Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Obama is doing is what Progressivism is

Progressive commentator Julie Roginsky:

Progressives, Democrats must stand with New York Times against Obama on NSA phone records collection
We have arrived at a defining moment for the progressive movement in this nation.
The New York Times editorial board, which has generally given this president a lot of leeway throughout his career, wrote a scathing denunciation Friday of the Obama administration’s use of data mining, claiming that “the administration has now lost all credibility" on the issue of balancing civil rights with national security. 
Every progressive with even a shred of moral consistency should side with the New York Times against the White House. 
The events of the past month – from the Associated Press subpoena to the James Rosen search warrant to the revelation that our government has been indiscriminately collecting phone records data – have forced liberals to make a choice between complacency and outrage, between keeping silent because one of our own is in the White House and calling him out on betraying the principles for which we have fought for so long.

Every progressive with even a shred of moral consistency should side with the New York Times against the White House.

Consistency has never been the fiber of political discourse but it is nonetheless a vital ingredient of credibility. 
Progressives rightly denounced the overreach of the Bush administration when it came to abuses of the Patriot Act. We should just as strongly denounce the expansion of those abuses by this administration. 
Many of us did not buy the previous administration’s excuse that overreaching infringement upon the civil rights of ordinary Americans was a necessary step in keeping those same ordinary Americans safe. We should not buy it from this administration now, simply because this president is ostensibly one of us. 
If this White House truly wanted to level with the American people, the president would have gone on national television to explain the necessity of these programs and the trade-offs between civil liberties and security he believes are consistent with his policies.
That he has failed to do this for nearly six years is evidence of the fact that there is likely no excuse for such blanket surveillance upon the American public, aside from the usual “it’s necessary to keep us safe” bromide. 
Once the shock of 9/11 wore off for a lot of us, it became apparent that our government was happy to use its pretext for all sorts of questionable activity.
From the invasion of Iraq to the nearly unanimous passage of the Patriot Act, elected officials on both sides of the aisle did not hesitate to grab as much power as possible under the guise of national security. 
This behavior was not limited to one political party or the other – so the criticism of this behavior should not be emanating from one party and not the other. 
Over the past several days, conservatives have pilloried this administration for a policy that began under the previous one with the mantra that Bush only went after terrorists, while Obama is going after regular Americans. 
This is as ridiculous as it is false. 
No one should give any president a blank check to vastly expand executive power based on his word that he is doing it in the national interest. 
The phone records of millions of Americans have been collected and analyzed by both administrations without any explanation of how violating our privacy protects our security.
As progressives, we cannot remain silent when a president, whom we worked hard to elect and defend at every turn, betrays the very values upon which he ran five years ago. 
The New York Times was right to call out the administration on this, just as others have been right to call out its egregious behavior towards the Associated Press and James Rosen. 
Progressives should stand with the Times on this. Otherwise, we are just rooting for the name on the jersey, and not for the values that the jersey represents.

Slack-jawed imbecile.

Nice sentiments, but there's a stupidity, an ahistorical idiocy to modern Progressivism that is breath-taking.

Obama is Woodrow Wilson, in the computer age.  Wilson was the father of Progressivism, our first Progressive Democrat president. He was a brilliant manicured credentialed thug. The first thing he did as president was segregate the federal government, which Republicans had integrated for a half-century following Reconstruction. Wilson massively expanded federal over every aspect of American life. He created the Federal Reserve and created massive economic and anti-trust legislation, which were unprecedented expansions of federal power. He created the Federal Trade commission, and radically manipulated the income tax to fund government expansion. Wilson is the author of modern federal power.

In 1920, Massachusetts District Court Judge George Anderson, ordering the freeing of aliens arrested by Wilson's Department of Justice, wrote in his ruling:

"a mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes."

Wilson lied about his willingness to get America into WWI, in order to get re-elected. Wilson oversaw the Palmer Raids. He brutally suppressed and imprisoned opponents of his war policy. He imprisoned Eugene Debs for a ten-year sentence for opposing American entrance into the war. Debs was only released in December 1921 when Republican president Warren Harding-- a good and humble man and Wilson's antipode-- said that Debs ought to be home for Christmas with his family.

Wilson was instrumental in helping the Ku Klux Klan rise to power in its second iteration-- Birth of a Nation, a three hour cinematic paean to the Klan, was the first movie ever played at the White House. Wilson's implicit embrace of the Klan had such coattails that the 1924 Democratic National Convention-- the first after Wilson left office-- was called "the Klan-bake".

Like Progressives today, Wilson was a race-baiter. For Progressives, race has always been an instrument, to be played in the contemporary key that provides the most demagogic leverage.

Wilson supported eugenics, signing a 1911 eugenics law as governor of New Jersey that authorized sterilization of "defectives", although his early 20th century eugenics-- the closest Progressives have ever come to science-- was of a coarser breed than the modern sanitized version of eugenics that has left millions of unwanted ("defective") minority and handicapped children in trash bags.

Never forget: the end of systematic imprisonment of government critics in 1921, the end of segregation in the 1960's and the end of eugenic sterilization in the 1970's were massive defeats for Progressivism.

The legacy of Progressivism in America is massive government social engineering, denial of civil and Constitutional rights, segregation, tens of millions of minority children who never saw birth, and eugenics.

So what should an historically informed 21st century Progressive commentator say about Obama's systematic violations of the rights of Americans?

How about "What Obama is doing is what Progressivism is."


  1. Off Topic but I found your blog by through Larry Moran's.

    I noticed his takedown of John Mattick which I thought was tinged with a bit of malice. Anyway, with regards to the junk nature of DNA, I found this very recent and interesting paper on the PLOS genetics site.


    Basically, a lot of the junk isn't junk.

    I tried posting the link over at Moran's site but for some reason it didn't get through moderation. Hmmmm.

    Interesting days ahead in the world of molecular genetics!

    Btw. I notice that you're a conservative Catholic. You might find the commentators at the orthosphere to your taste.


    They're a bit too traditionalist for my tastes but you might enjoy them.


    1. The Social Pathologist',

      'Basically, a lot of the junk isn't junk'.

      Actually, a lot of the junk is still junk DNA. Just because ciliates have been shown to use some of their transposons for a useful purpose doesn't disprove the junk nature of much of the genomes of eukaryotic species.

      Actually, the only species that don't contain much junk DNA are bacteria (eubacteria and Archaea). Everything else contains variable but significant amounts of junk DNA, as shown by the fact that the genome size across species, even similar ones, varies so much, and species with very large genomes aren't necessarily 'complex'.

      Junk isn't necessarily a derogatory term. 'Garbage DNA' would be. As an analogy, I have junk inside my house. Occasionally I find a use for it, not the use it was first intended. Garbage I discard immediately as being useless, now and in the future.

    2. Uhmm no.

      If it has a use, then it is not junk. Logic not opinion.

      Given the cell lines that they were using, I suspect that the 20 or so percent of regions that were found to be quiet probably coded for things such as morphogenesis, neural differentiation, taste preference, behavior, structural development and so on.

      You and me arguing about this isn't going to achieve much, but what will settle the question is time. If function cannot be ascribed to the "dark matter" then Mattick is wrong. If, on the other hand it can be found to be functional, then I suggest you bend your knee to the boss.

    3. The Social Pathologist,

      Agreed. Time will eventually give the answer as to how much of the human genome is 'functional' - having a use necessary for the human to survive, and not just being transcribed.

      When I studied genetics at university in the early '70s it was assumed that almost all of the human genome was functional, mainly because bacteria such as E. coli had so little non- functional DNA.

      Junk DNA was an explanation of an observation. That species varied so much in the size of their genomes. It wasn't a prediction.

      That said - much of the human genome is still junk. The tens of thousands of broken pseudogenes and the 800,000 or so SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) for example. SNPs are useful in forensics in identifying individuals or as markers for nearby disease associated genes.

      ENCODE showed that between 20 and 80% of the human genome is functional, using a definition of functional so liberal that being transcribed at least once counts as being functional. I suspect the true figure will be around 20%.

      But you're not allowed to lie about it, as Stephen Meyer does in 'Darwin's Doubt' when he claimed that ENCODE showed that at least 80% of the human genome is functional.

  2. That first line makes me sound like a spambot.

    Off Topic but I found your blog by through Larry Moran's.

    should be

    Off Topic, but I found your blog by going through Larry Moran's Sandwalk blog.

    1. Social:

      Thanks for the link and the comments. I'll take a look.