Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hillary Hearts Hegemons?

"…Having been in Iraq, you know that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has assisted the militias and others in killing our Americans and in maiming them."

-- Hillary Clinton, to an Iraq War veteran at the Democratic presidential candidates' debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 16, 2007

As an ex-military man, I regard the '08 presidential race, to a large extent, as a cattle call audition for the role of commander in chief of America's military. Since the GOP shows no sign of purging itself of the neoconservative influence, voting for a Republican would be an exercise in redefining insanity. So I've been watching the Democratic race with great interest, and found the November 16 debate in Vegas most interesting.

False Bravado

Many thought Hillary came out as the big winner in Vegas, but barring some sort of epiphany on her part, she's lost my confidence for good. She went out of her way to slip in that line about Iran's Revolutionary Guard having had a hand in killing American troops--she'd already answered the young veteran's question.

As historian and journalist Gareth Porter decisively argued in September 2007, "The administration has not come forward with a single piece of concrete evidence to support the claim that the Iranian government has been involved in the training, arming or advising of Iraqi Shiite militias." And as he illustrated more recently, the U.S. tactic of detaining Iranians in Iraq on "suspicion of carrying out or planning attacks against Iraqi security forces" then releasing them when they prove to be "of no continuing intelligence value" has become yet another political embarrassment of the administration's preposterous Gulf region policies and strategies.

Why Hillary is so willing to go along with the administration's Iran fable is something of a mystery. She either knows something she's not telling us, or she's fallen for the disinformation racket Dick Cheney's Iranian Directorate gang has been running, or she's willing to grab onto any fiction that gives the perception she's strong on security. If she's that secretive and/or that gullible and/or that insecure in her ability inspire confidence in America's defenses, there's very little difference between her and George W. Bush.

Hillary was not, however, the only Democratic candidate at the Vegas debate who sounded like a George W. Bush wannabe.

False Assumptions, False Facts, False Choices

Roughly halfway through the debate, CNN's Campbell Brown introduced the subject of President Pervez Musharraf suspending Pakistan's constitution on the premise that it was necessary to preserve his country. She then asked Joe Biden, "Is it your view that there are times when the security of the United States is more important than the way a key ally, like Musharraf, disregards freedom and disregards democracy?"

Biden launched into one of his signature diatribes. He made sure everyone knew he had personally spoken with Musharraf, and that Musharraf had called Biden, not the other way around, that's how important Biden is, and if you didn't think that made Biden important enough, Biden had also talked to Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and here's what he'd do with the Pakistan policy if he were president of the U.S. of A,, and blah, blah, blah…

He finally wrapped up his response with, "…I know there's more to say, Campbell. I appreciate you asking me the question, and I'm sorry I answered it. I know you're not supposed to questions based on what I..."

At that point, mercifully, Wolf Blitzer cut him off, but Biden had already performed his standard act in entirety: indulged in shameless self-aggrandizement, said something dumb, tried to blame a journalist for his own ineptness, and set new standards in political irony by apologizing for answering a question that he never came close to answering. In all, Biden managed to sound even more like Bush than Hillary did, but the piece of resistance in Bush apery came from Chris Dodd.

Dodd accurately observed that the Bush administration has ""has stepped all over our own constitutional processes," but in addressing the question of security versus constitutionality, he revealed a major flaw in his own cognitive processes.

"Obviously, national security, keeping the country safe," comes first, he said. He might have been okay if he'd stopped there, but he continued. "When you take the oath of office on January 20, you promise to do two things, and that is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and protect our country against enemies both foreign and domestic. The security of the country is number one, obviously."

The presidential oath is contained in Article II of the United States Constitution. Here's how it actually reads in its entirety:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Period. Exclamation point. End of sentence. End of oath. That business about protecting and defending against foreign and domestic evildoers is in the military enlistment oaths, and the president is a civilian, remember Senator Dodd?

Dodd seems like an honest guy. He probably just got the oaths confused in his head--he did, after all, serve in the Army Reserve. But he's also a lawyer; one who says that as president, the FIRST thing he'll do after being sworn into office is "restore the Constitution." How's he going to restore the constitution if he can't keep straight what the damn thing says? What's he going to do, hire another lawyer to read the Constitution for him? As it is, Dodd appears to already be in the mindset of basing his constitutional authority and priorities on things that don't appear anywhere in the Constitution, and we've had more than enough of that recently.

Of the other candidates who got a chance to speak on the security versus constitutionality issue, the best responder was Barak Obama. When Blitzer asked, "Is human rights more important than American national security" Obama replied, "The concepts are not contradictory, Wolf."

Jesus, Larry, and Curly; why didn't all the candidates give that answer?

Can anyone other than George W. Bush and his merry madmen imagine any possible reason why the head of the mightiest nation in the history of mankind, a nation that spends more on defense and spy gizmos and homeland bureaucracy paraphernalia than the rest of the world combined, should have to choose between protecting his country's security and its cherished founding principles?

And is Barak Obama really the only presidential candidate who realizes that's a choice he doesn't need to make?


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword, ePluribus and Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available April 1, 2008.


  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Regarding your last two paragraphs, the answer is no. Both Dennis Kucinich (D)and Ron Paul(R) seem to have an exceptional grip on that issue. I suspect that to all others, the Constitution is kind of like speed limit laws; that is advisory until caught.

    By the way, of those that I mentioned, I believe that Ron Paul actually has an icicle's chance in hell of winning and is worthy of our support.

    Best regards,

  2. MME,

    Concur about Kucinich and Paul.


  3. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Kucinich, Gravel, Paul, and Obama have the decided advantage that they: 1) don't listen to what their handlers say; and/or 2) don't have handlers. While all this is very refreshing--gee, I really like to know what a candidate thinks--the electorate has shown a very strong tendency to go for gloss over substance (witness the last two presidential races).

    It is therefore depressing that the current likely candidates appear to be:

    Republican: Giuliuani or Thompson (with Huckabee closing fast);
    Democrat: Clinton or Obama (with no one else even in the rear view mirror);

    Thompson is the most like the series of candidates that the Republicans have put forth for the nomination since 1980, and I believe he will be the nominee.

    The Democrats will have their traditional problem of patching over the rift that will exists between the winning and the losing camps. The camps for both Obama and Clinton are quite strong, and I frankly don't know how to call this one. The key to a Democratic victory (and steering the US down a saner path) is unity, and I'm worried that this may be a replay of 1968.

    And so we are left with this Thompson Issues:

    the terrorists abroad, and that begins in Iraq and Afghanistan—the central fronts in this global war. We must show the world we have the will to fight and win. A weakened America - or an America that appears weaker - will only encourage further attacks. We must persevere. As Commander-in-Chief, the president must ensure the United States has the means to achieve victory. Presidential leadership requires talking to the American people about these stakes, mapping out a clear vision for success, and devising a comprehensive strategy for achieving it. I am committed to:

    * A larger, more capable, and more modern military that can defeat terrorists, deter adversaries, and defend the U.S. and our interests.
    * A missile defense system that can protect the U.S. and our allies from long-range ballistic missiles.
    * An enhanced intelligence community, with robust human-intelligence capabilities, focused on terrorism and proliferation.
    * A robust approach to homeland security that will protect our nation from terrorists and WMD, regardless of where they come from.
    * A strengthened system of global alliances to better combat terrorists, proliferators, and traditional threats to our interests.
    * A judicial system that deals with the realities of terrorists and unlawful enemy combatants.

    Sounds like "W" heavy to me.

  4. Anonymous3:07 PM

    "We must defeat" got clipped off some how.

  5. Anonymous5:12 PM

    I believe that Paul's support is significantly, perhaps dramatically, underestimated for the following reasons:

    1) polls are performed via landline, and many younger people (among who Paul's support is disproportionately strong) only have a cell phone

    2) polls are based on likely, previous, or registered voters, a category that excludes those who quit the Republican party in disgust or didn't care to vote for Bush in the 2004 primary (i.e. the many non-wingnut (former) Republicans. The many Americans who concluded that there's barely a dime's worth of difference between twiddle-dems and twiddle-R candidates, and didn't bother to take the time to vote, but are enthusiastic about Paul, who stands in stark contrast to the Bushists.

    3) Paul used to be under a news lamestream media quarantine, after his $4.3m haul, he's now being demonized by some powers that are. Paul does extremely well when pollsters explain different candidates' positions, without naming names. As he begins to advertise more in the mainstream media, and his fame spreads beyond the netroots, his popularity stands to increase, dramatically.

    4) I personally am skeptical of his pining for the gold standard (as opposed to greater scrutiny of the Fed), but know that he'll have to force the House and Senate to go along with the ideas with which I don't agree. I believe his monetary beliefs are a price worth accepting for a candidate we know won't campaign on a policy of a "humble foreign policy" only to do the opposite. Polls show that most Americans have not yet made a final decision on who to back; as Paul's rising, this can only benefit him.

    5) Paul's in a virtuous cycle, where the better he does in polls, the less the media can ignore him, which in turn stands to further improve his polling data. "Anointed" candidates like Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton don't stand to benefit from this force multiplier.

    In 1945, the United States had lent or given the UK and Russia the money they needed to destroy their countries' economies as well as those of Germany, Central Europe, Japan, China and more, and was the sole country to be largely better of at the end of the war, accounting for 80% of global GDP. The United States HAD to fill the security vacuum the war left. Today the United States accounts for roughly 20% (or is it 15% of global GDP?), and shrinking. It is running out of muscle to play globocop; furthermore, when a country influences the affairs of foreign countries over which it doesn't exercise a stark preponderance of might, it begins to shape and corrupt the larger country's political system, so that decisions are no longer about serving citizens, but rather those under the sway of the the country's military. In other words militaristic nations run the danger of failing their own citizens.

    I note that none of the other candidates are as insistent that the baleful consequences of the United States intervening all over the world be addressed. I think this policy will have to be rethought sooner or later, and the sooner, the better for the nation. Throw in his wanting to end the demagoguing of abortion, the war on drugs with its unequal enforcement across the races, and the corruption it engenders, his wanting to rethink corporate subsidies (i.e. bribes) from the DC leviathan, and wage war on turf-hungry bureaucrats, and I think, all in all, we have a winner.

    Two or three months ago, I wouldn't have believed I would ever deem Dr. Paul's candidacy viable. Even if he doesn't win the Republican nomination, he's certainly asking all the right questions, and will hopefully alter the conventional thinking of America's political class.

  6. That was a good retort by Sen Obama to AIPAC Propaganda Chief. Seems a lot of people like Rep. Paul.
    I'm about as Liberal as they get before turning pink and he's got my and my wife's(lflg dem)vote (and a $100.00).
    Killer Hillary is a full supporter of the Bush Regime and falls under heavy foreign influence.(includes a old vid of Wolf) I'm happy that you don't fall for her BS Jeff.

    If Sen. Obama does get the nomination and Rep. Paul does not, then I would most likely support Sen. Obama. Grudgingly. I don't think he has got what it takes to take on the Mighty MIC though. I will not under any circumstance support Killer Hillary. I'll write in Jeff Huber if she gets the nomination and Rep Paul is out.

    Happy Thanksgiving Jeff!

  7. Colbert gravel kucinich paul nader perot carter [conyers?rangel?] united for truth elicit fear smear blacklist.

    The people know too much,
    democracy rising democracy now.
    Rage against the machine.

    Honesty compassion intelligence guts.

    No more extortion blackmail bribery division.
    Divided we fall.

  8. It is soooo calming and refreshing reading this and writing like it, a place where facts and logic matter. Thanks.

    Ron Paul for President.

  9. Anonymous4:24 PM

    I'd be the first to concede that Rep. Paul has some standing and could have more support in the ranks than so far revealed. And certainly, Ron Paul is strongly supported here (I would be shocked if he doesn't carry the majority of the caucus vote here). But I don't think he's a match for the Republican power structure. Certainly, if he's got the muscle, it will show in the primaries--I would look to the North and South Carolina primaries as early indicators. Given his position, he must win both of these to be considered a serious contender.

    Personally, I would prefer a Democrat with considerable experience and character to run against either Giuliani or Thompson in what is certain to be the apotheosis of the Republican slime machine. Since I'm very unlikely to get that, and since there is no Republican candidate I would ever vote for running, I'll vote against the Republican system and for any Democrat in a storm.

  10. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Mr. Cooper,

    I concur. Well said.

  11. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Ron Paul has made statements that are openly racist. While he seems to espouse a logical and reasonable position, I am skeptical of anyone who is willing to ignore research studies just because they are afraid of 13 year old Black kids. Ron Paul isn't a front page politician. He might be worth keeping as an advisor in certain specific areas but, he has social weakness' that eliminate him from serious consideration as a recipient of my vote.