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March 21, 2006



What should disturb any of us is not merely that your examples are by no means out of character for the Karl Roves of the world to do, but that the state of our politcal discourse is such that someone doing such nonsensical ads would not be laughed off the political stage.

Agree with DTM. In fact, despite my attempts to maintain some sort of rationality, I actually find scenario 3 to be particularly believable.

Remember, RNC ads are basicazlly to reassure the base. And as is somewhat obvious, the bases of either side aren't really interested in facts, just claims. It's just that the right seems to have a little larger piece of that pie right now.

Besides, innuendo and claims with no evidence worked fine for them in 2000 and 2004. Why should they change their course now?

There's really no limit to what you can justify using RNC logic.

Forget the RNC; Bush made much the same comments during his press conference this morning. And then NPR's Don Gonyea repeated them pretty much verbatim during his discussion of the press conference on Morning Edition. (What a worthless discussion too: "You just listened to the press conference. Now let us tell you what the president said during the press conference!")

I find it amusing that you say "I am tired of explaining," as though there's some kind of honest misunderstanding taking place here. "Oh, you mean you're really NOT in favor of aiding al-Qaeda? Please accept our humblest apologies."

The latest from Tom Tomorrow does a nice job on this kind of thing.

I'm more in agreement with Dantheman's closing statement regarding political discourse. I would only argue if there was some implication that it is a new development. Hardly. sometimes they are affective, and sometimes, as Dan wishes, they are laughed off the political stage and backfire completely. Political posturing and campaigning has little to do with hilzoy's resolve to 'splain it to us, and probably never has.


Maybe it is nostalgia for a better, earlier time, but I suspect a generation or two ago, most of the purveyors of these types of nonsense would have been laughed off the political stage, while today we have no one willing to even point out their blatant falsity.

For example, when JFK campaigned on the basis of a missile gap that he likely made up of whole cloth, at least the press took the issue seriously enough to set forth the evidence for and against it (to the limited extent any was declassified). Where do you see the MSM responding to Bush's repeated misrepresentations of his opponents' positions by even following such a statement with rebuttal through the very statements of the opponents?

ignore this at your peril. The republicans are trying to frame the issue against the democrats and away from Bush's illegal activities.

The moment you start defending what you said, then you lost.

Instead, attack!. State the rubber stamp republicans refuse to act even when Bush admits he broke the law. If the republicans won't lead, they should step aside for fresh leadership under the democrats.

Notice how this frames it against republicans. Bottom Line: Force them to fight on your terms. Don't fight on theirs!

I was amazed to hear NPR reporter David Greene -- after a clip of Bush accusing Feingold and the Democrats of not wanting to listen in on Al Qaida communications -- say that Feingold hadn't expressed any such thing but simply wanted any listening to be done within the law and with oversight. Yesterday the same reporter had a story on Cheney's similar pronouncements and included no rebuttal at all.

Of course that was just one sentence in a 4-minute story, and it was immediately followed by quotes from two Bush voters: one who was slightly uneasy with the spying but still supported it, and one who actually said "The way I feel about it, if you're not doing anything wrong, it's no big deal to me. He could tap my phone."

Then after the story came a commentary by law professor Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine (a nice, neutral institution), who defended the administration's position.

But at least we did get that one sentence, which is more than I've seen or heard anywhere else in Charles's "opposition media" lately.

I'm going to be optimistic today.

The news media's just a little behind the curve on this. Once they figure it out, they'll come down on Bush like a ton of bricks.

I don't know exactly why, but I keep waking up with the feeling that the country's turned some kind of corner when it comes to the right-wing theofascists. I honestly believe that things are going to turn around pretty quickly once they start, and they're fixin' to start, I'm guessing.

Jeff Goldstein's prediction of a non-violent civil war is only wrong about the violent part. I'm not sure that redstate and blue state America can stay part of the same country.

I don't know about y'all, but I think it's time to let the folks in the military know that we honestly support them. When they are given the order to fire upon us, as I'm betting they will, I want them ready to turn on their masters.

You have an interesting definition of "optimistic", PopeRatzo, considering your last two paragraphs.

Also, I've had the feeling of turning the corner before and been disappointed too many times, so I'm hesitant to embrace it the way Bush supporters embrace the latest turned corner in Iraq.

Now that was just depressingly funny.

Jon Stewart is talking about the same problem with Feingold now. He played a clip of Boehner accusing Feingold of being a terrorist sympathizer and asked him how he can walk by the guy in the hall without poking him in the eye, and how it's possible to have a serious discussion about the issue with the Republicans.

Y'know, in reading this I'm confirmed in what I've thought for a long time: you and many others are suffering a mental block. You have an idee fixeé that completely obstructs any attempt at rationality.

Scenarios 1 and 3 are just tinfoil hat material; if you really believe those you ought to be running around the Idaho backwoods in a woodland camouflage jumpsuit with a faux-military rifle on a sling. It's number 2 that bothers you, isn't it?

And that's because you are completely wedded to the notion of "criminality". They're bad guys. Catch them and put them on trial, right? They go to jail or not according to the evidence, and evidence must be properly collected.

Put it out of your mind. Criminal justice has nothing whatever to do with the situation. If the notions of "trial", "prosecution", "criminal", "indictment", or any of the other concepts related to criminal law occur to you, stop. What you are thinking is either false to fact, totally irrelevant, or both. The NSA is not collecting evidence for a trial. There will be no prosecutions as a result of its investigations. Not one word of the criminal code will be invoked except by coincidence -- "and" and "the" are hard to avoid. It doesn't apply. There are no criminals involved in the situation. There are warriors and spies, neither of which is "criminal" in the legal sense of the word.

The function of the intercept campaign is to give people an idea where to stand in order to block future outrages. If anybody goes to jail, or suffers any other penalty of law, it will not be as a result of the NSA intercepts, which will not even be acknowledged, much less cited. That's not what they're for. That's not what the NSA does. That's not what the NSA was designed to do. If there are criminal prosecutions, the evidence necessary will be the firearms and/or high explosive being carried by the perpetrators. Nothing more will be needed.

It isn't hard. But it isn't Patrick Fitzgerald, either, nor yet Perry Mason. It isn't even Ephriam "Boss" Hogg, LLD. If you are imagining anything remotely resembling a court in connection with all this, you might as well be thinking of octopuses or dinoflagellates. It doesn't apply.


So Ric thinks number 2 isn't tinfoil hat material? Any Europeans have a spare bed?

"So Ric thinks number 2 isn't tinfoil hat material?"

Y'know, I don't agree in the slightest with Ric, but that's clearly not at all what he said.

On what Ric actually does say: "Put it out of your mind. Criminal justice has nothing whatever to do with the situation. If the notions of "trial", "prosecution", "criminal", "indictment", or any of the other concepts related to criminal law occur to you, stop."

Okay, so you have the power to unilaterally renounce trials such as Hamdan and Moussawi, and the military tribunals, and speaking for the Defense and Justice Departments, you're renouncing all terrorist prosecutions?

Wait, you're not? You mean there are trials and tribunals related to terrorism?

Confusing, then.

Regardless: as regards listening to conversations, or black bag jobs, your position is that so long as no trial
is intended, anything goes as regards searches? Or that so long as the government decides on its own that someone is a terrorist, or related to a terrorist, or suspect of being a terrorist, the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply? Or what?

Ditto, did FISA suddenly become irrelevant because... why, exactly? The Soviet Union hadn't previously been a threat? The fact that FISA was specifically written to apply to wartime, and was written during a war is irrelevant, because this war is different? Or what?

Moreover, the topic of Hilzoy's post is lying about your political opponents by way of claiming their position is that which it is not. Do you feel that's a legitimate topic, or not? That's the topic of this thread, not the other stuff.

Ric specifically labeled scenarios 1 and 3 as "tinfoil hat material". Scenario 2 he treated as something Hilzoy might actually be worried about, which indicates something about him or at least his bizarre perception of Hilzoy (there seem to be a lot of bizarre perceptions of Hilzoy floating about the web these last couple of days).

In any case, he apparently completely missed the words "mockery and sarcasm" in the post, and none of his comment had anything to do with Hilzoy's point, so I figured a one-sentence snark was all he deserved.

See, Gary, that was just exactly what I was talking about.

You immediately see my post as excusing a violation of the system, perpetrating an injustice in criminal terms. There will be trials. Well, sure. Most of 'em will get off, too, because they are not criminals. You can't convict them of criminality, even if you could introduce NSA intercepts as "evidence".

It's not even a reflex. It's a tic. It would be funny if it weren't leading to gross vileness.


Well, Ric, if you're not interested in answering any of the questions I put to you, or engaging in discussion, so be it. But I'll invite you again to actually respond to what I asked you.

And you don't need to sign each comment as if it were a letter; it gets a bit redundant if you actually choose to engage in discussion, rather than dismissal. Your name is already on your comment, you know. Not that I don't appreciate gestures of courtesy, mind.


I'm sure the thread is dead, so I won't go into detail.

The semi-formal signature is a tic. Yes, I have them too. I'll try to remember not to use it here.

I didn't respond "on the issues" because your comment is a perfect illustration of what I was saying: the absolute insistence on applying the standards of Western criminal justice even when they don't apply. Turn it around. Any sane judge would toss that "evidence", and likely charge the presenter with contempt of court. Do you suppose the NSA and Bush are trying to get the terrorists off?

"I'm sure the thread is dead, so I won't go into detail."

No, look, it's perfectly alive.

If you don't want to answer, that's up to you; but that's your choice.

"I didn't respond "on the issues" because your comment is a perfect illustration of what I was saying: the absolute insistence on applying the standards of Western criminal justice even when they don't apply."

Now you're just repeating yourself; how about responding to what I asked you?

"Do you suppose the NSA and Bush are trying to get the terrorists off?"

I agree that the intent of the NSA program isn't primarily to support criminal prosecution, but that's largely besides the question of what is and isn't lawful for the administration do as regards the law. FISA is the law regardless of the President's intentions.

Back when the Army was spying on the populace, arguably it was out of genuine desire to prevent terrorism (arguably; arguably not entirely at all, but setting that aside for a moment); that didn't mean it was harmless, or that it should have been ignored, nonetheless. And if we are going to change FISA, shouldn't it at least be Congress that does it? (I don't support the new proposed bill, as it turns out, at all, but certainly arguing that the President just gets to make such decisions on his own is yet another choice, no?)

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