Sunday, January 15, 2012

Obama Comes Out Against SOPA

Another exceptionally busy - but extremely rewarding - day down at Arisia. MANY thanks to fans who turned up to say "hi" at the Gender in Gaming, PC Gaming panels. More details, naturally, when I get settled back home on Monday night (or Tuesday morning.)

Anyway! Proving once again that the BEST kind of politician is a politician facing a "base versus base" re-election fight, the Obama Administration has come out against the SOPA bill... and was subsequently dissed for doing so by Rupert Murdoch. Like I said, Election 2012 is reliable-base versus reliable-base (neither party has a record worth running on, so the strategy on both sides will be to fight so dirty that the only people who'll show up to vote will be the pre-decided base) so big, sweeping "stuff that's popular with my likely supporters" moves are the name of the game. Score one for the good guys.

Since I know someone is already prepping the "b-b-b-but the NDAA!!!!" response, here's my take on that: It sucks, it's scary, I hate it... but I also recognize that ANY electable U.S. politician would've signed it at this point in time regardless of party. Speaking only for myself, MY calculation goes like this: Right now, the NDAA would be unlikely to survive a challenge at the Supreme Court, and will get even LESS likely to survive with each new "liberal" justice that could potentially be appointed in Obama's second term... BUT, should the Republicans re-take the Presidency, the judges they'd be likely to appoint could easily swing the Court toward UPHOLDING the NDAA.

For me, this is the ultimate "politics for grownups" realization: You don't elect presidents as "leaders," you elect them as MASCOTS - vanguards of a broad party/political-philosophy. NOTHING is more important in modern (and forseeable-future) American law than the makeup of the Supreme Court and Federal Bench, and only Presidents can appoint judges. That's why it doesn't matter what Obama (or Romney, or whoever else) "says" they believe about abortion, gay-marriage, etc - they WILL appoint Judges who'll side either with the broad-liberal or broad-conservative narrative, and THAT will decide the course of countless future laws.

George W. Bush replaced two right-wing Supremes with two more right-wing Supremes. If ANY liberal/democrat/progressive politician had been President instead, we'd have an UNSTOPPABLY-progressive, secular, pro-science, pro-reason, anti-tradition-for-tradition's-sake Supreme Court and would be living in (IMHO) a vastly better America as a result. THAT - above all else - decides who I support and how I vote. Not men. Not character. Not even speeches or promises. Judges, judges, judges.

16 comments:

Samuel said...

The fantastic thing about the Supreme Court Judges is that they're the purest branch of government. With life terms, no worry of gaining reelection, and employment based on their merit and exceptional interpretation of law, whatever power they exercise is without influence from any outside forces or lobbying efforts.

James said...

I'm kind of conflicted, Bob. I can understand where you're coming from, but this also seems like a flimsy rationalization for hypocrisy (i.e. you're willing to compromise your principles for partisan loyalty.)

James said...

For the record, Obama has gone back on a number of issues already (warrantless wiretapping, Patriot Act, ect.), so there's no saying that he'll stick to his current opposition to SOPA. He might just be saying it to curry favor.

David (The Pants) said...

Well, James, what if neither candidate matches his principals, hmm?

And Samuel, I agree, but they DID pass Citizens United. but I guess that just falls in with what Bob was saying.

James said...

David: in that case, then it's best to look at independents or third party candidates who better represent your principles.

Hammbone said...

@james i would like to see a third part get elected... to bad its almost impossible...

most people vote democrat or republican out of habit and familiarity , most the time the one that gets elected pulled the most swing voters. or in obamas case got folks who didnt vote often (or at all) i dont see it being plausable for a independant or third party actually get elected...

for me its vote for either the rep or the dem, who ever is the least horrid. and at least pick my punishment instead of hoping the low-budget, unknown underdog pulls a win.

but tbh the voting system is a little messed up atm, i kinda got depressed after i realized that in the current system all you need is 21% of the popular vote to win =(

Anonymous said...

as far as the court is concerned bob, I'd say your side (now that you've dropped all pretense of centrism) is playing defense for the foreseeable future. rumor is Ginsberg can't stay awake through oral arguments these days, so i seriously doubt the old girl has 4 years left in her. if she doesn't step down this summer, that seat is up for grabs come November. after that, I'd say there's no change on the horizon till Kennedy steps down/dies. bryer's still in good health, and scalia is going to die on that bench (many, many years from now i hope).

i wish scalia good health and long life. he's made some bad votes over the years, but he wrote the opinion in heller v DC, and for that he has my eternal gratitude.

Xirema said...

I ended up coming to the same conclusion independently, regarding the NDAA. And of course, everyone ignores the three biggest issues with the NDAA, and the reasons it got passed without incident:
1. It had a supermajority in the house/senate, vetoing would have only been a statement of philosophy, which isn't worth a lot to the American People
2. Refusing to sign it would have meant military families would have stopped receiving money within a few weeks, which would have been a terrible political move
3. The NDAA doesn't even do anything that the Patriot Act didn't already do.

Mads said...

...while it's true that it would've been an immediate loss to veto it, it would've strengthened the executive branch considerably.

Veto'ing is the only power the executive really has over the legislature, with the exception of judges. Nearly every veto that goes down, regardless of how it came about and what it does, strengthens the precidency. If the president starts assuming responsibility for the side effects - that is, the other bundled things that get thrown in with bad legislation - the veto will fast lose power, because once that responsibility has been assumed enough times, it's very tricky to say "oh, I'm not actually responsible, those who bundled it are", and sound convincing....

As such, veto'ing that bit of legislations would be worth something...but it would've put a spotlight on the deep devide within the democratic party, which is presumably why Obama didn't veto it.

Anyway, the real way to gain influence in american politics is likely to rise relatively soon: Common people can unionize their votes. Unionizing votes is not distinct from special interest groups...essentially, rather than being loyal to a political party, voting unions can choose a single issue. If everybody within the union pledges to vote as the union dictates in order to best advance the specific cause of the union, regardless of everything else...and if people actually have the discipline to do it...then unions can punish candidates who don't listen or don't care about that issue.

This gives them the necessary leverage - the power to negotiate - and that'll work long-term.

Effectively, an environment voting union would say to the democrats, wellp, we're voting for the republican unless you do this, this and this. The democrats would say, but your constituents would clearly be voting against their self interest if they did that! The union would respond, wellp, our voters will do it anyway, simply to punish you for not meeting our demands.

Simplistic? yes. But money will cease to mean anything, and now that the money has become free to spend in politics, it seems probable that the counterpush we're already seeing will focus on making that money meaningless.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

On the one hand I agree that the president is essentially a powerless figure head who's purpose is really just to be the spokes-man for his/her political party's ambitions. Obama himself being the perfect embodiment of this.

On the other hand, I don't give much credence to the idea the the Supreme court has all that much control and that's it's balance would effect the course of the country much. Their authority is, at most, to determine whether a law is constitutional or not. Not whether or not it matches any particular ideology, and to do so would be a clear overstepping of their bounds. And, let's be frank... the Supreme Court wouldn't touch with a 30 foot poll any law that didn't have a clear constitutional issue regardless of it's political leanings.

As well, the liberal/conservative balance has remained fairly stable over the last few decades and really doesn't show any sign of shifting any time soon, at least as long as Congress has control over who can be appointed.

And that kind'a brings me to my final point... Congress determines which judges can be appointed, Congress writes the laws that they would judge, and Congress can overturn a Supreme Court decision any time they want to. That's where the power is, and that's probably the safest place for power to be.... spread out over 535 or so people.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Samuel

The flip side, of course, is that the Supreme Court really isn't accountable to anyone. If they're doing a good job that's fine and all, but if they were doing a bad job there really is very little anyone could do about it.

James said...

Whatever his decision on SOPA turns out to be, remember this: Obama's record on civil liberties, spending, and foreign intervention has been as bad as Bush's.

Mark said...

Is Rupert Murdoch really in a position to tell other people off regarding his record this past year?

forweg said...

Oooooh, can't wait to hear what this Gender in Gaming panel was all about, Bob!

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