Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gutless in the Senate

If the mainstream media is so frigging liberal, I wish they'd start acting as such and less like Karl Rove's personal fluffer. Media Matters scolds The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray for a March 15 story that makes the strange, and inaccurate, assumption that most Americans support Dumbya's illegal wiretapping surveillance on U.S. citizens:

"In fact, most polls show the opposite. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted February 21-28 found that while 79 percent of 'American voters say the government should continue monitoring phone calls or e-mail between suspected terrorists in other countries and people in the U.S.,' 55 percent say 'that the government should get court orders for this surveillance.' A CBS News poll conducted February 22-26 asked respondents: 'Regardless of whether you approve of the President authorizing the wiretaps, do you think the President has the legal authority to authorize wiretaps without a court warrant in order to fight terrorism, or doesn't he?' Fifty-one percent said the president does not have the legal authority to do so. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll from February 9-12 reported that 50 percent of respondents believed the Bush administration was "wrong" to wiretap 'conversations without a court order,' while 47 percent said it was 'right.'

"Murray appears to have conflated public approval of spying on suspected terrorists with approval of the means through which the Bush administration has conducted the eavesdropping. Approving of the surveillance and approving of the tactics are two very different things. As the polls show, one can believe the president should conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists and at the same time believe that he should obey the law in doing so."

The White House spin machine has always been particularly deft at twisting facts to bolster its more repellent policies. They sure as hell don't need the help of sloppy -- or perhaps obsequious -- reporting.

Confusing the issue is the modus operandi of the Bush administration. It's policymaking by way of Emily Litella.

Criticize the Iraq War and it is distilled by the Bushies that you're suggesting we "cut and run" in the war on terrorism (or terrah, if you're the verbally challenged commander in chief). Condemn the torture of Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Gitmo and you're just being soft on terrorists. Or there's the case of U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a defense hawk who called for the beginning of a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq, only to be lampooned by the Bushies, who knowingly mischaracterized his proposal as an immediate withdrawal.

Now you see the Republicans licking their chops over the call for censure from maverick U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. The White House apologists -- and apparently most Democratic federal lawmakers -- view any push for censure in this case as a win for the president. Why? Perhaps because terrorism remains -- inexplicably -- Bush's strong suit; and Americans, by and large, don't give two shits about civil liberties if the perception is that it's only foreigners who are getting hassled.

While I hardly consider myself a hardcore leftist, my figurative hat is off to Feingold's adherence to principle. His call for censure has nothing to do with ostensible surveillance of suspected terrorists, but it has everything to do with the Bush administration's blatantly unlawful wiretapping.

As usual, the Rude Pundit pulls no punches:

"Feingold must be stunned, like a soldier leading his machine gun-toting men into battle who then run screaming away from the rock-throwing enemy. The censure issue should be on the front of every Democrat's website, with press releases and interviews sticking to a single talking point: President broke the law. Feingold knows it's a black and white issue, as he tried to explain to sexily dim Soledad O'Brien Monday on CNN in response to O'Brien's quoting of Bill Frist on the issue, 'Many of his colleagues on the Republican side, senators, have said repeatedly since we've found out about this eavesdropping program in December, that it wasn't legal. In fact, some are saying, well, it's illegal, so let's make it legal. What does that tell you? That means they're admitting the president broke the law of the United States of America.'

"What the rest of the Democratic Party ain't gettin' is that the nation is fuckin' begging for the party to stand up and say, 'Enough.' Bush's poll numbers are in the tank despite non-stop coverage of every flea fart of a speech he gives, despite the political talk shows being filled to swelling with Republicans and Joe Lieberman saying how goddamned wonderful the President is, except for a minor thing here or there, like, you know, the war; with the bloviators of the air and of the Congress saying that it's unpatriotic to question the President; and without any serious news organization or investigative body exposing the rotten worm and maggot-filled underbelly of all the scandal that's eating away the nation. Turn that log over, and you'll retch from the disgusting sights and smells. Still, still, the public is done with this President..."

Remember back in the quaint old days when there was general consensus that breaking the law was bad, regardless of how well-intentioned the criminal behavior? Gosh, I didn't think I was an old coot but I even remember the days when perjury about a blowjob was bad since it was, you know, breaking the law.

Nowadays a United States senator makes the argument that lawbreaking deserves a vote on a motion to censure, and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle refuse to look at it in anything but the most crass political terms. Check your principles at the door, senators; you're welcome, however, to hang on to the toupee and Cialis.

What ... what ... pussies. Hell, let's censure the entire U.S. Senate while we're at it.


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