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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.


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.


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:


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


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".


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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