Dershowitz on Waterboarding: Interesting Perspective

I read an interesting and sensible ARTICLE about the legality of enhanced interrogation techniques, particularly waterboarding, by none other than Alan Dershowitz. The following quote particularly caught my attention:

“This brings us to waterboarding. Michael Mukasey, whose confirmation as attorney general now seems assured, is absolutely correct, as a matter of constitutional law, that the issue of “waterboarding” cannot be decided in the abstract. Under prevailing precedents–some of which I disagree with–the court must examine the nature of the governmental interest at stake, and the degree to which the government actions at issue shock the conscience, and then decide on a case-by-case basis. In several cases involving actions at least as severe as waterboarding, courts have found no violations of due process.

The members of the judiciary committee who voted against Judge Mukasey, because of his unwillingness to support an absolute prohibition on waterboarding and all other forms of torture, should be asked the direct question: Would you authorize the use of waterboarding, or other non-lethal forms of torture, if you believed that it was the only possible way of saving the lives of hundreds of Americans in a situation of the kind faced by Israeli authorities on the eve of Yom Kippur? Would you want your president to authorize extraordinary means of interrogation in such a situation? If so, what means? If not, would you be prepared to accept responsibility for the preventable deaths of hundreds of Americans? “

Are any liberals going to question Dershowtiz’ left wing credentials? Arey the going to accuse the emminent professor of being “ignorant.?”Are they going to boil down “torture” to some easy definition in their desire to “get” the Bush Administration?

Lastly, if the Democrats were voting against Mukasey during his confirmation hearings in 2007 because he refused to prohibit waterboarding, are they still going to claim they had no idea waterboarding was going on?  Why the questions of Mukasey on this issue? Hmmmm….I’ll answer that:  because they are quite simply politically expedient, pathological liars.

 What a sad chapter in our history, and for intellectual honesty.

In a time of war is waterboarding terror suspects illegal as a matter of law?
(polls)

Advertisements

31 Comments

Filed under Cheney, Obama, Politics, Presidency, Torture, waterboarding

31 responses to “Dershowitz on Waterboarding: Interesting Perspective

  1. Pingback: Twitted by sparkyholden

  2. Pingback: Dershowitz on Waterboarding: Interesting Perspective

  3. Jack

    It appears that you see this issue as a left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, Democratic vs. Republican question. It is far less complex, far less nuanced. It is about right versus wrong. Torture is wrong, morally and ethically. Republican leaders who empowered it were wrong to do so. Democratic politicians who learned of it and did not stop it were wrong not to. Operatives who obeyed orders to implement policies they felt were torture were wrong not to risk their positions by refusing to engage in it. Doctors and psychologists who facilitated the practices were wrong to do so.

    Additionally, it is illegal. We are a nation of laws, in which no one is above the law. Persons suspected of promulgating or practicing torture should be brought to justice, where their guilt or innocence will be determined by juries of their peers.

    Of the President’s sworn duties, the Constitution of The United States says, he must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That means he must see that justice be done, regardless of other considerations, such as the expediency of foiling a plot that might lead to the deaths of innocents, such as Mr. Dershowitz posits hypothetically. If such a circumstance were to arise, the morally proper thing would be for an interrogator, who believed that torture would save the lives of others, might then inflict the torture and extract whatever information it yielded. After having committed the crime of torture, the individual interrogator, having acted on his/her own responsibility, could then take responsibility and confess to having broken the law, leaving it —properly— for a jury to determine their fate. And act of such self-sacrifice would be proper.

    • sparkyholden

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. However, something may be wrong or right in your opinion, or in many people’s opinion. However, when we are talking about prosecuting people it doesn’t matter what you or I think is “wrong.” It is what the law says. Various laws do say torture is illegal. However, what is torture is very very nuanced. Dershowitz, in one part talks about a hypothetical, but he also talks about the present state of the law in which he indicates that precedents have held that actions harsher than waterboarding were held not to be torture. Until people are willing to admit this, in my opinion, it does come down to a left v right issue, etc. It sounds nice to say “right” and “wrong”, one mans face slap of a detainee may be another’s equivalent of cutting of someone’s head. This is why we have laws. So when you say “additional its illegal” is wholly inaccurate if you are speaking of waterboarding. That is your opinion and you entitled to it. As Dershowtiz’ reference to legal precedent indicates, I must take the position that to make that statement you are “wrong.” Anyway, thanks for the sane and well reasoned response, which is the first I have had in a long time.

      • Jack

        Sparky, when I say that waterboarding is illegal, my “opinion” is based upon legal precedent. In 1901, an Army major was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor when found guilty of the criminal act of waterboarding a Phillippino insurgent. Similarly, in 1968, a U.S. soldier who had been photographed assisting in the waterboarding of a North Vietnamese prisoner was court-martialed in a military court and “drummed out of the Army,” according to a college professor named Darius Rejali. After World War II, Japanese officers who inflicted waterboarding were prosecuted as war criminals by the United States. The legal charges raised against him included:

        Specification 5. That between 1 April, 1943 and 31 December, 1943, the accused Yukio Asano, did, willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture John Henry Burton, an American Prisoner of War, by beating him; and by fastening him head downward on a stretcher and forcing water into his nose.

        (Thus, in an American court, was waterboarding cited as a crime of mistreatment and torture.)

        In an international court, Japanese who committed waterboarding were executed for it.

        If there are legal precedents which show that waterboarding is not illegal, could you please share them here with us, so we can inform and amend our “opinions?”

      • sparkyholden

        My first response is that the “specification” language indicates it was probably in a Military Tribunal, as was the Viet Nam example you give; Liberals wouldn’t accept that these suspected terrorists would be tried in Military Tribunals as they are notriously unfair, therefore to follow their lead, I can’t give those the full precedent you think they are entitled to. Did you spend the time to go and research that on your own? Have you been reading Paul Begala again? Cmon Jack, pry the talking points from your hands and think for yourself with some objectivity. I would cite the U.S. Code on torture which requires that the specific intent of the party committing the act must have been to inflict severe injury but the U.S.C. (United States Code) is too long to put in this response. Suffice it to say, its not as easy as you make it from your talking points. And in your example, to further show its non analagous nature, were doctors there? was the soldier held down for, um how much time? Did the soldier have evidence of an impending attack, or was it just for the “fun” and vengeance of his captor? It doesn’t say…hmmmm Aww thats irrelevant right? Actually under the law its not. If only you and your ilk were so outraged, researching cases, writing on blogs, when any of America’s enemies torture us, or were as concerned about the Constitution and due process when it applies to the Bush Administration or anyone that served under it I would understand that you are merely a quasi intellectual interested in the issue. However, absent any intellectual consistency, I can read between the lines as to what it is, and you know what it is too. I am still searching the internet for the multitude of posts by you of outrage at evidence Sadaam Hussein had systematically tortured his population, did you use the same username because I can’t find any…

  4. Jack

    By your reply, I take it that you can’t find any legal precedent to support waterboarding as a legitimate, lawful method of treating a prisoner, then? Okay, why didn’t you just say so! You seem to assume that I am a liberal when you refer to me and “my ilk,” and presume that I was not outraged when any American soldiers were tortured by “our enemies.” First, that is flat wrong. More importantly, if you believe that our waterboarding detainees is an ethically acceptable method of treating an enemy, then I guess that means you’d be okay with an enemy nation doing the same thing to our soldiers, right? It would be acceptable to you if our enemies captured Americans, then held them in secret prisons, subjected them to stress positions, naked, deprived of sleep for 11 days, shackled to the floor, dashed against a wall (but with a towel around their necks to prevent whiplash), kept in boxes in cramped positions in which insects were introduced? You’d consider that to be okay treatment of American soldiers?

    Second, you wonder if I had been outraged at “evidence that Sadaam Hussein had systematically tortured his population.” Please reread my first post, wherein I state that torture is morally wrong. That means it doesn’t matter who commits the act, they are wrong to do so. So, naturally, I was morally outraged at the acts of torture committed by Sadaam Hussein, as I was outraged at the tortures his two wretched sons committed. In fact, it was precisely because he was a torturer that we despised Sadaam Hussein and believed him to be our moral inferior. For us to engage in the same behaviors as someone like Sadaam Hussein reduces us to his level.

    The definition of torture that depends upon the “intent” of the person inflicting it is absurd. It would hardly matter to a young American soldier who was being subjected to waterboarding six times a day for a month that his handler’s intention was to get information for his nation. It is the effect of that treatment upon the soldier that constitutes torture.

    • As to your allegation about precedent I have not researched the precedent referred to in Mr. Dershowitz’ article but I presume he was not making things up. His statements were very clear and unambigous. I found that article on my own, which had no perversion by the present debate. And I assume, since you didn’t refute my point you got yours from Paul Begala and some of the talking point articles? Remember the questions I asked about the the circumstances of the torture, and the intent of same, and that matters under the law….no response. Did you read the actually circumstances and case of the incident you cite?

      And I do intend to research those precedents when I have time…actually the legal cases themselves…not Paul Begala or the Huffington Post..presumably the results of your deep research. Other biased agenda people “interpreting” for you past precedents.

      But, to further advance an unrefuted point I raised, I think perhaps we should try anyone accused of torturing our enemy should be tried in an American Military Tribunal, don’t you? As well as the alleged terrorists? I hope you agree with this as that is the precedents you cite.
      And actually as to the “specific intent” issue which you call ridiculous? I am really really sorry to disappoint you again, but um its the law of torture as reflected in the U.S. Code. I know it doesn’t suit your purposes..but um again, I actually read the law and not Paul Begala’s interpretation of it, or better yet, Nancy “I don’t remember yesterday” Pelosi’s interpretation. If you want the cite to the code section I have to look it up again..but for you and your education I will do it. I don’t suppose it will change your mind because you said “specific intent” was ridiculous even without reading the section of the law…incidentally I think we should use other precedents from WWII, since you raise cases from it as worthy of precedent: since suspected terrorists are not of any specific nation, a recognized military force of nation under a declaration of war, are not dressed in uniform to be recognized as being from a specific country, they are to be treated legally as spies and summarily shot….you agree with that part of the law of World War II?

    • Lastly, this argument about how U.S. Soldiers would be treated and what I, or the country would object to, is of no moment. The people we are facing do not follow a single law or “Convention” of law, therefore that argument is really moot. Neither will our giving these people warm baths and cookies change the way our enemies treat our soldiers. You can’t be using that as an argument or be that naive, are you?

    • Here is the specific intent part of the statute, also look at this http://gulcfac.typepad.com/georgetown_university_law/2006/09/common_article_.html

      I guess my point is that it is not as simple as those who would like to “get” Bush make it. It is a complicated issue. As a final question, what would you consider acceptable behavior to get info from enemies? Give me some examples. Torture is not as simple as something you or I may consider harsh, immoral. These are enemies caught on the battlefield and we are sitting on our couch theorizing. Give me some examples of how you would get intelligence morally?

      Sec. 2340. Definitions

      -STATUTE-
      As used in this chapter –
      (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under
      the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical
      or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering
      incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his
      custody or physical control;
      (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged
      mental harm caused by or resulting from –
      (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of
      severe physical pain or suffering;
      (B) the administration or application, or threatened
      administration or application, of mind-altering substances or
      other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or
      the personality;
      (C) the threat of imminent death; or
      (D) the threat that another person will imminently be
      subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the
      administration or application of mind-altering substances or
      other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or
      personality; and

  5. Jack

    Specific questions, asking for specific answers:

    “By your reply, I take it that you can’t find any legal precedent to support waterboarding as a legitimate, lawful method of treating a prisoner, then? ”

    Do you know of any legal precedent, whether from civil or criminal court, or a military court, to support the use of waterboarding?

    • sparkyholden

      I answered that specifically, saying that Dershowitz said there were specific precedents holding that techniques HARSHER than waterboarding were held not to be torture. I also acknowledged that I had not looked them up specifically. This was a non partisan article by a law professor so I think it hold a little more credibility than your Huffington Posts regurgitations, and as I proved I read the actual statute, and articles relating thereto, from law people, prior to the present perverted debate.

      Specific questions calling for Specific Answers:
      Do you acknowledge the specific intent element of torture? No answer
      Did you read the United States Code and the article on Specific Intent? No answer
      In the cases you cite how long was the persons head held under water, how often was it done, what were the circumstances, e.g. merely vengeance, was a doctor present? No answer
      Do you favor trial of suspected terrorists by Military Tribunals since you used Tribinals for your precedent? No answer
      Did you ever read any of the specific law, like I did and cited to you, or did you just read Paul Begala? No answer
      Do you think under the laws of war since terrorists wear no uniform, do not identify themselves or country they belong to, should be summarily shot or hanged, instead of waterboarding? Would you prefer that? No answer
      What specific techniques would you find acceptable to interrogate battlefield enemies (not people stopped for a drug arrest in your city) to obtain information from them? No answer.
      Hmmm….ok your cute response, even though I had given an honest answer if you had cared to read, has tried my patience. Especially in light of the above litany of questions I asked in my response that you didn’t answer.

      • Jack

        The reason why I didn’t respond to those questions is because I had to get dressed to go to a dinner party. I only had a short amount of time to reply, so I replied to as many as time allowed. So, here we go:

        * “Do you acknowledge the specific intent element of torture?”

        Yes, I do now, because I recognize that I was in error before. There is a difference between something that is “immoral” and something that is “criminal.” After reading your words on the subject, I recognized that intention is an important part of the law. From the point of view of the victim, it doesn’t matter whether someone killed him by accident or killed him in violent anger— he’s dead either way. But from a legal point of view, there is a very big difference: one circumstance may be the crime of “murder”, while the other is merely an unfortunate accident. They are distinguished by what the actor’s intention was. The legal concept is that “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty”, and is referred to as “mens rea.” As you pointed out, for an act to be considered torture, under U. S. law, the intention is as stated below:

        ““(A) TORTURE.—The act of a person who commits, or conspires or
        attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical
        or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to
        lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical
        control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession,
        punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination
        of any kind.”

        Note that there is a difference between “intention” and “purpose”. The purpose of military and privately contracted interrogators was to “obtain information.” What remains to be determined was whether their intention was to “inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering”. It is obvious that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” were meant to inflict pain or suffering. To be dashed against a wall would hurt. The question is, would the amount of pain rise to the level of “torture” as defined by the law. Physical pain would result from being hung by the arms, shackled to a beam overhead for hours, or from being kept in a cramped box. Mental pain would result from being waterboarded, a technique whose purpose is to cause the subject to perceive that they were in imminent peril of death by drowning. It may be argued that repeated waterboardings, combined with the cumulative effects of the other outrages upon the subject’s mind and body, would rise to the level of “severe mental pain or suffering.” Bush’s lawyers had one opinion of that. The final word should be arrived at properly, in a court of law.

        To continue:

        “Did you read the United States Code and the article on Specific Intent?” Yes.

        “In the cases you cite how long was the persons head held under water, how often was it done, what were the circumstances, e.g. merely vengeance, was a doctor present?”

        I don’t know. I only know it was sufficient for justice to have been meted out to the perpetrators. I find the presence of a doctor to be morally ridiculous, given that a doctor’s oath is “PRIMO NON NOCERE”, meaning “Above all, do no harm.” To facilitate pain and suffering, even if not ~severe~ pain and suffering, is inconsistent with the Hippocratic Oath.

        “Do you favor trial of suspected terrorists by Military Tribunals since you used Tribinals for your precedent?” Yes, I favor military tribunals where defendants have the legal rights of Common Law, i.e., the right to counsel, the right to see and contest the evidence against them, etc.

        “Did you ever read any of the specific law, like I did and cited to you, or did you just read Paul Begala?”

        No, I read the specific law. And just to clear something up, I have not read anything at Huffington Post on this subject, nor do I even know who Paul Begala is. And since you seem convinced that I am a liberal Democrat, I may inform you that I am a conservative Republican.

        “Do you think under the laws of war since terrorists wear no uniform, do not identify themselves or country they belong to, should be summarily shot or hanged, instead of waterboarding? Would you prefer that?”

        No. The laws of war don’t apply to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers. Their acts constitute crimes and should be addressed as such. In a country occupied by an invading army, civilians who fight back are not soldiers, they are militants. In particular, the laws of war don’t apply to Iraq or Afghanistan because the United States of America never declared war on these countries, so –legally– we are not at war in either place.

        “What specific techniques would you find acceptable to interrogate battlefield enemies (not people stopped for a drug arrest in your city) to obtain information from them? ”

        It is my understanding that the only information we have a legal right to in interrogating battlefield enemies is to ask their name, rank, and serial number.

  6. Jack

    “My first response is that the “specification” language indicates it was probably in a Military Tribunal, as was the Viet Nam example you give; Liberals wouldn’t accept that these suspected terrorists would be tried in Military Tribunals as they are notriously unfair, therefore to follow their lead, I can’t give those the full precedent you think they are entitled to.”

    I’m not sure I understand what you are saying here. Are you saying that you “can’t give those (i.e., legal precedents)” because they would be found in military legal journals?

    • Jack,

      I think you are one of the first sane, well reasoned persons I have discussed this issue with. You are at least internally consistent and well reasoned with your arguments. Most have actual intellectual contradictions within their own arguments. With respect, I do not believe you are a conservative republican. Further, with respect again, I do not believe that you do not know who Paul Begala or the Huffington Post is. You may not have used them as I alleged, but don’t know who they are? You are well informed and well reasoned, any such person knows these entities/people. So I think you went over the top with saying you don’t even know who they are. Anyway, lets not get bogged down in trivial things. I enjoy your posts, again well reasoned and written, unlike almost 99% with your position. Thank you. Have you ever thought of starting a blog?

      • Jack

        I’m sorry that you think I was lying, Sparky. What I said was, I hadn’t read anything on the subject of torture at Huffington Post (which was true) and that I didn’t know who Paul Begala is (which was —and still is— true.)

        It’s also true that I am a conservative Republican. The framers of the Constitution were wise beyond our current ability to understand, and designed the governance of the United States with extraordinary care. Perhaps recognizing that pure democracy would lead to a government with mob rule, such as what resulted from the French Revolution, they chose the form of a representative republic, where the citizenry participated in the civic life of the nation. Over time, that became perverted into what we have today, a system whereby The People elect their representatives, who then implement the policies of lobbyists and special interests.

        While I am a conservative, that certainly doesn’t mean I am in lock-step with Neoconservatives. No group has ever left our beloved nation in worse condition or greater peril than the Neocons. It is laughable to look back at their “Project for a New American Century” where they believed that they could wield America’s vast power to impose a Pax Americana on the world, much as Rome had imposed the Pax Romana. Through mismanaged bungling, they squandered vast sums of American treasure on two military adventures, and were unable to prevail against bedraggled civilian militias from a culture that has hardly advanced since biblical times. Their toadying to multinational corporations has lead to the weakening of our economy and the impoverishment of America’s middle class of working people. No, I am certainly not that type of conservative.

      • sparkyholden

        Yes Jack, greater peril, the terrorists have killed so many since 9/11 here in the U.S. The conspiracy theory of “multinational corporations” and improverishment of America’s middle class, sounds like a contemporary application of how Karl Marx would describe America, the evil corporations and the subjugation of the working man. Conservative? Jack, who do you think you are dealing with? You write tomes of left wing liberal blather and then say “um I am really a Conservative.” Come out of the left wing closet Jack, or if you really believe you are a Conservative I think you ought to re think what you call yourself.

  7. Jack

    “Lastly, this argument about how U.S. Soldiers would be treated and what I, or the country would object to, is of no moment. ”

    If what you would object to is of no moment, then it should not present any problem whatsoever for you to state it, clearly, for all to see. Therefore, I ask you, which of the following would you consider to be acceptable if American soldiers were subjected to it at the hands of any enemy, whether unlawful combatants or the formal military of a nation with whom we may someday be at war:

    a.) waterboarding
    b.) stress positions, held for hours
    c.) manacled to a bolt on the floor, unable to stand
    d.) sleep deprivation
    e.) deprivation of clothing
    f.) extremes of temperature
    g.) being threatened by canines
    h.) being confined in a box, with insects introduced
    i.) being held in solitary confinement for extended periods
    j.) being slammed against a wall

    Please state which procedures you would find acceptable —and which objectionable— when applied to American soldiers.

    • sparkyholden

      I would “object” to any of those things being used on U.S. Soldiers in any manner because I care about my country and our soldiers. But whether those perpetrating those acts would be legally guilty of torture, as opposed to interrogation in a time of war, would be a matter of law. I would expect and not be shocked if much worse was done. And actually, again it is of no moment, because the people we are dealing would do worse than that or simply kill our soldiers. What does it matter if I “object.” I want you to show me your letter to your congressmen demanding torture prosecution….hold on not for the Bush administration, but for those who we catch that engaged in those techniques against our soldiers. Additionally, I want to see the transcripts, and your letters as well, demanding prosecution of those in charge of the Hanoi Hilton. Did you have these arguments then, or well it wasn’t that important back then.

      • Jack

        I asked you if the following “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be acceptable if done to American soldiers captured on the battlefield by our enemies:

        a.) waterboarding
        b.) stress positions, held for hours
        c.) manacled to a bolt on the floor, unable to stand
        d.) sleep deprivation
        e.) deprivation of clothing
        f.) extremes of temperature
        g.) being threatened by canines
        h.) being confined in a box, with insects introduced
        i.) being held in solitary confinement for extended periods
        j.) being slammed against a wall

        You replied, “I would “object” to any of those things being used on U.S. Soldiers in any manner because I care about my country and our soldiers. But whether those perpetrating those acts would be legally guilty of torture, as opposed to interrogation in a time of war, would be a matter of law.”

        I believe that your position is that, according to U. S. law, those techniques are, in fact, legal. Therefore, it would be legal for an enemy to subject our American soldiers to those practices.

        Our current Islamic enemies are ignorant, backward, barbaric people. They have barely –if at all– progressed from the 7th Century. In matters of how to treat an enemy combatant, they indulge in wanton cruelty and murder.

        I vehemently object on both moral and legal grounds to any such behavior.

    • Well I am going to shock you Jack, but I am actually a left wing liberal? Surprised? I know, but if I had to label myself that is what I would call myself. I just have a different perspective than most on this issue.

      As to your speaking to “crimes” in the time of war, I know you would consider it a crime to fly drones over a soverign country we are not at war with, drop bombs, and kill innocent civilians. That is clearly murder isn’t it?

  8. Jack

    “since suspected terrorists are not of any specific nation, a recognized military force of nation under a declaration of war, are not dressed in uniform to be recognized as being from a specific country, they are to be treated legally as spies and summarily shot….you agree with that part of the law of World War II?”

    To give you a straight answer, yes, I do believe that non-uniformed combatants of a nation under declaration of war should be tried legally as spies and summarily shot. However, that does not apply to the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan as the United States of America never issued a declaration of war against either nation. We launched a military action against people who are not uniformed soldiers, but rather, are militants who dress in ordinary garb. Therefore, they ~are~ in their proper uniform, just as were the guerilla forces of the Colonies in their revolt against the British soldiers upon their soil.

    • sparkyholden

      Jack, I am hitting the sack, so if you receive a reply from me, it will be tomorrow. Ok?

      • sparkyholden

        That was a nice way of responding without responding…”yes I would if this were a war.” The logical extension of your argument is that because terrorists are not part of any one country and therefore cannot be subject to a declaration of war, they get more rights than an organized country which declares war on us, or which we declare war upon. So let me see we can summarily shoot those that play by international law and are an organized country, but if you slink around across borders and are Islamic Fundamentalists, we can’t shoot you, can’t sleep deprive you or make you too “cramped” to find out about how you plan to kill us next. That was your weakest retort yet.

  9. Jack

    You accuse me, Sparky, of writing “tomes of left wing liberal blather” simply, I believe, because I write about things that you don’t agree with. I write the truth as I perceive it to be. The fact that multinational corporations have undue sway over our legislators —and thus influence our legislation for their own benefit— is, well, just that: it’s a fact. A fact is neither liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, left wing or right. It’s simply the truth.

    Here’s just a quick example of what I’m talking about: The Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003. Favorable to pharmaceutical and insurance companies (at the expense of American taxpayers) it was coauthored by The chairman of the Commerce Committee, Representative Billy Tauzin (R-La.) while he was negotiating a $2,000,000 per year salary as a lobbyist for PhRMA, the trade industry organization of the pharmaceuticals business. Sure enough, after the bill passed, Tauzin left Congress and stepped into his two-million-dollars-a-year job. The fact that this traitor to the American people he was elected to serve is a Republican is immaterial. There are Democrats, too, who are the paid agents of corporate interests. There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington, D.C., all vying to influence our lawmakers. That’s an astounding number. And in a representative republic, such influence-mongering is reprehensible.

    Sparky, as an American, you are free to believe whatever you want, and I both support and respect that. If you want to believe I am a leftist liberal, that’s your affair. The reality is that they type of Conservative I am is so rare these days, it isn’t even recognized. I believe in a small Federal Government with limited authority over the lives of the citizenry. I believe in sound fiscal policy. (In other words, I don’t believe in either Democratic “tax-and-spend” or Republican “borrow-and-spend” policies.) I believe in following The Constitution, and the wise designs of the Founders of our nation. I believe that what made America great in the past was the hard work, discipline, and innovations of the individuals who comprise this country, not in collectivism. And I believe in the Rule of Law. If you perceive such beliefs as being “left wing liberal blather” then, well, that’s your affair.

    • sparkyholden

      Jack,
      It wasn’t only that I disagree with your positions it was the usual “buzz” word liberal vernacular that you occassionally let slip into your sentences that I concluded that you were being less than honest about your political label. Also, the conclusion, in sweeping and dire terms that the neoconservatives (Read “Bush Administration) have left us in the worst condition in our history. I mean this is quite a statement, and yes I consider it “blather” to make a sweeping term like that for an Administration that has been out of office for a couple months.
      I do agree with your statement about lobbying and the corruption on both sides on that issue, although, again, you chose to use a Republican as the specific example.
      I have some questions for you, which are not rhetorical to prove a point, but simply questions:

      1. Even if your brand of Conservatism is rare, is there not a current label for it?

      2. If you believe in the rule of law do you believe that Barack Obama should be prosecuted for continuing the drone bombing program into Pakistan which kills civilians? I could make a cogent argument that both he, and Bush, in engaging in this tactic have violated International Law and have committed murder of civilians. What is your position on this issue?

      • Jack

        Sparky, the only term I have heard recently that would describe the type of conservatism I find myself in agreement with is “archeo-conservatism” which, I surmise, means the type of thought of whom Goldwater was a champion. As a Conservative I duly voted for Ronald Reagan for his first term of office, then watched in horror as he betrayed the very principles that had gotten him elected. To illustrate that point briefly, he decried the “tax-and-spend” Democrats and lowered taxes. Then, instead of taxing the citizenry of the day, he borrowed extensively, effectively taxing ~future~ citizens.

        When Reagan took office, the United States was the largest creditor nation in the world, and the leading importer of raw materials. We converted those raw materials into the best products in the world, for sale both in our own market to our own citizens as well as for export to other markets. When Reagan left office, we were the largest debtor nation in the world. Reagan’s “recovery” was based upon borrowing money.

        When Reagan took office, the National Debt had been paid down to its lowest level since 1931, to 31% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At the end of the Reagan/Bush years, the National Debt had skyrocketed to 67% of GDP. During Reagan’s eight years, he added more debt that in the entire previous history of the United States. Here is what he said in his inaugural address:

        “For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals. You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but only for a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.”
        –President Reagan, in his inaugural address, January 20, 1981

        And then he went on to ~triple~ the National Debt, from $1 Trillion to $2.9 Trillion.

        Reagan inherited 8% unemployment rates from his predecessor. But after two years of his presidency, the U.S. economy entered a recession deeper than any since the Great Depression at the time, and unemployment hit 10.9%.

        Those are the actual facts.

        Modern conservatives genuinely believe that they stand for fiscal responsibility, smaller government, reining in spending, and liberty. Those were the ideals of Goldwater conservatives, I guess now called “archeo-conservatives”, but starting with Ronald Reagan, the reality is that modern conservatives have pushed for the very opposite of those virtues—all while still claiming them. They have promoted the fantasy of conservative values while engaging in the reality of neoconservatism, which is neither “neo” nor “conservative.” The only thing similar between conservatives and neocons is the flag lapel pin.

        He was followed by more of his ilk, Bush, Sr. and Bush, Jr., i.e. phony conservatives, both of whom also raised the National Debt considerably. Between their terms, the White House was occupied by a NeoDemocrat, to coin a phrase, who hastened the demise of our national security by ushering in NAFTA, and allowing the gutting of laws that protected the financial markets since they were put in place after the Great Depression. Like the Republicans before and after him, he served the interests of the corporations rather than those of The People.

        As for how Bush, Jr., and his dual-citizenship NeoCon cronies left the United States, let’s see… two disastrous and costly wars, one of which was either the biggest blunder in history or was entered into by lying to The People, wars conducted with behavior almost as barbaric as our Islamic enemies and a serious blot on our national honor, shocking indebtedness, and a collapsed economy, kept alive by the ill-advised bailouts and stimulus packages, but which may yet tank completely and bring down the economy of the entire world. What President has left our nation in worse trouble than that?

        Question #2: As I have said, Sparky, we are to be a nation of laws, where no one is above the law. Incursions the violate the sovereignty of another nation are a violation of law, and have resulted in deaths. Naturally, President Obama should be held legally accountable for his actions. Why wouldn’t he be?

      • sparkyholden

        Too much in your reply to respond to tonight as my allergies are eating me alive, my eyes are two flaming hell pits. I might even enjoy waterboarding at this point. Will respond to you tomorrow, just took a zyrtek. Thanks for the answers and reply.

        Remember what Goldwater said “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” 🙂

      • sparkyholden

        One last thing before I lay down…trying to figure you out or take you as sincere in your political descriptions is like an enigma wrapped in a paradox, or whatever that expression is. You claim to be “some kind” of conservative, and the politcal figures you complain about are Reagan and the two Bush Presidents. Intuitively, something is not right here. You have no problem with Carter, Clinton and Obama, or think they were closer to your brand of Conservatism? Again, if assuming arguendo your complaints about these “alleged” Conservatives were valide, the absense of mention of any criticisms of the liberal Presidents we have had is counter intuitive to what you allege that your philosophy is. Just a thought. Comments?

      • sparkyholden

        Do you have an aversion to mentioning Carter and Clinton by name? What was the unemployment at the end of Reagan’s terms? And what about those pesky interest rates that you didn’t mention that Reagan inherited and were wholly reduced while he was in office? Hmm not mentioned. Your characterizations of the wars are your opinions, I have not known a war that was not “barbaric” as war is by its nature not “nice.” The enemies that have a problem with us because of the Iraq war have had a problem with us all along, they could give two craps about America’s national honor. And I think over generalizing about how we became “almost as barbaric” as our enemies is simply not true. It is a sweeping phrase that sounds “nice” but cannot be refuted because it is a “grey” generalization. You can always take an anectodal example, even if true, and then conclude we are as barbaric as our enemies. On the whole though I don’t think we capture civilians and televise their beheading.

        Lastly, you mention deficits of Reagan and Bush. I thought, at least in the case of Reagan, that Congress has the “power of the purse” and that Congress was controlled by the Democrats during that period. I have to go back and look at the Constitution, but I think Congress has control over the budget/spending.

  10. Jack

    Wow, sorry to hear about the allergies, Sparky. Jeez, I hope this isn’t an allergic reaction to my weird brand of Conservatism! Seriously, I hope you found some relief and felt better quickly.

    “You have no problem with Carter, Clinton and Obama, or think they were closer to your brand of Conservatism?”

    Quick story: when I was a young man, I was in a band with a Canadian guy who worked in New York City for a caterer. One day, he was late for rehearsal. He said he was catering a very posh luncheon, and couldn’t get away. “It was weird,” he said. “There were all these powerful people assembled, and at one point someone stood up and announced who the next President of The United States would be.”

    “You mean, these people supported a candidate, right?”

    “No, they announced it like it was already a done deal. The rest of the luncheon was about what they were going to do with the information.”

    “And who was this person they had decided would be President?”

    “The name they gave was ‘Jimmy Carter.'”

    “Look, you’re from Canada, so wouldn’t know this, but this country would never elect a guy named ‘Jimmy’. We’d vote for someone named ‘James’ but not ‘Jimmy.’ And besides, we don’t just let weird groups of individuals decide who our President will be. We, The People, decide that.”

    Imagine my bewilderment over the next three years as I started seeing the name, “Jimmy Carter”, show up in news articles of increasing prominence until he won the Democratic nomination. I found out many years later that the group that met for that luncheon must have been The Tri-Lateral Commission.

    The special interests who are pushing our country toward eventual inclusion in a One World government aren’t constrained to political parties. They use whoever they can to push the agenda. The sad thing is, it’s working. We get closer every day.

    I know you’re having trouble pigeon-holing me into a category, and I think the fact that I point out the flaws of Republicans makes me suspect. I just don’t fall into lock-step with the Republican agenda, and call things as I see them. In “tribal” or “clan” behavior, people are trained to view everyone in their own tribe as a Good Guy and everyone outside the tribe as a Bad Guy and an enemy. They are trained to defend everything their own tribe does, and to attack everything the other tribe does. I think that is irrational.

    I think the Founders recognized that human beings make mistakes, and endeavored to create a system of government where mistakes could be corrected before they devastated the nation. But the only way an error can be corrected is if it is first recognized as such. That becomes impossible in an environment where people simply assume that their side is Always Right and the other side is Always Wrong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s