Government says Government is illegal

An independent government committee has determined that the NSA program targeting American citizens is (surprise!) illegal.  obama-shepard-fairey-nsa-prism-1Well, most of the committee did — the two Bush appointees dissented.

Their report concluded that the collection of bulk phone records has provided only minimal protections at a huge cost to our freedoms.

Obama’s recent speech on this topic was about as weak as it could be.  He spoke of the need to have spies and intelligence gathering (which no one disagrees with) and tried to convince us all that therefore, this was not too great or unusual.   Admittedly, he also said the program should be cut back, but he wouldn’t go so far as to question the need for it in the first place.

The Bush people disagreed that the program was illegal (let us not forget that the program started under Bush, with his “Patriot” act) but did agree that it should be stopped nonetheless.

But seriously, the blame falls on all of government — Congress approved the Patriot Act, after all, and for Congress to now claim that they are shocked that the NSA is doing things they gave them permission to do is ridiculous.  Obama is also responsible.  He voted against the Patriot Act extension as a Senator but expanded it once he became President.  (Ironically, he has spoken of the need to cut it back once he’s out of office, with the pretentious idea that he can handle this but some other President couldn’t.)

Let’s hope this leads to the Supreme Court finding the Patriot Act unconstitutional.

Editorial cartoon of the day

Editorial cartoon of the day

The President who cried wolf?

Secretary of State John Kerry has presented evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, thus justifying our action.

All over the globe, people are saying, “Wait, haven’t we heard this before?”

When Colin Powell, on behalf of George W. Bush, assured us that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction, most of the world said, “Well, he’s the President of the United States. He wouldn’t lie about something like this.”

So now there is a lot of skepticism among our allies, which we deserve. (Thank you, GWB — the incompetence, dishonesty, and the damage caused by your Presidency continue to haunt us.)

There are some major differences between the two situations, though:

First, we have UN inspectors with evidence that chemical weapons were used, along with actual victims.

Second, and more importantly, we have a President who does not want to go to war. Bush and Cheney were looking for an excuse to go after Sadaam for a variety of reasons (“He wanted to kill my Dad,” “Halliburton will make a ton of money”, and so on).

Obama clearly does not want to get himself into another Iraq, especially in Syria where there are no good guys. He warned Assad not to use chemical weapons in the hopes of preventing such a disaster, but that didn’t work and now he’s painted himself into a corner where he has to react. He has stated more than once that this will be a drone-style attack without any “boots on the ground,” but to what end? Will this really accomplish anything?

A few days ago, I criticized Obama for acting without congressional approval. He’s a Constitutional scholar — he used to teach Constitutional Law at the Law School level — and whaddya know? He turned around yesterday and asked Congress for approval.

This was not only the right decision legally, but also politically. Congress is now stuck in the situation where Obama can deflect whatever blame comes his way. “Hey, you guys voted the way you did, and I followed your instructions,” he can reply if things go bad either way. Smart.

But maybe Congress and the world would have a more uniform view had George W. Bush not lied about Iraq. To quote GWB, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Obama Goes Against the Will of the People?

To those friends of mine who insist that Obama is some sort of fascist because he is going against “the will of the people”:

A majority of Americans support stricter gun control.

A majority of Americans support gay marriage.

A majority of Americans support keeping abortion legal.

A majority of Americans support Obamacare.

And, just in case it isn’t blatantly clear, a majority of Americans voted for Obama.

Now, you may disagree with these positions — and you have every right to do so — but you’re in the minority.  Sometimes the minority is right.   But when you’re in the minority, a claim that you represent “The Will of the People” just doesn’t cut it.

So cut it out.