Sunday, November 25, 2012

World of Dronecraft

Malia Obama standing for peace, November 2009. From Eclectablog at Kos.
So suddenly last summer it occurred to somebody in the Obama administration that one of the consequences of losing the election would be Willard Mitt Romney's thumbs on the World of Dronecraft console. Which could turn out to be a Bad Thing. So they set to laying down some rules and regulations on the use of this remarkable tool of modern statesmanship, in the hope that Romney (or let us say Mr. Adelson) would at least be somewhat inhibited.

They would have been totally finished with this project, too, by the end of  December, if Romney had won, according to Scott Shane. As it is, they are not in so much of a hurry, but Obama still wants it to get done; in fact he'd like somebody to inhibit him a bit:
“One of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president’s reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making,” Mr. Obama told Jon Stewart in an appearance on “The Daily Show” on Oct. 18.... 
The president expressed wariness of the powerful temptation drones pose to policy makers. “There’s a remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can, without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems,” he said.
There are two ways of looking at this kind of utterance against Obama's record of using those drones so far. You can say that this is somebody working through a set of moral difficulties in much the same way as anybody else, but with a somewhat different value set than yours or mine or Emptywheel's—he sincerely worries about the murderous power he has abrogated to himself, but isn't convinced he's done anything really bad so far; or you can say he's an insane comic book tyrant. But there isn't much ground between the two.

Because why would he keep using this liberal kind of argumentation, unless (a) he meant it, or (b) he was satisfying an irresistible urge to tease Emptywheel and the rest of us into our own fits of psychotic rage? It's not as if it could get him any votes, still less any votes he needs, for an election that has already taken place.
I'm convinced that he means it—that he's a real liberal himself in the broad sense. He just isn't a hippy. He's never been radicalized into it.
Though publicly the administration presents a united front on the use of drones, behind the scenes there is longstanding tension. The Defense Department and the C.I.A. continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice Department and State Department officials, and the president’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint, officials involved in the discussions say.
Father John there is the left end of the arguments he's hearing; I don't know who's the left of his understanding of banking or housing or health insurance, but it's in a similar position, balanced by a similar right. He's not sufficiently challenged: he really believes that we are at "war" and that wicked bond fairies will punish us if we don't have a plan to balance the budget by 2016, and I read somewhere that one of his concerns about health insurance is the number of people that the industry employs: what would happen to them in a single payer system? (Not to go all Yglesias or anything on you, but it's a legitimate question.)

But it doesn't do us any good to refuse to believe him. If we'd had Carter's back, you know, we might have a sustainable carbon policy by now; if we'd shown Clinton some love in his hour of need, welfare and the banking system might have been a little less "reformed". Go back and read, or reread, this great essay; it's as valid as it was four years ago.
That rumor is totally fabricated. Get it? Via Wonkette.

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