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Works and Days

Questions from Oceania

May 1st, 2009 - 7:09 pm

Who will Lend?

1) We are going to spend over $3.5 trillion next year, run up an annual debt of $1.7 trillion, and are on schedule to add another $9 trillion to reach an aggregate debt of $20 trillion in eight years. The Obama administration and the Congress spend days on end fighting over how to spread and spend the borrowed money. But still, no one ties the additional expenditures to additional revenues. Can the President say, “We will borrow $.6 trillion from the Chinese, $.4 from the Japanese, $.2 trillion from the Europeans, and $.5 from American bond holders” in order finance this year’s budget”? Will someone simply give us a blueprint of where and how the $1.7 trillion is to be raised— x amount of loans for each new y federal agency?

Waterboarding or No Brains?

2) I’ve raised this example twice now. But, really, how is waterboarding a known detained terrorist like Khalid Sheik Mohammed (who confessed to cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head [with two knives after the first went dull], and to planning the 9/11 mass murder) at Guantanamo considered a war crime, while blowing up with a Predator drone suspected terrorists (and all those, including women and children, in their general vicinity) not?

The latter victims were not given habeas corpus, and Miranda rights, and there is a greater doubt about their guilt from 10,000 feet than is the case with the much studied psychopath KSM in Guantanamo. Most suspects would prefer to be water-boarded than vaporized? Ditto the Somali pirates, whose heads were blown off during their apparent attempts at negotiating extortion, again a bit more drastic than waterboarding. Would a future President Sanford or Giuliani be right to bring charges against those in the Obama administration who green lighted assassinations of suspected terrorists—something akin to the Phoenix program in Vietnam?

All About Abortion and Affirmative Action

3.) Given the fact that Barack Obama voted against both Justices Alito and Roberts, (and wanted to filibuster Alito) would he object should Republicans en masse simply say no to his new liberal Supreme Court judicial nominee? As I recall Obama’s comments, he simply confessed two things: one, the two nominees were qualified; two, their politics made them too unsympathetic to his own political agenda, so they should be rejected.

Remember Obama’s assessment of Alito that had nothing to do with the law and everything to do with politics (“He’s a smart guy, there’s no indication that he is not a man of good character. But, when you look at his record, what is clear is that when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless.”), and Roberts (“In those 5 percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions or whether the commerce clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled — in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge’s heart.”)

War, No War, Sorta War?

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