Who You Callin' A Traitor?

In delivering the Supreme Court's opinion in the Plamondon case of 1972, Justice Lewis Powell acknowledged that eavesdropping technologies could be used legitimately to maintain public order.

"But a recognition of these elementary truths does not make the employment by Government of electronic surveillance a welcome development -- even when employed with restraint and under judicial supervision," Powell wrote. "There is, understandably, a deep-seated uneasiness and apprehension that this capability will be used to intrude upon cherished privacy of law-abiding citizens."

"The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power," he continued. "Nor must the fear of unauthorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of Government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society."

Powell recognizes the fundamental risk of eavesdropping without a warrant: Absent checks on executive action, surveillance of political enemies could abound under the guise of saving the country from treason.

Debater milostea apparently disagrees and suggests that such surveillance wouldn't be a bad thing, at least in the case of yours truly. "Way to go Mr. President!" he writes. "Can you wiretap ignorant Americans like Mrs. Messner and point out the traitors to this great nation."

What milostea fails to recognize is that what makes this nation so great (as has been pointed out countless times in this Debate) is that we all have the right to speak our minds. I happen to disagree with milostea here, but I wouldn't suggest he be imprisoned for his statements; rather, I would use my freedom of speech to make my case. Indeed, I would probably point out that a future Democratic president is likely to pursue methods of fighting terrorism that milostea will argue are ineffectual and misguided, but I'm willing to bet he wouldn't want to be the target of warrantless surveillance simply because he holds those beliefs.

Goodness knows, it would be much easier to brand everyone who disagrees with government policy a traitor, tap their phones, read their mail and throw them straight in jail. (I'll send a nifty Washington Post calendar to the first Debater who e-mails me identifying that song lyric reference.) But that's not how we do things in this country, and that freedom is a big part of why we're the sole remaining global superpower and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics isn't.

As Anne Applebaum notes, Russia's economy is weaker than Holland's; its per capita income is somewhere behind that of Malta. So clearly that whole intimidation-by-executive thing hasn't been a huge boon for them.

James Madison put the problem with milostea's variety of anti-Republicanism far more eloquently than I could, using the following dialogue in his 1792 essay, "Who are the Best Keepers of the People's Liberties?"

Anti-Republican: You are destitute, I perceive, of every quality of a good Citizen, or rather of a good subject. You have neither the light of faith nor the spirit of obedience. I denounce you to the government as an accomplice of atheism and anarchy.
Republican: And I forbear to denounce you to the people, though a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny. Liberty disdains to persecute.

(At the risk of stating the obvious, "Republican" was not used in our contemporary sense by Madison, who died long before the Republican party even came into existence.)

Finally, before stereotyping those who would support our constitutional rights over a dubious claim of national security interest, read what BerlinBabe had to say on the subject.

By Emily Messner |  January 12, 2006; 9:20 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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This is interesting.


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Posted by: D. | January 12, 2006 10:46 AM

There is an argument much in the air these days that debate itself may be harmful to the nation. Once again Emily shifts into WWTFF mode to note that this idea is at its root anti-republican (small r).

The argument that those who criticize the conduct of the War on Terrror are somehow sympathetic to the enemy is a dishonest and ignoble falsity. (Note that the charge that someone wants to 'blame America first' is almost always leveled against Americans. This is hypocritical on its face.)

In my experience, Americans are overwhelmingly patriotic, regardless of their political stripe. The idea of open, free debate is quintissentially American.
Criticism is not in any way support for the enemy and this suggestion is itself an attack on Americans, plain and simple. The fact is that there is always more than one way to do things and disgreement with a policy, a decision or an action is not a sign of weakness, much less of a lack of patriotism. Blind loyalty to the poweful requires neither thought nor courage.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 10:53 AM

What's traitorous to me is this Abramoff scandal. If we are indeed in a time of war, and the War On Terror is as important as many of these Republican politicians have told us, then why have they allowed this massive corruption in government during such an important time of war?
If you're critical of Iraq, one of the first things you'll hear is that being critical of Iraq undermines troop morale. Well, doesn't finding out one's government is full of corruption also hurt morale? It certainly doesn't help morale.
The point is is that these politicians tell us one thing, but they do another. The War On Terror supposedly should dictate all of our actions (according to them), and yet they don't really take the War On Terror all that seriously if they're spending their time on illegal and unethical golfing excursions and such. So typical that those that preach the most are the biggest hypocrites. Their lip service to national security was exactly that... lip service. No real dedication to winning the war, at least not enough to straighten up, fly right, and be corruption-free.
Bottom line: Corruption of any kind only serves to weaken us on the War On Terror, at a time when we need to be strengthening ourselves. If the stakes on this war are as high as many Republican politicians have claimed, then what were they doing fooling around with all these Abramoff shenanigans?

Posted by: ErrinF | January 12, 2006 11:04 AM


Re: your link

The NSA may well have helped foil attacks. I certainly hope they have. But, as repeated ad nauseum in earlier threads, it's not the wiretaps per se that give rise to deep concern, it's the lack of oversight.

It's also the deliberate ignoring of the law.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 11:14 AM


Oh I agree, the lack of oversight is deeply troubling and should be addressed. that being said, I find MSM's obsession with painting everything Bush does, or attempts to do, in a continously negative light, virtually deviod of any context equally troubling. If in fact the story I linked to is true, I think we should all be concerned.

Posted by: D. | January 12, 2006 11:28 AM

I must have missed something; where does the link by D. indicate that the US was a party to the Italian intelligence coup..? I would hazard a guess if it were part of the NSA/FISA snafu the Administration would trumpet it from the rooftops as a success, instead of their generalizations.

The idea that the mass media is trying to impeach the president flies in the face of, say, NYT sitting on stories for the administration. We like to pick on the media because we can then say we have a free and fair system.

Democracy is not capitalism, and capitalism is not democratic. News stories today reported that US marine families had to cough up dough for body armor. 4 of 5 casualties in Iraq might have lived if they had adequate armor, but we hear the Pentagon has adequately supplied the troops. ?? These are diametrically opposing statements; one or the other is false. I'm sure not all families can afford the $$ for the required body armor; yet another plug for trickle-down economics.

Posted by: gonzo | January 12, 2006 11:31 AM

Apparently Abramoff got around. A pox on both their houses.


Posted by: D. | January 12, 2006 11:32 AM


You make a good point. The left uses the word "Bush" to dodge legitimate argument much the way the right uses the word 'liberal.'

Attacking the messenger instead of rebutting the message is a phony form of argument, and that is true whether the messenger is the President, Emily Messner or anyone else.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 11:35 AM

How can you have it both ways? If corporations have rights, and money = speech, doesn't all this tend to follow..?

At least it shows the lack of "moral fibre" that was such a big selling point in the past couple elections.

A pox on both their houses indeed. Now where does that leave us..?

Posted by: gonzo | January 12, 2006 11:41 AM


Re: your Abramoff link.

My understanding is Abramoff never gave any money himself to Dems. (He was a Bush Ranger after all.) Is this a list of donations from his firm? His clients? From what period?

Anyway, it's not surpise that, say, a given tribe might give something to most or all members of the Indian Affairs committee. That itself isn't all that central to the Abramoff issue.

My understanding is that all the potentially illegal donations went exclusively to Republicans. Presumedly the list you link to lists legal donations?

Greed is bipartisan. Abramoff wasn't.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 11:44 AM

Believe I had read in a Washington Times article that investigators in the Abramoff probe were focusing their attention on five suspects: Senators Conrad Burns, Montana Republican; Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat; and Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, along with Reps. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, and Bob Ney, Ohio Republican.

Regardless of their political affiliation and whether it turns out that all illegal contributions went only to Republicans (which is not entirely a bad thing since I would hope it would prompt them to do a proper "house-cleaning"), these folks should hang.

Posted by: D. | January 12, 2006 12:25 PM

The Republicans are trying to use this bipartisan cover in the Abramoff scandal to make it seem that this is a problem with the way Washington works, not a Republican issue alone. This is self-defeating, as Howard Kurtz points out in the WP today, because Republicans run Washington, and it was thanks to Tom DeLay that these K Street politics were really embedded in Congress in the first place.

D., in response to your link:

I think gonzo is correct in pointing out that the US wasn't mentioned in the article because they weren't involved in gathering the intelligence that resulted in the arrest. That said, I don't know the first thing about Italy's surveillence laws on domestic targets, which may be very different from ours. Are you proposing that we change our laws so that they relax the standards for spying on domestic targets? I'm interested in hearing whether you think Bush should be allowed some leeway because "it could prevent a terrorist attack", or whether there is something inherently wrong with the law as it stands and should be altogether changed.

Posted by: JK | January 12, 2006 01:00 PM


The Washington Times list was based on an anonymous source is questionable, although not necessarily untrue. I don't know how to make the link but there is an article in today's (Jan 12th) Las Vegas Review-Journal that quotes another source saying there is no list of officials who are investigation. Ried denies it flatly and the Justice Department won't confirm these five names.

As you rightly point out, regardless of who's implicated, a genuine reform effort is necessary and would be welcome. Since the Republicans are in charge, they are far more capable of effective change than the Democrats are. And a return to Democratic control in 06 in no way assures cleaner government.

Again, though, on this specific issue I must repeat: Abramoff is GOP through and through.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 02:27 PM


Now think a minute about your link.

First, it say it was the Italians doing the wiretapping. Thus, either both ends of the conversations wiretapped were outside of the US, or else the Italians are wiretapping in America. Allowing foreign nations to wiretap the conversations of American citizens that take place in America would constitute poor national security. So if there is a conspiracy here who is to say it isn't on the part of the Bush administration trying to cover up the fact that we have been allowing the Italians to spy on our citizens right here at home?

Oh, so probably both ends of the conversation were international. But no one has questioned the legality of the President's wiretapping of fully INTERNATIONAL communication (not with one end in the US). So it doesn't exactly fit that a thinking person would agree that this relates to DOMESTIC spying. Further, it contributes nothing to the arguement that the spying needed to be without oversight and warrantless. Of course the President could have used this information about how wiretapping stopped a plot on the US in his speeches where the text would be for all to see on the White House web site in the unlikely event that Fox news and the Washington Times and Rush and O'REilley were all in on the conspiracy to hide the information. So why didn't he? It would have been a pretty typical part of a Rovian strategy to muddy the water further and try to confuse people about the difference between domestic and international spying and make him look like a prescient genius that wiretapping stopped a plot. So why didn't that happen? My conspiracy theory is that people might ask why was it the Italians who caught the plot and not the US? Since we're not apparently asking for extradition its not likely we are the ones with the goods on these guys. If we have money to burn on tax cuts for people like me but not enough money to hire enough people at the NSA to transcribe all the tapes they are making of international chatter (not to mention not having enough money for armor for our troops), maybe this story could be more of a liability than a plus for Bush so he kept the focus elsewhere.

And finally, anyone who puts forth a conspiracy theory that involves Fox, Rush, Washington Times, O'Reilley, Michelle Malkin, Ingraham and the rest of their ilk saying they withheld info that would make Bush look good and the "left" look bad is either ignorant of American politics or delusional.

The right has sometimes made thought provoking arguements. This isn't even close to one of them. But thanks for my laugh for the day.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 02:30 PM


To your first article, it never claims that Italy utilized warrantless wiretaps, it just said that Italian authorities utilized wiretaps to catch some terrorists. The United States also uses wiretaps to catch terrorists. This lends no credibility to the President's warrantless wiretap program, because the article never specifically mentions warrantless wiretaps.

Until you provide evidence that Italy used a program similar to the one utilized by the President, any claim that the MSM is hiding the story because it vindicates our President is making a premature analogy between our wiretap program and theirs.

This is not to say that warrantless wiretaps haven't saved lives, or are value-free, I just think the articles reaches a premature conclusion about media bias.

On Abramoff-

I totally agree, a pox on both houses... But Abramoff is a predominantly Republican problem and it is up to them to mend it. Some conservative columnists have focused their efforts on painting this as a bipartisan issue, which is the wrong strategy. Abramoff is sleaze, is guilty, is a criminal, and he isn't good for EITHER party. Conservatives should be more outraged than Liberals because this guy ruins their reputation.

As David Brooks at the New York Times pointed out: "That's a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us." [regarding Abramoff]

Posted by: Will | January 12, 2006 03:06 PM

Oh D, its not your day for links.

Your link is not exactly, well, in a word, honest. This link implies these politicians took money from Abramoff. They did not. What they did was to accept small campaign contributions from the same indian tribe bribing Abramoff.

Abramoff took MILLIONS from indian tribes in exchange for political favors. Millions. He passed this money on to other lawmakers to successfully influence votes. So far as we know, none of these was a Democrat. He also orchestrated other direct contributions to politicians by the tribes although not necessarily at the behest of the politician.

What it boils down to is that a few Democrats and a few Republicans received very small campaign contributions from the same indian tribes bribing Abramoff for political favors. Say, for example, $1000 to Hillary Clinton. It is quite common for people and businesses to make contributions to both sides to "hedge their bets" and spread "goodwill" no matter which side is in power (as that can change from election to election). They often give the legal limit to the party that best represents their interests, and hedge their bets with a smaller contribution to the opposition. So we don't know if the indian tribes gave out these small amounts of money to buy favors whether Abramoff or another political advisor told them to spread it around to avoid suspicion or to make nice in case the Repubs lose power, or whether it was just a "goodwill" gesture on their own, or whether someone on their political committee likes these politicians, or whatever. And if Hillary Clinton or a anyone else was found to have made a sudden turn around in her voting pattern on indian affairs after receiving the $1000, that would smell bad and require investigation.

But it is dishonest to imply that the money came from Abramoff or was a bribe and not a legal (and in the gestalt of a campaign, pathetically small) campaign contribution.

Again, the grand Rovian strategy to muddy the water at work.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 03:07 PM


I tried google'ing "algerian italy terrorist" and came up with a few hits. It was reported on cbs news: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/11/17/ap/world/mainD8DU8I500.shtml and msnbc: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10080870/ and the bbc: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4444456.stm. Although I wasn't able to find it on the NY Times or WaPo. But, the Italian Interior Minister said that too much fuss was being made over it. http://intelligence-summit.blogspot.com/2005/11/italy-algerian-suspects-allegedly.html

In any case, patriot touches upon the essential point: there's a difference between a tool and how a tool is used. If terrorists used computers to plan and communicate, does that mean that all computers should be banned in the United States? Or conversely, if a police officer shot dead someone who was about to flip the switch on a nuclear detanator, does that imply that all police should be always able to shoot on sight? I think you'll agree with me that both of these logical leaps are, to put it mildly, absurd. The point is not whether to ever or not to allow wiretaps. The question is under what circumstances do you allow them against American citizens.

Posted by: Matthew | January 12, 2006 03:09 PM

Definition - LUCIFER - A patriotic angel best known for his stirring dissent against the unchecked power of the Executive. Persecuted for his sincere beliefs, Lucifer was stripped of his precious liberties and confined in an abode of abysmal conditions. From there, Lucifer continues to wage war for the type of world he continues to believe in, hoping to enlist others to his eternal cause.

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 12, 2006 03:27 PM

Chris Ford,

If you assume opposing opinion is rooted in biblical evil, there's no real need to debate it. Is this your point?

Cute post, funny, but very very insulting. So critics like me (and Emily) are not just traitors, we're agents of Satan too?

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 12, 2006 03:31 PM


The comparison between Bush dissenters and Lucifer is as inappropriate between that of Bush and God.

Posted by: Will | January 12, 2006 03:32 PM

Oh, you think Chris Ford was referencing Bush dissenters? I thought he was referring to Ken Starr.

Posted by: Matthew | January 12, 2006 03:49 PM

Ok Ok Ok. Lefties are horrible people with a vast conspiracy to undermine this country by attacking the president's power to protect us from the very real threat (not a straw man like lefties would have us believe) of terrorists and non-americans. Republicans are the only intelligent people out there that never resort to the childish games of the left, such as petty name calling, half truths, and manipulating the media for their own gains. In essence, all lefties are marxist, and unless you're a republican, you cannot be a true American.

Does this encompass most of the views that you intend to bring up to defend your claims in debate Ford? If so, please save us the time and trouble of reading your rehashed accusations and conspiracy theories and continue with the conversation at hand. Thank you.

Posted by: Freedom | January 12, 2006 03:52 PM

Chris Ford writes:

"Definition - LUCIFER - A patriotic angel best known for his stirring dissent against the unchecked power of the Executive. Persecuted for his sincere beliefs, Lucifer was stripped of his precious liberties and confined in an abode of abysmal conditions. From there, Lucifer continues to wage war for the type of world he continues to believe in, hoping to enlist others to his eternal cause."

Hmmm...what encyclopedia are you using for your definition? Mine has "A proud and ambitious angel who, despite the great power and authority that he already legitimately held, sought power that was not legitimately his. He desired to be the ultimate ruler, and thus to replace the legitimate supreme authority (the very source of his own power) with himself. He was ejected from heaven, along with those of his followers who refused to repent and renounce his rebellion." :)

But all kidding aside, the day Bush acquires infinite goodness, omnipotence, inexhaustible love, omniscience, non-derivative being (though I suppose you can't 'acquire' that), and I find out that he created me, I'll be quite happy to accord him the obedience due to divinity. Till then, I'll continue to consider him a fellow human being.

I guess there's disagreement about who said it, but how does the old quote run? "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God," or something like that?

Posted by: Beren | January 12, 2006 03:53 PM

Ford's comment on the last board went without apparent notice, so allow me to do so now: "The friends of enemy rights demand we stop listening to everyone so "precious liberties" are never compromised for a little terrorist/WMD security."

It would seem there is little utility in debating someone who either refuses or is unable to participate in an honest, substantitive debate. Anyone who hasn't seen that we are debating about oversight, not about stopping the listening, is either jerking us around or willfully blind. Matthew and Will and Beren et al, you've been walking on eggshells going back and counting how many times who insulted who, or whose responsibility it is to find the links supporting your posts, and for what? We do a bit of that with Alex Ham or johnnyg because they appear grounded in reality and are willing to debate honestly and it seems to be a real give and take proposition on both sides. And heaven forbid I've even learned a thing or two from them. But as far as Ford is concerned, I think its time to stop allowing ourselves to be jerked around.

Anyway after his lasts post, I think he's been forgetting to take his meds.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 03:59 PM

I hereby pledge not to answer any more of Chris Ford's posts, no matter how exasperating they are.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 04:03 PM

I think Chris Ford has been reading 'The Bible According To Pat Robertson'. That or he got that Lucifer definition from his Witch Hunter's Handbook. Sheesh, even his biblical histories ar politically biased and askew. This plus his all caps histrionics last time around paint quite the picture of an irrational extremist.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 12, 2006 07:20 PM

That's good, "Patriot"1957.

But if you are for the rights of enemy at Gitmo, the rights of captured "Iraqi Freedom Fighters" - objectively, you are for enemy rights. Now that can be good or bad, but you are for enemy rights. When it is coupled with angry demands to punish any American soldier and excuses why "America deserves to be attacked" opponents of the American conduct since 9/11 become enemy apologists and just slip a little more on that slippery slope continuum between what is Patriotic Dissent ....and....Treason.

If you read liberal Democrat Blogs, you see manifestations of people clearly beyond any reasonable standard of "patriotic dissent". ("American contractors killed? Good, screw 'em, they're mercenaries!" "Go, Zarqawi! Defeat Bush and his band of racist pigs!" "We deserved 9/11, we deserve a lot more for the murders and torture we have done in Iraq.")

It's funny to look back in history and look at the groups widely reviled as anything but patriotic and realize that they saw their own opposition to their country's leadership and war conduct as intensely patriotic. An example? In Britain, Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts framed their opposition to actions against the fascists as "nobly patriotic", arguing the real threat to their beloved England came from the Soviets. Many had a change of heart and enlisted after the Nazis began bombing British cities, but the typical Blackshirt was rounded up and interned like we did with the most disloyal and dangerous Americans of German, Japanese, and Italian descent in WWII (internment camps were separate from the Relocation camps where enemy alien Japanese and families were placed or the martial law imposed on all people of Hawaii to control the Japanese population and elevate wartime military security past what police could accomplish)

After the war, Blackshirts who enlisted escaped consequence. Leaders, who thought they were anti-war patriots, were blacklisted to popular acclaim, despite their protests that they honestly believed their street protests, politicing, and fascist opposition to the ruling party was completely and deeply patriotic. A few, like former Blackshirt "Lord Haw Haw" who spoke out for the enemy and enemy rights from Germany, were hanged for treason for providing aid and comfort to the enemy cause.

America summarily shot Americans found in Nazi uniform, but did not execute civilian Japanese Americans or German Americans later convicted of treason for speaking out against America in wartime. Just jailed them for 5-10 years and "apologized" to a few after the McGovernites held temporary power for a few post-Watergate years. America is supposedly "guilty" of targeting and torpedoing two shiploads of Japanese, Japanese-Americans (who went over the Japs when the Philippines fell) as they fled Filipino mobs after the US retook the Islands.

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 12, 2006 07:32 PM

Abramoff and DeLay were part of the Republican K Street project that eventually led to all this corruption. The Abramoff scandal for the most part is a Republican creation and is the GOP'sresponsibility. Instead of looking for Democrats to blame as well, Republicans should look to their own party and CLEAN IT UP. Don't use partisanship to try to lessen the seriousness of this corruption. Corruption in government undermines all government activity.
The Duke Cunningham scandal had to do with corrupt practices with defense contractors. That is thoroughly hypocritical to be talking constantly about how we are in an all-encompassing War On Terror, and yet undermining national security by engaging in corrupt defense practices. Even if the Abramoff scandal doesn't involve defense, I still feel it brings in to question just how seriously the American political class (Republican and Democrat) are about the War On Terror. 9/11 was supposed to be a wake-up call from business-as-usual, yet here we have politicians taking junkets to Scottish golf courses while Osama Bin Laden's still out there running free. Troop morale and our worldwide integrity can only be lowered by such a scandal as this. Corruption during any time period is wrong, but it is particularly heinous when there is indeed a heightened state of national security and the barbarian is literally at the gate (it certainly didn't help Rome to have a corrupt Senate when it fell). I for one will have trouble buying into Republicans talking tough about national security until they start ridding their ranks of corruptive, unpatriotic practices.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 12, 2006 07:35 PM

Chris Ford,

Some comments. You write:

"But if you are for the rights of enemy at Gitmo, the rights of captured "Iraqi Freedom Fighters" - objectively, you are for enemy rights. Now that can be good or bad, but you are for enemy rights. When it is coupled with angry demands to punish any American soldier and excuses why "America deserves to be attacked" opponents of the American conduct since 9/11 become enemy apologists and just slip a little more on that slippery slope continuum between what is Patriotic Dissent ....and....Treason."

In your original post, patriot57's reply to which elicited your most recent post, you said that "friends of enemy rights" wanted to stop all eavesdroppping of anyone. But what you say above tacitly withdraws your previous claim. Above you say that "friends of enemy rights" veer towards treason, _if_ they also demand that US soldiers be punished _and_ if they add excuses for why America deserves to be attacked. But this is unfair argumentation. What you do is make a claim about a general category, and then, in your proof, drastically narrow that general category (and use that much narrowed definition to prove a different assertion [veering towards treason, rather than wanting to stop all eavesdropping]). It's as if I were to say that conservatives were wanted to bring back lynchings and then, when you rightly called me on it and asked me to explain myself, I replied by saying that, well, when you took conservative political thought and _added_ extreme versions of states' rights, _and_ an ideology of racial purity, then you got racists. You can't say, "A=B," and then clarify it by saying, well, A+B=B.

Later, you write:
"If you read liberal Democrat Blogs, you see manifestations of people clearly beyond any reasonable standard of 'patriotic dissent'."

That is, of course, quite true. It is equally true that if you read Republican Blogs, you see 'manifestations' of people who are clearly beyond any reasonable standard of 'patriotic support' and have crossed the line into servile obedience. But what does any of this have to do with us, here, in this discussion. Are you saying that people here were beyond reasonable standards of 'patriotic dissent'? If so, stand up and make a case and support it with evidence. If not, why does what some unhinged people on other blogs write have any relevance to what Patriot57 was saying? Patriot57 isn't any more responsible for bad anti-Bush' arguments made by others than you are responsible for bad 'pro-Bush' arguments made by others.

Later, you write:
"A few, like former Blackshirt 'Lord Haw Haw' who spoke out for the enemy and enemy rights from Germany, were hanged for treason for providing aid and comfort to the enemy cause."

There's a logical problem (or at least a bit of unfair argumentation) here too. You know very well that Lord Haw Haw was not hanged for 'speaking out for...enemy rights'. If his comments had been restricted to insisting that captured Germans be humanely treated, he never would have been hanged for it. He was hanged for doing propaganda work for the Nazi party, against his own country. It's unfair argumentation to say, "1) X was horrible, because he did A. 2) X also did B. 3) Therefore. B is a horrible thing to do."

The overall point that patriot57 was making still stands. That is, you misrepresent the anti-domestic-spying arguments as being opposed to _all_ spying, even with warrants. But that's just a strawman. Those who argue against the NSA program are just opposed to domestic spying without warrants and without oversight. We're not opposed to the very idea of eavesdropping on terrorists. Indeed, we support it.

Posted by: Beren | January 12, 2006 08:27 PM

One of the "stars" of the 60's anti-war protest, Jane Fonda, clearly was in the category of Lord Haw Haw, but yet she escaped hanging or imprisonment. I believe if she had sat in an anti-aircraft position in Berlin taunting the US she would have been, at least, jailed.

Obviously, things have changed over the last 50 years. What does constitute a traitor these days? It seems to hinge in a large part on whether a war is popular, and also whether there is greater shared sacrifice.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | January 12, 2006 09:01 PM

Lets talk for a minute about troop morale.

Those of you with military backgrounds - when you were told you were fighting for "freedom" and the American way, did you believe that to include freedom of speech and the right to criticize the government?

If I had to choose which hurt troop morale more, people who loved this country so much that they rose up and freely exercised their free speech to get get it back on what they believed to be the right track, or being sent to an elective war with inadequate body armor, I'd think they'd pick the latter. Maybe the militarists here would like to comment.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 09:10 PM

And while I'm ranting (before I cool off walking the dog), lets talk about "traitorous" tipoffs to the enemy.

It was no more traitorous for the enemy to learn we were spying on them, when any enemy with a brain had to know that, than it was to appoint incompetent cronies to homeland security and publicly demonstrate to the terrorists that we have absolutely no disaster preparedness in this country even four years after 9-11. Why not just beg them to bring on the dirty bombs - we've apparently never even considered how to evacuate our major cities!

These arguements cut both ways.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 12, 2006 09:16 PM

A scary thing of late is exactly how difficult it has become to maintain conversation. Whether it is a phenomenon more here in the U. S. (where distractions abound - including many "staged" by government "officials") or a global "thing", it appears in these blogs to our detriment. Still, there is a genuine effort by many to explore the issues, and thus there is a serious and meaningful conversation.
The point of adults discussing issues, however, is to provide a forum for ideas. The airing of ideas essentially puts them to the test of human reason. Now I note that a few comments up, one of our writers put the issues to a "faith" test. We walk in all kinds of mythologies and none, and who can say which holds better claim than any other? Our exercise of reason, on the other hand, is our best reliance. Those proposals that cannot prove themselves in democracy - in our democracy - will ultimately fail (or by force will destroy the system so many of us cherish).
We must accept that our government, our Constitution, our particularly U. S. A. way of democracy is not a given, not a necessary product of capitalist economics. We owe a great deal to some clear-sighted founders, some hard-won compromises, and until now, a certain American integrity that carried us when we needed all the luck we could get.
We now have a presidential administration that claims that the nation is at war and is trying to convince not only the country but the world that it is so. While no one I know maintains that there isn't a world-wide threat from terrorist actions and that the acts against the Pentagon and World Trade Center, there really are legitimate alternative views on the available actions and precautions that we might take. My personal view: in a situation like this, I feel better having strong allies, those who can and willingly provide mutual support to the needs of their nation-neighbors. We haven't (as a matter of national policy) been actively cultivating these kinds of relationships with other countries. (And did anyone note that we'd shot an agent-operative of Italy a year ago or so?) It might much more improve our security to know that we were doing everything possible to cooperate and share intelligence with enforcement agencies of such countries; at this point, I certainly don't have that confidence. But this is the kind of thing that I mean.
We don't have a national dialog, and the Bush administration seems to want to discourage that. There is a lot of "me-too-ism" in public discussion and in a great deal of the media. It is not traitorous to propose ideas different from the President, Congress, the popular press and broadcasting. In face, it is the duty of citizens to speak their minds.
I may believe that unquestioning loyalty (even if it were, as some protest, a time of war) in the face of justice, reason, and principles is the opposite of what true patriotism requires, but I don't condemn those who haven't caught up to that idea.
We are a civil nation, or supposed to try our best, as I see it. Any problems with that?

Posted by: Jazzman | January 12, 2006 10:02 PM

Amused my definition of Lucifer and his dissent culminating in rebellion against The Power had so many taking satire seriously. Milton's "Paradise Lost" offers the most telling account of Satan's butting heads with an "unaccountable" Executive. It started with dissent but became rebellion because Satan would not subordinate himself or other rebels to the Lord's just position.

Here's another one:

Definition - COPPERHEADS - Also known as the Peace Deomocrats of the Civil War era. Supported a truce with the South, "ending the slaughter now!", and a Constitutional Convention to grant new individual and State liberties and freedoms (blacks need not attend!). Known for their vehement "dissent" against the Lincoln "Tyrant". Conduct ranged from Lincoln-hating to open enemy sympathy. Most powerful in the Midwest, New England from 1862-63 until major victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the 3rd suspension of habeas corpus, this one approved by Congress and applied nationwide - shut the Peace Democrats up. Named initially for men wearing a necklace to show they wanted metal currency, not paper, their name quickly was applied to the poisonous NE snake by Unionists. Lincoln had troops arrest 13,535 civilians, including 3 sitting members of Congress and several dozen state legislators. 300 Copperhead presses were destroyed. Copperheads became synonymous with treason in several states by the end of the war, and cost the DEmocrats decades of loss of poliical power in certain states outside the South.

Almost sounds as if the below could have been written by "Patriot"1857...though it is a civil liberties obsessed rip-off of the Declaration...


Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience To God (Oct, 1862)

To all Patriotic Men in the United States:

Whereas, the repeated violations of the Constitution of the United States by the present party in power, do most seriously threaten the liberties of the people and tend to the destruction of constitutional liberty, the great anchor of a democratic republic, we, who are hereby united in order to check these outrages upon the rights of loyal citizens, and to prevent this Government from degenerating to a military despotism, to be controlled by unscrupulous fanatics, "do pledge our lives, our property, and our sacred honor," to maintain constitutional liberty, to the extent guaranteed by our fundamental laws, and determine that no more citizens shall be illegally arrested and detained, and that we will resent such usurpation in every legal and peaceable mode, and in the event of defeat we will fall back upon that God-given right - physical resistance to despotic power. (72)

Ah, such noble civil liberties loving Lefties! How patriotic they sounded! How similar they sound to todays Lefties, other than the stuff about actually fighting. At least they weren't blubbering about the lack of lawyers to safeguard Johnny Reb's "rights", the need for more Baptist ministers, and Southern-appropriate grits and fried cuisine..

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 12, 2006 10:32 PM

Chris Ford, you wrote:
"Amused my definition of Lucifer and his dissent culminating in rebellion against The Power had so many taking satire seriously."

Mmmmm. I did realize it was meant as a joke; the first bit of my post was tongue-in-cheek too. But for Christians like me it was probably inevitable that we would take your joke a bit more seriously than those who thought the beings you were talking about were non-existent. Anyway, nice joke. Cleverly written. And I did hope it was a joke.

But, er, the reason people might have taken it seriously is that it didn't sound all that different from some of your serious posts (about the ACLU, lefties, traitors, and other strange phenomena). Or are those satires as well? Are you actually a leftist that's just been playing us all this time?

Posted by: Beren | January 13, 2006 02:05 AM

JohnnyG in DC, you write:
"One of the "stars" of the 60's anti-war protest, Jane Fonda, clearly was in the category of Lord Haw Haw, but yet she escaped hanging or imprisonment. I believe if she had sat in an anti-aircraft position in Berlin taunting the US she would have been, at least, jailed.

"Obviously, things have changed over the last 50 years. What does constitute a traitor these days? It seems to hinge in a large part on whether a war is popular, and also whether there is greater shared sacrifice."

I think you make a very good point. Though I wasn't even around during Vietnam, from what I hear, Jane Fonda's behavior was deplorable and disgusting (or I suppose 'extremely and amazingly stupid' could explain it too). It still wasn't as extensive as Lord Haw Haw's from what I hear. But I think you're right - the key is that the war was not so popular and the sacrifice wasn't shared; it's difficult to put one person in jail for saying things that aren't that different from what a double-digit percentage of the country thinks. And when people oppose (or support) a war, they're usually willing to pardon others who have taken the same position, even if their motives and methods were entirely different (and perhaps much worse).

Posted by: Beren | January 13, 2006 02:31 AM

Poor Lucifer dude, what a sad story. Please give me his email address and I will send him my condolenses. I thought I had a rough week.Does he have a web site. What kind of abyssmal conditions are we talking about? I've never been to a church, but maybe some of your Christian friends can help this poor dude out. Take a collection, maybe find him some other conditions that are not so abyssmal. Please keep us posted Ford. Do you finally have a heart and care about this poor guy. Boy those wings must have hurt when they popped out, or maybe he was born with them. This raises so many questions.So, please keep us posted and if you are taking a collection let us know. Just one question, what does this Lucifer dude have to do with the question?

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 13, 2006 09:12 AM

"While no one I know maintains that there isn't a .. there really are legitimate alternative views on the available actions and precautions that we might take."

I would like to point out that in addition to alternative _views_, erstwhile US allies have chosen alternative _means_ to successfully combat terrorist threats in their countries. And while Britain experienced a successful terrorist attack they also foiled at least one using "normal" law enforcement methods.

Terrorism did not start on 9-11-01, and the US has it's hands very, very bloody with terrorism. We could have a huge positive impact in the "WOT" by getting our heads on straight and following this so-called rule of law, both our own and international treaties.

How is it possible to say the adminsitration supports mass murderers (ie, Indonesia for one) B/C they will help us in the war on terror..? (from a news story yesterday, NPR) Talk about a double standard, prostituting oneself, ones principles, ones nation for "the cause".

" Jane Fonda's behavior was deplorable and disgusting "

I suppose you considered the alternative as well, that the use of vast amounts of chemical weapons in indochina, bombing huge areas (generally civilian), free fire zones, starting a regional conflict to "oppose communism" is not deplorable and disgusting..? Or is it the outspoken demonstrations against the war you find so?

What the nation did after vietnam was to hold the wrong people accountable; we need to learn from our own history, else we are dooming the world to repeat our mistakes of the past, both distant and recent.

Huh - there's that word again. I wonder how many of us know what it means, and that the real accountability (at least we are told so) begins at the ballot box..?

Posted by: gonzo | January 13, 2006 09:59 AM

With all due respect, has anyone taken the time to read the Plamondon case which Emily provided the link for? It hits squarely the issues which have been discussed here the past week and in language that could have been lifted straight therefrom. And makes for much more interesting debate material than screeds against people long-since dead.

Excerpts that I find of note (although the whole opinion is pretty decent once you get past the section on Legislative History and intent):

It has been said that "[t]he most basic function of any government is to provide for the security of the individual and of his property." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 539 (1966) (WHITE, J., dissenting). And unless Government safeguards its own capacity to function and to preserve the security of its people, society itself could become so disordered that all rights and liberties would be endangered. As Chief Justice Hughes reminded us in Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 574 (1941):

"Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order without which liberty itself would be lost in the excesses of unrestrained abuses."
But a recognition of these elementary truths does not make the employment by Government of electronic surveillance a welcome development - even when employed with restraint and under judicial supervision. There is, understandably, a deep-seated uneasiness and apprehension that this capability will be used to intrude upon cherished privacy of law-abiding citizens.


The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power. Nor must the fear of unauthorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of Government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society.

These Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch. The Fourth Amendment does not contemplate the executive officers of Government as neutral and disinterested magistrates. Their duty and responsibility are to enforce the laws, to investigate, and to prosecute.

The Government argues that the special circumstances applicable to domestic security surveillances necessitate a further exception to the warrant requirement. It is urged that the requirement of prior judicial review would obstruct the President in the discharge of his constitutional duty to protect domestic security. We are told further that these surveillances are directed primarily to the collecting and maintaining of intelligence with respect to subversive forces, and are not an attempt to gather evidence for specific criminal prosecutions. It is said that this type of surveillance should not be subject to traditional warrant requirements which were established to govern investigation of criminal activity, not ongoing intelligence gathering. Brief for United States 15-16, 23-24; Reply Brief for United States 2-3.

The Government further insists that courts "as a practical matter would have neither the knowledge nor the techniques necessary to determine whether there was probable cause to believe that surveillance was necessary to protect national security." These security problems, the Government contends, involve "a large number of complex and subtle factors" beyond the competence of courts to evaluate. Reply Brief for United States 4.

As a final reason for exemption from a warrant requirement, the Government believes that disclosure to a magistrate of all or even a significant portion of the information involved in domestic security surveillances "would create serious potential dangers to the national security and to the lives of informants and agents. . . . Secrecy is the essential ingredient in intelligence gathering; requiring prior judicial authorization would create a greater `danger of leaks . . ., because in addition to the judge, you have the clerk, the stenographer and some other officer like a law assistant or bailiff who may be apprised of the nature' of the surveillance."


[W]e conclude that the Government's concerns do not justify departure in this case from the customary Fourth Amendment requirement of judicial approval prior to initiation of a search or surveillance. Although some added burden will be imposed upon the Attorney General, this inconvenience is justified in a free society to protect constitutional values. Nor do we think the Government's domestic surveillance powers will be impaired to any significant degree. A prior warrant establishes presumptive validity of the surveillance and will minimize the burden of justification in post-surveillance judicial review. By no means of least importance will be the reassurance of the public generally that indiscriminate wiretapping and bugging of law-abiding citizens cannot occur.

Posted by: Matthew | January 13, 2006 10:28 AM

Gonzo - During the Cold War we supported alot of nasty people in our struggle to stem the roll of Soviet/Chinese-style communism in the third world (and Europe - Greece and Italy especially). I'm not going to say it was morally right to do so, nor am I going to say that we haven't felt the repercussions of our actions either. Our decisions were based on realpolitik or, as LBJ said about South Vietnams President - "Yeah, he's a sonuvabitch, but he's OUR sonuvabitch". International politics is an ugly sport to be sure and unfortunately at times we are forced to compromise our higher moral standards to achieve long-term strategic objectives. Its ugly but it is unfortunately, reality. The benefit of a society based on free and open discourse is that the people still possess the means by which to voice their opposition to the government so that these temporary "accomodations" with our collective moral values do not become a permanent feature of US policy. Thats where the challenge lies.

Posted by: D. | January 13, 2006 10:49 AM

That's precisely the point we should all be considering. Given the circumstances, the demonstrability of imminent dangers (not to mention cause/effect probability of gov't. action to national safety), is there a justifiable case to defy the law to conduct no-warrant surveilance? It is not a question of can such be ordered in dire cases during times of national crisis. We're talking about a period in which warrants could have been obtained if sought. This distinction cannot be glossed over.
If all it takes is a President's say-so to over-rule or over-ride our laws, what is the point of having them. And if this power extends to even such fundamental laws as Constitutional rights and powers, then we have monarchy, not constitutional democracy. Posture as you like, this seems not some abstract hypothetical debate but rather an examination of the political architecture of the United States.
Citizens of courage are saying that's not the country we have. Those who are motivated by fear and seem to wish all the rest were so motivated say "Trust the government, trust our President." When the tendencies of the government or President curtail freedom first before resorting to lawful actions, it is right for citizens to be distrustful. We have elected representative to stand for our will. We have mechanisms to allow for consultation between the branches of government to provide for the common good (including when that good is national security). To bypass such communication, to sidestep law expressly written to give guidelines for preservation of the privacy of citizens, and then to blatantly declare that as President is is a given power to so flout the law is both ludicrous and without understanding of the primary underpinnings of our system of government.
Any thoughts?

Posted by: Jazzman | January 13, 2006 11:27 AM

Sorry . . . my comment was a response to similar expressions by Matthew above.

Posted by: Jazzman | January 13, 2006 11:29 AM

In 1942, Christopher Dawson wrote in The Judgment of Nations: "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."

*Intrepid Liberal Journal*

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | January 13, 2006 01:20 PM


Thank you for expressing my thoughts far more pithily and eloquently than I could. My only comment is that the president should model the behavior that should be expected of each citizen. I simply cannot understand why a conservative president (who should know better!) would so cavalierly disregard the law.

Posted by: Average American | January 13, 2006 01:24 PM

Nothing incited the enemy more than the President going on TV and daring the terrorists to "bring it on."

Yet today, the President warns opponents of the war -- who incidentally do not include me -- not to give comfort to the enemy by engaging in vigorous debate.

The real damage to this effort has not been caused by opponents of the war, but by the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense, who misled the American public about the reasons to go to war, undermined and humiliated our Secretary of State with false intelligence, outed a CIA agent to punish her husband for correcting that intelligence, contracted out prison management to untrained and unsupervised jailors who predictably abused a hated enemy, and failed to foresee a need for civilian authority once combat ended thereby ensuring the incubation of an insurgency.

Posted by: Bob | January 13, 2006 02:09 PM

Echoing some posters ...

which causes more harm?

1) a commander in chief who keeps our troops in harm's way without staff or equipment to secure the territory initially won with our soldier's blood?

2) citizens who critize that commander in chief for that failing?

people who sling "traitor" arrows at the opposition when it exercises 1st amendment freedom simply demean themselves, particularly when the opposition is correct

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | January 13, 2006 03:52 PM

I'd venture to put those on the right who scream "traitor" the minute someone raises an objection to administration policy in the same category as those on the left who yell "racist" or "Nazi" to anyone who dares disagree with them.

As for the condition of our troops in harm's way, alot has been made about body armor and all that and how the Bush administration has been sending but wee lads into harms way clad in nothing but loincloths and the like. Consider the following:

No piece of equipment ever fielded by any military is perfect. That's why you see designations on them ending in "A1" or "A2" or "A3", etc. Once in the field they are extensively studied and then modified to do a better job. That's the process involved here. While it is clear, now, that some Soldiers and Marines could have survived what ended up being fatal wounds with more extensive armor, it's also true if we dressed them up in ceramic armor like knights of old, we could probably save even more. However, they'd be worth about 3 minutes on a patrol before they fall and not be able to get up or expire from heat exhaustion.

Again, it is helpful to read what the soldiers themselves are saying about the whole body armor issue:


His point? Trade-offs are made every day. When and if the technology evolves to the point that lightweight effective armor that is comfortable can be produced, troops will wear it. But when they weigh trading mobility and endurance for a little extra marginal protection, they usually choose the former over the latter.

Posted by: D. | January 13, 2006 05:11 PM

Like it or not, we are at war. If listening in on international phone calls might prevent islamo-fascists from blowing up a few thousands more Americans, polls show a majority of us reluctantly support unauthorized phone taps. Is that majority an army of mindless Bushies? No, I suppose most folks understand that sort of thing is temporary and can be remedied after we win or quit, whatever comes first. If the wiretapping info was being abused for these past years, I think some cases would have come under gleeful media scrutiny by now, given a population of nearly 300 million. Hey, while we`re at war, hang up on Osama when he calls and you`ll be fine. The gov`t doesn`t really care about your arrangements to visit Aunt Betty in London next summer.

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 05:54 PM

While I agree with D. about the current status of armor and the fact that there must be a tradeoff between protection and utility, I think most references to inadequate bodyarmor refer to the start of the conflict in which many soldiers had little to no protection. If I remember correctly, reports were not that the best (or ceramic armor of knights of old referenced by D.) armor was not being shipped, but that basic body armor with a high utility was not being provided. If I recall, there were stories frequented about towns raising money for soldiers, who would then leave the armor for buddies when sent home.

While this may have changed now, the horror of the original error is a large strike against the administration.

Posted by: Freedom | January 13, 2006 05:55 PM


You sound like you just came off of one.

"Like it or not, we are at war."
With whom. And what are the victory conditions.

"If listening in on international phone calls might prevent islamo-fascists from blowing up a few thousands more Americans"
False dichotomy and unnecessary rant.

"polls show a majority of us reluctantly support unauthorized phone taps."
Polls show that 50% of Americans support the phone taps, which would be more than who are against it (46%) and the undecideds (4%) but not a majority, and certainly not a huge one.

"Is that majority an army of mindless Bushies?"
I don't know. What percentage of people voted for Bush in 2004? Oh yah. 50.7%.

"No, I suppose most folks understand that sort of thing is temporary and can be remedied after we win or quit, whatever comes first."
Rant that imposes your views upon the populous with absolutely no foundation.

"If the wiretapping info was being abused for these past years, I think some cases would have come under gleeful media scrutiny by now, given a population of nearly 300 million."
Ummm... hey... what was that series of leaks that spurred the NY Times article and all this fuss? Oh yah. People who thought that the system was being abused and so being reported by (maybe gleeful) media scrutiny. Congratulations on keeping up to date on the U.S. population, though.

"Hey, while we`re at war, hang up on Osama when he calls and you`ll be fine."
But how could I then send your love. Seriously, though, if intelligence is such a difficult and time-sensitive area that the goverment, with its resources, needs further powers of investigation to figure out who these people are, how am I supposed to figure it out? I mean, it's one thing to pre-screen your calls to make sure it's someone you want to talk to, but to also require a full background check, validated by the NSA, that the person I'm talking to is 100% for sure, not some sort of sleeper cell? You either think a whole lot of me or a whole little of the government. But Osama does send you his love.

"The gov`t doesn`t really care about your arrangements to visit Aunt Betty in London next summer."
Quite frankly, the Constitution does not protect my conversations which the government does decide is boring. It protects my conversation which the government does not have a warrant to inspect.

Now, if you wish to earnestly debate, please, put forth rational, reasonable arguments. If you want to rant, there's plenty of street corners. In the meantime, find a handkerchief. You have a little splittle on your chin.

Posted by: Matthew | January 13, 2006 07:09 PM

Thanks for replying. Wow, spittle on my chin? Kinda blows your whole condescending " Now, if you wish to earnestly debate, please, put forth rational, reasonable arguments " line.

I liked the anti-rant thing you have going...

"Hey, while we`re at war, hang up on Osama when he calls and you`ll be fine."
But how could I then send your love. Seriously, though, if intelligence is such a difficult and time-sensitive area that the goverment, with its resources, needs further powers of investigation to figure out who these people are, how am I supposed to figure it out? I mean, it's one thing to pre-screen your calls to make sure it's someone you want to talk to, but to also require a full background check, validated by the NSA, that the person I'm talking to is 100% for sure, not some sort of sleeper cell? You either think a whole lot of me or a whole little of the government. But Osama does send you his love."

Are you always this nasty, or do I bring out the hypocrytical freak in you?

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 07:26 PM

hypocritical...for grammar geeks. :)

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 07:32 PM

D for every post there is an equal and opposite post.


Which post is true, yours or mine? Probably both.

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 07:35 PM


The answer to your question would depend upon who you asked but I would say that I respond in kind to how people present themselves. And you also caught a little bit of the Friday-night-almost-heading-out-of-work special.

But to expand a little bit on my last point of conversations of interest, there's two more points I'd like to make on that.

(1) What about if Bill Gates was discussing an unexpected and unannounced product launch which was going to blow away the market? Would some government employee be interested in that? Or what about the conversations between the chairman and vice-chairman of the national political parties? Would someone find that of interest? Or some Senator or Congressman or what not on the phone with their foreign consort (unknown and unannounced to the public and their spouse). Would someone think that was interesting? Or lastly, if I am friends and lobbyist for the nation of Chad and we are talking about fashioning a U.N. solution to some problem of theirs contrary to the U.S. economic interest. How about then? I ask these questions seriously. That just because my life lacks the kind of verve that an NSA analyst would like to tap into, there are others who are American citizens who have their rights which some individual would be tempted to violate without existing probable cause or a warrant. And you cannot premise an idea of liberty on how mundane your last seven days have been.

And secondly, the argument that if you don't do anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about only flies so far. Under that logic, the penalty for petty theft could be execution and if you didn't steal, hey, no big deal. There's a standard of fairness and individuality on which our nation is founded which does not rest on a mere premise of good-doers but grants rights to all individuals. The question on these things is not only, is this the right thing for me. But rather, is this the right thing for the nation.

This response, I hope, you found a bit more respectful.

Posted by: Matthew | January 13, 2006 07:58 PM

Matthew, from what I read, Bender just put forth a viewpoint that I would expect half the American population would say matter of factly at the dinner table.

As a Lefty, though, you could not resist going to the Marxist debating line of attacking motive and character, with Bender:

"false dichotomy, rant, rant imposing your view on others", (sarcasm) "Ummm hey"(condescention)"Congrats on keeping up" . Finally, smarmy Lefty lecturing: "Now, if you wish to earnestly debate, please, put forth rational, reasonable arguments. If you want to rant, there's plenty of street corners. In the meantime, find a handkerchief. You have a little splittle on your chin....."

Now, ever wonder why your folks keep losing elections even against unpopular, inept Republicans?...And are slowly losing control of your last institutional bastions in the media, your last activist judge pals, even starting to be displaced from your grip on "correct viewpoints to be expressed" in academia?

1. You talk from a self centered Lefty view - "Me and my rights" vs. "We and our country".

2. The way you talk would make you an odd stranger at most dinner tables outside the university dining halls, whereas Bender would fit in anywhere.

3. Lefties cannot resist lecturing - imagining themselves as the "superior-acting" professors, droning pompous Massachusetts Senators, or judges they wish to emulate. And pattern their speech, writings, and demands of others on the sort of authority figures they relate to...Forgetting most of the rest of society really dislikes those sorts.

4. Ever think the wierd Lefty fetishes of constant vitriol against the commmander in chief and the troops (except when they become the victims) coupled with your extolling "precious enemy rights and civil liberties" sound strange and repellant to most Americans? And makes the Left totally untrustworthy to defend this country??

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 13, 2006 08:05 PM

"Another Lefty trait that makes them distinct from conservatives is their tendency, even here, to make their rebuttals personal...to always...as Lenin and later Marcuse counseled, to speak to motive and the character deficiencies o the person they disagree with."
-Chris Ford

"the Marxist debating line of attacking motive and character"
-Chris Ford

"(sarcasm) ... (condescention) ... smarmy Lefty lecturing ... You talk from a self centered Lefty view ... Lefties cannot resist lecturing - imagining themselves as the 'superior-acting' professors ... Ever think the wierd Lefty fetishes of constant vitriol against the commmander in chief and the troops ... makes the Left totally untrustworthy to defend this country??"
-Chris Ford

Ladies and gentlement, may I present Chris Ford, your most recent Marxist!

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 08:34 PM

Here`s the war you asked about....from the WaPo. Posting proof for what should be common knowledge is painful for me, but for a gentleman like you, no problem.

Regarding the polls:

Here`s a paragraph from the Wa Po a few days ago.

Dan Balz and Claudia Deane
Washington Post
Jan. 10, 2006 04:21 PM

WASHINGTON - Americans overwhelmingly support aggressive government pursuit of terrorist threats, even if it may infringe on personal privacy, but they divide sharply along partisan lines over the legitimacy of President Bush's program of domestic eavesdropping without court authorization, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Nearly two in three Americans surveyed said they believe that federal agencies involved in anti-terrorist activities are intruding on the personal privacy of their fellow citizens, but FEWER THAN A THIRD SAID SUCH INTRUSIONS WERE UNJUSTIFIED.

( I`m not yelling, just making sure you read the part I refered to in my post. )

The Osama comment was not directed at anyone... it was supposed to be satirical, absurd, black humor .

As to the rest of your bizarre rambling I say, " you win! " Congrats.

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 08:45 PM

To take up a serious point, however, something Chris said is worth addressing squarely: "Ever think the wierd Lefty fetishes of constant vitriol against the commmander in chief and the troops (except when they become the victims) coupled with your extolling 'precious enemy rights and civil liberties' sound strange and repellant to most Americans?"

Let's flip this: do the people on the right ever consider that this constant vitriol against other nations coupled with constant degradation of the rights and dignities of the citizens of other nations make the United States totally untrustworthy within the world stage?

This is not a flippant question. Within 50 years, the United States will be in the world-power stage currently occupied by England and France. We're stripping away our natural resources. We're outsourcing our manufacturing. We're promising out our capital. Other nation equity markets are developing. Our currency is falling. We're losing the population race. Our immigation policies are costing us in the brain race. Democracy and capitalism are becoming less unique. Other nations are catching up in development. We have no real further expansion left.

Why is this important? Because American influence is going to diminish. Gloves off international diplomacy may be fine when you're the heavyweight, but not when you're the overweight. And the U.S. should act now to ensure that if and when that happens, we will not face a huge wellspring of international resentment.

So the question is: do you all understand the consequences?

This may be interpreted as an anti-American skeed, but it isn't. It's an assessment of our situation relative to our future relavence. If anyone wants to disagree with me, please take it up with the points of fact and projection. Thanks.

Posted by: Matthew | January 13, 2006 08:58 PM


Why was Matthew sarcastic (when he is usually quite respectful)? We can probably blame frustration. Most of your arguements have already been hashed to death on this forum and seem tired and not really justifiable.

Let's start here: "If listening in on international phone calls might prevent islamo-fascists from blowing up a few thousands more Americans..." Yes, fear is indeed a powerful motivator.

But really why is this a false arguement? Because we would prevent many times more innocent deaths in this country by suspending the second amendment than the fourth. We suffer the equivalent of FOUR 9-11's EVERY YEAR in gun homicide deaths alone - and many of these are innocents. So are you willing to give up your second amendment rights in the name of public safety to save a few thousand Americans from being "blown away"? Where is the war on gun violence? But for some reason the same people calling us unpatriotic for asking for oversight when your fourth amendment rights are infringed would rabidly guard their second amendment rights as untouchable, even though they are far more likely to be killed by a gun toting American than a terrorist.

Threat is relative, isn't it.

You are far more likely to die from other causes than a terrorist. Flu kills the equivalent of TWELVE 9'11s every year. Where is the war on influenza? Should the government be able to force you to get a flu shot for your own protection (not only to prevent your death but to stop you from spreading it to someone with cancer or who is elderly for whom the shot might not work very well? When avian flu mutates person to person it is likely to kill MILLIONS, like Osama setting off nuclear bombs in 20 cities. So will you turn over your civil rights when the quarantine Bush is already planning keeps you from getting your still healthy babies out of the city?

We face many more imminent threats than al Qaeda. Balancing civil rights for safety is a dance we do every day, not something new that unpatriotic America hater lefties have dreamed up. But it doesn't really make sense to say the second amendment is untouchable but the fourth must just be handed over blindly.

Next: "No, I suppose most folks understand that sort of thing is temporary and can be remedied after we win or quit, whatever comes first." How are you so sure you'll be getting those liberties back? History has clearly shown that this is a pretty slippery slope. Peru came within inches of not being able to remedy it and its still not clear that real democracy survived there from their leader's assumption of "emergency war powers". Germany was never able to remedy it. Burma was never able to remedy it... Oh, don't throw the Lincoln example in my face, just take a look at how Lincoln surrounded himself with dissenters who had incentives to keep an eye on his power, the complete opposite of the current President's bubble.

"If the wiretapping info was being abused for these past years, I think some cases would have come under gleeful media scrutiny by now" But that's the point, isn't it? How was it going to be scrutinized when the program was deliberatly set up with no oversight? No one outside of the executive branch to see if it was just terrorists or maybe political opponents too. ANd try reading a few of Chris Ford's posts, where he calls us all traitors. Traitor = national security risk = the president can label anyone who dissents a national security risk that must be spied on, and with no oversight who could stop him? Its not about the spying, its about the (absence of) oversight.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 13, 2006 09:48 PM

"So the question is: do you all understand the consequences?"

Yes, I understand the consequences. China is going to eat our lunch.

Without energy independence this nation is screwed. 9-11 made the price of our dependence on foreign oil painfully clear.

In the past 4 years since Sept 11 cars have gotten larger, mileage standards have become a joke, oil companies have posted record profits, politicians lampoon any opposition who suggest strategies that would push Americans onto the path of recognizing the problem and seeing value in development of energy independence, and the Bush family and their cronies are laughing all the way to the bank.

We can't drill our way out of this, so don't start on Alaska. Its really not enough oil to fix the problem.

Half our oil goes into transportation and about half into manufacturing (mostly lastics, etc). We dont' use much for heating and electric power, etc in this country (although we do use natural gas for heating, which doesn't come from the middle east but since we import half of this too, the lesson the Ukraine just learned should be settling in on us, too)

What has our government done? Until recently NOTHING. Now we're getting lip service to conservation and half-hearted promises for hydrogen cells, which at current technology require fossil fuels to manufacture (gee, that's why Bush picked it over solar or nuclear! duh), and MIGHT pay off in a few decades.

Where is the shared sacrifice?

The uber Conservative Victor Hanson just wrote a column on this. Of course he blames the left for not demaning more nuclear power and more drilling (but also blames the right for failing to push for fuel efficiency standards and alternative fuels). But his points are important - WE are funding our own terrorists! Here is a quote I liked "It would be far easier to curb WMD if madmen lacked the oil [money] to pay for them".

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 10:19 PM

Hanson link - Jan 13 Chicago Tribune - you have to register (but its free)

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 10:29 PM

Thanks for the reply to my initial post,patriot 1957. My statements may be stale here... apologies for that. We can google up stats and articles all day and prove any point we want, which seemed to be what Matthew wanted. My words are certainly as justifiable as any here, however. There is a war, I was correct on the polling, and gun violence in the States doesn`t diminish the threat from terrorism in any way. I`m an 11th year firefighter/paramedic and see gunshot wounds fairly often. I also see stabbings, beatings, suicides, drug overdoses, acute myocardial infarctions, abused kids/geriatric pts, MVAs, AIDS, COPD, CHF, and some other acronyms I can`t think of right now. I try to help those folks out. It doesn`t change my opinion on kicking terrorist ass. My stance on that is at least as solid as your oversight argument. It`s not wrong to fight one problem just because you`re inundated with a myriad of others.

"So will you turn over your civil rights when the quarantine Bush is already planning keeps you from getting your still healthy babies out of the city?"

Hmm...never considered that before. If we`re possibly infected I sure don`t wanna transport the virus elsewhere and kill off another half-city population. I suppose I`ll stay here, transport patients and assist in maintaining city services as best we can.

" How are you so sure you'll be getting those liberties back?"

Because of the second amendment.

Lincoln rocked so hard. The current state of politics almost eliminates anyone with wisdom like his from participating. Putting rivals on his staff was beautiful.

I don`t think a man is a traitor for speaking his mind...do your thing. That`s why I was reading this blog.

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 10:46 PM

My point about the polls is that Americans haven't thought it through. Do you remember who said "how fortunate it is for those in power that people do not think"?

If, for example, the NRA realized that if people can be so easily manipulated into laying down their fourth amendment rights, and that a govermment hyped crisis might be just as successful in getting them to lay down their second amendment rights, I think this arguement and the polls would change substantially. How fortunate for those in power that the Democrats are behaving like idiots.

>>Americans, we are in a crisis from traitorous insurgents who call themselves Americans too. Americans who look just like you and me, who want to disrupt the peace and tranquility of our country, to break our resolve, to trample on our God given freedoms. But these ungrateful traitors are threatening our troops. Every day our brave soldiers are killed by these unGodly treasonists. And you, innocent Americans, are getting caught in the crossfire too. Just yesterday little Cindy Lou Hoo here lost her mother, shot dead by an insurrectionist, who was just trying to walk to church (pan camera to sobbing father holding darling lost looking child, father sobs "please, help make my baby safe"). There are now thousands of little orphans just like Cindy Lou here, because insurgents have free access to guns in this country. America, we must prevent these people from getting guns. I know you are all patriotic enough to see that we must stop selling them guns. and since we do not know why they are, I'm sure you can see why we must pass the Patriotic Act closing gun stores and shows. I know this seems harsh, but it is my primary duty as your President to protect your lives, and defend your rights to peace and tranquility. And just last week someone broke into my friend Charlton Heston's house and stole all his guns! His entire collection! Now those treasonous insurrectionists have more guns. You must show your patriotism and get the guns away from the traitors. Gun drives will be held in every church in America this Sunday where you can turn in your guns so you can be sure the terrorists don't break into your homes get them. ANd because we know the traitors won't turn in their guns, tne newly appointed "American safety committee" will do house to house searches to make sure all those treasonists no longer have guns. I know that as patriotic Americans you will welcome them into your homes, proudly show them your empty gun cases and thank them for defending your freedom from fear. Now I know some defeatists will try to say NO! I won't participate in making my country safe! But if they have nothing to hide, then why would they act this way? America, I know some of you like to hunt, and so I must assure you this measure is only temporary, until we win this civil war these traitors declared on us law-abiding God Fearing Decent People. And then, by God, we'll all shoot our own goose for next Christmas!...>>>

Its like feeding candy to a baby

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 13, 2006 11:20 PM

thats taking candy from a baby

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 11:25 PM

Wow...did you just come up with that?

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 11:27 PM

Let me finish my first thought on the polls.

We all support listening. So polls supporting listening are somewhat deceptive.

But what Americans are hearing from the dishonest right, and the the msm is generally failing to call them on, is that the "civil liberty defenders" want them to stop listening.

But that is a lie. What we want is for the listening to be overseen. Giving the President sole discretion to decide who is a "terrorist' or "enemy agent' and can thus be freely spied on is the kind of absolute power that corrupts absolutely. As you can see if Chris Ford was President we'd all be "enemy combatants" in jail without access to a lawywer or even charges because we are such a "threat".

But as long as the right spews out this lie and the msm don't challenge it and the Dems are too poorly focused to fight it, you will see polls like this.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 13, 2006 11:31 PM

Hey, I gotta go... pleasure yacking with you. I`ll be back on Sunday sometime. We can hurl fierce rhetoric at eachother and stuff...:)

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 11:33 PM

Wow...did you just come up with that?

You still think you can depend on your second amendment rights to win your fourth amendment rights back?

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 13, 2006 11:34 PM

I don`t think it`ll come to that, but if it does...damn right I do, my brother.

Posted by: bender | January 13, 2006 11:36 PM


Hope you do come back. I'm not looking for people to google to find Joe Paranoid's blog and use that as support. But a modicum of agreed facts helps these things along to prevent us from talking past each other. There's an op-ed adage that you're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Because if we can't agree on the current state of things then it's completely impossible for us to agree on what to do about these things.

I don't (intentionally, anyways) go cherry-picking stats. The poll I was referring to was what I found when I googled it to find out what you were talking about and was cited by CNN here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/01/11/poll.wiretaps/ I honestly had not read the WaPo poll article. However, since you posted it, I just now hunted it down and also notice on the bottom of the page: "Most Americans said they have paid close attention to the controversy over the program, and a bare majority of those surveyed, 51 percent, said it is an acceptable way to fight terrorism, while 47 percent said it is not. Beneath those overall findings, however, were sharp partisan divisions." Here's the link. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/10/AR2006011001192.html The article goes on to discuss the false dichotomy labeled by myself and Patriot by saying, "More generally, two in three Americans said it is more important to investigate possible terrorist threats than to protect civil liberties. One-third said the respect for privacy should take precedence." Or let me retract a little bit: the dichotomy is not completely false. You can trade one for the other. However, that is not what the current debate about. The current debate is a separation of powers dispute; to what extent must the Executive branch bow and acknowledge the other representatives of government. You don't see an argument that the FISA court was overly restrictive. You don't. You see an argument that the Executive branch isn't required to use it. But it's never stated why. Sometimes you'll hear a half-hearted justification of "speed." But, you reply, can get a warrant retroactively. And then the argument shifts over to a plenary Executive. Lunge, parry, shift.

And patriot, poor Cindy Lou Hoo. I think the second amendment is (in popular culture) the least understood, or probably most misunderstood, of the amendments regularly cited in the popular press and culture. For one thing, it's not clear that is a right that belongs to the individual. Rather, the right may inure to the states. Read the first two clauses. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It speaks of militias and free States. Sure it also talks of the, "the right of the people" but does that mean that first clause is window dressing? Doesn't appear in any other of the Bill of Rights. So if the right of the people is a dependant clause, then it is a right which the States can give and take away. Really, who does the right belong to? The Supreme Court has never settled this issue (but it has been much argued and discussed in legal circles). You can, as bender says, google it and come up with long discussions on both sides. It's good stuff.

More personally (and much less widely held) is my idea that if the second amendment really does mean what it says, then what it is trying to do is to protect the states from the tyranny of the federal government (which also fits into the strong federalism concerns of the Continental Congress). Therefore, the second amendment doesn't protect your right to have guns. It protects your right to have whatever weaponry which would be necessary to rally to your state's cause and defend it against national tyranny. M-16's? Sure. Missile launchers? Absolutely. Black Hawk helicopters and F-16's? The fed has 'em. Nukes? Hey now! But...

Anyhow, enjoy your day.

Posted by: Matthew | January 14, 2006 12:02 PM


Great interpretation of the second amendment. A small thought arises: What is the individual's right to protect itself from the state government should it become overpowerful? Or perhaps not the individual but that of a militia with legitimacy of some sort and opposed to the State government?

It's not a practical question, but it was at the time, and I'm interested in your opinion. I agree that the second amendement fundamentally aims to protect the people's right to retain the ability to overthrow their government, for obvious historical resons.

This is one of those crux areas where one can't take the Constitutional aim to infinite ends. Things change in ways the drafters simply could not have envisioned. Practically, we can't give Bill Gates a nuclear arsenal just because he can afford one. But constitutionally?

This gets to the heart of the problem with 'stict constructionalism'. It simply doesn't work. Just reading the words, Bill gets his nukes. But there is no way any one of the drafters would've allowed that in the country they were building. As the saying goes, the Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.

Imoh, the 2nd Amendment has already been bent, and even the NRA is operating within a framework more narrow than that originally envisioned. And regardless, Patriot is right and the NRA should be thinking about the implications he points out. If the President can eavesdrop w/o oversight, he can take any guns he damn well pleases. I hear this word 'plenary' and I can't find it in the constitution.

Posted by: Bullsmith | January 14, 2006 11:12 PM

Stick with the meaning of terms such as "well regulated." See what you started, Emily? You go, girl! Meanwhile, we'll all sleep on these thoughts. We are guaranteed "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . ." and so should do so soundly and to the benefit of our reason. Good night all.

Posted by: Jazzman | January 15, 2006 01:11 AM

Matthew I didn't mean to imply that I agree the second amendment ensures a personal right to keep guns. My point was these polls reflect a general lack of thought about what it means to abridge the Bill of Rights. I believe that if the NRA grasped that the President has claimed imperial right over the Bill of Rights in general, not just the Fourth Amendment, they'd be thinking a little differently about this. They may have him in their pocket sufficiently to trust him not to go after amendment 2. But what about the next president Hillary?

The next president could also decide that since we are at war her primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the American people, and since terrorists can legally get guns in this country and since the American death rate from gun homicide is about 20X higher that from terrorists (calculated since 9-11), what is to stop her from arguing that her wartime powers trump the second amendment as well ?

Like I said, I don't think they've thought through the consequences.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | January 15, 2006 01:54 AM


I understand your point. For some reason, the 4th amendment is very easy for some Americans to give up in a way that they would never dream of giving up the 2nd (even though it's more directly related to deaths and violence). I just think the second amendment is very funny and quirky in ways that people don't appreciate so as long as the topic was raised, thought I'd throw it in there.

Thanks and will try to respond after I have some coffee (and am halfway human).

Posted by: Matthew | January 15, 2006 09:09 AM

The NRA does not care about the 2nd ammendment as far as the freedom it protects. The NRA uses members dues to ensure the continued sale of guns supporting the gun making industry. The Constitution is not on the NRA's minds. Its an industry lobbying group that uses non-industry moneys to support the industry. Get that straight and feel sorry for the poor suckers who pay their dues.

As far as the 4th ammendment, I saw a bumper sticker the other day in Denver while visiting my sister. It read:
"Oh well, I wasn't using my civil liberites anyway."
My sister and I laughed haltingly.

Posted by: Sully | January 16, 2006 01:00 AM

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