Two vignettes.

1. Barack Obama – Democrat, man of color, and frequent recipient of the title "most liberal Senator" before his run for the White House – signs a law explicitly permitting indefinite detention of American citizens. For those of you who believe that criticism of the National Defense Authorization Act is overstated, read this thorough explanation of the provisions in the bill that make this possible. Proponents will argue that detention without due process can be applied only to suspected terrorists (According to whom? Based on what standard of evidence? Aren't these quite literally the exact same questions we had to ask under Bush?) and hey, trust us! We'd never use it for anything else.

Many down-in-the-bunker type Obama defenders cling to the 11th-degree chess theory of his presidency, that his seeming preferences for neoliberalism, neoconservative foreign policy, and Unitary Executive Theory are actually a series of strategic decisions – so complex and layered that our pedestrian minds could never understand it – engineered to produce liberal policy outcomes. The only way his decision to sign the NDAA could fit that explanation is that he and his Justice Dept. realize that this is so patently unconstitutional that the Supreme Court will reject it summarily while Obama scores some political points for being Tough on Terror.

Do you trust the Supreme Court? Does anyone? Can someone remind me one more time why I should care which moderate Republican wins in the titanic struggle between Romney and Obama?

2. Campaign Mode Obamatm announces that each state can choose which parts of his health care reform legislation they will enforce. While some types of coverage are mandatory, states are able to define and set limits during the implementation – for example, pharmacy benefits are mandatory but states get to decide what level of benefits will be offered. Let's all guess what Mississippi's going to provide its residents. Under this "mandate".

Essentially, then, due to pressure from Republican governors and attorneys general he has backed down…on his signature legislation, and possibly his only substantial accomplishment during his first term.

Hey, at least the Iraq War is over! As long as replacing troops with tens of thousands of unaccountable, legally immune private contractors meets one's definition of "over".