Commencing immediately upon the 9/11 attack, the US government under two successive administrations has spent 12 straight years inventing and implementing new theories of government power in the name of Terrorism. Literally every year since 9/11 has ushered in increased authorities of exactly the type Americans are inculcated to believe only exist in those Other, Non-Free societies: ubiquitous surveillance, impenetrable secrecy, and the power to imprison and even kill without charges or due process. Even as the 9/11 attack recedes into the distant past, the US government still finds ways continuously to increase its powers in the name of Terrorism while virtually never relinquishing any of the power it acquires. So inexorable has this process been that the Obama administration has already exercised the power to target even its own citizens for execution far from any battlefield, and the process has now arrived at its inevitable destination: does this due-process-free execution power extend to US soil as well?
All of this has taken place with very little public backlash: especially over the last four years. Worse, it has prompted almost no institutional resistance from the structures designed to check executive abuses: courts, the media, and Congress. Last week's 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan's confirmation as CIA director by GOP Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first - and, from the perspective of media attention, easily among the most effective -Congressional efforts to dramatize and oppose just how radical these Terrorism-justified powers have become. For the first time since the 9/11 attack, even lowly cable news shows were forced - by the Paul filibuster - to extensively discuss the government's extremist theories of power and to debate the need for checks and limits.
All of this put Democrats - who spent eight years flamboyantly pretending to be champions of due process and opponents of mass secrecy and executive power abuses - in a very uncomfortable position. The politician who took such a unique stand in defense of these principles was not merely a Republican but a leading member of its dreaded Tea Party wing, while the actor most responsible for the extremist theories of power being protested was their own beloved leader and his political party.
Some Democrats, to their credit, publicly supported Paul, including Sen. Ron Wyden, who went to the Senate floor to assist the filibuster. Sens. Jeff Merkley, Pat Leahy and (independent) Bernie Sanders all voted against Brennan's confirmation, citing many of the same concerns raised by Paul. Some prominent progressive commentators praised Paul's filibuster as well: on CNN, Van Jones - while vowing that "I love this president" - said "Sen. Rand Paul was a hero for civil liberties" and that "liberals and progressives should be ashamed."
But most Democratic Senators ran away as fast as possible from having anything to do with the debate...
~ from Three Democratic Myths Used to Demean the Paul Filibuster by Glenn Greenwald ~
This is the problem with BOTH corporate political parties. When they are out of power, they pretend to care about certain issues. When they regain power, then those same issues just aren't that damned important!
For Republicans, one of those sorts of issues is the deficit. When a Democrat is in the White House, it is about all they can talk about. Deficits, they say, will be the ruin of the country. And yet, when a Republican gets to sit in the big chair (think Dubya here), what is a hallmark of a GOP administration? Why running up the national deficit, of course!
Democrats have their own fake issues. As Greenwald points out, political liberals decried the secrecy and abuse of power by Obama's predecessor. But now that Obama himself has cloaked his administration in a veil of secrecy and has expanded upon the abuse of power, most of them are unconcerned. Not only are they unconcerned, but they attack anyone else who might express a mere modicum of concern.
With few exceptions, it's nothing more than a big shell game and yet average Americans get duped by it over and over again.