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Where are the liberals on big banks, drones?

Where are the liberals now that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has acknowledged to the Senate Banking Committee that the biggest banks and investment houses are not only “too big to fail” but “too big to jail”?

“I am concerned,” the attorney general testified the other day, that these institutions have become “so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

Of course that is to acknowledge that the United States is no longer a democracy under the rule of law but a kleptocracy.

“Too big to fail” and “too big to jail” would seem to require enforcement of anti-trust law and new law requiring divestiture. But under the Obama administration Holder’s Justice Department has shown little interest in enforcing anti-trust law, and even as the attorney general wrings his hands the administration has proposed no divestiture legislation targeting the criminal financial institutions.

Recently the attorney general wrote to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that the administration may have the power to use drone aircraft to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. The attorney general’s letter prompted the senator to undertake a brief filibuster against the president’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In his letter to Paul the attorney general contemplated the use of drones to kill domestically in the context of defending the country against something like another 9/11 attack. That might not be so different from using ordinary fighter aircraft or other weapons. Indeed, it’s too bad that no drones and fighter aircraft were available over New York and Washington on the day of the terrorist attack to shoot down the hijacked jetliners before they crashed into buildings.

But the attorney general’s musing about drone use for domestic killing did become frightening in the context of the recent National Defense Authorization Act’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus upon the president’s mere accusation of terrorism. As the federal courts are working normally, this suspension is simply tyrannical.

Pressured by Paul’s filibuster, at least the attorney general wrote again to the senator to clarify matters, asserting tersely that the administration does not claim authority to kill Americans on U.S. territory who are not engaged in combat against the United States.

While conservatives pose as skeptics of big government, most of them love stupid imperial wars and violations of civil liberties. They think these things make them look tough and patriotic.

But if Presidents Richard Nixon or George Bush had let banks get bigger than the government, had mused about the power to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. territory, and had presided over the suspension of habeas corpus, the liberals of their time would have set the country on fire with protest and political challenges. So when the administration of the country’s first black president, supposedly a liberal Democrat, does these things, where are the liberals?

They are just where they were when the Vietnam War was grinding on without progress under the liberal Democratic administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, which bloodily pursued a premise as profoundly mistaken as the premise of the war in Afghanistan.

That is, just as they were back then, today’s liberals are resting contentedly, one way or another, directly or indirectly, on the government payroll. That’s what matters to them most.

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School boards throughout Connecticut are assembling budgets again and so again are warning that unless they get more money, basic services to students — particularly sports and music — will be eliminated. Meanwhile the school boards are planning to pay raises to school employees.

Townspeople should be asking: Why is only the compensation of school employees inviolate? Why isn’t service to students inviolate instead?

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.