Tea Baggers, Clones, and The Holocaust

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John Stewart ridiculed the tea party protests against health care reform and their comparisons between health care reform and the Holocaust (video above). He later demonstrated how Sean Hannity used video from another date to inflate the size of the crowd (video below):

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Sean Hannity isn’t the first to use editing to increase the size of a crowd. I made fun of George Bush’s campaign for doing this in an ad in this post written during the 2004 presidential campaign:


Army of Clones?

Breaking News: George Bush develops army of clones, first seen in Bush ad (photo above).

It is speculated that the Bush administration developed this clone army, based upon an idea from George Lucas, in order to proceed with the neoconservative agenda of world dominance, without having to resort to a draft. Critics of the plan point out the effects upon the Republic when implemented.

Others speculate that these are actually alien clones, as first revealed by Chris Carter. Under this theory, the bulge on George Bush’s back in the debates was either an alien communication device or mind control device.

Proponents of both theories fear that Bush might also be planning to use cloned Republican voters to steal the election next week.

Others speculate that this actually represents use of Photo Shop to create the illusion of a larger attendance at a Bush rally–a rather boring explanation.

Update: Sean Hannity reportedly will be addressing the issue on his show tonight. I’d love to watch his show but I had already planned to spend the time doing something more interesting, perhaps such as watching to see if the grass is still growing this time of year. I bet that Jon Stewart will fill us in (but I fear it won’t make it until tomorrow’s show).

The Festivus Airing of Grievances

Festivus, the holiday popularized on an episode of Seinfeld, continues to receive attention. The Miami Herald was among the newspapers noting the event today. A traditional component of the holiday is the airing of grievances at family gatherings.

In past years I  modified the observance on line to include an airing of grievances against political leaders. Last year I posted my grievances against the major presidential candidates of both parties. I had the least grievances against Barack Obama, but the section on him did predict that “in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.”

In previous years my grievances were directed towards George Bush. As this is the last opportunity to do so, and as the grievances remain relevant, I will repost them below. Note that this was originally written when the Republicans controlled Congress with hopes for a Festivus Miracle of a Congress which would hold Bush accountable. Below are my grievances against George Bush as originally written:

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participant at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

Your disdain for the democratic process was especially seen in your campaign for reelection. You both avoided contact with all but firm supporters, and avoided discussing any real issues. You were too afraid of a real discussion of the issues, knowing in such a situation you would be rejected, so instead you based your campaign upon distorting the positions and record of your opponent. I don’t think you ever commented on a single position actually held by John Kerry.

You were even so far off the wall as to suggest that intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution. At least you aren’t flip flopping this time (which is something you and not John Kerry has been guilty of). Supporting such superstition over science is consistent with your overall disregard for science. Calling intelligent design a valid alternative to evolution to explain the development of life is as nonsensical as promoting the belief that earth quakes occur because the gods are angry as a valid alternative to geology.

Traditionally, at the Festivus dinner we have the The Feats of Strength. This year I propose that we show our strength by working to remove from Congress those who have collaborated with you and replace them with new members who are willing to vote for your censure or impeachment and restore Constitutional rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. You already have the distinction of being the first President to admit to an impeachable offense in your illegal surveillance, and your lying us into war was an even worse crime. Both are certainly more deserving of impeachment than a private sexual affair and creative uses of cigars.

Next year, when we have a Congress willing to take action against you and to reestablish the form of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we can call it a Festivus Miracle.

Now, in the spirit of Festivus, I invite you all gather around an aluminum pole to air your grievances or perform a feat of strength.

Latte Liberals, Dunkin’ Donut Democrats, And Which Candidate Is Really Best For All

Back in 2006 coffee preference became a factor in predicting voting behavior. At that time the talk was of the influence of Starbucks Republicans on the Congressional race. For background information I’ll post a copy of a post at a previous blog on this topic under the fold. Basically the Starbucks Republicans were fiscally moderate, socially liberal upscale voters who opposed the war. We now know the outcome. The Starbucks Republicans are voting Democratic, joining many independents and Democrats who fit into their demographic. This year the same demographics are separating supporters of Obama and Clinton. The Times of London Reports:

Among voters whose voting choice is not based on identity politics, Mr Obama’s supporters are the latte liberals. These are the people for whom Starbucks, with its $5 cups of coffee and fancy bakeries, is not just a consumer choice but a lifestyle. They not only have the money. They share the values.

They live by all those little quotes on the side of Starbucks cups about community service and global warming. They embrace the Obama candidacy because to them he transcends traditional class and economic divides. He is a transformative political figure – potentially the first black man to be president – and is seen as the one to revive America’s faith in itself and restore America’s status in the world. For these voters the defining emotion is hope.

Mrs Clinton is the candidate of what might be called Dunkin’ Donut Democrats. They do not have money to waste on multiple-hyphenated coffee drinks – double-top, no-foam, non-fat lattes and the like. Not for them the bran muffins or the biscotti. They are the 75-cent coffee and doughnut crowd. For them caffeine choice doesn’t correlate with their values but simply represents a means of keeping them going through their challenging day.

Though they don’t doubt that global warming is important, they think it can wait. They want to make sure first they can pay the heating bills. They’re not in favour of the Iraq war but neither are they so focused on restoring America’s image in the world. They’re not necessarily racist, it’s just that they’re not especially animated by the idealism represented by the first black president. For them anxiety, not aspiration is the defining factor.

One factor is that, at least among the more educated upscale segment of his supporters, is that liberal values trump personal economic need in determining their vote. Issues such as the war matter more, making Obama voters reluctant to vote for a supporter of the Iraq war such as Hillary Clinton. While Clinton supporters view government in terms of what government can do for them personally, Obama voters look at the bigger picture. Obama supporters are more likely to view a need for government in terms of goals which cannot be accomplished by individuals alone, including responding to global warming, making health care more affordable, and fighting poverty on a national scale. Principles matter more to Obama supporters, making them prefer the candidate who has vowed not to resort to Swift Boat tactics and making them oppose the Democratic candidate who lacks personal principles and has engaged in Rove style dirty politics.

The downscale Democratic voters are more willing to vote for Clinton because they are willing to place their personal need over principle. They don’t mind if Hillary lies and cheats if they perceive that she will lie and cheat to give them more government assistance. Obama voters are more concerned about matters such as which candidate will restore the Constitutional balance between the President and other branches of government, while Clinton voters don’t mind an autocratic president if they believe she will use her power to help them.

This division is really unnecessary as the perception that Clinton will do more for them is not based in reality. Hillary Clinton, who supported Wal-Mart in their fights against unions, can easily afford a $5 million personal loan to her campaign, and refuses to disclose her tax returns hardly shares the interests of the voters she seeks. Whenever the economic views of Obama versus Clinton are evaluated rationally rather than emotionally, Obama’s plans come out as far superior. For example, The Washington Post compared the economic stimulus plans of each candidate. Obama’s plan earned an A- while Clinton’s plan received a C-, barely beating John McCain’s D+. Clinton’s economic plans are devised to inspire political support but, like her poorly constructed plan to help with the mortgage crisis, do not stand up to scrutiny. Obama is the best choice for both Latte Liberals and Dunkin’ Donut Democrats


It Looks Increasingly Like Third Parties May Influence Outcome in 2008

Third party talk remains big today, with Michael Bloomberg joined by another name–Ralph Nader. Bloomberg denies plans to run, but The New York Times reports that he’s had staffers working behind the scenes for two years.First Read reports that Bloomberg has even met with Nancy Reagan. The Politico wonders how a marriage between Bloomberg and Unity ’08 would work.

The Politico also reports that Ralph Nader is considering a run. After all we’ve been through since 2000, he still claims there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Chris Lehane responds to Nader’s criticism:

Chris Lehane, who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, said of a possible Nader candidacy: “His entry into the race, even to those who voted for him in 2000, would be just another vainglorious effort to promote himself at the expense of the best interests of the public. Ralph Nader is unsafe in any election.”

As was clear by 2004, Nader has no chance to win, and he has little impact on the positions of either party. As Steve Benen sums it up, “Nader appears anxious to run yet again — he just doesn’t seem to know why.” Bloomberg remains a long shot, but some people such as John Zogby believe he really does have a shot:

It comes down to good timing, really. After more than a decade of harsh wrangling, likely voters tell me they are tired of the vicious partisanship. In a national telephone poll last month, 80% said it was “very important” that the next President be a person who can unite the country, and 82% said the same about the need for a competent manager. Bloomberg wins on both counts.

Zogby also believes that Bloomberg might hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans:

An important side note: Contrary to conventional wisdom, my polling shows he would likely take more votes from the Democrat than the Republican. Those who consider themselves part of that growing “moderate” political class are 38% Democrats, 25% Republicans, and 38% independents.

Farewell to Stars Hollow


Tonight, sadly, will be our last visit to Stars Hollow, which ranks with Cicely, Alaska and Stuckeyville, Ohio among the top quirky fictional towns to live in. After seven years, Gilmore Girls will have its final episode tonight. There is some irony in having the show end as the Republicans debate. While I’ve had previous posts on the show, and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s amazing dialog, on blogs before Liberal Values, my first post on the show here was in August. The Washington Post had run a story on the declining support for Republicans in the Northeast. I used Stars Hollow as an example of a Northeast town where George Bush is disliked, quoting from Lorelei Gilmore:


Lorelei has been blunt about her feelings about George Bush. “I hate President Bush! He’s stupid, and his face is too small for his head. I just want to toss him out.” She also shares our fears over the erosion of civil liberties. She saw an analogy to contemporary American when putting a leash on her dog (Friday Night Is All Right For Fighting):

Oh, he’s perfectly fine with having his personal freedoms slowly stripped away, as long as he’s completely unaware that it’s happening. Just like a true American.

Lorelai’s parents identify more with the Bush Administration (Fight Face):

Richard: I should tell Scooter Libby about this. I keep forgetting I know a man on the inside. I’ll give him a call.
Emily: Before an indictment comes down.

Lorelai rejects her rich parents, and identifies George Bush with them. When she came into some money (Happy Birthday, Baby) her views were apparent. “Seventy-five thousand dollars. I feel so rich. And suddenly in complete agreement with everything Bush has to say.”

Lorelei has also influenced the way in which her daughter Rory sees Republicans (One’s Got Class and the Other One Dyes):

Lorelai: So, I think I’m in touch with the other side.
Rory: The other side of. . .
Lorelai: The other side.
Rory: With Republicans?

The final season, without Amy Sherman-Palladino, was disappointing at times, but it was far better than not being able to vist Stars Hollow at all. The post discussed above also included previous posts on Gilmore Girls from earlier blogs. Under the fold I’ll repost one of these–an article from Esquire on why Gilmore Girls is the best show on television for men.

Update: The Finale


Kerry Verifies Earlier Reports That Talk of Running as VP Began with McCain

Last year I had a post (reprinted under the fold) reporting speculation that the rumors that John McCain had been asked to be John Kerry’s running mate actually started with McCain. MyDD has posted an interview with John Kerry in which Kerry reports that it was McCain who had approached him:

Jonathan Singer: There’s a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain’s people — John Weaver — had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don’t remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom… if there was any “there” there.

John Kerry: I don’t know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active — let’s put it that way.

Singer: Okay. And just to confirm, you said it, but this is something they approached you rather than…

Kerry: Absolutely correct. John Weaver of his shop… [JK aswers phone]

As McCain is unlikely to give an honest answer, we may never know for sure if McCain was really investigating the possbility of running with Kerry, or if this was just a ploy to get the media to run stories that this was under consideration to boost his reputation.

Two related posts I previously wrote at The Democratic Daily are reposted below the fold. Note that not only has McCain claimed that Kerry asked him to be running mate, but that McCain has also claimed that Bush has offered tihs. I haven’t been able to find a better source on line, but I also recall old stories in which McCain had claimed that he was Bush’s first choice before Dick Cheney.

The World Explained by Seinfeld

The Financial Times finds that US foreign policy is following the principles of George Costanza. In an episode of Seinfeld, George came up with the idea that his luck with girls would improve if he did the opposite of what his past experience tells him he should do. They found many examples of how the policy in Iraq fits the opposite principle:

The Iraq policy pursued by the Bush administration satisfies the Costanza criterion: it is the opposite of every foreign policy the world has ever met…

First, military and diplomatic resources are finite and should be directed towards your greatest priority. An example of the opposite approach would be for a country that has been attacked by a non-state terrorist group to retaliate by removing a state regime that had nothing to do with the attack.Second, take care not to weaken your intimidatory powers through poor military performance. Aim for short, sharp victories (such as that in the 1991 Gulf war) that get your adversaries worrying about the extent of US power. The opposite would be to launch a war of choice involving the drawn-out occupation of an Arab country – the kind of thing that gets your allies worrying about the limits of US power.

Third, you get by with help from friends. Although the powerful are sometimes tempted to go it alone, international support helps determine the perceived legitimacy of an action, which affects its risk and costs. Building this support requires discussion and compromise. The opposite would be to spurn real negotiations, slough off your allies, bin multilateral agreements you do not like and declare that you are not bound by the rules that govern everyone else.

Fourth, state-building is hard. Few of the international efforts at state-building since the cold war’s end have succeeded. Luckily there are numberless reports identifying lessons learnt. The alternative would be to do the opposite of what those reports recommend, for example by deploying insufficient troops and dismantling any extant national institutions such as the army.

Fifth, democracy is a blessing that requires patient nurturing. The opposite approach would be to seek to impose democracy by force of arms on a population traumatised by decades of vicious and totalitarian rule.

Sixth, politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If two dangerous states are struggling for dominance of a strategic region, maintaining a balance between them may be the least worst option. The opposite would be to emasculate one of them, thereby greatly increasing the relative power of the other.

Finally, historians often cite the need for prudence in international relations, quoting the physician’s dictum: “First, do no harm.” The opposite would be: “Don’t think too much, just chance your arm and see what happens!”


Maryland Passes Plan to Dodge Electoral College

Maryland appears to be the first state to pass a scheme to effectively eliminate the electoral college by getting enough states to agree to give all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote. The measure only takes effect if enough states pass the plan to provide a majority of electoral votes. The plan was passed in California but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. It has passed in one house in Arkansas, Hawaii, and Colorado.

While there are valid arguments for eliminating the electoral college, such a change in how elections are conducted should be done by Constitutional amendment. There is already enough controversy surrounding close elections, and a back door change in a manner such as this will inevitably lead to court battles should the change affect the outcome.

My previous post on the system, posted at The Democratic Daily after the California legislature passed this plan, is reprinted under the fold. (more…)

Kerry Crew Mates Urge Rejection of Fox Nomination

Senate Democrats and Kerry’s Vietnam crew mates are joining John Kerry in opposing the nomination of Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium. AP begins their report saying, “As one of the GOP’s most prominent national fundraisers, Sam Fox should have an easy road to an appealing diplomatic post.” During the hearings Kerry’s questioning made it clear that Fox had no qualifications for the position other than for having raised large amounts of money for Republicans. Under normal circumstances this might have been enough, but Fox made the mistake of donating money to one of the most despicable smear campaigns in modern political history.

Kerry questioned Fox about his contributions to the Swift Boat Liars, with Fox describing Kerry as a hero during the hearings. While right wingers continue to spread unsubstantiated claims which contradict the military record and the testimony of those who witnessed Kerry’s actions, most of those who actually served with John Kerry have substantiated the offical accounts which show that John Kerry deserved his medals. Kerry’s crew mates have sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging members to oppose Fox’s nomination:

With a vote on Fox expected Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry’s Vietnam crew mates on Tuesday sent a letter urging committee members to oppose Fox’s nomination. A copy of the letter was obtained by the Associated Press.

”In our judgment, those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don’t deserve to represent America on the world stage,” said the letter signed by James Rassman and 10 other Vietnam Swift Boat veterans who served with Kerry.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday he opposes the nomination because Fox ”refused to apologize for his behavior” during his confirmation hearing last month.

”U.S. Ambassadors need to be both responsible and credible, and Mr. Fox’s support for an organization known to have spread falsehoods illustrates neither,” said Dodd, who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Among other Democrats on the Committee, Barack Obama was critical of Fox’s actions. Not surprisingly, ex-Democrat Joe Lieberman supported Fox.

Last year I had a series of posts on the Swift Boat Liars and John Kerry’s military record at The Democratic Daily. The posts are reprinted under the fold.

Update: Fox Nomination Withdrawn

24 Examines Constitutional Issues, Upsetting Conservatives

It is best to watch 24 for the pure enjoyment of the show without thinking much about either the reality of the stories or its politics. Neither entirely hold up to close scrutiny. In early seasons conservatives tended to cite the show as an example of their beliefs, although liberals could still sometimes find lessons, such as that, although Jack too quickly turned to torture, the torture rarely provided reliable information in past seasons.

There was some concern about the show’s frequent portrayal of Muslims as the villian to the point where they found it necessary to issue this diclaimer during the fourth season:

Hi. My name is Kiefer Sutherland. And I play counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on Fox’s ‘24’. I would like to take a moment to talk to you about something that I think is very important. Now while terrorism is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism. So in watching 24, please, bear that in mind.”

Jack didn’t bother with issues of warrants, although I suspect this was more a matter of keeping the action moving and the story resolved within twenty-four hours than a conscious desire to disregard such legalities. Craig Crawford noted the similarities between Jack Bauer’s actions and current conservative disregard for civil liberties in 1995:

I have been watching dozens of back episodes of Fox Broadcasting’s “24” over the holidays, and so far I haven’t seen rogue U.S. anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer stop once for a court warrant — not even when he sawed off the head of an informant he was interrogating. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard the Constitution mentioned a single time as Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, repeatedly breaks the rules to thwart terrorist plots.

This is how the President wants us to see the real world. Indeed, George Bush is the Jack Bauer of presidential power. There are no rules in Bush’s world when it comes to the War on Terror — only wimps like the whining bureaucrats on “24” balk at torture, spying, propaganda, whatever it takes.

I guess I am one of those constitutional wimps. Even the reality cop shows get me riled, as we watch the police routinely trample the individual rights of hapless suspects. Maybe we do live in a Jack Bauer world where constitutional liberties take a back seat to stopping killers. But I’d rather live in Patrick Henry’s world: Give me liberty or give me death.

Conservatives still remained big fans of the show last June as the Heritage Foundation hosted a panel discussion on the lessons of 24 in fighting terrorism. (A previous post on this panel is reprinted under the fold.) Liberals also found a reason to be excited by the show last season’s story about President Logan, a rogue President with similarities to both Richard Nixon and George Bush. This season appears to continue this trend, upsetting many conservatives such as Debbie Schlussel. There is conflict between Presidential advisor Thomas Lennoix (Peter McNichol) who “treats the Constitution like a list of suggestions” and those who understand the need to preserve our Constitutional liberties. Detroit Free Press TV critic Mike Duffy wrote:

So in addition to delivering a gangbusters contemporary thriller, executive producer Gordon aims to focus even more this season on such hot-button, post-9/11 topical issues as torture, ethnic profiling and the erosion of civil rights.

“All the terrible byproducts that come from a desperate population is what we try to convey,” notes Gordon.

Of course, in addition to being the scarred victim of torture, Jack Bauer has often been the one delivering agonizing pain in an attempt to extract vital information.

“Sometimes in the rare ticking time bomb context of ’24’… some sort of coercive interrogation is sometimes called for,” explains Gordon. “That said, Jack pays a terrible price. We see the cumulative wear on his soul, and never more than this season.”

Over the years, “24” has occasionally been criticized for trying to have it both ways, using torture as a topical talking point … and torture as entertainment.

“We’re far more sensitive to it than we’ve ever been and really, really would seek not to trivialize it in the storyline,” insists Gordon.

Ironically, despite the apparently more liberal philosophy of the show, Sunday’s episode provided one of the rare incidents in which torture did provide meaningful information, except in this case it was done by a Muslim after Jack uncharacteristically backed down. Most likely the show will continue to provide incidents which liberals and conservatives can both agree and disagree with, and all must remember that this is essentially escapist fantasy and not evidence for any political viewpoint.

Update: Not all conservatives are upset about the discussion of Constitutional issues on 24. Right Wing Nut House differes from many conservative bloggers in writing:

But after all, it is a just a television show. And despite the extremely serious nature of the civil liberties vs. security debate perhaps, in the end, it may be that reducing the complex arguments for and against extraordinary security measures to one line sophisms is the best way to get a national conversation going on the topic. Goodness knows we need it. Too often, when it comes to discussing this vital issue, people have been talking past each other rather than trying to come to some kind of consensus on the best way forward.