Thursday, October 04, 2007


Every once in awhile, someone writes in the North Texas Daily (the school paper at the University of North Texas) something so stupid that I just have to write a full-length response.

This is one of those times.

Below is my rebuttal, which I also posted in the comments, to this NT Daily article titled "Liberals greater threat to country than government" (NOTE: The author's comments are in bold and my comments are in italics.):

First of all, I agree both about the irony of the title and Schroder's false linkage of Siddiqi to the Democratic Party. Now let's take him to task:
It is amazing to see the level of immaturity in Mr. Siddiqi's article published in the NT Daily. Let's start with his first sentence: "As an American citizen, I understand that there are certain organizations that are constantly seeking to dismantle the very liberties that define me as such." Well, he is right about that, but he blames the wrong "organization." It is not Bush; it is the liberal, Democrat Party. Some examples: hate crime legislation that criminalizes thought...
Hate crimes legislation does not "criminalize thought" anymore than any normal criminal proceeding would. What it allows for is prejudice to be taken into account in determining a sentence, the same way that a person's thought process is normally analyzed when considering a crime (crimes of passion, premeditation, mental state, etc.). While Schroder references a Supreme Court decision later on in his article, he fails to mention that the Supreme Court upheld state hate crimes statutes for this very reason. taxes that limit everyone's freedom to live their lives how they choose...
I assume you mean "new taxes" not "news taxes." (Can we tax FOX News for its false reporting?)

While no one likes tax increases, most recognize there can be greater priorities, such as paying for a costly war (the Bush years are the first time in history taxes have ever been cut during wartime; it amazes that conservatives ask young men and women to sacrifice their lives for what they see as a worthy cause in Iraq, but won't ask everyone else - particularly the wealthy - to finance it).

During the 2000 election, polls showed that most Americans favored using the historic Clinton surplus to pay down our national debt and increase domestic spending for health care, education, Social Security and Medicare solvency, etc. Instead, the Bush administration gave tax cuts to mostly the wealthiest Americans, turning that surplus into a historic deficit, at the expense of middle and lower income Americans who have seen the cost of health care, college tuition, and just about everything else rise.

Meanwhile, we are borrowing billions of dollars from China to make up for it (ironically, so Americans can turn around and spend the borrowed money on poisoned-products from China that have destroyed our labor market here in the U.S.). Of course, some day they are going to come collect. Way to be a man and push your debt on to your kids, Kyle.
...limiting the ability to choose your health insurance provider by instituting socialized medicine and a complete lack of understanding a free market economy...
On the contrary, it is precisely our understanding of the free market that leads us to favor universal health care. And we are not alone: According to recent poll, 55% of Americans favor "national coverage administered by the government and paid for by taxes," even if those taxes had to be raised. Why? Because they have seen health care costs skyrocket. In fact, the US spends more of its GDP than any other industrialized nation on health care and we receive less of it. Furthermore, people understand that private insurance companies by their very nature have every incentive to deny people's health care claims because it helps them retain profits. This means that even if you are lucky enough to have coverage (47 million Americans don't and millions more have so little coverage it barely makes a difference), it doesn't necessarily mean you get taken care of.

See, we aren't getting the right amount of bang for our buck. As a money-lovin' conservative, you should love universal health care. Because administrative costs would be drastically cut, the amount of taxes you'd pay for a "Medicare for All" system would be less than the health care premiums you pay with private insurance now. I don't know about you, but if someone gives me a choice between something called a "tax" and something called a "premium," my only question is going to be: which is less? Even big business now realizes the folly of their past opposition to single-payer health care, since the cost of taking care of their employees' health insurance makes them less competitive against foreign companies who don't have to worry about it all.

Americans understand that Republican congressmen would never, ever give up their government-supplied health insurance and pensions despite what they say about the dangers of "socialized medicine." That's why 72% of Americans want the State Children's Health Insurance Program to be expanded and why Bush's veto will cost Republicans dearly in the 2008 elections. Keep up the good work!
In the third paragraph, he states that "probable cause is no longer required for the acquisition of personal records." The Fourth Amendment is still alive and well. The FBI has to show probable cause to a federal judge before any search warrant is granted. The FBI does retain the right to use the National Security Letter to obtain financial and phone records of individuals who are suspected of terrorism, but this program dates back to the 1970s, and since the case "Doe v. Ashcroft," Congress has oversight and control of this program.
On the contrary, while Congress receives reports on the issuance on NSLs, it has little "control" over them, as in none. Before the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI could use NSLs only for securing the records of suspected terrorists or spies. Now the FBI can use them to get private records about anybody it likes. And the FBI can act independently; whereas before only the Attorney General or a Deputy AG could authorize an NSL, now any local FBI office can do it. In other words, there is no requirement to seek judicial review or any approval prior to issuance of an NSL and, accordingly, abuse has been rampant:
Siddiqi also states that "probable cause is no longer necessary for domestic wiretapping." The NSA is governed by the FISA court, which must approve any wiretap for communications in the United States, but the problem arises when foreign suspects communicate on the Internet by using e-mail or an Internet phone service like Skype. The majority of Internet traffic is routed through America, so it limits the ability of the NSA to eavesdrop on foreign suspects. Google "McConnell puts human face on FISA debate."
Well, of course, the problem with the Bush administration's NSA program was that they weren't following the guidelines of the 1978 FISA law (read: they weren't getting FISA approval). As you would say, "Well duh" that is why they call it "warrant-less wiretapping!" No one is against foreign surveillance as long as it is legal and contains judicial oversight over the executive branch. Anything less is asking for abuse. In fact, the abuse that went on prior to the '78 law is why it was enacted in the first place! But the Bush administration's belief in unrestrained executive power has caused them to ignore this in violation of not just the statute, but our constitution.

Whether you like President Bush or not, do you want a future Democratic president to have this kind of power? Republicans certainly didn't when Bill Clinton was in office, which is why they argued against many of the executive measures they now support. This shouldn't be about partisanship. This kind of centralization of power is exactly what the Founders feared and what our forefathers fought the Revolutionary War against.
You see, the jihadists mutilate and sever the heads of U.S. servicemen who fall into enemy hands. The Gitmo detainees are fed three meals a day, have full medical access, get Qurans and are allowed to exercise daily. The government has been working to release some of these enemy combatants, but many of their home countries refuse to take them, not to mention that several of them, upon release, have reverted back to terrorism. Google Abdullah Mehsud.
There have been physical abuses in Gitmo (similar to Abu Ghraib), but the main abuse is the lack of any lawful system. Prisoners have been kept for years not knowing what they are being held for and without access to lawyers of speedy trials. Most importantly, they are unable to challenge their detention in courts, meaning that there's basically no oversight of what is going on there. The fact that there have been, and still are, innocents and children in Guantanamo can not be overlooked. The releases that have happened have been based more on who has been able to exert the most diplomatic pressure, as opposed to any reasoned process.

As a consequence of all this, Guantanamo Bay is a stain on our national honor that is increasing discontent against the U.S. in the Muslim world and driving them to terrorism - precisely why Secretary of Defense Robert Gates keeps telling Bush to close it down. The 2006 Military Commissions Act should be repealed and detainees should be brought into the full light of the legal system (courts-martial in accordance with the UCMJ would do), so we can prevent executive abuses.

Simply not being as bad as cutting off people's heads is hardly the bar of justice that the United States should aspire to. It is certainly not the country I was born in, nor the one I think you joined the military to protect.
And finally, he attacks the rich. There is nothing wrong with being rich. Earning money and hard work go hand in hand. If you look at the richest people in America, you will find that in most cases they are the hardest and most disciplined workers. If you Google "Historical Effective Tax Rates: 1979-2004," you will find that the top 1 percent of wage earners in the U.S. pay 36.7 percent of the income tax and that the top 10 percent of earners pay almost 71 percent of the taxes. Siddiqi wants to punish hard workers and reward the lazy in order to fulfill some utopian dream of equality. Siddiqi's arguments are easily debunked with a little research. His arguments represent the false and petty arguments of the liberals in America today.
Again, where do you get this stuff? A McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent in just Bush's first term in office. 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people have been pushed into deep poverty - the highest rate since 1975.

The idea that the rich are rich because they work hard and everyone else is just lazy is the most ridiculous argument you've made yet. Wages and job growth have lagged and the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. The income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for seven straight years! When corporate executives are making billions of dollars in bonuses even when their companies have failed to keep their worker's pensions, America has failed. The least they can do is pay their fair share in taxes. The idea that the widening gap between rich and poor in this country isn't important is quite simply absurd.

Indeed, the only "false and petty" arguments I see here are yours.


Nat-Wu said...

Great job. That just goes to show that all any progressive needs are facts and the truth. It pretty much destroys conservative talking points.

Xanthippas said...

Reality does indeed have a well-known liberal bias.

Honestly, where do they get this stuff? I know liberal/progressive blogs often sound like echo chambers, but at least we don't completely make our shit up.