Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Obama's Hot Streak

The Never-Ceasing Nature of Wonders
©2013  Ross Williams

I am often told that I only criticize the idiot left, that I never criticize the right.

This is patently false, and I have the writings to prove it.  I must often resort to citing myself, at which point I’m usually told that the particular criticism of the right doesn’t count because I don’t litter my criticism with the same adjectives I use when I criticize the idiot left.

Yes, I don’t use the same adjectives ...like idiot.

The reason for that is because it doesn’t often apply.  There are many other uncomplimentary adjectives to describe the right – and I use them – which have the benefit of being true in the same way that idiot is appropriate to the left.  Part of the reason that idiot lefties don’t comprehend this is because they’re ... wait for it ...

It all boils down to the Law of Outward Self-Actualization: If you don’t want to be called [fill in the term] then don’t act/sound/talk like [same term].  Couldn’t be simpler.  ...which makes it ironic that lefties can’t figure it out, since they’re so simple to begin with.

But this isn’t about the idiot left; it’s about the pouty, pouty right.

Obama was – and it does pain me to type it – re-elected, and his Cabinet is in full turn-over mode.  This is normal.  It doesn’t mean anything.  Hillary, who knew more about foreign policy than the rest of Obama’s staff combined, yet less than any random potted philodendron in the Oval Office, has already been replaced as Secretary of State by the dimwitted John Kerry, who knows less about foreign policy than Hillary, yet still more than the rest of Obama’s staff combined.

Obama’s choice for Secretary of ... something, Defense maybe ... which requires he understand that Israel is our only real ally in the Middle East, refuses to understand that Israel is our only real ally in the Middle East.  Sadly, Hagel will probably be confirmed thus adding negative foreign policy knowledge to the sum of the rest of Obama’s combined staff.  Kerry will look absolutely brilliant by comparison.

And Obama’s selection for CIA Director is a career CIA wonk instrumental in both the “enhanced interrogation” methods used by the CIA in our War Against Terrorism as well as the use of drones to selectively target terrorist leaders.  Obama reportedly wanted this guy to lead his CIA in ’09 when Barry initially crossed the Rubicon, but decided against it as the memories of idiot lefties taking to the streets to hang Bush in effigy was far too fresh in everyone’s mind; Bush was pilloried for having used enhanced interrogation and conducting war by live-action video game in the first place.

But among the liberals, since they have the attention span of a gnat, all is forgotten four years later.  Liberals are no longer concerned about “torture”, nor do they remember the intricate and detailed criticisms they tossed at Bush over his use of drones to conduct war by remote control.

Instead, it is the conservative ninnies who clearly remember those pious, tepid, asinine arguments.  Only the pouty, pouty right seems to have forgotten that they once deplored those brainless claims as the intellectually vacant fart gas they are; conservatives are making those vapid arguments as their own.  And are they ...? Yes! The conservatives’ chins are quivering in misty-eyed righteousness over the issue, just like the liberals were doing under Bush!  How precious.

I had a conversation with an idiot liberal during the Bush Years, about this general subject ...all discussions of Bush seemed to revolve around this general subject.  He had accused me of being a Bush supporter.  I happily conceded that I supported Bush when Bush was right, yes.  On this general subject it was a frequent thing, as Bush tended to listen to those around him who knew what they were doing.

I then told him that if Bush were to say the sky is blue and 2+2=4, he – as a Bush critic – would argue that the sky was pink and 2+2=5 ... out of principle.  He happily conceded that yes he would.  I informed him that any “principle” which allows, indeed justifies, someone adopting a knowingly wrong position out of political spite is not a principle at all, let alone a principle worth having.  It is knee-jerk contradiction which ends up being a pack of lies when the thing being contradicted actually has merit.  Deliberate dishonesty is not an admirable trait.  You don’t need to like someone to acknowledge when they are correct.

Once again, we’ve come full circle.  Only this is a circle of jerks willing to give the wrong answer just because someone they don’t like – in this case Obama – has stumbled across the right answer.  We have collectively learned nothing out of our past political sanctimony.

The Democrats are now in the position of pushing for what they once detested, and the Republicans are deploring that which they once paraded.

Me?  My answers haven’t changed.  Because reality hasn’t changed.  The issue of torture is today what it was 8, 10 years ago: it’s NOT an issue.  And here’s why:

International law prohibits torture, but it does not define it.  There is no internationally enforceable definition of torture – and it is done this way deliberately.  You cannot force nations to abide by your rules without the use of force, or through some sort of treaty which defines the term.  There has been no such treaty, and the use of force is considered rude.  So international law leaves it up to each nation to define for itself what torture consists of.  And – importantly – NOT the civil law definition of torture.

International law is also very clear on this point: when it comes to war and those who are captured during it, the capturing nation is prohibited from using its civil laws regarding the captive, but is required to use its military laws.  International law requires each nation to define “torture” in its military laws, and then follow their own military laws in their conduct of the armed conflict.

The US military laws in effect at the time considered none of the “enhanced interrogation” to be torture.  Ergo, the US did not torture anyone.  The US handed over several individual captives to other nations – which also did not torture them, despite those other nations having different definitions of torture.

We have changed our definition of military torture since Obama came into office, a few times actually.  We’ve played ping-pong with our definition of torture in the last 4-plus years, and we still don’t torture anyone.

Republicans weeping about those big, meany Democrats and their insatiable war machine built around torturing innocents, apart from being a very bad case of role-reversing insipidity, is simply false.  It’s just as false today as it was during Bush.

Oh, but the Obama administration talks about torturing people, and the Republican fear, just as it was the Democrats’, is that first comes talk, then comes act.  And, yes, that is possible, but not likely.  Torture is good for getting someone to confess to kidnapping the Lindbergh Baby and other pre-defined specifics, but for divulging actual information it’s really rather lousy.  You can’t consistently get enemy soldiers to spill battle plans with torture; however, the threat of torture works very well, especially if you can make a convincing argument that someone screaming in the next room was uncooperative himself.

Can we please stop wetting our panties about this now?  Listening to ignorant ideologues yammer and prattle and babble upon a subject they don’t know is, well, torture.

Drone warfare, though, is a different matter.  There are many valid arguments to be made against the practice, but no one from either party has made them yet; the Democrats got the closest to a valid argument late in the Bush era, but since they know so little about foreign policy and specifically about the tentacle of foreign policy called War, they just couldn’t push it up over the hump.  The Republicans are currently gagging up the vacuous rationale used by the ACLU in so many of their brainless lawsuits.  Those arguments were disingenuously unappetizing in the first place, and rerunning them now after festering in a stew of twaddled bile is absolutely repulsive.

For the record, among the valid arguments to be made against waging war by hand-held remote is that the nature of war is wanton destruction; it breaks things and kills people.  When one is separated from that reality he very quickly forgets that reality.  When one forgets reality he tends to deny that reality.  When one denies reality he tends to think, and thereupon do, unrealistic things.  Witness liberals and Obamacare ...

Waging war on others carries consequences, and among those consequences is, when given the opportunity, those others are very likely to wage war in return.  War is breaking things and killing people – which we can do using drones without personal involvement and thus without a second thought.  When it is our things broken and our people killed we suddenly become involved, and we believe it’s an unfair sneak attack.  No, actually, it isn’t.  It’s a predictable consequence of us keeping our hands – and our consciences – artificially clean.

But that isn’t the argument made by Democrats during Bush – they simply took it as another in a long line of opportunities to dig out the term “chicken hawk”.  It also isn’t the argument being made by Republicans, who are resurrecting the old ACLU arguments made to give detainees from the Afghanistan War held in Gitmo their Constitutional rights.

Here’s the thing: they don’t have Constitutional rights.  They didn’t under Bush when the ACLU argued they did in their strange contortions of applicable law and the Bush Justice Department ineptly quibbled about it, and they don’t now under Obama when the retired Bush mouthpieces changed their minds on the subject – because the wrong guy is President.

The only thing the US Constitution says about war is that the President gets to wage it, and Congress gets to declare it.  Congress gave the Executive branch the Congressional power to make military law after WWII, leaving Congress only with the power to defund wars they don’t agree with.

The conduct of a nation AT war is not governed by that nation’s laws, but by International Law.  In international law, a person in a war zone who participates in actions of that war is called a Combatant.  Period.  Combatants are subject to be killed by their enemy.  Period.

Whether they are killed by an enemy holding a sword or by an enemy holding a joystick is irrelevant.  Whether the enemy is a legal citizen of the nation killing him is also irrelevant.  Such a citizen may be considered a traitor, but until capture he is still considered a Combatant and is therefore subject to being killed in armed conflict under the international law rules of war.  Period.

The right is currently making much of the use of drones to kill various members of the al-Awlaki family, a group of naturalized US citizens who, long ago, left the US to wage Jihad against the US with whatever band of misfit thugs they could find to help them.  Until recently they were in Yemen.  They are no longer in Yemen; they are currently in bits, because some Play Station alum who graduated to the Air Force’s drone brigade picked them off one by one.

The right, right up until very early ’09, argued that the al-Awlaki clan were legitimate military targets, and drones were an appropriate weapon if nothing else would work.  Today they are arguing that, since they were successfully targeted – by drones – by the Obama-led US military in ‘11 – it was instead a denial of the al-Awlakis’ Constitutional rights to Life, Liberty, Due Process, and a grab-bag of whatever else sounds good.

Anwar al-Awlaki was a one-star general in a seat-of-the-pants war against US hegemony; his 16 year old son, who was born in New Mexico and is the only native US citizen among them, was a second lieutenant.  The American teenager from Colorado who was killed with the son was either an innocent bystander or a notso innocent fellow Combatant.  If an innocent bystander ... well, that’s war.  But since you don’t go to Yemen for the water, its night life, or the girls, the chances that he was innocently there on a vacation are microscopic.

The argument that we are not at war with Yemen thus meaning we cannot use military force IN Yemen is massively stupid.  The USSC has ruled dozens of times starting with Thomas Jefferson’s undeclared wars against the Barbary Pirates that the President can wage whatever war he wants, where he wants, against foreign forces without Congressional approval; if Congress doesn’t approve, they can cut the money.  The war will die from lack of funds.

It was this way in ’11 when Obama signed us up for Libya; it was this way in ’03 when Bush signed us up for Iraq; it was this way in ’99 when Clinton signed us up for Serbia, and ’95 for Bosnia; ’90 when the Other Bush signed us up for Iraq, and ’89 for Panama; et cetera all the way back to those shores of Tripoli.  Using the Constitution to ague a proven non-constitutional point is not only dishonest, but it should be beneath the dignity of someone who was a federal judge – as this particularly dishonest Bush mouthpiece is.

The Constitution applies – and I can’t think how many times I’ve had to say this – only to Americans ... only in the United States ... and does not directly pertain to war, and especially not to our conduct during war.

It costs nothing to acknowledge when your political polar opposite gets the right answer.  Yes, conservative Republicans, Obama’s right about this.

Yeah, surprised me too.  Not many of them can hold a candle to that philodendron in the corner.


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