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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another repost...

... or "Why Angel and I Are Still Friends"

The argument of the hour is whether or not the President is overstepping his constitutional authority in prosecuting the ongoing war on terrorists.

For the record, I don't believe so, Angel does.

But since neither of us are lawyers, we have been arguing from first principles, not law. So this is another attempt to reclaim my libertarian roots. Especially this statement of mine:

"For myself, I'm willing to accept a certain amount of friction between government and the people, as long as that friction manifests itself publicly and not in some secret, back room resistance movement."

Which I now ammend to reflect my view that this deeply held belief does not extend to forgiving leakers of classified information during a time of war. That exeeds my definition of a "certain amount of friction." It smacks of "back roominess," to coin a corny phrase.

Friction good, criminal leaks bad.


Still think we don't need tort reform?

Lee Harris (to whose excellent, clear writing you may remember I was only recently introduced) goes one further, arguing that we as Americans may be undermining our "fundamental right of free people to govern themselves" with too much respect for law.

"The moment the American courts decided that they had the authority to review how the Boy Scouts should operate their own institutions, from that moment on the courts had placed themselves in the position of having the final say so over how the Boy Scouts could operate, thereby flinging the door wide open for future meddling and interference. So what if they take the side of the Boy Scouts this time? Next time they could just as easily take the other side. In short, once the principle has been established that the courts have a right to decide other people's problems, then the people whose problems are being decided have forfeited their fundamental right to work out their differences without fear of the intervention of a third party possessed of virtually unlimited power to compel obedience."

It's an interesting argument, though a little hyperbolic in my opinion. He's trying to identify the underlying motivations for anectdotal accounts of abuses like those in The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard. Well, good for him. It's a thorny question for the sharpest of philosophers, and Mr. Harris is certainly sharp.

For myself, I'm willing to accept a certain amount of friction between government and the people, as long as that friction manifests itself publicly and not in some secret, back room resistance movement. The fact Mr. Harris' article is published openly is proof that our friction here in America is still public. For that matter, the Supreme Court doesn't operate in secret, either. Let the debate continue...


Let the debate continue, indeed. But not to the extent that my family gets blown up. That most definately exeeds my definition of "a certain amount of friction." Our civil rights and responsabilities are a complex social contract, I'll grant, and we can argue the details, but from a first principle stance, let me say that I do not consent to being blown up!

See also: Max Boot in the LA Times

... I eagerly await the righteous indignation from the Plame Platoon about the spilling of secrets in wartime and its impassioned calls for an independent counsel to prosecute the leakers. And wait … And wait …

I suspect it'll be a long wait because the rule of thumb seems to be that although it's treasonous for pro-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass an administration critic, it's a public service for anti-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass the administration. The determination of which secrets are OK to reveal is, of course, to be made not by officials charged with protecting our nation but by journalists charged with selling newspapers.

Amen. The outing of desk-jockey Valerie Plame is nothing, nothing in comparison to what the NYT has done. And I demand an investigation. This is way beyond the healthy "friction" of public debate.

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