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Messages - rogt

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Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: April 01, 2010, 07:46:34 PM »
Let's try some less controversial examples.

Is Operation Rescue fascist?

Was Timothy McVeigh a fascist?


Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 31, 2010, 09:12:56 AM »
Barack Obama is half black and half white, Kansas I think.  He identifies himself as black. Where he has expressed pride in his white heritage?

I'm not black myself, so I don't know what it's like to grow up (even partially) black in US society.  If you look black, you're 100% black as far as most people are concerned, regardless of your actual percentage.  I'm guessing you're asking the above question facetiously of course :)

As far as Obama being racist goes, come on.  People with a "deep-seated hatred" of people with a certain skin color were doing lynchings and behind-the-car draggings.  When Obama was a kid, that stuff was still happening and it was possible for white people to be (what would now be considered) blatantly racist in polite company.  Again, I imagine somebody who actually grew up black would see it differently than a white person.

Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 31, 2010, 09:02:08 AM »

I also felt that the "birther" movement (heavily egged-on by the talk radio right-wingers) had a fairly racist component to it.  Again, they're not going to come right out and say "aren't you pissed off that a black guy is president?"  But if all you're doing is "simply asking the question" (over and over and very loudly) of whether the black president is *really* American, then you're appealing to racists without having to make any openly, blatantly racist statements.  Not all (or even most) conservatives are racist, but a significant chunk of them are and politicians and media personalities absolutely know it.

I take back my calling Lee Atwater "Republican god", since it would be incorrect to suggest most Republicans agree with him.  To his credit, near the end of his life he expressed deep regret for a lot of the nasty things he did as a political consultant.  It's unfortunate that his proteges who are still operating today haven't come to any such enlightenment.

But back to the subject of the thread, why are none of you willing to call the Hutarees "fascist"?  Or do you guys just want to call Obama and the Dems fascists and have tailored your definition of the term to apply solely to them (and Hitler, Mussolini, etc)?


Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 31, 2010, 07:56:39 AM »

I often hear Rush and others refer to Obama as "that boy king".  Obama is on the younger side in terms of US presidents' age, but he's hardly the youngest.  I think "boy king" term is a reference to when it was common for whites to address blacks as "boy".  Rush and these other clowns are no doubt well aware of the racist hostility no small number of their listeners have for Obama, but since it's not kosher to be seen too directly appealing to this, the coded speech will have to do.

Let's not forget the words of Republican god Lee Atwater regarding the infamous "Southern Strategy":

    Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

    Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

    Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."[7]

Doug, Crafty, was it reasonable or accurate, in your opinions, for Glenn Beck to say (about Obama):

This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.  I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. He has a -- this guy is, I believe, a racist.

Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 31, 2010, 07:39:53 AM »

You saying the Hutaree militia is not "fascist" because they are "quite contrary" to a strong state is BS.  Would they not be perfectly happy with a "strong state" that forced their brand of fundamentalist Christianity on everybody?  Even leaving the Muslisms aside, to call the Democrats "fascist" for passing a completely weak health care reform bill (when ALL other industrialized nations have a much stronger form of it) while consciously avoiding the term for the Hutarees says that you guys pretty much consider only liberals even capable of fascism.  It's difficult to take such a discussion of "fascism" seriously.


Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 30, 2010, 08:02:19 PM »

No time to respond to all your points, but here's my response.

I remember reading the Unabomber manifesto, and IIRC a lot of it was devoted to "the dangers of Lefitsm" and other denunciations of political correctness, etc.  In short, Ted was no left-wing terrorist.

The article I posted does acknowledge that left-wing violence did exist at one time, but nothing they did came even close to an Oklahoma City bombing and very little left-wing violence (let alone murder) has happened since the 1960s. 

I listen to the right-wingers on the radio all the time, and they would be having a field day if this recent incident involved Muslims instead of Christians.  The Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, Sean Hanntiys, etc. would be calling for them to be sent directly to Guantanamo without even a trial.  They've had very little to say about this, and have certainly not called for "profiling" of white, Christian men as potential terrorists.  I can think of many, many examples of the right wingers on talk radio hysterically accusing Obama and the Democrats of all kinds of nasty stuff.  Too many to post here.  I think the author of the column I posted is correct is pointing out that it's only a matter of time before some nut takes them seriously.  No, they don't specifically urge their listeners to do actual violence, but there is a LOT of coded speech that is pretty racist and all but say outright that violence would be justified.  I don't think I'm exaggerating here either.

War crimes charges against Bush & Cheney over Iraq is not likely to happen, but pre-emptive, aggressive war against another nation was officially designated as "the supreme crime from which all others followed" when the Nazis were put on trial in Nuremburg.  Again, not saying this is likely to happen or would even result in a conviction, but I see a legitimate case to made here.  That's not a "crazy" point of view.


Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 30, 2010, 06:54:52 PM »
BBG, you seem rather quick to dismiss this.  Would you have the same attitude about "some asinine plan they didn't get around to executing" if we were talking about a group of Muslims instead?

I just assumed that people so concerned about fascism would have something to say about this.  Especially since their asinine plans apparently included deliberate targeting of LEOs.  Again, is this what you'd be saying if a group of Muslims were the alleged would-be terrorists?

Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism:
« on: March 30, 2010, 05:50:46 PM »
A lot of talk here about theoretical "fascism" from the left, but curiously little to say about a case of actual fascism from the Christian right.

The Hutaree militia and the rising risk of far-right violence

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, March 30, 2010; A25

The arrests of members of a Michigan-based "Christian" militia group should convince doubters that there is good reason to worry about right-wing, anti-government extremism -- and potential violence -- in the Age of Obama.

I put the word Christian in quotes because anyone who plots to assassinate law enforcement officers, as a federal indictment alleges members of the Hutaree militia did, is no follower of Christ. According to federal prosecutors, the Hutaree -- the word's not in my dictionary, but its Web site claims it means "Christian warrior" -- are convinced that their enemies include "state and local law enforcement, who are deemed 'foot soldiers' of the federal government, federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the 'New World Order,' and anyone who does not share in the Hutaree's beliefs."

According to the indictment, the group had been plotting for two years to assassinate federal, state or local police officers. "Possible such acts which were discussed," the indictment says, "included killing a member of law enforcement after a traffic stop, killing a member of law enforcement and his or her family at home, ambushing a member of law enforcement in rural communities, luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then killing him or her, and killing a member of law enforcement and then attacking the funeral procession motorcade" with homemade bombs.

Nine members of the Hutaree were named in the indictment. Eight were arrested during weekend FBI raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana; one suspect remains at large. The group's Web site shows members in camouflage outfits traipsing through woods in "training" exercises. They could be out for an afternoon of paintball, except for the loony rhetoric about "sword and flame" and the page, labeled "Gear," that links to several gun dealers. Along with numerous weapons offenses, the Hutaree are charged with sedition.

The episode highlights the obvious: For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right.

It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are "crazies on both sides." This simply is not true.

There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence. The first big story I covered was the San Francisco trial of heiress Patricia Hearst, who had been kidnapped and eventually co-opted by the Symbionese Liberation Army -- a far-left group whose philosophy was as apocalyptic and incoherent as that of the Hutaree. There are aging radicals in Cuba today who got to Havana by hijacking airplanes in the 1970s. Left-wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives.

But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An anti-globalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.

By contrast, there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, "constitutionalists," tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold "Christian" values. Most of the groups that posed a real danger, as the Hutaree allegedly did, have been infiltrated and dismantled by authorities before they could do any damage. But we should never forget that the worst act of domestic terrorism ever committed in this country was authored by a member of the government-hating right wing: Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

It is dishonest for right-wing commentators to insist on an equivalence that does not exist. The danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction -- the right, not the left. The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day -- and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies -- is calibrated not to inform but to incite.

Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, that their country has been "taken away," that their elected officials are "traitors" and that their freedom is at risk. They have a right to free speech, which I will always defend. But they shouldn't be surprised if some listeners take them literally.

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: October 20, 2007, 11:59:06 AM »
"But I assume you agree that with a cop present, refusal to surrender the dog was not an option."

My question is why a policeman would be there at all? 

In case the hairdresser decided to pull a Crafty and refuse to give up the dog?  :)

ED broke her contract with the Agency

OK then.  So what right to ED or her hairdresser have to bitch about how unfairly they're being treated?  If I rent a car and just give it away to my friend, does the rental agency have no right to take it back because hey, my friend never signed any contract with them?  Your legal reasoning here is not sound IMO.

It's not like ED couldn't have simply gone to the pound and adopted a dog she could pretty much do whatever she wanted with, but she chose to go to this boutique adoption agency where they spend a lot of time trying to find the right homes for their dogs, and naturally they're going to object somebody just giving one of their dogs away to somebody they (the agency) knows nothing about.

That's not to say that all (or even many) adoption agencies are pleasant to deal with.  They can be annoyingly self-righteous and tyrannical, and turn away people who would provide a perfectly good home for a dog because they use the wrong kind of collar or their yard isn't big enough.

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: October 19, 2007, 08:44:54 AM »
I don't know what discussions went on between the agency and ED before this, but I suspect the agency had reason to believe that the hairdresser would not surrender the dog without a police presence.  But I assume you agree that with a cop present, refusal to surrender the dog was not an option.

You do understand that this was a rescue dog that ED adopted and kept for 10 days, and then gave away to her her hairdresser because the dog didn't get along with her cats?  From the agency's POV the dog was given to a family they know absolutely nothing about other than that they're friends of ED, in clear violation of the contract ED signed.

If this were a case of cops (or anybody) showing up at somebody's house to seize a dog they've had for years and is unquestionably theirs, I'd be with you 100%, but that's  not the case here.  I don't know how long this dog was with the hairdresser before being taken back, but it couldn't have been more than a week or so.

Had this hairdresser ever owned a dog before?  If a friend of mine offered to give me a dog she just adopted 1-2 weeks ago, the first question I'd ask is whether that's OK with the agency she got him from.  Or did Ellen just assure her this wouldn't be a problem, assuming no lowly dog adoption agency would dare question the judgment of an A-list celebrity concerning what's an appropriate home for the dog?

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: October 18, 2007, 09:55:08 AM »
I'm not really following this Rog.  Are you saying that there should be a FD here so that the agency gets to respond to EG on her show?

Not necessarily, but IMO the adoption agency should sue Ellen's ass off for damages.  IMHO, Ellen airing this issue (a personal business dispute) on her show is completely inappropriate and defamatory.  Keep in mind that the woman from this adoption agency has received death threats over this, a boycott, etc.

Also, I'm not getting why the hairdresser and family gave up the dog.  Some third part comes to my door wanting my children's dog has got a serious problem.  What kind of parent coughs up their children's dog?  If the agency wants the dog, let them sue.

IIRC from the article, the agency woman had a cop escorting her, so I don't see what choice they had but to comply.

But the fact is that it wasn't that family's dog.  If anybody's to blame for making the kids sad, it's Ellen for making the mistake of giving them the dog in the first place.

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: October 17, 2007, 05:54:52 PM »
I know, this post may be more appropriate for the "political rants" thread...

DeGeneres, 49, who admitted on her show she had not read through the adoption paperwork carefully enough, suggested to Seacrest that the owners of the agency had a vendetta against her. She said she pleaded with them not to take out her mistake on the dog and the family and begged them to just go to the home to evaluate Iggy's new living situation. Instead, she said, the representative entered the house and snatched the dog away.

She said her hairdresser's 11- and 12-year-old daughters were devastated by the loss of the dog, after begging with the agency for three hours to let them keep their pet.

"I thought I did a good thing," an emotional DeGeneres said Tuesday during her show. "I tried to find a loving home for the dog, because I couldn't keep it.

This really &*@^ing burns me.  She admits she didn't thoroughly read the contract she signed, but insists the agency has some kind of beef with her.

The arrogance is just astounding.  Apparently the agency has a specific policy about not adopting dogs to families with children younger than 14 (as if the decision of whether a given dog will do well in a home with small kids is one that just any shmo like her is qualified to make), but as far as Ellen's concerned, those kinds of issues (and abiding by a contract she signed) are just for little people.

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: October 17, 2007, 05:44:26 PM »
Wasn't sure whether this belonged here or the in "Dogs, Wolves, & Canines" thread.

I know that neither Ellen or the Fairness Doctrine are very popular in this forum :), but what are you guys' thoughts about Ellen using however much of her daily nationwide TV show to say whatever she wants about the dog adoption agency that's now receiving death threats?

Not to mention that Ellen gave up on socializing the dog with her cats after *10 days*!?  What a softcore.

Ellen DeGeneres' dogfight continues to intensify.

Marina Baktis, who runs the nonprofit rescue agency Mutts and Moms with business partner Vanessa Chekroun, filed a police report Tuesday night, after receiving death threats in the wake of DeGeneres' tearful on-air plea for the return of her adopted pooch to her hairdresser's family.

The Pasadena Police Department said it was investigating the source of "several threats [made to Baktis'] cell phone and work phone from several angry persons who threatened her life and her property."

"This is horrible. I rescue dogs. I can't believe this," Baktis told Access Hollywood.

"I haven't eaten, I'm sick and I've had heart palpitations."

Mutts and Moms has also been targeted by an Internet-powered call for a boycott, launched by dog-loving DeGeneres fans via Craigslist.

Batkis said DeGeneres' A-list status does not make her exempt from the agency's rules.

"Celebrities, you know, they get preferential treatment. They have lots of money. They go into a restaurant, they get a table. And so you know, this contract was breached. It was breached. So, people need to understand when you enter a binding legal agreement that you can't just go, 'And here you go, I don't want you,' " Batkis told Access Hollywood.

In an exclusive phone conversation with E! News' Ryan Seacrest Wednesday, DeGeneres reiterated her dismay over the dog being taken away and denied she had been deliberately trying to disregard the agency's policies, saying, "The whole situation is surreal."  (Get the full audio of Ryan and Ellen.)

"I will say this: We never filled out an application. We never had a home evaluation," she told Seacrest, indicating the agency was somewhat unpredictable about adhering to its own rules.

Her celebrity status, she said, had nothing to do with it.

"I didn't say you can't come to my home, I didn't say I won't fill out a form. She didn't ask me to," DeGeneres said.

"We're not trying to be anything other than a regular person trying to adopt a dog."

DeGeneres first took to the airwaves sobbing Tuesday, as she recounted the tale of her four-month-old adopted Brussels Griffon mix, Iggy, whom she passed off to her hairdresser after he wasn't getting along with her cats.

Upon learning DeGeneres had relocated the pet without permission—a violation of the agency's adoption policy—a Mutts and Moms representative went to the hairdresser's home with a police escort and seized the dog.

DeGeneres, 49, who admitted on her show she had not read through the adoption paperwork carefully enough, suggested to Seacrest that the owners of the agency had a vendetta against her. She said she pleaded with them not to take out her mistake on the dog and the family and begged them to just go to the home to evaluate Iggy's new living situation. Instead, she said, the representative entered the house and snatched the dog away.

She said her hairdresser's 11- and 12-year-old daughters were devastated by the loss of the dog, after begging with the agency for three hours to let them keep their pet.

"I thought I did a good thing," an emotional DeGeneres said Tuesday during her show. "I tried to find a loving home for the dog, because I couldn't keep it.

"I feel totally responsible for it, and I'm so sorry. I'm begging them to give that dog back to that family. It's not their fault. It's my fault. I shouldn't have given the dog away. Just please give the dog back to those little girls."

However, Mutts and Moms, which has a policy of not working with families with children under 14, has declined to do so.

"[Batkis] doesn't think this is the type of family that should have the dog," attorney Keith A. Fink, who does not represent the owners but was authorized to speak on their behalf, told the Associated Press. "She is adamant that she is not going to be bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world…They are using their power, position and wealth to try to get what it is they want."

DeGeneres' publicist, Kelly Bush, said her client was simply interested in ensuring the dog was in a good and loving home.

"It's very upsetting to hear that someone is getting those kinds of calls," Bush told the AP about the threats directed at Mutts and Moms. "Ellen just wants the dog reunited with the family."

A more composed DeGeneres said as much on her show Wednesday, while renewing her plea for Iggy to be given back to her hairdresser.

"It's become so insane," she said. "The dog just needs to go to the family."

Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues
« on: October 16, 2007, 10:46:11 AM »
Yes, black people can only succeed with the help of paternalistic white liberals and government programs. :roll:

Of course you know I said no such thing...  Just as I'm sure you're not saying that racism is not real.

Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines
« on: October 10, 2007, 08:25:57 PM »
Point taken.  But surely you'll agree that some breeds are more prone to excessive aggression than others.  Some of the sweetest dogs I've ever met were pit bulls or rotties, but I have no doubt that they came from experienced, reputable breeders and received proper training as puppies.  That and their owner made sure his lifestyle allowed for meeting the dog's exercise needs before deciding to have him.

Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
« on: October 10, 2007, 11:00:56 AM »
"Crafty, are you saying that a US withdrawal from Iraq will somehow result in the "death" of the US?"

Although I do think that being driven out of Iraq, as vs. leaving upon enabling a stable situation, would hasten and increase attacks upon the American homeland, that is not my point here.  My point here is that IMHO you analogy is inapt, because here our soldiers die when they get the comeuppance you seem to think the US deserves.

The US military being overrun and slaughtered by enemy forces in Iraq is NOT the same as us acknowledging that there's no point in continuing the war there.  There is pretty much zero chance of the former happening, and the latter is the "defeat" I think should happen.  We are literally the only force keeping the war going at this point.

"The "bullying" I see is us telling Iraqis to run their country the way we want or continue to live under the effective rule of the US military."

No, the bullying is AQ, the Sadr hit squads, the other Shiite hit squads, etc killing the millions of Iraqis who, enabled by American blood, sweat and tears, voted three times in election to choose their government.  AQ has specifically stated that democracy is anti-Islamic and are determined to stop it by any means necessary-- THAT is the bullying.

The Iraqis don't seem to see it that way.  How else do you explain polls showing 70%+ Iraqis in favor of immediate US withdrawal, and 50% or so who now consider armed attacks on US forces to be justified?

"And please, can we all just agree that none of us wants to see more troops killed?"

Actually, NO.  In war more people on one side die when that one side loses than when it wins.  You have plainly stated that you "oppose" (your repeated choice of word) our succcess.  To me the syllogism adds up to more American deaths.

The total US casualty count is now around 3,800, while the Iraqi death toll is estimated at somewhere near 1,000,000.  Even if that number were only 100,000 that's still an order-of-magnitude difference.  So if my position means I want more US troops dead, the same logic would mean you must want an Iraqi holocaust.  Obviously I know you don't, so why we just end this silly pissing contest now?

"Nor does any of us think "the troops" are stupid or incompetent.  This elevation of the US military command to the status of virtual god-kings (a la that VDH article) and the assumption that the interests of the generals and the foot soldiers are synonymous are both fairly new phenomena that the typical WW2 soldier would likely find laughable."

The WW2 Army was a draft military.  This is a professional military and frankly there really are some really impressive people in it.

I'm sure there are, but at what point did it become political heresy to criticize the military?  During WW2 we had generals being called idiots right to their faces on the Senate floor and nobody barked about how "unpatriotic" those senators were.  George Patton slapped two soldiers suffering from "shell-shock" for what he considered cowardly behavior and was almost sent home in disgrace, which many newspapers demanded at the time.

Another big difference I see between WW2 and the current Iraq war is that WW2 had a lot of public support.  Seems like the less public support a war has, the more important it becomes to brand any criticism of it as unpatriotic or downright treasonous.

Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
« on: October 09, 2007, 02:49:26 PM »
Woof Roger:

My I suggest a reread?  The question presented was not "Why are they coming here?".  The question presented was "Why do the conditions that push them here exist?". 

This seems to me an excellent question.

OK, so why is Mexico poor?  For that matter, why is any country poor?

Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« on: October 09, 2007, 02:47:34 PM »
Ulitmately, no.


IMO there is a profound disconnect in the Arab thinking about all this.  They put themselves in a frenzy to wipe out Israel,

How exactly did they "put themselves" in such a frenzy as you see it?  It's all about them just hating Israel for no reason?

Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« on: October 09, 2007, 01:53:41 PM »
We (The US) are not hated by much of the muslim world because of Israel, Israel is hated because it's a part of us (western civilization). Israel is hated because they dare to be free of islamic domination. They are hated because of their success. They are hated because of their strength.

You don't think their treatment of the Palestinians has at least something to do with it?

Politics & Religion / Re: Fox interview
« on: October 09, 2007, 11:37:25 AM »
Why is no one discussing why Mexico can't do more to make the way of life better in Mexico.  How about creating new jobs there?   Again, why is it conditions are so bad in Mexico that so many want to come here?  How about that?

Maybe because it's a poor country?  Wouldn't you want to come here if you were in their shoes?

I wouldn't call opposition to illegal immigration "racist" by definitely, but that doesn't mean there aren't a LOT of racists on that bandwagon.

Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines
« on: October 09, 2007, 09:42:23 AM »
Damn, now that's a good-looking dog!

My wife and I went to the Berkeley animal shelter to see about adopting a dog (we already have a shih tzu, see my avatar), and 90% of the dogs they had were Pit Bulls or Staffordshire Bull Terriers.  I wouldn't be against getting one of these if we had a bigger house and the dog was not bred for aggression.  Unfortunately though, the latter doesn't seem to be the case most of the ones at the shelter.  It really sucks that there are so many people out there breeding dogs that either don't know what the hell they're doing or are specifically breeding for undesirable qualities (like aggression).

Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
« on: October 09, 2007, 09:15:11 AM »
Crafty, are you saying that a US withdrawal from Iraq will somehow result in the "death" of the US?

GM, you know as well as I do that Saddam was just as much a "nightmarish tyrant" during the time when we supported him as he was when we removed him from power, and that there are plenty of other "shattered nations" we could care less about rebuilding.  So these simply cannot be the real reasons we're in Iraq, although they sound good to people who like the idea of the war and/or don't particularly care why we're there.

The "bullying" I see is us telling Iraqis to run their country the way we want or continue to live under the effective rule of the US military.

And please, can we all just agree that none of us wants to see more troops killed?

Nor does any of us think "the troops" are stupid or incompetent.  This elevation of the US military command to the status of virtual god-kings (a la that VDH article) and the assumption that the interests of the generals and the foot soldiers are synonymous are both fairly new phenomena that the typical WW2 soldier would likely find laughable.

Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues
« on: October 09, 2007, 08:53:02 AM »
Too much in that article to give a full response to, but I'll pick a couple of parts.

In his dissent from the court's approval of the use of race in law-school admissions, he quoted Frederick Douglass: "If the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!" Justice Thomas observed: "Like Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators."

A reasonable person might take those statements to mean that if a black person gets a chance to achieve and fails, then it's his own damn fault.  Clarence's (pretty cynical) interpretation is that blacks shouldn't consider themselves entitled to even a chance.

Mr. Yoo is a professor at the Law School of the University of California at Berkeley, and a former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Thomas

Mr. Yoo is also the author of several memos defending torture and arguing for essentially un-checked power of the executive branch while working for the Justice Department under George W. Bush.

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 07, 2007, 04:12:22 PM »
America is bullying al qaeda in Iraq?

America is bullying Iraqis in Iraq.  Iraqis who had nothing to do with AQ and surely hated Saddam.  But they see their friends and family members getting killed, and all of a sudden AQ sounds a lot more appealing to them.  What a great accomplishment of ours.

Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 07, 2007, 02:08:36 PM »

October 7, 2007
Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led
Andrew Sullivan

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented by the far left or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all, they train captives to lie about this stuff, don’t they? Bottom line: I trusted the president in a time of war to obey the rule of law that we were and are defending. And then I was forced to confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America’s treaty obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture, and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to Americans.

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were apparently more dangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom Americans fought and defeated without resorting to torture. The decision to enter what Dick Cheney called “the dark side” was made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no idea how to do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods US soldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets or Vietcong.

Classic torture techniques, such as waterboarding, hypothermia, beatings, excruciating stress positions, days and days of sleep deprivation, and threats to family members (even the children of terror suspects), were approved by Bush and inflicted on an unknown number of terror suspects by American officials, CIA agents and, in the chaos of Iraq, incompetents and sadists at Abu Ghraib. And when the horror came to light, they denied all of it and prosecuted a few grunts at the lowest level. The official reports were barred from investigating fully up the chain of command.

Legally, the White House knew from the start that it was on extremely shaky ground. And so officials told pliant in-house lawyers to concoct memos to make what was illegal legal. Their irritation with the rule of law, and their belief that the president had the constitutional authority to waive it, became a hallmark of their work.

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We were through the looking glass.

After Abu Ghraib, some progress was made in restraining these torture policies. The memo defining torture out of existence was rescinded. The Military Commissions Act was crafted to prevent the military itself from being forced to violate its own code of justice. But the administration clung to its torture policies, and tried every legal manoeuvre to keep it going and keep it secret. Much of this stemmed from the vice-president’s office.

Last week The New York Times revealed more. We now know that long after Abu Ghraib was exposed, the administration issued internal legal memos that asserted the legality of many of the techniques exposed there. The memos not only gave legal cover to waterboarding, hypothermia and beating but allowed them in combination to intensify the effect.

The argument was that stripping a chained detainee naked, pouring water over him while keeping room temperatures cold enough to induce repeated episodes of dangerous hypothermia, was not “cruel, inhuman or degrading”. We have a log of such a technique being used at Guantanamo. The victim had to be rushed to hospital, brought back from death, then submitted once again to “enhanced interrogation”.

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase “enhanced interrogation technique”. By relying on it, the White House spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that the administration strongly opposed torture and that “any procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful”.

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Versch�rfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney’s arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform. They didn’t qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn’t be abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of torture as defined under US and international law: “The court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . .”

The definition of torture remains the infliction of “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” with the intent of procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides. The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is how far we’ve come. And this fateful, profound decision to change what America stands for was made in secret. The president kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own administration.

Ever since, the United States has been struggling to figure out what to do about this, if anything. So far Congress has been extremely passive, although last week’s leaks about the secret pro-torture memos after Abu Ghraib forced Arlen Specter, a Republican senator, to proclaim that the memos “are more than surprising. I think they are shocking”. Yet the public, by and large, remains indifferent; and all the Republican candidates, bar John McCain and Ron Paul, endorse continuing the use of torture.

One day America will come back– the America that defends human rights, the America that would never torture detainees, the America that leads the world in barring the inhuman and barbaric. But not until this president leaves office. And maybe not even then.

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 07, 2007, 12:57:48 PM »
Woof Doug,

Here's how I see it.  Let's say a good friend of mine whom I've known my whole life is behaving like a bully and as a result, not very many people like him.  Then one day he starts a fight with somebody whose ass he's convinced he can kick no problem, but that guy turns out to be a lot tougher than he thought and now it looks like he's the one about to get his ass kicked.  I think bullying is wrong and I hate it, but every time the bully succeeds in shaking somebody down or beating them into submission, it only reinforces the idea (in his mind) that bullying is OK because it gets him what he wants.  He's my friend, so I won't intervene on his would-be victim's behalf, but if he won't (or can't) figure it out on his own that bullying is wrong, then it stands to reason that getting his ass kicked is the only way he'll get the message.  JMHO.

I really don't want to start another debate on abortion and/or gay marriage, since it's unlikely that you and I will agree.  I have no problem with somebody thinking that abortion is murder or that marriage is a special relationship between a man and woman, but I do have a problem with people justifying laws against X, Y, or Z simply because the Bible (or their interpretation of it) says they're wrong.

FWIW, I agree with the last paragraph of your post.  IMHO, the "civil union" (whether it's between two men, two women, or a man and woman) should be the only relationship recognized by the government.  If people want to designate "marriage" as a sacred institution exclusive to a man and woman, I have no problem with that as long it confers no additional legal rights that would be denied to same-sex couples.


Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 07, 2007, 10:18:52 AM »
With all due respect Marc, don't give me that crap.

As far as I can see, you guys are the ones who want to keep the troops in harm's way (thus guaranteeing that some will be killed).  Why don't you explain to me how this is "supporting" them?

If this country had as many gays, S&M fetishists, etc. as it has Christians and these people were trying to impose their views on everybody the way a lot of Christians are (i.e the equivalents of school prayer, banning abortion, forbidding gays from marrying, etc.) , I'd have just as much of a problem with it. 

Tom, you know I respect you and your beliefs (even if I don't share them), but your statement about my "intolerance" towards Christianity is a little silly.  Christianity is by far the dominant religion in this country.  When you're the group that's basically in charge, you don't really need tolerance, do you?

Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 07, 2007, 10:03:57 AM »
GM, I don't know exactly how our SC decided it, but they have clearly decided that all prisoners in US custody are entitled to GC protections.  And this comes from one of the most conservative courts we've had for a long time.

To me this seems pretty black and white.  Are we (as Bush claims) a nation that respects the "rule of law" or aren't we?

Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 06, 2007, 05:16:29 PM »
Same as any other prisoner captured on a battlefield. 

This idea that AQ prisoners are "enemy combatants" (and therefore not entitled to GC protections) was 100% made up by the Bush administration and has no standing under international law.  Even our own Supreme Court has ruled that all prisoners in US custody fall under the GC and are entitled to those protections against torture and abusive treatment.

Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 06, 2007, 03:03:15 PM »
I think you're reading too much into it. What international law are you alleging is being violated?

The Geneva Conventions.

I know it may seem nit-picky to focus on this single word in Bush's statement, but I don't think it's a small matter here.  What exactly is meant by "international obligation"?  Is Bush willing to swear on a Bible that our interrogation methods are fully compliant with "international law"?  I doubt it.

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 06, 2007, 12:49:45 PM »
If you feel the war is wrong and is actually hurting your country, absolutely.

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 06, 2007, 11:22:01 AM »
In short, I'd say it means "loving your country".  That's not the same as "my country, right or wrong!" which is the interpretation many right-wingers have chosen to adopt.  For them it's not so much about loving their country (obviously there are plenty of things about it they don't love) as being able to cast their political opponents as hating it.

Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 06, 2007, 11:17:38 AM »
Come on GM.  Consider that every public statement Bush (or any US president) makes is going to be heard all over the world.  Given the current political climate (especially around the issue of torture), the exact wording of any statement he makes is critical. No way Bush's speechwriters just didn't see a meaningful difference between "international obligation" and "international law".

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 06, 2007, 09:53:56 AM »
Woof Tom,

It's not exactly a secret that SF is a very liberal city and that a lot of it's residents are against the war, so I don't exactly buy all the shock and outrage from right-wingers.  I often feel like these incidents are almost deliberate setups to give them an excuse to bash SF as an America-hating, troop-hating city.  But that said, I don't see what the big deal would have been about letting the Marines film a commercial here.

You guys don't sound like you actually read the last sentence in the above.  Take that to mean that I do not agree with the decision to not let them shoot the commercial here.

No, I don't think this was a deliberate setup to make SF look bad.  My real point is that the right-wingers see SF as the embodiment of just about everything they consider wrong with America, and will jump at any chance to bash it as such.

IMO, if a lot of right-wingers consider themselves "patriotic" it's because they have a pretty (IMO) messed-up idea of what that word means.


Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods
« on: October 06, 2007, 09:17:48 AM »
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

This article left out the very next line of Bush's announcement, which was "We stick to US law and our international obligations."

The choice of the words "international obligations" instead of "international law" is significant.

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 04, 2007, 09:52:46 AM »
Woof Tom,

It's not exactly a secret that SF is a very liberal city and that a lot of it's residents are against the war, so I don't exactly buy all the shock and outrage from right-wingers.  I often feel like these incidents are almost deliberate setups to give them an excuse to bash SF as an America-hating, troop-hating city.  But that said, I don't see what the big deal would have been about letting the Marines film a commercial here.

To the point about the FSF, a lot of people would argue that you shouldn't bring kids to a DB gathering because of safety issues or that it "sends the wrong message" that violence is cool (and we all know it is!).  Either way, I don't want a bunch of pacifists (or religious, right-wing types) dictating what's appropriate or not appropriate for my kids to see.

I hear a lot of talk from you guys about how mean and intolerant the "Islamofasicts" are in their countries, but how much different are your attitudes when you're faced with something that makes you a little uncomfortable?   :-D


Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 03, 2007, 09:06:37 AM »
What were the exact reasons given for why the Marines weren't allowed to film?

Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 02, 2007, 07:22:44 PM »

I've been to a lot of events like this myself, so I'm pretty used to them and it always cracks me up to read the conservatives barking about it.  Although to be fair, I can understand how sex (and people pissing on each other) in public is pretty over-the-top even by the standards of people who don't consider themselves particularly prudish.

I guess my biggest issue with the MM link is the insinuation that whatever "immoral" stuff you see at the FSF is exclusively (or even primarily) from gays.  I can assure you the gay:straight ratio was not huge and the straights were just as into it.  There are also plenty of gays who wouldn't be caught dead there.

Like I said, not for everybody.  But guys with the kind of hobbies we (DB types) do have no business dissing these people for theirs.  :)


Politics & Religion / Re: The left's family values
« on: October 02, 2007, 06:13:40 PM »
Couldn't open that link, but I am proud to say I was actually there on Sunday.  Not everybody's cup of tea to be sure, but let's just say that people who like to hit and be hit with big sticks would not exactly feel uncomfortable there.   :-D

Oh, now I could open the link.  The idea that "gay leaders" (whoever that is) should prevent kids from attending is pretty silly.  For one, there is no "admission" to the fair per se, as anybody can pretty much walk into the blocked-off area anytime they want.  If parents want to bring kids though, then clearly they're responsible for explaining to them what exactly they're seeing.  Despite all the kinky sex stuff going on there, I think a kid by himself has more to fear at a typical baseball game than at the Folsom Street Fair.

GM, maybe you ought come check it out yourself sometime!

Just happened to catch this on my "dog brothers" Google news search.


Granada Takes on Four Titles from Original Productions

LONDON, September 25: Granada International has acquired worldwide distribution rights to four new factual programs from Original Productions: Twister Sisters, Backyard Nation, Our Lives: Dog Brothers and Our Lives: Disappeared.

The 6x1-hour Twister Sisters follows partners in the Twister Sisters Tornado Tour Company in Minneapolis as they head out on the road for their annual pilgrimage in search of the biggest and most destructive tornados on earth.

The 4x1-hour Backyard Nation is the ultimate backyard makeover show, which uses $100,000 in labor and materials to provide lucky homeowners with their ultimate fantasy in over-the-top backyard designs.

The one-hour special Our Lives: Dog Brothers explores the world of underground fight clubs. Twice a year, members from all over the world attend a tribal ritual they call “The Gathering of the Pack,” which is an intense day of head-to-head combat. They wear no protective padding or clothing, other than gloves and a thin fencing mask, and there are no rules, no judges, no referees and no trophies.

 Another one-hour special for sale at MIPCOM is Our Lives: Disappeared. This factual crime show reveals the forgotten true stories of missing children and their families. As the families share their touching stories, the program hunts for clues and memories.

 Emmanuelle Namiech, Granada’s director of acquisitions and co-productions, said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with Original Productions. An independent company that always finds the most original aspects of our world today and captures them in the most creative and entertaining way for TV viewers.”

© WSN INC. No part of this article can be used, reprinted, copied or
stored in any medium without the publisher's authorization.

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: September 25, 2007, 09:03:13 AM »
Woof GM,

Perhaps you can point to some specific parts of that report you consider absolutely fatal to whatever argument you think I'm making?

I only skimmed the report (I have a full-time job), and I did see one part where they state clearly "The Panel has not been able to conclude with absolute certainty whether the Killian documents were forgeries".  It goes on to say that Rather took them to be authentic based on the authenticity of a signature, and was responsible for ensuring their authenticity before reporting them as fact.  It's basic conclusion is that Rather is guilty of shoddy reporting because he was in a rush to report the story first.

Should be an interesting court proceeding.


Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: September 25, 2007, 12:04:45 AM »
Read the guy's blog posts, and all I can say is if that's all CBS went on, they don't stand a chance in court.

Did any known authorities on document forgery agree with his conclusions and state so publicly?  Did the Bush administration itself officially make this claim?

Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
« on: September 24, 2007, 01:49:26 PM »
I'm curious to see what actually comes out in court during this lawsuit.

First off, it should be acknowledged that while the supposedly forged documents show that Bush didn't even fulfill his service requirements, the evidence of Bush evading the draft by using family connections to get into the Texas Air National Guard was overwhelming even without them.  The attack on CBS sought to make those documents the central issue and thus avoid the substantive (and proven) claim that Bush used family connections to get out of the draft.

Rather claims that the network-appointed "Independent Review Panel" investigating his reporting was extremely biased and in fact never even determined whether or not the forgery claim was true.  I assume his lawyers will demand that CBS produce their evidence that the documents were forgeries.  If it turns out that CBS fired a long-time veteran journalist solely on the word of some right-wing blogger claiming the documents were produced by Microsoft Word, CBS is basically screwed.


Who here thinks the founding fathers would be OK with blacks not being slaves?  ;)

Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
« on: September 19, 2007, 07:27:28 PM »
Blackwater and other companies (Blackwater is the biggest, but far from the only) still fall under US legal jurisdiction. You can be prosecuted for acts far outside America's borders in federal court. Most American contractors would not consider themselves "mercenaries", as they aren't selling their skills to the highest bidder but would only work for the US State department or other USG entities in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Good point.  I would agree that this is an important distinction.

Woof GM,

I certainly won't defend FDR's internment of Japanese Americans, but how do you suppose you would have felt about it had you been around back then?  Are you saying you would've opposed it?  Or would you have been one of the people accusing it's opponents of risking our security for "political correctness" (or whatever term they would have used back then)?  It's likely that our previous experience with internment is the only reason Bush hasn't ordered something like it today.

There are a few things Bush has done that are pretty well beyond what any other wartime president has ordered, but above all I would argue that establishing secret (and not-so-secret) prisons outside the jurisdiction of US laws solely for the purpose of torturing "suspects" (who have no means of challenging their detention or even letting anybody know they're there) is worse than our internment of Japanese Americans.


Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
« on: September 19, 2007, 06:12:10 PM »
Woof Tom,

I may disagree with the war itself, but the members of the US military fighting over there are getting paid regular military salaries and can be said to be (whatever the term means to the individual) "serving their country".  They (at least nominally) have to respect whatever US military code of conduct there is and international law that applies to members of a nation's military.

OTOH, BW is essentially a mercenary force of guys risking their necks solely for profit (presumably they're getting paid a LOT more than they would be getting from Uncle Sam) and (I'm guessing) is not bound by many of the restraints (again, at least nominally) to which US troops are subject.

I'm not saying that BW "contractors" don't become just as dead as US troops when they get shot, or that them getting killed is a good thing, but I have a hard time having any real sympathy for them.  In short, IMHO "support the troops" does not apply to BW.


The difference I see between W and Lincoln/Roosevelt is here:

The American people know better today than during the Civil War and World War II that Lincoln and Roosevelt, in [Arthur] Schlesinger's words, regarded 'executive aggrandizement as but a means to a great end, the survival of liberty and law, of government by, for, and of the people,' and that 'they used emergency power, on the whole, with discrimination and restraint. . . .' We are unlikely to come to think of President Bush in this way, for he has not embraced Lincoln's and Roosevelt's tenets of democratic leadership in crisis."

Would you honestly characterize Bush's exercise of emergency war powers as "with discrimination and restraint"?


'The Terror Presidency' by Jack Goldsmith
A one-time insider details the Bush administration's legal deliberations on terrorists and presidential power.
By Tim Rutten
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 19, 2007

On the long shelf of books written from inside President George W. Bush's administration, none is more fundamentally significant, nor as challenging to the preconceptions of left and right, as Jack Goldsmith's "The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration."

Goldsmith, now a law professor at Harvard University, is one of those rare legal scholars who write with unforced clarity. He is also a committed philosophical conservative in the American tradition, deferential to precedent and custom, reverential toward democratic institutions as expressed in the Constitution and deeply learned in the history of presidential power exercised in the face of wartime exigencies.

That such a man could survive only eight months inside the Bush administration is the most severe indictment of this government's conduct yet leveled.

Goldsmith, then on leave from the University of Chicago law school, was serving as legal advisor to the Defense Department in October 2003 when he was asked to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the White House on the legality of the president's proposed actions. Goldsmith was a surprise choice for the post, and his name surfaced only after conservative legal scholar John Yoo's nomination was vetoed by then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, who distrusted Yoo as too close to the White House and, particularly, to Vice President Dick Cheney's staff.

At the time of his own nomination, the administration's inner circle knew little of Goldsmith beyond that he was a conservative -- often linked mistakenly in scholarly publications with his then-friend Yoo.

There were, however, significant differences in their legal analysis of presidential wartime powers, an issue that preoccupies this administration. Yoo believes the chief executive's wartime powers derive from a so-called "unitary theory" of executive powers and are inherent in the office. There are no serious scholars of the Founders and their era who share Yoo's views on this issue.

Goldsmith, by contrast, has long been concerned -- from a conservative perspective -- with the potential infringements of international agreements on American popular sovereignty. He also has read and reflected deeply on the wartime presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. While readers may differ from the conclusions he draws concerning those presidents and their wartime conduct, his arguments are clear, formidable and authoritative.

All of this quickly made Goldsmith anathema inside the Bush White House. By the time he resigned as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he had withdrawn more legal opinions rendered by his predecessors than all previous counsels combined. Among those were Yoo's now-infamous memos justifying the use of torture to interrogate suspected terrorists. As Goldsmith writes, he came to believe those opinions rested on legal foundations "sloppily reasoned, overboard, and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the president."

One of several crucial areas illuminated by this book is the role the Bush administration and, particularly, Cheney have found for a relatively small cadre of zealots, who have acted as enablers for an unprecedented expansion of presidential powers that has been characterized as conservative but is in fact authoritarian. Yoo, of course, is one of these, and so too is Cheney's former legal counsel, now chief of staff, David Addington.

When Goldsmith went to the White House to deliver his first opinion as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he argued that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the conduct of occupying powers, did in fact cover the U.S. treatment of Iraqi insurgents. Addington exploded, "The president has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections. You cannot question his decision."

On another occasion, in spring 2004, Goldsmith was asked to evaluate an "important counterterrorism initiative." When he told the White House that "the Justice Department could not support the initiative's legality," Addington reacted "in disgust," snapping, "If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands."

Still, in his entirely measured way, Goldsmith muses that "Addington was. . . not on entirely thin ice in thinking that President Bush, like Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, had the power under the Constitution to do what was necessary to save the country in an emergency. But Addington took this idea further than Roosevelt and Lincoln" in his categorical assertion that Congress never need be consulted by the executive:

"Lincoln claimed and exercised similar emergency powers, but he too was sensitive to Congress' prerogatives and constitutional propriety. He invoked the emergency power to exercise powers reserved for Congress. But he did so only until Congress could meet in session and, at Lincoln's invitation, either ratify or reject his actions.

"Addington had no such instincts. To the contrary, long before 9/11 he and his boss had set out to reverse what they saw as Congress' illegitimate decades-long intrusions on 'unitary' executive power. . . . This underlying commitment to expanding presidential power distinguishes the Bush Administration from the Lincoln and Roosevelt administrations. . . . Vice President Cheney and David Addington -- and through their influence, President Bush and Alberto Gonzales --. . . shared a commitment to expanding presidential power that they had long been anxious to implement."

Goldsmith concludes that Bush's "accomplishments will likely always be dimmed by our knowledge of his administration's strange and unattractive views of presidential power. The American people know better today than during the Civil War and World War II that Lincoln and Roosevelt, in [Arthur] Schlesinger's words, regarded 'executive aggrandizement as but a means to a great end, the survival of liberty and law, of government by, for, and of the people,' and that 'they used emergency power, on the whole, with discrimination and restraint. . . .' We are unlikely to come to think of President Bush in this way, for he has not embraced Lincoln's and Roosevelt's tenets of democratic leadership in crisis."

The rhetorical impulse is to end on that quote, congenial as it is to the reviewer's own opinions on the matter. Goldsmith's entire approach to these vital questions, however, is a rebuke to the narrowly ideological or merely rhetorical impulse and all the props of zealotry that have become central to our politics.

"The Terror Presidency" is an important book -- and a genuine service to the national interest -- on several levels, none more pressing than its implicit demand for a sober consideration of the current historical moment in all its complexity. As Goldsmith said in a recent interview:

"Usually the restrictions on liberties during wartime are temporary. The fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates may last a long time. As a country we need to figure out a way to give the presidency the extraordinary authorities it needs to keep us safe, while at the same time minimizing unnecessary intrusion on our liberties. That is, of course, easier said than done."

Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
« on: September 19, 2007, 03:17:19 PM »
From what I understand, BW is not operating under "diplomatic immunity" as the term is understood under international law, but under this "Order 17" that was adopted by the Coalition Provisional Authority back in the early days of our occupation:

"CPA Order 17 granted all foreign contractors operating in Iraq immunity from "Iraqi legal process," effectively granting immunity from any kind of suit, civil or criminal, for actions the contractors engaged in within Iraq."

So it's not clear what (if any) legal recourse the Iraqi government has if Bush decides that BW should stay there. 

The Iraqi government still wouldn't be able to criminally charge any members of BW if they were operating under diplomatic immunity, but they would at least be able to order them expelled from the country.

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