FALLING FOR IT

The media – even the liberal portion of it, alleged or in reality – just can't get enough Bipartisanship. Since the best solution to any problem inevitably lies halfway between opposing viewpoints, we should show everyone how non-partisan we are at every opportunity. In practice this means that liberals have to say supportive things on occasion about Republicans. We must do so to prove that we are Serious People.

So last week we were told, in Salon's case quite explicitly, that we needed to cheer Rand Paul during his 13 hour filibuster over drone strikes on U.S. soil. The idea passes the smell test; executive power, particularly the power to use force, is opposed by both libertarian conservatives and liberals in general. Unfortunately the whole filibuster spectacle was more a reflection of the paranoid worldview of the Paultard/survivalist right than of the reality of the issue.

The issue in question was whether the president could order an armed drone strike in the U.S. against an American citizen "in an extraordinary circumstance" like a terrorist attack or serious attempt to overthrow the government. In other words, Holder was not arguing that a drone strike could be ordered against citizens in non-combat settings. And in the event of something like a rebellion or a terrorist attack the president already has extensive power to use force against citizens and non-citizens alike in the U.S. What difference does it make if drone strikes are added to the menu?

Now some of you will accuse me of being naive and too trusting that such a power would be used with discretion or that the scope of events for which a drone strike could be used will not be expanded. But the fact is that the government, should it desire to kill you, has much simpler and more efficient ways to it than by armed drone. One of the dirty secrets of Predator and similar systems is that they have a remarkably low success rate. They crash all the damn time and their Hellfire missile system – which is an anti-tank system adapted for drone use strictly because of weight requirements for the small airframes – are woefully inaccurate. They were designed to hit armor at short range from a shoulder-, vehicle-, or helicopter-mounted launcher. They were not designed to hit cars driving at escape velocity and certainly not a human-sized target. Long story short: drones are just about the worst, lowest-probability tool in the military arsenal for killing somebody. We use them in Afghanistan because it's bloodless and politically costless when they fail, crash, or get shot out of the sky.

In short, a lot of commentators appear to have fallen for the old "Serious People are bipartisan" appeal again. Paul's schtick was about bunker-dwellers' fears that the government plans to hunt them down, kill them, and steal their stash of freeze-dried shelter foods / impressive collection of Anime porn. If a president wanted to do that – and again, god only knows why they would – the ability to use a drone would be irrelevant.

So Rand Paul is basically just being the typical Paultard, inveighing against the government's plans to kill us all and round us up into camps and whatever else Alex Jones sees when he closes his eyes at night. No, we should not cheer him on for that.

58 thoughts on “FALLING FOR IT”

  • WAAAH! The government can kill anyone they want, as long as it isn't anyone like precious Snowflake MEEEEEEE! –99% of drone opposition

  • Middle Seaman says:

    The attraction of bi-partisanship is beyond me. Obama is seeking bi-partisanship these days so he can cut social security and medicare that have been bothering his Wall Street corrupted mind.

    Now, if there is a point of agreement between the insane Republicans and the stale and corrupt Democrats, fine. Just don't make a religion out of it.

    As an old style lefty, I disagree with giving any credit to the reactionary liberals.

  • Sloppy, sloppy. Using bi-partisan as a synonym for non-partisan? For shame! Kindly tear this post up and start over. Non-partisans want nothing to do with either color faction of the aristocracy.

    Granted, hilarious situations like this one, where each party stands in dutiful apparent kabuki opposition not only to one another but to each their own branding, make for great theater once the voters (who, laughably, think the party wants anything to do with them outside of election time). And now, Ed, you are trying so hard to avoid giving points to the other wing of the same damned team by focusing on what was said during a bloody dilatory tactic whose typical fodder includes phone books and whose omg-bilderbergers schtick arguably represents and speaks to *his* constituency best? Surely you can think in more than one dimension?

    All politics is a morality play to the peasantry, with permanent enemies and permanent friends and sexual morality tests and the hope that, if they can just find a person pure enough of heart, this person can walk on the ambient corruption inside the Beltway like water and not get wet, with manna and ponies for everyone… while the aristocrats and their representatives, in their day to day work, pursue only permanent interests, including their own, with little to no risk of anyone going rogue.

    Which group's lot is winning consistently, almost every time? The group that spends countless days trying to divine the hearts of the heartless, or the group that executes on their mission?

    Damn right we should cheer Rand Paul throughout his 13 hour filibuster for inconveniencing, however modestly, the forces of authoritarianism and secret law. And once it's done, we should disperse and look for others pursuing our interests and cheer them on, just as we were for those thirteen hours. This peasant sentimentalism has no place in a politics designed to be effectual in a world where the odds strongly favor them never having to rub elbows with you again in the community, only one designed to pacify with ineffectuality and dissipation.

  • "But the fact is that the government, should it desire to kill you, has much simpler and more efficient ways to it than by armed drone."

    Yes, it's those slobbering packs of Death Beagles!

  • I have no love for Rand, but crazy shit in his filibuster aside, he actually filibustered in the traditional sense. And when he was done, the vote went on. Rather than this non-spectacle screeching halt of a 'filibuster' we see all too often these days. Point said, point made, and moving right along.

    Regarding the reality of the paranoid fears expressed by Paul, you're right that his particular brand of fears live in the same realm as unicorns, leprechauns, and functioning libertarian 'societies', but the question of presidential power is one to examine on a

  • Pretty regular basis. (damn phone)

    So I still hate the message and the messenger, but there were kernels of a message that thankfully got out. I can appreciate, at least, that the Senate actually worked somewhat as advertised, and that a light was shined on potential abuses. Even by an administration that I, well, want to support… Sometimes.

  • My only thoughts on Rand Paul's speech consisted of the phrase: "Busted clock." The fact is that if the government wants to kill you, what does it matter if they are doing it with drones? They could just as easily do it with an AH-64. Or a team of FBI agents. It is highly unlikely that they would use a Hellfire strike on a guy hiding in an apartment complex when they could simply raid the apartment or snipe him coming out the door if they had to be particularly cold blooded.

  • I'm sick of this bi-partisan horseshit. Stick your boot in the asses of these morons, and take what you want. When's Obama going to get past this bizarre Lincoln fetish of his and start acting like LBJ. He should publicly humiliate and slander Paul every chance he has. He's on his second term, go for the big one. For crying out loud, this country will slowly crumble if you give the idios an inch.

  • darwinsbeard says:

    First of all the idea that coverage of this represents the "splitting the difference" line so moronically employed by the media is really just not accurate. Your view here, that Paul is merely grandstanding for his paranoid/fringe conspiracy theorist following is the position of none other than the New York Times. This article and your post really represent "liberal" reaction to this filibuster better than alleged "praise".

    See Here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/09/us/politics/visions-of-drones-in-us-skies-touch-bipartisan-nerve.html?pagewanted=all

    I'm not sure who you're really referring to when you say that stikes are opposed by "liberals in general". Which ones are those ? The ones in Congress? On MSNBC? The masses of sheep Democrats who "trust" Barack Obama to do what is right? The responsible people at the New York Times editorial board who want to legitimize this practice and create a FISA like court for assassinations? Because that really worked out last time…

    In reality the support and reaction to the filibuster the lines that have long been drawn over this issue: a widespread, heavily uninformed public, a deferent to supportive media, conservatives/Bushites, the government, cynical congressional Democrats on one side and consistent leftist and libertarian( like Paul) critics on the other.

    Your others points misleading to plain inaccurate. That drones are inaccurate or imperfect is entirely irrelevant. They will only quickly improve in every facet. The military and Obama administration are seeing to that. Furthermore, although the debate and Paul's filibuster centered on drones this is just a way to draw attention. The issue is really about the government's claimed power to murder citizens, and anyone for that matter(notice how the inherent illegality and moral criminality of the last point escapes even the "fringe" "radical" purview let alone the NYT) whether it be with drones are other dispensers of death.

    And finally, thank you for merely restating the government's legal position but your attempt to lampoon the vacuity of Paul's position fails to reassure me. The fact that Eric Holder claims that "non-combatants" can't be targeted hardly matters. The government has failed to disclose what "in combat" means. Or the "immediacy" enabling them to deduce that they can kill someone instead of attempting capture. When the definition of these terms are made in secret by an administration that fully supports Bush's notion of an endless, worldwide, borderless war I'm more than dubious. This isn't just "paranoia" either. This administration has routinely evoked these types of doctrines so loosely to murder people that they loose most of their meaning. In a hypothetical extreme situation the government can use deadly force, yes, but the expanded definitions the Obama administration has employed give literally ALL discretion to the executive.

    In fact the recent statements by Holder seem to possibly EXPAND government power. Previously the rationale was that Al-Awlaki was targeted because he was a "senior member" of al-Qaeda. Now is it ok to target U.S. citizens who are just "combatants"?

    The legal rationale is handled much better

    Here: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/03/09/the-nyt-grants-david-barron-and-marty-lederman-a-mulligan-on-18-usc-1119/

    And Here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/10/paul-filibuster-drones-progressives

    Opposing these legal rationales and their deployment should nothing to do with if you think Obama will use them. The abuse that this allows has already been demonstrated. The U.S. government has already killed two citizens, including a 16 year-old teenager, that they did not intend to and they've reacted by saying, "It was in pursuit of legal aims, too bad" and then blocking any attempts at resolution with state secrets.

    Fundamentally, I find your point that essentially even if we agree with Paul, his efforts, and presumably his supporters, should be dismissed because their "Paultards" just plain dumb. I really don't give a damn why Paul or people on the right are against drones. Unless it is in a way that somehow complicates aligning with them, people on the left who don't support drones should partner with Tea Partyers, Ron Paul Revolutionaries, and Paultards at every opportunity. If you don't agree with this you should just give up because on the most existentially important issue to this country–campaign finance reform–this is the only way anything will ever get done.

  • You are despicable if you let partisan politics affect your view of right and wrong. I am sure you would have the same opinion if Bush advocated the same thing, right?

  • WHOA. Whoa. Seriously, Ed? Yes, Rand Paul is a moron; on that, all thinking people can agree. But the proper frame for this story is "even a broken clock," not Kozinski's being there. One needn't approve of the messenger to recognize the value of the message.

    If you don't like posse comitatus as the precedent (and I agree you probably shouldn't), then go to the star chamber; the conclusion remains inevitable that Holder's decision is horrifying. And to say it's unlikely this decision will result in immediate objectionable results is no answer, as questions of the constitutional sort are invariably about what consequence happens next. Is it necessary to say that we will one day have another President Cheney? And that he will avail himself of the powers asserted by the president we have today? "[Drones] were not designed to hit cars driving at escape velocity and certainly not a human-sized target." Whaddya wanna bet that's going to be true of the next generation of machines, particularly after the use of this generation achieves constitutional sanction?

    There is one sliver of this post that's actually well considered, and that's the line "the government, should it desire to kill you, has much simpler and more efficient ways to it than by armed drone." But the proper response to that isn't "stop worrying about the drones!" but "START WORRYING THE %*#*@! ABOUT THE FELLOW WITH THE GUN AND THE OPINION OF THE U.S. A.G. THAT HE HAS THE RIGHT TO SHOOT YOU!" Outside of that narrow sliver, this post achieves epic fail.

  • Drones do crash all the time. It's not that big a deal when it's a (relatively) cheap Predator. The problem is, really big expensive drones like the Global Hawk crash all the damn time too.

    That's why they're going to keep the U-2 aircraft the Global Hawk was supposed to replace and probably axe the Global Hawk.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    LOL!!!

    Some people are worried about drones, when, over that last few decades, in our idiotic "War on Drugs," we've para-militarized our police forces to the point that on any given night, every SWAT Team in this nation is liable to be better armed and equipped than a Special Forces group in a War Zone?
    And it's not like those SWAT Teams are any more accurate than the worst drone missile.

    "SWAT Commander! SWAT COMMANDER!!! I have an urgent message from HQ! The address we're supposed to hit is 12 OAK Street! Not 27 Elm Drive! Do you copy, Commander?"

    "Too late, son. But I copy. Ok SWAT Team, gather round! There's been a mistake. Now, we have to make it look like we hit the right house. Jones, you have the meth? Smith, you have the coke? Williams, you have the heroin? GOOD! Now, start planting the evidence. NO! Leave the bodies where they are! They're also evidence. What? Which one's still breathing? Put a bullet in him and finish him! Remember our SWAT Team motto – 'No witnesses!!!'"

    Yeah, drones are the problem.

    And let's not even mention of list of "Blah" kids, shot and killed for DWB.

  • This post seems more than a bit misguided, and I suspect it's because *it's* fallen under the sway of bad-faith partisanship? As pointed out above, Holder's "engaged in combat" language was certainly carefully chosen as weasel-worded legalese. Were Al Awlaki — and, later, his teenage son — "engaged in combat" when they were each assassinated? Certainly not by any normal use of the phrase, but I bet they were considered so for the sake of the legal rationale.

    As also pointed out above, can you honestly say you would take this same stance were it W. in the whitehouse and Russ Feingold (or even pre-candidate Obama!) filibustering?

    Two more points to make:

    1. I'd suspect that your position here is in fact the most common one among supposedly liberal commentators (at least those with large microphones, most of whom, it turns out, apparently have a greater sense of party loyalty than true conviction, given their miming of anti-authoritarian positions under the previous president), and that you're only fooling yourself if you think yours is the underdog position.

    2. I'd say the Americans-on-American-soil question isn't itself the main issue. Rather, it's just somewhere near the tail end of the slippery slope we've already gone down in the past 12 years, and *maybe* one that can shock people out of their complacence. It's the whole 'war on Terror' framework that ought to be questioned and this is just a wedge to help focus attention.

    In any case, I tend to disagree strongly with the posts here at most once or twice a year. The rest is always excellent.

  • I'm usually with Ed, but he lost me here. Rand Paul is the stopped clock who happens to be right today.

    The Obama administration is claiming the legal authority to kill U.S. citizens worldwide with no criminal charges and no trial based on their say-so. Drones are the current sexy topic but the claimed authority does not require drones. Obama is claiming the authority to send a guy with an M-16 to Ed's house and blow him away, based on a completely and totally secret determination that will never be seen outside the White House or adjudicated in any court, that Ed is a threat to someday do something bad to someone.

    When Ed's next-of-kin try to sue, the government will say "National Security" and the lawsuit will be dismissed. The end.

    That SHOULD be alarming to every citizen. Every. Single. One. It's going to be LEGAL for the next President Cheney to have Nancy Pelosi shot to death.

    But I guess a substantial number of Democrats are like, hey, he's our guy so it's cool. And Rand Paul is a terrible human being so he must be wrong.

  • Will I be surprised when ( if ) a Republican sits in the White House and orders an expansion of the drone mission over the U.S.A. how the vast majority of Democrats will wring their hands in dismay over how terrible the militarization of our airspace is?
    No. Not really.

  • MS, as Ed said, this isn't about whether the gov't can kill people without a trial–they already can do that! This is about whether drones can do it too.

  • Well, if their honest concern is with Drones Over The World, the legislative branch can go back and have another look at the AUMF that was passed twelve years, two presidents and three presidential terms ago. That's not to say anything of the seemingly free use of lethal force by domestic law enforcement in the USA since forever.

    @ Major Kong – the USAF has given up on the Global Hawk but the US Navy is going forward with it (they call it Triton) as is the Luftwaffe (as Euro Hawk). NASA, too, but I'm sure their operational tempo isn't anything close to the military's. Whether that says something about anti-drone sentiment in the USAF or Northrop Grumman's salesmanship, I can't be sure.

  • @Kong: I thought the U-2 and Blackhawk programs had been superseded by satellites? The fact that it's harder for them to A) be shot down (flying too high) B) harder to claim that something that high is in one's "airspace". Of course the majority are over cold war era targets, which makes them useless for say Yemen, and the scuttling of the Shuttles takes that platform out of the mix.

    I answered my own question didn't I? :)

    On a more serious note.
    And taking up others' threads is what makes the Paultard's stance something to be applauded was that he actually stood up and did something.

    It's obvious that Brennan – after all of the kabuki of the MyST3k political theatre – would be approved and appointed. Of course there would be all of the posturing that we've come to expect from the Right, who knows even a delaying "filibuster" a lá Hegal, but ultimately he was to be approved.

    The Paultard, actually filibustered. None of this, "We call a filibuster", and then everyone goes home/pub horse$—-! we've come to expect from Toby Turtle. He put the effort in.

    For that he deserves praise. By doing so he even pissed off his conservatard buddies and got this thing over and done with quickly. How many of these others do that?

    Perhaps next time he should consider having himself cathetered so he can keep going.

    The question is how far down the slippery slope have we already gone? The ACLU is only now investigating the militarisation of the police force. One of the grand ironies of those who proclaim to be "libertarians", is that they tend to also lean heavily into the territory of authoritarians. They don't mind the arming and equipping of the police as long as they're going after Black Panthers. If it's a group of white supremacist secessionists… then it's all Obama is gunna take our guns!… or sumptin'…

    They can't seem to connect, speak about arming and equipping to overthrow a government that's going to take our gunz, and plotting to launch a first strike over that. With a government that now is taking an interest in why they're buying industrial quantities of fertiliser and stock piling munitions.

    Sadly, I found myself applauding the Paultard, in all his ill-tailored jacket ramblings, because he stood up and made mention of what should be mentioned.

    You yourself Ed, have made similar accusations against Obama and his Right leanings over the years.

    The Death Beagles in the short to medium term are far more dangerous than a Predator.

  • Eh, I'll cheer on Little Paul simply because I think it's important that these bozos should actually have to get up and talk to do a filibuster. First off, making it take an effort changes the equation and could (!) bring it back down to a more reasonably-used device again. Second of all, the more doofuses and loonies like Little Paul talk, the more it becomes apparent that they actually don't know what the bejeezus they're talking about. Thirdly, while I respect your opinion on this, and agree with your basic premise (that government has already arrogated to itself that power and more), it's always useful to force these things out into public view. It probably won't do any good at all, but letting these power grabs slide unmentioned is why we're where we are already. Little Paul is barely ahead of Louie "Zippy" Gohmert in the brains department, but you go to filibuster with the Senators you have, not the Senators you wish you had.

  • Also, as people have undoubtedly frequently mentioned, Death Beagles would be a heck of a name for a band. I'm thinking Ozzie's new effort with Ted Nugent and David Lee Roth, forming a new sub-genre: Close-to-Death Metal.

  • By total accident, Randy plugged into the #1 frustration most liberals have with Obama: His continuation of Bush's warmongering global adventures. Drones have become the symbol of that.

  • Meanwhile, our financial oligarchy is wrecking the world economy. Why no indignation about the lack of jail sentences, reform, etc etc etc?

    Oh! Drones! Scary!

  • Rand Paul, just like all of the other accountability-allergic congressbeings, could actually do something about executive overreach – they could enact legislation to take back much of the power and responsibility they've ceded to the executive branch over the years. Or they could grandstand for half a day, then browbeat every thinking person on the internet for not throwing their immediate and unconditional support behind him for being slightly less wrong (while still being making the teatards happy) for a few hours. Paul isn't any less of a disgrace than he was this time last week.

  • I had a yard of blather lined up but a random thought gives me pause. Is there a way to find out exactly which and how many powers / actions / jurisdictions / authorities / whatever derive, however implausibly, from the Commerce Clause?

  • darwinsbeard says:

    Yo Joe

    Rand Paul was elected to Congress for the first time in 2010, beginning service in 2011. He wasn't around for the Bush years and therefore did not vote for the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) under which the Obama administration currently claims power to commit all of their current abuses. No votes by a Congress including Paul has ceded the powers Obama is claiming to posses. On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he has been one of the most consistent voices speaking out against Obama's abuses (or at least far more frequent and vocal than other members of Congress).

    So if you're going to just tar somebody because you don't like him say that that it your intention. Don't claim your banal, unrelated criticism actually addresses the issue.

  • darwinsbeard says:

    David O'Brien's Constitutional Law and Politics Vol. 1 textbook has an excellent overview . In MY opinion.

  • I'm usually with Ed, but he lost me here. Rand Paul is the stopped clock who happens to be right today.

    The Obama administration is claiming the legal authority to kill U.S. citizens worldwide with no criminal charges and no trial based on their say-so. Drones are the current sexy topic but the claimed authority does not require drones. Obama is claiming the authority to send a guy with an M-16 to Ed's house and blow him away, based on a completely and totally secret determination that will never be seen outside the White House or adjudicated in any court, that Ed is a threat to someday do something bad to someone.

    When Ed's next-of-kin try to sue, the government will say "National Security" and the lawsuit will be dismissed. The end.

    That SHOULD be alarming to every citizen. Every. Single. One. It's going to be LEGAL for the next President Cheney to have Nancy Pelosi shot to death.

    But I guess a substantial number of Democrats are like, hey, he's our guy so it's cool. And Rand Paul is a terrible human being so he must be wrong.

    Um, yeah. OK. Look, I'm not saying that you're wrong here, but what the hell are we supposed to do? We can wring our hands over the NDAA and the drones, but let's bear in mind that this all started with the Patriot Act and the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld mantra that the ends (specious claims to elimination of terrorism) justifies the means (torture, secret military tribunals, indefinite detention without trial, et al). (Side note: the philosophy professor I had last fall told an fascinating story about how he met the philosophy professor who taught the college-aged George W. Bush. It seems young Bush didn't care for most of the philosophers discussed in that class, but interestingly enough he really liked Machiavelli.)

    I'm a female brown person and I happen to very much like the Voting Rights Act, the Nineteenth Amendment and the various equal pay and fair pay acts which Rand Paul and his fellow overprivileged racist misogynist homophobic shitbags want to shred, so I must ask you to excuse me when I say I'm not about to cheer him on, for anything. I didn't sit on my hands in 2010 like many so-called progressives who thought they were punishing anyone besides themselves and the rest of us by refusing to go to the polls. I'm sorry that there is no LBJ or FDR to vote for right now. I went with the choice which was presented to me last November, as did we all, and I can see why the prominent progressives are not too eager to turn around and berate the president which they had just spent a year working to elect, by convincing apathetic voters to go to the polls and cast their ballots for him. I suspect they think that by doing so, it'll be impossible to get those apathetic voters to go to the polls in 2014 and 2016. What we need here are viable progressive candidates, and there aren't any in sight.

  • I am glad he gave it the Mr. Smith effort. It wouldn't have gotten any attention otherwise.

    Broken clock…yada yada ditto…….

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    Oh, Jesus H. Christ, it was anti-Obama political grandstanding, for fuck's sake. If President Romney were to initiate a domestic drone program for the purpose of killing suspected citizen "terrorists" who just happen to be blah or brown, don't think for a minute that Randy wouldn't jump right on board with it.

  • @Jonathan

    " with manna and ponies for everyone"

    Amen!

    All the other stuff aside:
    Y'know, the best use I can think of for D-D-D-Drones is to drop water baloons on grass fires.

  • @darwinsbeard: thank you. The more I read about this, the more aware I am of just how much I don't know (or don't understand) about how our system works.

    Regarding the topic at hand, I find that I'm agreeing with people on all sides of the argument. Was this anti-Obama grandstanding? Hell yes. Is Obama planning UAV attacks on U.S. soil? Almost certainly not. Should the President have the power to do so? Hell no. "Extraordinary circumstances" is a term with undefined parameters, which does not work in favor of the private citizen. Are drones inaccurate? Let's put it this way: I would be more worried if they were shooting at my neighbor than at me. But huge R&D money is making them more accurate every year, so…around and around we go.

    It's like the anti-NAFTA rally I attended in Portland, OR during the 90s. Seeing conservative protectionists and NWO conspiracy believers march shoulder to shoulder with labor unionists and worker's rights groups gave me pause. If they are all in agreement, can we say one is wrong and the other is right? I don't think we can.

  • darwinsbeard says:

    I find the idea that Rand Paul is doing this JUST BECAUSE Obama is in the Presidency rather dubious. Ron Paul had no compunction about criticizing the Bush administration and U.S. imperial misery in general. Considering Paul intends to build on his father's legacy he has every interest in maintaing these kinds of positions. Until his views are demonstrated to be opportunistic it is unfair to criticize him on this point.

    I invite all those who refuse to criticize Obama harshly for his abuses and policies to head on over to MSNBC. You'll be more than welcome. The discussion about this being Bush's fault is over. Obama is in his second term. He owns this shit. He has expanded on, defended, supported, and excused Bush's measures at every step.

    I understand all the rationale about not criticizing Obama because the Big Bad Republicans might get elected but in reality liberals and progressives get nothing out of this generous deal they provide Obama with. We still have massive war mongering, abuse of civil liberties, attempts to cut social security, massive corporate welfare(e.g. Obamacare), the penal drug war racist state, massive deportations, disregard for poverty, disregard of global warming, no movement on campaign finance reform. I could go on and fucking on. I don't know what the easy solution is but withholding criticism of Dems because they say nice things about liberalism and gay people is not it. By any metric one looks at it except rhetoric which party is in the white house differs rather marginally as Ed has pointed out multiple times.

    Sure. There aren't any viable progressive candidates. But this is surely not unrelated to the "a vote for a progressive that won't win is a vote for THEM" phenomenon. Obama is no liberal. We shouldn't pretend and doing so more almost surely continues the right wing Reagan legacy.

  • To equate Obama's actions re: the war with Bush's is to forget that Bush started 2 wars, one of which (Iraq) was started without due cause and after lying to and manipulating the American public. As much as some of you criticize Obama for extending some of Bush's policies (e.g., drones), Obama has not gotten us into another war, he has extricated us from Iraq and is working to get us out of Iran. I don't know how people can say with an honest face that Obama is a warmonger just like Bush.

  • @Major Kong – I love the writing you're doing over on DailyKos, please keep it up. As for the Global Hawk crashing – hadn't heard about that but I suppose its not that surprising – if I recall those are autonomous drones so they have to be programmed to handle any expected flight condition and sort of like the lottery if you wait long enough you are guaranteed that they will run into a situation that they have not been programmed to handle and wind up as a heap of flaming wreckage.

  • Rand Paul, and his "Our way or we just fucking break everything" Republican cohort couldn't give two healthy shits about drones or executive power, or anything else except serving their masters and trying to land a blow – any blow – on Obama.

    Drones are a proven wedge between the White House and lefties at large. That's why he filibusted, and that's the only reason. He might have picked up a handful of browny points throwing red meat to his sucker followers, but that was just a bonus.

    Everyone raking Ed across the coals would do well to reread the title of the post, because you fell for it.

  • If these drones were being operated by private corporations to assassinate union leaders Rand Paul would have no problem with it.

  • darwinsbeard says:

    Redleg

    Although I wasn't exactly explicit I said Obama owns Bush's "abuses and policies". So domestic spying, indefinite detention, global war on terror, and massive expansion of executive authority and secrecy which Obama has used to silence whistleblowers and kill people, including U.S. citizens he and his administration secretly decide are bad.

    No Obama has not been responsible for the awful, destructive, pointless wars of the Bush era but this conversation was about drones and civil liberties so that was what I was referring to, the comparison between Bush and Obama there. But if Obama's record of war mongering is not exactly clean. For all Obama and Biden brag about getting us out of Iraq…they tried to stay there. Biden attempted to negotiate a deal to stay but Iraq refused to give U.S. soldiers diplomatic immunity. Obama is actually still criticized by Republicans for backing down from this. Also he has been threatening Iran with "all options on the table for" several years now and has begun a dangerous cyber war(started under Bush, expanded under Obama) and possibly assassination campaign(depending on the U.S.'s involvement in Israel's campaign) in that country. This directly contravenes the U.N. charter and undermines "negotiations". Can you imagine if the U.S. was negotiating with a country that maintained that they WOULD negotiate but maintained the right to invade the United States if the U.S. didn't do what they wanted and ALSO was actively pursuing and supporting covert violence within the U.S. border. No. We neither accept nor ever find ourselves in that situation.

    Point is. If we go to war with Iran during Obama's second term or during the next administration it will be in no small part due to the policies enacted by this administration.

  • Here's the difference:

    Obama might go to war with Iran. If he does, I suspect it will be his last choice.

    His last two Republican opponents couldn't wait to go to war with Iran. Wanted it so bad they could taste it. A Romney administration would be gearing up for the Iran conflict as we speak.

  • Thejohnwright says:

    Extending bipartisanship to the other party is extending legitimacy to that party and its role in the process. Very Serious People should first consider the proposition that the nature of other party's participation in and commitment to the political system and the general goals of government and society before extending or approving an offer of formal bipartisanship. The current GOP has shown no evidence that they actually believe in the institutions of government, electoral politics or goals and purpose of the constitution, except to suborn them. Very Serious People should be laughing at this bunch, not enabling them.. In fact, given drones, wiretapping, the HSBC decision, entitlement 'reform', etc. I have my doubts the current administration meets the basic criterion for approval either.

  • This debate is why I visit this site. Congratulations to you all for not spewing spin and talking points but rather for reasoned (well reasoned) commentary.

    I love the HBO show The Newsroom for just this sort of depth and breadth of thought. Sometimes there isn't two sides to an issue. Sometimes there's only one. Sometimes there's five or more. That's what I find on this site.

    Thanks.

  • "His last two Republican opponents couldn't wait to go to war with Iran. Wanted it so bad they could taste it. A Romney administration would be gearing up for the Iran conflict as we speak."

    People assured us that Bush would go to war on Iran in his second term. He didn't. R and D have nothing to do with whether a president will go to war or not.

  • “It's extra-judicial assassination!” OK, what we’re talking about then is the basic plot of every James Bond movie ever made: an international terrorist threatens the world, and 007 is sent in to do what? Negotiate diplomatically with Auric Goldfinger or Francisco Scaramanga? Tell them, "you're under arrest, so kindly turn off the laser cutter aimed at my nuts and come along quietly"?

    No, a double-aught agent has a license to kill. (Goldfinger was even a British citizen, not a KGB agent, as was Hugo Drax and some other Bond villains who ended up on the business end of 007s Walther PPK.) In our culture we cheer this kind of thing on. We like to think that there really are super-spies out there charged with keeping a criminal organization like SPECTRE down.

    Well, in the real world, SPECTRE is Al Qaeda. And instead of Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, we send in flying killbots. And now the DoJ has produced legal papers to sanction these assassinations – in other words, a “License to Kill”.

    Shall we have a picket line at the next Bond movie opening, protesting that MI6 didn’t give Largo and Le Chiffre a chance to surrender to the World Court for trial? Did anyone NOT cheer when Bond dropped Ernst Stavro Blofeld down a smokestack?

    Is just not romantic enough that we use drones instead of dashing secret agents to do the same thing?

  • The point is not "pop culture". The point is that Western societies, for the past 50 years, have consumed movies, TV shows, novels, etc. where extra-judicial assassination of world-threatening terrorists is the basic plot line. And no one (that I'm aware of) ever protested or mounted a boycott of these media for spreading the dangerous idea that governments are justified in killing criminal masterminds without trial or recourse. In fact, most people *assumed* that, while the exploits of James Bond or the 'Mission:Impossible" team are clearly dramatized for effect, they had some basis in reality.

    Even further, when 007 blows up a illegal weapons depot or spy satellite installation, there is much "collateral damage", like the poor working stiffs that push the brooms around those places. Has anyone, any human rights organization or Firedoglake blogger, ever made a peep in protest over such depictions? Like I say, most law-abiding citizens would have *approved* of a criminal like Ernst Stavro Blofeld being summarily executed by smokestack.

    So this raises the question: why the disconnect?

  • The Other Matt says:

    Umm…speaking only for myself, I'd say "escapism" was why my taste in movies doesn't resemble my views on public policy, ethics, and justice. I was really shocked to read about how many members of Congress and the Bush White House were getting their bright ideas from episodes of "24."

    Though the feds have obviously not abided by the injunction prohibiting assassination, that our government, at one time, refused to license execution without trial by jury was morally praiseworthy. I am saddened at how many on this side of the political spectrum are cool to abandon that commitment and embrace what some have called a "muscular foreign policy."

    Plus (spoiler alert), did you notice how in the latest 007 film the super spy set out to capture the supervillan, instead of busting a cap in his ass?

  • darwinsbeard says:

    So is the point that people 'voted' for this policy by…watching James Bond movies? That human rights groups abdicate their position to complain about things that happen in the REAL WORLD because they don't give equal attention to Bond movies and Die Hard 5? I fail to see the connection or point of these statements. They're pretty dumb. If you want to have a discussion about the culture of violence in the West then fine, but James Bond has nothing to do with whether we should be doing this stuff or not.

  • I can't believe I'm quoting Darth Cheney, but even he said "if that airliner would have approached the White House, we would have blown it out of the sky."

    That, kids, is governmental authority to kill people. And I'm hard pressed to disagree with him, frankly.

    As for Rand Paul? Yeah, broken clock. This and low flow toilets. There's his twice per term limit.

  • the horse is out of the barn,killing anyone, Americans included, has been a Presidential right for a long time now. Thanks to Bush, in particular. no habeas corpus, no right to attorney, no right to a jury, and lots more goodies we Aemricans used to have before the Republican coup d'etat/Bush vs Gore.

    it's way too late to complain now. way way too late.
    and Obama is just as bad or worse than Bush. liberal or not, which Obama isn't, this is just the beginning of the Fascist/Corporate control that is now America.

    to see people here blame this or that side is ludicrous, Both sides are behind this charade. The Dems could have stopped Bush and the Repubs could stop Obama, but NO. this is all show, kabuki, to divide and conquer, just as this shows. and it works, and has been working, while Obama kills and silenced whistleblowers, like Bradley Manning.

    it's way too late, and Paultards know it. Paul also knows what good PR this makes, even got some "lame" liberals backing him in the "stopped clock" idiocy. lol

    Sen Feinstein of CA and her military business husband is making millions, and of course so it the Defense industry congresional complex.

    so enjoy your Banana republic, both Dem and Rep/sides, are responsible. remember Waco, or lately Dorner in CA. keeping the Owners happy is what it;s all about. and i bet you and i are not one of them.

    to hear anyone say Obama isn't as bad as Romney, well, i have some wetlands in West Texas for sale, too.

  • "24" illustrates the point. There were a *lot* of protests by progressives for the way it depicted torture as being an effective interrogation technique (which it isn't). So why haven't the same people protested spy movies that depict extra-judicial assassination, a dramatic plot that's been an ongoing cultural phenomenon for the last 50 years?

    The *only* difference I can see is that we're using killbots to go after jihadis instead of dispatching suave super-spies to beat super-villains at baccarat in Monaco before shooting them under the table. When robots do the killing, it isn't fun and exciting to show in the movies. But extra-judicial assassination is extra-judicial assassination – isn't that the point?

    It just strikes me as very strange, very selective ethics.

  • Joe Max:

    Did anyone NOT cheer when Bond dropped Ernst Stavro Blofeld down a smokestack?

    Oh, for the love of—the point is that people enjoy watching action movies, but they don't particularly want to live in them. I think understanding the difference might be a little bit beyond you, so let's start with baby steps. From now on, you can count every day a success that you don't unwittingly recall an Onion article:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/american-life-turns-into-bad-jerry-bruckheimer-mov,220/

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