Trust Me

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Eph 5:6 

The President was on television again today telling half the story about the wiretap bill that the house refused to pass. 

Here’s the rest of the story. 

This is all about extending the President’s power to wiretap US citizens without court approval.  The President says that this is only about looking for terrorists, but the whistleblowers which brought this who issue to the public’s attention have testified that the equipment installed by the government at the phone companies allows the government to listen to all traffic that goes through the Internet.   

There is a law on the books which gives the President the ability to request spying on US citizens, but requires court approval.  The spy activity can begin before the approval is obtained, but the agency doing the spying must send a letter to the supervising court letting them know that they have begun the activity and will be seeking approval.  The FBI has already admitted that it so fumbled this process that it lost track of how many requests it had made, and as a result could not confirm that it was in compliance.  In other words they have already proven that they can’t be trusted to follow the legal process. 

The last shoe to drop in this whole process is immunity for the Telco’s which cooperated.  They knew that this was against the law, and are seeking immunity for breaking the law at the government’s request.  By the way, they didn’t all cooperate.  Qwest refused and lost some government contracts as a result.  The President had the gall to suggest that Congress had to provide immunity to make sure that these companies would cooperate in the future.  We don’t want them cooperating if it involves breaking the law.  We want these companies to be held liable, and as a result to hold the government liable to prove that all requests are compliant with the law.   Otherwise this all comes down to the big lie that this government has been telling for the past seven years.  Trust me.  I can’t tell you what I’m doing, but I’m doing it to protect you from terrorists. 

Democracy requires transparency.  Democracy requires that no one is above the law.  Democracy requires accountability.  

Without those things we have what we’ve been living through the past seven years.  Invasions based on “cooked” intelligence.  The VP insisting that Saddam was connected to al Qaeda when even the President was admitting that this was false.  Billions of dollars funneled to administration-connected companies.  Our President telling the world that we don’t torture only to later discover that his definition of torture didn’t include waterboarding.  Our Secretary of State telling the world that we didn’t have a secret interrogation process only later to admit that renditions continue to be a standard practice.  US Citizens imprisoned without access to lawyers or the ability to defend themselves against their accusers.  Widespread violations of human rights.  Widespread domestic spying.  The wounded and dead snuck back into this country under the cover of darkness.  The rich getting richer and the poor and middle class getting poorer. 

Trust me.  I can’t tell you what I’m doing, but I’m doing it to protect you from terrorists.       

8 Responses to “Trust Me”

  1. keith says:

    Where do I start? Your last paragraph demands a response but I don’t have enough time to go point by point? I’ll address a couple of them just to show how over the top and blow completely out of porportion this is.
    Water boarding….this has has become so hugh that it is really quit unbeilivable. In most of the debates I’ve watched it gets brought up. It’s on in the national news enough, and sometimes with major headlines to think that it was an 7.9 level earthquake. By the way it’s been done all of three times in five years and one of them was to the guy who cut off the head of Richard Peral, the reporter…..do I need to go on after that fact?
    No one ever complained when we were just doing it on our own guys when going through training….enough already and move on. WE DON”T WATERBOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s not an issue

    What is an administrative connected company? Somebody tell me? An oil company maybe? Jeff, if this is what you are referring to then answer a simple question. How did it benifit G.W. to get oil to $100 a barrel? Halaburton? They’re about the only game in town for what they do. They are so much larger and more deversified then anyone else that they really are the one’s capable of getting the contrats they did…..Name some other companies……….

    As to the rich getting richer…..name a time when they don’t This is a fact of life. How do we stop that? by taking even more from them. Given todays tax rates on INCOME the top wage earners pay almost 50% in taxes. How much more do you want. the top 10% pay something over 75% of all taxes……How much more of their money do you want? Should we start giving to everyone who doesn’t pay taxes. Jeff, I know you don’t agree with that but this is the where the comment of the “rich getting richer” can lead. How do you stop the rich from getting richer? Are you suggesting the capital gains rate is to low at 15% for long term gains?

    This adminstration is not on the top of my list either, how G.W. had a Rebulican house and senate and spent so much money is beyound belief to me. I support his judges and his going to war. I still have no idea why he felt compelled to over explain it to where his words got himself into trouble with your side of the aisle. He started off correctly by saying he was going as Iraq was in violation of the 18 u.n. resolutions which promted the end of the gulf war. Should have stopped right there. Everything else he said, and we really shouldn’t start into this again I think you’ll agree, was support by EVERY OTHER intellegence agency in the world INCLUDING the Clinton adminsitration. (Even Hillary in a TAPED speach to code pink in 2002, I believe, was saying was G.W. was saying word for word)

    Here’s my question for you today, You can have lot’s of grace for a unrepentant homosexual and even defend their action biblically to me, yet have zero grace for G.W. and his errors of which are minor in intent but rather, I’d suggest, steam from poor execution…..

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    It’s really pretty simple. The Bush Administration lies to the American public as regular tactic. It isn’t well intentioned misexecution. It is deliberate deception to advance their cause.

    That’s why waterboarding is important.

    It’s torture.

    There are both domestic and international laws which prohibit it. The United States used those laws to convict a Japanese officer of war crimes for waterboarding after WWII. Those laws are still in force today. President Bush knows those laws, yet he personally approved the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. What he did next is redefine the term torture so that he could go on TV and say that we don’t torture. That’s the worst sort of lying.

    As far as the companies that are profiting from the war in Iraq, just follow the link in the post and you’ll get all the detail that you need. Not only are these companies profiting, but key administration officials from Dick Cheney on down are too.

    The income gap between the rich and poor was narrowing during the Clinton years. He raised taxes (particularly for wealthy) and balanced the budget. Thanks to President Bush’s largess to the rich, last time the top 1% of taxpayers controlled this much wealth in this country was 1928. The top 10% control more wealth than at any time since the depression. On the other end of the spectrum, wages for the poor have risen less than 1% over the past eight years. During the Clinton years, income for African Americans rose almost 7%. Whether or not this disturbs you from a moral perspective, when gaps get this wide they erode the fabric of our democracy because the rich start to feel entitled and the poor begin to feel oppressed.

    You are right of course, with regard to the mercy and forgiveness that President Bush deserves. God will be his judge. Unfortunately, we (and our children) are left to clean up his mess.

    Jeff

  3. keith says:

    you are right about the control of wealth and this should be a concern as you have rightly pointed to the last time wealth was this concentrated, but what should we do, take it from them? penelize them for acheivement? who do we give it to and for what? how much is enough? who decides. is $1 million enough, $10? $40??? what’s the number?

    and what of taxes on income? with that goes the burden of taxes on the rich. the rich send more on a percentage basis to the public treasury today then under the clinton adminstration. the purpose of taxes cuts is to INCREASE revenue to the public treasury which it has done.

    as to what people earn or the outcome of ones life, really isn’t a moral concern of mine. the rules in which the field is governered is. i think in the u.s. today we all have equal opportunity. it would be a strech to suggest otherwise. as long as everyone has an equal opportunity then everything is ok with me. i also don’t fall into the trap you are suggesting that wages is the equalizer. the blessings of the poor are diffent then the blessing of the rich and so forth, etc. i don’t run around in life looking at the outcomes and suggesting change to make everything equal. they did that in the clinton adminsitration with loosing the rules for lending so more could own homes. look where that got us.

    class warefare will not lead to anything good for anyone. if someone wants to change their lot in life i’d suggest they wake up the next morning and do something about it. unfortunately there is a whole class of people out there who believe the gov’t should do that for them………

    and of course i have to say i don’t believe the bush adminsitration lies to us as a tactic.

    jeff, you’re putting a lot at the feet of this adminstration. the loss of manufacturing jobs, the tech bubble crach, 9-11 and now the subprime problems are not things he can control. i can tell you i am NOT in favor of the stim package that have now signed. it’s equal to dropping money from a helicopter….the wrong thing to do.

    over the weekend i saw meet the press. senator durban for obama and senator schumer for hillary. the question of the mich & fla delagate was brought up. senator durban said corretly that the dnc told those states that if they moved up their primaries they WOULD NOT be allowed to seat their deligates at the convention and that those delegates would not count. every dem candate agreed with the rule and one one campained in those states. hilliary’s camp is now saying those states DO count and is even saying she won those states. (in mich her name was the only one on the ballot, stalin anyone?) if was interesting to see to dem senators going head to head o this issue. durban on the side of “rule of law” schumer onthe side of “but this helps us.” by comparison this is extordinary, except win it comes to hillary. do you really think anything positive can come of a hillary white house?

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    I’m not going to attempt to defend the income tax system philosophically. i think that we can make more progress using the goal that you suggested, as long as everyone has an equal chance at success we are delivering on the promise that is the United States.

    The greatest factor in leveling opportunity is access to quality education.

    The growing gap between the rich and the poor results in a big gap between those able to afford quality education and college and those that can’t. To their credit, schools like Harvard and Stanford are recognizing this gap and offering free tuition to those who can’t afford it.

    The reason that they are doing this is because as a matter of public policy, the federal government has reduced public funding to colleges which has forced them to raise their tuition.

    Jeff

  5. keith says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Those universities that are giving money to the students are able to to so for a couple of reasons. Much money is given to those universities, millions of dollars each year. also they invest the money. Harvard’s investment guy is legendary, I’d love for him to run my money. So a great institution, gets lots of money and earns more with it. What to do? Give it to the students. If only our S.S. system would be handled this way then there might be something left when we retire. I’ve never understood why investing in the stock market is such a bad idea for S.S…..Harvard is the proof it’s not a “risky sceam.”

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    Clearly SS as a program going forward is busted. It wasn’t FDR’s fault that a baby boom after WWII is now going to flood the system with a bunch of retirees.

    I know that this is a sore point for conservatives, but if you look at the academic literature from mainstream socialogists, their conclusion is that SS has been one of the most successful government programs ever.

    GBII had an opportunity to fix it given the surplus that he inherited. He chose to spend it on Iraq instead.

    The fix is likely going to be a means test to retrict benefits to those who really need it.

    The REAL fix to social security, as you’ve pointed out, is a robust economy which provides the opportunity for us baby boomers to live off our investments. The corollary, as we’ve also discussed, is a single payor health care system that impoves quality and reduces cost. Get those two things done and you will reduce the need to have a social security system that covers everyone. It can then morph into a program of last resort for those who don’t have other sources of income.

    Jeff

  7. keith says:

    and as you know the avg dead age for a person when s.s. was started was 65.7 and the benifit started at 65…a woping seven months. now the baby boom will live to 80 or more….problem number #1. #2, it has become something it was never intended to be, RETIREMENT. It was ment to help at the end of life not BE the end of life.

    If we would have privatized s.s. in 2005 we’d be in much better shape today. Period. If we wouldn’t have gone to Iraq in 2003 and spent that money on S.S we’d still have a deficeit or higher taxes, but s.s. would be in better shape. you didn’t address the fundemental; question i suggested above in that why is investment in the private markets a bad thing? (other then I’m down $30k in the last week.)

  8. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    I don’t think investment in private markets is a bad thing.

    I visited my brother in Florida this past week and he gave me a book he recommended called “The Millionaire Next Door”. I haven’t finished the book, but it is a fun read.

    Basically, anyone who is willing to work hard and live below their means has the opportunity in this country because of access to tools like the stock market, to become wealthy.

    That said, the stock market is not the answer for everyone. We need system of care for those unable to care for themselves. SS fills that role too.

    In general, however, we agree that the current system is broken and that as a general vehicle to support retirement it has outlived it’s effectiveness. But the government is not willing to let go of that particular stream of money any time soon.

    Jeff

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