Monthly Archives: January 2009

John Yoo Continues to Defend Torture

Barack Obama may have once again banned torture as U.S. policy, but Bush torture apologist John Yoo is once again defending the egregious practice.  From the WSJ:

In issuing these executive orders, Mr. Obama is returning America to the failed law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism that prevailed before Sept. 11, 2001. He’s also drying up the most valuable sources of intelligence on al Qaeda, which, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden, has come largely out of the tough interrogation of high-level operatives during the early years of the war.

Yoo’s attempt at legitimizing this barbaric practice also challenges what is probably the most libertarian statement President Obama has made to date:

It is naïve to say, as Mr. Obama did in his inaugural speech, that we can “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

While it’s obvious that Yoo is attempting to set up the framework for a legal defense for Bush administration interrogation policies, it’s also important to remember that Yoo also finds no reason for why we shouldn’t crush “the testicles of the person’s child” in order to extract information.

As late as a year ago, I would have never predicted there would be any serious legal action taken against senior Bush officials for acts of torture committed by Americans.  It’s now beginning to appear more and more likely that this will become a major legal issue in the not-to-distant future.

The Borg Obama vs. Cardassian Republicans

obamaborgTo the right is a photoshop found at Gawker which illustrates a relevant question. Over at reason, Matt Welch makes reference to a posting at DailyKos which “compares Republican non-assimilationists to The Borg.”

Dear Americans THIS is the Republican party you are left with… a crew of people (?) unwilling to defend the needs of their particular constituency (because, of course, there is NO WAY that the needs of, say, David Drier’s affluent California district has much to do with the needs of the rural, hat and cattle folk represented by Denny Rehberg in Montana’s at large, which has little in common with those living in the poorest congressional district in the country, Jo Bonner’s, in AL-1) choosing instead to participate in the THOUGHT HIVE of tax-cuts, tax-cuts, “Dear God no ass-fucking” and tax cuts.

To some degree, Kos writer JeffLieber is accurate. The GOP has been spending far too much effort and energy talking about tax cuts — as opposed to talking about spending cuts.  As the Rush Limbaugh plan suggests, they would be perfectly happy to increase the amount of federal debt if and only if the egregious spending bill is combined with tax cuts.

In other words, the Democrats wish to max out our federal credit cards with frivolous purchases while the Republicans wish to max out our credit cards with high-interest cash advances. People with common sense know that both of these solutions to fiscal problems lead to the same end: fiscal insolvency and eventual bankruptcy.

With regard to the anal sex reference, JeffLieber has another valid point.  Republicans, especially in Alabama, seem awfully fixated on the issue.  However, neither major political seems very upset about using the force of government to stick the tab up the wallets of our children and grandchildren.  No matter how one feels about the general topic, forced anal sex is worse than the voluntary variety.  And both major parties are guilty.

While I disagree with the GOP in their approach to this bill, at least they had the testicular fortitude to vote against the Democratic version.

What gets me is the Kos writer’s reference to the Borg.  Being neither elephant nor donkey allows me a bit more neutrality on the issue.  Currently, the right is in disarray and isn’t following any particular leader.  Obama and the mainstream media seem to be trying to push Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter into positions of greater influence.  With such buffoonish characters serving as the mouthpiece for the right, the left will certainly continue to enjoy electoral success.

To complete the Star Trek reference, the Republicans aren’t powerful enough to be compared to the Borg.  Here is one description which seems to better describe the GOP:

Cardassians were trained in military discipline from a very young age, taught to obey and not to ask questions and to accept the decisions of the state. The Cardassian judiciary presumes guilt from the beginning of the trial and serves only as a forum for forcing a confession from the accused.

However, the downright reverence on the left for The Messiah Barack Obama is not just creepy, it’s downright scary.  10 days ago, I wrote that the Democrats “wish to assimilate us into the collective of Borg Obama.”  I continue to stand by that statement.

Susette Kelo Tells Her Story at The Cato Institute

Interestingly, this new development that was supposed to bring in so much revenue and jobs to the City of New London remains an empty lot. The city has lost a tax base and the only new jobs which were created were for demolition. Here’s hoping that New London does not recover from this immoral stealing of property anytime soon.

To watch or listen to the rest of the event featuring Susette Kelo’s attorney from the now infamous case Scott Bullock and the author of the book Little Pink House Jeff Benedict, click here.

Lawsuit Filed Alleging Hillary Clinton Is Ineligible To Serve As Secretary Of State

Judicial Watch, which was a thorn in the side of the Clinton Administration back in the 1990’s, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton is ineligible to serve as Secretary of State:

WASHINGTON — A conservative watchdog group filed a lawsuit Thursday arguing that Hillary Rodham Clinton cannot legally serve as secretary of state, even though she was sworn in last week.

The suit is based on an obscure section of the Constitution on compensation for public officials, the emoluments clause. The clause says no member of Congress can be appointed to a government post if that job’s pay was increased during the lawmaker’s current term.

Clinton was serving in Congress when the secretary of state’s salary was raised to its current level of $191,300. So that Clinton could take the post, Congress last month lowered the salary to $186,600, the level when she began her second Senate term. A similar tactic has been used so that several other members of Congress from both parties could serve in the Cabinet.

Judicial Watch, which has pursued several suits against Clinton and other officials over the years, argues there can be no exceptions to the clause.

The group says that Hillary Clinton is “constitutionally ineligible” to be secretary of state until 2013, when her second Senate term would expire. She resigned from the Senate to take the Cabinet post.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here, and it’s fairly straightforward.

Judicial Watch is representing a long-time State Department employee who alleges that it he would be damaged by being required to take orders, and act under the direction of, a Secretary of State who is ineligible to serve. Assuming that this is sufficient to get around the inevitable standing issues, the Constitutional argument is fairly straightforward:

  1. Article I Sec. 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution states that a sitting Senator or Representative cannot be appointed to a civil office for which the compensation was increased during the time that they served in the legislature
  2. On three separate occasions since Hillary Clinton began serving her second term in the Senate, the salary for the Secretary of State was increased by Executive Order.
  3. Therefore, by a strict reading of the emoluments clause, Hillary Clinton cannot be Secretary of State until at least 2013.

On the other side of the argument, there is the fact that, prior to the time that she took office at Foggy Bottom, Congress instituted a so-called Saxbe Fix — lowering the salary of the Secretary of State to where it was at the beginning of Clinton’s then-current Senate term. This is the same “solution” that was used when this issue came up in the past, although the last time it was tried Senator Robert Byrd pointed out that the so-called fix didn’t fix anything. (Of course, Saxbe was a Republican, and when Hillary’s nomination came before the Senate, Byrd voted yes)

As I noted when this controversy first arose, the Constitutional argument against Clinton’s eligibility is rather clear:

If the words of the Constitution mean what they say, then it seems fairly clear that Hillary Clinton is Constitutionally ineligible from serving as Secretary of State. Is it a dumb rule ? Probably, just like it’s a dumb rule that someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t serve as President of the United States merely because he was born in a foreign country. The way to deal with dumb rules, though, isn’t to ignore them, but to change them via the method that the Constitution provides.

>However, I don’t see this lawsuit going anywhere for a very simple reason:

[N]o Federal Court Judge is going to say that Barack Obama cannot have the Secretary of State of his choice.

And that goes double for any Judge on the Court of Appeals, or any Supreme Court Justice.

Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

Cross-posted from Below The Beltway

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