Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hey, Wow, I Was Right!

Caption: The Constitution. To the surprise of no one with a working mind who has been paying attention, the President wiped his ass with it again today.

Image credit: National Archives

I thought I'd start with the good news for once. I was right when I wrote this:
That provision [allowing the President to detain anyone he deems to be a terrorist indefinitely], part of the Defense Authorization Act (DAA), will now go to the President for signature. In light of the announcement today that he can kill anyone he wants as long as he can convince himself that that person has "taken up arms" against the United States, I think the odds of him vetoing this bill are about the same as mine winning the Powerball lottery this week.

No, I did not buy a lottery ticket.

Democracy's Last Gasp?
The bad news is that as of today, as Glenn Greenwald reports, you can take the question mark off the title of my article now:
In one of the least surprising developments imaginable, President Obama – after spending months threatening to veto the Levin/McCain detention bill – yesterday announced that he would instead sign it into law (this is the same individual, of course, who unequivocally vowed when seeking the Democratic nomination to support a filibuster of "any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecom[s]," only to turn around – once he had the nomination secure - and not only vote against such a filibuster, but to vote in favor of the underlying bill itself, so this is perfectly consistent with his past conduct). As a result, the final version of the Levin/McCain bill will be enshrined as law this week as part of the the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I wrote about the primary provisions and implications of this bill last week, and won't repeat those points here.

Obama to sign indefinite detention bill into law
[links from original article]

Yes, it's at least conceivable that some later Congress will retract this bill. As Greenwald points out, there is precedent from the 1950s for this sort of bill. But back in the 1950s, there were leaders and prominent individuals who were willing to stand up and say that this was wrong. I don't see too many of such people this time around. Certainly, the con man who occupies the White House has no such scruples, as Glenn reminds us:
[T]he most persistent and propagandistic set of myths about President Obama on detention issues is that he tried to end indefinite detention by closing Guantanamo, but was blocked by Congress from doing so. It is true that Congress blocked the closing of Guantanamo, and again in this bill, Congress is imposing virtually insurmountable restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of that camp, including for detainees who have long ago been cleared for release (restrictions that Obama is now going to sign into law). But — and this is not a hard point to understand — while Obama intended to close Guantanamo, he always planned — long before Congress acted — to preserve Guantanamo’s core injustice: indefinite detention.

Obama to sign indefinite detention bill into law
[emphasis from original]

There will be a few prominent progressives who speak out about this, and probably some libertarians, maybe even a few conservatives, but not many. Most "progressives" will be making excuses about how this was so necessary due to the vastly greater threat posed by a few religious fanatics who are now dead, or how those nasty Republicans were responsible for making a Democratic Senate pass this bill, and for making a Democratic President sign it.

Anyone who both has the convictions and courage to resist this and the ability to do so has been purged from the Washington, DC system.

So, this is a good news, bad news story. Somehow, I don't think the good news outweighs the bad, but I keep getting lectured that I'm not being an optimistic enough Internet persona, so I guess we'll call this a "balanced" news story.

UPDATE: In this video from yesterday, Cenk Uygur finally gets it.
Cenk returns to the Defense Authorization Act, which the White House now says senior advisers will not recommend that President Obama should veto. “In all of the troubles I’ve got with President Obama, he couldn’t be that bad, right?” Cenk says he thought, even as others argued that NDAA seemed constructed to give the executive branch more power, not less.
Better late than never, I suppose.


One Fly said...

It gets to be old shit having this attitude of negativity but it's the truth and facts aren't pretty. Give some some slack to get along with those on our side for instance who think this prez is doing ok. Not going to happen.

There are so many that actually thought he was going to veto this and here it turns out what he was going to veto were provisions that were going to lessen his power. That's sick shit. He's one of them! And "our side" for the most part is silent cept for us guys.

Anybody thinks things will be different after the election is living an illusion.

Years of pulling the football away and nobody gets it yet.

Paul Sunstone said...

I love how the pundits have been saying in recent days that Obama is "returning to his Progressive roots" -- as if he has Progressive roots, let alone is genuinely returning to them.

Good call, Cujo!

Cujo359 said...

I think it's impossible to look at this stuff and not be pessimistic, One Fly. I know I don't manage very often, and I'm often wrong when I do.

Yes, Paul, those folks are just too precious. I'd read them, quote them, and rebut them, but I'm pessimistic enough already. Encountering wave after wave of human stupidity does nothing for my outlook.

Expat said...

About the only thing you've overlooked is:

Cujo359 said...

True, though I mostly overlooked that because, in and of itself, tax cutting isn't contributing to our current economic woes. The kind of tax cutting is, and using tax cuts as another excuse for austerity is.

At this point, I really expect my government to be running a deficit. It should be spending like a drunken sailor to build roads, schools, and all the other things that we need to make our economy work better, and more cleanly. It should be dropping those metaphorical $100s in school districts and research institutions everywhere.

Instead, it's spending the deficit on blowing up other peoples' countries, and becoming more efficient at blowing up other peoples' countries.