Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jack Kelly decides which laws *he* cares about ...

Today Jack Kelly calls the President a lawbreaker. Well, anyone reading my posts knows I have been referencing Glenn Greenwald so in some sense I agree with Kelly. But Kelly starts his column suggesting that Obama is the biggest lawbreaker since Richard Nixon, and that's where I immediately diverge with Kelly. We had a President immediately before this one whose advisers invoked the concept of the "Unitary Executive", virtually making the President a king.

Now, Greenwald might agree in general with Kelly, although I suspect he would scoff at Kelly's details. Apparently all Presidents generally consider the War Powers act to be unconstitutional in its details. Never the less, I suspect most Americans now, having suffered through ten years of Middle Eastern war, feel that maybe it is time to invoke the War Powers act and rein in those wars. So it is a complicated issue, but most everyone would have to agree that President Obama has violated the letter of the law in US action in Libya.

Past that, Kelly starts picking and choosing his attacks on Obama, complaining that Obama is issuing illegal instructions to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency not to aggressively pursue college students or immigrants with relatives in the military. Also Kelly complains about civil rights enforcement issues, the General Motors bailout, whatever moratorium on offshore drilling may or may not actually exist or had existed and finally waivers granted for the healthcare legislation. Now, I am not a lawyer and am not so familiar with these situations that I can say categorically that these are or are not a case of a law being broken. I will say I think Kelly is blowing smoke up our collective ... um, behinds.

What Kelly doesn't say about Obama is Obama's continuation of Bush's domestic surveillance programs and the Obama Justice Department's strong attacks on whistle blowers. I assume that's because Kelly is not willing to complain about these things because doing so would also indict Bush. You know, healthcare waivers could be important, but I think people get really upset if they think the government is spying on them 24/7, or that if they see a (financial) crime and report it, that they might end up going to jail instead of the boss or co-worker that committed the crime.

It seems to me like a lot of Presidents skirt the edge of the laws on various issues. Obama has done his share of this, and they may hurt him politically (along with other things like his seeming willingness to compromise/cooperate with Republicans), but I think comparing Obama to Nixon ignores the other elephant in the room, George W Bush. Interesting who Kelly chooses to ignore.

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