The Infallible Right Wing Anti-Charism of Discernment

The Infallible Right Wing Anti-Charism of Discernment February 7, 2013

So our God King’s Court Prophets in the DOJ write him a secret memo telling him he can secretly and unilaterally declare whoever he likes an enemy of the state and order their summary execution by drone.

How does the Right respond?

FOX manages to get it wrong even when it gets it right. A piece that begins with a very perceptive first paragraph:

We no longer have to transport ourselves to a magical alternate reality to ponder what a love child between Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney would look like. Given a Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News, we can conclude that child would look like none other than President Barack Obama.

David Frost, in his conversation with President Nixon, asked him if the president could do something illegal. Nixon responded, “I’m saying that when the president does it, it’s not illegal.” Vice President Cheney, in the War on Terror, took the strong position that citizenship did not necessarily matter when it came to targeting our enemies.

Though Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama was squeamish about such things, President Obama has taken on a very Nixonian-Cheneyesque view of such things. Now, NBC News has uncovered a Justice Department memo making clear what President Obama’s evolved view on terrorists is — kill ‘em regardless of citizenship and do not worry about such small things as constitutional due process.

…still manages to conclude:

Just kill them before they kill us. At some point, we must trust that the president and his advisers, when they see a gathering of Al Qaeda from the watchful eye of a drone, are going to make the right call and use appropriate restraint and appropriate force to keep us safe.

Frankly, it should be American policy that any American collaborating with Al Qaeda is better off dead than alive. Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney should be proud.

What the idiot savant author never questions is how we know, apart from the uncorroborated word of our God King, that the people targeted for killing are “collaborating with al Quaeda”. It takes a special kind of crazy and stupid–a kind found exclusively on the Right–to recognize that Obama is a lawless tyrant trampling on the Constitution who secretly and unilaterally murders American citizens without proof of guilt (and even to denounce his contempt for the rule of law in other matters), and then to cheer for this way cool secret kill list drone murder stuff because it’s all badass and militarist and war on terror-y to slaughter 16 year olds on the Prez’s say so. FOX News chickenhawkery reaches a new plateau in stupidity with this brain-dead celebration of totalitarianism. You can wrap a turd in “war on terror” rhetoric and FOX will eat it and feed it to its viewers. Best part, the audience cheers for secret kill lists *and* goes on yelling about Obama as Hitler at the same time. Smart and not at all crazy or anything.

Oh, and look! A major neocon journal declares the Obama secret DOJ document careful and responsible. Because TERROR!

Glenn Greenwald, who gets it, sums up the immense danger of the Obama Administration policy:

This is the crucial point: the memo isn’t justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US. It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with no due process, of being that. The distinction between (a) government accusations and (b) proof of guilt is central to every free society, by definition, yet this memo – and those who defend Obama’s assassination power – willfully ignore it.

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  • And you’re mostly right, Mark, except it’s not stupidity. It’s dangerous intelligence, and it’s logical consistency on par with Peter Singer at the other end of life issues. Shortly after 9/11 happened, a few months after Falwell publicized the Freedom of Information Act data on the Clinton Administration’s policy of monitoring pro-lifers for “terrorism” (and monitoring the USCCB as the #1 terrorist threat), my wife and I watched a movie about the IRA and the UK’s crackdown on “terrorism” in the 70s. Merely being Irish, and/or Catholic, was grounds for suspicion of involvement with the IRA. People were arrested and detained without due process or habeas corpus. They were “enhanced interrogated.” When Bush said, “We are going to wipe out all forms of terrorism,” I said that all that stuff would happen here, and it has. And I have argued for years that it won’t be long before they turn all this stuff against pro-lifers, and my right wing friends have called me crazy or a secret liberal or whatever. And then, when Napolitano described pro-lifers as a terrorist threat a few years ago, everyone acted like it was some kind of shocking surprise.

  • Cinlef

    But secret unaccountable tribunals with no oversight or procedural rules are the best way to determine someones guilt or innocence, ordinary language bears this out, that’s why calling something a Star Chamber is the highest compliment you can pay to its justice and integrity……./sarcasm

  • deiseach

    The temptation is going to be to use drones in the U.S.A. itself. Drug surveillance, for one. And although the first, second and third attempts to get permission to use drone strikes to take out drugdealers’ headquarters won’t pass, who wants to bet that – for instance – using a drone as support when the ATF, FBI or local law enforcement go in won’t be used?

    And from there it’s only a step to “They were firing on law enforcement so the drone support was activated” and from there it’s easy to get to “Drone strikes before they start firing”.

    Because are you against law and order? Do you want to mollycoddle dangerous criminals? You don’t care if they kill decent police officers, you want to tuck them in with milk and cookies in their soft beds in jail, huh?

    • The temptation is going to be to use drones in the U.S.A. itself.

      Local police departments already are. Now that they’ve got SWAT gear, it’s the next new toy they can get funding for.

      • Katheryn

        My husband is a police officer and this kind of stuff scares the CRAP out of me!

      • KM

        Very true. A sheriff here in Alameda County (California) was planning to use a surveillance drone for “good” things, like “search and rescue.” But an internal memo revealed that the plan was to use the drone for additional purposes such as “investigative and tactical surveillance, intelligence gathering, suspicious persons and large crowd control disturbances.” So the sheriff’s plan has been delayed…for now.

        “Concern has been mounting among privacy groups for months that Sheriff Greg Ahern was forging ahead without rules for deploying a drone in the skies above Alameda County. ”

        • KM

          P.S. If you haven’t seen the terrifyingly funny Tom Tomorrow cartoons about “Droney the Friendly Surveillance Drone,” they’re worth seeing. Just google “Droney the Drone” and you’ll find some at various sites.

    • Stu

      The temptation for some in the US will be to take said drones out of commission if they are fielded in such a capacity here at home.

      As a military man, I detest drone warfare. I think it is cowardly and it makes it way too easy for politicians, who have never worn the cloth, to go for the “easy button” approach to taking military action. The only risk is political which is minimized by simply keeping it secret.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Fox News is undergoing an interesting transition which may be partially responsible for incoherent commentary like this. Dick Morris and Sarah Palin have been discontinued as commentators while Dennis Kucinich, who (along with Ron Paul) was the most anti-war member of the last Congress, has been hired as a commentator. I don’t know where this will end up, but if liberal democrats continue to run the warfare state, I think it’s at least possible for Fox to end up as the anti-war network. Sooner or later there’s just too much cognitive dissonance in constantly condemning Obama while upholding his “right” to be a serial killer.

    • Mark Shea

      The last impression I get from this ridiculous piece of Machiavellian chickenhawkery is that FOX is becoming anti-war. It’s merely becoming more nakedly cynical in its worship of a utopian warfare state unconstrained by law or common decency. To go from that opening to *that* conclusion is one of the most breathtaking acts of intellectual corruption I’ve yet seen from that deeply corrupt organ of propaganda. Morris is out because he is an embarrassing tool who totally blew the election predictions and made FOX look more than usually terrible. Palin is past her sell-by date. But nothing has changed at FOX. We’ll see if Kucinich is used for anything besides crazy uncle punching bag.

  • kara

    I don’t know. It’s clear that there is cognitive dissonance to the article, but to me it reads more lik fear than approval. As in “yes, he has a big dangerous weapon that he can point at US citizens but is’s okay please don’t point it at me.” I mean, come on. They’ve got to be a little paranoid over there, right?

    • Mark Shea

      Nope. That conclusion is quite sincere. What he’s saying, in the final analysis is “Haw! Haw! Pantywaist liberals are finally realizing that they have to embrace lawlessness, cynicism and brutality–like the Great Realists Nixon and Cheney–and stop living in their prissy dreamworld of due process, just war, rule of law and other worthless Western values that stand in the way of neocon consequentialism.” The guy is making the case for “Let us do evil that good may come of it. Because TERROR!”

  • Chris M

    But did anyone see Beyonce’s halftime show? What about that blackout?? That was crazy, right? Huh? Yeah, yeah, drones, secret kill lists, due process, whatever YAWWWNNNN.

    I’m starting to really feel like our entire civilization is past saving in a temporal sense.

    • Mark Shea

      All civilizations are past saving because they were never eternal to start with. ONly human being saveable. The machines they build, including the machines called “civilizations” will all pass away. Ours is hurrying on toward its end with each passing day. That’s why the apostles said, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

  • Margaret

    What is wrong with these people?!?? Assuming all the common sense has been sucked out of their brains, I would still think the combination of slight paranoia plus the instinct for self-preservation should still combine to suggest the thought that THIS COULD GO BADLY FOR MY TRIBE SOME DAY.

  • “joe”
  • Stu

    Amazing the things that people will suggest or agree to in the name of “safety.”

  • Jessie

    It is very unfortunate that the average anti-war lefty under Pres. bush has turned into a warmongering neocon under Pres. Obama. The comments sections in several liberal sites/magazines now read exactly like the comment sections of the conservative sites Mr. Shea is always hammering on. This bipartisanship in favor of the culture of death is not a good thing. I would prefer raving mad dog opposition.

  • Brian

    I shared a link to the Obama white paper that justified drone attacks against US citizens. One of the commentors actually said: “some people need killin’. If I had the power to assassinate people like that, I’d use it.”

    It was such a spot-on caricature of bloodthirsty consequentialists that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Our culture’s vast crop of moral idiots are getting vicarious thrills from Obama’s drone murder spree. Are they also such intellectual fools that they don’t see the possible implications for themselves and their loved ones?

    • Mark Shea

      Are they also such intellectual fools that they don’t see the possible implications for themselves and their loved ones?

      Yes. Yes they are.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Maybe it all seems like a video game to them, totally separated from reality.

  • Mark, your big problem with this article is that you believe that Fox News is right wing. It is not. Fox News is a Murdoch production. Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire specializes in finding a hole in existing media coverage that is large and then going out and filling it. In the US, that meant toeing a conservative line. But they are like a yiddish theater without jews, not authentic and there are voices on the right that simply do not agree. By painting with a broad brush, you both make Fox more than it is and reduce the legitimacy of those on the right that disagree. Is that really what you were looking to do?

    • KM

      Many people associate “Fox” with “Republican Party” as Ana Marie Cox notes in her Guardian article, “Can Fox News break its fatal embrace with the Republican party?” As the ratings climbed, Fox became even more stridently right-wing in its opinions, locking itself into a “feedback loop” that ignored other opinions. The article is a good read.

      • Fox is a Murdoch property. Go look at the politics of other Murdoch properties and you will find that they are not uniformly ideological but uniformly politically well positioned to rake in a lot of viewers who are otherwise underserved. Murdoch has been, is and likely always will be an opportunist. This is why he was great friends with both Thatcher and Blair.

        Ailes, on the other hand, is a Republican. That doesn’t make him the sole arbiter of what is right wing or not. Again, the article paints too broad a brush.

        • enness

          Really, since when did a single commentator or network become “THE Right”?

          I’m sorry I’m not famous on TV and nobody cares what I have to say. I’ll work on it.

          • Why are you replying to me? We’re saying the same thing.

  • Andrew

    Fox also posted this from Judge Napolitano:

    It’s also one of the top headlines on the RSS feed currently. So that’s good.

    • Beccolina

      That was a very interesting article. Thank you for linking to it.

  • Bob cratchit

    More like the love child of Dick Cheney and Edi Amin. I’m surprised he hasn’t invoked the title “God King” upon himself

  • Mark,
    “All civilizations are past saving because they were never eternal to start with.”
    Brilliantly put, and an impossibly difficult idea for some people to grasp.

  • Mark R

    Are you sure that last sentence via Fox isn’t sarcasm?

    • Mark Shea


  • Damien

    Mr. Shea,

    As far as I can tell, the subject article’s author, Erick Erickson, is a Fox News contributor and not an employee or member of the editorial staff. Have you seen Judge Napolitano’s article? He is an employee of Fox News.

    I don’t think that I’d attribute an editorial position to Fox News based on a piece from a contributor.

  • Kirt Higdon

    BTW, it appears that Erickson has just become a Fox News contributor within the last few days. Before that he was with CNN and they dumped him.

  • Phill G

    I agree. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Napolitano, and pretty much all of “The Five” (including Beckel) just to mention a few, have been deriding the use of drones on American citizens. I definitely would not take that article as a representative of all of Fox News

    • Mark Shea

      Good to hear. I don’t believe Hannity or O’Reilly for a second, since those hacks were foursquare in favor of torture and would cheer if a GOPer were doing this. But I’ll give the others credit for it.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Fox is definitely doing some repositioning and so are CNN and NBC/MSNBC. I don’t doubt that it is all opportunistic but no media source should simply be considered ritualistically impure nor have positions attributed to it that it may no longer hold. I suspect that the big shots at Fox have come to the conclusion that the Republicans will be out of power for some time; Obama is not just an anomaly, but the beginning of the wave of the medium term future. I think TMLutas’s description of Murdoch’s strategy is rather insightful. The opponents of big government liberalism will be “underserved” for the next 20 to 40 years. The one department of government traditionally trusted by conservatives, the armed forces, is not only completely under liberal control, but is now the plaything of feminists, sodomites, and drone “pilots”. I think many conservatives will come around to the libertarian viewpoint of Lew Rockwell and Justin Raimondo on
    the use of military force, which is pretty much also the viewpoint of Pope Benedict. If Fox decides to represent the views of these people even opportunistically, why object? At least they will be doing the right thing as long as the Demos are in power and that might be a very long time indeed.

    • Fox’ corporate culture is pretty brash, raucous, and has been up to now open to conservatism. That does not mean that the conservative movement is tied to everything that Fox does anymore than liberals must be tied to the latest opinion coming out of MSNBC.