Morris is clearly a sharp mind - after all, one would expect so from a Harvard med student. But his isn't an intellect that lends much evidence to his ability to look past simplistic, emotional talking points when it comes to politics and public policy. After all, Morris is a student of medicine, not of the Constitution. Nonetheless, the "concerns" Morris expresses abound among the modern hair-on-fire "progressives" and though they have all been addressed here before, the elevation to CNN necessitates a response.
Claiming that the change Barack Obama brought wasn't what he promised, Morris regurgitates some familiar talking points, almost as if to quote from Glenn Greenwald:
Republican obstructionism cannot explain allowing the bugging of foreign leaders, nor having drones strike innocent children overseas. It cannot explain having the National Security Agency collect data on the private lives of Americans, nor prosecuting whistle-blowers who reveal government wrongdoing. It cannot account for assassinating Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, without a trial, nor shirking public funding and spending limits during presidential campaigns.Let's go ahead and address these one by one. "Bugging of foreign leaders" - why is this seriously news, besides for the fact that a black guy is in the White House? Who in their right minds thinks that any intelligence agency in the world worth its salt doesn't try to monitor leaders in other countries? I am glad to see Morris' - and the Lefty poutrage artists' - newfound naivete, but there's a reason why communications lines of heads of states and those of heads of governments are made as secure as possible. It isn't because the leaders have a security-fetish; it's because they know - everyone knows - that intelligence operations from other countries (as well as domestic and international foes) are doing everything to listen in.
The idea that foreign leaders' phone calls shouldn't be listened to, while fed to people through feigned outrage from leaders who are discovered to have had their security circumvented, is laughable in the world of geopolitics and intelligence. If it were discovered that President Obama was being bugged by the Germans or the Russians, there is little doubt that the criticism from the media, including CNN, would turn to the failure of US government security for allowing it, not to the foreign government(s) for making the attempt.
The idea that this is something new or untoward is as absurd as claiming that the President of the United States should travel in other countries without his Secret Service security detail, because the host country (or a group therein) would never try to physically harm the president! The line between physical security and digital security is increasingly non-existent, and for good reason.
Second, DRONES! Drones are a tool, they are not a policy. Drones are used to kill terrorists, and as any other tool of war, they do regrettably cause collateral damage. What they do not do is put American lives at risk. One may either wish for America to completely retreat from the armed fight against global terrorism, or one may wish for more Americans to die in that armed fight. But if one wishes neither, just whining about drones is indicative of some brass, as Bill Clinton would say. But if Morris and his cohorts would like to make the former argument - at least it would have some merit - they should do so without hiding behind a method.
Third, the NSA's data collection on Americans - this is simple. The NSA does not collect personally identifiable data nor the contents of communications without a 4th Amendment warrant when it comes to American citizens. What it collects are meta-data, the information on what number connected to what number, what IP address connected to which other IP address, without knowing who those IP addresses or phone numbers belong to. If they then find a given number connecting to a known terrorist target, they get a warrant. It's as simple as that. Even in case of the contact list gathering, content isn't collected, and the collection happens at foreign data hubs, and the agency is not permitted to do a search except in connection with a target.
Fourth, neither Morris nor CNN can show that the Obama administration is prosecuting "whistle-blower who reveals government wrongdoing." For that to happen, one must prove government wrongdoing at the minimum, and reporting as well as court decisions have made it perfectly clear that what the NSA has done is within the law. Edward Snowden, despite the genuflecting of the white privileged limousine liberal class that Morris seems to belong to, is not a whistle-blower. He is a traitor who had been in contact with Russian authorities long before his arrival and asylum in Moscow. Any whistle-blower that believes in their cause rather than their personal gain would face the legal consequences of their actions, not become a fugitive in the land of freedom known as Russia.
Morris and CNN may also be reminded that President Obama has enacted the strongest whilstleblower protections of any modern president in memory.
Fifth, Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen. But there seems to be this patently dumb idea floating around among the elite emotarian liberal class that American citizens who declare armed war against the United States are entitled to any legal protections not available to other armed enemies of the United States. The Constitution itself prescribes the president's oath to protect the country from enemies foreign and domestic, and if Morris and his marry band of poutragists want to challenge the president's authority to treat Americans who join a group taking up arms against the United States as targets in a war, they may want to start with another president from the state of Illinois, by the name of Abraham Lincoln.
One could wonder, at this point, how Morris made the jump from surveillance and warfare to public financing of elections, but then, no one ever accused whining progressives of being cogent. Shirking public financing, as it is set up, was the only way the first African American nominee of a major party could fight back against everything the other side threw at him. I understand Morris is suddenly disenchanted because Obama's presidency has not included rainbow-farting unicorns, but the campaign that Morris was excited about, 2008, was also fought without public financing, and so to throw it into the list of gripes now seems to be nothing more than a cheap shot.
Cheap shots, however, wasn't enough for this young whiner that adorned the opinion page on CNN.com this Monday. He felt the need to throw out an outright lie.
[Republican obstructionism] cannot justify the findings of a report that says the White House's efforts to silence the media are the "most aggressive ... since the Nixon Administration".Here's to hoping no one reads said report, because for anyone who does, the desperate lie from the above accusation should be apparent. While not a fluff piece for the president by any means, and generally quite compliant with the emoprog narrative, here is what the report from the Committee to Protect Journalists does say:
The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate."War on leaks" is nowhere near the same as "efforts to silence the media." The former is a legitimate government function to control the flow of sensitive information from inside the government to outside. The latter is interfering with the press' first amendment right to report and publish. The first amendment requires that the press be free to report; it does not require that government employees and contractors be free to release classified information at their discretion. To not understand this distinction is either monumental stupidity or cynical lying.
I also find it rather curious that neither Morris nor CNN finds it necessary to disclose that the Board of the organization that issued the report that was misleadingly used to make Morris' case on CNN's opinion page is adorned by a CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour, as well as the Queen Bee of the emotarian tantrum throwers, Arianna Huffington. That doesn't necessarily negate the importance of the piece (though lying about it might), but one would think that proper journalism requires the disclosure.
But of course, Morris can't stop there. He has to use everyone's favorite contemporary whack-a-mole against the president.
And, most recently, [Republican obstructionism] cannot excuse the failure to design a simple website more than three years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.The Healthcare.gov website is anything but simple - I have outlined the complexities involved last month, but suffice it to say that it is far more complex than even the most feature-packed social media and search engines. As I wrote last month:
But Google and Facebook aren't even proper reference points, as Healthcare.gov is several orders of magnitude more complex and difficult. The integration required is mind-boggling. Healthcare.gov not only has to account for states' choices - for example, whether a given state is accepting the Medicaid expansion or not - but also regional differences in choices in plans offered and insurers who offer those plans. The system has to know where an applicant is, what plans are offered in that area, who offers those plans, what the premiums are, how much premium credit a given applicant is eligible for, and whether an option like Medicaid is available. Then, it has to take the applicant's data and send it to the correct insurer. These are layers of complication that hardly any private vendor has to deal with.Lastly, Morris is also severely mistaken that Republican obstructionism is not (at least partly) responsible for the problems with Healthcare.gov. Republicans deliberately sabotaged the efforts on the website by denying funding, as well as by using their power in the states to keep a great number of states from operating their own exchanges. It's no coincidence that state-operated exchanges are working better - the ACA was designed to let the states handle this process, and it was unprecedented Republican obstructionism that kept them from doing so.
Perhaps next time CNN decides to print stories about "cries of despair" from an "Obama voter," they will choose a better informed citizen who is less of an emotional wreck.