Why There Is No “Liberal Movement”

Wanna know what’s wrong with the left in this country? This:

george w. obamaThat was from yesterday. Here’s today’s HuffPo header:

george w. obama

Some liberals and progressives, now joining libertarians in the wacky wing of the Republican Party, are aghast that the government—all three branches being involved—is snooping around the Internet looking for terrorists. What did people think was happening since the country—Democrats as well as Republicans, liberals as well as conservatives—demanded that 9/11 never happen again?

And the right wing crazies, those like Ann Coulter, have a slightly more nuanced take on all this:

Coulter Blasts Obama For NSA Snooping: Cares More About ‘Harassing Americans’ Than Fighting Terrorism

The un-delightful Ms. Coulter, as reported by Mediaite, sees things through a pair of Obama-hating glasses:

Ann Coulter did not object to the news about NSA phone snooping on principle, but does have a problem with it under this particular president. She told Sean Hannity tonight that under an “honorable administration,” the government should be able to collect phone records, but said that President Obama, with all the other scandals that have come out, has proven to be untrustworthy and he cares more about “harassing Americans” and his political opponents than actually fighting terrorism.

Those are the kinds of people that HuffPo and The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and The New York Times editorialists are getting in bed with, rolling under the covers with, and who knows doing what with.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story on the allegedly widespread NSA surveillance scheme by publishing leaks about it, has been an Obama critic almost from the beginning, often getting credit for criticizing the President “from the left.” Bullhockey. Greenwald could jump in the political sack with Rand or Ron Paul, or both, and enjoy every minute of it. As the Rooted Cosmopolitan put it, Greenwald,

is not a liberal or progressive with a broad sense of the common good.

No, he’s not. I have followed his Tweets for months and some of them have shocked me in terms of their breathtaking hysteria related to President Obama.  Not only that, Greenwald doesn’t respect those on the left who don’t spend all their time denigrating the President. He once tweeted in support of someone who said of Obama supporters, “Obama could rape a nun on NBC and you’d say we weren’t seeing what we were seeing.” Greenwald’s reply:

No – she’d say it was justified [and] noble – that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.

The guy who wrote that, who doubled-down on the rape “joke,” is the one who broke the story on the NSA surveillance. That’s why I will wait until more sober minds have examined this issue’before I trash the man in the White House who has actually offered to hand back significant executive power to Congress.

By the way, Greenwald told CNN:

There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world. That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.

If that sounds like Glenn Beck instead of Glenn Greenwald then you don’t know Glenn Greenwald.

There are questions that need answered related to this NSA story, for sure. But people can’t have it both ways. They can’t demand that the government keep us safe from terrorists who want to kill us, while expecting government officials not to use technical means to do so.

And all of this stuff is especially ironic in an age in which people share all kinds of private information with strangers on the Internet or through emails.

In any case, the hysteria from the left—Obama is now George W. Bush—is why liberals cannot have a “movement” in the way conservatives can. They almost always let the perfect not only be an enemy of the good, but kill it in its tracks.

In Case You Didn’t Know, A “Lawless” President Obama Doesn’t Want To Kill You With Drones

More than a year ago I wrote about President Obama’s use of drones in the war against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world. I essentially endorsed, with some discomfort, the way the President was handling his job as commander-in-chief relative to his use of drones in general and the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki in particular.

Mr. Obama’s incredibly thoughtful speech on Thursday, at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., confirmed by endorsement and took away much of the discomfort.

I don’t know how any fair-minded person, which excludes most of the conservatives you meet on the street, or on cable TV, these days, could have heard the President’s speech and not have come away with a great deal of comfort that he, and not John McCain or Mitt Romney, is our commander-in-chief.

I won’t analyze the entire speech, but I do want to point out a part that addresses what so many liberals and lefties—as well as the usual gaggle of libertarianish Republicans—have been harping on, with some increasing intensity, for quite a while:

For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen — with a drone or with a shotgun — without due process. Nor should any president deploy armed drones over U.S. soil.

But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens, and when neither the United States nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot, his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team.

That’s who Anwar Awlaki was. He was continuously trying to kill people. He helped oversee the 2010 plot to detonate explosive devices on two U.S.-bound cargo planes. He was involved in planning to blow up an airliner in 2009. When Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, went to Yemen in 2009, Awlaki hosted him, approved his suicide operation, helped him tape a martyrdom video to be shown after the attack, and his last instructions were to blow up the airplane when it was over American soil.

I would have detained and prosecuted Awlaki if we captured him before he carried out a plot. But we couldn’t. And as president, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took him out.

I suggest a careful reading of the entire speech for anyone interested in how our modern military power should be applied these days. It is essentially the President “thinking out loud” about some of these topics, while being resolute on others. (He also handled a Code Pink protester fabulously, granting her the dignity of her position and weaving her into his speech at the end.)

Particularly interesting was his comments on the Authorized Use of Military Force, which was passed on September 14, 2001:

Now, all these issues remind us that the choices we make about war can impact, in sometimes unintended ways, the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends. And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.

The AUMF is now nearly twelve years old. The Afghan War is coming to an end. Core al-Qaida is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaida will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.

So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine and ultimately repeal the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.

Contrast this discussion with what the now-ridiculous columnist George Will wrote in yet another ridiculous column about President Obama’s “lawlessness.”

Will was discussing Obama’s controversial recess appointments (the Supreme Court will ultimately determine their constitutionality) of three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and comparing that action, unbelievably, to the infamous racist act by George Wallace 50 years ago, “when he stood in the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent two young blacks from registering as students.”

If that comparison weren’t embarrassing enough, Will wasn’t finished:

Courts defeated Wallace’s lawlessness. Presumably the Supreme Court will defeat Obama’s by telling the NLRB that the D.C. court was right about recess appointments. By such judicial vigilance against the excesses of elected officials, democracy is disciplined and progressivism’s agenda — unchecked executive power — is understood to be unconstitutional.

I, being a progressive, wasn’t aware that progressivism’s agenda was “unchecked executive power.”  Geeze. I thought it was unchecked executive power that gave progressives and liberals the heebie jeebies. In any case, President Obama’s amazingly engrossing and thoughtful speech on Thursday, in which he wants Congress to take pack the “unbound powers” it has granted to the executive branch, makes a fool not only out of George Will, but all those who think this president is power mad.

Even A Blind Rand Paul Finds A Nut Now And Then

Senator Rand Paul, as you all have seen or heard by now, is, as I write this, conducting an honest-to-goodness filibuster in the U.S. Senate over the nomination of John Brennan for Director of the CIA. Paul started his filibuster at 10:47am Central Standard Time this Wednesday.

Despite the fact that I dislike, rather strongly, Rand Paul, and despite the fact that he has said some dumb things during the time he has been speaking, I have exactly no problem with what he is doing, for a couple of reasons:

1) The filibuster should be conducted in the way Rand Paul is conducting it; that is, he is actually doing the (relatively) hard work of standing up and speaking, and speaking, and speaking, as opposed to just technically initiating a filibuster without the accompanying necessity of standing on the floor and paying the price—in terms of the sheer physical strain, as well as the public exposure—of his convictions.

2) His point for conducting the filibuster, as far as I can tell in the time I have listened to him, is a valid one. I admire anyone who is willing to stand up for hours upon hours in defense of a recognizably legitimate principle.

I will summarize his objection, the ostensible reason for his filibuster, by quoting something he said at 6:37 pm Central time—almost exactly eight hours after he began:

If you have a war that has no end, if you have a war that has no geographic limit, and then if you have strikes that have no constitutional bounds, basically what you have is an unlimited, imperial presidency.

I cannot and will not argue with that.

Now, I confess that a year ago to the day, I wrote about drone strikes on Americans in foreign lands (Can The Government Kill Citizens Overseas?), and I haven’t seen or read anything that would make me change my mind (reluctantly, I said “yes”).

But what Rand Paul is arguing, again, as far as I can tell between the bouts of nuttiness, is something different. He seems to be mostly concerned with a president’s authority to use drones, or presumably any other method, to kill Americans here, on American soil. And I can say that there is no way, under any set of normal circumstances, I would support using drones to kill Americans on American soil, without an independent due process of law. No way.

And I would expect Barack Obama, as our leader and as a Democrat, to feel the same way. I think he does, even if, just to protect his executive turf, he is somewhat reluctant to say so. And I think his Attorney General, Eric Holder, feels the same way. I believe Holder’s letter to Rand Paul, which you can see here, comes close to satisfying my concerns, since he writes:

It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

I say it comes close to satisfying my concerns because I think it could have been worded more clearly and more directly, sort of like this:

Senator Paul,

Unless there is a rare circumstance of an imminent catastrophic attack, such as happened on December 7, 1941, or on September 11, 2001, there is no way the Constitution permits the authorization or use of lethal military force on terrorist suspects on United States soil. None.

Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States

The problem with what Rand Paul is doing is not his message. It is the fact that such an otherwise silly man is delivering a message that merits our attention. And the fact that Senator Ted Cruz, a most disgusting and calculating opportunist from Texas—who does a mean impression of Joe McCarthy—is supporting Paul makes it all the worse.

But at the end of it all, what remains is a legitimate demand, by at least one member of the legislative branch, that its executive branch counterpart recognize the supremacy of the Constitution in its treatment of American citizens here at home.

And, as much as it pains me to say so, Rand Paul is doing a good thing in this case.

The Terrorists Are Winning

A commenter reminded me of something very important going on in Washington: American citizens are about to lose their constitutional right to due process, should they be suspected of palling around with terrorists.

Even though cable TV news has largely, if not completely, ignored this issue, the U.S. Senate has been debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an unbelievable provision that is written such that it could give the U.S. military authorization to indefinitely detain without trial American citizens—on American soil—suspected of being members of Al Qaeda.

I know, I know, it is hard to believe. But Lindsey Graham suggests that America is a terrorism battlefield and that suspected combatants, even American citizens, should be held under “the law of war” and not civil laws. “We’re trying to fight a war here,” said Mr. Graham. Using that logic, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the Constitution is a necessary casualty in that never-ending war.

Both Missouri senators, Blunt and McCaskill, voted against an amendment Tuesday that would have removed the provision, the amendment failing 38-60.  Only two Republicans voted in favor.

Today, the Senate voted on another amendment that would have partly restricted the military’s ability—which even the military doesn’t want—to strip citizens of their due process rights. It failed 45-55.

President Obama, who has been accused by radicals on the right of dictatorial delights, has threatened a veto, if the detainee provision stays as is. It turns out he is not fond of trampling the Constitution after all.

Hopefully, this surrealistic episode will come to a good end, but as I am fond of saying, these are strange times.

Do some research on this issue. It will scare you.


I heard Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, say today, “We should not be telling terrorists they have a right to remain silent.” The terrorists to which she referred were those living on American soil. I suppose, in the rush to “protect” Americans, it never occurred to Ms. Ayotte that in America there still remains the idea, although it is getting harder to see it every day, that you are not a “terrorist” until held so by a court of law—of what?  Of law.

Obamaphobia: A Memetic Plague

Liberals just have to face it.  A lot of folks over there at the Republican “News” Channel are just plain sick, when it comes to hating President Obama. 

I mean, it’s not just about the right-wing political philosophy that the channel pushes 24-7.  That’s bad enough.  But that in itself doesn’t make them sick.  It’s more about the strange way in which people on that “news” channel interpret even the most innocuous events, if there is a way to interpret them to bring condemnation on Mr. Obama.

And I’m not talking about the recent hysteria caused by false claims on the right that Obama’s trip to Asia was going to cost more money than Fox spends on Glenn Beck’s hypnotist (to train him to keep a $traight face, as he $uggest$ the End of America for the gazillionth time).

No, I’m talking about this morning for instance.  On “Republicans and Friends,” the popular morning show on the Republican “News” Network, there was a segment on President Obama’s rather thoughtful answer to a question from a student in Mumbai, India.  The question:

Q: Hi, good day, sir. Hi, my name is Anna and I’m from St. Davis College. My question to you is, what is your take on opinion about jihad, or jihadi? Whatever is your opinion, what do you think of them?

Now, before we get to Mr. Obama’s answer, let’s look at a couple of screen shots from “Republicans and Friends” this morning:


President Praises Islam” and “President’s Remarks: Refuses to Condemn “Jihad” While in Mumbai.”  Okay.  With such captions, and given the discussion during the segment, one would think Obama had joined in on a jihad against America.  But, again, before we get to his answer, let’s look back a bit.

In 2005, President George W. Bush gave a Veterans Day speech, just one speech among many he gave during his presidency.  But remember:  This one was on Veterans Day.   The speech was commemorating our veterans.  And in that context, Mr. Bush mentioned jihad and the need to see it not as “madness” or insanity, but as “a clear and focused ideology“:

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews — and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Get that?  Mr. Bush, in the context of a Veterans Day speech, told us not to confuse “Islamic radicalism” with “the religion of Islam.”  He went on to say this:

Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses.

Here’s how earlier this year the Associated Press reported on the difficulties of using appropriate language related to our war against radicals, who in the name of religion wish to do us harm:

But the Bush administration struggled with its rhetoric. Muslims criticized him for describing the war against terror as a “crusade” and labeling the invasion of Afghanistan “Operation Infinite Justice” — words that were seen as religious. He regularly identified America’s enemy as “Islamic extremists” and “radical jihadists.”

Karen Hughes, a Bush confidant who served as his top diplomat to the Muslim world in his second term, urged the White House to stop.

“I did recommend that, in my judgment, it’s unfortunate because of the way it’s heard. We ought to avoid the language of religion,” Hughes said. “Whenever they hear ‘Islamic extremism, Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism,’ they perceive it as a sort of an attack on their faith. That’s the world view Osama bin Laden wants them to have.”

Okay.  Now, we can get to part of Obama’s answer to the jihad question and the weird but predictable reaction to it on the right:

Well, the phrase jihad has a lot of meanings within Islam and is subject to a lot of different interpretations. But I will say that, first, Islam is one of the world’s great religions. And more than a billion people who practice Islam, the overwhelming majority view their obligations to their religion as ones that reaffirm peace and justice and fairness and tolerance.  I think all of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified.

Wow!  How could President Obama say such things, especially since George W. Bush had already said them time and time again?  What was he thinking?

Sean Hannity:

Why couldn’t he just say, ‘Jihad killed 3,000 Americans, it is the belief or the false use of God to justify killing and murder and war’? Why didn’t he say that?


So once again, Mr. Obama dodged the girl’s question and failed to answer about the jihad. Whenever, whenever the president is faced with the worldwide problem of jihad, Mr. Obama delivers platitudes.

Newt Gingrich:

I think this administration is in such total denial about who’s trying to kill us and what their motives are that it’s dangerous to the country. And the president today, in this particular performance, was following up on this continuous denial.

Continuous denial“? “Dangerous to the country?” The truth of all this is that many folks on the right-wing do have a sickness.  They hate President Obama so much that it affects everything they see and hear. 

Despite the fact that Obama is pursuing a much more aggressive war than President Bush pursued against the extremists who did us harm on 9/11; despite the fact that he is fast dissipating his moral capital through an exponential increase in drone attacks in Pakistan—sometimes killing innocents—and despite the fact that his answer to that question on jihad would be heard by countless Muslims around the world; people like Newt Gingrich can say that the President, “is in such total denial about who’s trying to kill us and what their motives are that it’s dangerous to the country.”

Well, no, it isn’t Mr. Gingrich. But what is dangerous to the country is that disturbed people like you and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and other Obama-sick commentators are spreading a memetic plague to millions of Americans every day.

Piss Off Orrin Hatch And Nominate Diane Wood To The Supreme Court

At the risk of turning off regular readers, the pending resignation of Justice John Paul Stevens cries out for a 2000-word essay on why Diane Wood should be Obama’s nomination to replace the “liberal” voice on the Court.

Okay.  I won’t write 2000 words, but I do find Judge Wood very interesting, particularly her approach to judging.  Stay with me, if you want to have a little ammo to combat the onslaught of hysteria and ignorance that will be forthcoming in the philosophical battle over who will be the next justice on our highest court.

In a lecture she gave in 2005 titled, “Our 18th Century Constitution in the 21st Century World,”  Judge Wood, who sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, shows why she would be a match for any conservative currently sitting on the high court.

She begins her talk with this:

Fine wines and Stradivarius violins improve with age, taking on greater richness and depth as the years go by.  For many, if not most, other things in today’s frenetic world, value is evanescent.  

I like her already.

But, more important, she has a philosophically tenable counter to the originalism espoused by most conservatives, not only those on the Supreme Court, but those Constitutional experts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and, of course, Fox “News” scholar, Glenn Beck.*

Wood contrasts the “originalist approach” (think: Antonin Scalia and a hopped-up Limbaugh) with the “dynamic approach” (think: nearly everyone else) and she clearly sympathizes with the dynamicists:

If…one is willing to give the broad provisions in the Constitution and its Amendments a generous reading, thereby validating the many adaptations that the Court and country have endorsed over the years, our old Constitution has stood the test of time admirably.  

Indeed, it has:

The basic charter that suited a small, relatively powerless, rural economy with a population of 3.9 million now serves a global superpower of nearly three hundred million citizens, where economically the relevant stage is the entire world, where national and global communications are instantaneous, and where it is easier to get from New York to Honolulu than it once was to get from New York to Philadelphia.

Not content, though, with the old categories, Wood wants to move beyond them:

It is time..to end the long-standing and unproductive methodological debate over “originalism” versus “dynamism” or “evolution” and focus instead on how, as a substantive matter, we should interpret the Constitution in the twenty-first century, and what it has to say on questions unimaginable to our eighteenth-century Framers.

Now, were I to go on and cut and paste from the rest of her lecture, things like,

The literal Constitution, for which some have argued, would be a woefully inadequate document for the American people today…


The Federalist Papers and other documents from the Founding period make it abundantly clear that the Framers knew that they were creating a set of constitutional standards, not prescribing rigid constitutional rules…

this little posting would go well beyond 2000 words and would go unread by the average net-surfer. But suffice it to say that Wood’s reasoning appears to be quite sound, “liberal” though it will certainly seem to anyone who thinks the Joplin Globe is a “liberal” newspaper.

A few more highlights deserve a mention here.  Wood discusses “impoundment” (you’ll have to look it up) and the controversial War Powers Resolution (or Act, as I was taught in school) which seeks, albeit with questionable constitutionality, to limit the powers of any president to prosecute wars like, say, Vietnam.

What I find interesting, in terms of the current cries to “follow the Constitution,” coming from Tea Party law professors (with their spelling-challenged signage), is this fact, brought out by Judge Wood:

War powers bring into even sharper focus the difference between today’s Constitution and the text adopted in 1789.  Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 confers on the Congress the power “to declare War.” One could be forgiven for thinking that this short phrase must mean that the country cannot enter into hostilities without first obtaining a formal declaration from Congress, and that this declaration will specify with what country or group of countries the United States is at war. Neither of those suppositions is true in the post-Vietnam War period…

Neither is true, she says, because

1) the War Powers Resolution “specifically recognized the power of the President to commit U.S. troops to hostile action without a formal declaration of war,” and,

2) ” the idea of “war” itself has become hopelessly fuzzy. In an era where one can have “wars” on phenomena like terrorism or organized crime–in which there is no enemy with whom to negotiate, no power capable of surrender, and thus no way to know when the “war” is over–the text of the Constitution is not very helpful.”

Now, in light of the War on Terror, which most folks on the Right support enthusiastically, if extra-Constitutionally, that phrase Wood used, “the text of the Constitution is not very helpful,” is, well, very helpful.

Another area of ambiguity involves “state sovereignty,” a hot topic on the Tea Party circuit.  Writing in 2005, Wood said:

The Framers knew perfectly well that the Constitution they crafted took important powers away from the States (in response to the unsatisfactory experience under the Articles of Confederation), yet left many  powers still in state hands. With the latter especially in mind, they were careful (at least in the Tenth Amendment) to dissipate any impression of a negative inference about state power from the existence of the enumerated powers. But the express provisions of the Constitution leave much unsaid. They do not spell out, for example, answers to such important questions as whether Congress, acting pursuant to its Article I powers, may enact legislation creating rights that private parties may enforce against the States; if there is a pre-constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity of the States, whether the scope of that immunity was absolute or restricted; and if the state sovereign immunity doctrine will evolve over the years in the same way as the foreign sovereign immunity doctrine.

The point is that there are ambiguities built into the Constitution, like who gets to determine when we are “at war,” and for how long, as well as the nature of the federal/state relationship.

And the Constitutional hand-wringing coming from folks who also think Obama is a foreign-born Muslim socialist/Communist, is not only dubious, it is flat-out indefensible.

The truth is that the Constitution is not a static set of rules, interpretable only by philosophically parochial judges.  Judge Wood’s lecture shows that the old document is in good hands when it is in the hands of those who see it as an adaptive instrument of governance.

And I wrote all of that in just under 1100 words. 

But you should read the rest of her lecture, because she has much to say about individual rights, liberty, “takings,” international human rights, “unwritten rules,” and so on.

I want to end with her short enumeration of why we, as Americans, have come to value what we value in terms of human rights, and how a 21st-century approach to interpreting the Constitution preserves what we value:

Our strong national commitment to individual rights…continues to depend on several crucial constitutional understandings that have always had their critics, and more recently have come under sharper attack. Those understandings include the following:

(1) broad language may legitimately be interpreted broadly, in a manner informed by evolving notions of a decent society;

(2) as a matter of federal constitutional law, some liberties are beyond the power of any governmental entity to deny;

(3) most parts of the Bill of Rights, in particular through the doctrine of selective incorporation, apply to state action as well as to federal action;

(4) constitutional principles can be inferred from sources such as the structure of the overall document and preconstitutional understandings.

Before anyone swallows the line of reasoning that will inevitable fall from the lips of conservative critics over the next few months regarding Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee, one should read the words of a woman Obama should seriously consider—and then appoint—to our Supreme Court.

Who cares if Orrin Hatch gets pissed?


*Beck, performing a public service, has urged President Obama to appoint a “gay-handicapped-black woman who’s an immigrant.”  His rationale is,

She could be the devil, she could say ‘I hate America, I want to destroy America,’ and that way they’ll only be able to say, ‘Oh, Why do you hate gay immigrant black, gay, handicapped women.’ Because that’s what this has to be. It must be about.. And when I say this, I mean all of it.

The War On Obama

Given that conservatives have continued to prosecute their all-out war on Obama’s handling of our fight against Al Qaeda, it was nice to hear a strong defense of the administration coming from somewhere near the top. Here is one excerpt from Joe Biden’s appearance on Meet The Press today:

DAVID GREGORY: What about the general proposition that the President according to former Vice President Cheney doesn’t consider America to be at war and is essentially soft on terrorism? What do you say about that?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don’t think the Vice– the Former Vice President Dick Cheney listens. The President of the United States said in the State of the Union, “We’re at war with Al Qaeda.” He stated this– and by the way, we’re pursuing that war with a vigor like it’s never been seen before. We’ve eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates. We are making, we’ve sent them underground. They are in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don’t know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it’s one thing, again, to– to criticize. It’s another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?

This follows Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan’s piece last week in USA Today in which he said:

This administration’s efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.

Now, no doubt these defenses will not placate Obama’s political enemies. They are at war with Obama himself.  The right-wing will not be satisfied by good news that the 9/11 perpetrators are being diminished on a daily basis. They don’t like Obama’s approach because it lacks the language of authoritarianism that conservatives covet.

Not content with merely being at war with Al Qaeda, they want Obama to buy into their larger “war on terror” because such a posture allows for a wide array of possibilities—both domestic and foreign—that will help satisfy their authoritarian cravings.  From wanting more warrantless surveillance of Americans to suggesting starting a war with Iran,  their authoritarian jones simply can’t be satisfied by a thoughtful, “professorial” approach they claim Obama’s policies represent.

Especially now that the Obama administration has tripled down on the efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan—with unarguable success—conservatives these days have to focus on some other aspect of the administration’s policy they want to make the public believe is leaving us vulnerable to terrorism.  Thus, a return to an emphasis on the language that Obama uses, as he prosecutes the war on actual terrorists, as opposed to an amorphous war on a tactic, “terror.”

What some have called a right-wing meme still makes its way about the culture.  You’ve heard it: “Obama won’t even use the word ‘terror.”  In a stunning example of not only right-wing hysteria, but of mainstream media compliance with such hysteria, here is a transcript from CNN from early January:

SEN. JIM DEMINT (Rep-S.C.): There’s no question that the president has down-played the risk of terror since he took office. He is investigating the CIA, rather than build them up.

GLORIA BORGER: How has he — Senator DeMint, how — how has he down-played the risk of terror?

DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.

BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.

As Greg Sargent pointed out,

Politico ran with DeMint’s claim today, also without fact-checking it. So did The Hill and MSNBC. CBS also ran similar DeMint comments without rebutting them.

The rebuttal is that not only has Obama repeatedly used the word, he had used it as recently as one day before DeMint’s accusation!  You gotta love that liberal media, letting hard-core conservatives lie about Obama that way.

But thankfully, there are other outlets.  Here is one example that utterly destroys the Obama-won’t-use-the-word-terror meme:

Vodpod videos no longer available.  

If you think such a devastating rebuttal of outrageous right-wing hysteria would stop the insane references to language and Obama’s war efforts, you would be wrong.  Here is something Sarah Palin said, to much applause, at the Tea Party Convention last weekend:

Let me say, too, it’s not politicizing our security to discuss our concerns because Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats that we face and what the administration is or isn’t doing about them. So let’s talk about them. New terms used like “overseas contingency operation” instead of the word “war.” That reflects a world view that is out of touch with the enemy that we face. We can’t spin our way out of this threat. It is one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved. It is quite another to call the devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a “manmade disaster.” I just say, come on, Washington, if no where else, national security, that is one place where you’ve got to call it like it is.

She went on to say:

We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of the threats that we face.

The “true nature of the threats that we face” is what Obama and his administration have finally got right.  And for that the right-wing offers nothing but ridicule and fear.  The latest book by a former Bush official, Marc Thiessen, has as part of its title the following:

How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack

Thiessen began his attacks on Obama rather early.  Last year he wrote:

It’s not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.

All of this illustrates that conservatives are more interested in a “War on Obama” than anything else.

[Biden photo: AP; Palin photo: Tennessean.com]
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