Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said in each case a decision to use lethal force against a U.S. Citizen must get special permission...He also said there are criteria that must be met to authorize the killing of a U.S. citizen that include "whether that person is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, whether that American is a threat to other Americans. Those are the factors involved."
February 04, 2010
To amend and extend my remarks: actually (and I of all people should remember this, since I acted as counsel for Friends of the Earth on more than one occasion) Congress did pass the Clean Air and Water Acts and the Endangered Species Act in the early 1970's, and created the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee it all. Those statutory enactments had actual, tangible results that are still everywhere around us, the completely degraded state of our environment notwithstanding. I mean, it's all relative, and you have to put up with minor inconveniences like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that roiling gyre of plastic soup just west of here (twice the size of Texas, in fact). And the impending demise of life on Earth because of climate change, which Congress cannot get it together to deal with. Stuff happens.
February 02, 2010
Frank Rich mentions Alan Brinkley briefly en passant in Rich's Sunday column to the effect that Brinkley has written that Congress is now “entering its fourth decade” of failing to deal with any pressing national problem. A while back, I read Brinkley's The Unfinished Nation, and that is certainly one of the themes of this “liberal” history professor at Columbia. (I think it's kind of telling that we categorize historians according to political ideology, as if admitting the truth of the old bromide that history is simply the polemics of the victor.) The fiasco of “health care reform” over the last year can be added to Congress's Marx Brothers approach to national priorities. Brinkley dates things from the beginning of the Reagan Administration (I guess that's why he's “liberal”), but I'm trying to remember anything which happened in the 1970's which might be characterized as a Congressional breakthrough.
I think we need to go back to the Great Society, and the institution of Medicare to find anything definite which was passed by Congress specifically to assist the American populace. That can be added to Social Security, a Depression-era program, and you've got the main components of the “Entitlements.” The 60's also saw the triumph of Civil Rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act, which eliminated onerous obstructions of the exercise of the franchise by African-Americans (there's a nice museum in Selma, Alabama, devoted to this landmark breakthrough, worth seeing, just over the river past the “Bloody Sunday” bridge).
I think Brinkley's on to something, which brings up a profound question: what the hell has Congress been doing for the last forty-five years? Really, nothing much at all, which is why I guess I never expected much from this latest effort. If we wanted to generalize broadly (and what else is a blog for?), I guess one could say the goal has been, certainly since the Reagan years, to minimize the role of the federal government except in its one dominant sphere of influence, the maintenance of a big military apparatus and the prosecution of wars of dubious utility. Beginning with the amateurization of air traffic control (what a great idea, Gipper!), government has mainly been about getting out of the way. Out of the way of regulating banks or financial markets, out of taxing the populace (except on a regressive basis, with marginal rates declining), out of protecting American jobs by facilitating the transfer of jobs overseas with the tax code and with numerous free trade agreements designed to encourage offshoring and importation. The relentlessness of Congress's anti-American bias (Big Business excepted, which can leverage the globalization paradigm to its great benefit), has resulted in the clear hollowing-out of America's middle class, the concentration of wealth at the top to an extreme degree, the destruction of the tax basis (aided and abetted in particular by W's mindless tax cuts), soaring deficits, an epidemic of foreclosures, and looming national bankruptcy.
Quite a resumé. Somewhere in there Congressional politics became about one thing and one thing only, the pandering to the public on “social issues,” and, of course, the dire state of our national security. I mean, we're just never going to be safe enough, are we? Since Congress's main donors (Big Business and their brigades of lobbyists) don't really care about any of these issues other than the military-industrial complex, the financial, pharmaceutical, insurance and banking sectors are perfectly content with whatever arrangements Congress works out on the Yahoo Agenda. Sure, gay marriage, no gay marriage, abortion, no abortion: whatever, dudes. Just don't regulate, don't tax, and keep fighting all these pointless wars, because that's how we can tap into the tax revenue on a sustained basis (when you're not bailing us out).
Am I counseling despair? Well, yeah. What do you think? Congress has been asleep for forty-five years, longer than Rip Van Winkle. The tax receipts are down to $2 trillion, against a budget that will surely come in at $4 trillion, as soon as it is Christmas-Treed. The Federal Reserve is playing shell games to create the appearance of money where none exists. Our foreign creditors are looking elsewhere for places to invest. And we still can't cut a dime from military spending; on the contrary, it keeps going up.
Comes a time, you see, when all this neglect begins to exact a terrible price. Not necessarily in a “linear way,” either. As Mike said in The Sun Also Rises, answering a question about how he went bankrupt: “Gradually, and then all at once.”
Posted by Waldenswimmer at 12:12:00 PM