Barack Obama

National Security State

The strange powerlessness of the "most powerful man in the world"

|

National Security and Double Government, by Michael J. Glennon, Oxford University Press, 272 pages, $29.95

It seems ages ago now, but there really was a time when some civil libertarians held out hope for Barack Obama's presidency. If elected, this former constitutional law professor might be "our first president who is a civil libertarian," Jeffrey Rosen enthused in The New York Times in March 2008. On inauguration night in 2009, defense lawyers at Guantanamo Bay actually formed a celebratory conga line, chanting "rule of law, baby!"

They and many other Obama optimists woke up to a hell of a hangover, one that's lasted six years. The president has launched more than six times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush; ordered the remote-control execution of an American citizen; continued and expanded dragnet domestic surveillance programs based on a secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act; and launched two undeclared wars.

The question Michael Glennon asks at the outset of his important new book, National Security and Double Government, is: "Why does national security policy remain constant even when one President is replaced by another, who as a candidate, repeatedly, forcefully, and eloquently promised fundamental changes in that policy?"

His answer is altogether darker and more radical than you'd reasonably expect from a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee legal counsel and current international law professor at Tufts. Glennon argues, in essence, that the national security state has become a runaway train and that presidential elections are contests that determine who gets to pretend he's driving.

Glennon takes the book's central metaphor of "double government" from the 19th century British essayist Walter Bagehot, longtime editor of The Economist. In 1867's The English Constitution, Bagehot described how real power in the British government had quietly shifted from one set of institutions, the monarchy and House of Lords, to another: the prime minister, the cabinet, and the House of Commons. By the late 19th century, Britain had become a "concealed republic" with only the outward trappings of a monarchy.

The United States is moving in the opposite direction, Glennon argues. As power has shifted toward the permanent national security and intelligence bureaucracies, we face an "emergent autocracy" in the guise of a democratic republic. We've "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency," he writes, "to a structure of double government in which even the President exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of US national security policy."

We're used to the idea that Congress has ceded most of its formal powers over national security policy to an aggrandizing chief executive. But it's counterintuitive, to say the least, to suggest that government's chief executive isn't really in charge. That's likely why the two standard explanations for otherwise inexplicable policy continuity focus on the president as the main protagonist.

The first such explanation is what Glennon terms "the rational actor model," the idea that we get the national security policies we do because these are the national security policies we need, given the threats we face.

This is the account preferred by Harvard Law School's Jack Goldsmith, a former head of the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, who serves as something of a foil for Glennon. As Goldsmith once put it, "The presidency invariably gives its occupants a sober outlook on problems of national security."

Sitting in the Oval Office and getting a faceful of President's Daily Briefs tends to concentrate the mind, the story goes, so it's no surprise that when confronted with new information about the dangerous world we live in, Obama changed his mind about the substantive correctness of his predecessor's counterterrorism policies. Goldsmith quotes Jack Kennedy's observation that it's "much easier to make the speeches than it is to finally make the judgments."

The second conventional explanation for policy continuity is what Glennon calls the "government politics model." This emphasizes factors like the content of the president's character and the political pressures brought to bear on the presidency.

Maybe, for example, what the Daily Brief really concentrates the president's mind on is political self-preservation. He becomes ever more aware that he's going to be held personally responsible if a bomb goes off anywhere in the country, particularly if he's a liberal Democrat whose foes are eager to paint him as a soft-on-terror McGovernite.

Of course, it's insane to hold any elected official personally responsible for providing seamless protection to a country of over 300 million people; all the surveillance and drone strikes in the world can't begin to meet that boundless responsibility. But as Obama's onetime national security adviser James L. Jones put it: "Who wants to be the guy that says we don't need [these powers] anymore and then three weeks later something happens?"

Glennon offers another explanation, one that has been overshadowed by the conventional wisdom's focus on the president as decider in chief. Policy continuity is better understood through the "organizational behavior model," he says, which looks to a "Trumanite network" of managers in the military, intelligence bureaucracies, and law enforcement "who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints." Glennon calls them "Trumanites" because of our 33rd president's role in founding the CIA, the modern Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency (NSA).

Though Glennon doesn't describe his thesis in terms of public choice theory, it echoes that discipline's insight that institutions are run for the benefit of the people who run the institutions. For the Trumanites, Glennon explains, "benefits take the form of enlarged budgets, personnel, missions; costs take the form of retrenchments in each." Witness the vast archipelago of intelligence facilities-nearly three Pentagons' worth of office space-that have been erected in greater Washington, D.C., since 9/11.

Security bureaucracies may sometimes resist new missions "seen as undercutting their culture or efficiency," but they will reliably err on the side of overprotection and threat inflation. "The fundamental driver of Trumanite power has been emergency," Glennon writes, and so "the network thus has little incentive to identify or eliminate the ultimate source of threats (e.g., unwanted intervention in the internal affairs of other nations)."

The national security state is becoming an autonomous, self-perpetuating entity, Glennon warns. It sets the table for elected officials' choices and increasingly dictates terms to them. The permanent bureaucracy basks in the "glow" of Madisonian institutions, drawing legitimacy from the illusion that elected officials are in charge. But while the buck may stop with the president, the real power resides with the Trumanites.

This explanation is strongest in the realm of state surveillance, which serves as Glennon's central case study. Recall the embarrassing revelation, in the summer of 2013, that the NSA was tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. What did the president know, and when did he know it? If you believe top administration officials, Obama was almost as surprised as Merkel. Glennon quotes Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect that the Merkel wiretap, like a lot of NSA programs, occurred "on autopilot."

On one hand, that's what you'd expect them to say. On the other hand, the claim is entirely plausible, and it is consistent with the earlier history of NSA abuses uncovered by the Church Committee in the 1970s. Under Project SHAMROCK, for example, the NSA collected the content of virtually all cable traffic entering or leaving the United States for three decades-150,000 messages a month at its height. It was, the committee's final report concluded, "probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken." And yet it's not clear that any president ordered, approved, or was even aware of SHAMROCK. When the program's existence was exposed in the mid-'70s, Louis Tordella, longtime deputy director of the NSA, admitted that he didn't know whether any president or attorney general had ever been briefed on it.

The picture grows somewhat more complicated when we look at the modern practice of presidential war making. From the Truman administration onward, the president has accumulated enormous unchecked authority, despite James Madison's conviction that, since the executive department was "most distinguished by its propensity to war," it is "the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence."

When it comes to picking the wars we wage, it's not clear that the Trumanites are fully in charge. Take four major war-powers decisions during the Obama administration: the Afghan surge, the escalation of drone attacks, the Libya intervention, and the current war against ISIS. I put the Trumanite win-loss record at roughly .500 here. The military and national security bureaucracy fought hard for the surge and the drone escalation, and got them. They generally opposed the Libyan action, and some prominent Trumanites-such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs -appear to have been reluctant to endorse our latest war in the Middle East.

In the case of this most recent war, domestic politics seems a better explanation: The president yielded to the near-irresistible demand that he "do something" about the beheading of Americans and the implosion of the Iraqi state. Bombing ISIS is something, so we're doing it.

The Obama experience suggests we get the wars the Trumanites want-and also some they don't. But this is hardly fatal to Glennon's thesis. He stresses that "a good theory of institutional behavior can predict, at best, only tendency over time"; his "predicts only that national security policy will change little from one administration to the next." So far, that theory is holding up rather well.

Even so, I've always been partial to one version of the "government politics" explanation. A few years ago, I wrote a book arguing that "Americans' unconfined conception of presidential responsibility is the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties." If the political reality is such that the president will be held personally accountable for any domestic terror attack, don't be surprised when he seeks powers nearly as vast as the expectations put upon him.

Glennon acknowledges it's not either-or; "explanations overlap," he writes. Dumb wars and security-state overreach are the result of political choices and the bureaucratic imperative. Policy continuity is depressingly overdetermined.

Real-time histories of key national security decisions in the Obama years tend to underscore this point. In Kill or Capture, reporter Daniel Klaidman describes the enormous political pressure the Obama administration was under after the failed "underwear bomber" attack on December 25, 2009. "For the White House," Klaidman writes, "the psychic toll of Christmas Day was profound. Obama realized that if a failed terror attempt could suck up so much political oxygen, a successful attack would absolutely devastate his presidency. And much as he liked to talk about returning to first principles, Obama also had a powerful instinct for self-correction-as well as self-preservation."

The psychic aftershock of Christmas 2009 helped shape a lot of what followed: from body scanners at airports to ramped-up drone strikes to the lethal targeting of an American citizen.

But to Glennon's point, the administration was under pressure from the Trumanites well before that. In the 2012 book, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, James Mann describes a concerted effort by then-CIA director Michael Hayden and other senior intelligence officials to preserve business as usual by scaring the hell out of the incoming Obama team. Their private name for this scheme was the "Aw, Shit! Campaign."

The scare tactics worked. Klaidman reports that both Harold Koh, legal advisor at the State Department, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel, used the same metaphor to describe the military pressure for more targeted killings: a runaway train. It was like "a massive freight train hurling down the tracks" Koh said. "You would have to throw yourself on the tracks to try to stop it," said Johnson.

All this helps shed light on Obama's strange and disorienting May 2013 "drone speech" at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., in which the president seemed to be speaking not as commander in chief, but as his own loyal opposition.

In the speech, Obama said things like "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." And: "The very precision of drone strikes…can also lead a president and his team to view [them] as a cure-all for terrorism." I remember thinking: "A president"? Which one? Anyone in particular? Who's in charge here, anyway?

National Security and Double Government suggests that the answer to that last question isn't quite so obvious, that the "most powerful man in the world" isn't nearly as powerful as he might appear.

It remains the case that Obama had the formal authority to say no to mass surveillance and perpetual war. But saying no would require resisting enormous bureaucratic and political pressure. And anybody willing to do what it takes to become president is unlikely to transform himself into a self-denying Cincinnatus once in office. Political survivors don't jump in front of trains.

Still, hope is a hard habit to break. Today, Rand Paul is the leading candidate for the role of "first civil libertarian president." Glennon's book gives us good reason to consider just how audacious such a hope might be.

Gene Healy (ghealy@cato.org), a vice president at the Cato Institute, is the author of The Cult of the Presidency.

Advertisement

NEXT: Brendan O'Neill: In Defense of Drunk Sex

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is it rude to point out that all of us knew better than this asshole?

      1. Man, I bet the staff here regrets putting that confessional online. Had they ever done such a thing before? Will they ever again? There’s nothing like seeing your wide-eyed innocent optimism available for anyone to see and ridicule for all time. If I had been dumb enough to fall for Obama’s shit, I wouldn’t want anyone to know or have that on me. Or that I was statistically ignorant enough to vote in the first place.

        1. Didn’t they do one of those in 2012?

          1. Did they? It doesn’t matter. The wide-eyed reactions to the 2008 election are the only interesting ones.

        2. Well you are ignorant of statistics.

          1. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

            (takes breath)

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

            1. The usual piercing response.

              The fact remains that you use the term ‘statistically insignificant’ in a way that demonstrates you have no idea what that phrase means.

              1. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                (takes breath)

                HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                1. Forget it, Epi – it’s Cytofascistown

                  1. The clowns are congregating. Circle-jerk for flippant defence.

                    DEFINITION of ‘Statistically Significant’ The likelihood that a result or relationship is caused by something other than mere random chance. Statistical hypothesis testing is traditionally employed to determine if a result is statistically significant or not.

                    http://www.investopedia.com/te…..ficant.asp

                  2. Already forgotten, Al. It’s just amusing watching the psychopathic chickenhawk gimp Canadian Randian virgin beat his concave indigent chest and engage in his delusions of intelligence and competence. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

                    1. Lots of big words there do not compensate for your smallness.

                    2. Oh and you forgot to drop a random pop-culture reference.

                    3. Brian Williams.

                      Wait. You’re in Canada. Bryan Adams.

              2. A.) I don’t see where Epi used the term “statistically insignificant”, unless its in a fascr-blocked thread, I only see “statistically ignorant”.

                B.) According to Gelman, Sliver* & Eldin (2012), on average, for the 2008 election, a single vote had a 1 in 60 million chance of being a decisive one. In certain swing states it was high as 1 in 10 million.

                * Yeah, yeah, yeah, I find Silver obnoxious too.

                1. He’s used the term before in this context and that’s what he’s referring to.

                  Assuming electoral honesty, all the votes count. Every one. Just like every gram in a mountain counts towards its weight. The gram might not be ‘decisive’ in say potentiating a landslide but it’s there and contributing.

                  1. And you’re correct, Cytotoxic, if you’re viewing it from the homo economicus as an agent of rational choice theory point-of-view. I’ve been more convinced by the Dan Ariely, “predictably irrational” behavioral economics framework. That is when people normally use the word “significant” for voter turnout, they mean the significance of their, specific vote, which is called a vote’s “salience”.

                    Even looking at it from rational actor theory, when deciding to vote, a person has to judge the expenditure of his or her resources to the perceived salience of their vote. Just like I realize that if I buy a lottery ticket, I have the same odds of winning on that ticket as every other ticket (it “counts”), I’m only concerned about the odds of my ticket winning (its salience). So looking at the odds of winning the jackpot, I decide it’s not worth it to buy a ticket. So, it could be argued that while its true that every vote counts, what motivates voter turnout is a “predictably irrational” view of an individual’s vote’s salience. That is, if I really look at the free-time and gas I would be spending to get to the polling place as opposed to the chance my vote would be decisive, it’s irrational to go through the hassle.

                    Just my 0.02.

                    1. Well, long ago I lived about 100 feet from the polling place. It was worth it then.

      2. Michael Shermer

        1. Who are you voting for in November? I’m voting Democrat because I think lawyers should run the country, because the last two years under their control has gone so well, because the government has done such a great job with FEMA that they should also be in charge of our school choices, health care choices, and retirement choices, because they protect me from crime so well that I don’t need a gun, because I want to pay more taxes (especially Capital Gains), because unions need to be stronger against evil corporations, because trade with foreign corporations is anti-American and we need to protect American jobs, and mostly because I’m tired of having so many choices and want someone else to make them for me.

        1. Well played, sir. 🙂

    1. I think it’s been over a year since I posted this link to an essay by John Hasnas. But this looks like an appropriate place to do so again.

      http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj…..lsLike.htm

      Imagine continually explaining that markets function because they have a built in corrective mechanism; that periodic contractions are necessary to weed out unproductive ventures; that continually loosening credit to avoid such corrections just puts off the day of reckoning and inevitably leads to a larger recession; that this is precisely what the government did during the 1920’s that led to the great depression; and then, when the recession hits, seeing it offered as proof of the failure of laissez-faire capitalism.

      1. Thank you. That’s a keeper.

      2. The corrective mechanism is racist, classist and sexist. We must destroy the pricing mechanism to ensure no true value of goods and services can be determined. We will then say what is of “true value” and not worry about the consequences as it will be the market that has failed.

        I had to huff some glue to be able to write that.

  2. “The president has launched more than six times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush; ordered the remote-control execution of an American citizen; continued and expanded dragnet domestic surveillance programs based on a secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act; and launched two undeclared wars.”

    But libertarians didn’t complain when George W. Bush did the same thing, and that’s because we’re all a bunch of racists.

    I remember the Republicans hammering us for criticizing Bush Jr., saying that Kerry would be worse, any Democrat would be worse…

    Now, when the Democrats are taking a break from calling us racists for opposing Obama’s unconstitutional policies–just like we did when Bush was perpetrating the same crimes–they’re telling us we should be afraid of the Republicans taking over…

    Because the Republicans don’t care about civil rights like the Democrats do?

    A pox on both their houses. They’ll both use anything that isn’t nailed down to divide the American people and inflict themselves on us and the world.

  3. …the national security state has become a runaway train and that presidential elections are contests that determine who gets to pretend he’s driving.

    One wonders if a President Ron Paul would have been just pretending. You may end up a one-termer, but you can wrestle the bureaucracy under control.

    1. I think a President Ron Paul would have been unable to engage either house of Congress and would not have been taken seriously by foreign leadership due to his tendency to make bloviating speeches that didn’t have anything to do with the real world or his job or performance.

      In other words, I suspect that a Ron Paul presidency would have looked a lot like Barack Obama’s presidency…except maybe a little less wire-tapping.

  4. Incidentally, I’ll be as happy as anyone if Rand Paul wins the nomination, but the problem isn’t the president. The real problem is something that Rand Paul will never say out loud.

    The problem is the American people.

    We’ve become a nation of frightened parasites. We’re too scared to make choices for ourselves, so we defer to the government on everything, and our sense of entitlement has grown to such ridiculous proportions that anyone who suggests that people should take care of themselves is immediately denounced as an extremist.

    1. You keep using this word “we”.

      I don’t think it means what you think it means.

      1. The problem is the American people.

        We’ve become a nation of frightened parasites.”

        If you’re not one of the American people, then, yeah, I guess you’re not one of the “we”.

        I’m not a frightened parasite, but I am an American, and we Americans–as a group–have become a bunch of frightened parasites.

        The frightened part really accelerated with the Bush Administration–and their active elevation of cowardice as a civic virtue. Suddenly, people who used to be ashamed of being afraid started to imagine that pontificating about how frightened they were made them seem manly.

        “I’m so scared of Muslim terrorists, I’m willing to do ANYTHING! And all you libertarians, we’ll see how your respect for the Constitution works out when Al Qaeda has taken over the U.S. and made all of our women wear burkas!”

        Obama took the hand-off from Bush and added a whole heaping helpin’ of parasitism to the mix.

        Yeah, “we”–the American people. WE have become a bunch of frightened parasites. And those of US who aren’t frightened and aren’t parasites need to start doing a better job of calling our our fellow Americans who are.

        1. Alright, point taken.

        2. Obama took the hand-off from Bush and added a whole heaping helpin’ of parasitism to the mix.

          I used to wonder how the people of developing countries could sit idly by while the elites practiced cronyism and corruption at their expense.

          Realizing now that the U.S. experiences the same, I understand the complacency. It’s just the way things are.

        3. And those of US who aren’t frightened and aren’t parasites need to start doing a better job of calling our our fellow Americans who are.

          The biggest problem, Ken, is that the people have become corrupt. Elites are always corrupt; power does that. But that fact is mostly tolerable when the people are committed to limiting the elites’ reach.

          Unfortunately, because of the slow but steady growth of government involvement in every aspect of life, the people believe that all kinds of individuals’ property, labor, and investments belong to the people by right, just because they want them. And they don’t care whose property rights need to be trampled to get them.

          This is why I feel kind of depressed and hopeless about the future.*

          *Yes, I realize that “feeling hopeless about the future” may be myopic, as many before have felt that way about any sort of change. But I just can’t shake the feeling.

          1. *sits next to SDU*

            We’re fatalistic pals, us.

            1. Some days. But I feel better when I read Cato’s happy statistics.

      2. Inconceivable!

        I don’t think it means what you think it means.

      1. This isn’t about intelligence.

        It’s about character.

        I was working with a guy the other day. He’s so smart, he’s useless.

        I was talking to some civil engineering students/interns a few days ago, too. They were talking about how they’ve been used to being the smartest guys in the room their whole lives, and then when they intern, suddenly, they’re in a room full of engineers. …maybe they’re not the smartest guy in the room–outside of class–for the first time ever.

        How do they compete in that environment?

        Me, and the guy they work for, WE were trying to explain to them that how well you do once you get out into the wild isn’t necessarily about whether you can do complicated integration problems in your head.

        It’s about things like work ethic. Your ability to get along with and influence other people. Your ability to engage people honestly. Your ability to set goals reasonably and accomplish tasks. Leadership qualities that you were supposed to learn from your mom or dad–or maybe at church or from your basketball coach. Being the kind of person that engenders trust in other people–that you’re looking out for them and they can sleep well at night knowing you’re the one in charge. The ability to take responsibility for problems and to attract responsibility. The ability to inspire other people to do good work

        1. Even if IQ scores are still trending upwards, those kinds of things I’m talking about aren’t measured on IQ tests.

          And as a society, we’re not pursuing policies that encourage that “character” thingy.

          Quite the opposite!

          1. In the pecking order of engineering, CivE’s are only above IE’s.

            1. Most of other engineers will be lucky if a Civil Engineering firm will hire them.

              The best civil engineers hang out a shingle and start their own companies.

              When you look at the average salary of engineers, remember that you’re only looking at employees. All those CEs who started their own companies aren’t in that average.

              My understanding is that the training they deal with is often more intensive, too. My understanding is that you have to take more physics classes to be a CE than an ME, that some of the most complicated equations any mathematician ever has to deal with are the ones CEs master as part of learning to deal with traffic, too.

              CEs get a lot more management and communications training. That’s probably where the resentment from the other engineers comes into play. Maybe brains on a stick don’t understand what they can’t calculate, and since they don’t understand it, they don’t think it’s important.

              Getting plans approved and a team to work together is important. And why should a CE who’s spent ten years getting plans approved and teams to work together waste his precious time doing calculations when he can hire someone for peanuts?

              1. I think Mechanical takes more physics than Civil. I’m a ChemE that works for a Civil firm. I primarily do design work. Typically, only the owners interact with the clients or the public. I have’t run across any civil calculations where the math was challenging. Picking values when you don’t and won’t have all the data is the toughest part. There are ChemE equations such as in process control and distillation columns I would be happy to never see again in my life. But I suppose if I were doing t regularly then they probably would be second nature.

                1. One of the things people don’t get about civil is that it’s like medical school in that it doesn’t necessarily prepare for any one specialty.

                  You can be a water quality/environmental engineer with a CE–in which you’re taking lots of chemistry, a structural engineer with a CE–in which case you’re all about physics–a geotechnical engineer CE, a traffic engineer, CE etc.

                  But you have to take the classes required for all of them.

                  That means the guys that end up in water quality have to take all the physics necessary to do structural, and the guys doing structural have to take all the chemistry to do water quality/environmental. …and it goes on and on.

                  What type of CE you end up becoming depends on the specialties of who hires you out of school and what you do for the four years after you get your degree–before you take your PE exam.

                  My civil guy hired an ME, who was surprised the civil guy had to take Thermodynamics, etc.

                  The impression MEs outside the profession seemed to be that civil guys are doing land surveys like George Washington did or something. Meanwhile, the MEs are building custom hot rods.

                  1. Spot on. The civil PE exam I believe now has specialties (such as water resources). Environmental Engineering is sort of a mix between chemical and civil. We don’t do structural if we haven’t done it many times before – we check anything outside of our “area of expertise” with a licensed structural guy. Most Civils are really pushed to go get a masters degree where they can dial in what field they want to work in.

                    We do our own survey for projects but not register land survey stuff. Some outfits just use a Google Earth image and deaign on top of that…

                    The other variable is what the school actually offers. If the school doesn’t offer sewer/storm water design, you ain’t learning it in the classroom.

                    Yeah. I see MEs as starting a small business making optics mounts for firearms or as you suggested vehicle mods.

                    The chemical plant I interned at in college closed a few years ago. The paper mills in thos state that employ most of the local graduating Chem Es are shutting down. Electrical, Civil, Structural, and some Mechanical (HVAC) are teally where I think the long-term ateady employment is.

                    1. My understanding is that masters programs for Environmental Engineers are often enthusiastic about Chem Es applying.

                    2. There are a few of us ChemEs that really do Environmental. I’m glad I got the degree that I have but I prefer the work I do now over the “traditional” work I could have been doing.

              2. I went to college as a liberal arts major in a fraternity full of engineers, and I think your assessment is pretty accurate.

                Civil engineers were derided as guys who weren’t “smart enough” to cut it in the “real” engineering majors like aerospace, mechanical, or electrical. But most of the civil engineers I knew are still working in engineering and moved up to project leads eventually, while most of the guys I knew from the other majors either stayed at the level they were at or got out of engineering altogether to do something else with their lives (the aerospace guys being an exception, because there were so few of them).

                Being smart is only one skill/talent that leads to a productive career…and it’s not necessarily the most important.

    2. I kind of agree. Politicians want to get elected and reelected, so they will generally follow what their internal polling data says. If there were this big public outcry about civil liberties by 70% of the country, then the same politicians would be acting differently.

      But the truth is that most people want to be safe, and that most people don’t come face to face with the dark side of what they ask for. As evidence of this, most people still call the police when they’re in a troubling situation, actually thinking that this is a good idea.

    3. And in all other countries, the problem is the people there. It’s always people, & nothing special about Americans.

  5. defense lawyers at Guantanamo Bay actually formed a celebratory conga line, chanting “rule of law, baby!”

    If I had any hope left at that point, the conga line woulda killed it.

  6. The American citizen obliterated in Yemen was legitimately killed. He was an Islamist terrorist. If Reason doesn’t already know, we are at war with Islamist terrorism.

    1. You have to be the dumbest sock yet. Congratulations, you’re dumber than shriek.

    2. Yeah, it seems to me, too, that if Anwar al-Awlaki didn’t want to be attacked in a drone strike for joining Al Qaeda and fighting against the United States, there was an easy way to avoid that. Meanwhile, one of the few things the President is authorized to do is to attack any and all Al Qaeda (the perpetrators of 9/11) anywhere they are in the world–now and forever more.

      I happen to think the AUMF is awful for being so all encompassing and unending, and I think that someone–for love of all that’s good and holy–should repeal the damn thing or at least add a sunset clause.

      The point remains, however, that leaving the execution of Americans open to the arbitrary judgement of a president like Barack Obama is an awful and stupid thing to do–even if, like a broken clock, Obama happens to get something right every once in a while.

      Americans are accustomed to getting a trial with a judge and a jury and everything before they’re executed–even during times of war. There’s a Supreme Court case that came out of the Civil War, as I recall, affirming our right to a civilian trial so long as the courts are still operating.

      And while what Obama did, in this case, may have been authorized by the AUMF, it still demonstrates that he cares a lot more about what he can get away with than he does about being a civil libertarian.

      1. Abraham Lincoln had the authority to kill American citizens too. Why? Because thousands of American citizens were in open rebellion against the United States.

        There is nothing egregious about the commander-in-chief having Americans warring against the United States killed in a lawful act of war.

        I know what you’re saying and it could always be abused by a President. So, I too, think it is important to remain vigilant of our liberties. That said, if you’re fighting for al Qaeda in Yemen our commander-in-chief can kill them or mutilate them because they are at war with the United States.

        1. “I know what you’re saying and it could always be abused by a President. So, I too, think it is important to remain vigilant of our liberties. That said, if you’re fighting for al Qaeda in Yemen our commander-in-chief can kill them…”

          No, you don’t know what he’s saying. If you don’t see the contradiction in that statement, then you are a dangerous moron.

          1. Where is the contradiction? Be precise.

            1. How are you careful and vigilant about civil liberties while vesting one guy with assassination power?

              No indictment, no trial. Just sentencing.

              1. Thanks. I just….can’t anymore. With people like this.

                1. This one is especially bad.

              2. Because our armed forces killed an American who was actively engage in war against his fellow citizens.

                Get back to me when Obama knocks off Matt Welsh and Nick Gillespie while walking the streets of America.

                1. And he was actively engaged in hostilities by posting online sermons? Or is there some super-secret reason that the Judicial Branch isn’t allowed to know?

                  I guess he’s just a Baaaad Man, and I should be glad he’s dead. Because our Emperor said so.

                2. Get back to me when Obama knocks off Matt Welsh and Nick Gillespie while walking the streets of America.

                  I suspect if it ever gets to that point, nobody’s going to care about disputing your cognitively dissonant opinion because they’ll be too busy rioting and attacking government officials.

                  As someone else said, the only reason Obama isn’t doing anything like that is because he knows he couldn’t get away with it.

                  1. “I suspect if it ever gets to that point, nobody’s going to care about disputing your cognitively dissonant opinion because they’ll be too busy rioting and attacking government officials cowering in fear, and awe of the end game of a metastasized national security/police state, and its all powerful fascist overlords.”

                    The riots wouldn’t come until the people truly believed they had nothing left to loose. The oppression would have to be unbearable by even the most hawkish standards of the neo-cons and progressives for ~3% to ignite that fire.

                    “As someone else said, the only reason Obama isn’t doing anything like that is because he knows he couldn’t get away with it.”

                    He’s dipping his toes in the water… baby-steps!

                  2. Amen, Obama can’t get away with that.

                3. First Amendment only covers state approved speech?

                  1. The first amendment protects speech, but doesn’t protect speech that calls for violence against people. Awlaki’s speech was inciting violence against U.S. persons.

                    1. I repeat my comment. One person gets to decide whether it is speech and if he deems it isn’t so then bombs away?

        2. “Abraham Lincoln had the authority to kill American citizens too. Why? Because thousands of American citizens were in open rebellion against the United States.”

          Conveniently after the war was over, the Supreme Court decided that civilians have a right to a civil trial–even in times of war.

          Ex parte Milligan is the case I was talking about above:

          “The Supreme Court decided that the suspension of habeas corpus was lawful, but military tribunals did not apply to citizens in states that had upheld the authority of the Constitution and where civilian courts were still operating.

          It observed further that during the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, citizens may be only held without charges, not tried, and certainly not executed by military tribunals

          ….

          The President’s ability to suspend habeas corpus independently of Congress, a central issue, was not addressed, probably because it was moot with respect to the case at hand.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_parte_Milligan

          So, once again, as long as the civil courts are still operating, even civilians accused of treason have a right to a civil trial.

          1. If there’s any difference in the Anwar al-Awlaki (in regards to Ex parte Millian), it’s that al-Awlaki wasn’t a civilian.

            According to the AUMF, the President has the sole discretion to determine whether someone is Al Qaeda. Once Obama made the determination that al-Awlaki was Al Qaeda, he was no longer a civilian as we would think of it.

            If Obama decides that you are Al Qaeda tomorrow, according to the AUMF, he is authorized by Congress to target you with a drone strike. In that sense, once Obama decides you are Al Qaeda, you are no longer a civilian the way we think of it.

            We need to sunset the AUMF so freakin’ bad.

          2. Yes, I know this. Which is why I wrote that Lincoln ordered that hanging suspected spies should stop.

            Like you say, Awlaki wasn’t a civilian but someone who was publically on the side of al Qaeda.

        3. Which battle did al-Laki fight in, again? What was his rank as an enemy soldier?

          1. “Which battle did al-Laki fight in, again?”

            The battle of pundit ridge, during the cable news ratings wars..

            “What was his rank as an enemy soldier?”

            Sound-byte, first class.

          2. He was fighting violent Islamism daily battle against the United States and its people. Wherever Awlaki sat down was the battlefield.

            1. Based on what fair judicial verdict?

      2. Lincoln didn’t want people hung on the spot for being caught as Confederate spies behind Union lines without a trial. Which had been happening.

        Awlaki wasn’t a spy. He was a known Islamist terrorist.

        It’s also a possibility Lincoln was behind a failed assassination attempt on Jefferson Davis. The Dahlgren raid.

        1. It is known.

            1. How do you know that? Because of uncontested assertions by the U.S. government? Because of what you read on Wikipedia?

              Even the most mediocre lawyer can make a decent case when you don’t get to hear the other side.

              1. What are you talking about? I think we are seeing all sides here. The article is one side, is it not?

                1. You really think that crap you read on the Internet about someone is the same as a trial? That assertions (not an indictment) are the same as evidence?

                  Would you be singing the same tune if your worst nightmare became president?

                  1. d3x,

                    Awlaki was openly preaching jihad against the United States. This fact wasn’t second hand knowledge on the internet.

                    War is not prosecuted in a court of law, but on the battlefield.

                    1. So you are ok with killing someone for constitutionally protected speech?

                    2. So you are ok with killing someone *without trial, due process, or evidence” for constitutionally protected speech?

                      FIFY.

                      There’s certainly a case to be made that al-Awlaki’s speech crossed the line into criminal action. But the punishment for that is for a court to decide, not the President via a secret kill list that only he gets to see.

                      If you don’t understand the distinction, then you’re too fucking stupid to waste time arguing with.

                    3. My comment about being stupid was directed at Lyle, not d3x.

                    4. I didn’t take it that way, but thanks!

                    5. Most comments about being stupid are directed at Lyle.

                2. I’m for ending the coercive tax system and shuttering much of the federal government. Is that jihadist speech?

    3. Recruiting for Al Qaeda may have made that Anwar al-Awlaki a traitor, but I’m not sure that alone meant Obama could execute him without so much as a court martial. Traitors get a trial.

      When Anwar al-Awlaki interfaced with the Fort Hood shooter, however, before the latter went off, that very well may have made al-Awlaki a legitimate combatant. The president didn’t want to call that terrorism–because terrorism on Obama’s watch might suggest he failed to protect us from terrorism. But a rose is a rose no matter what Obama wants to call it.

      “In one of the e-mails, Hasan wrote al-Awlaki: “I can’t wait to join you” in the afterlife. Hasan also asked al-Awlaki when jihad is appropriate, and whether it is permissible if innocents are killed in a suicide attack.[65] In the months before the shooting, Hasan increased his contacts with al-Awlaki to discuss how to transfer funds abroad without coming to the attention of law authorities.[63]”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nidal_Malik_Hasan #Al-Awlaki_e-mails

      Sounds like Anwar al-Awlaki, as a member of Al Qaeda, gave support for a terrorist attack to me, and there’s an AUMF that covers stuff like that. I can see just as much reason to criticize Obama for failing to kill Anwar al-Awlaki given the chance. In Obama’s capacity as Commander-in-Chief, if he had the chance to kill Anwar al-Awlaki but didn’t? There might be a legitimate argument to court martial Obama for treason.

      1. That is the thing, al-Awlaki, wasn’t an actual terrorist. He was an obnoxious loud mouth mostly.

        I am willing to grant the possibility that if an American citizen is actively plotting attacks on Americans in a place where arrest is impossible or unpractical, the US could drone strike him. The problem is, even if you believe that, al-Awlaki wasn’t that guy.

        He was in a country whose government has always cooperated with the US and he wasn’t s far as I can see plotting anything. They could have easily had the Yemeni government police him up and brought him back to the US for trial.

        So even by the arguments made in justification of the killing, the killing still fails. The fact is they killed Al al-walaki because he was embarrassing Obama and they couldn’t make a case against him in federal court and they couldn’t get away with keeping an American citizen at GUITMO without trial. They killed him because they were fucking lazy and incompetent.

        1. al-Awalki senior, to be honest, I don’t shed any tears for. There was no reason to kill al-Awlaki junior, however. Even the government admits it was a screw-up.

          1. Senior was an asshole. Regardless, I have never seen any evidence he was actively plotting against the US. All he did was try to inspire other people to.

            But regardless, there was no reason not to arrest him. He wasn’t in a combat zone and the Yemeni government was friendly and cooperative with the US.

            1. Even Vietnam era US never bombed Hanoi Jane

            2. Regardless, I have never seen any evidence he was actively plotting against the US. All he did was try to inspire other people to.

              Both Tokyo Rose and one of the Axis Sallys were successfully charged with treason. So it’s not like there isn’t precedent. Nevertheless, I agree that arrest would have been the better option than summary execution.

            3. John, you are the idiot who was advocating rounding up and deporting all Muslim Americans here just last week.

              Some “Constitutionalist” you are.

              1. Are you trying to make a point about something, Palin’s Buttplug?

                Or are you just here to attack John personally?

              2. PB,

                The firstz amendmentz is for white guyz– not moo slims

                1. “The firstz amendmentz is for white guyz– not moo slims”

                  What exactly does the First Amendment have to do with any of this?

                  You’re aware that al-Awlaki was targeted by Obama for being Al Qaeda–not for being a Muslim, right?

                  And you also don’t seem to understand that John was defending this Muslim’s right not to be executed by the President.

                  Are you following any of this at all?

                  Does seeing some libertarians defend Obama’s actions and others defend the right of an Al-Qaeda operative not to be executed by the President simply beyond your ability to comprehend?

                  Ase you capable of comprehending real people making real libertarian arguments?

                  1. In answer to your questions:

                    Nothing for PBP (except that Awlaki was engaging it constitutionally protected speech). No. Yes. No.

                2. amsoc – guns are only for state-employed progressive tax system enforcers!

          2. Yeah, he was lily-white. I don’t particularly like the military or law enforcement, but I do believe there should be consequences when you pay for and encourage some Islamic moron to blow up a plane or send out death threats to people who draw cartoons. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/al…..recruiter/

            1. You are a socialist, you have wit. So of course you are on board with summary execution of people the state doesn’t like.

              Your name already told us that. Why don’t you just wait until 2017 when there is a Republican in office so you can come back and get y our “oh my God the president has too much power” on, instead of insulting our intelligence by claiming you give a fuck about anything other than political power and your team?

              1. I’m pretty sure this American Socialist idiot is just defending what Obama did–because he’s Obama and a Democrat.

                Obama is a disgrace, both as a President and as a human being–don’t let this idiot troll you.

              2. Would it cool your jets if I mentioned I don’t like obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan? But, you know, he’s preferably to anyone the Republicans have nominated, including “libertarian” wunderkind rand Paul, on issues of national security so I just will continue to vote for the guy who has reduced the military budget by 35%.

                1. Obama has failed and lied in every area .

                2. So, you voted for Bush?

                  On 16 November 2008, Iraq’s Cabinet approved the agreements; on 27 November, the Iraqi Parliament ratified them; on December 4, Iraq’s presidential council approved the security pacts.

                  1. So, you voted for Bush?

                    Libertarians keep telling me that Bush was the real hero behind the Iraq War. Hmmm, I’m still not convinced.

                    1. as – citation missing.

                3. [Obama’s]preferably to anyone the Republicans have nominated, including “libertarian” wunderkind rand Paul, on issues of national security[.]

                  How in the world is that? Last I heard, Rand Paul would seek congressional authorization before going to war taking kinetic military action against persons on foreign soil.

                  1. So the line in the sand for libertarians is that they want a president that will declare war on ISIS? Hmm, how about we just stay out of their internal affairs?

                    1. We want one who follows the law, yes.

                    2. Non-interventionist libertarians don’t want to engage ISIS in Iraq/Syria. Think you are either making stuff up or reading posts by one or a select few hawks that happen to post here.

                      Not sure I ever got the answer about how you justify using force to enforce the coercive tax system.

                4. I just will continue to vote for the guy who has reduced the military budget by 35%.

                  Bullshit.

              1. so I just will continue to vote for the guy who has reduced the military budget by 35%.

                I work in defense and can tell you right off the top that your number is bullshit. 35% reduction in budget? Fuck yourself with your Soviet economic statistics…they’re fabricated bullshit.

                Pity that Reason doesn’t have a block function like Facebook. Fucktards like you aren’t worth engaging.

        2. Like I said, no matter what the Obama Administration says about the Fort Hood attack, it looks like al-Awlaki was conspiring. Even if he’s only giving the guy advice about how to get his money out of the country.

          Meanwhile, he’s recruiting and fundraising for Al Qaeda, which is material support for an enemy of the United States that the President is authorized to fight anywhere in the world.

          Does that mean the President could drone Americans here in the U.S. if he decides they’re part of Al Qaeda?

          YES!

          At least, that’s what the fucking AUMF says–and determining who is and isn’t Al Qaeda is left purely to the discretion of the President according to the AUMF. …and the Court has been loathe to limit anything the President can do in responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief.

          Just because what the AUMF says is awful doesn’t mean it doesn’t say that.

          And we should put a sunset clause on the damn thing at the very least.

          1. Yes, he can drone people in America. If the Islamic State branches out and takes over an apartment building in Brooklyn you better believe our government will do what it can to eliminate them.

            Guns, drones… they’re just tools to an end.

            1. Tools of subjugation and terror, for the most part.

              I’m all right with drone use, as it pertains to an actual, legally declared war.

              Obama hasn’t really done much of that, though. And if he did it on American soil, it would be for the purpose of putting down an insurrection.

              1. The Second Amendment should be done away with then?

                Yes, our government uses guns and drones to kill our enemies. How stupid would it be if they couldn’t?

                1. Lyle- When guns are in the hands of the state they are used for subjugation. But 2A doesn’t address government being armed.

              2. Tools of subjugation and terror, for the most part.

                Um no they’ve actually been used by multiple countries to fight against those things.

                1. I meant as used on american soil.

                  Legit war dronings, yeah. Keep the troops safe.

                  Ours. Not theirs. That’s an important distinction.

        3. Can someone enlighten me? I seem to remember that, by act of congress, it was unlawful for the U.S. to “assassinate” someone. However, targeted killings (by name) seem to be routine now. Do you have to be a part of a formal gov’t in order to be assassinated?

          1. My understanding is that the CIA is barred from assassinating foreign heads of state–by executive orders.

            I think you’re talking about these three mentioned here:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E…..333#Part_2

          2. You are correct. Assassination is illegal.

            The Executive Branch lawyers claim that the AUMF negates that, and no one will actually challenge that.

            When Anwar Al-Awlaki’s father attempted to challenge the secret kill order, the case was dismissed because of a lack of standing.

      2. Obama is full of balderdash and our biased media struggles hard to call him on it. History will judge him appropriately.

        1. Hopefully historty also appropriately judges the rubes that gives him a free pass on murdering people for speech.

    4. The American citizen obliterated in Yemen San Francisco was legitimately killed. He was an Islamist terrorist defaming the Prophet Mohammed. If Reason doesn’t already know, we are at war with Islamist terrorism the infidels, and the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

      1. I think this gets to the heart of the problem: precedent.

        It is simply not ok for the Executive to claim “due process” is a meeting of the Star Chamber to decide your fate. Since that has already happened, it will be pointed to by the next president to justify similar actions.

    5. There’s this thing called a ‘trial’ that is typically at least customary to hold before killing your own citizen unless they are posing an active direct threat.

      1. Define active direct threat. It depends, doesn’t it.

        1. It does. Awlaki did not fit the bill no matter what reasonable interpretation you use.

          1. Drink?

            1. Why not?

          2. Oh, I think he did. And now he’s dead.

            Feel free to bring criminal charges against Obama and all the military folk who accomplished killing Awlaki.

            Good luck!

            1. You’re not very good at thinking. First, the onus of proof is on you. You haven’t even tried to fulfill that.

              1. Oh, you’re good at thinking?

                Awlaki was in Yemen encouraging jihad against the United States. So his actions constituted a continued and imminent threat of violence or death to U.S. persons.

                His talking was leading to violence against his own citizens.

                It would have been awesome if Seal Team 6 could have swooped in and captured him, but perhaps that wasn’t an option.

                Your turn to try and show the world how good a thinker you are.

                1. His talking was leading to violence against his own citizens.

                  Not proven. This is what that ‘trial’ is for.

                  1. It didn’t need to be proven because he was out and out preaching jihad in Yemen.

                    Did it need to be proven Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederacy when the Dahlgren raid was ordered?

                    Did Grant or Sherman need proof of rebellion before shelling Confederates?

                    Battlefields aren’t the same as they used to be.

                    1. So your argument for killing someone for constitutionally protected speech is “because 9/11.”

                    2. No. I didn’t even write 9/11.

                      If you aren’t aware, al Qaeda and others are actively engaged in committing acts of violence against U.S. persons.

                      Al Qaeda didn’t just stop trying to kill our people after 9/11, did they?

                    3. So al Queda is such a threat to America that we should discard all semblance of a legal system to fight them? Recall, too, that the “al Queda” with which Awlaki was associated was not the same group that was targeted by the AUMF.

                      That’s what I meant by “because 9/11.”

                    4. There needed to be 1) imminent threat or 2) a DoW.

                    5. There was an imminent threat and there doesn’t need to be a DoW when Islamist jihadists are actively engaged in violence against U.S. persons.

                      Look up and see if Thomas Jefferson waited for a DoW to go after the Barbary pirates.

                    6. Exactly my point about precedent.

                      The killing of Awlaki will be used again to justify even more egregious breaches of law.

                    7. Precedent is set only for a particular act. Obama didn’t set any new precedent. It just looks like a new precedent because of the technology involved.

                    8. You referenced the Barbary pirates as justification.

                      You are delusional if you think this doesn’t set precedent for extrajudicial killing.

                    9. No, I am not delusional. Attacking the Barbary pirates without declaring war first was not extrajudicial but within the constitutional powers of the Presidency.

                    10. Look up the Barbary Pirates, first, and you’ll see why your analogy fails right out of the gate. Here’s a hint: they weren’t from Barbary, NJ.

                    11. Is there a Yemen, NJ?

    6. Lyle|3.1.15 @ 12:33PM|#
      “The American citizen obliterated in Yemen was legitimately killed”

      Lyle, go ‘way up-thread. You and Cyto can jerk each other off.

    7. So aw-Laki’s teenage son, who was a US citizen as well, and killed in a separate drone strike after his father – he had it coming as well, huh?

      1. Yes, for being in Yemen and mixed up with his father and his father’s people.

        1. Does your poison the well judicial theory apply to say blacks? If one commits a crime they should all be punished accordingly?

          1. Of course not, because African-Americans aren’t al Qaeda or al Qaeda living in Yemen.

            1. Should gang memebers not receive due process and just be murdered by drone strike? Esp. Ones that haven’t committed a crime (except for being in a gang).

  7. Holy fucking shit; so this cretin Block Yomomma actually threatened to shoot down Israeli jets if they tried to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    I wouldn’t believe such an accusation against any normal American president, but it’s all too believable this this fucking turd would actually make that kind of a threat. Especially with that shady Svengali Valerie Jarrett in his ear. She’s probably a double-agent or something.

    1. Citation?

      1. He read it on Wingnut.com – or maybe heard it on AM redneck radio.

      2. Sounds like mark levin. I’ve become quite the connoisseur of right-wing radio and this just has his kind of bouquet.

      3. Looks like the report originally came from a Kuwaiti newspaper named Al-Jaradi. They claim that the idea to shoot down any Israeli aircraft flying over Iraqi airspace came from Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    2. Well, we probably did pay for those jets 😉

      1. Only the good ones.

  8. It seems ages ago now, but there really was a time when some civil libertarians held out hope for Barack Obama’s presidency

    Any voter that took a candidate that said “… the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal [from memory]” seriously is not living in reality.

    To show how out of touch I am, I thought Obama expressing that particular sentiment guaranteed his loss, which upset me greatly, because I would have crawled naked over broken glass to vote against McCain.

    Shows what I know.

    1. Well, I guess the average global temperature hasn’t changed since then!

      Of course, it wasn’t changing before that, either.

      1. But the planet is still warming even if temperatues haven’t increased. /derp

  9. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do,
    http://www.wixjob.com

  10. On inauguration night in 2009, defense lawyers at Guantanamo Bay actually formed a celebratory conga line, chanting “rule of law, baby!”

    THERE ARE A CLASS OF PEOPLE THAT ARE BETTER THAN YOU AND I. THEY ATTENDED THE BEST SCHOOLS. THEIR IQ SCORES ARE FAR BEYOND THOSE OF THE RUBES THAT TRAVEL IN OUR ORDINARY CIRCLES. THEY KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU AND ME.

    AND THEY KNOW THE REAL THING WHEN THEY SEE IT.

    1. Hi stupid,

      Is something wrong with your caps button? It always seems to be stuck when you tell us how much of a victim you are. For Pete’s sake fix it… http://www.geeksquad.com

      1. amsoc,

        It’s appropriate that you won’t address the monumental stupidity of the quote I was mocking. But since you seem to be well-acquainted with my posting style, it should be easy enough to find numerous quotes of mine that fit the template you described.

        Now kindly pull them in support of your ludicrous claim or shut the fuck up. Actually, shut the fuck up in any case. Everybody hates you and wants you to die.

        1. That’s not true.

          I want him to suffer, and THEN die.

          1. I want him to imagine the pain that would befall me if I did not pay my property or income taxes and refused to leave my property when the state came to forcibly remove me.

        2. Seconded.

          1. I’d be satisfied if we could just get him to stop jerking off into his own mouth.

            1. Jesus. Now I need brain bleach.

  11. It is bi-partisan for two reason; one the fault of our government and the other frankly the fault of the American people. First, America has embraced a zero defect risk free mentality. The American public has grown incapable of accepting that sometimes bad shit happens and there is nothing anyone can do about it and that sometimes there are not good choices. As a result of this, the political class first and foremost lives in terror of something happening on their watch and them getting blamed for it. So it doesn’t matter which side is in charge. As soon as they assume the responsibility of leadership, they immediately get as risk adverse as the public.

    1. Second, our intelligence agencies and national security agencies have no idea how to fight terrorism. Worse, to the extent they do know how to fight it, they are utterly handcuffed by political correctness. The truth is that vast majority of the terrorist threat is the result of radical Muslims and the way to fight it is to put the screws to everyone who espouses such ideas. But you can’t do that because that would be racist. We have to pretend that there is no cultural or ethnic or religious component to the threat. That Christians are just as dangerous as Muslims and no brown people or designated victim group is anything but a victim. Deprived of the obvious solutions, the political class goes for useless security theater where everyone getting on a plane gets rape scanned, the NSA collects every phone call made in the US (as if they would have any way narrow such an enormous amount of information to anything approaching something useful).

      We don’t have a national security state. If we had that, it would at least be effective. We have a tyrannical state oppressing us in the name of ass covering.

      1. We don’t have a national security state. If we had that, it would at least be effective. We have a tyrannical state oppressing us in the name of ass covering.

        IMO, this is as succinct and accurate as your “I’m not going to sugarcoat it, TWA flight 800 is not going to land on time” and “pot, ass sex, and Mexicans”. Well done.

        *Although, they are also oppressing us for their own enrichment, and to satisfy their control freak progressive nannying urges.

        1. “Tyrannical state”? Really? It’s bad but please there aren’t a string of gulags or public execution of dissidents. Yet. America is more likely to become something between Argentina and Detroit.

          1. It’s bad but please there aren’t a string of gulags

            OH?!?!?!? Figures an Illuminati Freemason Shapeshifting Lizard Person PROJECT MONARCH child sex agent of the Annunaki like you would try to deny that!

            1. He’s a Reptillian AND a Canadian? Well that’s just too much. Too much!

              1. A reptile that can survive cold = Argonian.

                Now you know my secret.

            2. You’re like a connoisseur of the best of the internet.

              I wished I worked for Project Monarch that would be right up my alley.

          2. It’s bad but please there aren’t a string of gulags

            Please, PLEASE point to any of the prisons in America, overflowing with perfectly innocent drug users, and tell me it’s not the modern equivalent of a gulag.

            Less breaking rocks, more brutal ass rape, same corrupt, torturous guards. Same concept.

            1. In this country, anyone anywhere can be put away for anything.

              The only way to prevent it, once you’ve caught the direct ire of the police or a prosecutor, is to buy your way out.

              So, we’re all just prisoners, living our lives in a perpetual limbo. If we step too far out of line, or piss off the wrong person, it’s prison or death.

              Click the “police brutality” link up above. Read a few. Those kinds of stories happen every day, and they can happen to anyone anywhere anytime for any reason.

              Your statement is invalid.

              1. Yeah, it’s just like the USSR. Christ.

            2. Less mass death. The gulags were essentially concentration camps where people were sent without any due process. As bad as things are in America, they aren’t nearly that bad. Please please stop embarrassing libertarianism with a severe lack of perspective.

              1. Yep. I can’t remember a single time where an american was murdered without due process by an agent of the state.

                Wait. . .no. . .I’ve got that backwards. That happens all the time.

                So they went from mass incarceration to murder. No, wait, we have mass incarceration too. For innocent activities that in no way endanger anybody anywhere. America imprisons more of our population than any other country in the world.

                The thing about it is, everyone here has to live in fear. Just because most of us are too stupid to understand that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. They have total control. I may be unduly pessimistic, but I honestly think you’re unduly optimistic.

                If government is a one-way ratchet, then this is never going to get better. I have nothing to be optimistic about when it comes to the future of my country.

                1. America imprisons more of our population than any other country in the world.

                  That’s bad, but America is still far freer than most of the world including China for instance. Yes there is mass incarceration for non-crimes but not mass incarceration for dissent, nor mass murder.

                  They have total control.

                  Not only are you unduly pessimistic you are pathologically fatalistic. FFS if you were anywhere near accurate no one at the Bundy standoff would have survived except the federal agents.

                  1. Oh, and pathological fatalism actually runs in my family.

                    So yeah. I’m still right, though.

              2. Maybe it’s because you live in Canada, Cytotoxic. Maybe it’s me being paranoid.

                I live in fear, every moment of every day. There isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t. The iron fist of the state is everywhere, especially in the county where I live. Illinois has made it their priority to fill Madison County with state troopers, mostly to write us sweet sweet traffic tickets. If they can hit us with forfeiture by “smelling pot” while they’re at it, so much the better. And, of course, if you get uppity or unpleasant with the cop at all, any number of bad things can happen to you on the side of the road. The last time I got a ticket, the officer threatened to tow my car out of sheer malice. When I questioned why, his exact response was “This is Illinois, we can do whatever we want.”

                1. Every single time I hear a bump in the night, I wonder if it’s a swat team breaking in the door. Doesn’t matter if I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s happened to lots of innocent people. The fact that armed and armored men with zero accountability can break down my door and senselessly kill me is a reality I have to stare down every fucking day.

                  I know for an absolute fact that I am only free for as long as I can keep out of their sight, or steer clear of their malice. One slip up and I’m jailbait. One word wrong to the wrong cop and I’m fucking dead. There’s no remorse in these people. There’s no morals, no sense of justice or right and wrong. there’s only robbery and pain and fear and death, waiting in the wings for any american who does the wrong thing at the wrong time.

                  So fuck you, cytotoxic.

                  1. Maybe you are a paranoid schizophrenic? There are lots of cures for that. None of them include voting for rand Paul, who wants us all to vote to go to war with Isis.

                    1. Yeah, that Rand Paul guy wants to actually make Congress do its job. What a bastard.

                    2. Good thing President Obama didn’t even bother declaring war on ISIS and just started bombing those ragheads !!!111

                    3. Someone suffering from the delusions brought about by schizophrenia would be unable to point to real, absolute, unabasedly true examples of the things he is paranoid about.

                      Want me to post a link to the reason article discussing the Chicago PD extrajudicial black site? You know, the one where the police can take a person and honest to god torture them without any kind of due process or reference to his god-given rights?

                      Paranoia is a word that is much maligned, I think. I have very VERY good reasons to be paranoid. Just because the chances of me, in particular, having one of these terrible things happen to me is rather low does not mean it cannot happen. The fact that it can AT ALL is what makes me paranoid.

                      A burglar, rapist, murder, what have you breaking into my home does not bother me. I am prepared for that kind of eventuality. I can continue to live my life after dispatching that kind of thug.

                      But the cops? What should I do? Allow the wholesale destruction of my property and take the physical abuse they mete out on the off chance they won’t kill me? Should I fight back? What do I do if I win? Where do I go? What would I do?

                      I have no options against an all pervasive enemy, capable of bringing to bear massive numbers and highly deadly military equipment. I have nowhere to run when they come for me, because they are everywhere. There ARE NO OPTIONS.

                    4. These things I say are absolutely true. Once understood, what does a person do? Ignore it? Push it out of your mind? Pretend it doesn’t exist? I’m a realist. I won’t lie to myself about the state of the world.

                      So I get grumpy and vent on message boards. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up. Given a choice I will fight. I will spread the message of freedom to as many ears as will listen. If they come for me I will expend my life upon them, out of sheer spite.

                      So no, I’m not what you say I am. I AM what cytotoxic says. Fatalistic.

                      It’s a condition, for sure. 🙂

                    5. That SWAT team likely goes away when the coercive tax system ends. Why do you support using force against peaceful people to take their wealth when they have not signed a contract accepting that the wealth be transferred?

    2. Hey john,

      Can I save your comment when you are telling me how important it is to liberty that we elect Jeb bush to be president over Hillary Clinton?

      1. You can save my comment anyway, because maybe if you read it enough times and think real hard, you might get your head out of your ass and have an intelligent thought about this subject. Or at least maybe you might learn something. That is a lot to hope for, but I am optimistic like that sometime.

        Let me give you a hint, you might be a bit smarter if you would try thinking about a subject and knowing something about it rather than spending your entire life seeing every issue in terms of politics. I am sure it makes you happy going through life stupid or you wouldn’t do it. But there is another way.

        1. Yeah, yeah… I’ve been to plenty of tea party meetings where people tell me they are sick of both political parties and, then, sometimes in the same sentence, tell me how great their right-wing douchebag congressman is. So, I’ve heard your fuck-them-all-but-make-sure-to-vote-for- Mitt-Romney bullshit elsewhere. You aren’t as original as you think.

          1. Tell me how Hillary is any different from jeb

            1. The botox is less successful.

            2. To be fair to Jeb, he at least was a semi-decent governor.

            3. Jeb has a bigger bush?

            4. She’s not. That’s why I probably won’t vote for her.

              1. Somehow I think you’ll manage. I believe in you!

              2. Who said this?but youll vote for warren or sanders who promote debunked and immoral economic policies

              3. You more of a Warren supporter?

          2. Original or not, I am a lot smarter and more interesting that you are. There is nothing less original or interesting than “BUSH!!” or “RACIST” or the various other talking points you cut and paste on here.

            I am sorry your stupid. You will never be smart, but you could at least stop actively trying to be stupid.

            1. I don’t think he’s *trying* per se, John…

      2. Jeb Bush is Chris Christie lite.

    3. It is bi-partisan for two reason; one the fault of our government and the other frankly the fault of the American people. First, America has embraced a zero defect risk free mentality. The American public has grown incapable of accepting that sometimes bad shit happens and there is nothing anyone can do about it and that sometimes there are not good choices.

      Depressingly true. I suspect it’s due to the fact that so many Americans are so divorced from the underlying real world (1% work on farms; fewer work in manufacturing than even 20 years ago; computer simulations look so real; etc.).

      We’re victim of our own successes, so it becomes trivially easy for pols to tap into the notion that you deserve a risk free life.

  12. OT: Could Jindal be a good choice for libertarians? Sounds like a better, more charismatic version of Walker in some respects.

    “I worry Congress is in the process of waving the white flag on Obamacare,” Jindal said. “It’s amusing, disheartening and disappointing to hear Republicans want to give up the fight even before it started. It’s been four months since the election, and they’re already ready to quit?
    “If they don’t mean what they said in November, they lied to all those voters who got them this majority,” he added.

    Jindal unveiled a Louisiana budget proposal on Friday to fill a revenue shortfall that has been projected at $1.6 billion, partly driven by the collapse of oil prices. It includes another half billion in cuts, which Jindal said means that the state is on track to spend almost $10 billion less next year in absolute terms than when he took office. Jindal also boasted that there are 30,000 fewer state employees than when he took power.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/…..z3TA0Heoya

    1. “Could Jindal be a good choice for libertarians?”

      No.

      “Jindal also boasted that there are 30,000 fewer state employees than when he took power.”

      And yet the state payroll outlays have increased.

      Again, NO.

      1. You’re going to have to do better than that. Some elaboration on the first point is required, and the second needs work too. Was that payroll outlay Jindal’s fault? Was it due to pre-set pay/benefit increases that Jindal couldn’t stop? Did he try? I am open-minded, but critical.

        1. It is a dreary sunday. I am drunk and too lazy to look it up.

          Jindal reduced the number of employees by attrition, hired a bunch of his buddies as ‘consultants’ and paid them the difference. The payroll went up and the number of employees went down. He looted the state treasury, plain and simple.

          ‘I know it is inevitable but not on my watch’ Jindal is the reason thousands are being thrown in rape cages today for having a forbidden plant in their possession. he has now decided to pound a bible for votes.

          I understand the desire to believe there is a good guy out there, but Jindal is not him. He is no one’s Libertarian. He will cut spending the same way Obumbles did.

          Ugh. Make the rain stop. I am going to take a nap.

          1. Points taken. Anyone care to add to this?

            1. I second that the rain sucks.

              Jindal too.

    2. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen Jindal paired with ‘more charismatic’

      1. Well, compared to Walker.

        1. I’m no Walker fan but he’s more charismatic asleep than Jindal is awake.

          1. You don’t honestly believe that, do you? Jindal has certainly had his share of gaffes but he’s a better speaker than Walker. And I say that even though I would choose Walker over Jindal if forced to make the choice.

          2. Okay.

  13. “Hale DeMar, a 52-year-old Wilmette resident, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor violations for shooting, in the shoulder and leg, a burglar who broke into his home not once, but twice. Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against DeMar.
    In March 2004, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 2165, a law introduced in response to DeMar’s case, with provisions designed to assert a right of citizens to protect themselves against home invasions, such that self-defense requirements would be viewed to take precedence over local ordinances against handgun possession. The measure passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 38-20. Barack Obama was one of the 20 state senators voting against the measure.
    Governor Rod Blagojevich vetoed the bill. On Nov. 9, 2004, the Illinois Senate voted 40-18 to override Blagojevich’s veto. Again, Obama acted against the bill.
    On Nov. 17, the Illinois House voted overwhelmingly, 85-30, to override the governor’s veto and Senate Bill 2165 became law.”

    “On inauguration night in 2009, defense lawyers at Guantanamo Bay actually formed a celebratory conga line, chanting “rule of law, baby!” They and many other Obama optimists woke up to a hell of a hangover, one that’s lasted six years.”

    1. There was never a time when Barack Obama was not very obviously what he is. He looked us right in the eye and said he was going to fuck us to death.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4

      The trained seals clapped and voted for him.

      They thought he was going to usher in a post-racial America.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEMZHQsQJ6Y

      Fuck every goddamned idiot who voted for him. Fuck them to death with a firehose.

      1. But suthenboy, the crease in his pants! THE CREASE!

        “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

        That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. “I remember distinctly an image of?we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”

        1. That is the dumbest thing I’ve read all day. Thanks, F. Stupidity, Jr.!

        2. If I watch more than five minutes of David Brooks and Mark Shields a strong desire to jump in front of a moving train comes over me.

      2. This. He means business, and he always has.

        He also once said on the record: “If the political winds turn ugly, I will side with the Muslims.” He wasn’t kidding about that either, as current news demonstrates all too well.

        1. He meant the civil liberties of Muslims here in the US, you dolt.

          Go back to Stormfront or Breitbart – where you find your talking points.

          1. He meant the civil liberties of Muslims here in the US, you dolt.

            Do you have the full quote?

            1. You seriously don’t think that the C-I-C killing the worst Islamo-terrorist leaders is a “sekrit Muslim” like the idiots on the right believe?

            2. Does Mike M.?

              1. “In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
                Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics…..TiC4UBl.99

                1. Context doesn’t matter to wingnuts. See also the “you didn’t build that” quote of Obama when he was clearly referencing the road and bridges he had mentioned just prior to that.

                  1. You do realize, right, that the people that really physically built those roads and bridges are Americans, right?

                    1. I always ask the Libs who parrots this comment who pays for this shit? They say the government as expected and then I ask, well where does the government get their money from? They either will stop and blather some bullshit excuse or if they are intellectually honest then they would say, the people. Then I follow it up with, if the people stopped paying taxes, could the government still build the roads? They then say no but follow it up with, we would still be on dirt roads.

                    2. And . . . government doesn’t even build these infrastructures. They FINANCE them and contract them out to private companies. As to the rich abusing the public by benefiting from them – they typically also pay way more then the average minimum wage worker in property taxes, business taxes, income taxes, and sales tax.
                      The people who spew this shit are the definition of moronic.

                    3. You do realize, right, that the people that really physically built those roads and bridges are Americans, right?

                      Quite a few of them contractors and not government employees.

                      Paid with wealth generated by businesses that the government taxed in order to get the money to pay for it. It’s not like the government even exists without businesses and individuals to fund it.

                      Barack Obama doesn’t understand that because he’s spent so much of his life living off of other people’s largesse that he thinks that’s how money works…it’s something that other people give to you just for being you and the government must be the source.

                  2. No employers are cutting hours because of Obumblecare.

                    *snicker*

                  3. And who paid for those roads and bridges to be built?

                    1. Taxpayers, of course. Not Wal-Mart who uses the roads. Remember corporations don’t pay taxes – they pass them on.

                    2. So, the guy driving the goods back and forth from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart. . .he’s not an American?

                      The guy running the warehouse the truck stations at, he’s not an American?

                      The people who work at Wal-Mart as cashiers, stockers, bagboys, cart-gatherers, janitors, management, etc. . .they’re not Americans?

                      The owners of Wal-Mart. . .they’re not American?

                      Or do you mean the building? The one built on American Soil by Americans?

                      You know, saying all that. . .I don’t get what you mean at all.

                    3. I didn’t bring nationality into this. Taxpayers pay for stuff – not corporations.

                    4. Nationality wasn’t my point. You’re talking about Wal-Mart using the roads as if there’s something about Wal-Mart that isn’t a taxpayer contributing to the roads.

                      Every single moving part of that retail operation is a person. Those people pay taxes. Those taxes pay for the roads. The only thing you seem to be angry about, actually, is that the pool of money sitting in a bank somewhere with the “Wal-Mart” tag on it isn’t being raided to pay for things.

                      It IS, however, being continuously doled out to build more stores, which require worker who pay taxes. It’s being doled out to store employees who pay taxes. It’s being doled out contantly to shareholders who collect dividends and then pay taxes.

                      It’s contantly being taxed as it moves. Do you not understand that?

                    5. Oh, I think PB gets it. He just has the pathological need to defend everything Obama says.

                    6. Do corporate executives and shareholders pay no taxes?

                    7. Do they pay property taxes?

                    8. On their houses, sure.

                    9. Wal-mart drivers are paying the diesel tax, which is used to pay for the roads (except in states where it is used to bolster failed government pensions).

                    10. Do Wal-marts in states with a sales tax not charge the sales tax? Please cite.

    2. The lower house of the IL legislature is the General Assembly, not the House.

  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no9fpKVXxCc

    *Puke*

    Where is Barfman when you need him?

    1. *Opens link, reads header*

      Yeah no.

    2. *barf*

      /assisting Barfman

  15. You had a choice in 2012, and you’ll have that same choice in 2016:

    Almanian for President – 2016
    “I Probably Won’t Make It Any Worse”

    1. Gilmore already had my stomach cramping.

      You’ve made it worse. I might throw up now. 😮

      1. I am here but to serve my fellow citizens.

        *gives RPM the old shoulder chuck and a nod*

        1. Hmmm, shoulder chuck. The absolute best cut of meat from a well-fed orphan.

          1. Paging Barfman.

  16. The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.
    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

    The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.

    Unknown source

    1. Paraphrased;

      “They are half baked intellectuals. No matter how much information you give them they cannot draw a sensible conclusion. You cannot get rid of them. You are stuck with them.”

      – Yuri Bezmenov.

    2. That about sums up our predicament.

    3. Amen to this comment.

      Living in Chicago, I had to go through Obamamania longer then most of the people in this country and it was tiring. I remembered listening to his speeches and his debates with McCain and the guy said nothing of substance. He did nothing of substance either. The community organizers I knew couldn’t really stand him because he didn’t do much nor did he take an principled stand but yet they were afraid to speak out because they would have been called Uncle Tom’s or racists.

      He was an empty suit and this was obvious in 2007 and 2008 but yet people thought he was the best thing since sliced bread.

      1. Keep in mind that any community organizer from Chicago is certainly fully aware of the CPD operation at Homan square.

    4. Elected him TWICE. TWICE.

      DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

  17. You bitter wingnuts can’t have it both ways. At least one of these statements is false:

    1- Obama is “radically transforming” the US like he said he would.
    2- Obama is Bush III.

    But the above comments indicated both.

    1. Or he is “radically transforming” the US while keeping Bush policies. Once in a while you’re not a complete idiot. This is not one of those times.

    2. Obama came to power saying that he would enforce the constitution. He instead made everything a bipartisan consensus.

    3. If you wouldn’t shove that plug so far up your backside maybe it would quit causing your very limited grey matter to short out.

    4. Bush radically transformed the US too…

  18. Oh, I hear retarded shrieking again. The false choices – and not acknowledging the both of the most-recent propositions could be true, which they are – increases headaches by approximately 8%.

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH III

    1. I think it’s exactly 8%.

  19. Bush spooning his new squeeze Obama. Slick’s going to be jealous.

  20. Smoking can kill you, says doctor. Let’s ban smoking, says government. Driving can kill you, says doctor. Let’s ban driving, says government. Tripping on curb stones can kill you, says doctor. Let’s ban curb stones, says government. Falling off houses can kill you, says doctor. Let’s ban houses, says government. Governments can kill you, says doctor. Let’s ban doctors, says government.

    1. Now you’re talking!

  21. they say that they cant change washington from the inside, but none of them ever tries to even when they are out of office.

  22. There are three avowed leftist posters on this thread, shreek, Bo and socialist. And none of the three made any kind of intelligent point or added anything to the conversation.

    Progs are flat out brain dead and intellectually bankrupt.

  23. Hi gene,

    Bernie sanders wants Saudi Arabia and other ME countries to take the lead in confronting ISIS. Rand Paul wants to declare war on them. Who is the peace candidate again?

    1. Yeah and those countries will not only do that and manage to win because Bernie says so.

      Jesus Tap Dancing Christ you are a fucking moron.

      1. Yes, John. And Hayek was also a leftist prog because he did not like you conservatives. Ayn Rand too. She hated your fucking conservative hero Reagan.

        Everyone not a conservative is a leftist to you.

        1. This is all these idiots have left; school yard taunts and the meaningless babbling of a congenital retard.

    2. The overarching point here:

      Many (including me) do not think that Daesh constitutes an imminent threat to the U.S. and that the job of fighting them or not should be left to those who actually are imminently threatened.

      Many others disagree.

      Maybe we should actually have something like a discussion about that and decide. Maybe, before sticking our hand into the next hornet’s nest, Congress should debate the pros and cons of this action.

      Rand Paul thinks we should have this discussion. You seem to think it should rest on the whim of whatever POTUS has the reins.

    3. What does letting ISIS run rampant in the ME have to do with peace?

      In 1941 the obvious pro-peace position was entering the war against the Axis.

      1. The pro peace decision was to stay out of WW1, which would have likwly not ended with such a crushing defeat of the German Empire that an extremist group couldn’t have risen to power. In the case of WW2, there was Pearl Harbor and both Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany declaring war on the US. You can argue the pressure the US put on Japan as well as making Pearl easier to occur but it doesn’t chanfe the fact that it did happen.

        1. “The pro peace decision was to stay out of WW1, which would have likwly not ended with such a crushing defeat of the German Empire that an extremist group couldn’t have risen to power.”

          A book I started with some skepticism (“Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present” – Simms) is based on the presumption that the control of middle-Europe (the various German states) is central to world history.
          It fails in proving such a grand thesis (and it is not an easy read), but the history documented makes it clear that the German states were *never* in long-term cohesion.
          WWI was nothing other than the most recent German push and had the central powers won, in all likelihood, it would have generated the same revanche that occurred lo, these many times, with German borders pushed back again.
          Wilson in his grand vision claimed to make the world safe for democracy (as it that were an end), and instead made it ripe for a worse war.
          Grand visions are always and everywhere suspect.

          1. Interesting. The book could have gone back to when the Germanic tribes defeated the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest.

            The US supporting Britain and France in WW1 was the US also supporting their still substantial colonial system.

            1. The book is better than its cover (forgive, pls) and it covers ground we all got in grammar/high school when they were schools. But it refreshes it and ties Euro machinations it to world activity.
              Was it on REASON? Someone posted wondering why the Kahns didn’t conquer Europe; the German forests don’t support cavalry, that’s why.
              Re: colonial support. See “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” (MacMillan). Dealing, log-rolling, Wilson in over his head. Again, a tough but valuable read.

              1. I am still intrgued that two shots from a .380 lit the tinder that became WW1. I was reminded of this when hearing that the Arab Spring took off after that farmer immolated himself.

                1. Chumby|3.2.15 @ 12:09AM|#
                  “I am still intrgued that two shots from a .380 lit the tinder that became WW1”

                  The Archduke was a candidate for the throne backed by the Habsburgs; his death meant control of central Europe was again open to question. None of this should be surprising; over the centuries, the Euros were at each others’ throats constantly over issues of no greater importance.
                  The US should have simply let them bleed each other until they learned not to do so.

                  1. I heard or read that Vienna didn’t really care much on hearing the news, suggesting that the incident was more used as a land grab by the A-HE than true retribution. I wasn’t there so I’m not sure…

  24. I read this book, and it was a real disappointment, even though I strongly agree with the author’s main thesis. The problem is, he simply states it, a number of times, and then quotes other people saying essentially the same thing. There’s no serious discussion of the historical record, or, really, any serious discussion of anything. In particular, the book overlooks the embarrassing fact that a majority of Americans reflexively endorse a “tough” foreign policy until the body bags start coming home.

    Glennen’s book is very short, and almost half its length consists of unnecessarily detailed notes, whose obvious purpose is to make the text long enough to constitute a book. If you want to read it, don’t buy it. Posts in Reason and the American Conservative will give you more and better information than you will find here.

  25. All this focus on Snowden, and meanwhile we’re getting snowed on & could soon be snowed in.

    1. It’s like a vowel war! Next “a” will enter, and we’ll get “snowed an avalanche”. Then “u” will have us “snowed under”.

      Y will remain neutral in the conflict. Like Swytzyrlynd.

  26. The truth is that Obama has very little interest in national security policy or foreign policy, beyond “looking cool” and avoiding bad press while he loots the treasury with his domestic policies. That’s why the bureaucracy is free to do as it pleases. This book seems to extrapolate this unusual presidency to the rest of history.

    Imagine for a moment that all our wet dreams had come true and Ron Paul became president in 2009 instead of Obama. Do you think that the national security policy and foreign policy would have developed anything like it has under Obama? Certainly, Paul would not have been able to roll back the security state with the flip of a switch — he’d have battles with the bureaucracy, battles with Congress, battles with the media, etc. Even in 8 years he wouldn’t have been able to extirpate it, but it certainly wouldn’t grow during that time. By claiming that the security bureaucracy is just too powerful for the president to oppose, the author is unjustifiably absolving B.O. and Bush II of their sins against freedom.

    The reality is that our electoral system has devolved to the point that nobody who wants to give up or limit his own power can ever reach the presidency. Big campaign donations, endorsements from other politicians, unions and churches providing campaign volunteers — none of these want a president who gives up power, they want a president who shares power with them. And all of them are necessary to attain that office.

    1. The interview insures who ever gets the job, shouldn’t.

  27. According to CNN =

    “Obama sees his mission as ending foreign land wars, putting the campaign against terrorism on a sustainable footing and honoring John F. Kennedy’s dictum that the United States should “never fear to negotiate” with its enemies….”

    Peel away the rhetorical horseshit = what does this even *mean*?

    ending foreign land wars“…really?… while maintaining a fairly aggressive attitude towards ‘intervention by airpower/drone/arming insurgents, etc”?

    “a sustainable footing”? = because the War on Terror wasn’t endless *enough*? what ever happened to achieving any particular ‘goal’, if any? That used to be the sort of thing ‘strategy’ was built around; not applying platitudes like “sustainable” to the process of ‘killing off people who present a threat’.

    “the United States should “never fear to negotiate” with its enemies”… aww, kennedy said that? Well then, it must be good. its not like *kennedy* got anyone involved in really long, stupid wars

    the statement presumes there’s a) anyone out there worth their word worthy of ‘negotiating’ with, and b) that there are any ‘terms’ are negotiable. “negotiation” is not an end in itself.

    I’m left wondering where the writer got this piece of PR fluff, and how @#(*@ idiotic they had to be to think it ‘sounded good’.

    1. “a sustainable footing”?
      Think windmills!
      “No war for batteries!”

    2. Vote for rand Paul. He’ll declare war against ISIS. That’ll fix ’em. I can tell what the first paragraph means. Bush had 170k troops occupying a country that never attacked us and Obama has 2k fighting alongside the pkk. The fact that you can’t distinguish the two circumstances means you are the moron, moron.

      1. american socialist|3.1.15 @ 10:24PM|#
        …”Bush had 170k troops occupying a country that never attacked us and Obama has 2k fighting alongside the pkk.”…

        Pick those cherries, dipshit.
        Pay your mortgage yet or are you still a slimy freeloader?

        1. Pay the mortgage? I’m still waiting for his defense of using force to enforce the coercive tax system.

      2. The President doesn’t declare war.

      3. ” Bush had 170k troops occupying a country that never attacked us and Obama has 2k fighting alongside the pkk”

        Oh, so its not unilateral executive authority to intervene militarily that you opppose…. its just that you like your wars *small*, vague, undefined, with a complete mandate to commit force as needed without the constraints of congress.

        I see. You completely endorse the Bush Era policy – its just a matter of *scale*

      4. also =

        apparently you’re so fucking ignorant of your own presidents policies that you think US forces are working with “the pkk”.

    3. “negotiation” is not an end in itself.

      Of course not.

      It is, however, a means to the end of open-ended sinecures for pubsecs and tranzis.

  28. “A massive freight train hurling down the tracks”, huh? I wonder whether that’s a typo by Gene Healy or by Glennon for “hurtling”, or whether “hurl” is becoming, probably originally by such a mistake by someone, an intransitive verb synonymous with “hurtle”.

    1. Because that’s not the 1st time I’ve seen that usage. When does a mistake gain enough currency to no longer be a mistake?

      1. When decimate began being used for something much more than just a teduction by ten percent.

        close proximity is also an acceptable answer. Proximity means close. You could have closer proximity. But close proximity is like ATM machine or LED light.

        1. And I’m always impressed when a particular view has achieved a consensus of opinion. I’m sure the people involved went to their ATM machines at 9AM in the morning and accessed their accounts by entering their car’s VIN number as a password.
          “Decimate” doesn’t hit the redundancy button, but yeah.

          1. Decimate isn’t redundant. Just a word being redefined.

            I thought you also liked prexisting condition.

            1. “I thought you also liked prexisting condition.”

              And “further review” is always a fave!

              1. I also like “hot water heater.” If you already have hot water, why are you heating it?

                1. How about a ‘smog inspection’?
                  Is your car making enough smog to pass?

                  1. Compare and contrast.

                    Compare means to look at likenesses and differences. No need to throw contrast in at the end.

        2. Decimate at least has enough ambiguity that although it is known to have originally meant reduction by 1/10, it could also be construed as reduction to 1/10.

          1. I maintain it got redefined by incorrect usage.

  29. It seems ages ago now, but there really was a time when some civil libertarians held out hope for Barack Obama’s presidency.

    Didn’t a bunch of (former) Reasonoids vote for Obama with this hope?

  30. You make 27 Dollar per hour good for you! I make up to 85 Dollar per hour working from home. My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around 45 Dollar per hour to 85 Dollar per hour heres a good example of what I’m doing more detail here….
    —————- http://www.jobsfish.com

  31. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,,,,,,
    http://www.work-mill.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.