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15 May 2007 @ 04:51 pm
 
"President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program was so questionable that a top Justice Department official refused for a time to reauthorize it, sparking a battle with top White House officials at the bedside of an ailing attorney general."

Here's what the administration wants to do about your privacy.

"The number of displaced Iraqis still inside Iraq's borders was given as 1.9 million. This would mean about 15 percent of Iraqis have left their homes." (Courtesy professorbooty.)

TUESDAY NEWSDAY:
* "The international Red Cross has privately accused Israel of reshaping Jerusalem to further its own interests, in violation of international law."
* The deputy attorney general steps down, yet another high-level Justice Dept. leaving over the fired attorneys scandal. So, of course, Gonzales stabs him in the back the same day. Here's some commentary by Andrew Cohen.
* How to make the presidential debates less, well, boring.
* Republican candidates avoid the immigration topic.
* Accused rapist Joe Francis isn't enjoying jail. Darn!
* How does Paris Hilton stay in the media spotlight?
* ...And then Luke Wilson fired his mom.

Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority and architect of the religious right 's rise to power, passed away.

Examining the fall lineups at CBS and ABC and CW.
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Strange Detractor: pipeprofessorbooty on May 15th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
...
The number of displaced Iraqis still inside Iraq's borders was given as 1.9 million.

And more than 2 million outside of the country.  The total number of refugees is over 4 million.
Kimmayalainnduil on May 16th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Displaced Peoples
The number of displaced Mexicans is given as 20 million in America alone. That's about 20% of Mexico's population. No one seems to want to talk about the reasons for that diaspora, though.

For the record, I'm all for immigration as long as its legal. In fact, I think we need to allow about 2 orders of magnitude more legal immigrants into the country every year than we do now. I think if we simplify and streamline the immigration process, we'll have a lot more people following the rules to become citizens. That said, I think we need to have better controls over who is coming into our country, for obvious security and public health reasons. Anyone coming to America to make a better life for themselves and their families should be welcomed here. We just need to make sure they're not infected with smallpox or that the baby stroller they're pushing isn't actually some robot in disguise.

I'm certain that the reason the republican presidential candidates are avoiding the immigration issue is because they know that the general consensus of our government officials (of both parties) flies in the face of public opinion. Most Americans want border security. Most Americans want English to be our official language, and some policy put in place to encourage cultural assimilation. Our government, however, seems more interested in ensuring a constant flow of exploitably cheap labor for the corporations they toady to.
PMMJ: Adult Swim terroristcheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Displaced Peoples
The number of displaced Mexicans is given as 20 million in America alone. That's about 20% of Mexico's population.

That number seems high, where'd you find it?

No one seems to want to talk about the reasons for that diaspora, though.

I want *everyone* talking about it. If you think illegal immigration is a problem, start talking ways of fixing the causes, not diversions like building fences.
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Displaced Peoples
This isn't as complicated an issue as people seem to think it is. We do need to control our borders, but the "tall fence, wide gate" theory is exactly right. It's currently pretty freaking hard for illegals to 'sneak' into this country. Many risk death, either in the desert, or at the hands of "coyote" drug smugglers. Others pay huge sums to be smuggled in. If we make it easier to legally immigrate to this country, then the free market will make these avenues obsolete.

A literal fence is, in my opinion, useful, but only if we litter that barrier with immigration centers which will help people legally enter the country. The entrance process should focus on identifying the immigrant, a quick health check, baggage check and passing out a multi-lingual guide to legal immigration. The longer-term process should include mandatory functional English and an elementary knowledge of our government and why we pay taxes. Ideally, we'd also require proof of steady employment and proof that they've been paying taxes, social security, etc.

We should also address some of the root causes behind Mexico's government making their country so undesirable for its people. We don't need to be strong-armed or ham-handed about this (so, maybe this is better for the next administration), but we should make some attempt at helping the Mexican government establish better conditions in their country. We're neighbors after all.

As for the illegals aready here, we need a way of identifying them, and deciding if they're good citizens or undesirables. This sounds callous, but it needs to be. An amnesty program that promises a path to legal status is probably the best way to get the illegals to volunteer their identities and put themselves on the radar. Stong laws against illegals once amnesty and legal immigration reform are in place would also assist in this (jail time and deportation if illegally in this country -- just like any other country; also, jail time for employers hiring illegals knowingly -- this one is harder to enforce, but should still be on the books).

The problem is that our politicians either see illegals as desirable cheap labor, or as a potential new voting demographic. Neither party wants to take the very un-PC stance of insisting on cultural integration, or suggesting that there might be illegal immigrants that aren't actually welcome in America (like drug dealers or murderers). (I think there's also some delusional belief that wanton illegal immigration will somehow fix social security. I don't agree.) This problem is the hardest one yet, though. The only way to correct the bad behavior of elected officials is to vote them out, and voting out incumbents is damn near impossible in this country, for some reason (Sen. William Jefferson's re-election comes to mind).

Taxes among immigrants are also a sticking point for a lot of people. A federal sales tax (replacing income taxes) would guarantee that everyone was paying taxes at a ratio consistant with their spending power. If we don't tax food (as with state sales taxes), we reduce the tax burden of necessity buying (I would also argue that the government shouldn't be taxing gasoline for the same reason). Of course, this introduces a whole new raft of issues (like how to you provide incentives for home-ownership or starting a small business, etc., and what do you do with all the H&R Block employees that you put out on the street by simplifying the tax code, etc.)

It's all a question of to what degree you want the problem fixed. We can put a bandage on it like Reagan did when he did the whole amnesty thing back in the 80's, or we can try to address some of the root causes. Doing so might require some rather fundamental changes to how we do things, though, and people fear change.
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Displaced Peoples
As to population numbers, looking for a link, I see I mistook the total estimated population of illegals (between 12 and 20 million) for the Mexican illegal population, which is only about 57% of that total. Source.

I stand corrected.
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
Powerline has another take on Comey's testimony about the so-called "warrantless wiretapping" (what media bias?) issue. It's worth a read if you can stomach an opinion that hasn't been sanitized by the liberal media.
PMMJ: Newscheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
Most people don't like the warrantless wiretapping thing, so it's not so much a media-bias thing as that pesky reality-has-a-liberal-bias thing. And I don't think you can support a claim that Powerline is unbiased, either.

And there's more on the bedside incident in today's newspost, that again paints a different picture. The Powerline account doesn't explain why Gonzales and Card didn't say anything to Comey, who was in the room at the time. They pick apart details, but are avoiding the tenor of Comey's testimony. There's a reason the Republicans on the committee (Specter aside) didn't even show up. People are outraged because it's pretty outrageous behavior.
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
The phrase "warrantless wiretapping program" is misleading. It's also the name that the mainstream media has elected to call it, and thus, the name in common parlance among those folks who take their news from the mainstream media. People are outraged because the media is telling them they should be.

Also, I never said that Powerline was unbiased. The fact that you think that WaPo is somehow unbiased tells me I'm probably wasting my time trying to offer up a different point of view.

And the reason the Republicans aren't showing up for this dog and pony show is that this is yet another witch hunt in a long line of scandal-of-the-day tactics that this Democratic congress has foisted upon is. Much like the Valerie Plame thing, it will turn into nothing more than some "gotcha" bullshit perjury charge for anyone stupid enough to testify in front of these parasites.
PMMJ: Newscheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
People are outraged because the media is telling them they should be.

An equally accurate reading would be that people are outraged when the media sheds light on what is going on.

Also, I never said that Powerline was unbiased. The fact that you think that WaPo is somehow unbiased tells me I'm probably wasting my time trying to offer up a different point of view.

I prefer to think of the Post as being 'less biased,', or even 'apolitical,' actually. I don't think anything can be without bias, but I also don't think bias has to affect good reporting or uncovering the truth.

Much like the Valerie Plame thing, it will turn into nothing more than some "gotcha" bullshit perjury charge for anyone stupid enough to testify in front of these parasites.

I never really thought about the checks and balances as being 'parasites,' myself.
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
I prefer to think of the Post as being 'less biased,', or even 'apolitical,' actually. I don't think anything can be without bias, but I also don't think bias has to affect good reporting or uncovering the truth.

I could find 10 examples of liberal bias in any political article in the A section of the WaPo written in the last 20 years, but it wouldn't change the fact that we just disagree on this.

I think the reformatting at Time magazine demonstrates the current trend in journalism best, though. They're moving more towards editoral content, and "analysis" rather than straight reporting. It's my opinion that this is all we get any more. It's just a question of picking which bias you're more comfortable reading.
PMMJ: Red Swingline Staplercheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program
I am considering picking up Powerline, as I have given LGF a few months, but it appears to be mostly Muslim-bashing and picking fights with other partisans.

I think the reformatting at Time magazine demonstrates the current trend in journalism best, though. They're moving more towards editoral content, and "analysis" rather than straight reporting. It's my opinion that this is all we get any more. It's just a question of picking which bias you're more comfortable reading.

It's only a matter of time before the partisans decide how the analysis is slanted, though.

I am pleased by the analyses, though, and when you find good ones, do pass them along. it at least makes them put more research and time into it, which is a step in the right direction.
PMMJ: Red Swingline Staplercheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
also
If they knew Comey was in charge, why'd they go to Ashcroft at all?
(Deleted comment)
PMMJ: Newscheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: also
Comey = "Over that week I communicated that as acting attorney general that I would not certify [the program's] legality. The next day, on Wednesday, March 10, 2004, I was headed home. My security detail was driving me."

Acting attorney general. Talked to them for a week. This wasn't a surprise to them, nor some last-minute call. Also not rocket science. So, why did they go to Ashcroft's hospital room? How was the program operating without his signature?
reese99reese99 on May 16th, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: also
From the Powerline link:

"Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified, over and over, that the NSA program was legal. Suddenly, Ashcroft was taken ill. The next thing that happened, according to Comey, was that Comey notified the White House that he would not sign the certification that Ashcroft had signed some 20 times. Comey did not say--amazingly, no one asked him--whether he ever told the White House that Ashcroft had agreed with this conclusion on the very day when he was taken to the hospital.

So it is hardly surprising if, confronted with sudden intransigence from a brand-new, acting attorney general, Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card thought that the problem lay with Comey's staging a sort of palace coup. It may well have been reasonable for them to go to see Ashcroft to get the same certification they had gotten many times before.

When they got to the hospital, they found that Ashcroft seconded Comey's legal concerns, based on the review that had just been completed. That caused some confusion, no doubt, but it led to the White House meeting between Comey and President Bush, followed by a meeting between Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The upshot of those meetings was that Bush, apprised of the results of DOJ's legal review, told Comey to do what he thought was right.

Bush reauthorized the NSA program, but immediately thereafter, Comey says, the program was revised in some unspecified way to satisfy the DOJ's new concerns. Subsequently, the program continued to be reauthorized and recertified by DOJ every 45 days."
PMMJ: Newscheetahmaster on May 16th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: also
So it is hardly surprising if, confronted with sudden intransigence from a brand-new, acting attorney general, Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card thought that the problem lay with Comey's staging a sort of palace coup. It may well have been reasonable for them to go to see Ashcroft to get the same certification they had gotten many times before.

But they'd been dealing with Comey for a week, and presumably could have talked to Ashcroft before that point. Why the middle of the night signature? That's highly suspicious, you have to admit.

Bush reauthorized the NSA program, but immediately thereafter, Comey says, the program was revised in some unspecified way to satisfy the DOJ's new concerns. Subsequently, the program continued to be reauthorized and recertified by DOJ every 45 days."

I would totally like more details on this, even if it is just "OK, we're going through FISA like we're supposed to." But I also understand we're unlikely to get them.