An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with laser-guided munitions and Hellfire missiles,… (Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt / Associated…)
Not to be all paranoid and everything, but is someone out to get me -- er, us?
You have to admit, given the week’s news, that Buffalo Springfield may have been on to something in the summer of ’67:
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.
Don’t believe me? Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) certainly does. He took one look at a letter from Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. -- in which Holder opined that under “an extraordinary circumstance” a president could order a drone strike to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil -- and promptly stalled the Senate's confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director on Wednesday with a daylong filibuster.
I’ll spare you the full 13 hours of Paul’s talk-a-thon. Here’s his argument in a nutshell:
"Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a president to say he might kill Americans? No one person, no one politician should be allowed … to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything we fundamentally believe in our country."
And gee, when you put it that way, isn't the only answer: "Don't tread on us!"?
But now for the real surprise. Even some fellow small-government conservative Republicans came out against Paul.
South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, for instance, said Thursday:
“I was going to vote against Brennan until the filibuster, so he picked up one vote. This whole argument that somehow Brennan and the president are operating outside of just good logic and human decency -- I don’t want to cast a vote to suggest that I think that’s credible.…
“I am going to vote for Brennan now because it’s become a referendum on the drone program.”
And Arizona Sen. John McCain scolded:
"I don't think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people."
Frankly, this whole thing has tied my mind in knots: I find myself agreeing with Paul -- which is certainly a first -- and objecting to the views of Graham and McCain, which isn’t a first but seemingly puts me in the minority among Americans, most of whom appear to have no qualms about drones.
Somewhere, Lewis Carroll, Alice and the Mad Hatter are smiling.
Of course, it isn’t just in the good ole USA that things have gotten a bit scary. Heck, in Russia, even a ballet company can be a battleground.
Remember the attack in January on the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director, Sergei Filin, in which an assailant threw sulfuric acid in his face? Seems that Filin had been the target of slashed tires and the like leading up to the acid attack. And now we find that the mastermind of the assault, according to Moscow law enforcement, is Pavel Dmitrichenko, a Bolshoi dancer. And that Dmitrichenko was upset with Filin because the director hadn’t given his girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, the coveted roles of Odette and Odile in "Swan Lake."
Meaning that Vorontsova certainly may at least have the chops for the role of Odile, the “Black Swan.” (Yes, I saw the movie, and no, I don’t know what the heck was going on in it either.)
But for real paranoia, it’s hard to top Venezuela’s interim leader, Nicolas Maduro. On Tuesday, announcing the death of President Hugo Chavez, he suggested that Chavez’s cancer may have been the result of foreign intrigue.
Maduro promised that a scientific commission would look into Chavez’s death, asserting that “there have been historical cases, too many historical cases,” in which foreign leaders have been killed -- meaning, yep, by Uncle Sam, the CIA, the dark helicopters, the whole nine yards.
Which, of course, is just plain nuts (the cancer theory, not the fact that the United States has been behind the deaths of some foreign leaders).