Posts tagged Barack Obama

Alabama Sin Miedo / Alabama Unafraid

The immigrant justice movement is a freedom struggle. This is exactly what is needed. More confrontation. More direct action. Not one more deportation.

Shared Article from inthesetimes.com

The Immigration Movement’s Left Turn

Advocates are moving away from the “pathway-to-citizenship” compromise—and are demanding a moratorium on deportations.

inthesetimes.com


#Not1More #BordersAreStupid #ShutDownICE

Shared by Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

Who will be the Obama administration’s two-millionth deportee? The question haunts neighborhoods, schools and workplaces from Phoenix to Philadelphia.

And as the Obama administration continues its en masse removal of undocumented immigrants, that unlucky distinction could go to any of the roughly 11 million undocumented people who call the U.S. home—a carwash worker nabbed for a broken taillight; a field laborer who has overstayed her work visa; or a youth donning a cap and gown, deliberately crossing the path of the border patrol in a show of civil disobedience.

Deportations are expected to reach the 2 million mark in early April, and activists are campaigning fiercely at the gates of detention centers, border checkpoints and congressional offices to show the White House they will not let the Obama administration’s reach that milestone without a fight.

Last month in Alabama, immigrant rights advocates organized one such action by forming a human chain outside the Etowah County Detention Center, chanting “not one more”—the rallying cry of a wave of anti-deportation actions that have swept the nation over the past year, gaining political currency as a social media campaign, a slogan at street demonstrations, and more recently, a political salvo in Washington, where more conciliatory policy demands from inside the Beltway have sputtered.

One protester at the Etowah rally, Gwendolyn Ferreti Manjarrez, declared, “I am tired of living with the fear that my family or any family can be torn apart at the seams for living our everyday life.”

— Michelle Chen, The Immigration Movement’s Left Turn,
from In These Times (1 April 2014)

No higher law

At a recent grandstanding speech on immigration reform, in which Barack Obama attempted to pass himself off as a supporter of immigrants while presiding over the unprecedented, relentless deportation of two million, immigrant families and activists confronted him over his record. He responded by passing the buck, and insisting that he was powerless.

Our families are separated, a young man yelled during remarks in San Francisco at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center. Mr. President, please use your executive authority to halt [deportations]. We agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but at the same time, you have the power to stop deportations.

Actually, I don’t,[1] the president replied, and that’s why we’re here.

Other people in the crowd began to yell as well: Stop deportations. Yes, we can.

. . . What you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if in fact I could solve all of these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,[2] he said. But we’re [sic] also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition.

So the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our [sic] laws, he continued.

— Elise Foley, Obama Confronts Hecklers At Immigration Speech, in the Huffington Post (25 November 2013)

If laws command injustice, then those laws ought to be violation. A nation of laws is nothing more than a rigid structure of power; and when that power is turned against innocent families, it deserves no respect, and no loyalty. Those who administer that power inflict real evil on helpless victims, and when they excuse themselves for responsibility by pointing to the laws, by pointing to political etiquette, by pointing to the demands of their office, they are doing nothing less, and nothing more, than saying that their political ambitions and political interests are more important to them than the rights of innocent people.

A law that commands injustice should be treated as no law at all. There is no office that can nullify a man’s conscience, no order that erases moral responsibility. There is no higher law than human rights or common decency. We have here the most privileged man on the face of the earth lecturing disenfranchised immigrant families about how powerless he supposedly is to stop — the most privileged man on the face of the earth begging that he is supposedly powerless over detention and deportation quotas that he set; begging that he is supposedly powerless to restrain the force of agencies directly responsible to him and his appointees; defending his own political cowardice, and tossing around contemptuous lines about easy ways out, delivered to the victims of his own detestable politically-driven assaults on immigrants.

Barack Obama’s record on immigration has been shameful. And his endless political excuse-making for record mass deportations, is despicable.

Also.

  1. [1] This is, of course, a lie. Obama has repeatedly used executive power to unilaterally halt enforcement and to halt legal proceedings when he found it in his political interest to do so.
  2. [2] This is, of course, a lie.

Direction of Fit (Progressive President Edition)

In a recent Change You Can Believe In piece, I linked to this video, tagging it with a rather bitter joke: Man, this guy sounds pretty awesome. I hope he runs for President in the next election, so we can have a chance to change this Administration’s increasingly repressive policies.

Barack Obama (2007)

Over on Twitter, Kevin Carson (@KevinCarson1) re-worked the joke into 140 characters or fewer, like this:

Charles Johnson: Vote — to replace Obama with this guy!

But of course the real bitterness of the joke comes from the fact that it is a trick. The real trick is that actually you could not possibly vote to replace President Obama with that guy. You can only vote to make that guy into President Obama. And that has made all the difference.

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. V, Nos. 6–8). Wiretaps, Journalists and Drugs.

I know in the past I’ve been down on electoral politics and maverick candidates as a means to political change. But man, this guy sounds pretty awesome. I hope he runs for President in the next election, so we can have a chance to change this Administration’s increasingly repressive policies.

Barack Obama (2007)

. . . This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. I will provide our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists, without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is convenient. . . .

Here is a story for July. From Jennifer Epstein, at Politico.com:

White House opposes defense funding bill amendment.

The White House opposes an amendment to the defense funding bill that would restrict the National Security Agency’s ability to collect communications data, press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Tuesday evening.

We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools, Carney said, referring to the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act put forward by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and backed by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), among others.

This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process, Carney said, with no hint to the irony of speaking about a secretive program in such terms. We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.

— Jennifer Epstein, White House opposes defense funding bill amendment
Politico.com (July 23, 2013)

Of course the President opposes this attempt at a minor restriction on unbridled Executive power. He is the President.

And when you elect a progressive President, you’re going to find that the fact that he is President is always of much greater practical significance than the fact that he claims to be progressive.

Here’s a story for August. One of the things that the progressive President does with the NSA surveillance apparatus that he does not want to hastily dismantle is to target, monitor, and retaliate against dissident journalists.

Leaker Edward Snowden accused the National Security Agency of targeting reporters who wrote critically about the government after the 9/11 attacks and warned it was unforgivably reckless for journalists to use unencrypted email messages when discussing sensitive matters.

Snowden said in an interview with the New York Times Magazine published Tuesday that he came to trust Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who, along with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, helped report his disclosure of secret surveillance programs, because she herself had been targeted by the NSA.

“Laura and [Guardian reporter] Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures,” Snowden said for the article, a profile of Poitras.

Snowden didn’t detail how Poitras was targeted by the NSA surveillance programs he disclosed, but suggested the agency tracked her emails and cautioned other journalists that they could be under surveillance.

— Jonathan Easley, NSA targeted journalists critical of government after 9/11
Qtd. by J.D. Tuccile, in Reason (August 14, 2013)

Another thing they do with that, as you may recall, is to use it to provide secret leads and evidence for the DEA to double down on the U.S. government’s insane war on drugs

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial.

— John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke, U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans
Reuters news wire, quoted by Matt Welch at Reason (August 5, 2013)

… Which brings us back around to our story for June. From Jacob Sullum, at Reason:

Judging From Prosecutions, Obama is 80 Percent Worse Than Bush on Medical Marijuana

According to a new report from California NORML, over 335 defendants have been charged with federal crimes related to medical marijuana in states with medical marijuana laws. Despite Barack Obama’s promises of prosecutorial restraint in this area, 153 medical marijuana cases have been brought in the 4¼ years of the Obama administration, nearly as many as under the 8 years of the Bush administration (163). In other words, Obama is averaging 36 medical marijuana prosecutions a year, compared to 20 a year under his predecessor. And although Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly claimed the Justice Department is not targeting suppliers who comply with state law, the DOJ has targeted many facilities that were in full compliance with local laws and regulations.

The overwhelming majority of these cases, 259, involve California dispensaries. California NORML also counts at least 31 cases in Montana, 15 in Nevada, 12 in Michigan, 10 in Washington, six in Oregon, and two in Colorado. Nine out of 10 cases concluded so far have resulted in convictions, with 158 defendants receiving prison sentences totaling more than 480 years. About 50 are in federal prison right now, while others await sentencing or have been sentenced but have not begun serving their time yet.

— Jacob Sullum, Judging from Prosecutions, Obama Is 80 Percent Worse Than Bush on Medical Marijuana
Reason (June 14, 2013)

I had a joke that I used to run in these features that played off our Progressive Peace President’s 2008 campaign slogan, which was to close off these posts with some variation on The more things Change…. It seemed funny to me at the time. It’s not as funny to me anymore. Because in fact things have not stayed the same, at least not on this front. While campaigning as an alleged supporter of civil liberties — while promising to roll back the abuses of the Bush Administration’s war cabinet — while promising to dial down the rampant drug war and the criminalization of young men of color — and while making one grandstanding lie after another, Obama’s government has spent the last five years actively making the situation worse for civil liberties, and for drug war targets, than it was when he entered office. This Progressive administration’s wholehearted embrace of an authoritarian security state, and expansion of the very policies and programs that they had condemned in the Bush administration, has been aided and abetted by many professional-class Progressive voters and commentators, who have excused this Administration’s policies, vilified its critics, and pragmatically embraced its institutionalization of unchecked executive power. By any standard of individual liberty, social equality, or plain old humanitarian compassion, his record in office has been appalling, and those who promoted this Presidency as a means of improving political conditions ought to be embarrassed and apologetic in light of the practical outcome.

There is no such thing as a limited police state

Use of sneak-and-peek secret search warrants in federal investigations 2006-2009.

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial.

— John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke, U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans
Reuters news wire, quoted by Matt Welch at Reason (August 5, 2013)

Well of course the NSA’s secret data-gathering, spying and warrantless wiretaps have been used to prosecute American drug cases. Every single fascist National Security monitoring program, secret search and seizure method, surveillance policy, financial regulation, foreign-aid slush fund, paramilitary police program and executive power that has been created over the last 20 years in the name of counter-terrorism — including large sections of Clinton’s AEDPA and large sections of Bush Jr.’s PATRIOT Act — has been utilized, over and over again, by federal prosecutors and the DEA in order to gather evidence and coerce testimony in drug cases. Every single National Security state program, regardless of its alleged purpose, has been used to strengthen the narcs’ hand, and to double down on the federal government’s insane and destructive prosecution of a War on Drugs. This one is just as outrageous; but it’s no different, and no more surprising.

Now, even if there were such a thing as a limited National Security state — even if there were some way to create a counter-terrorism-only police state, which would focus on a single threat without creating a general, all-powerful police state in the process — it would still mean shredding civil liberties, targeting people and activities which ought to be presumed innocent, and it would still be destructive and wrong.

But, in any case, there is no such thing. There is no way to focus a police state on only one group of people or one part of life; there are no partial or limited police states. There is only a police state — one which will come for you sooner, or later.