For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Citizenship in the age of Obama

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— Given the resounding electoral victory of President Barack Obama, how should good citizens behave in light of that mandate for change?

Given the record level of popularity Obama enjoys at the outset of his administration, how should good citizens respond when our president requests that we follow his lead?

Given the growing threat from increasing economic turmoil, how should conscientious citizens react when our freshly minted president calls for dramatic and unprecedented policy changes absent calm, deliberate and multilateral civic debate?

For many Americans, the answer to those questions is: Given the mandate of the election, combined with the current overwhelming popularity of Obama, good citizenship requires we accede to his judgment because of the exigent crises we face.

Those Americans aren't just wrong, they're dangerously wrong.

World history is fraught with the perils of allegiance forged from the heat of crisis and the hammer of popularity. We need only to look back at the still-glowing embers of our 43rd presidential administration for the civic lesson that should be fresh in our minds as our 44th president confronts an economic emergency.

Whether your political persuasion leans left or right, most agree the administration of George W. Bush was replete with decisions deemed controversial and unpopular. The list includes the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility, the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, the warrantless wiretapping of Americans, the foreign rendition of suspected terrorists and myriad other hot-button policies.

But, if partisan leanings that too often cloud rationality are cast aside, we can see those decisions only became polarizing with hindsight. When those policies first took shape from the ashes floating above the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a quiet Pennsylvania field, they garnered support from the majority of Americans and our elected representatives from both parties.

Only revisionist history brands those policies as the spawn of a dictatorial Bush administration. The truth is that while those policies were birthed by Bush, they would have died absent congressional sustenance that flowed under Republican and Democrat control. And, contrary to current obfuscation designed to provide political cover, congressional leaders of both parties were not only briefed on now controversial national security policies - as required by law - but they also agreed with those decisions at their inception.

But the point is not who was right and who was wrong. The lesson is that many of our elected officials from both parties - blinded by a record 92 percent approval rating bestowed upon President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 - failed to perform their jobs with deliberation, reason and contemplation of the potential unintended consequences of those hastily enacted policies.

Only later did many in Congress admit they'd never read the Patriot Act.

Only later did growing numbers of Americans and their elected representatives begin to question the legality and efficacy of Guantanamo Bay, warrantless wiretaps, rendition and water boarding.

Only later did the charge arise that the Bush administration used the crisis of 9/11 as political cover to centralize power in the White House while usurping constitutionally protected American freedoms at home and launching an ill-conceived war abroad.

Again, the point is not whether we agree with those who retroactively find fault with those decisions hastily made during a real crisis. The lesson is that while speed may be warranted during perilous times, so to is clear thinking marked by deliberation if those decisions are to survive the test of time.

So, how should a conscientious citizen respond when Obama calls for expeditious, dramatic and unprecedented fiscal policy changes in light of the current world economic crisis? Good citizenship requires that we respectfully listen to and consider his recommended policies, while demanding deliberate and reasoned civic debate before instituting economic policies that will alter American capitalism and risk catastrophic fiscal consequences for generations to come.

Otherwise, just as the Bush administration correctly remains open to criticism of using the crisis of 9/11 as cover for political goals, the Obama administration will be vulnerable to charges that a hastily enacted trillion-dollar "fiscal stimulus" plan was nothing more than the use of an economic crisis to cover the political goal of replacing free markets with centralized government control of our economy.

To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net

Comments

Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

That was a good column Rob.

Deregulation and greed left us little choice. Only hope its not too late. Remember, as history will, Bush actually began the rollback of capitalism, not Obama.

Bush gave the banks money carte blanche. It didn't work very well did it. Obviously we want more $$ reaching the marketplace next time. And that only happens only when we get voting stock for our bailout money (Nationalising banks). So the banks forced this extra control, didn't they?

"The political goal of replacing free markets with centralized government control of our economy" is a bit overstated, in my opinion.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 2 months ago

Rob

I think it is human nature and more likely American culture to want quick fixes to every social and economic problem we face. We want the solutions to be so easy they are obvious and could be implemented by a child. The challenge in governing a fickle group of folks like us is how to get even a few more people off the sidelines and into the game. How to get us from being Monday morning quarterbacks to participants is no easy task. Sitting on the sidelines is nothing more than a mix of politics with rhetoric. Getting in the game is a mix of citizenship and sacrifice.

Sacrifice typically comes in the form of involvement in something that goes beyond benefiting primarily our own self interest. For the vast majority of us the opportunity for involvement will be local not national. Individually we need to ask ourselves what we are doing. Are we players or watchers of the game?

Although this is another great column I challenge the both of us to use our skills with the written word to focus on local issues. There is no shortage of local issues to debate and engage in. This does not mean that we can not hold opinions on national issues; we should. However, the game is engaged locally. I am looking forward to your next column.

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JLM 5 years, 2 months ago

Good thought provoking column.

There a number of basic truths which could be applied to any situation.

How about --- the Congress actually reading what they enact BEFORE they enact it? Not exactly the high hurdles given their massive staffs and their own role in draftsmanship?

I read the 647 page Stimulus plan and I think it is nuts. I have one advantage, I actually read it. In the land of the blind, the one eyed Jack is King!

We really do need to do away with nonsensical partisanship. To say: "Bush gave the banks money carte blanche." is to simply betray total ignorance of the checks and balances provided by our Founding Fathers. The Congress approved this legislation. A Democratic Congress approved this legislation. At the very least, please just be intellectually honest. The Congress appropriates money --- period!

I hated the bank bailout as much as I hate the Stimulus plan for the exact same reason --- they will not work.

As to the laundry list of things which Bush did --- hell, I like every single one of them and I predict we will look back in retrospect from the vantage point of 10 years in the future and know they were right.

Or, worse, we may well look over the smouldering ashes of a terrorist act on American soil and say --- Pres Bush kept us safe and he was right! Time will tell!

It serves our democracy well to debate things and to change governments and leaders when a majority decides that is the way to go. I am perfectly comfortable being in the minority when I think I am right and I am perfectly comfortable congratulating the majority when they win an election. More power to them, they made the system work the way it is supposed to work.

I would still charge Hell with half a thimble of water if I thought I were correct and no majority can convince me that a bad idea is good.

President Obama has chosen to take the position --- "Hey, we won the damn election, didn't we?" and more power to him. He and the Democratic Congress have gone "all in" with 7% of our GDP and we have almost no other chips to throw into the pot. He and they better be right!

The real problem is that nobody really knows what is happening. We all have one month of experience six times --- well except for the Obama administration which has only one week of experience two times! Good luck and Godspeed President Obama, you are my President too!

But hey that's just me!

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

Scott offers a better characterization of citizenship: "Sacrifice typically comes in the form of involvement in something that goes beyond benefiting primarily our own self interest."

Right on brother!

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

JLM, My man, link me up. I've just committed to explaining the stimulus package to a few, but a very serious few, ladies. Where is a link to that 647 pages? Better yet, want to help me explain it??

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Tim Scannell 5 years, 2 months ago

I think the article was right on target. Very insightful. Great job.

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JLM 5 years, 2 months ago

Much of what President Bush did will be judged differently with the passage of time as inflamed passions recede and results are able to be measured at room temperature. Perhaps also as his critics, who have now ascended to power, now have to wrestle with the same challenges.

One development is already beginning to ripen and bear fruit which can be plucked and tasted. Sweet fruit indeed! Liberty has triumphed over tyranny!

Today Iraq began to conduct nationwide free elections. Free in their choices --- Sunnis, Shia and Kurds all participated as candidates and as voters --- free from violence. Importantly the security for these elections was provided almost exclusively by Iraqi police and military forces trained, equipped and turned loose by their American counterparts.

Only one hot spot remains in the country --- Mosul --- and al Qaeda is dying for their cause in that city as quickly as the combined American and Iraqi forces can accomodate their wishes.

This weekend in Iraq more than twice as many Iraqis (based upon percentage of eligible voters) will vote in their elections as voted in our recent Presidential elections. Hmmm, does ACORN have a Baghdad office? LOL

Maybe they love liberty more in Iraq having experienced a bit less than we have or maybe we are just lazy and spoiled? Hmmm, who knows, really?

Thanks George W Bush for persevering with the Surge when knuckleheads like Harry Reid said the war was lost! When folks like our current President were skeptical and afraid. Democracy has prevailed over tyranny and we have GW Bush to thank for it.

I wonder why we haven't seen this in the MSM?

Congratulations to all Americans who made sacrifices to make this day possible. God bless free men everywhere!

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playa46 5 years, 2 months ago

JLM- At what cost? We have lost American lives and trillions of dollars, do you think we have done enough?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 2 months ago

Good article Rob. O owes the unions more than he will probably be able to repay. The Communist card check idea, will be a hard sell even in todays climate. Growing the government will kill two birds with one stone, first by creating more dependency, the road to socialism will paved, second the unions lone bastion is representing government workers. Card check could fail but either way the unions win, and they know where we live.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Good article Rob, JLM can you keep your defending of Bush to another thread.

Steve, Scott or whomever, wrote that the fear of moving towards central government planing is unfounded. I disagree, in that most heads of states are calling for it, the aussie prime minister just called for it. The Davos Summit prety much blamed the US for the mess we are in, yet they fail to look in the mirror and think about the fact they pegged their currency to the dollar.

Their is enough fault for everyone, what happens when the government planning decides what you are doing is wrong? What happens when PERA needs more money and comes to the taxpayers to make up the shortfall? Maybe, as opposed to concentrating power at the top, true change needs to come from the bottom up?

Peace,

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

ybul, Its hard to defend things I never said.

My post referred to Rob's closing statement, and I said: "The political goal of replacing free markets with centralized government control of our economy" is a bit overstated, in my opinion."

There will be more regulation, yes, but "centralized government control of our economy" covers a lot of ground that will never happen, and is not sought.

Peace, and Love
:)

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Steve,

My mistake, I fret though there is too much intervention, meant to help out some business' at the cost to others. Fascism in essence is the merging of the corporation and the state.

I do not desire to tell the government within 24 hours of a calves birth, especially as I many times do not know for a week or two as it happens naturally. But the initial draft of NAIS set about a $5000 fine for not reporting. It would have crushed the family farm, and consolidated our food production further under corporate control. Yet the USDA, influenced by special interests looking to make a buck are pushing hard for this legislation.

In addition, the foundation of the economy is money, or the medium of exchange. As this is the ultimate tool of centralized government control, we sort of already have government control of the economy, with the guise of free markets. As free markets can not be free without a free monetary system.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

ybul, Sorry about the hassles. I don't know the specifics of the majority of the produce I consume, so I rely on govt to "keep the peanuts clean". Certainly that can get cumbersome and offensive.

In my profession of engineering the codes typically apply a factor of safety, so that my design is, by law, twice (2.0) the required strength. My own innaccuracy judging snowloading on a complex roof, wind gust loadings, material inconsistency, workmanship and the inevitable "field fits" bring that factor of safety down to to 1.5 in my opinion.

When you realize a .9 means a building will eventually fall down, this system begins to make sense. My buildings will last 200 years. Schools and hospitals get a higher safety factor. I expect food produce does too.

Fascism is a bummer, I agree. I thought the huge corporations had their hands on our government big time these past few years, so I consider the past 8 years the peak of Fascism in the U.S. The new surge of regulation will, in my opinion, REDUCE corporate influence on our laws.

I welcome that pushback of big corporate power. Small business should have a big chair at the govt conversation so the regulations are sound.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

I appreciate your thoughts on regulation reducing corporate influence. Though I disagree, in that we only have one party the demopublicans.

I think that regulation is good and bad. Take for instance raw milk. If produced strictly via cattle on a diet of green grass, studies have shown no risk of disease. The reason that regulation needs to occur is that you get some corporation that does not care, and screws it up for honest people. The pasturization process kills many of the good things in the milk.

Your depiction of a need for regulation is a good one. How about, an engineer being hired to do the inspection and make sure regulations are being met? That would ensure competition, and not reduce the risk of corruption. As that is an inherent problem of humanity.

That inherent problem should be absolved as much as possible, the federal government having its hands in education does little to enhance the product, and quite frankly detracts from it. The same goes for food production, the governments best intentions of intervening to prop up family farms with subsidies have caused many health problems.

The governments hand in mis-managing our currency/interest rates and rate of exchange have brought about most of the problems we face today.

Sorry, I hope their is change, but I caution all those who celebrate the change to keep a cautious eye on what is going on at all levels.

Here, help out and sign a petition to not require people to register the farms under the guise of disease control, as it will not control disease and simply make food more expensive and make it difficult for an individual to keep small numbers of livestock. As this is simply beginning, then movements will be required to be tracked (might help out with the 30 head that were stolen this year), but will cost me a lot of time and money as it will require an additional hand to keep track of everything, and what happens when the neighbors critter gets out and runs up and down the river, or deer run through and potentially spread disease. The system will not work and only create more work for me. It is agribusiness' desire to have this program to open up export markets, sell chips, and make money. In addition this was first conceptualized under the Clinton administration.

The real political battle is between the individualist and the collectivist. Unfortunately, history has shown time and again that we are flawed, and to think the government is going to solve our problems is flawed thinking as our government is managed by people who are flawed.

http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/federal-updates

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

ybul, The link was interesting. It was a stretch for me to believe the bill has no benefit in controlling livestock disease, but I'll ask Salazaar about the bill.

I'm not sure where one goes once one decides we are all flawed. Neither private nor public sector has an advantage on fixing that one.

Its my opinion that our government was very poorly run for a few years. Giving power to folks who don't believe in government has its drawbacks.

"Government that works" may be on the way. I do expect improvements. Agribusiness should see a lot more confrontation, but I guess time will tell.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

"It serves our democracy well to debate things and to change governments and leaders when a majority decides that is the way to go. I am perfectly comfortable being in the minority when I think I am right and I am perfectly comfortable congratulating the majority when they win an election. More power to them, they made the system work the way it is supposed to work."

Thankfully, we live in a country dedicated to the Rule of Law instead of majority rule. Unlike the UN declaration of human rights, which is a social contract and subject to revision by the majority, the American Constitution is a declaration of unalienable rights which are not subject to the whims of the social-contract majority. Our rights are bestowed upon us by the Creator, not the Voter.

It doesn't matter that a Republican majority decided torture was the right thing to do, if to do so was against the Law, and done in defiance of the Constitution. America is not governed by majority rule; we are a Constitutional Democratic Republic. Until that is changed through revolutionary overthrow of the Government, which hasn't happened, then our Government is bound to uphold the Laws as written, according to the Constitution -- unless a majority decides to amend the Constitution, and that didn't happen, either.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

Rob, I think you're misstating the case.

"Given the growing threat from increasing economic turmoil, how should conscientious citizens react when our freshly minted president calls for dramatic and unprecedented policy changes absent calm, deliberate and multilateral civic debate?

For many Americans, the answer to those questions is: Given the mandate of the election, combined with the current overwhelming popularity of Obama, good citizenship requires we accede to his judgment because of the exigent crises we face."

For starters, are you the voice of "many Americans" or are you citing some sort of poll? Or is this merely your personal opinion? My personal opinion, is that Republicans shouldn't stand in Obama's way by sticking to their tried-and-failed ideology which was renounced beyond a reasonable doubt this past election. That's quite different from acceding to Obama's judgment. We ought to have the debate you suggest, but only if it's framed in choices which represent change, instead of requiring that Obama waste everyone's time considering the failed policies of the past to be part of the current debate.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Steve,

 The plan is not going to control disease, it may help to track where animals came into close contact.  However, it will not stop the random elk from bringing some disease vector from one area to another.  It is will not do a thing to prevent mad cow disease, which the USDA does not allow private processing plants to test for the disease (my only thought there is that the big plants could never compete, as their assembly lines would have to wait for test results).

  The comment about us all being flawed, is that decisions made in Denver, Washington or the UN assembly house may not work in Steamboat Springs.  They may have preconceived ideas about what should be done and those ideas may not work in this environment.  Thus bringing the decision making process to the lowest level possible is always best.

  Government is a necessary evil.  The example of building codes is good, as the building codes should be set by an organization, however, a BONDED and INSURED engineer should be required to inspect the building.  The insurance coverage would go with the building when sold.

  Health Insurance, and I think we have hit on it before, however, as opposed to taxing the masses for the under insured.  Why not tax some of the problems that cause the issue, diesel exhaust causes asthma for many inner city kids.

 The problem as I see it is the system has funding mechanism problems.  These are not taxes, they are impact fees, as taxing does not benefit society, they simply take from one group and give to another.   They help to protect an individuals freedom to live a happy healthy life (private property rights).

  "Government that works" is government that taxes people little, and ensures that one group of people is not being taken advantage of by another.  The banking system, and its overused printing press'.  Foreign governments pegging their currency to ours, essentially the protectionism of the 20-30's cast in another way.

Eric, I appreciate the desire to save the world. However, presentation helps out a lot, it comes off as a rant. Where are the solutions.

How about unemployment taxes, most business pay a tax on the employees. Why not tax things that put people out of work to provide this safety net, Energy as it fuels construction equipment, robots, computers which all put people out of work, or on all sales as products made overseas do not get charged for the people making them over there.

I think that as a whole, decisions are made with good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with them.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

You're also revising history a bit, Rob...

"But, if partisan leanings that too often cloud rationality are cast aside, we can see those decisions only became polarizing with hindsight. When those policies first took shape from the ashes floating above the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a quiet Pennsylvania field, they garnered support from the majority of Americans and our elected representatives from both parties."

I'm sorry, but those issues were polarizing at the time, the Patriot Act was an omnibus bill of all the GOP national-security bills that the Democrats had been blocking for years and the Democrats should have voted against it as their constituents wanted. No, I'm not speaking for the public, but I am citing opinion polls of the time regarding the Patriot Act. In December, 2001, 53% of Americans polled by USA Today answered "no" to the question, "To prevent terrorism, should the government violate your civil liberties?"

In December, 2002 the same poll was up to 62%. So, while support for the Patriot Act did peak in the Fall of 2001, it never received the majority backing of the public. Neither did Patriot II a few years later -- despite very lopsided opposition from the public, it only garnered one "no" vote in the Senate. The Patriot Act is a classic case of the government lacking the consent of the governed, in taking away our heretofore-unalienable rights.

But the revisionist history is really the claim that the Patriot Act received electoral support from both parties due to 9/11. The truth is considerably different. As I recall, the two reasons most often cited by Congressmen for not reviewing the Patriot Act, is that they'd seen it all before (it was merely a compilation of long-rejected right-wing policies), and besides, they were being kept out of their offices at the time due to the Anthrax Attacks.

Oh, yeah! Rob, you plumb forgot about that. The key Democratic Senators who were opposed to the Patriot Act managed to change their positions after being targeted (all the targets were liberals) by Anthrax-laced letters which terrified all of Congress. But, this was a case of a right-wing domestic terrorist attack, targeting innocents to effect political change being classic terrorism. And it worked, didn't it? Those darned liberals blocking passage of the Patriot Act got a taste of what foreign terrorists would surely do to us if they didn't change their vote.

Except it wasn't a case of what foreign terrorists would surely do, was it? The passage of the Patriot Act was a direct result of domestic right-wing terrorism on U.S. soil, an attack whose very goal was the passage of the Patriot Act. Not foreign terrorism. Not 9/11. The FBI's recent, not-really-believable "solution" to that case officially claims it was the work of a lone right-wing nut working within our own military's bioweapons program.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

It isn't partisan leanings which must be cast aside when considering the Patriot Act, it's establishment leanings, since both Parties were equally guilty of the overwhelming passage of a law the voters didn't want. This country isn't supposed to be run by minority rule, any more than majority rule... and we shouldn't, in hindsight, praise our politicians for rejecting our Core Values due to fear of terrorism -- foreign or domestic. That just means that next time the terrorists hit us, we'll get martial law and the end of the Republic.

"Only later did growing numbers of Americans and their elected representatives begin to question the legality and efficacy of Guantanamo Bay, warrantless wiretaps, rendition and water boarding."

I'm still rejecting your argument. Only later did Americans either find out, or start believing, that these things were actually occurring. At which point support for these things plummeted -- after they were confirmed. Only later did Americans understand just how thoroughly the Bush administration had twisted 9/11 to suit its political purpose, but the charges existed all along -- remember, Bush started wiretapping, as well as planning to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, before the 9/11 attacks.

It's much easier to support torture when asked as an abstract poll question before the respondent has knowledge of Abu Ghraib, than after. It's up to our elected officials to obey the law, not break it in full expectation of being exonerated by future historical perspective, or due to high poll numbers.

No, our leaders broke the Law, when all they had to do even in light of terrorism, was stay true to their Oaths to uphold the Constitution. Certainly domestic terror attacks like Oklahoma City, or Anthrax, or foreign terror attacks like WTC '93 and 9/11, achieve success beyond the attackers' wildest dreams if we throw out the Rule of Law in response. Doing exactly what the terrorists want us to do, only encourages further attacks on our soil, be they from al-Qaeda or from fascist American nutcases who believe the Constitution threatens us all.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

So forgetting about the past, and not bothering with who decided to break the law and who decided to support the breaking of the law, in the name of moving forwards, is certainly bound to achieve exactly the opposite outcome than the one we desire. More terrorist attacks, each one more successful in terms of overthrowing the Rule of Law in this country.

I believe we must hold to account those who knowingly committed war crimes. Otherwise, Obama's potential decision not to commit war crimes becomes a matter of Presidential preference and perogative -- the next President could decide to torture again just as easily, if there's never any accounting. I don't care what the circumstance, when there's binding legal precedent which says waterboarding is torture -- and absolutely no evidence that it's used to obtain truth rather than propaganda -- it is incumbent upon our elected officials to follow the Law or change it. Not order their lawyers to draft enabling documents which stand that binding legal precedent on its head.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lodge_Committee_testimony_from_the_New_York_Times http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/global/wlk_wb.html

Hard to believe Funston was exonerated, isn't it? But he was, and that was all the Bush administration lawyers needed to assert that waterboarding must not be torture, despite all the other convictions of U.S. and foreign troops for engaging in that torture.

Ya gotta love the moral relativism of the right wing, when it comes to torture. Not only does this country have centuries of binding legal precedent calling all forms of water torture "torture" even in wartime, but we've also convicted our enemies of using waterboarding against us. What waterboarding does, is partially (if not completely) drown the subject. There is nothing "simulated" about this suffocation due to water in the lungs -- that fits exactly the clinical definition of drowning.

The issue used to be so clear and non-partisan, that if our enemies waterboarded our troops we'd consider it torture and a war crime. Now?

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

Bush's last Attorney General refused to call waterboarding torture, and we also had this shamefully embarassing display repeated more than once:

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/11/graham-waterboarding-iran/ http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/12/hbc-90001815

That's right, if we do it it must be legal, even if it means admitting that our enemies won't be prosecuted for doing the same thing to our troops. Or that foreign powers may kidnap American citizens off the streets if we fight extradition, because kidnapping is legal in that case! That's moral relativism in defiance of the Law, and 9/11 is no excuse -- not immediately after, and certainly not this long after. Not even in one case. This country had an insane lunatic at the helm, but nobody dared telling him the ship was leaking, and that's an indictment against both political parties in general, and the notion of political parties in specific.

"The lesson is that many of our elected officials from both parties - blinded by a record 92 percent approval rating bestowed upon President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 - failed to perform their jobs with deliberation, reason and contemplation of the potential unintended consequences of those hastily enacted policies."

Those elected and appointed officials will never learn that lesson, if they aren't held to account for failures which stem from a failure to take their Oaths of Office seriously, and let the Law guide them. Mark Twain knew torture when he saw it, and the U.S. spent the rest of the 20th Century devising laws against it, and prosecuting for war crimes those who committed it. "The Aftermath of 9/11" excuse simply doesn't cut it, not where war crimes like torture-by-waterboarding are concerned. The Law was clear. The Oath of Office was clear. The consequences should be clear -- instead we're being told there should be none at all, as if that will somehow prevent history from repeating itself again?

Seems to me, there's nothing about the Patriot Act that would have prevented 9/11. Nor would anything in it have protected Americans from right-wing domestic terrorists inside our own military's bioweapons program. It was pimped to the public as necessary to keep things like the 9/11 and Anthrax attacks from happening again, except it was always a "no sale" to the majority of the public, nor can it be proven to have been effective.

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh, sure, I know full well the Bush administration has made many a claim as to how the Patriot Act saved thousands of lives from the likes of Richard Reid, and that guy who was going to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch (I'd have paid money to watch him try, from the comfort of a lawnchair with nearby cooler, what a riot). Except thousands of lives were never in jeopardy from some numbnut with a blowtorch in the first place. And the Bush administration and its policies had absolutely nothing to do with the shoe bomber's thwarting and capture by citizen passengers, or his successful prosecution and incarceration in Florence by the civilian justice system doing what it's always done with terrorists, no special anything needed.

The requirements of good citizenship haven't changed with the election of Obama, just as they didn't change with 9/11. The central requirement, the shared values which hold us together as a society, are our Constitution and our Laws. It is the duty of every citizen to hold our leaders to account when they violate our Laws and disregard our Constitution. Not to refuse to look back, and start making revisionist excuses like "everyone was in favor of torture at the time" that can't be backed up by fact.

Torture was secret at the time, except amongst those few who approved of it, who kept it secret for as long as they could because they knew it was against the law. The deliberate decision to knowingly violate our laws for any reason, is not to be made by the Executive Branch. Had they wanted to use torture legally, they could have introduced legislation into Congress seeking the repeal of the applicable laws. However, since they might have been told "no" (hard to imagine, in retrospect), they decided to go ahead and do it in secret. That's the essence of criminal intent. If the public allows the Establishment to gloss this over and fails to hold anyone to account for breaking the Law, then our Laws become worthless and our nation ceases to be a Republic.

Don't let elections fool you into believing that Liberty exists, as JLM has, above. The commies had elections all the time. One does not follow the other, especially not in Iraq where the people order as their chieftain or mullah tells them to, not as an expression of liberty.

Liberty can only exist when there is equal protection under the law, and equal prosecution under the law. The Founding Fathers knew that, and as far as I know they've never been proven wrong. Certainly not by Osama bin-Laden or George W. Bush, unless we continue Bushian policies to our ultimate destruction, while letting our leaders off the hook for war crimes.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 2 months ago

ybul, I'll leave health care to smarter folks than me. But I'm all about "why not tax some of the problems". Lets be a chorus on that one.

My own tax would be on corn syrup, which on one hand is contrary to the reallity that corn is govt. subsidized, but on the other hand recognizes that corn syrup is behind a new trend - diabetes in our kids.

Taxing our problems is a very smart tool. Let's tax carbon footprints, somehow. Oregon is about to tax the odometer on your car. Makes sense to me!

Fun talkiing with you.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

Eric, Obama voted to renew the patriot act. The issue of reclaiming liberty, is not going to be solved by ranting on a news board, especially when the posts are so long and devoid of any problem that people can relate to.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

I disagree on taxing corn syrup. As the real issue stems from the unintended consequence of grain subsidies. Those grain subsidies, have lead to more tilling on crop land. That tilling, exposes soil carbon to oxygen. This leads to its decomposition and subsequent release back into the atmosphere.

In addition that loss of soil carbon (1 pound of which holds 3 pounds of water) makes us more prone to drought and flooding. This is the result of that soil carbon acting as a sponge and releasing the water slowly as opposed to rapidly. In MN last year with the flooding last year, one bloke who has a grass based farm, had no run off from his farm, whereas neighbors farms had severe erosion.

So in our governments best efforts to solve problems, we tend to create more problems that then need another solution.

Whereas you want to leave health care up to someone smarter than yourself, I am for educating people as to take charge of their own lives and their health care. While golfing with an individual, he divulged that he had been to dermatologists five times for a skin condition (they could not fix it). I told him to take an omega 3 supplement and his issue cleared up in 1-2 weeks.

I think that we are all unique and the answer for you is not going to be the answer for me. So as opposed to ceding power to some government body, I think that power should rest with the individual (as long as they are not harming others through their actions, which if so should face an impact fee for those negative consequences).

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Eric J. Bowman 5 years, 2 months ago

"Eric, Obama voted to renew the patriot act. The issue of reclaiming liberty, is not going to be solved by ranting on a news board, especially when the posts are so long and devoid of any problem that people can relate to."

Not sure what Obama's vote has to do with anything. What, Obama voted for it, so I shouldn't object to it?

The problem of restoring the rule of law in this country certainly won't be solved if everyone just accepts the current re-telling of history, which claims that the People never objected to it, while neglecting to mention that it was originally passed in the aftermath of the Anthrax Attacks, whose intended targets were Democrats who opposed its passage.

Concise enough?

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JLM 5 years, 2 months ago

Do you remember when the cause celebre was the evil Patriot Act folks looking up what folks read @ the public library?

Before liberty was snatched out of our hands by those jack booted thugs trying to keep America safe?

I, for one, have not noticed the change. I'm OK w/ it.

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playa46 5 years, 2 months ago

What is so wrong with Patriot Act? It simply keeps bombs away from public places. It just shouldn't be abused so much. Didn't it stop the anthrax attacks?

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