Presidential Powers, Unchecked by Democrats, Now Accrue to Trump

In The Intecept, journalist Alex Emmons paints a frightening picture outlining the expansion of power the Obama administration carved out for itself to fight terrorism and to engage in military actions in foreign countries and recent attempts by the Administration to suggest some parameters for applying those powers in advance of the coming transition of power to a new president.

In a November 11 piece, Emmons provides examples of the loosening of the reins that enabled the president to engage in military action against ISIS in Syria and Libya, Al Shabaab in Somalia, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, to greatly expand the use of drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists in foreign countries, to conduct an unprecedented level of domestic surveillance, to detain and deport a record number of undocumented aliens, and more.

“After eight years of trusting the President with expanding military power, liberals must now reckon with the fact that Obama will pass the same capabilities to a man who has proposed killing terrorists’ innocent family members, who has said he would do ‘a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,’ and who has suggested dipping bullets in pigs’ blood is sound counterterrorism strategy.”

In a follow-up article, Emmons covers some of the things the Obama Administration has done, in anticipation of a new Commander-in-Chief taking office, to suggest some boundaries around certain expanded powers. Perhaps most important of these is a report, released December 5 summarizing the Administration’s views regarding legal and policy limits to presidential military power. Per Emmons:

“…in trying to defend Obama’s legacy, the report paints a picture of an administration far more restrained than it was in practice. The report comes just weeks before Trump will inherit bombing campaigns in seven countries, a legally unaccountable drone program, and an open prison at Guantanamo Bay.”

It is entitled, REPORT ON THE LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORKS GUIDING THE UNITED STATES’ USE OF MILITARY FORCE AND RELATED NATIONAL SECURITY OPERATIONS and can be found at JustSecurity.org.

Powers that were adopted by the Obama Administration in an era of global terror threat are Not Normal.  It’s not surprising that Republicans in Congress did not stand in the way but Democrats may now be concerned that the trust they bestowed on Obama now places them in the hands of a Not Normal Commander In Chief.

Read the full Nov. 11 article in The Intercept

Read the full Dec. 6 article in The Intercept

Will a New A&E TV Series Humanize the KKK?

Some argue that Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency was good for America because, in it, he “said some things that needed to be said”. He set aside political correctness and, in doing so, said what was on the minds of many Americans, they argue. That’s worrisome for many who did not vote for Trump.  Are there that many racists in America? The majority of Trump voters would not lay claim to that moniker. At least not currently. But what if being racist came to be acceptable in widening circles of society. What if it provided a sense of belonging to some who currently have no sense of affiliation – no “tribe” with which to identify?

A new series to be shown on the A&E Network, entitled “Generation KKK” might be just the ticket. By going inside a home in which individual family members struggle either to identify with or to reject their KKK legacy, A&E may well serve to “humanize” a segment of society that is currently very small and viewed by most with suspicion and revulsion.

In the linked article in Salon, Melanie McFarland asks:

At some point we’ll have to ask ourselves whether a show like this is fighting white supremacy or normalizing it.

Although the show’s producer states that the show has been in the works for a year and a half, McFarland points out that’s when Trump’s campaign began in earnest and capitalized on the bigotry and racial tension that has punctuated our national news. 

Read the full article at Salon

(photo credit: A&E)

We’re New – Give Us Some Runway?

Photo reprinted courtesy of Joi Ito under Creative Commons License.

Yes, that’s right. We’re the new kids on the block.

Look, if you think about it, Donald Trump was just elected President a month ago. It took us a little while to get over the shock, a couple of weeks to make the decision to remain residents of the US and “duke it out” with the forces of intolerance, hate, and nationalism. That has taken a while because it remained unclear for some time whether Donald Trump meant what he said during his campaign or if he was just saying whatever he felt he needed to say to get elected. It still is unclear even after several key Cabinet appointments have undergone confirmation hearings. What remains clear – to us – is that the Trump presidency has the capacity to severely deteriorate the fundamental character of what we know as America. Once we arrived at that conclusion, we decided that we had to take action. We hope you will, too.

Ultimately, we decided that, aside from normal activism, we needed to get involved in information dissemination. Not only because knowledge is critical for the proper functioning of a democracy that is under threat of having decisions made the way they are on reality TV shows but also because the act of disseminating information of the “Can you believe this?” variety might, in fact, be cathartic for us. The latter remains to be seen.

One thing for sure: publishing on the web in a blog is not as easy as it sounds if you haven’t been involved in it recently. The last time I was involved in the day-to-day creation of a website and the management of its content was back when Netscape was the leading web browser and one of the leading web publishing packages sold under the moniker “Hot Dawg” and required fairly advanced knowledge of HTML. Social media did not exist and the word “blog” would have conjured up images of a swamp filled with bubbles. I’m hoping that management of the site’s content will be a bit easier than it used to be but I did have to spend a lot of time getting up to speed on web hosting and ferret out what is included in free and premium packages for content management, WordPress themes, e-commerce mechanisms, and more. Trial and error became my reality.

In any case, we are on the shallow start of a learning curve and hope to be on the steep part of that curve in the near future. In the meantime, we hope you will give us the benefit of the doubt. And share our commitment to ensuring any and all travesties get highlighted as NotNormal. Thanks for visiting.