Archive for category Reagan

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox


New Republican Strategy: Insult the Intelligence of 10 Year Olds

The Republicans have one, publically acknowledged, hero. How often do they bring up Ayn Rand, or any previous president from the Republican side? They are reluctant to talk about Lincoln because he – you know – freed the slaves.

Even the young men who created Superman comics knew that if he didn’t have SOME vulnerability, the story wouldn’t fly, but why worry about that? We have Ronald Reagan and decades of get-on-your-knees imagery and bombast.

If you think the following video was created for the 1980 election of Reagan, you’d be wrong. It was produced recently and is part of a project started by Mike Huckabee to teach history:

Your First Film, Just $9.95
Four FREE Gifts worth $50
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Some thoughts from the left.
More thoughts from the left.


The Three Republican Curses

Brad DeLong made an interesting observation at his place:

To understand the Republican Party today, you have to recognize that right now it is bespelled by three curses:

  • The curse of Ronald Reagan: it believes that over the long haul somehow America can tax like Calvin Coolidge and spend like Lyndon Johnson and everything will come out fine because it is morning in America.
  • The curse of Richard Nixon: it believes that the purpose of politics is to win high-paid jobs with no heavy lifting involved and to humiliate your political adversaries, rather than to make a better country and a better world, and so anything goes.
  • The curse of Barry Goldwater: it believes that the big threat to liberty comes from government attempts to enhance equality of opportunity, and so the Republican Party must abandon its historic commitment to equality of opportunity.

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Why Christmas Sucks for So Many Christians This Year

This Christmas Day is the worst in memory for more living Americans than heretofore. Here’s why, and here’s how we can make next Christmas a better one.

Naturally, Bush made it worse. Here’s hoping the righteous Americans who voted for Reagan, Bush or McCain will take pause in the Yuletide season, and put down the “individual responsibility” bullshit and try getting some Jesus.


Gratitude II: Jim Bopp Jr., GOP Litmus Test and The End of Big Government Republicans

These are heady days for us liberal warriors and the news just keeps getting better. Today, I give thanks for James Bopp Jr., vice chairman of the Republican party and his new G.O.P. litmus test.

Between RNC Chairman and the token negro, Michael Steele, the pasty, white, religious fanatics on the RNC committee and Rush Limbaugh, the Republican party is thoroughly fucked.

Real conservatives love purity and loyalty tests and Bopp’s Litmus Test 1.0 does not disappoint. But as Republicans LOVE TO DO, Bopp’s test will be predictably followed by 2.0 and 3.0 each freakier than the last as this tactic has become the preferred method for establishing one’s conservative bona fides these days.

But Bopp’s ‘purity’ test doesn’t just escalate the Republican circular firing squad, it widens the circle to include the dead and this time, Reagan gets it between the eyes.

…the measure would likely have screened out President Ronald Reagan, under whose watch the US deficit ballooned. The federal deficit mushroomed from 2.7 percent of gross domestic product in 1980, to 6 percent in 1983.

Reagan also agreed to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security, in contradiction of conservative orthodoxy. – Raw Story

Of course the side benefits of Republican oneupsmanship is the necessity of throwing Ronald Reagan (may he rest in peace…in hell) under the bus. In the last election cycle, we saw candidates climbing over each other to associate with the ‘Gipper.’

I predict: In the next cycle, we will see Republicans DISTANCING themselves from Ronald Reagan as Republican institutional memory suddenly recalls the fact that Ronald Reagan more than DOUBLED OUR NATIONAL DEFICIT.

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Gingrich: Forget Reagan, I’m Not a Citizen of the World

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the U.N. General Assembly with these words: “I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world.”

Last night at the big annual GOP congressional fundraising dinner., former House Speaker New Gingrich tacitly accused Reagan of spouting intellectual nonsense.

Let me be clear. I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous. There is no world sovereignty. There is no world system of law. There is, in fact, no circumstance under which I would like to be a citizen of North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba or Russia. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and the rest of this speech is about the United States of America!

Of course, Gingrich intended to sarcastically dismiss the Obama administration’s stunningly successful diplomatic efforts, as if the cooperation and good will of our allies and the ability to negotiate with our adversaries was not an advantage in a multilateral world. But he inadvertently rejected Reagan too.

UPDATE: Gingrich went on to claim that the Obama administration has “already failed.” But the AP reports that Gingrich and the GOP failed to meet their fundraising goal. The event took in a relatively small haul of $14.5 million, the lowest total in at least five years.


The Truth About the Reagan Presidency Being Etched into History

Reagan is mostly responsible for the economic path on which we find ourselves.  I watched it happen.  It was the reason I studied Political Science in College.

I also watched the deafening roar of approval for everything the guy did as I came of age and realized that the enemy among us is the media and the ignorance of the American people.

Reagan was an elistist and a cruel man.  He screwed the little guy and made them love him for it.

Two authoritative books which make this argument have just published.  Here’s a great review of them.

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War
By James Mann
Hardcover: 416 pages, $27.95
Viking Adult: New York, March 2009

The effects of the policies of the 40th president of the United States are currently reverberating throughout the economy in more dramatic ways than at any time since his departure from office. Deregulation, privatization and the glorification of corporate business interests over that of working citizens have led to the economic meltdown in which we find ourselves, and never has there been a more opportune time to revisit the impact of Ronald Reagan.

Of the two books on review today, William Kleinknecht’s The Man Who Sold the World is by far the most condemnatory and the most sweeping in indictment—to the point where even the harshest of critics may become uncomfortable with the one-sided, black-and-white presentation on display for over 300 pages. A few thousand words of bitter broadside is one thing; tens of thousands is another. Still, it’s a compelling work for Reagan critics to have on the shelf, handy for reference. Just don’t plan on handing it off to a fence-sitter and have it persuade.

Kleinknecht’s emphasis goes far beyond Reagan’s effect on the economy. The Gipper also ushered in, according to the author, an age of vulgarity and selfishness unparalleled in American history. He was a culture warrior of the worst kind, he argues, lowering standards in every area he touched: read on…

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Torture, the Conservative View Point

“The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.
The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

-Ronald Reagan, as he made the U.S. a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Torture

It’s important for people to understand that in a democracy, there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth. In our country, when there’s an allegation of abuse … there will be a full investigation, and justice will be delivered. … It’s very important for people and your listeners to understand that in our country, when an issue is brought to our attention on this magnitude, we act. And we act in a way in which leaders are willing to discuss it with the media. … In other words, people want to know the truth. That stands in contrast to dictatorships. A dictator wouldn’t be answering questions about this. A dictator wouldn’t be saying that the system will be investigated and the world will see the results of the investigation.

-George W Bush, on Arab television, explains the benefits of Democracy

Someone explain this to me please? It makes my head hurt…


Exorcising the Ghosts of Neo-Cons Past

Twas two days before Christmas, when finally the House (and Senate) Handed out a report card, timed to not be noticed so we wouldn’t grouse.

The Tax records were hung by the ……  errr, the umm…..  Hell I hate poetry.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report card just before Christmas, and they may as well have used James Earl Jones’ voice and worn a mask while quoting “his failure is now complete!”  Reagan, and his neo-con buddies, have failed pretty much everything now.  As if you couldn’t tell.

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The Myth of the Reagan Democrats

Smarter people than I (see Schaller, Thomas, and Scher, Bill and Krugman, Paul) have compiled the actual data and shown that most of the Republicans successes since 1980 are attributable to the movement of white southern voters from the Democratic to the Republican party. The last 28 years have been, in fact, a drawn out political realignment as the New Deal coalition slowly fractured then at last (in 1994) fell apart. Conservatives have, for decades, been talking about the semi-mythical “Reagan Democrats.”
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Election memories

When I was a child, election night was a strange mystery. My parents disappeared soon after dinner and didn’t return until they done the arcane process of voting. It simply happened.

The first election of which I have any memories was 1976. I thought Jimmy Carter’s smile was too broad and Gerald Ford was too grim. By 1980, I was paying more attention. I remember feeling that Carter – a fundamentally decent man – had been done wrong by Reagan in some unnameable way. I said to my mother I thought Reagan should give Carter a job in his new administration.

By 1984, I was, sadly, a Reagan supporter even though I liked both Mondale and Ferraro.

In 1988 I voted for the first time. Jack Kemp spoke at Grinnell College; I attended and was impressed at his fierce honesty, the way in which he knew he was in a space in which people disagreed with him and yet he was there to speak. I sent in an absentee ballot. Same in 1990. FWIW, in 1988 I voted Bush-Quayle to be contrary. Living in Iowa, I figured my Utah vote didn’t matter.

1992 I was living in Virginia.

By 1994 I was back in Utah and proudly walked from my apartment downtown to my polling place after work and gladly voted. In 1996, I pulled the lever (well, punched the card) for Dole (and regretted it immediately) but voted straight ticket Democratic for every other race. I figured my Presidential vote didn’t matter in Utah. I have not voted for any Republican since 1996.

1998 I voted straight ticket D for every race.

In 2000, I went to my polling place after work, waited in line and then proudly and confidently voted for Gore – and down ticket I voted straight party Democratic. 2002 was another straight ticket year for me. I was by 2002 so thoroughly disgusted with Bush and the Republicans I realized I might never again find a Republican I could vote for.

In 2004 I volunteerd with Paul van Dam’s senate campaign and I loved every minute of it. My friend Dina Blaes ran from Salt Lake County Council (and sadly lost). There was something powerful about stepping into the voting booth in 2004 and seeing a name I knew on the ballot. Seeing the candidate I saw in the office, the candidate for whom I’d made phone calls and for whom I’d delivered yard signs. I punched the card proudly and confidently for the Democratic ticket that year – for van Dam, for Kerry-Edwards, for Matheson-Hale for governor. Peter Corroon for County Mayor – someone I’d seen on the campaign trail repeatedly.

2006 was a great night (you can find my election blogging here on OneUtah). I proudly voted for Pete Ashdown for Senate and somewhat reluctantly for Matheson for Congress (I get that Jim Matheson is a good guy, I don’t think he’s a good Democrat).

My 2007 city election blogging and actions are recounted in detail on OneUtah as well. Ralph won.

So here we are in 2008. Twenty years since I first cast a ballot.

As the Bush Administration had staggered through its second term like a common drunk on the bender to end all benders, I’ve watched in despair at the destruction they’ve wrought. Ruinous wars, insane budgets, destructive social policies. It’s time for a new start, a New Deal one might say.

I voted early – mid morning at the County Complex. Obama-Biden. Springmeyer-Valdez. Corroon. Matheson. Rebecca Chavez-Houck. Jean Welch for attny general. I voted for Randy Horiuchi even though I don’t really like him. I voted for both the County Props.

In a few days, election 2008 will be a memory. Soon George W. Bush will vacate the Oval Office and maybe we will miss him, but we want to miss him.

I hope November 5, I can wake up and say, “Barack Obama – President-elect.”


Government Programs are experiments – when something fails you should try something else

In the real world, every government policy is an experiment. We look to history to guide us but also ground ourselves in basic values.

Public education, supported by property taxes, open to everyone, is an experiment. Creating a progressive tax code is an experiment. Cutting taxes on the rich in hopes they will invest in ways that grow the economy is an experiment.

The challenge for us, in considering policy, is to examine the outcomes of previous experiments and ask what we can learn from them to apply to our own challenges. Read the rest of this entry »


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