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March 30, 2010

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Is a real good point, and important, as regards the roots of jihadism as a social movement. I wonder if the story is somewhat different, though, at the individual level? There's this interesting presentation to a Senate committee, which offers some empirical evidence that any individual young man joins up with a terrorist organization for much more personal reasons. "Entry into the jihadi brotherhood is from the bottom up: from alienated and marginalized youth seeking out companionship, esteem, and meaning, but also the thrill of action, sense of empowerment, and glory in fighting the world's most powerful nation and army." Not the same as hating our freedoms, of course, but not reducible to the geopolitics of US interventionism.

It may be the case today that Russia is more free than the United States.

Certainly in freedoms of speech and religion Russia respects freedom more than the United States.

The decadence-as-cause-for-terrorism explains perfectly why the 9/11 hijackers targeted the Playboy Mansion — a symbol of decadence — rather than symbols of commerce and interventionism like the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or White House.

Adam:

Thanks for that link. I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing, it's not very long, it is well-written, and the material is interesting.

One part on motivations struck me as particularly relevent:

Young people constantly see and discuss among themselves images of war and injustice against "our people," become morally outraged (especially if injustice resonates personally, which is more of a problem abroad than at home), and dream of a war for justice that gives their friendship cause.

Dr. Altran's statement certainly supports the idea that outrage about (perceived) injustices committed against Muslims by the U.S. and its allies (such as Israel and Egypt) is an important part (one part among several) of what fuels militant ideology.

Great points here. If the terrorists hated America because we let women drive and have legal porn, I wonder why they didn't attack, say, Sweden or Japan? Those popular cultures are even more libertine than America's.

What makes the US or the UK different from those other countries? Foreign policy, military intervention and the blind support of Israel. The longer the US fails to reckon with this fact, the more danger it is putting itself in.

Adam Henne makes a reasonable comment because people with the wherewithal to understand, organize, and plan tactical resistance i.e. terrorist act themselves, on a geo-political level - are only rarely going to sacrifice themselves directly. While the people with real life personal (or imagined) grievances are much more to ready to channel their anger into self sacrifice, when that channel offers a venue promising the biggest bang for the buck in terms of high profile publicity.

This is of course what FOX news and the Tea Party puppet masters do on a daily basis. Trolling for the personally disaffected with the promise of celebrity martyrdom.

It may be the case today that Russia is more free than the United States.
Certainly in freedoms of speech and religion Russia respects freedom more than the United States.

That really isn't true, Steve, and I've no idea why you would say it. In Russia, investigative journalists get thrown out of windows.

In Russia, investigative journalists get thrown out of windows.

Whereas in the US, investigative journalists are killed with neglect...

Look, the US's best investigative journalist, Greg Palast, had to move to the UK to work - because in the US, no one wanted to publish.

I don't agree literally with Steve's statement. But look at any one of the big, big stories of the past decade - the Florida election which Bush lost and Gore won but which was declared a victory for Bush, for example. When a handcount of all the ballots finally established - a month after 9/11 had happened on Bush's watch - that if all the votes had been counted according to Florida election law, Gore would have been the clear winner - not a single media outlet in the US published this.

For all your vaunted free press, no commercial media outlet in the US felt free to point out that the President who had just let the worst terrorist attack on US soil happen on his watch, wasn't even validly elected. The US is not a country that respects free speech, a free press, or even free elections: not when as big a story as that simply gets - unsaid.

How many commercial media outlets in the US were willing to say outright, when Cheney started touting Guantanamo Bay, that what the Bush administration was proposing to do with prisoners of war was illegal? (I can tell you, actually: none.)

Look at what happened to Eason Jordan and to Dan Rather, when they presumed to challenge the press bias against speaking the truth about the Iraq war or about Bush's desertion from the US military during the Vietnam war. The US is not a country that respects freedom of speech - not when investigative journalists are silenced because the US media industry has no use for them.

Whereas in the US, investigative journalists are killed with neglect...

Knight-Ridder and McClatchey are still pretty good, IMO.

Adam H,

That tracks nicely with Marc Sageman's work. It doesn't contradic this post, but refines the position.

As Sageman, and your cited piece informs, alienation is a key starting point (as is often a traumatic incident of bias, violence), followed by radicalization, etc.

But as elm indicated, US foreign policy plays a role. And there's a reason that, again, they're not attacking Sweden.

And as Anna suggests, there is something of a split between the leadership and the cannon fodder.

" In Russia, investigative journalists get thrown out of windows.

Whereas in the US, investigative journalists are killed with neglect...

Look, the US's best investigative journalist, Greg Palast, had to move to the UK to work - because in the US, no one wanted to publish."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia

The United States' mainstream media is extraordinarily - almost fatally - flawed. But: 'fatal', in the United States, is a metaphor. In Russia, not so much.

You're claiming that American journalists not being able to publish stories you deem important in the mainstream media, and so having to publish in lesser venues, is as bad as Russian journalists being beaten to death by cops. That Dan Rather being forced into retirement for relying on a faked memo is equivalent to Stanislav Yuryevich Markelov being gunned down while giving a news conference in the middle of Moscow. To be quite honest, I find that to be an offensive denigration of the victims of Russia's repression, as if the inconvenience of Western journalists is more important than the actual lives of non-Western journalists.

As for Steve's post: please define your interpretation of 'freedom', as the only way I can square your claim with reality is in an Orwellian sense (ie, that real religious freedom requires the freedom to oppress those not of your religion, etc).

Yesterday, the father of a fallen Marine was ordered to pay the court costs of Fred Phelps's band of idiots, who had picketed the Marine's funeral and gotten sued by the dad. Sounds pretty free-speechy to me.

Not to pile on, but the attempt to draw an equivalence was hyperbolic to say the least.

mad the swine: The United States' mainstream media is extraordinarily - almost fatally - flawed. But: 'fatal', in the United States, is a metaphor. In Russia, not so much.

US forces have killed 16 journalists in Iraq - so far: a large number comparable with other wars (the deadliest war for journalists before the Iraq war was Algeria, when between 1993 and 1996 58 journalists were killed) - but proportionally small compared to the total number of journalists killed in Iraq - 139. The Iraq war is now the single war that has killed the most journalists.

So, it is not just a metaphor. The US does kill journalists. But within the borders of the US, the fascist oligarchs who run your country do not need to kill journalists to prevent them from running stories damaging to those in power: they own the media and the stories simply don't get published. In that sense, there is more respect for free speech and a free press in Russia than in the US.

Talking about the US forces killing journalists was what cost Eason Jordan his career, as talking about the memos on Bush's failure to present himself for duty (which were "proved" fake much as Obama's birth certificate has been "proved" fake) was what cost Dan Rather his career.

not being able to publish stories you deem important

What, you think it's just a little matter of personal interest, when the President of the United States gets into power even though he was never actually able to win an election? No. That was a big, big story - and it never ran in the US, and no journalist needed to be killed for that suppression to work.

They're here because we're there.

the fascist oligarchs who run your country

I take exception to this comment.

The oligarchs who run this country are not fascists.

Jes, the theory you're proposing seems to be that:

In the US, oligarchs don't need to kill journalists because they own the media. Only 5% of published stories evade this censure (I made up a small and simplistic stat to illustrate)

In Russia, oligarchs do kill journalists a small fraction of the time but the rest of the time the Russian press is much freer than the U.S. press.

That just sounds contradictory; isn't the power to kill significant enough to also cover influence or veto ability? If the democratic and government institutions are weak enough to permit the murder of journalists, it seems unlikely that the press would manage to be free of mere financial influence. It's possible but I don't see you citing any proof. You cite many examples of U.S. journalism being constrained but without Russian examples with which to compare them, your analogy is untestable.

I don't think jes is actually making an argument about Russia; she's just maintaining the principle that any time someone says something nice about the US, however mild and relative, it must be met with overwhelming rhetorical force.

she's just maintaining the principle that any time someone says something nice about the US, however mild and relative, it must be met with overwhelming rhetorical force.

Indeed, I would consider "The USA: still more free than Russia" to not only be fairly accurate, but not even particularly complimentary to our self-vaunted exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, perhaps we can find common ground in the main gist of the post, which is that the "Islamists" don't hate America for its freedom. Either because terrorists target countries with little regard for their Freedom Index ranking, or because America doesn't have any freedom.

What, you think it's just a little matter of personal interest, when the President of the United States gets into power even though he was never actually able to win an election to prove that he was born in this country?

Fixed that for you.

(And Bush did win the 2004 election. Unless you want to argue that Diebold stole that one, too.)

And yes, 'they hate us for our freedoms' has always been a transparent lie.

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans. Since what they do is unarguably immoral in the extreme, all reasonable efforts and actions need to be taken by civil societies all over the world to put a stop to these uncivil acts. Same thing for the drug cartel killers. Making excuses for them won't cut it.

Making excuses for them won't cut it.

Oh, fucking come off it dude.

Meanwhile, perhaps we can find common ground in the main gist of the post, which is that the "Islamists" don't hate America for its freedom.

Agreed. Also that "freedom" is a poor synonym for "raunchy music videos," and vice versa.

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans.

Fine. Tell it to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Brett Stephens, and all the other purveyors of the "hate us for our freedoms" argument.

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans.

I kinda don't either, but if it was my direct responsibility to try to keep them from killing people, I would.

It'd be foolish not to do otherwise.

And I hope whatever insights I gained would be realistic and accurate, because people's lives would depend on it.

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans. Since what they do is unarguably immoral in the extreme, all reasonable efforts and actions need to be taken by civil societies all over the world to put a stop to these uncivil acts. Same thing for the drug cartel killers. Making excuses for them won't cut it.

My country started a war for no reason that ended up killing one million human beings. As far as I can tell, almost none of my countrymen really care about that. Most Americans don't seem to view Iraqis as human enough to bother caring about. Given that, I can't really work up too much outrage over Islamic radicals who have only managed to kill far fewer people. I look forward to reading the many excuses GoodOleBoy and friends will make for eliminating a million people. They'll probably be about as good as any excuse that an Islamist propaganda shop came up with.

Making excuses for them won't cut it

Why, were you making excuses for it GOB?

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans

My, my. Someone needs to read his Sun Tzu. Or any elementary text on either: conflict, generally speaking, or counterterrorism specifically.

This is basic GOB. Don't let your drive for ignorance endanger the rest of us.

... "freedom" is a poor synonym for "raunchy music videos" ...

Hmmmm. I don't know about that. I can imagine a society that's perfectly free and does NOT feature "raunchy music videos" or lesbian bondage strip clubs, but it would be a much smaller and more homogeneous society than our own.

--TP

I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world, not limited to Americans.

That is the most remarkably foolish thing I've read all day (and that's saying something!). Why in the world wouldn't you want to know, GOB? If animals were attacking your camp, you'd certainly want to know why, and do something to make them stop, right? But you are suggesting that other human beings are less scrutable, less sentient, than even animals. It's just weird, dude!

If you don't want to know why they're attacking, you almost deserve to be attacked, frankly.

GOB: I do not and will not waste my energy trying to discern or understand why the islamic radicals kill innocent people all over the world

Well, that's too bad. Because preventing them from continuing to murder people is going to require a root-and-branch effort to incapacitate not only individual attackers but also the organizations and supporters that provide logistical and training support, which requires understanding who they are and why they do what they do. It's also going to involve trying to understand the civil societies that these people are drawn from in order to understand why it is that they are susceptible. And yes, the outcome of that may be that we have to make some changes in behavior to avoid provoking responses we don't like.

There are times when morality is the right lens for solving a problem and times when it is not. If you just got stung by a bee, letting your moral outrage convince you to go beat that bee's nest with a big stick to punish them is probably not a good idea.

You guys don't get it. Knowing things and understanding things are for liberal homos like John Kerry and Barack HUSSEIN Obamafascist. Real men just shoot everything in sight, and God will know his own.

I just looked at Brett Stephens's piece and it's an unusually badly-written piece of crap -- even for a WSJ opinion column!

No less violent was Qutb's attitude toward Jews: "The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days [of Islamic history]," he wrote in the 1950s, "has raged to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and the means remain the same."

Needless to say, that passage was written long before Israel had "occupied" a single inch of Arab territory, unless one takes the view...

Indeed, it's hard to think of an event that occurred at around that time which may have inflamed Arab sentiments towards Israel.

Stephens continues:

It explains why jihadists remain aggrieved even after the U.S. addressed their previous casus belli by removing troops from Saudi Arabia

Stephens perhaps missed the fact that the U.S. removed soldiers from Saudi Arabia by moving them to a neighboring Arab country.

GOB,
I don't know why you choose to conflate 1)understanding the motives of terrorists and 2)viewing their acts as moral, or making excuses for them. Those are obviously distinct things- as a society, we put a lot of effort into understanding child abuse. Not because we condone or excuse it, but because we think that understanding it helps us *prevent* it.
Nor is it the case that trying to understand terrorism prevents us from working to stop attacks.

So has it actually been determined that the people who set off the subway bombs were in fact Chechens?

Tony P:
I can imagine a society that's perfectly free and does NOT feature "raunchy music videos" or lesbian bondage strip clubs, but it would be a much smaller and more homogeneous society than our own.

You must be a prophet--Iceland just banned strip clubs, although that is a move against freedom.

Good Old Boy's comment betrays a basic aversion among many on the right toward seeing the terrorists as actual human beings. They are "evil" and therefore inherently irrational and so trying to understand them or their motivation is ultimately a waste of time. If only people could understand there is no pure "good" or "evil" as such--only shades of grey.

When a handcount of all the ballots finally established - a month after 9/11 had happened on Bush's watch - that if all the votes had been counted according to Florida election law, Gore would have been the clear winner - not a single media outlet in the US published this.

Except for the New York Times, the Orlando Sentinel and the Washington Post. Really. Check the archives.

Julian: Jes, the theory you're proposing seems to be that:

Nope. The point I am making is that arguing that the US has more of a free press than Russia because the US only kills journalists in Iraq and only destroys journalistic careers in the US, is like arguing that the US is better than Russia because the US has a definite list of permitted torture techniques which was discussed in the White House, and Russia doesn't even say what its permitted torture techniques are.

mad the swine: (And Bush did win the 2004 election. Unless you want to argue that Diebold stole that one, too.)

The evidence for 2004, 2006, and 2008 is far more ambiguous than 2000, yes: all that's in is a suspicious series of events involving US Attorneys, rigged voting registrations, voting machines with nothing to prevent them being rigged, and a succession of elections that somehow delivered the Republican candidate even though the Democratic candidate won in the exit polling data. Amazing. (Plus a series of quite unbelievable arguments with Americans who one-and-all claimed that the US just couldn't afford to run national elections with the same rigor and accountability that all the other developed countries in the world somehow manage - the same kind of "negative US execptionalism" that is routinely claimed for why you can't have a decent healthcare system.)

ajay: Except for the New York Times, the Orlando Sentinel and the Washington Post. Really. Check the archives.

I was reading the New York Times and the Washington Post at the time and wondering why they weren't publishing the story that Gore had won and Bush had lost.

(Wasn't reading the Orlando Sentinel, I admit.)

Please, link to the news stories I missed from those outlets (or any other mainstream commercial outlet in the US) that said, unambiguously, October 2001: the votes have been counted and Gore won, Bush lost.

As best I can tell, Jes is right, at least in the way the story was reported. Here's a search of the NYT archives--

link


I clicked on a couple of the stories and the way they report it, Bush's victory was legitimate. See the analysis by Richard Berke, for instance, which starts out by saying that by the standards the Gore campaign wanted to use, Bush was the victor.

If there is any question of the legitimacy of Bush's victory, the NYT did its absolute best to bury it.

Turbulence -- 'My country started a war for no reason that ended up killing one million human beings. As far as I can tell, almost none of my countrymen really care about that. Most Americans don't seem to view Iraqis as human enough to bother caring about. Given that, I can't really work up too much outrage over Islamic radicals who have only managed to kill far fewer people. I look forward to reading the many excuses GoodOleBoy and friends will make for eliminating a million people. They'll probably be about as good as any excuse that an Islamist propaganda shop came up with.'

One reason Bush and Congress initiated formal conflict in Iraq is because they could. Now we have a major effort to lodge greater and broader power in Washington. How long will it take before Washington power is routinely committing similarly atrocious acts to its own citizens? Many call Bush, Cheney, et al, warmongers, but they are actually powermongers. And now we simply have a different team of powermongers.

The interests behind these two political teams is different, but make no mistake, neither serves the broad interests of individual Americans.

Many call Bush, Cheney, et al, warmongers, but they are actually powermongers. And now we simply have a different team of powermongers.

You're late, GOB...von already attempted the "if you squint really hard, providing health insurance to millions of people looks just like invading a foreign country for the hell of it" gambit. It didn't make sense when he said it, either.

But hey...so far in this thread you've offered us "Ignorance Is Strength" and now "War Is Peace." Two down, one to go...carry on, Comrade!

One reason Bush and Congress initiated formal conflict in Iraq is because they could. Now we have a major effort to lodge greater and broader power in Washington. How long will it take before Washington power is routinely committing similarly atrocious acts to its own citizens? Many call Bush, Cheney, et al, warmongers, but they are actually powermongers. And now we simply have a different team of powermongers.

So you've shown that you apply the same nuance and discerning eye to domestic politics as foreign policy.

Many call Bush, Cheney, et al, warmongers, but they are actually powermongers. And now we simply have a different team of powermongers.

Given my choice, I'll take the folks who are there now over the folks who just left.

YMMV.

One reason Bush and Congress initiated formal conflict in Iraq is because they could. Now we have a major effort to lodge greater and broader power in Washington. How long will it take before Washington power is routinely committing similarly atrocious acts to its own citizens?

Being able to do something isn't a reason for doing it, really. It's a requirement for doing it, but doesn't explain a lot in terms of motivation.
In general, you're critique seems to be "governments sometimes do bad things, so we shouldn't give them any power". The problem I have with that is that you can insert almost anything into the subject of that sentence and have it be true. And we do need power to be exercised in the world, as it does more good than harm overall.

And practically your critique doesn't make sense- the government is unlikely to commit mass atrocities on the voters, given our current political setup.

Given my choice, I'll take the folks who are there now over the folks who just left.

So would I.

Obama is a conservative, but that's better than a set of criminal fascists.

It's the difference between being p*ssed on and being made to eat sh*t.

GOB and Von may feel that both are disgusting, and so they are, but if those are your only two choices I would rather end up wet and a bit stinky for 8 years than spend 8 years having sh*t forced into my mouth and told to swallow. Obama is better than Bush. A low bar, but Obama passes it with ease.

It would be nice to hope your next President will be better than Obama, but given your electoral system, you're probably going to end up with worse-than-Bush.

It would be nice to hope your next President will be better than Obama, but given your electoral system, you're probably going to end up with worse-than-Bush.

If it gets worse than Bush, there will be more than teabaggers taking up arms.

If it gets worse than Bush, there will be more than teabaggers taking up arms.

...nah.

It's a nice fantasy Americans have, but no: in a country where the mass media do not have the nerve to report that the current President lost the election, or outright open lawbreaking by the administration, you will never see a mass uprising: remember Bush left office with a quarter of the population still convinced that he'd done a good job? Look what Bush got away with unhindered and approved, and consider that this will be the baseline for what the next Republican president will assume he can get away with unhindered.

Obama needed to reform the US electoral system to let the next President be better - and evidently, as a American conservative, he didn't see any need to improve US democracy to international standards.

I can imagine a society that's perfectly free and does NOT feature "raunchy music videos" or lesbian bondage strip clubs, but it would be a much smaller and more homogeneous society than our own.

God bless America,
Land that I love;
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with the "light from above."

If it gets worse than Bush, there will be more than teabaggers taking up arms.

...nah.

Now I have to side with Jesurgislac. By the time those of goodwill become alarmed enough to mobilize en masse, the ones who are already screaming about how winning majorities in Congress and Presidential elections is tyranny, and advocating "nullification" and violent resistance against a health insurance bill, will have had too much of a headstart. And I say that as a left-winger with a shotgun at home.

you will never see a mass uprising: remember Bush left office with a quarter of the population still convinced that he'd done a good job

I don't think that's the reason; it's the complacency of the 75%. I recall after Bush v Gore, an Eastern European friend of mine said as much- there, people would fill the streets. Here, we just say "dang it, that just aint right".
Sometimes I think that having a bill of rights was a mistake- it's so easy to pervert (eg Bush, wiretapping, and the 4th amendment), but the existence of the document preserves the fiction that the right hasn't been tampered with. As long as there's a fig leaf, it's hard to get people to take risks to preserve their rights and their democracy.

If another rightwinger like Bush, or worse, is elected, the teabaggers will simply declare victory and go home like they did in 2001. It's not tyranny when it's their guy.

Bush v Gore didn't threaten basic electoral stability. It was lame but it came about because of a very specific electoral circumstance, a key state election coming down to a few hundred votes. There wasn't really a threat to the basic democratic system.

mds: the ones who are already screaming about how winning majorities in Congress and Presidential elections is tyranny, and advocating "nullification" and violent resistance against a health insurance bill,will have had too much of a headstart

This is silly. The US government is the most heavily armed organization on the planet and is religiously devoted to its own preservation. It's not in danger from a few thousand teabaggers who can hardly get out of their mobility scooters. And the public well of sympathy for people who attack the US government is not exactly deep, look at the response to the OK City bombing. Actual anti-government violence, as opposed to flag-waving hints at it, does not sit well with the overwhelming majority of the population.

I don't think that's the reason; it's the complacency of the 75%.

I take back what I said about "taking up arms".

Carleton's right, if we end up with worse than Bush nobody will give a crap. Not enough to do anything concrete about it.

Look what Bush got away with unhindered and approved, and consider that this will be the baseline for what the next Republican president will assume he can get away with unhindered.

I blame Ford for pardoning Nixon. If Nixon had actually gone to prison for a few years, Cheney et. al. might have thought twice about what they did (in fact I'm almost sure of it, they are at bottom cowards). I should actually blame Ike for not forcing Nixon off his ticket instead of letting him give the damn Checkers speech.

Have no doubt, unless the Democrats hold the Presidency for at least twelve years, maybe 16, the next GOP presidential administration will be worse than Bush. Almost guaranteed.

And the public well of sympathy for people who attack the US government is not exactly deep, look at the response to the OK City bombing.

The dude who flew his plane into the IRS last month actually seemed to garner quite a bit of sympathy. And I get the feeling that people who are otherwise pretty much fine with the OK City bombing only condemn it because children and "civilians" were killed. $50 says one of our very own posters feels that way. (See if you can guess which one!)

This is silly. The US government is the most heavily armed organization on the planet and is religiously devoted to its own preservation. It's not in danger from a few thousand teabaggers who can hardly get out of their mobility scooters.

Um, there's a bit of a misunderstanding here. We're not talking about teabaggers overthrowing the current government by force. We're talking about russell's initial response to the likelihood that the next Republican president will be worse than Bush. Your argument about the power of the state is exactly the point; when the worse-than-Bush fellow wins through a combination of general apathy and the increasing frothing fanaticism of the Right, it will be far too late for "taking up arms."

And the public well of sympathy for people who attack the US government is not exactly deep

As Phil has already touched on, this is not a constant. Public condemnation of OK City was almost universal. The IRS building incident was met with Republican members of Congress expressing their empathy for the guy's understandable rage against the government. I for one am less than thrilled by the apparent trendline there.

Perhaps I was misreading. My point was that it's a fantasy on either side to imagine that violent resistance to the US government is possible (it's certainly not desirable). That boat sailed 150 years ago and we're better off for it.

This country has had "worse than Bush" a bunch of times already and survived. Bush was shocking in his rejection of certain modern norms, and in his outright incompetence and cronyism, but he wasn't History's Greatest Monster, and posed no threat to democratic control of the country. Nor will the next Republican idiot handed the reins. Democracy is a robust system.

but he wasn't History's Greatest Monster

Of course he wasn't. But that too is a fairly low bar to clear.

and posed no threat to democratic control of the country.

Bush personally? I doubt he had much to do with the successful attack on democracy in the US: his track record, both in business and in politics, is that of a man who's competent enough at being an attractive figurehead but don't give him the power to make executive decisions unless you want the company to go bankrupt. (Looks at US economy. Oh well.)

But Bush's administration absolutely posed a threat to democracy in the US, such as it is. That it wasn't until 2006 that the Bush administration found it necessary to sack six US Attorneys for - apparently - not being vicious enough in their attacks on Democratic candidates, is again a baseline for what the next Republican administration will do. Albert Gonzales was neither prosecuted nor impeached: he can be back in the next Republican administration, having learned from his mistakes about how not to get caught.

Democracy is a robust system.

You've never had a very robust democracy in the US, though.

" And I get the feeling that people who are otherwise pretty much fine with the OK City bombing only condemn it because children and "civilians" were killed. $50 says one of our very own posters feels that way. (See if you can guess which one!)"

Would it be a violation of the rules if I collected that myself? ;)

Seriously, I thought the OK bombing would have been aright if McVeigh had parked the truck in front of the building, left, and phoned in a message saying, "Check out that truck: The only reason you're alive is that we're better than you. Keep this up, and sooner or later we won't be." A bomb doesn't have to be detonated to be effective. In fact, that bomb would have been a lot more effective if it had never gone off.

No sense of effective theater, McVeigh. He was more eager to kill, than be effective. Just another murderer searching for a good excuse. In a just after life, he and Horiuchi would end up cell-mates in Hell.

"I clicked on a couple of the stories and the way they report it, Bush's victory was legitimate. See the analysis by Richard Berke, for instance, which starts out by saying that by the standards the Gore campaign wanted to use, Bush was the victor.

If there is any question of the legitimacy of Bush's victory, the NYT did its absolute best to bury it."

Wasn't much for them to bury. "Selected not elected" is the left's Birtherism. Everybody on the Court agreed that what the Florida Supreme court was doing was dubious, they just disagreed as to the remedy.

"Selected not elected" is the left's Birtherism.

Birther Brett will say anything to try and make Birtherism appear more reputable - even comparing it to the fact that Bush never won the 2000 election.

Sad really. I guess, mind you, now Bush is out of power, trying to tout the racist fantasy of Birtherism as equivalent to the fact of Bush's being appointed-not-elected may feel harmless enough... especially as Republican election-riggers no longer have to be as obvious as they were in Florida in 2000.

Both claims deserved their day in court. Yours got it. And lost. The Birthers were denied it. Which to some extent entitled them to suppose they might have won if they'd gotten it, as unlikely as I think that.

Why so angry about it? The election in Florida was below the level of the noise, the difference was less than the precision of the counting technology. Recounting was the equivalent of flipping a coin. All the Supreme court said was, "You can't keep flipping the coin over and over until you get an outcome you like, after telling people it's ok to weight the coin."

I think you're mad because the outcome in Florida didn't produce a national outcome the same as direct election would have produced. But even that's not true, in any real sense: Both Bush and Gore were running campaigns designed to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. If the popular vote had mattered, they both would have run different campaigns, and its entirely possible Bush would have won the popular vote, too.

It's the equivalent of playing golf, and getting mad because your guy should have won by the rules of baseball. Utterly irrational.

Brett, seriously, trying to drag up the Birther racist hysteria to the level of the real issues surrounding the Florida election in 2000, just demonstrates how much of a Birther you are.

Why so angry about it?

Because when Bush was appointed President in defiance of Floridan electoral law and the basic rule of democracy, this was not just an attack on the rule of democracy in the US (a purely parochial problem, I admit) - over the next eight years, at a conservative estimate, around two million people were killed who would have lived had the US election been run democratically. There's the Iraq war, of course, which is the big Bush death machine; there is the sound possibility that a Gore administration would have paid attention to all the clues available that a terrorist attack was planned in late 2001 and been able to prevent 9/11: if 9/11 doesn't happen then the war on Afghanistan doesn't happen: potentially, if the war on Afghanistan happens anyway: there are the thousands of women who died because Bush re-instituted the global gag rule in 2001: there are the thousands more - maybe millions! - who will die because the Bush administration removed funding from effective AIDS prevention work in some of the poorest countries in the world, in favor of "promoting abstinence".

Now to you, a pro-lifer, two million people dying may be something completely inconsiderable - indeed, for the thousands who died because of the global gag rule, you may feel they were better dead.

There's also those many people kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by the US - and the Bush administration's repeated twisting of international as well as US law to claim that these actions were justified.

Just on the human scale - we haven't even begun to touch on the environmental damage - Bush's appointment to the Presidency was an action that caused mass deaths all over the world. You wonder why I'm angry that US democracy failed in 2000?

Well, because, unlike you, human life and human rights are important to me. The overthrow of the democratic right of the US people to elect their President in 2000 was not merely a parochial matter, and the consequences of that action are still with us today.

My point was that it's a fantasy on either side to imagine that violent resistance to the US government is possible

I disagree with this.

It's a fantasy to think that private citizens could stand up an army that could prevail against the US military in open warfare.

There are many, many forms of resistance by force that fall between doing that, and doing nothing.

And IMO the feds would be as reluctant to push it all the way to open warfare as the citizenry would.

he wasn't History's Greatest Monster, and posed no threat to democratic control of the country.

Agreed, not history's greatest monster.

But taking his administration as a whole, most definitely a threat to democratic control of the country.

I thought the OK bombing would have been aright if McVeigh had parked the truck in front of the building, left, and phoned in a message

What is your opinion of the activities of Weather Underground?

"trying to drag up the Birther racist hysteria"

I really ought to ignore that comment from that point on, if you can't tell the difference between race and being a "natural born citizen", which members of every conceivable race can be, or not be, as the case might be.

In fact, I think I will.

potentially, if the war on Afghanistan happens anyway:

potentially, if the war on Afghanistan happens anyway: there is a chance a Gore administration would have worked to try and make Afghanistan better, rather than just trashing it and moving on to Iraq. (But past US treatment of Afghanistan is in line with Bush's actions.)

I really ought to ignore that comment from that point on, if you can't tell the difference between race and being a "natural born citizen", which members of every conceivable race can be, or not be, as the case might be.

Brett, do you really think there would be the same level of doubt about Obama's citizenship if his father had been a white Irishman named O'bama? I don't think that all birthers are racists, but I do think that Obama's race causes many to exaggerate their fears and give more credence to claims of "otherness" than they otherwise might.

Larv: I don't think that all birthers are racists

Really? Why?

Really? Why?

Because President Clinton wasn't "legitimately" the president to many of these same people, either. Sometimes you heard it justified with nonsense about Ross Perot and not winning an absolute majority of the popular vote (I know, I know), but what it came down to was that he's a Democrat, and since Saint Reagan, the White House is Republican property by divine right. If Secretary Clinton were President Clinton today, there would be people refusing to accept her legitimacy, too. So while a great many of the birthers, such as those who brandish witch-doctor posters, are racists because they can't accept the fact that a Negro with Kenyan ancestry is president, there's still a fraction that can't accept the fact that another Democrat is president, instead of the guy definitely born outside the US proper, and hence a natural-born citizen by retroactive statute rather than the Constitution.

Hence, not all birthers are racists. Some of them are faking it to continue whipping up their audience against the duly-elected Congress and Executive, and some of them are merely deranged conspiracy fantasists who hate anyone to the left of the John Birch Society.

mds: Because President Clinton wasn't "legitimately" the president to many of these same people, either.

But they didn't try to claim that a man named William Clinton couldn't possibly be a real American and must prove that he really had been born in the US in a court of law.

Sure, the nutty Republican opposition objected to his being President because he was a Democrat, and they object to Obama being President for the same reason.

But the Birthers are the very special racist subgroup: they don't just object to Obama being President, they literally can't believe that a black man named Barack Obama can be a natural-born American.

Hence, not all birthers are racists. Some of them are faking it

Possibly. That is, I can well believe that the smarter birthers are faking their disbelief that Obama isn't really American. But the distinction between "I'm a racist who believes Obama isn't really American" and "I'm only pretending to believe Obama isn't really American because I want the racist vote" is ... pretty fine.

A non-racist would, regardless of their views on Obama, not wish to exploit the racism inherent in claiming Obama's not American.

and some of them are merely deranged conspiracy fantasists who hate anyone to the left of the John Birch Society.

I don't think you can seriously make a claim that these d.c.f are not racists.

Jes,

There is certainly a contingent of the teabaggers that is truly racist. But there's also an element that so hates the idea of a Democratic president that they cast about for a reason to deny his legitimacy and birtherism just happens to be closest to hand. It's always easier to believe things one wants to be true, especially when you get twenty emails a day repeating the claim (I know several retired right-wingers who appear to spend most of their days forwarding various wingnut conspiracies to their entire email list). The fact that Obama's father was a black Kenyan makes it easier for them to believe implausible things about him, but I don't think it's necessarily racism.

"Brett, do you really think there would be the same level of doubt about Obama's citizenship if his father had been a white Irishman named O'bama? "

If the circumstances of his birth and early childhood were as bizarrely soap operaish, yeah.

Clinton was legitimately elected, and no doubt of his status as a natural born citizen. I suppose some complained about the Perot factor, (Perot made it onto a fair number of state ballots in defiance of ballot access laws, simply because Democratic elections officials correctly reasoned that he'd split the vote against Clinton. That's not illegal, though, just tricky.) but I never doubted he was President. A criminal, sure, who never took seriously his oath of office, (Or, obviously, any other oath he undertook.) but certainly President.

Frankly, if anybody should have been kept off the ballot for citizenship reasons, it was McCain. He wasn't a natural born citizen when he was born, and I don't really believe that's the sort of status somebody can be retroactively granted by a change in the law.

Really, you guys ought to drop the automatic charges of racism. It makes the boy who cried wolf look reliable, if the day comes when you're confronted with a real racist to complain about, nobody will listen.

Brett: I thought the OK bombing would have been aright if McVeigh had parked the truck in front of the building, left, and phoned in a message saying, "Check out that truck: The only reason you're alive is that we're better than you. Keep this up, and sooner or later we won't be." A bomb doesn't have to be detonated to be effective. In fact, that bomb would have been a lot more effective if it had never gone off.

See, here's the thing, it wouldn't have been any more effective, because people don't like being threatened with murder any more than they like being actually murdered. What would have been more effective is if McVeigh stuck to speaking and writing about his views. It probably wouldn't have made any difference, since his views were those of the extreme white-supremacist fringe and not very popular, but it would have been a lot more effective than any violence or threat of it.

And you're a smart guy, you understand this. If someone comes up behind you and puts a gun to your head because he doesn't like what you've been doing, when he tells you it's unloaded are you going to thoughtfully say, "Hmm, you make a good point, and I appreciate your restraint", or are you going to flip out and assume that anyone who is that much of an asshole has nothing worthwhile to say? You really want to tell me that threats of death make you listen carefully? Why do you think what is true for you is not true for everyone else? Empathy, man, it's not just for Deanna Troi...

In a democracy, violence and threats of violence are not only wrong, they're counterproductive. They actively discredit your position to a huge degree, because people quite reasonably ask why it is that in a functioning democracy you cannot just persuade enough people to come around to your viewpoint, if it's so reasonable.

As for the durability of American democracy, I dunno, I guess maybe living here under Bush for 8 years without being able to vote developed in me a certain faith in the resilience of the system. Yeah, they re-elected that idiot, but then they elected a Democratic House in 2006 and swept the board in '08... seems pretty functional to me. Bush's pissant tinkering with the DoJ was never a serious threat.

As for Florida, they should've actually just agreed to a coin flip. I guess hope springs eternal in both camps, but there was no way an election that close, with that many screwups in procedure, was ever going to be considered legitimate by the losing side. I didn't like losing, I thought the Supreme Court decision was garbage, but in the end it was settled through the constitutional means that were established. What we had to do, and did in '08, was get enough people out to vote that it wouldn't come down to a couple of hundred people in Florida.

people don't like being threatened with murder any more than they like being actually murdered.

Well, speaking for myself only, I prefer the threats to the real thing.

"Well, speaking for myself only, I prefer the threats to the real thing."

I agree with Eric, as usual.

Yeah, yeah, you know what I'm saying though.

:)

I've met very few Americans, left or right, with a mind as closed to any notion not already embraced as Jes. Most all attacks on disagreeing opinions resort to calling the disagreeable party a racist or a homophobe. So much for tolerance of legitimate ideas and opinions that differ from one's own.

'I don't think that's the reason; it's the complacency of the 75%.'


I do agree that there is a large segment, maybe 75%, many members of which are complacent, but not in the sense that I think may be meant here. The Left, well represented on this blog, and the Right, hardly represented here at all, make up some percentage of the electorate, maybe 25%, whose members have a coherent and consistent political philosophy. The other 75%, many of whom are active in electoral politics, are complacent in the sense that they don't bother to develop a coherent and consistent pattern to represent what they believe regarding the role of government and the rights of individuals. Many call themselves independents and many vacillate on political views from one election period to the next. Sometimes they are called moderates. They can throw expectations in political outcomes for a loop, sometimes.

And, of course, there is a portion of this 75% that is just plain complacent as in lazy or uncaring.

Jacob: that it wouldn't come down to a couple of hundred people in Florida.

It never did.

When all the ballots were counted - which is the normal democratic procedure - Bush had lost by thousands of votes.

The idea that an election can be decided by a coin-flip without bothering to count the votes is in no way democratic.

Larv: But there's also an element that so hates the idea of a Democratic president that they cast about for a reason to deny his legitimacy and birtherism just happens to be closest to hand.

Eh. I still think that's racist. Obama was born in the US of an American mother. The only way claiming he can't be legitimately American is "close to hand" is if you're racist enough to have it close to hand.

Brett: [McCain] wasn't a natural born citizen when he was born

Only if you claim McCain's illegitimate and his mom wasn't a US citizen. Are you saying he's a bastard child of a faker who only pretended to be from Iowa?

GOB: So much for tolerance of legitimate ideas and opinions that differ from one's own.

Why yes, I am intolerant of racism, sexism, and homophobia. FWIW, I'm also intolerant of war, torture, murder, religious bigotry, and Manchester United.

'Why yes, I am intolerant of racism, sexism, and homophobia. FWIW, I'm also intolerant of war, torture, murder, religious bigotry, and Manchester United.'

And as soon as you encounter a differing idea or opinion, you run for one of these labels. Is this just an animalistic reflex?

"In a democracy, violence and threats of violence are not only wrong, they're counterproductive."
From your mouth to the ears of the FBI, DEA, BATFE, DHS...

Down with war! Down with torture! Up City!

And as soon as you encounter a differing idea or opinion, you run for one of these labels.

Yeah, GOB, I'm having an animalistic reflex right now to call you a Manchester United supporter.

Seriously, I thought the OK bombing would have been aright if McVeigh had parked the truck in front of the building, left, and phoned in a message saying, "Check out that truck: The only reason you're alive is that we're better than you. Keep this up, and sooner or later we won't be."

So terrorism is great in principle, but it's best to start out with threats of terroristic violence.
Al Qaeda has the right tactics, but the wrong ideology.

Wasn't much for them to bury. "Selected not elected" is the left's Birtherism. Everybody on the Court agreed that what the Florida Supreme court was doing was dubious, they just disagreed as to the remedy.

7 of them thought that the recount as set out wasn't right. 5 of them thought that this was grounds to halt the recount and give the election to Bush, despite the lack of grounds in Florida law, Federal law, or the Constitution that would have required such a move.
So no, "everyone" on the USSC didn't agree. Only 5 of them thought that the need to put Bush in the White House trumped Florida law.

All the Supreme court said was, "You can't keep flipping the coin over and over until you get an outcome you like, after telling people it's ok to weight the coin."

This bears no relationship with the actual decision. So you think the conservative juctices were lying. At least we agree on that. And once we agree that they're lying, it's not a big jump to recognizing that the sort of results-based jurisprudence that lead to the Raich decision occurred here as well.

As for Florida, they should've actually just agreed to a coin flip. I guess hope springs eternal in both camps, but there was no way an election that close, with that many screwups in procedure, was ever going to be considered legitimate by the losing side. I didn't like losing, I thought the Supreme Court decision was garbage, but in the end it was settled through the constitutional means that were established

If they had followed the Constitution and had a state-by-state vote in the House, I wouldn't have minded at all. And I think Bush would've won that vote.
There are two problems with Bush v Gore: first, it damanged the USSC. Second, by their extraconstitutional methods, the court left the case as an open wound.
"Settled by Constitutional means"- only insofar as there's no check against the USSC 'interpreting' the Constitution to mean whatever they need it to mean.

Let's not forget- the 5-4 decision in Bush v Gore created a requirement for Florida to meet the Safe Harbor date, despite the lack of such a requirement in Florida law, Federal law, or the Constitution. It was a fabrication that served no purpose other than stopping the recount with Bush in the lead.
And I don't think there's a rational person who could look one in the eye and claim that Scalia, Thomas et al would've created such a monstrosity if Gore had been in the lead.

"If they had followed the Constitution and had a state-by-state vote in the House, I wouldn't have minded at all."

I will definitely agree with that: I don't think the Bush v Gore decision was unreasonable, but I do think that it wasn't the Court's to make; The Constitution does indeed set out a procedure for resolving such issues, and you've identified it. Had the Supreme court not acted, the Florida Supreme court would have sent one slate of Electors to the House, the state legislature would have sent another, (Assuming the recount changed anything, which it could only have done if rigged; Problem is the Florida supreme court deliberately left the door open to that happening.) and the House would have picked between them.

And Democrats would have been not one iota less enraged, if the House hadn't picked Gore.

"Only if you claim McCain's illegitimate and his mom wasn't a US citizen. Are you saying he's a bastard child of a faker who only pretended to be from Iowa? "

No, I'm saying that he wasn't born on US territory, at a time when the law said you had to be born on US territory to be a natural born citizen. The law was subsequently changed to include foreign born children of American citizens, with specific reference to Panama, a year after he was born, but I dispute that a change in the law can retroactively make you a "natural born citizen".

The issue in Obama's case is slightly different, but analogous: Whether he was born in Hawaii really does matter legally, because the LAW required, at the time, and in the case where only one of the parents was a US citizen, that said citizen "must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16." Obama's mother was only 18 at the time of his birth, which would obviously preclude her from meeting that criteria: Obama HAD to be born on US territory to be a natural born citizen.

I'm reasonably satisfied that he was, I just think the Birthers were entitled to their day in court, that the case shouldn't have been dismissed on BS "standing" grounds.

Carleton: only insofar as there's no check against the USSC 'interpreting' the Constitution to mean whatever they need it to mean.

But there is no such check.

Interpreting the constitution is within their power, and no higher authority exists.

I don't think it's a good idea to do it the way they did, and I thought the decision was garbage, as I said, but having the final say about the law of the land is what the Supreme Court is for. The constitutional forms were followed; the correct party (or "a" correct party; they could have declined to hear the case and that would have been valid too) made the decision. What would have been a real threat to democracy would have been either candidate refusing to accept the outcome of that case, or the decision being made by some other organ of the state (the military tends to be a popular choice, I hear).

It's too bad that the Supreme Court was willing to throw out sensible arguments in favor of a results-oriented approach, it argues strongly for finding better justices than the ones we had at the time, and unfortunately things have not gotten much better since, but strictly in terms of who made the decision, it went down the only way it could while remaining inside constitutional lines.

The decision sucked and the justices should be forever reviled for making it, that much we certainly agree on.

Many call themselves independents and many vacillate on political views from one election period to the next.

If you think that this number comprises anything even CLOSE to 75% of the electorate, or any appreciable percentage thereof, then you know even less about your fellow Americans than I would have believed possible. The independent swing voter is about as real as the unicorn.

I've met very few Americans, left or right, with a mind as closed to any notion not already embraced as Jes.

The irony, it burns.

So much for tolerance of legitimate ideas and opinions that differ from one's own.

Ah, the number one song on the hit parade of people who want to get away with saying something offensive without being called on it. Followed at #2 by "Liberals are the real racists" and #3, "I'm not homophobic because '-phobia' means 'fear' and I'm not afraid of gay people." Rounding out the hit parade are #4, "How come there's no WHITE history month?" and #5, "I don't care what gays do in their own bedrooms as long as they don't ram it down my throat."

I don't think it's a good idea to do it the way they did, and I thought the decision was garbage, as I said, but having the final say about the law of the land is what the Supreme Court is for.

First, judicial review isn't actually in the Constitution; it's one of those novelty add-ons. A tremendously useful one, I think, but one that doesn't have support in the text.
But that's trivial. The real issue I have is that this is similar to Bush's use of the CIC clause to basically justify any behavior that he wanted to commit. When any branch decides that it can hide omnipotence behind it's own clearly bogus interpretation of the Constitution, we are in trouble.
I think we fundamentally agree. But I find Bush v Gore like the fouls called by a bribed referee- I don't see the need to give them even notional respect as attempts to adhere to the rules or their judicial oath, even if there was no inquiry or impeachment.

And Democrats would have been not one iota less enraged, if the House hadn't picked Gore.

You can tell yourself that. Only, I just told you that I wouldn't have been... so Im either lying, or you're mistaken in at least one case.
Im sure there would've been a significant outcry that an indeterminate election with a clear winner in the (technically irrelevant) popular vote had been decided on (the inevitable) partisan basis. But 1)process is important 2)it leaves any backlash where it belongs, in the political branches, and 3)the overtly partisanship expressed by the court is itself the most disturbing factor in the entire situation. Losing a close election sucks, but it happens all the time. Losing an election because the court decided that it ought to make a choice based on it's own political preferences- that's downright *scary* for a democracy.
There were complaints in 2004 as well, about the statistical improbability of exit polling being as wrong as it was, about inner-city precincts having voting machines moves out & voters facing 6+ hour lines, etc. But those never gained any traction, because the (badly flawed) American system worked more or less as intended. 2004 was business as usual. 2000 was a naked power grab.
It's also caused a tremendous amount of damage to any bipartisan respect for the court and it's decisions. Revealing themselves as outcome-based partisans makes all of their decisions questionable. For example, do they really believe the line of reasoning in Citizens United, or do they merely recognize that this decision was good for their partisan purposes?

Finally, the Bush v Gore decision did halt the recount. This allowed the decision to be made without the knowledge of what that (Florida law-complaint) recount would've shown. That provided tremendous political cover for Bush; had the recount run to it's conclusion and found for Gore, even a GOP-leaning House might have felt compelled to elect him.

Assuming the recount changed anything, which it could only have done if rigged; Problem is the Florida supreme court deliberately left the door open to that happening

I don't know what you mean on either count- counts of overvotes showed Gore winning, and counting overvotes with clear intent (eg marking the oval for a candidate and then writing that candidates name in the blank for write-ins) was a distinct possibility before the count was halted. And the second part is totally nebulous- the FSC adhered to Florida law in having recounts by county-wide standards (and recall, they'd just recently been upbraided by the USSC for deviating from literally interpreting Florida law), but even there any ballot determinations challenged by the GOP would've been sent to a judge for final determination.

Brett: but I dispute that a change in the law can retroactively make you a "natural born citizen"

Yes, of course it can. The term "natural born citizen" means a citizen who never had to be naturalized. If McCain (or his parents on his behalf) had had to apply for US citizenship, he would not be a natural-born citizen.

Most natural-born US citizens are so jus solis, being born on the country’s soil, but you can equally be a natural-born citizen jus sanguinis, by right of your parents’ citizenship. McCain is natural-born jus sanguinis: Obama is both jus sanguinis and jus solis.

Nonsense claims that perhaps McCain's mother faked her Oklahoma birth certificate and she and his father weren't married would no more deserve their "day in court" than the nonsense claims that Obama's Hawaii birth certificate was faked. But you're a Birther, Brett, so I don't expect you to understand that...

"Finally, the Bush v Gore decision did halt the recount. This allowed the decision to be made without the knowledge of what that (Florida law-complaint) recount would've shown."

Wrong. The Florida supreme court's recount was NOT "Florida law-compliant". http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/sunstein/chapter1.html>Richard Epstein does a good job of explaining the points at which the Florida Supreme court deviated from state law.

For one thing, it incorporated the incomplete Dade county recount, when Florida law said that, if you recounted in a county, you had to recount the ENTIRE county.

"Yes, of course it can."

Jes, are you unaware that that is precisely the, as yet never adjudicated, question which a lawsuit concerning McCain's status as a "natural born citizen" would have had to settle? Or do you just not care? There is absolutely no controversy over the fact that McCain was not, for about a year after his birth, a "natural born citizen". He was, in fact, "naturalized", by an act of Congress.

Finally, a day in court is HOW we distinguish nonsense claims from real claims. If you say they don't get that day in court due to standing, you're saying to don't care whether the claims are real or nonsense, they're not entitled to be heard either way.

There is absolutely no controversy over the fact that McCain was not, for about a year after his birth, a "natural born citizen".

Brett, the notion that up until 1937, US citizens could not transmit their citizenship to their children jus sanguinis, is completely... bonkers.

Not that you may not be right - the US frequently is bonkers, and I suppose it would go to demonstrate how parochial and untraveled Americans tend to be, if it was not seen as necessary to have a law saying specifically that a US citizen automatically transmits his or her citizenship to their children until 1937. (That American men can only transmit their citizenship if they're married I did know: racism evidently trumps patriarchy.)

Still, though "it would be bonkers" doesn't mean you're not right, your history of being ignorantly uninformed does tend to militate against you. If you can find a cite that says explicitly US citizens born outside the US prior to 1937 don't count as natural-born citizens for the purpose of being POTUS or VPOTUS, I'll believe you.

Finally, a day in court is HOW we distinguish nonsense claims from real claims.

Nonsense. No "day in court" is required to prove that Americans landed on the moon, that Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States, or that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a popular TV show about a blonde girl who kills vampires.

People who claim that the moon landings were faked, that the Hawaiian birth announcements (and certificate) were faked, and that they can find Satanic messages by playing the Buffy episodes backwards and upside down, do not deserve their "day in court": they deserve their website on the Internet, and that only because it makes it easier to publicly mock them.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract-id=1157621>Why Senator John McCain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months and a Hundred Yards Short of Citizenship

Can't provide you the precise cite you want, because particular matter never went before a court, and never got decided. But the above legal paper relates the issues.

Brett, thanks for the cite: if three lawyers are of the opinion that in 1936 US citizens couldn't give birth to natural-born US citizens if they were outside the US, I guess it could be true. Bonkers, but true.

Then again, I suppose if McCain's lawyers (the two referenced in your cite) had made the simple and uncontestable argument that McCain's mother was a US citizen and all her children were therefore natural-born US citizens regardless of birthplace (or parentage), they would have been making a case against the silliest/most racist arguments of their own supporters, claiming that Obama's mother couldn't transmit her US citizenship to her son.

'So much for tolerance of legitimate ideas and opinions that differ from one's own.'

'Ah, the number one song on the hit parade of people who want to get away with saying something offensive without being called on it. Followed at #2 by "Liberals are the real racists" and #3, "I'm not homophobic because '-phobia' means 'fear' and I'm not afraid of gay people." Rounding out the hit parade are #4, "How come there's no WHITE history month?" and #5, "I don't care what gays do in their own bedrooms as long as they don't ram it down my throat."'

I take it that you, Phil, have no disagreement with my conclusion that Jes resorts to these labels when encountering a differing opinion. If this is not true, then why not say so?

Jes, for the record, I actually agree with you that the natural born citizen clause has little point to it anymore. It addresses concerns which were of some substance for a new nation, but became rather pointless within a space of decades. I'd be fine with it's repeal.

So what? If I get hauled into court for violating a law, does it do me any good to point out that the law is silly, pointless, doesn't do anything to advance it's stated aim, that we'd all be better off without it?

No.

Why should our lords and masters, the political class, get cut any slack? If they think I should obey their every whim, if they write it into law, they can damned well obey the law themselves, every bit of it, whether they agree with it or not.

If they want to have standing to demand we obey the laws that apply to us, they can damned well obey the laws that apply to them. No exceptions. No slack. Every last one, to the fullest extent.

Or stop getting up on their high horses if I say screw it, I'm not obeying that law, it's stupid.

Why should our lords and masters, the political class, get cut any slack? If they think I should obey their every whim, if they write it into law, they can damned well obey the law themselves, every bit of it, whether they agree with it or not.

And that would sound very fine, if you weren't saying it to justify your Birther fantasy that Barack Obama has somehow not yet "proved" he was born in Hawai'i.

Except that I don't entertain such a fantasy, I consider it highly unlikely. I just think that, if the Constitution and law require him to be born in the US, he should damned well have to prove it if anybody disputes it.

I couldn't be less interested in what you think of Jes, GOB, nor of what you think she thinks of you. Merely pointing out that "So much for tolerance!" is the battle cry of the guy who just farted but wants everyone to admit he smells like roses.

Why should our lords and masters, the political class, get cut any slack? If they think I should obey their every whim, if they write it into law, they can damned well obey the law themselves, every bit of it, whether they agree with it or not.

The problem with your thinking, here, is that you assume you are some objective free-thinker, floating around with no dog in the fight. While some would argue that you represent another political class, hoping to take back power. Your concerns over abuses of power are relative to the ruling class you appreciate over the political class you believe to be undeserved.

I lived in the u.K. in Europe and the U.S. i spend time in Africa, and the U.s. is the most media saturated environment I've encountered, moreover alternative voices such as Mother Jones, the Nation and yes even The National Review are heard everywhere.

Jesurgislac, you argue with conviction and vehemence against the existence of stories covered extensively in the media here, but which would be readily apparent only if you lived here. Your intelligence notwithstanding, you seem obsessed with America, but at the distance the belies a caricature version of the country and thus more of a manifestation of your own psychological demons.

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