Re: "They Have Made Their Decision, Now Let Them Enforce It."

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This administration is just running out the clock now, legally speaking. With a year-and-a-half to go, they just need to keep raising arguments that can be litigated, and let the delay in litigating carry them through.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:37 AM
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DailyKos has been going on about inherent contempt for weeks as an out for this.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:38 AM
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This kind of thing is obscene, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:38 AM
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3 to 1, and yeah on inherent contempt, but with this Administration I think that might come down to an actual show of force between the Capitol Police and Executive Branch law enforcement. And given the mismatch in force there, I'd guess that even a veiled threat along those lines is enough to keep it from happening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:41 AM
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Marty Lederman predicted this two weeks ago. Still breathtakingly lawless, though.

Does anyone think the Dems will actually try for inherent contempt?


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:41 AM
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Yes, I worry that too. Congress probably wouldn't go as far as ordering the use of force, but then there'd be a standoff, with the punditocracy screaming about a coup attempt.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:43 AM
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6 to 4.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:44 AM
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I started to post about this when i saw it on TPM, but when I think about it too much, I start to realize that McManus has been right all along and that I probably ought to go buy a gun. And then I have to tell myself to back away from the news and go to my happy place.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:45 AM
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The thing is, the only thing Bush has to fear (besides Harriet Miers being clapped into handcuffs by the Sergeant at Arms) is that people will explain on the Today Show, the nightly news, and the front page of local papers how breathtakingly contemptuous this is of the rule of law. What are the odds of that happening? It's going to get treated as he-said-she-said: "Views Differ on Shape of Earth". Or else it won't get covered at all -- too complicated! I don't agree with Emerson on the whys of the terrible breakdown of coverage of the Bush administration, but I certainly agree with him on the whats.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:45 AM
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As a prosecutor, this disgusts me. Actions such as this one are rapidly propelling me into the impeachment camp. As Frowner would say, time for the dirty hippies to make room for another hippy.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:46 AM
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Possible alternate titles for this post: "How many divisions does the Pope have?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:46 AM
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The Dems didn't even make the Republicans perform an actual filibuster. A show of force between the branches may be what's necessary to show the country what's going on, but I don't see it happening. In this heist, we're all lying flat.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:47 AM
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Waitaminute, couldn't Congress appoint an independent prosecutor to go to court, or is that not how the IP concept works?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:48 AM
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Actions such as this one are rapidly propelling me into the impeachment camp.

Just a week or two ago I was one of those here shrugging at impeachment. This is bringing me more toward the point of view that it is imperative that Congress start working on it immediately--that the administration has gone so far that there's no other choice.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:49 AM
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The type of Independent Counsel not subject to the President or Attorney General that Ken Starr was no longer exists -- the act creating the office expired in 1999. The only prosecutors that exist these days are a regular part of the Justice Department.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:51 AM
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Speaking of gall, this is being presented by some (Slashdot, etc.) as "Executive order overturns Fifth Amendment". Hyperbole or really as bad as they're saying?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:52 AM
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Is an impeachment that's doomed to fail worse than no impeachment at all? Seriously, the only possible good outcome I see is that we get really lucky, a wave of revulsion drags down eight Republican senators, and people learn to never, ever accept this kind of bullshit from the executive branch ever again.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:52 AM
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13: Congress no longer has that power, since Congress did not reauthorize the Independent Counsel Act back in 1999.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:53 AM
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15: Right, but if they pass a law starting the office back up... I guess it would need to go over the President's veto.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:54 AM
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Damn. Pwned by LB (with an assist from slow site loading).


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:54 AM
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What a gloomy start to Harry Potter Friday. What we need is a child Who Lived.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:56 AM
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16: Not hyperbole. The devil's in how they enforce it, but that Executive Order looks like a claim that if the Secretary of the Treasury says Unfogged is hampering the war effort, they can freeze my bank accounts, no further process required.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:56 AM
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Is an impeachment that's doomed to fail worse than no impeachment at all?

I don't want to go through all of this again, but I'll just say that I used to think the answer to the above was either "yes" or "doesn't matter, it's not the right strategy anyway." Now, I'm not so sure.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:56 AM
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Wow, that shit linked to in 16 is freaky, especially with the Pentagon essentially saying Clinton is helping the Iraqi insurgents by asking for planning for troop withdrawal.

First they came for the Unfogged server, but I was not a server...


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:57 AM
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What PF said at # 1, of course.

LB, you & the other lawyers on the thread have surely noted this phenomenon: a really bad, really stupid legal argument is sometimes much harder to refute than a good, but mistaken, argument.

That's because cases are decided on the precedents of other cases, so when somebody comes up with something so stupid, so outrageous, that no one's ever had the gall to argue it before ... the courts actually have to spend a lot more time pondering it, because there's no clear *precedent* against it.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 8:57 AM
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I start to realize that McManus has been right all along

I've had that reaction at times. Terrifying, no?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:00 AM
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Oh, absolutely -- the easiest case in the world to litigate is one where opposing counsel is just as good as you are, but you've got the stronger legal arguments. Screwy, messed up arguments are maddening to refute.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:01 AM
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a really bad, really stupid legal argument is sometimes much harder to refute than a good, but mistaken, argument

There's some truth in this. In a typical case, the argument poses little real danger. Courts don't like novel legal theories. But it's an annoyance.

Unfortunately, courts do like novel legal theories issued out of the executive branch these days.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:01 AM
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16: Hmm. The idea seems to be he's freezing the assets of anyone who commits an act of violence threatening the stability of Iraq or who provides financial or other assistance to someone who commits such acts of violence. Seeing as the damn war sorta kinda threatened the peace/stability of Iraq, I say this means the assets of the current administration and anyone who contributed to Bush's re-election are forthwith frozen.

But then, I read kinda quickly and maybe that's not exactly the intent...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:05 AM
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What I want to know is why, sitting here all morning listening to NPR (because I am a masochist), I haven't heard a single peep about this. How can our news media be so corrupt? How has it come to pass that we tolerate it? Whose castle can we crowd around with pitchforks and torches?


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:06 AM
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26: Let's not go crazy here -- McManus is the one saying that continuous war overseas is our only route to social justice at home. But he's uncomfortably close to right about how bad things are.

I'm reminded of a family story about Watergate: I guess this sort of conversation about "What happens if the confrontation between the branches of government turns violent" was happening then too. Having the family sense of humor, my dad came home from work one day, and told my mother: "Hey, did you hear what happened? The 82d Airborne is surrounding Washington." And it was close enough to the sort of things people were worrying about that Mom bought it hook line and sinker. She was still pissed about it when I heard the story fifteen years later.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:07 AM
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I never understood this "Don't waste time with impeachment" talk. What more important responsibility does Congress have right now than investigating the conduct of this president? Is there any possibility that such an investigation wouldn't turn up grounds for impeachment?

And if they can't get the votes to either impeach or convict, so what? You think an impeachment fight would distract Congress from enacting national healthcare?

Congress's failure to act has the effect of condoning this behavior.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:08 AM
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I haven't heard a single peep about this

See, this is Bob's thing he's always on about re: procedural liberalism. We get our asses stomped over and over because we still hold some scruples about following rules, while facing an administration that laughs at them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:10 AM
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One of the most depressing aspects of all this (well, second to the lawlessness) is the utter subservience of Congress. It used to be that all of Congress had a strong sense of their independent authority, no matter whether their own party was in the White House or not. So when it came time to impeach Nixon, IIRC many Republicans in the committee also voted for. Now it seems their only loyalty is to Party and Leader, and they'll stick it out to the bitter end.

Also reminds me of Timothy Burke's old post about the ability to shame.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:13 AM
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I really do think they should try to impeach Cheney.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:13 AM
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Would it be fair to say that the difference between Watergate and now is that for some reason party loyalty has become stronger among Congress than the desire to protect their institutional prerogatives? I'm not so much surprised by the facts, but surprised by how much things have changed in thirty years, that the Republicans in Congress don't seem to be bothered at all by the administration's attacks on the powers of the Legistative Branch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:14 AM
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Wow. 36 written without seeing 34, but we're right on the same page, aren't we.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:14 AM
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The Democrats haven't been so bold either. And there's also the fact that the president's party controlled Congress when some of the biggest scandals first came to light.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:15 AM
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"The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

That snoozer is the best you could come up with, Senator Reid? Really? Where's the fucking thunder, man? Shouldn't you be furiously indignant, at the very least?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:18 AM
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FWIW, I think part of the decline of Senate jealousy over its perogatives has to do with the disappearance of the Dixiecrats, which is a good thing in general. Having independent centers of power vested in Senate committee chairman would be super awesome now -- less so when it was being used to continually frustrate civil rights legislation.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:18 AM
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30 to 9, alas.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:20 AM
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40: True, but there's a difference between being obstructive of good policy and being contemptuous of basic rule of law.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:21 AM
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39 was me.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:21 AM
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Damn browser. 43 was me, too.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:22 AM
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I can tell.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:22 AM
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a really bad, really stupid legal argument is sometimes much harder to refute than a good, but mistaken, argument

You have just described my entire past week.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:22 AM
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From an administration that likes nothing more than to make broad assertions of Executive authority, that EO looks like another way of saying "We'll fucking impound your shit if we want to."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:22 AM
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16: Here's Spencer Ackerman's take over at TPM, along with Treasury's response.

As for me, it's hard to disagree with LB's 22. Especially when she can kick my ass.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:25 AM
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Maybe I'll start entertaining myself by writing to Charlie Rangel and begging him to get behind impeachment. If there's anyone in Congress with absolutely nothing to fear re-electionwise, it's him. Ah, the sweet smell of more entirely ineffective attempts at activism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:26 AM
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34, 36: The key difference between now and 1972-74 is the captive mainstream media. The flow of information is largely controlled by the bad guys, now.

In 1972, the NYT and WP were out discovering wrongdoing. Nowadays, they care very little when the president just comes out and admits it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:26 AM
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48: I am meek and ladylike, honest! Mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:28 AM
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Ah, the sweet smell of more entirely ineffective attempts at activism.

Remember when people were doing pointless viral public demonstrations? What if people did those again, only they had a point? At least it would feel like doing something.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:29 AM
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51: ZOMG LB is teh meek and mild!!!1!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:30 AM
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The key to getting Republicans on-board with impeachment seems not to be moral outrage--they don't give a shit. What freaks Republicans out is that the precedents set by GWB will also be taken advantage of by the next president, who will probably be a Democrat. All the pro-impeachment arguments I've heard from the right (like Bruce Fein's) express a deep terror that, in getting a limitlessly powerful office for a super-right-wing president who can fire judges for political reasons, expose political enemies to violence and harm, and suspend any and all rule of law at whim, you might just hand all that power over to someone like Hillary Clinton. If there's something that terrifies Republicans out of their obsession with GWB, it's a fear that Clinton will inherit just that much power.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:31 AM
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Muggles For Impeachment or something. Anyway, you lot are clever. And aren't most of you either in NY, SF, or DC? And don't many of you know the cool kids? An internet apparition requests that someone come up with something.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:32 AM
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54, are they really afraid of that? The power to impeach still exists. I think if a Democratic president appears, it will start being used again.

As we see with the filibuster, there's a ludicrous double standard between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to how acceptable the press thinks it is to use power.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:34 AM
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I'm in NY, but being physically close to the centers of media power doesn't mean a whole bunch. I suppose I could go sit in the Times' lobby and try and buttonhole people as they went to lunch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:38 AM
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Unfortunately, courts do like novel legal theories issued out of the executive branch these days.

This is the real problem. The fact that this particular administration may avoid accountability for its crimes is minor compared to the impact of the expanded executive in coming decades. Given the current composition of the Court, every power-grab this administration makes has the potential to be permanently enshrined as legitimate execuive authority. I am not comfortable with Kennedy deciding what the executive branch of the future looks like.


Posted by: NotATurtle | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:38 AM
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As to who controls what amount of force, maybe we could dust off the Command of the Army Act.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:39 AM
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I don't think the Republican party is that loyal to GWB at this point, and would be willing to lop the head off to save the body. But the one thing Congress on both aisles seems to agree on is that it's more important not to do anything rash that might harm one's own future political reputation than to act in protection either of one's party or, God forbid, the nation as a whole.

My guess is the reason Congress is full of bowing, scraping assholes when not even the MSM is patting them on the back for it is that they're all avoiding having remarkable moments in their careers that could be spun in unflattering ways in future campaigns. No one's taking risks or using strong words, just hemming and hawing about prudence and "the right time" this and that.

Plus, most of these assholes voted for the war to begin with, which was a terrible boner, but lots of people made that mistake. They don't want to be seen as the dreaded "flip flopper" who votes for the war and then to impeach the president obsessed with pursuing it. As if it's flip-flopping to realize "Holy shit, the president of the country has just told everyone alive they can suck it!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:39 AM
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Well, yes. I'm probably not as frightened as I should be -- I do believe that the 2008 election will happen, that a Democrat will probably win, and that whoever wins, Bush will leave office peaceably. But I'm afraid that what Bush has done will permanently transform the Presidency into a term-limited monarchy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:40 AM
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The power to impeach still exists.

No, but remember, the great and magnanimous leadership of the Democratic Party took it off the table, or some such phrase.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:40 AM
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Let's be clear. "The threat is more powerful than the execution."

Was re-reading the CT Berman seminar again last night, when I came across I think Henry saying that Sorel had called for general strikes. IIRC, not.
Sorel advocated the "Myth of the General Strike."

This is hard to explain, and I am still working on it. The 2nd amendment does not create the real possibility of violent revolution, but the myth of violent revolution. Nixon backed down because the invisible social contract behind the Constitution was too powerful to test, in his own mind.

Why do we revere in practice our Constitution more than other nations? Bushco isn't really attacking the Constitution and Conventions, they are attacking or attempting to replace something underneath, what supports these things.

The problem I have with procedural liberals is that they believe liberalism is self supporting and internally legitamizing. There is a blog seminar going on now on secular justifications of free will and morality. I discovered Max Scheler yesterday. I like him. Am I gnomic and incoherent? Irrationalism is fucking hard.

And I am not actually advocating hitting the barricades. Just, in some way, believing that we can, and especially, making Bush believe that we believe we can. Or making Bush want to believe it.

I think I need to read Baudrillard on simulacra.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:41 AM
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59: I'd never heard of that. Constitutionally a stretch, but sounds like an excellently practical idea these days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:42 AM
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I'm all for impeachment on its merits, but there's still the uncomfortable problem that impeaching Bush replaces him with Cheney, who's just as bad if not worse, impeaching Cheney doesn't really do a lot since the VP doesn't have any real formal power and nothing can stop Cheney from advising Bush, and impeaching them both replaces them with Nancy Pelosi, which looks uncomfortably like a legal coup d'etat.

At this point, I don't even fucking care about replacing elected Republicans with a Democrat, but I just don't think that could get out of the starting gates. And that's even imagining that they could possibly must votes for impeachment + conviction, which seems unlikely.

Maybe we should be pouring money into biotech research and see if someone can develop some kind of viral conscience.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:44 AM
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57: Right, what I meant was something more like this phenomenon a while back, where people were notified, by mass e-mail, to all line up outside of a Starbucks or something in the form of an ampersand, and sing the theme to Three's Company. Or something like that, but clever. And people did it. So if basically all the people on this blog and the other blogs we read were to do this sort of thing in a city, only clever and impeachment-related, that would be something.

something something something something


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:44 AM
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Constitutionally a stretch

Yeah, well I think half the point was to get Johnson to violate it, so they could draw up a nice clean article of impeachment. (In the event, it was the also constitutionally dubious Tenure of Office Act).

Even so, there was a period in the mid- to late 1860s where Congress had more control over the Army deployed in the South than the President did.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:45 AM
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31:Contumely. Or whatever.

What McManus mostly wants is 5 million government financed Peace Corps Workers which he thinks is only politically possible if we call them soldiers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:46 AM
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54: That fear hasn't emerged yet though, right?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:47 AM
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69: Bruce Fein's doing his best to make it appear, and I'm certain there are others. That video of the Bill Moyers show is totally worth watching, btw. First time I've seen a liberal progressive and a conservative activist at the same table nodding furiously at each other in, oh god... ever?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:50 AM
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Bushco isn't really attacking the Constitution and Conventions, they are attacking or attempting to replace something underneath, what supports these things.

Agree with that. Remain uncomfortable with points of meeting the mind of mcmanus. Come the revolution, I'm probably going to gin up a reason to throw you in the jug, big guy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:53 AM
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Yeah, I think the thing to do at this point is call and write one's elected officials to let them know that (some of) their constituents do follow the news and that we want the bastards impeached.

especially with the Pentagon essentially saying Clinton is helping the Iraqi insurgents by asking for planning for troop withdrawal.

This just pisses me off royally. Now the Pentagon's taking orders from Karl Rove? So, so, sexist. I'm telling you, Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee, with Obama as the VP, and we're going to have nine months (or however long--when's the convention again?) of thinly veiled implications that she's incompetent to be the Commander in Chief.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:54 AM
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I think the thing to do at this point is call and write one's elected officials

This is a good thing to do, but I'm not convinced that it's the best.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:56 AM
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Glenn Greenwald is on this and, as usual, is excellent.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:58 AM
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"impeaching Cheney doesn't really do a lot since the VP doesn't have any real formal power "

Impeaching Clinton did not, in fact, remove him from power. And yet it had some effect, or we wouldn't all still feel so bitter about it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 9:58 AM
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75: I'm not bitter about it, actually. Didn't support it, but it doesn't bother me. Yes, there's some value in gestures, but are you really seeing a substantive difference in behaviour if Bush is impeached but not convicted?


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:00 AM
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there's still the uncomfortable problem that impeaching Bush replaces him with Cheney

Impeach Cheney first.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:01 AM
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76: yes.

deterrence to future administrations if nothing else.

With Congress--they're showing contempt for the rule of law, yes. But they're also acting like people who are CERTAIN their opponents will back down.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:03 AM
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(but Cheney first!)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:03 AM
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68 cont:I was going to add something about the Roman Empire after the 1st century:jobs, economic stimulus & infrastructure, and organizing myth in the provinces. I would rather the UN or something did it, but the politics and finance is difficult. It is probably a stupid idea anyway.

I gotta go water the dogs, take them swimming, or they will eat me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:05 AM
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78: I see the opposite effect, actually. If future administrations see the, whatever, slap at Clinton which really did no lasting harm, and then a slap at Bush or Cheney that does no real lasting harm, I think that they'll regard impeachment as less of a threat, not more of one.

What's the "Cheney first" concept, here? Impeach and convict Cheney, let Bush replace him with another Republican VP, then impeach and convict Bush? There's just not time for that -- Bush'd be out of office before it played out. If the concept is just impeach and convict Cheney... Well, hell, I'd call my Rep and Senators to support, but I don't think it'd really change the behaviour of the Administration. It might be fun to see the expression on Cheney's face, but ultimately I'm not sure that it'd be productive.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:09 AM
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Everyone should make sure to (re?)read the Lederman post DaveB linked to above, here. One key thing is that there is an option left besides activating the Sergeant-at-Arms; Congress could file a civil suit for injunctive relief. Though I think the Sergeant-at-Arms is clearly the way to go; filing a civil suit makes it too easy to run out the clock. They need to rev up the outrage on this.

The one potential upside is that, *if* the Democrats discover spines, it could actually serve to discredit unitary executive theories. Which, alas, is why we shouldn't expect Clinton or other frontrunners to lead on this; they'd probably prefer to inherit a strong presidency, and IIRC Clinton was always a fan.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:11 AM
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It looks to me like you're all fucked. At least until 2008. Concentrating energies on say, stopping a possible attack on Iran, and on jailing these fuckers after they leave office might be better. Followed by a program to ensure this doesn't happen again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:13 AM
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If we really meant to do it and have the votes, I don't see why it couldn't be done simultaneously. Go through the process for Bush and Cheney, have the final vote on Cheney, and hand Bush a list of Republicans who the Senate would approve as replacement VP's, giving him a week to make his decision. Then have the final vote on Bush.

(I realize this is pure fantasy, but it's unworkable because we don't have the votes or the will, not fundamentally.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:13 AM
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Christ, these descriptions of the limitions of procedural liberalism sound a lot like my interactions with my sociopathic roommate.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:13 AM
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84: Well, yeah. I mean, I think it's two levels of fantasy -- there's the fantasy that we have enough votes to convict either of them (particularly Bush) at all, and then there's the fantasy that we have the votes and will to do it in a fast, merciless, organized fashion instead of drawing the whole thing out and giving everyone a chance to create as much political cover for themselves as they can.

A higher order of fantasy, if you will. I agree it's not like it's physically or procedurally impossible.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:16 AM
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Impeachment hearings are fine and dandy. But really, Congress has to start legislating laws whose clear intent is to overturn the administration's interpretation of the executive power.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:19 AM
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But really, Congress has to start legislating laws

Word. What else is a legislature for, after all? Why not start passing some very clearly worded laws and force Bush to veto them, or issue (more) obviously offensive signing statements?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:21 AM
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Oh, and the other problem with a "toss out Cheney, get a new VP, toss out Bush" approach is that the White House can stall it. "You gave us a list of VP candidates that you'd be willing to accept? That's nice. We nominate Karl Rove. No? How 'bout Rush Limbaugh? No? How 'bout the disembodied spirit of Andrew Jackson?"

Unless Congress had the additional will and votes to be able to credibly threaten to put Pelosi into the White House if Bush doesn't play along with the nice, civilized execution, it can't play. Which ratchets it up to yet a higher level of fantasy.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:21 AM
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Simultaneous impeachment.


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:21 AM
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Concentrating energies on say, stopping a possible attack on Iran, and on jailing these fuckers after they leave office might be better.

How are these energies to be concentrated? In a food processor? What energies are we expending on anything?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:21 AM
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89: No. I'm still in fantasy world here, but the idea would be "You've got a week if you want a Republican. Don't put forward anyone we'll confirm in a week? Say hello to President Pelosi." No stalling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:23 AM
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91: Orange post titles, natch.


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:24 AM
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"Concentrating energies on say, stopping a possible attack on Iran"

Actually, I think this is the single best argument for impeachment. If the House is already holding impeachment hearings, there is a RISK to launching an attack without congressional authorization.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:24 AM
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It's almost enough to make one think the secret motive behind the Starr investigation was to discredit the idea of an independent counsel enough that people wouldn't put up much of a fuss when it expired. Sigh.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:24 AM
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There's just not time for that -- Bush'd be out of office before it played out.

I know. Like I said, I was making the same or similar arguments a couple of weeks ago as you are now. What I was trying to indicate in my previous comments is that I've moved at least somewhat away from the idea that it's important to focus on doing the practical thing toward the position that it's necessary to attempt the impractical thing--nothing else fits the situation. That doesn't make it less impractical, or likely to happen. So yeah, we're basically just fucked.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:25 AM
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93: It burns, it burns!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:26 AM
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What energies are we expending on anything?

We are devoting tremendous energies to denial, obfuscation, waffling, foot-dragging, self-exculpation, toadying, nail-biting, cowering, and moral surrender.

Not to mention the colossal force expended on preventing the framers' collective grave-spinning from sending the East Coast flying off into space.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:26 AM
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It's amazing how everything constructive anyone suggests is far too extreme to be contemplated and too useless to be worth trying at the same time.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:26 AM
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And reducing Cheney's influence within the administration, at the expense of say, Gates, is certainly productive.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:28 AM
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I've come to the conclusion, contrary to what I thought before, that Clinton is so bad I will not support her, and will be bitter if she's the nominee.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:29 AM
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99: Why? That's usually the case: mcmanus suggests we let Red blood run in the street, and people say (a) that's too extreme, and (b) because it's so extreme, you could never get it done, besides.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:30 AM
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I'm in NY, but being physically close to the centers of media power doesn't mean a whole bunch. I suppose I could go sit in the Times' lobby and try and buttonhole people as they went to lunch.

Somehow I read this as "I could sit in the Times' lobby and cry buckets". Maybe that would work better.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:30 AM
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I am all for everything constructive anyone suggests.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:30 AM
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Also, public pressure for impeachment, even though in fact it is unlikely to convince even the Democrats to support impeachment, does at least ratchet up pressure on Congressional Democrats & Presidential candidates to try to placate us lunatics in other ways.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:30 AM
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102: yeah, but they're not arguing counterproductive & provoking a backlash, they're arguing "useless", having NO effect, in a way that suggests there is no possible useful thing one could do.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:31 AM
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99: I'm seriously asking here, but what constructive things for us, rather than Congress, to do has anyone suggested? I suggested writing to Rangel, and I'm going to, but it doesn't fill me with a lot of hope. Someone else suggested text-message based flash mobs, where a couple dozen people would suddenly emerge out of the crowds of Times Square, shout, "Chimpeach the Chimperor!" and fade away or something similar. Again, not filling me with a lot of hope.

I swear I'd do something constructive if I could figure out what.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:33 AM
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I, personally, am going to do nothing but read about Paris Hilton, but clearly one major problem is that the press isn't paying sufficient attention to things like this, and until they do, most people won't know, let alone care. So you need some sort of sympathetic symbolic action that will get coverage. All you lawyers and law professors know each other, at one or two removes, so how hard would it be to organize a day of respect for the rule of law, with lawyers and law professors basically going on strike for the day? A bunch of lawyers standing outside their offices across the country, not making any money, would get sympathetic coverage, and let all you very convincing people explain what the hell you're doing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:33 AM
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103: That was my first draft of the comment, actually.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:34 AM
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It's hard to have a constructive response to "Suck it."

I had a long talk with a political historian about this. In the long view of history, the only effective response a population can have against "Suck it" is violence. We talked about weaponry.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:34 AM
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In the long view of history, the only effective response a population can have against "Suck it" is violence.

Or to move to another country, if that's permitted.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:36 AM
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107- I took the time to read through 110 comments- is that not constructive?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:37 AM
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Sadly, no.

I have the pathetic impression that blogposts like this are not totally useless, but I'm pretty sure I'm mistaken. This has about the political effect of pasting flyers on lampposts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:38 AM
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President Pelosi. I really, really like that idea.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:40 AM
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It might be fun to see the expression on Cheney's face, but ultimately I'm not sure that it'd be productive.

So far that's been my take on impeachment, too, but there comes a point where even the effort is worthwhile. I'm pretty sure we're at that point.

Speaking of which, this pro-impeachment video is worth watching.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:40 AM
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There is literally nothing constructive that can be done before the next election. Destruction, or inaction, are the only answers.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:42 AM
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114 President Pelosi. I really, really like that idea.

Yeah, me too. It would alleviate the guilt of not really wanting to support HRC, though my 8 year old frequently reminds me that "It's about time we had a woman president."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:43 AM
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Someone else suggested text-message based flash mobs

This was me I guess. Hi.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:44 AM
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It might be fun to see the expression on Cheney's face

It's basically always the same.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:44 AM
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113: well, lots of flyers on lots of lamposts, based on readership. But yeah, blogging is basically pamphleteering. Which is perfectly respectable as constructive political activity--in the same way as trying to construct a life-sized replica of the White House out of legos is constructive: your efforts aren't nothing, but they're not going to accomplish anything unless a whole lot of other people join in in some organized fashion.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:46 AM
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re: 110

Yeah.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:46 AM
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how hard would it be to organize a day of respect for the rule of law

I like ogged's idea. It has lower levels of m-fun than mine.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:47 AM
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116:

asburd. You think just electing a Democratic president will undo the damage? I wish I believed that for a second. And future Democratic president will never be more receptive to liberals' concerns than they are right now.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:47 AM
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Why is Cheney's face so asymmetrical? He's never had a stroke, right?


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:49 AM
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Destruction, or inaction, are the only answers.

You've left out getting blotto in the grotto.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:50 AM
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Guess what? Cheney is going to be president on Saturday.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:50 AM
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the only effective response a population can have against "Suck it" is violence

Maybe, but do you think MLK, Gandhi, and others faced anything less than "suck it"? Maybe by "violence" you mean "the willingness to face punishment."


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:51 AM
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where even the effort is worthwhile.

Having written that, yeah, I confess that I don't have any idea how to make that effort. Neither of my Senators would be helpful--it's unlikely Graham would sign on; unimaginable that DeMint would.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:53 AM
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126: Finally, he'll be a part of the Executive Branch! Let's get him!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:53 AM
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Which is perfectly respectable as constructive political activity--in the same way as trying to construct a life-sized replica of the White House out of legos is constructive: your efforts aren't nothing, but they're not going to accomplish anything unless a whole lot of other people join in in some organized fashion.

Thank you Katherine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:55 AM
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You think just electing a Democratic president will undo the damage?

No, I think that the next election provides the first opportunity for any sort of constructive action by plebes.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 10:57 AM
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131: what, you mean voting? I'm in a safely Democratic state. If my state is close the country won't be. Why, according to your logic, should I bother?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:01 AM
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132, no, he means that AFTER A Democratic president exists, constructive action will be possible rather than impossible.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:02 AM
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Allons!


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:05 AM
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124: Just born twisted, I guess.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:09 AM
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132: okay, then he just completely ignored the part about Democratic presidential candidates being more likely to listen to us before the primary, when they can't take our support for granted.

Also, what do we even want a Democratic president to do about these abuses of power? Appoint a special prosecutor? Propose & sign legislation? We'd best figure out what we want, & start preparing the evidence & arguments for it, now.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:12 AM
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Dude, Katherine, you can stop wagging your finger at me. If a whiff of an impeachment vote comes 'round, I'll call up my Rep to ask for her to vote for it, and my Senators to tell 'em to convict if it gets to them. I mean, sure, I'm on board. I'm just saying, I don't think it'll accomplish much. But I promise I won't mention my reservations to any of my Congresscritters.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:13 AM
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I suppose that if you want to go that far you could argue that voting in a safe state is no more constructive and useful than building your own Lego White House and willing it to be real, but I have never accepted such arguments on the grounds that they're often disingenuous. And Democrats do win even safe states on the strength of votes, after all.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:13 AM
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okay, then he just completely ignored the part about Democratic presidential candidates being more likely to listen to us before the primary, when they can't take our support for granted.

What does that mean? The claim is that (a) there isn't shit the candidates, in their roles as Senators, can do at the moment, and (b) futile attempts to "do something, anything" (ah, Iraq) will in fact retard the candidates' ability to get elected.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:18 AM
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Talk them into promising to do something after they're elected.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:23 AM
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People won't care until this starts affecting things like the stock markets. If we invade Iran and China says "suck it" wrt our bonds, then people will care. Or at least, the people who have power and can do something.
I just dumped a lot today, but that was related to the bond market melting down due to housing crashing. Could be quite bad next week.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:24 AM
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Talk them into promising to do something after they're elected.

Maybe we can get them to commit to a humble foreign policy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:24 AM
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138: my point is that for an ordinary citizen, the effect of one's political actions are ALWAYS so small as to be arguably nonexistent.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:25 AM
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The Sergeant-at-Arms option has certain attractions. The problem is, though, getting the thing through quick enough to stop Dick vanishing off to his undisclosed location afore the cuffs click.

A Friday night when half the senate is out of tow sounds about right...you just need a majority, right?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:27 AM
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The Sergeant at Arms would have to get through the Secret Service and probably the Army first. And if he did try and fail, my guess is that all we'd hear about is "Pelosi's failed coup attempt."

Also, can the President not pardon somebody who's accused of contempt of Congress? I don't really see why not.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:29 AM
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141: For the financially clueless amongst us (me), what does this meltdown of the bond market mean for interest rates on things like CDs and mortgages? That is, what does "quite bad next week" mean?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:30 AM
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After all, you already had the "call the FBI in case the Secret Service gets me" thing with Olson and Gonzales.

"Tow" s/b "town" obviously.

The good news wrt Iran, by the way, is that both the carriers on station are due to return to base; and only one is going out to replace them.

In 1974, James Schlesinger as Secretary of Defense ordered the military to disregard anything from Nixon that he, Schlesinger, hadn't counter-signed..


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:31 AM
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Since the press will not start providing fair or honest coverage of these crucial matters (with honorable exceptions, but the trend won't be changing this year or next), any argument based on fear of bad PR is meaningless - there's no option available to Democrats that they can take and get good coverage. This is, in its way, a liberating thought, as both Camus and Frankl wrote about realizing and truly deeply accepting that at any moment you can decide to die, and therefore that you choose to live. Not comforting, but liberating.

One of the reasons I favor beginning impeachment proceedings right away is that they would create momentum of their own. There's growing public desire for action, and growing public dillusionment/despair that anything worthwhile will actually get done. Some of the republic's enemies are a cowardly and superstitious lot, capable of being intimidated by focused effort. Impeachment proceedings couldn't guarantee such a response, but they'd be one more possibility for it, and we need things that might work even if they currently look unobtainable rather than guaranteed inaction.

Do I expect it to work? Nope. Not without something shattering the Republican bloc hard in ways I can't foresee. But I think it's worth doing so that if such a break occurs, for whatever reason, the reste of the groundwork is laid to do the right thing and get these SOBs out as soon as possible.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:34 AM
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For instance, campaigns have policy committees, which draft volunteers to write earnest little position papers about what position candidate X should take on a certain issue. Most of these earnest little position papers are, no doubt, ignored. If I were to write one for the Obama campaign arguing that he needs to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate abuses of executive power, and that primary voters would strongly support this, it would probably be ignored. But would it have LESS chance of success if I wait until January 2009 & write a letter to the White House suggesting the same thing? And how am I supposed to do either until I figure out what remedy I even want to push for?

The ordinary citizen's chance of changing national policy is so small that it is always possible to argue that it's futile and not worth trying.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:34 AM
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What about subversive propaganda? Pay to post Tom Toles or Ann Telnaes onto shopping carts in groceries that carry fresh vegetables in Republican districts. As outrageous as the claim is, it is still in the fine print. Actually, I don't know what could be said that would be more powerful than the Abu ghraib photos, and the net result of those was that the whistleblower is living in hiding, and that the Rumsfeld was fired grudgingly, with that only after the Democrats just barely took Congress.

Consciosness-raising is the proximal goal, and propaganda seems like the best way. This means that the scummy likes of Michael Moore are the best hope for improvement. Perhaps the next generation of Americans will be better.

China cares more about oil in Indonesia and Nigeria than in Iran; Brad Setser on Roubini's site is the go-to guy for me re: Chinese economy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:37 AM
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146- Long term interest rates down, so CDs and mortgage rates down. Also if the fed steps in they'd drop rates.
The market's been run up the last couple weeks (over 14k before today's downturn.) That was mostly on speculation of mergers, but now the mergers are going to hell because of all the bad bond investments out there. The market might decide to reverse the gains recently made. (I wouldn't guess a firm number, of course, but consider that the DJIA was at 12k in March.) I just shorted the Russel 2000.
Note: Do not rely on unfogged comments for investment advice.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:42 AM
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151: Exactly what sort of *other* advice is reliable?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:43 AM
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Katherine: The ordinary citizen's chance of changing national policy is so small that it is always possible to argue that it's futile and not worth trying. Right on. I was brought up in an old-school liberal tradition that included the idea of going ahead and doing good things you don't expect to work because they're right, because being a person who does the right thing does contribute to the overall shape of society, and because you don't know what else is going on to ever be quite that confident you've foreseen all outcomes.

(In the non-right-wing evangelical tradition, this last often comes with a reference to the experience of the prophet Elijah, on the run from hostile authorities and despairing of his people's fate, to whom God shows a vision of seven thousand still-faithful believers who will rally to his call and help begin the renewal of Irsael. I think of that sometimes when I read about how much the public is now seeing through press and pundit lies, distortions, and omissions.)

Some things are worth doing not because we're sure they'll work out well or even in the hope that they will, but because the alternative is intolerable.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:44 AM
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Just when you thought things were really getting bad, the bogus POTUS will undergo a colonoscopy today ... leaving Cheney in charge. Surely you unflappable Unfoggers can say a thing or two about this.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:45 AM
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154: I suspected Cheney's hand would eventually cause damage...


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:46 AM
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LW, if you look at the polls, you'll see that the public really doesn't need much consciousness raising. A super-majority wants the war and occupation to end, and admits they were wrong to start. A majority wants the VP gone, a plurality wants the president gone, and solid majorities know that both are doing awful jobs. What we need now is action to turn that widespread and growing understanding into political action.

The problem right now is not the public. The problem is in the halls of government and the boards of media corporations.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:47 AM
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154, meet 126.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:48 AM
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156: well that, and voter turn out.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:49 AM
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I've got to say that Cheney's having formal control of the Presidential powers doesn't really sound like much of a change.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:51 AM
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Contra 151, I'd expect mortgage rates to go up, as people stop being able to securitize $700,000 no-money-down liar loans. At least until the recession hits, which may well be in time for the 2008 elections.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:53 AM
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The other thing about impeachment etc. is that I think in order for symbolic politics to work to galvanize public opinion, you have to be doing everything you can. Your speeches about the evils of Alberto Gonzales' AG nomination, or Alito's nomination, or the MCA, lose their force if the press & public know you haven't seriously considered filibustering. Your speeches about the Bush administration's contempt for Congressional subpoenas lose force if you won't actually vote to hold them in Contempt of Congress. Your argument that the Bush administration has committed felonies, or your investigation into whether they have committed felonies, loses force if you fall all over yourself to reassure the press that impeachment is off the table. If the Democrats don't act like the situation is dire then why would the public?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:54 AM
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So, regardless of whether you take the Emersonian view or the Katherinian view of why the media sucks, everyone agrees that the media sucks, right? Is there anything Sally Average can do on that front? Would ten thousand letters to NBC corporate headquarters and the AP do a damn thing?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:55 AM
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160: At this point I'm sort of wondering if it will be in time for the 2008 and the 2012.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:55 AM
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162: If enough sally averages stop watching, that'd do something.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 11:56 AM
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152- Tarot cards?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:01 PM
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162: No, what would do a damn thing is to stop watching NBC, stop buying and relying on the mainstream papers, and start building a new press, and then having a civic tradition of holding it accountable.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:03 PM
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Or, uh, what soubz said.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:05 PM
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Some things are worth doing not because we're sure they'll work out well or even in the hope that they will, but because the alternative is intolerable.

I just wanted to see this in print again (and in italicized print)


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:10 PM
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I rather like this idea:

Defund the non-essential (and dangerous) parts of the Executive Office of the President: the press office, the political office, the White House Counsel's office. None of those has any Constitutional standing; they exist only insofar as Congress appropriates money for them.
Cut the immediate office of the Attorney General back to one secretary. Forbid details.
Clinton won his confrontation with Gingrich because Gingrich tried to shut down the government. Punishing and crippling Bush doesn't require shutting down any activity the public cares about.

Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:14 PM
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169 sounds like a horrible idea. I'd just like to make clear that I will be very, very upset if there is no presidential election in 2008.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:18 PM
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But wait -- there's more!

Member of the House committee on homeland security Peter DeFazio has been denied access to classified documents with no explanation from the administration, and even the American Enterprise Institute can't understand why.

Suck it, Congress!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:19 PM
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a horrible idea

You mean politically? Or practically?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:21 PM
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Is there a connection between the first and second sentences of 170? Defunding the Executive Office of the President doesn't mean cancelling an election.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:21 PM
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160- Stock prices and bond prices tend to move in opposite directions, which mean that stock prices and interest rates tend to move in the same direction (bond prices and yields are inversely related.) Today the stock market is down 112 and the 10 year T bill yield (used as the basis for a lot of ARMs) is down 0.08%.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:25 PM
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The connection was that sounds like the sort of thing that would make Bush & Co. angry enough to do something crazy. Like suspend elections. I'm not sure it's not going to be provocation begetting provocation with these guys. That's why I'm probably against any sort of aggressive confrontation; I fear it will escalate beyond what we're prepared to handle. I'd rather just let them serve out the next 18 months of deeply unpopular ineffectiveness and slither away quietly. Any sort of crisis only has the potential to empower them.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:28 PM
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That's why I'm probably against any sort of aggressive confrontation; I fear it will escalate beyond what we're prepared to handle.

Pussy.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:29 PM
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I'm prepared to handle pussy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:31 PM
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Stock prices and bond prices tend

Agreed, but surely not always. Isn't this most pronounced when the troubles are originating in the stock market (and bonds rise due to a flight to safety)? When the troubles are originating in the debt markets, and are serious enough to potentially impact earnings, it's not uncommon for them to move in tandem. Didn't happen today, but doesn't mean it couldn't in the near term. Not that I'm suggesting it will, neessarily.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:33 PM
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175: Peace in our time, Mr. Chamberlain?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:33 PM
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175: Like suspend elections.

If they do this, it is basically dead certain that they were (ahem) always already going to do this.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:34 PM
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I think our answer is to be founded in the latest Gil Thorp.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:35 PM
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founded s/b foundeded


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:36 PM
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I'm pretty sure suspending elections might cause even our tame press to sit up and take notice. Call my Pollyanna, but hey.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:37 PM
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176: The fifth and sixth sentences of 175 were more the point than the admittedly poorly-worded second clause of the fourth sentence, mrh. My "we" in the second clause was our society, our Congress, our institutions, our media. Not me personally.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:37 PM
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The suspending elections bit was (mostly) hyperbole. The point is that the president is effectively dead in the water. Confrontation might kill him, or it might jolt him back to life. Why run the risk?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:40 PM
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Imagine the commemorative plaque: "Upon this comic strip was founded a resurgence of democracy and constitutional governance."


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:40 PM
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Brock, I'm sorry I called you a pussy.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:43 PM
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183: Your pollyanna butt is hay. No take-backs!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:43 PM
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The point is that the president is effectively dead in the water.

Except that he isn't, as long as Congress keeps giving him money and allowing him to spend it however he sees fit, and accepting it every time he announces they aren't the boss of him. I have some concerns about defunding as a precedent, but I'm increasingly convinced we are in an emergency now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:44 PM
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Oy.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:44 PM
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Any sort of crisis only has the potential to empower them.

"Don't make eye contact, dear. Who knows what these animals are capable of."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:45 PM
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The point is that the president Congress is effectively dead in the water.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:47 PM
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obviously the thing to do is to dress as Gil Thorp, attend a bookstore at midnight, and tell each man woman and child that the republic has fallen.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:47 PM
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Let me put it this way: I think the chance that the administration will just roll over and accept defeat in any confrontation is down near zero. So we'd need to be prepared to finish what we started. Are we prepared to do that? I'm not convinced. And otherwise we might be a lot worse off. Again, this "we" is from 184.

I guess I'm just making the procedural case that's been made before. But honestly I think that's the right answer at this point, even if it comes across as cowardly. Alternatives just have too much downside risk.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:48 PM
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This is a good thing to do, but I'm not convinced that it's the best.

As opposed to what? Taking up arms and marching on the white house? The only thing we can do to get them out of office is pressure Congress to impeach, which might or might not work, but there you go.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:48 PM
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194 originally hinted at something that is illegal even to suggest, but I thought better of it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:49 PM
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The point is that the president is effectively dead in the water.

This is just insane. No, the president is effectively dragging out a disastrous war, with the very real possibility of starting another. Plus that whole precedent thing. Remember: what we need is negative precedent, overreaching smacked down. Think about what would have happened if Nixon had just been allowed to wallow along until the end of his term. Unless there is a very visible, very official repudiation of all of this, John Woo's theories will become objectively -more correct-; next time they're invoked, senators will actively defend them rather than merely whining.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:51 PM
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185: "Hymie, don't make trouble."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:51 PM
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It was pretty sweet how all those people in India got the British to leave by sending letters to parliament.

As opposed to some sort of act or demonstration, B. I think there's a tiny bit of space you're overlooking between making a call and taking arms.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:52 PM
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Unless there is a very visible, very official repudiation of all of this, John Woo's theories will become objectively -more correct-; next time they're invoked, senators will actively defend them rather than merely whining.

WYoo, but other than that I couldn't agree more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:52 PM
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194 originally hinted at something that is illegal even to suggest, which was named after an even weirder move...


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:53 PM
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Brock, are you trying to convince us all that McManus is right about procedural liberalism? Christ, I'm near convinced, and I'm supposed to be writing a dissertation on constitutionalism.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:54 PM
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I'm sympathetic, Brock, but I'm not sold. Bush has expanded executive power to a dangerous degree, and the lege has to quash that. A Democratic president isn't at all likely to give up emergency powers for the sake of checks and balances; Congress has to take the power back before it's a permanent part of the job description.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:54 PM
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What's the emergency, Apo? They're absuing the hell out of their powers? As long as congress is on the other end continually denying their right to do so, the right isn't clearly established. Force a confrontation and it might be. Again, Congress had better not stand up if it's going to let itself be slapped back down--that's the worst possible result. That's when we have an emergency. The president isn't going to accomplish anything, domestically or internationally, over the next 18 months. What is the emergency?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:54 PM
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200: Haha. Right. John Woo's theories were always correct.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:55 PM
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194 originally hinted at something that is illegal even to suggest

Are you talking about Bush's ass assignation on Saturday?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:56 PM
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201: awesome


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:56 PM
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197 to 204.
203 to 204.

What's the emergency, Apo? They're absuing the hell out of their powers? As long as congress is on the other end continually denying their right to do so, the right isn't clearly established. Force a confrontation and it might be.

What's the difference between "congress continually denying their right to do so" and "forcing a confrontation"? I assume we are in agreement that congress is not currently denying the administration's right to abuse their powers.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:56 PM
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There's no chance we're going to invade Iran.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:56 PM
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How about bombing Iran?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:57 PM
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Brock, what makes you think they won't do something unimaginably worse than they already have? What's stopping the President from doing something incredibly short-sighted and harmful? What makes you think he wouldn't pull some idiotic stunt to keep a hold on power? How many times over the past seven years have people confidently said that some boneheaded thing was too egregious for even these clowns to pull off?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 12:58 PM
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204: The president isn't going to accomplish anything, domestically or internationally, over the next 18 months.

Why do you say this?

I guess if you mean "accomplish" in the sense of "actually fulfill his goals as ludicrously stated", then no. But there's the "fuck up a whole bunch of shit in other countries" sense, as well.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:00 PM
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208: no, we are in disagreement there. Congress is forcibly denying and challenging the presidential overreaches. Just with their words. But their posture seems to be saying over and over again "no, Mr President, you don't have the right to do that. Don't force us to stand up and confront you about this." They let the President do whatever he wants, but not without making noises implying that he can't.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:00 PM
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Force a confrontation and it might be.

Seriously? The administration says, "Don't tread on me, or we will revoke the Constitution," and Congress should appease so long as they promise not to do anything too bad with unlimited power?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:00 PM
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Again, Congress had better not stand up if it's going to let itself be slapped back down--that's the worst possible result.

Actually, the worst possible result is Congress drifting into an increasingly powerless and ceremonial role because it's terrified of confrontation.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:00 PM
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There's no chance we're going to bomb Iran. Or at least no chance that Congress will authorize it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:01 PM
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213, I don't think "denying" should be preceded by "forcibly".

215 is a good point. Ahem, lessons from Rome anyone?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:02 PM
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216: Aha, so there is a chance that we bomb Iran without Congress authorizing it. I agree.

Now that I've done my part to degrade this serious discussion into pedantry, I'll move on.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:03 PM
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The president isn't going to accomplish anything, domestically or internationally, over the next 18 months.

Seriously? Seriously?!

He's not going to achieve anything for the good of humanity, sure. And he's not going to push through any huge fiscal reform or faith-based whatever, sure. But, again: war! Dead people! More war! More dead people!

And again: precedent! Constitution!

Having Congress pout helplessly does not count as "continually denying [Presidential] right to [ignore the law]." If you were a future president, leaning towards the Yoo-nitary Executive, would you be AT ALL dissuaded by the example this is setting? Heck no. You'd think (sorry), "bring it on!"


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:03 PM
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Unless we limit clip size to a maximum of 50 rounds and forbid crimefighters/assassins to carry more than four firearms at once, John Woo's theories will become objectively more correct.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:03 PM
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To be clear, if I had more faith in our Congress I would agree with you all. Chimpeach the Chimperor. But I think given Congress' current constitution, doing anything agressive would be a mistake.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:04 PM
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216: what makes you think Bush would treat your second point as a necessary precondition for the first?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:05 PM
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pwned, bah.

213, 216: They let the President do whatever he wants, but not without making noises implying that he can't.

Now that's checks and balances, right there.

I should stop reading this thread before I get frustrated.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:05 PM
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Brock, you are making a very strange argument here. Because Congress has been ineffective stopping Bush, we shouldn't want them to try to be more effective, because they might not be effective?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:06 PM
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Mark Kleiman's come up with a more radical proceduralist action: Congress should defund the White Houe's press office, political office, and White House Counsel's office. Whether or not they pursue arrests or impeachment or whatever else, they ought to go ahead and do this, because fuck the White House.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:06 PM
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222: I don't, and I didn't mean that. What I mean is that if Bush off and bombs Iran one night, there will be speeches in Congress the next day denying his right to do so.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:06 PM
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. Plus that whole precedent thing. Remember: what we need is negative precedent, overreaching smacked down. Think about what would have happened if Nixon had just been allowed to wallow along until the end of his term.

Yeah, thanks to the resignation, the Republicans had to wait six whole years till they Reagan was in office, and another five years to start up Iran-Contra. Woot.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:07 PM
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225: Actually, Kleiman was Rauchway-pwned.

Great minds think alike, I guess.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:08 PM
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But nobody reads Rauchway.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:09 PM
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227: I actually think that strengthens my claim. Iran-Contra was bad, but do you honestly think it wouldn't have been much worse if the Nixon precedent wasn't very much in all their minds?

(I'd add that the pathetic reaction to Iran-Contra is part of why we're in this mess now.)


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:10 PM
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229: Nobody who doesn't have a subscription, that is!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:10 PM
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Even in the massively influential (and liberal) New Republic?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:10 PM
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178- True, but I think that usually happens when you have inflationary problems.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:10 PM
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Brock, you are making a very strange argument here. Because Congress has been ineffective stopping Bush, we shouldn't want them to try to be more effective, because they might not be effective?

This is exactly right, when coupled with the fact that (a) he's out of office in 18 months, (b) he's very deeply unpopular at home and abroad, (c) Congress is against him. All the damage he can do is likley already done. 219 is baffling. We're tied down beyond our capabilities already -- who else do you think we're going to fight? (And where are we going to get the troops to do so? A draft?? Our current forces??? I think you'd sooner see a coup.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:14 PM
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the Nixon precedent wasn't very much in all their minds?

You mean recollections of the Nixon tape fiasco reminded Hall to shred docs? Maybe. Beyond that, who knows? At most, the public sort of cared about Iran-Contra, so GHWB had no problem getting the '88 election.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:17 PM
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There's no chance we're going to bomb Iran. Or at least no chance that Congress will authorize it.

That's a mainstream opinion, Brock, in the sense of "appallingly stupid and impossible, like many things that sensible people think".

Bush doesn't believe he needs any authorization. He may be right -- he can always claim that Iran attacked us first. Anyway, Congress recently voted 97-0 for a belligerent statement though meaningless against Iran. A small step. They may well authorize bombing Iran.

The "don't do anything to make him mad" argument is a loser. He'll play chicken until he loses.

I'm pessimistic about the Democrats having the guts to do anything. I'm even more pessimistic about the media. and compeltely pessimistic about the so-called "rational conservatives". Whenever a rational conservative jumps off the bandwagon, he becomes an unperson for conservatives. They called Bill Buckley a coward on his own cruise ship. Movement Republicans are zombies, and most Republicans are movement Republicans.

So I'm pessimistic. But the wait-eighteen-months strategy seems like the worst of all the bad choices.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:17 PM
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234: see, I think you're falling into the trap of believing that bush won't do something simply because it doesn't make any sense.

Does he care about torpedoing his own party? Does he care that he's unpopular? Does he care about getting Congressional authorization for anything he does? Does he have any understanding of what he's doing to the military?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:17 PM
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When I try to imagine the end of this administration, I think less about the Nixon resignation and more about the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:18 PM
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234: There are lots of bad things he could do that don't require much in the way of infrastructure/manpower. We could very, very easily bomb the heck out of Iran. Sure, it would be stupid. As others have pointed out, this doesn't make it materially less likely.

Okay, I'll stop going back and forth on this; if you honestly don't think Bush can do huge damage to either the constitution or to actual living people in the next 18 months, we just share very different premises.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:21 PM
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Err, 'share' s/b 'are working from'. Curse you, Bush, driving me to typos!


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:23 PM
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We're tied down beyond our capabilities already -- who else do you think we're going to fight?

We don't need many troops. The grateful Iranians will greet us with flowers and candy.

Besides which, you don't start with troops. You start with bombs.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:32 PM
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It's a shame the bombs won't appreciate it when they are greeted with flowers and candy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:35 PM
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Do you people honestly expect war with Iran? No offense, but that's asolutely fucking insane.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:35 PM
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Do you people honestly expect war with Iran? No offense, but that's asolutely fucking insane.

So was war with Iraq, remember?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:36 PM
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243: You seem to think sentence 2 contradicts sentence 1.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:37 PM
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You know something that bothers me about all of this? The dems are being so bush-league it can almost, almost [1], imagine someone coming out of the republican wings, repudiating aspectis of the current admin to pull the old school R's in, while still getting a big chunk of the nutbars on a better-me-than-them and actually winning the damn thing by just sliding by due to disorganized dems and voter apathy (since so many seem behave like it's `in the bag').

[1] I wouldn't even be able to imagine this, but you know, 2004


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:38 PM
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Maybe this explains it:
http://news.aol.com/story/_a/man-lived-normal-life-despite-tiny-brain/20070720152509990002?ecid=RSS0001


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:40 PM
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Brock, I think those of us who fear war with Iran base our fear on two premises:

1. Bush wants war with Iran.
2. Bush does not acknowledge constitutional constraints on his ability to unilaterally make war with Iran.

Do you disagree with either of those statements?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:40 PM
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248: I don't disagree with either of those statements, and if we'd blazed effortlessly through Iraq like some Rumsfeldian fantasy, I've no doubt we'd probably be fighting with Iran today. But we're totally tied down in Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan); it doesn't matter what Bush wants to do, we don't have the military capacity to do it. He has to realize this. You can't just drop some bombs on a country and expect that to be the end of it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:46 PM
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Brock, Bush is an adventurist who believes that God has given him a personal mission. His back is to the wall, he makes a fetish of bold action, he prefers military responses to any other, and he believes that he's bound by no law.

There's ample documentation for all of those points. No hyperbole. Those are truisms.

At times I hope that the military itself will nullify Bush's next adventure. I have no hope that the Republicans or the media will be a force for restraint, and have no confidence that the Democrats will be effective.

My populism has taken enormous hits during the last few decades, but in the present case, the average American is ahead of the political and media elites. Support for impeachment is the plurality.

In short, I don't think that you are in the real world. War in Iran might be insane, but fearing war in Iran is reasonable.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:47 PM
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Brock, you're fucking nuts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:48 PM
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He has to realize this. You can't just drop some bombs on a country and expect that to be the end of it.

Again, this is the flaw in applying rational actor theory to this administration. You know this, because you are neither stupid nor insane. Our President is plausibly both of those things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:48 PM
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John you're posting the summary after the comment, now?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:49 PM
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249:

...it doesn't matter what Bush wants to do, we don't have the military capacity to do it. He has to realize this.

Oh, brother.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:49 PM
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what does this meltdown of the bond market mean ?
It will likely become harder to qualify for credit, both for individuals and for companies. What will likely happen to rates if you do qualify is IMO unpredictable now ( it depends on actions taken by foreign central banks)-- distrust anyone who makes a simple unqualified prediction. Unless you'll be applying for a mortgage, continue ignoring the spastic markets.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:49 PM
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243:I consider Bush so absolutely fuckin insane that I think he would nuke Iran, with many rationalizations from Cheney, but primarily because Bush would be the second, and only one of two, to use nuclear weapons.

Kill millions and become a horror of history out of nothing but ego.

I also think the possibility was predictable in 2000, and Republicans took a chance on a holocaust for fucking tax cuts, 500 to 1000 dollars. I loathe every one of them.

Incidentally, keeping all of Bush's options in mind, how far do we want to push him? He is not near the moral league of Nixon.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:50 PM
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Brock, of course it's insane. But have you been reading the news recently? The Senate just passed a bill 97-0 stating that Iran is engaging in acts of war with the United States.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:50 PM
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He has to realize this.

I can't count the number of people who said "he has to realize you can't invade a country without a plan" before Iraq.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:51 PM
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I can't count the number of people who said "he has to realize you can't invade a country without a plan" before Iraq.

But now...he has to at least remember that he can't invade a country without a plan, right? Right??


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:53 PM
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258: DS, I was one of those people. You don't think any lessons have been learned from that mistake?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:54 PM
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You know the difference between Reagan and the Shrub? Reagan showed up to work as an actor in mediocre movies, hit his marks and took direction.
Respected authority and structure.

From even before his National Guard days, it was obvious that Bush accepted, even defied any authority and structure. If you want to know where the "Unitary Executive" comes from.

Cheney is just a flunky and gofer. Nothing else survives around Bush.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:54 PM
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Also, for the love of christ, I'd like to get back to the point in this country where I don't find myself saying "say, that cranky revolutionary marxist is making sense!" so damn often.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:54 PM
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260 meant lessons learned by the administration.

They can't all be literally crazy.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:55 PM
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261: ahh, "accepted" sb "didn't accept"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:56 PM
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260: apparently not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:56 PM
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260:

DS, I was one of those people. You don't think any lessons have been learned from that mistake?

Not to be too harsh or to pile on too severely, but you appear not to have learned any lessons from that mistake. Do you really believe that this President has?


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 1:56 PM
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260: I don't see any reason to think so, no.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:00 PM
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266 seconded.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:02 PM
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I can only reiterate 234. I really think you'd see military leaders sitting down with Congress saying "do something about this!" (or worse) if Bush attempted large-scale military action against Iran. The only option that would make any practical sense would be using nuclear weapons, and unlike mcmanus I can't see even Bush going that far.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:08 PM
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260: Not by you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:09 PM
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269: depends what military leaders. I suspect the Air Force would be all for it, and the Army leadership is pretty well cowed at this point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:10 PM
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Thank you, everyone, for jumping all over an ambiguity in my comment that I corrected before any of you jumped on it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:11 PM
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269: Yes, that really worked when military leaders were against The Surge, didn't it?

There will always be military brass willing to sign onto any military adventure this President can dream up, because every military leader who has stood up and said "NO" has been run out of the military.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:12 PM
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Brock, that's my last ditch hope, but I recognize that it's grasping at straws. You seem to have confidence that that's what will happen.

What's your anti-depressant, anyway?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:12 PM
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The only option that would make any practical sense would be using nuclear weapons, and unlike mcmanus I can't see even Bush going that far.

The guy pushed for development of bunker-buster nukes. I think it's entirely plausible he'd use them.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:12 PM
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272: I can see why you wanted to clear up the ambiguity, but it doesn't make my 260 any less valid.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:13 PM
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Brock, my understanding is that the administration consists of Bush, Cheney, and Rove. Rumsfeld is gone, and he was crazy too. Rice can't stand up to any of the three. Powell is gone. Even Ashcroft was too sane to stay. God knows how many top military men are gone. Everyone else is a flunky. Who are the people who will resist Bush?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:15 PM
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In 2003 they thought they would smash the Iraqi army and exit within three months.

Today, indications are that they think they can do a "targeted" bombing of suspected Iranian nuclear facilities, possibly including some nukes, and Iran will let it slide because that's all they're after. Or maybe the Iranians will rise up and replace their government with a pro-Western one the minute the first orphanage blows up.

It might be inconceivably impractical to win a war against Iran in our current state, but it's all to easy to start one.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:17 PM
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to s/b too


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:18 PM
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And I hate joining in the pile-on, but when has "They couldn't do that, it would be insane" been a valid way of predicting anything about the Bush administration?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:22 PM
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If everyone here honestly believes that the entire executive administration has literally lost touch with reality, then I think we truly are at an impasse. That's a funny caricature; believing it's really true is delusional.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:29 PM
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That presupposes they ever had touch with reality.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:31 PM
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I don't think they've lost touch with reality, but I don't think they give a fuck about how things turn out for anyone but themselves and their friends. Bombing Iran would be an insane thing for the US to do, but that doesn't mean that it would have any negative consequences for anyone Bush or Cheney gives a damn about. I'm not sure why they would do it, but their personal motives are opaque to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:32 PM
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In 175 you were talking about suspending elections. I realize you backed away from that, but surely that's less likely than bombing Iran?

Not that he needs to bomb Iran--which I think is a real possibility but less likely than not--to harm a lot of people.

In general your reasons for why a confrontation aren't necessary directly contradict your reasons for why a confrontation is inevitably going to fail. Either public opinion & Congress are effective constraints, or they aren't.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:34 PM
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They haven't lost touch with anything. You misunderstand their goals.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:34 PM
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Boy, are we! Delusional is the word I would use.

Which individual would be willing and able to stand up to Bush? Rice is the first one people will name, and she's terribly weak and probably wouldn't stand up anyway. She may not even disagree at all. (Gates? A lightweight, easily fired). Bush has surrounded himself with flunkies. A lot of people have left. Even people like Negroponte look good compared to Bush's main staff people.

What is the source of your confidence?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:35 PM
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285 to Brock


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:35 PM
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I'm not sure why they would do it, but their personal motives are opaque to me.

There's something to be said for a decades-long clash of civilizations, at least so long as you make weapons or other military materiel or are good at engaging in demagoguery.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:36 PM
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LB, that's reasonable I suppose, but I guess I just can't believe that the people in the white house actually have such twisted motives. I think they're interested in doing what they think is best for the country, however misguided their judgment might be. I really don't understand what else you think they could be contemplating -- what their "personal motives" might be.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:40 PM
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281: If everyone here honestly believes that the entire executive administration has literally lost touch with reality

Yes, why would anyone think this about an administration that coined the use of "reality-based" as an insult, waged a failed war of aggression in Iraq and thought photo-ops were an appropriate response to Hurrican Katrina? There's a certain point where trying to be "fair" just makes you pollyannish, dude.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:43 PM
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I think they're interested in doing what they think is best for the country

This is where you're running aground, Brock. They don't give a shit about the country. They are interested in doing what is best for a certain class of investor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:44 PM
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289: It is comforting in an odd way to believe that they genuinely have the countrys best interests at heart but are just incompetent. The alternative hypothesis that they have the best interests of a rather more narrow demographic at heart, combined with some strongly held but fairly irrational (or at least internally inconsistent) idealism, gets more plausible with time.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:45 PM
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For one, I think a primary, conscious, intentional goal for starting the Iraq war was domestic political advantage -- that having an ongoing war would make it impossible to politically challenge Bush in the 2004 elections. The administration obviously couldn't have believed in the WMD crap, and the 'let's reshape the Middle East' nonsense might have been sincere, but I don't think it was enough to explain the fraudulence with which the war was sold.

I'm not sure what they think they'd get out of leveling Tehran, but if there's some advantage to be had, I'm sure they'd do it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:45 PM
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I really don't understand what else you think they could be contemplating -- what their "personal motives" might be.

In Bush's case, probably Armageddon. Cheney probably leans toward the state of exception, the unitary presidency, and an American empire. Not contradictory goals, of course.

Both have been using Sharon's "facts on the ground" strategy all along: even if you make it worse, change the situation so much that all of your opponets' proposals become moot. That's the whole thing with "We make reality". Democrats respond the each event after it happens, but never anticipate anything. Bush has the power to make things happen (which the Democrats don't) and uses this power to keep them always off balance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:46 PM
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281: Well, in one sense, sure, they haven't, because they already haven't already done anything to Iran. Things could indeed be worse. Why they aren't depends greatly -- maybe they're dumb but not that dumb, maybe the sane people near/at the top have been blocking them, maybe they will decide to but haven't yet.

I think the biggest thing people differ with you about is 204's "As long as congress is on the other end continually denying [ed: "continually denying" s/b "saying they deny, but not actually doing a thing about it"] their right to do so, the right isn't clearly established. Force a confrontation and it might be. Force a confrontation and it might be."

More simply put, I disagree with the idea that the status quo is better than the likely alternative, as you seem to think, and/or that any confrontational actions would make things worse. If Bush is a crazy fucker who would use "targeted bombing" on Iran or send Pelosi to Gitmo or something rather than see an impeachment vote go forward, as you seem to be granting, then (a) he's probably also crazy enough to do it when Barney dies or a hurricane hits Houston or something, and (b) the ephemeral sane people close to him are more, not less, likely to try to stop him if the law and Congress are on their side.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:47 PM
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289: I guess I just can't believe that the people in the white house actually have such twisted motives.

It's not unreasonable to think that the things they have actually been effective at -- facilitating disaster capitalism, providing opportunities for war profiteering to their inner circle, and disfiguring the domestic political system to their advantage -- are what they actually wanted to accomplish.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:49 PM
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263: They can't all be literally crazy.

Ah, but it takes only one. That's the beauty of the Yoo-nitary Executive!

More seriously:

Look, Brock, if you're going to go all rational-choice, you have to be honest about the incentives and preferences of the particular actors in question. Think about what someone noted about Libby--was this Burke's shame piece?--he'll never come in contact with anyone outside the die-hard 20% wingnutosphere ever again in his life. Bush will always be an ex-president, always richer than he could ever know what to do with. He doesn't have to worry about re-election, Congress has given no indication of doing anything but wetting itself at the thought of impeachment, and he apparently believes sincerely in his having a personal mission from God. Plus, he's an alcoholic who may well have started drinking again. He personally will never bear any negative consequences for bombing Iran, *unless* he gets impeached, and he has every reason to think they wouldn't dare; if he's allowed to just slink away, he'll spend the rest of his life on NRO cruises and in country clubs surrounded by people who think he was the best president ever and we'd have totally won the war if not for the defeat-o-crats. And these folks will praise him all the more for Standing Up To The Persians.

Where's the incentive for restraint? No, Brock: based on what we know of his preferences, beliefs, and opportunities, only a very credible threat of impeachment and removal, with supplementary criminal convictions sprinkled among those loyal to him, would make it irrational for him to bomb Iran. And the only way to make that credible is to start *actually standing up to him* right now.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:51 PM
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293: I completely agree about that, as long as you say "a" primary goal. (And you couple this with a natural belief on their part that their maintaining power is better for the country than turning it over to the Democrats.) I don't see the advantage to leveling Tehran.

Apo: do you think Bush's entire term in Texas was also all about helping a certain investor class? (How?) Or was that all nothing but a wind-up for the presidency? This is by all accounts a man who doesn't really like to work hard, and who already had plenty of money. Why put himself through all this, if he doesn't at least himself believe he's doing the right thing? That to me is just implausible.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:52 PM
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Pwned by LB and Text, of course. And basically everyone else too. But I got to work in "Yoo-nitary" and "defeat-o-crats"!


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:54 PM
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if he doesn't at least himself believe he's doing the right thing?

Look, who the fuck gives a shit whether a sociopath "believes" he's "doing the right thing" (however defined)? Bin Laden "believes" he's "doing the right thing," for crying out loud. So what?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:57 PM
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300: yes, and there seemed to be quite a bit of disagreement about whether our administration was as rational as bin Laden.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:59 PM
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Brock, he has insane religious reasons for thinking he's doing the right thing. He just completely disagrees with everyone here, or almost, about what the right thing is.

I've been arguing against your kind of unperturbed, centrist, incrementalist caution nonstop since about 2002, and I'm amazed to see that it still survives anywhere. I thought that that battle had been won.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 2:59 PM
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(The point, more temperately, being that definitions of "doing the right thing" can vary awfully widely. Someone who looks down on people "swilling white wine in Martha's Vineyard" as the hoi polloi might not include your welfare in their definition of "doing the right thing." In fact all evidence indicates they don't.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:00 PM
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I'm not saying Bush is doing the right thing. I'm saying he thinks he is. Which was being denied.

He's unquestionably been doing almost nothing but the wrong thing, over and over and over again since the day he was elected to office. (Earlier, surely, but I wasn't paying attention to him back then.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:02 PM
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304: right. Sure. Let's allow that he thinks he's done the right thing all the way along. Given that everything he's done has been short-sighted, appalling, and by all appearances insane, why on earth should we imagine he will now suddenly start understanding these things the same way we do?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:05 PM
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AFAICS it was being said that his definition of "doing the right thing" is warped and destructive and applies mostly to him and his sort of people. Which AFAICT is true enough. (Not that I'm convinced it's his motives that matter all that much, in the end. The common bitter joke about its being the "Cheney Administration" has a ring of truth, to me.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:06 PM
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304: I understand your assertion, but I'm not at all convinced he's ever had the best interests of a lot of people in mind. A lot of what has actually happened is much more tribal --- good for `my people' sorts of things. Maybe he's just incredibly ignorant of the actual effect of what goes on in his administration, but find that a bit of a stretch. If it's the case that he actually believes it's `the right thing to do', that's fine, but it's also in direct conflict with his oath of office.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:08 PM
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Wow, heated commentary. Slothful fratboy indifferent to the lives of others seems hard to distinguish from the more ambitious person who may wish to attack Iran, given that both as reactionaries. As LB points out, invading Iraq brought short-term selfish benefit, and was worth getting of the couch for.

both the carriers on station are due to return to base; and only one is going out to replace them.

(link?) is heartening.

Also, the WaPo Cheney news piece indicates that at least some people in the administration have lost their fear of Cheney's ability to retaliate.

Seriously, speculating in detail about the motives of others, it's appealing, but how much is there to argue?
And speculating about the motives of the people one is talking with-- well, maybe some of you all have known each other for long enough to do that.

your kind Is pretty pointless to write.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:23 PM
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I can't believe that I'm still hearing that shit. It's like five years of history (the most recent five) hadn't happened.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:43 PM
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do you think Bush's entire term in Texas was also all about helping a certain investor class?

YES.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 3:49 PM
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My partner says I am addicted to worry. And I should link, I suppose. Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis has archives worth visiting.

1) PL very pointedly, but somewhat cryptically, told his commenters that any idea of a military coup or rebellion is way out of line. 1a) Military culture creates people as weapons. It is critical to the culture, honor, duty that soldiers don't get to choose when and where they is pointed 1b) There are always ambitious and soldiers. A general whose job is to oder the death of his own and others is a special kind of person. 1c) In particular, although the army and marines are stretched very thin and their leadership will resist an attack on Iran for reasons really involving America's security needs, the Air Force has been training a special type at Colorado Springs, and have been "different" since their job became nuclear. You have watched too many movies if you don't think Bush can nuke Montreal if he wants to. It is a necessary premise of the "weapons" that they don't have free will.

2) Pat Lang tells us that Hezbollah in Lebanon are on a frantic rebuilding program, assisted by Iran & Syria, including new anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, and more powerful long-range missles. These are defensive moves.

3) It is not all about Bush or all about Israel. The most powerful country in the world, the one that can hire armies like they hire street cleaners, is running out of oil. The minute Saudi Arabia even admits the production is in permanent decline hyenas internal and external will start giggling.

4) Yet it may remain relatively peaceful. But always on the edge. "Berlin Airlift" "Cuban Missile Crisis" Vietnam, Iraq is how the Great Games are played. Would that domestic politics were played the same way. Hell, maybe they are. I am just outside watching.

5) Russia is rebuilding the missile defense systems around Moscow.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 4:52 PM
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Sorry I don't have time to read the whole thread, and am just asking for pwnership.

That said, it seems to me that the president is asking begging for retaliation through the appropriations process. The White House counsel's office won't respond to questions? Don't fund it. Etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 4:53 PM
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They won't be canceling any elections, that is far to obvious and far too contradictory to how the system operates for them to get away with (see, e.g., their acknowledgement that Congress can defund the war, acquiescence and avoidance of SCOTUS rulings, etc.). Better for them to purge the voter rolls and wave scary terrorists in front of everyone's face to get Fred Thompson in the White House (he beats Hillary easily, magic 8 ball sez, but would have more trouble with Obama but wins on due to the vapors Obama induces).

You watch, late next summer, warning after warning with plot after plot uncovered in the U.S., complete with the Polish army uniforms.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 5:04 PM
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I think two things argue against the U.S. bombing Iran:

1) It puts the administration on a road with bad end for them. Impeachment, war crimes trials, the destruction of the Republican party. It would be an event that would push this country further left than anything since the 30s. Maybe they are so incompetent that they can't see that, but it would show no comprehension of their own self-interest or class-interest. This sits awkwardly with some plausible explanations of administration behavior.

2) Why haven't they done it already? It would have been much easier for them to do it before the 2006 midterms, and of more immediate short-term political benefit.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 7:27 PM
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all this talk about 'defunding: whats to stop them from just diverting funds from somewhere else?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-20-07 7:51 PM
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