The saying goes that history is written by the victors. This is of course true because the reality is that the victors are the only ones left to write it most often. But in sports I find that history remembers more than just the victors, the first placers, and the number ones; sports history records, more than any other kind of history, the unbelievable errors and losses in the annals of history. The three instances that come to mind are Bill Buckner, with his missed ground ball in game six; Chris Webber’s TO at Michigan in the NCAA Championship game; and most recently the fourth & 2 call by Bill Belicheck against the Colts. There are so many more and any fan of any team has their own specific list of worst moves ever they can prattle on about endlessly over beers in Any Tavern, USA.
The ball gets dropped from time to time, and in sports they make note. It becomes part of the myth and history of your franchise, not unlike in politics. Republicans/Democrats in America is treated the same way as a Lakers/Celtics rivalry discussion. Every little mistake, over-rated player, bad call, and crushing defeat is tallied and exploited for your opponents humiliation just as every victory and all-time legendary record is hoisted above your head like a Heavyweight Championship belt. This, in the end, is how we decide winners and losers in sports, but not in this endless game of musical house majority that is democracy. There is no W-L record we can really rely on for this, so we simply point out all-time bad calls and presidents while trying to defend our worst moments with crooked refs and no instant replay…wait, I’m confusing my metaphor with reality now.
Well on the list of great political bloopers on the Democrats side we have some doozies; McGovern in ’68, fucking Eagleton; Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky; public option/death panels, just to name a recent few. The Republicans are no slouches though; they got Iran/Contra; Korea, which one might say was the beginning of defense spending so thanks for that Truman; and the greatest scandal in American history, Watergate, and Nixon overall; republicans win the ‘lousiest president’ debate. But now we have Obama to thank for possibly topping the all-time list of ‘disappointing/ineffective’ presidents with his most recent motion to support extension and only minor language changes to the Patriot Act; he called it a hastily written piece of shoddy legislature during his campaign and promised to see that it was changed to restore civil liberties and rights…doesn’t look so “shoddy” from the oval office now, does it.
Barack has been on a rampage, it seems, to make every bad decision he can and this is no different. He flat-out broke a promise, extending three specific portions of the Patriot Act set to expire at the end of this year, but worst of all he tried to sneak it in under the radar attached to the Pentagon bill which was mostly about spending issues. The genius of this was that 95% of the items voted on were on finances, from military budget, federal debt ceiling increase (if it’s a ceiling, why can we just raise it, we remodel our debt/income house when ever we want, not much of a ‘ceiling’ if you ask me), and a myriad of other items. This is also going on in the quagmire that is health care debate and voting. With all this, the white house issued letters and statements to get this voted on and that they supported an extension.
After this and all his other blunders thus far I have become completely soured on him. First watering down the health care reform, then ridiculous spending, the lack of reform, lack of transparency, the Afghan surge, the Guantanamo Bay BS, now the Patriot Act!? I now understand that Obama really does not care for the civil liberties and the human rights of the American people or those in our custody. It appears he is simply writing another chapter in the “Bush” book, not getting a new book of his own. He has green lit continued wire-tapping, e-mail tapping, and seizing of business records under the Patriot Act. There is also the system of the “sneak-and-peak”, where any agency is allowed to break in to your home, without warrant or notifying you in any way, just to see if they can find evidence to get a legit warrant to prosecute you, and come back with that, and seize all evidence legally.
This is in addition to the suspension of Habeas Corpus for prisoners, which is in effect in America, Guantanamo Bay, as well as military detention bases in ‘war zones’ like in Bar’am. So in addition to not closing Guantanamo Bay, denying rights to trial, prosecution, and legal council, he is now continuing the legislation expanding government power beyond the letter of the law, allowing his administration to continue the rights violating practices that were fear-mongered in to place by Dick Cheney and his administration, I mean the Bush administration. This is the greatest disappointment for me, I was sure the Obama would become a great leader repealing and discontinuing heinous practices as these mentioned, returning America to the level headed, diplomatic nation that it once was. All I can see is continued war and abuse of extended powers like a military junta more than anything else.
You have to understand that these laws were put in place under extensive stress, fear, and panic. The nation as a whole was willing to hear any argument and willing to sacrifice a little now for the greater good on the back end. We gave up civil rights to restore relative safety. What happened was illegal activities and use of laws that was never intended; the “sneak-and-peak” has been used for drug related activities in far more instances than in any terrorist investigation. The abuse was ok then, we needed someone to throw down the gauntlet and go to town for this country, and we had just the redneck to do it. In that time of uncertainty this nation was impressionable and easily swayed, so laws were broken and we were able to accept it as a temporary, necessary invasion in the name of peace and security.
What we have now though is a complete disregard for the lessons we should be learning from those most bloody times. We need to admit that these laws were unconstitutional, hasty, and did not even serve a purpose to the end for which they were designed. As a nation we gave the thumbs-up to the Patriot Act, then, because we knew that a full review and a long drawn out debate would come to pass when the Act’s time was up. This did not occur, no discuss happened, it was a small part of a massive bill that was up for a vote. More time was allotted for the defense budget and estate tax than went to the reinstatement of my God-damned civil liberties. As far back as November of 2008, people like Adam Cohen of the NYTimes was writing that many were feeling that Obama could hear and weigh the arguments of those that see him as a chance to end this Act and take governmental power back to a pre-9/11 status. Barack Obama would be a voice of reason, as he said he would be during his campaign, and pull back the reigns of a government run amok, restoring this country to a time of innocence, before our vulnerability was so savagely revealed to us.
Still, today our prisoners with suspected ties to terrorism don’t get their rights, none at all in a war zone prison; we can still put prisoners under rendition, the practice of changing custody of one of our prisoners to a foreign country with more lax standards of human rights in order to extract what we want; we can wire tap; read your e-mail; break in to your home or business LOOKING for cause to come back with a legal warrant, and all this in the greatest country in the world!? The proletariate, you, should be up in arms over the laws of a savage time continuing in to this presidency one more day than they set to last for. An abuse of power like this is something we would embargo Cuba for, threaten Iran for, speak strongly against N. Korea for, and yet you and I are the victims here with no one to speak for us except condescending senators and representatives.
The fear we live in and the concerns of the American people have changed. We have now allowed our foreign policy to determine domestic issues; this is the way to ruin and a state of martial law now continues on our soil despite having the eyes for 20/20 hindsight. You must realize that your stripped away civil liberties will continue on simply for political gain. Same as with the increased debt ceiling and dropped public option, the Patriot Act was extended so the republican party had less cannon fodder for the 2010 mid-term elections. These crucial policy decisions were made not for what was best for the American people, but what was best for the democratic power structure. Time and time again this country, the people that make it more than just real estate between Mexico and Canada, has been dropped by the wayside for the good of political power and industry. The trickle down effect works in reverse when it comes to policy, we at the bottom of the pile get pissed on first.
The gavel was replaced with a gun eight years ago. Justice was found on the business end of an M-16, and we were fine with justifying the means to the end through the red filter of rage. America was willing to set aside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as grant the President powers far beyond those set forth by the checks and balances our founding fathers created, or those approved of by the U.N. From 2001 to 2004 we were willing to believe anything and from 2004 until 2008 we were powerless to stop the monster we had created in our post-9/11 Frankenstein phase as we watched it tear countries asunder, including our own. With Obama we were to get all of the benefits of living in the greatest country on earth, from the bottom up. He stood as a beacon of hope for change; not to something new, but to something old, from a time before we lost our innocence in Manhattan and became afraid of our own shadows and those that operated in them. For me the last of those dreams, the constitutional rights of 2000, has died, leaving me no longer hopeful, but weary, of Obama’s last three years in office. You are my Buckner, Barack Obama, you made the list.