Friday, March 15, 2013

Of Guns, Drones and Books ... and Looking Ahead to 2014


In an angry exchange, Ted Cruz tried to "school" Dianne Feinstein on the Constitution, equating the proposed ban on assault rifles to banning books.  It seems that Little Ted doesn't know that books are still being banned in school districts and state-supported libraries all over the country.  Here are lists of books that have been "challenged" in recent years, with To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men still being kept out of some libraries.  But, it seems the Tea Party enjoys these rhetorical arguments, even when Ted gets called out on his absurd comments.

This was also the case with Ron Johnson, who offered a whole new spin on how Social Security is funded in a recent segment of This Week with George Stephanopoulos.  Paul Krugman took Johnson to task over his factual errors.  This led to a fiery exchange with George Will stepping in to point out that you can't reach any kind of budget deal in Congress if you can't agree on basic facts.  What made this little episode particularly appalling is that the Republican Congressman sits on the House Budget Committee.

Last but not least, Rand Paul launched a 13-hour filibuster on the use of drones, which brought the nomination of John Brennan as head of the CIA to a halt.  The attack was directed more at Obama than it was Brennan, and seems to have vaulted the Kentucky senator to front-runner status in the early straw polling for the Republican nominee for President.  Nothing like channeling Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to endear one to voters.

More and more it becomes apparent that Republicans are content to live in their alternative reality, creating their own narratives to further their arguments, no matter how weak they are.  It seems the Democrats are finally going to make a concerted effort to go after these Teabaggers in the 2014 midterms.  Obviously, there is no moving forward in Congress until the Democrats regain the House, and win a "filibuster-proof" Senate.  A tall order in these divided times.

15 comments:

  1. I give Rand Paul credit for his filibuster. I may not agree with him on most of anything, but the drone issue needs to be aired and debated. Yeah, he used a ridiculous example -- Jane Fonda in a cafe! -- but it still needs to be in front of the American people.

    Plus, I admire that he actually filibustered, rather than put a secret hold like most of his colleagues. If you disagree with something, let America know why. And if you actually talk, there is an eventual end in sight.

    As for Cruz, he wants everyone to have their own grenade launchers and missiles. Why not? This is America.

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  2. I like the idea of George Will being the voice of reason. Who knew?

    But there are lots of examples of republicans on committees that make no sense ... the guy who thinks evolution is a plot of the devil directing science in this country, or Michelle Bachman overseeing intelligence. What a country!

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  3. I'm not a big fan of drones either, but this has been going on since the Vietnam War, and all of the sudden it's a "problem." I suppose a lot of persons expected Obama to stop this practice, but these UAV's have proven to be a pretty effective tool for the military over the years, and I don't expect them to discard them anytime soon.

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  4. But there should be a transparent policy overseeing them. It shouldn't be one or two men in the white house making the decisions of whom to kill. We may trust a Barack Obama with that power -- maybe -- but I sure wouldn't trust another Dick Cheney or Ronald Reagan.

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    1. It's not as if they are killing people indiscriminately. Or, is that what you are suggesting is going on?

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  5. The interesting part is that this never seemed to bother Republicans in the past, but all of the sudden they are starting to make a big stink out of it. I wonder why that is?

    If there were a serious discussion on the use of drones, apart from Brennan's confirmation hearings, I would be all for it. But, all I see is grandstanding on the part of Rand Paul hoping to draw attention to himself, not the use of drones. He sees this as a potential issue on the campaign trail.

    This guy is trying to project himself as independent minded, apart from mainstream Republicans, but he is in the same old quasi-Libertarian mold as neo-conservatives of the past.

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  6. Not suggesting that they are being used indiscriminately but they are routinely killing civilians as in any war.

    I'm not defending Paul, by the way. I think he's as nutty as they get on most issues. I just think he's right to question this particular issue since no one seems in the least bit concerned about the unquestioned use of drones.

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  7. Actually quite a few persons seem concerned about drones,

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/obama-administration-drones_n_2860701.html

    Jimmy Carter lambasted Obama on the use of drones,

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/jimmy-carter-attacks-barack-obama-over-assassinations-and-drone-attacks-7888925.html

    and there are many others. It is a current hot button issue that Rand obviously wanted to exploit for his own political gain, and it seems to have worked,

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/rand-paul-rides-filibuster-popularity-cpac-18731338

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  8. As I said before, Scarborough is all over the place, but on Cruz he is spot on,

    http://news.yahoo.com/joe-scarborough-ted-cruz-willfully-ignorant-u-constitution-172035963.html

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  9. Drones are a necessary evil in the war on terror and I think the less people that know about them the better.If their use isn't top secret it defeats their purpose.Grandstanding ass clowns like Rand Paul only enforce this.

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    1. I agree. In my view drones are an effective means of dealing with a ubiquitous enemy.

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  10. I'd much rather an unmanned aircraft "invade" a country rather than an army of men, but with the army there are rules -- as bizarre as having rules of war are. There are no rules as far as I can tell with the drones. They find a target and go for it while they can, even some goofy American citizen.

    Granted he had declared war on America, and I'm sure posed some threat to the US, but we do have laws in this country to protect people, even the goofiest or most dangerous. I'd like to see some form of law or review applied to drones as with any other method of war.

    Imagine going after Chavez or Castro with one. Why not? Without some sort of external legal check, the way it is now, a President could use them anywhere, and we've had presidents capable of agreeing with their use.

    I heard a special on Pakistan on the radio the other day -- drones are creating another reason "they hate us." I am with the libertarians, including both Pauls, on that one.

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  11. One image struck me from that radio special -- the image of all the men walking around with military rifles, which makes them assumed targets. Sort of like the world the gun nuts would like to create here.

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  12. He acknowledges your points but also makes mine:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/04/what-rules-should-govern-us-drone-attacks/

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    1. "even when there is an armed conflict, the laws of war—for example, the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions—allow targeting only combatants."

      This, is seems to me, is a classic example of why and how adherence to the Geneva Conventions can be almost meaningless in a fire fight.

      "In addition, being an armed man in a war zone—another apparent attribute justifying a “signature” strike—is not enough to make someone a combatant in societies where men routinely bear arms. In cases of doubt, the laws of war—for example, Article 50(1) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions—require presuming that people are not combatants."

      Such a presumption flies in the face of reality.

      "Any program that kills on the basis of secret intelligence risks abuse."

      To which I would only add, any program that seeks to do anything risks abuse. Is it worse when human lives are at stake? Of course it is.

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