Question for the Hannity Defenders…

I have a question for you folks out there who constantly defend the statements of Hannity and Limbaugh and all the other right-wing hatemongers. Hannity recently said the following on his radio show (clip here):

This is the moment to say that there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of ’em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t become the speaker.

What exactly does that mean? Is Hannity urging violence against a government official? It certainly sounds like it to me… It’s worth dying for to make sure that Pelosi isn’t the next speaker?

Taliban in Afghanistan

So much for the success story in Afghanistan. It’s been getting very little press, but as of a year or so ago there have been reports that the Taliban were back in Afghanistan, fighting against coalition forces there. Today’s story in the UK Telegraph tells the tale. Looks like we better get some more ammo over there, and fast. The fighting is picking up, and British casualties have been mounting.

There has also been an escalation in violence. Today a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded marketplace, killing 17 people and injuring 47 others.

Why can’t anyone ever seem to do right by the Afghan people? Our Iraq distraction is shameful. We could’ve fulfilled the mission to destroy the Taliban, capture Bin Laden, and provide real assistance for these people were it not for Bush’s fantasies of “spreading democracy.”

Keys to Democratic Success

When Democrats make appearances on television or radio shows with a “hostile host,” it’s rare that they get a full 30 seconds uninterrupted to answer a question asked, or to refute a statement made by the host. I think it’s time that they stop trying to explain things that can’t be compressed into a sound byte by going back-and-forth with the host. In the process, they are always talked over or stopped after the host hears the first sentence. Along those lines, I’ve come up with a few things that I think will be the key to the Democrats winning in November and 2008. These points were by no means created in a vacuum, and I’ve cribbed the first two from Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. Well, sort of. She was making the point the other night on C-SPAN or some other channel after the Lieberman loss that Democrats have finally realized that people will not be swayed to vote Democratic by the party’s sincere attention to domestic issues, and that in order to win they’re going to have to convince the American people that they’ll be safer under a Democratic administration.

So here are my “four key points to winning in November and 2008.” I’m sure I’ll think of more, but these are the ones I have at the moment.

Keys to winning this November for the Democrats:

  1. Democrats need to clearly define how they would handle the Iraq situation.
  2. Democrats need to clearly define how they will protect the US from terrorist attacks and keep us safe in general.
  3. Democrats need to consistently deliver a MESSAGE OF HOPE in every speech, and particularly need to address the concerns of those who are affected every day on a local level by current Bush Administration policies. These concerns include but are not limited to:
    1. Cutbacks in local services due to lack of federal funding after massive tax cuts
    2. Higher interest rates on Stafford Loans and other policies that impact the capacity for some to finance their own education
    3. New bankruptcy laws that favor credit card companies and even punish those who have gone into debt due to an inability to pay healthcare costs
    4. The inability of the Federal Government to protect its citizens against natural disasters

    The message should be that these people have not been forgotten, that the tide is turning and it will lift all boats.

  4. This may be the most important one, and it’s the one that got me started — REFUSE any attempt by Republican talking heads to condense Democrats’ detailed plans to simple, sound-byte clips or ideas so they can turn them into jokes or negative stereotypes (cut and run, flip-flopper, etc.). How do we do this? Two sub-steps, part of which is detailed above…
    1. CLEARLY define the Democratic strategies on the War on Terror, the Iraq Occupation, and domestic issues and make them available online and through a simple address that anyone can write to and request the “Democratic Plan for a New Day in America” — a brochure or packet which defines these strategies. These strategies should be clearly stated so that anyone can read them. It should probably not be as long as the 191-page Gore/Lieberman opus entitled Prosperity for America’s Families. It’s fine to have details, but the overall plans should be covered in brief. We’re not talking sound-byte brief (this is the reason we’re doing this, remember), but it should be easy enough to read in 15-20 minutes.
    2. Any chance Democrats get to be on television and some talking head or commentator is pressuring them to “finish your statement” or is trying to interrupt them when they’re trying to ANSWER THE QUESTION, they should state quite clearly something like the following (as time allows): The Democratic plan is not something that can be compressed into 15 seconds for your benefit. I’m not dodging your question, but if you’re going to interrupt me and not let me speak, I can’t give you a complete answer and I think the viewers and listeners deserve complete answers to these questions. These issues that we’re dealing with today are complex, they took a LONG TIME to get into and they will not be solved or fixed with a 15-second sound byte. They should then note, if they can, that there the details are available, and the answers to all these questions are available. Just go online to or send a letter or postcard with your address to “Democratic New Day, PO Box 10000, Washington, DC, 20001” (or some other VERY EASY TO REMEMBER address) and you’ll receive the plan if you don’t have a computer or can’t get online. Again, state that “I will highlight the details if you give me time, but I won’t be pushed into a sound byte…”

I just registered, and will gladly donate it to the Democratc Party if they wish to use it for these or similar purposes.

That’s Right, We Hate America…

On the way home from work today, I happened to flip over to the local conservative AM station just as Mark Levin’s show was starting. Knowing that he wrote a book blasting so-called “activist” Supreme Court Justices (you know, the same ones that installed his so-called president in 2000), I just knew he’d have some choice words to say about the judge in Michigan that ruled the NSA warrantless wiretapping unconstitutional. Boy, was I right. He said he read the 40-page decision and “it was stupid.” Wow. So eloquent. Then he launched into the age-old tirade about how the lack of the ability for the (p)resident to wiretap as he sees fit is letting the terrorists win. Plus, there was all the wonderful bits about how “liberals hate America.” Haven’t we all grown tired of this yet? I had to change the station.

That’s right, Mark, we liberals hate America. That’s why we fight so hard and cry so loudly when we fail to live up to our ideals as a country… Because we hate America. Because we think America can’t do any better than it’s doing now. We should just shup up and let our rights be trampled, let the current administration thumb its nose at the rest of the world, and overall just generally destabilize the world so much that we as Americans are much less safe than we ever were before 9/11.

Levin tried to make the case that because of this judge’s ruling, any situation similar to that which evolved in the UK wouldn’t have been solved. WRONG. That plot was illuminated because of a tip from a person who had been concerned about the activities of an acquaintance after the July 7, 2005, terror attacks in London. That article also goes on to state that “U.S. government officials say there were two phone calls made from London to the United States recently by suspects. Those calls were tracked down and investigated. But there is no evidence of any involvement of people in the United States in the alleged plot.”

OK, so phone calls were tracked down. You know what, Mark? The (p)resident or anyone else could’ve tracked down those calls legally. Warrantless tapping does NOT mean “NO TAPPING AT ALL” as most conservative pundits and talk show hosts would have you believe. “Oh my god, they want us to stop tracking terrorist calls. They hate America. They want to talk with their terrorist friends in peace.” No, Mark.

You see, there’s this thing called FISA. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Here’s some Frequently Asked Questions in case you need to do any reading up on it, Mr. Levin. Among other things, you’ll find that “surveillance is generally permitted based on a finding of probable cause that the surveillance target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power — not whether criminality is in any way involved.” So you don’t even need to prove any kind of criminality. You just have to have some probable cause. “Oh, now you want probable cause,” say the hatemongers. Yeah, but check this out, folks. You want to talk about a broad sweep of power? You don’t even need a court order to wiretap someone at first. “In general, the Justice Department may engage in electronic surveillance to collect FII without a court order for periods up to one year. 50 U.S.C. — 1802. There must be no “substantial likelihood” that the intercepted communications include those to which a U.S. person is a party.” No substantial likelihood. Is that broad enough for you? Well, there have been only FOUR rejections for warrants on wiretapping in the whole history of the FISA court. I’d say if Bush and his administration had even a shred of evidence that someone was planning something and they requested a wiretap, they’d get it under the law. But that wasn’t good enough for that gang.

It was only after the FISA court rejected the DOJ’s proposed changes under the new “Patriot Act” that the Bush administration decided it didn’t need a warrant to tap phones. Nice, right? They didn’t get their way under the law, so they did it anyway. Imagine if we all lived our lives like that?

By the way, big kudos to Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security, for his comments on Hardball last night. Anytime Chris Matthews trots out someone formerly from the Bush administration, I fully expect them to hold the party line and defend the administration. However, Ridge (after some initial comments about how we’re safer now than we were pre-9/11) had some surprising things to say about privacy and phone tapping:

MATTHEWS: What about phone taps? I know a lot of Americans obviously don’t want their phones tapped for a lot of reasons, but if we find out it’s the only way to nab people in the last couple days before they act is to hear them talking to each other, will the American people say, well we don’t like giving up our rights, but this is not a matter of individual rights anymore, it’s a matter of national rights. We have to protect the country. Will people change?

RIDGE: I don’t think they have to. I think you have laws on the books. If you had that kind of information going in, you could tap those phones. What I worry more than that, during the whole debate about N.S.A is I heard Americans tell me, I don’t care, I am not doing anything wrong, it’s OK if you tap my phone, and I don’t think we ever want to reduce our threshold that low?

MATTHEWS: Why not? Do you think we will?

RIDGE: No, nor do I think we want to. I mean, the notion that we would surrender, voluntarily, knowing that we are not doing anything wrong, our rights, to have the government intervene or intercede or listen to a phone conversation, I think is absolutely unacceptable. But there are provisions in place in the law, tools in the law now, if you have that kind of information going in, you certainly can, under the FISA, can get that.

MATTHEWS: Let me flip this around, Governor. Suppose you are homeland security secretary, and you find out that there may be a suspicious group of people doing things, but you want to honor their civil rights and you don’t want to tap their phones. Can you explain the deaths of thousands of people because you were honoring civil rights after the fact?

RIDGE: No, I don’t think it’s honoring civil rights, if you have cause, if there is justification. There are plenty of ways for the law enforcement community to do it within the constitution and the rule of law, period.

Matthews’ last question was rather loaded. Um, Chris, you won’t have to explain away the “deaths of thousands of people because you were honoring civil rights after the fact,” you can wiretap first, get the warrant later. The only reason people are making a big deal out of this judge’s decision is because they hate liberals. Perhaps they also hate America? After all, if they hate our Constitution, there’s probably a pretty good chance they hate America in general.

We know you just got home, but…

Imagine you’re a US soldier from the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Alaska. Your tour of duty in Iraq has just ended and you’re back with your family, home at last. Just then the phone rings. Apparently things have gotten so bad in Baghdad that Donald Rumsfeld has extended your brigade’s deployment. You need to get back to Iraq immediately, and in fact you’ll be stationed in Baghdad itself to help put a stop to the violence.

That’s what happened to 300 soldiers from the Army this week. Another 300 soldiers had gotten as far as Kuwait when they were told to return. I don’t know what’s worse — actually getting back on US soil, or sitting in an airport in Kuwait, thinking you’re going home when you get the news that you have to go back.