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04 September 2008


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David W.

I believe that's called a 'Freudian slip.'

Larry K

Good catch, Colonel. I believe you've pointed this before, more than once, but this sloppiness (if that's what, or all, it is) should be stopped in its tracks each time.

William R. Cumming

The President has two Constitutional "hats." Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and Chief Executive. When in meetings with DOJ in the 80's I frequently asked which "hat" was being addressed and who in the US government was legally correct in reviewing proposed actions of the President. I also argued that the AG should be a statutory member of the NSC. Ernst Hollins, former Senator from SC brought to the floor of the Senate a bill to make the AG a statutory member of the NSC which was defeated by one vote. I believe Joe Biden voted with Sen. Hollings. I believe Sen. McCain voted against. Only two AG's have been designated as Ex Officio members of the NSC. Robert F. Kennedy and Edward Meese. Proper legal review of NSC activities has been enhanced with the creation of the General Counsel slot but DOJ and the AG should be involved on all sensitive matters without a "need to know" review from some NSC staffer. Another potential reform for Senators McCain or Obama if elected President.



As I have implied before, modern "narratives," like "Commander in Chief" were seldom heard in times before Carter.

As for Brokaw and his maudlin WWII Horse Shite tributes; my thumb and index fingers are presently playing (virtually) the world's smallest violin..the tune? an Ode to a suck!

His father was some sort of Roswell the riveter was he not? Daddy Brokaw's prized seed (the Tomster), who (a) assiduously avoided the military service in Vietnam that (b) he so masturbatingly celebrates in honor of the greatest generation nowadays, now Trappist Monkingly performs public penance by cloyingly wrapping himself in the American Flag at the drop of a hat.

All of this, filtered through my bullshitometers smells of a major league guilt trip. These bastards (who are not that intelligent), btw, are now rolling in the long green, and are sucking up to the likes of McCain.

Do you ever wonder why no POW from Whiskey Whiskey Two ever ran against Ike, JFJ or Milhous? Methinks it's because prisoners were not seen in the same favorable light then as they are now. Drum roll please!....and the reason for that is the post Viet Nam victimology which is now written in stone as the way to treat the wrongly imprisoned veterans...sniff sniff, excuse me while I barf...he signed on the dotted line, he should have jinked when he janked.

A funny story (from my viewpoint) Around Thanksgiving or Christmas of 1990, Poppy Bush and Frau, Bob Dole and others came to visit the hapless troops in the Saudi Desert advanced bases before the onset of Desert Storm. It was quite a production (impressive) from a logistical viewpoint. The networks brought a healthy presence to paint this quaint tableau to the folks back home. After poppy's quasi messianic appearance, I, and a bunch of other Jarheads headed for our respective CP Tent/camo netted Humvee petting zoos. We passed a NBC lowboy, where a bunch of blue collar roadies where packing up the gear. And who do you suppose was in the middle of this production, throwing a hissy fit over his missing gear? You guessed it, Tom Brokaw. The enlisted animals took all of this in for about 10 seconds, and then, slowly at first, unleashed a barrage of personal, X-rated insults at his personage; I joined in as well. He lasted a minute or so, then skittered off the stage.

I have been around real people from the press in hostile places (mostly photogs) the late Henri Huet, Catherine Leroy, and unnamed others. The Tomster, well, he should stick to writing odes to others, as he rates none of his own.

As for the sad cast of characters in the glory, war lovin' convention of this past week....here's to Colonel Lang. "Ces salauds souffrent du syndrome avancé du défaut de plomb, mais, en même temps, ils ne vallent pas même une cartouche...collectivement!"

Maybe I should send this last message to Arnaud de Borchgrave....maybe he would appreciate it. Bein' that we both draw some of our roots to Flanders.

David Habakkuk

On holiday in Devon, I just passed through Slapton Sands, which was used as a training ground by U.S. forces before D-Day, because of the similiarity between the terrain and that of the Omaha and Utah beaches.

There is a memorial there to 749 U.S. servicemen who died in Operation Tiger -- an exercise on 27/28 April 1944 which was successfully attacked by German motor torpedo boats.

A Sherman tank located on the seabed was bought from the U.S. government for $50 by a local hotelier. He recovered it and placed it near the beach, where it still stands.

As you can see in the picture on the site below, poppy wreaths are still laid on it.

(See http://www.combinedops.com/Op_Tiger.htm.)

It seems strange to find, sixty four years later, the ideas of Carl Schmitt about the 'state of exception' seemingly taking root in the United States.

It also seems strange to see a British Prime Minister treating a Georgian thug who unleashed an artillery bombardment -- and cluster bombs -- on South Ossetia as a representative of 'freedom'.

We have both degenerated, I think.


We have no emperor.

Well, it seems to me that you do have an emperor, de facto if not de jure.

Your sitting President has openly flouted the courts, the constitution, the law and the authority of Congress. He has demonstrated that Presidents can do this shamelessly and without suffering repercussions. No steps have been taken to prevent future Presidents from doing likewise.

Appealing to what the constitution says is of little import in an ongoing constitutional crisis. At such a time, policing language use is useful only as a way of remembering what America once was and might be again.

Les Izmore

It seems like more than just a slip. For some reason that is beyond my understanding the people in Brokaw's world actually want to turn our country "of the people, by the people, for the people" back into a monarchy. Are they completely unhinged? Is it too late to stop this? It's starting to feel like it is to me...


Well, it never hurts to the clear the deck, so to speak, of distractions, and focus on fundamental issues. There are those among us who would have us be "subjects". And they would argue that we should consider ourselves damn lucky to be allowed to be subjects of such a great Empire. The Senate and the people? Yes, some would say, so long as it continues to be a Tiberian like Senate and people.

Cold War Zoomie

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines!


The "monarchization" of the USA has been in progress for quite a while, with fits and starts. Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage's recent book Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy does a good job of recapitulating the process, which accelerated in earnest with the onset of the Cold War. It was taken to a new level by Nixon, with the help of his observant pupil, Richard Cheney. Savage's book is definitely worth the read.


As bad as this is, it fits perfectly with the "3 missing words", where the incumbent justifies all that he is doing on the 'fact' that his most solemn, paramount duty is to "protect and defend the United States" when in actuality his oath is to "protect and defend the constitution of the United States" President Bush has used the wrong formulation multiple, multiple times. Put your observation together with this one and one can see how this fundamental misunderstanding (?) is at the root of almost everything that they have done wrong...



I remember, shortly after the first of the Greatest Generation franchise came out, seeing an interview with Browkaw where he was asked about those WWII vets who did not manage to craft successful post-war lives. Those people were absent from his work. If you didn't know better you'd think that every G.I. Joe and Jane came home to build a perfect 50's family and a perfect 50's life. He said (as I recall) that the choice to exclude those who'd struggled after the war hadn't been intentional, it had just "worked out that way", but that he would write about them in a future work.
That was almost 10 years ago.
Why is this important? Because it highlights the childishness way in which Brokaw views that conflict (and I would argue, American society in general). He sees the war through the eyes of a little boy. Through those lenses there was no questioning, no uncertainty, no internal politcal divisions or conflicts, no graft or waste or shirking. There was only the good fight, waged by good people. We all pulled together and ugly things like politcs were laid aside. And then they came home to build shining cities and happy families. It's an MGM spectatular with a Paul Harvey ending. That world looks lovely in black and white but of course it's a fantasy which never actually existed.
All of this would be relatively harmelss if it didn't also feed into the desire for the return of this world that never was and simultaneously deny the real meaning and triumph of that war. Brokaw wants a national Commander in Chief to lead us back to the the good old days, to be our daddy and make it all right, and yet he doesn't understand that that mentality, the need for a leader to fix it all, is at the heart of what were were fighting against.

Dave of Maryland

To think of the president of the United States as commander in chief of the country is to make this person the sovereign and we his subjects.

We might complain all we want, but that is the direction we are headed. And it's top-down. All the way to the county commissioners.

On the national level, we now have four incompetents running for the highest office of the land. Previously the Dems had the reputation for nominating guys who just didn't have the fire in their bellies (Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, etc.), while suppressing those who did: Howard Dean & Hillary Clinton, among others.

On a state level, have you noticed how state primaries are increasingly on Tuesdays that nobody's ever heard of? How turnout is disproportionately low? Like under 30%?

And city & county races on still some other First Tuesday of the month? Turnout often below 20%?

And everyone rails. Why don't voters vote?

Flip that. Low turnout on obscure days means that whoever mobilizes his immediate friends wins the race. The result is rule by self-perpetuating oligarchies on the county & even the state level. Oligarchies are the enemy of democracy. Oligarchies are "we rule & you shut up."

Here on Rte 924 in Bel Air, MD, there is currently a banner stretched across the road promoting an "arts day" two Saturdays from now.

I've been here six years come Halloween. There are often banners & large signs promoting one or another cultural event. Duck Decoys in Havre de Grace (I kid you not), pancake breakfasts on July 4, the Harford County Fair on a weekend in August. Every year. New signs & banners.

Are there banners or signs that say, "Vote on Election Day, Tuesday, April X"? No. I wanted badly to vote in the local elections, but I forgot the rule: If you see yard signs, that means Election Day is the first Tuesday of the following month. That's the only clue you will get.

Here in Harford County, the yellow pages are crammed full of businesses that don't have street addresses. Why? Because, according to county code, the rules for home-based businesses (which all of these are: Electricians, plumbers, AC guys, well diggers, etc.) are completely murky. Why is this? So that petty bureaucrats can grant business permits to guys they like, and deny them to ones they don't, and point to code to justify either outcome. The phone book proves the local reaction.

I run a mail-order book biz. So when I got down here, I applied for a business permit. I was handed an application for a building permit & told to ignore this blank & that. That was strange, so I read the Harford County, MD, code (found it on-line). Read from one end to the other.

It's not just that the president is our de facto Great Leader. The rot goes right down to the lowest level.

So long as government is content to be unobtrusive, it will go on indefinitely. On the other hand, if the economy tanks, the resulting demand for government services, combined with sharply falling tax revenues, will stress governments on all levels, resulting in corrupt & incompetent bureaucrats making predictable blunders. With predictable results. With no competent backstop, local problems can quickly spin out of control & end up as national dilemmas. The leader's attentions are then increasingly taken up with the private affairs of those lucky enough to have his ear.

National media has already been lost to the "lost or missing blonde white girl of the week." Parents queue up eagerly. If only my missing girl's face was on national TV. Or featured in the upcoming State of the Union address.


Tom Brokaw has always been heralded as a great American because he reflects midwest values, as if those values are superior to those of, let's say, Alexandria VA.

He was sort of limp when he read the news every night. He gained a lot of notoriety (after he left NBC) with his books and words about the people who fought WWII. As Cornfed stated, Brokaw missed the boat about those who came home less than whole. After all these years VA hospitals still have a lot of broken guys from that war.

They let Brokaw hang around NBC because he was (and still is) a safe anchor in that he never puts anyone through the ringer. As I said, he's just a news reader. Like him or not, Obermann is the only NBC personage who does not mind going for the jugular.

That an emperor kind of person runs the country is more the fault of Republicans who had majority for six of the past years. Although they sometime cannot get out of their own way, Democrats in the Senate in 2007 tried to stanch the emperor but were foiled by a minority in the Senate who wanted to "support the troops or the war on terror".

Re Bush as CiC: it seems that he delegates a lot his responsibility to Cheney and others, like Petreaus. Regardless of his lofty CiC title, Bush is always at the head of the chow line.

We can always hope that someone will find the courage to charge Bush/Cheney and their accomplices for the crimes they have committed.


Dave of Maryland: so what did you find out concerning the blanks to ignore? And now that you know, what triggered the suggestion below?
a) misunderstanding,
b) ignorance
c) fiendish administrative guidelines

" So when I got down here, I applied for a business permit. I was handed an application for a building permit & told to ignore this blank & that. That was strange, so I read the Harford County, MD, code (found it on-line). Read from one end to the other."


Cornfed ask "...Browkaw where he was asked about those WWII vets who did not manage to craft successful post-war lives?

You need to read Studs Terkel.


Thank you, Fred. I have.


[Keywords: Senator Patrick Leahy; Sara Taylor; US Constitution; Senate Judiciary Committee; oath to the President; oath to the Constitution; loyal Bushies]

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you're correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what--

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I--

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government -- it's not. It's the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.





How about a thread on the role and function of CiC? It's a central theme in this election yet nothing substantive has been written.

It seemed to me self evident that the president was CiC of the Army of the US to assert ultimate civilian control over the military, keeping power answerable to the citizenry, not to make the president some kind of super general, as seems to be implied these days. I though Obama's statements at the outdoor press conference after the Iraq visit showed a good grasp of this--undoubtedly Hagel had many intelligent things to say along the way.

Re: Unitary Presidency-as I understood the Calabrese paper which originated the concept (co-author Yoo, of DOJ-White House legalized torture fame) it's not the CiC 'duty' which give the pres. 'unitary' power in wartime (which the Jacobins seek to make permanent), but the very nature of the Executive Branch as the sole actioning and implementing agent in the government. This is to say that all actions of the Federal Government must emanate from the will of the President, and that anything which goes against this is unconstitutional. This hierarchical 'godhead' concept probably comes from deep within the Strausian neo-platonism. It boils down to a government 'Of the President, For the President, and By the President'.

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