Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Obama '08: Get Disappointed by Somebody NEW!"

"New president won't tame executive power."
Via The Cato Institute (even a broken clock...):
Joe Biden hardly brings the glamour and excitement to his ticket that Sarah Palin does to hers, but he surely warmed civil libertarian hearts at the vice-presidential debate when he forcefully denounced "dangerous" theories designed to "aggrandize the power of a unitary executive." After seven years of an administration that has recognized few, if any, limits on executive power, it's only natural that many people look to the Obama-Biden ticket to put the presidency back in its proper constitutional place.

But there are good reasons to doubt that an Obama administration would meaningfully de-imperialize the presidency.

From Truman and Johnson's undeclared wars to the warrantless wiretapping carried out by FDR, JFK, LBJ and Nixon, the Imperial Presidency has long been a bipartisan phenomenon. In fact, our most recent Democratic president, Bill Clinton went even further than his predecessors in his exercise of extraconstitutional war powers. Prior presidents had unilaterally launched wars in the face of congressional silence. But Clinton's war over Kosovo in 1999 made him the first president to launch a war in the face of several congressional votes denying him the authority to wage it.

Recently, Barack Obama has found his own convenient rationales for endorsing broad presidential powers in the area of surveillance. When he signed on to the surveillance bill Congress passed this summer, Sen. Obama broke an explicit campaign promise to filibuster any legislation that would grant immunity to FISA-flouting telecom companies. By voting for the bill, Obama helped legalize large swaths of a dragnet surveillance program he'd long claimed to oppose. Perhaps some were comforted by Obama's "firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program." But our constitutional structure envisions stronger checks than the supposed benevolence of our leaders.

What motivated Obama's flip-flop? Was it a desire to look "tough" on national security—or was it that, as he seems ever closer to winning the office, broad presidential powers seem increasingly appealing? Either way, it's clear that the post-9/11 political environment will provide enormous incentives for the next president to embrace Bush-like theories of executive power. Can we really expect a Democratic president, publicly suspected of being "soft on terror," to spend much political capital making himself less powerful?

Not ("FUUKIN" Ed.) likely, say analysts on both sides of the political spectrum. Law professors Jack Balkin and Sanford Levinson, both left-leaning civil libertarians, predict that "the next Democratic president will likely retain significant aspects of what the Bush administration has done"; in fact, "future presidents may find that they enjoy the discretion and lack of accountability created by Bush's unilateral gambits." Jack Goldsmith, head of the Bush administration's OLC from 2003-04, argues that "if anything, the next Democratic president – having digested a few threat matrices … will be even more anxious than the current president to thwart the threat."

There was always something difficult to swallow in the notion that a man running as the reincarnation of JFK could be relied upon to end the Imperial Presidency. Barack Obama has done more than any candidate in recent memory to raise expectations for the office, expectations that were extraordinarily high to begin with. Over the course of the 20th century, more and more Americans looked to the president to perform miracles, from "managing the economy," to warding off hurricanes and providing seamless protection from foreign threats. As responsibility flowed to the center, the presidency grew far more powerful than the framers of our Constitution had ever intended it to be. We shouldn't be surprised then, if, during an Obama administration the Audacity of Hope gives rise to the Arrogance of Power.

None of this, of course, is to suggest that a President McCain would be any more respectful of constitutional limits. The Arizona senator worships at the altar of Teddy Roosevelt, maintaining that the bellicose TR was a great president because he "liberally interpreted the constitutional authority of the office." Like George W. Bush, McCain imagines that the president has a Magic Scepter of Inherent Authority that allows him to ignore statutes like FISA that restrain his discretion in national security matters.

Those who hope to put an end to the abuses of the Bush years are right to distrust McCain. Even so, when it comes to executive power, perhaps the best argument for an Obama presidency is found on a sardonic bumper sticker currently sold at "Obama '08: Get Disappointed by Someone New."

Civil libertarians, of all people, should know better than to hold out hope that a man on horseback will ride in to rescue the Constitution. Eternal vigilance – without regard for person or party – has ever been the price of liberty. That vigilance will be even more necessary in the years to come.

I have been shouting this from the roof-tops since last year!

NOBODY--not McC(umst)ain, certainly, but not the Mocha Messiah, either--I mean NOBODY is gonna concede the powers the Bushies have arrogated for the presidency back to the Legislative or the Judiciary. NAGAHAPPUN!!!! FUGGEDDABOTIT!!!

It has happened only once in the HISTORY of the Republic, and the guy who did it was...

George Washington.

Neither of the empty suits on the ballot today has one one-ten-thousandth the nobility, greatness, honor, or intelligence of a Washington.

If you enjoyed Bush's manipulation of the powers of the presidency, and headlong attacks on the Constitution, don't put away your scorecard yet, cuz more is SURELY coming...


(DOTOF™ to the amazing Militant Atheist (M_A) at WWL/OWL)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm 19 in the State of Florida. A young scholar of Law currently attending Kaplan University for my Criminal Justice Degree. With a 3.8 GPA, I've even managed to secure myself a position on the Dean's List.
From my perspective, politicians around the country are addicted to the prison money. I am one who's for the legalization of marijuana inside the United States! The lack of ethically moral policies in Washington regarding marijuana and it's questionable effects on health related matters has lead to a much greater incarceration of our youth. Don't you think it's time we see the reality for what it is? If marijuana does not kill anyone in comparible contrast to cigarettes and alcohol, doesn't that already take public safety issues off the table? It's funny because we will sell death to each other in the form of chemically altered cigarettes, yet we imprison all who deal in something that is naturally grown around the world. No matter if we stick everyone who smokes weed in jail and burn down all the crops, it's always going to grow. The truth is non violent drug offenders fill the empty positions in our prisons. Without them, the vast majority of private prisons would no longer be needed. I guess I'm what you would call a phycotic drug abuser since I smoke weed everyday but that won't change the fact that even after all the idiots in Washington screwed up the economy, I've managed to keep my job and exceed in education. I do think it's time for a change in direction; tired of being lied to just like the millions who've had enough with the old ways of Washington, I already know Obama will win this election! Although unfortunately he seems to have flip flopped on this issue! Regardless we all know he will win because America will not allow another idiot like Bush to take over office. Considering how John McCain refuses to see how lonely it really is at the top 5% while the other 95% is off strugling to survive and maintain a roof over their head. I will happily vote 999.99% democrat to avoid another 4 years like this. It is true that I am very proud of my country and how far it's come to allow someone like Obama run for White House. Martin Luther King must be rolling in hs grave knowing his dream decades later finally went mainstream; but back on topic is this wasteful drug war against marijuana even worth waging? Shouldn't some of these resources be allocated to more effective programs? Like catching all these rapists who stream live on limewire? I see our nations drug policies have only lead to a greater incarceration of our youth. We are trapping the minds of our future in prisons and educated them to be animals. Why not instead invest in more treatment programs that deal with people who actually want to be helped? Lack of ethically moral policies in Washington have lead to the current incarceration of over 1,595,034 prisoners and of these, 199,118 -- roughly about 12.5% -- were incarcerated in Federal prisons and 1,395,916 -- 87.5% -- have been incarcerated in State prisons. With the United States officially in recession I believe a cannabis market could create a much needed boost to our economy. Legalization should only be for adults age 21 and above. We all suffer when the average blue collar worker or student in college gets arrested and ruins his life over some stupid herb. I honestly believe we've taken the bait on this one and made it a far bigger issue then it really it is. We should all stop lying to ourselves and benifit socially by admitting we might have actually something to gain by legalizing marijuana, which has never been as bad for your physical or mental health as everyone has painted it so. Now with the government taking over our banks, I honestly believe we have bigger issues to worry about in America. Let's put all these drug dealers out of business by legalizing it and taxing it like tobacco!