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I think We Were Supposed To Learn This In 4th Grade

| 88 Comments

It's Rag-On-Atrios Day weekend here at WoC, with a freebie for Al Gore - the man I blame entirely for the Bush presidency. I now can look forward to blaming Duncan Black for the election of the next GOP President in late 2008.

Here's Atrios:
One of my favorite parts of Gore's speech was when he called out all the cowardly whiny ass titty babies hiding under their cheetoes packages:
Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

The actual speech was a wee different than the prepared remarks which is what I'm quoting, but you get the idea [ he didn't actually say the two world wars simultaneously part, which unless I'm confused makes no sense]

[emphasis added by me - A.L.]

Just for the record...Corwallis' surrender at Yorktown - Oct. 19, 1781. Passage of the Bill of Rights - Dec. 15, 1791. A lot happened in that decade...

Duncan Black has a doctorate?

Just for fun, let's see if the error is in Dr. Duncan's gloss of Gore's speech, or the speech itself (the link above takes you to the text)....yup, it's Gore.

Dude, don't you have professional speechwriters to handle that kind of thing? And Duncan ... nice demo of the depth and breadth of your knowledge of history - makes me even more confident in flatly dismissing your grasp of current events.

88 Comments

Yes Gore is an idiot. Even I knew casually when I read Gore's speech that the Articles of Confederation were in effect 1781-1788 for the last year of the actual fighting 1781, and the remaining two years of negotiations and final settlement (1783 marked the final treaty).

The Constitution was not in force until 1788, and the Bill of Rights not until 1791 as you point out.

Al Gore (and Atrios) are also idiots in saying in effect "we'll protect the civil liberties of terrorists to the last person they kill."

And don't forget, "terrorism is not real." They hate and fear GWB more than bin Laden. Which says something.

Someone needs to read up on the Alien and Sedition Act. If anything was unconstitutional, it was that. And fascinatingly enough, it was enacted by said founders.

And let's not forget the wee bit 'o difference between the missles of 1781 (hell, let's give them 1791) and the missles of 2006.

And I am NOT saying that the foundation documents of our country are any less sound today. What I am saying is the threats we face (willingly or knowingly or not) are no less grave.

This idea that we're somehow less capable or brave than our ancestors strikes me as at best reactionary, at worst stupid.

Al Gore:

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated.

Executive Branch interrogators? Is that a Military Occupation Specialty, or a civil service job?

Is this guy still relevant?

"[Gore], the man I blame entirely for the Bush presidency

Come now. You know this is a ludicrous notion. That's not how accountability works.

Another thought:

the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791 was not the moment at which the Bill of Rights was created; indeed, throughout the period of conflict, the Founders were contemplating simultaneously the creation of a free society and undertaking the decades-long discourse which culminated with the ratification of the Constitution.

Your reactionary nitpicking has little merit, and it's clear that your goal is reactionary discrediting, not substantive debate.

um, I don't have a great knowledge of American history, but I do know the British tried to retake the country in 1812. Presumably they were plotting before that. It's not a stretch to say the entire country was at risk, not only during the Revolutionary War, but for many years after, during the time when the Constitution and Bill of Rights was written.

"um, I don't have a great knowledge of American history, but I do know the British tried to retake the country in 1812. Presumably they were plotting before that. It's not a stretch to say the entire country was at risk, not only during the Revolutionary War, but for many years after, during the time when the Constitution and Bill of Rights was written."

A few minutes of Wikipedia could clear this up:

Revolutionary War (yes, the FOUNDERS) 1775-1781; the States are SOVERIEGN. Heck they had their own currencies, navies, militias, etc. The Continental Army was largely disbanded after Yorktown (the one "national" institution). Articles of Confederation with States continuing to be sovereign until 1788 and adoption of the Constitution.

THE CONSTITUTION did not exist during the Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812, when the British burned Washington, the founders were mostly dead. James Madison, the President, was not a founder.

If fact, Madison who had ridiculed the Hamiltonian arguments for a strong executive defined by "energy" and preparing for the worst, such as strong Navy, a standing Army, central bank, etc. ended up EMBRACING all the arguments, for well, NATIONAL SURVIVAL.

It was also Madison who btw finally settled the Barbary Pirates by summarily hanging a lot of them, and reducing Tangiers and other Islamic Pirate spots to rubble through that strong Navy and unilateral action.

Lincoln specifically argued (and here Gore slights him) that in times of national crisis the Constitution ITSELF held the means to suspend measures such as habeaus corpus in order to preserve the nation. Among other things Lincoln held without charges or trial Congressman Vallindingham, a Copperhead Democrat who was going around Kentucky and Indiana urging people not to join the Union Army and otherwise prosletyzing for the Confederacy. Lincoln also shuttered pro-Confederate newspapers and summarily hung Confederate Spies by the HUNDREDS.

The BALANCE of the Federalist Papers (written by the Founders themselves) argues for Executive action and unity in fighting foreign and domestic threats, and that fear of domestic tyranny and Caesarism could not allow the Executive to be paralyzed into inaction.

The experience of a Weak State with the Articles of Confederation, where America existed with no real means of defense other than the grace of Britain and France profoundly affected the Founders. I would imagine Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, and even Jefferson would argue that Bush is generally doing the right thing to act first to defend the nation by asserting Executive Power.

The US declared war on the British in 1812. Only after Waterloo in 1815 did the British seriously contemplate actual reconquest. The coastal raids such as burning Washington DC were temporary punitive measures. In fact, the US invaded Canada several times in 1812-1814, with a notable lack of success that most Canadians will gratuitously remind most Americans about today. But after the naval victory by the Americans at Plattsburg, Parliament concluded that England was exhausted and negotiated with the US a magnanimous peace treaty.

Theo Roosevelt's thesis in the "Naval War of 1812" was that between the battle of Yorktown and the peace treaty in 1815, the biggest enemy of the US was itself.

Is it possible to be reactionary in nitpicking for the truth?

"the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791 was not the moment at which the Bill of Rights was created; indeed, throughout the period of conflict, the Founders were contemplating simultaneously the creation of a free society and undertaking the decades-long discourse which culminated with the ratification of the Constitution."

The good news is when Congress passes a revision to FISA in the next couple years, we can all happily make the argument that:
"throughout the perior of conflict, the Republicans were contemplating simultaneously the protection of a free society while still allowing the no-brainer of listening in on phone calls by overseas terrorists"
and via Oz's precident, this 'pre-post facto' law making will legitimize everything the Bush administration has done, if its for some reason necessary to legitimize it.

...with a freebie for Al Gore - the man I blame entirely for the Bush presidency.

Oh, for f^&k's sake, AL: you voted for Bush in '04. I admit you might have been going for sarcasm here, but it's very poorly done, since, by any reasonable standard, you gave up any and all grounds to blame anybody else for Bush being in office when you pulled the lever in his favor.

And, yes, it looks like Gore was way, way off with that particular historical point. But the broader point he was making in the speech - the bit Atrios was quoting about us facing dire threats in the past and yet not giving up our civil liberites, by and large (yeah, I know about Lincoln, k thanks) - is quite valid and one of the most important arguments liberals currently have to make.

And yet you manage to completely ignore that point on the one hand, and on the other, complain how Atrios et al aren't part of this precious "debate" you keep wanting to have.

Weak tea, man. Very weak tea.

Poling writes:

"This idea that we're somehow less capable or brave than our ancestors...."

Man you guys are pathetic. The idea is that we are in fact fully as capable and brave as our ancestors, and thus do not need, and will not support the erosion of our liberties by this proto-tyrant in the WH.

But dont let me interrupt your research on the founding decades. By all means....it is clear y'all dont have much of anything to say about our current situation.

Chris (#13),

I know it's hard to believe, but there was this election in 2000... rumor has it some Democrats still remember it. I'm told some guy named Gore was involved, but he was kind of a nonentity and didn't make much of an impression. Perhaps that's the guy Marc was referring to.

I suppose the fact that A.L. voted for Bush in 2004 (unlike his vote for what's-his-name in 2000) means only that the French-looking Senator (hey, did you know that he served in Vietnam?) is the second person to blame for the Bush Presidency. As the vote totals show, A.L. was not exactly alone in having to make a choice he found unappetizing. And if you know that he voted for Bush in 2004, then you read the piece that explained this.

Meanwhile, Observer (#14) perhaps you've also heard of other parts of American history. Ancestors by the name of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR? If those names ring a bell anywhere, you might want to check out the measures that they employed in past situations and compare.

I know, I know, that pesky research we do. Wouldn't want to interrupt your... er, whatever it is you do instead.

Or, you could just break free! Live in the land where the Bill of Rights was written in 1779 or something. Who needs facts when you have the Divine Left-Lib Post Modernist Church on your side? It's all a matter of preferred narrative, and justification is by faith alone. Get thee behind me, BushDespotHitlerTheocrat!

And the lemmings continue their march as they support all efforts to fight terrorism - other than any actually proposed, which they are then against. It gets funny after a while. Meanwhile, the idea of tapping the phones of people with ties to al-Qaeda sits rather well with folks outside the party's fever swamps, who want to be told how their security will be assured with respect to people with al-Qaeda connections in the USA. Oddly, calling them cowards isn't a great vote-getting strategy. Which, come to think of it, was also the lib-left response to growing citizen concerns about rising crime rates in the 1960s and 1970s.

But then, the lib-left approach to terrorism is pretty much a scaled-up version of their failed approach to crime, anyway.

Joe,

The Drug War is Republican Socialism. Price supports for criminals. The Democrats are not the only cause of problems in the USA.

OTOH I voted Bush in '04 with open eyes and pinched nose.

"But the broader point he was making in the speech - the bit Atrios was quoting about us facing dire threats in the past and yet not giving up our civil liberites, by and large (yeah, I know about Lincoln, k thanks)"

And FDR. The Alien and Sedition Acts. The Whiskey Rebellion. Kent State. Is this argument some sort of companion to the "Fake but accurate in a broader sense" reporting? Wrong in the facts but true in a "bigger sense"? Hmm. I'm no master of logic but i do think there is a word for an argument that isnt supported factually but is still claimed to be true because the the arguement itself is far more important than its mere supporting evidence. That word is 'bulls$%t'. And Al Gore seems to indeed be a master of it.

I think Gore's right. The Founding Fathers of your country agreed to enact the Bill of Rights when the United States were a febble bunch of no-longer-dependant colonies, now that you are a hyperpower it seems Civil Rights have to be limited.

It would be Al Qaeda's greatest victory.

How is it that the Left can simultaneously decry "McCarthyism" and talk about the wonderful protection of civil liberties during the Cold War?

Internment camps. Arrest of war opponents. Spying on MLK and others like him. Hell, the fricking DRAFT.

We're doing better today than ever before by any reasonable standard. That's not to say that we can't do better, but I'd love to see Gore or his defenders cite any time in history when we've done better.

I'm not sure if you haven't read the speech, or are just blowing off steam, but all of these points; Lincoln, Palmer raids, internment, COINTELPRO and spying on MLK, the threat of terror, and the need for the executive to act with agility, were discussed.

Gore basically asserted that the extinction of the United States and the failure of the Revolutionary enterprise were real possibilities at the time when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. It seems to me a perfectly sensible, even obvious, thing to say, I'm not sure why you are disagreeing with him.

Joe, just to make things absolutely clear, there's nothing wrong with monitoring the nation's switches for certain words, whatever. (equivalent to metal detectors, I guess). Once you have a match, FISA allows you to go 72 hours without a warrant. You can do a preliminary investigation, decide if there's anything there, and then you should get the damn warrant. There's no reason not to, if you have nothing to hide, and are only investigating Al Qaeda members.

A final point: the Bush administration has put a lot of time and energy into this monitoring program. But because there exist very simple secure encryption technologies, we know that the only reason these monitoring technologies work, to the extent they do work, is that because sometimes terrorists are idiots.

On the other hand, limiting access the supply of nuclear fissile material seems to me very promising and important, and would be hard for terrorists to circumvent. See Graham Allison's book, "Nuclear Terrorism: the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe". But the Bush administration seems enamored, and seems to spend most of its time and energy, on these exotic programs like warrantless monitoring and "coercive interrogations", rather than focusing on simple things.

I'll leave the last word to Al Gore:

"The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the other branches can't check an abuse of power if they don't know it is happening. . .

"Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has."

The worst civil rights violation in the WOT has been the labelling of a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant" in order to deprive him of his Constitutional rights. (Hamdi)

On the flip-side, the SCOTUS has for the first time extended some civil rights to foreign nationals captured in combat.

The most over-hyped violation has been the wiretapping, which is more procedural in nature than substantive and as Mark points out (#12) will be authorized after the fact.

Gore basically asserted that the extinction of the United States and the failure of the Revolutionary enterprise were real possibilities at the time when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. It seems to me a perfectly sensible, even obvious, thing to say, I'm not sure why you are disagreeing with him.

Fine, I'll concede that it's obvious. But I don't see why it's relevant. The threat to the US was from the British military; the BoR does nothing that I can see to diminish the effectiveness of the US from that perspective. And the Alien and Sedition Acts (as well as all of the other things you list) seem to me much harsher than anything Bush has done.

I also don't understand why Hamdi is so often cited as some sort of horrible abuse. He was caught on the battlefield--he should either renounce his citizenship and be an enemy combatant or promptly hang for treason. I'd have hanged him long ago.

Padilla was a much better example of an abuse, given that he was caught on US soil, not obviously engaged in terrorism.

I'm reminded of John Kerry's central foreign policy speach in which he boasted that he wanted "to be a war leader like Truman".

Only someone with no knowledge of history would make that boast.

My response to Kerry was, "Don't worry. You already are, and that's what scares me."

The feeble attempts to defend Gore's obviously inaccurate retelling of history are more amusing than anything else. On the other hand, so long as the majority of pundits (left and right) insist on defending everything everyone in thier party says regardless of how dumb it is, no one is ever going to be able to talk to anyone.

I was originally going to post a defense of Gore much in the vein of roublen. There is a view of Constitutional history that sees the time period after the War as particularly dark and troubled. The colonists had been dependent on the British military to keep them safe from Indians and from the French and Spanish. Now they were on their own, against any number of hostile powers, including the British. Thus the Constitution was passed (with the promise of a Bill of Rights later) as a means to centralize economic, diplomatic and military power in a national body.

But Gore clearly is confusing three different time frames.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations.

Secrecy is not a bug in this Presidency, it is an intended feature of the executive. The reason we have a single executive, when many of the Founders wanted an executive committee or co-counsels, was for secrecy. Hamilton in Federalist Paper 70 argued that "[d]ecision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be diminished." Secrecy was deemed to be a good quality.

I also don't understand why Hamdi is so often cited as some sort of horrible abuse.

Hamdi should have been tried for treason and executed if found guilty. That was his right.

"Secrecy was deemed to be a good quality."

PD, secrecy by itself is easy. The trick in a democracy is to combine secrecy, when necessary, with accountability and liberty, preventing incompetence and abuse of power on the part of the secret-keepers.

rob, another excerpt:

"There have of course been other periods of American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents.

When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."

Roublen,

So now I'm totally confused. Gore acknowledges the abuses of the past, which were worse than the abuses of today, and then says of our noble non-fearful forefathers, "...they faithfully protected our freedoms..." during the time periods which correspond to all the abuses he himself mentions.

That seems to be flat-out self contradiction.

"Once you have a match, FISA allows you to go 72 hours without a warrant. You can do a preliminary investigation, decide if there's anything there, and then you should get the damn warrant. "

And what if you have 5000 matches? Every day? Because you are monitoring the communications of hundreds or thousands of AQ members or suspects overseas who are talking to people in the US? The point is this is not law enforcement. When the FBI is wiretapping the Gambino family, it can afford to get wiretaps for everyone. Worst case some poor guy gets bumped off or a truck full of cigarettes get stolen. You miss out on Al Zawahiri talking to a Saudi agent in Baltimore and maybe a truck bomb takes out the Capitol Building. This is war. We are eavesdropping on the enemy. If the president, the NSA, and the justice dept say FISA is too restrictive for how their best intelligence gathering works in this day and age, so be it. How often was the Bush administration lambasted for not 'connecting the dots' pre-911? Well guess what, this is the most sophisticated way to connect the dots. FDR chucked an entire nationality into concentration camps to prevent just this sort of collaberation. Compared to that, this is a smart bomb on a single building compared to fire-bombing an entire city. Oh, I forgot, we get criticized for doing that too- even when we kill half a dozen AQ members.

I know it's hard to believe, but there was this election in 2000... rumor has it some Democrats still remember it. I'm told some guy named Gore was involved, but he was kind of a nonentity and didn't make much of an impression. Perhaps that's the guy Marc was referring to.

Joe, wow, really? Thank God you brainy conservative hawks are around to explain history from six years ago, else my empty little liberal head could never understand it all!

I suppose the fact that A.L. voted for Bush in 2004 (unlike his vote for what's-his-name in 2000) means only that the French-looking Senator (hey, did you know that he served in Vietnam?) is the second person to blame for the Bush Presidency. As the vote totals show, A.L. was not exactly alone in having to make a choice he found unappetizing. And if you know that he voted for Bush in 2004, then you read the piece that explained this.

You suppose wrong. Reelections are inevitably far more about the incumbant than the challenger - the former has a four-year track record to be judged on, the latter is much more of an unknown quantity. AL can howl at the moon all he likes about Kerry's "unlikability" (He questioned opening firehouses in Iraq! The monster!) but there's no denying that a vote for Bush in '04 was an open invitation for more of the same until '08, and a retroactive endorsement of all that came before. If AL disliked Kerry that much, he could have voted for a third party candidate, or not voted at all, but he didn't - not only did he vote for Bush, he stood up here and publically declared that Bush should remain in office. His moral standing to blame anybody else for Bush being in office is now nil.

And I'll let roublen's defense speak for me as far as the rest goes.

Rob Lyman: Gore acknowledges the abuses of the past, which were worse than the abuses of today, and then says of our noble non-fearful forefathers, "...they faithfully protected our freedoms..." during the time periods which correspond to all the abuses he himself mentions.

I don't get it, either. Woodrow Wilson - one of the nastiest prune-faced sonsabitches to ever get his pie-hooks on the levers of executive authority - sent Eugene Debs to prison for 10 years for making an anti-war speech, and revoked his citizenship, too, even though Debs was born in the US. It wasn't the founding fathers who saved Debs, it was Warren G. Harding, who pardoned him just because he felt sorry for him.

The wire-taps during the MLK period took place with the complicity of Bobby Kennedy's Justice Department. Among other quasi-legal activities, Kennedy "deported" gangster Carlos Marcello to Colombia, even though Marcello was born in the US.

Journalists like the famous Ben Bradlee looked the other way while all of this was going on, and the only thing that stopped it was the death of JFK. Bobby went on to become a liberal mega-hero for turning against a war that he helped to start.

There's no need to go into Japanese internment, but in all of these cases it's ridiculous to say that the system re-asserted itself. The system picked itself up out of the dirt after a Democratic president (or a president's insane attorney general) took his foot off its neck.

You might say that the system did assert itself in the case of Nixon, who was forced to resign. But Nixon didn't have the entire establishment media running interference for him. They were the ones who got him, not the founding fathers.

abuse of power on the part of the secret-keepers

Keeping secrets isn't the problem. The U.S. government, via the federal income tax, has more personal information on anyone than it can ever hope to get from wiretapping phone lines. Most people don't call for the abolition of the federal income tax because it compels the disclosure of private matters.

Information obtained from surveilance of foreign calls only becomes potentially abusive when it is used (a) to put someone in jail, (b) to discredit or harass political opponents, or ( c) to bribe someone. If the information stays secret, the secrets are not abused.

The Clinton administration wiretaped an American citizen residing in Kenya (El-Hage) and then used that information to charge him with various crimes of terrorism. The use of this information is more troubling than its acquisition (although apparantly lawful).

If the president, the NSA, and the justice dept say FISA is too restrictive for how their best intelligence gathering works in this day and age, so be it.

We have a process for just such a circumstance. It's a time honored process that is at the core of our constitution and system of government.

And no, it doesn't involve saying "f@ck it, do it anyway".

(Despite what those haters of the Boland Ammendment managed to delude themselves in believing)

And AL, I seriously think it's time you updated your moniker to "Armed Political Agnostic" and just drop the idiotic charade.

You might say that the system did assert itself in the case of Nixon, who was forced to resign. But Nixon didn't have the entire establishment media running interference for him. They were the ones who got him, not the founding fathers.

ROTFLMAO!

Jeff Goldstein over at Protein Wisdom made several observations worth noting, the following being one that caught my eye...

"...in their zeal to win debating points, arguing—as did Tom Daschle, in one of the biggest political blunders I can remember—that the Congress never granted the President the military authority, under AUMF, to protect the homeland (say, New York City) after 911, so “concerned” were they that acquiring interecepts of al Qaeda connected calls into and out of the country could, under some very strained and dubious readings of domestic criminal law, be construed as potentially violating the fourth amendent rights of those connected in some way (even accidentally) to al Qaeda.

In short, Daschle reminded us that Congress gave the President the authority to launch hellfire missile from drones at Taliban safehouses, but that it did not give him the authority to listen in on coversations about who might be in those safehouses, should one end of those conversations cross into the US (or, even more ludicrously, cross through US switches)."

It seems as though the Gore camp has done nothing more than political posturing. They certainly haven't let facts get in the way of a good scandal.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but wasn't Al Gore the man who:

1. Defended the Clinton Administration's right to conduct warrantless searches of housing projects to look for drugs, guns, and gang members/activity?

2. Defended Echelon and "warrantless spying" on Militia members and the Tim McVeigh types before, during, and after Oklahoma City?

3. Defended the warrantless wiretapping of Aldrich Ames and warrantless searches of his property?

4. Defended Clinton's breaking the law (perjury) on the floor of the Senate with the argument that it was a minor matter compared to the President's responsibility to carry out unhindered his executive responsibility and conviction of Clinton was unwarranted after his impeachment?

5. Imposed the "Gorelick Wall" that prevented sharing intel from NSA to the FBI, FBI knowledge of two 9/11 Hijackers in the counter-terrorism division from being shared with the law enforcement side?

GORE is attacking BUSH for fixing CLINTON'S mistake and following the 9/11 Commission. That' s the mark of true idiocy.

So Al Gore DEFENDS warrantless searches and wiretaps when Clinton does it, condemns it when Bush does it (for far greater justification, the Clinton Admin passed on Echelon intel regarding commercial rivals to big campaign contributors).

GWB needs a REAL opposition party that will keep him in check by real arguments and alternatives. Not naked and puerile partisanship that amounts to "you're evil cause you do the same things we did, except we are the good guys."

AFAIK there is no discussion in the Constitution about data mining, communications with suspected terrorists abroad being protected civil liberties, DNA testing (should it be mandatory?) surveillance cameras everywhere, GPS tracking devices in cars (proposed by Oregon Dems), and myriad other issues that impose real or theoretical sanctions on privacy to combat crime or terrorism.

There is NOTHING in the Constitution that says your civil liberties are infringed on when localities put up red light cameras or surveillance cameras. When police conduct DNA dragnets looking for rapist murderers. When Data mining is used to find terrorists or serial killers. Arguing that the founders addressed these SPECIFICS is useless, all you have is the general philosophies which on balance come down on giving the executive freedom to act but accountability to the Congress who holds the purse strings.

Meanwhile not only Iran but every other nation drifts toward nuclear weapons, and Iran believes it will act as the patron for Muslims to assert Sharia Law and independence in Western Nations. The idea that we can stop Iran or any other nation from getting nukes as is stupid and foolish as believing we can stop the Drug Trade. Ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons are 60 year old tech. Yes civil liberties can be at risk; a few Islamic nukes set off in this country and you'll get vigilantism on a scale not seen for a long time.

"It's Rag-On-Atrios Day weekend here at WoC, with a freebie for Al Gore - the man I blame entirely for the Bush presidency."

Actually, I think "Rag on AL Week" would describe it much better.

I can't recall seeing such a string of shallow, meaningless snark being broadcast under the ironic guise of a critique of Left/Democrat debating technique.

We get it: you're annoyed with Democrats and Liberals.

But after reading through many of your recent posts over the last few months, I still haven't seen a rational explanation for this and am no closer to understanding your problems.

Usually, it seems that minor issues set you off, but larger more imporant ones do not merit your attention (for example, have you thought about posting on The Fighting Dems? It would seem a subject tailor-made for the subject matter of this blog).

At any rate, I don't think this situation is sustainable. People can't live in a constant state of annoyance and backbiting snark and expect to have a stable and productive exchange of ideas.

And then, of course, there's the infidelity.

So the only conclusion I think you can come to after this little therapy session is that you should seriously consider a trial separation from the party, or maybe even a divorce.

I'm sure most self-respecting Democrats would agree that it would be in everyone's best interest.

Hey, Marc, Andy's excommunicated you.

ROFL.

roublen:

You said that "Gore basically asserted that the extinction of the United States and the failure of the Revolutionary enterprise were real possibilities at the time when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. It seems to me a perfectly sensible, even obvious, thing to say, I'm not sure why you are disagreeing with him."

It was? As I recall my history (Page Smith and John Schaar were my professors) the issues in that decade were internal, and related to whether we'd be a conferation of states or a Republic; part of the impulse for the BoR was (and I'm totally talking from memory here) that there were strong factions who were worried that we'd become a centralized monarchy, and demanded individual protections to ensure that this new Federal creature could be contained.

I must have missed the part about the British terrorists...

So no, your point (and Gore's point, and Black's point) isn't remotely relevant.

Gore talked about MLK, and internment, and the host of other rights-infringing actions of our government during past crises, and neatly shuffled away from the reality which was that our reaction has always been to step across the line, and that the reaction - when the crisis is past or the political stars realign - pushes back.

The appropriate question would be where we are today in that process; but since he explicitly ignored it, as did Black and all the other commentators, we don't get to discuss that.

Andy, I'll come back to you later at length, but I'll make a short point now (two, actually). This is relevant because the Democrats won;t win unless they can do one of two things: a) come up with a substantive set of policies to deal with the fact that there is a large, homicidal movement out there that is focussed on us; or b) realign the political balance so no one cares.

I'll fight against b) and support a) - but I don't see it happeneing in mainstream D politics. Black is gleefully raising money for a D challenger to Joe Lieberman because Lieberman refuses to toe the propoer antiwar line. Screw him, to quote another Democratic activist.

And let me rent you a clue. Self-righteousness doesn't win elections. Votes win elections.

Given the madly successful track record of the Left in the last three decades, don;t you f**king think you might wake up and smell the coffee? You need the middle. That's me. When the Demcocratic Party can lock me - and the people like me, and there are a lot of us - into its warm embrace, you'll start winning elections outside of the Bay Area and Manhattan.

Until then you'll whine about your moral righteousness while the GOP operatives go home and - to quote - f**k the cheerleaders.

A.L.

you should seriously consider a trial separation from the party, or maybe even a divorce

I'm not a member of either party, but I've been to "open" parties and I've been to "closed" parties. I guess Andy thinks a closed Democratic party would be more fun.

"We have a process for just such a circumstance. It's a time honored process that is at the core of our constitution and system of government."

What process would that be and how does it apply to intercepting enemy signals during wartime?

As if this hasn't been obvious since about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, 20001, this thread demonstrates yet again most Americans believe we are at war while other Americans believe we face a violent criminal gang and still others think we're simply reaping our due from repressed peoples. And, for the foresable future, those who think we're at war have more votes.

roublen - So you are saying this is minor compared to spelling potatoe?

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No!! And it ain't over now!

J. Edgar Hoover

I'm a libertarian at heart.

Had the Ds run Lieberman (or Zell Miller), they'd have got my vote without question.

For the sake of divided government if nothing else.

But they ran that war criminal and total (magic hat) liar Kerry.

Instead they are going further into moonbat territory. As a result we have an unchecked Republican government.

You can see the Dem nominees for '08 will be.

Hillary and Obama. Despite being socialist, they are both into winning the war. (at least they are edging up to that position).

This is especially interesting for Obama who ran as an anti-war Socialist in '04. His shift on economics and the war is especially interesting - if real. Even if not it shows some dems still have the eye on the prize.

BTW I voted for Obama - I really don't like socialists. I can't abide theocons (Keyes).

Secrecy? My god, they conducted the entire drafting of the Constitution in secrecy. Locking the windows in the summer in Philly without the blessings of air conditioning. And by who's authority did they do it? Hmmmm...well, they certainly avoided the lobbyists didn't they.

For those who've forgot -

S.J.Res.23

One Hundred Seventh Congress

of the

United States of America

AT THE FIRST SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,

the third day of January, two thousand and one

Joint Resolution

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and

Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and

Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force'.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(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 supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Vice President of the United States and

President of the Senate.

BTW Hillary started out as a Goldwater Republican.

I started out as a Truman,Kennedy, LBJ Democrat.

At 13 I shook Truman's hand on a train that passed through Independence, MO. on the way to Kansas City.

And now I'm a Goldwater (libertarian) Republican.

And Hillary?

That the forum at which Gore spoke even occurred disproves one of the Democrat Left's prominent criticisms of Bush -- that he is a "divider" and not a "uniter". The forum was co-sponsored and attended by the likes of the ACLU, Competitive Enterprise Institute, MoveOn, Townhall, and several others from both Left and Right. No other person on the planet could have united groups with such diverse ideologies--which shows he's a champion of diversity, too!

Among other things Lincoln held without charges or trial Congressman Vallindingham, a Copperhead Democrat who was going around Kentucky and Indiana urging people not to join the Union Army and otherwise prosletyzing for the Confederacy.

Kind of sounds like John Murtha. Lucky for Murtha Bush has more respect for individuals' right to dissent than Lincoln.

In the teeth of danger during the Revolution, the Continental Congress authorized the seizure of persons and property against those who spoke out against the Revolution through the Tory Act of January 2, 1776:

And with respect to all such unworthy Americans, as regardless of their duty to their creator, their country, and their posterity, have taken part with our oppressors, and influenced by the hope or possession of ignominious rewards, strive to recommend themselves to the bounty of administration by misrepresenting and traducing the conduct and principles of the friends of American liberty, and opposing every measure formed for its preservation and security.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the different Assemblies, Conventions, and Committees or Councils of Safety in the United Colonies, by the most speedy and effectual measures to frustrate the mischievous machinations, and restrain the wicked practices of these men. And it is the opinion of this Congress that they ought to be disarmed, and the more dangerous among them either kept in safe custody, or bound with sufficient sureties to their good behavior.

No warrants, no trials, no habeas petitions -- no liberty to the enemies of liberty.

You won't notice but you use the same excuse Hitler argued to abolish German democracy: we are going to be in a war, in order to avoid our enemies to develop a fifth column inside Germany, the Nazi party has to abolish some Civil Rights.

Later the Reichstag (Congress) was attacked by, very probably by SA (Hitler's) men. The German people had to feel safe, so more Civil Rights were blown away...

Politicians will always try to seize more power, power that won't be ever returned, and wars are the best moment to convince people to give up some of their liberties, that is the reason wars are so damaging for Democracy.

I have gone through the letters to and from my late Uncle, whose remains reside in the US cemetary in Tunisia. He died leading a B-25 raid into Romania when another bomber collided with his upon takeoff.
All bombs in both planes detonated, and all aboard both ships were killed.

Now, the letters from home and the letters to my Uncle were just about the only personal effects left for my Grandmother to keep, and they were a comfort to her for the next 25 years of her life. These letters hold a place of honor in my Mother's house, as it was her older brother who died protecting our country.

I mention all this to let you know that EVERY ONE of those letters, both to and from my Uncle, were OPENED, READ, and CENSORED by the US government.

You can see the stamps, and in a few cases, there are literally HOLES in the letters where someone razor bladed out sensitive phrases in the text.

I also have it on good authority that letters overseas, NOT DIRECTED TO OR FROM US MILITARY, but communications between civilians in the US and overseas were likewise subjected to review and censorship.

Now, how anyone can be silent about a huge program to intercept, read, and censor EVERY SINGLE LETTER to the US during WWII, and get all bent out of shape about the inteception of AQ operative's communications boggles the mind.

My mind is boggled, anyway...

To add to what PD Shaw wrote:

Thomas B. Hicks, Democratic Governor of Maryland, on Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and the resulting indefinite detention of many people from Maryland:

I believe that arrests, and arrests alone, saved the State of Maryland not only from greater degradation than she suffered, but from everlasting destruction. I approved them then and I approve them now, and the only thing for which I condemn the administration in regard to that matter is that they let some of those men out.

Well, these postings have gone sour and flat, but I still thought I'd put in my bit.

Right now we still now very little about the president has/has not done. We have some possible accurate leaked stuff, but since the administration does not openly discuss anything; we may not now exactly how the tapping of the phone lines has functioned, how broadly or specifically these programs have been applied, and if it has been succesfull in the GWOT.

What I most concerned about, and will always be concerned about; is a president that uses the guise of national security to investigate pollitical opponents. We've already seens some of this with the FBI investigation such 'dangerous' groups as PETA and Greenpeace. The FBI claims that these investigations are geared toward specific threats. If that's true, fine.

but We the public have no way of evaluating that information. Nor it seems does congress or the Judicial system. We need to have a bipartisan commission (or better yet, a non-pollitical commission) to poke it's head into NSA and just verify that their searches are functioning as claimed by the administration. Maybe the rules should be changed, but the american public should have some idea of how the rules are being changed, and that our libirties are still protected by someone; even if not in the public eye.

I agree the Gore bringing up history is useless. This is a problem entirely created by new technology that needs new solutions. However not talking about it (or sensationalizing it) solves nothing.

No one has ever accused Algore of being a history whiz....remember this one?

The American Spectator
August, 1998 Byron York

On Sunday, January 17, 1993, just days before the Clinton/Gore inauguration, the vice president- elect was touring Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home outside Charlottesville, Virginia. The visit was an important photo-op; Gore and Bill Clinton were about to start their showy retracing of the trip Jefferson took to Washington for his own inaugural in 1801.

Guided by Daniel Jordan, executive director of Monticello, Gore came upon a row of white marble busts. "Who are these people?" he asked. A little taken aback, Jordan hesitated and quietly answered.

"That's George Washington on the right, he said. And that's Benjamin Franklin. And Jefferson, too."

No, alchemist. Civil Rights are not discussed, especially with politicians.

If you want to listen private conversations without involving a judge, build the next NSA center in Guantanamo, but in the US, Civil Rights have to be preserved, otherwise Osama Bin Laden would have won his greatest victory.

Gore, Bush, Democrats, Republicans... it is not about politics. It is about Freedom.

AL and PD Shaw, in describing themselves and their position in the middle, pretty much described me. I think I'm still a registered Dem, but I've been swinging both ways for a while now and most recently I've been forced to swing right.

Remember the old saying that conservatives look for converts while liberals look for heretics? When I disagree with Republicans - which I do, often - they think I'm sadly misguided or woefully uninformed. This is annoying and condescending. But when I disagree with Democrats these days, they think I'm evil. And that offends me much more.

I'm not Groucho Marx - I WOULD join a club that wanted me - but the Dems don't want me because I will not accept their theology wholely and without question. Right now, the Catholic Church allows me more freedom of conscience than the KosAtriosMoveOn jackboots of the Democratic party would. And that's just screwed up.

jpickens:

From your question, one can see how the Left must steadily deconstruct the ongoing effort.

In a war, the government can (and, arguably, should) engage in a number of activities, including censorship, domestic communications clamp-downs, etc.

If we are in a war, then the government can act in such a manner.

Thus, the Left must argue that we are not in a war.

It does so at two levels:

Level-1: Congress didn't declare war. (Congressional authorizations for the use of force don't count, somehow.)

Level-2: It's not really a war, whatever Congress has done.

This latter aspect is why you see a steadily shifting set of arguments:

--It's not a war, it's law enforcement.

--Countering terrorism isn't a war, 'cuz you can't fight a war against a tactic.

--It's counterproductive to think of it as war, b/c what you want are police tactics (as though you couldn't use police tactics in a war).

Now, here's the real irony:

The Left often whines, "If this were a real war, why not any calls for sacrifice?" From this, in their view, is spawned the right to ban SUVs, engage in national R&D programs for alternative fuels, etc.

But if they really were four-square behind sacrifice, then one of the most basic things that would occur is censorship. Censorship of news from the battlefield, censorship of communications, etc.

One suspects that, even with a declaration of war, the Left would scream bloody murder at such actions.

Joe, we have a long history in the U.S. of moving the balance between security and personal freedom back and forth as threats gather and dissipate. I don't want to be so cocky as to proclaim that it can't happen here, but I think we are a long way from 1930s Germany. And small, incremental changes can be just that.

I've drawn my line in the sand on the basis of how the government uses the information it obtains from international calls. Disruption of cells and prevention of attacks, not criminal prosecution. And with my rationale, I accept the conclusion that we may not be able to prosecute some terrorists that we learn about through warantless wiretaps.

Re alchemist (#55) - I completely agree; we need to have a thoughtful, open, and principled discussion of where the lines are and how we deal with matters that approach them. A while ago, I blogged that it was - at minimum - a poltical gaffe for Bush not have taken this program to the FISA court and at minimum had the judges issue a finding that it was appropriate to some level, and that at that level, the Administration eeded to do X to make it appropriate.

I still feel that way.

I'm working on a post on metadata, and my guess is that this program is a metadata-driven one. We haven't thought through issues regarding this very much, and probably should.

A.L.

To add to what Glen wrote about Lincoln (#54):

Truman was similarly unrepentant when he talked in his memoirs about the Supreme Court decision preventing him from seizing the steel mills to keep them running during the Korean War:

Whatever the six justices of the Supreme Court meant by their differing opinions about the constitutional powers of the President, he must always act in a national emergency. We live in an age when hostilities begin without polite exchanges of diplomatic notes. There are no longer sharp distinctions between combatants and noncombatants, between military targets and the sanctuary of civilian areas. Nor can we separate the economic facts from the problems of defense and security. [The] President, who is Commander in Chief and who represents the interests of all the people, must be able to act at all times to meet any sudden threat to the national security.

The forum was co-sponsored and attended by the likes of the ACLU, Competitive Enterprise Institute, MoveOn, Townhall, and several others from both Left and Right.

Interesting claim. If you follow the link AL provided, none of the aforementioned groups were co-sponsors of the event. The event was sponsored by the American Constitution Society (the Left’s answer to the Federalist Society) and the Liberty Coalition (of which none of the aforementioned groups are listed as members).

Righto. Lurking Observer's "irony" depends on there being no distinction between rights and privileges/luxuries. But that's a minor offense; most people don't quite get irony.

Secondly, he/she uses the phrase "the government can act in such a manner" to obscure the fact that what we are discussing is one portion of the government claiming the right to act in any manner it sees fit. It's a variant on the strawman that "liberals object to wiretaps on terrorists" when, in fact, liberals object to unauthorized wiretaps on terrorist suspects.

Just to make it a little clearer for you, reasonable people are not objecting to wiretaps. Reasonable people are objecting to the complete gelding of the system, secret though it is, that ensures that those wiretaps are being used and prosecuted appropriately. We are objecting to the dismantling of even the most tenuous safeguards on the "representative government" that we believe in, against all evidence to the contrary.

Gabriel,

The Federal Government is responsible for policing every thing that crosses the nation's borders. Thus the intercept of incoming communications is not a violation of American rights.

Domestic spying for political purposes is another matter.

J. Edgar Hoover.

"but We the public have no way of evaluating that information. Nor it seems does congress or the Judicial system."

Congress certainly does, or at least the leadership. One thing we have discovered since 911 is even the biggest national defense and international relations policy shifts of the last 50 years cant motivate even members of the Select Intelligence Committee to use the power they have to do their oversight jobs thoroughly. Its not all that surprising, Congress people are much better at grandstanding than investigating. Grilling NSA peons in secret session doesnt win you any votes.

As far as the Courts go, the only reason they have no role is that we have no victims to claim standing. Something consistantly forgotten in all these hypothetical Civil Rights arguments.

Actually, the "two world wars simultaneously" does make sense, although it's a bit garbled.

Clearly he meant a world war on two fronts simultaneously. Fighting the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. Two essentially separate wars being fought at the same time at opposite sides of the world.

From this discussion and from others I've read lately, it seems that the Left has no problem with the obvious double standards they are employing against the Bush Administration wrt secrecy and infringement of rights. We can continue to point out countless examples in the history of our nation that were far more egregious, but the efforts will be for naught.

They won't be swayed by these arguments, because they've built a few axioms into their logic, axioms that the rest of us consider arguable at best. These are:
- Bush was not legitimately elected, so he cannot legitimately exercise his constitutional prerogatives.
- Bush's motivations are evil, based on greed and intolerance.
- Bush and his staff are incompetent and have never done anything right.

Given that the Left considers these absolute truths, they see it as their patriotic DUTY to thwart everything the Administration does. There can never be any benefit of the doubt granted, not an iota of good faith to be found. To them, because of these "truths" they hold (on faith, I should point out) it is impossible that there can be any reasoned defense of the Administration's actions.

In spite of our best laid arguments - based on historic precedents and context together with geo-political realities - the Left has rendered itself intellectually incapable of rational discussion.

My purpose in the last Gore quote was not to give the thread of his argument, just that several people were asking, in effect, why is [that bitter old fool] Gore making such obvious mistakes, and overlooking such obvious counter-arguments? My basic reply, was, he's not, and if you think he is, you should probably read the speech.

re: the contradiction between minimizing past abuses and magnifying current ones, here is the relevant excerpt:

"President Lincoln, of course, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a shameful low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive. And, of course, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of those abuses experienced by Dr. King and so many thousands of others.

But in each of these cases throughout American history, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, our nation recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

But, there are reasons for concern this time around, that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of presidential power. . .

. . .A second reason to that believe we may be experiencing something new -- outside that historical cycle -- is that we are, after all, told by this Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to "last” in their phrase, “for the rest of our lives." And so, we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other Presidents to justify arrogations of power will, in this case, persist in near perpetuity.

Third, we need to be keenly aware of the startling advances in the sophistication of eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to easily sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and then mine it for intelligence. . .

Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional terror strikes is real and the concerted efforts by terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction does indeed create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power conferred by the Constitution to the any President to take unilateral action when necessary to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat. And it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not. But the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for many years and producing a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.

And there is a final reason to worry that we may be experiencing something more than just another cycle. This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential power is exactly what our Constitution intended.

This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which ought to be more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary, cannot be checked by Congress. And President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking it as frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, both domestic and foreign. And when added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine."

Sorry for the long quote. but I probably quoted too little the last time around, so am overdoing it the other way.

"...otherwise Osama Bin Laden would have won his greatest victory."

I beg to differ. I believe that if you truly believe that, then it is wholly outside of your ability to comprehend what an Osama Bin Laden victory would be like, much less what complete victory for thier side would be like. Whenever I hear such language, I beg the person using it to spend some time living outside the US - really living thier amongst the natives and not merely lounging in some tourist town removed from the ordinary affairs of the nation by stature and economic class. You need perspective, and you need it badly.

Reasonable people can argue about the relative threat posed by a terrorist and an intrusion of privacy, but when you resort to such unreasonable language it betrays a mind which is so unserious about the terrorist threat as to make conversation pointless.

roublen: Which is all well and good, but none of that has anything to do with Gore's rewriting of history quoted in original post. Yes, Gore may have a reasoned argument - albiet one which I disagree with and find rather childish - at some point in the speech, but that doesn't mean that Gore didn't engage in some rather imaginative reimagining of history when describing the period between 1781 and 1791. It is simply silly to try to defend that.

If you are in fact serious about this issue, the proper responce should be, "Sure, Gore said some silly indefensible things at various points, and I won't try to defend that. But, if we take away his hyperbole and excise the parts where he takes liberties with the historical record, can the underlying argument still be made? Is the underlying issue truly an important one, and if so what are we going to do about it?

It's that last part that I'm curious about. I nearly voted for Gore. His science policy was by rumor said to be better than Bush's and that matters to me. And I had any number of other problems with Bush. But one problem I've had from Gore on with every person in the Democratic party is they don't have a plan. Oh they are perfectly willing to say they have a plan, but they aren't willing to explain it and when they do it betrays real ignorance of the issues. (Just for example, Kerry made it central to his national defence policy that he would double the size of the Special Forces. If you don't understand how ignorant that statement is, you have no business advising on National security.)

Criticism is easy. A workable plan is not. Impress me. What is your plan?

well, with the caveat that I'm neither an especially well-informed lay citizen nor have any credentials, here is my opinion on Iran, which I regard as the most important national security issue facing the west. Similar opinions on North Korea here:

re, Iran. I think the first thing Democrats politicians and spokespeople have to do when representing the party in public, is to assume that the average person knows absoulutely nothing about the Iranian debate, so the first step is simply education: to introduce the issue to voters, and to try to tell a plausible story about the nature of the issues at hand, and the nature of the choices we face. And perhaps to suggest good sources if voters want to further inform themselves.

I think Democrats should define their Iran policy in response to 4 questions: 1) What weapons capababilities do the Iranians have, now and in the future? 2) What are their intentions on how to use whatever capabilities they have? 3) What can we do about it? 4) What should we do about it?

The Democrats have to persuade voters that this 4-question framework is the right way to think about the Iran conflict, and (more importantly), they have to come up with good and plausible answers to all 4 questions.

My initial hypothesis is that Iranian capabilities are comparable to, and somewhat less than, Pakistan and North Korea; Iranian intentions are very, very grave and serious for the threat to Israel, not so grave for other threats; our choices are various carrots and various sticks, and military force is on the table if the Iranian regime continues to demonstrate an umistakable pattern of aggressive intent (rhetoric & actions) with respect to Israel. We should give them every opportunity to step back from the brink, but they must, in the end, take responsibility for their rhetoric.

The basic way to frame the issue, I believe, is that the Iranian threat is comparable in its nature to the Soviet threat (though smaller), and is comparable in its nature to the threat India faces from Pakistan (though bigger), and it should be handled in roughly the same manner. Israel under the US/NATO umbrella, containment, deterrence, assured destruction of the Iranian regime in case of aggression, but with a strong bias against a pre-emptive strike.

The long-term endgame we should be playing for is to eventually cut a deal with an Iranian Gorby or Iranian Musharraf, while doing in the interim what's militarily necessary to save lives and deter aggression.

I should say that on national security issues I usually look to borrow an opinion from somebody I respect. People I generally feel safe borrowing an opinion from are Wes Clark, Cordesman, Gore. Big fan of Ehud Barak as well. I would agree that Gore's speeches are often hyperbolic and sometimes unfair to his opponents. OTOH, I usually agree almost entirely on his core substantive arguments, and policy proposals on what needs to be done going forward. For an example of what I mean, my comments on Gore's 2002 Iraq speech here

celebrim (#70)

I am not a US citizen. That is the point, I don't trust politicians so much as you do.

Our liberties are not the price to pay for our security. This same argument was used by the Nazis to abolish German democracy. If we give up some of our Civil Rights we are stepping back on what we are and we come closer to what Osama Bin Laden is. In the end, that is a victory for him because the world is closer to what he intends to create, isn't it?

Today's governments have the greatest influence and control over their citizens ever. Electronic surveillance is an extremely powerful control tool in an era in which any relation or business uses electronic devices. In fact the government monitoring your internet connection, mobile phone and credit cards (+ income and taxes information that already has) can know about a person more that he/she really knows about him/herself. You want to begin the path towards surrendering your liberties in this critical area.

The Western Civilization cannot afford too many people thinking so.

In addition, I don't think it is a matter of political debate. Probably, being the US President, I would have done just the same, but I would also have expected a strong opposition, not by other politicians, but by the people, if caught doing it. That is what makes us different from Osama, not the dressing.

_Today's governments have the greatest influence and control over their citizens ever. Electronic surveillance is an extremely powerful control tool in an era in which any relation or business uses electronic devices. In fact the government monitoring your internet connection, mobile phone and credit cards (+ income and taxes information that already has) can know about a person more that he/she really knows about him/herself. _

Just curious. How does greater surveillance translate into greater control? Is there some sort of blackmail involved?

Ho ho, equitus

Do you live in America? You are lucky then.

For instance, if you have an affaire, they'll know. If you are in conversations with another company for a better job, they´ll know. If you are planning the launch of a new-but-still-undisclosed product or service, they'll know. If they are not happy with you, they can leak it to your competitors...

Use your imagination.

JA,

I think you seriously overestimate the competence of the US government, and underestimate the difficulty of processing the quantity of information we're talking about.

If the government wants to target me, personally, they can do so easily. But if they want to target everyone in the country who is having an affair or looking for a new job, they don't have anywhere near the resources to do so.

Besides, any evidence that anything of this kind is actually occurring?

J Aguilar: "I am not a US citizen. That is the point, I don't trust politicians so much as you do."

If you are not a US citizen, don't presume that you understand how they think. The US is a country founded in revolution whose people have a great distrust of authority. One need only look to present day Capital Hill to see exactly why that distrust is well earned, or read Gore's litany of rights violations. I'm merely prioritizing.

"Our liberties are not the price to pay for our security. This same argument was used by the Nazis to abolish German democracy."

No it was not. The argument advanced by the Nazis to abolish German democracy was laid out in detail in Hitler's 'Mein Kamp'. It cannot even be summarized as trading liberty for security. And importantly, no similar arguments are being advanced by anyone. Whether in fact liberties and security are mutually exclusive and no one wants to take the politically suicidal step of saying so is a whole other issue.

"If we give up some of our Civil Rights we are stepping back on what we are and we come closer to what Osama Bin Laden is."

LOL. Ok. I can see that there is no point in this conversation. It leads to the land of moral equivication that suggests such men as Lincoln and Wilson were simply nascent Osama Bin Laden's.

"In the end, that is a victory for him because the world is closer to what he intends to create, isn't it?"

LOL. No. Oh dear. No. You are experiencing a failure of imagination. Osama Bin Ladin has outlined exactly what he intends to create. A militarized United States of America resolved to at any costs protect its existance is by his own admission the last thing that he intended, expects, or desires. Now, whether it is what we want or desire is an entirely different subject, but do not imagine in the slightest that an American police state (even if such were a possibility, which I doubt) constitutes a victory for Osama Bin Ladin.

"Today's governments have the greatest influence and control over their citizens ever."

You've never lived in a village, have you?

"Electronic surveillance is an extremely powerful control tool in an era in which any relation or business uses electronic devices. In fact the government monitoring your internet connection, mobile phone and credit cards (+ income and taxes information that already has) can know about a person more that he/she really knows about him/herself."

LOL. Back to hyperbole I see.

"You want to begin the path towards surrendering your liberties in this critical area."

You don't know what I want.

"The Western Civilization cannot afford too many people thinking so."

LOL. Neither do you understand what Western Civilization truly cannot afford.

"In addition, I don't think it is a matter of political debate. Probably, being the US President, I would have done just the same, but I would also have expected a strong opposition, not by other politicians, but by the people, if caught doing it. That is what makes us different from Osama, not the dressing."

It's hardly the limit of what makes us different from Osama Bin Ladin. In fact, in a real sense our mode of politics is simply part of the dressing, a mere manifestation of deeper underlying differences. Even if you believed that the US would transform itself into a police state tomorrow - an event I would take up arms to prevent - such a transformation would not constitute a victory for Osama Bin Ladin and its absolutely certain that (if he's still alive) he would not look on it as one.

I think you seriously overestimate the competence of the US government, and underestimate the difficulty of processing the quantity of information we're talking about..

That is the point, Rob. With today's computers and data bases you can correlate a lot of information easily. That is the reason why government control can be achieved. In the older days, everything was written on paper and had to be searched for manually. Even in the early sixties, there were no more than 300 civil telephone lines between western Europe and America. Big amounts of information cannot be sourced and moved easily. Now with one click you can access a data base in the other corner of the world and perform a search, and then send that information at hundreds of megabits per second to where you are.

Rob, the discussion is not about whether the government can process vast amounts of data, because it is doing that now.

OK, let's put it in other way.

Would you allow the government to install a GPS-Tracker in your car that automatically sends information about position and velocity thru mobile phone networks to government offices?

Wouldn't it be safer? Don't terrorists use cars in order to not leave any evidence in airports, flight tickets, etc?

JA,

No to the tracker, but since you raise the issue: there are something like 230 million cars in the United States. If every single one had a tracker, the volume of the data generated would be so great that it would be impossible to use it all, or even search it for anything meaningful. You'd have gazillions of data points showing people driving to work every day; only a truly massive computing effort could even detect someone doing something odd, and even then there'd be so many "odd" hits from people taking a detour to visit their favorite restaurant for the first time in months that they would be useless.

It would be an enormous waste of resources and you'd never catch a terrorist. But you wouldn't affect the lives of ordinary Americans either, with perhaps a tiny number of exceptions.

If you are not a US citizen, don't presume that you understand how they think.

Excuse me if I did.

The argument advanced by the Nazis to abolish German democracy was laid out in detail in Hitler's 'Mein Kamp'.

A) Germany is a 'have not' country. It needs raw materials, that means expansion.

B) The East is our natural direction to expand. By the way, those slavic are not equals to us (first Civil Right abolished). They should be conquered and used as the habitants of a colony to keep the German standard of living (which means economic security, no more hyperinflation) and to avoid German subjugation to foreign powers.

C) To carry out this expansion, a war has to be fought.

D) To fight this war, we need a strong government (no opposition). Full commitment in the task is needed (no complains, please).

E) Traitors, as Germany Chief of Staff Ludendorff said, were the cause of the WWI defeat. We will assure this time that there are no more traitors behind our lines (no freedom to disagree, persecution of minorities, especially Jews).

That was Hitler's philosophy, and Germans bought it.

It leads to the land of moral equivication that suggests such men as Lincoln and Wilson were simply nascent Osama Bin Laden's.

I admire Lincoln. He was indeed outstanding. By the way today I have found an American cent passed as an European two cents coin. Lincoln's head is worth the difference. But the fact is that the Federal government after Lincoln did not look like the kind of government Jefferson and the others Founding Fathers have envisioned. It was a much stronger central government, clearly superior to all states.

I think each war America foughts makes the Federal government stronger. It is quite noticeable.

A militarized United States of America resolved to at any costs protect its existance

The only thing that threatens the existence of the United States of America is the Socialist ideas of some of their politicians.

I don't see any country or power in this world that can threaten the existence of your country. Perhaps a meteor...

but do not imagine in the slightest that an American police state (even if such were a possibility, which I doubt) constitutes a victory for Osama Bin Ladin.

That is want he wants, a police state, (ruled by Islam (him), of course). You move closer to his objective.

You've never lived in a village, have you?

In one whose vineyard's extension were controlled by satellite, and now Google.

Even if you believed that the US would transform itself into a police state tomorrow [...] such a transformation would not constitute a victory for Osama Bin Ladin and its absolutely certain that (if he's still alive) he would not look on it as one.

No? Terrorists are very vain. They like to go on TV and spread terror just by their mere presence, they like to influence things. I'm sure he likes to see Civil Rights being reduced in the US because his work.

I remember the answer of a political commentator when asked if he had received threats from ETA. He said: Would it change anything?

I think he is craftily escorted, but otherwise his life has not changed.

That is what makes terrorists sick.

Rob(#79)

No to the tracker, but since you raise the issue: there are something like 230 million cars in the United States. If every single one had a tracker, the volume of the data generated would be so great that it would be impossible to use it all, or even search it for anything meaningful.

I've been thinking about it. My opinion is that it can be done (sampling time of 5 minutes). Take into account that not all the vehicles are moving at the same time. New data about those that keep its "station" should not be stored. Moreover, present position has to be related to past through speed. Segments with the aproximate same speed and direction might be joined together, reducing data allocation space... further, check only vehicles that follow different routes than usual or are outside its normal area.

I'm sure a computer engineer would find more ways to reduce the need of resources.

It is really frightening.

check only vehicles that follow different routes than usual or are outside its normal area.

That means you need a database of "normal" routes for 230 million cars (multiple routes for each car), and you'll get a hit every time some guy stops off at a specialty grocery to get the fresh pasta his wife likes for their anniversary.

JA's skepticism of politicians isn't something I haven't heard from the Left or the Right. I don't believe that these wire taps are the "slippery slopes" to a police state though.

First, the issue is not getting warrants and I do not believe warrants are as protective of individuals as critics would believe. Warrants are issued by judges upon receiving a one-sided statement from a law enforcement officer. There is a small degree of arbitrariness that the judge eliminates and probably more importantly, the judge may limit the scope of the search, but it is more of a paperwork obstacle. If the law enforcement officer intends to conduct a wiretap for an improper purpose, he is just as likely to lie or conceal things from the judge.

Second, I believe that the incorporation of computer technology might make the wiretaps less arbitrary and less invasive. Data sorted by computer doesn't necessarily get read by the human eye and computers can use more objective criteria than a human. A human could program the computer in an abusive fashion, but a simple wall between programmer and consumer might be all that is needed. My point is simply that computer technology might advantages over the warrant system.

JA,

I just want to be clear that I'm not saying your fears can't be realized, just that it would take a stupendous quantity of resources (most notably manpower) that would be impossible to allocate politically.

JA: Your responce shows intelligence. Forgive me for underestimating you, its just lately I've found myself overestimating peoples rationality more often than not.

The thing about the Nazi attack on Democracy that I think is important, is that Hitler did not advance the argument against representative democracy as being one specific to a particular case. Hitler advanced the idea that autocracy was superior to democracy universally in the general case, and in this he recieved the backing of virtually the entire intellectual establishment of Germany. Sure, some of those intellectuals might have argued that Hitler wasn't the right philosopher king for the job, but almost none of those intellectuals with a public voice claimed he was wrong on that fundamentally. This observation reveals a totally different culture in current America than in pre-Nazi Germany, and one that I doubt you will see anytime soon. Unlike Germany, America has long practice with Democracy. It's deeply engrained in our mythic tradition. It's not inconceivable that some severe crisis might lead to our adoption of an Augustan Principate, but such a crisis of ideas if it occurs can occur entirely independently of any 'war on Terror'.

Yes, the Federal government is today far stronger than the founder's envisioned, but that didn't start with the civil war nor is it a product of wars alone. Looking back at the growth of federal power and blaming it on the singular cause of trading freedom for security I think is a shallow interpretation. I think a fuller explanation is probably more simple. Governments acquire power the way closets acquire unused stuff. Peace or war, or the reasons underlying why the powers were granted are only secondary to that central point.

"The only thing that threatens the existence of the United States of America is the Socialist ideas of some of their politicians.

I don't see any country or power in this world that can threaten the existence of your country. Perhaps a meteor..."

You gave the answer yourself in the previous sentence. The only thing that threatens the existence of the United States of America - and Western Civilization in general - is ideas. Ideas, period, would be a much fuller answer. Yes, the socialists are probably the biggest danger, but you are I think seriously underestimating the rigor and power of the Islamist meme. It's not inconcievable that they win, and if they do it will mean a collapse of Western civilization far greater than any collapse do to socialism, because as Osama Bin Ladin is so fond of pointing out, socialism is itself just another Western idea.

"That is want he wants, a police state, (ruled by Islam (him), of course)."

Of course.

"You move closer to his objective."

No I don't. First of all, I'm not advocating a police state. Secondly, if I was, it wouldn't move him closer to his objective. I think that is where you are most wrong. If you believed that to be the case, then you would also have to argue that the threat posed by terrorism is a greater existentialist threat to China than it is to the USA. That is I think obviously wrong. Terrorism is always a greater threat to an open society with its open media and cosmopolitan and libertarian ideas than it is to a closed society. If China was the world's superpower, Islamicism wouldn't stand a chance with its current toolset, and Osama Bin Ladin for all his faults knows it.

"In one whose vineyard's extension were controlled by satellite, and now Google."

:) I grin every time I read that. Yes, exactly. You get it. I'm not sure you fully get it, but no one who could write that by way of a responce utterly misses the nature of the problem.

"No? Terrorists are very vain. They like to go on TV and spread terror just by their mere presence, they like to influence things. I'm sure he likes to see Civil Rights being reduced in the US because his work."

Maybe, but only because he's a megalomaniac who is immune to his own cognitive disonance. I'm sure he enjoys anything that seems to feed his own sense of self-importance, but the fact remains that if that were to prove to be the result of his actions that it would be the opposite of his intended aims.

Let me talk for a second about what I think is Osama Bin Ladin's world view. OBL's goal is not to get America to sacrifice its civil rights. This is a very Western thought, driven by Western fears, and one which is I think utterly alien to Osama's mind. OBL believes that through toppling the physical towers of America, he can topple the mythic and moral towers of America as well. He believes he has seen intellectual and moral weakness in the West. He believes that he only need strike fear in the West to get the West to embrace Islam morally and intellectually. He believes this because he believes the West to be trapped in a moral and intellectual vacuum (because Westerners have become 'soft' and 'depraved'), in which the first strong idea to arrive will be able to easily plant itself and grow strong.

He believes Islam is just such a strong idea, and indeed the strongest idea, capable of chasing away and devouring all the other ones the way a predator chases prey. All it needs is the water of fear. He believes that the West will respect that which it comes to fear in a civilization wide Stockholm syndrome. He's even seen what he sees as the first sign of this some of this in the fawning praise he recieves from some of far left nutcases, and the respect that suicide bombers recieve from many of the same sources.

America's responce to the attack on its moral foundations was not at all what he expected it to be. He expected America to be morally paralyzed, to be unable to mount any sort of adequate defense, to sue for peace, to try to reach an accomodation, to be immobilized by its corruptable man-made political process, and ultimately to rationalize the acceptance of Islam or Islamic overlordship. He has seen some of that, but that hasn't as yet been the overwhelming responce he hoped for. Likewise, he didn't expect America to mount the sort of military responce we did. He expected America's responce to be half-hearted, ineffective and quickly abandoned at the first sign of difficulty. He had grounds for that belief. The effectiveness of America's military responce he finds absolutely staggering. It was inconceivable to him that America could drive him from Afghanistan, hunt him in Pakistan, and conduct a war in the Arab middle east simultaneously.

Osama Bin Ladin has been forced to reassess his opinion of America, and indeed even the wisdom of his 'America First' strategy. For the first time, he's become aware of what we call 'the Red States', and he's divined that this 'Red State attitude' may have something to do with his miscalculation. Whether you actually agree with this assessment is irrelevant, because the media spreads the idea that his current defeats (which it call our defeats) are the responcibility of this 'red state'ness. It's his assessment.

I for one am not wholly happy about that, because I believe OBL will next time place his blows where they are likely to be more effective.

Osama Bin Ladin is a rather smart man, but his judgements are limited by his narrow experience and his absolutist mind frame. He has a tendancy to give more credit to what he reads than he should. He's not very conscious of his own biases. When Osama parrots the media and opposition party talking points, partly he's just making use of ready made memetic weapons, but partly I think he really believes what he is saying. When he hears that the US is losing, it comforts him - perhaps it may be so? If he reads somewhere that the war in Iraq may bankrupt the US, it isn't just that he sees this as a useful attitude to manipulate, but that this is an absolute truth which he adopts into his overall strategy. When Osama Bin Ladin reads the media and he hears that Bush is a religious fanatic and a warmonger, I think he really believes it in a absolute way that maybe even the Left doesn't.

When Osama Bin Ladin hears the phrase 'American Taliban', it echoes in his ears far differently than it does in yours or mine or anyone else using the phrase. Whether you believe it is an accurate description or not (he doesn't), or even partly an accurate description, understand that to whatever extent the phrase rings true to Osama Bin Ladin it sounds like a declaration of moral strength.

As someone he percieves as a religious fanatic and a warmonger, because the Left percieves him as a religious fanatic and a warmonger, as someone credited rightly or wrongly with America's responce to 9/11, I believe Osama Bin Ladin - like the left - sees in Bush an 'evil' counterpart to himself. His doppleganger if you will. I believe that Bush has won Osama Bin Ladin's grudging respect as a foe, and that that - not necessarily or not just anything Bush has done to secure the country - is what has kept there from being a repeat 9/11. He deems that so long as there is a 'dangerous religious fanatic' in the White House who might indeed convert America into a 'facist police state', that now is not the time to strike. He understands (or at least believes), as you apparantly do not, that a fanatic who believes in something fanaticly is not easily swayed in his beliefs, not easily coopted, and not easily thwarted. An American theocratic police state would not suit him at all, unless it was his theocratic police state.

OBL assumes like so many men of his sort that all politics and all contests are primarily personal. He assumes that when Bush goes away (Democracy inherently being weak) that he's likely to be replaced by someone 'weaker', and that then will be the time to test America again.

In short, he still doesn't understand America at all. But underlying all his misconceptions is a core truth - the West is morally vulnerable right now. Any 'moralist' - however depraved his morals - can see that clearly. This is the reason that the 'ideas of the socialist politicians' are dangerous, and this is the reason that Osama Bin Ladin and all he represents remains more than an existentialist threat to a particular city in the West. You shouldn't underestimate 1200 year old memes. Islamicism has been around far longer than Marxism; its had more time to metastize and develop immunities, more time to implant itself in people's mythic and romantic conscious, more time to refine its ideas, more experience at appealing to the ordinary person, more time to develop a skilled evangelical class. It's currently abated, but its not down for the count and in the long run it's the more dangerous idea than Marxism, despite Marxism youthful vitality.

Re: #20, roublen:
Once you have a match, FISA allows you to go 72 hours without a warrant. You can do a preliminary investigation, decide if there's anything there, and then you should get the damn warrant. There's no reason not to, if you have nothing to hide, and are only investigating Al Qaeda members.
So, and let me get this straight, for five years you Liberals have been claiming that the FISA court is a kangaroo court, operating in secret, who rubber-stamps the Administration's undoubtedly evil requests to violate Civil Rights (as a means to overthrow the Consitution).

Now, you're saying that the widespread Elint operation against our enemies in wartime is a threat to the Constitution and a stepping stone to a police state, but it would all have been alright if only Bush had gotten FISA warrants, because FISA warrants are peachy and fine and not at all problematic and the FISA court is perfectly lawful and Constitutional and nothing Bush has done would have been even the tiniest bit of a problem, if only FISA had said it was okay?

So a program that overthrows the Constitution and establishes a police state is fine if FISA says so? When did FISA become the perfect all-knowing court who protects the Constitution and can approve of the creation of a police state?

Man, you Liberals are just so much smarter than anyone else. I can see why you're so arrogant, now. Clearly, you are rigorous thinkers of the first rank.

OK, my comparison with what happened in Germany is exaggerated, my excuses. But beyond short-term political debate, I simply wanted to state that today any government can exert a control over its citizens unthinkable just a few decades ago and that this should be added to the equation.

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