Monday, June 25, 2007

"You Can Fight The War And Lose Everything"

When the story broke about the Bush administration's FISA end-around, I had one simple question: Why was the FISA court inadequate in certain situations? I've never heard a convincing answer from the administration or anyone else. Royce Lamberth, district court judge in Washington who was appointed by Reagan and named chief of the FISA court in 1995 by William Rehnquist, commented over the weekend:
"But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said at the American Library Association's convention.

"We have to understand you can fight the war (on terrorism) and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war."

Lamberth said the FISA court met the challenge of acting quickly after Sept. 11. Lamberth was stuck in a car pool lane near the Pentagon when a hijacked jet slammed into it that day. With his car enveloped in smoke, he called marshals to help him get into the District of Columbia.

By the time officers reached him, "I had approved five FISA coverages (warrants) on my cell phone," Lamberth said. He also approved other warrants at his home at 3 a.m. and on Saturdays.
If the system worked on 9/11, it can always work. But for some that's never really mattered, has it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Probably not

6/25/2007 1:33 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

I never bought any of the administration's argument that some of these wiretaps were so important they couldn't go to the court and risk letting our enemies know what they were doing?

Excuse me? Um, BULLSHIT!! That's implying that Al-Queda or any other terrorist agency has infiltrated our judgeships. Our FISA court judges, a secret court mind you, work for Al-Queda or are going to pass along information?!!!!

Yeah, and I expected the administration to try to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge after that. To quote my mom, "Don't piss on my back and try to tell me it's raining!"

6/25/2007 10:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"But for some that's never really mattered, has it?"

For Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, clearly not. But what's interesting to me is all those who - up until 9/11 - had been theoretically on the other side of this all (that would be the side that's ridiculed and marginalized).

Andrew Sullivan would appear to be a text book case. Although I think he's nothing more than a toady, people like you apparently think there's something worthwhile there. The question is, why and how did A.S. - and countless others like him - turn so quickly into rabid dogs ready to not only support despicable policies, but enthusiastically attack anyone who mentioned that, ahem, we're supposed to be the good guys in all this.

Although I see the contrition, I see no explanation and no soul searching that would at least provide some bulwark against it simply happening again. It's easy to be against something after its clearly failed. The trick is to anticipate and do the right thing in the first place.

The first step in a cure is the accurate diagnosis of the disease. To my thinking, torture, preemptive war, stab in the back... these are all symptoms and not the cause. It's all well and good to comment on the bloody, infected and inflamed wound. The question is how did it get this way in the first place and how to make sure it never happens again (or at least, figure out how to quickly deal with it so it doesn't bloom into full fledged fascism).

6/25/2007 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we know Lamberth is not in cahoots with Al Qeada? Hmm? Can you prove he's not?

See? Can't trust anyone, don't you people watch 24?

6/25/2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Spider said. Spot on. As is TCR's post, as usual.

From 9/11 on this Administration has used this country's fear and pain to consolidate its own power and enrich itself. Claiming that the FISA court is neither fast enough nor secret enough is just another attempt by them to be able to do what they want when they want without the burden of oversight and accountability. These people are criminals and should be treated accordingly.

6/25/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Azael, I agree with much of what you wrote -- so many of these things are just symptoms, not causes -- problem is, I think the underlying cause is not something we can easily just diagnose and cure. (Although fortunately it seems to be easy to predict, it's just that nobody ever listens to the longhairhippiefreakhomopinkoleftistantiwar protesters who predict it.)

I think the basic problem is that many human beings can only conceive of measuring their fundamental worth, their goodness, their own self-merit, by getting into a FIGHT and DEFEATING somebody whom they are told is EVIL. If no opponent exists who is legitimately Evil, then they tag somebody noticeably different from themselves with that label, and then fight them. Because if they're not fighting somebody, then these people start to fear that they themselves are Evil and fallen. (Lazy, decadent, an idle mind is the Devil's workshop, etc.) They can only prove their own goodness in combat, and for their own insecurities, they are constantly driven to prove it.

This problem far predates the neocons, of course, but in this century, people with that own basic gorrilla instinct become neocons (or else, just stay-at-home, reactionary, racist voters), no matter what political affiliation they put down on their voting form (see Miller, Zell; Lieberman, Joe).

Matt Taibbi did a great job of writing about this back in 2004:

Rolling Stone: Bush Like Me

The problem not only with fundamentalist Christians but with Republicans in general is not that they act on blind faith, without thinking. The problem is that they are incorrigible doubters with an insatiable appetite for Evidence. What they get off on is not Believing, but in having their beliefs tested. That's why their conversations and their media are so completely dominated by implacable bogeymen: marrying gays, liberals, the ACLU, Sean Penn, Europeans and so on. Their faith both in God and in their political convictions is too weak to survive without an unceasing string of real and imaginary confrontations with those people -- and for those confrontations, they are constantly assembling evidence and facts to make their case.

But here's the twist. They are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn't matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn't a policy imposed from above; it's an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You're arguing the particulars, where you're right, while they're arguing the underlying generalities, where they are.

Once you grasp this fact, you're a long way to understanding what the Hannitys and Limbaughs figured out long ago: These people will swallow anything you feed them, so long as it leaves them with a demon to wrestle with in their dreams.

6/25/2007 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

…aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand this relates to FISA because... because... (hope I'm not rambling too much)... for the same reason that the Republican Presidential candidates recently got into a debate about who would torture captured suspects the most. When your whole self-worth depends upon fighting, upon violence, then basically you enshrine abuse. The White House and the CIA violating Constitutional protections becomes a sign of dedication, not lawlessness. It shows our leaders are fighting The Good Fight for all they're worth.

Abuse of the Constitution is not a bug, it's a feature.

Of course, only one of the many unspoken assumptions behind this philosophy, [and only one of many such assumptions that are false], is the tacit assumption that our Authorities will always and accurately tell us who is Evil. Supporters of this combative philosophy never seem to notice that flaw until it is much, much too late.

SIR THOMAS MOORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

SIR THOMAS MOORE: … Oh? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? …if you cut them down … d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

6/25/2007 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the discussion here is horrible. You are trying to blame our evil empire solely on Republicans. This is beyond absurd and is a reason why the Democrats offer no hope. The problem does not lie in Republicans or political affiliation. The problem lies in human nature. The problem lies in the biology of the brain. Political leaders of both democrat and republican stripes have been educated and schooled on how to manipulate the masses. They know what buttons to push. This is the purpose of an ivy league education. The leaders of both political parties work together to keep enough of the US population’s support to continue to expand the empire. It is the classic good cop...bad cop routine. Also a kind of mommy...daddy psychology. We have the stern Republican Father and the softer Democrat mother. Our educational system was based on the Prussian model as New York teacher of the Year John Taylor Gotto so thoroughly documented. There will be leaders who decide the direction of the country and the rest will be followers. You are the followers. H. Clinton and Obama offer no hope. George W Bush would have never happened had B Clinton not paved the way with 10 years of bombings and sanctions of Iraq. Clinton has just as much innocent blood on his hands as George W Bush. America began pursuing its overseas empire at the conclusion of the Spanish American War.

Many Republicans oppose the war. Much of the previous republican support came from independents who started backing republicans in 1994. They have lost that support. The only way to limit future wars is to limit the power of government. Power corrupts and the more powerful government the more death and destruction they will cause. Democrats are just as blood thirsty as Republicans. They support the empire just as much as the Republicans do. They want to bomb and kill Iranians. As if that isn’t enough they want to bomb and kill people in Darfur. So they can’t bomb and kill themselves.

There are only two politicians against war in all of congress. One in a liberal democrat (Dennis Kucinich)...the other a libertarian republican (Ron Paul).

6/26/2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Gravel at least understands the situation

6/26/2007 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How do you shoot an old man in the face and get him to apologize?" says 'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart, referring to the infamous hunting accident involving Vice President Cheney. "Ooh Cheney, he must be evil, ooh, what's he hiding, what are his secrets?

Here is Jon Stewart perpetuating a myth. Cheney is not hiding anything. As the documentary Why We Fight showed. Dick Cheney was worth a comfortable million after he left office as Defense Secretary. He went to work for Halliburton in true revolving door fashion. He lobbied to get the rules changed as Defense Secretary to allow more private contractors to do work the military did previously. He then reaped the benefits of those policy changes when he became CEO of Halliburton. After leaving Halliburton his 1 million dollar net worth became a 100 million dollar net worth. It doesn't get any more blatant than that. Any reasonably intelligent person can understand what Cheney did to make his millions. Even the dumbed down American public...but Not even Jon Stewart is willing to go there. The real question you have to ask yourself is why does the "opposition" party treat these crooks with kid gloves. When you can answer that question truthfully to yourself...that is when you will understand the true nature of our rulers in DC. The Republic is dead. The Constitution would be better used as toilet paper.

6/26/2007 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Goldhorder, in my own defense, I did say: matter what political affiliation they put down on their voting form (see Miller, Zell; Lieberman, Joe). Excellent article by Sen. Gravel, by the way.

I totally understand what you're saying about the Democrats. After all, I voted Nader in 2000 and have been defending that vote ever since, even though the Dems seem to have been bending over backwards to prove Nader's points ever since then.

In the run-up to the 2000 election, the Dems loudly and sometimes forcibly insisted to us Greens, that "You must support our candidate and just voluntarily set aside some of your constitutional rights [such as the right to run for office] because the candidacy of George W. Bush is so horrifying that it constitutes a temporary emergency [which might well go on for decades or forever]. If you just help us 'win' and put us in power, then sooner or later we'll get back to your piddling little electoral issues such as global warming, health care, and energy independence." Then nine months later, the Democrats acted surprised when the Republicans turned around and said, "You must support our President and just voluntarily set aside some of your constitutional rights [such as the right to assemble in protest, freedom from government eavesdropping, or fair public trials] because terrorism is so horrifying that it constitutes a temporary emergency [which might well go on for decades or forever]. If you just help us 'win', then sooner or later we'll get back to your piddling little electoral issues such as the economy and health care."

Perhaps you're right that the Democrats are the ones who actually killed any hope for change, during the 2000 election and its aftermath, by their cowardly insistence upon the "spoiler" meme. Third parties do indeed appear to be well and truly dead in this country right now, for the forseeable future.

However, I still blame the Republicans as the "proximate cause" of the disintegration of the Republic, their signatures are at the bottom of virtually all these Patriot Acts and Executive Orders and so forth. The fact that the Dems have utterly and completely failed their duties as an opposition party -- in many cases supporting the worst excesses -- (while instead diligently and expertly squashing anyone else who wanted to step up to those opposition duties) doesn't let the neocon Republicans off the hook for their more primary guilt in all this.

6/26/2007 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until the United States makes Presidential choices as a result of Parliamentary procedure or instant runoff voting, Arrow's impossibility theorem will rule. This is a point that was utterly lost on Nader.

I for one feel that we suffer greatly as a result of Bush v. Gore.

Thanks, Thomas Daulton, for the Rolling Stone link. I used it verbatim in a comment on another blog.

6/27/2007 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Heldey Bowes.

I'm not sure from your comment whether you are "blaming" Nader for the fact that the 2000 election was so close that we ended up with the Bush vs. Gore decision. I agree that that decision was egregious and set the country down a dark and terrible path, but again, the Supreme Court was the proximate cause, not Nader, and it's also worth remembering that Gore chose a terrible legal strategy in that court case (extremely selective recounting, essentially cherry-picking, when the newspaper studies later confirmed that recounting the entire state would almost certainly have left him a winner).

And also that Gore himself gave up the fight fairly early and extremely obsequiously -- to preserve "stability", in other words "business as usual" -- which is another small piece of evidence proving Goldhorder's point, that the Democrats participate in this stuff as much as the Republicans. During Gore's concession speech, it was very amusing to watch the faces fall, the faces of Gore supporters who had been screaming for two years that George Bush was the Antichrist. Yet again, the disconnect between the hopes of the Left activists and the actions of their leadership was astonishing.

(I think the Gore of 2007 is a changed man and I would certainly strongly consider voting for him if he ran, but I stand by my judgment back in 2000 that he was a bad candidate. Not nearly as bad as Bush, to be sure, but I refuse to vote for somebody whom I think will be, in the net tally, bad for the nation. On the other hand, although I still agree with Nader's stances politically, I didn't think he was the best candidate in 2004, I voted for Kerry [in a swing state by the way], and thus "completely wasted" my vote in 2004, according to the Democrat definition. Although I still like Ralph to this day, I find it highly unlikely that I will vote for him again in the future, simply because there are new, good and younger candidates in the mix now.)

6/27/2007 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...(again sorry to ramble):

relating to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem --

I'm not trying to say that Ralph ran a perfect campaign, there are a lot of mistakes anyone can point to. However, a point that seemed utterly lost on the "spoiler"-accusing Democrats, was that even though third party candidacies are doomed in the American system, they are still a political bargaining chip with which to accomplish political goals.

Surely you've heard the Nader rhetoric many times, that abolition of slavery and various labor rights were originally third-party issues, then picked up by one of the two major parties in order to steal away the third-party voters. (Ralph Nader said several times that Al Gore was welcome to steal away every last Green voter, by adopting any of several environmental or anti-corporate-abuse political planks, but throughout the two-year campaign, Al was very careful not to make even the tiniest move in that direction...) I find Arrow's Theorem too narrow to account for the idea of fielding a losing candidacy in order to persuade others to take up one's own political cause. Unfortunately I think Ralph was right in that the entrenched political parties understand and respond to very little besides money and votes, so if you want to change their course, without the huge bankrolls of the rich or major corporations, then you have to actually, tangibly, in real life, cost them money and votes, or else you get nothing in return except empty rhetoric and broken promises. Over the years Ralph had received many promises from Democrats to act on certain issues, which almost invariably vanished like the morning dew or else were adulterated and compromised past all recognition. For this reason Ralph felt he had to oppose the Democrats vigorously and until the very end, and although I certainly can't agree with every decision he made, I understand the basic motivation.

Ralph felt in 1999 (or earlier) that, for example, Global Warming was a serious and urgent enough problem that it was necessary to hurt the Democrats during one election in order for them to take it seriously in the future. (After eight years with "Mr. Ozone" in the White House and virtually nothing tangible had been accomplished in that respect.) Now today, Al Gore has said [in so many words] that promoting action on Global Warming is more important than his own candidacy for any office, and Al has even hinted that he himself believes himself more effective when working outside the system. By many accounts Al Gore and Ralph Nader treat each other with personal respect when they see each other... so it seems like perhaps some of these key figures are belatedly coming to the conclusions that Nader and his supporters had reached in 1999.

6/27/2007 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have any problem with honest liberalism. I don't have much regard for their economic beliefs but even socialism is looking better than this corporatist/militarist economy we have been running. I think Ralph Nader truly believes in the things he professes to believe in. I don't think he wants to use politics for personal gain or to feel powerful. That is why I admire Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. These are all honest people trying to make intelligent decisions. That being said I don't think voting or political affiliation has anything to do with our problems. Even if we elected Gore...the war with Iraq would have come one way or the other. If not during Gore's first term than after he lost the next election for not doing enough to stop terrorism. All Gore could have done was slow things down. It was a perfect opportunity for our military industrial complex to agitate for war. They haven't had a chance to wage a good war since Vietnam. The public was angry and wanted blood. They have the ear of our corporate media. No way do they allow that opportunity to pass. Gore might have been killed if he tried to stop the Iraq war as president. I read some of Gore's speeches after he left political office. He is well aware our government is not operating under the restraints of the constitution. So it is possible he might have stood on principle but one man did not cause or would have prevented all the problems in our country. Our country is in trouble because our political system broke down sometime ago. I would argue over a hundred years ago and it has steadily grown worse. 9/11 put more strain on a broken system and we are collapsing even faster now. Americans have become dependant on government. They refuse to try to solve problems on their own and in their own communities. That comes from short sighted policies that have increased the power of the federal government in our lives to bring about some kind of elusive utopia. I regret to say that things will not be fixed until there is an economic collapse. I mentioned in a previous post that there is one other way but I don't see it happening. Our politician’s lives would have to be placed in serious jeopardy by a large group or groups of US citizens. That is the only way they would start governing more responsibly. The whole purpose of the two political parties is to give an outlet to the peoples' anger. When things go badly the party in power takes the heat. The party out of power blames everything on the party in power. After the election (to give the disgruntled masses a sense of importance) the new party in power continues the same policies...maybe a bit less belligerent...or they throw the people a bone or two (remember the Bush Refund checks?) to show how much things have changed. The people who are elected to power serve their own greed and have their own agenda.

6/28/2007 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media is bought and paid for and will only promote establishment candidates who will not stop the gravy train for the parasites feeding on our tax dollars. Today you get rich by going to Washington and promoting, selling, or buying favors. Our political parties and voting decides which group of parasites gets fatter quicker. This is not something that is going to be solved by putting a democrat in the Whitehouse. What is worst about the voting the lesser of two evils arguments is simply this... If I have a government with the power to wage a senseless and destructive war and I have elections every 4 years... Sooner or later I am going to have a senseless and destructive war. You are putting a band aid on a wound that needs a hacksaw and a tourniquet. We need to close our 700 foreign military bases and bring our hundreds of thousands of troops stationed abroad home. Apologize for our imperial behavior the last 100 years. And pursue a foreign policy of peaceful trade with all who want it. As that psychopath Madeleine Albright said..."what is the point of having this wonderful military if you don't use it". If we pull back from our hair trigger approach to will be much more difficult to launch stupid wars. We are all just chess pieces to be moved about by our leader’s whims.

6/28/2007 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Goldhorder, I think we are reaching a lot the same conclusions from different points of origin.

This article backs up some of what you say and annoys Democratic activists:

6/28/2007 11:05 PM  
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10/26/2007 4:15 AM  
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10/26/2007 2:03 PM  
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10/26/2007 3:16 PM  
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10/26/2007 3:37 PM  
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10/27/2007 3:15 PM  
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10/27/2007 4:04 PM  
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10/28/2007 10:43 AM  
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10/30/2007 2:14 AM  
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10/30/2007 5:28 AM  
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10/30/2007 9:20 AM  
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10/31/2007 2:32 PM  
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10/31/2007 3:00 PM  

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