Thursday, March 22, 2012

When Did Obama Go Wrong and Why Is Eastwood Right?

I'm just recalling Obama's first thirty days in office. He demanded Guantanamo Bay trials end immediately and the base be closed within one year, he signed a bill requiring equal pay for women, outlined a new energy policy, restored funding to women's health centers, outlined his plan to remove all troops from Iraq, and reached out for peace in the Middle East. And I started thinking the America that had become so frightened of bogeymen that it allowed Congress and the President to strip away its civil rights with the Patriot Act and a series of Presidential letters that allowed everything from tapping our phones to installing a kill switch on the internet was maybe starting to emerge from its shell and demand we return to the days of freedom and liberty. Then things started to change. Slowly at first. Obama fired the general in charge of operations in Afghanistan, then blocked the release of photographs showing torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration had allowed such photographs, even though they caused a great deal of embarrassment and backlash.Alright, I thought. Maybe he's got a point here. Why stir up hatred in countries where our troops have to deal with the consequences of such photos.

Yes to the Patriot Act and NDAA

But it slowly got worse and worse. There were some more promises kept, and some progressive legislation passed over the summer of 2009, including a climate change bill and benefits for partners of Federal workers. Then in July the overhaul of the Medicare and Medicaid systems began and nothing since has made a damn bit of sense. In October Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, which would later turn out to be quite ironic. The year ended with the Senate passing the health care reform bill.

After a couple of terrorist scares, including the shootings at Ft. Hood and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempts to set off a bomb on a flight bound for Detroit, Obama started to talk tough about terrorism. His demeanor on Gitmo and civil rights started to change. He extended President Bush's wire tap measures, backed off on his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, signed a four year extension of the Patriot Act on May 26, 2011, then on January 2, 2012, when he knew no one was looking, signed into law the most noxious legislation and legion of Congressional cowards any punks had ever dare send to an American president to sign... the NDAA.

The National Defense Authorization Act greatly expands the power and scope of the federal government to fight the War on Terror, including codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Under the new law the US military has the power to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations on US soil. In essence, the NDAA makes America a war zone where all civil rights guaranteed to American citizens by the Constitution can be summarily overturned by the government. 

So, how did this President, this President in particular, who campaigned on hope and equality and specifically ending the tyranny of the Bush administration  and Guantanamo Bay and torture end up signing a defense act that authorized powers of oppression and tyranny over its own citizens that would have gagged any previous president? What happened to Barack Obama? 

This isn't what I voted for. It's not something I want to vote for again. But what's the alternative? The Republican candidate? No thank you. Then I have all this and a moral war on everything from abortion to gay marriage to obscenity. One quote i saw that seemed to make a lot of sense to me came from Clint Eastwood. When asked about gay marriage he said  "I don't give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We're making a big deal out of things we shouldn't be making a deal out of ... Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want."

How about we all just leave each other the hell alone?

He went on to say "I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War," Eastwood tells the magazine. "And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let's spend a little more time leaving everybody alone." 

But no matter how one side seems to talk about equality and the other side talks about a smaller government. everybody seems to be getting comfortable with using the government to settle personal moral squabbles. I don't feel comfortable with that at all. I think I'd like to try Clint Eastwood's way and just stay the hell out of each other's business. 

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