Wow. Even after nearly five years of watching Dear Leader manipulate the country with fear-based, crippling and abusive language I have to admit to being stunned by the depths to which he sank today during his press conference. I know that other sites are going to do good jobs of picking out all the gaffes and lies, the strawmen, the non-answers, the bullying and the less-than-eloquent syntax ("because it enables us to move faster and quicker, and that's important"). I'm going to do some of that too but I mostly want to point the most egregious examples of what Dr. Reanna Brooks calls establishing a negative framework because the more coverage this technique gets, the less effective it will be. Here's Brooks on the term "negative framework":
Poll after poll demonstrates that Bush's political agenda is out of step with most Americans' core beliefs. Yet the public, their electoral resistance broken down by empty language and persuaded by personalization, is susceptible to Bush's most frequently used linguistic technique: negative framework. A negative framework is a pessimistic image of the world. Bush creates and maintains negative frameworks in his listeners' minds with a number of linguistic techniques borrowed from advertising and hypnosis to instill the image of a dark and evil world around us. Catastrophic words and phrases are repeatedly drilled into the listener's head until the opposition feels such a high level of anxiety that it appears pointless to do anything other than cower.
- After September the 11th, one question my administration had to answer was, using the authorities I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking us again?
We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to Al Qaida here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks.
- I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill our American citizens.
- The terrorists want to strike America again. And they hope to inflict even greater damage than they did on September the 11th.
- In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment.
- The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.
You've got to understand, and I hope the American people understand, there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they're very dangerous.
- This is an enemy which is quick and it's lethal. And sometimes we have to move very, very quickly. But if there is a need based upon evidence, we will take that evidence to a court in order to be able to monitor calls within the United States.
That answer wins, among stiff competition, my award for the Most Insidious Answer of the day. As I'm sure you've seen pointed out a million times already, FISA doesn't slow down the process of monitoring or detecting or anything mentioned in Dear Leader's ramblings. What he's setting up here is a 24 World where we believe that there are Arab madmen lurking in our cabinets and in our wive's blouses ready to detonate a nuclear device in downtown Major City, U.S.A. If he can get us to internalize this kind of thinking, then everything is on the table: warrant-free domestic spying, abolition of the 4th Amendment, due process, torture ... you name it. But I digress. There's scaring to do.
- Again, any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, "Here's what they do. Adjust." This is a war.
I'm going to digress again to mention the winner of my award for the biggest opening ignored by the corporate media. The next question was about the faulty intelligence that allegedly drew us into BushCo's War. BushCo answered, in part, this way:
First of all, I can understand why people were -- you say, "Well, wait a minute: Everybody thought there was weapons of mass destruction; there weren't any." I felt the same way.
We'd looked at the intelligence and felt certain that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You know, intelligence agencies around the world felt the same way, by the way.
Members of the United States Congress looked at the National Intelligence Estimate, the same intelligence estimate I looked at, and came to the same conclusion.
So in other words, there was a universal feeling that he had weapons of mass destruction. As a matter of fact, it was so universal that the United Nations Security Council passed numerous resolutions.
And so, when the weapons weren't there, like many Americans, I was concerned and wondered why.
No member of the flock followed up with the obvious: If the intelligence was so convincing that it was able to warrant starting a war and yet so flawed, doesn't that mistake then make the provisions set up in FISA even more important when we're talking about spying on American citizens? Isn't it possible for flawed and convincing evidence to be used against innocent Americans?
Dear Leader continued and in one of the longest filibusters of the day, made the mistake of relating this "amazing" story. Or, at least it would have been a mistake if anyone in the assembled flock had mentioned the irony that was impossible to miss:
We had people, first-time voters -- or voters in the Iraqi election come in to see me in the Oval. They had just voted that day and they came in. It was exciting to talk to people.
And one person said, "How come you're giving Saddam Hussein a trial?"
I said, "First of all, it's your government, not ours."
She said, "He doesn't deserve a trial. You know, he deserves immediate death for what he did to my people."
And it just struck me about how strongly she felt about the need to not have a rule of law, that there needed to be quick retribution, that he didn't deserve it.
And I said to her, "Don't you see that the trial itself stands in such contrast to the tyrant that that in itself is a victory for freedom and a defeat for tyranny, just the trial alone, and it's important that there be rule of law?"
At that point, I needed to step away from the television. I was having an acute and painful attack of deja vu. This isn't the first time that we've heard about the value of show procedures. Think back a year ago when Iraqis first went to the polls and Dear Leader told us that "just the fact that they're voting is enough." I expect to hear the same rationalizing when the people of Haiti are ordered to participate in their sham elections. And, of course, we've been voting on unverifiable machines for six years now without batting an eye. There's no business like show business.
Dear Leader continued the Threatdown:
- But also, this is a different era, different war. It's a war where people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent.
I know I keep interupting the terror alerts but the next question came from reliable BushCo mouthpiece, David Sanger, whom BushCo pretended to dislike. Sanger, always willing to give Dear Leader a boost, wondered why BushCo was having such a hard time convincing the world that Iran needs to be invaded. After all, we've got that laptop that's been discredited. BushCo again gave the flock a chance to point out the drawbacks of a dictatorship:
I think where it is going to be most difficult to make the case is in the public arena. People will say, you know, if we're trying to make the case on Iran, you know, "Well, the intelligence failed in Iraq; therefore, how can we can trust the intelligence in Iran?"
The sheep again ignored the opportunity. Maybe they were thinking about all the imminent dangers that surround them and how Dear Leader is all that stands between them and annihilation. But then one brave lamb stepped up and, to use a phrase that BushCo has clearly come to loathe, connected the dots:
I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a president during wartime.
And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we're going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?
BushCo flung some presidential poo:
BUSH: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of unchecked power.
BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.
There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters.
BUSH: There is oversight. We're talking to Congress all the time.
And on this program, to suggest there's unchecked power is not listening to what I'm telling you. I'm telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.
This is an awesome responsibility, to make decisions on behalf of the American people. And I understand that. And we'll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor a program such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we're protecting the civil liberties of the United States.
To say "unchecked power" basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject.
To ask him about the implications of executive orders that violate federal law and the Constitution is to not listen to what he is saying, which is that if the President is doing it, it isn't against the goddamn law. Don't any of these punks know their history? L'etat c'est moi and all that shit.
Back to the scare-a-thon:
- I mentioned in my radio address -- my live TV radio address -- that there were two killers in San Diego making phone calls prior to the September the 11th attacks. Had this program been in place then, it is more likely we would have been able to catch them.
- But they're making phone calls from the United States overseas, talking about -- who knows what they're talking about, but they ended up killing -- being a part of the team that killed 3,000 Americans.
- No, I'm not going to talk about that, because it would help give the enemy notification and/or perhaps signal to them methods and uses and sources. And we're not going to do that.
It's really important for people to understand that the protection of sources and the protections of methods and how we use information to understand the nature of the enemy is secret.
And the reason it's secret is because, if it's not secret, the enemy knows about it, and if the enemy knows about it, it adjusts.
And, again, I want to repeat what I said about Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the attack that killed 3,000 Americans.
- Now, if you don't think there's an enemy out there, then I can understand why you ought to say, "Just tell us all you know." I happen to know there's an enemy there. And the enemy wants to attack us.
- Secondly, if people want to play politics with the Patriot Act, it's -- well, let me just put it, it's not in the best interests of the country.
That one had to be seen to be believed. His body language was very threatening and the pause was long enough for the listener to fill it with all sorts of dire threats before BushCo finished with the vague prediction of catastrophe if he isn't freed from every restriction beyond his own judgment and briefing Congress a dozen times in five years. He scared me, not because I think that he can protect us, but because I was worried about what he was plannning to do to people who dared to get in his way.
And then, mercifully, it ended. Look, I have to give Dear Leader's PR team credit. They one-two'd us last night and this morning hoping for a knock-out. Last night we the people heard from Humble Daddy, who knows that mistakes have been made but is asking us for just a little more time to turn things around. Humble Daddy asks us to understand that he may not be perfect but he's our only Daddy and so he is the only person fit to protect us from the Big Bad. This morning, on stage in front of his favorite whipping boys and neutered lapdogs, we got to see Angry Daddy, who doesn't like his "methods, sources and uses" questioned because it gives the advantage to our invisible enemies. Angry Daddy doesn't ask. Angry Daddy tells. And he's telling us through the cowed and complicit corporate media that to disagree with him is a "shameful act" that empowers our enemies who "want to hit us again."