Democrats & Liberals Archives

Conservatives: The Law is for Liberals

President Bush is a “war president” and therefore he does not need to obey the law if he thinks it would prevent him from fighting the “war on terror.” This is what he says. This is what conservatives in Congress, such as Senator John McCain who defends his position, say. Liberals in Congress, like Senator Feingold, keep repeating that nobody is above the law. To which conservatives, like Karl Rove, retort that only liberals who don’t give a damn about the war think the law is more important than winning. Evidently, according to him the law is only for liberals.

After much discussion and negotiation, Congress passed a slightly modified but flawed Patriot Act. When Bush signed the bill, he pulled another fast one:

"Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it 'a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people.' But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a 'signing statement,' an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

"Bush wrote:'The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . '"

In other words, Bush said that if he did not feel like informing Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers he would not do it. It's only a law. The president does not need to obey all laws that Congress concots. He's fighting a "war on terror."

Another slap in the face of Congress. Bush already thumbed his nose at Congress - no, no, at the Constitution - by declaring himself above the law in the warrantless spying of Americans. Now he is promising to do it again with reference to the Patriot Act.

How to revise the Patriot Act has been argued for months. What was the point? What difference does it make what it says? If the president does not like it, he will not follow it.

What difference does it make if Congress is in session or not? The president knows what to do and he will not allow Congress to dictate to him.

Senator Feingold tried to bring the president under the Constitution with his resolution for censure, but all the conservatives - Republicans and Democrats alike - did not go along. So the president insists on continuing to disobey the law whenever he wants to.

How long must we wait before Congress does its duty? It MUST protect the Constitution. All members pledged to do so. Write or call your legislators and tell them to censure the president.

The law is not only for liberals. It is for conservatives too.

Posted by Paul Siegel at March 24, 2006 5:45 PM
Comments
Comment #135713

The Dem position is a very fine distinction. Essentially they are saying that they approve of what the president did and they don’t want him to stop doing it. Beyond that, they say, he could easily get approval for what he did even ex-post-facto.

What they object to is the procedure he used, or didn’t use.

So I understand the need for procedure and process. There is some dispute about the legitimacy. The congess should act either to hold the president to the procedure or change the procedure. But it doesn’t not seem censure worthy. When is the last time congress censured a president?

Is that it?

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 6:13 PM
Comment #135725

Jack-
Let me make you a deal: you end your support for Bush’s signing statements, and in return, you can talk about conservatives being strict constructionists of the law once again.

This is Bush saying that certain portions of the law don’t count, instead of taking the proper conservative position, which is the strict adherence to the law. This is saying that Congress can make the laws, but they can’t make him carry them out, despite his constitutional duty to carry out the law.

The Republicans are too incautious nowadays about handing the president power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 24, 2006 7:20 PM
Comment #135726

Well, get a majority in Congress then. There is really little that Democrats can do to stop this at the moment.

Censuring is a waste of time and effort. More time should be spent working on real issues than partisan politics.

Posted by: Zeek at March 24, 2006 7:23 PM
Comment #135728

Paul,

Just because Congress has a passed a law, that does not make the law ‘constitutional’, especially if it attempts to curtail the executive branch without using constitutional amendments.

Congress is not the final arbitrator of what is and is not constitutional, the Supreme Court is.

I’m not saying that it is the situation in THIS case, I’m saying that you can’t say it is wrong for Bush to say the position

The president does not need to obey all laws that Congress concots.

isn’t a valid one is completely wrong. The congress, for example, could pass a law that says that the president could be 25 years old or a ‘naturalized’ citizen, that doesn’t make the law valid or that the executive branch should follow it since they are clearly unconstitutional laws.

Again, if it is the case here, I am not knowledgable enough to say, and I daresay that most of us debating at this moment aren’t since we don’t know all of the facts or are constitutional lawyers, it does seem to me that there is an argument for each side that may have to go to the supreme court to determine the legality.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 24, 2006 7:28 PM
Comment #135737

Stephen

I really am trying to see the Dem position. None of them will say the underlying action the president took is wrong. Have you heard anyone say that the program should stop? But they don’t like the procedure. The President is doing what Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and others did. The difference is a law passed in the 1970s.

So I can understand that there is an argument about procedures. Congress or the courts have the option of defining it more precisely.

It is not worthy of censure. I don’t really remmeber the last time a president was censured. I think it was when Andrew Jackson withdrew government money from the Bank of the United States. It is not something done lightly.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 8:51 PM
Comment #135738

This post illustrates the danger of jumping to a prejudged conclusion. If anyone, Republican or Democrat truly believes the President has broken the law, challenge him in court. That’s where legal decisions are made, not on blogs. We may have opinions on the legality of some of Bush’s actions, but they are just that, opinions. Until a court has ruled, and all the appeals are exhausted by the losers, we can express our thoughts and ideas but we cannot, in good conscience, declare absolutely that he has or has not broken the law.

Posted by: John Back at March 24, 2006 8:52 PM
Comment #135745

///
Paul, I think McCain is just positioning himself as heir presumptive to the monarchy. Is the war on terror the war in Iraq, or is that just a rehearsal for another 40 year long war with the Axis of evil instead of the evil empire? If so, who is The evil emperor and who is Darth Vader in this scenario? Does anyone even seriously believe we are winning something in Iraq? McCain had better watch out, if he ends up inheriting this war, he will be in the position Nixon was. I hope the next guy makes better decisions.

SD, Rpbclns believe that whatever position their president takes is conservative and constitutional. Most did exactly the same in Nixons time until it was expedient to jump ship. However, they would all be advocating impeachment and the death penalty for treason if a Democratic president was doing exactly the same thing.
///

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2006 9:50 PM
Comment #135749

Jack,

The underlying action the president took is wrong.

The program should stop.

Clear enough?

Posted by: phx8 at March 24, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #135754

Good, phx8

Get the other Dems to be clear like that. It would be good if you can get Harry Reid or Barbara Boxer to put it into a sound bite.

Like this one.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2006 11:05 PM
Comment #135758

Yes, phx8, what was I thinking? I should know better than to think for myself, discussing points of law and legal aspects of the case and just do what I’m told by the people who don’t think that most American’s have the capacity to do so.

Thanks for showing me the light.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 24, 2006 11:40 PM
Comment #135762

phx8,
You failed to point out to Jack that the position you stated has been put forth by many prominent Republicans too, but I’m sure he already knows that. He has attempted to frame this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue and it is anything but. Maybe that’s why he had so much trouble articulating the Democrat’s position. He couldn’t seperate the criticism from Democrats from the criticism of Republicans.

Zeek
I agree with everything you said except the last three words. This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a criminal one.

Since both houses of Congress are in Republican hands they will never have the backbone to challenge the president. But, as Rhinehold pointed out, that fact doesn’t make the president’s actions legal or illegal. It needs to be decided in the courts. Personally I like John Back’s suggestion, rather than argue endlessly about it here, do something to get it through the courts. Let me suggest that everyone who would like the president to be held accountable for his actions should send the ACLU a donation. They have challenged this policy in court.

What a patriotic way to spend our tax cuts, supporting the rule of law.

Posted by: RMD at March 24, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #135764

RMD

Criticism of the president may be bipartisan (although this goes against the other Dem talking point that nobody in the Republican party questions the president). The idea that he should be censured for being a little over zealous in the defense of our country, however, is strictly Democratic.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 12:10 AM
Comment #135768

Jack

I think that the point of the censure by Feingold is that an investigation should take place. That is really what he has said that he wants, if you read all of his comments on the matter. In order to censure, that investigation would take place, under the authority of congress. At least, that’s how I’m understanding it.
Not a bad point. At least it’s not putting the cart before the horse. It’s a democrat finally standing up and challenging the republican controlled congress to do something about what is perceived as a executive branch exceeding their authority.
The action has actually garnered some support from the democratic base who is tired of the democrats in washington doing nothing more than complaining.

Posted by: Cole at March 25, 2006 1:02 AM
Comment #135770

Jack,
We need transparency. Without it, our discussions become untethered.

What program are we talking about?

(For the sake of discussion, let’s assume it involves a warrantless electronic search of Americans who may- or may not- be talking with terrorists).

And what happens in those secret courts? We know a little about FISA. Are there other secret courts?

I trust my congressional representatives enough to grant them access to most classified information. The consequences of withholding information from them is a bigger problem than the consequences of leaks.

There’s a choice that has to be made.

Without transparency, we’re no longer citizens participating in government. We’re subjects, ruled by a hopefully benevolent leadership. Lacking information, we cannot even debate the issue- we’re untethered.

Did eavesdropping result in the capture of terrorists, or the breaking up of a plot? I haven’t seen anything to indicate that happened, at least not in the US. I’m a practical person. Perhaps you can convince me the constitution is too quaint for these trying times. Perhaps you can convince me we’re in a War on Terror of such magnitude, that we must forego constitutional rights.

Bush lied to the public repeatedly about this issue. Lying to the public is not impeachable. Lying to the citizenry might be despicable, or might even necessary for our own good, but I don’t think lying to the public requires censure.

The 4th amendment is clear. Intentionally, knowingly breaking it with a warrantless eavesdropping program of American citizens cannot be condoned. Censure might be appropriate.

The president is wrong. The program should stop.

Rhinehold,
I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re projecting something into my brief comment which just isn’t there. As someone else noted, a lot of people from various sides of the spectrum share my point of view. I’d be surprised if you and I disagreed.


Posted by: phx8 at March 25, 2006 1:09 AM
Comment #135772

Isn’t it ironic that the wrong wing constantly screams that we must STRICTLY enforce the Constitution. Until, of course, it gets in their way.

Let’s be clear - the wrong wing LIKES activist judges. They WANT activist judges. They just wanna make sure that the activist judges that get appointed are THEIR activist judges. What a bunch of whining hypocrites.

Posted by: ElliottBay at March 25, 2006 1:29 AM
Comment #135775

Jack
“The idea that he should be censured for being a little over zealous in the defense of our country, however, is strictly Democratic.”

I think we’re almost in agreement. If I could modify your statement to reflect how I feel. I would say: The idea that he should be censured for being a little over zealous in the defense of our country, however, is strictly democratic.

All I did was change your “D” in democratic to “d”.

Your use of the term “over zealous” tells me that we agree that he has exceeded his authority. Under the circumstances an investigation is appropriate and not overly partisan.

Posted by: RMD at March 25, 2006 1:56 AM
Comment #135776

RMD

As Cicero (and Goldwater) said, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

The President has the duty to protect the U.S. There was the criticism that we did not connect the dots before 9/11. We had all the data, but we didn’t put it together. This helps connect the dots.

Before 9/11 we couldn’t connect the dots easily, since our laws at the time prohibited the sharing of information. We don’t want to let such happen again. If Bush pushed it a little beyond procedure, perhaps we should adjust procedure. But he was doing the right thing for the right reason.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 2:01 AM
Comment #135778

Jack,
“A man’s got to know his limitations” because extremism in any cause is a vice.

Let’s imagine you are the president, and you say, Phx8, pacify Iraq. Go to any extreme necessary to bring peace and liberty to Iraqis.

Well, Shia government Death Squads could elimate a couple dozen young Sunni males every night. Pick up that pace, give Phx8 a year, and Iraq will be peaceful, pacified, and populated by several tens of thousands of young Sunni males less than it used to be. This will work. I assure you. Just watch, it’s happening before your eyes.

But it is an extreme solution, and for for all its bloody practicality, it is morally objectionable. Extremism in pursuit of liberty is a vice; in this case, it is a vice when it takes the form of Death Squads and mass murder.

The eavesdropping/FISA controversy is not as desperate as the situation in Iraq. After the partisan rhetoric, I suspect you and I basically agree. To put this very very charitably, the Bush administration’s policies may be well intended, but what are the consequences & implications? What will future presidents do with today’s precedents? Today, now, Bush is wrong, and the program needs to be stopped. If not, let’s amend the consitution to recognize the new reality.

Sheesh. “The new reality.” I shouldn’t write thinks like that, it’s bound to end up in Mehlman’s hands.

Posted by: phx8 at March 25, 2006 2:45 AM
Comment #135780

Jack
I continue to be amazed at Bush apologist. “Failed to connect the dots”? How about failed to read the report? Face it. Your boy was asleep at the switch and his controllers were too busy divvying up the spoils to pay attention.Violating the law and spitting on the bill of rights will not make us safer. A competant commander in chief would.

Posted by: BillS at March 25, 2006 3:10 AM
Comment #135781

The idea that Feingold’s call for censure in it’s current form relates to a court of law is absurd. The concept of censure, and for that fact, impeachment, is by design a political, not legal, avenue of reprimanding the president.

Regardless of your opinion of Bush’s programs, this has to be recognized. Just a statement of fact.

And anyone that posits the idea that this in no way connected to Clinton’s impeachment is an idiot. Impeachment is a Political device.

When I started looking at this blog I hoped it would be a reasonable discussion, that because it was on Yahoo, and therefore so many people had access to it, that the people posting would at least TRY to present thoughtful discussion. But its just finger-pointing and yelling like everywhere else.

Yes, I’m far to the left (esp. by today’s standards) and I doubt this diatribe will be posted. But damn, you guys all seem smart, so that makes it even more frustrating to see you just doing donuts in the parking lot.

Posted by: shane at March 25, 2006 3:51 AM
Comment #135796

Rhinehold-
The president is to faithfully execute the law. If he finds the law to be unconstitutional, he can veto or threaten a veto over the matter. The signing statement is not only weaselly, but most likely, it’s unconstitutional itself. It’s the president deciding the interpretation of the law of the land, despite the fact that this is constitutionally the power of the judiciary. They are the ones, with their knowledge and expertise, who are supposed to interpret the law, and if necessary apply judicial review to render a law null and void.

I don’t think you fully appreciate what it means to have a president making his own law, and interpreting it himself. He’s taking the power of the other branches, and giving it to himself. This may not be a dictatorship yet, but it’s taken steps on the road to that.

Jack-
Procedure and oversight are like the lanes on a freeway. Much as the righteous driver would like to give themself credit for staying out of other drivers way, properly drawn lanes are key to making that a simple affair, rather than an anxiety-ridden calculation at 65 MPH.

Bush has erased the lanes. He doesn’t think he needs to follow one part of the constitution, one part of the law, or any of the other little rules about things, because this is a time of war and he is CINC. But that attitude resembles nothing so much as the Roman concept of the dictator, an individual given absolute powers in an emergency to defend the Republic.

That ultimately lead to empire. Bit by bit, this president has sought more power than any of his predecessors ever wielded. And you folks justify this all in the name of Bush’s position as CINC. But that is a constitutional power that exists in parallel to constitutional amendments and articles that lay out what the president cannot do. The president is only empowered to go further in his executive powers during a time of invasion or insurrection. Otherwise he remains obligated to preserve civil liberties, and execute the law.

The law states that all electronic surveillance involving Americans must be done with a warrant, through the procedures of a FISA court. The President, being executive, is responsible for the faithful execution of the law. How unclear is the Democrat position? Not very. Not very at all.

It is only the Republican thinking, clouded by fear, that has become unclear, the reasoning unsound. Worse, despite undeniable evidence the Republicans are unwilling to admit their errors. Together, fear, thirst for power, and the inability to admit errors makes for dangerous times for our Democracy, times in which people might be willing to trade their freedom for their security, led by a man whose actions could ensure that they lose that as well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 25, 2006 8:07 AM
Comment #135800

Jack,
Are you trying to change the subject? As I have said before, the issue is not if there will be domestic surveillance to help insure our safety, but what safeguards will be in place to oversee it. The president is not alone in his desire to protect America from the bad guys and to suggest otherwise is wrong. Domestic surveillance is a policy just waiting to be abused. Would you be willing to give that power and authority to president Hillary Clinton? I would not. It has been abused before, that’s why there is a FISA.

We can all agree with you on this: “If Bush pushed it a little beyond procedure, perhaps we should adjust procedure.” All we are saying is that he should not simply ignore the procedure. By all means, if the procedure needs to be changed, change it. He is not above the law.

Posted by: RMD at March 25, 2006 9:56 AM
Comment #135807

Phx8

You cant have transparency when you are trying to catch the bad guys with stealth. It is like playing poker by showing all your cards.

Democrats who have been briefed on the program do not have any criticism of WHAT was done. Feingold is not among those briefed. Probably a good thing.

I am not enthusiastic about protecting Al Qaeda’s communications network or telling terrorists exactly how we are trying to figure out when they will hit next.

We have to protect liberty from our own politicians. But we also have to protect it from outside aggressors. It is a delicate balance. Had we fought previous wars as some advocate this one, we would have published news of the Manhattan Project in the NYT.

To enjoy liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you have to have life.

RMD

The subject is both what was done and what procedure was followed. If we have a case where we agree that WHAT the president did was good, but the procedure was bad, it is different than if we think he did the wrong thing. It is also possible to follow procedure and do the wrong thing.

If he did the right thing with the wrong procedure, we have to determine whether or not to change the procedure.

In any case censure is a silly idea. The partisan in me likes the idea that Dems are being so dumb again (man, can we spin this one), but I don’t think it is a good idea for our country.

Posted by: Jack at March 25, 2006 10:22 AM
Comment #135808

Bush has, at every turn, stretched the Constitution as far as possible.

- The faith-based initiative has awarded over a billion dollars of our tax money to religious organizations.
- Sending annoying web messages is now illegal.
- Sheehan was arrested for wearing an anti-war tshirt.
- Executive Order 13303: No law suits may be filed against US corporations dealing in Iraqi petroleum.
- Guantanamo Bay, he holds 400 people without trial for more than 4 years.
- The Patriot Act and wire-tapping, he no longer needs warrants to spy on Americans.
(These are only the ones I know about…)

Now, you may disagree on the legality of any of these points… but taken altogether, they indicate a trend that he believes himself above the law, and is weakening the Constitution. That’s the real issue, and I believe it’s worth an investigation.

Squeaky

Posted by: Squeaky at March 25, 2006 10:32 AM
Comment #135810

Jack,
Once again I think we agree way more than we disagree. As an end centure is a silly idea, but as a means to force the majority to at least investigate the president’s actions it is not so silly. In practical terms centure accomplishes nothing, but the Republican majority’s refusal to ivestigate is at least as partisan as some Democrats call for centure. To deny that fact is itself partisan. As the minority party in both houses the Dems have to act from a pretty limited playbook (which I know is another whole discussion.)

Posted by: RMD at March 25, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #135823

RMD
“This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a criminal one.”

True, but in the scheme of things this more or less amounts to partisan politics (the censuring that is). The reason being is that it does nothing substitive to improve the country; rather, it is a very futile attempt at gaining political ground by the Democrats.

In other words, Bush may have done illegal actions, but the Democrats are pushing the partisan side of this issue by trying to censure him.

Posted by: Zeek at March 25, 2006 11:52 AM
Comment #135829

Jack-
People in this country are fine with having secrets kept from them, when our national security is on the line. I think any rational person would understand secrecy for the sake of protecting this country. The Valerie Wilson case alone should demonstrate Democrat support for such secrecy.

But the secrecy concerning Wilson’s identity is managed ultimately by figures who report to congress, and is mandated by laws which congress passed. Right now, our judicial branch is interpreting the law and investigating to see whether the breach of that trust occured in such a way as to merit criminal punishment.

With FISA, the situation is similar. The court is secret. It’s mandated by congress, and if the executive branch goes through the process, they have their secret wiretaps, and the terrorists are none the wiser. And many like me have absolutely no problem with that.

Bush did not ask congress to make the new restrictions non-binding, nor did he seek through the courts to get a decision on the constitutionality of the law. Those were two options Bush could have taken. Instead, it seems, he takes to himself the power to determine what is law, and how the law is to be interpreted, power that rightfully belongs to the courts. His power, as executive is either to veto such laws, or to enforce them how he sees fit. Other presidents have done that.

Instead, he writes this signing statement interpreting the constitutionality of the law, then says that he won’t enforce key provisions. At the very least, if he didn’t like it, he could have vetoed it, or threatened to veto any law that presented those restrictions. That’s how the system is supposed to work. The only decision the president should have on what is law and what isn’t is a veto. That’s what the constitution gives him. That’s what he should be using. You will find not one iota of constitutional law saying that what he seeks to do in his signing statements has any binding authority.

He made a solemn oath when he took office to faithfull execute the laws of this land. Now he’s saying he’s above those laws, their arbiter, and that he can break whatever law is necessary to defend this country. Breaking the oath of office, I think, deserves censure at the very least, but the flouting of the rule of law deserves the concern of your own party.

You folks have let fear blind you to the human failings of your president, and to history as well. History has demonstrated on multiple occasions that when one person can determine who or what is a threat to their nation without consulting with others, or being checked by other powers in the land, then the line between who threatens the nation, and who threatens them becomes blurred if not erased.

The Founding Fathers made this country a Democracy believing that this country could survive and prosper without the need for an all powerful leader to give the masses their security. They believed that the people and their representatives in the courts and the legislature would do that out of their own self-interests, and for over two centuries, America has done so.

But within the last half century, Republicans and conservatives have lost faith in that. They have come to believe more and more that Those outside the party and the ideology cannot be trusted with this nation’s security. But this being a Democracy, that is not something one says out loud because security is entrusted to the people and their duly elected representatives, and rational self-interest, not ideology is supposed to be the incentive to keep America safe.

Underneath the surface, and there is a temptation among a significant number of those on the Right towards the police state, where the citizens and their representatives are considered too weak, too politically suspect to be entrusted with the defense and governance of the nation. With the shock and fear of 9/11, the unspeakable wish has become more openly entertained. We’ve gone into survival mode, and as we all know that means making compromises, right? Of course, what is it that we compromise? Do we compromise the comfort that comes with low taxes, or the freedoms many of us take for granted, and rarely have to actually exercise?

The reason dictators and tyrannies like that often arise is the same reason virtually nobody saves for a rainy day. We are biased towards the here and the now, and figure the terrorists will get to us much quicker than the consequences of giving up freedom. We let our immediate fear blind us to the fact that if we let the government get out of our control, then the consequences will be pervasive, and difficult to combat short of violent revolution.

People feel threatened by this government. Ironically, it may be fortunate that the government that tries these power-grabs is so obviously venal, corrupt, and inept to start out with. We can understand now, not later, after the change is made, why one would and should regret putting so much power in one person or party’s hands. We don’t have to wait for the Good King to die and the Wicked one to take the throne.

I hope, when and if the Democrats become the majority, and take the White House that they don’t follow in the footsteps of the Republicans, and that if they do, that they will deservedly lose the power they gain. Power in this country is to be the tamed pet of the popular will, not the wild beast in the hands of a few whose interests we would be force to anticipate to keep our life, liberty and property intact. We have enought enemies out there, without letting our own government become a rival to its people for the authority to grant power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 25, 2006 12:15 PM
Comment #135834

Zeek,
I think we agree. See my post directly above yours. It was sent at about the same time so perhaps you didn’t see it before you sent yours. To elaborate further, to call the Democrats partisan for seeking censure, while failing to acknowledge Republican partisanship in their refusal to even investigate is disingenuous. Both are clearly partisan. You, along with most others here, admit the president may have “done illegal actions” so what’s wrong with an investigation?

Posted by: RMD at March 25, 2006 12:47 PM
Comment #135837

Jack,
The problem isn’t that President Bush is wiretapping “supposive” terrorists and fellow Americans, but it is that the gov’t may wiretap anyone without any warrent or a court order, it’s all based on executive order.
Why couldn’t the President just allow the wiretapping done with FISA which allows wiretapping aslong as a warrent is gotten within 72 hours of the wiretapping.
Also how can we trust our great President; his administration is full of criminals, i.e. “Scooter” Libby and Carl Rove. Even his vice president is nuts! This is the same administration that mislead us into a war for wrong reasons and was late in responding to Hurrican Katrina.
“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”-Ben Franklin

Posted by: greenstuff at March 25, 2006 12:55 PM
Comment #135838

If any of you think this is not a major issue…..tune into your cable station (MSNBC just showed it) and see the demonstration taking place in Los Angeles right now. Tens of thousands……in response to the proposals being presented to strengthen and enforce immigration laws…

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at March 25, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #135839

Ooops….sorry….big mistake. My last post was supposed to be somewhere else..

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at March 25, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #135846

Everyone keeps harping on the “war on terror”.
If you all are so worried about the war on terror, why don’t you all get on your congressmen and senators to get us out of Iraq so we can actually DO something about terrorism.
I hope we’re not all thinking the war in Iraq is keeping this country safe!
Osama and his gang are somewhere concocting a strategy to attack us once again, and in the meantime this administration is playing right into their hands by using up all our resources and finances to democratize a country where they have no interest in actual democracy.
I don’t, for a second, believe Bush’s addendum to the patriot act is anything less than a slap in the face of the legislature and the constitution.
However, as has been mentioned more than once in this thread, unless our elected representatives stand up and DEMAND an investigation of this president’s secretive actions and probable lies, nothing is going to get done.
Both parties need to be voted out.

Posted by: jack p at March 25, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #135849

I am aware this is a bit off topic but I found an interesting statistic and I though you might be interested…..http://www.pollingreport.com/CongJob.htm
CONGRESS – Job Rating
AP-Ipsos 31% approival rate 66% disapproval
CBS 32% 54%
NBC 33% 53%
FOX 29% 55%
Gallup 27% 65%

Suprisingly, IN Congress repugNUTs are the majority and FOX gives the repugNUTs a very low approval rating.
Personally I don’t think MOST of them have the American Citizens interests as priority. Can ONLY speak for myself though!

Posted by: qatwoman at March 25, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #135853

The only reason for not using the FISA court is because the President is spying on people the court would not allow. There is no other logical reason. This means he’s spying on everyday Americans who they think violate their conservative family values or are a part of their enemies list.

Posted by: Duke at March 25, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #135859

phx8

You trust congress with access to classified information? What if that information could be used against a sitting president of the opposing party, especially in an election year? One thing I learned from my 20 years in the military is that the more people you entrust with a secret, the more likely it is to be compromised. Ever hear of “need to know”? The senate and the house intelligence committees as well as the leaders of both parties receive the same intelligence briefings as the president. That is as it should be. But to say that every member of Congress is entitled to that same level of intelligence and to expect all of them to keep it secret is naive to the nth degree.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 25, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #135864

Bill M,
Perhaps I am naive. Once upon a time, my security clearance was for Top Secret. Many people in the military had this same clearance. The subject matter was classified for good reason, and although thousands must have shared this same information and clearance, it was not compromised. I trusted others because revealing this material simply would have been unthinkable. Yes, when it comes to national security, I trust congressman with classified information. Same goes for most Americans.

Who is it you want to protect?

The problem comes when material is classified because of its potential political impact. National security and political advantage, presidency and president, man and office, these become confused.

And if you’re happy with the current president, do you want to trust future presidents with the same power? Surely you can see the Pandora’s Box of possible abuses these openings provide.

Posted by: phx8 at March 25, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #135868

You trust congress with access to classified information?

It’s funny, that until this administration, Congress has had no problems handling classified info. And, oh yeah, until this administration, no sitting Vice-President was ever caught using it to punish their political enemies.

Paul, the Right will claim a hollow political victory over Feingold’s censure - but they’ve mistaken the battle for the war. They thought they’d dispatched John Murtha’s redeployment plan with a barrage of ‘cut and run’ rhetoric. Yet now, Bush’s Strategy For Victory In Iraq has scant support in the country, while Murtha gets nothing but encouragement from the rank and file military to continue speaking out.

Conservatives like Bill Kristol know that the Right can ably spin the political debate. But, the truth weathers better than RNC Talking Points.

Posted by: Bert M. Caradine at March 25, 2006 4:04 PM
Comment #135874

It is evident from the tone and the language used in these posts that I am probably not as well educated or as informed about the issues as you folks are. I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in a very complex world. Most of the people I associate with are in similar circumstances.

Political issues can be difficult to comprehend because politicians on both sides of the aisle never say what they mean and seldom mean what they say.

But I stick by my claim that congress can’t be trusted with classified documents as a matter of practice.

And when they do divulge classified information, whatever the reason, they should be ejected from the congress and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Which makes mewonder why Patrick Leahy is still in the senate and not behind bars.

I too once held a Top Secret clearance while assigned to Southern Command headquarters in Europe. I assure you, thousands of people did not have access to the same classified documents I handled on a daily basis and those few who did had to have a valid need to know.

Power and money can be powerful addictions and, like all addicts, those afflicted will do and say anything to feed their addiction. Of course, I’m sure the elected representatives from your state are different. But you’ll excuse me if I maintain a healthy distrust of yours and mine.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 25, 2006 6:45 PM
Comment #135880

Bill M.-
It’s not healthy to have our leaders make decisions without the facts. Not only were most members of congress left out of the loop, but almost all the members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees. Yet these are the people we expect to make the right decisions about military matters, both authorizing force and paying for operations. It just doesn’t work, and it is part of the reason there wasn’t enough of a debate on the war.

Why is it that you can the flaws you described in Congress, but not see them in the president? Bush concealed things from most congress members about the nature of the reports coming in. uncertainty and measured claims became certainty and unqualified statements about threats. If we had gotten the real story, we might not have consented to the war. That may be the very reason Bush kept Congress in the dark.

It takes more than one person or one ideology to answer the complex challenges of this world, because we are all wrong to some extent, and the more we listen to others, the more we can insure that one person’s wrongness isn’t forced to be the nation’s error as well.

Give Congress the information it needs, or expect the worst to come true.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 25, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #135892

RMD,

There’s nothing wrong with an investigation. However, I do not believe it will amount to much. If anything, it will be setting a precedent (which is a good thing); yet, the cost for the Democrats could just be the 2006 elections. They need to pull their act together and they cannot hope to accomplish that if they are running around issues like this.

Note: I ignored Republicans in this because the chances of them censuring Bush anytime this year are slim to none.

Posted by: Zeek at March 25, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #135930

Remember when the GOP impeached Clinton? They all said that he had lied and broken the law (although any prosecutor would tell you that any perjury case against Clinton would have been impossible). Now they are all incredibly silent when Bush misleads (lies) us into war and now intentionally breaks the law (domestic spying).

Posted by: mike sommerkamp at March 26, 2006 9:23 AM
Comment #135934
Democrats who have been briefed on the program do not have any criticism of WHAT was done.

How would you know Jack? I thought it was a secret. I mean, really, would anyone in the know risk being called a traitor to criticize King George? It’s easier to let friends do the talking for you.

Posted by: Loren at March 26, 2006 9:57 AM
Comment #135951

>>Power and money can be powerful addictions and, like all addicts, those afflicted will do and say anything to feed their addiction. Of course, I’m sure the elected representatives from your state are different. But you’ll excuse me if I maintain a healthy distrust of yours and mine.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 25, 2006 06:45 PM

Bill M,

Couldn’t the same thing be true of the President
? Isn’t the same thing
true of the President? The same thing is
true of the President. Checks and Balances was put in place for a reason. Let’s put it to work…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 26, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #135985

Democrats are pushing the partisan side of this issue

I think we all should applaud our educational system, since people who were not yet born during the Clinton administration can write Rpblcn spin so well.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 26, 2006 4:09 PM
Comment #136044

Jack,
“Criticism of the president may be bipartisan (although this goes against the other Dem talking point that nobody in the Republican party questions the president). The idea that he should be censured for being a little over zealous in the defense of our country, however, is strictly Democratic.”

Am I wrong? Were not the entire senate hearings on Supreme Court nominees the opportunity to insure that the person would strictly interpret the Constitution? A constructionalist view of the Constitution? Does that philosophy allow for a little overzealousness?

I would agree that up till Delay was removed from his position and Rove was distracted there were no real Republican questioning of the President. It was only after the cracks began to appear in the enforcement arm of the Republican Party were we Americans given a view of the differences.

We have been hearing for years that President Bush is doing an excellent job. The Republican Party, unlike the Democrats, are unified in their positions. No dissention here. Nope. None. Anyone saying that there is disagreement is wrong.

So, if the shift of the Republican party and conservatives to distance themselves from him is taking some of us a bit of time to absorb… I hope you can be patient. It requires a major shift in perspective.

It also calls into question how much Americans can trust the integrety of the Republicans and Conservatives. We hear for years that President Bush has the solid support of all the Republicans… then we are now hearing some Republicans and Conservatives trying to position themselves as if they were the first to say that he doesn’t represent their true beliefs.

Which is it? He always has? Or he didn’t? That is what has us confused… well, me at least. I have always believed that getting Liberals or Democrats to agree is like herding cats. However, it allows our thinking to be a bit more indepth, more varied, consider other options, listen to and evaluate other’s as well as our beliefs. This is helpful within the party and would be wonderful between parties, but we can’t get past the name calling and the finger pointing… or the posturing for the voters that we are more (fill in the blank) then our opponent.

Where the Democrats have been frustrated, again I believe, was in the lack of interest in investigating the possibility with anything remotely looking serious.

Especially if it can be qualified as a “little overzealous” (what we might call, fast and loose) with the constitution.

As has been pointed out… this is a Republican congress and they get to call the shots. Without the power available to the majority… what does the minority do? Fillibuster? Take it to the public? “Grandstand” and do “Merely Symbolic” getures as has been suggested of the censure proposal?

I believe that the allegations and the questions concerning the legality of the circumventing the FISA law are sufficient that they should have been investigated immediately.

We have seen way too often where important studies , hearings and reports have been delayed… interestingly, until just past election dates… but that has always just been a coincidence.

Sometimes it seems as if most of American has Attention Deficit Disorder. Their attention span and their memory is so short. By the time the news does come out, just as planned, no one cares much anymore.

Remember everyone. Tomorrow will not look like today. Parties rise and fall in the majority position… what you wish to argue for this President will be used as justification for the next, and the next and the next.

As to the example of the congress passing an unconstitutional law such as changing the age or native born requirements. Absolutely. Just as the congress cannot authorize the breaking of the law, or violating the constitution, as some argued they did to allow the President to bypass the warrant requirements of FISA. Congress does not have that authority.

One of the devices used by the courts is the fictional “reasonable person.” A lawyer here can probably explain it better, or disagree completely and tell me I am all wrong…. but, the court looks at the actions and what a person should have done or known based upon this standard of a “reasonable person.”

I believe any reasonable person first given knowledge of the FISA law and then the needs of the administration to listen into calls of American citizens would say, “Sure, just make sure to get the warrant within 72 hours. If that doesn’t work, then we need to contact congress to give us the tools and laws that we need.”

3 years of leaving this up to the interpretation of only the administration’s lawyers is not a good thing… not good faith and I believe, not what a “reasonable person” would do.

I would like to see people take a long view… beyond today… beyond this or any exact issue.

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 27, 2006 8:14 AM
Comment #136064

>>the congress cannot authorize the breaking of the law, or violating the constitution, as some argued they did to allow the President to bypass the warrant requirements of FISA. Congress does not have that authority.

Darren,

What the Congress CAN do is authorize the President to break the laws in order to delay any investigation until Cheney/Bush are out of office. If a Republican replaces him a pardon solves the problem of the Supreme Court hearing the case, and if a Democrat becomes President, the Supreme Court has now been packed to the point that findings are far more likely to be favorable to him.

It’s a lose-lose situation for Democrats and the nation. This man will never answer for his crimes.

That’s my pessamistic, hysterical, left leaning

Posted by: Marysdude at March 27, 2006 11:13 AM
Comment #136082

Jack,

I’ve seen you do this over and over and over and it’s driving me up the wall. Especially since it is a VERY common tactic used by this new breed of conservatives we can either call “Bushies” or Neo-cons, as you prefer.

The tactic is to first state, or rather mis-state the arguments of your opposition and then argue against the argument you just created. It’s called building a straw man argument and it is a ploy used to ‘defend’ otherwise indefensible positions.

Paul Siegel put together a very fine argument using facts and real evidence. You are the first response and you built a straw man with this:

“The Dem position is a very fine distinction. Essentially they are saying that they approve of what the president did and they don’t want him to stop doing it. Beyond that, they say, he could easily get approval for what he did even ex-post-facto.

What they object to is the procedure he used, or didn’t use.”

You’re wrong, Jack. It’s significantly MORE than procedure that is the issue. Do not put wotds in the mouths of others you clearly aren’t even trying to understand.

When Bush violated both American and International law by going into Iraq unilaterally after article 1441, he made those rabid fanatical anti-American elements in the Islamic world seem more legitimate to other muslims who are now more likely to be recruited to oppose us or our allies. That was more than procedure, it has made us LESS safe as Americans.

When Bush ignores and undermines our laws and our constituion, he destroys the very foundations our country is founded on. That is MUCH more than just procedure, Jack. That is the very essence of America he is rotting out from under us.

When Bush pushes for, and gets, laws which remove legal protections for Americans, such as he did with his energy bill that would have halped ENRON become an even greater manipulative force on energy prices and availability all over had ENRON survived as a company, he HURTS our country.

When Republicans who don’t ‘get it’ with respect to law, push for tort reform and limitaions on class actions, they remove our country’s ability to regulate ourselves by court and jury and replace it instead with the forlorn hope perhaps the GOVERNMENT will. This is completely contrary to everything the conservatives USED to stand for before they lost their minds and became blind.

Ultimately, Bush and ‘bushies’ are hurting our country far worse than the terrorists ever did. We came together as a nation after 9/11. I’m proud of that beyond any words with which I might express it here. Surviving this administration with the integrity of our laws and the respect of ourselves and the world will be a much tougher job.

If you wish to know why it is that I have grown to the left with time, it is because of the very point Paul is making here. This new breed of republicans don’t even UNDERSTAND American law, much less respect it. Neo-Con=Anarchism. Bush=Anarchist. This may sound a bit argumentative, but over and over and over I see this being played out. The very core of all that is great about America is being rotted out by those call themselves “conservative.”

Ironic, isn’t it?

RGF

Posted by: RGF at March 27, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #136088

Damn!

RGF…Darren…Adrienne…JayJay…Paul…Stephen…pxh8, and many others I can’t thnk of right now…if I wasn’t such a nosy, pushy dude, I’d drop out and leave ya’ll all the fun. There are truely some good posters on the left. Now, how do we exploit that talent and put it to use come November and 2008? You guys are thinkers, and that’s a good thing, but maybe we ought to think of turning you into doers as well?

I know the pen is mightier than the sword, but heck swords are pretty good for some things, i.e., cutting through the clutter put up by these so-called CONSERVATIVE Republicans (most would not recognize conservatism if it bit them on the nose).

Posted by: Marysdude at March 27, 2006 12:46 PM
Comment #136094

Marysdude,

Thanks. I’m with you. I think we would be served well by finding a way to activate the 18-25 year olds. They see all of this manipulation and corruption and no longer believe their vote is worth casting. If we can gently motivate and inform, we will remove these foolish self-destructive neo-cons. It’s that simple.

RGF

Posted by: RGf at March 27, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #136184

The manipulation and corruption are precisely the reasons they should vote. The politicians are the animals, and the voters the natural selection that determines which ones survive. If we get all cynical and apathetic, and cease to participate, then naturally our politicians will cease to worry about our interests, and will take care of theirs, knowing that we’ll just sit things out.

The only vote that counts is one that is cast, and if you pick the wrong guy this time, you can make him pay the next time for disappointing you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2006 7:32 PM
Comment #136304

Marysdude,
Thanks for the compliment. Nah, hang around and continue… I enjoy your perspective and it is great to read them.

Zeek,
What is needed is to try to move politics from the bumper sticker slogans and the cliches to real discussion.

Sadly, this is hard to do.
It isn’t about:

Dems soft on terrorists, we supported the war on Afganistan. There was a clear and present danger and an undeniable connection between them and those that attacked us. We did not believe the evidence was sufficient to justify the war. Those Dems that did were basing their decision on the word of the President and the evidence presented to them by him.

STOP FOR A MOMENT AND THINK
300 million versus 10 or 20 thousand
300 million people in America. It takes days to drive from one boarder to the other! We have the best law enforcement and military in the world. Our capabilities are awe inspiring and at times, mind numbing. Yet, there are those that want to cower and give away our rights as Americans… all in the name of not upsetting the terrorists.

If that is your belief, then I submit, they have already won. They have used their terror to cause you to change, to alter who you are based on fear of them.

It brings to mind a 320 pound football player hiding in terror from a cocker spaniel. Yes, the little sucker has teeth… but don’t make him bigger than he is.

Remember immediately after the attack of 9/11? Americans were urged to go out and continue their life. We were told, rightly, that to alter our behavior because of the attack was to give the terrorists power over us. Go shop, go to ball games. Everyone watched the stock market when it next opened to see the impact of the attack on American investors confidence.

My how that changed when it was decided that shopping and investing was okay… but exercising our right to speech by the public and by our representatives in Congress was seen as giving aid to the enemy. Terrorists and contemplation of what we do in regard to how they will react became commonplace and acceptable.

Dems don’t want us to listen to terrorists, we want to prevent another Republican President from using the office of the President to create a personal means of political power.

Any American talking to a known or suspected terrorist should be listened to. Either get the warrant and record, record and get the warrant within 72 hours or go to congress for the tools needed.

It cannot be simpler. Focus focus focus… follow the bouncing ball… GET A WARRANT OR GET NEW LAWS.

DO NOT BLAME “LIBERAL” JUDGES if they give a strict constructionist view of the law and throw out any tainted evidence. It is the responsibility of law enforcement (under the administration) to conduct investigations within the limits of the law and the constitution.

We want the President to use the tools available to him or to request new ones in accordance with our laws. Most would have excused an imaginative interpretation of the FISA law for a limited time in the beginning due to the urgency of the situation. However, 3 years is too long to seek the tools required and continue to use “questionable” determinations as to the interpretations.

Dems cannot get together, we have seen the outcome of a party that is locked into conformance instead of a free exchange of ideas. We have seen the problems with self-referential thinking and reports from this administration, the Department of Defense and the Think Tanks used by the administration and their display of “groupthink” makes us wonder if “having it together” is such a good thing.

Dems are pro Illegals and want to give away our country, we agree that there needs to be something done. We do not, however, feel a need to demonize them, dehumanize them or create a blood lust while we work towards a problem.

Corruption is only a Republican issue because no one tries to corrupt the minority, is this evidenced by history? That when the Democrats were in power there was this corruption? Prove it. Congressman DeLay set the tone and the rules when he warned K Street that they had better deal exclusively with Republicans or be left out in the cold. How blatant was that?

Dems have no integrity The Republicans who wanted this war are the ones lacking integrity. Once the blood-lust was sated and the dying became that of American soldiers it was no longer “fun.” They awoke from their frenzied rush to war with an emotional hangover and now do not want to do the hard part. This war was optional for America, fixing the problems we created in Iraq aren’t. We are morally obligated, so let’s stop the rhetoric of labeling differing opinions as un-Patriotic, un-American or giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

There are some real issues that could be addressed… but they would require more than a sound bite so I don’t think that they will come up…

Happily, I don’t know if any Democrats or Liberals agree with anything I said… because, they are able to think for themselves.

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 28, 2006 9:07 AM
Comment #136794

I have a letter from Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator (D). He says he is supporting S. 2362, the Surveillance Activities Commission Act, instead of immediate censure hearings.

“The Commission would examine and report on any instances of surveillance conducted within the United States after September 11, 2001, and would investigate whether any illegal, improper, or unethical activities were engaged in by the government in conducting such surveillance.”

He says his actions will be based on those findings. The Dems are doing something I guess.

Squeaky

Posted by: Squeaky at March 30, 2006 5:35 AM
Comment #136958

>>There are some real issues that could be addressed… but they would require more than a sound bite so I don’t think that they will come up…

Happily, I don’t know if any Democrats or Liberals agree with anything I said… because, they are able to think for themselves.

Posted by: Darren7160 at March 28, 2006 09:07 AM

Darren,

Well maybe a few agree with SOME of what you say…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2006 6:39 PM
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