Tuesday, July 11, 2006

John Dean Book on Right Wing Authoritarian Followers and How They Threaten America

John Dean recently had an epiphany when he found the data from years of academic studies into the conservative mind. There is a psychological profile of right wing conservatives that centers on the need for a strong authoritarian figure to tell them what to do. Dean explores this in his new book, "Conservatives Without Conscience". He examines the role of fear-mongering as a conservative force to unite the People and retain power, a thesis that was already widely known. But it is the look at the conservative minds as they relate to authority that is new here. I've often wondered why Bush followers don't see what he has done and abandon him. Apparently, there is a deep psychological need for authority that overwhelms individual thought. All this time I've wondered why so it is quite a relief to have an explanation that makes sense. Liberals and progressives are essentially anti-authority while conservatives are willing followers of the authoritarian personality. Fascinating stuff.
Dean doesn't believe we are at a state of fascism yet but he says, "we're so close to it." These authoritarian followers "stay loyal way too long." The current group - Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush - have taken this authoritarianism "way past where anyone's ever taken it in the United States." He included an anecdote about Gordon Liddy who told him he knew too much about President Nixon and asked what street corner the White House wanted him to go to and be shot. As Dean says. "That's a loyal right wing authoritarian follower in action at the extreme."

Amazon.com: Conservatives Without Conscience: Books: John Dean


At 1:26 PM, Blogger b!X said...

Video and transcript of Dean on Countdown.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Thanks b!x. I watched it on Crooks and Liars.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

A book that gives a very good explanation of the right's need to have a strong father figure is "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives" by George Lakoff.

He explains the problem righties have with making up their own minds, and their need to be told what to do and how to think. There's also a very good explanation how the right 'frames' issues to their liking, regardless of what the truth may happen to be. (Apparently truth is not held in high regard by Cheney and company.

(Hmmm... 'apparently' is the wrong word here. I should have used the definitive article -- 'THE'. Better yet: Cheney and company couldn't tell the truth if a hundred thousand U.S. soldier's lives depended on it.)

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

It's so obvious. The conservative movement isn't about ideas any more; it's a psychological trait. They talk about blind hatred for the President by the Left, but that's never been the driving force here. What's happening here is a blind allegiance to the Man. This isn't about Big Brother. It's about Big Daddy. This is a very dangerous mental condition that has to be exposed and monitored. Authoritarian followers are the problem. I always wondered why they wouldn't turn on the President no matter what. It's because they need a feeling of a strong leader more than they need good government. This is a very frightening mindset. It leads to fascism.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Something that can't be pointed out too often is the frightening similarity between the New Right (neo-cons) and fascism. It's been exposed many times in many places, but should be exposed as often as possible.

A concise reference is at http://www.oldamericancentury.org/14pts.htm

It even has pictures to help the righties identify with the ideas presented and the current counterparts of our era.

A must read for all, but alas, your blog, like too many that present the emperor as naked, are read by the choir.

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! It is hillarious reading a bunch of liberals trying to psychoanalyze conservatives. Do you honestly believe it that mundane and simple? Do you realy think that 'conservatives' all gravitate toward that political orientation for the same, general reason? You should listen to yourselves - you and John Dean are a joke.

If Dean's premise has any hint of truth, than why don't 'conservatives' gravitate toward strong DEMOCRAT OR LIBERAL leaders? Or do you concede that there simply are none?

At 8:43 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

I take it that Anonymous is unfamiliar with the phenomena of the Republican Talking Points.

Does he really believe that the Fox spinsters all come up with the same topic, within hours of each other, all by their lonesome? No, Daddy tells them what to say.

Unfortunately, it is probably true that they (the spin makers) provoke the followers to write the letters that show up a day or so latter in the local papers. That causes a feedback that O’Reilly and others can say is a ‘popular’ opinion.

If one can’t see this, then they should try removing their blinders and actually analyze the current state of our country. Start by looking at the reasons for the war in Iraq. That alone should lead one to the path of critical thinking.

If critical thinking is beyond their ability, they should look at something close to home. Try the oil company’s profits. The right says profits are up because oil prices are up. That would mean that their costs gone up. Profit is different. If I sell a candy bar for five cents, and the cost of the ingredients goes up 100%, then I could charge ten cents. But my PROFIT remains the same.

Take off your Cheney/Rove lenses and look at the whole picture. Especially the erosion of our rights It’s scary.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Nobody has ever gone this far with authoritarian rule in America. Sure, there were isolated incidents but in general. And Dean is not talking about the ideals of conservatism - you know the ones they talk about but don't follow. He's not talking about genuine conservatives like Goldwater. He's talking about this generation, the chicken hawk phoney macho men leading the country right now and their all-too-willing sheep-like followers. I think he mentioned it started with the Newt Gingrich years running the House. This is new unless you look at other authoritarian states from history.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Speaking of Newt, whatever happened to the 'Contract With America'?

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HILLARIOUS! This thread is like reading good satire. Here are a couple of liberals talking about how conservatives are nothing but mind-numbed robots relying on talking points and conservative hiarchy to form their opinions for them.....all the while exchanging liberal book recommendations that formed their opinions LOL!

"Nobody has ever gone this far with authoritarian rule in America." - Bill

Uh....apparently you haven't read up much on FDR's America, or America during the McCarthy era. I still have yet to hear ANY credible argument how this President is any more 'authoritarian' than Bill Clinton was. 'Domestic spying'? How about 'domestic ransacking' of a citizen's home like Saint Bill authorized? 'Illegal war'? Well, at least this President got authority from Congress - unlike Saint Bill who bypassed congress and went to war in Kosovo on his OWN authority. 'Geneva conventions'? How about just taking prisoners and 'rendering' them to countries that practice "real" torture like Saint Bill did? And don't even get me started on truth-telling. Saint Bill get his law license back yet?

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Nice counter-attack. The Bill Clinton diversion is still working. Keep it up. I disagree with your statement that I think "conservatives are nothing but mind-numbed robots relying on talking points and conservative hiarchy to form their opinions for them."
I think it's much worse than that. Your blind allegiance to Bush and Cheney is threatening to end the greatest country in history, and turn it into an authoritarian state, in which Justice Department officials say things like, "The President is never wrong."

At 1:41 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

At the start of this administration, Bill Clinton was responsible for all the ills of the world. (They forgot to credit him with the huge surplus he left for George to waste.)

Now it's more like "My Bush isn't as bad as your Clinton was." I last heard arguments like that in grade school.

Maybe the Bush worshipers don't point out the positive aspects of this administration because they can't find any. Unless they are already rich or own an oil company.

At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A predicted dodge of the Bush/Clinton comparison seeing as how it is incontrovertible. Similar, Bill, to your complete DODGE of my question when I asked you which one of your particular freedoms has been taken away. You didn't answer because the obvious truth is completely counter to your primary argument. Same as with the Clinton v. Bush example.

And Laurelhurstdad, it is not a childish argument to bring up Clinton when I offered up the comparison in direct response to the assertion that "Nobody has ever gone this far with authoritarian rule in America." Well, as a matter of fact if you take your Bush-hater blinders off, someone has gone as far as Bush, or farther. Let's segway this into the 'other' Clinton, shall we?:

Let's review:

Hillery on National Healthcare:
"I can't worry about every under capatilized business"
Sorry small business but you will pay if she's elected

Hillery on the Presidency:
"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president"
And you thought Bush was bad.....

On cooperation:
"When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about, It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."
She plays the Race card instead of doing her job. Dividing instead of uniting....
And of course she said this when she was running:
"I will fight against the division politics of revenge and retribution. If you put me to work for you, I will work to lift people up, not put them down."
So what's it going to be? Cooperation or attack? Looks like attack

Bottom line: She represents the things YOU hate about Bush except she carries a "D" by her name instead of an "R".

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Okay, here's the freedom that has been taken away by the Bush administration: my right to vote. Oh, I could go through the motions but Bush and his brother using a company called Choicepoint stole Election 2000. So there's my response to your question. The Bush administration has eliminated my right to vote. Now the usual line is that Election 2000 is so long ago - can't you let that go? Well, first, you're the one still living in the Clinton years, and second Choicepoint was recently used in a similar manner in the Mexican elections. So while the Right Wing authoritarian followers get all misty about Bush spreading freedom and democaracy to the world Bush has ended fair elections here, damaged our freedoms and is now exporting it to our neighbors to the South. None of this will change your mind one bit because primarily you long for a Big Daddy in Washington to make you safe. It's your blind allegiance to this mediocre meglomaniac that is the problem. By the way, I found Juanita Broaderick to be completely credible. So don't peg me like that, because it's a diversion. The difference between Clinton and Bush is that Clinton is out of power while Bush could end the world. Let's deal with the problems we have now. They are many and at the top of the list is the mindless devotion to a C-student who has no clue or desire to learn what the American system is all about. Instead he just wants to use a trumped up war, as an excuse to seize power. By the way. Do you know the fake reason the administration gave for sending Choicepoint to Mexico to get the voting roles? National Security to fight terrorists. Sound familiar?
So now that I've answered your question, here's one for you. What would President Bush have to screw up before you changed your mind? Is there anything he can do wrong or is the President always right no matter what?

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What total and complete HOGWASH. There is not ONE CREDIBLE SOURCE that alleges voter fraud. For crying out loud, Bill, Randi Rhodes is not a credible news source. Not even Al Gore or John Kerry allege the vote was stolen. The Combined Midia Consortium concluded that Bush won the election fair and square....PERIOD.

If you want to have a serious discussion, then lay off the black helicopter conspiracy theories.

FYI - here is an excerpt from the CNN article on the results. I'd post the link, but your comments section cuts them off. Its the fourth hit on Google if you type "2000 election florida combined media count".

From CNN:

"Study reveals flaws in ballots, voter errors may have cost Gore victory
A county employee shows a ballot to a National Opinion Research Center coding team. The coders marked their observations on specially designed, triplicate coding forms. They were not allowed to confer.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A comprehensive study of the 2000 presidential election in Florida suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president.

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago conducted the six-month study for a consortium of eight news media companies, including CNN.

NORC dispatched an army of trained investigators to examine closely every rejected ballot in all 67 Florida counties, including handwritten and punch-card ballots. The NORC team of coders were able to examine about 99 percent of them, but county officials were unable to deliver as many as 2,200 problem ballots to NORC investigators. In addition, the uncertainties of human judgment, combined with some counties' inability to produce the same undervotes and overvotes that they saw last year, create a margin of error that makes the study instructive but not definitive in its findings."

So, you can argue that Gore "should have won" and even that is still arguable, but the petty meme that Bush "stole" the election is a downright lie based upon obscure websites and a moron Kennedy who's article was so thoroughly debunked the day after it came out, I doubt he'll ever dare publish again.

Still waiting for the 'freedom' you've lost from this administration....but not holding my breath.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...and regarding your petty quip about my "mindless devotion to a C-student", where is YOUR Harvard MBA? Oh....and of course you will not gloss over the fact that George Bush is more educated than Al Gore and had HIGHER grades at Harvard than John Kerry.

But of course, you will probably research some other obscure website claiming the only reason GWB had higher grades than Kerry is because he somehow found a way to take 200 credits of shop or cheerleading classes.....and you'll accept it as fact of course.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

My source is Greg Palast of the BBC. I love it when the right wing trots out CNN to back their case up.
The election was stolen not with the count but by illegally taking thousands of people off the voting roles in Florida prior to the election. That negated 90,000 votes, more than enough to swing the election. It is you who has not read up on this, and if you want to think its a black helicopter stuff, you're living in a dream world. Fair and square? Even your beloved leaders in Washington would fall over laughing at that remark. And by the way, typing in capitol letters doesn't add any sense to your under-informed viewpoints.
I'm sorry about the C-student quip. For all I know President Bush is brilliant and he just says stupid things to throw everyone off.

At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1) citing Greg Palast as your source only reinforces my argument. When I start citing Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity as a "source", we'd be on even ground. CNN is the closest thing to a non-Indy media group that I can think of that the left will accept as legitimate. But I guess it is only 'legit' if it agrees with you?

#2) I only capitolize certain words because your arguments tend to completely ignore central points being made against you.

You are very adept at throwing around the conspiracies and degrading, funny quips toward those you loathe. Not so good at attacking or rebutting the substance of an argument. I show you that an independent consortium of EIGHT (sorry) media outlets - not known for conservative slant - found that Bush legitimately won the election. You trot out Greg Palast. Detach yourself, take a step back and a deep breath, and consider what one without a dog in this fight would think.

You are guilty of exactly what you are accusing (wrongly) of conservatives of doing. Whatever makes you happy.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

I love it when you poke a neo-con and he squeals something like ‘no credible source.’ They decide what is credible? Florida’s vote was invalid if only because of the mass purging of qualified voters. We’ll never know how they might have voted. The fact that Jeb B. and Katharine H. were running the show doesn’t help the case for legitimacy

Ohio was another matter. The interference by the administration’s people was so obvious even some Republicans were embarrassed. And the folk who ‘debunked’ Kennedy’s article have themselves been debunked. But anonymous may not like the sources, so I’ll leave that alone.

As for lost rights under Bush, the field is fertile indeed.

Amendment I – See Faith Based Initiatives, press restrictions in Iraq (photos of returning coffins too). Unrealistic fines for petty offences by broadcasters who don’t like Bush, the Patriot Act in general.

Amendment II – Cozying up to the NRA, forcing the destruction of gun purchase records within 48 hours, etc.

Amendment IV – See Patriot Act, illegal surveillances, etc.

Amendment V – See Gitmo.

Amendment VI – See Gitmo.

Oh heck, I grow weary. These were just off the top of my head. I didn’t get to talk about Bush and pals wanting to, for the first time, pass new amendments aimed at limiting a person's rights.

The number of national columnists who still support this administration is dwindling, and the few left, at least the most vocal, are comical in their rants. But I don’t need to point that out to anonymous, do I?

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurelhurstdad....heh. Nothing you mention - even if true - is even an erosion of a 'freedom'.

Faith based initiatives are not an erosion of freedom by anyone's measure. Press restrictions during war are well established (ask Al Gore, the war reporter for S&S), and I'm sorry that you disagree with Howard Stern's fines for his 'Anal Ring Toss' bit, but fail to see how that relates to politics. Seems to me he was under FCC's radar when he was a staunch Bush supporter. Gee, three strikes for you in just Ammendment 1. Ammendment 2 - golly, wasn't aware it was a "freedom" to have the government not "cozy" up to someone. Ammendment IV - PATRIOT was passed into law by Congress...thus not illegal. FISA not illegal either, or we'd not still be doing it.

The rest - citing Gitmo is not an argument, it is a hyperbolic reference that makes no argument.

If you are representative of what the left brings to the debating table, its little wonder the right is controlling every branch of government. You can't win a battle if you are unarmed. Only enhances that 'left is weak on defense' meme, doesn't it? :) Been fun.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I'll take Greg Palast over the mainstream news media any day. The trial in Florida is documented. A company was hired for much more money than the previous company and suddenly something like 90,000 votes didn't count because the names had been removed from the voting records for the most dubious of reasons. Around half of them were African American and the bulk of them were Democratic. It was deliberate, and run as a criminal enterprise by Katherine Harris and the President's brother, Jeb. And now the same pattern and the same company has emerged in Mexico to rig another election. If you don't like the Bush administration, don't blame our founding fathers. It took a crime to put Bush in office.
The one positive is the implication that Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity are unreliable sources. I applaud that kind of an admission of the truth. Greg Palast is an American hero.
I'm still waiting for an answer to my question that you dodged: Is there anything this President could do that would be going too far or do you buy the administration's position that he is the law because we're at war? How did that one Justice official put it: The President is always right?

At 10:11 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

You are so right, and I was so wrong. I got off on Bush and his many violations of the Constitution that I went off topic. I should not have said "lost rights under Bush". I guess I was laughing so hard at your comments I just lost my train of thought. It’s a good thing I don’t represent ‘the left’ as you imply.

However, to set you straight, passing a law does not negate the Constitution nor is a person’s right to privacy suddenly moot. The right to be secure in your person and papers are rights we enjoyed until Bush started eroding them. Same for the rights to trail, etc. That is the Gitmo reference. If you do not know what the reference means, please go read a newspaper. And while you’re doing that, read up on what fascism is all about.

I don’t claim to be good at debating. But I have studied Constitutional Law for four decades and can tell when there are shady dealings afoot. Bush is a puppet, thinks he is above the law, and he and his administration must be removed.

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Dear Laurelhurstdad,
We just attained blogging zen. In my prior post I wrote "the trial in Florida is documented" when I meant "trail." Then in your comment you wrote "trail" when you meant "trial."
There is no way the Right Wing can defeat us. We are communicating on a brand new level.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Maybe we were both struck by a sudden case of lysdexia.

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if you accept Palast as a source more credible than CNN or any other 'mainstream' media source, I'm done arguing about election fraud. The equivalent would be me trying to argue about the existance of Xenu with Tom Cruise or Beck.

If Bush has so "many violations of the Constitution", than point them out. If he has violated the Constitution, he would be called on it by the 'loyal opposition', no? Its easy to lob general charges, isn't it? But as always, the Devil's in the details. Funny how NOT ONE (sorry) member of Congress called for an immediate halt to the NSA 'domestic spying' program, isn't it? Perhaps because they knew damn well it was Constitutionally legal, but just made good politics? (which it obviously didn't which is why you hear NOTHING about it anymore).

If you have "studied Constitutional law for decades", I assume it is a hobby. If it were in a professional capacity, I pray for your malpractice carrier. You exhibit very little knowledge of Constitutional Law or of the utilization of established legal precidents by previous administrations.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

You still won't answer my question although you like to accuse other people of dodging: Is there anything this President could do that would be illegal if he declares that he has determined it's a matter of national security? Does that give him complete power? That's the Bush position in a time of War and I just wonder if your blind allegiance allows you to go along or is there anything he could do that would cause your puppy-love devotion to him to fade?

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course there are things he could do that would be illegal - anything that falls outside his war powers as defined in the Constitution. Like rounding up all progressives and putting them in an internment camp, for instance :)

At 11:49 AM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

This Anonymous guy is just to perfect a foil to have all to yourself, Bill. I hope he shares his ideas with others to help spread the mirth.

The Constitution is really quite simple in concept. A requirement for using it is that everyone uses it. That means everyone obeys the laws, even the president. (There are ways to fix unjust laws.)

Bush violated the law with the warrantless wiretaps. No one except a tiny group of Fox-like blowhards denies this. Informing Congress after the fact does not make this legal. ‘Signing Statements’ do not make it legal. It is a violation of the law.

I think the reason no one from the Loyal Opposition is holding impeachment hearings is because they are not in power. It would be sort of pointless, don’t you think? (Oh, sorry. I forgot.)

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurelhurstdad, I know one thing for certain about you : you are no lawyer or Constitutional scholar.

You cannot "violate" a law you are not bound by. Congress, by statute, cannot extinguish a core constitutional authority of The President. The President has the legal authority under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering. Congress does not have the legal authority to pass any law that infringes on this Constitutional right - no more so than Congress has the authority to pass a law taking away a President's right to issue pardons. That is a legal fact. I dare you to cite any law or valid legal opinion that states otherwise. If you'd like, I'd be happy to cite some for you.

Not only that, but it has been supported by past Presidents as well.

"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."

"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."

Executive Order 12333, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, provides for such warrantless searches directed against "a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."

Heck, a FISA court's own dictim read, "We take for granted that the President does have that authority [to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information] and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power." In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717, 742 (FIS Ct. Rev. 2002).

So, Laurelhurstdad, if you still insist it is clearly illegal, why hasn't even one congressman or senator called for the immediate halt of the practice? There has been some political granstanding (Feingold's Centure, etc), but no one has stood up and said, "Stop doing this now!".

The legality of Bill Clinton's warrantless searches of Aldrich Ames were not contested and this is less intrusive. You simply have no case. The Constitution, case law, and precident set by past Presidents flies in the face of your argument. But keep trying. This is quite amusing.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

You’re right, this is an amusing discussion. And I will grant you a point for not using the phrase ‘in a post 9/11 world’. Of course, you use that other deep well (‘Clinton did it’) a little too often, but you are working with so little. You also fall back on the precedent set by Reagan. Not really a good example when you are trying to argue that the current president is law abiding. Reagan probably ranks second among modern presidents for law and ethical violations.

Go back to 1978, when Ford was president (I see a Republican theme here) and Cheney and Rummy were in the White House under Ford. They worried that FISA could make their underlings criminally liable for spying on citizens. And that’s with the allowance for retroactive spying, which Bush ignored (and broke the law).

On December 17th, Bush (in his Saturday radio address) admitted that the NY Times article exposing the crime was correct.

Try this experiment: Look at the opinions published by a wide range of lawyers, scholars and political pundits from both the right and the left. Stack them in “it’s a crime” and “it’s not a crime” columns. The stack on the left (no pun intended here) is the higher one. Then look at who wrote the ones on the right (pro wiretapping).

Be careful how you stack. George Will wrote that he thinks the American people don’t care if Bush’s people spy on them. But that is not an argument supporting the legality of the matter. And you can’t put Al Franken in the right pile just because he said it’s ok to spy on Americans because the president did it, and if the president did it, it’s not a crime. (Wait, I hear echoes of Nixon here!!!)

It comes down to a simple matter of law. The law says ‘this’. Bush did ‘that’. Now go back to listening to Lars and Rush and your other news sources.

And by the way, I never said I was a lawyer or a scholar of any type. Please don’t make up diversions to avoid defending the flaws in your arguments. You seem like an otherwise engaged young person who speaks out on what you’ve been told to believe, and while I can’t admire that, I can understand it.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Here is absolutely the most hillarious assertion made in this entire thread: "I don’t claim to be good at debating. But I have studied Constitutional Law for four decades..."

Well, apparently is has taken you forty years to grind through Article I, because you obviously haven't gotten to Article II yet.

Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order. What part of this are you not comprehending?

Now, if we had another 120 years, you may have by then plowed through to the Fourth Amendment.

There is one relevant constitutional provision that acts as a restraint on the President's inherent power as Commander in Chief. That is the Fourth Amendment, which states:

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

So all searches and seizures of Americans or their property (including, as the courts have appropriately ruled, interceptions of telephonic and electronic communications) must be reasonable. Note, however, that this requirement does not apply to terrorists overseas. A Special Forces soldier can pick a cave arbitrarily and search it. He isn't trying to prosecute terrorists, he is trying to kill them. He doesn't need probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment includes requirements for the issuance of search warrants, and many critics of the NSA program seem to assume that this means that all searches must be executed pursuant to a warrant. This assumption is wrong. There are dozens of situations where warrantless searches have been approved by the courts. The overriding principle is that searches of Americans (defined to include resident aliens) must be reasonable.

One of the many situations where warrantless searches have been approved is when the government is seeking foreign intelligence information, such as information relating to potential terrorist threats. Next to the Constitution itself, of course, the highest authority is the United States Supreme Court.

At least three Supreme Court cases have discussed this subject. I'd be happy to cite them for you, but I fear it would be an exercise in futility. If I can't even rely on your reading comprehension skills, legal interpretation is completely out the door.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Gorok said...

Aside from all this hobnobbery, Why The Fuck do we need a president? Or governor? Or mayor?

The original discussion has to do with people needing authority figures. I don't think either of the main American political parties has a corner on THAT market.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

The founding fathers went out of their way to avoid a king. They were fighting a king. A president who can do anything based on national security, and who gets to decide what is national security, is a king. That's my problem. What the Dean book is about, is the psychological need in conservatives to have a king. Does it make you feel powerful knowing the ruler you support has unlimited power? That happens with football fans - when they're favorite team does well, they feel powerful. Do you feel if you support the ruler, the ruler won't hurt you? What gives?

At 7:11 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Gorok is right. This discussion has gone on too long. I plead guilty. I just can’t help myself. Whenever righties rise to the bait, I can’t help but throw chum at them. We (the geezers here at the Old Lefties Home) get cheap entertainment reading their responses. In fact, whoever gets the most rationalizations for illegal activity in one response gets a free beer. Alas, “Post 9/11 world” and “Clinton did it” don’t rate anymore.

And speaking of kings, try this. Substitute President Bush for King George in the Declaration of Independence. It makes for a fun read.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that, Bill, is what is so silly about Dean's whole premise. "the psychological need in conservatives to have a king..." Maybe I missed it, but is Dean a psychologist?

Maybe, just maybe, 'conservatives' are more concerned about common sense measures to protect us from being murdered and understand that solidifying the chain of command when implementing such measures is vastly more effective than entrusting it to an overweighted, indecisive buraucracy.

I'm a libertarian in ideology, but I am willing to make concessions toward executive power - concessions, not abdications - to implement common sense measures to save my life and my family's life. I don't advocate the government listening in on my domestic phone calls or reading my domestic mail. But I sure as hell advocate them listening in on my phone calls to a suspected terrorist in Afghanistan or some other overseas place.

Laurelhurstdad is typical of the Volvo-driving, latte sipping selective outrage left. You chastise me for bringing up Clinton in these arguments, yet you sat silently on your fat @ss while he perpetrated much more severe 'violations' of our civil liberties all because it was Bubba, not Bush. Well pardon me for not taking your alarmist rhetoric any more seriously than I do the gibberish of the 'BushCo hired a demolition crew to bring down the towers' crowd. You have about as much rationality, and back up your arguments about as solidly as they do.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I can tell you for a fact that you are wrong about your characterization of my reaction to Clinton versus Bush.
I simply wasn't as engaged in the process then. I remember feeling terrible about Kosovo but it didn't cross the threshold of doing something. I didn't do anything after Election 2000 either. What got my full attention was 9/11. I was outraged and pissed off. We all were. When I began to see it being hijacked for the neo-con agenda, and a war in Iraq, that's when I got involved. I thought the war in Iraq would be a big mistake - one that we wouldn't recover from for 50 years. I didn't feel that way about Kosovo or anything Clinton did. To try and make this a Love-Clinton, Hate-Bush thing is just bullshit.
It's not how it happened. Didn't you hear our esteemed leader say it a thousand times: 9/11 changed everything.
As for the Dean book, he stumbled onto some psychological studies. He's not a professional and hadn't heard a thing about them. He's reporting the results of professionals in the field. So don't swift boat him before you know the facts.

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