Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The unforgiving minute: Freedom means someone else always pays the price

It's like there's no longer any attempt to avoid self-contradiction, even within the same day's news cycle. Words like "policy" and "plan" simply don't apply anymore.

First, Atrios observes, with an understandable sense of bemusement:
Occasionally the conservative worldview clashes with itself in ways I can't resolve. Texas conservatives, who don't trust public school teachers to educate their kids, want to empower them to hit their kids.
Doesn't seem like you can really be for both at the same time, does it?

And here's another pair of items, both from today (emphasis added):

First this:
House progressives are trying to draw attention to language Republicans have included in an annual must-pass defense bill, which they say will dramatically expand Presidential power in the war on terrorism.[…]

With Osama bin Laden dead, [House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA)] et al want to update the AUMF, so that it doesn't phase itself out as the connection between existing terrorist groups and the September 11 attacks themselves becomes more and more tenuous over time. That's exactly what some Democrats hope to avoid.

The new language eschews references to September 11, and instead centers the authorization on "armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces," though "associated forces" is not defined. It replaces the authority to target "organizations" and "persons" domestically with the power to target "all entities that continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad."

Democrats and advocates highlight these seemingly subtle changes and argue that they will allow the President to initiate military action even more broadly, and without the consent of Congress -- effectively perpetuating the war indefinitely.

And then this:
Republicans say they've found the problem in America -- and that problem is the basic framework of the Union as we know it today.

A group of Republicans in the House and Senate are proposing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow a vote by two-thirds of the states' legislatures to override any federal law they did not agree with.

The proposed constitutional amendment, a tea party favorite, is being touted by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the Senate and co-sponsored by Sens. John Barasso (R-WY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In the House, Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Paul Broun (R-GA) are leading the charge.

The goal, according to proponents, is to stop the tyranny of Washington over the economy and circumscribe other federal powers.
So which is it? Either the government's already too powerful, too unchecked, too big (and, of course, Obama's too . . . everything), or else there should be no practical limits on arguably the most important Executive Branch power (and certainly one with direct implications for the economy and the extent of federal powers).

I think the only thread holding this legislative rag-bag together is the urgent adolescent desire to have it both ways: To want all the control for oneself, while reserving the right to push the hard decisions onto someone else.

Minute's up. Actually, that was more than a minute. No charge for the extra.

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