Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges...

The Bush administration's disregard for international law, domestic law and laws pertaining to the President has recently been exposed to public scrutiny.

Legal scholars have spent many a day arguing over whether the President is right or not but they are, with a few exceptions, opposed and appalled by the administration's contempt for any law that restricts their ability to act. Much of the administration's legal arguments have been formulated by a conservative lawyer who, until recently, remained unknown by those outside the legal sphere; John Yoo.

Yoo's work for the administration has received much publicity in light of the President's recent assertion that the Iraq Resolution signed by Congress gave him power to ignore the Fourth Amendment and turn the U.S.'s powerful intelligence apparatus inward.

An interesting history and analysis of the President's role and responsibility regarding international law and the strictures of war powers is up on the New York Review of Books. Georgetown law professor David Cole presents an interesting synopsis of the pertinent law and gives his analysis of the situation.

Cole has publicly come out against the administration's legal positions, but his recount of the history and where the President stands in relation to the framers of the Constitution and established law is important.

- Murphy

Monday, December 19, 2005

Heading down the Eastern seaboard

One of the great resources for thoughtful analysis of subjects ranging from history to literature, to politics and people is weighing anchor and heading South (Via Romanesko).

The Atlantic magazine has called Boston, MA its home for 148 years. Its next edition, however, will be postmarked Washington, D.C.

The sometimes eclectic and always enlightening magazine has been a favorite of mine for many years. It's the one subscription I actually keep up with.

It is not a news magazine, but a intelligent and incisive journal of America; its stories and its history. Storytelling is preferred over speed.

Its inception set a high standard to which it has striven to maintain. A publication initially conceived of by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes has quite the birthright to aspire to.

This past week, the Boston Phoenix reported on a farewell affair held last week at the Harvard Club. Members of the publication, both present and past, gathered to express reservations and remembrances on the eve of the publications relocation.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes. Many of the current employees including its current managing editor, Cullen Murphy, will not be joining The Atlantic in its new home.

- Murphy

Did I mention 9/11?

The most-oft repeated comment about the President's recent PR pushback was that he has departed from type by taking responsibility for the intelligence failures, admitting planning mistakes and even taking a question or two (though they went, effectively unanswered).

The President's recent efforts, culminating in Sunday's Oval office address (his first since announcing the beginning of the Iraq War 2-1/2 years ago), have been designed to give the impression that the war in Iraq and the anti-terrorist efforts has been subject to continuous review; that problems have been dealt with behind closed doors, but policy changes must remain secret.

Yet despite changing his public attitude from petulantly dismissive to begrudgingly contrite, there is little in the Bush Administration's policy to support the view that anything has changed. In fact, in the face of public criticism, the administration has withdrawn behind the cloak of the imperial executive.

The administration's propensity for lashing out at its opponents, combined with an increasingly bold disregard for the Constitutional separation of powers, presents an even more disconcerting challenge. Our law enforcement can track down and arrest domestic threats, our military can flatten military opponents around the globe. Yet the very freedoms and principles those two examples of U.S. power are designed to protect may be under threat from within.

An administration that believes it must have unfettered use of force and unrestricted intelligence investigations (domestic and foreign) is one that threatens the U.S. role in the world. The
U.S. is the gold standard for freedom and power in the world. It stems form an absolute dedication to the protection of our basic rights as citizens. That freedom expresses itself in political action, commerce and even military strength.

The Constitution not only confers on us the freedoms we enjoy, but it also charges us with their protection. To tolerate violations of our rights for short-term, tactical gains, sets us on the ultimate slippery slope.

- Murphy

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fine line

In '06 and '08, immigration will be linked closely to national defense and law and order, two areas where Republicans poll very well. Yet they will have to keep the ranks in line because too often the darker, nationalist and somewhat racist sides of the immigration debate come to light.

From Hotline: " the immigration debate, many GOP pollsters and strategists and big thinkers believe that independent voters, especially women, and nearly all Latino voters, interpret "preserving national identity" as a code word for "keeping America white and Christian."

- Murphy

Norquist: I didn't hear any boom

Charlie Rose allowed Grover "Drown it in the bathtub" Norquist to get away with the claim that the record surpluses created during the Clinton presidency was the result of the Republican-controlled House passing a cut on the capital gains tax.

I guess he didn't notice the enormouse boom in the tech sector. A boom which created an entirely new market and in turn created jobs and taxable income. A boom driven not by tax cuts, but a leap forward in technology and a concentration of intellectual capital.

Government subsidies in the research in universities and in tech companies combined with a policies that drew foreign students to study in the U.S. played a major role in positioning the U.S. to take advantage of the leap.

Using Norquist's assertion, you could just as easily say that the tax cuts encouraged reckless investment leading to the tech bubble.

Norquist's anti-tax crusade is little more than a political crowbar to beat Republicans into line. Overtaxation does occur, but a greater problem is misuse of funds. Cutting back on multi-million dollar pork projects for Republican House members would free up more money for effective programs thus make room for some tax reductions.

- Murphy

Roy Blunt to Republicans: I'll stay here if you don't mind

Hotline reports that Rep. Roy Blunt doesn't think the Republican's should distract themselves with a vote to replace Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) as the leader of the House Republican Leader, a seat Blunt is currently keeping war for Mr. Delay.

If the list of Republicans looking to move up the ladder is any indication, Blunt may have to abdicate the leadership position and run like everyone else.

- Murphy