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Archive for March, 2013

Recently, there has been much discussion of possible attacks on U.S. citizens by drones operated by the U.S. government. This became the “issue of the day” when Attorney General  Eric Holder told Congress that he would not rule out the use of drones to attack American citizens. This of course conjures up images straight out of films like War of the Worlds or Independence Day. Imagine unmanned space ships,or government drones, taking potshots at panicked and unsuspecting U.S. citizens. There would be no place for anyone to hide! And of course, that’s OK with Eric Holder, and presumably President Obama, for whom he works. The media of course loved it because it is a story sure to stir up emotions and then people will watch the television news or buy a newspaper and the sponsors and advertisers will capture a large audience and sell more product. It’s a great story and sure to sell as long as it remains in the minds of the public, which it is certain to do for at least a day two until they are distracted by something else, like maybe the resignation of the Pope, and then the media will have to find a way to turn that story into some sort of advertising or commercial success.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering. What about the drones? Will they be used against U.S. citizens in the future? I think the answer is this: No. There is a good reason for that – it doesn’t make sense. The principal advantage of a drone is that it doesn’t have a pilot, so it can fly into really dangerous skies and if it gets shot down by the enemy, there is no pilot to get killed. In the U.S. it is unlikely that criminals or others who are enemies of the state would be walking around with anti-aircraft weapons. So, the government can easily use a small piloted airplane or helicopter to watch people and launch missiles at them if they want to. However, it is more likely that airborne platforms would be used for surveillance and ground forces, like the FBI or State Police would be guided by the pilot to the location of the bad guys. That’s what happens now and it seems to work pretty well. It’s hard to see why a drone would be be any better.

The real thing people should be afraid of is not whether the government has the right to track down and apprehend criminals, either from the ground or the air, or whether the government has the right to shoot it out with a criminal. This happens all the time. There are even times when the government launches an attack that will likely kill a criminal when it is deemed too dangerous to try to capture the criminal alive. Just recall Bonnie and Clyde.

So, should we be afraid of the U.S. Government? You bet we should be. Should we be afraid of President Obama? You betcha there too. Why? Well, it’s not because of drones; its because of the law and the Constitution. Let me give you an example: the Iraq War. Let me give you another: The Afghanistan War. Let me give you another: Guantanamo. How about one more: locking up American citizens by the U.S. military on U.S. soil without a trial on order of the President. So what is wrong with these? They are all in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Only Congress can declare war according to the Constitution of the United States, yet Congress has not done so since World War II. Instead, Congress has sidestepped its responsibility and delegated authority to the various Presidents to do as they see fit whenever military action might be required.

Similarly, the indefinite imprisonment of people, whether they are U.S. citizens or not, without a trial is also a violation of the U.S. Constitution – something that the President and Congress seem quite comfortable with.

The recent uproar about the use of drones against American citizens is silly. It doesn’t even make tactical sense. If the government wants to come for you via the air, you can bet they will be using manned helicopters or maybe small spotter planes and a whole bunch of people on the ground. The drone thing is fiction. Unfortunately, the gradual dismantling of the Constitution by the current and several former Presidents, with the spineless acquiescence of Congress, is something we should all fear. Yet, the media never mention it at all. Could it be they are too afraid to bring the issue up?

Or is it just not the sort of news that will sell product?

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If there is one thing that today’s U.S. government excels at, it is obfuscation. Take, for example the current fiasco known as sequestration. The ordinary citizen might be forgiven if he thought that this was something like castration. Actually, he would be pretty close. However, for the United States, it might be even worse. 

I suppose its a tip off when politicians hide behind words derived from Latin that have migrated into old English law. By the time the word gets to America by way of the Roman and British empires, the U.S. politicians can make the word mean anything they want it to mean. It’s sort of like the words in Alice in Wonderland

The Latin word sequester, which is the root for sequestration, simply means a depositary, i.e. a person with whom you store something of value. So, you might surmise that when the government sequesters something, they are putting it aside for safekeeping. However, in today’s U.S. government-speak it means taking away money from lots of necessary or vital programs in order to cause so much suffering to the people, that the weakest part of the government will cry, “UNCLE!!” and give up, and the other part of the government will have its way. Clever, isn’t it?

One might have thought that President Obama, good guy that he is, would have acted as Superman and said, “Not only no, but HELL NO!” But he didn’t. Instead, he grinned like the Chesire cat and signed the Sequestration Legislation into law, thus setting in motion a series of gut wrenching, job killing , government spending cuts that helps no one. Then he gaily went about fiddling while Republican Senators and Representatives heads should have exploded (figuratively), like what happened to the invading Martians in the classic movie, Mars Attacks. (Still one of my favorite movies, and I have no idea why. But I do like the song.)

Unfortunately, the heads of the Republicans did not actually explode because their brains are protected by being in thrall to the “Tea Party” fanatics (no relation whatsoever to the heroes of the real Boston Tea Party) who seem to make up the core of today’s Republican Party – at least the intellectual wing of the Party. Clearly, the entire Republican Party has drunk the Kool-Aid, and it is that which apparently prevents their heads from exploding.

Even so, it seems that President Obama has failed to notice this lack of exploding heads amongst the Republican brotherhood who are meanwhile doing their very best Alfred E. Neuman “What me worry?” impression, i.e. they are doing nothing. 

While America burns.

OK. I know. I get it. They’re not really that stupid, are they? No, of course not. What’s really happening is that they are all playing a giant game of chicken, you know, like when two teenagers get in their cars and drive towards each other at 100 miles per hour and then we get to see who is chicken when one of them turns away in order to avoid a horrific, head-exploding, collision. The thing that I worry about is that I’m not sure that either Obama or the Republicans have the brains, or the maturity, of a hormone-saturated teenage boy, or for that matter even the brains of a hormone-saturated teenage bull.

This, of course, could be very bad news for the country. But who cares? After all, the members of Congress are mostly millionaires and you can be sure the U.S. Lobbyist Core in Washington will see to it that they are well taken care of, no matter what. And Obama? What does he care if massive layoffs go into effect and the nation goes into an economic death spiral and people start fleeing the country for the good jobs in Mexico? After all, won’t that solve the illegal immigration problem? As they say, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

So maybe Nero had the right idea, when Rome burns, go with the flow. Don’t worry be happy. See! That’s why Obama actually signed the law ordering the massive budget cuts! It’s the Roman way: first you sequester, then you burn the city down, then you fiddle while Rome burns. 

Except for one little thing. Sequester doesn’t mean “cut”. It doesn’t mean slash the budget. It means to set something aside in a safe place until a dispute is settled.

Wait a minute, maybe I’m just taking this thing way too seriously? Maybe we should all be more like the President and the Republicans.

Maybe we should just do like Nero did after he finished fiddling: go to bed and take a nice sequester. Then, we’ll all feel better in the morning…

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