Oh, if we would only go away. If we would only accept the divinity of Barack Obama. If we would only keep quiet and quietly forget. Abandon the historical memory of what has happened and what has been done. Bury the institutional memory of the process and the events of the last two years. If only we would stop saying that Obama is the third Bush term. How happy Hopium eaters would then be. Dancing would break out in the alleys of Chicago.
But memory has its uses and history is a teacher. Let’s remember and look to the future of the third Bush term – President-elect B.O.
The Hopium eaters will doubtlessly churn and burn at the mere mention that their worship is anything at all like George W. However, memory and history acknowledge that Mess-ianic Obama with his delusions of grandeur is very much a George W. Consider the evidence.
Back in 2007 we wrote about Obama finding nothing impeachable about what George W. had done. If Obama believes George W. acted legally then surely Obama will not object to committing the same acts. Of course, George W. knew that what he had done was illegal and impeachable. That was one of the rationales for including telecomunications immunity in the FISA legislation. Remember FISA? That’s the legislation Obama swore during the primaries he would filibuster. When the general election season began however, Obama (unlike Hillary) voted for the FISA legislation he swore he would filibuster.
Here’s is some of what we wrote back in December 2007:
Recall this Obama Bush moment:
“Part of the problem here is not just George Bush and the White House,” Obama told a crowd of hundreds gathered at a park in Cedar Falls. “We can’t just change political parties and continue to do the same kind of things we’ve been doing. We can’t just go about business as usual and think it’s going to turn out differently.”
Obama absolves Bush of the mess the country is in. Obama wants to blame Democrats too. But of course, Obama who styles himself, without evidence, as a constitutional authority, thinks Bush has not done anything impeachable.
Impeachment as a tactic, is open to argument. Some arguments against impeachment are: there is little over a year in Bush’s term so why bother; impeachment might help the Ripublicans paint the Democrats as crazed; impeachment and a Senate trial could turn into a major diversion from discussion of important issues.
But, while Democrats can argue about the wisdom of impeaching either Bush and Cheney or both of them there is no argument that Bush and Cheney have committed impeachable crimes and that they have committed intentional, grave breaches of presidential authority.
Impeachment is equal to an indictment which then proceeds to a trial in the Senate for determination of guilt or innocence. The violations of Buch and Cheney’s oaths of office to protect the constitution, violations of law in spying on Americans, questions on torture and Iraq – all reach the constitutional threshold of impeachment and trial in the Senate.
Obama apparently disagrees with us on what is impeachable. We suspect most Obama Hopium eating supporters agree with us on what is impeachable and what is not, but they will remain silent and worshipful.
We will not remain silent and worshipful. Too many for too long have remained silent and worshipful. Glenn Greenwald recently articulated several good points about the responsibility of American opinion-making elites and legal experts for the abuses and anti-constitutional assaults of the last eight years.
Instead, many of our leading opinion-makers and elites often defended those policies and thus legitimized them. Even when there was opposition, it was typically tepid, mild, respectful, ambivalent, constrained, dispassionate — creating the appearance to a citizenry that relies upon experts and elites to sound the alarm when things have gone fundamentally off track that there was nothing unusual or noteworthy about the powers this administration was claiming and the conduct in which it was engaging.
Obama does not think George W. did anything impeachable.
Just consider — with no hyperbole — what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons — “black site” gulags — beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they’d be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong. We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of “war crimes”.
Our Government turned the NSA apparatus inward — something that was never supposed to happen — spying on our conversations in secret and without warrants or oversight, all in violation of the law, and then, once revealed, acted to immunize the private-sector lawbreakers. And that’s to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people we killed and the millions more we displaced with a war launched on false pretense. And on and on and on.
Prime responsibility for those actions may lie with the administration which implemented them and with the Congress that thereafter acquiesced to and even endorsed much of it, but it also lies with much of our opinion-making elite and expert class. Even when they politely disagreed, they treated most of this — and still do — as though it were reasonable and customary, eschewing strong language and emphatic condemnation and moral outrage, while perversely and self-servingly construing their constraint as some sort of a virtue — a hallmark of dignified Seriousness. That created the impression that these were just garden-variety political conflicts to be batted about in pretty conference rooms by mutually regarding elites on both sides of these “debates.” Meanwhile, those who objected too strongly and in disrespectful tones, who described the extremism and lawlessness taking place, were dismissed by these same elites as overheated, fringe hysterics.
Some political issues, including ones that provoke intense passion, have many sides, but not all do. Not all positions are worthy of respect. Some actions and policies require outrage and condemnation, to the point where it becomes irresponsible to comment on them without expressing that. Some ideas are so corrupted and dangerous and indefensible that they do reflect negatively on the character and credibility of their advocates, on the propriety of treating those advocates as though they’re respectable and honorable. Most of all, elites who seek out an opinion platform have a responsibility to accept that their ideas and arguments have consequences and they should be held accountable for what their actions spawn (see Atrios’ related point yesterday about Tom Friedman’s responsibility arising from his advocacy for the Iraq War).
Over the last eight years (at least), we have not only crossed the line of what ought to be within the realm of reasonable, respectful debate, but we have crossed it repeatedly, severely, and with great harm to our political system and huge numbers of people. And one of the prime reasons that happened is because those with the most vocal platforms and with the greatest claims to expertise failed in their responsibility to oppose it passionately and to describe its extremism, and, instead, eagerly served as apologists for it. Those who seek now to depict their tepidness in the face of all of that as some elevated form of enlightened reason are merely illustrating one of the key mechanisms that enabled all of it to happen.
In upcoming weeks and months many will exhaust their energies discussing Obama appointments. Is this one good, is that one bad, what does this name mean, what does that mention portend? We remember that in the George W. Bush White House only one appointment mattered – Karl Rove. In the third Bush term only the deck chairs will be moved about.
It was a standard applause line on the campaign trail: Barack Obama condemned the “perpetual campaign” that has consumed Washington, contending that the slash-and-burn politics practiced by the Bush White House had gotten in the way of governing.
But President-elect Obama has been virtually silent on bipartisan calls in recent months to eliminate the White House office that has been described as the nerve center of the sprawling political operations headed up by Bush adviser Karl Rove. And the fate of that office will be just one of the questions Obama will have to answer in explaining how his mammoth and skilled campaign operation can be transformed into an administration that traffics in a different kind of politics at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
John McCain pledged in September to abolish the White House Office of Political Affairs as president. House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) followed up with a report last month recommending its elimination. And Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the government watchdog group Public Citizen, said Wednesday that it “must be dismantled.”
“I would be startled if he kept it and I would be very critical of an Obama administration that kept a political office,” Holman said. “I could not imagine this office being structured in a way that would be in the public’s interest.”
Transition aides declined to comment Wednesday on Obama’s plans for the office. [snip]
Obama’s decision on the political office is an early test of how sharply the president-elect plans to turn away from the practices of his predecessor. [snip]
Waxman’s committee spent months investigating the Bush political affairs office, and concluded in an October report that the extent of its activity and “its deep and systematic reach into the federal agencies are unprecedented.” The office sent cabinet secretaries to campaign for vulnerable Republican candidates, targeted grant announcements to key districts and provide political briefings for agency heads, the report found.
“For these reasons, the committee recommends that Congress develop legislation to eliminate the White House Office of Political Affairs,” the 27-page report stated. “If this is not politically feasible, Congress should adopt reforms to ensure that the office serves the interests of the taxpayer rather than the political party of the president.”
Republicans looking for something to do might consider the hypocritically responsible thing to do is hold Obama to his promises and end the endless campaign. Republicans can assist the Dimocrats in doing what they themselves failed to do.
What fueled the abuses of the last eight years as much as anything else was the ongoing (and severely accelerated) abdication of power by Congress to a bordering-on-omnipotent presidency. [snip]
That means restricting the President’s role to what the Constitution prescribes and having Congress fulfill its assigned duties and perform its core functions. [snip]
Just consider reports this week that Obama intends to use unilaterally issued, unchecked Executive Orders, rather than acts of Congress, to dictate outcomes on a whole range of politically controversial policy debates that are so plainly the province of the Congress to legislate — from restrictions on stem-cell research funding to regulations governing aid to foreign family planning groups to oil drilling.
During the unDemocratic primaries, Hillary answered questions about her views on the “unitary executive” and presidential power.
Senator Hillary Clinton said yesterday that if she is elected president, she intends to roll back President Bush’s expansion of executive authority, including his use of presidential signing statements to put his own interpretation on bills passed by Congress or to claim authority to disobey them entirely.
“I think you have to restore the checks and balances and the separation of powers, which means reining in the presidency,” Clinton told the Boston Globe’s editorial board. [snip]
She also said she did not subscribe to the “unitary executive” theory that argues the Constitution prevents Congress from passing laws limiting the president’s power over executive branch operations. Adherents to the theory say any president who refuses to obey such laws is not really breaking the law.
“It has been a concerted effort by the vice president, with the full acquiescence of the president, to create a much more powerful executive at the expense of both branches of government and of the American people,” she said.
Hillary Clinton also told Michael Tomasky:
Well, I think it is clear that the power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer. Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to the Congress for either ratification or rejection. But when you take the view that they’re not extraordinary powers, but they’re inherent powers that reside in the office and therefore you have neither obligation to request permission nor to ask for ratification, we’re in a new territory here. And I think that I’m gonna have to review everything they’ve done because I’ve been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.
During the same unDemocratic primaries, Joe Biden echoed Hillary on George W. and the “unitary executive”.
Biden charged that Dick Cheney had become “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history” because of his attempts to create a super-powerful unitary executive. Biden didn’t take time to explain exactly what he meant, but it’s an extremely important, poorly understood subject, and it’s time to question the presidential candidates — closely — about it.
Bush’s aggressive exercise of unilateral powers has attracted serious opposition. Unfortunately, too many imagine that the unitary executive doctrine and its kingly prerogatives will leave office with him. That hope is false. History teaches that presidents do not give up power — both Democrats and Republicans have worked to keep it. And besides, hoping the next president will give back some powers means conceding that it is up to him to make that decision.
If people have found Bush’s exercise of executive power alarming, they should not only begin questioning presidential candidates about it, they should make it clear to their congressional representatives that they want these excess powers checked. Barack Obama has already promised that he will continue using signing statements, though he will not act as if they have the force of law. Interestingly enough, John McCain has suggested he will end the practice. These slim indicators deserve more pressure and scrutiny.
Keep Hoping for Change, Hopium Eaters. But we know that the past is prologue – history is a teacher.
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.
Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques — which some consider torture — by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies. [snip]
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting “excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency.”
As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA’s interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.
Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.
The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition.
Just wait till next year when yet another White House occupant requests hundreds of billions of dollars more for the Iraq War, for the 55,000 troops that will stay in Iraq for the long-term after “combat troops” leave in mid-2010 (if you believe Obama’s words), and even more appropriations to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan – talk about a Hopium buzz kill.
But the real test for Obama, and for that matter, the Democrats who now control a bigger majority in both Houses of Congress will come next spring when the Pentagon submits another funding request to Congress to continue operations in Iraq.
Since the electoral victories in November 2006, the Democratic-controlled Congress has approved more than $500 billion in emergency spending bills for Iraq and Afghanistan without the benchmarks that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other leaders said they would demand.
Last summer, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer engineered a $162 billion funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan that funded the war until mid-2009 without a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, a move that led to widespread anger among the Democrats constituents.
And Obama just like George W. does not like oversight nor snooping into money matters. Remember all the noise about lobbyists?
President-elect Barack Obama is barring lobbyists from participating in the transition that will help install his administration. He will still leave room on his team for the rich and powerful.
Top fundraisers and other well-connected supporters will serve in an advisory capacity before the Democrat takes office on Jan. 20.
Five of the 12 members of Obama’s transition advisory board raised at least $50,000 for his presidential campaign, and eight contributed the maximum individual donation of $4,600. Other transition team members include a partner in a lobbying firm and two executives of financial companies whose employees were among his biggest donors.
“If an Obama administration is going to sell influence, these are the ones who have bought it,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a Washington-based advocacy group that favors stronger campaign-finance and lobbying laws. [snip]
The rules, however, won’t prevent campaign fundraisers known as bundlers from serving. [snip]
Another board member, Mark Gitenstein, was registered to lobby through June, House records show. Gitenstein is a partner in the lawyer-lobbying firm of Mayer Brown LLP, whose clients include Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., which is pushing for government help, and New York-based Merrill Lynch & Co., which sold itself to Bank of America Corp. in September.
Obama may be learning quickly that what sounds good on the campaign trail may not always be best for governing, said Costas Panagopoulos, director of Fordham University’s Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy in New York. [snip]
Obama raised a record $650 million for his presidential campaign as he became the first major party nominee to shun federal funds for the general election.
Once again Obama bans lobbyists by redefining the term.
But the new rules do seem to leave some wiggle room. Aides to Mr. Obama, who declared during the campaign that lobbyists would not “find a job in my White House,” said the guidelines allowed for lobbyists to work on the transition in areas where they have not done any lobbying.
Further, the rules apply to lobbyists who must register with the federal government; many people who work for lobbying firms or in other areas of the influence business in Washington do not have to register, because they do not personally lobby federal officials on specific issues.
And in the George W. tradition, all that money raised during the campaign will have no oversight nor scrutiny:
The Federal Election Commission is unlikely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of how Barack Obama raised and spent his presidential campaign’s record-shattering windfall, despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting that had the McCain campaign crying foul.
Adding insult to injury for Republicans: The FEC is obligated to complete a rigorous audit of McCain’s campaign coffers, which will take months, if not years, and cost McCain millions of dollars to defend.
Obama is expected to escape that level of scrutiny mostly because he declined an $84 million public grant for his campaign that automatically triggers an audit and because the sheer volume of cash he raised and spent minimizes the significance of his errors. Another factor: The FEC, which would have to vote to launch an audit, is prone to deadlocking on issues that inordinately impact one party or the other – like approving a messy and high-profile probe of a sitting president. [snip]
Obama – the first presidential candidate to decline public funding in the general election – certainly would provide fodder for the green eye-shades at the FEC’s E Street offices.
Obama’s campaign admitted it initially mis-categorized the purpose of an $832,598 payment for get-out-the-vote efforts to a consulting firm affiliated with ACORN, the community organizing group that became a top target for Republicans alleging voter fraud.
And FEC analysts over the course of the campaign have written more than a dozen letters to Obama singling out hundreds of contributors for whom the campaign either didn’t supply adequate information or from whom he accepted donations exceeding the $4,600 limit. [snip]
Allegations that the Obama campaign was willfully allowing foreign donations and excessive donations blossomed in the conservative blogosphere and prompted the Republican National Committee to file an FEC complaint.
Seizing on Obama’s reversal on a pledge to accept public financing if his Republican opponent agreed to do the same, as well as his campaign’s refusal to voluntarily release the names, addresses and employers of donors who gave less than $200 each – a group that accounted for about half of the more than $600 million that the campaign had raised through the end of September – the RNC asked the FEC “to immediately conduct a full audit” of all of Obama’s contributions.
Obama and the Hopium eaters believe that Obama is worthy of worship and a messenger of God. Republican Tony Blankley reminds them that Alcuin of York famously wrote to Charlemagne that the voice of the people should not be mistaken for the voice of God. This is something Hopium eaters might well remember.
For years Obama and Michelle have warmed their tootsies in front of the mahogony fireplaces of their Rezko-assisted mansion. Now the American people along with us, must hold Obama’s feet to the fire. If we don’t hold Obama’s feet to the fire, the third Bush term will be as bad as the previous two.