Our Golden Freedom

Americans are blessed. We have never faced a strong state in the Americas and have not been seriously challenged by a foreign power on our home turf since 1814. Our history does not provide world-class examples of oppression or disaster. Others know more about these things. We don’t study Polish history in school. Maybe we should. I know some of you are rolling you eyes. Please bear with me.

In the middle of the 17th Century, Poland was the largest European country, except Russia, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Seas. It was a prosperous multinational state and very liberal (in the original sense) for its time and place. More than 10% of the population was enfranchised. They called their country a Rzeczpospolita, which translates as republic with overtones of commonwealth. They elected their kings. In their parliament any member could veto any legislation. It was very fair. They called it the "liberum veto". Liberum veto allowed a one man filibuster. Everyone loved and nobody would compromise Poland's "golden freedom".

The Poles didn’t have wide oceans to protect them. Their neighbors, the Russians, Prussians and Austrians, were less enthusiastic about this whole freedom thing. They used Polish lack of unity. Specifically they took advantage of the liberum veto and Polish attachment to the golden freedom to divide Poles and ensure that Poland essentially unilaterally disarmed and took no effective steps to defend its national sovereignty. After a while, they got sick of just taking little slices and partitioned the whole county among themselves and Poland ceased to exist for 123 years. For more than a century, Poles worked for foreign masters. They fought each other in the service of foreign Kaisers and Tzars and many left the country. They tried insurrections with monotonous regularity with as much success as the Irish or the Kurds. Tributes to Polish heroism were usually sung posthumously.

I am simplifying way too much. ""God’s Playground” by Norman Davies is the best history of Poland available in English.

How is this like America? Polish history is the story of a shrinking country. Ours is one of expansion. Poland had no natural frontiers. We have the Atlantic and Pacific.

Modern communications and travel has devalued oceans as defense. Our enemies have shown that they can reach out and touch us. We still believe (despite evidence and protestations to the contrary) that we are invincible. We think we can fight and win a war on terrorism as though it was an episode of "Law and Order." Harry Reid boasted that "We killed the Patriot Act." Many people are thanking him and saying that he preserved our golden freedom. I wonder if future generations will thank him as profusely.

Posted by Jack at December 18, 2005 5:12 PM
Comment #103939

Jack, does it really matter that much if the enemy which seeks to reduce, minimize, or even eliminate except in lip service, American liberties and freedoms set out in the Constitution, is our own government’s office holders or an external one like al-Queda?

The only parallel I see with Poland is a lack of defense by each nation’s people of their freedoms once established in law and upheld by officials. Our own government officials engage in frequent violations of the spirit, and in too many violations of the actual letter of our laws as originally set out to insure the preservation of this great nation and its doctrines of equality in the eyes of the law, justice before the law, and an ever constant vigilence by the people on those in power charged with protecting and defending those laws.

al-Queda can never take the American idea away from Americans. But, Americans can all too easily give the American idea away out of selfish gain and motive. The bigger threat to America’s future is not the enemies from without, but, her enemies from within who seek to distort and contort the laws toward inequality, injustice, and selfish gain and profit of power and money. Complicit with these enemies within, are the 10’s of millions of Americans who have no interest in standing vigil over their government and its office holders.

These are the greater enemy of the American ideal and the United States’ future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 18, 2005 6:22 PM
Comment #103940

So far Sen. Reid’s claim to fame, it appears, is to killing the Patrit Act. The senator needs to get a reality check. He is leading his political party, with the help of Dr. Dean, to the edge of extinction. So, what are they going to replace the present democratic-liberal-socialist party with? Maybe even some RINO’s will join them.
President Bush is taking the heat for the “secret spying” going on. Every president for a hundred years has somehow used his office for something that somebody wants to claim is hurting our freedoms. Well, by looking back not too much damage has been done. I am not freer today that when I was born. For those with a short term memory loss, President Clinton used the IRS to do what he wanted to do to those who opposed him.
We still need to look beyond Poland, Greek and Roman history to learn from them things to do and not to do.
Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: tomh at December 18, 2005 6:30 PM
Comment #103944


I expect some of the Polish nobles said the same thing about the Czar being less of a threat than his fellow Poles.

I love my freedom. But I don’t think watching terrorists compromises it. The Constitution was not meant to make a level playing field between the good guys and the bad guys.

Posted by: Jack at December 18, 2005 6:55 PM
Comment #103946

After seeing him on MTP, it seems to me that Sen Reid is only trying to insure that the Patriot Act protects the rights of ordinary American citizens, and that we keep a strong sense of checks and balances as guaranteed in the Constitution. IMO, the intent of the Patriot Act is good.

GW should not be interpreting law. That is the job of the courts. Tomh, you are making some broad statements about past presidencies w/o any support. And really, should we base what is right on what has been done in the past? If Clinton abused the IRS, why was he impeached for lying about BJs?

As for the demise of the Dems, you are a tad premature. I believe the shit is hitting the fan, and the GOP is now an easy scapegoat.

Posted by: Loren at December 18, 2005 7:06 PM
Comment #103948


I expect some of the Polish nobles said the same thing about the Czar being less of a threat than his fellow Poles.

I love my freedom. But I don’t think watching terrorists compromises it. The Constitution was not meant to make a level playing field between the good guys and the bad guys.

Sure it was. It’s just that our founders, unlike the current republican party, still understood that the bad guy could be the guy in office and that we would need to level the playing field between him and the common citizen (the good guys).

King George… funny how things come full circle, huh?

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 18, 2005 7:07 PM
Comment #103950

Why do we need the Patriot Act when GWB can consult his court jesters, I mean the Justice Department and have them consult the “constitution” and invent secret super powers for him to sign into law via “executive privilege” extended the president during times of war. Avoid the bad PR of spying on all enemies foreign, domestic and political when it can be accomplished in secret and without oversight. Surrender your liberty for a warm feeling of safety and all will be well. Remember “We’re from the government and we’re here to help”

Posted by: Not a chicken hawk at December 18, 2005 7:36 PM
Comment #103951


GEORGE Washington was an excellent spymaster. I don’t think he would have been concerned about watching the activities of people with close friends in the British government.

Franklin’s own son was imprisoned by the patriots and Ben didn’t even go to visit him.

Posted by: jack at December 18, 2005 7:37 PM
Comment #103954

Are we honestly comparing the nation with the world’s (and history’s!) most immense military with Poland? I very much doubt disarmament is around the corner for the U.S. And are we suggesting that we, with an almost royally powerful American president, live in a weak system of governance? Utterly Orwellian, this.

As for the Patriot Act, it’s far from dead. If Congress wants a three-month continuance of the current Act, they can easily do it. If they don’t do it, that’s only because the Bush Adminstration is more interested in making it a political football than in the legislation itself. After five years of this administration, this strikes me as exactly the kind of cynical action it’s most likely to take. We’ll soon see.

The Patriot Act is necessary but it has flaws. It won’t be killed but neither should it retain some sort of sacrosanct immortality, like some legislative vampire that we worship even as it grows fat on the blood of our ever more fearful and anemic democracy.

But I don’t think watching terrorists compromises it.

Jack, You’re just not paying attention. We now have a government that is labeling small groups of Quakers as national threats. If the government were only watching terrorists, I’d be the first one to defend this adminstration. And I do defend a strong monitoring sytem. But it needs to be done within the law, damn it! And you need, in my opinion, to take a more objective look at the situation. If it’s history you want, I suggest boning up on Article 48 of the Weimar Republic.

We shouldn’t be naive about the terrorists and the dangers we face, but neither should we be naive about how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 18, 2005 7:46 PM
Comment #103955
Americans are blessed. We have never faced a strong state in the Americas and have not been seriously challenged by a foreign power on our home turf since 1814.


This statement relies heavily on your definition of our “home turf”. Hawaii became a United States territory in 1900. The attack on Pearl Harbor happened on December 7, 1941. Hawaii became a state in 1959. Although not a state it was a territory and the challenge was from a foreign power, was serious and was aimed directly at the United States.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 18, 2005 7:48 PM
Comment #103957

What we need is a law that makes more sense than the PATRIOT Act. So many on the Red Column talk like it’s PATRIOT Act, or it’s nothing. That’s really not the case.

I’m all for making counterterrorism and counterespionage easier, but making it easier for our government to go behind our backs and tear up our constitution protections does not strike me as the best of options.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 18, 2005 7:57 PM
Comment #103958


You’re knowledge of Poland’s History may be great but your knowledge of America’s History is non-existent. The US Government has ALWAYS abused the power given to them. The Communist Witchhunts of the 1950’s is the perfect example of what you consider “safety”. Let us just hope your name does not match any known terrorists cause what happened to that German Guy will certainly happen to you.

Posted by: Aldous at December 18, 2005 8:01 PM
Comment #103962


You mean those innocent people like the Rosenbergs, Harry Gold, Klaus Fuchs and Alger Hiss?

And in these witch hunts, how many people were murdered or falsely imprisoned? It is small potatoes compared to even little dictatorships.

I know - America should be better than the others. And we are. So much so that we can forget how bad it can get.

Here’s a stat question. How many men died at the battle of the Marne? How many Americans have died in all our foreign wars comcined?

Jay Jay

Pearl Harbor was a serious attack, but the Japanese had no chance of actually taking over the U.S. We knew it and Yamamoto knew it. The Japanese misunderstood the U.S. (as did Osama). They thought only to intimidate us into giving them what they wanted in Asia.

Posted by: Jack at December 18, 2005 8:23 PM
Comment #103964
Pearl Harbor was a serious attack, but the Japanese had no chance of actually taking over the U.S.

And so you’re expecting that OBL will take over the U.S. with a terrorist attack? What exactly was the moral of the story, anyway?

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 18, 2005 8:30 PM
Comment #103968

One more question for you, Jack. Is there ANYTHING that the Bush Adminstration could do that you wouldn’t defend? And pots shots such as “leaving the U.S. unprotected” or “making deals with Democrats” won’t do. What I want to know if there’s any reach of power that goes too far for you. Exactly where is that line in your mind?

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 18, 2005 8:39 PM
Comment #103969

Anyone else feel that the Bush Administration has a way of making ‘Our Golden Freedom’ feel much more like ‘Our Golden Shower.’

Posted by: tony at December 18, 2005 8:50 PM
Comment #103975

President Bush’s speech:

“Don’t give in to despair, don’t give up on our freedom.”

“Our coalition confronted a regime that defied the UN”

That’s my president, darn it!! Yeaahhhh!!!!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 18, 2005 9:23 PM
Comment #103977

“Don’t give in to despair, don’t give up on our freedom.”

“Our coalition confronted a regime that defied the UN”

Wow. Deja Vu. Seriously? That’s all he could come up with.

Posted by: tony at December 18, 2005 9:30 PM
Comment #103979


Here are some more:

“We invite terrorists by ignoring terrorism”

“World has been better after capture of Saddam”

Posted by: rahdigly at December 18, 2005 9:37 PM
Comment #103980

and from the official White House Plan for Victory: “- There are three stages of victory — short, medium and long term”

Wheeew. Such amazing insight!?

Posted by: tony at December 18, 2005 9:38 PM
Comment #103982

“Iraq election was a landmark election”

“Our troops do not believe America has lost”

Poll: December elections will have a positive effect in Iraq:
61% Yes
22% No

Posted by: rahdigly at December 18, 2005 9:46 PM
Comment #103983

wow. that speach was impressive. it had 95% recycled contend, a few new buzz words (defeatist is my new favorite).

btw, i will never support a president who can’t speak from the heart, and who can’t even handle the speach written for him at a third grade reading level.

if he was a drunken uncle at the christmas party i’d probably have a few laughs with the guy, he seems like that type. however having a been around individuals like that you realize that while they are good people for the most part, with a couple of faulty ideas on the way of things—aka a human being; you don’t really want to put them in a high responsibility situations.

not that the presidency is that important (sarcasm).

Posted by: calliinitaseyeseeit at December 18, 2005 9:55 PM
Comment #103984

“btw, i will never support a president who can’t speak from the heart”

Oh, so you didn’t support Clinton, Carter, Ford, and LBJ?! Yeah, this president always speaks from the heart.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 18, 2005 10:02 PM
Comment #103989


I don’t expect Osama bin Laden to take over the U.S. I believe that too much emphasis our theoretical freedom could threaten it in reality. I believe (from what we know now) that the President acted correctly re wire taps post 9/11.

Re Defending Bush - not much could make me not defend him. When I don’t agree with the president, I just don’t write. I supported McCain in 2000 and will support him again in 2008. But now Bush is my man. As they say on the Colbert Report, he is the greatest current president. He is also better than those the Dems offered.

Besides, I don’t see much flexibility on the Blue side. I have defended Clinton (called him a great statesman) on the Red side. I have supported gay marriage on the Red side. I have sheltered liberals on the Red side. I have rarely seen anything corresponding on the blue side. Has any Blue man ever called the president anything non-pejorative

I agree with most of what Bush has been doing in terms of economics and foreign policy. That includes most of his policies. I don’t like the stem cells and related issues. I don’t like his ostensible policy towards gays. I think he could be more proactive in the environment. And I don’t like his delivery style.

You will notice that I don’t agree with what seems to be his policy in rebuilding New Orleans. I also would have vetoed the highway bill.

In Iraq I know we made mistakes, but that happens in war. I am with the President on Iraq and on securing the nation. If George and I are for it, who can stand against?

Posted by: Jack at December 18, 2005 10:44 PM
Comment #103990

Oh, so you didn’t support Clinton, Carter, Ford, and LBJ?! Yeah, this president always speaks from the heart.


That is not relevant to me. I am 27, and when clinton was in office, i was young and unaware. The other presidents i wasn’t alive for, so im not sure why that has any impact on my position with georgie.

i have been around enough intelligent people to be able to distinguish the general scope of one’s cognitive ability.

i have a hard time supporting any specific party right now. one after another republican is being investigated for some sleazy ack, and the democrats haven’t the political savvy or the legislative backing to really make any difference— you couple that with the fact that they are just as pathetic and you have a beurocratic system that is dysfunctional at best.

you can argue for one side or the other until you are blue in the face but you know what? your both wrong. it doesn’t matter to me which side is “less wrong”, wrong is wrong is wrong.

so vote all incumbants out! hey, try voting a green in, yeah, so what they may be crazy sometimes; but you have to be crazy to think that you can make a difference in this corporate mass consumption fossil-fuel driven society.

Posted by: callitasEYEseeit at December 18, 2005 10:49 PM
Comment #103992

1st battle of marne
Over two million troops fought in the First Battle of the Marne and more than 500,000 were killed or wounded.

2nd battle of marne
The Second Battle of the Marne marked the turning of the tide in World War I. It began with the last German offensive of the conflict and was quickly followed by the first allied offensive victory of 1918. The American Expeditionary Force with over 250,000 men fighting under overall French command played key roles both in the initial defense and the later advances. In the Second Battle of Marne with 30,000 killed and wounded, the United States started suffering casualties on the enormous scale usually associated with the battles of the Great War.

Posted by: Rylee at December 18, 2005 11:04 PM
Comment #103993

Good thing these clowns weren’t around for WWll. They’d still be negotiating away the east coast with Hitlers succesor.I’d a hated to hafta listen to ‘em piss and moan over why the war wasn’t going off like clockwork for the 1st 4 yrs.

Posted by: pige at December 18, 2005 11:05 PM
Comment #103994

The First Battle of the Marne was a World War I battle fought from September 5 to 10, 1914. It was a Franco-British victory against the German army under General von Moltke.

The battle of the Marne was a major turning point of World War I. By the end of August 1914, the whole allied army on the western front had been forced into a general retreat back towards Paris. Meanwhile the two main German armies continued through France. It seemed that Paris would be taken as both the French and the British fell back towards the Marne River.

Field Marshall Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, began to plan for a full British retreat to port cities on the English Channel for an immediate evacuation. The military governor of Paris, Joseph Simon Gallieni, wanted to organise the French and British armies to counter the weight of the German army’s advance. So, after consulting Lord Kitchener about the use of British forces, Gallieni secured the overall command of the BEF, thus stopping French’s planned withdrawal.

Gallieni’s plan was simple. All allied units would counter-attack the Germans along the Marne River, thus halting the German advance. As this was going on, allied reserves would be thrown in to restore the ranks and attack the German flanks. On September 5, in the mid afternoon, battle commenced when the French 6th army, led by General Michel-Joseph Maunoury, stumbled into the forward guard of the German 1st army.

The British would not fight in battle until September 9, following a critical mistake by the German commander on the extreme right wing, General Alexander von Kluck. On September 9th, as the French 6th army retreated back towards the Marne, von Kluck ordered his forces to pursue and destroy them. In doing this, he opened up a fifty kilometer (30 mile) gap between the German 1st and 2nd armies. Seeing a great oppotunity, all three infantry corps and the two cavalry divisions of the BEF and the French 5th army, filled this gap and attacked both German armies’ exposed flanks.

Helmuth von Moltke suffered a nervous breakdown upon hearing of the danger to his two armies. His subordinates took over and both 2nd and 1st armies were ordered to withdraw to the Aisne River in order to regroup.

The German retreat between September 9 and September 13 signified the abandonment of the Schlieffen Plan. In the aftermath of the battle, both sides dug in and four years of stalemate ensued.

Around six hundred Paris taxicabs, mainly Renault AG, were commandeered by the French authorities and used to transport six thousand French reserve infantry troops to the battle.

Posted by: rylee at December 18, 2005 11:09 PM
Comment #103995


gee can you say gray davis …
or perhaps mcgrievy former democratic governor of NJ…and you can now add Dick durbin senotor from illonois (dem)

Posted by: Rylee at December 18, 2005 11:13 PM
Comment #103996

Harry Reid boasted that “We killed the Patriot Act.” Many people are thanking him and saying that he preserved our golden freedom. I wonder if future generations will thank him as profusely.

If the government was really concerned about security, they would secure our near-wide-open borders. So, it’s hard to take these requests serious for wire-taps and other parts of the Patriot Act. Al-Qaeda is crossing our borders, and the federal government ignores it. So, the government doesn’t need any more powers to abuse. The government can’t even do what they should be doing with the powers they already have. The government can’t connect the dots even when they have ample information (which they don’t bother to share with each other (i.e. FBI, CIA, etc.)).

Besides, the government, without fail, has a history of abusing such things. Nixon abused the use of wire-taps for political purposes. Didn’t we learn from that?

It might not be such a bad idea to grant certain powers to government, if that government can be trusted.

If our government is so trust worthy, then why do they do this irresponsible crap ?

If our government is so responsible, then why do they continue to ignore all of this?

Because they can.
Power corrupts.
Government is FOR SALE.

So, it does not make any sense to give extra powers to an irresponsible and unaccountable government. They will mostly likely abuse it, like so many other things.

And, it will be interesting, if we ever find out, who, when, and why some people have been illegally wire-tapped? Was there any probable cause?

Regardless, government already has ample resources and plenty of money to do its job just fine, if it really wants to. The problem is, it doesn’t really want to do the job correctly. Not as long as it allows near-wide-open borders and coasts. We have 2.6 million active, guard, and reserve troops. We could station a measely 1% (26,000) troops along our 6500 miles of land boarders (that’s about an average of one troop every 1320 feet). We could place stations every 10 miles (650 stations). It would not cost that much, because it would use a lot of troops and resources we already have. These stations could utilize equipment they already have, such as night-vision, humvees, helicopters, radar, electronic surveillence, etc. It’s doable, so the excuses to not do it because it is too big of an undertaking is not true.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 18, 2005 11:19 PM
Comment #103998

for all the Liberal anti war anti Bush who claim weve had such disaterous results in iraq please consider this ,,,,my unit was involved in this action ,,,Airborne….

December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945

On 16 December 1944 the Germans started their ARDENNES OFFENSIVE. The 106th Infantry Division, in place on a salient jutting out into Germany were hit with full force. After three days of battle, two of the Regiments, the 422nd and the 423rd were surrounded. The 424th, south of the other two regiments, was able to withdraw and join with the 112th Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division. They formed a Regimental Combat Team and were successful in the oncoming days of January 1945 in helping counter the German attack driving the Germans back through the same area where the 106th had been in position in mid-December 1944. This German Offensive became known in the U.S. Forces journals as The Battle of the Bulge.


· The coldest, snowiest weather “in memory” in the Ardennes Forest on the German/Belgium border.

· Over a million men, 500,000 Germans, 600,000 Americans (more than fought at Gettysburg) and 55,000 British.

· 3 German armies, 10 corps, the equivalent of 29 divisions.

· 3 American armies, 6 corps, the equivalent of 31 divisions.

· The equivalent of 3 British divisions as well as contingents of Belgian, Canadian and French troops.

· 100,000 German casualties, killed, wounded or captured.

· 81,000 American casualties, including 23,554 captured and 19,000 killed.

· 1,400 British casualties 200 killed.

· 800 tanks lost on each side, 1,000 German aircraft.

· The Malmedy Massacre, where 86 American soldiers were murdered, was the worst atrocity committed against American troops during the course of the war in Europe.

· My division, the 106th Infantry Division, average age of 22 years, suffered 564 killed in action, 1,246 wounded and 7,001 missing in action at the end of the offensive. Most of these casualties occurred within the first three days of battle, when two of the division’s three regiments was forced to surrender.

· In it’s entirety, the “Battle of the Bulge,” was the worst battles- in terms of losses - to the American Forces in WWII.

Posted by: Rylee at December 18, 2005 11:32 PM
Comment #103999

Jack, Thanks for the response. Yes, on the Blue side there have been those who’ve supported Bush on certain issues. I have been among them, especially in terms of keeping troops in Iraq for the time being. And my feelings on New Orleans have been expressed elsewhere.

But my question was really about how far is too far in regard to the exercise of presidential power. At what hypothetical point do you say, “Hey, that’s just going too far!” I didn’t really get an answer from you on that question.

Because, it strikes me that some folks out there would simply never, under any circumstances at all, criticize Mr. Bush. He literally wouldn’t be capable of doing any wrong, with the one exception of how they’d feel if he suddenly turned pro-choice. This state of affairs is a clear sign of irrational partisanship, of true-believerdom, of a literally religious faith in the infallability of Mr. Bush.

If the president (and the facts are not in yet) went out of his way to break the law regarding FISA and the Fourth Amendment, then I can’t imagine how you or any American on the right or left could actually say that the rule of law no longer applies in the U.S. Yes, we might argue that the president fell on his sword to do what he thought was right, but we as a nation would not be able to actually ignore a horribly serious breach of U.S. law.

And if all the other constitutional amendments were chucked in the trash, would Bush supporters raise even the most meager ghost of an objection? Does an apparently never-ending “war on terror” mean that we all should simply bury what it used to mean to be an American, allowing it to sink into swamp of history like what’s left of New Orleans?

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 18, 2005 11:39 PM
Comment #104007

Comparing the current situation with WWI or WWII battles is worse than useless. It encourages a fundamental misunderstanding of the Occupation of Iraq. We’re fighting an insurgency. It’s not a pitched battle. It’s not maneuver warfare. We’re fighting an insurgency. Terrorism plays a small but bloody role in the fighting. In terms of the bigger picture, terrorists & foreign jihadists are irrelevant; very violent, but irrelevant.

There is a short window of opportunity. Maybe. The high Sunni turnout during the vote, and the ability of the insurgents to more or less suspend attacks during the voting shows there is a chance.

Unfortunately, this one really won’t be up to the US. The Shias will be in control, and not the secularist Shias, but the fundamentalist Shias. In the next few months a fundamentalist government will be formed. The question is, will the Shias permit amendments to the constitution in these next four months, and allow the Sunnis to be protected, represented, and co-opted. The high Sunni turnout and the suspension of insurgent attacks suggests the Sunnis would be amenable.

But most likely, the answer is no. Still, that’s the hope.

Last month, the US instituted policies encouraging the hiring of Iraqis, and the granting of a majority of contracts to Iraqi businesses. We waited too long. We waited way too long. The Bush cronies were too greedy. The free-for-all of corruption and graft under the CPA & Allawi governments crippled us.

Now, the Shia militias and the Peshmerga outnumber the Iraqi Army, such as it is. The national military force lacks its own intelligence, logistics, transport, heavy arms, and it lacks its own airpower. For all practical purposes, it is a fiction. The police force contains death squads. A lot of bodies are turning up along the highways.

The only hope is that the militias and Peshmerga will integrate themselves into the national military, and that the death squads will call it a day. Sadly, there is almost no chance of that happening.

It’s extremely difficult for a government to stand without its own military. But that’s where we are.

Big win for Iran. I believe President Bush likes to call a win a ‘victory,’ so maybe we should say this is a big victory for Iran.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain all have large Shia populations. Kuwait will be next.

Posted by: phx8 at December 19, 2005 12:59 AM
Comment #104008


I think what it comes down to is: Do the ends justify the means? Was it absolutely necessary for Bush to go around a Federal Statute to bug US citizens, fishing, for terrorist links? Was there other LEGAL ways to do the same thing with just as much security? From the reporting and from Congressmen i’ve read there were other covert and legal options for carrying out the same objectives.

Presidents, in general, have too much power as it is. And every time there is a new one elected they have always tried to increase their powers. So is this a big deal? Was the Iran-Contra a big deal? Was Clinton lying under oath a big deal? Was the Watergate scandal a big deal? They all broke the law. They ALL should have been impeached. End of story.

Posted by: Matthew at December 19, 2005 1:04 AM
Comment #104012

Matthew, but, your statement presumes that the people should be in control of the political and government processes. They aren’t and haven’t been for a very long time. How else does one explain our problems faced since 1994 (consumer economy excepted) getting dramatically worse and greater in number and the worse they get, the higher the incumbency rate at election time?

Are Americans really that ignorant and stupid that they wilfully vote to make America’s problems worse and greater in number? It is a far more complicated deal than that. Half of eligible voters don’t vote, and a majority of them don’t because they have no faith in the parties, the political system or the government anymore. That leaves those who buy into the election time rhetoric and promises to come out and vote for their favorite red or blue team. They want things to get better, and they want to be optimistic, and they want to have faith in the political system and their government. And because they want to, they overlook the abject failures, or rationalize them away. Afterall, what other choice do they have when regardless of whether the red or blue team is in control, things still continue to get worse instead of better?

There is a solution, but it requires voters to exercise another choice, one they haven’t seen before. A choice of voting out the incompetence, the compromising, the bribery, and corruption of our system. In short, voting out incumbents. Nothing so motivates a politician to attend to the demands of the people like the prospect of not being reelected. Many more Americans voting anti-incumbent has a very real chance of turning things around in this country for the better. But it has to happen person to person, voter to voter and non-partisanly. Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy is working to make this happen and they need all the help and support they can get to make a difference sooner than later. For later, may be too late.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 19, 2005 1:34 AM
Comment #104120


I know - America should be better than the others. And we are. So much so that we can forget how bad it can get. Here’s a stat question. How many men died at the battle of the Marne?

First battle of the Marne (source):
Frenchs 250,000
Germans 250,000
Britishs 13,000
Total 513,000

Second battle of the Marne (source):
Frenchs 95,000
Germans: 168,000
Britishs: 13,000
US: 12,000
Total 288,000

Both battles total: 801,000

How many Americans have died in all our foreign wars combined?

I didn’t do the math, but according to Department of Defense and Veterans Administration, it’s less than 651,008.

But what the point here? Does the nation wars casualties are directly related to wrongness or rightness? In such case, was does Hiroshima score (Japan 125,000+ - US 0) means?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 19, 2005 9:09 AM
Comment #104162

Here’s what he should have said:
Whatever disputes we have about the beginning of the war, we all have a common wish to see America succeed. I am going to send [this many] additional troops to effect the securing of Iraq. This step will ensure that we can withdraw quicker, as we can train more Iraqi soldiers and policemen, reconstruct more of the war damaged country, and let Iraqi’s know and come to value peace once more.

I am also going to involve Iraqi contractors and companies more in the reconstruction, allowing our companies to stand back and play an advisory role, while Iraqis enjoy the benefits of a working economy. An Iraqi carrying a paycheck is less likely to carry a gun. He will not aim with his rifle to kill one of our soldiers or one of his own country, he will instead aim with his hard work to increase the peace and prosperity of his community.

We will set our deadlines, set our goals. Certainly the terrorists and insurgents will try to defeat both, but we will know they are coming, and we will be prepared to defend the gains we make. With our additional troops, we will be able to expand the areas of safe haven until the insurgents and terrorists are operating on the margins, pariahs from their own society. We will turn their societies against them, a richly deserved fate for those who turned against their own people when their actions did not suit their agendas.

… so on and so forth.

For too long this president has maintained his administration in competition with half the country. For too long, he’s remained with one plan, simply because he didn’t want to look weak. That’s the problem with the GOP: They will neglect to act strongly when it presents an image problem.

This president has levelled with us, but only after years of brutal debate, in which he hotly disputed the very thing he now proclaims. While I’m glad he’s on the record about his mistakes, I’m not certain his confession has true repentance as its root.

Moreover, he’s still committing the crucial error of thought: this notion that we have to take every threat seriously. Not every threat deserves that, and we will waste our resources and our will on unworthy targets going in that direction. We already have, with Iraq. No, in this day and age, we are better off first finding what threats to take serious, then taking that threat as seriously as we possibly can. Nothing else will so effectively defend our country.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2005 10:33 AM
Comment #104164


My point was the opposite of what I think you took. My point is that we Americans have much less experience with the real costs than many others do and should learn from their perspective.

It is my fault for the way I phrased what I wrote. I was responding to Aldous re the Red Scares. During our worst abuses of the 1950s, nobody (except the Rosenbergs who were guilty) died and as far as I recall no innocent people were imprisoned. I was anticipating the usual response i.e. “sure it was not so bad, but we expect much better from Americans.” There is no level of practical behavior that satisfies that requirement.

Then I moved to a tangent re battle deaths. When I read what I wrote, I can easily see how someone missed the full stop and subject change.

The experience of most of the world has been different than ours. Americans really can’t conceive of what you went through. As your stats point out, more men died in this one place in France than in ALL our wars put together. That affects our relative perceptions in many ways. We Americans think we are invincible. We are extraordinarily generous with our opponents. This works very well AFTER you have won the war. It is less useful in the midst, especially of a war on terror. I worry that my fellow Americans don’t always understand how dangerous the world can be. In France (as in most of Europe) you don’t have quite the “safeguards” we do. I don’t say this to insult, but rather that maybe we can emulate some of your practices. After all, for all the criticism, I have no doubt that you have maintained a democracy in France, despite (maybe because of) some of the differences.

Posted by: Jack at December 19, 2005 10:34 AM
Comment #104184

There was an interesting show on the history channel the other day. It was showing how American Special Forces are creating an Iraqi special forces made from reconstituted Republican Guard units. It actually had some hope. It did not candy coat the wrong assumptions of the administration leading up to, during and after the war.

Instead of leading, the Americans are assisting and letting the Iraqi forces deal with the insurgents. The Iraqi forces are greeted with cheers and given information to help find terrorists that would never be given to Americans.

It had very knowledgeable Army officers who talked about the lessons learned from various historical insurgency battles… invading forces do not win insurgency wars.

Now, these forces seem to be the same ones that recently were found to have tortured suspects in the Ministry building (which is entirely wrong) but ultimately it will have to be Iraqi forces that create Iraq. They, as a country, are going to have to deal with how a democracy establishes law in their own country.

I am a liberal. Let there be no mistake. I am also a disabled vet. I believe that we “broke it and now have to fix it.” I have been waiting almost 3 years for Bush to admit that he screwed the pooch! I never believe nor supported his rationale for invading Iraq. Never!

I do know that we have to see it through. What upsets me is that while I support having to clean up his mess, I do not want that support to be mistaken for, in any way, supporting him or his past actions.

If we cannot fight this war on terror with the laws that we have, then we need to change the laws. That is what it means to be a nation of laws. It does not mean we pick and choose.

The President is not only the Commander in Chief, he is also tasked/mandated/sworn to protect the Constitution and to enforce ALL laws. It is the job of the Congress to create the laws and his job to enforce them.

If he needs a specific law then he needs to go to Congress to get the legally granted power to protect America. It really is simple.

Even his going around the FISA law is an obvious display of his contempt for Law and Congress. There should have been no problem with getting the warrants he needed to do what was done. That he didn’t shows he believes he is above the law.

I do not see how anyone, conservative or liberal can deny that the laws must be enforced. That if the tools are not available to do what needs to be done, then the President has the responsibility to go to Congress and request those tools.

I know that terrorism is bad… the KKE of Greece tried to bomb my car when I was stationed there in 1981. That bomb would have killed me, my wife and my son.

America has faced enemies before and will in the future. There is no quick solution… saying that we need to temporarily sacrafice our rights in the short term makes no sense because there isn’t a short term solution.

We don’t have to go back to the 17th century to see where societies lead to that look for short term solutions…

How sad.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 19, 2005 10:54 AM
Comment #104191

gee can you say gray davis …
or perhaps mcgrievy former democratic governor of NJ…and you can now add Dick durbin senotor from illonois (dem)


and that only reinforces my point. not only are the republicans criminals (war criminals too), so are the democrats.

so if you read my post you’d see that i find both side absolutely repugnant and all incumbants voted out.

republican critic does not = democratic supporter. c’mon man, READ.

what i said:
i have a hard time supporting any specific party right now. one after another republican is being investigated for some sleazy ack, and the democrats haven’t the political savvy or the legislative backing to really make any difference— you couple that with the fact that they are just as pathetic and you have a beurocratic system that is dysfunctional at best.

there. both parties are disgusting. no good ideas. pork up the wahoo. deficit spending. favors to polluters, tax cuts for those that don’t need them, thousands and thousands of deaths domestically and abroad— how can i justify voting for either party when its largely these jack@sses ineptitude over the course of 30 years that have caused it in large part.


Posted by: callitasEYEseeIT at December 19, 2005 11:18 AM
Comment #104204

Modern communications and travel has devalued oceans as defense.
Posted by Jack at December 18, 2005 05:12 PM
Are you proposing isolationism as our defense strategy?

Posted by: Dave at December 19, 2005 11:42 AM
Comment #104213

This will be found to be another case of “I was for it before I was aginst it”. In the autorization to use force i believe the words were “by all means necessary”. The President also advised leaders of both houses. This is merely more liberal grandstanding and misrepresentation. The Dems are being totally disingenuous on this one. Make no mistake about it. Same tactics they’ve used all along. Vote to authorize use of force then vote against the funding. flip flop ad nauseum.

Posted by: pige at December 19, 2005 12:02 PM
Comment #104223


By all means necessary is within the context of all legal means. Otherwise, why have laws? I am sure that it would be okay with you for all muslims to be rounded up and placed in detention. Sure, why not? Silly? Where do you draw a line? Do you draw a line?

Again, legal means. Along with the Commander-in-Chief title President Bush also took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Just like every person ever in the military. We swore that oath and to follow all LEGAL orders.

Labeling it Liberal Grandstanding does not account for the Republicans that are also concerned. Does it?

Why is abiding by the law, requesting the tools (laws) from our Congress and issuing a warrant for a tap within the FISA a liberal issue?

You fail to mention (why is that I suppose?) that the leaders of both houses were not able to disclose what was told to them… by law. If the President’s lawyers, his Attorney General tells him it is okay and what he tells Congress is, by law, secret and cannot be disclosed… where is the oversight?

Do you understand the basics behind the 3 part government? It was created by men who have seen the abuse of power and feared a strong executive branch specifically.

I always thought that moral relativism was liberal and against conservative beliefs. Morals and laws are based on absolutes and cannot be based on personal “feelings”. Right? The law is the law is the law? Are you telling me that they can based on feelings? Fear? Based upon someone wanting to tear down our way of life…?

What do they hate about us? Liberty? Democracy? Secularism? Laws above dogma or religous edicts? Civil rights that protect minority views? Freedom of religion? Freedom of speech? The freedom to remain secure in our privacy?

Excuse me, but it they are trying to die and to kill us to make us lose these… then what are your bliefs if you are willing to give them away in the name of fighting against them?

The 9-11 attack was terrible. The plans of the terrorists that we have stopped and will stop in the future are terrible. Do not make the security of our nation a partisan issues. It isn’t.

What is a partisan issue is will we do it within the laws of this land? Will we give up those things that we cherish because someone attacked us? Are they worth protecting? It sounds like you don’t think they are. Instead, you are willing to go as far as a police state in your desire for protection. Where do you set limits?

I would love an answer? Please, something more in depth and thoughful than “anything required.” Please, tell us where YOU finally decide that a line needs to be drawn.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 19, 2005 12:24 PM
Comment #104251


The point is the opposite. Isolation is no longer an option for us.

Posted by: Jack at December 19, 2005 1:52 PM
Comment #104294

I do like your sense of humor and your opinions… whether I disagree with them or not.

Because this is such a hot issue right now I was listenting to Talk of the Nation on public radio just a few minutes ago. They had Dick Savage on who was making all these really off the wall instances where the FISA would hinder the investigation by the NSA…

What he wasn’t called on, and I fault the people on public radio for, was that there IS a provision in FISA giving the government authorization to tap a phone and request the warrant up to 72 hours later.

Savage tried to make is sound like that phone call is in progress and someone had to run around with a piece of paper all over Washington on a Saturday evening to get the signatures. That isn’t accurate at all. FISA says they can do the tap and get the warrant up to 3 days later.

What I find interesting (not you!) is how quickly people are willing to sacrafice abstract ideals because of preceived fears. Yes! I know that there are lots of real ones out there… I know there are lots of bad people wanting to do us harm. See my above statement about my car having a bomb placed in it.

What I find interesting is that to question, to ensure that we hold our government accountable, that we insist that the government be answerable to us as required by the Constitution is seen as “Liberal”, “Stupid”, “UnAmerican”, giving in to the terrorsts… whatever…

We all want to be secure in our homes. We do not want to give the terrorists any breaks to do us harm. We do understand that America is more than a house with a white picket fence and a 2 car garage though.

Many people in the 20th century sacraficed convenience for principle. Many in Germany and Italy who feared inflation, communism, loss of prestige after WWI (Germany, not Italy) and were willing to turn a blind eye to the loss of liberty and rights of others. It was “others”, not them…

If you are surprised that politicans would use the war and terrorism to build their political capital, it is too late. That was already done in the last election.

You say what is the harm. The President, with the “absolute best” intelligence (which was absolutely wrong) and with God telling him, “George, you need to go into Iraq.” got it wrong!

If he got it wrong with the intelligence give him AND God… what makes you think he has it right this time?

Please, we are a nation of law. If we need more powers, need new laws or need new tools to battle terrorism then it is his responsibility to go to Congress, convince them what he needs and why he needs it and then trust the American system we are trying to protect to give it to him. Any other way is like the cure that stopped the cancer but killed the patient.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 19, 2005 2:52 PM
Comment #104328
If we cannot fight this war on terror with the laws that we have, then we need to change the laws. That is what it means to be a nation of laws. It does not mean we pick and choose.


I agree with this and can’t understand how any American could disagree. But, based on both the posts from some and the silences from others, it appears some actually do disagree. That in itself is a literally chilling revelation to me. I guess I’ve been naive about my fellow Americans.

But, there is another dimension. Andrew Sullivan recently refuted the argument by Charles Krauthammer that torture would be legalized under limited conditions. His argument comes down to this: it’s better to make torture illegal and then, if the rare circumstances call for it, break the law. He cites the example of civil disobedience: “In fact, civil disobedience implies precisely that laws should not be broken, and protesters who engage in it present themselves promptly for imprisonment and legal sanction on exactly those rounds.”

So, maybe some presidents might feel they’ve got to break the law for the good of the nation. I can see that happening under very extreme and rare circustances. But never should there be an exception made for those those actions. In a nation of laws, such presidents must either punished or legally pardoned.

I supported the Clinton impeachment for exactly this reason. Although it was a relatively minor infraction, it was a truly illegal act. No president should be above the law.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 19, 2005 3:26 PM
Comment #104382

It is chilling… People should be insisting that the President be given the laws and tools needed… not condoning illegal or unethical behavior.

I guess I would agree… if a person was holding my child and I could force the information from that person… I would. I would not base my who philosophy and the future of America’s freedom on a scenerio that might not happen…

During the LA riots I remember people with guns saying they would rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6. I understood exactly what they were saying.

Hell, if need be… close all the loopholes and make our system of fighting illegal terrorists legally done. Then have the President give a pardon if someone has to get vital time-sensitive information.

Justification was made that this was right after 9-11… but that has been more than a few years ago.

Whether we like it or not… our country was founded on the belief that it is the purpose and responsibility of the Congress to make laws, the President and Executive branch to enforce the laws and the Supreme Court to determine the legality of laws and their interpretation in accordance with our Constitution.

The FISA law is adequate for 99.999% or the needs. If it isn’t, or we are so worried about the .001% then we need to do something about it. Legally.

Checks and balances. No one branch of the government acting in secrecy. We have survived all the wars mentioned while trying to maintain what it was that we were fighting for… and yes, we came up short. Each time we attempted to improve.

There was the aliens and seditions act of WWI where we jailed people for what they said.

Our intelligence agencies tapped the phones of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement in the 1960’s.

The fact that after this was revealed it hasn’t continued was the basis for Savage’s saying that we don’t have to worry about the FBI or the CIA… The fact is, without the disclosure before they would still be doing it! It is only by oversight to we protect ourselves.

It isn’t the incriminating information I worry about. I know… if I am not doing anything wrong then I don’t have to worry… What about the wrong or misleading or intentionally hurtful information given? Have you ever had a problem with a credit report and try to get it fixed? Now multiply that by 22 Federal law angencies and 2,000 law enforcement groups.

You won’t even know if there is information there…. cause you don’t have the right to know. Just because of 3 degrees of serparation… mistyped phone number or you moved into an apartment belonging to someone else before. Or worse! You exercised your right to protest and came up on their camera and entered intot their database.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 19, 2005 4:27 PM
Comment #104488
You won’t even know if there is information there…. cause you don’t have the right to know.

Indeed. Funny how those who are always talking about how government can’t be trusted to regulate smokestacks or run a healthcare program are so utterly trusting of the government when it comes to security. To them I say, remember Reagan’s wise words: “Trust but verify.”

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 19, 2005 6:02 PM
Comment #104593

To refute anyone’s belief that the Patriot Act is needed to “stop the *terrorists*” (BTW: after 4 years, not a single conviction because of these increased powers of intelligence-gathering!), I believe Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Posted by: Carri at December 19, 2005 10:10 PM
Comment #104603

Everybody quotes Franklin out of context. Franklin was a very clever diplomat, who gathered and used information from various sources. He would be shocked only that we didn’t do this kind of thing earlier.

Posted by: Jack at December 19, 2005 10:30 PM
Comment #104620

Franklin was not just a diplomat but a spy. And, yes, he would be shocked, but not in the way Jack thinks. Here’s another quote “out of context”:

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 19, 2005 11:51 PM
Comment #104737

Great men are great because they do great things. Not becauase they always follow the rules.

Lincoln is a good example. Justification for that whole military invasion of states during the unpleasantness is hard to find in the constitution. And Lincoln gave himself the right to suspend Habeas Corpus during that same crisis period.

Great Americans like Lincoln and Franklin were saying what they knew to be true. But what they knew to be true was not in accordance with the current ACLU. (poetry)

Posted by: Jack at December 20, 2005 8:56 AM
Comment #104749

Re: Lincoln

Indeed, I knew the old habeas corpus chestnut would come bobbing up immediately once Lincoln’s name was raised. Still, it’s high time we begin that particular discussion, which is bound to become more prominent in the American consciousness in coming months.

Several very large differences. First, there’d been an official declaration of war. Second, he did it openly so there was a chance to work its way through court systems and people’s minds. Third, it lasted a relatively short time rather than becoming an indefinite part of culture.

We’ll see how the warrantless searches thing comes out. Perhaps it’ll somehow be deemed legal. As for the “great men” argument, I’ll control myself here until more is known about the current situation. Terrorism is indeed a tricky thing, but it’s also an indefinite threat. Sooner rather than later, we’ll need to balance our democratic rights with terror’s threats. If this means we live in a little less safety, it’s a price I’d be willing to pay. We all die. It’s a matter of how we live.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 9:40 AM
Comment #104766


My point was the opposite of what I think you took. My point is that we Americans have much less experience with the real costs than many others do and should learn from their perspective.

Oh. Then I fully agree with you.


Wonderfull posts. You’re the kind of americans I’m sometimes desperate to find when I’m trying to convince my fellow anti-americanists europeans that americans *are not* their actual governement…

Your frenchly,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 20, 2005 10:11 AM
Comment #104770

Another quote out of context:

“On the assumption that Congress or a court would have been cooperative in September 2001, and that the cooperation could have kept necessary actions clearly lawful without conferring any benefit on the nation’s enemies, the president’s decision to authorize the NSA’s surveillance without the complicity of a court or Congress was a mistake.”

George Will

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 20, 2005 10:26 AM
Comment #105037


You wouldn’t call the trade in slaves a world-class example of oppression?

Posted by: Mental Wimp at December 20, 2005 4:12 PM
Comment #105415

Philippe Houdoin,

Thank you for the kind words. Life and issues are sometimes so messy, but I hope that in a democracy we can depend on the law and protected rights to work out solutions.

Those that make compromise and discussion words of contempt are the ones that are hindered by law and rights to get what they want.

I just read of the TWA terrorist in Germany that was release on parole. I flew that flight about 10 times during the late 70’s and early 80’s… As a matter of fact, the hijacking and killing of the American serviceman was just a month or two after my return from being stationed in Greece.

While stationed in Greece the terrorist organization November 17 (I mistakenly attributed the attack to the KKE which was the Communist political party) planted a bomb in my car. This would have killed me, my Greek wife and my 1 year old son. Luckily for me it did not go off.

What people don’t seem to understand is the rationale and goals of terrorists. As a European I am sure that you might be more familiar with their intentions and the best way to deal with them.

Their whole goal is to spread fear and discord within a country. Make the population fearful and distrustful of the governments ability to protect them.

Cause the government to over-react and lose credibilty even more when they suspend the rule of law and civil rights.

Create an enviroment where the population demands that their government does whatever it takes to make it stop… even if it means giving in to the terrorists demands.

In our pain of 9-11 we had the all too human reaction of feeling as if no one knew our pain and we alone were the victims. However, this is not the case.

I am saddened that it appears we lost the opportunity to form a united front with the rest of the civilized nations.

The first Bush understood that through unity with the rest of the nations we could go into Kuwait and free them. It was extremely important to him to have world opinion and support.

Our current President has shown his contempt for international concerns. Why should he care? We were the only remaining “Superpower” and it was for everyone else to dance to our tune.

When the rest of the world resents this attitude they wonder why? If a government shows contempt for their own laws and principles, how can they expect America to respect those of others?

International law is fine if it agrees with America’s goals. Yes, we are acting in accordance with international law…

If the law inconveniences us, then we are at war… we are a soverign nation that does not surrender our soverignty to others.

Europe has been dealing with terrorists for decades and it was a long bloody battle, but the big name terrorist organization of the late 70’s and early 80’s were caught and dealt with.

They were battled with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Working together with other countries. Limited military action, when needed was used, but the battle was won through law enforcement and intelligence gathering.

In a democracy we are fortunate that there is often time given to cool down and reflect instead of acting on impulse. It isn’t always dramatic and it often does not satisfy our emotional need for vengance or justice… but I do believe that it is the better of the alternatives.

As I posted in another section… those who wrap themselves in patriotism and cower in fear to the terrorists are exactly those that the terrorists are aiming for.

They are willing to do whatever it takes… legal or not… moral or not… to protect themeseleves so they don’t feel the price of defending the values they treasure.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 21, 2005 9:27 AM
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