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June 17, 2010

Obama: Where Rhetoric Meets Reality

Brutal, but funny in a sad sort of way:

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I could sit back and watch people like Jon Stewart all day. They still don't get it.

The recurring theme of Obama's campaign was, "With the right person in charge, even complex problems have easy and cost free solutions."

The recurring theme of Obama's presidency is, "No matter who's in charge, there are no easy or cost free solutions."

Posted by Cassandra at June 17, 2010 07:41 AM

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Comments

The problem is Stewart honestly believes that the problem is the power. When in fact, the problem is the fact that the world is not the shiny happy place he thinks it is. Hey Mr. Stewart... maybe the problem isn't that he loves the power, maybe it's that he's learned something you didn't know when he took office. Maybe "Barack from the Block" talked a good game, because he hadn't learned the rules yet. Now that he's got the real information, he realizes that everything's not quite so simple.

Now, I'll admit, I get a chortle out of their disappointment that BO is "just like GWB" when it comes to these matters. But on the issues of national security, I actually support the President's policy.

Posted by: MikeD at June 17, 2010 09:49 AM

I think people elected Obama because they actually believed his abstract theories about what was possible (i.e., they believed that a smart leader would somehow change the fundamental risk/benefit calculation inherent in any decision).

The problem is that this isn't true. A smart leader might may different decisions if he's willing to face the consequences of those decisions. But remember: Obama promised that there wouldn't BE any negative consequences to the courses of action he proposed.

We can have security without compromising liberty.

We can provide health care to more people at less cost.

We can make health insurance more expensive to provide without providers passing the increased cost along to consumers.

You can keep your current health care plan.

The problem is that all decisions involve tradeoffs.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 17, 2010 10:00 AM

"all decisions involve tradeoffs"..and you learn that when you are in a job that involves making decisions and living with the consequences....if you're a farmer or an engineer or a factory manager. But if you're a writer or an academic (other than real scientists) or a politician in a legislative rather than an executive position, you may genuinely fail to grasp this point at an instinctive level.

Posted by: david foster at June 17, 2010 10:57 AM

Actually, you don't seem to get it.

HCR was an issue you didn't like which Obama campaigned on. He didn't lose your vote or support when HCR passed because he never had it to begin with. Just like the Louisiana poll you posted about earlier, white Louisiana voters didn't vote for him before the oil leak and they won't vote for him in 2012. Obama has lost nothing on the electoral front based on that poll.

Where he is in danger of losing support is among those who didn't want presidents to have tyrannical powers to begin with precisely because once you give a president those powers, whoever is president will be more than a little unwilling to give them back.

Sadly, supposedly "limited government" conservatives don't mind Obama continuing W's atrocities so there is no right-wing noise machine engagement on this issue.

I'm glad Jon Stewart took up the baton from Rachel Maddow on this. Obama needs to know that the people who voted for him are still paying attention.

Posted by: Craig at June 17, 2010 12:07 PM

Sadly, you don't seem to realize that many o the things you consider "atrocities" under Bush were either a) things that we opposed even THEN as "limited government" (nice scare quotes by the way) conservatives FOR THAT VERY REASON, or b) things we then - and now under Obama - support, because they are not in the overall scheme of things, atrocities, or even unreasonable.

Just because we supported more of GWB's decisiions on things than Obama's does not make us inconsistent or hypocritical re: our principles.

Posted by: Darius at June 17, 2010 12:17 PM

Darius, you ignorant slut :p

You don't understand: by imputing positions conservatives don't support to us and then pointing out that (who'da thunk it) we still don't support them under Obama (or by ignoring the fact that we supported certain policies under Bush and - surprise! - still support them under Obama) it becomes possible to accuse us of rank hypocrisy.

Because we're not acting in accordance with things we don't believe. Get it?

Nice straw man.

Craig, the other day I had planned to list all of the things Obama has assured us were either his "#1 priority as soon as he took office" or that he said were "his #1 priority now".

It's a long list.

I've never quite understood how a President can have 5 or 6 "#1 priorities" at the same time but then he is The Lightworker :p

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 17, 2010 12:42 PM

re: Where he is in danger of losing support is among those who didn't want presidents to have tyrannical powers to begin with precisely because once you give a president those powers, whoever is president will be more than a little unwilling to give them back.

This, at least, is an intellectually honest position, Craig.

However, it isn't what I'm hearing from most of the Leftosphere. What I'm seeing is a whole lot of "when Bush did X it was wrong, scary, and bad b/c we didn't trust Bush but when Obama does X it is good because we trust him."

Your position I can respect. And I hope you will note that I haven't criticized Obama for exercising powers I thought Bush was justified in exercising.

I HAVE criticized Obama for campaigning on the premise that the President had no business exercising those powers AT ALL and then proceeding to claim them for himself once he took office. That was wrong, dishonest, and irresponsible.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 17, 2010 12:47 PM

I'll agree that I didn't think that President Bush's policies became atrocities just because Obama adopted them. We're only talking here about the spectacle of a man who didn't understand why they were good policies when he was making empty speeches decrying them, and who now adopts them without even the grace of admitting he was ignorantly mistaken.

Limited government doesn't mean no government. Not every example of support for appropriate government is evidence of hypocrisy in a small-government enthusiast. It's necessary to think harder than that. It's more a question of how readily you leap from a problem to the conclusion that only an expanded government can solve it, without trying other approaches.

Beware people who talk about "false choices" without seeming to be able to come to grips with the idea of costs and who will bear them. If I want a piece of cake, but I also want the financial security in old age that may come from saving and investing the price of the cake instead, the only way I turn that into a false choice is to make somebody else pay for the cake I plan to eat.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 17, 2010 12:47 PM

Sadly, supposedly "limited government" conservatives don't mind Obama continuing W's atrocities so there is no right-wing noise machine engagement on this issue.

I speak for no one but me. And seeing as how I'm a limited government conservative (with strong libertarian leanings), I feel directly targeted by this comment and relish the chance to respond.

You seem to believe that "limited government" means "the government does nothing". While I do hold the government that governs least governs best, I also am enough of a realist to recognize that there are things that only a government can do.

Lucky for us, those things are codified in the US Constitution. It expressly lays out the limited powers that we citizens have granted to the government, and specifies in the Tenth Amendment that any powers not strictly granted to the Federal government or strictly forbidden to the States will belong to the States AND THE PEOPLE. The limited government I seek is one that recognizes those limits and stays within them. Not one governed by fool who don't care what the Constitution says. I don't mind if the Constitution only protects American citizens, because we're the ones who gave up some manner of personal control in order to benefit from the protection and services of the government. Those from other countries, and ESPECIALLY those who seek to destroy us, do not and should not have equal rights to US citizens.

Posted by: MikeD at June 17, 2010 01:50 PM

Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq.,

There has been plenty of complaining about the DoJ's actions on Miranda and Bagram/renditions in the left-o-sphere, although not recently due to the Gulf catastrophe. I suggest reading Glenn Greenwald over at Salon more often. Of course, the Daily Show/Rachel Maddow are considered to be prominent members of the extreme left-wing, librul media I hear so much about.

Have Hannity/Limbaugh/O'Rielly/Beck attacked Obama for continuing Bush's policies? I think that would ruin their meme that Obama is a communoislamofascist Nazi Kenyan who intends to implement sharia law.

Posted by: Craig at June 17, 2010 01:58 PM

. . . what?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 17, 2010 03:49 PM

Have Hannity/Limbaugh/O'Rielly/Beck attacked Obama for continuing Bush's policies? I think that would ruin their meme that Obama is a communoislamofascist Nazi Kenyan who intends to implement sharia law.

*sigh*

First of all, I have no idea what Hannity, Limbaugh, or Beck are saying. Don't watch them.

O'Reilly is not a reich winger and frequently not only takes up for Obama but takes on people who say he's a socialist.

Try getting your facts straight - throwing O'Reilly in with the rest of that crew demonstrates a profound disregard for the facts. FWIW, I'm not an O'Reilly fan either, but I have watched him often enough to know he's anything but a right winger.

What is the deal with trying to tar the right in general with the most far right voices out there?

You don't see me yammering on about Maddow do you? When I say "the Leftosphere", I mean the very large variety of lefty blogs I see linked every single day at Memeorandum. I realize that playing "j'accuse!" with regard to Limbaugh et al. is satisfying on some deep emotional level, but it's so far off base here that I can't figure out why anyone would bother.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 17, 2010 03:58 PM

"[W]hat has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny – our determination to fight for the America we want for our children, even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like,” Obama said.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38589_Page2.html#ixzz0r9azHG7H

This takes "we are the ones we've been waiting for" to a new metaphysical level. "We're fighting for a vision that we don't even know what it is, but it arouses a strong sense of determination." Does he pay someone to write him into circles like this?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 17, 2010 07:00 PM

Anything that calls people's attention to Obama's inequities is OK with me.

Posted by: camojack at June 18, 2010 03:43 AM

"We're fighting for a vision that we don't even know what it is, but it arouses a strong sense of determination" answered the migrating lemmings before they marched into the sea.

Wasn't his eloquence his primary campaign selling point?

Oh, wait.

His primary campaign selling point was that he wasn't Bush...

Posted by: BillT at June 18, 2010 04:33 AM

Cass,

My prior comment was about the right wing noise machine, that's why I mentioned Limbaugh, et al. I'm not trying to "tar the right" at all. They do a great job of that all by themselves. Yesterday's criticism of Obama for "shaking down" BP followed by Barton's apology/non-apology/retraction to BP was a great example of that.

But, since you mention it, has anyone at Red State, etc. taken Obama to task for continuing Bush's policies?

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 07:36 AM

Funny that you should mention Obama and BP.

Wasn't it just yesterday that you were chiding us for being insufficiently wary of the expansion of Presidential power?

...Against that backdrop, forcing BP to take a $20 billion bath — even before the inevitable lawsuits are filed — seemed an easy decision. Mr. Obama had no legal basis for the demand, but concluded he did not need one. “He had a power other presidents have used ....

Ah. "Other presidents have used it!" It must be OK then, for the President of the United States to use his office to do something with no legal justification!

Because we all know that any ordinary citizen would have been laughed out of the room for trying that sort of thing. Of course when the President overreaches his authority to do things we approve of, it's not dangerous, is it?

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 18, 2010 08:12 AM

And as far as Red State, I don't know and don't particularly care. I'm sure it's a wonderful blog but I don't read it.

If you do, surely you know the answer to that question?

I'm answerable for what I say and do here at VC. There are a million (literally) plus bloggers out there - it seems a bit much to expect me to monitor them all much less answer for what they do.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 18, 2010 08:14 AM

It's like this for me. One week I'm in a carpool whose driver mostly suits me. He does have a mildly annoying habit of tailgating, but it's not too bad and I confine myself to mentioning it occasionally when he gets too close. Every morning that week we get to work in one piece.

The next week we have a new driver. He also tailgates. I find I'm not spending much time complaining about it, because he also runs the car into the ditch every mile or so, the engine's on fire, and he's brought several children with him who keep pulling my hair and throwing my briefcase out the window while he chuckles indulgently and says, "Now, kids." I haven't stopped resenting the tailgating, I'm just busy.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 18, 2010 09:04 AM

Yesterday's criticism of Obama for "shaking down" BP followed by Barton's apology/non-apology/retraction to BP was a great example of that.

Mistake to bring that out up, Craig. It was nothing more than a shakedown. He threatened a foreign owned corporation with potential legal action unless they "volunteered" to create a slush fund of $20,000,000,000 (that's 20 BILLION dollars) to settle POTENTIAL damage claims that the US government (i.e. the Administration) would dole out. That's the equivalent of "nice store you got here, it'd be a shame if something happened to it."

The President of the United States extorted money from BP. And you cannot realistically claim otherwise. No law was passed that would allow this extra-judicial seizure of funds from a foreign corporation, no legal finding of damages has yet occurred. This was strong-arm extortion, and OUR GOVERNMENT did it.

Now, if you can show me the statute or Constitutional power the President bases this action on, I'd be happy to apologize. But until then, this is nothing more than theft by intimidation.

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 09:40 AM

Craig's perfectly fine with extortion. It's how he rolls.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 18, 2010 10:53 AM

Course, Craig would do better to focus on how to distinguish true stories from false ones. It'd prevent most of the Nigerian email scams from getting him. Even though it won't be nearly as satisfactory as making a run for "Toy Story" or what he calls other right wing fictions.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 18, 2010 10:55 AM

I haven't stopped resenting the tailgating, I'm just busy.

He's just scared and wants to get close to you so he can be protected. Right?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 18, 2010 10:58 AM

Cass,

You said the left-o-sphere wasn't criticizing Obama for continuing his abuse of Miranda/rendition. I simply asked if you knew if the right-o-sphere was doing it because I honestly do not know if they are.

As far as the "shakedown" accusation goes, that was merely an act of good will on BP's part to try and save their financial necks. According to Bloomberg, it is estimated that the cleanup will actually cost around $40,000,000,000 and BP could actually be banned from doing business in the US as a result of their awful five year string of accidents and disasters in the U.S.

link:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-18/bp-s-u-s-future-teeters-after-ceo-lawmakers-clash-update1-.html?om_rid=NGutud&om_mid=_BMG2mmB8Lr6796&

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 11:16 AM

Again, regarding the shakedown accusation, did any one at BP claim they were shaken down by Obama?

I thought Obama was a limp-wristed librul with zero ability to kick anyone's ass.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 11:21 AM

As far as the "shakedown" accusation goes, that was merely an act of good will on BP's part to try and save their financial necks.

First time I've ever heard paying protection money described as "an act of good will."

Except, of course, by the "protectors"...

Posted by: BillT at June 18, 2010 11:37 AM

Again, has anyone at BP complained about being shaken down?

Anyone at all?

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 11:39 AM

MikeD,

You said:

"No law was passed that would allow this extra-judicial seizure of funds from a foreign corporation, no legal finding of damages has yet occurred. This was strong-arm extortion, and OUR GOVERNMENT did it.

"Now, if you can show me the statute or Constitutional power the President bases this action on, I'd be happy to apologize. But until then, this is nothing more than theft by intimidation."

But earlier in this post, you said:

"Those from other countries, and ESPECIALLY those who seek to destroy us, do not and should not have equal rights to US citizens."

So you are saying the president has the god-given right to imprison and torture foreign human citizens but does not have the right to extort money from foreign corporate citizens, right?

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 11:47 AM

Nope. The victim never calls the authorities when the shakedown artist *is* the authorities.

BTW, has Rahm Emmanuel vacated the rent-free digs his BP landlord "loaned" him?

Posted by: BillT at June 18, 2010 11:50 AM

Hoist on my own petard. Except for the fact that 39% of BP shareholders (i.e. the OWNERS of the company) are US Citizens. But you are correct. Specifying that BP was a foreign corporation was both unnecessary and does weaken my argument. But to be honest, I would be MUCH more upset with the shakedown if it was a US based corporation than I am with it being a British based one.

But essentially, yes... I am indeed saying I have less problems with people engaged in armed conflict against this country being denied American due process than I do with a lawful business which CAN STILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE under existing US law being criminally extorted.

Why the distinction? Because the POTUS has a Constitutional power and obligation as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to defend the country against foreign powers that wish to murder its citizens. And because the only international convention that covers those captured in the course of those duties (i.e. the Geneva Conventions) let us summarily execute said people, then yes... I have no problem with detaining them until such time as they are deemed no longer a threat and holding no actionable intelligence AND RELEASED NOT A MINUTE SOONER. Given that the legal alternative is we can just shoot them, I'm surprised you're against holding them.

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 12:22 PM

So you are saying the president has the god-given right to imprison and torture foreign human citizens but does not have the right to extort money from foreign corporate citizens, right?

Does he have the power (not right, gov't doesn't have rights) to imprison a random foreign national? No. He does not. Not because the foreign national enjoys Constitutional rights, but because the Constitution does not grant the POTUS the power to do so.

Does he have the right to imprison a foreign national captured during a congressionally authorized military engagement? Yes. He does. The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare wars and the POTUS to prosecute that war. Those captured during such engagement are therefor legitimately imprisoned.

The torture issue in the former case is moot as the imprisonment prerequisite is already unconstitutional.

In the latter, legally speaking, it's a matter of treaty, not ConLaw. The Constitution mentions nothing about the treatment of battlefield captures one way or another. And since Al Qaida is not a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and does not adhere in any way shape or form to it, their "soldiers" likewise are not in any way shape or form protected by it. Legally, they can be summarily executed.

So unless congress declares war against BP the POTUS is overstepping his bounds.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 18, 2010 12:32 PM

Last time I checked, nobody had the right to extort money. It's. Against. The. Law.

Posted by: DL Sly at June 18, 2010 12:40 PM

So the POTUS can simply declare BP a terrorist organization that is determined to cause harm within the US, as evidenced by BP's "accidents" over the last 5 years, and PRESTO! we can start shooting/imprisoning/torturing BP execs/employees on sight.

I guess Obama really did "shakedown" BP, afterall.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 12:40 PM

I anxiously await the discovery of the document that says BP tried to obtain yellow cake from Niger.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 12:43 PM

Craig:

Putting words in people's mouths is not an argument.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 18, 2010 12:49 PM

Cass,

I am being facetious, of course.

It is simply amazing to me the lengths that some people will go to to defend a multinational corporation that has repeatedly caused tremendous damage to the US through outright deliberate negligence.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 01:03 PM

Craig:

Defending a multinational corp (which I haven't actually seen anyone do here) and saying that a specific action against them was unlawful - and a dangerous misapplication of executive power to boot - are two entirely different things.

Capiche?

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 18, 2010 01:15 PM

Oh, and dude....

Don't make me unleash a righteous can of Ghetto Atty Whoopass on your progressive heiny!!!!

*running away* :)

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 18, 2010 01:16 PM

It is simply amazing to me the lengths that some people will go to to defend a multinational corporation that has repeatedly caused tremendous damage to the US through outright deliberate negligence.

Weren't you just scolded for trying to put words in other people's (virtual) mouths?

Show me where I "defended" BP. They are most likely criminally negligent in this case, and most certainly OUGHT to be held legally and financially responsible. That does not excuse extortion! Is that clear? Or were you being "facetious" there as well?

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 01:20 PM

Put another way:

"Why are you going to such extremes to defend terrorists? Do you hate America that much?"

Annoying, isn't it? Don't do it to me either.

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 01:22 PM

LOL!

Cass,

The supposed unlawful action, AKA the "shakedown", has not been proven to have actually occurred.

And what exactly is a Ghetto Atty., anyways?

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 01:22 PM

The supposed unlawful action, AKA the "shakedown", has not been proven to have actually occurred.

Really?!?!? Mind showing me how that negative was "proven"? More to the point, got a link or are you just making that claim?

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 01:51 PM

And what exactly is a Ghetto Atty., anyways?

A Lexington Avenue Legal Beagle.

A De-troit Darrow.

A Motown Mouthpiece.

A Perry Mason of the Projects.

A Home-Boy Barrister.

Dig?

Posted by: BillT at June 18, 2010 02:34 PM

So the POTUS can simply declare BP a terrorist organization

Well, when 1) Congress gives the POTUS the go-ahead to invade Britain and 2) Tony Hayward starts issuing orders to bomb some more oil rigs, sure.

Until then, I think you are trying to equate Alaska and Aruba because they both start with "A".

It is simply amazing to me the lengths that some people will go to to defend a multinational corporation that has repeatedly caused tremendous damage to the US through outright deliberate negligence.

So you are saying that it's perfectly OK to throw out the rules so long as the bad guy is a foreign corporation which negligently hurts Americans, but throwing out the rules when the bad guys are foreign people who intentionally murder Americans is inappropriate.

In other words, it's OK when *you* do it. And you accuse *us* of hypocrisy?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 18, 2010 02:59 PM

MikeD,

You are absolutely correct. You are not "defending" BP.

You are, however, somewhat more inclined to extend constitutionally-protected, legal guarantees to a non-living, non-US entity with deep pockets and an army of lawyers and lobbyists than you are to a living, breathing non-US entity caught up in the fog of endless war with nowhere near such resources.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 03:14 PM

You are, however, somewhat more inclined to extend constitutionally-protected, legal guarantees to a non-living, non-US entity with deep pockets and an army of lawyers and lobbyists than you are to a living, breathing non-US entity caught up in the fog of endless war with nowhere near such resources.

No, I am MUCH more inclined to extend constitutionally-MANDATED, legal guarantees to a non-living, PARTIALLY-US entity with deep pockets and an army of lawyers and lobbyists than you are to a living, breathing non-US human being caught up on the battlefield engaging in armed conflict with nowhere near such resources.

The reason? Because one is not attempting the armed overthrow/brutal murder of American citizens and the other is. The former is almost certainly legally and financially responsible for damages they've inflicted through criminal negligence. The latter is being treated far better than our international treaty obligations require us to.

Again, the Geneva Conventions only require that we establish (however we like) that the person in question is an illegal combatant (as defined by the convention) and at that point, we can summarily execute them. Would you prefer that we do that? Or do we grant them a little more rights than that, and merely hold them until they're no longer a danger to US citizens? Because honestly? I'm not entirely comfortable with summary execution, but your mileage may vary.

Posted by: MikeD at June 18, 2010 03:58 PM

Mike has done nothing of the sort.

You are arguing that it's inconsistent to require police to obtain a warrant before raiding a crack-house but not soldiers before raiding a machine gun nest.

Sorry, War != Crime

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 18, 2010 04:05 PM

It's not a question of whether I think the U.S. government should be meaner to a corporation than a human being. If BP were financing mercenary attacks on our soil or citizens, I might be totally OK with sending a SWAT team into the BP board meeting and hauling the directors off to Gitmo. What BP has done is cause a horribly damaging accident, for which it already has started to pay a lot of damages even though no one's even taken them to court yet and won a judgment. The accident may be found negligent; I'm inclined to guess it will, but you know it really is possible that it simply was an accident, a result of imperfect human technology operating in an extremely challenging environment. I'm far less inclined to believe BP will be found criminally negligent, but that's a possible, too, someday. Someday, not now. No one has any facts yet to support criminal charges. "Criminal" doesn't just mean "stuff that makes me mad."

If we can't, as a society, figure out a way to distinguish between an appropriate legal response to a soldier captured on the battlefield (or a terrorist caught in the act overseas), and a corporation that makes a huge mess by accident, then we may as well give up on society and culture and just degenerate to a Hobbesian state. Let everybody retaliate however feels right at the moment.

Dangerous people who have been out murdering professionally and who certainly will go right back to it if released are the proper subjects of forced physical detention. There is no way to get from that obvious conclusion to the idea that it's perfectly alright to respond to annoying corporations (foreign or otherwise) with extortion rackets whenever the money might come in handy.

On the other, I don't completely discount the notion that BP agreed to the $20 billion fund to forestall even more catastrophic meltdowns in terms of mass tort lawsuits and PR. Do I suspect that they were bullied into with the threat of bogus criminal action? Yes. If criminal action really is appropriate, I really do not want to find out that the AG declined to pursue it because he was content with the political advantages of the payoff instead. Lawyers who threaten criminal action in order to gain an advantage in civil litigation are subject to disbarment, for good reason. I'd very much like to see an investigation into who promised and threatened what to Mr. Heyward. I don't think for one minute the MSM will pursue any such thing, but Ace has a fine list of questions that would be asked if the MSM were even remotely serious as journalists. Still, I wouldn't be shocked to my toes to find that the investigation showed that BP was doing a hail-mary PR pass. I'd very much like to have been a fly on the wall for the discussion with the board and BP's counsel on that one, because Heyward didn't just pop into the Oval Office with no plan and come out having promised to write a $20 billion check. BP must have been tossing around some such idea internally already. In response to direct or indirect earlier threats? I don't know.

BillT is right: if BP was shaken down, we can't expect them to be going to the cops about it. The cops did the shaking down. Who would they go to? The media? No, I mean what independent authority would they go to?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 18, 2010 06:20 PM

I thought Obama was a limp-wristed librul with zero ability to kick anyone's ass.

Obama would have to order Secret Service operatives to kick someone's ass. Obama can't do it himself.

This is the difference between a man and a "parasite". Do you understand "parasite"?

Like for example, Obama can't kill anyone. He has to order it done. Like dropping bombs on orphanages from 4 thousand miles away, safe and comfortable.

A coward and a proud one at that.

It's. Against. The. Law.

There ain't no such thing as the rule of law. We just make it up as we go along... so sayeth Dems.


Again, has anyone at BP complained about being shaken down?

Would that someone at BP be credible with or without Mao posters?

So the POTUS can simply declare BP a terrorist organization that is determined to cause harm within the US, as evidenced by BP's "accidents" over the last 5 years, and PRESTO! we can start shooting/imprisoning/torturing BP execs/employees on sight.

I know you people like to get rid of due process and habeas corpus when it serves your purpose, but you should really hide that unsightly blemish better. Your whole world view revolves around the Mighty Tyrant, with a concurrent disrespect for rule of law and due process. You don't believe in due process. You believe in tyranny. One Man, one Rule, one Vote, one Time.

If we can't, as a society, figure out a way to distinguish between an appropriate legal response to a soldier captured on the battlefield (or a terrorist caught in the act overseas), and a corporation that makes a huge mess by accident, then we may as well give up on society and culture and just degenerate to a Hobbesian state. Let everybody retaliate however feels right at the moment.

Like the Left said, they just make up the rules as they go along. Why do they care what the law says. They do not care. Any more than they care about jobs for Lousiana.

No, I mean what independent authority would they go to?

obama. I heard he was independent of the mortal coil. Could do miracles like lower the sea levels and a light from on high would shine down upon him.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 19, 2010 12:03 AM

It is simply amazing to me the lengths that some people will go to to defend a multinational corporation that has repeatedly caused tremendous damage to the US through outright deliberate negligence.

Ah. You must be speaking of Rahm Emanuel, who greased the wheels at BMM so BP's 700 or more recent violations didn't impact it's petition to drill.

BP has also consistently channeled funds to political campaigns (Team Obie was the recipient of most of the largesse in 2008) and lobbied for legislation adversely affecting the welfare of US citizens.

Posted by: BillT at June 19, 2010 04:55 AM

BP has also consistently channeled funds to political campaigns (Team Obie was the recipient of most of the largesse in 2008)


Which is it? Did "team Obie" shakedown BP or lick BP's boots until the BP execs gave "team Obie" a $20,000,000,000 tip for services rendered?


and lobbied for legislation adversely affecting the welfare of US citizens.

Let me get this straight:

BP lobbying for the right to harm US citizenry = AOK!!!

Lobbying BP to set up an escrow account to start paying back harmed US citizenry = OMG!!!

Posted by: Craig at June 19, 2010 07:59 AM

Let me get this straight:
BP lobbying for the right to harm US citizenry = AOK!!!

Did I say it was AOK for BP to do that? Nope. I made a comment with reference to a multinational actively lobbying congress and the administration to implement legislation harmful to the American public.

You didn't get it straight, and you're wobbling on the precipice.

Lobbying BP to set up an escrow account to start paying back harmed US citizenry = OMG!!!

Aaaaand you veered off the cliff.

BP isn't being lobbied. They're being told, "Cough up or else." Remember, *Congress* established the $75 million cap on cleanups. The administration is breaking the law by telling BP, "Pay the full cost, plus indemnities, or you won't be able to do business here anymore."

But then, this administration has never felt many compelling urges to obey inconvenient laws...

Posted by: BillT at June 19, 2010 09:56 AM

Tyrants never do, Bill, until they're hanging from the noose. Then the law becomes vary important for some reason.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 19, 2010 11:37 AM

Let me get this straight:

That would require a full de-programming and re-education program.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 19, 2010 11:41 AM

Some new info

concerning BP's robber baron tendencies working hand in hand with Obama administration on the Cap and Trade bill.

BP was ready to exploit the American people, hand in hand with the Obamas. So Obama had no reason to get on BP when the oil went up.

BP, a big oil company that was an asset to Cap and Trade, now gets thrown under the bus. An asset that has become a liability is simply discarded. And if Obama can get more money from exploiting BP than Obama could get from passing Cap and Trade with BP as an ally, which would Obama choose?

The easier and more corrupt path.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 19, 2010 12:56 PM

Which is it? Did "team Obie" shakedown BP or lick BP's boots until the BP execs gave "team Obie" a $20,000,000,000 tip for services rendered?

False choice.

You're saying that BP's one million-plus contribution to Obie's campaign in 2008 in order to further his political ambitions is the same as paying the Obama administration twenty billion dollars in 2010 in order to keep doing business in the US.

Posted by: BillT at June 19, 2010 01:03 PM

But then, this administration has never felt many compelling urges to obey inconvenient laws...

How odd that I feel that way about what we're doing to allegedly "enemy combatants", with little or no evidence supporting that claim, before killing/torturing/imprisoning people.

And you feel that way about a sociopathic corporation that you know full well has actively conspired to harm US citizenry, otherwise known as the "little people" to BP Chairman Svanberg.

Posted by: Craig at June 20, 2010 10:37 AM

How odd that I feel that way about what we're doing to allegedly "enemy combatants", with little or no evidence supporting that claim, before killing/torturing/imprisoning people.

Get all your news from HuffPo, eh? Anyone at Gitmo has been investigated, and the reason they're still at Gitmo is because they're genuinely bad people. Of the ones previously investigated and released as "not dangerous," 20% have been killed in combat with US troops and another 20% have been picked up by the Pakistanis in raids on A-Q and Taliban camps. Most of the rest are on the run in Yemen.

If you're policed up on a battlefield with an AK and claim you're an innocent Uzbeki goatherd, three questions come to mind:

1. What are you doing in Afghanistan traveling with terrorists?

2. Where are your goats?

3. Why are you carrying an AK?

The "little or no evidence" argument won't wash. If someone is picked up on a battlefield, or caught engaging either soldiers or civilians with weapons, and is *not* in uniform, he may be

1. summarily executed under the Laws of Land Warfare;

2. imprisoned until hostilities cease, then tried for war crimes by the capturing country; or

3. imprisoned until hostilities cease, then released to be tried under the civil laws of the country in which the crimes were committed.

The "torture" argument is bogus -- "progressives" have re-defined "torture" to mean "slight discomfort." I *know* people who have been tortured, and some have had every bone in their bodies broken, then re-broken with pieces of rebar, then forced to watch while every member of their families was brought into their cells, then raped and shot. They think waterboarding and being forced to listen to rock music is kindergarten game time.

Posted by: BillT at June 20, 2010 11:40 AM

Bill, you sir, have infinitely more patience than I.

Posted by: bthun at June 20, 2010 01:09 PM

And you feel that way about a sociopathic corporation that you know full well has actively conspired to harm US citizenry, otherwise known as the "little people" to BP Chairman Svanberg.

No, I don't *feel* that way, and stop putting words in my mouth. Everything I have said was with regard to the *legalities* of the situation, and had zero-zip-nada to do with my *feeeeewings* on the matter.

You are a no-go at the logic station.

Posted by: BillT at June 21, 2010 06:22 AM

Get all your news from HuffPo, eh?

Nah, just the news:

A federal judge Wednesday ordered the Obama administration to free a Yemeni man at Guantaamo who has long claimed he was captured in Pakistan studying the Quran and had no ties to al Qaida.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr.'s ruling of unlawful detention in the case of Mohammed Hassen, 27, raised the number of detainee wins in Guantánamo detention challenges to 36./i>

The win-loss scorecard was 14-36 on Wednesday.

In other words, out of the 50 petitions that have been heard in federal court, 72% of Guantanamo detainees were finally able to obtain just minimal due process, after years of being imprisoned without charges, have been found by federal judges to be wrongfully detained.

Hassan has been held for 8 years without charges despite being cleared for release in 2007 by the Bush administration.

What is "logical" about that?

Posted by: Craig at June 21, 2010 07:38 AM

Someone that is eager to throw out due process when it conveniences him, now wants to talk about being the protector of due process.

You also must think terrorists can lie under torture and that this invalidates information and intelligence gained, too.

People who can't tell fictional stories from true ones, people who believe in Obama's lies, now want to talk about the validity of intelligence. They shouldn't emulate the USSR, who famously once called Israel's various wars of independence as evidence of Nazi connections and Imperialism. The same USSR who allied with Nazi Germany to divide up Poland.

Your people's agenda, Craig, has been open to the world to see for many generations now. It's not like you can hide it any more.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 21, 2010 09:13 AM

The win-loss scorecard was 14-36 on Wednesday.

When it serves your purposes to defeat the US in Iraq, then it is "no chance of victory" and "victory is meaningless". Hypocrisy knows no bounds, of course, when the shoe is on the other foot.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 21, 2010 09:14 AM

In other words, out of the 50 petitions that have been heard in federal court, 72% of Guantanamo detainees were finally able to obtain just minimal due process, after years of being imprisoned without charges, have been found by federal judges to be wrongfully detained.

He wasn't imprisoned without charges, he was charged with being an enemy combatant. Two Administrative Review Board hearings were held for Mohammed Mohammed Hassen -- one in 2005 and the second in 2006 -- and both concluded that he posed a threat to the United States and should not be released.

Hassan has been held for 8 years without charges despite being cleared for release in 2007 by the Bush administration.

Again, he *was* charged. He entered Pakistan on a 90-day visa early in 2001, ostensibly to study at a madrassa in Raiwind on the Indian border. He was picked up by Pakistani police almost a full year later in a raid on an Al-Qaeda safehouse in Faisalbad, in Pakistan's interior, along with several other suspected Al-Qaeda members -- several of whom identified him as having trained at the Al Farouq Al Qaeda training camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan -- and a senior al Qaida member stated he’d seen Hassan in Afghanistan.

Yet the judge decided, on the basis of Hassan’s statements that he had never been in the *Yemeni* military and did not own an AK, that there was no evidence linking him with Al-Q, and therefore ordered his release.

What is "logical" about that?

What is logical about releasing someone who was inside Pakistan illegally, had been identified as having received terror training in Afghanistan, and had been picked up in a *known* terrorist safe house along with other terrorist "suspects" merely because he denied owning an automatic weapon?

Posted by: BillT at June 21, 2010 10:30 AM

In other words, out of the 50 petitions that have been heard in federal court, 72% of Guantanamo detainees were finally able to obtain just minimal due process...

Let's get one thing straight. Guantanamo detainees are *not* entitled to due process. Due process is the right of an American citizen under the Constitution and the right of an alien arrested within the borders of the United States.

Period. As much as you seem to want to make everyone in the world the recipient of protection under the US Constitution, they *ain't* allowed to have it -- by law.

BTW, if you travel outside the US, *you* are no longer entitled to due process under the Constitution, either.

Posted by: BillT at June 21, 2010 10:44 AM

Speaking of which, got any spare outrage for those three American tourists who were snatched into Iran from Kurdistan by Al Quds last year, slammed into Evin prison in Tehran, and are charged with spying?

Posted by: BillT at June 21, 2010 10:51 AM

Let's assume for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that Hassan was wrongfully accused and was released only after an extended and really unpleasant treatment, at the end of which he was entirely vindicated. Is this an indictment of the entire system of justice under which he was detained? Because if so, our whole justice system is going to have to be pitched. In the best system ever devised, people still get into situations where enough suspicion is cast on them that they are subjected to a horrible process before they clear themselves. Unless we conclude that the system created suspicion out of thin air, we accept this as one of the trials of life, without pretending that it's pleasant.

What's more, the fact that a judge concluded Hassan was wrongfully accused doesn't resolve the whole issue for me. At a minimum, he placed himself in a situation that brought a huge amount of quite justified suspicion on himself. It's entirely possible, even likely, that he was 100% guilty of what he was charged with, and was stupidly let off by a credulous or partisan judge who simply took Hassan's word over the evidence of the circumstances.

Hassan's bad experience therefore is even less reason to jettison the entire judicial process he was subjected to. Ordinary murderers and rapists get released all the time, too, and go on to commit awful crimes that could have been prevented if they hadn't been released. Mistakes either in severity or leniency can be very serious. You can't cure all the problems with the supposed over-harshness of a judicial system simply by being more "merciful," unless you define mercy in an extraordinarily limited context that ignores the future victims of an erroneously released suspect.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 21, 2010 11:46 AM

And before I make BillT's head explode, I should add that that entire argument is predicated on the notion that people caught in arms but out of uniform in the confusing mess that is terrorism and insurgency are not in the same position as criminals living within the United States and under the protection of its civil rights and Constitution. If nothing else, war and crime differ in our ability to collect evidence that will hold up to the exacting standards of American criminal trials. We know perfectly well that we can't run a war under criminal-trial rules. The hard part is how to treat people on the ragged, confusing edges of war. And it's not we who are making the edges ragged and confusing, it's people who choose to fight in secret and out of uniform. They're already being extended considerably more rights than we used to assume were guaranteed by the Geneva Convention.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 21, 2010 11:53 AM

Speaking of which, got any spare outrage for those three American tourists who were snatched into Iran from Kurdistan by Al Quds last year, slammed into Evin prison in Tehran, and are charged with spying?

Absolutely.

Posted by: Craig at June 21, 2010 11:57 AM

Texan99,

Have you read the facts of the Hassen case?

He was arrested in Pakistan in a raid targeting Arabs at a time when the US was offering rewards for the capture of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

Also, if our criminal justice system had a successful conviction rate of 28%, as Gitmo currently does, I think that would be considered a tad bit disturbing. Don't you?

Posted by: Craig at June 21, 2010 12:12 PM

Hot off the presses, here's a court-released breakdown of all the times that the government concluded Hassan Odaini was innocent and should be released, beginning in June, 2002:

http://utdocuments.blogspot.com/2010/06/odaini-history.html


Some lowlights:

In June 2002, just after Odaini's arrival at Guantanamo Bay, based on the assessment that Odaini "appeared to be telling the truth," an interrogator's report indicated: "Recommend
[Odaini] be utilized to identify individuals at house in Faisalabad [censored] Pending [censored]
, [Odaini] should be considered for repatriation." JE 40 at 3


In February 2007, four and a half years after Odaini's arrival at Guantanamo Bay, a Staff Judge Advocate for the Department of Defense, Office for the Administrative Review for the Detention of Enemy Combatants, sent an email to Odaini's counsel. JE 78 (Email sent by [censored] but signed by [censored], to, inter alia, David Remes (Feb. 22, 2007,1:57 PM)). The email indicated that "[t]hrough either the Administrative Review Board (ARB) process or the process DOD had in place prior to ARBs, your client has been approved to leave Guantanamo, subject to the process for making appropriate diplomatic arrangements for his departure." Id. 20 Needless to say, Odaini was not released from Guantanamo Bay.


Here's the entire document:

http://static1.firedoglake.com/28/files/2010/06/100526-Odaini.pdf

Posted by: Craig at June 21, 2010 12:48 PM

Why would a low conviction rate be disturbing in a criminal justice system? I can think of two things that would lead to a low rate that are both very positive:

1) A prosecutor who does not cherry pick cases, but follows up complaints even when they are difficult. We used to have a prosecutor in Stone Mountain who went after rapists any time rape was alleged; as a result, his conviction rate on rape cases was much lower than other DAs, because it can be very hard to prove rape. On the other hand, no rape victim was turned away; they were never told that the court didn't think their case was worth its time.

2) The court is very strict with its standards of evidence.

Point (1) may be debatable -- you could argue that the DA is wasting money, or putting people who are unlikely to be convicted through a ringer, or supporting false charges of rape. Still, I think we could see a positive side as well: even if the state couldn't prove the rape, it could punish the rapist by making him go through the procedure, and impress upon him that they would very much like to punish rape if he gave them the opportunity.

Point (2), though, seems like an unmitigated good. We want our courts to fail to convict if the evidence isn't strong. We don't want to send innocents to prison.

Posted by: Grim at June 21, 2010 02:23 PM

Craig won't give conservatives, Republicans, or BP any such due process.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 21, 2010 04:46 PM

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