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Crossing lines of conscience—Masaccio's open letter to the Obama Campaign

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This will be the first of several posts — the start of a series — mapping out what I personally consider reasonable and unreasonable positions on the re-election of Barack Obama. Three things to note:

■ My goal is to help head off the intra-left tribal wars that marred the last campaign. We do not need a repeat, in my opinion.

■ I don't expect everyone who reads these posts to agree with all positions. Many positions will be mutually exclusive. But let's be smart about who we disagree with, and on what grounds. It's not just the position, it's the reason, that characterizes the reasoner.

■ I think the 2012 presidential campaign is probably over, so the Left Wars may be moot in any case. As soon as Romney secures the field, Movement Conservative Billionaires will likely see greater leverage in putting their big-money buys (sorry, campaign donations) into House and Senate races. If so, watch for a monumental flood, as presidential Super PAC dollars are freed up to overwhelm democracy in legislative contests. Goal: House & Senate in 2012.

Bottom line — Even if the presidential race is closely contested, not everyone who disagrees with you is evil, a bot-like beast. Only some of them are. Your humble correspondent (moi) would like to help you figure out who you might comfortably disagree with, and who you shouldn't. (I know: "Mommy, that man didn't say whom.")

So much for the meta; now the substance. There are a bunch of groups in the "Can't vote for Obama" camp; and a bunch in the "Must vote for Obama" camp. This post considers one group in one camp only. Other camps will get their due shortly.

Group 1 No — Crossing lines of conscience

Group 1 in the "Can't vote for Obama" crowd — no matter the other reasons for pulling that trigger — are those whose lines of conscience have been crossed.

I aim this at the people who say, "But President Santorum would take marching orders from Koch Bros Central." That's true; President Santorum would rule from Wichita (via its Wisconsin field office).

But there are those whose consciences are so offended (that's a war crimes link) that they cannot let themselves do one good thing for the perpetrator. Not one.

Unlike phony "consciences", these genuine cries of integrity must be honored, in my view, even if you tactically disagreed. You can fight a war, in other words, and still respect the Quakers.

Case in point, consider this cri de cœur from the writer Masaccio, addressed to Rufus Gifford, Obama Campaign Finance Director, who has been inundating our author with Hamburger-Today form letters. Masaccio finally writes back (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Rufus –

You and I have been carrying on an e-mail correspondence for some time now. You ask for money to help re-elect President Obama and hold out the possibility I might be selected to have dinner with the President. I e-mail back politely declining, usually with a brief explanation. ... [Then] Last Sunday, I got an e-mail noting that I haven’t donated, and asking me to answer a couple of questions about why. ...

[So] Let’s be clear. This isn’t 2008.

1. I won’t give any money.
2. I won’t make phone calls or travel to another state at my expense on election day to help out.
3. I haven’t decided how or whether to vote this November.*

Here’s the polite explanation. ...
Can you see where this is headed? Because Masaccio has a real-life background in securities fraud prosecution, he launches immediately into one of my favorite topics — Barack Obama, banking prosecutions, and the rule of law. After a sharp and brutal rundown of the banking crisis' history, Masaccio dryly notes:
Once we realized that legislators from both both parties in Congress were in bed with banksters and their sleazy lobbyists, it was hard to imagine decent legislation.

But I absolutely expected Obama to enforce the law. He didn’t. ... That’s a failure I can’t accept.

So, you see, I’d make a lousy dinner companion. ...
(About the last, by the way, I beg to differ.)

It seems for this writer, who was himself an Assistant Attorney General in Tennessee, the fact that Obama's Attorney General (note, not the nation's; Obama's) "can't find anyone to prosecute" despite "all the evidence collected by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations" — well, for Masaccio that's one bridge too far, in another country, on Mars.

Masaccio remembers Rule of Law, and may not be able to vote for its opposite. So who is evil — Masaccio, or paid-off politicians who destroy this country by letting banksters skate?

As Hamlet once said, "Oft tis seen, the wicked prize itself buys out the law." And so here.

What did we learn today?

I offer for your consideration, Rule 1 in our soon-to-be-several rules list — People who can't vote for war criminals, or paid subverters of the rule of law, are not evil. Even when they disagree with your voting recommendation.

The evil lies somewhere else.

Bonus video

Because the world should be fun, I want to repost the video that Masaccio attached to his post. It's short, it's funny, and it's apropos of, oh, you-guess. The great Tom Lehrer:

"A man whose allegiance / Is ruled by expedience." Wonder what that could mean?


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