Meet Senator Richard Burr, the pro-waterboarding conservative who wants to give Obama more power

This man is so pro-CIA, he'll undermine his own committee to protect it

Richard Burr
(Image credit: (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

In elementary civics class, everyone learns about James Madison's vaunted "separation of powers." The idea is that if you don't want a tyranny to develop in your society, you need to empower separate institutions who will, hopefully, jealously guard their own prerogatives from encroachment by other parts of the state. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," he wrote.

That idea might have been taken a bit too far in American constitutional design, but one thing Madison definitely didn't anticipate is that members of institutions might be complicit in gutting their own power. Power-seeking is one of the most reliable motivators in history, especially for the political class.

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