10.15.2008

What Do You Wish the Candidates Would Talk About?

HERE is what i wish Obama would steer the conversation to in tonight's debate. Silly me, assuming the conversation between our two potential Commanders-in-Chief is steerable:


"And after 9/11, in the wake of this massive failure, they started sweeping up everything. Everything in the entire world. They are recording everything, building a giant facility in Texas the size of the Alamodome to store all the data. The warrantless eavesdropping was authorized at the very top be Justice Department legal opinions so secret that the NSA's OWN LAWYERS were not allowed to look at them. They are getting this information by setting up big rooms at telecommunications facilities to tap the major switchers of the top companies (they have outsourced the tapping to a group of tiny companies, many from Israel), and they even built a large submarine to directly feed into the undersea cables which house overseas communications.

It is an unbelievable and infuriating story. What I am writing right now, what all of you are writing, every word you say on the phone, every text message, every email - the government has it. Locked up in a room in Texas. And the legality is so murky that it's basically indemnified.

An Obama Administration faces challenges in the economy at home and with failing occupations abroad. But there's the very real question of whether there's a functioning Constitution to begin with. If the government can sweep up the communications of every man, woman and child on the planet, if the government can sign off on torture and indefinite detention, and if the Congress can essentially indemnify the government for doing so, what is this state that Obama would inherit?

If this isn't discussed openly before the election, it becomes that much harder to actually reverse these policies, which have been growing through inertia for at least six years, if not longer, and which Congress has basically rubber-stamped. Obama has agreed to look at every executive order and throw out the ones that are unconstitutional. That is not a specific enough answer. Signals intelligence and the NSA needs to be addressed. Torture and rendition need to be addressed. We practically don't have a country to lead anymore, or at least one worth leading. The Constitution, the founding document, has become a non-issue in this election or really any election. No President has tarnished it as much as this one, and yet we continue on, muddling through, talking about tax cuts or who has the more comfortable demeanor. This election may repudiate conservatism but it's necessary to define terms. Is it a rollback of torture? A rollback of the surveillance state? A rollback of official secrecy and lost civil liberties? I don't think we know. And I think we need to have that conversation out in the open.

Are we ever going to talk about our loss of honor as a nation?"


What do YOU wish the Candidates would talk about in tonight's final debate? Tell me by leaving a comment.

4 comments:

fst said...

Valid point(s) of discussion.

I would offer, though, that while the topics merit attention the entire discussion is rendered academic without a viable economy and Senator Obama's fiscal policies -- regardless of the current state of the national, much less world economy -- will neuter ours within two years.

His tax cuts aren't genuine cuts, but tax credits misrepresented as cuts. He'll raise more taxes then he'll lower and in doing so not only cripple small business, but nullify venture capital and halt job creation.

It is noble to wish either candidate would raise such questions, but it's all for naught without an economy to support us. Not just governmentally or internally, but personally; family to family.

Cripple the economy and we'll be bickering over bullets, not whether or not Big Brother is reading my email.

I could be wrong, of course, but what if I'm not?

Sam said...

You make good points Scott. I hope the increase in taxes that Obama plans for the super rich--and for ginormous corporations such as those earning record profits from peddling foreign oil here--will be offset by some serious gardening of our economy. I for one am sick to death of READING about how green our economy could become. I am ready to see the green collar jobs actually supported, the way we apparently support the auto, oil, and financial sectors with our tax dollars. There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that cleaning up our consumptive habits and rethinking how we live could sustain our economy. I believe we have to find a way to bring back good old manufacturing of durable goods and products, but i realize conventional wisdom says i am very much in the minority there. What happens these days to kids who decide NOT to go to college? 40 years ago they could get a manufacturing job and live just as well as any college-educated professional. Not so today.

All that aside--and political ideology aside--all evidence points to Obama surrounding himself with the best and the brightest minds, whether in terms of stewardship of the economy, the environment, taxes and fiscal policy, and entitlement reform. Collectively, they have strategies to avoid the pitfalls you mention. I for one am ready for us to move away from the Milton Freidmanesque trickle down business. The more i find out about who McCain surrounds himself with, the more scared i become (e.g. G. Gordon Liddy and William Timmons... sheesh, get Tony Soprano while you are at it John).

Another of my secret wishes is that Obama would tackle the waste, fraud, and largesse within our military machine. No one, unforts, will talk about that for fear of seeming weak. McCain, to his credit, is at least willing to talk about his record of exposing fraud and waste and cronyism within contracting in the Military-Industrial machine (I think there is only one instance, and he works it well). Military spending is the real gorilla eating our resources. We simply cannot afford to maintain 1,000 bases around the world, and we certainly don't have the moral imperative to continue to be Globocop. It's got to stop, and we have to get our own house in order.

And of course, I too could be wrong about all this...

fst said...

I'd take Milton Freidman over Woodrow Wilson, for what it's worth.

This whole "tax cuts for 95% of Americans" has to be more than a bit of a sham, no? If it's truly 95% of citizens then he's heaping in people who -- through the earned income tax credit -- don't pay taxes already. How can you pay less when you don't pay any to start with? It's an ugly word called "welfare." It's income re-distribution and it puts a foul taste in my mouth.

"Globocop," though? That's rich.

Sam said...

Well I wouldn't willingly take Freidman over anyone. His ideas are responsible for more unrest, death, and destruction of entire cultures than Christianity is. He was a whacko Scott.

And surely anyone can agree that our Military, bigger than every other military in the world combined, is bloated and in need of serious reform? After 8 years of Bush and Cheney, it not only eats pallets and pallets of cash as payola for the "surge," but morale and nuts and bolts of the whole operation are all in turmoil... not to mention attrition in the top ranks. Yet our military is still asked to be Globocop.

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