Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Help Our Friends
Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged tells us that Wampum, the wonderful hosts of our Koufax awards have not received enough contributions to pay for the extra bandwidth they've needed these last few weeks and so their ISP pulled the plug.
Julia has their paypal code on her site so everybody head over there immediately and cough up a few bucks. It wouldn't take long to get them what they need.
These are truly good people, whose least laudable good deed is hosting the Koufaxes. If we don't take care of our own we really aren't worth a damn.
digby 2/15/2005 07:32:00 PM
As I sit here listening to two congressmen on Inside Politics drone on about how we must restore civility to politics (now that the GOP controls all branches of government) I'm experiencing one of those rare times when I truly understand why people become Republicans. It's because they have political instincts and we don't. If you are a political animal that is a very compelling trait.
Here is a pretty good example of how the right blogosphere is treating the Manchurian Beefcake story --- from Jonah Goldberg :
Until Jordan quit on Friday, the lefty bloggers were dancing around the victory fire chanting in triumph over bagging this Jeff Gannon guy from Talon News. I'm extending this metaphor too far, I'm sure, but their celebration makes me wonder how so many brave warriors can eat their fill off the carcass of a chipmunk. I confess that at first I thought this sounded like a real story. But it's turned out to be more than a little sad.
Paraphrasing a comment I read somewhere yesterday (apologies to the author) "pay no attention to the naked gay conservative male prostitute sitting in the middle of the family values white house living room." Goldberg affects a jocular dismissiveness for a reason. He knows what a real story is and he knows how they work. And he is trivializing this one because it is actually quite dangerous.
Meanwhile, on the left we have much handwringing by commenters over this not being a "gay" story and how we should concentrate on the national security angle and how it's really about access etc, etc. We too are ignoring the naked, gay conservative prostitute in the midde of the family values white house living room. And this is where they get us.
Perhaps it would be instructive to take another little trip down memory lane. Jonah knows very well what a real story is because he was up to his ears in one of the biggest political sex scandals in history. From Michael Isifkoff's award winning MSM articles on the Lewinsky affair:
There was another guest at Jonah Goldberg's house in the Adams Morgan section of Washington that day. For some months, Newsweek's Isikoff had been in touch with Tripp – "hounding" her, Goldberg claims. Aware that Isikoff knew of rumors that Clinton was having an affair with a former White House staffer, Goldberg suggested to Tripp that she play the tapes for Isikoff. Uncomfortable with the whole taping process, Isikoff declined to listen and left Goldberg's house.
In their many phone conversations that fall, Lewinsky complained to Tripp that she was being neglected by the president... By the fall of 1997, Lewinsky was complaining that Clinton's ardor for her seemed to be cooling. He wasn't calling her much, and he rarely returned her increasingly frantic calls. Lewinsky was restless and bored at the Defense Department.
Isikoff listened later, needless to say. So did the entire country. That little meeting at Jonah's house led to the impeachment of the President of the United States. They came this close to forcing him from office. Goldberg and the entire GOP establishment knew without doubt that they had a story and they were not afraid to lead the media to it by the nose. And just look at what an oozing chunk of soap opera tabloid offal it was.
Fast forward seven short years. We have a man whose biggest cheers on the campaign trail in 2000 were when he would solemnly swear that he would "bring honor and integrity back to the White House" --- and everybody knew very well that he was talking about fellatio in the oval office. After his recent reelection in 2004, stories abounded about how the issues of moral values, the impact of evangelical Christians and, most importantly, the movement to allow gays to marry had tipped the balance in what was a very close election. Now we find out that a conservative gay male prostitute was given highly unusual access to that same family values white house. There isn't a story there?
I hear endless braying about how the Democrats have to "fight back." And yet... we just don't seem to to have the heart to play the raw political game they play.
A Republican's political instincts would tell them instantly that this Manchurian Beefcake story presents an amazingly fertile opportunity to take the Bush White House off message in a way that they clearly despise, sow dissension within the GOP coalition, mitigate a growing moral hazard and most of all, make Republicans around the country examine once again whether their attitudes about gays are really what they think they are.
Number one, it is always a good thing to knock a white house off its message. To do it when the press secretary himself is involved, or seems to be, is even better. In shark infested political waters life doesn't get any better than making phony family values hucksters endlessly repeat phrases like "we didn't know he was a prostitute." First rule --- make them talk about stuff they don't want to talk about. It's very difficult to get them started, but if you get the media lemmings running in the right direction they'll do it.
Second, didn't the religious right just threaten Bush with witholding its support if he backed down on gay marriage? And didn't the president then dutifully put it in the SOTU? Clearly, after Bush declared his support for civil unions and backed off the FMA after the election, the Christian Right is a little bit nervous about his bona fides on the issue. When Kerry and Edwards mentioned that Mary Cheney was a lesbian, a widely known fact, they were attacked in the most bizarre campaign kabuki in memory because the Republicans know that there is a huge chasm in their party developing on this issue. Lynn and Dick are like a lot of Republicans out there --- they have gay family members. And only the most hard core authoritarians like Alan Keyes are willing to disown them for it. (Listen to Lynn Cheney twist herself into a pretzel and then get angry when she's pressed on it here.)
This is an issue that threatens the GOP.The cosmopolitan conservatives and libertarians don't have a problem with gays and yet The Christian Right is building a homophobic crusade. A lot of people in the middle don't know what to think. A party with political instincts would exploit that. It's not a new concept I'm advocating here. It's called "divide and conquor." The Right blogosphere sounds like a bunch of San Francisco ACLU liberals when the issue of Gannon comes up and the smart thing for the left to do is ask the Christian right if they agree with their fellow "conservatives." (I believe that Aravosis has already discussed this.)
It wouldn't be nice and wingnuts will call us hypocrites. (It's a good thing hypocrisy was retired from the political dialog somewhere around the time Virtues "Czar" Big Bill Bennett was laying it all on red, Dave Drier was "dating" Doro Bush and Limbaugh was popping a fistfull of hillbilly heroin or we might have something to worry about.) When the wingnuts complain about how we hate gays, just say "No I don't. And clearly, neither do you. But James Dobson does. Let's go have a chat with him, ok?"
It might just force some of these chickenshit libertarians and GOP urbanites to show their true colors and get some GOP parents and siblings of gay people to face up to what they are doing. Can anyone believe that there is no value in showing the country that many of the highest level Republicans in the Bush Administration are actually quite tolerant of gays? Doesn't that move our agenda forward?
I don't believe that we advance the cause of gay rights by allowing the right to have it both ways, which they clearly do. We have a tittilating tabloid story, replete with nude pictures and prostitution, that illustrates the fact that they are merely pandering to the religious right on this issue. It would be too bad if we are too squeamish to pursue it because that is exactly what the other side is counting on.
Finally, the biggest reason to pursue this story is because we are creating a terrible moral hazard if we don't. The Republicans have no incentive to stop the politics of personal destruction if we don't hold them to their own standards and they continue to be rewarded. Pitchers, batters and Republicans understand this instinctively. So should we.
When I read things like this, I just despair. Folks we can put on a better show than this, we really can.
Update: And if anybody wants to know why this really, really matters beyond partisan politics and jockeying for power, I think Rude Pundit gets it right.
digby 2/15/2005 03:05:00 PM
You Like Me, You Really Like Me
Kevin Drum and Eugene Volokh wonder why actors can't play smarter political activists. Kevin thinks they are lazy and cites the fact that they can't be bothered to memorize and believably deliver the five or six lines they are given in an Academy Award nomination speech. I've often wonder why in the hell they can't have somebody write them a decent acceptance speech and deliver it like an adult instead of a gushing 12 year old. I understand that it's an emotional moment, but these people are supposed to professional performers. And they are being rewarded for being the best professional performers of the year for crying out loud. Halle Berry had me blindly reaching for the Pepto.
As to why they don't seem to be able to play themselves as intelligent, thoughtful political pundits, that's simple. They need writers and directors. Democrats, are you listening?
digby 2/15/2005 02:17:00 PM
To all the wingnuts who've been bombarding me with puerile insults because I allegedly have my head up my keister for saying the JimJeff Gannon Guckert may have been a recipient of pillow talk on the Plame matter, here is why I said it:
GANNON: And the FBI did come to interview me. They were interested in where -- how I knew or received a copy of a confidential CIA memo that said that Valerie Plame suggested that Joe Wilson be sent on this mission, something that everybody -- they have all vigorously denied but is, in effect, true.
BLITZER: So they didn't make you go testify before the grand jury?
BLITZER: Do you have to reveal how you got that memo?
BLITZER: They didn't ask you?
GANNON: Well, the FBI kept asking. I said, well, look, I'm a journalist, I can't --
BLITZER: You didn't tell them?
GANNON: Yes. Can't divulge that. And they accepted that, and I've never been asked again.
He's acting mighty cagey for a guy who just reads the papers, don't you think? My thought was that his "source" might just be across the pillow. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The pillow part anyway.
Now, the blabbing of confidential CIA memos to destroy a political enemy is just sleazy.
digby 2/15/2005 12:53:00 AM
Monday, February 14, 2005
Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED makes a good argument that phony sanctimony is part of the modern political playbook and it's important that we play along or they'll get their destructive talking points out there unrebutted. I agree. It's distasteful but it must be done.
WHINING IS EVERYTHING. This is a minor point, but I take exception to one particular item in the two-party compare-and-contrast list compiled by The Note that Garance linked to on Friday:
One party never apologizes and never shows weakness; one party is on its fourth day of cry-babyish "defense" of its Senate Leader, after a run- of-the-mill GOP "attack."
...In the modern rules of partisan warfare -- which the Republicans largely wrote -- complaining incessently about the illegitimacy of the other side's attacks is as crucial a component as the actual attacks one's own side lobs. When the Democrats close ranks behind Reid and condemn Republican efforts to smear him, they don't really expect George W. Bush to heed their complaints and tell his party to call the dogs off. What they're doing, instead, is making sure that the Republicans' vilification campaign is recognized for what it is and discussed explicitly at the very outset. The mistake the party made with the Republicans' campaign against Tom Daschle -- which, let's recall, really began in earnest in the winter of 2001 -- was ignoring it for too long rather than making it an issue worthy of discussion (and press coverage) in and of itself. Thus the Republicans' attacks had a cumulative effect, over the course of three years, of transforming popular perceptions of the Democratic leader without there being any popular awareness that a concerted campaign even existed.
It becomes more and more obvious that the "analysts" in the press are just clueless about the game they analyze. The Republican weeping and whining about "political hate speech" alone is enough to cause informed people to stick ice picks in their ears just to shut out the pain. You don't have to be a highly paid insider to understand what game they are playing.
One of the main differences between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans simply don't pay any attention to what the press says about them. They don't care to be "understood" or "rational" by an institution that they consider tools. We are fools if we do not adopt that attitude. The media is not part of our coalition, it is not a bastion of rationality or objective truth. We have to tough out the kind of catty insults that The Note spits out as small arms fire in a much bigger battle. Caring whether the media respects us is part of why the other side is able to muster a majority in a country that doesn't want its policies. We have to play them not pander to them.
digby 2/14/2005 02:01:00 PM
We're changing the culture of this country from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and, if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to one in which each of us understands that we are responsible for the decisions we make. --- President George W. Bush October 15, 2003
I don't really know what to think about all this but I do have to marvel at, as Avorosis puts it:
"This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers?"
I personally have no problems with the Bush White House needing to blow off some consensual adult steam. It's a stressful job. If gay hookers are going to help them relax then who am I to argue? I'm a liberal. I have nothing against gays or hookers.
But for a moment let me think as a Republican would, if the shoe were on the other foot:
So many questions so few answers. Just why did JimJeff get such special treatment? It's not like they didn't already have a bunch of ready made shills to ask softball questions. Les Kinsolving's been throwing partisan bombs for years. They certainly didn't need JimJeff to transcribe RNC talking points when they have the Beltway Boys to do it on national television.
Scotty said that the president called on JimJeff of his own volition. A coincidence? Or did someone request that JimJeff get a special treat that day?
And has it ever been logical that this nobody from a vanity web site would get access to the Plame story? Why him? JimJeff claims that he never actually saw the Plame memo, yet he clearly knew of it. Could it have been pillow talk?
I don't have a clue. But, I do know that if this were 1998, we'd be knee deep in congressional investigations into the gay hooker ring in the White House. Every news crew in the DC area would be camped out on JimJeff's front lawn. A wild-eyed Victoria Toensing and panting Kelly Ann Fitzpatrick would be crawling up on the Hardball desk rending their silk teddies and speaking in tongues while Matthews'exploding head spun around on his shoulders.
But, it isn't 1998 and it will probably not even be mentioned. And I'm not a Republican so I don't think, as they would, that it's necessary to dig into every single White House staffer's sex life to find out who leaked a confidential memo to a gay hooker.
As a Democrat, however, if gay hookers are running around the White House I do find it somewhat frustrating that we have to put up with this shock and horror bullshit from the right wing about average Joe and Jane gay person wanting to get married and have a family. Please.
And yes, I do think that Patrick Fitzgerald's boys will probably be paying JimJeff another visit. Sadly, I think it's entirely likely that they didn't know about this until today. It is impossible to believe that the secret service and the FBI would allow a known prostitute to have access to the White House after 9/11. If they did, then our national security is in very deep shit. Come to think of it, it's also pretty scary that they didn't know. What's up with that?
digby 2/14/2005 11:30:00 AM
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Subversive Heroes of The Left
And the Grammy stiffs don't have any idea...
Don't wanna be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new media.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mindfuck America.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
Well that's enough to argue.
Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along in the age of paranoia.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
Well that's enough to argue.
Don't wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information nation of hysteria.
It's going out to idiot America.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow
Green Day rules.
digby 2/13/2005 08:56:00 PM
I see via TalkLeft that Instapundit believes that left wing bloggers have gone too far with this delving into the personal life of JD Guckert:
...it was the stuff about Gannon's personal life that led to his resignation, and that there's something rather sleazy about that. Backstage or not, targeting parts of people's lives that don't have to do with the story -- like, say, Eason Jordan's love life -- seems inappropriate to me, and likely to lend support to the bloggers-as-lynch-mob caricature.
We don't know that the reason Guckert "resigned" was because of the personal stuff. It's just as likely he was asked to leave because he had brought attention to himself and embarrassed the White House. Who knows?
But I think we all can agree that publicly discussing people's sex lives, really should be out of bounds. Sexual witch hunts are wrong. I just don't know what's come over people.
Of course it's possible that some people came across this and just got inspired:
According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President had ten sexual encounters, eight while she worked at the White House and two thereafter.(35) The sexual encounters generally occurred in or near the private study off the Oval Office -- most often in the windowless hallway outside the study.(36) During many of their sexual encounters, the President stood leaning against the doorway of the bathroom across from the study, which, he told Ms. Lewinsky, eased his sore back.(37)
Ms. Lewinsky testified that her physical relationship with the President included oral sex but not sexual intercourse.(38) According to Ms. Lewinsky, she performed oral sex on the President; he never performed oral sex on her.(39) Initially, according to Ms. Lewinsky, the President would not let her perform oral sex to completion. In Ms. Lewinsky's understanding, his refusal was related to "trust and not knowing me well enough."(40) During their last two sexual encounters, both in 1997, he did ejaculate.(41)
According to Ms. Lewinsky, she performed oral sex on the President on nine occasions. On all nine of those occasions, the President fondled and kissed her bare breasts. He touched her genitals, both through her underwear and directly, bringing her to orgasm on two occasions. On one occasion, the President inserted a cigar into her vagina. On another occasion, she and the President had brief genital-to-genital contact.(42)
Of course, that was an official government document so it was ok to disseminate those details to the entire world. And, remember it wasn't about the sex, it was about the lying. Not like an evil liberal blogger lynch mob linking to underwear pics that someone who was writing under an alias for unknown reasons had plastered all over the internet. You simply can't compare the two. Not at all. I don't know what I was thinking.
digby 2/13/2005 01:24:00 PM
Dissent Is Good For You
Orcinus points to a lengthy list of rightwing academics who would be ripe for a Churchilling if there existed a left wing machine capable of doing it.
But even if we could, it would be self defeating to demand that they lose their jobs. Academic freedom demands that scholars with repugnant views be allowed to make their arguments so that an intellectual debate can take place. I think that the Right is making a mistake if they think that they'll be able to hang on to power if they shut people up. One of the reasons they've been successful in selling their ideas is that they spent years honing their arguments. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that.
digby 2/13/2005 01:04:00 PM
What's The Problem?
I'm fascinated by the fact that Eason Jordan was driven from his job for making a remark about the US targeting journalists when it seems clear that many on the right think that targeting journalists is actually a good idea. Why all the self-righteous Claude Rainsing about this? If you write or say publicly that it's a good idea to kill journalists and someone else says we ARE killing journalists I don't see why that person is considered a traitor.
The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill thinks the US Military should at least be able to target "enemy" journalists when we invade a foreign country. They aren't really free anyway; unlike our journalists they are part of their government's propaganda efforts and can, therefore, be considered part of the enemy force. Can we win this war (that "we are further away from winning than we are losing") with our hands tied behind our backs? We are, after all, "at war with possibly the worst enemy we have ever faced." We have to ask ourselves if we are prepared to do whatever it takes.
Apparently a BBC journalist by the name of Nik Gowing contributed a chapter to a book called Dying To Tell The Story in which he says that our military has already made that decision:(pdf)
There is evidence that media activity in the midst of real-time war fighting is now regarded by commanders as having ‘military significance’ which justifies a firm military response to remove or at least neutralise it. From the media’s perspective, the core guiding principles of reporting must remain accuracy, impartiality, objectivity and balance in a time of armed conflict.Yet if some worst case fears are shown to be justified, then on the political and military side some senior officials seem to view our 24 hour/7 day-a-week presence as a real-time military threat that on some occasions justifies our removal by the application of deadly force. Despite expressions of sympathy, the fact that journalists and technicians are killed or injured appears to be of barely marginal concern.
Captain's Quarters goes to great lengths to debunk various charges in this book. But it gets a bit thick when they charge Gowing with using intemperate rhetoric (like that above) and say that CNN is now a "faith-based organization instead of a fact-finding media outlet" because its executives are under the sway of a writer whose work doesn't stand up under scrutiny.
I just hate when that happens, don't you?
Thanks RP. You can have all the profits.
digby 2/13/2005 11:37:00 AM
Hounds of Hell
Kevin is right that scalp collecting benefits the right, but it has nothing to do with bloggers or liberals' willingness to engage in the game. It has to do with the fact that character assasination has been the political combat weapon of choice on the right for a long, long time. Hounding people from their jobs is one of their favorite tools of intimidation.
Remember Webb Hubbel, Bernie Nussbaum, Mike Espy, Henry Cisneros, Roger Altman blah, blah, blah? And let's not forget that they spent 70 million taxpayer dollars trying to hound Clinton out of office. He just refused to go. The only difference now is that the target is the long-hated liberal media and bloggers have joined the assassination squad.
If liberal bloggers' record of scalps is Trent Lott losing the leadership post that Bush wanted him out of anyway then we aren't even in the same league. The Right Wing Noise machine is a group seasoned professionals made up of bloggers, newspapers, FOX, talk radio, and a direct pipeline to powerful Republicans in the government. We are Kos and Atrios et al. We are not equivalent.
Update: Kevin expands on his earlier post here and I think he makes some good points.
Frankly, I think the left blogosphere probably isn't going to prosper through right wing style character assassination because we don't have the megaphone to really make it work or a compliant media or the legislative clout to create psuedo scandals and investigations.
The left blogosphere, on the other hand, has already shown that it can effect change by bringing to bear the financial clout of the consumer. Sinclair. That's the paradigm of lefty new media clout. It's all we've got folks, but it's a lot.
digby 2/13/2005 08:33:00 AM
Friday, February 11, 2005
Avowedly With Them
Ted Barlow takes notice of the increasingly, shall we say, fevered notion by our right wing blogospheric brethren that the Left is no longer objectively pro-terrorist. We are plain old, straight up pro terrorist.
He points to this post:
This newly ever-growing Western left, not only in Europe, but in Latin America and even in the US itself, has a clear goal: the destruction of the country and society that vanquished its dreams fifteen years ago. But it does not have, as in the old days of the Soviet Union, the hard power to accomplish this by itself. Thanks to this, all our leftist friends’ bets are now on radical Islam. What can they do to help it? Answer: tie down America’s superior strength with a million Liliputian ropes: legal ones, political ones, with propaganda and disinformation etc. Anything and everything will do.
“Sigh. I wish he were wrong,” comments Glenn Reynolds. Barlow adds:
Nelson Ascher is directly stating that “all our leftist friends” are actively supporting terrorists, by any means possible, in order to achieve our dream of the destruction of the United States. The mechanisms by which terrorists could destroy the United States are left unstated. (I’m reminded of Eddie Izzard’s recounting of Imperial Japan’s strategy in WWII: “First, we’ll bomb one of their bases, and then… we’ll win.”) And Reynolds is shaking his head in rueful agreement, more in sorrow than anger.
I’m embarassed to admit that this washed over me as so much typical right-wing boilerplate until I saw Jack O’Toole’s reaction. Much like Thomas Sowell’s charming column titled “Fourth Estate or Fifth Column?” Or Jonah Goldberg’s taunt, after proposing a bet with Juan Cole, that “He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.” Too many mainstream conservatives have adopted accusations of treason into their regular toolbox, and I guess I’m sort of getting used to it.
I especially enjoy this accusation of the libertine, decadent elitist left being in cahoots with the gay hating, women oppressing Islamic fundamentalists. Because when you think about it, isn't it much more likely that there are those on the Right who find common cause with religious radicals?
Oh my gosh, they did.
It's time for another edition of "Dana's Got A Secret!"
Federal documents reviewed by the Weekly show that Rohrabacher maintained a cordial, behind-the-scenes relationship with Osama bin Laden’s associates in the Middle East—even while he mouthed his most severe anti-Taliban comments at public forums across the U.S. There’s worse: despite the federal Logan Act ban on unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, the congressman dangerously acted as a self-appointed secretary of state, constructing what foreign-affairs experts call a "dual tract" policy with the Taliban.
A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, "If Dana’s right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn’t be so happy."
A November/December 1996 article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported, "The potential rise of power of the Taliban does not alarm Rohrabacher" because the congressman believes the "Taliban could provide stability in an area where chaos was creating a real threat to the U.S." Later in the article, Rohrabacher claimed that:
•Taliban leaders are "not terrorists or revolutionaries."
•Media reports documenting the Taliban’s harsh, radical beliefs were "nonsense."
•The Taliban would develop a "disciplined, moral society" that did not harbor terrorists.
•The Taliban posed no threat to the U.S.
Evidence of Rohrabacher’s attempts to conduct his own foreign policy became public on April 10, 2001, not in the U.S., but in the Middle East. On that day, ignoring his own lack of official authority, Rohrabacher opened negotiations with the Taliban at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, ostensibly for a "Free Markets and Democracy" conference. There, Rohrabacher secretly met with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, an advisor to Mullah Omar. Diplomatic sources claim Muttawakil sought the congressman’s assistance in increasing U.S. aid—already more than $100 million annually—to Afghanistan and indicated that the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden, wanted by the Clinton administration for the fatal bombings of two American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. For his part, Rohrabacher handed Muttawakil his unsolicited plans for war-torn Afghanistan. "We examined a peace plan," he laconically told reporters in Qatar.
After Taliban-related terrorists attacked the U.S. last September, Rohrabacher associates worked hard to downplay the Qatar meeting. Republican strategist Grover Norquist told a reporter that the congressman had accidentally encountered the Taliban official in a hotel hallway.
But that preposterous assertion is contradicted by much evidence:
Yes. The chief visionary of the modern conservative movement, Grover Norquist, was also in up to his ample hips with this crew. Here's a little something from everybody's favorite apostate's Front Page:
...Since then, Saffuri and Norquist have helped set up meetings in the Oval Office with the president for AMC and CAIR leaders. White House officials have acknowledged that Alamoudi attended at least one of these sessions with the president.
Saffuri and Norquist have also set up meetings for leaders of radical Muslim groups with FBI Director Robert Mueller and with Attorney General John Ashcroft, to urge the Bush administration to abandon the USA Patriot Act.
Rohrabacher friends and colleagues believe that Norquist initially introduced Rohrabacher to Saffuri. They point to the Congressman’s long-standing ties to Norquist, which go back at least as early as the mid-1980s, when they worked together to build support for anti-Communist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua.
“Grover has led a lot of people astray in recent years,” one Rohrabacher colleague said. “Saffuri would always call Dana’s office whenever he was doing an event, just as any lobbyist would do. He was well-schooled by Grover on how to be a politician’s buddy.”
Sadly, being plagued with some incurable need for intellectual honesty, I can't find it in me to claim with a straight face that Dana Rohrabacher and Grover Norquist are really in cahoots with terrorists. But if one were to rely on actual evidence rather than the wild, unsupported halluciations we see breaking out in the right blogsphere as they routinely accuse the Left of supporting terrorism, it's clear that one could quite seriously make a case that one of the most powerful Republican members of congress and the single most powerful Republican activist are literally working with terrorists.
These right wingers should probably watch their steps. Their glass houses are lying in very sharp shards right under their feet.
The Poor Man has more on this topic. It's getting very strange in the blogosphere. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the right is so angry when they just won the whole thing.
Unless, of course it is really as Lincoln said:
"...what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them."
It's not enough that they own the entire political landscape. Apparently, their frustration that we refuse to agree with them is so strong that they are having some sort of emotional collapse. We must place ourselves avowedly with them.
Well, people in hell want ice water, too. It's not going to happen.
Update: See The Forest has some thoughts on this too.
digby 2/11/2005 09:10:00 PM
Awesome! I think it's pretty clear that the White House won't be needing any petty little softball pitchers from the Talon team going forward. The MSM knows now that they need to bend over and take their caning like the scared little boys they are. Brian Williams, are you listening? Chrissie? Timmie? Leslie? Watch your mouths.
CNN News Executive Eason Jordan Quits
Now here's a conundrum. What do you do about this:
LAWRENCE KUDLOW (host): We got a couple of seconds before the break when you guys are all going to come back, but, Ann, I just want to give you first whack at this. Eason Jordan, top news executive at CNN -- I mean, to me, this is absolutely incredible -- this guy says at a big conference in Davos that the U.S. military is deliberately targeting and assassinating American journalists. Huh? He still has a job, huh? You got a take on that?
COULTER: Would that it were so!
KUDLOW: Would what were so?
COULTER: That the American military were targeting journalists.
KUDLOW: Oh, no! Don't go there.
COULTER: No, but, I mean, he immediately -- it was just an incredibly cowardly thing to do. He says it, he immediately backs down to -- from the statement that it is official government policy to be targeting journalists to, 'Oh, it's just a rumor I've heard,' and it might just be a few random individuals about which he has no facts. So it's a story that's not only implausible but not particularly interesting to what he has backed down to. And I agree with you, he shouldn't have a job.
Answer: You do nothing! There is nothing wrong with wanting the military to target and kill journalists. This is a fine distinction that only Republicans understand. No need to worry your pretty little Democratic heads about it.
Frank Luntz already had CNN firmly on the reservation but they won't be making any criticism of the administration's Iraq policy in any way shape or form ever again. And I have little doubt that all journalists will take the proper lesson from this and dive headfirst into the tank and just stay on bottom bubbling up what Hugh Hinderocket and InstaFootball tell them to say. Hooray for the new media! If you say the military should murder journalists it's kewl. If you say the military has murdered journalists (and apologized) you'll be run out of town on a rail. Got that? Oh, and if you are a Democrat you can just STFU and give mistress Coulter what she needs.
I'm reminded that everyone was warned about all this long ago. Susan Sontag didn't listen. Ward Churchill didn't listen. Eason Jordan didn't listen.
Q: As Commander-In-Chief, what was the President's reaction to television's Bill Maher, in his announcement that members of our Armed Forces who deal with missiles are cowards, while the armed terrorists who killed 6,000 unarmed are not cowards, for which Maher was briefly moved off a Washington television station?
A: I have not discussed it with the President, one. I have—
Q: Surely, as a—
A: I'm getting there.
Q: Surely as Commander, he was enraged at that, wasn't he?
A: I'm getting there, Les.
A: I'm aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it's a terrible thing to say, and it unfortunate. And that's why—there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party—they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.
It's not like they didn't warn us.
digby 2/11/2005 06:31:00 PM
How Would He Know?
I wouldn't be surprised if JD Guckert believes that he can read his Dear Leader's mind, but it seems a little more likely that somebody whispered the following in his ear:
You are right. It was very difficult to keep from jumping up and cheering.
W's plan tonight was to reassure the country, which he did, connect all the dots, which he also did, and then allowed the liberal media to expose themselves to the American people in prime time, which it did.
7 posted on 04/13/2004 7:38:16 PM PDT by Jeff Gannon (Listen to my radio show "Jeff Gannon's Washington" on www.RIGHTALK.com
This is a fella who knows something about exposing himself to the American people, that's for sure. I do wonder how "Jeff" knew what the president's plan for the the press conference was, though.
For some real fun you should read the original entry that closes with the following (sincere!) advice:
"...in a nutshell, be a simpleton, be repetitive, be a pain in their backsides, and be a freedom loving winner. The last time I checked, the winners are not the losers!"
You just can't make this shit up.
digby 2/11/2005 10:41:00 AM
Less Reformation, more refraction
People who pick up the book "Blog" are likely to think that it's about blogs. For the most part, it's not about the Internet phenomenon of blogging, the term for individual or group Web-based chronicling and instant publishing. Rather, this book is a sustained effort of partisan hackery aimed at further eroding trust in what the author Hugh Hewitt calls "mainstream liberal media," which for him means anything to the left of Rush Limbaugh. This regurgitated mantra, in the hands of skilled marketers, can be applied to the latest hot brand — in this case anything to do with blogs.
Hewitt, a professor of law at Chapman University Law School, has his own nationally syndicated (and Limbaugh- esque) radio show as well as one of the most popular blogs. As of September 2004, his blog was getting about 75,000 hits a day. He blogged the 2004 Democratic and Republican national conventions as an independent, a sort of right-wing Robin Hood stealing from the rich liberal mainstream media and giving back the correct information to the hinterlands.
Hewitt has chosen the Protestant Reformation as a mirror on how blogging is leading a reformation against the mainstream media. He focuses largely on the case of "Rathergate" at CBS and how blogs were the first to point out the discrepancies in the documents CBS anchor Dan Rather said alleged that President Bush received preferential treatment during his National Guard service.
Hewitt never shies away from celebrity name bashing, dropping every right-wing pundit's favorite punching bag — Barbra Streisand — into the mix. He also fawns on Fox News, Limbaugh and a bevy of rightist blogs when given the opportunity to do so. Hewitt considers the blog revolution in an America-centric fashion that ignores the fact that the Internet is not the sole property of Americans alone. The only "foreign" references he makes are comments on how Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist groups have been using the Internet to spread their messages.
In a Jan. 15 entry on his blog (HughHewitt.com), Hewitt is a bit more forthcoming about the ethical dilemma faced among the top tier of political bloggers who may or may not get paid to advocate for causes, saying "bloggers should disclose — prominently and repeatedly — when they are receiving payments from individuals or organizations about whom or which they are blogging." But in the book, Hewitt describes how blogs should be used by opinion makers to get their points across through directly influencing the most prominent bloggers.
Hewitt ponders a "dozen blogs I would launch" and imagines a central blog that would cover the publishing world, link to Amazon and generate buzz. It would be one that causes book sales to soar when the author of this hypothetical blog praises a book, or plummet when given a fervent thumbs down.
What Hewitt fails to see is that there already is a growing infrastructure of litblogs available that are independent, not beholden to a single publisher and not taking payola to promote or trash competitors' books.
Hewitt fails to see a lot of things. To read his book, practically the only political blogs out there are his, Instapundit and Powerline. He doesn't get out much.
Really, if you haven't bought this book .... don't spend the money. Go to the bookstore and skim it. It'll only take a minute and a half. I do feel sorry for the poor suckers who bought the book in the airport bookstore who think they are getting a book about blogs when they are actually getting a typical piece of right wing rubbish.
Hewitt is carving himself quite a nice little niche in the right wing blogosphere as a hitman. He was the impetus behind the Christmas In Cambodia navel gazing (which he inexplicably insists was some sort of defining moment) and is now leading the charge against Eason Jordan. (Dan Rather was more of a mob action.) All in a days work. And to think I used to watch him play Tucker Carlson on the local PBS roundtable. He was such a cute lil' conservative pup in those days. He's a big boy now.
Update: Crooks and Liars reviewed the book already. Here's something you'll all be interested in, I'm sure.
To say that Mr. Hewitt has a huge right wing agenda is to simplify the issue, but here goes a few examples:
Pg. 108: on Atrios, Hugh says: Hard left, incoherent, actually. But big traffic.
On Daily Kos: (brief history).... He is also an off the wall lefty, willing to say anything.
Pg. 113: A final word on ideology and the blogosphere: there is currently a talent gap. The political left is seriously behind in the promotion and development of bloggers with insight and good humor. It maybe that the early entrants such as DailyKos, Atrios, and Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo have set a tone of self importance combined with coarseness that has repelled would-be bloggers, or that Peter Principle bloggers with energy but not enough talent have taken up valuable shelf space.
What a decent fellow he is.
digby 2/11/2005 08:35:00 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2005
More Of This Please
I second Atrios' kudos to John Aravosis for his appearance on Aaron Brown tonight on the Manchurion Beefcake matter. He took charge of the interview and got what needed to be said out into the ether. He advanced the storyline.
This is the kind of aggressive, savvy response Dems can learn from.
Check it out.
digby 2/10/2005 10:28:00 PM
Speaking of Death Threats...
Well, not exactly a death threat. But an adorable little violent fantasy from one of my conservative fans in the comment section to this post about Ward Churchill.
What unadulterated BS!
The final paragraph contains the usual martyr fantasy. You can always count on that.
Beyond that, this entire essay can be boiled down to: "People who disagree with me are conservatives and therefore evil."
I suggest shutting down this site. You might want to consider limiting the exposure of your stupidity in public. Nobody's trying to silence you. Hell, nobody even knows who you are. And they don't care either. I got here through a third party link. I'll never come back again. You are a complete fucking idiot.
Jesus, maybe we should start shooting idiots like you just to satisfy your puerile martyrdom fantasies.
Stephen Thomas | Email | 02.10.05 - 3:57 pm | #
I'm not quite sure what this fellow is talking about. I merely noted that the Republican party has been using intimidation tactics for the last 25 years or so.
I guess I was wrong.
Update: Readers have informed me that this person is grieving for his recently deceased beloved wife. He's obviously in a lot of pain. Let's all be compassionate liberals and let this one go. It's not a big deal to me.
digby 2/10/2005 09:35:00 PM
That so few major establishment papers have latched on to the unfolding Manchurian Beefcake story helps explain why major establishment newspapers are losing readers in droves, unable to spot a juicy scandal when it's doing a lapdance in front of their glazed eyes.
Well, we know they would be stuffing hundies in its G-String if Drudge had hustled them into this Gentleman's Club, now don't we? They just aren't getting properly forcefed the nasty stuff so they wring their delicate hankies as per Kenny Boy Mehlman's instructions. We'll see if they wake up and smell the Hai Karate.
Wolcott links to this very intriguing little trip down memory lane from Rigorous Intuition. One hates to bring up these tawdry little naughty bits, but why does this stuff keep coming up in every Bush administration?
Oh, and I think we can all agree that this must now officially be known as the Manchurian Beefcake scandal. It doesn't get any better than that.
digby 2/10/2005 07:12:00 PM
How Can They Pillory Him This Way?
Kevin links to Volokh spotting a Slate "Bushism" error. Volokh appears to think that the president is often mischaracterized and that journalists should not take it on faith that he speaks opaquely at times.
As I've said before, part of the problem with the Bushisms column is that they often fault the President for things that aren't much worth faulting. But the broader problem is that once a journalist gets into the mindset of "Let me catch Bush misspeaking," it's very easy to start seeing errors where no errors exist. Instead of the normal "Someone says Bush erred, so let's investigate this skeptically" view that journalists should have, the author falls into the habit of assuming that all claimed Bush misstatements are in fact misstatements. And the consequence is screw-ups like this. Shouldn't we expect better from the editor of a leading magazine?
Yes we should.
And we should also expect better than this from the president of the fucking United States of America:
Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.
Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.
Now I am entirely sympathetic to the notion that journalists are not skeptical enough of many things. The president's social security plan. WMD in Iraq. That 2+2=5. But surely, after listening to four years of that kind of mentally challenged gobbledygook it's a bit presumptuous to lecture journalists for not being entirely skeptical of accounts that have the president speaking mentally challenged gobbledygook.
digby 2/10/2005 03:57:00 PM
Death In Life
Yesterday I had the questionable pleasure of listening to Lynn Cheney on Fresh Air very reasonably describing the United States as the best country in the world, a country whose history should be taught as living up to the highest ideals of human achievement. She sees this nation as being on an ever upward trajectory toward perfection and is mighty displeased that schoolchildren are not being taught this patriotic view.
This is especially interesting in light of the fact that she and her husband and the rest of the Bush administration have the dubious distinction of committing some of the first war crimes of the 21st Century.
I don't know what happened to certain people in the United States after 9/11, but they seemed to have entered some sort of hallucinatory fugue state in which they lost all reason. We find out today that the tales of sexual depravity at Gitmo that everyone dismissed earlier are true.I wrote about this last summer when the Center For Constitutional Rights issued its (pdf) report. We have known for some time that General Geoffrey Miller, artillery officer, was the one who introduced this fatuous, Sipowitzian interrogation style to Guantanamo. From the report, issued last July:
"We had the impression that at the beginning things were not carefully planned but a point came at which you could notice things changing. That appeared to be after General Miller around the end of 2002. That is when short-shackling started, loud music playing in interrogation, shaving beards and hair, putting people in cells naked, taking away people's "comfort" items, the introduction of levels, moving some people every two hours depriving them of sleep, the use of A/C air. Isolation was always there. "Intel" blocks came in with General Miller. Before when people were put into isolation they would seem to stay for not more than a month. After he came, people would be kept there for months and months and months. We didn't hear anybody talking about being sexually humiliated or subjected to sexual provocation before General Miller came. After that we did. Although sexual provocation, molestation did not happen to us, we are sure that it happened to others. It did not come about at first that people came back and told about it. They didn't. What happened was that one detainee came back from interrogation crying and confided in another what had happened. That detainee in turn thought that it was so shocking he told others and then other detainees revealed that it had happened to them but they had been too ashamed to admit to it. It therefore came to the knowledge of everyone in the camp that this was happening to some people. It was clear to us that this was happening to the people who'd been brought up most strictly as Muslims. It seemed to happen most to people in Camps 2 and 3, the "intel" people, ie the people of most interest to the interrogators. In addition, military police also told us about some of the things that were going on. They would tell us just rather like news or something to talk about. This was something that was happening in the camp. It seemed to us that a lot of the MPs couldn't themselves believe it was happening.
And it was after Miller was sent to evaluate Abu Ghraib that the bad apples began their nocturnal hijinks. Coincidence, I'm sure. (It's almost impossible to believe that they sent Miller to "clean up" Abu Ghraib after the pictures came out, but they did. Has there ever been a more arrogant bunch of assholes?)
One thing that has not yet been put together in all this is the fact that Gitmo became a training school for interrogations (which may explain why they got into all this thongs and menstrual blood smearing business.) They knew very early that the prisoners there were useless for intelligence purposes. Most of them, if they were Taliban or al Qaeda at all, were so low level that they simply had nothing to share. But why waste all those lawyerless losers. Use them as guinea pigs for a new generation of TV addled interrogators trained by those who know nothing about it. (Once again, keep in mind that the entire neocon faction is enamored of a comic book called "The Arab Mind.")
As more and more is revealed every day it becomes clear that these incompetents who ignored the warning signs before 9/11, (more proof of which was also revealed today) are going to get a lot more of us killed. I guess that is the price we shall have to pay for allowing ourselves to wallow in political trivia and tabloid sensation during the Clinton years and creating a taste for showbiz politics that encouraged the puerile cartoon reaction to the attacks from our leaders. Our leaders, the people with whom we trusted our very lives, behaved as we wanted them to, as we would expect the man who we'd like to have a beer with to behave --- with simple-minded bloodlust instead of reason.
I keep thinking I'm going to wake from this awful dream in which law professors (and former deputy attorneys general) of the highest reputation do not make arguments like this (from the important article by Jane Mayer in this week's New Yorker called "Outsourcing Torture"):
In a recent phone interview, Yoo was soft-spoken and resolute. “Why is it so hard for people to understand that there is a category of behavior not covered by the legal system?”
What would that category of behavior be? Mass Murder? Torture? Genocide? Medical experimentation? Eviscerating babies with a bobby pin? No, those are all covered by criminal statutes and international law. So, it must be something worse than that, musn't it? It must be worse than Hitler. It must be something so bad that Satan could only conceive of it. We call it "terrorism."
I wonder when those in this country whose children were killed by a child molester like John Wayne Gacy or who were the victims of a brutal home invasion robbery or even a drunk driver might begin to wonder why the criminals who committed those crimes should should be allowed this "luxury" of due process when we can simply pluck terrorists off the street, inflict torture upon them and throw them in prison forever. That awful day on 9/11 was shocking, to be sure. But is it more shocking than Tim McVeigh or that woman who killed the pregnant woman and carved her baby out of her womb? An average person can be forgiven for wondering just why we must deal with warrants and grand juries and trials with our homegrown vicious killers when we don't have to deal with such niceties with terrorists. Just what is the principle that guides this decision?
I'm truly wondering when someone will ask that question. Because when someone finally does we will begin to answer Professor Yoo's startling question about whether there aren't some things that fall outside the legal system.
The answer is, of course there aren't. The reason, professor, is that the rules of due process were designed to ensure that the government cannot arbitrarily imprison innocent people. That principle is so basic and so clear cut that you wouldn't think that a law professor would have to even think about it.
Even that ole puritan Increase Mather (Cotton's daddy) spoke out on this after the Salem Witch trials saying, "It were better that 10 suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned." Please don't try to tell me that the Puritans in Massachusetts were any less assured that the Devil presented an existential threat than terrorism does today. These people lived in a stew of supernatural fear and they were able to work themselves out of hysteria enough to see that condemning innocent people was the worst evil of all.
As for torture, we can go all the way back to the English Bill of Rights in 1689 to find that civilization had evolved enough to outlaw cruel and unusual punishment. Certainly, if punishment that was cruel and unusual has been outlawed for more than 400 years, then cruel and unusual treatment of those who haven't even been found guilty of a crime cannot be considered legal in the 21st century. How does one become a first tier legal scholar and not see the implications of what we are doing?
In the "war on terrorism" we are operating under a system in which Joe Bob Bumpkin from the Arkansas National Guard and Rambo McClean of Blackwater Consulting are serving as detective, prosecutor and judge when they "capture" a so-called terrorist. They then render the "convict" to a facility outside of American jurisdiction where they "interrogate" this convict for information about his fellow criminals --- for years at a time. Then the convict might get a trial in a kangaroo court. We know, however, that even if found "innocent" they will likely not be released. Everyone agrees that these men are just too dangerous to be freed no matter what.
Unless, of course, an allied government like Britain puts the heat on and demands that their citizens be released, after which they are allowed to go home and are free to go back into society and live normally as before. Odd how that works isn't it? It would seem that we are making some mistakes, since these men have all been released --- but we only know about it if a powerful ally demands it. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen to the Afghans or any of the other citizens of middle eastern countries who, like us, don't really give a damn if innocent people are tortured and imprisoned forever.
And, some believe that we Americans have now sanctioned this entire immoral regime:
Yoo also argued that the Constitution granted the President plenary powers to override the U.N. Convention Against Torture when he is acting in the nation’s defense—a position that has drawn dissent from many scholars. As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”
It is the very core of the Commander In Chief function to be above the law. And Americans are assumed to have approved this by electing George W. Bush to a second term. That's what the president meant when he said, "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections."
So, tell me all you decent Republicans out there, the good conservative Christians and patriots and those who believe as Lynn Cheney does that this country is close to achieving perfection --- tell me what you have to say about this:
Nadja Dizdarevic is a thirty-year-old mother of four who lives in Sarajevo. On October 21, 2001, her husband, Hadj Boudella, a Muslim of Algerian descent, and five other Algerians living in Bosnia were arrested after U.S. authorities tipped off the Bosnian government to an alleged plot by the group to blow up the American and British Embassies in Sarajevo. One of the suspects reportedly placed some seventy phone calls to the Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in the days after September 11th. Boudella and his wife, however, maintain that neither he nor several of the other defendants knew the man who had allegedly contacted Zubaydah. And an investigation by the Bosnian government turned up no confirmation that the calls to Zubaydah were made at all, according to the men’s American lawyers, Rob Kirsch and Stephen Oleskey.
At the request of the U.S., the Bosnian government held all six men for three months, but was unable to substantiate any criminal charges against them. On January 17, 2002, the Bosnian Supreme Court ruled that they should be released. Instead, as the men left prison, they were handcuffed, forced to put on surgical masks with nose clips, covered in hoods, and herded into waiting unmarked cars by masked figures, some of whom appeared to be members of the Bosnian special forces. Boudella’s wife had come to the prison to meet her husband, and she recalled that she recognized him, despite the hood, because he was wearing a new suit that she had brought him the day before. “I will never forget that night,” she said. “It was snowing. I was screaming for someone to help.” A crowd gathered, and tried to block the convoy, but it sped off. The suspects were taken to a military airbase and kept in a freezing hangar for hours; one member of the group later claimed that he saw one of the abductors remove his Bosnian uniform, revealing that he was in fact American. The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied its role in the operation.
Six days after the abduction, Boudella’s wife received word that her husband and the other men had been sent to Guantánamo. One man in the group has alleged that two of his fingers were broken by U.S. soldiers. Little is publicly known about the welfare of the others.
Boudella’s wife said that she was astounded that her husband could be seized without charge or trial, at home during peacetime and after his own government had exonerated him. The term “enemy combatant” perplexed her. “He is an enemy of whom?” she asked. “In combat where?” She said that her view of America had changed. “I have not changed my opinion about its people, but unfortunately I have changed my opinion about its respect for human rights,” she said. “It is no longer the leader in the world. It has become the leader in the violation of human rights.”
In October, Boudella attempted to plead his innocence before the Pentagon’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The C.S.R.T. is the Pentagon’s answer to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, over the Bush Administration’s objections, that detainees in Guantánamo had a right to challenge their imprisonment. Boudella was not allowed to bring a lawyer to the proceeding. And the tribunal said that it was “unable to locate” a copy of the Bosnian Supreme Court’s verdict freeing him, which he had requested that it read. Transcripts show that Boudella stated, “I am against any terrorist acts,” and asked, “How could I be part of an organization that I strongly believe has harmed my people?” The tribunal rejected his plea, as it has rejected three hundred and eighty-seven of the three hundred and ninety-three pleas it has heard. Upon learning this, Boudella’s wife sent the following letter to her husband’s American lawyers:
Dear Friends, I am so shocked by this information that it seems as if my blood froze in my veins, I can’t breathe and I wish I was dead. I can’t believe these things can happen, that they can come and take your husband away, overnight and without reason, destroy your family, ruin your dreams after three years of fight. . . . Please, tell me, what can I still do for him? . . . Is this decision final, what are the legal remedies? Help me to understand because, as far as I know the law, this is insane, contrary to all possible laws and human rights. Please help me, I don’t want to lose him.
I do not know if this woman's husband is a terrorist. There certainly seems to be some question about it, however, and this man has been given no opportunity to defend himself. He was held for three months, freed by the Bosnian government due to lack of evidence and as he emerged from the court we kidnapped him like a scene in a cheap spy novel and made him legally invisible. There is every reason to believe that he will never be free again.
We are disappearing people, rendering them to friendly governments that aren't afraid to put the electrode to genitals and threaten with dog rape. And we are building our own infrastructure of torture and extra legal imprisonment. It is a law of human nature that if you build it, they will come. This infrastructure will be expanded and bureaucratized. It's already happening. And when they decide, as Professor Yoo has already decided, that an election is a sanctioning of anything the President chooses to do in the War on Terror, it is only a matter of time before internal political enemies become a threat.
And then it will be us.
I will not plead
If I deny, I am condemned already,
In courts where ghosts appear as witnesses
And swear men's lives away. If I confess,
Then I confess a lie, to buy a life,
Which is not life, but only death in life.
--William Wadsworth Longfellow
Corrected for clarity
digby 2/10/2005 10:10:00 AM
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
I'm busy today, but I did happen to just catch Howie Kurtz as he told Wolf Blitzer that the real Talon news story is that "liberal bloggers" went after "Jeff Gannon's" personal life. (Jeff told Howie that he was being threatened and stalked.) Howie didn't mention that it was the fact that "Jeff" wrote under an alias that led these bloggers to find his beefcake pics online and that he'd been registering domain names for gay escort services. Apparently, it's impolite to reveal such things even when the person in question makes a living as a homophobic wingnut.
He and Wolf both agreed that the White House press corps is just full of fiery partisans and there is nothing wrong with them being allowed to ask the president questions. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone who writes for a front group's web site being allowed into the White House on a "day pass." Howie said that in this day and age of blogging you don't have to write for a newspaper or magazine to be a member of the white house press corps.
Ok. Any of you liberal bloggers in DC who would like to get into the White House and ask Scotty and Dubya some questions, feel free to just show up. According to Howie and Wolf there's no general rule against it.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
There's growing buzz here in Washington, as well as over on the Internet, about a White House reporter some say was acting on behalf of a conservative group.
Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and "The Washington Post" joining us from "The Washington Post" newsroom.
What's going on here, Howie?
HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, Jeff Gannon is his name. At least that's the name he uses professionally. It's not his real name.
And he's a reporter for a couple of online sites. He's a self- described conservative journalist. One of the Web sites his work appears on is called GOPUSA. And he pretty much operated below the radar until he got the chance to ask President Bush a question two weeks ago. Let's take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now, that question, Wolf, kind of put a target on Jeff Gannon's back. A lot of liberal bloggers began digging into his background. In the last 24 hours, they've exposed his real name. They've raised questions about some sexually provocative Web addresses that he registered on one of his companies, but never actually did anything with.
And Gannon has now resigned from the two Web sites that he was writing for.
BLITZER: Is there any evidence that there's a connection, that the White House put him up to this to throw these kind of questions whether to Scott McClellan or to the president? Any evidence of wrongdoing, first of all, on the part of the White House?
KURTZ: No evidence whatsoever. I talked to Scott McClellan about this today, the White House spokesman. He said, first of all, President Bush didn't know who Jeff Gannon was when he called on him at that news conference.
But McClellan knows who he is. He calls on him at White House briefings from time to time. He says that there are a lot of people in the White House press room who have strong opinions and sometimes put them into their questions and it's not his job as the press secretary to be deciding who can get into the White House and who can't based on their political views.
Gannon, by the way, says, sure, he's very conservative. He makes no bones about that. But he thinks that a lot of the reporters in the White House press room are liberal, and he provides some balance.
BLITZER: What's the name of the organization, the news organization, he reported for. And what political connections did you discover may or may not exist to that news organization?
KURTZ: Well, he writes for a site called Talon News, which appears to be kind of a straight news site. But all of the stories that he writes also appear on a site that's called GOPUSA, which, as you might expect, is a conservative site. In fact, it's motto is: We're bringing the conservative message to America.
And both of those sites are owned by a man named Bobby Eberle, who is a Texas Republican activist in the state of Texas. So the issue here isn't really Jeff Gannon's ideology. He's the first to tell you that he comes at journalism from a conservative perspective. The issue I think is, should some of his liberal critics, these liberal bloggers, have started investigating his personal life in an effort to discredit him?
It's fine to disagree with his politics, but did they go too far, I think a lot of people are asking, in dragging in some of this personal stuff?
BLITZER: I used to be a White House correspondent for many years, sat through numerous briefings. There are plenty of journalists that wear their politics on their sleeve, liberals, conservatives. What's wrong with journalists having these kind of views, being advocacy journalists, if you will?
KURTZ: I personally don't think there's anything wrong with it, as long as they make clear what their views are, as Jeff Gannon clearly did.
A lot of people are questioning, well, why does this guy have White House press credentials? Because he doesn't write for a newspaper or magazine. Everything he writes is simply online. But in the age of blogging, that's hardly unusual. And he doesn't have a permanent -- what's called a hard pass. He just gets cleared into the White House on a day-to-day basis, which is a privilege that is pretty much open to any journalist.
So I think it's absolutely fair game to critique his stories, to argue with what he writes, to question his views. And he does that to other members of the press as well. But what precipitated his resignation is that he says that on behalf -- out of concern for his family -- and he told me last week that he had been threatened, that he had been stalked -- this has gotten so personal that he felt he needed to step down as the White House correspondent for Talon News.
BLITZER: And it does come within the context of some of the other embarrassments, Armstrong Williams and some other issues, which we won't get into right now.
But Howard Kurtz doing some digging, doing some reporting for us -- thanks very much, Howard Kurtz.
KURTZ: Thank you.
I hadn't seen this earlier Kurtz Gannon apologia. He really doesn't understand the implications of this whole panoply of payola skullduggery, does he? Or perhaps he does ...
digby 2/09/2005 03:11:00 PM
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
"Anonymous" Is A Putz
Campaign Desk points out that Joe Klein is pulling things out of the ether:
Finally, there was the boorish and possibly unprecedented hooting of the President by Democrats during the [State of the Union] speech.
"No! No! No!" they shouted, inaccurately, when Bush asserted that the Social Security trust fund would, in a decade or so, start paying out more money than it takes in. If nothing is done, it surely will.
Campaign Desk correctly notes:
Beyond the fact that such "hooting" was far from unprecedented, Klein's short-term memory must be playing tricks on him. Democrats did not start crying out "No! No! No!" when the president asserted that the trust fund would soon start paying out more money than it takes in. Rather, the Democrats accurately started calling out "No! No! No!" when the president inaccurately asserted that "By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt." You can hear for yourself on the White House video of the address (Real Media or Windows Media) -- the moment in question is about 15 minutes into the speech.
You can also hear the boorish boos of Republicans when Clinton said in the 1997 address that we didn't need to change the constitution to balance the budget. (Little did we know then that the 90's GOP balanced budget amendment hobby horse was actually designed to stop themselves from bankrupting the country.)
Here's a nice little reminder from way back in 1999 of what the country was like in the days when our un-boorish representatives practiced civility and decency:
Reps. Robert Schaffer (R-Colo.) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to colleagues last week arguing that they should skip the speech because Clinton "is demonstrating his lack of respect for the Congress and its legitimate role."
But Schaffer had few illusions that his absence would be noticed: "What happens tonight is Congress and the president coming together to send a message there's some semblance of normalcy in Washington, and the detestable conduct of the president is somehow tolerated," he said. "The president doesn't care and nobody cares. The theatrical production is going to go on unimpeded."
Klein, no doubt, was sitting in front of a camera somewhere that night, hunched over the desk like a slobbering beast, so intensely focused on Clinton's manly member that he simply didn't hear a thing.
digby 2/08/2005 03:35:00 PM
salto mortale thinks that the "very ill" Deep Throat might be....
I doubt it. Tools don't talk. But you never know.
digby 2/08/2005 01:20:00 PM
It's Hard Work:
President Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, will take on a wider role in developing and coordinating policy in the president's second term, the White House announced on Tuesday.
Rove, who was Bush's top political strategist during his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, will become a deputy White House chief of staff in charge of coordinating policy between the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council.
Funny, I thought that's what the president did.
digby 2/08/2005 11:31:00 AM
Monday, February 07, 2005
I hate to bring this up because it's so indelicate and all, but can someone explain to me again why we should rely on religion to restore the moral fabric of our nation and smite the pernicious influences of the kinky sex loving Hollywood liberals? I keep forgetting.
digby 2/07/2005 02:28:00 PM
The Last Temptation
Matthew Yglesias points out the growing Putinization of the Republican Party as it again tries to shut down dissent with legal intimidation. That first amendment sure sticks in the craw of the people who are running our government.
The RNC letter reads:
"The advertisement in question falsely and maliciously makes reference to 'George Bush's planned Social Security benefit cuts of up to 46 percent to pay for private accounts ...' "
In his State of the Union address, the president said that "Social Security will not change in any way" for Americans 55 and older."
Yeah. He said a lot of things. And?
Apparently, at least one of the station owners said he would investigate the ad and if he determined it was false, he would pull it. (The indefatigable Josh Marshall proves that the Move-on ad in question is factually correct and deconstructs the RNC letter to expose the obfuscatory mumbo jumbo that actually proves the case. Jayzuz, these guys never give up.)
Might I suggest that the DNC lawyers send letters to the same stations asking them to issue a disclaimer every time President Bush says that social security is going "bankrupt" or "bust." Otherwise, somebody might get the idea that these media outlets were in the business of falsely and maliciously spreading misinformation about the status of the social security system.
With their usual up-is-downism, these are the same guys who claim that frivolous lawsuits are killing America. Evidently, it's only frivolous if somebody has been disabled for life. It's perfectly acceptable to use the courts to quell dissent.
Matt calls it Putinization. Neiwert calls it psuedo-fascism. I call it Republican totalitarianism. Whatever you call it, it's long past time that we started to speak out clearly about what is really happening here. Interestingly, some of the most pointed criticism of this nature is now coming from the right:
A reader alerted me to this fascinating article from this month's American Conservative in which yet another conservative goes off the reservation and utters the F word.
Students of history inevitably think in terms of periods: the New Deal, McCarthyism, “the Sixties” (1964-1973), the NEP, the purge trials—all have their dates. Weimar, whose cultural excesses made effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead, feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.
Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.
Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular Antiwar.com website, wrote a column headlined, “Today’s Conservatives are Fascists.” Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of “fascism with a democratic face.” His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called “The Reality of Red State Fascism,” which claimed that “the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.”
But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as “hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.” One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it’s not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. “It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.”
The warnings from these three writers would have been significant even if they had not been complemented by what for me was the most striking straw in the wind. Earlier this month the New York Times published a profile of Fritz Stern, the now retired but still very active professor of history at Columbia University and one of my first and most significant mentors. I met Stern as an undergraduate in the spring of 1974. His lecture course on 20th-century Europe combined intellectual lucidity and passion in a way I had never imagined possible.
Stern is an expert on the rise of fascism in Europe. Here are some of his remarks upon receiving the Leo Baeck medal:
...the rise of National Socialism was neither inevitable nor accidental. It did have deep roots, but the most urgent lesson to remember is that it could have been stopped. This is but one of the many lessons contained in modern German history, lessons that should not be squandered in cheap and ignorant analogies. A key lesson is that civic passivity and willed blindness were the preconditions for the triumph of National Socialism, which many clearheaded Germans recognized at the time as a monstrous danger and ultimate nemesis.
We who were born at the end of the Weimar Republic and who witnessed the rise of National Socialism—left with that all-consuming, complex question: how could this horror have seized a nation and corrupted so much of Europe?—should remember that even in the darkest period there were individuals who showed active decency, who, defying intimidation and repression, opposed evil and tried to ease suffering. I wish these people would be given a proper European memorial—not to appease our conscience but to summon the courage of future generations. Churchmen, especially Protestant clergy, shared his hostility to the liberal-secular state and its defenders, and they, too, were filled with anti-Semitic doctrine.
Allow me a few remarks not about the banality of evil but about its triumph in a deeply civilized country. After the Great War and Germany’s defeat, conditions were harsh and Germans were deeply divided between moderates and democrats on the one hand and fanatic extremists of the right and the left on the other. National Socialists portrayed Germany as a nation that had been betrayed or stabbed in the back by socialists and Jews; they portrayed Weimar Germany as a moral-political swamp; they seized on the Bolshevik-Marxist danger, painted it in lurid colors, and stoked people’s fear in order to pose as saviors of the nation. In the late 1920s a group of intellectuals known as conservative revolutionaries demanded a new volkish authoritarianism, a Third Reich. Richly financed by corporate interests, they denounced liberalism as the greatest, most invidious threat, and attacked it for its tolerance, rationality and cosmopolitan culture. These conservative revolutionaries were proud of being prophets of the Third Reich—at least until some of them were exiled or murdered by the Nazis when the latter came to power. Throughout, the Nazis vilified liberalism as a semi-Marxist-Jewish conspiracy and, with Germany in the midst of unprecedented depression and immiseration, they promised a national rebirth.
Twenty years ago, I wrote about “National Socialism as Temptation,” about what it was that induced so many Germans to embrace the terrifying specter. There were many reasons, but at the top ranks Hitler himself, a brilliant populist manipulator who insisted and probably believed that Providence had chosen him as Germany’s savior, that he was the instrument of Providence, a leader who was charged with executing a divine mission. God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler’s success in fusing racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas.
German moderates and German elites underestimated Hitler, assuming that most people would not succumb to his Manichean unreason; they didn’t think that his hatred and mendacity could be taken seriously. They were proven wrong. People were enthralled by the Nazis’ cunning transposition of politics into carefully staged pageantry, into flag-waving martial mass. At solemn moments, the National Socialists would shift from the pseudo-religious invocation of Providence to traditional Christian forms: In his first radio address to the German people, twenty-four hours after coming to power, Hitler declared, “The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.”
digby 2/07/2005 01:07:00 PM
Jeebus H. Christ
Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.
'Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.
'Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.'
I'm sure the hand-picked audience broke into rapturous cheers and began drooling and speaking in tongues as they always do when in the presence of Dear Leader. However, those who are not members of the Codpiece Cult might be expected to stay implanted on the reservation if they see this "explanation." If any ads are done, this might be a good little piece of political theatre to show to the non-indoctrinated.
Via Salon.com Politics:
digby 2/07/2005 11:33:00 AM