“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Parallel Universes

Court Clears Away Bush's Gitmo Smoke
By EUGENE ROBINSON Posted Monday, June 16, 2008, Investors Business Daily
It shouldn't be necessary for the Supreme Court to tell the president that he can't have individuals taken into custody, spirited to a remote prison camp and held indefinitely, with no legal right to argue that they've been unjustly imprisoned — not even on grounds of mistaken identity.
But the president in question, sigh, is George W. Bush, who has taken a chain saw to the rule of law with the same manic gusto he displays in clearing brush at his Texas ranch.
So Thursday, for the third and apparently final time, the high court made clear that the Decider has no authority to trash the foundational principles of American jurisprudence. In ruling 5-4 that foreigners held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the court cited the Constitution and the centuries-old concept of habeas corpus. Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion seems broad enough and definitive enough to end the Kafkaesque farce at Guantanamo once and for all.
"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Kennedy wrote.
Again, it's amazing that any president of the U.S. would need to have such a basic concept spelled out for him.
That reference to "extraordinary times" takes care of a specious argument that Bush and his legal minions have consistently tried to make — that when the nation is at war, as it has been since the 9/11 attacks, the president has extraordinary powers that allow him to do, well, basically anything he wants.
The Bush administration also has argued that the Guantanamo prisoners are "enemy combatants" who have no legal rights; that while U.S. citizens detained in the "war on terror" may have some rights, foreigners do not; and that Guantanamo is foreign soil, beyond the reach of U.S. judges. The court had no trouble seeing through all this smoke.
Twice before, the court has ordered Bush to respect the rule of law.
In 2006, after the second ruling in favor of Guantanamo inmates' rights, the administration convinced Congress to pass a law stripping the inmates of any right to file habeas corpus petitions in the federal courts.
Thursday's ruling struck down this law—and since the decision was based on the Constitution, it seemed to eliminate the possibility of new legislation that would let Bush continue his program of arbitrary, indefinite detention without judicial review.
The court also deemed inadequate the kangaroo-court tribunals that are held for Guantanamo inmates in lieu of proper court hearings. In the tribunals, an inmate is allowed to have a "personal representative" but not an actual defense lawyer — and the inmate has no right to see the evidence against him or confront his accusers.
Is it conceivable that the evidence against certain inmates might consist of witness statements that were obtained through the use of interrogation techniques involving painful coercion that international agreements classify as torture? Amazingly, that scenario is highly conceivable.
Amazingly, it's also highly conceivable — even probable — that some of the estimated 270 inmates at Guantanamo, imprisoned for as long as six years, are innocent of any involvement in terrorism and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I say "amazingly" because it's still hard for me to believe that arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and torture continue to be debated, as if there were pros and cons. The Supreme Court has now made clear that while justice and honor may be mere inconveniences for George W. Bush, they remain essential components of our national identity.
"The nation will live to regret what the court has done today," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a dissent, warning that the ruling "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."
Everyone hopes he's wrong, of course. But if the only thing that mattered was security, why would we bother to have an independent judiciary at all? Why would there be any constitutional or legal guarantees of due process for anyone?
We could just lock up anyone who fit the demographic profile of the average armed robber, say, or anyone with psychological traits often displayed by embezzlers.
The Guantanamo decision will create headaches for the federal courts.
The process of granting hearings to the detainees will be messy, imperfect and at times frustrating. I'm confident that in the end, the system will work. George W. Bush may not trust America's basic values and highest ideals, but I do.


Dispelling Misconceptions: Guantanamo Bay Detainee Procedures Exceed the Requirements of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Law, and Customary International Law
by Steven Groves and Brian Walsh
WebMemo #1556 , Heritage Foundation

Human rights activists, liberal media outlets, and Bush Administration critics have derisively characterized the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the "gulag of our times,"[1] a "legal black hole,"[2] and a "stain on our nation's character."[3] One need not dig too deeply into the facts, however, to discover that the detainees held at Guantanamo receive the most systematic and extensive procedural protections afforded to foreign enemy combatants in the history of armed conflict, including unprecedented access to legal representation and U.S. courts. In order to unearth the reality from the layers of hyperbole, half-truths, and outright lies that have been heaped upon Guantanamo Bay, this paper corrects a few of the more persistent misconceptions relating to the situation.

Misconception #1: The U.S. must either put Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial or release them.

Certain Members of Congress and parts of the self-described "international legal and human rights community"[4] labor to spread the mistaken notion that the United States has only two viable and legitimate options for dealing with the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay: (1) charge the detainees with crimes and then try them or (2) simply release them from U.S. custody.[5] There is, however, at least one other option, which just happens to have the most venerable pedigree in U.S. history, that the Guantanamo critics ignore: hold the detainees until the end of active hostilities.

As of May, approximately 380 detainees were being held at Guantanamo Bay.[6] Only about 60 to 80 of them are expected to stand trial before military commissions for their individual criminal acts.[7] This list includes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and Ramzi Bin al-Shib, the so-called 20th hijacker. The remaining detainees are being held not because of any alleged criminal conduct but because (1) they fought against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan and (2) U.S. special military tribunals have determined that they are too dangerous to be released back into the world and would likely rejoin the fighting against U.S. and Coalition forces.[8]

The United States is engaged in an ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan and therefore has no obligation—legal, moral, or otherwise—to release captured enemy soldiers so that they may return to the battlefield. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions require that combatants be released from custody only "after the cessation of active hostilities."[9] The U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed the principle that the detention of enemy combatants is a "fundamental and accepted…incident of war" and concluded that the President is therefore authorized to hold detainees for the duration of the conflict in Afghanistan.[10]

The obvious rationale for the detention of enemy combatants is to prevent captured belligerents from returning to the battlefield to take up arms again against Americans and American allies. The premature release of enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay would likely prove deadly to U.S. forces still fighting in Afghanistan: At least 30 of the approximately 395 detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay returned to Afghanistan to engage in further hostilities against Coalition forces.[11]

Other than calling for the immediate release of all detainees and closing Guantanamo, critics provide no solution for how to prevent these former belligerents from returning to the battlefield and killing U.S. and Coalition soldiers. The only sensible solution is the one that the United States and other nations have long employed: hold detainees until the cessation of conflict.

Misconception #2: The Guantanamo Bay detainees received inadequate due process when they were designated enemy combatants.

In violation of the Geneva Conventions and the customary laws of war, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan wear no uniforms or insignia. Unlike the soldiers of every nation that seeks the protections of the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters refuse to carry their arms openly. Such choices drastically increase the dangers of war to the civilians among whom Taliban and al-Qaeda forces hide.

These choices also make it more difficult for U.S. military personnel to determine whether, upon a combatant's capture, the combatant is in fact a member of the enemy force. To address the problem, the U.S. military established a system to screen each detainee to determine whether he is an enemy combatant. The result is that detainees at Guantanamo Bay have received more procedural protections ensuring the fairness of their detention than any foreign enemy combatant in any armed conflict in the history of warfare.

Under the Geneva Conventions, enemy combatants who have committed a belligerent act but whose detainee status is in question are entitled to have their status determined by a "competent tribunal."[12] In accordance with that provision of the Geneva Conventions, prior to the September 11 attacks the U.S. military established Army Regulation 190-8, Section 1-6, setting forth procedures for the operation of tribunals to make such determinations—that is, whether a combatant may be held as a prisoner of war.[13] The U.S. Supreme Court recently cited Army Regulation 190-8 as an example of a procedure which would satisfy the due process requirements for determining the status of the Guantanamo Bay detainees.[14] In response, the Department of Defense established special tribunals modeled on Army Regulation 190-8—Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs)—to determine the status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Consistent with Army Regulation 190-8, the CSRT hearing provides each detainee with a hearing before a neutral panel composed of three commissioned military officers. The tribunals make their decisions on the detainee's status by majority vote, based on the preponderance of the evidence. The detainee has the right to attend all open portions of the CSRT proceedings, the opportunity to call witnesses on his behalf, the right to cross-examine witnesses called by the tribunal, and the right to testify on his own behalf.[15] These procedures go far beyond what most nations provide and what the Geneva Conventions require.

Because unlawful enemy combatants violate the laws of war by employing deception to hide or confuse their identities and affiliations, the CSRT hearings were designed not just to meet but to exceed the due process protections provided by hearings conducted pursuant to Army Regulation 190-8. Specifically, Guantanamo Bay detainees are given the following rights as part of their CSRT hearings:

A military officer is appointed to serve as the detainee's personal representative and explains the CSRT process to the detainee, assists in the collection of relevant information, and helps prepare for the hearing.

In advance of the hearing, the detainee is given a summary of the evidence supporting his designation as an enemy combatant.

A member of the tribunal is required to search government files for any evidence suggesting the detainee is not an enemy combatant.

The decision of every CSRT hearing is automatically reviewed by a higher authority in the Department of Defense who is empowered to order further proceedings.[16]
There would be little or no doubt whether detainees are members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda if such forces simply followed the Geneva Conventions and wore uniforms, displayed insignias, and carried their arms openly. The resulting irony is that unlawful enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay have been given heightened due process despite, and as a direct result of, their repudiation of the laws of war.

Misconception #3: The Guantanamo Bay detainees are entitled to habeas corpus relief.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled over 50 years ago that non-citizen enemy combatants imprisoned outside of the United States during wartime do not have a right to the extraordinary writ of habeas corpus—a legal cause of action brought by a person who alleges he is unlawfully imprisoned. That case, Johnson v. Eisentrager, involved 21 German nationals who had been convicted of espionage by U.S. military commissions convened in China and then transferred to U.S. detention facilities in Allied-occupied Germany. Once in Germany, they petitioned a U.S. federal court to release them under a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that they had been wrongfully imprisoned. The Supreme Court ruled that the German prisoners did not have a right to be released under habeas corpus because they "at no relevant time were within any territory over which the United States is sovereign, and the scenes of their offense, their capture, their trial and their punishment were all beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any court of the United States."[17]

The large majority of Guantanamo Bay detainees today are in the same shoes as the German prisoners were 50 years ago. They are being held outside of the United States[18] for acts committed in Afghanistan, the location of most combatants' capture. As such, the detainees have no right to the extraordinary writ.

In 2004's Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court chose largely to ignore its own precedent[19] when it extended statutory (not constitutional) access to habeas corpus review to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Thereafter, Congress rightly "overruled" the Supreme Court by changing the statutory law to revoke federal court jurisdiction over habeas corpus actions filed by Guantanamo Bay detainees.[20] It is that legislation that Guantanamo Bay critics now seek to undo with yet another round of legislation.

Finally, to assert that the Guantanamo detainees deserve habeas hearings is to assert that the CSRT hearings that have been provided to each and every detainee have been fundamentally inadequate.[21] They have not. The CSRT hearings exceed the requirements for determination of combatant status under the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military regulations.

Recommendations for Congress

Congress should not interfere with the U.S. military's policy of detaining alien enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay for the duration of the war on terrorism. These detainees should not be released until the cessation of hostilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere or until such time that the detainees are no longer a threat to U.S. and Coalition forces. Calls by Members of Congress and the "international legal and human rights community" to release the approximately 380 detainees remaining in Guantanamo are reckless in the extreme and not supported by the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, the Geneva Conventions, or customary international law.

Congress should decline to take the extraordinary step of providing the writ of habeas corpus to the unlawful enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, none of whom are U.S. citizens or legal residents. Even if granting non-citizens who are unlawful enemy combatants the right to habeas corpus were the right decision for this war—and it decidedly is not—it would set a dangerous precedent for America's ability to fight future wars, including conventional wars in which enemy combatants are affiliated with nation-states. In any future conflict, the international community, including the United Nations, would surely demand that prisoners of war held by U.S. forces have access to U.S. courts to try their claims that they are being held unjustly. Further, granting the writ of habeas corpus to non-citizens who are unlawful enemy combatants is almost certain to embolden liberal and progressive jurists to "discover" new constitutional rights for U.S. enemies to access U.S. courts to try their claims. Finally, extending habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay will impede the effectiveness of military operations and place an unnecessary burden on U.S. military forces in the field.[22]


While U.S. troops are deployed in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress should focus its efforts on strengthening their ability to succeed. Congress should not hamper our troops' efforts with shortsighted legislation extending unprecedented rights to foreign terrorists and other enemy combatants. Rewarding or releasing captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters is not any way for legislators on the home front to support U.S. troops fighting abroad.

Steven Groves is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, and Brian W. Walsh is Senior Legal Research Fellow in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.


[1] Irene Khan, Foreword to Amnesty International Report 2005 (Amnesty Int'l 2005), available at

[2] Gitmo: Still a "legal black hole,"The Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2007, available at,0,7490666.story.

[3] Press Release, Senator Tom Harkin, Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on Supreme Court Decision to Hear Terror Detainee Case (June 29, 2007), available at

[4] The relevant community for determining what is reasonable and customary under the laws of war is the community of nations. The community of nations does not adhere to the radical, outlandish "norms" promoted by the international legal and human rights community.

[5] See, e.g., Press Release, Senator Tom Harkin, Harkin Introduces Legislation to Close Guantanamo (May 23, 2007), available at; Press Release, Representative Jane Harman, It Is Time To Close The Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (May 8, 2007), available at; Press Release, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU Welcomes Guantanamo Closure Bill (May 23, 2007), available at; and Press Release, Amnesty International, Abandon Military Commissions, Close Guantanamo (July 4, 2007), available at ("Those currently held in Guantanamo should be released unless they are to be promptly charged and tried in accordance with international standards of fair trial.").

[6] Press Release, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Detainee Transfer Announced (May 19, 2007) available at

[7] Mark Mazzetti, Pentagon Revises Its Rules on Prosecution of Terrorists,The New York Times, January 19, 2007 (citing Pentagon officials), and Military Commissions Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-366, § 950v (enumerating the specific crimes that may be tried by military commissions).

[8] Additionally, as of June approximately 80 current Guantanamo detainees had been determined to be eligible for transfer, subject to ongoing discussions between the United States and other nations. Press Release, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Detainee Transfer Announced (June 19, 2007) available at

[9] Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Aug. 12, 1949, art. 118.

[10] Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 518 (2004).

[11] U.S. divulges new details on released Gitmo inmates, Reuters, May 14, 2007, at, and Press Release, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Detainee Transfer Announced (May 19, 2007), available at Some detainees have been released to their countries of origin after the United States received assurances that they would not be allowed to reengage in hostilities or after they convinced U.S. authorities that they no longer posed a threat. Presumably, some of the least dangerous detainees were released after first agreeing to provide valuable intelligence regarding their pre‑detention activities.

[12] Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 5.

[13] U.S. Dep't of Army, Reg. 190-8, Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees and Other Detainees § 1-6, October 1, 1997, available at

[14] Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 538 (2004).

[15] Memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, to the Secretaries of the Military Departments et al., Implementation of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Procedures for Enemy Combatants Detained as U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (July 14, 2006), available at

. Cf.U.S. Dep't of Army, Reg. 190-8, § 1-6.

[16] Memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, to the Secretaries of the Military Departments et al., Implementation of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Procedures for Enemy Combatants Detained as U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

[17] Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763, 778 (1950).

[18] In his solo opinion concurring in the judgment in Rasul v. Bush, Justice Kennedy asserts that Guantanamo Bay "is in every practical respect a United States territory." 542 U.S. 466, 487 (2004) (Kennedy, J., concurring). However, in addition to this assertion's being unpersuasive in light of the fact that the lease between Cuba and the United States for Guantanamo Bay expressly states that the base remains under Cuba's "ultimate sovereignty," Kennedy did not provide the deciding vote in the 6-3 decision and the assertion has no force of law.

[19] See, e.g., id. at 493–94 (Scalia, J., dissenting) (examining the convoluted logic the majority used to reach a holding otherwise foreclosed by the Court's on‑point precedent in Eisentrager).

[20] Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, P.L. 109-148, and Military Commissions Act of 2006, P.L. 109-366.

[21] Moreover, this assertion necessarily implies that each of the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war held by the United States in World Wars I and II—as well as the Civil War, the Korean Conflict, and every other war in which the United States has ever engaged—were denied a fundamental right to which they were entitled. No POW in any of those wars was granted anything approaching the systematic and extensive process that has been afforded to the non-citizen, unlawful enemy combatants held in Guantanamo Bay.

[22] James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., The War on Terrorism: Habeas Corpus On and Off the Battlefield, Heritage FoundationWebMemo No. 1535, July 5, 2007, available at


  1. Unfortunately, the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to handling these dangerous detainees. Justice Scalia understands what's at stake.

    America is at war with radical Islamists. So is Israel.

    With these latest court decisions, there's now a clear distinction on how each country is approaching the threat from a judicial standpoint.

    2 Different Approaches

  2. High Value WHAT? NoIdon'tthinkso.

  3. Sometimes these courts shoot themselves in the foot with their decisions. Witness California, and gay marriage. The Court overruled the will of the people, now the people are possibly going to pass a state constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman. If it passes the court will have been instrumental in the state of California arriving at the opposite conclusion to what the court wanted.

    But, they couldn't resist the temptation to tinker. Gays in California already had all the rights anyway, under the domestic partnership law, every thing but the word 'marriage'.

    Sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone.

  4. David Speakman, 40, a former journalist turned law student, joked that the media glare "is Karma" from his days as a reporter when he turned that spotlight on others.

    The couple is using President Bush's economic stimulus check to pay for their wedding.

    "It paid for everything," David Speakman said, "so we should probably send him a thank you note."

    Begins in California

  5. if they never make it OFF the battle field the point is mute...

  6. A smarter position is to avoid theological discussions altogether. As with all faiths, there will be heated debates between competing groups within Islam over the proper interpretation of sacred texts and the relationship between religion and politics.

    Yet because these arguments are so opaque to outsiders, policymakers should resist the urge to jump in. Given that moderation is in the eye of the beholder, Washington should not have an ideological litmus test for whom it wishes to engage.

    Rather, policymakers should focus on identifying those who can contribute pragmatic solutions to the many problems we confront in the region, “moderate” or not.

    Moderate Islam

  7. "The United States is engaged in an ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan and therefore has no obligation—legal, moral, or otherwise—to release captured enemy soldiers so that they may return to the battlefield.

    Indeed, the Geneva Conventions require that combatants be released from custody only "after the cessation of active hostilities."[9] The U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed the principle that the detention of enemy combatants is a "fundamental and accepted…incident of war" and concluded that the President is therefore authorized to hold detainees for the duration of the conflict in Afghanistan.[10]

    The obvious rationale for the detention of enemy combatants is to prevent captured belligerents from returning to the battlefield to take up arms again against Americans and American allies. The premature release of enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay would likely prove deadly to U.S. forces still fighting in Afghanistan: At least 30 of the approximately 395 detainees who have been released from Guantanamo Bay returned to Afghanistan to engage in further hostilities against Coalition forces.[11]"

    What's so friggin complicated about that?
    (unless you are a traitorous euroglobophile, PC indoctrinated Sheeple, etc)
    232 years of history down the drain.

  8. Liberal Supreme Court Justices Green-Light Illegal Immigration
    Another disastrous decision by the Supreme Court

    AP: Top Court Eases Rules for Foreigners to Try to Stay in US

    AP: Court Rejects Exxon Appeal in Human Rights Case

    "The Supreme Court" this morning just prior to the program starting "made it easier ... for some foreigners who overstay their visas to seek to remain in the United States legally." The Supreme Court today 5-4, the same bunch that voted the issue last week with Anthony Kennedy writing the opinion, has just green-lighted illegal immigration. "The court ruled 5-4 that someone who is here illegally may withdraw his voluntarily [sic] agreement to depart and continue to try to get approval to remain in the United States," while still here. "The decision essentially embraced a proposed Justice Department regulation governing the treatment of similar cases in the future. Samson Dada, a Nigerian citizen, stayed beyond the expiration of his tourist visa in 1998. He married an American the following year and soon began trying to obtain a visa as an immediate relative of a citizen. But Dada and his wife apparently failed to submit some documents, causing immigration officials to deny the visa.

    "Dada has been trying again to obtain the visa, but immigration authorities meanwhile have ordered him to leave the country. He agreed to leave voluntarily, which would allow him to try sooner to re-enter the country legally than if he had been deported. The court's task," and once again, this is the Associated Press, "was to decide whether he could withdraw his voluntary agreement to leave the country and continue to try to adjust his status while in the United States. Immigration authorities recently ruled that Dada had entered a 'sham' marriage in order to stay [here], but that finding was not part of the court's consideration. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by his four liberal colleagues. The four conservative justices dissented. Justice Antonin Scalia said, 'The court lacks the authority to impose its chosen remedy.'"

    And that's it in a nutshell. Once again, the Supreme Court of the United States is micromanaging an area left to another branch. In this case, the Constitution explicitly leaves it to Congress to regulate immigration. This is not what judging is supposed to be about. These judges on the left are no more than political hacks now, imposing their own personal policy preferences rather than interpreting the law.


  9. I think what they'll do with the 2nd
    Amendment case is at least five will say it's an individual right, which we all know it is, but then they'll say something on the order of 'reasonable rules' can be applied to it, which is already the case, and down the line this will get stretched and stretched, watering it down as much as possible, especially in certain areas. And more so if Obama the Disaster gets elected.

  10. 1 of the first marriages has been presided over by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who's challenge to the state's marriage laws in 2004 led to the recent ruling by California's supreme court that allows them. At City Hall, he helped marry two pioneers of the gay rights movement, who are 87 and 84 years old.

    Opponents of gay marriage have not given up. They're launching various legal challenges.

    A hearing on one matter is scheduled for tomorrow.

    Held in California

  11. I think I heard on the radio today, the age of consent in Massachusettes is 13--thirteen. Can that be right?

  12. Robert Kaplan:


    Obama can and should keep reminding voters about how he opposed the war from the beginning. But the less inclined he is to close the distance between what he will do next in Iraq and what Sen. John McCain will do next, the greater is the possibility that Iran will take advantage of the policy gap between the two candidates. McCain is publicly committed to staying the course that Gates and Petraeus have set the United States military on in Iraq. Obama is committed to getting all the troops out by 2010 no matter what. A precipitous withdrawal may be the last chance the Iranians will have to dominate Iraq to the degree that they had thought possible in 2006. If Obama heads into the fall campaign without visiting Iraq, without acknowledging progress there, and without altering his time-table for withdrawal, the Iranians may decide to help his electoral chances by initiating a new spate of bombings.

    In other words, the closer we get to the election, the more consequences Obama's public position may have for events on the ground in Iraq. And Obama's position can surely evolve in a direction that acknowledges the need to stay tough there, even as he continues to claim credit for having been against the project from the beginning. Rather than blur the distinction between him and McCain, he can subtly shift on Iraq in a way that demonstrates just how serious a thinker he is on foreign policy.

    Every email I get from troops deployed in Iraq talks about the improved situation on the ground. Obama should be aware that they think it is far from a lost cause.

    Will Obama endeavor to catch up with events? Change his tune? Or will he bet on (variously) the weariness, skepticism, ignorance, and established partisan rejection of known and likely supporters? Actually, those two things aren't mutually exclusive for the politically deft. And of course, that's exactly what Kaplan means by "evolve" and "subtly shift."

    He's a cool customer, after all.

  13. Lookin' forward to his trip to Iraq, though. And he's welcome down here any day.

  14. The first-term Illinois senator said he told Zebari that if he wins the White House, "an Obama administration will make sure that we continue with the progress that's been made in Iraq, that we won't act precipitously."

    But he said it was important to begin a withdrawal of troops to send a signal that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is not permanent.

    McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina said Obama's trip to Iraq was "a very good thing" and could force him to adjust his views.

    Iraq and Afghanistan

  15. Jonah Goldberg comments on Bruce Bartlett's "Obamacons" article at The Corner.

    (Sam, "cool customer" is how his half-sister bluntly described him in a Vanity Fair bio.)

  16. In deference to The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Royal Commission forPolitical Correctness, it was announced today that the local climate in
    the UK should no longer be referred to as 'English Weather.' Rather
    than offend a sizable portion of the population, it will now be referred
    to as 'Muslim Weather.'

    In other words - 'partly Sunni, but mostly Shi'ite.

  17. The first-term Illinois senator said he told Zebari that if he wins the White House, "an Obama administration will make sure that we continue with the progress that's been made in Iraq, that we won't act precipitously."

    But he said it was important to begin a withdrawal of troops to send a signal that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is not permanent.


    At some point he will reach that John Kerry moment of the perfect cipher.

  18. “Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement. He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill.

    It begins when people stand up and take action,” Gore wrote. “With the help of millions of supporters like you, Barack Obama will bring the change we so desperately need in order to solve our country’s most pressing problems.”

    Obama focused on his plan to improve the economy while in Michigan, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate. He told a crowd in Flint, which had a seasonally unadjusted April unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, that they cannot fear globalization but must embrace it as a reality of the future.

    Gore Endorses Obama

  19. Amateurs are often governmental careerists, the two are not mutually exclusive. Indeed they are more often synonymous than not.

    Peter Cianchette is an amateur and an opportunist, as well as Mr Bush's personal representitive in Costa Rica.

    The entire discussion goes back to the hubris exhibited by the United States, in Latin America.

    I see no problem with the Trade Pact, proposed for Colombia, but I am not in a position to influence its' passage. That Mr Bush and the Country Team promised Colombia much more than they could ever deliver, pure HUBRIS.

    That they then deny responsiblity for not delivering, as promised, just passing the buck. Team43 over extended itself, and promised more than it could deliver, more HUBRIS.

  20. If we were to take the Time Tunnel back to the Nicoland elections, I think we'd find duece bemoaning the US's amateurish Ambassador and the lack of any positive impact made.

  21. I don't think I was direct enough earlier, Rat. But if you absolutely require, I can be.

    Over at tabloid socialist Al Giordano's place:

    Looking at recent polls, Obama tends to hold a small lead over McCain. It’s early, of course, and nobody needs to get their knickers in a twist about the state of the horse race. But Mike Lux raises an interesting point.

    While I am pleased that Obama has the lead, I have to admit that this gives me a new worry, which is that the campaign will get too cautious; Democratic Presidential campaigns have a history when they get a lead of starting to get cautious. It happened to the Kerry campaign when they got a small lead in the spring of 2004; it happened to the Gore campaign when they opened up a lead after the 2000 convention; it happened to the Clinton campaign/White House in 1996 when they opened up a big early lead on Dole, which had less disastrous consequences for Clinton himself, but certainly hurt the Democratic drive to retake the House; it happened to Dukakis is 1988; going way back, it even happened to Carter in 1976 as an early lead of more than 20 points shrunk to a 2-point margin in the final tally.

    He goes on to outline why Obama ought to throw caution to the wind this year which can be summed up as follows: you can’t be the change candidate if you’re the caution candidate, a narrow victory is no mandate for big change, and a conventional election favors McCain in the electoral college.

    I like Lux and think he’s a smarter bear than me but I’m going to disagree on two of those points. First, a narrow Obama win, if coupled with majorities in the house and Senate (especially sixty seats in the senate) has the potential to open huge doors of change – in fact, it’d be hard to see how sweeping Democratic policy changes don’t become at least theoretically possible.

    Second, you can be the change candidate and still run whatever campaign you need to run in order to win The big thing I see happening over the past week has been Obama slowly modulating its so-called fifty state strategy to hone in on an electoral majority. This makes a lot of sense and – if you’re serious about winning the White House – is inevitable. It’s great to put money on the ground in Kentucky but not if you lose, say, Pennsylvania by a hair. The magic number is 270. Period.

    And related to that is this. Against McCain Obama will always be able to assume the “candidate of change mantle.” There are just too many places – notably war and economic policy – where McCain really is just the Bush third term.

    But I do agree with Lux that a traditional campaign favors McCain in the electoral college. That is, I think it’s going to be a tight race there, even as Obama wins a majority of the popular vote. That’s why I remain excited about Obama’s commitment to rural voters and his obvious willingness to open up the map in new ways and keep Republicans on their heels.

    Posted on June 16th, 2008 by seanreagan

  22. At some point he will reach that John Kerry moment of the perfect cipher.


    Obama's got himself in a pickle on a couple of fronts. Iraq, now it's going better. He can declare victory, after all the dems were claiming defeat, and bring the troops home. What's he going to do about gas prices though? It's starting to hurt the economy. People are tired of $100 to fill the car. He's ruled out drilling. I don't see anything he can do to change things much, fast. He'll be raising taxes just at the wrong time. Disaster looms.

    The Chinese and Cubans are drilling an oil field that is part ours, off the coast of Florida somewheres. They'll be sucking oil that's ours, and we sit on our asses. Great policy.

  23. Be what you want to be.

    Be what you need to be.

    Fulfill the missions of your choosing

    Go party in Tijuana, for all I care.

    As usual your arguments are unconvincing, the typical buck passing of a collectivist careerist.

    Those RCP polls and maps do indicate a tight race, in the Electoral College. They may be an accurate indicator.

    In which case McCain may be within striking distance of victory. How best to achieve it, part of the debate, now.

    We should get some advise from Peter Cianchette, a real expert, at fund raising and losing elections, in Maine

  24. That Florida drilling, or lack thereof, that's Bush Policy.

    Could become Obama's policy, too.
    Time will tell, or not.

    As you say, bob, folk are getting bummed by $100 fill 'er ups.
    They'll be even more pissed come November, when it still is $100.

    What is McCain's answer to the problem?

    The window for any "quick fix" closed, when we didn't take action at the start of the War on Wahabbism.

    Shop 'til you drop, that was the Battle Plan, for US.

  25. For starters, Obama promises to nearly double the tax on capital gains and dividends, from the current 15 percent to 28 percent, repeal the Bush tax cuts for upper-income households, maintain a 45 percent "death tax" on upper-level estates, increase taxes on the "windfall profits" of oil companies, raise taxes on businesses by "closing corporate tax loopholes," and increase the amount of income that will be subject to payroll taxes.

    That's a program that's more about the Gospel of Envy than job creation or finding oil.

    Preaching Envy As Gospel

  26. Well, we've been shopping, now the other shoe is dropping,.

  27. That Florida drilling, or lack thereof, that's Bush Policy.

    I don't know the details of it. Might be Jeb's policy though. Didn't the Florida legislature have a negative view of this?

  28. Been shopping, the other shoe dropping, the bank accountant drooping....

  29. Gotta pay for the War in Iraq, some how, bob.
    It's an existential threat

    Raise fees and taxes, all the summertime soldiers and sunshine patriots should sign on to pay, willingly, happily.

  30. They sure did, bob, that GOP controlled legislature, Governor and President.
    Congress, on a bi-partisan basis, too.

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. What would happen if the Supreme Court is ignored?

  33. What would happen if all these illegal combatants are summarily executed?

  34. I'll tell what will happen. Nothing will happen.

  35. Shit moves through the pipes. Over at DailyKos:

    Will the GOP dump John McCain?
    by JedReport
    Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 08:45:16 PM PDT

    You don't hear much talk about it, but I think the chances of John McCain being dumped by the Republican party before their convention are growing by the day. To be clear, I don't think that means it is likely to happen, but I do believe that GOP operatives would be smart to quietly start considering the possibility.

    Although the polls still show a relatively close race...

    A relatively close race.

    Imagine that.

  36. Inpeachment and funding cutoffs, mat. Be the first round of recriminations, be my guess.

  37. This bizarro parallel universe only exists because we allow it to exist.

  38. "..Inpeachment and funding cutoffs.."

    By whom? Kucinich and the Kos kids?

  39. The majority of the US, as individual electors, are Democrats, mat.

    The GOP was a minority Party, even when it held the majority, in Congress.

    If te Democrats of Broward County had not designed such a poor butterfly ballot, graphicly, Pat Buchannon would have recieved a few thousand fewer votes. And Al Vore would have been President.

    For a lack of a nail, the shoe was lost. For the lack of a shoe, there went England.

  40. "The majority of the US, as individual electors, are Democrats, mat."

    Are not.

    The majority are non-electors because they don't give a shit anymore about this circus show. Which is what this has turned into.


    Also encouraging on the McCain front, there's this:

    ARLINGTON, VA — Today, McCain campaign Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann issued the following statement concerning Barack Obama's interview with ABC News:

    "Barack Obama's belief that we should treat terrorists as nothing more than common criminals demonstrates a stunning and alarming misunderstanding of the threat we face from radical Islamic extremism. Obama holds up the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 as a model for his administration, when in fact this failed approach of treating terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement rather than a clear and present danger to the United States contributed to the tragedy of September 11th. This is change that will take us back to the failed policies of the past and every American should find this mindset troubling."


    Barack Obama: "And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated. And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.' So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent w ith our laws." (ABC News, 6/16/08)

  42. Some election cycles we have a two ring circus, Mat, occasionally we have three rings, or even more. Most of the population doesn't attend the circus, though, going to the football game instead.

  43. One possible theory regarding the prevalence of clown phobia is as follows:

    Because clowns have permanent exaggerated expressions painted on their faces – usually of joy, but sometimes of sadness, it renders the observer impotent in measuring facial expression as a precursor of action.

    Therefore, for those who are mindful of their environment, possibly due to past traumatic events, they are unable to interpret and accordingly predict what this strange creature may do to them.

    This fear or clown phobia is heightened when we observe the “happy clown” performing some aggressive behaviour, tripping someone or spraying water from an innocuous looking flower in the lapel.

    It becomes too much to cope with and causes tremendous confusion and fear.

  44. Last man standing
    Yhose who stay in the arena, win.

    Those that watch, get to pay.

    Since you are neither an elector, nor a nonparticpating citizen or even resident alien, who cares what you think about what we do?

    Except as entertainment in the spirit of good fellowship

  45. "..who cares what you think about what we do?.."

    I care. We're better than that.

  46. Bob. If you've never read William Graham Sumner's The Forgotten Man, available online - do.

  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

  48. Do you folks remember that sad clown that swept up the spotlight circle? Or tried to.

    Doesn't ring a bell, that book, but I'll ask my wife and look it up, too.

  49. Carol Burnett's charwoman was a tribute to him.

    I miss that show.

  50. No state power is more fearsome than the power to imprison. Hence the habeas right has been at the heart of the centuries-long struggle to constrain governments, a struggle in which the greatest event was the writing of America's Constitution, which limits Congress' power to revoke habeas corpus to periods of rebellion or invasion.

    Is it, as McCain suggests, indefensible to conclude that Congress exceeded its authority when, with the Military Commissions Act (2006), it withdrew any federal court jurisdiction over the detainees' habeas claims?

    As the conservative and libertarian Cato Institute argued in its amicus brief in support of the petitioning detainees, habeas, in the context of U.S. constitutional law, "is a separation of powers principle" involving the judicial and executive branches. The latter cannot be the only judge of its own judgment.

    Posturing on Guantanamo

  51. "..Last man standing.."

    The game of the gamed republic. The grand vision of the American founding fathers.

  52. George Will is allowed without rebuke to quote Cato in an argument, when he becomes a libertarian.

  53. The banks are in better shape than they were at the height of the credit crunch. They are selling off their worst paper, albeit at deep discounts, and raising capital, albeit by paying a handsome price for it.

    As new capital flows in, and investors are convinced that the last shoe has dropped--that the banks have finally confessed to and booked all of their losses--the banks should be able to begin lending at a more normal pace.

    All this adds up to an economy that is treading water but not sinking, which is more than anyone thought it capable of doing just a few months ago. The stimulus checks have given the swimmer added strength, but when that boost wears off, the economy's ability to stay afloat will depend on an easing of gasoline prices, a recovery of house prices and sales, and consumers' willingness to continue shopping while telling pollsters just how gloomy they are.

    What Goes Down, Must Come Up?

  54. A Republic on the threshold of Empire, mat.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Its' the Globalists' Empire

    The Empire of America

    Which is why habeas corpus transcends security

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

  57. Yeah, Emmett Kelly, but I couldn't find a video of him doing the sweeping.

  58. Bike Naked

    These people haven't tried to ride a bike in the snow.

  59. Unfortunately, I think none may be available on the net.

  60. He tried but failed to sweep up the pool of light of a spotlight.

    Emmett Kelly

  61. McCain Says Lift The Oil Exploration Moratorium

    But fudges a little, saying it ought to be left up to the states.

  62. That was a nice thread. Sorry I missed it but what it pointed out to me is that like Hillary (and John Kerry) Obama can't be trusted. Oh yeah, you always hear run to the left in the primaries and moderate in the general but...these people are all over the map. Apparently, integrity is not important to the Democrat electorate anymore.

  63. McCain can be portrayed as all over the map as well as he has 'modified' his views to attract the Republican base.