David Kirkpatrick

October 20, 2009

Rhetoric v. reality in the Obama White House

Cato and Reason‘s Julian Sanchez has a great piece on the disconnect between what the Obama administration does, and what it says, in restoring balance to D.C. and ridding our government of some of the Bush administration’s overreach and blatant disregard for civil liberties and personal freedom.

To be fair Obama has been in office a total of nine months with a very full plate, and his administration may well be taking a long view in meeting some of these policy goals. If so, that’s great. In the meantime his feet should be kept to the fire on these issues that led many independent voters to pull the lever for him last year.

From the link:

We know the rules by now, the strange conventions and stilted Kabuki scripts that govern our cartoon facsimile of a national security debate. The Obama administration makes vague, reassuring noises about constraining executive power and protecting civil liberties, but then merrily adopts whatever appalling policy George W. Bush put in place. Conservatives hit the panic button on the right-wing noise machine anyway, keeping the delicate ecosystem in balance by creating the false impression that something has changed. We’ve watched the formula play out with Guantánamo Bay, torture prosecutions and the invocation of “state secrets.” We appear to be on the verge of doing the same with national security surveillance.

Update — Here’s another post on this article.

March 9, 2009

Obama rolls back Bush’s signing statements

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:11 pm

Slowly, but surely Obama is pruning away the most egregious of Bush 43’s attacks on the U.S. political system. Most recently taking on Bush’s signing statements. All presidents had the power and usage went up dramatically beginning with Reagan, but Bush took this tool to unknown, and ridiculous heights:

But Mr. Bush broke all records, using signing statements to challenge about 1,200 bill sections over his eight years in office — about twice the number challenged by all previous presidents combined, according to data compiled by Christopher Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University in Ohio.

Since most of these were issued to circumvent Congress, and literally the checks and balances built into our system, Obama’s actions are a move back toward sanity and the American way.

From the link:

Calling into question the legitimacy of all the signing statements that former President George W. Bush used to challenge new laws, President Obama on Monday ordered executive officials to consult with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. before relying on any of them to bypass a statute.

But Mr. Obama also signaled that he intends to use signing statements himself if Congress sends him legislation that has provisions he decides are unconstitutional. He pledged to use a modest approach when doing so, but said there was a role for the practice if used appropriately.

“In exercising my responsibility to determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well-founded,” Mr. Obama wrote in a memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies in the executive branch. The document was obtained by The New York Times.

January 16, 2009

The sins of Bush 43

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:25 am

Steve Chapman has an excellent article up at Reason on where the Bush 43 years have gone wrong.

Here’s two very telling issues:

The Budget. Bush represented the alleged party of small government, yet under him, federal outlays exploded. During his presidency, spending was up by 70 percent, more than double the increase under Bill Clinton. When Bush arrived, the federal government was running surpluses. Since then—not counting the horrendously expensive financial bailout—the national debt has nearly doubled. You can’t blame Congress for all this: Bush was the first president in 176 years to go an entire term without vetoing a single piece of legislation.

Executive power. Conservatives are supposed to believe in strict limits on government power, but Bush pushed incessantly to expand the prerogatives of the president. He asserted the right to ignore laws banning torture and restricting wiretapping. The Supreme Court found that his imprisonment of captives at Guantanamo Bay violated the Constitution by denying them the right to challenge their detention in court.