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Tilting at Windmills

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January 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

JOHN ASHCROFT: WEAK ON TERRORISM?....Look, if even John Ashcroft had qualms about the NSA's secret domestic spying program, as Newsweek reports today, I think it's safe to say that something is seriously wrong here. After all, we now know that the FISA court was unhappy about the NSA program; Congress was unwilling to pass a law authorizing it; and both John Ashcroft and his chief deputy in an election year! eventually came to feel that the program was being abused. That's the trifecta: senior officials in all three branches of government felt that the program went beyond the president's authority.

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats. Once again the president will be allowed to paint this as an issue of either wholeheartedly supporting the fight against terrorism or else being one of those whiny liberals who's allied with Osama in all but name. That the real issue is that Bush secretly broke the law instead of getting congressional authorization for it which would have been a slam dunk for any remotely reasonable program will end up lost in a whirlwind of the jingoistic bloviating we've come to expect from Fox News and Dick Cheney.

But who knows? Maybe this time the press will see through the prattle and write about this scandal without the usual insistence on accepting transparently childish talking points from the conservo-bots as actual reportable news. That would be a nice New Year's present.

Oh, and maybe the the tooth fairy will drop by with that quarter he forgot to give me 40 years ago. You never know.

Kevin Drum 5:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (266)

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Comments

I think the difference between this scandal and many others during the Bush admin is that a good number of politicians will care about this particular abuse of power. Why? Because they realize that they themselves could very well, now or in the future, be among the targets of such illegal evesdropping.

When their own self interest is involved, politicians -- like regular people -- sit up and take notice.

Posted by: Ralph on January 1, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I suspect that your blog is being monitored for parties that threaten the interests of the USA.

If I type the word p.e.a.c.e. I am immediately flagged by the 100s of computers mining your blog.

My bank records are scanned.

My phone calls are monitored.

My life is over.

Thanks George.

Tom Nicholson (note I am not afraid to use my real name on this blog because I have nothing to hide!)

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 1, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Don't despair, Steve. It looks like we're going to find out a lot more from James Risen, whose book "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" is coming out in January. The advertising for the book can be seen here:

Simon and Schuster

Posted by: nepeta on January 1, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we use the "it's not about the blow job it's about the lying" offense?

Posted by: WhoSays on January 1, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, sorry Kevin.

Posted by: nepeta on January 1, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

If dems cannot articulate a principled and clear position on this issue, its their own damn fault. Why blame the press, the Fox News, Dick Cheney and the moon and the stars for what is likely to be one more in a long series of self-inflicted Democratic Party failures?

If a political party's fortune rests on other people playing nice, it is doomed to extinction, and I must say well deservedly so.

Posted by: lib on January 1, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome back Kevin. I've missed your posts.

Posted by: Grouchy Cowboy on January 1, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

The Newsweek piece shatters the assumption that the White House has been blowjob free for five years.

It reads like it was dictated by Harriet Miers, for God's sake.

Me spy on the Kerry campaign? That's unpossible!

Posted by: F'in Librul on January 1, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: it sounds like you are believing the propagandists. Americans are upset about this, and despite the rent-a-crowds and paid pundits, this issue has traction. Especially since it will soon be discovered that this whole thing was probably cover for watching political enemies. Anyone who has the capacity to think does not watch Fox or their cloned MSM mirror sites. This administration does one thing well: lying. Not much of a skill, and really, no one believes much of their spin in the real America anymore.
Cue paid trolls.

Posted by: Sparko on January 1, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, this issue is NOT a loser for Dems. It's just that Dems know how to MAKE it a loser. It is NOT an issue about security: Repubs have done five years of the most comprehensive spying in human history and have NOTHING to show for it. This is about putting your tax returns on the internet; it's about ripping the roof off your bedroom at five oclock in the morhing. It is about a president who picks and chooses what laws he wants to obey.

Dems eitheer (1) do not really want to win (and who can blame them?) or (2)--perhaps more likely--they secretely hope to benefit from some of the same abuse of power someday.

Posted by: Buce on January 1, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Just as I come to think that the cowering imbecility and miserable, self-pitying impotence of mainstream Democrats could not possibly decline to a more abject state, along comes another sobbing pundit to show I am wrong:

Kevid Drum:

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats. Once again the president will be allowed to paint this as an issue of either wholeheartedly supporting the fight against terrorism or else being one of those whiny liberals who's allied with Osama in all but name.

I honestly think that if it was revealed that Bush was killing live babies and eating them in the White House basement, mainstream Democrats like Kevin would moan that the issue is a loser for Democrats, because Bush might be able to paint us as soft on cannibalism, and allied with the forces of anti-American vegetarianism.

Of course he can paint them that way, if we are so shrinking and pusillanimous to let him. But you just got finished showing that the Bush inner circle is virtually all alone on this, and that even the other branches of his own stinking, right-wing government opposed him. But still you manage to find excuses for diffidence and political cowardice!

What does it take to convince you gutless scibblers that Bush's vast political power is largely a figment of your own abused and timorous imaginations, and what meagre reality it has is in large measure a product of the self-loathing and insecurity of mainstream Democrats like yourselves, who have been absent from the field of political battle for several years now.

Buck up and grow a pair!

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

There was a comment on DKOS with a timeline on Ashcroft's departure that lines up neatly with these series of events surrounding his hospitalization, domestic spying authorization and recusing himself from the Plame investigation, which was followed immediately by the Fitzgerald appointment. Ashcroft has been quoted as saying that he thinks Fitzgerald is the best prosecutor in the whole world (seriously). It almost makes you wonder if they got punked by Ashcroft in the end, who just wouldn't cross some lines they saw fit to not just cross but eliminate.

Posted by: metaphoria on January 1, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

I reluctantly agree with Kevin that the issue has little traction. Unfortunately, most of the country has become too stupid to care about liberty, justice or the constitution. They just want somebody else to worry about their safety - never mind that he a moron and a criminal.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on January 1, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is not whether the pres. may circumvent fourth amendment protections in an emergency situation.

The issue is whether he may do so in a continuing program for THREE STINKING YEARS without attempting to bring the program under the normal system of checks and balances.

If the dems can't articulate that and/or the people can't understand that, then we don't deserve a democratic form of government. Let little George be the tyrant he's always wanted to be.

Posted by: Wilbur on January 1, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please. This whining has got to stop. It's wartime, everything about the program shows that it was in fact designed to catch AQ related intelligence (everything we know so far), and so what is someone at the NSA was listening in when my aunt in Paris called me last week? What is somebody in the govt going to do with the information that I got the socks she sent??? What is the risk here?

Who cares what JA said? He's a lawyer and was probably concerned about legality, not whether this was a good program.

And whether or not it was legal depends on what the Supreme Court says about the balance of powers between the president and congress. With all due respect to Drum, various blowhard senators, and pundits, unless they've got Justice in front of their names, they don't get to decide what's legal or not. Same goes for FISA judges, balance of power issues are not part of their domain.

Posted by: lab on January 1, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, most of the country has become too stupid to care about liberty, justice or the constitution.

What an elitist position! Why don't Democrats ever fail to live upto the caricature that Republicans make them out to be?

If the Democratic leaders are always trying to straddle every issue, ever dreadfully afraid of the affect of any clear and crisp position that they might take, there is no sense in calling the people at large stupid for not caring for the resulting mushy message.


Posted by: lib on January 1, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

And what's with the phony picture at the top of the article? Bush & Cheney were nowhere near each other on 9/11. In fact, didn't Bush run and hide in the midwest (at Cheney's urging), while Dickie went to his proverbial "undisclosed location"? Newsweek knows all this. So what's with the phony picture?

Posted by: baba durag on January 1, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

One of the questionable conservabot talking points bandied around, by even Condi et al, and a chief architect is the execrable Yoo, is that the President's Commander in Chief powers let him do about anything he wants. Well, it looks to me that the USC just implies presidential authority over the armed forces and the "militias."

However, one talking point really has legs, and we need to deal with it: intercepting communications going across our borders may have different legal status than just what would be done internally. This point was discussed on Sully's site and gave him pause. It can't just be dismissed, can it? What did FISA say about cross-border intercepts in particular? What do you all think?

Posted by: Neil' on January 1, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

...so what is someone at the NSA was listening in when my aunt in Paris called me last week? What is somebody in the govt going to do with the information that I got the socks she sent??? What is the risk here?

The risk is that, as they're listening to your call from your aunt in Paris, and the thousands of innocuous calls like it, they're missing important calls that have actual information.

That's what happened with 9/11. It wasn't that they didn't have the information. It's not that they didn't know what to do, The problem was that they couldn't figure out what was the wheat and what was the chaff. And now they've added even more chaff that they'll have to sift through to find the people who do want to attack us.

That's the risk -- that they'll miss the attackers AGAIN because they're listening to you and your aunt.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 1, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the ass-farts, lib.

Very mushy, the rule of law...

Posted by: An oozing goo-monger on January 1, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

All the Democrats need to do is to get someone to put forward a bill legalizing these activities (even if such a law would later get struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional) while condemning the Bush administration for not doing so themselves. The Democrat looks like the parent stepping in, a solution is offered, and the Democrats can show that they'd support many of the powers granted by the PATRIOT Act if only there were judicial oversight. Thus, they can be strong on both national security and personal rights, while pinning the Bush administration (and, on its coattails, the Republican party) as abusing its power.

Posted by: the good reverend on January 1, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

The picture might be real. Cheney spent the day in the WH's bunker while Dubya flew around the country. But IIRC Dubya did get back to DC around 8-9pm so could have been in the same room as Cheney late at night.

"Give me Liberty or Give Me Death" - Patrick Henry. I don't see any room in that statement for allowing the King to read their mail, as long as the King is looking for something else. People died for these freedoms, people, and we're willing to give them up?

What's next? Will the President be allowed to search my house without a warrant? Hey, only the guilty have something to hide - isn't that the mantra?

Posted by: VOR on January 1, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats.

I've got two words for you: Joe Lieberman. The man always there to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for the Dems when the Iraq war or Bush's national security "policies" threaten to become legitimate political issues for the Left.

Posted by: Doofus on January 1, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democratic leaders are always trying to straddle every issue, ever dreadfully afraid of the affect of any clear and crisp position that they might take, there is no sense in calling the people at large stupid for not caring for the resulting mushy message.

Exactly. Republicans have grown skilled in making people afraid of everything from air travel to the US mail; and yet Democrats cannot figure out a way to get people to be scared about fundamental erosions of their liberty and privacy?!

This issue has all kinds of potential for Democrats. It is true that many Americans have been willing to look the other way as the liberties of people besides themselves was restricted. As long as the government has only been trampling on the liberties of a relatively small number of men of Middle Eastern descent, a lot of Americans have remained complacent, and even approved.

But now, every single American who has ever browsed a porn site, or written an email to a secret lover, or joked about smoking pot or doing some other drug over the phone, or confessed some youthful crime to an interlocutor, or talked smack about some relative or friend behind their backs, or admitted to a girlfried that she aborted her husband's baby without his knowledge, or discussed some clandestine homosexual liaison, or said he despises the president, or talked about cheating on his taxes, or made an ill-advised racist crack, or told a confidant about some disease they have that they would prefer not to divulge, is now worried that the government is spying on them, listening to them, taking over their computers with super-spook spyware - and that someone, somewhere now has some dirt on them that could be used against them at some point in the future.

I have to believe that for most Americans, this is an extremely creepy and hair-raising prospect. It is a nightmare straight out of some paranoid thriller, and is fraught with incredible political potential for anyone with the smarts to make use of it.


Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

That's unpossible!

"...it would be a matter of utter unpossibility to stow away in my hold even one fourth part of that same liquor which your Majesty just mentioned. To say nothing of the stuffs placed on board in the forenoon by way of ballast, and not to mention the various ales and liqueurs shipped this evening at various seaports, I have, at present, a full cargo of 'humming stuff' taken in and duly paid for at the sign of the 'Jolly Tar.' You will, therefore, please your majesty, be so good as to take the will for the deed--for by no manner of means either can I or will I swallow another drop--least of all a drop of that villainous bilge-water that answers to the name of 'Black Strap.'"

Posted by: Legs on January 1, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The good news:

The war on terrorism is progressing just fine.

The bad news:

Republicans control the definition of the word "terrorism."

Interpreting the good and bad news:

I agree with the defeatism of Kevin's post.
Only I go further-- I've written this country off to the republicans.
They can have it.
And die for it.
Pay taxes for it...
And all that other happy patriotic shit.

Me?

I'm just visiting and collecting a paycheck...

Posted by: koreyel on January 1, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

But now, every single American who has ever browsed a porn site, or written an email to a secret lover, or joked about smoking pot or doing some other drug over the phone, or confessed some youthful crime to an interlocutor, or talked smack about some relative or friend behind their backs, or admitted to a girlfried that she aborted her husband's baby without his knowledge, or discussed some clandestine homosexual liaison, or said he despises the president, or talked about cheating on his taxes, or made an ill-advised racist crack, or told a confidant about some disease they have that they would prefer not to divulge, is now worried that the government is spying on them, listening to them, taking over their computers with super-spook spyware - and that someone, somewhere now has some dirt on them that could be used against them at some point in the future.

No. They aren't. As usual, you people are talking to yourselves. Nobody out in the real world is hysterical about this, despite the media's best efforts to coat it in a thick layer of innuendo and anonymous sources.

Back when the Plame thing was taking off, I said that the key would eventually be Miller. The key to this one is who these leakers are, and when those names come out, wait and see what happens.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK
This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats.

If you think it is depressing, why are you being part of the problem? The only way this is a "clear loser" is if pundits -- especially those on the left -- jump into partisan political analysis rather than dealing with the substantive issues. That's what frames the controversy, which is fairly obviously not a particularly partisan political issue, but one of adherence to the law where there is plenty of evidence that the concerns cross party lines, as yet another simple Republicans v. Democrats issue and gets the public to tune out the details and judge it superficially.

Once again the president will be allowed to paint this as an issue of either wholeheartedly supporting the fight against terrorism or else being one of those whiny liberals who's allied with Osama in all but name.

And, once again, Kevin Drum will complain about the lack of attention to substance, while at the same time being an accomplice in the trivialization of the policy dispute by highlighting, instead of the substance, concerns about how it turns out in terms of partisan advantage, making him one of the bevy of nominally "liberal" pundits that serves principally to reinforce the belief that the defenders of executive tyranny are trying to sell to avoid public outcry -- that is, the belief that critics are principally concerned not with civil liberties or the rule of law or national security, or some combination of those, but partisan advantage.

If you want to make it harder for abusers of the public trust to sell the side you are on as being motivated by partisan advantage to the point of compromising commitments to substantive concerns of government, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to resort to complaining about the bad partisan political results you assume will result from a controversy instead of pressing on the substantive issues that tell why the average American should be concerned about the controversy.

Democrats would be a lot more successful if virtually every Democratic-leaning pundit from the blogosphere to the mainstream media didn't have an idiotic tendency to prematurely start bemoaning the impending political loss coming from every issue rather than keeping up with focus on the substantive issue.

Seriously, why do so many people feel the need to start placing blame for a loss that hasn't happened yet as soon as controversy starts rather than actually fighting to win on the merits?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 1, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody out in the real world is hysterical about this

Gee Tom, I agree in one respect, I've never considered Willam Safire a bonafide member of the "real world", despite his occasional burst of lyrical brilliance.

Happy New Year, by the way.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 1, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

ALERT: It looks like we're going to find out a lot more from James Risen, whose book "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" is coming out in JANUARY.

I can't wait!!! This is January!!!!


Posted by: nepeta on January 1, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Once again the president will be allowed to paint this as an issue of either wholeheartedly supporting the fight against terrorism or else being one of those whiny liberals who's allied with Osama in all but name."

Fuck no...if concerned Americans ceaslessly rail against the criminals and destructors of the US currently occupying the White House, giving them no quarter until the accomplice republican Congress has no choice but to start what should have been undertaken 3 years ago: impeachment.proceedings

*** impeachment, conviction, the Hague, and prison for the bushcriminal in '06 ****

Posted by: justfred on January 1, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Dan,

I'm not afraid of anything. The GOP isn't using fear. They're going with common sense. 9/11 means we are at war. This isn't a police action. We don't need to ask the French or Germans to help us. There's little they can add. We need to find these people and kill them. We need to find the people who are helping them and kill them as well. If NSA data mining helps us do that we need to do it.

It's the liberals who are constantly on the side of protecting the terrorists and making it harder for the military and intelligence agencies to do their job. You've got 10 different fools out there yelling impeachment without ever considering if this is a valuable tool for stopping terrorists. This was always about partisan politics and never about anything else. And both Kevin and Steve were leading the charge.

Kevin s/b feeling sick. He's starting to realize just how clueless he's been.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the story of James Risen's book (out in January! on the NSA story!) from NPR. So did Risen's book force the Times to publish?

He also said there was a second, hidden reason for the timing of the story.

"The author of this article had turned in a book three months ago," Cornyn said, "and the New York Times failed to reveal that the urgent story was tied to a book's release and sale."

Times reporter James Risen's book State of War on intelligence matters is due out next month from Simon & Schuster.


However, several Times journalists told NPR that Cornyn has it backwards. They said the Times published the article reluctantly, and not to promote Risen's book. They would not be identified because the Times won't let editors or reporters comment on the NSA article.

Much of the research for the story had been completed before the November 2004 elections. These journalists told NPR that Risen and his colleague Eric Lichtblau lobbied for the article to be published far earlier than it was.

But the Times held back after government officials said the article would compromise their ability to track terrorists. In a statement, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said government officials convinced the newspaper that the president had the legal authority to order the wiretaps. Keller said subsequent reporting showed there were deep divisions within the administration about the extent of Bush's authority.

Times journalists told NPR the approaching release of Risen's book forced senior editors to focus grudgingly on the NSA story. They otherwise would have been scooped in a book by one of their own correspondents. (Risen had been on book leave for the first five months of 2005, according to the Times.)


Posted by: nepeta on January 1, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Risen's book has been pushed up a couple of weeks, coming out on Tuesday, now. Wonder if it will sell as well as the barrage of anti-Bush books that came out before the last election.

I also notice that Newsweek seems a lot more certain about Ashcroft's attitude than the New York Times was. Guess their anonymous sources are better than the Times' ones are.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

I am as much cynicalas any one else about the Dems' ability to restrain from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but hey Kevin, cheer up, it's only January 1.

Posted by: lib on January 1, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

What's next? Will the President be allowed to search my house without a warrant? Hey, only the guilty have something to hide - isn't that the mantra?

That certainly has been the mantra lately in discussions of government spying. And I laugh everytime I read it, since I assume that at least 95 out of every hundred people do indeed have something to hide, in the sense that there is something that they would strongly prefer certain other people not learn. I suspect there are two main interpretations that explain the use of the "nothing to hide" mantra.

First there are those who do want to complain a bit about government spying. But they think: "If I complain, people will think I have something to hide. And I do have something to hide - just like everyone does. But I don't want people to think I have something to hide. Because who knows, someone might get curious and look into it, and find out what it is. Maybe even some government spook who is monitoring this site will get curious. So I'd better issue a little preemptive 'I have nothing to hide statement' disclaimer to throw off the scent!"

Of course, nobody believes you when you say this. So why even bother.

The other thought behind the mantra is this: "Of course I have something to hide. But I'm a good, loyal Bushbot, and our guys are in charge. So they will never go after me, or use the dirt to intimidate me. They will only go after all those disloyal pinko liberals! Yet I can't give my pinko liberal interlocutors the satisfaction of admitting that we almost all have something to hide. So I'm going to posture as a pure-as-snow Clean Jean, who never does or says anything that fears exposure."

Well, here's a little reminder for you wingnuts: You're not going to be in charge forever. Someday my liberal, pinko, traitor friends and I are going to take over. And if this little spying program you have started is entrenched by then, we're the ones who are going to have access to the dirt. And we've got a few Karl Roves of our own who won't hesitate to use it.

So when President Obama is in charge, I don't want to see any criticism on those cranky right-wing websites, got it? No subversive right-wing email; no off-color cracks; no critical letters to the editor. Understand? I don't think Mrs. Wingnut would like to get an anonymous letter about the time you screwed her sister. And I don't think your gay boss would like to hear about the time you called him a "brainless cocksucking douchebag", or about all those AA meetings you go to. And I don't think your black co-worker would be very pleased to learn about the time you called him a name that decency forbids me to use; and I can think of several things that I don't think the little Wingnut sprouts would like to learn about dad. Oh, and remember the time you got mad and made that vaguely threatening remark about President Obama? Well, the Secret Service doesn't laugh at that stuff at all.

So enjoy your little moment of safety while you've got it, my Red State friends, because we're coming for you.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Back when the Plame thing was taking off, I said that the key would eventually be Miller. The key to this one is who these leakers are, and when those names come out, wait and see what happens.

This is your way of claiming prescience? Or apologizing for chronic know-nothing-itis? Because the key was Miller, how?

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it?

Well, it is annoying as hell to hear you, Kevin Drum, a frequently very smart guy, throwing in the towel instead of standing in and fighting on the merits.

this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats.

If you thought hard about it, I think you would withdraw this sentence and apologize for it. You sound like Mike K.

President wipes ass with Law and Democrats are the worse for it. Talk about defeatism.

I'm not sure I want that attitude on my team...

Posted by: obscure on January 1, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dan:

You know, you make a very good point. Maybe the reason the Left sees Big Brother in everything the administration does with surveillance is because this is exactly what they would do if they were in charge.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

At the very least, we can't let them get away with using rhetorical tricks of language to imply that the only people being monitored were Al Queda.

Everything we know about this program suggests it was much broader, and likely used for much less noble purposes - or else they wouldn't have avoided FISA.

Posted by: tinfoil on January 1, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats would be a lot more successful if virtually every Democratic-leaning pundit from the blogosphere to the mainstream media didn't have an idiotic tendency to prematurely start bemoaning the impending political loss coming from every issue rather than keeping up with focus on the substantive issue.

They didn't start bemoaning the loss. They started celebrating the possibility of impeachment along with such fools as Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Teddy K, Jonothan Alter, Howard Fineman, etc., etc., The Democrats led with impeachment charges and phoney outrage over a loss of privacy without a clue as to who's privacy was violated. It's was pure unadulterated partisanship. At no point have you asked if this was a valuable tool to track terrorists. To my kowledge you still have not.


Seriously, why do so many people feel the need to start placing blame for a loss that hasn't happened yet as soon as controversy starts rather than actually fighting to win on the merits?

Because the Rasmussen poll was so decisive.

People are following the story, as if they could get away from it, and they understand Bush authorized warrantless searches. That might be the only thing they know. Yet by 2/3's they support it. In this environment that's a landslide. There is NO way a politician is going against the wishes of 2/3's of the people on a naitonal security after seeing what it got Max Cleland and Tom Daschle. Further consider that 90% of the remaining 1/3 are from CA and NY and you have an even better picture of your weak political position. It's easy for you to criticize but they have to run before the voters.


BTW: I know you won't listen but your party has to forget Vietnam, Watergate and Bill Clintons impeachment. No matter what happens it's a repeat of Vietnam or Watergate or an opportunity to impeach GWB. You constantly look as if your hair is on fire.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

You've got 10 different fools out there yelling impeachment without ever considering if this is a valuable tool for stopping terror

Oh yeah. The Quakers and PETA are a huge threat to American lives and liberty. The issue here is that most of the MSM, and probably most voters, don't understand the Constitution. Checks and balances, sound familiar? After 9/11 there was a brief movement to legally mandate instruction on the Constitution in public schools, and before those of us greybeards over the age of 35 could get over the fact that this was needed, it was judged superfluous. I think every blowhard cable TV pundit should have to pass a high school civics test from before 1980 before being allowed to speak on camera. The forced retirement of Chris Matthews, Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity would just be the icing on this cake.

Posted by: Jim on January 1, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dan:

You know, you make a very good point. Maybe the reason the Left sees Big Brother in everything the administration does with surveillance is because this is exactly what they would do if they were in charge.

Hmmmm....interesting. Yes indeed, who knows? In any case, keep thinking that thought tbrosz!

In fact, maybe I'll apply for the job myself. So many records of intercepted emails and phone calls, and so little time! It will be a data maining gold rush for the left. And remember this: Vee haff vays of enforcing the politikal korrectness!

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

So enjoy your little moment of safety while you've got it, my Red State friends, because we're coming for you.

Who's we you twit?

Unlike most libs, Red State types actually know people who serve in the military, defense, police, etc. They really don't give a crap about snivelling blue state libs afraid of their own shadows. Plus you're too friggin boring.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

jim,

So much for civil rights. I can understand the forced retirements of everyoen there but Chris. He'd like Bush impeached as much as anyone

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

You know, Kevin, I really don't care how this helps or hurts the Democrats. This is about our rights as Americans. You are not old enough to remember Watergate, but at bottom the same issue is presented by the President's spying program. Is the President above the law. If he is then we should just get it over and name him king. If he isn't, we have to stand up and just say "NO."

Anyway, I don't think you understand just how disturbing this scandal is for folks. The polls aren't framing it right, but the folks I know are all taking it very seriously. You should too.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 1, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, Kevin, it sounds as if you came back a little bit soon. Whiny, partisan defeatism isn't attractive, and this was an un-edifying start to the year.

Spend some more time doing things you enjoy with people you love. Take some long walks. Think of the constitution. Think of the sweeping powers claimed by this incompetent, criminal clique.

Posted by: Nell on January 1, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

You know, Kevin, I really don't care how this helps or hurts the Democrats.

Thank you for coming right out and saying it. The truth is that Bush is wrong, and whether this is "poitically good" for the Democrats takes a back seat to whether we want a country in which the president claims he can disobey the law at will.

The important thing for any political officeholder worth his salt is to take a stand on something that he already knows is right (in this case, that the president must obey the that) even if it's not necessarily something which pays off political dividends.

Posted by: Constantine on January 1, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Who's we you twit?

Unlike most libs, Red State types actually know people who serve in the military, defense, police, etc. They really don't give a crap about snivelling blue state libs afraid of their own shadows. Plus you're too friggin boring.

Yeah, yeah. That's what Jeff Davis said.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Only I go further-- I've written this country off to the republicans."

A wonderful idea. But what sort of a tax break do I get?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Regarding the various tbozo posts up above:

You must be young enough to have acne on both your ass and your face. And no, this is not a post suggesting you learn to control your bacterial infections by washing your hands. Rather, since you so implicitly trust BIG GOVERNMENT when it is in the hands of the repuglicans, and apparently distrust it when it is in the hands of the Dimocrats, I suggest the very least you should do is offer your mouth up this year as a fuck hole for Your King.

In other words, since you aren't bright enough to realize that "Absolute Power Corrupts Abosolutely..."

Get down on your knees like a good wittle boy and say: AHHHH....

(What a dimwitted motherfucker... you sure tbozo isn't a dimocrat?)

Posted by: Christian Charlie's Ghost on January 1, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin Drum: Dems always lose so we might as well let bush solidify the US as a fascist state. (how 'bout another week off Kevin?)

Posted by: zoot on January 1, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, to you little coward, you might be swo fearful that you think the president has to break the law to save your cowardly ass from terrorism in your budding metropolis of suburban pennsylvania, but I assure you that your local police force and mayor does a hell of a lot more to keep you ungrateful ass alive than Bush's monitoring of PETA and the Quakers-- and they have to do stuff like, you know, obey they law when worrying about how to keep you safe.

Posted by: Constantine on January 1, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Plus you're too friggin boring.

Please leave then. Your bombastic jingoism provides zero intellectual stimulation, and clogs up the boards.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 1, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how many times in the last five years (at least when the NYTimes had no walls) that Paul Krugman asked the media to stand up to the Rove and the administration. Time and again they wimped out. Again we wait.

A good review of Dylan's It alright Ma.. is in order
http://bobdylan.com/songs/itsalright.html

Posted by: worldserious on January 1, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Plus you're too friggin boring.

I love how our resident right wing crazies think that the opposite of "boring" is "mindless repetition of right-wing talking points and faux-outrage at liberals' criticism."

tbrosz and rdw exist in a moral void where they through hyperactive temper tantrums whenever someone deigns to criticize bush or make him look bad while they lack any moral ability to actually be bothered by Bush's incompetence or failures of his own. Once again, they are those who view their leaders like a child views his parents, while it falls upon the liberals to view their leaders like an adult views his parents.

Posted by: Constantine on January 1, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

Kevin is the example of why you should drop the constant Watergate references. 1st off it does not resonate with the half of the voting public under 50. 2nd it does not resonate with that 50% of the voting public over 50 and still sane. This is perfectly born out by the 23% in the Rasmussen poll bothered by events. That's small.

If you have an example of Bush or someone else using intelligenc agencies to spy on Americans to get political dirt then bring up Watergate. Otherwise you are just another liberal with your hair on fire.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, the Watergate comparison is true. There is no other justification needed. Kevin is not running a political campaign. His job is to provide insight using facts. Just because the Watergate comparison gets you upset and causes you to wet your pants does not make it any less true.

Posted by: Constantine on January 1, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike most libs, Red State types actually know people who serve in the military, defense, police, etc.

Some 30 Iraq vets are now running for congress as Democrats. Quick, guess how many Iraq vets are running as Republicans. I believe the number is two, but you may correct me if I'm wrong.

All but two of the veterans in congress today are Democrats. Why won't Republican vets run for office? If they do run, why do they lose? Does Iraq service turn them into Democrats?

Why did my 60s Army sevice (E-5) turn me into a lifelong liberal? When did YOU serve?

Posted by: Repack Rider on January 1, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

i haven't seen ol' rdw posting in a little while (although i could have missed it), but it's reassuring to know that he/she is still as clueless and stupid as ever.

not a single orignal thought, simply the doltish repetition of whatever the propaganda robots are dutifully reciting, whether it's the nonsense that the rasmussen poll proved anything or the nonesense that everything is make-up for the clinton impeachment or just every other piece of nitwit swill that circulates among the ill-informed.

truly pathetic.

as for kevin's post, i'll just agree with those who say that there is no reason to assume this will be framed in a pro-bush way: actual conservatives, for instance, have noted the gross expansion of presidential powers that this program relies upon. Running against the lawless presidency of the dishonest Bush and reminding people of just how bad his judgement is doesn't strike me as a losing position to take into 2006.

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

on top of everything else, rdw, it's clear that you don't understand watergate: the issue in watergate was presidential lawlessness, just as it is here.

and really, stop embarassing yourself by citing the rasmussen poll: i approve of wiretapping potential security threats without a warrant too. i simply approve of it when it's done legally, through FISA. when rasmussen asks that question - "do you approve of illegally wiretapping american citizens by going around the FISA court?" - and gets a 64% yes, then you've got something to say.

it will, of course, be a cold day in hell when that happens (that is, when a propaganda robot like you has something to say).

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

About that quarter, my sleigh broke down and the Easter Bunny was too drunk to give me a ride...

In fantasyland constitutional disagreements are well defined and there's a force field up based on public opinion to enforce the borders.

Sure I can throw out facts and demonstrate clearly how Democratic/Pluralist politicians have gutted the entire premise of the constitution (that ancient document made by rich white men to be used to keep the poor and non-whites under control - look ma, I'm a liberal) in order to further their goals. Laughing all the way, ha ha ha, calming the nerves of strict constructionists by explaining it is a "living document" intended to be expanded and altered.

Let's see, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Interstate Commerce Clause, 14th Amendment, 6th Amendment, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, unfunded state mandates, Use of executive branch to create administrative laws bypassing Congress, Internal Revenue Service, etc.

Now, we can quibble over which political party is worse, but I think you'll miss the point.

Constitutional protections don't exist based on popularity. The first amendment is not up for Prom Queen. Article II is not running for County Commissioner.

Stop acting like little children accusing everyone in class of stealing your pencil and then finding it behind your ear.

FACT 1: FISA - Congress DID authorize warrantless taps in legislation. Democrats and Republicans in Congress were advised about Bush's use of that authority and had 3 years to overturn it.

FACT 2: Every President, Democratic and Republican believed they could and did act this way. So this is not about Bush, it's a legitimate issue about Presidential authority.

FACT 3: Supreme Court authority to declare a law or action unconstitutional comes from a Supreme Court decision long before there were any Republicans. See how easy it is to just make up the rules as you go along?

Need I really say more? Oh, and about that quarter, due to depreciation based on the Populist's (I call them liberals) call to dump the gold standard, you now owe me $432.23. Please, no food stamps.

Posted by: Jeff Barea on January 1, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Constantine,

I'm not a coward. I am not afraid. I just have an opinion that liberal elitists are morons. I am glad you have so high an opinion of yourself and your elitist peers. But I am even happier yet a majority of Americans do not share this high esteem you have for yourself.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

rdw

I meant it. I really don't care how this helps or hurts Democrats.

I referred to Watergate because this issue is constitutional. We either have a king, or we have a democracy.

The problem with Bush's secret program is that he knew the congress wouldn't go along with it, so he didn't ask. What the fuck kinda program wouldn't the congress go along with in the days following 9/11. I don't know yet, but it had to be pretty damn far out there. Don't you think? If it wasn't that far out there, then Bush is just a scofflaw. Either way, he claims to be above the law, and that just can't be allowed to pass. I think there are a lot of Republicans who agree.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 1, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Tbroz. Nice summary. These are calls, remember, originating from only some phone numbers outside the US. So far, none of the hysterics here has explained how this has caused any actual, tangible harm.

Posted by: lab on January 1, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why does John Ashcroft hate America?

Posted by: justmy2 on January 1, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

And not one of the lefties posting here have any idea whether the program is legal or not. Not one. Just. Hot. Air.

Posted by: lab on January 1, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Some 30 Iraq vets are now running for congress as Democrats. Quick, guess how many Iraq vets are running as Republicans. I believe the number is two, but you may correct me if I'm wrong.

Sure. Most of those 36 or so (at last count)veterans are not Iraqi war veterans, but either peacetime veterans or Gulf War veterans. I think one article mentioned nine Iraq veterans, one of which was a Republican, but I have yet to see a complete tally on either side.

The lower number of Iraq veterans is probably more an issue of age than anything else--Iraq war veterans would tend to be younger and not as ready for political office.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Happy New Year, Kevin! Welcome to the United Soviet States of America!

Posted by: josef on January 1, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

So far, none of the hysterics here has explained how this has caused any actual, tangible harm.

So, lab, is it your position that no illegal activity should be prosecuted or even investigated, unless it causes actual, tangible harm?

I've always disagreed with right wingers, but in times past I could at least respect some of them for their integrity. That's getting harder and harder these days. There's nothing Bush could do that they wouldn't sell their souls to justify. No principle of liberty that they won't betray for partisan advantage.

Posted by: Wilbur on January 1, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

As to the Rasmussen poll: Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the poll question leave out the pertinent notion that these taps were warrentless and therefore illegal, i.e., the pollster did not ask people if they thought warrentless taps were OK, only if they had a problem with taps on suspected terrorists? So the poll results were hopelessly skewed.

And as to the person whose call acknowledging the gift of socks might be tapped--what if NSA, or DoD or CIA or any other agency that shared NSA data, decided that "socks" was code for yellowcake uranium? Would you then find it more intrusive if a file on you and your aunt was started, and all of your friends and aquaintences had their e-communications tapped, and your boss and your neighbors and everyone you've met were questioned about your reading habits, work habits, conversation, and the like? Joseph K didn't do anything wrong, either, and look what happened to him

Posted by: Dan S on January 1, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

FACT 4: I am a either 1) an idiot or 2) a liar

Posted by: Jeff Barea on January 1, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Constantine, Howard,

I am trying to help you out here.


Have you noticed that since the Rasmussen poll no one except the whacko's speak of impeachment? Think that's just an odd coincidence do you? Kevin was one of the 1st out of the gate on that one. The boy creamed his pants. From the sounds of it now he's not able to get it up.

The key to Watergate was Nixon covering up illegal acts which were done to give him political advantage. The illegal acts were generated by his desire to harm his political enemies. It was about Tricky Dick.

Bush isn't spying on the DNC. There's nothing he's done that is remotely partisan or for political gain. He is trying to find terrorists. That's a huge distinction and makes it totally unlike Watergate.

When you are making the comparison it is solely and obviously partisanship. That's wht Kevin is so crestfallen. He saw this a purely an opportunity to get Bush and he realizes it's a stone loser for the Dems. He didn't say this but he's hoping voters forget it by November. He knows the GOP holds a substantial edge on the leading of national security and it just got wider.

"IF" you had approached this as a civil liberties issue with a concern for protecting civil liberties WHILE AGGRESSIVELY HUNTING TERRORISTS you would have had a very good political issue.

I understand the press and the constant Watergate references. They've been getting
beat up for a while and that recalls for them the glory days. I can't understand a political pundit. They know there's only so many times you can yell the 'sky is falling' before you are forever a fool.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, with all due respect. Your take on this is exactly why Dems could have that outcome. Why don't you make the GOP argument for them!

If you want my full response, and I'm sure you will, go here:

http://greyhairsblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/did-i-miss-something.html

Posted by: Mike on January 1, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dan S.

The poll was far from perfect. But it was better than most. 68% have been following the story. The ONLY reason it's a story is because the searches were WARRANTLESS. You can't have been following the story and not know the searches were warrantless.

Knowing the searches were warrantless almost 2/3's of Americans SUPPORT Bush.

Kevin is crestfallen, as was Steve, because they realize this is a good poll and it is a DISASTER.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP isn't using fear.

That's funny! "Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm"

Posted by: josef on January 1, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

The key to Watergate was Nixon covering up illegal acts which were done to give him political advantage.

Sort of like Libby's (alleged) illegal outage of Plame for political advantage, eh? With the (probably) connivance of his boss, Cheney.

And in speaking of such people you expect us to believe the following, on the basis of absolutely no evidence:

Bush isn't spying on the DNC. There's nothing he's done that is remotely partisan or for political gain. He is trying to find terrorists. That's a huge distinction and makes it totally unlike Watergate.

How do you know he isn't spying on the DNC? How do you know that he has done nothing for political gain? How do you know that ALL he is trying to do is "find terrorists"? Do you have any evidence whatsoever for your statements, or are we just supposed to trust Bush blindly?

Posted by: Wilbur on January 1, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats.

Ahh...that's the attitude I want to hear. The President of the United States, who is in the writer's opposing party, admits on national television that he has broken the law and intends to continue to do so. And the writer's reaction, stick a fork in me, I'm done? I am back from vacation and I'd like to move on to talk about bigger and better things, like the new season of 24 and Survivor.

Remember Kevin, those that stand for nothing will fall for anything. And the DLC wonders why so many Americans are independents and think the Democratic Party is filled people who are scared to push back and fight for their beliefs. If the Democratic Party truly believes the President should be held to account for his actions, they shouldn't try to sit around and think about polls.

John Kerry's biggest strength was his military record, and what did Karl Rove do to negate that. Attack it head on.

Now some Democrats, such as Kevin, are handed a gift horse and they look it in the mouth. What a pathetic lot? Would you like some cheese with that whine? If Democrats can't win an argument that POTUS should not be able to break the law with impugnity, after it was thrown in their face for 10 years, they deserve to be the permanent minority party.

Unfortunately, the American people deserve a true alternative.

Posted by: justmy2 on January 1, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bush claims that his actions are justified because we are "at war." He keeps reiterating that Sadaam had to go. Wait a minute I thought 9/11 was something else?

Folks, this crap about national security is scary stuff. Especially when you consider the fact that GWB wanted to take out Sadaam before 2000 (1999 campaign).

Heck, we've been bombing Iraq for 15 years now.

My point is, we aren't being given the whole truth about 9/11, why the wire-tapping, or the destruction of Iraq.

"You're either with us or against us." (GWB)

Think how convenient it is for George to label a "war-on-terrorism" and con everyone into letting him engage in executive tyranny, commit impeachable offenses while cloaking everything with a faith-based mantra about...

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 1, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

CIP (after being slapped by somebody) - thanks I needed that.

Usual suspect - ...so what is someone at the NSA was listening in when my aunt in Paris called me last week? What is somebody in the govt going to do with the information that I got the socks she sent??? What is the risk here?

The risk here is that the spying was used illegitimately. We know the courts refused some warrants - who exactly did the President want to spy on? The New York Times? Joe Wilson? John Kerry?

We've seen this movie before. Bush, like Nixon, conflates political opponents with the enemies of the country. Let's remember that Nixon, besides burglarizing Americans, contemplated setting up concentration camps for his opponents. Just how close, tbroz, do we need to get to a fascist dictatorship before you start to get nervous?

Maybe Bush's use of the NSA was for valid purposes, and otherwise harmless. If Congress does it's job, it will find out. If it finds out that he used the NSA for domestical political purposes, he should be impeached, and promptly.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on January 1, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -- apparantly playing dijeridoos alleviate sleep apnea. Not kidding.

Posted by: Boronx on January 1, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

has anyone run a search for quotes like "the president is bound by the law" dating to the clinton impeachment and uttered by currently sitting members of congress and other people in the administration? I'm pretty sure there are plenty of those, not just quotes from dead guys who wrote the constitution and then died 200 years ago.

Posted by: supersaurus on January 1, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Kool-Aid guzzlers have a "gallant leader" named Twigless who proudly proclaims he does not follow polls, yet the guzzlers stagger drunkenly and swoon over Rasmussen's incomplete poll.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

The fat lady's been singing since the first Abu Ghraib revelations resulted in barely a ripple amongst the hoi polloi. She's reaching her climactic crescendo while you dither about whether GWB, or whoever's POTUS, is king or just Imperium Personum.

The republic is already kaput. Whine away.

You woke up too late for dinner.

Posted by: Banquos ghost on January 1, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

RDW,

I'm sorry, but "You can't have been following the story and not know the searches were warrantless" doesn't quite cut it. A poll question that assumes knowledge that the polled may not have is likely invalid (and no, I'm not talking about common knowledge like the sun rising in the east). If it were so, then the 40 some-odd percent of Americans that still poll as believing that Saddam was linked to 9/11, despite massive news coverage that it just wasn't true, would be worth taking into consideration rather than being pathetically ill-informed.

Posted by: Dan S on January 1, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

And not one of the lefties posting here have any idea whether the program is legal or not. Not one. Just. Hot. Air.

I think there is ample evidence that someone in the Bush administration has exceeded his statutory authority, lab. The warrantless searches authorized by 102(a)(i) of FISA are permissible only if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that:

(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

I assume it is subsection (i) which is in play here. Now, we are given to understand from the news reports that the surveillance being conducted is not limited to the "contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers", even when "foreign powers" is understood according to the definitions in other parts of the statute to include any members of international terrorist groups, even those members that might be US citizens. Rather the objects of the surveillance are reported to include communications that are not at all "used exclusively by foreign powers", no matter how inclusively the term "foreign powers" might be used. The administration is tapping the communications of people for whom there exists no evidence linking them to terrorist groups. The aim is to mine broad swaths of communications in order to find out whether there might be some terrorist needles in the haystack. You might think this is fine and dandy, and that it out to be legal. But according to the laws under which we are currently governed, it is not legal.

Now, if these are indeed the kinds of communications being tapped, then either the Attorney General did make the written certifications decribed in the statute, in which case he perjured himself, or he did not make those certifications and Bush ordered them anyway, in which case Bush's orders were illegal.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

Neither Watergate nor Clinton's impeachment were serious constitutional issues in the sense that Congress was after each for Presidential intrusion on their constitutional powers. Clinton and Nixon violated long established laws and were unquestionably guilty. They then threw up legal smokescreens claiming Presidential immunity. And they lost every one thus losing Presidential power. Neither faced impeachment due to constitutional issues.

In this case Bush is claiming warrantless search powers under the constitution. He is not trying to cover up some other act. It's all about this claim. There are no other charges. You can have an opinion these rights are constitutional or not but you cannot deny there is a legitimate disagreement among legal professionals and if it is to be pursued it will be a Supreme Court decision.

They sharpest distinction remains GWBs intention. He was not spying on George Clooney or Tom Daschle. He was looking for terrorists.

As a political issue the bozo's in your party blew it as they do so often.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

"So far, none of the hysterics here has explained how this has caused any actual, tangible harm."

it takes quite a simpleton to make such a statement.

a) except for whistleblowers willing to risk all for the truth, how would anyone know about the harm inflicted by a president that has no problem by-passing the law - the repukelican called government steadfastly refuses to investigate the multiprogged wrong doing of the bushcriminal regime.

b) eviscerating the rule of law and the checks and balances that are the cornerstone of the US Constitution does irreparable harm in and of itself, for this particular instance, as well as for all the untold future instances where a president invents metaphorical war in order to ursurp the constitution and claim unlimited, unchecked power (BTW, such a governing condition is called a military state).

c) the facts of this particular illegal program by the buchcriminal are far from fully revealed as yet.

d) appeals for many criminal convictions are in the process of being filed specifically because the evidence used in gaining the convitions may have been tainted by the bushcriminal's illegal acts.

Posted by: justfred on January 1, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

As to the Rasmussen poll: Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the poll question leave out the pertinent notion that these taps were warrentless and therefore illegal, i.e., the pollster did not ask people if they thought warrentless taps were OK, only if they had a problem with taps on suspected terrorists? So the poll results were hopelessly skewed.

Most of the people who took that poll knew quite well what wiretaps were being discussed, and assuming that all of them treated the question as an abstract one instead of dealing with what has been in the news for days is a little silly.

Look around you. What are the Democrats who are actually up for a competitive election in 2006 saying about this issue?

...one of those whiny liberals who's allied with Osama in all but name.

Look at all of the issues pertaining to the war on terror or the war in Iraq over the past year. Which side has the Democratic Party leadership appear to have been taking in each and every case?

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Dan S,

You and I can continue to argue all night if Rasmussen was valid. It's valid if it has influence and if you read kevin and Steve you know it does. Rusmussen is a highly reputable pollster who has been around for a good while. No politician is going to ignore such a powerful message.

It's very hard to get 2/3's to agree on anything in this era. But they do not this. The mesage is unambigious. The people want these searches done. The move now will be how to do it and protect civil liberties.

Kevin and Steve are just much clearer headed on this than you.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

d) appeals for many criminal convictions are in the process of being filed specifically because the evidence used in gaining the convictions may have been tainted by the bushcriminal's illegal acts.

Actually, since the Left has declared that this program generated no real benefits or arrests, the criminals you're talking about, the ones complaining that an "illegal" program was responsible for their current status, apparently don't exist.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Rasmussen poll did not ask people about warrantless searches. It asked about interception of conversations in general between Americans and individuals overseas known to be AQ. These wiretaps are perfectly legal with a FISA warrant.

Of course this won't stop the wingnuts who hate freedom and democracy, and who view the president as an elected King, from claiming that this poll proves something about the public's view of warrants, which the wingnuts hate, and want to eliminate, since warrants represent an intrusion on the president's royal powers. The poll did NOT ask people about warrants, or his failure to seek them even when a secret rubberstamp court was available to him for that very purpose. It just asked whether they approved of the wiretaps in general, without stating outright that they might be illegal. Even I approve of wiretaps if a known AQ person is on the other end of the line and the government secures a warrant for the wiretap to make it legal.

The fact that only 64% of respondents approved of legal wiretaps and 36% disapproved of even those out to tell the wingnuts something about this crap "political capital" they think they're holding. How do you think that "64%" will hold up once the question becomes one about getting illegal wiretaps?

Just keep on selling that police state, idiots. Everyone wants to live in a police state. Everyone is just like you.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 1, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

"He was looking for terrorists"

Yeah, just like Tommy Franks and higher officials in DoD calling off using military forces in Tora Bora when we had Osama on the ropes. Two Midland boys "really looking" for Osama.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

mm,

where did you get your 36% genius?

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

100-64

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 1, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

3rd Paul,

Come, it can't be that hard. GWB needs to keep people afraid. Isn't Osama more valuable alive than dead?

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

MM

Figured that. Too bad it doesn't work that way. Some people don't have an opinion. Look at the poll.

No doubt the 68% polled who were following the story were more aware of the basic facts than you are. They knew the searches were warrantless.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Brosz

I was disappointed when you were tag-teaming with Al, but that was positively stellar compared to your current slumming. Aren't you just a little bit ashamed?

Come, it can't be that hard. GWB needs to keep people afraid. Isn't Osama more valuable alive than dead?

Nice parody. More coherent than the original.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 1, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Really Dumb Wootten,

Tell that, you stupid ASS, to the families of those killed in the World Trade Center.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Actually, since the Left has declared that this program generated no real benefits or arrests, the criminals you're talking about..."

what a dumbass bush licking sycophant. Whether or not any convictions eventually get overturned due to the bushcriminal regime's illeagl program, it will be a huge legal morass. The existence of illegal wiretaps permits a defense attorney to question and throw 'reasonable doubt' on all evidence in a case obtained by wiretap. If nothing else, it permits and requires re-opening a case and investigating whether or not any evidence was tainted. Furthermore, the secrecy the bushcriminal regime always hides behind will make it next to impossible for the government to prove that there wasn't any involvement of an illegal wiretap.

Posted by: justfred on January 1, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

You and I can continue to argue all night if Rasmussen was valid. It's valid if it has influence and if you read kevin and Steve you know it does. Rusmussen is a highly reputable pollster who has been around for a good while. No politician is going to ignore such a powerful message.
It's very hard to get 2/3's to agree on anything in this era. But they do not this. The mesage is unambigious. The people want these searches done. The move now will be how to do it and protect civil liberties.
Posted by: rdw

This seems somewhat ... generous ... to say the least. To claim that the message is unambiguous, and that most pollsters KNEW the unasked part of the question, is highly suspect.

especially when you consider that these are americans, who are the most uninformed ignorant motherfuckers of the developed world. You're claiming that the same populace which possess the 30-40% who believe saddam had wmds, was linked with osama, an/or directly responsible for 9/11 is somehow connected enough to reality to know that the question in that poll implied illegal warrantless searches.

Posted by: Nads on January 1, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

No doubt the 68% polled who were following the story were more aware of the basic facts than you are. They knew the searches were warrantless.

Yeah. 2/3 of respondents knew without being told that the searches were illegal and then approved.
In your dreams.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 1, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: Most of the people who took that poll knew quite well what wiretaps were being discussed,

Ahh...tbrosz demonstrates his psychic abilities once again. Tell me, tbrosz, do you work for Rasmussen? Do you have information we don't? Typical....

You know it funny, most polls ask a control question like "Have you heard about Story A?" Strange how that didn't occur here.

Even stranger, the right wing media has touted the Rasmussen Poll ever since it was released. Of course there is no way the entire purpose of the poll was to promote an agenda, with the question being framed to obtain a specific result. Hmmm...It is also funny how a week later there still is no real poll asking American how the feel about those warrantless searches tbrosz seems to think everyone knows about...

That liberal media at it again...

Spare me...

Posted by: justmy2 on January 1, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

nads,

Are you one of the Dixie Chicks?


Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

What "legitimate disagreement among legal professionals?"

The only argument the President makes is that he broke the law because he could. John Yoo makes a childish argument that a war emergency makes the President a king. I am unaware of any competent legal professional who adopts Yoo's interpretation hole cloth. I have read Alexander Hamilton and he doesn't share Yoo's view (Federalist 69) and he attended the Constituional Convention. In any event any wartime emergency has long, long passed and the President continues with his program. He does not seek a change to FISA. Not even Yoo's argument makes any sense under the current circumstances.

My understanding is that at least one high ranking member of Bush's own justice department refused to sign off on the program and John Ashcroft had misgivings and may have refused to sign off.

Anyway this isn't an issue for legal professionals. It is an issue for all of us. That is why this is a constitutional crisis

Your knowledge of history is somewhat limited. In some of its aspects Watergate is a reasonably close analogy. The President asserted certain rights he found in the constitution. Congress stood up and said NO. The difference between then and now is that the Republicans control both houses of congress. Interestingly, many of the people in this whitehouse and in positions of power in the media were Nixon supporters. It might turn out that the media take on Watergate is incomplete and far more was in play during Watergate than Nixon's personal failings.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 1, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the one meaningful poll I've seen on the issue -- by Zogby ( http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1053 ) -- shows that the issue DOES have definite traction if the Dems present it the right way. Specifically, while there's a 49-45 margin in favor of the idea that "President Bush acted within his Constitutional powers when he authorized the interception of international communications without the approval of a federal judge... 44% said they were concerned that the communication intercepts were a step toward stripping Americans of their privacy. Another 23% said they believe the secret intercepts are important in rare cases to fight terrorism, and 29% said they were necessary to combat enemies."

That is, we have a 67-29 margin in favor of doing warrantless wiretaps only on "rare occasions" -- and I suspect that the rest of that 49-45% plurality who think that Bush should SOMETIMES be able to do so are thinking of emergency cases when there's no time to get a warrant, with most of them probably being unaware that FISA already allows 3 days leeway for exactly such cases. The average citizen (in any democracy) is and will always be alarmingly politically ignorant, but he does have enough elementary common sense to recognize that giving the government totally unrestricted spying rights is asking for trouble.

So the Dems need to keep hammering on the correct idea -- that there need to be SOME limits on such spying, and some independent judicial observation built into the system to make sure it isn't being abused, neither of which Bush wants for some reason (either stupidity or something more sinister, both of which are fully plausible with him). The Dems seem to have a significant (if depressingly small) minority of Congressional Republicans willing to join them on this (Sen. Lugar today also called for hearings).

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why do you write stuff like this:

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? I don't mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats.

Some of things Bush has done is beyond the pale. Who the hell gives a rats ass about what makes Democrats look bad politically? Dems will miss the boat entirelly if centrist Dems tell themselves to be very scare of "how it looks", Because doing nothing about this illegal wiretapping REALLY IS NOT A OPTION.

The Washington Post tonight:

President Bush today mounted his third defense in two weeks of his secret domestic spying program, calling his order authorizing warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens a limited, legal program that Americans understand is protecting their security.

Taking questions from reporters after a brief stop at an Army hospital in San Antonio to visit wounded troops, the president acknowledged concerns that monitoring overseas telephone calls and e-mails of citizens with suspected ties to terrorism may violate civil liberties. But he called his directive to the National Security Agency (NSA) after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "vital and necessary" to protect the country.


Well, if that's the truth, than Bush should not mind a complete investigation. That is all Dems have to say. THAT LET YOUR WORK BE INSPECTED.

Bush hasn't been looking at the "e-mails of citizens with suspected ties to terrorism" or he would have asked the FISA Court to okay the warrant first. Bush didn't ask the court, because the court would not have given Bush the warrant. This is one of those things that HAS GOT TO BE INVESTIGATED.

Polls have shown that MOST Americans don't think Bush is honest - and for good reason. Bush will lie about anything and he is lying about this warrantless wiretapping too.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 1, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

justmy2,

hate to tell you but Rasmussen has a very good reputation they've earned over an extended period.

But don't take my word for it. Reread the posts by both Kevin and Steve. They know it and they know what this means. As a political issue this is pure loser. You are going to drive your sorry reputation on National Security Issues even lower. This isn't just a 2006 issue. You've got about 30 Senators thinking of running for President. They will NOT get on the wrong side of this issue.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

And, yes, Tbrosz, the results of the Rasmussen Poll were indeed "hopelessly skewed" -- a fact which could be overlooked only by someone who is either mentally retarded himself or willing to believe that the rest of us are retarded enough to fall for such an argument. Consider the really idiotic phrasing of those two questions:

(1) "Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 64-23, the people said "yes" to that question -- as most of US would say "yes" to it.

(2) "Is President Bush the first President to authorize a program for intercepting telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 48-26, the people said "no" -- as most of US would say "no".

Zogby, to put it mildly, is more informative on what the people actually think about this issue.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone please explain to me why the bush administration would bypass FISA when according to what I've read:

1) They can do the spying and get approval later thus allowing them to spy on short notice

2) Virtually all requests to the FISA in its history have been approved

So for what possible reason other than just plain stubborness would they bypass FISA?

Posted by: perplexed on January 1, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Polls have shown that MOST Americans don't think Bush is honest - and for good reason. Bush will lie about anything and he is lying about this warrantless wiretapping too.

GWBs polls are low. But they're higher than both the Congress and the MSM. They's why 2/3's of Americans are with him and not Congress.


Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

(1) "Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 64-23, the people said "yes" to that question -- as most of US would say "yes" to it.

(2) "Is President Bush the first President to authorize a program for intercepting telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 48-26, the people said "no" -- as most of US would say "no".

But but but... the pollster has an impeccable reputation!!!

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 1, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"1) "Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 64-23, the people said "yes" to that question -- as most of US would say "yes" to it."

I am surprised that 23% said no to that question. Of course the NSA should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terror suspects. The real issue is should the NSA be required to obtain a warrant as required by the 4th Amendment to the US constitution. Frankly, FISA (with its 72 hour window to obtain post tap permission) might not pass constitutional muster of a "strict constructionist," but that isn't the issue. In this case the the President said "fuck the god damned piece of paper. Go ahead and wire tap. Ignore the FISA court." He also said "don't tell anybody."

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 1, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK
I am trying to help you out here.

That's just so sweet of you, rdw!

They sharpest distinction remains GWBs intention. He was not spying on George Clooney or Tom Daschle. He was looking for terrorists.

It's so reassuring to hear how intimate you are with GWB's intentions. Please continue to share your knowledge of the presidents thoughts with us. We really could use a reliable source!

Mmmm. Y'know, unlike that faith-based DiIulio guy, who actually worked in Bush's White House and who quit the job because he found that "everything, and I mean everything, [is] being run by the political arm."

I just knew we couldn't trust that church-going DiIulio fella. Thank goodness rdw knows! Not only that, he shares!!

Because he wants to help us!!!

Posted by: obscure on January 1, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10651977/site/newsweek/#survey

Yup, illegal wire-taps are in.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 1, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

And, yes, Tbrosz, the results of the Rasmussen Poll were indeed "hopelessly skewed" -- a fact which could be overlooked only by someone who is either mentally retarded himself or willing to believe that the rest of us are retarded enough to fall for such an argument. Consider the really idiotic phrasing of those two questions:

(1) "Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 64-23, the people said "yes" to that question -- as most of US would say "yes" to it.

(2) "Is President Bush the first President to authorize a program for intercepting telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?" By 48-26, the people said "no" -- as most of US would say "no".

Zogby, to put it mildly, is more informative on what the people actually think about this issue.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Rdw: hate to tell you but Rasmussen has a very good reputation they've earned over an extended period.

And how does that impact whether or not the silly question asked in this particular poll was skewed? Are you saying this poll question was clear? Even tbrosz said up thread that he had to assume the respondents new the actual intent of the question. Stop being so reflexive and call a spade a spade.

You've got about 30 Senators thinking of running for President. They will NOT get on the wrong side of this issue.

You are almost right. They will run to the side of the issue that helps their campaign the most. That doesn't necessarily make it the "right" side. As a matter of fact if history is any judge, they will most certainly get on the wrong side of the vote due to political judgements. (See the Iraq War Resolution)

Posted by: justmy2 on January 1, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about the double post -- looks like Kevin's comments system is on the fritz again.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

In this case the the President said "fuck the god damned piece of paper. Go ahead and wire tap. Ignore the FISA court." He also said "don't tell anybody."

Really? You think? Or maybe the method of surveillance (data mining entire data streams? Only the NY Times knows, and they don't think we have sufficient clearance to hear the truth) was working and the folks preventing attacks really didn't want to give the method up.

If you are listening to everything and hear/read something of interest, and a party turns out to be a citizen, and waht they are saying is of real interest...quite a quandary. A 72 hour retroactive FISA warrant does no good because your evidence for prob cause is the message itself. Can't use evidence from the mining for the warrant.

I'm not fond of this episode at all, but I also don't think it is just Bush being Evil For Evil's Sake. What I would like, is for the NY Times to quit acting as national security guards and tell us what the hell they know, and why they timed the release, etc.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 1, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK
FACT 1: FISA - Congress DID authorize warrantless taps in legislation. Democrats and Republicans in Congress were advised about Bush's use of that authority and had 3 years to overturn it.

False. FISA does authorize warrantless wiretaps in very specific circumstances and require very particular determinations, procedures, and notifications to be made of these. Neither the Administration nor anyone else who would be in a position to now has claimed that the applicable determinations and specific notifications, were made, procedures were followed, or conditions were met. There are indications that some very general but incomplete and possibly outright inaccurate information was given to Congress, and to a subset of the FISA court. The information required with warrantless searches allowed by FISA was clearly not provided to either Congress or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so the excuse that this is within the scope of warrantless searches explicitly allowed by FISA is clearly false.


FACT 2: Every President, Democratic and Republican believed they could and did act this way.

False, and irrelevant. It is irrelevant what any other President believed, but there is no information that has come forward to indicate that the kind of surveillance performed here has ever been ordered before.

So this is not about Bush, it's a legitimate issue about Presidential authority.

As noted immediately previously, the premise of this question is false. Even if it were not, the fact that others have broken the law the same way before and not been punished, if true, is no defense. It is, very much, about Bush, in either case.

FACT 3: Supreme Court authority to declare a law or action unconstitutional comes from a Supreme Court decision long before there were any Republicans.

Supreme Court authority to resolve questions of Constitutionality is explicit in Article III, which extends the judicial power of the United States to include all controversies arising under the Constitution of the United States. Further, interpreting the law and resolving apparent contradictions in the law on the basis of heirarchies of law and other principles is a part of the judicial function as it was understood at the time the Constitution was written. The fact that the power and role of the courts was explicated in a particular case does not mean it originated there.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 1, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Obscure" is bang on in reponse to RDW's dumb comment that "The sharpest distinction remains GWBs intention. He was not spying on George Clooney or Tom Daschle. He was looking for terrorists." First, that's exactly what we DON'T yet know for sure -- after all, it's only thanks to those illegal leaks that we found out (years after the fact) that he was engaged in warrantless spying AT ALL. Second, there is obviously nothing in the current setup to keep him -- or any of his successors -- from switching the system to spying on political enemies as a moment's notice. (Do the initials "RN" ring a bell?)

It would be a nice grim irony if Bush really WASN'T using this setup to spy on his enemies, and (say) Hillary moved into the White House and immediately started using it to do so, thanks to the blank check that mindlessly trusting people like RDW and Tbrosz had given her. Nice for irony, that is, but still bad for the country.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this time the press will see through the prattle and write about this scandal without the usual insistence on accepting transparently childish talking points from the conservo-bots as actual reportable news

This is even more self-pity than your start to 2005.

Eventually somebody here will list relevant congressional resolutions, presidential actions, and court decisions in chronological order. Perhaps a good start would be two SC decisions during the Jefferson administration that ruled that Congressional resolutions in support of war are legally equivalent to "declarations" of war for constitutional purposes. Once the list is made, it will demonstrate that what the President did was legal. "Talking points" or not, that's the way it is. Congressional resolutions subsequent to FISA made it optional for the executive branch to adhere to the restrictions imposed in FISA.

Posted by: contentious on January 1, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

perplexed,

My understanding is there are several legal issues one of which is probable cause and the other which relates to the need for speed and flexibility which can't be met under FISA. The WH is holding that in a war situation, especially regarding terrorism, they can't take a chance in some situations which don't need the level of probably cause in peace time. In this case they are not necessarily collecting data to build a case for a prosecution but collecting data to save lives knowing the initial data is not usable.

I'm no lawyer and I find the legal minutia boring. I think the real bottom line here is a political position that under the constitution the President has broad powers in War time and GWB is tying to specify these powers in court. This area was intentionally left vague by the founding fathers and it will be up to the Supreme Court to make a ruling if Congress can't make some kind of compromise.

As far as the program itself I have no doubt this is a search for terrorists and nothing else. Bush felt it had to be done and knowing that it would eventually become public prepared for the legal battle to come.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

poor rdw - having no actual intelligent remarks to make, he keeps repeating the same ignorant piffle, over and over, as though piling up base metals eventually transmuted them into gold.

for example, he still doesn't understand why nixon was impeached. He was impeached because he broke a variety of laws, which is why watergate is a relevant example.

he apparently has no clue as to why clinton was impeached, despite its relatively recent historical provenance.

he makes ignorant assumptions about the meaning of the rasmussen poll which are founded in nothing more than his desperate desire to believe in a law-breaking president.

he fails to understand that when you tell some of the truth to congressional leaders under a classified heading, then there isn't a damn thing they can do about it.

and he doesn't understand what the impeachment discussion, insofar as it has existed to date, is all about, namely, the deliberate willingingess of the bush administration to go outside of the law and keep it secret.

There's no telling what issues will and will not catch on with the american people: too many factors come into play for any of us to know with certainty.

But there's no doubt about what the democratic position should be: if you've got reasonable changes in the law to talk about, then we're willing to listen, although, of course, you could shove through any change you wanted with your own party, and the fact that you haven't suggests the breathtaking arrogance of your position, but to assume that your power as commander-in-chief is sufficient to enable you to circumvent the law and contravene the 4th ammendment doesn't pass any test you'd care to name except the divine right of commanders-in-chief test.

i do hear, though, rdw, that there are plenty of countries where this kind of behavior would go unnoticed, and if you can't stand constitutional requirements in this country, you're welcome to emigrate.

PS. I do gotta like the way rdw characterizes Marbury v. Madsion: what a maroooooon.

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

I honestly think that if it was revealed that Bush was killing live babies and eating them in the White House basement, mainstream Democrats like Kevin would moan that the issue is a loser for Democrats, because Bush might be able to paint us as soft on cannibalism, and allied with the forces of anti-American vegetarianism.

The idiocy behind such statements is what is making it so hard for liberals and Democrats to formulate their policies. Only people in the "bubble" of the left could entertain the notion that a meaningful statement could contain "... if it were revealed that Bush [were] killing live babies and eating them ... ."

Posted by: contentious on January 1, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

As for data mining: just keep in mind that's an entirely new and powerful technology -- one which the Founders could never have dreamed of if they'd spent their entire lives smoking pot. Obviously it has tremendous potential to uncover terrorist plots that can't be caught any other way -- and obviously it has tremendous power for harm if it's used the WRONG way. That is, like any powerful technology, it requires proper legal regulation.

So obviously the thing to do was for Bush to urge Congress (in closed session, if necessary) that they should get off their duffs and write regulations to allow it to be used properly, presumably involving the incorporation of a set of semi-independent judicial observers into the system to monitor how it was being used. Now, why do you suppose he didn't take that obvious step? Could it conceivably be that he had ideas about NOT using it in the proper way? Nah. Surely not.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, that is some awful difficulty under FISA to deal with speed: you have 3 days after you start wiretapping to go to them. do you not even know that much?

as for powers during "War;" what is this "war" of which you speak? is there a declaration of "war?" are there "war" objectives? and what is it that convinces you (given that you find the basic principles of the constitution, to which you refer as "legal minutia," too "boring" for your refined intellect) that the founders left the powers of commander-in-chief vague? They did no such thing.

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, it should always be kept in mind that the Pinkos who agree with us and disagree with Bush on this issue include Lindsay Graham, Arlen Specter, John McCain (who criticized Sen. Rockefeller for NOT breaking his oath of secrecy and publicly demanding an investigation if he really thought it might be "against the law"), George Will and Jim Hoagland. (See the recent Post columns on this subject by the latter two.) Sen. Lugar seems to be joining their group as of today.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 1, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Howard,

I rarely disagree with you, but Nixon resigned. He never was impeached.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike, while i agree with you that the Times can and should be more forthcoming, it's an irrelevancy to talk about this being Bush being "evil for evil's sake." While there are those who think that of the man, most of us have a rather different opinion: he is a narcissistic, ill-informed, authoritarian surrounded by sycophants, yes-people, and thugs.

That he would, in his panicky reaction to 9/11, and (in my opinion), his specifically panicky reaction to the thought the his failure to pay any heed to the 8/6/01 PDB might subject him to the wrath of an outraged populace, he's decided the constitution just isn't as important as his decision that AQ represents the gravest threat in American history.

Which is what narcissistic, ill-informed authoritarians would conclude....

All you really need to know at this point is bush's reaction: pugnaciously proud of breaking the law because he thinks he has the right to. That's unacceptable.

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bush said before flying back to Washington after six days cloistered on his ranch in Crawford, Tex. "I think most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy's thinking.

"If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why."

Yeah, everybody agrees that we need to know what the enemy is thinking but Bush could do this legally.

Today on Meet the Press today, according to Jane Hamsher.

George W. Bush says he is only illegally wiretapping terrorists. William Safire isn't buying it.

If som Republican pundits, especially like Safire don't believe Bush - why would centrist Dems be afraid to take on this issue?

Posted by: Cheryl on January 1, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

thirdpaul, to phrase it more carefully, the Rodino committee voted to impeach Nixon. He then resigned before it got to the house floor.

thanx for catching me out on saying something too quickly!

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

hate to tell you but Rasmussen has a very good reputation they've earned over an extended period.

And how does that impact whether or not the silly question asked in this particular poll was skewed? Are you saying this poll question was clear?

I am saying Rasmussen has a good reputation and that's for accuracy as well as for asking smart questions. We all know a good pollster can design a question to get a specific answer. The good pollsters asks questions to find out what the public thinks. Not to serve their own biases. The classic example for this is Zogby.

I think the poll was reasonably clear. I suspect Rasmussen left off the warrantless aspect so as not to prejudice those polled. The reason why Rasmussen asked if people were following the story was to establish if they were aware of the warrantless aspect. It's the entire story. If they were following they know.

It's fairly clear Kevin regards it as credible.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

It is troubling, but not too weird when you think about it, that if you have enough power you can say whatever you want. But honestly, this doublethink adds up, the American people see what's going on. They see that Bush is a really stubborn guy, and he says stuff that isn't quite on the same level of reality as everyone else. If this unreality is calculated, then everyone's getting bamboozled and that's a shame. But it does seem to be part of his personality, and that can make things different. Unfortunately the line between bamboozlement and "it's just his personality" becomes hard to draw in a modern political environment where all communications/speeches/etc. are so minutely controlled. It becomes easier for people like Rove to architect a personality.

Because of Richard Nixon, Americans should be familiar with the phenomenon of excessive power grabs. I'm not sure why Nixon's name isn't mentioned all the time by Democrats in these conversations. He's a powerful symbol of what's happening here, the corruption, the creeping totalitarianism, the belief in presidential invulnerability.

Secretly many people have a part of them that wants to be ruled by a king, especially in wartime when everyone's scared. But no one wants to be ruled by a pathological creep. So why not use the Nixon analogy?

Posted by: mk on January 1, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think the poll was reasonably clear. I suspect Rasmussen left off the warrantless aspect so as not to prejudice those polled. The reason why Rasmussen asked if people were following the story was to establish if they were aware of the warrantless aspect. It's the entire story. If they were following they know.
Posted by: rdw

Prejudice those polled with what, exactly? the truth???

"warrantless" isn't a loaded term ... it's perfectly accurate, and despite your fascist spoutings to the contrary, it is a term whose presence or absence is very relevant to the results of the poll.

Posted by: Nads on January 1, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

howard,

Lighten up, you'll have a heart attack. Actually the constitution left an awful lot vague especially regarding the separation of powers.

It'll be fun watching the Congress stop a program 2/3's of Americans want. I am obviously not the only fan of Rasmussen. Your friend Kevin is right there with me.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

"It's fairly clear that Kevin thinks it as credible"

Yeah, and Kevin believes that union members should work until they are 70 or even older.

Howard,

Sort of scene from the old west - resigning as they were finding the rope. Le Potomaine resigning as Hedley writes out the pardon.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Secretly many people have a part of them that wants to be ruled by a king, especially in wartime when everyone's scared. But no one wants to be ruled by a pathological creep. So why not use the Nixon analogy?

Actually it's only the libs who are scared. The reason you don't want to use the Nixon analogy is because it's stupid politics. Most of those under 50 have no memory of Nixon and 1/2 of those over 50 understand Bush is no Nixon. It makes you look as if you have your hair on fire.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

The idiocy behind such statements is what is making it so hard for liberals and Democrats to formulate their policies. Only people in the "bubble" of the left could entertain the notion that a meaningful statement could contain "... if it were revealed that Bush [were] killing live babies and eating them ... ."

Contentious, this is a left vs. left debate that has apparently gone over your little head. The whole point of the hypothetical example was to describe a maifestly fictional scenario that was unquestionably outrageous, thoroughly preposterous and beyond the pale of realistic conceivability. My argument was that soggy-eyed defeatists like Kevin Drum would still find a way, even in that absurd fantasy secenario, to turn political dynamite into a smoldering pile of wet firecrackers. So don't worry son - nobody was suggesting your precious President-Daddy is a baby eater, or even a potential baby eater.

Posted by: Dan Kervick on January 1, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

It'll be fun watching the Congress stop a program 2/3's of Americans want. I am obviously not the only fan of Rasmussen. Your friend Kevin is right there with me.
Posted by: rdw

kevin is an honest conservative ...

regarding YOU, however ... terrorism has either emasculated you and caused you to compromise your ethics regarding government power, or your teeth are lock-jawed in tetany around bush's penis.

either way, a comparison between you and kevin is dishonest, and can only serve to make you look worse.

Posted by: Nads on January 1, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Witless, last call at the Moose will be nigh - Hurry on.

James Coomey appointed Fitzgerald as well as blocking this end run of FISA.

As a commentator posted at Kos, is it not interesting that the visit to Ashcroft was in March 04 about the time Kerry was taking the lead. Oh, they would NEVER use this for domestic political spy work. Nah, they are much too ethical.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 1, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

the other shoe is going to drop--
which is the discovery that Bush was illegally spying on people that have NOTHING to do with AL Qaeda

that is the ONLY explaination why they didn't go to court to get approval for NSA spying.

once this news comes out then the fight terror argument goes out the window

Posted by: smartone on January 1, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike most libs, Red State types actually know people who serve in the military, defense, police, etc. They really don't give a crap about snivelling blue state libs afraid of their own shadows.

rdw, you offensive, repugnant, mindless parrot. Go contemplate this for a while. There is also a long list of prominent Democrats and liberals who have served in the military, with distinction and honor. I bet it would be a lot bigger than your list, what with all their "other priorities," butt carbuncles, and such. Fucker.

You know, I try to be polite but it's simply impossible when faced with these ignorant shitheads who keep spouting their lies and bullshit on public threads without the slightest shame. They are without a shred of dignity.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on January 1, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hair on fire, hair on fire, am I even making any sense? Whatever, Bush won, duuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh...

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

Actually it's only the libs who are scared.

Nah, I think everyone gets a little on edge in wartime. That's pretty much always been true. 9/11 was an attack on American soil, and that is legitimate cause for worry.

The reason you don't want to use the Nixon analogy is because it's stupid politics. Most of those under 50 have no memory of Nixon

Even for people who weren't around during the Nixon years, it can still serve as a cultural touchstone. I wasn't really old enough to remember Challenger distinctly, but when someone mentions it, it still has emotional meaning for me. Same with Nixon.

and 1/2 of those over 50 understand Bush is no Nixon.

It's possible for Bush not to be much like Nixon in a broad sense and yet for this issue to be reminiscent of Nixon, in terms of it being a seemingly extreme power grab.

Posted by: mk on January 1, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

It'll be fun watching the Congress stop a program 2/3's of Americans want.

Single-payer health care???

Oh. You meant Kyoto...

Posted by: every man for himself on January 1, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, then the two thirds of Americans who want to live in a police spy state can sign consent forms waiving their constitutional rights.

Me, I'm old fashioned, I'm gonna have to demand a warrant first--and the Constitution is quite clear on that requirement. I'll also be demanding that those who fail to do so be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, whoever they are, or whoever they think they are.

Posted by: whatever on January 1, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: You think "the Left" is projecting their own dishonesty onto the Bush Administration?

That's interesting. It's dozens of Nixon employees and dozens of Reagan employees who have gone to jail for crimes directly related to their government service. Didn't know they were "leftist".

How do you account for that?

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 1, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Georgie--HUNNH!!--you're such a BIG presidente!!
Georgie--HUNNH!!--you're such a BIG presidente!!

Posted by: rdw's singing dingle-berries on January 1, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Most people weren't alive when Hitler was around either, but they know he was bad and they don't want to be compared to him--just look at the hissy fit that the Bush sycophants threw over the "ad" that MoveOn never ran.

Nixon wasn't as bad as Hitler, but bad enough, and most people know it. Even his own former counsel says the comparison to Bush is totally appropriate. Actually, he says that Bush is worse.

Posted by: whatever on January 1, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

Thou fiery-faced quintessence of all that is abomitable.

Posted by: and that's not meant as an insult! on January 1, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Cheryl: If some Republican pundits, especially like Safire don't believe Bush

Safire is old school - he doesn't read the Talking Points memos and doesn't always tow the party line. Although I rarely agreed with him, I miss his NYT column.

why would centrist Dems be afraid to take on this issue?

Because they're spineless jellyfish.

Posted by: alex on January 1, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, here's the constitution's actual language on the matter of the president as commander-in-chief:

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

It's actually quite easy to understand, although admnittedly, if you find the "legal minutia" of the constitution just too boring for words, you might take comfort in the hope that no one will look the language up.

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

btw, rdw, even though you are wrong in interpreting rasmussen's poll - as i've already told you, i could answer the poll question yes - perhaps you might consider the fact that, whenever the bill of rights is tested in opinion polls, it always loses.

should congress race to do away with the bill of rights?

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: We all know a good pollster can design a question to get a specific answer.

Yes, for example they could ask about an act that's criminal under certain circumstances, but neglect to mention the aspects that make it criminal. Some people might then disingenuously use that response to suggest that most people don't think it's criminal.

The classic example for this is Zogby.

Translation: Zogby sometimes has results I don't like.

I think the poll was reasonably clear.

Translation: the obvious ambiguities yielded the result I wanted to hear.

I suspect Rasmussen left off the warrantless aspect so as not to prejudice those polled.

Yes, never prejudice those polled by mentioning the key aspects. Example:

Q. Is it ok for a man to have sex with a women?

As opposed to:

Q. Is it ok for a man to have sex with a woman while holding a loaded gun to her head?

See the difference?

Posted by: alex on January 1, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

A bit late to the party perhaps, but Welcome Home, Kevin. You always leave us in good hands, but we still miss the original when you inevitably take a hiatus.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 1, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

That he would, in his panicky reaction to 9/11, and (in my opinion), his specifically panicky reaction to the thought the his failure to pay any heed to the 8/6/01 PDB might subject him to the wrath of an outraged populace, he's decided the constitution just isn't as important as his decision that AQ represents the gravest threat in American history.
Which is what narcissistic, ill-informed authoritarians would conclude....
All you really need to know at this point is bush's reaction: pugnaciously proud of breaking the law because he thinks he has the right to. That's unacceptable.

Beautifully written sir. Happy New Year to you and I am thrilled to see you being so prolific. "pugnaciously proud" is a phrase I would be proud to have coined. Well said, indeed.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 1, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

LW Phil, too kind, but happy new year to you, too!

Posted by: howard on January 1, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Over 150 comments, and nobody's mentioned this yet:
At the heart of the question, there are two issues --
1) Is the President's use of unauthorized spying on Americans constitutionally sanctioned and legal, or not?
2) Regardless of the above, has the Administration been abusing such surveillance -- as in, for example, spying on their political opponents (or, for that matter, members of their own administration - wouldn't be the first time) -- which would clearly be illegal, even if it were determined that warrantless spying on actual terrorists were legal?
Reasonable, principled people might disagree on the first. About the second, there can be no doubt -- which makes the second point the more crucial one.
But we do not have to hypothesize whether the Bush administration would stoop to such abuse of its investigative powers; we know for a fact that they have done so in the past.
In May of 2003, a large number of Democratic state reps in Texas left the state, and others hid out within the state, in an attempt to derail the DeLay-driven redistricting of Texas (now coming up for challenge in the Supreme Court). The Dept. of Homeland Security - in an obvious violation of their brief -- became involved; they were used to track a plane used by one of the Rep's.
Administration abuse of "anti-terror" intelligence for political ends is not a "possibility" or a "hypothetical." It is a proven part of the historical record.
(From the Austin Star-Telegram and the AP:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/printer_051503B.shtml)

Posted by: smartalek on January 1, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

All this wiretapping and Bush still can't determine:
1)Where Osama is, and
2)Who outed Plame.

Apparently, Bush is so incompentent that even when he listens to everything he still hears nothing. What a boob! What a total incompetent failure as a man! Inables himself but yet achieves nothing. And somehow we are supposed to be more safe with this total boob listening to everything and everybody. I'd worry about his destroying America but it becomes obvious that he could do that only by accident. Four years and all these helpless efforts produce nothing. Osama still walkes free somewhere-safe in the knowledge that an idiot that defiles his own constitution could never catch him. Osama must think, "Keep this boob in power, he'll never find me, he's to busy fucking over his own country and citizens to ever find me."

Posted by: MRB on January 2, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

So when President Obama is in charge,....

A party does not make structural, long-lasting changes in a polity that would redound to their detriment upon their inevtiable return to opposition unless they never, ever intend to return to opposition again.

The GWOT is how you get untrammelled power.
The GWOT is not why you want untrammelled power.

&iquot;Como se dice 'PRI' en ingles? Lo dice 'GOP'

Welcome to the One-Party State.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 2, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

To take smartalec's point one step further...If it is determined that what Bush did was "technically" legal, congress needs to conveen immediately and write legislation that makes the conduct in question explicitly illegal and tie harsh penalties to the crime of spying on American citizens when due process has not been followed.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Brosz

I was disappointed when you were tag-teaming with Al, but that was positively stellar compared to your current slumming. Aren't you just a little bit ashamed?

Unlike leftists who seem more comfortable in mobs, I do my own posting and thinking, thanks, and don't really care who else is posting what on my side. I don't "tag team" with anyone as such, but pop in when I have something to say. Or maybe you think you should be lumped in with the childish, obscenity-spouting leftist psycho hose beasts who pop up here now and then, just because you seem to be on the same side of a particular argument?

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

In a free open capitalistic society, somewhat like America has, it is virtually impossible to totally stop terrorism without radically affecting personal freedom, business trading and communication, open trading, flow of and development of information, and in our own personal homes to be free of government intrusion. At what point in our desire to stop terrorism do we finally give away out last freedoms? And then doesn't terrorism still exist in a totalitarian state? Are we so paranoid that we are willing to pay to have someone watch everything that we do in hopes of finding a terrorist among us? As freedom is gradually taken from us in the search for terrorists, at what point does someone stand up and say, "You've gone far enough."

Posted by: MRB on January 2, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

rdw: "The WH is holding that in a war situation, especially regarding terrorism, they can't take a chance in some situations which don't need the level of probably cause in peace time."

Unless the latest atlas includes a country known as "The People's Republic of Terror," we are not a war with any nation. An American president ought not be using a metaphorical war and a nebulous threat as the rationale for abridging civil rights.

"In this case they are not necessarily collecting data to build a case for a prosecution but collecting data to save lives knowing the initial data is not usable."

Thanks for clearing that up. Many of us weren't able to get to that meeting, so we appreciate your letting us know what's going on.

"As far as the program itself I have no doubt this is a search for terrorists and nothing else."

This is absolutely ridiculous. Like everyone else here, you know next to nothing about what this program involves.

"Bush felt it had to be done and knowing that it would eventually become public prepared for the legal battle to come."

Yes, and we all know what a bear he is for detail when it comes to battle.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 2, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Or maybe you think you should be lumped in with the childish, obscenity-spouting leftist psycho hose beasts who pop up here now and then, just because you seem to be on the same side of a particular argument?

I generally attempt to avoid that sort of thing. IIRC correctly I have sworn once...DonP, I think...and snarked at rdw (as Pollyanna)...and yes, I am Uncle Tyco. Truth is a pretty big thing to me, as is accuracy. Despite the hostility you engender most of us appreciate your presence, and when you stoop to broad ad hominems, or seem to combine forces with a bombastic twit, its disheartening. Once again, happy new year to you, Mrs, Brosz, and the little Broszes (I don't remember how many).

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Justmy2:

You know it funny, most polls ask a control question like "Have you heard about Story A?" Strange how that didn't occur here.

Actually, it did. The poll is described here, and 68 percent of the respondents had been following the story "somewhat or very closely." If one were following the story at all in the media, one would have to be lobotomized to not know that the lack of warrants was an issue.

You could cook the results by assuming that every last one of the 23 percent who disapproved came from that "informed" 68 percent. That still leaves the other 45 percent of all respondents, or about 66 percent of the "informed" group. If my math is wrong, let me know.

Does it occur to anyone that if that question was actually interpreting in the abstract sense you claim it was, that the percentage who approved should have been even higher?

The more tightly-worded Zogby poll Bruce mentions above still has a 49 to 45 percent margin in Bush's favor. The other results are interesting, too, and it would be good to know which categories overlap and which ones don't. Bruce justifies some of the answers by claiming the respondents didn't understand the question, which is just as "psychic" as my claiming the Rasmussen responders did.

Tom Nicholson:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10651977/site/newsweek/#survey

All online polls are crap. No exceptions.

A lot of people are asking why not go through the warrant process unless there was evil afoot? Many people have pointed out that it's possible, or even likely, that the technical means utilized in this system is not amenable to getting warrents in the normal sense in any realistic time frame, and that revealing the operation to the point where the Congress as a whole can pass legislation specific to it, would neutralize the intelligence tool. This factor is being largely ignored.

The idea that Democratic leaders were completely blindsided by this for three years isn't standing up very well either, but I notice that aspect is being largely ignored as well. Well, except for people like Tom Maguire.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike @ 10.18: Yes. It seems pretty likely this is a data-mining operation ala TIA. The king is reading your mail to protect you.

howard: Agree too that it was a panicked reaction by the Brat King. He's been busy closing the barn doors (and some would say creating new barns) ever since.

rdw: sigh....

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

LW Phil:

Actually, I thought the "Uncle Tyco" thing was kind of cool. Eleanor Cameron doesn't get half the respect she deserves, and I'm hoping somebody picks up her books for a movie someday.

It's two kids, and not so little anymore. One's in college, studying theater arts. Or would that be "theatre?"

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, and we all know what a bear he is for detail when it comes to battle

We do when it comes to legal battles and elections don't we? Ask Prince Albert and the NYT's. Pinch bought Judy a night at the Ritz with a massage and the works for 90 days. What will he get the boys for doing a couple years?

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

The classic example for this is Zogby.

Translation: Zogby sometimes has results I don't like.

Zogby has become a joke. He was miserable this last election. Rasmussen was the closest pollster on the Presidential results.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

It's actually quite easy to understand, although admnittedly, if you find the "legal minutia" of the constitution just too boring for words, you might take comfort in the hope that no one will look the language up.

Howard,

This is getting boring. It's senseless for two non-lawyers to argue the law. There is a large number of smart lawyers on each side of this issue. None of them are going to decide or prove anything. Only the 9 on the Supreme Court.

What we do know is GWB is ready for the fight believing he has the politics and the law on his side. We'll just have to wait and see if the Congress has the balls.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

One's in college, studying theater arts. Or would that be "theatre?"

Oh God, Tom, brace yourself - you're going to wind up with a liberal offspring. There are three conservative actors in the universe; one is governor of our fair state, the second is dating Ann Coulter, and the third is really a moderate, former mayor of Carmel, and a director I would love to work with. It's something about the empathy required to transform into character. I'm sure you'll deal with it gracefully.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Some 30 Iraq vets are now running for congress as Democrats. Quick, guess how many Iraq vets are running as Republicans. I believe the number is two, but you may correct me if I'm wrong.

All but two of the veterans in congress today are Democrats. Why won't Republican vets run for office? If they do run, why do they lose? Does Iraq service turn them into Democrats?

No, it doesn't. The reason the Dems are do desperate to get Vets in offfcie is the same reason they picked kerry. You are so weak on National Security you are desperate to create the illusion of toughness. Best of luck to all the Vets but it won't work.


Why did my 60s Army sevice (E-5) turn me into a lifelong liberal? When did YOU serve?

If the service creates liberals why did Al Gore do everything possible to block the counting of military ballots?

I did srve but it doesn't matter. I'd be no more or no less entitled to my opinion.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

LW Phil:

Oh God, Tom, brace yourself - you're going to wind up with a liberal offspring.

Don't count on it. I raised her, and she's well aware that empathy is not a monopoly of those who seem to demonstrate it best by forcing other people to be generous. I suspect I'm going to wind up with a Republican Party Reptile.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

It's possible for Bush not to be much like Nixon in a broad sense and yet for this issue to be reminiscent of Nixon, in terms of it being a seemingly extreme power grab.

Nixon was not trying to grap power. He was trying to cover-up. GWB IS absolutely trying to grab power.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect I'm going to wind up with a Republican Party Reptile

Good luck. My 13 year-old has the acting bug as well. Already appeared on two TV shows as well as singing with the Opera. Still likes me. We'll see how long that lasts.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Even for people who weren't around during the Nixon years, it can still serve as a cultural touchstone. I wasn't really old enough to remember Challenger distinctly, but when someone mentions it, it still has emotional meaning for me. Same with Nixon.

This makes no sense. If you can't remember Challenger then you were no born when Watergate occured. How could it possibly have emotional meaning? Get chocked up over Andrew Johnson too?

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

BTW Tom - Have you noticed that rdw's parody is using the same e-mail as the genuine (sic) article? A gesture of the esteem in which you are held here at Political Animal.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't know. I actually don't read a lot of rdw posts, so if there was a fake one, I missed it.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm hoping somebody picks up her books for a movie someday

BTW it's definitely a thought. I'd be tempted to go live action although animation would be so much cheaper. The rocket building scene, culminating with painting the magic sealant would be a wonderful montage. Andy Serkis as Mr. Bass?

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK


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Posted by: 打折机票 on January 2, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for the staunch 2nd amendment people to put 2 and 2 together. People like Red State Mike should be among the first to change their notions of Bush's infallibility (as if) since he's already convinced the NSA is doing much more than just eavesdropping but is in fact doing wholesale datamining. What sorts of information would make the short list of red flags in a terrorist sweep-up? Okay, obviously, cell calls to OBL, as Bush has said they're already tracking diligently. Then what? Maybe largescale purchases of black powder, detonating caps, fertilizer, Korans... What else would they be interested in cross-referencing? Oh yeah - gun ownership and ammunition purchases would make any half-assed short list. I'd think a real hotspot for surveillance would be Walmart, gun shows and amateur militia outings.

That doesn't sound like my elite tofurkey-eating liberal friends. Not any of it, actually. (Okay, full disclosure - I may unkowingly have friends who are engaged in PETA and whom may also be Quakers, but they're asking for it.) But wait until the rubes -- I mean, Bush's base -- finally figure out that all the jack-booted thuggery they expected from Clinton actually came to pass under their hero Bush.

Not that I'm actually holding my breath for any Red State Realizations, mind you. Certainly not while rdw and his ilk yet cling to some ethereal 68% of like-minded pro-Fascists certified by Rasmussen.

Posted by: KG on January 2, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

RDW and TBROZ,

Could you spread your collective cheeks ANY WIDER for Bush and crew?

RDW, if you served, it sure as hell wasn't a combat MOS... or you're just another liar, like your hero, GWB.

You like war far too much to ever have experienced it. Either that, or you're just insane.

Piss on the both of you for mortgaging our freedoms to Bush for your own inadequacies.

Posted by: john manyjars on January 2, 2006 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

NSA eavesdropping data was shared, officials say
By WALTER PINCUS
Washington Post
1/1/2006

WASHINGTON - Information obtained through the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping on communications between the United States and overseas has been passed on to other government agencies

http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20060101/1070072.asp

Posted by: pat on January 2, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

Put Kevin Drum in a dress and he's Marcia Clarke losing the OJ case.

Dems worst enemies are the dems like Kevin.

Posted by: Beedle on January 2, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

FISA court itself is unconstitutional, but it's never been challenged in court. This is how we get this incremental chipping away of our rights. By the time that somebody does challenge FISA's constitutionality, it'll be like the pledge of allegiance - 50 years will have gone by and the Supremes will declare it settled law.

Posted by: Gene Martin on January 2, 2006 at 4:29 AM | PERMALINK

One of the main talking points the Bushies use to justify illegal wiretapping is that it has kept us safe. They want us to believe there have been dozens of thwarted terrorist attacks which they can't talk about. After being stung by lie after lie the MSM assumes the roll of parrot again. If they pooled all their grey matter, would there be enough for one complete brain?

Wake up you patsies! It is damn obvious that if the Bushies actually had foiled any plots they would have trumpeted them to the housetops. Look at Jose Padillathe dirty bomb, the hurried press conference, the headlines all over America. Now, they have held the poor guy for three years without charges because after he served his purpose---to scare the Americans poopless---they dont have enough evidence to convict him of anything worse than thinking dark thoughts.

On one of the PBS Friday talk shows, Krauthammer parroted that point. "Why do you think Bin Laden has never scored another attack since 9-11?"

Mark Shields came back with a zinger. "Charles, considering all the Bush administration has done to America in the name of 9-11, Bin Laden didn't need another attack."

Posted by: James of DC on January 2, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

It'll be fun watching the Congress stop a program 2/3's of Americans want. I am obviously not the only fan of Rasmussen. Your friend Kevin is right there with me.

Posted by: rdw on January 1, 2006 at 10:49 PM |

This is why we have 3 branches of goernment and that the bill of rights can't be voted away by citizens or members of congress.

Posted by: Dan on January 2, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

Empathy may not be "a monopoly of people who show it by forcing other people to be generous", Tbrosz, but they seem to have more of it than people who don't believe in forcing even the rich to be generous.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 2, 2006 at 5:06 AM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz: "A lot of people are asking: why not go through the warrant process unless there was evil afoot? Many people have pointed out that it's possible, or even likely, that the technical means utilized in this system is not amenable to getting warrants in the normal sense in any realistic time frame, and that revealing the operation to the point where the Congress as a whole can pass legislation specific to it, would neutralize the intelligence tool. This factor is being largely ignored."

It's rather hard to see how, since the only system anyone has been able to conceive of that might not be amenable to warrants with a retroactive period is data mining -- and the only way THAT can be "neutralized as an intelligence tool" is if all the terrorists stop using phone lines or Internet lines completely and resort to communicating entirely via snail mail or personal couriers, which is likely to slow down their operations a teensy bit.

Still -- since at this point you're clearly grabbing for any half-assed argument you can in favor of giving the incumbent president totally unrestricted and unregulated spying rights in "wartime" (which, in the War Against Terrorism, is "forever") -- maybe we should be charitable toward you and assume you knew about that obvious point and just deliberately covered it up, rather than overlooking it out of sheer stupidity.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 2, 2006 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

While we're on the subject of Tbrosz's implausible stupidity: that Zogby poll clearly does NOT have a "49-45" margin in favor of totally unrestricted Presidential rights to wiretap without a warrant in the current situation -- it has such a margin in favor of the president not being required to get a warrant from a federal judge BEFORE he initiates every single wiretap against a possible terrorist, even in emergency situation, which of course is far from the situation even under the FISA rules. It DOES have a 67-29 margin in favor of allowing the President to do so only "in rare cases", which presumably means that by that margin the people will be amenable to setting up a system which keeps the president from doing so except when there's reasonable justification for it. Which, of course, is the current FISA system, with some elaborations to cope with the new problem of data mining.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 2, 2006 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

RDW is quite prolific -- how does he do it???

Not worth responding to -- no credibility: he has demonstrated lack of integrity in his posts on numerous occasions. I suspect another paid shill.

His disinterest in the law and the constitution in favor of the polls is quite telling. This is push-button stuff, entirely tactical, devoid of coherence.

What is also interesting is his focus on distingushing Watergate or, rather, on not comparing Watergate. I agree dems shouldn't yell "Watergate" as they push this. But by suggesting the comparison of Bush's misdeeds with Watergate forms the core of the dems' argument is typical rdw dishonesty. Most commenters who mention Watergate are doing so to hightlight in their own and for the benefit of readers of this blog the seriousness of Bush's transgressions. Rdw insists we shouldn't do that, because most Americans know nothing about Watergate. He says it repeatedly -- maybe he's paid by the post -- I wonder why this is so important to him? Just offering those moronic liberal elitists some good advice, eh?

As an aside, his statement that Nixon wasn't trying to grab power, just cover it up, is laughable. Breaking into an office of the DNC to bug the phones in the lead-up to and election isn't trying to grab power? This led to the cover-up, for which he was set to be impeached, but the broader context is obvious. Rdw is through the looking glass.

In any event, Bush's violation of the law stands on quite nicely on its own.


Posted by: Onomasticator on January 2, 2006 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK

Hi, Kevin.

I would like to comment on your post about the legalisms surrounding President Bush's admission to lawbreaking.

But I am intimidated from even thinking or even reading your post because of that awful image in the right-hand margin, the green ogre with the huge teeth.

I guess you are not in charge of this site and the blogads or whatever, but still I register my protest of this gruesome image. It does nothing for your image or ideas in my opinion. I'll adblock it now (adlock is an optional feature of the Firefox web browser as you know) and try to reread your post.

Sorry for the rant, sometimes these things just hit you if you know what I mean. All the best,

Posted by: jonku on January 2, 2006 at 7:02 AM | PERMALINK

Dude, Kevin, the tooth fairy - thats a chick.

Posted by: Nick T. on January 2, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

rdw = Al = Alice = Charlie = ...

kevin always has some wacked out right wing character throwing nonsense out there to turn his 23 comment posts into 97 comment posts. These characters say any idiodic right wing spew to see who they can suck into responding to them. THERE IS NEVER ANY RATIONAL DISCOURSE WITH THEM.

Are they real or invention? who cares, responding to them is a complete waste of time!

Posted by: zoot on January 2, 2006 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

Get chocked up over Andrew Johnson too?

Give the guy a break, rdw. Even I get "emoted" when thinking about good ol' Andy.

Posted by: bobbyp on January 2, 2006 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Dan K.: "Buck up and grow a pair!"

This is no time to be indulging your sorry-assed depression. This issue has legs and our job as Americans is to help it walk.

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to defend our freedoms and the rule of law. It's been less than a month since this broke and the details about this illegal domestic spying program are still being revealed and you're throwing in the towel already?

Apparently, you were expecting asome sort of instant, overnight revolt. Grow up! This is just beginning to unravel. It's going to take time and patient determination to hold the administration to account.

What we don't need is a bunch of Eeyores mumbling "it's no use, we're screwed, there'll be no America for our children."

Posted by: BroD on January 2, 2006 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Bush broke what law???


The FISA law does not say, the President MUST only follow FISA instructions and it has been clear in both court ruling and testimony that the Presidents since Carter have asserted their
Constitutional power to conduct surveillance on enemies for National Security. The courts have specifically stated that the President has such power.

SO DON'T MOAN AND GRAON ABOUT''THE PRESIDENT BROKE THE LAW" HE DIDN'T.

IT APPEARS IT WAS THE NYT THAT BROKE THE LAW..
and now they are in full cover up mode.

Even their public editor, BYRON CALAME, has been unable to get answers from the big wigs at the NYT about why they decided to break the laws of the country and support our enemy.

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Suck this one down with your morning Green Tea and biscuits:

Courts have upheld president's power to wiretap

President Bush's post-Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under all prior presidents.


In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision that the president does have authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that ''All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority.''

The passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 did not alter the constitutional situation. That law created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that can authorize surveillance directed at an ''agent of a foreign power,'' which includes a foreign terrorist group. Thus, Congress put its weight behind the constitutionality of such surveillance in compliance with the law's procedures.

But as the 2002 Court of Review noted, if the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches, ''FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power.''


"""""We take for granted that the president does have that authority. """"""""""

WHAT PART OF THAT DOES THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY NOT UNDERSTAND????

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Mark Shields came back with a zinger. "Charles, considering all the Bush administration has done to America in the name of 9-11, Bin Laden didn't need another attack."

Wow! Life as a lib has to suck. How hard is it to get up in the morning with that level of misery? He thinks GWB is worst than Osama and he's facing 3 more years! I'm going to guess when Mark saw the Rasmussen poll he went and had a good, long cry. Has he found anything to replace his CNN gig? Things are not going Mark's way.

My guess is Mark is actually serious about the Osama comment. He sees what is going on in Europe with the failed constitution, the exploding social problems, the disasterous demographics, the collapse of NATO with the US removing 80% of it's troops from Germany, the pending collapse of Kyoto, the regular bypassing of the UN and the dramatic realignment of US Foreign Policy toward Asia. Mark is a serious liberal who would like to see America become closer to and more like Canada, France and Germany. He understands GWB has moved us dramatically and permanently in the opposite direction and there's no chance of a reversal.

Mark has been watching for 5 years as his beloved institutions collapse around him and there's nothing he can do. How bad is it that CNN fires him and hires Bill Bennett?

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

As an aside, his statement that Nixon wasn't trying to grab power, just cover it up, is laughable. Breaking into an office of the DNC to bug the phones in the lead-up to and election isn't trying to grab power? This led to the cover-up, for which he was set to be impeached, but the broader context is obvious. Rdw is through the looking glass.

No it was not an attempt to grap power. It was an attempt to win re-election. By grab power here we're been talking about increasing the power of the Presidency.

By all means don't take my advice on the constant Watergate analogies. Keep on doing exactly as you have been. It's working so well for you. There's little more pathetic than old people living in the past and refusing to move on.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

This is why we have 3 branches of goernment and that the bill of rights can't be voted away by citizens or members of congress.

Not bad for a lib Dan. You got it half right. The Bill of Rights can be voted away. It's a living Constitution remember!

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

from james in d-c's post above......a comment on this........On one of the PBS Friday talk shows, Krauthammer parroted that point. "Why do you think Bin Laden has never scored another attack since 9-11?"


there wasnt an al-queda attack inside the u-s in the 4-years...BEFORE...9-11...

(actually....only two such attacks inside us ....2/1993 and on 9/11..8.5-years in between)

its that old absense of evidence....is evidence of...oh forget it...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 2, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Since C.S. Lewis is in vogue, let's quote him on this subject: "The greatest of all public dangers is the Committee of Public Safety" -- by which, as he said, he meant one with absolute power. A pity that our resident nitwits can't (or, more precisely, won't) figure that one out -- which (as Kevin has recently pointed out) puts them very far to the Right not only of George Will but of Jonah Goldberg. Which means, really, that I don't see any point on any of us wasting any more of our time on them; they've officially tagged themselves not as conservatives but as fascists.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on January 2, 2006 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

His disinterest in the law and the constitution in favor of the polls is quite telling. This is push-button stuff, entirely tactical, devoid of coherence.

It's perfectly coherent. I am the only one who has been able to explain why Kevin and Steve are so upset by the Rasmussen poll. Congress will not work at odds against the will of 2/3's of Americans. Kevin understands the 2-wk media blitz was counter-productive. It did not work politically. GWB is holding the aces.

As far as the law it's just moronic for a non-lawyer to argue technical aspects of the law with other non-lawyers. The only common sense approach is to look at it from a distance and consider which side has the better lawyers. So I put a call in to Al Gore and asked him. He said to put my money on George. I wanted a 2nd opinion so I called the NY Times. They agreed.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Committee of Public Safety"

Finer citizens, I have never met.

Posted by: Robespierre on January 2, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

WARNING: The following posting has been judged a rant.

Those responsible for 9-11 need hunted down - relentlessly and without distraction. They are vermin.

It shows Osama far too much respect to willingly acquiesce in the giving up of freedoms and civil liberties in the course of the chase.

rdw and his ilk and patton and her friends at the asylum want to show Osama this respect. Well, I don't!!!!! Fuck Osama and fuck those who would give up liberties so frivolously. What quivering cowards!

Three weeks of traffic deaths or two weeks of influenza worth of death soon on five years ago (and I'm not making light of 9-11; a good friend's older brother died there) and their only concern is to feel as safe as safe can be.

Well, let me state here, no one has the right (though they may well have the power) to read my mail or monitor my phone calls (as Red State Mike noted above this is more likely than not some sort of data mining operation) and not because I'm worried I might be caught out at something - I'm not. It's because these are rights of free men. Rights that free men do not give away. And if it makes me marginally, infintessimally less safe (or even a hell of a lot less safe) so be it. We all die, rdw. It's how you live.

P.S. Why is it that New Yorkers and Washingtonians do not show the same burbling fear of terrorist attack as surbuban Pennsylvanians? Is it the obesity thing?

And no transference, rdw, it's you who need to feel all safe, who's all tingly with fear, not I even though I live smack downtown in the middle of a likely target city (the country I'm in belongs to the 'coalition of the willing') pass through the most likely target station every morning and am within easy range of North Korean missiles for good measure. The far bigger threat though is an earthquake.

And while I'm at my rant, I might as well add, for chrissakes stop spouting such BS all the time. If you're going to stick around, try and converse (hint: this doesn't mean shouting talking points. It's boring, boring boring!!!). Othewise take LW Phil's advice.

I will now return to being sweetly reasonable (well maybe not so sweetly; the second I truly try for).

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

How wimpy can one get? Loser issue? Hardly.

Bushie is running scared right now. Some very brave person(s) had the nerve to tell the truth about how he is persecuting innocent citizens and now he is trying to cover up by intimidating others into not speaking up about his crimes. He is begging news organizations to cover up. He is lying through his teeth and trying to cover up by saying the people he investigated were "limited" and had links to "the enemy". If you believe this given his record and that of Rove and Cheney, you are truly naive. The reality is that he couldn't get warrants because he was violating the law to persecute political enemies and anyone who disagreed with his horrific actions and made fun of him and spoken up. Bushie is trying to cover-up his crime by 1) intimidating the whistleblower(s) 2) intimidating the media 3) lying about the nature and the subjects of his paranoic high-tech-stalkings of innocent American citizens.

If the rhetoric is used correctly instead of the submissive parroting of the bush line that is being repeated on the MSM, the issue will be a winner. When the issue is framed correctly as in "spying on INNOCENT moms and dads", "spying on INNOCENT Americans who question their elected leadership" and best of all "broke the law to persecute Christians who disagree with his 'version' of religion (i.e. the Quakers in FL)". Bushie can fling "enemy" allegations around to scare the gullible, using rhetoric like "break the law", "innocent", "persecute", "moms and dads", "paranoic high-tech-stalkings" is important.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 2, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hate to post again but what snicker-snack wrote was so well stated. These are the rights of free men, rights that free men do not give away. Beautiful.

And if bushie can thump his Bible, I can thump mine. In the words of St Timothy "there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed."

Posted by: Chrissy on January 2, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Are they real or invention? who cares, responding to them is a complete waste of time!

I don't agree.

As would-be grown-ups we're saddled with the sometimes unfortunate responsibility of answering these loons.

Just to let their paranoid, know-nothing bilge stand unchallenged makes this page a shaky advertisement for our views.

Sad but true.

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

rdw: Just another member of the ankle-grabbing, pillow-biting enablers of the anti-Bill of Rights wing of the Republican party...Too bad that his alleged military service didn't teach him anything about what he was defending.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 2, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

This issues seems like such a clear loser for the -- Democrats????????

Only if people LIKE YOU roll over and play dead on the most serious abuse of constitutional power since Nixon.

Posted by: Ba'al on January 2, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Chrissy,

here's hoping St. Timothy is right. Or rather, here's hoping people fight the fight needed to make St. Timothy right.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

"what he was defending"

How dare anyone imply that he did not know what he was defending!!

He was defending the rights of canned goods being able to cross the Atlantic without spilling. He was defending the Jolly Green Giant.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 2, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul on January 2, 2006 at 11:36 AM:

He was defending the Jolly Green Giant.

Humph. That explains the intense focus the right-wingers had on Terri Schiavo...They heard the word 'vegetative' and began having flashbacks...

Posted by: grape_crush on January 2, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Snicker-snack.

We already know all about you.......

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Snicker-Snack,
You send one more letter with fake Anthrax in it to Dick Cheney or one more threatening phone call to Laura Bush and we will see where your rights end, and Bubbas tool begins.

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

We already know all about you.......

Well then, for starters you would know that the name's all small case.

And were I, darling Patton, to send letters with fake Anthrax (I actually prefer my battles aboveboard, with words) then there too my rights SHOULD end - with my incarceration. But you go on being a frightened little puddy-tat. You make a good subject. The king is proud. But I for one would be happier to be called hard-to-govern.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's quite a task to juggle the igno-fascist turds at the rate tbrosz & rdw churn them out.

...and that revealing the operation to the point where the Congress as a whole can pass legislation specific to it, would neutralize the intelligence tool. This factor is being largely ignored."

If it cannot be effective if done legally there is a simple solution, do it illegally. Works for Bush and everyone else who is indifferent to the law.

It's perfectly coherent. I am the only one who has been able to explain why Kevin and Steve are so upset by the Rasmussen poll. Congress will not work at odds against the will of 2/3's of Americans. Kevin understands the 2-wk media blitz was counter-productive. It did not work politically. GWB is holding the aces.

Wow. 'Kay, rdw, show us your evidence that Kevin and Steve are upset by Rasmussen. Make it good, thanks, because I've seen no reference to the poll by either of them. I don't think it necessary to add that the poll question you're hanging your hat on was sufficiently vague that no one in Congress need give it a second thought.

Ho. Hum.

As far as the law it's just moronic for a non-lawyer to argue technical aspects of the law with other non-lawyers. The only common sense approach is to look at it from a distance and consider which side has the better lawyers.

*Shaking head ruefully* So true. Only a moron would think himself capable of understanding the english language of the US Constitution... Big words, rdw, big words.

You seem to get awfully bored when the words of our Founding Fathers bump up against your igno-fascist Big-Daddy administration...

Ho. Hum.

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

SNICKER SNACK, WHO'S THIS KING YOU REFER TOO? WOULD THAT BE THE ONE THAT KICKED KERRY'S BUTT IN THE LAST ELECTION?

I DIDN'T KNOW KINGS WERE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE....

And no, I'm not frightened, I am in fact soooo happy the left keeping pushing the Democrats to fight the Republicans on National Security, thus ensuring the Democrats repeated defeat.
As long as we have the lefties pushing the Democrats into ridiculous stands, I am the happiest and least frightened cat in the cathouse.

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack,

Feel Better?

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Why is it that New Yorkers and Washingtonians do not show the same burbling fear of terrorist attack as surbuban Pennsylvanians? Is it the obesity thing?

I can't speak for NYers but I can for Pennsylvanians. No one is afraid. We're not afraid of Osama and we're damn sure not afraid of the ghost of Tricky Dick. This is quite beautiful state especially as you get outside Philadelphia. We're just not an attractive target. We're too spread out with more horses and cows than people and with a lot of hills and valleys. One of the 9/11 pilots found out.

We're also not afraid of Uncle Sam snooping in. Most of us either served or know those who have as well as cops, FBI agents and others. We know they're good and honest people with no interest in our personal lives. If my house receives a call from an Al Qaeda operative please investigate fully. You have my permission. If they call my neighbors, you have my permission to do an even more thorough search. You will have my full support.

I have no fear. What I have is confidence.

I don't watch George Clooney movies and I can imagine you were chilled to the bone at his last two but trust me, it's just hollywood. It's a movie. It's not reality. It's not in the neighborhood of reality. Althought I may go to see Syrinna. I heard it's about the CIA and Oil companies. They're the bad guys. I've never heard that one before. It's so original.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. 'Kay, rdw, show us your evidence that Kevin and Steve are upset by Rasmussen.

LEAST HELPFUL...POLL...EVER.... (Steve)

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn't it? (Kevin)


Kevin goes on vacation thinking Impeachment is in the air. He comes back and, poof! Allow me to give a hint. Depressing is not a good thing.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it necessary to add that the poll question you're hanging your hat on was sufficiently vague that no one in Congress need give it a second thought.


Easy for you to say! You're not up for re-election.

Hey, didn't you say this same thing before the last two elections? I'm certain it was you. In 2002 you told Max Cleland to ignore those polls on homeland security and in 2004 it was Tommy Daschle. Me? I'm thinking Kevin is depresed for a reason. They won't be ignoring the polls this time.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Curious use of 'kick-butt' Does this now mean 'squeaking by with the smallest possible margin? Or is this just another example of creating reality?

WHO'S THIS KING YOU REFER TOO? Fair enough. I guess you can never get too much of the Big O. 'Kay, add all the O's you want. How's this? TOOOOOOOOOOO....

If it looks like a duck...

Quite seriously, elections are never a given. Governments like companies hate competition and would rather have the field to themselves. If history has taught anything, it is to be eternally vigilant against government abuse. But in this I admit, I'm conservative. You take the radical position. But note how many conservatives are agin this (sorta the topic of this thread).

Glad you're a happy cat. Hope you continue to be happy when, your bluster nonwithstanding, your beloved party becomes unelectable for a generation (I actually don't look 100% forward to this; it was unhealthy for the Dems to have no real competition for fifty years; just as it's unhealthy for incumbents to have no real competition now but that's a whole other kettle of fish).

And suffice it to say that I find your use of ridiculous ridiculous.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

well then you give your permission for your goverment to snoop on you. I don't give them mine. And I have not ceded this conviction that it is MINE to give.

And a monomaniacal response to terrorism - a mid-level threat much less important to much of the world than AIDs or malaria or global warming or the threats of growing nationalism in both China and the States - stinks of fear as does welcoming government intrusion.You say otherwise but sorry, but that's just how it looks from here. But please, push this observation away.

It's 3.30 in the morning here... Time to sleep.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack,

Not only isn't that going to happen here but liberalism is being rolled back all over. I am speaking of post-68 American liberalism which is for all purposes the same as Canadian, French, German, etc.

Europe had a disasterous year. The EU constitution has failed. Economic growth sucked. Unemployment remains high and social unrest increased. I had no idea these car-b-ques were a regular feature of French night life. On top of that GWB has completed the permanent removal of 100,000 troops (80%) from Germany and NATO and has been informed more are leaving. To the extent NATO provided the illusion of EU military power that illusion has been destroyed.

We know this because when it came time to provide tsumami relief one nation was there in a very huge way almost immediately with help from Korea, Japan, australia and a few others. The result has been a dramatic snap back of positive polling data regarding Indonesia's view of America. It's the highest in over a decade and well above Europe and the UN, neither of whom were seen much during the relief operations.

That could have been a NATO or a UN operation. It was neither and will never again be either. As Mark Steyn noted regarding his native Canada; They had a supply of valuable aid but Canada, like France and Germany, is so dependent on the US military, they are unable to deliver this aid to even remote places in Canada, let alone to Asia. Thus Indonesia TV showed around-the-clock rescue efforts by the US led coalition saving Indonesian lives. They did not show much of France or Canada.

I understand Canada had a rather tumulteous year as well. Our nothern cousins are so quiet but I suspect some of the news they wanted to keep quiet. Paul Martin could soon join Gerhardt working for Lukoil. The worst for Canada however is what is to come from Kyoto. Bill Clinton did his best but the December 'summit' was a disaster. Kyoto is dead and it's going to have a very, very expensive end for Canadians.

This is all happy talk compared to a demographic analysis. Mark Steyn wrote a hilarious 1/1/06 article in the New Criterion citing a lof of the data (nothing new) and it is chilling. There's little question by 2040 or 2050 the average Frenchman will be praying 5x's a day. Germany and Denmark not only have lower birth rates but are also seeing the 1st out-migrations since before WWII. They might say they hate John Howard but their actions say different because that's where many are going.

You are also well aware of the stream of layoff annoncements by Northern Unions in the Auto, News,Drig and other industries. As would be expected Northern cities are still losing population at a rapid pace led by Mass and Michigan. They're not moving to France. They're moving to Mississippi and Florida and they're changing colors. The Southern states are becoming redder. Expect the 2010 census to cost the blue states another 7 seats. That's just one reason why Hillary won't be waiting for 2012. It'll be even harder then.

This country won't be going Blue and Hillary will NOT turn on Iraq or promise tax increases. She'll do what her husband did. She'll be a new Democrat not to be confised with the old. There would be one exception. If he wins she won't repeat her husbands mistake of governing like an old democrat. She won't want a 1994 in her legacy.

We'll never have a liberal in office again. We might have a Democrat but no one you'll like.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

And a monomaniacal response to terrorism - a mid-level threat much less important to much of the world than AIDs or malaria or global warming or the threats of growing nationalism in both China and the States - stinks of fear as does welcoming government intrusion.You say otherwise but sorry, but that's just how it looks from here. But please, push this observation away.

AIDs, Malaria and Global Warming are not threats in the USA. GW isn't a threat anywhere and thanks to action from people like GWB, Bill Gates, Bono and many others great progress is being made on AIDS and Malaria in the 3rd world.

You are quite free to see it your way but the liberal method of using massively corrupt and bloated bureaucracies such as the UN for the delivery of AID has been fully debunked as legitimate policy. Bush and Gates are re-writing the model. GWBs efforts in this regard will dwarf Clintons in terms of money spent and acheived results. GWB eschews the press conferences everytime he spends a dime on aid and has been able to get a lot more done. Most Americans will be shocked when they see the differences between administrations in what was said and what was done.

BTW: Bush is also doing far more with the 3rd world in terms of trade and this is also under the radar. The morons in the MSM covered the summit of the Americans in Argentina as a victory for Hugo and a defeat for Bush. Hugo did a lot mugging for the cameras so he 'won'. Sometimes I think the MSM only hires from academia to find people this stupid. At the end of the Summit, after GWB had private meetings with the Presidents of Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama Hugo realized Bush was about to create a free trade zone that extended from his toes to the North Pole and then from his ass all the eay to the South pole Hugo flipped out on Vincente Fox and got his ambassador kicked out of Mexico. Mexico withdrew it's ambassador from Venezuela.

But Hugo 'won'.

GWB isn't making irrational responses to terrorism. He is eliminating it.

BTW: President Lula of Brazil is quite pleased with his negotiations with Bush. There will be additional trade and security agreements with Brazil. It may be just with Brazil but almost definitely with Mercasur and probably a larger group of 3rd world nations.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

You May Already Be A Bunch Of Fuckwieners

Thanks, rdw, for putting "Justice" Harold and the rest of the little bitches in their rightful places.

Of course there is SOME limit to what an administration can do or not in war (or quasi-war) time. But listening to a bunch of leftie whiners who (1) don't know and don't understand the constitutional case law interpreting the "commander in chief" language in the constitution; and (2) have no idea what the actual details of the program was, what the potential harm was, and what the benefits were; is very unlikely to be enlightening. Just let them fulminate. They have absolutely nothing to say that could be interesting. No comment is necessary.

Your point about the polling is much better since that's something these fuckwits might understand. 68% is a pretty decent number. Kevin's sudden funk (do you think JetBlue lost his luggage?) is definitely related.

Impeachment, lefties? Dream on.

Posted by: lab on January 2, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

In response to a post of mine, Dan Kervic wrote: Contentious, this is a left vs. left debate that has apparently gone over your little head. The whole point of the hypothetical example was to describe a maifestly fictional scenario that was unquestionably outrageous, thoroughly preposterous and beyond the pale of realistic conceivability.

Only you guys on the far left are unable to understand why strategies with such a locution are self-defeating.

Posted by: contentious on January 2, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

R. Porrofatto wrote this: I try to be polite but it's simply impossible when faced with these ignorant shitheads who keep spouting their lies and bullshit on public threads without the slightest shame. They are without a shred of dignity.

It isn't impossible to be polite. Just go read or work awhile to build up your "dignity" regenerated. Don't forget to repent of your own sins; no one is blameless.

Posted by: contentious on January 2, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"AIDs, Malaria and Global Warming are not threats in the USA."

Yet another example of rdw talking out of his ass and showing how completely ignorant he is.

"GWB, Bill Gates, Bono and many others great progress is being made on AIDS and Malaria in the 3rd world."

Thanks to Bill Gates there is now money for vaccine research and trials for malaria and AIDS. Thanks to GWB, NIH is getting a less than cost of living increase in their budget. Not that it matters for malaria research because the USA is not interested in malaria research.

"Most Americans will be shocked when they see the differences between administrations in what was said and what was done."

I sure will be shocked if I ever find out what was said and what was done by this super secretive admin.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 2, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

whosays,

There are many things you can criticize GWB for but cutting spending isn't one of them. It will be much to the chagrin of Liberal Historians to write on the commitment GWB has made to 3rd world aid versus that of Clinton. It's embarrasing.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

You should stick to parrotting Limbaugh's talking points. A sentence at a time. Don't try paragraphs.

That global analysis thing you just did - that was beyond putrid.

Posted by: caribou on January 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Caribou,

How's this for putrid? Think Chuckie saw the Rasmussen polls?


WALLACE: Gentlemen, one of the first issues that the Senate is going to have to take on early this year is going to be this question of trying to draw the balance between presidential powers and protecting civil liberties of Americans in fighting the war on terror.

Senator McConnell, you've got renewal of the Patriot Act on your plate, also possible hearings into this domestic NSA spying program. Any chance that the Senate will put new limits on the president's powers?

MCCONNELL: Well, we'll certainly take a look at that, but thank goodness the Justice Department is investigating to find out who has been endangering our national security by leaking this information so that our enemies now have a greater sense of what our techniques are in going after terrorists.

The overwhelming majority of the American people understand that we need new techniques in the wake of 9/11 in order to protect us. The president feels very, very strongly that he's acted constitutionally.


What was interesting to me was how relatively moderate, almost conciliatory, Schumer's tone was. He criticized President Bush for "unilaterally changing the law," and got away with never explaining what he meant by that.

Still, Schumer, a bitter partisan, also said things like this:

Well, the bottom line is I think everyone, Democrats and Republicans, wants to give the president the tools that he needs to fight the war on terror. No question about it. But the way our country works is the balance between security and liberty is a very delicate one.
And obviously, in times of war, in times of terrorism, the balance shifts towards security, and it should. There are some on the doctrinaire left who say never change it. I don't agree with that. Almost no Democrat does.


I think the Democrats have been reading the polls.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Its pretty laughable for liberals to claim to be for privacy and free from government instrusion. These are the same liberals who have given us the most instrusive federal system imaginable:

THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE AND THE INCOME TAX

And to top it off, if I don't tell the IRS all my personal information..they can send me to jail, and I have to prove myself innocent.

And of course, the left wants an even bigger, more controlling IRS taking even more of our money and our personal and financial freedom.

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

caribou,

What exactly did I get wrong?

Was it that rockem-sockem 1.2% economic growth in Old Europe I didn't show enough respect for?

The car-b-ques?

Did you notice I forgot to include Pakistan in the same story with Indonesia? Your are correct. Our polls numbers in Pakistan are at all time highs and you are correct to note that has more than a little to do with out relief activities after the earthquake. Funny how all of those rescue copters have USA on them and none have UN, NATO, France, Germany, Canada, etc. You would think 24 x 7 coverage wouldn't be that big a deal but it seems the Pakistani's noticed how was there and who was not.

Could the putrid part have been elsewhere?

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

The left insists the goverment know everyone I've worked for, how much money they paid me, where they got the money, who I gave the money to.
Did I give my money to a nanny, or a daycare, if so how much, for how long, what I spent on healthcare - in detail. What charities I gave money to, how much and when, etc. etc,. etc.

THE LIST OF FREEDOMS GIVEN UP FOR THE LIBERALS INCOME TAX IS WAY BEYOND ANYTHING BUSH COULD HAVE IMAGINED AS INTRUSION INTO OUR PERSONAL LIVES.

ALSO, THE IRS DOESN'T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE NORMAL RULES FOR NOT INCRIMINATING YOURSELF, OR YOUR SPOUSE, ETC.

Of course, the liberals today spend most of their time fighting to keep the Barrett Independet Counsel report secret so we won't see how they abused the IRS to target political enemies.

Posted by: Patton on January 2, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

rdw:

What exactly did I get wrong?

Good grief...

Like I said, Kevin made no mention of Rasmussen. And just what the stupid poll means is completely undecipherable given the ambiguity in the questions. But that doesn't stop you from reading everyone's mind.

This country won't be going Blue and Hillary will NOT turn on Iraq or promise tax increases. She'll do what her husband did. She'll be a new Democrat not to be confised with the old. There would be one exception. If he wins she won't repeat her husbands mistake of governing like an old democrat. She won't want a 1994 in her legacy.

You're a silly fool, rdw.

You contradict yourself six ways til Sunday in one paragraph, but you're too stupid to know the difference.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Using the NSA to listen in on the phone calls of potential terrorists was an illegal abuse of power by the President? Are you kidding me?

The whole idea that the President needed specific Congressional authorization in order to initiate this NSA Program is ridiculous and a blatant misreading of the law. The President has the inherent Constitutional power to use espionage to defend the country from threat of attack. The Congress can certainly pass laws in relation to the gathering of intelligence, but they CANNOT limit the power of the executive to create new tools to deal with a foreign threat. The FISA statute limits the executive branch's ability to gather intelligence on Americans, yes, but it doesn't go so far as to restrict the Commander in Chief's power in times of war.

Of course, the President has the authority to authorize the NSA to listen in on calls made to the phones of captured terrorists. These calls are a CLEAR THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY, and accordingly, the President has the responsibility to make sure that they are monitored. To not do so would be a disservice to the country.

I can understand how many people, conservatives included, would have worries about the use of the NSA to monitor calls which orignate inside of the U.S. It is perfectly legitimate to worry about the "slippery slope" precedent that this might set.

However, to state that the President has "broken the law" or engaged in "illegal wiretaps" is incredibly demagogic. Beyond that, it is not even close to an accurate reading of the law. IF you don't believe me, follow the legal debate that will surely ensue over the upcoming months.

If you're an honest observer (and not a Bush-hating partisan hack), I'm sure that you'll come to the realization that you've been duped into equating a legitimate attempt to defend the country with a Nixonian attempt to abuse presidential power.

Posted by: starkd on January 2, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

"There are many things you can criticize GWB for..." rdw 4:09 PM

rdw, I'm shocked to hear you say that GWB can be criticized for many things. Would you please list a few things he can be criticized about?

Posted by: WhoSays on January 2, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Go to bed and wake up to two lengthy, uh, rebuttals (??) from rdw. A few points.

1) Some of what you say is right, some is off and a whole lot is missed out. Yet from this you draw loud conclusions which you shout to the clouds... I think Alexander Pope had the rdw's of the world in mind.

2) More and more paragraphs written in the style of 1) do not buttress your case. It's rather a case of 'Better to remain silent and be thought...'

3) I'm not quite sure who you're arguing against - your personal liberal demons? Are they intellectual and French? It'd be polite to actually address the views of the person you're ostensibly addressing your screed to.

4) The world will prove your views wrong.

5) You won't be able to recognize this.

A Happy New Year by the way. May 2006 see an improvement in your ciritical thinking skills.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Lab (or should I collegially address you as Fuckwiener?),

Definitely quasi-war (or more acurately colonial skirmish). War sounds something like this: 26 million dead Russians, 8 million dead Germans, 6 million dead Japanese... It's a whole different scale.

Iraq has experienced war. You Yanks haven't (except for those actially in Iraq or Afghanistan). Anyone not there has no right to swagger about this. Most there have more sense than to swagger.

You want to cede power (and you're right we don't know the details and can only surmise; otherwise be aiding and abetting the terrirts don't ya know? but a data-mining operation would be a huge intrusion) to the executive (CIC, btw, only of the military not the nation) to track down some criminals. Kinda seems to me like you're the one losing your head.

Just a fuckwiener watching the end of the American Empire.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

3) I'm not quite sure who you're arguing against - your personal liberal demons? Are they intellectual and French? It'd be polite to actually address the views of the person you're ostensibly addressing your screed to.


I am quite content. The views I was addressing were yours. Specifically your party making a comeback. Only after it moves to the right.

4) The world will prove your views wrong.

I am already correct. Your institutions are stalled or in ruin. The EU will muddle thru it's constitutional issues but never become the military or diplomatic force imagined. Think Switzerland with rampant bribery. Ditto the UN. Kyoto is a severe blow. That was going to be their mechanism to control global environmental affairs. All gone! George has done to Kyoto what he did to the ABM treaty.

The liberals favorite states are Canada, France, Germany and other Old European states. They are doomed to slow growth and increasingly severe social problems the result of disasterous demographics (which continue to worse) as well as socialistic economic policies. The 1st MBA President is acting as CEO. We have assets and interest to maintain but all new investment and attention and talent is focused on Asia.

Point of it all being that GWB hasn't just completely outsmarted American liberals but ALL liberals.

5) You won't be able to recognize this.

Agreed.

A Happy New Year to you as well.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, I'm shocked to hear you say that GWB can be criticized for many things. Would you please list a few things he can be criticized about?

You are not the only one who cringes when he mangles the English language or when he smiles when he's not supposed to smile. He's been spending like a pig as has my beloved GOP Congress. We wasted too much time in Iraq because we did not have the right people in place after the invasion. He needs to beef up his DC staff and rotate some people out of cabinet positions. He should have given Karl a break during that investigation and had someone else mining the shop. He lost 6 months by sitting back and not actively campaigning for himself. He'll never be Clinton or Reagan in a press conference but they can place him where he's effective. He needs to be more active in candidate recruitment and do more fundraising.

No President is perfect. GWB has as many flaws as any man. But I agree with Bill Clinton. He is an extraordinary politician. It is amazing a man with such poor speaking skills has been able to do the things he's done.

For example his management of the War resolution on Iraq is a textbook example of brilliant tactical and strategic politics. I thought Tom Daschle was a very good politician. Certainly far better on Meet the Press or in front of any mike than GWB. Yet GWB crushed him on the resolution. His timing to wait before the re-election campaigns started to agree to go to Congress was just perfect. He had a running battle with Tom demanding he get a resolution. GWB waited and waited for the tension to build and then a soon as he agreed Tom knew the timing was awful for Democrats. He made a few lame pleas to wait until after the election so as to not 'politicize' the vote and was essentially laughed at. If I remember correctly George received 95 votes and gave Howard Dean a hammer of beat up the rest of the 2004 primary field. Howard ended up scaring Kerry into making the famous, "I voted for it before I voted against it" line that many think cost him the election.

GWB is the reason there are only 44 Democratic Senators.

GWB is the reason we're not in Kyoto or the ABM treaty.

GWB is the reason we've pretty much separated from Europe diplomatically and militarily.

GWB is the reason we now use the US Military in humanitarian operations separate from the UN and our aid to the developed world is now channeled outside the UN. It's not getting stolen and they recipients see who's helping.

GWB is the reason the US is no longer tied to the UN, EU, NATO, etc. but instead can select coalitions of the willing with like-minded allies with the means and the will to do well. We have a far, far more effective foreign policy as a result.

Posted by: rdw on January 2, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK
The EU will muddle thru it's constitutional issues but never become the military or diplomatic force imagined. Think Switzerland with rampant bribery. Ditto the UN. Kyoto is a severe blow. That was going to be their mechanism to control global environmental affairs. All gone! George has done to Kyoto what he did to the ABM treaty. … The 1st MBA President is acting as CEO.... Point of it all being that GWB hasn't just completely outsmarted American liberals but ALL liberals. Posted by: rdw
Your Stalinist devotion to your leader is well known, but you could at least have tried to find a competent person to idolize.

If you think there is rampant bribery in Switzerland, you should visit Washington and Iraq where Bush's crony capitalists have been bribing the Republican Party for over a decade. Those are the bribes that affect us all.

It is true that Bush has violated, revoked, and ignored almost every treaty the US is in. That is not a good argument: it has been one of the causes of the world's contempt for Bush and America. That makes any attempt at American leadership of world opinion moot. France, Germany, Russia, and China are filling in. That will not be to America's advantage.

As for European institutions being in ruin, not so. It is the American Constitution, the American economy, the American military, and American prestige that are in ruin. Europe can give its citizens healthcare and a more homogenous society economically than in the US. Can the imaging the Europeans committing a fiasco like the Bush response to 9-11 and Katrina?

It is your MBA president who has seen the number of Americans in poverty increase each year of his reign. It is your MBA president who has seen the number of Americans without health care increase each year of this reign. It is your MBA president who has seen budget surpluses dissipate into the largest deficits in the world. It is your MBA president who has presided over the largest account current deficits in American history. It is your MBA president who has failed to provide sufficient jobs for his citizens. That is your MBA president; and, if we survive this one, may we never have another.

One last point, what ever happened with that Oil for Food scandal?

The only outsmarting Bush has done is to make chumps of his sycophants.

Posted by: Mike on January 2, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Rot, rot and balderdash. Truly. Where do you come up with such hot air? And whence this need to bloviate? (actually, no, I don't need to know the answer). You must be a joy to work with...

Again, you demonstrate Alexander Pope...

You're quite right that much of the future of the world is Asia (I'm right here). But let me paint a one-sided picture in turn. Here are some other facts and it's not quite the US and Asia riding off together into the sunset. Here in the Asia I live in (our resident Malaysian Republican provides a counterpoint but a distinctly minority counterpoint) the US is increasingly being looked past and worked around. Recently, the first large pan-Asian meeting w/o a US presence. European goods have surpassed American goods (American brands are seen as lower-grade) in their appeal to Chinese. China is about to pip the US as Japan's largest trading partner. Your relationship with South Korea is in disarray. Aussies trust the Chinese more than they do Americans. Your best friend in the region, Japan sticks with the US more for selfish reasons - as a buttress against growing Chinese might - but feels more akin to Europe (the French lifestyle seems to be the Japanese ideal) and may one day learn to say 'no.' And a majority of Japanese feel the US would not necessarily come to their defense in a crisis. America is not quite the beacon for Asian students that it once was. Canada attracts four times more Asian students for its size than does the US. Australia can spout similar numbers. India would work more with the US (for the same reasons as Japan) but the US seems to prefer the Pakistani dictatorship. But yeah, it's the US and Asia... You're just off, rdw, just off...

You're right too that Europe's global weight will decline with its population (not exactly a difficult call but kudos to you for recognizing this bit of reality) At the individual level, it will also continue to provide better lives for most of its people (cue car'bcue jibe). Any other species of animal, you'd look at the health of the animal to judge their relative wealth. Here Europeans are taller and still growing taller (Americans stopped grow - upwards at least - 30 years ago). As I told you before, this is discounting for immigration and is largley not genetic. They are longer-lived and less diseased. GNP? I don't know - a useful tool for vertical comparisons, fraught with error when used for horizontal comparisons (relative PPP, size of hidden economies - these differ between countries by a factor of 20 - is the economic activitiy actually a net positive or a negative?)

Bribery? Transparency International would quibble with you. Apparently they believe the US is more corrupt. But hey, they're suspect. They're mostly concerned about multinationals doing business.

And pray tell, what are these fallen institutions you're babbling on about? When did the EU cease to be? It got a well-deserved slap in the face (bureaucratic over-reach, the need for more institutional accountability). It will end up I daresay come out of this better reflecting the desires of the citizens of European countries. What's the downside of this?

And I'm bemused by your views on the UN. It is a forum of world goverrnments, a talking shop. Its aims are only those that world governments can agree on. It is not an independent entity operating in its own geopolitical interests (though there are bureaucratic interests to be sure).

And it's good to know my views can be reduced to your simple caricature of them. Heck, I should give up thinking through my own positions, from now on just ask rdw what I think. How I want to use massively corrupt and bloated bureaucracies such as the UN for the delivery of AID and other positions I never knew I had. Thanks for so enlightening me as to my own thoughts!! But on second thought, nah, I prefer to do my own thinking. Now if you want to continue having a debate between yourself and your liberal strawman, please continue but your salutation should be liberal strawman not snicker-snack.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 2, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush turned to the nation and said of the war in Iraq,

"It's worth the sacrifice."

rdw, what do you think of that?

Middle class mothers of brave US soldiers: it's worth the sacrifice.

Lower class mothers, spouses & sisters & brothers of brave US soldiers: it's worth the sacrifice.

As for the rich and the ultra-rich, Bush handed them a series of ongoing tax-cuts, and he said to them:

"It's worth the sacrifice."

Posted by: An Evening Well Spent on January 2, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

"That's the trifecta: senior officials in all three branches of government felt that the program went beyond the president's authority."

The top guys at the New York Times have a lot of explaining to do. They obviously knew that the Bush administration was doing something impeachable before the November 2004 elections. And they chose to sit on it.

Of course, with the DOJ launching an investigation into who leaked the info about Bush's illegal program, the top guys at the NY Times can say "no comment" because it is now an official "ongoing" investigation. Just like Scottie and his incessant Barney Fife impression, "ongoing investigation, ongoing investigation, ongoing investigation."

I'm just surprised Gonzales and the Bush political hacks haven't tried to "pre-censor" the release of Risen's book exposing all the impeachable offenses of the Bush administration. However, the day after the Risen book hits the bookstores should be interesting, especially when the right-wing MSM tries to bury the rising calls for impeachment with their incessant, lying noise machine.

Posted by: The Oracle on January 3, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

If you think there is rampant bribery in Switzerland, you should visit Washington and Iraq where Bush's crony capitalists have been bribing the Republican Party for over a decade. Those are the bribes that affect us all.

I don't think there is bribery in Switerland. There IS in the upper reaches of France, Germany, Russia AND the UN. All were on Saddam's payroll. That was the point.

My apologies. I should have said, Think Switzerland, except with bibery.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

It is true that Bush has violated, revoked, and ignored almost every treaty the US is in. That is not a good argument: it has been one of the causes of the world's contempt for Bush and America. That makes any attempt at American leadership of world opinion moot. France, Germany, Russia, and China are filling in. That will not be to America's advantage.

Bush didn't violate either Kyoto or the ABM treaty. The AMB treaty had a clause allowing either party to end the pact with 6 months notice. GWB then went on to negotiate arms reductions with Putin well beyond anything the treaty required. Liberal historians will not be covering this as the MSM has.

As you know Clinton did NOTHING to make Kyoto the law. He decided to dump it in Gore's lap or the GOP President. At the time he didn't know who the next President would be. It's classic Slick Willie and you're the classic Slick willie fan with knee pads.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Can the imaging the Europeans committing a fiasco like the Bush response to 9-11 and Katrina?

Very easily. Remember a few years back when over 1,500 Europeans, mostly senior citizens died in a heat wave?

Typical, Katrina was far worse as a disaster. We did much better. As we do in everything

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

It is your MBA president who has seen the number of Americans in poverty increase each year of his reign.

Per capital GDP in the USA is growing 3x's as quickly as in France. The rising provery rate, which is tiny is a reflection of a much faster growing population. French per Capita GDP is less than 2/3's USA levels and will by 1/2 by 2020. 44% of American households make $75K or more and another 15% expect to do so soon. That might explain why your class warfare on tax cuts doesn't work. It gets weaker every year.

It is your MBA president who has seen the number of Americans without health care increase each year of this reign.

Every American has access to the finest health care system in the world.

It is your MBA president who has seen budget surpluses dissipate into the largest deficits in the world.

Quite wrong. Our budget deficits were lower than both France and Germany and that's despite fighting a war.


It is your MBA president who has presided over the largest account current deficits in American history.

I am sure you have no idea what this even means. Allow me to exlain. Nothing!

It is your MBA president who has failed to provide sufficient jobs for his citizens. That is your MBA president; and, if we survive this one, may we never have another.

Over 2M jobs added in 2005 and expexctations for 2.4M more in 2006. Unemployment is 5% and headed lower. It is expected to drop below 4.5% in time for the November elections.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

One last point, what ever happened with that Oil for Food scandal?

As far as I know it's still out there. It's politically senseless to keep hammering on this as a way to drive down the credibility. Is is possible to drive their credibility any lower? Kofi Annon is already a joke as is the UN.

Last I heard was a few UK reporters getting hammered by Kofi as a year-end press conference over his son stealing a mercedes or something on that order. Kofi was not happy.

The UN is simply not on the minds of Americans. Why would it be? What do they do? What can they do?

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

You're right too that Europe's global weight will decline with its population (not exactly a difficult call but kudos to you for recognizing this bit of reality)

Europe's global weight has collapsed already. They are an economic force only. They can only operate in diplomatic circles using bribery.

The EU is not going to be a United States of Europe. It's going to be a UN of Europe. it is as integrated as it's ever going to be. France and Germany are pushing for tax harminization at their level and it'll never happen. Hopes for closer integration with the UK over and it seems unlikely an EU fan like Blair will ever get elected.

The population decline is a disaster. France in 2030 isn't just going to have fewer French. It's going to have many more muslims. They are not adapting the French culture. They are not French. They do not wish to be French. Many are already predicting Europe will be known as Eurabia in another 20 years.

It's hard to predict how/when the culture shifts but it's easy to look at birth rates and see what is to come. In 2060 there will be half as many ethnic French and in 2120 half as many again.

I myself can't see how they get out of the current jam. Economists are seeing major improvements in Old Europe in 2006 but still only seeing 2% growth. They'll still have 10% unemployent and very high deficits. They are unable to do any restructuring or lower tax rates. They are doomed to a scenario where 2% GDP growth qualifies as exceptional. The longer this holds the faster the welfare state unravels.


At the individual level, it will also continue to provide better lives for most of its people (cue car'bcue jibe). Any other species of animal, you'd look at the health of the animal to judge their relative wealth. Here Europeans are taller and still growing taller (Americans stopped grow - upwards at least - 30 years ago). As I told you before, this is discounting for immigration and is largley not genetic. They are longer-lived and less diseased. GNP? I don't know - a useful tool for vertical comparisons, fraught with error when used for horizontal comparisons (relative PPP, size of hidden economies - these differ between countries by a factor of 20 - is the economic activitiy actually a net positive or a negative?)

Aggregate health data is much less informative than economic data. It's impossible to compare the USA with it's ethnic variability with France or Germany. Moreover there are great differences in data collection.

On the economic side EVERY measure of wealth favors the USA. It's rather silly to suggest people in high tax states have more money than those in lower tax states. If you look at the differences in households the gap is even starker. Americans have far larger homes with many more gadets, yards, pools, cars, boats, etc. and we have a cleaner environment that is getting dramatically more cleaner largely because we invest more in cleaning it. it.

What I find so stunning are the different trends. Europe is economically stagnant and on the cusp of a demographic collapse. The USA is economically vibrant with a growing population. We are 40% richer per capita, and growing 2x's to 3x's more quickly. The distinction of the developed world and undeveloped world won't be enough. It won't make sense to group France and Germany with the USA and the rest of the anglo world.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

It will end up I daresay come out of this better reflecting the desires of the citizens of European countries. What's the downside of this?

What's the upside?

It was a bad draft but it failed for the wrong reasons. The French want to preserve their economic rigidity thinking that represents security. What I see as the real disaster is really bad leadership. Schroeder was a putz and it's hard to know if Merkel will be any better. Chirac is worse than Schroeder and it's a horror they're stuck with him for 3 more years. Blair has been weakened and was never influential in the EU anyway. With this leadership vacuum the bureaucrats in Brussels end up ruling so essentially the EU is a mini-UN.

I think how GWB used the EU was brilliant by helping to load up with Eastern European nations he both weakened the influence of Old Europe and gave the new states access to a process of converting to capitalism. These states have few western institutions and they need to develop them. This process forces them to do so. It's a huge advantage for them politically. Hard reforms will happen more quickly. It's win/win.

Aside from this advantage and the development of the common currency and trade rules I'm not sure how much more the EU helps Old Europe.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Evening well spent,

It must kill you that we have a volunteer military. Hate to tell you but it draws from the entire population including the well off. If there's a clear distinction they do get many more from the south and midwest, Red State America, than CA and New England.

I'm not quite sure why libs connect tax cuts with war but as a political issue it's worthless.

I've also never understood the concept that parents send their kids to Iraq or to the Military. It doesn't work that way in Conservative households. We raise our kids so as adults they make their own adult decisions. One cannot go into the service unless they are an adult. These young adults make their own decisions and their own sacrifices.

It's of course a tradegy the families suffer. We stand on the shoulders of these other great people who have suffered. It's why we are free. We owe them a debt we can never repay. The suggestion raising taxes is a shared sacrifice is an insult to them and their families. You are a whore for using their suffering to advance your political agenda.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Aggregate health data is much less informative than economic data.

Bullshit. It's pretty damn easy to measure height (and other than pygmies and watusis and a few other small groups, genetics accounts for very little of the difference here. It's pretty damn easy to measure life expectancy. It's pretty damn easy to sample prevalence of disease.No lack of information there.

GNP is not designed to be a tool for horizontal compariison. FDR's team developed it to measure vertical change over time, a rough measure of total activity in the economy (of course whether this activity is net positivie or negative is not indicated. If I were to walk out the door on the start of a weekend and get hit by a car, have to take an ambulance to the hospital, undergo tests and spend a night under observation this would register as a net gain in GNP. Whether I would see it as a gain or not is another proposition.)

The extent of hidden economies are vastly different. I previously produced one estimate that had the Spanish hidden economy (around 20% IIRC) for instance at three times the size of America's (around 6% IIRC). Canada's too. Italy's too. This of course is what you would expect in higher tax regimes and of course this means that these economies are bigger than they officially apear. Official figures are hardly informative. PPP too needs to be taken into account. New York is far more expensive than Toronto for instance. Without this factoring, official figures are hardly informative. And as I suggested before, things that increase GDP may not be necessary indicative of quality of life and cannot be used as such. The US health system that 10's of millions live under of waiting until you're so sick you have to go to an emergency room may very well boost GNP. The 6 to 7% of the American GDP spent on healthcare paperwork is a boost most other countries don't share. Not sure how indicative this is of living quality. Also too, are we talking median or mean? You know the old adage that if Bill Gates walks into a bar, we are all on average billionaires. Median measures are much more indicative of how the average person lives. I saw one study that suggested that while the US had a higher average income than did Canada, Canada's median was higher.

And when you're talking GDP growth rates (this btw can be more usefully compared because the apples and oranges don't come so much into play) are you talking aggregate GDP growth or per-capita? To use the former in a discussion of relative wealth is quite obviously anything but informative. A high growth rate is needed just to stay in place in a country that's growing in people. In a country such as Italy (perhaps the most stagnant economy in Europe) you have a declining population and so a small increase in aggregate GNP actually means quite a lot more. In slow growing country like Denmark, last quarter's 5.7% growth is not bad. Ireland, of course, continues to race ahead. Europe certainly has its problems. There are nowhere near as dire as your silly and overblown rhetoric suggests.

Frankly, rdw, you are completely beyond redemption. You have some facts correct, some facts wrong (This: Quite wrong. Our budget deficits were lower than France for instance. In your world apparently -3.7% is less of a deficit than -3.2%; an excusable error were it not so loudly and excretably shouted), ignore facts whole cloth. Given this your conclusions are utterly, utterly worthless.

Add to this your stupid jingoism as in We did much better. As we do in everything This is truly, truly pathetic. I have encoutered people like this in all four countries I've lived in. It comes from an incredibly narrow life experience and the prejudice we all have to some extent which is to like what we know. But this kind of chauvinism is pretty dang useless as a philosophy. You might as well hoot, USA, USA, USA. Probably something deeply rooted in our psyches. Rival chimps hoot at each other this way. Not very convincing though.

You don't have the case for your excessive tone so cool it, bub.

I will read one or two more postings from you. If you cease being such a dishonest twat and a little more tentative in your conclusions given the loads and load you don't know, then I will ever skip over your name. I like talking to people with opposing views. Blowhards are another matter and I am just not interested in engaging in simian hooting.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 3, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and since you're throwing insults like whore around now, let me add that you are a delusion fool. Let me reproduce the Alexander Pope quotation for your benefit:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

Drink deep, rdw. Drink deep.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 3, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

I think how GWB used the EU was brilliant by helping to load up with Eastern European nations he both weakened the influence of Old Europe and gave the new states access to a process of converting to capitalism.

What the fuck are you talking about? What the fuck did GW have to do with EU expansion? This has been on the cards for years with a schedule and guidelines and everything. Where does GW come to play a part in this? Amazing.This is perhaps the daftest thing I have ever, ever read at the Washington Monthly. Just mad. And you post it too with such authority, such authority. Jesus fricking Christ. You truly are a work.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 3, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Aggregate health data is much less informative than economic data.

Bullshit. It's pretty damn easy to measure height (and other than pygmies and watusis and a few other small groups, genetics accounts for very little of the difference here. It's pretty damn easy to measure life expectancy. It's pretty damn easy to sample prevalence of disease.No lack of information there.

It's very easy to measure height but there is a great deal of ethnic variability. There's variabiity within France between the ethnic French and ethnic Algerians as well as between the French and the Dutch for example. America
is much more of a melting pot. THe comparison is not valid.

Besides, I can't imagine your point. To the extent height is not genetic it's nutritional. Are you suggesting we don't get enough food? Can't be because you know we're too fat. American have too much food and make too many bad choices. In this example our great wealth is a curse.

I'm not sure how large supermarkets have gotten in Asia or Europe but it's insane here. They are huge. A typical produce dept today is larger than an entire Supermarket in 1970. I can remember when August was a great month to eat tomatoes because they were 'in season'. My kids don't know what a season is.


Bill Mpyers is a radical lib who used to work for LBJ and became a TV who still does things on PBS. About 15 years ago he did a famous series of starving in America. It's remains as a testiment to stupid liberals. He did the classic, find some dirt poor people averge Americans never see so they can see what it's like to be poor. For whatever reason the family he showed the most were fat. They were definitely poor by our standards and lived in a very run down house. It was depressing. But a big mistake by Bill. An unwed Mother with 5 kids living on food stamps. She was a minimum of 200 lbs. Clearly princess wasn't starving. Neither were her kids. The house was dirty and the kids sloppy and unclean. They had a TV with VCR as well as a stereo. Clearly princess wasn't 200 pounds because she worked so hard cleaning but she wasn't lacking in the basics.

Someone showed the report to a group in Pakistan. They asked one of the people what they thought. "I want to go to America where the poor people are fat." Obviously Bills heartbreaker got a lot more play on Fox and talkradio thsn on PBS and Moyers was not pleased.

We can play dueling statistics all day long. We can walk into th average house in america and the average house anywhere else and see with our own lives. 99.9% of the rest of the world would die to move into one of these new developments which are all over the place. They are all mansions by classic standards yet they are for the average Joe.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

There's variabiity within France between the ethnic French and ethnic Algerians as well as between the French and the Dutch for example. America is much more of a melting pot. THe comparison is not valid.

Well, geneticists and people who look at this things would disagree with you. But hey, you've got assertion your good friend. Assert away.

Besides, I can't imagine your point. To the extent height is not genetic it's nutritional.

Yup. And there's also a healthcare element (pretty smallish though)

Are you suggesting we don't get enough food?

Nope. Just bad food, especially the lower classes. Poorer Europeans eat ample food of much better quality and so grow taller. Why this is? The income to buy better food - poorer Europeans are better off than poorer Americans. Better education. Better parenting (more two parent families among other things). In a way it's an indirect measure of social health. Of course it's somewhat biased by the centrality with which food is focused on in much of southern Europe (England vies with the States for its negligence in these matters; if you've never made the move from a non-food to a food culture btw you can't imagine the difference).

The original point lost in all this was this. If we were looking at two populations of say pigeons and trying to decide which had the better life, we would immediately look at things like size, the sheen of the feathers, how diseased members of the two populations were. If we apply this simple premise to humans, in 1950, you'd point to Americans and say, them, they look the better off population. In 2006, it'd be hard to judge Americans as being particularly well off. You're argument is because they're well off they're not well off.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 3, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

What the fuck did GW have to do with EU expansion? This has been on the cards for years with a schedule and guidelines and everything

Chill! GWB was far from the deciding factor but he was effective in keeping the pressure on Europe for continued expansion especially as regards Turkey. This was true from both sides. The US was actvely lobbying Turkey to push forward and for the Europeans, extremely resistant, to accept Turkey. I especially liked the way we used political correctness as a tool against French resistance.

The large credit absolutely goes to the European states for developing the process and accepting expanion. But George was no potted plant here either.

The other benefit here in terms of geopolitical strategy is in fuirther isolating Russia and creating a clearer distinction between Eastern Europe and Asia. Eastern Europe is voting to become more western.

GWB is like a smart football coach. He's taking the opportunities the other side is leaving him. You pointed out recently the 'only' reason Japan is aligning closer to the US is China. No sh*t! But think about it. Don't we have an awful lot in common? Sure our cultures are different but our goals are the same. Doesn't it make sense for the worlds two largest economies to work together against a common threat? There is no reason to keep the Post WWII era alive. Japan deserves full 'restitution' as a deserving democratic power. Once they change their constitution they will quickly have the worlds 2nd most powerful military. In 2015 if another relief operation is needed somewhere it will be the US Navy accompanied by a large Japanese Navy delivering relief.

Doesn't the same logic apply to India? They have the same fears and aspirations.

In creating the Asian-Pacific partnership GWB has created the mechanism for solving the worlds great problems. An organization with 167 voices, 10% of them insane, can't do that. GWB has India, China, Japan and the US with Australia and Korea. It's a small working group to start out but with 50% of the worlds GDP and 40% of it's population it's extremely powerful. They will of course expand depending on the cause. The 1st mission is global warming. Kyoto is unworkable (at best). This group will design and implement the successor organization and maintain it. It's only a start.

You also made a point about the Asians forming their largest regional group ever. That is terrific. There's nothing negative about it. Anything that drives greater regional cooperation is a good thing for everyone. This is not a zero sum game. If China and Japan are able to cooperate more that does not mean the US and Japan will be cooperating less. If China is less of a threat to their neighbors they are less of a threat to everyone. Greater peace = greater prosperity = larger markets for US goods.

If as you say US goods are seen as 2nd rate then US companies need to adjust. I have no qualms about US Corporations competing. When the global economy growth quickly and nations become further integrated peace is much more certain.

GWB shrewdness has been in taking what is there and not reaching too far. Our rescue operations in Pakistan and Indonesia have been marvelous for rebuilding trust but it's only a step and it will take time. He has 3 or years to draw us closer. I am certain there will be a flurry of trade and security deals with India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Japan. I Korea I bet we meet their wishes of a smaller less visible military presence and see trade grow as well.

This isn't rocket science but it's very smart and well executed politics. What I find so amazing is it's been uncovered by the MSM. They were actually listening to rumors GWB was going to sign on to Kyoto at the recent summit in Canada. That's simply not possible. Their cluelessness is stunning and that's the only news the libs get.

You tell me what happens over the next couple/few years when it becomes apparent in Canada they've gotten hosed badly by Kyoto? That's a ticking time bomb for liberals and the UN and there's no stopping the explosion. And they don't even know it's coming.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

If we apply this simple premise to humans, in 1950, you'd point to Americans and say, them, they look the better off population. In 2006, it'd be hard to judge Americans as being particularly well off.

You simply can't be serious. You're using pigeons as an example? I'll spot you the better eating habits of the French over the Brits and Americans if you spot me the better habits of the Japanese over the French.

We've had this conversation before. Americans are pigs. We eat too much and we eat too much garbage like Cheesesteaks and hotdoges and ice cream. It's cultural and in this example the downside of great wealth. I can head a few miles in 4 different directions and come across 150 flavors of Ice Cream.

We have temptations the rest of the world simply doesn't have. The Japans have a much healthier diet because they have no choice. They eat a lot more fish and rice because they can't afford as much meat and potatoes. The Irish are the opposite. Are the Irish culturally or economically inferior because they eat more potatoes and lamb versus fish and rice?

The culture reflect the environment to a large degree.

If you want to argue Americans are idiots for making stupid food choices I agree completely.

But you cannot use relative health data as an economic or cultural indicator. There are too many distortions.

There's a reason why America is the melting pot and people still want to come here 1st.

BTW: I don't knock different lifestyles. There's much to be said for 6 weeks of vacation and 35 hour work weeks. It might happen here one day. But not because the govt mandates it. It'll be economically shrewd or it will not happen.

I think we can agree the French model is unsustainable. 10% unemployent is not the worst of it.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

You're argument is because they're well off they're not well off.


I don't think you meant that last 'not'.

My argument is we're well off because we're exceedingly good at wealth creation and that creates more of everything including choices. 150 flavors might not be smart from a health perspective but it's a nice option.

To use a far less simplistic option I'll use Tsusami relief. We helped because we could. The Canadians have hearts just as big as ours. They were invisible.

We're cleaning our rivers and air much faster than Europe because we can. We've restored far more forests because we can. We are cleaning up ALL of our toxic wastes sites because we can. (nuclear waste remain an exception) We are doing
more in africa and will do still more in Africa than the rest of the world because we can. We stopped the genocide in the balkans because no one else could.

We don't always make the correct choices but we try.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

The income to buy better food - poorer Europeans are better off than poorer Americans. Better education. Better parenting (more two parent families among other things). In a way it's an indirect measure of social health

Absolutely untrue regarding poor Europeans vs poor Americans and food.

The rest I'll spot you but disagree as to reasons. Ethnicity means everything. We spend a fortune on public education but urban systems are a disaster for cultural reasons and put single parenting at the top of the list.

Outside these urban cores, which are now a much, much smaller portion of the population our educational systems match up very well.

I won't spot you this is a significant differentiator because it's partially a reflection of our melting pot environment with other serious issues.

It's interesting that 50 years ago more than 65% of the greater Phila region lived in Phila. Now it's less than 20%.

Posted by: rdw on January 3, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

RE:

FACT 4: I am a either 1) an idiot or 2) a liar
Posted by: Jeff Barea on January 1, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

--> Thank you again for illustrating my point. Can't be that I have a legitimate opinion based on my unique set of experiences.
Can't be that the only way for you to show your opinion is by ad hominom attacks.
Can't be that you are simply wrong.

Must attack. Must crush. Must destroy. No independent thought from other people. The radical liberal agenda in a nutshell. There's a reason they like to be called anarchists at times.

Posted by: Jeff Barea on January 3, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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