Thursday, March 07, 2013

Busking In The Senate Chamber (UPDATE)

So it seems some American liberals and those further to the Left are trying to make an old truism true: Go far enough to an extreme, and you meet your opposite number.  Thus you get folks like Charlie Pierce, Wonkette, and Think Progress saying, essentially, that while pretty much wrong on everything else, Rand Paul kinda-sorta might have an eentsie-teeny-weenie point.


I'm not surprised at Glenn Greenwald.  Filled with his own special brand of self-righteousness, Greenwald's feces ceased emitting an odor the moment Barack Obama was elected and Greenwald could prove he wasn't a liberal stooge by going after the newly elected President for . . . doing things all American Presidents since at least Harry Truman if not before have done.  Not that I agree with them; I think I've been pretty clear that, for example, Truman's decision to send American troops to Korea without seeking a Congressional declaration of war first was when the flat ground disappeared and we found ourselves on a very steep, slippery slope.

All the same, does any thinking human being believe any President won't act as President's act?

In any event, on this matter in particular, I refuse to grant Rand Paul even a scintilla of credibility.  Unlike, for example, the writer of the above-linked Think Progress piece, I could never write the following:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who referred to himself and Paul (both whom have strong records on civil liberties issues) as the “checks and balances caucus,” also joined the questioning.(italics mine)
Rand Paul strong on civil liberties?  Seriously?  The guy who thinks both the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act are unconstitutional?  The guy who thinks a 100-year-old Supreme Court case (that has since been overturned by later Supreme Court cases) that claimed labor laws interfered with the Constitutional "right" to contract for work is a "wonderful decision"?  How can anyone even remotely familiar with recent events write something about Rand Paul like that?

All the same, I wouldn't make common cause with the two biggest attention-whores in the United States Senate, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.  As Wonkette makes clear, they are just upset that Rand Paul is stealing their precious face time before the cameras.

In point of fact, I would refuse to acknowledge any point to the entire exercise.  This isn't about any concern Paul feels for civil liberties; it's using a reputation other's have given him to do what Republicans do, viz., obstruct yet another Obama appointee to high office.  BATF hasn't had a director since Obama took office in 2009.  There are 87 federal judgeships vacant, with 32 nominees waiting approval.  The ridiculous circus surrounding Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's nomination was of a piece with this entire rigmarole.

Furthermore, granting Paul any legitimacy on this point cedes the debate wholly to the terms he has staked: Hypothetical possibilities.  It does no one any good to say, "Well, if we say it's OK for Obama to have the power to kill Americans, what happens if a crazy person is President?"

Um, Pres. Obama is not claiming the power to kill Americans.  That and the constant badgering about "drones" completely distorts the entire matter.  The President used his power as Commander-in-Chief to order a strike against an American ex-patriot who was overseas fomenting terrorism against the United States.  After his death, his son picked up the paternal mantle, and he, too, was killed.

Those kinds of things happen in war.

I'm sorry if I sound like I don't care about "due process".  I really do.  The thing is, these men were, for all intents and purposes aiding and abetting enemies of the United States of America.  They were legitimate military targets.

All the discussion since their deaths has been much ado about, "What if . . .?"  Indeed, Sen. Paul said over and over again yesterday that he wanted assurances from Attorney General Eric Holder that the President doesn't have the constitutional authority "to kill Americans here in the United States".  Absent any context or set of initial conditions, this is as meaningless as asking if the President has the constitutional authority to fly to the moon and back.

And Sen. Paul did get an answer:

I should probably mention there's this whole law usually known as posse comitatus.  It was actually revoked by Congress in 2006 and signed in to law by Pres. George W. Bush in that year's NDAA.  It was put back in 2009 and signed in to law by . . . the same President Rand Paul seems to think would kill us in our sleep for no other reason than he felt like it.

Like everything else with these guys and gals, it's best to take a couple deep breaths and realize they're still crazy.

UPDATE: Not only is he funny, he's far more articulate than I could ever be.  Tbogg sums up my view of just how stupid too many lefties are about Rand Paul and DDDDRRRROOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNESSSS!!!!:
Ted Cruz wants to know if it is Constitutionally permissible to kill an American on US soil with a drone. Is it okay if a SWAT sniper shoots a kidnapper who is threatening his victim? If yes, then how about with a drone if that were possible? But when Eric Holder tried to explain that Cruz’s question left out any nuance or circumstances, he was browbeaten for not giving it a blanket thumbs down. That is the stupid discussion we are having now in America.
It’s the whole scary “flying killer robot” thing that is making everyone stupid. As for the Bin Laden thing, many of these same people have called his killing an “extrajudicial murder” which is where they lose me because they seem to have no regard for the safety of the people who actually have to do the dirty work of getting in there and getting out. They shouldn’t be pawns in someone’s late night dorm room discussion about ” how the world should be”.
Does the surveillance aspect of drones bother me? Not anymore than stop light cameras that catch some people running red lights and discourage others from doing so. Or CCTV that helps to prevent crime or even exposes the police when they act like criminals. It’s a tool and sometimes it gets misused, but on the whole it serves its purpose and we never think to complain about it then.
Also this.  As an aside, I should add that I'm a tad less blase about the civil liberties aspects of everything from our surveillance society to the militarization of our domestic police power.  All the same, a bunch of mostly white, privileged men sitting around tutting about Barack Obama being history's greatest monster (and by extension, any people who disagree with them being either stooges or stoooopppidd) while waving away what actually is happening makes me want to drop them in the middle of Somalia.
 And I’m not saying drones are passé . Only that I know how the argument is going to go for the next few days, and I have no interest in arguing (again) with people who, in the end, are just going to call me history’s greatest monster because I am not as fanatically obsessed with drones ( or Bradley Manning for that matter) as Glenn Greenwald or Kevin Gosztola to the exclusion of actual everyday issues that affect people who don’t have the leisure time to sit around and have wonky debates at high decibel levels.
Put simply: if you think Osama bin Laden was “assassinated”, as has been asserted, then I’m no more interested in your opinion than if you want to talk about the fake moon landing.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More