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May 05, 2006

Wanted: Some Historical Perspective on Signing Statements

In the Washington Post, Michael Kinsley Speaks Power to Truthiness:

Last Sunday's Boston Globe carried an alarming 4,000-word front-page article about President Bush and the Constitution. It seems that Bush has asserted the right to ignore "vast swaths of the law" simply because he thinks that these laws are unconstitutional.

The article is specifically about "signing statements," in which the president offers his interpretation of an act of Congress as he signs it into law. This was an innovation of the Reagan administration, intended to give courts something other than a law's legislative history -- that is, Congress's side of the story -- in any future dispute. Bush often signs a law and at the same time says that parts of it are unconstitutional. Sneaky!

Essays like this are one reason I consider Michael Kinsley to be a must-read. Kinsley is no fan of the President, nor of conservatives. I often disagree with what he says, but for the most part I find his essays well reasoned and fairly impartial. As I noted yesterday much of the public debate over entirely normal tussles between our three branches of government is becoming inflammatory and overwrought. But more seriously, the debate is, in many quarters, also profoundly dishonest in that the participants are wholly ignoring the express powers given each branch by the Constitution.

The result, when dealing with an ill-informed and often lazy electorate, is misleading and serves to fuel irresponsible talk of impeachment for both SCOTUS and the Executive branch, when in reality the actions under debate are neither unprecedented in our history nor barred by the Constitution. As Kinsley observes,

The Globe does not report what it thinks a president ought to do when called upon to enforce or obey a law he or she believes to be unconstitutional. It's not an easy question. The power of judges to have the last word in constitutional interpretation is not explicitly in the Constitution. The logic is that every officer of the government has an obligation to follow the Constitution, and courts get the last word because their words literally come last in any dispute. The Constitution is like a hot potato, and the judges are holding it when the music stops.

He's right. Moreover, both the Founders and the delegates of the Constitutional Convention were well aware of the dangers of unchecked judicial review: this is, in fact, why they deliberately changed an initial provision in the Virginia Plan that called for a council of revision expressly giving the judiciary the power of judicial review, to a Presidential veto. Numerous examples of their reasoning survive in the historical record.

Thomas Jefferson, the eponymous source of so many oft-quoted if imaginary rebukes to the Bush administration, remarked:

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps… and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.

James Madison also:

...doubted whether it was not going too far to extend the jurisdiction of the Court generally to cases arising under the Constitution and whether it ought not to be limited to cases of a [j]udiciary [n]ature. The right of expounding the Constitution in cases not of this nature ought not to be given to that [d]epartment.

Another delegate identified the dangers of judicial review in a statement that seems remarkably prescient:

[I]n their decisions they will not confine themselves to any fixed established rules, but will determine, according to what appears to them, the reason and spirit of the constitution. The opinions of the supreme court, whatever they may be, will have the force of law; because there is no power provided in the constitution, that can correct their errors or control their adjudications. From this court there is no appeal… They will be able to extend the limits of the general government gradually, and by insensible degrees… one adjudication will form a precedent to the next, and this to a following one.

But what the authors of our Constitution expressly and intentionally denied SCOTUS, it later granted to itself in Marbury vs. Madison. If this is not a sweeping arrogation of power from one branch to itself in defiance of original intent and without democratic amendment to the Constitution, it is difficult to say what is.

Kinsley notes another problem with the Globe's analysis:

What was dangerous about the Reagan administration's signing statements initiative was the claim that a president is entitled to govern according to his or her own interpretation of the Constitution even after the courts have ruled. This is a recipe for near-dictatorial executive power, not to mention governmental chaos in which no fundamental issue can ever be resolved. But the Globe does not even suggest that Bush is claiming the right to thumb his nose at the courts in this way.

The complications come when the courts haven't, or haven't yet, ruled on the subject at hand. In that situation, shouldn't the president -- who swears to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution -- follow his own sincere beliefs about what the Constitution requires?

Critics of Presidential signing statements often suggest they are unconstitutional, yet even a cursory examination of the Constitution reveals that one of the checks of the Executive on the legislature is the power not to enforce laws it considers unconstitutional. Obviously this power can be abused, yet Presidents have a long history of aggressively asserting their power at the expense of the other two branches. Indeed, President Clinton was widely criticized for his sweeping use of Executive Orders to make law by fiat and even to overrule Congress:

The president has used that extraordinary power to revamp civil service rules for workers with psychiatric disabilities, ban discrimination against homosexuals in civilian federal jobs, halt dealings with federal contractors who use products made by foreign child labor, declassify vast stacks of old files, change contracting practices to give Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders a bidding edge, revise food labeling, restrict smoking in government offices, revamp encryption export rules and intervene in a Philadelphia transit strike.

"Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kind of cool," says former Clinton adviser Paul Begala, dismissing objections of critics who despise the process as unconstitutional lawmaking, no matter which president uses it.

To add insult to irony, like judicial review, the use of Executive Orders is justified by... an Executive Order. Here we have another case of one branch granting itself powers not expressly given it by the Constitution, which rather makes the current claims that Bush is the worst president ever as regards power grabs somewhat ridiculous:

Although the number of illegal executive orders issued by President Clinton does not constitute a large percentage of his total of 364, the pattern of illegal orders, often without any claim of statutory or constitutional authority, is still striking. The clearest example was Clinton's "striker replacement" executive order. The legal decision it spawned provides additional guidance in determining the legality of future executive orders and thus is worthy of a brief discussion.

In 1993, President Clinton urged Congress to enact a statute that would prohibit employers from hiring permanent replacements for workers who are on strike. The right to hire such permanent replacement workers was firmly established in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and in decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress refused to authorize the change in law in 1993-1994. Shortly after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1995, the President issued Executive Order 12954 in an attempt to achieve through executive fiat what he could not achieve through legislation. Clinton claimed authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (the "Procurement Act")32 to require all large government contractors, which employed roughly 22 percent of the labor force, to agree not to hire permanent replacements for lawfully striking employees.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously overturned the executive order and the implementing regulations that had been issued by the Secretary of Labor.33 The court first determined that it had jurisdiction over the case despite what the court described as President Clinton's "breathtakingly broad claim of non-reviewability of presidential actions." In short, the court said that it did not have to defer to the President's claim that he was acting pursuant to lawful authority under the Procurement Act. On the merits, the court ruled that since the NLRA "undoubtedly" grants an employer the right to hire permanent replacements for striking workers, it would not read the general purposes of the Procurement Act as trumping this specific right of employers. The court distinguished Executive Order 11246 (which guaranteed equal employment opportunities) and Executive Order 12092 (which restricted wage increases for government contractors) as not being in conflict with any other statute.

President Bush is using signing statements like a line-item veto, which he requested Congress grant the Executive by law. The proposed line item veto supposedly fixes the Constitutional conflicts which caused SCOTUS to strike down a law which granted his predecessor that power in Clinton vs New York. Clinton, somewhat remarkably, used the line item veto 82 times during its brief tenure, showing once again that he was no more inclined to defer to Congress than Mr. Bush. His own supporters characterized Clinton's use of executive power thusly:

Mr. Begala said that Mr. Clinton did not conceal his intent to make ample use of executive orders.

"Clinton is an activist, muscular president," Mr. Begala said in an interview, recalling that Mr. Clinton chided Mr. Bush in 1992 and said he intended to use the powers of the presidency to the fullest.

"If you won't use the powers of the presidency to help people, step aside. I will," Mr. Begala quoted the president as telling Mr. Bush.

It continues to be intensely ironic that President Bush is relentlessly characterized as outside the mainstream of Presidential authority in clear defiance of the historical record. As I noted back in December:

In the past few days, it has come out that President Clinton used warrantless domestic searches absent a foreign intelligence goal. In fact, he wanted to use them in public housing projects. Where was the Congressional outrage?

President Carter, in 1978, used warrantless searches against two men suspected of spying for the Vietnamese.

So as it turns out, the use of warrantless searches - even far more intrusive and individually-targeted physical searches - is hardly unprecedented. Democrat Presidents saw no Constitutional problem with using them in peacetime, even against US citizens. President Bush's "activist, muscular" use of Presidential authority in wartime is being mischaracterized as completely without historical precedent when that is clearly not the case.

History shows that tussles between the branches of our federal government are nothing new. Therefore, shouldn't any rational discussion of whether specific assertions of Executive, Judicial, or Legislative authority are worthy of concern or even impeachment include both a honest review of the relevent historical record and an acknowledgment of the checks and balances written right into our Constitution? People on both sides of the political aisle have legitimate concerns about overreaching, and these concerns are a vital part of our national debate. But let's try to keep that debate honest: those who object to specific practices should acknowledge similar power grabs in the past and either clearly distinguish them from what they perceive to be present abuses on legal grounds or state why we should be more concerned about present examples than ones in the past which did not (sacre bleu!) result in impeachment.

Posted by Cassandra at May 5, 2006 07:00 AM


The problem I have with Bush is that he abdicates his responsibility and thus relies on the Courts when he signs an unconstitutional bill. I suppose you could argue that the smaller the portion of the bill that might be unconsitutional must be considered, but that doesn't excuse his signature on McCain-Feingold. That was largely unconstitutional, and we have Bush to thank. Nor does it excuse his use of the Atty General to impose upon Federalism, as in the peyote cases or Oregan's assisted suicide laws, among others.

I agree though that the executive has every right to not enforce a law the chief executive believes is unconstitutional. That is the system. The Judges don't get to rule on everything.

Posted by: KJ at May 5, 2006 09:45 AM

I should point out that my criticsm of Bush is not intended to be limited to him. Nearly all Presidents, Senators, Congressmen (gender inclusive, of course), Governors, etc do the same thing. Sign it, let the Courts figure it out.

Posted by: KJ at May 5, 2006 09:46 AM

I have never been able to figure out why the Shrub doesn't make more use of the veto power. My private theory is that he is trying, insofar as possible, not to burn bridges with the minority party in Congress, but hell will freeze over before we see any acknowledgment that this is even a remote possibility.

As I've often noted, Reagan, another president reviled on both the left and right, was also remarkably reluctant to veto bills. People forget how unpopular Reagan was even without a war going on and the attendant controversy.

You know I agree with you on both McCain-F (which is excreble) and the assisted suicide issue. But strangely enough SCOTUS has upheld Bush's calls on both McCain-F and the assisted suicide, and it's remarkable in both cases that the liberal contingent of the Court solidly backed both decisions. So he appears to have exercise good judgment in not vetoing McCain-F (which would have been political suicide in any event) even if he was rebuffed on the assisted suicide cases.

As I've noted though, there was a HUGE inconsistency between SCOTUS' stand on assisted suicide and medical marijuana. That decision has never made any sense to me. I thought Thomas had the right of it on Gonzalez and the feds should have backed off, yet some of the very justices who voted against him on Gonzalez turned right around and reversed themselves in Oregon. It is a puzzlement.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 10:09 AM

Somehow in all your discussion you ignore what the Constitution actually says. Article II section 3., says of the executive: "...he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed..." NOT "if he thinks they're constitutional", or "if he agress with them." You want original intent, there it is. The President's job is to execute the laws he doesn't like and the ones he does. If the executive doesn't believe a law is constitutional, he can either veto it, (which Bush has yet to do) or test it in the courts. Both of those are the open and above board ways of doing it. To append signing statements is the sneaky dishonest way. Guess which way Bush has chosen?

Posted by: zen_less at May 5, 2006 10:27 AM

Thank you for shedding light on the historical precedents for signing statements and putting them into historical context.

However, the "honest" part of this debate centers on WHY this president has deemed it wholly appropriate to use these extra-procedural methods SO OFTEN? If we want to talk of honest debate, why was there apparently none in public at the time, just the usual arrogation of powers to this particular president? 750 odd uses of signing statements in six years -- and not one veto, against 350 odd executive orders under Clinton in eight years (still too much) is telling indeed.

In focusing on historical perspective, the cause for alarm here is based on the surrounding landscape of unprecedentedly NUMEROUS such arrogations. Besides signing statements, there have been: a giant increase in the classification of documents; secret prisons and the use of torture; indefinite detentions of unidentified "enemy combatants"; habitual, apparently-illegal means of surveilling American citizens (whose relevance in the "war on terror" is in doubt); the discredited intelligence used to launch the Iraq war; the list goes on and on. Perhaps if the historical record of this administration didn't include so many highly dubious methods and means, and in such profusion, the signing statements issue would seem less frightening by comparison.

But that's the debate in the nutshell: this administration SCARES us. Whether or not there is a technicality by which one can explain these practices away, there is always the question of the president's INTENT. On that level, I do consider these moves to be without precedent. I think even Nixon would have found them unpalatable.

It's a certainty that every administration conducts clandestine activity and finds various technicalities to support them. But the record of the Bush administration has far too many "we can do whatever we want, and you can shut up" moments to escape very hard scrutiny. If they're getting that scrutiny now, it's a little late, but necessary nonetheless.

Here's a fact: we're not legally at war. No declaration of war = no legal status of war. Therefore, much of the argument centering on "a nation at war" is dubious at best. The congressional war powers resolution goes nowhere near as far as the administration and its supporters protest it does. At the very least, close examination of the Bush administration's activities is necessary.

As you succinctly state, we should make sure to keep our eyes on what past administrations have done. But the debate here is less "how" and more "why."

By the way, as a disclaimer, I should note that I favor impeachment. Bush knowingly, and premeditatedly, lied several times in the runup to the Iraq war. That is most definitely an impeachable offense.

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 10:31 AM

That's right. Bush stating in a signing statement that he will ignore a ban on torture is perfectly fine.

Especially when compared with Clinton's outrageous use of an executive order to ban discrimination against gays. The sheer, unmitigated gall of the man!

Posted by: tristero at May 5, 2006 10:48 AM


I actually agree with you that the number of signing statements is perhaps cause for concern, though I am less concerned with the number and more with which laws are exempted and *why*.

I think part of the reason for the discrepancy is, though I know you disagree, that we *are* at war. We haven't had a congressional declaration of war forever. Most historians admit that we may never have one again - they seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Personally as a military wife, it might surprise you to note that I think that's wrong, and moreover I think Congress is failing in its duty by not pressing the issue (and I favor the war!) Increasingly, Congress wants to be on both sides of every issue.

A perfect example is the NSA wiretapping issue. All Congress need do to bring that program to a halt NOW is cut off funding.

Yet only Arlen Specter (note: a horrid Rethug! :) has the balls to suggest doing precisely that. If Congress believes the wiretapping is unconstitutional, they have a RESPONSIBILITY to the American people to put and end to it: NOW. But you don't see even Bush's most ardent critics doing that, which rather puts the lie to their rhetoric. Only Russ Feingold, a man I completely disagree with but respect for his integrity, consistently puts his money where his mouth is.

To sum up, Presidential power always expands in wartime and contracts in peacetime. I personally don't think the Framers wanted to tie the hands of any branch - that's why they deliberately left the three branches some leeway and even conflicting perogatives. It was a divide and conquer strategy that has served us well for over 200 years, yet today people are misrepresenting what is going on.

I disagree with you on impeachment, as well as the lying issue, however I respect the fact that any aggressive use of Presidential power, especially one that involves fundamental life and death issues like imprisonment and torture, does and SHOULD scare us.

I don't mind debate. I just want the debate to be reasoned and honest.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 10:50 AM


The issue is whether such executive branch reacharounds are Constitutional, not whether the end justifies the means.

And zen_less:

In the judgment of Presidents Truman, Clinton, and Carter, the Take Care clause of the constitution applied only to constitutional laws. Presidential practice has rested on the notion that the Take Care clause is superceded by the Supremacy clause.

A November 3, 1993 memo from the Clinton Justice Department explained the use of signing statements to object to potentially unconstitutional legislation:

If the President may properly decline to enforce a law, at least when it unconstitutionally encroaches on his powers, then it arguably follows that he may properly announce to Congress and to the public that he will not enforce a provision of an enactment he is signing. If so, then a signing statement that challenges what the President determines to be an unconstitutional encroachment on his power, or that announces the President's unwillingness to enforce (or willingness to litigate) such a provision, can be a valid and reasonable exercise of Presidential authority

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 11:10 AM

"we *are* at war"

I am so sick and tired of hearing this excuse for everything Bush does. WE ARE NOT AT WAR. Congress did not declare war. Bush invaded and is now occupying a country that was no threat to us. How is that "at war"?

Bush has appointed himself King of America and that is the reason why he has done a signing statement on 750 laws. The reason why he has not vetoed a law is that he is a coward.

Posted by: Kate Henry at May 5, 2006 11:12 AM


Yours is the longest example of the "clinton did it too" defense I've seen in some time.

I agree that if we're going to discuss signing statements and executive orders, it is useful to examine how they've been used by other presidents. But let's be sure to use honest examples.

FISA did not govern physical searches at the time Clinton ordered them. The Clinton administration later worked with Congress to amend FISA to cover physical searches.

Bush, on the other hand, has ordered warrantless domestic surveillance in apparent violation of FISA and openly stated that he will continue to do so. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Clinton wanted to use them to spy on housing projects? Assuming that is true (you provide no link), it doesn't matter what Clinton wanted to do. If Bush only wanted to use the NSA for warrantless domestic spying on Americans, I couldn't care less. The fact that he has ordered this is the problem.

Posted by: Colin at May 5, 2006 11:26 AM


If we aren't at war then what the heck are so many of our military over there fighting? Congress didn't declare war in Kosovo either but we bombed the hell out of Yugoslavia and we've had troops there longer than we were in VietNam.


(1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations
(2) : a period of such armed conflict
(3) : STATE OF WAR b : the art or science of warfare

2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end

At any rate, whether or not our Congress had the stones to declare war, bin Laden openly declared war on us long ago and the justification Bush has given (whether or not you personally buy off on it, and I concede you don't) for the NSA wiretapping, for instance, is that it is needed to counter the threat of al Qaeda, not Iraq, making any discussion of whether we declared war on Iraq irrelevant to that issue at least.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 11:27 AM

"Presidential power always expands in wartime and contracts in peacetime."

My problem with that point of view is that presidential power only LEGALLY expands either due to an official, congressional declaration of war, or in strict accordance with any war powers conferred during a non-official "war" such as this one (and Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, etc.).

So in going so far beyond the current war powers explicitly conferred upon him in our present instance, the president is in his own orbit, legally speaking. So apparently are past presidents including Clinton.

I don't know what we should be calling our current operations, but legally, a state of "at war" isn't it.

We had a formal congressional declaration of war during World War II -- I assume when you say "forever" it's just a figure of speach.

Democrats, whether wisely or not, are choosing the well-paved "stay out of the way when your opponents are failing" methodology on this and all matters these days. Hard to say how that's going to pan out, but barring a bombing campaign in Iran near the elections (cynical as I am, I believe we should anticipate this), I expect the Republicans have lost Congress at this point.

If that happens, then the inquiries as to the administration's deliberate sidestepping of judicial oversight in the NSA affair will become more serious -- and ultimately, I think, fatal to Bush's presidency.

As to lying, Bush deliberately and knowingly accused Hussein of kicking out the WMD inspections teams prior to the war, when in fact we pulled them out. The team was, again deliberately, not allowed to do its job. Further, he accused Hussein of harboring Al Qaeda terrorists, when he knew that the camps in question were situated in the Kurdish enclave outside Saddam's control -- technically in Iraq, but not within the regions controlled by Saddam's regime. Those are only two lies of many.

At any rate, I will refrain from reacting against the president's signing orders as if nothing of the sort has yet been seen, thanks to your excellent post.

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 11:51 AM

I assume when you say "forever" it's just a figure of speech

It was, Dave :)

I'll be honest with you: I would have to read up on the inspectors statement. I'm not knowledgable enough to argue the point with any authority and unfortunately I have too much to do at work right now, so that will have to wait. But I will check it out.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 11:56 AM

Sorry, but congress did declare war. It did not use the phrase "Declare War" but there is nothing in the constitution that says those words must be used. All it says is that congress is the body which has the power to do it. Even so, the authorization does reference "War Powers".

From the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq"


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.


(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. -- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. -- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at May 5, 2006 12:00 PM

You can also search the archives for the appropriate links, but the 9-11 commision report detailed many connections between Saddam and terrorists, including Al-qaeda.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at May 5, 2006 12:10 PM

...and I must say that whoever has linked you from the left side recently has done a remarkably good job of sending rational democrats with whom you can actually talk to.

Even if I do think they're completely wrong :-)

Not a single MIHOP/LIHOP/Bush's greatgranpappy was a Nazi in the bunch.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at May 5, 2006 12:16 PM

The FISA thing, like the Moussaoui trial, and like Kate's comments, point to the great unresolved issue of the GWOT: the proper division of military/warfighting matters from legal/civil matters.

Bush is bound by FISA in legal/civil matters; he has original, Constitutional authority that appears to supersede Congress' right to impose rules on him in warfighting matters. Moussaoui was charged with a bunch of counts of 'conspiracy to do this and that' like he was a criminal, and tried before a Federal court instructed to take into account whether he'd been abused as a child; from the perspective of a warfighter, under the Geneva Conventions, he was a spy (i.e., a combatant that abandons uniform or other identifying heraldry in order to take cover among and work harm amid their enemy's population). Spies may be summarily executed; their traumatic childhood is immaterial.

We've got to get this straight if we're going to be able to fight at all. There is the law, which is part of civilization. All you have to do to be entitled to the protections of civilization is not try to destroy that civilization. That's it.

Warfighting is about standing off the barbarians who want to tear down the civilization. If that's you, you're not entitled to the protections we extend to ordinary decent criminals (as the British say). We should treat with you as an enemy, according to the laws of war.

Insofar as we need to change our Federal laws to make that distinction clear, we should do so. Insofar as we need to change our thinking, we should do that too.

Posted by: Grim at May 5, 2006 12:27 PM

Thanks for the link, Masked Menace. Here is section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution:

"b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces"

Note the following critical text: "...unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces..."

Since Congress has not explicitly declared war, we are not legally "at war." They have, of course, enacted a specific authorization for use of armed forces. Not, legally speaking, the same thing.

It's true, nothing in the Constitution requires that they do so; constitutionally, presidential powers increase ONLY AS DIRECTED BY CONGRESS, as in specifically within the language of a declaration of war or conferrence of powers of war. Unless you believe Bush, Clinton, Reagan, et al that the Constitution permits them to interpret at their pleasure whether a given law strikes them as constitutional or not.

But this is a sort of side issue. The larger point is that historical perspective ought to come into play on the topic of the presidents' (note the plural here) arrogation of powers. I agree and will do so.

But that's only half the debate. The other, more important half is WHY the president takes these extraordinary actions -- what is his intent?

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 12:32 PM

It was Peter Daou of The Dao Report (Salon.com), and his readers have almost invariably been well-informed and reasonable the few times he has linked to something I've written. I wrote him the first time to thank him and told him so.

He sent the nicest note back to me - it was one of those rare moments when I had hope that the reich and left sides of the blogosphere could put aside their rancor and discuss things rationally.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 12:45 PM


Excellent post and ensueing discussion/debate. You however made a rather humorous spelling error, which I won't attribute as some sort of unconcious Fruendian slip.

" had hope that the reich and left sides of the blogosphere could put aside their rancor and discuss things rationally."

R. Mutt

Posted by: R. Mutt at May 5, 2006 01:05 PM

"As to lying, Bush deliberately and knowingly accused Hussein of kicking out the WMD inspections teams prior to the war, when in fact we pulled them out." - DaveI

DaveI is a Liar!

How do you like the sound of that Dave? Doesn't sit well does it? Well, either you are lying or being totally disengenuous. Which is it?

Saddam allowed the inspectors back into Iraq as a stalling tactic when we had troops building on his borders. The inspectors were pulled before GW announced to the world we were going in and gave Hussein his final ultimatum for their own safety. It's all about context Dave. Nice try though.

So, you throw the "lie" word around with surefire frequency. You state that there were no WMDs when I know, from the ground, that evidence of their existence was found. Just not the weapons themselves. Do we know where they are? With certainty but you and your side know damn well there is no actual physical proof. It would be political suicide to even present the circumstantial evidence. And this is what you call a lie? Were you there Dave? If so show us exactly where you were and what you did not find!

Yeah, we are at war. In every sense of the word. The declaration is the only thing missing from Congress even though they gave the authorization, which is usually given after the declaration btw. How you cannot see this makes me question the entire debate about who's lying about what.

So, y'all have this great plan on how to fight a war against an evil you have no concept of nor can understand. Where is it? There are no massed armies fighting in uniform. Comm is instant. The intel war is being fought on TV screens and computer monitors. Al Qaeda has had their ability to fight open battles completely eradicated by the smallest standing army the planet has seen in global warfare. They are resigned to suicide bombing and sniping. Where is your hue and cry on the legality of that? Where is your hue and cry on the Geneva Convention desecration of our enemies? Funny how that works.

The NSA has kept you alive. Political expediency has turned your head to where you refuse to even admit it. The deaths of 3000 on the homeland are as if they never existed. Face it, your side has absolutely nothing for which they would lay down their lives for. And you expect the half of this country that gets it to roll over and allow that lack of morality back into office? Guess we'll see in the polls huh?

What's the Great Plan from all you Lefties? Give us specifics and detail. You've seen, although haven't learned, that you cannot ignore anything happening anywhere in the world. That lack of attention gets your citizenry killed. You cannot stick your head in the sand and try to hunker down in an isolationist policy. In today's world it simply won't work.

It you truly want to have an honest debate then get over the hatred of this admin and present your plans. The more this "lying" and "illegal" moronic BS is thrown about the more it continues to drive any hope we ever had of having an open, honest debate. It destroys any semblence of civility from the arena of ideas. And you wonder why there is such a division of the populace in the country? Go figure!

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 01:05 PM

I'm a terrible speller, especially when I try to type with more than one finger.

R. Mutt

Posted by: R. Mutt at May 5, 2006 01:07 PM

R. Mutt:

Actually that was my snarky sense of humor :) I often use "reich" instead of "right", as when referring to John Hawkins' "Reich Wing News" site. I also call Bush "The Shrub" and "Twig" all the time too, which throws a lot of my first-time readers off. I confess to being rather irreverent, though I am a Bush supporter. I like the man enormously, and I guess my response to the pain of hearing the two sides hurl insults at each other all the time is to make fun of it a bit :)

Given that I think it's counterproductive to mock the other side too harshly, many of my barbs are aimed at my own side.

PS: I make a lot of typos (and even the odd spelling error) too!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 01:14 PM

Honestly, I have to say that I don't think the WMD thing is a closed case either. The problem is that it was never proved, and since you also can never definitively prove a negative (i.e., there are no WMDs and never were), people get mad and dig their heels in instead of keeping an open mind on the issue.

The left is going to continue to say there was never sufficient evidence and the reich (there I go again!) is going to continue to point to statements like the one in the Duelfer report that says he can't rule out WMDs being shipped out of country just before the war, or the raft of Iraqi docs that were just released which specifically mention chemical weapons and WMDs.

Bottom line: until and unless we find actual WMDs, no one's mind will be changed. This goes far to explain why righties and lefties come down on different sides of this issue.

But I *really* do not want to re-fight that battle. It always degenerates into he said, she said.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 01:24 PM

"But I *really* do not want to re-fight that battle. It always degenerates into he said, she said."

Guess it depends on who you listen to huh? ;-)

Yeah, me too. I was just using it as an example of this whole "lying" "illegal" rhetoric. I want to know what "they" have in mind for the future. I have yet to see anything short of an isolationist platform put forth. All I see is this BS rhetoric.

It's time to fish or cut bait. It's the FUTURE that needs protecting. Put up or shut up!

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 01:46 PM

Since visitors will not know anything about JHD, his son has served three tours in Iraq, and we're really happy that he got home safely this last time.

He is also (surprise!) a Democrat, unlike the Blog Princess, who is a horrid Rethug :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 01:52 PM


I will respond to your "why" question eventually. Busy day at work and I've already had to bail out of two responses.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 01:53 PM

Jarhead, you're quite right, I misstated the facts. Sorry about that. Here's clarification:

"We" did not pull the inspectors out, the U.N. did -- after Bush, in defiance of the U.N.'s attempts to give the inspectors time to do their work, made his final military ultimatum to Saddam Hussein (i.e., "we've decided to bomb the crap out of you.").

Bush claimed at the time that Saddam had not let the inspectors do their work. That was a lie. It was Bush who refused to give them time, even though the inpection team had explicitly stated that they needed it. He knew that then.

On WMD: I was recently "on the ground" in Rome, and saw evidence of a great imperialist society that spanned the known world. That was ancient Rome. But it's long gone. Empty chemical shells don't equate to an active chemical program; even the US inspection team confirms that they found no evidence of a reconstituted program.

Interestingly, in truth, my main objection to the Iraq invasion lines up almost exactly with your objection to my objection :). We didn't find any weapons. Does that mean they don't exist, or that, upon a whiff of hostilities (or the aftermath thereof), they were duly expropriated by even worse elements, who spirited them off to parts unknown? It was like smashing a hornet's nest with a baseball bat in the middle of the day. You destroy the nest, but is your hornet problem gone? Hell no. How stupid.

The grand plan from the Left is to stick with proven methods that work: diplomacy, diplomacy, and more diplomacy. This worked for the Cold War, among other things.

Now, I don't doubt that had Bush shown some patience and built a good, solid case against Saddam in court of world opinion (an effort in which Saddam would have obliged by unwisely defying every attempt to resolve the thing), we would eventually have wound up in a military conflict there. In other words, had Bush used the diplomacy route in any serious way, we'd still have gone in. But the circumvention of this effort required Bush to lie rather blatantly; and it cost us several important allies in the effort and cast us in the very bad light in which we are still shown.

This, as much as any claimed danger posed by a Saddam who was already under our thumb, is dangerous to us in that it only encourages our enemies. Though we may not agree with them, their claims that "America wants blood" only gain credibility with their already-captive audience when we so obviously rush to war.

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 02:06 PM

Just to add, far from being isolationist, a policy of engaging in world diplomacy (which ain't perfect I acknowledge) requires reaching outside our borders.

If every time a small band of wackos catches us with a sucker punch we react with the kind of paranoid all-or-nothing militarism we've shown lately, the results will have a very isolating effect whether we want them to or not.

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 02:17 PM

Am not Cass! When I saw Michael Moore being flaunted at the DNC I became a registered Independent! So there! :-o

"This worked for the Cold War, among other things."

Uh, no it didn't! It took Reagan's military buildup to break the backs of the Soviets. There was no diplomacy involved.

So dave, we rattled the hornet's nest eh? And what was Al Qaeda's strength prior to that? What about their navy? Battle troops? And where are they now? Stupid is as stupid does I guess.

One last time then I'll write it off: Bush DID NOT lie. He was acting on the same intel 29 other countries had and approved. Including your vaunted France, Germany, and Russia. Period. I'm really getting tired of hearing that and frankly there's not a Dem that will get my vote because of it. Shame too 'cause there are some pretty good Dem candidates running this time around. I just won't tolerate the seditious behavior of the party.

There's a running joke in here about my wanting there to be a 3rd party. And it's true! ;-)

OK, since you refuse to announce your side's Great Plan I guess we get to play nitpick. Let's see if I can help you out. First of all, have you even read any of the post war intel on any of the connections of Saddam's? How about any of the intel on the money trails? Not only was there a connection with Hussein and Al Qaeda but there was an un-friggin'-believable money trail in support of our enemies being supplied by this "under the thumb" dictator. The UN was covering for him and your solution was "more time"? Oh just puhlease. Give me a break. In my mind we screwed the pooch by waiting as long as we did (re: sat photos of massive convoys leaving Iraq under the thumb of whom?) and provided way too much opportunity for Hussein's regime to do what they did. In much the same way as we handled the 1st Battle of Fallujah. Yet you sincerely believe that more time needed to be allotted? There's a major disconnect!

Patience, diplomacy, built a good coalition? So I guess the folks that went in with us were just so much spoiled milk? Thank you for honoring their deaths. I'm sure it's greatly appreciated by their families! Again, total disconnect. Spitting in the face of our and our allies' warriors will not win you many votes either. Oh sorry, I forgot. A la John Kerry we need the Phrench's permission to go to war to protect our own survival. I mean after all, they are doing such a bang-up job with their militant Muslim problem I can see where we should kowtow to their wants and desires! ;-)

All of your points are refuted and the talking points as well. Try something new. Like give us the Great Plan for our future survival. So far it looks like this:


That about it? Y'all have nothing to offer but tired rhetoric? The Dem Party of my entire lifetime ceased to exists 10 years ago. You have no capacity to lead and the entire party has been taken over by the far left fringe. The day the party dumped the Southern Dems was the day they lost their ability to win elections. There is no longer any part of the party that is a check and balance like conservative Southern Dems were for generations. If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything! Good luck with that!

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 02:33 PM

As to your second post on kissing world butt. My son's Co. slogan: Let them hate as long as they fear the Raiders.

Any questions?

Darfur's loving their patience and diplomacy. Working rather well huh?

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 02:36 PM

JHD, I'd prepared a long response to your last post, but I guess it comes down to one thing: try to keep your emotions in check.

You haven't really refuted my points, but you've certainly shown your disdain for views other than your own. Tired of the debate? I'm sure there's someplace on this earth you could escape it if you travel far and wide enough. Other than that I suspect we're both stuck with it until we draw our last breath. This president is going to be a hot topic for the rest of our lives!

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 03:27 PM

PORTER GOSS IS RESIGNING. The first victim of the upcoming hookergate scandal is the guy Bush brought in to purge the CIA of Democrats. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Posted by: Randy at May 5, 2006 03:29 PM

Let's try to keep it civil, OK? I know emotions run high on both sides, but I'd like to keep things where we can still discuss things rationally, and that's difficult once the conversation gets adversarial.

Sorry JHD - I forgot you were a registered Independent (as I was actually until this last election). I have a post up about Goss Randy. Not sure it contains all that much info yet, but I was pretty stunned too.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 03:46 PM

Its a breath of fresh air to see sensible debate. But, I want to dig my heels in regarding SCOTUS and discuss the arguments that Madison v. Marbury is an act of power usurping.

But my first point is that Cassandra points that the SCOTUS has the final say. This is not correct because a SCOTUS decision can be changed by amending the Constitution. Now that is a large feat for sure, but its power that we the people have. After all, the Constitution is based off the power the people give it - notice the first three words of the constitution.

Marbury might seem that there was a potentially large power grab. But one thing I don't believe in is that the Constitution should be interpreted by the framer's intent, frankly because how does anybody know what their intent really was? The federalist papers don't capture it clearly, and instead there is a lot of writing but no consensus. After all, it was Jefferson who said the Constitution should be rewritten every 20 years.

Rather, I believe the constitution should be read as a framework and expanded on its structure. The constitution defines governments, but notice that it doesn't define what rights people have. Its the Amendments that define the rights of the people, albeit in a very awkward fashion because the 9th amendment. With that said, Article I defines the Legislature, Article II defines the executive, and Article III defines the judiciary. Based on the structure, you could argue that implicit in the structure.

Howevser, the better argument is that actually digging deeper and into the history of the judiciary and our country. You don't look at the Constitution for this, rather you look at the common law of England, which all of our laws are based on. It a misconception that people often make - look at the constitution as the source for everything. Look, our land laws are all compliments of William the Conqueror.

Even though something as important as the judicial function doesn't necessarily have to be expounded in the constitution. Many of our fundamental rights aren't. The right to marry, for example, is one thing we can all do. The right to bodily integrity, etc. Its a Constitution, not a legal code after all. There are things so basic that we all know and understand, that it doesn't need to written in the Constitution.

...I was trying to keep my post short and sweet and I failed. But, I am glad to see when rational people can argue because I believe most of the blogosphere is incapable of rational argument and understanding.

Posted by: Simon at May 5, 2006 04:22 PM

Simon, I agree with pretty much everything you said (especially the English common law bit) however I must confess that I am more of an originalist. I believe the Court has gone too far in arbitrarily reinterpreting even clauses whose plain meaning does not require Miss Cleo to reveal the intent of (Kelo comes to mind here, and Justice Thomas' brilliant dissent).

I think when we have established 200+ years worth of our own jurisprudence, there is little need to go haring off to nations that have little in common with us (such as France) in search of a half-smoked Galoise and a moth-eaten copy of Jacques Derrida with which to decontruct the plain meaning of ordinary English words :)

I find the present danger of Justices of either persuasion imposing their will permanently on us by fiat greater than the risk we won't be able to figure out what ". . . nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation" means.

And in the event of doubt I far prefer to have legislatures, as little as I trust them either, do the lawmaking since their effect can be more easily amended than precendents, which tend to be set in stone, once made.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 04:38 PM

Oh, and to clarify, I was agreeing more that Eng. common law was the source of our own legal system, not so much that I want anyone to use it now, though if we're going to use foreign law as a guide I think that's a better bet than the law of other nations.

What bothers me so in using foreign law is that justices use it so selectively and often needlessly. Many industrialized nations restrict abortions more than the US and don't have the same strict separation of church and state, but I don't notice Justice Ginsburg wanting to use European law in those cases!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 04:41 PM

(1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces..."

Nothing states that these two are mutually exclusive. Technically, IIRC, we are still at war with North Korea, but the President is not authorized to use force there at this time due to the cease fire. An authorization to send in black ops snipers to take out a drug lord would be an authorization to use force, but not a 'war'. But when you send 100,000 troops to depose a gov't, I think that squarely falls into both groups. The two are equivalent.

But that's just my opinion, and I concede you have yours. The only one to really decide which is factually the case is the SCOTUS.

Been doing some reading on the War Powers Resolution: Interesting stuff.

Practically what the WPR has done is made the need to "Declare War" obsolete/impossible. We can now fight a war, but not have to use such an un-PC term. It's like giving one man on the firing squad a blank. Yeah, you stood there and pointed a rifle at the convict, pulled the trigger and he fell down dead but you can always claim "it wasn't me". Yeah, we sent in thousand of troops, deposed a gov't, freed millions of people, and unfortunately some innocent civilians died but, "we didn't declare war". It's just a way to make ugly but necessary decisions, and still salve your conscience about it later.

Presidential opinion (on both sides of the aisle) is that the WPR is an unconstitional grab at conducting a war.

The argument is that congress has sole authority to declare war and the president has sole authority to conduct the war. The WPR allows congress to declare war, but by calling it something else, to not grant the president sole authority to conduct it. Its' constitionality hasn't been challenged yet largely because the only effect has been to conduct war under a euphemism.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at May 5, 2006 04:44 PM

OK Menace. You finally forced me to look up IIRC.

That has been driving me batsh*t for months - for whatever reason I couldn't figure out what it was an acronym for.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 04:55 PM

"The grand plan from the Left is to stick with proven methods that work: diplomacy, diplomacy, and more diplomacy. This worked for the Cold War, among other things."

Diplomacy has a mixed record, really. There are two types, one that works, and one that doesn't.

Bilateral diplomacy has a good record. It's easy for us to get together with regional partners (say, the UK or Australia) or subregional partners (say, Thailand), come to common understandings of issues, and then unite our efforts. The US does this all the time, quite successfully, and normally below the radar screen of the worldwide media. Indeed, that's part of why it works: it normally escapes being a political issue.

International, UN-style diplomacy is a failure. I saw Jack Straw talking the other day about how 'nobody envisions a military option in Iran,' and that this will therefore be 'the test of multilateral diplomacy.' Well, sure; except we all know perfectly well where it is going. It's like playing poker with all the cards dealt face-up before you bet. Only the people who don't understand the rules are unclear about the outcome.

Russia and China have openly signaled that they are unwilling to permit a Security Council resolution that touches a military solution. They might, with strenuous diplomacy, be brought to backing a Security Council resolution that uses sanctions. Sanctions are not going to be enough to prevent the regime from achieving its nuclear goals, whatever they may be.

Iran can therefore either avoid sanctions by affecting minimal cooperation (see today's statement that 'of course' it would abide by any IAEA resolutions); or it can take the hit, and go ahead and develop its nuclear program. Nothing but military action would stop it, and once the nuclear umbrella is in place, it will be in a strong position to campaign for an end to sanctions.

There is no possibility of achieving our goal of a non-nuclear Iran through UN-style diplomacy.

If that's the case, what's the benefit of making use of the UN/NGO/etc. system? If it's main function is to handicap American freedom of action, that makes perfect sense from the point of view of France or China or Russia; but why should we volunteer to go along with it?

Poor Jack Straw is going to be looking back at this and wondering where it all went wrong; but the truth is, the game was over from the time it began. The cards are already on the table.

Posted by: Grim at May 5, 2006 05:32 PM

As Grim says, diplomacy works in some situations and not in others. Some problems need a hammer and some need a wrench. Although not optimal, sometime you have to use a wrench as a hammer.

Dave, Grim, Cass, and I can engage in diplomacy (we have all day), we may not come to an agreement on an issue but it is unlikely that we'll start shooting at each other.

The goblin that breaks into my home at 3am, however, is not going to go away through diplomacy. We will not discuss which of my possesions he will leave with, we will not negotiate which lewd acts he gets to perform on my wife. We will only negotiate how many rounds from my 12ga he will be getting: I'll agree to stop when he a) runs away or b) stops twitching.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at May 5, 2006 06:04 PM

Keep my emotions in check Dave? Heh! This is me on a good day! If I was ticked you'd know it and there would be no doubt!

I totally agree with your statement that GW will be a topic for years to come. Therein lies the rub. The fallacy of your arguments is an attempt to direct that discussion fraudulently. Disdain for your views? No, I understand them for what they are and they don't bother me in the least. I watched them invade the party for years.

BTW, I'm a Zell Miller former Dem if that helps you understand me any better. And a Reagan former Dem as well.

Grim, well said. Not bad for a Democrat! Ooops, sorry, I'm supposed to play nice! :-o

The idea that any sanctions put forth by the UN would have teeth is simply preposterous. Diplomacy died with the Oil-For-Food scandal. The only countries that support any type of UN policy are the very countries that would try to do the most harm to our sovereignty. All political rhetoric aside, if there is one thing that we should've learned from the whole Hussein debacle is the simple fact that the UN is corrupt and ineffectual. Period.

While we're on the subject, how can anyone back a body that does as much harm as the UN does? Something that just bothers me. The rapes and deaths of innocents while on peacekeeping missions? While the august members steal everyone blind and work against their own resolutions? Sorry, I just can't see diplomacy working through the UN with Iran. With the wild-eyed rhetoric coming out of Tehran I really don't see diplomacy working from any quarter.

Lobbing missles into Iraq on the Kurds is sure helping to promote peace and goodwill! ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 06:30 PM

Well, maybe we should just train and arm the Kurds and let them handle it. Oh, wait, we are doing that -- the Peshmerga make up lots of volunteers for the Iraqi Army, don't they?

The task in Iran is keeping nukes out of their hands. Beyond that, the situation will sort itself out. I think we will need, however, to take strong measures against their nuclear facilities and experts.

Posted by: Grim at May 5, 2006 07:47 PM

I am impressed that you have such respect for Clinton as to assume that anything he did must have been legitimate. While I regard Clinton as perhaps our greatest modern President, I confess that I do not hold him in quite such high regard.

If the President approves of a law, but perceives a potential misunderstanding, it makes sense for the President to express his understanding of its meaning, as possibly important information for the courts to consider if a dispute over the law comes before the court. On the other hand, if the President believes a law to be unconstitutional, he is morally bound to veto it. If a President signs a bill that he genuinely believes to be unconstitutional, he is behaving as a coward, and writing "Ha, ha, I had my fingers crossed" in a signing statement does not make it less so.

Bush is, nevertheless, entitled to write anything he pleases in a signing statement. However, it should not constitute a defense if he is subsequently impeached for violating that law.

Posted by: trrll at May 5, 2006 08:23 PM

I see that, by the time I joined the discussion, it had wandered far afield from where it began. I suppose I should weigh in on the original question.

I think the liberals are right this time. The President should veto a law he finds to be, even in part, unconstitutional. If they override his veto, he should enforce the law as written as is his duty, while asking for the courts to review it. If he finds he can't do that, he should resign.

That seems to me the proper course of action.

Posted by: Grim at May 5, 2006 09:07 PM

Was that the point of the original post? Heh! Again I agree to an extent. I get so angry with Shrub for not vetoing ANYTHING I could just scream. Like I just did! While it annoys me highly I'm afraid I do not see the case for impeachment that y'all do simply based on precedent. I've read the entire thread and links provided but I simply do not see a case for impeachment. Frankly I see nothing more than a president knowing he doesn't have enough votes to override legislation crossing his desk. He makes his case and that is in no way cowardly nor illegal IMHO.

There are so many things to be annoyed with from this admin. The WoT is the one they've got right but it seems to be the one that is being argued. Simply because it is a highly charged and emotional issue. Unchecked spending, lack of veto, immigration/wide open borders are just a few. You can argue tactical concerns, etc., in the prosecution of the war in Iraq but the overall goals and invasion were spot on. The mission is golden and has done exactly what it's expressed purpose was and that was to make America safer while giving freedom to an oppressed people while meeting and destroying Al Qaeda's ability to make war. There truly are no arguments that can dispute the facts on the ground. Unless of course you're getting your intel from the MSM. Or want to play political football with the very lives of our men and women in harm's way. Again, IMHO.

The Kurds are fierce Grim. Hmmmmm, now didn't the UN create for them a sovereign state but refused to back it up? How would you like to deal with the command over there? Kurds, Shia, Sunnis, off duty every other week, refusal to serve outside a tribe's area, etc. Man! we'd best start shipping Excedrin by the case! Those JOs and NCOs are earning all that big money now! ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 5, 2006 09:50 PM

Just taking a moment to thank everyone for an informative and civil discussion. For whatever extent I helped veer the thread off its original post, I apologize.

These will be interesting days, to be sure, these next several months. I have a great deal to think about as relates to these signing statements.

I'll make one more off-topic comment, this on my diplomacy fetish. That is, I don't see it working any better than you do as long as this administration remains. The chilling effect, and hard-lining effect, of its own get-tough rhetoric is too great. In part, that's my problem with the whole pre-emptive Iraq thing, done the particular way it was done. It seems to me it has killed any sense of compromise on either side of the table (i.e., U.S. vs. Iran), and that's what troubles me. Had we not gone on this adventure, at least in the way we did, I have to believe a greater sense of self-preservation would be evident in our adversaries. As it is, I get the sense they feel that there's no point in reaching any accord. That's why I take seriously the rumors of preparations for military action against Iran, and that prospect portends no good no matter how it winds up.

And the sad impression is that much of this is aimed at each administration's "base" at home, rather than any real global solution.

Posted by: DaveI at May 5, 2006 11:13 PM

Surprisingly, 200 years of jurisprudence isn't that much. I know that sounds silly, but there are many things that have yet to be clarified in the Constitution. The war powers of the president, for example. Exactly how far the commerce clause goes is another.

We can argue this bit for quite a period of time, but I do want to point out Justice Kennedy's use for foreign law wasn't actually use of foreign law. He used in in of the "indicia of suspectness" in Lawrence v. Texas. Lawrence is a very complex case - and I mean a very complex case. There are deep messages buried in the text, and then at the end he pulls a left turn out of nowhere and overrules the statute barring sodomy.

The indicia he was using was the "deeply rooted in the collective conscious of our people" - which is vague, means white anglo-saxon protestants. And he pulled together some foreign cases and said essentially - why are we letting people 200 years ago tell us what is deeply rooted in our society? After all, 200 years ago, slavery was deeply rooted in our society. 40 years ago, racism and sexism were still deeply rooted. Thats my take on it, if anything - he slightly expanded this very strict factor in equal protection review.

But trust me on this one - Lawrence v. Texas is a difficult read. What it ultimately means and what the Justices did - is still bizarre. The only thing clear is the holding of the case.

But on the topic of abortion, that is a very tricky subject because of its history. Abortion was perfectly legal in common law actually. It wasn't until 1913 that states started to actually prohibit abortion. So the Justices don't have to search far to find any history of it.

But I agree that there are some fundamental problems with SCOTUS. I think the takings cases were not proper - but I have not read them, so I do not pass my final judgment on them. But most Justices seem to switch sides when its convenient for them. Scalia and Ginsburg in the California medical marijuana case, for example. The only justice that doesn't is actually Thomas. I've come to respect Thomas and Scalia, even agree with them at times, but I still don't agree with the whole original intent nor strict 4-corners interpretation they apply.

Posted by: Simon at May 6, 2006 10:41 AM

very interesting discussion, serendipitously linked up while reading Kinsley post in Slate. It is refreshing to note that intellegent discourse, no matter how diverse, enlightens all actively engaged in THINKING, (the "missing link" in current governing)
two points I'd like to add:
a)from the perspective of one who lived through the 80's as an adult, Reagan was a gifted, charming, idealistic leader, but when it comes to the day to day details, an enabler of catastrophic world events and complicit in the destablization of national policy infrastructure that has come to fruition today. As the beneficiary of legendary status created by a parasitic group once again riding those coat tails, some context is in order. Reagan's role "ending" the Cold War was not quite as courageous as the new history proclaims. Before the end of the 1970's those knowledgable in international dynamics openly discussed the inevitable crash of the USSR (Sen. Moynihan for one)under its own internal failures. Gorbachev himself (who still carries an affection for him, through their mutual tenure in history and personally found Reagan charming) was not intimidated by Reagan's military spending on StarWars, which did not/does not work still, but felt uneasy in the nationalistic fervor/testosterone/military industrial complex backing it up. (Little did he know the future held even less brain/bigger cohones leadership to come.) Gorbachev has stated for record that he did what he had to do to salvage what was left of that hollowed empire, knowing it would probably be at his own peril.
b)on this tireless abortion debate. it is embarrasingly hypocritical as an evolved superpower to champion the lives of the unborn while subsidizing dictatorships and overseeing proscribed murder and torture of humans around the world. Whether by preemptive war, the withholding of lifesaving medical care, or by benign neglect Americans must come to terms with this phony righteous argument we hide behind to bolster our superior moral authority. It's a political/religious money maker. Free birth control + Plan B approval would take care of most of the problem, because sex is not going away, 60% of marriages will fail, poverty and social indifference/irresponsibility make parenting nearly impossible (don't comment until your children have completed their first 30 years successfully-no rehab, no divorce, completed education, attained employment, are completely financially self sufficient without trustfunding)
p.s. before anyone labels me as a soldier for any side, don't bother. I am equally disgusted by public support for Reagan's campaign to neglect, Clinton's disgrace of the office, and Bush's arrogant celebration of public ignorance.

Posted by: gee at May 6, 2006 01:44 PM

The right likes to give the left false dilemmas.

Are you for the defeat and subjugation of the US by pure evil, or are you for us, is a typical approach.

Let's consider Iran for a moment.

The first key decision point was in 1953, under a new president Eisenhower, with a new toy the CIA.

The English had been terribly exploiting Iran, installing a system which took their oil at great advantage to England and with little compensation to Iran, by use of their military power.

Iran had a democracy, and it worked as intended: a leader was elected who said 'time for Iran to stop the abuse and change the system to get a fair share for Iran'. England, short on military strength following the war, ran to the US and said 'help us put down this problem'.

Now is where you get to the right versus the left.

Right wing solution (selected): use the CIA to overthrow the democracy in Iran, and install a dictator (the Shah had a pre-existing role, but not as a dictator - the CIA armed him with a brutal 'secret police' force and democracy was gone).

Left wing solution: "It's understandable that they want fair treatment for their oil, and that democracy has stood up to the British exploitation. We're going to tell the Brits no, we'll all have to pay a fair price for the oil, and support democracy continuing in Iran."

Had the left's solution been selected, we'd have been on the side of Democracy, and Iran would not have had much reason to hate the US, rather indeed they'd have been pretty grateful, if anything.

Instead, the people of Iran had thier democracy replaced by 25 years of tyrrany, thanks to the US, which paved the way for the religious extremists to take power in 1979, with a very anti-US view, understandably.

Next, you have the Iraq-Iran tensions, and again a choice between the right and left.

Right (selected): See Saddam as a useful tyrant; arm him and encourage him to invade Iran, which he does, resulting in the longest war of the century with over a million casualties, weakening both countries, which the US is pretty happy about, making an invasion by us easier.

Left: See Saddam as a tyrant, and do not support him; as he required US support to remain in power, other, better governments could be pursued, including a push for democracy. No war with a million casualties, so Iran did not have that reason to hate the US, either.

Need I mention an issue which shouldn't have been an issue - the question of "why don't we sell arms to Iran for the Iran-Iraq war, so that we can use the profits to get around Congress and fund an illegal terrorist force against the elected but left government of Nicaragua". Right: "Good idea!"

As Iran watched their democracy overthrown by the US as the world just watched, as Iran watched themselves invaded by Saddam with US encouragement as the world stood by, as Iran saw WMD used on their civilians by Saddam as the UN, influenced by the US, took no action, they decided that nothing can protect them but a nuclear weapon. That's a pretty justifiable view which we'd hold too were we in their shoes.

Iran doesn't have much history of attacking its neighbors, other than some support for 'terrorism', which is a counter force to far larger military intervention by the US and others, with billions and billions of military aid to groups from Israel to the House of Saud to Egypt.

Iran is now surrounded by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, with right-wing publications from neocons talking about the need for all that to help with the overthrow of Iran's government, and the open discussion of using a nuke on Iran.

Had the left's positions been followed, we wouldn't be in this situation, dealing with a radicalized Iran run by the corrupt group now in power.

Yet the right wing wants to ignore the history and put up its false dilemma - does the left support Iran nuking nations all around the world, or do we support the right in nuclear war on Iran?

I could post suggested right and left wing positions for the current issue, but perhaps I'll leave it for now for the reader to consider which side has led us to the problem and which is likely to have the better plan now.

This is just the example of Iran; it could apply to many other situations, as well, including 'Al Queda', a western invention, built by our militarization of the radical muslims for our own cold war purposes, and further radicalizing them against the US with our installation of US military forces on Saudi soil for our own power desires, which goes over about as well with muslims there as the radical muslims putting a military force in the middle of the US would go over with Americans.

Posted by: Craig at May 6, 2006 03:19 PM

"which is likely to have the better plan now"

What plan Craig?

Still waiting.

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 6, 2006 06:22 PM

The right likes to give the left false dilemmas.
How about the left likes to understate the dilemmas, like Clinton not getting OBL in the Sudan when he could have been ours for the taking, thus preventing that whole 9-11 thing. What a bummer.

How about other dilemmas of the left? Such as a crisis in health care which resulted in higher taxes and poorer health care across the board for all Americans? Or illegals coming here because their countries suck and they don't want to abide by our laws? It is because of the crises that the left have imposed on Americans for nearly forty years that have resulted in a bankrupt Social Security system in order to promote the so called 'general welfare.'

Posted by: Cricket at May 6, 2006 09:06 PM

Tell you what, 'jarhead', you say you agree with the history I posted, and I'll post a sample plan.

Cricket, sorry, but you can't win any argument by taking the vast histories of the left and rigth, cherry picking a few examples which are not broadly representative, and claiming you proved anything. I discussed key, substantive, representative parts of history; you cherry picked some mistated items.

For example, you mention social security.

Let's not forget which party had the political vision and courage to start the social security program to begin with, against the opposition of the republicans, but we'll quickly move on:

You all that the *left* has bankrupted social security. You are wrong.

Both parties have borrowed heavily from the social security trust fund for current spending, over $200 billion annualy the last I checked. However, it's the *republicans* who have irresponsibly bought politcal support on the national credit card by running up unprecedented debts under every republican in the last 25 years, exacerbating the fiscal problems and threatening the nation's ability to pay back the trust fund. It's the one democrat in the last 25 years who balanced the budget, and it's the democrat Al Gore who, had the election not been stolen from him, promised to end the trust fund borrowing. So, your party loses.

As for Osama bin Laden, the democrats have an imperfect record, but the republicans again are far worse in their incompetence on the issue - while Clinton over time determined the threat bin Laden was finally, it was the republicans who tossed aside the war plan and ignored Al Queda and terrorism at all for the first 9 months of Bush's presidency. Your party loses again.

Posted by: Craig at May 7, 2006 05:44 AM

It's not that he's a Jarhead who is a dad, but rather that he's the father of a Jarhead.

I doubt he's apt to agree with your history, and frankly he has good reasons for rejecting it. Its key flaw is that it posits an American "left" and "right" that are largely unchanging from the early Cold War to today.

In fact, the American right as we know it today almost didn't exist in the days of the early Cold War. Insofar as it existed at all, it did so outside of the Republican party: in the Democratic South.

The "left" existed in some similar form, but also in the Democratic party: in the unions we had the labor left, and there was a Hollywood left in those days. Yet again, they were allied with and worked with the closest thing to what we would now call the "right," in order to maintain the coalition party.

The "left" we normally think of, meanwhile, didn't have either the form or the power it has had since. That was a creation of the Civil Rights movement, which in the early 1950s was not yet powerful or influential; and the anti-Vietnam movement, which hadn't begun.

The Republican party of 1953 was neither right nor left by today's standards; and indeed, neither was the Democratic party. Both survived on a form of post-New Deal politics that would locate them to the left of center, but how much difference was there substantively between Nixon and LBJ on social programs, or between Kennedy and Nixon on foreign policy?

Thus, starting by blaming "the right" for Iran decision of the 1950s is improper. The right as a political movement didn't exist then. Goldwater, Reagan, the explosion of self-described "conservative" thought and movements were yet to come.

The decision was made by Americans, but they weren't following our current models. Their model probably represents the best hope for a resurgent Democratic party: if you want a return to power by the Democrats, a new alliance with parts of the right, and a Kennedy-esque foreign policy would be a good beginning. Yet such a policy isn't "left" by our standards, and it isn't "right" either.

What you're trying to do isn't to create a history, then, but to create a mythology. That's OK with me -- I was just arguing in favor of mythologies here at VC the other day -- but I don't buy this one. It projects "the left" as eternally good and wise people, with "the right" as eternally wrong, foolish and bloodthirsty.

Yet the decisions you reference were taken by people outside those models; even by the 1980s, when we were arming the Afghans, it was famously liberal Congressman Charles Wilson who was leading the way, with famously conservative Reagan in a supporting role. Whether the decision was wise or foolish, it was a decision taken by right and left together -- by sections of each, that is.

Indeed, I would say they were probably wise: Afghanistan played a major role in breaking the USSR, and though al Qaeda represents a new challenge, it doesn't have the same near-term probability of wiping out humanity in nuclear fire. A victory in the Cold War was well worth the price of fighting the GWOT, even if there were a demonstrable straight-line causation between the one and the other.

Posted by: Grim at May 7, 2006 10:08 AM

“the conservative's truth is that culture, not politics, determines the success of a society and the liberal's truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”


Posted by: gee at May 7, 2006 12:51 PM

Nice quote, Gee.

"It's not that he's a Jarhead who is a dad, but rather that he's the father of a Jarhead."

That's what I'd assumed.

"I doubt he's apt to agree with your history, and frankly he has good reasons for rejecting it. Its key flaw is that it posits an American "left" and "right" that are largely unchanging from the early Cold War to today.

In fact, the American right as we know it today almost didn't exist in the days of the early Cold War. Insofar as it existed at all, it did so outside of the Republican party: in the Democratic South."

In fact, the 'right' and 'left' can be traced back to the earliest administrations in our country, when the 'revolution of 1800' pitted the 'right' of Adams (supported by Hamilton), the group who tended to favor a more authoritarian policy, the wealthy, the group who brought us the sedition laws, against Jefferson (supported by Madison), who favored the economics of the public more strongly and supported the wealthy less, who was more an advocate for looser limits on free speech (and who nullified the sedition laws), who spoke of how the 'tree of liberty should have its roots watered by the blood of revolutionary patriots' periodically - Jefferson, the left, who opposed a standing army as the greatest threat to the nation, who opposed a central bank.

Admittedly, the parties have changed; in the 1840's, we had Rep. Lincoln for the new republican party sounding a whole lot like John Kerry on Iraq, as he tried to explain how his party was against the unjustified war against Mexico to get their land, while defending his patriotism against the attacks of the other party in power. Times have changed on that. But the basic ideas of the left and right have not changed that much.

"The "left" we normally think of, meanwhile, didn't have either the form or the power it has had since. That was a creation of the Civil Rights movement, which in the early 1950s was not yet powerful or influential; and the anti-Vietnam movement, which hadn't begun."

Come on - the left led to a major socialist registration in the 1930's, it led to the radical creation of all kinds of government programs under FDR; before that, it led to the progressive movement a century ago, overturning the right-wing's policies which had delcared the minimum wage unconstitutional and such, while they got rid of most child labor, establish anti-monopoly laws, and such. The issues changed, the basic orientation did not.

The south was always an aberration of the democratic party; while it was the party of the party with race issues, it was Truman who broke the race barrier in the military, Kennedy who stirred the conscience of the nation, and LBJ who got Kennedy's civil rights bill passed.

And then it was Kevin Phillips' southern strategy which corrected the aberration of the south, moving them to the republicans - something for which I think he deserves, but feels, no shame (I asked him this last month, and he doesn't care to think about that).

"The Republican party of 1953 was neither right nor left by today's standards; and indeed, neither was the Democratic party. Both survived on a form of post-New Deal politics that would locate them to the left of center, but how much difference was there substantively between Nixon and LBJ on social programs, or between Kennedy and Nixon on foreign policy?"

You're largely right, but the issue is simply that a radical group on the right has gained in power.

We had a legitimate left and right back then, oriented not terribly far from how much of the rest of the world's democratic (small d) community is today. There were differences - Ike refused President Truman's offer to run as a democrat with Truman as *VP* because he felt the democrats were too liberal for his views - but there is much truth to your comment. It was a time when Earl Warren could win as governor of California as both the democratic and republican nominee; a time when, in the Nixon/Kennedy election, Arthur Schlesinger felt compelled to write a small book to say yes, there really are differences.

But there were real differences in the right and the left then - consider the John Birch Society on the one hand, which had a surprisingly large presence in the military, and SDS more on the left. Kennedy disliked 'the left', yet he would be considered an amazingly left dove by many today if they really understood his policies: refusing to overtly involve the US forces to save the Bay of Pigs invasion, refusing to commit combat troops in Viet Nam and plannnig for total withdrawal by 1965, even though he knew it'd make him accused of weakness, his overtures to the USSR for moving away from the cold war and towards peace, including the first nuclear test ban treaty. Read his speech at American University in June, 1963, which Kruschev ordered to be played across the USSR as perhaps the best speech ever by a president.

Add to this his refusal of nearly all his advisors (and the republican consensus) to invade Cuba during the missile crisis until he tried lesser steps first - and though he didn't know it, he avoided a near-certain nuclear war by doing so; his novel approaches to try supporting 'real' neutral leaders in third world countries, his ending decades of support for Europeon colonization, and you have a real contrast to the republicans.

"Thus, starting by blaming "the right" for Iran decision of the 1950s is improper. The right as a political movement didn't exist then. Goldwater, Reagan, the explosion of self-described "conservative" thought and movements were yet to come."

While you're right that Goldwater and Reagan pushed to the right, there were real differences.

"The decision was made by Americans, but they weren't following our current models. Their model probably represents the best hope for a resurgent Democratic party: if you want a return to power by the Democrats, a new alliance with parts of the right, and a Kennedy-esque foreign policy would be a good beginning. Yet such a policy isn't "left" by our standards, and it isn't "right" either."

I have a somehwat different view: I think that there are interests, largely corporate, who are gaining such influence, they have largely hijacked the republican party, in part with a strategy of pandering to marginal groups who were properly held at bay previously, in part by simply overwhelming the financing of the elections against the interests of the public. Sadly, less than 0.25% of the public donated $200 or more in the last election cycle, while corporate interests can simply dwarf them, and they get *huge* returns on those investments.

I think the American people simply need to wake up to the situation, and vote better, but how to make that happen is the question. You might think that the flat and declining wages of most Americans while the 0.1% top skyrocket might have an effect; you might think that seeing the share of America's wealth held by the top 10% go from 50% to over 75% (conversely, the bottom 90% going from 50% to under 25%) might have an effect. Not yet, they're still voting against flag burning and gay marriage, but we'll see if democracy can function.

"What you're trying to do isn't to create a history, then, but to create a mythology. That's OK with me -- I was just arguing in favor of mythologies here at VC the other day -- but I don't buy this one. It projects "the left" as eternally good and wise people, with "the right" as eternally wrong, foolish and bloodthirsty."

Well, you misrepresent both the fact that I'm telling history, not mythology, and the message I'm posting. The left has plenty of foolish people. I do think 'the left' is more often good and wise; look at the positive progress our country has made in the last century, and nearly all of it - women suffrage, civil rights movement, reductions in poverty with the elderly, the handicapped and others, access to medical care, the end of our support for brutal colonization, the end of atmospheric nuclear testing, the support for the environment (with strong credit at a couple points to Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon), the 40-hour work week and end to harsh child labor, consumer protections - and they all were pretty much led by liberals and opposed by republicans.

I don't think the right is 'bloodthirsty'; I think if I took most republicans and helped them understand the real effects of many of their policies, that many would be revolted. I think the rank and file republican is a very good person, often with qualities many liberals would benefit from. But they are also the targets of massive propaganda which make them deal with mythologies, blind to the agendas being pursued with their vote. So, I'd rather you not misrepresent my message (I know you did not do so intentionally - you just don't quite understand it in the limited space we've had to talk).

"Yet the decisions you reference were taken by people outside those models; even by the 1980s, when we were arming the Afghans, it was famously liberal Congressman Charles Wilson who was leading the way, with famously conservative Reagan in a supporting role. Whether the decision was wise or foolish, it was a decision taken by right and left together -- by sections of each, that is."

Actually, it was Carter who secretly paved the way for arming the Afghans, and pulling the Soviet Union into war there, which had such a role in their downfall. And yet, had that been the whole story - without our republican support for Saddam, for ending democracy in Iran and so on, the armed Afghans would hardly have had much support for their cause. His political support was reportedly in pretty bad shape until the US did him such big favors to anger the region, despite all that had happened before. Even today, the *public* of Iran has a surprisingly positive view towards the US.

"Indeed, I would say they were probably wise: Afghanistan played a major role in breaking the USSR, and though al Qaeda represents a new challenge, it doesn't have the same near-term probability of wiping out humanity in nuclear fire. A victory in the Cold War was well worth the price of fighting the GWOT, even if there were a demonstrable straight-line causation between the one and the other."

That was the thinking at the time of both parties.

But of course, in the right wing version you won't hear of the issues of the 'military industrial complex' which had to inflate the threat the USSR posed to us for decades to justify the huge budgets, famously identified as an issue by Eisenhower when he coined the term, you won't hear of the lost chance for a more peaceful world following the end of the cold war and the need for new wars to be created, you won't hear of the radical ideology of the PNAC agenda causing war.

Our efforts to end the Soviet regime, for all the exaggerations of the threat they posed, had some benefits - yes, Kennedy and others really were 'cold war warriors' to that extent of believing in the tyranny of that system - and I think we really lost a chance to help Russia move to something better, but instead, they had the vacuum filled by a lot of corruption and predictably are falling back to a more totalitarian system now, with Cheney criticizing the government this week despite Bush's assurances that he 'looked into the heart of Putin' and saw he's a good person - language aimed at the religious right, of course.

Are we to be the light of liberty in the world, or just a moderm form of empire?

Are we to see corporatism replace democracy, as even now the rights of democratic nations to pass laws reflecting the values of their societies are undermined by clauses in 'free trade' agreements which prevent nations from the freeom to pass such laws?

I'm not too sanguine about the immediate future, but the republicans have done the world and the nation a favor by the sheer incompetence with which they've governed, opening the door to some change. Perhaps the democrats, if elected, can hold off the domination of the corporate funding themselves and educate the public on the issues where there is too little awareness.

Posted by: Craig at May 7, 2006 05:01 PM

I'll start by saying this: if you're tracking the "left" in America to Jefferson, then I'm a pure-strain leftist myself. My political lineage is easy to track: Jefferson inspired James Jackson, who founded what became the Democratic Party in Georgia. James Jackson also inspired its leadership and an early political faction, one that survived largely unchanged in the mountain regions through to Zell Miller and myself.

So, if that's the model, then I agree after all: the left is always correct. Just, you know, my part of the left. :)

I also happen to approve of Kennedy, for the most part, including the policy of pursuing real alliances with genuine neutrals -- a policy which GWB, oddly enough, seems to have revived with the Indian nuclear deal. I was both surprised and pleased to see him taking that approach toward India, which has been the leader of the Non-Aligned movement. I hope that blossoms, as a friendly alliance between the US and India would mean a number of great things throughout that part of the world, from the east coast of Africa through to Australia's neighbors.

Interestingly, I do share some of your concern about the effect of NGOs, although it isn't PNAC (or at least, not only PNAC) that concerns me. I think we would be well served to develop a way to track and make transparent to the voters a lot of the funding that goes on for these NGOs. You're worried about corporations, but really I think there are bigger fish to fry: the corporations just want more money, which is a fairly straightforward interest.

What I often wonder about are these various "scientific" studies we see cropping up everywhere, so many of which seem to come with a public relations agency attached to push their results. In true science, the results of a study would be important only if subsequent studies replicated those findings, and peer review showed that the underlying theory seemed to hold water. Yet these findings are always ready-to-go, with public policy recommendations attached, and copy space prepared in the top MSM publications.

You can pick your issue -- it might be better if you do -- and identify your own examples. It doesn't matter which side of the sphere you're on, I think we're seeing a lot of opinion manipulation through pseudoscience and psychology (a particularly invasive form of pseudoscience, dangerous to individual liberty because neither its diagnoses nor its underlying theories can actually be disproven).

We'd benefit from an approach that allowed us to track who was paying for an individual study. It might also be a good idea to develop a watchdog mechanism to red-flag certain bad practices that are common (citing your own earlier research as evidence in favor of your proposition, for example; or more sneakily, citing "another team's" research, when that team was composed of more or less the same membership as the current team).

Well, all that said: since I'm willing to ceed that the left is always correct (even if it's just my part of the left for which I'll make the concession) -- will you tell us the plan for Iran?

Posted by: Grim at May 7, 2006 06:32 PM


Just because someone was 'inspired by' Jefferson, doesn't make them of the same ideology. It gets complicated as 'left' and 'right' are imprecise and people can share traits from each or neither. I'm not familiar with James Jackson, but Zell Miller is not a figure of the left, IMO.

If you will agree that the left was right on the policy points I mentioned on Iran, then I'll consider that qualifying as agreeing for the purposes of discussing Iran. Why do I think it's best to do it that way, rather than just discuss Iran?

The right has an ideology it likes to frame things in, right or wrong, and they can take issue after issue, and 'debate' why the right-wing framing is right again and again; we've seen that many times, and then the policy goes bad, and they're on to the next issue. Why just repeat that with Iran?

Better to look at the ideology and ask how it's worked over multiple examples, than to rush to a discussion in the same old mold, 'Iran is a threat and anyone who disagrees with the right hates America or is a naive idiot or is weak'.

Been there, done that, as the same approach is used from Viet Nam, which we also 'had to fight', to countless others (Spain, Mexico, Philippenes, Nicaragua, on and on); each time, the right is presented with the reasons against war, and they fit the square peg in the round hole anyway.

And I know we can do that with Iran, too. A threat, no other choice, all opponents are the usual bad things, and so on. I know they don't think that's the case - they're a prisoner of the ideology, not seeing the alternatives. That's why it's more useful to use hindsight.

JFK would have taken us out of viet nam without ground troops every introduced, by 1965.

He's have taken a lot of criticism from the right, but 58,000 Americans and millions of Americans would not have been killed, our nation would not have suffered such a blow to its unity, our domestic programs would have been so much stronger, and more. Would our security really have suffered in a way which justified the cost of the war for both sides? History suggests not.

So rather than repeat it, let's learn from it. Go back and adapt your right wing views to reach the 'right' answer on mistakes made before, before rushing to use the same ideology again.

And by the way, the left widely supports the war to remove the Taliban - but would have liked to see a 'real' reconstruction there, where instead Bush has done minimal effort, and the Taliban and warlords are still a major force.

Rumsfelds quote says a lot about the right's attitude, when he said that Iraq made more sense for the war because Afghanistan lacked good targets. My gosh. Who can't be concerned about that?

Having said all that, thanks for the response Grim, it was constructive, good to see that.

I agree with you on the benefits of transparency; for example, Mother Jones exposed Exxon's funding of dozens of 'think tank' type groups which were set up to cast doubt on global warming while purporting to be independant.

Deceipt is a threat to, and an undermining of, democracy.

Finally, I don't think Kennedy's support for the independance of third world nations is really comparable to Bush on India's nukes (or any Bush third-world independance policy, pretty much - for example, Kennedy recommended the land redistribution to Venezuela which Chavez is now implementing as a 'leftist'; JFK famously said, if we cannot help the many who are poor, we cannot save the few who are rich. Bush on the other hand, has tried to overthrow the elected leader).

India already had 'real independance'; this was an issue of undermining non-proliferation.

I lack enough info on the India situation, but it seems dangerous to reward their refusal to join the NPT, and our lack of sanctions or efforts to prevent Pakistan's nukes... are of concern, possibly motivated by bad policy. What is the world to think when they see us go to war over non-existant WMD in Iraq while turning a blind eye to Khan's activities in Pakistan, and his lack of severe repercussions? It makes a mockery of our position, as does our failure to comply to the treaty we signed to eliminate our own nukes, as we instead plan new nukes, and are moving closer, reportedly, to using them in a first strike than perhaps ever since WWII.

Posted by: Craig at May 7, 2006 10:43 PM

Having had the experience of watching Zell perform as Lt. Governor and Governor before he became a Senator, I'd have to say that you might be surprised as to whether he's on the left. Certainly, he has the military and law-enforcement values you'd expect of a Southerner, and he is a devout Christian.

All of those have become right-wing positions, but only because the left has abandoned them. There was once a very strong Christian left (and there are still remnants of it, such as the Quaker peace teams, which we've discussed here at VC); there was once a strong-military left; there was once a law-and-order left. The right didn't win those positions so much as the left walked away from them.

Zell represents the old-school Democratic party positions there, and on other things. His gubernatorial terms were based on three things: the establishment of the HOPE scholarship (a lottery-funded scholarship program that guaranteed a free public college education to any Georgia student, attending a Georgia university, who could maintain a 3.0 GPA); sharp raises in salaries for public school teachers; and a (failed) attempt to abolish the Confederate emblem from the Georgia flag.

I wouldn't normally call that leftist, but I would call it Jeffersonian. Just as Jefferson held that the individual is freest who is a yeoman farmer (because he owns his own means of production), so the modern Southern Democrat holds the path to maximum individual freedom to be education and small business. Education is capital you own that can't be taken away; owning a small business and being your own boss means that, like the yeoman farmer, you are genuinely independent in a way that no employee ever can be.

As for James Jackson, it's a tragic fact that few Americans outside Georgia know of him. He was one of the greatest of the founding Fathers, and deserves to be more widely known. I'll tell you the story briefly; you'll like it.

James Jackson was a Revolutionary war hero who was offered the position of governor of Georgia at the end of the war. He declined, holding himself too young to merit it. Instead, he ran for and was elected to the US Senate.

About this time, a precursor to the modern corporation was forming in Georgia: the Yazoo land group. Through manipulation of the legislature, and bribery, they passed a law that allowed them to purchase almost all the unclaimed land in the state of Georgia (unclaimed, that is, except by the indians; but that's a separate story).

James Jackson was outraged. Being a Jeffersonian, he wanted to see a nation of yeoman farmers -- for the aforementioned reasons of individual liberty. He determined to undo the Yazoo land fraud. He didn't try to do it using his seat in the US Senate, however, as he was devoted to the principles of federalism; so he resigned his seat, and ran for the Georgia Senate. He was easily elected.

There he began a fight to overturn the law. In those days, dueling was not only legal but almost required of a gentleman in Georgia. Yazoo backers sent four men, essentially hired killers, to try to stop Jackson's efforts by creating a cause for a duel, and then shooting him. He killed all four, and saw through the repeal of the Yazoo fraud.

Following that, he served as Governor of Georgia, returned to the US Senate, and essentially founded what became the Democratic Party in Georgia. It's a great story, one of personal courage and principle, and one that should be more widely known.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2006 12:15 PM

As for the Iran situation, I can only promise this much: I will accept the foundational statements for the sake of the argument, and will therefore not field counterarguments that revolve around calling you disloyal or anti-military.

I think that's the best offer I can make in good faith. You're welcome to accept it or not, but you may wish to consider that you won't win many converts to your position if you won't describe it to people who don't already agree with you. If you want to see your Iran policy put into practice, you'll need to convince people who are starting on unfriendly ground, not just the ones who already accept your underlying premises.

It's up to you, however, whether you think that's good enough. I can't speak for JHD and others, either, so you may come under fire from other quarters even if I won't attack you in those ways.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2006 12:20 PM

On Zell Miller, sometimes people change radically.
Of course Miller had his issues on the left; in 1992, he was a keynote speaker at the Democrats' convention.

But by supporting George W. Bush in 2004, he radically was against the left.

On top of that, I see some pretty bad dishonesty in his Bush speech in 2004, a few examples:

- "Against the Patriot missile that shot down Saddam Hussein’s SCUD missiles over Israel."

The latest reporting I've seen says that the patriot likely shot down *zero* of the scuds.

- "US forces armed with what? Spit balls?"

This of course was an utter falsehood regarding Kerry's position on the military.

- "Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending."

Kerry said the opposite. This is not a 'good faith' mistake, it is a lie for the right wing.

- "I want Bush to decide. John Kerry, who says he doesn't like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security. That's the most dangerous outsourcing of all."

Same as above.

- "As a war protester, Kerry blamed our military."

Quite the opposite. Kerry organized veterans to have a voice. He blamed the Nixon administration.

Arranging for the veterans to get to say the truth about the war was pro-troop and anti-war.

"As a senator, he voted to weaken our military. And nothing shows that more sadly and more clearly than his vote this year to deny protective armor for our troops in harm's way far away."

Let's take him at his word that nothing shows it more clearly. In that case, the proof is convincing that Kerry did the opposite. Miller here repeats the lie about Kerry's position.

Kerry had exactly one position; the topic being voted on changed, and so did Bush's position.

Kerry's position:

The aid for the troops needed to be approved, regardless of the funding; however, it should be funded by paying for it with tax dollars, and not by debt with the so-called tax cuts occuring at the same time. The safe margin of passage of the funds allowed Kerry the luxury of a protest vote.

Bush changed *his* position on the funds for the troops, and unlike Kerry, he never said he'd support the funds regardless of the funding. Bush threatened to veto the troops' funding if it were paid for by repealing enough of the tax cuts to cover the cost; Bush only supported the aid for the troops in the second version of the bill, in which it was paid for by increased debt.

So, let's compare this 'best example' of Kerry's lack of support for the troops:

You have Kerry voting for the bill when the funding is paid for rather than borrowed, and you have him saying he would vote for the bill even as debt if it were a close vote, and you have him making a protest vote against the bill when it has a safe margin, to protest the debt.

In short, he's for the aid, and he's also standing against increasing the debt.

Bush, on the other hand, *hypocritcally* makes changing positions on the aid, something he did himself, a central theme of his attacks on Kerry while misrepresenting Kerry's position, as he just decided the aid was good one day and bad the next.

Bush actually did oppose the aid over the funding issue, unlike Kerry.

The fact that Miller repeated this lie long after the facts were known is more dishonesty.

As for the topic of the old Jeffersonian belief that farm owners had freedom, people really need to get up to date in their understanding of modern economics and realize why the modern small farmer is in such a miserable situation.

I suggest the book "Unequal Protections" for many topics, here are a few words from it on farming:

"Farm subsidies represent a huge transfer of tax money to corporations, but only a very small portion goes to family farmers.

In the agricultural industry, four multinational corporations control 82 percent of the beef cattle market; five companies control 55 percent of the hog-packing marketplace. Although large agricultural corporations numerically own only 6 percent of U.S. farms, that 6 percent accounts for almost two-thirds of all farm income.

In a growing trend known as contract farming, famrers are forced (because they can't compete against large-scale multi-national purchasing) to sell their farms to agribiz companies and then work on the land they once owned. The United States lost 300,000 family-owned farms between 1979 and 1998. As agricultural writer Julie Brussell notes, "This agrarian 'genocide' mirrors the descent of much of American's rural country into economic serfdom.""

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 01:01 PM

Well, campaign speeches are one of the more disagreeable aspects of modern politics. Zell probably caught more flack for his 1992 speech, in which he agreed to say that "Bill Clinton is the only candidate who feels your pain."

Now that was a line that was the occasion of much hilarity down Georgia way. I can remember his opponent in the next election running a commercial that was nothing but a loop of old Zell saying that over and over again. It was designed to play well across the country, but it sure didn't win him any points back home.

The Clinton administration's attempt to sell its health care plan to Southerners went much the same way, for much the same reason. The administration sent a young lady down to Gainesville, GA, to give a town hall-style presentation of the thing. I can recall she was a little flustered by the level of opposition she faced, and she finally said in a stamp-her-foot kind of way, "Look, what you people need to understand is you'll get all these benefits, and it won't cost you anything."

It took several minutes for the laughter to die down.

It's not that the South is opposed to any government scheme to improve society -- as the HOPE scholarship shows, we're not. We just laugh really hard at the idea that politicians are on our side, or the idea that government help is free. Bill Clinton wasn't doing any of his bit for us; he was doing it for Bill Clinton. We knew that. The policy might be good or it might be bad, wise or unwise, but it wasn't a gift from our Great White Father in Washington -- and there were certainly strings attached.

In any event, I'm not sure being against Kerry should count against anyone. Kerry, according to his own admission on the floor of Congress, met with Communist leaders while he was a serving Naval officer; negotiated with them aspects of what became known as the People's Peace Treaty; and then, still while a serving naval officer, appeared before Congress to attempt to advance that agenda in preference to his commander-in-chief's policy.

That, according to my understanding of the law, is actual-in-fact treason -- not rhetorical "treason," but treason as defined by the law and the precedents of US courts. The precedent limits the Constitutional statue of treason even more: it requires not just giving the enemy aid and comfort, but doing so in an attempt to advance their agenda in preference to the United States.' Yet that seems to be just what Kerry says he did.

Nor is this an "according to the Swift Boat Veterans" charge, but just what Kerry himself has testified that he did. The only defence I can think of would be to testify that his earlier testimony wasn't really true.

He wasn't prosecuted, and indeed hasn't suffered at all for it -- he's holding the seat of a US Senator to this day, in fact. America is very tolerant and forgiving, and was deeply divided over Vietnam, so much so that we didn't feel the moral certainty necessary to prosecute crimes of this sort. We've chosen to think of it as "something other than treason," somewhere between patriotic dissent an unpatriotic dissent depending on your point of view.

So, I don't hold it against Zell that there were some rhetorical holes in his speech. If that's the worst punishment Kerry suffers for having committed statuatory treason, while enjoying every benefit of the United States and occupying one of its highest offices, I'd say he has nothing to complain about. America has been kind to him.

You are, of course, correct that the situation of the small farmer is deplorable. I would be greatly willing to assist in a political program designed to protect and uplift small, family farms at the expense of corporate interests -- precisely out of Jeffersonian yeoman-farmer principles. I'm not sure that isn't a separate discussion, but it's a good idea all the same.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2006 01:47 PM

The thing is, Grim, I'm not that interested in persuading people to 'my Iran policy'. I'm interested in persuading them to the basic flaws in the right-wing's foreign policy, which apply to Iran and many other conflicts.

You really can't persuade on Iran without persuading on the more fundamental issue.

The right-wing thinking has caused us problems for decades, as I laid out using the history of Iran as an example, and until they see that problem, they'll continue to repeat it on the next situation just as they did on previous ones.

So, I'm not looking for a willingness not to discuss the history, or a 'for the sake of argument' stipulation, I'm saying that the history on these issues is the overriding issue, more important than the specifics of Iran now.

What I'd like is for the right to look at that history, conisder the alternatives, and realize that the wrong decisions were made, why they were wrong, and then the discussion is ripe for Iran.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 04:28 PM

On the Zell Miller-Kerry issue, while I'm reporting the truth about Miller's lies, you are taking the position that Kerry was a traitor to the country, and that therefore, all lies against him are ok to ignore.

I disagree with you that he is a traitor, and I disagree with you that if he is, that lies against him are ok. If he's a traitor, telling the truth should be bad enough - why would you need to lie about a traitor? So much for the right's often-bleated defense of 'absolute morality'.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 04:31 PM

This has been a very interesting discussion, but there are certain lines that increasingly become blurred in such a discussion and too many side issues tend to distract the focus.

First, is there agreement that this administration has agressively sought to interpret the law in a way that obviates compliance?

You cannot really have it both ways. Perhaps the Framers were not sure of the correct balance regarding the "constitutionality" of laws. But clearly there is no authority for the statement that the Executive Branch has any particular role in that act. And for better or worse, Marbury is the law. Worrying about the oligarhical usurpation of democracy by the courts is a bit to theoretical to me: The courts move incrementally and only when a case is properly presented. In any event, legislation is at least one remedy for the masses against this "oligarchy".

And the veto is an express power given to the Executive Branch of government. What strikes me as truly ingenuous in this discussion is that Bush's lack of ever using the veto is merely mentioned as an interesting but unimportant fact. However, this refusal by Bush to use the tools expressly included in the constitution is central to understanding what is going on here. When a president makes a constitutionally proscribed comment on legislation by using a veto, he is paying a political price: he must be able to withstand an override and his "obstructionism" will be exposed to the public. These signing statements (and various "legal" memos, e.g. re torture) remind me of some ridiculous law school assignments the intent of which is to urge the student to "make the argument". In a vacuum, such as law school, making the argument is harmless and perhaps pedagogical, if the participants don't take themselves too seriously.

However, this President does not want to spend his "political" capital as the framers intended; he wants to hide behind obscure signing memos and the legal opinions of his own sychophantic appointees, without any exposure to the light of reasoned debate. And these "legal eagles" take themselves very seriously.

Such actions are not simply unconstitutional, but they show the absolute lack of conviction of the persons behind them, because they are accomplished behind closed doors and without any recourse for citizens to comment or seek redress (until the Congress rediscovers its co-equal role in the process).

And worse these action show a contempt for the rule of law, as it applies to the constitution, and most tragically, contempt of the people, who are the only source of power in this republic.

Let's just hope that the genie can be put back in the bottle.

Posted by: eddie at May 8, 2006 05:08 PM

I believe what I was arguing was that (a) political speeches are lies as a rule, giving the examples of both the pro-Clinton speech of 1992 and the pro-Bush speech of 2004; and (b) while lying and being lied about is par for the course for politicians, Kerry at least can't complain that he's been treated unkindly by American politics. He's getting off easy.

As for "absolute morality," I'm not aware that I've ever believed any politician guilty of it. Probably not even George Washington was moral on every question, and certainly Jefferson -- though a model for all of us -- was willing to do things he thought unconstitutional when he felt they were desirable (e.g., the Louisiana purchase). Giving a less-than-completely-accurate-on-all-points speech would seem to be one of the lesser, if very common, offenses.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2006 05:10 PM

So, Eddie, was Clinton acting unconstitutionally when he issued signing statements during his 8-year tenure? Was Carter?

There is nothing in the Constitution about Executive Orders either (just as there was nothing in the constitution the gave the judicial branch the power of judicial review), yet Clinton issued a huge number of those, too, in addition to signing statements. And Clinton had the line-item veto, so he was able to sever objectionable legislation without vetoing the whole enchilada.

We all know Congress bundles legislation to make a veto less likely: a President can't strike down one part without holding up every other part of the law (some of which may be desperately needed). Yet you don't acknowledge that, either.

What strikes me as disingenuous is your contention that "Marbury is the law" when there was nothing in the Constitution giving the SC that power, juxtaposed with your contention that signing statements are "unconstitutional" and therefore somehow invalid.

Care to explain that one?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2006 05:15 PM

Let's hope, Eddie.

Grim, you practice several of the common 'apologist' atgument techniques in your responses.

The latest is to generalize the specific wrong.

'Zell Miller told this specific lie'.

Response: 'ain't it a shame the way that everyone always does that'.

It makes for a frustrating discussion unable to resolve anything - when 'your side' is about to lose a point, you leave the field and move to platitudes. 'Well, sure you scored more points this game, but if you count the whole season...'

You have yet to simply, clearly, condemn Miller's lies. Let's have it: not whether Kerry 'got off easy' or not, not generalizations, but either hold Miller accountable or not, as the topic of conversation, and then you can add the excuses.

Next, I'd disagree that political speeches are lies a rule, both in fact and as an apology for Miller. That's the common 'out' of cynicism to avoid the specific topic, but it needs to be accurate, and I don't think it is.

Political speeches tend to focus on one side of the issues, but they rarely are so dishonest IMO.

The only fact you raised to try prove the equality of lying between the parties was - ironically enough, Miller again in the role of the liar - his 1992 claim that 'only Bill Clinton feels your pain'.

Well, that's not a lie. It's a subjective type of judgement, not a factual statement like the ones I cited; it's a statement about the view held by many that the first Bush was not too concerned about the average American, that his policies were focused on the corporate interests, that he was aloof, an Ivy League silver spooner, quite wealthy from cronyism (read Kevin Phillips on him sometime), in contrast to the 'poor boy made good', raised without his natural father, Bill Clinton, who made concern for the 'average person' a focus of his campaign. 'Feeling their pain' was an expression of his priorities, and it can easily be argued that his priorities differed in ways from Bush's to back up the claim.

On absolute morality, what I'm referring to is your apologizing for Miller's lies on the basis that it's ok to lie when the lies are about a traitor - which sound an awful lot like the 'moral relativism' the right screams about (I don't think it's a meaningful terminology, myself).

Whatever happened to, simply, 'lying is wrong'?

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 05:31 PM

Well, Slate doesn't think Kerry told the truth either. Interesting take on it, since Slate magazine is usually more left of left than most
online magazines.

Click on my name for the article since I have not the hang of html.

Posted by: Cricket at May 8, 2006 05:34 PM

"What strikes me as disingenuous is your contention that "Marbury is the law" when there was nothing in the Constitution giving the SC that power, juxtaposed with your contention that signing statements are "unconstitutional" and therefore somehow invalid."

Marbury *was* based on the constitution's role for the court as the interpreter of the law.

What role would the Court have, if not to resolve conflicts between the law and the constitution?

Yes, some founding fathers were nervous about the court abusing the power - an unelected group appointed for life - and yet, they had provided no other good mechanism for resolving the dispites, and accepted this decision despite whatever grumbling.

The president controls th armed forces: what, exactly, are the courts or congress going to do if there was no such check and he violated the constitution? As one president said of a justice, 'he made his decision, now let him enforce it' - a challenge to the 'rule of law'.

On the other hand, while some use of signing statements can be justified for the president to comment on when he will not follow the law because he believes it unconstitutional, or to comment on an aspect of his views, it is unconstitutional for the president to use them to ignore the law for lesser reasons, either with or without a pretense of a phony 'constitutional issue', such as Bush's claim that the Iraq use of force law empowered him to ignore FISA.

We face a danger, when our normal political system in which Congress would impeach and remove a president who ignores the law, is subverted by politics when a political party can select candidates for Congres who will 'tow the line' and put party before citizens.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 05:42 PM

Cricket, I read through some of that, but it gets pretty convulted. For example, Slate claims that Kerry was misleading about his being discharged in 1970 - but in its evidence, an article, only the author of the article makes the claim, no evidence that Kerry said it is presented.

The whole 'throwing the medals' thing turned into a big mess of the right-wing trying to find something to 'pin on him', reminding me of the endless lies they told about Al Gore or catching him in trivial mistakes, such as when he'd said he'd ridden in a helicoptor with an official to a disaster, but he'd actually ridden with the man's deputy, and had ridden with the official many other times. GOTCHA!

If you know of a clear summary of the medal issue which resolves Kerry's intent - post it, but until then it smacks of the sort of trivial which makes up so much of the right's attacks. If Kerry can be shown to have lied in the 2004 campaign on that, he'll deserve condemnation for it.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 05:57 PM

Oh yeah, that's a good one. Bush ignores all those laws because he in his fine collection of legal minds have determined them to be unconstitutional. I'm rolling on the floor laughing my ass off on that one. Lets just screw the 4th amendment. It unconstitutional

Posted by: Randy at May 8, 2006 06:28 PM

Let me state this again, Craig. The Constitutional Convention SPECIFICALLY considered writing judicial review into the Constitution, but DECIDED NOT TO.

If people wish to amend the Constitution, they can do so by conducting a referendum. That is one way judicial review could have been added to the Court's enumerated powers.

Or Congress could have used its power to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Court, as set forth in the Constitution in another enumerated power granted to the Legislative branch. However neither of those things happened.

Instead, in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court unilaterally granted itself a power explicitly considered for inclusion in the Constitution, but INTENTIONALLY NOT INCLUDED.

In short, you approve SCOTUS granting ITSELF a power explicitly considered and denied to it, yet condemn the Executive branch (well, actually let's be honest - you only condemn Republican Presdients - apparently in your view the end justifies the means) for issuing signing statements. An interesting but intellectually untenable position.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2006 06:50 PM

That's where you are wrong Cass.

It really isn't that interesting of a position.

Posted by: Pile On® at May 8, 2006 07:01 PM

"Whatever happened to, simply, 'lying is wrong?'"

Beats me. It seems to be untenable in politics -- and diplomacy, for that matter. As someone who's been watching the game for a while, I can't say that I've any confidence you could find a politician or a diplomat who didn't say things that were demonstrably untrue. Regularly.

I think old Zell was one of the better ones, within that framework -- politicians, diplomats, and lawyers are all of a piece, I think. They seem to have an important role to play in the continuance of civilization, which is a good; but they don't seem to be able to do it according to a specific morality. I approve of Zell because I think he's a good guy outside of politics, and because I approve of the goals of his politics. It'd be nice if he were running a cleaner game than everyone else, but I don't think that's a reasonable expectation.

You think that political rhetoric isn't normally that dishonest, but speaking as someone on the mailing lists for both Republican and Democratic political action groups -- I'd have to say it was the standard. Regardless of whether it's an email sent to convince me that Ms. Clinton would be the end of America, or one sent to convince me of the same about George Allen, they all adopt the same tone. The anti-Kerry speech from 2004 is of a piece with ten thousand emails a year from my inbox. Nor is it limited to actual politicians, but seems to be part of the game in Washington: the NRA says the same stuff about the Brady people; the Brady people say the same things about the NRA.

That's not intended as a platitude, just resignation. Apparently we can't hold politicians to the same standards as the rest of us; so, I'm just trying to judge according to what passes for the moral context in their world.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2006 07:06 PM


The bias and distortion is on your side, though I think you are sincere in your position.

Consider this history of the process:

"Practically all of the framers who expressed an opinion on the issue in the Convention appear to have assumed and welcomed the existence of court review of the constitutionality of legislation, and prior to Marbury the power seems very generally to have been assumed to exist by the Justices themselves."

"The only expressed opposition to judicial review came from Mercer with a weak seconding from Dickinson. ''Mr. Mercer . . . disapproved of the Doctrine that the Judges as expositors of the Constitution should have authority to declare a law void. He thought laws ought to be well and cautiously made, and then to be uncontroulable.'' 2 id., 298. ''Mr. Dickinson was strongly impressed with the remark of Mr. Mercer as to the power of the Judges to set aside the law. He thought no such power ought to exist. He was at the same time at a loss what expedient to substitute.'"

In the Virginia convention, John Marshall observed if Congress ''were to make a law not warranted by any of the powers enumerated, it would be considered by the judge as an infringement of the Constitution which they are to guard . . . They would declare it void. . . . To what quarter will you look for protection from an infringement on the constitution, if you will not give the power to the judiciary? There is no other body that can afford such a protection.''... Both Madison and Hamilton similarly asserted the power of judicial review in their campaign for ratification. The Federalist (J. Cooke ed. 1961). See Nos. 39 and 44, at 256, 305 (Madison), Nos. 78 and 81, at 524-530, 541-552 (Hamilton). The persons supporting or at least indicating they thought judicial review existed did not constitute a majority of the Framers, but the absence of controverting statements, with the exception of the Mercer-Dickinson comments, indicates at least acquiesence if not agreements by the other Framers."

So, your resulting conclusions/accusations are incorrect.

"In short, you approve SCOTUS granting ITSELF a power explicitly considered and denied to it"

No, I don't. You assume the power was not inherently in the constitution; opinions differ.

"yet condemn the Executive branch (well, actually let's be honest - you only condemn Republican Presdients - apparently in your view the end justifies the means)"

Again, wrong: my position is unrelated to the party of the president.

The person doing wrong happens to be a republican; that's not the basis for my position.

You can't show me anyone matching Bush's behavior in the areas of concern being given a pass.

"An interesting but intellectually untenable position."

My position is quite intellectually tenable.

What's not is your lack of an answer to the problem posed when the president or congress are their own judges about the constitutionality of their actions, and your ignoring the history which contradicts your conclusion.

As for Pile On, pity leads me to silence. I guess it's nice that he got to feel he could play, too.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 07:29 PM


Can you post the counterpart lies from keynote speeches at the Democrats' 2004 convention which are as numerous and clear as the samples I posted from the Miller speech?

You assert equivalence of lying; I'm asking you to prove it.

Also, I disagree with the acceptance of lying by leaders in general.

And finally, there is an added hypocrisy when the party who claims that 'moral relativism' - a term I again indicate my disagreement with for describing a real issue - is wrong, then using it when it suits their desire. That's aimed at the conflict between your position and your party's.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 07:32 PM

I have tried to stay out of this, but it really is becoming a bit much.

Kerry has lied over and over again and his words are contradicted by videos of him saying things he denies saying, by the Congressional record, by FBI records... the list goes on and on.

1. Lie #1: Kerry said several times that he was not present at a 1971 meeting of VVAW where that group discussed the possibility of assassinating pro-war US Senators. Both FBI records (containing minutes of that meeting in which Kerry is listed as a participant) and the testimony of a Kerry supporter contradict Kerry's statment that he had quit the organization months before that meeting and was not in attendance.

2. Lie #2: Almost 200 VVAW members witnessed an argument between Kerry and Al Hubbard in July of 1971, yet Kerry claimed he had not seen Hubbard since April of that year.

3. Oh, and then there's this:

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

At the second presidential debate earlier this month, Mr. Kerry said he was more attuned to international concerns on Iraq than President Bush, citing his meeting with the entire Security Council.
"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."
But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

4. "I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly," he said. "But, boy, they look at you and say: 'You've got to win this. You've got to beat this guy. We need a new policy.' "

But the senator refused to document his claim and a review by The Times showed that Mr. Kerry had made no official foreign trips since the start of 2002, according to Senate records and his own published schedules. An extensive review of Mr. Kerry's domestic travel schedule revealed only one opportunity for him to have met foreign leaders here.

5. I won't even go into all the times Kerry had to delete blantantly false information from the bio on his web site during the campaign, including a claim that he was in command of a Swift Boat during which time another man was actually in command of that vessel. Kerry had to delete that plus a story about being engaged in a firefight from his web site after he was caught lying.

For someone who only served 4 months of a 12 month tour, that's pretty impressive.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2006 07:33 PM

Pity for Pile? Heh.

The only pity is I don't have more time. Life gets in the way. Maybe one day Craig you will know what that is like. Doubtful. But maybe.

Posted by: Pile On® at May 8, 2006 07:49 PM

cassandra, I could spend the time to dig down to the details for looking into your specific claims - doing so on Al Gore issues is how I found the shocking dozens of times they had simply blatantly lied about Gore, with no real claims of Gore lying being accurate.

But look at the triviality of your claims: these are clearly pulled from the right-wing hundreds if not thousands of little things they try to pull up, so many of which turn out to be nonsense, lies. And you see they're not worth that much time.

For example, Kerry saying in the 2004 campaign he hadn't seen someone for a period in 1971 with whom he'd had an argument? Without even getting into the accuracy of the situation, there's a gap you need to prove between mistake and lie.

Dick Cheney in the debates told John Edwards he hadn't seen him in a much more recent period, when he had. Cheney may have been lying because it was such a useful political attack; I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he'd forgotten sitting with Edwards at a breakfast.

The relevance of Kerry's seeing the person in 1971 seems far less important even than that.

It's not excusing any lies - it's pointing out the trivial nature of the ones you allege, and the sorts of gaps between 'lies' versus mistakes people can make.

If you want to hang your hat on one or two examples of big Kerry lies, post them and I'll take a look at responding, either agreeing, showing contradictory info, or that it's inconclusive. But, I hope you can find something that's not trivial.

And your partisanship continues to show, as you fail to acknowledge the much larger falsehoods by the 'swift vet' groups, including the sorts of lies which were disproven by Nightline when it went to the location of a Kerry battle and interviewed the local eyewitnesses.

(The author of the lies refused to conceed the obvious when confronted with the evidence).

Not to mention your sniping about 4 months of duty by Kerry, when Bush had *actively avoided any combat service* in Viet Nam, while Kerry ended up in great danger, wounded by enemy munitions.

When a bomb explodes by Kerry and shrapnel 'scratches him', as the right alleged, I find it amazingly tasteless for them to mock his wound, when the shrapnel could easily have hit him inches over, and he was in terrible danger as a colunteer, in contrast to their candidates.

(Cheney, of course, used several of the most contrived exemptions, his marriage and conception of his child timed with changes to the rules for exemptions requiring those actions).

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 07:54 PM

So Craig, if you attend a meeting of some nutjob organization of which you belong to, and they discuss assassinating Senators, is that trivial?

Perhaps on the left it is. Just checking.

Posted by: Pile On® at May 8, 2006 08:03 PM

Let me see if I can summarize your argument:

"You can't prove Kerry lied during the campaign, but if he did he deserves to have it brought out.

Oh... you say he did lie? Well, that doesn't matter because the lies weren't important and anyway I can't be bothered to look it up because if I find out you're right, I will dismiss it as unimportant anyway."

Yeah. You're entirely correct. Who cares if Kerry not only belonged to, but was a prominent member in an organization that plotted to kill US Senators while he was a Naval Reserve officer? That he sat at a meeting where the murder of US Senators was openly discussed, yet felt no duty to inform law enforcement? That, when questioned about it, he lied and said he'd quit months before that happened?

I mean, conspiracy to commit murder is a crime, but if you're a Kerry supporter that is really immaterial because you say it is.

Got it :) Just redefine the issue enough and you can dismiss just about any allegation.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2006 08:20 PM

I referenced the Slate article because of the left wing bias. However, and here is where it gets interesting, is that the Kerry campaign themselves covered their tracks. For example, the period of time when he supposedly wasn't in the reserve is also the time that Nixon was investigating him for his Winter Soldier claims, which were also proved fraudulent. His discharge is a bit of a mystery as well, since the redacted DD-214 discharge that is common to all veterans, NCO and officer alike, wasn't used by the Kerry campiagn as proof of discharge. Instead, another form was put up, showing that a general discharge was given, after an officer board of review. That is NOT your normal proceeding for a military career supposedly
distinguished by his heroism and medals. An officer review board is convened when there are, shall we say, unusual circumstances with the service member in question.

While Bush put forth all his service records
(redacted for SSNs and addresses), Kerry still has not come forth with at least 100 pages of documents from his career. He stayed in theatre for only four months, has represented his time in the Navy to be at least ten years, but 100 documents are still not being shown. We can only ask why, since he finished his tour and reserve time stateside and was not involved in anything classified.

Posted by: Cricket at May 8, 2006 08:21 PM

Cricket, what do you mean Nixon was investigating him for his Winter Soldier claims?

The Winter Soldier effort was around veterans telling their stories. Nixon was worried about political damage from Kerry getting the truth out, and arranged for someone to attack him politically - the same someone who is lying about him in the 2004 campaign.

And what do you mean Kerry's Winter Soldier claims were 'proved false'?

Are you claiming all of the veterans were lying?

Do you have any credible links to the alleged '100 unreleased military record documents'?

Same for 'suspicious' things about his discharge.

The right has long been making phony attacks on Kerry on these issues, and every time some information appears, it has confirmed his side of the story, as far as I'm aware. But you certainly don't see any of them apologize for the lying.

Cassandra, you got my position wrong, and if you weren't so reckless and absurd in the attempt, it might be worth spending a few seconds to help you get it right, but it is that reckless and absurd.

It's the loony fringe of the right when it gets to Kerry supporting any assassination of senators.

Someone could post on this blog about maybe it would be a good idea if someone assassinated a political leader, but that would not make us conspirators. Now, if they announced an intent to kill so and so at such and such a time, we'd have some responsibility to notify the authorities.

Any proof that Kerry was aware of such a specific plan?

I've got some evidence on the other side: no assassinated senators.

Now, if it's bodies you want for proof, I can show you some in Iraq courtesy of your friends.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 09:03 PM

BTW, it's interesting how each member of the right just continues to gloss over the important facts.

Kerry was actual *injured in combat* and Bush *actively avoided combat*?

No problem for them - just ignore it, and find something trivial to talk about instead.

Just amazing watching the cult members in action, 'fitting the facts to the ideology'.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 09:06 PM

Translation: "It's not worth my time to seriously address any of the 5 instances you brought up because I've already made up my mind. Facts are irrelevant."

I didn't say Kerry supported assassination of Senators.

If you bothered to read what I wrote, I said when he was questioned about whether he was present at a meeting where his fellow VVAW discussed assassinating US Senators (it's right on the minutes in FBI files) Kerry said, "No, I had quit long before that meeting."

IOW, he lied.

When he said, during his campaign that he had met with the ENTIRE Security Council, he lied.

When he said he had met with foreign leaders who supported him, he lied.

But you see it really isn't worth my time to argue with someone who won't address points he can't refute. You've already made up your mind.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2006 09:10 PM

You can stop translating, Cassandra, because you're not doing very well at it; you're distorting.

Let's take the incident you seem to be giving the most attention to.

At the meeting Kerry resigned from the group, there was *some* discussion, described as "the wisecrack level, because I don't think anyone took it seriously", of the idea of assassinating leaders who were for the war - not discussion with Kerry, but by others there.

Read the CNN account of the incident:

"By all accounts, Kerry was a moderate voice in the group, who took a grim view even of civil disobedience. Many fellow antiwar vets felt he was too traditional.

"A review of the subject's file reveals nothing whatsoever to link the subject with any violent type activity," concludes a May 1972 FBI memo about Kerry provided by his campaign."

The guy who made the 'wisecracks'? He said:

Kerry's opponents are "trying to blacken him with my brush and my ideas, and that's not fair."

Now, the real story you do have here, is Nixon misusing the FBI to spy on Kerry extensively.

He was being followed constantly by undercover agents, which you *should* be offended by.

Now, it is a problem that Kerry's campaign denied he was at the meeting, when in fact he was there.

It would be pretty politially inconvenient for him to have to explain what could be, and was, hyped up by liars on the right into some more about him than it was. Perhaps it was a lie when it was said he wasn't there; perhaps it was a mistake, despite the political motive to lie. Hard to be sure.

If it was a lie, I condemn it. I condemn the error either way.

The far larger problem, though, and one which you miss in your sea of partisanship, are the morality of his actions overall in that time, and the wrongs ranging from the republican policies to the misuse of the FBI.

So, your leading example does point to an error, and a *possible* lie - it's certainly conceivable that memory was incorrect on a particular meeting at which outrageous'wisecracks' were made by others at the meeting. A lie is inconclusive, IMO.

Posted by: Craig at May 8, 2006 09:45 PM

Craig, the evidence is documented by Kerry's own campaign website. Since you ask, I will look it up for you, but it will take awhile. I truly am a busy
stay at home mom and don't get much of a chance to surf.

One other thing; we have to agree on the source. I don't take CNN's word as gospel for anything, and not because of their left wing slant. It is because of their incredible inability to be objective and sympathetic to Kerry.

I also will point out that the Swiftboat veterans against Kerry were very much in a position to know not only about his time in service but also what was required of them.

And while I am speculating here, it would seem to me that any officer in the military, wearing a uniform or not, engaging in suspicious activities would be followed by the FBI.

Remember that the Winter Soldier investigation is one where Kerry himself admits that he witnessed atrocities; atrocities that he has not been prosecuted for and for which no evidence exists that said atrocities took place.

It has also been shown that the men who testified about these alleged crimes had never even served.

Would that the Hayden Kerry is uncomfortable with
was Tom of the unlamented Chicago Seven.

Posted by: Cricket at May 8, 2006 11:43 PM

Man! I go away for a few days making a livin' chasing little fish and come back to find Craig is actually a superhero. Cpt Intellectual! heh! Pardon us dumb ol' ignerunt folks Craig. You'll just have to bear with us!

Let's see, still no Great Plan from the Craigman. How unusual. Nothing but a bunch of intellectual tripe about "diplomacy" and "all Repubs are bad - ugh!". heh! What a waste of bandwidth you are Craig!

Hmmmm, all Repub admins and former generations of Repubs are mean, lying, war mongerers and all Dems are lilly white and pure as the driven snow. You are hellacious with a keyboard Craig but methinks you've enjoyed way too much freedom given to you by the blood of men far your superior.

Still no Great Plan from Craig. Oh wait a minute. That's redundant! :-o

Now you're into a treasonous bastard as your hero and every bad Repub is just out to get him with lies, smear, and innuendo. Waaaaa! Poor pitiful Kerry! The guy is a liar first rate and the VVAW were a bunch of woeful assh*les. Let me tell you a story Cpt Left and maybe you'll get the point. Highly doubtful as it does not fit in with you pacifist agenda but we'll give it a shot.

My best friend came home from Nam in a box. Volunteered that one did. A United States Marine. Well, I didn't have to report to my next ship for another five days and got my tail back home to bury my bud. I hooked up with his Mom and Dad at the funeral parlor and we headed to the cemetary. Lo and behold there were your fine Amuricans of the VVAW with their bullhorns, dope smoke, hippie chicks, throwing stones, and the whole nine yards. Protesting at a funeral of what you obviously are not - a real American Hero that gave his life for his country. Not simply taking some grenade frags in the butt when his bud threw it in a rice vat. No, we had the pleasure of having a full scale protest at the funeral service. These are your heroes Craig. These are the people you say are the true Americans throughout your diatribes here. You sir are a fool!

But wait, it gets better. The police dispersed the true American Left Heroes or hauled them off to jail for throwing a rock through the window of the hearse and we got to say our goodbyes. Headed off to the wake and had a great time telling funny stories about how much my bud LIVED. Time came for me to say my private goodbyes as I had to report to the coast so I headed over to the cemetary. I got there to find those true American Heroes (c'mon Craig, admit it, you've got their posters on your wall!) drunk, stoned, and defecating on my friend's grave. Unfortunately I was Democrat at the time and hadn't learned the mean and nasty Repub war mongering ways so I could only take out six of them before the Law got there to arrest us all. Fair to say that the pogues, and that's what they were 'cause they sure as hell weren't "vets", paid a fair price for their fun. Unfortunately the judge held me for a "cooling off" period but only fined me $1.00. I missed my ship, got busted, and spent another week in the brig. God, how anal you are to try and intellectualize something you don't have a rat's ass idea about.

You piss on every admin from the right and give a pass to every single Left admin in history. What a wanker you are. I mean that in all sincerity. You pass on Jimmy Carter and the men he got killed by destroying the HUMINT ability of this country. Along with Admiral Turner they destroyed our country's capacity to stay OUT of war. And the lives it coast. Facts Craig? I was there Wanker Boy. But we know, it's all right wing hyperbole and war mongering rhetoric. Except I'm not right wing and I don't intellectualize squat when it's time to get the job done. We have YET to recover from the desecration of our intel gathering abilities by those two. I give you the whole WMD fiasco as evidence. Ah yes, you even think it was Carter that began arming Afghans as part of his "diplomacy" skills and foreign policy. Heh! Read that somewhere? He and Turner got more folks killed with one stroke of a pen then GW has in his entire tenure so far!

I met some wickedly serious babes in those gas lines though. Now that was cool! :-o

You say that you cannot debate because all the right does is resort to name calling, etc.? Well no wonder. You don't want to debate. You just want to force feed your agenda and whip right on by anything resembling an opposing viewpoint. That and you are anal retentive! You don't have the balls to lay down your life for anything unless I'm sadly mistaken. Who knows? You could be a four tour Jarhead but somehow I hardly believe that. That would require believing in something bigger than yourself and I just don't see it. You have done nothing with all your "intellectualizing" to prove diddly about diddly squat. All you can do is research and make opinions based on nothing but what you read. Get out more. Preferrably with an A2 in your hand! You come on here spouting all your superior BS and running down the very people that give your panty waist the freedom to even take a breath. Frankly it's nothing more than a waste of good air.

Still the same; Repubs Bad - Bush Bad - We Have All The Answers So Vote For Us And Then We'll Tell You About The Great Plan But Don't Worry Now Because We Are Smarter Than You And Know What's Good For You.

Go ahead Craig, whine and cry about how ignorant I am and how I cannot even refute your talking points. If you were the real deal I might feel like I owed it to you but you would simply ignore that which is inconvenient to your agenda as you have done this entire thread anyhoo. 'Sides, you aren't - so I won't! :-o

Yeah, it's a good thing you got rid of all us ol' stupid Southern Redneck Dems. Who needs us eh? I mean, we made your party look so shabby and we couldn't even do any intellectualizin' or nothin'! :-o

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 9, 2006 12:01 AM

Here is one link. I will have some more web addresses that you will have to put in your locator bar since I am not fluent in Gatespeak.


Now, while you have at least five sources to peruse, I am going to tell you something: I am the spouse of a military retiree, officer. He served 22 years...twelve years enlisted and ten years as an officer and retired a year ago. He came up through the ranks because he sought it and earned it. Never once did he abrogate his duty to his personnel and those men and women that he trained and worked with have spoken of him in the highest terms of honor and respect. Yes, he did have a few words to say to the higher ups, but never was disrespectful.

Senator John Kerry dissed every single serviceman who was in the Navy not by his service but by his actions thereafter. He is an opportunist, a spineless excuse for a leader. Had he just served his four months, left, finished out his time and never did anything other than disagree with the war, fine.

But he was working with Hanoi...sleeping with the enemy. That isn't treasonous? Or does peace justify the means at any price? You see, I don't believe that he was altruistic. Not in that sense. Nor do I believe, on reading his accounts of his service in Vietnam that he was even that good of a leader. I have the feeling that he was let go with an immense sigh of relief.

Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 12:17 AM

Why bother Cricket? He's not interested in anything you have to say. Or anything you link to. It's all about him and his agenda. Nowhere in this entire thread has he even once accepted an opposing opinion. He alomst did with Grim but then caught himself. Just in the nick of time!

But what fine keyboard work. Almost artistic! I stand in awe and proper amazement. Captain Keyboard of the Left Quadrant! Heh! Sounds like a movie title. I'm sure he'd love to play himself! ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 9, 2006 12:27 AM

I just saw my post get Eaten!

Craig, I found seven links to Kerry's misconduct and I hope Cass puts them up since I forgot to include my name and email. If she doesn't, let me make it clear: He lied. And it isn't the right wing pundits who are saying so. It is the Vietnam Veterans Against Kerry, the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth, as well as other people who are in a position to know because they were there and are not on CNN's most loved list, like Kerry is.

The links I put up are credible not because they agree with me but because there are those who wrote objectively, cautiously and yet with knowledge and insight because of their service records, experience as journalists, not the sob systers of the Dominant Media Culture, the Armchair Generals of Patriotic Dissent Who Want Rumsfeld's Job or the left wingers who believe that government is God and welfare is Religion.

Yes, I am in a mood because I also lived my life as a military spouse and know a smidgen of what I speak.

I get annoyed at many things, but when someone wants a hero like Kerry and questions others who disagree as if they are seriously In Error and says things like 'reckless and absurd' in reference to the comments, doesn't get a pass from me.

Cassandra is one of the most meticulous bloggers I know. She didn't have to put up the hoax post but her integrity as a person demanded it. She holds herself to a high standard of making sure that she doesn't put anything up here that is malicious, pandering or untrue. If you were to check the archives of this blog and 'I Love Jet Noise' for
2004, you would find some stellar investigating
during the September-November 2004 time frame...and even earlier. Please take the time to read the posts from that blog and here for that time period. Everything is well researched and when she has made a gaffe, she admits it.

Please do not attack the messenger.

Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 12:36 AM

Cricket: Sorry your links got lost, hopefully they'll show up. For what it's worth I have no doubt you have some good information to share that you mention, and I'm sure that Cassandra is a well-intentioned poster. I'm not going to spend the time to read her old posts, I take your word for it.

However, we disagree on the credibility of some sources you cite. You mention, for example, the 'swift boat veterans for truth' as a credible source, yet their lies are proven.

You had a commander say one thing about Kerry contemporaneously in Viet Nam, high praise, and the opposite decades later after Kerry has become his political enemy. Unfortunately, too many people are blinded by their ideology, and say things that may not be true.

To the extent I've been able to see swift boat accusations tested, I've seen two main results: one are accussations that are reckless, that often the person was in no position to know but they accuse anyway; the other are ones where the accusation is found to be false.

(The rest are mostly unknowable, he said/he said.)

I haven't found Kerry's record to be 'perfect'; he wasn't expecting the level of danger when he enlisted, there's some evidence he was laying the ground for a political career, building an image; is that so bad? The Kennedys were groomed for the same their whole lives, we benefitted.

As for your view on CNN, we'll disagree; I'd say they're a bit too right wing, you think left.

It doesn't bode well for us on other media sources; oh well.

You complained about my phrase "reckless and absurd"; let's be clear about what I said that about: Cassandra accused John Kerry of being guilty of "conspiracy to commit murder" of US Senators. I stand by my phrase.

You get a bit careless yourself when you imply that all of the men who testified at the winter hearings were not soldiers. I don't believe that for a minute. Show me the evidence. What I've seen is the opposite.

I'll share one thing with you: during the 2004 campaign, I wanted some check on Kerry's credibility regarding the Viet Nam atrocity accusations. I thought of one person I'd like to ask: Seymour Hersh, one of the most respected investigative reporters in the world, who won the pulitzer prize for the Mai Lai story of atrocities. One reason was that I felt that with his own reputation linked to that atrocity, he'd have a certain protectiveness on the topic to oppose any phony stories from watering down the topic.

I had the chance to ask him personally whether Kerry's claims about atrocities had been true, in his view. "All completely true" was his answer. You might need to consider that you might not be entirely correct on this.

As for Jarhead, IMO he is just embarrassing himself here - he sounds like a guy who had way too many beers and walked in the bar to argue. For example, he complains at me, among the name-calling, with the stories of some very bad behavior by some anti-war protestors.

Well, sorry for his attack, but I think the behavior he described was *horrible*.

He's projecting about 'agenda'; mey agenda is the truth. He obviously has some obsessive grudges against Carter and Turner, no doubt with some merit, and with some lack of merit. I've heard the same from those who served under McNamara; we'll hear more of it about Rumsfeld. It happens.

If he could have a rational discussion, fine, but he's just blowing off steam.

That's ok, I suspect his 'agenda' is too far from mine for us to have much to say. For example, I've little doubt that he's interested in my position on the morality of when the military should kill; he appears to be of the 'ask few questions about the morality of war policy' school.

And he just doesn't do too well in reading comprehension, for example saying I've accepted no opinions, not noticing for example when I agreed that a Kerry example was at least a wrong statement, and quite possibly a lie.

I'd be interested to hear more of the stories you have personal knowledge of.

Posted by: Craig at May 9, 2006 01:43 AM


You appear to have a remarkably flexible sense of morality.

Kerry, a United States Navy Reserve officer, was the national spokesman of a group which, he learned, was considering a number of increasingly violent and illegal measures. He is so upset about this that he manages to argue down the Phoenix Project and then quits.

Most people would remember something like this, yet Kerry lies and says he never saw Al Hubbard (one of the VVAW founders), with whom he had the argument that led to his quitting after April.

And having sat through a meeting where he felt called to argue forcefully that violence was wrong and he was quitting because he didn't want to be associated with anything violent or illegal, he walks away. Just as he walked away from what he says were "war crimes" committed on a daily basis with the full knowledge of the command in Viet Nam.

This is a man who, even when he was a Commanding Officer, says he saw things happen that were both morally wrong and illegal. Yet in both cases, he walks away without attempting to stop them. And on top of it, he lies about having been there.

His claims of atrocities have been debunked by anti-war authors like Neil Sheehan. A good place to start reading about Winter Soldier is this:


Think honestly about what Owens has to say. And then tell me you think Kerry has been honest with the American people.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2006 06:31 AM

Now I'm embarrassing myself? heh! Nice deflection! And you still have yet to answer anything.

Funny how that works! Thanks for stopping by.

It's nice to know the superior class is seeking the "truth" and taking care of us poor old dumb schmucks! We appreciate it since all of this is so complicated we really couldn't be expected to figure it all out for ourselves.

We shall endeavor to persevere! Sucks that we vote, huh? Maybe if the superior class can just get more military votes thrown out and increase their illegal alien and felon base they may be able to regain power and spank us as we deserve. That pesky rule of law thing is only a minor inconvenience or your side would be pushing for a picture ID voter registration. Yeah, guess I'll go back into my debasement and try to handle the humility of embarrassment. When you decide to actually come up with an original thought or quit deflecting every counterpoint that comes your way send up a signal flare. In order to have a "rational discussion" both sides have to argue their points, taking into account each's viewpoint. You haven't learned that part yet or you would put up your solutions and stand behind them while respecting those counter arguments without name calling on your own. Understanding of course that there just may be folks that actually lived through a lot of your historical claims that may even *gasp* know a thing or two about them! You are definitely a slick package and still a waste of good air!

Remind me to tell you the story about my Cuban buds. They're dead now but man it was a glorious way to go out huh? I guess life is just full of little ironies eh?

My apologies for being on the same planet. I'll try to stay under my rock so you can continue to be the swell leader you are! :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 9, 2006 08:51 AM

I see that things have developed quite a bit from when I was here last. I thought I was the only one of the regulars still reading this thread, but apparently not. :)

I'll tack back to where you were asking me to prove that politicians are liars. I'll try to do that; but let's not cherry pick. You wanted me to point to demonstrable lies in the 2004 Keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, which was -- I think it's fair to say -- an unusually good speech. Heck, even the folks at National Review really liked it.

There were still some stretchers -- the part where he mentions people being tired of Federal police raids on libraries, for example. It's true that the PATRIOT Act had permitted the Federal government to request library records as part of terrorist investigations. It's also true that they have never done so -- not in 2004, not now. When the Congress voted to cut the power last year, the DOJ stated for the record that it had never been used for that purpose.

There was also the bit about how much his life was like Lincoln's. True, except for the fact that Lincoln was extremely poor and managed to work his way up through law school even though he had to provide for his backwoods family the whole way. Obama attended an Ivory League school, having been prepped for it at an elite academy. That's kind of a stretcher too.

And this, mind you, is from one of the best political speeches in easy memory -- one that was impressive and liked on both sides of the aisle, one that was instantly recognized as an unusually excellent example of the type. Nevertheless, it stretches the truth both in praising its author (just like Lincoln!) and in damning the opposition (secret police raids on your library records!).

But let's not cherry pick. Let's look at the wider record. I gave you examples of when I thought Zell -- my favorite politician -- had stretched the truth or been unclear on his real principles. I like Zell, as far as politicians go. (You were wrong to say I'd never condemned him for speaking untruths. I did that when I called him a politician.)

What about Obama's principles? Let's take one near and dear to your heart -- the proper use of military force. You say you've got some strong opinions about the moral issues of when the military should kill. I'd like to hear them. But what are Obama's principles?

He made his reputation on antiwar statements. It was his 2002 speech at an antiwar rally in Chicago that first brought him to national attention in Democratic circles.

Once he got elected? By 2004, he was helping spread the "Democrats are tough and unilateral too!" message. "The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant... are we going to take military action? Launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in... on the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse."

I find that a perfectly rational position, but it's not what he ran on.

Last year, Obama said that "It is arguable that the best politics going into '06 would be a clear succinct message: 'Let's bring our troops home.'" Not, you know, the moral thing -- the best political position.

As of this week, he is telling supporters that he's against a pullout.

Where does he stand on the question of whether Bush should be investigated for wartime deception? In his famous 2002 speech, he said: "I don't oppose all wars…What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Roves to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income...to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression."

Now that he's in the Senate? He says Democrats do it too: "Well, FDR, JFK, LBJ -- we have a pretty long list of presidents who maybe were not entirely forthcoming with intelligence information before they went to war, so I'd be cautious against making legal cases against the administration."

So -- is he on your side or not? Is he being honest about whether he wants to pull out? Whether he's opposed to a pullout? Whether he thinks the President decieved the public and was wrong to decieve the public, or whether he thinks that deception is part of the game?

All I'm saying is that politicians are snakes. Snakes are useful, and an important part of the ecosystem. But you're a fool to trust one not to bite you.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2006 08:56 AM

Hey, Cassidy, would you check on the long comment I tried to post re: Obama? The system says it was received, but it needs approval to be posted (for some reason it seems to think I've never posted here before. Odd).

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2006 08:59 AM

Were you not married to the most wonderful gal in the world, I would kiss you. Since you are, I will settle for giving you a cyber hug (((JHD))).

One other thing about the Dems and their lies. Hillary has told a whopper or three; the most notable that she was named for Sir Edmund Hilary, the man who succeeded in climbing Mt. Everest. Only problem with that is that she was born in 1951, and Sir Edmund made his famous climb in 1953.

She also stated that Chelsea saw the planes crash into the WTC on the morning of 9-11 while she was out jogging. Chelsea herself stated that she was indoors and heard the crash and didn't know what had happened.

Gore and Clinton said they were going to have the most ethical administration ever. Well, they did.
Ethics without morals. They did what they felt was right, not what WAS right. Had they done so, Osama bin Laden would be in custody.

Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 09:25 AM

You make me blush Cricket! Didn't think that was still possible! ;-)

I have no problem arguing the facts. Craig simply shunts them aside for his own personal view. He thinks we're all just a bunch of mind numbed robots that can't think on our own yet he hasn't read any of the previous arguments (about three years worth) where we shred Shrub and the Repubs apart. He doesn't understand that we absolutely make sure we watchdog our government as is our right. Nay it is our DUTY as citizens to stay on top of what goes on in our government. Also he doesn't understand the direct result that affects us personally by policy decisions. WE are the ones that bury our dead, not him. WE are the ones that face the deployments and horrors of war, not him. Yet WE are the ones that are mind numbed? How astute of him! :-(

Yeah, it pisses me off to no end. The very arrogance of the Left is their downfall. Not our inability to understand what we are facing. Oh well, life sucks and then you die!

Ah, but we have LIVED haven't we? :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at May 9, 2006 10:28 AM

Yes, we have...for those who serve, freedom has a taste the protected will never know. About a month or so ago, some of the cutest little old guys were in front of the PTC Wal-Mart, asking for donations for flowers...you know, the VFW. One was a WWII vet (bless him) and the others were Korean War and Vietnam era vets. My daughter wanted to know what they were doing, so I took her over and she asked them what they were all about and why they were 'selling' flowers.

She got a history lesson from those who were there, on the ground, living the times. The Korean War vet was such a gentleman, and the vets' wives were all standing around, so we started trading stories (wives' stories are a hoot) about where we had served, been stationed, etc.

Cass, a book idea for veterans' wives would be something along the lines of The Silent Ranks.
I think it would be stellar. And I think you could pull it off.


Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 10:51 AM

I didn't think it was possible to make JHD blush either...

*running away*

Ah, but we have LIVED haven't we?

That's what I always tell the Unit when things get bad. At least we're not bored. The bad stuff just reminds you how good it is to be alive.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2006 10:57 AM

And as camp follwers, we are in stellar company.


Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 11:30 AM

I have just a moment for a quick post to address a couple points above.

"You appear to have a remarkably flexible sense of morality."

Not in the way you mean the offensive comment.

I suggest you stay closer to making your own points than to posting such offensive attacks.

Flexible, in terms of carefully analyzing and trying to understand others' views? Yes, that way.

As for the 'lie' Hillary told about her name:

"Hillary has told a whopper or three; the most notable that she was named for Sir Edmund Hilary, the man who succeeded in climbing Mt. Everest. Only problem with that is that she was born in 1951, and Sir Edmund made his famous climb in 1953."

If that's her "most notable" lie, she's not doing too badly.

You got two facts wrong - which by your standards, not mine, would make you a 'big liar'.

First, she has never said she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, in my checking. She told him, when she met him (and told reporters) that her mother had told her she was named for him after seeing his name in a magazine article about him as a mountain climber before he climbed Everest.

It's possible she is lying, and her mother never told her that, and she was 'telling a white lie' to say something nice to him, the way politicians often look for connections to a location or group they're speaking to. Note - I condemn dishonesty in doing so.

It's possible her mother did tell her that, in a lie, to inspire her, after Sir Edmund Hillary was world famous for climbing Mount Everest. There's even a very small chance her mother did see the name before he climbed Everest and liked it, as she told Hillary.

Again, it's a lie without consequence other than the inherent wrong of telling a lie - it's not as if Hillary gained anything but a slight conversation piece out of it. She didn't make herself into a mountain climber with it. It's wrong, if done, but a different lie than Miller's.

Miller was lying to the nation, to persuade them to choose the president for false reasons.

*That* has major consequences involving hundreds of billions of dollars, war, and much more.

Your second error is that Hillary was born in 1947, not 1951.

Now, a surprising thing is that the right wing would appear to have got this attack substantively right - where is the usual distortion? Well, they don't disappoint; the story was circulated that she herself said she was named after him; Dick Morris said she made the claim in her book.

She didn't.

The right maintained its streak of dishonest attacks.


Cassandra, thanks for the National Review link. I think that publication is usually garbage, but the article you linked to appears to one which makes at least some effort at fairness.

Of course, the overall issue of atrocities in Viet Nam is a large one, difficult to resolve.

Grim, on Obama, I'm not a big fan of his; your broader criticisms of him go beyond the topic I was raising of looking at the assertion you made about the broad dishonesty of political speeches.

Your two complaints appears to overstep the facts about his speech.

One, you say he said he was "just like Lincoln", but that's not what he said. It's fair to question the areas of comparison he did make; not to put words in his mouth he didn't say.

Two, you complain that he said people are mad about library searches which are actually happening, which you rebut by pointing out that the government said that while they now have the right, none have been done.

But again, you misrepresent what he said; what he said was not inconsistent with the fact that none have been done. What he said was that many people in red states don't like federal agents doing these warantless searches, which does not allege any were done, it reacts to the right.

If the government passed a law tomorrow which said the government can jail you for saying anything critical of President Bush, but doesn't actually use that power yet, wouldn't it be fair to say many people don't want the governmenr jailing people for criticizing the president?

That's a false criticism you made, IMO, by implying Obama said the searches had happened.

He didn't know whether they were - the numbers weren't released then - it's about the right.

Here's his actual quote:

"We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States."

I invite you to choose any major speech of the democrats' 2004 convention, not just Obama's, to search for lies comparable to those told by Zell Miller at the republican convention.

Posted by: Craig at May 9, 2006 03:26 PM


You appear to have an amazing ability to sift information and pull out things that confirm your pre-existing opinion. The CNN article you linked comes right out and says that Kerry and 3 other moderates resigned after that meeting.

Now just why in the heck did all the moderates resign? The most sensible explanation is that they were very uncomfortable with what had just happened.

And Scott Camil, the man who brought up the idea in the first place, was later arrested for plotting another attack. Doesn't sound to me like he was joking:

"Scott Camil, a Florida vet who put forward the idea, says the notion didn't get very far.

"If people considered our plans to be so bad, we would have been charged, and they would have made a big stink about it."

Camil, who was later tried and acquitted with seven other vets for plotting an assault on the 1972 Republican National Convention, said Kerry's opponents are "trying to blacken him with my brush and my ideas, and that's not fair."

Kerry, whose campaign insisted that Kerry had not been present in Kansas City until the FBI reports and VVAW minutes proved otherwise, cannot recall hearing the radical idea."


What a load of malarky. "If they thought murdering Senators was so bad..." - just what is NOT bad about a plan to kill US Senators?

And just why was Kerry upset enough to quit VVAW but not alarmed enough to report what he heard? Did he think that his arguments (described by several in attendance) were so utterly persuasive that even if he left, he had totally scotched any chance the subject would come up again? After all, the moderates had all just quit.

And I do stick by my "remarkably flexible sense of morality" remark. If you hear a bunch of people talk about murdering US Senators and are upset enough to quit, but NOT upset enough to report it, there is something seriously wrong with your moral compass.

If it turns out later those same people were arrested for plotting ANOTHER attack, I'd say you weren't justified in just assuming nothing would happen if you skeddadled before your name could be besmirched by their activities.

And if you excuse that kind of cowardly behavior by a US Naval Reserve officer, I'd have to wonder what does upset you?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2006 03:40 PM

And just to clarify, a responsible person does not take chances with the lives of others. He does the right thing, no matter how difficult or inconvenient.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2006 03:42 PM

Okay, so she was born in 1947. But that still doesn't mean she was named for Sir Edmund Hilary.

Posted by: Cricket at May 9, 2006 03:53 PM

"And just to clarify, a responsible person does not take chances with the lives of others. He does the right thing, no matter how difficult or inconvenient."

If only you applied this to Bush, before he goes using phony 'mushroom clouds' to justify war.

I guess you have flexible morality.

I'm going to suggest just once more that you bakc off of your comment on that and simply make your own point (mine above is obviously making the point in response to your overstepping).

You are posting as if I'm saying something I'm not. I do think that Kerry and the others resigning suggests a good chance it was linked to the excesses of others in the group - but I need to research further before reaching conclusions.

Your comments, no your attacks, are completely inappropriate responding to my silence.

The Camil charges for the 1972 convention are suspicious - on the other hand, they're not about murdering senators, and he was acquitted. You disregard that, and his comment exonerating Kerry, asyou rush to condemn Kerry.

You know, it's entirely possible that Camil's 'murdering senators' was a wisecrack, and something he did later about the convention was not. That's why you check facts before rushing to conclusion and accusation.

You're projecting when you suggest I'm the one cherry picking to fit opinions.

If you can be civil enough to back off the comment that's offensive and stick to the issue, fine, and if not, I do not plan to speak with you, and I'll just miss out on the better comments you have to make. It's up to you.

Posted by: Craig at May 9, 2006 03:55 PM

"Okay, so she was born in 1947. But that still doesn't mean she was named for Sir Edmund Hilary."

How about you run for president in 20 years, and this one post gets cited as the 'best example' of proof you are a complete liar not to be trusted - moreso than the Hillary story, since you were provably wrong, while Hillary's story may well be true.

The reason I say that is to try to point out to you the excesses going on in your side's attacks.

Here's a plausible scenario:

Dorothy Rodham liked "Hillary" as a name and chose it for her daughter in 1947. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary gained worldwide fame for climbing Everest, and the 6 year old's mother made her feel special by telling her she'd seen the name in a story and named her after him, to inspire her.

Years later, when Hillary met Sir Edmund Hillary, for conversation she felt this was a pretty good story, and told him and the reporters how her mother had told her that as a child. All true.

Next, the republicans see a chance to lie and smear her, and say that she claimed she actually was named for him, to make her look bad - they were the liars, not her. Many on the right repeat the lie, thinking it's true.

Can you say for sure that anything in the scenario as I paint it is not correct?

Posted by: Craig at May 9, 2006 04:04 PM


1. Bush cited three reasons, not one, for going to war. If you maintain other than that, you have not been paying attention to any of his speeches, but I was.

2. I never accused Kerry of being involved in murdering Senators. You are distorting what I said.

You asked for examples of Kerry lying. I proved 5, most of which you still have not addressed. Both witnesses, VVAW records, and FBI records attest to his presence (and his being with Al Hubbard) long after he said he had both quit the org and last seen Hubbard.

It was no accident that Kerry was trying to distance himself from Hubbard. And people are going to remember why they quit an organization they were a national spokesman for. That's not the type of thing that slips your mind. Kerry only corrected the record after he was made aware there was proof he was there. He never said, "Gosh... I don't recall - let me check". He stated categorically he was not there and only retracted when faced with proof he had been deceitful.

Camil was acquitted but that does not mean he was innocent. He admits bringing up the plot to kill Senators. Others at the meeting heard it too.

Yet you persist in making excuses for him, and Kerry. Why is that? Is everyone on the face of the earth lying EXCEPT for Kerry (the one person whose account doesn't agree with everyone else's)?

The entire incident was only brought up b/c you asked for examples of Kerry lying. He also, by his own admission in Senate testimony, witnessed and participated in war crimes and atrocities without either turning himself in or trying to stop them.

And yet you find it odd that I object to your defending him? Again, we must have a very different idea of right and wrong. The difference is that mine is closer to the UCMJ, which Kerry as a Naval Officer was sworn to obey. But you, apparently don't agree.

I am trying to get you to admit that what he did was wrong, by his own admission and you refuse to admit that. Is it any wonder I am confused about your sense of morality?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2006 04:24 PM

"1. Bush cited three reasons, not one, for going to war. If you maintain other than that, you have not been paying attention to any of his speeches, but I was."

Cassandra, on your point 1, you are factually incorrect, in my view.

I'll say that Bush HAD other reasons for going to war in Iraq. But he did not and could not not justify the war with them. See PNAC for some examples, not to mention his desire for revenge for Saddam's alleged ordering of the attempted assassination of Bush 41. Oh ya, and oil policy.

The history is excptionally clear in this case on their being only the one justification, because Bush said, over and over, that if Saddam disarmed from his WMD, then war would be averted. *This rules out any other reason for war as justification in Bush's policy*.

Look, if we went to war with Mexico tomorrow, Bush would say things - this will help with the illegal immigration issue, it'll help us deal with the drug issue in Mexico, it'll help with the economy for the Mexican people - and more we haven't thought of. Benefits - not justifiications.

Just because Bush said many things, about the benefits of spreading democracy, about removing a future threatening dictator, about how Saddam was a bad guy who had gassed his own people - does not make those statements justification for war.

The fact that Bush said we WOULD NOT go to war, if WMD were removed, PROVES they were not sufficient.

You can't have Bush say one moment that if WMD are removed, then we WILL NOT go to war, and that war is our LAST RESORT because of the threat of the WMD specifically - and then have our being wrong on WMD be unimportant because they were just one of three justifications.

Now, as I said, there were other reasons. But while you may be ready to accept 'war with the real reasons unstated' and turn a blind eye to the given reason being false, I think that's an unwise policy in a democracy.

*Accountability*. That's what I want.

And you are fighting against accountability, passionately.

"I never accused Kerry of being involved in murdering Senators. You are distorting what I said."

No, you are distorting what I said, when you say I'm distorting what you said.

I never said you said that.

"You asked for examples of Kerry lying. I proved 5, most of which you still have not addressed. Both witnesses, VVAW records, and FBI records attest to his presence (and his being with Al Hubbard) long after he said he had both quit the org and last seen Hubbard."

I don't express an opinion, generally, when I don't have the info needed to form one.

I didn't say whether I agree or disagree with your Kerry accusations, I said I don't have some info.

I can say from what I see in them on the surface that you appear to be leaping to some conclusions where the evidence appears thin, and that you are sometimes exaggerating or sensationalizing the facts, always at Kerry's expense.

Don't switch my lack of response to something it's not.

However, just the things you did post have real holes in them which you ignore, even when I pointed them out. I'm seeing you interested only in things which are on one side, and not showing concern when some of the claims fall apart.

Having said that, there are other questions you raised which are at least somewhat supported.

From what I'm seeing, I can see reasonable evidence suggesting that Kerry covered up an embarrassing connection; nothing more substantively harmful than that regarding Kerry's activities with the vvaw, similar to Bush covering up his DUI arrest(s) (which are actually more substantive - they're something very wrong that HE did as opposed to something embarrassing that someone else did) and his earlier drug use, or Clinton covering up his affairs. It's wrong, but not the exaggerated wrongs you claimed.

Now, let's compare if to 'your side' for a moment and see how consistent you are.

Ann Coulter's comments about poisoning supreme court justices go far beyond the Kerry allegation.

While Kerry was present with others who made reckless comments, these are things she said.

She has also spoken praising the idea of blowing up the NY Times and the State Department.

Her comments were not a plot, but they weren't innocent, either; they were a sort of hate speech.

The right has rarely - not at all that I recall - shunned her for her reckless comments.

I shouldn't even need to get into the history of lying by the key members of the Bush administration, including one last week when Rumsfeld denied ever saying they knew precisely where the WMD were - something he of course had said in one of the most (in-)famous war quotes.

Now, let's look at the bigger issue for a minute.

An important issue is two million human beings killed in Viet Nam for questionable reasons.

I've yet to ever see the right wing ever express any concern about them. They always fall into some sort of automatic assumption that the war was justified and the killed people were either the enemy or necessary collateral casualties.

I find that highly immoral. The right tends to get locked into some 'moral' justification - must protect mankind from worldwide domination by communists - and then justify all kinds of evil, being blind to it.

For example, we know there were interests who wanted to make a lot of money on the war; we know there were powerful interests pushing Kennedy and Johnson hard for the war. We know that Johnson - from his 1964 phone calls - felt enormous right-wing pressure on him to go to war.

(He succumbed to the pressure).

"I am trying to get you to admit that what he did was wrong, by his own admission and you refuse to admit that. Is it any wonder I am confused about your sense of morality?"

It appears likely to me that Kerry lied to hide an embarrassing connection to the radical element of VVAW - and I think that was wrong. This does not justify your making accusations about my morality when I'm not yet commenting on an issue because I lack the facts I feel I need to reach an opinion.

Having looked into it a bit more, I think the proposal about assassinating the Senators was serious. This is both after finding a comment by the man who proposed it, Camil, and considering the times; it was a time of violence, with the assassinations of Roberty Kennedy and Martin Luther King, of G. Gordon Liddy offering to Nixon to kill a reporter.

As Camil said: "I felt that I spent two years killing women and children in their own f****** homes. These are the guys that f****** made the policy, and these were the guys that were responsible for it, and these were the guys that were voting to continue the f****** war when the public was against it. I felt that if we really believed in what we were doing, and if we were willing to put our lives on the line for the country over there, we should be willing to put our lives on the line for the country over here."

The idea was voted down; Kerry resigned over some combination of that, and finding that one of the leaders had falsified his military history, which Kerry angirly confronted him on. Again, something where Kerry did the right thing.

Now, can you show me one right-wing source who gives Senator Kerry praise for his lonely dedication in exposing the Iran-Contra scandal - another example where he showed the courage to pursue the truth?

Nothing republicans do changes the wrong Kerry does - but the right sure tends to ignore its own wrongs when discussing the issues, and to tell lies bigger than Kerry's, and far more numerous, even when discussing his.

"Yet you persist in making excuses for him, and Kerry. Why is that? Is everyone on the face of the earth lying EXCEPT for Kerry (the one person whose account doesn't agree with everyone else's)?"

You misrepresent my pointing out when either you have gone further than the evidence supports, or my simply saying I don't have the information to reach a conclusion, with 'making excuses'. That's another inaccuracy on your part.

Another inaccuracy: your speaking of Kerry disagreeing in the present tense. He's admitted the mistake; his explanation is mixing up a St. Louis and the Kansas City meeting. Likely false; on the other hand it was 30 years before. However, he's admitted the error now.

Having said all that about Kerry's probable lie, putting it in perspective, you and the right have a far worse record (you in this thread, the right in general) of everything from being consistent in holding your own side accountable, to exaggeration against the democrats, to reasonable priorities.

The important issues are the war, and its conduct.

And yet you care more, it seems, about whether Kerry, having left the group, also told a lie to make it look like he had cut his ties earlier - not to hide his secret support of violence, but to avoid the embarrassing connection he'd resigned over.

In all the innuendo from the right about the 'plot to kill Senators', where is the right's honestly quoting the FBI report the FBI under Hoover and Nixon who saw Kerry and VVAW as a huge political threat?

"The FBI closely tracked the activities of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and Kerry's participation in the organization from 1971 until mid-1972, when officials recommended terminating the surveillance because Kerry was running for the House and agents concluded "there is nothing to associate him with any violence or any violent-prone group or organization."..."

Now, I've indicated the one allegation I looked into indicates a likely Kerry lie, though the possibility of his confusing two Missouri meetings at which there was arguing over 30 years ago is hardly impossible.

(As Wikipedia notes, even one of the people who identified Kerry at the Kansas City meeting confused the sequence of the two meetings, and might have mistake which meeting Kerry was at; and Camil does not remember Kerry being there:

"Years later, Kerry claimed he did remember the meeting in St. Louis, where acrimonious discussions had contributed to his decision to resign from VVAW. He said, however, that he did not recall attending the Kansas City meeting, and thought that he had already resigned by then. Some people who were at the Kansas City meeting claim that he was not there. Historian Gerald Nicosia, recounting the history of the antiwar movement in his book Home to War, stated that Kerry said he had resigned from VVAW at the St. Louis meeting.

In 2004, however, Nicosia said that new FBI documents included a report from an unnamed confidential source. The source recounted Kerry’s resignation at a VVAW meeting, but placed the event at the meeting in Kansas City rather than at the one in St. Louis. In response, Kerry’s office reiterated Kerry's claim that he did not remember being at the later meeting, but added, "If there are valid FBI surveillance reports from credible sources that place some of those disagreements in Kansas City, we accept that historical footnote in the account of his work to end the difficult and divisive war."

VVAW member Randy Barnes was also quoted in the media as having seen Kerry at the Kansas City meeting. Thereafter, however, he said that he had thought that Kansas City was first but now realized that St. Louis was first. He concluded that he might have been confusing the two Missouri meetings.")

Now, can you begin to admit some of the mountains of lies from your own side?

Posted by: Craig at May 10, 2006 03:02 AM

I read through parts of your screed and have this to say about Kerry in a nutshell: This was a man who testified to atrocities that he allegedly witnessed, but walked away and did nothing. Where were his principles then? He reported to no one but made sure he got cited for a grain of rice in the butt.

He comes home and working with Hanoi, undermines the war effort as their front man. That in and of itself should be grounds for charging him with treason. There is blood on his hands in both instances.

The third is the monstrosity of his shredding documents that proved the existence of POWs in Vietnam. He abandoned them. In my mind, that is not only the numerical equivalent of what happened on 9-11, but that puts him on a par with OBL.
He sold out his fellow veterans and countrymen.

He in unprincipled and this is not the man I would want to cover my back, as he would be looking for the spot to stick the knife.

Interesting that you mention Mi Lai. The hero who stopped the slaughter was a member in uniform, who put his helicopter between his own people and the villagers who had survived, and he was able to get them to safety. Kerry never put it on the line like that for anyone except himself.

I do not like nor trust this man. You do, that is your choice.

Posted by: Cricket at May 11, 2006 01:32 PM

Cricket, do you care about the truth, or are you merely interested in posting lies about Kerry?

"This was a man who testified to atrocities that he allegedly witnessed, but walked away and did nothing. Where were his principles then?"

Kerry said he saw *no* atrocities personally of the horrifying sort which others testified to.

The kind Kerry said he saw were policy, specifically the zones where anything which moved was shot, which violated the Geneva convention requirements to distinguish between civilians and military personally; and the destruction of housing.

So, you are misrepresenting what he saw personally.

"He reported to no one"

In fact, he said that there was significant protest to superiors, with some refusing to fight.

He also said that his decision to accept the option to leave was because he could more effectively oppose the war from the outside - which was proven true, as he did enough for the President to be aware of him personally as 'effective' and a major threat to his politics.

"but made sure he got cited for a grain of rice in the butt."

I find mocking his war wounds to be in very poor tast and disgraceful on your part.

If shrapnel explodes near him and just scratches him - if - it could have hit him worse.

"He comes home and working with Hanoi, undermines the war effort as their front man."

The person who undermined the war was the person who did the wrongs: Nixon. Kerry told the truth, exposed the truth. He pursued his own views, he pursued the truth, he pursued the values of America, he helped the other veterans be able to be heard. That's leadership.

When Lincoln opposed the Mexican-American war, when Grant said it was perhaps the most unjust war ever by a powerful nation against a weaker, were they 'undermining the war' to serve the Mexicans, were they traitors, or were they opposing wrongdoing by their nation - required of patriots?

"That in and of itself should be grounds for charging him with treason. There is blood on his hands in both instances."

See above, and go charge Lincoln and Grant, too.

"He in unprincipled"

The facts suggest the opposite, that he was very principled, and this his opponents are not.

"and this is not the man I would want to cover my back, as he would be looking for the spot to stick the knife."

The men who served under him say the opposite, including his pulling one to safety in combat.

Of course, George Bush had avoided the need to be in that position.

"Interesting that you mention Mi Lai. The hero who stopped the slaughter was a member in uniform, who put his helicopter between his own people and the villagers who had survived, and he was able to get them to safety. Kerry never put it on the line like that for anyone except himself."

Kerry wasn't there. The hero who stopped the slaughter did good; Kerry did good, both in exposing the truth about what was going on and helping to end the war sooner so that the casualties would be lowered, and when he did things which earned him his medals.

"I do not like nor trust this man. You do, that is your choice."

I suggest you have the facts wrong you base your view on, that you are propagandized.

That is your right, but it's a poor choice.

Kerry has done little but be a great American; following this anti-Viet Nam leadership, for example, he was instrumental in the Senate in exposing the Reagan administration's ignoring the rule of law in Iran-Contra, at a big political risk to himself.

You seem to want a right-wing, anti-democratic tyrant to rule you; that's weak and evil.

I prefer someone who respects morality, who respects democracy; that's Kerry, not your side.

Posted by: Craig at May 11, 2006 02:20 PM

Yes, how are things in Ho Chi Minh City?
Look, I never said I agreed with Bush In All Things.
Ferinstance, his stand on immigration is anything BUT undemocratic. I disagree with guest workers who pay little or nothing into the system that they exploit. I disagree with letting undocumented people in this country who have criminal records in their own country.

But Kerry's lies have been proven for what they are: Lies. You call the swifties liars, when these are the people who served with him and at the same time in the same country he did and had nothing to lose by coming forward...nothing but the slander they have had at the left.

Kerry said this, Kerry said that. Release the 100 or so documents and put it to rest. Is that too much to ask?

Posted by: Cricket at May 11, 2006 02:38 PM

Cricket, I hate to say it, but Craig was never listening to any of this.

He brushes aside anything he does not want to hear - according to him, literally hundreds of honorable active duty and retired military, CIA, and other government personnel are lying about Kerry.

Only Kerry is telling the truth, despite all the times it has been shown that...err...he wasn't. But no matter.

Anyone who can defend a man who, while taking a DOD paycheck, went to Paris to conduct unauthorized "peace talks" with a government that was torturing our POWs is not someone who will be convinced by anything you say.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 11, 2006 02:50 PM

"Yes, how are things in Ho Chi Minh City?"

What irrational tripe instead of an argument.

Things are actually pretty good in Viet Nam today compared to when they were colonized or at war.

How did that whole 'the war is justified because our own liberty will be lost if they fall' go?

It's not easy to admit when your country does wrong; ask the Germans who have pretty well at it with pain, or the Japanese who still keep the truth about their war crimes out of text books.

The Viet Nam war was fought because of our internal, evil war mongers for a variety of reasons, because of our own political weaknesses where Johnson had a hard time standing up to the right, triggered by the North Vietnamese firing on a US ship *escorting terrorists we'd trained in their waters* in the one case, and an attack that never happened in the other. Billions of dollars, millions of Vietnamese people killed, napalm, more bombs than in WWII. It's not easy to admit your country does wrong. You are not strong enough to do so.

"But Kerry's lies have been proven for what they are: Lies."

You say that, and have failed to prove it in the areas discussed, with one likely lie far more minor than the ones you STILL are evading from your own side. You are not being honest as you evade any responsiblity for your side's lies.

"You call the swifties liars, when these are the people who served with him and at the same time in the same country he did and had nothing to lose by coming forward...nothing but the slander they have had at the left."

I think you mean nothing to gain - and of course they did, he's their political enemy.

You think they like facing the truth any more than you do about their part in the war being anything but what they'd liketo believe, that it was an important noble cause? He threatens that, and for telling the truth, they hate him.

Their lies have been proven. One great example was when Nightline went to the battleground where Kerry won an award to resolve what happened. They found peasents who lived there, who had not been spoken to about it since the war, who were eyewitnesses. These were poor famrers who did not come across as political at all. They told a compelling story that *completely* agreed with Kerry's version and disagreed with the swift boat's version. Then Koppel intereviewed John O'Neill and he simply would not accept the truth though he could not prove anything.

"Kerry said this, Kerry said that. Release the 100 or so documents and put it to rest. Is that too much to ask?"

I'm not going to waste time on your claim here now - the alleged 100 pages would not prove anything on most of the lies you are telling about Kerry. See the example immediately above for how you simply ignore the facts. Why repeat the same and have you ignore more?

"Cricket, I hate to say it, but Craig was never listening to any of this."

You're lying. I listened, and responded; I even agreed with the little bit that was correct.

"He brushes aside anything he does not want to hear - according to him, literally hundreds of honorable active duty and retired military, CIA, and other government personnel are lying about Kerry."

You're lying again. That's not what I've said, and I don't 'brush aside' any truth; you do.

"Anyone who can defend a man who, while taking a DOD paycheck, went to Paris to conduct unauthorized "peace talks" with a government that was torturing our POWs is not someone who will be convinced by anything you say."

He could hardly conduct 'peace talks' when he was in no position to order peace.

His efforts were to END the PoW torture.

Now, let's see who 'brushes aside' the hard truths - as you will:

The person responsible for unauthorized, irresponsible negotations was Nixon in 1968. As a candidate in a close election, with President Johnson realizing the futility of the war, not running for re-election so he could concentrate on trying to negotiate peace, you had Nixon knowing that success in the peace talks would threaten his chances in the election - and you had him using an agent to sabotage the talks by telling the South Vietnamese not to agree, and that he'd get them a much better agreement.

The Johnson administration was making great progress, and shocked by the inexplicable refusal by the South Vietnamese government to agree to the peace terms they'd negotiated.

What Nixon did was traitorous, causing many causalties as the war went on years too long.

And I have the answer to the question whether you will be consistent and honest, and take any responsibility for the mountain of lies on your side, including the examples I mentioned such as Rumsfeld's denying he said he knew where the WMD were - you will not. You are not honest.

Posted by: Craig at May 11, 2006 03:19 PM

His efforts did not end POW torture...it added to it, especially the Winter Soldier garbage. Peace talks as unauthorized by the president is treason.
Since he was in no position to make any promises or concessions, then why go?

He had no authority to do what he did and made it worse for those who were still suffering. If in fact his efforts were to end the toture, then why
consign the evidence of 2400+ POWs to the shredding
machine years later?

Johnson was the one who lied about not sending American boys to VietNam. Not only that, he micromanaged the war to the point of telling the UN security council what the objectives were...how stupid is that?

Posted by: Cricket at May 11, 2006 05:27 PM

Cricket, don't feed him anymore.

All you need to know is in this bit:

"Johnson had a hard time standing up to the right..."

Translation: everything is the fault of the Right. Give me a break.

In my house there are quite a few gifts given my father in law, who served TWO TOURS (and he served his entire tour both times, not just 1/3 of it) as a Naval officer in Vietnam. They were given him by South Vietnamese who were fighting for their lives against communist aggressors. But the only thing you know about the war is what you read.

There were lots of Vietnamese at the Kerry Lied rally in DC too, but you wouldn't want to hear about that either. They came to say thank you to the men who tried to defend them. Evil is what was done to men like Jeremiah Denton. But you don't want to hear about that. It might disturb your precious preconceived notions.

I'm done with you. You can take your hands off your ears now, Craig.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 11, 2006 05:38 PM

Things are lovely in Ho Chi Minh City.

When I vacation there, I like to visit the Kerry exhibit at the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum. It is quite moving.


Posted by: Pile On® at May 11, 2006 06:27 PM

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