Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cocktails With a Twist of Logic

This is beyond schizophrenic. The same president now leading the national charge to keep disturbed people from using lethal weapons finds nothing too terribly disturbing about exempting himself from any guidelines at all. Whether there are rules about presidential homicide written down somewhere, or if they're just floating around in his head, he is not sharing his thought processes with the likes of you, the people he was hired to represent.

According to an Obama Administration "white paper" sent to Congress and leaked to NBC News last night, the president or some other unnamed high-ranking official (probably CIA nominee John Brennan) get to decide when, where and why they can kill you. They just don't want to get too specific, because your death is really none of your business. Their twisted logic is based on an amorphous free-floating imminence, not to be mistaken for its right-now-this-very-minute cousin known as imminent threat. There is hoi polloi self-defense and executive self-defense, which can mean anything that the president wants it to.

This is disturbing. The guy pleading the national case for gun control has dirty hands. The guy should probably recuse himself from the debate forthwith. The guy has no moral standing. He's under investigation by the United Nations for possible war crimes, for crying out loud.
We may not be able to prevent every massacre or random shooting. No law or set of laws can keep our children completely safe. But if there’s even one thing we can do, if there’s just one life we can save, we’ve got an obligation to try. -- Barack Obama, Minneapolis, Feb. 4, 2013.
Were the target of a lethal operation a U.S. citizen who might have rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourth Amendment, that individual's citizenship would not immunize him from a lethal operation.... we recognize that there is no private interest more weighty than a person's interest in his life. But that interest must be balanced against the United States' interest in forestalling the threat of violence to other Americans. -- Obama Administration memo to Congress, leaked Feb. 4, 2013.

So, Barack Obama meant what he said yesterday about not being able to prevent every massacre. That "balanced approach" shtick keeps rearing its ugly head, doesn't it? We must weigh the survival of impoverished old people against the equal needs of obscenely rich plutocrats. We must annihilate brown-skinned children over there, so that the affluent parents of white children over here can maintain an illusion of safety. We must honor the agendas of hate groups like the NRA by not banning outright the purchase of assault weapons, but at the same time make it a little harder for a mass murderer by reducing the size of his clips.

Although the assault weapons ban itself is widely considered DOA, it is still scheduled for a vote this Thursday -- coincidentally, on the very same day that John Brennan will be "grilled" over both his complicity on Bush-era torture and the targeted assassinations by drone before being confirmed and then advised, by bipartisan consensus, to Carry On Jeeves.

Senators can thus pretend to be against letting ordinary people possess military weapons, and then they can pretend to rail against both the secrecy of targeted killings and the targeted killings themselves. Stay tuned for a rare exciting double feature in C-Span's continuing soap opera series known as Congressional Kabuki. 


James F Traynor said...

What the hell is wrong with people? Can't they see what's going on, or do they see it at all?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Look, it’s really quite simple. There’s the Constitution, which is, well, constitutional; and then there is the extra-constitutional, which by definition has no intention of forcing our leaders to be hamstrung by provisions of a dated 18th Century Constitution.

The Constitution belongs to historians and justices who are struggling to get inside the minds of our founders. What did the founders really mean when they wrote about freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, etc.?

Job One today is about security and how to get through the 21st Century in one piece, constitutionally or extra-constitutionally while we wait for updates to the Constitution.

Forget scare talk about “tectonic shifts" in jurisprudence.

We have nothing to fear from the extra-constitutional. Extra-constitutional sanctions apply, for the most part, to foreigners or people who like to dress like foreigners or people who appear to think like foreigners. And if they live in a foreign country, or wish they did, that’s a slam dunk. Our drones can spot them from 30,000 feet.

Do you want your president hamstrung by legal niceties that may have made sense centuries ago, but leave us vulnerable today? Of course not, especially with so many foreigners and imminents slinking about our world.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Harper’s Weekly Review (digital) revels in juxtaposing disparate snippets of news from the previous week. This week they open the fun with a string of anecdotes about guns.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on gun violence since a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December. Former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, spoke in favor of new legislation. “Too many children are dying,” said Giffords. “The time is now.” While the hearing was taking place, a gunman shot three people in a Phoenix office building. The previous day, a 15-year-old majorette who performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration was shot and killed at a park in Chicago, and in Alabama, a man named Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded a bus, shot the driver, and abducted a five-year-old boy who he held hostage for seven days in a six-by-eight-foot bunker, until the FBI staged a successful operation to rescue the child. Dykes, who died during the raid, was known to patrol his yard with a flashlight and a firearm, to chase people off his property with a shovel, and to have beaten a neighbor’s dog with a lead pipe. He had been scheduled to appear in court last Wednesday to answer charges that he shot at his neighbors in a dispute over a speed bump. The Sandy Hook Elementary choir opened Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans, singing “America the Beautiful” with American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, whose mother, brother, and seven-year-old nephew were shot and killed five years ago.”

According to Rahm Emanuel: “never let a crisis go to waste.” By that standard, Obama is wasteful, at least in the domestic sphere, which may serve as some kind of anti-matter to offset his aggressive foreign policy. He lets one crisis after another go by without the action one might expect. He looks presidential at funerals; he promises action after a crisis; he just doesn’t “do” presidential. Later, he lamely advocates a “balanced approach.” His “balanced approach” is a dead end where reforms go to die.

Have no doubt Congress will pass some kind of bill on gun control. You can bet your pink AR-15 –– go ahead, google “pink AR-15” –– the Congressional bill will incorporate Obama’s “balanced approach.” Maybe the Sandy Hook Elementary chorus will be invited to sing something happy in the Oval Office as the President signs the bill into law. In a gesture of “balanced approach,” Wayne LaPierre might also be there to accept a commemorative signing pen.

Zee said...

Out of town and reading from a crummy tablet. Great post by Karen and remarks by Jay. Many issues and paradoxes to discuss. Will think about replies when I am in front of a real keyboard and can both think and type in real time.

James F Traynor said...

Is the country imploding? This is really getting weird. Between the memorandum on drones and Elizabeth Warren's letter on mortgages, as commented on by Yves Smith in Naked Capitalism, this whole thing is getting to look like Alice in Wonderland.

Outsida said...

When the President and government officials engage in propaganda campaigns, they really need to listen to their own words carefully. They might very well come back to byte them.

"They hate us for our freedom" was proclaimed by the government after 9/11 as they engaged us in various wars to allegedly secure our freedom. Now it's Americans that are saying the same thing about our government.

It's not just gun advocates either, but others like young computer geeks that are sensing their rights and freedoms are at serious risk. Except for gun rights, the sentiment has not yet become widespread or reached conscious awareness in many minds due to the corporate media keeping things under wraps, and millions of Obamabots resting comfortably from the fairy dust sprinkled on them by their Dear Leader.

It's more than a little ironic that the government rallying cry for 'Patriotism' and 'Defense of Freedom' after 9/11 seems to be actually starting to backfire on them at home. I guess soon we will start seeing a coordinated government propaganda campaign rolled out to counter that. There's nothing like a common enemy to rally and unite the Volks, inflame passions, and get us to willingly sacrifice more of our rights and freedom for security.

They're probably doing focus groups and polling right now to see whose head goes on that pike - China or Iran.

Will said...

I'd like to echo Zee's sentiments about Karen and Jay's relentlessly entertaining and informative posts. Humanity may be doomed, but I'll be damned if I'm not gonna have a good time on our rocky road to ruin.

P.S. Thanks for the tip on the pink AR-15, Jay. Now I know what I'm getting my lucky girlfriend for Valentine's Day!

Here's a nice video. I honestly can't decide who's more adorable, the shooter or the AR-15:


Outsida said...

Things are looking up, literally!

From the AP: States Propose Limiting Use of Drones

'Lawmakers in at least 11 states are looking at plans to restrict the use of drones over their skies amid concerns the unmanned aerial vehicles could be exploited to spy on Americans.'

Denis Neville said...

Reading Obama’s White Paper on drone strikes … “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination.”

It’s just another “imminent” threat to the national security to scare everyone back into line.

Orwellian political writing in the defense of the indefensible…“imminence does not require that the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons or interests will take place in the significant future"… political language consisting largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness…“lawful operations after a determination that the host nation is unwilling or unable to suppress the threat posed by the individual targeted."

So defenseless targets, including Americans, innocent men, women and children, are bombarded from the air… actions too brutal for most people to face.

James asked, “What the hell is wrong with people? Can't they see what's going on, or do they see it at all?”

“A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time not in the here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.” - Aldous Huxley

I. M. SERIOUS said...

So when do we start using the 'I' word?


James F Traynor said...

I wonder how many people are, because of sheer frustration, willfully in the 'somewhere else' in order to escape the 'here and now' of Aldous Huxley? Either consciously or not.

And how many of the 'elite' are in their own 'somewhere else'? If the hoi polloi and the elite percentages of those dwelling in their respective 'somewhere else'(s) are high it would create an ideal niche for sociopaths. An ecological, and chilling, view of the human condition.

Outsida said...

Is Obama building a personal firewall?

President Obama's continual road-tripping campaign throughout America for one cause or another (except JOBS) could actually be his attempt to build a firewall against possible future war crimes or impeachment charges. Initially I thought he just couldn't get enough adulation, but now I think there is an even more personal reason for his domestic travels.

We are coming to know through leaks only a few of the illegalities and abuses of power of this administration. Considering how everything is cloaked in secrecy and he fiercely prosecutes Whistleblowers, I think we can safely assume he has a lot more to hide that would be personally damaging to him. What if more get out? I'm sure he thinks about that - HE knows his secrets, we don't.

As we have learned from Banksters, illegal immigrants, and others who are well-connected or supported, you can get away with breaking any law if you build the right relationships. With strong emotional support from gays, Hispanics, women, and the anti-gun folks, as well as financial support from the wealthy corporate elite and the MIC, Obama's firewall becomes impenetrable. The media has already provided his Teflon coating and showcased his charm, so he is well-equipped to weather any storm.

IF an attempt was ever made to hold Obama accountable for his war crimes and impeachable offenses, the public outcry from his carefully cultivated supporters should effectively derail that process. And as long as another Democrat gets elected in 2016 to issue a pardon if needed, Obama is golden.

banality of evil said...

This column is a fair expose of Pres. Obama’s, and our government’s, hypocrisy. But the real story is contained in this line: "We must annihilate brown-skinned children over there, so that the affluent parents of white children over here can maintain an illusion of safety."

Unfortunately, it is not just the "affluent parents of white children" that tacitly condone the American Military Empire’s world-wide reign of carnage on brown-skinned children, and brown-skinned adults too. This banality of evil is mainstream. Unfortunately the majority of American people today are little different than those flag-waiving German citizens who supported the Munich Agreement in 1938 permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - MLK.

Today most Americans are silent about things that matter. A majority of Americans did not care much for MLK during his lifetime either, and too many celebrated his assassination in 1968.

It’s time to face facts, the American people are to blame for our current state of affairs.