Part of the reason is that they erode constitutional protections – everything from killing US citizens, to unreasonable searches, to declarations of war without congressional authority. Part of the reason is they represent a horrifying new lethal technology which can be deployed without the risk of loss of life on the part of the aggressor, thus encouraging their use in all manner of situations, often where no lethal force was needed. Part of the reason is that progressive or just reasonable political forces in the US have been unable to stop almost any aspect of their use by the government and military, including armed drones being deployed in the US to kill citizens.
There is a new wrinkle in the expanding, but largely ignored drone discussion: drone graffiti. Wired Magazine reports with some glee the dawn of the age of drone vandalism. [Why “glee” you ask? Perhaps because the article title refers to this first know drone tag as “epic”].
It was completely forecastable that this would happen, but no one happened to. On one level this might be because it makes absolutely no real difference in the world, despite Wired’s hype. There was graffiti before, it does not matter much how it gets there.
i hang with some pretty unusual folks and i hear a fair few conspiracy theories. So the other day before the code pink drone protest that i attended in San Francisco, i was listening carefully to my dear friend Modok who was telling me about the dangers of drones.
Modok and Dianne talked about how the Israeli military was increasingly using drones inside that country often killing civilians, in an effort to prove they are effective for market. But then Modok said something that caught my ear. He claimed that weaponized drones would be deployed inside the US in the coming time. i objected. While i despise the drone program, i was quite confident that while they might well be used for surveillance within the US, there would not be weaponized drones inside this country anytime soon. It was too politically expensive, i countered. Obama and company want to be able to use drones for killings overseas ad bringing them into domestic use might well endanger that tactical advantage.
I was completely wrong. Today, US Attorney General Holder confirmed that under “extraordinary circumstances” the president can order lethal drone strikes inside the US.
Next time i will listen longer.
[This blog post was written back in April, and is re-posted here without images because of Reddit restrictions.]
i often use the word propaganda and it makes many people uncomfortable. When they hear this term they think i am trying to influence them, which of course i am, which is why i use it.
This poster is running around the internet. From my perspective it is clearly designed to influence liberal/progressive voters to give up on Obama. The only items i see on this list which might improve if Mitt Romney were elected president are the rate of raise of the CPI and the prices of gasoline. Gas is largely untouchable by the president (as Bush 2 found out as he tried hard to influence it).
But from a progressive/liberal perspective Romney will make all of these things worse.
Mitt Romney wants to double Guantanamo, Obama shrank the number of inmates at Guantanamo and ultimately his efforts to close it were thwarted by congress which ironically was controlled by his own party.
As for military conflicts, Obama ran on the “right war/wrong war” platform, in which he was advocating conflict in Afghanistan and we elected him in part, based on that promise. Except for contractors, we are out of Iraq (again not for completely the right reasons, the Iraqi’s would not grant our troops legal immunity, so we had to go). Mitt Romney has made it clear he will bomb Iran over their nuclear ambitions. Obama is more diplomatic. Obama unnecessarily went into Libya with NATO, Mitt would have too.
Government accountability is one of my biggest disappointments with Obama. One of his three big platform planks was transparency in government and he has maintained all the Bush 2 secrecy policies and in some cases made them worse.. Mitt Romney is not even willing to release his old tax forms. This might be a wash, but Mitt does not even make transparency noises.
Wall Street and big Pharma would be happy with a Romney presidency, clearly.
If i had more time, i would go through the Obama appreciations and point out the many false representations in it. But i want to take a nap.
One anarchist orthodoxy (as odd as that sounds) is that you should not vote. There are lots of strong reasons for it, as well as the stunningly low probability of actually influencing the campaign results. And all orthodoxies are targets to be considered upending. I will likely vote again this year and if VA is not close in the polls i might select a more radical candidate than Obama (this radical choice presumably has no chance of winning).
i believe all tools should be considered, tho not necessarily all deployed.
Before Obama was elected, i predicted he would disappoint. I certainly had a very strong preference for Obama over McCain, who had been completely co-opted at that point, kissing up to the conservative religious right, who he had dissed 4 years earlier. McCain is the same type of adventurist hawk as Romney, who believes the military capacity the US has is an invitation to use it.
But despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama ran on a pro-war platform (for those who forgot it was the “Iraq is the wrong war, Afghanistan is the right war”) and has bombed Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and then went on using drones to bomb Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. I will do a longer piece on drone killing later, but the practice of coming back and killing people who try to rescue civilians who have been bombed by the first wave of drones, or those attending funeral services, is especially repugnant and mentally taxing of survivors.
Obama caved on his campaign promise to tax the oil companies. Then he proposed cutting tax breaks to oil companies but congress keeps shooting it down. Obama promised transparency, he delivered executive secrecy which makes the Bushies look forth coming. Obama has given FDA to Monsanto.
He is a war criminal, corporate whore and a traitor to the progressives and liberals who elected him. And i am going to vote for him anyway.
I understand the arguments against him. And there are some compelling pitches to not vote for this man. And of course there are compelling anarchist arguments for not voting for anyone ever. If you don’t want to vote at all, i can support you.
Jill Stein has an impressive set of progressive stands as the Green Party presidential candidate. If you wanted to vote for her, i could get behind that.
But if you are part of this uber naive group of progressives/radicals who think there is no difference between Obama and Romney, i am going to call you out as the idiot i think you are.
These folks point to all of Obama’s serious disappointments and say “he is a tool of the system, just like Mitt Romney, there is no difference.” This is like saying a canoe and an aircraft carrier are both boats, so there is no difference.
There is a concentration of wealth problem in the US. Romney is clear he plans to make it worse by taxing the middle class to pay off the rich who are funding his campaign. Obama is less bad in this. There is a war on reproductive rights going on in this country, Obama has put forward supreme court justices who are holding it back. Paul Ryan backs the Republican party platform of no abortions, no exceptions. Which then supports the 31 states which currently give visitation rights to rapist fathers. The vacancies with the supremes will determine this issue for decades to come. Oh, and i would rather not go to war with Iran, something Obama has been avoiding so far and something the Romney team is planning on once they are elected. Romney invented ObamaCare, but to get the nomination he had to flip positions on it, like he did on abortion. I have no interest in going back to tens of millions uninsurable because of pre-existing medical conditions (and there are better solutions than ObamaCare, but replacing it with ER rooms is not a solution). There are solar panels on my commune because of Obama stimulus money, Mitt Romney and Ryan are only interested in supporting the oil and nuclear industries. Saying there is no difference between these two men’s policies is either confessing your myopic privileged status because your personal affluent world does not change (while millions of others less rich than you does) or that you are merely stupid.
If you don’t want to vote, i get it. If Obama disgusts you and you want to vote for a 3rd party candidate, have at. If you live in California, do what ever you like. But if you are pretending the presidency is so simple that there is no difference between the two bought off major party candidates, i suggest you pitch this madness to someone who is not going to scream at you about how pathetic your analysis is.
A couple of things in the news have caught my eye recently. The first is the Secret Service operatives liaison with prostitutes in Columbia. The second is performer Ted Nugent’s recent incendiary comments about Obama. What i find important about these two stories is 1) They are getting quite a bit of media attention and 2) they dont actually matter.
The Colombian prostitute scandal is, in my mind, a puff piece (or a huge collection of puff pieces) because prostitution is a structural part of US military operations, both internationally and within the US. Highly paid military personal in regions where they do not speak the language or dont have any other connection to the local culture will unsurprisingly turn to local sex-for-hire services. That these secret service and military staff got caught makes it news, but does not make it in anyway unusual or surprising. And in this case so far, it appears that no one has been hurt, nor any secrets lost.
Ted Nugent said he thought Obama was “vile” and “evil” and “anti-American”. And went on to say he would be “dead or in jail’ a year hence if Obama is reelected“ This country has both guarantees for free speech and punishes people who threaten the life of the president. What i found interesting was the Mitt Romney had actively courted Nugent, who is a gun extremist and revered in some far right circles. Romney was only willing to criticize Nugent that his remarks were not civil, Romney certainly has the necessary slippery talking skills needed to be president. The more i pay attention to Romney, the more dangerous he seems to be, the worst type of political opportunist. And the current polls are showing Obama and Romney in a dead heat.
But at the end of the day, neither of these scandals make any difference. The secret service will have to be more secretive about it’s hiring of prostitutes – this should not be that hard for them, they are in the secrecy business. Ted Nugent will say more silly things and he will not be considered a real threat against the president.
At the same time, there are real scandals which are not being covered. There are myriad of these, but one of my personal favorites is Obama’s use of predator drones. By one estimate the US has killed over 2200 Pakistani civilians with predator drones. For me this would qualify Obama as evil and vile. And since these are clearly illegal, someone might even stretch it to anti-American (not me, this is very much in keeping with the American empire plan). And Romney is not complaining about these, because his plan is to continue these policies and their under discussed state crime. Part of this scandal is the reason these lives dont matter to Americans is that these are poor, non-white, non-Christian people. Were we gunning down Scandinavians, there would be significant media and public outcry.
I remember the upset in the US when an 11 year old girl was killed in the Rome airport by Palestinian militia in 1985. There was lots of media and citizen outrage about this. US drones assassinating thousands more innocents than these few “important” victims are clearly evil, vile and not at all scandalous.