This week in Obama political scandal

It’s the attempt by the federal government to make legal acts, or marginally illegal acts, literally a federal case.

President Obama is currently embroiled in three situations labeled as political scandal. The IRS scandal is the most problematic in that it involves a highly disliked arm of government that affects almost everyone’s lives. But I agree that the REAL scandal in the IRS issue is that there are lots of political groups on both ends of the political spectrum getting tax-exempt status, when that designation should be limited to more cultural/civic issues. Since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2010, there have been far more organizations of every political stripe trying to influence elections, sometimes illegally. Also, the richer applicants fell under lesser scrutiny, a real class distinction. The President has shown public indignation over this particular issue, but he may be missing the bigger picture.

The notion that the Benghazi story is bigger than Watergate and Iran contra combined suggests that the “silly season” has already begun, Bob Woodward’s assertion notwithstanding. If there are altered documents, it may be Republicans feeding them to the mainstream media. At the end of the day, the real story on the government side will be that the US was ill-prepared for an attack in a hot spot, on a significant day (9/11 in 2012) despite warnings within the Administration, that no help was available to those who died there; that’s the scandal. The “talking points” of who said what, and when? An issue will be made of this, but it seems like usual interagency jockeying, rather than malicious intent to me.

I’m much more concerned by the unethical seizure of phone records of Associated Press journalists in connection to media leaks; it’s not just that First Amendment “freedom of speech” thing; it’s a Fourth Amendment “unreasonable search and seizure” thing, which has the effect of stifling whistleblowers. It’s the attempt to make legal acts, or marginally illegal acts, literally a federal case. One saw this in the Aaron Schwartz case, huge governmental overreach. The story of the octogenarian nun in federal prison for protesting may tick you off as it did me.

The President, as noted, seems to be worked up over one of these issues, but is more defensive about the other two. I would wish he’d get more excited about trampling people’s constitutional rights, but that does not appear to be in the cards. I find his behavior disappointing, to say the least.

Still, when the I word gets thrown around, I agree with this assessment: “it would take about fifty of each of the three to collectively equal Watergate, let alone the impeachment and incarceration we should have had over Iraq.”

Peace, Peace, There Is No Peace

Obama’s not a yahoo, he’s a Constitutional scholar, and his defense of his actions is disingenous.

My great disappointment with the Obama administration is not merely the fact that he has maintained indefinite detention of terrorists, rendition, and [so-called] Patriot Act surveillance. It is that, by his previous statements, the public had reason to believe that his actions would end those practices. Except for waterboarding, I’m not seeing the CHANGE I expected.

While the Iraq war is seemingly winding down, the Afghanistan war is ramping up. I must say, I’m not sure to what end.

But I’m most disappointed about our war in Libya. There is this peculiar thing in the Constitution that says that Congress declares war. The War Powers Act gives the President 90 days to submit a request to Congress after fighting begins. Yet he claims it’s not a “real” war, even though we have a “real” military there, and we’re spending “real” money to stay there.

I’m not saying one couldn’t make the case for going into Libya. I AM saying that if another President acted that way, and he was, say, a US Senator, he might complain about the incursion without Congressional authority; wait, wait, he DID do that, and rightly so, re GWB’s war in Iraq. Obama’s not a yahoo, he’s a Constitutional scholar, and the defense of his actions is disingenuous.

Is there any way he can give BACK his Nobel Peace Prize?
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Roger Answers Your Questions, Rosey and Lisa


Rosey at Dung Hoe Gardening asked:
Do you feel like we as a country have to fight every war for everybody? It’s [a] sticky question.

Well, yes, it is. But the answer to the question is clearly no. I mean, the United States hasn’t gotten involved in the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) yet, has it?

As a matter of policy, at least since Viet Nam, the position has generally been that the US engage in winnable wars, and only when they meet the nation’s strategic interests, whatever they may be at the moment. This has been boiled down to something called The Powell Doctrine, which “states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States”:

1.Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2.Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3.Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4.Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5.Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6.Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7.Is the action supported by the American people?
8.Do we have genuine broad international support?

One could argue that our incursion into Libya doesn’t meet #2; Afghanistan hasn’t met #5, and #8 re Iraq is dubious. Other standards may not have been met also.

More cynically, The Daily Show described our foreign policy decisions this way.

To this day, Bill Clinton regrets his “personal failure” to prevent the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people. But would the American people have supported a war in a country where no visible bogeyman had been inbedded in their collective consciousness, merely to save the lives of people in a country no one could find on a map, or spell?

I suppose, Rosey, your question was prompted by the Libyan situation. The Republican position has been all over the place, with some who were pushing for a “no-fly zone” weeks ago – by ourselves? really? – still kvetching about Obama’s “inaction”. I tend to be in that fairly bipartisan camp who’s concerned that we’re fighting a war (again) without a Congressional declaration of war.

Also, I worry about “mission creep”. Initially, it was about protecting the rebels (whoever the heck they are) against the excesses of Khadafi Gadaffy Qadaffi the Libyan leader, however you spell his name. But, if it’s going well, hey, why don’t we try to take him out, like we tried 25 years ago?

So, why the US goes to war tends not to be very tidy anymore, if it ever was.
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Lisa at peripheral perceptions wants needs to know:
My burning question is: Did you take that photo yourself or did you *pose that way for someone? 🙂

When I went down to Charlotte, NC last month to see my mother, I was tooling around on the household computer. There I came across a bunch of photos I’d never seen from Lydia and my trip there in the spring of 2009; we were there then for my niece’s high school graduation. One of them was this one:

I didn’t remember it, but, for sure, the niece took it, not me, and I’m guessing that I was doing it for some effect, but I’m just not positive.