The Difference Between Obama’s Drone Program and Bush’s Water-Boarding

Yesterday I watched quite a bit of cable news. The drone story was all over the place. MSNBC’s coverage took some aim at the White House’s position on the legality of drones, but it was nothing too noteworthy, CNN reported on it in their usual boring way and FOX News, as always, incorrectly attacked the “liberal media” for not covering the story. I personally am no longer a big fan of any of the three big cable news networks. FOX News hasn’t been mildly objective since its inception, CNN can put anyone to sleep, and MSNBC took a huge turn left after the 2008 election and is more repetitive than a Rihanna song. Because of my dislike for the three networks I normally disregard a lot of what they say. However, last night FOX News was repeating a comparison that I found to be absolutely ridiculous. That comparison was between water-boarding, or as FOX and neo-conservatives LOVE to call it, “enhanced interrogation” and Obama’s drone program. Firstly, I’d like to point out the hypocrisy in what FOX News is saying. The personalities at FOX vehemently defended water-boarding despite the overwhelming legal consensus that it is torture and violates the US Constitution. On the drone issue, there is nothing near a consensus, but not one FOX personality defended it. Also, there is one key difference between what the Obama administration has done and what the Bush administration did. That difference is transparency. We didn’t find out about water-boarding in the Bush administration until after it was already over. Also, if Zero Dark Thirty is to be believed it happened much more often than previously reported. The Obama administration today has  released more documents detailing the drone program. I might disagree with the Justice Department’s justification, but at least I know it.

Feel free to sound off either here or on my previous post.

Justice Department Memo: Drone Strikes on Americans are Legal

Hi guys! I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m back and plan on posting the next couple of days.

 

Recently, in a a Justice Department memo obtained by a NBC News, the legal justification for the killing of American citizens connected to al-Qaida was explained. Such citizens must meet three criteria: The citizen must pose “an imminent threat of violent attack” against the US, capturing the citizen must not be feasible, and it all has to be done within “law of war principles.”

 

I find this issue to be very troubling. I personally think that what The Obama administration has done with drones is disgusting. We have dropped countless drones in countless places, killing a countless number of people, including innocent women and children. Unlike typical warfare, the use of drones is very disconnected. You don’t actually have to see the people you are killing.

 

I think the killing of US citizens without due process is straight out unconstitutional, but even if the killing of American citizens by the government could be constitutional, the memo is exceedingly vague. What defines an imminent threat? What is and isn’t feasible? Is infeasible completely impossible or just improbable?

 

Despite my comments, I think that this issue is an extremely difficult one for the President to deal with. He has to make a tough decision between risking the death of American soldiers for the sake of due process or bypassing due process and killing an evil individual with the murder of civilians on his mind. In this case I think the President is taking the easy way out instead of taking the moral high ground, and I think that is despicable.

 

I’m going to end this post by asking a question. If the government can legally justify killing citizens overseas, what stops them from killing citizens here in the United States?

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, Accused of Having Sex With Underage Prostitutes

Prior to the election in November, the Daily Caller, a prominent conservative blog, reported that New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez traveled to the Dominican Republic with friend and donor, Salomon Melgen, to engage in sex with prostitutes. The accusation was barely reported and hit the back-burner. The story has recently resurfaced now that the FBI has investigated Salomon Melgen for reasons that are, in part, unknown. Bob Menendez has denied the allegations of engaging in sex with prostitutes saying the accusations, “are manufactured by a politically motivated right-wing blog and are false.” Menendez has however repaid $58,500 to Melzer for using his plane, despite maintaining that the two trips that racked up that sum were personal and not political. Menendez did report a third trip as a political donation and gift. Menendez has just succeeded John Kerry as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

I have absolutely no clue whether or not what the Daily Caller reported is true. All I can look at is facts. Menedez did take three trips to the Dominican Republic with this shady individual, but otherwise the only evidence we currently have is the word of a couple of prostitutes in the DR. To me, that is hardly enough evidence to condemn anyone. Some who may want to believe this story point to the National Enquirer story about John Edwards that turned out to be spot on. My reply to them is that despite that one true story reported to the National Enquirer they report dozens of false stories annually. Currently the National Enquirer is reporting that Michelle Obama is in a jealous rage. The Daily Caller isn’t quite the National Enquirer, but it definitely isn’t the Associated Press. I’m going to wait and see what happens on this, but it would certainly upset me very much to find out that these accusations are baseless.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Introduced by Members of the Senate

Hi guys, I’d like to start my post today with an announcement. I gave it  a little bit of thought and decided that posting daily would be impossible for two reasons. The first being I’d never be able to keep up, and the second being I’d run out of topics to write about. So I’ve decided to not write on weekends and write as much as possible, without any promises as to the frequency of my blogging. In a side note, I was very tempted to blog about the heart-wrenching episode of Downton Abbey yesterday, but I remembered this blog is about politics, not entertainment, so I decided against it.

 

Today, a group of senators unveiled a new immigration plan ahead of the President’s planned speech on immigration in Las Vegas tomorrow. The bipartisan group consists of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY,, Dick Durbin, D-IL,, Bob Menendez, D-NJ,, Michael Bennet, D-Co,, John McCain, R-AZ,, Lindsey Graham, R-SC,, Marco Rubio, R-FL,, and Jeff Flake, R-AZ.  This group is significant because it contains some of the more influential members of the Senate. I was going to tell you the details of the plan myself, but I found this AP article that lays out the details far better than I ever could have. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/details-senate-immigration-proposal-18339004.

 

I’d like to start my commentary off by saying that I think this plan is a clear sign of progress and regardless of my upcoming criticism, I think this plan is better than nothing. My first issue with this plan, is that it requires, prior to enacting a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country, that border security be beefed up to a level is good enough for leaders in border states. This is too arbitrary a measure for me. What is sufficient to some leaders may not be to others.

My second criticism is that it requires illegal immigrants who are already here to pay fines and back taxes. This is troublesome to me because many illegal immigrants work off the books and have no back taxes or fines to pay. Their income cannot be verified, and I believe it would serve as a deterrent to make them pay such fines and back taxes. I would support just letting them pay taxes from here on out.

 

Criticism number three is that it requires immigrants to go to the “back of the line.” I hear that statement over and over again. I would suggest just steamrolling immigrants through. Why wait years and years to get something done that we can get done in one year? In other words, if these people “on line” and illegal immigrants that are already here are eventually going to become citizens anyway, why make them wait?

 

My fourth problem with the plan is that it forces employers prove to prove that if they hire immigrants that they made an attempt to hire an American citizen for the job first. This, to me, shows preferential treatment to those who are already citizens over those who are about to become citizens. It just seems petty to me. If someone in the US is legally allowed to work here they should be allowed to be hired.

 

Lastly, this plan does little to stop our current problem of having too many illegal immigrants already in the country from happening again. I would support allowing any skilled worker (workers with degrees in math, science, engineering, etc.) from either an American University or a credible foreign University to become a citizen in a year, and others to be able to go through an uncomplicated process to become citizens after a certain waiting period determined by the strength of the job market. Also, I look at China and Mexico as exceptions. This may be unfair to other people in other nations, but I would support a different, more specific policy to be enacted to deal with the immigration policies in those two countries and maybe a few others (India, Bangladesh, etc.).

New Gun Regulations Introduced in Senate

Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced legislation that would ban assault weapons. She specifically names 158 types of weapons to be banned in her legislation. That number is significantly larger than the number banned under the federal assault weapons ban signed into law by Bill Clinton. Feinstein’s bill has received support from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who previously represented the district that contained Newtown, Connecticut. The biggest opponent to the bill is, of course, the NRA, saying in a statement that, “Senator Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades.” They also expressed that they didn’t think the bill could pass stating, “We are confident Congress will reject Sen. Feinstein’s wrong-headed approach.” It appears that the White House also doesn’t think the bill can pass as they are focusing more on limiting the size of magazines and creating a system of universal background checks, both of which are less controversial proposals. Vice President Biden said on Thursday that he is, “much less concerned quite frankly about what you call an assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held in a magazine.”

 

After the Newtown massacre I posted the following on my Facebook page, “Gun control has always been an issue that troubles me. I often question the practicality of gun control. I also sometimes understand the point of supporters of the right to own, carry and conceal guns. But overall I feel that despite the safety that carrying guns can provide it is impossible to tell the present mental stability and the future mental stability of individuals. Therefore, my view is that ordinary citizens should be prohibited from owning guns in nearly all cases. Also, punishments for owning illegal guns should be made much more severe. Lastly, medical care for those who show signs of mental illness should be made available free of charge at an early age. Such medical care should be continued for as long as needed. Tragedies like the one in Connecticut can and must be prevented.”

 

I still stand by what I said on that grim day, but most of what I said is impractical. The United States will never ban guns from all citizens. Guns are, in my view unfortunately, an integral part of the American culture. I would support Sen. Feinstein’s plan, however, it stands no chance of passing even the Democrat-controlled Senate. This is due to the presence of Democrats who reside in largely rural states, where Second Amendment rights receive higher levels of support. On the other hand, The White House’s proposal for universal background checks and a limit on magazine sizes is more likely to get enough support to pass, or at least the former if not the latter. I would support both of those proposals also.

 

Sadly, however, the one thing being talked about sparingly is the mental health aspect of this situation. Mental health problems have always been stigmatized in the United States. It is our duty as Americans to do our best to remove this stigma and get help to those who need it.

 

One notion I do reject is that Hollywood is to blame for desensitizing individuals who commit these heinous murders. To proponents of that view I ask one question; If violent movies desensitize individuals, then why is the murder rate drastically lower in countries such as the UK and Japan where such violent movies are also shown? Another anti-Hollywood view that I disagree with is that actors who star in violent television shows and movies and advocate for gun control are hypocrites. Such claims are simply ludicrous. It is an actor’s job to play a role, to say that by playing a role that they are promoting the actions of their characters is ridiculous. Is Meryl Streep being a hypocrite for being kind in real life after playing a b!tch in The Devil Wears Prada? Is Leonardo DiCaprio a hypocrite for advocating for human rights throughout the world after playing a slaveholder in Django Unchained? The answer to both is no, of course.

 

Feel free to sound off and leave a reply.

Pentagon Allows Women in Front-Line Positions

Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the 1994 ban of women in combat, saying, “If they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve.” Prior to today women were restricted from serving in jobs such as infantry and artillery. The only combat branch in the army that women were allowed in fully was aviation. Support for Panetta’s decision came from President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, a Vietnam veteran, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH among others. One critic of the decision was Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Cal, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, who felt the decision was rushed and said, “What needs to be explained is how this decision, when all is said and done, increases combat effectiveness rather than being a move done for political purposes.”

I applaud Secretary Panetta’s decision to allow women in the front-lines of the military. Our country values equality. It is one of the qualities that makes the United States great. Our military has been coming around to the issue of equality lately. The reversal of Don’t ask, Don’t Tell was one such step. Panetta’s announcement today is another such step. As long as a woman can meet the standards set by the military to participate in front-line combat, I see no reason why she shouldn’t be permitted to fight on the front-lines. Feel free to sound off and leave a reply. 

Hello Readers

Welcome to politicaldanny.wordpress.com. I’m Danny Funaro and I’d like to use this blog to express my views on various political issues. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’d like to let you guys know that the vast majority of my views lean left, but I do have a few more conservative views on certain topics. It is my plan to post here at least once a day to express my opinions on current political topics.