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Friday Talking Points [189] -- Cut Congress' Pay!

[ Posted Friday, November 18th, 2011 – 16:40 PST ]

We're going to try something new here today. Well, before we get to that, we have to apologize for not warning readers last week that we were taking a break for Veterans' Day. Which brings up a related subject: there will be no Friday Talking Points next week, either (the day after Thanksgiving), as we plan to be lounging on the couch in a tryptophan haze. Consider yourselves warned, this time.

Back to today's column, though. We're going to try an experiment today, and try to tighten these columns up significantly. They started off as very simple columns which didn't run all that long, and now they've grown to monstrous proportions. So we'll be (mostly) doing away with this introductory bit here, and moving straight to the awards and the (hopefully, shorter) talking points. We'll see how it goes, and we'll see what readers think. Let us know in the comments, as always. Comments which start with: "You know, it's really annoying how you revel in the editorial 'we' during these columns..." will, as usual, be ignored (by us). We, to coin a phrase, will not be amused.

OK, enough silliness, let's get on with the show.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

We've got two Honorable Mention awards to hand out before we get to the main event. First up is all the folks in Wisconsin who are gathering signatures to recall their Republican governor. Now, signature-gathering out here in California is hard enough, having to stand around accosting passers-by in front of a supermarket or other public space, but I can only imagine what it is like to do so in the Wisconsin winter. So we have to give everyone gathering signatures up north for the next few months a collective Honorable Mention... and a quick cheer for the Green Bay Packers, while we're at it.

Senator Bernie Sanders is also worthy of an Honorable Mention this week, for an article he wrote for the Huffington Post, in which he begs Democrats to "stop caving." Always good advice for Democrats, sadly enough. Everyone should read Bernie's article, as it is definitely worth your time.

But the winner of the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is none other than Representative Gabrielle Giffords. And not for her "strong victim fighting for survival" human-interest story, either. Instead, for writing to the so-called "supercommittee" and suggesting the radical idea that if Congress wants to cut some spending, why not cut the pay for House and Senate members?

The Washington Post wrote an article on Gabby's effort:

Slashing lawmaker salaries was one of the last major issues Giffords advocated before she was shot in the head at a January 2011 constituent event. Only days before the shooting, Giffords had proposed legislation to cut the salaries of senators and representatives by five percent.

"Members of Congress can't ask any American to cut back before we are willing to make some sacrifices of our own," Giffords said at the time.

The article also has a link [PDF download] to the text of the letter Gifford's just sent -- signed by 11 Republicans and 14 Democrats (so far):

Several pieces of legislation have been introduced this Congress in both the House and the Senate to cut Member salaries and curb gold-plated Member retirement benefits, including the only bill introduced in the 112th Congress by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. These proposals show that compensation reductions can result in real deficit savings. For example, a five percent cut to the $174,000 Member salary would save $50 million over a ten year window, while a ten percent pay cut would save $100 million. Adjustments to Member benefit packages, which can be worth 47 percent of salaries, according to reports, could also result in millions of dollars in deficit savings.

United States Members of Congress are more generously compensated than legislators in almost every other country in the world. Legislators in the developed nations receive on average salaries that are 2.3 times higher than the average full-time worker, while we receive salaries that are 3.4 times higher than the average full-time wage. Only members of the National Diet of Japan, earning a salary 3.7 times higher than Japanese workers, outpace Members of Congress.

The last time Members of Congress took a cut in pay was on April 1, 1933 -- the midst of a Great Depression. At a time of similar economic turmoil and record deficits, Congress should not require sacrifices of others without tightening its own belt.

Bravo, Congresswoman! [or maybe, "Brava!" -- my Italian is pretty non-existent, I must confess....]

Sure, this would be merely symbolic. $100 million is a rounding error (especially over a 10-year period) on Capitol Hill. It's less than pocket change, to the budget seen as a whole. But symbolically, this would be huge. And if we start talking about staffing money and retirement packages, it could grow significantly.

For championing this issue -- not for doing so under extraordinarily tough personal circumstances, but for the issue itself -- Representative Giffords is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Go Gabby! Cut Congress' pay!

[Congratulate Representative Gabrielle Giffords on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

We are pleased to announce that this is one of those weeks when no Democrat seriously disappointed us (or the public at large). We keep thinking "Maybe we weren't paying attention, maybe we missed somebody doing something idiotic" -- which is always a possibility. As always, let us know in the comments if you've got a suggestion for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. You can even go back two weeks to suggest a candidate for the MDDOTW award, due to the lapse in columns last Friday.

Of course, we're polishing up a statuette just in case we have to award one next week for whichever Democrat on the supercommittee caves and votes for a Republican plan. And don't worry, even with the Thanksgiving break, we'll still remember this if it happens.

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 189 (11/18/11)

In honor of Gabby Giffords' MIDOTW stance, we're going to devote the entire talking points section this week to Congressional salaries and perks, and related subjects.

Once again, it's not about the money saved, in this particular instance. It is all about the shared sacrifice, and symbolism.

The Occupy Wall Street movement may be floundering, but the frustration that sparked it is still out there, and still burning fiercely. Democrats need to tap into this energy, and for the life of me I can't think of a more appropriate way to start. So here are my suggestions for what Democrats should come out in support of over the next few days.

 

1
   Our salary, or nothing

This is the tangent to the issue, so we'll get it out of the way first. The issue arose during a hearing where the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leaders were grilled before Congress, but it should be applied to everyone.

"Any company in America who receives a taxpayer bailout -- no matter what type of company it is -- will conform to the federal employee pay scale. Not one thin dime of taxpayer money will go to any company unless it accepts this rule. The highest-paid executive in any bailed-out company will get exactly the pay that members of Congress receive. Oh, and they'll get a bonus, too -- they'll get to keep working at a job. If these terms are unacceptable to any executive, well, good luck getting hired elsewhere at some exorbitant salary with 'led a company which failed miserably' as your last employer recommendation."

 

2
   Immediate 17% cut

Gabby Giffords has the right idea, but even she didn't push it far enough.

"If the supercommittee fails to vote out a bill, then we face what some have estimated as a 17% across-the-board cut to all federal domestic programs. If the supercommittee fails to act, I strongly urge Congress to immediately cut its own budget by 17 percent. I demand a 17 percent pay cut for every member of Congress, a 17 percent reduction in budgets for staff and office expenses, and a 17 percent cut in all perks. If we can't cut our own budgets 17 percent -- by next week -- then what moral right do we have to ask the rest of the government to make the same cuts?"

 

3
   Ten times minimum wage

This one would have some real teeth, far into the future.

"I am introducing a bill which ties congressional pay to the minimum wage. I don't think members of Congress deserve more than ten times what the lowest-paid worker receives by law. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, which works out to an annual salary of $15,080. My bill will set the absolute ceiling for any member of Congress' wage to be $150,800. From now on, if Congress wants to raise its pay, it must do so by raising the minimum wage one-tenth of the amount of our own pay raises. If Congress wants to keep their cost-of-living adjustment, then a proportional COLA must be in place for the minimum wage."

 

4
   Public sector pensions

This is one where recent Republican language can be turned against them.

"Republicans across the country have made an enormous political issue over the pensions of public sector workers such as firefighters, police, and teachers. They say we have to slash these pensions to balance our books. OK, let's start with our own. I am introducing a bill which will end the current pension program for Congress, which is likely the most generous public-sector pension program in all of human history. All of this will end. Instead, we will all get a 401K plan and Social Security and Medicare, just like most private sector employees receive. We are going to set the example for America by only allowing ourselves the same pension that the average American worker gets -- and not a penny more."

 

5
   Congress follows all laws

This one is slightly off on a tangent, but it's such a popular one that I had to include it.

"I am calling for a constitutional amendment which states 'Congress may not pass laws which do not apply to Congress.' This amendment will further state that any laws currently on the books which exempt Congress from any law the rest of America must follow is now null and void. Congress should not be able to carve out exceptions for itself when passing laws. If Congress passes a workplace law, then they must follow this law. If Congress passes a rule all businesses must follow, then they must also follow the new rule. Few Americans are aware of how Congress exempts itself from its own laws in this fashion, but when informed of the practice, few Americans like what they hear. I am calling for this to come to an end, and I am confident that amending the Constitution to do so will be wildly popular with the public."

 

6
   100 percent transparent

If we're going to live in the Citizens United world, let's at least see where the money's coming from.

"I am calling for a campaign finance law which requires everyone paying for any political activity to be publicly identified. If corporations want to spend money in the political arena, we should know who they are, and how much they are giving. No political advocacy entity will be able to have anonymous donors anymore. Full public disclosure for political groups, parties, candidates, PACs, SuperPACs, lobbying, advocacy groups -- everyone. Every dollar which pays for politics in this country -- and who donated it -- needs to be public information. Period."

 

7
   NASCAR jackets for Congress

This idea has been floating around the internet for a while. I certainly can't claim this as an original idea, but it is still the best radical idea in the field of campaign contributions I've ever heard.

"I am introducing a bill I call the 'NASCAR Jacket Bill' which will require all members of Congress to wear -- whenever on the floor of Congress or at a public event -- visible patches from every corporation or lobbying group they've taken money from in the past ten years. Since this 'sponsorship' of Congress is so widespread, let's allow the public to see who is buying whom. Congressmen will be forced to display patches from every group who donates money to them -- and the patches will be larger and more colorful, depending on the amount of money given (just like NASCAR sponsorships are rewarded, in other words). Let the public see this legalized bribery, on every television screen on which a politician appears. Let the people decide for themselves whether they want to vote for a politician who has been bought and sold in this fashion. Give Americans the visual evidence of where the money in politics comes from, by forcing NASCAR jackets on each and every member of Congress."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

42 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [189] -- Cut Congress' Pay!”

  1. [1] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Oh yeah. Great idea. Cut pay for congresspeople. Let's make it official that no one who isn't independantly wealthy (ie: doesn't need a paycheck) need appy for the job. I don't care if you need to find a bazillion bucks to win ... maybe you can find a baillion people who like you.

    By taking away the pay for congress, you don't hurt the standing congresspeople they ALREADY are rich. You only hurt those who might actually need the $$$.

    Like Anne Richards, who famously ran for Texas Governor rather than State Treasurer because it paid more.

  2. [2] 
    dsws wrote:

    Oh yeah. Great idea. Cut pay for congresspeople. Let's make it official that no one who isn't independantly wealthy (ie: doesn't need a paycheck) need appy for the job. I don't care if you need to find a bazillion bucks to win ... maybe you can find a baillion people who like you.

    By taking away the pay for congress, you don't hurt the standing congresspeople they ALREADY are rich. You only hurt those who might actually need the $$$.

    That's pretty much what I was going to say. I'll just add that maintaining two homes (one in DC and one in the home state) is required for the job, and housing in DC isn't cheap. And that as long as there's a Congress there will always be congressional staff: the only question is whether the staff will be on our payroll or the lobbyists'.

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    DerFarm -

    Back in the day, Congresscritters moved to Washington and kept their primary residence in the district. They moved their whole families, and their kids went to school in DC.

    Now, they feel entitled to have two homes. That's not my problem. They can't rent an apartment in one place or the other, on $175K a year? My heart bleeds...

    dsws -

    See above. It isn't "required" for the job, and it certainly didn't used to be. Some freshmen tea partiers came to DC in 2010 vowing to sleep on cots in their office. They have a gym with full shower facilities (as a perk), so what's the problem? Wonder how many of them are still doing so...

    On $175K a year, I could keep up a primary residence AND an apartment. When Congress hiked their pay through the roof a few decades ago, this was the explanation they gave: they were instituting such tight ethics restrictions on what they were allowed to accept from lobbyists and the like that they needed a princely sum each year to avoid the taint of all that filthy money. From where I sit, they now have both -- the filthy money, AND the salary which places them in the top 5% of all American workers. My "BS-o-meter" is ringing off the scale, sorry.

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    I ran across a little factoid the other day.. Not sure where it was, but it was very interesting..

    The majority of elected representatives come to Washington as the middle class..

    Within a few years, they are millionaires...

    It's not the pay that makes them that way.. It's all the legal bribes that make them that way..

    I am with CW..

    Cut their pay...

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Anyone catch the old Eddie Murphy, THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN???

    It's funny how life imitates art, eh? :D

    Your talking points are dead on, CW... I especially like the "NASCAR Jacket" idea.. I would love to see Pelosi and Reid and Bohner and McConnell decked out in digs that show just how many corporations and lobbyists have a piece of their souls...

    I seem to remember some prominent CongressCritter promising that the Congress would be the most transparent one in history..

    I guess we couldn't see the transparency thru all the smoke and mirrors...

    Great commentary.. One I can get behind 1000%...

    Michale....

  6. [6] 
    Mike Daum wrote:

    I think #4 is great!!

    All Tea Party candidates should pledge to convert their pensions to 401k style pensions starting with Senator Rand Paul and his father congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul!

    Let's get petitions going now!

  7. [7] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Chris,

    You're channeling your inner Michale ... and that alone should make you re-think.

    Just what in the world is reducing the pay of Congress going to do about the rampant insider trading? What is this going to accomplish?

    You want to do away with insider trading? Fine, make it illegal for and Congress person to hold more and different stocks than what was listed upon entering the Congress. And maybe up to 5 years afterward. Make it illegal for Congresspersons to be a registered lobbyist, or accept $$$ from any entity that does business with the Feds, at a rate higher than what they had before they went in.

    You say that would be too hard? So what, find a way to doit.

    And really, congresscritters?

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    You're channeling your inner Michale ... and that alone should make you re-think. CW knows talent when he sees it! :D

    You want to do away with insider trading? Fine, make it illegal for and Congress person to hold more and different stocks than what was listed upon entering the Congress. And maybe up to 5 years afterward.

    Didn't you read the TPs???

    Congress makes laws and then exempts themselves from the laws...

    Make it illegal for Congresspersons to be a registered lobbyist, or accept $$$ from any entity that does business with the Feds, at a rate higher than what they had before they went in.

    Yea, that's what Obama and the Democrats said they would do...

    Howz THAT workin' out??? :D

    Michale....

  9. [9] 
    dsws wrote:

    "No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."
    Article I section 2

    "No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."
    Article I section 3

    Being an inhabitant of the state they represent is required. It's just that people have been ignoring the requirement.

    Do you really believe that requiring them to sleep on a cot (unless they're already wealthy, or find some corrupt way of making money off the job) is the best way of getting good representatives and getting them not to find corrupt ways of making money off the job?

    The population clock at census.gov says there are 312,635,074 of us. There are 435 representatives and 100 senators. Doing the arithmetic, we pay 30¢ per person per year for congressional salaries. In case the software won't show the symbol, that's a cent sign. Thirty cents. For the whole year.

  10. [10] 
    Kevin wrote:

    This is way off topic, but I just read this and bust a gut.

    http://www.stonekettle.com/2011/11/ever-heard-of-irving-you-know-irving.html

    I really recommend this for a smile...

  11. [11] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Hahaaahahahah. Irving ... the 142nd fastest gun in the West.

    Thank you for that, Kevin!

    :)

  12. [12] 
    akadjian wrote:

    When Congress hiked their pay through the roof a few decades ago, this was the explanation they gave: they were instituting such tight ethics restrictions on what they were allowed to accept from lobbyists and the like that they needed a princely sum each year to avoid the taint of all that filthy money. From where I sit, they now have both -- the filthy money, AND the salary which places them in the top 5% of all American workers. My "BS-o-meter" is ringing off the scale, sorry.

    CW- To some extent I do believe the first argument, that we should potentially pay these people better to help them avoid the "filthy money".

    But if we're going to do this, we need to have better bans on the second part, the filthy money.

    As Jack Abramoff said recently, all you had to do to get a Congressman in your pocket was to start talking about offering them a job at your lobbying firm once they stepped down from office. Once this happened, they would do anything you wanted.

    -David

  13. [13] 
    dsws wrote:

    Exactly: we have to do both, pay them well and have effective enforcement.

    If we cut their pay to the point where they have a choice of corruption or sleeping on a cot in their office, all the rules we can come up with wouldn't stop them from being corrupt. If we have the current situation, where corruption is perfectly legal, all the pay we can throw at them wouldn't stop them from being corrupt.

    So, in terms of the importance of their job, where should members of Congress fall on the income scale? Governors should be paid more. So should the president and cabinet, and a few hundred other key people in the executive branch. So should, let's say, the top hundred highest-paid the thousand biggest firms, and the top fifty at the next thousand, five top bosses at the next thousand, and one person each at the next five thousand. Call it a hundred seventy thousand people, out of three hundred million, or about .06%. About four hundred people a typical district would be higher-paid than its representative in Congress. That would have them being less rich than most of the people who expect favors of them, but richer than the flunkies sent to bring them the message.

    That's supposing that representing us in Congress is more important than being the boss of the local dog-food factory, or whatever the fiftieth-biggest business in the district might be. Most Americans apparently don't share that supposition.

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Posted to wrong thread...

    Forgive the redundancy....

    http://nationaljournal.com/2012-presidential-campaign/democratic-pollsters-obama-should-abandon-run-for-second-term-20111120

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    If Obama really cared about this country *AND* the Democratic Party, he would step aside...

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I believe that a national initiative-referendum process would go a long way toward reining in the power of corruption in Congress. Cutting their pay would be at best a band-aid.

  16. [16] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Mike Daum [6] -

    Just wanted to say welcome to the site!

    Your first comment was held for confirmation, and my apologies for being so slow about approving it (this can happen, over the weekend).

    From now on, however, any comments you post will appear immediately. Unless you post two or more links in a single comment, which automatically means the comment will be held for moderation (to cut down on "comment spam").

    Again, welcome to the site, and sorry for the delay.

    -CW

  17. [17] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    DerFarm [7] -

    I prefer to think of it as Michale channeling his inner Chris. Hmmph.

    Seriously, though, I'm all for ending the trading nonsense, too. Just like presidents and cabinet members have to do, I think Congress should be forced to put their holdings in a "blind trust" where a money manager makes their investment decisions with NO INPUT or even knowledge by the politician. There is indeed a precedent for this sort of thing, in other words.

    As for "congresscritters", well, I've been using that one for years... when I feel its justified, of course.

    :-)

    Michale [8] -

    Obama said he'd change the rules for his White House (re: lobbyists). He has. He instituted stricter rules than any previous president. Sure, he had some exemptions, but he's still tougher on lobbyists than any previous president, bar none. As for Congress, well, Obama doesn't make the rules for Congress, so feel free to blast away at them, but I don't believe they made any promises to change things (as Obama did).

    dsws [9] -

    Hey, I said it'd be symbolic deficit reduction, and not tangible. But if you're doing the math, you should add in the extra 47 percent (or, multiply the salaries by 1.88 to get the full cost), as referenced in the letter in the above column. Benefits cost money, too.

    I refuse to show any pity for someone making $175K a year -- plus an additional $150K+ in perks), that they're too "poor", sorry. Anyone sleeping on a cot in his office is doing so by choice, not financial need.

    [And, amazingly, the cent sign did show up correctly, on my browser...]

    Kevin [11] -

    I will check it out.

    David [12] -

    You forgot to add "see: Newt Gingrich"

    Heh.

    -CW

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    This is totally off subject, I warn everyone.

    RE: our discussion of what constitutes "terrorism," what do you think of this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/scott-walker-recall-threats_n_1105115.html?ref=politics

    Are those who make death threats to a petition gatherer terrorists or not by your definition? I'd have to say they would be, by mine.

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Mike Daum,

    As I am wont to do...

    "Welcome to the party, pal!!!
    -John McClane, DIE HARD

    :D

    All Tea Party candidates should pledge to convert their pensions to 401k style pensions starting with Senator Rand Paul and his father congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul!

    I am right behind you in encouraging that...

    RIGHT AFTER people like Pelosi and Reid and Obama et al do the same..

    What!??? You want to exempt Democrats from that???

    :D

    CW,

    I prefer to think of it as Michale channeling his inner Chris. Hmmph.

    Hehehehehehehe

    As for "congresscritters", well, I've been using that one for years... when I feel its justified, of course.

    Yea, like it's ever not... :D

    Obama said he'd change the rules for his White House (re: lobbyists). He has. He instituted stricter rules than any previous president.

    That's a load of felgercarb...

    The only "stricter rule" he has implemented is that meetings with Lobbyists are at Blair House and not at the White House..

    Serving the letter of the promise while totally demolishing the spirit of the promise..

    Sure, he had some exemptions, but he's still tougher on lobbyists than any previous president, bar none.

    I see no evidence of this and plenty of evidence to the contrary.. So I gots ta call BS on that.. :D

    . As for Congress, well, Obama doesn't make the rules for Congress, so feel free to blast away at them, but I don't believe they made any promises to change things (as Obama did).

    "This will be the most transparent and ethical Congress in history"
    -Nancy Pelosi

    Sheeya right.. And monkees fly outta my butt too!!

    Are those who make death threats to a petition gatherer terrorists or not by your definition? I'd have to say they would be, by mine.

    I would have to say "no" and here's why..

    We are talking about a political endeavor.. A "battle" if you will...

    The aides and workers that are working the "battle" are "soldiers" and are, as such, legitimate "combatants"...

    Surely other laws come into effect. Death threats, extortion, etc etc are all legitimate prosecutions that could result from these activities..

    But terrorism??

    For it to be considered terrorism, there would have to be threats against innocent people in an attempt to sway the workers and aides actions..

    Example, if a worker was told that their family will be killed or their friends will be killed if they don't stop working on the Recall, then that would be more of a terroristic threat than threats to the worker themself...

    But, in the Recall "battle" the workers and aides would not be considered "innocent"..

    That's an objective, logical and emotion-less assessment of the issue..

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    dsws wrote:

    I'm not claiming that they have to sleep on cots now. $175k covers the payments on a median house in DC plus an apartment in almost any district, plus a normal amount of pocket change. But after the double cost-of-living is accounted for, what's left is only a normal amount of pocket change, not a king's ransom. And if it became politically required to cut their pay every year, they soon would be sleeping at the office (unless they were already wealthy or they find a corrupt way to make money off the job).

    There is absolutely no way of completely removing the opportunity for corruption. It simply cannot be done. It's like building a dam with no turbines or spillway for the water to go through or over. One way or another, it's going to get to the downhill side.

    It's also necessary to reduce the temptation. We're not going to make them as rich as the people they're trying to deal with, the big money that's affected by the laws. But we can easily afford to pay them enough that the super-rich can't make the legislators feel like utter paupers if they refrain from corruption. A legislator should be able to have lunch with a powerful constituent, at as fancy a restaurant as the constituent would otherwise be eating at, without putting themself in the awkward position of being unable to pay for their own lunch.

  21. [21] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    You, sir, are either a hypocrite or just have a serious case of bias.

    What is your own definition of terrorism? Please state for the record.

    By that definition, threatening to kill a signature-gatherer is indeed terrorism. I actually thought I was tossing you a softball with this one: "at least we'll agree on this" I naively thought.

    Politics is not a war. It is not a battle. There are no "valid military targets" in politics. Period. End of sentence. Anyone working legally to change our politics in ANY LEGAL FORM WHATSOEVER -- from anti-abortion folks legally picketing a sidewalk, to boycotting, to petition-gathering, to voting, to petitioning the government for redress, to demonstrating peacefully -- ALL of it is entirely innocent. In ALL senses of the word -- legally, morally, and militarily. Equating being a valid military target and a signature-gatherer is simply horse manure.

    Using threats of death (or even violence) against such innocents -- to futher a political goal -- is indeed terrorism. Shooting abortion providers to death is terrorism. Bombing a building in OK City is terrorism. Sending anthrax to politicians is terrorism.

    This is a concerted effort, too -- there are folks out there who are collecting signatures for the recall, and then destroying them (which is illegal).

    By any sane definition -- even by yours -- death threats against innocent political workers is terrorism.

    Don't believe me? Let me put it another way, which you WILL likely agree with:

    If the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were caught making death threats against opposition parties in the runup to an election, would you call that political terrorism?

    I would, and I see no difference whatsoever.

    Hmmph.

    -CW

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    You, sir, are either a hypocrite or just have a serious case of bias.

    Is there a difference??? :D

    What is your own definition of terrorism? Please state for the record.

    Glad to.. :D

    "Terrorism is defined as ongoing and systematic attacks of violence specifical­ly targeted against innocent persons or property for the purpose of furthering a political, economical or ideologica­l agenda."

    In your example, the people being threatened are not "innocent", as they have willingly placed themselves in the spotlight, so to speak..

    Put it another way.. Remember the discussion we had during the Dem primary about media attacks on Chelsea Clinton??

    Some people were of the mind that such attacks were not warranted. But you said that, since Chelsea put herself "in harms way" (so to speak) that she made herself fair game for media attacks.. Not your exact words, but that was the gist of what you said..

    In the same manner, those who pursue a political agenda, they put themselves "in harms way"...

    Now I am not, in any way, shape or form, condoning the threats. I think it's despicable that people would stoop to such tactics.. That applies to whether the threats are coming from the Right towards the Left or coming from the Left towards the Right...

    It's despicable, it's perverse and it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law...

    But it's not terrorism because it's not directed at "innocent" people in an effort to influence a political agenda..

    Take my answer to David in the last comment in this thread...

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/11/16/two-suggestions-for-occupy-wall-street/#comment-17374

    That would be more of terrorism than what you describe because of the possibility of innocent people being attacked..

    If the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were caught making death threats against opposition parties in the runup to an election, would you call that political terrorism?

    If ONLY opposition politicians were targeted, then no,it would not be terrorism.. But you and I both know that more than likely entire families would be targeted. In that case, it would be terrorism..

    Let me put it another way....

    Let's say John and James are vying for the same job.. John sends death threats to James to try and scare him into not taking the job...

    That's not terrorism because James is a "combatant" (or "player" if you prefer) in the whole thing..

    Now let's say that James has a bunch of co-workers who are involved in helping James get the job.. John threatens them.. Not really terrorism because those co-workers put themselves on the board, so to speak...

    Again, it's despicable and wrong.. No question..

    But it's not terrorism..

    Now, if John started attacking James wife and children in an effort to force James out of the running, THAT would be closer to terrorism...

    Again, let me be clear. By not labeling it terrorism in NO WAY indicates approval for the actions described...

    Michale....

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, so I am sitting at my workbench, digging into a laptop... Since I have done this particular model so many times, I can do it it my sleep. So my mind is wandering with various scenarios of our discussion..

    So, extrapolating your political worker scenario out to a logical next step, what about voters???

    Voters are "taking sides" and "putting themselves in harms way" so to speak..

    Attacks and threats against voters is nearly a textbook definition of terrorism..

    Logically, I must concede the validity of that argument.

    Such actions as you initially describe are terroristic in nature...

    I stand corrected... :D

    "I'm kickin' my ass!! Do ya mind!!???"
    -Jim Carrey, LIAR,LIAR

    :D

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    That is still horse manure, squared.

    Chelsea Clinton was not "attacked" by the media. That is hyperbole, although I fully admit I'm as guilty as anyone else of using such terms at times. Politics is full of military metaphors, which are almost always overblown: "attack, battle, nuclear option, etc."

    Clinton's case of being "fair game" has nothing whatsoever to do with the case we're discussing, really. The big difference? Death threats.

    This is America. You do not, in America, take your life in your hands when you enter the political realm. You just don't. You don't have to take an oath, as if you're joining the Army. You are not signing up to defend your positions to the death, and you are not expected to "kill or die" in support of your cause, and you certainly shouldn't expect death threats as par for the course of joining in the political fray. There is just no way any sane person would equate the two, other than rhetorically.

    Was the KKK guilty of terrorism for its campaign of lynching "uppity" black people who tried to exercise their rights of citizenship by daring to vote?

    Yes, yes they were. It was indeed terrorism. Because voting is an innocent act. The brave blacks daring to vote were, in a very real way, on the front lines in a political fight -- but the fight against them was un-American terrorism. Just because they dared to vote didn't make them legitimate targets in any way, shape, or form.

    Are the morons making death threats to people who have done nothing more harmful than asking their fellow citizens to sign a constitutionally-protected petition for a political cause committing an act of terrorism? Yes, yes they are.

    If you want to split hairs, we can talk about the Provisional IRA. The Provos attacking British police and military in Northern Ireland was, by their reasoning, a military campaign against valid military targets. But when they started bombing (and threatening to bomb) Christmas shoppers in London, they crossed the line to terrorism -- again, by anyone's definition.

    Death threats to a signature-gatherer are indeed terrorism. Ask yourself: what would Fox News be calling it, if the petition-gatherers in CA to recall a Democratic governor were so threatened?

    I'd bet they'd be using the "T" word, myself.

    Here's another hypothetical: if the OWS folks began phoning up individual cops at home and making death threats, would that be terrorism? By your (current) definition, they would not be guilty of terrorism. I would disagree, however -- it doesn't matter to me what the "cause" is, this is an objective question of definition. And even though the target would be cops, the phoners would still be guilty of terrorism.

    -CW

  25. [25] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Holy crap, did you just beat me to the punch?

    See my KKK example, as it goes to the same logical extreme you mentioned.

    Like I said, initially I thought I was tossing you a softball -- terrorism is the mechanics of instilling terror to innocents through use of (or threat of) violence. I felt sure you'd agree, to tell you the truth.

    I salute you for returning to sanity, and for being intelligent enough to examine your own positions rationally when you are too far out on a limb. That's one reason why I like having you around, here.

    Going out and gathering signatures and then throwing them in the trash (rather than turning them in) is despicable and dastardly and illegal. It's a political dirty trick of the purest water. But it's not terrorism. But almost by definition, when the term "death threats" arises, it is almost surely going to be terrorism.

    -CW

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    Holy crap, did you just beat me to the punch?

    Yea, sorry about that. :D

    Your IRA example is indeed an example of how legitimate military actions can degenerate into terrorism..

    Just as in your OWS example. Such would NOT be terrorism if the Oowzers were making threats to cops.. Cops are, by ANY definition, combatants...

    But if Oowzers started threatening to attack cops' kids or family, THAT would be terrorism...

    As I pointed out to David in that other thread...

    I salute you for returning to sanity, and for being intelligent enough to examine your own positions rationally when you are too far out on a limb.

    Minor brain-fart. Probably won't be the last one. :D

    That's one reason why I like having you around, here.

    And here I thought it was my movie quotes.. :D

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The problem with treating everyone as guilty until proven innocent:

    http://gawker.com/5862447/deaf-disabled-senior-citizen-on-bicycle-deemed-threat-by-police-tased-to-death

    -David

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    The problem with treating everyone as guilty until proven innocent:

    The problem with NOT treating everyone as guilty is that it likely results in dead cops..

    This was a tragedy, no two ways about it...

    Mistakes do happen. And that rookie cop will have to live with this mistake for the rest of his life.

    I can assure you with complete confidence that the poor guy will feel like crap for the rest of his life.

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    There is a very old saying amongst cops..

    It's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    akadjian wrote:

    So shoot first and ask questions later, eh?

    Sorry, michale. This may be your belief. But I'm gonna keep fighting for "innocent until proven guilty".

    Otherwise, we're simply ceding too much power to our government.

    The police officers I respect are the ones who can defuse almost any situation w/o the use if force. The ones who use force as a last resort.

    Not a first option.

    -David

  31. [31] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Ah crap. I've diverted this even further. Happy thanksgiving holiday folks!

    Hope no one is out being pepper sprayed by black Friday shoppers!

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    So shoot first and ask questions later, eh?

    No.. But treat each situation as a possible threat until evidence proves otherwise..

    It's how cops stay alive in a job where staying alive is not always easy to do..

    Sorry, michale. This may be your belief. But I'm gonna keep fighting for "innocent until proven guilty".

    That's kewl.. But just remember the men and women who put their lives on the line so you CAN keep fighting for that..

    The police officers I respect are the ones who can defuse almost any situation w/o the use if force. The ones who use force as a last resort.

    Not a first option.

    Nothing I have said goes against this..

    You would also feel different if you have ever been a cop..

    Read a book called SIGNAL ZERO.. It will be an eye opener for you..

    Happy Turkey Day.. :D

    Michale

    001

  33. [33] 
    Michale wrote:

    The police officers I respect are the ones who can defuse almost any situation w/o the use if force. The ones who use force as a last resort.

    Not a first option.

    I would also ask you to ask those cops to read what I have posted and see if they disagree with anything I said.. :D

    Michale.....

    002

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    This is what an "entitlement" mentality results in...

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57331142/woman-pepper-sprays-other-black-friday-shoppers/

    Michale.....

    003

  35. [35] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Nothing I have said goes against this..

    Are you sure?

    Seems like the very next thing you said goes against it:

    You would also feel different if you have ever been a cop.

    But just remember the men and women who put their lives on the line so you CAN keep fighting for that.

    You bet! I respect the hell out of cops - cops that deserve it. Same goes for the military. Same goes for just about anyone.

    But there are those who don't deserve it and they shouldn't be "exempt" from criticism just because they wear a uniform.

    -David

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    But there are those who don't deserve it and they shouldn't be "exempt" from criticism just because they wear a uniform.

    Agreed...

    But, to adequately criticize, one needs to have ALL the facts..

    For example, we have a protester who was at the UC incident and she emphatically stated that they put the cops in the situation where they had to use force...

    The Oowzers are NOT as pure as the driven snow, despite your claims to the contrary...

    Michale.....

    008

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    We also have reports out of Zucotti Park that the Oowzers were stockpiling weapons.. Knives and clubs and the like...

    Tell me.. What exactly have the Oowzers accomplished???

    Not a damn thing....

    If there goal was to be a positive political force and to have an political impact on the country they have failed and failed miserably...

    They tried to be a Left Wing Tea Party and failed...

    Hardly a group to put up on a pedestal...

    Especially before they bathed...

    Michale.....

    009

  38. [38] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Au contraire, mon frere.

    People are now talking about things like this ...

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income.html

    And yes, you read that right. $7.77 trillion in bailouts. Most of it secret.

    Dwarfing the size of the 700 billion asset program.

    And Bloomberg had to sue to get the government to release these details.

    Now I don't care which party you're from, this should make you angry.

    You can gripe about hippies and liberals and communists and socialists and OWS all you want, but if you really want something to change, write your Congressman about the 7.77 trillion bailout.

    The bailout which is more than half our current deficit.

    This is the real problem.

    -David

  39. [39] 
    Michale wrote:

    "THE" bailout wasn't the problem..

    *ALL* of the bailouts are the problem..

    But let me ask you, David...

    If the bailouts are the problem......?????

    WHY aren't the Oowzers protesting where the bailouts came from??

    Why aren't the protesting tooth and nail in Washington DC and against Democrats who pushed the bailouts over and over and over again??

    Why aren't the Oowzers protesting Barney Frank, who fought against the regulation of Fannie and Freddie for years??

    If protesting the bailouts was truly the goal of the Oowzers, why don't they go protest where those bailouts originated??

    They didn't originate on Wall Street or in Los Angeles or Dallas or Boston...

    They originated in Washington DC and the vast majority of the bailouts originated with Democrats...

    I'll tell you why.. Because the Oowzers aren't really protesting the bailouts.. They aren't protesting for jobs or a better life for the 99%..

    They are protesting simply to flout authority. They are protesting to prove they can violate the laws of the land with impunity and nothing can stop them.

    They are finding out that they are very VERY wrong.....

    On just about everything...

    Michale....

    010

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    They are finding out that they are very VERY wrong.....

    On just about everything...

    To clarify....

    The Oowzers are right insofar as their claim of economic inequality. But that's like looking outside, seeing that it is pouring and then claiming, "I think it's going to rain today"... It's a statement that is so blatantly obvious, anyone with 2 brain cells could make the same accurate claim..

    The Oowzers are wrong, however, in how the choose to address such inequality..

    I mean, seriously. They protest the lack of jobs and their very protests costs hundreds of jobs..

    They protest about how there is no money for social services and their very protests costs cities and municipalities tens of millions of dollars...

    And yet, ya'all still claim that how the Oowzers are going about it is the RIGHT way to do it!???

    Seriously????

    Michale.....
    013

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    So much for "transparency" eh??

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-admin-seals-records-murdered-border-patrol-agent-implicated-fast-and-furious_610783.html

    I saids it before and I'll says it again...

    2012 can't come soon enough...

    Michale....
    028

  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like Obama is finally going to go down and join the Occupy Wall Street group...

    Obama is landing at JFK around 5 p.m., choppering in Marine One to Wall Street
    http://www.businessinsider.com/warning-do-not-try-to-drive-in-manhattan-this-afternoon-2011-11#ixzz1fDLZy8D7

    Oh wait....

    That's a fund raiser....

    My mistake.. :^/

    Michale.....
    029

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