Behold: The Audacity of Mope

Someone had to have thought of that already. C’est la vie, onto our regulalry scheduled rant:

In the span of 48 hours, just two days, Barack [tag]Obama[/tag] managed to break not one but two campaign promises. He’s not even captured the office he’s running for, and already pledges made on the campaign trail are getting jettisoned.

Just once – one time – I’d like a politician to prove my cynicism ill-founded. Just once. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong when it comes to my so-called negative outlook and politics.

Now, for the record, I’m not voting for [tag]McCain[/tag]; I think I won’t be voting for anyone in the next presidential election. I’m a registered independent; the Republican and Democratic parties are merely flipsides of the same coin, from my perspective. I don’t really have any problem with Obama, at least not more so than I do with any other career politician. The zealotry and blind, mindless devotion of his devotees that swallow his rhetoric without question does bother me, but that’s beside the point. I don’t think I’m going to vote because I’m damn sick and tired of having to vote for the lesser of two evils. I’m drawing a philosophical line in the sand, for what it is worth, which is about two cents shy of diddley squat.

Needless to say I’ve maintained a healthy skepticism of Obama from the start; I’ve not been impressed with his voting record in the Senate, not that I am with any of our Congressional leaders, really. But I’ve always felt that his voting record belies the quote-unquote audacity of hope he seems to engender in others. I figured that, like all career politicians, he was doing and saying what he needs to get elected, these past few years.

I do think it’s absolutely wonderful that in my lifetime an African American – with a name like his, no less – captured the nomination of one of the two major political parties and has a shot at the presidency of these United States. I even hope he wins – but I can’t, in good faith, vote for him. I’m under no illusions when it comes to Obama, although I’m sure many would argue that I suffer under the Audacity of Mope.

Heh, I think I may have to rename my blog that: the Audacity of Mope. Maybe print up t-shirts of Morrissey or Robert Smith. But I digress, as usual.

I am rather surprised, however, that Obama is already shedding the [tag]campaign[/tag] promises so quickly. Given my [tag]cynicism[/tag], I suppose I should have seen it coming, but geez, already, dude? I guess even I held out a little hope the new potential boss-elect wouldn’t be the same as the old boss, in spite of what I knew in my heart of hearts to be true.

To wit: on Thursday of last week, Obama announced that he wouldn’t accept public financing of his presidential campaign, opting instead to rely on his already extensive coffers provided by private contributors. For those that don’t follow this sort of thing, opting for public [tag]campaign financing[/tag] means that a candidate can only use money set aside in the federal treasury once he or she (almost) gets a party’s official nomination. Up until that time, private funds are fair game. Obama’s decision comes even though he pledged (several times, as I recall) during his Democratic primary campaign that he would accept public funding and the accompanying limits if McCain would. For his part, McCain has managed not to flip flop on this, so far, and says he will.

It’s not surprising in retrospect; Obama has blown the doors off campaign fund raising records. One could argue that as a minority candidate, he needs all the help he can get. I’m not arguing that – but then he should have had the foresight to say this ahead of time; at the very least he should have come forward sooner. If you’re going to talk the talk, you should walk the walk. He should have had, dare I say it, the audacity to hope that Americans would understand. And given Obama supporters’ near-religious fanatical devotion, I doubt it would have mattered one way or the other.

So that’s one big fat campaign promise shot to hell. Then, only a day later, Obama said he supported the House version of the domestic spy bill, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For me, the biggest problem here is that he, or anyone that says they are American, for that matter, supports FISA at all, in its current form or that in the House bill. The old FISA enabled the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a wiretap for up to 72 hours while waiting for court approval as delineated by the legislation. Under this new, so-called compromise bill, the NSA could conduct a wiretap for up to a week on a suspected U.S. citizen and can continue to do so during related court appeals. What’s more, this new FISA allows the government to use any information it collects as evidence in a court of law, even if a FISA-related court finally rules that its surveillance is unlawful.

Dude, where’s my country? I guess the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are just a D.C. tourist attractions these post 9/11 days, and nothing more.

At some point, if we’re really the good guys, we have to start acting like the good guys, again, if we ever did. Good guys don’t do this sort of stuff. Good guys don’t spy on their own citizens and terrorists be damned, along with domestic fear mongers. The ends do not justify the means. This is America and its damn well time we started acting like it again – for The Children©™ if nothing else. Otherwise, The Terrorists Have Already Won©™ You know, I was always taught as a child in school, that we had … oh, let me see … certain inalienable rights, as U.S. citizens, and that these were inviolate, and that protecting them was of utmost importance, even a matter of life and death. I even believed it; I guess I still do, and that’s why I get upset about this sort of stuff. But while I’m wishing for a politician that’s not full of B.S., maybe I’ll wish for everything I learned in civics and social studies classes not to be empty rhetoric, too.

But I digress yet again; let’s get back to Obama-rama. Obama said during his primary campaign, with regard to FISA, that he wouldn’t vote for a bill that contained retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that aided and abetted the NSA in its spying, should said spying prove illegal in certain (if not all) instances. This seems to me to be a minor point of FISA, although it’s an aspect that seems to get all the media attention and ensuing discussion (maybe because telcos are big money/lobbyists on Capitol Hill?). It’s like worrying about whether or not the guy who heated up the hot poker that your torturer is about to sodomize me with will get punished – I’d rather not get sodomized with a hot poker at all, and if anyone should be responsible, it’s the person doing the thrusting.

Sorry for the graphic analogy, but I’m a wee bit passionate about this, despite my cynicism. I thought I was supposed to calm down when I got to middle age?

So, when the House passed this quote-unquote compromise on FISA (how is it a comprise when the Democrats rolled over, again, for the umpteenth time), replete with telco immunity, Obama had this to say:

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

He does say prior to this that he will try and “work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses,” so I’ll give him credit for that. Technically, I suppose he hasn’t broken his campaign promise yet, but then he’s technically not the Democratic candidate, yet, either. And he basically says he’ll support it, telco immunity or not. I think my favorite history blog, “Edge of the American West” – which also seems to cover a lot of current politics as well (at least one of the several bloggers there are fervent Obama supporters, even), put it best:

Here’s the link for their original post; it contains a link to Obama’s full statement from Friday, June 20, on FISA. Of course, being a cynic, I can’t help but wonder if there are any telcos on Obama’s contributor list. Actually, I’d be surprised if there were not, but then I am imbued with the Audacity of Mope.

That reminds me, I have to plug another blog I read regularly (I guess I need to update my blogroll): PostBourgie: the Audacity of Dope. Relax, conservative types; it’s not that kind of dope.