Conor Takes A Stand


Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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86 Responses

  1. Glyph says:

    The ‘Kill List’ alone is so completely egregious it should be an absolute disqualifier. That is the power of a King, not a president. It is a disgrace. And it is so pernicious because that power can, and eventually will, unless it is openly repudiated in the strongest way possible, be used by some future president as a threat and tool against domestic political enemies.

    It’s one thing to put non-US citizens on a ‘Kill List’ (morality aside, it doesn’t affect the structure of our government); it’s another thing to say that US citizens who have taken up arms and are engaged in war against the US can be killed (war is war and if you are on the field with a gun facing US soldiers, things will and should go badly for you no matter who you are); but to place US citizens who are not engaged in active warfare against the US on this list is, and I really don’t think I am being hyperbolically Black Helicopter-y here, a Catastrophically Bad Idea.

    Life, Liberty, Happiness, DUE PROCESS OF LAW, you know, that thing.Report

    • BobbyC in reply to Glyph says:

      Maybe I’m naive (still!), but I really didn’t see that coming from Obama.Report

      • Glyph in reply to BobbyC says:

        It’s crazy isn’t it? I keep waiting for someone to tell me I misunderstand the situation and it’s not as bad as it looked. So far no one has even really tried on this thread.

        I also want to make clear that I’m not saying that killing foreigners willy-nilly is OK either, just that I think that situation can be more ambiguous and less dangerous to the very concept of democracy here as the President sentencing US citizens to death without any trial (even in absentia; even military tribunal; even show, for God’s sake).

        Why do ppl not think this is a big deal? What am I missing? If I thought for a second that Romney would repudiate this, I would hold my nose and pull that lever for Romney. Heck, if Romney was transparently lying and just said he’d repudiate it, I’d still vote Romney on the off- chance he was telling the truth. It’s that important, that I’d put up with almost any other nonsense Romney got up to, just to undo this one precedent. But of course he won’t.

        Someone please tell me I am overreacting and being paranoid. I am no revolutionary, I am just some regular guy, but this is crazy. It’s worse than drones, it’s worse than wiretapping; so why do we discuss those things instead?Report

        • Nob Akimoto in reply to Glyph says:

          I think it’s perfectly plausible to make the case that Aw-Awlaki was such an exceptional case and his circumstances specific enough that the kill list application was acceptable.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            It might have been nice to try him in absentia first.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Nob, IANAL, but my issue (and nothing in the linked article appears to contradict this) is that the gov’t feels that making these ‘assertions’ and ‘declarations’ and ‘descriptions’ (IOW, what we might call, you know, ‘accusations’) is sufficient.

            But the evidence itself is secret, and has been viewed by no one outside the President’s circle and the Dir. of Intelligence. And that’s leaving aside whether Al-Awlaki did anything more than recruit/propagandize/suggest to others to do bad stuff. Did he? Who knows? Evidence is secret.

            Convicting and sentencing US citizens to death sans court proceedings of any kind or any independent review of the secret evidence, regardless of where they may be hiding or how bad they are, is Wrong (not necessarily the execution itself).

            Again, how about a trial in absentia? Some judicial oversight of any kind? If Tim McVeigh had been in a place where we couldn’t get to him, but we knew he was gonna blow up the Murrah building, we should still need something more than just Presidential say-so based on secret evidence to execute the man, IMO. It is an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible precedent to set.Report

            • Creon Critic in reply to Glyph says:

              Of course this is not a trial in absentia, but Al-Aulaqi v. Obama is worth a look (the father, Nasser Al-Aulaqi, attempting to act on behalf of the son). If he was interested in doing so, Anwar Al-Aulaqi needed to be the one to exercise his rights before US authorities, as the judge put it (emphasis in original pdf):

              All U.S. citizens may avail themselves of the U.S. judicial system if they present themselves peacefully, and no U.S. citizen may simultaneously avail himself of the U.S. judicial system and evade U.S. law enforcement authorities. Anwar Al-Aulaqi is thus faced with the same choice presented to all U.S. citizens.


              • Glyph in reply to Creon Critic says:

                Sounds like a nice little Catch-22 to me.

                All US citizens accused of a crime have a right to due process. That he didn’t volunteer himself doesn’t mean that right is then waived. He wasn’t killed while evading a capture attempt. He was just killed. There was no process in the legal sense. The president is not judge, jury, executioner for a US citizen not on a battlefield.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                Mr. Prosser said, “You were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time, you know.”
                “Appropriate time?” hooted Arthur. “Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when a workman arrived at my home yesterday. I asked him if he’d come to clean the windows and he said no, he’d come to demolish the house. He didn’t tell me straight away of course. Oh no. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver. Then he told me.”
                “But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”
                “Oh yes, well, as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”
                “But the plans were on display…”
                “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
                “That’s the display department.”
                “With a flashlight.”
                “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
                “So had the stairs.”
                “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
                “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display on the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'”Report

    • James K in reply to Glyph says:

      The ‘Kill List’ alone is so completely egregious it should be an absolute disqualifier. That is the power of a King, not a president.

      Funnily enough, at the time of the American Revolution the King of England didn’t have this power, and hadn’t for centuries. Under the Magna Carta if he wanted someone disposed of he either needed to charge them with a crime (and get a jury together to convict) or convince Parliament to pass an Act of Attainder.

      President Obama claims power over the citizens of the US that King George III didn’t.Report

  2. KatherineMW says:

    Awesome piece. As a third-party-supporter myself, I’ve never had an abundance of sympathy for “a vote for [third-party] is a vote for the other guy!” arguments. I can understand how many liberals can choose to vote for Obama – he’s better than Romney on every liberal issue, and I prefer him to Romney on every issue save one – so the “voting for the lesser evil” argument is a reasonable one, but so is the argument that, at some point, you can’t bring yourself to vote for either evil. A vote for a third party is a means of indicating that the third party holds positions which you would like the major parties to take into account.

    (And once in a blue moon, like in Canada, it leads to the third party actually having a shot.)

    Somewhat off topic, but regarding third parties – why don’t the libertarians and greens in the US focus more on state elections? If you got a significant number of either into a state legislature (greens in Oregon, libertarians a Mountain West state), or into a governorship, it might get them a lot more attention on the national stage. And they’d have a better shot at it than they do at the presidency.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Heck, a majority in a major city council would be newsworthy.Report

    • greginak in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Yeah i wish the third parties would do more of the hard unglamorous work of getting elected to to lower state or local offices. They don’t seem to be willing to really build their parties. Sad.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

        I agree that third parties are somewhat weak at the grass roots. Though my own state legislative district (safe Dem) had a Libertarian run a comparatively assertive campaign (I got two things in the mail, and one robo call) – and wound up with 4% of the vote.

        It’s hard to third party build because half the dynamic in party building is to reward your supporters with the perqs, at least the fruits, of power. Which never come the third party’s way. (for the most part)Report

      • Liberty60 in reply to greginak says:

        Local politics are all about utilitarian stuff- fixing potholes and collecting the trash.

        Hard to work up a righteous preen about parking meters on Main Street. Better to focus on national affairs, especially when no matter the outcome, ones fate is unaffected.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Liberty60 says:

          “Hard to work up a righteous preen about parking meters on Main Street. ”

          Ah, I see you don’t listen to much local talk radio.Report

        • KatherineMW in reply to Liberty60 says:

          There’s some Green stuff you could do in local politics. Implement a compost-collection system equivalent to the garbage- and recycling- collection systems, for example. Some places are already doing it. But your ability to fight global warming is certainly limited.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Right now, IIRC… cities are doing more to adopt renewable energy, policy-wise, than states are.Report

          • greginak in reply to KatherineMW says:

            The third parties need to find issues that matter to them on a local level if they want to build up to have an effect at a national level. Maybe just running the city well should be enough of a goal for an ambitious third party that is trying to build a following. Its nice to want to end the WOD or fight global warming but the third parties aren’t having any affect at a national level.Report

        • Plinko in reply to Liberty60 says:

          Local government ought to be a fertile ground for application of libertarian ideals – local governments are havens for petty tyrannies, and the kind that affect people’s day-to-day lives. Zoning, building, land-use, excise taxes, license schemes, prohibitions and permits – nearly all enacted by officials elected by tiny fractions of the populace and subject to the barest of scrutinies.Report

          • Mo in reply to Plinko says:

            Problem is that people love local petty tyranny most of all … as long as it doesn’t apply to them. They want to tell their neighbors what not to do because it annoys them, they just don’t want to be told what to do. However, the desire to tell others what to do outweighs the desire to not be told what not to do.

            Exhibit A: HOAsReport

            • BobbyC in reply to Mo says:

              Even most libertarians recognize that petty tyrants can be quite effective. Almost all successful companies for instance are centrally planned mini-states (but thankfully are opt-in).Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Well, LBJ is my political hero, so I decided a long time ago I’m all right with evil. 🙂

      Seriously though, the problem is FPTP voting. Even if greens and libertarians could get along for twelve seconds and put forth a common ticket, voting for third party in a close race is in effect, helping the other side out.

      If there was an AV/IVR/PR system, you could vote for Nader, Johnson, or whoever, but put Obama or Romney #2. In addition, in a weird way, a libertarian/social democratic alliance makes less sense on the state level than the federal level.

      Take for example, the biggest budget item in state’s – education. A libertarian would want to basically turn everybodies educational taxes into a voucher to use wherever along with removing the power of the unions. OTOH, a social democrat/green would want to increase funding to public schools, help teacher unions, and so on. So, why, should I, as a social democrat, vote for somebody who would destroy, in my view, the public education system in my area?

      OTOH, I think one place libertarians and lefties can get together is in areas where the GOP or DNC in the area is totally dead. For example, libertarians and lefties should get together in Seattle, LA, or Chicago to get Greens in the state legislature or city council. Libertarians and lefties should get together in rural Montana or exurban Texas to get Libertarians in the state legislature or on city councils.

      In addition, I think libertarians, greens, and people like me who are partisan players but realize FPTP systems are bad for the country should work to expand fusion voting, IVR, and so on to as many states as possible through initiatives and referendums.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        I don’t think libertarians and greens have a lot common; quite possibly they have less in common than Republicans and Democrats do. There are greens who are very into public-choice stuff and fostering community action rather than government action, but there are also plenty of greens who are straightforward liberals who just think the Dems (or other liberal/left parties) aren’t focusing strongly enough on the environment. Core green policies also require major government action to halt environmental destruction and global warming, which would be anathema to your typical libertarian (even if global warming does fall under the heading of “negative externality not addressed by the market”).

        I wasn’t trying to suggest that greens and libertarians ally. Heck, the Greens up here in Canada (they finally have 1 federal seat in Parliament) can’t even ally with the NDP, despite sharing at least 90% of the same policy positions and principles.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        LBJ was an honestly decent guy. Very bighearted. Not someone you wanted to be within 10 feet of on a bad day, or on the opposite side of.
        The problem is that good people are never great. And LBJ was a great man.Report

  3. Plinko says:

    I’ve already decided I’m voting for Gary Johnson, though I’m not as adamant about it as Conor.

    If people live in states where the election is close and they think they’d rather vote for Obama because they think Romney would do all of the terrible things that Obama has, plus plus, I won’t argue with them.Report

  4. Creon Critic says:

    Friedersdorf writes,

    ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids

    Really? Obama just picked North Waziristan out of a hat and wondered how many kids he could kill today.

    Drone strikes have been an integral part of the strategy to dramatically degrading al-Qaeda central’s capacities, at least so I gather form the national security reporting (NYT). As to the claim drone strikes represent “a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy”, while I reject those characterizations, I also wonder as to the alternative policy. What should the US do instead, faced with a transnational network attempting execute spectacular attacks against the US and US interests worldwide, what policy should we pursue? Related, what policy do you suspect the national security apparatus of the US is likely to generate?

    While I too would like a stock taking exercise, with an eye towards clearer checks and accountability than the NYT’s article describes (currently, weekly national security video conferences determining target lists), I hardly think the structures and strictures presented (see Harold Koh’s speech to ASIL) mean Obama is, or should be, disqualified from receiving my vote in the way Friedersdorf suggests.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Creon Critic says:

      The problem with the argument against drones is what Creon has pointed out. If the drones magically disappeared, we’d still be doing whatever we could as a nation to root out terrorists.

      In other words, people would have to do these things instead and people are likely to die. Even if you can convince a majority of people that drones are bad policy, you’re not going to convince them that it’s better for somebodies son or wife to die instead of a drone being harmlessly shot down by an RPG.

      Also, if drones did magically appear to any President or Presidential candidate in the past oh, 150 years, I have zero doubt they’d use them in the blink of an eye.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        I refer you both to this other thread.

        The problem with the argument against drones is what Creon has pointed out. If the drones magically disappeared, we’d still be doing whatever we could as a nation to root out terrorists.

        The problem with this defense against drones is that this defense generalizes to all sorts of horrible stuff people (some on the left) routinely argue against. It’s okay to use full-body scanning machines, because if they magically disappeared tomorrow we’d still be faced with the threat of terrorists getting on planes. It’s okay to have warrantless wiretapping of citizens, because if we didn’t we’d still be faced with the threat of terrorists doing terrory-type things.


        Hey, maybe this something ought *not* to be done, even if it *is* the least worst something.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          I’m living in reality. No political candidate will stay in office if they say, “eh, we don’t need to worry about these terrorist camps in country x. It’ll be cool.” So, actually, when it comes to this specific case, something will be done and drones are likely the least horrible thing.

          As long as we’re the world’s leading superpower, we’re going to be bombing various countries and killing people, some of them likely innocents. My job as a voter is to support the guy who has the most realistic and sanest plan to limit that bombing and killing to the minimum it needs to be.

          ‘Cause at the end of the day, even if I want a country that doesn’t want that, the vast majority of the populace actually does want a powerful military taking out terrorists wherever they be. So, better someone is in office who actually does that instead of using it as a feint to invade or bomb countries that are no actual threat to American security.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            What state do you live in?Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              I’m in Washington, but I’m voting for Obama, because the more he runs up the score, the lower the ability for the GOP to obstruct him, and larger the chance it’ll cause a GOP crack-up leading them to nominate a total crazy in 2016.

              Also, in general, I agree with most of Obama’s foreign policy and I find a lot of the foreign policy on the libertarian/far-left side of the aisle to be a little naive to be honest.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I don’t think his score is going to do anything to stop GOP obstructionism… I mean, why would you assume that’s plausible when they dragged their feet through the worst economic recession in decades?

                But one can argue that, I guess.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Oh, I don’t doubt they’ll obstruct as much as possible.

                But, a President who wins 53-47 with largely the same electoral map from his last election can push his own Congresspeople a lot harder than one that wins 50-49 thanks to Gary Johnson in Ohio or something.

                He may not be able to get the GOP to compromise immediately, but he’ll start from a far better position.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I honestly don’t know how you can start with a better position than 2008.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          It’s not so much question begging as it is making the assumption that stopping one (or more) lines of operation in the so called GWOT is an acceptable risk.* My personal opinion is that it is. But that opinion also includes a believe that there *would* be an uptick in worldwide terrorist / asymmetrical attacks would we were to stop. That most of these would actually not be perpetrated on (mainland) American soil, that’s what make its to me an acceptable risk.

          But honest and honorable people can make a different risk assessment.

          *but also necessarily must coincide with an expeditious withdrawal from Afghanistan.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kolohe says:

            Sure, do I think the drones make an appreciable difference to the GWOT? Not really. Maybe at the very outside of things.

            But, from Obama’s perspectives, if a terrorist attack happens on his watch, not only is he toast, but so is any reasonable sane foreign policy because every Republican can say, “see, those liberals stopped invading countries that hate us and as a result, we got hit…again, so we need to invade Iran, blah blah” and thus, we’re back to 2003 where being against the war makes you a crazy far-leftist among Very Serious People.

            So, he’ll keep up the drones, he’ll keep up the war in Afghanistan, and such. In a lot of ways, it mirrors the reason why he can’t decriminalize pot or stop deporting people. You have to close off a line of attack so you can make your own forward push on the same issue down the road.

            Is it kind of crappy and treat people like pawns in a massive game of Risk? Yup. But, I firmly believe that a lot more American soliders would’ve been dead in the past four years if McCain was in charge and a lot more will die in the next four or eight years if Romney wins. Call me a partisan or an ideologue if you want, but I firmly believe this.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              I agree with the basic premise of your assessment, but the ratchet effect disturbs me greatly, as it should you.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kolohe says:

                It does disturb me and I’m with libertarians on the actual civil liberty issues.

                But, the actual “how we’re waging the GWOT” argument is the issue, which is why I think to make any inroads into the American psyche, you can’t conflate the two.

                I think there is a constituency out there for, “stop making us walk through scanners and wiretapping on us without a warrant.” I don’t think there’s much of a constituency for, “shut down the full body scanners, stop wiretapping, and stop droning various countries around the world.”Report

            • I firmly believe that a lot more American soliders would’ve been dead in the past four years if McCain was in charge and a lot more will die in the next four or eight years if Romney wins. Call me a partisan or an ideologue if you want, but I firmly believe this.

              I find this finely principled, Jesse. Yes, it’s a matter of opinion but in the end that’s all we got on things like this.

              So we vote accordingly. On the meta, I may disagree with Jesse but how could I say he’s WRONG? No way of knowing. Re McCain, history doesn’t reveal its alternatives, with Romney nobody can tell the future. It’s not even the modesty of fallibilism–there is no right or wrong to be claimed either way: we’re all in the same fog.Report

            • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              So, he’ll keep up the drones, he’ll keep up the war in Afghanistan, and such. In a lot of ways, it mirrors the reason why he can’t decriminalize pot or stop deporting people. You have to close off a line of attack so you can make your own forward push on the same issue down the road.

              The trouble is that those forward pushes never arrive. Meanwhile kids keep dying in Afghanistan, and in Mexico, and here. Given that Obama’s almost certain to win, registering an affordable protest against that fact seems more and more reasonable.Report

            • bookdragon01 in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              I don’t think his reasons are nearly so cynical as ‘if this happens I won’t get re-elected’. I mean, as little as I liked GWB, I never imagined that he was so fundamentally selfish and evil that the only motivation he had was ‘how will this impact my re-election?’

              A president has a responsibility to protect the country and its people. One can disagree with how he’s going about it, but assuming that his only motivation is how it will impact him is assuming a level of baseness that I think is unfair.

              Also, this president seems to also actually care about the actual people serving in the military. As I’ve said before, if the choice is sending my cousin in to be shot at vs sending a drone in, I’ll vote for the drone nearly every time.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Creon Critic says:

      AQ isn’t much of a threat any more at this point. Most of their attacks are ridiculously amateurish. The question now is – how many innocent lives are we willing to sacrifice, how many people in Pakistan are we willing to terrorize, to try to poke more holes in the organization? My answer to that question – and I suspect Conor’s answer as well – is “few to none”.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to KatherineMW says:

        And it must be pointed out that Pakistan itself has been fighting a campaign with verve and vigor in FATA and NWFP for several years now, and (likely) still is

        It’s useful for Pakistan to blame everything on the US, but that doesn’t mean we’re the sole cause of the problems in that area.Report

      • AQ isn’t much of a threat any more at this point.

        I’m not sure that I agree with this assessment, I think I’d need to see some evidence before I came to this conclusion. As it stands, the sources I’d use to assess this point disagree with your assessment (Rand).

        If AQ not representing a threat is due to destroying their senior leadership by stepping up the use of drones, then couldn’t this be considered a point in Obama’s favor? Friedersdorf argues nearly the opposite, that drone warfare represents a reason, one of three, that should disqualify Obama from receiving my vote. Or at least, prevent me – a right-thinking left on the spectrum voter – from looking askance at him when he says Obama has conducted himself in a fashion that’s thoroughly out of bounds. I don’t think any of the evidence Friedersdorf provides stands up, and certainly not to his points of comparison: evolution denial, using the n-word, and opposing gay rights. Obama never presented himself as against all wars, he explicitly stated that focusing on AQ and Afghanistan was the right thing to do. I don’t mean to be glib or in any way flippant about it, but the NYU-Stanford report verifies what wars look like. Also, I don’t see what policy options are readily available as alternatives but to keep up the pressure on AQ central.Report

  5. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    **IF** I thought that a “good” Libertarian was better than a “bad” Democrat, I might vote for Johnson (I’d vote for him over Lieberman or Ben Nelson, for example). I have this luxury because I live in a “safe” state.

    I am willing to make a (totally unenforceable) deal with any one member of the League who lives in a swing state and is planning on voting for Johnson: I will vote for GJ if you vote for Obama. If interested, hit me up at jhlipton [at] yahoo [dot] comReport

    • James Hanley in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      Does Michigan still count as a swing state? Since the LP stupidly bungled their paperwork, GJ may not even appear on the ballot here, so I’d take you up on that. If you think Michigan is still a swing state.Report

      • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to James Hanley says:

        Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

        It looks like Michigan is trending Dem, but I’d like to help push it further. (Assuming your vote matters…)

        So if Johnson is on the ballot in both Cali and Mich, the swap is on. Deal?Report

  6. Mopey Duns says:

    The hypocrisy of the drone program becomes pretty clear once you imagine a foreign country running a similar program in American territory, with the collusion of the American government. Forget about the hundreds of uninvolved women and children killed, and the atmosphere of helplessness and terror; I imagine that most Americans would be upset about the hundreds of ‘legitimate’ killings as well.Report

    • James K in reply to Mopey Duns says:

      Which is where the “it avoids declaring war” gets especially ludicrous. The US government is deploying robotic assassins across national borders. That’s a flat out act of war. The only reason it gets away with it is that no one is powerful enough to actually do anything about it.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    I will be voting for Gary Johnson in the swing state of Colorado. (I think Colorado is a swing state, actually.) Anyway, I hope that whomever loses will be able to say “if I had won the third parties… I would have won the election.”

    And I hope that the next guy who runs will look long and hard at those third parties before deciding on a gameplan.Report

  8. Nob Akimoto says:

    Given that a lot of the rhetoric is predicated on morality and innocent lives, I’m uncertain how conflating Odyssey Dawn with the Pakistani Theater drone operations is in fact helpful. Despite the uncertainty in Libya, I think it’s difficult to make the case that there’s a similar moral dimension in terms of costs to innocents.

    I am also unpersuaded that the US simply disengaging from the Af-Pak theater will end widescale displacements in FATA and Waziristan. So far what instead seems to happen is that a militant group will piss off ISI or parts of the Pakistani government and end up facing an actual military offensive that displaces hundreds of thousands of people.Report

  9. greginak says:

    Well i had to renew my drivers license today. I checked the DMV webcam to find the emptiest office, downloaded the form in my office and was in the DMV for about 8 minutes including taking the picture, scrawling my illegible signature and paying the fee. The lady was very nice and peppy. So that confirms my views on liberalism and i’m voting for Obama. Bring on the State.Report

  10. Michael Drew says:

    There are folks on the left who [would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers]. But the vast majority don’t just continue supporting Obama. They can’t even comprehend how anyone would decide differently. (My bold.)

    What the fish? What is he even pretending to base this factual pronouncement on?Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …And in any case, why is it so important to him that his big public statement about his voting intention start with this long preamble about his impressions of a bunch of other people’s voting intentions – people among whose number he does not, and has never, counted himself.

      Everyone (well okay, the vast majority of everyone) on the left is completely fine with you not voting for Obama, Conor. They comprehend it completely. They still think you’re a great guy, or at least a guy. I believe I say this with all same degree of evidentiary basis that you say what the vast majority of everyone on the left thinks or can’t.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

      What is he even pretending to base this factual pronouncement on?

      Well, you can look at how some folks out there respond to people who will be voting 3rd party in swing states. That might provide a handful of things that could be seen as “evidence”.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        That’s a pathetic response.

        He’d be on solid ground saying, “Some on the left…” or even, “Many…” (how many’s that, after all?). He is not on solid ground saying what the vast majority can’t comprehend. And anyway, why is it even relevant to his statement of his voting intention?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Heck, we’re not even talking about all of the Democrats who are going to vote for Romney because they see him as a better choice. Conor could have spent a couple of paragraphs on them.

          I’m sure that he’s going from what he gets in comments and what he has emailed to him personally.

          I’m sure it’s very easy for him to forget all of the democrats out there who see a vote for Romney as an equally valid choice (or a vote for a third-party person as equally valid as voting for Obama).Report

  11. Burt Likko says:

    I’m in pretty much the same boat as Mr. Friedersdorf — while I’m persuadable to vote otherwise, and if I tried hard I could form a preference between the two, I’ve yet found no good reason to get excited about either Obama or Romney. The more I look in either camp, the less I like what I see. And I’m in California, a state so deeply blue that Jason’s thesis about individual votes not mattering to the point that one could “vote wrong” and still not make a difference, so what the hey.

    AFAIC, the only reason to vote for O over R, or R over O if you’re thusly inclined, is SCOTUS appointments.Report

  12. Scott Fields says:

    At the link, Conor says…

    If I vote, it will be for Johnson. What about the assertion that Romney will be even worse than Obama has been on these issues? It is quite possible, though not nearly as inevitable as Democrats seem to think. It isn’t as though they accurately predicted the abysmal behavior of Obama during his first term, after all.

    Considering the recent track record of predicting behavior in the WOT based on campaign rhetoric, what’s the basis of thinking a President Gary Johnson will be any better? His campaign website makes no mention of drones. I did some quick Google searches and couldn’t find Johnson expressing an opinion on the use of drones in Afghanistan, though he’s opposed to their use in the US. He is clearly the non-intervention camp and he wants out of Afghanistan now, both positions that I admire.

    I don’t ask this to diminish Gary Johnson in any way. But, if a month before the 2008 election, someone had asked if you thought Obama would massively increase the use of drones in the Af/Pak theatre, how many would have thought clearly he would? I share the disappointment of many here with Obama’s record on civil liberties and the execution of the WOT. That disappointment is exacerbated by the fact that outside of the security issues (Gitmo, drones, Patriot Act), Obama has been remarkably true to his campaign promises.

    There is very little light between the two parties when it comes to national security. Why would one think a different leader would make much of a difference in this realm of policy when it didn’t before?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Scott Fields says:

      Considering the recent track record of predicting behavior in the WOT based on campaign rhetoric, what’s the basis of thinking a President Gary Johnson will be any better?

      Good question. Echoing Burt from a few days ago, I think foreign policy is an area where decisions are largely taken out of the President’s hands, and if so, then a Johnson Presidency would mirror Obama’s and Bush’s to a very large extent.

      But that doesn’t mean a vote for Johnson isn’t useful as an expression of a desire for change. If he receives votes from a significant percentage of the population, it sends a political message to other politicians and parties that there is a block of voters who view ending military imperialism (or whatever and etc.) as their primary policy concern.Report

      • Scott Fields in reply to Stillwater says:

        “Primary” is the operative word here, isn’t it? I have many policy concerns, so I have to weigh this issue against all those others. And even though, I’d give considerable weight to my desire for a paradigm shift in the security state, if the ultimate outcome in terms of WOT policy between President Obama, a President Romney and a President Johnson is pretty much a wash, as I believe it to be, then I have to factor that into the decision as well.

        And, I have to tell you that the idea of giving my vote to a third party as an expression of my desires gets no purchase with me these days and I’ll tell you why – whatever is meant by that expression is open to far too much interpretation. Now, if Gary Johnson were running on a focused “No More Drone Strikes” platform, then lots of votes from him would clearly signal a broad desire for the end of drone strikes. But, in the absence of that, my vote for Johnson would much more likely be interpreted as a “pox on both their houses” statement. In light of the multiple policy concerns calculations referenced above, there is no way I want that to be the message taken from my vote. I have a definite preference for the Weak Kneed Dems over the Nihilist Repubs and I’ll vote accordingly. When the GOP steps back from the cliff, I’ll think about voting third party again.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Scott Fields says:

      To follow up on this…

      As a side note, if Gary Johnson is your homebody because of the drone war, well, there might be a slight issue with that.

      Johnson said that while he wants to end the war in Afghanistan, that doesn’t mean he would necessarily stop drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen, even though he believes they create more enemies than they kill.

      “I would want leave all options on the table,” Johnson saidReport