Thursday, February 28, 2013

Woodward is at it again

For whatever reason of his own (seemingly a very personal one), Bob Woodward has chosen to lash out at the Obama administration.  Previously, he had portrayed Obama as a novice in The Price of Politics.  Now, he states that the sequester was Obama's idea from the start, essentially supporting Boehner's current argument, as the Republicans find themselves taking most of the flack for the impasse on Capitol Hill.

Woodward claims a "very senior person" threatened him ahead of an op-ed piece he later published, claiming that Obama "moved the goal posts" on the Republicans by calling for more revenue.  This so called "sequester deal-changer" he believes is the reason for the impasse, not all the stonewalling the Republicans have been doing.

Former Obama campaign spokesperson, Lis Smith, said that "Woodward deserves a lot of credit for taking a macro story about DC dysfunction, competing econ theories & making it all about him."


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let's Win One for the Gipper

For all the fuss over the torture scenes depicted in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, I think more critics would have been concerned with the CIA praise poem Ben Affleck offers in Argo.  Granted, he does give us a cartoon history of Iran in the intro to tell us why the Iranians stormed the US Embassy.   Otherwise, we saw  Tony Mendez become a hero for carrying out a "good bad plan" with a little help from one of the Farsi-speaking US diplomats who managed to ease the suspicious minds of the Revolutionary Guard during an interrogation before boarding their flight out of Tehran.

I think most persons had forgotten (myself included) that six Americans had managed to escape the US Embassy during that fateful day on November 4, 1979, and hid out in the Canadian ambassador's residence for 80+ days before their daring escape.  For 20 years we were told this was the derring-do of the Canadian embassy, thanks largely to ambassador Ken Taylor, Our Man in Tehran.  But, according to Tony Mendez in his 1999 memoirs, The Master of Disguise, this was an elaborate CIA "exfiltration" carried out in concert with the Canadian state department.

The CIA had kept this secret for nearly two decades, but decided to declassify the information in the late 90s, naming Tony Mendez one of its 50 Trailblazers for his masterful works of deceit over the years.  You get the feeling that Mendez studied under Lansdale to hatch a plan like Argo.  But, given the only other viable alternative was to get the six Americans out on bicycle in the middle of winter, I guess a science fiction movie set in ancient Persia was the best of the bad plans.

The film offers a number of amusing scenes thanks to John Goodman and Alan Arkin, but Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez utterly humorlessly.  There were the occasional traces of irony and the ending bordered on farce, but Argo was essentially a homage to Mendez and his valiant effort to carry out his plan after it had been recalled by his chief.  The Canadian ambassador and his lovely Asian wife were almost incidental in their roles, and the six Americans came across as nothing more than guests who had long overstayed their welcome in the Canadian ambassador's residence.

Of course, Kathryn Bigelow is deathlessly serious in her films, so I suppose by contrast Argo was a real crowd-pleaser.   It certainly won over the award shows, not only in Hollywood, but it picked up three Baftas as well.  I would think the British, if not anyone else, would see through this thinly veiled tribute to the CIA.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Here Comes the Judge!

I probably should avoid mentioning books like this, but here is "Judge" Napolitano weighing in on Roosevelt and Wilson, who he dismissively refers to as Theodore and Woodrow in his new book on how they "destroyed" constitutional freedom.  What on earth he means by this is anyone's guess, but it is all part and parcel of the ongoing conservative assault on what it regards as America's liberal past, published in large part by Thomas Nelson.   The same guys who brought us David Barton's Jefferson's Lies.

Judging by the "reviews" it is the progressive streak in Roosevelt and Wilson that Napolitano takes exception to, ushering in a new era of regulation he says was previously unseen in "Federalist" America.  I don't imagine he digs too deep into the past, preferring to take the legislation that was passed during this time at face value.  If he did, he might have noted that Federalism died in 1800 with the election of Jefferson, and that Roosevelt modeled himself on Lincoln.  One could consider Roosevelt a reluctant progressive at best, as the new labor and anti-trust laws were not the srongest, as was the new tax code passed under Wilson, so it was hardly a big pinch on big business.  However, this new legislation did establish a precedent for stronger laws during FDR's administration, which conservatives like Napolitano so much abhor.

I suppose TR is an easy target for conservatives, since they pretty much disowned him from the start, which is why he created the Bull Moose Party.  Roosevelt became much more of a reactionary after he stepped down from the White House than he was while in the WH.  I don't imagine Napolitano is interested in how popular "Theodore" was at the time, and that he probably could have run for a third term and won, but TR deferred to his VP Taft, which he came to regret.   Roosevelt didn't think too favorably of Wilson either.  In many ways Wilson was an opportunist moreso than the radical visionary Napolitano presents him as.

You can hear these views spewed on Freedom Watch, his syndicated show with Faux News, where the former judge makes his home.  But, having his own show doesn't seem to be enough for Napolitano, who has quite a number of  books to his credit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Strange Case of Harry Dexter White

I was bemused to find Anne Applebaum calling out Harry Dexter White as a Soviet spy in her recent book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956.  Apparently, she drew her conclusion from Allen Weinstein's and Alexander Vassiliev's The Haunted Wood, from a few years back, which called out a number of top officials in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, based on the release of the Mitrokhin Archives.  However, many of these allegations have been challenged and refuted, notably that of White, who was fundamental in shaping Roosevelt New Deal policies and the creation of the International Monetary Fund.

James Broughton argues effectively in his paper, The Case Against Harry Dexter White, published in 2000, that these allegations are largely circumstantial, as White was dealing with a number of Soviet officials in his capacity as undersecretary to Morgenthau during the Roosevelt administration.  The Roosevelt administration treated the Soviet Union as an ally during WWII, exchanging information and in hashing out a post-war economy at Bretton Woods.  Although, Broughton concedes that in the end one can read whatever he wants into the "revelations" that were made by Mitrokhin.

White has been the subject of several books in recent years.  One of the major responses to the allegations was Treasonable Doubt by Bruce Craig, published in 2004.  Like Broughton, he defends White saying that the undersecretary's decisions were consistent with the policies being set by Morgenthau.  White was an internationalist and believed strongly in the integration of the Soviet Union in a new global economy, especially with Britain reduced as a result of the war.  Truman regarded White well enough to make him the head of the newly created International Monetary Fund in 1946, a post White held for one year before allegations swirling around about his Soviet sympathies resulted in his resignation.  He died in 1948, shortly after being cleared of any conflicts of interest.

It seems Anne Applebaum was content to take the VENONA decrypts at face value in regard to White.  She tossed out his name loosely, and has yet to circle back to note why she chose to mention him, unlike Walter Duranty, who she felt purposely downplayed the Ukranian famine that was occurring as a result of Stalin's policies.  She insists he was fully aware of it at the time.  Duranty was later exposed as a Soviet agent in the VENONA decrypts.  Broughton and Craig argue that one cannot draw such clear distinctions in regard to Harry Dexter White.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Filibuster of Chuck Hagel

The Republicans have recorded another first.  This time the first ever filibuster of a cabinet nominee for what amounts to nothing more than a show of force against the Obama administration.  These same Republicans mounted a successful preemptive strike against Susan Rice when it was rumored Obama would tap her for Secretary of State.  Now here they are going against one of their own in perhaps the most pathetic display they have made to date.

Chuck Hagel rankles a lot of Republicans because he went against his party in 2008 and endorsed Obama as President.  He retired from the Senate shortly thereafter and had been relatively quiet these past four years.   The Republicans, like the pachyderm they used to symbolize their party, never forget, or forgive it seems.

Hagel seems like the logical choice for Defense, a heavily decorated Vietnam vet who served 12 years in the Senate, and was respected by both parties for his strongly independent nature.  Yet, McCain and Graham took the lead in the attacks against Hagel, largely over his stated positions on Iran and Israel.

The Republicans claim they were "forced" into this vote by the Democrats.  Graham has staunchly defended his attempt to block Hagel's nomination, citing this is what the Democrats would do.  Yet, the Democrats never resorted to such a below-the-belt tactic like this in challenging any of Bush's appointees.  Clearly, this is an attempt by the Republicans to force Obama to withdraw his nomination and score points with their Tea Party base, fearing reprisals in 2014.

Many Republicans are already on the hot seat for having "caved in" on taxes earlier this year.  The Tea Party has identified Republicans their constituents feel betrayed Norquist's anti-tax pledge by giving in to Obama over the first battle over the artificial debt ceiling crisis.  Chuck himself would have most likely found himself a target if he had remained in office, but chose a propitious time to step down from the Senate, having found himself no longer in step with the GOP party line.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gras Mambo

Mardi Gras has a rich history dating back to 18th century,  but was banned under Spanish rule.  The celebration was reinstated in 1827 when merry marching was again allowed trough the streets of New Orleans.  Shrove Tuesday is one last Hurrah before the Lenten season, celebrated in many forms around the  world, including Lithuania where they call it Užgavėnės, and celebrate it by setting straw effigies afire in an effort to "burn out" winter.  But, the most recognized celebrations are Mardi Gras, the Venice Carnivale and the Rio Carnival.  I leave you with The Hawkettes singing Mardi Gras Mambo.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Marco Rubio: The New Republican Front Man

If there is one thing the Republicans learned after this past election it is to put a Latino front and center, now that the Latin-American vote has become a significant swing vote in this country.  Marco Rubio appears to be their man of the hour, picked to rebut Obama's State of the Union address tomorrow night.  But, who is Marco Rubio?

He seems to be pretty much following the model Obama set himself for his improbable Presidential run back in 2008 by releasing his own memoir, An American Son, well in advance of what appears to be a 2016 run.  Rubio has received largely favorable national press, despite not having distinguished himself in any memorable way.

The former Florida state senate leader rode on the swell of the Tea Party in 2010, comfortably defeating Charlie Crist in the Florida U.S. Senate primary, and then wisely tacked back to the middle in the general election to gain moderate support that lifted him to victory over Crist, who ran as an independent, and the distant Democratic challenger, Kendrick Meek.  Rubio seems to be relatively pragmatic for a Republican, or at least knows when to pick his fights.   He has opted in favor of immigration reform (an abrupt shift from 2010 when he attacked McCain on offering amnesty) and has a lenient position on student loans, having recently paid off his own student loans.  On national defense and relations with Cuba, you find the same old GOP hardline views, but he will no doubt reconsider these positions in the wake of Obama's Florida victory in the general election, having won over 50% of the Cuban-American vote, by promising a more liberal view toward Cuban travel.

But, he is always quick to attack Obama, as he did back in May of 2012, when he was invited to speak at a South Carolina fundraiser.  One has to expect he will temper his comments a little in the wake of Obama's victory and high favorable rating among Latinos.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Drone Wars

Mark Mazzetti is shedding light on America's "secret army" in his upcoming book, The Way of the Knife.  Obama finds himself in hot water these days over the constitutionality of his continued use of drones to carry out hits abroad.  The CIA has its own personal drone fleet in addition to that of the military.  Obama has expressed himself that he would like to see the two folded back into one, but continues to favor these surgical strikes against believed terrorists.

The use of drones is nothing new.  Remotely piloted vehicles, or RPVs, go back to the 50s but were primarily used as surveillance planes.  It was during the Vietnam War that RPVs began to carry missiles and were used for air strikes.  The newest generation of drones were extensively used under the Bush administration, but Obama has extended the "drone armada" even further, as Oliver Stone noted in his last episode of the Untold History of the United States, using it to police the world's air space.

Mazzetti calls it a "shadow war" carried out by the CIA that has resulted in growing concern over the US reliance on drones to carry out what essentially amount to extralegal executions, including those of American citizens who have joined one or another terrorist group abroad.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Battle of Bretton Woods

Economic history has always fascinated me and this looks like a good new book, The Battle of Bretton Woods, on the making of the new financial order following WWII.  It was out of Bretton Woods that the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization were born, an attempt to bring global financial security to a world that had literally been torn asunder.  The United States was the kingmaker in this regard.  Great Britain found itself for the first time in a subservient role, as the US held two-thirds of the world's gold reserves.

The dollar would become the new world common currency, on which exchange rates were based, creating a new standard which John Maynard Keynes called "the exact opposite of the gold standard."  Keynes wanted to go one step further and create a single global currency, but lost his argument.  It would take nearly 30 years before this system eroded to the point of collapse, with Nixon taking the dollar off the gold standard, as there wasn't enough to gold to cover the amount of dollars in circulation.  Currencies were allowed to float free for the first time since 1944.

Benn Steil explores the political intrigues, rival opinions and "acid humour" of the men making these decisions, notably John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chatting with Sonia Sotomayor

Last night, Charlie Rose had Sonia Sotomayor on his show discussing her recent book, My Beloved World. They covered a lot of ground on the show including how to write a Supreme Court position paper.  They mentioned some of the well crafted positions of the past, such as Hugo Black's position on Brown v. Board of Education and how Justice Sotomayor crafted hers, which have been criticized for being "dry."

It was quite interesting as she said she said Obama put her on a bit of a hot seat by saying he chose a justice nominee who brought empathy to the bench, and found herself having to defend herself before the Senate in this regard.  She said she had no idea what the President meant by it, other than she brought her own personal experience to the bench, as each justice does, but she feels it is very important to have proper legal grounding to all her decisions, not let herself be influenced by any emotional response to a particular case brought before her.

In her autobiography, she presents her personal experience in her "evocative, plain-spoken prose."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preserving America's Great Outdoors

President Obama has offered up some interesting nominees for cabinet appointments in his second term, but again the aim seems to be to find the right balance, not in rocking the boat, even if the Republicans have been crying foul over Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator, for Secretary of Defense.  I guess because they didn't quite expect Obama to throw one of their own at them, or upset that Hagel endorsed Obama back in 2008, which is obviously a sore point for McCain.

The Republicans are not quite sure what to make of Sally Jewell either.  She is Obama's pick for Secretary of Interior, a coveted position that has usually gone to a Western legislator.  Jewell is a former Mobil Oil company official who became a leading conservationist and has successfully managed Recreation Equipment Inc. (better known as REI) the past 8 years.  She is a Seattleite with a strong interest in the outdoors, which could bring a refreshing change to the cabinet.  Obama is pinning his hopes on her interesting mix of credentials.  She also has a degree in mechanical engineering, so can throw questions on dubious "fracking" right back in Congressional critics' faces.

I haven't been very happy with the decisions Salazar and Vilsack (Sec. of Agriculture) have been making these past four years.  They have made too many concessions to corporate interests.  Former Sec. of Interior Bruce Babbitt and others have voiced concerns, but have largely gone ignored.  One hopes that Obama won't be quite so compelled to relent to corporate pressure the second time around, and will try to leave a lasting legacy behind him in protecting our valuable natural resources.

One of the things Sally Jewell pointed out to Obama at a White House conference on America's Great Outdoor Initiative is that outdoor recreation is a $290 billion industry employing roughly 6,5 million persons.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Honoring Rosa Parks

The US Postal Service has released a stamp honoring Rosa Parks on what would have been her 100th birthday, and in turn her historic bus ride.  She boarded the Montgomery bus on December 1, 1955, as part of Martin Luther King, Jr. famous bus boycotts.  You can see the bus at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.   The stamp was first issued in Detroit, which she eventually made her home.  Interesting that there is no denomination on the stamp, but I assume it covers the domestic mail rate.

Here's Looking at you, kid

This book sounds really interesting.  Richard Lingeman is an unabashed liberal and cultural historian who takes us back to the "inter-war" years between WWII and the Cold War, roughly 1945-1950, and captures the mood of the time.  Lingeman lived through that time so he gives it an immediacy other authors are not able to, and deals with a specific period of time where the US could have gone anyway it liked on the open road that stretched out before it, but chose the most narrow way.  To read the author's preface, Lingeman doesn't look back in anger but rather bemusement.  There is even a chapter on "The Lonely Passion of Henry Wallace," as he draws heavily on book and movie references, particularly noir film references of the time, noting in his preface that this was the leading cultural reference at the time in films and in the highly popular pulp fiction.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Guns and Politics

The NRA has plunged to a new low by coming out with a list of National Organizations with Anti-Gun Policies.  It has been dubbed the "Enemies List" in the media, but at least the NRA was relatively careful with its wording, unlike Sarah Palin a few years back when she literally "targeted" Congressional races, including that of Gabby Giffords, which landed her in a lot of hot water when Giffords was shot.  But, the intent is clear.  The NRA wants its supporters to know who the "bad guys" are when it comes to "anti-gun" legislation.

Among those organizations listed are AARP, the Episcopal Church (Washington office), the National Education Association, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Service, The National Organization of Women, The YWCA and many others.  It once again demonstrates the NRA is less an organization concerned with gun safety than it is a political action committee, using its political muscle to not only attack what it perceives as local, state and federal anti-gun legislation, but those organizations that press for such legislation.

In some ways, this is good because it finally lets the cat out of the bag.  We are really beginning to see the NRA leadership for what it is -- a bunch of paranoid schizophrenics who seem incapable of accepting legislation that tries to promote sensible gun control, i.e. the Brady Bill and the "Clinton assault weapons ban."   The NRA has gone into hyper-drive in attacking the President and everyone else who supports the return of the assault weapons ban or tries to shore up the Brady Bill as "elitist hypocrites."   These measures might make it a little difficult for guys like Jared Loughner to purchase a gun and go out and shoot a Congresswoman in the head, and maybe deter women like Nancy Lanza from stocking up on assault weapons in fear of a coming Armageddon.

Instead, you see idiots like Larry Ward having the audacity to say that if Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today he would be against gun control, and making other outrageous claims as Gun Appreciation Day just happened to coincide with MLK Jr.'s birthday this year.  His is not the only attempt to link the right to bear arms to the civil rights struggle.  Then we have the notorious NRA ad that specifically targeted Obama's daughters, forcing even Joe Scarborough to shake his head in disbelief and wonder what is wrong with these people.  Wayne LaPierre defended that ad.

Notice how the NRA also sneaked a swipe at Obama over taxes into that ad, once again illustrating that the NRA is little more than a Republican political fundraising machine.  Here we are, down to rock bottom again, leading many within their own ranks to wonder what the hell is going on.

A Wicked War

Amy Greenberg offers a fresh take on the Mexican War, approaching it largely from the anti-war sentiments expressed at the time by such statesmen as Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln.  Most historians have regarded the Mexican War as a manufactured war largely engineered to expand slavery below the Mason-Dixie line.  Theoretically, the line ran all the way to the Pacific Ocean, so annexing Texas, the New Mexico territory and California virtually doubled the size of the "South."  

As wars go, it was a relatively easy affair for the US Army, which greatly outmanned the duplicitous Santa Ana, who was largely bent on seizing power of Mexico again.  The sprawling country simply wasn't prepared for the onslaught and succumbed within a year and a half, forced to sign the notorious Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago, which ceded Upper California and the New Mexico territories to the United States, which had previously taken Texas, all for the princely sum of $15 million.  The two countries would forever be divided by the Rio Grande River.

It was U.S. Grant who called it a "Wicked War" in his 1879 Memoirs, but like many young American officers, he honed his skills on the battlefield, which served him well during the Civil War.  He also said he wished he had the "moral courage" to resign, finding the war contemptible on many levels.  As Greenberg illustrates in her narrative, so did many others, but Polk and the Southern Democrats held sway in Congress, buttressed by their friends in the North, leaving Lincoln to make a moot speech at the end of the war in 1848, although it sums up the cost of the war to the national conscience.  Several historians argue that the Mexican War was one of the precipitating factors that led to the creation of the Republican Party in 1854. which Lincoln would lead in 1860.

Historians have also viewed the war as America's first attempt to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, and elevated  Zachary Taylor to hero and eventual President of the United States, although his term would be short lived.  Bernard De Voto wrote a caustic account of the war in Year of Decision 1846 taking aim at all the manufactured heros that arose from the war, notably John Fremont, who was largely responsible for annexing California.  I look forward to reading Greenberg's account of the war.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ain't no sunshine

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

To read the good news, Spring is near!  Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow.  This tradition apparently goes back to the late 19th century, although it has its roots in Candlemas, which goes back much much further.  The Roman legions apparently brought the festival of light to Germany, which farmers adapted to "Hedgehog Day," seeming to need an animal to symbolize the event.  Later, Germans brought the tradition to Pennsylvania, with the groundhog making its first appearance in 1886.  Since then the town of Punxsutawney has cultivated this celebration into an international event, probably best portrayed in Bill Murray's thoroughly engaging Groundhog Day.

What Might Have Been

It seemed to me that Sean Wilentz, in his NYBooks review, hoped to drive a dagger through the heart of Stone's and Kuznick's thesis of  The Untold History of the United States by attacking Henry Wallace.  Andrew Goldman noted in his earlier review in the NYTimes that Kuznick is apparently as enamored with Wallace as Stone is Kennedy and sold the filmmaker on the idea of building a historical documentary around the former Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Stone and Kuznick see American history as having had an entirely different trajectory if Wallace had remained on the ticket with Roosevelt in 1944, instead they insist Truman was thrust upon Roosevelt despite his own misgivings with the Missouri senator he barely knew.

In his review, Wilentz cites Robert Ferrell's book Choosing Truman, which I had previously linked.   Ferrell notes that various meetings were held long before the Democratic Convention of 1944 to present an alternative to Wallace on the ticket and that at a dinner a week before the convention, Roosevelt had begrudgingly accepted Truman, despite knowing very little about him.  Wilentz goes further in stating that not only Southern Democratic heavyweights like Byrnes were against Wallace, but Eleanor Roosevelt and other liberals didn't like Wallace either, larger because of his pro-communist sentiments.  It seems that Wallace had fallen out of favor with pretty much everyone in the Roosevelt administration, including Roosevelt himself, but FDR liked to play both ends of the stick and teased Wallace along by saying he "hoped" to run with him again.  Wilentz notes Wallace's own journal entry where he states, "[FDR] wanted to ditch me as noiselessly as possible," only Wallace didn't want to go out "noiselessly" and staged the attempt to get him on the ballot the opening day of the convention, only for Roosevelt himself to issue the order to close the convention that evening before a vote could be taken, lining up a reluctant Truman for the second day.

Wilentz goes on to note that Wallace received a strong rebuke from the former first lady when he tried to use Roosevelt's support for his presidential bid in 1948.  By this point, Wallace had become an ardent communist in Eleanor's mind.  He defended the Soviet Union's annexation of Czechoslovakia, although he felt it was largely a response to Truman's policies.  These kinds of statements cost him dearly, and he ended up with only 3% of the vote while Strom Thurmond posed a much bigger threat to the Democrats by taking 4 key Southern states in the general election, largely in response to Harry Truman's civil rights policy that had gone much further than FDR before him.

This undermines much of Kuznick's and Stone's History, as they constantly refer to Wallace throughout their narrative as the man who could have greatly changed America's global role.  Oddly enough, Wallace didn't support Adlai Stevenson in '52 and '56, but rather voted for Ike, apparently having come to the realization that he was wrong about the Soviet Union.  An historic footnote Kuznick and Stone conveniently chose to ignore.  In this October 17. 1952 interview on Longines Chronoscope, he withheld his endorsement, seeing Independents as a "third way" much the way Henry Adams had envisioned earlier in the century.  However, Wallace does strongly state his opposition to the Soviet Union and its influence in China, India and Southeast Asia.  Very interesting interview as Wallace discusses his views during and after the war regarding the Soviet Union, which run counter to those "cherry picked" for the television series.

This leads Wilentz to wonder if you can even call what Stone and Kuznick present in their series and companion volume "history," much less "untold history."  I'm sure we will hear a response, as Wilentz's review had been long anticipated.  I think it will more likely add fuel to the fire, and revive interest in a series that apparently fell flat as far as television ratings go, with few holding out interest to the end.  Much of the press surrounding the series was in regard to the first three episodes which were screened for critics back in early November.  Since then, there had been very little press or blog reactions to it, even in regard to the smackdown of Obama in the final episode, in which Stone admonishes the President for abusing the Constitution and international agreements in many of the same ways as his predecessors.  Showtime still has the series available to watch for subscribers, but it seems it would be wise to make it available on DVD as soon as possible.