Some thoughts on the NDAA

There’s been a lot of discussion and furor over the National Defense Authorization Act, with numerous bloggers making claims which are not based on what is actually in the bill.  I’ve addressed some of this before, but I still see a lot of people – most notably Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler, and the usual gang of idiots -  making various assertions about it, particularly the “indefinite detentions” provisions.    Let’s get real, for a moment, shall we?

First off, there is nothing in this bill which is “new.”  I know that Winning Progressive has a new post up saying it sets a “precedent”, and as much as I usually agree with them, they’re wrong.  Yes, it puts into an authorization statements, but they simply say that the existing  powers and capability are still in force.  That’s not “precedent.”  That’s the status quo.

Secondly, there was this quote:

That amendment failed 38-60. That vote total, however, does suggest that the Senate may not have been able to override a veto had the President issued one.

It’s a forlorn hope.  The bill passed 86-13.  So, even with that “odious” language, no, the Senate would have been able to override a veto.  It passed the House by 283 – 136, by the way, also a greater than 2:1 margin.   What people forget is that this is the bill that funds the military.  It’s considered a “must pass” bill.

There seems to be a notion that if President Obama had vetoed it, Congress would have gone back and redone the bill.  The vote totals say something quite different.  They would have simply voted to override, and they had the votes to do it.   Now, yes,  lots of liberal bloggers would have been thrilled to death that he vetoed it.  Well, not really.  Most of them would have come up with another reason why he “failed.”   Getting overridden on a veto wouldn’t have done much for him, either.

So the practical aspects were that the language had been changed enough from the most objectionable proposals – which still seems to be the sheet of music Greenwald and company are working off of – to something which basically said “nothing changes from before” and the President has said he’s not going to enforce.   Ideal?  No, not even close.  But it’s what you can get now.

You want those changed?  Then you have to change Congress first.  That’s what everyone seems to ignore.  Every major “must pass” funding bill is going to have something objectionable to someone in it.  That’s the reality of politics.  The only way you keep it from being objectionable to you is if you can get Congress on your side.  Otherwise, you’re just wasting time.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Some thoughts on the NDAA

  1. Thank You! I get so frustrated with these people who just can’t seem to GET the concept that we have a Congress and Senate who create and pass bills. The Prez could not veto this bill without a huge furor that would have hurt the Military and our vets plus, as you say, his veto would have been over ridden anyway.

    Just as a final thought, Greenwald is a slug, a slime sucking goatfigger!

    • The reason I’m picking on WP – even though I like them – is that they’re making a common assumption. That a vote on a proposed amendment indicates what a vote will be on a final bill. There were 25 Senators who voted for the proposed amendment who voted for the final bill. I doubt they’re going to go back to the drawing board, and all that means is a few weeks to months before a new bill would be passed. Reality? They’d just override the veto.

    • ArrogantDemon

      Outrage lefties who are too ignorant to see the forst for the trees has been the best cash cow and blog hits for these people, why spoil it with the truth?

      We have to work against the lies of the left, the right, and the ignorant who parrot them from blogs to airwaves.

      Its like we’re in our own version of the Walking Dead, and where’s my tall sista with the samurai sword cutting down zombies, I requested that

      • ultraviolet_uk

        I suspect that a lot of the outrage about this on the left has been deliberately stoked by right-wingers who saw an opportunity to suppress the Obama vote. And too many on the left fell for it hook, line and sinker. Nobody among the poutrage merchants has thought beyond the very first step: Obama should have vetoed. OK. My first question is, where is your outrage at Congress for presenting him with this bill to sign in the first place? My second question is, suppose he did veto? Then what? The reason they don’t answer is clearly because they would have to acknowledge the following:

        Congress would override the veto.
        Obama would have handed the Republicans a dream “weak on security” card to play.
        The objectionable clauses would still have been passed.

        I would love to think that if Obama had come out with an impassioned speech as to why the rule of law is so important that he had to veto this bill, the country would have risen up as one in acclaim for his honourable stance.

        But we all know that the majority of the American people today are far too scared, thanks to the effective scaremongering tactics of the right wing, to give a flying fig about the civil rights of suspected terrorists. I wish it were otherwise, but we are a long way from there yet.

        So I see only downside from Obama doing anything other than signing this bill, and no conceivable benefit. And it sickens me that people on the left are not only too stupid to see this, but go even further and describe this as Obama deliberately grabbing more power to himself. A President less keen to arrogate powers to himself I have never known.

        • To some extent, but really, the so-called “Left” is always looking for excuses to attack the President. The “big names” are still nursing grudges that their favored candidates in 2008 didn’t win, and that the President hasn’t been properly “resepectful” to them for their “help” in getting elected. :roll:

  2. mdblanche

    Let’s see…

    If President Obama had vetoed the NDAA, Congress would have overridden the veto. Heaven forfend its opponents try to persuade their congressmen to vote to sustain the veto. That would disrupt their normal “nobody listens to us” surrender-in-advance. Instead they’d turn around and blame Obama for not persuading Congress all by himself. Probably something about “weak” and “inadequate”. Meanwhile, all the mainstream media outlets would have spent the last weeks of the year talking about how Obama was doing something pointless that risked paying the troops instead of how Boehner was doing something pointless that risked everyone’s tax break.

    These obnoxious people don’t act in a way that makes it worth a politician’s while to listen to them, and then have nerve to complain that no politician ever listens to them!

  3. Nathan Katungi

    “Every major “must pass” funding bill is going to have something objectionable to someone in it. That’s the reality of politics. The only way you keep it from being objectionable to you is if you can get Congress on your side.”

    Thank you, Norbrook, for stating the absolute TRUTH about political reality! The most disheartening thing about the PL is their naivety. The PL have absolutely no clue about the reality of governing a country that is so ideologically divided.

    • Back in the ’90′s, one of the major funders of breast cancer research was the US Army. Why not NIH? Well, because it got cut out of the NIH funding bill. So Sen Mikulski, IIRC, simply stuck a funding requirement for it into the military’s authorization. Objectively speaking, breast cancer research had nothing to do with any military necessity, was not “in their area of expertise,” and shouldn’t have been in there. But, there it was, so if you were looking for grants, you talked to the Army about it. I’m not objecting to the funding, but it’s a great example of how “things that shouldn’t be there” are often stuck into various “must pass” bills. That’s why you often see politicians doing the “against it before I was for it” dance. They may be against a specific provision, but there’s usually one or more other ones they promulgated in the bill that they want to pass. So while they may vote against inserting a provision, or a version of it, as a stand-alone, they’ll turn around and vote for the entire bill even if it contains the provision they were against.

      • ultraviolet_uk

        We have a very useful rule in the UK. Every piece of legislation has its short title – what the Bill is known as – and below that, its long title. The long title spells out the purpose of the bill in full. The long title cannot be changed. And nothing can be added to the Bill that is not directly related to the purpose spelt out in the long title.

        In that way, we ensure that people cannot play these silly games and engage in pork barrel politics like they do over there.

        If you want to clean up politics, perhaps you ought to campaign for long title rules in Congress.

        • Actually, this does have a very short title: The National Defense Authorization Act for 2012. Most of the sections (of which there are a lot) relate to military spending. These few sections are inserts regarding handling of suspected terrorists captured overseas.

  4. I agree with you, Norbrook. Excellent post and straight to the point.

  5. “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”
    Brendan Behan

    Behan was part of a crossword puzzle today. He has some pretty good quotes and this is my favorite for today. Thanks Norbrook!

    • I think when it comes to things like this, they’re more “telling everyone how it should be done, regardless of whether that’s the way it actually is done.” :lol: