Will Republican Voters Grow Spines in 2006?

Dubya posting his lowest poll numbers ever? Why, goodness, why would that be?

There’s a saying out there known as the Napoleon-Clarke Law which states, in a twist on Arthur C. Clarke’s comment on technology, that “any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” Bush’s administration has been practicing advanced incompetence for a while, of course, and while I’ve been of the opinion that Bush has been satisfied with being incompetent while it’s been other Republican leaders who have gone straight over into malice, if the President did indeed authorize the leaks of classified information, we can pretty much say that incompetence not the least of his sins.

I wrote this administration off as a total loss years ago, so I can just about honestly say there’s no incident of power-mongering maliciousness from it that would totally surprise me. I do feel some measure of sympathy for the conservatives and Republicans who are finally having to recognize that this administration is neither particularly conservative nor Republican in its methods or practices, but is rather merely interested in a constitutionally-adverse interpretation of power, and passing on indebtedness to future generations for tax cuts today. What one wonders is whether these regretful conservative and Republicans will do the morally correct thing in November, 2006, which is to hand at least one branch of the Congress to the Democrats so that they may act as a check on Bush for the remainder of his term, either by voting Democrat (which may be too much to ask, frankly), or simply by withholding their vote from Republican candidates.

But that would require Republican voters to grow spines, and let’s just say I’m not optimistic about that. If the modern Republican party has succeeded in anything, it has been in transforming its members into the human equivalent of rats at the feeder bar, jamming their buttons down with the unthinking mantras of “Democrats Don’t Have Values” or “The Other Guys Would Be Worse,” as if much of anything could be worse than the “values” that this administration has displayed. The fact that the modern GOP can get so many of its voters to elect people whose politics are so manifestly divergent from their party’s traditional positions shows where its focus truly lies, and how indoctrinated and/or uncritical modern Republican voters are. The Democrats also prize feeder-bar voters, of course. But they’re not currently wrecking the joint.

Anyway, I don’t want a clean sweep of Democrats; one house of Congress will be fine to take the edge off this administration. God knows it needs it. God knows we need it.

121 thoughts on “Will Republican Voters Grow Spines in 2006?

  1. Sadly I have basically zero confidence that the Democrats will be able to accomplish that even with the current situation. It’d be nice (in the sense of shutting down the government so they can’t be actively stupid, not in the sense of putting a capable government in charge) if it happens, but I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Yes, that Democrats have an unerring ability recently to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is another issue entirely. Hopefully they’ll get over it.

  3. Quote: “But that would require Republican voters to grow spines, and let’s just say I’m not optimistic about that.”

    Nice. Good to see you don’t paint half the country with one stroke of the brush… oh… wait…

    Its one thing to get fired up, but do you really think that rhetoric like that will ever actually win votes? I can see it now: “He just called me spineless, I’m gonna listen to him now!!!”

    If there is one thing I’ve learned trying to get people politically active/involved in many causes (local and national) is that they: (1) Hate being talked down to, (2) don’t like being called names, and (3) don’t like being told what to do. It is just human nature. It could be something so small, like building a park or a community center, to huge things like wars, but in all cases, human nature wins through.

    The general attitude of “oh they are stupid mouth breathers who just follow” just doesn’t win elections.

    *sigh*

    Everyone just talks past each other.

  4. hmm so should I vote for the party that promises to shrink government but doesn’t or should I vote for the party that promises to grow government and does?

    Anyway sometime in 2002 I promised myself I would not vote for a democrat for at least 20 years…but I might vote for a libertarian. I should look at the record of my house representitive and then decide. Not all the republicans have gone so quitly into Bush’s night.

    When it comes to the my Senator I am voting republican…there is not a chance in hell I would not give the most viable candidate my vote against the likes of Patty Murry.

    To your remarks about “not being bad as the other guy” and “Yes, that Democrats have an unerring ability recently to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is another issue entirely.”

    My reaction is that that all the middle of the road democrats have been beaten out by republicans and all that we see now are the shrill, the scary or both. Its not just that current democrats are worse then the other guys, its that they are down right 1984 scary.

  5. hmm so should I vote for the party that promises to shrink government but doesn’t or should I vote for the party that promises to grow government and does?

    Anyway sometime in 2002 I promised myself I would not vote for a democrat for at least 20 years…but I might vote for a libertarian. I should look at the record of my house representitive and then decide. Not all the republicans have gone so quitly into Bush’s night.

    When it comes to the my Senator I am voting republican…there is not a chance in hell I would not give the most viable candidate my vote against the likes of Patty Murry.

    To your remarks about “not being bad as the other guy” and “Yes, that Democrats have an unerring ability recently to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is another issue entirely.”

    My reaction is that that all the middle of the road democrats have been beaten out by republicans and all that we see now are the shrill, the scary or both. Its not just that current democrats are worse then the other guys, its that they are down right 1984 scary.

  6. Jim:

    Everyone just talks past each other.

    That’s the problem with almost all political discourse nowadays. People on either side of the argument start from different sets of assumptions, and so the discussion goes nowhere because each person’s arguments make no sense in the frame of reference of the other. I enjoy hashing out issues with people, but it takes so much effort to establish a common understanding of the background to a given issue that it hardly seems worthwhile to dig through it a lot of the time.

  7. Jim:

    Everyone just talks past each other.

    That’s the problem with almost all political discourse nowadays. People on either side of the argument start from different sets of assumptions, and so the discussion goes nowhere because each person’s arguments make no sense in the frame of reference of the other. I enjoy hashing out issues with people, but it takes so much effort to establish a common understanding of the background to a given issue that it hardly seems worthwhile to dig through it a lot of the time.

  8. Jim writes:
    “Nice. Good to see you don’t paint half the country with one stroke of the brush… oh… wait…

    Its one thing to get fired up, but do you really think that rhetoric like that will ever actually win votes? I can see it now: “He just called me spineless, I’m gonna listen to him now!!!”‘

    Well if they’re not, they’ve got November to prove John wrong Jim. It’s got nothing to do with listening to what anyone tells you and everything to do with being critical in your thinking and understanding why you vote for someone. You said people don’t like being told what to do. This administration does just that so right there your theory falls to shit. Face it, bush won the last election exactly because non critical thinking, spineless republican voters were told that 1) democrats don’t have values, and 2) no matter how bad the republicans are, the dems would be worse. Calling them spineless (or at this point “stupid mouth breathers”) isn’t insulting rhetoric, it’s an observation. How 36% of this country can still be so batshit crazy or stupid enough to support anything this administration has to offer is so far beyond me that I can’t even comprehend it.

  9. joshua writes:
    “hmm so should I vote for the party that promises to shrink government but doesn’t or should I vote for the party that promises to grow government and does?”

    Actually, if I’m understanding you correctly, the party you’re referring to that said they were going to shrink government and didn’t, in fact promised to shrink government and then expanded to the largest most intrusive and spending government this nation has ever seen. Your comment about saying they were going to shrink it and then didn’t was somewhat disingenuous.
    As for the “party that promises to grow government and does,” what party are you referring to? I’ve never heard anyone from any party say they were going to grow government. Now I’ve heard pundits from one particular side lie about what the other side does with government, but they’ve never actually backed it up and I reckon that the folks that vote against the party that promises to grow government probably don’t think too hard about it because I’d venture a guess that they are spineless mouthbreathers that let pundits do their thinking for them. I may be wrong, and indeed I hope I am, so if you can produce something, anything that shows a particular political stripe actually promising to grow government and then doing it, I’d be grateful.

  10. joshua writes:
    “hmm so should I vote for the party that promises to shrink government but doesn’t or should I vote for the party that promises to grow government and does?”

    Actually, if I’m understanding you correctly, the party you’re referring to that said they were going to shrink government and didn’t, in fact promised to shrink government and then expanded to the largest most intrusive and spending government this nation has ever seen. Your comment about saying they were going to shrink it and then didn’t was somewhat disingenuous.
    As for the “party that promises to grow government and does,” what party are you referring to? I’ve never heard anyone from any party say they were going to grow government. Now I’ve heard pundits from one particular side lie about what the other side does with government, but they’ve never actually backed it up and I reckon that the folks that vote against the party that promises to grow government probably don’t think too hard about it because I’d venture a guess that they are spineless mouthbreathers that let pundits do their thinking for them. I may be wrong, and indeed I hope I am, so if you can produce something, anything that shows a particular political stripe actually promising to grow government and then doing it, I’d be grateful.

  11. Jim:

    “Its one thing to get fired up, but do you really think that rhetoric like that will ever actually win votes?”

    Gee, Jim, why don’t we ask Newt Gingrich that one?

    Excuse me for not being totally solicitious of delicate Republican sensibilities, but frankly I don’t have much patience for the lot of them anymore. They’ve voted in indisputably the worst administration in 150 years, and they voted him in in 2004 knowing he was bad. They ought to be beaten with a goddamned shovel; calling them spineless feeder bar rats is letting them off easy. And Lord knows if any of them vote Republican just because they like the idea of pissing me off, they’re even more stupid than I suspected.

    In any event, it’s not my job to talk to Republicans in slow, comforting tones to get them to vote sensibly, “sensibly” in this case meaning “consistent with their own stated values.” My job is to point out that they don’t, nor does it seem that they are likely to, and that they are damned fools because of it. If they want to prove me wrong, I’d be delighted.

    This, incidentally, is not talking past Republicans, it’s talking directly at them. It’s just telling them something they prefer not to hear. Too bad. When Democrats get busy electing the worst administration in 150 years, I assure you they’ll hear from me, too. But now it’s the Republicans who have this little problem. Shame they appear not to have the wit to deal with it.

  12. Bush’s job is to be incompetent so the public hates the government and cheers when everything is privatized. George was specifically chosen because he is so clueless, not in spite of it. He’s the Haliburton Candidate.

    BTW, why doesn’t anyone refer to him as George Dumbass Bush? It fits so perfectly.

  13. Bush’s job is to be incompetent so the public hates the government and cheers when everything is privatized. George was specifically chosen because he is so clueless, not in spite of it. He’s the Haliburton Candidate.

    BTW, why doesn’t anyone refer to him as George Dumbass Bush? It fits so perfectly.

  14. Jim: “[people]…(3) don’t like being told what to do.”

    Yes they do. That’s why they go to Church and listen to their Preachers and Priests; otherwise, they’d read the Bible for themselves and figure out right and wrong all on their lonesomes.

    There’s a reason that Bush pandered to the far, socially conservative right. There’s also a reason why Mandisa was voted off American Idol the other night.

  15. I also hope that De Lay’s plan for a permanent Republican majority will be permanently deep-sixed. If the De Lay crowd still want such a majority then they permanently give-up the White House just to keep things balanced.

    I also think part of the plan was to permanently marginalize middle-of-the-road members of both parties thus the only viable candidates come way, way out there, thus scaring the voters into voting for their candidates.

  16. Calling them spineless (or at this point “stupid mouth breathers”) isn’t insulting rhetoric, it’s an observation.

    Yes, it is a insult, it’s an ad hominem attack.

    Logic. It’s so infuriating.

  17. Calling them spineless (or at this point “stupid mouth breathers”) isn’t insulting rhetoric, it’s an observation.

    Yes, it is a insult, it’s an ad hominem attack.

    Logic. It’s so infuriating.

  18. John – we’ve had spirited debate about politics in the past, but I have to say, this time you’ve just gone completely off the rails.

    First of all, read this. Bush didn’t leak classified information to anyone. He declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate in order to respond to criticisms about why we went into Iraq (something you’ve roundly criticized him for not doing in the past). Every article I’ve read about this story leads with “Bush leaked secret information,” and then buries the fact that they basically just declassifying documents somewhere in the middle of the story. Many of them also imply that Bush leaked Valerie Plame’s name, or is somehow connected to the special prosecutor’s case against Scooter Libby, all of which is also untrue.

    Now, as to all Republicans being “indoctrinated, uncritical, spineless feeder bar rats” that voted in “indisputably the worst administration in 150 years,” please – those kinds of gross generalizations don’t reflect the values you’ve shown in these pages over the years.

    I’m a reasonably educated guy and a registered republican. As I said above, you and I have had spirited political debate in the past, which I hope has demonstrated to you that none of the adjectives above describe me accurately. And yet, you find it necessary to lump me into a group based on one characteristic (my voter registration) and unfairly call me names because of it. That’s prejudging someone based on incomplete data, and it’s where the word “prejudice” comes from.

    I don’t like a lot of what this administration has done, but I find myself defending it more often than not, because the people who criticize it tend to jump right past debating the facts and into some variation of “how can anybody in their right minds possibly disagree that this is the worst thing anyone’s ever done, ever?” And so, all of the sudden, positions like “The feds screwed up the Katrina response, but so did the state & local governments” or “We did have a plan for post-war Iraq, but grossly miscalculated the situation and didn’t adjust quickly enough, unnecessarily costing many lives” become defenses for the administration, rather than the measured criticisms that they so obviously are.

    Finally, “indisputably” does not mean “disagrees with John Scalzi.” I, for one, would dispute your claim, mainly because I think ranking administrations against each other in a broad sense is meaningless. Every administration has high points and low points, and this one is no exception. I’d rate it the worst in several areas, but not in others. I don’t ask that you agree with me, but to suggest that no one in their right minds could possibly disagree with you is just over the top.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spell-check this entry, lest my point be dissolved into a debate on that subject, and then I’m going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while…

  19. The Republican party’s (or at least the Republican voters’) core values have been replace by fear – fear of people with different ideas, ethnicities or nationalities. Keeping government small or being fiscally responsible apparently isn’t nearly as important as making sure those Arabs don’t try to fly airplanes in to the baby Jesus or what have you. People with these values – and there really do seem to be a lot of them – are absolutely correct in supporting W. He’s got their back 100%.

  20. The Republican party’s (or at least the Republican voters’) core values have been replace by fear – fear of people with different ideas, ethnicities or nationalities. Keeping government small or being fiscally responsible apparently isn’t nearly as important as making sure those Arabs don’t try to fly airplanes in to the baby Jesus or what have you. People with these values – and there really do seem to be a lot of them – are absolutely correct in supporting W. He’s got their back 100%.

  21. “I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I’ve been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a — they can be very damaging.” – our leader, October 28th, 2003

    Yes, that’s exactly what an honest person would say if they knew that they were the one who authorized the release of heretofore secret information.

    But I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation that’ll be trotted out to the press, and it’ll be the order of the day until another shoe drops, and then we’ll get another perfectly reasonable explanation, and so on.

    Man, to try to rationalize this crap, I’d need to be getting one major honkin’ tax break.

  22. “I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I’ve been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a — they can be very damaging.” – our leader, October 28th, 2003

    Yes, that’s exactly what an honest person would say if they knew that they were the one who authorized the release of heretofore secret information.

    But I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation that’ll be trotted out to the press, and it’ll be the order of the day until another shoe drops, and then we’ll get another perfectly reasonable explanation, and so on.

    Man, to try to rationalize this crap, I’d need to be getting one major honkin’ tax break.

  23. Sorry to interrupt the political debate but I read the title and thought “Republicans are going to turn into mutant human-porcupine cross-breeds!”

    I swear something’s wrong with my brain.

  24. I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better. The choice is between the incompetent crooks who are in office vs. the crooked incompetents who are out of office. And both parties, no matter their rhetoric, are devoted to expanding government size and power and budget and only argue about which way the crumbs get swept.

  25. I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better. The choice is between the incompetent crooks who are in office vs. the crooked incompetents who are out of office. And both parties, no matter their rhetoric, are devoted to expanding government size and power and budget and only argue about which way the crumbs get swept.

  26. Brian Greenberg:

    “First of all, read this. Bush didn’t leak classified information to anyone. He declassified portions of a National Intelligence Estimate in order to respond to criticisms about why we went into Iraq (something you’ve roundly criticized him for not doing in the past).”

    Oh, you mean his “Let’s declassify certain information that helps us, and then not tell anybody that it’s declassified and then present it as a leak and then act all indignant that people are leaking in our administration, but then pull out this excuse when the leak eventually gets traced back to us” maneuver. Yeah, it’s legal. However, there aren’t very many words in the English language that fully describe the utterly repugnant moral and political cynicism of a maneuver like that, Brian, and I feel very sad for you that “it’s not illegal if it’s the president” is the only argument this administration allows you to present for its behavior.

    “Now, as to all Republicans being ‘indoctrinated, uncritical, spineless feeder bar rats’ that voted in ‘indisputably the worst administration in 150 years,’ please – those kinds of gross generalizations don’t reflect the values you’ve shown in these pages over the years.”

    I don’t recall saying all Republicans are indoctrinated, uncritical spineless feeder bar rats, so that’s your read into it, and I’m not responsible for that. You may of course read that I think most Republican voters are this way at this point, because naturally they would have to be. But most is not all. I’m not sure why you’re under the impression that such a description is not consistent with my previous statements with regard to Republican and/or Bush supporters, since in the past I’ve suggested people would have to be stupid, ignorant or hypocritical to vote for Bush, and so this recent estimation of Republican voters is really more or less on the same level. Likewise I’ve been calling it the worst administration since Buchanan for a while now. I am, in fact, consistent in my opinions over time. Every time I run a piece like this, however, you seem to forget that I’ve done it before, which is, of course, not my problem. Note also, per the site disclaimer, that everything I write here is my opinion, and I neither require you to agree with it, nor care if you don’t.

    Be that as it may, I am perfectly happy to accept that you are a principled and moral Republican, Brian, just as I accept that there are principled and moral Republicans in office (I like to trot out my former representative Frank Wolf here as an example). And indeed I hope that you as a principled and moral Republican will express your dissatisfaction toward this unprincipled and immoral Republican administration by withholding your vote in November and allowing some sort of check and balance to it. It’s been clear that in four some-odd years of majority in Washington that the Congressional Republicans as a class have neither the will nor the desire to check the excesses of this President, and are indeed complicit in the atmosphere of arrogance and small regard for things like the citizen’s constitutional rights and the balance of power among the branches of government, not to mention competence.

    “I, for one, would dispute your claim, mainly because I think ranking administrations against each other in a broad sense is meaningless.”

    Bah. This isn’t a “live ball era vs. dead ball era” sort of thing. However, even if one were to buy into the utterly fallacious idea that one cannot compare current presidents with previous ones, in isolation this administration has been simply awful, with its distinguishing characteristic the ability to take any administrative initiative, regardless of its native desirability, and run it straight into the ground through a combination of incompetence, arrogance, and cronyism.

    Regardless of how one chooses to asses this administration — as a discrete entity or as part of an continuum — it comes up wanting and utterly undeserving of support. So it’s perfectly all right with me if you want to dispute that it’s the worst administration in 150 years, Brian, because no matter how you slice it, it is bad beyond belief.

    Jim:

    “I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better.”

    Well, if one accepts this as a given, it makes even more sense to give at least one house to the opposing party, since the parties’ mutual distrust of each other would hopefully lead to the passage of legislation that trims off the worst excesses (and incompetencies) of each party. One can hope, in any event.

  27. Given that the eight most prosperous years of my life were under Clinton, and for six of those years, the Republicans controlled Congress, I think you’ve got a model for how best to run this country.

    Though, at this point, I suspect that we may need to give one or more houses of Congress to the Dems in ’06, and then elect a Democrat president in ’08, just to help right some of the wrongs of the last six years. Given that, we can re-balance in, oh, 2010 or 2012, though I’m thinking that it’s more important to have a Dem in the White House, given that it is the most monolithic of the branches of government– Congress can be much more granular, and more representative of the country as a whole– and we’ve seen some of the awful things that happen when you’ve got a mendacious asshole at the helm.

  28. Given that the eight most prosperous years of my life were under Clinton, and for six of those years, the Republicans controlled Congress, I think you’ve got a model for how best to run this country.

    Though, at this point, I suspect that we may need to give one or more houses of Congress to the Dems in ’06, and then elect a Democrat president in ’08, just to help right some of the wrongs of the last six years. Given that, we can re-balance in, oh, 2010 or 2012, though I’m thinking that it’s more important to have a Dem in the White House, given that it is the most monolithic of the branches of government– Congress can be much more granular, and more representative of the country as a whole– and we’ve seen some of the awful things that happen when you’ve got a mendacious asshole at the helm.

  29. Folks:

    John Scalzi is a clever, engaging writer & a nice guy in many ways. But when the subject turns to the Bush administration, his eyes glaze over, his mouth starts foaming & ad hominum attacks spew forth with stunning venom. I’ve watched it happen many times now and it’s really this simple:

    1. You’ll never convince him of what he doesn’t want to hear.

    2. He doesn’t convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.

    The concept of reasoned discourse is lost on him in this arena. Don’t try. He enjoys venting his spleen far too much.

  30. All this talk is very stimulating, truly. But do you mind if I butt in with two poll questions? Thanks, this won’t take but a minute:

    Did you vote in the last election? (local, state-wide or national)

    If not, why not?

    Based on this, I’m willing to bet that some of you may not answer the first question truthfully. As to the second question, well, I’ll bet that the answer is the rhetorical equivalent of cow manure.

    Nothing will change unless the population frees itself from the belief that participating in the political process doesn’t make a bit of difference. It does. So do something truly radical this November: vote. And convince several of your friends, coworkers, and family to do the same.

    Notice this liberal Democrat is not telling you whom to vote for. Just to vote.

  31. Chris Gabel:

    “But when the subject turns to the Bush administration, his eyes glaze over, his mouth starts foaming & ad hominum attacks spew forth with stunning venom.”

    First, I don’t foam, I seethe.

    Second, nonsense. I’ve given Bush credit where credit is due before, and I’ve noted before that there are number of policy points where I am largely in agreement with him — for example, I generally support his stance on immigration, and I have happy geek moments in his interest in moon bases and exploration of Mars. I despair of his ability to implement these, but that’s neither here nor there.

    As I’ve said again and again, my primary issues with Bush are issues of competence and implementation, not policies and initiatives. There are Bush policies I am foursquare against, of course, but as noted there are others where I would be inclined to support him, and I don’t mind saying so when they happen. Which is rather opposite of eyes-glazed frothiness, actually.

    Additionally, as I’ve said before, should a Democratic president show the same slight regard for the Constitution as the Bush administration does on a daily and habitual basis, you’d read me seethe about that as well.

    I know people have a hard time grasping this concept, but I am registered as an independent for a reason — My political views don’t in fact fit nicely into the Democratic/Republican axis, and so every single time I step into a voting booth I’m required to do a bit of political calculus that I hope will give me a balance of politics I am happy with.

    One constant in my politics, however, is the belief that the structure of government and rights provided by the US Constitution is an admirable one; that being the case, one fine way to lose me as a voter is not to show the appropriate respect to the Constitution. Bush doesn’t and hasn’t for a very long time.

    Now, personally, I don’t feel bad about seething about the President of the United States treating the Constitution as an easily-ignored guideline rather than the foundation upon which our way of life is based; indeed, there’s nothing more important to get seethy about.

  32. Chris Gabel:

    “But when the subject turns to the Bush administration, his eyes glaze over, his mouth starts foaming & ad hominum attacks spew forth with stunning venom.”

    First, I don’t foam, I seethe.

    Second, nonsense. I’ve given Bush credit where credit is due before, and I’ve noted before that there are number of policy points where I am largely in agreement with him — for example, I generally support his stance on immigration, and I have happy geek moments in his interest in moon bases and exploration of Mars. I despair of his ability to implement these, but that’s neither here nor there.

    As I’ve said again and again, my primary issues with Bush are issues of competence and implementation, not policies and initiatives. There are Bush policies I am foursquare against, of course, but as noted there are others where I would be inclined to support him, and I don’t mind saying so when they happen. Which is rather opposite of eyes-glazed frothiness, actually.

    Additionally, as I’ve said before, should a Democratic president show the same slight regard for the Constitution as the Bush administration does on a daily and habitual basis, you’d read me seethe about that as well.

    I know people have a hard time grasping this concept, but I am registered as an independent for a reason — My political views don’t in fact fit nicely into the Democratic/Republican axis, and so every single time I step into a voting booth I’m required to do a bit of political calculus that I hope will give me a balance of politics I am happy with.

    One constant in my politics, however, is the belief that the structure of government and rights provided by the US Constitution is an admirable one; that being the case, one fine way to lose me as a voter is not to show the appropriate respect to the Constitution. Bush doesn’t and hasn’t for a very long time.

    Now, personally, I don’t feel bad about seething about the President of the United States treating the Constitution as an easily-ignored guideline rather than the foundation upon which our way of life is based; indeed, there’s nothing more important to get seethy about.

  33. Yes, it is a insult,

    My guess is it’s an assessment, based on the observation that countless Republicans say one thing, then vote for the opposite.

    it’s an ad hominem attack.

    It’s ad hominem in the sense that it is playing the man instead of the ball, but in this case it’s justified, because that seemed to be exactly John’s intention.

    An ad hominem is only a fallacy when you are discussing the ball, not the man. Not that you were accusing John of using fallacious arguments, you were just suggesting it.

  34. Yes, it is a insult,

    My guess is it’s an assessment, based on the observation that countless Republicans say one thing, then vote for the opposite.

    it’s an ad hominem attack.

    It’s ad hominem in the sense that it is playing the man instead of the ball, but in this case it’s justified, because that seemed to be exactly John’s intention.

    An ad hominem is only a fallacy when you are discussing the ball, not the man. Not that you were accusing John of using fallacious arguments, you were just suggesting it.

  35. Chris Gabel:

    You realize based on what you’ve written, the way for you to prove that you’re a better man than John Scalzi is to be convinced by him?

  36. Chris Gabel:

    You realize based on what you’ve written, the way for you to prove that you’re a better man than John Scalzi is to be convinced by him?

  37. Uh, I’m not sure how that would make him a better man than me (or a worse man, for that matter).

    The assumption here, incidentally, is that I am writing primarily to persuade. I’m not. I’m writing to share what I’m thinking. If people find it persuasive, fine. If not, fine. I’m just fine with Mr. Gabel knowing himself well enough to know that he should sort of just speed over my political blatherations and get to the next thing; God knows I do that myself with other bloggers and writers.

  38. JC says:

    “You realize based on what you’ve written, the way for you to prove that you’re a better man than John Scalzi is to be convinced by him?”

    A truly bizarre statement. I have to agree with him to show I’m a better man? I have absolutely no idea what that comment means. Try restating it.

    I’m always willing to be convinced. I actually agree with many of John’s opinions. My problem has to do with the lack of balance, the tone, the lack of appreciation for the consequences some of his criticisms entail – and a general lack of maturity his approach involves. He doesn’t discuss issues. He browbeats you with his opinions – expecting you to be persuaded by his vehemence, rather than his logic.

    He is long on assertion, short on substance.

  39. JC says:

    “You realize based on what you’ve written, the way for you to prove that you’re a better man than John Scalzi is to be convinced by him?”

    A truly bizarre statement. I have to agree with him to show I’m a better man? I have absolutely no idea what that comment means. Try restating it.

    I’m always willing to be convinced. I actually agree with many of John’s opinions. My problem has to do with the lack of balance, the tone, the lack of appreciation for the consequences some of his criticisms entail – and a general lack of maturity his approach involves. He doesn’t discuss issues. He browbeats you with his opinions – expecting you to be persuaded by his vehemence, rather than his logic.

    He is long on assertion, short on substance.

  40. Chris Gabel:

    “He browbeats you with his opinions – expecting you to be persuaded by his vehemence, rather than his logic.”

    Once again, for those who don’t read the posts right before theirs: The assumption here is that I am writing primarily to persuade. I’m not. I’m writing to share what I’m thinking. If people find it persuasive, fine. If not, fine.

  41. Chris Gabel:

    “He browbeats you with his opinions – expecting you to be persuaded by his vehemence, rather than his logic.”

    Once again, for those who don’t read the posts right before theirs: The assumption here is that I am writing primarily to persuade. I’m not. I’m writing to share what I’m thinking. If people find it persuasive, fine. If not, fine.

  42. Scalzi sez:

    “I’ve given Bush credit where credit is due before”

    Well, yes – although I characterize your “credit” as being more of a backhanded compliment. “He’s an idiot – and he’s destroying the country, but he may have done one thing almost right.” Uh, very mature of you.

    “I don’t foam, I seethe.”

    ????? Um…..thanks for making my point for me…..

    “I know people have a hard time grasping this concept, but I am registered as an independent for a reason — My political views don’t in fact fit nicely into the Democratic/Republican axis, and so every single time I step into a voting booth I’m required to do a bit of political calculus that I hope will give me a balance of politics I am happy with. ”

    OK. We’re doing better here. Most of us are in the same boat in this way. I haven’t been 100% for or against any of the administrations of my adult lifetime – which for me starts with Ford. I vote mostly Republican, but found much to like & appreciate about Carter & Clinton (as well as a number of criticisms…).

    “One constant in my politics, however, is the belief that the structure of government and rights provided by the US Constitution is an admirable one; that being the case, one fine way to lose me as a voter is not to show the appropriate respect to the Constitution. Bush doesn’t and hasn’t for a very long time.”

    Here is where I feel you are long on assertion & short on substance. You know you are not a lawyer. I’m sure you read blogs from attorneys like Althouse, Reynolds etc…..they know a helluva lot more about the constitution than you do & would tear your assertion to shreds. Sorry John. You’re good at what you know – but that ain’t your turf.

  43. The only problem is, while the Rebub’s have an agenda that is barely recognizable, the democrats have *no* agenda at all, other than bashing whatever the Repub’s put forth.

    Shit man, get us to the moon, then get us to mars, who cares how much it costs.

    Whats even funnier, but your diatribe here, could have been taken word for word form the usual Repub websites bashing clinton during his tenure, just change the Republican moniker to the Democrat.

    Do you see the wheel you are on, I mean, acting like democrats are in any way different from Republicans? They are both equally evil and have an equal amount of interest in your childs (and my childrens) future.

    Time to clean house, I will pay for the rope, who is willing to hoist a few up a lamp post?

  44. The only problem is, while the Rebub’s have an agenda that is barely recognizable, the democrats have *no* agenda at all, other than bashing whatever the Repub’s put forth.

    Shit man, get us to the moon, then get us to mars, who cares how much it costs.

    Whats even funnier, but your diatribe here, could have been taken word for word form the usual Repub websites bashing clinton during his tenure, just change the Republican moniker to the Democrat.

    Do you see the wheel you are on, I mean, acting like democrats are in any way different from Republicans? They are both equally evil and have an equal amount of interest in your childs (and my childrens) future.

    Time to clean house, I will pay for the rope, who is willing to hoist a few up a lamp post?

  45. Chris Gabel:

    “I’m sure you read blogs from attorneys like Althouse, Reynolds etc…..they know a helluva lot more about the constitution than you do & would tear your assertion to shreds.”

    Well, golly, Chris. And I know a lot of attorneys who are equally adept at Constitutional law whose opinions on these matters are rather startlingly consonant to my own, and they’d be happy to bolster my assertions, so I’m wondering what the hell your point is here. No offense, but just because you think Instapundit would say I’m wrong doesn’t mean I am, in fact, wrong. For one, you’re not Glenn (or Althouse, so far as I know). For another, Glenn (or Althouse), learned as they are, are not the final authorities.

    Besides, if Glenn or anyone is going to “rip to shreds” my assertion that Bush doesn’t have much respect for the Constitution, they’ll also have to suggest the Supreme Court will be equally shredded, unless you’ve forgotten Hamdi v. Rumsfeld or Rasul v. Bush, just to name two pertinent, on-point examples of the Administration getting the smack down on its creative dismissals of the Constitution as, you know, having anything to do with anything.

    Where you err, Chris, is in assuming that since I don’t trot out the relevant court cases to substantiate my opinion every time I call the Bush administration arrogant and dismissive of the Constitution, that my opinion is just angry handwaving and empty noise. But in fact there’s a nice long trail of substantive examples of my assertion that Bush doesn’t really have much time for the Constitution. I just assume most of my readers are smart and well-read and that because of that I don’t have to dredge up all the proof points time and again.

    I don’t particularly care if you think I’m frothy about this subject, Chris, but the smug dismissal implied in the “this ain’t your turf” comment is the sort of shit that gets me riled. Unless you can convince me that those two Supreme Court cases referenced above didn’t happen and I just dreamed them up one day when I ate too much past-date cheese or something, you can take your “this ain’t your turf” comment and shove it. I’m not a lawyer, but I sure as Hell can read a Supreme Court decision, and I know what these court decisions say about the Bush administration’s relationship with the law.

    Bill Marcy:

    “Whats even funnier, but your diatribe here, could have been taken word for word form the usual Repub websites bashing clinton during his tenure, just change the Republican moniker to the Democrat.”

    What’s your point? It’s okay for Bush to dump a load on the Constitution because someone else might have done it in the past? I would personally dispute that Clinton’s alleged disregard for the Constitution has been either as pernicious or as destructive as Bush’s, but even if it were, it doesn’t make Bush’s hilarious hijinx any funnier. Nor does it imply one should not complain about it.

  46. “I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better.”

    To use your (and Chris and Bill’s) own arguing styles against you, I’m sure you felt the same way when you guys were bashing Clinton for things it turned out he didn’t do. There is little dispute about what Bush is doing, but there is alot of hand wringing on the republican side that the son of a bitch should have carte blanche to do whatever he pleases. Again, I’m sure you would feel the same if this was a democratic administration. (/rolls eyes)

    Cassie:
    “Yes, it is a insult, it’s an ad hominem attack.

    Logic. It’s so infuriating.”

    Your grasp of the obvious is refreshing. I guess John needs to put in emoticons so the batshit crazy mouthbreathers will know when I’m being sarcastic.

  47. “I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better.”

    To use your (and Chris and Bill’s) own arguing styles against you, I’m sure you felt the same way when you guys were bashing Clinton for things it turned out he didn’t do. There is little dispute about what Bush is doing, but there is alot of hand wringing on the republican side that the son of a bitch should have carte blanche to do whatever he pleases. Again, I’m sure you would feel the same if this was a democratic administration. (/rolls eyes)

    Cassie:
    “Yes, it is a insult, it’s an ad hominem attack.

    Logic. It’s so infuriating.”

    Your grasp of the obvious is refreshing. I guess John needs to put in emoticons so the batshit crazy mouthbreathers will know when I’m being sarcastic.

  48. Now, now. It’s all right to dump on the host (he finds it amusing). But let’s play nice with other commenters.

  49. Now, now. It’s all right to dump on the host (he finds it amusing). But let’s play nice with other commenters.

  50. John,

    For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could. Going back to the first administration.

    Of course when it is not your ox being gored, this kind of thing is accepteable, but the squealing starts and the fingers start to be pointed when your ox recieve’s the same treatment.

    Sad, that.

    But human. But for sanities sake, understand it.

    As to the shredding of the constitution, other than stealing your’s and my childrens rights to protect themselves from government tyranny, I don’t see much that hasn’t been going on for the past couple of hundred years. You?

  51. For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could. Going back to the first administration.

    Historian, school thineself!

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/gw1.html

    To [Washington’s] disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances.

    That power-mad bastard!

  52. For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could. Going back to the first administration.

    Historian, school thineself!

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/gw1.html

    To [Washington’s] disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances.

    That power-mad bastard!

  53. Chris Gabel writes:

    But when the subject turns to the Bush administration, his eyes glaze over, [John’s] mouth starts foaming & ad hominum attacks spew forth with stunning venom… The concept of reasoned discourse is lost on him in this arena.

    How very clever of you, Chris, to illustrate how erroneous it is to rely on ad hominem attacks… by making an ad hominem attack on John.

    Did you truly think no one was going to notice what you’d done?

  54. Any joke that needs to be explained is obviously one that isn’t funny. Oh well, maybe I’ll do better next time.

    The implied point, of course, was that by saying:


    1. You’ll never convince him of what he doesn’t want to hear.

    2. He doesn’t convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.

    Chris appears to be exhibiting exactly the same characteristics he accuses John Scalzi of exhibiting. The easiest way to disprove this, of course, is allow himself to be convinced by John Scalzi. I thought it was a humorous observation but apparently, I’m wrong.

    Oh well, maybe I’ll be funnier next time (or not…)

  55. Any joke that needs to be explained is obviously one that isn’t funny. Oh well, maybe I’ll do better next time.

    The implied point, of course, was that by saying:


    1. You’ll never convince him of what he doesn’t want to hear.

    2. He doesn’t convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.

    Chris appears to be exhibiting exactly the same characteristics he accuses John Scalzi of exhibiting. The easiest way to disprove this, of course, is allow himself to be convinced by John Scalzi. I thought it was a humorous observation but apparently, I’m wrong.

    Oh well, maybe I’ll be funnier next time (or not…)

  56. Bush’s administration has been practicing advanced incompetence for a while, of course, and while I’ve been of the opinion that Bush has been satisfied with being incompetent while it’s been other Republican leaders who have gone straight over into malice, if the President did indeed authorize the leaks of classified information, we can pretty much say that incompetence not the least of his sins.

    Ah. Headline punditry.

    The reason why we are where we are today is a) Democrats have generally gone over to the other side and b) the Party in power will eventually succumb to the perks of power.

    But this has always been true and we’ve managed to muddle along. This is because people in the US are mostly free.

    The problem, of course, is that Governments will always attempt fill all power vacuums. And they will generally do it by getting people addicted to Government. Unfortunately humans can’t do without Government.

    When you consider what it takes to be in Government, and by that I mean the regular abuse you have to put up with from the press and the “loyal” opposition you have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would want such a job. Now this may or may not be a question whose answer is found within. But my impression is, especially when you comapre us to any other government in the world, we may have people who take advantage of their power, but usually its not to the exclusion of performing their public duty. Most people in Government do try to do right by the country even if they do take a little for themselves along the way. We could wish for more, but then again….

    The worst part right now is that the Democrats have mostly taken themselves out of the game so the only option the majority of people have is to vote for Republicans. This is bad. But it will continue until the Democrats decide to kick out the Marxists, Maoists, Anarchists and the whole “netroots” crowd.

    James Surowiecki in his 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds shows convincing evidence that when a group is autonomous, decentralized and diverse it will usually arrive at correct decisions. Fortunately we have this and it is embodied in the American people. When you say Bush is incompetent; one must ask, in comparison to whom? Gore? Kerry?

    Those were the choices, remember? You can’t blame Republicans for that.

    And as for House and Senate members; all politics is local.

    But generally speaking, by all objective measures, we’re doing pretty well. You may disagree with this, that or the other thing, as do I, but results are in the positive direction on all fronts that matter.

    If you read beyond the headlines….

  57. Bill Marcy:

    “For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could.”

    I present you this little tidbit about the Whigs:

    “In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the Executive Branch and favored a program of modernization and economic development. Their name was chosen to echo the British Whig Party, who had opposed a strong monarchy, just as the American Whigs were opposing a strong presidency.”

    Bill, do me a favor from now on and don’t confuse your ignorance with mine. Okay? Thanks.

  58. Bill Marcy:

    “For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could.”

    I present you this little tidbit about the Whigs:

    “In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the Executive Branch and favored a program of modernization and economic development. Their name was chosen to echo the British Whig Party, who had opposed a strong monarchy, just as the American Whigs were opposing a strong presidency.”

    Bill, do me a favor from now on and don’t confuse your ignorance with mine. Okay? Thanks.

  59. >

    ?

    Name any evidence that people who hold the aforesaid radical positions have significant power either in the US or in the Democratic party.

    Though I don’t identify as any of those things, I have friends who do. You know how much power they have? They have organic gardens and co-ops and arguments most people never hear.

    I’d agree that the mainstream democractic party has “gone over to the other side.” Apparently, we disagree on what the other side is. I mark a lot of ‘em walking around, acting like Republicans.

  60. Name any evidence that people who hold the aforesaid radical positions have significant power either in the US or in the Democratic party.

    They don’t. And what’s more is they don’t have a significant constituency and that, ultimately is the problem.

    For whatever reason, and I’m as confused by it as anyone, Demoncrats have decided that they need the Far Left. They have decided that they need their money and they have decided that they need their allegiance.

    Perhaps they think that if these people split off to a third Green-like party it will split the “liberal” vote. I guess the money part needs no justification. It’s M-O-N-E-Y as Lyle Lovett would say.

    But whatever; this decision has led a number of vocal Democrats to cater to these people. I mean they put Michael Moore in the Presidential box at the Democrat National Convention for crissakes. It was bad enough that Carter was there. Daschell and a number of prominent Democrats made a big deal out of going to see his “documentary”

    Then there’s MoveOn.org. Whatever you say about them, people associated them with Democrats and Democrats never disavowed them and in fact welcomed their 527 asses with open arms.

    Then you have anti-war protesters, and Code Pink and ANSWER and prominent Democrats showing up at these events. When this crew showed up to protest the RNC in New York City, they carried Kerry signs.

    Prominent Democrats genuflect before Mother Sheehan in photo-ops.

    So you are right. They have no power. They have no Constituency. But they are associated with Democrats and that stink rubs off. And the Democrats are content to remain unwashed.

    Here’s the deal, you don’t win elections by appealing to the fringes. You win elections by taking more of the center than your opponent does. The Democrats have abandoned the center. This is a losing strategy.

    Hillary Clinton, who would like to run as a centrist, is having problems with the Left flank to such an extent, she has had to put out letters to placate them. They still call her Artillary Hillary.

    And while these far left activists don’t have a constituency, they come out in disproportionate numbers during the primaries. So if you are going to run center in the general, you have to jog Left to win the primary setting up a sure “Flip Flop” offense by the Republicans.

    Meanwhile the Republicans will likely nominate a centrist: McCain or Giuliani or someone similar and this person won’t have to (publically) jog Right to do it. You watch and see…

  61. Name any evidence that people who hold the aforesaid radical positions have significant power either in the US or in the Democratic party.

    They don’t. And what’s more is they don’t have a significant constituency and that, ultimately is the problem.

    For whatever reason, and I’m as confused by it as anyone, Demoncrats have decided that they need the Far Left. They have decided that they need their money and they have decided that they need their allegiance.

    Perhaps they think that if these people split off to a third Green-like party it will split the “liberal” vote. I guess the money part needs no justification. It’s M-O-N-E-Y as Lyle Lovett would say.

    But whatever; this decision has led a number of vocal Democrats to cater to these people. I mean they put Michael Moore in the Presidential box at the Democrat National Convention for crissakes. It was bad enough that Carter was there. Daschell and a number of prominent Democrats made a big deal out of going to see his “documentary”

    Then there’s MoveOn.org. Whatever you say about them, people associated them with Democrats and Democrats never disavowed them and in fact welcomed their 527 asses with open arms.

    Then you have anti-war protesters, and Code Pink and ANSWER and prominent Democrats showing up at these events. When this crew showed up to protest the RNC in New York City, they carried Kerry signs.

    Prominent Democrats genuflect before Mother Sheehan in photo-ops.

    So you are right. They have no power. They have no Constituency. But they are associated with Democrats and that stink rubs off. And the Democrats are content to remain unwashed.

    Here’s the deal, you don’t win elections by appealing to the fringes. You win elections by taking more of the center than your opponent does. The Democrats have abandoned the center. This is a losing strategy.

    Hillary Clinton, who would like to run as a centrist, is having problems with the Left flank to such an extent, she has had to put out letters to placate them. They still call her Artillary Hillary.

    And while these far left activists don’t have a constituency, they come out in disproportionate numbers during the primaries. So if you are going to run center in the general, you have to jog Left to win the primary setting up a sure “Flip Flop” offense by the Republicans.

    Meanwhile the Republicans will likely nominate a centrist: McCain or Giuliani or someone similar and this person won’t have to (publically) jog Right to do it. You watch and see…

  62. Oh, you mean his “Let’s declassify certain information that helps us, and then not tell anybody that it’s declassified and then present it as a leak and then act all indignant that people are leaking in our administration, but then pull out this excuse when the leak eventually gets traced back to us” maneuver

    To quote a phrase that’s been used around here before, that’s crap. First of all, if the information is solely there to “help” the Republicans, then why did they classify in the first place? Second, the report was declassified in July of 2005. The act of declassifying something is, by definition, a public act. If you don’t tell anyone you did it, then you haven’t declassified it. The fact that neither you nor I knew it was declassified doesn’t make it a secret. Third, leaking is not a binary thing. I’m perfectly fine with the President (and the administration) being indignant about someone leaking a CIA agent’s name and a top secret terrorist wiretapping program, but not being indignant about people reporting on declassified information.

    As I said above, it’s not enough to bash Bush for the myriad of things he’s done wrong. People need to turn everything he does into something sinister, causing his more moderate (and, dare I say, thoughtful?) critics to come to his defense. There’s nothing sinister here: It’s the guy’s job to determine what’s secret and what’s not. If he discloses something, then by definition, it’s no longer secret. When he decides something’s secret and someone else talks about it, that’s a leak. If it weren’t for the media (and the president’s more vocal critics) looking for a(nother) big story, we wouldn’t even be discussing it.

    I don’t recall saying all Republicans are indoctrinated, uncritical spineless feeder bar rats

    Well, fine. You said, “If the modern Republican party has succeeded in anything, it has been in transforming its members into the human equivalent of rats at the feeder bar,” and I took that as an affront to everyone who calls themselves a Republican. If you meant most of us, then I will happily stand corrected, although I’ll stand by my point that you weren’t particularly clear.

    I am, in fact, consistent in my opinions over time. Every time I run a piece like this, however, you seem to forget that I’ve done it before, which is, of course, not my problem.

    I didn’t say your positions were inconsistent. I said your use of gross generalization was inconsistent with how you’ve acted in the past.

    Also, the fact that you’ve said much of this before doesn’t mean you convinced me (then or now). It should go without saying that you can’t cite yourself as a reference and claim it as proof that you’re right this time around.

    I’m happy to agree to disagree on much of this, which is neither your nor my problem…

  63. “I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better.”

    This sentiment is the #2 reason–sheer laziness is #1–why people don’t vote. They’re all equally bad, so why bother?

    Every election, it’s our job to get to the voting booth and vote for the person who’s better, even if you need delicate instruments to tell the difference between the choices. That’s how you steer a democracy, with small nudges in the right direction.

    By the way, CoolBlue, if McCain is a centrist, I’m Emperor of Northern California.

  64. “I’ll accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats are a lick better.”

    This sentiment is the #2 reason–sheer laziness is #1–why people don’t vote. They’re all equally bad, so why bother?

    Every election, it’s our job to get to the voting booth and vote for the person who’s better, even if you need delicate instruments to tell the difference between the choices. That’s how you steer a democracy, with small nudges in the right direction.

    By the way, CoolBlue, if McCain is a centrist, I’m Emperor of Northern California.

  65. Brian Greenberg:

    “First of all, if the information is solely there to ‘help’ the Republicans, then why did they classify in the first place?”

    This is genuinely a serious question? Are you genuinely incapable of grasping the idea that previously classifed information might become politically useful to the Administration and was therefore declassified for that purpose? I want to live in your world, there, Brian.

    “The act of declassifying something is, by definition, a public act. If you don’t tell anyone you did it, then you haven’t declassified it. The fact that neither you nor I knew it was declassified doesn’t make it a secret.”

    To quote the Washington Post article to which I previously linked, and which you clearly didn’t bother to read:

    Libby understood that only he, Bush and Cheney knew of the declassification when Libby held his first conversation with a reporter in July 2003, the court papers show.

    Indeed, this “public” declassification was so little known that even other people in the White House weren’t aware of it:

    In one telling footnote in the filing, Fitzgerald notes that even after Bush authorized the dissemination of the intelligence data, then-White House deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley was “active in discussions about the need to declassify and disseminate” the information.

    Even now, there are genuine questions as to the actual declassification timeline:

    According to Fitzgerald, Libby testified before a grand jury that President Bush and Cheney authorized the release of that information shortly before Libby’s meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003. The information was drawn from the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate prepared by the CIA about Iraq’s interest in weapons of mass destruction.

    But 10 days later, McClellan told reporters at the White House that the estimate had been “officially declassified today” — July 18, 2003 — making no mention of the earlier declassification that Libby described in his sworn testimony. If that statement was correct, reporters pointed out, then the material was still classified at the time Libby disclosed it.

    So, yes, yes, tell me again, Brian, how declassifing information by definition means that it’s been made public. Because you know what? It gives me a nice little giggle. Apparently in the Bush administration, there’s such thing as double-secret declassification, which is the sort of declassification you don’t let other people know about.

    “There’s nothing sinister here: It’s the guy’s job to determine what’s secret and what’s not. If he discloses something, then by definition, it’s no longer secret.”

    (rolls eyes)

    So you’re saying that if, say, a President of the United States did decide to out a undercover CIA agent just to get even with a political opponent — not saying Bush did, this is just a hypothetical — it would be perfectly okay because if a President decides something’s not secret, it’s no longer a secret? Would it be equally okay if, say, the president devolved declassifying powers to his VP, and he outed an undercover agent?

    I’m certainly hoping you would not say that would be just fine. There are things that are perfectly legal which are still repugnant and wrong.

    Now, leaving aside the Plame thing, it’s pretty clear that the information Bush declassified is not as problematic as that would be. Nevertheless intent and implementation is relevant. Perhaps you see nothing wrong with a President declassifying information primarily for political purposes, keeping the declassified nature of the information secret from all but two close advisors, and then allowing the information to be presented in classic leak form — if in fact the White House timeline for declassifing information is correct, which is apparently in some dispute. But some of us see it as utter incompetence at the very least, and malice aforethought at more than the least.

    It’s crap, all right, Brian, just not in the way you suggest. I think it’s clearly wrong to suggest Bush has done nothing wrong here, even if his actions are legal “because it’s legal if the President does it.” And once again I feel sorry for you that for some unfathomable reason you feel honor-bound to defend an administration which feels that rules are for the other guy, and not so much for them.

    “Also, the fact that you’ve said much of this before doesn’t mean you convinced me (then or now).”

    You know, if I have to post again in this thread how I’m writing to post my personal opinion and not to “persuade,” I swear I’m going to have to hit something with shovel.

  66. Hell, John, I knew all this shit as it was coming out, reached the same conclusion you came too as well. No need to persuade me. I just enjoy reading your take on it, in you writing sytle.

  67. Hell, John, I knew all this shit as it was coming out, reached the same conclusion you came too as well. No need to persuade me. I just enjoy reading your take on it, in you writing sytle.

  68. Blue,

    Conflating anti-war protestors with radical anarchist or marxist positions is a flawed rhetorical tactic. Though there are marxists and anarchists who are anti-war, there are *plenty* of anti-war people who are not marxists or anarchists.

    This is the equivalent of calling all kinds of rectangles “a bunch of loser squares with even sides.”

    Or, to put this another way:

    1) I know plenty o’ people who are anti-war and who protested the RNC who have nothing to do with the far left, and:

    2) Democrats do very little to placate the actual far left.

    I think that you’re assuming the left wing of the democratic party – both politicians and voters – espouses beliefs it doesn’t, or aligns itself with policies it doesn’t. And then in order to discredit them, you take the left and use a theoretical condense to talk about them as if they are the far left, which they aren’t.

  69. Blue,

    Conflating anti-war protestors with radical anarchist or marxist positions is a flawed rhetorical tactic. Though there are marxists and anarchists who are anti-war, there are *plenty* of anti-war people who are not marxists or anarchists.

    This is the equivalent of calling all kinds of rectangles “a bunch of loser squares with even sides.”

    Or, to put this another way:

    1) I know plenty o’ people who are anti-war and who protested the RNC who have nothing to do with the far left, and:

    2) Democrats do very little to placate the actual far left.

    I think that you’re assuming the left wing of the democratic party – both politicians and voters – espouses beliefs it doesn’t, or aligns itself with policies it doesn’t. And then in order to discredit them, you take the left and use a theoretical condense to talk about them as if they are the far left, which they aren’t.

  70. Rachel,

    CoolBlue isn’t even interested in spelling the Democratic Party’s freakin’ name correctly — what makes you think he’d be interested in knowing or telling the truth about it?

  71. Scalzi sez:

    “I know a lot of attorneys who are equally adept at Constitutional law whose opinions on these matters are rather startlingly consonant to my own”

    Yeah, attorneys are like that – they can always “make a case” for whatever they or their client wants to do…..

    But consider this: If a real case could be made, it would have already gone to the Supremes & the Bushites would be impeached & out on their respective ears.

    The cases you cited were typical “turf battles” that happen all the time – it’s not like there were any findings of criminal wrongdoing. I have to reiterate – you don’t know what you’re talking about here.

    Nice try though…

    You DO know how to stir up the natives, fella…. time to take my blood pressure medication.

  72. Scalzi sez:

    “I know a lot of attorneys who are equally adept at Constitutional law whose opinions on these matters are rather startlingly consonant to my own”

    Yeah, attorneys are like that – they can always “make a case” for whatever they or their client wants to do…..

    But consider this: If a real case could be made, it would have already gone to the Supremes & the Bushites would be impeached & out on their respective ears.

    The cases you cited were typical “turf battles” that happen all the time – it’s not like there were any findings of criminal wrongdoing. I have to reiterate – you don’t know what you’re talking about here.

    Nice try though…

    You DO know how to stir up the natives, fella…. time to take my blood pressure medication.

  73. Chris Gabel:

    “But consider this: If a real case could be made, it would have already gone to the Supremes & the Bushites would be impeached & out on their respective ears.”

    Huh? What part of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld do you not understand? When even Scalia is telling the Administration their interpretation of the Constitution is completely full of crap, that’s a pretty convincing evidence of Bush administrative overreach. As for Bush being impeached, even if it were desirable (which I emphatically don’t think it is), let’s not be stupid and suggest such a thing is possible when both houses of Congress are held by Republicans.

    Also, if you really think Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is merely a “turf battle,” you’re a complete fucking idiot, because only a complete fucking idiot would think tossing out habeas corpus at the whim of the executive branch is a small matter. As Justice O’Connor wrote: “it would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge.”

    Personally I think it’s a display of breathtaking hubris for someone as jackass ignorant as you’ve just shown yourself to be to suggest that I don’t know what I’m talking about, Chris, so I’ll give you the same bit of advice I gave Bill Marcy a little earlier, which is to tell you not to confuse your ignorance with mine.

    I sincerely and urgently invite you to revise your opinion of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Chris, as I suspect strongly that you are not, in fact, a complete fucking idiot, and may simply have had some sort of neurological blink which caused you to say something uncharacteristically dense. However, if you do actually believe that a Supreme Court case regarding an attempt by our administration to suspend a US citizen’s right to challenge his detention by his government, thus eviscerating a nice chunk of the Bill of Rights, is a merely trivial “turf battle,” then all I can say is that I’m done with you now, and thanks for playing.

  74. Chris Gabel:

    “But consider this: If a real case could be made, it would have already gone to the Supremes & the Bushites would be impeached & out on their respective ears.”

    Huh? What part of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld do you not understand? When even Scalia is telling the Administration their interpretation of the Constitution is completely full of crap, that’s a pretty convincing evidence of Bush administrative overreach. As for Bush being impeached, even if it were desirable (which I emphatically don’t think it is), let’s not be stupid and suggest such a thing is possible when both houses of Congress are held by Republicans.

    Also, if you really think Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is merely a “turf battle,” you’re a complete fucking idiot, because only a complete fucking idiot would think tossing out habeas corpus at the whim of the executive branch is a small matter. As Justice O’Connor wrote: “it would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge.”

    Personally I think it’s a display of breathtaking hubris for someone as jackass ignorant as you’ve just shown yourself to be to suggest that I don’t know what I’m talking about, Chris, so I’ll give you the same bit of advice I gave Bill Marcy a little earlier, which is to tell you not to confuse your ignorance with mine.

    I sincerely and urgently invite you to revise your opinion of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Chris, as I suspect strongly that you are not, in fact, a complete fucking idiot, and may simply have had some sort of neurological blink which caused you to say something uncharacteristically dense. However, if you do actually believe that a Supreme Court case regarding an attempt by our administration to suspend a US citizen’s right to challenge his detention by his government, thus eviscerating a nice chunk of the Bill of Rights, is a merely trivial “turf battle,” then all I can say is that I’m done with you now, and thanks for playing.

  75. 1) I know plenty o’ people who are anti-war and who protested the RNC who have nothing to do with the far left, and:

    So? It doesn’t matter. People like you mention simply swell the crowd.

    Look at the organizers of these events. ANSWER, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice. Riddle me this: Why is it that organizations who defend people like Milosevic, Kim Jong-il, and Mao organizing against US “aggression” but never against the Islamists?

    What is their purpose? What is their goal?

    2) Democrats do very little to placate the actual far left.

    Sure. And as long as you continue to believe this you are part of the problem.

    Can you say Al Gore? Feingold? Ted Kennedy? McDermott? Need I go on?

    And that problem is this: John F Kennedy could not get nominated by todays Democrat Party.

  76. Coolblue.

    The guys you list as far left, are more sort of centre right. In fact I can’t think of anyone in US politics that comes even anywhere close to being left wing, let alone far left. Incidently, just why is being left wing a bad thing anyway? In any sensible political system you need a good strong mix of left, right and centre-ist policies to make a society work properly.

  77. Coolblue.

    The guys you list as far left, are more sort of centre right. In fact I can’t think of anyone in US politics that comes even anywhere close to being left wing, let alone far left. Incidently, just why is being left wing a bad thing anyway? In any sensible political system you need a good strong mix of left, right and centre-ist policies to make a society work properly.

  78. So you’re saying that if, say, a President of the United States did decide to out a undercover CIA agent just to get even with a political opponent — not saying Bush did, this is just a hypothetical — it would be perfectly okay because if a President decides something’s not secret, it’s no longer a secret?

    Clearly an undercover CIA agent was not “outed” or someone would have been charged with this crime. That someone to include Mr Libby.

    It is also clear that the Administration wanted to counter the lies that Joe Wilson had been telling:

    1) That the Vice President’s office had sent Wilson to Niger when, in fact, his wife had arranged the trip not Cheney.

    2) That Wilson found no evidence of Saddam attempting to buy “yellow cake” when in fact he had reported to the CIA weeks earlier that he had found such evidence (and more evidence that Iraq had in fact tried on a number of occasions have subsequently been uncovered)

    Wilson clearly was attempting to undermine the Administration’s credibility and the Administration responded in kind.

  79. Incidently, just why is being left wing a bad thing anyway?

    There is nothing bad about being Left wing. However, I say again, you do not win elections by trying to take the fringe. You win elections by taking the center because by definition, that’s where most people are politically.

    Most people are not Communists, or Socialists. Conversely most people are not evangelical Christians.

  80. Incidently, just why is being left wing a bad thing anyway?

    There is nothing bad about being Left wing. However, I say again, you do not win elections by trying to take the fringe. You win elections by taking the center because by definition, that’s where most people are politically.

    Most people are not Communists, or Socialists. Conversely most people are not evangelical Christians.

  81. CoolBlue:

    “Clearly an undercover CIA agent was not “outed” or someone would have been charged with this crime. That someone to include Mr Libby.”

    What part of the word “hypothetical” don’t you understand, CoolBlue?

  82. What part of the word “hypothetical” don’t you understand, CoolBlue?

    Each and every syllable.

    I was simply clarifying the facts of the matter.

  83. What part of the word “hypothetical” don’t you understand, CoolBlue?

    Each and every syllable.

    I was simply clarifying the facts of the matter.

  84. Thanks for suggesting the rest of use are idiots, then, CoolBlue, since the rest of us also understand what the word “hypothetical” means, and therefore stating the “facts” there was entirely superfluous.

    You may believe it’s entirely appropriate for a president to declassify information solely for the political purposes. For my part, I would assume the information was classified for reasons other than political purposes, so I naturally question the wisdom and appropriateness of declassifying that material for that purpose, particularly when the administration appears to have played it both ways and treated it as declassified for some purposes and classified for others.

    Regardless of whether it was legal or not, this “quasi-leak” makes it appear Bush arrogates behavior to himself what he publicly abhors in others. The fact that Bush and his pals are running about trying to convince people that technically he didn’t leak information — you can’t leak if you’re the president — doesn’t change the fact that it looks, walks and quacks like a leak, and is another example of this administration showing that it’s not the forthright, straight-shooting people it claimed to be. I don’t think the “technically it’s not a leak” claim is going to find much traction outside the feeder-bar Republicans.

    On an entirely unrelated note, CoolBlue (and others): I would ask that if you respond to a series of other responses at one time, that you do one larger post rather then a series of smaller posts — makes it easier to read and respond to. Thanks!

  85. Thanks for suggesting the rest of use are idiots, then, CoolBlue, since the rest of us also understand what the word “hypothetical” means, and therefore stating the “facts” there was entirely superfluous.

    You may believe it’s entirely appropriate for a president to declassify information solely for the political purposes. For my part, I would assume the information was classified for reasons other than political purposes, so I naturally question the wisdom and appropriateness of declassifying that material for that purpose, particularly when the administration appears to have played it both ways and treated it as declassified for some purposes and classified for others.

    Regardless of whether it was legal or not, this “quasi-leak” makes it appear Bush arrogates behavior to himself what he publicly abhors in others. The fact that Bush and his pals are running about trying to convince people that technically he didn’t leak information — you can’t leak if you’re the president — doesn’t change the fact that it looks, walks and quacks like a leak, and is another example of this administration showing that it’s not the forthright, straight-shooting people it claimed to be. I don’t think the “technically it’s not a leak” claim is going to find much traction outside the feeder-bar Republicans.

    On an entirely unrelated note, CoolBlue (and others): I would ask that if you respond to a series of other responses at one time, that you do one larger post rather then a series of smaller posts — makes it easier to read and respond to. Thanks!

  86. Uh, CoolBlue:

    “Bill Marcy:

    “For an author, your grasp of history is somewhat limited. Every single administration has done it’s best to grab as much power for itself and it’s party as it could.”

    I present you this little tidbit about the Whigs:

    “In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the Executive Branch and favored a program of modernization and economic development. Their name was chosen to echo the British Whig Party, who had opposed a strong monarchy, just as the American Whigs were opposing a strong presidency.”

    Bill, do me a favor from now on and don’t confuse your ignorance with mine. Okay? Thanks.”

    That you don’t see the power grab, inherent in your quote is almost amusing, if not for it being so sad. But rest assured, I will not confuse my ignorance with yours. I assure you.

  87. Oh, and John, Information is classified for any number of reasons, often just beause it is more convienent to slap the current stamp in your hand on a document than switching stamps. Been there, seen it, engaged in it first hand.

    Presidents do not leak information, they declassify, which is completely legal, and just. Hopefully he will do more of it to show the left for the yellow dogs that they are. No?

  88. Oh, and John, Information is classified for any number of reasons, often just beause it is more convienent to slap the current stamp in your hand on a document than switching stamps. Been there, seen it, engaged in it first hand.

    Presidents do not leak information, they declassify, which is completely legal, and just. Hopefully he will do more of it to show the left for the yellow dogs that they are. No?

  89. This is genuinely a serious question? Are you genuinely incapable of grasping the idea that previously classifed information might become politically useful to the Administration and was therefore declassified for that purpose? I want to live in your world, there, Brian.

    Fine, so my little world isn’t perfect. But if that’s the case, then in your little world, you’ll need to grasp the idea that previously classified information may have been a national security concern, and that the passage of time has made it no longer a national security concern, and was therefore declassified for that purpose. (Example: our plans to attack might be something you’d keep secret before the attack, but don’t need to be secret after the attack takes place.) I’m not saying which of us is right/wrong, or even that is has to be mutually exclusive. In fact, I fully conceed that the information did serve a political purpose, but expect nothing less from, well you know, POLITICIANS.

    Even now, there are genuine questions as to the actual declassification timeline. Apparently in the Bush administration, there’s such thing as double-secret declassification, which is the sort of declassification you don’t let other people know about.

    Again, if you’re looking for something sinister here, you’ll find it. If not, you could simply call this a problem with logistics and communication (which, by the way, I would loudly agree is the strongest area of incompetence in the Bush administration). That said, you seem to be suggesting that they secretly agreed to declassify documents without telling anyone, just so they could talk about it to the press first. If that’s the case, my response is: yawn…

    So you’re saying that if, say, a President of the United States did decide to out a undercover CIA agent just to get even with a political opponent — not saying Bush did, this is just a hypothetical — it would be perfectly okay because if a President decides something’s not secret, it’s no longer a secret? Would it be equally okay if, say, the president devolved declassifying powers to his VP, and he outed an undercover agent?

    Well, I guess this would be a real shock: Yes, I’m completely comfortable with that. You see, if the (hypothetical) President chooses to out an undercover CIA agent, then it means the person has been reassigned (i.e., is no longer undercover, and probably never again could be). Or are you suggesting that once you’re undercover, you can never be heard from again (a la Will Smith in Men in Black)? The danger is in someone outing a CIA agent who’s still undercover and in the field, who could get SHOT AT if someone knew she worked for the CIA.

    You know, if I have to post again in this thread how I’m writing to post my personal opinion and not to “persuade,” I swear I’m going to have to hit something with shovel.

    John – I think we all understand that you’re not writing to convince. Quite frankly, neither am I, as I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d suddenly change your mind and agree with everything I say. The debate itself is interesting (and, in many cases, informative – more informative than just reading what the MSM dishes up). So please don’t take disagreeing with you as a violation of your charter. You’re providing a valuable service here. Go with it.

  90. Thanks for suggesting the rest of use are idiots, then, CoolBlue, since the rest of us also understand what the word “hypothetical” means, and therefore stating the “facts” there was entirely superfluous.

    Forgive me for stating the obvious. I am quite unused to a diverse group such as this accepting the facts of the matter. Kudos to your crew.

    You may believe it’s entirely appropriate for a president to declassify information solely for the political purposes.

    I guess I am confused as to what you mean by “for political purposes”. Surely you recognize that it is quite necessary to maintain public support during war time. And the act of doing this is inherently “political”. It is also a national security matter in the sense that if you believe as Bush does that maintaining political support for the war is critical to success, than that which undermines that support becomes a national security issue and must be countered.

    I don’t think the “technically it’s not a leak” claim is going to find much traction outside the feeder-bar Republicans.

    It’s hard to tell who it is you are attributing the “technically it’s not a leak” claim to. The Whitehouse spokesman was pretty clear about what went on from the Administrations point of view.

    He said on April 7th:

    “There was a lot of debate going on about the pre-war intelligence that was used in the lead up to the decision to go into Iraq and remove a brutal tyrant from his position of power. There were irresponsible and unfounded accusations being made against the administration, suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence. That was flat-out false. The National Intelligence Estimate was a document that was provided to members of Congress. It is the collective judgment of the intelligence community. And because of the public debate that was going on and some of the wild accusations that were flying around at the time, we felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified, be declassified. And that’s exactly what we did.”

    Now I will point out a few things about this. First, only a portion of the NIE was decalssified. Second Joe Wilson had already talked about the trip to Niger and the search for “yellowcake” in the New York Times. So that horse had already left the barn.

    One could say that Joe Wilson did not reveal who sent him or what he found there, but that was only because he lied about who sent him and what he found there.

    In the New York Times.

    Joe Wilson was not a “critic” of the Bush Administration he was actively spreading disinformation. This is a critical distinction in my mind.

    But interestingly, the real story about the revelation of this information is that Fitzgerald was handed a pretty serious defeat in court. He will not be able to keep information out of the hands of the defense by simply claiming “classified document”. (Remember, Fitzgerald is a Government prosecutor.

    As a commenter over at Tom Maguire’s “Just One Minute” blog points out

    “Judge Walton has no intention of taking Fitzgerald’s word as to what does or does not have national security implications. Whether or not we, the public, are made privy to any such affidavits, the government will finally be forced to put its money where (both sides of) its mouth has been. Key pieces of the puzzle which Fitzgerald has been strategically withholding up till now will either go into the official record of this case or be excised from the proceedings. This is an important ruling, both because it holds the Prosecutor to account and because it implicitly recognizes the importance of the trial record itself to the proper administration of justice (including potential appeals).”

  91. The danger is in someone outing a CIA agent who’s still undercover and in the field, who could get SHOT AT if someone knew she worked for the CIA

    Actually, the danger is that a conversation will occur in some foreign government office that starts something like this: “Hey, Achmed, do you remember that blonde American woman we thought Habib was having an affair with a few years back? Guess what I just heard….”

    Of course, Habib’s remaining life will be quite unpleasant, which will make it very difficult to recruit Habib’s successor.

  92. The danger is in someone outing a CIA agent who’s still undercover and in the field, who could get SHOT AT if someone knew she worked for the CIA

    Actually, the danger is that a conversation will occur in some foreign government office that starts something like this: “Hey, Achmed, do you remember that blonde American woman we thought Habib was having an affair with a few years back? Guess what I just heard….”

    Of course, Habib’s remaining life will be quite unpleasant, which will make it very difficult to recruit Habib’s successor.

  93. Bill Marcy:

    “That you don’t see the power grab, inherent in your quote is almost amusing, if not for it being so sad.”

    Don’t be stupid, Bill. Naturally I see that the Whigs were attempting to perform a particular political maneuver. However, your posit was that all administrations attempt to grab power for themselves and their party; Whig adminstrations specifically endeavored to devolve power from themselves toward Congress (which, one does presume, the Whigs would be a major component). If you don’t like being being proven wrong, Bill, don’t set up conditions in which it is easy to prove you wrong. Or, at the very least, don’t make easily-refutable gross generalizations that can be taken out with a simple link to Wikipedia.

    “Presidents do not leak information, they declassify, which is completely legal, and just.”

    Legal? Yes. Just? Give me a friggin’ break. This one spectacularly fails the Clinton test, which is “if Bill Cinton did the same thing George Bush did, would the right wet itself with fury?” If you want to suggest the right would be perfectly keen with Clinton declassifying information strictly for political gain, I’m going to laugh right in your face. If Clinton did something like this, they’d have the articles of impeachment banged out by now.

    Brian Greenberg:

    “But if that’s the case, then in your little world, you’ll need to grasp the idea that previously classified information may have been a national security concern, and that the passage of time has made it no longer a national security concern, and was therefore declassified for that purpose.”

    I have no problem with this, obviously. I do wonder whether had not Bush decided to use this information specifically for political purposes, if it would continue to be classified to this day. This is an unanswerable question, of course. My suspicion is that it would be, because this is an administration which has amply shown in prefers to keep secrets. This being my suspicion, I find the release of this information, and the manner of its release, an exercise in hypocrisy.

    “That said, you seem to be suggesting that they secretly agreed to declassify documents without telling anyone, just so they could talk about it to the press first.”

    Well, I’m not suggesting it; if Libby’s testimony is correct, it’s what they did. My issue the motive and manner of declassifying the information. How and why things happen in Washington is not entirely trivial; that the Bush folks decided to release this information in “quasi-leak” fashion speaks, if nothing else, for its desire to have it both ways — to be able to refute accusations but not have to take responsibility for it, and to be able to continue to castigate the same sort of leaking it was performing, under the “it depends on what the definintion of ‘is’ is” thinking where a leak isn’t a leak because the president declassifies the information and tells no one.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, it looks, walks and quacks like a leak, and I suspect most rational people understand it was a leak, in design and intent if not in fact. Because people aren’t stupid, and they know what the definition of “is” is. As I’ve also said before, for the supposedly straight-shooting Bush crew to hide behind a slippery legalism for its leaky behavior smells bad.

    “John – I think we all understand that you’re not writing to convince. Quite frankly, neither am I, as I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d suddenly change your mind and agree with everything I say.”

    Well, if you said something along the lines of “you know, I really like pie,” I’ll be at that barricade with you.

    I do agree that these discussions are interesting and occasionally informative in and of themselves. I have appreciated in the past and presently do appreciate that people with opposing viewpoints do come and give me crap and refuse to just take what I have to say with a nod of the head. I can get testy, as I have a number of times in this thread, but at the end of the day I hope people know that I rather vastly prefer an audience of people who come from all points of view than an echo chamber. One does learn things, whether that is the intent or not.

    So, folks, do please continue to tell me when you think I’m entirely full of crap. I may respond “Oh yeah? Well so are you!!!” and then we’ll go around and around, but that’s not a bad thing, and no matter how flamey it gets, as long as there’s some substance there, you’re always welcome.

  94. Blue,

    A. You entirely ignored my critique of your argument style.

    B. I’m pretty pleased to be part of what you consider the problem.

  95. Blue,

    A. You entirely ignored my critique of your argument style.

    B. I’m pretty pleased to be part of what you consider the problem.

  96. “I am quite unused to a diverse group such as this accepting the facts of the matter.”

    Again, superfluous info there Coolblue. We know how republicans are.
    ;-P

  97. “I am quite unused to a diverse group such as this accepting the facts of the matter.”

    Again, superfluous info there Coolblue. We know how republicans are.
    ;-P

  98. A. You entirely ignored my critique of your argument style.

    That’s primarily because you misunderstood my argument. I am not saying that everyone who is anti-war is a communist, anarchist or whatever. I am saying that the whole anti-war thing has been associated with Democrats. This is why you now see a concerted effort on the part of Democrats to try to show they are strong on national security.

    B. I’m pretty pleased to be part of what you consider the problem.

    You and what you believe is not a problem for me or anyone else.

    The problem I am attempting to describe, poorly it would seem, has to do with Democrats continuing to lose elections at the national level and steadily losing power in Congress.

  99. Scalzi sez:

    “Also, if you really think Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is merely a “turf battle,” you’re a complete fucking idiot”

    OK, I’ll plead guilty to your point – it’s not a “turf battle” – it’s a “where is the line drawn & what’s appropriate in this odd war against a non-nation non-army” situation. If you’ve ever tried to apply law to real life situations – in my case it was applying tax law during my 23 year CPA career – you find that law frequently doesn’t cover specific situations neatly & cleanly. Just because they lost does not mean they were “treating the constitution as a suggestion.” They made the call they felt was in the public interest. If you consider it one-sided & dangerous (which apparently you do), that’s your priveledge. Protecting the public safety & civil rights is often a tricky balance. I’m glad you care about it…reasonable people can reach different conclusions about where to draw the line. You know that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the civil war. I doubt you lump him in with Bush.

  100. Scalzi sez:

    “Also, if you really think Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is merely a “turf battle,” you’re a complete fucking idiot”

    OK, I’ll plead guilty to your point – it’s not a “turf battle” – it’s a “where is the line drawn & what’s appropriate in this odd war against a non-nation non-army” situation. If you’ve ever tried to apply law to real life situations – in my case it was applying tax law during my 23 year CPA career – you find that law frequently doesn’t cover specific situations neatly & cleanly. Just because they lost does not mean they were “treating the constitution as a suggestion.” They made the call they felt was in the public interest. If you consider it one-sided & dangerous (which apparently you do), that’s your priveledge. Protecting the public safety & civil rights is often a tricky balance. I’m glad you care about it…reasonable people can reach different conclusions about where to draw the line. You know that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the civil war. I doubt you lump him in with Bush.

  101. Anonymous (although probably Chris Gabel) writes:

    “You know that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the civil war. I doubt you lump him in with Bush.”

    Well, they are both Republicans.

    It was illegal when Lincoln did it, too; he ignored his Chief Justice’s ruling on the matter, which Bush cannot do (or shouldn’t try, anyway, at this point). Although Congress eventually gave Lincoln the authority to suspend habeas corpus. I doubt the current Congress will do the same.

  102. Brian Greenberg:

    If the whole story of Bush declassifying the information for a legitimate reason and allowing Libby to leak it is true, what the hell is Fitzgerald doing? Why, when questions started being ask, didn’t Bush just say, “I declassified it and authorized Libby to tell reporters about it,” but instead promise that anyone who leaked it would be fired and allow the starting of an investigation that without question cost millions of dollars in public money? Why did Libby lie about it under oath and therefore have to resign? Why did the president lie to Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald interviewed him (not under oath, but that doesn’t make lying ok)?

    If the declassification story is true, my question is simply, why did the president allowed millions of dollars of taxpayer money to be wasted investigating something he and members of his administration (and only they) knew was done perfectly legally when he could have ended the investigation at any minute?

  103. Brian Greenberg:

    If the whole story of Bush declassifying the information for a legitimate reason and allowing Libby to leak it is true, what the hell is Fitzgerald doing? Why, when questions started being ask, didn’t Bush just say, “I declassified it and authorized Libby to tell reporters about it,” but instead promise that anyone who leaked it would be fired and allow the starting of an investigation that without question cost millions of dollars in public money? Why did Libby lie about it under oath and therefore have to resign? Why did the president lie to Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald interviewed him (not under oath, but that doesn’t make lying ok)?

    If the declassification story is true, my question is simply, why did the president allowed millions of dollars of taxpayer money to be wasted investigating something he and members of his administration (and only they) knew was done perfectly legally when he could have ended the investigation at any minute?

  104. Ted:
    If the whole story of Bush declassifying the information for a legitimate reason and allowing Libby to leak it is true, what the hell is Fitzgerald doing? Why, when questions started being ask, didn’t Bush just say, “I declassified it and authorized Libby to tell reporters about it,” but instead promise that anyone who leaked it would be fired and allow the starting of an investigation that without question cost millions of dollars in public money?

    Thank you, Ted. Thank you ever so much for unequivocally proving the point I made in my blog post on the subject.

    To summarize here: the answer to your question is because the “leak” being discussed here is not the same “leak” that Fitzgerald is investigating. Our discussion is about information from a previously classified National Intelligence Estimate discussing why we chose to invade Iraq. Fitzgerald is looking into the outing of an undercover CIA agent. They both involve Bush, Cheney and Scooter Libby, and they both have the word “leak” in them. Other than that, they are TWO DIFFERENT STORIES.

    Folks who are looking to sell newspapers, as well as (in this case) folks that want to make the President look bad, are tricking you into believing that they’re the same thing by doing something I call “News Cataloging.” They find a story that may or may not be important on its own, but gives them the excuse to re-tread another story that’s already been established as “newsworthy,” and tangentially link the two. People (like you, in this case) walk away with the wrong information, but they DO read the article, which is the author’s goal in the first place.

    The practice of News Cataloging isn’t at all unique to this situation. I’ve written about it here and here as well, and there are many, many other examples.

  105. Ted:
    If the whole story of Bush declassifying the information for a legitimate reason and allowing Libby to leak it is true, what the hell is Fitzgerald doing? Why, when questions started being ask, didn’t Bush just say, “I declassified it and authorized Libby to tell reporters about it,” but instead promise that anyone who leaked it would be fired and allow the starting of an investigation that without question cost millions of dollars in public money?

    Thank you, Ted. Thank you ever so much for unequivocally proving the point I made in my blog post on the subject.

    To summarize here: the answer to your question is because the “leak” being discussed here is not the same “leak” that Fitzgerald is investigating. Our discussion is about information from a previously classified National Intelligence Estimate discussing why we chose to invade Iraq. Fitzgerald is looking into the outing of an undercover CIA agent. They both involve Bush, Cheney and Scooter Libby, and they both have the word “leak” in them. Other than that, they are TWO DIFFERENT STORIES.

    Folks who are looking to sell newspapers, as well as (in this case) folks that want to make the President look bad, are tricking you into believing that they’re the same thing by doing something I call “News Cataloging.” They find a story that may or may not be important on its own, but gives them the excuse to re-tread another story that’s already been established as “newsworthy,” and tangentially link the two. People (like you, in this case) walk away with the wrong information, but they DO read the article, which is the author’s goal in the first place.

    The practice of News Cataloging isn’t at all unique to this situation. I’ve written about it here and here as well, and there are many, many other examples.

  106. Brian Greenberg:

    “You see, if the (hypothetical) President chooses to out an undercover CIA agent, then it means the person has been reassigned (i.e., is no longer undercover, and probably never again could be). Or are you suggesting that once you’re undercover, you can never be heard from again (a la Will Smith in Men in Black)? The danger is in someone outing a CIA agent who’s still undercover and in the field, who could get SHOT AT if someone knew she worked for the CIA.”

    That’s what you might say if you didn’t really understand what a CIA agent actually does. Sure, some of them are covert, sneaking around and looking at things, and could get shot if they were suddenly outed in the press.

    However, most overseas CIA agents are assigned there in a way so that it appears that they have some other purpose than ‘spy.’ So that they can go around recruiting new agents while no one suspects.

    And sure, every country where the Plames were assigned are now looking over old reports to see who they might have recruited. But in addition, keeping her identity secret was part of ‘sources and methods’ – the fact that an ambassador’s spouse was a cia agent is something that foreign governments might not have considered. How many other Ambassadors (or other high level consular staff) are agents? They are now all under an increased level of scrutiny – and their effectiveness is therefore diminished.

    Just because Valary Plame is back in the US does not mean that disclosing her identity did not have consequences. After all, at the time, she was still workig for the Agency.

    Keep in mind, on the Wall of Honor at CIA headquarters, there is a star for every agent killed in the line of duty. And the vast majority of those stars have no name attached to them. Because ‘sources and methods’ are so important to the Agency, even years after the agents were killed, they keep those secret. Valary Plame was still working as an agent – her effectiveness was not over.

    So, just because she wasn’t personally shot at (yet) doesn’t mean that leaking her status didn’t hurt her, the Agency and the effectiveness of our intelligence operations.

  107. So, just because she wasn’t personally shot at (yet) doesn’t mean that leaking her status didn’t hurt her, the Agency and the effectiveness of our intelligence operations.

    Agreed. I wasn’t talking about Valerie Plame above. The (hypothetical) question was would it be OK for a President to out an undercover CIA agent. My response assumes that in doing so, the President would understand the ramifications, and only declassify their status if there were no security concerns.

    The Plame revelation was done without going through these channels, and that’s why we have an investigation ongoing…

  108. So, just because she wasn’t personally shot at (yet) doesn’t mean that leaking her status didn’t hurt her, the Agency and the effectiveness of our intelligence operations.

    Agreed. I wasn’t talking about Valerie Plame above. The (hypothetical) question was would it be OK for a President to out an undercover CIA agent. My response assumes that in doing so, the President would understand the ramifications, and only declassify their status if there were no security concerns.

    The Plame revelation was done without going through these channels, and that’s why we have an investigation ongoing…

  109. Even if the question is generalized to, “would it be OK for a President to out an undercover CIA agent [for political gain]?” the anwer is still no. Even presupposing the type of review you assume – think of the agents. Why won’t anyone think of the agents?

    Although I say it flippantly, it goes directly to the morale of the undercover agents at issue. If you knew that your career could be terminated on a whim, would you continue to risk your life for that organization?

    You have to bust your ass to get hired by the CIA, and once there, you have to deal with at least the level of bureacracy you see anywhere else in government, you get paid shit, you can’t talk with anyone about what you do, and you get to risk your life for the priviledge. Some people have what it takes to do that, most don’t, no matter how romantic it seems to be a spy.

    The last thing the people working on the front lines of our intelligence community need is the knowledge that all their hard work could be thrown away for some attempt at political payback.

    Yeah, programs get terminated, people get reassigned, W could probably get anyone fired at the CIA that he wanted to get fired, but there is a difference between that (which everyone who works for the Fed gets to deal with) and being used like someone who was outed by the President for political payback would be. Security isn’t just about keeping secrets – it’s about having an intelligence agency that has the personnel to accomplish what it needs to accomplish. Allowing the President to out an agent alienates the very people we need to do that work.

  110. Darren quoted a bit from my earlier comment that I would accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats were a lick better.}

    He then went on to say:
    “To use your (and Chris and Bill’s) own arguing styles against you, I’m sure you felt the same way when you guys were bashing Clinton for things it turned out he didn’t do. There is little dispute about what Bush is doing, but there is alot of hand wringing on the republican side that the son of a bitch should have carte blanche to do whatever he pleases. Again, I’m sure you would feel the same if this was a democratic administration. (/rolls eyes)”

    I don’t remember what Chris or Bill have had to say, but I don’t believe that I ever bashed Clinton for something that it turned out he didn’t do. That is (back during his administration) I did take him to task for trying to expand federal powers — in fact I once complained in my online journal about the Clinton administration wanting “to have the government hold police state powers to spy on our email, our phone conversations, anything we might do. Oh yeah, I forgot… they only want to spy on bad people. Yeah, right.” (By the way, I also dislike much of the Patriot Act.) I also was really annoyed about his appearing on television to assure us that he had not had sex with Monica, felt personally insulted by that.

    I did not think he should have been impeached. Yes, he was guilty of perjury — which cost him his license to practice law — but that never approached the level of falsehood practiced by, say, LBJ. So he got a blow job in the Oval Office. Like JFK never did that? I thought the Republicans who were pushing impeachment were despicable for attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the government and our ability to function in a dangerous world all for purely partisan political reasons and personal animosity.

    I didn’t vote for either Bush or Gore in 2000 — I thought they were both scumbags. Since my comment here was to say Republicans vs. Democrats was a case of incompetent crooks vs. crooked incompetents, I do not know why you seem to want to label me as a Republican partisan. (Did you confuse me with a different poster who uses the same first name?)

    My comment also got this reponse from our genial host here: “Well, if one accepts this as a given, it makes even more sense to give at least one house to the opposing party, since the parties’ mutual distrust of each other would hopefully lead to the passage of legislation that trims off the worst excesses (and incompetencies) of each party. One can hope, in any event.” All I can say is that I agree with you completely on this, John.

  111. Darren quoted a bit from my earlier comment that I would accept any putdowns of the Republicans as long as there’s no pretense that the Democrats were a lick better.}

    He then went on to say:
    “To use your (and Chris and Bill’s) own arguing styles against you, I’m sure you felt the same way when you guys were bashing Clinton for things it turned out he didn’t do. There is little dispute about what Bush is doing, but there is alot of hand wringing on the republican side that the son of a bitch should have carte blanche to do whatever he pleases. Again, I’m sure you would feel the same if this was a democratic administration. (/rolls eyes)”

    I don’t remember what Chris or Bill have had to say, but I don’t believe that I ever bashed Clinton for something that it turned out he didn’t do. That is (back during his administration) I did take him to task for trying to expand federal powers — in fact I once complained in my online journal about the Clinton administration wanting “to have the government hold police state powers to spy on our email, our phone conversations, anything we might do. Oh yeah, I forgot… they only want to spy on bad people. Yeah, right.” (By the way, I also dislike much of the Patriot Act.) I also was really annoyed about his appearing on television to assure us that he had not had sex with Monica, felt personally insulted by that.

    I did not think he should have been impeached. Yes, he was guilty of perjury — which cost him his license to practice law — but that never approached the level of falsehood practiced by, say, LBJ. So he got a blow job in the Oval Office. Like JFK never did that? I thought the Republicans who were pushing impeachment were despicable for attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the government and our ability to function in a dangerous world all for purely partisan political reasons and personal animosity.

    I didn’t vote for either Bush or Gore in 2000 — I thought they were both scumbags. Since my comment here was to say Republicans vs. Democrats was a case of incompetent crooks vs. crooked incompetents, I do not know why you seem to want to label me as a Republican partisan. (Did you confuse me with a different poster who uses the same first name?)

    My comment also got this reponse from our genial host here: “Well, if one accepts this as a given, it makes even more sense to give at least one house to the opposing party, since the parties’ mutual distrust of each other would hopefully lead to the passage of legislation that trims off the worst excesses (and incompetencies) of each party. One can hope, in any event.” All I can say is that I agree with you completely on this, John.

  112. You’re right Jim. I didn’t mean to label you as a partisan. I had just watched “The Hunting of The President” and my ire was already up. I amalgomized you, Chris, and Bill into everyone that uses the fallaceous arguement that somehow its wrong to point out what is wrong with thing A. unless you give equal time to what is wrong with thing B. I would agree if all things were currently equal, but they most certainly are not. Thing B. being the dems can really only be discussed in a passed tense as having anything wrong with them because they are currently a mere token party. They seem to exist out of habit these days and not out of any reasonable political
    clout.
    I am interested to know what it is about Gore that makes you think he was a “scumbag” and as for about the Clinton administration wanting “to have the government hold police state powers to spy on our email, our phone conversations, anything we might do. Oh yeah, I forgot… they only want to spy on bad people. Yeah, right.”, I can only say that I’ve heard it argued (I’m no expert on it myself) that while Clinton may have wanted to do those things, the difference is that he wasn’t going to circumvent the FISA courts and do them without proper oversight and warrants.

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