Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Doubts About Senator Sanders ?

I wonder why Bernie Sanders last week decided to vote to confirm David Barron's ascent to a powerful judicial position on the First Circuit Court of the United States, a judicial position which often addresses significant issues related to Americans’ constitutional rights.

I should like to read the Senator's views on this before writing him off as just another faux-populist, trojan horse, wolf in sheep's clothing...whatever.

From Peregrin Wood at Irregular Times website here, here and here.
The most troubling issue in David Barron’s record is his role as the author of the legal opinion that justified what is rather coldly referred to as “extrajudicial killing” by the United States federal government. Put more plainly, David Barron concocted a legal justification for President Barack Obama, so that the President could order the U.S. military to execute American citizens, because of suspicion of criminal behavior, without any trial or due process.

In Barron’s legal opinion, the people who are to be executed by the President of the United States don’t need to be warned and given the chance to turn themselves in, so that they will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court. David Barron thinks that the President can simply send remote-controlled flying robots to kill them.

To put a lawyer who is willing to engage in such an outrageous violation of civil liberties in the position of a federal judge is extremely reckless. Yet, all but two Senate Democrats voted to approve the David Barron nomination – and the two supposedly progressive independents in the Senate did too – including Bernard Sanders. Why did they do it? They wanted to show political support for Barack Obama as their leader, regardless of the implications.

Also listed
(at the first link above) are names of the U.S. Senators who voted against the Barron confirmation. Are they the good guys in this political story? Hardly. Almost every one of the senators who voted against the Barron confirmation supported equally outrageous violations of civil liberties when they were conducted by the most recent President of their own party, George W. Bush. Just as the Senate Democrats voted in favor of David Barron only to demonstrate solidarity with Barack Obama, regardless of the merits of Barron’s record, the Senate Republicans only voted against David Barron to demonstrate their opposition to Barack Obama.

Earlier this month, Sanders wrote that President Obama “has drawn concern from senators who are disturbed by David Barron’s authorship of legal memos that justified the United States’ killing of an American citizen overseas with a drone.” Yet... Senator Sanders voted in favor of giving Barron a high judicial position in the federal government. Sanders abandoned his scruples in order to do a favor for President Obama and his Democratic allies.

Supporters of Sanders may brush off this vote as just one bad vote in an otherwise excellent record. They’re missing the point, however, that this vote shows that what we expect of Bernie Sanders and what he actually does when political power is at stake are two different things.

I had intended to support Senator Sanders if he decided to run in the 2016 presidential campaign. I hope this isn't the first sign that he is just another broken reed. I'll hold on for a while to see whether Senator Sanders has anything to say on the topic.
Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. (Isiah 36:6 King James Bible)


DC said...

wow...of all people I would have never expected this of Bernie.....but like you...I'll reserve judgement for now.

mike said...

The nomination of David Barron and consequent senate confirmation is baffling for those on both sides of the liberal-conservative fence. Perhaps that is why he was nominated...something for each side...and concerns for each side.

Barron has demonstrated liberalism with his affirmations toward abortion and gay marriage. He has shades of T-party with his limiting federal powers and supporting state's rights. He's progressive with his views of modernization of the USA's constitution...allowing the constitution to be more fluid and more plastic.

There have been several supporting comments regarding Barron's consultations over the drone program. Barron supposedly gave his professional opinions based on his touted legal skills. Like your post yesterday, Twilight, a lawyer can state professional, ethical opinions based on law, but such opinions may or may not reflect that individual's morals. Lawyers are supposed to keep their morals private and always serve clients in an ethical manner. Big difference there. [ ]

I suspect Sanders is supporting Barron based on Barron's liberalism and perhaps Sanders views Barron's professional advice as distinct from Barron's morals. It doesn't appear that either Sanders or Barron cater to either of the two main political parties and maybe that is Sanders' rationale for supporting Barron. I can think of any number of lawyer-potentates that would concern me much more than Barron. Maybe Sanders views Barron as the lesser of the evils.

Twilight said...

DC ~ I hope someone asks him about this at some point - when he's next being interviewed.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, well I worked for almost 25 years among lawyers and judges in the UK. The ethics/morals question came up from time to time in casual conversations of we staff members with the lawyers and I do get it.

Drone use, in context of the vote we're talking about here, was, most would say, against the Constitution, not based on law.

If Bernie Sanders is willing to support the non-constitutional use of drones to murder a US citizen or any citizen of any country without trial or even warning - then I cannot support him under any circumstances.

If he's not willing to support the use of drones as stated, then he should not have voted "Yea".

For me this issue is black and white.
Most issues are not - this one is.

Mike (again) said...

I understand exactly what you are saying, Twilight, and I agree with your comment to me. However...and this is a big however...under the "USA PATRIOT Act" (aka "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act") and its various amendments, all with congressional approval, just about anything goes. Is the "USA PATRIOT Act" constitutional?????? I don't think so and I doubt you do, either.

Much has changed since Bush first signed the "USA PATRIOT Act" in 2001, including the elimination of constitutional rights and protections. After all, we are at war with terrorism...LOL. If you ask me, the terrorists include our own government.

mike (again) said...

BTW - Brian Williams, NBC, has a special tonight at 9 interview with Edward Snowden. Astrologically, today is a new Moon sq Neptune, new Moon trine Mars...interesting aspects for this program's airing.

LB said...

As a society, I don't think we're ready yet for a candidate who consistently values human life (and the environment) over money, war and power. Let alone one who tells the truth and then stands behind his words, without pretending to be something he or she isn't.

I'm not at all political, but based on what little I do know, my impression of Bernie Sanders is that he's pretty much a mainstream political player who got where he is today by playing the game.

From Wikipedia, regarding his 2006 Senate Race:

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders: a critical move, as it meant that no Democrat running against Sanders could expect to receive financial help from the party. Sanders was also endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Dean said in May 2005 that he considered Sanders an ally who "votes with the Democrats 98% of the time."

That last sentence says a lot.

Though Bernie Sanders has done some good things, his position on several significant issues has been disappointing and also very telling.

For instance, he supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) instead of remaining strong in his support of a more inclusive single-payer form of healthcare, H.R. 676, Improved and Expanded Medicare for All, when he had the opportunity. He also supported the candidacy of Obama.

Considering his past choices, I don't think his nomination of David Barron is all that surprising.

Keeping in mind I haven't done a fact-check on the information presented, here's the link to an older article that's worth a read:

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I see, so they gave themselves a loophole, a back door, a work-around....don't they always?

Sept. 2001, with its attendant horror and tragedies, with public gaze safely distracted by the sight and results of it all, their attention and hearts going out to those directly affected, was such a useful oasis for Powers That Be to finally get their claws dug well and truly in deep - wasn't it?

We'll probably watch B. Williams' interviewing Snowden tonight, if not otherwise distracted. :-)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Looks as though I was fooled then. I won't say "fooled again" because in 2008 my first choice was never Obama, I voted for him because there was nobody else available on our ballot besides McCain. I'd hoped my original doubts about him would be wrong.

In 2012 I had to leave the presidential line on the ballot blank as we had 2 choices in Oklahoma: Obama or Romney, & no write-ins.

Thanks for the link. It was a little sour and extreme in tone, but probably mostly accurate. Big disappointment.

So, getting right down to it: so far there's nobody who isn't part of the cabal willing to stand up for We the People. There's time yet. More than 2 years before November 2016.

It's frustrating that some of the more leftist groups, parties and movements (Greens, Socialists, Democratic Socialists, Justice Party, anti-war movements, and several other movements that are growing currently, names escape me) don't get together, forget any minor differences, and coalesce to form a real alternative to Ds and Rs.
The new party might not get itself onto every ballot, but maybe enough to make a dent this time around, then with more time grow before 2020.

It doesn't look as though this is going to happen though - seems we'll have to hit the ultimate crisis point, a catastrophe of some kind, before anything changes.

Twilight said...

All ~ Chris Floyd's piece at Smirking Chimp : Posterity will Hate Us.....

LB said...

Twilight ~ When it comes to being fooled, it can be hard to know what to believe when there's so little truth in advertising. It's the way the game is set up.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Too true!

mike (again) said...

Re Chris Floyd - I'm a firm believer in what-goes-around-comes-around. Floyd only covers our blood-stained arrogance in Pakistan...imagine how many other innocents have met their demise in other drone or otherwise.

Re Berny Sanders - The guy can be prescient at times. Last year, he introduced a bill to increase veterans' benefits and it became derailed by the Republicans this past would have expanded and provided better access to health care. Now that the VA hospital fiasco has been revealed this month, the Republicans are calling for heads to roll (how about off with their own heads...LOL).

"Sen. Sanders told those Republicans who claim that the country can’t afford the bill, 'If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.'”

Berny may not do everything the way I would like, but, hey...who does? LOL In the world of politicians, he seems to be one of the cleaner ones. I didn't like his support of the NRA's anti-Brady bill (1993), but he's outspoken on so many issues that align with me that I simply have to overlook that one!

We are assuming that Barron assisted the Obama administration toward supporting "extrajudicial killing" and maybe he did exactly that. BUT the legal summaries and related correspondence has not been released, so Barron's exact stand on this issue is not known to us. It's possible Barron did his legal job, but stated his moral opposition. We have no idea at this time. Perhaps Sanders is aware of "stuff" that we commoners are not and probably never will know.

A skilled politician is a bipartisan negotiator, which means the politician will yield on some things in order to gain on others.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Senator Sanders does some good things, I agree. That's what drew me to him. As you've said, we don't know the whole story and likely never will - in the same way we didn't know the full story of what happened when Dennis Kucinich took that ride in Airforce One then supported the ACA after campaigning for single payer.

I'll remain cynical unless something persuades me otherwise. Sanders hasn't said he will definitely run in the 2016 presidential campaign yet, so maybe the choice will not have to be made.

We watched Brian Williams interviewing Edward Snowden tonight - Snowden is an excellent interviewee - fluent, very clear and precise.

Nothing we didn't already know or suspect came out, but I'm glad we watched the programme.

mike (again) said...

Yes, I was impressed, as always, with Edward Snowden. I also appreciated the questions asked by Brian Williams, which allowed Snowden to essentially defend his actions in a non-confrontational manner and to highlight misinformation propagated by the government. Hours earlier, Brian Williams mentioned on his national newscast that NBC had received many negative comments regarding this interview. I suspect that the NSA is very busy today visiting blogs and leaving vitriolic comments denigrating Snowden. Edward hero!

mike (again) said...

Maybe things are changing a tiny bit:

"Richard Clarke, the nation’s top counterterrorism official under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, accused Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney of committing war crimes in their 2003 invasion of Iraq during an interview Tuesday with Democracy Now! that will air next week."|responsive|dl3|sec3_lnk4%26pLid%3D481859

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ We must hope for any bellwether or narrow crack of light to indicate change, however far away it might prove to maybe this something of that sort.

It comes late in the game, not likely much will come of it, or ever would have, but just the fact that someone who used to be influential would say it and start a discussion is significant.

R J Adams said...

I've reached the conclusion that NO politician can be trusted to do the right thing, and will only do so if their personal reward is sufficiently tempting. That may be considered cynical, but I believe it to be true as I've yet to find any exception to the rule.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ You're right, and it applies to everywhere, not just to the USA - but in the USA there are more of 'em, and more opportunities to be dastardly, so it seems worse. :-/