Obama Disappointment to Libertarians

We expected Obama to be a dumpster fire on economic issues and commercial liberty.  And he has been.

But here are two charts showing how the traditional libertarian choice in two-party electrions of "liberty in the bedroom or liberty in the boardroom" has broken down.  First, Bush was a mess on economic issues.  Now, Obama is a wreck on civil liberties issues.   Here is use of domestic surveillance tools, many times without warrants:


And here are drone strike casualties:


This Administration has increased the frequency of drone strikes by a factor of 8 over George Bush.  It has claimed that any civilian deaths from these strikes are combatant deaths because, well, civilians shouldn't have been hanging around near people we want to kill.  The Administration has claimed the right to assassinate Americans without any sort of due process, continues rendition and indefinite detainment, and has ramped up Federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in places like California where they are legal under state law.

Update:  While I was writing this, Ken at Popehat was saying something similar:

The United States government, under two opposed increasingly indistinguishable political parties, asserts the right to kill anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror. It asserts the right todetain anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror, and to do so based on undisclosed facts applied to undisclosed standards in undisclosed locations under undisclosed conditions for however long it wants, all without judicial review. It asserts the right to be free of lawsuits or other judicial proceedings that might reveal its secrets in the War on Terror. It asserts that the people it kills in drone strikes are either probably enemy combatants in the War on Terror or acceptable collateral damage. It asserts that increasing surveillance of Americans, increasing interception of Americans' communications, and increasingly intrusive security measuresare all required by the War on Terror.

But the War on Terror, unlike other wars, will last as long as the government says it will. And, as the MEK episode illustrates, the scope of the War on Terror — the very identity of the Terror we fight — is a subjective matter in the discretion of the government. The compelling need the government cites to do whatever it wants is itself defined by the government.

We're letting the government do that. We're putting up with it. We're even cheering it, because that's more comfortable than opposing it or thinking about how far it has gone.

Update 2:  And let's not forget that whole transparency thing.  The Obama Administration may be perhaps the worst Administration in decades in complying with FOIA requests for what should be public information.


  1. Matthew Slyfield:

    As I said in a previous post: A pox on both their houses.
    I wish there was a viable third party. Unfortuately the potential contenders are being strangled by the fact that controll of the election process itself was long ago turned over to the major parties.
    Unfortuately, I have no idea how we can get it back short of armed revolt.

  2. Chris:

    To quote myself from Ken's comment section:
    Its funny and I'm sure TJIC above would agree with me, but the
    government says they can kill anyone anywhere with impunity; They still
    don't fucking understand the laws and amendments (1,4,5,6,7,8) that
    they are so willing to break DON'T PROTECT ME, IT PROTECTS THEM.

    These are the conditions that WE allow governments and those that work
    in them to EXIST. If they don't live up to those standards we reserve
    the right to alter or abolish them.

    And don't for one second think that the government is the only one out there making lists.

  3. obloodyhell:

    }}}} Now, Obama is a wreck on civil liberties issues. Here is use of domestic surveillance tools, many times without warrants:

    Bu-bu-but-but... The One isn't the one who was a civil liberties nightmare!! That was BOOOSH.

  4. Gavin Greenewalt:

    it so funny that any "libertarian" would have thought that obama would have been anything but a wishy washy warmed over uncle joe stalin .
    Yes we can have copts taken in for 'questioning' about 'parole violations' it is for the greater good.

  5. mesocyclone:

    Actually, the government (at least under Bush) did not have a doctrine that it could kill anyone, anywhere. If a country had a functioning and responsible government, the US would expect that government to use legal means to deal with terrorists, and if it didn't, well, we still wouldn't attack someone there.

    But the world is not Westphalian, but the rules are. That's why, when dealing with an international terrorist conspiracy, the US and other countries assert jurisdiction or employ combat in regions without effective governments. The tribal areas of Pakistan qualify, as does part of Somalia and lots of the Magreb. Likewise, the US has the right to kill people in enemy countries - declaration of war or not in this modern era, although we do have such a declaration (AUMF) - and that includes Iran.

    One key difference is that the Obama administration is too ignorant of intelligence and military affairs to understand that it is important to use people, not drones, in many situations. These would be either special operators or CIA operatives. The use of people demonstrates courage - important for public opinion in many of these savage regions; it allows for better intelligence collection; it allows for more precise targeting with less collateral damage - such as in the Usama hit.

    The Bush administration also had a legal structure for determining which actions were allowed. It is not clear if such exists in the Obama administration.

    Libertarians tend to ignore the difference between domestic and abroad (as Coyote argues we should just let anyone who wants cross our borders and go work for him), and get their panties into a twist about anything a government does to an individual outside of rather severe restrictions.

    That's but one of many reasons that libertarians cannot form an effective political party.

  6. Eris Guy:

    Since George Wallace said there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the parties in 1968--and he exaggerated then, the difference being much less than a dime, to claim "increasingly indistinguishable political parties" means the difference must be down to mills (a notional currency equal to one-tenth of a cent).

  7. pointsnfigures:

    Unfortunately, there isn't. It's deciding between degrees of whose worse. Right now, the Republicans are better than the Democrats. Staying home isn't an option, it's a vote for Obama. So, you have to vote for Romney and then work to change things. The 2010 election was a start.