Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Bedbugs and Bread Bags
Sometimes I think us East Coasters are a little sort-changed when it comes to the SOTU speech and the rebuttals—it’s late by the time all the coverage is done. I have to get up for my paying gig the next day, and I usually have to get to bed before I’ve been able to properly ruminate on the President’s speech, let alone the rebuttal. Especially not if there are five rebuttals.
What is a blogger to make of five rebuttals from the opposition party? Given that there’s an “official” GOP response, I have to guess that the “takes” from different “rebuttals” have to be taken individually, on their own merits, and not view them cumulatively. I mean—would that be fair—five against one? (Well, yeah. I did think Obama did a heckuva job. Easily worth about five of those other speeches.)
See, I’m not what you’d call a pro, like Ron “No ‘I’ in Leadership, well, except that one” Fournier. And the benefit of blogging for seven years is that my regulars pretty much know where I stand on the major points President Obama brought up (raising the minimum wage—for it, equal pay for women—for it, addressing climate change—for it, land wars in the middle east—against’em), so I just feel like a point by point of the SOTU itself is pointless. In general, he looked more at home giving the speech this year and his zinger about winning two elections himself took some of that expectation that Dems losing the midterms overall would leave him “checked out” and lame-ducking it until January 2017 away. He’s still “all in” as far as I can tell. But that’s just my opinion.
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Posted by Vixen Strangely on 01/21/15 at 09:23 PM
Comments (4) •
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Coburn Predicts Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Over Weekend
The Senate’s redoubtable Dr. No, aka Tom Coburn (R-Planet Xanax), took himself off to USA Today’s Capitol Download to warn his fellow Americans that President Obama’s planned executive action on immigration will not only set Republican hair afire but could very well bring down the Republic, to boot:
The country’s going to go nuts, because they’re going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it’s going to be a very serious situation. You’re going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence.
And none of us really want that, do we?
Coburn accuses Obama of acting like “an autocratic leader that’s going to disregard what the Constitution says and make law anyway.” He says changes in immigration policy require passage by Congress, not just the president’s signature.
Well, not really, but nobody seriously expects a US senator to know all of the ins and outs of our legal system, do we?
“Instead of having the rule of law handling in our country today, now we’re starting to have the rule of rulers, and that’s the total antithesis of what this country was founded on,”
Cassius Coburn says. “Here’s how people think: Well, if the law doesn’t apply to the president ... then why should it apply to me?”
Evidently Coburn anticipates citizen activists teaching a lawless president a lesson by acting out lawlessly . . . ??
Of course, Coburn’s prediction is solidly rooted in historical precedent . . . the memories of blood in the streets, rioting and insurrection following President Reagan‘s imperious executive over-reach on immigration, as well as the constitutional crisis precipitated by George W Bush‘s immigration-reform-by-fiat are still fresh in the wounded psyche of liberty-loving Americans.
As Coburn seems to know, nothing else—not poverty, injustice, inequality—sets off American civic indignation like perceived encroachment on the legislative branch by the executive. God knows Congress has done everything in its considerable power to advance immigration reform via standard practice. Testimony to that are the stacks of comprehensive immigration reform bills brought by Congress to the president’s desk, over the last few years, only to be subjected to the “terrible, swift sword” of Obama’s veto pen.
I know that Republicans really, really hate being outsmarted by this uppity, unAmerican president that was somehow elected, then inexplicably re-elected despite all of the built-in societal safeguards to prevent such an unlikely event but, seriously, folks? you’re needlessly embarrassing yourselves before you even get a crack at demonstrating your mad governance skills.
Maybe you all ought to contemplate Dr Coburn’s “if I ruled the world” advice to the President and, if the shoe fits . . .
If I were in his office, I’d say, if you want to have a successful second term, dig down, swallow your pride, get what you can get, compromise on everything you can for the best interests of the country. Bring us back together.
Meanwhile, my plan for weathering the dark and stormy aftermath of executive apocalypse? I think, I’ll let a smile be my umbrella and trust to the paralyzing indifference that the vast majority of Americans feel toward the cacophonous background noise of American political theater.
That, and college football, should effectively stem the revolution.
Posted by Bette Noir on 11/20/14 at 12:21 PM
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Food Fight In The Old Family Dining Room
Anxious to hit the ground running with the newly-elected 114th Congress, President Obama invited leaders from both houses to join him in the White House’ Old Family Dining Room for a post-election lunch of herb-crusted sea bass and endive salad served up on the Truman china.
The idea, I’m sure, was to map out some common ground between the executive and legislative branches, moving into the final two years of Obama’s term, in the hope of getting something—anything, actually—done by 2016.
The gathering opened with some public comments, by Obama, on the importance of cooperation and breaking the partisan gridlock that has effectively hog-tied his administration. The president stated that he would be open to ideas from both sides of the aisle with the caveat that he would judge ideas based on whether they are likely to work or not.
Obama cited three measures—emergency funds to fight Ebola, approval of a federal budget, and appropriations to increase troops in Iraq—that he believes he and Congress could work on, together, before the end of the year.
Once the press was dismissed, however, the tone changed according to the usual anonymous leaks by the usual anonymous aides.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 11/09/14 at 06:59 AM
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Speaker Boehner Bags A Bargain
Well, the suspense is over, fellow Americans. Speaker Boehner has found a lawyer to present his case against President Barack Obama and, you’ll be happy to hear—since we are all footing the bill—he’s found us a great conservative lawyer, writer and all-purpose Republican operative, at a very reasonable cost.
The lawyer is David B Rivkin (not to be confused with David W. Rivkin, a younger more Liberal model). David B is a Russian emigre who earned his JD at Columbia Law School and proceeded to hold a variety of legal and policy positions during the GOP Golden Age of the Reagan and Poppy Bush eras.
Rivkin is a frequent participant in Congressional hearings and spends quite a bit of time enlightening the public about law and government policy via cable TV and conservative radio programs (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX News, NPR, PBS, The Laura Ingraham Show, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, to name a few).
Rivkin also writes frequently, appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Times, the Heritage Foundation, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
As a matter of fact, it was an article in Politico Magazine, written by David B Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley, that gave Speaker Boehner the bright idea to sue the President. The article outlined a plan specifically for suing Obama for not rolling out Obamacare quickly enough.
The biggest hurdle, of course, for anyone wishing to sue POTUS (or anyone else, for that matter) is the “standing” doctrine which requires that plaintiffs convincingly demonstrate that they have been injured in some way by the actions of the person they are suing. Rivkin and Foley recognize that could be a hurdle but they think they’ve figured out a way around it.
Unfortunately, as Ian Milhiser pointed out, shortly afterward in Think Progress, Rivkin and Foley’s legal theory of establishing standing depends on “an objectively false reading” of United States v. Windsor which so recently struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Here’s what Milhiser has to say about that:
Rivkin and Foley claim that, in Windsor, the Supreme Court held that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), a five member body of the House of Representatives currently controlled by Republicans, “had standing to defend DOMA for several reasons.” According to Rivkin and Foley, this precedent supports their claim that Boehner’s lawsuit should also be allowed to move forward so long as the BLAG joins the suit as a plaintiff.
But this reading of Windsor is objectively false. Windsor held that “the United States retains a stake sufficient to support Article III jurisdiction on appeal and in proceedings before this Court” — thus it was the Obama Administration, not BLAG, who had standing to seek Supreme Court review of DOMA. Indeed, Windsor explicitly states that “the Court need not decide whether BLAG would have standing to challenge the District Court’s ruling and its affirmance in the Court of Appeals on BLAG’s own authority.” Thus, a major prong of Rivkin and Foley’s legal argument rests on an egregious misreading of a famous Supreme Court case.
On the other hand, Speaker Boehner is getting the services of Rivkin and Foley at a discount—$500/hr as opposed to the $520/hr that Paul Clement was charging House Republicans to defend DOMA after DoJ opted out.
So far, the House has set a cap of $350,000 to secure Rivkin’s services but then Clement’s bill was originally capped at $500,000 and the total payoff was five times larger—coming in at a cool $2.3 million. But hey, who can put a price on the peace of mind it will bring American taxpayers to sue the president?
Whatever Attorney Rivkin is paid for this case he has a snowball’s chance of winning it. Especially if it comes down to “forum shopping” for a judge that is willing to look like a) an easy touch and/or b) willing to perpetuate a pretty egregious misreading of existing law.
But, if any of you have legal problems? you might want to forward the details to Rivkin & Foley. As long as they are on the Peoples’ Payroll . . .
Posted by Bette Noir on 08/27/14 at 01:22 PM
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Doocy High Fives The Taliban
Update: edited this post to remove false equivalency relating Doocy’s words with treason. H/T to commenters @Funkula and @Stentor for helping me find my way back to a more rational position.
Fox and Friends achieved a record-setting industry low, recently, for overall execrable bad taste and gross politicization in the cable news category, with a totally awesome combined score of -500.
Steve Doocy, wearing his full-metal consternation look, ruled the death of Major General Harold Greene a “huge touchdown for the Taliban.”
I’m sure that the Taliban was very happy to receive that unsolicited endorsement on American national television.
See, what the Taliban doesn’t quite get about the Republican party and its minions is that this is a zero-sum game to them. If something, even something tragic, occurs that can conceivably be spun to reflect negatively on President Obama, all sense of propriety, civility or intellectual integrity fly out the window, and the tragic event is transformed into an occasion for glee. Think Roman Colosseum . . .
And that’s right where Fox and Friends took it:
Co-host Peter Johnson, Jr. connected the general’s death to an NBC poll that found 54 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Obama was doing his job.
Doocy added that the poll also found that 71 percent of Americans felt that the nation was on the wrong track.
“And does this terrible tragedy yesterday prove that?” co-host Anna Kooiman suggested.
So Taliban, do a little end-zone dance and thank Allah for treasonous Americans who are more than happy to advance your cause and give you a big American pat on the back for helping them hate on their president.
In closing, I’d just like to say to Steve Doocy, I happen to be one of the 71 percent of Americans who feel that the nation is on the wrong track. But that has nothing to do with Obama, you blockhead.
Posted by Bette Noir on 08/07/14 at 06:34 AM
Friday, August 01, 2014
What Happens To A DREAMER Deterred?
Does he get swept up
like a felon a-roam?
Or hide as if on the lam—
in his home?
Does this bill go down
in a Senate defeat
or should a Presidential veto
stomp it complete?
And what should voters
make of this load—
Could this party implode?
Never mind my doggerel, as I pause to consider that the House leadership handed over the reins to people who say things like “I hang out with border patrol agents clandestinely”, and kids are loaded up with birth control pills before being set out on “rape paths”, and that migrants with “calves like cantaloupes” schlep backpacks with 75 lbs of marijuana over the border. (Which I still say is an amazing weight loss boot camp concept, no? Seriously, I think Rep. Steve King has never watched a Cheech and Chong movie if he thinks this is how “grass” gets up here.) So of course, they voted to end the work permits of over a half-million jobs-having undocumented young people who have basically not known any other country, and are in fact not in any way tied to the current border crisis (leaving them to be potentially deported to countries with which they have no ties), stepped up to pay for National Guard deployments—which is just going to corral, not contain, more young migrant folks who will just be put in the system, and brushed away the compassionate option to detain the youngsters until a hearing could be held to determine a possible refugee or asylum status—which does not at all address the plight these youths are fleeing, and sends them back into possible “rape paths” and into the hands of drug cartels.
So, uh, nice going GOP reps, you have some kind of thing to go back to the constituents that voted you in with? And oh darn, you think you will have Harry Reid to blame for this bill getting shot down once the Senate comes back, and not Ted Cruz?
I don’t think that’s how things really stand, at all. Because in one breath, yesterday, there was a little inhalation of “The President will have to act unilaterally because we can’t get our shit together”. And today, the exhalation is: “The President will still have to act unilaterally, because this is the nonsense we come up with when we do get our shit together”.
Guess what? Both options are not helping. Our tax money is paying for the GOP House to be less than useless, and sue Obama for doing things on his own, and then a taxpayer-funded Representative like Michele Mouth-Breathing Bachmann talks about putting a handcuff on one of his hands. While all this election-year floundering is basically called “leaving it up to the President to fix it and take blame”?
You know, some people might think this is transparently bullshit. But I suspect sadly enough that it still isn’t transparent enough for regular voting people. This was a purely political and useless vote, and it will be loved by somebody(ies), nonetheless.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 08/01/14 at 10:39 PM
Friday, July 25, 2014
House Republican Caucus: The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight
Well, Speaker Boehner Sues the President is officially a thing now. The House Rules Committee, the gatekeeper for legislation and resolutions to get to a floor vote, ruled yesterday, along partisan lines, to allow it. Personally, I’m all for it because, lately, the GOP’s flair for far-fetched, stagy political tactics is the “gift that keeps on giving” for Democratic fund-raising.
And House Democrats certainly made the most of the amendment process, yesterday, to press that advantage. Nobody covered that quite as well as Rachel Maddow and David Corn, last night . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/25/14 at 12:36 PM
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
BAMF Commander Perry Deploys Texas National Guard To Scare Children Away
Texas Governor Rick Perry, feeling especially presidential after a weekend trip to his new favorite destination—Iowa—came out swinging on Monday, determined to show our current lawless, weak tyrant of a president a thing or two about manly decisiveness and leadership.
Perry told Republicans in Iowa . . . “if the federal government won’t secure the border, Texas will.”
Forthwith, Perry ordered the Texas National Guard to round up 1,000 of its scariest troops to go play boogeyman on the border.
Since President Obama, himself, declined to send the troops on such a misguided mission . . .
President Obama maintains that the child-migrant crisis is not a border enforcement issue, hence he has rejected calls from Republicans – and the Texas governor – to send National Guard troops south. Children are turning themselves in to the border patrol, not running away from them, administration officials emphasize, though they allow that the border patrol is working overtime and has its hands full.
. . . Perry took matters into his own hands but warned Obama that he will be sending him the $15 million/month bill.
On the other hand, Perry’s office explained to edgy Texas legislators that, for the time being:
. . . the money will come from “non critical” areas, such as health care or transportation.
Non-critical if you’re not sick, I guess.
Gov Perry seems confident that his bold move to secure Fortress America will be met with nationwide popular support and will definitely polish his presidential timber.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/22/14 at 01:22 PM
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Ron Fournier Surveys Disenchanted Democrats
Ron Fournier knows more disenchanted Democrats than anyone I know. He trips over them in airports, and finds them in malls, ice cream shops and dumpsters, wherever he wanders. He’s like a sniffer dog for Democratic disenchantment. Not to mention that, uncanny as it seems, the ones that he finds? always happen to fluff-up Mr Fournier’s own arguments most eloquently.
His most recent sighting is, of course, no exception. Fournier happened to be vacationing in Michigan where he had the opportunity to observe the Disenchanted Democrat, in it’s natural habitat, just outside Detroit. Fournier came away from that encounter with the profound insight that President Obama is much too self-centered.
An insight that Mr Fournier has shared with the rest of us under the inspired title: Mr. ‘I, Me, My’: Obama Oughta Know He’s Not the Hero. Struggling Americans are the “real” heroes as we learn in the subtitle: A successful White House crafts its narrative around the struggles of Americans, not the president.
I’m not sure what Fournier considers the benchmark for successful White House narratives but, to hear him tell it, I have to assume that Mr Fournier, by his own secret gauge, does not feel that the White House measures up. He’s not alone in that assessment, of course, but I’m not convinced that semantics are at the heart of the matter.
Fournier seems to believe that Americans are pretty miserable in this fifth year of Obama and that they might feel a lot better if the White House sounded more “successful,” instead of:
What do these folks hear from the White House and the rest of Washington? Whining, mostly. Obama and his GOP rivals can’t seem to tell the story of America without casting themselves as the protagonists.
[Fournier is one of the media’s most obsessive and accomplished practitioners of “both sides do it,” usually dressed with a sly dollop of false equivalence. You’ll soon see what I mean . . .]
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/16/14 at 03:42 PM
Monday, July 07, 2014
House of Representatives: Special Victims Unit
What today’s GOP lacks in strategic success it more than makes up for with chutzpah and an apparent imperviousness to embarrassment.
Allow me to explain . . .
Make Obama a one-term president. FAIL
Repeal Obamacare. FAIL
Rehab the GOP for future electoral success. FAIL
Create JOBS!JOBS!JOBS! FAIL
Sabotage economic recovery. FAIL
Maintain Perma-War status. FAIL
Prove that the White House covered up its role in Benghazi. FAIL
Prove that the White House unfairly targeted conservatives via IRS. FAIL
Defend DOMA and prevent Marriage Equality. FAIL
See what I mean? These people are like the Eveready Bunnies of headbanging.
Their latest cry for attention is to sue the president for going about the business of presidenting in the hope that some justice-challenged judge will try to send President Obama to time-out . . . or something.
Right before the July 4th break, Speaker Boehner announced this fiendishly clever plan so that representatives of the fringier fringe could go home without being pelted with rotten tomatoes by the IMPEACH!!!OBUMMER!! faction. You see, unfortunately, far too many clueless “Washington outsiders” were sent to the Capitol, in 2010, based on wild-eyed promises to repeal Obamacare and/or impeach the president for assorted crimes against TEA Party sensibilities.
Now the natives are getting restless and wondering what the hell is taking so loooooong? USA?
So it is that the GOP is feeding this new Impeachment Lite meme to distract the hordes from their now maggoty dead horse issues—OBAMACARE! IRS! BENGHAZI!—which will soon have to be buried for public health reasons.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/07/14 at 10:09 AM
Saturday, July 05, 2014
Immigration - Texas Two-Step Style
Normally, Texas governor “Crotch” Perry doesn’t venture too far off the reservation. Texans apparently “get him,” the rest of us, not so much. But this week his buddies on the House Homeland Security Committee transported themselves to Texas for something they call a “field hearing” titled “Crisis on the Texas Border: Surge of Unaccompanied Minors.”
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families recently announced that the U.S. had apprehended 24,668 unattended youths at the border in fiscal 2013, and officials expect the annual number to reach nearly 60,000 by the end of 2014.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said this week that more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, with nearly two-thirds of them traveling through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
The discussion comes days after Obama signaled he has lost all hope of Congress overhauling the nation’s immigration laws this year. He announced Monday that he will redirect more resources to the border for enforcement efforts, adding that he would use executive actions to “fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”
The governor, of course, was invited to testify during this “field hearing” and plunged right into the deep end without his swimmies.
Currently Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is leading the government’s response to the influx of unattended children, with housing, medical treatment, transportation and other forms of assistance.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/05/14 at 10:54 AM
Friday, July 04, 2014
Mittmentum or Tilting At Oval Offices
My dream, for this Independence Day 2014, is a dream of sweet freedom from the Republican Party in its current psychopathic incarnation. And, for once, it looks like maybe dreams do come true!
Anyone who doubts that the 21st Century GOP is lumbering inexorably toward the tarpits of history should go, posthaste, to DraftMitt.org and savor the sweet reek of FAIL.
In an era of frantic Republican rejiggering, nothing quite says political desperation like the notion of trotting out Willard M Romney’s empty suit for yet another rackety run at the Oval Office. To me, this move says more about the dearth of talent in the Republican party and its donors’ apparent reluctance to throw good money after bad, than it does about any flimsy case that could be made regarding Mr Romney’s presidential qualifications.
One month after it’s debut, DraftMitt.org has racked up just under 29K supporters—short of a groundswell, as they say in politics. So far, no one is actually taking credit for this swell idea. The website prominently displays a disclaimer that Romney has not bankrolled it—actually it’s such a nondescript little canned site that my paperboy could have funded it. There are no RNC or other traces of GOP branding, just Mitt and Ronnie Reagan playing bookends.
Also, too, there’s the banner link using the 2012 campaign coinage retread “Mittmentum.” Ask Karl Rove about “mittmentum.” At any rate, that link takes us to the now notorious Washington Times poll that proves, at least in the echo chamber, that: “Hands down, Obama is the worst president since WWII” and that most Americans now regret not having voted for Romney in 2012.
Really? who recycles embarrassing reminders of a failed attempt? Even #DraftMitt is a recycled Twitter tag that takes one to a 2013 page tagged with “Because MA needs Mitt Romney in the Senate” with 3 tweets and 10 followers.
I could be wrong but I’m starting to get a sense of Tagg Romney, Campaign Manager, behind the scenes, here.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/04/14 at 10:31 AM
Thursday, June 05, 2014
Bergdahl Homecoming Includes Complimentary Reservations On A Swiftboat To Hell
(h/t Illustration by the very talented Mario Piperini)
In that noblest of American judicial traditions “guilty until proven innocent,” a handful of politicians and their fan clubs, with the aid of a few Republican strategists, have determined that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of desertion, treason, and not being an American superhero. Should he have the temerity to return to his hometown, everyone there has decided to not smile, wave or say “Hey!” because some of the rush-to-judgment mob have said mean things to them on Facebook and the Twitter.
I don’t know anything about Bowe Bergdahl aside from the fact that he voluntarily put on an American uniform when his country needed him. Which means I know as much as 99.9% of the people who are calling for his head on a stick. And, if, in the end, it turns out that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl did anything demonstrably dishonorable, we have laws to deal with that. Just as we had laws to get him home.
On the other hand, Sen Lindsay Graham has put Bergdahl’s Commander-in-Chief on notice that if he lets one more Gitmo prisoner loose without Congress’ blessing, a Congressional hissy fit to beat all Congressional hissy fits will ensue. Happily, no more men are left behind so that should save us at least one histrionic impeachment pitch.
Congress, not usually aficionados of international law on a good day, don’t seem to have realized yet that ending hostilities in Afghanistan will require future transfers of prisoners on a timeline not necessarily of their own making. And, judging by recent statements, they are also probably a little fuzzy on the legal niceties of imprisonment in Guantanamo.
See Guantanamo houses two separate types of prisoners: there are prisoners of war and alleged terrorist criminals. And, despite the Bush administration’s rather cavalier attitude toward international law and their one-size-fits-all approach to imprisonment and due process, there are actually differences in the legal dispositions of each type of prisoner.
The five Taliban who were traded for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl were prisoners of war. They may, indeed, have done terrible things as soldiers but, soldiers do terrible things—that’s War. Nevertheless, prisoners of war were, indeed, the apropriate choices for a prisoner swap.
And, if this administration, or any other, cares to observe international law regarding prisoners of war more such people will be leaving Guantanamo in the very near future, at the official cessation of hostilities. Should Congress decide that they don’t like that and try to obstruct that traditional process a very dangerous new precedent would be set that would imperil any American soldier captured in combat in the future. If the US doesn’t play by the rules, why should anyone else release our prisoners-of-war?
For all of those reasons and, I’m sure, a few more, President Obama attached a signing statement to last year’s defense bill that contained Congress’ most recent obstruction to closing Guantanamo - the 30 day notice amendment—that makes no sense and interferes with constitutional executive powers of the President and Commander-in-Chief. And the President said so.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 06/05/14 at 11:47 AM
Sunday, June 01, 2014
Leave No Man Behind
Nothing makes Republicans madder than President Obama doing his job and succeeding. They’ve spent the last few weeks blowing up pseudo-scandals, like Macy’s parade balloons, that they hope to keep inflated through the summer.
Poor old Prosecutor Gowdy is still arm-wrestling with Judge Issa over witnesses and trying to get his “show horses” to finish reading Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies before the big trial.
And BOOM! along comes Obama saying I’ll see your Benghazi Special Investigation, your IRS and VA scandals and raise you a high-profile Imperial Presidency prisoner swap.
There! you want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about.
But they’ll have to be smart to put points on the board with this one because no one really wants to hear any whining about a soldier’s homecoming . . . they’re not smart, though, are they?
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. They said Obama also is required to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate armed-services committees cautioned that “we must carefully examine the means by which we secured [Bergdahl’s] freedom,” warning that the U.S. had effectively reneged on its policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
Which is a curious statement since the US has not designated the Taliban a terrorist organization. But, by now, we should be used to our Congresspersons playing fast and loose with facts.
In addition, how is it that a Congress that has been one of the most shamefully ineffectual, abysmal flops in the history of American governance can get all snippy about being sidelined when something real needs to happen? If these people had to operate for one week in their beloved free market they’d be toast. All of them.
Perhaps, if Congress hadn’t been so anxious to stymie the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo and had been more inclined to provide those Gitmo prisoners with anything like due process they wouldn’t have still been been moldering away there to use in a swap.
And, about that 30 day notification law? It was attached to last year’s defense bill to prevent Obama from moving on Guantanamo closure. When he signed that defense bill last year, Obama said that “other provisions of the bill on military programs were too important to jeopardize” by vetoing it outright. Instead, Obama signed the defense bill but also issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
And he did. Imagine that, a politician who means what he says.
The White House said it moved as quickly as possible given the opportunity that arose to secure Bergdahl’s release. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress “due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life.”
The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.
Especially since the alternative was to go hat-in-hand to the same Congress that already shut down Bergdahl’s release once, in 2012.
As Raw Story reports:
In addition to using congressional oversight, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman was told by Republican leadership that negotiating an exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl that involved detainees from Guantanamo Bay would be the president’s “Willie Horton moment.”
Does it get any more cynical than that?
Of course, Obama’s action in this case is not without precedent. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan faced a similar dilemma - seven Americans held hostage by Iranians in Lebanon. Ronald Reagan felt that, as president, “he had the duty to bring those Americans home.” He decided that giving Iran 1500 missiles was a fair trade. I’d say Obama did a much better deal trading five Taliban members and saving the missiles for another time.
Taliban is not al Qaeda. Taliban is not designated a terrorist organization by the US. Neither are these people being repatriated, they have been handed over to the Qatari government, an American ally in the region.
Meanwhile, while admitting they celebrate Bergdahl’s release, McKeon and Inhofe warned that the exchange “may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”
“Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” they said.
If Congress would like to discuss presidential actions that “put our forces . . . around the world at even greater risk,” perhaps the time is right for a thorough investigation of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq . . . ? Or their cavalier abandonment of said Wounded Warriors when their medical care requires more funding than our parsimonious Congress is willing to dole out?
Posted by Bette Noir on 06/01/14 at 11:40 AM
Friday, May 23, 2014
Et tu, Bibi?
BREAKING: Benjamin Netanyahu Precipitates Serious Spate of Neocon Exploding Heads
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has some uncharacteristically positive words for one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives: the deal struck last year to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Netanyahu issued what was for him a full-throated endorsement of an Obama initiative, calling it “the one ray of light in a very dark region.”
“It’s not complete yet,” he went on. “We are concerned that they may not have declared all of their capacity. But what has been removed has been removed. We’re talking about 90 percent. We appreciate the effort that has been made and the results that have been achieved.”
Loosely [emphasis on the “loose”] related:
It’s a marvelous, magical place, our United States Senate. It’s a place that can transform a balding old white guy from the boonies, with a BS in Industrial Management and his own construction company, into a foreign policy expert in just a few short years.
The guy I’m referring to, of course, is Sen. Bob “Muddlement” Corker (R-TN) ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And, if Republicans should take control of the Senate this year, Sen. Muddlement is in line to take the reins of said Committee, a prospect that scares the bejeebers out of me but seems to thrill Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
I have watched him over the last few years really become the most highly respected on national security and foreign policy. He’s eminently qualified to be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
“Eminently qualified”? seriously?? Perhaps that statement goes a long way toward explaining our Congress’ 9% approval rating, because, in my view, Sen. Corker is a treasonous, low-info blowhard with minimal qualifications to be embarrassing the US, on national television, spouting his cracker-barrel wisdom on how our elected President is handling foreign affairs.
Unless, of course, you count Corker’s brief sojourn as Mayor of Chattanooga.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 05/23/14 at 10:12 AM