Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:
The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.
One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, “style” and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed “crazy”, as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually “crazy” are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge). This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society’s most powerful factions and their institutions.
A TV plays nonstop in the lunchroom at my workplace. Today, as I grabbed a snack, CNN was interviewing a “Vatican spokesman” (I didn’t catch his name, but he was the man on the right in this photo). While this interview was airing, the Cardinals were still deliberating. It occurred to me first of all that despite being guided by the “Holy Spirit” these men were struggling to make a decision. The Vatican Spokesman said to the CNN reporter, “We’re looking for Something New.” Amen to that.
Why did the alleged God banish the alleged Satan from the alleged heaven? Many Christian accounts of Satan bluntly conclude that Satan was full of pride, causing God to give him the boot. Which leads to the follow:
I don’t know who creates these images, which are often posted on Facebook. They sharply challenge assertions commonly made by believers. Sometimes they challenge deeply held theological arguments. And as Ronaldo de Souza once suggested, theology is “intellectual tennis without a net.”
Only because Rand Paul, Ted Cruz – and now others – have been willing to stand up to the administration and demand transparency on drone strike policy are Americans learning the chilling truth about the executive’s elastic definition of “imminence” in “imminent threat.”
If you’re concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability of the policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, you have to concede that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have done us a great service: Cruz, R-Texas, with his questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Paul, R-Kentucky, with his widely reported filibuster on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, some Democrats don’t want to acknowledge this contribution. That’s a shame.