The memo appears to be a briefing paper that was derived from the real legal memorandum in late 2011 and provided to some members of Congress. It does not discuss any specific target and emphasizes that it does not go into the specific thresholds of evidence that are deemed sufficient.
It adopts an elastic definition of an “imminent” threat, saying it is not necessary for a specific attack to be in process when a target is found if the target is generally engaged in terrorist activities aimed at the United States. And it asserts that courts should not play a role in reviewing or restraining such decisions.
The white paper states that “judicial enforcement of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.”
It also fills in many blanks in a series of speeches by members of the Obama legal team about the use of force in targeted killings, including remarks by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at Northwestern’s law school in March. He asserted that the Constitution’s guarantee of “due process” before the government takes a life does not necessarily mean “judicial process” in national security situations, but offered little specific legal analysis
I hope Charles Pierce is right about the nostrums in Barack Obama’s second inaugural address; I want to believe that pointed references to government-as-Leviathan were “only a little deke to get Brokaw looking the other way.” I know I didn’t imagine the president calling upon the force and fire of rhetoric that stoked a lot more people in 2008 than I to animate the best passage:
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword (Ed. Note: Lincolnosity!), we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune … we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
As sinuous a connecting of dots as anything I’ve seen since FDR’s own second inaugural speech in 1937, in which he pissed off a lot of people for not smiling his beautiful teeth at Alf Landon supporters. A click on the tag will unearth writing going back to 2007 where I’ve doubted the buoyancy of rhetoric, especially when spoken by as intelligent a man as Obama. I’ve had to fight my instinctual attraction to the man, in large part because journalists are not honest about the ways in which ritual and ceremony mitigate policy disappointments.
But on grand occasions like inaugurations words matter. Giving climate change — a development that will cause more damage than the “leaving debt to our children” canard — Knitting Selma, Seneca Falls, and Stonewall together on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day matters. So does an acknowledgment that the last thirty years of the neoliberal and conservative marriage — ratified by Obama and his sainted predecessor Bill Clinton, up on that dais with his wife — have done grievous damage to what remains of the middle class. I doubt Jack Lew will change these policies in the Treasury Department; I scoff at the notion that John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will reevaluate drone policy. But if the progressive base finagled to get those words mentioned in Obama’s second inaugural address, then I must assume it has the clout to scare him into living up to those words. Let us never stop. Let us never let our guard down.
Rolling Stone published a new Matt Taibbi story on the bailouts. Among the discoveries about the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the way in which Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the incoming Obama administration sold the bill:
In the letters, [Larry] Summers laid out a five-point plan in which the bailout was pitched as a kind of giant populist program to help ordinary Americans. Obama, Summers vowed, would use the money to stimulate bank lending to put people back to work. He even went so far as to say that banks would be denied funding unless they agreed to “increase lending above baseline levels.” He promised that “tough and transparent conditions” would be imposed on bailout recipients, who would not be allowed to use bailout funds toward “enriching shareholders or executives.” As in the original TARP bill, he pledged that bailout money would be used to aid homeowners in foreclosure. And lastly, he promised that the bailouts would be temporary – with a “plan for exit of government intervention” implemented “as quickly as possible.”
The reassurances worked. Once again, TARP survived in Congress – and once again, the bailouts were greenlighted with the aid of Democrats who fell for the old “it’ll help ordinary people” sales pitch. “I feel like they’ve given me a lot of commitment on the housing front,” explained Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska.
But in the end, almost nothing Summers promised actually materialized. A small slice of TARP was earmarked for foreclosure relief, but the resultant aid programs for homeowners turned out to be riddled with problems, for the perfectly logical reason that none of the bailout’s architects gave a shit about them. They were drawn up practically overnight and rushed out the door for purely political reasons – to trick Congress into handing over tons of instant cash for Wall Street, with no strings attached. “Without those assurances, the level of opposition would have remained the same,” says Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a leading progressive who voted against TARP. The promise of housing aid, in particular, turned out to be a “paper tiger.
As we prepare to endure the bleatings of conservative relatives, let us rejoice in Joe Hagan’s reporting from this November’s National Review cruise. Among the edifying moments: Cal Thomas and Rich LOLwry looked restrained and practical next to their fellow cruisers.
This was a phenomenon that was common on the cruise—the conservative pundits and columnists from the National Review attempting to gently disinter their followers from unhelpful conservative propaganda. For people who believe in the truth of works like Dreams From My Real Father, a conspiracy-theory documentary that argues that Obama’s real father was a communist propagandist who turned Obama into a socialist Manchurian Candidate, this could be difficult work.
As Thomas downed the rest of his drink, Duane said the only way out of the current quagmire is a “revolution,” citing the famous Thomas Jefferson line about watering the tree of liberty with blood from “time to time.”
What kind of revolution did he have in mind?
Duane’s eyes crinkled into a big smile. “You ever heard of guns?”
His wife sat up: “How do you like the veal?”
“It’s awful,” Duane growled, poking at it. “I can’t hardly chew it.”
It looks like these post-Reagan revelers are taking seriously their leaders’ calls to figure out what went wrong in November:
Melissa O’Sullivan, the Alabaman wife of John, wasn’t buying the idea that Republicans had alienated minorities. “We’ve invited them to join us!” she insisted.
Susan from Princeton granted that the Republican Party is “lily white and it’s a problem and it is messaging and Mitt Romney screwed up royally.”
But Ms. O’Sullivan again took umbrage. As everyone went silent, she recalled a conference she attended in Australia in which a liberal nun (who “didn’t even have the decency to wear a habit”) criticized America for its “inner-city racism.” Offended, Ms. O’Sullivan recounted what she wished she’d said to this nun:
“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”
Ms. O’Sullivan then warned against watering down the purity of the conservative agenda to placate minorities or, as she put it, rather succinctly, “the bastardization of the product.”
But leave it to Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne, whose intellect illumines the coming nights of liberal darkness, ask the right question.
“So therefore we should give up and burn our passports and stay on this boat forever?” said [Jonah] Goldberg with real exasperation.
The crowd erupted in cheers.
Yes yes burn your passports and stay on the boat forever.
Charles Pierce on what SCOTUS may do now that California’s Proposition 8 and a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act:
It is possible — and I would argue, it is more than likely — that the Roberts Court, seeing no issue here that would engage its basic love of corporate rights, and being rather chaos-averse in its decisions that do not affect corporate rights, would look at the staggering tangled mess that would result in the states through a constitutional ban on gay marriage and back away. In that case, it also would look at a decision holding that position as being not only a naked violation of states rights and of the Full Faith And Credit clause, but also that it now would be a slap in the face of free elections, and decide, as it did in upholding the Afforable Care Act, that it simply doesn’t want the hassle. That would be the way I would be betting today but, my god, there are at least a couple of people on that Court who have to have been bleeding from their gums for a decade in anticipation of striking down the illicit joining of the pee-pees.
I suppose this is encouraging:
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who has almost become the liaison to the left for cuts to federal health care programs in the grand bargain, gave a speech today at the Center for American Progress that included a couple important points:
• Durbin sequenced the provisions of the deal, saying that Republicans would have to build the framework on taxes, which includes an increase in the top marginal rates, before any Democrat will even begin to talk about social insurance programs. This seems like a hardline stance, but it just mirrors the dominant conversation, which has focused on taxes to the exclusion of practically everything else.
• Though Durbin has sought to bring rank-and-file Democrats along on a grand bargain that would include cuts to those social insurance programs, he set out some red lines. In addition to rejecting the privatization of Medicare or Social Security and the block granting of Medicaid – a common tactic to reject the extreme view to provide space for more modest but still damaging cuts – Durbin took Social Security almost entirely off the table. This matches White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s statements yesterday. It does appear that’s been filed away for the time being.
On the other hand:
In addition, Durbin said, regarding spending cuts on anti-poverty social programs, “Let me be clear: Those cuts will not happen.” And he sought to line up with the Administration’s viewpoint that any changes to Medicare and Medicaid can happen without cuts to benefits, through payment reforms or provider cuts. This would “strengthen” those programs through the reform, he said. He also wanted to exempt infrastructure spending fully from any cuts.
“Changes” to Medicare and Medicaid that would “strengthen” them? I’m sorry if “grand bargain” insults the intelligence as much as “fiscal cliff.”
Ed Kilgore on the fissures in the so-called Obama Coalition. I hadn’t thought about how the depth of minority support for the president will buoy him for years and hence make it worse for a progressive candidate in 2016:
At a minimum, if Obama accepts as part of some “grand bargain” on fiscal issues actual benefit cuts in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, and/or major structural changes in how these programs operate, there will be a backlash among Democrats in and out of Congress that could be significantly fiercer than the one favoring a “public option” which for a while threatened the enactment of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. And now that the threat of a Republican president has subsided, we can also expect to hear much more vocal Democratic objections to Obama’s foreign policy, particularly its continuation of the “war on terror” and its heavy use of drone strikes in the Greater Middle East. Long-simmering progressive resentment of Obama administration positions on civil liberties, and on its support for relatively high defense spending, will also re-emerge for the same reason.
There is, however, a paradox at the center of any prospects for a revolt-from-the-left against Obama. Nothing mobilizes intra-party opposition quite like disgruntlement with a president, as LBJ, George H.W. Bush, and at some points Bill Clinton could have told you. But as I often observed in dismissing the prospects of any significant primary challenge to Obama in 2012 despite occasionally white-hot anger from liberal elites, it is almost impossible to launch a left-bent intraparty challenge to a Democratic Party leader who has a strong personal bond with minority voters (this was true to some extent even with Jimmy Carter back in 1980, and also had something to do with the failure of unhappy liberals to challenge Clinton in 1996, and neither man had remotely the kind of support among minority voters that Obama has enjoyed since he first announced for president).
However, to expect a revolt over drone warfare is some bullshit.
I wasn’t much moved by the 2008 election except by relief that the Bush junta was out of power but the results last night exceeded my expectations because I had little besides keeping the wolves out. Good news for Alfred:
1. Probable felon David Rivera voted convincingly out of office.
2. State constitution amendments regulating abortion funds, rescinding Affordable Care Act, and calling for “religious freedom” in public schools convincingly dismissed.
3. Alan Grayson!
4. Elizabeth Warren!
6. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana.
5. Maryland! Maine! Tammy Baldwin.
6. California, saved from fiscal calamity.
7. Affordable Care Act out of GOP hands.
Warren, Baldwin, and Grayson may yet prove disappointments but I’ve never experienced an election in my lifetime in which a host of serious, far-reaching liberal policies and potential legislative enablers were affirmed – decisively.
Fuck hope. This is change.
Trying to keep cool about all kindsa stuff, I lean much further left than most Democrats, but I gotta say. There’s a thing going around in the right wing that people who voted Democratic “don’t want to work – they want handouts!” To anybody propagating that nonsense, rot in hell. I’m on my grind 7 days a week, and because I’m self-employed, I’m in a high tax bracket – the government takes a *huge* cut of my pay, which I have to send them in the form of quarterly payments. I don’t love giving it back, but I don’t complain, because I believe it’s the job of government to help the poor, pave roads, etc., and that’s where some of that money goes. Some of that money goes to places I don’t approve of, but those are the breaks, and I accept them. If you don’t agree: that’s fine! We have an honest disagreement! No big deal! But the second you suggest that I vote the way I do because I’m lazy, or want a handout, then you’re 1) being a resentful choad and 2) doing the sort of “just make stuff up and demonize the opposition” stuff…that lost you this election, and will probably lose you the next one.
In 2008, I wrote this post explaining why I couldn’t vote for Barack Obama. Now I’m going to explain why I did now: the stimulus package saved hundreds of university jobs, as our former president acknowledged in 2009; a few friends with pre-existing conditions have access to private insurance; and he’s gone further than any president in my lifetime towards taking seriously the “all men are created equal” line in the Declaration of Independence when it comes to homosexuals. Each point comes with caveats. The stimulus was too small and political exigency meant Obama couldn’t support with the fervor it deserved. Access to private insurance means being a slave to private insurance companies until most of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions take effect in 2014, and still no substitute for government insurance. Finally, beside the enrichment of Wall Street satraps and the now terminal gulf between them and the rest of Americans, “all men are created equal” is a schoolboy maxim.
But you can click on the Obama tag on the right to read my laments about Obama’s foreign policy and Wall Street kowtowing, enough to sway me towards voting third party if I lived in California or the east coast. Here’s the reality in Florida with which I must deal. I’ve read enough of American history to know what evil looks like, and on that scale, compared to the millions benefiting from the executive compromises I mentioned above, Obama is on the low end — for now.
I’m glad Matt Taibbi made the obvious point: hack political reporters adore sports metaphors:
Romney’s performance was better than Obama’s, but only if you throw out criteria like “wasn’t 100% full of shit from the opening bell” and “made an actual attempt to explain who he is and what his plans are.” Unfortunately, that is good enough for our news media, which drools over the gamesmanship aspects of these debates, because it loves candidates who sink their teeth into the horse-race nonsense that they think validates their professional lives.
For instance: in my local paper, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, I read an analysis entitled, “Romney’s debate performance was presidential game changer, analysts say.”
The unnamed authors of this analysis delivered a blizzard of sports metaphors about Romney’s performance. “It’s a new race for the White House,” they said, after Romney “changed the game with an aggressive, confident performance” – needed, because “Obama’s forces had hinted earlier that all they needed from the debate was one good punch to knock Romney out,” after the challenger “spent the summer and early fall stumbling.”
Has any hack used “double down” yet? Or “ace up his sleeve”? I’d like to claim that political reporting has reached its nadir, but as the late Gore Vidal, there’s a whole lot of nadir.
A year ago I published a list of the cliches that I forbid from student essays. This year I’ve added “passed away” when students to say their grandma died, ponderosities like “prior” or “prior to” (as in “Prior to going to class, I stopped at Dunkin Donuts”) and “due to” or “due to the fact that” when they mean “because.”
Beware the self-made man: he has neither patience nor mercy for citizens who can’t triumph like he has. I know good people for whom the period between their teens and early forties was a numbing accumulation of cents so that their children would themselves never have to accept menial labor for the sake of putting their own children in private schools. As a result, legitimate grievances from other members of society in worse straits don’t elicit sympathy; the response is closer to “Shut up and deal.” So committed are my acquaintances to this Horatio Alger trope that they have no clue — none — about how quickly they claim the status of victims. They drink from the well of right wing self-pity. They whine about how bad they have it: Obama, the smarter ones say, may not be socialist but he’s setting things up for a centralized economy. To live in this realm of victimhood requires a force field that repels facts. I can explain how a “socialist” would never nominate the former head of the New York Federal Reserve as secretary of the Treasury or Lawrence Summers to the Council of Economic Advisors: it doesn’t matter.
And so we get Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson pimping a 2007 speech in which Senator Barack Obama, speaking to a black audience, reminded them of how the federal government had failed them. Ta-Nehisi Coates shakes his head:
We imagine the American past as filled with rabid bigots. But there have always been at least as many people who have some sense that bigotry is wrong, though they may say nothing. And then there are a select few who are fairly clear on right and wrong, but simply see more upside in being wrong.
Today I read conservative bloggers and commenters expressing shock that a politician would want to affect the accent of the people he’s addressing and the race to which he belongs. Racial divisiveness, they said (I won’t link to the sites). They cannot understand how the race in power should at least think carefully before accusing traditionally oppressed races of “reverse racism.”