Friday, February 19, 2010

America is not broken

It's a stellar moment when The Economist and Charles Krauthammer make the exact same argument. Yet both are writing to day to argue that the problems Obama is facing today in getting some of his agenda approved are not a sign that the American system is broken. Krauthammer reminds us that during Jimmy Carter's presidency, his ineptness led people to decide that America was just simply ungovernable. Then Reagan and Clinton came along and demonstrated that they were able to pass major reforms such as the Social Security reforms put forth by the Greenspan Commission or welfare reform. People stopped thinking that America was ungovernable. And when Bush couldn't get his judicial nominees through Democratic filibusters, no Democrats thought then that the filibuster was an anachronistic tool better abandoned so that the president could achieve his goals. But now, despite a supermajority in the Senate for most of his first year, Obama was blocked in two of his primary goals - passing health care reform and cap-and-trade. And now the left is full of people arguing once again that America is ungovernable.
Indeed, the Senate with its ponderous procedures and decentralized structure is serving precisely the function the Founders intended: as a brake on the passions of the House and a caution about precipitous transformative change.

Leave it to Mickey Kaus, a principled liberal who supports health-care reform, to debunk these structural excuses: "Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama's (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. . . . But in this case there's a simpler explanation: Barack Obama's job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed."

He failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise -- expanded coverage at lower cost -- led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them the political mandate and legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country. The people said no, expressing themselves first in spontaneous demonstrations, then in public opinion polls, then in elections -- Virginia, New Jersey and, most emphatically, Massachusetts.

That's not a structural defect. That's a textbook demonstration of popular will expressing itself -- despite the special interests -- through the existing structures. In other words, the system worked.
And The Economist makes the exact same point in their editorial. They seem to understand that what we are seeing today in Obama's difficulties in passing unpopular policies is exactly what our system was designed to have happen.
This, argue the critics, is what happens when a mere 41 senators (in a 100-strong chamber) can filibuster a bill to death; when states like Wyoming (population: 500,000) have the same clout in the Senate as California (37m), so that senators representing less than 11% of the population can block bills; when, thanks to gerrymandering, many congressional seats are immune from competitive elections; when hateful bloggers and talk-radio hosts shoot down any hint of compromise; when a tide of lobbying cash corrupts everything. And this dysfunctionality matters far beyond America’s shores. A few years ago only Chinese bureaucrats dared suggest that Beijing’s autocratic system of government was superior. Nowadays there is no shortage of leaders from emerging countries, or even prominent American businesspeople, who privately sing the praises of a system that can make decisions swiftly.
It’s alright, Abe

We disagree. Washington has its faults, some of which could easily be fixed. But much of the current fuss forgets the purpose of American government; and it lets current politicians (Mr Obama in particular) off the hook.

To begin with, the critics exaggerate their case. It is simply not true to say that nothing can get through Congress. Look at the current financial crisis. The huge TARP bill, which set up a fund to save America’s banks, passed, even though it came at the end of George Bush’s presidency. The stimulus bill, a $787 billion two-year package, made it through within a month of Mr Obama taking office. The Democrats have also passed a long list of lesser bills, from investments in green technology to making it easier for women to sue for sex discrimination.

A criticism with more weight is that American government is good at solving acute problems (like averting a Depression) but less good at confronting chronic ones (like the burden of entitlements). Yet even this can be overstated. Mr Bush failed to reform pensions, but he did push through No Child Left Behind, the biggest change to schools for a generation. Bill Clinton reformed welfare. The system, in other words, can work, even if it does not always do so. (That is hardly unusual anywhere: for all its speed in authorising power stations, China has hardly made a success of health care lately.) On the biggest worry of all, the budget, it may well take a crisis to force action, but Americans have wrestled down huge deficits before.

America’s political structure was designed to make legislation at the federal level difficult, not easy. Its founders believed that a country the size of America is best governed locally, not nationally. True to this picture, several states have pushed forward with health-care reform. The Senate, much ridiculed for antique practices like the filibuster and the cloture vote, was expressly designed as a “cooling” chamber, where bills might indeed die unless they commanded broad support.

Broad support from the voters is something that both the health bill and the cap-and-trade bill clearly lack. Democrats could have a health bill tomorrow if the House passed the Senate version. Mr Obama could pass a lot of green regulation by executive order. It is not so much that America is ungovernable, as that Mr Obama has done a lousy job of winning over Republicans and independents to the causes he favours. If, instead of handing over health care to his party’s left wing, he had lived up to his promise to be a bipartisan president and courted conservatives by offering, say, reform of the tort system, he might have got health care through; by giving ground on nuclear power, he may now stand a chance of getting a climate bill.
It's strange that a supposed expert on the Constitution like Barack Obama should have so little understanding of how our system is supposed to work.

37 comments:

Ron K said...

"But in this case there's a simpler explanation: Barack Obama's job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed."

I love these excuses and what should have done, bottom line is Washington forgot what their job was, congress's first allegiance is to the American people not the democratic or republican party the the president but to the American people, the bill 2000+ pages of it had very little to do with health reform, or for that matter what was in the best interest of the bulk of the American people. When congress comes up with a bill that places the bulk of the American public first and those in congress also put the American public first instead of their broken ideologies I don't think the bill will have to be sold to the American people it will sell itself.

Jenn of the Jungle said...

I think America is indeed broken. That doesn't mean we are Humpty Dumpty. I think we can be fixed. But it will take a lot of work and leaders who can lead and LISTEN.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

And now the left is full of people arguing once again that America is ungovernable

i didn't click down into your links, but you don't actually substatiate this assertion with any cites in your post. i believe you could find some democrats saying this, but i don't think "government is broken"

indeed, our system has worked so well that we now have a democratic president, large democratic majorities in the house and senate, and conservatives unable to implement any of their millionaire-first and increase of goverment-reading-people's-private-correspondance policies, and reduced to obstructionism and keeping their eyes tightly closed, clicking their heels together, and believing as hard as possible that a republican congress after the midterms is an accomplished fact

Pat Patterson said...

Perhaps reading the links might have been a better idea because The Economist in the first sentence says, "This week Evan Bayh, a senator from Indiana who nearly became Barack Obama’s vice-president, said he was retiring from the Senate, blaming the inability of Congress to get things done." Now I expect an argument on semantics but still seems quite clear that Sen Bayh doesn't think anything, which in itself is nonsense considering how many important bills have been passed, can be accomplished now. Gridlock and ungovernable become the same thing. While Charles Krauthammer's column provides several links to current articles which do indeed argue that it is the system it self that makes the country ungovernable. Of course in Congress speak, Democrat or Republican, that means they can't get their way and why, oh why, can't anybody trust them to do the right thing. But Congress and Pres Obama have manage to triple the deficit and are getting close to war time debts without actually spending those types of amounts on the military.

But to admit to not reading the links and then implying you are not convinced because Betsy didn't spoon feed you abridged versions takes more than a little moxie.

tfhr said...

TV,

With a supermajority in the Senate and control of the House, the Dems failed to pass their Health Care "Reform" and Cap and Trade scams. Are you blaming the Republicans for that? You need to look closer to home and should probably pay attention to what those insignificant people in the flyover states think of those programs before you continue to whine about "obstructionism". Maybe you missed hearing about the warm receptions many Dems received at their "town hall meetings" last year but apparently a lot of Blue Dogs noticed.

Guess you also missed the decision by Obama to seek extensions for surveillance provisions from the USA Patriot Act.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/sep/16/obama-seeks-patriot-act-extensions/

Did you also miss that Eric Holder's Justice Department will defend the law enforcement practice of collecting cell phone location logs - without a warrant?

According to Newsweek:

"Such location "logs" never show up on your monthly cell-phone bill. But federal court records filed over the past year indicate that federal prosecutors and the FBI have increasingly been obtaining such records in the course of criminal investigations—without any notice to the cell-phone customer or any showing of "probable cause" that tracking the physical location of the phone will turn up evidence of an actual crime."

Have you called the ACLU to report Holder and Obama?

LarryD said...

It's not that America is ungovernable, it's that Obama's Administration is not up to the job. Just like Jimmy Carter wasn't up to the job.

Obama filled his Administration with people who, like himself, have had no experience actually running anything. They don't know what they're doing, and it shows.

I don't have anything good to say about the leadership of Polosi and Reid, either. And they don't have have the no experience excuse.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

the Dems failed to pass their Health Care "Reform"

so far. still time yet...

and Cap and Trade scams.

i didn't like it anyway...

Are you blaming the Republicans for that?

no

Guess you also missed the decision by Obama to seek extensions for surveillance provisions from the USA Patriot Act.

no. and i was very aware that even before the election, obama voted (enthusiastically!) for the despicable retroactive immunity for telecoms for when they violated our civil rights by divulging private communications. of course, this unconstitutional action was ordered under the bush administration

so, no, i am perfectly aware that

1) the republican party is not to blame for the inability, so far, of the democratic majority to get its act together. all they have been capable of doing so far is continuing to make themselves even more unpopular that obama or the democrats in congress, a considerable achievement if you ask me. and

2) obama came into office with it well known that he would continue the stalinist invasion of the privacy rights of americans begun under the bush administration

do you defend that last mentioned action, tfhr?

but the subject of betsy's post was the implication that "the left is full of people" etc., etc., and i for one am not one of them. and i meant to add to that that i think that the fact that we now have a crop of democrats who are free to fail or succeed without interference from a group of people who i consider pernicious to civil rights, the small businessman, and the hard working common taxpayer - that is to say, the republican party - shows that democracy continues to function just fine, thanks

by the way, for you, personally, tfhr i meant to recommend a book i am currently reading, The Next 100 Years, by George Friedman. for all of us on the left and the right, it gives a badly needed big picture and some home truths

Tacitus Voltaire said...

"the left is full of people"

so who was cited to support this contention besides the (hardly a leftist!) evan 'the quitter' bayh?

Charles Krauthammer's column provides several links to current articles

links to other links. where does it all end? this gets to be like the urban legend stalwart "this happened to a friend of a friend..."

Tacitus Voltaire said...

You need to look closer to home and should probably pay attention to what those insignificant people in the flyover states think of those programs before you continue to whine about "obstructionism"

i think we heard from the majority of the american people who cared to vote, in the last two elections. i believe these elections were open to the people who you would like to think, incorrectly, that i have contempt for

listen, buster, i am a hard working american taxpayer and small businessman in my mid 50s with a mortgage, and as such i hardly see any difference between myself and any other honest hardworking american, so you can take your implications that i am some kind of elitist snob and stick it in the appropriate location

Pat Patterson said...

The last time TV used the phrase "listen, buster..." was when he was positive that there was a DMV office in Berkeley. Plus it still doesn't sound like TV read the links.

tfhr said...

"listen, buster"?! (It went down hill after that)

TV, you're starting to sound like a middle aged, angry white guy.

I think you asked me about cell phone location logging. My position on who and how access will be granted to those logs is defined by the purpose and need to know. If we're trying to locate a missing child, I don't feel there is a need for a warrant. If we're tracking the movements of an American drug dealer, I want a warrant. If we're tracking a terrorist thought to be carrying a bomb, I don't want to wait for a warrant. Common sense, TV.

As for your tantrum in which you offered a very violent and offensive suggestion, I believe you misunderstood my point, so for the moment I'll disregard the spirit with which you replied as well as the specifics. The "closer to home" reference was with regard to your political affiliation or at least your ideology as most frequently expressed here and your "obstructionism" charge, not your status as an angry, white, middle aged male. Lighten up too. I remember when liberals had a sense of humor. I liked having them around back then but that was before "Progressivism" reemerged. Remember when Jeannine Garafolo was funny? OK, neither do I but that's only because it was soooo long ago. She really was funny once.

I'll check into the reading suggestion but be warned, though I'm averaging a book a week - an increase thanks to my current status as "retired" - my list is long and many of Friedman's hundred years may pass before I get to your book recommendation. I think I recall sitting through a guest speaking engagement he did at the DIAC but I might be mistaken. Anyway, I know I have shared the same opinions with Friedman on certain topics and I'm not unfamiliar with his work.

This last comment isn't completely unrelated to matters discussed in this thread but it may appear that way. Please consider this: Given your background and experience, do you feel that the government would be better able to do your job than you do in your current capacity?

You can answer that if you like or just ponder the possibilities as you search for more ideas or objects to relocate to appropriate or inappropriate locations.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

well, i didn't know that a little strong language in my little pissy fit would cause such pain to your delicate shell-pink ears! :-)

i may be overreacting to all the times i've come home from a 12 hour day helping to make somebody's commercial product only to hear people on t.v. talk about the east and west coasts as full of "elites" who are somehow less "real americans" than the people in the heartland.

If we're tracking the movements of an American drug dealer, I want a warrant. If we're tracking a terrorist thought to be carrying a bomb, I don't want to wait for a warrant.

the problem with this is that it doesn't work that way. first of all, you would have to have already determined that the person is a terrorist. um, how did they figure that out?

actually, the way they do that is to perform sophisticated language processing on large swathes of the cellphone and email communications of all americans and anybody else whose communications pass through our system, trying to find those terrorists in the first place. i am very aware of this since here in silicon valley it is a hot topic and a good way to get a job if you are in the specialty. what they did with the telecoms was to ask for vast portions of american email traffic. only one telecom company refused on the basis that it happened to be illegal

i remember you asking me how anybody could read the health care bills. have you ever tried to read the "patriot" act? i did. that is, i made a stab at it. it is a very large piece of legal language that mostly sounds like "subsection B.12 of house bill 11.234.43, second sentence, paragraph III, will be amended to read "all such entities"" i'm making this up, but you can get on line and find the text of the bill and you'll see that it reads like that and it is essentially impossible to understand without cross-referencing it to the other legislation that it amends

and it basically allows the government considerably more latitude to read and listen to the private communications of americans

look it up, learn all about it, and then tell me how much you like it, eh?

do you feel that the government would be better able to do your job than you do

now, tfhr, you are just not thinking clearly here. i might as well ask you "do you feel that a corporation would be better able to do your job?" both the government and private business are full of people doing their jobs. unless something weird has happened and computer programming is no longer performed by humans, what you are asking me is whether people in the government are better able to do my job than i am. well, there are a lot of people in computer programming that are way smarter than i am, so i'm sure that there are people in the government who might do a better job than me (or "than i" for the grammar nazis).

i know that you hold it as an article of faith that "government" (perhaps i should say "gummint") always does an inferior job of anything than private business.

this is an assertion. prove it.

an increase thanks to my current status as "retired" - my list is long

i'd be interested to hear about what you're reading. i hope to be able to retire when i'm 70, but for the meantime i have no leeway to stop working since the mortgage must be fed...

the Friedman is unusual for me since i usually like to read history.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

i should add, why is it a problem that there are people in the government scanning emails and phone calls for "patterns" that would clue them in to terrorist activity?

keep in mind that even without the "patriot" act, we have considerably less privacy than we ever had. i just keep in mind that anything i type into a computer, and certainly any transaction that takes place on plastic, is not very hard for somebody to read. these days, we just have to live as if we have no privacy

as for the government, i will just take it for granted that for the meantime the "patriot" act is being applied responsibly, and so nobody will flag me if i don't type anything that sounds suspicious.

however, now that this electronic spying infrastructure has been put in place, it should be clear that i will be much easier for somebody to abuse it in the future, if they took it into their heads to do that. who knows - somebody could be abusing it right now...

we learned, years after the fact, that j. edgar hoover bugged martin luther king's bedroom. these days, nobody has any real privacy.

Pat Patterson said...

Unfortunately that story about Hoover left out one salient fact. That the wiretapping was done with the approval of JFK who also wanted summaries of them on is desk as they became available. These taps, probably unnecessary, were also quite legal at that time.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

from the wikipedia article on "patriot" act:

The Act increases the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expands the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadens the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expands the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

The Act was passed by wide margins in both houses of Congress and was supported by members of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Opponents of the law have criticized its authorization of indefinite detentions of immigrants; searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge; the expanded use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.

tfhr said...

TV,

Are you complaining or reiterating what the Obama administration has sought to extend?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

tfhr said...
TV,

Are you complaining or reiterating what the Obama administration has sought to extend?


perhaps i didn't make it clear enough in my previous comments that i seriously object to the obama administration's continued support of these measures

Tacitus Voltaire said...

and how about you, tfhr - do you support measures that allow "searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge; the expanded use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records"??

Tacitus Voltaire said...

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
This was written by Franklin, with quotation marks but almost certainly his original thought, sometime shortly before February 17, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, as published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin (1818). A variant of this was published as:
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
This was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. (1759); the book was published by Franklin; its author was Richard Jackson, but Franklin did claim responsibility for some small excerpts that were used in it.

tfhr said...

TV,

Yes.

Why? Because in the pursuit of those given to violent jihad there may not be time to play by the rules that only you play by - terrorists don't play by our rules. Terrorists exploit our rules. Are we going after a drug dealer with the Patriot Act? No, we're going after a terrorist. The rules are different in war. We went over this with your cell phone log.

Your misapplication of the oft misquoted Franklin words hinges on your apparent inability to distinguish between privacy and liberty.

You may be concerned about the privacy of an individual suspected of involvement in planning an act of violence against hundreds, maybe even thousands of Americans, but I'm concerned that more than liberty and certainly more than privacy may be taken from those same Americans.

Here's an example for your consideration: Najibullah Zazi
You may remember that he once had grand plans to set off a rather large bomb in NYC. That plan started to unravel because the British, no fans of Ben Franklin, read some of Zazi's email and notified the FBI. Here's a link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6529436/British-spies-help-prevent-al-Qaeda-inspired-attack-on-New-York-subway.html

Here's another difference that continues to evade you:

We don't arrest people because they are planning to rob a bank. That's because a crime has not been committed yet. We arrest them after they've robbed the bank. That same sequence of events will not win at war. We will arrest people for planning to blow up an airliner because they are using terror tactics in a war against the United States. Would you prefer that we wait until after each act of terror is carried through before we get started?

Let's give Obama some credit on this issue. I've noticed that he is killing terrorists in Pakistan with air strikes. Were they doing something illegal in Pakistan? Were warrants sworn for their arrest? Were their houses or cars legally searched? Nope. Missile fired. Terrorist killed. That's war.

If that's not enough for you, the next time you see a terrorist headed for the shopping mall with explosives and guns in hand, call the ACLU rapid response team. They can rush to the scene and join you as you hold the doors open for the terrorist while proudly misquoting/misapplying Franklin's words.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

If that's not enough for you, the next time you see a terrorist headed for the shopping mall with explosives and guns in hand, call the ACLU rapid response team. They can rush to the scene and join you as you hold the doors open for the terrorist while proudly misquoting/misapplying Franklin's words.

don't spoil your argument with such idiotic scenarios

just a little fear and you're begging to give up your civil rights!

maybe you don't realize how much this gratifies al quaida

Tacitus Voltaire said...

and, since you think 'privacy' is not a correct interpretation of what franklin had in mind by 'liberty', then, by all means, please tell me what other 'liberties' franklin had in mind that could be given up for security?

You may be concerned about the privacy of an individual suspected of involvement in planning an act of violence against hundreds, maybe even thousands of Americans

is that why we need this?:

searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge

the government is now legally entitled to search YOUR home or business, because somebody told them YOU might be connected with terrorists

but maybe you think your name is "too american" and you look "too normal" to feel that somebody could possibly believe for a second that YOU could be a suspect. no, nobody would search your home or business without a warrant, oh, for sure! and nobody in the government would ever abuse the privilege, i'm equally sure!

Tacitus Voltaire said...

so, what does the disagreement boil down to here?

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


you were so scared by 9/11 that you are willing to give up your consitutional rights

i'm not

Tacitus Voltaire said...

...and it seems you've already made up your mind where you fall out in the "i'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees" issue

just keep it in mind if you ever come across the phrase again...

tfhr said...

TV,

Who's on their knees? You want us to grab our ankles!

I see you're desperate enough to play the race card, the all powerful and all too frequently employed cudgel of the PC left:

"...maybe you think your name is "too american" and you look "too normal" to feel that somebody could possibly believe for a second that YOU could be a suspect."

Political correctness kills. It did at FT Hood, where a jihadist, also a field grade Army officer, carried out a terrorist attack. Given that I was once a field grade and have a name much more unusual and difficult to pronounce than Hasan, your attempt to smear me fails in every regard.

Again, we are at war. That changes everything. Using the same absolutist argument you've employed here with regard to the Patriot Act, then you've really painted the Obama administration into a corner about it's effective counter-terrorist activities in Pakistan, Yemen, etc. We are regularly executing terrorists with Hellfire missiles launched from UAVs. By your standards, that should be deemed as an assassination, a murder. But it's not because it's a war. Once you can clear that hurdle in your mind, you will no longer be helping al Qaeda fight it's war and start helping us to defeat them.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

We are regularly executing terrorists with Hellfire missiles launched from UAVs. By your standards, that should be deemed as an assassination, a murder

uh, no. but trying to change the subject is, i guess, the best strategy you have left.

the fact is, you've made your declaration: you are willing to give up your constitutional rights because somebody told you it would make you more safe

you've chosen living on your knees. face it

Tacitus Voltaire said...

But it's not because it's a war

i notice that americans managed to be at war before without getting scared into giving up their freedoms

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Given that I was once a field grade

you will no longer be helping al Qaeda fight it's war


ok, mr. military professional, let's use our brains here. what is al qaeda trying to accomplish? the tactic they are using is terrorism. the objective of terrorism is to terrify civilian populations. however, this is not the ultimate objective, right? the ultimate objective is to make the united states look scared and weak, so that the support it provides to saudi arabia, and other muslim states that are allied with us, won't look like such a secure backup to the saudis anymore, and ultimately they will feel that they are better off doing what the islamic extremists want instead of being craven client states of "the great satan"

at least that's the strategic objective of al qaeda according to the american military professionals who've explained it in the news reports i've read. perhaps you have some other description of their strategy

now, by my reckoning, by 1) making the american public so terrified that it will supinely accept degradation of constitutional rights, even rights specifically detailed in the constitution, and 2) actually even causing the civil rights of americans to be degraded, would in fact be significant tactical victories for the terrorists

the objective of terrorism is terror. if you don't want the terrorists to win, STOP DOING WHAT THEY WANT BY BEING TERRIFIED

i don't want to live in a country where, every time a bomb goes off, a piece of the constitution is torn up

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Given that I was once a field grade

you will no longer be helping al Qaeda fight it's war


ok, mr. military professional, let's use our brains here. what is al qaeda trying to accomplish? the tactic they are using is terrorism. the objective of terrorism is to terrify civilian populations. however, this is not the ultimate objective, right? the ultimate objective is to make the united states look scared and weak, so that the support it provides to saudi arabia, and other muslim states that are allied with us, won't look like such a secure backup to the saudis anymore, and ultimately they will feel that they are better off doing what the islamic extremists want instead of being craven client states of "the great satan"

at least that's the strategic objective of al qaeda according to the american military professionals who've explained it in the news reports i've read. perhaps you have some other description of their strategy

now, by my reckoning, by 1) making the american public so terrified that it will supinely accept degradation of constitutional rights, even rights specifically detailed in the constitution, and 2) actually even causing the civil rights of americans to be degraded, would in fact be significant tactical victories for the terrorists

the objective of terrorism is terror. if you don't want the terrorists to win, STOP DOING WHAT THEY WANT BY BEING TERRIFIED

i don't want to live in a country where, every time a bomb goes off, a piece of the constitution is torn up

Pat Patterson said...

Americans in time of war have given up some freedoms in every war the US has ever fought. From the Alien and Sedition Acts, the suspension of Habeas Corpus and up to, admittedly most, the Patriot Act. And unlike the other incidents where people were held and prosecuted under the laws, with much crying by the party out of power, it still is a mystery that there have so few claims that an average citizen has been punished and lost any of his rights currently that didn't under the FISA courts. And only in fantasy land would any authority believe that they had enough information to target a suspect merely on the say so of one person. If the president can order the killing of one non-state player then it seems strange that he cannot investigate that same player when information comes to light about some plot or actual attack in the US.

tfhr raises an interesting point that it is more than odd considering all the anachronistic chest beating over the Patriot Act and virtually nothing about Pres Obama's current reliance on targeted assassination which is in clear violation of Executive Order 12333. As usual when it is a Republican in charge it is a constitutional crisis. But when it is a Democrat ordering the missile strike it is beside the point.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

From the Alien and Sedition Acts

despicable and very quickly allowed to sunset

the suspension of Habeas Corpus

this was not unconstitutional (a common error):

Section 9 - Limits on Congress
...
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.


i believe the civil war can safely be classified as a "rebellion"

So you adduce a evidence 1) the most despicable violation of civil rights ever passed by an american president, thankfully done away with by the year 1801 or so, and 2) a thoroughly constitutional measure you mistakenly bring in

any other times the constitution has been contravened or suspended, like we are doing in the "patriot" act to the 4th amendment, because we have been scared into it?

But when it is a Democrat ordering the missile strike it is beside the point.

a missile strike in a foreign country is not a suspension of an article of the constitution. tfhr is arguing that we won't be safe unless we give up some civil rights explicitly guaranteed in the constitution

anything else?

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Americans in time of war have given up some freedoms in every war the US has ever fought.

this is a sweeping statement. i would be interested to see you substantiate it with examples of suspension rights guaranteed in the constitution in "every war the US has ever fought"

Tacitus Voltaire said...

The military refused to follow the writ. Justice Taney, in Ex parte MERRYMAN, then ruled the suspension of habeas corpus unconstitutional because the writ could not be suspended without an Act of Congress. President Lincoln and the military ignored Justice Taney's ruling.

no, i was mistaken. it was unconstitutional since congress has to take action, not the president unilaterally

tfhr said...

TV,

You corrected yourself. You're going to put me out of a job.

Pat Patterson said...

Taney was not acting with the court when he made his decision but was acting as a circuit judge for Maryland. The Supreme Court never heard the case and a claim that Taney ruled it unconstitutional is not accurate as he didn't have that power. But he ended up for being more famous for writing the majority opinion in what is known as the Dred Scott case.
A couple of other examples would be the Sedition Act of 1918 and the detention of what were labeled enemy aliens during the early part of the war. Which only part of which was overturned late in the war while exclusion zones and expulsions were still allowed as well as basing these decisions solely on race. Rationing, censorship, the draft were all things of dubious constitutionality but the American people generally supported these acts though complaining often.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

tfhr said...
TV,
You corrected yourself. You're going to put me out of a job.


oh, i thought you had lost interest after it had been made clear that you admitted that you would rather be scared into giving up your civil rights than stand up to the terrorists like a true lover of freedom and the american constitution

for the rest of your life, when you hear "i'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees", you will remember what choice you stood up for so loudly

tfhr said...

TV,

You're starting to sound unhinged.

I don't feel like my civil rights, my freedom, or my Constitutional rights have been compromised.

I'm a free man in the United States of America. I can protest against the government if I like. I have the right to express my opinions. Despite the efforts of some lefties, I still have the right to own firearms.

Now please tell me what right's I've lost. I see you've been ranting in another thread about the Fourth Amendment being "repealed" by George W. Bush. Please explain.

Oh yeah, and tell me again how I'm a racist because I think my name sounds "too american" and [I] look "too normal" to worry about having my rights violated. I love it when wingnuts run up the racism flag. It's a white flag and checkered flag all at once.