Friday, March 23, 2012

I Continue To Be Convinced That Voting For President Will Be A Waste Of Time

Conor Friedersdorf reminds us that President Obama's record on civil liberties is spotty at best; in fact, it can probably be described as deplorable.
As political scientist Jonathan Bernstein put it:
What will the 2012 Democratic Party platform say about civil liberties? What will it say about the U.S. government's lethal attacks on citizens overseas? About Gitmo and military tribunals? About drone wars? And, perhaps a more important question: Will Democratic activists push the party to keep and perhaps strengthen its platform -- and if so, will the Obama campaign push back?
It's an uncomfortable choice: either betray your principles and accept the Bush-Cheney-Obama approach to the War on Terror, or else highlight in a minor way how your standard-bearer has betrayed the principles on which he ran and adopted so many of the policies he once criticized. . . .
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney continues to get checks from Bain Capital, a company that profits from helping the Chinese government do a better job of destroying any civil liberties its citizens might try to keep.

The New York Times reported today that Bain Capital, the private equity firm started by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, owns a Chinese company, Uniview, that supplies highly advanced surveillance equipment to the Chinese government. China’s authoritarian rulers are using the equipment to create an “omniscient monitoring system” throughout the country, according to a Human Rights Watch researcher quoted by the Times. “When it comes to surveillance, China is pretty upfront about its totalitarian ambitions,” said Nicholas Bequelin.
To realize those totalitarian ambitions, China’s authorities, with Bain Capital’s help, are expanding the country’s already vast network of surveillance cameras. The city of Chongqing is spending $4.2 billion for a network of 500,000 cameras, Guangdong Province is installing a million cameras, and Beijing is planning to put cameras in all entertainment venues, the Times reported.
The authorities use these cameras, along with Internet monitoring and cellphone surveillance, to monitor as much of the entire population as possible. But they are particularly interested in keeping a permanent eye on democracy advocates, intellectuals, religious figures and other people they deem dangerous. For example, police used a surveillance camera to record a human rights lawyer named Li Tiantian entering a hotel with men other than her boyfriend, then taunted her about her sex life and threatened to show the tape to her boyfriend. “The scale of intrusion into people’s private lives is unprecedented,” Li told the Times. “Now when I walk on the street, I feel so vulnerable, like the police are watching me all the time.”
I suppose a difference exists between the two men; the former considers civil liberties the source of an easily broken political promise whereas the other sees them as a marketing ploy.  Both positions demean the Presidency.

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