Friday, October 14, 2011

When NPR Criticizes Obama

You know the Obama Administration is very obviously missing the boat on something large when NPR feels confident enough to mention it. In this case, NPR's "Talk Of The Nation" program noticed an LA Times article by Jonathan Hurley that included a quote that read,

"the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties."

NPR then had Turley on as guest to elaborate and take calls. Here's a short transcript of note:

JONATHAN TURLEY: It is a strong language, but I think civil libertarians are coming to grips with what is really a building disaster for our movement, and it's been a rather difficult process. You know, I have a large civil liberties blog, and there's a lot of soul-searching among civil libertarians about what exactly happened. But we are engaging in a sense of collective denial when we deal with President Obama.

DONVAN: You mean you're not talking about it publicly.

TURLEY: Yeah. And I think that's part of the purpose of this column, is to address the fact that President Obama is a perfect nightmare when it comes to civil liberties. He not only adopted most of President Bush's policies in the civil liberties areas when it comes to terrorism, but he actually expanded on them. He outdid George Bush.

Not all civil libertarians have had trouble coming to grips with this reality. The partisan Democrat civil libertarians, yes. They have put on the blinders in a huge way. Team first! Rah rah!

A partisan Libertarian such as myself began calling out the President within six weeks of his inauguration. It was that obvious almost immediately. The dialogue is really excellent.

TURLEY: Well, certainly. I supported Barack Obama. I wasn't very quiet about my support. I thought he was going to be a refreshing change to George Bush. But what has happened is that we have an election that's become a single-issue election, and that issue is Barack Obama. And he's an icon to both sides. But what's happened to the civil liberties movement is that we generally have a pendulum swing back in favor of civil liberties, which we were building towards after the Bush administration.

Polls were showing that citizens were opposed to many of the abuses, that they wanted to see more protections, and Barack Obama really rowed that way. He portrayed himself as a civil libertarian. And then when he proved to adopt many of Bush's positions and adopt even worse positions in some regards, it split the base of the civil liberties movement. There are many people that frankly cannot get themselves to oppose Barack Obama. They make a lot of excuse for him.

DONVAN: You mean emotionally they can't do it?

TURLEY: They can't emotionally, politically, personally. They just have a very difficult time opposing a man who's an icon and has made history - the first black president, but also the guy that replaced George Bush. And the result is something akin to the Stockholm syndrome, where you've got this identification with your captor. I mean, the Democratic Party is split, civil libertarians are split, and the Democratic Party itself is now viewed by most of libertarians as very hostile toward civil liberties.

Senators and members of the House, it turns out, were aware of many of these abuses and never informed people.

This is really good radio, and I know that "Talk of the Nation" is typically like this, with good, measured guests and dialogue, beyond the soundbytes. I've generally had a hard time listening to it, because it is so regularly left-of-center. It's not that I need confirmation bias in all things, it's just that I similarly don't need to listen to predictably oppositional radio. I mean, I could listen to Limbaugh as easily, and don't. But the best political radio (or other media) is oppositional in nature, taking on the watchdog role. It's good to see and hear NPR start to do this a bit more. It excelled at it when Bush was in office.

Well, into the 3rd year of Obama's term is better late than never.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ugly Rhetoric

Every movement has its ugly rhetoric, where people get carried away emotionally at rallies and say regrettable things. I'm seeing calls for violence and bigoted displays out of the Occupy Wall Street movement on a scale not seen in the Tea Party. This is not good.

These kinds of things are only going to rile the Tea Party and the right against Occupy Wall Street, if they aren't there already. I have watched this political discourse go back and forth for about two decades now, where each side makes horrible remarks, the opposition reacts and is shocked, SHOCKED! I tell ya, and then they trade places, and evoke the misdeeds of the past to justify the misdeeds of the present.

Whenever I see this dynamic in play here, my mind goes to the former Yugoslavia, to the Serbs and Bosnians. How long have they been doing this? 700 years? It doesn't work.

I am convinced that left and right can get together on this, but it will take focus, and will require one side or other to take the high road. Since the OWS folks are on the ground and it's their moment, the onus is on them. So far? FAIL.

And, for what it's worth, my expectation is always that the left has greater capacity to take the high road, but always disappoints me more spectacularly, with rhetoric and imagery that is well over the top of what the right puts out there. I'm seeing it right now. The hatred and seething in many of these folks is well beyond the Tea Party. I'd love to see a leader- a Ghandi, an MLK Jr., someone who can make a point firmly without succumbing to hatred- take charge of Occupy Wall Street. This is where being leaderless is hurting movements.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ed Coleman Running Hard

I am pleased with the effort Ed Coleman is making in his bid to be re-elected to the City-County Council in Indianapolis as a Libertarian. He can't count on a majority of voters to keep him in office as a matter of blindly casting for the 'R' or 'D'. People have to know who he is and very consciously vote for him.

With this in mind, Ed and volunteers have been canvassing door-to-door in his Perry Township district, making his case. This is very satisfying to me. It's incredibly hard to reach voters any other way. Very small numbers turn out to political events. Advertise on TV or radio and the vast majority of the viewers or listeners are bound to be outside the district.

And, while Ed was bolstered with solid finances ($50,000) from the LNC- the Libertarian National Committee- he can't just saturate the airwaves with his ads, hoping that his district's voters happen to catch the programs. So, he's doing targeted ads on cable tv, on the system that airs in his district. Here is the full-length (2-minute) version, below. An edited version is airing in Perry Township.

Ed Coleman was originally elected as a Republican, as an at-large candidate in 2007. At the risk of bruising his ego, in my opinion, Ed was elected on the strength of having that 'R' after his name on the ballot. He certainly didn't go door-to-door over the whole of Marion County, nor spend $1 million on TV ads. At-large is a bellweather kind of election item. Going door-to-door is proven effective for Libertarian candidates. Phil Miller was elected to the Greenfield City Council in 1999 going door-to-door, and he hopes to be elected mayor there this year doing the same work.

So, Ed doing the work on multiple fronts, door-to-door and sharp media, gives him the best possible chance to win. I know from having been a candidate twice that you can always look back and see places where you might have been able to do more, or do better, in the effort to win people over and gain votes. With what I have seen, I don't think Ed will have any 'wouda coulda shoulda' about his effort. He's doing the right things.

Update: Maybe someone on the campaign team read the post, but I got an email within a couple hours of posting with details on team door-to-door for Coleman for this weekend.

Meeting Saturday, October 15 at 9:30am at Heine's World Famous Roast Beef, 7040 S Madison Ave, Indianapolis. More details and sign-up at an Indy Libertarian meetup page.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Common Ground, If Desired

I continue to be fascinated with the Occupy Wall Street protests. I can't help but notice points of comparison with the Tea Party protests, as certain positions have been reversed. Mainly, where patriotism or anger-as-hate was seen in the Tea Party, it has now reversed position on Occupy Wall Street in many quarters.

What a loss! Blind partisanship and tribalism can be so debilitating. I believe there is great common ground to be shared, if Tea Partiers care to unite with Occupiers. How hard is it for both sides to agree that government shouldn't have bailed out financial institutions, especially if the money was going to be spent on executive bonuses and the like? The common ground is injustice.

The common ground for anger is the injustice of crony capitalism, which isn't capitalism at all, but corporatism. The transfer of wealth from the many to the few is unjust. Period. Focus on that, and the movements can merge and become a dazzlingly effective, powerful force. Otherwise, the left and the right will snipe at each other over so many things, many of which are far from substantial, and the energy will be wasted.