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« Pundit Roundtable | WILLisms.com | US Army Finds Huge Weapons Stash In Iraq »

"The Constitution Is Not A Suicide Pact"

A great line that originated with the Supreme Court, Rush Limbaugh used it during his show today. Limbaugh should have mentioned this phrase's pedigree, it has a bit of an interesting history behind it.

This phrase should be food for thought for Democrats such as Senator Barbara Boxer who now think that defending our national security in perfectly legal ways is an impeachable offense.

Update: the Democrats' tin-ear campaign against Iraq and President Bush is once again making them look like Charlie Brown and the football.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 December 2005 04:41 PM


I say Barbara Boxer should be impeached, fired, resign, laid off, let go,or any other way of putting her out to pasture! ...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at December 20, 2005 06:44 PM

The Democrats have really Boxered themselves into a situation of no return. While President Bush has been performing his constitutional duties of protecting the United States, they have been playing politics with his every decision. Their actions will only appeal to the far left bush-haters and the grossly ignorant yellow-dog democrats who still believe there is still sanity in their party. Fortunately for the Republicans, there are more sane people in this country than the ignorant and haters.

Posted by: Eneils Bailey at December 20, 2005 07:40 PM

Indeed, the Dems are painting themselves into a corner for '06, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Zsa Zsa, perhaps we need Boxer right where she is, where she can cause maximum damage for the Dems . . . .

Go Howard Dean!

Posted by: Ken McCracken at December 20, 2005 07:56 PM

Rush attributed the phrase to Lincoln.

Posted by: wyguy at December 20, 2005 08:42 PM

Ah, didn't catch that.

Perhaps the phrase is even much older than the Slate article suggests, if it owes its provenance to Lincoln.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at December 20, 2005 09:41 PM

You are right Ken!... I suppose Barbara is doing rather well right where she is! BUT... sometimes I think it would be better for our Country if we would get rid of these type of politicians and get people who were not so partisan! I think that is what I want for Christmas this year! New politicians who will get something done! OKay?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at December 21, 2005 10:03 AM

Republicans to the Charlie Brown Democrats:
"All Your Football Belongs To Us."

Posted by: Rob B. at December 21, 2005 10:41 AM

Ah, "defending our national security in perfectly legal ways." This must be some new definition of "perfectly legal" that I hadn't previously encountered - outside of dictatorships and the like, of course.

The syllogism seems to be:

1) If we're at war, the President can do whatever he thinks he ought to do to defend America, and doesn't need to justify the particulars to anyone.

2) Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

Conclusion: the President can do anything he wants, always.

What we're seeing now is the unquestionable and overwhelming triumph of statist conservatism over libertarian conservatism. The latter didn't really even put up much of a fight, did it? (Good thing for Barry Goldwater that he didn't live to see this day.)

Posted by: RT at December 21, 2005 12:28 PM

Hey RT, just because partisan journalists claim Bush was acting illegally doesn't make it so.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the appellate decisions that have interpreted it, clearly show that the intercepts were legal.

Been doing it for decades actually, including under a certain Democrat president.

So your Orwellian reference is just a little bit over the top, don't you think?

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at December 21, 2005 06:36 PM

Dear "Am I A Pundit Now?":

1) The FISA:
a) I've read the FISA. Please cite appropriate sections that show the legality of what Bush had the NSA do.

b) It ain't just 'partisan media.' A number of conservative analysts (remember former Rep. Bob Barr?) are also pretty incensed at this abuse of power.

c) Please to also provide cites for the surveillance Clinton ordered, and the section(s) of the FISA that it violated.

2) The Orwellian reference: that wasn't to the FISA; it was concerning the state of perpetual war. Seriously, when is the War on Terror over? What metrics do we even have to tell how much progress we're making? What reason is there to not describe it (with a hat tip to Joe Haldeman) as the Forever War?

To the extent that you can answer those questions, maybe we can talk about whether my 1984 quote was apropos, or over the top.

Posted by: RT at December 22, 2005 05:12 AM

The entire raison d'etre of the National Security Agency is to listen on foreign communications.

For god's sake, if listening in on electronic communications were illegal, or required a search warrant each and every time it happened, there would literally be no such thing as an intelligence community in the United States.

President Clinton routinely accessed foreign communications without court authority. I do not need to cite any reference to you for that, it is simply a fact from how our intelligence services operate. For decades many branches of the government have engaged in SIGINT, from the NSA, DIA and CIA. It is amazing to me that you are just finding out now that this has been going on.

Powerline has taken the effort to lay out the legality of Bush's interceptions - go here and be enlightened:


And yes, your Orwellian reference is completely out of place in regard to the state of rights and freedoms in this nations, which operates under the rule of law, maintains regular and fair democratic elections, and which has not suspended any rights during this time of war.

If you think we are living under some Orwellian totalitarian state, you are simply insane.

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at December 22, 2005 05:44 PM

Why yes, thanks, I am insane.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's set 'em up and knock 'em down. In reverse order, just for fun:

1) Orwellian reference: I was considerably more specific the second time, about its intended application specifically to the Forever War. If you can't read, that's a pity. They have remedial classes.

2) Powerline: nice and all, but when I'm debating someone, I make my own argument. I may cite, I may quote, I may summarize other sources, but I make the argument. I expect the same of you, if you want to play. If Assrocket made such a great argument, how about you summarize it in your own words? If not, I get to call you a lazy government bureaucrat. :)

3) Your first three paragraphs: the key word is foreign. You betcha the NSA (where this sometime group theorist might've gone to work at, as many of his friends did) has the untrammeled right to intercept communications abroad. I've got no problem with that. The problem is with spying on Americans, in America. FISA is very particular about excluding that possibility, aside from foreign agents - and even then FISA requires obtaining a warrant within 72 hours after the surveillance has begun.

Bush did neither of these things. Hence he broke the law. Five years in prison, and $10,000 fine, per infraction.

Posted by: RT at December 22, 2005 08:43 PM

Heh, what does it matter if it is my own argument or not?

Either Powerline is correct, or they are not. The fact that you have not in any way disputed their argument seems like a concession to me.

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at December 23, 2005 03:36 AM

Sure, it's either right or wrong. But here's the deal: I can be sitting here, making my own arguments, while you're just throwing links to OTHER people's arguments at me. I'm sure there's a lot more such posts out there; you're not likely to run out of them before I run out of energy and interest.

You want to debate with me, using Assrocket's arguments, that's cool. But if you're too lazy to make his arguments your own, and debate with me directly even though he's given you what you claim is a winning argument, then forget it. If you're too lazy to type an argument up and put it in this little box here, then I don't think you're worth bothering with.

I thought you conservatives were supposedly the ones who were self-reliant, hardworking, and all that. Of course, if that's just a pile of BS...oh yeah, that's right! The true conservative virtue is to get other people to work hard for you. A tradition dating back to 1619.

Posted by: RT at December 23, 2005 05:28 AM

Sorry, with the holidays coming up I do not have the time to sit down and write out a complete legal brief on the legality of wiretaps for the benefit of you, one single commenter.

Don't pat yourself on the back. You didn't exactly break your arm making your argument either.

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at December 23, 2005 06:14 AM

Sweet, dude. If you don't have time to make your argument, why should you expect me to have time to rebut it?

Sure, I didn't break my arm making my argument. Didn't need to. The FISA is really pretty simple and clear. If my argument's full of holes, then I'm sure you can poke those holes in it.

If you want me to rebut your arguments, all you've got to do is make them. If you don't have the time, well, aaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Maybe we should have Debate Welfare for intellectually-impaired conservatives who can't make their own arguments. Here, I give you ten free points in the scoring of this debate. You can now claim you vanquished my logic, such as it was, with the dazzling arguments you surely would have presented if you'd had the time.

Posted by: RT at December 23, 2005 08:21 AM