Not All Bad Guys Are Hitler

Lot of people I respect have written and emailed to tell me I am not only wrong, but laughably so in this piece where I lamented DDay’s tone. Here is Adam Serwer:

I’ve seen some folks on the left responding to the news that President Barack Obama ignored advice that he needed congressional authorization from Congress to continue operations in Libya from Attorney General Eric Holder, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson, from the Office of Legal Counsel offered by Caroline Krass, characterizing the issue as just another executive branch disagreement. John Cole wrote, “In other words, he got conflicting legal advice, and went with [State Department Legal Adviser Harold] Koh and [White House Counsel Bob] Bauer over Johnson and Krass.”

I think this minimizes the magnitude of the president’s decision.

A little background: The Office of Legal Counsel provides the executive branch with legal advice that is meant to ensure that the executive branch stays within the law. During the Bush administration, this role was twisted as the OLC became politicized, going from the first line of defense against executive overreach to in some cases merely becoming a rubber stamp for dangerous expansions of executive power. As Jane Mayer wrote in The Dark Side, having John Yoo at OLC was like “having a personal friend who could write medical prescriptions.”

Apparently Obama didn’t have a hack at OLC who would just write what he wanted to hear, (although as Marcy Wheeler points out, the OLC’s memo authorizing operations appears to have been written after the fact). Nevertheless, as Jack Balkin writes, Obama appears to have tried to circumvented the regular process through which OLC offers advice in order to get the opinion he wanted.

Here is D-Day, responding:

Just to respond with my hive mind to John Cole, if you think that the Supreme Court of the executive branch and the President’s personal lawyer are equally viable opinions you can pick and choose from in these matters, you’re a bit wrong. Also, the problem here is that the President circumvented the OLC process, and reduced a legally binding check on the power of the executive branch to just one opinion among many. If I could go to court and select the advice of my lawyer on a legal issue rather than the judge, I’d take it! Adam Serwer backs me up here.

I could go on and on with the emails and the pieces from other people I trust, but I’ll just save some time, admit I was wrong, and say sorry to D-Day for being a dick. I often write in haste and anger, and a lot of times blow it and lash out at people. This was one of them. It’s particularly odd mistake for me in one sense, because I think Koh’s advice doesn’t even pass the laugh test. It’s a simply absurd stance- I bet these folks think the US and allies are engaged in “hostilities.”

If I could add a limited defense of myself, I’ll just note that I’m really frustrated right now. Everywhere I look, I see the President under siege, whether it be clowns on center stage at NN (although it is nice to know that it really wasn’t like that at all), that absurd post by Scarecrow in which we are “defied” to explain one difference between Obama and Romney, the full-fledge assault by Republicans, the over fluffing of the GOP by the media, and I could go on and on. So when I saw Choi/Aravosis shitshow at NN, followed by D-Day’s piece and the ensuing predictable comments (“Quite an accomplishment – to make us pine for the days when John Ashcroft was AG.,” “it seems more and more that obama really is related to cheney doesn’t it,” etc. ad nauseum, and yes, I am aware that someone who views the world through a different lens could make the same observations about the comments here.), I snapped. I’m human.

I spend every day here alternately being called an Obama lemming or bashed for insufficient fealty to the Obama nation, and sometimes I just get pissed off and people get caught in the crossfire. So, I’m sorry for that. You do this for ten years, and you make lots of mistakes. But one mistake I won’t make is that I realize that not all bad guys are Hitler, and not every bad Obama decision makes him worse than Bush. Or even comparable.






190 replies
  1. 1
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I love you, John Cole.

    That is all.

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    Apparently Obama didn’t have a hack at OLC who would just write what he wanted to hear, (although as Marcy Wheeler points out, the OLC’s memo authorizing operations appears to have been written after the fact). Nevertheless, as Jack Balkin writes, Obama appears to have tried to circumvented the regular process through which OLC offers advice in order to get the opinion he wanted.

    So, because Obama didn’t have a hack at the OLC who would rubber-stamp what he wanted to do, he’s exactly like Bush? Huh?

    I think some people are still having trouble shaking off the remnants of Bush Derangement Syndrome if they shoot into the stratosphere of “No Difference!” when Obama fails to do the same thing Bush did.

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    You’re the best, John Cole. Apologies like this are so rare.

  4. 4
    eemom says:

    It’s particularly odd mistake for me in one sense, because I think Koh’s advice doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

    and you know this because you’ve thoroughly analyzed the legal issue, right?

  5. 5
    RAM says:

    My basic expectation of a Barack Obama Presidency (I’d already voted for him for U.S. Senator, and had been greatly impressed) was that he would return the nation to the rule of law. My basic expectation has not been realized.

  6. 6
    monkeys says:

    Thank you for being one of the few people in the American pontificate (I mean that broadly, don’t take offense)willing to say you were wrong and apologize.
    Obama is way wrong on this one (and quite a few other ones sadly), but that’s a far cry from as bad as Bush.

  7. 7
    El Tiburon says:

    Fuck ’em and feed ’em fisheads I always say.

    It is refreshing to see a front pager (the Big Kahuna no less) take his lumps like an adult.

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    wtf is this? Cole apologizing because he didn’t take the word of a Hamsher hack on a topic of which he has no independent knowledge is somehow NOBLE?

    Shit.

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    I wish more people could make apologies like that.

  10. 10

    @eemom:
    I don’t think you have to go through a detailed legal analysis to know when somebody is blowing smoke. When somebody has a strong case based on facts and law, they cite the facts and the law and shut up. When they have a weak but defensible case, they go to a lot of trouble to show why the counter arguments aren’t good, but they still cite whatever facts and law support them. It’s only when somebody has a laughably bad case that they go with bullshit like us not being engaged in hostilities even though we’re blowing the other guys up.

  11. 11
    slag says:

    and you know this because you’ve thoroughly analyzed the legal issue, right?

    Because only legal analysts are allowed to laugh. All you sad clowns out there–the day is now yours.

  12. 12
    Lee Hartmann says:

    As a frequent reader of FDL (!) I also read this blog frequently. And I admire you for your willingness to think about things and change your mind upon further consideration. No apologies needed for that.

  13. 13
    Cromagnon says:

    The DFH’s are just as deluded as the wingnuts. They both live in a fantasy world that exists only in their own mind. Yet these are the people who control our political process. Fuck’em all

  14. 14
    Keith G says:

    Rethinking is a good thing. Gosh knows, I end up doing it a lot out of necessary.

    Everywhere I look, I see the President under siege..

    Obama has done many very important things. And he doing some inexplicably silly things as well. The two extremes would have always attacked him, but he has made others in the center a bit uncomfortable as well,and that’s on him.

  15. 15
    dday says:

    The apology is accepted and appreciated.

  16. 16
    eemom says:

    here’s a hint: someone who refers to OLC as “the Supreme Court of the executive branch” has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.

  17. 17
    cat48 says:

    Don’t let the haters get you down, John, even when their on your side. Obama is not Bush.

  18. 18

    Like I said from the time you first posted the Dday piece, if the US is pulling triggers now in Libya, then if the Obama administration is going to apply the WPA standard on the Libyan UN action, instead of sticking with the UN standard they began with, to justify the legality of what we are doing, and have done in Libya, then they are absolutely engaging in hostilities if it is true we are using drones to drop bombs on Libya.

    Since I personally believe as long as we follow precisely what the UN is sanctioning, then the WPA does not apply, and if congress thinks it does, then they need to get off their ass and exert their authority with purse strings, or just a vote as a sense of congress that Obama needs to get approval at this point if they want to keep dropping bombs, even with unmanned drones. That is a no brainer. I think it was a political blunder for Obama to embrace the WPA at this stage, or at all, and use the UN justification, and let congress decide which applies with an actual vote.

    I just still get the feeling that a lot of these concerned progressives are hovering like vultures along with the GOP vultures to pick Obama’s bones at the slightest blunder or opportunity. Because most of these folks on the left have been against the Libyan action from the beginning, and that it is illegal without a formal declaration of war by congress, or whatever strand of straw they can grasp to bash Obama for using the military for any reason. But since they have jumped on board the 90 day limit of the WPA, then they have to accept the overall legality of the action from the beginning, and not just focus on a legal opinion now from the OLC.

    I would give you some advice Cole, but I am just a nobody commenter, and will not waste my breath.

  19. 19
    blogreeder says:

    .. (smell of popcorn in the air) munch, munch.. mmmm .. this is getting good.. munch, munch…

  20. 20
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    have you notice the people who say they don’t care if the republicans win are men, who by definition, will never have to depend on the existence of Roe v Wade?

    these people say they’re progressive, they say they’re well read, yet time after time, they’re oblivious to the interests of 53% of the population.

    if this isn’t a soft form of sexism, what is.

  21. 21
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    Am I dreaming or did a frontpage post from Sarah Proud and Tall on the NY bill to approve same sex marriage just disappear?

  22. 22
    Ed Marshall says:

    It’s really funny having half a legal education. I haven’t been brainwashed into believing in legal formalism yet, and sneer at just about anyone who says anything is unconstitutional (because it’s totally meaningless, the Court decides what is constitutional and if they didn’t decide it wasn’t, it isn’t, in addition the volume someone declares something to be unconstitutional is positively correlated to being completely ignorant of American law).

    However, there is a fly in the ointment here. Good lawyers are payed to believe in this nonsense on stilts (although an alternate theory is they get paid because they do believe this horseshit) and to turn the volume up to 11 to. Probably your *best* lawyers do this. This is what Greenwald does, and I’m never sure if he is just naive or lawyering.

  23. 23
    JonF says:

    The line for me is bright lines between what is legal and what isn’t. Bush clearly violated this line. Obama listening to Koh isn’t. Whether or not we’re at actual “war” in Libya is going to be for a federal judge to figure out. However, nothing Obama has done(as far as we know) is clearly illegal.

  24. 24
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    I’ve said this in a few places, and I’ll say it here, too.

    While I can’t support (or entirely oppose) Obama’s actions, it could have good effects if *something* happens. If Congress passes a law, or sues, or does *something* to clarify the War Powers Act.

    Does that make it right? Is it right to push the boundaries of power, if it leads to a better precedent down the line? I don’t know. But I realized that, when Obama continued to use the State Secrets privilege to request outright dismissal of suits (rather than, e.g., suppression of certain evidence), it would not change anything down the road for him to act correctly. If Bush uses State Secrets to say “nope, we can’t even have a lawsuit about this” and Obama says “sure, we can have a lawsuit, but this, that, and the other, is privileged” then the next President gets to do either.

    But if Obama gets slapped down by the courts, or Congress outlines the use of State Secrets privilege in lawsuits, *then* the next President’s options have become limited.

    The same thing might apply here.

    Which is to say, maybe we shouldn’t be whining about how Obama’s been a bad, bad boy and decide if we want the courts or Congress to spank him and tell him not to do it again.

    If that makes me an Obama-hater, I’ll say this: it’s entirely possible that this is what Obama wants; he might prefer cleanly drawn lines around use of military force.

    If that makes me an Obama worshipper, fine, show me my hero has feet of clay, and get him sued by Congress, or get a new law passed. That’ll teach me!

  25. 25
    lol says:

    I don’t know about you Mike, but in light of the Wal-Mart decision today by the Supreme Court, one thing is for certain: it’s that “the base” is “sick of hearing about Lily Ledbetter”.

  26. 26
    James E. Powell says:

    This is what Greenwald does, and I’m never sure if he is just naive or lawyering.

    As a lawyer myself, and having spent most of my adult life surrounded by same, it do not believe that there is ever an instance of a lawyer who is not ‘lawyering.’ In truth, I do not believe that we lawyers can even tell the difference. After the second year of law school, it’s only a matter of whether it is good lawyering.

  27. 27
    dday says:

    here’s a hint: someone who refers to OLC as “the Supreme Court of the executive branch” has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.

    I’m sorry to hear that Charlie Savage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on executive power, has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.

    Charlie Savage: Because in national security matters most of what the government does is never going to get into court (because it’s a secret and because no one has standing to file a lawsuit over it), this means that the OLC acts as a kind of internal Supreme Court for the executive branch.

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    FWIW, here is the NYT piece describing Koh’s legal thought:

    The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces had not been in “hostilities” at least since early April, when NATO took over the responsibility for the no-fly zone and the United States shifted to primarily a supporting role — providing refueling and surveillance to allied warplanes, although remotely piloted drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles, too.
    They argued that United States forces are at little risk because there are no troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange fire with them meaningfully. And they said the military mission was constrained by a United Nations Security Council resolution, which authorized air power for the purpose of defending civilians.

    The War Powers Act takes effect when the Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities, and Koh’s opinion seems to be that the specific role the U.S. Armed Forced is playing doesn’t rise to that level. Whether you agree or disagree, I don’t think he is saying that the Libyan conflict as a whole doesn’t involve “hostilities.”

  29. 29
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    Ironically, Adam Serwer offers his opinion on law, even though he has never attended law school.

    I guess he’s able to offer his vast expertise and scholarship because slept at a Holiday Inn Express once.

  30. 30
    Emrventures says:

    Good writers are good writers because they have a voice.

    An inchoate term, you can’t define it but you know it when you see it.

    I check this blog more than almost any other because the writer has a voice.

  31. 31
    TuiMel says:

    There have been strategies, tactics, and individual policy decisions by the Obama administration that have baffled or disappointed me. The whole Libya adventure is a baffler for me. When it comes to the WPR, I am not at all shocked that Obama is inclined (determined?) to protect the prerogatives of his office from the weathervane criticisms of the opposition party. Republicans are playing politics and so is he. Is it optimal? Not in my opinion, but that is where I think we are.

    Perhaps I am rationalizing, but even as I am “less than thrilled” by his Libya maneuvers, I do not see his antics vis a vis the OLC as on a par with what Bush did with that office. The OLC’s opinion is public and at odds with the President’s actions. Obama has to take the heat (or the love – depending on where one stands) for that reality. But, we have evidence that Obama (or some defacto co-President) has NOT filled the OLC with idealogues determined to write legal opinions to support everything POTUS wants to do. That is not insignificant, and I hope it continues to be true. But at this point, I am going to keep a firm grip on the baby as I toss out that bathwater.

  32. 32
    different church-lady says:

    Is this another one of those apologies you supposedly never make?

  33. 33
    Elisabeth says:

    FWIW, here is the NYT piece describing Koh’s legal thought:

    It seems Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he isn’t OLC.

  34. 34
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    For those who haven’t seen it, the June 15 report to congress is here: here (34 page .pdf). It seems to me that Obama has taken a reasonable position on page 25 of the text (27 of the .pdf), and spelled out why pretty well. He’s not blowing off the law; he is consulting with Congress and keeping them informed on what he’s doing.

    Congressional critics need to quit belly-aching to the press. They have had some hearings, they should have a vote. They can vote to cut-off funding or say it’s Ok or put conditions on it. If they won’t do so, and recall a vote scheduled for June 3 was killed when it looked like Kucinich’s amendment was going to pass, it tells me that the griping is just political sniping.

    Shocking, I know.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  35. 35

    dday

    So what’s your position DDay? If Obama quits the drone bombing is he cool with you and the WPA requirements. Or is it still illegal in your eyes. Would you have required a pre war declaration of war, and in the meantime let the protestors be slaughtered, you and Jane and the crew were cheerleading only days before.

  36. 36
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    @ dday: Where you shocked to discover your boss is a republican fund raiser?

    jane-hamsher-republican-consultant

  37. 37

    let me see if i can cut through all of this in a way that makes sense to me.

    you got yourself out of position as a dutiful obot, by being very vocal at the outset of what ever you want to term what we have been doing in libya.

    in the interim, you feel the base slipping away from obama.

    now out of position, and off-balance, you try to make a case for how obama tackles justifying actions you don’t believe in, in the first place.

    i can see how your usually cool rational self, might have left some athletic equipment and perhaps a ligament on the playing surface.

    i wouldn’t worry about it, at least you’re not out for the season

  38. 38
    shortstop says:

    What Emrventures at #30 said.

    And posts like this are why I really like to read John Cole. I like him when he’s screaming and right. I also like him when he’s been screaming and wrong and comes back to say so with grace.

  39. 39
    Cromagnon says:

    Who gives a shit what DDay thinks anyway? I mean really

  40. 40
    LT says:

    I thought when you wrote it that you’d regret it. And that you’d own up to that. (Although you were right to trample Scarecrow’s crap post.) Well done, John.

  41. 41
    Baud says:

    It seems Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he isn’t OLC.

    That’s the thing. If the roles were reversed (if the OLC had said the War Powers Act doesn’t apply and Koh had said it did), do you think we’d see the same outrage about Obama “ignoring” the OLC opinion? I get that opinions about process are often determined by desired political outcomes, but the level of outrage focused on process here strikes me as a tad disingenuous.

  42. 42
    boss bitch says:

    It seems Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he isn’t OLC.

    It doesn’t count because they are against Obama being in Libya and Koh gave the go ahead.

  43. 43
    LT says:

    “here’s a hint: someone who refers to OLC as “the Supreme Court of the executive branch” has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.”

    In the midst of the apology by Cole, and DDay showing up to accept that, that and your other comments look, I don’t know, small, maybe.

  44. 44
    Linnaeus says:

    I spend every day here alternately being called an Obama lemming or bashed for insufficient fealty to the Obama nation, and sometimes I just get pissed off and people get caught in the crossfire. So, I’m sorry for that. You do this for ten years, and you make lots of mistakes. But one mistake I won’t make is that I realize that not all bad guys are Hitler, and not every bad Obama decision makes him worse than Bush. Or even comparable

    Yeah, it seems to me that a few corners of progressive Blogovia have these very distinct lines drawn up with respect to Obama, and in those camps, he’s either great or terrible. Having an opinion somewhere in between in that context can make for a lot of frustration.

    It’s pretty clear to me that President Obama is not worse than Bush, not as bad as Bush, and is a better president than Bush by a considerable margin. That said, Bush set the bar so low that I wonder if we’re willing to accept actions by the president of which we’d be more critical otherwise because Bush was so very bad such that we’re just happy not to have a Republican in the White House.

    The problem, for lack of a better word, goes far beyond the president. There’s an institutional rot in this country that has far-ranging social and economic ramifications. The president is a man of his time and his context, and if we want to change the politicians we get, we have to change that context. That means being willing to say when our politicians fail, but at the same time accept that there will be failures and setback. Not always an easy thing to do.

  45. 45
    shortstop says:

    Nicely done, Linnaeus.

  46. 46
    Ed Marshall says:

    @James E. Powell

    That is depressing. I’ve had arguments with legal academics, and there is this point where I don’t want to call them out as intentionally being obtuse or lying. Hell, I don’t know, I’m not in their heads and their heart seems to be in the right place. I’ve always harbored this sneaking suspicion that you can’t really be put through that education and seriously believe in the system.

  47. 47
    timb says:

    @JonF

    Whether or not we’re at actual “war” in Libya is going to be for a federal judge to figure out.

    Christ, I hope not. What is a “war” and what isn’t a war is so obviously a political question (and NOT a legal question) that we should impeach any judge who doesn’t throw out the lawsuit.

    Clausewitz wrote an entire manifesto on war as policy/politics. Don’t bring judges into the dispute

  48. 48
    eemom says:

    @LT

    certainly, because an idiot apologizing to another idiot is large, even if they’re both wrong.

  49. 49
    LT says:

    @eemom

    I’d offer you a shovel, but you and your backhoe are doing fine.

  50. 50
    eemom says:

    @ dday

    Yes, Maureen Dowd and Kathleen Parker won Pulitzer Prizes too. You’ll pardon me if I don’t therefore regard their drivelous musings as gospel truth.

    You know what makes the Supreme Court SPECIAL, dday? Their holdings are “the law of the land,” unless and until they are undone by act of Congress.

    The OLC, not so much.

  51. 51
    El Tiburon says:

    Dray, don’t mind eemom, he was born with a foot in his douchebag.

  52. 52
    bergman says:

    what struck me about dday and serwer posts were how restrained and respectful they were. You know why, because Cole has earned that respect. Not by always being right or even-tempered, but by being straightforward. And a hell of a writer.

  53. 53

    That means being willing to say when our politicians fail, but at the same time accept that there will be failures and setback. Not always an easy thing to do.

    There is a third element to that equation, and that is demonstrating support when it’s warranted, without reservation. This is not an exercise in worship or blind obedience. It is firmly rooted in the politics of a presidency in a most raw practical way. If you are sincere about a president on your side of the isle having the power to actually get things done, that you want done.

    It’s importance is maintaining approval of the public, but the real necessity of this unbroken support is with the attitudes or opinions of the members of congress, especially those on your own side, who are always in a tug of war between what they want, what their individual voters expect, and what the president and leader of his party wants. It is a power matrix, that governs about everything CC’ers do, or vote. A president with a so called activist base that delivers nothing but criticism and threats of revolt is worse than the worst opposition republican.

    The problem with the morons at FDL, and blogs like it, is that they don’t realize this fact, and don’t seem to care. They are in it to hear the sounds of their own voices, and that is about it.

    Fuck this shit. I got better things to do.

  54. 54
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    You know, if things where the other way around with the OLC opposing reporting to congress and Koh supporting reporting to congress, the very same non-lawyers would be supporting Koh and denouncing the OLC.

  55. 55
    El Tiburon says:

    You know what makes the Supreme Court SPECIAL, dday? Their holdings are “the law of the land,” unless and until they are undone by act of Congress.

    The OLC, not so much.

    Somebody took the Literal train way past the intended stop. Neither Savage nor dray were ascribing SCOTUS powers to the OLC per se, but that in a Presidential administration, the buck stops there vis a vis legal conclusions. Bit I suspect dray does appreciate the civics 101 refresher.

  56. 56
    Ed Marshall says:

    @El Tiburon

    No, eemom is more or less absolutely correct. The OLC isn’t shit. I can’t think of any sane reason why you would want the OLC to be authoritative and the office isn’t.

  57. 57
    Cromagnon says:

    Personally, I love it when Obama gives ‘progressives’ the big finger. What would be even greater is if he replaced ‘Hail to the Chief’ with Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ (gratuitous South Park reference)

  58. 58
    LT says:

    Stuck

    But since they have jumped on board the 90 day limit of the WPA, then they have to accept the overall legality of the action from the beginning, and not just focus on a legal opinion now from the OLC.

    No they don’t. If they’re against it they can and should use whatever they like to stop it. This isn’t a game they’re playing with you.

    And a lot of people pointing to the 90 day limit supported the action in the first place. Me (a bigger nobody that you) did. Not based on anything but the fact that Ghaddafi was slaughtering civilians and it was right to stop him.

  59. 59
    Ed Marshall says:

    You all are cuter than a basket of puppies. I’m going to bed.

  60. 60
    LT says:

    Ed Marshall

    No, eemom is more or less absolutely correct. The OLC isn’t shit. I can’t think of any sane reason why you would want the OLC to be authoritative and the office isn’t.

    Are you refuting that it is, as Savage put it, “extraordinarily rare” for a president to override their rulings?

  61. 61
    Linnaeus says:

    There is a third element to that equation, and that is demonstrating support when it’s warranted, without reservation. This is not an exercise in worship or blind obedience. It is firmly rooted in the politics of a presidency in a most raw practical way. If you are sincere about a president on your side of the isle having the power to actually get things done, that you want done.

    Sure, that’s a fair observation. I think the rub is finding out where such support is warranted and where it’s not. And there is a point at which you may find that even a politician on your side will not go in the direction you want her or him to go. Then things get tricky, because on one hand you don’t want to undermine someone whom you generally support (particularly when you contract that person with the opposition), but on the other hand, you don’t want your support to be taken for granted. That’s why I talked about changing the context; you deal with the political leaders you get as best you can, but try to change the milieu in which they develop so that you get leaders that support more of what you want.

  62. 62
    eemom says:

    the buck stops there vis a vis legal conclusions.

    no, actually it doesn’t. The president is not bound by its conclusions. If he was we wouldn’t be having this moronic argument.

    I generally dislike the term “strawman,” but it is spot on perfect for the firebots’ invocation of the Bush OLC here. As I understand it, it goes like this: Cheney believed that the OLC’s opinion was regarded as some kind of legal gold standard, therefore he took precautions to assure that it was rigged on his side.

    Obama’s OLC is not rigged. But if Cheney was so scared of the OLC, that PROVES……well, something. That all Presidents tremble and obey when the OLC speaks?

    What about….oh, say, the paranoid Cheney didn’t want to take ANY chances on dissent within the administration?

    Nah. Couldn’t be that.

  63. 63
    Linnaeus says:

    Er, make that “contrast that person with the opposition”.

  64. 64

    No they don’t. If they’re against it they can and should use whatever they like to stop it. This isn’t a game they’re playing with you.

    Bull fucking shit. They have one singular purpose, DDay, FDL, and the rest of you lying sacks of shit. To bring down the presidency of Obama. They are playing a game, and with peoples lives, cheerleading on the revolts in MENA with prog heroes like Assange, taking the credit for Egypt and Tunisia, until Libya happened and Khadaffy decided to kill the protestors in large numbers. And the world via the UN and US participating acted to stop the slaughter, and you sorry game playing motherfuckers are sitting in your air conditioned bunkers typing out high legal and pol theories to nail Obama with. Who has set a new standard, or trying to, letting the UN take the lead when world policing is necessary, instead of us.

    You people make me sick, you and your game playing

  65. 65
    timb says:

    eeom, not to quibble, but Cheney thought so little of the OLC that he set Addington up in the VP’s office with a direct route to every bureaucrat and political appointee in Washington and as the owner of a cute little puppy named Alberto Gonzalez. Cheney could give a crap about the OLC, unless they agreed with Haynes, Gonzalez, and Addington

  66. 66
    LT says:

    Oy fucking weh.

    You know what the problem really is: You acting like you know every little thing about strangers on the intertubes. (You know what I’m doing in Nov. ’12? I’m voting for Obama. Absolutely no question about it.) And that your type of colorblindness makes gray invisible to you. (DDay, FDL – Marcy and TBogg, too! – want nothing more than to “bring down the presidency of Obama”!!!)

    The only thing making you sick is something you swallowed yourself.

  67. 67
    eemom says:

    @timb

    But that’s not what noted legal scholars dday et al are arguing here. They are saying that Cheney took care to politicize the OLC, and they are using that as (bullshit) evidence that what the OLC says goes.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:

    Hmmm …

    The only opinion related to Libya that is posted on the OLC webpage is dated April 1. Here is the opening paragraph.

    This memorandum memorializes advice this Office provided to you, prior to the commencement of recent United States military operations in Libya, regarding the President’s legal authority to conduct such operations. For the reasons explained below, we concluded that the President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of force in Libya because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest. We also advised that prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration.

    The April 1 OLC opinion does not address whether the proposed actions in Libya constituted “hostilities” for purposes of the WPA. Instead, it addresses the related but analytically distinct question of whether the proposed actions in Libya constituted a “war.” It concluded, based on prior OLC opinions involving military operations in Haiti and Bosnia, that the proposed scope of operations in Libya did not rise to the level of “war.”

    So if OLC has weighed in on the question of whether the United States military is currently, or was at any time in the past, engaged in “hostilities” in the Libyan theater, it appears that all we know about said opinion is hearsay based on leaks (or leaks based on hearsay, if you prefer). Either that, or people with an ax to grind are conflating two terms that appear to have different legal significance, i.d., “war” and “hostilities,” in order to argue that the April 1 OLC opinion addressed an issue that it seems to me that it pretty clearly did not address.

    At least we’ve seen Koh’s analysis, which has been linked to at Opinio Juris.

    I’m not sure where I come out on this question, and I certainly understand how Cole gets to where he gets based on common sense and his own military experience. But I don’t think any of us know quite enough to make a reasoned call, unless some of you you have somehow gotten your hands on a complete and unredacted copy of the supposed second OLC memo.

    Also worth noting: there is now a link at Balkinization to the previously-hard-to-find 1980 OLC opinion on the constitutionality of the WPA.

  69. 69
    LT says:

    “you sorry game playing motherfuckers are sitting in your air conditioned bunkers typing out ”

    Where exactly are you writing these posts from?

  70. 70
    d. john says:

    @33

    It seems Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he isn’t OLC.

    Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he has the legal acumen of John Yoo…

    I knew this whole mess was fishy.

  71. 71
    mk387 says:

    LOL! DDay convinced Cole that the OLC is JUST LIKE the SUPREME COURT!

    I’m not sure if it’s more embarassing that Cole felt he had to apologize to DDay, FDL Bagger & all, or that he actually believes that the OLC is the SUPREME COURT!

  72. 72
    Keith G says:

    Jeeze people. A president of the United States has committed the US military to play an important role in a military campaign.

    I am proud of my vote for Obama and I will be proud to vote for him again and I want there to be a check on the power of the president to commit our military to acts of aggression.

    Lybia is pretty much what a lot of war is going to look like from here on and I have no problem being sure that this and future president have to jump through a few extra hoops as our important resources get committed to such activities.

  73. 73
    d. john says:

    Let me be clear.

    Despite what many of the bleeding heart partisans may think,
    Harold Koh chose partisanship over legal principles. That makes him every bit as much of a hack as Jay Bybee or John Yoo…

    The *only* difference is the party.

    They should all be disbarred.

    And Berkeley should be ashamed of itself over Yoo.

    They are hacks. all 3 of them. zero tangible difference between them. They disgrace their profession. And for a lawyer – that’s pretty sad. Heh. (well, bybee is a judge, not a lawyer as such, but my point stands)

  74. 74

    Oy fucking weh.

    Go cheer lead some more trendy revolutions you morons get off on, until people start to die from them, then you whine about “executive authority” or what not ever the truth to power du jour meme of the day is.

    I am truly sorry that TBogg associates himself with a bonafide racist blog on the left that is FDL. I don’t give a fuck who you say you will vote for, that doesn’t mean you aren’t acting like needy children, hanging on Obama’s every move to meet your approval or it’s an all day hissy fit.

    Obama goes through the UN, and not only that, offers US support as secondary for the first time I can remember, if ever. And gets it from the right wing American Exceptionalism crowd for letting the French be on top this time, and from leftist progs who would rather get their war protest on than save the protestors they were cheering on yesterday.

  75. 75
    tomvox1 says:

    @ Mike Kay/36:

    Thank you! This is the f*ing smoking gun showing the true colors of this professional shit stirrer. How else can a “firebrand True Progressive” justify representing the ACLU and BP?

    This proves–yes proves–that Hamsher doesn’t give a F who is in power or what their policies are as long as she can make a buck off the process. All the other public histrionics she performs are just camouflage and in the case of the Obama bashing, to demotivate the Democratic base so as to put more potential Republican clients into play. Would not be surprised at all if Greenwald was also in on this scam, since Jane and he are business partners in other ventures…

  76. 76
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    I love how lefty commentators selectively prattle on about the “rule of law”.

    A fair amount of the same people smoke pot for recreational purposes — do they say, “oh, no, I can’t spark up, we must follow the ‘rule of law'”? no.

    When they were drafting people into the military, and people would evade legal conscription by procuring a fraudulent medical excuses or by moving to Canada, did you hear these people say, “oh no, we must honor the ‘rule of law'”? no.

    And when back-ally abortions return in the next republican administration, will they turn in women for having illegal abortions, out of fealty to the “rule of law” — I hope not. I hope not, because obeying the “rule of law” is a ridiculous notion.

  77. 77

    The April 1 OLC opinion does not address whether the proposed actions in Libya constituted “hostilities” for purposes of the WPA.

    Fucking figures, this whole flame war has been over made up shit. That’s just peachy.

  78. 78
    Ed Marshall says:

    @mk387

    What embarrasses me is Cole has a poli sci degree. I hope the major wasn’t public law.

  79. 79
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    @tomvox1:

    She places attack ads against democrats and she places fundraising ads for republicans. in short, she raise money for republicans to defeat democrats.

  80. 80
    d. john says:

    @General Stuck,

    Bull fucking shit. They have one singular purpose, DDay, FDL, and the rest of you lying sacks of shit. To bring down the presidency of Obama. They are playing a game, and with peoples lives

    You caught me. Me and my secret cabal of firebaggers are playing 15th dimensional chess to try and get rid of Obama, cuz we hates him soooo much.

    I think Occam’s razor applies here:
    Maybe it’s just cuz we just don’t like the lawyer shopping, the casual subversion of checks on executive power, et al, regardless of who is doing it.

    Nah, that couldn’t be it.

    It must be the secret society of evil progressive firebaggers hell bent on destroying Obama.

    Uh huh.

  81. 81

    You caught me.

    You are an odd duck sir. I have nothing against odd ducks, so why are you lying down on my tracks?

  82. 82
    burnspbesq says:

    @ d.john:

    Koh’s opinion doesn’t count because he has the legal acumen of John Yoo

    That is beyond question the dumbest thing posted on this blog during 2011.

    Just to be absolutely certain: we are talking about Harold Hongju Koh, are we not? The former dean of Yale Law School? The same guy that Glenn Greenwald said would be a better pick for the Supreme Court than Justice Kagan?

    OK. Now that we’ve established that we’re talking about the same guy, please entertain us with your detailed analysis of all the things that are wrong with Koh’s analysis. On the off chance that you opened your pie-hole without actually reading it, here’s a link.

    Take all the time you want; we have plenty of popcorn.

  83. 83
    Keith G says:

    @ d. John (80): Is there a secret handshake? There must be a secret handshake.

    Please, may I see?

  84. 84
    El Tiburon says:

    no, actually it doesn’t. The president is not bound by its conclusions. If he was we wouldn’t be having this moronic argument.

    Nobody said the prez was bound by the OLC. Reread the Savage quote, which is what I’m referring to. For the Executive Branch, what is the highest judicial entity they rely on? The OLC. It’s a very simple concept, whether you agree or not, the concept is not hard to get.

    Using an old SAT construct: the OLC is to the Executive as the Supreme Court is the to Congress – to an extent. Agreebor disagree, I am picking up what he is putting down.

  85. 85
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    ya know, in the 1930s Congress passed the Neutrality acts. Liberal icon Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly broke those laws, most famously transferring 40 destroyers to Britain in 1940.

    This Article analyzes how Roosevelt violated the Neutrality Acts and the Constitution prior to the implementation of the 1941 Lend-Lease Act. The upshot of the clash between public or congressional shortsightedness on the one hand, and Roosevelt’s almost clairvoyant understanding of the intentions of the fascists and his irreverence for the law on the other hand. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa.....id=1443343

    How can commentators worship FDR, and frequently call on Obama to be like FDR, when their idol frequently violated their precious “rule of law”? Is it simply because they have no knowledge of history and are unaware their hero committed numerous illegal and immoral acts (firebombing civilians)?

  86. 86
    d. john says:

    @82,

    It’s the hostilities thing. Bombing is a hostile action.

    Bombing is a hostile action.

    Waterboarding wasn’t torture.

    Bombings aren’t hostilities.

    WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    et al

  87. 87
    burnspbesq says:

    FWIW, having now had a chance to read the 1980 OLC memo re the constitutionality of the WPA (once, and quickly), I think Cole is correct that what we are doing in Libya constitutes “hostilities.” We have people and assets in harm’s way on a regular basis, and while the memo’s discussion lacks specificity, I think that’s enough.

    That DOES NOT mean (certain idiots’ opinions to the contrary) that Koh’s analysis isn’t worth anything. This is an excruciatingly close call, and reasonable people can come out on either side.

  88. 88
    d. john says:

    @85,
    “How can commentators worship FDR, and frequently call on Obama to be like FDR, when their idol frequently violated their precious “rule of law”? ”

    Had I been alive at the time, I probably would have been upset about that too..

    I can’t think of one SINGLE president (or politician) I’ve ever completely agreed with.

    When I think they are wrong, I will say so. Hell, that’s my right and duty and a citizen, afaiac…

    I thought Clinton was wrong for bombing the shit out of Irag, for NAFTA, for the TDA (attempt 1 AND 2)

    You seem to want pure loyalty and agreement from me.

    You’ll not get it.

    If you want ideological purity, and a lockstep mentality, there’s a party for that. Best of luck to you.

  89. 89
    eemom says:

    the concept is not hard to get

    except that “the concept” is wrong. For so many reasons.

    OLC is not a judicial entity.

    Congress doesn’t “rely on” the Supreme Court’s decisions — they are stuck with them, unless they have the votes to overrule them.

    The president is not stuck with the OLC’s opinion. However much respect it may be entitled to, he is not bound by it.

    SAT analogy F.a.i.l.

    Reread, like, reality.

  90. 90
    Lurleen says:

    One word: Benghazi.

  91. 91
    mk387 says:

    The Lefty “rule of law”, “Obama is worse than Bush” card only gets played when it has to do with decisions they don’t like.

    No whining from FDL about Obama no longer defending DOMA? Except, of course, “what took him so long”??

    If Obama unilaterally took action against unemployment, I doubt DDay would call him “worse than Bush” for that.

    It’s selective outrage, based on ideology, not purely objective.

  92. 92
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Cole, you really are amazing.

    Seriously, how many people would, first, totally change “sides” if you will, in the ideological battle of our times, then, follow up over the years with thoughtful, reflective reevaluations of your own words, coupled with apologies.

    We may disagree on some things, but damn, you’re classy, and you come from a sincere place, even when you’re totally wrong.

    Which I can’t say for a lot of people.

  93. 93
    burnspbesq says:

    @ d.john:

    You seem to want pure loyalty and agreement from me.

    The only thing I want from you is a straight answer to the question I posed @ 82, which you seem determined to duck. Lacking confidence in your analytical chops?

  94. 94
    d. john says:

    @burnspbesq, 87

    Well we happen to disagree, I posted at length the other day, and provided a few links on the other thread.

    I’ll spare you all re-posting my position again.

    Now I explained to you why I think Koh is a hack, and it seems you’d agree that bombing counts as hostile action. If so, why did he say otherwise. I smell a partisan career move… just like I did when Yoo did the same fucking thing.

    You want to think I’m stupid fine. I really don’t give a shit.

    But I am not just saying this shit to undermine Obama. I’m saying it because I sincerely believe that he’s wrong on this.

    What part of that is so fucking hard for you people to grasp.

    I’m not secretly trying to undermine your hero in chief.

    I just happen to believe in calling my president out for being wrong, when he is wrong.

    Oh, BTW if you want to throw a bunch of Koh’s academic credentials at me, it’s probably a waste of effort. If Dr. Laura can get a doctorate anybody can. And Berkeley seems just fine with Yoo… You’ll gain no ground with me with that argument. I’ll happily judge him by his tortured legal argument, “credentials” notwithstanding.

  95. 95
    mk387 says:

    d. john #86: The Obama admin’s statement does not declare the NATO action as not part of “hostilities”. It says America’s ROLE in the action does not expose the military to those hostilities.

  96. 96
    Keith G says:

    It’s the hostilities thing. Bombing is a hostile action.

    Apparently not when a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is helping out.

  97. 97
    d. john says:

    “ROLE in the action does not expose the military to those hostilities.”

    Koh may argue that since we are not putting OUR troops in harms way it’s not a hostile action. That argument is a steaming pile of pure bullshit. I was nicer last time when I called it “tortured”…

    Lobbing an ICBM isn’t hostile either I guess.

    Fucking hell.

  98. 98
    d. john says:

    @General Stuck #18

    then the WPA does not apply, and if congress thinks it does, then they need to get off their ass and exert their authority with purse strings

    I agree that congress is not doing their job.
    I’ll even concede they may primarily be to blame.

    But I don’t buy that WPA doesn’t apply here. And I’m not giving Obama a pass for his hand in this, even if Congress is the main culprit, Obama is an accessory.

  99. 99
    NR says:

    I love how lefty commentators selectively prattle on about the “rule of law”. A fair amount of the same people smoke pot for recreational purposes—do they say, “oh, no, I can’t spark up, we must follow the ‘rule of law’”? no.

    Yeah, because somebody getting high in the privacy of their own home is exactly the same as the president of the United States using the Constitution for toilet paper in pursuit of unlimited power to wage war.

    God, you’re a fucking idiot.

  100. 100
    ChrisNYC says:

    @ mk387

    True, true. OLC lawyers were deemed “evil” and “hacks” when they signed off on the Al-Awlaki targeting. Now the same lawyers are the shadow Supreme Court.

  101. 101
    SIA says:

    Aw. Ya big lug. We luv ya.

  102. 102
    Keith G says:

    @mk387:

    The Obama admin’s statement does not declare the NATO action as not part of “hostilities”. It says America’s ROLE in the action does not expose the military to those hostilities.

    Is this a distinction with out much of a difference? My best friend spent much of 2003-2004 in Kawait on a Marine base making sure supplies were loaded on the correct truck for the trip up to Iraq. Was she not part of a hostile military campaign?

  103. 103
    Lurleen says:

    I get this feeling that the people who are so against this are the same ones I interacted with after the first Gulf War.

    This war thing. It was cool.

    Not any more.

    They probably also clamored for action in Rwanda.

    They don’t care about the people in Benghazi. They don’t know them.

  104. 104
    Dust Speck says:

    The OLC’s legal opinions are not gospel. It wasn’t under Bush when it was filled with people cherry picked to produce legal analysis that supported the Bush/Cheney vision of the war on terror. It isn’t now when it is, hopefully, filled with smart and ethical lawyers trying to give their honest opinions to Obama

    Libya, and the other issues OLC faces, are really tough. There often are valid, legit arguments for either side. What made the Bush OLC so troubling was it took issues that were not difficult and used some ludicrous theories to provide legal cover for Bush’s actions. As many have pointed out, if Obama’s OLC had told him “yes” and Harold Koh had said “no”, it would seem pretty similar to Bush. In contrast, it is heartening to hear that Obama is getting some push-back from his OLC. It is a sign of an independent DOJ and it is something that should be welcomed by everyone.

    OLC actually has a long history of issuing opinions that support the president’s proposed action, no matter which party is in control. For instance, Clinton’s OLC said that Congress approved of Kosovo under the War Powers Act because Congress didn’t cut off its funding. Is that really a better argument than our actions in Libya don’t count as hostilities?

    In short, a reporter for New York Times doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about. Now there is a comparison to the Bush years that I can agree with…

  105. 105
    d. john says:

    burnspbesq @83

    No thanks man. I’m not wasting 3 hours making an essay for you just so you can ad-hominem me again. I have a life.

    However,

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/

    I agree with this guy.

    As I said, I already posted this before on another thread, and much more. I won’t do it again.

  106. 106
    ML says:

    Cole: You criticize/second guess his administration with the best of them, and all the time. But you never criticize Obama himself, by name.

    And you constantly bellyache about those who do.

    It’s very weird of you.

  107. 107
    Lurleen says:

    There are chicken hawks on the right and the left.

    Those supporting the invasion of Iraq but not the limited engagement in Libya.

    For those of us who almost lost their damn jobs over Iraq and the damage it has done, cry me a river over Libya. We are doing the right thing.

  108. 108
    OzoneR says:

    So, am I still supposed to call the White House and demand Harold Koh gets the next open SCOTUS seat?

    Not that’ll I get an answer

  109. 109
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    @NR:

    the president of the United States using the Constitution for toilet paper in pursuit of unlimited power to wage war.

    Don’t be so hard on Roosevelt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....1945-2.jpg

  110. 110
    d. john says:

    @OzoneR,

    He would fit right in with the likes of Thomas and Alito…
    (Okay so it was a bit mean to compare him to Thomas – I’m sure he is smarter and less dishonest than that sack of shit)

  111. 111

    My last word on this thread, hopefully. I have no problem with anyone opposing this action on principle, from the git go. What pisses me off is the picking around like fucking buzzards looking for morsels to bash Obama with the “illegal war” charge. And getting all up in arms because within his perogative, he didn’t take the OLC advice on the matter of the WPA. And using that to further claim “illegal” when Obama has operated legally within the world community that I thought was a liberal virtue.

    What I am saying is get honest, and just say you hate this fucking action, war, whatever you want to call it, and stop playing dime store lawyer in an area that has never been clear and has always been murky.

    We are operating as responsible member of the United Nations, to try and keep some people from getting slaughtered. And we, the US, is doing little of the actual fighting, as it should be as Libya is not part of our vital national interests. But I for one, think a dependable, and empowered UN is very much in our vital national interest.

  112. 112
    aisce says:

    that absurd post by Scarecrow in which we are “defied” to explain one difference between Obama and Romney

    you know, when silly bloggers complain that they aren’t taken seriously as a political force in this country, it’s statements like these that show why this isn’t such a bad thing after all.

    i’m sorry that a blog post by somebody named “scarecrow” got you so riled, john. were hillaryfan48, DarthCheney!, and teh_thrilla_from_wasilla all off that week?

  113. 113
    ChrisNYC says:

    So, now the charge is that Koh is a sell out or something? Geez. Can anyone have an opinion that isn’t approved by the left and not be charged with bad motives?

    Koh works for the State Dept. To the State Dept, this Libya thing is all about NATO, the US role in the world, Arab Spring, etc. Is it really that surprising that he’s taking a position that is uber international law/alliances/geopolitics? Sounds like he’s doing his job.

  114. 114
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    @ChrisNYC: Yup. There’s no consistency, no cohesive thought, just emotion and incoherence. Had OLC and Koh switched positions, the poutragers would be demanding to know why obama followed the OLC over the eminent Koh.

    they scream about the rule of law when it suits them, and then oppose it when it’s a law they don’t support like DOMA.

  115. 115
    d. john says:

    @Lurleen, 103

    Umm, no.

  116. 116
    NR says:

    Don’t be so hard on Roosevelt.

    And this has what exactly to do with the topic at hand?

    Oh well, I’m sure it makes sense to your four or five living brain cells.

  117. 117
    d. john says:

    @ChrisNYC

    I never said he was a sell-out.
    I said he was a hack.

    In order for me to consider him a sellout, I’d need to have wanted him to grind my ideological axe – and he wouldn’t be doing it – and I’d call him a sellout. That’s not what is going on here.

    Grinding an ideological axe is precisely what I’m accusing him of. It’s precisely what I do NOT want him to do. Since he seems to be twisting his legal argument into knots to fit Obama’s agenda he’s not a sell-out. He’s a hack.

    And you seem to have your position on this exactly ass-backward. I posit that it is me taking shit for not being an Obama apologist and following party purity.

    You accuse me of the same, and completely ignore the criticism of Koh, which at least in my case (if not everyone else who disagrees with him) is based around his shitty argument about bombing not being a hostile action.

    You’d know that if you read the thread.
    Instead of coming on here with your reactions already predetermined.

    you people make tired inside.

  118. 118
    d. john says:

    i meant, you people make ME tired inside. heh

  119. 119
    Xenos says:

    Well, I am not apologizing, even though I may very well be wrong. It is a close call, and it is a close call based on facts that are not available. Based on what is reported in the European media and al-Jazeera, the only ongoing role in the direct ‘hostilities’ in Libya is the drone strikes, and if those invoke the WPA than there is a lot more illegal war out there than just in Libya.

    I don’t mind being proven wrong, and having Obama proved wrong, because even though he is stretching executive authority to the fullest, he is doing so in an open, honest, and accountable way. There is no way to compare this to the dishonest and toxic actions of the W. administration.

    And that is what is most important here. The hive mind is way off base on the context of this dispute.

  120. 120
    Bobby Thomson says:

    The OLC is supposed to be somewhat independent (but then, so is the AG), and tends to get better lawyers, but “Supreme Court of the Executive Branch” is laying it on a bit thick.

    Regardless, anyone seriously making the argument that Koh = Yoo has exposed himself as an enormous dumbass. Remind me the last time Yoo sued foreign despots under the Alien Tort Claims Act. Or the last time Dean Koh advocated crushing a child’s testicles.

  121. 121
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    Damn, I stepped on some shit NR.

  122. 122
    d. john says:

    @Xenos,

    I agree with your first paragraph – and I believe there IS a lot of illegal war going on.

    Yeah droning is hostile.

    I disagree to a degree with your second paragraph.

    Obama’s actions *are* more transparent than Bush’s maybe, but that doesn’t mean they are right.

    I could argue that it’s brazenness, and not transparency.

    I could argue that Obama is Bush policy lite, at least specifically in this regard.

    And I do agree that we don’t have all the facts.

    But that won’t stop me from criticizing based on what I *do* know.

    when all the facts come out (if they ever do) I will stand corrected if I am wrong. I feel that I have enough information at this point to stick my neck out and say Obama and Koh are wrong, and that Koh particularly, is a hack.

    And you know, I don’t really need a smoking gun, or beyond all reasonable doubt, or even a preponderance of evidence to make that assertion. I’m not suing Obama, and I reneged and corrected MYSELF when I went too far and called it a crime. But I’m just criticizing him. Call me crazy if I think the burden doesn’t need to be as steep as it does in a courtroom.

  123. 123
    d. john says:

    My comparison was specifically about Yoo’s willingness to twist his arguments to fit a political agenda.

    I feel that Koh is doing precisely the same thing.

    I said that repeatedly. I thought that I had made that very clear.

    Your counter did not even address that comparison. It was a dodge. You tried to deflect and make it about lawsuits and children’s testicles, not hackery. I’m sorry if the fact that I alluded to the torture memos confused you. I was drawing an an analogy between the hackery of each argument. I wasn’t saying Koh was pro-torture. Somehow, that must have confused you. I’ll try to be more clear in the future.

  124. 124
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ Mike Kay:

    Had OLC and Koh switched positions, the poutragers would be demanding to know why obama followed the OLC over the eminent Koh.

    Remember when Matt Taibbi was all up in arms because Obama wasn’t listening to progressive voices among his economic advisers — progressives like Austan Goolsbee? That was awesome.

  125. 125
    patroclus says:

    I think the problem was that John took on dday with an inappropriately high amount of Thatcherite exuberance that was not leavened sufficiently by Oakeshottian skepticism.

  126. 126
    AnotherBruce says:

    What part of that is so fucking hard for you people to grasp.

    They call them “Bots” for a reason.

    I wonder if half the people here are feeling guilty about being Republicans during the Iraq invasion and like to deflect their guilt on what they consider to be the left, or progressives.

    The left has always been willing to criticize their own, maybe if you don’t like it, you should return to the warm confines of the Republican party.

  127. 127
    OzoneR says:

    So, now the charge is that Koh is a sell out or something?

    Actually, oddly enough, no. Not one true progressive has said anything about Koh being the one whose opinion he followed.

  128. 128
    d. john says:

    @125,

    This. x10

  129. 129
    d. john says:

    @stuck,

    “What I am saying is get honest, and just say you hate this fucking action, war, whatever you want to call it, and stop playing dime store lawyer in an area that has never been clear and has always been murky.”

    I must be a sick fuck, but I hate the war less than the ever growing ease with which each successive CinC can involve us in a war through their prerogative alone.

    That’s a recipe for perpetual war. That’s why it’s far worse than this war itself.

    If the single biggest pisser for me was the war itself, I’d say so Stuck.

    But that’s simply not the case.

  130. 130
    4jkb4ia says:

    Oh. jeebus. I stay away and open my mouth and put my foot in it. I swear I did not know that Saturday post existed earlier today.

    I think the first thing I said when I read the story was “Well, it would not have made any difference if Dawn Johnsen was there or not if he can just overrule her”. I did emphatically make a / in the air and say “Firebagger”. But that leapt out at me, and is of course the point. OLC gave candid legal advice, as they were supposed to do, and it was politicized by being ignored.

    I see you trying not to be a tool of this kind of internecine warfare, every day I am here.

    ETA : Yes, anyone except Mike Kay would have to be a masochist to actually read an FDL comment thread. But this one thanks to TarheelDem turned out halfway decent.

  131. 131
    d. john says:

    @OzoneR

    “Not one *true* progressive” (emphasis mine)

    Lulz…

    Do you happen to have an extra copy of The Protocols of The Elder Progressives? I seem to have misplaced mine.

  132. 132
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Let’s see. Libya and Iraq: dictators sitting on our (and our allies’) oil.

    Germany, 1941. Out to conquer the world.

    Yup, no differences there.

  133. 133
    OzoneR says:

    Let’s see. Libya and Iraq: dictators sitting on our (and our allies’) oil.

    um, Libyan oil was flowing freely before NATO got involved.

  134. 134
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OzoneR:

    Yeah, but the problem was, our allies were not sure it would continue to flow.

  135. 135
    d. john says:

    @Stuck, #35

    I missed this b4, but I’ll go ahead and answer it as – just for fun – I’m not speaking for DDay though:

    So what’s your position DDay? If Obama quits the drone bombing is he cool with you and the WPA requirements

    Yes, I think – based on the situation as I understand it.

    Failing that, Congress should exercise their power and vote on the war.

    Or even, if not going to Congress, and continuing to drone, if HE’d at least show some deference to the OLC because this is already more or less a back channel w/o congressional involvement, you’d think he’d want to at least defer to a well established way to get advice on the legality of the war, I *may* still have had issue with it, but not nearly as much, if he’d have at least taken the advice of the OLC.

    He didn’t do any of that, and so he’s attempting to stretch the traditional boundaries of executive power. Sure, he may not have broken the law, but how easy should it *really* be for the president to just make an executive decision to involve us in war.

    And the fact that he went with the Koh’s despicably strained (IMNSHO) interpretation of hostilities is just shameful, considering the politicization of legal affairs under Bush. We don’t need more of that kind of shit. It’s not good for this country. And he more or less campaigned on putting a stop to this kind of nonsense.

  136. 136
    alwhite says:

    I am constantly amazed at the level of vitriol people who claim to be on the same side can toss at each other with such ease. Most of the people who comment here (with a few very notable exceptions) want pretty much the same things out of government & the people who run it. Why are we wasting time deciding which of us is sufficiently loyal to, or angry at, BHO? Instead we should be beating up our congresscritters, working to get better ones when necessary & saving up the snark for the teabagging, half-wit morans the deserve it.
    It is entirely possible to be be bitterly disappointed at some of the things he has said & done without assuming that those who are want to destroy him. It is equally possible to think he is doing the best he can in the situations he has been dealt & yet not be a zombie that thinks he is perfect. I see arguments for both camps and the only problem I have is that they want to attack each other to no good end.

  137. 137
    4jkb4ia says:

    IANAL, but Balkin is, and is not a firebagger. Balkin even admitted in his post that the president can constitutionally override OLC. But Balkin’s point about restoring the institutional integrity of OLC is real, and broader than the war in Libya.
    I understand that OLC can act as the “Supreme Court” by resolving disputes between executive branch agencies.

  138. 138
    OzoneR says:

    Why are we wasting time deciding which of us is sufficiently loyal to, or angry at, BHO? Instead we should be beating up our congresscritters, working to get better ones when necessary

    Pretty sure they have absolutely no interest in that. It doesn’t serve their individualist anti-establishment persona.
    Everyone sucks, except the ones who don’t and should run, but once they win, if they win, they suck too.

  139. 139
    OzoneR says:

    our allies were not sure it would continue to flow.

    Because of the civil war? It’s rational to try to cut off a bloody civil war for a mutlitude of reasons, one of which we have a trading relationship with the country.

    Progressives seem to forget that Obama was brought kicking and screaming into agreeing with Libya and even then he did so only under the agreement the US has no leadership role. This wasn’t a decision he took lightly.

    And what’s hysterical is there was no discussion about WPA in the media back then.

  140. 140
    d. john says:

    @OzoneR, 137

    naturally you are higher minded than that.

  141. 141
    aisce says:

    @flipyrwhig, 122

    it’s funny because unemployment is at 9%!

    if anybody who posted in this thread still doesn’t think of themselves as a bitter, sad little person, self-awareness please.

  142. 142
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    People can whine and bitch about Obama all they want to, it really doesn’t matter a whit in the scheme of things. All I know is that until the Republican party regains some semblance of sanity, I’m voting for a Democrat for president. All this teeth-gnashing and rending of garments over anything Obama says or does won’t change that.

    Regarding this issue, I have to disagree with John and the FDL right/left money-making machine. I trust this president more than any nutcase that hangs out at FDL, that’s for damned sure. This is not a clear-cut issue yet they are making it out to be just that.

    IMO, you had it right the first time John. Oh well. When you are right, you are right. When you are wrong, you are right. When you are right, you are wrong but still come out right in the end.

    Win-win? ;)

  143. 143
    burnspbesq says:

    @d.john:

    Repetition doesn’t make your positions any better. It just makes them tiresome.

    Sanctimonious and omniscient. Are you sure you’re not Glenn Greenwald in disguise?

  144. 144
    d. john says:

    Progressives seem to forget that Obama was brought kicking and screaming into agreeing with Libya and even then he did so only under the agreement the US has no leadership role. This wasn’t a decision he took lightly.

    While I’m glad he supposedly didn’t enter war lightly – it shouldn’t be entered into lightly… That is ultimately beside the point, as far as I am concerned.

    My problem with this engagement, for like the 50 gazzilionth time now – is the PROCESS that Obama engaged in to justify executive authority to involve us in a war.

    My problem with it is that it further stretches the boundaries of executive power to declare war.

    My problem with it is that future presidents will do the same, and past presidents have too.

    My problem with it is that the logical conclusion of continuing this dynamic is perpetual and endless war.

    Christ on Toast, I get sick of repeating this.

    And what’s hysterical is there was no discussion about WPA in the media back then.

    There was barely a discussion of the Wisconsin rallies in the media – here anyway. You could find them on the BBC. What’s your point? If it’s about media corruption, I’ll agree, but that’s a topic for a different thread I think.

  145. 145
    ChrisNYC says:

    @ d john at 115

    I have no clue why you thought my comment was directed at you. I never mentioned Obama or you or gave you shit for anything. Back off.

    I have no idea in the world what you’re talking about when you talk about “my position.” I made two comments — both about FACTS. NOT OPINION. FACTS. You are very bizarrely reading in all kinds of nonsense into what I wrote but that’s for you to work out.

    Here’s my point, which I don’t imagine you’ll address the second time since you didn’t address it in your first tirade — Koh works for the State Dept. He’s supposed to advance the interests of the State Dept. Sounds like he did his job here.

  146. 146
    d. john says:

    @burnpesq,

    You essentially fucking asked me to repeat myself.
    back in #82.

    Now you bitch about it.

    here ya go
    http://maddox.xmission.com/crybaby.gif

    Sanctimonious and omniscient.?

    Really?

    Care to give an example. Quote plz…

  147. 147
    Xenos says:

    ’s particularly odd mistake for me in one sense, because I think Koh’s advice doesn’t even pass the laugh test. It’s a simply absurd stance- I bet these folks think the US and allies are engaged in “hostilities.”

    But that is not the test. The test is whether the US is engaged in ‘hostilities’. No court has sorted out whether a fact pattern like what we have not counts under the terms of the WPA. I look forward to that issue being sorted out, if Congress can be bothered.

    I have been wandering around looking for the pleadings for the lawsuit Boehner and Kucinich are filing. Has anything been filed? Bueller? Anyone? If Congress sits on its ass we will never know what exactly the law means. And that is Obama’s fault, how?

  148. 148
    AnotherBruce says:

    @140 Odie Hugh Manatee
    Well, I’m sure glad you made that distinction. And for the record I also trust this President more than the reincarnation of Genghis Khan and the present day incarnation of Ward Churchill. But maybe if you eventually want a choice better than Obama doesn’t suck! You should pay a bit of attention to what Linnaeus has to say @61.

    And really, the Republican party has sucked ever since Eisenhower was a lame duck. It’s not going to change anytime soon. We can’t change this repetitive crap unless we expect more out of ourselves and our leaders. Blind support is useless, politicians will always use you as an ATM if you let them. The only way to get them to change is to make them uncomfortable, or better yet, scare them.

  149. 149
    d. john says:

    @ChrisNYC,

    First of all, I made a huge mistake and for some reason it looks like I read your post @113, and the one at @114 together. For that I am sorry. I didn’t realize that.

    So the part about you accusing me of this and that?
    That was the guy at @114.

    Mea Culpa. Not sure how I managed that one =)

    “So, now the charge is that Koh is a sell out or something? “Geez. Can anyone have an opinion that isn’t approved by the left and not be charged with bad motives?”

    Well, I didn’t see anybody else referring to Koh as a sellout.

    And I’m very much attributing bad motives to Koh’s opinion. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

    So, I put 2 + 2 together and assumed I was at least one of the folks you were referring to in your post

    But you phrased your first sentence as a question: this:
    “So, now the charge is that Koh is a sell out or something?”

    And I addressed that.

    I don’t consider him to be a sell-out
    I don’t know if anyone does – that phrase doesn’t appear any on this thread, until you mentioned it.

    I consider him to be a hack. Not a sell-out

    I consider the two things to be different, if not actually mutually exclusive.

    So, that was directed to your post and intentional.

    The rest of it was misdirected – as I said it looks like I read the post right after yours as part of yours somehow, and I apologize for that.

  150. 150
    AnotherBruce says:

    Sorry I meant @142 Odie Hugh Manatee.

    Oh Reply button, when will Tunch release you from his vast stomach?

  151. 151

    I can quite well understand why Obama doesn’t go to Congress about Libya. Because there’s no way these hostilities would get a fair or just review, one based on actual US foreign policy interests or international obligations.
    Nope, the House and Senate Republicans would strut and wail and pontificate and try to hold Medicare hostage and finally they would vote against the war just to piss on Obama.
    And they might even win such a vote, thus shattering the NATO alliance and making America look craven and shameful throughout the Middle East.
    IOKIYAR.

  152. 152
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @AnotherBruce:

    You can call it blind support if you wish but when I have a choice between insane and somewhat sane for president, I’ll choose somewhat sane.

    The line about staying with a politician except if they are caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy? Right now Obama could have both in his bed, along with a horse, and I’d still vote for him. That’s what happens when your political system falls apart and you have no other choices.

    And no, not voting or throwing my vote away on a third-party that will never win the presidency isn’t an option. When it’s a choice between the party who wants to immediately drive us off a cliff and end it all or a party that is somehow still managing to stay on the road while veering all over the place and crashing into shit, I’ll vote to stay on the road a bit longer.

    Thanks though. :)

  153. 153
    pattonbt says:

    @ Lurleen at 107:

    So do I get double helpings of dessert for not supporting either action?

    Sanctimoniousness is not a very appealing trait.

  154. 154
    d. john says:

    @151,

    You are likely very correct, and maybe that’s why Obama went the route he did.

    But then he went one further and ignored the OLC opinions. Of course he doesn’t HAVE to follow them, but without Congressional approval, I’d at least have hoped he deferred to the OLC.

    Now that he hasn’t, I fear that future presidents will follow suit. Such is the nature of the office, I think. Digby and some others talk about this at greater length than I will here.

    Basically, there are very few obstacles left to prevent a president from just involving the US in war whenever the hell they want to.

    It’s not that this hasn’t been happening gradually anyway – it just that it doesn’t excuse Obama for continuing this expansion of executive power. To me, he’s clearly acting as decider in chief here, I was actually hoping this guy was going to rollback the incredible expansion of the power of the executive branch that happened under GW. Instead he appears to be continuing it’s expansion, esp WRT to declaring war.

  155. 155
    d. john says:

    @LongHairedWierdo,

    “I’ll say this: it’s entirely possible that this is what Obama wants; he might prefer cleanly drawn lines around use of military force.”

    Maybe. I hope it happens. I got sick of giving his 11d chess the benefit of the doubt awhile ago. Now I’ll believe it only after I see it.

    See “The public option”
    See “The bush tax cuts”
    See “even MOAR WAR! must…. feed… MIC… MOAR!!!”
    etc…

    I’ve got benefit of the doubt fatigue at this point.

    I still support the man. I’ll vote for him again in 2012.

    I like what he pushed through with DADT.
    I like that he believes in diplomacy. (mostly)
    I like how he handled GM, Chrysler et al.
    I like that he stayed AWAY from the Wisconsin labor protests.

    (I could go on, but you get the point)

    But now, I don’t believe things like you said until I see them happen. Because of the stuff I mentioned at the top of the post.

    It took about a year of him before I just couldn’t do it anymore… Now I have to see him do what he says he’s gonna do.

    I am still am glad we have Obama/Biden and not Grampa Wallnuts/Mooselini…

    But he needs to change course on some of the things his administration is doing, afaiac

  156. 156
    ABL says:

    for my part, i didn’t even catch that the links went to two different posts at FDL.

    so when i read your post, it seemed more directed at what is — evidently — scarecrow’s raving lunacy.

    i think that all of the bloggers at FDL, whether diarists or paid, are tainted by the 24/7 Obama criticism of the most prominent paid bloggers (and the most prominent MyFDL bloggers.)

    as such, i can’t take seriously anything that comes from FDL unless it comes from TBogg and since his page is a different color (tan instead of blue), his posts immediately stand out to me.

    i haven’t caught up on all this business, so i don’t have much to say substantively, but it sure would be nice to be able to have a good faith discussion about what’s going on. someone upthread (eemom maybe) said it’s an excruciatingly close call, as these sorts of legal quandries often are, and i’m immediately set on edge by glenn greenwald’s ZOMG! IT’S ILLLEAGLE hair-on-fire sanctimonious bullshit. if he would just dial that shit down to a respectable level, i suspect the dialogue in his comment section might actually be informative. but to write as if there is a simple answer — the war is illegal — is facile. so i can’t stomach any blog that quotes him extensively and says stuff like “greenwald is all over it.” yeah, he usually is, but he is often wrong, his analyses are incomplete, he ignores shit that doesn’t fit with the premise of a particular post, and doesn’t concede a point. anyone who writes about the law with as much certainty as he does is suspect, in my view.

    and as for jane — oy. she infuriates me. moreover, i don’t understand how it is cool with her fans/readers/whatever that her advertising network has GOP clients. that boggles my mind. she is plainly making money at the expense of democrats while pretending to be some progressive beacon. i always had a feeling it was bullshit, but to see it laid bare is stunning.

  157. 157
    ABL says:

    And no, not voting or throwing my vote away on a third-party that will never win the presidency isn’t an option. When it’s a choice between the party who wants to immediately drive us off a cliff and end it all or a party that is somehow still managing to stay on the road while veering all over the place and crashing into shit, I’ll vote to stay on the road a bit longer.

    nailed it. i get frustrated by the charge that pointing out that the alternative is worse is tantamount to fear-mongering and party loyalism.

    the current GOP is anti-science, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-education, anti-government, anti-union, anti-middle class, anti-lower class. the GOP has spent 30 years flushing this country down the toilet. how anyone could say “a palin presidency would move the country left” or “i’d rather lose a righteous battle than vote for obama” with a straight face is beyond me.

    actually, it’s not beyond me. i bet dollars to donuts that the people who say such things have the resources to ride out another 8 years of crazy. secure employment, ability to afford health insurance (or healthcare if uninsured), male, post-menopausal, not a person of colors.

    i have the resources. i do. i could up and move somewhere (probably NZ) in 30 days flat. would i? eh. but i could.

    but most people don’t have that option. those are the people who are going to be seriously fucked under 8 more years of Republican theocracy.

    meh.

    i don’t get it.

  158. 158
    pattonbt says:

    Putting my IANAL hat on I will punt regarding Libya and it’s legality. I think clever people on both sides can make an argument for or against and it will be decided in the courts or halls of congress. That said, I really want to see the Presidents war making powers undergo a thorough review and reigned in massively.

    For the last 70 years (or maybe longer, I am not an Historian either) it has become way too easy for the President to unilaterally enter into war. In addition, by giving the president more unilateral powers to act we have been diminishing what constitutes war. Now we talk about police actions, hostilities, humanitarian intervention, etc. when it is all the same thing. We are desensitizing our society to war so much so that we no longer think as hard as we should before entering into it as long as we do not call it war. Yet people die all the same and the long term consequences are almost always more painful than were ever imagined at the outset.

    I’m no pacifist and I am not a competent enough writer to boil down my beliefs to fit in less than a couple of poorly written pages of nonsense, but war should not be easy and I believe it has become so for the US (and against what the country was founded on).

    Now, as someone who votes straight D and likes the current president (with of course normal caveats any human should have with any politician and the fact that I knew ponies were never in the offing) it hurts me to say “well, if this is time for the review and curtailment, then so be it”. Sure, I believe such a review would hurt Obama politically, and a more hurt Obama means more window for the Insane Clown Posse to wrest control over the country, but curtailing war, if achievable, is worth the price. My opinion only.

  159. 159
    AnotherBruce says:

    When it’s a choice between the party who wants to immediately drive us off a cliff and end it all or a party that is somehow still managing to stay on the road while veering all over the place and crashing into shit, I’ll vote to stay on the road a bit longer.

    I think that we are agreeing on most points. But I think this analogy is bad. I’m more generous than you, I don’t think this President is crashing into shit, I think he’s grabbed the wheel and is trying to keep the other party from crashing into shit by being drunk on white populist rage.

    I guess that’s a valuable service that he’s providing, but at a certain point, that better happen pretty fucking soon, we have to expect more than accident prevention. We need some strong and sane policy and we need to quit enabling the drunks at the wheel. That’s not just Obama’s job, that is everybody’s responsibility. But I think sometimes Obama enables this shit. Why the fuck didn’t he kill (figuratively) a bankster or two when he could? Why did he in fact appoint them to his cabinet?

    Probably because he needed their money for his campaign financing. Can’t really blame him for this, but it’s intensely depressing.

  160. 160
    d. john says:

    @ABL 156,

    I read TBogg all the time, that’s why it smarts when people bash FDL. I guess my problem is I’ve NEVER paid attention to the rest of it unless linked there.

    Also I’ve been accused of being a “firebagger” more times than I can count – I tend to read “firebagger” as anyone to the left of the usual suspects over at Cesca’s blog. Maybe because I haave only ever visited FDL for TBogg..

    It’s funny you brought him up the way that you did.

    It also explains some of the confusion I’m having when I see people trash FDL and firebaggers… I’d think what’s so bad about TBogg?!

    heh.

    I’ve been a fan for awhile
    (No worries, I’m too lazy to stalk you – hah)

    It is always a pleasure to read you.

    Thank you so much for the many enjoyable and insightful essays. I always feel like I come away knowing a little more than I did going in. That’s probably why I scan B J first and foremost for any new content from you.

    Regards

  161. 161
    AnotherBruce says:

    I should point out, that one of the reasons that our current President’s hands are tied by the current realities of campaign finance is explained very simply. Conservatives for most of my 53 year old lifetime have taken the judiciary much more seriously than liberals have. Now that they have the courts they get to rule on the laws they like and don’t. Too fucking bad, but we need to get organized enough to oppose them and to pay attention to judicial elections.

    Citizens United was a long planned ruling by conservatives. The fact that liberals (and centrists) were surprised by it bespeaks of poor or non existent foresight or planning. Politics is always about money. Those who don’t plan for the future plan for failure.

  162. 162
    d. john says:

    @161.

    You make am interesting point. I’ve thought about it myself sort of but I thought your angle that it was planned has merit. Certainly, I think about judiciary stacking whenever justices are confirmed, but the overarching plan to stack the judiciary in order to implement Citizens United? – I never made that leap.

    It’s an interesting proposition to say the least, and a darkly sinister one, which appeals to my inner cynic. It’s also very plausible. *

    *(I run all of my political conspiracy theories against my “Would Hillary Clinton do it?” test ;) She’s a convenient barometer for me because she’s a liberal, but as ruthless and politically cynical as any GOP operative) hah. apologies to any pumas in the room. ;)

  163. 163
    d. john says:

    @ABL,

    “And no, not voting or throwing my vote away on a third-party that will never win the presidency isn’t an option. ”

    That isn’t a direct quote from you, but when you said nailed it, I’m not precisely sure who you were replying to at this point. Hey, it’s late – about to go to bed =)

    I would add a qualified disclaimer to that.

    IF you do not live in a swing state, you should be voting 3rd party – preferably a 3rd party with a bit of momentum, like Green. The reason is matching fed funds.

    For the record, I strongly disagreed with many of Nader’s positions but I voted for the man. Because I live in Washington state. Maybe we were red once sometime? Not that I can recall. We’re not Oregon =P I still rib my wife for voting for Nader because she lived in that swing-ish state, Oregon…heh

    If you live in a hopelessly red state, like SC (i think?) vote 3rd party. It’s not like casting your vote for D will change it from red to blue.

    Honestly, I’m not sure if Citizens United makes this irrelevant, but the key here is matching federal funds for a 3rd party, inclusion in debates etc…

    (this applies of course, only to the prez election)

    I wish more people would do this.
    If so we might actually get a better choice than just D v R…

  164. 164
    Sheesh says:

    So just a quick post drive-by.

    When I complain about “Rule of Law” wrt presidents it is in its opposition to “Rule of Kings” or “Rule of Men”. I.e., we don’t do whatever the fuck we want without consequences, we answer to the Law. This is a win-win, since a tyrant can’t just punish us for whatever he wants, but also our leaders can’t just do whatever they want without punishment.

    It’s about equal treatment.

    So, if it’s so vital to a president to act in an illegal way in order to “Protect America” (“my oath of office.” yadda yadda); he must be willing to be examined by Congress (to be impeached) and face the consequences.

    Bush should have said “it’s so vital that I spy on everyone to protect us that I had to break the law to fulfill my oath of office. Now I will accept impeachment and trial. I will accept the outcome of that trial.”

    Obama too has the opportunity to make the same argument to me any time. (That the situation is so dire that his actions must exceed the law, and that he will face the charges and judgement for those actions.)

    If a law is unjust you must break it, and you must be willing to take the punishment for breaking it. If it’s truly unjust, a judge will determine that. If the punishment prescribed for such a crime is unjust, a judge can decide that too! Everyone wins (i.e., you get arrested smoking pot in protest, and at court you’re found “guilty” of a legal law, but perhaps the punishment for such a crime is found unjust and the judge says ‘no fine, no jail’.

    No one is above the law, that’s the point of “rule of law”

  165. 165
    d. john says:

    And yes, as I’ve mentioned before – I broke my own rule and voted for obama in 2k8

    He was different in one important way.

    The man is black, and our country (and my state) is full of racist assholes. I didn’t want to risk a McCain victory over some stupid tribalism bullshit. And trust me, rich white liberals can be every bit as racist as your average card carrying dittohead. Arguably worse, in the way that “educated” racists can be worse than the ignorant asshole honky variety.

    So yeah – I guess it might be fair to say that (in a sense) that I voted for Obama because he was black. Otherwise I would have voted Green in 2k8.

    Apropos of nothing, ;) a great essay on white privilege, especially insightful I think, for white readers.
    I enjoyed it, I hope some of you find it as accessible and interesting as I did – at least those of you who haven’t read it already: http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

    Cheers and good night

  166. 166
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @ABL:

    This is the internet so when someone says that they are for or against something/someone while they are railing against or for that same something/someone, I tend to dismiss their declarations of ‘loyalty’ to that cause. With the insane right, the manic progressive left and the ratfuckers all trying to take Obama down in their various ways, it’s a mess out there.

    @AnotherBruce: “But I think sometimes Obama enables this shit.”

    Obama is our president, not our king. We like to talk about the presidency being the most powerful position in our country, but it’s not. It’s a temporary position and once he leaves it his ‘power’ is gone. You want shit done right? Then go after the other 500+ career politicians who are making a mess of this country. They’re the real problem. Problem for us is that they keep pointing at the president and the rest of the fools out there fall for it.

    But that’s what the career pols want. If everyone is busy attacking the president then they don’t have much time and energy left to attack the real problem; the career politicians. Replace those fuckers with some people who really want to solve problems and they will start to get solved. Until then, forget it. Things will go on as usual, as always.

    All I see now are people who want to waste time fighting over stupid shit that has little to do with the real problems we face. It’s divide and conquer in action and it works.

  167. 167
    OzoneR says:

    Why the fuck didn’t he kill (figuratively) a bankster or two when he could?

    Cause that wouldn’t have solved any problem except Americans’ desire for blood, and I wouldn’t put it passed the people to suddenly back the bankster.

  168. 168
    someguy says:

    Not all bad guys are Hitler

    True. But most Republicans are basically nazis at heart.

  169. 169
    chopper says:

    long thread, so i have nothing to add except “legally binding check“? seriously? how can you, on one hand, say the OLC’s job is to ‘advise’ the president, then later say that it’s a ‘legally binding check’ on presidential power?

    cole, you were right the first time. at least, you were more right than dday was.

  170. 170
    Ed Darrell says:

    And had Obama decided to inform Congress, or worse, ask for their assent, McCain and Boehner would have been all over the Sunday morning talk shows saying Obama was a reckless tyro who had endangered U.S. security and damaged the Constitution by evading the president’s prerogatives to act in time of crisis and duty to assist NATO in treaty obligations.

    Tempest, here’s your teapot. Simmer for no more than four minutes and move along to serious business.

  171. 171
    AAA Bonds says:

    I still don’t get this personal feeling some of y’all have where it’s like, “THE PRESIDENT IS UNDER SIEGE! OH LORD HELP THE PRESIDENT IN HIS TIME OF TRIAL AND NEED” as the President does things that are totally against your beliefs and interests.

    I understand y’all don’t want a Republican in the White House but that doesn’t mean running flak for this shitty, stupid war in Libya that Obama got us into.

    The Republicans can attack the war because the White House is waging it. It doesn’t make me a fan of the Republicans, but why would it make me a defender of the White House?

  172. 172
    MomSense says:

    Here is a legal opinion in line that I hope will help to clarify the issue.

    It is my opinion that the President does not need Congressional Authority in this matter.

    http://jurist.org/forum/2011/0.....powers.php

  173. 173
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    I know, it’s just the progressives (sob) and the CORPORATIONS . . .

    Wait, they took Beck off the air! Who the hell are you?!

  174. 174
    AAA Bonds says:

    The struggling and wriggling here is hilarious.

    “Whatever you do, don’t look at the people waging the war! The only way to stop the war is to attack its hypocritical critics while defending the war, which will double-secretly help end the war!”

  175. 175

    Wait, they took Beck off the air! Who the hell are you?!

    You’re the type of internet punk it’s a pleasure to flame.

  176. 176
    AAA Bonds says:

    The saddest thing is a normal American who tries to be a “pro-White House centrist”.

    The centrists in the White House are in the center all right: draw the country as a mountain and they’re at the top with all the other elites, up hanging around the ski lodge waiting to have coffee with Goldman Sachs.

    Aping their point of view is just sad, because their point of view is based on their access to power, personal wealth, and the interests that go along with it.

    Democratic Party “centrists” who make a middle-class salary (or really anything short of millionaire money) are about the same as working-class people who support Republican tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Trust me – I grew up in North Carolina.

  177. 177

    I grew up in North Carolina.

    From your juvenile comments in crayon, I seriously doubt you grew up in North Carolina, or anywhere else as of yet.

  178. 178
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Trust me – I grew up in North Carolina.

    No wonder I usually ignore you. Now I’ll go back to doing just that.

  179. 179
    AAA Bonds says:

    Ahh, I see: there’s one opinion of the President’s that you won’t defend, and that’s Obama’s belief in the absolute importance of North Carolina to the Democratic Party’s national future. Too bad! Otherwise y’all might get to work on rethinking those trade deals (I mean, they’ve fucked us all, but N.C. is one of those places where you can say it out loud, even when you’re rich!)

    On the war in Libya, what can I say that Eugene Robinson hasn’t already?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  180. 180
    AAA Bonds says:

    Anyone wanna throw out that the White House has access to hyper-sensitive NatSec intel we can’t even dream about that puts internal foreign policy decisions above and beyond public review?

    No? What happened to that narrative from yesterday? A little 2003 for y’all?

    How about this: it doesn’t matter if we’ve been lied to about the reasons for going to war – because Gaddafi is a brutal dictator whose presence threatens us all.

    Wait, no, I knew that sounded familiar . . . damn it!

    Well, anyway, if we use a light, quick force we should be in and out in no time, especially after Gaddafi goes and we’re greeted as liberators. Men, prepare to receive flowers!

  181. 181

    Robinson’s piece fails to mention at all the role we are playing within the UN and it’s actions concerning Libya. Until he addresses that, as well as anyone else writing a serious piece on what is happening and our involvement in Libya, then it isn’t a worthy read to consider.

    The village herd instinct is strong, and gets to about all those who reside in it, and sometimes reaches down into the world of bloggers as well. It’s easier to jump aboard a protest bandwagon, especially after Iraq.

  182. 182
    Trurl says:

    even though he is stretching executive authority to the fullest, he is doing so in an open, honest, and accountable way

    This may be the single funniest thing I’ve ever read on the Internet.

  183. 183
    taylormattd says:

    @General Stuck – 111

    What I am saying is get honest, and just say you hate this fucking action, war, whatever you want to call it, and stop playing dime store lawyer in an area that has never been clear and has always been murky . . . We are operating as responsible member of the United Nations, to try and keep some people from getting slaughtered. And we, the US, is doing little of the actual fighting, as it should be as Libya is not part of our vital national interests. But I for one, think a dependable, and empowered UN is very much in our vital national interest.

    Thank you. I agree with this totally. And I realize it is why I have responded more positively to John’s posts lamenting the human toll of such campaigns, than any of the ILLEGALWARIMPEACHNAO screaming.

  184. 184
    ABL says:

    Thanks, d.John! I will check out that link.

    I like what you said about strategic voting third party. I really think anyone serious about a third (or fourth, now that we have the lovelies in the Tea Party) needs to read up on the Tea Party’s ascension to power. It was organized and ran like a well-oiled machine. They started local and built their way up. How many years has the Green Party had to make something of itself and still it has not done so? Same with the Libertarians? Both try to go top down. It doesn’t and won’t work that way. To push through an agenda, you need third party Congress critters. To get those, you have to stuff local and municipal seats with members of your preferred party. And you need to convince your friends and neighbors that your party is the way to go. While doing that , you vote straight Dem or Rep or whatever party more closely matches your party’s platform. It’s a long process. Lefties seem to have short attention spans.

  185. 185
    ABL says:

    Robinson’s piece fails to mention at all the role we are playing within the UN and it’s actions concerning Libya. Until he addresses that, as well as anyone else writing a serious piece on what is happening and our involvement in Libya, then it isn’t a worthy read to consider.

    Ding!

    Exactly. I keep saying we are having the wrong friggin debate. It’s the UN, stupid!

    What role do we want the UN to play in the US’s ability to make war and how does the UN treaty dovetail with WPA and the Constitution? Somebody wake me up when that debate starts. Until then, the “It’s Illlllleeagle” crap doesn’t sit will with me.

  186. 186
    Deb T says:

    John, you ARE the best. Thanks for your sanity.

  187. 187
    MomSense says:

    @ABL
    The piece I linked to above is about exactly the issue you raise. It deals with the treatment of treaties and the UN Charter in the WPA.

    I’ll post the link again here. “War Powers and Executive Authority in the Libya Conflict”

    http://jurist.org/forum/2011/0.....powers.php

  188. 188
    ABL says:

    @MomSense – Thanks for that link.

  189. 189
    sparky says:

    ah, another amusingly sad thread. amusing to watch the contortions; sad when one considers that the contortions are to avoid criticism of the act of entering an armed conflict.

    and at the risk of sounding like a sycophant i applaud the owner’s ability to admit error.

    i don’t watch TV news so i find i don’t get aggravated by it. just sayin’.

  190. 190
    sparky says:

    I realize that not all bad guys are Hitler, and not every bad Obama decision makes him worse than Bush. Or even comparable.

    even i can agree with that sentiment. the trick, i think, is to formulate an opinion about an administration on the basis of the major decisions, not the minor ones. it seems to me that people seem to make this decision for the most part on the basis of the minor ones. to some extent this is understandable as the “minor issue” isn’t minor if it affects one directly. nonetheless, it would be a positive step if the electorate (or blogtown) could base judgments on major rather than minor (shiny) policy matters.

    thus, for example, my formulation: while the Obama administration has done some positive things on the margins, it has for the most part kept most of the Bush policies where they “matter” i.e., where the people with real power want them to remain. by this i mean the financial and institutionalized war sectors, and to a lesser extent, the health care sector. in the overall thrust of the direction of the US, then, there is no difference in regimes. does this mean they are identical? no, for a variety of reasons. but, i maintain, once the marginal (that is, those areas that affect segments but not all the population) are put to one side, the overall direction is more similar than dissimilar.

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