Drones aren’t the biggest issue for me, but I’m glad Rand Paul made a big stink about them. I agree with Josh Barro that even if it’s not a slippery slope, it’s public fights that keep the slope unslippery.
The notion that this indicates some change in the Republican mindset on foreign policy is silly, though. There’s always been an isolationist contingent within the party, as is evidenced by Rand’s father’s strong showings in primaries. I’ll admit that the Paul Père et Fils do seem to do especially among younger voters, and that may mean something, but when the chips are down, most of the party will be happy to whip itself into a frenzy against whoever their overlords decide is the Hitler of the month. Right now, Obama is a bigger Hitler than whatever Hitler the drones might be fighting against.
You go to war against the Hitler you have, not the Hitler you wish you had.
I am sorry. I think you are completely wrong about the isolationism. There is a teeny tiny isolationist contingent. I’m pretty sure Ron Paul’s followers are overwhelmingly not anti-war. They don’t give a damn about war one way or the other, but like having an excuse to vote Republican while claiming they’re for ‘liberty’. Rand Paul’s stunt had no purpose and got no support other than to insult Obama.
Because you know who else wrote headlines with the word “Hitler” in them? Yeah, that’s right: HITLER!
a stink is nice and all, but talk is cheap. ol’ rando doesn’t even have the grapes to write a bill. if the guy really wanted to make a difference he’d teabag a can o manwich and suit up and do more than fuckin’ talk.
Oh, it means something all right.
But, um, oh wow, I uh, I……..I forgot what I was sayin’, man…………….
Pat Buchanan was a big isolationist IIRC. So I think you’re right there. But it doesn’t matter. The Republican faithful are the real drones.
Young, white, and upper-middle class; all of which makes politics still merely an abstraction to them, so the most important issues are all hypothetical abuses of state power.
You don’t see Ron Paul supporters waging a campaign against actual and everyday abuses of police power. They don’t give a shit about brown people 20 miles from their doorstep… why should I believe that they give a shit about brown people on the other side of the friggin’ globe?
And it means nothing. This isn’t Vietnam, when being an anti-war politician actually carried real weight among draft-eligible youth. Obama lowering the cost of student loans alone did more to attract the youth vote than modern populist isolationism ever could. Politics is about real shit for people who have real problems, and war isn’t a real problem for most Americans.
Well, shhhhhh! For FSM’s sake, let’s not tell ’em!!
In the end, the business benefits to the security state will woo the Libertarians into supporting the war machine.
I keep chewing out my libertarian acquaintances over this. There used to be an anti-war contingent in the Democratic party. But we as a culture decided that hippies need to be punched. And, Libertarians have voted for tax cuts and pro-business policies over any other concern. For at least three decades, Democrats were beaten to a pulp by the accusations that they are weak on crime and weak on defense. Did the Libertarians step up to support the Democrats? No.
Being the free market fetishists they are, perhaps they can figure out how incentives worked in this particular instance.
Ron Paul’s followers are isolationist because they are not in the class of people who join the military or go to war.
Upper middle class and rich college kids and glibertarians who read one book and thought they’d studied philosophy.
Paul is a tool and a weirdo, he just managed to find hisself a gin-u-whine acorn with the dronz issue. Less attention should be paid to Paul’s grandstanding, and more to Ron Wyden, who put it perfectly: “Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.” And to make such a decision in secrecy, no less.
Just as the Cheney regime’s manifest excesses have accrued to this administration, and its wretched excuse for an AG, so too will this admin’s secrets, lies, and excuses pass on to a far less savory group of individuals at some point.
Urban police forces are already paramilitary structures anyway; it’s only a matter of time before some tinpot mayor in search of a balcony (*cough* *Bloomberg* *cough*) decides that teh dronz are just as legal and useful as a SWAT team in taking out problematic folks. And then you have a precedent any enterprising bureaucratic cell can build on.
This is not a referendum on Obama; this is a critical decision on whether elected officials can secretly decide to send killbots after citizens who have not been tried or even formally charged.
Yes, if only Rand Paul was in Congress — perhaps a Senator — then he would be able to do something about the problem of drones by, say, introducing legislation to put more restrictions on their use. But as things stand today, he’s completely helpless to do anything other than bloviate about them.
Sorry, but I’m sick and tired of Senators and Congressmen acting like they have nothing at all to do with, like, legislation and it’s all in the hands of the president to pass laws. Isn’t there some kind of orientation to explain to these guys what their fucking job is when they’re first elected to Congress? Can’t we show them a few episodes of “Schoolhouse Rock” if they’re so confused about how the system works?
off the Bourgeoisie
@Heywood J.: Oh, you mean like Move in 1985?
Yes, if only there was some kind of legislative body that could pass laws restricting the other branches of the government from doing those things. I’m sure someone like Rand Paul could totally make a difference if he was elected to something like that. Maybe we could call it, I don’t know, “Congress” or something.
Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
And I’m actually quite serious about that.
The dirty fucking hippies were right after all, etc.
@drj: Come and see the violence inherent in the
It’s the Rudyard Kipling philosophy of politics for those with bleeding heart instincts who are too butt hurt by college liberals making issues out malenes, whiteness, Christmas, and their inability to costlessly use the N-word.
Personally, I don’t need my freedom fixed by anyone else, especially Rand Paul and his militia.
What Paul was making a big stink about was whether it would be possible for a president to draw up an enemies list with terrorism as a pretext, then systematically eradicate them. He was pretty clearly thinking about the DHS “domestic extremism” report, not “isolationism” or anything overseas. Accordingly, overlap between what he was talking about and the left-leaning civil libertarian and antiwar critiques of drones and targeted assassination was minimal.
There’s always been an isolationist wing of the Republican party, and it’s always been about 10-15 guys. Everyone else in the party is lining up to blow defense contractors.
White Trash Liberal
Rand’s only beef was with using unmanned craft to kill US citizens on US soil. He was playing to the Turner Diary crowd. If he wrote a Dude Don’t Let the Black Guy Kill Citizens Act, it would pass.
I know the whole concern troll Admiral Ackbar IT’S A TRAP schtick is overdone, but I’m using it anyway. Those on the left who are giving Rand an ounce of credit for doing the right thing are not just wrong but enabling the GOP to continue to obstruct. If Senator Paul was legitimately fucking interested in doing God’s work, he’d legislate. Attempting to block yet another nominee and drumming up fear of a black guy blowing up white people while they sleep is not cool.
Quaker in a Basement
Let’s say you have just the sort of American citizen who might theoretically be targeted for killing by drone. He’s in some remote desert camp. The feds swoop in and capture him rather than kill him.
What would members of the congressional GOP urge us to do with him? Off to Gitmo!, that’s what. So let’s not hear how Rand Paul or any other Republicans are even a little concerned about the rights of citizens.
Why does this discussion invariably turn to “killbots”? The assassination method is clearly immaterial to any of the overarching issues, and yet, every time, someone will say something about robots. Why is that the case?
Also, the most obvious thing to do to curb these powers would be to undo the AUMF. Does Paul want to do that? Does any left-leaning civil libertarian politician feel like even trying? Why is _that_ the case?
Right. And what’s incredibly stupid about this whole thing is that the federal government clearly has the ability/means/power to do this if they wanted to break the law with or without dr0nz.
But it would be illegal. They would be murderers, and so on. Just like they would be if they did it with an F-16.
Also, Paul apparently thinks killing non-US citizens anywhere in the world, including on US soil, is totally coo. Suck it, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis! You were too stupid to be Muricans and be killed by dr0nz in Murica.
True dat. However…it would be ever so nice if somebody would stage a public fight the next time the more egregious provisions of the Patriot Act come up for reauthorization, no? There’s a lot more to worry about from those now, today, than there is from a hypothetical threat from armed drones in U.S. airspace at some point in the future, since those provisions are already being abused.
Also, too – kudos to mah beloved Indiana Hoosiers, who beat Michigan at Michigan and took the Big Ten title for the first time since 1993.
@Quaker in a Basement: Better question: what would the Congressional GOP do if instead of striking them with a drone, we waited to send in the FBI and they blew up a building. Would they say, yes, Mr. President, you did the right thing. Or would they say IMPEEEEEECH?!
You’ll get a discussion when you clean up your fear-mongering about technology.
Lol…figures Doug would fall for the childishly simplistic view that because Rand Paul agrees with him on one thing Rand Paul must be his buddy.
Of course what he doesn’t realize is that Rand Paul is not against drones for any moral reasons. He would just rather have the program privatized or run by individual states. He does’t give a fuck about any moral argument over it!
All one has to do is look at his voting record on such things. But NO…that would require Doug to try reason and it probably makes his head hurt too much.
Why wouldn’t it be? How is a drone significantly different from a sniper? Just put a smaller projectile on it and bob’s your uncle. Again, the droniness of drones seems to have a lot to do with how people discuss them as a problem, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Pat Buchanan was a big isolationist IIRC
I recall driving one night listening to the radio. I tuned into a station where a voice that seemed oddly familiar was saying the “terrorism is the cost of Empire” and that the terrorists didn’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us for our foreign policy. I was actually nodding my head, going “that’s right, that’s exactly it,” then I realized I was listening to Pat Buchanan.
@Mnemosyne: There’s a thought. Again, I get that Paul was merely concern-trolling while pretending to be incredibly principled, but his point, backed by Wyden’s assertion, had some validity.
Of course, once AG Stoner Griefer finally came around and gave them an unequivocal “no”, they confirmed Brennan 2-1 anyway. So the kabuki served its purpose.
@FlipYrWhig: There’s a command structure with a SWAT team, as well as actual humans involved. Who sends the killbots, and where is their accountability?
Godwin’s law is getting shorter and shorter.
Because it preys on some people’s fear of technology that they don’t understand. It’s GOP-style fear-mongering given a whitewash.
@Quaker in a Basement: Paul and friends _clearly_ don’t care about that. They care, or profess to care, about what’s stopping the president from drawing up a kill list of internal American enemies. It synchs up with 1990s militia-movement stuff about the ATF’s jackbooted thugs and gun-grabbers.
If Paul junior gave a rat’s a$$ about public safety, he’d support gun control.
@Heywood J.: If you can’t discuss it without fear-mongering, then you can leave.
Doug, while your comment is very late in the game, I deeply appreciate it. There is a resolute segment of the BJ commentariat that simply believes that the moral character of an action depends on who is executing it. It’s been very educational, when not depressing, to observe their contortions in action. The fact of the matter is that the Obama Administration has killed (at the least) several hundred innocent men, women, and children who share no other common quality than that they are brown-skinned, practice the Muslim religion, and live in one of several disfavored regions in the world.
The Administration has killed these people not in the heat of war but as part of a calculated and pre-meditated regime of targeted bombing. If the prior Administration had deployed drone bombing to the extent this one had — and embraced it with such aplomb — the same people here rationalizing and contextualizing this policy would label it for what it is: reckless and racist aggression. The only factor that has changed is that their favored candidate is performing the reckless murder. This produces cognitive dissonance that they simply won’t deal with, and I doubt your sensible comment will overcome this resistance.
You must also come to terms with the fact that you share the front page with Imani Gandy and Zandar. Both of them are docile tools of the Administration tout court. They have proven there are no lengths to which they will not go to defend the Administration’s actions. They would literally (not figuratively) defend the President if he raped a nun. At some point, decent front-pagers like you and John are compromised by appearing alongside such pathetic and mindless propagandists.
They should have a warning label on that shit.
@Heywood J.: “Killbots” aren’t autonomous. There’s a command structure and a guy with a joystick. Either way, guy with weapon pegs troublemaker from a safe distance. If someone gets caught in the crossfire, there’s a human to blame, because someone pulled the trigger, and someone gave the order to pull the trigger. I don’t see what the difference is.
@FlipYrWhig: “• The US air force alone has up to 70,000 people processing the surveillance information collected from drones. This includes examining footage of people and vehicles on the ground in target countries and trying to observe patterns in their movements.”
@Heywood J.: If the president ordered someone to be poisoned with polonium, that ought to be as much of a problem as “killbots.” Most of the time, when push comes to shove, drone program critics concede that, sometimes angrily. But clearly the “bots” aspect works as some kind of rhetorical trump card, or it wouldn’t come up nearly as frequently.
White Trash Liberal
What these intrepid militia members should be doing is devising radar and jamming tech to counter the drone menace. The whole reason drones are effective in underdeveloped nations like Afghanistan is because of their invisibility. Just like the Hunter and Chameleon systems (developed as Cold War tech) were useful to disable advanced IEDs, a similar counter could be developed and marketed for profit.
@White Trash Liberal:
Fixteth for accuracy. You think he’d ever consider filibustering Willard?
Honestly, when I hear ‘killbots’ I think Futurama. Maybe not the reaction people were going for.
@Spaghetti Lee: Well, you see, the way to fix the drone problem is to send wave after wave of men at them…
“because Rand Paul agrees with him on one thing Rand Paul must be his buddy.”
That’s not even remotely close to either what Doug said in words or in the over all meaning of the piece.
“All one has to do is look at his voting record on such things. But NO…that would require Doug to try reason and it probably makes his head hurt too much.”
Worry not about the mote in thy neighbor’s eye. Worry about the plank that is embedded in thy brain, and compromising thine ability to read and interpret the English language.
What point? That he’s so, so helpless to do anything at all about drones that his only option is to grandstand for 13 hours?
I mean, I understand why firebaggers are in love with Paul’s completely meaningless gesture that doesn’t change anything (including the conversation), but I don’t get why the rest of us are supposed to be impressed when a US senator refuses to take any actual action towards fixing the situation he’s supposedly so very worried about.
@Pinkamena Panic: Damn, I had a fairly extended response, but it didn’t go through. The gist of it was that I do see the other side of it, that the use of drones no doubt has saved the lives of many US military personnel who otherwise would have been sent into harm.
And I would much rather that Obama has the use of drones than Romney, or Cheney. But sooner or later we’re going to have another bastard in there, an ideologue rather than a corporate incrementalist. It’s the tech itself, and the lack of due process in its deployment so far, that are problematic, regardless of who is using it.
White Trash Liberal
Whatever happened to John Walker Lindh?
The guy who created Skynet in Terminator 2 was black. Coincidence?
White Trash Liberal
“Just Words” = Obama
“Principled Stand” = Rand
@Soonergrunt: Durfs gotta Durf.
@Baud: I THINK NOT!!
And, look, this is not to say that I KAN HAS DRONZ PLZ? I just think the issue gets talked about in a strange way. It ought to be simple: rally Congress to curb executive powers, starting with the AUMF that specifically authorizes attacks on terrorists with, due to sloppy or deliberately ambiguous wordsmithing, some degrees’ remove from 9/11. I think the Obama administration would be in a sticky wicket if it tried to invest political capital in keeping in place the AUMF while at the same time bragging about extracting the country from Iraq and Afghanistan. A right-left coalition that wanted to accomplish something on these issues would be doing this, and would have started months ago if not years ago. It’s the dog that isn’t barking.
One should choose one’s tactical allies carefully because they can make one appear really ridiculous. Especially if they don’t really have a history of stable or principled behavior. But hey, Prince Charming will indeed show up in a dive bar some day. Just know where the prophylactics are hidden and have an exit strategy for any possible walk of shame.
Why do you see it to be advantageous to risk even more lives by using a SWAT team?
Yeah, I’m still not getting what’s supposed to be so terrifying about “the tech itself,” as opposed to (for example) a sniper who can kill you from over a mile away. Were you traumatized by a model airplane as a child?
Who do you think he is? A United States Senator, or something?
I am a major, major Obot. I would be totally fine with repealing the AUMF, or the Patriot Act, or creating oversight legislation for drones. Congress has no interest in this. The only thing I’ve ever seen unanimous Congressional support for is an unlimited War On Terror. They don’t even all agree on worshiping Israel or fattening the defense budget. I don’t know what’s up with that. But until congress creates some oversight systems, Obama can’t obey oversight systems that don’t exist.
Doesn’t matter if’n the Republicans are crazy. They are fucking liars, man. Every one. This guy came in on the teabagger wave of ’10 promising a laser focus on jobs, and has spent every second since avoiding any action on it. How dedicated is their avoidance? Well it wasn’t a jobs plan he was yammering on about for 13 motherfucking hours. I knew someone was going to be a big enough rube to fall into The Nevada Nightmare’s filibuster tar pit trap, I just didn’t expect them to go all gang-toity on it. Like “this time for sure we’re stickin’ it to Obammy.” Morans. Gritting the hayseeds is not winning.
@Heywood J.: I’m with you except that you still say that it has something to do with the technology. It really doesn’t. Without proper review, having an enemy bashed with a heavy jagged rock would still be an abuse of executive power. And there’s a pretty good chance that _with_ proper review, someone is going to authorize “killbots,” making it strictly speaking legal. If it’s the method itself that’s abhorrent, the thing to do might be to emulate the campaign against land mines. I don’t know if that would work, but it’d be a starting point.
No, it really isn’t. Wars have been shitty and horrible since the invention of the slingshot.
@Suzanne: And the slingshot wielder was considered a “cheater” and dishonourable. Plus ca change…
@Mnemosyne: Paul’s gesture was almost entirely meaningless. But at least he actually got his ass up and filibustered, instead of the chickenshit theatrics they normally indulge in to make trouble. (And no, I don’t think for a second he would have done this to a Rmoney administration.)
I dunno. I do see both sides of the argument, and I apologize if my snarky use of “killbots” was too off-putting. But I shudder to think how, say, a Jeb/Rubio administration would use these precedents in an even worse and more unaccountable fashion.
DIAMETUNIM!! Herp de derp!!
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a crank about technology, so any sort of special opposition I have to drone strikes probably comes from that. I think from the perspective of warfare, a weapon’s a weapon, and weapons change. The people attacking drones specifically probably don’t have much to say about fighter planes, or tanks, or what have you, but those were all new technologies at some point.
And yet, I do think sometimes that they’re part of a trend towards a too-large percentage of the working and middle class simply not having enough work to go around to make a living, thanks to outsourcing and (in this case) mechanization. For many people, the military is one of the few paths they have after school. What happens to them if the military downsizes drastically because most of the warfare is done by machines that take a much smaller workforce to service and operate? (Obviously that’s not the case now: I’m speaking hypothetically, maybe a few decades from now).
It really bugs me when people say that these sort of questions are just a lizard-brain fear of change, or better yet, a fear of foreigners. This is also about economics. It should come as no surprise to anyone here that a large chunk of the working class and middle class is stuck in a downward spiral of not being able to find consistent work, even before the most recent wave of recessions. And anyone interested in worker’s rights should now that those rights are based on the workers having leverage over the employers, and what happens to that leverage when the pool of unskilled labor keeps growing. That’s part of what I’m worried about.
Even if you think Rand Paul has the barest sliver of a valid point (which I don’t think he did given that he was grandstanding about the ability to target people during a Pearl Harbor type situation), there is still such a thing as having the wrong messenger to deliver the message. Rand Paul has admitted he has no problem with the drone program. If you are anti-drone, he should not be your hero. Period.
@Mnemosyne: How did you guess? If only I could show the propeller scars in polite company….
Just as we suggested that the Chickenhawks on the right should sign up for the military if they’re so gung-ho on invasions, I might suggest that there are people who should join the US Marshal service if they want to serve arrest warrants in Yemen.
I was in Kentucky following Paul’s election closely. He was elected promising to not be a liberal and to bitch about Obama. He very heavily implied he was not one of those crazy people who would try to get anything else accomplished at all. He has fulfilled his campaign promises admirably.
Conway was the one promising a laser focus on jobs. Unfortunately, this message did not involve enough hating the other guy to resonate with Kentuckians.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
@FlipYrWhig: I’m with you on the landmines. I’d say my beef is more about process and accountability than the tech per se.
In fact, the tech seems relatively easy to democratize, so that’ll be a moot point soon enough. Ten years ago Tony Blair’s casus belli was that Saddam had drones that could be in London in 45 minutes to wreak distant havoc; these days it’ll be Kim Jong Un using one on Soeul, or Bashar Assad nailing Tel Aviv.
Or just a garden-variety Tim McVeigh venting his imaginary grievances on a building of innocents.
You just aren’t getting this. See FlipYrWhig’s and Spaghetti Lee’s responses.Never mind, seems you’ve gotten it.
I think this is part of the drone argument that goes unsaid too much. Even people on the left who don’t like Obama don’t think he’s a lunatic warmonger (well, mostly). But maybe we won’t be so lucky in 2016, or 2020, or 2024. There’s a libertarian acquaintance of mine who is a blowhard on most issues, but one thing he did get across to me is that it’s not about who has the power now, but who could have it in the future. And that’s a hope-for-the-best, prepare-for-the-worst scenario if there ever was one.
One thing that does honestly bug me is that during the Bush years, everyone on the left was furious about unaccountable military action and executive overreach. Furious. Now some people still are, and the ones who aren’t tend to laugh at the ones who are, and assume it’s because they’re stupid or racist or they hate technology or they’re being illogical. Now I think it’s fair to debate the point that Obama is better about such things than Bush, but I think it shouldn’t be hard for the pro-Obama group to understand where the anti’s are coming from, and not automatically assume it’s some self-serving or simple-minded reason.
@Spaghetti Lee: I think you’re on to something there. I would go further and suggest that with all the money we’ve squandered on anti-terror programs, maybe 1% of that amount directed toward the economic terrorists who’ve lawn-darted the world economy and laughed all the way to the bank, would be money better spent.
But that will never happen, because Capitalism. Or something.
Yes, this exactly. This is a country that was dumb enough to let George W. Bush cheat his way into office, not once but twice. That empirically proves it can always get worse.
The early rhetoric was all about murder and war crimes, not process. It’s hard to pivot away from first impressions.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
The precedent hasn’t been set by the Obama administration, though, but by Congress. Congress used Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution to suspend habeas corpus in vaguely defined areas outside the borders (and that bit of the Constitution allows Congress to suspend habeas corpus inside the borders, too), charged the POTUS with getting the suspected terrorists inside those vaguely defined areas, but didn’t legislate limits on the methods and tools used to get those suspected terrorists.
Congress is free to amend and clarify this, or they can repeal the authorization altogether.
I have no idea why anyone believes a future republican would feel bound by whatever self restraint Obama exercises.
@Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): True. As with budgetary issues, Congress has to stop with the pearl-clutching, and assert their constitutionally mandated role in determining the parameters of the process at hand. I’m sure Rand Paul has no thoughts whatsoever on the constitutionality of Gitmo, much less the use of
killbotsdrones on blah people.
@Frankensteinbeck: Well he had the floor last week and he screwed the pooch. He could have really been shinin´, but instead he was just wonkin’ off. Regardless of what they say, they never do anything about it, the lousy turds.
@FlipYrWhig: You know, it’s almost as if he thinks Obama will target Republicans.
If this were, say, Richard Nixon, or God help us Joe McCarthy, would there be any doubt who the targets would be? I’m thinking not.
@Baud: True, by design the GOP’s role in the ratchet-pawl system is to extend to new frontiers of awfulness and illegality, while the Dems’ role is to timidly affirm it and try it out for themselves when it’s their turn.
Although I’m sure Eric Holder will any day grow tired of griefing potheads and go after the banksters.
Actually, no. That’s why torture is no longer a national policy and we haven’t invaded any new countries lately.
They aren’t the biggest issue for the supposed drone critics, either, the underlying principles are.
@Baud: Obama does deserve credit for restraining the urge to barge into Syria and/or Iran. I believe a preznit Rmoney would already had a battalion in Damascus, at the very least.
Domestically and economically, though, the parties are a wash. The banksters are as much a product of Clinton as of Dubya, and show no sign of changing or being slapped down. Too Big To Jail, as Holder himself has acknowledged. It ain’t another war that’ll bring us down, it’ll be the hoarding and chicanery of the 1%ers.
This, this, this!
When it comes to war, libertarians DON’T GIVE A SHIT. Not when push comes to shove. Even fir those who actually care, it’s never enough to override their interest in those sweet, sweet tax cuts. They’ll hold their nose and vote GOP every time. The GOP knows this. They also know that war hysteria wins them points with a ton of other voters, so they’re not about to stop pushing that angle.
You’re entitled to your beliefs. I far prefer democrats to republicans on domestic and economic issues also. Not a wash at all.
Spoken like an upper-middle-class straight white dude.
But there’s a bit of a difference, still, I think. My sense is that the Bush administration generally wanted to say “We have these powers and will defend our right to use them, and we’re going to use them with impunity,” while the Obama administration has been saying “We agree that we have these powers and will defend our right to use them, and we only use them with restraint and carefully considered judgment.” (Remember the debate over the NDAA bill with indefinite detention in it: Congress wanted to give the executive more power, the Obama admin didn’t want it, but ultimately they signed the law but issued a signing statement about how they wouldn’t use the power they had just been given.)
In a sad way, the Bush administration won the argument about executive power post-9/11, especially as sanctioned by the AUMF. The Obama administration isn’t trying to re-adjudicate that argument so they can lose it; they do want to claim latitude in how to handle terrorism and civil liberties rather than waiting around for their hands to be tied.
The similarity should be in how to deal with these broadened claims to executive powers and prerogatives, which is for Congress to work to, in fact, tie the hands of the executive branch.
White Trash Liberal
I think the difference is one of the frame of the debate. I am still angry about executive overreach and imperial bellicosity. However, Obama has drawn down in Iraq, over intense criticism and opposition. He is drawing down in Afghanistan. There is still too much military footprint, but I doubt a McCain or Romney administration would have set timetables and ordered the Joint Chiefs to devise an exit strategy.
Greenwald and other firebagger criticism makes the mistake of leveling malevolent and sinister motives to Obama the person. The critique can’t just be “this is wrong and here are the means to take action”… No, it has to be a greater argument about partisan loyalty. There is always the underlying frame that we should be angry with Obama if only we weren’t blindly in love with him. Those of us in the liberal community, whether we are activists or advocates, came to our liberalism armed with facts. By lumping those of us who aren’t robustly denouncing Obama as Obots who drink Kool Aid, it makes a distinction that doesn’t exist.
Greenwald and Hamsher et al made their routine criticism one of impugning the character of Obama. A narrative of betrayal, deceit, and malevolence whereby Obama can and should be able to satisfy their progressive wish list, but is a crypto fascist. The health care debate really brought this out. The abused term kabuki came from Greenwald outright stating that the president wanted the ACA to be a giveaway to corporations and senators like Lieberman where doing his bidding by scuttling compromise. These columns were written and forwarded without proof but were adopted as gospel by the very vocal firebagger wing. Much like right wing conspiracy pr0n.
Speaking for myself, I listen respectfully to plenty of my anti war critic friends on the left who think Obama’s too far right on the war. I just think they’re suckers if they think they fall for Rand’s shit.
Look at what he just filibustered; not Guantanamo, not warrantless wiretapping, not abuses of police authority in the inner city – nothing that actually EXISTS. Only a complete hypothetical was enough to get him to stick out his neck.
So yeah, I understand objections to abuses by the security state regardless of which party’s in charge. I just think it’s completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.
It drives the GOP and the Firebaggers equally nuts hat the Democratic Party is now the party of national defense.
@Chris: plus it’s not as if Obama refusing to do something will keep Presnit Jeb or Jenna Bush from doing anything. These people are so proud of their consistency they’ve lost all sense of pragmatism.
Here we go again…
It would be great if young Paul would make this his driving quest, but that is not who he is. But christ on a crankshaft, thank Hera that there was someone who did something to get this topic increased air time. Who else? Who else? Who the fuck else besides Wyden was doing anything to raise consciousnesses?
Ya don’t like him? Neither do I, but this one man out of one hundred other being, got folks to stop and talk (and maybe even think) about a very significant policy development.
Evolving Deep Southerner
Are you telling me that it’s way more difficult to “robotize” a tank than it is a plane? I feel certain every type of warcraft, land, sea, or air, exists in a drone form somewhere, and it wouldn’t take too long at all – I’m talking months, not “a few decades from now” – to do every damn thing we do with killing vehicles that we do now, except maybe better, since the “pilot” will be cool-headed sitting in NORAD as s/he fires away and not panicked as they would be in the line of fire themselves.
Talk about your “moral hazard.”
Evolving Deep Southerner
I’m getting pictures of Paul walking off the floor after his filibuster saying “OK, I always said that I would only devote 13 hours of my life to this issue. And I decided to knock that shit out all at once. It sucked, but it’s over now, thank God.”
@White Trash Liberal:
This is my problem with the whole “dead babies” strain of criticism about drones. It takes the lamentable fact that innocent people have died and turns that into, at best, callous disregard for human life and, at worst, deliberate wanton cruelty. No matter how uncomfortable or disappointed you feel about the presidency of Barack Obama, come on, you can’t seriously think that he’s a bloodthirsty warlord. The only reason to make your case in that way is to provoke and goad and troll for shock effect, so that when people balk, you can put on the mantle of the brave truth-telling hero who tells bold truths unconcerned with conventional niceties and sacred cows. I don’t care for all that psychodrama. If what you care about is law, ethics, and morality, let’s move towards how to change those laws to reflect a higher standard of ethics and morality, rather than make it an excuse to strut around in righteously indignant self-satisfaction.
Is the position of Hitler of the Month (HOTM) subject to Senate confirmation?
IMHO it depends on what you mean by “this topic,” because what he was raising had zilch to do with cases like Awlaki’s. It was “Can the president put a domestic enemy on a drone-strike list?” and the answer was “No.” But, sure, in a larger sense, it’s overdue to have senators and congresspeople trying to exert some control over how the executive branch makes decisions over war and law enforcement.
Then again, I don’t remember progressives being especially excited about how much it advanced the larger principle of checking executive power when conservatives in the Clinton years were railing against the ATF and Janet Reno.
DougJ, Friend of Hamas
@Suzanne: Replace “upper” with “lower” and you’ve got it. I have an MBA, and nothing to show for it but student-loan debt I can’t pay back, and no decent jobs available.
I get that Rmoney would have been worse, in the sense that at least Obama probably gives a shit on some level about someone other than himself. But in terms of doing something about the macroeconomic factors that determine whether or not there are enough decent jobs available, yes, it is a wash.
If, by presuming “upper-class straight white male” you’re insinuating that I don’t care about issues such as gay rights or women’s rights, you would be very wrong. I do care, and have always voted accordingly. But the country has changed its sentiments regarding gay marriage substantially, and already DOMA has been rendered nearly irrelevant.
As for women’s rights, I don’t know what to say — no matter who’s in the White House, there will always be people dumb enough to vote for troglodytes like Akin and Mourdock, and worse yet, some of those folks will be women. Last I checked, there are still more women than men in this country; pro-lifers can’t do what they do without help from women.
I humbly submit that, in a healthy economy where upward mobility hasn’t stalled and the Gini index isn’t at the level of a banana republic, “social” issues should fall by the wayside. People who make a living wage, and aren’t being grifted to death by the various rackets that run this country, don’t have time to meddle in other people’s personal lives.
But I also recognize that no one from either party will ever fix the economic situation. The donor class would never allow it. So in that light, sure, Obama is better than Rmoney would have been.
White Trash Liberal
There is a huge difference between driving quest and proposing legislation. One doesn’t have to be fanatic to try and do the job of passing laws.
No, in my opinion, Rand was grandstanding and providing cover for the GOP plan of obstruct and divide. That he stumbled upon an issue that crosses over in appeal with liberals in no way mitigates the singular destructive quality of obstruction that animates today’s conservatives.
I won’t lend him any legitimacy. He’s a fraud. Just like the rest of the tribe that tries to pretend that their boy Dubya wasn’t the high water mark of their belief system in action.
Non-interventionist =/= isolationist.
@Evolving Deep Southerner:
That was Future Combat Systems (FCS), and a lot of it got shitcanned a couple of years ago for cost and performance issues. Yes, it is a lot harder to develop systems that move autonomously on ground than in the air, although Google seems to be doing a pretty good job with the robot cars.
I don’t think there was any plan for any of these platforms to autonomously select targets, and if there was I’d really like to know what sort of moron would green-light anything that could go that disastrously wrong. The only automated target selection I know of is in close-in defense systems that can automatically target other rockets or missiles.
considering the precedent of ‘drone striking an american overseas’ was set by jeb’s brother, i don’t think it has shit to do with obama.
Evolving Deep Southerner
Well, no. The Reapers or Hellhawks or whatever they’re called don’t pick their own targets. I don’t think anyone – unless they were crazy – would want the fucking machines picking targets on their own (though I can see it with regard to the missile defense systems, which have to do it because everything’s happening faster than a human can move.)
But if you’re “looking out the windshield” of an aerial drone from some bunker in Nevada, how much harder could it be to “look out the windshield” (or periscope, or whatever) of a land- or seagoing vehicle?
@White Trash Liberal: So it would have been better had he not acted in that specific way that drove media coverage for those two days?
@Heywood J.: My point is that the Ds and the Rs are not even close to the same, and if you were a woman, or LGBT, or black, or really and truly lower-middle-class or poor (having an MBA means you’re at least middle class, even with student debt), you wouldn’t even begin to say something so stupid. It is straight moneyed/educated white male privilege that leads you to think that “social issues should fall by the wayside”, because those weren’t your civil rights that were imperiled.
I got an MArch in 2010 and my husband and I have student debt that equals our mortgage. I realize that it sucks to have an expensive education from which you aren’t realizing the expected return—we live that daily. But don’t for a moment think that that fact means that you aren’t still rolling in a metric shit-ton of relative good fortune.
Killer dronez killing Americans at Starbucks has threatened our fragile society for too long.
@J.D. Rhoades: I think it’s true as well, even if Pat Buchanan believes it. Blind squirrels do find acorns now and then.
@Keith G: well, sure, it would have been _better_ if he had views that weren’t ridiculous 90s-vintage paranoia. It may have done some good to bring up a buried issue. But all of his concerns were WAY off from the left-civil-libertarian set of concerns. Again, I refer you as a precedent to Waco and Janet Reno. I don’t remember anyone being enthused about Helen Chenoweth and Bob Barr as heroes exposing the undue power of the DoJ or ATF.
The Anti-Obama Paultard libertarian “left” has now aligned themselves with the Alex Jones conspiracy militia right wing…Anybody who doesn’t run around screaming…”OBAMA IS GUNNA KILL YOU WITH HIS DRONEZZZZ”…is considered a nazi-esque Obama cultist…Rand Paul repeatedly compares Obama to Hitler…but that doesn’t give these “Progressives” pause..For a long time the anti-obama left has had no problem associating themselves with racists and lunatics…They tried to convince people that the tea party was a legitimate grassroots movement that “progressives” should form an alliance with…Now they are having a love-fest with John Birch Society, Info Wars anti-govt lunatics…and pretending it’s about “principles”