Bring It On!

Democracy My Ass! FISA Vote Shows That Government Is NOT For, Of or By The People

July 9th, 2008 | by Ken Grandlund |

So much for the will of the people. So much for the rule of law. So much for a Democratic Congress stepping in to stop the abuses of the Bush Administration.

After passing in the House 293 to 129 last month , today the Senate approved the FISA amendments 69-28, stripping any hope of accountability for consumers and citizens.

What a bunch of fuckbags. I hope you feel safer now knowing that none of your personal communications are really personal anymore.

The Democrats are the same piles of shit as the Republicans now in my book. They have done nothing in the last two years that we the people put them there to do. They have continued to fund the War in Iraq while making no efforts to end it. They have refused to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for any of their illegal acts. They have continued to approved budgets that we have no money to pay for, burdening our future progeny for their own sense of power and entitlement.

Hell, even Obama voted for this FISA shit. That isn’t “centrist positioning” it’s just plain old capitulation. Talk about a major disappointment. Maybe Nader could use another vote.

Fucktards. Every sitting politician we have is a fucking fucktard.

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  1. 27 Responses to “Democracy My Ass! FISA Vote Shows That Government Is NOT For, Of or By The People”

  2. By grascarp on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    …what the hell is that smell coming from Sen. Obama’s campaign? He prostrated himself before AIPAC, he wooed the religious right with promises of more government funds under an Obama administration , threatened Iran with end-times scenarios and today he stood behind Dubya to weaken the Fourth Amendment. Those Obama actions are more appropo of a Republican mindset than of a progressive Democrat who taught constitutional law in a major university.

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    Against the will of the people? Is there a survey somewhere that said the majority of Americans was against the passage of this bill?

  4. By steve on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    Spot on Craig. Where is the Zogby poll?

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    Steve,

    I don’t know. I have no idea whether such a poll exists, let alone what the results of said polls might be. It may be that there are polls showing the bill that was passed in both chambers of Congress by a veto-proof supremajority of elected officials was against the will of the people.

    I just haven’t seen any such poll and, untill I see such a poll, I am somewhat skeptical of such a claim.

    Furthermore, I know Ken gets tired of me saying this but America is not a democracy. It is a representative republic. We elect representatives to exercise their independent judgment in governing, not to take a poll on every issue before casting a vote on a bill.

    So I guess Ken is right on that point: America is not a democracy and never was. But when our elected officials make a decision about passing of bills into law, the very job for which we elect them, it says nothing whatsoever about whether the government is of, by or for the people or not. Congresspersons passing bills they think are best for the country is nothing more or less than elected representatives doing the job that we, the people, gave them to do on our behalf.

    That’s my take, anyway.

  6. By Alex on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    Interestingly enough, Mrs. Clinton voted “NO”, Mr. McCaine no-voted, and Mr. Obama voted “YES”. Put another check in the box for reasons why I did not vote for Obama in the primaries.

  7. By Alex on Jul 9, 2008 | Reply

    correction: “McCain”

  8. By steve on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    THere is no poll Craig and that was my point. Personally… I don’t care!! I am not up to no good here so listen in on my calls if you want. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

  9. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Steve,

    If you say so. I’m not so sure. This poll [a .pdf file] by something called The Mellman group claims that a strong majority prefer to allow courts to decide whether individuals who believe their rights were violated by telecommunications companies may sue the companies. So, apparently there are such polls and at least one shows strong opposition to retroactive immunity.

    Then again, in polling, much depends upon the questions asked, the weighting applied and so forth. I don’t claim to be an expert on polling and the questions seem to lean a bit toward leading to the results the ACLU wants to hear but the poll exists so I’m afraid you’re going to have to fix yourself a crow sandwich. I suggest plenty of mayo.

  10. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    I’d be a little more comfortable with the poll’s results if I could find a poll that wasn’t conducted for the ACLU. I’d also be more comfortable with its findings if I could find a survey that was a bit more…um…independent, that is, not done by request of the civil liberties group and which doesn’t reach results that are so in accord with the ACLU’s own thoughts on every question asked.

    I’m tired of paging through links provided by Google to the query: ’survey retroactive immunity’ (single quote marks not included in the query). I’ve checked out lots of them and the only survey that I can even find referenced is this Mellman/ACLU survey. That doesn’t mean there aren’t more out there, just that I have no intention of clicking through to 87,000 + links.

    In any case, even assuming that the Mellman Group survey was an absolutely accurate reading of the Americans’ preferences, it doesn’t show that the government isn’t of the people, by the people and for the people. We are a representative republic. We do elect officers to vote their conscience in accordance with their opinion of what is best for the country. After all, just because a majority of Americans believe that the bill is not in the best interest of the country does not make it so.

    I stand by my opinion: “when our elected officials make a decision about passing of bills into law, the very job for which we elect them, it says nothing whatsoever about whether the government is of, by or for the people or not. Congresspersons passing bills they think are best for the country is nothing more or less than elected representatives doing the job that we, the people, gave them to do on our behalf.”

    That’s still my take on that.

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Oh, that Mellman: “Democratic pollster Mark Mellman“. Nope. No worries there about polling bias.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Especially since he’s also “Mark Mellman, an adviser to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and other Democratic politicians.”

  13. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    I forgot the link identifying Mellman as a “Democratic pollster“

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    From his firms site:

    As a consultant to the Democratic Congressional Leadership, Mellman plays a central role in developing Democratic strategies on a variety of issues. Newsweek credits his work on the environment with helping “turn Bill Clinton green.” The Economist has recognized him as the advisor who was the brains behind the Democrats’ successful “Mediscare” strategy. The firm’s string of upset victories has led the Boston Globe to call The Mellman Group Washington’s “hottest” political consulting firm, and the New Republic describes Mellman as “a leading Democratic technologist.” Capitol Hill’s newspaper, Roll Call, named Mellman one of the most influential people in Washington when it comes to electing candidates to Congress. The Mellman Group was also the only Democratic firm to handle two of the Washington Post’s ten best incumbent campaigns. In 2006, the National Journal named Mellman its “Top Insider” for providing the most accurate predictions of the 2006 election cycle.

    Perhaps he’s also the brains behind the ACLU’s own “Retroactive Immuniscare” strategy.

    Yes, please, someone find a survey that wasn’t taken by a guy who develops Democratic strategies.

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    And who doesn’t have the ACLU as a client.

  16. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    That’s an ad hominem attack, and it’s a logical fallacy that renders an argument invalid. In other words, it does not refute information to point out the affiliation of the person who provided that information - the fact that Mellman is or is not doing a poll for the ACLU does not affect the truth or falsity of the results, if the poll was conducted correctly. If you want to refute the poll’s results, you need to show something wrong with the way it was conducted. It may or may not have been a good poll, but pointing out the ACLU connection doesn’t tell us that.

  17. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Craig,
    I have a lot of respect for the usual tone of your comments, but that argument makes exactly as much sense as saying, “That Craig, everybody knows he’s a conservative, you can’t trust anything he says.”

  18. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    LJ,

    And exactly how much credibility would you give to a study commissioned by CPAC and carried out by Karl Rove?

    Please!

    Look. I have not said it isn’t valid. I’ve said I would give its conclusions greater credence if it weren’t paid for by a party with a vested interest in getting the particular results that they got in the survey and conducted by a party with a vested, partisan interest in reaching exactly the results they did.

    I’d even give it greater credence if a similar study, made by disinterested parties, showed essentially the same results. As it is, I’ve seen no other studies on the matter.

    I don’t want my polls performed by political partisans and paid for by clients with a particular political bent. When such studies are the only studies to be read, I am skeptical. That’s all.

    I’d give no greater credence to a study commissioned by CPAC and carried out by Karl Rove.

  19. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Think of a courtroom. Witnesses are called to give testimony. But not all witnesses are equally credible. A jury might well be justified in giving less weight to testimony of a wife or girlfriend who swears on her mother’s grave that her man was with her at the time of the murder than to testimony given by a passers-bye who know no one involved in the case to the effect that they saw the defendant shoot the victim and run off.

    Right?

    I mean, the wife may be telling the truth and her testimony shouldn’t just be ignored because she’s his wife/girlfriend but in the face of conflicting testimony, a jury will probably give greater weight to the other witnesses. And even in the absence of other witnesses and contrary evidence, they might consider the wife/girlfriend’s testimony to be suspect just because of the relationship between the two.

    Mellman was paid by the ACLU to produce a study. The study they got showed exactly what the ACLU hoped to find. Mellman has not only a financial stake but a partisan stake in producing the results arrived at.

    That’s not an ad hominem attack; that’s raising valid questions about the independence of both the client who paid for the study and the corporation that produced the study. It’s exactly what opposing counsel do at trial: raise questions about the reliability of opposing sides’ witnesses testimony.

    After all, you can’t very well say that either party is disinterested in the results arrived at in this study, can you?

    Let me ask it this way. If CPAC had commissioned a similar study from a polling company run by Karl Rove and the study arrived at an opposite result, which of the two studies would you give greater credibility to?

    And therein lay the problem with interested parties commissioning interested parties to produce studies that both parties will show the same particular result. They aren’t credible. The results are stained by the partisan interest of the parties that produced and paid for the resulting study.

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    I wrote in the last paragraph:

    “And therein lay the problem with interested parties commissioning interested parties to produce studies that both parties will show the same particular result.”

    That should read:

    “And therein lay the problem with interested parties commissioning interested parties to produce studies that both parties hope will show the same particular result.”

  21. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Before I denounced the study, I would look at it and see whether its methodology was legit. If it was, the results are valid.

    If we go down the road of rejecting information based just on its source, we’ve basically given up on dialogue, and we’ve essentially ruled out too much of the info out there - more often than not, people conduct surveys precisely because they do have agendas. It isn’t whether someone is partisan that matters, it’s how they collect and present the information. In the case of a poll, the relevant questions are whether their sample was representative of the population they claim it represents, and whether the questions asked were framed in a neutral way, i.e. no push polling. So - who did they poll, and what did they ask them? That’s what counts.

    So skeptical is good, but we should be just as skeptical regardless of source - I might like someone’s philosophy and like their results, but before I announce that those results are convincing I need to check their credibility as a conductor of polls.

    In this case, or in the case of the survey by Karl Rove you posited, there might indeed be biases that make the results a waste of time. But we don’t know that, and to reject a statement because we don’t like its source is not reasonable.

    On the face of it, it sounds plausible that if you took a truly representative sample of Americans and asked them whether or not they wanted the government and the communications industry to have to obey the law in regards to monitoring people’s communications for security reasons, they would say “yes.” To my mind, that would be a fair way to frame this issue.

    But I would reserve judgment until I saw the poll.

    There’s also the issue of whether a poll is a relevant input to this question anyway. My hope, though not my expectation, is that someone will bring it to the Supreme Court and that they will rule any legislation that exempts the administration and the telecomms from abiding by the Bill of Rights unconstitutional. Last I heard, that business about freedom from unreasonable search and seizure was still in there, and the FISA court was put in place, and works very well, precisely to allow the administration to do that kind of monitoring, which is legally considered a search, when there’s a need. So this is creeping tyranny, not homeland security.

  22. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Finally, I asked, begged really, for someone else to show me another study, one by independent, disinterested parties. It’s not that I’m unwilling to believe that the result arrived at in this Mellman/ACLU study. It’s that I’d like to see a more independent effort to corroborate the results.

    After all, well, let’s say five independent polling companies poll on essentially the same questions about essentially the same issues. Four of the studies show, within a small margin of difference, a particular result and one study shows results that are at wide variance from the other four. Wouldn’t you be interested to find out why? Were the questions leading? Where the weightings out of wack? Did their procedures vary from widely accepted polling procedures? You would probably consider that poll to be an outlier and discount the results.

    Well, in this case, the Mellman/ACLU study is the only study. Since I’ve seen no other studies on the issue, I have nothing to compare these results to. Not being an expert and not having access to the sort of information I would need to evaluate the study even if I were an expert, I think I’m justified in using the obvious interests and dependence between interested client and partisan interested service provider to raise questions about the validity of the results.

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Well, I don’t think I’ve denounced the study and I haven’t rejected the results. All I’ve done is pointed out that there are what I view to be legitimate reasons to question the independence and, thus, the reliability of the results, especially since there are no other studies out there to compare it to (that I’ve yet seen) and since I don’t have access to the information an expert would need to evaluate the study and since I’m not an expert in the field anyway.

    You see, not being an expert, I want as many studies to look at as I can find and I want them to be as independent and disinterested as is possible. This study fails on both of my criteria for arriving at my inexpert opinion about studies of this sort.

  24. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    LJ,

    Perhaps you are more competent than I at evaluating studies such that you feel that the Mellman/ACLU study is unproblematic, even in the absence of other studies on the matter. I don’t.

    I neither denounce the results as invalid nor am I willing to rely on the results as establishing the nation’s thoughts on the matter. I just have too many questions without access to the information and expertise I would need to evaluate the study.

    That essentially sums up my attitude here.

  25. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Okay, that makes sense. Questioning studies is always good. I haven’t been able to find any other studies on this either. But in the absence of more studies, the only thing anyone can do is look at this one. I have had to take some graduate work in this kind of thing a couple of times, though it’s not my favorite subject, and it does come down to who they asked (and how many people) and how they framed the questions. If they start getting really fancy and making pronouncements about trends, then it’s also important to look at how they did the formulas. When it’s as basic as “this many people said this, and that many people said that,” it’s easy, straight percentages.

    Also, the ACLU has a history of supporting principles rather than parties or individuals. Don’t forget, they have fought for the civil rights of Rush Limbaugh and the KKK as well as those of liberal organizations and individuals. So I would trust the ACLU’s integrity even if I wasn’t a member. But then, if I didn’t trust their integrity I wouldn’t be a member, either.

  26. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Yes, okay. But the principles that the ACLU has a history of supporting are precisely ones that find the results arrived at in this study gratifying. They aren’t partisan, like Mellman, but I do think they are interested [in more than the sense of just, "Gee, isn't that interesting?"] and their interests are such that those interests lean toward the results achieved in this study.

    Frankly, it is with regard to Mellman and his corporation, more than the ACLU, that I have the greatest degree of skepticism.

    Anyway, until we get more data, I’m stuck where I’m at. I don’t trust a lone study by a man as deeply invested in Democrats gaining victories over Republicans as Mellman admits to being.

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    After all, when I use a study to make a point, I try to use studies by independent sources just as, when I link to an article to back up some assertion of fact that I’ve made, I try to link to sources that are generally viewed as authoritative by my opponents. I don’t quote Sean Hannity as an authority for some point favorable to my argument unless my point is to place something Hannity said into context in order to give a fair reading of what he said. I try to quote the New York Times or Washington Post. I can’t remember the last time I used Fox News in this way.

    Why?

    Because those I argue with here are not likely to accept Fox as an authority for anything.

    In this case, I’m the one who found the study and found it, for the reasons given, lacking as an authoritative source.

    My query remains: if anyone can find another study on this issue from, like Rasmussen, Zogby, or any other independent polling source, I’d be glad for it.

  28. By Independent Mind on Jul 10, 2008 | Reply

    Will of the people? How do you know more people weren’t calling Congress and expressing their desire to see FISA pass? I seem to remember the will of the people forcing the McCain-Kennedy bill, which had bipartisan support and an eager President ready to sign on the dotted line, to go down in flames. If the will of the people were truly against FISA, I don’t see how it would pass. Especially in an election year.

    On the other hand, I have seen the will of the people overturned. In California, the people voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Activist Judges decided to override the will of the people and declare the law unconstitutional. Now, Californians are forced to change the constitution.

    A similar thing happened to a law known as Prop 187, which would have denied public services to criminal aliens. The people voted for this proposition, it was enacted into law, and activist Judges declared it unconstitutional. So much for the will of the people in the Peoples Republic of California!

    I do agree with you on the part about the Democrats being “piles of shit” and about all politicians being “fucking fucktards.” Go ahead and vote for Nader if you must, but he’s a fucktard too!

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