Babble Fish Enabled

Friday, March 8, 2013

Smooth Criminal: A Dashboard Barry Confessional

 It was Septemeber 30, 2011 and NPR was reporting Muslim cleric, alleged al-Qaida leader and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone-fired missile in some far off province of Yemen. Two weeks later his son 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki would meet his end as collateral damage in a similar attack, this one allegedly aimed at another radical al-Qaida leader.
Two America citizens targeted for killing by their own government with only one trial in absentia to show for due process. The thought was chilling. This sort of executive overreach would have elicited harsh rebukes had it been committed by G.W Bush, but under Obama, well, it still felt wrong but it also felt right. Conflicted I sought my moral compass, surely it could provide some much needed clarity.
My friend owns a royal blue 1971 VW Microbus. Over the years this outdated hippy steed has hauled him from concert to concert like some burnt-out stoner dharma bum, his vehicle a symbol of his elitist Northwest liberal heritage. It was late 2008 when this pot-mobile received her patron saint, and my moral compass, Dashboard Barry.
Shirtless and flashing his signature smile, Dashboard Barry is a Barrack Obama bobblehead that looks ready to hit the waves with a surfboard under his left arm, his right hand flashing "hang loose", and with his relaxed demeanor, I like to imagine he's just coming from a session with the choom gang. It is this effortless calm he exudes that fosters my trust. Uncertainty from the earlier reports still reeling in my gut, I ask, "You wouldn't target American citizens abroad unless you really had to, right?" I tap his bobble head for a response. He nods in agreement and I am relieved. An indiscriminate murderer our President is not.  Sadly, there are fringe elements in this country that do not understand this.
Nowhere was this disconnect more apparent than Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster of the Senate confirmation for John Brennan as head of the CIA the other dat. Using the cover of civil liberties, Paul took nutbag obstructionism to a new level, stalling governmental progress over a professed disgust towards use of drone strikes targeting American citizens, i.e., the possibility of the President ordering a strike against a citizen on US soil.
Paul was not satisfied with Eric Holder's response on the hypothetical use of drones on domestic targets, and so with the backing of only one other senator, Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon, the distinguished gentleman from Kentucky sought to hold up the confirmation of one of the few Obama appointments to receive mass bi-partisan support. What life events imbued Paul with such a sense of self-importance that he should feel the need to make a scene over a hypothetical abuse of presidential powers is beyond me. Perhaps something from his upbringing.
It seems to me that Sen. Paul would be better served working to accept the new normal. That's what music-journalist turned MSNBC personality Touré has done, with aplomb. He recognizes that many of President Obama's actions could be considered war crimes and would be found abominable had they been performed by Bush II. Despite this admission Touré goes on to say that because Obama is a constitutional scholar-- more than that, because he is a good man-- we should trust his judgement on such weighty matters. I can't disagree.
Like St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Cicero before him, President Obama has ever been grappling with the concepts behind a "just war", he has struggled with how to justify exporting violence as a means to lasting peace. With the philosophies of his forebears providing a moral framework the president has attempted to codify into law the process by which he chooses names from his disposition matrix. He is methodically retrofitting the constitution to fit his vision of justice so that we are not encumbered frivolities like the Geneva conventions, habeas corpus, posse comitatus or any other Latin phrases of whose meanings I am ignorant. In times like these our country cannot afford any hesitation. We are at war with a savage faceless enemy, to hesitate is to die.
I'm sure the President has had many a tortured debate with himself on the best means of fighting terrorism, while also limiting collateral damage. I'm sure he has asked himself "Barry, is setting up  an assassination program so secretive that its existence cannot be confirmed or denied, instead existing in a quantum state of uncertainty, really the best means of combating the perverted ideal of terrorism?" To which he has answered, "Yes, Other Barry. Yes, it really is." The moral and emotional strain of these decisions cannot be underestimated.
Were not President Obama not a constitutional scholar perhaps there could exist concern about the legality of some of his policies. But it's more than his Harvard Education and deep understanding of the constitution that calm any worries about his policies, there is genuine feeling that Barrack Obama is a rational, reasonable, self-aware family man. It's the way he speaks to the public that provides a sense of inclusion and understanding that Bush's limited intellect and beady eyes could never convey. The American public trusts this man.
Barrack Obama is far from a saint, and he certainly has his flaws. For example his financial policy is a disastrous rehash of failed economic principles; he appointed the Vice-President of oft-vilified big ag company, Monsanto, to be the head of the FDA; his appointment of Wal-Mart's budget Operator to head the budget office doesn't exactly signal a trong backing of worker's rights; environmentalists have to be worried about him giving the ok on the Keystone XL pipeline. Still whether he is singing a few bars of Al Green, giving fist bumps to white house janitors, or hooping it up with the Secret Service in his down-time, Barrack Obama always seems so affable and the American public by and large loves him for it. Liberals just can't stay mad at the guy, no matter how many times he offers to needlessly cut Social Security.
It is this illogical love that drives me to the arms of Dashboard Barry again and again. News is released that HSBC received a fine equivalent two 5 weeks profits for their role in a massive money laundering scheme for terrorists and drug cartels, and I ask Barry is the punishment can be considered justice. His silent, grinning nod answers affirmative. He talks about needing to improve our public schools and then offers massive incentives to charter schools and I question whether this is the best way to improve our education system. He nods again. And I notice again his left hand reminding me to hang loose. That Dashboard Barry, he has all the right moves.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Postman's Last Ring

America must rein in the runaway of federal waste if she is to survive in this austere new world. Government spending has become a fatted beast that consumes grotesque amounts of tax dollars while proving nearly useless in its limited services, Lady America can suffer such wasteful gluttony no longer.  With Congress preparing to vivisect social services and President Obama again demanding his pounds of flesh from Social Security and Medicaid in order to avoid the violent cuts of sequestration, the attitude towards government programs on Capitol Hill is, "If they move, kill 'em!"

The downside to such a scattershot approach is the indiscriminate damage on functioning and non-functioning government programs alike. Still, if a beloved service like the US Post Office has to go down unnecessarily to save us from our own voracious debt, then so be it. Better by you, than me as Old Taft would say.

Before we start to wax nostalgic about the glory days of mail delivery let me remind you that the Post Office has lost $1.3 trillion over the last three months of 2012 alone. That's a monumental amount of waste, even for our government. This failure only proves the truism that the United States Government is horribly incompetent in most all it does, and would be better served handing most services over to the efficient management of the private sector.

The factualists out there will counter with claims of a Congress-imposed full-guarantee of seventy five years worth of pensions, as if such a trivial obligation could really sink such a storied service like Post Office. Sure, it would be complete madness for a private sector company to honor such exorbitant pension programs, but government jobs always provide insanely cushy pay and benefits, so it seems only fitting they would have to pre-fund pensions for so many years out.

The advent of email was a major nail in the coffin of the US Postal Service, with pen and paper made antiquated  the only people who still sent letters were basement-dwelling curmudgeons scrawling out manifestos to be sent in with the letters to the editor. The proliferation of international overnight carriers like FedEx, UPS, DHL, and others made the post office's snail-paced deliveries redundant. Sure the price was triple with private carriers, but it got there twice as fast!

So you see, it was not this unprecedented mandate to pre-fund three quarters of a century worth of pensions that closed the post office, but instead it was an inability to evolve with the businesses the grew up to challenge its monopoly. There is no need to grow wistful over the postman's last ring, no need mourn the loss of an American institution, instead we should all trust in the infallible hand of the market to more efficiently to deliver mail, for triple the price. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Anti-Capitalist Militants Impose Limits on Swiss Cheese

Long has Switzerland been renowned the world over for its delicious chocolate stores, its precision clocks, and its long-held neutrality, and while much international good will remains for Swiss clocks and chocolate, respect for their impartiality has been compromised. Recent radical legislation has put this Alpine nation on the path to becoming a failed state, filled with rogue factions posing threats to U.S and world interests. The resulting chaos could destabilize big Swiss banks whose failures would have a cascading effect upon the international finance markets, toppling Wall Street in a surge of uncertainty.  Such a scenario must not be allowed to come to be, lest the world follow America's Swiss demise.

Popular sentiment here in the U.S and abroad seems to say, "First they came for the billionaires, but I didn't say anything because I could only afford two seasonal European vacation homes, not four like the fat cats down the way."  It is this type of thinking fractures the bonds of society, seeking to pit us against our neighbor and using manufactured jealousy to spur support for destructive policies.

Much like the attempts to raise the minimum wage in this country, installing a wage cap seeks to impose arbitrary limits on the financial possibilities of an individual. This is tyranny plain and simple. The leftist utopian dream of imposing a higher minimum wage and a lower maximum wage inevitably leads to a narrowing the gap between the two until there exists only a single national hourly pay rate, with the workers lacking any kind of autonomy, wage slaves chained to a broken system.

Ever vigilant against oppression in all its forms, America has long been the sole protector of human freedoms around the globe. After ten plus years and some number of official and semi-official wars there exists cynics would would question the wisdom of once again playing world police. But as long as freedom is impinged --financial or otherwise-- it is our responsibility to use all our given power to defend it. We can worry about "morality" after the problem is solved

The Department of Justice's white paper on lethal drone use made clear the point that a threat to this nation's financial interests and security was tantamount to a threat to US national interests and security, and must be dealt with accordingly. We cannot allow a violent reactive mob of majority infringe the rights of a hard-working, high-paid minority. We must take action. A drone strike on Thomas Minder, the man behind the Swiss anti-free market legislation, would send a message to any future fascists that Lady Liberty has no problem cutting down those that stand in her way. After all, our freedoms won't defend themselves.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Obama Doctrine: It's Comin' Right For Us!

With the Department of Justice's release of a "White Paper", the parameters for drones on the use of lethal force against American citizens are becoming a bit more clear, despite the drone program remaining in a state of quantum uncertainty that prevents either confirmation or denial of its existence. Despite much hand wringing by liberals who have gone a little soft and are defending the civil liberties of al Qaeda, the program is not an excuse for wanton death and destruction of anybody anywhere. Quite the opposite, in fact. Lethal force is only ever authorized when a person poses an "imminent threat", a description that places severe, and quite wise, restrictions on whom our Government is targeting for disposal.

You see, the President is hardly simple-minded good ol' boy driven by Ahab-ian levels of obsession and revenge. Already this puts his tactics ahead of Bush's reckless actions, for sure. He's not ordering strikes hopped up on bloodlust and hate. Instead, he is calmly and rationally constructing a legal framework that allows an unprecedented accumulation of executive power so that he can better defend this country. He was president of the Harvard Law Review, as well as a constitutional professor at Chicago Law School, after all, so you know we can trust him.

By limiting the course of lethal action to a person who represents an imminent threat to US security, the American public can rest assured that the use of drone strikes is not an arbitrary act of aggression, but instead a meticulously planned event only ever used in matters of national defense.

Because groups like al Qaeda have such a deep unyielding hatred for American freedoms, they are constantly planning attacks against our great country. The events of 9/11 proved that even with the utmost vigilance tragedy can strike. We cannot stand idly by as evil marshals forces against us. Much like the various "Stand Your Ground" laws on the books around the country, the "white paper" provides legal exemption for preemptive self-defense, proving that the best defense is a good offense. 

Despite its best efforts, the defense apparatus of the United States is not omniscient, and therefore can never be 100% sure that some al Qaeda leader isn't holed up in a cave somewhere with a cadre of fanatics, plotting the demise of this beautiful nation. As such, any threat to America must be treated as imminent, and dealt with accordingly. Much like how George Zimmerman dealt with the imminent threat of Trayvon Martin.

Because the DOJ "white paper" makes clear that we now live in a constant state of imminence, the removal of foreign threats is no longer slowed by the tiresome and inefficient slog of due process. There is no wait for a warrant. No dog and pony show of presenting evidence for trial. No opinion of a judge can stay the hand of justice from meting out lethal punishment upon an evildoer. For this we should be very glad.

Americans should be thrilled that quaint twentieth century notions like international law and the Geneva conventions can no longer stall protective action and leave us vulnerable to those who would see us destroyed. We have ceded power to our unitary executive, leaving him to make the determination if a threat is, in fact, imminent. If it is, we can trust our Nobel Peace Prize winning president to protect this country, with lethal force. After all, it was coming right for us!