Too Many Protest Singers, Not Enough Protest Songs

Freddie:

I don’t know how else it say it, considering I’ve said it a thousand times. I want my country to stop killing innocent people. […] And the innocent people we kill the most, these days, are Muslim. And the policy of the Obama administration has expanded the zone in which we kill innocent Muslims, they have shown no interest in stopping killing innocent Muslims, and in fact their campaign constantly brags about the drone program which kills innocent Muslims. That’s just true. All of it is just true. Obama is directly responsible for the expansion of hostilities against Muslims targets which result in the death of people who have taken no violent action against the United States. Voting for him cannot, does not, and will not challenge that reality.

I would probably object at the margins but in general I agree with Freddie’s assessment of the Obama Administration and the death of innocent Muslims.

I don’t like the drone program, and I especially don’t like that the whole subject of the global war on terror goes essentially undiscussed. Romney’s non-discussion of war was no accident – it’s the product of the same political discomfort Democrats feel taken to its political extreme. The ugliness and waste of the war, and the death of innocents, is something that most politicians believe is a political dead end. So if there was some way to get a discussion of drones, and war in general, back into the political conversation, that would be the first step in changing the political reality Freddie decries.  But the rest of Freddie’s piece, including part I cut from that quote, doesn’t get us there. It’s essentially a screed against a couple of liberal blogs and some imaginary kind of liberal, the nut of which is this:

This is the most elementary, most important point of all: there is no internal pressure for Democrats to reform, precisely because of people like Tbogg and the crew at LGM. Defenders of Obama lay down lines you can’t cross in every direction, shrinking the bounds of the responsible or the fair or the mature or the realistic or the pragmatic or the strategic… And then you look up and there is nothing for you to do. You become Paul Begala or you are a traitor. […]

LGM, TBogg and Balloon Juice commenters are not the reason that there’s no internal pressure to reform in DC. The reason is that Obama is the left extreme of acceptable DC conversation, for a wide variety of reasons most of which involve the DC culture’s perception of power.  Speaking of power, in case you missed it, Democrats got pasted in the last election because they championed the healthcare law Republicans would have supported a decade ago.  Here’s Freddie’s gloss on that:

Not that this will help them win. They’re Democrats, after all; they lose more than their share and then they making winning a kind of losing. It looks like Obama is going to win, and this will occasion another orgy of liberal self-congratulation and overconfidence. And then they will find that on issue after issue, they lose. They will lose on what the wonks consider “the serious issues,” the policy issues, the votes in Congress. But they will also lose in their broader goals of making the world a more just, equitable, and peaceful place, for the simple fact that they will mercilessly attack anyone who demands justice, equality, or peace. They will never ask themselves  if their own behavior is in part to blame, the way that they make the logical extension of their own ideas into a matter of shame far worse than the revanchist conservatism they say they hate. This is the privilege of the people who anoint themselves the arbiters of responsible liberalism.

Freddie apparently sees Obamacare as a “loss” rather than an ideologically disappointing yet politically effective compromise. I see it as the latter, but if he doesn’t, perhaps a discussion of how he would have moved single-payer through the Senate as it was in 2009 would be worth having. And as for the sneering about self-congratulation after the Obama election: if you don’t understand why there was a great celebration over his victory, then you really don’t get the kind of hard work and sacrifice that led to his election, which means your political judgment is suspect, to say the least.

I really don’t know how to have a conversation with someone who has a view of politics that is out of contact with reality in a fairly fundamental way. The 2010 election was not the result of insufficient liberalism on the part of the Democratic Party. It was the direct result of a politically risky move to go all-in on Obamacare.  Perhaps it was poor salesmanship of what should have been a popular reform that lost the 2010 election, but no matter: Democrats lost power, and the only way we get it back is to keep the White House, keep the Senate and get rid of the filibuster, and regain the House.

The “aribiters of conventional liberalism” look at the polls and see the reality that drones are not an issue that will win an election.  A vast majority of the American people support drone warfare in the Middle East. Hell, a recent poll shows that an almost majority of Americans don’t care if the police use drones in our own country.  Drones are not a politically relevant issue, and it wasn’t LGM, Balloon Juice commenters and TBogg who made that so.  All of those not-liberal-enough-for-Freddie liberals will vote for Obama because he will harm fewer people in the United States and around the world than Mitt Romney. That seems obvious, and if you can write a post excoriating liberals without even mentioning Romney, which Freddie did, then you’re going to get some static, no matter what people feel about drones.

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219 replies
  1. 1
    Patricia Kayden says:

    So where are the protests against the use of drones? I understand that they are a problem, but to be honest it seems that American Presidents as a whole always find a way and a justification for killing people overseas (Republican and Democratic alike). I guess one exception is President Carter.

    The other option is full out war, which is what I expect with Iran if Romney is elected.

  2. 2
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Is this the FdB who has the keys to the FP here? Why isn’t he posting that unicorn fairy stuff over here?

  3. 3
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Obama is directly responsible for the expansion of hostilities against Muslims targets which result in the death of people who have taken no violent action against the United States.

    Also, I may have been in a bubble the last four years, but I can’t really put together that equation and come up with “expanding hostilities.”

    ETA: Even when I keep repeating “It’s just true.”

  4. 4
    Peter says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: If it is him (I spent minutes searching that blog for some name other than ‘Freddie’) then probably because he knows he would get ripped to shreds here.

  5. 5
    SatanicPanic says:

    They’re Democrats, after all; they lose more than their share and then they making winning a kind of losing

    Is this even remotely true anymore? The 2010 election is looking more and more like a fluke. The Republican party is largely a regional party now, and has no positive agenda at all. They’re left with just obstructing whatever they can, which is a useful tactic, but one that Democrats can’t adopt, because they have to believe in the usefulness of government. The Democrats look to kick their ass again, and will probably continue to in the foreseable future.

    Also, anyone who doesn’t think the world is more peaceful under Obama than Bush is out of his gourd.

  6. 6
    geg6 says:

    I’m sorry about any civilian casualties in war, but the only way to wage war with the fewest casualties, civilian or military, is through the use of drones. And drones are especially effective and non-lethal to civilians in cases of asymmetric warfare, such as the type in which we are engaged with Islamist extremists. I want Freddie and Conor and Glenn to tell me exactly what kind of weapons will kill fewer civilians or what will be the outcome if we just ignore the extremists out there who have done and will continue to do whatever they can to kill Americans and citizens of our allies.

    I am not a pacifist. Liberalism is not about pacifism. The fact that Freddie seems to think that is so tells me he is too stupid and uninformed about what liberalism actually is to even discuss it.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Yep, that’s a straight up, Fox News worthy lie. To say that more Muslims have been killed under Obama than under Bush is no different than saying pollsters are skewing results to favor Democrats.

  8. 8
    Wapiti says:

    I’m definitely not a fan of the use of drones – they’re pretty damn close to a terror weapon. I’ll be voting for the Democrats.

    Mistermix is spot on – voting for Romney or a third party candidate will do fuck all to stop the use of drones. I’d even suggest that Romney in his first term would likely be more belligerent than Obama will be in his second term. Obama’s not running for reelection again and might tone down the militarism. I think Romney would use his first term to boost his military/foreign policy credentials; he’d kill more people.

    I think Carter was the exception in part because the country was coming off a really bad war and he might have thunk he could tone down the militarism (and when he beat Ford, even the populace might have believed that). He didn’t get re-elected.

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Are you guys pissed off about drones only? Or are you upset with the idea of war?

    Would you be okay with killing innocent Muslims if a different weapon were used? Are you against killing civilians or against killing people in general?

    If you’re just looking for a spiffier weapon, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want fewer civilians included in war dead, you’ll have to go back in time about a hundred years, to when fewer civilians were, indeed, involved.

    But if you don’t like war, you’re doing the protest wrong. There are antiwar activists out there. Go find them and support them.

    Dennis Kucinich is a pacifist. Did you support his efforts? I’m looking at you, mistermix and Freddie.

    If you didn’t support Kucinich at any time, and if you aren’t active in an antiwar group, how do you expect me to believe you have substance? Can you blame me for suspecting that you’re using righteous indignation as a turn-on and indulging in an erotic fantasy?

    Get real, or go away.

    Signed,
    A Pacifist. Yes, I do hate war.

  10. 10
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @geg6: Well, I am a pacifist in the abstract, realizing that I live in a world filled with weaponry, my pacifism is tempered somewhat by reality. That said, I do think we’d be a better nation if we weren’t dicking around in other countries internal affairs, a status that was quo long before Obama took office.

  11. 11
    geg6 says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Because he knows he’d get his ass handed to him if he posted that shit here. Despite his assertions that Dems love to lose, in pretty much every battle he’s waged against them here, he’s been the loser.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud:

    To say that more Muslims have been killed under Obama than under Bush is no different than saying pollsters are skewing results to favor Democrats.

    Then it’s a good thing he’s not saying that.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @Corner Stone:

    So when Freddie is talking about “expansion of hostilities,” he’s only talking about geographic areas. Fine, then that’s a worthless point.

  14. 14
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Corner Stone: Maybe you have an equation that explains “expanding hostilities” that doesn’t handwave away the Iraq War.

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    @Peter:

    then probably because he knows he would get ripped to shreds here.

    More likely because we’ve had this “debate” about dickety times here and it always devolves into the same 200 comment post.

    Mistermix knows this and is just putting out an opportunity to thump your chest and declare your fealty one more time before football starts today.

  16. 16
    Paul says:

    Obama is directly responsible for the expansion of hostilities against Muslims targets which result in the death of people who have taken no violent action against the United States. Voting for him cannot, does not, and will not challenge that reality.

    Then vote for Romney, then! And if you really think that would change what we are doing now, then I have a bridge you might be interested in. Hell, one of his main donors wants war with Iran for crying out loud…

  17. 17
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Baud: Except he didn’t say a geographic area, because “Muslim” is not a territory. It really is a sleight-of-hand argument.

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud: To you, perhaps.

  19. 19
    MBunge says:

    1. Let’s be clear about something. The bedrock assumption of complaints like Freddie’s is that there is no longer any serious threat from Islamic terrorism.

    2. The single most effective critic of Obama on these issues is not Freddie or Greenwald or anyone like that. It’s Andrew Sullivan. Yeah, that’s right. That’s because Sully puts Obama’s policies on drones and anti-terrorism in the context of everything else, including Obama’s positive accomplishments and the political realities he faces. He creates a space where you can support Obama while also recognizing the need to change some of his policies. Freddie and his ilk, however, define the issue always as “Freddie = good, Obama = murderous child killer” and you can only be on one side or the other.

    Mike

  20. 20
    Corner Stone says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Why would I consider hand waving away the Iraq War to understand what he’s saying is true?

  21. 21
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Corner Stone: um, because it’s *not* true?

  22. 22
    mistermix says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah, the key to an interesting site is to only post about shit that the readers don’t care about, and therefore don’t want to discuss. Shame on me for bringing up a topic of interest.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Well, considering that humans have been dicking around in other people’s internal affairs from the minute we dragged ourselves out of the muck, I really don’t think pacifism is going to work. Unless pacifists can figure out how to change human nature, there’s going to be war. As long as there is war, I think we should do our best to minimize civilian casualties, which is exactly what drones do.

  25. 25
    Baud says:

    @Southern Beale:

    You sure it was kids and not old people in Medicare-financed hoverrounds.

  26. 26
    beltane says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Yes, at least the similarly bratty Conor Friedersdorf doesn’t post here. As Patricia Kayden asked above, where are all the anti-drone protests? Why not work to build widespread opposition to the use of drones instead of of preaching to the choir of fellow purists? One almost comes away with the feeling that if Obama ordered a halt to drone strikes tomorrow, this crowd would immediately find some other reason why voting for Obama is morally objectionable to them.

  27. 27
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @MBunge: When did Sullivan become the person who’s carved out that calculus? Do you even read this blog? LGM? TBogg?

    Fuck, every person who writes about this topic prefaces their remarks with “Obama is not where I want him to be wrt drones/civil rights/whatever.”

  28. 28
    plosin says:

    Looks like all that protracted back-and-forth earlier this weekend about the perfect being the enemy of the good, and about how in non-unicorn land voting often involves choosing the lesser of evils, was in vain.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @Wapiti:

    Mistermix is spot on – voting for Romney or a third party candidate will do fuck all to stop the use of drones. I’d even suggest that Romney in his first term would likely be more belligerent than Obama will be in his second term. Obama’s not running for reelection again and might tone down the militarism. I think Romney would use his first term to boost his military/foreign policy credentials; he’d kill more people.

    Completely agree. Romney feels inadequate in foreign policy and fucked up his big foreign trip this summer, so he’d go all out to kill a bunch of people so he could fool himself that he’s looking manly and tough.

    Republicans really need to stop nominating people with major daddy issues.

  30. 30
    SatanicPanic says:

    The zone with which America has been willing to kill people in has roughly been the entire planet since the early 20th century. Shit, Reagan even tried to extend that to space. How Obama could extend “the zone” beyond that further is anyone’s guess.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale: Ha! I love that photo on your post. Hilarious. Stupid kids and their sign-stealing.

  32. 32
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I had a neighbor once that went around and stole/destroyed signs like that. He was a 45 to 50 year old white male.

    The act, of course, is very juvenile.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    Since Freddie is repeating himself, I’ll go ahead and repeat myself:

    The major reason the drone project has expanded is the war in Afghanistan, because we use them to try and target Taliban fighters who are attacking US troops.

    Obama has pledged to get us out of Afghanistan by 2014 and has a plan and a timetable to do so.

    Romney not only wants to keep us in Afghanistan, he wants to expand the war out to Iran.

    So tell me again, why exactly is it that the better choice for pacifists is to withdraw their support from Obama?

  34. 34
    Todd says:

    2010 was avoidable, but it would have required work on the part of the paid progressive activists to show up at the health care townhalls to push back the teahadis and to argue a lecture approach.

    They stayed home, and we got what we got, including the shitburger of that House cycle. The problem wasn’t the top messaging, it was in advocacy and education from the left.

  35. 35
    Paul says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    tell me again, why exactly is it that the better choice for pacifists is to withdraw their support from Obama?

    This is the health care debate all over again. People on the left didn’t get their perfect bill, so they boycotted the 2010 vote to teach Obama a lesson.

    Never mind that Obama got more accomplished on health care than Clinton and Carter combined.

  36. 36
    longtime lurk says:

    heh. “I don’t like the drone program.”

    Such a nice little sanitized euphemism for blowing anonymous brown people to bits.

    Oh well, whatever gets you through the day, brother.

  37. 37
    Josie says:

    This is a pointless and overdone argument. People take sides, declaim righteously and never change anyone else’s mind. Why do we keep having posts on this? Must be a slow news day.

  38. 38
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Let’s start with Freddie’s imaginary Democratic Party:
    Conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries the US participated in:
    1. WWI – Democrat
    2. WW2 – Democrat
    3. Korean – Democrat
    4. Vietnam – Democrat
    5. Gulf War 1 – Republican
    6. Serbia – Democrat
    7. Gulf War 2 – Republican
    8. Libya – Democrat

    If Freddie wants an isolationist party, looking at the record, he would probably want to go Republican. Now, if he were actually paying attention, though, he’d probably realize that Republicans seem to have daddy issues to get over, which are the wrong people to give a gun to.

    Freddie sounds like a Conor Friedsdorf: I have my one issue, damn it, and that’s final.

    BTW, I personally also blame the American people for one big reason: We cannot accept that we are not perfect, nor that no matter how prepared you are, you will not prevent every shooting, every attack, or every bomb. It sucks, and were it to happen to people I loved, it would be devastating, but the biggest reason we are heading toward a military state is this irrationality that one more camera will prevent something bad from happening.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, maybe it’s because I live in the western US, but I can see a whole lot of ways that unarmed drones can be extremely useful for civilian, non-law-enforcement purposes, like surveying forest fires in progress or finding lost hikers who didn’t realize their cell phones wouldn’t work in the middle of the Angeles National Forest because there’s no towers out there.

    But apparently we can’t have them for those civilian purposes because of the potential for abuse by law enforcement. Pretty funny coming from the same people who think heroin should be legalized.

  40. 40
    beltane says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So tell me again, why exactly is it that the better choice for pacifists is to withdraw their support from Obama?

    Tom Levenson summed it up perfectly when he posted the painting of Pilate washing his hands. It is a simple desire to avoid responsibility for anything. However, since this desire to avoid responsibility for the lesser evil can easily lead to the greater evil coming into power, it is reasonable to question the morality of this decision.

  41. 41
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Can one of these single issue liberals who would vote against Obama please explain how a Romney administration is supposed to get us fewer dead Muslims? I just find it mind boggling that we’re having this discussion. I can only guess that 99% of the libs making these arguments are too young to realize that they could have been ripped straight out of the 2000 Nader playbook.

  42. 42
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Obama expanded hostilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That would be the precise statement, and while getting Osama bin Laden was obviously a success, I indeed think that Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan was a mistake that led us to where we are now. (But it shouldn’t be a surprise: Obama outright promised to do this during the 2008 campaign.)

    And he got involved in Libya; that’s a more ambiguous case.

    But then there’s the contrary case of Iraq. And Iraq is so huge that it’s difficult to ignore. The Iran situation feels politically a lot more like Iraq than like Afghanistan (though it’d probably be an even bigger disaster to go in there).

  43. 43
    jwb says:

    Let me just say I think it’s much healthier to have this conversation about Freddie than about Conor.

  44. 44
    Fred Fnord says:

    This is pretty funny, and telling: complaining about the fact that Obama is the left-most fringe that is acceptable in DC circles on a web site where Obama is pretty much the left-most fringe of acceptable. And then going on to dismiss Obama’s critics from the left as unrealistic and basically insane.

    Obama always starts the negotiation process with bills that are already to the right of his stated goals. Then they get moved further to the right, until they are indistinguishable from Republican bills of 25 years ago. Do you really not understand that if he didn’t do this, we would sometimes come out with a better outcome than that?

  45. 45
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @geg6:

    Well, considering that humans have been dicking around in other people’s internal affairs from the minute we dragged ourselves out of the muck, I really don’t think pacifism is going to work.

    While this is true, I think not propping up shithead dictators, sponsoring coup d’ etats in our hemisphere and generally acting in ways that belie our commitment to Freedom(tm) would be a better approach. ymmv.

  46. 46
    General Stuck says:

    “loss” rather than an ideologically disappointing yet politically effective compromise.

    You see, this has nothing to do with core liberal ideology. The core ideology is near universal coverage for the uninsured, and regulation to protect those who have insurance already. The means to which you get there is whether the government does it, or we do it through a sweeping regulatory law of the private system this country is based on. Or, as I believe, Single payer is the superior pragmatic choice of delivery system for primarily halting runaway inflation inherent in the private system – and is only ideological for those who to varying degrees, reject the capitalist system as a matter of core belief. To take the position that single payer is the only means to accomplish core liberal progressive goals, in and of itself is within a stones through of belief in a Marxist system (not that there is anything wrong with that), and has nothing to do with small d democracy that is the foundation of the democratic party.

    There has been so much bullshit pumped out by left wing, pretending to be “the real liberal or dem or progressive base”, the past four years, it has become mind numbing.

    And when people claim that Obama is doing the same things as Bush, they are clowns who won’t try or can’t make a cogent case for such. And the things Obama does that are like Bush and maybe more so, are things he told us all daily he was going to do in elected in 2008 and are specific to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and anywhere else AQ is holed up. The rest of the bullshit on civil liberties, is either a matter of congressional actions, or superficial and conflation with Obama using tools legally that have existed for a long time, where Bush ignored the legal hoops needed to jump through, and was therefore lawless. Obama has done none of this kind of clear lawbreaking. But he is fighting the so called war of terrorists, JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.

    And to whit, the absurd claim that Obama supporters are giving him a free ride while bashing Bush for the same thing. A charge never in presence of specific example for debate, just lazy declarations and a hasty retreat by wankers.

    Most Obama supporters hated the Iraq invasion, but supported the Afghan one. And supported the effort to get rid of AQ, like most of the rest of the sane world. There is room for principled dissent on drone use for this purpose, but not the shit slinging of idiots trying to elevate themselves to moral superiority. I support killing AQ, I don’t support not doing everything possible to also not kill civilians. That is a responsible argument. The rest ideological puffery.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    As far as I can tell, most of the people who are so mad, you guys about drones are civil libertarians who worry about them being used by law enforcement here and they use drones as yet another example of how Obama is totally taking all of our civil liberties away.

    There also seems to be a different group that’s convinced that being able to more precisely target specific people for death is a bad thing because governments are more likely to hesitate if they have to carpet-bomb an entire area than they are to target a few people, but believing that pretty much requires you to ignore the entire history of modern warfare. We are, after all, the country that decided that if the Viet Cong were going to hide in the jungle, the best possible solution was to napalm the entire goddamned jungle to burn them out.

  48. 48
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @J.W. Hamner: I think the idea is that eventually we’ll build a noticeable constituency worth courting in elections that is against imperialistic adventures in the Muslim world, and we have to start sometime.

    On a very basic level of how democracy is supposed to work, it makes theoretical sense. And I think we do need such a constituency. The problem is that in this case the short term lasts a very long time and is hugely disastrous. Letting the worse guy win because the better guy isn’t good enough is a very weak democratic signal.

  49. 49
    Johannes says:

    Oh, this sterile hand-wringing of Freddie’s makes me crazy. When the President was elected we were in two hot wars. We are in the process of winding both down, thank God, with the Republicans complaining all the way that doing so is wrong.

    So the purists fix not on the goal, but on the means, as if killing by drone is somehow worse than killing by missile,bomb or machine gun. Because, unless you are advocating for pacifism or a return to person-on-person combat–retail war if you will–innocents are getting hurt.

    Thank the Twentieth Century for wholesale war, not Obama.

    Do I like this, or approve of it? No.

    Is Obama dramatically better than any alternative out there now? Yes.

  50. 50
    longtime lurk says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Can one of these single issue liberals who would vote against Obama please explain how a Romney administration is supposed to get us fewer dead Muslims?

    Well, if Romney is elected maybe people like you will suddenly rediscover the idea that dead Muslims is a problem we should actually care about and try to solve, etc.

  51. 51
    Peter says:

    @Fred Fnord: Whoa, there’s a canard I haven’t heard in a long time.

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    @longtime lurk:

    If Romney wins, we’ll have a lot more dead Muslims, so maybe you’re right. Vote Romney!

  53. 53
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Well, if Romney is elected maybe people like you will suddenly rediscover the idea that dead Muslims is a problem we should actually care about and try to solve, etc.

    And will be completely incapable of doing anything about it, just like the past decade. Whee.

  54. 54
    General Stuck says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The major reason the drone project has expanded is the war in Afghanistan, because we use them to try and target Taliban fighters who are attacking US troops.

    Exactly. And why we need to get our troops out of there.

  55. 55
    Gex says:

    @beltane: Ding. Ding. Ding. Gitmo anyone?

    @Violet: “Republicans really need to stop nominating people with major daddy issues.”

    That’s all they have. Authoritarianism is only ever about daddy issues. It’s actually sort of sad how the party of people looking for a daddy can’t help but pick candidates with worse daddy issues.

  56. 56
    piratedan says:

    I guess the question is, what would you do in place of drones? Return to the cold war methods of training and inserting assassins to do the deed instead? Perhaps bring Al Qeida to the negotiating table? Ignore them and hope they go away?

    Just saying that it’s a situation that doesn’t have an easy answer and there needs to be some thought given to how we repair/reconcile how we deal with Islam and Arab nationalism and Democracy. Bengazi should be ample reminder that there are folks that will be happy to do our citizens harm at a moments notice.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Well, if Romney is elected maybe people like you will suddenly rediscover the idea that dead Muslims is a problem we should actually care about and try to solve, etc.

    If Obama is re-elected, his timetable will have us out of Afghanistan in 2014, which will greatly reduce the number of drone bombings since the vast majority of them are happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    So why is your position that the bombings should not only continue but escalate under President Romney because President Obama is unworthy of your vote because he’s not stopping them fast enough the more moral one, again?

  58. 58
    longtime lurk says:

    @piratedan:

    I guess the question is, what would you do in place of drones?

    Are you being intentionally dense, or do you really think that people are objecting to the way we are killing innocent people rather than the fact we are killing them at all?

  59. 59
    geg6 says:

    @Fred Fnord:

    Yeah, because all those GOPers in Congress will suddenly be ashamed of themselves and pass whatever the prez says. And then the lion will lay down with the lamb and dogs and cats will live together and the world will be hunky dory in our progressive paradise.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @General Stuck:

    Yep. And only one candidate has a plan to do that. The other one wants us to stay there indefinitely.

    And yet the candidate who has an actual plan for us to leave Afghanistan is the one Freddie opposes.

  61. 61
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @longtime lurk: Yep, cause there were so many fewer dead Muslims during Bush 2 because we were concerned.

  62. 62
    piratedan says:

    @longtime lurk: ahhh so you believe that if we simply do nothing the problem will just go away…. and you’re accusing me of being dense?

  63. 63
    geg6 says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Yeah! Humans are never interested in killing other humans! It’s all because Obama and his supporters forces them to that they do! If they would just stop, there would be no more killing, ever!

  64. 64
    Spatula says:

    An excellent reminder that I need to be reading Freddie much more frequently as a useful antidote against my addiction to Balloon Juice and the Bots whom John has allowed to dominate discussion here.

  65. 65
    longtime lurk says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So why is your position that the bombings should not only continue but escalate under President Romney because President Obama is unworthy of your vote because he’s not stopping them fast enough the more moral one, again?

    “Stopping them fast enough”? There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama is trying to stop them at all. And it is far from certain that Romney would escalate it. Prior to 2009, would you have though things would escalate under Obama? No one knows this.

    But my point in the comment above is that if this whole death machine were being run by Republicans, at least the people here (and mostly likely the rest of the Dem establishment) would go back to challenging it at least as much as they did under Bush. I’m not optimistic that this would be successful, but I believe it is better than the status quo, where only a tiny minority speak up against it, and then we are immediately hippie-punched from all sides.

  66. 66
    longtime lurk says:

    @piratedan:

    What problem are you referring to?

  67. 67
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Spatula: trololololololol

  68. 68
    Kerry Reid says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Carter took heat for turning his head during the South Korean Kwangju Massacre.

  69. 69
    MBunge says:

    @longtime lurk: “do you really think that people are objecting to the way we are killing innocent people rather than the fact we are killing them at all?”

    Considering that the anti-drone people UTTERLY REFUSE to compare the impact of drone attacks on civilians with other military anti-terrorism options and that the anti-drone people are largely the same exact group complaining about the killing of Anwar al Awlaki who framed it almost exclusively in terms of him having a U.S. birth certificate, there’s nothing wrong with noting their obsession with process.

    Mike

  70. 70
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The major reason the drone project has expanded is the war in Afghanistan, because we use them to try and target Taliban fighters who are attacking US troops

    We have drones targeting the Afghan Army?

    Oh, and “the drone project” ? Talk about people washing their hands.

  71. 71
    jayackroyd says:

    Democrats got pasted in the last election because they championed the healthcare law Republicans would have supported a decade ago

    Democrats got pasted because they didn’t change any fucking thing. We’ve had three straight throw out the bums elections–votes against incumbents–because life needlessly sucks for ordinary Americans, because their assets were stripped, their wages are shrinking and the prospect for their kids is awful.

    They got pasted especially because their flagship promised that things would change. And, no, making them buy crappy health insurance from monopolists who are going to fuck them over doesn’t constitute “change.”

  72. 72
    Marc says:

    “Obama is directly responsible for the expansion of hostilities against Muslims targets which result in the death of people who have taken no violent action against the United States. Voting for him cannot, does not, and will not challenge that reality.”

    Neither will withholding your precious vote, Freddie. It might keep your soul pure and absolve you of any of the ugly responsibilities of effecting political change, but it will also make it incrementally easier for the candidate who proposes even more war and even more civilian deaths to win your state.

    But perhaps Freddie knows Romney isn’t going to win his state. Because this…?

    “It looks like Obama is going to win, and this will occasion another orgy of liberal self-congratulation and overconfidence.”

    I would also say that it looks like the possibility of Obama’s victory is occasioning another orgy of teetotaler progressive self-congratulation, and it is born precisely out of that confidence that Obama will get by just fine without them. It’s easy to withhold your virginal vote when you suspect it isn’t going to matter anyway.

    Nader 2012!

  73. 73
    rlrr says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Prior to 2009, would you have though things would escalate under Obama? No one knows this.

    Yes, he pretty much said he would escalate in Afghanistan during hist campaign…

  74. 74
    Nick says:

    So drones are just one thing, Obama has been terrible wrt like 17 different issues.

    Still Romney is even worse on each of the same 17 topics.

    I live in Massachusetts and will vote for Jill Stein.

    Are there any arguments against that?

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @longtime lurk:

    There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama is trying to stop them at all.

    You mean other than the fact that we’re leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014, right? Or are you under the impression that we’re using drones in Af/Pak for shits and giggles rather than to try and protect the US troops who are currently in Afghanistan and will continue using them at the same rate once those troops are gone?

    But my point in the comment above is that if this whole death machine were being run by Republicans, at least the people here (and mostly likely the rest of the Dem establishment) would go back to challenging it at least as much as they did under Bush.

    The reason people aren’t challenging Obama more is that there is a withdrawal plan in place for Afghanistan. We have already left Iraq, and we have a firm plan to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Is your argument that we should be challenging the tactics we use prior to that withdrawal? Are we supposed to be pushing for an earlier withdrawal? What is it that you’re asking for?

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Nick:

    So drones are just one thing, Obama has been terrible wrt like 17 different issues.

    Finally, a precise number. Please name all 17 issues that you disagree with Obama on.

  77. 77
    Liberty60 says:

    Obama is the left extreme of acceptable DC conversation

    This was pretty much my response to anyone who attacks Obama from the left; That your problem isn’t with Obama, it is with the American people.

    Further, it isn’t Obama who has failed, its the anti-war faction for not being successful in persuading the American people to change their minds.

    Successful movement make their case to the people, and mobilize, organize, and build from below. They don’t sulk and sabotage their near allies.

  78. 78
    jayackroyd says:

    @MBunge:

    The reason people who think it’s bad foreign policy to kill innocent people overseas isn’t grounded in citizenship. The people who make the argument regarding citizenship are seeking to make a broader point. GG doesn’t say it’s okay to kill foreign nationals when he says that they’re even willing to kill Americans. He’s trying to persuade you that you should be deeply concerned about YOUR government when it routinely kills people, not in war, not through any kind of judicial process, but via executive fiat. When he says they’re even doing this to American citizens who have clearly delineated rights of due process, he’s trying to make you understand just how fucking beyond the pale our government has gone.

  79. 79
    jayackroyd says:

    @Liberty60:

    That claim is charming but hard to support. See, for instance, Kevin Baker’s piece in this month’s Harper’s.

  80. 80
    Emma says:

    @Nick: I live in Massachusetts and will vote for Jill Stein.

    More power to you. Now, what are you REALLY doing to move the conversation to the left, other than sitting at your laptop on a Sunday afternoon and patting yourself publicly on the back for your purity?

  81. 81
    leo from Chicago says:

    @geg6: “I want Freddie and Conor and Glenn to tell me exactly…”

    Exactly. I was thinking the traditional alternative for dealing with armed foreign threats was to institute a draft, build up the army with 18-24 yr olds and then send them over instead. Bringing back the draft — that’s probably what Glenn et al. are talking about as an alternative.

  82. 82

    @jayackroyd:
    We get it. Noble goals.

    But how, exactly, does a vote for a Ralph Nader or a Jill Stein accomplish any of that?

  83. 83
    Violet says:

    @leo from Chicago: I’d be for a draft if there were zero exceptions for children of elected officials. And no cushy desk jobs–they all get sent to the front lines.

  84. 84
    Todd says:

    @jayackroyd:

    This gets into the gun fetishist view of the Constimatooshin and gold fringed flags – that somehow, every violent asshole has an unfettered due process right to conduct an armed standoff or a right to remain sequestered out of reach, and the government isn’t allowed to blow his ass away as is deserved.

    Fuck you, fuck Mumia, and fuck Awlaki’s junior terrorist in training.

  85. 85
    Todd says:

    @leo from Chicago:

    However, don’t expect Greenwald to put his ass on the line.

  86. 86
    Corner Stone says:

    @longtime lurk:

    or do you really think that people are objecting to the way we are killing innocent people rather than the fact we are killing them at all?

    There are two standard dodges on this issue.
    1. Romney! (or insert any nebulous Republican person or institution)
    2. Would you rather endanger the troops?!
    This one tries to lever you into accepting the premise we “have” to do something, or else. Then you either must accept en toto the policy supporting the use of drones or you want troops killed and are objectively pro-terrorist.

    The new one I’ve seen trotted out is frankly baffling. It’s the one that says, “We could have a frank discussion on drones but YOU won’t let us!”.

  87. 87
    dmbeaster says:

    @geg6:

    And drones are especially effective and non-lethal to civilians in cases of asymmetric warfare, such as the type in which we are engaged with Islamist extremists.

    You need to rethink this. Drones are no better than airstrikes, which have a rather poor record in targeting terrorists rather than civilians. If anything, drones seemed to be used more wantonly, and therefore end up with a poorer record when it comes to killing civilians.

    Drones are ideal only in the sense that they put no Americans immediately at risk in order to bomb Muslims. As a long term tactic to deal with terrorism, they are weak tea, and likely to be seriously misused because they are an alleged no-risk option.

  88. 88
    jayackroyd says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    Actually, as I said in an earlier thread, professionals analyzing voting patterns look for white lines–lines where a vote isn’t cast or cast for a third party. And of course (see Joe Sudbay) there’s plenty we can do outside the voting booth.

    But leave that aside. What would it take for you to say “I just can’t vote for this guy.”? What is the issue that wouldn’t let you hold your nose and cast the ballot? I get that it’s not the killing of innocent people in far away lands. I get that it’s not the terror that is engendered by the sound of killer flying robots constantly overhead. So what would it be? I even get that you might believe that killing these innocent people might somehow make you safer from, I dunno what, but it seems to me that you’re drifting into crazyland if you believe that, and that, if anything, these policies are making you less safe.

    But seriously, what would it take? What position could Obama, or your local Congresscritter take that would lead you to say “Fuck that. I’m out. I’m not voting for anyone who holds that position.”?

  89. 89
    jayackroyd says:

    @Todd:

    You do see the irony in this post, right?

  90. 90
    Irony Abounds says:

    Can someone please explain to me a coherent liberal viewpoint on how to get the terrorists to stop, well, terrorizing? I understand the concept of blowback, but still, if the drone program just stopped, and the US simply departs from Afghanistan, does anyone really believe the terrorists will stop killing people? I agree wholeheartedly that the vast majority of Muslims aren’t terrorists, but the ones who are are completely batshit crazy, not to mention horribly evil people. Does anyone realistically believe they will all just go away if we stop targeting them?

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dmbeaster:

    Drones are no better than airstrikes, which have a rather poor record in targeting terrorists rather than civilians. If anything, drones seemed to be used more wantonly, and therefore end up with a poorer record when it comes to killing civilians.

    I think you have a rather poor idea of how many people airstrikes can kill if you think drones kill more people than airstrikes do. Cluster bombs kill fewer people than drones?

  92. 92
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: Apparently if the West just left them all alone everything would be sunshine and rainbows in the Middle East. Until Kashmir heats up again. Or there’s another bombing of a train in Madrid.

  93. 93
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jayackroyd:

    What position could Obama, or your local Congresscritter take that would lead you to say “Fuck that. I’m out. I’m not voting for anyone who holds that position.”?

    Speaking for myself, it would be the Democratic candidate taking a hard-line anti-abortion position. Because that would not mean several hundred people being killed overseas every year, but millions of American women suffering and dying every year right here in the United States.

    But, then, I think we’ve already agreed that I am a narrow-minded moral midget because I’m voting for Obama due to the 45,000 Americans who die every year in this country because they lack health insurance instead of the 400 people on average who have died in drone attacks every year since 2001 (drone numbers derived from the highest estimate in that Arthur Silber article you linked to in another thread).

  94. 94
    dmbeaster says:

    The problem with drones is no different from shelling across the border to kill terrorists. Are artillery pieces inherently bad? No, but we recognize that shelling tends to be somewhat indiscriminate (though with modern technology very accurate). Drones are not all that much better. It comes down to really good intel about the target, and what you are killing. Drones are not some magic bullet that surgically just kill terrorists. It is just another form of ordinance that delivers explosives to a precise point. Whether or not blowing up selected points is really accomplishing your mission is solely a function of intel. Bombing civilian areas, without regard to the platform for delivering the ordinance, is a highly troubling thing that is going to kill a lot of civilians except in unusual situations.

    Engaging in war and killing is an inherently evil thing no matter what your justification or good cause. You are still killing people, and making a judgment call that the degree of evil is worth it. How you go about killing matters a lot in making that calculation. Drones are not a magic bullet, and are particularly likely to cause misperceptions about their use.

    Another analogy – if a seal team such as the bin Laden squad helicoptered in, sprayed gunfire all around and killed the terrorists plus a dozen civilians, would we think of that as a success? But that is basically what drones are doing.

  95. 95
    dmbeaster says:

    @Mnemosyne: You are wrong. An airstrike that delivers one hellfire missile, just like a drone, is going to have the same outcome. Yes, airstrikes can also involve large numbers of aircraft delivering very different types of ordinance and much more of it, but you are then just meaninglessly comparing apples to oranges.

  96. 96
    Corner Stone says:

    @Yutsano: Wow.

  97. 97
    jayackroyd says:

    @leo from Chicago:

    I’ve always believed that one reason the US abolished the draft was to serve as a firewall against another Viet Nam–to make it impossible for a president to engage in a war without broad public support.

    It never occurred to me that they’d call up the reserves and the national guard to active duty to conduct a war of choice.

    It kinda astounds me to see people putatively on the left defending these wars of choice. There is no security threat here–the US is not at risk from Afghanistan, Iraq or any of the other states the US is currently engaged militarily. To the degree there is any risk, it comes from nearly powerless stateless groups who have proven to be ineffective. (Yes, I know, 9/11.)

    So when you say “Hey asshole, do you wanna have us draft your ass?” I get confused. For what? There’s no threat. There’s no reason for a trillion dollar defense budget. There’s no reason to be fully mobilized. There isn’t any enemy. Sure, there are stateless organizations who want to do Americans harm, but 1) they target us because of that 1 trillion dollar defense budget and 2) their idea of attacking the US is setting a guy’s pants on fire.

    So, yeah, on the eve of the debates where my representative, the interlocuting tough journalist, will be asking probing questions, I want one of them to be “Why the fuck are we killing innocent people with drone strikes?” So I think we should make we should make a fuss about this.

  98. 98
    jayackroyd says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You do know that the Senate Majority Leader, the senior Democrat, holds that position, right?

  99. 99
    MattR says:

    @jayackroyd:

    But seriously, what would it take? What position could Obama, or your local Congresscritter take that would lead you to say “Fuck that. I’m out. I’m not voting for anyone who holds that position.”?

    Sadly, because the alternative is Romney and the modern Republican party, I can’t think of a single thing that Obama could do to cost me his vote, no matter how abhorrent that thing is.

  100. 100
    LTMidnight says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Prior to 2009, would you have though things would escalate under Obama? No one knows this.

    Were you under a rock in 2007 when Obama promised to take the fight to Al-Qaeda?

  101. 101
    Chris Andersen says:

    What gets me every time is the insistence that drones (or any other issue) be the political issue we discuss without explaining why it should be the political issue we discuss. Yes, they do a pretty good job of explaining why it is an important issue. But they don’t go on to to explain why it should be an important *political* issue. And by that I mean they don’t explain why politicians should spend their time discussing it when all the evidence shows that it is a political loser.

    They want the moral to be equivalent to the political and insist that the only reason it isn’t is because “certain people” work so hard to make it not so. No, the reason it isn’t the political issue you want it to be is because it *isn’t* the political issue you want it to be. Just because you want it and believe it doesn’t mean it will be so.

    If you want drones to be an important political issue in this or any other election then the onus is on you to *make* it an important political issue. And you do that by convincing voters that they really should care about it. But instead you waste your (and our) time by trying to convince politicians to act on something that the politics tells them is a loser.

    You want politicians to act on drones? Then make the drone issue a political winner and I guarantee you that politicians will start acting on it. Why? Because that’s what politicians do!

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dmbeaster:

    An airstrike that delivers one hellfire missile, just like a drone, is going to have the same outcome.

    How often do we send out an airplane to discharge a single hellfire missile?

    Yes, airstrikes can also involve large numbers of aircraft delivering very different types of ordinance and much more of it, but you are then just meaninglessly comparing apples to oranges.

    Drones with missiles attached and airplanes with missiles attached are so different from one another that it’s like comparing apples and oranges? Do you also think that comparing a handgun to a rifle is comparing apples and oranges?

    The entire point of the pro-drone argument (such as it is) is that drones can be much more precise and cause fewer deaths than sending in a wing of bombers with hellfire missiles would be. If we’re not even allowed to point that out because a death is a death is a death and one death from a drone is just as bad as one hundred deaths from a hellfire missile, then you’re not arguing honestly.

  103. 103
    jayackroyd says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think we’ve already agreed that I am a narrow-minded moral midget

    This advances discussion how? I never said anything like that.

    We could have an interesting and detailed discussion of just how disappointing the PPACA is, in contrast to the rest of the OECD and, I think more importantly, in the plans to cut Medicare and Social Security. Some of that interesting discussion is evidenced in your saying that Americans get “insurance” rather than “health care.”

    I’m curious, though. Do you think Romney would repeal the PPACA? Is that really your voting issue? Because, Medicare Part D.

    It seems to me the Supreme Court is the stronger argument. FWIW.

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jayackroyd:

    Fortunately, I do not live in Nevada, so I’ve never had to decide not to vote for Harry Reid.

    But the fact that Reid voted in favor of PPACA says to me that he’s not as “pro-life” as, say, Paul Ryan, who supported a “personhood” law that would ban most forms of birth control.

  105. 105
    jayackroyd says:

    @MattR:

    Thanks, Matt. I think that view is widely held, and I appreciate your making it explicit.

  106. 106
    LTMidnight says:

    @Nick: You’re more than welcome to throw your vote away.

  107. 107
    MattR says:

    @jayackroyd: I wish it weren’t so, but when one party is absolutely horrific on every issue the primary concern has to be keeping them from the levers of power even if that means that you have to vote for people you disagree with on a majority of issues.

  108. 108
    Yutsano says:

    @jayackroyd: Medicare Part D was an expensive unfunded boondoggle, but it did fill an important hole that traditional Medicare did not cover. PPACA has already done a shit ton of good for a lot of people and will do even more, since you’re ignoring the Medicaid expansion and the pre-existing and no cap rules that were also put into place. It’s not perfect, but no major social program starts that way, not even Social Security. It will be altered and expanded over time, and if we work at it vastly improved.

    Oh and ask Switzerland and Japan how they manage to survive without a single payer system.

  109. 109
    dmbeaster says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The entire point of the pro-drone argument (such as it is) is that drones can be much more precise and cause fewer deaths than sending in a wing of bombers with hellfire missiles would be.

    This is just nonsensical and demonstrates ignorance about the military technology. It does not matter from which type of delivery system you launch the hellfire missile. Once launched, it is guided in the same manner whether from a drone or a plane. It can also be remotely guided whether launched from the plane or a drone. It has the same outcomes whether launched from a drone or a plane.

    The wrongheaded perception that drones are allegedly more accurate, or a magic bullet as I derisively noted, is the reason why killing the same number of civilians with drones is somehow tolerated but not if it were from an airstrike. It results in a lowering of the threshold for their use since they are more politically acceptable, and therefore greater civilian casualties compared to other methods due to greater use with a lower threshold.

  110. 110
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jayackroyd:

    We could have an interesting and detailed discussion of just how disappointing the PPACA is, in contrast to the rest of the OECD and, I think more importantly, in the plans to cut Medicare and Social Security. Some of that interesting discussion is evidenced in your saying that Americans get “insurance” rather than “health care.”

    I’m careful to say “insurance” because otherwise I end up wasting 20 comments on people who scream, “IT DOESN’T REFORM HEALTHCARE, IT ONLY REFORMS HEALTH INSURANCE! WHY DON’T YOU ADMIT IT DOESN’T REFORM HEALTH CARE?!” It’s a timesaver, in other words.

    I also think that people who think that the only thing PPACA does is tone down the excesses of the health insurance companies haven’t bothered to read it and understand what the provisions are. When you read the whole thing, it’s pretty obvious that the aim of the law is to make it unprofitable to run a health insurance company and get for-profit insurance companies to move on to more profitable areas. Next stop will need to be regulating for-profit hospitals and other non-insurance, for-profit healthcare providers, but that sure as hell ain’t gonna happen with Romney in charge.

    Last thing on health insurance: if we get universal healthcare, Medicare will not survive, because it would be ridiculous to have two separate systems, one for people under 65 and one for people over 65. That’s what we have with the Medicaid/Medicare split, and it’s a disaster.

    By definition, getting universal healthcare requires changes to Medicare that will eventually kill it as a separate program. Are we allowed to make those changes, or is Medicare such a sacred cow that it must continue on as a separate program regardless of how it affects getting healthcare for everyone?

    I’m curious, though. Do you think Romney would repeal the PPACA? Is that really your voting issue? Because, Medicare Part D.

    I think Romney would repeal the parts that make it useful for consumers (community rating, no rescissions, ceiling on profits, impartial board to evaluate treatments) and it would become the equivalent of Medicare Part D: a useless, bloated program that only puts money in the pockets of for-profit health insurance companies without actually improving care for anyone.

    I won’t deny that the Supreme Court is also a useful argument, but I think a lot of people on the left are ignorant of the provisions of PPACA and what it’s designed to do, so I lean on that one.

  111. 111
    NobodySpecial says:

    The biggest complaint I have with this whole debate is that nearly everyone agrees that drone warfare sucks, but one side doesn’t want you to mention that it sucks or try and do ANYTHING to change it because it might upset their applecart.

    Hell, you can’t even discuss it without being marginalized. So what do you expect people you don’t care about who have opinions you claim to share (but don’t want them to do anything about, because shut up, that’s why) to do?

    Yes, I’ll be voting for Obama, but the man himself said you have to pressure him and other Democrats to do the right thing. How can anyone pressure them if they’re to be ridiculed every single time they bring it up?

  112. 112
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dmbeaster:

    It results in a lowering of the threshold for their use since they are more politically acceptable, and therefore greater civilian casualties compared to other methods due to greater use with a lower threshold.

    Numbers, please. In my comment at #93, I linked to an Arthur Silber essay where his high estimate was that about 4,000 people have been killed by drone strikes since 2001, which makes for an average of about 400 a year. Are those the numbers that you’re using, or are you using a different set of numbers?

    I know it’s an article of faith that, because drone strikes are less risky to US personnel, we use them more than we would use airstrikes, but I haven’t really seen any strong evidence of that.

  113. 113
    jayackroyd says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    LOL. Every six years, I get to vote for or against Chuck Schumer, which never brightens my day. But when you do vote for your Senators, you are voting for the people who care so little about choice that they choose Reid as their leader.

    And that’s, I’d argue, therefore not a showstopping issue for you.

    The reason for this intellectual exercise is, as I’m sure you’re aware, to demonstrate that this is not about issues, but about partisanship–that team Dem has to be supported, even if they don’t support what I support. They’re my team, and I’m on board with that. And I don’t want to lose.

    The thing is that the conservatives (NOT the Republicans) don’t work that way. They’re willing to lose. They lost the Senate because of their unwillingness to STFU and get in line. They preferred pure candidates to electable candidates. This has, so far anyway, worked really well for them. There is only one “moderate Republican” left.

    If we are gonna pursue the ideas we espouse, we have to be willing to attack our elected officials from the movement liberal side, to call them out on their failures. And, yes, we have to be willing to say, no I won’t vote for you, I won’t work for you and I won’t give you money if you are operating against our principles.

  114. 114

    OK, maybe I’m just that dumb, but every time this debate heats up again, I find myself wondering why folks like Freddie would rather opine about this stuff within their narrow internet spheres than do something that might actually start shifting public opinion. Freddie feels boxed in by a few blogs, and I can certainly understand because their collective readership must literally number in the tens, if not dozens, but the fact of the matter is that the president doesn’t keep drone bombing Muslims because TBogg is in favor of it, he keeps doing it because the public loves it and the folks who are against it would rather complain about TBogg and talk piously about their planned and useless protest votes than try to fix the real problem.

  115. 115

    OK, maybe I’m just that dumb, but every time this debate heats up again, I find myself wondering why folks like Freddie would rather opine about this stuff within their narrow internet spheres than do something that might actually start shifting public opinion. Freddie feels boxed in by a few blogs, and I can certainly understand because their collective readership must literally number in the tens, if not dozens, but the fact of the matter is that the president doesn’t keep drone bombing Muslims because TBogg is in favor of it, he keeps doing it because the public loves it and the folks who are against it would rather complain about TBogg and talk piously about their planned and useless protest votes than try to fix the real problem.

  116. 116
    kc says:

    Whateva. Just don’t don’t be surprised when people laugh off your moral outrage when the president killing Muslims is a Republican.

  117. 117
    MattR says:

    @jayackroyd:

    LOL. Every six years, I get to vote for or against Chuck Schumer, which never brightens my day. But when you do vote for your Senators, you are voting for the people who care so little about choice that they choose Reid as their leader.
    __
    And that’s, I’d argue, therefore not a showstopping issue for you.

    IMO, this is so intellectually dishonest that there is no point in any further discussion.

  118. 118
    Keith G says:

    I think that it is quite likely that signature drone attacks are a war crime. I hope the issue gets adjudicated in the appropriate forum. If that happens to be the case,I would have no problems with warrants being issued against any suspected perpetrators. This is a heinous business.

  119. 119
    Yutsano says:

    @Keith G: The US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court. So there will be no The Hague trials involving Americans any time soon.

  120. 120

    @Keith G: The backlog of unadjudicated war crimes committed by American administrations over the past half century or so would overwhelm the international justice system if they actually tried this.

  121. 121
    BenA says:

    @Fred Fnord:

    Obama always starts the negotiation process with bills that are already to the right of his stated goals. Then they get moved further to the right, until they are indistinguishable from Republican bills of 25 years ago. Do you really not understand that if he didn’t do this, we would sometimes come out with a better outcome than that?

    I think you’re mad at the wrong guy and don’t really understand how our government works. You do realize that the president does not actually write the bills? That they go through senate and house committees? That the ACA actually comes from a bunch of “centrist” Democrats and some Republicans that dropped support… and was the best possible outcome given the craven characters that inhabit our congress?

  122. 122
    jayackroyd says:

    @MattR:

    Huh? What’s intellectually dishonest? Chuck’s evil. I vote against him.

  123. 123
    MattR says:

    @jayackroyd: Pretending that voting for a Democratic Senator who is fully pro choice but also votes for Harry Reid as majority leader means that you don’t really care about abortion.

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jayackroyd:

    LOL. Every six years, I get to vote for or against Chuck Schumer, which never brightens my day. But when you do vote for your Senators, you are voting for the people who care so little about choice that they choose Reid as their leader.

    I’m forced to vote for war hawk Dianne Feinstein, so I submit that I actually have it worse in the DINO category than you do.

    Also, please let me know when Reid has ever presented an anti-abortion bill in the Senate. He’s been there for years, so you should be able to find me at least one, right? Because without showing that he has actually taken steps to try and ban abortion like Romney and Ryan have, I’m not sure where the contradiction comes in.

    The thing is that the conservatives (NOT the Republicans) don’t work that way. They’re willing to lose. They lost the Senate because of their unwillingness to STFU and get in line. They preferred pure candidates to electable candidates. This has, so far anyway, worked really well for them. There is only one “moderate Republican” left.

    Uh, no, losing the Senate has not “worked really well” for the Republicans. Manipulating the rules of the Senate so they could stay in control while not being in the majority has worked really well for them, but that’s not the same thing as actually being in the majority, as any Republican could tell you.

    If we are gonna pursue the ideas we espouse, we have to be willing to attack our elected officials from the movement liberal side, to call them out on their failures.

    No, what we have to be willing to do is to run candidates against them who can actually win a general election. Weirdly, this is one area where Republicans have been following the lead of progressives by getting their unelectable Teabaggers the nomination and then watching them get spanked in the general election.

    And, yes, we have to be willing to say, no I won’t vote for you, I won’t work for you and I won’t give you money if you are operating against our principles.

    Liberals have been sitting out elections since about 1968. Weirdly, Republicans have been making major gains ever since that strategy was decided on by the left. How’s that been working out for us?

    Do you think that maybe — just maybe — it might be time to change strategy and start working for candidates who aren’t perfect in the hope of getting them to swing to our side? Or do we have to continue the failed strategy because this time it’s totally going to work even though it’s been failing for 40 years already?

  125. 125
    General Stuck says:

    @dmbeaster:

    This is just nonsensical and demonstrates ignorance about the military technology

    What is nonsensical and demonstrates ignorance about mil technology, is disregarding the greatest advantage using drone for warfare by air. That would be their unique ability to remain aloft for up to 24 hours with eyes to evaluate the situation and where and whether the target is around.

  126. 126
    Tractarian says:

    Shorter Freddie: I want to challenge reality. Democrats are pussies. Yawn.

    Freddie is full of sh*t. Fact is, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward liberalism.

    And, there is no debate about the drone program because there is, by and large, agreement about it. Most Republicans support it, most Democrats support it, so there’s nothing to discuss. And yes, that is a vast improvement over the last administration, which risked a lot more than collateral damage in Yemen, pursuing a policy that was based on false pretenses.

  127. 127
    Keith G says:

    @Yutsano: Was Serbia? isn’t a crime agait humanity a crime against humanity no matter what the paperwork says? signature attacks are odious and there is no way that innocents are not involved.

  128. 128
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    In what ways is Chuck Shumer more purely evil than say Al D’Mato?

  129. 129
    LTMidnight says:

    @jayackroyd: “movement liberal” is an oxymoron of the highest order because liberalism is an ideology.

    And the far left is not seeking progress. They are seeking their idealistic world without having to do the work involved to get it.

  130. 130
    TG Chicago says:

    mistermix:

    [I]f you can write a post excoriating liberals without even mentioning Romney, which Freddie did, then you’re going to get some static…

    …from people who view these issues in politically Manichean ways.

    People who actually care about the policy can criticize the policy independent of the politics. People who don’t care about the policy will only view it in terms of politics.

  131. 131
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @longtime lurk:

    Well, if Nixon Reagan Bush Romney is elected maybe people like you will suddenly rediscover the idea that dead Muslims is a problem we should actually care about and try to solve, etc.

    When after forty years your purity plan isn’t working, maybe its time to try a new one, don’t you think?

  132. 132
    Keith G says:

    @fasteddie9318: I fear you are very correct. That does not mean that one should be satisfied with injustice.

  133. 133
    dmbeaster says:

    @Mnemosyne: @General Stuck:

    Without question, drones are cheaper to use than aircraft, which is a good thing. They are undetectable to the average terrorists, whereas aircraft approaching can be spotted, and the stealth undoubtedly works to their advantage too. They can also be deployed longer, although that is a minor advantage as it assumes that the look-down camera on the drone provides useful targeting information. If combined with a ground observer who gives the go signal with a small window of opportunity – then yes, being airborne longer is good. Otherwise you are relying on other forms of intel for meaningful targeting anyway — I hope we are not making targeting decisions on the spot by the remote operators of drones looking at a TV screen from thousands of feet up. The camera on the drone just insures that you are hitting the predesignated target.

    As for whether or not drones are minimizing civilian casualties as opposed to other forms of ordinance delivery, we are basically in a “trust us” environment. The military does not release any kind of numbers that enables anyone to determine this meaningfully. The basic point remains the same. There is nothing inherently better about drones when it comes to minimizing civilian casualties, and yet, the myth persists that they are. Hence, they are probably being used more indiscriminately. There is no sure proof of that final point, except all of our history concerning use of military force. If a weapons system can be used more easily and cheaply without the same political consequences from civilian casualties, then the reasonable inference is that it will be used more readily to kill civilians. Believing otherwise if foolish.

  134. 134
    Yutsano says:

    @Keith G: You also have the difficulty of getting any Americans to the actual court, since the US government will not turn them over.

  135. 135
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TG Chicago:

    People who actually care about the policy can criticize the policy independent of the politics. People who don’t care about the policy will only view it in terms of politics.

    I guess that’s the part I don’t get: since policies are set by politicians and are inherently political, how on earth can you claim that you’re only looking at the policy, not the politics? Policies don’t magically appear from the head of Zeus — they are created and carried out by politicians.

    The only thing that will change the policy is changing the politicians. Ignoring that fact is like when pro-lifers pretend that they can ban birth control with no consequences because birth control and pregnancy have no relation to one another.

  136. 136

    @jayackroyd:
    What I want is for AQ to be extinguished, and for terrorism to be discredited as a viable method to express grievances.

    Drones do that more surgically than any other methods available.

    If you or the others have any serious ideas as to how we could accomplish the first without needing the second, I’m all ears. But I haven’t heard any.

  137. 137
    General Stuck says:

    @dmbeaster:

    So you concede that prolonged surveilance is a good thing, but still does not help reduce civilian casualties, based on what? all the aerial warfare before drones were invented with airstrike capability? That defies any notion of basic common sense. And you are wrong about the video technology we have today. Even small civilian drones have face recognition capabilities, and no doubt the military ones are BTA for that taskAnd now we are using these gadgetsto reduce civ deaths even more.http://articles.latimes.com/20.....e-20120611

  138. 138
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: Yeah. But thats not what’s happening either. Otherwise why are we now removing the MEK from the terrorist list? Someone needs to ask Howard Dean to explain this to us. I think that is worth discussing-are we supposed to ask Pakistan to stop supporting these groups (as long as they go after India) when we now have a Congress and administration that supports them (as long as they agree to attack Iran)?

  139. 139
    Corner Stone says:

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    Otherwise why are we now removing the MEK from the terrorist list?

    Clearly because the MEK are not terrorists. Because if they were then they would be on the list. And since they are not in the list, ergo prop hac vice qui tam.

  140. 140

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:

    Otherwise why are we now removing the MEK from the terrorist list?

    Presumably because they met the conditions the State Dept gave them for getting off the list (they claim they’ll do what the IRA did and transform into a peaceful political party).

    We’ll see if that’s what actually happens.

    But that said… WTF does MEK have to do with AQ?

  141. 141
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Fred Fnord:

    Obama always starts the negotiation process with bills that are already to the right of his stated goals. Then they get moved further to the right, until they are indistinguishable from Republican bills of 25 years ago. Do you really not understand that if he didn’t do this, we would sometimes come out with a better outcome than that?

    Perhaps it is the case that PBO starts out with bills that are a bit further left than what he figures can get passed and then allows them to move a bit to the right in order to actually get them passed.

    Then, once he’s got a bill which is “indistinguishable from Republican bills of 25 years ago” but has never been passed he’s moved the country’s legislation some to the left, making the next step to the left more possible.

    We could put our collective foot down and demand nothing but “three giant steps to the left” legislation, but we’d probably get exactly zero of those bills passed.

    Or we could move toward our goal in a series of achievable steps.

    Health care. (I’m betting that’s the “25 years ago” bill you had in mind.) What were our goals?

    1) Insure the 40 million Americans who did not have health insurance.

    2) Eliminate people getting kicked off their insurance program when they got really sick. As well as dial back on the largest abuses practiced by insurance companies.

    We, PBO, achieved those goals. Deal with it.

  142. 142

    So we have, what, four or five people posting here about how important drone strikes are to them, and about how we Obots suck because we don’t care about blameless, hapless Muslims going about their lives who get killed because they live near some al qaeda scumbag’s hidey-hole. But the thing I don’t get is that you’re here fighting with people who agree with you. What good do you think that does?

    From what I can tell, most of us here fall into three groups: There are those who think drones are just wrong, and we shouldn’t be using them. There are those who think that drones are the best choice out of a befuddling passel of bad ones. And there are those, like me, who don’t altogether know which of the two above positions we hold. But who here is saying, “Hell, yeah, drones are great and we should be using them more!” Nobody is saying that.

    But here’s what I really don’t understand: If this means so much to you, why are you here bitching about what sellouts we are? What good comes of that? Now, I can see, if I want to be uncharitable, that it’s fun to spout off about how saintly you are because the hapless, blameless Muslims mean so much to you that you’re unwilling to vote to reelect President Obama. How that helps the hapless, blameless Muslims is a little hazy to me; but I can see how it would be effective in making you feel good about yourselves.

    Because, you know, the real problem isn’t us here, and it isn’t even President Obama, at least he isn’t the root of it. The real problem here is that a big majority of Americans either like drone strikes or they don’t know enough about them to be against them or they don’t know about them at all.

    No, if you want to do something about the drone strikes, don’t sit here writing about how awful Obama is or how we’re just sellouts who suck Obama’s dick all day; don’t sit out the election and let Romney win so he’ll order more strikes and so upset the country that we’ll see the light and usher in a new era of liberalism. After all, we’ve already see how well that worked 12 years ago.

    Instead, if you really care about this as you’d have us believe, then do something about it. Spread the word. Organize. Protest. Do something. Now, I know that’s a lot harder, and even that might not be enough to change things. But that happens to be the only way to change things. The odds aren’t great, but they’re better than they are if all you do is smugly tell us how much more principled you are than we are, since you’d never give your hallowed vote to a monster like Obama.

    Organizing isn’t fun. It doesn’t bring you any glory. It’s hard work, and it’s slow and half the time you fall short of what you want to do. Just ask the Republicans; they’ve been doing it for 40 years, and look where it’s gotten them. The organizers run the party now. It’s true, most of the nameless workers never won Senate seats or House seat, or, indeed, any office at all. But the party now kisses their ass 800 each day.

    You say drone strikes outrage you, they’re immoral, they’re uncivilized? Great. Go out and work to change the way America sees them. You think the health care law sucks? It should have gone much further? You’re right. But, three and a half years ago, too many people like you were whining about sellout Democrats in Congress and weak-willed President Obama, rather than going out and doing something to win the country over to our side.

    There isn’t some hidden majority that wanted a government-run, government-paid-for law; there isn’t some hidden majority that wants the president to end the strikes, if only he’d listen to them. If you want to get what you want, you have to get enough people to get on the president’s back, and on Congress’s back, that they have to listen to you and do what you’d like them to. Until you’re willing to take the time and do the work to get what you want, then you don’t have much right to crow about what a dealbreaker this is for you, or about how only you care about dead Muslim children.*

    Somebody above said he’d vote for Jill Stein. Great. Have at it. But I will say this: If all you’re willing to do is pull a lever for a third party candidate for president, then you don’t really care about the drone strikes, however much you might tell us othewise. It’s all for show. Anybody can vote for Jill Stein. And President Obama won’t care. And Joe Biden won’t care. And nobody in Congress will care. It’s an empty gesture, meant only to show us how principled you are. If you care so much about drone strikes, if they really are the “dealbreaker” that you say it is, don’t waste your time and ours telling us what swell people you are because you’re voting for Jill Stein. If you care that much, then get out and do something about it. Until then, we aren’t that impressed.

    *Yes, I know, nobody’s going that far. But that’s how it comes across, so don’t whine that we’re being unfair to you when we read between the lines.

  143. 143
    Or something like that.Suffern Ace says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:


    and for terrorism to be discredited

    That part. AQ militias and MEK militias tend to work like militias.

  144. 144
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anatoliĭ Lъudьvigovich Bzyp (Mumphrey, et al.): Shorter whatever-the-fuck-you’re-calling-yourself-today:
    Don’t say anything on this forum where the question was proposed.

  145. 145
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Anatoliĭ Lъudьvigovich Bzyp (Mumphrey, et al.):

    The real problem here is that a big majority of Americans either like drone strikes or they don’t know enough about them to be against them or they don’t know about them at all

    I suspect that a big majority of Americans like the idea of smacking down the people who have been attacking us and attempting to attack us.

    I also suspect a large number, not a big majority, but a large number of Americans realize that it is our support of crappy oil country dictators got into this mess.

    I’m in the position that I think we screwed up badly in the way we played the political game in the Middle East, but that started way back with Britain and other European colonial powers long before the current president was even born.

    We need to figure a way to get out. I think PBO has set us on that path via more domestic oil production along with massive increases in CAFE standards and supporting EVs/PHEVs.

    But that does not deal with the short term problem of people whose life purpose is to attack us wherever they can reach us. Short term I think we have to hit the leaders, take out their ability to plan and operate. Hate war, but also hate the fact that people are trying to kill me…

  146. 146

    @Or something like that.Suffern Ace:
    MEK hasn’t attacked the US since 1992. (Nor Iran, lately, BTW). But again, what does MEK have to do with AQ and drones?

    (Actually, now I’m curious as to what lefty dog-whistle I’m missing).

  147. 147
    AA+ Bonds says:

    It’s essentially a screed against a couple of liberal blogs and some imaginary kind of liberal

    The sort I suppose that shows up in polls (no doubt also imaginary) that backs the bombing of Pakistan

  148. 148
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I am sure that pretty much all liberals on Balloon Juice are opposed to this nonsense

    And I thank you

    Please talk to your brothers and sisters and get them to come around to your POV

    If in your mind that must happen after November, okay, not what I would suggest but please pencil it in on your calendar

  149. 149
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Isn’t this kind of thing what primaries are for? The idea that some of you are willing to risk war with Iran to “send a message about how important innocent Muslims are to you” is a bit hard to comprehend.

  150. 150
    JustAnotherBob says:

    If you or an elderly relative have been hospitalized recently and noticed extra attention when the time came to be discharged, there’s more to it than good customer service.

    As of Monday, Medicare will start fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama’s health care law to improve quality while also trying to save taxpayers money.

    For the first year, the penalty is capped at 1 percent of a hospital’s Medicare payments. The overwhelming majority of penalized facilities will pay less. Also, for now, hospitals are only being measured on three medical conditions: heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

    Under the health care law, the penalties gradually will rise until 3 percent of Medicare payments to hospitals are at risk. Medicare is considering holding hospitals accountable on four more measures: joint replacements, stenting, heart bypass and treatment of stroke.

    http://news.yahoo.com/medicare.....33994.html

    Yeah, I know. It’s not about drones. It’s about that “25 year old Republican idea”, the PPACA.

    Deduct the fine from my account balance….

  151. 151
    different-church-lady says:

    I’m not going to register over there, so I’m going to say this to Freddy here:

    Freddy: there is NEVER a good time to say stupid shit about ANYTHING. This is not about toeing the party line. This is about people who say really dumb shit and choose to do it in a framework of “Here’s why I won’t vote for Obama!” and then maybe throw in a plug for a vanity candidate for kicks.

    So when you say something like this:

    I don’t know how else it say it, considering I’ve said it a thousand times. I want my country to stop killing innocent people.

    You are very much NOT saying dumb shit. And most reasonable people will not have a problem with you saying it.

    Do all Obama cheerleaders behave reasonably? No. But that’s not the only dynamic we have going here. We also have a lot of Obama haters acting unreasonably. The existence of one does not justify the existence of the other.

    If one wants to say our drone policy sucks, then one should do it, without baiting and without emotional manipulation. And then one should avoid the percentage of cheerleaders who are going to use cheap rhetorical tactics, not by simply sticking to the point: the drone policy sucks. It has nothing to do with the election, it simply sucks. When one screams about who one is going to vote for, one is not talking about drones — one is talking about oneself and how one is going to try to not feel powerless. Well, I sorry people, but politics is not catharsis, even if you do write for a once proud institution.

    ETA: In simpler terms, a person like TBogg is not saying one should not care about drones, he’s saying, “Hey, stop saying stupid shit about drones and throwing internet temper tantrums that will just make things worse.”

  152. 152
    different-church-lady says:

    Self correction:

    @different-church-lady: And then one should avoid the percentage of cheerleaders who are going to use cheap rhetorical tactics, not by simply sticking to the point: the drone policy sucks.

    Please remove the word “not” from this sentence — it will make more sense that way.

  153. 153
  154. 154
    dmbeaster says:

    @General Stuck: So what is your basis for thinking that dropping bombs on civilian areas in Pakistan is cost-effective, or a good way to wage war? Because of the alleged efficacy of face-recognizing software from pictures taken from 10,000 feet or more? Based on what data base of the faces of Taliban targets? Please – don’t be all gullible for that type of war tech pron.

    The drone attacks in Pakistan have tremendous blowback because of the terror aspect of their use and the killing of civilians. Are we getting any net benefit, or just creating more Taliban? Is it being used judiciously and with care? It is hard to know for sure, but the drone strikes are functionally no different than air attacks with the same type of weaponry, which has not been viewed as a favorable way to win this type of war. Why drones suddenly get a pass makes no sense.

  155. 155
    General Stuck says:

    @dmbeaster:

    Based on what data base of the faces of Taliban targets? Please – don’t be all gullible for that type of war tech pron.

    Fuck you, war porn?. All I did was prove you are talking out your ass and don’t have a clue about assertions you make. You claim that drones are no more able to reduce civilian casualties than from manned aircraft. I demonstrated with links and evidence, that this is wrong and you were wrong. It was not an endorsement of using drones, where ever.

    But since you asked, as Mnemosyne has said, most of the escalation of drone attacks in Pak have been to prevent Taliban from crossing the border and killing GI’s in Afghanistan. And I have been totally for getting our troops out of their ASAP. But I support protecting our soldiers as best we can, if we send them into a war zone.

  156. 156
    Spatula says:

    @LTMidnight:

    You’re more than welcome to throw your vote away.

    Seems incredibly juvenile to believe that any vote not cast for your preferred candidate is being “thrown away.”

    Didn’t it used to be a respected position that people should “vote their conscience?” Seems weird that liberals would argue doing so is a negative act.

    Bots are a reminder that for the majority of those who vote in the U.S., politics is just another team sport with which they identify. It’s emotionally important to BJ Bots that the Fighting Baracks! take the championship, elsewise they will have a sadness.

    I will vote for whom I ultimately choose to vote, or not at all, and it just isn’t any of your fucking business.

  157. 157
    Ken_L says:

    Freddie’s argument is ‘Look at it this way: if only 10% of eligible voters actually cast ballots, the elected government would have a serious problem of legitimacy and credibility.’

    Sorry but this is incoherent bullshit. Serious problem for whom? Serious problem with what practical ramifications exactly? If I heard of an election in which only 10% of people voted, I would assume nobody cared much who won, because they were equally happy with both parties.

    At heart, the argument is an implicit rejection of democratic processes, privileging personal moral judgements over collective decision-making in exactly the same way as the pro-life and anti-gay marriage fanatics.

  158. 158
    TG Chicago says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    What I want is for AQ to be extinguished, and for terrorism to be discredited as a viable method to express grievances.

    Drones do that more surgically than any other methods available.

    This ignores the fact that when we kill innocents via drone strikes, it fosters hatred of America and helps terrorist recruitment.

    You’re welcome to tout the positives of drone strikes, but you should also consider the negatives.

  159. 159
    TG Chicago says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The only thing that will change the policy is changing the politicians.

    This isn’t true. You can also change the minds of the politicians. If enough of the Democratic base was in revolt over the killing of American citizens without a trial, it’s likely that the policy would be improved.

    Obama “evolved” on gay marriage. Granted, that didn’t actually change a policy in the short term, but it was still an important shift. And it happened due to pressure from his supporters.

  160. 160
    General Stuck says:

    @TG Chicago:

    You’re welcome to tout the positives of drone strikes, but you should also consider the negatives.

    This is very true. And it is also true, that isolationists should also consider the negatives of that policy. I know that while I want the least harm to civilians while killing terrorists, that also there will never be a method that never kills a civilian in any kind of warfare. It’s the inherent ambiguity of human doings, that weighs out to the best of almost always morally compromised positions. At least when it comes to dealing with matters of life and death .

  161. 161
    General Stuck says:

    Granted, that didn’t actually change a policy in the short term, but it was still an important shift. And it happened due to pressure from his supporters.

    No politician in their right mind is going to commit political suicide because a portion of their base is pushing for a particular policy. Obama evolved, publicly, as the whole of the American public evolved to the point the odds were good it wouldn’t be pol suicide. That it likely would have been only a few short years ago. And certainly when Clinton signed DOMA

    Most of the shift, I believe was the debate over DADT, and how offensive it was that certain members of society couldn’t serve their country because of sexual preference.

  162. 162
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Obama “evolved” on gay marriage. Granted, that didn’t actually change a policy in the short term, but it was still an important shift. And it happened due to pressure from his supporters.

    That’s an assumption. We don’t know why PBO changed his position on same sex marriage.

    Perhaps he believed it was the right thing long ago but had to hold back for political reasons.

    Perhaps he changed his mind after watching Republicans make fools of themselves.

    Lots of reasons PBO might have changed his position. To assume credit because “his supporters” beat up on him, hummm….. Somehow I think self-aggrandizing might be in play. I just don’t see PBO as someone who knuckles under pressure, but makes his decisions based on merit.

  163. 163
    Keith G says:

    One does not have to be an isolationist to feel that the current policies guiding drone attacks, as implimented, are unfair, inhumane, and just bad kharma. There are folks at BJ who cannot support our use of the death penalty here in the USA. I can’t help but feel that our ease and comfort at killing innocent people with drone attacks is a darker evil. Under the current conditions, there is no moral defense for the methods being used.

  164. 164
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Keith G: Perhaps you dealt with this upthread and I missed it…

    What’s your solution for dealing with al Qaeda leaders? What method/s do you support or are you in favor of doing nothing?

  165. 165
    General Stuck says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Keith G is a contrarian gadfly. Tomorrow he will be for drones, or some other military venture. When he gets bored preaching moral superiority over whatever the topic is.

  166. 166
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @General Stuck:

    You’ve been in this discussion longer than I.

    Have you seen anyone hold that we should stand by and do nothing?

    Have you seen anyone suggest a solution other than drones?

    Honest questions.

  167. 167
    gwangung says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Obama “evolved” on gay marriage. Granted, that didn’t actually change a policy in the short term, but it was still an important shift. And it happened due to pressure from his supporters.

    Don’t be ridiculous. It happened because that pressure now came from a bloc big enough and passionate enough to make it part of their election calculus.

    Any pressure wasn’t on the president (which, as a matter of fact, we saw very little evidence of), but ON THE REST OF AMERICA, who came to agree with gay marriage.

    You’re acting like a top down authoritarian, trying to drive change from the top. That’s not the only way.

  168. 168
    General Stuck says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Have you seen anyone hold that we should stand by and do nothing?

    Yes, quite a few on the left. They believe that America is basically the sole instigator of violence in the world. And if we just withdraw to our borders, the world will become a peaceful place of mutual respect. Or something like that.

    Have you seen anyone suggest a solution other than drones?

    The only other methods for this problem, are conventional air strikes, or sending troops, or Maybe G men like Melvin Purvis to arrest them for trial. Until someone points out that will likely get even more people killed.

  169. 169
    Keith G says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Ya know Bob, there are a lot of terrible things in the world that I do not have solutions to. I detest violent crime and I am certain that lethally injecting mentally deficient criminals is not a helpful or just solution.

    Maybe we have to decide that letting a few AQ #3s do what they do is the price we have to pay for not killing more innocents with this program.

    It’s a tough world out there. We cannot cleanse the planet of the evil intent of others, but I dare say we may be able to curb our own actions that cause indecent harm to the unguilty.

    We, dear Bob, are now the killers of women and children. Their lives are the price of your comfort. I can live with less comfort.

  170. 170
    Keith G says:

    @General Stuck: Really? Glad to know.

  171. 171
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Keith G: OK, let’s say you’re the president.

    Your job is to keep American men, women and children safe.

    Do you let a few AQ #3s kill innocent Americans?

    (BTW, I agree with you on the death penalty. It does nothing to protect us. We are capable of keeping the truly dangerous away from society.)

  172. 172
    General Stuck says:

    @Keith G:

    You are very welcome

  173. 173
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Do you let a few AQ #3s kill innocent Americans?

    Captured for posterity.

  174. 174
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    What’s your solution for dealing with al Qaeda leaders? What method/s do you support or are you in favor of doing nothing?

    How many of them are there?

  175. 175
    General Stuck says:

    One more time, then I’m off to bed. Most of the drone strikes in Pak, or nearly all of them currently, are directed at senior Taliban leaders or formations of Taliban fighters crossing the border to attack our troops in Afghan.

  176. 176
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Corner Stone: That’s a rather strange question.

    I take it you have a different solution. Please share.

  177. 177
    different-church-lady says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Have you seen anyone hold that we should stand by and do nothing?

    Count down three and there you have it.

  178. 178
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @different-church-lady:

    What does that mean?

  179. 179
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Stuck:

    Most of the drone strikes in Pak, or nearly all of them currently, are directed at senior Taliban leaders or formations of Taliban fighters crossing the border to attack our troops in Afghan.

    How do you know?
    The designation AQ#3 used to be a joke around these parts. When GWB was President.

  180. 180
    different-church-lady says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Three posts below yours someone provides the example you were asking about.

    Yeah, I know it isn’t in the temporal sequence you were thinking, but asks have been converted into receives.

  181. 181
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob: You’re using an artful dodge. No shame in it, lots of people who try it on.
    By our own armed forces and CIA estimates there are something like +/- 100 AQ left in Afghanistan. A single drone attack killed some 40 people at a wedding.
    We talk about threats to American soldiers in Afghanistan being AQ. But we recently suspended any blended training activites between US/NATO and Afghan Army.
    So either a)Afghan Army is infiltrated with AQ or b)Afghan Army wants to kill us.
    Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Pakistan and pretty much wherever the fuck we want to send a drone to.
    How many AQ Leaders ( a truly Orwellian term ) are there? And where are they? Are they by default where the drones are sent?

  182. 182
    Keith G says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Your job is to keep American men, women and children safe.

    Strictly speaking, no it’s not.

    Granny used to speak of being “Penny wise, but pound foolish.”

    Should a US prez use force to clean out Mexican drug cartels? They have taken many more lives than AQ (albeit at times indirectly) Blow up a few safe houses in Juarez? How about a gun running scam…oh wait…damn

    The micro focus on the safety of a set of persons may well lead to actions causing macro harm.

    There are bad guys who need to be dead. I know that. But if by killing them now, we kill innocents….well…aren’t we the terrorist?

    Maybe we will at times need to wait. One cop here shots a stray bullet and it hits a toddler instead of the bank robber and all hell breaks loose (unfortunately depending on the neighborhood).

    How many non terrorist deaths are too much for us? More importantly, maybe, how many are too much for the rest of the world?

  183. 183
    General Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Other than the recent drone killing of Al Libi in Pak, as described as number 2 for AQ, I can’t remember reading about anyone but Taliban being targeted recently. When i read of a drone attack I usually try to find out the details. But could have missed some.

    AQ has been decimated in Pak, as lamented by the late Mr. Bin Laden. But I agree with the silly numbering of AQ leaders. I just call them Al Quaida, and let Allah sort out their rank. When we withdraw our troops from Afghan, the attacks on Taliban in Pak should cease. If they don’t, then that is a problem.

  184. 184
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @different-church-lady: OK.

    It is sort of a “just let them kill me” reply. But I suspect it’s really more of a “just let them kill someone I don’t know” solution.

  185. 185
    different-church-lady says:

    “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.!” Only inverted from hawk to dove.

    Unlike a lot of others around here I don’t put much stock in that TBogg land of rainbows and carebears rant. But there are occasional times when it seems he’s not that far off.

    I mean, “Hey, what’s a few more September 11ths?” isn’t really an answer so much as a dismissal.

  186. 186
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Keith G:

    I think Americans, in general, would greatly disagree with you. Most of us expect our presidents to work to keep us safe. That’s why so many of us are disgusted with George Bush.

    “There are bad guys who need to be dead. I know that. But if by killing them now, we kill innocents….well…aren’t we the terrorist?”

    No, we are not terrorists. And I’m going to insist on standard definitions here. Something along the lines of ” a person who employs terror or terrorism, esp as a political weapon”.

    We are using violent means to stop terrorists. I’m open to another solution.

  187. 187
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    No, we are not terrorists. And I’m going to insist on standard definitions here. Something along the lines of ” a person who employs terror or terrorism, esp as a political weapon”.
    __
    We are using violent means to stop terrorists. I’m open to another solution.

    Ok. So you’re just some kind of spoof then?

  188. 188
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Corner Stone: I have no idea what you’re on about….

  189. 189
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Hey, guys, guess what I just realized. There are people in jail who aren’t actually guilty. It sends cold chills up my spine. I don’t think I can vote for a government that hasn’t solved this problem yet. Also, I suspect that my house is on land that Native Americans used to possess. I foresee a lot of sleepless nights ahead.

  190. 190
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Also, I suspect that my house is on land that Native Americans used to possess.

    But is it an Ancient Burial Ground(tm)?

  191. 191
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Hold on, I’ll ask the poltergeist and get back to you.

  192. 192
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob: You’re either a spoof or a moron.
    We drone striked weddings, funerals, and Bakery Shops. We double tapped funerals.
    What the fuck does it qualify as if you’re scared to go to your local bakery because you’re not sure who the hell else may possibly be there and that cost you your life?

  193. 193
    Keith G says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    It is sort of a “just let them kill me” reply.

    You are thousands of more times likely to be killed by your spouse, or off spring, among others, than by an Asian-based terror cell. We cannot account for all risks to our safety. We could design death proof cars but they would be too expensive so we let tens of thousands die each year. We choose not to do simple things that would decrease infant mortality. Too expensive. Thousands of deaths. So when you type this:

    But I suspect it’s really more of a “just let them kill someone I don’t know” solution.

    I am at a loss to properly value your sincerity.

  194. 194
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Don’t eat that damned slice of bread with jam. Just this once, please listen to me.

  195. 195
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You talking about this wedding?

    “Wech Baghtu wedding party attack refers to the killing of a large number of Afghan civilians mostly women and children who had gathered to celebrate a wedding when coming under attack by US warplanes dropping bombs on a housing complex in the village of Wech Baghtu, Shah Wali Kot District of Kandahar province, Afghanistan”

    Can you point me to a credible source that shows that we have attacked weddings and funerals with drones? I find not well documented claims, but no hard facts.

    And, please, no Glenn Greenwald.

  196. 196
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Keith G: Devalue away.

    I don’t find your ‘just sit back and let them kill me’ approach appealing.

  197. 197
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: But, see, here’s the thing. Nobody “supports” the death of innocent people, or actions that lead predictably to the deaths of innocent people. The discussion ought to be about how to make that number as small as possible, ideally zero. But it’s really the same set of concerns involved in training cops not to fire into crowds or be reckless in hot pursuit while driving. Very few people would say that, because bystanders have been killed by cops, cops shouldn’t have guns or cars to make it absolutely certain that no bystander ever gets killed. But every discussion of drones degenerates into “you don’t care about dead brown babies!” vs. “fine, so we just let The Terrorists kill us, happy?”

    IMHO people who take exception to what’s being done with drones and want to use their energy for activism ought to be pushing for Church Commission-like hearings about the worst excesses of current practices, followed by stricter protocol and tougher oversight. The problem with that isn’t that TBogg is going to be mean to you for proposing it, it’s that the people who actually have the power to do something about it are hard to move, especially when Republicans control the House and center-right Democrats have so much clout in the Senate.

  198. 198
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @JustAnotherBob: My impression–sorry, no link–is that there have been a number of incidents where “bunch of locals gathering” raises suspicions, someone pulls the trigger on the drone, and a lot of people die… Only we find out afterwards that the gathering was a wedding or a funeral. And of course it should go without saying that that’s horrific, and someone fucked up royal, and we shouldn’t just shrug and say that’s the cost of doing business.

  199. 199
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The discussion ought to be about

    Finally! What we should be talking about!
    Thank you!

  200. 200
    Corner Stone says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Ok, question answered. You’re a moron.

  201. 201
    FlipYrWhig says:

    And, with that, signing off for the night.

  202. 202
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: I knew you’d like that.

  203. 203
    LTMidnight says:

    @Spatula:

    Seems incredibly juvenile to believe that any vote not cast for your preferred candidate is being “thrown away.”

    Uh no. Since I’ve never even heard of Jill Stein until that guy mentioned, it means Ms. Stein has no chance of winning whatsoever. Which means she can make all those rainbow- farting unicorn promises because she knows she’ll never be in a position to have to make good on those promise.

    What’s juvenile is thinking some politician worth a shit is going to come up to you and ask “why didn’t you vote for me” and when you tell them why actually takes you seriously.

    Didn’t it used to be a respected position that people should “vote their conscience?” Seems weird that liberals would argue doing so is a negative act.

    What does “voting your conscience” means anyway?

    “I care about drone strikes, so I’m going to vote for this third party schmuck with a rat’s ass chance of winning, which means they will have no authority to make them end”.

    How does that not sound brain-dead?

    Bots are a reminder that for the majority of those who vote in the U.S., politics is just another team sport with which they identify. It’s emotionally important to BJ Bots that the Fighting Baracks! take the championship, elsewise they will have a sadness.

    Because it makes a lot more sense to be a self-righteous prick who thinks voting for some third-party loser is going to make the Democratic party listen to what I have to say than to be a “bot”.

    I will vote for whom I ultimately choose to vote, or not at all, and it just isn’t any of your fucking business.

    Good for you, kid (though I don’t recall asking you anything). But if you ask me (and that’s only if you’re asking), if you choose not to vote at all, you might as well go to your nearest pumpkin patch and wait for the Great Pumpkin to appear. There’s a better chance of that happening than some politician giving a shit enough to ask you why you didn’t vote.

  204. 204
    Keith G says:

    @JustAnotherBob: Your reductio ad absurdum ploy indicates that useful discourse is done. Too bad.

    Our team really needs to do some hard thinking on this topic.

    Maybe someday.

  205. 205
    Yutsano says:

    @LTMidnight: I’d just let it go if I were you. It’s Special Timmeh. His vote is so special that he can withhold it or vote for a third party candidate and he WILL get paid attention to because, well, he’s SPECIAL!! Not to mention he’s voting (if he does, he made it a point of pride awhile back that he’s too SPECIAL to sully himself with such trivium) in Massachusetts, which is a safe Obama lock. Let him vote as he desires. It will affect nothing save his pride.

  206. 206
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @FlipYrWhig: When I’ve roamed around looking for “On this date this happened” level stuff I get the same impression. We’re flinging drones willy-nilly at groups of children having a May dance.

    When I read about the controls placed on ‘pulling the trigger’ I just don’t see that happening. Or at least only happening at a very, very low rate. I’m not going to say that the people making the decision have never made a bad call, that would be a foolish assumption. Mistakes are made.

    Are civilians getting killed? Yes.

    Are we attempting to minimize non-combatant deaths? I think we are.

    Is it possible that there was a child or other non-combatant in the room where the target individuals were gathered and possible that we did not know? Sure. It’s not like we’ve got someone inside checking IDs.

    Do we have a better solution? Not that I know of. And I’m asking to see if anyone else does.

    All I come up with is do nothing or use a less discrete weapon – like the bombs that killed a number of people in the village of Wech Baghtu or sending troops to shoot their way in and shoot their way out.

    And, at this point in time, I think it should be clear to the al Qaeda leaders that they are targets and that they need to keep non-combatants away from them. They are on the battlefield 24/7.

  207. 207
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Keith G: Sorry if I offended you by honing things down to the basics.

    To me the question is clear. Do we protect ourselves against terrorists or not? Or, do we expect the US president to protect us against terrorists, or not?

    If the answer is ‘yes’, then the question become which method(s) should be used.

    Apparently we disagree about the answer to the first question.

    There are other questions that need to be addressed. How do we keep, or at least attempt to keep, ourselves out of messes like this in the future is one. But it’s too late for prevention in this case, we’re already in the middle.

  208. 208
    Keith G says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    Apparently we disagree about the answer to the first question.

    That is not the way I see my side of the give and take.

    If I were to put a tag on it, it would be that my boundary of diminishing returns of drone attacks is different than yours.

    As both Flip and I mentioned above, most of us want police to be ready and willing to used deadly force, but there are many times when such action are totally uncalled for and even counter productive.

    When a known and wanted enemy/warrior is ID’d and given some equivalent of due process, I understand the need for action. I also understand that killing innocent people is wrong…full stop…wrong. And it is a wrong that is noticed and that will have consequences. While we can use violence to disrupt a terror cell, I do not see violence as being a tool that stops terrorism and I know that we have no idea what the second and third order impacts of our use of this violence will have in the future. Ironically what may make for fewer terrorists today might give us more instability tomorrow – and less safety.

  209. 209
    JustAnotherBob says:

    When a known and wanted enemy/warrior is ID’d and given some equivalent of due process, I understand the need for action.

    OK, I misunderstood your position.

    I think we both agree that we should do everything reasonable to keep from killing non-combatants. I don’t know if we are or are not doing all we can do to prevent non-combatant deaths.

    I am not convinced that we are greatly out of line based on what I’ve read in the press. Too many of the charges are poorly sourced.

    I am convinced that we are less likely to kill non-combatants by the use of drones than with high altitude bombs, artillery , or sending in troops.

    Due process, that in my book is part of the targeting decision. We use what intelligence we have to identify those who are calling the shots on the other side and we go after them. We will make mistakes.

  210. 210
    NA says:

    @jayackroyd:
    I have to ask, what is the value of the mental exercise you propose? A large percentage of the American population does not, in fact, vote. What is the point of fantasizing about what it would take to join those, some for some understandable reasons and some for less laudable reasons, who do not cast ballots and therefore are not going to be counted? Even if only,say, 10 percent voted, or three people voted, there’s no straight line to some glorious revolution, which in all likelihood might not be so glorious after all. Clearly, the Republicans see their fortune in vote suppression. What is the good in voter suppression for anyone not supporting Republican goals?

  211. 211
    jshooper says:

    Maybe the ” Drone Enthusiasts” would get a more reasonable discussion from people if they didn’t go around parroting douchewald talking points like these:

    1) obama loves killing muslim babies
    2) obama assassinates americans
    3) obama is a war criminal worse than bush
    4) al-awlaki was an honorable man minding his own business and then Barack Hitler Obama murdered him in cold blood (while punching hippies)
    5) drones are flying death robots that have a mind of their own (they will turn on us !!!)
    6) obama is gunna send his drones after you if u criticize him
    7) anyone who picks apart our talking points is a murder loving baby killer who worships the dear leader and loves to watch nun rape
    8) Ron Paul may not like black people…but he is WAY better than evil obama (how dare u call me racist !!!)

  212. 212
    Fred says:

    Warfare kills inocent civilians. Armies marching through populated areas will result in civilian deaths and probably more civilian deaths than the use of drones will. So if war is what you are going to do drones are not in and of themselves a worse thing to do than sending in troops.
    The Vietnam war killed massive numbers of civilians without drones. They were killed by bombs, guns and the arbitrary dislocations that war causes. But the real issue was that the whole mess was a mistake.
    Is The War On Terror(tm) a mistake? Is there a better way to deal with a world wide criminal organization of fanatics? I don’t know but I think that is the debate we need to have before wrangling about tactical details.

  213. 213
    Right/Left = Impulse/Thoughtfulness says:

    jshooper

    I believe you meant to say “Drone Rejectionists”.

    Arguably the “Drone Enthusiasts” are the authoritarian Obama supporters who demand fealty and get belligerent when his policies or orders are questioned.

    While voting for the lesser evil is easy moral calculus for me, it would sure help if Obama would make it easier for others by rejecting right-wing militarism and right-wing economic fantasies.

    Assassinating American citizens without any judicial oversight, torturing that kid Bradley Manning, allowing thieving banksters to continue to steal American’s homes ….

    In a sane world these would be impeachable offenses.

    That this is the “lesser evil” … God Help Us All.

  214. 214
    hep kitty says:

    . I want my country to stop killing innocent people.

    Well, hello there! It’s a bit late for all this, isn’t it? Where were you in 2003? I remember seeking out every voice I could find that opposed the Iraq war, I dared not say one word about Afghanistan for fear I would be put in the stockade. And torture and all that other jazz that was so patriotic at the time.

    And so I got emotionally beaten into submission, so spare me/us this now. As if we like it, as if we approve, as if there is damn thing we can do about it. Anybody who thinks we can was asleep for the past 9 years.

    You don’t know how I cried, alone, over the bodies. You don’t know.

  215. 215
    hep kitty says:

    And yes, I protested, I did every thing I could, poured my heart and soul, time, energy, money and food into a lost campaign. No I did not just sit there and cry to myself!

    And it was a useless, pointless exercise just like what you are doing now.

  216. 216
    jshooper says:

    @Right/Left = Impulse/Thoughtfulness:
    1)enthusiasts plural of en·thu·si·ast (Noun)
    Noun:

    A person who is highly interested in a particular activity or subject.

    2)one who is ardently attached to a cause, object, or pursuit

  217. 217
    Right/Left = Impulse/Thoughtfulness says:

    jshooper Says:

    “douchewald talking points like these:” … “2) obama assassinates americans”

    Use capitalization: ‘Obama assassinates Americans.’

    Try dealing with facts: Obama assassinated an American citizen.

    Consider that calling those that make factual statements “douchewald(s)” is precisely the kind of mindless authoritarian insult that creates a fantasy world that offends thinking independents.

  218. 218

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  219. 219
    PanurgeATL says:

    @hep kitty:

    You seem to think it was “a useless, pointless exercise” because things didn’t turn out the way we wanted. That’s not the only thing that makes an exercise useful. What if there had been no protests? (For that matter, what if there’d been no anti-Vietnam War movement, or no ’60s counterculture?)

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