HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015 01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015 03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015 05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015 06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015 07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015 08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015 11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015 12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016 01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016 02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016 03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016 04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016 05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016 06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016 07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016 08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016 09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016 10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016 11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016 12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 08, 2015

 
The evolution of a Deep State president

by digby

If you read nothing else today, read this interview by Elias Isquith at Salon with the NY Times' Charlie Savage about his new book. It's about Obama's evolution from when he ran for president and seemed to be skeptical of the national security state to his later embrace of it. An excerpt:

All right. So then Christmas Day, 2009, happens; the so-called underwear bomber. You argue that this was a big, big deal within the White House — bigger than many outsiders appreciate. Why was this failed attack so important?

That was a turning point for Obama. He’d already had some compromises and encountered things that were sort of harder in the real world than they seemed on the campaign trail, but he was basically on track to be doing what he wanted to do — or what he thought he wanted to be doing — coming out of that first year.

And then, on Christmas, 2009, an al Qaeda terrorist operative from Yemen — well, east of Nigeria, but fed by IEC, the mini-affiliate of al Qaeda — nearly brings down a jetliner above Detroit. It would have killed almost 300 people on American soil, on [Obama’s] watch. And so, number one, that’s a gut-wrenching moment; it was only sheer luck that the bomb didn’t go off. It was not that the system they put in place worked.

And then, the fallout from that was also tremendously important. Republican critiques that he was dismantling some of the things that Bush had put into place suddenly got a lot sharper; and the sense was, if there was another attack, and if it succeeded, the blood would be on his hands. And then underscoring all that is that Scott Brown, a Republican, wins Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in deep-blue Massachusetts.

Right. That usually doesn’t get mentioned in this story. It’s usually seen as a major development in the story of the Affordable Care Act; not counter-terrorism policy. Why did it matter in that latter context, though?

The media at that time was portraying [Brown’s victory] as a reaction to Obamacare, but inside the Scott Brown campaign, the polls showed that it was really the terrorism issue that he got the most traction on. He was pounding on Obama and on his Democratic opponent for treating terrorists as criminals, for the fact that the underwear bomber had been read his Miranda warning and was being interrogated by the FBI and charged [in civil court] because Obama and Eric Holder wanted to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects from Guantanamo to New York and give them a civilian trial.

Brown kept pounding on the idea that these are terrorists and we shouldn’t give them these rights; and even in Massachusetts, at that moment, there was a certain wave of fear from the underwear bomber rolling across the country. It really resonated — and, suddenly, a Republican had won a Senate seat in Massachusetts. So inside the Obama administration, [it came to be believed that if] there is another attack, and it actually succeeds, Obama will be a failed, one-term president. He’ll lose, just like Jimmy Carter; and everything he came in there to do, including things that have nothing to do with national security, would fail.

The way events — the near-miss human disaster on Christmas Day, the political disaster of Scott Brown’s victory — dictated Obama’s actions, it raises one of the central questions of his presidency, which you talk about in the book. Namely, did he normalize the post-9/11 national security state? Or was he swept along with it?

It can’t be reduced to a single bumper sticker [answer]; and there were things that he did before the underwear attack that did have the effect of entrenching aspects of [the Bush response to 9/11]. But there was a kind of an ambivalence, or an imbalance, [in the White House] between the reformers and those who more or less represented the security state interests. And after the Christmas attack, the balance between those voices shifted dramatically, and the administration starts taking a much harder line as these debates continue to play out in the months and years to come.

The voices that are saying, “We need this surveillance tool” or “We’d better not let this person out of Guantanamo” — they have much more sway in the internal meetings. And the people who are saying, “We can dismantle this; we can be less secretive; we can do this; we can do that” in a reform perspective, they have less sway. Because the political context has changed dramatically.

So then Obama ends up locked into the dynamic we’ve seen for much of the rest of his presidency; civil liberties groups are mad at him from one end of the spectrum, while the neoconservative, unreconstructed Cheneyites rail against him from the other. I think most people at this point are familiar with the civil liberties folks’ criticism, as well as that of the Cheneyites. And they know Obama’s usual responses to the neoconservatives; but what was his pushback to civil liberties groups usually like?

I think that to an extent [he felt that] some of his critics on the left were in the business of criticizing whatever the government is doing from an individual rights perspective; so even when things got adjusted [to their liking] they just sort of moved the goal post. I know that a lot of officials in his government feel that way.

But also I think he generally had this lawyerly mindset that held that the main problem with Bush was that Bush put policies in place unilaterally. He said that, as Commander-in-Chief, he could violate statutes; and that’s what Obama thought was especially overreaching and out of hand. He felt that when you have a president who is not doing that, but is acting pursuant to Congressional authority, he shouldn’t be considered Bush-like. And that actually raises a broader theme of the book, which is that the Bush and Obama presidencies were very different in a lot of ways, despite these policy continuities between them, and one of their greatest differences concerned the metric of lawyerism.

One of the most interesting insights Savage elucidates is this idea that there were always two different arguments against the Bush national security atrocities. One was that they were wrong, period. The other was that they were wrong because they were executive power grabs and should have gone through congress. Even the iraq war had this split with some opponents saying it was daft on the merits and others objecting because Bush failed to get UN approval.

I have always called this "the process dodge" which allows people to seem opposed to something without actually taking a stand. A lot of politicians do this --- it's the easy way out. It's not that it's right for presidents to commit the nation to war without congressional approval,or to circumvent the law to do i but the truth is that its's extremely rare for congress not to approve a war and a president can almost always gin up enough fear and anger to get them to legalize whatever they did after the fact. Relying on that argument means you never have to make the case against the war itself.

You can see where this leads. You may recall that even when Obama was running he voted to legalize the NSA's warrantless wiretapping.

.