Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Obama Doctrine: Killing Beyond the Horizon

The thousands of men, women and children who have been killed and maimed by the secretive and escalating Drone attacks overseas are finally getting some big-time attention from the mainstream press.  The Washington Post ran an excellent and disturbing article on its front page yesterday.  The gist is that lawmakers in Washington kind of know about the program, but are kind of not allowed to talk about it, because it's a big fat secret. Here's the part that sent chills up my spine:
Key members of Obama’s national security team came into office more inclined to endorse drone strikes than were their counterparts under Bush, current and former officials said.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former CIA director and current Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan seemed always ready to step on the accelerator . . . 
The only member of Obama’s team known to have formally raised objections to the expanding drone campaign is Dennis Blair, who served as director of national intelligence.
During a National Security Council meeting in November 2009, Blair sought to override the agenda and force a debate on the use of drones, according to two participants.
Blair has since articulated his concerns publicly, calling for a suspension of unilateral drone strikes in Pakistan, which he argues damage relations with that country and kill mainly mid-level militants. But he now speaks as a private citizen. His opinion contributed to his isolation from Obama’s inner circle, and he was fired last year. (bold mine).
  The New York Times, meanwhile, is hauling the Administration into court for its failure to be transparent about just how, who, what, where and why it kills civilians without so much as a press release, let alone due process.  Glenn Greenwald surmises that Democratic partisans are loath to accuse the nice guy in the White House of rogue terrorism because doing so might give aid and comfort to Mitt Romney. But human rights and civil liberties organizations are ever so politely asking Obama what the deal is with these long-distance murders.

The White House isn't talking, but its close think tank partner -- The Center for American Progress -- is.  In a stunning policy paper quietly published online just before Christmas,analyst Peter Juul writes that the drone attacks are indeed the new Obama Doctrine, the defacto foreign policy of the United States. Terror is being defined as leveraged diplomacy. Killing targets from afar is cheap, it's easy, it's fiscally responsible and it boosts the president's austerity bona fides during this second Great Depression. The public need not worry its pretty little head about what mayhem is being committed in our name.  Writes Juul: 
In 2011 President Obama crafted a new doctrine for the United States’ use of force, but this doctrine is more apparent in his administration’s actions than in his speeches. The new doctrine effectively removes counterinsurgency and nation-building as the main approaches to advancing American national interests and replaces them with partnering with allies and leveraging America’s unique, over-the-horizon military capabilities. This new approach reduces the burdens on the United States in terms of high military casualties and out-of-control military spending while playing to its diplomatic and military strengths.
Regardless of the more controversial aspects of this approach such as drone strikes, President Obama has crafted a more sustainable way for the United States to use its hard power to advance its interests in the world.
The war in Libya was the Obama Doctrine writ on a larger, "over-the-horizon" scale -- Qaddafi was taken out on the cheap, in less than a year! No American lives were lost either.

 It's called diplomacy, American-style. Speak softly and simply allow a grunt in a Nevada trailer to push a button.  Pay no attention to the blowback, the resentment being fomented in Muslim countries for generations to come.  
The overthrow of Qaddafi only cost the United States $1.1 billion, (Juul continues) with no American or NATO lives lost over the course of seven-and-a-half months. This compares with $1.38 trillion spent and 7,632 coalition lives lost in multiyear counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Juul's muted cheerleading propaganda piece fails to mention the thousands of Libyan corpses -- including children -- left behind on the killing ground that no shiny American jackboots ever needed to touch.  He also failed to mention the American journalists killed in the fighting.  The main thing is the glorious fiscal responsibility of War the Obama way.  Nothing to see on TV because as far as you're concerned, the Obama Doctrine does not exist. The Defense Dept and the CIA have been melded into one hypersecretive, coldly efficient hybrid agency. No guts, but plenty of glory for the White House Warrior.

The bellicosity of the mellow guy in the Oval is definitely becoming a political talking point.  In a piece in today's Hill, Obama operatives are gearing up for a campaign in which the president will be sold as the "Warrior of the Middle Class" as well as the warrior who protects us from the ephemeral threats from abroad.

Part of the reason, opines Glenn Greenwald, that the Republican Party is plummeting over the right wing lunatic cliff, is that's hard to fight against a defacto Republican warmonger already esconced in the White House.  In a Guardian op-ed piece, he writes:
A staple of GOP politics has long been to accuse Democratic presidents of coddling America's enemies (both real and imagined), being afraid to use violence, and subordinating US security to international bodies and leftwing conceptions of civil liberties.
But how can a GOP candidate invoke this time-tested caricature when Obama has embraced the vast bulk of George Bush's terrorism policies; waged a war against government whistleblowers as part of a campaign of obsessive secrecy; led efforts to overturn a global ban on cluster bombs; extinguished the lives not only of accused terrorists but of huge numbers of innocent civilians with cluster bombs and drones in Muslim countries; engineered a covert war against Iran; tried to extend the Iraq war; ignored Congress and the constitution to prosecute an unauthorised war in Libya; adopted the defining Bush/Cheney policy of indefinite detention without trial for accused terrorists; and even claimed and exercised the power to assassinate US citizens far from any battlefield and without due process?
Indeed.  Maybe this is what the Obama apologists had in mind when they theorized that he is the genius of all time and is simpling gaming the GOP in a marathon session of 11-dimensional chess.


Anne Lavoie said...

Excellent piece, Karen! And thanks for the nice photo of our Warlord.

Denis Neville said...

Why do they do it?

“Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as ‘the most flagrant of all passions.’” - Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly

Because their children and families are not exposed to the same lethal results their policies inflict on other people’s children and families. These people have nothing at risk other than their reputations. Better to support such policies, rather than oppose them, because everyone else does in order retain their political and professional bona fides.

Read Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly about how very smart people in power can do very stupid things – going to war, disregarding the lessons from history:

"For the ruler it is easier, once he has entered a policy box, to stay inside. For the lesser official it is better, for the sake of his position, not to make waves, not to press evidence that the chief will find painful to accept. Psychologists call the process of screening out discordant information 'cognitive dissonance,' an academic disguise for 'Don't confuse me with the facts.' Along the way, cognitive dissonance causes alternatives to be deselected since even thinking about them entails conflicts.”

“In its first stage, mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem. In the second stage, when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify. This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and re-thinking and a change of course are possible, but they are rare as rubies in a backyard. Rigidifying leads to increase of investment and the need to protect egos; policy founded upon error multiplies, never retreats. The greater the investment and the more involved in it the sponsor's ego, the more unacceptable is disengagement."

Denis Neville said...

More cognitive dissonance ('don't confuse me with the facts')

“Cognitive Dissonance and Detention Without Trial”

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” -Thomas Jefferson

“It is a sad moment when a president who has prided himself on his knowledge of and belief in constitutional principles succumbs to the politics of the moment to sign a bill (National Defense Authorization Act), that poses so great a threat to basic constitutional rights,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

“On the face of it, that makes the US a scary place to live. But, as a matter of everyday reality, most Americans aren’t scared at all. Should they be?” asks John Quiggins.

“There is a problem of cognitive dissonance here. The powers claimed by the Bush and Obama Administrations have only been used against US citizens on a handful of occasions and always against people who were, at least, supporters of Islamist terror groups. As far as everyday experience is concerned, the ratification of those powers by Congress makes no difference.

“Is this situation stable, or is the US on a slippery slope? If the law remains unchanged, expansion of its scope is virtually inevitable. The Republicans have long demanded the end of ordinary criminal trials for those accused of involvement in Islamist terrorism and, sooner or later, they will be in a position to enforce that demand. As with Guantanamo Bay, that’s a step that will prove virtually impossible to reverse…”

“The road is open to the unfettered use of these powers. Even if the numbers actually detained were relatively modest (in the thousands, say) the threat would be available in all sorts of contexts, going well beyond law enforcement.”

“Is there any prospect of a reversal of this trend? Based on past experience, this won’t happen simply because of principled objections, so any reaction will only come when these powers are actually abused. And given the abuses to which the US public (and even more the US elite) are already inured, it would take something quite extreme…”

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.” - Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

We should all have chills up our spines.

Anne Lavoie said...

Judging by the lack of comments from the commentariat, that might be evidence that the Obama Doctrine is working very effectively right here in the Homeland.

Maybe it's not just the lawmakers who believe they are not allowed to talk about it. That speaks volumes.

Karen Garcia said...

I imagine most people want to escape from depressing stuff like this during the big holiday week. Hey, at least I waited a decent interval after Christmas to write about this crap. I notice the Washington Post dumped its story at a low-readership time of year, too. But as the 99% well know,destruction and corruption take no holiday!

Anne Lavoie said...


Yeah, or cognitive dissonance, as Denis pointed out. Or assent/consent of the Obama Doctrine. He is a Democrat after all. Baaaaaa! (sound of sheeple).

Btw, is that a halo around our WarLord's head in the photo?

Anne Lavoie said...

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me. "

Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)

Anne Lavoie said...

Since people have been opting to comment to older posts rather than this one (does it have the cooties?), I will fill the void.

This may be especially interesting to those looking for a job in a new Booming! industry.

From an article in yesterday's LA Times:

'America's growing drone operations rely on hundreds of civilian contractors, including some who work in the so-called kill chain before Hellfire missiles are launched, according to current and former military officers, company employees and internal government documents.

It takes more people to operate unmanned aircraft than it does to fly traditional warplanes that have a pilot and crew.

About 168 people are needed to keep a single Predator aloft for 24 hours, according to the Air Force. The larger Global Hawk surveillance drone requires 300 people. In contrast, an F-16 fighter aircraft needs fewer than 100 people per mission.

With a fleet of about 230 Predators, Reapers and Global Hawks, the Air Force flies more than 50 drones around the clock over Afghanistan and other target areas. The Pentagon plans to add 730 medium and large drones in the next decade, requiring thousands more personnel.'

The Obama Doctrine is also the Obama Jobs Plan.

Kat said...

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.” - Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
This reminds me of people who wish to support the president and still believe that his party is the party of peace and support for civil liberties.
When there is only one person running for president who desires an end to endless war-- and this person is in the "hawkish" party-- we hear such things as "he is an isolationist. he only cares about the monetary cost of war."
Is this a comfort to the victims of predator drone attacks? At least they weren't spared from attacks by someone with the wrong motives?

Denis Neville said...

If men were angels…

James Madison, the father of our Constitution,” reaches out from the past to warn us:

“We are free today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few. A republic can not stand upon bayonets, and when that day comes, when the wealth of the nation will be in the hands of a few, then we must rely upon the wisdom of the best elements in the country to readjust the laws of the nation to the changed conditions.”

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

“The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” - James Madison (Federalist Papers #51)

Who in 2012 will preserve the nation that James Madison had in mind?

Denis Neville said...

Do we really understand the true cost of drone warfare? Does the Nobel Peace Prize winner?

Joshua Foust in The Atlantic, “Unaccountable Killing Machines: The True Cost of U.S. Drones”

“This sloppiness with life and death decisions is a substantial moral failing, and should be a huge scandal for President Obama. But, he has decided to both distance himself from it while also taking credit for its successes, even as it focuses on ever less important and marginal figures within the terrorist milieu.”

“The enormous expansion of drone operations … has come at an enormous cost: to our reputation, to our morals, to our relationship and status with countries we need to work with to contain and defuse terrorism, and in the lives of the many innocent people we've killed through either sloppiness or ignorance. Rather than asking the difficult questions of whether the success of the drone program has been worth it, though, President Obama has chosen instead to amplify its operations and thus claim victory in killing bad guys, even while he distances himself from the knowledge and personal responsibility for who these dead people are and what crimes they may have committed.”

“It is an absolute scandal. We owe ourselves better questions and more accountability of the drones we use to wantonly kill people around the planet.”

Neil said...

This is journalism at its finest Karen, and necessary for those who seek truth. Obama wants your vote, but not your questions or critical thinking. Too bad Obama did not run on this platform in 2008. Can you imagine the campaign speeches, Obama calling for drone strikes to kill suspected American terrorists without due process? Or locking up Domestic Belligerents without due process under the NDAA?

And what about those "thousands of men, women and children who have been killed and maimed by the secretive and escalating Drone attacks overseas"? Are they really "long-distance murders"?

Denis is right to quote Tuchman on cognitive dissonance and rigidifying, but Obama and our government do not operate on psychological principals, humanism, or even common sense. Our nation is governed by "the rule of law" and has been increasingly hijacked by lawyers and the legal profession. Law school teaches lawyers to think differently than ordinary people. "Long-distance murders" to one trained in law may fall into one of two categories: Justifiable homicide, as in Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American killed by a drone strike without due process, and excusable homicide, as in an unsuspecting child killed while standing next to Al-Awlaki during the drone strike.

Obama is a lawyer, and the Clintons are lawyers. And so are a many of the Republican candidates for president: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and before dropping out of the race, Tim Pawlenty.

Anne is right in quoting Martin Niemoller about the threat to our freedom. As I write on my website, "The scale of atrocities that made the Holocaust were only possible with the cooperation of the legal profession, the instrumentality of government, and participation of corporations and their corporate lawyers. The legal profession must be identified for its role in the Holocaust. To discount this role is to ignore the banality of evil."

Karen, what about a recall petition for the Obama Nobel Peace Prize? There must be a more deserving candidate.

Anne Lavoie said...


Point very well made about the drone victims. Thanks.

Hard to believe that the only person running for President who desires an end to endless war is called 'dangerous!' but the ones threatening other countries and beating the drums for war are not.

And we are told to give Obama a break because 'he's not a King, you know'. He can't accomplish much because Presidents have to rely on Congress to pass their programs, blah, blah, blah.

However, when someone is running against Obama, beware their Kingly powers! Everything they want will come to pass. Be very afraid. Fret over the small stuff that Congress actually controls the fate of, and pay no attention to power of the President over wars.

Looking back, it was a sign of things to come when Obama's Presidential Oath of Office was bungled over the word 'faithfully', especially considering he was swearing on the Bible to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States". Only a two-faced forked-tongued lawyer could do something so despicable as violate his oath with that damnable NDAA!

Jay - Ottawa said...

Part I

Drones are demonic, in a class with other weapons that should be outlawed. What is to be done?

Let’s say for argument’s sake that Obama is the LEAST evil of all the candidates likely to be on the ballot in 2012. OK. Let’s even stipulate – with single issue voter blinkers on -- that Obama probably would not appoint a judge to the Court who would vote to overthrow Roe v Wade. OK.

Let’s say he might be less worse with respect to the wars or the economy for the average American than any of the Republican prospects. Doesn’t it seem abundantly clear by now that Obama’s “least,” as evidenced in Karen’s post of today, as well as in a dozen other deeply significant matters of policy over the past three years, is nevertheless in the same league of the “worst.” In war, civil rights, the economy, health care, jobs, foreclosures, the environment, on and on -- except Roe v Wade -– Obama has gone past the point of no return time and again and led us deep into the camps of the neocons and the neoliberals. Do you really think he’s going to reverse course now, or later? Our least-worst pilot at the controls of this Administration is no “Sully” Sullenberger. The America we knew is falling apart and headed for a crash. Not OK.

Having taken note of all Obama has done and not done, can you still say ‘yes’ to him in 2012? I believe the only response for people with any conscience must be a loud “NO.” I’m not won over by the argument that pragmatism trumps conscience or the constitution or the warning voiced by Neimoller (too late) and quoted by Anne, above.

That NO goes as well for the people in the Congress who support Obama, or were silent as he methodically gave the money of average Americans to the rich, sold out on health care reform, violated the Constitution on several counts and wages continuous war as described by Madison (see passages provided by Denis). As others have asked, what’s left for Obama to damage and violate and dishonor? Obama’s failures are not minor; they are world-class major. That’s why I classify him in the same league as the political wrecking crew on the Republican side. Of course, if you dwell in some safe haven and have no sense of solidarity with the majority of Americans, you will disagree. OK. Understandable but sad.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Part II

Voting for Obama in 2012 would be tantamount to acquiescing with his first term and will guarantee a continuance of those drones, the military gravy train, the foreclosures, the joblessness and the race to a feudal society where the many struggle to survive at or near grim poverty levels and the rich who, along with a corps of talented elites who service privilege, rule by fiat.

There are five reasons why an American would vote for Obama in 2012: (1) civic ignorance and susceptibility to propaganda; (2) allegience to an inhumane ideology; (3) single-issue concerns; (4) comfortable circumstances and a sense of invulnerability; and (5) no detectable threshold of ethical standards.

For the rest of us the answer must remain “NO” to drone war and all the rest Obama has laid upon the nation and the world.

A loud “NO” is what OWS groups are advocating for the upcoming caucuses and primaries, starting in Iowa. Write in “Uncommitted,” instead of checking off the name of one candidate or another. In a few primaries of the past “Uncommitted” or “None Acceptable” won the most votes, as Bob Dole could testify. If you’re a Democrat who can vote in the primaries and want to say “NO” now, write in “Uncommitted.” You just might defeat Obama in a primary here and there. It’s the new OWS thing: Occupy the primaries.

Having sent a message to the Administration through the primaries with your “Uncommitted,” you could always weasel out (of your purist principled stand in solidarity with millions of fellow Americans being screwed by this Administration) and vote once again with a pragmatic “YES” for Obama in the showdown of November 2012. And have it both ways. Just spare me how wise and pragmatic you are, safe and sound behind your little hill of money, while millions at home and abroad get to suffer lots more -- apart from lucky you -- at the soft hand of what some still call the Lesser of Two Evils.

Anne Lavoie said...


Chris Hedges will be interviewed live on the 3hr 'In Depth' program on C-Span 2 BookTV on Sunday 1/1 at 12pm (ET). Questions for him can be emailed in advance to BookTV.

James F Traynor said...

Cognitive dissonance. The average American would not recognize which was the noun and which was the adjective, let alone the meaning of the phrase which they would immediately recognize operationally as double talk. Use of the phrase itself is a kind of double talk, an 'in talk' - more the display of a badge than an attempt to communicate. And we definitely have a problem of communication here, one of the reasons why Fox News is so successful. We definitely need more George Carlins and a lot fewer Obamas.

Denis Neville said...

Andrew Bacevich, “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.,” on our nation’s refusal to heed Dwight Eisenhower’s summons to shoulder the responsibilities of citizenship.

Eisenhower “famously identified the military-industrial complex, warning that the growing fusion between corporations and the armed forces posed a threat to democracy. Judged 50 years later, Ike’s frightening prophecy actually understates the scope of our modern system - and the dangers of the perpetual march to war it has put us on.”

David Cloud, in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, “America's growing drone operations rely on hundreds of civilian contractors…who work in the so-called kill chain before Hellfire missiles are launched… Relying on private contractors has brought corporations that operate for profit into some of America's most sensitive military and intelligence operations. And using civilians makes some in the military uneasy.”,0,4297891,full.story

Equally significant from Eisenhower:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

“This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?”

–Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953.

Is there no other way that we may live?

Yes! As Jay said, “For the rest of us the answer must remain “NO” to drone war and all the rest Obama has laid upon the nation and the world.”

Anne Lavoie said...

KG Alert - NYT 12/31 front page piece entitled 'Obama to Turn Up Attacks on Congress in Campaign' (Campaign 2012 Feature).

@James Traynor

Oh James, James, James. We have in the past been scolded by She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named about not using the appropriate style or tone or humor in our comments to get our message across effectively, so we understand what you are saying about being more like George Carlin. However, as much as we would like to write as artfully as Karen Garcia does, we simply don't have those talents. We forgive each other for our failings and enjoy the substance, if not always the style, of each others comments.

Re: double-talk/in-talk and 'cognitive dissonance'

The psychological concept of cognitive dissonance has been around a long time and is not just a couple of fancy words meant to wear as a badge to impress. It is an interesting and relevant theory that helps to explain and predict behavior.

Here on Sardonicky, we are submitting comments for each other, not the general public who may or may not know a noun from an adjective. Speaking of which, there are far worse things in life than being ignorant of grammar, such as being highly educated and waging drone wars, destroying the Bill of Rights, assassinating American citizens, etc.

So I respectfully disagree with you about having a real failure to communicate here. When it comes to the concept of cognitive dissonance to explain the continued undying support of Warlord Obama, it is dead on target, hitting the bull's-eye perfectly.

I value this blog, Karen's insightful posts and the thoughtful and enlightening comments of the readers, however they express them. Thanks especially to Karen for this blog, and to everyone else who contributes. Happy New Year!

Denis Neville said...

Re Jay - sending the “uncommitted” message to O’s Administration in the primaries…

I like Cenk Uygar’s argument: “If ‘uncommitted’ beat President Obama on the Democratic side in Iowa, that would make some news. That might even get the attention of The Establishment. So far, he has only responded to right-wing pressure. He is the consummate politician, so if there was actually a little bit of pressure on his left he might have to respond to it, especially during an election season.

A lot of “mights,” but what the hell, send ‘em a message.

I also like the recall effort of Montana voters.

Jonathan Turley, “Montana citizens have decided to try another approach given the non-responsive attitude of our leaders - they are moving to remove their two Senators from office over their votes in favor of indefinite detention powers.”

“These politicians, including Obama, have long made the cynical calculation that civil libertarians have no where to go politically and that votes continue to be motivated by party allegiance and the appeal of personalities. These Montana voters are trying to show that they are wrong.”

Send ‘em a message.

“Obama’s failures are not minor; they are world-class major.”

Where I would differ with Jay, is that the political wrecking crew is on both the Democratic and the Republican sides.

Kat said...

Thanks for those who provided the links to the LA Times article. I really had no idea how much manpower was involved in drone operations. Good to know we're continuing Rummy's legacy of a leaner, meaner (well, we got that right), armed forces. Is there no part of our national "defense" that we will not outsource?

Forty years ago we had a presidential candidate that dared to call the carpet bombing of Indochina a particularly cowardly way of waging war.

Denis Neville said...

Speaking of scolds...

Is it really hard to see why Democrats hate Ron Paul’s candidacy and anyone who touts its benefits?

Glenn Greenwald discusses the candidacies of Barack Obama and Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.”

“…it is indisputably true that Ron Paul is the only political figure…who advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial. The converse is equally true: the candidate supported by liberals and progressives and for whom most will vote - Barack Obama - advocates views on these issues (indeed, has taken action on these issues) that liberals and progressives have long claimed to find repellent, even evil.”

“The central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned…progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here - the game that’s being played - is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.

“The fallacy in this reasoning is glaring. The candidate supported by progressives - President Obama - himself holds heinous views on a slew of critical issues and himself has done heinous things with the power he has been vested…(see lengthy listing in his article)

“The simple fact is that progressives are supporting a candidate for President who has done all of that - things liberalism has long held to be pernicious. I know it’s annoying and miserable to hear. Progressives like to think of themselves as the faction that stands for peace, opposes wars, believes in due process and civil liberties, distrusts the military-industrial complex, supports candidates who are devoted to individual rights, transparency and economic equality. All of these facts like the history laid out by Stoller

- negate that desired self-perception. These facts demonstrate that the leader progressives have empowered and will empower again has worked in direct opposition to those values and engaged in conduct that is nothing short of horrific. So there is an eagerness to avoid hearing about them, to pretend they don’t exist. [cognitive dissonance] And there’s a corresponding hostility toward those who point them out, who insist that they not be ignored.”

“The parallel reality - the undeniable fact - is that all of these listed heinous views and actions from Barack Obama have been vehemently opposed and condemned by Ron Paul…For that reason, Paul’s candidacy forces progressives to face the hideous positions and actions of their candidate, of the person they want to empower for another four years. If Paul were not in the race or were not receiving attention, none of these issues would receive any attention because all the other major GOP candidates either agree with Obama on these matters or hold even worse views.

“Paul scrambles the comfortable ideological and partisan categories and forces progressives to confront and account for the policies they are working to protect. His nomination would mean that it is the Republican candidate - not the Democrat - who would be the anti-war, pro-due-process, pro-transparency, anti-Fed, anti-Wall-Street-bailout, anti-Drug-War advocate (which is why some neocons are expressly arguing they’d vote for Obama over Paul). Is it really hard to see why Democrats hate his candidacy and anyone who touts its benefits?”

Kat said...

It seems that Glen Greenwald has more to say on cognitive dissonance today.
He pretty much says everything I would wish to say if I could write better.
There appears to be some sort of twitter war going on between Greenwald and some other bloggers. I guess Greenwald is boring because he writes the same things again and again.
Silly Glenn, doesn't he know that he should inject a few more posts about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or his quest for the perfect empanada?

Zee said...


When I introduced myself to Sardonicky a few weeks ago, I described myself as a thinking Conservative—I hope!— who is interested in finding common ground with Progressives. I also recollect saying that while I do already find much common ground with Progressives, there would be times that I would irritate you mightily. This may well be one of them—I hope not—but because @Denis Neville is quoting James Madison, I thought that I would toss out for thought another Madison quote, this one from Federalist #46 according to Wikiquotes:

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.

It appears to me that Madison believed that the existence of subordinate governments—which I interpret as the States—and their associated, locally controlled militias, formed a bulwark against the “enterprises of ambition” of the Federal government.

Might we not read “enterprises of ambition” to mean—at least in part—the growing encroachments on civil rights that we have all observed in this country, and which have been the subject of discussion in quite a few of the recent postings here? (And remember, I’m with you here; I, too, fear for the future of civil rights in this country.)

If you accept my interpretation thus far, then it seems to me that you must further conclude that Madison envisioned resistance—even to the point of armed resistance by at least state militias, and, perhaps the people --in the event of suppression of civil rights by the Federal government.

Our “state militias” are now the National Guard, which can be federalized in the blink of a Presidential eye. Does anyone doubt on whose side they would fall in the event the government chose to suppress civil rights in the extreme?

So that leaves about 250 million firearms in private hands—as of about 1999—distributed among 35%-45% of all American households (Jacobs, James B., Can Gun Control Work? Oxford University Press, 2002. pp.38-39)

Now, that’s not an inconsequential number of firearms with which to resist the “enterprises of ambition” envisioned by Madison.

Are any of you Progressives firearms owners? Have any of you considered the possibility of armed resistance in the face of suspension of civil rights and internment of alleged “enemies of the state?” Or will you all just “go gentle into that good night?”

Please note that I’m not asking this question to provoke an argument on gun control. In the space of this forum, I doubt that I could change your mind if you’re against gun ownership, and you certainly will not change mine.

It’s just that I know few Progressives well. Of the few I know, only three friends—one a gay man, another a lesbian!—are gun owners and ardent supporters of an expansively interpreted Second Amendment. Guns are anathema to the rest of them. So I’m curious to get a larger picture.

And no, I’m not a spy for Homeland Security who is seeking to entrap you.

Moreover, though I own a fair number of firearms for various purposes, I’m not trying to persuade you—or delude myself into believing with certainty—that I would behave “heroically” if “they” ever come for me, my family, my friends, or anyone else, for that matter.

None of us actually knows how we will react until the time comes—which I hope never will.

Valerie said...

I apologize for coming late to the discussion. Still in Sydney with my in-laws and have limited access to a computer. All I can say is WOW! In addition to Karen's excellent post, the commentary has been outstanding. You have all brought such interesting points, quotes and links to the discussion - thank you for the thought-provoking discussion.

I find the whole idea of drones surreal. I can imagine many Americans love the idea of flexing our military might without the potentially messy PR problems of too many dead/wounded American soldiers and the economically unpalatable cost of war when our own infrastructure is crumbling and our safety net has so many holes in it that even the middle, middle class is in danger of falling through. But Karen is right; this is why entire populations of countries hate us. I am now, only finally, getting around to reading All the Shah's Men which is the story of how the U.S overthrew a democratically elected prime minister and replaced him with a puppet leader, the Shah. Look at the blowback from something that happened 50 years ago. Americans need to understand that there are long-term consequences to our actions overseas and people who have been violated have long memories. These drone attacks are only going to provoke more violence against America and Americans.

Obama is a disaster - this really hit home with me when I listened to Jeremy Scahill on Morning Joe talking about rendition. As Jay noted, the Prez might be slightly better on domestic issues such as Supreme Court nominees, but unless Scalia and Roberts both kick the bucket at the same time, the SC is isn't redeemable. To compare Gore to Obama is a joke - Obama is a liar and a traitor to those who put their trust in him. I will wager voter turn-out will be at an all time low in 2012. Most people, including me, no longer think their vote amounts to much of anything. If it isn't stolen or corrupted by the voting machines, the person we put into office - the agent of change - will turn on us and do the exact opposite. Who would have voted for Obama had they known the truth about how he would "lead?" What I don't get is how many people, knowing how bad he is, will vote for him again.

Jay, thanks for bringing up the "none acceptable" option. If the yellow dogs who understand what is really going on in this country, don’t take that one up, then they aren’t willing to “hold Obama’s feet to the fire.” There is no excuse – we ALL need to register as Democrats and vote a message of no-confidence!

It doesn't do us any good to be aware of what is going on in our country if we aren't prepared to take even the smallest of resistant actions.

Valerie said...


I am for gun control. That doesn't mean I think responsible gun owners shouldn't be allowed to own guns. It just means that I think it should be harder to own a gun.

My favourite student from my first year of teaching in a tiny Texas town was playing with a gun his father left loaded and sitting around the house. He shot and killed his best friend. His life was essentially ruined from that moment forward and I would imagine the family of the boy who was accidentally shot was pretty much ruined as well. Why was that gun not locked up? Why was his father not held responsible for that “accident?”

I recall my friend's brothers who would go out with a case of beer, sit up in those chairs on stilts that can be bought at WalMart, would throw down deer feed and wait for the hungry deer to approach. Then, drunk and silly, they would mow down the deer with sub-machine guns. Real sporting! And incredibly dangerous! How is that allowed? I think if someone sees someone wielding a gun under the influence, it should be a jailable offence.

The only people I think are fit to own guns have no criminal record, are psychologically stable, can be trusted to keep their guns under lock and key in a gun safe, and can be trusted not to consume alcohol while using a gun. There should be courses on gun safety that people should be required to take in order to get a gun license just as people have to take classes on how to drive before they are let loose on our streets to drive a car.

And I have a REAL problem with the fact that the drug gangs in Mexico who are terrorising entire towns, are doing so with guns they have bought at gun shows in the United States. How is that allowed to happen? Clearly not everyone selling guns is ethical and wise enough to have that great responsibility.

In Germany, hunting is a “gentleman's sport.” People can own guns but they have to prove they will be responsible gun owners. People selling guns are put through a rigorous licencing process and are regularly monitored. What is so wrong with a system like that?

Zee said...

Hi, Valerie!

It's good to hear from you. I saw the New Year's fireworks display from Sidney this morning and thought of you and your family.

You raise many valid concerns about guns and gun control, some of which I share and some of which concern me . This is a topic which I am more than happy to discuss with you at length in our off-line correspondence, but I think that the subject is too vast for thorough discussion in this forum.

I hope that you don't think this is a "cop-out", but I believe that we would bore many of the participants, perhaps anger many, many more, and ultimately, test the patience of Ms. Garcia to the breaking point.

Look for an e-mail from me soon to start to address the questions and concerns you've raised, but I hope that you will promise me that you will not forget the common ground that we've already found and, I hope, will continue to find.

Well, if New Year's Eve has come and gone in Oz, it's only just starting here in New Mexico. Cheers!

Best wishes to you, Valerie, and to all Sardonicky participants, for a very Happy (and safe) New Year!

Denis Neville said...

Zee, “Are any of you Progressives firearms owners? Have any of you considered the possibility of armed resistance in the face of suspension of civil rights and internment of alleged “enemies of the state?” Or will you all just “go gentle into that good night?”

Many gun owners have strong preconceptions about progressives being anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment, and not respecting the values of gun owners.

This progressive does not own any firearms. I recognize that gun ownership is fundamental to the American way of life. I do agree with Gary Wills, who said, “Ours is a gun culture, formed on weak history and strong myths about ‘frontier’ virtue. It is the gun culture, not mere gun ownership, that plagues us. And the gun culture thrives on perverted readings of the Second Amendment.”

It doesn’t require a close reading of the Second Amendment to understand the insanity of allowing anyone to own as many guns of all types as he wants. James Madison’s original proposal concerned military matters. When James Madison excepted those with religious scruple, no Quaker was to be deprived of his hunting gun, he made clear that “bear arms” meant wage war. The subject of the amendment is how to regulate the militia in order to ensure state security, not whether AK-47s should be widely distributed to individual citizens. The Amendment states a right that “we” do possess, but we possess it, as the Amendment itself says, in a “well-regulated militia.”

As Gary Wills wrote, To Keep and Bear Arms in The New York Review of Books,

“The recent effort to find a new meaning for the Second Amendment comes from the failure of appeals to other sources as a warrant for the omnipresence of guns of all types in private hands. Easy access to all these guns is hard to justify in pragmatic terms, as a matter of social policy. Mere common law or statute may yield to common sense and specific cultural needs. That is why the gun advocates appeal, above pragmatism and common sense, to a supposed sacred right enshrined in a document Americans revere. Those advocates love to quote Sanford Levinson, who compares the admitted “social costs” of adhering to gun rights with the social costs of observing the First Amendment. We have to put up with all kinds of bad talk in the name of free talk. So we must put up with our world-record rates of homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings because, whether we like it or not, the Constitution tells us to. Well, it doesn’t.”

Shouldn’t we, like nearly every developed country, register all guns and license all gun owners and users? The logic being, since it is no different from automobile registration and driver licensing, that gun technology is arguably much more dangerous.

Anne Lavoie said...


Too often guns owners are lulled into a false sense of safety. They always have their Second Amendment remedy! Because of that, they let things slide, focused almost solely on securing that precious Second Amendment as the ultimate cure-all when times get tough. Maybe it actually was a remedy in Madison's time, but not anymore. Not by a long shot.

'Enterprises of Ambition' is a very apt designation. It's right on the money actually. We would now call it something like the Chamber of Commerce. Madison couldn't have chosen better terms. Enterprise - a complicated business endeavor such as in a conglomerate of corporate interests that insinutates itself into every facet of government. Ambition - strong desire for power, as in favorable tax policy, grants, incentives, government contracts, etc.

The EOA isn't exactly the government, it just owns and runs it! There is no need to go into that whole scenario. The Occupy movement has done an adequate job. The vast income inequality in this country is no accident. It is by design, created through favorable tax and government policy written by corporate think tanks and passed by their faithful paid off servants in Congress and the White House.

This vast wealth inequality doesn't just create problems for the poorer 99%, it gives inordinate power to the 1%. The Enterprises of Ambition are the 1%. Now that their wealth has bought the government, they can wreak all kinds of profitable havoc for themselves. Just as in the recent economic meltdown/scam, they create crises that they position themselves to Capitalize on and profit from. I refer you to 'Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' by Naomi Klein for the historical pattern and evidence of this doctrine.

Our Constitution calls for 'the common defense' but vested corporate interests have turned it into an ever-growing military Empire, more like a metastatic malignancy on the whole world. What most Americans tend to ignore is that our government is now a corporate Enterprise of Ambition. Trying to fight it with guns is suicide, and trying to shrink it will only hasten and complete the privatization process underway, ending Democracy.

What we need to do is to reverse the privatization of our government, otherwise corporations will end up owning not just our government but everything, especially after another one of their constructed crises. Nationalization of vital services could one strategy. It certainly would ensure our country's, rather than corporate, survival and not put us at risk of whoever currently owns the resources, which could be any multi-national corporation.

My advice is not to rely on some big gunfight to solve things. It is to do something now to force our government to make corporations legally obligated to serve this country and not vice versa. That was how it was intended and codified by corporate charter laws at the time of our country's founding - before corporations paid to have that changed. Tax them into submission. Enact legislation to remove the power they have over our government. We need to use our brains as weapons and reclaim Democracy.

Valerie said...


I will never lose sight of our common ground - I can promise you that! And I welcome your thoughts and points of view on any and all issues because I know that your have given them a lot of thought. I would imagine, as on so many issues, we will find common ground. And on those points we disagree, we will both be able to recognise that both points of view have merit.

I think you will find that many progressives are quite reasonable about gun ownership but maintain the laws need to be far tighter on who can own a gun and what constitutes responsible gun ownership.

Valerie said...

And I emphatically agree with Anne!

WestVillageGal said...

an excellent - and much needed - piece, Karen (and accompanying visual: 'a picture's worth . . . ').

i'd been sent the (belated) Washington Post coverage (better late than never?) and thank you for referencing it here.

@ Anne: profound (and timely: then and now) quote of Martin Niemöller,

@ Denis: likewise, the words of James Madison and D.D. Eisenhower.

with best wishes & perseverance of belief in a "new" year -

Jay - Ottawa said...

"And no, I’m not a spy for Homeland Security who is seeking to entrap you." -- Zee

That’s reassuring, but not to worry, Zee. We understand you're a moderate conservative seeker after truth extending the hand of peace and friendship across the ideological divide to moderate progressive seekers after truth who happen to gravitate around Sardonicky in great numbers. Trolls and spooks do come by now and then, but you're too new for us to reveal how we dispose of them. Usually without side arms. BTW, it’s easy to pick out the trolls: they consistently draw us off topic, draw attention to themselves, or try to put another commenter on the spot. Let’s move on.

Sometimes a good thing gets out of hand, usually when there's money to be made. Can we establish a little “common ground” at the outset and agree that guns are, if anything, big business?

I’m not persuaded that millions of gun-toters across the land serve as the last line of defense for the Republic should it come under attack from enemies from within or without. The NRA is the gun makers’ front doing good works for the business, something like a lobby, but with the whole membership turned out for the missionary work of preaching virtue and salvation by guns, while the not so incidental profits keep rolling in to corporate headquarters.

Jay - Ottawa said...

A long time ago I stopped renewing my membership to the NRA. Full disclosure: I was captain of the rifle team in college. Like you, I had some good times with nice people on the practice range and in school competitions. I don't slow my heart rate and squeeze the trigger anymore, but, hey, people who like me say I'm still a straight shooter. Awww....

There's another side to the ledger when it comes to guns, a side the NRA skips over when recounting the glories of gun ownership. A random sample from Wikipedia:

"There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000. The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths."

Oh, dear. That's a lot of blood and guts for the NRA to walk away from with clean hands. The iron rule: As guns add up, the bodies pile up. Sure, I’m advancing a "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy, as our friends in the NRA keep insisting. You decide.

The domestic havoc from guns is next to nothing when you look at the effect of the arms trade carried on year after year by the Pentagon. Nobody sells arms and ammo so fine and so much as Uncle Sam. Sales abroad, like those at home, are in support of freedom and social understanding. And profits.

Lanza del Vasto used to say that when you want to find the natural level of some service or enterprise, “Just take the profit out of it."

Wouldn’t a lot of congressional representatives and senators vote differently if the NRA (read gun manufacturers) weren’t breathing down their necks with the threat of well-funded attack campaigns?

Would the Second Amendment be interpreted differently without gun money flooding the halls of justice?

Would the argument for guns as the last line of defense against tyranny at home be laughed off the face of the earth?

Would our military be following fewer political directives to arm the rest of the world with guns made in America?

Would we need hundreds of military bases and enormous stockpiles of weapons around the world?

Back to the subject of Karen’s post, would we have placed our trust in drones if we weren’t conditioned to be so trigger-happy?

Did I mention it's all about business and profits?

Neil said...


You made a number of good points. Your view represents that of many Americans.

However from a practice standpoint, consider the confiscation of firearms in Louisiana in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Firearms were confiscated by the government from law abiding citizens in their own homes, arguably when those firearms were needed for self defense, to defend one’s family, home, and possessions from looters.

This is from Wikipedia, Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina, Confiscation of firearms:

Controversy arose over a September 8 city-wide order by New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass to local police, National Guard troops, and US Marshals to confiscate all civilian-held firearms. "No one will be able to be armed," Compass said. "Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns." Seizures were carried out without warrant, and in some cases with excessive force; one instance captured on film involved 58 year old New Orleans resident Patricia Konie. Konie stayed behind, in her well provisioned home, and had an old revolver for protection. A group of police entered the house, and when she refused to surrender her revolver, she was tackled and it was removed by force. Konie's shoulder was fractured, and she was taken into police custody for failing to surrender her firearm. Even National Guard troops, armed with assault rifles, were used for house to house searches, seizing firearms and attempting to get those remaining in the city to leave.

While the NRA and others took legal action, it was like closing the barn door after the horse ran off. Here is a video of Patricia Konie, the little old lady being tackled to the ground by a law enforcement thug.

Here is a RT video from 2010, a Russian news channel reporting on the Katrina gun confiscation

Obama’s support of the draconian NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, shows his disregard for civil rights. Blogs like Sardonicky inform readers about the latest attack on our civil rights where the MSM often fails. But civil rights abuses are commonplace in America, you just don’t read about it, until someone like Patricia Konie catches the national attention.

As for mandatory gun registration mentioned in this thread, that is opposed by many Americans because the registration list would be used by the government to confiscate private property at any time, as in Louisiana.

Credit should be given to the NRA and other groups who took legal action in the Katrina gun confiscation. However in most cases of civil rights abuse in America the ordinary citizen is defenseless, unless they can afford expensive private legal counsel. If you cannot pay to enforce your civil rights, those rights have little meaning.

Anne Lavoie said...


I have been curious lately about where NRA members stand on the NDAA. That's the one I call the National Detention and Assassination Act.

I have been eagerly awaiting your conservative comment here about that, but all I have learned is that you are a gun owner who is curious about our gun ownership and our view on guns.

You asked us to share our views on gun ownership and we did. Now that we have addressed that old topic, will you please share your take on the very new and unusual NDAA, coming from a conservative perspective?

No need to go Offline, Zee. All of the discerning minds here want to know. Thanks!

Neil said...

@Jay - Ottawa

The statistics you quoted on gun-related incidents are sobering, and should give anyone pause to consider, especially the 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 of which 12,632 were homicide deaths. I am less concerned, but not insensitive to, the suicide data (suicide being a pejorative term) since some people believe self-deliverance is a right, and can be accomplished in many alternative ways, from rope to pills.

We all know rights have responsibilities and consequences. The right of one person to smoke a cigarette can impeded the right of another to breathe clean air. The right to drink fine wine can wreck havoc on the highways when driving drunk. The right to abortion ends a life that might have been. Wikipedia reports that "According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), since 1973, roughly 50 million legal induced abortions have been performed in the United States." That is 50 million lives ended since 1973. (keep your powder dry, I am not against abortion)

Some say the American Military Empire brings unnecessary death and destruction worldwide, as well as bankrupting the country, both financially and morally. Ron Paul seems to be the only candidate talking about stopping the war machine.

Presently it appears either Dear Leader Obama or Mitt Romney will be elected president in 2012, each of whom are lawyers who will continue the American war machine. Death and destruction will continue worldwide, along with financial and moral bankruptcy at home.

Other than OWS, what are we doing to stop the American war machine? Should people of good conscious act "By any means necessary" as suggested by Brother Malcolm (quoting Sartre) to stop the death and destruction, the erosion of civil rights, our financial and moral bankruptcy? Or should we just follow orders, and the ‘rule of law’ parody?

Happy New Year everybody! Let’s make 2012 the year of TRUTH!

Zee said...


As I feared, I opened up a discussion which has so many detours and side alleys that it would be impossible to respond to every comment within this limited space. And were I to try to do so in repeated postings, Mrs. Zee would probably file for divorce, or claim in court that she had become a “computer widow” and have me declared legally dead. So let me hit a couple of high points, and then call it quits.

@Denis Neville—

You have your reading of the Second Amendment and I have mine. I respect your right to disagree with me, and if we were to have a long discussion, I would probably acknowledge that many of your arguments legitimately cast doubt on my interpretation.

But at this instant in time the Supreme Court prefers my reading of the Second Amendment. They recently decided that the Second Amendment affirms a fundamental right of private citizens to own firearms, subject to reasonable controls. Exactly how those “reasonable controls” will evolve will probably take many court reviews—and many years—to decide. This is as it should be, given that—as you acknowledge—“gun ownership is fundamental to the American way of life.”

Ultimately, I will probably find that those “reasonable controls” are somewhat onerous, and you will find them to be too lax. Again, this is as it should be.

Finally, you asked “Shouldn’t we, like nearly every developed country, register all guns and license all gun owners and users?”

Well, Neil has offered the most powerful argument against registration that I can think of: the unconscionable behavior the “authorities” in the chaotic aftermath of Katrina, wherein they illegally confiscated—without warrants and sometimes with undue force—the firearms of law-abiding citizens who needed their weapons for protection from looters, and, yes, even worse criminals.

This was “jackbooted fascist” behavior on the part of the “authorities,” and the belief that “registration leads to confiscation” has only been reinforced in the minds of firearms owners.

And have you considered the magnitude and intrusiveness of the effort that would be required to license gun owners and register their guns? Are you going to go door-to-door to identify that 35-45% of American households that have a rifle and ammunition squirreled away in a closet, and to find and register those 250 million firearms that are already in circulation? How do you plan to do this?

@Anne Lavoie—

I don’t think I suggested in my original post that we should “rely on some big gunfight to solve things,” and never once did I refer to a “Second Amendment remedy.” I thought I asked “What will you do if they come for you?” I absolutely agree with you that “We need to use our brains as weapons and reclaim Democracy.”

But much of the discussion surrounding the NDAA in this forum and others has evolved to talk of internment camps and the potential “disappearance” of suspected “troublemakers” (for want of a better word).

Even if this talk kinda reminds me of the Looney Right’s hushed talk of blue helmets, black helicopters, and concentration camps back in the nineties, I won’t say that it could never happen here. If “they” were to appear on your doorstep to disappear you and your family, would you rely solely on your brain—or the brains of others--as your sole recourse?


You raise many valid concerns about the unconscionable number of firearms deaths in this country. I would like to see these reduced too. But how did our discussion stray from civilian gun control--which I never wanted to start anyway--to include the arms trade, the Pentagon and military bases around the world?

As I said, too many detours and side alleys in this discussion

Well, I’m sure that I’m at—or close to—my 4,096 character limit. Gotta go start the new year..

Zee said...

@Anne Lavoie—

I can’t speak for all NRA members, which actually are a pretty diverse group.

For myself, I am opposed to those aspects of the NDAA that allow for the indefinite detention—without trial!—of American citizens suspected of terrorism.

Like you Progressives, I am very concerned about the future of civil rights in this country. That’s why—as I believe I said in an earlier thread—that if I’m a Life Member of the NRA, I’m also a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Hope that answers your question.


Thanks for your data on firearms deaths which segregate homicides from suicides. Like you, I am not insensitive to the number of suicides carried out by firearms. But, as you say, there will always be any number of alternative means to that same tragic end. Actual homicides are a different matter.

Anne Lavoie said...

If I was the government and wanted to know who owned guns in order to confiscate them in the event of an 'emergency', I would gain access to the NRA membership list, and probably on an ongoing basis, well in advance of any real need.

Who needs gun registration when the owners have already registered themselves?

Neil said...


According to Wikipedia, membership in the NRA is 4.3 million. The US population is approximately 307 million. A 2005 Gallup poll showed 3 in 10 Americans personally own a gun; that rate would amount to about 100 million Americans today, far more than the NRA’s membership.

So only a small percentage of gun owners are identifiable through NRA membership.

Thanks for the information about drones, that was informative.

Zee said...

@Anne Lavoie--

Yes, that small fraction of gun owners--from all walks of life--who have joined the NRA have, in fact "registered" themselves with the government as being likely to possess firearms.

Stupid us. How foolish of us to stand up for what we believe is one of our fundamental rights, regardless of whether or not we wind up on a government list.

Maybe the government will intern US first as the most dangerous potential troublemakers currently at large in society.

Anne Lavoie said...


I believe that if push came to shove, the government wouldn't be interested in everyone with firearms. Instead they would attempt to identify only those who may be leaders or activist types (and that's where an NRA list may be helpful). More than likely they would simply enlist their skills and maybe even put them on the payroll, upgrading their weapons too.

This is the same screening they've learned to do in all those foreign lands in an effort to favorably manipulate the 'battlefield' dynamics. They have it down to a science. Identify clans, influence leaders with money, detain those who are not compliant, arm the leaders, etc.

Actually, I seriously doubt if the government feels much of a threat from the millions of gun owners. All the guns in the country are no match for government weaponry and resources.

The good thing about the Occupy movement is that it has caused law enforcement to put on full display their militarized armament. Armored vehicles and body armor are adequate shields from personal firearms, plus they have a whole lot more at their disposal. Extra strength teargas, pepper spray, and all kinds of special tools, such as those that make a person feel like they are on fire, painful and deafening sound machines, blinding lights, etc. It would be very difficult to aim a gun, even if you were still on your feet and could see through tearing and burning eyes. As if your ammunition could penetrate all that armor anyway.

We need a government that respects the Rule of Law so we never get to the point of needing to defend ourselves from its abuses. We need a government that applies the law fairly to all, including Wall Street and War criminals. We need a President who will actually uphold his sworn oath to 'preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution' which is his sworn DUTY. We need to speak up over and over and never accept anything less than our Constitutionally guaranteed Rights.

Neil said...

@Anne and Zee

This report suggests China was behind Iran’s recent heist of a US drone, by hacking into its computer system to take control of the drone.

Forget firearms, take computer and programming classes, and hack to victory.

Brute force is our government’s strong suit. Why fight them on that front?

The unanswered question in these opposition scenarios, and OWS for that matter, what will follow, what will replace the current corrupt system?

The Achilles’ heel in our corrupt system is the economy. The people have the power to withhold debt payments and consumer spending and bring down the corrupt system without firing a single shot.