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Friday Talking Points [36] -- End The Media's Pro-McCain Bias! Now!!

[ Posted Friday, June 20th, 2008 – 15:53 PDT ]

Anyone who thinks that the treatment Barack Obama has gotten from the media during this campaign is remotely the same as the treatment John McCain has received just has not been paying much attention. Because this pro-McCain prejudice has been both pervasive and unremarked-upon throughout almost the entire news media during the entire campaign season. McCain has even joked that the media is "his base" of support. It was a funny line, but there is an enormous truth at its core: the media has been hard on Obama but unbelievably light on John McCain. And this has to stop. Now. Because the election might just hinge on the media's portrayal of the two, so now is the time to point out the uneven nature of the press coverage to date on the two candidates. In time for the mainstream media to correct itself before the general election season really heats up.

Think about what you know or learned (through the mainstream media's coverage of this year's election) about Barack Obama. You may have heard of: his birth, his parents, where his parents lived, what nationality and race his parents are, where his grandmother lives, what race she is, where he went to elementary school, what Chicago radicals were doing while he was in elementary school half a planet away, where he went to college, what he did while in college, what he did after college, how he paid off his student loan, his career as a politician, which way he voted on things in the Illinois statehouse, what church he joined, what his preacher said back then, where he was married, where his kids were baptized, what his preacher said recently, what a visiting preacher said at his church even more recently, his stance on the war, his stance on race, his stance on Hillary Clinton, his stance on just about everything else, and the fact that he's a terrible bowler (but a pretty decent basketball player).

Now, what has the media informed us about John McCain this campaign season? His stance on the war. His stance on a gas-tax holiday. His stance on talking to foreign leaders. His stance on Iran (bomb it). How he's not like George Bush, dammit... even though the two agree on just about every policy you can name.

That's it.

Now, all the things we have been told about McCain are indeed fair game on the campaign trail (since they're mostly policy positions), and the media has reported on them (somewhat). But mostly what they've reported on is how amazing his campaign was at coming back from the dead last summer, when everyone had counted McCain out of the running.

Facts about John McCain's private life? Nothing. McCain's military history? Nothing (other than the P.O.W. ads McCain himself runs). McCain's legislative history? Nothing, other than to repeat stories seemingly written in 2000 about what a "maverick" he is. Any scandals in McCain's past? Crickets chirping.

Now, this blatant media bias (up until now) has had somewhat of an excuse, since John McCain wrapped his party's nomination up months ago, and the press has been focusing ever since on the Hillary-and-Barack show (admittedly a center-ring circus act, if ever there was one). But it's now time for the general election. In other words, there is no more excuse for the bias. The imbalance has got to stop. And the only way to make it stop is to rub the media's face in their outrageous bias until they admit it exists.

How many voters, for instance, have heard the words "Keating Five" during this campaign? On a national news broadcast? And how many times have they heard "Reverend Wright"? Millions of voters have come of age since the Keating Five scandal two decades ago, and most of them have probably never heard of it. Since the media has shown already that it is fine and dandy to go rooting around in the muck for one party, I think it's about time they extend the same courtesy to the other candidate running. Especially during a subprime mortgage meltdown.

So my Friday Talking Points are all questions the media should be asking McCain, but (sadly) aren't. For any Democrat being interviewed on television this weekend (by some chucklehead who calls himself a journalist), these questions can easily be turned around on the interviewer, to show the rampant pro-McCain bias to the media themselves. For instance, a Democrat could ask:

"Why do we know details like this about Barack Obama's life, when you haven't even scratched the surface of John McCain's life? When is the last time you informed your viewers about the Keating Five scandal? I am sure that your network has video of what happened to John McCain as a result of this, and yet I bet you have not shown one single second of that video during his entire campaign. This is a scandal he was involved in while he was in office -- and you haven't even mentioned it during the campaign, because you're so obsessed over what Barack Obama was doing when he was eight years old. There's a reason why if you asked ten voters on the street nine of them couldn't tell you what the words 'Keating Five' mean -- and that reason is that the media just has not done its job in examining John McCain as a candidate for president. You, sir, are showing your bias in asking questions like the one you just asked me about Obama, while absolutely refusing to do the same for John McCain. Is this network owned by the Republican Party, or what?"

This would be an ideal time to rip the headphones and microphone off, and stalk out of the studio in rage.

[Ahem.]

OK, I got a little carried away there, but I think you see my point. So, quickly, we will dispense this week's awards, and then we'll get to a special version of Friday Talking Points. And, since I gave that one away (as it were), I promise I won't even mention the Keating Five in said Talking Points. Because there are just too many other questions about McCain's past to even bother to bring it up. And he just keeps adding more, with his weekly flip-flops on issues both large and small.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Both the awards this week deal with the same subject: the complete and utter capitulation of Democrats in the House of Representatives to give Bush exactly what he asked for -- the ability to decide what is legal and what is not, on his very own.

Make no mistake about it, giving telecommunications companies immunity from breaking the law just because the president asked them to means the rule we learned from Nuremburg doesn't apply any more. Remember that? "I was only following orders" was deemed an insufficient defense. Now, we have Republicans saying things like:

"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do."

Um, no. "The government" is the people of the United States of America. Our representatives -- from dogcatcher up to the president -- swear an oath to the Constitution. Well, OK, I'm not sure dogcatchers are actually sworn in, but presidents certainly are. And now, apparently, if the president tells you to do something -- legal or not -- you'd better do it, right quick. And don't worry about prosecution later on, because you were "only following orders."

The whole episode is a disgusting display of spinelessness from Congressional Democrats. Well, some of them. Others opposed the bill (you can check the roll call to see what your Representative did). But Russ Feingold wins Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week for being first out of the gate with a quote that the media picked up. Here's what he had to say, in full:

"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President's illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."

Exactly right. And for that, Senator Feingold, you have earned the Golden Backbone of the week, the MIDOTW award.

[Congratulate Senator Feingold on his Senate contact page to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

I should point out that Glenn Greenwald at Salon has been following this fiasco closer than anyone else, so if you need any of the details of this story, I would advise checking his column out.

The Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award should really go to all 105 House Democrats who voted for this abomination, but we just don't have that many statuettes to hand out this week, so I'm going to limit it to three.

Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are the top culprits for putting this deal together, so they each win a MDDOTW award this week. They are currently giving gushing quotes to the media about how successful this "compromise" was, but I refuse to repeat such drivel here. I generally approve of Pelosi's leadership in the House, but I cannot condone this. I generally don't approve of Hoyer's actions, but then I don't live in Maryland, so there's not a lot I can do about him.

And (drumroll...) this week's third MDDOTW award goes to... Barack Obama.

Now, I know Obama's in the Senate (which will most likely vote on this bill next week), and that this was a House vote. But Barack Obama is not just any senator. He is the Democratic nominee for the White House. This means he's supposed to be a party leader. And the thing about being a leader is you've got to get out front and, well, lead. Obama's conspicuous silence on this issue has already been noted on the Huffington Post, and as of this writing there is still nothing up on his campaign website about the issue at all.

This is not leading. This is not a good sign.

Now, I do understand that Obama is now in the general election and that winning is more important than any one particular issue. I don't say that Obama's silence is all that surprising, therefore. But I do say it's disappointing. Which means he gets a MDDOTW award.

Remember, the federal government spied on Martin Luther King, Jr. in this very fashion. Why did they spy on King? They considered him a threat to "national security." Why did they consider him a threat to national security? Because he opposed the war we were fighting. Sure, Bush says he's only after "terrorists," but how soon before that gets watered down to the exact same reasoning used to spy on Martin Luther King, Jr.? Which was, incidentally, the whole reason the FISA law was passed in the first place -- to correct such abuses of power.

Sigh.

So Pelosi, Hoyer, and Obama... for shame. You have all earned your very first Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards.

[Contact Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Barack Obama on their respective congressional contact pages to let them know what you think of their actions.]

 

OK, enough of that. Onward to the Talking Points segment. Originally, I started writing this section as advice for NBC journalists (and those who call themselves such, but don't actually deserve it) who will be "trying out" the Meet The Press moderator's chair for the next few weeks. They all must have dreams of being the "next" Tim Russert, and they can all see themselves as the show's permanent host, I am quite sure.

My personal feeling is that they should go back to the days where they had a whole panel of "press" that interviewed one politician. I kind of like the concept of ganging up on them this way, and with more press on the panel, they'd compete amongst themselves in order to ask tougher and tougher questions than the guy or gal sitting next to them. But since that likely won't happen, I started writing this bit as advice for Meet The Press host wannabes, to show them some questions they should ask John McCain -- questions that (astoundingly enough) nobody else has seemed to ask him yet on camera, or at least not for quite a while. In the "gotcha" genre of journalism, Tim Russert was king, so in order to take his place, you've got to hone your "gotcha" skills.

So this week, the quotes are all suggestions for the media to ask John McCain (instead of for Democrats to answer in interviews, our normal format). Although (as I pointed out earlier), these questions can be easily turned around and thrown back in a reporter's face by a Democrat, if need be.

These questions might seem a bit harsh and confrontational to the uninitiated. They might -- but only if the detached observer who labeled them thus had absolutely no knowledge of what Barack Obama has already been through this year, and what John McCain has mercifully escaped.

So, you want Tim Russert's job, journalists and pseudo-journalists? Here are the questions you need to ask John McCain now, in order to prove you're worthy of filling his shoes.

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 36 (6/20/08)

 

1
   Why won't you release your military record?

"Senator McCain, you have made an issue of your military service in your campaign, even running ads with pictures of you as a prisoner of war. So why have you refused to sign the military's Standard Form 180 and (by doing so), release your full military record to the public? Senator John Kerry was completely unafraid to do this when he ran for president in 2004. Why haven't you volunteered to do what John Kerry willingly did? If you are proud of your military record, then why hide it? Why not put it out there for the public to see? Or is there something in there you don't want the public to find out about? Aren't you as courageous as John Kerry, Senator?"

 

2
   Why won't Cindy release her tax returns?

"Senator McCain, your current wife, to date, has released only two pages from a single year of her tax returns. Will she ever fully release her tax returns to reporters? How are the American people supposed to know if you will have any conflicts of interest if you won't even release your immediate family's tax returns? Senator Obama has released all of his tax returns for recent years, which include his wife's income, and yet your wife refuses to do so. What is she hiding in the tax returns that she has not released? Are you just afraid taxpayers will find out how wealthy she is, or is there a specific reason she has not come forward with this information? Don't you think the voters need to know where your family gets its money, Senator?"

 

3
   What exactly did you do for Grumman?

"Senator McCain, you personally intervened with the Pentagon over an Air Force tanker contract. That contract went to Northrop Grumman and the parent company of the European company Airbus. Now it has been shown that the Pentagon did not handle the bidding process properly, and it looks like the American company Boeing will get another chance at the contract. So why did you intervene to send thousands of aerospace jobs overseas, Senator? Could it have anything to do with the lobbyist Northrop Grumman hired, who until a month ago was your national finance chairman? To put it bluntly, this doesn't exactly sound like straight talk, sir, it sounds like lobbyists buying influence."

 

4
   Lie back and enjoy it, John

"Senator McCain, you abruptly cancelled an appearance at a fundraiser recently. The man whose house at which the fundraiser was held, Clayton Williams, was quoted while running as a Republican for the Governor of Texas, when he made a joke about being raped. He actually equated the bad weather at a campaign stop to being raped. His exact words, talking about the weather and being raped, were (quote) As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it (unquote). During the same campaign, he compared his opponent Ann Richards to cattle on his ranch, saying he would (quote) head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt (unquote). And yet you, Senator McCain -- while you did not appear at his fundraiser -- have accepted $300,000 which Williams raised for you. What sort of message to the women of America do you think that sends, Senator?"

 

5
   If we did to prisoners what was done to you, would you call it torture?

"If elected, you would not be the first man who has been held prisoner of war by an enemy, as Andrew Jackson had that distinction from his participation in the War of 1812. But you would almost assuredly be the first president who had ever been tortured by an enemy. Yet your views on torture seem to have, to put it politely, evolved over the past year. At first, you were strongly against it, but then you voted to allow the C.I.A. to use techniques on prisoners held by the United States which, if used against you in Vietnam, would surely have been called torture. So what is your stance on torture, Senator McCain? Should the United States government limit itself to the procedures outlined in the Army Field Manual, or should the C.I.A. be given latitude to use what many call 'torture' against prisoners of the United States? In short, Senator, where exactly do you stand on torture, and where exactly do you draw the line? If, as president, you discovered that George W. Bush used the exact techniques on American prisoners as were used against you by the North Vietnamese, what would you do about it? Would you tell the American public that such things had been done in their name?"

[If McCain denies the United States has tortured anybody, have this ready to go:]

"But Senator McCain, earlier this year 60 Minutes aired a clip of you answering the question 'Is waterboarding torture?' by stating (quote) Sure, yes, without a doubt (unquote). You were then asked 'So the United States has been torturing POWs,' to which you responded: 'Yes.' These are your own words, Senator."

 

6
   So, are you a "war criminal" or not?

Senator McCain, when you were tortured by the North Vietnamese, you talked. You said later that you gave them misinformation to fool them, telling them in essence what they wanted to hear. When interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, he asked you what you had done wrong while a prisoner of war, and you said (quote) I wrote a confession. I was guilty of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. I intentionally bombed women and children (unquote).

In 2001, the United States captured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in Afghanistan. We sent him to Egypt. The Egyptians used harsh techniques to interrogate him -- what many would call 'torture.' He told his interrogators that al Qaeda had received chemical and biological training from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This was a primary source for what Colin Powell told the United Nations, and what President Bush used as a rationale for going to war. And yet the Senate report which just came out points out that the Pentagon, on February 22, 2002 was saying (and I quote) It is possible he [al-Libi] does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh [al-Libi] has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to debriefers that he knows will retain their interest (unquote).

So, Senator, do 'enhanced interrogation techniques' actually work, or do they just produce lots of false information? How can you say you were tortured and managed not to tell your captors the truth, but that it will work and should be allowed against people the C.I.A. interrogates?

 

7
   Ever been to a shrink?

"Thomas Eagleton had to withdraw from running for Vice President with George McGovern in 1972 after it was disclosed that he had undergone electric shock treatment. Have you, Senator McCain, ever seen a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or any other mental health professional? About what? Would you make those records available to the media, and if not, why not? Don't you think the American public deserves to know the mental health of a man who wants to be president?"

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

30 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [36] -- End The Media's Pro-McCain Bias! Now!!”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am going to ignore the TPs this time around. Because I support Obama (even MORE so today) I really don't have a problem with ya'alls TPs against McCain..

    But, the issue of the ......

    What do ya'all want to call it?? Democrats Capitulation Bill #4?? Telecommunications Get The Immunity They Deserve Measures??

    Why don't we call it the FISA Enhanced Security Measures?? FESM...

    In any case, I have several points to point out.

    As an aside to Michael.. If you can't be adult and mature in your response, don't bother responding, cuz I won't read it..

    Anyways...

    Point #1..
    This is what?? The 3rd time, 4th time that the Democrats have sided with the GOP over security measures..

    After so many times, can't ya'all look at this LOGICALLY and RATIONALLY and make the mental leap that maybe, JUST MAYBE, there are "Big Picture" issues involved??

    I mean, seriously.. Are there any other possibilities that are as rational and logical?? Honestly, does ANYONE think that there is a vast GOP conspiracy to blackmail Democrats into voting this way??

    No wait.. I got it.. It's the Jedi Mind trick, right!!??? Bush is Lord Vader and he is using the Dark Side to influence over 100 Democrats.. Is THAT it??

    Point #2
    This should be a joyous occasion.. House Republicans & Democrats are coming together in a bipartisan manner for the security and safety of this country.. Not only that, but BOTH Presidential Candidates are on board with these measures! I mean, come on! Who woulda thunk it!!??

    Democrats are on board.. Republicans are on board.. Obama is on board.. McCain is on board..

    How can this POSSIBLY be a bad thing???

    For me personally.. Obama has restored my faith in his candidacy.. I was a little rocky after his Public Financing issue.. I am still a little miffed about that. But the fact that Obama can put the safety and security of this country BEFORE political considerations.... well that just means that he is the honorable candidate I thought he was.

    I am really REALLY happy today...

    Michale....

  2. [2] 
    Michael Gass wrote:

    - Point #1.. This is what?? The 3rd time, 4th time that the Democrats have sided with the GOP over security measures.. After so many times, can't ya'all look at this LOGICALLY and RATIONALLY and make the mental leap that maybe, JUST MAYBE, there are "Big Picture" issues involved??

    Let's look at what "bigger pictures" we in America have already seen occur:

    1) The internment of American Indians to reservations

    What could have been the big picture there, as Americans systematically killed American Native Indian's, to the point of genocide, until the few remaining were locked up on reservations?

    2) The internment of Japanese Americans into camps

    What could have been the big picture there, as Americans of Japanese descent were locked up in camps during WWII?

    3) The Nixon Administration's claim that "if the President does it, it is not illegal"

    What could have been the big picture there, to claim that no matter what a President does, it can't be illegal?

    4) The Iran-Contra affair

    What could have been the big picture there, when elements inside of the Reagan Administration and military jointly decided to ignore the law and sell arms to Iran so they could finance operations in South America?

    5) Bush's warrantless wiretapping and telecom's
    .....

    What do all of the above have in common as a "big picture"? That in every case, there were laws broken, there were abuses that occurred, there were people in our government who were instrumental in the abuses being instituted, and, every single time, the individuals either weren't held to account at all, or, were pardoned for their crimes by others in the government.

    Seriously... the Indian's had land and darnit, we we wanted it!... those darned Americans of Japanese descent were in America and might do something, so, lock em all up like cattle... laws? who needs laws when you're the preznit?... laws? Congress? who needs them when you're doing what the preznit wants?... laws? Congress? Constitution? who needs them when you're the preznit?

    At different times in history, there have been those in our government who have decided that having power means more than our constitution, our laws, or even the people they govern.

    Have the Native American Indians EVER been given anything regarding a fair shake? EVER? Or, were they simply destroyed until they could be rounded up like animals? But, when people in our government tried to turn that kind of fury against our own, there came a point when American's weren't going to take it. Joe McCarthy and his Red Scare finally got his day and was driven out. It's ok to demonize other races, other nationalities, other genders, but, if you try to do the same to us, well, that's just wrong, so sayeth those in our history. Then it's no longer "National Security" when you turn the power of our government against our own. The people aren't patriots when they try to use their power to run over Americans, so sayeth those in our history.

    "Do you have no decency, Sir?"

    Even those in our government finally had enough of Nixon's criminality and forced him resign or face impeachment. Yet, then there came others into our government who pardoned him, and those who were involved in his administration were free to sit, wait, and inevitably, come back to haunt us again.

    This time, the criminality wasn't merely breaking into an opposition's office to steal plans and lying about it. This time, it was lie upon lie to engage in war. This time, it was using a government run propaganda campaign to stoke fear in the American people and pass legislation that was clearly against the principles of our Constitution. This time, people have died for the lies, both American soldiers and those who we have held in detention as "terrorists".

    Even people in Bush's own administration have called his actions for what they were; criminal acts. Even military men who were retired or resigned have spoken out about the criminality of the abuses and the war. But, this time, the government has few men/women of conscious in it.

    Our founding fathers lived under a government who felt, like Bush, they could do whatever they wanted. As long as the populace was compliant, there wasn't a problem. But, there were those in the populace who weren't compliant. They were, in the eyes of the British government; terrorists.

    They took the name "The Sons of Liberty". It took years of these men who we call patriots fighting, and the British government responding with heavy-handed responses against the general populace, before the populace stood up and we went to war; our own American Revolution.

    There are countries were lawless governments are the norm. Our founding fathers had lived under that and tried to instill a system of government that would be resistant to corruption and lawlessness.

    There were countries that did act in a lawful manner. It took years, fear, terrorist acts, and careful manipulation by certain individuals to turn that government, that country, into a force of evil. It didn't happen overnight. It wasn't just one sweeping force of one act of legislation. It was a careful erosion designed to consolidate power. It was making the populace believe they were in danger from outside forces. It was fear-mongering and the lack of will in the people that allowed that descent. In the end, it took the world standing up and a world war to stop it.

    In every country where lawless governments rule, they rule with fear and the backing of a military, of police, who are willing to enforce their will.

    In every country where lawless governments rule, the media must be compliant to that government, to keep the people ignorant of the facts, to promote the governments propaganda, lest the people revolt.

    The German people did not watch their government being taken over in one swift, fell swoop. It was a systematic assault, a systematic erosion, until they awoke one day and realized that if they spoke out, they too would find themselves in the same position as the Jews. At that point, it was too late. The military was fully under the control of the Nazi's. The police were fully under the control of the Nazi's. The government was fully under the control of the Nazi's. And the people who spoke out at that point disappeared.

    Our founding fathers tried to instill checks and balances. They tried to instill measures that would keep our government working for the people. They feared, even as they wrote our governments rules, that there could come a day when even the measures they instilled would fail.

    Nixon was not a patriot of the people. He was a criminal. He was pardoned for his crime.

    Ollie North and those involved in the Iran-Contra affair were not patriots. They were criminals. They were pardoned for their crimes.

    Scooter Libby was not a patriot of the people. He was a criminal. He was pardoned for his crime.

    You cannot hold criminals to account when other criminals come along and pardon them, allowing them to come back later and haunt our government again with their criminal behavior.

    They are a disease. They are parasites who see power, money, and how to exploit it for their own purposes.

    Dick Cheney was part of the Nixon administration, and since none of the lower people were ever held to account for their own complicity, he was allowed to come back, with his money and his power, to invade our government again. Bush says that anything he says as preznit makes it legal, just as Nixon said, and our Congress says that he is right, where our Congress decades ago said that everybody was equal under our law and everyone had to follow our laws.

    The America our founding fathers birthed is dead. It died when our Congress, whether because they are corrupt criminals themselves who agree, or corrupt individuals who are being blackmailed into complicity, decided that our highest office could commit illegal acts and it wasn't a crime. It died when our Congress decided it could merely write a law that says illegal behavior is now legal with retroactive immunity.

    People say that throughout every hard time, where American's said the same thing, our country survived. I say, it only survived because the other branches of government stood up, as our founding fathers envisioned, and said "NO". And, as our founding fathers feared, there has come a time when the other branches have now colluded with the criminals.

    James Madison wrote in Federalist 47:

    The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system. I persuade myself, however, that it will be made apparent to every one, that the charge cannot be supported, and that the maxim on which it relies has been totally misconceived and misapplied. In order to form correct ideas on this important subject, it will be proper to investigate the sense in which the preservation of liberty requires that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct.
    ......

    Tyranny itself does not come from all three branches of government being in the hands of one ruling power, but, in how that power that is applied.

    When those in power rule that our government can spy upon its own populace, with no real check, no real balance, no true regard to the rights of the citizen, regardless of the names they call themselves, in violation of the constitution they swore to uphold, that is tyranny by our government.

    AT&T allowed the NSA install special routers that sent every piece of traffic, every conversation, every email, every communique, to our government. This is fact. This is proven. It is not being done under warrant. It is not targeting merely terrorists. It is a wide open dragnet of every conversation, every person who uses that network, and it violates the very principle our founding fathers instilled into being; that every person has the right to privacy and unreasonable search and seizure.

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am not denying that the US Government has made mistakes in the past.. But to hold the current government liable for what happened to the Indians is ludicrous..

    I am not even denying that THIS administration has made mistakes. To do so would be equally ludicrous.

    And, again, if you want to go thru a list of Republican crimes and pardons, I can provide you a comparable list of DEMOCRAT crimes and pardons.

    As far as THIS current issue goes, I fail to see the concern. These new measures do not target Americans. There are even provisions within these new measures to safeguard rights of Americans.

    So, this is not a US Constitutional issue because Americans are not the target.

    These new provisions, in addition to the Telecommunication Immunity, simply clears up a technological snafu that was part of FISA. These new measures simply allow US Authorities to listen in to foreign communications (something that is already allowed and no one really has a problem with) whether or not those foreign communications are routed thru US facilities.

    That's it.. That is ALL that these new measures do.. And, as I said if, in following these communications, the trail leads to an American Citizen, WHETHER IN THE US OR OVERSEAS, the a FISA court order is required..

    Again.. Where's the problem??

    Further, these measures state that US authorities cannot target a specific foreigner for the sole purpose of spying on a specific American citizen.

    Again... Where's the problem??

    Now, if the beef is with the immunity of the Telecommunications corps, then that is a separate issue. Even our illustrious host here agrees with the theory, in principle. Sorry to put ya on the spot, CW.. :D I know you are on record as being against THIS particular immunity deal, but you have stated that you agree with the CONCEPT. Please correct me if I am wrong..

    As I said above, the simple fact that Democrats and Republicans, Obama AND McCain are all on board with this.... Well, shouldn't that tell people that maybe, JUST MAYBE, that these measures are a GOOD idea.

    I mean, when was the last time that something like this happened?? That nearly EVERYONE in the government agreed..

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    On a totally unrelated subject..

    Elizabeth?? I have something here I thought you would appreciate. This was the only way I could think of to get it to you...

    A TALE OF TWO HOUSES

    This is the tale of two houses..

    House #1 is a beautiful 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.

    House #2 is also a beautiful house. It was designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American Southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

    HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee; it is the "humble" abode of the "environmentalist," Al Gore.

    HOUSE #2 is a ranch house near Crawford, Texas; it is the residence the of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

    An "inconvenient truth"

    Michale

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, it's begun...

    I am reading rumblings on the Dem blogs that Hillary supporters intend to vote GOP on down-ticking (Thanx Michael.. :D ) races in an effort to "punish" the Democratic Party for their support of the GOP's security measures..

    Remember, you heard it here first...

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Has anyone found any links that states Hillary's position on these new measures???

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Grrr.... That should be "down-ticket" not "down-ticking"....

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I apologize as I haven't had the time this week to pay more attention to the comments, but I had to address one thing.

    Michale - nope, I'm not for any immunity deal whatsoever. In the first place, I think it's an ex post facto law, and therefore illegal under the Constitution. Which means it should get thrown out in court, making the whole hoopla meaningless. However, it's never going to get thrown out in court if it doesn't get tested in the courts. And the law just conveniently throws out all the lawsuits which could do that.

    Secondly, if you are a citizen and are told by a policeman "go steal that guy's laptop -- it's OK, I'm a cop, it'll be legal." Would you do it? I would not, even if the cop had the guts to arrest me for not doing it. Because I would know that a fat juicy false arrest lawsuit settlement would be in my near future (which also gives the cop incentive not to arrest me -- because it would cost the city millions). But the real reason I wouldn't do it was that I knew it was illegal for me to do so, no matter what the cop said. "Just following orders" doesn't cut it.

    The telecoms have squads of lawyers to tell them the law. They know what the law is. They should have done the right thing, which was (when Bush asked them for sweeping dragnets of phone tapping) to say "Certainly! We'll help you out with whatever you want, once you show us the warrant from the FISA court, since that is the only way for us to legally do so." One company did this -- Qwest Communications. They immediately lost all their government contracts, which cost them millions. They were punished for doing the right thing. Because we're in a free market, that gave their competition an advantage.

    The whole point of the (civil) lawsuits is to make the companies that said "you want us to wiretap without a warrant? OK!" pay the price for doing so. And the price is being sued in court. And paying any settlement or decisions against them. If this bankrupts the companies, well, that's life. This would level the playing field with Qwest, the company who did the right thing and paid a financial price for doing so.

    And (most importantly) it would deter such lawless corporate behavior in the future. If a telecom company knew that the possible result in helping the president do something illegal was company-wide bankruptcy, then they'd think a little longer and little harder about ignoring the Law of the Land.

    Bush is president, not king. Just because (as Nixon said) "the President does it" does NOT make it legal. That is our bedrock system of government. Bush had a terrified nation and a terrified Republican Congress that would have handed him any law he wanted. But he didn't take that route. Therefore, he broke the law, and so did the telecoms. Bush will likely not pay a price for doing so, but the telecoms should.

    Just like the proponents for capital punishment argue, it's all about "deterrence" of future behavior. And THAT is why I am against the entire concept of amnesty for the telecoms. Feingold is right. There was nothing stopping Bush from getting FISA warrants -- the court virtually rubber-stamps anything they are asked to, so this isn't as high a hurdle as they're trying to make it sound.

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Secondly, if you are a citizen and are told by a policeman "go steal that guy's laptop — it's OK, I'm a cop, it'll be legal." Would you do it? I would not, even if the cop had the guts to arrest me for not doing it. Because I would know that a fat juicy false arrest lawsuit settlement would be in my near future (which also gives the cop incentive not to arrest me — because it would cost the city millions). But the real reason I wouldn't do it was that I knew it was illegal for me to do so, no matter what the cop said. "Just following orders" doesn't cut it

    For me the issue would be.... WHY?? Ignoring all other possibilities and simply sticking with a cop asking you to steal the laptop, then as mentioned, my question would be.. WHY??

    If it's because there are some nudie pics of girl on girl actions, I might be inclined to do it to see if any of them are my wife. :D Seriously, for something like that, I would probably tell the cop to take a hike..

    But, suppose it's because the laptop contains detonation codes for a nuclear device and stealing it is the ONLY way to prevent the detonation.

    Would you steal it then???

    I am sure you would.. I know I sure as hell would...

    My point in THIS issue is simple...

    The Democrats are on board with the measure..

    The Republicans are on board with the measure..

    BOTH Presidential candidates are on board with this measure..

    Doesn't that make you hesitate a LITTLE and think, "hmmmm Maybe all of those people know something that I don't...."

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Though you seem to have been watching too many episodes of 24, you're starting to get the point, Michale.

    The people don't know what's best for them. Only the President. And sometimes other piddly elected officials. The problem is that our President doesn't have the full toolset to do his job.

    If that laptop is sitting there with nuclear detonation codes on it, our Perpetudent (President for life or longer) needs to be able to send people in there to steal it without being handcuffed by a Congress or court system.

    Balance of powers just doesn't apply when it comes to terrorists. Surely you can see this?

    I can give you countless examples where Presidents have broken the law in times of war. And since we're always at war, we need a new form of government.

    Enter the Monarchy! By returning to the days before Democracy we can finally hand over all power to a supreme authority who knows what's best for us. You said it yourself, Michale.

    Our elected leaders know what's best for us. Not us.

    Why do you seem to be against this? The monarchists are willing to do what it takes to stop terrorism. The FISA measures proposed are only half-ISA measures.

    Conservatives feel that we've gotten away from the values that we used to have. The Monarchy Now! party wants to take us completely back to the 1600s when we had a sovereign power who was worth a damn.

    What it comes down to is this, Michale:

    1) Give the Perpetudent the powers he needs to steal that laptop with the nuclear detonation codes, or
    2) Millions of people die

    You said it yourself, Michale. It's the lesser of two evils. Wouldn't you make him monarch in this case?

    - David
    Internet Marketing Specialist
    Monarchy Now!

    p.s. Though we don't have a website yet, the Monarchy Now! party is growing daily. Several large corporations are getting tired of how much money they have to send to both parties to thwart the will of the people. So we are aggressively courting their dollars. If you know of anyone who is interested in donating, please let me know.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    @Michale
    Re.: A tale of Two Houses

    I do love a tale steeped with irony! It just shows to go ya that appearances can be deceiving - while some are not all they are cracked up to be, others are far worse than they may appear.

    And, for the real deal, be sure and check out Meet the Press tomorrow morning!

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Program note:

    While my previous articles have gotten a high of (I think) 72 Diggs (on the site Digg.com), this article just passed 1,000 Diggs. It's even on the front page of Digg currently. So, if you're into Digg, head on over and give it a click. I'm kind of astounded at the response, myself.

    You can find the article on Digg here.

    Back to your regularly scheduled comments...

    -CW

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    Do you really believe that the mainstream media is capable of correcting itself on that kind of a massive scale? I don’t know whether the problem is bias or just plain old-fashioned incompetence and ineptitude, both or something else entirely - whatever it is, it ain’t about to change anytime soon, much less before the general election. And so, I have come to the conclusion that we are pretty much doomed and destined to reap the unhappy consequences of an ill-informed electorate and a mainstream media collectively incapable of understanding what their role is in a democracy, much less of actually carrying it out.

    The only thing I have learned about Senator Obama that is of any relevance to this election - with or mostly without the help of the mainstream media - is that he does not have a sound strategy to reverse US policy in Iraq nor does he have the first clue about what will be required to end the civil war there. Ditto for McCain. And, that’s all I need to know about both of them.

    The media might try asking McCain about how he intends to move Iraq toward the rosy picture he envisions by the end of his first term. But, I won’t be waiting with bated breath.

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CW,

    I'm not into Diggs but, congrats on getting more than a thousand of 'em...doesn't surprise me at all!

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    @akadjian

    As far as the laptop theft goes, I was simply playing on CW's "what if"..

    But my overall point is something you people constantly overlook. Probably intentionally.

    There COULD be very good reasons for everything that has been done.

    But, because you are emotionally attached and have a deep-seated hatred of anything GOP, you cannot consider the possibilities. Hell, you refuse to even acknowledge that the possibility even exists!

    That is dangerously close-minded.

    Until you come to grips with the reality of today's world, you will always be this way.

    Balance of powers just doesn't apply when it comes to terrorists.

    I disagree.. A balance of power WOULD work. It's just that, in our current situation, you have one part of the balance working against the OTHER part, instead of working against the common enemy.

    What we NEED on a continuous and on-going basis is the type of bipartisanship that was prevalent in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

    We've actually moved closer to that point with recent developments. But we have a long way to go.

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I completely understand, Michale. And that's why I'm fighting for a constitutional monarchy.

    Since 9/11, Republicans have had to take advantage of the fear of the American people over and over again to get the Democrats to do what they wanted.

    Fear of terrorists was used to invade Iraq even though the terrorists were hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan. But we wanted to do it anyways so the end justified the means.

    But the darn Democrats won't work in a bipartisan way like that anymore so we have to ratchet up the fear to get anything accomplished.

    I mean, look at how we now have to use fear of high gas prices to push for more drilling. It's shameless that they won't just work with us to do what we want. (Give a break to the oil companies. You don't break an "addiction" by increasing supply. But damn, they've wanted that oil for years. And they can make so much money from it and send some of it our way.)

    So if we could just make Bush permanent, we could fight terror as a single unified force. This would be just like the bipartisanship we had after 9/11 when it was political suicide for Democrats to say anything other than "rah-rah bomb bomb war".

    The problem is that the Democrats think there are better ways to fight terrorism than war and that this war has cost us a helluva lot, increased the likelihood of us being attacked, and hasn't done a damn thing for us.

    They don't know what it's like to deal with terrorists.

    For example, Chris - In your laptop scenario, you're assuming that these people are innocent until proven guilty. But I'm not talking about people. I'm talking about terrorists. Terrorists aren't innocent until proven guilty. They're just terrorists. And how do we know they're terrorists? Well, trust me - I can smell a terrorist. And a terrorist by any other name still smells the same. So laws and courts only stand in the way of the triumph of good over evil.

    This is why we need a monarchy - to give the Perpedudent all the tools he needs to do his job! To fight evil! To let freedom reign! This is the only way to truly combat terror!

    David
    Monarchy Now!

    p.s. Let Freedom Reign! I like that. That may be the new slogan of Monarchy Now!

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    @akadjian

    Glad to see you are coming around with regards to terrorists.. The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist, etc etc...

    Need any help with your website?? :D

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    I had posted this over on CW's HuffPo post, but the 250 word limit really mutilated things.

    So, I figured I would post it over here, in it's entirety..

    Let's approach things logically and rationally for a moment.

    Let's not look at WHAT happened, but let's analyze WHY it may have happened..

    I have seen many theories bandied about as to why hundreds of Democrats, including the Democratic Party nominee for President has supported these new measures.

    In no particular order.

    1. Due to previous illegal eavesdropping, the Bush administration have got something to hold over the Democrats.

    2. There is new evidence of clear and present dangers facing this country that requires these new measures. Democrats have been made privy to this new information.

    3. Democrats are expecting big wins this election, including the White House and plan on using these new super powers to get even with the GOP..

    4. Democrats are complicit in earlier acts of illegal eavesdropping and fear public disclosure of said complicity. Kinda a watered down version of #1..

    If anyone has any other possibilities, I would be glad to hear them.

    Anyways, let's analyze these possibilities.

    #1 doesn't make much sense, as one must pre-suppose a LOT before it makes sense. First, one must pre-suppose that ALL the Democrats have done something so heinous that they would hand over this country, lock stock and democracy, to the Bush Administration. Further, it pre-supposes that ALL the Democrats are simply sycophants to their own greed and lust for power that NONE of them have any sort of conscience whatsoever. It would be a HUGE leap of faith that the Bush Administration can have so much dirt on ALL those Democrats and be able to effectively blackmail them and NOT ONE LEAK ABOUT IT. Further, I cannot actually believe that the GOP would have such dirt on Obama and not use it for the General Election. Finally, #1 presupposes that not ONE SINGLE Democrat would get pissed about the blackmail and say, "to hell with them!!" and expose the whole thing. Further, I honestly don't think that the Bush Administration could blackmail Obama into ANYTHING without it being exposed. And, does anyone honestly believe that if the Bush Administration had THAT kind of blackmail on Obama, they would waste it on this piddley measure and not use it for the General???

    As you can see, of all the possibilities, #1 is the most unlikeliest..

    OK, let's look at #3. Like #1, this one presupposes that Democrats are as evil and ask unprincipled as the GOP. While I have made that point on many occasions, this is different. In THIS case, it has to be assumed that the vast majority of Democrats, INCLUDING OBAMA is as unprincipled and evil as the GOP is accused of being. I honestly don't think that's the case. Several Democrats?? Possible. A few??? Likely.. But the majority?? I don't think so.

    #3 is unlikely.

    #4. Again, with the previous two mentioned, #4 has to pre-suppose a lot. It has to presuppose that all Democrats who supported these new measures would be deathly afraid of their previous clandestine support. Again, it presupposes that there would not be ONE Democrat who would blow the whistle on this political blackmail. But the biggest kicker about #4 is simply the fact that you don't blackmail someone into doing something and threaten them with exposing the time they PREVIOUSLY did it! I mean, seriously. "I want you to, with full public awareness, go into that store and steal that candy, or I will tell everyone that you, previously, went into that store and stole that candy!!" Hello?? If Democrats are going to be publicly castigated for supporting these measures (as they have to know they would be) do you think the threat of publicly exposing previous support is going to hold water??

    Now, finally, we look at #2. This is my theory. This theory has no presuppositions save one. That Democrats, by and large, are hard-working honest Americans who love their country and want to do what's best for their country. This theory is also supported by the fact that Obama is also supporting these new measures.

    There you have it. An objective and rational look at the possible reasons why Democrats en masse would support these new measures..

    Given this analysis, doesn't it make sense that, if your freely elected representatives who are privy to the kind of information that is relevant to these issues... If they support these measures, shouldn't you??

    Michale.....

  19. [19] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Exactly, Michale. Now I still don't understand why you're praising Republicans working with Democrats.

    You're starting to sound like you've been hanging out with Karl Marx too much.

    And speaking of superpowers, Bush still doesn't have the powers he needs to fight terrorism effectively. Congress or the courts can take back these powers any time they feel like it.

    When we find out that Iran has nuclear capabilities (I know they do - it doesn't matter what evidence is out there), our President is going to have to ask Congress about going to war.

    We need to give him the absolute power he needs. Why are you against giving him the power he needs to fight terrorism, Michale?

    Have the terrorists started paying you for your CT experience? Did you go over to the other side?

    David

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    One point.

    The president already has the authority to attack Iran. It's simply a matter of time.

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How long, do you think? And, could you elaborate on that authority?

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    I think I mentioned it before. The Kyle-Lieberman measure that passed declares the Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist organization.

    There is ample solid evidence to connect the RG with attacks on US Forces in Iraq.

    The Joint Authorization For Use Of Force that was passed in Sep of 2001 gives the president the authority to use ANY AND ALL means to safeguard Americans from terrorists and terrorist orgainizations.

    Therefore, the President has the authority right now to attack Iranian RG positions, camps and centers. Which is, for all intents and purposes, an attack on Iran.

    It's only a matter of time before the president uses that authority.

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    akadjian wrote:

    And there's more oil in Iran. So we better grab it while we can. But wouldn't it be easier if there were no Congress or court system?

    Our President could act so much quicker and with so much more authority.

    And think of all the other great things he could do. He could make fundamentalism the national religion. He could go after people in this country who are aiding the terrorists by disagreeing with him. He could drill for oil wherever he wanted to. And he wouldn't have to worry about the people!

    I mean, he hardly does now, but they are a bother sometimes. Like when they're filing lawsuits against big corporate donor companies. Or fighting for their rights when he knows what's best for them.

    So you haven't answered the question, Michale. I've shown how he could more effectively fight terrorism if he were our ruler. Wouldn't it be better if he were simply President for life?

    Are you paranoid or something? Are you wearing that aluminum foil hat?

    David
    Monarchy Now!

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    p.s. The question about whether McCain has ever been to a mental health professional is a great one, Chris. I think the public would want to know before he became king.

    David
    Let Monarchy Reign!

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    I thought you wanted George Bush for king??

    You sure are fickle...

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Purely for the sake of accuracy, Iran has the Revolutionary Guards. Iraq had the Republican Guard. Not that there is much difference between the two.

    I seriously doubt we would attack Iran. They are the third largest oil producer and the second largest natural gas producer. Take all that off line in the current oil market and the American people will join the rest of the oil consuming world with pitch forks in hand...

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very well said, BB!

    And, may I say that this thread has been one of the most thoroughly enjoyable that I have ever encountered. You gotta love the sarcasm, the unbelievable art of subtlety, and the laugh-out-loud humor. Thanks Michale and David - you guys ought to take this show on the road!

  28. [28] 
    akadjian wrote:

    George Bush. John McCain. Is there a difference? As long as there's a Republican king to fight off the evil terrorists.

    Only a king can save us from that weak-kneed soft-on-terror Reverend Wright-worshipping un-American Che Guevara bowls-like-your-mama Obama bin Laden you support!

    David
    There can be only one king!

  29. [29] 
    akadjian wrote:

    @Elizabeth

    Thank you, Elizabeth. You have a great name for a monarch. I would suggest that Michale and I take a bow, but I for one have vowed not to take a bow until such time as I shall kneel before my king and Middle English haes bin restoreth as ower propfer laenguage.

    Come join the Monarchy Now! party and together, we ... err ... he shall rule the world!

    Say, that's not bad. Together, he shall rule the world. I think we may have another slogan. Oh thank you, Elizabeth! The Monarchy Now! party is forever in your debt.

    David
    Monarchy Now!
    Together, he shall rule the world!

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    @BB
    Purely for the sake of accuracy, Iran has the Revolutionary Guards. Iraq had the Republican Guard. Not that there is much difference between the two.

    DOH!! My bust..

    Thanx for the correction....

    @Elizabeth

    I'se aim to please. :D

    Michale.....

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