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What the Democrats Don’t Believe...
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, March 18, 2006

This annoys me..
The Democrat party on national defense....

Don't go after our enemies.
Don't listen to terrorists' phone calls.

(1) Don't go after our enemies — The Bush administration is not attacking North Korea, Syria or Pakistan (the likely home of Al Qaeda's leadership). Obviously, not "go[ing] after our enemies" is not, in itself, a bad national defense policy.

(2) Don't listen to terrorists' phone calls. — This is a strawman taken so far it becomes a lie. Name one Democratic politician or pundit who argues that we ought not listen to terrorists' phone calls. You can't.

You can't, because Democrats fully support conducting surveillance on terrorists' phone calls. They just believe that we should also get warrants.

There are interesting arguments to be had in the interstitial areas between the actual Republican and Democratic positions on these matters, but to invent such blatant strawman — to make such cartoonish caricatures of an opponents positions — is intellectually dishonest and ultimately destructive to political discourse.

These are important topics, people. Please, either treat them that way, or walk away before your basic unseriousness hurts us all.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
There’s a reason some on the right have adopted rhetorical tactics that include over-simplification and obfuscation, and even in cases downright deception. Those tactics work.

"Bush lied, people died" is accepted wisdom among a huge slice of our populace, including (sorry, Jon) plenty of MSM practitioners. Yet it is clearly nonsensical. The difference between making a mistake and lying ought to be known to every adult, but those on the left simply pretended that we were children who could be led into any thought pattern by enough repetition. Repetition can only be done if the message is simple enough, so they kept stripping down the message until they got to four words. So what if it’s a falsehood, eh?

I too believe those on the right do themselves no favors by adopting the post-modern rhetorical tactics of the left, and I wish they would stop. But I understand why some of them get so frustrated that they do it.

And there are plenty of people at various points on the right that do attempt to discuss rationally and argue honestly. The number on the left that attempt to do the same is embarassingly low. Getting the New York Times to stop leaping to conclusions just because they make the Bush administration look bad would do a lot more to further the cause of informed debate than getting some over-the-top righty bloggers to stop imitating leftists.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Gee, Jon, what’s the difference between...

Don’t go after any of our enemies.

...and...

Don’t go after all of our enemies.

...?

Your second point is a full of fecal material as your first one.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"Don’t go after any of our enemies."

And if you think that’s what a large number of Democrats really believe, Mark, then you have just exempted yourself from adult discussion. Sheesh.

And Billy, that’s horse puckey and I have a hard time believeing that you really believe it. Do you seriously think that there’s anything essentially "leftist" about that kind of stupid rhetoric? Will you swear, hand on your heart, that until recently strawmen tactics were the unique province of leftists, and that the good and pure conservatives are simply corrupted? Come on.

Jon, do you ever feel like you’re crying out in the wilderness?
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://catallarchy.net/blog/
Will you swear, hand on your heart, that until recently strawmen tactics were the unique province of leftists, and that the good and pure conservatives are simply corrupted?
No, and I didn’t intend to imply it. We all know examples of outrageous behavior on the right.

But I do believe, hand on my heart, that the worst damage to political debate in this country is caused by post-modernist leftists. I do believe that the percentage of leftists that engage in strawmen arguments and outright deceptive rhetorical tactics is much, much higher than the percentage of rightists that engage in such behavior.

Furthermore, such tactics are countenanced by the left’s allies (moderate-to-liberal Democrat’s for example) much more than the right’s allies put up with outrageous behavior by those on the right. If you doubt that, simply compare the overall reaction on the right to people such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to the overall reaction on the left to those such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
For your reading enjoyment: Only two years late!...
 
Written By: Sisyphus
URL: http://sisypheanmusings.blogspot.com/
"...to invent such blatant strawman... is intellectually dishonest and ultimately destructive to political discourse."
You mean like insisting upon the Gitmo = Gulag theme?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
If "go after" means overt military operations, yeah, we’re not "going after" Syria —- but we’re taking military steps along the border, and it’s been reported that covert ops are crossing the border from Iraq. We also have cranked up the diplomatic pressure on Syria pretty radically —- and note that they pulled back in Lebanon.

No overt military actions against North Korea —- but a pretty complete reversal of the Clinton/Carter appeasement strategy.

No overt military action against the government of Pakistan —- which has, notice, actually been pretty forcefully on our side since 9/11. But there has certainly been direct and overt military action against al Qaeda in Pakistan.

So to the extent that "go[es] after" means "major overt military action" instead of covert ops and diplomatic action, and to the extent that we ignore actual overt military actions that have been taken, making the assertion just factually incorrect, yeah, you might have a point.
 
Written By: Charles Martin
URL: http://
Billy,

I’m willing to concede a slight difference in degree, though probably not as large as you suggest. But insofar as those on the political right are more statistically likely to call bullsh!t on lame rhetoric coming from their own quadrant, I’m puzzled as to why you’d try to deflect Jon’s well-directed heat onto "leftists" that the Wizbang guys and their ilk are supposedly imitating. Isn’t Jon’s reaction (including blaming them and only them for their actions) exactly the right one?

You touched on something I’ve taken notice of, though, which is that sophistries pioneered by leftists tend to find their way into conservative rhetoric sooner or later. As mi amigo Razib aptly put it: "The left is pure science. The right is applied engineering."
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://catallarchy.net/blog/
Isn’t Jon’s reaction (including blaming them and only them for their actions) exactly the right one?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jon’s reaction, and I noted that I feel the same. But if one’s goal is to try and get to a better state of political discourse, my point is that bashing those on the right who don’t debate like adults is rather missing the point. At least there are some there who don’t have that problem. On the left, the problem is endemic and finding anyone who talks like an adult is very difficult. So that’s where I think the effort towards getting some adult debate started should go.

I’m glad you’re willing to concede a slight difference of degree between those sides. Where we’ll just have to part ways is that I think that’s being extraordinarily generous to the left. I maintain that the difference is more than slight - it’s a yawning chasm.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Gee, Jon, what’s the difference between...

Don’t go after any of our enemies.
...and...
Don’t go after all of our enemies.
The second is the position of both Republican and Democratic Parties; the first is a strawman, endorsed by neither Republican nor Democratic Party.

You may recall that the Democrats voted to invade Afghanistan. Their dissent on Iraq was, generally, that it could be done better in other ways. "Robust support" to internal resistance groups, for one.

You may disagree with those alternatives, but you cannot claim the Democrats want to "go after [none] of our enemies".
Jon, do you ever feel like you’re crying out in the wilderness?
Yes. Mostly when I’m reading lefty-blogs, but increasingly when I read righty-blogs, too. Disagreement I can understand, but it pains me just how warped most people’s views of "the other side" really are. It’s like two teams full of Don Quixote’s, jousting full-tilt with enormous strawmen.

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s Paul. Nothing else really to add. It’s Paul.
 
Written By: Joe R. the Unabrewer
URL: http://unabrewer.com
What about the "27 lawyers for every prisoner?"

Seems like parts of QandO want this, no?

p.s. I think it’s called "Hyperbole" and is a literary technique.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s also true that Democrats DO NOT want us to listen to terrorist’s phone calls, not if we don’t have a warrant. The idea that we need warrants to gather millitary intelligence on enemies and their adherents while in wartime is bizarre and ahistorical. The Democrats are rightly dinged on this issue, they are being idiotic.

Also Jon, for not honestly presenting the situation.

Now if it turns out warrantless intelligence supported the incarcertion of a US national taken while unarmed and not otherwise engaged in terrorism (remeber whatsis name and the blowtorches), then that would be unconstitutional—criminal prosecutions must be supported by warrants or otherwise "reasonable" searches.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Also Jon, for not honestly presenting the situation.
Bull. That you seem to believe that the President has "inherent authority" to conduct this domestic surveillance does not imply a requirement on my part to accept the doctrine. Not one word I wrote was dishonest.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"Not one word I wrote was dishonest."

Yes they are, or in any case they are evidence of a mild derangement.

FISA reads, in part

"there is no substantial liklihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party"

And you have not presented, you have only presumed, that there is a substantial liklihood of that. Are you saying 1 out of 10, or 1 out of 100, or 1 out of 10,000 is too many. You don’t know, and you won’t or can’t admit you don’t know.

Won’t is dishonest, can’t is, well, sad. Either way you are making a poor showing.

You simply don’t know what the h3ll you are talking about, but you certainly claim and have the right to make an idiot of yourself.

You also wrote:

"You can’t, because Democrats fully support conducting surveillance on terrorists’ phone calls. They just believe that we should also get warrants."

Then they should get a law passed that requires the military and the intelligence to get warrants before they do any sort of investigation of the enemy during wartime, which we are in.

Right now there is no such law.

Yours, TDP, ml,msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And you have not presented, you have only presumed, that there is a substantial liklihood of that.
Are you kidding? The administration hasn’t argued that they’ve occassionally, and accidentally, intercepted US persons. They’ve argued that they have the right to conduct surveillance on US persons.
Right now there is no such law.
There is such a law covering domestic surveillance.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"They’ve argued that they have the right to conduct surveillance on US persons."
They’ve argued they have the right to perform largely foreign surveillance as they have done—occaissionally intercepting phone communications with an American terminus—and point out that absent any evidence that the AUMF was not a statute authorizing abeyance of FISA, like all such authorizations to date, it places FISA in abeyance for purposes related to the prosecution of the war as FISA allows for.

Your fervent, even febrile, wishes to the contrary do not make it so. Neither do the prattlings of elected moonbats. The proper elected authorities overseeing such a special access, unacknowledged program have generally—no matter which side of the aisle the are on—found few grounds on which to criticize the programs.
"There is such a law covering domestic surveillance."
And it contains specific exemptions for just situation; the AUMF, the "substantial liklihood" clause...

I reiterate, you are dishonest or simpleminded or both not to see that not only is there no fire here, there isn’t much smoke.

The program is straightforwardly justified by the AUMF and precedents which are not slighted in it, therefore those precedents hold. You don’t have to like it, but you ought to acknowledge it.

The FISA is intended to prevent warrantless information gathering aimed at nationals and citizens on US soil, preventing warrantless intelligence from being used for political and criminal proscutorial purposes. So Hoover can’t have a wire in MLK’s bedroom—and that’s not what’s happening here, anyway.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Well, as a Senator once said to another flack, that’s the Administration’s argument. You are merely repeating it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"Well, as a Senator once said to another flack, that’s the Administration’s argument. You are merely repeating it."

And you are at best taking the opposition’s argument and repeating it. So far however, I have the benefit of history, the law, reality on my side—actual evidence of your assertions are completely absent.

This was not a "domestic surveillance" program, but a wartime military intelligence gathering program focused on external enemies which occaissionally intercepted communications with an American terminus.

If you can prove anything else, I’m sure the NYT would love to hear from you (’course they’d like to hear from you if you can’t prove anything, your ideological allies in this aren’t any more scrupulous of the facts than you are).

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
To be fair and scrupulous of the facts, for the substantial liklihood exemption to apply, said surveillance involving an inadvertent US domestic target would have to stop once a year for one second (or one 1 nanosecond, it doesn’t really specify).

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And you are at best taking the opposition’s argument and repeating it.
Yes, since the Republicans have refused to authorize an investigation and Senators don’t have standing to bring suit on this, it’s a bit difficult to cite anything but the arguments each side is making. Unlike you, however, I’m not arguing that there is only a "wish" by the "dishonest or simpleminded" on the other side. I can understand how one might conclude that the President has nearly unlimited wartime powers — and that such a situation obtains now — but it is beyond me how one can conclude that there’s actually no serious argument to the contrary.
This was not a "domestic surveillance" program, but a wartime military intelligence gathering program focused on external enemies which occaissionally intercepted communications with an American terminus.
Do you seriously believe the administration has only argued that the surveillance has been accidental? Surely you’re aware that the administration is arguing that they have the "inherent authority" to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance? (domestic = where one party to the call is a "US Person")

If your argument is that one party being overseas eliminates the requirement for FISA or that the administration isn’t trying to intercept calls involving a US Person, then it’s pretty obvious that you’re just not following this story in the least.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"I can understand how one might conclude that the President has nearly unlimited wartime powers"
To surveil the enemy? Which hand do you think the Constitution ties behind his back on that score? The right or the left?
"but it is beyond me how one can conclude that there’s actually no serious argument to the contrary"
Because the issue has only arisen at this time as the result of crass partisan politics? Because the idea he needs warrants to surveil the enemy in wartime is historically a novel one?
"Do you seriously believe the administration has only argued that the surveillance has been accidental?"
No, I’m saying that there is nothing in FISA which is violated if the intercepts of US originated calls are 1/10million or 1/10. By being vague on the score of what is "substantial", the law opens itself both to being voided on that ground, and to purely political manipulation by the unscrupulous.
"Surely you’re aware that the administration is arguing that they have the "inherent authority" to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance? (domestic = where one party to the call is a "US Person")"
And so they do if they do so pursuant to a AUMF or declaration of war. Legally they are identical. A call to an overseas terminus is an overseas call, not a domestic one. Hence, not a domestic surveillance program.
"If your argument is that one party being overseas eliminates the requirement for FISA"
I believe it does if the focus was on the foreign terminus, or if there is good reason to suspect terrorist involvement and evidence gathered by the surveillance is not used in criminal prosecutions (unless exculpatory).
"or that the administration isn’t trying to intercept calls involving a US Person,"
If they are only intercepting the calls of US persons which have foreign terminii, that is fine—the same way they can seize and inspect international mail.
"then it’s pretty obvious that you’re just not following this story in the least."
Oh, like you have any proof of your position.

At least my legal theories and history are coherent with each other.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
You seem to have a mistaken notion of what, exactly, this surveillance has included. You seem unaware that it involved the NSA intentionally conducting warrantless surveillance on thousands of US numbers. Not accidentally scooping them up — intentionally snooping on US Persons.

You also seem confused about what constitutes "domestic surveillance". Never mind, let’s skip to this part:
Oh, like you have any proof of your position.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales...
Now, in terms of legal authorities, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides — requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I’ve just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow — there is — unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That’s what the law requires.

The administration merely argues (sometimes) that the AUMF supercedes this, but even the court case they cite — Hamdi — does not bear out their view on this. O’Connor specifically limited her statement on the scope of the AUMF, and Congress had previously declined to extend such a domestic component to the AUMF.

What you’re arguing is that the original intent is meaningless, next to a Presidential "inherent authority" that vaccilates between "the AUMF supercedes FISA" and "the Presidents inherent authority to conduct surveillance for intelligence supercedes FISA".

Ultimately, this can only be decided by an investigation. Or, worse, by a lack of investigation, which could possibly establish the precedent that the President has a dangerously unlimited "inherent authority".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"You seem to have a mistaken notion of what, exactly, this surveillance has included. You seem unaware that it involved the NSA intentionally conducting warrantless surveillance on thousands of US numbers. Not accidentally scooping them up — intentionally snooping on US Persons."
You don’t understand at all, I’m not unaware, I’m not concerned. The government can monitor overseas mails in time of war, this is no different. It hasn’t been a problem, I doubt it will become one now.

And if this was a small percentage of the suveillance undertaken by the program, it could not be substantial, no? No matter, the definition of substantial is so vague as to be purely political, and I know where you stand. Unless the government has a warrant, you want a terrorist in Schenectady to call up Osama to discuss plans, and the government to be ignorant of that. For that matter, if Farouhk’s 3rd cousin in Pittsburg asks if he’ll make it to the family reunion in Wherethefvckistan, and we want to get Farouhk, and the whole conversation takes five seconds, you want the government to get a warrant or miss the conversation. Oh sure you might not want it put that way, but the fact that the one leads to the other and that such warrants have never been required in war before, these things either escape you or you don’t care.
"You also seem confused about what constitutes "domestic surveillance". Never mind, let’s skip to this part:""
If I make a call overseas, it is not a domestic phone call, hence surveillance of it is not domestic surveillance. I hope your side of this gets an opportunity to try to sell that sh!t so you can see how it flies.

And Gonzales certainly did say this:
"the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides — requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I’ve just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow — there is — unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That’s what the law requires."
And what he said was true as far as it went. It does not say what all else the FISA says, it does not get into the precedential and previously uncontroversial perogatives of the executive in wartime which the FISA implies are maintained by "other statutes", which sort of other statutes declarations of war and the like have always previously been.

There is nothing in Gonzales’ statement which contradicts what I have said.

And I was kind of hoping you’d bring up orginal intent, because I can thrash you with it in the eyes of the uncommitted. The original intent of FISA was to keep the national intelligence organs of the US from being used for domestic law enforcement and domestic political purposes.

Until you have evidence that is happening, you’ve got nothing on that score. It has nothing to do with Presidential authority.
"Ultimately, this can only be decided by an investigation."
No, it is a political row. It can only be decided by politics.
"Or, worse, by a lack of investigation, which could possibly establish the precedent that the President has a dangerously unlimited "inherent authority"."
No precedent that wasn’t already well established. Nothing new, and nothing dangerously unlimited. Or did you forget the political oversight?

I thought that wasn’t making an impression.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

 
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