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Billmon gets "a little crazy in the head" as he contemplates the arguments over whether two-thirds, or one-half, or one-fourth of Americans support being spied upon for their own alleged well-being.

The whole point of having civil liberties is that they are not supposed to be subject to a majority veto. Hobbes may not have believed in natural rights, but our founders did. And their opponents, the anti-Federalists, were even more zealous about restraining the powers of the federal superstate, which is why they forced the Federalists to write the Bill of Rights directly into the Constitution.

It defeats the purpose of having a 4th Amendment if its validity is entirely dependent on breaking 50% in the latest poll. It would be nice to have "the people" on our side in this debate, and obviously a lot of them are, even if Doherty's plurality still prefers Leviathan's crushing embrace. But some things are wrong just because they're wrong -- not because a temporary majority (or even a permanent one) thinks they're wrong.

...We can't do anything about how a corrupt, oligarchic system works (or rather, doesn't work) but we can at least stop accepting the other side's terms for the debate. What the government is doing is illegal and unamerican, and that would still be true if the polls showed 99% support -- in fact, it would be even more true.

Hear hear! And Amen!

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:09 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As usaul (16+ / 0-)

    Billmon hits it out of the park.

    What the government is doing is illegal and unamerican, and that would still be true if the polls showed 99% support -- in fact, it would be even more true.

    Experience may differ in online play...

    by OCD on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:06:07 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

      That last line is perhaps the most important.

    •  Polls DO matter. (3+ / 0-)

      Whether or not you intend to govern with the polls or against them, what they say does matter in terms of forming your message and how you present it.

      Anyone intending to pursue a policy opposed by 99% of the population better pay attention to the fact that he's speaking in opposition to many people's beliefs.  No matter what you're saying, you need to be smart about saying it.

      For instance, imagine speaking to an audience of 1000.  You can ignore the polls and have an anti-spying rally assuming that everyone in the audience supports your position.  That won't go over well if 990 of those people oppose your position.

      Or you can go in with a message saying that although you know most people there don't agree with you, you want to set out your principled position for believing what you do.  That approach may actually wind up changing the feelings of some of the people in the room.  But even if it doesn't, it shows you live in the real world instead of a fantasy world in which you don't have to pay attention to public opinion (eg Bush World).

      Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

      by LarryInNYC on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:35:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the poll is well-designed; else GIGO. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        -- What really makes America, America?

        by mike101 on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:09:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That would be true if Lou Dobbs were ever to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        formulate one of his "non scientific" polls that wouldn't end up to prove that 98 % of all respondents support his thesis.

        How many polls are just used to persuade the audience that they are in the minority if they disagree with your thesis? I would think that's an unethical persuasion strategy especially if the polls are scientifically on shaky ground.

        Herr, die Not ist groß! Die ich rief, die Geister, Werd ich nun nicht los. - Goethe

        by mimi on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:13:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Certainly (0+ / 0-)

          Pretend polls such as the ones on web sites that we are constantly advised to "freep" are of no value at all in gauging public opinion.  I was referring only to real polls conducted by actual polling organizations and prefereably where the same question is polled by a number of different organizations.

          Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

          by LarryInNYC on Sat May 13, 2006 at 06:38:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  1850,1942,Oct.1962 (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ClaudeB, edavis, jfadden, pink parsley

        1850 the majority of people in the U.S.A. believed that blacks were sub-humans and could be owned as slaves.1942 a majority of German's believed that Jews were evil an needed to be killed.Sat. October 27 1962 the majority of JFK's advisers was saying Cubu needed to be invaded had he listened to the majority we wouldn't be here bitching about Bush,Iraq war,Reagan,Vietnam,disco,ect. because it would have ended under 10-20,000 plus mushroom clouds.Some things are just wrong and it doesn't matter if a Billion people say different and if you stand up an agree with them your just as wrong as they are,but look at how many things that where once done have been stopped because some people stood up an said this is wrong.Polls are something to listen to but when something is wrong it's just plain wrong.How do we know that they aren't taping every conversation if no one investigate's it,it.s like if the police goes to a house knocks on the door an a man opens the door the police says someone heard a child screaming "daddy don't kill me" an the man says "I have not killed my child Officer trust me" an the policeman says O.K.and goes away without investigating anything and then maybe 30 years later a childs body is found buried under that same house! hey this sounds like "Cold Case"

      •  Just because a poll or two say that Americans (5+ / 0-)

        don't mind being spied on doesn't make the spying legal. That is the point that Billmon is making. And he is right. Yes, polls do matter insofar as politicians finding out what the people think about policies, etc. Of course, if it were easier to get in touch with ones Representative or Senator, polls would be less important. But in the case of is something legal or not legal, a poll is irrelevant. If it's illegal, then it's illegal. Period.

        What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

        by Demfem on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:54:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Leaders are not by polls made (0+ / 0-)

        Real leadership is getting people to accept one's principled positions rather than following the unprincipled popular opinion. While elected officials must be aware of the demands of realpolitick, they serve poorly by bowing to it, blowing in the wind of every poll which comes down the pike.

        As our Founding Fathers may have said, circa 2006:

        We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness ... unless Gallup gives those rights only 37 percent support.

    •  You can be dead dead right (7+ / 0-)

      but you are just as dead right
      as if you were dead dead wrong

      Bush Co. is clearly hitting the media hard on this one, but the object is to obfuscate what it really means to have a list of which numbers connect to which other numbers how often.

      The operative phrase is connect the dots

      The network would gather information from a set of external databases.

      This information would mainly consist of observations on “watched” entities — people, places, things, and financial activities already suspected as being relevant for terrorist operations.

      Reports from members of the intelligence and homeland-security communities of highly unusual and suspicious behavior would also be part of the incoming stream.

      The network would store this data within a structured information pool.

      Detection agents would find the “dots” in this pool.

      These agents would filter the information in the pool, looking for out-of-the-ordinary signals.

      Relationship agents would search for other information related to the “dots.”

      These agents would scour the ASAP information pool, as well as relevant external databases, to find relationships between new and existing dots. They would also search for pertinent data that had previously gone unnoticed.

      Hypothesis agents would create possible interpretations of what the linked dots mean. These agents would identify which data may indicate a real threat by placing the dots into a larger context that would provide clues about their meaning.

      Testing agents would run tests to determine whether these hypotheses are correct. If a hypothesis that indicates certain linked data are threatening proved to be accurate, the data would warrant significant concern. Hypothesis and testing agents would provide the basis for singling out linked “dots” for further investigation.

      The network would prioritize the results of the tests, forwarding high-priority outcomes to human analysts. In this way, analysts would become aware of the most unusual and suspicious phenomena among the flood of incoming intelligence information. They could then do the definitive analysis and decide on appropriate actions.

      Businesses are going to get a large number of calls so NSA probably takes some care to filter out the people calling Domino's pizza and taxi's.

      For the same reason it probably takes some care to carefully include any network that includes a politician, investigative reporters, intelligence agent, oe protester.

      Its likely that they color code the networks of people who have special skills such as people whose military or professional background includes expertise in CBR warfare, building technology, infectious diseases, covert operations or computer hacking.

      I would think the point where you get the maximum number of intersections between networks would be of interest.

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

      by rktect on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:38:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dismayed at how the msm (6+ / 0-)

      was portraying the “66” poll yesterday as if to say,  “ It must be all right because all these citizens don’t mind,” lead me to say to my wife, “ If 66 % of Americans thought we should burn the Constitution, does that mean we should?”

      When is this collective madness going to stop or are we going to destroy this country ourselves?

      Patrick Leahy from my state of Vermont is a worthy Democrat but far too many are gutless wonders swaying in the breeze of public polls, afraid to take a stand.

      Playing the waiting game does not assure victory for them in Novemeber

      Religion ruined Christianity

      by Robert Deeble on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:08:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That poll was totally biased by mentioning (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blutodog, bree, jfadden, dougymi, pink parsley

        terrorism in most of the earlier questions and in that question. I do not believe that terrorism has anything to do with what Bushco is actually doing with trolling our national calls-emails.  I believe that they are spying on political opponents and dissenters. Bush said he wasn't trolling/mining millions of "innocent" Americans.  Unfortunately, I realize that in his pea-sized, untreated alcoholic brain that "I am not innocent" because I do question his preemptive War, his corporate cronies stealing our tax-payer money by not providing security, services and repair to our troops and the Iraqi and Afghani people.  I question his torture and rendition policy, his destroying our international relations, his killing innocent civilians and wounding/killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. (I am including Afghanistan because my son is a SSG there right now. Deaths are increasing, the Taliban runs the country outside of Kabul, the people are poorer and Bin Ladin is still Bushs buddy and boogyman, running around free)   BUSH told all of us Americans that he wasn't so concerned about Bin Ladin... What is he concerned about?  My guess is profit for his corporate buddies and the fact that I am "NOT INNOCENT"

        •  Bu$hCo & innocent (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mjd in florida, pink parsley

          Talk about gall Bu$hCo deciding innocence. The whole damn bunch of them deserve to be hauled up to the Hague tomorrow for War crimes! This crap has got to stop! The lies just keep piling up like a mountain od smelly manure. How much does it take until the MSM GETS it?

          "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees"

          by Blutodog on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:06:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You are right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pink parsley

    But being right gives no points in America

    •  Could do. (5+ / 0-)

      People like politicians who have a strict sense of morals and follow them, even in the face of some public disapproval.  That's one reason Bush stayed so popular for so long -- his current dropoff is due more to the gross incompetence of his Administration (as well as some Rightists beginning to question his dedication to principles).

      So Democrats might be able to both do the right thing and score political points with an approach like this:

      While it's true that some polls show that Americans may not object to being spied on, I believe strongly that this country was founded on principles of liberty and I'm not going to abandon those principles in the face of polls or politics.  For me, this is a moral issue that goes to the heart of what America is.

      A position like that will engender respect even among those who themselves do not oppose the spying program.

      Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

      by LarryInNYC on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:20:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bush, a strong sense of morals? (5+ / 0-)

        Maybe in the projected image,  but not in actuality. Unless his "sense" of morality is founded on an entirely different set of morals than I was raised with.

        Honesty, respect for life, respect for stewardship of the earth, love of humanity and all it's  diversity, justice...  These do not seem to be part of Bush's moral structure

        I think what Bush 'sticks to' has more to do with his bases' agenda, rather than a moral compass. He know the hands that feed him.

        However the statement of principle you offer is a sound one

        "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

        by ilyana on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:14:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It comes down to... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mjd in florida, jfadden, ilyana

          how you were raised.  Bush was raised by Barbara, that should tell you something.  He is not a man of honor.  He reminds me of a little boy that when the teacher isn't watching, he breaks the rules.  If he were not afraid of punishment he would steal and cheat.  Also that he has to have around him people who faun on him and help him believe that he is right all the time.  The bully in the school yard who would pick on the other guy, but won't do his own fighting.  Someone you could not trust in a bargain or a deal.  We can say that this kind of person has no honor.
          There are some you can trust to be fair to others and these we call persons of honor.  Without these persons in every state and town we will not be able to maintain the republic.  Even though they appear to be a small number at the present time, we are working to make this better.  It only takes a few to let the others know that they are giving up some of their freedoms and rights to wake them up.

          The shrub needs to be pulled he is terrifying

          by libbie on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:36:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Bushco morals: 'To the victor belong the spoils' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That's really all they need - anything else would be a 'complication'

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    Someone needed to say this and you said it well.

  •  Which brings up the Hayden nomination (4+ / 0-)

    Didn't someone post the regulation that states unequivically that it is against the law for a military person to hold a civilian post? So, why is Hayden even being considered for the CIA director?

    "Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies." - Presidential Press Secretary Motto.

    by PatsBard on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:09:59 PM PDT

  •  doing well by doing good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilyana, Jiminy Cricket

    Not only is this the right position -- it is the position that will appeal.  You can hardly go wrong by saying, "I don't care what the polls say, wrong is wrong."

    I hope our representatives in Congress realize this!

  •  THANK YOU. (6+ / 0-)

    I understand that we want to gauge public opinion in the run up to 2006 primaries and elections, but the polling on this issue has been irresponsible.  Until the public has a full understanding of FISA laws, the polling is useless.

    Has any poll mentioned FISA in its questioning?  I haven't seen any.

  •  Bingo! (11+ / 0-)

    People are mistaken to believe our form of government centers on the 51 over the 49, or even the 91 over the 9. Liberty and justice FOR ALL.

    Even the #@$%! wingnuts.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:12:59 PM PDT

    •  Correct You Are, Sir (7+ / 0-)

      Hobbes may not have believed in natural rights, but our founders did.

      This administration's hardliners are obsessed with Hobbes' "all against all" philosophy and with the accumulation and exercise of power to slay imaginary demons.

      A bit more Locke and a whole lot less Hobbes would serve this country (and its people) a lot better!

      A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

      by JekyllnHyde on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:26:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hobbes, if memory serves me... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...also believed in "internal drowning". That is, he would often play tennis in the heat of summer in a heavy sweater so as to work up a might sweat, believing that if he didn't he would drown from the inside.

        This soes not discredit all of his ideas, by any means. I just always found it amusing.

      •  You have to win and appoint judges to enforce (0+ / 0-)

        rights on the government and the majority, which is why you should pay attention to polls. It doesnt do any good to be principled if that just causes you to lose elections, and therefore rights.

        "Politics is about winning elections", AND THEN using power to implement your agenda. Thats what so many people on the left don't seem to understand.

  •  Now what? (10+ / 0-)

    It is unamerican, as I told AT&T when I announced I was cancelling my account.  I'm dumping Verizon as well.  I've called my senators and screamed; now what?

    I can't stand to watch this one die down, as so many other outrages have.  What else can we do about this?  

    •  It is still front page (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bethcf4p, averybird

      until the Wag the Dog in Iran starts.

      Everyday GW does something stupid. Mission Accomplished.

      by BarnBabe on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:29:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I love that you did that... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilyana, Jiminy Cricket, proximity1

      and I am going to follow your lead...I am going to dump ATandT and cancel my daughter's cell phone with Verizon...

      who says we don't have the power....

      Outside of a dog a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read ~Groucho Marx

      by bic momma on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  can i recommend... (0+ / 0-)

        there are conflicting reports as to whether wireless phone call records were sold, or if it was (currently) limited to landline.  Note, just like AT&T and AT&T Wireless were separate companies (before cingular bought the latter), Verizon and Verizon Wireless are too.  

        So, can i recommend that when you call, you ask them:

        "There are conflicting reports as to whether you sold my daughter's call records to the NSA.  I know the similarly-named company 'Verizon' did.  I've been unable to find your official statement on this issue.  Can you please verify one way or another?  This will determine whether my daughter can remain a customer or not.  Is there a press release up, or forthcoming?  If not, should I conclude you complied?"

        just IMHO.....

        btw, i am doing the same to cingular, my carrier.  see my other comments on this page for the info.

    •   uh, that's A LOT ! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilyana, Jiminy Cricket

       You cancelled your contract?  

       Zounds!  Uh, that's definitely doing something.

       If millions of others did just that, the impact should be enormous.

       It gets their attention.  Count on it!

      "All life is problem-solving." (book title) --Karl Popper

      by proximity1 on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:54:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you being charged cancellation fees? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because that is something I will have to contend with should I decide to cancel my Verizon wireless account.  On the other hand, I believe violations of law void most contracts.  Hmmm...  

      Anybody know?

      "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

      by Roddy McCorley on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:26:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read the contract, if it says that they will not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        give your information to someone else, then they are in breach. And if they say they anonymized it before handing it over to the government, just laugh at them. Doesn't matter. The police can get names, addresses etc. from a number, so the government can too. Hell, so can you using the reverse directory on Yahoo. The only difference is that you can't get unlisted numbers and the government can.

        What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

        by Demfem on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:01:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I couldn't agree more... (4+ / 0-)

    The fact is that what they're doing is un-American and illegal. They just refuse to be honest either about what their programs are or who they're spying on. We're supposed to trust them with no oversight and they can just yell "NATIONAL SECURITY" to avoid disclosing information that would prove the scope of their lawbreaking. Are these not the hallmarks of a fascist state? Is it not fascist just because it happens to be happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave??

    •  Many other uses of this info (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      go right into the fascist/dictatorial mindset. I am certain this Administration would abuse this information for political and corrupt purposes.

      They've proved themselves political, corrupt, secretive, and loyal to only themselves too many times.  It is loyalty to The Party.

  •  business secrets (0+ / 0-)

    is this data collection only on residences, I wonder, or does it include businesses?  Corporations spend a great deal on security measures to protect trade secrets.  Can you imagine the head of a pharmaceutical company wondering if all their communications are being intercepted and stored, who is capable of doing what with that information. The possibilities for sale of trade secrets and blackmail are stupendous.

    •  There's a difference. (0+ / 0-)

      People, individual American citizens, have something to fear from this government.  Corporations don't - they're the valued class.

    •  Actually, I think the seeds of (0+ / 0-)
      the program were sown during Clinton when it was argued that the U.S. had to protect itself against industrial espionage.
      Of course, if future wars are going to be conducted in cyber space, the it's obviously necessary to model how international communications work.  The focus on individual Americans and their personal information is what the administration WANTS to talk about.  What they don't want to talk about is spying on foreign governments, especially our allies.
      Remember, Wolfowitz said the bunker buster nukes were necessary because our enemies and friends were hiding things underground.  Can't have our friends keeping secrets from us.

      Forget "GOD, GUNS, GAYS, GIRLS & GETS"

      by hannah on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:13:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  we are a society moved by majority (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so it does matter what polls say ....  not to whether NSA domestic spying is legal but whether anyone will care enough to STOP it from happening..

    if no one cares that a bank gets rob...people will start robbing banks with impunity EVEN though its technically illegal...but enough people stand up and say HEY THIS IS ILLEGAL and authority has to take action to stop those banks from being robbed.

    That is why polls like the ridiculous Wapo poll must be confronted and shown to be ridiculous...and it was beyond ridiculous because the wapo poll claims that in less then 24 hours a full 1/4 of this country changed it mind about domestic spying and decided, with the revelations that its even more widespread then we thought, that its NOW ok to spy on tens of millions of us...that is not a poll, that is political propganda

    before the latest nsa revelation polls had us split 50 50 on this issue....12 hours after the revelations wapo claims we are now something like 70-30 in favor of this crap....that is just NOT logical...

    with Bush at his lowest approval ever (now below 30%) WHY would 20-25% MORE of us now side with Bush about domestic spying?  its ridiculous to even make that claim....but thats the exact claim WAPO's poll is making...and it needs to be confronted before people fall back alseep assured there is nothing to worry about because a majority of the country is OK with this program.

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:21:44 PM PDT

    •  Right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The talking point should not be how much this infringes your privacy, but that this is illegal. The government had ways to do this legally and they opt for the illegal way, because these guys are totalitarians in the make. We don’t elect a tyrant every four years we elect the president of a republic. The president is under the Republic’s laws. The freaking Carta Magna was issued 800 years ago.

      Ask the same people who are supposedly not worried about this government collecting their data if they feel the same if the same if it was Carter's, FDR's, Nixon's, Ross Perot’s...

      •  Issue of privacy (0+ / 0-)

        is a 'power' covered in the Constitution:

        Amendment X - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

        Isn't the  'right to privacy'  the power to decide who has access to information about your life?

        Coupled with the Fourth Amendment it seems we do have the right to privacy..

        But maybe we need another clear cut amendment?

        "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

        by ilyana on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:01:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  asd (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, but then they take us to the look-those-liberals-raging-about-nothing field.

          Remember they got Capone because of his taxes not his murders. Here we have a clear and intentional violation of democratic form and law. If we argue about what it's and it's not invasion of privacy we get were they want to lead the debate.

        •  yes. (0+ / 0-)
          this why privacy has become a political football in SCOTUS; it is not enumerated.

          why? our constitutional authors wisely agreed that they could not foresee the future. but they knew  past institutional power VERY well and rejected it.

          so we suffer lawyers who exist to argue moot legal points, spaces between words. you will note our government is determined, loathe to defin "privacy" in statute.

          among other things, a lawyer's professional livelihood depends on ambiguity. for this reason, dickens came to the conclusion 140 years ago, "the law is an ass."

          Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

          by MarketTrustee on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:44:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  'there's a hole in Daddy's arm (0+ / 0-)

      where all the money goes"

  •  On the polling. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    etherapy, matt2525

    It's early days yet.  There are only two polls on this issue since the revelations of the Trap and Trace program.  We'll need a number of polls to really give us an idea of what public opinion is.  The pollsters haven't even settled on what question they're trying to poll yet.

    I also think that there are more cats in this bag.  If (big if) it all comes out, I think you'll see approval slide -- and again, since there are so few polls, we don't even know which way approval on this issue has been moving up to now.

    Is America finally suffering from Idiot Fatigue?

    by LarryInNYC on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:23:07 PM PDT

  •  pollsters need ask only one question (6+ / 0-)

    Q: do you support impeaching this president

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:23:59 PM PDT

    •  A: Yes, now's good for me. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KnotIookin, Jiminy Cricket
        But I thought the Democrats promised they wouldn't impeach him if they won the Congress.  I wonder how that played in the polls?  
        Billmon is right this is about America and the contract we all swear to uphold, the Constitution.  It trumps any poll. It even trumps any vote. The people can not vote to do away with the Supreme Court, or vote for a King, even if George wants them to. (especially if he gets to count the votes.)  
        We have a deal with the government. We pay taxes, they uphold the Constitution.  If that deal is no longer valid then we are on our own.  
        Our only legal recourse is impeachment. The Constitution requires it.
    •  But the poll question would... (0+ / 0-)

      undoubtedly be posed as--"Do you support the godless,heathen, terrorist loving Democrats unfairly impeaching our moral upstanding terrorist fighting decider President?"

      Only the dissatisfied can make change

      by pharoah on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:30:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Same issue as the nuclear option. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TealVeal, matt2525
    Just a different venue. "Might makes right" tarted up to look like "majority rule."
  •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And posting on a left wing blog certainly puts the fear of God in them.
    Organize, protest, march. Take a leaf from Vietman.

  •  Of course you're right BUT (0+ / 0-)

    The polls determine whether or not our elected officials fight for them in an election year.

    There is nothing in goverment that is not political.

  •  It's all in the framing (4+ / 0-)

    The context of the question was clearly designed to elicit the expected response. The MSM outlets dutifully led with the poll in order to soften the reaction to the revelations of spying by the Bush Administration on American citizens.

    Mission accomplished, now go home and write that book about intrepid know, fiction.  

    Another unsilenced voice, so those looking back know that we knew and tried our best to stop it.

    by Jim R on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:29:08 PM PDT

    •  media happy talk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The TV pundit bobbleheads smiling and downplaying this outrage continues to amaze me.  The media elite and business elite in this country have more to lose with this government grab for power than the average working man does.  A lot of these media people live like rats despite all their hypocritical posturings about morality.  The potential for evil govt hacks blackmailing the elite and then gathering trade secrets for investment profit just boggles the mind.  

  •  Off-topic? Not really . . . (6+ / 0-)

    LATimes had an article yesterday about the Mormon community in Colorado City AZ, in which the point was made (paraphrasing) "many of these girls don't want saving" (from childhood molestation by fathers and others and forced marriage at 13 to middle-aged men).  Ooooookay, I thought . . . WTF does it matter what they want? We don't do that shit because we don't!

    There is a process for amending the constitution (for limited right to privacy, for child molestation, for man-on-dog if that's your preference) - use it! Otherwise, let's go with the laws we have.

    Sez I.

    When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail Baez

    by Clem Yeobright on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:30:20 PM PDT

    •  yup. (4+ / 0-)

      nobody has the legal right to decide they want to be a murderer, a rapist, or a spy, even if 50% of the bigoted white people in this country think it's ok, just like they thought slavery was ok. that's what we call "laaaawwws" here in america. go on goopers, sound it out... "laaawwwws." i realize y'all don't think they count for white people too. but surprisingly, technically they're suppose to.

  •  Polls (2+ / 0-)

    I agree that basic principles of democracy and free government should not be subject to whims of popular opinion blowing around at the time.

    However, if we really believe that; progressives need to be careful in citing polls ourselves as a basis for policies or governmental actions. How many times have I heard or read "X% of the American people said thus-and-so in a poll (that supports our position) therefore the government should respond this way".

    I am also gratified when a poll reinforces my position on an issue, but buying into polls as a primary justification for anything, one way or the other, is a very slippery slope with huge upside potential to bite you in the ass.

    •  Well, what makes this poll different (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tgs1952, bree, averybird

      is it's essentially asking Americans whether they support upholding the 4th amendment and the point is that whether or not enough some people understand and appreciate their constitutional rights should not change the constitutional rights of everyone in this country.

      Inalienable rights

      The term inalienable rights (or unalienable rights) refers to a set of human rights that are said to be absolute, not awarded by human power, not transferable to another power, and incapable of repudiation.

      Let your conscience be your guide.

      by Jiminy Cricket on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:09:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bout f'ing time someone that counts (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bree, averybird, Clem Yeobright, turnover

    pointed that out.

    Doesn't matter in the slightest what Americans think of the law.

    If it did, blacks would still be slaves and gays would all be hanging from the nearest crucifix shaped utility pole nationwide.

    No, Americans don't get to vote on following the law (including Republicans) for a damn good reason. A good 30% aren't even technically Homosapiens yet.

    •  So What? It doesn't matter (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hlinko, bree

      The point is, do we run on impeachment?

      If 99% disagree, it doesn't matter our righteous and correct we are, we can only do something if we are elected.

      So we should quit acting high and mighting and figure out a way to get Americans to vote us into power and stop bitching about the voters we have.

      Democrats are the party of those who are working, those who have finished working, and those who want to work. -- Elizabeth Edwards

      by philgoblue on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:09:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What is frightening (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice in Florida, Clem Yeobright

    more than the presumable indication of the polls is that we here at dailykos agree with Tucker Carlson!!

    Mary, thank you for helping me reconcile your homosexuality with being a Cheney. Now I can consider you all incredibly vile human beings.

    by ejbr on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:39:35 PM PDT

  •  kind of raises another point (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SairaLV, averybird, ilyana

    When it comes to the big picture, too many Americans have the perception problem that freedom of thought and speech extends not only to those we agree with, but those we do not agree with.  Even Kossacks (myself included) aren't always consistent there in everyday conversation, but I'd be willing to risk stating that D's and Kossacks are a hell of a lot more honest than Repukes and Freepers in acknowledging when we are inconsistent.  \

    The attitude of "if you're not Al-Qaeda, you have nothing to worry about it" is all too prevalant in this issue.  I've seen this on blogs in the local paper as well (as well as those who rightly point out the moral vacancy of that statement).  This subliminally reveals that too many people start from the "guilty until proven innocent" mentality.  

    "Delays are Dangerous." (James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake)

    by chingchongchinaman on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:40:19 PM PDT

  •  Good point - constitutional rights (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are not subject to the majority decdidng they can toss them aside. That's exactly why they exist.

    -4.63,-3.54 If the people will lead the leaders will follow

    by calebfaux on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:41:51 PM PDT

  •  I have been thinking something very similar (6+ / 0-)

    to what Bilmon said for a while now and have posted on it.  An action is either legal or illegal, constitutional or not.  And polls simply aren't relevant to making that determination.  

    What really get's me is this: when it's time for the American people to REALLY be polled (i.e. to vote), we can't be sure that the votes get counted accurately.  But at other times--i.e. constantly--everything seems to depend on what the "polls say."  It's as if the American people were a huge collective rectum, a giant asshole, that's constantly getting a thermometer stuck into it.

  •  What has Kristol said? (0+ / 0-)

    nothing follows

  •  Did the people who took the poll (0+ / 0-)

    even know about the latest findings?  I don't know if the poll question makes it clear that this is something new, not what Bush has been claiming it was (tracking calls to those made overseas), and I can't imagine that all 500 people would have been versed on every detail.

  •  Polls matter (0+ / 0-)

    Especially when the GOP uses such poll numbers to cause Democrat politicians to cower from surmounting any sort of challenge.

    •  Polls seem more honests than corporate media (0+ / 0-)

      Which only goes to show how HORRIBLE the corporate media has become.

      At least the polls are SHOWING Bush doing badly....the corporate media is doing all they can to minimize the information.

      I guess we will get a sense of things having fallen to a new low if the polls start to show Bush's poll numbers going UP for no good reason.

  •  Fourth Amendment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, bree, Paper Cup

    has been under attack for some time now.  The problem is we have not taken that attack too seriously uptil recently.

    While it has not been formally repealed, it has been eroded through precedent over the past 30 years or so, in particular.

    So the issue is not really so much one of what the polls say today-as Susan correctly points out, that is transitory-but whether people support and defend the Fourth Amendment (and the others).  And of late the extreme neocon memes about the 'inconvenience' of the Fourth Amendment have been more powerful than the call for justice.

    It is an argument that we can win-by turning the memes around and arguing for the rule of law-no, democrats are not soft on crime, we believe inthe rule of law.  Why do republicans have such a hard time following the law?  Those are the memes to repeat.

    Live Free or Die-words to live by

    by ForFreedom on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:50:33 PM PDT

  •  I like this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pink parsley

    From the MSNBC Homepage

    Its those kind of images and headlines that need to be on the front page of every paper and on the homepage of every news website

  •  A technical, not substantive comment (0+ / 0-)

    Public opinion of course does not override laws.  Public opinon DOES have a roll in our "for the people, by the people" system of government.

    If a great enough portion of the population disagrees with, what in this case is a constitutional or enumerated liberty right, then they use their overwhelming majority to ammed the law, constitution.

    So, unless the public will changes the law, then the law is still binding; despite public opinion.


  •  Great overlooked point (0+ / 0-)

    The Contstitution stands regardless of popular apolion based on kneejerk reactions. Bravo Billmon.

    "The Bush administration does not need new blood, they need formaldehyde." Left Of Center

    by LOC on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:55:14 PM PDT

  •  Billmon gets it exactly right... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Terminus, mariachi mama, pink parsley

    ...and it's what I've been saying since that damnable WaPo poll came out.  The whole thing was a red herring designed to distract from the real issue: the legality or illegality involved.

    We don't put laws to majority vote.  I don't give a damn if 95% of the American People were behind this program.  If it's illegal (sure looks that way), then the people involved should be going to jail.

    It's just that simple.  And WaPo is doing a severe disservice to the American People and running cover for a gang of criminals by implying otherwise with their poll.

  •  A Majority--At the Time... (0+ / 0-)

    Thought it was okay to lynch people of color. A majority at one time thought it was alright to keep people in slavery. A majority thought it was just fine that women couldn't vote.

    Bravo, Billmon!

  •  Well said (0+ / 0-)

    Captures the essence of the argument.

  •  Surveillance theory (0+ / 0-)

    Billmon nails it, for sure.  What's important here is that the surveillance theory employed by the Adminstration isn't informed by polls, or even the Consititution for that matter.  They rely on an expanded theory of Executive Power that relies on a simple idea: we're all suspects.

    By the way, our cell phones are next.

  •  Thus has it always been (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mango, pink parsley

    My wife often speaks fondly of Mrs. Beare, her Current Events teacher at Thornton Fractional South High School almost four decades ago.  Our liberties, our democracy, our republic, Mrs. Beare taught her young charges, are protected by only a dedicated ten percent of the population.  The rest would give them up without a second thought-- for security, for comfort, for convenience-- were it not for that ten percent, scraping and clawing and fighting to preserve them.

    That's why they were enshrined in the constitution, not left to the transitoriness of mere laws.

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both - Louis Brandeis

    by dsteffen on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:00:06 PM PDT

  •  This administration uses Mass-Hypnosis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dinazina, jfadden, pink parsley

    Seriously, when the chimp starts out a speech with "after 9/11...", he knows perfectly well that 9/11 is the key-word to make those listening or watching, become slack-jawed, drooling idiots.
    And what's more insidious, is that they then are open to hypnotic suggestion. And so when the chimp, or condi, or dickie-boy (or Guilliani) mention 9/11, it is to make the sheeple afraid... and then to obediently follow their marching orders.

    "Whenever 2 Republicans are gathered in his name, there is gloom." Mark Shields

    by steelman on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:05:51 PM PDT

  •  A fuckin' men (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

    -8.0, -7.03 don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:08:22 PM PDT

  •  The Real Sentiment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    etherapy, jfadden, ilyana

    Neweek poll and story about how Americans feel about Bush here

    To sum it up:
    35% overall approval
    85% negative about handling of Iraq conflict and the information that led us to war
    50% unfavorable on a variety of issues
    17% approval of how Bush has handled the gas price runup.
    36% approve of how Bush has handled taxes
    73% of Dems and 26% of Repubs think NSA program is over-intrusive
    71% dissatisfied with the way things are going
    52% want Dems to take control of Congress
    35% want Repubs to keep control

    The really big negative sentiments lie in the Iraq conflict, gas prices, and the way things are going.
    We didn't vote on any of these issues.  

    Bottom line, we are leaderless and unhappy.

    I question how any poll could come up with a 75% approval rating of the NSA program the day the story broke about with new, more extensive allegations.

    A constitutional crisis is at hand- if we acquise, we will only get what they wants us to have which is nothing.

    •  I can guess how they got 75% approval (0+ / 0-)

      They probably asked people if it they would approve of surveillance if it would prevent another 9/11 type terrorist attack. Most people would probably say yes to just about anything under those circumstances.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:22:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

    Our supreme court is shaped by polls (the election variety) and our supreme court shapes (interprets) our constitution.

    Therefore our constitution is shaped by polls.  Sad as that is, it's the way it is

    •  In a sense (0+ / 0-)

      But aren't the courts mostly  formed by appointments of the executive branch?  Some states elect their judges, but aren't all federal judges  appointments?
      When nominations are made by the executive branch the appointments are approved by a 'poll' of Senators.
      But these are not public opinion polls.

      There are siginificant differences between election polls and public opinion polls.

      "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

      by ilyana on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:32:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but who elects the president and senators? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Yes, exactly my point.

        Knowing the way the wind blows in polls tells us how the constitution will be shaped both now and in the future.  In addition, it was proven in 2000 (Bush v Gore) that US Supreme Court justices ARE politicians.  They want their politicians in office, so they will judge according to what works best for their own beliefs, own politicians.

    •  Shaped, yes; legitimized, no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Obviously the Founders wanted our government, our courts (up to a point), and consequently our laws to ultimately reflect the public will, but they also put in plenty of layers of insulation in order to avoid mob rule.  There's a reason that it took the promise of a Bill of Rights, to be passed in one fell swoop, to get the Constitution itself ratified; after throwing off a hostile & entrenched ruling power, colonists were not inclined to allow a new government to consolidate power in a far-flung and diverse new nation.  

      Billmon is right-- this stuff ain't optional, and we need to be prepared to call people on this type of weakness.  Being American doesn't mean a damned thing if rights are subject to popular whim, and in the late eighteenth century even illiterate farmers knew that much.

      Compromise is something you do behind the scenes. Stop doing it in public. -Atrios

      by latts on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:41:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen, Brother (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wish I could write like that.  

    Remember when the majority of non-black/Latino Americans thought it was socially acceptable to treat blacks/Latinos like dirt?  

    Certainly, that was no more right, than is the wholesale spying on Americans, that the Commies of the 1950's/1960's, and the Al-Qaeda of the present day, would be jealous of.

    I share the view that it is un-American to equate plurality with morality.

    Democrats in 2006
    Impeachment of Bush AND Cheney in 2007/2008!

  •  call your phone company (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilyana, pink parsley

    i've been a $80+/mo customer of cingular for at least 7-8 years.  a few years back, it was more like $200/mo.

    i called and politely asked whether they had given or sold my private phone records to the government.  the woman on the other end pretended not to understand the context; i provided it -- "it's all over the news right now."  she dug through her list of pat responses, and I made her read the privacy policy word-for-word.  it says they won't sell or give my data to anyone.

    i expect honesty from those I do business with.

    if you gave my data away, tell me, even if it's not the answer i want.

    like everyone, i am extremely upset at all this, and will continue to discuss the issue with them politely but firmly, until I get a non-pat answer -- while remaining a customer for now, so i matter.

    i suggest others do the same for their telephone providers.

    cingular, please: all i am asking for is HONESTY!  

    it's amazing how little i expect from companies anymore.

    •  got a call-back, and will get yet another (0+ / 0-)

      just got a callback from a higher-up, who says she's been fielding calls on this issue all day. good!  i was extremely polite and said i just wanted a comment from them on the matter in the papers, as its unclear what is going on.  she very much understood; she is currently "taking the request to her executives" and will call me back.

      Here's the privacy clause in question:

      We release personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law or in good faith reliance on legal process (e.g., court orders, subpoenas, E911 information, etc.)

      I suggested it would be best if the information had:

      1. specifics on exactly what processes are acceptable in releasing my data to government/law enforcement, e.g., do they require a warrant.
      1. comment on this particular incident, how cingular decided to handle it, and why.
  •  Back in the 1960s somebody did a poll (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, pink parsley

    to see if people would approve of the First Amendment, only they didn't say it was the First Amendment, they just gave a summary of the legal meaning of the First Amendment...and a pretty solid majority disapproved.

    That's why we have the federal judiciary interpret the constitution rather than elected officials--some things aren't about what's popular at the moment.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:26:44 PM PDT

    •  That's actually... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfadden, pink parsley

      ...been done many times, it's a law school staple of sorts (or so I've heard). People invariably vote down the Bill of Rights, if it isn't specifically identified. I think there's a natural tendency to think of the Founders in their powdered wigs, writing by quill in candlelight, as rather archaic figures compared to today's wired, media-savvy, technologically attuned individual. The truth, of course, is that the savants of earlier days were the easy intellectual superiors of today's "average" citizen. Maybe we need to start teaching philosophy again, in earnest.

      Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

      by adios on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:42:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  But WHY (0+ / 0-)

    are so many people willing to fall for the lies, the spin, the push polls?

    How could any more than 29% of the public in any way approve of this outrage? OK, we've established that 29% of the 'Mer-can pul-lic are terminally stupid, but who on earth outside of the few remaining Bush Kool-Aid drinkers would support this?

    That's the scary part, really...unless the polls truly are faked, sort of like our elections...hmmmmm...I guess that's possible...

    But people are just as dumb as dirt. All you have to say is "al Queda" or "terr-ist" or "9-11" and the 70% of 'em turn into instant dumbasses and run to cower under B**h's skirt.


    And congress, brave principled group that they are, will follow the polls. Worthless idiots.

    •  Capitalizing on fear (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pink parsley

      Substitute "America" for "Germany", "Bush" for "Hilter", "Muslims" for "Jews", etc. in the following speech, and check the eerie similarities between then and now.

      "There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that - can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrifical lamb. What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded... sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. And history tells how well we succeeded, your honor. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said 'go ahead, take it, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it! And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began in this courtoom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life. Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it - he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation."  Ernst Janning (played by Burt Lancaster in Judgment at Nuremberg)

  •  Liberalism and the limits of democracy (0+ / 0-)

    Liberal philosophy starts from the premise that uneducated masses is the biggest threat to humanity. Hence the inalienable rights, the separation of powers, the individualism, the commitment to civic education.

    Marx was wrong, Locke and Mill was right. Socialism has a naive view of the human person. Individual rights are not "bourgeoise" nonsense that has no place in a communist utopia. Man is not an angel. Harmony on planet earth - without laws and checks against power abuse - is not possible.

    Today "balance in the media" means a balance between political fact and conservative ideology.

    by Joe B on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:30:41 PM PDT

  •  Can we give the stupid fucking poll a rest... (0+ / 0-)

    I mean anytime the Refucknikkkans get a poll that goes against them do they stew for fucking days over its meaning and the source of the lint in the belly button. The poll was inconsequential because it MUST have been taken PRIOR to the latest NSA news, and therefore is NOT a pulse of the true nature of how people feel about it being donw, not hypothetically.
    Just shut the fuck up and go on bashing the fasicst traitors, the poll is nothing.

  •  >>HELP IMPEACH TODAY<< (0+ / 0-)


    Keep the pressure on Congress... Talking about impeachment wakes people up... They question, it's a strong motivator to get people thinking. It also lets Congress know how intense the dissapproval is for this President... They seem to be a little slow on the uptake. So please:

    1. Sign petitions if you have not done so
    1. Send a letter to Congress (both Senators & House rep)
    1. Send a copy to the media
    1. Enlist friends and family to help, ask them to chip in time
    1. Spread the link around, email it (with a request to forward) post it on a blog, or in the comments of a news story.

    Help out!!!

    Thanks :)

  •  A more APT poll (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilyana, MarketTrustee

    I think that a more apt poll than "do you think it's acceptible that the NSA is collecting your phone calls" is

    The NSA claims that, though it is collecting the data of who you're calling and when, it is not listening to the calls themselves, without a warrent.  

    Do you believe that the NSA is collecting your phone calls but not listening to them?  Or do you think that it's likely that the NSA listens in on more conversations than has so far been divulged?

    Will you spend an hour on the ground for every 100 hours you spend fuming online?

    by dspivak on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:39:46 PM PDT

    •  the first sentence forms (0+ / 0-)
      the fact/prompt, excluding "claims":

      The National Security Agency is collecting the data of who you're calling and when without a warrant.

      Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, ....?

      Follow on prompts would identify problematic or putative language which qualified the response, regardless of apparent bias -- for instance, "National Security Agency", "data" and "warrant". Many people have practical but not accurate knowledge of one or both of these terms.

      i agree that wapo and others' polling methodology is often spurious.

      Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

      by MarketTrustee on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:16:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't this a position common on the right too? (0+ / 0-)

    Abortion, gay marriage, "state's rights" (when they believed in that), America "protecting" itself abroad, the right to bear arms, and even wire-tapping itself--these are all issues that the right argues depend on fundamental truths, or on the "true" meaning of the constitution, or on what is or isn't truly "American."  And folks here and elsewhere on the left often meet these arguments--especially the ones that are made in a legal setting--with polls and calls to democracy.  

    Furthermore, as for the "rule of law," we were all in favor of breaking a few laws in the cause of civil rights, and we'll be in favor of breaking laws again if they manage to outlaw our right to keep our calls and internet browsing private (such as using encryption or proxies).  The right believes that needs have shifted faster than the laws can keep up, and that Bush's anticipation of the needs of a new era are being validated (in this case) by the wide support of this NSA activity.  Nobody can really defend his dishonesty and the lying he did in the name of this spying, but the constitutional and what-it-means-to-be-an-American arguments work very easily on both sides.  At the very least, we need to articulate why this is a matter of majority-trumping contitutional and American rights in the way that (as they see it) gun rights, executive power, protecting the "Homeland," and heterosexual marrage issues aren't.  Whenever someone just says "it's against the constitution" or "it would be unAmerican", they only gin up support on the side that already agrees.

    Just to dampen the flames a little, I should say that my political spectrum scores are - 8.5, - 8.6.  I'm just trying to understand how they think so I can better argue against it.

    •  In case Billmon reads this thread again. (0+ / 0-)

      He clearly read it once and updated his post to respond to issues others and I made.  However, I still don't think his argument is quite convincing.  He concludes his update saying:

      So polls (both kinds) obviously matter. And those who favor the unlimited surveillance state can certainly try to cite public opinion as proof that the Cheney regime has the power to break the law. But they can never cite the polls -- accurate or not -- to prove that they have the right to break the law, and we should never forget that.

      This seems a bit backwards.  If one thinks that issues of privacy should be decided democratically, then the fact that a super-majority supports a change in a privacy law constitutes a very strong "right" to break (or change) that law.  That supermajority only turns into the "power" to change a constitional law if you go through all the hoops of amendment (or just secretly break the law).  Billmon seemed to suggest that the process of amendment, rather than the supermajority it was supposed to reflect, established the "right" to change a fundamental law.  But clearly the amendment system was not just some "pragmatic" necessity, as he suggests; the whole point is that some laws are of moral strength X, which require majorities to pass or change; some are of moral strength Y, which require supermajorities to pass or change; and some, perhaps, are of strength Z, which ought to hold regardless of whether even 99% disagrees.  I think almost everyone agrees on this basic classification; the disagreement is over whether law A or B belongs to class X, Y, or Z.  Billmon equivocates about whether the Fourth Amendment laws belong to class Y or Z, and he seems to privilege the measure of a supermajority (the amendment process) over the actual fact of a supermajority.  But fundamentally the problem is that people on the right either think 4th Amendment-type laws ought to belong to class X or Y (in which case the majority justifies the change), or think their negation belong to class Z (ie, privacy is definitely not a right at all, regardless of what the majority thinks).  Trumpeting the Constitution or "natural rights" isn't going to change any minds about this.

    •  In case Billmon reads this thread again. (0+ / 0-)

      He clearly read it once and updated his post to respond to issues others and I made.  However, I still don't think his argument is quite convincing.  He concludes his update saying:

      So polls (both kinds) obviously matter. And those who favor the unlimited surveillance state can certainly try to cite public opinion as proof that the Cheney regime has the power to break the law. But they can never cite the polls -- accurate or not -- to prove that they have the right to break the law, and we should never forget that.

      This seems a bit backwards.  If one thinks that issues of privacy should be decided democratically, then the fact that a super-majority supports a change in a privacy law constitutes a very strong "right" to break (or change) that law.  That supermajority only turns into the "power" to change a constitional law if you go through all the hoops of amendment (or just secretly break the law).  Billmon seemed to suggest that the process of amendment, rather than the supermajority it was supposed to reflect, established the "right" to change a fundamental law.  But clearly the amendment system was not just some "pragmatic" necessity, as he suggests; the whole point is that some laws are of moral strength X, which require majorities to pass or change; some are of moral strength Y, which require supermajorities to pass or change; and some, perhaps, are of strength Z, which ought to hold regardless of whether even 99% disagrees.  I think almost everyone agrees on this basic classification; the disagreement is over whether law A or B belongs to class X, Y, or Z.  Billmon equivocates about whether the Fourth Amendment laws belong to class Y or Z, and he seems to privilege the measure of a supermajority (the amendment process) over the actual fact of a supermajority.  But fundamentally the problem is that people on the right either think 4th Amendment-type laws ought to belong to class X or Y (in which case the majority justifies the change), or think their negation belong to class Z (ie, privacy is definitely not a right at all, regardless of what the majority thinks).  Trumpeting the Constitution or "natural rights" isn't going to change any minds about this.

  •  If 99% of Americans supported spying.... (0+ / 0-)

    ..we would get no votes. The theory is we are playing into Republican hands if we take the bait here --they want us to talk about spying so Bush can get up and say "If you are talking to Al Qaeda, we want to know about it". Gosh, seems reasonable to me, although, of course, that is NOT what is happening. They are spying on everybody. We have the moral right to get up on our high horse. Is it strategically the right thing to do, when what we need are votes? Time will tell.

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:02:35 PM PDT

  •  If You Ask Me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    steelman, ilyana

    Rove had to be behind the numbers that were INSTANTLY produced to show the most "regular" Americans think it's OK to track their calls.

    These guys haven't thought about all the times they DON"T want their calls tracked yet.  There isn't a 50% divorce rate for nothing.  Not to mention the calls to the pot vendor etc.  How about all that porn?  WE ALL know that there is lots of porn stuff happening.  It might upset some other people though.  

    Ignorance is bliss.

    I have a 1260 FBI file compiled from 1971-1975.  

    You guys, who knows.......

  •  Thanks for posting this. (0+ / 0-)

    And a subtle point I would add is that in our system of government (federal), we are being held in the thrall of a powerful minority who has been systematically eroding the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  So the source of the tyranny can be either from the majority or from a minority -- and it is exactly why the Bill of Rights is so important.

    Defend the Fourth Amendment from all barbarians, foreign and domestic...

    by Fasaha on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:04:43 PM PDT

  •  Surveillance polls don't matter (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry but this is the American way. Complain, run a poll, sue everyone.The telephone companies don't care if they lose the lawsuit they will layoff union workers.
     The good part is that Joey Butafucco is not involved so far, though he may try for Governor of California.

  •  POLL-PHONIES vs. POLL-SCIENCE (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilyana, MarketTrustee
    It's time once and for all that these two things quit get conflated.

    There is a massive attempt to discredit statistically sound exit polls (when raw data is actually made public) vs,

    infotainment phoney-polls put out by partisans and the media.

    Saddam's poll may say the majority agree with him, but we know better.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:06:56 PM PDT

  •  Once upon a time... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ren n stimpy

    ...every single human being on the planet believed the sun revolved around the earth.  In terms of modern polling, geocentricity had a 100% approval rating, and there was no 3% margin for error.  And yet, the sun never ever went around the earth.

    Clearly, the sun was out of touch with the mainstream...  

    "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    by Roddy McCorley on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:22:10 PM PDT

  •  Can I dump Verizon? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ren n stimpy

    I live in VA, and I just called Qwest, congratulated them, and asked if they provide local service to VA.  They don't -- is there any other provider of local service around here that DIDN'T sell my information?  Verizon did, and they make 25 USD a month off of me.  I'd prefer that money go elsewhere now.

    •  This may not include wireless! (0+ / 0-)

      this was great, i like that you gave positive reenforcement to the good guys.  didn't think of that.

      my discussions w/ cingular are commented above.  

      the big story here is exactly who did and who did not release our data.  

      we don't have the facts yet, but it looks like for now, wireless records have not been turned over!

      E.g., "Verizon wireless" is a different company than "Verizon," and currently it seems it did not participate.  At least as reported, eg,

      Reported here:

      AOL Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Cingular Wireless, Microsoft, T-Mobile and EarthLink did not.

      This is a key point -- we want to congratulate, loudly praise, and support those who didn't, even it was only because they haven't been asked (for now...).

      it's proactive, and waiting for the details from every single carrier keeps the story in the news.

  •  People that support (0+ / 0-)

    the eroding of civil liberties for whatever reason, don't have a clue about democracy nor do they have the stomach to fight for it intellectually.

  •  Lies, Damned Lies, And (Some) Polls (0+ / 0-)

    Billmon has it spot-on correct. The early poll showing a ho-hum attitude viz. NSA activity were false lights; feel free to run your boats up on the shoals if you care to follow them.  

    During the lead-up to the 2004 Presidential election, I recall there were a number of sites tracking the major pollsters -- Field; ABC/USAToady; Harris; New OrkTines/CBS Gnus; Zogby; Gallup, et al. -- along with smaller and academic pollings.

    Some -- like Gallup -- were outed as weighting their sampling with larger overall numbers of Republicans, which naturally skewed their reporting, but which was being trumpeted as 'impartial'. Then, acknowleged conservative mouthpieces (The WSJ and TIME were two examples) were shown to do the same.

    Some people slapped their foreheads: You mean some Rightist pollsters aren't impartial? That they might have an, uh, ulterior motive in skewing results to manipulate public opinion? That if we could ask the NSA to produce the pollster's 2004 phone records, we might find calls to Ken Mehlman and Fat Karl? Double Wow!!

    After all, Gallup has been around since before there was air; if we can't trust them, we may as well not trust -- I don't know; the Mainstream Corporate Press, or even The People Running The Government!! And that would be just silly, wouldn't it?

    Ia! Ia! Chtulu Fhtagn! (Chtulu says: Believe in Justice and Truth, or I'll wrap my tentacles around your head and draw on you with big magic markers.)

    by Nominal Chtulu on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:29:09 PM PDT

  •  Billmon's right, but the Supreme Court disagrees (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    matt2525, MarketTrustee, pink parsley
    Billmon's right on that the point of the Bill of Rights is to protect us from the tyranny of the majority. The majority cannot decide to take away our rights just because their position enjoys some popularity.

    But Billmon would be sad to know that the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment does exactly that. The Fourth Amendment protects us from "unreasonable searches and seizures." So how does the Supreme Court decide whether a search was reasonable? They look to see if society has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the particular circumstances of the search. But this is obviously circular, in that changes in time, society, technology, etc., can all change what we determine is a reasonable expectation of privacy. So as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the majority can decide what privacy protections we have.

    For instance, here are some things in which the Court has determined you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy (for Fourth Amendment purposes):
    1. Data given to third paries (e.g., all your phone call data, internet browsing habits, banking information, travel records, etc.)
    2. Garbage you put out on the street for collection (the government is free to root through it)
    3. What you do in your yard, even if you have high fences that no one on the ground could see through (the government can fly planes or helicopters over your land to conduct surveillance)
    4. Lots of other things you probably wish could be kept private...

    (This of course doesn't change the fact that the telcos violated a statute - I'm just pointing out an alarming bit of Constitutional jurisprudence.)

    Sadly, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted (in large part to accommodate the drug war, but that's for another post) and all we have left for privacy protections are statutory protections, like ECPA, HIPAA, etc.

    •  thank you for reminding us (0+ / 0-)
      that SCOTUS opinion weighs heavily on the applications of law enforcement, that opinion is vulnerable to disputable facts, and because of these contemporaneous conditions on human judgement, the selection of this panel must be closely guarded to reflect the intellectual coherence and purposes of the supreme laws of the land.

      Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

      by MarketTrustee on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:03:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]


    Jason Leopold is reporting that Rove was indicted yesterday:  perjury, obstruction, etc.

    Get the champagne on ice...

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross. -- Sinclair Lewis

    by jtc on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:49:22 PM PDT

  •  this WAPO poll has all sorts of (0+ / 0-)

    distortions in it.

    This paragraph near the end of the article is strange, for example.

    By a 56 percent to 42 percent margin, Americans said it was appropriate for the news media to have disclosed the existence of this secret government program.

    63% support this effort, yet 56% say it's OK for the press to reveal it. While possible, it seems very odd.

    The sample size of 500 people, as well as the wording of the poll is misleading.

    Leading questions like this, that black and white the issue are useless, unless you are plannng a Goebbels-like propoganda war.

    What do you think is more important right now - (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?

    It's a waste of time to even consider this in depth.

    "Rovus Vulgaris Americanus"
    Nasty, freshly-demoted
    -7.63, -9.

    by shpilk on Sat May 13, 2006 at 02:59:58 PM PDT

  •  A bankrupt corrupt nation (0+ / 0-)

    struggles to remember the truths of it's founders. Sounds like Rome. Only in Rome, the Republic had cemented the oligarchy in place, and the way out that presented itself was an enlightened dictator.

    What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? unknown

    by moon in the house of moe on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:04:13 PM PDT

  •  Privacy (0+ / 0-)

    I sure wish the Democrats would develop personal privacy as a party plank.

  •  fucking eh! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm pumped...Billmon...hits it out the park...

    May I please kick Bushney out of the park, ass first!

    They teach us since five years of age, what it means to be American, and then when we smack the shit out of 'em...they wonder what the fuck happened...[first we rope-a-dope then charge!] Ali!

    Bushney resign, now! In disgrace, like your old friend Tricky, O! Dickie!

    O! Bushney....get the fuck out? You hear that Hayden you criminal prick!

    Here tap meme: resign, now! you fucking pricks...


    When the goopers go down, HOLIDAY!

  •  Billmon needs to quote George Mason (0+ / 0-)

    "All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights ... among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."  George Mason had to fight to get the Bill of Rights.  He wanted it in the original constitution but it was left out.  This is one of the primary reasons that he didn't sign the document.  Mason was right.  

    Bush and Rummy are wrong.  NSA is wrong and I believe it is clearly wrong.   We must not give in.  Our rights are not open for discussion.  Today I'll take free of speech tomorrow I'll take... Nope.  I want the whole constitution every day of every month of every year of my life.  Damn it!!

  •  not a word mentioned on the MSM (0+ / 0-)

    and we already know about this.  bush is giving a speech on immigration, another distraction story?
    I hope Cheney is indicted next.  Come on Fitz!!!!!  
    Cheney is not off the hook yet.

  •  SOMEBODY needs to spearhead a response! (0+ / 0-)

    With all this crap going on - it is time the Dems stop sitting passively back and WAITING for poll numbers to roll in and then trying to anaylize what all the numbers mean.

    We NEED somebody in ELECTED OFFICE to STAND UP and frame all this crap into a COHERENT RESPONSE.

    We need somebody to FRAME all this crap as an  ASSAULT on our basic rights and our civil liberties.

    I have to believe a lot of people responding to these polls do NOT understand the broader implication of their responses. OK - they may answer "NO" if asked if they mind if their phones are tapped, but would they ALSO respond "NO" if the question was "do you wish America would abandon its Democratic principles in favor of an authoritarian government?"

    Feingold has been the closest thing the Dems have had to an anti-Bush spokesperson, but recent events indicate to me he has not gone far enough.

    Somebody not only needs to frame Bush as a DANGER to our country, but needs to DO something - whether it be criminally investigating Bush for  likely misdeeds including failing to live up to his oath to 'uphold the constitution' or at least coming up with a course of ACTION for those of us who do not want to passively stand by and give up on our civil rigihts.

    And if this hypothetical spokesperson is barred by the MSM from getting  their message out - then this spokesperson should use the net to go after THEM too - maybe the Stephen Colbert situation could have served as a dry run to show how that could work.

    In any case I must admit it is beginning to seem like madness to just sit and wait for the years to tick down to '08 in order to get rid of this guy - somebody needs to do something NOW if nothing else than for RESPECT for our system of government.

  •  I'll take the minority (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pink parsley

    I protested the Iraq war in DC before we invaded.  The clear majority of America backed the Pres at that time.  And we all know how THAT turned out.  

    Count me in the minority.  More will be revealed.

    Impeach. Convict. Remove.

    by DC Scott on Sat May 13, 2006 at 04:07:45 PM PDT

  •  Too much credence to the WaPo Poll (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mjd in florida

    Someone may have said this already, but isn't, even by just responding to the WaPo poll, Billmon giving it too much credence?  To repeat what I saw myself reading the poll questions and what I know was diaried ("Worst Poll Ever", e.g. here, and I'm sure elsewhere), the relevant WaPo poll question that got 65% approval couched the domestic spying in terms of "fighting terrorists" or "fighting terrorism".  Now, unless you want to include, what, 200 million americans in the 'terrorist' category, the WaPo poll is tremendously misleading, AND, I suspect, intentionally so.  You might just say that the WaPo is largely a "Watergate-type hospitality suite" for the BushCo agenda....

    -7.88, -6.72. I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. TORTURE and ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS are not family values!

    by caseynm on Sat May 13, 2006 at 05:23:35 PM PDT

  •  the purpose of having a 4th Amendment... (0+ / 0-)

    The whole point of having civil liberties is that they are not supposed to be subject to a majority veto.


    Even worse, our "Rights" are supposedly not subject to any law...

    Now, let's talk about the "Clinton- initiated" 'Know your Customer' laws in banking.(4th Amendment--can you say, " in your... papers and property"?)

    I had an excellent return on my oil stocks during 2002-2005...

    Every dime of this money had been (illegally?)tracked for more than fifteen years by the gov't-. but when I went to do a 'withdrawal' in 8/2005, I got a proctology exam instead...

    It took more than an hour to have my bank(where I have a 20+ yr. relationship) to merely give me a "cashier's check" when I wanted to get my own money back!

    Yet, I'm supposed to be completely outraged and hating that the gov't has a record of my phone calls--  along with every other tele-marketer in America...

  •  We're fighting them there, (0+ / 0-)

    so that we don't have to fight them here. So....why are they spying on us over here? Why don't they spy on them there? Just wondering.

    "Wow! Brazil is big." --George W. Bush - Nov. 6, 2005

    by kitebro on Sat May 13, 2006 at 05:59:11 PM PDT

  •  Polls are tools... (0+ / 0-)

    that can be used or misused in any number of ways.  Politicians do need to be aware of polls to some degree because polls can reflect our views, which they are supposed to be representing.  People are generally aware (I hope) that polls can misleading- questions can be leading, results can be skewed- but a well-designed, ethically done poll can be an indication that politicians need to take action.  The thing is, reacting to a poll by governing in accordance isn't the only action a politician can take.  

    A good politician should see a poll like this and realize that people are in desperate need of leadership.  While it may not be 60%, there are plenty of Americans who feel this way (I've met them), largely out of fear.  They need a progressive leader who offers them real solutions, that don't involve handing over our rights, a leader who educates them on just how terrifying a prospect government spying is.  

    So yes, polls shouldn't drive our leaders, our leaders should drive the polls.

  •  shows how much the right wing dominates debate (0+ / 0-)

    The fact that even progressives are focusing on polls and public opinion instead of constitutional fundamentals and individual rights shows the dominance of the right.

    It's the wingnuts who argue that "activist judges" and "left wing interest groups" (blacks, women, gays,the poor, criminals, etc) have taken "political" issues away from the control of legislative branch and democratic politics.

    The fact that polls have now become the centerpiece of this debate shows that the wingnut lie has been swallowed hole.

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