Friday, December 16, 2005

We've Left 'Outrageous' and Entered 'Unrecognizable'

I'd like to say something intelligent about this, but I've tried now three times and I'm reduced to incoherent rage.
MR. LEHRER: First, the New York Times story this morning that says that you authorized secret wiretaps by the National Security Agency of thousands of Americans. Is that true? PRESIDENT BUSH: Jim, we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country, and the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them. I will make this point. That whatever I do to protect the American people, and I have an obligation to do so, that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people. MR. LEHRER: So if, in fact, these things did occur, they were done legally and properly? PRESIDENT BUSH: So you're trying to get me to talk about a program-- MR. LEHRER: Yeah. PRESIDENT BUSH: --that's important not to talk about, and the reason why is that we're at a war with an enemy that still wants to attack. I, uh--after 9/11, I told the American people I would do everything in my power to protect the country, within the law, and that's exactly how I conduct my presidency. MR. LEHRER: Well, Mr. President, with all due respect, wouldn't you think--don't you believe that answer is going to lead people to believe that you're confirming that in fact you did this? PRESIDENT BUSH: We don't talk about sources and methods. Don't talk about ongoing intelligence operations. I know there's speculation. But it's important for the American people to understand that we will do--or I will use my powers to protect us, and I will do so under the law, and that's important for our citizens to understand.
The Philadelphia Daily News has more about how the New York Times (that supposed bastion of the liberal elite) sold us all out by declining to report this story back when we voters could have done something about it. Or maybe we just are all fine with the federal government wiretapping us and spying on us. Who the fuck knows any more? Maybe this is all fine and I'm the crazy one. Let's hope to god that's so. 12/18/05--edited to add: We've clearly entered crazy land when Bob Fucking Barr and I are in agreement. Preach on, Brother Bob:
BOB BARR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.
[...]
BARR: Well, the fact of the matter is that the Constitution is the Constitution, and I took an oath to abide by it. My good friend, my former colleague, Dana Rohrabacher, did and the president did. And I don't really care very much whether or not it can be justified based on some hypothetical. The fact of the matter is that, if you have any government official who deliberately orders that federal law be violated despite the best of motives, that certainly ought to be of concern to us.
[...]
BARR: Well, gee, I guess then the president should be able to ignore whatever provision in the Constitution as long as there's something after the fact that justifies it. ROHRABACHER: Bob, during wartime, you give some powers to the presidency you wouldn't give in peace time. BARR: Do we have a declaration of war, Dana? ROHRABACHER: You don't have to do that. BARR: We don't? That makes it even much easier for a president.
[...]
BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it's okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war. The fact of the matter is the law prohibits -- specificallyprohibits -- what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn't matter, I'm proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.

25 Comments:

Blogger John H said...

Do they get to listen in on our conversations until it's clear that we aren't terrorists?

Where are all the people who rail about government intrusion into our lives?

I'm thinking this administration does so many outrageous things that we just get conditioned to the Orwellian 'Patriot' speak.

Can you say '9/11'?

12/16/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger SuperGenius said...

The first rule about NSA wiretaps is that we don't talk about NSA wiretaps.

I have nothing meaningful to offer to the discourse, that just kept running through my head since I heard about this today.

12/16/2005 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

I think I'd wait and see a bit before the incoherent rage.

First of all, the author of the story has a book deal coming out.

Second, if you read into the NYT story, you see that the new powers, enacted immediately after 911, only allowed eavesdropping on international calls.

Thinking back to that time, does it surprise you that the feds might be pretty interested in who's calling Afghanistan?

Also, the person had to be linked, via phone calls or contact, to a person that the NSA was already watching as a suspected terrorist.

Also:

The eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program.

Unfortunately, this is the sort of problem you have when you have a war that is not limited to battle fields.

12/16/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I holding back on this one untill I get all the facts. This could be nothing... or it could be holy effin' shit!

When more info does come out, and if it does fall into the holy effin' shit category, I'll join you in yelling about it.

12/16/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Fine. I'll agree to not panic yet if you agree that "planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches" sounds more like a bad episode of Monster Garage than a terrorist plot. How, pray tell, did Mr. Faris plan on distracting the whole city of New York for the days that would take?

12/16/2005 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

I'm not Exador-the-bridge-designer.

There was an incident.

Maybe there's some structural weak point, where cutting through 3" of steel causes the whole bridge to collapse.

12/16/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

DING DING DING!!

We have an apologist! His (her) name is exador!!

C'mon, exador. Doesn't this remind you of how they locked up a U.S. citizen for three-plus years because he allegedly had a conversation with someone where they allegedly discussed building and detonating a device which exists only in theory? Oh, wait, I forgot; they dropped those charges due to a complete lack of evidence.

Or you might want to talk to Sami al Arian, the Florida college professor who's been in jail for several years for saying some not-so-nice things about Israel. In one of the most conservative counties in Florida, he just won his acquittal after the Bush administration spent millions of our tax dollars boring a jury to death with meaningless testimony.

Let's face it: the "war on terror" is a fraud. Had the Bushies been doing their job, "within the law," 9/11 would have been stopped. They didn't need special Stalinist powers or any of that other crap.

This isn't about "incoherent rage," it's about connecting your brain to your (figurative) balls instead of casually giving in to cowardice. The Bush administration is counting on us all being chickenshits who'll gladly turn over our liberties as long as gasoline stays under 3 bucks a gallon and the evil woggies are kept from under our bed.

Is this what being a libertarian is all about? Keeping the government out of your life, unless they say "BOO!"?? Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed.

12/16/2005 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not Exador-the-bridge-designer.

Maybe there's some structural weak point, where cutting through 3" of steel causes the whole bridge to collapse.

I won't bore you with the details, but from what little detail I know about the bridge, it MIGHT be possible with a 60" cut. But I don't think it would work. As soon as you cut one of the high tension strands it would snap and cut anyone nearby in half.

W

12/16/2005 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

How much do I love having all these different engineers around?

Ha, can I say that without having my liberal art street cred revolked? Anyway, it tickles me. Thanks guys.

Anyway, just a reminder, if y'all are going to fight, no personal attacks. I'll be personally insulted. I like having people I disagree with around here and I don't want them run off.

12/17/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

Why is it that every time a liberal rants, I get the urge to say, "Quiet Sweety, the grownups are talking."

I have to entertain George. After I'm done, I'll be happy to shoot holes in all the "points" you made.

12/17/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

All right, Aunt B., I promise to play nice. Actually, I had an interesting thought just now, as I was rereading this post and the ensuing comments.

My wife recently handed me a book by Adam Hochschild entitled The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin. I won't get into the details of the book, I'll just recommend that you read it. I will say that I was amazed at how a relatively tiny number of highly energetic psychopaths and sociopaths were able to exert their will on a sprawling empire of millions of people; I was even more amazed at how the vast majority of those people quietly went along with all the absurdity, cruelty, and depravation for so long.

When I see the smugness with which so many in the corporate media and the blogosphere dismiss the steady erosion of our rights, I can't help but think of all the Soviet citizens who faced the firing squads with a sense of morbid astonishment. One week they were minding their own business, the next they were being put up against a wall and shot. How many of them had as their last thought "How did this happen?"

I have a gut feeling that if the majority of us don't wake up to the horrifying possibilities at the end of the path we're currently taking, then it won't be long before we're facing a situation not unlike that in post-WWII China, Stalin's USSR, Nazi Germany, and so on.

On a side note, I don't mind being called an alarmist. I just don't want to find myself in a position where the only solace I have left comes from saying "I told you so."

12/17/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Get out the shovel and waders, kids.

First, where is the incoherent rage from the left about someone leaking classified intel to the NYT? After you demanded Rove's head on a pike during the whole Desperate Housespy Plame affair, you are awfully quiet about this leak being a threat to national security. Oh, that's right, it suits your political purposes.

Second, Had the Bushies been doing their job, "within the law," 9/11 would have been stopped. Really, how do you figure? You mean after the first bombing of the WTC, the bombing of the USS Cole, the bombing of the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and the bombing of Khobar Towers, President Bush really should have done something. Yes he should have brought those people to justice. Well, somebody should have. Maybe someone who vowed to bring these people to justice. Wait, what was that guy's name who was in charge back then? You know the guy who's biggest stand against terrorism was burning those women and children to death in Waco. That guy. Remember after the Khobar Towers he said “The cowards who committed this murderous act must not go unpunished. Let me say it again: we will pursue this. America takes care of our own. Those who did it must not go unpunished,” Good job on making that empty promise, Bubba. If you wanted to make a difference and put counterterrorism as top priority, the last chance to do that prior to September 2001, would have been fiscal year 2000. Who made that budget? Who decided that an idiotic War on Drugs was far more important politically than a War on Terror?

Third, you can throw around all the Orwell and Stalin references you like. The question is "Is this government, and by extension, this administration, inherently evil or tremendously incompetent?" Any analysis of how Homeland Security dollars are spent should give you the answer. For example in October, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced a $36,300 grant to the state of Kentucky, earmarked to prevent terrorists from using charity bingo and other games of chance to raise money. (One astonished bingo worker in Frankfort told the Associated Press that the need to protect bingo parlors from terrorists "would never even enter my mind.") Also in October, the Tampa Tribune reported that two lower-tier Florida tourist attractions (the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid show and Dinosaur World in Plant City) were on Homeland Security's list of sites that the state had to "harden" against terrorist attacks, even though officials complained that major sports venues and more popular entertainment sites were not on the list. [Lexington Herald- Leader, 10-24-05] [Tampa Tribune, 10-25-05]
(from News of the Weird).

So if you are afraid that these people are tapping your phones and spying on you, seek professional help. Unless you are John in Salemtown. They really are out to get you, dude.

12/17/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

To your first point, Sarcastro:
To what "leak" do you refer? Someone letting the public know that the government was breaking the law by spying on U.S. citizens? I should get upset about that? How does that equate to Karl Rove et al blowing the cover of a covert CIA operative-- one who was ostensibly working to protect us-- in order to score cheap political revenge points?

To your second point:
Even the watered-down gimme that was the official 9/11 Commission made it clear that the Bush administration had more than enough evidence to pursue-- within the law-- the abundant leads crying out from the field. Need I remind you of the (largely ignored) FBI agents who were highly suspicious of the foreign nationals who were learning to fly planes, but who were not interested in landing planes?
The "Blame Clinton" defense might feel good to Clenis-haters, but it brings up the obvious only to ignore it: if the Clinton administration can rightfully be castigated for failing to do enough to break up 'al Qaeda' (or whomever was responsible for the U.S.S. Cole, the Khobar thingie, etc.), then why do we not hold the Bush administration to a much higher standard? They had been in office for over seven months, with all that evidence of possible threats from the previous administration, not to mention the gathering clouds during their own tenure, and they didn't lift a finger. I'm no fan of the Clintonites, but at least they made a token effort.
No, 9/11 was strictly Bush's baby. The incompetence (at the very least) demonstrated by his administration was criminal.

Third point, answered in three parts:
a) Evil vs. incompetence is a false dichotomy, especially when dealing with something as large and complex as our federal gov't.

b) Think about it: the 9/11 attacks didn't involve dirty bombs, remote-controlled anthrax-spreading dirigibles, or interdimensional portals. They were carried out by a bunch of really determined guys with box cutters and good timing. How much does it cost to prevent something like that?
Your anecdotal evidence about DHS expenditures looks a lot more like pork-barrel politics than incompetence.
The Bush administration played up a supernatural boogey man for us, so it had to corporealize that boogey man by throwing cash at it. The tourist attractions get federal dollars not because the Bushies are incompetent, but because the Bushies know that a lot of the tourists (and the locals) are voters and taxpayers. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know good politics when you see it. Hey, I live in Chicago.

c) The underlying assumption to both the acceptance of domestic spying and the classification of pork-barrel DHS spending as incompetence seems to be that the Bush administration actually perceives a grave, foreign-based terrorist threat and is sincerely taking action against it. This approach might be true regarding a few loopy zealots here and there throughout the administration. A more reasonable assumption, though, would be that the Bush administration-- as it has been since 9/11-- is exploiting fear in order to expand its power and grease the palms of its friends. If that is the case, then the Bushies probably see greater value in keeping tabs on public dissenters at home than on threats real and imagined abroad. It worked for Richard Nixon, didn't it? At least for a few months, anyway.

12/17/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastro said...

When classified operations OR operatives are "outed", that is a violation of National Security. So this person who dropped the dime on the NSA is just an altruistic do-gooder trying make the world a better place? Rrrright. No political reason in the world why someone would chirp up about this. Of course the "why didn't Bush do something about Al-Qaeda" crybabies are acting all higgedly-piggedly about him ACTUALLY doing something. My advice, don't start calling Pakistan and Afghanistan from your home phone.

CS, read Louis Freeh's book about how he tried to get counterterrorism put on the front burner but was shut down by both Clinton and Congress.

From 60 Minutes: On September 11, six percent of FBI personnel were working on counterterrorism, while twice as many agents were assigned to drug enforcement.

“Because that was where the country was focused. The country was not focused on terrorism before September 11th,” says Freeh.

And he blames Congress for not giving him the money and manpower he’d been asking for counterterrorism prior to 9/11.

“We never had the resources that we requested to do the job. Let me give you an example. In the year 2000, fiscal year, which was the last fiscal year that would’ve made a difference before September 11th, I asked for 894 counter terrorism positions. I got five. I asked for $381 million counter terrorism money, new money. I got $7.4 million.”


But of course the chorus of "Bush's Fault" is a more peppy tune.

When you bring up the Soviet example, it brings to mind "evil". Maybe that's just me thinking about the over twenty million killed during Stalin's era. Then you bring up a government as large and complex as ours. Another word for a large and complex government is "incompetent bureaucracy". Ok, so that's two words. So, which is it? Evil or Incometent? That isn't a false dichotomy. It is the reality of the debate. Our leaders are running this War on Terror for devious and avaracious purposes or they are in over their heads. And Bush had seven whole months to get this "large and complex" bureaucracy to stop, turn on a dime and go after Al-Qaeda? Maybe that shit works on The West Wing, but in real life, not so much.

12/17/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

When classified operations OR operatives are "outed", that is a violation of National Security.

Not necessarily. If "classified operations" are illegal, then they aren't in the interests of national security. Case in point: the Pentagon Papers. The Vietnam War wasn't in the interest of national security, but it took the outing of classified documents to let most of the public see concrete evidence of that. Likewise, the government spying on lawful individuals and organizations is not only illegal, but irrelevant to national security.

If you want to cast dispersions on the Clinton administration, there is no point dredging up a sour-grapes, Peter Principle incompetent like Louis Freeh.

I am no fan of the Clintonites, and I'll be the first one to point out their skewed priorities. However, there is no excuse for such a clear threat to have been totally ignored by the incoming administration. Was going after pot growers more important than acting on memos about terrorists flying planes into buildings? I think so, but apparently the Bush administration did not.

Anyway, you just regurgitated the false dichotomy of evil vs. incompetence, then immediately made an excuse for Bush by comparing him to the ostensibly unattainable standard of a fictional president. Which is it? Incompetence, or Clinton's fault? Or did I just construct a false dichotomy? What could the Bush administration have done in seven months? Had they demonstrated leadership and purpose, we might have been amazed. Instead, all we got was apparent indifference, followed after the fact by cynical opportunism.

I'll give you this much: tweak your third to last sentence, and you're spot on:

Our leaders are running this War on Terror for devious and avaracious purposes and their arrogant behavior is putting them in over their heads.

Unfortunately, this isn't just about personal dislike for George W. Bush, contrary to your frequent implications to that effect. The actions-- foreign and domestic-- of the Bush administration are sowing catastrophic consequences that we will all have to reap later.

12/17/2005 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Ok, let's go through the same facts again.

Al-Arian was not being prosecuted for "saying bad things about Israel", he was being prosecuted for

-- Helping lead a terrorist group that has carried out suicide bombings against Israel.
-- Acting as the communications arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
-- Raising money that went toward the suicide attacks that have killed hundreds.
-- Being part of Tampa terrorist cell that took the lead in determining structure and goals of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

What a sweetheart. Ya ever see the unedited footage of a bomb going off amongst schoolchildren? He was aquitted on six of the eight charges and the jury deadlocked on the other two. Prosecuters are debating retrying him on them. Conspiracy is a tough charge to prove, just ask Sonny Corleone. There was some pretty damning evidence against him, in my opinion.

It's laughable that you throw blame on the Bush administration for not acting in it's first 7 months, with the economy already going into a downturn, while Clinton jerked off for 8 years with a booming economy, even being offered Bin Laden by the Somalis. He treated terrorism as a criminal act, instead of a war. He fucked up. He didn't want to take any chances or be a leader because he was more concerned with his legacy and his poll numbers.
We left Saddam in power after he invaded Kuwait as part of a ceasefire agreement, which he continually violated. We should have gone back into Iraq years earlier but we had a jackass for a President. See above.

The war on terror is a fraud? I don't even know where to begin on that one. There's been some bombings around the world these past thirty years. It's been in all the papers.

It's easy to cry despotism while living in freedom. It's much harder to cry freedom while living in despotism. Look at your own balls before you start calling people cowards.

As far as the "alleged this guy something over here that happened sometime"
I have no idea what you're talking about.

I'm not an apologist for anybody, I just prefer, as my first post said, that there are some other factors involved here. I'm continually amazed at the moonbat crowd's emotional rants on this. There are plenty of things to debate in this, or any administration's policy, without the Bush-is-Stalin/Hitler/Nazi horseshit. It cheapens the debate.

12/17/2005 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

I don't mind reviewing. You appear to have missed the important detail of the Al Arian case, exador. He was acquitted of all the most serious charges. In other words, the government's case was a crock. And FYI: conspiracy is a charge that is usually wielded in a vacuum of material evidence. Not even a right-wing Florida jury bought it, after many months of emotional (if expensively irrelevant) testimony.

Now if you want to talk about innocent children being blown up, I'd bet a month's pay that George W. Bush-- commander-in-chief that he is supposed to be-- is responsible for more dead children than is Sami al Arian (same goes for the Clenis, if that makes you feel better).

At any rate, is this the sort of government you want spying on you? What if they decide to trump up some charges against you because you decide to speak out/organize against some injustice? (It could just as easily happen if these Stalinist powers were brandished by --gasp-- a left-wing government, if we ever have such a thing.) This isn't 'moonbat paranoia,' this is for real:

Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

Let the parsing begin on that one. While you're at it, reconsider your words:
It's easy to cry despotism while living in freedom. It's much harder to cry freedom while living in despotism.

I'm sure those words felt pithy when you wrote them, but honestly, how close do you get to the latter before you start doing the former? I'm willing to put down my Big Mac and aim a jaundiced eye right now, before we get into Martin Niemoller territory.

Another thing: if you want the 'debate' to stay clear of the cheap seats, then you should begin by avoiding the Straw Man. This phrase--

Bush-is-Stalin/Hitler/Nazi

--both drags the 'debate' toward the chimera of personal hatred of Bush and addresses an accusation that no one in this thread made (said accusation being that Bush is one of the aforementioned).

One final thing:

There's been some bombings around the world these past thirty years.

In this, we are in complete agreement. Want to hazard a guess as to who has done the most bombing, counting for either tonnage or innocent lives snuffed out? Heck, if you reach back an extra five to ten years, then the all-time undisputed heavyweight champion of bombing human beings becomes clear.
I wonder if we can consider that a meaningful "factor"?

To Aunt B.: See how I can remain civil? All that caustic verbosity, and not one expletive or direct insult. I am trying.

12/17/2005 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Yeah, You're Gandhi.

Al-Arian: I read some of the evidence, and it looked pretty darn convincing. He ain't exactly a boy scout.

I'm so tired of moonbats bitching about collateral deaths when we have gone so far out of our way to minimize them, even to the point of endangering our own troops to minimize them. I'm, sure you'll respond with "if we weren't doing anything there'd be no collateral damage". This is fecetious and does not reflect the real world. Not to mention we were attacked. Typical monnbat la la land. Let't hold hands and sing Koombaya and everyone will love each other.

This government is not spying on me (as far as I know, ha ha) since I don't make calls to Afghanistan right after we're attacked by people in.... Afghanistan.

"Stalinist powers"

Again, it is you, and you alone, making the Stalin parallels.

Does a college student being "chilled", whatever that means, equate to gulags and millions killed? Is there no middle ground in this ocean?

caustic verbosity?

12/18/2005 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Not to mention we were attacked.

By Iraq? I'm glad you mentioned this, because I just had an interesting thought about this very issue. In an earlier comment you lambasted Clinton (hobby of yours, eh?) for treating 'terrorism' as a "criminal act" instead of as a "war." Well, let's consider the difference.

When you pursue the perpetrators of a criminal act, you are normally expected to follow certain procedures and go through proper channels. Perps are brought to justice, and (in so-called civilized societies, at least) the public has a sense of satisfaction that not only were bad actors removed from the stage, but it was done in a way that proved society was worth cleansing.
When you declare war, all bets are off. As the old saying goes, "All is fair..." When you fight an undeclared-- a.k.a. illegal-- war, wow! You can pull just about anything you want. Or in the case of the Bush administration's current war on an abstraction, you can do anything that the court of public opinion will bear. That's the problem. We're supposed to follow the rule of law here, no exceptions. When we betray that rule of law, when we forsake the letter and spirit of the Constitution in the service of 'protecting' ourselves, it begs the question: what is it we are protecting?
I've lost count of the times I've read the following logical non sequiturs: "freedom isn't free"; "enjoy your freedom? Thank a vet." "those troops are fighting for your right to protest..."
So now I'm to accept that this dynamic extends from bombing, shooting, and displacing millions of foreign brown people to my giving greater police powers to my own government? Yeesh. Talk about the chickens coming home to roost. But I digress...

Al-Arian: I read some of the evidence, and it looked pretty darn convincing. He ain't exactly a boy scout.

Neither am I, and I wouldn't want to be railroaded into a life prison term based on a bogus, politically motivated prosecution. While we're on the subject, consider the evolution of your argument about the al Arian case:
First you list some of the most serious charges against the man, and make a specious, emotionally charged link to bombed children. Now, you're saying he's no boy scout. Are you next going to tell me he's a suspected jaywalker? Just give it up, exador. A jury of Floridians already has.

I'm so tired of moonbats bitching about collateral deaths when we have gone so far out of our way to minimize them

I notice you didn't want to touch my inclusion of Vietnam into your set of world bombings. Anyway, there is no such thing as a collateral death. When you drop a bomb, you are trying to kill, destroy, and terrorize. Or, as the Bush administration put it, "Shock and Awe." When you invade a country, you are accepting that innocent people are going to get killed. That's why we're not supposed to do these invasion thingies willy-nilly; they kill people. So when the Bush administration fabricated a case for war, and illegally attacked Iraq, that made every subsequent death a murder (or a war crime, if you prefer).
It's interesting: you're willing to condemn the bombing of innocents if the perps oppose your worldview, but you'll condone it-- even cheer it on-- if you support the bombers' views? Isn't that a kind of moral relativism?

Anyway, you seem to have joined the false dichotomy club:

Let't hold hands and sing Koombaya and everyone will love each other.

Is this what you are suggesting as the only alternative to illegal, murderous, and totalitarian behavior? This is what I meant when I talked of cowardice; I was including the moral variety. Sometimes it takes guts to stick your neck out for what is right. I'm not a religious man, but I have to say my only human hero is Jesus Christ. You know, Prince of Peace. Here was a guy who took all sorts of abuse, even while he knew he was here to give himself up for his abusers. The only time he lifted a finger in anger, it wasn't even on his own behalf. That takes courage for a guy who never once armed himself.

Maybe it's a question of personal taste here, or maybe it is something as deep as moral fortitude. See, I think we have a great system of courts in this country, I think we have some decent law enforcement apparatus, and I think we also have a powerful military. I think our military is strong enough to defend us should we ever actually be militarily attacked. I think if our law enforcement agencies get some good leadership and are given clear, legal goals, they can protect us domestically. Finally, I think our courts can successfully prosecute those who attempt to harm my fellow citizens, whether we want to call them criminals, terrorists, or whatever.

I don't see the need for illegal, unconstitutional behavior that mocks my nation's professed values. I don't see the need for illegal gulags like Camp X-Ray and the myriad other undisclosed locations around the globe. I don't see the need for the feds having the power to spy on me. If you think I'm committing treason, get a warrant for my arrest and prosecute me. Don't go trolling through my private life and discourse looking for things that offend you politically.

I'm willing to accept the risks that come from playing by the rules, because I think the rules are what separate our nation from places like Saddam's Iraq and Stalin's USSR. When we start sacrificing our rules for the illusion of safety, then we get ourselves on the parallel track to those places. Again, the question: what is it that we are protecting? Is my life worth protecting if I have to live as a coward? I think not. Give me liberty, or give me death.

Ha ha!! I just quoted a slaveholder.

12/18/2005 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

Germany never attacked us either.

You are correct that there has been no proof that Saddam was directly involved in 911; however, there are plenty of links between him and several terrorist organizations, including Bin Laden.

There's nothing illegal about the war in Iraq. It was approved by congress. Were you this upset over Clinton's war in Bosnia or his occasional cruise missile chucking? Havr you seen Iraqis? They aren't exactly brown. Besides, are you now saying it's a racist war? Please.

Do you want to talk about Vietnam? How about the Spanish American War?
The Phillipines?
How much time do you have?

So when the Bush administration fabricated a case for war, and illegally attacked Iraq, that made every subsequent death a murder (or a war crime, if you prefer).

They didn't fabricate the case for war. They went with the best evidence they had. Evidence that convinced congress. Evidence that every major democrat had been supporting when a democrat was in the white house.

It's interesting: you're willing to condemn the bombing of innocents if the perps oppose your worldview, but you'll condone it-- even cheer it on-- if you support the bombers' views? Isn't that a kind of moral relativism?

Yeah, I'm cheering the deaths of innocents. Give me a break.

I'm happy for you if Christianity helps your life, but let's keep Jesus for another discussion.

I don't see the need for the feds having the power to spy on me. If you think I'm committing treason, get a warrant for my arrest and prosecute me. Don't go trolling through my private life and discourse looking for things that offend you politically.

Thank Jeebus! We're back on the topic. Fortunately we covered my feeling on this in my first post.

I understand your fear of the feds overstepping their bounds. I even share them.

The full quote from Patrick Henry is this:

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

12/18/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Germany never attacked us either.

Bad example. Germany declared war on us as soon as we declared war on Japan. So the war was declared, and the shooting was on.

There's nothing illegal about the war in Iraq.

This depends on your definition of "illegal." The Nuremberg thingie specifically prohibits any nation from engaging in unprovoked or undeclared hostile military action toward another. Just because a gaggle of cowards and bastards in Congress unethically abdicated their responsibility to hold war declaration powers to themselves, it doesn't make right what the Bushies did.

They didn't fabricate the case for war. They went with the best evidence they had. Evidence that convinced congress. Evidence that every major democrat had been supporting when a democrat was in the white house.

This Republican talking point is a proven falsehood. Most members of Congress weren't seeing the same things the Bush war planners were seeing. At any rate, it is common knowledge now that the Bush war planners went trolling for falsified 'intelligence' from questionable or completely untrustworthy sources, including sources affiliated with the very propaganda organs formed by the neocons themselves (such as Chalabi's INC). Like a prosecutor in a low-profile drug case, the Bushies completely disregarded the mountain of exculpatory evidence in favor of the thimble-full of falsehoods. Just because the Clinton administration used similar dishonesty to justify their own illegal bombings and genocidal sanctions, it doesn't make it right.

I understand your fear of the feds overstepping their bounds. I even share them.

Excellent! What say you we deny them so much as a millimeter of wiggle room for pissing on the Constitution? Simple: if you have probable cause to suspect someone of 'terrorist activity,' get a warrant, investigate, and, if necessary, indict. Otherwise, don't spy on U.S. citizens. Plain and simple.

Thanks for the full Patrick Henry quote, but it is important to remember that he was indeed a slaveholder, and most of those wealthy revolutionaries he was addressing with such noble, manly rhetoric would not be doing much of the actual fighting themselves.

Odds & ends:
Were you this upset over Clinton's war in Bosnia or his occasional cruise missile chucking?

Yes. Clinton should have been impeached for this instead of the blow job, and Albright should have been in chains before the Hague.

I'm happy for you if Christianity helps your life, but let's keep Jesus for another discussion.

Why? Isn't Jesus supposed to be Bush's favorite philosopher? Aren't we as a nation supposed to guided by our Judeo-Christian ethics? Or is that only when we're keeping the homos in check?

Havr you seen Iraqis? They aren't exactly brown. Besides, are you now saying it's a racist war?

I don't suppose you've ever heard the terms "towel-head," "raghead," "haji," or "sand nigger." I've heard them all, and more. The war isn't being fought over 'race,' but the "otherness" of the Iraqis sure helps sell the occupation to those willing to see the Iraqis as less equal than us.

Do you want to talk about Vietnam? How about the Spanish American War?
The Phillipines?
How much time do you have?


I can always find time to discuss history. What's your point? I hope you weren't going to tell me that this is how we've always done things, so it's okay, because our body count is lower this time. Do tell...

12/18/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

I'm starting to get the impression that you're a pacifist, albeit a rather angry one. Are you a Quaker?

I think a point that we will not agree on is the legality of the war. I put no weight in what the Hague has to say. My definition is from our Constitution. I guess so long as no one declares war, they are free to keep attacking. Yes, Saddam was attacking us by financing, funding, sheltering, and training the terrorists that were attacking us and our allies.
All of which is beyond the point, since he violated the ceasefire agreement.
As far as the evidence, I hear both sides without any details. Some say congress saw all the evidence, some say they only saw part. Nobody ever says "They did not see this" and give an example. The evidence that I've seen shows that Saddam was leading the inspectors around by their Euroweenies. He had bio and chemical weapons and even he thought his nuke program was farther along than it was. He also had long range missiles. Military intelligence isn't about getting concrete evidence, it's about coming to conclusions from the evidence you have. That's one reason why the War on Islamic Fundamentalism (do you like that word better?) can not be waged like a criminal affair.

If you're such a concerned Christian, how can you turn your back on the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, that he tortured and executed?

So now you're bashing the founding fathers? Yes, they were the wealthiest men in the country. They could have lived in complete luxury for theirs and their children's lives.

Instead,

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.



Clinton was impeached for perjury. He lied to deny a woman her day in court.

I suggested we leave JC out of it because I don't believe, so any arguments that "Jesus did this" are meaningless to me.

Just because you've heard derogatory names does not mean we are fighting a racist war. If that were the case, everybody would be fighting everybody. In a fit of self-promotion, I direct you to my rant on Propaganda. It'll be right up your alley.
href="http://monosyllabic-pedantry.blogspot.com/2005/12/propaganda.html">Propaganda

My point about the other wars was that we might want to focus on the full plate of modern politics. Haven't we drifted off target enough already? If we bring in the other stuff, I'll never have enough time to convert you to a neocon.

As I have with Aunt B.

Moo Wa Ha Ha Ha Ha

12/18/2005 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Yes, Saddam was attacking us by financing, funding, sheltering, and training the terrorists that were attacking us and our allies.

Where do you get this stuff? Fox News? There is no basis for this other than twisted Republican talking points. If you are referring to Hussein offering cash rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, well, that was a desperate attempt to get the entire Muslim world to have sympathy for him. Didn't quite work out, nor did it have any effect on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Anyway, that's about as close as Hussein came to resembling your long-discredited claim.

The evidence that I've seen shows that Saddam was leading the inspectors around by their Euroweenies.

Seriously, now, even the tone of this one smacks of Free Republic. The UN inspectors found nothing of substance, and it turns out they were right. What came of Rumsfeld's claims to know exactly where the WMD were located? Turns out he was lying, as were the rest of the Bushie mouthpieces.

Clinton was impeached for perjury. He lied to deny a woman her day in court.

No, Clinton lied because he was too stupid/arrogant to call a Republican fishing expedition exactly what it was. The Paula Jones thing was a farce from the beginning, which is why you've never heard any more from her.

I suggested we leave JC out of it because I don't believe, so any arguments that "Jesus did this" are meaningless to me.

Well, it isn't all about you, then, is it? Bush is the one who prays in public and professes to be saved. Some of his generals even claim to be fighting a holy war. So just because you don't believe doesn't mean you can avoid discussing the hypocritical behavior of those who claim to believe.

ust because you've heard derogatory names does not mean we are fighting a racist war.

I reiterate, and read it a couple of times, if it helps you to not respond to something I didn't write.:

The war isn't being fought over 'race,' but the "otherness" of the Iraqis sure helps sell the occupation to those willing to see the Iraqis as less equal than us.

My point about the other wars was that we might want to focus on the full plate of modern politics.

I don't know what that means or how it is relevant, but I'd be happy to discuss how our previous imperial adventures have often gone hand in hand with an official (and unconstitutional) curtailment of civil liberties at home.

Anyway, I'm about ready to leave this thread alone. I wouldn't make it as a neocon, since my conscience reflexively rejects social Darwinism and its ethical trappings. I have seen a bit of suffering and death in my time, and I know that people's lives aren't chess pieces for anyone's power games. Furthermore, I count myself in with those who protested the Philippine conquest, WWI, Vietnam, and both Gulf Wars. History, that not written by the sycophants and mouthpieces of the war-declaring class, invariably proves us to be right.

In this latest swing toward the dark side, I'm quite content to watch karma do its thing, then remind all you imperial cheerleaders that I told you so. At the current rate of things, I won't have to wait very long.

12/18/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Nice speech. It illustrates perfectly why liberals have the reputation that they have.

I'm ready to leave it too, besides, we've eaten up enough of Aunt B's storage space.

12/18/2005 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

After reading this (a couple of times) and thinking about both (fairly well elucidated, I must say) viewpoints, I fell compelled to add this:

I love the word "corporealize".

12/19/2005 11:50:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home