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Bloggingheads
02-08-2008, 04:26 AM
You'll notice this diavlog has been balkanized (in the sense of being broken into parts). Specifically, the tail end had to be snipped for technical reasons. The good news: the first 47 minutes are fully intact.

--Bloggingheads staff

Wonderment
02-08-2008, 07:01 AM
An interesting discussion of just how much hypertrophy and abuse of executive power the system can withstand, and just how disastrous the Bush-Cheney administration has been for the future of US democracy.

Both these scholars seem convinced (for very different reasons) that Bush's legacy is not as constitutionally catastrophic as it appears at first blush.

Pardon my skepticism, but unless the Republicans are defeated soundly this November, the culture of signing statements, perpetual war, Guantánamo, and I'm-the-Decider-so-fuck-you is not withering away any time soon.

A big part of the legacy is currently seated on the US Supreme Court.

Eastwest
02-08-2008, 07:23 AM
Fine and educational discussion.

Seems like a bit of "ivory-tower" denial going on here, though:

Professor Posner: Claims to see no evidence of deliberate manipulation of both Congress and the people on the part of the President and Vice President, this even in spite of the wealth of now-available information which, frankly, makes such denial fall outside of the realm of credibility. For examples, see this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8533?in=00:42:28&out=00:42:49) and this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8533?in=00:39:52&out=00:40:38").

Professor Balkin: Hard to deny he really nailed George Bush, for which see this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8533?in=00:41:13&out=00:42:29).

The idea of "liberty-preserving system design (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8533?in=00:40:49&out=00:41:10)" sounds ideal. Problem is, we're dealing with "real." Not much in the way of concrete suggestions on how this design-failure problem might be repaired by a "bought-and-paid-for" congress so sensitive to doing anything brave that might jeopardize re-electability by a deeply-polarized electorate. (And let us not even dream of looking to the Supreme Court for approval were Congress to enact such protections in any case.) But, in fairness, in a mere 47 minutes covering a lot of terrain, perhaps it's hard to get into specifics.

So, yes, fine discussion, but it's no cause for hopefulness about the future in the hands of Ceasarist intellectual-dwarf power-mongers like Bush and Cheney.

EW

PS: Great choice of BHTV guests. So nice to move outside of horse-race politics to genuinely momentous matters.

bjkeefe
02-08-2008, 07:53 AM
Good points by Wonderment and Eastwest. I, too, find these discussions interesting, if sometimes drifting into the abstract to the point that realities are ignored. EW's point about how people get into Congress and what they do to stay there is a good example of something that's not addressed by discussing Con Law.

I do sometimes get a chill listening to Eric. He can sound like a real apologist for the Bush Administration -- not policy, but their machinations. His argument about something extralegal being okay because "Congress would have approved it anyway" is really scary. So is his overall attitude that more power should be given to the executive branch.

As I've said many times in the past, it'll be interesting to hear what all these pro-unitary executives have to say if Hillary Clinton becomes president. Suppose she sets up a commission to investigate all of the doings of the previous administration, and wherever Bush had issued an executive to, say, keep all of his papers confidential, she issues another one countermanding it. Suppose every Bush Administration official is subpoenaed by this Commission, and thrown in jail for contempt if they don't answer questions. Suppose she directs the NSA to start eavesdropping on oil companies and banks when they're dealing with people in Arab countries. Granted, this is more a fantasy of mine than anything I expect to happen -- I'm using hyperbole to make a point. But I do wonder how happy the other side will be when a Democratic president starts issuing signing statements and forming independent intelligence groups.

Note to Jack: In the past, I've complained about your interrupting and long-windedness. I don't know if my words reached you, but in any case, I thought your sharing of the microphone was much improved in this diavlog. Thank you for that.

ohcomeon
02-08-2008, 10:24 AM
Exactly Wonderment. We shouldn't talk about the Bush Administration as if this is all in the past. Every day Congress is debating and conceding more power to the executive. It is an open question as to what the election will bring but there are no guarantees.

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-08-2008, 11:04 AM
Pardon my skepticism, but unless the Republicans are defeated soundly this November, the culture of signing statements, perpetual war, Guantánamo, and I'm-the-Decider-so-fuck-you is not withering away any time soon.


I find that doubtful. Hillary certainly isn't going to want to relinquish any executive power gained via the actions of the Bush administration. While Obama would at least temporarily, he'd probably be the exception to the rule.

The fact is, the issue of executive power is less of a political issue than an institutional one. Presidents generally favor a monarchial view of executive power, especially in matters concerning war and foreign policy, while Congress often seems to think the President's power is solely to carry out the laws that Congress passes.

The Bush Administration certainly has taken a strident view of executive power, but it's hardly unprecedented among Presidents of either party. In terms of Commander-In-Chief power, Harry Truman didn't even ask for congressional authorization before getting the U.S. involved in the Korean War, a conflict that resulted in over 36,000 American casualties. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton ordered significant military operations without congressional authorization to use force, most notably with respect to Panama and Kosovo. The rendition program started in the Clinton years, and the Army and intelligence agencies engaged in plenty of harsh interrogation techniques (including waterboarding) long before Dubya came to power. And that's just in the post-WWII era.

As for your point about the "culture of signing statements," such statements have been a long-standing practice going back to the early days of the Republic (though admittedly they became much more prevalent following the Reagan years), and Bush has actually issued fewer such statements than Clinton.

Different eras have had different attitudes regarding the proper role of the Executive. Especially in the WWII era and beyond, the practice has been one that's highly deferential to executive decisions in matters of war and foreign policy. Following Vietnam and the resignation of Nixon, that attitude slightly diminished. The Bush Administration, rightly or wrongly, wants to return us to that previous system. While you may disagree with their goals, their attitude is hardly unprecedented.

ogieogie
02-08-2008, 12:16 PM
How about separating the Justice Dept. from the executive branch, thereby creating a fourth law-enforcement branch of govt. empowered to investigate and prosecute the other three (as well as enforcing ordinary law)? With a separately elected attorney general (or one perhaps appointed by the Supremes with advice & consent of congress?) (Would that be weird er what.) Would that give us a permanent Special Prosecuter?

Bloggin' Noggin
02-08-2008, 02:12 PM
A really great discussion. Kudos to Jack for reining himself in a bit this time and making the exchange more even than he sometimes has in the past. He shouldn't be afraid to do that, because it seemed to me that he won the argument -- far more convincingly than if he hadn't let Eric speak.

Here's what I take away as a very boiled-down version of the exchange:

Round I
Eric: What's your constitutional problem with the Bush presidency? Is it that they have directly violated the Constitution? Or is it just the procedural point that they have acted unilaterally, without consulting Congress?
Jack: Primarily the latter.
Eric: But if it is primarily this kind of procedural matter, why do you and your co-bloggers get so worked up about it? If the President could have done this anyway if only he had consulted Congress, who really cares -- it's just procedural.
Jack: Well, if you don't think procedure matters, then the mere fact that Congress MIGHT have passed a law that would put you (Eric) behind bars would allow the President to put you behind bars directly.
[This exchange clearly goes to Jack. A fairly obvious point, but that just shows how obtuse the conservative side has decided it has to be to defend the Cheney side of the argument.]

Round II
Eric: But sometimes the executive is right and the Congress is wrong, and the executive uses rotten legal reasoning backed up with a threat of an Article II argument behind that.
[Implied objection]: But Democracy is not guaranteed to make the optimal choice in every case -- it's often possible to imagine a brilliant and unselfish dictator making a better choice in any individual case than the democracy actually makes (certainly more efficiently). That's just the price of democracy. (Implied by Jack's emphasis on "CRUCIAL".)
Eric: Sure, but sometimes the executive sees that it is CRUCIAL that something be done that the Congress (for short-sighted reasons of its own) refuses to do. E.g., Roosevelt sending ships to Britain on his executive authority. Surely you wouldn't condemn FDR for sending ships to Britain, no matter how twisted his reasoning had to be! Sometimes something is morally and politically correct (and not just correct but "crucial") and the executive has to produce legal nonsense to defend it.
Jack (joined by Eric himself on some points):But torture wasn't "morally and politically correct. Torture was surely also not crucial in this way (certainly not continuing on with an underground policy after the initial emergency). Both torture and surveillance were undertaken in secret. AND (unstated here, but relevant later) they both involve changing our institutions in a more or less permanent way -- it's not like sending ships to a friendly power during its time of need.
[Here I would also add on my own that there is an important difference between an administration that finds it needs to bend the law in order to do something vitally important to the country, and an administration that SETS OUT down the line to assert these powers ACROSS THE BOARD. It's one thing if someone with great respect for the law or for his promises occasionally feels that on one or two occasions something other than law or past promises is most important. It's quite another when someone rejects the rule of law or a commitment to past promises pretty generally on the grounds that it's too rigid always to bring you optimal outcomes.]

Eric: But by making the (phony) legal and (more genuine) moral and political argument, the executive IS doing as much as it needs to do to respect the law. If Congress acquiesces in the president's interpretation or not, that's up to Congress.
[Jack's response is that the secrecy under which most of these actions are conducted makes it hard for Congress to acquiesce. He adds another problem, but he's a bit vague here. I guess he's saying that the Bush Administration can't BOTH argue that it's all just a big negotiation between the branches AND hold onto (and repeatedly insist upon) a very absolutist view of what powers the president inherently (and inalienably) has. [Bush's signing statements might be a kind of case in point -- especially in those cases where the president signs the bill because he would have been overridden.]
(As spelled out, advantage Jack, though his win would have been more decisive if he's been clearer at this point.)

Round III
Eric: But isn't Bush just part of a general evolution [reminiscent of that from the Roman Republic to the Augustan Age] from small responsibilities to much larger responsibilities, to which legislatures are ill-adapted. We can either move forward along this line, accepting whatever our latter-day Augusti (presidents) do in terms of working around our outmoded Republican institutions while still leaving the appearance of them intact, or we can try to move backward to a simpler time when we didn't need the national gov't to do very much, and the latter attempt is quixotic at best, so we really just have the option of putting up or shutting up.

Jack: Surely that's a false dilemma. Another option is for Congress and the President to work together to design institutions which will check the president and the bureaucracy in their relentless pursuit of their own ends, while still permitting them to do the necessary things that the government of 1801 couldn't do.
These systems should first of all be DELIBERATELY DESIGNED --not just slapped together by an executive trying to do what it needs to do behind the old Republican facades. And they need to be designed DELIBERATIVELY -- with input and negotiation between Congress and the president to insure that a balance of interests is achieved (e.g., liberty and security). This is precisely what the Bush Administration's insistent invocation of Article II prevents.
[Again advantage Jack.]

bjkeefe
02-08-2008, 02:56 PM
BN:

Nice summary. Probably you should put

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

across the top, though. ;^)

bjkeefe
02-08-2008, 02:58 PM
Yes, but my minor (and easy to implement) request hasn't been fulfilled yet. To wit, make the "post a comment" link on the video page create the new post as a reply to the opening message in the forum, not as appended to the most recent post. (Screws up the threads.)

uncle ebeneezer
02-08-2008, 03:17 PM
Bloggin', thanks for the recap. I wish I had you around when I was in college so I could have skipped the tedious lectures and read(copied) your notes afterwards. You could give Cliff's and Monarch Notes a run for their money.

Wonderment
02-08-2008, 04:22 PM
I, too, find these discussions interesting, if sometimes drifting into the abstract to the point that realities are ignored. EW's point about how people get into Congress and what they do to stay there is a good example of something that's not addressed by discussing Con Law.

Yes, sometimes it's good to keep things (sort of) simple.

It's fortunate that the country has thousands of constitutional law experts ready to argue any obscure point into oblivion, as good adversaries do, but at the end of the day we have to assess the president on his honesty, sanity and ability to govern well.

Bush fails miserably on all counts.

HONESTY:He and his posse lied us into a horrific war; they violated international human rights law with impunity, cynicism and contempt. They operated in several ways as a rogue executive, completely outside the system -- especially in regard to surveillance, rendition, black sites, ghost prisoners and torture.

SANITY: Extreme secrecy breeds paranoia and delusions of grandeur, and Cheney-Bush ramped up the secrecy bigtime. This is not the first administration to see an Evil Enemy everywhere and drag the nation into a stupid and evil war, but there's "Bring-it-on" sociopathic tinge to Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bolton that made them especially creepy, dangerous and irrational. You could see the sociopath in Bush back when he was Executioner-in-Chief in Texas, but I guess it wasn't clear to most voters till he went on a torture, murder and mayhem rampage in the Middle East.

ABILITY TO GOVERN: The history of Bush's administration is a succession of failures. He failed the economy by squandering trillions on his nutty war. He failed the international community by turinng the US into a pariah state. He failed the planet by ignoring global warming. He failed the justice system not only by undermining the rule of law but also by appointing extremist judges all over the federal bench, including two to the SC. And, he failed the executive branch by creating a culture of contempt for the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Wonderment
02-08-2008, 04:23 PM
Are we in Greenwich? A nice global touch, but confusing.

Wonderment
02-08-2008, 04:25 PM
As for your point about the "culture of signing statements," such statements have been a long-standing practice going back to the early days of the Republic (though admittedly they became much more prevalent following the Reagan years), and Bush has actually issued fewer such statements than Clinton.


Bush's use of signing statements is much more alarming than Clinton's. A good summary can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signing_statement_%28United_States%29

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-08-2008, 04:45 PM
I generally agree with the criticisms regarding signing statements. I don't attach much legal significance to them, and I doubt a court would either. My point about signing statements was only that people shouldn't think this is a brand new thing. In many cases, Presidents have issued signing statements pledging not to construe legislation in a manner that infringes upon their constitutional authority, especially on matters concerning war.

Even when signing statements aren't issued, Presidents have in many cases simply disregarded or ignored requirements that they deemed unconstitutional. I guess you could say that one of the positive aspects about signing statements is that they put Congress on notice as to how a law is going to be interpreted and implemented.

TwinSwords
02-08-2008, 11:33 PM
unless the Republicans are defeated soundly this November, the culture of signing statements, perpetual war, Guantánamo, and I'm-the-Decider-so-fuck-you is not withering away any time soon.

This is exactly right, and perhaps the most important consideration to anyone voting this year. If a Democrat wins, the Bush legal regime will have been an aberration; though it will be difficult and will take time, it will be corrected and the proper balance restored. But if a Republican should win, Bush's legal theories will become entrenched as new norms, and may come to define the American legal landscape for decades to come.

TwinSwords
02-08-2008, 11:40 PM
I find that doubtful. Hillary certainly isn't going to want to relinquish any executive power
With all respect, you're expressing little more than standard Republican Fear of Hillary, Queen Bitch. This is the same critique of Hillary as a power-mad fascist that has addled the conservative mind since Rush Limbaugh. There's no factual basis for it at all. (I'd be happy to have you point to some.) It's entirely an emotional, fear-and-loathing-based reaction. The simple fact of the matter is that never in his 8 years did Clinton do anything to advance the radical legal theories of the Bush Administration. We don't need to speculate; there's a record to examine. (I am assuming Hillary's legal philosophy doesn't differ from her husband's in any significant ways.)


The fact is, the issue of executive power is less of a political issue than an institutional one. Presidents generally favor a monarchial view of executive power, especially in matters concerning war and foreign policy, while Congress often seems to think the President's power is solely to carry out the laws that Congress passes.
Again, this simply defies history. Apart from Reagan, no modern president has pursued the extreme legal theories of the Bush administration. And Reagan's achievements in this area pale in comparison to what Bush has done.

TwinSwords
02-08-2008, 11:55 PM
(and easy to implement)

How would you implement that?

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 01:04 AM
I have a problem seeing how the possible negative consequences were not known or ignored by the President and his subordinates, epically Vice President Cheney, given the fact that in 1991 then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney argued against the overthrow of Saddam (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/21/wcheney121.xml), citing many of the things we have seen unfold in Iraq and have caused us numerous problems.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 01:17 AM
That really depends on the underlying nature of how the actual implementation of the function is handled. Offhand I can see only three possible means of performing this functionality.

1. It is a hard coded in the form of an API call which would make it difficult to impossible to implement as it would require the owner of the BB code to rewrite the underlying API and recompile the module and then distribute the new module.

2. It is a call to execute a stored procedure, in the database, which would be fairly easy to implement, if BH.tv has the legal rights to do so and only a matter of finding the time and personnel do so.

3. It is contained in the code that BH.tv has written to customize the BB to it's particular needs. This should also be rather easy to accomplish and is again only a matter of finding the time and personnel do so.

If I were to guess it would be #2 as this seems the best design and the proper location to address this functionally, possibly #3 but this would require each user of the BB to write code to implement what would seem to be fairly standard functionality, and would discount the likelihood of #1 as this would be rather poor program design.

Wonderment
02-09-2008, 05:13 AM
How about separating the Justice Dept. from the executive branch, thereby creating a fourth law-enforcement branch of govt. empowered to investigate and prosecute the other three (as well as enforcing ordinary law)? With a separately elected attorney general (or one perhaps appointed by the Supremes with advice & consent of congress?) (Would that be weird er what.) Would that give us a permanent Special Prosecuter?

Here's what I would do for a start, and you wouldn't need a 4th branch:

Congress can make it a felony for the president or vice president to lie to the American people about war or national security. Such a law would be a standard perjury statute that applies to speeches and press conferences. The pres. and VP could be "sworn in" at their inauguration.

Thus, the assertion by Bush in his 03 State of the Union, to cite one of many example -- "We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more" --- would be subject to prosecution, once it turned out there were no WMDs.

Complaints for violation of the statute would be investigated by a special prosecutor, and a conviction would result in immediate loss of office and a possible prison term.

Such a statute would be an effective deterrence against the kind of executive branch deceit we experienced in the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I see no reason why such a law should be objectionable to Dems. or Repubs. We already agree that lying to the American people about matters of national security is gravely immoral. Why shouldn't we ensure that the liars are held accountable?

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 09:33 AM
I'm so glad these these two Law professors agree with Mr Wright the Iraq has been a disaster the real question is for whom. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/07/AR2008020703854.html?hpid=sec-world)

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 11:49 AM
How would you implement that?

Pisc beat me to it, and gave a more comprehensive answer than I would have.

I'd add one thing: I'd find it hard to believe that the automatic generation of the link to post a new comment is buried in the vBulletin code somewhere, since I don't see how the construction of the video page has anything to do with the forum software. It seems to me more likely that the video page is constructed independent of the forum software used, probably with some home-built tools. But even if I'm wrong about this, it still seems easy enough to fix the video page after the fact.

For example, consider the diavlog associated with this particular forum. Look at the URLs for "post a new comment:" on the video page:

http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&noquote=1&p=70032

and the link that fires up the "reply" to the blank opening comment at the top of the thread:

http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=69989&noquote=1

I'm thinking sed (http://www.penguin-soft.com/penguin/man?q=sed&section=ALL&action=man), but the URLs are so similar it'd be easy enough to do by hand and/or with an editor macro. All you'd need to do was know the id for the thread-opening comment.

I might be missing something, and it might also be the case that this "just one more little thing to do" for each diavlog is the proverbial straw, but on the surface of it, it doesn't look like a hard problem to me.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 11:50 AM
... my voluntary departure ...

I hope you'll reconsider. I don't find you excessively vituperative.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 01:47 PM
Brendan, Pisc,
I think there may be some assumptions being made. You may be right that fixing the problem is as trivial as modifying a single line of code in a server-side script (Brendan, Pisc) or a stored proc (Pisc), but without seeing the code that we are starting with, it's impossible to say how easy or hard it would be. And as Pisc observed, the offending code may be contained in a binary that prevents BHTV staff from examining or modifying the code directly; likewise, the logic necessary to find the right URL (actually record ID) for a new sub-thread may be locked in an inaccessible binary, or a stored proc that the BHTV staff can't view or modify. Furthermore, it's possible that changes to the code could invalidate any support provision that might be part of the software licensing agreement.

From an outside-looking-in perspective, a lot of things seem simple. A lot of people think that if it is simple to describe the problem, it can't be that hard to fix it. I was just working with a client yesterday who has implemented a fairly complicated application on her web site that dynamically generates a listing of news stories. She wanted to clone the page and set it up in a different section of her site with a different filter than the original page. This sounds so simple. She implored me, why can't we just copy that whole folder over to the new section!? If the functionality works in Folder A, why won't it work in Folder B? I will skip the explanation for why it would take hours of additional coding to make it happen, because it's boring, but I think you may see what I'm saying.

I don't think I've ever encountered a client who thought a problem was going to be difficult to solve. At the high level of abstraction where clients live, ever problem has an easy fix.

Still: You both may be right that this could be fixed in five minutes. Sometimes problems actually DO have simple fixes. (For example, I was able to give the client above a solution that took 2 hours to implement and delivered 99.5% of what she wanted, but using a different solution that she originally expected.)

My only real point is that none of us is really in any possition to say how easy or difficult this problem is to fix because we don't know anything about the code involved. This is best illustrated by Pisc's 3 possible solutions. Look at his solutions and it's clear we don't even have know which of three wildly different places one would find the offending code:

1. An API

2. A stored procedure

3. Code that BH.tv has written to customize the BB

As for Brendan's observation that the video page is constructed separately from the BB, this may or may not be true (though I am willing to bet it is, given all the grief it has caused, and all the core functionality we have lost in vBulletin so that the formatting of the video page doesn't get screwed up). Assuming it is true, the logic necessary to find the right recordset ID at which to create the new sub-thread could be locked inside a binary or a stored proc or some other code, and is possibly inaccessible.

I don't want to sound like a pessimist -- "Oh! It can't be done!" and I'll re-emphasize, yes it might be very easy to fix. But really, I don't think any of us is in any position to do any more than speculate, and as I said, users/clients always imagine problems can be fixed easily.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 01:51 PM
As for Brendan's observation that the video page is constructed separately from the BB, this may or may not be true (though I am willing to bet it is, given all the grief it has caused, and all the core functionality we have lost in vBulletin so that the formatting of the video page doesn't get screwed up).

This is something else I hope is fixed someday. As you guys probably recall, when the new forum was originally launched, we had the ability to use blockquotes, pictures, rich text, bullets, and other formatting options.

All of that was disabled because it was screwing up the comments page. (This is why I think the comments page code was probably written by the BHTV staff.)

Again, from the outside looking in, it seems fairly simple to modify the function that processes output to the video page to strip out various offending tags or blocks of text. Then again, as I said above, it's easy when you know nothing about the actual programming logic to dream up an extremely simple solution that is "easy" to implement.

In any event, I can live with most of the lost functionality, but the one I really miss is the blockquote: I hate not being able to indent text when I am quoting another source at length. I also wish we could embed pictures.

Oh well. . . . . .

Simon Willard
02-09-2008, 01:51 PM
Sheesh, Kidneystones, you are such a drama queen.

But we don't really know you; you are a virtual person, a disembodied intelligence, swimming in a sea of emotion that leaks into your writing. Pride, shame, angst, charity, anger, ambition, ... they are present in your posts more often than most commenters.

I assume you are a genuine person because of the consistent qualities: obtuse language, off-the-wall opinions, occasional flashes of originality. But I don't know with certainty that you are not a consortium of 16-year-old girls doing this as a project for an AP English class.

Your tantrums are virtual emotion. And "virtual emotion" is an oxymoron.

I'm way off topic, but trying to get my mind around a serious question raised by the civility of commenters controversy. Are we real? Is this a community? Is this a social activity? Does it make sense for bjkeefe to pat people on the back (in a virtual way) by writing "great post"? Is any of this a topic for Science Saturday?

I think Bob prefers insightful comments on the content of the diavlog, rather than providing a platform for our second lives. But I'm not sure...

Anyway, Kidneystones, leave forever and see if we care. Only our virtual feelings will be hurt.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:01 PM
I'm so glad these these two Law professors agree with Mr Wright the Iraq has been a disaster the real question is for whom. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/07/AR2008020703854.html?hpid=sec-world)

Yeah, if that was the case we wouldn't consider it a disaster. WW2 was a disaster for Hitler, but you won't find Americans calling the war a disaster. When people say the war was a disaster, they mean it was a disaster for us, as it clearly was.

How can you possibly believe otherwise? Even if you really liked the idea of the war, it's frightening that you won't acknowledge its enormous costs to the United States.

Pisc: Can I ask you a question? In 100 years, how do you think Bush will be ranked on the scale of presidential greatness?

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:05 PM
I have a problem seeing how the possible negative consequences were not known or ignored by the President and his subordinates, epically Vice President Cheney, given the fact that in 1991 then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney argued against the overthrow of Saddam (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/21/wcheney121.xml), citing many of the things we have seen unfold in Iraq and have caused us numerous problems.

You're the only person I know who points to that video to exonerate the vice president. Most people look at that video and wonder why he ignored and completely contradicted his own earlier advice and observations. No one anywhere near the administration spoke with that kind of frankness and honesty in 2002 or 2003, and as you are well aware, anyone who did was roundly condemned and criticized. We were all told that not only was it going to be a cakewalk, but that it was unreasonable to suggest anything else. I would bet you were one of those proclaiming how easy it would be. I am virtually certain you never expected this war to be the mess it has been. But then again, you have probably never even acknowledged it was a mess; after all, conservatives now say the "surge is working," but then if you polled these same people at any point since the invasion, they have ALWAYS maintained that the war was succeeding.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 02:13 PM
While a interesting question it is mostly an exercise in futile speculation. Since one can as yet judge future history it is hard to speculate as the the stature of presidents yet to come and the trials and tribulations the will face or the results of their endeavors. A lot of his legacy will depend on the eventual outcome in Iraq, which is debatable whether you wish it were so or not. I would judge him to be a mediocre president in some respects and a good president in others. Given the unknowable unknowns I figure he will fall some where in the middle of the spectrum.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 02:23 PM
Twin:

Point taken. I agree: it's easier to imagine a solution than it is to implement it. Still, few things get fixed without someone complaining about the brokenness in the first place. Also, solutions are all too often hard to see for someone buried in the problem, but easy to see for someone looking from the outside. Or, related, the proposed solution might give the implementer a fresh idea, even if the solution is different from what the peanut gallery proposed. So I think it's worth throwing ideas out there.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 02:31 PM
You're the only person I know who points to that video to exonerate the vice president. Most people look at that video and wonder why he ignored and completely contradicted his own earlier advice and observations. No one anywhere near the administration spoke with that kind of frankness and honesty in 2002 or 2003, and as you are well aware, anyone who did was roundly condemned and criticized. We were all told that not only was it going to be a cakewalk, but that it was unreasonable to suggest anything else. I would bet you were one of those proclaiming how easy it would be. I am virtually certain you never expected this war to be the mess it has been. But then again, you have probably never even acknowledged it was a mess; after all, conservatives now say the "surge is working," but then if you polled these same people at any point since the invasion, they have ALWAYS maintained that the war was succeeding. I use it neither to exonerate or discredit Vice President Cheney. I use it to point out an error in their reasoning that the Executive Branch was unaware of the possible negative consequences of the invasion of Iraq. I do this to caution listeners that at least some of Jack Balkin reasoning is premised on false assumption and they should weigh what he says in that light. Your virtual certainty of what I thought it would take to produce a cultural change in Iraq is a false as the virtual personas one often finds online. I have addressed this issue more than once and don't wish to address it again other than to say I never believed that healing a tortured society and producing the cultural changes necessary to achieve positive results would be a "cakewalk" nor accomplished in a fortnight.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:31 PM
While a interesting question it is mostly an exercise in futile speculation. since one can as yet judge future history it is hard to speculate as the the stature of presidents a yet to come and the trials and tribulations the will face and the results of their endeavors.
If I ever had a chance to talk to Bush face to face, I would tell him that the jury is still out on Jimmy Carter, and that historians are still debating Washington, and that in 100 years, people will regard Carter as one of the greats. Perhaps that would help Bush realize that he's considered a failure for a reason, and that history's judgement will be no different — unless of course we turn into a kind of Nazi state, in which case I'm sure he will be heralded as the heroic figure who put us on the path of taking government away from the people and eliminating accountablity.



A lot of his legacy will depend on the eventual outcome in Iraq, which is debatable whether you wish it were so or not.
This is the frightening calculus that keeps us committed to the war. Like the gambler who has lost $10,000 at the slots and refuses to leave because he is determined to win it all back, Republicans want to keep us on the disasterous path that has already cost us so dearly. Since Bush isn't betting with his own money, or the lives of his own family, he literally has nothing to lose. All he has to do is extend the war past January 20, 2009, and it becomes someone else's problem — or so he hopes.

But in fact, in my opinion, he will never get credit for future success, and no outcome in Iraq will exonerate him. The war fought on his terms has been a collosal disaster, and any future improvements will not undo his responsibility for that disaster.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 02:41 PM
I would agree that the 100 jury is still out President Carter. But the way things are moving I would have a hard time seeing him move up in the list, unless we get one or two more cardigan wearing presidents that preform to the President Carter standards. Of course we could also elected a scarecrow stuffed with straw as this argument.

As to your judgment an opinion you are welcome to it and as you are still free to express it openly I would judge that we are yet someways removed from a Nazi state.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 02:43 PM
But I don't know with certainty that you are not a consortium of 16-year-old girls doing this as a project for an AP English class.

Nothing against kidneystones, but that's a funny line.

I'm way off topic, but trying to get my mind around a serious question raised by the civility of commenters controversy. Are we real? Is this a community? Is this a social activity? Does it make sense for bjkeefe to pat people on the back (in a virtual way) by writing "great post"? Is any of this a topic for Science Saturday?

I think, yes, it is a community and social activity. At least in part. I'm sorry if my habit of offering kudos seems like noise to you.

I think Bob prefers insightful comments on the content of the diavlog, rather than providing a platform for our second lives. But I'm not sure...

Glad you appended the qualifier, because there's little evidence to suggest that this is what Bob wants. In fact, if his behavior on camera is any indication of what he wants from the forum, I'd point out he acts quite differently when diavlogging with Mickey than he does when speaking to other people. I'd also point out the range of guests he books and the varying degrees of seriousness of the topics that are covered.

Maybe you would like everything to be more high-brow, and that people only post when they're having a serious debate. I, however, like the informality. I don't see why there needs to be any restriction on the type of comment. Jokes are always good. So are gossip and small talk. I don't see how these take away from the opportunity for people to have substantive discussions. I submit that a forum that frowned upon people posting anything that wasn't Very Serious And Carefully Thought Out would have a lot more trouble keeping itself going.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:55 PM
I use it neither to exonerate or discredit Vice President Cheney. I use it to point out an error in their reasoning that the Executive Branch was unaware of the possible negative consequences of the invasion of Iraq.
Error in reasoning? We were repeatedly told by the administration and its apologists that the war would be a cakewalk. Conservatives proclaimed victory 3 weeks after we crossed the border, and spent the next month laughing at the foolish liberals who expected difficulty. That's why you have to go back to 1991 to find a ONE example of a war supporter who had appraised the difficulties honestly.

If there was an error in reasoning, it was trusting Bush, his administration, and the conservative apologists embedded in our national media who browbeat skeptics into submission.

Furthermore, you have glossed over the real significance of your conclusion: If, in fact, the administration "was aware of the possible negative consequences of the invasion of Iraq," why were they so dishonest about it in their public presentation? By pursuing this line of reasoning, you are not supporting the conservative critique; you are supporting the liberal Democratic critique that says we were lied to and taken to war on false pretenses.

As it happens, I think you're probably right: They knew exactly how difficult this would be, but they concealed those concerns and deliberately lied to the public because they were afraid honesty would derail their plans for the invasion.



I do this to caution listeners that at least some of Jack Balkin reasoning is premised on false assumption and they should weigh what he says in that light.
I don't know which exact quote of Balkin's you are referring to, but again: if he's guilty of anything, it's repeating the numerous public promises made by the entire array of conservative voices, from Bush and Cheney to Fox News, talk radio, and the conservative print media. If you are looking for faulty logic, you should start at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and work your way through the ranks of conservative punditry. That's what we liberals have been doing since all the promises made in 2002 and early 2003 turned out to be lies. I find it strange that you condemn someone for simply holding Bush and his followers to their words, and pointing out how wrong they were.




Your virtual certainty of what I thought it would take to produce a cultural change in Iraq is a false as the virtual personas one often finds online.
A good point. I should not make assumptions about what you believe or talk to you as a caricature of a conservative. After all, I would never have guessed you would have written that excellent essay about the lavish lifestyles and irritating self-pity of the rich.

Maybe you were realistic about what would happen in Iraq. If so, you were the rarest of conservatives — or maybe you guys just kept your concerns to yourselves.

For most liberals, it was obviously going to be no different than another Israel/Palestine situation, with an oppressed population kept down with brutal force. Just as the Israelis have been unable to pacify the oppressed population living under their martial thumb for 60 years, there was never any reason to expect our luck would be any better imposing our will on the victims of our invasion in Iraq. Turns out we were right. Maybe someday you'll give us credit for that.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 02:59 PM
I would judge that we are yet someways removed from a Nazi state.

I did not mean to suggest we are approaching a Nazi state or anything like one. I was merely saying that if, for example, totalitarian communism returned to Russia, Stalin would again be hailed as a hero. Likewise, if Ron Paul-style libertarians took over the country, Abraham Lincoln would be considered the worst of presidents.*

Who is regarded good or bad is based on the governing philosophy at the time the judgement is made. It is in this sense that I made the point that Bush will only be judged a great president if we turn into a kind of Nazi state that loathes human beings, accountability to the people, democracy, and basic human rights. In that world, Bush will be regarded as the hero who was a visionary ahead of his time.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 03:02 PM
Twin:

Point taken. I agree: it's easier to imagine a solution than it is to implement it. Still, few things get fixed without someone complaining about the brokenness in the first place. Also, solutions are all too often hard to see for someone buried in the problem, but easy to see for someone looking from the outside. Or, related, the proposed solution might give the implementer a fresh idea, even if the solution is different from what the peanut gallery proposed. So I think it's worth throwing ideas out there.

I totally agree, and didn't mean to discourage brainstorming and complaints about problems. I wish some of these things would be fixed, too. I'm just not sure how easy they are to fix. I actually kind of feel that the tech support people have pretty much vanished and as Wolfgangus said, it would be nice if we could at least get an update from someone. It seems the only time tech support shows up is to delete a picture of a quote from a thread. I hate to complain too much because we all appreciate what they do for us, but it's frustrating having to wonder if they are even aware of our concerns, let alone prioritizing them for eventual correction....

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 03:28 PM
I find it strange that you condemn someone for simply holding Bush and his followers to their words, and pointing out how wrong they were. I love it when you get on one of your rants. I can just picture the virtual you with your eyes bulging and your cheeks flushed with the red glow of anger as your fingers fly furiously pounding out anther five or six leftist talking points. All the so pleasing imagery aside I would appreciate it if you can actually point out where I "condemn" Jack Balkin in any of the comments in the sub chain. While I lend no more credence to Mr Balkin's opinions, that fall outside the realm of his expertise the law, than anyone else's opinions of subject outside their expertise; I don't quit grasp that this is condemnation by any understanding of the word I posses.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 03:31 PM
These two are a great combination and I hope they become a regular pairing. Ultimately, except for war, there is nothing as critically important to the fate of the nation as our laws. These are topics that are rarely explored in any kind of depth in any other media save for the legal press. Eric and Jack can help bring these issues to a wider audience so we can all better understand how our fate as a nation is determined by abstract legal theory.

While I disagree with everything Eric says, he's an able advocate for right-wing extremism, and it's useful to listen to his justifications for transforming America into an authoritarian police state with a limited role for any branch of government besides the executive. And, of course, Jack is more than capable to explaining why we should preserve American values in the face of the full-on assault by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 03:46 PM
... I actually kind of feel that the tech support people have pretty much vanished and as Wolfgangus said, it would be nice if we could at least get an update from someone. ...

Sadly, I feel the same way. It does seem as though not a lot has happened since the new version of the site was launched and the first round of bugs were dealt with. If it's a question of funding, I can completely understand, and I'm more than happy to suffer the minor glitches in return for free great content. But it would be nice, if so, to hear something definitive, even just something along the lines of Stop your whining. We can't afford to do anything else.

Minor point: Blockquotes don't seem to be broken any more. I don't look at the comments on the video page very often, but when I do, I do notice quoted (indented) text.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 04:06 PM
Sadly, I feel the same way. It does seem as though not a lot has happened since the new version of the site was launched and the first round of bugs were dealt with. If it's a question of funding, I can completely understand, and I'm more than happy to suffer the minor glitches in return for free great content. But it would be nice, if so, to hear something definitive, even just something along the lines of Stop your whining. We can't afford to do anything else.
Agreed.


Minor point: Blockquotes don't seem to be broken any more. I don't look at the comments on the video page very often, but when I do, I do notice quoted (indented) text.
Really? Here, let me try it using the vBCode "indent" tag:


This text should be indented.


Alas, they have disabled that tag. It's not listed here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/misc.php?do=bbcode), either.

Maybe you were thinking of the QUOTE tag?

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 04:16 PM
I love it when you get on one of your rants. I can just picture the virtual you with your eyes bulging and your cheeks flushed with the red glow of anger as your fingers fly furiously pounding out anther five or six leftist talking points.
LOL. That's a hilarious description of how you see me.



All the so pleasing imagery aside I would appreciate it if you can actually point out where I "condemn" Jack Balkin in any of the comments in the sub chain.
The "condemnation" I was referring to was enclosed in a quote directly above the comment you are responding to. Specifically, you said that Balkin's analysis should be weighed in the light of faulty premises based on false assumptions.

Specifically, I will quote your words for the second time:

at least some of Jack Balkin reasoning is premised on false assumption and they should weigh what he says in that light.

And since you didn't get it the first time, I will say it again: The false premise/faulty assumption you are referring to was based on promises made by the entire right-wing media machine, and the Bush administration itself. Merely for holding them to their own words, you accuse Balkin of "false assumptions." That's why I said I find it strange that you condemn someone for simply holding Bush and his followers to their words, and pointing out how wrong they were.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 05:05 PM
That's condemnation in your book? I wish I suffered these wounds of condemnation as to what gets thrown at me here. To me it is merely pointing out a fact and reminding readers to account for that in his positions. This is a law professor after all and I am sure that he understands well how important to get all the facts and judge them accordingly. I am fairly sure given his obvious biases that even taking this fact into account his judgment would remain unchanged. Readers are free to accept or reject his opinion as they will but to make a blanket statement to the affect of "Administration was unaware of the consequences" is pretty hard to reconcile given the content of the story and video.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 05:09 PM
No that is just how I see you, and pretty much anyone else, when you /they are ranting and reeling off talking point after talking point. When you get away from the rote recitation of talking points I can actually see you as a persons instead of an angry typing head.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 05:16 PM
a blanket statement to the affect of "Administration was unaware of the consequences" is pretty hard to reconcile given the content of the story and video.

That video represents the lone example of a neocon war supporter speaking honestly about the real danger of occupation in post-war Iraq, as you certainly are aware (why you are pretending otherwise I do not know).

And Balkin might never have seen that video: it wasn't widely circulated until someone stumbled across it sometime in 2007. And even then it was only widely circulated on YouTube and in the blogosphere.

If Balkin didn't see that video, it's entirely possible he never heard a single war advocate discuss any possible dangers of occupation. Besides that one example from TEN YEARS before the invasion, you just can't find any examples of conservatives talking that way.

I hate trite expressions, but you're straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

Wonderment
02-09-2008, 05:30 PM
I use it neither to exonerate or discredit Vice President Cheney. I use it to point out an error in their reasoning that the Executive Branch was unaware of the possible negative consequences of the invasion of Iraq. I do this to caution listeners that at least some of Jack Balkin reasoning is premised on false assumption and they should weigh what he says in that light. Your virtual certainty of what I thought it would take to produce a cultural change in Iraq is a false as the virtual personas one often finds online. I have addressed this issue more than once and don't wish to address it again other than to say I never believed that healing a tortured society and producing the cultural changes necessary to achieve positive results would be a "cakewalk" nor accomplished in a fortnight.

What the law professors don't seem to factor in -- perhaps because their dispute is too narrowly technical -- is that immense damage was done to our country's political institutions -- including but not limited to the executive -- by the horrific lies that led up to the war, the return of CIA secrecy, torture , disappearing of prisoners; the travesty of Guantánamo, the expansion of torture-by-proxy, spying on Americans without judicial authority, abuse of signing statements, and perhaps most damaging a decline in the international trustworthiness of the US beyond the worst levels of previous criminal presidencies like Nixon's.

Who cares what Cheney said in 1980? For whatever reason in 2003 he, Bush, Rumsfeld and Powell lied us into an insane adventure, sacrificing the lifes of 1000s of American and 100s of thousands Iraqis.

My theory on why he changed his tune on what a cakewalk Iraq would be is that once he had the opportunity to engage in some serious mass murder and megalomania, he couldn't resist it. He got caught up in group think and paranoia and the intoxicating power of the White House. It happens, especially to mediocrities like this bunch. All the more reason for strong checks and balances, for transparency in government, and for post-deceit accountability to keep them -- and future thugs -- from getting away with it.

piscivorous
02-09-2008, 05:33 PM
As long as were no reduce to trite idiomatic expressions to as a means of argumentation "you are seem to be trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill."

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 05:45 PM
Twin:

Maybe you were thinking of the QUOTE tag?

Yes, sorry. I was unaware of the existence of the INDENT tag. (But you did refer to quotes, IIRC.)

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 05:54 PM
Twin:
Yes, sorry. I was unaware of the existence of the INDENT tag. (But you did refer to quotes, IIRC.)

You're right: In my first draft, I had included the QUOTE tag as one of the casualties, but then realized it was still intact, so I removed it (I think) from my list. You must have read my post soon after I submitted it.

bjkeefe
02-09-2008, 06:05 PM
The one that irritates me is the omission of the "strike" tag. Proper use of that is one of my favorite forms of typographical humor.

TwinSwords
02-09-2008, 06:14 PM
The one that irritates me is the omission of the "strike" tag. Proper use of that is one of my favorite forms of typographical humor.
LOL! I know what you mean. It's a great tool for a certain kind of joke.... Grumble grumble grumble. I hope they fix these things soon. The strike tag should have no bearing on the video page formatting, so I have no idea why they would have taken that away...

Thus Spoke Elvis
02-13-2008, 09:48 PM
With all respect, you're expressing little more than standard Republican Fear of Hillary, Queen Bitch. This is the same critique of Hillary as a power-mad fascist that has addled the conservative mind since Rush Limbaugh. There's no factual basis for it at all. (I'd be happy to have you point to some.)

Baloney. The opinion that Hillary is an obstinate control-freak is hardly isolated to the far right. In fact, it's a big reason why a lot of Democrats, including most of the liberal intelligencia, favor Obama. She's exhibited these traits throughout her public career, from her refusal in 1993 to make meetings and records of the Health Care Task Force open to the public, to the conduct of her presidential campaign (her support for the teachers union's lawsuit challenging the rules of the Nevada causus after it looked like she might lose, after previously having supported those rules when it looked like she was going to win; her attempts to have her "wins" in Michigan and Florida count for delegates after it looked like she would need them to beat Obama, after having supported the Democratic Party's decision to deny awarding those states any delegates after they broke party rules; the bunker mentality of her campaign, etc.).

Apart from Reagan, no modern president has pursued the extreme legal theories of the Bush administration. And Reagan's achievements in this area pale in comparison to what Bush has done.

Define "modern." Harry Truman committed U.S. troops to the Korean conflict without even asking for congressional authorization. President H.W. Bush and Clinton did the same with respect to Panama and Kosovo, respectively. President Roosevelt interned tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans via executive order. The U.S. has used very harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, long before W. Bush came to power. Every modern executive through the Nixon Administration engaged in warrantless wiretapping of U.S. persons. The Clinton Administration started the extraordinary rendition program, and his counsel issued a legal memorandum in support of signing statements. http://http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/signing.htm The Carter Administration unilaterally terminated our defense treaty with Taiwan.

The significant difference between the Bush Administration and others is that we've been at war during seven of the past eight years. Accordingly, the Administration is making arguments in support of the executive's powers in the national security arena with a far greater frequency than prior administrations that were dealing with fewer, or less significant, military conflicts.

This is not to say that the every prior President would claim the same executive authority as Bush. Many wouldn't, but the historical record suggests that at least some -- Republican and Democrat -- in modern American history would. As I said in my initial post, the issue of executive power has been less of a political dispute than an institutional one.