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By: Max Lybbert Fri, 01 Oct 2004 11:14:12 +0000 Duh, my last post stated there were only 10 months in 2002. That was, of course a type. It should have been 12 like any other year (the 8.4 was determined by dividing 101 by 12, so it’s accurate).

By: Max Lybbert Fri, 01 Oct 2004 02:32:20 +0000 Raoul has posted several negative reports and opinions on the situation in Iraq, and I haven’t really responded to that portion of the recent cut-n-paste offensive.

In response to the cut-n-paste blitz, I would like to point out that after a little more than 18 months of combat, the US has just over 1,000th combat deaths. And, for the record, 1,000 deaths amount to a tragedy. But, then again, nobody should be suprised that deadly fighting takes place in a warzone.

I am curious about what kinds of casualties Raoul’s experts had expected before the invasion. I think the following numbers may put those 1,000 deaths into perspective. With the necessary disclaimers that the forces in each situation were wildly different from each other, followed different tactics, and even had amazingly different goals, here are the American death totals from modern warfare (well, the IDF line is the total of Israeli soldier deaths):

Iraqi Freedom deaths (through end of September 2004, 18 months): 1052(PDF) (58.4/mo.)

Viet Nam deaths (after 90 months): 58,000 (644.4/mo.)

Desert Storm deaths (1.5 months): 299 (199.3/mo.)

Lebanon deaths, 1982 – 1984 (18 months): 265 (14.8/mo.)

Israeli Defense Force deaths, 2002 (10 months): 101 (8.4/mo.)

I recognize that these numbers are statistically suspicious because they aggregate too much information without any useful context (i.e., we can’t look at these numbers and know which months were the most dangerous, or even if Lebanon was fought better than Desert Shield). In all honesty, Desert Shield’s short duration makes its numbers especially hard to trust (although the first month of Iraqi Freedom led to 138 deaths, which is similar to Desert Shield’s monthly rate of 199). Also, Lebabon and the IDF operations had different goals and tactics from Iraqi Freedom, so their casualty rates will be wildly different.

But, even with those caveats, I think we can plainly see that Iraqi Freedom is not yet a quagmire on the order of Viet Nam.

Of course, the real issue is how Iraq will be when we leave, not how fast we go through our troops. If we stay until Iraq is on its feet, and that is exactly what we’ve publicly commited to do (and we still have a presence in France, Germany and Japan from our reconstruction their in WWII), then I’m pretty confident that Iraq will continue to be a viable state.

In a similar vein, I’m not convinced we need 400,000 troops. Experts said that the 200,000 troops we have were spread too thin a month ago to take on any major combat operations. However, those troops assaulted Najaf (and acheived military victory) while putting down opportunist uprisings in nearby cities and the slums of Baghdad.

If more troops really are needed, I personally wouldn’t mind seeing some base closings in France and Germany. I also wouldn’t mind seeing some reshuffling of our forces commited to NATO. This is exactly the kind of diplomacy that disturbs Kerry and his followers, but I think it’s fair play after France’s efforts to shut down Turkey’s support.

By: Max Lybbert Thu, 30 Sep 2004 16:11:51 +0000 If Bush is playing politics, what do you call fear-mongering over a draft that hasn’t even been proposed? For that matter, what do you call last year’s attempt to taint the war by proposing a draft?

I am well aware of Congress’s power to declare war. I am also aware that Congress has declared war only five times in history. I am aware that the first year of the Civil War was fought without decalring war, that George Washington put down Shaye’s rebellion without declaring war, that Clinton sent troops into Bosnia without a declaration of war, and that there have been over 200 examples of the Commander in Chief using military authority without a declaration of war (about one-third of those events did have Congressional approval — which leaves a full two-thirds without it).

And, as I previously posted, I am aware that the War Powers Resolution has serious Constitutional questions.

By: raoul Thu, 30 Sep 2004 13:10:26 +0000 Pentagon officials have indicated that they plan to send as many as 15,000 additional troops during the first four months of 2005, and the President George W. Bush continues to insist “we will stay the course” until Iraq is stabilized.

Where will the additional troops come from? The Bush administration insists there will be no draft, but its credibility has been badly tarnished. The “backdoor draft” that has kept so many from the Reserve and National Guard on active duty has backfired, as quotas for new enlistments have not been met. So plans are already advanced for fully mobilizing the Reserve and National Guard.

The well respected International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, before which the president spoke last November, says 500,000. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki told Congress publicly before the war that “several hundred thousand” troops would be needed. It turns out he was asking for 400,000, fully aware that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was planning to attack and occupy Iraq with just a fraction of that. Rumsfeld gave him the back of his hand.

While the president promotes the bromide of “months of steady progress” in Iraq, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R, Neb.) calls this a “grand illusion.”

Who’s the Enemy?Disingenuousness persists about the resistance to U.S. occupation. The president assured us last week that there are only “a handful of people who are willing to kill” in order to thwart U.S. aims.

The reality in Iraq was far better captured by retired Army Special Forces Col. W. Patrick Lang, former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Col. Lang wrote:

“The sad thing is that US combat intelligence in Iraq does not seem to know who the insurgents are, where they are, how many they are, or what they plan to do. This in spite of all the happy campaign talk about how well things are going.”

Another retired Army colonel, a well respected military strategist and educator, Sam Gardiner, writing recently for, reacted bitterly to reports � now confirmed by Secretary Powell � that military operations into the “no-go” areas in Iraq have been postponed until after the election.

“There is certainly no commander in the field saying, ‘Let’s give the bad guys another 60 days to operate freely inside their sanctuaries before we attack.’ Such a decision would be particularly bizarre when attacks against coalition forces are more frequent than ever, attacks on oil pipelines are on the rise, and the U.S. is suffering increased casualties.”

Bush is obviously playing politics with the war at the expense of the GIs on the ground. He is such a coward.

By: raoul Thu, 30 Sep 2004 12:49:34 +0000 Article I. Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reads in pertinent part:

The Congress shall have Power . . . To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations; To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water . . .�

By: Max Lybbert Thu, 30 Sep 2004 11:54:30 +0000 OK, I went back to the War Powers Resolution to see what I could find.

First, I have to point out that it does include Raoul’s list of limits on the President’s ability to send troops into combat.

However, the War Powers Resolution does not restrict the President from sending troops into combat (or anywhere, really) for 60 days without Congressional approval (section 5(b)). The President must notify Congress within 48 hours of military deployment, and if the President doesn’t have Congressional approval by the end of 60 days, he must withdraw the troops, but can get 30 days to do so (ibid., “Such sixty-day period shall be extended for … an additional thirty days if the President … certifies to the Congress … that unavoidable military necessity … requires the continued use of such armed forces in the … prompt removal of such forces”). This is where the President gets 90 days to wage war without Congressional apporval.

However, that approval doesn’t have to be a declaration of war. In fact, the language in section 8(a)(1) leads me to believe that the $18 billion specifically for military operations in Iraq could fall under this:

Sec. 8. (a) Authority to introduce United States … into hostilities … shall not be inferred –

(1) from any provision of law … including any provision contained in any appropriation Act, unless such provision specifically authorizes the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities

The potential unconstitutionality comes from the fact that the War Powers Resolution isn’t a law as defined by the Constitution (INS v. Chadha). It’s an agreement between both Houses of Congress, that the President isn’t really a party to. In other words, it’s an attempt by Congress to put limits on the President, without either amending the Constitution or even getting an agreement from the President. In the same vein, the President cannot sign an executive order that limits Congress’s abilities.

On top of that, The War Powers Resolution brings up important separation of powers issues. Every President since 1973 (when the War Powers Resolution was passed) has publicly called the Resolution unconstitutional. I don’t think the disclaimer in section 8(d)(1) (“Nothing in this joint resolution is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President”) is enough to get around this.

I was suprised to learn that even Carter toed the line on the War Powers Resolution. He informed Congress that he had sent troops into Iran, and decided against using them, several days after the fact. Reagan sent troops into Grenada without consulting Congress until military action was about to take place. Bush I claimed that “imminent hostilities” weren’t guaranteed during Desert Shield since there were no hostitilites taking place at the time. He did notify Congress the day Desert Storm started. Clinton sent troops into Bosnia, and Congress didn’t bring up the War Powers Resolution. Bush II didn’t notify Congress until after starting military action (although he did have certain resolutions that implied Congress had been involved in some consultation).

By: Max Lybbert Thu, 30 Sep 2004 01:16:33 +0000 Although I had already posted responses, Raoul posited a few questions and opinions:

/* The only body with authority to enforce a UN resolution is the UN. That is undisputable international law. There is no valid precedent to the contrary.

Sorry, but the last link (and the part I quoted in my last post) included both UN approval of force, and historic examples of using that same approval for military purposes(“The UNSC, acting … provided that member states, including the United States, have the right to use force in Iraq to maintain or restore international peace and security. … This resolution – on which the United States has relied continuously and with the full knowledge of the UNSC to use force in 1993, 1996, and 1998 and to enforce the no-fly zones – remains in effect today.”).

This statement chops up further claims, including the claim that the US lacked standing to enforce the resolutions, and:

/* I went to the links and read through them. There is not a single reference to any legal precedent authorizing the US to unilaterally invade Iraq. Not one.


/* “all necessary acts [means]” has never been used to justify force to enforce a UN resolution.


/* �Cease fire means cessation of fire. Iraq never ceased firing.�

And neither did we.

But who won the war? If Iraq wished to continue at war (and that is what Saddam said in is speeches to everybody but the UN), then continuing to fire is a valid way, under international law, to do so. And we then have the right to fire back.

/* The constitutional powers of the president to �introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities� are limited, and can only be exercised �pursuant to; (a) a declaration of war, (b) specific statutory authorization, or (c) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.�

Could you tell me where this limit comes from? I don’t see it anywhere in the Constitution. If I remember my history correctly, even George Washington sent troops into a place he expected fighting without a declaration of war (Shaye’s Rebellion). The War Powers Act (passed after Viet Nam) limits the President in some ways, but there are questions about its Constitutional validity. If Bush violated the War Powers Act, Congress may not wish to challenge him on it because they don’t want to risk losing the whole thing.

/* By mid-March, the whole world had concluded … that Saddam had effectively been disarmed since at least 1998 and had made no attempt to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs since 1991.

Sorry, this statement ignores important details. Here are three timelines put up by the State Department showing various things that Saddam had tried to reconstitute after 1991. July 1995: Iraq withdraws June deadline and admits that its biological weapons program is more extensive than previously acknowledged. After 1998, we had no instepction until Blix, who did find banned weapons (though not WMD), and the post-war inspections that did find ongoing research (but no weapons).

By: raoul Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:41:41 +0000 Legal justification for charging GW with treason:

Anyone who provides disinformation to Congress has committed a felony. If the provider is a U.S. government official intent on starting a war, it could amount to treason.

By: raoul Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:39:46 +0000 The only body with authority to enforce a UN resolution is the UN. That is undisputable international law. There is no valid precedent to the contrary.

�. . . describing times where the use of military force hasn�t been authorized, even with the words �all necessary acts�), were buried in my last post, I simply wanted to clarify that those links were included.�

I went to the links and read through them. There is not a single reference to any legal precedent authorizing the US to unilaterally invade Iraq. Not one.

�all necessary acts [means]� has never been used to justify force to enforce a UN resolution. The only times a UN resolution has ever been enforced by the use force, occurred subsequent to a specific vote to authorize force.

�Justifying the invasion under the cease fire (which Iraq did agree to on April 6, 1991, so that the US would stop firing) is simple.�

RESOLUTION 687 (1991) doesn�t say squat about authorizing an invasion.

�Cease fire means cessation of fire. Iraq never ceased firing.�

And neither did we.

It is common for all sorts of agreements to be breach. However to seek redress the breaches must be material.

�Iraq violated several other terms of the cease fire, including interfearing with and expelling weapons inspectors (see paragraphs 7 and 8 (Hans Blix found missiles in violation of 8(b)).�

So what, the US does not have standing. If your boss decides to fire you for spending too much time blogging, do I get to sue him for wrongful termination? Of course not, I do not have standing.

Failure to comply with a cease fire, under tradition, can be considered de fact rejection of the cease fire. Under this scenario, the US could justify resuming operations (including invasion) under the Security Council Resolutions 660 and 678 (note, that is a different resolution than 687, the cease fire).

�Security Council Resolutions 660 and 678″

Where is the specific language in these Resolutions authorizing a unilateral invasion by the US? There is none. �all necessary acts� has never been used to justify force to enforce a UN resolution by the UN let alone rouge members.

�Even aside from that, firing on a nation�s military is an act of war.�

Responding to 11 years of attacks can hardly be called an act of aggression.� 11 years of attacks on our military aircraft flying over their airspace. As if there is no time limit on these things. So it would be legal for the descendants of the Seminoles to just start scalping people in Florida? So it�s perfectly legal for the PLO to wage war against Israel? How bout the Scottish?

But, even more explicitly, the second document I linked to (at the end) states:

�U.S. action is consistent with the UN Charter. The UNSC, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, provided that member states, including the United States�

This is simply untrue and laughable. Unilateral action by a member state in invading another member state to enforce UN resolutions, after the UN specifically declines to authorize such force, is not consistent with the UN Charter.

I am so glad the last document mentions Public Law 107-243. This is good as many who voted for this resolution have changed their minds after they were lied to:

The Select Committee on Intelligence issued a report highly critical of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of October 2002, which served as the basis for Public Law 107-243 entitled “Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.”

As we know now the NIE was complete fiction.

Numerous congresspersons are now saying that if they had known in October 2002 what the Committee has just revealed about the NIE, they would never have voted for the Resolution.

The NIE focused on Saddam�s stockpile of WMDs, it began:

“Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD)programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.”

Suspiciously and surprisingly, up until high profile declarations by President Bush and Vice President Cheney in August 2002, the CIA had never stated categorically that Saddam Hussein had WMD. According to Bob Woodward, in his book Plan of Attack, the vice president noted on August 26, 2002 that �Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.� According to Woodward, one month later, the president said, �The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons.� After those speeches, CIA director George Tenet–a holdover from the Clinton administration and, according to some intelligence officials, eager to win a place in the president�s conservative inner circle�rushed to commission a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD. The last prior intelligence estimate on the subject was done in 2000 and was duly cautious�as intelligence estimates usually tend to be.

But the Select Committee�s report reveals that by March of 2003 � as a consequence of the inspections in December, January and February by Chairman Hans Blix of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and/or Director General Mohammed ElBaradei of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency � every congressperson should have known that virtually every assessment in that highly classified October NIE was either suspect or demonstrably wrong.

The constitutional powers of the president to “introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities” are limited, and can only be exercised “pursuant to; (a) a declaration of war, (b) specific statutory authorization, or (c) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

When GW went to Congress in September 2002, seeking “specific statutory authorization” to invade Iraq, he based his case on the aforementioned NIE which supposedly contained positive proof that Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio programs, with the intention of supplying them to Islamic terrorists for use against us.

Result = “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

Now, the emphasis in “all necessary means” is on “necessary,” whether in a U.S. resolution or a UN resolution.

By mid-March, the whole world had concluded � as a result of the reports to the Security Council by Blix and ElBaradei � that Saddam had effectively been disarmed since at least 1998 and had made no attempt to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs since 1991. Hell as early as 1997, U.N. inspectors had confirmed that Gen. Hussein Kamel � Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law � had told them and the CIA the truth. He was not an agent of disinformation but a genuine defector. In charge of Iran-Iraq War WMD programs, he had ordered all WMD destroyed on the eve of the Gulf War. By 1995, when he defected, “nothing remained.” Saddam murdered him shortly thereafter.

Saddam was not any threat to the US. However GW “determined” on March 19, 2003 that no “further diplomatic or other peaceful means will adequately protect the national security of the United States from the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

As we now know � thanks to the Select Committee � the highly classified October NIE was total BS.

And it is true in December 1998 � to the horror of most members of the Security Council �Clinton launched a pre-emptive strike against Saddam�s presidential palaces. His rationale? The CIA�s assessment that WMD must be beneath them, because the UN inspectors had not been allowed to search there. Of course, they weren�t there or anywhere else. But for a while Clinton thought he had killed Saddam, which was, of course, his true objective. Not a bad idea but totally illegal nonetheless.

By: Joseph Pietro Riolo Wed, 29 Sep 2004 21:04:05 +0000 To anonymous and raoul,

Sorry to say but your posts are fine examples of taking
things out of context to advance your own bias. Max
Lybbert provides one important ingredient: Perspective.
He did an excellent job in putting the information in the
proper perspective.

This is my last post. To Max, I don’t know how you get
all the time to search for the information but I want to
say that you have earned my respect.

Now, I will wait for Nov. 2nd. Meanwhile, I will keep
listening to news – both good and bad – and evaluate them
constantly (and of course, reading Max’s posts).

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions
in this comment in the public domain.

By: Max Lybbert Wed, 29 Sep 2004 20:28:40 +0000 Oops, I forgot to say that most of Enron’s fraudulent activities occured under Clinton’s watch, since Raoul doesn’t take time to point it out.

Because my links to documents (written by international lawyers) explaining why, under international law, the invasion of Iraq was legal (and describing times where the use of military force hasn’t been authorized, even with the words “all necessary acts”), were buried in my last post, I simply wanted to clarify that those links were included.

Justifying the invasion under the cease fire (which Iraq did agree to on April 6, 1991, so that the US would stop firing) is simple.

Paragraph 33 “Declares that, upon official notification by Iraq to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council of its acceptance of the provisions above, a formal cease-fire is effective between Iraq and Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Kuwait in accordance with resolution 678 (1990);”

Cease fire means cessation of fire. Iraq never ceased firing. Iraq violated several other terms of the cease fire, including interfearing with and expelling weapons inspectors (see paragraphs 7 and 8 (Hans Blix found missiles in violation of 8(b)).

Failure to comply with a cease fire, under tradition, can be considered de fact rejection of the cease fire. Under this scenario, the US could justify resuming operations (including invasion) under the Security Council Resolutions 660 and 678 (note, that is a different resolution than 687, the cease fire).

Even aside from that, firing on a nation’s military is an act of war. Responding to 11 years of attacks can hardly be called an act of agression.

But, even more explicitly, the second document I linked to (at the end) states:

U.S. action is consistent with the UN Charter. The UNSC, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, provided that member states, including the United States, have the right to use force in Iraq to maintain or restore international peace and security. The Council authorized the use of force in UNSCR 678 with respect to Iraq in 1990. This resolution – on which the United States has relied continuously and with the full knowledge of the UNSC to use force in 1993, 1996, and 1998 and to enforce the no-fly zones – remains in effect today.

That’s as close to international statutory permission as you can find.

By: raoul Wed, 29 Sep 2004 20:11:27 +0000 Just in case anybody wants to question this guy�s credentials:


Individual Decorations & Service Medals:

* Distinguished Service Cross (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Silver Star (with nine Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Legion of Merit (with three Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Distinguished Flying Cross
* Bronze Star Medal (with “V” Device & seven Oak Leaf Clusters)(Seven of the awards for heroism)
* Purple Heart (with seven Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Air Medal (with “V” Device & Numeral 34)(One for heroism and 33 for aerial achievement)
* Army Commendation Medal (w/ “V” Device & 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Good Conduct Medal
* World War II Victory Medal
* Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany and Japan Clasps)
* National Defense Service Medal (with one Bronze Service Star)
* Korean Service Medal (with Service Stars for eight campaigns)
* Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
* Vietnam Service Medal (2 Silver Service Stars = 10 campaigns)
* Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Unit Awards:

* Presidential Unit Citation
* Valorous Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Meritorious Unit Commendation

Badges & Tabs:

* Combat Infantryman Badge (w/ one Star; representing 2 awards)
* Master Parachutist Badge
* Army General Staff Identification Badge

Foreign Awards:

* United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
* Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device (1960)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Gold Stars)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Silver Stars)
* Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Staff Service Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 2d Class
* Vietnam Parachutist Badge (Master Level)
* Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (with three Palm oak leaf clusters)
* Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation (with one Palm oak leaf cluster)

World War II Merchant Marine Awards:

* Pacific War Zone Bar
* Victory Medal

By: Anonymous Wed, 29 Sep 2004 20:08:27 +0000 From Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.) co-founder and Senior Military Columnist for DefenseWatch magazine. A true American gung ho military commander.

From post-9/11 to the present, the war too has been based on lies fanned by the same Pentagon propaganda machine busy doing everything possible � including the censorship of our troops in Iraq for �national security purposes� � to convince the American people that, as we sadly heard for eight bloody years in Vietnam, there�s �light at the end of the tunnel.�

We went to war because we were told Iraq had WMD that threatened our country�s security and that Saddam was a key player behind 9/11. Both have been proven to be super whoppers.

We were also told that liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk with few U.S. casualties and would cost no more than a billion bucks � which would quickly be repaid by Iraqi oil. Yet more duplicity.

So far I count 1,050 American dead, 7,750 combat wounded and about 30,000 non-battle casualties. And our war costs are already close to a cool $200 billion.

Like Vietnam, the cover-ups and distortions will continue until the press and the people wake up. Hopefully that will be before the count is 3,000 or 4,000 dead American soldiers.

By: raoul Wed, 29 Sep 2004 20:02:05 +0000 From the Navy Times

The military doesn�t have enough people for its current pace of missions, according to an independent study commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But Rumsfeld said he won�t immediately act on the panel�s recommendations.

900 Americans were killed or wounded in August and a poll highlighted by the CIA in a recent classified briefing showed that 90 percent of Iraqis think of the Americans as occupiers and that half believe the insurgents who target Americans are trying to liberate the country.

By: raoul Wed, 29 Sep 2004 19:58:00 +0000 Back on Topic

Great article from the LA Weekly

When Might Turns Right
Golly GE, why Big Media is pro-Bush
by Nikki Finke

CBS, NBC and ABC all refused Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD advertising during any of the networks� news programming and news magazines and the morning news shows. Executives at Sony Pictures, the distributor of the movie for the home-entertainment market, were stunned. and restricting access to those as well. That becomes very problematic to any advertiser trying to reach an adult audience.�

For all the hundreds of thousands of words broadcast and written about so-called Rathergate, the news of Sonygate hasn�t received any attention at all. How interesting that Big Media spent so much time spanking � or, worse, ignoring � Kitty Kelley�s newly released The Family that dares to criticize the Bushies. When, by contrast, the networks fell all over themselves basically promoting the bejesus out of that swift-boat book of half-truths and full lies, Unfit for Command

By: Max Lybbert Wed, 29 Sep 2004 19:31:33 +0000 Raoul posted an incredibly long list about things he faults the President for. I won’t spend the time to respond to each point, but I will cover a representative sample (yes, they are out of order):

/* I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury. I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock market. In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs. I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world. I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.

During the ’90s, Democrats opposed a balanced budget amendment on the grounds that the government sometimes needs to borrow money. The amendment, BTW, had a specific exception permitting a non-balanced budget (that is, deficit spending) in the case of a recession or war.

When Clinton left office, the bubble had already burst, and the economy was already softening (although the official start of the recession was early in Bush’s Presidency). Although this shows the “I entered office with the strongest economy in US history” bullet point to be false, it also gives a decent reason why deficit spending isn’t such a bad idea today. Part of the deficit is caused by our recent recession (although the economy is now booming in a strange way), and the other part comes from incredible military expenses due to being at war.

I recognize many people don’t believe our economy is booming, especially after the ’90s tech bubble. However, our GDP continues to rise, and our unemployment rate is low enough to not qualify for a recession. Bankruptcies and foreclosures are still higher than they should be, but those are lagging indicators (they are caused by financial trouble a few months ago). Things could be better, which is why I say the economy is booming in a strange way, but the numbers suggest it is booming.

/* I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

I, for one, like this one. In fact, I remember Clinton vowing to execute whoever bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building, before McVeigh was identified.

/* After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.

This may be fun to repeat, but people with far more resources than Raoul (the 9/11 Commission) are much more evenhanded on laying blame.

/* I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.

I have to assume this is a reference to Pointdexter. And it is true that Pointdexter was convicted of crimes. But it is also true that the conviction was overturned because all the same civil rights that Clinton claimed were violated during his investigation were found (in court) to have been violated during Pointdexter’s investigation.

So, if Clinton should be considered innocent because of the violation of civil rights he suffered during investigation (and many Democrats would say that he should be), Pointdexter has a court order demanding that he be considered innocent.

/*I�ve made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history. I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president, since the advent of TV. All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

It’s hard to prove that President Bush has, in fact, been more secretive than, say, Truman, but it is true that he’s been pretty clammed up. Then again, in the society we live in (and especially after the scrutiny Clinton had to suffer through), do you blame him? The Supreme Court determined that there is nothing illegal about Cheney keeping minutes from several of his energy task force meetings secret. While I like to see transparency in government, I understand why Bush might want to limit — especially through legal means — what he says in public and which records become public.

Regarding the SEC investigation — I’m not aware of any SEC investigation against anybody that has been made public. I believe some Constitutional right to privacy is involved. This bullet point (and many others) has very questionable relevance (the official point of this discussion).

/* I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president in US history. Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history. I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations. The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation). I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.

In other words, “people like me enough to send me money.”

Oh, you’re complaining about this the same way Republicans used to complain about Clinton’s fundraising (including the Tibetan temple “community outreach” thing with Al Gore). For the record, the current #2 on the lists of “campaign fund raising trips by any president in US history” and “all-time US (and world) record holder[s] for most corporate campaign donations.” is Clinton, and Kerry would push Clinton to #3 if he’s elected in November.

I don’t like money influencing politics, but Bush isn’t the first political fundraiser of all time (he just happens to be the most succesful). This is another bullet point that seems as irrelevant as Bush’s National Guard record.

/* I cut health care benefits for war veterans.

In all honesty, Bush did not cut benefits. The VA identified and closed several VA hospitals that weren’t being used while Bush was President, but that’s not the same thing.

/* I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind. I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

The President needs to determine what’s right for America, not what the world thinks is right for America. BTW, are you aware that the New York Times has said, “these polls show that the same Europeans who overwhelmingly favor the election of John Kerry also favor a weaker America”?

/* I am the first president in US history to order a US attack AND military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.

Taking this in parts:

“I am the first president in US history to order a US attack AND military occupation of a sovereign nation”

I seem to remember the US occupying Japan and Germany after WWII. I believe the US annexation of large parts of Mexico (Texas, California, etc.) and the war fought to annex those parts would also count as attack and military occupation, and I believe Hawaii used to be a sovereign nation. That’s just off the top of my head.

“and I did so against the will of the United Nations”

True, but not illegally (another document is here) (although Kofi Anan doesn’t agree with me).

“and the vast majority of the international community.”

Well, against France and Germany anyway. But France and Germany seem to have the most important opinions.

/* I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history. I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other US president in history.

This post is getting too long, and meaningfully explaining the whole Patriot Act will only make it incredibly long. My understanding is that much of the Patriot Act codified what judges were already doing (although the library reading provisions fall outside of that). To the extent that the Patriot Act went beyond that mission, you have a point.

OTOH, no executive order (or simple federal law, for that matter) can amend the Constitution. If it could, why can it still be struck down as unconstitutional?