Author Page for Scott Lemieux
Who could have predicted it? Taking away resources that could have been used to actually go terrorists that posed a potential threat to American civilians in order to destroy a state that posed no significant security threat to the United States and replace it with an anarchic terrorist haven turns out…to have been bad for American national security! A truly shocking development. But we’re “fighting back,” and that’s what matters! Insisting on a minimally rational relationship between security goals and a military action is the kind of thing you’d only favor if you’re willing to live with a president who had bad socks or earth tone suits or something.
This is quite remarkably disgusting. I’m glad that his celebrity didn’t prevent him from being indicted for torturing animals for profit.
Hilzoy has more on Anne Applebaum’s crazy strawman-building tactics. Personally, perhaps because I’m more cynical, I didn’t check the empirical claim because I wouldn’t have been shocked had no Democratic politician had been fully candid; it wouldn’t be unusual for politicians not to point out the potential downsides when choosing among a bunch of bad policy options created by someone else’s catastrophic blunder. (People not running for office can, and should, be criticized for not being honest about the downsides.) And yet, at least 3 Democratic candidates including Barak Obama did to this, making Appelbaum’s silly point also factually false. It seems pretty clear that this was bullshit in the classic Frankurt sense; Applebaum seems to have been indifferent about her claims were true or not, but just needed some assertions to fit her evasive high-Broderite framework.
As a follow-up to Bean’s post below, I will once again note that, as long as the 14th Amendment remains unamended, the necessary consequence of fetal personhood is that anyone obtaining or performing an abortion is guilty of first degree murder, anyone who knows about it an accessory to murder, etc. etc. At the absolute core of the equal protection clause is that no class of persons can be excluded from the protection of general laws providing for basic personal security. A federal “life amendment” would not merely permit but require every state to treat abortion as murder.
Fortunately, this lunatic position is confined to such fringe organizations as the party of the incumbent president.
Noted paragon of civility Robert Novak expresses a need for a fainting couch — apparently some ladies are being insufficiently dainty.
Henley and Yglesias say most of what needs to be said about today’s bite of banality. As the former points out, the actual effect of this pox-on-all-their-houses-but-not-my-house High Broderism is to implicitly advocate the status quo without having to bother to make an argument in its favor. The only thing I’ll add is that the fact that withdrawal could have disastrous consequences, while certainly a convincing argument against starting the predictably disastrous war in the first place, is only a good argument against leaving if the occupation was actually improving the security situation. What’s actually happening, however, is that we’re getting further from the plausible emergence of a stable Iraqi state, and even Applebaum isn’t willing to claim otherwise. So the potential for bad things to happen after the troops leave — which I’ve heard few opponents of the war deny — is neither here nor there given the obvious inability of the American military to create a strong Iraqi state ex nihilo. The point of the argument, rather, is simply part of the broader war apologist long-term exit strategy: i.e. to shift the blame for the catastrophe from the people who are actually responsible for it to people who tried to stop it.
I have to admit that I think Henley is probably right here:
I confess a suspicion that the Dem leadership is counting on not getting an up-and-down vote. There’s a decent chance that some of the Senators happy to vote for a cloture motion they know is doomed to lose will be unwilling to vote for a troop drawdown they know could win. And then what will we tell the netroots? Thirty hours of theater that ends in another unsuccessful cloture vote is the safe-sex version of defunding the war.
I don’t really think that this is Reid’s fault, per se; this kabuki is probably the best way of communicating opposition to the war given that he doesn’t have the votes to stop. But it remains depressing.
He’s back, with another crackpot theory justifying arbitrary executive power in defiance of the plain language of several constitutional provisions as well as the structure and underlying theoretical basis of the Constitution.
As Stephen Holmes points out (and expands on in his new book), it’s not just that Yoo believes as a normative matter — contrary to the fundamental principles of liberal democracy– that power is most effectively deployed when it’s secret and unchecked, but his farcical attempts to locate the monarchical executive in the original meaning of a Constitution that (although it leaves the precise contours of executive power vague) plainly cannot support such a reading:
The Framers charged the President with protecting the nation, he tells us, “even if that meant fighting with the legislature to enforce the desires of the people.” True to their British heritage, Yoo also asserts, the Framers modeled the President’s war powers on those of King George III. They therefore refused to grant Congress even a concurrent power to commence war. At its core, the Constitution embodies the Framers’ intention to prohibit Congress from “encroaching” on the executive’s power to initiate as well as conduct war.
To make his contrarian claim ring true, Yoo whites out contrary evidence and draws dubious conclusions on the basis of fragmentary and carefully selected facts. He disregards the main thrust of the historical record and misrepresents the parts he acknowledges. He ferrets out (and exaggerates the importance of) scattered shreds of evidence that, at first glance, seem to back up his predetermined narrative. This cherry-picking of the sources may explain why he fits so comfortably into an administration known for politicizing intelligence, smothering doubts, silencing critical voices and fixing the facts around the policy.
But why would an aspiring legal scholar labor for years to develop and defend a historical thesis that is manifestly untrue? What is the point and what the payoff? That is the principal mystery of this singular book. Characteristic of The Powers of War and Peace is the anemic relation between the evidence adduced and the inferences drawn. The footnotes and citations teem with ambiguity and complexity, while the summary statements snap dogmatic simplicities. For instance, in a section devoted to the powers of war and peace in various state Constitutions, between independence and the ratification of the Constitution, Yoo uses selective citation to convey the impression that state executives not only possessed substantial foreign-policy powers but were also, when commanding the state militias, freed from any obligation to act according to laws passed by state legislatures. That his case is wobbly on both counts is the least that might be said. But what makes his misleading account additionally baffling is that he cites without comment the very provisions in several state Constitutions that deny the executive branch any power to act except “under the laws” passed by the legislative branch.
Even by the standards of this administration, Yoo is an embarrassment.