Rebuttal to Andrew Sullivan

Earlier in the week we read the Andrew Sullivan piece which lauded President Obama’s accomplishments and criticized those of us on the left, pundits and citizens alike, for not focusing on the long game.  Sullivan barely touched the issue of executive over reach, indefinite detention of American citizens, rule of law issues and erosion of the Bill of Rights.  He plainly intimated that as long as “we don’t torture”, we’re good to go.  I don’t think so.

Here is a rebuttal to Sullivan’s piece I discovered in The Atlantic.  It’s interesting that it was framed as a question to candidate Obama considering we’re working on our own 50 Questions.

After reading Andrew Sullivan’s Newsweek essay about President Obama, his critics, and his re-election bid, I implore him to ponder just one question. How would you have reacted in 2008 if any Republican ran promising to do the following?

(1) Codify indefinite detention into law; (2) draw up a secret kill list of people, including American citizens, to assassinate without due process; (3) proceed with warrantless spying on American citizens; (4) prosecute Bush-era whistleblowers for violating state secrets; (5) reinterpret the War Powers Resolution such that entering a war of choice without a Congressional declaration is permissible; (6) enter and prosecute such a war; (7) institutionalize naked scanners and intrusive full body pat-downs in major American airports; (8) oversee a planned expansion of TSA so that its agents are already beginning to patrol American highways, train stations, and bus depots; (9) wage an undeclared drone war on numerous Muslim countries that delegates to the CIA the final call about some strikes that put civilians in jeopardy; (10) invoke the state-secrets privilege to dismiss lawsuits brought by civil-liberties organizations on dubious technicalities rather than litigating them on the merits; (11) preside over federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries; (12) attempt to negotiate an extension of American troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (an effort that thankfully failed); (14) reauthorize the Patriot Act; (13) and select an economic team mostly made up of former and future financial executives from Wall Street firms that played major roles in the financial crisis.

Maybe we’ve already discussed these issues enough here and there is already agreement, but I thought the author of the piece raised questions that I’d like to hear the answers to.  If anyone thinks I’m happy about this, look again.  I was an Obama supporter in 2008 and even 2009, now, I’m not so sure.

Conclusion from The Atlantic:

Obama has transgressed against what is arguably Congress’ most essential check on executive power — its status as the decider of when America goes to war — and he has codified indefinite detention into law, something that hasn’t been done since Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. But at least he doesn’t torture people! How low we’ve set the bar.It isn’t that I object to Sullivan backing Obama’s reelection if his GOP opponent runs on bringing back torture. Is he the lesser of two evils? Maybe so. But lauding him as a president who has governed “with grace and calm” and “who as yet has not had a single significant scandal to his name”? If indefinite detention, secret kill lists, warrantless spying, a war on whistleblowers, violating the War Powers Resolution, and abuse of the state secrets privilege don’t fit one’s definition of “scandal,” what does?

66 Responses

  1. Admin Note:

    An interesting quirk. When I created this post, I originally put a link to 50 Questions in the body of the post. When it published it showed up as a comment under 50 Questions. A little familiar cross posting issue maybe? I changed it from a link to bold.

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  2. That’s a good compilation of the president’s mistakes. But what is being proposed as a solution?

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    • “But what is being proposed as a solution?”

      Gary Johnson?

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      • i have voted LP twice, but I’m not there yet for 2012. For bush-gore I thought “Meh.” Same for bush-kerry despite bush’s clear deficiencies. Somehow the GOP has doubled down on irresponsibility, such that I can’t do a throwaway vote. Not that it will matter much in MN anyway.

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  3. I wish I knew the solution. Neither party seems overly interested in rolling back any of this stuff but I think it’s getting pretty hard to deny it’s a dangerous direction.

    Nova, do you really think Gary Johnson will gain any traction. I’m doubtful he’ll even be an option by the time Nov. rolls around. Will he be on our primary ticket here in CA…..doubtful. And if he is, how many registered Libertarians do you think there are, we don’t have open primaries unless you’re registered as unaffiliated. I’ll have to go back and check again because we passed a new law I haven’t come up against yet but I think that’s right.

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  4. President Obama has successfully converted the primary anti-terrorism policies of the second Bush administration into the new bipartisian governing consensus. In many areas, such as getting the Supreme Court to rule that habeous corpus rights don’t extend to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, he has succeeded in extending executive power where Bush failed. Objections to these policies on civil liberties grounds are now “fringe” positions.

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  5. “Nova, do you really think Gary Johnson will gain any traction. I’m doubtful he’ll even be an option by the time Nov. rolls around.”

    I believe that Gary Johnson will be on at least 48 state ballots in November as the Libertarian candidate. They are the only third party that consistently, year after year, gets on enough state ballots to actually win the election if enough people vote for their candidate.

    They also gotten better about nominating people with actual political experience who are disaffected from their previous party, so they aren’t amateurs. They nominated former Congressman Bob Barr in 2008.

    If you want a choice other than Romney and Obama, that’s your option.

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    • Is he actually running a national campaign? I sure don’t hear much about him. As I said the other day, I’ve voted for Libertarians in the past but not if they stink on SS/Medicare, women’s choice, or in other ways want to unwind the Federal Government to where we were in the 1800’s.

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      • Yes, he will be the Libertarian nominee in 2012:

        http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/

        As a reminder, the chances of a libertarian majority in the House of Representatives or the Senate are pretty slim in 2012, so I expect that SS/Medicare is safe for four more years.

        If your primary concern is the executive overreach on civil liberties, rule of law, etc, he’s the only candidate, aside from Ron Paul, running against the current bi-partisian Bush-Obama consensus position.

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      • Johnson’s pro-choice. but he, “stinks” on SS/Medicare

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      • It’s a whole lot easier for a conservative to vote for a Libertarian than someone like me. My husband might go there though, as long as he gets his SS…….he’s looking forward to it…..lol.

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      • retirement security we can address. maybe not you’re preferred way, but there’s a whole lot of options to do it. and like jnc4p notes, it’s not like the two of us are about to become committee chairs (dibs on the Finance Committee).

        death by drone or indefinite detention is harder to fix.

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      • “(dibs on the Finance Committee). ”

        I’ll take Rules.

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      • good choice — the traffic cops of the house. i think you can make the case that it’s the most powerful committee. IIRC, the ACA was re-written in Rules.

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  6. Sorry to go OT on the rebuttal to Sullivan’s pursuit of who birthed Trig Palin, but Senator Reid has now delayed PIPA vote.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled rebuttal of Sullivan’s fascination do Sarah Palin’s reproductive abilities. Course, it could be worse, he could be a birther.

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  7. Lms, Excitable Andy writes from an emtional standpoint, not reason and logic. If he loves someone, there is no end to the way he will twist the argument to justify his love. When that love ends, it often turns to hate. It’s better to think of him in terms of a teenager and crushes.

    And I feels morally obligated to point out that this “respected” (snicker) pundit claims to have doubts as to who birthed Trig Palin. Luckily for him, that doesn’t delegitimize him. Like I said, at least he’s not some sort of kook, like birthers.

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    • “Excitable Andy”

      I move that this be the blog’s nomenclature for Sullivan from this point forward.

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      • I also think “Ange” would be appropriate. That’s how Barney Fife, from the Andy Griffith show would pronounce “Andy” sometimes.

        Little known fact, a buddy and I, in college, invented a game for the Andy Griffith show in which anytime Barney did something stupid, you had to take a drink. If he said “Ange,” you had to drink the entire beverage. The tough days were when Barney said “Ange, Ange, Ange.”

        Needless to say, we didn’t do much studying on those days!

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    • Sullivan may write nonsense from time to time, but that doesn’t disqualify him from ever adding value. If that were our threshold, the GOP wouldn’t have any nominees!

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      • Do you feel that way about pundits who are Obama birthers? Just occasional nonsense that can be safely ignored? There’s no wrong answer, people value all sorts of things that I don’t, shocking to me as that continually is. What are the types of things that disqualifies a pundit for future consideration? That, to me, is an interesting discussion. Though Excitable Andy’s obsession with Sarah Palin’s Uterus and his apparant confusion of female reproduction is always enjoyable and fascinating.

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      • I can’t think of any pundits I’ve written off for being birthers. Despite the nonsense often spouted by will & krauthammer, I still occasionally agree – though it seems that used to happen more often. Of course I think it is they who have changed, not I.

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    • Sullivan may write nonsense from time to time

      I’m not sure, but I think that suggest a ratio inverse to nonsense vs. insight. His obsession with Trig, and his defense of this obsessiveness, was bizarre. His defense of Obama seem badly misplaced, to me. The critiques of Obama don’t seem so easily dismissed, to me. Also, it’s the Hitler Painted Roses strategy of rhetorical defense (penny in the Godwin jar). The positives don’t necessarily excuse or explain the negatives, especially when it comes to the NDAA (which, even you leave out detention of American citizens, has some bizarre and even internally contradictory stuff in it)—Obama needs to learn to veto.

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      • ” His obsession with Trig, and his defense of this obsessiveness, was bizarre.”

        That is if you believe that he actually believes it. I’m sure he doesn’t, he’s not stupid. It’s his emotional attempt to discredit a person he hates. Again, you have to think of him like he’s a teenager. He spreads rumors he knows are not true because he hates, like only a teenager can hate. I think the movie “Mean Girls” might be a good example.

        Or, the audience of any of the Twilight movies. Just eavesdrop on the conversations occurring around you and you will hear passionate love and hatred. Substitute “that whore Brittany” or “my BFF Angela” for Bush and Obama and you have the Daily Dish.

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      • Obama needs to learn to veto

        That got me interested to seeing the vote on the NDAA. Conference report was passed 283-136 in the House, Ds split 93 – 93. 86-13 in the Senate, with an interesting mix of “nays” — Coburn, Crapo, DeMint, Lee, Paul, Risch and Cardin, Durbin, Franken, Harkin, Merkley, Sanders, Wyden.

        Congressman Paul failed to vote on the NDAA.

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      • That is if you believe that he actually believes it. I’m sure he doesn’t, he’s not stupid.

        I don’t think he’s stupid, but I’m not sure he’s rational. There is a difference, and I think he may well have believed his Trig Trutherism. In either case, his advancing the case was not rational, whether he believed it or not. And I mean not rational in the sense that he really is in some meaningful way a little bit crazy, in a way that normally required medication, or is caused by it. But that’s just my theory, based on reading his stuff. 🙂

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  8. Some times, progressive/liberal rage at Democrats is quite amusing:

    I’m not going to share my thoughts anymore if you guys are going to tease me about it……. 😉

    This happens with both parties and I think a lot of us, right, center and left are unhappy with our political choices right now. Obviously, there was outside (Hollywood) influence weighing on the donor side of both these bills (SOPA, PIPA) and if Democrats look stupid……I don’t care. I’d rather have the bills go away.

    “Excitable Andy” is okay with me, especially now that he’s lost his civil liberties creds. I was never that big of a fan anyway and I don’t like Obama puff pieces either.

    FDL, is a hornet’s nest for comments, but they still have some writers I enjoy reading so don’t give David Dayen a silly name or I might have to take matters into my own hands.

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    • I love reading “blue on blue” stuff, partisan hack that I am, it’s quite schadenbonerish. That being said, the FDL article amused me in that there was shock at Repulican resistance to helping an industry (Hollywood/Artists) that generally despise Republicans and, most importantly, never give Republican politicians campaign donations. Further, that the TeaParty, despite, apparantly being entirely Atstroturfed, has establishment Republicans terrified of them.

      The comments were hilarious in that they dismissed TeaPartiers as completely the astrturfed products funded 150% by the Koch brothers and therefore had NO influence over the Republicans and therefore it remains, seriously, a complete mystery as to why the so called TeaParty Congressmen and Senators are going off the reservation in not supporting an idustry that NEVER supports them. Apparantly, all corporations are the same.

      I mean, come on, that’s funny!

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      • “schadenbonerish”

        you’re on a roll today

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      • Of course it’s funny………I’m just trying to even things out….did you read Krauthammer today…lol

        I’m not quite sure anyone understands the Tea Party, I think you have to be one, to know one. That’s why I’m glad you’re here so you can explain it to me. What’s their attitude to NDAA, did they vote for it?

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      • Lms,

        In my group there is some angst over the NDAA but more interest in the pending economic calamity that we are facing vis a vis entitlement spending. The #2 animating issue is Federal Government seemingly unending encroachment on all areas of our lives. That’s where, as a subset, the NDAA comes in. Currently in Texas, we’re facing idiotic EPA regulations on the most dynamic part of our economy, as well as the country’s, the Energy industry. These new regulations are being implemented solely to punish the success of Texas and it’s energy industry. You can look to the coal industry as another example from President “Under my plan the price energy will necessarily skyrocket” Obama. 🙂

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    • NoVa,

      I’m here all week, tip your server and try the veal.

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    • I just liked the phrase “it’s FUCKING REPUBLICANS who are playing the heroes ” with FUCKING REPUBLICANS in all caps. It effectively captures the exasperation from Kos.

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  9. I like Wyden also. Here’s what he said after the vote on SOPA/PIPA was postponed.

    “We wouldn’t accept this enormous body blow to the architecture of the internet — a technological juggernaut for jobs, innovation, freedom of expression, and the like,” Wyden said. “Democratic progressive values are what the internet is all about. If you’re concerned about income equality or what Occupy Wall Street is talking about, the Internet is where you take on the moneyed interests. The Internet is the equalizer — the voice of the grassroots.”

    “What has happened in the last few weeks will permanently change the way citizens communicate with their government,” Wyden concluded. “This is a new day.”

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  10. lms, thanks for posting this link. I just sent it to an attorney friend of mine with whom I had lunch today. I spent almost the whole time railing about NDAA and the rest. (He’s a very patient man.) He’s taking a look at the NDAA language and I hope to hear his opinion (which I value highly) soon.

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    • Keep us posted on that. Hmmmmmmmmm, birthday lunch with a friend?

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    • Yup, a friend. Also friends with his wife. He and I worked together 25 years ago and ever since have met for lunch once a month. Our regularly scheduled lunch just happened to fall on my birthday this year. Yay, he of course picked up the tab in honor of the occasion although we usually go dutch.

      I was just looking at the NDAA votes. Coburn continues to astonish me. If you had told me just a few short years ago that in 2011/2012 I would consider him one of the few “rational” R senators, I would have laughed in your face. Of course, no surprise that Inhofe voted in favor. Without exception, all OK reps (including the lone D) voted in favor. Some ultra conservative reps (e.g., Joe Walsh) and sens (e.g., DeMint) voted against, I presume on a more libertarian or TP values basis? Not sure.

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      • Maybe they read the legislation, Okie. According to Adam Curry on No Agenda (he likes reading legislation), there was a lot of nonsense in there, including good old fashioned pork spending, some discussion of what constitutes the age of consent for statuatory rape in military (one section says 13, another 16) and striking previous language regarding military regulations against sodomy and bestiality.

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      • Mike, thanks for that link. I’ll check it out.

        Kevin, you are of course correct. There could be many reasons for a rep or sen to vote against NDAA that had nothing to do with indefinite detention, etc.

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    • okiegirl,

      While you wait for your attorney friend’s opinion, you might peruse the following link:

      NDAA guide by Ben Wittes

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  11. That got me interested to seeing the vote on the NDAA. Conference report was passed 283-136 in the House, Ds split 93 – 93. 86-13 in the Senate, with an interesting mix of “nays” — Coburn, Crapo, DeMint, Lee, Paul, Risch and Cardin, Durbin, Franken, Harkin, Merkley, Sanders, Wyden.

    Congressman Paul failed to vote on the NDAA.

    Thanks Mike, I was just thinking I should look up the vote. Only 43 R House members voted nay. Interesting re Paul although he was possibly campaigning? Franken, Merkley and Wyden are three of my favorite D Senators. I’d take one of those in CA.

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    • He’s introduced a bill to repeal part of the law. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3785

      i’m not sure why he missed the vote, but campaigning would be my guess too.

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    • Sen franken is interesting. Certainly not the silly liberal the local repubs paint him to be. Klobuchar is up this year & nobody’s yet stepped up to take her on. Probably gets 70% again.

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    • . Only 43 R House members voted nay.

      The majority of either party in DC believe in the expansion of the role, power, and money-consumption of government. There is just disagreement about process (giant new entitlements, or billion dollar underwater submarine docking stations in Washington and big new bases overseas) and how, and when.

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    • Lee undoubtedly was voting on Tea Party principles. . . interesting that Hatch didn’t follow in his footsteps, since he’s terrified of the threatened primary-ing that he’s going to be getting from the TP in the spring.

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  12. I started on a simple point by point (as if having a few marines defending the Iraq embassy is an offense against mother and apple pie) and came around to a simple you’re an ass conclusion. I don’t recall that anyone voted for Eugene McCarthy in 2008 and anyone who expected that should go find a pure candidate.

    What I found particularly rich was the author’s lather over transgressing over Congress’s power by, oh, signing a bill that Congress passed. [Must… …not… …make… …any… …sexual… …analogies…] Oh, and there’s a little thing out there called the Supreme Court. You know. Three branches?

    Along these lines, it’s total crapola to whine over millimeter wave imaging. Those scanners have been fuzzed to the point that it’s like picking up the late night soft-porn on Showtime static’d out if you don’t have the premium channel Some leftie suddenly getting into high dudgeon over such a scanner is moronic.

    BB

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  13. FB, It appears you’ve chosen the least offensive “transgressions”, which I agree are minimally problematic, to highlight and dismissed the rest. Am I wrong? I wish someone would explain it to me in a way that I understand why all of this “war on terror” slippery slope stuff is necessary or even not harmful. I want to vote for Obama, but I’m trying to figure out if I can. I can’t vote for a Republican and it’s pretty doubtful I’ll vote for someone like Gary Johnson and certainly not Ron Paul. I’ve been known to write in “none of the above”, but this election seems too important to play games with to me. Mostly what I’m doing here is just thinking out loud, which is probably not a great idea.

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  14. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you guys. But what’s your preference–Newt or Mitt or the guy who can channel Al Davis?

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  15. That was supposed to be me. Malfunction.

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  16. And that was supposed to be Al Green.

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    • Heh. 🙂

      Hi, ABC! I was trying to figure out what the Raiders’ dead owner had to do with it (“Just win, baby!”), , , did you see the clip of the Prez at the Apollo Thursday night?

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    • Haaaaaahaaaaaa

      Hi ABC, looks like none of us are very good sleepers, lol. I know, I know, if I don’t vote for Obama, someone else will win….lol. I’m in CA so I can pretty much vote for, or write in, just about anyone and Obama will still win. Like I said to FB above I’m mostly just thinking aloud here, because I can, and I’m trying to figure this out. Mark thinks the whole NDAA thing is a pretty big deal and I did too even before he weighed in but a few others like FB, if I understand his comment, don’t see it as a disqualifying issue. It’s an interesting dilemma, luckily we have 9 1/2 months to decide. 🙂

      The libertarians see an opening of course, I’m not naive, but the last thing I’m interested in is being pressured to vote for a libertarian….lol. But I will end up voting my conscience for good or ill.

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