The Intransigent Conservative
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Weekend Potpourri - Part 2
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Weekend Potpourri - Part 2 (2/16/13-2/17/13)
· Sun, Feb 17 2013 18:33:47
writes that rural and small-town Americans are losing the right to govern themselves and their own communities in each passing election, starting with an ill-conceived 8-1 decision by the Supreme Court in 1964 that struck down state senate inequality.
The county by county map of the 2012 presidential election reveals, “
that portraying states as either blue or red obscures much of what we might want to know about the states
” and their voting inhabitants, and “clearly portrays the irony and unfairness of a nation of predominantly red communities governed by a blue, urban, national majority.”
On this map, we see that most of the blue states are in fact mostly red
. The reality of vast expanses of red in some of the bluest of states should concern us if we truly care about self-governance.”
“[T]he erosion of self-governance in rural America is also the result of a generally well intentioned but simplistic understanding of democracy and the associated elimination of institutional protections of local democratic governance.”
“Notwithstanding the sometimes wildly fluctuating views of the electorate, as evidenced by pre- and post-election polls,
elections have increasingly come to justify claims of total victory for the winner
. The winner sees no need for compromise, making it the loser’s role to obstruct such triumphalism in every way possible, and hope to prevail in the next election.”
“The designers of America’s democratic republic well understood the shortcomings of direct democracy,
notably the risk of majoritarian tyranny
. Among their constitutional protections against the tyranny of the majority was the creation of a federal system that recognized
multiple majorities as legitimate law makers
, majorities that would also moderate the selection of the president and the enactment of laws by Congress.”
the 1964 United States Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Sims
, most state legislatures included one house apportioned on the basis of population and a second chamber apportioned on the basis of counties or other geographical regions.
Many of the former had not been reapportioned for decades
, leaving growing urban areas with less representation per capita than rural regions.
On the basis of the principle of one person/one vote
, the Court found that the failure of most states to regularly reapportion their lower houses put them in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.”
“Of course, reapportionment of the upper houses of state legislatures on the basis of population did not eliminate county and town governments, but as state legislatures became increasingly homogenous and urban-centric, states gradually intervened in more and more matters that were once of purely local concern.
Inexorably, the values and ambitions of urban America have been imposed on small town and rural communities
. Despite the often broad agreement among their citizens, the rural communities of red county America have gradually lost control of their own destinies
at the hands of statewide majorities marching to a different drummer
… because of their minority status in statewide population terms and their lack of representation as communities, rural Americans are denied full self-governance.
They have become the objects of what might be called the soft tyranny of others desires and expectations
“Democratic government at its best must be about more than the arithmetic of nose counting.
Communities require representation if they are to survive in an ever more centralized world
. Not the political interest groups we now call communities, but the real communities in which people raise their children, pursue their livelihoods, and nourish their friendships. These are the communities people call home,
and they are slowly decaying with the loss of control over their own destinies
The Disenfranchisement of Rural America: Many Americans are losing the right to self-govern, By James Huffman http://ow.ly/hFRPi #tcotHoover Institution
2012 County results mapBrian_Empric
Peter J. Wallison
, former general counsel of the Treasury and White House counsel in the Reagan administration, poses a great confirmation hearing question for the senators to ask of Obama’s Treasury secretary nominee, Jack Lew.
Namely, will Lew tell Obama that a serious review of Dodd-Frank, the harshest regulatory law ever imposed on any industry, is necessary to get this economy growing?
“Mr. Lew, after the recession ended in June 2009, the U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent until July 2010, when the president signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law.
Since then, the annual rate of G.D.P. growth has been 2 percent or less
. The reasons for this are not hard to find.”
To be operational, (Dodd-Frank) requires almost 400 new regulations
. Of these, fewer than half have been finalized in the two years since the law’s enactment. The most important regulations, like the Volcker rule and the regulations that will govern the mortgage market, have generated so much conflict among the regulatory agencies that these rules have not been promulgated in final form.”
“The president sees this as a major success of his first term. But in light of its adverse effects on the economy,
shouldn’t you be prepared to tell the president that a serious review of Dodd-Frank is necessary?
Mr. Lew, what will you do about Dodd-Frank? http://ow.ly/1SegmCAEI
Suzy Khimm reports that
eleven states and three private groups
(Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, State National Bank of Big Spring, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and 60 Plus Association) have “signed onto a lawsuit claiming that broad swaths of Dodd-Frank are illegal” and
“The suit claims that
major parts of Dodd-Frank violate the Constitution’s separation of powers
, including the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau; a new council with the discretion to determine which non-bank financial firms are ‘too big to fail’ and subject to additional regulation; and the government’s new ‘Orderly Liquidation Authority’ to force failing financial companies to dissolve ‘with little or no advance warning,’ according to the lawsuit.”
“[The] attorneys general argue that the OLA, in particular,
violates states’ property rights
because of the investments that states have made in financial firms that could be dissolved by the federal government.”
“However, even those who believe there are major constitutional problems with Dodd-Frank believe the lawsuit is premature and say it’s unlikely to move through the courts until the government actually uses its new authority to force a failing financial institution to dissolve.”
Could Dodd-Frank be unconstitutional? I talk to a few legal scholars who think so. http://wapo.st/15igSVcSuzy Khimm
Clifford D. May
, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, asks, “Why shouldn’t the American public get to read Obama’s
classified targeted-killing memos
, and find out their government’s legal reasoning?”
“Let me waste no time in putting my drone cards on the table: Al-Qaeda and other self-described jihadist groups have declared war on America, and are waging war against America. Congress has passed an
Authorization for the Use of Military Force
that gives the president the power to capture and kill members of AQ and allied groups.
He should do so aggressively and unapologetically
Enemy belligerents, including those who hold American passports, should not be mistaken for criminal defendants. Judges should not be confused with generals.
“I do think there ought to be
congressional review and oversight of drone operations and ‘kill lists.’
And members of Congress — and the public, too, I believe — should be allowed to consider the process the administration has in place for targeted killings, not least those involving American citizens.”
“President Bush tasked his Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to study relevant domestic and international laws to determine which coercive interrogation techniques were permissible and which were not…
‘Waterboarding’ was used on exactly three individuals: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, and two other senior al-Qaeda commanders (Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri)
. All had information vital to America’s national security. None was giving it up easily.”
When you bring in someone like KSM, you don’t want him to know how far you can go. The more fearful he is of what awaits him, the more likely he’ll talk without the need for any harsh methods
… KSM was smart enough to figure out that the there was a time limit on waterboarding. ‘Pretty quickly, he recognized that within 10 seconds we would stop pouring water,’ said Jose Rodriguez, who ran the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. ‘He started to count with his fingers, up to 10, just to let us know that the time was up.’”
“Obama has used drones to kill terrorists with a frequency I doubt his predecessor ever imagined —
more than 2,500 individuals
eliminated in Pakistan and Yemen according to
, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who carefully tracks drone operations.”
“In response to a demand from senators of both parties, the White House last week announced that it will release the targeted-killing memos to the House and Senate Intelligence committees… Obama’s lawyers believe that lethal force can be used only if a terrorist attack is ‘
’ and if capture of the targeted individual is ‘
[H]as it really been infeasible to capture any of the terrorists Obama has used drones to kill?
The president has made clear that he does not want to add to the detainee population at Guantanamo. Could that disinclination be playing a role in his kill-vs.-capture decisions? If so, would that mean that the administration, based on its own reading of the law, is killing people illegally —
not to mention losing the opportunity for obtaining intelligence that could be used to defend American lives and property?
Check out my latest in @NRO on why the public should be able to read the "Targeted-Killing" Memos http://bit.ly/XF4GKK @followFDD #dronesClifford D. May
John Yoo, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel in President George W. Bush's Justice Department and helped draft memos concerning the legality of CIA interrogation of terrorist detainees, writes that the Obama administration has “
replaced the clarity of the rules of war with the vague legal balancing tests that govern policemen on the beat
“According to the Justice Department white paper obtained by NBC News, the U.S. can kill a citizen who is ‘continually planning attacks’ for al Qaeda when an ‘informed, high-ranking’ official decides that the target ‘poses an imminent threat’ and capture is ‘infeasible.’”
“Those of us in the Bush administration who worked on the response to 9/11 understood that
the country was involved in a new kind of war
, one that demanded the covert use of force abroad, detention of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay without criminal trials, tough interrogations, and broad electronic surveillance.
But Mr. Obama and many of those who would become his advisers never fully accepted—or credited—the Bush administration's difficult decision to consider 9/11 an act of war
U.S. citizenship doesn't create a legal force field around Americans who treasonously join the enemy
… But instead of relying on the traditional authority to kill the enemy, the leaked memo reveals how a legal fog threatens to envelop U.S. soldiers and agents on the front lines.”
“The legal system doesn't generally allow the government to stop the potentially dangerous before they commit crimes…
The military's mission is quite the opposite
. U.S. armed forces and intelligence agencies exist to pre-empt enemy attacks, not to apprehend the guilty afterward.”
“While suggesting that al Qaeda terrorists have constitutional rights, the memo makes no room for judicial review of a strike, as would be required for any actual government deprivation of due process.
All we have are scarcely believable accounts that Mr. Obama selects targets from CIA lists with the guidance of St. Thomas Aquinas's writings on what constitutes a just war
… By including terrorists among those afforded constitutional protections, the president's policy risks stretching those protections a mile wide and an inch deep—
weakening them for all Americans
“Rather than capture terrorists—
which produces the most valuable intelligence on al Qaeda
—Mr. Obama has relied almost exclusively on drone attacks, and he has thereby been able to dodge difficult questions over detention.
But those deaths from the sky violate personal liberty far more than the waterboarding of three al Qaeda leaders ever did
John Yoo: The Real Problem With Obama's Drone Memo http://on.wsj.com/Ye93JwOpinion & Commentary
Meenal Vamburkar reports on the tough questioning that Obama faced this week during a Google+ “fireside hangout.” Specifically, conservative blogger
Kira Ayn Davis
) was able to ask him to reconcile his campaign promises of transparency with the recent issues of drone strikes and Benghazi.
Amazingly, Obama seemed to rationalize a lack of transparency on Benghazi as merely “campaign stuff.”
“With more details about President Obama‘s drone program emerging, many have criticized what they perceive to be a double standard — in terms of transparency and accountability. Under George W. Bush, goes the argument, such a program would have faced more scrutiny.”
“’You ran on a platform of really trying to become one of the most transparent administrations in American history. However, with recent leaked guidelines regarding drone strikes on American citizens and Benghazi and closed door hearings on the budget and deficit,
it just feels a lot less transparent than I think we all hoped it would be
,’ Davis remarked, asking: ‘How has the reality of the presidency changed that promise? And what can we do moving forward to kind of get back to that promise?’
“Obama replied that the administration is indeed the ‘most transparent’ in history — be it in terms of White House visitors or information about legislation.
Benghazi, however, ‘is not a good example’ because it ‘was largely driven by campaign stuff.’ Congress is ‘sort of running out of things to ask,’ he added.”
Obama Faces Toughest Grilling About Drones, Not From The Media, But In A Google+ Hangout (VIDEO) http://bit.ly/12pY6faMediaite
Lt. Col. Joel Rayburn
, a US Army strategic intelligence officer with twenty years’ experience in national security and political-military affairs (focusing on the greater Middle East), imagines a
Shia-Sunni sectarian conflagration
, fueled by Al Qaeda, raging across
the Fertile Crescent
“In the days of the Ottoman Empire, British diplomats referred to the Arabic-speaking territories of the empire as ‘
.’ It was these Arabic-speaking lands that Britain and France, in the aftermath of the First World War, divided into the modern Arab states we know today:
Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon
. Those arbitrary colonial boundaries have endured for the better part of a century, but the people within them have never fully acknowledged the legitimacy of the lines that British and French officials drew for them.”
“The revolt that began in Syria in early 2011—itself inspired by events elsewhere in the Arab world—
is on the verge of becoming a sectarian war spanning the entirety of Turkish Arabia
. The most powerful of the Syrian revolutionary forces,
the Nusrah Front
, has been formed around a core of what we have previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent and terrorist organization once led by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”
“For Al Qaeda in Iraq, then, the Iraqi and Syrian conflicts are one theater of war,
where Al Qaeda and its allies seek a common objective
of beating back the forces of what its leaders consider an Iranian-led coalition of Shia sectarian parties from Iraq, the Assad regime, and Lebanese Hizballah.”
“We can envision, then, a sectarian war raging across the whole of the Fertile Crescent, drawing in all the former territories of Turkish Arabia.
The prospect will be a frightening one for the region’s major powers
. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could one day find chaos rather than functioning states on their permeable borders. If Al Qaeda/Nusrah can establish a base in Jordan, Saudi Arabia will find itself threatened by Al Qaeda franchises on both north and south that will be well-positioned to resume the pursuit of
Al Qaeda’s core goal of toppling the Saudi monarchy
and ‘liberating’ the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.”
“The rulers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran are surely not blind to this nightmare scenario. As the situation in Turkish Arabia continues to unravel,
those regional powers will be compelled to become ever deeper involved in an attempt to keep the tide of war from breaking on their own lands
. This conflict could very well touch us all, perhaps becoming an engine of jihad that spews forth attackers bent on bombing western embassies and cities or disrupting Persian Gulf oil markets long before the fire burns out.”
The Coming War in the Middle East: Imagine a sectarian conflagration, fueled by Al Qaeda, raging across the region http://ow.ly/hsY8SHoover Institution
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