A friend posted an indictment of President Obama’s surveillance policy (as a realization of the Patriot Act) with regard to wiretaps by the NSA. You can find it here at: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-times-obama-nsa-phone-scandal-editorial-nyt-2013-6.
It was of particular interest because it was from the editorial board of the New York Times, a paper considered by many to have a liberal bias. The reason I am offering this article is because I agree with it. I believe that the President is allowing government overreach in the name of security, and I believe that we are compromising fundamental aspects of freedom by taking liberties with the 4th, 5th, and 1st amendments; all designed to protect our personal freedom.
Overreach is an abuse of power.
But I offer a caveat. A huge caveat: When we make this an Obama-specific issue we are causing a stalemate for the solution. The post drew applause from right wingers who chastise every move this President makes, yet I never heard a peep from them when the Patriot Act was created. I never heard “boo” from them when President Bush created the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” that first allowed the NSA to conduct warrantless wiretapping.
I never heard a whimper of criticism from these same people who are accusing President Obama of a tyrannical abuse of power when a previous President defended his suspension of habeas corpus for suspected terrorists, domestic or foreign.
This isn’t backpeddling on my position of adherence to the Bill of Rights, but a question arises that exploits a contradiction within the electorate.
Let’s say, public outcry for this government invasion of privacy brings about legislation that makes it impossible to do this kind of warrantless surveillance. And then….let’s imagine that an act of domestic terrorism takes place where innocent Americans are killed.
Now…what if an investigation reveals that a more aggressive and clandestine surveillance policy would have stopped the event from taking place? Let’s drill down even further and let’s say someone you knew was killed and it is revealed that warrantless surveillance could have thwarted the terrorist cell from the committing the crime….
Now, where do you stand?
This is the paradox and why, especially post-9/11, government intelligence has expanded the gray areas of what is allowable and what is not in accordance to our rights to privacy.
However, I stand by my personal position that we cannot allow for unrestricted surveillance because security that compromises our individual liberties is a contradiction. We also have to recognize that this dilemma was created by all of us, right, left, and in-between, and is not solely the overreaching of this administration; it is the extension of what we have allowed and even demanded as an electorate.
But, finger pointing, contradictions and double standards seem to rule the public debate. I woke up the other day to a post that said I had declared my candidacy for the Iowa House (I haven’t). It was posted by a former candidate who ran as a Republican for the House several years ago and for the Iowa Senate two years ago. He lost both times and although I consider him a friend, I opposed him largely because of his antiquated, fundamentalist views against civil rights for gay Americans.
I think he bears ill-will toward me because he wrote: “I think you’ll find running…and losing…a rewarding experience.”
The post was quickly populated by his conservative friends, all of whom, chastised me because I’m a Democrat. One said, “Kroeger would be a vote against America and Freedom!”
Another: “I read his column the other day and it was all bullshit.” (http://wcfcourier.com/news/opinion/guest_column/have-you-taken-stock-of-your-jeopardized-liberties-lately/article_b252beb0-c947-11e2-b3ad-0019bb2963f4.html)
It went from there. I did fire back at that one, but once I expose myself in attendance I am begging for the litany of insults that will follow and so quickly I bowed out. It doesn’t really upset me to be called an “idiot,” or “another brainwashed liberal,” because the people throwing such darts rarely elevate their own thoughts above name-calling, but it is pointless to defend. “Bullshit” was probably one of the more sophisticated adjectives used to describe my views.
Most of the hostile reaction was directed at a statement where I offered: “America can improve and so can this administration, but unless we can acknowledge good things that have happened in the past 4 years, the discourse is nothing but partisan and hostile.”
I had pointed out in my article (the one full of “bullshit”) that the stock market was robust (it is), that my mortgage rate was still good (it is), that friends of mine who have lived in fear without health insurance are now relieved (they are), and that combat operations have ended in Iraq, Bin Laden is dead, and we are reducing troops in Afghanistan (they have, he is and we are). Not sure where the bullshit lies.
My point was to illustrate that we can improve but when we are constantly ducking for cover because “The sky is falling!” then the conversations that could better our situation become more difficult, if not impossible.
It occurs to me that being in government is a lot like being in advertising, which is my profession. When a client is getting traffic and selling products, it is because they have good products, good service and a good reputation. When they aren’t, it’s because the advertising sucks.
We have major policy issues in America, unemployment is still too high, and we have a debt/interest rate crisis, but…businesses are growing again, unemployment is coming down, deficit spending is half of what it was at the end of Bush’s second term, the stock market hit new highs, the housing market has rebounded, American cars are selling again, yet according to many Republicans, “Obama is the worst President in history!”
You can’t win for losing.
I AM declaring my candidacy! But, not for next year, for some time thereafter…maybe 2016. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue writing about and debating the issues I believe America needs to address.
And government- Stay away from my phone, my email and my texts!