Skip to main content

View Diary: "The presidency of the U.S. has become at its core the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior" (501 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I want to say this began with Nixon, but I'm not (20+ / 0-)

    that naive.  It's become worse and worse over the decades, and while I think the worst was in the Bush years with starting wars, torturing prisoners and generally refusing to allow people to even show up when Congress subpoenaed them, but I'll agree that the Presidency is above the law.  And sadly, the person occupying that office has the ability to pardon any and everyone who breaks the law at his request.  

    I'll just say I like this President and his actions a whole lot more than the last one so while I also decry the lawbreaking and allowing other lawbreakers of the Bush presidency era to go unpunished, I don't see anyone capable of changing the way things work in Washington.  Does that make me a bad person?  Perhaps...

    •  1789. Insufficient Checks. nt (11+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:36:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, though insufficient checks is (48+ / 0-)

        an insufficient explanation. The country was founded and built on the blood of people of color, and it's never stopped killing and stealing from people of color. I'd say a turning point came, however, when Truman founded the National Security State, and then a half century later when communism faded, depriving the US of its pretext for imperialism, Bush created a new one with his "war on terror," which Prez Obama has "perfected" with his reliance on covert, drone-heavy dirty wars.

        What's somewhat notable about today is the lack of people in Congress willing to push back and the lack of political movements able to. It's fallen on Rand Paul to take a stand, albeit in a predictably America-centric way.

        As for activism, I'll link to another righteous rant, which applies to a range of issues, including this one:

        It would be incredibly worthwhile to exercise some self-examination at this point, to question the entire value of building these ad hoc organizations at the edges of the halls of power, and then working through polite channels and gentle nudges to get as much progress as possible, as long as it doesn’t disrupt being able to sit in on meetings with senior Administration officials and the like.

        We talk a lot about broken models. The DC progressive model is broken. It does nothing but facilitate the injustices readily evident in this case. A good use of time at the next board meeting would consist of a moment of self-examination, and maybe entertaining a motion for dissolution. Those of us demanding justice and accountability will always have to fight for it, and maybe next time we could use some colleagues with more than a squirt gun.

        •  Too bad Rand (or Ron, for that matter) is such a (9+ / 0-)

          nut job on most other issues. We could use a whole lot of smart libertarians, and civil libertarians in particular, in Congress -- instead of the craven, narcissistic lickspittle toadies we've mostly got.

          "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

          by Kombema on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:38:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We had Dems who confronted excessive executive (17+ / 0-)

            power in the 70s.  The likes of Ervin, Cox, and Rodino exposed the lies, the overreach, and the cover-ups of the Nixon WH.  21 months after a landslide re-election, Tricky Dick was driven from office b/c of his view that, if the president did it, it wasn't illegal.

            Today, we have unaccountable executive power that constitutes Nixon on steroids.  There was a post-9/11 naked executive power grab by the prior WH, and there has been a ratification, if not an extension, of that grab by the current WH.   Except for the occasional righteous rant like Pierce's, however, few seem to care.

            At this point, I'm really not sure what we can do to restore something resembling a balance between the branches in the "national security" field.  

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:39:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It does seem like the horse is almost out of the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RFK Lives, PhilJD

              barn at this point. As you note, and we were warned time and again, to no avail, once a freedom is relinquished, it's almost impossible to get it back.

              We're like sheep to the slaughter. Easy come easy go, I guess.

              "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

              by Kombema on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:47:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  There are a few (10+ / 0-)

            Senators sounding good notes -- like Wyden and Mark Udall -- but they are, by various accounts, under enormous pressure from the White House and will likely fold, as Democratic Sens tend to.

            Udall, for his part, says he wants to be able to assess the admin's legal case for its TK program before deciding whether to confirm Brennan.

            •  Still mostly kibuki, I'd say, though -- much as I (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              david mizner, apimomfan2

              respect Wyden and Udall. The Dem Party has tremendous ability to punish them if they get out of line, and so they'll in the end be good boys and not create too much grief.

              "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

              by Kombema on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:49:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I don't see how he can support Brennan as long as (7+ / 0-)

              he can get no answer to the question about whether Brennan feels they have the right to kill anyone in this Country without any due process and based on secret evidence.
              http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

              Indeed it does. In fact, it is repellent to think that any member of the Senate Intelligence Committee - which claims to conduct oversight over the intelligence community - would vote to confirm Obama's CIA director while both the president and the nominee simply ignore their most basic question about what the president believes his own powers to be when it comes to targeting US citizens for assassination on US soil.

              Udall also pointed to this New York Times article from yesterday detailing the growing anger on the part of several Democratic senators, including him, over the lack of transparency regarding the multiple legal opinions that purport to authorize the president's assassination power. Not only does the Obama administration refuse to make these legal memoranda public - senators have been repeatedly demanding for more than full year to see them - but they only two weeks ago permitted members to look at two of those memos, but "were available to be viewed only for a limited time and only by senators themselves, not their lawyers and experts." Said Udall in response to my questions yesterday: "Congress needs to fulfill its oversight function. This can't happen when members only have a short time to review complicated legal documents — as I did two weeks ago — and without any expert staff assistance or access to delve more deeply into the details."

              Critically, the documents that are being concealed by the Obama administration are not operational plans or sensitive secrets. They are legal documents that, like the leaked white paper, simply purport to set forth the president's legal powers of execution and assassination. As Democratic lawyers relentlessly pointed out when the Bush administration also concealed legal memos authorizing presidential powers, keeping such documents secret is literally tantamount to maintaining "secret law". These are legal principles governing what the president can and cannot do - purported law - and US citizens are being barred from knowing what those legal claims are.

              (emphasis mine)

              without the ants the rainforest dies

              by aliasalias on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:55:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  truman recognized it was out of control (32+ / 0-)

          in his op-ed dec 1963. the cia should not be operational he said. also in the book plain speaking by miller. WW2 changed america. the absolute power we held at his close is what corrupted the american state. and absolutely when the berlin wall fell, a new enemy had to be found to justify a world wide military.

          war is immoral. both parties are now fully complicit in the wars. bring everyone home. get to work.

          by just want to comment on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:47:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  In the eyes of the corporatocracy.... (8+ / 0-)

          ...

          The country was founded and built on the blood of people of color, and it's never stopped killing and stealing from people of color.
          ....

          ...this is now who we all are.
          They do not see our color, just our expendability.

          Nameless, faceless humans to be manipulated, used up and cast by the wayside when it is expedient to support the bottom line.

          I long for those naive years when i had hope and belief that the good fight would prevail.

          •  agreed (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, flowerfarmer, lotlizard

            I've been making this argument for a while.  Not many people were outraged for the past few decades when unemployment was at depression era levels in the poor urban areas of this country.  The media didn't cover it and most people didn't know it existed.  And the politicians only supported policies that made it worse (drug war, for profit prisons, etc).   Some of it was racism but more so I believe it was that those communities had no political power and their ills could be turned into profits.

            Guess what?  That's who you are now.  

            "I'll hold my nose and vote but I won't hold my nose and canvass or call or donate." Some Dkos Comment

            by onemadson on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:36:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  very scary "those communities had no political (0+ / 0-)

              power"

              people on the lowest rung of our society have always had all they can do to keep alive; the"official" identification needed to vote is reputed to subject them to penalties, among other explanations for their historic nonparticipation in the process

              now many in the working class are feeling something similar: a loss of connection to the center of power, such as it was when fdr and his cohort expressed and delivered the people's agenda

              but that was a long time ago and before the media became massive and supreme, and have conditioned the public to complacency regarding the conduct of the, not "its"' govt

      •  I'm thinking they should have included (5+ / 0-)

        Tribune of the People as a way to check on the checks and balances. It seemed they were aware, Washington even wrote of it directly, that the inevitable outcome of factionalism is tyranny and corruption.


        We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

        by Jim P on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:14:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Trubunes of the People in Rome (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Helpless

          were almost immediately corrupted as soon as they became insiders. Eventually the powers of the Tribunes were given to the Emperors.

          The problem can only be addressed by empowering outsiders through such means as class-action suits, FOIA, meaningful whistle-blower protections, the recall, and much more. However, putting Constitutional amendments to majority popular vote, as in the California initiative, goes much too far.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:37:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd settle for whistle-blower protections (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snoopydawg, aliasalias

            Recall?  In a perfect world, but our Congress will never go for it.

            Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

            by Helpless on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 04:28:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  There's a good work of fiction (0+ / 0-)

            by Steven Saylor called "Rome" detailing a Roman family from 1000 BC - 1 BC.  There was one chapter in which an abusive tribune used his office to persecute a patrician he disliked.

            "Valerie, why am I getting all these emails calling me a classless boor?"

            by TLS66 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:24:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My favorite author of Roman mysteries. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TLS66, PhilJD

              Still, the Tribune functioned on the people's behalf for most of the period before Sulla.

              John Maddox Robert's "SPQR" series comes in a close second to Saylor.


              We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

              by Jim P on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:55:36 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've read both Maddox Roberts and Saylor (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jim P

                Have to agree with you.  I think Saylor's writing is perhaps a bit less on the humor and his writing style more epic. His book "Catalina's Riddle" rivals Colleen McCullough's "Masters of Rome" series in sheer epic panorama.  Maddox Robert's "SPQR" books are good for a light read .. perhaps in bed or on the beach.  If you want something with more heft, turn to Saylor.

                Of course, Roberts cdoes have some epic books as well. His books "Hannibal's Children" and "The Seven Hills" fit that description very nicely.  It's a shame I haven'rt seen a third book in that series.

                "Valerie, why am I getting all these emails calling me a classless boor?"

                by TLS66 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:11:16 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thing with Saylor is his detail (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TLS66

                  of Roman daily life, which hooked me. Plus the characters, most of all, The Finder. Bonus: all the tales are plausible within the known historical record of the public figures. His first case for Cicero is built around Cicero's actual trial speech, for instance. Although Saylor's mysteries aren't really all that mysterious.

                  Mr Saylor, btw, is very gracious and quick to respond to emails and questions.

                  Roberts, too, gives good detail of daily life. And a light and enjoyable read. Much fun! And I'm also disappointed that the third book has not appeared.

                  If you are interested in alternate history, I can't recommend the 1632 series more highly.

                  I tried McCullough once long ago. I have to try again.


                  We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

                  by Jim P on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:32:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  OT, but Jim, I just love your sig n/t (4+ / 0-)


          Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

          by Lisa Lockwood on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:21:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The countours (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim

        of the War making authority of the President aren't well defined, and coupled with an AUMF that was open ended and very broad and you wind up where we are.

        As long as the AUMF remains in force, the President is going to have a decent legal claim to base these actions on, as Armando showed.

        We have to repeal the AUMF - this has to be a central focus of our efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2016.

        Because the only place liberals have any significant influence is there.  It used to be that activists had clout within the party - but that went away when OFA became the place where activists did their work.  In the past, a Democratic President had to at least to listen to groups like the ADA or the Unions.  But Obama built his own activist organization, and so the independent voices that existed previously are now completely marginalized, and reduced to fuming in silence.  

        I don't think people have realized the significance of OFA, and the power it has given Obama within the party. Understand that every Democratic Senator is desperate to benefit from OFA - and that limits their space to oppose Obama.

        Depressingly, the nomination looks like it is Hillary's for the taking.  Unlike 2008, where there was ample sign that Hillary was vulnerable, I see nothing that suggests she won't the nomination in a walk.

        Obama's Secretary of State isn't likely to change these policies.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:56:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re (4+ / 0-)
          We have to repeal the AUMF - this has to be a central focus of our efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2016.
          Idiots in Congress never sunset the legislation.

          I think just about any legislation should have a sunset clause.

          If it's important enough to pass a law once, it should be important enough to pass another one.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:20:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  British Empire. Ours is a clone with some (0+ / 0-)

        modifications.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:49:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  1789 expected the President to be weak (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        Weak by today's standards, anyway. The Federalist Papers reasoned that real power would be in the hands of the people holding the checkbook, the House of Representatives.

        It is perpetual war that undermined this idea.

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:59:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You like this President ... (12+ / 0-)

      and his actions more. But what about the next one? The Republican one, who will take every expansion of power Obama enabled and double down on it? Is your home out of drone range?

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:20:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course not. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        semiot, artmartin, Hoosier Al, hooper

        My mission is to help support those politicians who I believe can direct this country in the direction I want.  I realize my influence is basically unnoticed since I can't contribute tens of thousands or even millions of dollars, but I will contribute what I can, be it money, time, effort, a voice, whatever, and I don't have to love my choice to choose them over someone who represents what I loathe.

        I can't undermine the government by myself and I'm not going to go support someone who can't affect change even though the change they'd like is what I'd like myself.  I am pragmatic, which may not satisfy many here at Kos.

        •  Pragmatic? (10+ / 0-)

          'who I believe can direct this country in the direction I want.' The direction this administration is taking isn't even Democratic let alone democratic. It's not a question of a pragmatic direction it's the opposite it's supporting the direction that you oppose. This administration and the established D party machine along with the media, including the so called progressive left, has effectively neutered all opposition to Axelrod's 'world as we find it.' There is no democratic or even moderate 'way forward' through our useless electoral system. The Democrat's at this time are much more effective at implementing 'oligarchical collectivism'. Obama is an effective PR marketing spokesperson who has double speak down to a rhetorical art form. Trouble is in order to believe what he's saying requires double think. The way forward he preached is the Third Way and is no direction home.      

               

      •  or the next Dem president (6+ / 0-)

        who, if current trends continue, will be another ThirdWay/DLC/neoliberal acolyte?  

        Will we watch as they, too become more deeply entrenched with those who purchase his/her seat and continue farther down the path of gutting the Constitution and destroying our economy?

        Some things are almost as bad as the GOP, sometimes they're worse.  At least with GOP leaders, its possible to mount a loyal opposition from the progressive flank and expose their corruption and insanity.   Can't do that as easily with corrupt ThirdWay/DLC/neolib Dems.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:58:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  that's the same question I asked devoted Bush fans (0+ / 0-)

        and I got no response, or at least one that made any sense.

        without the ants the rainforest dies

        by aliasalias on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:59:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's an incredibly frustrating challenge for (25+ / 0-)

      democratic Democratic advocates today.

      Not only is the office itself no longer subject to the checks and balances of the past, but ironically we have no idea to what extent any president is able to act as free agent, in either word or deed.  If the latter is true, to a far greater
      extent than has existed in the past, then it would explain
      all of the inconsistencies, disconnections, and other illogical behaviors that are otherwise inexplicable.

      Assuming also the office itself while theoretically allowing greater exercise of power is controlled by forces beyond the person of the particular president would render criticism of Obama irrelevant, but it would also render the ability to petition and protest meaningless.  The antithesis of a hopeful truth unless one chooses to place hope in an event(s) beyond human control.

      I think the two "issues" that will clarify for even the marginally informed the truth about how and why our government operates will be what we are calling austerity and global climate change.

      More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

      by blueoasis on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:21:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It actually started with Wilson and the sedition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilJD

      prosecutions during WW I and then the Palmer Raids after the war: Hello, National Security State.

    •  Was it? (3+ / 0-)
      ...and while I think the worst was in the Bush years with starting wars, torturing prisoners and generally refusing to allow people to even show up when Congress subpoenaed them...
      Or did people just talk about it more? I guess it's not starting  war when we bomb in other countries because hey nobody declared it, is rendition to other countries actually not torture because we don't know if or how many have been? Of course you may be right about "allowing people" to do what any citizen in America is required to do.
      I'll just say I like this President and his actions a whole lot more than the last one so while I also decry the lawbreaking and allowing other lawbreakers of the Bush presidency era to go unpunished, I don't see anyone capable of changing the way things work in Washington.
      That is because everybody quit trying because of the D behind the name. I look forward to the day when the name carries an R maybe people will try again.

      There are no sacred cows.

      by LaEscapee on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:07:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama certainly has the legal authority (4+ / 0-)

      to change the way things work in Washington.  That he chooses not to do so means that he has other priorities.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 02:40:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site