March 28, 2013

Dear Liberals: it’s not “King” Obama’s fault—it’s ours.

{Update: part of taking responsibility is finding out for ourselves what the bill actually says and what it means for us as consumers. Here is what we need to know about Section 735 of HR 933, in lay terms.}

A Culture of Slacktivism?

Self-righteous Liberal Slackivists unite! But let’s not bother getting up from our couches.

We featured this article, yesterday:

With Nation’s Eyes Elsewhere, President Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act into Law. ~ Kevin Macku

It’s a great article, and went viral on a grassroots level, fast, and drew many self-righteous (lefty) comments along the lines of “Shame on you, Obama.” And a libertarian Obama-hating friend gleefully posted another such article on his wall, and said “just another instance of Obama selling out!”

Kevin’s article, above deserves reading—many folks, I think, only read the title, and shared that, and commented on that.

Still, the title itself is misleading, in a way (see below). President Obama’s only as brave as we allow him to be…I take responsibility. He’s there to serve, not lead…in a democracy, we need to do more than make noise after the fact…we need to make it happen. (PS: I’m glad folks are pissed, now…where was the noise over the last few months?). ~ ed.

One reader (I hope he read it, first), replied eloquently. I appreciated his rebuttal, and asked him if we could share it, here. He assented. Here ’tis:

The problem is not Obama, it’s us.

Via Thomas K. Turner:

With all due respect, this is a bit of an exaggeration–and those of you placing blame solely on the President (“Kevin Macku, come on down!”) need to just stop.

The problem here is that the “Monsanto Protection Act” (section 735) was attached (anonymously) as a rider to a short term spending bill (HR 933). “The President does not have line item veto power; it’s all or nothing. This is called a poison pill. As part of the short term spending bill, President Obama had to sign the resolution in order to prevent the federal government from shutting down today, March 27, when the current funding was set to expire. He doesn’t get to cherry pick what parts he signs into law.

He either lets the government shut down or he signs the poison pill.” See:


Attaching riders such as this is an awful way to conduct government–especially when the *anonymous* legislator behind this knows that the blame is going to be placed on the President for signing it instead of where it should be: on the legislator who left the administration with no choice but to sign it. Can you imagine the public consternation if President Obama said, “I’m going to let the government shut down because…”? I’m not saying that he had *no* choice; but the Monsanto Protection Act can be rescinded [this is when you should be directing your ire at your state representatives, y’all); the more immediate problem was that allowing a government shutdown to occur because of this would have a greater short- to intermediate-term effect.

For those of you wanting the issuance of an executive order, please note how toothless an act that would be in the present environment: “An executive order cannot make new law; only Congress can do that. […] Here’s the real kicker: Even if President Obama were to sign an executive order to label our food (we have no indication as to whether he would be inclined to do so), Congress could deny funding its execution, just as they have with his order to close Gitmo.” So what’s the point, other than symbolism?

While I can certainly appreciate your disappointment, those of you jumping into this conversation simply to say “Shame on Obama” or “I couldn’t be more disappointed”…stop. President Obama didn’t craft this law. President Obama isn’t the reason why this law ended up on his desk. Your anger and disappointment are misplaced, and remind me of commentary from last summer: “liberals speaking out don’t want a president, they want a king.” Albeit a liberal king — but still a king, who would be unrestrained by Congress as well as the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution.

But here’s the problem. Barack Obama is not a king, he’s the President of the United States. For those who may have forgotten the ‘Schoolhouse Rock”‘cartoon of ‘How a bill becomes a law,’ Congress needs to first pass the bill before it has any chance of becoming a law.

To me, the liberals who are so very disappointed with President Obama either had unrealistic expectations for him, viewing him as a messianic figure who would magically solve all of our nation’s woes, or simply refuse to grasp the reality of our American political system. In either case, the answer is: “The problem is not Obama, it’s you.”

And, to be fair, here’s Kevin’s reply:

I’m not certain if you read the article. I’m not putting the blame entirely on Obama. I’m calling out a few different parties for the mishandling of Section 735: the anonymity of the rider as well as its timing, the mainstream media for saying nothing on it, and the democratic party-majority Senate for its hand in events.

The use of Obama’s signing of the Act is only to serve as a timeline of events.

An executive order may be toothless and symbolic, but what we need is to be sending a message; right now, we’re sending the wrong one. By calling out back-room dealings, we’re demonstrating that we’re aware of their existence in a new and volatile way, and even with the mainstream media’s silence, we are going to spread the awareness of those processes—and our anger towards them.

I appreciate what you’re saying, however. But we’re not lawmakers. We can’t, or at least I can’t, walk into Congress and say what they’re doing is wrong. We use the tools we have available to us; in this case, information and social media. When the power to do more makes itself available, if we can show that there is a unified electorate, then we can act, but we can’t do so if the electorate is uninformed as to what is going on.

And…here’s mine!

Kevin, respectfully, I think you and elephant as indie media are doing our part, but I don’t think blaming Obama for things he can’t control without blaming ourselves, first, for not having made the noise necessary to scare the living daylights out of our representatives if they dared to vote against popular opinion is necessarily helpful. That said, your message clearly struck home, for which I give you respect and kudos and appreciation. ~ Waylon

Bonus, an educated comment from someone who actually read the bill:

No he didn’t.

That little rider your little conspiracy theory is up in arms about does not protect Monsanto from prosecution.

What the rider does is simple. To plant a restricted crop, the farmer needs to have permission from the federal government. The bill does not change that part because the farmer always needed permission to plant restricted crops.

Where the bill comes into play is right now. If a farmer has permission to plant restricted crops, but the paperwork gets lost somewhere, the farmer is protected from lawsuit. As long as he can prove he has permission beforehand, he will not get sued or anything of the sort.

Before, if a farmer is caught planting restricted crops without permission, he could face fines and be ordered to destroy the crops. It does not matter if the farmer gets permission before hand.

Nowhere in that rider does it give Cargill blanket protection from lawsuit.

BTW, “Monsanto” is a corporation. Quit using it like it’s a buzzword.

The reason why it’s Mosanto and not Archer Daniels Midland or Cargill is simple: Monsanto is the only one that sounds sinister. ADM sounds like a family style restaurant. Cargill is the name of that nightclub you went to as a young adult.


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