Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The House vote

Here’s a list of Congressmen who, for better or worse (mostly for worse) broke ranks with their parties on the non-binding resolution. I’d like to single out Gene Taylor (D-MS) and Jim Marshall (D-GA) for applause, and to note that Ron Paul (R?-TX) has the courage of his profoundly misguided convictions.

Discussions - 35 Comments

More to the point, the "Republicans" who voted for this garbage deserve our contempt.

Ron Paul is da man. He recognizes that there is nothing conservative about nation building. As does Jimmie Duncan of Tennessee. Did you see his speech? He makes the same point. Historic conservatism was for non-intervention.

True Right? Please explain the right- wing justification for nation building and democratization at gun-point.

"And now, the seventeen Republicans who decided today to end their political careers:"

That is big talk. It may well be the other way around. Senators who are up in ’08 are moving away from the War as fast as they can.

Dan, "nation building" is not the issue. The issue is that we have men over there who are killing bad guys and will be killing during the surge. Many of the bad guys, namely the thousands of al Qaeda, are clear enemies of the U.S. We also need to do the best we can for a situation we have gotten into, whether we should initially have done so or not. As for "democratization at gunpoint," that is a misguided phrase which suggests that we are forcing democracy on the Iraqis. Nations in this day and age do not voluntarily choose anything else, so you’ve set up a false dilemma, and you’re also disrespecting the sacrifice and heroism of our troops. They believe they are helping a high percentage of the people of Iraq. There is no reason to believe otherwise. As for "polls" in this kind of situation, they’re meaningless, for the same reason that our presence there is difficult -- many bad guys with guns and bombs terrorizing the place. Make the analytical points you want. Do not pollute this site with defamatory, anti-military, Michael Moore drivel.

My Congressman is on that list, and I did not expect it of him. Maybe he is responding to the turn to the Democrats of Ohio in the last election. It’s a pity.

Then yes, I agree with you, David Frisk. To give such a gift to the enemies of our soldiers is just wrong. If those Republicans did so to advance their political careers, more shame to them.

"Ron Paul is da man. He recognizes that there is nothing conservative about nation building. As does Jimmie Duncan of Tennessee. Did you see his speech? He makes the same point. Historic conservatism was for non-intervention."

Well, liberal, er "progressive" Democrat[tics] do seem to be having an identity crisis (nevermind the "liberal" label, do they even really consider themselves "Americans" anymore?), perhaps they won’t mind, save for the obvious racist overtones, being called "Historic" conservatives, eh? :)

Dan Phillips, is there anything "conservative" or American in losing wars? I never knew that defeat, loss, failure, ignominious withdraw and vanquishment were "conservative" virtues. Take a look at the Americans pushing for defeat, who pushed for defeat in the Cold War, who pushed for defeat in our Civil War, who told the nation that we would get bogged down in Grenada. YES, Grenada! Go check out the people who said that we were sure to lose the first Gulf War, and are agitating for a self-induced defeat in this one. Now ask yourself, when did Conservatives make common cause with forces for American decline, American humiliation, American defeat. Take a look at who you’re politically aligned with. Just take a good look around you........

When has the Left been right about anything?

7: Dan, mega-dittoes. Defeat and ignominious withdrawal are certainly unconservative.

And un-American, as you say.

Votes like this are the manifestation of the public view of the war. We in the GOP have largely lost that debate on the issues, so we can’t act shocked and outraged when the inevitable consequences follow. Unless we turn public opinion around somehow, there will be worse things coming through Congress than this non-binding resolution.

Congressmen follow public opinion, they don’t set it. And its probably unfair to expect any more of them.


It isn’t we Conservatives who’ve lost anything. It’s rather the White House, the Bush White House, which has scorned engaging in a public relations fight, which has scorned the wider ideological aspect of this war. If there has been any failure heretofore, that responsibility rests largely with the Bush ethos, their family idiosyncrasies, the weird, anachronistic ideas that are part of the Bush family’s mental baggage. It’s that which has brought this country to a place where close to fifty percent are just completely livid with him, livid with him personally.

Both father and son had approval numbers at stratospheric levels, and both father and son scorned using their popularity in ways to push a genuinely Conservative agenda, choosing instead to try to introduce some largely mythical "bipartisaness" in Washington, D.C. Reagan never deluded himself about the dubious virtues of bipartisaness, never deluded himself that Democrats were completely hostile to just about everything he was trying to accomplish. But the men of the Bush family have this idea that "public service" some scrubs clean those involved therein.

Their attitude is both naive and idealistic, commendable and contemptible, in a word, ENIGMATIC!


The one way that Conservatives have been to blame however, is that they allowed him to get away with much of this nonsense. No one ever got in his face. After the shellacking in November, Rush Limbaugh confided on the air that he was "tired of carrying their water." Shouldn’t have that attitude been expressed DIRECTLY to Cheney, face to face, mano a mano. Conservative talk radio, the Conservative blogosphere NEVER tossed their weight around. They easily could have imposed personnel changes on this White House. There was no way anybody should have tolerated Andy Card as Chief of Staff for a single hour, let alone a single day. The fact that Harriet Meirs was appointed White House Counsel is a disgrace. WHERE WAS THE OUTRAGE? There was absolutely no way that Karen Hughes should have been tolerated at State. She might, MIGHT have a finger on the political pulse of America’s Bible Belt, but she hasn’t a fricken clue about islam, about jihad, about razza, about dawa, about taqqiya. It’s a toss-up to know which woman is more out of her depth, Hughes, Meirs, and unfortunately, you can toss in Condi into that now too. She’s gone native, and that tells us she was NEVER ALL THAT!

Don’t hear much of that "CONDI FOR PRESIDENT!" crap anymore do you? There’s a small sign of both progress. The blinders have come off of the Conservative base, BIG TIME as Cheney would say.

If Limbaugh, Bennett, Hewitt, Prager, Medved, Hannity and Ingraham had issued an ultimatum earlier in this Presidency, we never would have been hammered in November. Instead, we would have DELIVERED the hammering.

If this White House continues on their course towards Carteresque cluelessness, history will be utterly baffled to understand what drove this President off the deep end.


There are several terms that Conservatives need to start getting real comfortable tossing around. Such as "pusillanimousness," "ignominious," "shameful," "loss of nerve," "loss of manhood," "San Francisco values," "Bay Area values," {a variation on the foregoing theme...}. Another term that we need to start using daily is "satanic," when we describe our enemies, that should be the word for the duration of the conflict. If asked why, the answer is short and self-evident, "No one speaks of genocide, of supremacism, no one speaks of other humans being "less than apes and pigs WITHOUT being satanic."

Rest assured, the last six years of this Presidency would have been VERY DIFFERENT had this lawyer the ear of the President.

For starters, you never would have heard the President utter that "islam is peace" nonsense. This is how I would have told him to handle that question, when it inevitably came up: "Whether islam is peace or not, I don’t know, I don’t care, but I can tell ya this, when we got it down with it, IT WILL BE PEACE, and those that are UNpeaceful, will wish to God that it HAD been peace." That’s the type of robust common sense that would have deeply resonated with the American people.

The President is a guy who jumped on Kerry’s gaffe of "global test" during the debates. But ever since winning reelection, he’s governed completely consistent with that idea of a "global test," an idea he properly scorned during his reelection campaign.

It’s as I said, he’s an enigma, and the people around him haven’t steadied him, haven’t reinforced his AMERICAN attributes, his Texan inclinations. Instead he’s got people around him who urge him to try again and again, to ingratiate himself with the Washington elite, and the international elite.

And the results of that unAmerican pursuit are all around you, and were on display today, in the halls of power in Washington, with that whifty vote.

I need to correct that typo, usually I let typos go, confident that the reader isn’t an idiot, and absorbed the gist of my remark. But this is a typo that craves alteration, because it’s the type of language the President should be using.

So, the way for the President to have INITIALLY addressed the question of islam, in the IMMEDIATE aftermath of 9/11 was in this manner: "Whether islam is peace or not, I don’t know, {then he simply should have shrugged his shoulders in a way to reinforce the utter honesty of his remarks} and then again, I DON’T CARE, for when we get done with it, IT WILL BE PEACE, {a look of UTTER determination and ruthlessness then should have been his mien}, and those who weren’t peace, will wish to God that it HAD BEEN peace" {and then, with a flash of anger and eagerness to get at the enemy on his face, he should have turned and walked away}. THAT’S the way to handle some of this nonsense. OF COURSE later, the American people would have had to be informed of the history of jihad, what the forces of islam did to European North Africa, did to the Byzantine Empire, how they invaded Europe again and again, how Mohammad said "First Constantinople, then Rome." All of that would have been necessary. He never should have bothered WASTING HIS CREDIBILITY by trying to whitewash the history of jihad. That’s part of why his credibility has vanished. He says "islam is peace" when the news tells us daily that it’s mayhem. He tells us the Arabs are our friends and tries to deliver over our ports to them, when every single rational American was horrified at the suggestion.

The vote is unfortunate, the outcome of the election was unfortunate. But I agree with John in comment 10 that we can’t act too shocked and outraged about this basically symbolic consequence of the Democratic, anti-war victory.

Yes, worse may come from the House. Much depends on what happens now "on the ground" in Iraq and elsewhere. Pelosi and Co. are behaving just as many of you predicted, while I continued to hope for something better. You were right, and I was wrong.

I want the Liberal Gotterdammerung...I want them to have it ALL their own way. I want them to take the Presidency in 2008, and I want them to drive the country into a ditch (as Clinton used to say of our handling of the economy). I’m ready for the chemo...let’s do it.

Why? Because the country is chock-full of can’t-see-passed-the-end-of-their-own-noses, feeling-holy-is-better-than-being-holy stoopids who have been brainwashed by two generations of multicultural BS. 9/11 woke them up for about 2 years (woke them to the realities of life, I mean), but they’ve gone back to sleep in their cushy American-Idol, Ipod cocoons. It’s a Clintonesque political world again, and it will have to get worse before it gets better. So stick in the need and let the poision flow...sooner its done, the faster our recovery.

oh, too much passion! The last sentence should read "So stick in the needle and let the poison flow...sooner it’s done, the faster our recovery."

Joseph Knippenberg, what exactly is "profoundly misguided" about Ron Paul’s convictions?

By far, they are sounder, more direct, more relevant, more succinct, and more articulate than those of anyone else in a position of responsibility.

Paul, like founding-era and 19th-century statesmen (up until McKinley), understands well that American foreign policy is for the good of _Americans_ always and foremost, and for the good of other nations only incidentally -- however ennobling and thumos-stirring that a mission to liberate others might seem to be (see, e.g., Pres. Monroe’s reference to Greece in his State of the Union Address of 1823).

Likewise, Paul knows that it would be hazardous to Americans’ domestic order of liberty (and limited government) to get entangled with or try to change the domestic order of foreign nations. It was (and remains) challenging enough to seal the many and deep fissures among Americans without the domestic inflammation that comes from trying to manage other countries’ partisan divisions (or civil wars).

In addition, founding-era and 19th-century statesmen kept their military engagements short and had practical definitions of victory. Even though it occupied Mexico’s capital as of 1847, the U.S. didn’t even try to reform the tyranny and anarchy of its next-door neighbor, and resisted annexing it. These statesmen also kept the public debt for wars relatively small and discharged it quickly after victory.

For Paul, the Constitution -- and American lives, liberty, and property -- are worth conserving above all, in all policies that the government makes. This kind of conservatism alone provides a sensible measure for deciding on any war, and a sensible definition of victory.

It’s wise to expect worse to come. If it looks like the surge strategy is gaining traction, the Dems will pull out everything and anything to make sure it becomes a failure.

Their entire party, and their chances for years to come is staked to failure. They’ve nailed their colours to the mast, [of course their colours consist of a white bed sheet, with a big ole yellow stain smack dab in the middle of it...], if Bush should somehow pull Iraq out of its death spiral by an influx of additional troops, their party won’t know how to respond. They’ll really be in a bind.

Of course that assumes a political opposition that demonstrates some savvy. And the GOP of late, is best described as the party of the corpulent, the complacent and the unimaginative. The GOP is the party of a an Andy Card, not a Newt Gingrich. So even if the surge proves availing, there’s no guarantee that the GOP will make victory a millstone to hang around the necks of the defeatist Democrats.

And of course another person who will reap the fruits of success will be John McCain, for he will have proven courageous, visionary, toughminded and prescient. If the surge works, Giuliani’s way to the nomination just became that much more difficult.

I used to like Ron Paul until he went pro-jihad on us. Did he take his oath on a Koran, too?

JQA, we tried that in the aftermath of the Great War. What did it get us? Horrors untold.

There’s no way back to some minimalist foreign policy of a John Quincy Adams. The world has changed.

Instead of trying to restore some lost luster to the fallacies of isolationism, ask yourself if the whole world has become as Lincoln said of the Union before becoming President. Remember when he said that the Union couldn’t go on "Half slave, half free." Well ask yourself if the whole world has reached a point where it can’t go on, "half shariaa, half free."

Shariaa is an abomination to the mind of man. It’s an affront to man’s GOD given, non-negotiable dignity.

It’s no coincidence that one of our first wars was against the forces of jihadism, {the Barbary Pirates, who really weren’t "pirates" per se, but were simply traditional, time-tested jihadists...}, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the political creed behind islam was sooner or later going to meet in a head-on collision with the creed laid out in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.

Of course we’re at war with islam, of course we’re at war with jihadism, with islamic totalitarianism. It WAS ALWAYS going to happen, it was inexorable, it was inescapable.

And what’s more, we should think better of ourselves that we’re at war with islam. For which of us would like to think that our government, our society, our people, our founding creed could ever possibly coexist with islamic mayhem.

Dsouza laments this war. Not me. I remember viewing Munich as a kid, I remember the dirtballs touting their Kalashnikov while they creeped around on the balconies. I remember it well.

This was always coming, and I say "let it come!" To the creatures of islam who want a reckoning, I say "Do you REALLY want to tangle with Uncle Sam, do you REALLY want to go down that path....?"

15: Mere symbolism? The left is expert at leveraging mere symbolism into more concrete results. Symbolic actions "teach," for good and for ill.
They are preparing the public mind, something they are very good at doing.

10: John, the "public view of the war" be damned. YES, members of Congress SHOULD be expected to do better than follow public opinion, especially when our national honor and national security are at stake. Your view would mortgage our future to opinion polls, which means, to the liberal media what produces public opinion (when it tries hard enough, long enough). No thank you.

13: Dan, mega-dittoes on the need to use very strong language, I would say constantly, to attack the Democrats’ (and a few spineless Republicans’) actions and words.

Although I am deeply ambivalent about the "surge," I’m up for giving the Army one more chance...see if these new wunderkinder can pull our cookies out of the fire.

On the other hand, I am not prepared to continue to support the same old stupidities. Either fight to win and do what is necessary to that end, or let’s get the Hell outta there. I can think of better uses for our army and our (billions of) $. Just saying "we can’t afford to lose" over and over will accomplish nothing but stasis.

Would Ron Paul have opposed Abraham Lincoln on "libertarian" principles?

"Would Ron Paul have opposed Abraham Lincoln on "libertarian" principles?"

I don’t know if he is on the record on this, but I believe it is highly likely he would have. The Lew Rock crew loves Ron Paul, and they are pro secession.

Ron Paul understands the centrality of the federalist/decentralist debate. That is one reason I support him.

And Ron Paul is a Texan. Shouldn’t he be expected to oppose Lincoln who ordered the invasion of his State? If he supported Lincoln would that not be disloyal?

"Take a look at who you’re politically aligned with."

I am alligned with the Old Right and Washington’s Farewell Address. Pretty good company if you ask me.

"Dan Phillips, is there anything "conservative" or American in losing wars?"

There is something very conservative about not starting them.

"perhaps they won’t mind, save for the obvious racist overtones, being called "Historic" conservatives, eh? :)"

That’s mighty PC of you there Publius Jr. Where did you learn to drop the r word so quickly? The SPLC would be VERY proud of you.

From a Speech before the House by Republican Jimmie Duncan of Tennessee.

“In an interview published by the McClatchy Newspaper Chain, Dick Armey, our former Republican Majority Leader, said he felt really bad about voting to go to war in Iraq.

Mr. Armey said “Had I been more true to myself and the principles I believed in at the time, I would have openly opposed the whole adventure vocally and aggressively.”

Chris Matthews on MSNBC on election night said “the decision to go to war in Iraq was not a conservative decision historically” and said the President asked Republicans “to behave like a different people than they intrinsically are.”

In 2004, William F. Buckley, Jr., often called the godfather of conservatism, wrote that if he knew in 2002 what he knew by 2004, he would have opposed going to war in Iraq…

Conservatives have traditionally been the biggest critics of interventionist foreign policies because they create so much resentment for us around the world.

Conservatives have traditionally been the biggest critics of nation building, as President Bush was when he ran for the White House in 2000.

We need the more humble foreign policy he advocated then, or we need to tell the people to forget about their Social Security because we are giving a blank check to the Pentagon.”

If a liberal like Chris Matthews gets it, why are conservatives having such a hard time?

Dan P.,

The issue at the moment isn’t what one would have done then, but what one does now. Undermining the U.S. military effort in Iraq doesn’t promote any conservative value I can think of, unless you’re considering "conservative" jihadism.

Dan P, you answered a question about whether it was conservative to lose wars by answering that it wasn’t conservative to start them?

Is it conservative to pretend that you’re not in a war right now, is it conservative to pretend that a war wasn’t initiated on 9/11, is it conservative to pretend that your duly elected government didn’t decide to go into Iraq, is it conservative to pretend that victory or failure will have huge consequences for the American future?

You seem to be of the mind that simply because you may have objected to going into Iraq, that somehow you can pretend that withdraw will simply restore the strategic chess board to the situation that obtained ante bellum.

News flash, you can pretend all you want, but the world, the real world, thus the CONSERVATIVE world knows differently.

You’re on the verge of defeat. You’re on the verge of confirming Vietnam not as an aberration, but as the norm, not as a quirk, but as par for the American course.

And all conservatives, real conservatives, thus conservatives aware of the verdict of history, aware of the importance of victory, know that consequences, dire and dreadful will surely ensue from American defeat.

This isn’t an ideological purity test, this is the real world, with real world consequences.

You say you’re aligned with the "old right." An interesting phrase. Are you referring to the "old right" that went right round the "old bend." Sounds like it to me.

First of all, who that supports the surge now DID NOT support the original invasion?

The best way to "support the troops" is to bring them home. My only problem is that this whole vote was "non-binding" which gives both sides political cover.

"is it conservative to pretend that your duly elected government didn’t decide to go into Iraq"

There was never a declaration of war as is required by the Constitution. An authorization for the President to use force is a Constitutional abomination. The power to declare war is "vested" in Congress. They can no more cede that than they can cede the power to raise taxes. What conservative wouldn’t be screaming at the top of his lungs if Congress passed a resolution granting the President the "authority" to raise taxes if the need arises? An authorization to use force is no different.

What were the original war goals? What is the goal now? A stable, democratic Iraq? Fat chance. Saddam is gone. There are no WMDs. Time to come home. Anything else we do is throwing good money after bad.

If we leave I absolutely realize that Iraq will quickly descend into chaos. That is very unfortunate. We should have thought about that before we invaded, but instead we were treated to predictions of a "cakewalk." But I don’t think there is anything we can possibly do now to avoid the chaos. Whether we leave now, or 1 to 2 years from now, chaos will surely follow. (Some people honestly don’t want us to leave at all. They envision Iraq as the first front, as a beachhead, in a much broader war in the Middle East. Of course I object to that.)

The smartest thing to do from the begging would have been to partition Iraq into 3 or more parts. Can I suggest that one reason we didn’t do that is because the people making the policy have a Lincolnian (sorry) mindset on the importance of maintaining "territorial integrity?"

The lesson of Vietnam that we should have learned is that foreign liberators are often seen as invaders. We couldn’t figure out then why large portions of the South Vietnamese population, who didn’t know Karl Marx from Groucho Marx, didn’t welcome us as liberators. Now we wonder why the Iraqis aren’t welcoming us as liberators either. The answer is very simple. Human nature.

That is the lesson of Vietnam, Dan.

The troops are concerned with something as precious as their own hides, and that’s something that this country has lost awareness of in the aftermath of the sixties, of the "me generation, of Vietnam, and that is American honour.

To them, to me, that honour comes dear.

And it isn’t something that can be posed and postured away, just because you use terms like "redeploy" instead of withdraw. The enemy is gazing at you with eyes as cold as any tomb. They’re gauging you, assessing you, weighing you, and you’re showing weakness, you’re showing self-indulgent decadence, you’re worked up about ridiculous ideological purity tests while an enemy stands in the field, gun in hand, with the blood of your brethren all over them.

I’m not interested in the Democrats and that bloated buffoon Murtha, I’m not interested in whether George Walker Bush adopted the right policy way back in ’03 or not. I’m not interested in whether America should be made to pay for the sin of violating "conservative" litmus tests.

The only thing I’m interested in right now is closing with our enemy, and making sure that their lives are made miserable and brief.

I’m looking for the fricken reckoning. As are most of the men in this country. And those that aren’t, those that are looking to walk, looking to worm out, looking to skate, looking to dodge obligations of blood and honour by an excess verbal garbage, most men, most American men don’t have any time for.

The only lesson of Vietnam is unleash your strategic bombers first, and not last, and not after you’ve lost domestic support. The only lesson of Vietnam is don’t allow your enemy sanctuary, because of an excessive concern for dubious strategic considerations.

Here’s a little tid bit of history. Long after Nixon left office, he was asked by a reporter which was the greatest mistake he made. Nixon didn’t answer Watergate, nor did he answer Kissinger, nor did he answer wage and price controls. No. He answered that THE greatest mistake he made was not unleashing the B-52s as soon as he took office. He waited over 4 years before demonstrating what American power was. And as soon as he demonstrated that power, his enemy was crawling to the negotiating table. That was the lesson of Vietnam.

Here’s one rather meaningless bit from Jimmie Duncan’s speech: "William F. Buckley, Jr....wrote that if he knew in 2002 what he knew by 2004, he would have opposed going to war in Iraq…"

Well, yeah...and I’m pretty sure President Bush would agree with that. I know I would. We didn’t know that Saddam was bluffing on WMD, and probably we still wouldn’t know had we not invaded. I’m sorry to repeat this basic point on NLT so many times, but it is the main basis upon which history will judge Bush’s decision, but for some reason it’s almost never acknowledged now.

BTW, I know that WFB Jr. has said he would "vote against supplementary U.S. involvment in Iraq." (NR 2/12) Not sure if that means he would support the resolution symbolically against the surge. In any case, my point remains what it is.


David Kay in his report stated that Saddam was MORE dangerous just prior to our removal of him, then he was in years past. And the reason he said that was his ability to crank up a biological program at any given moment. He had everything he needed to create biologicals.

About existing WMDs, do we know what he did with them? There are reports, credible, that strongly suggest he removed his arsenal to the Bekaa Valley, with Russian assistance.

Of course for me, WMDs only served as additional rationale to remove him. But even without those WMDs, he should have been taken out.

The problem with Bush’s policies haven’t been his taking out of Saddam. No. It’s been his refusal to extend the same treatment to Damascus and Tehran. And of course, his trotting up to the UN. He spent a year and a half making "a case" to a worthless organization, profoundly and institutionally hostile to the United States, the West and to capitalism.

And all the while, the forces for defeat, the forces of cultural dry rot were gaining strength, rallying against him.

History very well may judge that those wasted months were ultimately responsible for American defeat, and that defeat was the bell tolling for ultimate American decline.

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