From Ann Althouse.
NB: it's actually a review of the "op-ed" promoting the book, but it's still pretty much the most withering book review I think I've ever read.
Really can't believe this movie actually got made. My teenaged record collection inspired fantasy world come to life. Looks so good:
Glenn Greenwald analyzes this fascinatingly constructed NYT article on the alleged process by which Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and killed by a drone strike in September, 2011, and concludes that the article is little more than a narrowly tailored news-ified apologia written by administration apparacthiks, obediently put into New York Times format, salted with objectivesque, newsy sounding bits, and presented as "news." The ludicrous image presented of CIA bosses wanting to kill al-Awlaki but reluctantly holding back, saying "shucks, his preaching is protected by the First Amendment, guys. Much as we want to get him, our hands are tied. Unless we can catch him operationalizing, he's got us over a barrel" made me snort audibly when I read it over the weekend. And the idea that al-Awlaki's presence in the target zone of the first, unsuccessful attack was a mere coincidence (because the timing just didn't happen to work out with regard to the post hoc justification offered by the Times) is similarly preposterous.
Ann Althouse, noting the administration's slippery definition of "engaged in combat," seems to have come to a similar conclusion, expressed obliquely in this very interesting set of possible orders of operation for the targeted killings, presented as a multiple-choice quiz:
In what order do they make these decisions? Consider these 4 permutations.A:
1. They want to kill X.
2. They arrive at the decision that X is an enemy combatant.
3. They kill X.
1. They want to kill X.
2. They kill X.
3. They arrive at the decision that X is an enemy combatant.
1. They arrive at the decision that X is a enemy combatant.
2. They want to kill X.
3. They kill X.
1. They kill X.
2. They want to have wanted to kill X.
3. They arrive at the decision that X is a enemy combatant.
Of course, all four of these orders of operation are available to be employed at any time, including D. In fact, there's also an E: "they kill X, never mind why" and an F: "there's no way of determining if anyone was killed or why, so I don't know what to tell you." With no judicial review or outside oversight, it's more or less an "anything goes" standard.
One of Rand Paul's most compelling challenges to his Congressional peers is to say, basically, "we shouldn't be asking what the rules are, we should be writing the rules." And he's right, of course. I imagine that the result of this rule-writing would be something like C., subject to judicial review, possibly with a ban on due process-less executions of American citizens on US soil. Even with this there would be serious moral and practical objections to the targeted killing program, here and abroad, but it would be considerably more than what we've currently got, which is not too far off from an "anything goes, just trust us" standard. Of course to imagine that the Congress would do that, or that the executive would submit itself to such oversight, or that the courts would require it to, is an outlandish indulgence in pure fantasy. That's crazy, and sad.
Careful out there, Denver.
This Florida bill requiring a search warrant for police use of surveillance drones has a gaping hole in it, to wit, an exception for "imminent danger to a life or serious danger to a property."
In a world where words mean what they say, that might be good enough, but these days, there's a lot of wiggle room in the word "imminent." The White House, in its own generous interpretation, has essentially redefined it as "not necessarily all that imminent," and there's no reason to assume Florida police will conduct themselves differently. And courts, ever deferential to executive conduct, will mostly likely back them up.
But never mind, anyway: the bill's committee is working with the Police Chiefs to eliminate the word "imminent" entirely.
"[Officers] don’t ever want to be in a situation where they’re more concerned about getting sued when they would prefer to be searching for a missing person, responding to a natural disaster, etc.” the Florida Police Chief's organization spokesman says. I guess the devil is in the "etc." there. And I bet they don't ever want to be in that situation. They never are, and probably never will be.
It seems like a pretty good idea to me, nevertheless.
Predictions are hard, especially about the future, but here's a safe bet: we're going to be up to our eyeballs in warrantless surveillance that no court will ever see as Fourth Amendment searches, though they obviously are. The world gets more and more Phildickian with each passing day.
Meanwhile, the readers of Mother Jones can't seem to find one good thing to say about Rand Paul's challenge to executive over-reach or the "lunatics and idiots" who are concerned about it. Pretty depressing. But I learned a new word: fauxlibuster.
Back on the face thing, I had this comment to the comments:
I have an inchoate thought that I'm not sure I'll express well enough. There are all sorts of valid criticisms of various positions and views of Rand Paul I'm sure. And if I had said, he's the savior, we must praise him without reservation, I can see how raising those might be relevant. But as far as his critique of the expansion of executive power and the threat to due process and all that, saying "yeah but he sucks on abortion" isn't any kind of criticism: it's a derailment. It may be true, but what's the point of raising it, exactly?
I don't think this argument, per se, has been made by anyone here (though I have sure seen it out "in the world" - Democrat partisans sure didn't cover themselves with glory on the internets during this thing and in its aftermath.) Still, I believe there's a slight hint, when this type of thing is brought up, that raising it somehow diminishes, or tarnishes -- that might be a better word -- tarnishes the relevant point. I wouldn't put too much stock in what this guy says about warrantless wiretapping or secret tribunals, he's against raising the minimum wage, and I hear he's,against abortion too. Seems to me that tendency, understandable though it may be, is a pretty awful one when it comes to important matters like this, and it is one reason why it can be so fruitless to try to discuss ideas on their merits in our current, largely mindless, hyper-partisan political culture.
The part that I didn't express well was the reason for saying it (professional writer here, folks) which is that this tendency, the inclination never to offer any agreement or discussion of the issue at hand without such irrelevant disclaimers,is responsible for a subtle shift in tone and emphasis that may sound completely reasonable immediately but in fact sets the stage for a general mode of discussion where the derailment of the discussion into partisan irrelevancies looms larger than the actual issue at hand. And that is the case even when the person commenting registers support or at least genuine engagement with the real issue. The matter of, say, the alarming expansion of executive power, is buried in an avalanche of conformist disclaimers.
Here's an illustrative parody:
"Notwithstanding the fact that Rand Paul is a dangerous, insane, psychopath whose appalling membership in a culture alien to ours should not be tolerated, I concede he may have a point on this particular matter, though I'd like to reiterate for the record that this in no way should be taken to imply any real divergence from the cultural ideology I have sworn to uphold and with which I promise I am in complete conformity otherwise…"
Or for an illustration drawn from life, check out this bit of Lawrence O'Donnell's show on MSNBC (via Matt Welch), where the tag team covers the bases (O'Donnell -- somewhat hilariously allied with McCain and Lindsey Graham -- presenting the swarm of hyperbolic denunciations and disclaimers, while E.J. Dionne and Ryan Grim present the voice-of-reason concession:
See, it's not like anything the voice-of-reason guys are saying is wrong. It's just that, in context, the matter at hand all but disappears. The real takeaway is, wow "these [Rand Paul] people" are psychos, whatever they may be saying.
This is, no doubt, the MSNBC objective. But, it shouldn't be our objective. And I guess the conceit of this post is that we all have a little Lawrence O'Donnell in our head, as well as an EJ Dionne and a Ryan Grim, and that we shouldn't let Lawrence O'Donnell drown everyone out with irrelevancies. I do believe, though, that that is the way it will play out in our nice blue world. It's human nature, after all.
(And let me add, though I haven't watched MSNBC, or any cable news at all over the last couple of years, since I cancelled my cable, the charge that this network is in effect something like "state media" seems to be borne out clearly here.)
"I admire libertarians, but I think Rand Paul's filibuster in many ways is very much what libertarians do, they make these very symbolic gestures, standing for some extreme position."-- John Yoo
I said this about it on the twitface:
Everyone in my demographic (i.e. most people on here, I imagine) is culture-bound to despise and deride Rand Paul as a matter of identity, but I found yesterday inspiring, and, regardless of his faults, whatever they may be, I'm glad that there is at least one person in the government with those views on the appropriate limits of executive power.Interesting comments there if you care to check them out.
The artist is Billy Capgun and the text says "hey dude it'll be okay."
Sequester for President.
Ordinary Injustice results when a community of legal professionals becomes so accustomed to a pattern of lapses that they can no longer see their role in them. There are times when an alarming miscarriage of justice does come to light, and exposes the complacency within the system, but in such instances the public often blames a single player, be it a judge, a prosecutor, or a defense attorney.
While it is convenient to isolate misconduct, targeting an individual only obscures what is truly going on from the scrutiny change requires. The system involves too many players to hold only one accountable for the routine injustice happening in courtrooms across America.--Amy Bach, Ordinary Injustice, via Scott H. Greenfield.
Drawn from life much more literally than I'd realized:
In the late 1920s, a peculiar confluence of fashion and fascism came together in England. The Men's Dress Reform Party, an outgrowth of the eugenics movement, agitated for men to dress in more beautiful, flowing clothing reminiscent of what they wore during the Elizabethan era. Mostly, this seemed to mean wearing shorts and kilts.
When they formed in 1929, the group noted:Most members wish for shorts; a few for the kilt; nearly all hate trousers. Some plead for less heavy materials and less padding; others for brighter colours; but the villain of the piece is the collar-stud. A wail has gone up throughout the land; man is clutching at his throat and crying.
(via Andrew Sullivan.)
I had no idea it ended like this:
After soaring, Sherman’s career un-soared, starting down hill in 1965. But those first two or three years, Allan Sherman later got summed up by Joe Smith as “he was The Moment. Even more than Peter, Paul & Mary, at that time, Allan Sherman was The Moment. You’re The Moment for a very short time; then you’re not The Moment anymore.”
By 1966, Warners dropped Sherman from its artist roster. Poor sales did it. 1966 also revealed real downs in Sherman’s own behavior. He ate and drank heavily. His Broadway musical failed. He tried to sing “well.” His wife sued for divorce and child custody. As Lou Busch recalled, “If ever I saw success ruin a guy, it was Allan. He blew the wife, the kids, and eventually, the money, too. He got difficult.”
Sherman began living on unemployment benefits again, staying in the Motion Picture Home in Calabasas, California. Feeling the hurt, Joe Smith in 1973 offered Sherman $5000 in advance for an album of golf routines.76 Saul Cohens in the country club,
And a hundred and ten nice men named Levine!
And there’s more than a thousand Finks
Who parade around the links –
It’s a sight that really must be seen!
On November 20, 1973, WBR engineer Rudy Hill got a call. Sherman wanted a copy of what he’d recorded so far. Rudy took a copy up to Allen’s house in West L.A.
There, as Sherman began to eat some cabbage soup, he suffered a massive heart attack, caved to the floor, his head hitting with a clunk. Rudy Hill, alone with him, called the doctor. Hill tried giving Sherman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, till Sherman regurgitated in Hill’s mouth. Paramedics came and began pumping Sherman’s heart. Twenty minutes. Then one of them said, “Let him go.”
“It was so cold,” Hill remembered. “I’d never seen anything so cold. I felt that I was in this other world. But there he was, that fat, obese man who’d made so many people happy, lying there on a cold floor.”
Allan Sherman died in West Hollywood in November, 1973, at age 49.