THEN AND NOW

Why now and not then?
Why then and not now?

These two questions haunt me each time I visit WatchBlog.
Just about any day, you will find someone from the left, accusing President Bush of a criminal act and in no time, comparisons to Clinton will fly in from the right. The standard excuses immediately follow. I myself am guilty of this.

I do not wish to rehash the action or behavior of Clinton, nor do I wish to defend the actions of President Bush.
In fact, I ask you to forget both of them, their conduct as you see it and their party. Instead, concentrate of the issues I present.
I ask that you drop your partisanship and give me your honest opinion.
I would simply like you’re reasoning for "Why now and not then?" or "Why then and not now?"

Bosnia: American Armed Forces were sent to do battle with a military that did not threaten the U.S. and by all means, was a regional problem. The U.N. could not or would not, effectively intervene. A coalition of countries, "NATO" responded to the situation.
Iraq: American Armed Forces were sent to do battle with a military that did not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. and to be fair, should have been a regional problem. The U.N. could not or would not, effectively intervene. A coalition of countries, "the willing"" responded to the situation.
Other than "who" was in charge at the time, what was the difference? Why was it right or wrong then but just the opposite now?

Rights: The Brady Bill, bans, stricter registration laws and no-knock searches, were seen as clear violations of the 2nd and 4th Amendments. The American people were screaming about government infringing on their rights and illegal searches, which sometimes results in the innocent being the unintended target.
Well, the anti 2nd Amendment laws are still in effect, no-knock searches still occur everyday and the ACSP fiasco dominates the headlines today.
Why were our 2nd Amendment rights worth fighting for then, but not now?
Why was it ok to give up some of our rights and allow illegal searches in order to feel safer then, but is wrong to want that now?
Should it not be that ALL of our rights are worth fighting for anytime they are threatened? Why do we remain silent when it’s a right not important to us or our party?

Torture: American citizens, men women and children, were subjected to torture and eventually murdered by their government. "Waco"
American citizens can be arrested and held by the government for "possible" terrorist involvement. Fair treatment or the right to a speedy trial? Not in this case.
Individuals are arrested and designated as enemy combatants. They are given no trial, are imprisoned and tortured for information that they may not know. Some deaths have been reported. "Gitmo"

So I ask:
Did you make excuses then but demand justice now?
Did you demand justice then only to make excuses now?

When the government fears its people, it is The People who are in control. When The People fear the government, it is The People who are controlled.

Will you allow it to continue, or have you had enough?

Posted by Tim Huff at December 23, 2005 11:29 AM
Comments
Comment #106676

will someone please tell me why bush didn’t get a retroactive warrant.

Posted by: confused repub at December 23, 2005 12:08 PM
Comment #106678

Thanks for the diligent attempt at balance. It’s something I wish we all did more often, and with more enthusiasm.

Posted by: Matisse Enzer at December 23, 2005 12:12 PM
Comment #106680

confused-

I think he didn’t get a retroactive warrant because 1) he didn’t have probable cause as to the relationship between the foreign terrorist and the numbers in the cell phones (example) and 2) he had lawyers telling him he didn’t have to.

Posted by: George in SC at December 23, 2005 12:19 PM
Comment #106684

Tim:

Bosnia: One difference was that Bosnia never had signed a cease fire agreement and therefore never broke a cease fire agreement. But I’m in favor of the US having gone into both places, and would like to see some kind of US/UN intervention into the horrific tragedies of Sudan, Congo and the like.
Rights: I’ve never had a problem with limiting some of my rights for the greater good. For instance, I don’t mind having to wear a seatbelt while driving, or wearing a helmet while on a motorcycle. Both are infringements, but acceptable to me nonetheless. Gun control laws infringe on rights—-I have little problem with them either.

To me, its a bit of a tightrope walk. I don’t want the government having me over the barrel, so to speak. But I’m not sure how to balance safety with freedoms. To me, there is a necessary give and take. While I worry about our government taking too much power, it has not for me reached that point to date.

Torture: I’d have to say I’m against most torture, though I’d agree with Alan Dershowitz in his comments about ticking bomb scenarios. Heck, even John McCain says that while torture should be illegal, there will be some situations that necessitate breaking the law.

Seeing a difference between ‘killing’ and ‘murder’, I’d not see Waco as an example of the latter. The case of Jose Padilla is an intriguing one. Should the govt wait until someone actually carries out their nefarious plan so as to be able to convict, or should they stop the plan before it takes effect? With Padilla, seems to me they had the right to imprison him, but not for the length of time. Again, its a tightrope walk between security and individual rights that certainly bears addressing, but also needs to be readdressed based on the changing nature of our world. Laws need to be update in order to stay aligned with technology as well as societal impacts.

Tim, bottom line is that there will never be perfection, but I’m generally okay with how things are being done.

Good post.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 23, 2005 12:24 PM
Comment #106685

Release the Barrett Report!

Posted by: nikko at December 23, 2005 12:34 PM
Comment #106686

Good post, Tim. I (certainly) didn’t make excuses then and I’m definitely not making excuses now. And, I couldn’t stand Clinton; I thought he was a decent President and, quite frankly, the worst Commander in Chief we’ve ever (EVER!) had. However, I never routed against he or the United States. I didn’t want us to lose in Mogadishu, just to say that he was a terrible leader; that’s just completely and utterly disgusting to route against your country b/c one doesn’t like the President. And, I agree with Matisse, I appreciate the “Balance” angle; rather than, the partisanship.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 23, 2005 12:36 PM
Comment #106693

Bosnia: no opinion.
Iraq: As good a theatre as any (and better than most) to fight an asymetric war against a distributed enemy.
Then vs. now: No opinion on Bosnia, so there is no comparison.

Rights: Brady and no-knocks are a more immediate and broader in scope. Current (and Clinton-era) “illegal” wiretaps are targetted at international calls to “hot” numbers, not all calls made in the country. I’m fairly comfortable that a wiretap target would be extremely granular if that were possible, but it’s not.

Torture/speedy trial: Waco and Ruby Ridge were horrible, horrible missteps by Janet Reno for which the Clinton administration was never held accountable for. I don’t regard that as torture in any practical sense, just unjustified killing.
Torture is a current buzzword without a clear definition (seemingly defined as “I know it when I see it”) and is being used very subjectively in public debate. Once we really define our terms, ask again.

Posted by: Ralph at December 23, 2005 12:40 PM
Comment #106718

Why did a child at seven take anything it wanted without asking, but now that the child is grown up some, they don’t?

Sometimes the answer to why now, and not then, is just experience and maturity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 23, 2005 1:20 PM
Comment #106738

JBOD
Thanks for being consistent. I understand what tou are saying, disagree, but understand. Any opinions on when the people will reach that point?

Rahdigly
While you may not have wished for defeats back then, many on the right did. Its easy to remember how the right was ignored and laughed at for their fears back then, but does that justify doing the same thing in return now? Shouldnt the Constitution be the focus?
And thanks to you and Matisse for the kind words.

David
Look at it from a different angle.
That child at seven takes something without asking and is punished by the parents. A day later, that childs twin, takes something without asking, but instead of equal punishment being handed down, the parents choose to ignore or excuse the same behavior they earlier condemned.
A divided “house” has been created.

Posted by: Tim Huff at December 23, 2005 1:49 PM
Comment #106774

Tim,
“While you may not have wished for defeats back then, many on the right did. Its easy to remember how the right was ignored and laughed at for their fears back then, but does that justify doing the same thing in return now? Shouldnt the Constitution be the focus?”


The problem is many on the left are doing the same that you accuse “many on the right” for doing. So, you just discredited you’re own blog with the jab at the right. Remember: “I ask you to forget both of them, their conduct as you see it and their party. Instead, concentrate on the issues I present.” Wow, you went from that to the quote above. A little shocking.


Posted by: rahdigly at December 23, 2005 2:32 PM
Comment #106817

I supported the President in Bosnia (although I thought he was a little too timid, the policy turned out to work) and I support the President in Iraq.

I don’t feel my liberties are threatened by what Clinton did nor by what Bush is doing. And I feel safer if we can watch terrorists. I apply a reasonably man standard to civil liberties, not an absolute one. Let the courts figure out the nuances.

Waco and Gitmo are not really similar cases, but I don’t blame the Presidents for either. Waco got out of hand. Janet Reno screwed up. Maybe Clinton should have punished her, but it was a judgement call. Ruby Ridge was more an abuse of power. If Randy Weaver had not been such an unsympathetic guy, it would have gone hard on Clinton. Gitmo is a PR problem, but I am not ashamed of our treatment of those prisioners.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 3:19 PM
Comment #106823

Jack, consider this: There have been 19,000 FISA approvals for surveillance of Americans, and only 5 refusals by the courts.

Now of those 19,000 surveillances, how many convictions or actual crimes were discovered? Answer: The government won’t tell us. And for good reason. The ratio of aborted crimes and prosecutions due to FISA surveillance would be somewhere on the order of 1/10th of 1%.

So, what we have is a situation in which to stop 1 criminal or terrorist, our government violates the privacy and personal rights of 1000 other Americans with no cause of action. This kind of trade off of security for Big Brother Spying is what authoritarian regimes are made of.

Hell, we can stop 90% of the crime in America if we would just surveil all Americans everywhere but in the bathroom. The Constition would of course be an obstacle, as it should be now for Bush and the NSA, and FISA courts which are in need of a complete reform more in keeping with our Bill of Rights and evidenciary rules of due process.

If it would be wrong for the gov.’t to surveil all 294 Americans to stop a million from committing a crime, then it is just as wrong for the government to surveil 1000 Americans to stop 1 crime. The logic is inescapable.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 23, 2005 3:24 PM
Comment #106824

Rah
First off, thanks for keeping me in line. You are right.
I know right and left was the wrong terms to use and as I just proved, its a hard trap to avoid.
I did not intend to accuse anyone or take unwarranted jabs.
I jumped the gun and assumed you would know which direction I was going.
I apologize.
I would like to try again.

From previous posts of yours, I believe you lean to the right. I was trying to ask you “righty” to “righty” if you see the same type of thing happening now because of what happened then.

Posted by: Tim Huff at December 23, 2005 3:25 PM
Comment #106830

Jack
Thanks for your input. You too seem to hold a consistent belief between then and now.

“I apply a reasonably man standard to civil liberties, not an absolute one. Let the courts figure out the nuances”

Are you saying that you believe our rights and liberties will have to change with the times and that it is up to the courts to rid or keep whatever parts they can, in order to adapt?

Posted by: Tim Huff at December 23, 2005 3:35 PM
Comment #106834

David

I worry less about some of these things because I know how hard it is to gather and process information. The government is not interested in ordinary people. They can’t afford the time it takes to investigate. Every dry hole costs thousands of dollars. But sometimes you have to investigate just to know if you have investigate.

It reminds me of my college days when all the local lefties were convinced they were being investigated. What no doubt happened is that someone took a look, wrote “loser” in his notebook and that was it.

Many years ago I had the misfortune to be associated with a couple of Iranians who may have had less than stellar motives. This caused me a little trouble to explain, but the explanation was necessary and perhaps useful. I didt’t think I did anything wrong and I don’t think I knew anything important, but sometimes you don’t know what you know. I hope that I was helpful to the good guys who might have been able to put what I knew togther with other information to complete their puzzle.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 3:41 PM
Comment #106836
will someone please tell me why bush didn’t get a retroactive warrant.

confused repub,

This is, of course, the question of the hour. I think the best hypothesis on this comes from a column I recently read from William Arkin. His ideas reflect my own guesswork. Since it’s on the pages of the Washington Post, there seems little reason to keep these guesses to ourselves any longer.

In essence, he argues that the government is simply monitoring everyone via data-mining techniques. He points to Section 126 of the Patriot Act, which requires the AG to give Congress a report on “any initiative of the Department of Justice that uses or is intended to develop pattern-based data-mining technology.”

The idea is that we’re all in a giant database that powerful software combs through looking for patterns to help the government identify potential terrorists or threats.

“In other words,” writes Arkin, “with the digitization of everything and new computer and software capabilities, the government couldn’t go to the Court or the Congress and say, ‘hey, we’d like to monitor everyone on a fishing expedition to find the next Mohamed Atta.’”

This idea could be way off the mark, but I think it’s the most logical explanation based on what we know now. People keep thinking the government is focused only on potential terrorists. It’s possible the government is using software to, in a sense, search everyone in order to whittle its way to the most likely suspects.

Is this constitutional? Is a “person” actually even searching you if a form of artificial intelligence does it? (Actually, whether data-mining is AI or not is debatable.) If credit card and phone and Internet companies are tracking your activities anyway, do you even care if the government is doing this? And just how easy is it for the software to incorrectly identify suspects? (What’s your experience with computers in general?).

If this is true, or a part of it is, then we’ve crossed into a brave, new world of surveillance and political dialogue. Welcome to 21st century.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 23, 2005 3:44 PM
Comment #106842

Tim

I think we make too much of these things. I can think of things where I thought it would go too far, but if the NSA wants to tap my phone to catch a terrorist, I will supply the wire. If a terrorist is talking to me, I want them to know about it.

Another youth story (sorry). During summer jobs in college I used to ride my bike to work at 4 in the morning. I carried my lunch in a bag. At least once a week the cops would stop me and ask me what I had in the bag. I told them my lunch. They would say, “let’s see.” I would show them. They would say “okay move along”. Clearly they were profiling. A young man at 4:00 carrying a bag is suspicious. Should I have got angry? What do I care? I am glad they were out looking for crooks in the predawn gloom because I don’t want the crooks on the street where I am riding.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 3:49 PM
Comment #106849

I understand where your coming from Jack and I would bet that its a pretty common viewpoint shared by many Americans.
Thanks.

Posted by: Tim Huff at December 23, 2005 4:01 PM
Comment #106855

I agree with this post - we should demand amazing thinngs from out representatives. There are far too man y qualified, exceptional people in this country to accept anything less.

I will add a side note: I will always hold DEMs more responsible and want to punish them far greater than REPs. I vote DEM, and those I support have gained my trust. To who break that trust should be punish quickly… and I don’t mean legal problems. I mean uphold their office to the highest degree of integrity and focus on what benefits the American people. I don’t vote for REPs, so I don’t expect much from them.

And any one who tosses Clinton back in my face when I complain about Bush - you have no idea how embarrasing he was. Such a master politician, smart and seemed to share my beliefs. And then Bubba reared his ugly head. What a dumbass.

Posted by: tony at December 23, 2005 4:08 PM
Comment #106867

Tim,

I don’t think it’s a question of why now and not then, or why then and not now. I think it’s a question of how far we are willing to allow our leaders (our employees) to go before we reign them in. I think we need to be consistent when we do things and that they should be within the confines of the Constitution. My personal belief is that the Executive branch has much more power today than was intended by our forefathers, or is granted in the Constitution. A lot of the powers that the President as well as past Presidents take for granted today, are actually powers given to the Legislative branch exclusively in the Constitution. Such as only Congress can declare war.

Presidents past and present claim that they have powers as Commander and Chief. That may be true, but according to Article II, section 2 he is only Commander and Chief of the armed forces when called into service.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices

So in response to your first question, either situation should only have happened after Congress called on the President to use force. The decision to send U.S. troops into harm’s way should never be made by the President alone, the views of the American people should be expressed through their elected representatives in Congress.

President Papa Bush had authorization from the Congress to use force in the first Iraq conflict. Clinton did not have congressional authorization to use force in Haiti, Bosnia, or Kosovo. Both houses passed resolutions supporting the troops and their mission, but Congress never authorized deployment. The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 gave President Clinton the authorization to do what is happening now. While Clinton did bomb certain WMD targets in 1998, this act actually authorized the liberation of Iraq and establishing a democratic form of government. H.J.Res. 114 did authorize President GW Bush to Use Military Force Against Iraq, but was based either on faulty intel, or deliberate misrepresentations.

Clinton worked outside the Constitution on Bosnia, while GW Bush got authorization, although it may have been authorization based on tainted information. The Congress has the sole authority under the Constitution to order the use of force. As Commander in Chief the President has the authority to carry out that order. Likewise, the Congress has the authority to order domestic surviellance, and the President has the authority to carry out that order, but only within the confines of the Constitution that he took an oath to uphold. Spying on Americans was never authorized by Congress. Congress authorized “appropriate force”, operating outside the law and the Constitution is not appropriate.

I am a Civil Libertarian so as far as our rights are concerned I believe we should fight against any attempts to curb our rights, whether we agree with them or not, no excuses. Some may be willing to give up some of their liberties for a little safety, but giving up one liberty will inevitably lead to giving up others. Perhaps others you don’t want to give up. The slope is indeed slippery.

You mention no-knock searches. It is kind of Ironic that it was this invasion of rights that spurred the gay rights movement, and led to the overturning of sodomy laws, and the fight for marriage equality. In this case the curbing of a right may actually cause the expansion of others. We will just have to wait and see.

Torture in the sense of Waco and gitmo was wrong then and is wrong now. Torture should only be used under extraordinary circumstances, where an immanent threat to life has been established.

When the government fears its people, it is The People who are in control. When The People fear the government, it is The People who are controlled.

Excellent Point!

Will you allow it to continue, or have you had enough?

I’ve had enough.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 23, 2005 4:26 PM
Comment #106869

Tim,

Hey no problem; sorry if I sounded like I was visibly upset, b/c I really wasn’t.

I like to consider myself an independent; there are somethings I’m conservative about (crime, military/National Defense, Judges and fiscally); some I’m liberal (social issues); and a libertarian (civil liberties, little gov’t involvement, eminent domain). With that said, I certainly lean to the right; especially with the war going on and the Democrats actions since 9/11.

To answer your question: “if you see the same type of thing happening now because of what happened then.”


I see the same things happening now in regards to dissent; the dems and repubs always twist and turn and show their hypocrisy (they have to they’re politicians). And, every president has a bullseye on them, it’s always a catch 22 no matter what they do. However, I find there’s much, much more hate for Bush than Clinton. I mean, I don’t remember the repubs going after the troops (pointing out imcompetencies and disregard) to make the President look bad. I don’t remember the repubs rehashing the “Impeachment” arguement a full year after the fact that Clinton won at the polls following the impeachment; like the dems are doing with the Iraq War.

Dissent is fine, hate is not. So, I definitely have been leaning right since 9/11; however, I will call Bush out when I disagree with him on certain issues (immigration, spending, trade deficit) the same way I did with Clinton as Prez.


I hope that answers your question…

Posted by: rahdigly at December 23, 2005 4:28 PM
Comment #106872
I will add a side note: I will always hold DEMs more responsible and want to punish them far greater than REPs. I vote DEM, and those I support have gained my trust. To who break that trust should be punish quickly… and I don’t mean legal problems. I mean uphold their office to the highest degree of integrity and focus on what benefits the American people. I don’t vote for REPs, so I don’t expect much from them.

Tony,

Excellent point. I am much the same way. I think this can help explain the low poll numbers that Dems have been recieving. I have been very disappointed in the Dems over the last 4 years because they have become Republocrats. My feeling is that they have been voted into office to be the opposition party. To question, and keep the Repubs in check. That simply has not happened. I am hopeful though that we are turning a corner and the Dems will once again become the opposition party.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 23, 2005 4:32 PM
Comment #106873

After 9- 11, I remember alot of people that said Bush didn’t do anything to stop the attacks on 9-11. Clinton didn’t do anything after repeated attacks during the 90’s, outside of the Waco, Ruby ridge and grabbing a little Cuban boy. Now that Bush has acted and done his best to stop attacks during a war on terrorism, these same folks are crying that he’s doing too much and violating the constitution. Its afact of history that during war, clamping down on liberties to protect the people during that war is needed. If this war takes awhile because of timid politicians, then all out victory is needed so that it is only temporary. stringing it out with a timid debate is not good, I believe. In short, I think winning the war, fixing the messes established by the previous administration and then reviewing the way we did win should be the way policy should be improved, not peacemeal with blame. Thats just my opinion.

Posted by: George at December 23, 2005 4:38 PM
Comment #106875

JayJay -

Yea - I think the DEMs have tried to count on the REPs lossing votes to them. It’s not going to happen. I think the DEMs represent (in spirit) an honest focus on helping average people succeed in life. There’s a lot to offer average people, but we need to focus on what we can bring to the table… not just hoping we look better by comparison.

No matter how bad the other team does, you never want to win solely because the other team lost the game.

Posted by: tony at December 23, 2005 4:40 PM
Comment #106877
I understand where your coming from Jack and I would bet that its a pretty common viewpoint shared by many Americans.

Tim,

I agree with you here. But it’s not the viewpoint of all Americans, and those Americans are supposed to be protected by the Constitution. Therein lies the problem.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 23, 2005 4:45 PM
Comment #106879
Its afact of history that during war, clamping down on liberties to protect the people during that war is needed.

Possibly, George, but using foresight the constitution ALLOWS for this, provided specific actions are taken. If they weren’t, then that is a violation of that constitution and if we allow a single violation of the constitution then really, what good is any of it?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 23, 2005 4:47 PM
Comment #106882

rahdigly,

I see your point, and I agree, there is much more hate for Bush than for Clinton. But I think there are good reasons for it. Reagan was called the Great Communicator and was a very popular President. Clinton was called Slick Willy because he could talk his way out of anything and was also a very popular President. Papa Bush was not very good with public relations. He was often mocked, because of his use of catch phrases. Remember a thousand points of light? How about “not gon doit”, “read my lips…”? He did a poor job of talking his way out of situations and sometimes came of insincere, as a result he lost reelection. Dubya Bush is in an even worse PR situation than his dad. He won reelection based on fear tactics, and the fact that the Dems put up a candidate that really was not that appealing. Since reelection I think Bush has lost a lot of credibility and he has not been able to talk his way out. In fact the more he tries to talk his way out, the deeper he seems to go. I think how much a President is loved or hated by the general public has nothing to do with his policies, it has to do with his ability to communicate effectively.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 23, 2005 4:59 PM
Comment #106889
Its afact of history that during war, clamping down on liberties to protect the people during that war is needed.

Well, I agree that Bush is a horrible horrible communicator. But it does appear that he is making traction again. A month ago his approval was around 33% and a lot of dems were ‘piling on’. But recently he has started making more and more speeches defending himself and today Rasmussen has his approval rating back up to 50%, it has been tracking up steadily for the past three weeks.

(These comments place no value or approval on or agains President Bush other than explictly stated)

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 23, 2005 5:20 PM
Comment #106897

Jack said: “I worry less about some of these things because I know how hard it is to gather and process information. The government is not interested in ordinary people.”

Bingo! Give that man a CIGAR! That was precisely the hallmark of the USSR government. That is how they suppresesed their population for so-o-o long. They made it clear and plain, DO NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF! So, don’t speak against the President’s policies, don’t protest, don’t demonstrate, and don’t say anything to your kids you wouldn’t want them repeating to the Principle of the School.

There goes the Bill Of Rights for intents and purposes originally intended.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 23, 2005 5:40 PM
Comment #106905

David

People like you and I draw attention to ourselves all the time. I googled my name and found 256 potentially stupid things I said - and that doesn’t count all my semi-anomomous work at Watchblog. Nobody from government has never singled me out in any way I consider inappropriate. (I am not counting the routine bothering we all get from the IRS etc.) I have never had any trouble because of my ideas or what I thought or expressed. Neither has anyone I know. In fact, nobody I even heard about.

You all know that this. In the old Soviet Union people wouldn’t say anything against the government unless they were really sure who they were talking to. People on this blog (and thousands of others) disparage their leaders to complete strangers and they do it in writing. There is no justified fear of government abroad in this land.

The only people who suffer for their ideas are those stuck in PC hell. Think Lawrence Summers. This is sort of government sponsored, but it probably not what you are talking about.

Posted by: Jack at December 23, 2005 6:09 PM
Comment #106913

I think the bad PR attached to G W was attached before he was President. The way todays media try to label things, it wouldn’t of mattered who the Republican nominee was, he would have been labeled anyway. Clinton could talk his way out of anything, just like many Democrats, but, I don’t believe they could have fooled the people had they won. The Democrats have always been called the party of the people. i don’t think thats true. If it was Clinton would not have left so much open to terrorist attacks. The PR that is claimed to be bad for Bush is made up, the fact is their have been no attacks comparable to even the first trade center attacks since 9/ 11. Clinton, and Carter can’t claim any sort of victory like that. I believe Bush is doing the best job he can, thats positive in my mind, and I sleep better with Bush as president then I did with the slick willy.

Posted by: George at December 23, 2005 7:06 PM
Comment #106916

Jay,
“I see your point, and I agree, there is much more hate for Bush than for Clinton. But I think there are good reasons for it.”


Let me just say that I never (ever) believe there is reason to hate our President. I’m a firm believer in dissent; but hate should only be reserved for people like: Hitler, Stalin, OBL, Pol Pot, Saddam, Kim Jong il, etc.


“He won reelection based on fear tactics, and the fact that the Dems put up a candidate that really was not that appealing.”


I definitely disagree. I don’t believe Bush and the repubs used “fear” tactics; the terrorists were the ones that instilled fear in the US and Bush and the repubs stepped up and proved that they were going to do what it takes to keep us safe. I didn’t see that from the Dems; in fact, that was a big reason why (I believe) they lost seats in 2002 and (especially) in 2004, when they lost the House, Senate and the Presidency.


And, think about this, Kerry’s campaign kept telling us what we wanted to hear; Bush’s campaign told people what we didn’t want to hear. Besides, Bush is just a better leader than Kerry (and Gore and Hillary). I think history is going to look back on Bush and see a great leader. Of course, that all depends on what he does in the next 3 years.

I do agree with you that Bush and his father have poor PR skills.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 23, 2005 7:33 PM
Comment #106964

“I worry less about some of these things because I know how hard it is to gather and process information. The government is not interested in ordinary people.”

What concerns me about Bush wiretapping Americans without oversight is not whether I in particular am spied on, or anyone, generally speaking, with an honest lifestyle. It is not knowing what the actual intent is behind these wiretaps. As I understand it, complying with FISA was and is not a hinderance to taking quick action when needed (the 72 hour window for getting a warrant after the fact). So why not comply? Given that I do not trust Bush (he has a verifiable track record a blatant lying), and think that he is capable of using such activities for purposes other than “fighting terrorism” (like, say, obtaining information on groups or interests working against the interests of his corporate cronies?), I think this is a fair question. It is not like presidents have never used such powers for other than their intended purposes, and their is nothing about this president that tells me he would restrain from doing so. This is the real concern for me.

Posted by: Jonathan at December 23, 2005 11:33 PM
Comment #106984
I worry less about some of these things because I know how hard it is to gather and process information. The government is not interested in ordinary people.

Jack,

Does that mean you don’t think Quakers, college students, members of Concerned Citizens of Colorado, military recruitment protesters, and the other Americans on this list are not ordinary people?

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?
Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks ‘suspicious’ domestic groups

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system’s main arteries, they said.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said…

…Historically, the American intelligence community has had close relationships with many communications and computer firms and related technical industries. But the N.S.A.’s backdoor access to major telecommunications switches on American soil with the cooperation of major corporations represents a significant expansion of the agency’s operational capability, according to current and former government officials.

Phil Karn, a computer engineer and technology expert at a major West Coast telecommunications company, said access to such switches would be significant. “If the government is gaining access to the switches like this, what you’re really talking about is the capability of an enormous vacuum operation to sweep up data,” he said.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 24, 2005 1:46 AM
Comment #107045

Jack said: “Nobody from government has never singled me out in any way I consider inappropriate”

How can you know? That’s the crux of the issue. The government can single you out, affect the course of your life, and you would never know the course it took was directly altered by the government.

I understand a Republican voters reluctance to think that this government would act against them, being a self-professed Republican supporter. That rationale does not work as well for non-Republican supporters though, does it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2005 6:02 AM
Comment #107059

Great leaders in this country have always been provenlater, not based on popularity polls at that moment, Clinton always based his decisions on polls, he wasn’t worried about what the people thoght, he was worried about how he would look. Bush is making decisions when they are needed regardless of polls. We need leaders that aren’t afraid to decide. Since the mid 1950s, Democrats have been to timid and worried to decide anything. Strength through leadership is what the American people need, not decisions based on media polls and what weak- minded indecision and fear. If any Democrat was the leader now, we would have had many more attacks since 9- 11 and many more dead all in the name of “principles” and of course, they would all be finger pointing, as they are doing now. I think we should concentrate on winning the game first before we stand around and try to analyze it as its being decided. Lets win the thing first. Too many times when the Democrats have been in charge, the game was thrown because of fear. Lets show some backbone and defeat our enemies in war, just as our enemies have been defeated with elections. I believe our enemies hope and pray that the Democrats win in this country, it improves their chances for a victory. It always has.

Posted by: George at December 24, 2005 8:37 AM
Comment #107065

George,

That’s a lot of conjecture and very slanted. The original article started out quite slanted and open-minded. If you’ve already made your mind up and cannot have an open-minded discussion I would suggest holding your thoughts.

I’ve disagreed with many decisions that presidents have made (and other politicians too). That goes irregardless of party. Generalizing that one party is “stupid” or “anti-American” only divides our country. Blue and Red must work together and for the most part they do. Do they govern differently? Of course they do. Does either side want to see our country fall? Absolutely not.

Posted by: Tom L at December 24, 2005 9:05 AM
Comment #107156
I worry less about some of these things because I know how hard it is to gather and process information. The government is not interested in ordinary people.
Does that mean you don’t think Quakers,…

JayJay,

Nice fact-filled response to this. Yes, Jack’s right that the U.S. could be a lot worse than it is in terms of civil liberties, but eternal vigilance is the price we pay to keep our country from becoming worse. It’s happened before in other democracies in similar circumstances. Thoughout history, most democracies don’t lose military conflicts. They fall due to internal disintegration. That is the greater danger. And anyone who doesn’t think it can’t happen here is deluded, living in an ahistorical la-la land.

George,

Too many times when the Democrats have been in charge, the game was thrown because of fear.

Might we get an example of this? The Democrats led while the nation was engaged during the biggest military conflict in the world. It was a Republican adminisration that withdrew from Vietnam, if we’re counting that one. It was a Democratic administration that fought the war in Bosnia with very few U.S. casualties. And wasn’t it Republicans who established the Korean armistice? Meanwhile, it was a Democrat who got the nuclear weapons out of Cuba.

In short, there’s virtually no historical justification for suggesting the Republicans are superior in terms of defense. Indeed, though I won’t argue it, you could easily draw the opposite conclusion based on the facts.

And I’d say it’s GOP fear mongering that potentially erodes who we are. Fear, fear, fear. It’s infecting us. Roosevelt wasn’t good on civil liberties in many ways (intern camps and all), but at least he didn’t beat us over the head with fear day in and day out. Yes, we’re in danger. Very certainly. That doesn’t mean we stop being Americans.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 24, 2005 3:10 PM
Comment #107165

O.K. you covered Democrats that weren’t liberals. It was Democrats that choose the stategy for Vietnam, it was Democrats that decided not to win in Korea. When Roosevelt led the country in WW2 did the opposition stand around and cry that it was too hard, or unfair. I don’t believe todays Democrat party have the same balls that Roosevelt or even JFK did. The Democrat party of then would call the Democrat party of today Communists, Defeatist anarchists. Clinton, Carter, Kerry and the like can’t be compared to the Democrats of the past that had guts. Even Democrat supporters of today say that Clinton could talk himself out of any peoblem. Democrats of the past didn’t have to ” con” the people this way, they pushed forward in a time of war and WON. The democrats of today are only interested in finding fault , cutting and runnig to attain power. thats not working, they have been falling further and further behind since 94, have balls means something to the majority. RealAmericans hate losing. Democrats thrive on it. Now thats my opinion, and nothing the DEms have put up will change that.

Posted by: George at December 24, 2005 4:52 PM
Comment #107170

GO SEAHAWKS!!!! 2005 NFC WEST CHAMPS.

Posted by: George at December 24, 2005 5:25 PM
Comment #107183

George,

I don’t mean to nitpick you but you didn’t come up with any facts to support your argument. As for Clinton, his only problem was that he was too good at leading the U.S. in Bosnia. The rest of the nation hardly even recognized his leadership because he wasn’t jumping up and down pounding his own chest. You can use hindsight in talking about how he handled terrorists, but if you do, then the much greater sin was Reagan’s, who pulled up out of Lebanon even while virtually creating the whole Islamic terrorist movement in Afghanistan. So, I think you ought to take a step back and try to see these things in a less partisan light.

Tim,

RE: Iraq

The U.S. entered Bosnia amid actual conflicts. Indeed, the mass killings that took place were the worst in Europe since WWII. This was occuring right in NATO’s backyard, and they were obligated to address problem that was increasingly in danger to spread. The U.S., as a major member of NATO, was obligated to lead and participate.

Iraq, by comparison, was a war of choice. Whatever the rhetoric, it was fought with a strategic purpose in mind: to create an Arab nation friendly to the U.S., one that would force other Arab nations to become more liberal in their political approaches. Domino theory in reverse.

Iraq was also a much riskier choice for the U.S. It’s been a much more costly and it’s possible we’ll wind up helping to establish an Iran-friendly theocracy, one from which we may see more rather than less terrorism in coming years. It could be Afghanistan, except with oil money to support future terrorists. But I certainly hope not. It could wind up a psuedo-democratic state friendly toward markets, one that actually drives Iran to become less theocratic. We’ll see.

RE: Rights: The Brady Bill is law. The Supreme Court has a chance to change it. Also, it’s a relatively minor “infringement” in that there were already limitations. The government does not allow Americans, for example, to own atomic weapons or tanks.

While many people have been concerned about the Patriot Act, at least it was law. And at least people like Sununu get oportunities to fight against it in Congress. What’s most upsetting about the wiretapping sitation (about which we still know too little) is that it short-circuited the entire democratic system. We haven’t had the opportunity to “give up” our rights. They seem to have been secretly yanked away from us, though I’m still trying hard to keep an open mind about this, understanding that the stakes are pretty high when it comes to terrorism.

RE: Torture

Waco was a serious screw up. It wasn’t intentional torture or murder. I don’t think we can compare this to what’s been done in regard to the suspension of habeas corpus for those suspected of terrorism. This issue hasn’t really received enough attention either from libertarians or liberals.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 24, 2005 6:52 PM
Comment #107219

reed, Anyone with any type of education knows that when the UN under McArthur had a chance to defeat the Communists in North Korea, Truman( A Democrat) fired him because, at the time Truman was happy with breaking even. When Johnson had a chance to win in Vtetnam, he was happy with a war of attrition, when Carter became confronted with Iran, he turned tail and ran. With Reagan, he couldn’t do anything without a Democratic controlled Senate and House constantly critisizing evrything he did. Reagan defeated the Soviets in a war of economics. the Reds couldn’t keep up the cold war any more. The Dems fought Reagan saying the Soviet Union ” can’t ” be defeated. Clinton ran from Somalia, Terrorism and his responsibilities as a leader. Now, terrorism is fighting for its life, and it seems that the ” We can’t win” mentality of the Democrats is aiding and abeting terrorists. At least Bush has the ways and means to stand up what no Liberal will stand up to. I say, defeat the allies of Democrats then set a new standard. the world of post 9- 11, can’t be like it was before. I also believe that non- Americans willing to destroy America should be treated as combatants, not like mis demeanor citizens in this country turned loose by a liberal court. You go on believing the way you do, being stupid and ignorant is not againest the law.

Posted by: George at December 24, 2005 8:58 PM
Comment #107222
You go on believing the way you do, being stupid and ignorant is not againest the law.

Merry Christmas to you, too, George. I’ll pray for wisdom at midnight mass. Cheers.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at December 24, 2005 9:24 PM
Comment #107245

Does anyone know what would happen if the US did survellance and later went to get the retroactive warrant and that warrant was denied?

Posted by: x-lib at December 24, 2005 11:36 PM
Comment #108069

George, being stupid or ignorant may not be against the law, but, tagging other visitors to this site with those labels IS against our policy here. Your comments of this nature are no longer welcome here.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at December 27, 2005 3:05 PM
Comment #109013

Again, thank goodness for a blog long on ideas and discussion and short on name calling - except for George. I think the answer to what is the difference in all of the above is are these discussed in the proper venue or public and at least aired through the checks and balances of our government.
We may not all agree with each decision but we know what the policy will be and can act if we want to change it. Isn’t that the heart of these matters - do we do this unilaterally or through the proper channels. By the way - doing it that way can deflect much blame when the sh*t hits the fan! Bush and administration needs to ask more what should we do not what can we do. Also I find this going it alone attitude very unproductive - it may give a big win but more often produces a big loss and smacks of grandstanding and arrogance.

Posted by: Larry Stoddard at December 29, 2005 6:05 PM
Comment #109245

“Does anyone know what would happen if the US did survellance and later went to get the retroactive warrant and that warrant was denied?”

x-lib at December 24,
That is an intersting question and one that has been asked by scholar, legal experts and congress. It is my understanding that information learned from an illegal source cannot be use in the prosecution of a person, but really, the cat is out of the bag, isn’t it?

I did read where some of the judges appointed to the FISA court were concerned about the vailidity of warrants in general because of the government’s interpretation of the law.

One of the concerns of the scholars and former intelligence officers I have listened to is that all information is being dumped into a central database, regardless of its validity… and the wider the net is cast, the more innocent information about innocent people are going to end up in there.

Has anyone played the degrees of separation game? It can be really amazing the closeness we have to so many people in this world… based upon friends, friends of friends, former schools or clubs, or maybe even reissued phone numbers.

Heck, look at identity theft and the difficulty of trying to get your life back… Imagine bad information about yourself in a gov’t database that you have no idea is even in there… and no way to find out. Talk about a scarlet letter!!!!

I would like to see the letter and the spirit of the law followed and as much oversight as possible especially since we are mining data that could effect innocent Americans.

I am not talking about the ACLU or even an opposition’s panel. I am talking about an Inspector General that does a specific testing of the information to determine accuracy and relevency of infomation on Americans. A Quality Control, so to speak.

This does not infringe on our government’s legitimate need to protect us.

To those that believe that an honest man has nothing to hide, the founding fathers agreed… but they went a step further… an honest man doesn’t need to prove his honesty.

IF this current administration has nothing to hide, then they should not fear an investigation. Our Congress and the Executive Branch have worked together for 230 years through many wars and even the cold war where revealation of the means of intelligence gathering was especially more sensative beyond tapping telephones.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 30, 2005 5:11 PM
Comment #109747

If one doesn’t look left and doesn’t look right, one tends to look forward, unless they are facing backwards…

The left and right views are meant to confuse and contain those who are trying to look forward, while those who hold the positions of right and left are little confused and mostly uncontained with what they want to achieve.

In other words while we are trying to look forward in good spirit, we are intentionally being confused & mislead from the right and left, demanding from us to take a left or right position, while both the right and left are on a totally separate & mutual agenda, getting away with murder & chaos.

Posted by: Steve at January 2, 2006 10:09 AM
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