder". Holder has perjured himself before Congress on this and Obama and his media has done nothing but support him. What is your stand on that?


>because he knew that as soon as the prisoners were released most would go right back to killing again (or do you think that they were mostly innocent?)

Obviously they were innocent by the very definition of it in the US system: innocent until proven guilty. Obviously if we could prove them guilty we wouldn't need Gitmo, we'd try them in criminal court. We didn't because we had nothing on them.

Also, your "went back to killing" is an assumption. How do you know they were killing before? I would expect that, once released, the people who were illegally kidnapped would seek some action against those that destroyed their lives and held them against their will for years.


In descending order of fullfilling-his-promises (all promises from his "Obama's Plan to Defeat Terrorists Worldwide" 2008 campaign document, pp. 5-6):

* He promised to end torture and rendition, and did so, AFAIK. +1

* He made a good faith effort to close Guantanamo, and failed. Let's call this a wash. 0

* He promised to revist the Patriot Act and implement "real and robust" oversight of the new powers it granted. This one's complicated, but PolitiFact seems to call it a wash. 0

* He promised to "eliminate" warantless wiretaps specifically, but hasn't done anything to accomplish this. In fact, he's signed reauthorizations of the Patriot Act twice without any change in the wiretapping sections. -1

* He promised to "restore habeas corpus". In reality, he's claimed the right to not only imprison foreigners without that right, but also American citizens. -1

* Not only that, but he claims the right to kill American citizens without trial. This isn't breaking a specific campaign promise, since even Bush didn't claim this (AFAIK), but I'm including it anyway. -1

In sum, aside from torture, he's ranged from a disappointment to a disaster on civil liberties. And I love the guy otherwise.


Zach, he did not end rendition, though he did end some of the most appalling practices formerly involved.

We also have very little way of verifying, beyond leaked information, that the administration has behaved consistently with its policies and if it has, how well (not just with regard to rendition but torture as well).

So I would place it more as a +0.5 or generously, +0.75.

See:

http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/as-rendition-controversy... http://www.propublica.org/article/the-best-reporting-on-dete...


Hey, I realize this doesn't add much, but I'd like to thank everyone in this thread. I"m new here, but this is why I come to HN, people are disagreeing by citing sources and not yelling or being particularly acrimonious.


Your -1 on PATRIOT leaves out significant executive branch restrictions that have been added to the wiretapping authority, which makes sense, because Obama didn't have the political capital to force a legislative change. My source: ACLU.

Your -1 on "killing Americans without trial" is an allusion to the NDAA. The NDAA is a smoke-and-mirrors issue; the problem isn't Obama's NDAA, but rather the 2002 Bush AUMF, which is still in effect. NDAA's enemy combatant language limits the powers already granted to Obama by the AUMF.

Obama also appointed Sotamayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court, but that doesn't fit nicely into a message board narrative about civil liberties.

It is a drastic overstatement to call Obama a "disaster" on civil liberties.


I'm pretty sure that his/her negative rating for "killing Americans without trial" is due to our recent practice of killing Americans without trial: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2012/0718/Families-sue-...


executive branch restrictions that have been added to the wiretapping authority

Restrictions, huh? Do you think those might be related to the NSA storing and processing[1] everything that happens on the Internet?

I sure am glad there are restrictions in place though!

[1] Yeah. Who knows. Let's just not go there.


It is reasonable to question whether civil liberties were among the "main things" Obama ran on; however, they it is clear that they were present.

Beyond the aforementioned platform changes, you can see, for instance, the last section of the following:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080710165621/http://www.baracko...

or perhaps the section "2008 Campaign Event" on this page:

http://www.thepoliticalguide.com/Profiles/President/US/Barac...

Of course those are just two sources, but it's a pain to search Lexis-Nexis. Google News, AFAICT, has a much less comprehensive archive available to search.


Romney would be better and I give only one reason.

If we start making these guys all one term Presidents maybe, just maybe, they might know who they are beholden too.

So anyone is better than the current guy and so and so on.

So I am quite willing to put up with four years of Romney if it means a message is being delivered. I am quite willing to get him out as fast too.


The problem with "vote against incumbents", particularly in the era of Citizens United, is that you'll have just greased the revolving door and destroyed any incentive to not sell off everything that isn't nailed down.

The corporate sponsors of our government, the true problems in our system, would love to be able to stand up a new placeholder every cycle, to decry the excesses of the last, run on reform and have absolutely no illusions about gathering power for themselves, or see no benefit in doing right by the people casting the votes.


I love how people throw around the term "Citizens United" and forget that without Michael Moore, there would be no "Citizens United".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Elec...

Reverse that SC decision, you harm speech like Michael Moore's.

To your other point, there would be no corporate sponsors if we didn't concentrate the government's power in Washington by forgetting we can solve local problems using local government, and if Washington actually let businesses compete fairly and not creating artificial barriers to entry, such as license fees, over-burdensome regulation, frivolous patents and high taxes.

The problem isn't just corporations, which BTW, except for monopolies, are a net benefit to society (otherwise they just disappear). The problem is that we vote for corrupt politicians who corrupt our laws and interfere with the market killing off bad corporations.

James Madison said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." The corollary is that government is not comprised of angels, therefore we can't expect it to be necessarily better than corporations.


I just finished reading Peter Thiel's notes from his Startup class and he suggests almost all businesses are in fact monopolies, yet pretend not to be by competing in other environments. Google has a monopoly on search, FB a monopoly on social networking, etc. I don't know if I agree that either of them are complete monopolies, but the moat is certainly thick. In a perfect business world, shouldn't those be broken up if they are in fact monopolies?


There's nothing wrong with being a monopoly in the sense that you simply won by having the best product. Where monopolies needs tempering is when they use their power in one market to displace competitors in another market - such as Google accused of doing by giving prominence to search results from their own properties over competing ones.


It's a tough line to walk, no question, but I think there are few "normal" people who don't think we have jumped the shark here.

I do agree that not voting in corrupt people (and really punishing those who are shown to be corrupt; not just reading a letter in Congress). More importantly, move the power and influence closer to the people. I have far more sway over my mayor than I do over the President, and I'd trust him with more of my money.


> without Michael Moore, there would be no "Citizens United"

That seems backwards. If reversing that SC decision would harm speech like Michael Moore's then it would make sense to say that without "Citizens United", there would be no Michael Moore.


Your State House is also bought. And more cheaply at that.


Placing unqualified or dangerous individuals (since we're saying, anyone is better) in charge of the entire country in order to "teach the other side a lesson" seems highly reckless at best and intensely malevolent towards humanity at worst (such as, said president starts another war based on lies, killing millions).


that's what we did in 2008.

EDIT: maybe not dangerous per se, but definitely unqualified.


That may be what you did, but it's not what I did.


i definitely did not help him get elected, but we as in the citizens of the United States collectively elected him.


Despite us voting differently then and probably in 2012, I deeply appreciate this sort of sentiment. Despite our differences, we are one Nation. I believe it helps ensure civil debates as well as respect during policy discussion.


thanks.


Oh, I voted for Obama in 2008. So I don't know what you did, but I didn't elect an unqualified individual just to stick it to the other side.

That I did in 2003, for the Governor of California. That was a mistake, and I own that.


> maybe not dangerous per se, but definitely unqualified.

this sounds like a political opinion not corresponding to any established facts.


It is a political opinion based on facts. I can't think of another President with a less qualified resume. 1 half term as Senator, a few years in the state senate, and "community organizer" isn't exactly the resume most Presidents have.

Going back to Carter: Carter: Governor of Georgia Reagon: Governor of California H.W. Bush: Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice-President Clinton: Governor of Arkansas W. Bush: Governor of Texas Obama: 4 years of 1 Senate term, 2 of which he spent running for president.


Ten years in government (does 10 years of state senate + 3 years of senate add up to one governor term? who cares?) and president of the harvard law review is plenty, and there's no evidence that his performance is hindered by a lack of qualification. Whether or not one agrees with his policies, his performance on the domestic and international stages has been extremely productive (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Barack_Obama#Majo...), even in the face of a congress that admitted their only goal being to block him at all costs (http://www.examiner.com/article/mitch-mcconnell-r-ky-maintai...). It's plainly obvious that he is extremely adept at executing his role, and is not suffering for any supposed "lack of qualification".


First, you might remember that the first 2 years of his presidency he had large majorities in both houses of Congress.

Second, the list you sent me to includes things such as - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Crush_Video_Prohibition_.... I'm not sure that qualifies as "extremely productive"

He said when he took office that we absolutely had to pass the stimulus bill, and if we did it would keep unemployment from going over 8%. You might have noticed, that since then unemployment has in fact never been under 8%. We have the weakest recovery in recent history, with a jobs report last Friday that said 400K people were so discouraged they gave up looking for a job.


> He said when he took office that we absolutely had to pass the stimulus bill, and if we did it would keep unemployment from going over 8%. You might have noticed, that since then unemployment has in fact never been under 8%. We have the weakest recovery in recent history, with a jobs report last Friday that said 400K people were so discouraged they gave up looking for a job.

George W Bush recklessly spent eight years enacting some of the most irresponsible and cruel policies in decades, and as a result, in combination with a general trend of banking deregulation over the past thirty years, more than tipped the scales to cause the second worst economic disaster in US history.

Obama takes office and within weeks manages to take enough steps to stem the brunt of this disaster, restoring the banking industry and the general health of the economy, pushing back at the damage done by 30 years of decline with a good five or six years of intense irresponsibility at the end. Unemployment stays a point or two higher than what everyone hoped, despite the fact that the opposition party has taken historically unprecedented steps (see http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/breaking...) to unconditionally block any positive action the president might take, an unheard-of development that nobody anticipated.

Overall, if unemployment is your vector, the job creation records of George W Bush ("qualified") vs. Obama ("unqualified") could not be in more stark comparison: http://www.pensitoreview.com/2010/10/11/obama-created-863k-j... (Obama Has Created 863K Jobs in 2010, More Than Double Average Annual Creation under Bush)

This is your evidence that Obama is "unqualified", yet George W. Bush, largely responsible for the whole mess and virtually unopposed during his entire two terms is considered as "qualified".

This is an entirely policiticized point of view.


He said when he took office that we absolutely had to pass the stimulus bill, and if we did it would keep unemployment from going over 8%

Politifact says that statement is "Mostly False". He never made that claim.

http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2012/mar/02/er...


Well they released a report saying that it would stay under 8% and this is the report they used to promote the bill. He may not have said in a public speech "this will keep it under 8%", but we're intelligent folks here, we can read between the lines.

He did very explicitly and repeatedly say it would save or create 3-4 million jobs. As the unemployment rate shot well above their predictions for even the not passing the bill case, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they were wrong.


Oh Fox news says they created 3.1 million jobs

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/15/fact-check-where-obama-...


FTA- "THE FACTS: True as far as it goes, but the claim inflates Obama's record of private-sector job creation by ignoring huge losses early in his presidency. By going back 27 months, Obama starts counting at the low point of employment for the private sector in February 2010 and tracks how far it has come. But counting farther back, since the end of the recession in June 2009, private-sector job gains have been much more modest, 3.1 million. That's a more meaningful measurement to economists. Overall, the economy has lost 1.37 million jobs — 784,000 in the private sector — since Obama was inaugurated."

Right, we gained jobs from the low point, and we still have less jobs than when he became President. Color me unimpressed. The unemployment rate went from 7.2% straight to over 10%. I don't know what BS they come up with for "saved" jobs, but the stimulus was a failure from pretty much any possible viewpoint.


It is a net gain if you count the 800,000 jobs lost during his first month in office.


1 half term as Senator, a few years in the state senate, community organizer, lawyer. Hmmm. I wonder what other former Presidents I might find with a similar bio. Hmmm... I might start by looking in... Illinois?


Are you really comparing Obama to Lincoln? You'll find a lot more similarities with Carter.


Not really, so much as I am making a point about the validity of the resume comparison.


What else would you have me compare the candidates on other than than their past experiences? You hire people for jobs based on their qualifications for that job. Obama hadn't done anything that remotely prepared him for being the President.


Strong disagree, regarding your view on qualifications.


that he didn't have them, or that that is what we should be basing our decision on?


That the particular qualifications you're citing are vital.


You don't think running something, anything, would be useful to running the country?


Current Candidates political experience.

Obama, 7 years state senate, 4 years Senator of the State of IL, 4 years President of the United States.

Romney, 4 years Governor of MA.

So I guess by your metric this year you're voting Obama?


I could do without the snark. There is obviously more to it than just titles. If not I guess we'd be forced to vote for the incumbent every time.

As far as time before president, I will take 4 years of governor over 4 years in the senate and any amount of time in the state senate.

Your also conveniently forgetting about all of Romney's time in the private sector running multi-billion dollar businesses and saving the Olympics. I count that experience ever so slightly higher than "community organizer".


There is obviously more to it than just titles.

Oh that other comment of yours seemed to indicate they were important.

"Going back to Carter: Carter: Governor of Georgia Reagon: Governor of California H.W. Bush: Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice-President Clinton: Governor of Arkansas W. Bush: Governor of Texas Obama: 4 years of 1 Senate term, 2 of which he spent running for president.

no?


How hard is it to figure out that something can be important and yet not the only thing to consider? I think running something would be pretty useful experience to being President. I do not however plan to vote for every incumbent President simply because the job title President is more impressive than anything else someone could do.


The governorship of Texas is largely ceremonial. Obama arguably got more experience in public service as a community organizer than Dubya did as governor.


Unfortunately he had no experience leading anything. As chief executive, commander in chief, and leader of the free world, I'd like for him to have some experience leading something other than his own campaign for president.


As chief executive, commander in chief, and leader of the free world, I'd like for him to have some experience leading something other than his own campaign for president.

Again, not to defend Obama specifically, but anyone who ends up on the (D) or (R) ballots for POTUS has unquestionably passed a hardcore test of their organizational and leadership skills, and likely their budgetary skills as well.

That's as true for GWB as it is for Obama, of course.


While somewhat true, does it really make sense to elect someone whose greatest accomplishment and only leadership experience is....running for president?

FWIW, his budgetary skills aren't too impressive. #justsaying


Whether two term or one term, if the party can install a lobbyist-friendly puppet they maintain their ability to sell access to government. That's what modern democracy is all about: leveraging public money/power for special interests.


Most 2002 "Naderites" will describe you how that strategy is so prone to backfire, you might as well shoot yourself in the foot right now.


It's called the Democratic party. "Democrat party" is a slur used by Republicans, and its usage suggests someone who either views the party in a derogatory way or who is underexposed to non-right-wing news sources.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Party_%28epithet%29


> Romney would obviously be even worse for this

I am not sure how you come to this conclusion. Is it something he said, or history of his actions, or a general attitude against the Republican party, or something else?


Romney and the Republican party in general want to make the Patriot Act "stronger" for example (watch the Republican debates from last fall. The only one arguing against it was Ron Paul. The others were all towards "more security", disregarding any civil liberties that might step on).

They would like a war with Iran, and we all know things get even worse during war time, when it comes to to civil liberties. And last but not least, Romney can not be trusted, so it's irrelevant even if he says he is pro-Internet freedom (btw he said recently he wants to ban porn or something like that) or pro-civil liberties.


While you may be able to find attribution of that to some fringe elements of the Republican party, I have not heard Romney or Ryan say anything even close. In fact, they seem to be far more process oriented than the current administration that continues to try to find ways around government process (avoiding votes, expansion of executive orders, use of conference, recess appointments, etc).


There is some evidence that Democratic presidents use EOs more than Republican presidents[1]. What I don't know is whose EOs are "worse". I'd as soon Congress rip much of the EO power back out of the President's hands.

1. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Orders_and_Proclamat...


I am hoping they will be motivated by a Gary Johnson victory.


Obama has done more to destroy civil liberties than any Republican ever could have dreamed.

Ridiculous. I understand the perspective that civil liberties online are under a constant assault by the government, but no reading of the actual facts could lead someone to the informed belief that Obama's DOJ and NSA are worse than Bush's, or, for that matter, Clinton's or Bush I's.


The Patriot Act alone is a decent case that Bush and Obama (by passing and reauthorizing, respectively) have been worse than their predecessors. And Obama has taken many transgressions farther than Bush, both in direct actions and in attempts to hide information about actions, including government immunity for surveillance violations [1], citing exceptions to open record laws [2], ignoring FOIA requests [3], prosecuting whistleblowers [4], use of national security letters, saying that they can't tell us how many Americans they've spied on[5], etc, etc. The TSA seems to gotten more annoying, too.

[1] http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/04/obama-doj-worse-than-bu...

[2] http://www.sunjournal.com/node/815552

[3] http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73606.html

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/sunday-review/a-high-tech-...

[5] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/nsa-spied/


How does the Patriot Act hold up to the HUAC or interment of citizens during WWII?

The Patriot Act is bad. But it's not unprecedented. And, personally, I don't find it notably worse than the war on drugs.


This pretty much sums up my take on PATRIOT, with the addendum that Obama had basically zero chance of rolling PATRIOT back given the political hand he was dealt.


I cannot count the number of times I have heard 'Well he would have done X except for Y' from Obama supporters. I no longer believe it - actions speak louder, and all that.


Disclaimer: I have very strong disagreements with the President and several of his actions, including the Patriot Act issue (among others). I also agree with many of his social views.

Considering the role of the President properly, including the ways in which certain latitudes of movement (i.e., the ability to fulfill campaign promises or advance new agendas) are circumscribed by congressional action, I don't think asserting that he could have done X were it not for Y is really something that falls in the whether-you-believe-it-or-not category. Not everything in reality is there for you to believe or not believe.

The President does not have the power to just operate in total freedom, doing as s/he will with the office. The President can advance an agenda, attempting to build congressional support, but then has to pretty much wait to see what happens. Where that agenda requires Congress to take it up and act, it's rather disingenuous to blame any sitting President.

Moreover, there is a vast disconnect between the structure and operations of government and the People's perception of its structure and operations. When a sizable majority elects a presidential candidate based on the promises made in his/her platform, [I think] they actually expect to see those promises fulfilled. Unfortunately for the voters, the President doesn't really have the actual power to fulfill most (if not all) of them. This is especially frustrating when one sees a historical moment that could be capitalized upon, but is then reacted to with all manner of obstructing and filibustering that the ousted party can muster (such as that of the GOP focused on their goal of making President Obama a one-termer).

So, a new President enters the office, flying into the White House from the lofty heights of the People's surging will, and then Congress decimates the euphoria by thinking that they can go back to politicking and just ignore that the People voted not just for the candidate, but for the candidate's platform. In this way, the onus is really on the President's party to move forward with legislation that embodies the platform. To this end, the Democratic Party did a poor job.

Of course, this cuts both ways and is a difficult reality. Voters expect to see a President's platform promises fulfilled, and rightfully so. But as far as those who didn't vote for the platform are concerned, it's a tough road that carries with it all manner of Tocquevillian tyranny-of-the-majority concerns. Were Romney-Ryan to win, I sure as hell wouldn't want to see the whole of Congress hunkering down to draft legislation that mirrors the GOP platform, because I find most of it to be utterly atrocious and unconscionable (particularly where social issues are concerned). I want Congress to resist rolling us back to pre-1964/1972 America.

Obviously, the President can reverse EOs from prior Presidents. This, I think, would be an excellent thing for Presidents to actually spend significant time doing. Not just the occasional reversal that we typically see. They could be undoing all the damage wrought by their predecessor insofar as the people have voted with a clear enough mandate for his/her platform as it relates to being opposed to certain prior presidential actions. This is why Gitmo is such a sticking issue (to me, at least).

But where the platform consists of items that require legislation, the President is much more hamstrung to fulfill these promises--which then makes for great, but utterly useless, campaign fodder for his adversary in the next election cycle.

All that said, presidential actions that speak louder than words (or platforms), are another matter entirely. President Obama's actions have, on the whole, brought America back into considerably better standing with the world community than it was under Bush. I've seen quite a bit of press in Europe given to discussions about how much more preferable Mr. Obama is to Mr. Romney. There are plenty of presidential actions that have nothing to do with certain legislative actions--and yet the typical election cycle inevitably focuses on presidential actions that relate to legislation instead of fulfilling the job of being the executive.


I'm aware of the disconnect between intent of the president and what he is capable of, and the promise-party that always takes place before an election is appalling. To see Clinton, who presided over multiple budget surpluses, tow the party line and endorse Obama, who is presiding over four straight trillion dollar deficits with zero real plan for debt reduction (just reducing the yearly deficit and calling it 'debt reduction'), is enraging. But I'm not going to argue about intentions - it's a pointless argument.

In regards to your last point, I will say flatly that I do not care about our perception in the eyes of the 'world community', I merely care about the reality of our situation. I think anyone other than Bush would have 'elevated our standing' with the rest of the world much the same as Obama (bonus 'progressive' points if not white or male). I don't consider much of the rest of the world such a great place that we should be concerned about appeasing them with politics they get to muse about and we have to live with.


> I will say flatly that I do not care about our perception in the eyes of the 'world community', I merely care about the reality of our situation. \

You really should. The perception the world has of America has a great and fundamental impact on the "reality of our situation". We do not exist in a vacuum, and the worse we appear in the world's eyes, the more difficult things can become.

> I think anyone other than Bush would have 'elevated our standing' with the rest of the world much the same as Obama (bonus 'progressive' points if not white or male).

This is pretty much nonsense. McCain & Palin would not have elevated our standing in global perceptions, but eroded it further instead. World perception does not have to do with whether or not the President is white or male, either. It is built atop the content of ideas and the policies we follow. This is a rather ridiculously cynical view.

> I don't consider much of the rest of the world such a great place that we should be concerned about appeasing them with politics they get to muse about and we have to live with.

Nobody said anything of the sort. Hate to break it to you, though--as much as you don't consider the rest of the world such a great place that is worth being mindful of in our political decision-making, they feel exactly the same way. And they far outnumber us, friend. I think the world would quite unanimously declare the same sentiment:

We don't consider America such a great place that we should be concerned about appeasing it with politics that it gets to muse about and we all have to live with.


Please explain your first statement. I have trouble understanding how simply electing Obama made things easier for us in regards to world politics - that is a very vague and subjective statement, and I haven't seen anything happen in the last four years that only happened because of improved world perception, other than maybe that laughable Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps we experienced far less fallout over intervening in Libya than we would have under a Republican president.

In regards to your second statement, you are likely correct. In comparison to McCain/Palin, Obama definitely improved the perception, if not the reality. And I am cynical, because that is the only reasonable response to American politics at this point.

And in regards to the third, so be it. They shouldn't have to worry about how we perceive their leaders. If they do, it's only because we have the world's most powerful military and both Democrat and Republican alike have shown willingness to use it.


I could jump to the moon if it weren't for gravity.

But I realize that reality prevents that, so I don't go around saying I can do it.

Are you saying that politicians are so out of touch with reality that they don't know what they promise is impossible?

Or are they being intentionally misleading?


A little bit, but also, they're selling more than their own election; what thwarts the fulfillment of most of these promises is politics. If Obama had a clearer mandate after the election, and, particularly, in 2010, he'd have had more success delivering.

What are you really asking? Do you honestly think Obama didn't want to close Guantanamo?


I think he made a promise to close Guantanamo without thinking it through. Then he changed his mind.

The fact is, when Ron Paul (or someone like him) says he will close Guantanamo Bay, you know they will close it, by executive order if need be. Obama was content to make an attempt and either change his mind or give up. As such, I have either changed my mind about him or given up. Doesn't really matter which - intentions mean nothing in politics at this point.


Neither, really. I was attempting to be a bit more nuanced than that (I was already long-winded as all hell).

> Are you saying that politicians are so out of touch with reality that they don't know what they promise is impossible?

No, I think the vast majority of voters more reliably fall into this camp, actually. Politicians are quite aware that they make unfulfillable promises, knowing much of it is (likely) impossible, but they do it because it has become the expectation in American elections that politicians campaign on issues, and they have to choose issues they think will resound strongly enough with the voting public.

> Or are they being intentionally misleading?

Well, to a certain extent--that extent being to the full degree to which they make unfulfillable promises--yeah, if I was being pedantic about it. I don't think they are completely misleading in that I am certain many candidates do believe strongly in certain issues and are genuinely interested in "fighting" politically for those issues.

With congresspersons, I don't think this problem is as acute as it is with presidents. They make promises that are legislative in nature, and can actually deliver (or be criticized for not delivering).

Unfortunately, campaign promises were adopted into the popular election of presidents, and I think are detrimental for voters and the presidents themselves. Presidents operate within relatively (and sometimes heavily, depending on the political climate) circumscribed spheres of influence. Yes, presidents can (and do) suggest an agenda and even outright offer legislation to Congress, and work to spend political capital to the advancement of that agenda. But, ultimately, Congress has the authority, power, and responsibility where lawmaking that affects the People is concerned. But presidents seem (from the opposite aisle) to receive a lot of unwarranted blame for congressional actions--and then the congressional actors go on to spend many more terms in office.

Where I do believe politicians are being intentionally misleading is on the campaign trail, specifically where contenders take on incumbents and criticize them for mostly legislative actions that are beyond their control, instead of for executive actions. If Mr. Romney wants to attack Mr. Obama for the ways in which he is executing the law, or representing the policies of the nation to other heads of state, etc., okay. But when he attacks the President for things that happened in Congress, it is fundamentally misleading. It leaves people confused about the structure and organization of government, effectively perpetuating the same cycle.


Yes, the Patriot Act sucks, even for many conservatives, but for shit's sake, man up and quit defending him. He had 2 fucking years to make any changes he wanted. Also, the Dems rolled through the entire Patriot Act. So, it seems like your beef is as much with them as with their opponents.


I believe in public schools and guaranteed-issue health insurance more than I believe that the PATRIOT act, which I do not support, is a vitally important issue that is destroying the republic with each passing minute. If we were, instead of making it easier for the FBI to unaccountably streamline judicial oversight --- which, again, is bad --- if we were instead interning Japanese people in camps, or blacklisting people from civil service jobs for supporting unions --- my judgement would be different.

These are, of course, my private political beliefs, and not at all relevant to the thread. They are the kind of thing you get, as opposed to details of the actual bill we're ostensibly discussing, when ask someone on a message board thread to "man up and quit defending" a candidate for office.


Ok, fair enough. You covered a lot in that comment, and I think I agree with a lot of it, even though I'm conservative.

And, my opinion on who/what is destroying our "republic with each passing minute" is much different than yours, but that's why we live here. :)

I agree, this convo has completely diverted from the original thread topic, but my comment was in response to your comment about civil liberties, etc. I'm happy to listen in to the other stuff, but when you venture out into other political philosophies, be prepared to debate. I don't care how smart you think you are :).

But, I stick by my original statement of, "man up and quit defending him." My gut tells me you're somewhere in-between, like I am, but only you can answer that...


I have a lot of respect for conservatives. I am most definitely not one of them, but many of my smartest friends are. I think conservatives are wrong; I don't think that they are part of a secret plot to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

My mindset qualifies as "in between" on the Internet, but I am probably about as close to a mainstream Democrat as you could find in the real world.


I'm curious...My entire extended family is "traditional Democrat" yet they live conservatively with the values of conservatives not liberals. Yet they insist on voting straight Democrat, as if Jfk were in office. What is it about the Democratic party that you're attracted to? You've mentioned education and health care before...is that all?


I'm socially liberal and believe in a carefully regulated free market, as well. I don't think civil liberties are an issue that bind strongly to either party; there are principled advocates for civil liberties coming from both directions.


>What is it about the Democratic party that you're attracted to?

What choice is there? The republican party has gone bat shit insane and no one believes in third party voting.


Technically he never had a supermajority of Democrats in the Senate. It was only with caucusing with independents that they could break the 60 vote threshold to end filibusters.

They had a caucused supermajority in the Senate from:

July 8th, 2009 - August 25, 2009 and September 25, 2009 - February 4, 2010

Or about 4 months to make any change he wanted (that the caucus which included Joe Lieberman, an extreme defense hawk, and Arlen Spector who just switched parties, approved).


what political hand that he was dealt? A huge victory in the election along with a huge majority in the House and a super majority in the Senate? Yeah that's a rough hand to be dealt.


no reading of the actual facts could lead someone to the informed belief that Obama's DOJ and NSA are worse than Bush's, or, for that matter, Clinton's or Bush I's.

Oh? What about everything related to civil liberties going severely downhill since Bush? Take the NSA "spy center" in Utah we're all aware of by now. How's that for Change You Can Believe In?

Now, why is it that whenever there's a post about the US government being up to no good, you are all over the place defending the government or making things seem less serious, or like this time, just mixing things up?

Are you some kind of perception management agent or what?

Last time there was a post that um.. required your intervention, the thread was like half-full of your posts. Seriously. What the fuck? What are you doing?

Everyone who lives in reality knows you've got quite a police state going on over there. Everyone knows your government is totally owned by Wall Street and other elites [1]. Everyone knows your police force is full of thugs that tase people to death for fun. Countless Americans have had their houses fraudulently foreclosed on by the banks.

America is swirling down the drain. What the hell are you trying to accomplish here on Hacker News by trying to polish the turd of reality?

[1] Well, except for Ron Paul and a couple of other people.


I just wanted to say that you need to calm down and address the issue here. He is obviously an avid follower of this type of bill and he pays attention to the news and likes to post his opinion here.

I'd like you to watch this video and see if you might fall into this category. I know that I frequently do.

http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_...

Would you define reality as what the media is telling you or do you have experience living in America? I'm just not sure, but your post implied that you don't live here and get many of your facts from the news. That doesn't give an accurate representation of life in America.


get many of your facts from the news. That doesn't give an accurate representation of life in America.

Nope. Quite the contrary. I'm aware that the main stream media is mostly just a tool for controlling the masses. The issue here was tptacek always rushing in to defend The Establishment in whatever is happening.


An easy way to always sound like you're defending the establishment in threads like these is to read the bill before commenting. I don't mean this in a snarky way at all; I'm not saying "you could only oppose this bill if you haven't read it". I oppose the bill. But because I've also read the bill, I cannot project onto it as broadly as most of the thread can.


This entire post is nothing but ad hominem attacks linked together by straw man arguments.


> Oh? What about everything related to civil liberties going severely downhill since Bush?

Can you please provide some citations/examples? I'm not sure a new NSA datacenter is enough evidence of "everything related to civil liberties going severely downhill."


How about the NDAA, which allows for treating American citizens as "enemy combatants"?


No, the NDAA did not allow the President to do that. The 2002 AUMF that started the Iraq War did. What Obama's detractors are mad about W.R.T. the NDAA --- apart from the ones who don't understand what the NDAA is, and believe that it is actually a bill that specifically authorizes the President to bomb people from drones --- what they're mad about is that Obama did not VETO the NDAA in order to RESCIND the authority that the executive ALREADY HAD from the AUMF.

Vetoing the NDAA, which passes every year, would have involved not paying soldiers. In the United States, it's the legislative branch, not the executive, that gets to decide the terms on which we pay people.


No, the NDAA did not allow the President to do that. The 2002 AUMF that started the Iraq War did.

It seems both did.

what they're mad about is that Obama did not VETO the NDAA in order to RESCIND the authority that the executive ALREADY HAD from the AUMF.

You say it like there's nothing wrong with the authority to detain citizens at will because it was already in place.

Also, what I said about your behavior is accurate. You always do spring into action whenever bad things The Establishment does are discussed.

Why is that? For example in this case, it doesn't really matter that the AUMF had already "legalized" something that just should not happen at all. The point is that nasty shit is afoot. It's irrelevant exactly how and when your government "authorized" itself to do it.

Vetoing the NDAA, which passes every year, would have involved not paying soldiers.

Your "defense" budget could certainly use a hefty cut, but then you might have (even more) trouble maintaining your global Empire.

But surely they could work around this issue if they wanted to de-authorize the government from shipping any old innocent bystander (or unharmonious troublemaker, as the case would be) off to Guantanamo on a whim.


Further it is merely the next logical step from the "get all the data" boxes put at AT&T and other teleco POPs under Bush, which was a logical extension of ECHELON from Bush Sr. and Clinton.


The thing is, I don't think Obama has cut any of the stuff Bush added. So if he's made things even a little bit worse than it's the worst ever...


I think you think wrong. For instance, look up what ACLU said about executive branch restrictions on PATRIOT Act surveillance mechanisms.


QoTD: "America is swirling down the drain. What the hell are you trying to accomplish here on Hacker News by trying to polish the turd of reality?"

See also: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/iraq-war-on-terror/t...


Your statement is ridiculous - by your own logic Obama took it from them and then assault is continued by his government.


Did you read the bill?


I haven't read this specific bill, but parent's comment was a meta-comment about policy and is not specifically about this bill. I was strong Obama supporter, but my opinion has changed.


Do you have an opinion about this bill as it pertains to civil liberties, or are you just commenting because of an ambient concern about Obama's handling of civil liberties?

If you do have an opinion about the bill, will you consider reading it?


I'm commenting because of a well-defined concern about current goverment's handling of civil liberties in a comment thread not specific to this bill.


Everybody, let's just read the bills together:

Lieberman-Collins “Cybersecurity Act of 2012: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s3414/text

"Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011" aka CISPA: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3523/text

This link is about an Executive Order, which I cannot find a link to the text, but this is getting there: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/241/3026867/White-House-draf...

Now that we are all on the same page, let's debate it.


If you're going to actually read these (and you should, if you care about computer security regulation, but maybe not otherwise since these really aren't far-reaching bills), note that the final CISPA bill the house voted on had several amendments not in the base text; for instance, the final version explicitly struck mention of "intellectual property protection" (not because the House caved, but because the House meant something different by IP protection than what everyone took the text to mean)


Interestingly, since Obama is "democrat" he can easily push right-wing changes and get away with it. His supporters then go "he is a good guy, but evil republicans forced him to". If any republican would try it, there would be strong outcry.

There is a good article at Political Compass: http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2012

(Also, take the test, you'll be surprised.)


Have you guys read Lieberman-Collins? It's linked from the story. You should, if this EO is truly an indicator of Obama's retreat on civil liberties, easily be able to point out clauses from the bill that make that point.

I've read it. I don't think it'll be as easy as these comments make it sound.


Have you read linked Political Comapass article? It provides enough other indicators. First sentence is priceless though: This is a US election that defies logic and brings the nation closer towards a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state.


I do not understand what that "Political Compass" article has to do with computer security legislation in general, let alone with the Lieberman-Collins bill in particular. That doesn't mean they have nothing to do with each other, but you probably need to explain the connection a little bit more.


That was a terrible quiz for several reasons.

1) Some of the questions simply don't make sense, i.e. "Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries." The what resources?

2) It completely conflates personal beliefs with those I would want to see forced upon society at large.

3) Some of the questions have totally ambiguous interpretations in terms of the two given axes. If I agree with "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth", does that make me more or less authoritarian? What about "Abstract art that doesn't represent anything shouldn't be considered art at all"?

Also, the points assigned to famous political figures are totally arbitrary. Neither Hitler nor Hu Jintao have taken this quiz, so the author is simply making up answers for them.


Re: 1, the "plant genetic resources", I believe that's in respect to Monsanto's tendency to patent particular strains of seeds ("Round-up Ready" means that the pesticides won't kill the plants), and then leverage the legal system (or money) to ensure that their seeds become the only seeds used in the area.

Many agrarian cultures have a history of seed sharing and seed saving, which Monsanto seed (and lawyers) prevents. Over time, the poor nation of Elbonia's farmers cannot plant anything _but_ Monsanto seeds (as they have no uncontaminated seed banks, and their Monsanto crops are sterile). At that point, the country is entirely dependent on a multinational corporation in order to grow food. They have no seeds (genetic resources for plants) with which to plant new crops, to breed with other plants to make disease or drought-resistant hybrids, and in general a collection of diverse breeds of that particular plant are in time replaced with a single breed.

Some would argue that this sort of behavior is unethical and abhorrent. There are frequent stories from farmers of being bullied by Monsanto, which makes this an even easier opinion to hold.

Others point out that without GMO seeds, it would be very hard for some of these countries to plant __enough__ crops to feed themselves, regardless of diversity. From a standpoint of feeding a planet, that argument seems to carry some weight as well. It's a complex issue.


They answer a lot of stuff in FAQ: http://www.politicalcompass.org/faq

As for 1), it is indeed terribly worded, my guess they refer to companies patenting DNA sequences and then requiring a payment for the exported food,nbut obviously there are multiple interpretations. May be it's worder this way on purpose. :)


Every time someone posts one of those "world's most biased" libertarian political quizes, I tend to link to the New and Improved World's Greatest Political Quiz:

http://www.boogieonline.com/revolution/politics/humor/quiz.h...


I agree that Obama has been shameful re: civil liberties...so have recent Republicans. But please hold your denigration from the Democrats. They don't care. At all. 95% of Congress doesn't care. At all. Regarding Nixon in China, you need to read up on your history. For all of Nixon's faults (and they could build a mighty big Five Guys burger's worth)...the fact is that he opened up China for the first time ever for this country. That is the big deal. So, your implication is that Obama has done the same for our civil liberties? Are you implying that Nixon sacrificed our civil liberties in order to dialogue with the Chinese? I'm not even sure what you're implying. Please enlighten me.


In political circles it is thought that a Democrat president could never have been the first to go to China because they would have been accused of supporting communists. Only a Republican president could do it because he was insulated from attacks from the right. The idea I was trying to express in my comment is that Obama can go further to attack civil liberties because the left won't criticize him. When Bush was president liberals would frequently criticize civil liberties issues, nowadays they are silent.


In political circles, throughout the whole history of the word's existence, we don't say "Democrat president" -- it's Democratic. As in the Democratic Party. The opponent of the Republican Party.

Why?

Democratic is an adjective. Thus, it modifies nouns like president, party, congressperson, senator, carl-the-carpenter ... they're all democratic [insert noun], not democrat [insert noun]. When using the noun form, it is democrat. But nouns do not modify nouns. So we never, ever, ever say "democrat president". We say Democratic president.

It's apparently confusing because republican is both a noun and an adjective. But democratic and democrat are distinct.

Mr. Obama is a Democrat. [noun] Mr. Obama is a Democratic president. [adjective]

Suggested corrections:

> In political circles it is thought that a Democratic president could never have been the first to go to China because they would have been accused of supporting communists. Only a Republican president could do it because he was insulated from attacks from the right.

or

> In political circles it is thought that a Democrat could never have been the first to go to China because they would have been accused of supporting communists. Only a Republican could do it because he was insulated from attacks from the right.


There is that somewhat famous quote by Joseph de Maistre that translates to "every nation gets the government it deserves".

Judging on the government that America currently has, and recently had, I am starting to wonder if the American People really are so bad as to truly deserve that....


It's more of a 'Wilson pushes for WWI despite having campaigned against it' moment.




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