Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, February 13th, 2006.


Where’s Dick?

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney

Dead-Eye Dick is nowhere to be found. He hasn’t spoken to the press or the public since The Incident.

That is beyond strange, people. No politician in my memory would have behaved like this. Any politician in my memory would have hustled to be sure his version of what happened was the first version the press heard. If he wasn’t able to get in front of cameras himself, he would have had a spokesperson hold a press conference asap. The politician or his surrogates might have been lying, but he certainly wouldn’t have gone into hiding without issuing a statement.

Dan Froomkin writes,

Why isn’t Dick Cheney on TV right now?

The vice president of the United States shoots someone in a hunting accident and rather than immediately come clean to the public, his office keeps it a secret for almost a whole day. Even then, it’s only to confirm a report in a local paper.

And still from the White House, no details, no apologies, and no Cheney.

The excuses: The veep’s first concern was getting medical help for Mr. Whittington. What, did the veep assist in surgery? I can undetstand waiting for a doctor’s prognosis, but by all accounts there was a prognosis late Saturday afternoon. Effects of a shotgun blast aren’t all that hard to diagnose, I suspect.

The other excuse: The White House was waiting to get more information. Lordy, no wonder they couldn’t deal with levee breaks. This story is (I assume) simple: There was an accident. The Vice President accidently shot his friend while hunting. The friend will be fine. The veep is real sorry. You can throw in the Official Story — the friend stepped into the veep’s line of fire. If more details come to light we will share them.

Yet something as simple as a hunting accident seems to have confounded them. The White House is struggling just to get its story straight about who knew what, when; and who told what to whom. The veep cannot pull himself together to even issue a statement. This is exceeding strange.

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Let’s See How the Righties Bury This One

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National Security, Valerie Plame, Weapons of Mass Destruction

Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story reports that the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson “caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad.”

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame’s work. Their accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program.

I’d like to see this corroborated by other news sources before filing it away as “proven fact.” But we already know, even if righties won’t admit it, that the disclosure of Plame Wilson’s status as a CIA agent damaged American intelligence gathering efforts. Dafna Linzer reported in the Washington Post (October 29, 2005):

More than Valerie Plame’s identity was exposed when her name appeared in a syndicated column in the summer of 2003.

A small Boston company listed as her employer suddenly was shown to be a bogus CIA front, and her alma mater in Belgium discovered it was a favored haunt of an American spy. At Langley, officials in the clandestine service quickly began drawing up a list of contacts and friends, cultivated over more than a decade, to triage any immediate damage.

Also,

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted.

This is significant, because Bob Woodward claimed on Larry King Live that the CIA had done a damage assessment and found no significant damage. The Right, of course, accepted Woodward’s word as gospel and has also claimed all along that Plame Wilson’s status wasn’t really classified.

Of course, no evidence is solid enough to persuade righties that their Plame Wilson mythology is wrong. Righties will tell you that Plame Wilson’s CIA status was not classified, even though the CIA itself has been saying all along that it was. In the February 13 issue of Newsweek we read “The CIA Leak: Plame Was Still Covert“:

… special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done “covert work overseas” on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA “was making specific efforts to conceal” her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge’s opinion.

Did that settle anything. Of course not. The rightie Byron York of NRO, for example, questions (in some nicely overpadded prose) if the judge actually knew what he was talking about. This gives the Righties a slim reed of an excuse to hang on to their belief in Plame Wilson’s non-classified status. But they will hang on to that reed with everything they’ve got.

If we get corroboration of Alexandrovna’s, watch to see what excuse the righties dig up to ignore it.

See alsoBetrayed by the White House.”

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Oops

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Bush Administration, conservatism, War on Terror

I doubt this was intentional — I just pulled this screen capture off Memeorandum:

Two news items collide — at the top, a pack of righties attack Al Gore for speaking frankly to a mainly Saudi audience about mistreatment of Arabs in America after 9/11. Judging from the reaction of the righties, you’d have thought Al had announced his engagement to Osama bin Laden.

Among the headlines: “The Gorebot: attacking America from the fountainhead of jihad”; “Al of Arabia”; “Al Gore Slanders America” (that’s our gal Michelle Malkin); and “Al Gore Sells Out to the Saudis” (Captain Ed).

The news stories following: “Report: U.S. Is Abusing Captives” and “UN inquiry demands immediate closure of Guantanamo.”

I got a kick out of the accidental juxtaposition, although to be fair the juxtaposed stories are about two different incidents of abuse. Of the first (from the Associated Press)

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been “indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.”

Which is true — the bleeping U.S. Department of Justice issued a report admitting it’s true — and which I doubt was news to the audience. Righties seem to think that all “foreigners” are stupid and will not know anything about our treatment of them unless we explain it to them. But all human being appreciate not being treated like idiots. Mr. Gore’s talk probably did more to assure Arabs we can be honest and reasonable than all of Karen Hughes’s pathetic efforts combined.

(What makes this speech treasonous in rightie minds is that Al Gore delivered it to an Arab audience. These same people razz Gore for everything he says in this country, too, however. According to the Right, “Al Gore speaking” is, by definition, treasonous.)

Oh, and speaking of “the fountainhead of jihad,” the Associated Press reported Saturday (via Avedon) that

A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

The Bush administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World’s purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

And Republicans ask if we can trust Democrats to keep us safe from terrorism. Snort.

The second news story is about treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Maggie Farley of the Los Angeles Times writes,

A draft United Nations report on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay concludes that the U.S. treatment of them violates their rights to physical and mental health and, in some cases, constitutes torture.

It also urges the United States to close the military prison in Cuba and bring the captives to trial on U.S. territory, charging that Washington’s justification for the continued detention is a distortion of international law.

The report, compiled by five U.N. envoys who interviewed former prisoners, detainees’ lawyers and families, and U.S. officials, is the product of an 18-month investigation ordered by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The team did not have access to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

“We have fallen pretty far when the UN is lecturing us on our human rights violations,” says Steve Soto.

From the Telegraph:

The UN Human Rights Commission report, due to be published this week, concludes that Washington should put the 520 detainees on trial or release them.

It calls for the United States to halt all “practices amounting to torture”, including the force-feeding of inmates who go on hunger strike.

Jeanne d’Arc describes this:

Guards have begun strapping detainees into “restraint chairs” like the one pictured to the left, using riot-control soldiers to keep them still (no details on that), and forcing long plastic tubes down their nasal passages and into their stomachs. The tubes are inserted and removed so violently that prisoners bleed and pass out. Too much food is put in the tubes, which causes prisoners to defecate on themselves.

If you’re strapped into a “padded cell on wheels,” while a tube is forced down your nose, that means you’re no longer refusing meals.

This will sully America’s reputation for generations. Yet the righties are up in arms about Al Gore? Amazing.

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A Grand Hypocrisy

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blogging, Bush Administration, conservatism, News Media

Yesterday Glenn Greenwald published a post called “Do Bush followers have a political ideology?” in which he argues that much of the Right has utterly abandoned principle and has devolved into a George W. Bush personality cult. “Whether one is a ‘liberal’ — or, for that matter, a ‘conservative’ — is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views,” Glenn writes, “but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.” It’s a great post, and spot on.

I thought of this post this morning when I ran across this article by Elisabeth Bumiller in today’s New York Times. It begins:

What happens if you’re a Republican commentator and you write a book critical of President Bush that gets you fired from your job at a conservative think tank?

For starters, no other conservative institution rushes in with an offer for your analytical skills.

“Nobody will touch me,” said Bruce Bartlett, author of the forthcoming “Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.” “I think I’m just kind of radioactive at the moment.”

What follows is the sad tale of how Mr. Bartlett, a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant treasury secretary under the first President Bush, became persona non grata in the rightie think tank crowd because of this book. Of course, we’re mostly getting Mr. Bartlett’s side of the story here; could be there are other reasons for his prolonged unemployment. Still …

Glenn writes,

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary “conservative” is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.

This is not hyperbole. These people are frightening. Glenn provides proof in his post. Do a search for “Malkin” on this blog and you’ll find a lot more proof. And, unfortunately, these people have been able to implant their warped worldview on a big chunk of “mainstream media.”

In the comments to Glenn’s post, Jay Rosen notes,

The dynamic you identify–liberal means anyone who questions Bush–was a major factor in the blow-up surrounding the Dec. 10th column by Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, The Two Washington Posts, in which she wrote: “Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s ‘White House Briefing,’ which is highly opinionated and liberal.”

To this day Howell doesn’t realize that she misspoke. She didn’t mean “liberal,” she meant “critical of Bush.” But she doesn’t know it because of the phenomenon you describe here.

Neither she nor the Post reporters who “don’t like” White House Briefing could find in Froomkin’s work any liberal positions taken, because he does not take such positions. He holds Bush accountable and subjects him to rigorous scrutiny, and he certainly doesn’t like the way the White House operates. There’s nothing “liberal” about that.

I wrote about it, and Dan testified about it, here.

On top of that, there is a mindset among the Right that says labeling any opinion “liberal” makes it self-evidently false. One need to argue why it is false, or find flaws in the argument’s logic or presentation. The word “liberal” (or variants thereof, like “leftie”) covers all ground. Glenn discusses this today in a follow-up to yesterday’s post.

Most (though not all) of the responses were quite heavy on name-calling and extremely light on substantive replies to the actual points in the post. More notable than the unsurprising fact that the post prompted lots of name-calling is the specific name-calling insults that were chosen. Almost invariably, bloggers told their readers that what I wrote can be disregarded because I’m just a “leftist” and a “lefty” and a “liberal” spewing forth the “KosHuff” party line.

According to Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse, for instance, my “writing is little more than a tired echo of what conservatives can read on a daily basis at Kos or any other lock-step lefty blog where Bush Derangement Syndrome reigns supreme.” And at Little Green Footballs (more on it below), my post won the award for “Leftist Lie of the Day” and was held up as an example of “dishonest, ethically-challenged childish babbling that passes for leftist ‘debate’ in this modern age.”

So, they label the argument and the person making it “leftist” and “liberal” and – presto! – no more need to address the arguments or consider its substance because it’s all been shooed away with one fell swoop of name-calling cliches.

(Note that Glenn links to Little Green Footballs, which is something I will not do. It just encourages them. If you are all-fired determine to find the site, it isn’t that hard.)

The name-calling phenomenon is old news here. Nearly all rightie comments to The Mahablog are nothing but name-calling. As you regulars know, it is my policy to delete any message that consists of nothing but insults to me or another commenter, which pretty much takes care of most of the right-wing stuff that gets left here. And, nearly always, the poster who gets deleted emails me about it and whines that I should be more broad-minded and willing to listen to other points of view (expressed with more invective, of course). Personal insults, however, do not constitute a “point of view” in my book.

Now, I think it’s true that there are real conservatives Out There who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the Bush Regime. This is something I want to explore in more posts. But if you are looking at most leading bloggers and media spokespeople of the Right, you are looking at Bush culties, not conservatives.

Update: Do Bush supporters hate America?

One of the ignorant nimrods who regularly write to this paper to call me a Marxist argues that those who disagree with the president are delighted to see America fail, that people like me take pleasure in anything that gives comfort to our enemies. He argues that people who question the reckless use of the military are “pacifist military haters.” There is no truth to such baseless and childish nonsense, but he seems to think it sounds persuasive, or perhaps he thinks it’s a kind of logical argument.

That’s one of the reasons it’s difficult not to think some of these Bush supporters are just willfully stupid.

These people grow more tiresome as they have less and less with which to argue. Their recourse, it seems, is to tag people they disagree with by calling them “leftists” and “liberals,” as if those words cancel out all arguments.

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I Am Good

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weather

The Mahamobile (teal ’97 Nissan Sentra) is among the first cars dug out of the snow in the co-op parking lot! Which is a good thing, because the sun is out now and I anticipate a nice melt-freeze cycle.

The NY Times is saying a “record” amount of snow fell in Central Park — 26.9 inches. The previous record, 26.4 inches, dates from 1947.

However, I’m sure this isn’t the biggest snowfall I’ve seen since I’ve lived in the greater New York City metro area. I think the snow has just been missing Central Park.

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