Thursday, August 24, 2006

David Reinhard Needs A Reasonable Definition of War

David Reinhard has got to get a better FAX machine. He's a few days late on presenting the Republican counter-attack on Judge Taylors' decision that came out a week ago. Even the New York Times got there first - questioning the quality of her legal reasoning - and you know how they sit on stories. Of course, it is hilarious that the quote Reinhard holds up for ridicule is the same one the Oregonian featured on its front page, but no matter. The Reinhard position is that giving the President these search powers falls under the Constitution. It's all about what the definition of "unreasonable" is. Of course, the Republican argument for these government intrusions into our private lives, is that we are at war. This also triggers the special circumstances of the War Powers Act. Okay, so how about a reasonable definition of war? After all, we're told we'll be in this one for the rest of our lifetimes. That means these special powers for the President will be virtually permanent. So what makes it a war? Who is it against? What country are we fighting here? Don't you see that once we start declaring war on religions or terrorist cells, there's no end to it? Do we have to lose our rights forever because of the war on obesity? How about the war on poverty? Everyone still refers to Iraq as the Iraq War but what we are doing there is an occupation. The mission might not have been accomplished but the nation state is ours. That's why we're building 14 permanent military bases and a gigantic embassy complex. We intend to stay and run it for a long, long time. Terrorism is real, but this war on terror is a legalistic marketing device, designed to trigger the War Powers act. If we're going to say it is constitutional to give the President the right to override our laws based on being at war, we better have a good definition of war. I would suggest that it include an opponent that was also a nation state. Not just some group. These blustery boomers throwing out their chests and saying, "We're in World War 3", might be helping to compensate for their own feelings of worthlessness, but they sound ridiculous. Did we worry about a doomsday scenario with the Soviet Union for decades, just to have these frat-boy clowns hype a world war? It's shameful, and the scariest part is they can make a real World War 3 happen. So I'm asking David Reinhard what his definition of war is? Could, for example, we lose our rights because of President Bush's war on the English language? The problem with wars against shadowy groups is that they never really end. There's no ceremony like on the USS Missouri after the Japanese surrendered. If there isn't a specific country that we are fighting, than these war powers shouldn't kick in. Remember, Iraq has already lasted longer than World War 2, and now they're asking us to cede these special powers to the President for the rest of our lives. That's unreasonable. That's tantamount to changing our form of government. If this so-called war never ends - the only thing that ends is America.


At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know -- let's charge Congress with the power to declare war! Put it in the Constitution even!

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Nice one, Auggie.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

If we start putting up walls between Congress and the president (and even the Courts) we'll have a bunch of seperate powers running the country! How would we manage? It's so much easier with Cheney in charge. He knows what to do. He's told us.

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, do you agree with the methods the Clinton Administration used to apprehend Aldrich Ames?

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Butch, I thought I'd lost you, buddy. I was going to ask you how it felt to have President Bush sell you out about Saddam's connection to al Quaeda and 9/11. Bush said Iraq had "nothing" to do with 9/11. You better email the White House and clue the President in on what you've been writing here.
As for Clinton, I don't think that involved data mining - a widespread search of millions of innocent people. I think Bush has done plenty that is guaranteed illegal and that this attempt to make a constitutional argument is little more than a PR stunt. Bush thinks of himself as above the law which is why he's ignored over 750 of them.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Seven hundred fifty is conservative. Don't forget all the laws broken by his handlers. The 2000 and 2004 elections come to mind too.

And don't forget the rape of the environment so his buddies can get richer. And the fleecing of the poor and middle class so his buddies can get richer.

Bush's administration makes Nixon and Reagan look almost lawful by comparison. But only almost, as they were Republicans too.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what the Clinton Aministration authorized to aprehend Ames: a warrantless ransacking of his residence. That's right - nevermind surveillance - this involved FBI agents entering his home and physically going through his belongings. A wee tiny bit more invasive that listening in on a phone conversation with an overseas suspected torrorist, don't ya think?

As for 'datamining', do you really want to go there?......"data mining - a widespread search of millions of innocent people....". Does the term ECHELON mean anything to you?

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Butch, Everytime I said that President Bush lied us into a war in Iraq based on 9/11 you always wrote in saying for me to check the Salmon Pak (sp?), which I did by the way. You seemed to be arguing against my point: That Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. So how did you feel when President Bush - one of the people who sold you the pile of crap you believe - left you twisting out in the blogging breeze by agreeing with me and saying Iraq had "nothing" to do with 9/11? Learn from this. You are being used to carry the message of liars. They've duped you and they couldn't care less about you. Wake up and help save America. By the way, the proof they were lying instead of just victims of bad intelligence is in the artful, devious way they phrased their message. That's what proves they knew it was BS. Meanwhile they have you defending them on the next issue after dumping you over on the Iraq War. They've got you right where they want you and it's really kind of pathetic.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Chuck Butcher said...

It seems really odd to have to remind a "conservative" that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are historical documents with plenty of written evidence of what was intended. The same people who insist on a historically accurate interpretation of the 2nd Amendment seem to be able to ignore the others. I don't, won't, and have made it a part of a Democratic political campaign, but then, I'm not a "conservative." I also think the Patriot Act is the antithesis of its name, it's not patriotic to waste the lives and health of soldiers for lies, and that George W Bush is a dry drunk, mean spirited, selfish, greedy, ignorant, psuedo-religous prick who'd love to put us back into the Robber Baron Era.

Oh, yes, I don't care which despised minority you're abridging the BOR to prosecute, doing so makes you a criminal and in violation of the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, whatever Party, whatever "ism." Those still supporting GWB are supporting something other than America.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... now liberals are arguing AGAINST the "Living constitution"? Where were all you strict constructionists when there was push for broad intepretations of the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments? My what interesting times we live - when suddenly the advocates for strict interpretation advocate broad interpretation. And I admit this is hyprocrisy on both sides of the political spectrum. Although I still argue that Bush has the Constitution authority he exercises by writ, not interpretation.

As for Salman Pak, I used that to counter the ignorant premise that Saddam had no ties to Al Quaeda, not that he ordered the attacks on 9/11. But it is not too broad a premise to assert that by harboring, financing, and training Al Quaeda operatives at Salman Pak for years prior to 9/11, he indirectly aided Al Quaeda in implementing the plot. Note - I said "indirectly". Just as the Taliban indirectly aided the plot by giving safe haven to Al Quaeda. I have never asserted that Saddam was directly related to 9/11. But it is foolish to continue to deny that he had ties to Al Quaeda, and even more foolish to assume that it is impossible that once he reconstituted his WMD programs, some wouldn't have found its way to the operatives at Salman Pak.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Butch, the problem is that the people you support did make that assertion. Where's the threshold before you say it was wrong? Do we have to lose as many soldiers in Iraq as died in the 9/11 Towers before you admit that lying our young Americans to their deaths was a crime?
If you are looking for connections between Saddam and other entities, why don't you look at the American government. We had much more to do with Saddam. According to your twisted logic we should attack ourselves for directly helping Saddam.
I acknowledge the Republican strategy of focusing on the reasoning or rights we had to go after Iraq. It deflects from Part 2 of the equation: That the plan was fatally flawed and is not working, except to help al Quaeda. That brings us back into a less defensible part of this: That this whole misadventure was a stupid idea run by an idiot.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, I can understand why people like you feel the way you do. I just disagree with your whole premise that this has been a mistake. It has been difficult - a mess even - but I still believe that in the end we will look back and think it was worth it. That may be decades from now, but in the end I truly believe that is how this will be viewed.

First of all, if anything, I think that Saddam's involvement with Al Quaeda has been understated - not overstated as you surmise. Michael Scheuer was the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit in 1998, when Clinton's Justice Department indicted bin Laden. Here is a paragraph from Count 4 of the indictment:

"Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq."

Read the last sentence of that paragraph again. Do you suppose that Scheuer spoke up back in 1998 to tell the Justice Department they had it all wrong? Was Clinton's Justice Department twisting the intelligence it got from Scheuer's unit at the CIA? Or is Scheuer the biggest liar since Joe Wilson? Or has Scheuer always been correct and you now have to admit that was a much greater connection between Al Quaeda and Iraq than anyone on the left would like to admit?

Now, lets take an example from our recent history and compare: Korea. Korea was a war that we were absolutely winning. The North was on the verge of collapse but the toll on our forces was severe and our government lost the backing of the American poeple. So rather than slogging through and defeating the Communist North and turning over full control of Korea to the South - which has since become one of our staunchest allies in the region - we pulled out, segregated the North from the rest of the Country and allowed it to fester.

Now look what we've got: a rogue, suppressive communist state lead by a madman who has Nukes and is practicing lobbing missiles at Hawaii and Japan. Do you think we would have been better served had we never aided South Korea to begin with or if we had stuck it out and finished the job?

The problem is you are judging this war in the present - and history tells us that is a mistake. In those terms, D-Day was a massive failure. Most Americans are clueless that the Tet Offensive was militarily a colossal defeat for the North Vietnamese. You may disagree with the reasons we started this, but you must understand how important it is that we now finish it.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I think finishing it involves having the Iraq oil industry up and running. One thing I noticed as a child is that an oil industry is highly vulnerible to attack, which is why Iraq is now importing oil - despite the assurances that this would pay for itself. You cannot strong-arm a nation to its feet if you're going to rely on an oil industry as the economic engine - not if the people hate you, which in Iraq, they do. Bush and Cheney have takien the second largest oil reserves in the world out of the oil pool. Smooth.
The thing I find tragic in your thinking, Butch, is the deductive reasoning. How do you look at President Bush's life and come to the conclusion that on an intractable problem like the Middle East, this is the one time he's going to be a genius? I don't get how you arrive at that.
The scary thing about you saying that this will be golden in decades is that it is exactly what President Bush has been saying. So, you're essentially following people who have been wrong over and over again in the short-term and latching onto their only claim that can't be wrong because the decades haven't happened yet.
The quote about al-Quaeda working with Iraq on weapons developement is an absolute joke.
A wealthy nation state doesn't need help from a small band of terrorists hiding out in apartments in Europe and caves in Afghanistan. Was Saddam hoping they'd share their box-cutter technology? If that is your reasoning why we had to attack Iraq than you really have lost it. Saddam and Osama were not allies. Osama was repulsed by the secular nature of Iraq, and Saddam? He would have crushed Osama like a bug if Osama tried to throw his miniscule weight around. Saddam ran a nation. Osama ran a cave. You talk about finishing things and the danger of letting things go. What happened here is America got hit on September 11th and the world accepts that the plot involved Osama. We should have gone to where Osama was hiding and found him and killed him. Instead, for reasons that existed before 9/11, Bush and Cheney wanted Iraq. They actually pulled people out of Afghanistan to go to Iraq. So what message does this send the world as we're now weeks from the 5 year anniversary? That you can attack the United States and live? The reputation of the United States has been badly damaged here. Osama should have been dealt with by now. Meanwhile, the image of the United States is now a burning Humvie in Iraq. And Bush supporters like you, take it all in and go right on talking about what a brilliant move this has been. Oh wait. It's not a brilliant move yet, but it will be in a few decades.
Let me ask you this: What happens if all these military moves like the one I fear we are about to launch on Iran, disrupt the oil supply so badly that our economy crashes and we become weak the way the Soviet Union crashed? Would you still think this was a great bunch of decisions?

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How do you look at President Bush's life and come to the conclusion that on an intractable problem like the Middle East, this is the one time he's going to be a genius?"

Red Herring....not even Bush's staunchest critics think that this was Bush's idea. Its the neocons, remember? The CEO of Intel isn't the one designing the microchips, and Steve Jobs didn't invent the iPod.

"What happens if all these military moves like the one I fear we are about to launch on Iran, disrupt the oil supply so badly that our economy crashes and we become weak the way the Soviet Union crashed?"

First, I would think that is what people on the left would pray would force us to convert to alternative fuels. Second, will never happen unless Iran wants it to happen - which they don't because Iran's own survival relies on Iran's oil more than the United States' survival relies on Iran's oil.

So, a question for you: Which do you fear most.....a drought of Iran's oil on the marketplace, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sitting on an arsenel of nuclear missiles anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Twelfth Imam?

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Who do you think looked at the neo-cons and said, "Now, these are the fellows we should listen to"?
President Bush is involved here. This is his baby. Cheney was his pick.
I've looked at the oil supply my whole life - I know what role it's played in our success as a species. If we lost a significant percentage of the oil supply millions would literally die from it.
You mention that Iran needs the oil sales more than we do. I just don't think that's correct short-term. We're the country using 25% of the world's supply. Just the extra money alone that Iran has made thanks to President Bush's bungling should keep them well for awhile. How long would it take to spin us into a depression? 6 months? Oil at 200 a barrel? Did you see Venezuela's deal with China the other day? We need these oil producers to keep our way of life going. By the way, none of the current alternatives is going to save us.
And the thing you're missing about Iran is that it might not matter what they do. These neo-cons appear to be preparing a military strike as we speak.
I loaded my home heating oil yesterday. What would happen to the price of oil if we attack Iran? You'd have to conclude that we would never do that based on that reason alone. But here's the problem, Butch: We've already done stupid things in the last few years. That's why oil is nearly at $74. That's what people like me are screaming about: These moves are stupid and they're killing us at the gas pump and elsewhere. One more like an attack on Iran and we will be in huge trouble. And yet, all the signs appear to indicate that's where we're heading. I actually have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why? Why would we want $200-a-barrel oil? Maybe you can tell me.
The only thing that I can think of that would explain Bush and Cheney's approach to screwing up the oil supply is if they knew something we don't about a futuristic new energy source. I mean it has to be really slick. A zero point gravity thing, or something with magnets that we don't know about, but they do. I pray that's what's happening. I would love to take this reliance on oil out of the equation. My father always talked about how crazy it is to burn it for energy when there are so many other things we could use it for. He always mentioned records since he was a big music fan.
He spent his career trying to keep the Middle East from melting down and he would be so pissed off at this crew. Oh my God, would he be mad. He always talked about the danger of turning the situation over to the generals. This is his worst case scerario, and even the generals are upset about how it's going.
One scary thought that could be driving this: Peak oil. Maybe we're acting this recklessly because we know the peak oil crisis is right around the corner. Did you see Russia is now ahead of Saudi Arabia in daily production? The dangerous part is nobody knows the actual reserves. The Age of Cheap Oil is over, but nobody knows how quickly the supply will become dire. The BP pipeline was already way below capacity. None of these countries have to tell us what they've got. Did you ever wonder why Iran is so interested in nuclear power?
Sure, your opinion is that they want to build bombs and kill us all. I wonder if they know something about their reserves they haven't shared with the world. Is this whole situation driven by Peak Oil?


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