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Smackdown of the Week, 2008-10-07

[For the hostile audience here at SayUncle, perhaps I should call it my “flaming bag of poo of the week.”]

This week, it comes from NYT Columnist Thomas Friedman:

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can’t understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can’t understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until “victory” declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

How in the world can conservative commentators write with a straight face that this woman should be vice president of the United States? Do these people understand what serious trouble our country is in right now?

H/T: KTK at Lean Left

55 Responses to “Smackdown of the Week, 2008-10-07”

  1. tgirsch Says:


    I’m almost positive we’ve been through this before, however, I don’t mind educating you again. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we declared war on Japan. When we did that, because of their alliances, Germany declared war on us. We declared war in response to them declaring war on us, not in response to Japan’s attack on us.

    So, to review:

    1. Japan attacks US, US responds with declaration of war
    2. Germany declares war on US
    3. US declares war on Germany

    Your version of post-9/11 events reads like the underpants gnomes:

    1. Al Qaeda (based in Afghanistan) attacks US
    2. ????
    3. US invades Iraq

  2. Xrlq Says:

    Actually, I mostly agree with the unaltered statement, too. Everyone should have known that the Bush administration was going to use it as though it were a declaration of war (which is why many of us opposed it from the get-go), but that doesn’t mean it actually was a declaration of war.

    True. The reason it was actually a declaration of war was because it authorized the use of military force. Congress can’t “authorize” a de facto war without effectively declaring it. Whether said declaration contains the magic words “we hereby declare war” is irrelevant.

    That some Congressmen may have believed Bush would use a de facto declaration of war as a bargaining chip to avoid actually fighting is immaterial. Being legally at war with another country and actually fighting an active battle are not the same. Cf. the Sitzkrieg, a.k.a. the Bore War, from September, 1939 to May, 1940, where England was every bit as much at war with Germany, in law and in fact, as America was with Iraq from October 2002 through March of 2003.

  3. tgirsch Says:

    The reason it was actually a declaration of war was because it authorized the use of military force. Congress can’t “authorize” a de facto war without effectively declaring it.

    And, of course, the Congress never does stuff that the Constitution doesn’t allow it to do… Maybe it’s nitpicky of me to emphasize the difference between a de facto war and a de jure one, but you’ve never struck me as the type to be overly concerned with the picking of nits (apart from disagreeing with the particular nits from time to time, of course). 🙂

    America was with Iraq from October 2002 through March of 2003.

    What have we been doing since then, and what’s the constitutional authority to back that? (Not a “trap” question of any kind — I genuinely don’t know…)

  4. Xrlq Says:

    There is no difference between a de jure war and a de jure AUMF. Either Congress voted to A the UMF, or they did not. Any Congresscritter who voted for or against the AUMF without understanding that the vote was on whether or not to A the President to UMF is a retard. Any Congresscritter who voted for it and later complained about the President acting on such A is a weasel, and one indistinguishable from a hypothetical weasel who voted for a formal “Declaration of War” and trusted that to be a mere bargaining chip that would not result in actual fighting.

    IOW, Congress either authorized what we all know as a war, or they didn’t. If they did, it’s a war by another name. If they didn’t, it was no AUMF, either. To distinguish the two is to elevate form over substance.

    As to what we’ve done since March 2003, I don’t believe that the AUMF has been revoked. Certainly Congress has chosen to fund the troops there, as they have in Germany, South Korea, and elsewhere. You don’t need a declaration of war to station troops around the world.

  5. tgirsch Says:


    On the non-difference difference, point taken, but then why not just call it a declaration of war? If there’s not an important difference, at least in perception if nothing else, then why not call it what it is?

    You don’t need a declaration of war to station troops around the world.

    But you do generally need a treaty, don’t you?

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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