President Obaam just overruled the OLC

In which I lose a lot of respect for Obama: (NYT article)
WASHINGTON — President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.
But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.
Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.
A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said there had been “a full airing of views within the administration and a robust process” that led Mr. Obama to his view that the Libya campaign was not covered by a provision of the War Powers Resolution that requires presidents to halt unauthorized hostilities after 60 days

“It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict,” Mr. Schultz said. “Those disagreements are ordinary and healthy.”
 Read the rest of the article. The White House knows that most people have never heard of the OLC, and they're going on that, forgetting that the OLC is a vital, vital institution, and that being cavalier with it (or portraying it as "just another adviser") is setting all sorts of bad precedents. One of the strongest controls on the foolishness that David Addington (Cheney's Cheney: nice in person but wiht crazy ideas about executive power) was the OLC and its refusal to allow Bush a free leash, as if the President could ignore the law.

Obama is now repeating the same mistake that Bush made, and which originally made me a supporter of him, but he's gone a step further by straight-up overruling the OLC. It's a horrible, horrible precedent and the ends do not justify the means. Not. At. All.


Coverage of the Stanley Cup Riot has mostly focused on lamenting the foolishness and idiocy of Vancouver's wayward citizens (or, according to some account, visitors who came with the intention of rioting).

But this first-hand account by a cop and these photos/FB screenshots show something else - the potential depravity of the human spirit. I can't tell why these people went and did these things, but it seems like the riot was an "event" for them, a chance for them to try something new and do some really crazy stuff.

I don't think they realize (especially those are posting on FB) how much they hurt others. To them, society must be a bottomless pit of funds or a harmful malignancy that screwed them over. Nonchalance or anger are the only two possibilities that occur to me.

David Brooks is Right

David Brooks is absolutely correct here:
I’ll be writing a lot about the presidential election over the next 16 months, but at the outset I would just like to remark that I’m opining on this whole campaign under protest. I’m registering a protest because for someone of my Hamiltonian/National Greatness perspective, the two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic. Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand.

This election is about how to avert national decline. All other issues flow from that anxiety.

The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed — unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, the steady growth of special-interest sinecures and the gradual loss of national vitality.
Certainly many of these issues can be traced to the various causes of wage inequality, among them skill-bias technical change, and they aren't the government's "fault" in the way the massive deficits from the Bush Tax Cuts are the government's "fault." Moreover, life now is much better than it was a few decades ago in many ways - we have cell phones, open communication, and longer life expectancy. But we could do better - much better.

And that's why Brooks is right. Both Bush and Obama had opportunities to be transformative in '01 and '09, and both rejected those - Bush asked us to go shopping, and Obama failed to capture the national imagination as he struggled with the recession and passing a healthcare bill, in addition to a dismal record of whistleblowers and civil liberties. Obama got away with these things because he was shrewd enough to know that he wouldn't get burned for them - and he hasn't. Our government is more and more inaccessible to the people, even as data and information comes at us via a multitude of forms and ways - Twitter and Facebook among them.

The thing about living beyond our means is that its easy to say but EXTREMELY hard to stop, because voters stop caring about deficits the moment their social security check or medicare payment is at risk. We absolutely must do some belt tightening - I am no Keynesian, and stimulus on top of stimulus won't correct the underlying issues of gluttony that weaken us. But we must fix entitlements, the tax code, and the ridiculous idea that the US can or should hold up the world. Our desire to do everything is causing us to fail in our own self-investment, and those chickens will come home to roost in coming decades.

Building E-Files

As I prepare to move to Madison, I'm very aware that every pound I bring to the city will likely have to be carried out/up/around the city, and in the interest of limiting my amount of "stuff," I'm trying to put all of my business cards/contacts into one master file.

This is difficult. It turns out that there are a glut of secure services that help us to combine phone, facebook, e-mail, and skype contacts together (while letting you invite you don't have on Skype - apologies to the 150 people that just got little notes about that). But after combining them, one then has to decide how to organize them. Making things more complicated, many of my friends from Williams have different employers that they didn't list on Facebook, making it very difficult to keep track of people.

I keep telling myself that this is a better system than the stuffed-full notebook that lives in our famiy's kitchen drawer, but as the hours drag on, I'm less and less sure of that.