CNS and Liberty Dot Com Serve Up Some Conservative Comedy

Flowering Dogwoods wallpaper

Flowering Dogwoods wallpaper

 

This columnist from the extreme Right site CNS should be a comedian, Karl Rove Is Not a Conservative

Now, with an assist from The New York Times, Rove is presenting himself as a conservative leader. On Sunday, the Times reported that American Crossroads, the super PAC Rove started, was beginning a new program called “The Conservative Victory Project.”

For as long as I have been reading about culture and politics the Right has tried to portray ever word from the New York Times as Marxist propaganda. Now the NYT is helping Karl Rove by covering, thus giving publicity to, Rove’s far Right organizations and plans. Karl should operate in the dark with no media coverage because that is, according to CNS, how the media in a democracy is supposed to operate.

Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes coined a more candid, if oxymoronic, description of the Bush-Rove approach to government. In a 2003 commentary in The Wall Street Journal, Barnes said Bush was “a big government conservative.” Big government conservatives, Barnes explained, “simply believe in using what would normally be seen as liberal means — activist government — for conservative ends. And they’re willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process.”

In fact, conservatives believe the proper end of all federal elected officials is to preserve the limits on government that are spelled out in our Constitution and that protect the God-given rights of individuals against an overreaching state.

Yawn. This is just the old there was nothing wrong with conservatism from 2000 to 2008 ( 6 years of which conservatives controlled all three branches of government), it was personnel problems. Change the personnel with real conservatives and you get …well people with shinier jack boots or whatever. Government has always expanded under conservative governance. Bush and a compliant conservative Congress gave us the modern surveillance state, lied us into a three trillion dollar unpaid war, lost Bin Laden and gave the pharmaceutical industry a gift called Medicare part D ( part D was not a terrible plan, but conservatives passed the spending part without passing the legislation to pay for it – also typically conservative). Most readers already know this, but for those that do not, conservative terms like “small government” are code. What they mean is that he federal government does not have the right to make sure your drinking way does not have toxic pollutants in it, cannot regulate pet food even if poorly regulated food poisons the family pet. It is code for paying workers less than a living wage because that is apparently what God intended, while the elite buy elevators for their car collection. They belive dismantling public education and forcing home schooling on everyone will bring back the glory days of 1850. Like Rand Paul they belive big govmint overeach is when we have laws that include everyone in the common economy, including people of color.
CNS also states a sundry statistics that are made up out of thin hot air. One example, he says standardized test scores are down, they are not. Public schools as a whole are doing as well if not better than private schools.

The comedy doesn’t stop there, Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Obama Death Squads Targeting Gun Rights Activists

What do you get when you combine the president’s ability to secretly kill American citizens and the recent push to restrict gun access? One of the most bizarre anti-Obama conspiracy theories ever—and it takes a lot to win that prize.

Various tea party activists, libertarian websites and other conspiracy-minded Obama haters are claiming that Russian security forces have discovered that Obama is about to unleash “death squads” across America to assassinate defenders of the Second Amendment. According to Liberty.com, one of the sites perpetuating this latest story, Russian intelligence has outlined the whole nefarious plot in a memo for President Vladimir Putin, detailing the Obama’s administration’s dispatch of “VIPER teams…which is the acronym for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Team, a programme run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and whose agents terrify millions of Americans with Nazi-like Gestapo tactics on a daily basis at airports and who report to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

I’ve read that the most convincing lies are the ones with a lot of detail. Liberty.com, an oxymoron, has crested a virtual conservative-libertarian graphic novel of bizarre details.

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Great East River Suspension Bridge 1885 – The Drone Strikes Merry Go Round

  Grand birds eye view of the Great East River Suspension Bridge. Connecting the cities of New York & Brooklyn showing also the splendid panorama of the bay and part of New York.

  Grand birds eye view of the Great East River Suspension Bridge. “Connecting the cities of New York & Brooklyn showing also the splendid panorama of the bay and part of New York.” Currier & Ives.

 

Where to start with the current wave of controversy over when, who and where the President ( current or in the future) can use drone strikes to kill enemy combatants, including Americans suspected of being enemy combatants. This somewhat breathless report from Michael Isikoff lays out most of the details, Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The memo is news, but the issue has been the same since 2009. While I generally side with Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU on civil liberty issues, I thought they jumped the shark on Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. That is not to say they do not bring up some important legal/constitutional issues – which Scott Lemieux gets into, License to Kill..

Much of the coverage of the memo, including Isikoff’s story, focuses on the justifications offered by the Obama administration for killing American citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan (two alleged Al Qaeda operatives killed by a 2011 airstrike in Yemen.) In some respects, this focus is misplaced. If military action is truly justified, then it can be exercised against American citizens (an American fighting for the Nazis on the battlefield would not have been entitled to due process.) Conversely, if military action is not justified, extrajudicial killings of non-Americans should hardly be less disturbing than the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. The crucial question is whether the safeguards that determine when military action is justified are adequate.

If some Americans fought on the side of the Nazis during WW II ( it does seem there were a few and they were killed) they would have been considered fair targets. There was a German American Bund, but they were more domestic thugs than enemy combatants. We do know that many of the French were allies (Free French), but the Vichy Regime sided with the Nazis so they were fair game in enemy combat. Though at the time the only equivalent to using drones would have been carpet bombing, which was much more indiscriminate in killing civilians than the current use of drones. And certainly the use of atomic weapons against the Imperialist Japanese was far less discriminant than drones. So the use of such tactics has been well established for use against declared enemies. al-Qaida suspects abroad would fall under that heading. Kevin Drum at Motherjones, who is certainly not known as a war monger, read the Prospect piece and wrote,

The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve come to agree with this position: If we’re at war, and if targeted killings of enemy combatants are legal, then U.S. citizenship is irrelevant. If you’ve joined up with enemy forces, you’re fair game. Conversely, if the justification in the memo is inadequate, that means the justification for targeted killings in general is inadequate. Either the entire program is justified, or none of it is.

But….even if this makes sense, I’m not sure it feels right. Comments?

Call this a bridge if you will. What the executive branch is doing is probably legal in light of past precedents. That said many of us would like the legal boundaries to be less vague. I’ll refer to the lawyers at Balkinization, Legal Justification for Drone Attacks on Citizens

The White Paper says that a citizen is eligible for death-by-drone when “an informed, high-level, official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” In my opinion, this threshold is too low. First, who counts as a high-level official? The CIA Director? The Ambassador to Pakistan? An analyst at Langley? This is not clear at all. Second, suppose that the majority view in the intelligence community is that someone does not pose an imminent threat. The standard for death, I gather, is met so long as ONE informed, high-level person thinks that a suspect poses an imminent threat. I submit that the President can always find one “senior-enough” person in his Administration with that view, so in reality the DOJ standard just gives the White House carte blanche.

Personally, I would prefer that Congress create a statutory regime for such decisions that would require the National Security Council to sign off on each of these citizen attacks before the President can proceed. But until then, the President is, I think, acting within his constitutional authority to conduct such attacks.

As though he read my mind. Until Congress spells out some hard and fast rules, certainly including who can give the green light to killing an American, the president seems to be acting within his legal boundaries. It please me to no end to see Congress act as soon as possible. Though that is unlikely to happen. Because recent history tells us that if conservative presidents are comfortable with torture and finding flimsy legal reasoning to break torture statues, there is no reason to believe that Republicans would not now be supporting a McCain or Romney ordering drone strikes and accusing anyone who even mildly disagreed as being a traitor. So Republicans might see some political gain now in using drone strikes as a gudgeon, but it all rings like typically hollow posturing from the Right.