Baby Steps To Authoritarianism

Folks who staked their credibility on the idea that Bush would never order warrantless wiretaps on purely domestic communications just got punk’d, again.

“Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States — a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

“I’m not going to rule it out,” Gonzales said.

In the past, Gonzales and other officials refused to say whether they had the legal authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, and have stressed that the NSA eavesdropping program is focused only on international communications.”

Question: is there anything that Gonzales has explicitly ruled out? Extralegal executions? Heh heh, trick question. Even if Gonzales does categorically rule something out he can always clarify his answer later. Senate testimony will go on meaning diddly-squat until the Republican Senate stops giving fellatio and calling it oversight.

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62 replies
  1. 1
    Mr. Moderate says:

    Yet another example of why we need the other party controlling Congress so that we can press these people *under oath* about these blatant violations of Constitutional rights.

  2. 2
    OCSteve says:

    “if it were related to al-Qaeda.”

    Sorry – don’t have a problem with that.

    “until the Republican Senate stops giving fellatio and calling it oversight.”

    Well, you guys can fix it all up after the fall. After the impeachment and all – first things first I know. I am at the point where I honestly hope you get both the House and the Senate back. Just because I want to see what you actually do with the power. After 6 years of back seat driving and “anyone but Bush” and “our position is the opposite of whatever Bush wants” I honestly want you guys back in control. I think it will be a disaster for the country but at least the entertainment value will be high – and it will clear the stage for 08 once the country gets a gander at that.

  3. 3
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    But Steve, I have no problem wire-tapping if it is serving a legitimate purpose. But how do we know that they aren’t just calling it a legitimate purpose when it is in fact, illegitimate. And there is no way to verify this; which violates one of the basic principles of security, “Trust, but verify.”

    Here is the question, when we [the people, by way of the Congress] authorize war; do we sign over unlimited power in the prosecution of that war to the President? I’d argue no. Gonzales, et al., it seems is arguing that we have; or at least that we have not reached the boundary of that power yet.

  4. 4
    p.lukasiak says:

    Sorry – don’t have a problem with that.

    if a wiretap is actually “related to al Qaeda”, then there should be no problem getting a supoena. That nutcases like OCSteve don’t understand that tells you everything you need to know about the sheer idiocy of those that support Bush and his policies.

  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    Related is a funny word. Let’s say that OCSteve has a fourth-cousin whose grandmother’s maiden name was Hitler. Is he ‘related’ to Nazism? In a certain sense, yes.

    Maybe OCSteve’s dry cleaner sometimes takes shirts for a guy on the terrorist watch list. That puts him barely two degrees of separation from potentially the next perpetrator of September 11. Does that mean that OCSteve is al Qaeda-related?

    If OCSteve scoffs, and he will, he will inevitably base his demurral on an assumption of good faith by the people conducting surveillance without court approval. For the second time in two days, Steve, you’re making the mistake of projecting your own characteristics on the people whom you elected.

  6. 6
    zzyzx says:

    Yes that’s exactly it. The problem is not that we’re spying on Al Queda, it’s that we have to take the word of the administration that that is who we’re really listening to. Even if Bush would never abuse this, how do we know that the next president wouldn’t?

  7. 7
    Ed says:

    So we find out today that Bush personally authorized leaking sensitive intelligence information for political reasons.

    Explain to me again how we can trust that this President has not used his NSA program, that has no oversight, to wiretap Americans for political reasons?

  8. 8
    CaptainComeback says:

    I really don’t want to start going down the path where every president from now on will get impeached. You know both sides will have grudges and want to out-do each other. In this case, it appears that the president did break or at least bend the laws and the Dems contention if they retake power will be of legitimate merit. I just wish in 1998, the impeachment reason was a bit more, shall we say, serious and tangible because that is what appears to get this ball rolling if in fact we start down this path.

  9. 9
    Tim F. says:

    Well, you guys can fix it all up after the fall. After the impeachment and all – first things first I know. I am at the point where I honestly hope you get both the House and the Senate back. Just because I want to see what you actually do with the power. After 6 years of back seat driving and “anyone but Bush” and “our position is the opposite of whatever Bush wants” I honestly want you guys back in control. I think it will be a disaster for the country but at least the entertainment value will be high – and it will clear the stage for 08 once the country gets a gander at that.

    In case anybody was wondering, this is what the ‘sour grapes’ story from Aesop’s fables originally meant. Compared with profanity, thread-poisoning, jackaloping and disappearing entirely it seems like a fairly dignified way to lose an argument.

  10. 10

    ObsessiveCompulsiveSteve, the Attorney General wasn’t even under oath but refused to deny black bag jobs.

    Do I think that George Bush deserves to be impeached? Gee, the bar was set pretty low in the last decade, but I’d rather the President get the heave-ho for lying us into a war, subverting the Constitution and torturing people against international treaties and human decency than being serviced by Jess Gannon. I’ll even give Dubya a pass when it turns out Scotty lied about Jeff’s sleepovers.

    The bottom line is that ECHELON technology is just too attractive a nuisance for spooks to not abuse, and for creeps like BushCo.

  11. 11
    OCSteve says:

    In case anybody was wondering, this is what the ‘sour grapes’ story from Aesop’s fables originally meant. Compared with profanity, thread-poisoning, jackaloping and disappearing entirely it seems like a fairly dignified way to lose an argument.

    First I was stating my opinion – not trying to win an argument. Do you actually think I entertain any hopes of “winning” an argument here? And what exactly constitutes a “win” in a BJ comments thread? So I hereby declare you the winner of said argument. I hang my head in shame at my loss.

    As far as profanity, thread-poisoning etc, you will be hard pressed to find an example of that from me if that is what you are implying. Disappearing? Well just as you and John sometimes go a day or more without posting, I to have a life outside the blogs and don’t always have the luxury of hanging out here all day. I’ll be happy though to try to find and respond to anything you wanted me to 2 days ago…

  12. 12
    yet another jeff says:

    They throw the name “al-Qaeda” in the defense and everyone is “oh, well…then I don’t have a problem with that.” A question…how do they know it’s “related to al-Qaeda” unless they’re listening in the first place?

  13. 13
    Tim F. says:

    As far as profanity, thread-poisoning etc, you will be hard pressed to find an example of that from me if that is what you are implying.

    Not at all, although I can see how you could interpret that. I meant to say that many people have many ways of acknowledging defeat (you were basically acknowledging the likelihood of political defeat) and compared with the alternatives the sour-grapes angle seems downright dignified. Let me officially correct the record to say that I have never seen you engage in any of the behaviors that I listed and I would be surprised if you did. I apologize for the confusion.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    Well, the name of the site is Balloon Juice, so Steve could have just been letting off hot air.

    If it makes him feel any better, I also look forward to the Dems completely replacing the Republicans. Things are in such disarray right now, Democrats need only do what is clearly and obviously right and the country will get better. War in Iran? Try diplomacy before you bomb the living hell out of it. You win. Restore medicare and taxes to pre-2000 degrees of sanity? Anything is better than the disaster of a system we’ve set up over the last 5 years. You win. Dealing with lobbyists? Enforce the barest degree of ethical standards in a forthright and believable fashion. You win.

    If you can survive being crusified on FOX News for sneezing wrong, I think your career as a Democrat is going to be looking up for the next four years.

  15. 15
    OCSteve says:

    And it’s not sour grapes regardless of what you think. I honestly believe it is time to let Reid and Peloski run the show for a couple of years.

    Let them either make the hard decisions to prosecute this war, or be seen not to. Let them lead the fight or be seen, in full daylight, to weaken both our resolve and actual efforts. Let them recall the troops, roll back the PATRIOT Act, and close down Gitmo.

    If they actually step up and meet the moment I will applaud them. If they do not, if they cater to Atrios, Kos, and FDL then, as I said, it makes things that much simpler for 08.

  16. 16
    Doctor Gonzo says:

    When did it become a conservative belief that the police and executive branch should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as it is “related” to terrarists?

    Wiretaps without judicial oversight? Okay, as long as it’s “related” to al Qaeda!

    Searches without search warrants? Okay, as long as it’s “related” to al Qaeda!

    Random interrogations of people? Okay, as long as it’s “related” to al Qaeda!

    If I didn’t know better, I would think that al Qaeda is the richest, most powerful, most deadly force in the history of the world to merit such wholesale chucking of our freedoms.

  17. 17
    yet another jeff says:

    I wish the Republicans were Conservatives.

  18. 18
    yet another jeff says:

    Doctor Gonzo,

    Those things never quit being conservative beliefs, it’s just that the GOP quit letting conservatives speak. It’s hard to think of a better term for today’s GOP than Authoritarian.

  19. 19
    OCSteve says:

    Not at all, although I can see how you could interpret that

    Thank you for the clarification. I did interpret it that way. And I am, for the record, acknowledging the likelihood of political defeat, although I really don’t care which party is in control. The Dems can’t do any worse on the domestic side, and I do think they will be forced to take the foreign side seriously.

  20. 20
    fwiffo says:

    Is it just me, or have things gotten completely backwards?

    Didn’t conservatives used to believe that under the constitution, the powers of the federal government were inherently limited? Weren’t conservatives the ones to object to any interpretations of the constitution that expanded federal power? (e.g. expansive interpretations of the commerce clause to include things like environmental regulations.)

    Now it’s conservatives that are arguing for inherent powers instead of inherent limitations of power.

  21. 21
    don surber says:

    TIM F:

    “the Republican Senate stops giving fellatio and calling it oversight”

    Grow up

    Just plain act like a man, someone who can make an argument, state a case and present facts without resorting to blowjob jokes

    Grow the hell up

  22. 22
    Punchy says:

    I’m afraid the natural and frightening progression of this is to start physical warantless searches, all under “AQ” basis. Start entering homes and buisnesses sans a search warrant. At that point, I do believe, along with the Prez’s authority to declare US citizens “ECs” and locked up forever, that we’ve officially gone to a monarchy.

    After all…they can tap your phones, alter your words (if necessary), then enter your house, and take you away. Forever.

  23. 23
    Andrew says:

    Uh oh, not only is surber back in wingnut mode, but he’s cranky too!

  24. 24
    Ancient Purple says:

    Just plain act like a man, someone who can make an argument, state a case and present facts without resorting to blowjob jokes

    Grow the hell up

    Would you please stop bringing up the Republicans’ reaction to the Clinton-Lewinsky matter?

  25. 25
    Ancient Purple says:

    Sorry – don’t have a problem with that.

    Yeah. That 4th Amendment is such a drag.

  26. 26
    yet another jeff says:

    My my, not exactly a denial that the GOP behavior is analogous to fellatio. Ok, we can find a different analogy. The point remains that there is only submission to will, not oversight.

    Will someone argue that the GOP is providing oversight?

  27. 27
    David says:

    Well, it’s certainly overlooking things. And looking involves sight. So, logically…

  28. 28
    Slide says:

    I honestly want you guys back in control. I think it will be a disaster for the country but at least the entertainment value will be high

    a disaster for the country? Like the disaster we had under eight years of a Bill Clinton predidency? Disaster? You mean the Dems would do worse than what this incompentent group of immoral and venal crooks that are currently running the country have done? Wow. that would be really really bad. Funny how when Clinton was in the White House we had some of the best years, by any objective meausure, that this country ever had. Funny heh? And as for entertainment value? You think anything the Dems would do would top the VP shooting an old man in the face? Or three top officials of Homeland Security being pedofiles? Or “heck of a job” Brown? Or the Terry Schivo debackle? Now thats entertainment.

    one question, we’ve now had five years of a GOP government, lock stock and barrell, can you tell me what you are proud of? What accomplishements can you point to that the GOP has graced this wonderful country of ours? Please let us all know.

  29. 29
    Mr Furious says:

    Isn’t Adam Schiff the cranky old DA on ‘Law and Order’?

    All I can hope is that the revelations about abusing NIE and classified information for pure polical gain willl begin to take its toll on trusting bush to operate an unsupervised, secret spying operation in the country.

    You’d think it would, but the Republican Congress just keeps swallowing whatever Bush asks them too. (That’s for you, Don)

  30. 30
    yet another jeff says:

    Indeed, the memebers GOP Congress keeps bobbing their heads in agreement to whatever Bush says. On their knees in submission….

  31. 31
    SeesThroughIt says:

    The problem is not that we’re spying on Al Queda, it’s that we have to take the word of the administration that that is who we’re really listening to.

    Yes, but no matter how many time you explain that to Bushies, they still blankly chirp, “Democrats don’t want us wiretapping terrorists!” like they’re a group of GOP-programmed Epsilons from Brave New World.

  32. 32
    Pb says:

    OCSteve,

    I wouldn’t necessarily be thrilled with having Reid and Pelosi in charge, but it’d be an enormous improvement over having Jack Abramoff Tom DeLay Boehner and Frist Bush Rove, Norquist, Scaife, Reed, Dobson and Cheney in charge.

  33. 33

    Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

    I think a better question would have been to replace al-qaeda with a nebulous term like “war on terror” and see what they have to say.

    Otherwise you’re just going to have idiots like OCSteve who say “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

  34. 34
    Pb says:

    The Other Steve,

    Well, “related to al-Qaeda” is a pretty nebulous term already. The way this administration reasons, hummus is “related to al-Qaeda”. Does that make my supermarket a potential sponsor of terrorism, and thus, a target? Probably. Could they pre-emptively bomb it, just in case? Possibly. I bet they have a legal justification for that lying around somewhere. These are the same morons who told us to be on the lookout for people with cell phones and almanacs, for crissake.

  35. 35
    D. Mason says:

    Didn’t conservatives used to believe that under the constitution, the powers of the federal government were inherently limited? Weren’t conservatives the ones to object to any interpretations of the constitution that expanded federal power?

    Conservatives still believe those things. Authoritarian Republicans simply abandoned them and their beliefs. Many Conservatives were used and discarded-they remained important until the final vote tally. On one hand they have to betray their own beliefs and stick with the big government GOP. On the other hand they have to accept that they were played as fools by George Bush! For the ones I know, it’s tough to swallow.

    I am a Conservative, I never voted for Bush. I am about as rabid a Bush hater as any far-lefty you can find. I honestly would like pay($50 on ppv) to see him tried for war crimes. Bush pushes the antethesis of everything I believe government and America should be.

    America was built on the deeds of brave men who sacrificed everything so that We the People might live in a free nation. Bush’s actions mock everything they fought and bled to create. His military leadership spits on the troops and degrades every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform. His economic policies remind me of a smash and grab robbery. His absolute disdain for Freedom and the Constitution(to him it’s just a “Goddamned piece of paper”) is staggering. I could go on and on about the President who is unfit to flip burgers at a truck stop deli, but I digress.

    Did I mention that I am a conservative?

  36. 36
    Ryan S says:

    Classification Directive
    Unabridged version Classification Directive

    I am NOT a lawyer so I hope I interpreted this right but according to Sec 3.4(C) The President must have the Agency head that originally classified the information (the CIA i think)do the declassification. Since that didn’t happen until at least 10 day after the leak, section 1.2(c) ((c) Classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information. ) I believe is still in effect.

    I have no law background so I don’t know if im off base or not.

  37. 37
    GOP4Me says:

    Anything I could add to this thread has already been said, far more eloquently, by OCSteve and by Don Surber.

    I tip my hat to you both, and thank you for fighting the good fight against the innumerable Balloon Juice moonbat-gang adversaries. Carry on.

  38. 38
    John S. says:

    Just plain act like a man, someone who can make an argument, state a case and present facts without resorting to blowjob jokes

    Sayeth Don Surber, a man undoubtedly who knows a thing or two about refraining from blowjob jokes in lieu of presenting hard facts (pardon the pun).

    I wonder if Don’s blog archives go back to the Clinton era so we could verify his sincerity on such matters…

  39. 39

    Tim, I agree with Don Surber about the blowjob jokes. Remember, Jeff Gannon wasn’t visiting Congress and having sleepovers there. He couldn’t even get past the background check there. Ask Scotty McClellan.

    If you are going to use blowjob jokes, please restrict them to the White House and its occupants.

    And maybe Ken Mehlman.

  40. 40
    Ryan S says:

    Wow that was stupid I posted that previous comment on the wrong thread.

  41. 41
    Mr Furious says:

    Great rant D. Mason. I love it.

  42. 42
    Easyliving says:

    Typical silly, powerless liberals, you miss the point: it’s a constitutional question whether the President can authorize warrantless wiretaps of domestic persons. Of course the AG isn’t going to proclaim a definate “no” when asked a question related to the Presidents power in an area that deals directly with Article II that hasn’t been addressed by OUR Supreme Court yet.

    Just so all you nitwits know, when Bush started this whole thing leaders of Congress were briefed. That blows the hell outta most of the comments on this board, but I don’t expect many of you to understand why. It’s too nuanced for your effete, powerless, eunich-like existence to comprehend.

    You will gain neither House nor Senate in ’06. You will go down in flames, once and for all, in ’08. The Democratic Party is finished as we know it. I, along with a majority of Americans, have moonbats like you to thank. Thanks, losers.

    Easyliving

  43. 43
    syn says:

    “War in Iran? Try diplomacy before you bomb the living hell out of it”

    Apparently Democrats would rather wait until Iran nukes bombs the hell out of us before they would engage in war. Unfortunately, the stupified Dems knee-jerk response would be to engage in a full-out assault on the entire Middle East.

    The problem with pacisifism is that it always leads to greater destruction. And, it’s the reason why I’ll never vote Democrat.

  44. 44
    DougJ says:

    I think that most of the really rabid Bush-haters are conservatives. Witness John Dean and Kevin Phillips. Some Democrats think Bush is just another Republican (Matt Yglesias said he was worse then Reagan), but real conservatives understand that incompetence, corruption, and arrogance of the Bush administration has nothing to do with any particular political philosophy. Rather, it is what comes of empowering incompetent crooks with no repsect for the constitution. It is to the Republican party’s eternal shame that it allowed this to happen. But it doesn’t reflect on conservatism as a philosophy.

  45. 45
    DougJ says:

    I meant to say “Matt Yglesias said he was no worse than Reagan”.

  46. 46
    D. Mason says:

    But it doesn’t reflect on conservatism as a philosophy.

    Unfortunately, in a world of permanent labels, it does. George Bush has forever branded conservatives as idiots or worse in the eyes of most Americans. I can easily see myself being ashamed to say I’m “conservative” in 5 years. Not because my beliefs will have changed but because that label is ruined. Before long the word “conservative” will invoke images of Ann Coulter and the administration her ilk prop up. What credibility does the philosophy behind the label have then?

    One good thing may come of all this. Another generation of Americans might realise that their own good fortune depends partly on keeping a close watch on our “leaders”. Let us hope.

  47. 47
    Pb says:

    DougJ,

    I think that most of the really rabid Bush-haters are conservatives. Witness John Dean and Kevin Phillips.

    And Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs.

  48. 48
    Johnny says:

    Question: is there anything that Gonzales has explicitly ruled out?

    Only a free America, only freedom from Tyranny.

  49. 49
    Johnny says:

    Anyone who thinks this administration is NOT conservative, really should read more. Specifically, Burke, and Kirk.

    It is the first duty of a conservative president to take control so that the “levelers” (what conservatives back in the 1700’s called the founders, and I have noted more than one conservative writer still uses that term against “liberals”) can’t harm the government. The masses are better leaving such difficult situations to their betters.

    That, in a nutshell, is traditional, historical conservatism.

    And King George fulfills that conservative promise in a most concise manner.

  50. 50
    jg says:

    The problem with pacisifism is that it always leads to greater destruction. And, it’s the reason why I’ll never vote Democrat.

    Thats the strategy. Stay in power by convincing the eassily convinced that the other guys will get you killed if you elect them. Its the same reason magicians wear white gloves, misdirection.

    The masses are better leaving such difficult situations to their betters.

    Contradicts all the wailing from the right about elites doesn’t it?

  51. 51
    Robert Chavez says:

    No, there is no legal question as to whether the President can order warrantless searches on domestic calls and citizens. No question at all. See, in our government, there are 3, and only 3 branches. The police department belongs to the executive branch. The president is the head of the executive branch. Therefore, the question is whether the executive branch can warrantlessly search citizens. And the answer, backed up by roughly 200 years of case law, is a resounding no. Just because he’s the head of the executive branch does not give the President some sort of magical “ignore the 4th Amendment” power. If the FBI can’t do warrantless searches, than neither can the FBI’s boss. The 4th amendment doesn’t say “no unreasonable warrantless searches, except if the president orders it.” Rule of law, bitches.

  52. 52
    Cyrus says:

    … but real conservatives understand that incompetence, corruption, and arrogance of the Bush administration has nothing to do with any particular political philosophy. Rather, it is what comes of empowering incompetent crooks with no repsect for the constitution. It is to the Republican party’s eternal shame that it allowed this to happen. But it doesn’t reflect on conservatism as a philosophy.

    Well, let’s be clear… conservative, libertarian, Republican, reactionary and right-winger are similar and are often used as synonyms, but they have tiny differences in meaning and so do their corresponding “isms”. You’re right, Bush doesn’t reflect on conservatism. I’d say it does reflect on [economic] libertarianism, though. And as for the rest, he sort of does or doesn’t depending on what those different meanings are, exactly.

    And I think this is part of why some left-of-center people get so hostile to John. He, like you, seems to see Bush as a fluke or a traitor or a waste of something that had such potential, or something. But personally, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, his style of government seems like an inevitable consequence of the “government is the problem” mentality that Reagan championed.

    To be clear here, of course there are plenty of things government can’t do and a lot more they shouldn’t do. And I’m not saying that it’s a logical consequence of that mentality and I don’t think Bush even believes it (it’s hard to tell one way or the other), only that in practice Bush is a likely result of it. And I know that belief in “government is the problem” isn’t as dogmatic or monolithic as I’ll make it sound.

    Now that I’ve got all that ass-covering out of the way, though, if you believe that government should always be the last resort and anything it does right is the exception rather than the rule… you get Bush.

    If government is the problem, then who cares about the candidates’ policies since either one would make things worse – you might was well vote for the country boy who looks like he’d be more fun in person. If government is the problem, then you’re stuck with incompetence, corruption and arrogance either way, so complaints about that are ignorant at the very least if not cynically partisan. If all politicians are either idiots or crooks, then how can you choose which would be worse?

    P.J. O’Rourke was a little bit off. He should have wrote, “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and therefore have a vested interest in making it so.”

  53. 53
    Easyliving says:

    Robert, you ignorant slut (just kidding, but I love that line).

    “Therefore, the question is whether the executive branch can warrantlessly search citizens. And the answer, backed up by roughly 200 years of case law, is a resounding no.”

    So, are you argueing that there are no exceptions to this? Don’t be that foolish. Think of them yourself. Then get a clue. You need to say what you mean, and mean what you say.

    As for your arguement, it’s simply small minded. The AG said the only appropriate thing for him to say for reasons that seem to be beyond your comprehension.

  54. 54
    fwiffo says:

    I think the problems with ideological labels, conservative or liberal is that each usually means two quite different things (if that makes any kind of sense). That is to say, I perceive two types of conservatism and two types of liberalism. And I mean that in a bit different way than just social and fiscal dimensions of ideology, or the fact that things get more complicated when you get down to individual issues.

    The first type of conservatism, represented here by John Cole and quite eloquently by D. Mason believes in limited government power and is most closely allied with libertarianism. The “conserve” part of conservatism applies to the desired limited nature of government. This is the type of conservatism traditionally associated with the Republican party and the reason why libertarian types have typically allied themselves with the GOP. It’s also extinct for all intents and purposes in actual politics even if some don’t yet admit it. Those that have will eviscerate the current gang in Washington with a savagery that no liberal could hope to match. I’ve heard the term paleocon used to refer to this group.

    The other type “conserves” and amplifies traditional (or percieved as traditional) power structures, traditional social structures, and trust in authority instead of trust in the individual. This is rightly called authoritarianism and is the predominant force in the Republican party today. The appeal to theocons is obvious. Their moral authority (God) is primary over individual liberty.

    The divisions in liberalism in this country are somewhat less obvious because it’s represented by the Democratic party, which is a center-left party, not the sort of leftist party (e.g. socialist) which you’d find in Europe.

    For many liberals, it’s “liberal” as in “liberty” as in “free.” These, like paleocons, lean toward libertarianism. They might believe that government can help out with that with social welfare, but generally think government should stay out of individuals’ affairs and personal choices. If this seems surprising, it’s important to note that liberals don’t generally perceive a corporation as a person, so they will favor things like environmental or consumer protection laws. An example of this type of liberal would be Howard Dean. I and many liberal bloggers tend to be part of this group.

    For the other type of liberal, it’s “liberal” as in “applied liberally”, as in “lots of” as in “big government.” A lot of the so-called “centrists” in the Democratic party are really this type of “liberalism.” Moralizers like Hillary Clinton and especially Joe Lieberman are this kind of “centrist.” They’re statists.

    The liberty-liberals are eventually going to be the dominant force in the Democratic party, but they aren’t there yet. I think it’s important for this to happen sooner rather than later if Democrats want to take advantage of the current insanity in Republicanland. If they play their cards right, Democrats can make a home for libertarian leaning types and disaffected paleocons while simultaneously exciting young people and the socially liberal “base.”

    Primarily, this means picking the perfect candidate for ’08.

    Russ Feingold.

  55. 55
    OCSteve says:

    Easyliving (I love that line too!) and fwiffo – good posts both. You make me think – which is why I come here. It is certainly not for the warm welcome and chocolate milk all around…

  56. 56
    Tulkinghorn says:

    What ever happened to the rumour that they had picked up a series of telephone calls between Clinton and Robert Rubin? Did that turn out to be mere speculation?

    I seem to remember Andrea Mitchell claiming this had happened when Christiane Amanpour’s phone was being monitered.

  57. 57
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    The relevant point, of course, remains that Bush continues to insist that he and he alone has an absolutely unlimited right to decide who to eavesdrop on, with no monitoring or restrictions whatsoever to make sure he isn’t spying on political opponents for reasons having absolutely no conceivable connection to national security — and that he rejects proposals from such notorious pro-Democratic pinkos as Richard Posner and Adm. Poindexter, that would resolve this problem completely while still expanding the Administration’s eavesdropping powers far beyond those of the current FISA rules to include anyone who might conceivably be suspected on reasonable grounds of having possible terrorist connections.

    Why, pray tell, is he rejecting ANY restrictions WHATSOEVER on who he can spy on, or any semi-independent judicial monitoring of who he’s spying on and what’s being recorded — which, Gonzales has now made clear, DOES include absolutely any phone conversation in the country? The only possible answers are that (1) he’s literally insanely stubborn for no reason, or (2) he IS using this power for illicit political purposes already.

  58. 58
    Sojourner says:

    The Republican party – the party of those who are afraid of what goes bump in the night.

  59. 59
    Krista says:

    fwiffo – that was an excellent post, and an excellent point.

  60. 60
    Darrell says:

    There is a solid argument for NSA warrantless monitoring of INTERNATIONAL communications to and from suspected foreign enemies. But purely domestic calls without a warrant? Now that is an entirely different matter. It looks pretty clear to me that this is nothing but a big govt. power grab, no matter how you slice it. I don’t see how this action can be defended or excused

  61. 61
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    I don’t either, Darrell. But in EITHER case, there are procedures that can be very easily followed — suggested by Richard Posner for plain phone calls, and by Admiral Poindexter for computerized data mining — that would greatly increase, beyond the current FISA rules the government’s ability to monitor the phone conversations of people who might be rationally suspected of conceivable terrorist connections, WITHOUT allowing the government to monitor any damn person it chooses and use the information it acquires however it chooses. So why isn’t Bush backing those?

    When one of the two chief convicted criminals in Iran-Contra comes off as a concerned civil libertarian by comparison with the current administration, you KNOW you’ve got trouble. I am now convinced that — just as in Watergate — there is very, very serious secret criminality involved in this government, beyond that suggested by the shrinking violets of the MSM just as they were extremely reluctant to suggest it could possibly be happening in the case of Nixon. (Keep in mind that the only regret Cheney has ever shown any sign of feeling about Watergate is that Nixon got caught.)

  62. 62

    […] In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda. “I’m not going to rule it out,” Gonzales said. […]

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  1. […] In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda. “I’m not going to rule it out,” Gonzales said. […]

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