Friday, December 23, 2005

Former Senator Tom Daschle and Charles Krauthammer editorials

Power We Didn't Grant

By Tom Daschle

In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

The Post

Meanwhile, the always curmudgeonly Charles Krauthammer speaks of "impeachment nonsense". I am certain he saw right through the Republicans motives when they impeached former President Clinton. Krauthammer calls 2005, the "Year of the demagogues". The chutzpah of right wing pundits never ceases to amaze. Post 9/11, the Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld triumvirate have done nothing but appeal to the emotions (and dare I say prejudices) of the American people in order to pursue their war against Saddam Hussein and the religious right engaged in demagoguery in order to win the 2004 election. There is nothing wrong in asking the President to be accountable for lying to the American people, deceiving Congress and spying on American citizens. All options should be on the table throughout this investigation.


Blogger indygirl said...

That's right. It's NOT ok.

December 23, 2005  
Blogger Moulton said...

One of the problems arising from legislation written in word-based languages like English is that such legislation doesn't spell out the precise functions contemplated in the legislation.

The 2001 legislation was uncommonly vague. Basically it said to the White House, "Do what has to be done; do what you think is best."

But even when laws are carefully crafted so as to avoid such foolish vagueness, they still fall short of delineating the functions to be performed, since word-based languages like English are too weak to spell out functions.

If you have ever looked at computer code that spells out a function to be performed, you'll appreciate why computer code cannot be written in English (or any other word-based language).

When you're defining a function, you're doing something mathematical, and you need a language powerful enough to express mathematical terms. English is not that language.

That's why our political systems are so dysfunctional. Politics is carried out in a language too weak to spell out the functions we require of a functional policy.

December 23, 2005  
Blogger torporific said...

The 2001 legislation was uncommonly vague. Basically it said to the White House, "Do what has to be done; do what you think is best."

All Congressional language is like this. This way the real powers (administrative agencies) can do with the legislation what they will.

December 23, 2005  
Blogger Moulton said...

When people in power can do what they will, with wide latitude, they will do unexpected and variable things. That turns government into a variety of game known as 'drama'.

When I studied Game Theory back in the early days, the subject did not subsume Drama Theory. Now it does. Had John Forbes Nash studied Drama Theory when he was making his own seminal contributions to classical Game Theory, his own life might not have turned out to be so storied.

Harold Bloom says that modern literature belongs to the Chaotic Age — that being the characteristic feature of human dramas in which the main characters operate in a Rule-Based Paradigm.

Postmodern literature could well be called literature of the Cybernetic Age, because the main characters in such stories operate in Model-Based Paradigms.

Model-Based Systems are those grounded in carefully crafted functions rather than vaguely crafted rules.

Function-based systems are highly stable, orderly and predictable, unlike rule-based systems which are now well-known to be highly unstable, erratic, chaotic, dysfunctional, and rife with drama that invariably runs to stunning tragedy.

December 23, 2005  

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