Democrats Denounce Obama for Bush-Like Signing Statement That He Is Not Bound By Federal Legislation

1-135Four House Democrats have finally stepped forward to denounce the Bush-like policies of President Obama, particularly his recent signing statement proclaiming that he is not bound by federal legislation. The letter was signed by Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; and subcommittee chairs Reps. Nita Lowey and Gregory Meeks of New York. The letter breaks from the lockstep loyalty shown Obama despite his adoption of many of Bush’s most controversial positions.

The four democrats expressed how they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s declaration in June that he does not have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill restricting $106 million aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

This signing statement followed a similar signing statement declaring that he was not bound by limitations in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill. The signing statement on that bill occurred two days after Obama promised to depart from the abuses of signing statements by Bush.

The House has voted to oppose Obama’s signing statements, here.

Just to keep a rough score, here is the top ten list of Obama’s rollback on civil liberties and constitutional principles:

1. Issued signing statements asserting that he is not subject to the limitations set by Congress (despite his campaign promises opposing such statements);

2. Opposed any investigation into the torture program (here) and alleged war crimes of the Bush Administration;

3. Opposed any investigation into the unlawful surveillance program;

4. Preserved the surveillance programs of the Bush Administration;

5. Withheld photographs of the abuse of detainees to prevent “embarrassment” to the nation as well as White House logs;

6. Promised CIA employees that they will not be investigated or prosecuted for any crimes that they allegedly committed as part of the torture and surveillance programs;

7. Asserted that, even if acquitted in court, he would retain the right to hold detainees indefinitely and will preserve the Bush tribunal system;

8. Delayed his own deadline for a report on the future for Guantanamo Bay and detainees and opposed the right of detainees to challenge their confinement;

9. Asserted executive privilege arguments in court that go beyond prior Bush claims; and

10. Secure the dismissal of dozens of civil liberties lawsuits designed to uncover unlawful conduct and deprivation of privacy rights.

In his morphing into Bush, Obama has even outdone Bush on references to Jesus — while expanding his faith-based initiatives.

Of course, most members were not so moved to confront Obama on his opposition to any investigation or prosecution for torture. It took his refusal to comply with their authority over appropriation that produced this “chagrined” response.

Many Democrats appear blind to the hypocrisy shown in the treatment of Obama and the media on civil liberties. When Bush took these positions, he was rightfully denounced. Yet, the opposition to Obama is far more muted and nuanced. I supported Obama. However, he has abandoned not only campaign promises but basic principles of human rights and civil liberties in these policies. Democrats are showing the same cult of personality that destroyed the Republicans in their blind loyalty to George Bush.

For the story, click here.

47 thoughts on “Democrats Denounce Obama for Bush-Like Signing Statement That He Is Not Bound By Federal Legislation

  1. Sounds like it is time for a Crosby, Stills and Nash song. Ohio.

    Four Dead in Ohio….How many more….

    At least he does not have line item veto anymore. Stupid Republican Ideal.

  2. I know that I am personally getting tired of hearing about this “HEALTH CARE REFORM”,theses pols with health care cthat “WE” are paying for and telling us whats good and not good for us.Oh and what happen to “TRANSPARENCEY”?

  3. The worst problem with everything Obama does is the denial of it’s import by his supporters. It is past time for the denial to stop. The evidence is clear that Obama will try to give the veneer of legality to anti-Constitutional proposals, and should this fail, he is as willing as Bush to make an open, naked grab for power. He has already done so while his suppporters make excuse after excuse for his unconscionable actions. If his supporters do not stop their unquestioning support for their candidate, he will finish the job Bush started and we will be an open dictatorship.

    Loyalty to Obama does not mean that one ignores what he is doing. The greatest love and the greatest loyalty to another person means demanding that they do that which is good and opposing them when they do evil. It is not disloyal to demand these things. It is an act of love. Blind obediance is not about love, it is about power. I ask Obama supporters, whom I feel truly do love Obama, to act as though they love him, and tell him, he has crossed a line they will not accept. No more excuses. No more denial of what he’s doing. A demand–you did not vote for a man so he could be a dictator. You voted for a man whom you believed would bring justice to our detainees, to our poor, our middle class, to our environment, to the people of this nation. You voted for him to end the war(s) and economic injustice. He is failing on every account. You must hold him to account for these failures. If he does not immediately change course you should call for his impeachment. The last thing a tyrant needs is people who say they love him, excusing and abetting his every move.

    I hope every person of conscience whether a supporter in the past, now or never will not turn away from the dangerous path this president is on. Look him squarely in the eyes, join with any person, of any party who will opppose what is wrong. I commend the four members of Congress who have taken this stand. There are real consequences for going up against this president, and their actions showed courage. We need everyone to be courageous or this country is lost.

  4. Obama and Biden were elected illegally due to the fact they were guilty of high crimes – War Crimes. These were US and International crimes. They can be arrested today under USC TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > §§ 2441 – War Crimes. Obama is NOT the president of the United States.

  5. I am pleased that a few Democrats have finally found the gumption to challenge the president on these issues. Many more need to do so. And while they’re at it, it would be nice if they could muster the courage to let the Republicans know that they are a minority in Congress.

  6. BuenaVistaMall.com 1, July 22, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Obama and Biden were elected illegally due to the fact they were guilty of high crimes – War Crimes. These were US and International crimes. They can be arrested today under USC TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > §§ 2441 – War Crimes. Obama is NOT the president of the United States.
    ********************

    So if I am to understand you correctly, they are war criminals because they were in the senate and voted for the war approps bill? Hum, sounds like everyone in the running at the time is a war criminal but Palin. And you expect her to do the right thing? Yeah right, she can’t even run Alaska.

  7. Upon entering the Senate in 2005 through April 2007 Obama voted for every war-funding bill that came before him. Obama, despite his anti-war rhetoric, has cast at least 11 votes for
    war-funding bills. Funding a War of Aggression is a War Crime, each vote was a War Crime. Obama and co-conspirators are guilty in the deaths and maiming of hundreds of thousands of
    men, women and children. Some estimate as many as 1,400,000 Iraqis have died due to the US-led war. Obama approved funds which were used to buy bombs and bullets to murder and maim tens of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani children.

  8. BuenaVistaMall.com 1, July 22, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Upon entering the Senate in 2005 through April 2007 Obama voted for every war-funding bill that came before him. Obama, despite his anti-war rhetoric, has cast at least 11 votes for

    ****************

    So what. And how would you have voted, providing that you are even capable of Voting?

  9. I want to add something to what I said above. One common excuse for Obama’s bad actions is that he was left a mess by the Bush administration. Who can deny he was left a mess? The problem with this excuse is, that if you look at JT’s list above and many other actions by Obama, you will see they have nothing to do with the mess Bush left him. They are Obama’s own affirmatively chosen policies in violation of the Constitution. The argument that Obama was left a mess does not deal with Obama’s chosen actions to destroy the rule of law. That choice is his own.

    Further, if you look at the actions taken to deal with the messes left by the Bush administration, you will see the problem does not lie with Republicans or the Congress or the mess itself. The real problem lies in the fact that Obama is continuing with the policies of Bush. He is not dealing with the crises that face us. He is a part of the crises by refusing to change the policies of his predecessor. If you take a look at what Obama, not Bush, has done with the Treasury, the bailout, the stimulus plan etc. you will see that he has himself committed and allowed to be committed financial fraud. He did not need to do this because he was left a mess by Bush. He did this because his donors are from the financial sector and he is repaying them.

    Likewise with healthcare reform and the energy crisis, he is not putting forward plans that will help, he is putting forth plans that will benefit his donors. He is trying to keep secret that energy companies and insurance companies are both his donors and helping him write up his proposals by keeping the public from seeing his WH logs. The idea that he is opposing these major industries is propaganda, not reality. The idea that he is working hard to clean up Bush’s mess is propaganda, not reality. The reality is that in the financial, war, and other domestic arenas Obama is not fighting the last administration, he is carrying the ball forward for them.

  10. cvictorg,

    True about Bush, very likely true about Obama. Still, if his supporters told Obama to do what he was elected to do or they will call for his impeachment, that’s a lot of pressure. It wouldn’t hurt for the govt. to be scared of the people for a change!

  11. “When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson

    Does anybody think the government fears the people? -The only fear any of them have is the fear of not being reelected; and in the partisan world in which we live, the (D) or (R) is more important to most, than is the person bearing such party association.

  12. No need to impeach Obama, he can be arrested. He is NOT the president.

    I expect the military to do their duty soon and arrest him, many of his administration and most of Congress, etc.

  13. One of the things we learned in Prof Turley’s torts class was a theory that small groups of well organized people will almost invariably prevail over large groups (i.e. the electorate). This theory was proposed by Mancur Olson. Large groups have “free riders” and distributed interests.

    I really think this is how our democracy works. I don’t think there is much hope for change, given the gargantuan monetary requirements to run for (re-)election. Moreover, it appears as if being elected president has a degrading effect on ideals and promises. I think it’s about the power.

    My reaction to Obama is that I like him, but should I really continue to feel that way? I think a lot of it comes from personal identification with him as someone who’s actually smart, and who can discuss complex issues with relative ease. It’s all pretty dispiriting actually.

    Unlike years gone by, being president is an almost guaranteed ticket to becoming a millionaire after leaving office. Look at Clinton. Obama will rake in the dollars after he’s out of office. What does he really have to lose? If he tried to do great and principled things, wouldn’t that have a positive effect on his legacy? I wonder if our system would be better if the presidency was a one term 6 year affair. No re-election possible.

  14. “When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson

    Does anybody think the government fears the people? -The only fear any of them have is the fear of not being reelected; and in the partisan world in which we live, the (D) or (R) is more important to most, than is the person bearing such party association.

    The way the rules are now it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a viable third party on the national scene – SO – it looks like there is no alternative

    What is the answer – I fear there is none

  15. If Iranians can fight back against their govt. we can do the same. Chances of success are low, but we should still try. I actually think this is a good time for a third party. “Kick their asses out and throw their trunks behind them!” is my slogan for a 3rd party. Do not send contributions to either major party, only to individuals who uphold the rule of law. EFF.org has some good ideas on organizing using the internet under repressive regimes such as Iran and our own. I am not advocating violence but don’t go down without a fight. And I do think Obama would be given a lot of pause if his supporters said they would ask for his impeachment if he fails to immediately withdrawl all his anti-Constitutional policies and does not address ending the wars, the economic crisis, climate change etc. He’s counting on everyone taking their “quietus”. Impeachment should be a threat he can believe in.

    foo, I’ll look Olson up. I did hear a very good analysis of why Obama is so appealing yesterday. I don’t agree with all of it, but I think some important points were discussed.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106853619

  16. Glenn Greenwald points to another area mirroring JT’s statement above:

    “…last month, the Obama White House adopted the Bush/Cheney view of White House secrecy to insist on its right to conceal the identity of coal executives visiting the White House to discuss clean air policies. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent today notes that the Obama White House is now doing something similar but worse: namely, refusing to disclose the list of health care industry executives with whom White House officials have been meeting to discuss health care policy — even as Obama’s vows of “White House transparency” remain on the White House website.

    I believe, literally, that I never heard a single Democrat or progressive defend Dick Cheney’s refusal to disclose the names of the energy executives with whom he met in the White House to formulate energy policy. Given that both the rationale and actions of the Obama White House here are identical, is there any possible justification for what Obama is doing?”

  17. Foo writes:
    I really think this is how our democracy works. I don’t think there is much hope for change, given the gargantuan monetary requirements to run for (re-)election. Moreover, it appears as if being elected president has a degrading effect on ideals and promises. I think it’s about the power.

    me: it always has been about the power.
    look at all the post WW2 campaigns and you will find elements of candidates who say what they think the people want to know in order to get elected and then do something else after they are sworn in. the office is not about serving the people, it is about serving the big interest groups that get presidents elected and then about consolidating power to get re-elected. think: 1st 100 days, midterms, relection, four more years. that is not a strategy for serving the people.

    Foo: My reaction to Obama is that I like him, but should I really continue to feel that way? I think a lot of it comes from personal identification with him as someone who’s actually smart, and who can discuss complex issues with relative ease. It’s all pretty dispiriting actually.

    me: he was never my guy. he was the alternative to a ticket that was really distasteful and this is what guides most voters most often. we do want smart leaders, but we also want honest leaders who do the right thing even if its the difficult thing to preserve the constitution and the rights of the people even if it costs them.

    Foo: Unlike years gone by, being president is an almost guaranteed ticket to becoming a millionaire after leaving office. Look at Clinton. Obama will rake in the dollars after he’s out of office. What does he really have to lose? If he tried to do great and principled things, wouldn’t that have a positive effect on his legacy? I wonder if our system would be better if the presidency was a one term 6 year affair. No re-election possible.

    me: one 6 year term would be an interesting way to solve this re-election thing but there would still be mid-terms and the white house is always having to work to get their side re-elected and that means special interests.

    keep thinking …. keep working for what makes us better as a nation.

  18. Jill writes: I actually think this is a good time for a third party. “Kick their asses out and throw their trunks behind them!” is my slogan for a 3rd party. Do not send contributions to either major party, only to individuals who uphold the rule of law.

    you make a good point. perhaps this is a good time for a 3rd party. the largest segment of voters now are undecideds — independents.

  19. Jim Byrne writes: When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson

    Does anybody think the government fears the people? -The only fear any of them have is the fear of not being reelected; and in the partisan world in which we live, the (D) or (R) is more important to most, than is the person bearing such party association.

    no, Jim. The gov’t does not fear the people and has not done so for a long, long time.

  20. I agree with just about all the points made here regarding Obama abuse of civil rights. What I’m wondering, however, is what can we do about it? Vote in Jebb Bush? Rush? McCain? And what do we do in the meantime?

    Also, I expect the health care bill to end up as nothing more than forced insurance. The “public option” is a crock. He never meant for it to go anywhere anyway. We’ll be like fish in a barrel for the insurance companies to shoot.

    Frankly, I think Kerry would have been considerably more principled than Obama is turning out to be.

  21. I think that Obama is taking some of these actions due to advice from Rahm and others. Even though he has done some good things already, he needs to “allow” the torture enablers to be investigated and prosecuted. I am not sure I understand some of the comments calling the health care reform a sell out when we don’t even have a passed bill yet. He has remained firm on the public option and has even backed taxing the wealthy to help pay for the health care reform. Jill, I understand the call to release the names of who he has met with, but he is pushing for significant health care reform and before we complain about the bill, lets see what gets passed and through both houses.

  22. Excellent and timely post, as well as some thoughtful and thought provoking replies.

    I never had a dog in the last presidential race. Due to the “I” on my voter registration card (and with the state of Florida having closed primaries), I could only cajole my “D” and “R” friends and family to flip the switch for Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. After that, I begged them to do the same for either Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. Or anybody else besides McCain or Obama. Now all I get to say is “I told you so” as I ruefully shake my head. And even that has lost it’s luster.

    That being said, I’ve been on the outside looking in on the cult of personality that has enveloped our presidents over the last three administrations. And, suffice to say, I’m thoroughly disgusted at how people line up to defend their political party or politician much in the same way (and with the same import) that one roots for sports teams; do or die, no matter what. I keep waiting for the outrage to come from Democrats at the erosion of civil liberties and blatant wrong doings (a la Bush) that they screamed about during the last administration, but all I hear, besides the irritation mewling of party apologists, is the sound of crickets.

    I never had happy thoughts about Obama (or Bush, for that matter), but I find that I grow more and more concerned as my B.S.-O-Meter ™ rings loud and clear every day as I scan the news. I fear that the slippery slope that we tread upon has now turned at angle, and we’re headed straight down into the abyss. The points raised in the post speak very loudly to that. Perhaps I have grown a tad pessimistic as I’ve grown older…

    (Personal aside to Prof Turley: Great Blog from a smart man. Thank you and keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.)

  23. rafflaw,

    You know I care about you and I like you, so please never question me on that! But you are doing exactly what Obama supporters need to stop doing– namely, making excuses for him. You said: ” I think that Obama is taking some of these actions due to advice from Rahm and others….” That is excusing his behavior and not holding him to account for his decisions. He hired Rahm and he can fire him. We cannot claim that our illegal and immoral decisions are the result of “influence” by others. JT laid out a clear pattern of illegal and immoral actions. They have a common thread behind them– the desire for executive dictatorial power. This is like saying Cheney was only doing what Yoo told him to do. We all know it’s the reverse and it’s the reverse of Rahm telling Obama what to do. You are ignoring evidence because you like Obama. And I’m saying if you like a person or if you love them, it is your duty to be honest about who they are and what they are doing. That is an act of respect. It is also an act of respect to demand that Obama act within the laws of our nation. If he knows he can keep counting on his supporters to give him a pass, he’ll take that pass. You didn’t buy these arguments about Bush and Cheney, you shouldn’t buy them about Obama.

    As to health care, you’re right, we don’t know what the final bill will look like. What we do know that the health care lobbyists are out in force. We cannot afford (literally and figuratively) to ignore who is lobbying both Obama and the Congress. Should we ignore this, and wait until they have written the legislation for us, it will be “game over” before we even get a chance to present what we need instead of what the health care industry will make money on. We need to know who Obama is meeting with in the same way we needed to know who Cheney met with on his “energy” taskforce.

    rafflaw,

    You said you would get on the bus and protest if Obama didn’t follow the rule of law. He isn’t following the rule of law, he’s undermining it. If you really like and respect Obama you will not let him get away with this. You will demand he uphold’s his oath. You will quit making excuses for him.

    I hope you still like me after what I said and I’ll understand if you don’t, but I feel too much respect for you not to say something.

  24. Fine summary. Bookmarked.

    If Obama’s not bound to acting in good faith for the People, then the People have zero obligation to realize his plans and should begin instead planning a series of massive strikes to disable Corporate until we get his ear.

    Disable again, if Obama refuses to listen, and shut it down if all else fails. He’s messing with an occupied people who are real pissed off and biting at the bit for real democracy and justice. Continuing Bush policy is unacceptable and begs for a significant response in the streets and in the market place.

    Give it back to the People or pay with a single term. Every violation of the Constitution and the GCs that Obama refuses to prosecute is one step closer to his removal from office.

    If Obama wants to know what happened to the Public Option, should it fail, all he need do is look into the mirror to see how he’s devastated the work of our Founders just like Cheney/Bush.

  25. Turley is getting fucked for calling Obombaton out for being a FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL LYING JACKASS.

    Turley knows the Obombaton is a puppet and a stooge for the CFR and TRILATERAL COMMISSION and the ROTHSCHILDS/BILDERBERGERS, and that also pisses off the Dinocratic Party of GOP emulating fuckers.

    “Change you CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE IS HAPPENING AND MAKING BUSH LOOK LIKE AN ACOLYTE IN COMPARISON..”

  26. Mr. Turley is absolutely right, as usual, I noticed he has been on much less lately but did not make the connection, I have been watching both shows less lately because they have been so easy on President Obama. If we do not hold Pres. Obama to the same standard we held Pres. Bush we are hypocrites.I am very disappointed at President Obamas’ “Change” and the way he has been let off the hook so to speak by the anti-war crowd. When I voted for change I did not realize it meant change to be more like Bush. I think Mr. Turley should have his own show.

  27. The indications are pretty clear that Omama wants something to happen on health care, but won’t insist on the “public option”. He has pretty much said so himself. In his last public address on health care, the subject that was conspicuously missing was the public option. No mention of it whatsoever. A lot of talk, however, from Obama and Reid on trying to get consensus with the Republicans or some of them.

    To say that the public option was always a crock is perhaps overstating it. But it emphatically conveys what seems to be more and more the plausible case

  28. Obama-Reneg-Orama is becoming a monikor of sorts. A few comments up someone cites that Obama, Bush, Kerry, Clinton, Carter, Reagan, all belonged to secret societies (CFR, Skulls, Bilderbergers, C-Street etc.) all with treasonous anti-American agendas and oaths to subvert the country, rob and rape the people and turn the country into mini Nazi America to benefit themselves.
    They plotted and planned, infiltrating various gov and court posts for years, in secret, before they were recently discovered and exposed and now they rear their ugly heads attempting to claim the country has a f;n Decider. They were right, since the Bush v. Gore illegal fraud of an illection, we did have a Decider and he was decided by a Supreme Court who picked the WORST RATED president in history 5-4. For this the Supreme Jokers, who usurped our votes and stole democracy, the thing they were charged under oath to uphold, should be as Trump say FIRED, then tried if the effort was to advance a treason upon the People.
    Since they siezed the Executive, the poisoned and politicized the Judicial and planted culties all over the place, that unless we go back and undo illegal appointments by illegal president Bush and perhaps Obama, we have a long way to go in cleaning it all up. Yet in one blow we can prevent it with some Pipe Hitting Anti Cult Legislation forcing them to the light and you know secret hate to be illuminated @ http://www.iviewit.tv/senatecultbill.htm

  29. While it’s disturbing that Obama has taken up some of Republican Bush’s worst policies, amongst them the unconstitutional signing statements, it seems many of the posters have some, uhm, odd ideas about things.

    For those that want to “start” a third party, apparently they haven’t been paying attention to the “Libertarian” Party or the “Green” Party or any of the myriad other parties that’ haven’t had any luck for decades.

    You’d have more luck in trying to take over and reform the (R) and (D) Parties from the inside.

    And it’s bizarre talking about war crimes considering the list of Torture Crimes that the Republican Bush/Cheney regime just got away with.

    After eight years of disastrous Republican policies that were largely encouraged or acquiesced to by the right the current President is still considered a blessing by much of the left.

    And as for the “left” not speaking up about Obama’s continuation of some of Bush’s more egregious policies, that’s simply nonsense. Even “Jill” points to Glenn Greenwald, who has been absolutely consistent with loudly expressing his complaints regardless of who’s in office.

    Complaints about Obama’s policies have been repeated by Maddow, Olbermann, Ed Schultz, many of the other left wing radio hosts, and myriad left wing blogs from OpenLeft, Corrente, TalkLeft, amongst others.

    Suggesting that the left isn’t complaining is somewhere between absurd and concern trolling.

  30. House overwhelmingly rejects signing statement
    By Walter Alarkon
    Posted: 07/09/09 06:48 PM [ET]
    The House rebuked President Obama for trying to ignore restrictions to international aid payments, voting overwhelmingly for an amendment forcing the administration to abide by its constraints.

    House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require a Treasury Department report on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) activities. The amendment to a 2010 funding bill for the State Department and foreign operations was proposed by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), but it received broad bipartisan support.

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/house-overwhelming-rebukes-obama-signing-statement-2009-07-09.html

  31. _________________________________

    Quote:

    Bush’s Search Policy For Travelers Is Kept

    “The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search — without suspicion of wrongdoing — the contents of a traveler’s laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.”

    “Under the policy begun by Bush and now continued by Obama, the government can open your laptop and read your medical records, financial records, e-mails, work product and personal correspondence — all without any suspicion of illegal activity,” said Elizabeth Goitein, who leads the liberty and national security project at the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/27/AR2009082704065.html
    ________________________________

  32. what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Great, now everyone in this room is now dumber for reading it! I am shaking my head with unbelief, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  33. How did “Dinocrats Love whatever blah blah” get that post up there with all the F*CKS in it? Is the moderator-thingy busted or f*cked up or something?

Comments are closed.