Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Subject: Usurpers, Etc.

December 28, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

In the last few weeks I have received an unusual number of emails regarding postings on this blog. Almost all of those not previously posted here are set forth below.

Lawrence R. Velvel

From: charlie ehlen
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 5:33 PM
Subject: 26 Dec Counterpunch

Dean Velvel,


excellent article!
I once swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. It was in 1968 and I was enlisting in the Marines. Today, the Constitution is in serious need of being defended. I volunteer to do so.
I will NOT just sit back and let this goddamn little pea brained shit become a dictator! If it means a cell in Gitmo, so be it. I pity the poor guards then. A former Marine and Viet Nam veteran is quite a different animal from the goat herders, poppy growers, and the odd camel jockey they have captive there today. One reply I got today from my article on Counterpunch mentioned that I might end up on some government "watch" list. Big damn deal. I am disabled, a Viet Nam vet, and was a Marine. What the hell can they scare me with? My answer, not one damn thing in this life anymore. Been through too much to be afraid of crap that scurries off under the refrigerator when the lights come on.
As long as we stand up and speak the truth and shine our light on the crap that is happening in OUR country, the cockroaches will just run and hide.
General Smedley Butler said the only reasons for war are to defend our homes and to defend the Bill of Rights. I am ready to fight to defend that Bill of Rights, to my death if need be. If I could go to Viet Nam for the lies back then, I can most certainly defend the Bill of Rights today. And let the gods have pity on those who stand in the way!
Thank you for your article. thank you also for your time reading this reply.

charlie ehlen

From: CQuil
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 4:58 PM
Subject: John Yoo, torture, the law and the truth

Dear Mr. Velvel,

I read your blog today and the reference to John Yoo and his interpretation of the law reminided me of an interview he gave to the Canadian investigative news program, "The Fifth Estate" in November of this year. The program dealt with the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the interpreation of the the laws against torture. The program, and John Yoo's interview in particular, can be found at this site.

In the interview, he made these comments, among many others." So the torture convention says you cannot engage in torture and it says you shall undertake not to engage in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. So clearly, the people who drafted the treaty thought they were two different things. And when the Congress, when the Senate adopted the treaty, it only made torture criminal. It did not criminalize cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. So clearly, Congress thought they were different concepts." Also, "We had a national presidential election in the middle, right in the middle of all of the disclosures of this [torture in Abu Ghraib], in the middle of this war. And people could have elected Bush out of office if they thought this was improper and that the costs outweighed the benefits." Clearly, the American people did not have all the information. If the truth were widely known, I can't believe the results would have been the same. David Rakoff, author of Don't Get Too Comfortable, talked about the excesses of the Bush administration during an interview about his book. He said that just when you thought you had reached the bottom of the foulness that they have been involved in, a door opens and drops you down into more and deeper misdeeds. I don't know whether the content of John Yoo's interview on CBC was significantly different that those on U.S. television, but they may be interesting nonetheless.

Carmelita McQuillan

From: matthew carmody
To: 'Dean Lawrence R. Velvel'
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 1:45 PM
Subject: L'etat c'est moi

Hey Larry:

Wonderful article on the site. Brings to mind the statement that DeLay made to a waiter when he was told the government made it illegal to smoke in a restaurant: "Hell, I am the government."

Looks like Charlie Ehlen and I are going to have to get into shape to fight these bastards because I don’t see too many representatives in Washington standing on the floor of Congress repeating over and over that this criminal enterprise should be removed in its entirety from the government, not just Bush and Cheney, but everyone complicit in their criminal acts, from Hastert to Gonzalez. I think Gonzalez and Yoo should be investigated by their respective bar associations. Bybee should be impeached for his tortured interpretations of executive power.
But none of this is surprising, given the genesis of the players. Bush comes from a family of war profiteers and war criminals. Cheney was a war criminal for his part in the invasions of Grenada and Panama, not to mention Gulf War I and the use of depleted uranium, a war crime in and of itself. It is surprising that Rehnquist clerked for Jackson given how intelligent and balanced Jackson’s views were, especially his reasoned analysis on the limits of the executive; it certainly doesn’t surprise me that Yoo clerked for Silberman, that despicable ort who engineered the lynching of Clinton and gave us the arrogantly prim Starr Chamber that went on to impeach Clinton.

I must say that I am indebted to these people though, going back to the Reagan days, when they forced me to become more involved and more educated in constitutional matters. Of course, that knowledge now makes me that much angrier at what they are doing to the constitution and at the passivity exhibited by the majority of Americans.
Let’s hope this shift in public perceptions isn’t swayed by the nebulous arguments the apologists are making about "inherent" power and other such bullshit being thrown around to cloud the issues.
Absent a vigorous airing of these latest illegal acts by this administration, I don’t see anything short of a full-blown civil war changing what has happened here. Only this time the sides won’t be nearly as neatly defined since this will be a war based completely on how the constitution is interpreted and the very basics of what it means to be American. No silly side issues unless the fundamentalists decide to get involved using their own wedge issues.

Thanks for keeping me thinking and for renewing the outrage,


From: Anonymous
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Date: Friday, December 23, 2005 4:57 PM
Subject: Shocked:

Just wanted you to know how carefully I read your articles. It was Claude Rains character Captain Louis Renault in the movie "Casablanca" who said, "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on here." A croupier then hands Renault a pile of money. It is, I believe, unnecessary to draw contemporary comparisons.
Humphrey Bogart's character "Rick" was never shocked by anything. On the other hand he was deeply disappointed as only an idealist can be, regardless of his protest to the contrary.
On behalf of the disappointed, once again, I thank you for your informative articles.
If you find any value in this you may print it without my name.

From: DanCas
Date: Friday, December 23, 2005 3:56 PM
Subject: Re: Epilogue To 2004-2005. Prologue To 2006.


You've even done their work for them. Great piece! & Happy Holidays!
In plain English (with a little Irish vernacular thrown in): the problem with the legislature these days is that in the game of "political chicken" [ teith(adh) ar cheann, pronounced chihhar ken, to flee or run away first] the GOP Neocon chicken-hawks never chicken out because the Democrats are all yellow (ealodh, pron yealow, [act of] absconding, sneaking off) chickens - with no subpoena power.

Pray for rain. Throw the bums and grafting swells out!

Daniel Cassidy

From: Dirk Sabin
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Date: Friday, December 23, 2005 3:51 PM
Subject: Your posting of today "Epilogue"

Dear Dean Velvel,

Your current posting summarizes the debauched state of our "leadership" and their Fourth Estate shills about as well as any out there. Pity that we do not hear more penetrating questions and comments of this nature but with our news journalism being more properly termed as "entertainment", I shall not hold my breath. The government of this Republic has now entered into the realm of the criminal enterprise and the citizenry seems disinterested as to why, or even if it is a problem. It would appear that the forward progress of the Republic, the ongoing American Conversation has finally come to a stop at a fork in the road and is half-heartedly examining its options. Once a living evocation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, both heir to the Declaration of Independence and the Enlightenment, we are now a parody of them...a depauperate Republic. Through our own actions and the natural perversions of life, we have seen our socio-economic habitat become impoverished, opening the door to rogue elements to practice their sordid craft within the context of a stressed political ecology. Conditions for life swing wildly within an environment such as this and opportunism reigns supreme.

Most Americans remain blissfully unaware of what is going on, in broad daylight, under the direction of these dogpatch oligarchs. The mythology of our culture and the fact that the current adult generation grew up in a period that actually encouraged a striving and productive middle class have conspired to create a kind of stubborn consensus trance. We want to believe our nation is good and so must believe that the government is essentially good. Doubting this is too much for most people to consider, even though that is the unspoken responsibility of every citizen. We have a self-professed "conservative" government that is actually revanchist radical toward the monarchical and does virtually everything opposite of its self-professed principles and yet the people do not generally detect the scam. If they do, they doubt themselves or choose to ignore it, hoping it might go away.

The media has failed us, the "leadership" has rebuked us and so the people of the Republic deserve this greatest achievement of the pampered scion Bush: His Grandest and Crowning Life Failure. In times past, when this aimless yet gregarious sociopath stumbled, his family picked him up, dusted him off and sent him on his way with a wad of cash stuffed in his pockets. He became "Born Again" to self-justify and paper over some dim realization of the empty expanse that is his interior. This time, and with this his greatest failure, it will be left to the people to pick up the pieces of one of the largest and most damaging lapses of parenting skills in all history...or at the very least, since the decline of the Roman Empire. Barbara Bush, parroting his sons status as the self-professed STATE, offered her Versailles moment as well when she told the people of New Orleans to "eat cake" because to her, they had actually benefited from losing their homes and possessions in a deadly disaster of a scale not seen before by this nation.

Consensus Trance, bad parenting and a chief executive who really thinks that he is the center of the universe make for a very ugly incident and it is not unlikely that with the Abramoff trial aborning, the Enron prosecution beginning, the failures of Iraq continuing to metasticize and this newest domestic spying investigation to begin in January, the people might just snap out of their haze and come to realize that this Republic is not a spectator sport or consumer product. It is perishable and alive. 2006 will either be an opportunity or another failure to act and so, just as 1856 was an important year leading up into the Civil War, 2006 shall become, in the end, a year that will determine the fate of one of the more remarkable nations in history. We would be better prepared to meet the demands that are to come if we had not abdicated our responsibilities as a citizenry because we seemed to find it so effortless to "create" history. Now, historically and functionally illiterate, despite our advancements, we have virtually nothing within our stores of ammunition to combat this assault on the Republic by opportunists who seem to respond best to the degraded ecology of our system. As an American, I wish us well but as an American with some sense of history, I am not inclined to optimism. 2006 shall be the year we either make or break our future as a force of good in the world. Keep up these trenchant observations because you are performing an important function, you are re-arming the true "arsenal of democracy", the average citizen.


D.W. Sabin

From: Alan Rothenberg
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Date: Friday, December 23, 2005 1:52 PM
Subject: RE: Epilogue To 2004-2005. Prologue To 2006


Thanks for breaking your self-imposed pledge of silence.
Happy Holidays (I love saying that since it drives the Right Wing crazy).


From: jaimo
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 2:17 PM

re: today's counterpunch.very good, indeed. and you write under the experience of one versed in law. in good conscience as well,

james buechler

From: Lew Rockwell
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 6:42 PM
Subject: magnificent!

Dear Dean Velvel,

what a great essay in Counterpunch!

From: P.N.
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 1:34 PM
Subject: Executive Uber Alles

Well done.

P. N.

From: paul
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 12:53 AM
Subject: Usurpers of Freedom

Thanks for being there with your great words. Excellent work !! (Personally, I think we're all just hangin' out and waiting for a more Timocratic society ) ; A society where "honor" has a value.

~ Paul

From: Bill Holmes
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 5:13 P
Subject: typo in your article

Good article, but it starts out with a crucial missing word. You say: is longer just when you obviously meant: is NO longer just

From: Hank McCann
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 1:45 AM
Subject: Usurpers Of Our Freedom

Bravo, BRAVO, BRAVO!!!

From: Wilson Mechanical Corp Wilson
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: Epilogue to 2004-2005....& Usurpers of our freedom

Everything you say is well said. I am as disgusted by the behavior of those holding political office as you are. I tend to become profane and vulgar when these subjects are discussed. You hold the decency line better than I do. However I do not want to discuss with you the grocery list of crimes these criminals have and are committing. That is now rather obvious to anyone paying attention to these matters.

Are we not in kind of a hard spot? I mean, the electorate is manipulated by the mass media, due to its expert use of propaganda, to accept the doctrines and views that render them blindly obedient, submissive to authority (any authority), passive, isolated and completely misinformed. In other words, they are conditioned to accept domination (abuses) by government. So, the question becomes, how do we better prevent government abuses? What mistake has been made that allows the current conditions to come into existence? Or, what may be done about all this beyond complaining about it? Is that not the moral/legal dilemma that faces the democrats who are incapable of adequately articulating a solution?

So I have a solution in mind, but I want to run it by you. In the Premble it states the objectives of our government, one of which is to establish justice. Now in so stating this, is it not intended that when any legislative body proceeds to form its convictions in addressing any problem or need of the state, they are to form their convictions substantially consistent with the principle of justice? (law is conviction).

Also, at the same time is it not the case that each citizen is regarded as being "obligated" to obey the laws which may be "enforced" upon them?

Here is my delimma. I and most everyone is willing to submit to the obligation of obedience to the "law" (convictions of others) if those laws are substantially consistence with the real principle of justice (you shall not have what belongs to another nor be deprived of your own) The reason is, that all decent, civil, sane people seek to behave this way anyway, so you're only "compelling" us to do what we would do on our own. However, this "restriction" on what legistlative convictions may be "passed into law" is ignored. So justice is not established.

Something else is. Also, is not being placed in the social condition of compelled obedience to the convictions of others (laws) without any restrictions, the social condition of enslavement? What prevents the "abuse" (enslavement) element is the restriction of having the authority of being only able to compel to be done what is substantially consistent with the real principle of justice. Does not "freedom" mean, to be free to lead ones life by their own convictions, as long as they do not harm others (act substantially consistent with the principle of justice), thus not be ordered around like one does children, or suffer the abusive convictions of others (government)?

If all this makes sense to you, then wouldn't it be a better, saner method of passing laws to be enforced onto the public by having legislative convictions (bills) examined by a supreme court (that is not corrupt) prior to their passage, rather than after? I realize this method would fail if the court itself was corrupt. However, all social institutions require the judgment of the people who are sellected to administer them, and thus are open to err to that degree.

What say you about all this?

My best: PW

From: Jack Stockslager
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 11:59 PM
Subject: The Usurpers of Our Freedoms

Thank you for your well written article about the crisis in our government. I am sad to realize the lies that are made by those in power everyday. We act as if are free but in reality I am afraid in the USA we a living a lie.

From: rosli omar
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 4:09 AM
Subject: Executive uber alles

Dear Dean Velvel,

That was really excellent stuff! Courageous, no punches pulled, and an excellent analysis. Thank heavens there are academics -and a law dean at that - still brave enough to put it straight to dumb Bush and evil Cheney (and pugnacious Rummy?) that the US and the rest of the world might still be safe enough. With a dean like you there's hope yet for the students.

with best wishes,

Rosli Omar phd

From: Doug
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 9:17 PM
Subject: Thank you!

Dean Velvel:

I am an 80 year old alumnus of Boalt Hall where John Yoo is now on the faculty. I am ashamed of my alma mater. In my view, it does not take much in the way of legal reasoning or legal brains to write, in effect: Where US troops are fighting, without a Declaration of War, the Commander in Chief can do anything he pleases to win the "war." By this reasoning, the President could secretly arrest reporters, hold them in a secret place, tell nobody, deny them counsel, and secretly torture them to find out who in the administration was leaking classified information. I assume John Yoo, a California State Employee had to take the affirmative oath to support and defend the Constitution. Is there not objective evidence that he is violating this oath? You say he is Intellectually corrupt. I wish you could write and submit an article to the California Law Review or the Harvard Law Review saying this, and giving the reasons why.

Thank you for speaking out so bluntly in Counterpunch.

Douglas R. Page

From: Armande
Date: Monday, December 26, 2005 10:19 PM
Subject: Counterpunch Article....

Great article.. in my humble opinion, the fact that they are more worried about the "leak" rather than the substance.. therefore the story is True.. or else they would have denied it right there and then.

Of course I could be wrong.

Armande Jallad

From: Andrew Fischer
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:02 AM
Subject: Re The Usurpers of Our Freedoms

Great job!
I've been waiting for weeks now for one Democrat -- any Democrat! -- to stand up and at least float the "i-word" ( impeachment). They are all so damned gutless it makes me sick.



From: Dennis Joyce
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 9:01 AM
Subject: The Usurpers of Our Freedoms

Dear Dean Velvel,

While I despise Dictator Bush, I despise "citizens" and lawyers even more, for their total lack of a thought process.

We, American citizens, were declared enemies of the state by the Trading with the Enemies Act of 1917 and its follow-on, the Emergency Powers Act of 1933, which amended the 1917 law to include all citizens.

Until our schools provide an indepth course in the legal history of this country, we are destined to have the forgotten lessons continue to bite us on the butt at every step and turn.


Dennis Joyce

From: John McCarthy
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 4:58 PM
Subject: Site For Your Perusal

Greetings, Lawrence

I very much enjoyed your essay on Bush and the NY Times. The Power of The Press is formidable, especially when it can be convinced of covering up criminal acts. Some would call that conspiracy. I am not sure how much more 'freedom' we can withstand.



From: David L. Adams
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:32 AM
Subject: The Usurpers of Our Freedoms

Mr. Velvel,

Thank you for your wonderful essay. Please keep writing on this issue. The public doesn't seem to understand how critical the current situation really is. What I find particularly horrifying is the growing body of evidence that suggests that some elements of the government participated in bringing about the events of 9.11. It seems quite possible that we are the victims of an elaborate and deadly scam intended to justify an all controlling police state.

Best regards,

Dave Adams

From: Fisher, Scott (RBC Dain)
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:37 AM

Mr Velvel,

Thank you for your excellent article regarding executive power. The brazen power grab by Mr Bush and his minions has occurred with hardly any protest from either the Congress or the Judicial branch. Can you explain the incredible abrogation of constitutional responsibilities on the part the Congress and the Courts? It appears to me that the United States is rapidly becoming a police state. Is this a correct view in your opinion or I'm I overeacting?

Scott Fisher

From: Mina Anderson
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 8:43 A
Subject: Your latest

Are we to continue pretending that foreign terrorists brought about 9/11 when in fact it was the same gang that is causing the rest of the treason mentioned in your Rockwell piece?

G. Anderon,
Colo Springs.

From: Anonymous
Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 9:59 AM
Subject: Rot in Congress

This reflects the rot in America. Good piece!

From: SearingTruth
Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 10:26 PM
Subject: Re: Executive Uber Alles

Dear Patriot Velvel,

Wow. I am humbled sir.

Thank you so much for your eloquent and impassioned observation of the clear and present danger facing our great nation.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are looking down upon you now, and they are well pleased.
Very well pleased.
So am I. You are indeed a rare heart.
Thank you again.


Protecting our traditional American values of truth, justice, and freedom for all

Friday, December 23, 2005

Re: Epilogue To 2004-2005. Prologue To 2006

December 23, 2005

Re: Epilogue To 2004-2005. Prologue To 2006.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

Knowing I would be on vacation during the last two weeks of December, and for other reasons too, I intended the posting of December 13, 2005 to be the last blog of 2005. I even opened that blog by saying it would be the last posting of the year. But revelations of the past few days, especially in connection with electronic surveillance, are simply too delicious to pass up. For they are helping to bring to a head some points that have repeatedly been made here since this blog began in May 2004.

It is grossly immodest to point out some of this, as shall be done below. And in a sense it contradicts the de facto norm desired and accepted by most media pundits: the norm that one should not remember or bring up what pundits said or prophesied in the past. Of course, this de facto norm is to the media pundits’ benefit because they are so commonly wrong. As is the fate of many money managers or even lots of corporate executives, but not of pundits, most of the latter would be looking for new jobs if continuation in their old jobs depended on their stated views and predictions turning out to be right a significant amount of time. Conversely, one must concede, bringing up past views may be to this writer’s benefit if he is right in believing (is he?) that much of what he has been saying since May of 2004 has been borne out, even increasingly so near the end of 2005 because of the recent revelations regarding domestic spying and some other matters.

Casey Stengel used to say, "You could look it up." Well, in prior blogs you could look up that the following points have been made here, sometimes repeatedly. (The relevant blogs, among others, will be published in early 2006 as part of a collection entitled Blogs From The Liberal Standpoint: 2004-2005, a collection arranged by topics, and chronologically within topics, so that a reader can get a sense of the movement in the country over the period from mid 2004 to the end of 2005.):

• What is at stake in the so-called war on terror is no longer just treatment
of detainees, but the freedom of Americans.

• Bush and company have very wrongly used the commander-in-chief power
as a lever to make the President far, far too powerful, powerful far beyond
anything intended by the framers, who created a government in which the
legislature was to be the more powerful branch.

• John Yoo has despicably abetted this process by writing
intellectually corrupt legal opinions, which were to be used to shield officials
high and low against the possibility of criminal prosecutions even though their
acts plainly are criminal. The legal opinions, moreover, were classified, were
all kept secret, in major part because Congress and the public would never stand
for what is being done if they were to learn about it by reading the

• Congress has been ineffective and cowardly.

• Bush (and Cheney too) is a very unintelligent person.

• Bush has committed the impeachable felony of conspiracy to commit
torture, but the media and the politicians refuse to discuss this. He should,
however, be impeached for this felony.

The New York Times apparently has withheld information about various
important subjects, and one wonders what those subjects might be.

• Samuel Alito should be asked very specific, pointed questions about
the extent of Presidential power.

• In accordance with first amendment values, there should be a
reporter’s privilege when confidential sources talk to a reporter in order to
alert her to evildoing by government, but not when confidential sources try to
use reporters to further evildoing by government.

Well, it’s funny (not funny ha ha) how these and some other points previously made here are all involved in the recent revelations about warrantless electronic surveillance by the NSA. And, in a very real way, most of the points can be summed up by, or brought under the umbrella of, a single saying: Ich bin der Staat, or L’Etat, c’est moi. I am the state, in English.

You see, Bush’s claims of power all come down to a single overarching principle, articulated for him in legal terms by John Yoo, and articulated in political speech by Bush himself. That overarching principle is that the President is all powerful whenever he asserts a claim that what he authorizes or does is for the purpose of fighting a war. John Yoo said that such all-surpassing power comes from the commander-in-chief clause and cannot be limited by Congress. Of course, Yoo shamelessly distorts the commander-in-chief power, which was intended simply to put a civilian in charge of the military lest a general seek to take over the country and become dictator, and was not intended to make the President a dictator, was not intended to give him the dictatorial power that the framers were guarding against in a general. Never has this been put more eloquently than in a passage in a concurring opinion written in the Korean War’s Steel Seizure Case by that most eloquent of all Supreme Court Justices, Robert Jackson, a passage recently recalled to mind, I am grateful to say, by an e-mail from "Rex": "His command power is not such an absolute as might be implied from that office in a militaristic system but is subject to limitations consistent with a constitutional Republic whose law and policy-making branch is a representative Congress. The purpose of lodging dual titles in one man was to insure that the civilian would control the military, not to enable the military to subordinate the presidential office. No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government of holding that a President can escape control of executive powers by law through assuming his military role."

Bush, of course, doesn’t write, and most likely doesn’t even read, legal opinions, whether from Supreme Court Justices or Department of Justice lawyers. (Opinions are more than one page long.) Bush merely says, echoing Yoo, that because he is commander-in-chief he can do whatever he claims is necessary to protect Americans. He also says that Congress’ authorization of the use of force allows him to engage in warrantless electronic surveillance. That legislators say they never even thought about warrantless electronic eavesdropping when considering an authorization of force (they were, after all, focused on military action, not surveillance), that people who apparently have read the Congressional history find no mention of surveillance, that there is a specific law against what he is doing, is all of no never mind to Bush. Ich bin der Staat, after all. Gonzalez, in Bush’s defense, says that a few Justices of the Supreme Court -- not all -- said in the Guantanamo case that the authorization of force means we can imprison enemy fighters. Therefore concludes Gonzalez, the authorization also means we can wiretap citizens without a warrant. It does not seem to occur to this mental giant of an Attorney General that in every war one takes and holds prisoners, so that an authorization of force must mean you can do this. But why the authority to take enemy prisoners -- an incident of every war -- means you can also wiretap American citizens without a warrant, and why it means this even in the face of a contrary statute, simply escapes one who is not a hack henchman for Bush. On the other hand, L’Etat, c’est moi, so what a statute of Congress says is irrelevant.

One should understand, of course, that the statements of people like Bush, Gonzalez and Cheney, and the so-called legal opinions of John Yoo, are not to be taken seriously from the intellectual standpoint. For intellectually they are not really serious claims; one wonders if they are even seriously meant, since they are too stupid, too frivolous, to be intellectually serious. The true, underlying intended function of these claims, and particularly of the legal memos, is really something quite different than to be a serious statement of a position. The intended function is to provide a shield for Bush and company, down to the lowest CIA operative, NSA operative, or grunt, if someone were ever to think about putting them in the criminal dock for what they have done. The possible defendant, be he Bush on down to a grunt, could point to the legal opinions of John Yoo (and his one time boss, now Federal judge Jay Bybee) and say, "I cannot be fairly accused of a crime. There were legal opinions from high Department of Justice officials -- opinions on torture, on surveillance [and possibly on God knows what else that we don’t even know about yet] that said what I was doing was legal." It was, indeed, CIA personnel’s desire for protection -- dare one say cover -- that led to the torture opinions. Gonzalez recently pointed out that Bush had documents from lawyers all over Washington (as I believe Gonzalez put the matter) saying that what Bush was doing was lawful. Some NSA guys were very worried about the legality of the warrantless surveillance. Some of the NSA people were -- and still are -- so worried about its legality that they apparently wouldn’t participate in it and/or blew the whistle to The New York Times despite John Yoo’s classified memos claiming legality.

So the claims, and Yoo’s memos, should not be understood to be serious intellectual statements of positions. They are only shields so that Bush could do whatever he wants without being subjected to appropriate criminal sanctions, and so that his minions could obey him in hoped-for safety. The claims, and particularly the memos, are merely a cover, a smokescreen, for the underlying, fundamental principle of Ich bin der Staat, L’Etat, c’est moi, I am the state. And they are a cover, a smoke screen, which are kept classified and secret for as long as the government can get away with this, because of justified fear that Congress and the public would never stand for what is being done if they were to get wind of it from reading the memos.

Once the story about the warrantless surveillance broke, Bush, Gonzalez & Co. came up with some other claims that in effect hold that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which banned warrantless electronic surveillance, must be considered – in Ron Zeigler’s deathless word -- inoperative. There has been, it is said, a lot of technology changes since 1978. And a two minute phone call between terrorists can lead to hundreds or thousands of deaths.

Forgive my French, but what the hell have these points got to do with it, if you think about it? FISA allows the government to engage in immediate warrantless electronic surveillance as long as it thereafter seeks a warrant within 72 hours. All the new technology and two minute phone calls in the world can’t be quick enough to escape electronic surveillance once the latter has been applied immediately, without a warrant, with the only requirement being that the government then seek a warrant within 72 hours after starting the surveillance. The claims about the need for speed are just so much smoke. One cannot, after all, be more immediate than immediate, and the government is authorized by FISA to be immediate. Nor need there be fear of lack of cooperation from the secretly operating Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, from which warrants need be sought. The court can and does act very quickly -- once a judge held a hearing in his living room at 3 a.m. on applications for a warrant -- and last year, it is reported, the court received 1754 applications for warrants and denied not even a single one. From 1995-2004 the court received over 10,600 applications for warrants and from 1978 onward it has received nearly 19,000, and in this entire period it has turned down only four of the nearly 19,000 (all four in 2003, apparently). So, if there is to be a fear here, it is not that the court will be uncooperative, it is that the court is usually a rubber stamp. (Indeed, the head of the court is the pro-establishment Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly). The sum of it is that the smoke being blown about the need for speed is just another excuse for the overarching principle of Ich bin der Staat, L’Etat, c’est moi. I am the State and therefore I can do whatever I want.

The only administration claim that makes even the slightest intellectual sense is one that amounts to saying that the FISA procedure was ignored because the government wanted to conduct surveillance that could not meet even the obviously minimal standards of a FISA court that rejected none of 1,754 applications for warrants last year and only 4 of nearly 19,000 since 1978. But this claim simply leads to the heart of the problem: it simply leads to the fact that, as has been said here before, it is now no longer the fates of our enemies that is involved, but rather the rights and freedom of Americans themselves. For we are faced with an Executive whose charge is led by the dumb Bush and the truly evil Cheney, that says it can do whatever it wants in the name of allegedly safeguarding America, and that whatever it does for this claimed purpose is therefore ipso facto legal regardless of whether it is in violation of statutory law, in violation of longstanding custom and precedent, or in violation of any reasonable conception of humanity. If the President says it’s necessary to torture people to safeguard America, and even to murder some of them as part of the interrogation process in order to safeguard the country, then this is legal. If he says it’s necessary to secretly kidnap people, apparently by the thousands, and secretly fly them off to other countries where they will be tortured, all as part of a process that is sanitized by calling it "rendition," then this is legal. If he says, it is necessary to engage in permanently warrantless wiretaps, then this is legal. And so on. Why, then, would it not be legal, if the President says it must be done to safeguard America, to pick up Americans off the street and beat the crap out of them (or worse) in prison in order to obtain information? Why wouldn’t it be legal, if the President says it must be done to safeguard our country, to wiretap two or three million people, or to break into their homes in order to steal their papers, computers, etc. in order to obtain information (like Nixon’s henchmen broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist for this very purpose)?

You know, I don’t know who said Ich bin der Staat, or even if someone actually did say it. It sounds like something that should have been said by Adolf Hitler, since he so clearly acted in accordance with it and almost surely must have believed it. L’Etat, c’est moi was said by Louis XIV. (So maybe Ich bin der Staat is only the German translation of what Louis XIV said.) Regardless, the phrases pluperfectly describe Bush and his henchmen, since, as indicated, their transparent attitude is that whatever the President claims should be done in the name of national security, legally can be done. Thus it is that today we find that our country has been doing things, many of them discussed above, that would have once seemed inconceivable, even in the darkest days of the Civil War or World War II. Because of the orders and opinions of Bush and his henchmen we, as sometimes said above, have tortured and killed prisoners, kidnapped thousands (apparently) of people as part of the process that is sanitized by calling it "rendition," have sent kidnapped people to other countries to be tortured, have run secret prisons in foreign countries, have secretly held various "high value" prisoners in compounds located God knows where, have conducted warrantless electronic surveillance on Americans, on false premises have started a war that has killed over 2,000 Americans and 30,000 Iraqis, and have done God knows what else that has not yet been disclosed. It is little wonder given all this, and given claims that the President can do whatever he wants, that one believes it is democracy and freedom that have become at stake. Who knows what else Bush and company might want to do and might therefore say they legally have the power to do, the laws of Congress be damned. If Bush feels he has to clap citizens in irons to save other Americans, will he not do it? If he has to break into homes and offices to get information he says is necessary to safeguard America, will he not do it? Will his minion lawyer not write memos saying all this and more is legal?

One wishes there were no need for concern about the possible current existence of things we do not even know about yet or for concerns about future actions. But it was, I think, Germaine Greer who said a few decades ago that a person’s views are a cluster, that if a guy on an airplane told her what he thinks about one thing, she could almost surely tell you what he thinks about a lot of things. She was, of course, dead right. And the cluster of views held by Bush, Cheney, et al., are really pretty rotten, as made plain by the roster of once inconceivable things we have now done. We did all these things because those guys claimed them essential and ordered them done. People who variously are and collectively include, a former drunk, a serial failure in business, a drunken flunk-out from Yale when less than two percent of Yalies flunked out, a draft dodger, a combat avoider, guys who have spent their lives getting ahead by pull, connections and family influence rather than brains and talent (which they don’t have), and guys who are just plain mean, nasty bastards are at the helm, and ardently believe in doing the terrible things we have done. Are we supposed to not fear the possibility that there could already be more horrible stuff which we don’t even know about yet, or that in future more such stuff could be done? Are we supposed to not worry about this? I don’t think so, as it is said. We can hope that there is and will be nothing more, but we shouldn’t bank on it, especially given the kind of people, the mean, nasty bastards, the minor Hitlerites, who are in highest office.

* * * * *
In a posting of June 27, 2005, this blogger discussed the fact that The New York Times had recently admitted that the paper had changed articles in response to concerns expressed in advance by the CIA and other government agencies. Since the paper would not disclose what articles there were, or what changes had been made, it was said here that "For all we know, the excluded facts or details could be ones of enormous importance for the public to know. The possibilities will not bear mention; the mind reels at some of them."

As indeed the mind should have. For now we know one of the stories that was not only changed, but was killed for a year: the story about the warrantless electronic disclosure authorized by Bush (and, as he himself has said, reauthorized by him 30 times). When it finally broke the story a few weeks ago, The Times said, in its lengthy article, that the government had asked it not to print the story, and it therefore had in fact delayed it for a year to do "additional reporting" (and then had omitted certain unknown details). Imagine that: The Times, at the behest of the government, sat on this nation-shaking story for over a year without disclosing it. Does this not remind you of The Times’ failure, at government request, to print what it knew in the early 1960s about the impending Bay of Pigs invasion, the invasion which therefore went ahead because it had not been publicly disclosed and which proved to be a perfect storm of disaster? No doubt The Times felt it was acting patriotically in both cases, but we know that its failure to perform its First Amendment duty led to disaster at the Bay of Pigs. And it is not unfair to suspect that bending its knee to the government for one year with regard to illegal surveillance will also prove a horrible mistake, just as its failure to question the government’s bovine-defecation-reasons for going to war in Iraq was a horrible mistake. (Would one think, by the way, that The Times should have bent the knee to the government’s demand that it not publish The Pentagon Papers?)

The Times did not disclose why it bent the knee for one year on the electronic eavesdropping story, and there has been but little notice or discussion of the matter in the media. Currently, one does not know why The Times backed off for a year and can only guess at the reasons. Had the bigwigs at The Times -- Sulzberger, Keller, and the rest of them -- simply forgotten, or did they deliberately ignore, the lessons of the Bay of Pigs, the Pentagon Papers, the failure to question the purported reasons for invading Iraq? Did Bush and company mislead them in some way that caused them to feel a need to delay for a year and to do more investigating before printing? Did Bush and company threaten them in some way that caused them to back off for a year?

Who knows? But is this a matter which cries out for full disclosure? You bet it is. When a newspaper, let alone the country’s leading newspaper, sits on a story like this for a year, instead of telling the public what it has every right to know and a deep interest in knowing because the nature of our governing system is involved and our freedoms are involved, when the nation’s paper of record sits on a story like this for a year, its conduct and the reasons for its conduct demand explanation and analysis.

No doubt the government does not want such explanation and analysis, because, as history is our guide, it is dollars to doughnuts that some form of government misconduct is likely to be involved, some form of government deception or outright lies or threats. No doubt Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller (and some others too at The Times?) do not want such explanation and analysis, because it could well show that they screwed up in some way in delaying publication for a year. Either Sulzberger, or Keller, or both, are already under fire for the Jayson Blair case, the Judith Miller fiasco, the unquestioning acceptance of false government claims as to why we should invade Iraq. The last thing they can want is the possibility of more bad grades for mishandling the electronic surveillance matter.

But there should be explanation, analysis and criticism, and let the chips fall where they may. The Times -- the nation’s major newspaper, the paper on which so many depend so extensively -- is a public trust, as is said to be recognized by the entire Sulzberger-Dryfoos family. If this public trust is being mishandled by incompetent executives who keep effing up, then the family has a responsibility to the paper and the country to deal with this misfortune by replacing incompetents with competents. To know whether such action is required, one must know not just the whys and wherefores of the Jayson Blair, Judith Miller and WMD matter, but the whys and wherefores of the electronic surveillance matter. The family should see to it that all this is brought out if Sulzberger and Keller do not do so themselves.

There is one other matter that has been brought up here before and is vitally related to The Times story. That is the question of the reporter’s privilege of confidentiality.

It appears that one of the big reasons that The Times was able to learn about and report on the warrantless eavesdropping is that at least a dozen people in government agencies, including the NSA, were so worried about the legality and propriety of the eavesdropping that they were willing to talk to The Times on condition of being granted anonymity. King George, however, has ordered an investigation. He wants to find out who these people were and clap them in irons because they revealed his illegal conduct. It is possible that one way he might try to learn their identities is by subpoenaing the reporters in an effort to force them to reveal their sources or to confirm or deny various pieces of information. If this were to happen, The Times should fight him to the death, for freedom of the press to perform its first amendment duty of revealing governmental misconduct to the people -- the very duty mentioned by Justice Black in The Pentagon Papers Case -- would be deeply involved, as derivatively would be the safeguarding of the freedom of citizens themselves. It has been said before here that, in terms of the purposes of the first amendment, prominent among which is the revelation of governmental misconduct so that it can be stopped, there is a vast difference between governmental insiders revealing such misconduct to the press on an anonymous, confidential basis in the hope that it may thereby be stopped, as occurred in the electronic surveillance case, and government insiders using the press, on an anonymous, confidential basis, in order to further governmental misconduct, as Libby, Rove and Cheney have done on the Valerie Plame case. If we want to carry out the first amendment purpose of stopping governmental misconduct, there should be a privilege of confidentiality in the first case but not the second.

One suspects that The Times, as it should, will fight the government to the death if its reporters are subpoenaed in the warrantless surveillance case. For about a couple of months now, the paper’s news columns (like some other media too) have regularly given the reasons why sources who revealed particular matters did so only on condition of anonymity. It is regularly said in news stories that sources required anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about a matter, or because a matter was classified, etc. This likely is being done partly as a result of the heat that has recently been put on the media for its prior vast overuse of anonymous sources without ever mentioning the fact, let alone the reason for it. But doubtlessly it is also being done to build a record, a public record, of all the information that the paper (like other media) could bring to the public only by granting anonymity to sources who otherwise would not talk. One builds a record for a reason. Here the reason almost surely is to have a conveniently available public record of the importance of confidentiality in bringing important information to people should there be legal proceedings seeking to force reporters to reveal sources’ identities or confidential information or documents, or should it prove necessary to seek state or federal legislation protecting the confidentiality of sources. So, as said, the Times (and other media too) seems to be preparing to fight if necessary, and one say more power to them in the warrantless surveillance matter, where our freedoms are at stake.
* * * * *
This brings me to the subject of Congress. This body has been assailed here on prior occasions as being collectively and individually cowardly and unintelligent, and as failing to meet its constitutional responsibilities in the area of national defense. In this regard it has intentionally surrendered to the executive its power to decide in war lest legislators lose favor and elections due to their decisions on whether we should fight wars. Craven, selfish political purposes have triumphed big time over responsibility and intelligence, a triumph which is not confined to the subject of war, where legislators let the President do whatever he wants, but which extends to all areas, so that money rules everything and rotten human beings, even crooks, like Tom DeLay and Duke whatshisname, become national leaders inside the congress and the Abramofs of the world become mastermind manipulators outside of it.

The institutional and individual rot in Congress has now been put on display in the electronic surveillance area. Here Congress was supposed to exercise oversight over the executive branch. Well, the way this "oversight" was "exercised" was that a small number of legislators at the head of relevant committees would go to the White House, where Cheney and company would rapidly go through subjects that are claimed to be technical and complex. The legislators could bring no staff and were not allowed even to take notes -- how could any self respecting human being accept a condition under which he or she is told, has it imposed on him/her, is ordered, that he/she is not permitted to take notes on a serious and difficult subject but is expected nonetheless to learn and exercise oversight over it. We would consider a no-notetaking edict bizarre, foolish and self defeating if imposed even on a high school freshman, let alone a student in college or graduate school, yet here are federal legislators going along with this. How craven, how despicable. The mind reels at this display of good soldier Schweikism, at this craven performance worthy of a totally subjugated Reichstag.

In addition to being allowed no staff and no notes, legislators say they were unable to discuss what they learned with anybody, lest they violate rules of classification and secrecy. When one of them, Jay Rockefeller, wished to register concerns in writing, he could not even have a secretary type the letter lest the secretary see what he was saying, and instead he had to send a handwritten letter. (And when one NSA official privately mentioned his concerns to a Congressional official, nothing ensued because "‘People just looked the other way because they didn’t want to know what was going on.’") Words fail one. How can grown men and women act so cravenly? Is there no self pride? I guess to put the question is to answer it, as I think Holmes once said.

What an interesting, what a horrible, contrast is highlighted by all this. Here we have an institution which is almost universally conceded to be filled with incredible egotists, yet at the same time its members are so craven and so lacking in a healthy self pride and a healthy sense of dignity, that they can be imposed on in this way. Oh boy. Oh boy, indeed.

And now that the Times has performed (if a year tardily) the enormous public service of disclosing the warrantless surveillance ( a disclosure for which its anonymous sources should be given medals but will instead receive jail sentences if Bush has his way), members of Congress, including some of the handful of supposed "oversighters" apparently, are, to quote Humphrey Bogart, "shocked, shocked" by what they are learning. Well this craven group has about as much right to be shocked at what the Executive is doing as the Reichstag had to be shocked at things Hitler did. The cravens in Congress allowed it to happen, doing so by acceding to impossible, craven and even undignified conditions and, having in this way sowed the wind, they are now doing no more than reaping the whirlwind of their despicable irresponsibility.

Now being "shocked, shocked" at what Congress’ decades of irresponsibility have wrought, some legislators are starting to talk about corrective action, even impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Well, we shall see what the new year brings. It has been said here many times that there should be impeachment because Bush and Cheney are plainly committing the felony of conspiracy to commit torture, which is punishable by up to life imprisonment and, being a felony, is an impeachable high crime or misdemeanor. No conservative has ever written or emailed to deny that they are violating the anti-torture statute, but thus far neither Congress nor the media has wanted to discuss this. Now Bush and Cheney are committing the felony of unlawful electronic surveillance in violation of the FISA, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and is likewise an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor. (Senator Boxer says that she heard John Dean say that Bush’s recent admission about the surveillance is the first time that he, Dean, had ever heard a President admit to an impeachable offense.)

So now we know that Bush is guilty of at least two impeachable crimes. And many people think -- not implausibly -- that the distortions if not outright lies by which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., took us into war are themselves impeachable as political (albeit not legal) high crimes and misdemeanors.

So there are lots of grounds for impeachment, even without knowing other possible horribles that may be uncovered. But whether the congress, much less a Republican-controlled one, will have the political will, courage and brains to do its duty in this regard can justifiably be doubted.

There are other possible things brewing too, of course. Investigations are being discussed and censure is being mentioned. These actions may be, almost surely would be, politically easier than impeachment, but nothing can really substitute for it as a vehicle for stopping gross usurpations of power and ungodly distortions of the constitutional plan envisioned by the founders whom Bush and his fellow right wingers love to (falsely) cite.

The confirmation of Samuel Alito should also be affected, although, like impeachment, this probably won’t happen even though it should happen. By rights, as it were, Alito’s confirmation hearings should be put off until after full hearings are held, perhaps by the Senate Judiciary Committee, into the question of the gross usurpations of power by the Executive. Otherwise, at least if one assumes Congress might impeach and convict Bush/Cheney, or at minimum will issue a formal censure of them, we are likely to get yet another Supreme Court Justice nominated by an unsurper to carry out his views, including views of presidential power. (If memory serves, the Republicans stopped Abe Fortas from gaining a higher judicial position when Lyndon Johnson, who nominated him, had become thoroughly discredited, and one is hard pressed to understand any principled reason why the situation should be different now.)

But, assuming as one does that Alito’s nomination hearings will go forward as scheduled, it is more important than ever for Senators on the Judiciary Committee to ask him sharp, short, penetrating questions about his views of Presidential power, questions of the type Senator Specter had submitted to Harriet Miers (remember her in the welter of subsequent disasters?) and of the type illustrated here in a posting of November 4, 2005. It is similarly important that Senators demand full, candid answers to those questions, rather than letting Alito get away with the vanilla crapola they let John Roberts get away with, and that Senators reject Alito if his answers indicate that he would or might support, and would not necessarily vigorously oppose, the kind of constitutional distortions, the kind of overweening, freedom destroying executive supremacy, sought by the freedom-destroying unsurper of power who nominated him. We cannot remain a free country with the Bush/Cheney view of the Executive uber alles -- a view at the opposite pole from the framers’ desire for a government where, precisely to avoid tyranny, the legislature is supreme as between the two political branches, and the Senate should not confirm to the Supreme Court a man who will not pledge to oppose this usurpation, this destruction of the constitutional plan.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Re: George the Disconnected, Reading Woodward, Etc.

December 20, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

In the last few weeks I have received an unusual number of emails regarding postings on this blog. Almost all of those not previously posted here are set forth below. Most of them, I am happy to say, are favorable. Only one calls me names. (Naturally that person does not want his email address shown.)

Lawrence R. Velvel

From: Noel Acevedo
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 8:35 PM
Subject: George the Disconnected


Your last paragraph concerning the US never tries its political criminals brings to mind a rhetorical question. Taking as an example Baltazar Garzón's, the Spanish investigative judge, efforts to place Augusto Pinochet under arrest and to have him before a court of law for multiple crimes committed in Chile against foreign nationals during the Pinochet dictatorship, could it be at all possible to have a similar scenario in which an Iraqi national were to file criminal charges of crimes against humanity in a European forum against G Bush, placing G Bush in the extremely uncomfortable position of having to defend himself before those forums or restrict his travels? In the best case scenario, at least having his PR specialists having to truly spin..Thank you for your comments,

Noel Acevedo-Méndez Guaynabo,
Puerto Rico

From: jeffrey shonka
Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 5:17 PM
Subject: On Trying to Read Woodward

Do you really think you'd be attacking Woodward this way if he shared your ultra-liberal, socialist philosophy?

Your hypocrisy is in full view.

From: ruth hosek
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 4:03 PM
Subject: (No subject)

Dear Dr. Velvel,

Your most interesting discussion on nuclearization leads me to lead you to an horrific website. It is simply 'depleted uranium bombs information'. As you scroll down and through the information, you will find pictures. Friends of ours are dying of the aftereffects of these bombs. Many people seem to have no knowledge or understanding that there is no such thing as a depleted uranium bomb that is not radioactive. Is there any way to inform the public? How can these goings on continue? When and if we support the Iraqis with air power will we be using these bombs? The land these poor people inhabit is practically dead. Iraq was the cradle of civilization - the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers. Does no one remember?

Does anyone care?

From: John Hoff
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 2:03 PM
Subject: george disconnected.....?

dear sir,

nice article but poor george has very, very little to do with it (hell, him and cheney could be under blackmail). as long as zionist run this country, this will only be the beginning.

p.s. the fasten seat-belt light is on, and you might want to keep it fastened.

From: Scott Beckman
Date: Friday, December 16, 2005 3:46 PM
Subject: On Woodward


Scott Beckman

From: Howard Rogers
Date: Friday, December 16, 2005 1:28 PM
Subject: What the hell is going on?

Bush invades a country based upon faulty intelligence. To garner the support of our elected representatives, he cherry picks the intel that those reps actually see. Having invaded the offending country, he then arrests/detains/kidnaps those he deems to be enemies of the USA. He holds some of those arrested/detained/kidnapped at a network of overseas camps where they are apparently beyond the reach of US laws outlawing torture. Said prisoners are apparently flown (illegally?) through our allies airspace. He authorizes the NSA to expand its spying activities on American citizens. All this done to protect our way of life? Obviously I'm missing something.

Howard Rogers

PS Merry Christmas

From: Ellen Johnson
Date: Friday, December 16, 2005 5:45 PM
Subject: "On Trying to Read Woodward"

Maybe it was Carl Bernstein who was the reporter and writer and not Woodward. I've tried to read a number of Woodward's books, and to be truthful, have not finished a number of them. He is boring. He writes just likes he talks on TV. He gives me tired head. And I'm a political junkie.

Ellen Johnson

From: Paul Knopp
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 3:37 PM
Subject: Bush Prediction

My prediction is that Bush pulls the troops out, declares "freedom" and his poll numbers go to 65%. I've seen this movie before.

From: Freeberg, Richard
Date: Friday, December 09, 2005 11:55 AM
Subject: Honesty

Dear Dean Velvel -

I greatly appreciated your essay on counterpunch regarding honesty and openness, or the lack there of, in contemporary America as it reinforces my own perceptions, which I often have a hard time explaining to other "Amurcans". Keep up the good work.

My own humble analogy is to a family that attempts to function on a basis of secrecy and dishonesty, is a family that is deeply troubled and most likely, will not last for long.
The all Amurcan family has become one in which Mom and Dad are keeping their activities secret, and lying to each other. Spending wildly beyond their means, pursuing ill defined and narcissistic goals, running up unsustainable debts. Kids running wild, imitating their parents with lies and secrecy and exploiting the situation for their own selfish benefit.

For those wacko religious types who seem to like to pick and choose which part of the Bible they wish to quote (mostly old testament), I would point out that one of the most important of the Ten Commandants (along with Thou Shall Not Kill (Murder, Napalm, 'Neutralize', etc)) is, THOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS!

Keep up the good work. I have faith that, ultimately, Truth Shall Prevail.

Regards, Richard Freeberg

From: Bill
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 8:41 PM
Subject: Good Points Thank You

How true, the national press has not been showing that Bush is speaking mainly on military bases. I've been noticing this for weeks. Bush is a chicken, he showed it during the Vietnam war, of which I'm a disabled veteran, by using daddy's influence to put him ahead of thousands to get into the National Guard. Then he wasn't even honorable enough to finish or complete that obligation, and records disappear.

Bush was also a chicken on 9/11. I watched his face after the first plane hit, he was clueless as to what to do, then after the second one, he was scared, and clueless. The secret service had to keep telling him to get out of there, and then he heads to where. West, towards his home state of Texas, but somehow, someone, got through to his pea brain that the base in Nebraska would be safest against a plane attack. Only when everything was once again under control, for very sure, he headed back east. The man is just a stupid, coward, bully. Stereotype behavior isn't he.

Saddam could have been taken out with one bullet, even though it was, wink wink, against our law to take out foreign leaders. But then, how would the foolish ones friends in the oil industry, arms industry, and Haliburton make any money. We torture now, we kill leaders, the CIA has for years. I had a top secret crypto clearence in the service, same info Nixon was getting.
Why isn't our famed network news, cable news and others, reporting the facts in Iraq!!! I didn't mention FOX because they belong to Bush and his lies.

Anyway, thanks for keeping the truth out there, we can all only hope Rodan flies into the engine on one certain plane.

William Floyd

From: Curtis & Rosemary Schalek
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 2:31 PM
Subject: war criminals


I wholeheartedly agree, "...where we never bring national leaders to justice no matter how horrible their crimes or how many deaths they have needlessly caused. In America we never try the Johnsons, the Rusks, the McNamaras, the Nixons, the Kissingers, the Bushes, the Cheneys,...". It is something I have been saying for decades, but have been dismissed as being over-the-top. It is good to see someone of stature making the charge. Unfortunately, it will go unnoticed and virtually unreported in this nation of morons.


From: David P. Hamilton
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 9:48 PM
Subject: Obduracy.

Bush/Cheney obduracy is the linchpin of their doom. They are headed for defeat but cannot change course. That is a good thing. The historical verdict on Bush/Cheney will be that they crippled American imperialism and set the stage for Republican Party defeat.

David Hamilton

From: Gregory C. O'Kelly
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 6:56 PM
Subject: George the Disconnected

Amazement at the tonnage of bombs dropped on Viet Nam as compared to WWII Europe, and now upon Iraq, is partly due to a misconception as to what that tonnage is for. In WWII the targets were both strategic and tactical, with the strategic targets being the biggest waste of time and ordnance for result, with greater losses of aircrews and aircraft. Strategic bombardment, i.e., the targeting of civilians and industry, was a bonanza for military industrialists and armaments manufacturers despite having been judged by the post-WWII Strategic Bombardment Survey to be a military waste of time. Arms industrialists pushed even harder for indiscriminate 'carpet' bombing during the Viet Nam war to expend the iron bombs left over from earlier decades so that more could be manufactured. Jet planes even with only two engines could carry more than a WWII bomber, with a crew of one or two. As a cadet at the USAF Academy in 1968 I was told how the B-52s would bomb across the Ho Chi Minh trail rather than along it so that it would be guaranteed of being hit at least once or twice with each many-thousand pound load in the bombay and on the wings. The bombing was intensified not because of military necessity, but because of a military-industrial nexus which tailored tactics to industrial profit. Sure, the air force cannot bring about victory even while American troops are in Iraq, even though there is no opposing air force. Hell, the air force cannot even protect these troops. But that is not their mission. Their mission is not to gain control of the air, but to expend ordnance. Pulling out U.S. troops will result in ideal conditions for even more indiscriminate and massive bombings without people like Cindy Sheehan raising a stink, will allow for the testing of even more expensive weapons systems like bunker busters and hyper baric bombs, and, who knows, maybe a new generation of satellite weapons to protect the oil fields from the greedy inhabitants. The replacement of aging stockpiles of explosive devices hard to sell to third world countries unless they also have the aircraft to deliver them, and the loans to pay for both, is what drives this fall back upon the air force. Can you imagine how an embedded journalist with the air force or on an aircraft carrier can enlighten us about the realities of the war? It's all so clean, and profitable. And that is why I hate Bush more than you.

Gregory O'Kelly

From: scott denny
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 12:35 AM
Subject: Bush as bubble boy

Dear Lawrence:

I enjoyed your article and am glad you posed the question that, given this man'spersonality and track record, why would anyone believethings will change? It's beyond me though I do knowthat his party will begin to really put the screws tohim the closer they get to elections. We will see howhe responds.Also, haven't you always wondered what thosemilitary people are so wild about when Bush speaks? Is it "Hooray, we're going off to die"? or are theybought off with bribes of extra days off or something.I can't make sense of it. Finally, I thought that when Bush invaded Iraq themost telling and symbolic act was the looting. Anarchy. Then the disbanding of the army? It becameobvious to me that the war was the "thing" and thereal concern for the people was non-existent. Justlike Katrina, and as you point out, this man has nevershown any capacity for caring for those who are notrich. Your article does an excellent job by linkinghis failure and disasters to an utter lack ofcompassion. His recklessness is frightening. Thanksfor your articulate writing as it makes very strongconnections.Sincerely, Scott Denny

From: Anonymous
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 5:58 PM
Subject: Internet Free America:

Just read your article on George W's disconnectedness in "counterpunch." I'm only writing to thank you for your work. I'm a 58 year old non-combat Viet Nam vet and had the ability to watch Nixon on TV and tell he was lying. When I said Nixon was a lier my mother retorted, "that's the President of the United States you are talking about."
Anyway thanks again, guys like you are a true lifeline for some of us.

From: Rex
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 5:35 PM
Subject: "new" Iraq army will have old officiers

After hearing the Bush speech and reading the Victory in Iraq document I emailed Centcom in Iraq and asked for some details on what the actual plan is. They told me they plan to recruit 8,000 former Iraqi officers to lead the new army. These would the same people who were labled as "terrorists, al qaeda sympathizers, liars and deceivers" by Bush when they denied the existence of WMDs before the war. Now Bush trusts them to fight the "war on terror" as our surrogates. However we are apparently not planning to give them armor and weapons comparable to those of US forces which makes you wonder how they are supposed to put down the insurgents when our better equipped forces have not been able to do so. How effective will an Iraqi army be if it feels that the US has denied it the weapons it needs for its own protection?

Apparently we will also be providing air support to Iraqi forces for a long time to come although I could get no details on this.

From: Robin E Gaura
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 8:18 PM
Subject: your counterpunch article

Dear Professor,

I read with interest your article in counterpunch. I wanted to offer a thought, something that comes to me often while reading analysis of resident Bush's intentions or failings, etc.
It seems to me that the intentions of the neo-cons (perhaps more accurately described as cons.) was and is to destroy Iraq as a viable nation, just as they did to Yugoslavia. The parallels are striking. Both had national economies that were not open to the predations of international financial institutions. Both were broken apart by outside bombing campaigns which stimulated and revived local rivalries.

The cons have been quite successful in both cases. They have shown the world what will happen if you don't open your economies to predation. Your countries will be destroyed economically, and literally. Only cooperative dictators need apply (for loans from the international sharks). I understand that the mineral wealth of what was Yugoslavia is now run by American-French-Swedish consotia. They no longer have unions, or decent wages. The Bremer administration handed out the wealth and systems which produce wealth to their friends in Iraq. And during both conflicts Haliburton made money hand over fist in just providing support and housing to the troops. The industries which produce weapons of mass destruction (our biggest export) have also done quite well. Bombs are the ultimate in consumer products, you always need more!
So, I think they are feeling pretty successful. I don't really listen to speeches and such. They've been lying all along. They'll say anything to have free rein to pursue their objectives. Looking for logic or reason in it all is a pretty fruitless exercise. I don't credit poor Mr. Bush with what passes as thought. During the 9/11 event he looked drugged and hapless. He is a poster boy for a certain industrial/military agenda.

So, I expect Israel to bomb Iran next, since we can't invade them. Chaos and destruction in whole regions does not interfere with some interests making a lot of money. It has also had the effect of removing such civil rights as we may have had, and consolidating the media myth machinery to an absurd extent.

Oddly, I may have cynical moments, but I think that working on the front of conciousness we can pull out of this nightmare. When people see through a myth, it quickly changes everything. I chug along teaching, praying, and looking for openings.

Best Wishes and happiness of the season to you and yours,


From: Michael Walker
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005 7:04 PM
Subject: op-ed

As a Bush hater, I just love your ramblings.....Keep up the good work. Unfortunately for the American people, It all rings true.

Michael Walker

From: CQuil
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 11:49 AM
Subject: Iraqi army disbanded or "disappeared"

I read your article on Counterpunch this morning and found it very interesting. Regarding the disbanding of the Iraqi army after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Paul William Roberts in his recent book "The War Against Truth" speculates that there was a more permanent solution to the Iraqi army than simply disbanding it. The palaces, government buildings and airport in Baghdad are apparently connected by a vast number of underground tunnels. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, it is thought that the Republican Guard were ordered to go to the airport via the tunnels, where they would be evacuated to a friendly country. The number 2 in Iraq - forgive me if I forget his name - was the only one who had the authority to do this. In exchange for this, he was allowed out of the country unharmed. Once the Republican Guard were assembled, the tunnels were sealed and the Republican Guard dispatched by some kind of tactical weapon - incendiary, chemical, micro-nuke - who knows? He said that the comments by armed forces spokesmen begin to make sense in the light of this. They were often heard to say that the Guard had simply vanished, or "vapourized". As far as taking Saddam Hussein and his buddies out and simply shooting them, I have often wondered if that option hadn't already been tried, considering that special forces of several countries - U.S., Britain, and Israel, among others - had been operating in the region. It wouldn't have been a public execution, but the result would have been the same. I have a feeling that these guys just couldn't get anywhere near him (or any of his many body-doubles). Or maybe they got a few of the decoys, but not the man himself. Paranoid theories abound. I enjoy your columns. Counterpunch is wonderful to read when I feel I'm about to drown in spin or propaganda.

Carmelita McQuillan

From: Anonymous
Date: Saturday, December 17, 2005 4:34 AM
Subject: George the Disconnected

Dear Lawrence,

I 100% agree with your great "counterpunch" article.

From my point of view, you missed one point. Bringing Saddam before an international court of justice would allow him to explain in full details his relationship with CIA and US administration at the beginning of his reign. See how censored are the trial reports.

You give the example of Eichmann tried in Israël. Just remember that, at his trial, he didn’t deny what happened in Nazi camps but he also mentioned (obviously carefully censored) this was in intelligence with those who were just trying him. That’s why he was rapidly executed, before he could write his memories.

So the same may happen to Saddam unless America gets rid of Bush and his neo-cons faster.


From: matthew carmody
Date: Sunday, December 18, 2005 1:26 PM
Subject: Woodward

Dear Dean Velvel:

Thanks for the article on Counterpunch.

I have only read one of Woodward’s books, Veil, and I only read that because I thought I could glean some tidbits that would out Bush I’s role in Iran-Contra. I received Plan of Attack as a gift and I am waiting for Christmas so that I can give it to my sister-in-law as a gift (I received it from her husband).

Having read Len Colodny’s Silent Coup I was not, and am not surprised, by Woodward’s actions in this Plame case. Woodward is a part of the intelligence community. He was an integral part of it when Nixon was done in, and he has never ceased to be a part of it.

His actions are reprehensible and why the Post continues to employ him is beyond me, although I do not have any illusions about that organ’s part in the massive disinformation campaign that has been perpetrated against the American people in the past thirty years.

For someone of your background to call Woodward’s books boring makes me certain that I have not missed anything from him. Hubris runs deep in Washington these days, doesn’t it?

Matt Carmody

From: Dev Parikh
Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 8:47 PM
Subject: thanks

Dean Velvel:

I really appreciated the piece that you wrote in Counterpunch a while ago about the incredible snobbery and elitism in the legal community, especially as regards Supreme Court appointments. I think that you wrote in the context of the Harriet Miers appointment. As an attorney, I have frequently received the condescension of rather witless Yale and Harvard graduates. I can remember in law school, that the dean attempted to retain bumbling teachers who graduated from Ivy League law schools, but he would not retain talented professors who went to state schools. So, thanks for shining a light on the elitism in our profession.

Dev Parikh

Date: Saturday, December 17, 2005 7:34 PM
Subject: counterpunch article on iraq

I am your former student from CUA Law School. Except for your course and about two others, I hated CUA as a boring unimaginative place in 1973. Nevertheless, I graduated, became a lawyer for a trade magazine association for about 25 years, and now teach high school literature to black and Hispanic kids in PG County. My interest in your views has been continual; I'm aware of your gallant fight against ridiculous accreditation policies.

I'm delighted to see you are in the forefront of legal education in Massachusetts. Prior to my attendance at CU, I lived in Mass. from birth, graduating Brandeis in 69.

I find your article as to be expected well-written, sardonic, and clear. I agree with your assessment of bush as a leader, but I do believe contrary to your view, that the effort in iraq is worthwhile. Islamist ideology is a threat to Western Civilization which I do believe is better than any posed alternatives. Yes, Saddam kept the islamists in torture chambers where they belong. But here we are with the islamists crawling all over the iraqi landscape. They must be stopped as many Arab countries understand (Algeria as an example which used brutal methods to survive as a modern society).

The limited brained American public did need to be scared into war, but oil not Wmd, was and is the reason to be scared. The war is about oil, and that is as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing. What would the price of oil be if the islamists controlled the pump? Economic collapse of the West would lead to political demise of constitutional democracy. I recall that you were a defender of civil rights, but with few illusions of the intelligence of the general public. Your skepticism still redounds in your recent article.

Roosevelt barely preserved democracy against a depression; the public then was used to hardships even in time of prosperity. The end of cheap oil from the Middle East? Today's non-agricultural, automated society would sacrifice democracy for creature comfort in a minisecond.
Since I value what freedom we do have in our ipod obsessed world, I say let the Shia liquidate the Sunnis. Just keep the oil flowing so I can teach one or two kids that Western Civilization is better than multicultural blah blah or Chinese capitalist fascism or African phony kwazaaism.
You've heard the old saw: put the First Amendment on the ballot and it would be defeated. "We the People" haven't the slightest idea of what's in the US constitution and wouldn't like it if they did know.

Good to know you're alive and kicking. I am proud that you were my instructor.

From: Anonymous
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Date: Saturday, December 17, 2005 10:58 PM
Subject: Re: Lies, Lies & More Lies

That's a great point you make, Dean, that lying inevitably leads to incompetence and disaster.

All these nominees are nominated because they WILL write their biases into the law. That's the whole point and their various champions, including Bush, make no bones about it. Becker certainly IS deluded. I have noted that people who fall victim to the delusions brought upon themselves through hubris, lose awareness of how they are perceived by others much the same way alcoholics do in their grandiosity. I regard all these people as quite "potty" to one degree or another. Not a comforting thought.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Re: Lies, More Lies And The Moral Equivalent Of Lies

December 13, 2005

Re: Lies, More Lies And The Moral Equivalent Of Lies.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

For various reasons this posting will be the last one on this blog in 2005. So, given this writer’s view that dishonesty is the major problem of America, it is perhaps fitting to end 2005 with some further discussion of the issue.

As said here many times, dishonesty and its enabler, secrecy, lead to incompetence and disaster because they cause people to form views and take actions on the basis of false conceptions. For world shaking confirmation of this point one need consider only three words: Viet Nam (yes, Viet Nam, spelled properly, is two words, not one) and Iraq. We got into the Viet Nam War because of falsehoods about attacks in the Tonkin Gulf -- and only in the last few weeks have even further, recently discovered falsehoods about them, falsehoods by the NSA, been publicly disclosed, a delay that apparently is partly attributable to fears of comparisons with the governmental deceptions regarding Iraq. We got into Iraq by a whole string of falsehoods too recent and familiar to need repetition.

There are many who say that in both cases, and especially Iraq, the people who perpetrated the falsehoods did not exactly lie, for two reasons. There was, to begin with, some evidence, even if inadequate evidence, for their position (e.g., purported evidence that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda or sought weapons of mass destruction). Also, however stupidly, they believed what they said (e.g., Cheney really did think Saddam was tied to Al Qaeda).

No matter. To me it is all lies or, very importantly, the moral equivalent of lies. When you very much want something to be believed or done, when you therefore deliberately seize on inadequate evidence to persuade people to it, when you present the evidence as if it were (unchallengeable) gospel without explaining its shortcomings or possibly erroneous character, when you do this and deliberately ignore all the facts and intellectual points on the other side of the matter so that people with far more limited or no access to them will not learn of them, what you are doing is the moral equivalent of outright lying. By the quite proper standard of moral equivalency, we have a government of liars and, indeed, a country filled with liars in every walk of life.

The politicians and the news media like to call it "spin." To me it is the same as outright lies.

These days, moreover, it is amazing but true (no lie) that outright lying, or its moral equivalent, have even reached the point where high mucky mucks will lie (or spin?) even when their listeners or readers know they are not telling the truth. Take, for example, Condoleezza Rice, a woman whom I believe, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not very intelligent and has even less creativity, and whose main qualification for high office is that she is what might be called a Georgian suck-up. Rice has been going around Europe saying that America does not engage in torture. Is there anyone who believes her line of bovine defecation? America does not commit torture? Yeah, right. Tell it to the marines, as we used to say about fifty years ago. Everyone knows she is lying, but lying has become such a habit for American officials that she goes ahead and says it anyway.

One even gets the sense that, because it apparently has become somewhat common for our officials to even fool themselves by credulously accepting any bovine defecation, however false, that supports their position, Rice may even believe the lies she is spouting. After all, her hero, George, says we don’t torture. Also, "clever" administration lawyers -- who were rewarded by federal judgeships and prestigious professorships but who should instead be drummed out of the profession and sent to jail because they, acting just like the German judges did, have found purported reasons why torture is not torture, why waterboarding, hanging people by their arms and the like are not torture -- have opined that what Americans are doing is lawful rather than being forbidden torture.

But whatever she does or does not believe, in my view Rice’s comments were either lies or their moral equivalent. And, without meaning to be cynical about it but only truthful, let me say that her bovine defecation is precisely what we can expect from someone who runs around -- as a news report has made clear -- accompanied by some hack flack P.R. guy who is looking every minute to make her appear glorious and wonderful and heroic in photo ops and other P.R. modes. There is an entire class of people in this culture - - from presidents to movie and TV stars, to corporate presidents, to you name it -- to whom image is everything and reality is little or nothing. This pervasive image-mongering phenomenon, for which we can thank John Kennedy in politics and television everywhere, and which is sometimes called sizzle rather than steak, makes bovine defecation for public consumption the order of the day, while truth, competence and true accomplishment sit at the back of the bus or aren’t even on it. One cannot expect a participant like Condoleezza Rice to tell the truth any more than one should expect another participant, George Bush, to tell the truth.

In connection with the moral equivalency of lying, let us now turn briefly to the Alito matter. It has, of course, become commonplace for nominees to say whatever they hope will fly in support of their own nominations, regardless of the truth of their assertions. So it was that John Roberts said he did not really mean what he wrote in the 1980's, but wrote it only because he worked for right wing politicians -- in other words, he in effect claimed that he did not share the right wingers’ views, but wrote what he did merely to curry their favor. Gimme a break. He meant the terrible things he wrote, everyone knew he meant them, and if he didn’t mean them, but wrote them merely to curry favor, he was a disgrace. A current liar or a prior disgrace, take your pick.

The same is true with Alito. He says he made reactionary statements in 1985 not because he meant what he said, but only because he was seeking higher positions in the Reagan Administration. Well, given his history when younger, nobody in their right mind is likely to believe he didn’t mean what he said in 1985, and if he didn’t mean it, then, as would be true of Roberts as well under his claim, Alito was a careerist willing to say anything, no matter how awful, in order to get ahead.

One notes that The Times took out after the Alitoist "logic" in an editorial of December 3rd. It said Alito "was ‘particularly proud,’ he wrote [in 1985], of his work as a lawyer on cases arguing ‘that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.’ Judge Alito has tried to explain away that fairly unambiguous statement by saying he was simply an advocate seeking a job. That immediately raised questions about his credibility. Had he misrepresented his views to get a job? Is he misrepresenting them now to get an even more important one?" In other words, was Alito lying then, or is he lying now? And if he was lying then, he is plainly a careerist instead of only a liar.

(One cannot know why The Times so boldly stated the truth about Alito in its editorial. But one suspects it is part of an overall effort to expiate guilt for the newspaper’s major role in causing the public to believe the Bushian bovine defecation that led to the invasion of Iraq, a role the paper played by presenting lies and spin as if they were unchallengeable truth and by itself not challenging the bushwa. Today one is seeing "retortive" pieces, debunking Administration lies, literally alongside the news stories presenting those lies and spin, and one is seeing constant references, when anonymous governmental (and other) sources are quoted or cited, to the reason(s) why those sources insist on anonymity (the sources are not authorized to discuss the matter, the information is classified, etc.). That Alito’s baloney was not allowed to get away unremarked seems to be of a piece. But, regardless of The Times' refusal to let Alito get away with bushwa, it remains to be seen whether the Senate Judiciary Committee will refuse to let Alito get away with the same kind of bovine defecation that The Times exploded on November 23rd and that the Committee permitted Roberts to get away with extensively, instead of pressing Alito quite concretely and quite specifically with sharp, short, pointed questions of the type suggested and illustrated here in a post of November 4, 2005.

The Alito matter should not be allowed to pass without noting comments made by one of his colleagues on the Third Circuit, Edward Becker. Federal judges like to try to fool the rest of us by claiming that they are merely following "the law." (One suspects that, as is almost always true of people defending their own righteousness, the people the judges are fooling the most are themselves. This is not too different from Administration officials when you think about it.) In a related vein, Becker commented to The Times on Alito’s 1985 statements. Here is what The Times then wrote:

But a colleague of Judge Alito, Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit, who is also a close friend of Mr. Specter, said Friday that the memorandum did not reflect Judge Alito’s approach on the bench, which he said was to look "at every case anew with an open mind."

"It is not the Sam Alito I know," Judge Becker said. "People don’t understand what happens to you when you become a judge. When you take that oath, you are transformed. You are a different person. You have a solemn obligation to be totally impartial and fair."

Now, I know and respect people who themselves know and respect Becker. So I’m not going to say Becker is lying. But he plainly is deluded. Anybody who is realistic knows that judges don’t lose their own fundamental values when they go on the bench. To very roughly paraphrase a point made by Alan Dershowitz on TV recently, you are not going to find a political liberal who suddenly becomes a political conservative on the bench or vice versa. To be sure, some -- but certainly not all, maybe not even a majority of -- federal judges may feel constrained to operate within parameters that prevent them from writing their political views into the law in the usual case, but even such judges take the opportunity where they find it. Others feel far freer to do so -- does anyone think that the views that Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas did or would write into the law were not a reflection of their deep conservatism? Does anyone think that the views that Bill Douglas and Bill Brennan wrote into the law were not a product of their liberalism? In all such cases, gimme a break.

Becker is deluded. He is in fact self deluded, as shown by our law school’s own experience. Our school is dedicated to aiding the small person, and people from the working class, but the pertinent rules of the American Bar Association look in quite the opposite direction. I have described here before, in a blog of November 28, 2005 (and it has been described more fully in books and articles cited in that blog), how a trial judge in Philadelphia bigotedly ruled in favor of the ABA and against our law school on virtually every point and issue in a case where the ABA was so clearly violating the antitrust laws and injuring our school that it settled with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division on the very day that the Division filed a case that mirrored ours -- didn’t just echo it, mirrored it. The ABA did not dare let the matter attain the terrible and widespread publicity -- not to mention the adverse verdict -- that would have arisen with regard to its illegal methods and techniques had the Division’s case proceeded onward to trial. So the ABA entered an immediate settlement, called a "consent judgment." Yet in a fit of prejudiced bigotry in favor of the ABA, which was and is the establishment in the legal profession, and against a small progressive upstart that dared to challenge the ABA, the trial judge in MSL’s case, J. William Ditter, ruled virtually every relevant ABA claim meritorious no matter how specious, ruled virtually every relevant MSL claim specious no matter how meritorious, viciously attacked prestigious lawyers representing MSL (one of whom is now himself a federal judge) as well as MSL’s Dean (this writer), and claimed there was nothing at all wrong with a horrendous conflict of interest that he himself had. Then, in every relevant particular, his totally bigoted decisions were upheld by what is called a "three judge panel" of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision which itself represented the same bigoted pro-ABA, anti-small-progressive-upstart favoritism, as well as bigoted favoritism in support of a federal trial judge when he is challenged by a small non-establishment upstart. The Third Circuit’s decision was so farcical that I’ve been told (but cannot verify) that some lawyers who have had to read it when working on later antitrust cases of one type or another simply laughed to scorn its transparent favoritism and error.

And who was one of the judges who was on the three judge panel of the Third Circuit that displayed bigoted favoritism towards the ABA, towards the establishment, and against a small school that did not agree with the anti-small-person, anti-working class views of the establishment ABA? Well, none other than Ed Becker, the judge who now tells us, in support of Sam Alito, "‘People don’t understand what happens to you when you become a judge. When you take that oath, you are transformed. You are a different person. You have a solemn obligation to be totally impartial and fair.’"

Well, even if Ed Becker is self deluded, lots of us do understand what does or doesn’t happen to someone who becomes a federal judge. Apart from the quantum leap in egotisticalness that often (usually?) occurs, absolutely nothing happens. One’s values and fundamental beliefs do not get checked at the door. Some judges write their beliefs into law to a greater extent, and some to a lesser extent. But future events -- future history, as it were -- is likely to show that anyone who presently thinks that Sam Alito, if confirmed, will not write his beliefs into law to either a greater or lesser extent has another think coming. Making a claim to the contrary strikes me as just another moral equivalent of dishonesty put forward in an effort to fool people who really ought to know better.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.