It was understandable when the United States Senate started playing political games with the National Defense Authorization Act. What is understandable is not always for the public good. They wanted to amend it to death.
The old saying is the Senate wants the United States to have 101 Secretaries of State. At least I think it's an old saying. If it isn't it ought to be. In this case, they loaded up the defense bill with every let's-get-tougher-on-terrorists measure they could think of. Put them all in Guantanamo. Take them out of the US. No trials. Torture. You name it.
Finally, President Obama threaten to veto the measure. They weren't putting handcuffs on terrorists. They were putting handcuffs on those who were fighting the terrorists. Interrogators, prosecutors, and the President of the United States just might know what they are doing, went the reasoning. Let's give them tools, watch them as much as a legislator with clearance might want to, but let them do their jobs. And the President was doing a pretty good job in going after terrorists.
It wasn't the first time Senators had played around with National Security. In late 2009, Republicans filibustered a bill to provide needed equipment to military personnel in combat areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. They weren't against giving our combat troops the bullets they needed. They just wanted to slow everything down in a maneuver to stop health care. If soldiers in the field ran low on supplies, well, life is filled with little trade offs, right?
Last year was a little different. While civil libertarians objected to holding suspects indefinitely, detaining without trial, removal from the US system of justice, key figures in the fight against terrorists objected to micromanagement of the battle.
Todd Akin is running for the United States Senate here in Missouri. As the Republican nominee, he has taken some positions that have become controversial.
Representative Akin voted for the House version, the version the administration wanted, the version nobody particularly objected to. And he opposed the Senate version.
Good for him. Sort of. His logic was fascinating.
He didn't have a problem with micromanagement. He was not worried about civil liberties. He expressed no concern with courts, civilian or not. Last month in Columbia, MO, he detailed his reasoning:
They also had the legalization of bestiality, which is a pretty weird thing. So, I'm on the House side of the negotiations on that. So, we got rid of the bestiality thing.
You want to point out inaccuracies, even falsehoods, where you find them. You want to show how policy differences can affect real lives, can change the future.
Todd Akin is most famous for believing women who are "legitimately" raped will not get pregnant. He has since backed away from the theory that pregnancy is proof that a woman was not really raped. But he seems to catch observers flatfooted just about every week. He regards Pell Grants, designed to help talented kids from low income households get to college, as socialism. He compares them to cancer. He says he regards Social Security as a suspiciously foreign idea. Minimum wage laws are an attack on basic American freedom. He opposed the most significant legislative advancement in in a generation allowing women to expose wage discrimination. It passed over his opposition.
It goes on and on. His main recent criticism of his opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill, is that she was insufficiently ladylike in her last debate with him.
How does one critique a legislator whose pronouncements vary between what may have been the conventional wisdom of the eighteenth century and his own private Magic Eight Ball? How is it possible to assess one who sees such views as unremarkable, who seems befuddled at the controversy that follows him?
His words last month in Columbia were recorded. Beware the bestiality.
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