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Condemning free speech
Posted: 21 September 2007 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Is everyone as outraged as I am about yesterday’s US Senate resolution condemning MoveOn.org for its “Petraeus or betray us?” ad? The Senate’s action is a direct assault on our freedom. Since when does the US Senate “condemn” citizens for speaking out?

Equally reprehensible is Bush’s role in this dog-and-pony show. He made similar comments at his press conference yesterday, and of course it was his act bringing Petraeus into the political arena that started this fiasco. We’ve come to expect reprehensible and un-American conduct from this president and his lackeys, but we cannot afford to do that. In addition to everything else, he has breached the wall separating the military from its civilian leadership.

I urge everyone to contact every person and organization you can think of to protest this despicable behavior by our elected officials.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The condemnation is a symbolic act that in no way, shape or form infringes on (let alone “assaults”) anyone’s right of free speech. 

So on the one hand, you have a problem with members of Congress symbolically exercising their freedom of speech to condemn a group that basically called an honest and honorable military general—who is well-respected by both democrats and republicans—a traitor (“betray” implies he betrayed the citizens and nation, hence a traitor) before they even heard the report and with absolutely no proof whatsoever that he “cooked the books” for anyone.

But, on the other hand, you apparently have no problem in either the original act of what was clearly defamation and/or your symbolic act of condemning those who condemned the ones who committed the act of defamation in the first place.
It’s not like any of the folks at MoveOn.org were rushed by multiple cops, zapped with a taser, arrested and face up to 5 years in prison for what they said in their ad all while a very powerful political figure looked on!  Now if something like that were to ever happen, then you might have a case that someone’s free speech was being assaulted.

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There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

—James Madison

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Posted: 21 September 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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“honest and honorable”???

that’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

Even before he spoke it should have been obvious that honesty would not follow considering Congress refused to swear him in under oath… (see Ray Mcgovern who was kicked out for speaking out on that while Betrayus’ microphone wasnt working). Plus there has already been ample amounts of stuff written on the BS of his testimonies to Congress.

As for honorable. What is so honorable about participating in a crime and then being a lap dog for the architects?

What Congress did in response to the ad just showed what kind of stance they have on this war and it was an outrage. They are still not only refusing to acknowledge the simple fact that this is a war of aggression, which under US law could mean the death penalty for the wagers of this aggression, but that the realities of it will continue to be ignored - regardless of the party. There “vote” showed just how much these two parties are two heads that share the same body.

Swear Him In!
by Ray McGovern
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/11/3755/

Facts Belie Petraeus’ Case, Say Humanitarian Groups
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/14/3829/

What Crocker and Petraeus Didn’t Say
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/11/3766/

Denying the Truth: Petraeus, Iraq, and Our Pontius Pilate Press
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/11/3774/

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Posted: 21 September 2007 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Honestly, all I can say about that resolution is, “At least they’ve learned from the mistake of not marginalizing the radical right.”

A short list of real civil liberties concerns in the US includes police brutality, excessive and discriminatory sentences, the Patriot Act, FISA, habeas corpus, torture, the War on Drugs, and arbitrary jailings of illegal immigrants. How the Senate responds to shrill ads doesn’t really register.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Must say it also strikes me as a very unfortunate but essentially meaningless bit of political photo-oppery. It isn’t about free speech though; it’s about the senators wanting to register their disapproval of the content of MoveOn’s ads. Basically it’s political posturing. But Alon is right—it simply ends up pandering to the Fox News neanderthals.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I admit I’m surprised by these responses. Senatorial resolutions may not have the force of law, but we have seen in recent years how political pressure is used to stifle dissent. Surely “condemn” is a strong word, completely inappropriate given the power dynamics between the US Senate and a private political organization.

Shall the Senate also condemn Ann Coulter for her many outrageous remarks? Shall the power of Congress now be used to put pressure on private citizens and their organizations? Who gets hacked by this sort of thing except those groups that are least popular? Will newspapers, radio and TV stations come under pressure not to accept their advertising? The First Amendment requires a law and an abridgement; perhaps this is neither, but it is likely to have the chilling effect on speech that the Supreme Court has long recognized as a key test on constitutionality.

The key point for me is that this is yet another step on the road to tyranny in the USA. The symbolic quality of the act does not diminish its effects. When speech becomes culturally unacceptable, freedom and democracy are as dead as if the Constitution formally forbade speech. In fact, that’s why countries like Iran can’t get to a Constitution. Culturally it’s beyond the pale. That is the direction in which this heads us, another few steps. The Senate just announced that MoveOn’s views are beyond the pale, and there’s no claim of national security to provide even plausible justification for doing that. If that’s where we’re going to go in American political discourse—- official pronouncements, formally voted on by the national legislature—- saying what is appropriate for us citizens to write or say, we’re only a stone’s throw away from dictatorship.

On the merits, I think MoveOn.org is right. Petraeus’ “report” was an obvious set-up job by an administration that wants unilateral control over every branch of government. He should have had the integrity to refuse to participate in the snow job. There’s no way George W. Bush would have been trumpeting his name these past several months if he hadn’t known in advance what the “findings” were going to be. We didn’t have direct evidence that Nixon was lying for quite a while either, but we knew it as sure as the day was long. When a man is as dishonest and as politically motivated as W has proved himself to be, it’s obvious when he’s setting up the outcome of the game.

[ Edited: 21 September 2007 11:48 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 21 September 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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PLaClair, I agree with the substance of your argument. The Senate certainly should “condemn” Ann Coulter for her remarks, certainly long before doing so for these MoveOn ads ... and rhetoric aside, MoveOn is right about the snow job as well. Basically Bush is trying to run out the clock on his presidency, and leave the mess in Iraq to the next President, who he can then conveniently blame for the mess that Bush himself is responsible for.

But one should remember that the word “condemn” in a congressional resolution is little more than boilerplate. It’s political posturing. I agree that the resolution is very unfortunate, but much more important is getting a filibuster-proof number of Senators to agree to uphold habeas corpus, and to withdraw the troops from Iraq at the earliest point reasonably possible, or to cease funding the war. Those would be more meaningful actions.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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personally, I think the real pandering, undermining and enabling of the war machine comes from the “moderates” who water down, compormise or take “pragmatic” and irrational positions based on the fear of upsetting the dominating class. Ya basta!

MoveOn has been disappointing me for a long time and the FINALLY did something to redeem themselves! They should take it even further, in my opinion.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Ann Coulter is representing a dying movement. The time to criticize her officially was in 1998. Subsequently, the Republicans briefly regained control of all three branches of government, governed to the base instead of to the center, failed miserably, and got kicked out of Congress for it. For Congress to spend any effort curtailing shrill conservatism is like for a pro-science organization to publish articles against post-modernism. Just like post-modernism is a far lesser threat to science than right-wing thinktanks, so is shrill conservatism a lesser threat to American politics than shrill liberalism. Right now the shrill right is still bigger than the shrill left, but it’s in decline while the shrill left is ascendant.

In 1980, right-wing thinktanks were a pretty small movement, too, far smaller than post-modernism or the notion that the literary canon was all about dead white men. The center made the mistake then of not rejecting that movement explicitly; it probably would’ve, had Carter been a better President. Fortunately, it’s not repeating the same mistake with the left, Bush or no Bush.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I should say that one person who does appear to be suggesting we limit free speech is Rudy Giuliani. Check THIS out:

[quote author=“Rudy Guiliani”]So to attack the man’s integrity, and honesty, and decency, is in my view indecent. It passed a line that we should not allow American political organizations to pass.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Alon writes, “In 1980, right-wing thinktanks were a pretty small movement, too, far smaller than post-modernism or the notion that the literary canon was all about dead white men. The center made the mistake then of not rejecting that movement explicitly; it probably would’ve, had Carter been a better President. Fortunately, it’s not repeating the same mistake with the left, Bush or no Bush.”

I hope you’re right about what this represents. My fear is that the left will always be kept down, and the monied interests will ensure that right-wing think tanks are always funded and always powerful. Time will tell.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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PLaClair,

unless we do things to alter the structure of society your fear will be correct - “the left will always be kept down, and the monied interests will ensure that right-wing think tanks are always funded and always powerful.”

so long as “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business” (John Dewey) then nothing will change. “The structure is set. You’ll never change it with a ballot pull.” (Zack de la Rocha)

i mean, it’s a no brainer. why should “monied interest” align themselves with the Left; why sacrifice short-term monetary gain for the welfare of others? You dont have to get a degree in business management to see why.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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truthaddict,

I know. Orwell told us all this nearly 60 years ago, and Chayefsky told us again thirty years ago.

Bellies are full. The feelies are in place, and the machines hardly ever break town. The trains run on time. Who wants to upset the apple cart?

Maybe the answer is the course most people have taken. You can’t swim against the tide, so try to ride it and live out your life before it all comes crashing down, the entire ocean, all at once, on you and everyone you love. Maybe you’ll get lucky and die first.

Maybe the people with the power (a/k/a money and property) care enough about themselves to keep the rest of us floating along with them—- maybe—- some of us, anyway—- after all, they’ll need a few of us—- sometimes—- to a point. Someone has to make their beds and shine their shoes and take out their garbage. If we’re really lucky, maybe we’ll get a job cleaning their house.

Now that’s not like me. I’m a fighter and I don’t take bullshit, which I think I’ve proved. So the question is: how.

Got any ideas? I admit it, I don’t.

“We’re in a helluva lotta trouble.”—- Howard Beals, a true Prophet

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Gotta love liberals!  They love diversity in everything except in thought and opinion!

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There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

—James Madison

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Rocinante - 21 September 2007 04:17 PM

Gotta love liberals!  They love diversity in everything except in thought and opinion!

And the conservatives? Did you read Giuliani’s statement?

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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1.) I’m not a conservative.

2.)  I would expect an Administrator associated with a site allegedly devoted to logical thinking to be above resorting to Tu Quoque fallacies.

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There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

—James Madison

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