It’s Tuesday, October 18th, 2011….and here’s the Gouge!
First up, it’s the “That’s ‘Liberal’….spelled H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E” segment, courtesy of the WSJ‘s William McGurn and….
The Contradictions of Harold Koh
The former Yale Law dean who hounded the Bush administration over its interrogation policies is now justifying drone strikes.
We forget it now, but there was a day, not so very long ago, when members of our most prestigious law schools and law firms feared that the government’s war on terror posed a graver threat to America than did al Qaeda.
Those were the dark days before Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office. Whether the issue was the detention of terrorists, the interrogation of terrorists, or the idea that we were even at war with terrorists, one man—John Yoo, formerly of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—was held singularly culpable. No one expressed these concerns more vehemently than a former professor of Mr. Yoo’s, Harold Koh, then dean of the Yale Law School.
What exercised Mr. Koh wasn’t merely that Mr. Yoo’s office had sanctioned waterboarding; it was the theory of executive authority behind his war advice. This theory Mr. Koh opposed with vigor, deporting himself in the manner of an Old Testament prophet.
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005, Mr. Koh spelled out where he believed Mr. Yoo’s logic was taking us. Mr. Yoo, he said, “grossly over-reads the inherent power of the president under the commander-in-chief power in Article II of the Constitution.” He went on to say that “if the president has the sole constitutional authority to sanction torture, and Congress has no power to interfere, it is unclear why the president should not also have unfettered authority to license genocide or other violations of fundamental human rights.”
Mr. Koh added that “If a client asks a lawyer how to break the law and escape liability, the lawyer’s ethical duty is to say no.”
That was then. This is now.
The former Yale Law dean who hounded the Bush administration over its interrogation policies is now in the business of justifying drone strikes. Now Mr. Koh is a legal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now the same Mr. Koh who assailed Mr. Yoo for his broad view of presidential authority has offered up his own justifications for an expansive executive power. These include the argument that we’re not really engaged in hostilities when we fire at Libya because the Libyans aren’t firing back.
Folks are noticing. An op-ed this summer in the New York Times says it is as if Mr. Koh “has torn off his team jersey, mid-game, and put on the other’s side’s.” A headline at the Volokh Conspiracy blog put it this way: “Is Harold Koh the Left’s John Yoo?”
This is unfair . . . to Mr. Yoo. Whether or not one agrees with him, Mr. Yoo has been consistent in his views—before he served, while he served, and after he served. In sharp contrast, the old Harold Koh would have eviscerated the Harold Koh who now offers ludicrous redefinitions of “war” and “hostilities” so he can get the policy conclusion he wants.
Of course Mr. Koh has plenty of company in the U.S. Department of Rank Opportunism. There’s Vice President Joe Biden, who once declared he would have Mr. Bush impeached if he attacked Iran without congressional approval. There’s Attorney General Eric Holder, who attacked detention without trial at Guantanamo but defends it at Bagram. Nor do we hear much from the Yale Law clinic that, during Dean Koh’s tenure, harassed Mr. Yoo with a lawsuit that is still making its way through the federal courts.
While we’re at it, how about the great moral question? During President Bush’s administration, three known terrorists were waterboarded, provoking much breast-beating. Today President Obama’s drone strikes kill many untargeted people; even with the best of precautions, these must include at least some innocent people.
Surely killing people is worse than waterboarding them. That’s especially true if they are guilty of no more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even for the guilty, where are our suddenly silent ethicists on the uncomfortable question: Are we going for the kill precisely to avoid the legal thicket that Mr. Koh helped create with regard to detention and interrogation?
For trying to define what was and what was not permitted under relevant domestic and international laws, Mr. Yoo’s writings were labeled the “torture memos.” In a March 2010 speech to the American Society of International Law, Mr. Koh did the same with the drone strikes. Should this be remembered as the “execution speech”?
As it happens, drone strikes and other Obama war decisions can be legally and morally justified. The problem, however, is that they are hard to justify based on the principles Mr. Koh so loudly advanced before he joined the Obama administration. The legal contortions Mr. Koh introduces in his defenses today as much as admit that.
It is eminently possible that a war might look one way from Yale and another way from Foggy Bottom. A public servant facing that reality has two honorable choices. If he found himself embracing authority he had once denounced others for defending, he would apologize to them. If he still believed his original positions, he would resign.
An honest man might at least acknowledge the contradiction.
Which is why the continued silence of Koh, as well as every other hypocritical member of Team Tick-Tock, is deafening!
But if history teaches us one thing, it’s that Liberalism, in any guise and by any name, has never made sense; consider the observations of French economist Frederic Bastiat in “That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen”, circa 1850, courtesy again of the WSJ:
I lose patience, I confess, when I hear this economic blunder advanced in support of . . . a project. “Besides, it will be a means of creating labor for the workmen.” The State opens a road, builds a palace, straightens a street, cuts a canal; and so gives work to certain workmen—this is what is seen: But it deprives certain other workmen of work, and this is what is not seen.
The road is begun. A thousand workmen come every morning, leave every evening, and take their wages—this is certain. If the road had not been decreed, if the supplies had not been voted, these good people would have had neither work nor salary there; this also is certain.
But is this all? Does not the operation, as a whole, contain something else? At the moment when M. Dupin pronounces the emphatic words, “The Assembly has adopted,” do the millions descend miraculously on a moon-beam into the coffers of MM. Fould and Bineau? In order that the evolution may be complete, as it is said, must not the State organize the receipts as well as the expenditure? Must it not set its tax-gatherers and tax-payers to work, the former to gather, and the latter to pay? . . .
The sophism which this work is intended to refute is the more dangerous when applied to public works, inasmuch as it serves to justify the most wanton enterprises and extravagance. When a railroad or a bridge are of real utility, it is sufficient to mention this utility.
Speaking of spending, as the Journal points out in the “Drunken Sailor” segment, while crying austerity, Washington’s actually been busy using your tax dollars to set….
A New Spending Record
Washington had its best year ever in fiscal 2011.
Maybe it’s a sign of the tumultuous times, but the federal government recently wrapped up its biggest spending year, and its second biggest annual budget deficit, and almost nobody noticed. Is it rude to mention this?
The Congressional Budget Office recently finished tallying the revenue and spending figures for fiscal 2011, which ended September 30, and no wonder no one in Washington is crowing. The political class might have its political pretense blown. This is said to be a new age of fiscal austerity, yet the government had its best year ever, spending a cool $3.6 trillion. That beat the $3.52 trillion posted in 2009, when the feds famously began their attempt to spend America back to prosperity.
What happened to all of those horrifying spending cuts? Good question. CBO says that overall outlays rose 4.2% from 2010 (1.8% adjusted for timing shifts), when spending fell slightly from 2009. Defense spending rose only 1.2% on a calendar-adjusted basis, and Medicaid only 0.9%, but Medicare spending rose 3.9% and interest payments by 16.7%.
The bigger point: Government austerity is a myth.
In somewhat better news, federal receipts grew by 6.5% in fiscal 2011, including a 21.6% gain in individual income tax revenues. The overall revenue gain would have been even larger without the cost of the temporary payroll tax cut, which contributed to a 5.3% decline in social insurance revenues but didn’t reduce the jobless rate.
The nearby table shows the budget trend over the last five years, and it underscores the dramatic negative turn since the Obama Presidency began. The budget deficit increased slightly in fiscal 2011 from a year earlier, to $1.298 trillion. That was down slightly as a share of GDP to 8.6%, but as CBO deadpans, this was still “greater than in any other year since 1945.”
Mull over that one. The Obama years have racked up the three largest deficits, both in absolute amounts and as a share of GDP, since Hitler still terrorized Europe. Some increase in deficits was inevitable given the recession, but to have deficits of nearly $1.3 trillion two years into a purported economic recovery simply hasn’t happened in modern U.S. history. Yet President Obama fiercely resisted even the token spending cuts for fiscal 2011 pressed by House Republicans earlier this year.
The table also shows how close the federal budget was to balance as recently as fiscal 2007, with a deficit as low as $161 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. Those are the numbers to point to the next time someone says that the Bush tax rates are the main cause of our current fiscal woes.
Under those same tax rates in 2007, the government raised $2.57 trillion in revenue but it spent only $2.73 trillion. Four years later, the government raised $265 billion less thanks to the tepid recovery, but it spent nearly $900 billion more thanks to the never-ending Washington stimulus.
The lesson for Congress’s super committee contemplating fiscal reform is that faster economic growth and spending restraint are the keys to reducing deficits. Higher taxes will hurt growth and feed a Washington spending appetite that is as voracious as ever, despite the claims of political sacrifice.
This reminds us of the time we were in Pomerado Hospital. The Lovely Jenny, going through labor with Jonathon, our first son, was experiencing the usual discomfort and pain which accompanied every contraction. A woman came through on a gurney screaming, quite literally, as if she’d just been gutted, causing TLJ to wonder aloud when she was going to reach that point.
We later found out not only was the woman not in labor; her contractions didn’t even register on the monitor. She was either possessed of an incredibly low tolerance to pain….or the discomfort was all in her mind.
Which brings us back to the subject at hand; if the Dims are screaming in austerity-induced agony now….when spending hasn’t even been cut, imagine their volume and tenor of their anguish when the real cutting begins!
Next up, Conn Carroll and the Morning Examiner shares our view regarding the accuracy of MSM reports of broad, nationwide support for the OWS movement:
Liberals Protest, America Yawns
Liberals are all excited, again, about another poll showing some support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. Quinnipiac University released a poll, yesterday, finding that, by a 67 – 23 percent margin, New York City voters “agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters.” (Note the pool of respondents: “New York City voters”) But do New Yorkers even know what those views are?
Doug Schoen, one of former President Bill Clinton’s pollsters, talked to nearly 200 OWS protesters and found that not only did virtually all of them, 98 percent, say they support civil disobedience, but nearly one-third, 31 percent, said they would support violence to advance their agenda. And contrary to an earlier Time Magazine poll that described the OWS movement as against “the government’s bank bailout,” Schoen found that 49 percent of OWS protesters thought the bailouts were “necessary. ”
The reality is that Americans really do not know what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about … if they even know it exists. Gallup found that 63 percent of Americans were unwilling to say whether or not they approved of the movement’s goals since they did not know what they are. In all, not even a quarter of Americans, 22 percent, said they support the protesters. For an average news story, 61 percent of Americans tell Gallup they are following the story closely. The OWS movement, at 56%, falls below that threshold.
The OWS movement simply is not as big, or as widespread, as the Tea Party movement was. Why Democrats are rushing to embrace them is a mystery.
Meanwhile, in the “Bottom Rail On Top” segment:
Cain Ahead of Obama in New General Election Poll
Businessman Herman Cainis leading President Obamain a new head-to-head poll, with seniors and independents taking a particular liking to Cain’s unconventional candidacy. The survey from Rasmussen Reportsshowed Cain squeaking ahead of Obama in a hypothetical general election contest, pulling in 43 percent compared with Obama’s 41 percent.
The lead is within the margin of error. But Cain is the only Republican to have any lead over Obama in head-to-head polls conducted by Rasmussen over the past several weeks.
Ruh roh, Rorge! Two aspects of a Cain presidency scare the beejeebers out of the MSM and the Angry Left; first, he’s a Conservative….and a Black Conservative at that. Second, given the ground rules they established for The Obamao, won’t any criticism of a President Cain’s policies or programs constitute….racism?!?
And in the Environmental Moment, some inter-connective insight into the OWS invasion, courtesy of Claire Mahoney and The Lonely Conservative:
Owner of Zuccotti Park Received Green Loan Guarantee from Obama Admin
It’s been a bit of a puzzle as to why the owners of Zuccotti Park that the Occupy Wall Street gang has taken over have allowed them to stay. They’re angering residents and pretty much stinking up the place. The owners have mentioned that the park is normally cleaned every night, but they have not been able to clean it in three weeks. Sanitation was “becoming an issue” a few days ago. Lord knows what it’s like now, I hear it’s pretty bad.
Could the fact that the parent company of Brookfield Properties received a “green energy” loan guarnateefrom the Obama administration for a New Hampshire wind farm have anything to do with it?
In the name of “green energy,” the Obama administration is using taxpayer money to subsidize a New Hampshire wind farm that is a subsidiary of a hugely profitable company.
New Hampshire’s largest wind farm, the Granite Reliable Power project under construction in Coos County, is jointly owned by BAIF Granite Holdings, LLC and Freshnet Wind Energy, LLC. BAIF owns 75 percent of Granite Reliable. BAIF Granite Holdings was created earlier this year by Brookfield Renewable Power, which is a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management of New York.
That company, which runs clean energy operations around the world, has deep pockets. It reported net income of $454 million in 2009 and $3.2 billion in 2010. Brookfield Renewable Power financed the creation of BAIF Granite Holdings from its Brookfield Americas Infrastructure fund, which was reported in February to have $2.7 billion in assets. With that kind of backing, it is curious that the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would guarantee up to 80 percent of a $168.9 million loan for the Granite Reliable wind farm project last week. (Read More)
Isn’t it curious that such a prosperous company would need loan guarantees from a bankrupt government? I guess not, when you realize that Joe Biden’s son is a partner in the lobbying firm Brookfield employed.
There’s much more to the story. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be up to the property owners to evict the filth from the park. His girlfriend is on the company’s board of directors, so perhaps he could have a word with he. And that’s not all.
Something stinks, and it isn’t just the unwashed protesters.
Coincidence?!? Perhaps, if this were the first such instance….instead of the four-thousandth….from what was to be the most transparent Administration in history!
On the Lighter Side….
Turning to the Entertainment Section, more TMI from another self-impressed actor who thinks anyone cares about their personal proclivities….
‘Star Trek’ Star Zachary Quinto Says He’s Gay
Well….anyone that is except….
Finally, in News of the Bizarre, courtesy of James Taranto and a band of experimental epicureans in the South Seas….
Australia’s Channel 9 brings us a grisly story from the South Pacific:
Forensic experts fear a missing German yachtsman was “hacked to pieces and burned” by cannibals while visiting a remote island in French Polynesia on the trip of a lifetime.
Ash remains, believed to be those of 40-year-old Hamburg man Stefan Ramin, have been found in a valley in Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.
News you can use: If you ever dine at a French Polynesian restaurant, don’t order the Hamburger.
Which begs the question….do we taste like chicken?!?