President Obama conducted another one of his aggravating and essentially inutile speeches in front of the press yesterday. He promised some adjustments to the NSA program and talked also about curbing some of the power these companies. It went over the same way his promise to close Gitmo and his promise to prosecute the wrong doers on Wall Street – like a lead balloon. Obama came into office on promises of Hope and Change and as many have said before, in many ways he has been far worse than W.
When Reagan deregulated the Savings And Loans, they all purloined as much money as possible in as short amount of time as they could. Yet during Reagan’s second term, he put almost 1200 of them in front of judges. Imagine how far to the right this country has moved-where a Democratic president is played by Wall Street like a violin and whistleblowers are tortured and pursued for revealing the corruption behind them.
With drone strikes and a nation filled with militarized police, where we are being spied upon by our government and can’t take a water bottle on a plane, Obama’s speeches come off as a weak alembic. Like giving someone who has lived through a car crash a Tylenol. I don’t believe him anymore and no one else does either.
The New York Times said smartly:
“If all Mr. Obama is inclined to do is tweak these programs, then Congress will have to step in to curb these abuses, a path many lawmakers of both parties are already pursuing. There are bills pending that would stop the bulk collection of communications data, restricting it to those under suspicion of terrorism. Other measures would require the surveillance court to make public far more of its work. If the president is truly concerned about public anxiety, he can vocally support legislation to make meaningful changes, rather than urging people to trust him that the dishes are clean.”
Obama promises to reform the Patriot Act. Other than repealing it, a tweak will just become a work around to ideologically driven operatives. I have relatives who are protesting that Obama is coming after their guns. I told one of them that when he supported the Patriot Act, he helped remove the protections of the Fourth Amendment. Once you lost a proscription against “unreasonable search and seizure,” that’s where you lost your guns. This is lost on Conservatives but losing guns, or the possibility that it could happen was a shot that the Republicans fired into their own foot.
But to be taken seriously, you can’t “suggest” that the NSA should reveal the legal rationale for these programs. You can’t “promise to take a look at how to protect civil liberties” and expect real change. The engine is broken down, and all he is bringing to the repair is a wad of gum and some duct tape. He has to do more than jaw about doing more.