Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.
The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.
They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?
They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The United States government has sued credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s over the ratings it gave to mortgages just before the financial crisis:
The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor’s of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.
The government said in a civil complaint filed late Monday that S&P misled investors by stating that its ratings were objective and “uninfluenced by any conflicts of interest.” It said S&P’s desire to make money and gain market share caused S&P to ignore the risks posed by the investments between September 2004 and October 2007.
The charges mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
According to the government filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely.
S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.
It is without merit, but not for the reasons S&P thinks. See, this whole thing is hilarious, because the situation itself was created by the government. That’s right; if it wasn’t for government meddling in the credit rating market, this would never have happened:
Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.
The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.
Jason Pye has already written about this story in POLITICO about Republicans thinking of cutting military spending (thanks for ninja-ing me, boss), but I have my own thoughts about what they’re reporting on, and I’m deeply skeptical anything will change:
On a hot July night six months ago, 89 House Republicans joined more dovish Democrats to do the unusual for Washington: cut $1.1 billion from the GOP’s proposed budget for defense in 2013.
Then came Hurricane Sandy and the New Year’s Day tax bill, and as many as 157 House Republicans voted Jan. 15 to endorse a much bigger cut, taking nearly $10 billion from the Pentagon to help pay for disaster aid. It was a huge swing by any measure and one followed this week by a Monday night Senate vote in which the overwhelming majority of Republicans endorsed their own across-the-board defense cut worth tens of billions of dollars over the next nine years.
Welcome to the new “dare you, double dare you” school of deficit politics — just a taste of what’s to come March 1 when much deeper spending cuts take effect under the sequester mechanism dictated by the 2011 debt accords.
House Republicans seem determined to let the cuts take effect if only as payback to President Barack Obama for humiliating them over taxes. The White House and Senate Democrats are so far feigning indifference. And while “the boys” play tough, much could depend on two women thrust into Senate committee chairmanships this year: Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on Appropriations and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on the Budget panel.
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog—arguably one of the best blogs about politics today—have gotten a copy of Bobby Jindal’s speech to the RNC this Thursday. It looks like it will be a well-needed tongue-lasher:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.
“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.”
Jindal’s speech — and his call to “recalibrate the compass of conservatism” — is the latest shred of a growing amount of evidence that the Louisiana governor is positioning himself to not only run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but do so in direct (or close to it) opposition to his party in the nation’s capital.
In the speech, Jindal will repeatedly caution that Republicans in Washington have fallen into the “sideshow trap” of debating with Democrats over the proper size of the federal government.
As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.
Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…
…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.
Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.
Sunday, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre went on NBC’s Meet The Press to talk about gun control with David Gregory, which is a pretty hostile environment for that sort of interview. As Kevin Boyd noted, LaPierre is essentially acting like he’s drunk, following an abysmal NRA press conference last Friday that left everything to be desired. But it may be that David Gregory will be paying the price, as the Washington Post reports:
NBC News asked D.C. police for permission to use a high-capacity ammunition clip as a prop on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” show, a request District authorities said Wednesday they denied.
But host David Gregory appears to have used one anyway — and then displayed it on national television. Now D.C. police say they’re investigating whether the District’s gun laws were violated in the incident.
Much hash has been made lately over Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform. The Pledge forces anyone who signs it to not vote for tax increases, unless there is reduction in taxes elsewhere (for instance, voting to raise excise taxes but cutting income taxes, though don’t quote me on that.) It’s also been in the news because some Republicans have backed away from the pledge, not wanting to be feel like they’re in a straight jacket while engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, writes in National Review that while Grover’s push is admirable, it’s not entirely sufficient:
For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.
Watching the footage and hearing the stories of what happened in Michigan yesterday was disheartening. Here we have people who are supposedly adults—supposedly, role models to young children out there—turning to violence when then don’t get what they want politically. This is the “grown-up,” “adult” equivalent of a five-year old stamping his feet and pouting when his parents don’t give him the candy he spied on the supermarket shelf.
We’ve seen this violence before. We saw it with the longshoremen during the OWS-type protests last year. LaborUnionReport.com has a entire category of stories of union violence. Heck, even last year ABC News ran a story headlined “How Nasty Can Union Violence Get And Still Be Legal?”
Clearly, a lot. And I think one reason we sadly tolerate this is because, somehow, Americans still think unions are looking out for the poor and downtrodden worker, who is being abused by the big corporate executives. That they’re still American, still with us, we just disagree. But as these and other stories show, they’re not. Unions are not helping America.
They’re fighting a war against us.
I have a new op-ed up on the blaze, the news website of Glenn Beck. In it, I focus on policies that conservatives and libertarians can push for to help out the poor:
Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan visited the Jack Kemp Foundation and gave an amazing speech. It was a speech that appeared aimed at Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark, which many commentators felt alienated the party from the poor in America. It was a speech about his concern for the “40 percent of all children born into the lowest quintile” who “never rise above it.” It is heartening to hear a Republican say such things. For far too long conservative Republicans have avoided this issue, letting liberals beat them insensate on it. They will always win on emotions to help the poor (versus not helping), yet their poverty programs don’t help the poor; they are always traps. A true free market approach, on the other hand, will bring enormous prosperity to those at the bottom of the ladder, as the 20th century showed. Regrettably, the Republican Party hasn’t always taken a true free market approach.
Can it be done? Can Republicans articulate a strong free market message that simultaneously looks out for the poor? Absolutely. Heres five suggestions:
You didn’t think I was going to post the whole thing here, do you? I have to get people to read it on the site! But I can give you a quick list: