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March 30, 2010

Comments

"Your concerns over abuses of power are relative to the ruling class you appreciate over the political class you believe to be undeserved."

Nah, I think everybody in the government should be forced to obey every bit of the law, regardless of whether they're on my side, (Ron Paul is the only example of THAT I can think of.) or not. I want the rule of law restored.

It might well be that my side would be less inconvenienced by this, aspiring to do less that's unconstitutional, but the Republican party as a body of officeholders is hardly obsessed with obeying the Constitution, and you might note that the guy I thought had REAL "natural born citizen" problems was, in fact, the Republican candidate.

" moreover alternative voices such as Mother Jones, the Nation and yes even The National Review are heard everywhere."

I have no idea what this means. Maybe it means that if you seek them out, you can find articles by out of the mainstream voices without any difficulty. That's true. Similarly, I don't doubt I could find plenty of articles on UFO conspiracy theories if I wished (and those really do appear on cable all the time).

The question is whether the ordinary person is given any good reason to think that out of mainstream political ideas need to be taken any more seriously than those cable TV shows about alien corpses being hidden away at military bases. I don't think so. I have a friend who thinks that "everyone" believed Saddam had WMD's and it was all a good faith mistake. He's not a conservative either, but a centrist.

Why shouldn't the average person presume that out of the mainstream political ideas don't need to be taken seriously? The burden to prove that one should be taken seriously is on the speaker, not the listener, and most out of the mainstream ideas are out of the mainstream for quite good reasons. If they're not, and not being actively suppressed, they should be able to struggle into the mainstream.

" I have a friend who thinks that "everyone" believed Saddam had WMD's and it was all a good faith mistake. He's not a conservative either, but a centrist."

That's certainly a bit of hyperbole on your friend's part, it was never "everybody". OTOH, given the definition of "WMD" used in the recent domestic terrorist raid, I think it's indisputable that Saddam had "WMDs". A remarkably elastic term, "Weapon of Mass Destruction". Practically useless.

Wrong. The Florida supreme court's recount was NOT "Florida law-compliant". Richard Epstein does a good job of explaining the points at which the Florida Supreme court deviated from state law.

Epstein's analysis is totally unconvincing on several levels. He chooses to consider his own interpretations to be definitive, when such a position is clearly unsupportable on the text. For example, he chooses to interpret the "challenge" part of the election process as "comtemplat[ing] a judicial trial, not an administrative action". This has no support in the text itself, and is flatly contradictd by the directive to refer the matter to a circuit judge- not to sit over a trial, but to "fashion such orders as he or she deems necessary to ensure that each allegation in the complaint is investigated, examined, or checked, to prevent or correct any alleged wrong, and to provide any relief appropriate under such circumstances." Like the USSC in Bush v Gore, he's satisfied to undercover an unstated, speculative "comtemplation" in the statue and then have it enforced as if it existed as black-letter law.

The rest is similarly unpersuasive- and the clear preference is for state courts' interpretation to be accepted unless they are *actually* unreasonable, not merely baselessly called such.

Of course, the Florida Supreme Court was bending over backwards to stick with the law, after the USSC reprimanded them for innovating over the certification issue (which Epstein weirdly conflates with the decision under discussion, as if they were the same matter). This is why the USSC chose an Equal Protection argument- in reality, the Florida Court could not possibly comply with both a speculative reading of state law and a novel, expansive reading of the Equal Protection Clause.
The USSC was guaranteed to have grounds to object to the recount, one way or another. And, again, given that we basically know that they violated their judicial oaths and would not have made such a ruling for Gore, it's clear that the case was always going to be a decision for Bush- it was just a matter of manufacturing the grounds.
[Interestingly, Bush failed to get cert for exactly the same Equal Protection argument during the certification process; apparently this argument only became 'ripe' when it could be used in conjunction with the Safe Harbor to end the recount. That is, even the USSC recognized it as a truckload of BS.]

And it's worth noting that Epstein fails to even try to defend the Safe Harbor issue, even though that is the critical point that allowed the USSC to halt any recount. By ignoring this blatant falsehood upon which the entire decision was based, he pretends to have saved the reputation of the court. But only pretends.

"The burden to prove that one should be taken seriously is on the speaker, not the listener, and most out of the mainstream ideas are out of the mainstream for quite good reasons."

That's true--it's also true that many mainstream ideas are in the mainstream for quite bad reasons, not because they deserve to be taken seriously. The idea that Saddam was a major threat to anyone outside Iraq was silly, but mainstream.

"OTOH, given the definition of "WMD" used in the recent domestic terrorist raid, I think it's indisputable that Saddam had "WMDs". A remarkably elastic term, "Weapon of Mass Destruction". Practically useless."

That's true too, but the hysteria over terrorists (of whatever sort) and WMD's is part of conventional, ahem, mainstream thinking.

" The idea that Saddam was a major threat to anyone outside Iraq was silly, but mainstream."

I think you might have trouble convincing anybody in Kuwait or Iran of that.

Yes, Brett, there was certainly a grave threat of another Kuwaiti invasion in 2002-2003. The previous attempt (which Saddam apparently had thought had the tacit blessing of the US) had gone so well for him. And of course we invaded Iraq to protect Iran--why, yes, I remember people constantly beating the drums about our need to save the Iranian regime from the threat posed by Saddam, who had obviously spent the entire decade of the 90's under sanctions preparing for another 8 year war with that country.

Fairly stupid snark, Brett.

I think you might have trouble convincing anybody in Kuwait or Iran of that.

If threatening-Iran is the new metric we use for justifying invasions, does that mean we can invade Israel now? Mind you, I'm still unclear on why we should sacrifice the life of a single American soldier to defend the corrupt dictatorship that is Kuwait....

It's nice to see Brett sympathizing with various Arab states, though. I didn't think he had it in him...

I think you might have trouble convincing anybody in Kuwait or Iran of that.

Actually, the Kuwaitis opposed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

And I know this how? Well, because it was in the news in 2002. Mainstream in the UK, I guess not-mainstream in the US.

In fact, not one of Iraq's neighbor states supported the US invasion. They all knew it would end in disaster, and they knew they'd have to deal with the fallout, while the US could just pack up and walk away.

But that's not really surprising. When the US was looking around for supporters for their stupid war, they found that basically they had: Tony Blair, and his coterie at Downing Street, who ended up lying to Parliament to get Labour MPs to vote for the war (while two million Brits were marching in the biggest mass protest the UK has ever mustered against that war), and... Poland.

Check the map, Brett: Poland is not a neighbor state of Iraq. It is a country run by a right-wing religious government, in sympathy with the US religious nutcases over their views on LGBT rights and women's access to abortion - a new member of the EU that's politically out-of-step with a lot of EU policies.

Well, yeah, the neighboring states really preferred that we just tie down our military keeping Saddam in check for the rest of eternity, rather than having a hot war on their borders for a while. Quite understandable.

That doesn't mean Saddam wasn't a threat to his neighbors. Merely that he was a threat we were holding in check. Which is rather blatantly NOT the same as not being a threat.

And maybe maintaining the status quo was preferable to attempting a permanent fix. Assuming we COULD have just gone on doing that. The problem was that international support for the sanctions was eroding, in no small part due to Saddam using oil funds to buy off international leaders.

But, yeah, maybe we would have been better off just pulling out when Saddam bought enough votes at the UN, and then coming back the next time he invaded a neighbor. You can make that case.

You just can't make the case that he wasn't a threat to his neighbors. He certainly was.

Well, yeah, the neighboring states really preferred that we just tie down our military keeping Saddam in check for the rest of eternity

....yes, because the US military was so much more tied down in Iraq in 2002 than it is today in 2010.

Brett, do you actually ever pay attention to any news at all? Like, ever? This kind of elaborate ignorance about the state of the US military today would seem to require special powers to maintain.

In 2002, Saddam Hussein was not perceived as a threat by his neighbors or by anyone else in the world except for the Americans who got their news solely and exclusively from Fox or from President Bush's speeches lying about how Saddam was linked to al-Qaeda and was responsible from 9/11. I guess that would be you, if you're vaguely under the impression that in 2002 the US military was tied up maintaining pointlessly lethal sanctions but in 2010 it's totally free to act anywhere in the world the US feels like.

I think it's fair to say that Saddam circa 2003 was no threat, whatsoever, to the United States.

The thought that Saddam would invade a neighbor again after the Kuwait experience is ridiculous. After Kuwait, his military was severely degraded. Further, Iraq was also struggling economically.

In other words, with an impaired military, and a struggling economy, Saddam wasn't in any position to invade anyone. He was doing his best just to stay in power.

Given that, even if he somehow built Iraq back into a position to attempt conquest, he knew, after his Kuwait experience, that any such aggressive act would have result in similar destruction of his military capacity and economic condition.

He was more interested in bluffing off his neighbors out of fear that they would invade his country, rather than the other way around.

The counternarrative is well-received propaganda.

Now that it's 2010, I'd say it's safe to assume that Brett is not open to persuasion on the (lack of) need to remove Saddam. So there are two flat learning curves involved: Brett's and that of those who keep trying to convince him. (I allow for the possiblity that the latter group is a null set, at least here, given that the responses to Brett on this blog may be simple refutations and not attempts to convince or persuade.)

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