Jun 27, 2008

Stupid is as Stupid Does
by aurabass as posted on Daily Kos
Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:03:14 AM EST

Sam Stein's SERENITY LOST: Obama And The Netroots notes a culmination of a week of wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth here among my fellow Kossacks over FISA and notice of a number among us who have gone so far as to withdraw support from the presumptive Democratic Nominee.

I hate to break it to my fellow liberals but this is just plain STUPID.

Last night Keith Olbermann's fine diary shows another side of the situation and makes valid points about the potential damage we do to our one last best hope of overcoming what we lost during the past eight years. Heed the words of John Dean and Keith and don't do anything STUPID.

I will place my liberal activist pedigree and history up against anyone including my arrest record and status as a radical left leaning Democrat, but my enthusiasm for seeing Barack Obama elected is not diminished by FISA.

It seems mine is one of the few voices in the wilderness asking some fairly simple questions of my liberal brothers and sisters. OBAMA IS RIGHT ON FISA was my attempt to get you to actually read the legislation and to stipulate the passages that you believe violate the Constitution of the United States. Only one Kossak, beijingbetty, bothered to come up with a section that she felt fell into that description when she cited some language in Section 705 with the 'emergency clause' and the section that dealt with information obtained using the emergency clause being inadmissible in court. At least she had something specific to list instead of reliance on the generalities of the ACLU letter, Glenn Greenwald and Hunter. I disagree with her but we had something specific to discuss. I see nothing in this FISA legislation that rises to the level of sufficient reason to desert Barack Obama.

I followed the OBAMA IS RIGHT ON FISA with THINGS WE LOST IN THE FISA FIRE as a way to address specific examples of things that could go wrong under the FISA legislation as a practical matter. Nobody could come up with a specific example of how their rights under the Constitution might be violated. In the end any question of Constitutionality of the provisions will be decided in court.

Diane Fienstein says this FISA improvement eliminates warrantless wiretapping and I believe she is correct. So that's a good thing isn't it? Or are you too busy being indignant to actually read the bill and point out where she is wrong?

I don't like the immunity provision (and neither does Barack Obama) but from a practical standpoint how does it effect us? An individual cannot sue AT&T because email was moved to an NSA computer where it may or may not have been read? What are the damages one could recover for that I wonder? In the end the immunity only stops civil suits of questionable value that would be decided by the courts.

The Constitutionality of immunity and any potentially unconstitutional aspect of the FISA bill will be decided in court. And that brings us to what is really important about this situation and really STUPID about those who are withdrawing or limiting support for Barack Obama based on his grudging support of this FISA improvement. The courts will decide and guess who appoints the judges who will hear those cases?

Well it will either be Barack Obama or John McCain. So the only real question we have to ask ourselves when we want to uphold the Constitution and feel the this bill violates the Constitution, is what will the courts decide concerning the Constitutionality of this FISA bill.

So back off of your support for Barack Obama and we can virtually guarantee a court that will care less about Constitutional protection for the right of privacy. A McCain appointee will be far more likely to judge privacy as a right not guaranteed by the Constitution. If that right of privacy you think the Constitution protects is important to you and by your actions you allow John McCain to become President what have you done?

You will defend the Constitution by helping elect the guy who will fill the courts that rule on Constitutionality with more Scalias and Thomases.
Good work.

We can disagree over whether this bill is an improvement over the current act.
We can disagree over whether this bill ends warrantless wiretaps
We can disagree over the viability of civil lawsuits and damages to those who might have had email read by government agents.
But there should be no disagreement about who will rule on the Constitutionality of provisions in this bill that is going to pass no matter what we do. And there should be no disagreement that Obama appointed judges will be far more likely to rule on the side of our view of the Constitution.
Anybody saying they are liberal Democrats who fails to support the candidate most likely to give us the judicial nominees we want is doing something very STUPID.

Again I beseech you to offer comments that show definitive language in the FISA bill that you would like to see changed. According to Senator Feinstein we will have this bill as a moderate improvement or an extension of the old unamended Patriot Act and those are the choices. Killing this bill doesn't guarantee a better solution. How is that reasoning incorrect?

I wonder why Kossack aren't attacking AT&T and the other Telcoms where they live. Why are there no calls for a boycott of AT&T services and a well funded Move On campaign explaining to AT&T subscribers that they should switch their internet provider and phone service to companies who do not violate the Constitution and spy on their customers? If you want to hit the Telcoms go after their customers instead of concerning yourself with civil litigation that has little chance of success.

If this FISA bill ends warrantless wiretapping and improves however slightly on the current situation I can see no legitimate reason for attacking Barack Obama for not throwing his body on the tracks in front of a train that has already left the station. This bill will pass regardless of Obama's vote and while I can agree with Leahy and Feingold that it isn't enough I cannot see their alternative to the situation as described by Feinstein. What I see here from opponents is a lot of self-righteous indignation from folks who cannot specifically point to a single section of the bill that makes things worse than they are.

Finally, the FISA vote has been delayed and Senator Dodd will offer an amendment to strip the provision on Telcom immunity. That is the proper way to address provisions in this bill that are onerous to those who oppose it. So we have to ask ourselves why there are not additional amendments that seek to change language of other provisions in the bill? Perhaps Obama is right. Maybe there are no other provisions that require rewording to be acceptable to even the most vocal of the FISA opponents in the Senate. I would be quite happy to see the immunity removed regardless of whether Keith Olbermann and John Dean are correct and we might be better off with flawed language leaving an opening. The only way this delay is bad for us is if some of us continue to use FISA as a way to weaken the Obama candidacy.

Please allow our candidate to concentrate on winning by the largest possible margin and leave the FISA wrangling to Dodd and Feingold. Be willing to admit that other than a deciding vote on the bill or the amendment Obama's stand on FISA is not as important as his election to the Presidency. I find it odd that Kossacks can say his vote is a deciding factor in their support while denying that his vote may have an impact on the support of other Americans that are more concerned with security from attack than the constitutionality of the FISA provisions. How can you believe one is true and the other false?

On that basis to reduce your support and effort to elect Barack Obama and thus to improve the chances of Bush III McSame is just plain STUPID.

Jun 24, 2008

Things We Lost in the FISA Fire

Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 10:26:25 AM EST

I started thinking about FISA from a different perspective after reading and writing so much about it over the weekend. Here is my attempt to look at the possible results of the FISA legislation as a practical application .

Reasonable people can disagree but I find the broad hyperbole over the recent amendment to FISA legislation to be quite unreasonable at times.

Yesterday I tried to engage the Kos Community in a serious debate over the specific language in the FISA Bill - OBAMA WAS RIGHT ON FISA The debate generated quite a bit of reasonable discussion accompanied by some ranting about how Obama has sold out the Constitution for political expediency from folks who could not point to any wording in the actual bill to substantiate their claims.

The "throw Obama under the bus" group had little desire to engage in a discussion based on the language of the bill. It's easier to get all self righteous about the issue based on the ACLU or Glenn Greenwald than it is to study the actual language and be specific about your objection. Some of it seems like the NRA "protecting" their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

But this diary is about taking a look at the FISA legislation from another angle that does not involve study of the language of the bill.

This is about the practical application of the FISA legislation and the possible results, trying to find examples of how it might be used to see where it leads. What are your worst fears about how this legislation could possibly be used against us?

This FISA amendment is about electronic and oral communication via computer and telephone mainly international and to and from the United States. It is supposed to be about protecting us from plots against Americans by uncovering evidence of these plots before they occur.

So what if you know every email and telephone call sent and received across the United States borders was subject to surveillance? What if we decided that expecting these communications to be private was unreasonable given what we know?

Ridiculous you say??? Well not so fast.
I want to explore what we lose if we simply consider all email and international telephone conversations to be insecure as I always have.

Ultimately FISA is about rooting out plots against us and we don't want to give up any real freedom from intrusion in the process so let us take a long look at the reality of how this bill is implemented in practice to see what we have lost.

How many communications fall under the scope of this FISA legislation?
Does anyone doubt that the numbers of international communications using email or telephone number in the millions a day?

Electronic communication comes in the form of email, usenet groups, message board websites, chatrooms, and forums like this one any of which could be used by a group targeted by FISA. The sheer volume of these communications is enormous. It is speculated that certain groups use a hide in plain sight method of communication by going to libraries or internet cafes where they log on to some obscure interest group website like orchid growers or or an ancestry surname group and post messages in code as a part of their planning. With the advent and massive expansion of the Internet there are thousands of such groups and millions of websites and forums or chat rooms where groups seeking to do harm can communicate.
Start a weblog on blogger for free and add a haloscan comment section for free and you have a site where your group can go and communicate through the comment section 24/7 that is hidden in plain sight. Of all forms of communication some of these obviously have no expectation of privacy other than the use of a screen name that conceals true identity.

According to recent statistics from blog-tracking site Technorati, the blogosphere has doubled every six months for the last three years. That's 175,000 new blogs per day worldwide. Technorati added its 50 millionth blog on July 31, 2006. On average, there are 1.6 million posts per day, or 18.6 posts per second. An April, 2008 USA Today article cites ComScore Media Metrix figures for February, 2008:
Microsoft webmail properties: 256.2 million users
Yahoo: 254.6 million users
Google: 91.6 million users
AOL webmail properties: 48.9 million users
In February, 2008, a Yahoo executive claimed the company served 260 million email users.
In October, 2007, an official Yahoo! blog cited statistics suggesting Yahoo represented 255 million of the world's 543 million webmail accounts.

In 2001 it was estimated that there were 180 million cell phones in use in the USA. By 2007 it is estimated that there are 3.3 billion users worldwide and there are 2.6 text messages per day per user for 7 billion text messages per day. If only 10% of that traffic involves the USA it is a whopping 700 million text messages a day. Now prepaid cellular phones are available for purchase on every city street corner without any information available as to the user

Looking at this data it is impossible to conceive how any FISA type program can significantly impact the privacy and freedom of American citizens. How many thousands of people would have to be employed to screen our communications if there were no restrictions on listening in on oral or reading electronic communications? Do we feel relatively private in our communications because we don't think the government can listen as a matter of law or do we feel relatively secure in communicating because of the absurdly large number of communications that are taking place every minute of every day?

Some folks here are worried about an assault on our expectation of privacy from 'unreasonable' access to our cell phone or computer communications. Now I live a rather uneventful life and I can't imagine being upset if some computer somewhere was monitoring every communication I make looking for key words that might prompt a human to review because I am not involved in anything that I think anyone would find interesting. And if I were to become involved in discussing anything I would suspect might cause concern I would find a way to do it that would confound any FISA attempt to know it.

You do know that it is very easy to clone a cell phone don't you? You do know that it is quite easy to hack a computer and view your email don't you?
It amazes me that people actually think their email and cellular communications are secure in the first place. Now if you have sufficient reason there are plenty of ways to try to secure your communications. But cell phones are as a rule a very insecure means of communication. Even some cell phone spying services leak the data they obtain. There is no easy way to fix cell phones to make them secure. It is best to use prepaid throw away phones and change them often. On the other hand there are plenty of programs available to encrypt email so it can only be read by someone with the encryption decoding program.

So what if we as a country decided that unencrypted email and cellular telephones were not covered under the 4th Amendment and there was no right to privacy for this type of communication? What would we lose?

I can't think of anything that would be lost because I don't think the expectation of security or privacy exists for those communication tools. We are more or less secure from unreasonable monitoring because of the sheer number of these communications - not because of a law or the Constitution.
We know these things are not secure from hackers and it may well be that agencies in our government or other governments intercept these communications and run them through computers trying to find the proverbial needle in a stack of needles. My reaction is - good luck with that because you won't find anything with my email or phone calls. What is more of a concern is having my identity stolen or my screen identity stolen and used by some terrorist cell implicating me in something nefarious in which I have no involvement.

So what are we losing in this FISA fire by bashing Obama for failure to protect our rights to a privacy that only exists in our dreams? If you want private email - encrypt it. If you want private cellular communication buy prepaid throwaway cell phones and change them often. But don't blame this FISA bill for "POTENTIALLY" taking away a privacy that you don't really have. The privacy that is available comes from the massive number of communications and this FISA law may have surveillance loopholes but it cannot make a dent in the tsunami of messages. The real protection or problem for intelligence gatherers is in the numbers.

We seem to be fighting over the figment of some imaginations about a privacy/security that does not truly exist. The ACLU has an agenda and seems to be behaving in a manner suggestive of the NRA's protection of the 2nd Amendment. The FISA bill doesn't make me feel more secure or more vulnerable to surveillance. I have very little objection to it's language. It certainly does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for electing Barack Obama over John McCain.

Stop for just a minute and consider the real impact of this FISA legislation. Is it really worth it to condemn Barack Obama for his stance on this bill? Do you sound like an NRA lawyer protecting the 2nd Amendment when you argue that this bill destroys the 4th Amendment? I want to be secure in my home and my person but I'm not as concerned about my voice or electronic data once it leaves my body and and my home and becomes a tiny part of the massive flood of communication away from me. I think it is unreasonable to assume that it is secure once it has left me. Can someone convince me that I am giving up something by that thought? We need Barack Obama not some hollow indignation over the loss of something that is not truly lost.

Jun 22, 2008


Sun Jun 22, 2008 at 04:24:39 AM EST


before you make a final decision about Barack Obama and his decision on the FISA Bill. I want the input of those who agree and criticism of those who disagree with my assessment.

SERIOUSLY - Have you really studied the FISA changes that have so many of us upset?
You can read IT HERE

Then look very carefully at this below the fold.

‘‘(a) AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon the issuance of an order in accordance with subsection (i)(3) or a determination under subsection (c)(2), the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.
‘‘(b) LIMITATIONS.—An acquisition authorized under subsection (a)—
‘‘(1) may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States;
‘‘(2) may not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States if the purpose of such acquisition is to target a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States;
‘‘(3) may not intentionally target a United States person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States;
‘‘(4) may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States; and
‘‘(5) shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Take the last provision first

"shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States". That rules out anything that violates the 4th Amendment of the Constitution so I must agree that Speaker Pelosi is correct.

But the ACLU says it is unconstitutional - and I would like to figure out why.
Here are the LIMITATIONS - listed above from section 702
1)You can't target anyone inside the USA
2)You can't target a person outside the USA to get to one inside the USA
3)You can't target a US person outside the USA
4)You can't acquire communication where sender and recipients are in the USA
Those limitations apply to all data acquisition that can be obtained without a court order.

Down in Sections 703 and 704 there is a provision for seeking electronic data from a US Person who in no longer in the United States but that data search must be accompanied by a court order made by a judge. (see pages 34 -40)

So that's it
This is about foreign nationals on foreign soil
and they are NOT protected by the Constitution of the USA outside the USA
So where is the violation of the 4th Amendment in this law?

Or in the case of sections 703 and 704 it is about US persons outside the USA with court orders required as provided in the Constitution. So where is the 4th Amendment violation in this law?

I have spent hours reading the objections to this bill on this website and I have carefully read the ACLU'S position and it's general condemnation of anything that might be construed to curtail a "freedom" without any practical examples of how this act can harm average Americans.
Some here say "The ACLU says it's unconstitutional so that's good enough for me". This characterization by a member of the ACLU ""This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications." seems to be totally wrong given that it only applies to foreign nationals except for the 703 and 704 provisions for US Persons not in the USA. The language in those section seems to be very restrictive and it requires a court order in compliance with The Constitution.

Now this is the 4th Amendment we are all so keen to protect that I believe in strongly and completely

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The provisions in this FISA rewrite provide for probable cause, oath and affirmation, and a court order specifically for electronic data and/or oral communication.
The men who wrote the Constitution had no way of seeing this future where our communication is worldwide and instantaneous. The telephone itself was 80 years away from invention by Charles Bourseul, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, or Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray in the 1870's some 30 years after the telegraph. Private telephone lines have only been widely available in the past 60 after area codes were introduced in 1946.
So when did these private line telephone conversations become protected by the US Constitution? Well they didn't - that protection was added and applied by the congress through additions to the US Code and the courts through precedent applied as part of the 4th amendment protection. The United States Code Title 18 Chapter 119 WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND INTERCEPTION OF ORAL COMMUNICATIONS lays out the law concerning domestic interstate electronic and oral communications. These laws were amended as recently as 2006 with H.R. 4709 [109th]: Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006 This and many other additions and modifications of the law have been made by Congress without amending the Constitution to do so.
The question at hand is whether or not some foreign national who is caught planning an attack against the USA can claim a violation of constitutional rights if the interception of his telephone call leads to his arrest and the end of a deadly threat.
Some of you are ready to throw Barack Obama under the bus because you believe he has capitulated to a violated the sacred rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States by his decision to not object to this bill. As a matter of law there have been cases in the past that set a precedent ruling that private telephone conversations are protected, but that protection didn't come from the founding fathers and it does not apply to foreign nationals so I believe it is time to give Barack a break.
After reading all of these laws and all of the objections and complaints here on Daily Kos I have come to the following conclusion:
WTF - why is everyone in such a twist over this narrow specific exclusion of foreign nationals on foreign soil whose telephone conversations can be monitored for an expressly limited period of time on the approval of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence who must authorize jointly?
This is not extraordinary rendition or endless incarceration at Gitmo. This is the interception of oral or electronic communications that just may lead to the exposure of a plot to kill Americans.
I've got to say I was confused by all of the constitutional violation talk. I thought that Barack had jumped the shark and veered off into a position that was untenable and injurious to his Presidential ambitions and the best interests of the United States. But after careful consideration of the narrow scope of this language limiting the Attorney General and Director of Intelligence to application of this measure to foreign nationals on foreign soil in a manner consistent with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States; I am inclined to agree with Barack Obama. I am relieved that I can in good conscience take that stand.

I am not covering the provisions immunizing the Telcom providers in this diary but I will later. I am not for blanket immunity for anyone but I find it difficult to make Verizon liable for providing records when requested by the Attorney General and the Director of Intelligence for a foreign national or for a United States person who is abroad when there is a court order signed by a judge.

Barack Obama is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law and was President of the Harvard Law Review. Barack Obama taught CONSTITUTIONAL LAW at the University of Chicago Law School so it seems to me that his take on the constitutionality of the FISA rewrite should carry some significant weight.
I believe that the new language is a significant improvement. I believe the Constitution is fully protected particularly with Obama's attorney General and Director of Intelligence at the head. I am not concerned with making Verizon liable for civil suits for complying with requests from the Attorney General and Director of Intelligence under Bush 's version of FISA because I feel that Bush and his cronies should be held responsible.
I am not a Constitutional Law expert so my assessment of this FISA amendment may be flawed but I have taken the time to read every word carefully so I might make an informed judgment on my own. If anyone can show me where I have missed the part where this allows mass untargeted surveillance of Americans as claimed by the ACLU I would appreciate it.

Thank you for participating.

UPDATE: Before this disappears into oblivion for a lack of recs I would like to thank everyone who participated in the spirited and detailed debate over this subject - particularly beijingbetty who took the time to read the bill and offer specific objections and maryb2004, dvogel001, and everyone else who took the time to go over this in detail. I knew that my point of view would not be very popular in some quarters but I still believe we need to work without pause to elect Barack Obama and that his stance on these amendments are not the sellout that some would have us believe. Thank you all for your assistance in making this a good debate.

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT COMMENT BY BEIJINGBETTY from the comments on my diary at Daily Kos

First of all, I commend you on your diary. You asked some great questions, and I think you are coming from a good place in doing so.

But I don't think section 702 is the concern. I think it's the later sections -- and the exceptions that are spelled out that are worrisome.


(a) JOINT APPLICATIONS AND ORDERS.—If an acquisition targeting a United States person under section 703 or 704 is proposed to be conducted both inside and outside the United States, a judge having jurisdiction under section 703(a)(1) or 704(a)(1) may issue simultaneously, upon the request of the Government in a joint application complying with the requirements of sections 703(b) and 704(b), orders under sections 703(c) and 704(c), as appropriate.

(b) CONCURRENT AUTHORIZATION.—If an order authorizing electronic surveillance or physical search has been obtained under section 105 or 304, the Attorney General may authorize, for the effective period of that order, without an order under section 703 or 704, the targeting of that United States person for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence information while such person is reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.

You are correct that Sections 703 and 704 require FISA review of a request for wiretapping of US citizens. But sections 105 and 304 provide loopholes -- they expand the emergency powers of the AG -- apparently, as determined by the AG.

105 and 304 are worded very similarly. Here's the citation from 304:

(b) ORDERS.—Section 304 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1824) is amended—
(2) by amending subsection (e) to read as follows:

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of a physical search if the Attorney General—

(A) reasonably determines that an emergency situation exists with respect to the employment of a physical search to obtain foreign intelligence information before an order authorizing such physical search can with due diligence be obtained;

(B) reasonably determines that the factual basis for issuance of an order under this title to approve such physical search exists;

(C) informs, either personally or through a designee, a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the time of such authorization that the decision has been made to employ an emergency physical search; and

(D) makes an application in accordance with this title to a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as soon as practicable, but not more 8
than 7 days after the Attorney General authorizes such physical search.

So the AG needs to inform FISA of the target. But what happens if FISA denies the application?

(5) In the event that such application for approval is denied, or in any other case where the physical search is terminated and no order is issued approving the physical search, no information obtained or evidence derived from such physical search shall be received in evidence or otherwise disclosed in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, office, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United States, a State, or political subdivision thereof, and no information concerning any United States person acquired from such physical search shall subsequently be used or disclosed in any other manner by Federal officers or employees without the consent of such person, except with the approval of the Attorney General if the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

While that language is worded to sound as if it protects Americans from the misuse of the information illegally collected on them, it also prevents us from having any legal recourse.

The entire search becomes a secret process, determined as needed by the AG, with limited oversight by FISA, and there is no way within the wording of this bill for you or I to know that it even happened.

Apparently, Even Barack Obama Thinks You're Stupid Hotlist

Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 10:45:08 AM EST

We'll include Barack Obama in the mix of politicians that apparently think all you who were following the FISA debates are as dumb as day-old pill bugs, and it's depressing as hell to have to do so. He may be the Democratic nominee, but he can still write a milquetoast, self-congratulatory justification for choosing the easy way out with the best of them.

You know, I don't mind politicians not agreeing with me much of the time. Or most of the time. And at this point, I'm more than used to various parts of our Constitution being considered strictly optional, and being given away like beads at Mardi Gras.

But it does grate, immeasurably, when they feed us bull and tell us it's candy. I had hoped that, given the length of time it took Obama to come up with a statement, they were going to come up with something substantive. Instead, it appears they were using that time to come up with an assortment of logic-insulting bunk.

[...] Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over.

No. It will not be "over", it will just be made retroactively legal so that it can continue. I suppose technically the "illegal" part of it will be over, so it isn't technically the baldfaced lie it sounds like -- so kudos for bending the language like Beckham, but that's not really what most people would consider that phrase to mean.

It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

No, it really doesn't. Because FISA never went away -- it doesn't need "restoring". FISA is FISA. It was FISA, it is FISA. The only reason FISA would need "restoring" is if we are all willing to accept that it had been invalidated entirely by the president's actions -- that the president was not only able to simply break the law, but managed to erase it from the books entirely on his own say-so.

That's absurd. That's asinine. A law does not need "restoring" when it is violated, it needs enforcing. And given that the Democrats have latched onto a piece of legislation designed explicitly to prevent that from ever happening in any meaningful way, there is nothing to be the slightest bit proud of. It is complete acceptance of an illegal program, dressed up as hard-fought victory, and by God the Democrats responsible for it and voting for it, Obama included, naturally presume that if they type up some lovely-sounding bullcrap about it, they'll be able to pretend it is something other than strategically planned and executed cowardice in the face of lawbreaking.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. [...]

The glowing embrace of the right-wing and administration logic used to foist corporate immunity to lawbreaking upon us: President Bush is so terribly put upon that he cannot possibly follow existing law in conducting espionage against American citizens, and nobody should expect him to, so we must urgently change the law.

But FISA was not expiring. FISA was not falling into a legislative black hole. It continued to exist, as the exclusive means for electronic surveillance of the American people, and all it required was a warrant, and all the warrant required was probable cause. That's it. That's what this entire, months-long parade of panic, bluster and torn hair has been about, that it was just too damn difficult for the administration to be asked to show two sentences of probable cause to a judge in a secret hearing before collecting whatever electronic information about you, your neighbors, your family, your friends, everyone in your town, everyone in your social organizations, everyone in every restaurant you've ever been to, etc., etc., etc. they wanted to collect.

And if you object to it, then even Barack Obama will hold the threat of imminent Terror over your head as justification for why we should ignore past violations of Constitutional rights and declare a massive, flag-waving, star-spangled do over that simply declares there's no more problem.

Oh, but don't worry. The Bush administration is charged with coming up with a "thorough review" of what the Bush administration did, in order to tell us all about whether or not they did anything wrong. Yes, let's all stand in awe that, after all that has happened the last seven years, there are still entire collections of Democrats who think that having the administration investigate itself will solve the problem. I'm not sure whether to laugh, to cry, or to simply throw my hands up at the whole thing.

I'm not sure which frightens me more, the thought that the people leading my nation could be so damn gullible, or the thought that they aren't -- but they're counting on us to be. If the Democrats are going to be so fired up about demanding that they be allowed cave on basic protections, lest the Republicans treat them cruelly in future elections, they could at least have the decency to not insult our intelligence while they're doing it.

That is my primary objection, here. Democrats: if you're going to cave, just cave. Don't draft up flagrantly insulting talking points that pretend you've gotten something in return -- you haven't. You haven't gotten squat, except for the knowledge that the illegal is now legal, that past illegalities will be swept under the rug, and that future illegalities will be met with no action more substantive than a few harshly worded reports.

We all know how much money the telecommunications companies spent "lobbying" you for this legislation; fine. So just come out and say it -- you can't piss off corporate contributors that are that important, so the Fourth Amendment can go suck eggs. We all know you don't have any confidence you can both stand up for the rule of law and get reelected in the face of conservative demands that our laws be considered obsolete in the face of our own pants-wetting fear; fine. So just say that, and quit painting us as rubes who won't know any better if you shove a few noble-sounding sentences our way.

It's beyond insulting.

Glenn Greenwald

Obama's support for the FISA "compromise"

(updated below)

In the past 24 hours, specifically beginning with the moment Barack Obama announced that he now supports the Cheney/Rockefeller/Hoyer House bill, there have magically arisen -- in places where one would never have expected to find them -- all sorts of claims about why this FISA "compromise" isn't really so bad after all. People who spent the week railing against Steny Hoyer as an evil, craven enabler of the Bush administration -- or who spent the last several months identically railing against Jay Rockefeller -- suddenly changed their minds completely when Barack Obama announced that he would do the same thing as they did. What had been a vicious assault on our Constitution, and corrupt complicity to conceal Bush lawbreaking, magically and instantaneously transformed into a perfectly understandable position, even a shrewd and commendable decision, that we should not only accept, but be grateful for as undertaken by Obama for our Own Good.

Accompanying those claims are a whole array of factually false statements about the bill, deployed in service of defending Obama's indefensible -- and deeply unprincipled -- support for this "compromise." Numerous individuals stepped forward to assure us that there was only one small bad part of this bill -- the part which immunizes lawbreaking telecoms -- and since Obama says that he opposes that part, there is no basis for criticizing him for what he did. Besides, even if Obama decided to support an imperfect bill, it's our duty to refrain from voicing any criticism of him, because the Only Thing That Matters is that Barack Obama be put in the Oval Office, and we must do anything and everything -- including remain silent when he embraces a full-scale assault on the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law -- because every goal is now subordinate to electing Barack Obama our new Leader.

It is absolutely false that the only unconstitutional and destructive provision of this "compromise" bill is the telecom amnesty part. It's true that most people working to defeat the Cheney/Rockefeller bill viewed opposition to telecom amnesty as the most politically potent way to defeat the bill, but the bill's expansion of warrantless eavesdropping powers vested in the President, and its evisceration of safeguards against abuses of those powers, is at least as long-lasting and destructive as the telecom amnesty provisions. The bill legalizes many of the warrantless eavesdropping activities George Bush secretly and illegally ordered in 2001. Those warrantless eavesdropping powers violate core Fourth Amendment protections. And Barack Obama now supports all of it, and will vote it into law. Those are just facts.

The ACLU specifically identifies the ways in which this bill destroys meaningful limits on the President's power to spy on our international calls and emails. Sen. Russ Feingold condemned the bill on the ground that it "fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home" because "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." Rep. Rush Holt -- who was actually denied time to speak by bill-supporter Silvestre Reyes only to be given time by bill-opponent John Conyers -- condemned the bill because it vests the power to decide who are the "bad guys" in the very people who do the spying.

This bill doesn't legalize every part of Bush's illegal warrantless eavesdropping program but it takes a large step beyond FISA towards what Bush did. There was absolutely no reason to destroy the FISA framework, which is already an extraordinarily pro-Executive instrument that vests vast eavesdropping powers in the President, in order to empower the President to spy on large parts of our international communications with no warrants at all. This was all done by invoking the scary spectre of Terrorism -- "you must give up your privacy and constitutional rights to us if you want us to keep you safe" -- and it is Obama's willingness to embrace that rancid framework, the defining mindset of the Bush years, that is most deserving of intense criticism here.

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Last night, Greg Sargent wrote that the most infuriating aspect of what Obama did here "is that since the outset of the campaign he's seemed absolutely dead serious about changing the way foreign policy is discussed and argued about in this country"; that Obama's "candidacy has long seemed to embody a conviction that Democrats can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- that if Dems stick to a set of core principles, and forcefully argue for them without blinking, they can and will persuade people that, simply put, they are right and Republicans are wrong"; and that "this time, he abandoned that premise," even though:

if there were ever anything that would have tested his operating premise throughout this campaign -- that you can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- it was this legislation. If ever there were anything that deserved to test this premise, it was this legislation.
This superb piece from The Technology Liberation Front makes the same argument:
We are, in other words, right back to the narrative where being "strong" on national security means trashing the constitution. . . . . This is doubly disappointing because until now Obama has been a master at re-framing national security debates to get out of this box. Unlike John Kerry, he has refused to shy away from a confrontational posture on foreign policy issues. He's shown a willingness to say he has a better foreign policy vision, rather than simply insisting he can be just as tough on the terrorists as the Republicans are. He could and should have done the same with FISA, taking the opportunity to explain why warrantless surveillance isn't necessary to protect us from the terrorists. But it seems he, along with Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid, chickened out. So it's back to Republicans being tough on national security and Democrats defensively insisting that they, too, hate terrorists more than they love the constitution.
It's either that he "chickened out" or -- as Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin asserts and Digby wonders -- Obama believes he will be President and wants these extreme powers for himself, no doubt, he believes, because he'll exercise them magnanimously, for our Own Good. Whatever the motives -- and I don't know (or much care) what they are -- Obama has embraced a bill that is not only redolent of many of the excesses of Bush's executive power theories and surveillance state expansions, but worse, has done so by embracing the underlying rationale of "Be-scared-and-give-up-your-rights." Note that the very first line of Obama's statement warns us that we face what he calls "grave threats," and that therefore, we must accept that our Leader needs more unlimited power, and the best we can do is trust that he will use it for our Good.

Making matters worse still, what Obama did yesterday is in clear tension with an emphatic promise that he made just months ago. As the extremely pro-Obama MoveOn.org notes today, Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, back in in September, vowed that Obama would "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." MoveOn believes Obama should be held to his word and is thus conducting a campaign urging Obama to do what he promised -- support a filibuster to stop the enactment of telecom amnesty. You can email Burton here to demand that Obama comply with his commitment not just to vote against, but to filibuster, telecom amnesty:

Incidentally, Chris Dodd made an identical promise when he was running for President, prompting the support of hundreds of thousands of new contributors, and he ought to be held to his promise as well.

* * * * *

The excuse that Obama's support for this bill is politically shrewd is -- even if accurate -- neither a defense of what he did nor a reason to refrain from loudly criticizing him for it. Actually, it's the opposite. It's precisely because Obama is calculating that he can -- without real consequence -- trample upon the political values of those who believe in the Constitution and the rule of law that it's necessary to do what one can to change that calculus. Telling Obama that you'll cheer for him no matter what he does, that you'll vest in him Blind Faith that anything he does is done with the purest of motives, ensures that he will continue to ignore you and your political interests.

Beyond that, this attitude that we should uncritically support Obama in everything he does and refrain from criticizing him is unhealthy in the extreme. No political leader merits uncritical devotion -- neither when they are running for office nor when they occupy it -- and there are few things more dangerous than announcing that you so deeply believe in the Core Goodness of a political leader, or that we face such extreme political crises that you trust and support whatever your Leader does, even when you don't understand it or think that it's wrong. That's precisely the warped authoritarian mindset that defined the Bush Movement and led to the insanity of the post-9/11 Era, and that uncritical reverence is no more attractive or healthy when it's shifted to a new Leader.

What Barack Obama did here was wrong and destructive. He's supporting a bill that is a full-scale assault on our Constitution and an endorsement of the premise that our laws can be broken by the political and corporate elite whenever the scary specter of The Terrorists can be invoked to justify it. What's more, as a Constitutional Law Professor, he knows full well what a radical perversion of our Constitution this bill is, and yet he's supporting it anyway. Anyone who sugarcoats or justifies that is doing a real disservice to their claimed political values and to the truth.

The excuse that we must sit by quietly and allow him to do these things with no opposition so that he can win is itself a corrupted and self-destructive mentality. That mindset has no end. Once he's elected, it will transform into: "It's vital that Obama keeps his majority in Congress so you have to keep quiet until after the 2010 midterms," after which it will be: "It's vital that Obama is re-elected so you have to keep quiet until after 2012," at which point the process will repeat itself from the first step. Quite plainly, those are excuses to justify mindless devotion, not genuine political strategies.

Having said all of that, the other extreme -- declaring that Obama is now Evil Incarnate, no better than John McCain, etc. etc. -- is no better. Obama is a politician running for political office, driven by all the standard, pedestrian impulses of most other people who seek and crave political power. It's nothing more or less than that, and it is just as imperative today as it was yesterday that the sickly right-wing faction be permanently removed from power and that there is never any such thing as the John McCain Administration (as one commenter ironically noted yesterday, at the very least, Obama is far more likely to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will rule that the bill Obama supports is patently unconstitutional). The commenter sysprog described perfectly the irrational excesses of both extremes the other day:


Why are so many four-year-olds and fourteen-year-olds making comments on blogs?

Four-year-olds see their preferred politicians as god-like fathers (or mothers) whose virtuous character will guarantee good judgment. If a judgment looks questionable to you, then it's because you don't know all the facts that mommy and daddy know, or it's because you aren't as wise as them.

Fourteen-year-olds have had their illusions shattered about those devilish politicians so now they perceive the TRUTH - - that mommy and daddy make bad judgments because mommy and daddy are utterly corrupt.

Personally, I can empathize with the impulses behind the latter far more than the former, even while recognizing that they both must be diligently avoided. It's understandable that there is a substantial sense of anger and betrayal towards Obama as a result of what he did yesterday, particularly among those who previously viewed him as something transcendent and "different." Quoting Shakespeare is always slightly pompous (at least) but -- with apologies in advance -- his observation in Sonnet 94 is too apropos here to refrain:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

If there is one good thing that can come from this week's horrific embrace by Obama and our bipartisan political establishment of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, perhaps it will be that the illusions of "lily-ness" about Barack Obama can finally fade away and be replaced by a more realistic perception of what he is, what his limits are, and the reasons why he merits real scrutiny, criticism and checks -- like everyone else pursuing political power does. Recall that the very first thing that he did upon securing the nomination was run to AIPAC to prostrate himself before them and swear undying fealty to their militant pieties. There will be plenty more of these sorts of ugly rituals to come. Whether you think he is engaging in them out of justifiable political calculation or some barren quest for power doesn't much matter.

Either way, no good comes from lending uncritical support to a political leader, or cheering them on when they do bad and destructive things, or using twisted rationalizations to justify their full-scale assault on your core political values. The overriding lesson of the last seven years is that political figures, more than they need anything else, need checks and limits. That is just as important to keep in mind -- probably more so -- when you love or revere a political leader as it is when you detest one.

* * * * *

The campaign against politicians who are enabling this assault on our Constitutional framework, core civil liberties and the rule of law has now raised close to $300,000. My explanation about the current plans for these funds, in response to a commenter's inquiries, can be read here. Contributions to that campaign can be made here.

UPDATE: In comments, Hume's Ghost wrote:

What really rubbed me the wrong way was how Obama in his statement says essentially trust me with these powers, I'll use them responsibly.


"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." - John Adams [1772].

In 1799, Thomas Jefferson echoed that: "Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence . . . . Let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitutions." Between (a) relying on the limitations imposed by the Constitution or (b) placing faith in the promises of a political leader not to abuse his unchecked power, it isn't really a difficult choice -- at least it ought not to be, no matter who the political leader in question happens to be.

Jun 18, 2008

God's other son Ge0rge - What would Dr. Gonzo Say?

Five years ago this week our mindless leader Ge0rge was in the Middle East meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas - five years of bizarre epic failure marked by a rapid downward spiral into the depths of squandered opportunity and rampant theft by the Oil and Defense industry. Ge0rge combines the worst aspects of Hoover, Nixon, Agnew, and Harding all aided by the nefarious shotgun wielding Darth Cheney aided by Rupert Chancellor Palpatine Murdoch and his clone army at Faux Noise. This week in 2003 marked the beginning of Bush's Bataan Death March into Presidential Ignominy. It all evidently started with what Bush believed was a personal audience with GOD at least that's what emerges from the barely intelligible gibberish confirmed by Abbas.

GeOrge with Abbas
Abbas emphasized that at that stage he made clear to the participants at the Sharm summit that "we need time and capabilities to stand on our feet. And he explained that he had already spoken with Ariel Sharon about reaching a hudna between all the Palestinian factions." According to Abbas, "Bush exploded with anger

Abbas then outlined the political contacts during the Aqaba summit and said he added the prisoner issue at the three-way session with Bush and Sharon. "I told them the prisons are the election district for a campaign of calm in the Palestinian territories." He said Bush then turned to Sharon "with the following words, `look what you can profit from this, that holding onto the prisoners only creates tension.'"
Holding prisoners only creates tension? Tell them about it at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and the other dozen hidden torture camps and ships in the worst shitholes on the planet GeOrge. Most of these guys were no threat prior to your plan of torture but you've insured their hatred for America forever. You have created an army of angry Arabs with legitimate grievances who found themselves Renditioned and raped.



Palestinian Premier Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans. He was speaking with factions of the PLO in a post Aqaba meeting.

According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." (See quote in the last paragraph of the HAARETZ article)

And, in what form do you suppose these messages from God come, anyway? Stone tablets? Vivid dreams? Memos from Karl Rove's office? Or perhaps a burning BUSH? Illustration inspiration from Hullabaloo

Could it be that George Walker Bush is a present day William Jennings Bryan/Matthew Harrison Brady? Harken back to the Scopes Trial in Dayton Tennessee where the teaching of EVILoution was on trial and the famous populist Bryan came to defend the Holy Bible and the Creationists. In the movie starring Spencer Tracy as Clarence Darrow, Matthew Harrison Brady is called to the stand as an expert on all things Biblical. "So God speaks to Brady and Brady tells the world" thunders Darrow "Is that the way of it then?" "Perhaps we should have the book of Brady." "We can hex the Pentateuch and slip it in nicely between Numbers and Deuteronomy" "Brady, Brady, Brady, Almighty" Substitute Bush for Brady and forget about Weapons of Mass Destruction and cast a cold clear gaze on this Weapon of Self Delusion.

At the time I found it so difficult to believe that Ge0rge would say that GOD told him to attack Iraq in June 2003 I sent an e-mail to Arnon Regular about the quote in his story for HAARETZ

This is his reply via e-mail:

Dear Barry
The protocols are the official protocols of meetings held last week between mr. Abbas and the Palestinian fractions in Gaza. Mr. Abbas speech on GWB was his statement on GWB. no more and no less. its not a proof that Mr. Bush said it but its definite proof that Mr. Abbas said that he said it because the protocols are confirmed from his side and the fractions side. There is no question about what Mr. Abbas said and I have not seen any denial by Bush or his people.
Arnon Regular HAARETZ

There is little doubt that Ge0rge made the statement to Abbas that he was carrying out the will of GOD as he was told.

So with all of the power of the American Military, and all of the power of $529,224,913,119 and operating under direct instructions as personally delivered by Almighty GOD, we find ourselves in worse shape than we were five years ago. Osama Bin Laden is still at large. There are some 140,000 troops still in Iraq. And because the money for the war is being borrowed, interest payments could add another $615 billion. A heavily depleted military will have to be rebuilt at a cost of $280 billion. Disability benefits and health care for Iraq war veterans, many of them severely injured, could add another half-trillion dollars over their lifetime.

Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University public finance Professor Laura Bilmes, both of whom served in the Clinton administration, have included those calculations in a new study of the war's long-term costs. Their estimate of the war's price tag: $3 trillion.

5 years later we find that the world's most powerful military and 3 Trillion dollars along with direct instructions from God Almighty have failed - an EPIC FAILURE if ever one existed. Now we know that John McCain wants to continue with risking the lives of thousands of our young people for 100 years if required and billions more of our dollars. Thus far we haven't heard if this is the will of GOD as expressed to John McCain

But John seems to be the annointed relief for the man who speaks directly to the Deity. J0hn and Ge0rge
Obama has his Reverend Wright but J0hn has a close relationship to the guy who has a direct line. I'm sure God must have told Ge0rge to tell Jeb and Kathryn Harris to purge those 20,000 mostly African American voters from the Florida voting lists using the premise that it's better to deny a few thousand voters their rights than to risk a vote by a felon. No doubt HE instructed Ge0rge insure his re-election through control of black box Diebold voting computers in 2004. Five years later we may be facing another act of God on behalf of J0hn McSame.
We must remain extremely cautious this year with the full realization that our opponents feel they have some holy right to the "throne". These are not honorable rational political foes my friends. The Evil powers behind Bush and McSame may be piping voices directly into Bush's brain. The rich and powerful have control of the entire alphabet soup of agencies and virtually unlimited funding and spying technology. They stole one election for certain and possibly a second. Why should they stop? Nobody seems to have the will required to try any of them for their many crimes.

We should have Hunter Thompson to put this bizarre weirdness in some kind of context and since he is missing we have no choice but to mine the archives of his work for clues to what he might say:

"We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel."

Seems like Ge0rge has cornered the market on the somebody or some force tending the light and all we can hope for there is some time tripper dropping a 100 hits of Mr. Natural Blotters in the punch at a Skull and Bones initiation ceremony.
Maybe this is closer:

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world--a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us...No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush?

They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us--they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them

"It is hard to ignore the prima facie dumbness that got us bogged down in this nasty war in the first place. This is not going to be like Daddy's War, old sport. He actually won, and he still got run out of the White House nine months later.. . The whole thing sucks. It was wrong from the start, and it is getting wronger by the hour. Love in a Time of War, March 31, 2003

Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President? -- Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail, 1973

You can't make this stuff up. Living the past eight years in the horror of this Bush political reality has made us all jaded and numb. Without the slice and dice journalism of Dr. Gonzo we are ill equipped to put our outrage into words.
Please give us your best HST quote or one of your own in the style of the good Doctor. I can understand why he chose to blow his mind out three years ago facing 4 more years of a Bush pResicency. Who can blame him. But we remain and some of us must go on so "Call on God, but row away from the rocks." and together we might get through the next five months and emerge from darkness into a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't a troop train.

In the meantime give us a quote to help us make it through the long dark nights between now and November. The forces of EVIL amassed against us behind the black gates of our American Modor are rich and powerful. They have already gutted the Constitution and they have shown the will to do whatever is required to maintain their power. We must refuse to be terrorized or afraid if we are to have any hope of taking our country back from the forces of darkness and evil.

Jun 16, 2008

Rush Limbaugh Attacks Black Katrina victims and praises Whites as the Floods hit.

Limbaugh: I want to know. I look at Iowa, I look at Illinois—I want to see the murders. I want to see the looting. I want to see all the stuff that happened in New Orleans. I see devastation in Iowa and Illinois that dwarfs what happened in New Orleans. I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property…I don’t see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don’t see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don’t see a bunch of people raping people on the street. I don’t see a bunch of people doing everything they can…whining and moaning—where’s FEMA, where’s BUSH. I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and when I look at Illinois, I see the backbone of America.

Thanks to a C&Ler that emailed me much of this post. Limbaugh is an arrogant ideologue that loves Howard Kurtz and hates the black victims of NOLA. Don’t you understand, it was all their fault for not escaping Hurricane Katrina! Wake, up! You drive by media fools. They were lazy, lazy people that deserved their fate. If only they were white and responsible. Just listen to this horrific rant as Limbaugh is all ‘agush‘ with admiration over the way in which Iowa and the Midwest has responded to the flood disaster that befell the area last week. But to just congratulate the residents in their determination and courage in fighting the disaster isn’t enough for the AM talk blow hard. Limbaugh could not pass up the opportunity to once again trot out his old, well known disdain for poor blacks in the south who were victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To hear Limbaugh describe it, Iowa is more American, more honorable … you know … more white than Louisiana.

audio_mp3 Download | Play

It would seem that the images of floating bodies, and documented stories of elderly New Orleans residents drowning in their attics is cold hard facts surrounding humans that Rush Limbaugh thinks could have benefited by just pulling themselves up by their bootstraps a little more. Nevermind that more than 1700 human beings lost their lives on live television as America watched in horror. You don’t hear progressives saying that Iowa is any less devastating because the death toll in those floods was a total of 5. It is still a tragedy. And progressives understand that full well.

But according to Rush the story of Iowa under water isn’t a story about humans over coming adversity. It’s a story about how much more patriotic the white bread basket is than the lazy south.

Jun 12, 2008

Why Does Rush Limbaugh Hate Will Bunch… and America?

Yet another example of the massive cognitive dissonance required to be a dittohead, courtesy of AttyTood:

To what do I owe the privilege? The backstory is interesting, but in a nutshell the right-wing blogosphere belatedly (as in nearly two months late) stumbled onto Sen. Barack Obama’s April visit to the Daily News, where I had the chance to ask him how an Obama administration might deal with White House internal discussions of torturing terror suspects, and other potential crimes in the Bush White House.

Here’s a short snippet of what I wrote on April 14:

Tonight I had an opportunity to ask Barack Obama a question that is on the minds of many Americans, yet rarely rises to the surface in the great ruckus of the 2008 presidential race — and that is whether an Obama administration would seek to prosecute officials of a former Bush administration on the revelations that they greenlighted torture, or for other potential crimes that took place in the White House.

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted — but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as “a partisan witch hunt.” However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because “nobody is above the law.”

[..]From there, the far-right blogosphere was off and running, working its way down the food chain until it burrowed into the muck of Limbaughland, who really seemed more worked up about insignificant little me – who became a “Stalinist” once the worked-up El Rushbo reached the end of his monologue — than about the Democrat poised to take over the White House :

After the administration’s left office, to pursue an investigation that might lead to criminal indictments for war crimes and other things. We used to do that to the Nazis. We did do that to the Nazis, the Nuremberg Trials and so forth. This is who today’s modern liberals are. Now, Obama’s got this wacko reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News who’s obviously not a reporter. He is a leftist who happens to have secured a job in journalism, and he’s got an agenda, and the agenda is right out of the cliched story line of the Drive-By Media, that we are a murderous, raping, torturing nation and that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell have to pay. This is all about creating the notion in as many people’s minds that our country is criminal, is in a constant state of decline, and we are not worth our reputation as the world’s greatest superpower.

Limbaugh concluded:

This would be a direct assault on the United States and its government. And you talk about we need to improve our reputation in the world. Look at how they would do it. By finding the US guilty at every opportunity of whatever baseless, phony charges that they would make. This is Stalinist. If you’ve ever wondered what the definition of is Stalinist, this would fit it.

Frankly, I think the political right, all the way up to the White House, doth protest too much on this whole “war crimes” issue; that is, they’re realizing the polls are showing the GOP may be shut out of power, and people desperately want to steer the conversation away from the things that were actually done the last 7 1/2 years, from authorizing torture to widespread spying on Americans. You’re going to see a lot of things in the next few months — some subtle, some blatant — seeking to shift the debate away from the horrors inside the House at 1600.

Tip to Crooks and Liars