Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain throws Gramm under the bus - again

“You’re all a bunch of whiners!” says Phil Gramm, former U.S. Senator from Texas and John McCain’s top economic advisor.
The economic hard times are all in your head. The country is in a “mental recession” and you are all a “nation of whiners.”
That Phil Gramm is quite the character, isn’t he? Now it looks like McCain wants to distance himself from Gramm once again. It wasn’t that long ago that McCain was disavowing Gramm over his ties to the home loan mortgage industry as a big time lobbyist for UBS.
But they must have patched things up, because there was Gramm again stumping for McCain and meeting with the big shots at the Wall Street Journal on his behalf. But wait, McCain protests. Gramm doesn’t speak for me, he insists.
You whiner.

I have to feel kind of sorry for some of my conservative friends who are now forced to try and defend Gramm's statement.
But maybe if he can whether this onslaught, McCain might consider that Gramm would make the ideal match for him as his vice president.
McCain-Gramm! That has a nice ring to it doesn't it? That's a winning ticket for sure!
And I know just what their campaign slogan could be:
"You're all a bunch of whiners! Now, get off of my lawn!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some perspective on FISA

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA was passed by Congress in 1978 in response to abuses by the Nixon administration in the use of wiretapping technology. Nixon had used wiretapping to keep tabs not just on foreign and domestic terrorists, but also on his domestic political adversaries.
FISA essentially set up a secret court system to oversee future wiretapping by intelligence agencies to prevent these kinds of abuses from happening again.
But because it was written in 1978, before the advent of cell phones, e-mail, and much more, it is now horribly out of date. It was in bad need of updating prior to 9/11. Afterwards, the Bush administration used the fact that the law was outdated as an excuse for tossing it aside and going forward with a modern surveillance program outside the realm of the FISA courts. This was wrong.
But the question now is how wrong was it? If they had ditched the FISA courts so they could go back to Nixon-style monitoring of their political adversaries, I would say that it was a very serious and possibly impeachable offense. However, if they simply did what they said they did and ditched FISA so they could more aggressively pursue foreign terror suspects in the aftermath of an attack on our country, then I think we would be hard-pressed to make the case that they deserve criminal punishment for those actions today.
The caterwauling I’m hearing about warrantless wiretapping threatening our Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure makes no sense to me. I have never had a problem with the government using wiretaps to keep track of criminal suspects and the fact that they needed to expand that effort in response to 9/11 seems like common sense to me. What I have always insisted, however, is that we have a check in place (i.e. the FISA court) to oversee these intelligence activities and make sure that they are not be abused ala Nixon.
It seems to me that the FISA bill that Obama supported satisfied that concern. The fact that it also provides things that President Bush wanted doesn’t make it automatically bad. I’m sure there are parts of the bill that are not ideal and should be changed. But we can’t get everything we want now with a Republican president and a 50-50 Senate. So we have to compromise because that is the way that government works. And the option of falling back on the outdated 1978 FISA law was a non sequitur and would have made Democrats look weak on terrorism right before the general election.
I think it is pretty clear that laws were broken by the administration after 9/11. But that could be like trying to fine somebody for speeding when he was trying to drive his sick wife to the hospital. The general public isn’t going to go along with it unless you have evidence that they were abusing the wiretapping program.
The fact that there are people who are now using this issue to say that they will not support Obama is appalling. They need to get some perspective.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Losing perspective

There have been so many issues for people to get outraged about during the past dozen years that it is hard to keep track of them all. Warrantless wiretapping is just one of them.
Ideally, I’d love to see the Bush administration and their telecom cronies get nailed for their clearly illegal wiretapping program post-9/11. But the reality is that there are not enough votes in the Congress to see that happen.
So it looks like we will end up with a bill overhauling eavesdropping regulations that lets the telecom companies off the hook.
The best thing to do in this case then is to push for the best deal we can get and then move on.
Unfortunately, there are some on the left who aren’t satisfied with that bit of reality. They are prepared to throw a huge hissy fit when they don’t get their way as if this issue - telecom immunity - was the end all most important thing in the universe.
Let me put this bluntly. I don’t give a damn about telecom immunity or warrantless wiretapping if fixing it in any way hurts Democrats’ chances of winning back the White House in November. It will be small consolation indeed to have the FISA bill defeated and the telecoms tied up in court for the next decade if it also means we get four more years of Republican misrule.
But what I am seeing right now is groups of people on the left (and some on the right) preparing to throw a big stink bomb
into the race if all their demands aren’t met in full. Others are even encouraging folks to withhold funding from Obama’s campaign in protest of his nominal support for the FISA overhaul legislation.
That is so fundamentally stupid that I can’t believe politically astute people would even be considering it. Karl Rove couldn’t have dreamed up a better scheme for throwing a monkey wrench into the election prospects of Democrats this year.
You can protest the FISA bill all you want, but I think folks like Glenn Greenwald and Christy Hardin Smith have been going overboard lately with their claims that our very Constitution is hanging in the balance.
Yes, it will be irritating if some folks get away with breaking the law. But the reality is that it happens everyday and our country is still surviving.
We’ve got a big mess to clean up after a dozen years of Republican shenanigans and we are going to have to take things one step at a time. Step One is putting a Democrat in the White House! Everything else is superfluous in the long run.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Left and Right misconceptions

My conservative friend jimmyK left a lengthy comment in the previous thread that I think merits an in depth response.

Don't you reckon' Clear Channel knows how to spend their money better than you do?

No, I would not make that assumption. Companies make bad decisions all the time and I think paying Rush Lamebrain $400 gazillion in the middle of a recession when they are struggling for ad revenues may prove to be unwise.
Heck, Jay Leno only makes $25 million a year compared to the $38 million Clear Channel will be stuck paying Rush.

You know why conservatives whom you call stupid listen to Rush, they are all at work and only have radios to listen too. Liberals on the other hand have nearly all of T.V. stations, and most all the newspapers...

You harbor a lot of stereotypical misconceptions about “conservatives” and “liberals.” It is not accurate to claim that all working class folks are conservatives any more than it is to say that all university professors are liberals (How do you account for university professors-turned-politicians such as Phil Gramm, Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich?)
If liberals dominate the TV stations and newspapers then why is it so difficult to get a liberal viewpoint on TV? The networks fill their news shows with conservatives, a few moderates and apolitical reporters. They hardly ever have an outspoken liberal on the air. Keith Olbermann is currently the sole exception to that rule. Otherwise you have to go to Comedy Central to find a liberal viewpoint that isn’t “balanced” out with 2/3rds dosage of conservatism.
As for newspapers, are you referring to our own local daily, the San Antonio Express-News that never fails to endorse the full slate of Republicans in every election? I wish that liberals had more control of the media, but unfortunately that is a myth spurred on by multi-million dollar propagandists like Rush Limbaugh who dominate our airwaves.

Working class people today are suffering greatly as a direct result of the flawed policies and misrule of Republicans for the past eight years. Under George W. Bush we saw our balanced budgets vanish and replaced with record high deficits as a result of fiscally irresponsible tax giveaways to the uber-rich. Meanwhile, promises that these tax cuts would stimulate the economy have proven to be a big joke as the economy has ranged from deep recession to weak recovery and now back to deep recession again.
The only hope the GOP has to stay in power now is to use propagandists like Rush Limbaugh to brainwash enough people into voting against their economic interests and keep the current bunch of crooks and swindlers in power.

...where people who are not working can watch and read, draw welfare and set on their asses and hope to get the democrats to give them more money with the working peoples taxes.

Once again, you have misconceptions about the nature of welfare, which mainly goes to support children and the elderly, while ignoring the real scandal of corporate welfare and the billions that gets squandered in no-bid, sweetheart contracts overseen by Republican operatives funneling money to their friends and supporters. The Enrons and Halliburtons have been making out like bandits these past dozen years while Rush and Hannity distract you with bogus stories about welfare cheats. You are like someone who is obsessed with finding change under the seat cushions while lending out your credit card to a gang of mall-roaming teenagers.

Obamanation, seems to be losing some of its steam. Looks like just another liberal trying to pull the wool over his own supporters eyes. Mr. Flip/Flop.

Obama is just getting started with the general election after a long drawn-out primary race. Meanwhile, McCain has had a three-month head start and is still just spinning his wheels. Down in the polls, last week he did another overhaul of his campaign staff.
And don’t even try to start this “Flip/Flop” garbage when I know damn well that you can’t even list three things that Obama has legitimately changed his position on. (Hint: Iraq ain’t one of them).
But as Ann noted above McCain has flip-flopped so much lately he is at risk of breaking a hip. He has changed his positions on tax cuts, immigration reform, drilling moratoriums, Social Security privatization, and on and on.
In fact, one of the only things he has been consistent on is global warming and that is what has him in the most hot water right now with the wingnut crowd. They WANT him to flip-flop even MORE!

Your guy looks really scary, he is a liar to start with, he flip flops, he now throws under the bus. Who is next ? He is dissed his own grandmother, that is weird. This guy will be a disaster for this country and John McCain would not be much better.

Like that classic Public Enemy song says, “Don’t Believe the Hype!” And that goes for both sides. Obama is not the annointed one or whatever such nonsense. Sure he is just a politicians, but at least he is not advocating the failed policies that have gotten us into the mess we are in today. A disaster for this country, you say? What do you call what we have now?? The Bush/GOP rule of the past eight years has been an unmitigated disaster from the beginning.
You are not giving Obama a fair shake. He may not be the greatest president we have ever had, but he certainly won’t be the worst like we currently have now.