December 24, 2005

Bush at 50% approval.

The Rasmussen poll has Bush at a 50% approval rating, up 6 points since last Sunday. (Via Instapundit.) Well, I guess Americans approve of spying on the enemy a lot more than some folks seem to have figured. Or maybe it's just holiday mellowness.


EddieP said...

Let me make it perfectly clear, I approve of spying on the enemy. I approve of Bush's conduct of the war. I also believe in the coercive power of the waterboard.

Decklin Foster said...

And egg nog! I approve of egg nog.

Jake said...

The approval jump is a direct result of the spying stories. People are happy that the President is doing what he can to protect us from massive death due to terrorists' attacks. The public is displaying a wealth of common sense on this.

This is a losing issue in more ways than one for the Democrats and the MSM.

Tom T. said...

Like you said earlier, Ann, I think it's just the act of communicating directly to the public that has boosted him. I think a lot of people consider it a significant part of the job of the President (not just Bush, but any President) to communicate his thinking to them. As long as he's doing that, his job approval goes up, to some extent independent of the particular policy choices at issue.

Aeschylus said...

...Just keep hoping they don't come for you next. As far as approval poles go, maybe W doesn't go by them but evidently other right wingers follow them like the soaps. The domestic spying story hasn't even fully broken yet. When it does, then let's take the nations temp.

Jake said...

Aesschylus: This is what is now breaking on the spy story:

"In 1972 the Supreme Court required the president to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on domestic groups but specifically declined to apply this requirement to snooping on foreign agents. Four appeals courts have since upheld presidential authority for such warrantless searches".

The Democrats and the MSM are toast.

Ann Althouse said...

Aeschylus: "As far as approval poles go, maybe W doesn't go by them but evidently other right wingers follow them like the soaps."

(Cue the jokes about "approval poles"...)

As if the lefties weren't constantly talking about the polls when Bush was down!

Ricardo said...

One of the problems with the kind of technologies of surveillance that we're talking about here, is that the products are often used for economic reasons (giving U.S. companies a competitive advantage over their overseas rivals). Using this information to weed out terrorists is just "the poster child" of a much more complicated issue. Even as an "independent" (I'm from Vermont) I have no problem with the terrorism angle. But when the results of U.S. wiretaps and other surveillance start showing up in Halliburton and other companies' boardrooms, we might want to think about whether a little more oversight is needed concerning who is receiving the information, and what they are doing with it. What a person admits to, is usually only a small fraction of what they are doing.

Jacques Cuze said...

I don't know the law. I don't from polls. But conservative, Dow Jones owned Barrons is saying we should consider impeachment.

Here's an extended quote since the source is behind a subscription wall.

Barron's calls for an investigation into the Bush administration's use of domestic surveillance as a possible impeachable offense

"AS THE YEAR WAS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, we picked up our New York Times and learned that the Bush administration has been fighting terrorism by intercepting communications in America without warrants. It was worrisome on its face, but in justifying their actions, officials have made a bad situation much worse: Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers . . .

Certainly, there was an emergency need after the Sept. 11 attacks to sweep up as much information as possible about the chances of another terrorist attack. But a 72-hour emergency or a 15-day emergency doesn't last four years . . .

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.

37921 said...

Look at what other news is breaking: Bush approved radiation monitoring to search for dirty bombs!

Who will be the first Democrat to pledge that on day one of his or her administration, all such efforts to protect the American people will cease?

PatCA said...

When Bush wasn't talking, it appeared he didn't have faith in his own war plan. How could he expect the public to believe in it if he didn't?

He's capitalizing, finally, on the mistakes of the opposition. The Dems' Vietnam-era strategy is backfiring because then Vietnam was not a direct threat to us; obviously the current enemy is.

Jacques Cuze said...

As if the lefties weren't constantly talking about the polls when Bush was down!

At 50% +/- a few points I wouldn't say he was up. Is this bounce for real? Is it poll fatigue? The holidays? Regression to the mean? Elections in Iraq? Time and distance from Katrina? Lower gas prices? A few speeches? The calm before the storm?

Is it sustainable if the news from Iraq sours? If the wiretapping scandal hits large? If heating prices skyrocket this winter? If the housing market slumps? When Rove is indicted?

I am betting though that George can identify with Jim:

Well, I’ve been down so goddamn long
That it looks like up to me
Well, I’ve been down so very damn long
That it looks like up to me
Yeah, why don’t one you people
Come on and set me free
I said, warden, warden, warden
Won’t you break your lock and key
I said, warden, warden, warden
Won’t you break your lock and key
Yeah, come along here, mister
Come on and let the poor boy be
Baby, baby, baby,
Won’t you get down on your knees
Baby, baby, baby,
Won’t you get down on your knees
Come on little darling,
Come on and give your love to me, oh yeah
Well, I’ve been down so goddamn long
That it looks like up to me
Well, I’ve been down so very damn long
That it looks like up to me
Yeah, why don’t one you people
Come on, oh come on, come on and set me free

Jake said...


You prove my point. Like other MSM, Barrons is too lazy or too stupid to learn that the Supreme Court and Federal appeals courts have ruled it is constitutional 5 different times.

ChrisO said...

First of all, other polls show his approval rating several points lower. Secondly, unless you've seen polls that specifically ask about spying, I think it's a bit of wishful thinking to pick your pet topic and apply it to the results. We had a vote in Iraq (which could soon turn to shit), increased visibility by the President and improving economic news. By what logic do you make the recent polls all about spying?

EddieP said...


Thanks for that. I hope Dr. Demento and his DNC collegues force that into the democrat platform in 2008.


There is no domestic spying scandal to be disclosed. The nation has already seen it and it's a loser. See 37921's comment.

The democrats continue to believe they can get away with running on Bush bad, and don't need to come up with any ideas of their own.

AJD said...

Ann, If you actually think this six point difference means anything real, then you are dimmer than the tiny lights on my tree.

Wishful thinking, undoubtedly.

But hey, wish for whatever you want for Christmas. You can even wish we had an intelligent president who knew what he was doing! I sure wish we did.

DEC said...

I have done business around the world for 30 years. Numerous governments--the French, the Egyptians, the Chinese, etc.--listen to my phone calls and read my faxes and emails at times. It is a fact of life in the global marketplace.

I wonder why I seldom read stories in the American press about the corporate espionage activities of foreign governments. For example, the French have spied on U.S. executives to help French companies.

Goatwhacker said...

Quxxo, is that Barron editorial from their editorial board or from an individual columnist? It sounds out of character for Barron's and I don't have a way to access the original editorial.

tiggeril said...

What, no cookies?

Jacques Cuze said...

According to the comments at The Big Picture,

The Op/Ed was ... written ... by THOMAS G. DONLAN, who is the conservative editor of the Opinions page.
Posted by: Bruce Sherman | Dec 24, 2005 10:17:39 AM

Other than that, I really don't know.

Ann Althouse said...

"wiretapping scandal"

I really don't think this is the way most people are seeing it. I think the Bush opponents have misread the politics here. Most people wanted the government to do more to avert terrorist attacks after 9/11, to find better ways to identify plots in advance. Bush took that very seriously. And we haven't had another terrorist attack. I think people are very grateful for that. And that doesn't mean people don't value their rights. They are just assessing their rights in context, and the context is that we know there is a extremely vicious enemy trying to kill us, inside at home. Old ideas about "domestic spying" do not fit the new situation in which the enemy working within our borders, planning its attacks.

Aeschylus said...

The question is "why circumvent?" ...and the answer (stay tuned) is why the ultra-right is toast.

reader_iam said...

"Dimmer than the tiny lights on my Christmas tree"?

What an opportunistic little swipe. Maybe you should get some bigger, brighter lights.

Ho Ho Ho

Aeschylus said...

Also chriso,

recent new housing sales stats show biggest decline since the early 80's. I hate to burst the fascist' bubble but it looks a lot like the bubble is bursting. When the ditto-heads all lose their shirts, then let's take a pole.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Between Thankgiving and Christmas, from like first grade forward, I would blow off the whole month under a delusional holiday euphoria. (Only to suffer later when grades for the marking period appeared, causing spankings all around...all around my bum that is).

Since polls exist as snapshots in time, and of people, they are kind of meaningless. Bush is benefiting from a number of factors, including better communication and the general holiday atmosphere. Closer attention might be paid by people after the holidays, when boredom and bills and the piper come calling.

Ricardo you say:One of the problems with the kind of technologies of surveillance that we're talking about here, is that the products are often used for economic reasons (giving U.S. companies a competitive advantage over their overseas rivals).

Please give an example, and since you mentioned Halliburton, please tell me exactly what information Halliburton received and how it might be helpful to them.

If anything, Eschelon and other systems have been used to prevent foreign companies and governments from using bribes to corrupt the business process, and it would be hard to prove that we are also stealing technology or other proprietary information.

Jacques Cuze said...

wiretapping scandal....I really don't think this is the way most people are seeing it.

To be honest, I don't visit here to find out how most people see this. I come here to learn more about what a Constitutional Law Professor thinks about this.

Was this legal or not? Is Glenn Greenwald's argument correct or not? Virtually no serious Bush defenders claim any longer that the Administration's warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens was authorized by FISA. To the contrary, FISA expressly prohibited such surveillance. Thus, to defend George Bush they must literally claim that the President has the right during "wartime" to violate Congressional statutes which relate to national security. and The Supreme Court already rejected the Bush legal defenses

And if this wasn't legal, does it fall into the realm of high crime and misdemeanor?

Your core-competency, your value-add is in using your education to describe these facts to the people, not in providing your beliefs on what the people are thinking.

Finally, I have to say, as a Jew, as a Computer Scientist and Engineer, as a civil libertarian, I find this statement of yours Old ideas about "domestic spying" do not fit the new situation in which the enemy working within our borders, planning its attacks truly scary and not at all justified by the facts or the evidence you present.

Good Kwanzaa to you, my dear.

The Drill SGT said...

The American people have a good degree of common sense. The Iraq elections went off reasonably well and violence around the country is down. Overall economic news has been very good. These NSA and radiation monitoring stories are perceived one way by the media elites and quite the reverse by main street. Listening to AQ phones making international calls into the US seems reasonable. The same with rad monitoring in major cities. Last time I looked the EPA didn't need a warrant to take downstream or downwind samples of water or air pollution. Clearly radiological contamination is orders of magnitude more important. The reasonable man says, "I don't have a dirty bomb in my basement, go ahead and monitor.

I'm surprised I guess that this is news to people. I live in the DC area and folks know that there are radiation monitors on the incoming highways, within the metro system, etc. I think most folks would not have it any other way after 9/11. To find out that we have vehicle mounted gamma rad detectors making drive by's of locations of interest on a regular basis seems within my level of civil liberties threshold of pain, considering the alternative. The detectors after all could only detect what should not be there under any circumstances.

As someone said earlier in the week: For the President not to have employed radiation monitoring, given the potential downside risk, would seem to be an impeachable dereliction of duty, not the reverse. Let the Dems try to make an issue on this and they'll get eaten alive. I bet that not a single potential Dem Pres candidate in 08 comes out saying that they would stop the NSA or Rad monitoring.

Polls don't matter much, but if Bush got a little bump, it may mean that the MSM will take the Poll story off the front page for a few weeks and that is a good thing.

Jacques Cuze said...

Imagine, sung by Liel, 40 Arabic and 40 Jewish Children, and a very special world leader

Greetings to you on this Solstice.

Jacques Cuze said...

Ann, help the President increase his approval ratings. Use your blog to urge the President to take an action that only the President can take, releasing the innocent Uighurs we have held captive at Gitmo for over four years, nine months past acknowledging their innocence.

the judge who is hearing their case issued an extraordinary decision.

In it, the judge reached two conclusions. The first is that the detention of Qassim and al-Hakim is illegal:

"The detention of these petitioners has by now become indefinite. This indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."

The second is that there is nothing he can do about it


The reason Judge Robertson is unwilling to order their release into this country, even in the sort of 'bubble' he describes (essentially, a legal fiction designed to let them remain in the country until such time as we find a better place for them without deeming them to have 'entered', for e.g. immigration purposes), is that he is unwilling to trespass on the rights of the Executive. The Executive branch obviously does not need to worry about this: their actions cannot, logically, impinge on their own prerogatives. They could order Qassim and al-Hakim released tomorrow.

Ann, this is an issue that goes directly to both the President's approval ratings as well as to your expertise and education as a Constitutional Law Professor.

Ann, be the first Constitutional Law Professor Blogger to use her blog to appeal to the President for release of these two men.

michael a litscher said...

quxxo: Imagine, sung by Liel, 40 Arabic and 40 Jewish Children, and a very special world leader

A "very special world leader" under whom echelon and carnivore were implemented, and the clipper chip proposed. Very special, indeed.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yes, I was and am upset about those technologies too, although I suspect that Ann would say that Bill was just being prescient and reiterate that Old ideas about "domestic spying" do not fit the new situation in which the enemy working within our borders, planning its attacks.

Anyway, the link to the complete Barron's editorial calling for impeachment of the Imperial Chimp is here.

Enjoy. Feel free to print it out and share it with your friends at your Christmas dinner.

Old Dad said...


Your link suggests that we will find a Barrons editorial arguing for impeachment of the President. It is not. Rather we find an op-ed by Thomas G. Donlan, Barrons' editorial page editor.

I have no idea what Donlan's politics are and neither do you. Moreover, you claim that Barrons' is a conservative organ, but you offer no evidence. Even if that were the case, Mr. Donlan's opinions do not speak for Barrons anymore than David Brooks' speak for the New York Times.

And precisely why should we care what Donlan thinks other than he apparently agrees with you? That's not a credential.

One more thing--take the chimp crap to Daily Kos where it belongs.

Aeschylus said...

old dad is pretty emphatic in telling others where things belong and what requires evidence. It sounds as if he's spun off of one of Rush’s “I hate liberals” rants. I think old dad would be a more apt feature on Daily Kos -- as a parodied typical ultra-right wing useful idiot.

Stacy said...

Yeah, I guess Americans just don't give a damn this holiday season- they don't give a damn that they have a President who orders the violation of federal law (and likely the Constitution) so long as everything sounds good.

So I guess as long as his approval rating is 50% everything is A-OK? We should only be concerned if it dips down in the low 40's and then we'll start talking seriously about abuse of the executive branch?

And the left loves polls when Bush is down and you guys on the Right love them when they go up- nothing ever changes.

And for those of you talking about how Bush is "protecting the american people" and clearly assuming that anyone who objects to this warrantless spying (ie. complying with the laW)- you don't know if this is protecting you or not and you can be damn sure if this was Clinton you'd all have yelled for impeachment a long time ago. Hypocrites.

But if Bush says he's protecting you, then he's protecting you, right?

Why is it that the Right doesn't seem to "get" that it is possible to fight the enemy and comply with the law and Constitution? After all, we are a nation of laws. But the Right loves the law only when its a democrat breaking it I guess.

All Bush has to do to get support from the Right is claim that whatever he is doing is being done in the name of "protecting Americans"- you know, that's a worthy goal but history has shown us that that can quickly become a blanket excuse. A lot of bad things have been done in the name of maintaining security. And I am wondering, is there anything Bush could do in terms of violating the law or Constitution that would upset you guys? So far, I think not. Again, so long as it's Bush, it's ok.

But lying under oath about a private sexual affair? Impeachable.


And someone said the SCOTUS and appeals court have ruled on this five different times and approved it? Please. You need to look at the actual facts of the case and distinguish between foreign and domestic spying and the use of wiretaps as they pertain to the situation. They most certainly have not approved of the wholesale violation of federal law as part of some halfbaked notion of limitless executive power. And I guess the conservative legal scholar Bruce Fein has it all wrong then- maybe you should email him all that precedent that he isn't aware of.

But hey, its all a big liberal media conspiracy right? If anything bad comes out in print, it couldnt possibly be true, its just those billion dollar corporate news entities that are OH SO LIBERAL. What a joke. The media spends more time kissing this administration's ass....

DEC said...

By all means, impeach George Bush. Then you would get Dick Cheney as President. A Cheney presidency would make Bush look like a limp-wristed liberal.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: As I have written about on the blog and talked about in the podcast, I deliberately avoid writing about some constitutional law questions here, specifically, complicated issues I haven't studied in depth. I can't write about FISA, for one thing, other than, as I already have, to say that it is difficult and that the President has war powers that Congress can't take away by statute. From what I can tell of the President's interception of phone calls from suspected enemies outside the country, I tend to think it's constitutional. Your impression that constitutional experts just know the answers is wrong. We know how to think about the issues and argue about them. When we spout the answers confidently at the beginning of a controversy, that's when you should suspect us of just doing politics.

Stacy said...

The "iraqi elections went reasonably well"?

Yeah, I guess if you want Iraq divided among ethnic groups, tilting towards civil war and controlled by islamofascists who are more supportive of Iran then they are a unified Iraq, then yes, they went "reasonably well". Israel must not be too pleased with the election results right about now.

And neocon poster boy Chalabi is claiming widespread election fraud because he got less than 1% of the vote and wants the UN to come in and play referee.

Jacques Cuze said...

Thank you for your response Ann, especially tonight. Truly (I really am being sincere here), I am not asking you for the "answer". I truly think the public would be served (and you would add more value to your blog) if you just pointed out what you felt the issues were, and how one might go about arguing them.

As an example, if your first inclination is that what George Bush is doing is constitutional, then what is your first inclination as to where Glenn Greenwald has gone offtrack?

May your celebration of the Klingon Reunification be honorable and full of blood.

Stacy said...

"I can't write about FISA, for one thing, other than, as I already have, to say that it is difficult and that the President has war powers that Congress can't take away by statute."

FISA is actually pretty straightforward. And in relation to this situation, what war powers are you referring to? A general power to do what he wants in the name of national security, wihtout any judicial or congressional oversight? Cafeful what you wish for folks, one day a democrat may be in office and I am betting you guys will be the first ones to be bitching and moaning about abuse of executive privilege.

And as you probably know, not all the warrantless surveillance involved foreign/international communications and the WaPo had an article today discussing how the administration requested telecommunications companies divert their purely domestic calls/communications through international channels to allow eavesdropping on domestic communications. That's a nice twist, isn't it? Basically, they are data mining. In addition, the administration wanted the wording of the resolution to grant him more executive authority and we now know Congress rejected that wholesale.

First the Right argued that the administration's actions complied with federal law and when that was shot down they claimed that the september 2001 authorization gave them the authority- almost every legal scholar I have heard discuss this, says that is stretching executive powers beyond its breaking point and nothing in the wording of the authorization of force would lead anyone to reasonably conclude what the administration is trying to suggest. Then the Justice Dept actually came out and said the requirements for FISA were just too onerous.


Jacques Cuze said...

Oh, and I really do urge you to look at the Uighur issue and use your blog to encourage the President to release the two. This really is something that only the President can do, and itwould be a win-win for everyone, the President, the individuals, and the country.

(Martin Sheen and Gina Davis would have corrected this situation long before now!)

Aeschylus said...


I’m no constitutional lawyer either but:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

seems pretty clear to me. Congress doesn’t have the power to unilaterally amend the constitution (even if they had authorized as alleged). All the hemming and hawing from those who would defend an inept president to the peril of the Constitution will be seen for the enemies of the people that they are.

Art said...

The column in Barrons, regardless of whether it's an editorial or not, is significant.
Impeachment has been more or less a taboo subject outside of the leftist blogosphere.

Why did it come up in Barron's?

The market craves stability. For there to be even questions about impeachment at the same time as the leadership in congress is sweating over whether lobbyists under indictment will spill their guts is not a stable situation.

Today's NY Times story is an indication that there are people fairly high up in the intelligence establishment who do not want this story to go away.

If we were under a parlimentary form of government this could be solved with a vote of no confidence and an election.

The only way out of the current situation is impeachment proceedings to determine whether there's cause to remove the administration and/or a decision by the Republican caucus that the current leadership does not serve the party's and the country's interest.

Ann Althouse said...

Aeschylus: The 4th amendment question is easier than the separation of powers one. I think the argument that in the context the search is not unreasonable is quite strong. There is no requirement that all searches be pursuant to a warrant, only that there be probable cause for warrants. There are many situations in which no warrant is required, and this ought to fit. The main separation of powers problem has to do with the scope of FISA and the grant of power to fight the war on terrorism versus the President's own powers (if there is a conflict). As I've said before, I think Congress ought to put up or shut up here. The rest is politics. If they really think the President has gone beyond the statutory grant, let them make an explicit statute saying so. They won't, of course. I'd like to see them pass a statute making the power explicit. If they won't act, the President should keep doing what he has analyzed as the correct response under the law and the circumstances. You may not agree with his legal analysis, but it is his and part of his role is to interpret the laws as he takes actions. He took an oath to uphold the Constitution and is bound by it, and no court has told him otherwise.

Old Dad said...


I find you tedious, but here goes.

"old dad is pretty emphatic in telling others where things belong and what requires evidence."

quxxo qualifies as an "other." The rhetorical use of evidence has been taught in grammar schools for hundreds of years. I assume you attended one and understand this point.

AllenS said...

You're a very patient person, Ann. A lot of us appreciate that very, very much.

Aeschylus said...

This is the same kind tortured prose that has become a hallmark of the ultra-right. Unreasonable means (constructivism) without reason. It doesn’t mean this entire exercise (the Constitution) is open to interpretation relative to your values and the rhetoric of the day. I always go back to the question -- what is it that is motivating the circumvention? It is clearly not the paperwork for the administration could have a battalion of army clerk typist on it at the stroke of a pen. So I can only conclude that the issue IS that these cases don’t rise to the legal threshold of constitutional probable cause.

Aeschylus said...

allens is a man of few (pompous-pious) words.

Aeschylus said...

old dad engages in personal attack, then finds other "tedious". I know that you just hate how bothersome the truth can be.

Ann Althouse said...

Aeschylus: "Unreasonable" necessarily refers to the circumstances. And you seem to be in denial about the reality that not all searches require a warrant. Really, read some case law and get some education before just spouting off.

Aeschylus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aeschylus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Aeschylus: I took the trouble to write answers for you, but you're obviously not interested in reasonable discussion. You've wasted my time. You've been in bad faith. You are a troll. Expect your future efforts to be deleted, that is, you will be wasting your time.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

That aeschylus dude sure was rude. I mean -- damn.

The Drill SGT said...


I'm not a lawyer, but I sleep with one (my wife), so that must give me tremendous insights on the subject of warrants and searches. Let me try from a layman's perspective.

1. probable cause is required for obtaining a warrant

2. Not all reasonable searches require warrants. examples:

a. police do not require a warrant to search a person who they take into custody for weapons, and drugs, etc. The weapons reason should be obvious. absent a search, lives may be at risk. The drugs example is similar, it prevents the introduction of drugs into the controlled detention environment.

b. TSA does not require a warrant to screen and search airline passengers. Numerous courts have determined that the "good" of public safety outweighs the privacy right of an individual in the exercise of a voluntary decision (to fly) on their part.

c. EPA does not need a warrant to sample water, air and even noise pollution in the interest of safeguarding the public.

d. (a military example here) Commanders can conduct "health and welfare" inspections (w/o warrants) and search physically and with drug dogs, the barracks areas of their units as long as the search is uniform and not focused on specific persons of interest.

I could go on.... The point is, that government performs reasonable warrantless searches all the time within the context of law and the constitution.

PS: Aeschylus, Quxxo, Old dad, etal. with regard to the Baron's Op Ed, recently there was a UCLA Poli Sci study that attempted to look at media bias. The results were that there are quantifiable left leaning trends in the MSM, but in this context, the WSJ (owner of Baron's) was found to have the most liberal news pages even though the editorials were much more Conservative. I don;t know if this impacts the specific op-ed.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

the drill sgt,

Seems “probable cause” is a consistent issue and I think what Aeschylus was trying to say before he was axed was W is circumventing precisely on cases which do not rise to that standard.

The Drill SGT said...

And my point is that there are lots of cases where the government can conduct a reasonable and legal search without probable cause (and without a warrant) in the interest of public safety and welfare.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

Oh, sorry, TSA’s are with consent. EPA is not an issue – not even my water yet, in the reservoir, and no expectation of privacy on grey-matter discharge. Also EPA has no rearrest authority. Military is with contractual consent.

XWL said...

So, which old troll is the new troll, "Aeschylus"?

The Rasmussen Robo-polls have been the most accurate reflection of public sentiment and during the 2004 election had a much better record in predicting both percentage and outcome in the Presidential election compared to the MSM's polls.

The President will continue to be unpopular with the 'Chimpy McBu$hHitler' crowd, and not only unpopular but worthy of all sorts of scorn, contempt, and the rest.

That many media outlets choose to align themselves with the 'Chimpy' brigade is sad. That academia births these dolts is unsurprising given their continued (decades long) hostility towards values, enterprise, patriotism and peace through strength.

So far the majority of people (outside of the largest urban centers anyway) know that we are in for a decades long conflict with an evil foe with many faces and many factions but one goal, our destruction (President Ahmedinejad may look sort of like Jamie Farr, but he talks like Hitler)

Surveilling folks within our borders (citizens or not) who have knowingly, or even unwittingly, contacted operatives within Al Qaeda or a related organization, is not only reasonable, but to do otherwise is suicidal.

All this talk of excesses and Big Brother-ism has usually stemmed from false reports like the little red book incident.

I hope this debate continues all the way till election time. Nothing would be better for Republicans (outside of a few places where Kool-Aid flows like tapwater)

And prominent law Prof. Cass Sunstein (who from now on will probably be accused of being a neo-con) voices guarded support for the administration's position.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

Aeschylus just IMed me and said that is "open enrollment" like W's southern boarder and that she could get in whenever she wanted to.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

"...know that we are in for a decades long conflict with an evil foes..."

I'm always worried that people that talk like this are about to tell me what a wonderful imaginary friend they have in Jesus.

TopCat said...


I had to pay $605 a credit to go to law school, I think you should cut off these trolls a lot earlier than you do in providing them a free education.

As far as Dow Jones/Barrons being the voice of the left; Alex Cockburn used to have a column in the WSJ, the most vicious and unfair attacks on Clarence Thomas were published by hard-left feminist reporters in the WSJ. The Journal routinely hires people many notches further to the left than the legacy MSM would to the right.

As to the politics of the Dems running like stampeding lemmings to out-protect the "civil liberties" of terrorists' phone privacy or dirty bomb storage, I don't think it's going to play very well in 2006.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

Sure you did topcat. And I married a Kennedy. Also, I'm an NSA officer.

DEC said...

Re: Barron's

Most publications focus on their audience/readership. New York City is liberal, and the New York Times is liberal.

Barron's staff writes for business executives. Most executives are pragmatists, not left-wing or right-wing political idealists.

In addition, a significant percentage of business executives are libertarian. In the words of Cato Institute, they believe in "Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace."

For a libertarian businessperson, the surveillance issue is a step away from "individual liberty and limited government."

An interesting exercise is to look at the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune on the same day. Both are owned by the New York Times. The Times serves a New York City audience. The Herald Tribune serves an international audience (many of them world-class American business executives). The two publications often package the same day's news in a very different way.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

Wow, what a revelation -- bias in the press. I'm astonished

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

I think the press hates W so much because his whole presidency has been about manufacturing opportunity for big oil while wrapping himself in the flag. One “intelligence failure”, I might have bought, but George lies sooo much. This time, not event his fellow elected republicans are backing him up.

DEC said...

Aeschylus = Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T

panther33 said...

I think the actual legality or illegality of the program is somewhat beside the point. Politically this issue is big loser for the Dems. Bush knows this, hence his speech: "You're damn right I ordered the Code Red". If it turns out some rules were broken, Bush can say "We were trying to catch terrorists and neglected to file some paperwork. So sorry". I really don't see how this rings W down unless he's been having the NSA tape John Kerry's phone calls to Howard Dean.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

dec = (_/o\_)**

brylin said...

Bush hits the magic 50% and all the Angry Left trolls have to vent somewhere.

And remember this is 50% approval, whereas the Dem approval rate is about 32%.

So Bush is really ahead of the Dems by 18% or so, and increasing his lead.

And all the while the Dems don't control anything - no House, no Senate - no Presidency, nothing. Shut out. And their last Senate Minority Leader was removed by the voters. Of the largest states, California, Texas, New York, Florida, all Republican governors.

It must be very depressing for Aeschylus and his multiple personalities.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

Ultra-right is nervous so they must comfort each other with mutual masterbation.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

What is the ultra-right nervous about? The pendulum swings both ways and when it comes to the left again, there’s an awful lot of new precedent that the democrats will be calling on.

Its_Me_Its_Me_Its_Ernest_T said...

brylin = bi one

brylin said...

Early indications based on census projections are that Red states will pick up another 5 House seats after 2010 (at the expense of Blue states).

With losses in 2000, 2002 and 2004, the Democratic party is desperate for a winning year. If 2006 and 2008 result in further Republican victories, the Democratic party may become extinct.

Remember the Whigs? How about the 3 Progressive Parties? The Federalist Party? The Democratic-Republican Party?

Nothing lasts forever.

gj said...

It's disappointing to me that a constitution scholar sees this issue as a way to score political points and imply that Democrats don't want to protect Americans from terrorism. There is a much deeper issue here having to do with separation of powers, accountability of the executive branch, and the utter disregard that the current executive branch appears to feel towards the legislative branch of government.

Conservatives (at least the old fashioned kind) as well as liberals have expressed concern about this. I really hope that Americans are able to understand enough about the structure of their government to see that this is more than a question of whether "you are for us or for the terrorists."

It's about accountability, and having an executive branch that is willing to regard and respect the will of the people as expressed through the legislature.

We need more people who are willing to understand the details of what happened, rather than dumbing the issue down into purely jingoistic terms.

Ann Altmouse said...

I think it is so wonderful and nonpartisan of Ann Althouse to crow about a poll showing an improvement in Bush's numbers. It is so thrilling to see someone like her who is able to transcend petty day-to-day politics in such a totally convincing fashion.

Nobody else on the entire Internet cheerleads for Bush in such a delightfully nonpartisan way.

Palladian said...

Wow, Ann, you have a stalker!

panther33 said...

No matter what "constitution scholars" say about this business, the public will view the lack of warrants as a technicality. Hence the polls. I think Mickey Kaus said that if the Dems keep pushing this, Bush will hit 60%. For their own good they should shut up.

Jeffrey said...

"Ann Altmouse,"

Do I smell BDS or is that a new fragrance for Christmas ordered from the Kos Katalogue?


Bruce Hayden said...

I just waded through some 200 comments on about whether or not this NSA program violates FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), esp. given AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force). In the end though, after all that, by innumerable lawyers arguing about it, it comes down to the fact that this NSA program has been going on at least since 1967, that most of the presidents since then have claimed the power to do so, that this is arguably not domestic, but foreign, surveilance, and that, as of yet, and there is no indication that any cognizable harm has been done by it.

A better case can be made that President Bush would be impeachable if he forbade the NSA from engaging in this type of surveilance.

We are at war. Most of the people understand this. The courts understand this. And there is absolutely no chance that the courts will ultimately keep the President and his administration from continuing this surveilance. If he doesn't win on AUMF, he wins on Article II War Powers. But as one of the commenters pointed out, the courts are going to aviod addressing the later (as it is essentially a Separation of Powers problem), which means giving him the win on the former.

DEC said...

Seriously, Bruce Hayden,thank you for the concise "executive summary" of the comments at the Volokh site. I really didn't feel like wading through them. Your overview was helpful to me.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add a link to the DOJ letter to Congress, etc.

The letter essentially says that we are at war, terrorists killed thousands here on 9/11, that this is important in keeping that from happening again, that it is the President's duty to continue this program, and that it is backed by the AUMF and Article II.

Against this, there was a lot of hair splitting, trying to explain why FISA was being violated. And, indeed, even a claim that the loss of civil liberties supposedly caused by this program was more important than meeting this threat.

In short, a losing argument for the Democrats. The more they try to make the case that this program is illegal, the more the President's approval ratings are going to climb. I see very little compassion on the part of most Americans for anyone in the U.S. who is communicating over seas with Al Qaeda. Trying to protect these people just makes the Democrats look weak on National Defense.

Sloanasaurus said...

Everything is an impeachable offense if Congress is in the mood to impeach.

However, impeaching a leader for trying to defend the country is suicide (and more than just political suicide). The Greeks committed this error several times. One would hope we still have memory of history's lessons.

The media elites keep lowering expectations for Bush by constantly publishing negative news. Bush's ratings were bound to go up.

The spy case is a loser for democrats. Its fun to be a crtic, but if Dems force the public to actually make a CHOICE, i.e. decide! between someone who will use warrantless searches to defend the country and one who will not, the public will go with the former - its human nature. This is why the NY Times did not publish the story a year ago. I would have locked Bush in for the election.

Now people know whay there hasn't been another attack... and it hasn't been Al Qaeda's lack of trying.... its stuff like warrantelss wire taps.

david bennett said...

From what I can tell of the President's interception of phone calls from suspected enemies outside the country, I tend to think it's constitutional.

Well it was admitted several days ago that some of the conversations were "wholly domestic."

And in the past many of us have assumed some sort of protection for any elecronic message in which one party is domestic or even a citizen.

The adminstration has argued that the 72 hours that a tap can be put in place without a warrant is insufficient, one does want to see the logic of this, it would seem that if a tap can be placed immediately on the judgement of an officer that this would be sufficient to react to emergencies.

What exactly are the limits and prptections built into current practices? The implication is that citizens can have their electronic corrospondence monitored indefinitely without approval by a judge.

As with so much else the move from the right seems to try and frame this within the standard partisan dualism.

In fact many on both sides of the aisle are concerned, there are some basic issues to be explored and they need to be worked out.

Certainly if president Clinton had assumed such powers based on the threat of the militia movement and the far right (which in Gillary's conception stretched to Limbaugh) there would be concern. Since the far right does have a history of planning terrorism (I remember as achild the Minuteman had a plan in place for putting gas down the vent of buildings) and a long history of terrorism (remember according to FBI reports their bombings exceeded those of the left even in the sixties and seventies) with quite a few dead cops on the wayside and of course OKC...

However it would be overreaction. And we need to know why this choice was deemed necessary.

Similarly we need to know why the recent revelations would in fact empower terrorists. They know NSA capacity is extensive. If they studied our system they would know that our security agencies can begin spying immediately and that in almost all cases a warrant is granted. Indeed given their tendency to conspiracy they probably believe we spy on everyone without warrant. That's what they would do.

So I'm not sure how this effects them, if sensible they were already paranoid.

If someone had announced that we had cracked pgp, controlled the annoymous remailers and freenet that would be arguably a severe security breach.

Why is a system that removes a judge from the process more effective?

Personally I don't feel the question has been answered yet. Members of both parties are exploring it.

If the answers are not satisfactory the adminstration will suffer consequences, including many from the libertarian and traditional conservative wings of the party.

This is how the system works.

As far as I can make out the legal issues are ambiguous. The activity may have been legal. But it is a sign of strength in the system that it is being clarified.

Bruce Hayden said...

But it is often not good strategically that this sort of thing be clarified.

The problem is that if it is clarified, then it can be more easily exploited by our enemies.

Let us take the hypothetical that our government announced that it wouldn't record any conversation between someone in this country and someone outside without a warrant.

So, Osama on the Afganistan / Pakistan border wants to talk with Musab in Iraq. Obviously he can't call direct, since he knows that the NSA, et al. have been trying to track him down for years. So, he calls a friend in the U.S., who uses three-way calling to connect him with Musab in Iraq. Each week, a different friend, not going back to the first until any U.S. wire tap warrents would have expired.

If this were a criminal justice problem, then clarification would be to our best interests. But this is war, and a little strategic fuzziness is to our best interests in keeping our enemies off balance.

bearbee said...

I understand any investigation into Bush Administration use of the National Security Agency might extend into the Norad Santa Tracking system....something about Rudolf's nose and radiation detectors. Sheesh ya just never know.....


The Private intellectual. said...

Of course, other polls put him at considerably lower in the public's rating.

I guess you can pick and choose ...

Jacques Cuze said...
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brylin said...

Quxxo: If you are serious in your curiosity regarding these issues, read these: Orin Kerr, Eugene Volokh, and Kyllo. Also read liberal law professor Cass Sundstein.

Merry Christmas!

Jacques Cuze said...

What do 450 Law Professors know that Law Professor Althouse does not?

Robert said...

I was just wondering what you guys though would likely be the outcome when the Roberts SCOTUS does repeal Roe v. Wade. Do you think Main Street Joe is going to say that we don’t need these social conservatives telling us what to do when our underage daughters get pregnant and finally stop voting for them?

BINGO said...

I say screw them. W's just going to get more popular no matter what. I love him. He is the best president in history. I think he should round up all muslims and deport them -- to make us feel safer.

Robert said...

Oha, like that would be legal. Ann!?

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brylin said...

Quxxo: 2% of all law professors sign a paper and it's significant? And it's a list of all the regular lefties, for example, Tribe. Have any of them published a legal analysis?

If you are serious, in addition to the links I gave you in the previous comment, here's something else to read. (Be sure to check out footnotes 8 and 20.)

Best wishes!

brylin said...

goober_snatcher: You should check out the link I posted above, especially footnote 20.

brylin said...

goober_snatcher: A little background info about Suzanne Spaulding:

"The intelligence committees depend on a strong staff for much of their information, and Suzanne Spaulding fills that role nicely for the Democrats on the House Select Committee on Intelligence."

Ann Althouse said...

Please stop copying long excerpts! Just post short quotes and links. I've deleted two comments for this reason. Have some respect for the rights of the writers.

Jacques Cuze said...

Well, I posted an excerpt along with a post to the original. I am guessing that Steve Chapman would be okay with that excerption that calls attention to his complete essay describing our reckless executive.

Here's four paragraphs of fifteen that convey the flavor. I encourage you Ann to read the whole thing.

President Bush is a bundle of paradoxes. He thinks the scope of the federal government should be limited but the powers of the president should not. He wants judges to interpret the Constitution as the framers did, but doesn't think he should be constrained by their intentions.


But the theory boils down to a consistent and self-serving formula: What's good for George W. Bush is good for America, and anything that weakens his power weakens the nation. To call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors.

Even people who should be on Bush's side are getting queasy. David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, says in his efforts to enlarge executive authority, Bush "has gone too far."
What we have now is not a robust executive but a reckless one. At times like this, it's apparent that Cheney and Bush want more power not because they need it to protect the nation, but because they want more power. Another paradox: In their conduct of the war on terror, they expect our trust, but they can't be bothered to earn it.

Ann, I have great respect for the rights of authors, as well for the public's right to fair use.

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. -— Thomas Jefferson

Robert said...

I think it is particularly interesting that the administration keeps (kept) droning on about how “this is a secret program” and how “discussing it, even now, is hurting America” when the only information that was not already open source was that W is circumvented FISA. I know that likening them (the W people) to the Nazis is now cliché but I really get the feeling that their strategy is simply to repeat their repertoire of misinformation until a) some of it sticks and b) those actually interested in what the truth is become tired of refuting it or c) they (those interested in the truth) are discredited or silenced by other means.

Goatwhacker said...

At times like this, it's apparent that Cheney and Bush want more power not because they need it to protect the nation, but because they want more power.

I've come to the conclusion that whenever an author says something is apparent, clear or obvious there is a better than even chance that it's not. Bush may well have gone too far and it looks like we need to have this discussion, but Chapman assigns a motive to Cheney and Bush that is not supported by the body of his editorial.

Robert said...

Right, right goatwhacker – I suspect much more malicious motives.

Goatwhacker said...

Right, right goatwhacker – I suspect much more malicious motives.

Can you elaborate?

Robert said...

WE go around a lot on this slog of a blog questioning evidence and analyzing what is supported. I’m a mathematician by training and make my living weaving definitions and axioms and coffee into objective truths. But as the old sage is quoted as saying – life don’t work like that. Many assertions have their root in patterns, in facial expressions, in unanswered questions, in exposed lies. On the one hand, this is (clearly) and oil presidency – bought and paid for. Second, we go to Iraq waving the anti-terror banner when N. Korea has emerged as the principle “evil axis” player and while we’re at it, we are real sorry about all the cherry picking we call intelligence despite all the findings from the community that questioned the administrations assertions. Take your right wing bent and pseudo-Ph.D lingo back to Rush. I think we can all see through you.

Goatwhacker said...

Sorry goober, bad guess, I rarely listen to Limbaugh. As for the pseudo-PhD lingo, sorry again, it's just the way I talk.

Anyway, I read through your response again and still can't tell what you feel Bush and Cheney's motives are.

Robert said...

Frankly, I believe that there motives are to manufacture opportunity for U.S. oil interest. Also, I believe your mother lactates vinegar and puss. But what do I know?

Goatwhacker said...

How do you feel the wiretaps would aid U.S. oil interests?

Robert said...

Goes to subduing middle-eastern sovereigns. Isn’t that the whole point? …maybe domestic adversaries (stay tuned, we'll see). Sorry about the “your mother” comment. It’s Christmas. I’m drunk. This is the fallacy of logic -- insultare la madre. You might not even have a mother.

ChrisO said...

It's interesting how many commenters state categorically that "Main Street" or "ordinary Americans" support the President's domestic spying, yet I have yet to see anyone present a shred of evidence supporting that idea. Presenting a poll that shows Bush's approval ratings going up (much higher than most other polls) then claiming that the poll indicates support for whichever of the President's policies you favor is hardly evidence. Could someone please show what these categorical statements are based on?

And it's a little distressing to see people who are devoted to Constitutional law using public opinion as justification for Constitutional issues. I'm not a Constitutional scholar, but I do believe that the process of amending the Constitution was deliberately made difficult, so the document would be protected from the momentary passions of public opinion. I realize we're not talking about amending here, but deciding that the executive can ignore the Consitution because an inflamed, fearful public wants it serves much the same purpose. There are compelling Constitutional issues here, and Bush may yet prove to be in the right. But "everyone supports him" is hardly a compelling Constitutional argument.

I also think "we're at war" is a very unconvincing argument. The war on terror is a war on a tactic. The administration has pretty much declared that bin Laden no longer matters. So who are we at war with, and when do we know we've won? Are we in more danger now than when we had the world's second largest superpower with nuclear missiles aimed at all of our major cities? Can't we always point to dangers that we're facing? I'm not trying to minimize the fact that we're battling the terrorists, but it seems almost any President could point to circumstances requiring that he supercede the Constitution, if the only criteria is that there are people in the world who would like to destroy us.

I'm also a little tired of hearing that there hasn't been another attack on our soil since 2001 as some kind of justification for Bush's actions. The first attack on the World Trade Center took place in 1993. There wasn't another attack on our soil for the remainder of Clinton's term. So I guess we can all agree that Clinton was even more effective fighting terror than Bush. Agreed?

David said...

Some advice to the "non-believers, apostates, and infidels" who are all represented in the U.S. We need to spend as much time thinking like a terrorist as we do discussing the niceties of the Constitution and the practical application of law.

1. Al Qaeda is a franchise;
2. There is a fatwa issued against the above referenced group;
3. The terrorism campaign is directly linked to immigration;
4. Al Qaeda is patient, often taking years between attacks;
5. The false logic that because there were no attacks there were none planned or interrupted;
6. Any discussion of spying in America must be accompanied by an equally spirited discussion of foreign spying in the U.S.

The enemy studies the polls and, we must assume, reads this blog, to make an intelligent decision about how weak or strong the American people are.

The enemy knows are strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes better than we do ourselves!

Robert said...

I would invite anyone who subscribes to david’s brand of paranoia to recall that the same false chicken little logic was used throughout the cold war to motivate continuing the mad arms race. In the end, estimates of Soviet military capability were vastly exaggerated and it was revealed that the military-industrial complex had had its thumb on the scale in pedaling the wares of its continued existence. The fatal flaw of federalism that is apparent from an examination of American history is that it requires the continued sale of the threat of external boogiemen to prevent the gastric juices of pluralism from digesting its own flesh.

Goatwhacker said...

The fatal flaw of federalism that is apparent from an examination of American history is that it requires the continued sale of the threat of external boogiemen to prevent the gastric juices of pluralism from digesting its own flesh.

There you go with that "apparent" stuff again. Your imagery about gastric juices has gone over my head, I guess I'm too plain-spoken. I hope you had a nice Christmas, goober.

vbspurs said...

After the Pajamas Media debacle, I noticed whenever there was a weightier topic offered on Althouse, that the anti-Althouse trolls would come out in force.

Much, much more than the ones there previously.

This makes reading many potentially serious, and engaging threads on this blog, a (dare I say it) quagmire.

Ann, you have to do something about it.

It's not enough to erase certain blog comments, because:

A- You'll spend half your time doing so, and I know it rubs your "free speech" ethics the wrong way

B- You only do some, and not all of the truly trolly ones, which promotes a double standard

Maybe it's time...

I dunno, that you took took this blog to a medium which has registered nicks, and not a troll free-for-all that Blogspot is fast becoming.

The Anchoress did it, and she had far less trolls than you do now.


Robert said...

Yeah Ann, can't you make it so,... well, you know, ... so we only have to read what we want to hear?

Robert said...

...because it hate it when we're doing mutual masterbation and someone rubs me the wrong way.

mars_in_aquarius said...

I know how you people like to cherry-pick the intelligence but gallop shows George W. Bush’s current approval rating at 41% (Dec. 16-18, 2005), declining from a recent local maximum and declining consistantly with the year-long trend.

blah_blah_blah_blah said...
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