Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

About The Pulpit's Bully

Charles Pierce has a very good post up about Obama's memo that presents the case for extrajudicial killings. Unfortunately it is too late to regret Obama's actions. The time to do something about this was before the election. Everyone already knew Obama's stance and actions and voted for him anyway. Now we must accept responsibility for our vote and publicly accept the bad with the good. We already accepted it privately. If it is embarrassing or painful that is just the price we must pay for our choice.

In time we will barely be able to remember that we used to demand due legal process for everyone. It wasn't for very long and it often didn't cover everyone anyway.

And the Republicans are much worse.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'll note Charlie Pierce also told people who said "WTF is this shit" to "grow up".

A shame, that. It's what the DNC corporatists count on.

Susan of Texas said...

Nothing is more adult than obeying authority like a child.

I believe people should have the courage of their convictions.

Everyone (save a very few) were absolutely positive that we had no choice but to vote for Obama, that it was the right thing to do under the circumstances, that it was in fact the only moral thing to do. To the point where one called me a "shit-stained asshole" for suggesting otherwise.

So be it.

But you bought it, you own it. You do not get to lament the actions of the man people reelected in full awareness of his civil rights abuses. They decided that Romney would be worse and they were probably right. They saw two choices and picked one. There is no need for public displays of regret or anxiety. They were confident in their choices then, let them be confident in their choices now.

After all, it was not concern for our civil rights that made us reject Obama. It was moral vanity.

Downpuppy said...

At the same time as he was promoting Tom Junod's series on the Deadly Presidency, which didn't take a break for the election.

I have a faint hope that we've hit the peak awfulness of drone war & snooping, but whothehellknows.

Kathy said...

Public education was/is so terrible these last couple of decades, most people don't know what their Rights are let alone feel horror and terror that most of those rights have been stripped from them. About all people know of the Constitution is the 2nd and 5th amendments, and they don't really understand what those are all about.

Private (charter schools) education will be even worse.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, to his audience's regret. But we always have been able to criticize Obama. As long as we elect him.

If we are using drones and snooping to preserve America's control over natural resources we have just begin to drone and snoop.

Susan of Texas said...

"A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination. In the Department's view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of nation self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly, the use of lethal force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a legitimate military target would be lawful and wold not violate the assassination ban."

Doesn't this mean our killing of al-Awlaki's son was illegal under the administration's own rules?

Susan of Texas said...


Right after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, amid all the cheers and applause, there were a few critical comments questioning the legality of the act. Centuries ago, there used to be something called presumption of innocence. If you apprehend a suspect, he's a suspect until proven guilty. He should be brought to trial. It's a core part of American law. You can trace it back to Magna Carta. So there were a couple of voices saying maybe we shouldn't throw out the whole basis of Anglo-American law. That led to a lot of very angry and infuriated reactions, but the most interesting ones were, as usual, on the left-liberal end of the spectrum. Matthew Yglesias, a well-known and highly respected left-liberal commentator, wrote an article in which he ridiculed these views. He said they were "amazingly naive" and silly. Then he explained the reason. He said: "One of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers." Of course, he didn't mean Norway. He meant the United States. So the principle on which the international system is based is that the US is entitled to use force at will. To talk about the US violating international law or something like that is amazingly naive, completely silly. Incidentally, I was the target of those remarks, and I'm happy to confess my guilt. I do think that Magna Carta and international law are worth paying some attention to.

I merely mention that to illustrate that, in the intellectual culture, even at what's called the left-liberal end of the political spectrum, the core principles haven't changed very much. But the capacity to implement them has been sharply reduced. That's why you get all this talk about American decline. Take a look at the year-end issue of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal. Its big front-page cover asks, in bold face, "Is America Over?" It's a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything. If you believe you should have everything and anything gets away from you, it's a tragedy, and the world is collapsing. So is America over? A long time ago we "lost" China, we've lost southeast Asia, we've lost South America. Maybe we'll lose the Middle East and north African countries. Is America over? It's a kind of paranoia, but it's the paranoia of the super-rich and the super-powerful. If you don't have everything, it's a disaster.

Anonymous said...

I don't like Pierce. He's an old blowhard in love with the sound of his own voice.

I knew Obama's stance and actions...and voted Green.

From his latest remarks about a grand bargain still being on the table, I'm glad I did.

Wish you blogged more, Susan.

Substance McGravitas said...

Doesn't this mean our killing of al-Awlaki's son was illegal under the administration's own rules?

Sure is.

Susan of Texas said...

Anon, I like Pierce and I am very greatful for his linkage but, as I said, we don't get to distance ourselves from our decisions. We will have to live with the consequences of our actions, which includes listening to the right call us hypcrites and mock us for our supposed morals. And later, we'll have to sit and take it when they say it's their turn to kill Americans if they feel it necessary, for their protection.

There are always consequences for our actions. That's why we have to be so careful and thoughtful when when make choices. At least, for the big choices.

We don't get to demand that everyone vote for Obama no matter what the circumstances and then complain about his actions. Nobody cares anymore. It's done.

Anonymous said...

What is particularly despicable about the white paper is that the only question it was interested in was whether american citizens could be killed willy-nilly on the say so of any old bureaucrat. It took for granted that all non americans were fair game anyway


Zachary Smith said...

I've no use at all for Pierce, for he was one of the most shameful Obama-bots before the 2012 election.

None of the current Presidential Lawlessness is new. What Pierce was doing was to try to get voters to become willing participants in the crimes. By voting for Obama they'd tend keep quiet about the same crimes they screamed about when Bush was the criminal. That's because their votes were essentially an endorsement of torture and executive murders.

Earlier today I was rummaging through an old book about the submarine warfare in WW1 when I came on this:

"Two ideas were fighting in Europe and the outcome would shape thought and mold human destiny for generations to come. America not less than Europe, Asia, and Africa, was to be controlled by the ideas which triumphed in that contest. The German notes to the United States were admirable indications of the German idea. They asserted that the will of one nation superseded the rights of all nations, that international law, the conventions that man has devised to mitigate in some degree the horrors of organized murder and collective killing, may be ignored and even abolished at the pleasure of a single nation. These conventions of nations had been the sanctuaries of civilization and Germany had asserted her right to violate them. Among them were the rights bestowed upon weak or neutral States, and against these the German idea made war, as in the case of the neutrality guaranteed to Belgium. As the German Chancellor had asserted, on the eve of the invasion of Belgium, that a violation of its faith was justifiable on the ground of necessity, so the German Foreign Minister now told Americans that the murder of the Lusitania's American passengers was defensible, in view of the war England had made upon Germany. He asserted the right of Germany to disregard law when law bore down on German interests."

Imperial Germany, Imperial America. Neither felt it necessary to follow the rules when they were inconvenient.

Downpuppy said...

I don't quite see this - from 9/26/12 - as the work of an O-bot. It opens:

The war that the United States is waging — a war, let it be noted, that the United States is waging purely at the behest of its president, who is currently standing for re-election, and a war for which the consent of the governed was never sought — claimed six more people the other day in Pakistan.

& then really gets angry.

Zachary Smith said...

Well Sir, despite my intense dislike for Mr. Pierce, I scanned your link. The piece is sure enough talking about Obama; that's the name in the title. Funny thing though, that name isn't used again. The emphasis I saw subtly changed to another term - "we". By my count it was there 20 times. It's that "complicity" thing I was thinking of in my previous post. Pierce was sloshing blood on the hands of all his readers, and by implication, on all American citizens.

At the bottom of that article was a link to Pierce's series: The Lethal Presidency. At the top of the series list was a fairly long (4 screens on my monitor) February 6 article titled "Welcome to Droneworld". Odd thing though, there is nobody named Obama in Droneworld. So let's once again check what's going on in that mysterious place.

democratic republic (that's us)
self-government (us again)
self-government (us)
human beings, who are easily terrified by every rustling in the bushes (those bedwetting citizens)
they knew what people were like (numbskulled cowards)
how deeply embedded was the need for something like a king (WE want a strong leader to take care of US)
There are angry, feral creatures in there, stalking the ruins, howling for blood. (we love our bloodthirsty but unnamed leader)

Pierce is a slick writer, no doubt about it. So if he had all those reservations, why did he endorse Obama? Frankly, I don't know, and I'm not going to wade through the essay where he did. But I am going to quote one little section of it.

*** Still, I thought long and hard about tossing her my vote, because I live in the bluest of blue states, and I felt that, in casting my vote that way, I would absolve myself of complicity in the drone strikes, and in the inexcusable pass given to the Wall Street pirates, and in what I am sure is going to be an altogether dreadful Grand Bargain while not materially damaging the most important cause of all: making sure that Willard Romney is not president. ***

Notice that he admits that an Obama vote means he's complicit in the lies, the corruption, and the straight-out criminality of BHO. He cast his lot with Obama, and used his very considerable influence to urge others to do the same.

That's a dissection of one of Pierce's slick articles.

There were other voices.

That last one I want to briefly quote:

"That is the ultimate source of all resistance: the certain knowledge that, "whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves." It is the source of the power to say, No"

I said no to the rigged 2012 choices where I was supposed to choose between a genuine criminal and somebody who was probably worse. And I don't regret it.

Downpuppy said...

Are we complicit in all this nastiness just by being Americans or do we get Pure Soul cards if we voted 3rd party?

Dumbass question. The point is to never stop fighting.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere, sixty-six million Obama voters are casting pained, conflicted gazes out a window. They bear terrible knowledge. Who is out there to tell them they were wrong? Who can administer the appropriate punishment?

The wind howls forever across a barren moral landscape.

Zachary Smith said...

"Somewhere, sixty-six million Obama voters are casting pained, conflicted gazes out a window."

You forgot to speak of the anguish suffered by the Romney/Ryan voters who cast their lot with an even nastier pair.

Actually, I've not heard a single regret from those I know who voted for those two jokers. After all, they were both white, and neither was a gun-grabbing baby-killing Socialist Muslim.

The power elites arranged an election between "bad" and "much worse" to force the outcome to the former. Or failing a direct win, to allow the hindsight guys in the "liberal media" to explain that outcome in the event the Obama people had to use Diebold to get him reelected.

Substance McGravitas said...

Somewhere, sixty-six million Obama voters are casting pained, conflicted gazes out a window.

If the number of people who give a shit is that high I have a sunnier outlook already.