Category: 2008 Elections

Jon Stewart nails it

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By , June 16, 2010 11:45 am

I have never been a fan of Obama’s as long-time readers know. He didn’t even talk the talk strongly enough when it comes to privacy and civil liberties during his tenure as a Senator, and even as a presidential candidate, there was no substance to his rhetoric. It was nonetheless disappointing to see how quickly he threw away the values he claimed to espouse once he took office.

Jon Stewart nails it:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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Defining moments of hope — and fear

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By , November 6, 2008 2:21 pm

When kid #2 called me on election night, I could hear the excitement in her voice – “Obama won! He WON, Mom!”

I kept my fears to myself, because all that kept running through my mind was “Will he live to see the end of his first term?”

I am of the generation that had hope and believed in change.  And then they assassinated the President I had worked hard to elect as a volunteer, they murdered Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman for trying to register black voters during the Mississippi Summer Project, they murdered Martin Luther King who I admired more than any other individual in my life, they gunned down Malcolm X and RFK, they shot and killed four students at Kent State, and a mentally ill man killed Allard Lowenstein, who although he did not have the national prominence of the others, had been a voice for civil liberties and change. Even then, we struggled on and tried to work for change and peace. But the murders took a toll on my sense of hope, and the shining promise of what this country could be was forever tarnished for me.

And so, in that “defining moment” on Tuesday night, I watched in disbelief at what had seemed unthinkable 48 years ago, but I also worried.  Apparently, I am not alone in that.  The Herald Sun in Australia reported that, “just hours after his victory, the term “Obama assassination” appeared on the top 100 Google search terms.”   Yes, I know that over half of our presidents have been targeted for assassination and that our Secret Service does a professional and outstanding job, but we all know that if someone is determined and willing to give their life to kill another, it can be done.

And as the media talked about how the Secret Service would protect Obama’s daughters as they went to school, my mind flashed back to another image of a young black girl going to school surrounded by protection:
Integrating an elementary school in Louisiana -- Norman Rockwell, 1964

For those readers who may be too young to remember, or who are not from the U.S., this 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell depicts Ruby Bridges surrounded by federal marshals on her first day going to a formerly segregated Louisiana elementary school in 1960. She was taunted and harassed by white parents, who pulled their children out of the school in protest and who placed a doll of a black child in a coffin to intimidate her. I remember watching the images on TV at the time and praying that the rampant hatred would not kill a little girl who showed incredible grace and courage under fire. For about a year, she was the only student in the school until some parents started sending their children again. She now runs the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance.

When Malia and Sasha go to their new school surrounded by Secret Service protection, I hope that they never experience the fear for their personal safety that Ruby Bridges did because of the color of her skin. And I will pray for the safety of their father, because no matter what the media says, race was and is an issue, and anyone who thinks that he isn’t at greater risk because of the color of his skin is just deluding themselves.

Election ’08 results and privacy

By , November 5, 2008 8:51 am

Some astute readers noted that did not endorse either major presidential candidate. The reason was simple:  neither major candidate had any really meaningful track record on privacy issues other than the abortion issue.

So what do we have to look forward to in terms of privacy with Barack Obama as our president?  Will he try to rollback some policies such as the widespread surveillance of citizens and unnecessary intrusions on our privacy in the name of fighting terrorism?  Will he address the widespread data mining and lack of respect for the privacy of personal information that has become all-too-rampant in our society? Obama may turn out to be good for the country in other important respects — and I hope he is — but when it comes to our personal privacy, it is not yet clear how his election will change things.  I hope that he will use this opportunity to question — and revoke — some of the most despicable acts of the current administration and to restore respect for personal privacy.

Across the country, very few state or local propositions addressed privacy.  Here are some election results that are privacy-related:

In California:

  • Proposition 5 failed. Opponents claimed, in part, that it would limit judges’ ability to sentence identity thieves to jail by diverting them to drug rehabilitation programs without having to serve time.
  • Proposition 4, which would require parental notification if a minor wants an abortion, is sill too close to call as of this morning. With 91% of precincts reporting, about 52% of the counted votes are against the proposition. (Update: Proposition 4 was defeated.)
  • Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriages, is still too close to call as of this morning. With 91% of precincts reporting, almost 52% of voters support a ban on same-sex marriages in the state. (Update:  Proposition 8 passed.)


  • Florida voters passed an amendment banning same-sex marriages.
  • Washington voters passed Initiative 1000, which would allow mentally competent, terminally ill adults the legal choice to request and self-administer a lethal overdose of medication.
  • South Dakota voters defeated — for a second time — a proposal to ban almost all abortions by a vote of 55%-45%.
  • Colorado voters also defeated an anti-abortion measure.
  • Oregon voters passed Measure 57, which sets minimum sentences for identity theft, among other provisions.

On a local level,  Irvine, California voters passed the
City of Irvine Personal Information Privacy Act by 63%-36%. The question before the voters was, “”Shall an ordinance be adopted to protect individual privacy interests and guide the City in its determinations on a case-by-case basis whether to disclose or to withhold individuals’ personal information upon a public request for such information where the information is requested by the City for a limited specific purpose and with the representation that the information will be maintained in confidence?”

More Mark Fiore brilliance

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By , July 6, 2008 7:28 pm

Fiore on the FISA “compromise” bill.  Clicking on the image takes you to Fiore’s site for the animation:

The FISA 'compromise' is no compromise!

Obama, meet Judge Walker

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By , July 5, 2008 10:39 am

Presidential candidate Obama, meet Judge Vaughn R. Walker, United States District Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit.  In his recent ruling on Al-Haramain v. Bush, Judge Walker makes it clear that President Bush’s warrentless surveillance program was illegal:


Of special relevance to the court’s present inquiry, Congress included in the FISA bill a declaration that the FISA regime, together with the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 codified at chapter 119 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 USC §§ 2510-22 (“Title III”), were to be the “exclusive means” by which domestic electronic surveillance for national security purposes could be conducted:

procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.

18 USC § 2511(2)(f). This provision and its legislative history left no doubt that Congress intended to displace entirely the various warrantless wiretapping and surveillance programs undertaken by the executive branch and to leave no room for the president to undertake warrantless surveillance in the domestic sphere in the future. The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence stated that the FISA bill’s “exclusive means” statement “puts to rest the notion that Congress recognizes an inherent Presidential power to conduct such surveillances in the United States outside of the procedures contained in chapters 119 and 120.” Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, S Rep No 95-701, 95th Cong 2d Sess 71, reprinted in 1978 USCCAN 3973, 4040. That report cited Congress’s authority over FISA’s subject matter in Article I section 8 of the Constitution and the power to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” US Const cl 1, 18. The report also both discussed Justice Jackson’s concurring opinion in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co v Sawyer, 343 US 579, 635 (1952) and included the following passage from the opinion:

When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb, for then he can rely only upon his own constitutional powers minus any constitutional power of Congress over the matter.


A lesser-known provision of FISA also expressly limited  presidential power to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance by repealing 18 USC section 2511(3) which had provided:

Nothing in this chapter * * * shall limit the constitutional power of the President to take such measures as he deems necessary to protect the nation against actual or potential attack * * * or to protect national security against foreign intelligence activities. * * * The contents of any wire or oral communication intercepted by authority of the President in the exercise of the foregoing powers may be received in evidence in any trial hearing [sic], or other proceeding only where such interception was reasonable, and shall not be otherwise used or disclosed except as is necessary to implement that power.

18 USC § 2511(3)(1976). The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence explained that the repeal of this section “eliminat[ed] any congressional recognition or suggestion of inherent Presidential power with respect to electronic surveillance.” S Rep 95-701, 72.

So why, Senator Obama, should you or the Democrats or any Republican tout the fecocktah “compromise” FISA Amendments Act as clearly establishing FISA as the exclusive means when it was already clearly established and the President clearly violated it?

It is still not too late for you and the Democrats to uphold the rule of law. Do not let the telecoms off the hook for their compliance with illegal surveillance. Criminal prosecutions are highly unlikely, and only allowing a court of law to address the civil charges will give the public the answer that it is entitled to.

And if you won’t do the right thing, Senator, and if your colleagues won’t do the right thing, then come election time, maybe people should vote for Barr or just write in Judge Walker’s name for President. Really.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” — attributed to John Quincy Adams

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