Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Ethics, Government, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:02 am

In a perfect world, all that would be needed to understand the law would be a heap of common sense and a love of liberty. Indeed, in the early days of the Republic, “the law” was largely considered self evident and that the nuances of a particular statute were interpreted not by highly trained legal minds but rather by judges appointed or elected based on their reputations for fairness and their ability to apply country wisdom to a legal problem.

This was an age when the courts were considered great entertainment, when judges and juries were routinely swayed not by careful legal reasoning but by the powerful oratory and histrionics of up and coming lawyers. Most of our great statesmen in the early decades of our history were lawyers who made their reputations in this manner. When one of these legal superstars was involved in a case, it would draw people from miles around to watch and listen as the barrister would hold forth, delighting the crowd with humor or moving it to tears with pathos.

But for the law to be a civilizing influence, it was perhaps inevitable that these simple, frontier practices would eventually give way to a legal complexity so discombobulating that ordinary people like you and me would be forced to place our trust in writing and interpreting the law into the hands of educated, trained legal high priests whose common sense and wisdom were less important attributes than their ability to obfuscate and confuse the nuances of the law, all the better to bend it to their will.

In short, somewhere along the path to legal enlightenment, cleverness and chicanery replaced intelligence and common sense as prerequisites to being a good lawyer.

I may get an argument from some of my readers who practice law regarding that last statement but I think my point is valid; understanding of the law is now beyond even those who might be considered reasonably intelligent and perceptive. Without the technical expertise in the law vouchsafed those who train for a career as a lawyer, the rest of us are at sea when it comes to the great legal issues of the day.

I say this only in defense of what follows. In a case that involves the very essence of our constitutional system of government, only a relative handful of the 300 million citizens of this country have the specialized knowledge to examine and debate the issues raised in Judge Taylor’s decision on the legality and constitutionality of the NSA terrorist surveillance program.

This won’t stop the rest of us from forming an opinion on the matter. But that opinion will be based largely on what other, more informed sources have instructed us to think. And in the court of public opinion, like the lawyers of our early history, emotionalism and sensationalism seem to sway our opinion more than common sense and reason.

I say this realizing that I am as susceptible to this kind of argumentation as the next fellow. But in recognizing my limitations, I feel confident that I can nevertheless offer up some observations on Judge Taylor’s opinion that are as valid as anyone elses - lawyers included.

I have had reservations about the legality and efficacy of this program from the beginning. I still do. Leaning once again on authority, there are many people whose opinion I value that have said this program is unconstitutional just as there are those I consider equally knowledgeable believing the program both legal and constitutional.

But then there are those - Eugene Volokh and Orrin Kerr to name two - who aren’t sure. The reason sounds plausible; not all of the details (technical or otherwise) about how the program actually works have been made public. The Washington Post brought this out in their editorial yesterday:

The NSA’s program, about which many facts are still undisclosed, exists at the nexus of inherent presidential powers, laws purporting to constrict those powers, the constitutional right of the people to be free from unreasonable surveillance, and a broad congressional authorization to use force against al-Qaeda. That authorization, the administration argues, permits the wiretapping notwithstanding existing federal surveillance law; inherent presidential powers, it suggests, allow it to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance on its own authority. You don’t have to accept either contention to acknowledge that these are complicated, difficult issues. Judge Taylor devotes a scant few pages to dismissing them, without even discussing key precedents.

Readers of this site know that I have taken a rather jaundiced view of the Bush Administration’s stretching of the constitution using the “inherent powers” argument on secret programs of which we know little or next to nothing. It makes me uncomfortable even though I realize the necessity for the secrecy that must be maintained if these surveillance programs are to be effective. I was especially confused by the tortured reasoning used by the Attorney General in citing the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against al-Qaeda as a justification for what any objective observer would have to conclude is a broad based and troubling expansion of federal surveillance practices. It didn’t ring true then and it doesn’t now.

Having said that, I find it equally mystifying that so many on the left - including the probable next Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers - have already charged, tried, and convicted the President for engaging in surveillance practices whose exact outlines we can only guess at and with absolutely no evidence that the program has been used injudiciously. From what we know about oversight, it has not only been reviewed periodically by the Justice Department (causing alterations in the program to satisfy some of the attorneys there) but the NSA has apparently put strict procedures in place that are designed to prevent the kind of abuse so worrisome to all of us.

Is it enough? Who knows. Certainly not Lamchop and his hysterically unbalanced, unyielding, absolutist opposition to anything this President has done to decrease the likelihood of another 9/11. This goes for the rest of the cockamamie left whose hatred for Bush, the Republicans, and conservatives along with a lusting for power that would be unseemly in another, less forgiving age has poisoned their reason and clouded their judgement to the point that they question the very basis for the increased surveillance; that we are at war with fanatical jihadists.

In this context, it is easy for them to dismiss anything and everything the government does to protect us. Indeed, in their feverish desire to kill the Bush presidency, they have undermined the war effort, giving tremendous aid and comfort to people who want to kill us all. Whether this is deliberate or not is beside the point. It is the logical outgrowth of their hatred.

Does this mean the legality and constitutionality of these programs shouldn’t be questioned? Of course not. All Americans should welcome a discussion between opposing viewpoints on these critical issues. But having a civil, reasoned debate about the lines that must be drawn between expansive civil liberties and terrorist surveillance as the Washington Post is calling for is falling upon deaf ears on the left. Instead, hysteria, paranoia, and a shameless emotional exhibitionism rules the day.

I have said repeatedly that in order to win the War on Terror, we must find a way to engage the left in a dialogue that will bring both sides closer together so that some kind of unity of purpose can be achieved. Simply put, we will lose this war if we remain divided as we are. And as I’ve speculated recently, perhaps it will take a liberal President to make that happen. The pain and angst demonstrated by the Democratic left in being out of power is so profound as to border on psychosis. Hence, they will only listen to one of their own when he/she is sitting in the big chair and faces the awesome responsibilities of the office as well as the frightening truth about the nature of our enemies.

Perhaps then we won’t be seeing the “War on Terror” in quotation marks quite as often and the constant questioning of motives when some horrific plot is uncovered as it was last week in Great Britain. The breathtakingly stupid response of many on the left in this country to that near miss (they found “martyr videos” from some of the suspects which would indicate what a very near thing this plot was to unfolding) shows a continuing lack of seriousness on the part of liberals toward our safety and a sublime ignorance of the nature of our enemies.

Judge Taylor’s decision on the legality of the NSA terrorist surveillance program read more like a press release from a candidate for public office than a legal opinion. This seems to be an almost universal take on Taylor’s writings. Even Lambchop agrees:

Yes, sure, it is true that the judicial opinion issued yesterday is very weak, in places borderline incoherent, in its reasoning with regard to some issues. Anyone can see that. Most everyone who commented on it, including me, pointed that out. But that does not undermine in any way the fact that this President has been systematically breaking the law for no reason other than he thinks that he can, and that judge’s rejection of that belief is quite eloquent and powerful. Most importantly of all, it is indisputably correct.

How we get from “incoherent” to “eloquent” in the space of two sentences only someone with the brains of a sock puppet can say. But it isn’t just the weak arguments and torturous language that jump out at one when reading the decision. It is the same familiar language used by leftist netnuts to describe the Bush Presidency that makes Taylor’s reasoning - or lack thereof - so eerie. It actually made me giggle a little when I realized that the pejoratives she hurled against the President had actually appeared on Lamchop’s website on numerous occasions. Chiding the President for acting like a “king,” is straight from Lamchop’s (and most of the left’s) list of Bush bashing ad hominems.

Is Taylor’s decision, despite its problems, the right one? It doesn’t appear to me that she knows any more about the way that the NSA program works than I do. Perhaps she was privy to information not available to the general public. If so, she doesn’t make that clear. And if she has no more knowledge of how the program works than the rest of us, how can her decision have any merit? It is one thing for sock puppets and other bloggers to state flatly that the program is illegal and unconstitutional. They are, after all, internet pundits and their opinions do not have the force of law. But when a federal judge, armed with exactly the same information that I or Lambchop has, writes an opinion that is in its surety a very serious indictment of lawbreaking by a sitting President, one can legitimately question other motivations that moved Taylor to come down on the side of the issue that she did.

In short, the revelations about Taylor’s past made by many righty bloggers are perfectly legitimate points of discussion considering all the factors at work in her issuing this opinion. And in that respect, Judge Taylor appears small minded, partisan, and eager for publicity - all points that call into question her ultimate judgement and the impartiality of her thinking that led to the decision in the first place.

No, I’m not a lawyer. But I’m not brain dead either. Nor am I insensible to the role that politics plays in our judiciary. But all things considered, Judge Taylor’s headline grabbing decision on the legality of the NSA terrorist surveillance program is not helpful to the kind of ongoing debate we must have on the nature and extent of civil liberties in war time. Bush may not be king. But he is Commander in Chief. And in that role, the President must be given expanded powers when America’s citizens are at risk. Does this mean that the NSA program is legitimate and legal?

I just don’t know. I guess it depends ultimately on whether or not you trust the President not to abuse the enormous power he has, even without this particular program. I wish it weren’t so. I wish everything could be revealed, all decisions about how to best to protect ourselves made in the light of day, all logic and reasoning used to encroach upon our civil liberties made public. But by the ultimate necessity of winning the war, such will not be the case.

The rationalists in this country recognize this. The hysterics do not. And therein may lie the difference between victory and death.


Hugh Hewitt:

Not a single Democrat of any stature or visibility has stepped forward to criticize much less reject the opinion from Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declaring NSA surveillance of our enemies contacting their operatives inside our country to be unconstitutional. Their collective silence has grown more and more revealing as the chorus of legal commentary mocking the absurd opinion has grown throughout the day.

The Democrats cannot be seen to say anything against the opinion because of Kosputin and his minions. The party of Lamont is unhinged, and Judge Taylor’s opinion is now a new icon of the movement.

In fact, the Dems have been mostly silent on this program since it was revealed by the NY Times last December. Given the fact that the President, under the requirement of law, notified the intelligence committees of Congress of this program and that even Dems on those committees have mostly kept their mouths shut, one wonders that if those who know more about this program than Judge Taylor or Lambchop aren’t saying it’s illegal and unconstitutional, how we do we square this with Taylor’s decision?

Strange indeed.


  1. Conservative populism includes a strong pining for the good old days. The fact that these good old days harkens back to the 18th or early 19th century only adds to the charm.

    Returning to a legal system where “… the courts were considered great entertainment, when judges and juries were routinely swayed not by careful legal reasoning but by the powerful oratory and histrionics of up and coming lawyers” is the solution to perceived liberal judicial activism. Spin the other way - even if that’s the real problem here - and it’s a happy little world. Welcome to the Right Wing Nut House.

    “Not a single Democrat of any stature or visibility has stepped forward to criticize much less reject the opinion from Judge Anna Diggs Taylor…” A friend and I monitor Fox News Channel for a hobby at http://www.eyesonfox.org. I have a clip there of Mort Kondracke mentioning that Patrick Lehey, John Conyers, and Joe Biden have no problem with this sort of program “under the cover of law.” http://www.eyesonfox.org/?p=34#more-34

    I realize I’m in a nut house so it’s not surprising to read populist conservative stereotypes and talking points posing as real fact. But the fact that a judge overturns a decision sustained by, I recall, 5 lower courts doesn’t mean the entire legal system is corrupt, rotten, or packed with liberal activists. The only packed, overly politicized court I know of is the Supreme Court. Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, try to pack it with their ideological twins to spin the decisions to the correct political rulings.

    Comment by sknabt — 8/19/2006 @ 10:14 am

  2. Indeed, in their feverish desire to kill the Bush presidency, they have undermined the war effort, giving tremendous aid and comfort to people who want to kill us all. Whether this is deliberate or not is beside the point. It is the logical outgrowth of their hatred.

    Two question for you, Rick.

    First, at what point during Bush’s tenure do you think his opponents’ disposition went from antipathy to blind hatred?

    Second, should the Dems assume control of any branch of the federal within the next two to four years, how do you think they will deal with terrorism?


    -the Canine Pundit


    Comment by Sirius Familiaris — 8/19/2006 @ 10:51 am

  3. Where in God’s name do you see me advocating a return to a 19th century system of justice?

    Since it is obvious you either can’t read or just failed in reading comprehension, the point I was making had to do with ordinary people having a connection to the law lacking today.

    Or perhaps you didn’t read this:

    But for the law to be a civilizing influence, it was perhaps inevitable that these simple, frontier practices would eventually give way to a legal complexity so discombobulating that ordinary people like you and me would be forced to place our trust in writing and interpreting the law into the hands of educated, trained legal high priests…

    “Inevitable” denotes evolution, not a pining for the old days.

    You’re a bigger idiot than most of the lefties who stop by here. Most of them try to be a little subtle in how they spin what I say in order to skew the meaning. You don’t even bother with the fig leaf - you just make sh*t up.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 8/19/2006 @ 11:39 am

  4. CP:

    1. January 20, 2001.

    2. I have no clue. And neither do they.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 8/19/2006 @ 11:41 am

  5. Re: the two questions posed by caninepundit

    1. I disagree, Rick. I think it was on November 7, 2000.

    2. I don’t know for sure either, but given past statements I’d guess that the Democrats plan to work their asses off to arrest those responsible and bring them to justice in American courts, publicizing national security secrets in the process, in response to any successful terrorism attack.

    Comment by Giacomo — 8/19/2006 @ 12:21 pm

  6. Blowback From Watergate

    It’s doubtful that any presidency has been as detrimental the people of this nation, and America herself, as former President Carter’s term in office. His presidency can best be considered an aberration: Does anyone really think he’d have been elected

    Trackback by Joust The Facts — 8/19/2006 @ 12:24 pm

  7. Rick,

    I largely agree with what you have to say. I think that the President needs the tools to fight this war, but I’m concerned about the future for a couple of reasons.

    First, this war will probably be multi-generational. If the executive claims wide powers derived from the force authorization for a decade or more, then it will become institutionalized and the executive will be reluctant to give that up. We can’t underestimate bureaucratic inertia in this regard. From my perspective, we will be fighting this war in-perpetuity. I’m very uncomfortable giving the executive broad wartime powers like the NSA program for the rest of my lifetime. If it’s not obvious from my previous comments, I don’t consider this a right-left argument and has nothing to do with W as President. Those on the right who strongly support the widest possible interpretation of Presidential powers seem to forget the time-scale of this problem and the fact that sooner or later there will be a moderate or liberal in the White House. Take a historical look at wartime Presidents. Typically, there were one or two different Presidents at most during wartime. This war will not follow that model.

    Second is mission creep. Will these programs only be used to fight terrorists or can they be used in other ways? Who decides when one of these programs crosses the line into an unauthorized area? Who defines what a terrorist is for the purposes of Presidential powers and the authorization of force? (Can the NSA and other programs be used to monitor the domestic terrorists for example?) What mechanisms are in place to prevent abuse and who controls them? Mission creep is a real possibility that must be prevented.

    Those are only some of the questions and problems with the current situation. In my opinion, Congress needs to do its job and rewrite the vague and blanket authorization it gave the President after 9/11. It should write a new authorization formally declaring war and define who we are at war with and under what conditions that war could be declared over. As it stands now, who decides when this war is over? It’s not like we can invade the “terrorist” capital city and force surrender. The authorization seems to point at Al Qaeda. What happens if Al Qaeda is destroyed but other threats remain? Or what if, as seems to be happening, AQ is morphing into an even more decentralized organization with no central control?

    Congress should also explicitly spell out what powers the President has and does not have with regard to the “war on terror.” They should give the President wide latitude to prosecute the war but ensure that the executive cannot expand those powers to other areas without further Congressional approval. Finally, they should stipulate that the authorization will be revisited every few years to make adjustments or changes as necessary. The need to develop an oversight plan that doesn’t hinder the executive’s ability to prosecute the war, but still ensures that abuse cannot take place. Congress needs to make these changes and definitions because this war is unlike wars in the past and, like I said above, will continue for the foreseeable future.

    Unfortunately, I doubt any of my suggestions will be implemented because 90% of the people in Congress are political hack dirtbags, not to mention generally stupid. They need to step up to the plate and do their jobs but I just don’t see it happening. If they did their job, the judiciary wouldn’t have to make judgments on their legality based on limited, leaked, and one-sided information.

    Finally, if such a plan were implemented, I believe it would cut down on the politically motivated security leaks that exposed the NSA and other programs. If the limits of Presidential powers were defined, and Congress (or at least the full intelligence committee) had a defined oversight role, then it’s more likely that these programs would be seen as legitimate and legal. A false hope perhaps, but I think that the White House has itself to partially blame for these leaks because they didn’t definitively establish their legality and have consistently claimed the other branches of Government do not have a say in these so-called “wartime operations.”

    Comment by Andy — 8/19/2006 @ 1:43 pm

  8. I must laugh when I ponder the Democrats and the liberals being sooooo concerned about my constitutional rights yet they want to take my guns away. They would rather the government in a vital attempt to stop the killing of innocent Americans by terrorists be stopped from fishing for overseas calls ( I guess they think Grandma Jones in Iowa calling her daughter in Arizona might have her rights assualted) be stopped. They would rather allow a suitcase nuke to kill thousand and thousand but stand up and yell
    ” but we the people held fast to our twisted view of free speech”….yet they want to take my guns away.

    Comment by Bondservant — 8/19/2006 @ 4:14 pm

  9. The entire Bush presidency has been a victory for the terrorists and has given aid and comfort to our enemies. Examples below:

    1. 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch

    2. Osama is still a free man

    3. Iran was a mistake that took our eye of the ball of global terrorism and most likely has created more enemies that want to do us harm.

    4. We moved almost all our forces out a Saudi Arabia, just like Osama wanted.

    5. Airplane cargo still not examined.

    6. 95% of ship containers still not checked.

    7. 10 years after plot to blow up airlines using liquid explosives, no security to check for these items in US airports.

    8. Bush and Cheney’s use of the politics of attack, fear and division divide Americans in a time of war when we need a leader who units us. This helps our enemies.

    Bush is going to get us all killed. His incompetence is deadly. He talks the talk on terrorism but doesn’t walk the walk.

    Re the wire tapping issue. The meta issue is that almost all Americans aggree on the need for tapping. The real issue is do we believe in our book of rules, the Constitution, which means we follow the law including checks and balances between different branches of government or do we become like the terrorists without the rule of law. This means that the FISA court looks over the president’s shoulder because we do not trust any one man completely since absolute power corrupts absolutely.We believe in the rule of law and not the rule of one man.

    Some have argued that applying to the FISA Court will be too slow. In point of fact, tapping can start without permission of the court, so the argument re timelyness is wrong.

    Some want a King, I prefer the Constitution. It is time to decide. Which side will you be on?

    Comment by tthti — 8/19/2006 @ 5:40 pm

  10. I’m not a lawyer, either and am occasionally brain dead as I am, after all, a mom to a 16 year old, but I truly believe this ruling will be overturned by the 6th circuit Court of Appeals. The opinion, as written, was criticized by legal minds all around and even, shockingly, by the Washington Post’s editorial page. It was a petty, politically motivated opinion gleefully smacking the administration around from up on her liberal high horse.
    I don’t know what it will take for this country to pull together and act as Americans, not Republicans or Democrats. We are in seriously dangerous times and the squabbling only puts us in further danger.
    I keep thinking the Bush derangement syndrome will be taken over by love of country and our way of life, but so far, not so much.

    Comment by Karen — 8/19/2006 @ 6:12 pm

  11. 1. 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch

    Planning for 9/11 started on Clinton’s watch
    1st WTC bombing happened on Clinton’s watch
    Cole bombing happened on Clinton’s watch

    Obviously, presidents from Carter to GW Bush didn’t fully understand the threat.

    3. Iran was a mistake that took our eye of the ball of global terrorism and most likely has created more enemies that want to do us harm.

    4. We moved almost all our forces out a Saudi Arabia, just like Osama wanted.

    Does anyone else see the obvious contradiction in these 2 sentences???

    7. 10 years after plot to blow up airlines using liquid explosives, no security to check for these items in US airports.

    Bush hasn’t been president for the last 10 years. More terrorist attacks happened against the US on Clinton’s watch. Yet, you can’t seem to hold him accountable. The first plot to blow up planes happened in 1995 on Clinton’s watch. Funny, I don’t remember having to throw my toothpaste away when I flew in 1995 or after.

    Comment by bubbaj — 8/19/2006 @ 8:22 pm

  12. I beleive that the judge that handed down the ruling showed her prejudiced PC hand. Her penned reasoning seems to grab for anything to try and justify her rediculous ruling. Even some liberals who disagree with the terorist surveillance program say she did not rule on the merits of case. It is “chilling” to know we have judges who render decisions based upon their biases who can put ALL Americans more at risk of Islamofascist terrorism!

    Comment by Denny — 8/20/2006 @ 5:20 am

  13. What’s most puzzling to me is that the Administration has spurned its natural political allies . The ACLU v. NSA Court notes that “in enacting FISA, Congress made numerous concessions to stated executive needs. They include delaying the applications for warrants until after surveillance has begun for several types of exigencies, reducing the probable cause requirement to a less stringent standard, provision of a single court of judicial experts, and extension of the duration of approved wiretaps from 30 days to 90 day term.” ACLU surmises that “the wiretapping program … has undisputedly been implemented withtout regard to FISA…”

    Given Congress’ willingness to play ball with the Executive branch and given judicial expansionism in issuing warrants, why has the Administration isolated itself from its allies? It appears to be intransigence for intransigence sake- totally mystifying, especially for a bunch that prides itself on being politically astute. Dumb politics and questionable policy. I don’t understand.

    One minor point- you’re spot on in noting that no one knows how the program works. Lots of speculation, of course. But the facts need to be garnered before we delve into questions of unconstitutionality.

    Comment by kreiz — 8/20/2006 @ 7:49 am

  14. Kreiz:

    You make an excellent point and the way I’d answer it is that the reasons for a “warrantless” look at the communications of a terrorist here who is talking to another terrorist overseas and why even with the delayed FISA notification the Administration may have felt it unecessary to get a warrant cannot truly be known because so many of the technical details of this program are hidden from us.

    This is no small thing. It absolutely floors me that so many have declared this program “unconstitutional” based on incomplete and perhaps even faulty information. After all, the NSA has NEVER confirmed the details that have been published about the program. And it is unclear whether people quoted in news reports had the full picture either.

    This goes to Jeff Goldstein’s summation; that in order to prove a secret program constitutional we have to destroy it.

    It’s nuts.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 8/20/2006 @ 8:02 am

  15. If my understanding of FISA is correct, there are two basic standards - surveillance on US persons and surveillance on others. Surveillance on US persons still requires a probable cause standard, though it is reduced. For the purposes of intelligence, it may not be possible to meet intelligence requirements given the probable cause standard (though it is less than for criminal requirements). I’m speculating here, but I’m betting this may be the reason for bypassing the FISA court. It’s not clear what the court’s probable cause standard is in specific cases. For example, would the court allow surveillance of every US phone number found on a captured terrorists phone? There are also the time limitations with FISA. 90 days may seem like a lot, but given the fact that terrorist planning can take years, this isn’t a large surveillance window. Again, this is speculation on my part, but I’d guess the administration decided FISA carried too many restrictions. Like others have said, it would have been preferable if the administration had worked with Congress to amend FISA or create a new system to meet it’s needs. But with the lack of detailed information and the politically selective leaks, it’s hard to say exactly what has or hasn’t happened internally.

    Comment by Andy — 8/20/2006 @ 11:10 am

  16. …even Dems on those committees have mostly kept their mouths shut, one wonders that if those who know more about this program than Judge Taylor or Lambchop aren’t saying it’s illegal and unconstitutional, how we do we square this with Taylor’s decision?

    Strange indeed.

    Stranger still is the deafening silence from the left over the agreed upon stay of Judge Taylor’s injunction against the NSA program.

    Even “Lamchop,” who castigates others for criticizing in Judge Taylor’s opinion the vary same irrational incoherence which is his own congential mien, even he has had nothing of substance to say about the stay.

    If the world is truly “going to hell in a handbasket” over this NSA surveillance program, if democracy is truly about to be wiped from the face of the earth as the shriekers would have us believe, if out ultimate doom is to result from this intelligence gathering effort, one from which no one single instance of injury has been established, then where are the cries of those doomed to perdition in the iterim? Where is the indignation that the NSA program will continue in effect through the considerations of the 6th Circuit and beyond to the Supreme Court justices?

    Comment by Bat One — 8/20/2006 @ 3:51 pm

  17. Dear Rick,

    Interesting articles, and you’re 100% right about the tendency of courts and tribunals of all levels to write longer and more legalistic decisions.

    I won’t pretend to know whether the NSA decision is good or bad law. I do recall Ronald Reagan saying, and I know this may not be word for word accurate “People who are willing to surrender their liberty in order to gain security will usually end up losing both.”

    Too many conservatives, who ought to know better, have succumbed to this idea that everyone else in the world should adopt American style democracy or have it forced down their throats. Again, I refer to Ronald Reagan. The “Shining City on the hill” was meant as an example to inspire people.

    The fundamental problem with the Iraq war is not its exection, horrendous as that has been. In the case of war by choice or pre-emptive war, the case should be overwhelming. The kindest thing that can be said about it is that the intelligence was defective. It is crystal clear that Iraq under Hussein, who was a nasty character all around, had nothing to do with terrorism against the US. The idea that the US invaded Iraq to establish a democratic state doesn’t pass the laugh test. People will argue for many years what the motivating factors actually were.

    But the US is now in a dilemma. It can attempt to crush the resistance viz the French in Algeria, and demonstrate the talk about democracy to have been a fraud. Or it can allow the democratic process to work, and see authority in the country assumed by the Shia, who want a theocratic state and closer relations with Iran.

    All in all an unpleasant situation with no palatable answer.

    Comment by Ian McPhail — 8/20/2006 @ 10:11 pm

  18. And as I’ve speculated recently, perhaps it will take a liberal President to make that happen.

    “I’m going to cry and whine and hold my breath until I get my way.”

    Yes, I love the idea of giving in to their childish antics. Nothing works quite as well as rewarding juvenile temper tantrums. Yes, let’s let them hold us hostage until we see the correctness of their infinite wisdom.

    Comment by DaveG — 8/21/2006 @ 8:31 am

  19. There are things we are just learning about Judge Diggs Taylor. Check this out:


    I don’t know what to make of this yet. It does strike me as an ENORMOUS conflict of interest in the very least. There also seems to be a pattern emerging in another case involving another group before her court as a plaintiff. Is there anything to this?


    Comment by Carol Johnson — 8/22/2006 @ 6:21 pm

  20. I got on this website by mistake….I was looking for a certain type of grocery….however, after reading the commentary and the comments…especially those sticking up for the integrety of this administration concerning the privacy of the American people…wow…if you guys really believe that Carl Rove won’t abuse it..well I have a bridge to sell you..but it looks like you have already bought it..that means we are in big trouble…poor me. Well, as the song by Borodn goes (like he was a famous dude under the Czar of Russia in the 1850s….far be it for me to make your brains hurt)…”Fly away on gentle breezes…fly swiftly, songs of love…to greet our homeland. Where once we lived in hope and knew no sorrow, where once we sang rejoycing in our freedom. There beneath the ardent sky languid breezes cooled us. There the cloud-capped mountains dream…..above the murmuring sea”. Oh man…whats wrong with you guys? Enough of this…back to the grocery website.

    Comment by J Winstead...old fart — 8/23/2006 @ 1:26 am

  21. You don’t need a bridge to sell. All you need is one iota of proof that these programs have been used injudiciously. That they’ve been used to spy on political opponents or anti war people.

    Not. One. Iota. Just whatever paranoid fantasies you can make up out of whole cloth.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 8/23/2006 @ 2:54 am

  22. Cant tell you Rick…..it’s a secret….but I bet Carl Rove or Louis Libby could.

    Comment by J Winstead...old fart — 8/23/2006 @ 1:25 pm

  23. Hey Rick..you old libertine bubba…where are you?

    Comment by J Winstead...old fart — 8/24/2006 @ 1:04 am

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