Badass Quote of the Day

From Adam Serwer, noting that President Obama’s recess appointments have prompted howls of outrage from both John Yoo and David Addington, each of whom otherwise believes in executive power that would make the president virtually a Roman emperor:

Watching two men who argued for years that the president could pick and choose which laws to follow wring their hands over Obama’s recess appointments as an abuse of power is so absurd that one practically has to reach into fiction to find parallel analogies. If we could only get Lex Luthor’s feelings on financial regulation or Emperor Palpatine’s thoughts on the importance of checks and balances.

There are legitimate legal arguments about such recess appointments, of course, but for Yoo and Addington to make them is simply perverse. Addington, who was the main White House architect of President Bush’s incredibly broad claims of authority, actually told the New York Times that the appointments were “flabbergasting and, to be honest, a little chilling.” He was not the least bit flabbergasted by the argument that the president has the inherent authority to spy on Americans without a warrant, no matter what the Constitution says about it.

40 comments on this post.
  1. MikeMa:

    Hypocrisy is the GOP propaganda shining star. Yoo & Addington just up the wattage a bit.

  2. exdrone:

    But the Congress is still in session! Obama is really going to get a dressing down from the Republican senators … when they return to work, that is.

  3. frankb:

    The comments in the linked article are truly amazing.

    Obama is actually breaking the law like every previous President! (wrings hands)

    If the Senate says it’s in session, it’s in session.

    Waterboarding is not torture! (If Dick Chaney was waterboarded, he would literally not survive [as in having a heart attack] It is that rough.)

  4. Michael Heath:

    The root cause problem which needs to be addressed is the archaic nature of many of the Senate’s rules. The original intent of many of these rules was to protect those Senators having difficulty with their travels arriving for sessions. Now those rules are used to obstruct the government from doing its business.

  5. Randomfactor:

    Cheney might survive waterboarding. He no longer has a heartbeat.

  6. reverendrodney:

    Randomfactor: would that that were true!

    If I were a rabid Christian I would pray for his miserable ass to drop dead immediately if not sooner. But as I give homage to no god and am nonviolent, I can only hope. For the betterment of humankind, that is.

  7. rjohnston:

    The idea that the Senate can’t break a recess if there’s no quorum around to do business, so that you can’t fake a session by having a failed quorum call every couple of days, is not a radical theory. The recess appointments clause is a bit of an anachronism–it was intended to cover emergency appointments during months long recesses when the Senate couldn’t quickly be called into an emergency session–but so long as it’s there and the Republicans in the Senate want to make the government not work by just not confirming anyone then why not make full use of it?

  8. Scott Simmons:

    I just loved the GOP House Representative Diane Black’s call for a resolution condemning Obama’s actions:
    “It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess. These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

    As soon as who returns to Washington from what?

    “… the NLRB appointments were jammed through by the president before the Senate even had the chance to consider the appointees. Their names were only put forward on Dec. 15, a mere two days before the Senate recessed for the holiday.”

    Oh–when the Congress returns from their holiday recess. Glad you cleared that up for us–now I understand the problem. You don’t like that the President made recess appointments while Congress wasn’t in recess, because Congress couldn’t block them because they were in recess. It all makes perfect sense now. Sort of.

  9. gvlgeologist:

    Scott, that was a wonderful summary. Well worth parsing.

  10. d cwilson:

    Obviously, Obama using his recess appointment powers is a far more “chilling” action than say, ordering a child’s testicles crushed, something John Yoo felt Bush had the full authority to do.

  11. Kristjan Wager:

    Randomfactor: would that that were true!

    reverendrodney, it is literately true – Cheney doesn’t have a heartbeat any longer..

  12. Eric126:

    This fell out of the mainstream news cycle pretty damn quick. Probably would’ve stayed there longer if the House was not “not recessed” and the parade of objections was showing on C-SPAN. Pity they’re “not recessed.”

  13. Eric126:

    Senate… my bad.

  14. Chris from Europe:

    If only Obama had used torture on Republicans in Congress instead of these dangerous recess appointments.

  15. WMDKitty:

    @Kristjan Wager (#11)

    Ah, shit. Let’s just hope he hasn’t bitten anyone…

  16. alexmartin:

    Red herrings, equivocations, straw-man arguments, total hypocrisy.
    This man, Obama, claims to have been a Constitutional scholar. He should known the law.

    But to a man of lawlessness, the Constitution is a mere obstruction. And, as a bonus, he’s got all of your kind to run interference for him.

    Plain and simple, wrongdoing remains wrongdoing, no matter who commits it. You folks argue that since the last guy got away with first degree murder, why, what’s wrong with a little rape from our guy?

    Really, though?

    To my understanding, the issue is clear: Congress is NOT in session until both chambers agree to it, no matter the number of members in D.C. at the time. Congress was not on recess. Therefor, Obama’s unlawful appointments were not “recess” appointments. Hoot and howl, hem and haw, grit and gnash your teeth all you want, but your Prez is in the wrong on this issue.

    A little tea with your blatant hypocrisy, anyone?
    Two wrongs–or two Lefts– will never equal a right.

  17. sailor1031:

    You-all just don’t get it. Extraordinary powers are the prerogative of republican presidents only. Democrat presidents are all pinko-commie-liberal-socialist-muslim-(insert pejorative of choice)-atheists and are not to be trusted with power so are bnot given such power. Rather they must be opposed at all times. There is no hypocrisy here such standard republican theology – oops I mean standard republican principles.

  18. alexmartin:

    Correction: Congress is not in recess until both chambers agree to it.

  19. sailor1031:

    see:

    http://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/recess.htm

    for definition of the term “recess”. It is not the same as an “adjournment”. No question these appointments are valid. And we’re talking about the senate; it is immaterial what the house does or doesn’t do. But while we’re on the subject George W Bush made over 170 recess appointments in his time in office, far more than President Obama.

  20. alexmartin:

    Sailor1031:
    Dear friend, when, if ever, is a man accountable for his own actions?

    When?

    Is this what you teach your children, if you have any, that might makes right (when “we” have it), that the end justifies the means, that “we” must win at all costs, law or justice be damned, that ‘righteousness’ can be set aside at will in the interest of ideology?

    Well do I know it– Obama has the proper “vision” for the nation and, just as communism was to be a mere intermediary stage in the course of freeing the proletariat from bourgeoisie oppression, so too must Obama abrogate, even suspend certain unfashionable restrictions on his executive power mandated an irrelevant, antiquated, 18th century document (if only temporarily) for the long-term greater good.

    Yes.

    Hell, the last guy (Bush) practically used the Constitution for toilet tissue, calling it “just a damn piece piece of paper” or some such.

    Why shouldn’t your guy have equal or greater contempt for it?

  21. gshelley:

    Hoot and howl, hem and haw, grit and gnash your teeth all you want, but your Prez is in the wrong on this issue.

    Another drive by idiot? Why don’t these people ever read the damn blog before attacking it?
    To answer the question, probably because they live in a binary world. In their minds anyone who attacks anything the Republicans say or do, or points out any inconsistency or hipocricy on their part is a blind partisan Obama supporter
    The idea that Obama is Ed’s Prez, when Ed has put forward more genuine criticism of Obama than almost anyone else (and by genuine I’m excluding all the claims that the entire economy is Omaba’s fault, that he is trying to destroy the US and the other non rational opinions coming from the right)

  22. alexmartin:

    Diversionary tactics, Sailor1031.
    Obama himself claimed to have made a “recess” appointment, an unlawful appointment when clearly, Congress was not in recess.

    Period.

  23. alexmartin:

    Gshelley, could you clarify your point please? You left your argument dangling, at the end.

  24. alexmartin:

    See how simple that was?
    Gshelley, my commentary was not so much on the content of the post by Ed Brayton, but on the overall attitude of you, the commentators.

    Thus, my opining does not qualify as “drive-by” idiocy.
    My opinion is spot-on accurate.

  25. gshelley:

    A “?” indicates a question, you seem to have mastered that much at least, so I fail to see your confusion.
    Perhaps if someone rational also fails to understand my point, I will explain it, but you seem to be so blinded by dislike of Obama that I doubt you could understand no matter how it was explained to you.

  26. alexmartin:

    What have emotions got to with anything?
    Ad hominem attacks are the favored tactic of the intellectually bereft.

  27. sailor1031:

    Yo alex old boy:

    This ain’t nothin’ to do with what I’d teach children. This is merely that if you’d bother to acquaint yourself with what a senatorial recess actually is, you would understand that these appointments are perfectly constitutional. That’s all.

    Now if, of course, you are one of those who blames Obama for everything, well then everything he does is wrong including valid appointments. How could it be otherwise?

  28. alexmartin:

    “Neither House, during a session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting”

    The House was in pro forma session. No formal request was made by the Senate to adjourn for recess, no such permission was granted by the House.

    Article II, Section 3:

    “The President shall have powers to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

    What is your argument again, Sailor1031? Does adherence to the rule of Law mean anything at all to you?

    Tyranny may only fester where great ignorance is the standard.

  29. Michael Heath:

    alexmartin,

    You make a valid arguable point that these recesses are unconstitutional and therefore the president deserves both our criticism along with the courts perhaps appropriately striking down these appointments if the Senate challenges them in federal court. That is if we can validate the Senate was in fact in recess where I’m not completely confident we can; in spite of the Senate supposedly following their rules. That’s because intent could be a factor here where the Senate clearly violated the spirit of their rules in order to prevent the executive from executing his duties with powers clearly delegated to him through the passage of previous legislation. Legislation this Congress’ Republicans seek to deny be executed in spite of it being the law of the land.

    However your comments seem to have you taking an extremely partisan approach which suggests your motivations have little to nothing to do with good governance and everything to do with helping your respective tribe do better politically. Do you hold all those in similar positions, past and present to the same standards you use here against President Obama?

    For example, let’s a consider a far more egregious violation. What do you think Republicans in Congress should have done a couple of years back when the Inspector General reports came back validating that the Bush Administration had created and administered torture policies in clear violation of our treaties, statutory law, and the Constitution? What do you think the political response by voters should have been for this incredible violation of both the rule of law, our treaties, the Constitution, and the cost in blood? “Cost in blood” relating the fact we’ve validated that the use of torture was the most significant motivating factor for an increase in al Qaeda recruits flowing into Iraq and killing U.S. military personnel and causing so much collateral suffering as well. Where we’ve also validated that only did we not benefit from the use of torture, its use supplanted professional interrogation methods which we’ve validated are better at gaining actionable intelligence, and more quickly at that.

  30. alexmartin:

    Michael Heath: President George W. Bush was, perhaps, the 3rd worst president ever in American history. He, at best, was a war criminal and (in my opinion), a quisling factotum sellout to greater powers than himself who debauched the Office and endangered the American people through his arrogance, contempt, and imperiousness in office.

    Clear?

  31. Michael Heath:

    Not clear alexmartin, you in fact avoided my question. That was what Republicans in Congress should have done upon having received the Inspector General’s results.

  32. alexmartin:

    Michael Heath–
    I am not important here. The rule of law in a just and decent society is.

    You have made me a defender of George Bush and have held me to account for his actions.

    Wrong answer.

  33. Michael Heath:

    alexmartin,

    I have no idea what your post @32 conveys, particularly given your concluding with “wrong answer”. My question posed to you is both simple to comprehend and straight-forward so I don’t understand why you either can’t or won’t directly respond.

  34. sailor1031:

    Alex: My point, not to belabor the obvious too much further, is that there is a substantive difference between a recess and an adjournment. It is a difference which is important in this context. I’m all for the rule of law but NOT for the rule of lawyers. That’s all. Cheers.

  35. The Christian Cynic:

    From here (PDF), quoted without comment (footnotes omitted):

    What Is a “Recess”? Generally, a recess is a break in House or Senate proceedings. Neither House may take a break of more than three days without the consent of the other. Such consent is usually provided through a concurrent resolution. A recess within a session is referred to as an intrasession recess. In recent decades, Congress has typically adjourned for 5-11 intrasession recesses of more than three days, usually in conjunction with national holidays. The break between the end of one session and the beginning of the next is referred to as an intersession recess. In recent decades, each Congress has consisted of two 9-12 month sessions separated by an intersession recess. The period between the second session of one Congress and the first session of the following Congress is also an intersession recess.

    Recent Presidents have made both intersession and intrasession recess appointments. Intrasession recess appointments were unusual, however, prior to the 1940s, in part because intrasession recesses were less common at that time. Intrasession recess appointments have sometimes provoked controversy in the Senate, and some academic literature also has called their legitimacy into question.

    And (footnote included):

    What Is the Purpose of a Recess Appointment? The Constitution states that “[t]he President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session” (Article 2, Section 2, clause 3). The records of debate at the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist Papers provide little evidence of the framers’ intentions in the recess appointment clause. Opinions by later Attorneys General, however, suggested that the clause was meant to allow the President to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate was not in session, at which time his nominees could not be considered or confirmed.1

    1) An opinion by Attorney General William Wirt in 1823 stated, in part, “The substantial purpose of the constitution was to keep these offices filled; and the powers adequate to this purpose were intended to be conveyed.” 1 Op. A.G. at 632.

    Personally, I’m of two minds concerning this: 1) it’s absolutely clear that Obama is trying to circumvent the normal procedure for this, which has not worked thus far, and 2) I don’t blame him, since the Republicans who are blocking nominees are openly admitting that they are doing so not because they object to the nominees but because they object to the very body the nominees would be a part of, which Congress created by law, and so Obama is simply moving in to execute the law because Congress has abrogated its duty in that regard.

    And seriously, this is the rule of law violation that we’re concerned about with Obama? What a joke.

  36. alexmartin:

    Christian Cynic seems to have succinctly characterized the issued and it’s inherent dilemna. Good job. At any rate, in the absence of clarity, where violation of law might occur, twould be best on the president’s behalf to have erred on the side of caution and to have refrained from thumbing his nose, as it were, at comity, if I may.

    @ post #33, Michael Heath, lookahere: as you have taken it upon yourself to answer for and defend the loutish figure currently holding the office of President, then restrict your defense to the reality of that man and that administration, please, and stop going all Nancy Pelosi on me by bringing up The Other Guy.I don’t give a damn about George W. Bush. Let it go.

    Ok? Can you do that for me? Both Obama and G.W. Bush are despicable. Can you get to that?

    If moral probity was a prerequisite for attaining the presidency, how much more so must moral and ethical rectitude of the highest order be sacrosanct while in office?

    What wouldn’t you excuse from this man?

  37. The Christian Cynic:

    I don’t think erring on the side of caution would have benefited Obama at all. It would have given the right one less thing to attack him about, but let’s face it, the right can always find something if they’re desperate for material. The people who Obama needs to win over – progressives and left-center independents – will see this as Obama growing a spine and moving on despite the Republicans’ attempt at gridlock to fill seats in a useful organization. Does the move make a bit hesitant? Yes, it’s a precedent that could now be used (if it stands) by any future president to fill a vacancy with a truly objectionable nominee, but I can’t say I’m bothered by the circumstances under which Obama made this move.

  38. alexmartin:

    Still it remains, however, that Obama’s appointment to this new bureaucracy is ostensibly unlawful. If so, it cannot and should not stand.

    From where I sit and from what I see of this man, he needs no further encouragement to imperiousness.

  39. Michael Heath:

    The Christian Cynic reports:

    Opinions by later Attorneys General, however, suggested that the clause was meant to allow the President to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate was not in session, at which time his nominees could not be considered or confirmed.

    Thanks for the cite, much appreciated. What I quote here from that cite goes to my earlier hesitancy on making any conclusions and my raising the topic of the legality of Senate intent and actions contra current law. We can’t confidently assert the president violates the Constitution with his CPA appointment. It is certainly not step, “A” in the deliberative process, but instead step, “B”. That’s given Senate Republicans admittedly seeking to obstruct the executive from carrying out his lawfully delegated duties in regards to a CPA. From a practical perspective Senate Republicans are exercising a novel form of nullification exploiting Senate rules never intended to limit the executive from carrying out duties previously and lawfully delegated to it. [The way the legislation creating the CPA is written requires a director who carries out certain required functions, otherwise it can't carry out its duties per the legislation passed in the last Congress. This Congress' Republican Senators seek to deny the exercise of those duties without supplanting current legislation, that may be potentially illegal.]

    As I originally noted, the root cause is antiquated Senate rules being exploited in bad faith. Whether the president is in breach of the Constitution is potentially a separate point which might be determined without considering the actions of the Senate.

    alexmartin – your laughably bad arguments are not worth my time. I gave you a chance to separate yourself from partisan arguments and apply higher and consistent standards and you woefully failed. I’ve got better things to do than consider badly constructed arguments obviously intended to score partisan points. And your projection of your own demonstrated behavior onto me in spite of my not demonstrating an iota of such behavior made for a gut cringing moment. That’s because I don’t wish oblivious delusion onto anyone.

  40. alexmartin:

    Why TCC, you wound me deeply.
    I am hereby cut to the quick by your incisive and penetrating, merciless word-lashing.

    Woe unto me that I’ve lost thy respect.

    Anyway, “antiquated Senate rules”? Those antiquated Senate rules were cobbled together over the decades precisely because of, not in spite of, that hated Constitutional nuisance.
    You and I both cite the Articles of the U.S. Constitution as (hopefully), final authority on this and any other matter, yet you throw at me “precedent”?

    Instruction on the matter of recess appointments by PoTUS is pretty much cut and dried, yes?

    As you have rightly pointed out, if this behavior by Lord Obama persists and this appointment is sustained by him, ultimately the courts must decide it’s legality. Not you and not me. If this matter were a mere trifle, as you seem to suggest, it would never have been an issue in the first place, so readily (and quite eloquently, I might add) hand-waived away by you and your FTB cohorts, yes?

    Would such conduct qualify as hubris?

    (And, please to forgive sir or madam, but what exactly did I project onto you might I ask?)

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