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Obama Promises Disappear from Web (sunlightfoundation.com)
657 points by 1337biz on July 26, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments

I see this as largely coincidental, and nothing nefarious. If you follow the link from the page to the archived version [1], look among the dozens of subjects, click on Ethics, scroll down to near the bottom of the page, you'll see the single paragraph he's referring to. It makes up for about 0.1% of the total content. It's unlikely the administration took down an entire website just to hide Obama's whistleblower promises.

What's more likely is that that, since Hope/Change was the old slogan and "Forward" has replaced it as the new slogan, it's time to take down the old site because it's simply outdated.

C'mon guys let's show a little critical thought and stop looking for conspiracies where they don't exist. It's bad for our credibility. Things are bad enough as it is with the stuff the NSA is actually doing.

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20130515024407/http://change.gov/...

Indeed, we should not think of 2007-Obama, 2008-Obama and 2012-Obama as the same people. What one said can't be held against the other.

Let's take that one step further. The October 2012 Obama and the January 2013 Obama were apparently entirely different people. In fact he didn't just change - during the 2012 campaign, he actively lied. He made statements about how transparent his government is and how he is all about protecting our rights etc., while presiding over programs in direct conflict with those statements.

I hope you are being sarcastic...

>It's unlikely the administration took down an entire website just to hide Obama's whistleblower promises.

No, they did it to hide ALL the promises and old texts.

>What's more likely is that that, since Hope/Change was the old slogan and "Forward" has replaced it as the new slogan, it's time to take down the old site because it's simply outdated.

Yes, clearly in the US now, hope and change are outdated. We must just go forward as things are.

Are you seriously accepting this graciously? This marketing BS is exactly the kind of thing politicians do when they are not for real, but BS marketeers and spin doctors.

>C'mon guys let's show a little critical thought and stop looking for conspiracies where they don't exist.

Emm, what conspiracy? This is what BS politicians do all the time. Retract their promises and update the websites so that people are not reminded of them.

>C'mon guys let's show a little critical thought and stop looking for conspiracies where they don't exist.

What conspiracy? The administration retracted a policy. Politicians do this all the time.

I suspect that you are right about this being innocuous. What I think makes this a "hot" story is not the intentionality, but that it reminds us how divorced campaign promises are from the actions a president takes in office.

gets on soap-box

Maybe the candidates aren't even lying outright. Maybe it's like when I'm estimating programming effort: I can really really believe in the estimate I give, but unless I look at how long similar projects took me or others in the past, the planning fallacy[1] gets me every. single. time. A similar thing for candidates would probably be to look at how much actual change previous presidents were able to bring about and assume that those presidents were just as smart and trying just as hard.

Of course even with a realistic estimate, there is another problem I constantly run into, and I imagine candidates do as well: Once you have a realistic estimate of what you can do, how do you compete with someone who over-promises?

One thing I found with programming is that clients who were previously burned by over-promising are somewhat inoculated against it. This doesn't seem to be the case for elections though. Does anybody have any other ideas?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_fallacy

I also agree that this is coincidental. There is no reason to connect what a politician says they represent with what they actually represent.

A more innocent website would involve a random slogan generator.

It's unlikely there was intent to cover something up regarding Obama's whistleblower promises because it's unlikely there was ever any connection between his promises and his actions.

It would have been much more appropriate if the site had instead been archived.

If the change.gov's messaging weren't so contradictory to current reality, it would have made a great feature to any current "forward" content.

Have the qualifications for "conspiracy" been gradually ratcheted down until it's just synonymous with "implying that someone in government did something without the public's best interests at heart"?

I'm not sure how taking down your own website because some of its positions don't accord with your current actions counts as either far-fetched or a conspiracy.

I have a fool-proof way to test your retarded theory: (and I call it retarded only because its the best word in the modern human lexicon to discuss such topics of self-delusion)

Why don't we make a non-stop replaying channel of all the ridiculous bullshit propaganda campaign promises that Obama (and all other campaigning politicians) tells us, for everyone to see. Make it time-stamped, tagged, listed, searchable and correlated to their current actions - let people vote comment and review all things said.

After all - are we not for open-source code, which allows us to review for bugs and malicious code?

We need open-source politics that allows for the same.

What do you think the wayback machine is? As for calling other posters retarded (and a poster who is generally on the same side as you on these issues, at that) - don't.

>What do you think the wayback machine is?

A generic, difficult to navigate, seriously lacking in content, website?

Nothing at all like what he said, except the "archives old webpages" part.

I didn't call him retarded, I called his theory retarded, I called him self-deluded.

Retarded is really the best word you could come up with?

Most mentally retarded people I've met are quite aware that they're significantly less smart than the average person, and have internalized it quite well. Have you ever seen an 8-year-old burst into tears because the rest of his class can read, but he can't, no matter how hard he tries?

Unfortunately, self-delusion generally isn't one of the ways mental retardation presents.

That was cool of you to write this. Most people let that word just go by.

I thought that was what Daily Show was.

no, that was only when Bush Light was in office.

I've noticed this too, to some extent. and I don't think its purely because of the President's party. TDS writers and Jon used to work hard to hold politicians feet to the fire no matter their party, and in the past few years I've seen them become increasingly outright liberal.

Sure, that change happened around the same time as Obama, but I argue that the Daily Show of old would have been less coddling to the current administration.

I was thinking the same thing.

what do you think the nsa has really been up to all this time?

This is a simple discovery, but an important one. Change.gov was the President's official transition website, and included a vision for his presidency. It's a central piece of the historical record of the US, and they yanked it from the Internet.

It doesn't matter whether or not the Administration was trying to remove something specific: taking down the content at Change.gov is un-American and un-Internet.

I'm curious. What's un-American about it?

I can see the whole "un-internet" aspect, becuase after all "cool urls don't change", but un-American?

In theory, the shared narrative of America is rooted in Enlightenment values, including a respect for reason, education and history. The lack of a proactive attempt to preserve that history, let alone to erase it intentionally, goes against the principles of the Age of Reason.

In practice, obviously, this story is at best an ideal we strive for, and that we only achieve partially or intermittently.

Ah I see what you mean, though the argument could be made that people treat the internet like casual verbal communication. There's nothing to preserve because its supposed to be ephemeral.

Partially, intermittently or accidentally.

Side note: does this mean xkcd's "Time" is un-internet?

Never fear, the Wayback Machine is here. http://web.archive.org/web/20130608162024/http://change.gov/...

I wrote about this 31 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5933806

But is this news surprise to you??

We needs to focus on jobs and middle class and stop wasting time on phony scandals!!

[1] http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/24/obama-repeats-carneys-phon...

This comes after:

- IRS scrutinizing and unconstitutionally profiling people while spending $5MM on "trainings", shutting down operators due to gov cuts while giving contractors 80MM in bonues? phony scandal!!

- 4 US Officials dead in Benghazi almost 1 years ago, no answers, no credibility (people in charge promoted) phony scandal!!

- 1 US Official dead, hundreds of people dead mostly on Mexico soil after DOJ's Fast And Furious mismanage? phony scandal!!

- DOJ spending time on possible civil lawsuit against Zimmerman, while since the tragedy at least 600 murders done by one race on another in Chicago alone. phony scandal!!

- NSA spying on all americans and foreginers intercepting all possible traffic illegally unlawfully and unconstitutionally? phony scandal!!

- Salandra: hundreds of millions given without proper checks to Presidents friends? phony scandal!!

I think this is sensational, but it got me looking around the archive[1], and it's a pretty good read.


Improve Intelligence Capacity and Protect Civil Liberties

* Improve Information Sharing and Analysis: Improve our intelligence system by creating a senior position to coordinate domestic intelligence gathering, establishing a grant program to support thousands more state and local level intelligence analysts, and increasing our capacity to share intelligence across all levels of government.

* Give Real Authority to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board: Support efforts to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board with subpoena powers and reporting responsibilities. Give the Board a robust mandate designed to protect American civil liberties and demand transparency from the Board to ensure accountability.

* Strengthen Institutions to Fight Terrorism: Establish a Shared Security Partnership Program overseas to invest $5 billion over three years to improve cooperation between U.S. and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies.


He f'ing nailed 2 of those.

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20130425003939/http://change.gov/...

Don't forget this one:

* New Capabilities to Aggressively Defeat Terrorists: Improve the American intelligence apparatus by investing in its capacity to collect and analyze information, share information with other agencies and carry out operations to disrupt terrorist networks.

This is what blows my mind about some of these people. They act as though Obama said he was going to legalize weed, stop all wars, and turn America into an orgyistic utopia. When in fact he basically did what he said he was going to do: be a hawk on foreign policy in a more intelligent way. Rather than getting involved in long, drawn out ground wars he resorts to drones and things like stuxnet.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Whistleblowers are frequently viewed by people who disagree with them as whiners, complainers, disgruntled people with axes to grind, and frequently they are all those things, often with nothing more than circumstantial or spurious claims.

Not everyone's a Snowden.

> One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

That quote also means that the man is still a terrorist.

only as a function of the observer

So just to be clear, President Obama's staff took down a transition website that was primarily a link to whitehouse.gov, and this is somehow a scandal because of one of many campaign promises included on the site?

Sure, I guess it could be some sort of conspiracy, but it's equally possible his staff wanted to consolidate web presence. The title on the other hand, implies some direct connection to the whistleblower segment, which has no supporting evidence.

Well, it did happen two days after the first Snowden revelations. What support for "web consolidation" have you found to continue to correlate them as "equally possible" in light of that timing?

"When one knew that any document was due for destruction... it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away..."

You know, ending the mass surveilling would be a huge achievement on its own (probably by repealing the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act) - but what I'd really like is to get so much support from the people and the Congress, to eventually impeach him. Now that would remain in history, and would teach future presidents a lesson about overextending themselves with the spying. Obviously people like Alexander, Clapper and Holder would be gone in the next second, too, and the FISA Court disbanded.

Alexander is an extremely powerful, dangerous man. His removal should first priority.

While I agree, is there any reason to expect different behavior from a replacement?

Even scarier than a single corrupt tyrant, or even a cabal of "shadow government" figures, is the possibility that these institutions have taken on a life of their own, independent from any one actor.


Regular civics reminder: the Executive is supposed to be the weakest of the three branches of government when it comes to domestic issues. If you want a president who's decent at his/her job (foreign affairs, proposing policy), but don't want him/her meddling with domestic affairs, elect a better congress.

This means actually going out to vote in primaries and main elections at the city, county, state, and federal level. All of these determine how much influence and power the federal government has, and whether or not they're doing a good job.

It's true that finding useful information on most candidates is impossible at the moment, but that's solvable.

So his supporters are right. He does keep his promises.


By slowly removing the ones he hasn't kept from the list.

Too bad people save pages offline. That does not go unnoticed nowadays.

We have always been at war with whistleblowers.

It has always been a loaded issue, and it has never been clear-cut. Think of it this way; whistleblowing is similar to spying in many regards. Perhaps the most important differentiator- intent- is neither a perfect defense nor easy to prove.

What about the "change we can believe in"?

I dunno.

Pretty sure we've always been at war with Eastasia.


I think we're passed the point where someone on the internet needs to clarify they made a 1984 reference.

If you believed in it back then, you are gullible enough to keep believing in it now.

What you're saying doesn't make any sense to me. Obama said different things than other people said in 2008, including Hillary. It didn't make anyone who believed that Obama meant it gullible, especially looking at his history. And it doesn't AT ALL mean that anyone who believed him then would continue to believe him after he went against his promises.

He went against his promises many, many times. And he still was re-elected. Which drives me to the conclusion that his voters are gullible enough to still believe in "we're going to change Washington" - even though the person promising the change is has been in charge for years and the only change was to the worse. There was absolutely nothing to indicate that Obama is not a regular politician that would promise to change everything and change nothing. So I regard people that genuinely believed that would happen as gullible. Of course, some voted for him because of certain zero-sum agenda ("he'll take money/power from them and give to us") or because he's "our guy" and not "their guy" - those are not among the gullible ones, as both do not imply you actually believe whatever the politician says, only that he would deliver the good in terms of giving the power/money. For some people, that worked splendidly, they are not gullible at all.

>he still was re-elected. Which drives me to the conclusion that his voters are gullible enough to still believe in "we're going to change Washington"

There were actually many who were disappointed by 2012, and I am not aware of anyone (even Obama) who still discussed or believed that the 2012 campaign was about "changing Washington", as was the 2008 campaign. Even his campaign slogan had changed to reflect this. That election was more a repudiation of Romney than some zealous continuing belief in change.

I mean, really, do you think the sort of person who would desire the type of change that Obama promised in 2008, would then vote for Romney?

>there was absolutely nothing to indicate that Obama is not a regular politician that would promise to change everything and change nothing

Seriously? Everything about the man suggested he was different. From his work as a community organizer, to his own experience and background, to his writings, to the fact that he would be the first African-American president, virtually everything about the man was different from a "regular politician".

Not to mention the striking contrast with W.

If ever there was a time in recent political history for Americans to cast off their well-justified cynicism regarding politicians it was with Barack Obama in 2008.

Not to mention the striking contrast with W

Really? Because I have trouble finding even a hair's breadth of difference between the two. I'm serious about this: if you eliminate rhetoric and presentation from the equation, and examine only the actions of the two men, I find it very difficult to discern any contrast whatsoever.

While I wouldn't go quite as far as to say "not a hair's breath of difference between the two", I will say that there hasn't turned out to be as much of a difference as I would have liked in some areas. And, certainly not as much as was advertised.

And, that advertising is the point here. The parent was arguing that people had no reason to believe that he was different at that time (without the benefit of hindsight). But, based on "rhetoric", "presentation", raw intelligence, proposed policy positions, etc., there certainly seemed to be a striking difference between Bush and Obama.

>>>> to the fact that he would be the first African-American president,

Exactly. The only thing suggested that he's in any way different is his skin color. Take that away, and he'd be the most regular politician, with nothing to distinguish him from hundreds of others that can artfully read calculated words from a teleprompter. I purposefully did not mention that because I think being of unusual skin color for a president is a personal accomplishment, but I agree that many people voted for him because of that, and this is "our guy" thing. It is sad that this is considered to be qualifying for the "leader of the free world", but that's what we have now. However, it in no way, shape or form - unless you subscribe to a racist notion that skin color determines behavior - suggests that his politics would be in any way different than usual. So the mere fact that you bring this as the indication that suggested his politics would be different is deeply symptomatic.

>>>> From his work as a community organizer

His work as community organizer was largely undistinguished[1]. You see it mentioned a lot as "he was great community organizer" but notice how many times you see it actually reported of what he achieved? I don't say he did nothing - he did some things that were helpful to some people, but nothing in those three years that distinguishes him an any way as being "everything different".

[1] http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/225564/what-did-obama...

>>> to his own experience and background,

His youth experience is largely unremarkable, except for the fact that while he did drugs with gusto when he was young, he still continues the insane war on drugs, and has absolutely no problem with doing it. Other than that, completely unremarkable mix of youthful dabbling in marxism and other trendy lefty things, mixed with occasional support from despicable creatures like Ayers.

As for his background, he's a mixed-race Hawaiian who was educated in Indonesia and Hawaii and was presenting himself as Kenyan when it was needed to sell books, but reverting to being American when he decided to go into politics. What's remarkably different about it that suggests his politics would be radically different? Again, except for his race (for whatever reason, mixed-race politicians seem to be statistically rare) I don't see much.

>>> Not to mention the striking contrast with W.

He's a liberal while Bush was a conservative. So of course his politics is different from Bush's. But his politics in no way different from any left liberal's. And all his objections to Bush's expansion of the government on the wake of 9/11 turned to be purely partisan gamesmanship, just as for many other liberals.

>However, it in no way, shape or form - unless you subscribe to a racist notion that skin color determines behavior - suggests that hispolitics would be in any way different than usual

This is a naive and remarkably shallow statement. His skin color has certainly contributed a great deal to his experience and experience informs our politics for all of us. Listen to his comments on the Zimmeman verdict. When people (of all races) felt he was "their guy" it is in part because of a certain "underdog" association we assign to minorities in a majority culture. And it is reasonable to expect a certain sensitivity from a person whose culture has experienced its share of struggle.

His work as a community organizer was more an indication of his character and concern for those who were struggling. It wasn't about his performance. It was about his heart. And, remember, in 2008 many people were struggling. They felt he related to them.

You stated that his background/experiene is unremarkable, then went on to list many of the reasons it actually is remarkable. I mean, you literally remarked on it. So, apparently we agree.

>And all his objections to Bush's expansion of the government on the wake of 9/11 turned to be purely partisan gamesmanship

That's hindsight. Your original point was that people had no reason to believe he was different back then.

>>> Listen to his comments on the Zimmeman verdict.

His comments on Zimmerman affair in general and the verdict in particular were a transparent effort to earn political scores on the tragedy by fomenting the racial animosity and injecting and supporting suspicions of racism in place where there were absolutely no evidence of it. This, however, is not a function of Obama's skin color - as such reprehensible behavior is unfortunately common among politicians of certain sort, of varied skin colors and other physical traits, but united in their persuasion that no good crisis should go to waste and no tragedy should go unharvested to promote a political agenda.

I see absolutely no evidence that Obama had been ever a victim of racial discrimination - even though he famously implied that his own grandmother was a racist as a "typical white person" is, I remember no evidence of him actually being victim of any racial discrimination that informed or influenced his politics.

So I see no evidence that his skin color suggested his politics would be transformatively different - or any different at all.

>>> His work as a community organizer was more an indication of his character and concern for those who were struggling.

It's indication that we wanted to be a politician and needed a launching pad. Since he was late for the great civil rights movement, he had to find something else to get him started, and Chicago CCRC needed someone who was black to lead projects in black communities, so Obama was a perfect match. But as soon as he could move on, he moved on.

>>> It wasn't about his performance. It was about his heart.

No it was not. It was about making himself into a political figure, at which he succeeded. As for his heart, I do not know his private life and how he is when he is among his family - it may be that he is a very warm, open-hearted, charming and overall nicest person around. But one can be sure that when he's on the political stage "heart" has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and any time he talks about any emotional matters - it is a calculated attempt to manipulate audience into agreeing with him. It is what politicians do. It is for what their speechwriters get big bucks paid. He may be one thing or another, but he is certainly not example of open-hearted sincerity. One can see it plainly, but if you can not - look up what people that knew him early but have no reason to cover for him tell about him. He's a politician, and that says it all.

>>>> then went on to list many of the reasons it actually is remarkable. I mean, you literally remarked on it.

Come on. Describing somebody's experience does not make it remarkable - everybody has a biography. Remarkable biography should have achievements that raise one over the others.

>>>> Your original point was that people had no reason to believe he was different back then.

Because to anybody that is not blinded by the "first African American president" thing it was quite clear that he has neither abilities nor qualities nor desire to bring any change beyond saying the words that need to be said to manipulate gullible people into believing him. He was never a transformational leader he was presented to be and absolutely nothing in his career or history pointed to him as a transformational leader. So no wonder he didn't become one.

BTW, if anyone was unreasonable about their expectations that he'd be different, it was those who were afraid. They believed he would take their guns, was a Communist, not born in the U.S., raised taxes when he actually lowered them, etc.

They were so made afraid about the difference he would make that they formed a party to "take their country back". And, they continued to believe in wild conspiracy theories, even in the face of plain facts to the contrary. This wasn't some small fringe, but a fairly broad swath of the opposition, fueled by fear-mongering politicians on the right.

Maybe you should look into that.

>>> They believed he would take their guns

He's still trying to undermine both gun ownership and self-defense rights. He is now vocally opposing Stand Your Ground - the principle he himself supported and helped strengthening while in the state senate by sponsoring a law: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/354059/obama-voted-stre...

He is still advocating severely limiting and restricting access to guns. It's not his fault that it is politically impractical right now. He is trying as hard as he can.

>>> raised taxes when he actually lowered them, etc.

He did raise taxes. It took him a while but you can't say he did not - it's just not true. What is true he didn't raise taxes for everybody - but he did raise taxes for some. And he's and his party still are advocating even more tax raises. Again, the fact that it yet didn't happened is not his fault - he did all he could to raise taxes even more, but he is not a dictator, so the Congress did not allow him to go further.

>>> And, they continued to believe in wild conspiracy theories, even in the face of plain facts to the contrary

Now you are equating people who oppose Obama due to disagreement with his politics (a tiny bit less than a half of a country) with a tiny minority that believes in conspiracy theories. Do you really think it will go unnoticed? When you attempt sleight of hand, it should not be this obvious.

He did not sweep in and take everyone's guns as was the meme at the time. People were literally stockpiling AR-15s and ammo because they believed this.

Stand Your Ground is a horrible law that's ripe for abuse. That's become more evident since his days in the State Senate. Likewise, there wasn't a "shooting spree of the month" at the time. Things have changed, and I would want someone who can reassess and change his position when conditions require. Still, the main point is that conservatives believed in change as much as progressives. It is just the flip side of the same coin: progressives welcomed the change to gun laws and conservatives were rabidly opposed to it. That's the case with much of this discussion.

Regarding taxes, the point is that many on the right (especially Tea-partiers) believed their taxes were higher even when he had actually lowered them across the board. They literally named themselves after a tax revolt because they were so angry that he was raising taxes when in truth he'd lowered them.

How cartoonish is that? But, that was the extent to which they, also, believed in "change". Even facts couldn't sway them from their doggedly held beliefs that he was a socialist who was taxing them to give money to poor people.

Finally, it is far from a "tiny minority" who believed that he was a socialist, outright communist, muslim (as if that were inherently evil), non-U.S. born, etc.

For instance a 2011 CBS poll showed that 45% of Republicans believed he was born in another country.

These conspiracy theories and right wing attacks to paint him as "other" were clearly successful and they contributed greatly to the sense that this man was, indeed, different. For a progressive who was on the fence about whether he was different, the rabid fear and irrational reaction of the right served as evidence that maybe this man was legitimately about change if he so irked the right.

That you act as if none of this happened is incredible. Funny that you mentioned "sleight of hand".

You are changing the subject here to all of the reasons you don't like Obama. Your original point was that there was no reason for people to expect that he'd be different from any other politician.

Every piece of information that I give you to that effect is turned into a rant about how Obama is a racist, opportunist, etc. OK, we get it. You don't like Obama.

Beyond that, you are simply backing into your conclusion that he was no differerent. Sure, if you take every piece of anyone's life and look for a cynical explanation, you can find it. I mean, John Kerry's Purple Hearts were turned into badges of shame. And, you see no evidence that Obama has ever been the victim of racial discrimination when he told you he has. You just see what fits your conclusion. But, you haven't been with him every day of his life. Of course, if he did share more of such details, you would accuse him of "fomenting more racism" and of being an "opportunist".

And that was my point in bringing up his Zimmerman comments. He was sharing some of his experience with all of us, with regard to what it is like to be an African-American man. Of course this is a different set of experiences from any other president we have had. That was relevant to the original point. Again, you missed that point and started ranting about why you thought he made those comments.

You say you don't know Obama's heart, yet you are certain that he became a community organizer for fully political purposes and didn't care about the people in the community. You say that every emotional utterance that comes out of the man's mouth is political. He is a sociopathic robot (although he may be "warm" in his personal life). You offer no evidence to support this and, in fact, state yourself that you cannot know the man's heart. Yet, you are so certain that you're right because you and Fox News say so. You bring no evidence. Just conjecture and conclusions.

Look, I cannot know what's in his head or heart, and I certainly have had my own disappointments with this president. But, it is ridiculous to assert that there wasn't anything different about this man or that it was unreasonable for people to have a hope that he was actually different. Again, even in giving his "biography" you magically hit upon everything that makes the man different, but say it is unremarkable. I didn't choose the items you ticked off. You did. And, in doing so, you outlined the same rationale as the "believers". You just drew a different conclusion AND you're aided by hindsight.

Even his opponents fed into the notion with all of this fear mongering about socialism, "taking their country back", etc. They painted him as this "other" of which we should all be afraid. Of course, it backfired as it helped to sell the idea that maybe this man really would be transformational. Hell, they even tried to trot out those same tired lines about socialism, etc. in 2012 when it was clear that he wasn't the bogeyman they made him out to be.

You can stick your head in the sand and pretend that the atmosphere in 2008 was other than what it was. But, I wouldn't be surprised if you were one of those who was scared out of your mind of what a difference this man might actually make.

Believe me, if I wrote all the reasons I dislike Obama, it would be comparable in size to a George Martin novel. Yes, I dislike him. But that does not make what I say about him untrue - in fact, the reason I dislike him is exactly because these things are true, I don't have any personal animosity towards him. But these not all the reasons - these are only the reasons why anybody who is willing to look clearly into things and go beyond propaganda should have expected Obama not to be a transformational leader. Which he is not. If you persist in the opinion that all signs were pointing at him being transformational, but it somehow didn't work out (I'm sure it was Bush's fault or Tea Party fault or anybody else's fault but not his) - well, feel free to believe it. I only hope next time next Obama tries to sell you a bill of goods you remember how well you did on this one.

>>> Yet, you are so certain that you're right because you and Fox News say so.

No, because people who knew him say so, e.g.: http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/03/harvard-law-classmate-law-... And it's not the only place, just try to find somebody who was around him when he wasn't yet a big politician and ask them, or read accounts of those who did.

You bought the same bill of goods that Obama was selling. The only difference is that you didn't like it.

Truth be told, I have reverted to my unhealthy political cynicism post-first term Obama. Unlike you, however, I acknowledge the transformational atmosphere of 2008 that virtually anyone in the country would recognize.

I mentioned the Tea Party and Bush for reasons that I thought I had made clear, but you apparently still miss the point. Has nothing to do with blaming them for him not being transformational, but I don't want to keep repeating myself.

Finally, I hope that you realize how ridiculous it is that you are pointing to some ex-classmate or ex-colleague gossip on The Daily Caller. That is very "Fox News Viewer" of you. This is why Swift-boating works. Just drudge up some old people that knew the target in a past life but don't agree with his politics, and let them spout off what detractors want to hear. Then, canonize that into the truth and its attendant panoply of talking points.

Of course we can dig up plenty of people who say the exact opposite. This is not evidence of anything. What did he do or not do that supports the conclusions you have drawn about him? You are suggesting that people were foolish to believe he was different because there's no evidence that he would be. Yet, you offer no evidence that he would not be. It's just these declarations that he is not who he says because you, Fox News, and (now) some guys/gals he knew years ago say so.

>>> I think being of unusual skin color for a president is a personal accomplishment

I meant "is not a personal accomplishment".

Neither version of that statement is relevant to the discussion. We were talking about the reasons people might have expected him to be different.

Well, to be fair Romney was confused by his own lies even before being elected. When the choice was between Romney, who clearly wiggled to satisfy every group and failed to take a stand for at least something, and Obama, who at least could articulate his position, many voted for known lesser evil.

Radicalization of the right wing basically made republicans unelectable, and on top of that pushed mainstream democrats severely right when they try to grab centrist republican votes. System is not working as intended, politicians are fine, people loose. On other hand in two-party state over time both parties degrade beyond point of distinction fighting for 1% of centrist votes anyway.

You seem to claim both that Republicans are radicalized to the point of being unelectable (clearly wrong on the facts, as Republicans control the House and the difference between Obama and Romney vote results was not nearly large enough to deem Republicans "unelectable") and that both parties converge to the point of being indistinguishable. It seems to be pretty hard to reconcile both claims. Fortunately, if you look at the facts both appear to be wrong - Republicans are not more "radical" than they ever were unless you define "radical" as "disagreeing with a point of view I happen to support", they are plenty electable and the differences in parties' approaches can be clearly seen, even though important questions are not always divided along the party lines. For example, among people who favor expansion of government there are many Democrats and many Republicans, though they support it for very different tactical reasons probably.

How likely is it that the pre-pres Obama was as-advertised, but he's now operating with top-level knowledge about the US's place in the power struggles of the world? And that knowledge pushes him to act against some of the friendlier statements he's made in the past?

Could the strength of the US WRT China (for example) be on a knife-edge that warrants the back-pedalling we're seeing?

No no no, you see. He should spend 100% of his time caring about the issues I care about! Forget foreign policy, the economy, a woman's right to choose, equal pay for women, gay rights, gun control, medicare, social security, and immigration. These issues don't concern little old me. I can't be bothered to judge him on multiple issues to come up with a nuanced view of the job he is doing. Removed his transition election website? Corporate fascist political shill!

I agree with the first commenter on the link. This is quite a reach. It's unlikely that the order to take down an old, unmaintained site would have come from someone who's in on some sinister agenda to revise history.

It's not really a reach when you realize how things like this really occur:

It got emailed around or something, and someone who was close enough to a WH staffer or DNC person saw it, and send it along.

They asked their boss what to do, and the answer was "just change the website".

It's not like there was some ordered plan of "first we'll change this, then we'll change the transition site". It's clearly a reactive move to someone noticing, and they didn't expect it to blow up.

The reason it blew up is equally simple. Somewhere in the forward chain, someone was close to sunlight, and sent it to them. The original story was going to be "obama promises things about whistleblowers, breaks his promise", but once it got removed from the website, the much juicier story of "obama revises historical promises" came along.

This is how a lot of things in DC get noticed. There are hundreds of staffers and DNC people and what have you. They also likely have a fairly low degree of separation to someone who would notice this, ...

It seems naive to consider it a coincidence that something so blatantly pro-whistleblower has quietly been removed within the last month. He obviously broke an election promise to protect and encourage whistleblowers who speak out against abuse of authority, making this text a political liability.

This section of the site has been removed and "revised" before, notably in 2008: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/changes-at-cha...

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Change I'm forced to believe in.

Nobody forces you to believe in it. Some people must bear the consequences of too many people choosing to believe in it, though.

"In soviet amerika, Change reads your email"

Throughout the years of my life I have learned of certain inalienable truths. The fact that politicians are not trust-worthy is one of them.

And yet we continue to give them more authority to control our lives as though they were our "better angels".

Politicians are no better than we are. Often, they are worse since a strong desire to control others is often what puts them on the political track.

Obama said the other day, "The government is us, and we're doing things right"


If the government is us, then why are we spying on ourselves? Why can't we get any answers about the NSA spying, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, or even the Fast and Furious gun running scandal?

If we are the government, then we're kind of masochistic.

Can't someone just file a FOIA request to get a copy of the entire website?

(Just in case archive.org or other archivers missed some of it)

Watching US Government since Obama took over, I would rather imagine US gov going after archive.org, first nicely sending C&D, then with help of IRS thoroughly auditing all archive.org employees' files, then if that doesn't help, ask DHS and take over their site and plaster it with nice eagle logo with "DHS seizure" notice on it.

Edit: oh yes we are still in country of freedom and democracy. Archive.org would be welcomed to sue the government; you guys just prepare yourself for couple years of tough fight and make sure you got couple mil in bank for legal fees; oh and of course you cannot operate your site until you get the judgment that you were right and we were wrong, but even then we will appeal and after another couple years, IF and IF supreme court decides on case against us, then we will still put the file under internal "review" (read: put it on hold for couple more years) and then what are you going to do?? Its not like Eric Holder will prosecute... Enric Holder to release your domain back to you.

You may file to your hearts content but what is likely to come of it?

Well? He promised "change," didn't he? It changed.

About this time there occurred a strange incident which hardly anyone was able to understand. One night at about twelve o'clock there was a loud crash in the yard, and the animals rushed out of their stalls. It was a moonlit night. At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. The dogs immediately made a ring round Squealer, and escorted him back to the farmhouse as soon as he was able to walk. None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.

-- George Orwell, Animal Farm

There's something seriously wrong with the entire political system when every single person here is like 'well yeah, he's a politician'.

“Those who seek power are not worthy of that power.”

From NSA to prosecuting reporters for...well...reporting, it is quite clear that one Obama ran for office and a different one actually took office. They are trying to get rid of all the evidence of the many misrepresentations he made in order to get elected, probably so that the next round of Democrats running for office aren't also seen as liars and hypocrites.

Just because you deleted your promise from the web, it does not annul it. A man who does not keep his word (regardless of price) is no man, but a [insert the C word here].

In France we have a saying about politicians' promises: "Les promesses n'engagent que ceux qui les écoutent.", ie. " Promises are binding only to those who listen to them.". It must be a good thing they try to erase them from the web.


All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

We've always been at war with whistleblowers

And that is why you fail.

~Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.~


A classic psychopathic behaviour. Blind your victim with carefully spun web of lies. Distort the reality and then when the time comes, abuse them.

Psychopaths are so good at lying that they self-deceive themselves. They believe their own lies. That's why it's so easy to fall for what they say.

They always fly to the top - be it at corporations, governments, crime organizations. The more psychopathic they are, the higher they get.

The fact that psychopaths and Obama share certain characteristics does not prove that Obama is a psychopath. Yet people continue to suggest that he is, citing the incongruent logic that overlapping characteristics imply equality.

The fundamental problem is not people's flawed logic, but the psychological diagnostic tests. Psychologists broadly categorize most disorders because they cannot find a reliable symptom that also acts as evidence of a disorder. That is, there is no symptom that definitively allows psychologists to say "Patient exhibits Symptom X. Therefore, patient has Disorder Y."

Contrast this to "biological" diseases like viruses or cancers. They exhibit physical evidence as symptoms. Doctors can detect the physical presence of a virus or a cancer. The evidence they find serves both as a symptom and evidence of their diagnosis. Thus, medical doctors can precisely define diseases by their symptoms.

Unfortunately, psychologists are not afforded such luxury. Yet many of them act as though they are. This is how we end up with severe misdiagnoses. We need to be aware as a society of how this affects us.

ITT: Armchair psychologists confuse "psychopathy" and "sociopathy".

The tops of government and business exhibit the signs of sociopathy, not psychopathy.

Psychopaths generally exhibit many behaviors that makes them fundamentally unsuited for public life, such as poor behavior control.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, have just the right mix of anti-social tendencies to turn their empathy on for the crowd, and off while making decisions that affect millions negatively.

If you're really a trained psychologist; in what diagnostic system do these categories even exist? Surely not ICD or DSM?

Outside the public consciousness, the term's only real professional use is limited mainly to some forensic psychologists because of the criminal justice system's rather peculiar requirements of psychology. Given the hoops it requires they bend through, I wouldn't look towards FP for diagnostic guidance. Robert Hare as well, but personally I tend to think of his work is sophomoric at the best of times and idiotic at the worst . He's also (in my opinion) a world-class prick, having used legal action to prevent the publishing of a critical paper that had already made it through peer review:


But that's neither here nor there.

Anyhow, setting aside the lack of any diagnostic definition for either term, sociopathy has never been anything more than a synonym preferred by certain individuals. But if we're looking for some point of differentiation, one of the main reasons to prefer one synonym over another was to try and emphasize causation by social factors. Certainly not some sort of empathy switch.

Generally speaking, that confusion is part of the problem with both terms. They carry a lot of baggage and pop-psych definitions, but sorting through the muck and deriving some sort of diagnostic criteria is an exercise in futility.

every discussion I've seen about this has inevitably come to the conclusion that psychopathy and sociopathy have entered the public consciousness, and have ceased being relevant diagnostic terms.

Every description I've seen of sociopaths and psychopaths is basically parallel.

My recommendation is to jump ship and avoid talking about psychopaths and sociopaths, and just stick to new material coming out about the spectrum of anti-social personalities.

Starting at the word psychopath or sociopath will get you to the relevant material, but those terms in and of themselves are not considered relevant anymore.

>The fact that psychopaths and Obama share certain characteristics does not prove that Obama is a psychopath. Yet people continue to suggest that he is, citing the incongruent logic that overlapping characteristics imply equality

Err, you don't get to the top chair of the west by NOT being psychopath in some degree.

You think people fuck their promises, move ahead as nothing happened, overpass the wild dogs in Washington and get to the White House by being boy scouts?

Right, as soon as we can get a psychiatrist to examine him, we'll get back to you. Until then, we'll have to rely on circumstantial evidence and induction.

It does seem likely that anyone able to rise to the pinnacle of American politics would be a psychopath, so it's not as if such accusations are shots in the dark.

Would you mind providing some citations for your idea that Psychopaths self-deceive? From what I've read the better Psychopaths are masterfully in control of their web of lies, that it's easy to believe what they say because they don't suffer the remorse of neuro-normals. And that it's more likely for the neuro-normal person who lies compulsively to believe their lies.

I really don't think it's helpful to classify Obama's behaviour as psychopathic. It demonises him instead of taking a practical, accurate look at his behaviour. It seems as useful calling someone "evil" or "a nazi".

Oh look, a comment that can see through the lies we've been fed, and shows us the malice of those who are 'above' us! And no citations or examples, to boot!

He's not a psychopath or even a sociopath.

I'm definitely not a fan of his, but I do think he cares about people and has empathy. You don't become a Community Organizer for the power and money.

When he made those promises, he did so because he was(still is) naive and had very little real world experience.

He's an astoundingly awful President and possibly a closet-Marxist, but he's no cold-blooded sociopath.

[edit: clarification]

You become community organizer to advance in the Chicago political machine duh..

Armchair psychology at its best

This is a real leap of logic. How can you diagnose the president without knowing his motivations?

For all we know, the wiretaps on State Senator Barack Obama uncovered some incriminating information that political elites have used to make the president their puppet. No one has to be a sociopath to contradict oneself. For all we know, he really planned to run an accountable administration and was met with either resistance or blackmail.


Isn't that a sociopath? I think I read that psychopaths can't really live in society and go undetected, they can't control themselves.

Sociopathy isn't really a specific diagnosis (whereas psychopathy is, in most places) - and the term is used largely interchangeably with psychopathy when referring to an actual disorder. Any semantic difference in the terms hasn't come from the broad medical community as far as I'm aware.

What's the ouch?

> Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws

2012: President Signs Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act[1]

> Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

2013: Whistleblower Edward Snowden is charged by federal prosecutors[2]

Has something happened to Snowden that I'm not aware of? As far as I understand, he fled to avoid a trial, not because there was some imminent threat to his life.

1. http://www.whistleblower.org/blog/42-2012/2380-president-sig...

2. http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/world/us-vs-edwar...

> not because there was some imminent threat to his life.

Treason does actually carry the potential of a death penalty.

Based on poor state of the current US legal system, I too would have run.

The last decade has seen the US legal system turned into nothing but a rubber stamp and puppet for the government.

The founding fathers would be turning in their graves.

He isn't going to be charged with treason.

How is he supposed to know in advance that they will not try to kill him if that legal option is on the table and they are known to be willing to make examples out of previous whistleblowers like Bradley Manning?

And even if he is not threatened with outright execution, even slightly less radical but more likely punishments, like that of Manning, are sufficiently radical to justify defecting to the Soviet Union. Even a simple life in some far away Siberian village will be more endurable than a US 24/7 waterboarding & force-feeding facility.

> defecting to the Soviet Union

Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. 1991 was 22 years ago. You must be a real old-timer?

Perhaps a jab at Putin, if I had to guess

Russian Federation has a far less ominous sound to it than Soviet Union. When you say the Soviet Union (or USSR) you can almost hear the evil Ivan Drago music playing in your head.


I had to YouTube it immediately after typing this. There's just something terrifying about a man who speaks better English than I do, playing a man who speaks English like a man who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, that punches with the power and effectiveness of a chemical engineer.

Sometimes, I too miss the 80's.

> How is he supposed to know in advance that they will not try to kill him if that legal option

Well, in most countries it's illegal to deport someone if there's a risk of a death sentence, which is why US often cannot extradite people. Hence US has to convince the "host" country first, which I guess counts for something. That's what US is currently trying to do with Russia:

> "The charges he faces do not carry that possibility, and the United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Vladimirovich Konovalov.

Ok, let’s say they charged him with of "aiding the enemy". That also carries the death penalty.

Who knows what kind of trumped up charges the government where planning to throw at him.

But there's no way he'd be getting a fair trial, so why on earth would he be offering himself up for trial.

I have heard the term secret court, for the first time only with reference the the USA. With secret courts, secret indictment, your statement of 'He isn't going to be charged with treason' only looks like a trap being laid.

Oh for fucks sake. There are no secret courts that can issue indictments.

> There are no secret courts that can issue indictments

You are 100% correct. The US government now thinks it's a court all unto itself and is now above the law.

It's got to the point where it doesn't even try to hide these indiscretions.

Rendition of prisoners to foreign countries by US personnel is now OK as long as no US personnel are involved in the subsequent torture.

It’s a well known fact the US government does not participate in torture, they don’t condone torture and as a government they do everything in their power to stop it. But rendition is OK. Out of sight, out of mind.

So that does not mean they can't assist in the process of rendition.

Also water boarding is not considered a form of torture by the US government. We the government consider it a form of intelligence gathering.

Unlawful detention? There is no such thing. We can hold any one for any length of time as long as it is in the national interest.

Is this the new US democracy?

The big disappointment for me is Obama.

I actually thought he was different, but I now know that was just foolish of me.

In many ways he is turning out to be much worse than the alternative :(

> Unlawful detention? There is no such thing. We can hold any one for any length of time as long as it is in the national interest.

It appears that you are referring to the people the US is holding in Gitmo.

Uh, an issue here is the "lawful" part: A claim is that the whole Gitmo thing is part of the US military fighting a war. The Gitmo people are prisoners of war or some such. So, they are not to be handled in the US legal system. So, for how they are being handled, "lawful" in the US legal system makes little or no sense.

For "torture", the US military claims not to use torture. Okay. Maybe water boarding is torture, but apparently it does no physical harm and, so, maybe is not really torture.

In broad terms, many well informed people, e.g., D. D. Eisenhower, understood very well that the US military in times of war does things on battlefields that would be totally unacceptable against US citizens inside the US. E.g., Ike was very reluctant to send the Army to Little Rock. So, one broad lesson is that (1) the US legal system and law enforcement inside the US are one thing and (2) what the US military does outside the US to enemies of the US is a very different thing. In particular, Gitmo is just not like a US prison or a county jail. Asking if Gitmo is "lawful" is like asking about the wings on hogs.

I don't say this because I like Obama or liked W or Cheney.

For W and Cheney, they got us into foreign wars that were good candidates for "absurd foreign adventures" and didn't get us out. There's "Occupy a country, pull down a statue, now what? Do you know what I mean?" or some such from just retired Marine four star General J. "Mad Dog" Mattis.

For Obama, my first time really torqued off was his early 2008 interview with the SF Chronicle (off and on on YouTube -- once when on I typed in a full transcript which I still have) where he said that he wanted to use carbon cap and trade to ratchet up the charges on coal fired electric generating plants to "bankrupt" the plants. From some DoE reports, at the time that was 49% of our electric power and about 23% of all our energy. Outrageous. He'd need a crash program in nuke construction to make up the difference. He also said that of course "electric rates would skyrocket".

So, what was he doing? Best I can tell, he was waving a smell of raw meat to get some greenies up on their hind legs. And he was building a consensus to throw money at green projects, please some greenies in business, and get back some campaign donations. For shutting down coal plants, likely the EPA has been slowly shutting down some of the older plants the owners didn't want to upgrade to cleaner burning. There I would be more concerned about NOx emissions, that cause acid rain, than CO2 (that plants like!).

So, my reading is that mostly he has just played politics with the greenies: Give them a little smell of what they want, throw some money their way, pretend to be doing what they want, and otherwise do essentially nothing.

E.g., in Mideast Arab Spring politics, he doesn't want to appear to be on the side of either secular dictators or the radical Islamists. So, in Libya he did something but apparently mostly (set aside Bengazhi) not enough really to entangle the US. Apparently in Syria he trained a few rebels to use some Russian missiles -- again, appearing to fight the dictator but not getting the US entangled. Now the US DoD has given him a list of options for more in Syria; my guess is that he will take none of the options but continue to find ways to posture. For actually influencing the outcome in Syria, I suspect he will do nothing. Of course, I don't see a good outcome in Syria -- it looks like either Al Qaeda or back to Assad as the Mediterranean branch of Iran.

Maybe in Egypt he did or enabled something productive: Uh, it appears that from the deal between Sadat and Begin at Camp David, the US heavily funds the Egyptian military. Sooooo, net, the Egyptian military is nearly a branch of the US DoD! Sooooo, the US essentially has a big veto and say-so in Egypt. So, after a year of Morsi and his true believers messing up the economy, there was enough discontent in the streets to let the military dump Morsi and set up an interim techocrat government and then hold elections. If this works out, good. If Obama played a significant role, also good.

My explanation for nearly everything Obama does is he just wants to play politics or be a political leader. So, pick some issues, appear to be for some and against others. For each side, make some statements and maybe some weak actions and otherwise do next to nothing.

When would he actually do something? Maybe when about 70% of the voters really wanted it. Otherwise he will just say things and do little things that make his base feel good.

My take is that basically he is indifferent and cynical about government and, instead, is willing just to play feel good politics. E.g., "bankrupt" the coal plants is just feel good nonsense to please some greenies and not something he's actually going to do.

So, as an engineer, to me one place he fails is (1) see a serious US problem, (2) analyze the problem, (3) find a good direction, (4) explain the problem and direction to the American people and build a consensus to solve the problem, (5) move on with a solution. Instead he just plays politics until some other forces get maybe 70% approval for some action and then steps in front of the crowd as the leader.

In part playing such politics can generate political capital that can be used for something definite.

It seems to me that such leadership looks weak to the voters and, as a result by now, is costing him political capital.

One place where maybe 70% of the people will get torqued at him is the Trayvon Martin matter: So, again, Obama hasn't done much, and since it really isn't necessarily a Federal issue he didn't have much to do. But he has said some things that appear to please his base. And his buddy the AG has said some more such things. Apparently so far their actions have amounted to next to nothing except one might guess that some of the rioting that has happened since the jury decision was stimulated or encouraged by some of what Obama and his AG did say. Sure, that can mean that some dumb people rioted for no good reason so blame the dumb people; still, the statements were not good.

One danger of Obama is that many problems in the US are permitted just to fester, e.g., the economy, energy planning, immigration, health care reform, etc. instead of receive serious attention. A second danger is that if there were a serious problem, would he be a good and serious leader?

One piece of good news is that Obama seems to be going along with the plan to put the DHS in the old DC Saint Elizabeth's Psychiatric Hospital. Sounds fully appropriate to me. Hope that the TSA is one of the first inmates. Sad part is that they want to spend $4.5 billion moving in.

Also apparently constitutional scholar Obama failed to notice how the NSA tracked mud over the Fourth Amendment and, again, let that problem just fester until the sh!t hit the fan.

> The Gitmo people are prisoners of war or some such. So, they are not to be handled in the US legal system. So, for how they are being handled, "lawful" in the US legal system makes little or no sense.

Prisoners of war have legal rights too, under treaties to which the US is signatory. The Gitmo prisoners are not receiving those rights either. They're in a legal no-man's-land.

Okay, there are some treaties. But what is the 'recourse'? Likely not the US legal system. Likely not any legal system.

The Gitmo situation is a mess, not the least because apparently it's costing the US $1+ million a year per prisoner. But while a mess, I object to calling it a legal mess. Laws, courts, justice, etc. just have next to nothing to do with it.

Maybe there are a lot of lawyers and they want to see every problem, e.g., the Gitmo problem, as a legal problem. Sorry, lawyers, it's not a legal problem; instead, it's something else, a problem of a different kind.

In part Gitmo is an example to Jihaders: Either we will kill you, and if they are physically close maybe your family, or we will ship you to Gitmo, and we will let you decide which is worse.

Some of the Gitmo Jihaders believe that it is just their natural, Allah-given right and mission to fight the US or go on a hunger strike. I'd say, that 120 days of hunger strike would be about right.

Whatever, I just don't see it as a legal problem.

They're not needed. The government can just declare him an enemy combatant and stick him in Guantanamo. (see: Jose Padilla.)

Or, drop a drone bomb on him. (see: Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, Abd al-Rahman, and Jude Mohammed.)

Jose Padilla was never held in Guantanamo. He was held in a military brig in South Carolina, longer than he should have because of litigation surrounding the authority of the Bush administration to hold him without charges. The Bush administration did charge him, likely because they lost Hamdi v. Rumsfeld which rejected their attempts to detain a different U.S. citizen.

The only American citizen targeted in a drone strike was Al Awlaki. The others were killed because they happened to be traveling with Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan or Yemen who were targeted. We can argue about the legality of targeting Al Awlaki, someone who was actively waging war against the U.S. and tried to evade capture for a decade, but it's ridiculous to bring up the other three. Hundreds of U.S. citizens were killed in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fact that U.S. citizens may be killed collaterally in a military strike with legitimate targets has never been construed to be a violation of due process.

Snowden is a completely different situation. He's not waging war against the U.S. and leaking classified information is a criminal charge, not an act of war.

> He was held in a military brig in South Carolina, longer than he should have because

So he was held for three and a half years as an "enemy combatant" under order of the US president, G.W. Bush.

Is the US court system so broken that one person, one president, one dictator is now judge jury and executioner and gets away with such an atrocity?

What has become of the rule of law in the USA?

As a country, it's looking more and more like a dictatorship.

As a country that stood for democracy, freedom of speech and justice for all, what has become of that?

As a serious question, what exactly does the government of the USA stand for today?

As a juxtaposition consider this, just out today.

Halliburton, the US energy services giant, has admitted destroying evidence relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst such disaster in American history.

A Justice Department statement released late on Thursday said the company had agreed to plead guilty to criminal conduct that occurred when it was carrying out its own post-accident investigation.

Is any one going to pay for the fact that they broke the law, screwed up in the lives of so many people in Florida, stuffed up the environment for years to come all for the sake of a dollar?

No. The Justice Department is going to do nothing more than slap them on the wrist.

And why is that? Obviously money talks!

> Obviously money talks!

You make it sound like Halliburton just wrote a check to the DOJ to make the problem go away. Big companies don't need to write checks--they have hostages.

Put yourself in a DOJ prosecutor's shoes. You've got evidence of illegal conduct. You can't pin it on anyone specific, but you know the company overall engaged in the conduct. What do you do?

Do you randomly prosecute the CEO, simply by virtue of his position, for activity you can't directly pin on him? If you do this, watch every multi-national rush to re-incorporate in Switzerland.

Do you shut down the company, in the process putting tens of thousands of innocent people out of work in the midst of a shitty economy, punishing shareholders who had nothing to do with the illegal activity, and destroying a local economy?[1] All for what? To prove a point?

No, you don't do any of these things. You do exactly what the DOJ did in this case: force them to make a $55 million "donation" to the National Wildlife Fund, pay a token $200k fine, and let them go on with a stern warning. That's just the nature of law enforcement in a globalized economy, where multi-national corporations can "vote with their pocketbooks" and have countries compete to see who can be the most lax about law enforcement.

[1] E.g. consider the criminal indictment and subsequent dissolution of Arthur Andersen, and its impact on Chicago. While most of the personnel moved to other accounting firms in the city, losing the global headquarters of a $10 billion/year giant in the industry was not a good thing for the local economy.

You make good points, but I think you overlook the fact that when you're in a climate where anything goes -- a climate that has come to be that way precisely because of a series of complex precedents where it had been unclear where the blame fell and so the real villains often went unpunished, a lack of drastic, disruptive action is probably ultimately much more disastrous than what slaps on the wrist of varying intensities will get you.

This whole thing to me is pretty reminiscent of Wall Street problems. I'm sure there will always be a number of economists who'll defend the situation there, who'll pedantically frame the issues in detailed legal, economic orientations but overlook the more damaging, permanent problems people at large face. Without drastic actions (e.g., handing Jamie Dimon a lengthy prison sentence; fining Halliburton something that'll seriously debilitate (but not bankrupt) their operations, an amount that will make it absolutely clear to management, shareholders and everyone else that strategies of 'play dirty, make big profit, pay relatively small fine' are completely unacceptable), I don't think we're likely to see any meaningfully positive change.

As a society we seem to just accept (and overlook) a high entropy in incarcerations of black teens caught with weed with shaky evidence. Much like how folks are okay with that, I'm pretty much okay if we start seeing a more rash justice come down upon CEOs and upper management, I'm okay seeing shareholders suffer a little, I'm okay with seeing fines in upwards of billions figure, I'm okay with the threat of nationalization looming over companies at detection of naughty behavior. And I don't think this is sloppy anarchist thinking, this is action apparently needed for a larger utilitarian interest (which in my view is generally a reasonable goal).

Okay, that sounded a little extreme, but tell me, how else can we tell them we're not putting up with bullshit anymore? How things are currently going is obviously not working very well.

> Do you randomly prosecute the CEO, simply by virtue of his position, for activity you can't directly pin on him? If you do this, watch every multi-national rush to re-incorporate in Switzerland.

Great. Another one will pop up in its place, who we should reward if they uphold higher ethical standards by doing business with them.

> As a society we seem to just accept (and overlook) a high entropy in incarcerations of black teens caught with weed with shaky evidence.

By and large, black teens aren't incarcerated on "shakey evidence." That's the great thing about crimes that affect poor people: they're really easy to prove. The difference between an aggressive deal/outright fraud/honest mistake is difficult to prove. Who knew what? When? What were they thinking? Possession of an uncontrolled substance? Felon in possession of a firearm? Robbery? That stuff is easy to prove.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think it's okay that we imprison so many low-income minorities. But I don't think its the result of "high-entropy" prosecutions based on "shakey evidence." It's the result of astronomical sentences and three-strikes rules for relatively minor crimes (drugs, theft, gang activity) that are very common among low income populations.

> Great. Another one will pop up in its place,

Because we're doing such a great job keeping businesses in America as it is? All that will happen is that the capital will slowly migrate elsewhere.

> But tell me, how else can we tell them we're not putting up with bullshit anymore?

The fact of the matter is that we don't have any choice. My mentor in law school once pointed out to me that in Illinois politics, large companies don't have to make campaign donations to exercise their political clout. All they do is call up a state legislator and say: "I create 300 jobs in your district; this is how high you're going to jump." And the legislators ask: "how high?"

And the people absolutely will not do anything about it, because far and away their #1 political concern is getting a job or keeping their job. And no government official is going to be stupid enough to do something like punish a corporation overly harshly because a simple ad along the lines of "so and so cost such and such county in Illinois 300 jobs!" is a nuclear weapon in the current economy.

>My mentor in law school once pointed out to me that in Illinois politics, large companies don't have to make campaign donations to exercise their political clout.

And I was thinking that in US companies can't make campaign donations at all, but what do I know...

First, he would have been released from detention earlier if the Supreme Court hadn't dismissed his first case for an error in his habeas petition.

Second, Bush was not "judge, jury, and executioner." Bush persued a policy on his interpretation of the law. The Supreme Court smacked him down. He backed off that policy. Padilla got a civil trial. It took time because litigation is slow and always has been. But that's an example of the system working, not an example of it descending into dictatorship.

Who cares what he's charged with. Look at what they did to Bradley Manning. Actions speak louder than words.

The ouch is that the Obama Administration has been hyper aggressive in attacking whistle blowers and leaks of all kinds.

"The Obama administration has already charged more people — six — under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined. (Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history.)"



> As far as I understand, he fled to avoid a trial, not because there was some imminent threat to his life.

Would you write your comment again after knowing this:





Have civilians ever been tried in US military courts?

Have military prisoners ever been subjected to torture while awaiting trial?



It doesn't matter if he's tried in a civilian or military court, if he's tortured or otherwise subjected to inhumane treatment and if he is not likely to receive a fair trial then he should flee.

Edit: typo

Not since Ex parte Milligan (1866), AFAIK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_parte_Milligan

No, but they have been targeted by drones without a trial...

Once. Al Awlaki.

I'll refer to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6107997 for the rest.

Once. Al Awlaki.

As far as we know.

Remember, we are now in an age where we do not know what our government is doing. In fact, we're not allowed to know what it's doing, or even why we're not allowed to know.

Smart money shouldn't bet that this is the only actual occurrence.

> As far as we know.

Yes, anything else is pure speculation. Wars have started because of speculation like that.

> Remember, we are now in an age where we do not know what our government is doing.

That's naive. We are not now in such an age, it has always been like this. We are now in an age where it's far easier to know what is going on. Things aren't getting worse. They aren't getting less transparent. Read your history if you think the government was more transparent in decades past. It wasn't.

We've done far, far worse than target Al Awlaki. Hell, if that's our biggest concern, we are doing well.

We _know_ of one instance and that instance alone is bad enough that we should be alarmed, but "smart money" doesn't legitimize the claim that it has happened on multiple occasions.

Has Obama even called Snowden a whistle-blower? He called him a hacker, and his tone of voice has always been dismissive and implying treason.

If I'm not mistaken, he was responding to the question of whether he would put pressure on China to extradite Snowden, and he basically said that he wouldn't scramble jets or start wheeling and dealing for a single case of a 29-year-old hacker suspect.

Reading this in the context of what his actual powers and responsibilities are in this case, it seems to me like he was diminishing the crime, rather than rallying for a witch-hunt.

Besides not rallying for a witch-hunt, which is of course extremely commendable, he could acknowledge Snowden as a whistle-blower who sacrificed comfort and freedom for protecting constitution. Even while pursuing him for prosecution.

The ouch to me is how much this that's written relates to what's happening today, I just imagine the shame he ought to feel if he reread this today, or someone read this to him...

Obama is great at keeping a straight face(he's a lawyer, after all), but sometimes it makes me wonder how far can he handle since there's so much dirt with all that stuff... I mean, the "The programs are transparent" is a Bush-like statement from 'the great talker', and really, he is, but he's now completely demoralized in many eyes, people from the world rooted for him, I watched the fucking debate and shared a pic of 'debate drinking game' with my friends, we all wanted that seemingly enlighted dude at this position... it's just a very ugly story, even considering that arriving there it was inevitable that he would have to give in to a shit or two or three, but it went overboard, this is a disaster in my 'very-far-away' eyes... what will it be of his name in history? What will this do for future 'enlighted-hopeful' candidates? What about the next black person running for it?

It just makes you go 'ouch'.

- save taxpayers dollars : looks like this was rejected just yesterday by the Congress. Who cares about taxpayers dollars anyway? - whistleblower laws : did Obama ever do anything in that regard apart from public speeches as a candidate? - abuse of authority : Obama himself clearly abused authority in the Snowden case in what he said and in the threats he placed on the guy. - full access to court and due process: yeah, isn't Obama the one who agrees to keep secret court secret in the first place, and protect them from monitoring ?

"Yes We Can". Nothing more to say.

"Yes, we could."

"No, you can't. Because you got duped!"

wow. ironically, that's the most eloquent political statement on whistleblowers I can recall reading.

Can't deny the man can talk - and can identify a damn good speechwriter when he finds one.

This sounds, to me, similar to Mao's Anti-rightist Movement [1]. Basically, Mao encouraged all of the concerned citizens to come forward with their concerns, putatively so that any problems could be corrected. But in fact, Mao used this as an opportunity to identify those that could be viewed as political problems, imprisoning all of those who foolishly believed his rhetoric and who genuinely wanted to help the country. (My wife's uncle spent two decades in prison for this, and his wife was forced to denounce him.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Rightist_Movement

After the leaks we've seen, wouldn't publicising protection of whistleblowers potentially motivate more leaks of state secrets? I can see how the government would be nervous about that. Clearly they think that some abuse of authority is justified to maintain global power.

So much for that

If this surprises you well then, you are as dumb as they come


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