Observations on the world today.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Which is Worse, The Lie Or Pointing Out the Lie? 

Everybody, and I mean everybody on the left seems to be taking Nicholas Kristof to task for this editorial. So why should I be any different?

Kristoff writes:
I'm against the "liar" label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding.
Well, let's take that second point first. While he is correct that insults and rage for their own sake impede understanding, I feel that justifiable rage can awaken a disinterested electorate. It's why I supported Dean. As for insults, it depends on the insult. Calling Rush Limbaugh (for example) fat serves no purpose, but calling him a hypocrite does. Simarly, calling Bush a former cokehead is meritless (as it was when the title of former pothead was used against Clinton,) but calling Bush a liar (if true) is perfectly reasonable given that the man is POTUS. And as Kristof himself notes, it also has the benefit of being true:
True, Mr. Bush boasted that he doesn't normally read newspaper articles, when his wife said he does. And Mr. Bush wrongly claimed that he was watching on television on the morning of 9/11 as the first airplane hit the World Trade Center.
But then Kristof goes on to excuse these lies:
But considering the odd things the president often says ("I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family"), Mr. Bush always has available a prima facie defense of confusion.
Wrong. He's POTUS, President of the United States. It doesn't matter why he is lying or even if he doesn't know that he is lying. Because even if you accept this explaination, SOMEBODY in the administration knows the truth, And taken as a body, they rely on his getting away with the lies on their behalf.

So now that we have established that Bush does in fact lie, the question becomes do we call him on the lies or hold ourselves to a higher level of civility?

Well, we've been civil in the past. Bush lied about McCain, and we were civil. He lied about Gore, and we were civil. He lied about his tax cuts, and we were civil. He lied about WMD, about the threat from Iraq, about his Medicare numbers, and we were civil. And what has it gotten us?


Kristof opposes the liar label because it polarizes the political cesspool. But our family is being sucked into that cesspool, and unless we are willing to jump in and get ourselves covered in a little of the GOP shit, we are going to watch them drown. The democratic children, the twins (Medicare and SSI,) will fail. The liberal's spouse (strong foreign relations) will die. Even our left-wing mother (the ecology and the environment) will suffocate in a deluge of GOP disinformation.

Bush lies. There is no shame in saying so if it is true, and if it will get us elected into the White House in time to stop the damage before it can get any worse.



Thursday, July 01, 2004

Bush at NATO 

So George W. Bush is meeting with the NATO leadership to try to push for democratic reform in the Middle East. While the goal is admirable, it might have been a little easier to achieve before he began acting like an Imperial War Lord, but - whatever.

One wonders how this homebody with a limited command of the English language and an antipathy to all things non-American is dealing with the jet-lag, the spicey food and the frustrating language barrier.

Hey, it could be worse.

(Note: It's called a JOKE!)



Okay, Who Told? 


FINALLY, it's sinking in.



Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Brit Hume's Distortions and Missteps 

FOXNews.com - Special Report w/ Brit Hume - Political Grapevine - Distorted Times?
The New York Times' ombudsman, public editor Daniel Okrent, says his paper's headline a week and a half ago saying "9/11 Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie" was a — "distortion" and a — "misstep." As we noted at the time, the 9/11 Commission said there were links, though no evidence of any Iraqi involvement in Al Qaeda attacks on this country.

And so, Okrent says, — "good reporting and careful presentation are ... needed" at the Times. But, Okrent insists, the distortion was not intentional.
Okrent, even according to what Hume writes, only said the headline was a misstep and a distortion. He does not say the story was wrong in any way. And here is what Okrent actually said, and how he used the words "distortion" and "misstep" which are the only words Hume chose to quote in his apparent assertion that the Times retracted the story. First, here is how Okrent used the word "distorion":
Stretching across four columns of the front page, the June 17 headline "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie; Describes a Wider Plot for 9/11" caused some readers, including Vice President Dick Cheney, to accuse The Times of "outrageous" (Cheney's word) distortion of the 9/11 commission's staff report. I don't buy "outrageous," but "distortion" works for me - specifically, the common newspaper crime of distortion by abbreviation (Emphasis mine; Mister). The staff report was largely concerned with attacks on United States soil, whereas the headline bore no such qualification. The headline also leaned on two of those words whose brevity makes them dear to all newsrooms: the resolute "no," and the imprecise "tie." Assistant managing editor Craig Whitney, who oversees the front page, argues that "tie" in the headline is "a correct shorthand summary" of the report's conclusion that there appeared to be no "collaborative relationship" between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
Now here is how he used the word "misstep":
While headlines may be short, their impact is large. Willful distortion? I don't see it. Misstep? Sure. Is an apology needed, as Internet columnist Bob Kohn, one of the paper's most forceful (and, often, most incisive) critics on the right, demanded by e-mail? No. Good reporting and careful presentation are what's needed. If out-of-tune headlines required apologies, the newspaper business would soon turn into a cacophony of confession.
And note the sentence which I italicized. It's the sentence that Hume suggests is the Times Ombudsman saying they need to fix their reporting (although he substituted elipses for the telling word "what's".) But that's not what Okrent is saying at all. He's saying that since the reporting was good there is no need to apologize for a headline which utilized shorthand. Brit Hume now needs to admit that he lied distorted the actual gist of the story. Further, he should acknowledge this blatant attempt to gull his audience of idiotic sheep misstep.



Seperated At Birth? Q&Ass 

Has anyone else ever noted the incredible likeness between Bill O'Reilly and the Q, the charater from the Star Trek series portrayed so brilliantly by the incomperable John deLancie? Here's a little game to play.

Q Which of the two men pictured here is the peevish, infantile, tantrum-throwing character who fancies himself omnipotent, and which one is Q?

A The one on the left is the fictional demigod. The one on the right is the real life demagogue.



Coming Home 

TheKCRAChannel.com - News - Body Of Fallen Tracy Soldier Comes Home
The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq summoned news outlets to photograph her son's flag-draped casket arriving at Sacramento International Airport to protest a Pentagon policy banning media coverage of America's war dead.

Nearly a dozen reporters, photographers and television crews watched as the coffin of Army Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, 34, was transferred to a hearse outside an airport cargo terminal shortly before midnight Sunday, officials said.

"I feel empty, hurt, numb," his mother, Nadia McCaffrey, told the Los Angeles Times. "I am not angry, I am not revengeful. I'm just hurt that my son's life is gone, and they should stop what they're doing."
Here is another story about this, and a picture of the returning fallen.

Here is the thing about this situation. There is no good reason to hide these pictures. If you are worried that they will be used to sway opinion against the war, then you must be worried that the war is improper.



Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Great Minds 

Sibel Update 

The Memory Hole > Classified Letters Regarding FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds

The Memory Hole has some of the retroactively classified letters concerning Sibel Edmonds available online.

In one Senator Lehey writes to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine:
Ms. Edmonds has alleged, and the FBI has confirmed, that another contract linguist in the FBI unit to which Ms. Edmonds was assigned failed to translate at least two communications reflecting a foreign official's handling of intelligence matters. The FBI has confirmed that the contract linguist had "unreported contacts" with that foreign official. To what extent did that contract linguist have any additional unreported or reported contacts with that foreign official? What counterintelligence inquiries or assessments, if any, were made with respect to those contacts? Do you plan to interview field office and headquarters counterintelligence personnel regarding this matter?
Fines apparent answer:
Umm, no, we plan to classify everything and pretend it never happened.
To Ashcroft, Lehey writes:
By way of background, Ms. Edmonds first raised concerns about security problems and the integrity of important translations earlier this year. Unfortunately, nearly every person at the FBI who was notified of the situation reacted by questioning why Ms. Edmonds was "causing trouble." Indeed, the FBI's first internal security action in this case focused on Ms. Edmonds, instead of the allegations that she raised in good faith as a whistleblower and which bore on national security and the war against terrorism.

Ms. Edmonds has made a number of serious allegations, some of which the FBI verified during an unclassified briefing for Judiciary Committee staff on June 17. First, Ms. Edmonds has alleged that a contract monitor in her unit ("monitor") chose not to translate important, intelligence-related information, instead limiting her translation to unimportant and innocuous information. The FBI has verified that this monitor indeed failed to translate intelligence-related information, but has attributed the failure to a lack of training as opposed to a malicious act.

That conclusion is directly related to Ms. Edmond's second allegation. Ms. Edmonds alleged that the same contract monitor once worked for an organization associated with the target of a counter-intelligence investigation and that the monitor had unreported contacts with a foreign national who was a member of the target institution. Additionally, Ms. Edmonds states that some of the mistranslated recordings on which the monitor actually worked contained conversations by this same foreign national with whom the monitor had such contacts. Finally, the foreign national disclosed in recorded conversations that he handled intelligence matters. This fact was among the information that was not translated or summarized by the monitor.

Even after verifying these allegations, the FBI downplayed the importance of this matter and seemed to imply that it had ceased looking into the complaints as a security matter until after the Inspector General Office finishes its investigation.
Ashcroft's apparent response:
Go f#@% yourself.
I think he learned that from Cheney.

In other Sibel news: Ashcroft's gonna get it.
The federal government's secrecy watchdog is conducting an inquiry into whether Attorney General John Ashcroft acted properly in classifying information relating to a lawsuit brought by a whistleblower from the FBI's translation unit.

Sibel Edmonds, a contract translator who blew the whistle on mismanagement, inefficiency and serious security problems, is suing the Department of Justice for violating her First Amendment rights by quashing her claims against the FBI with the rarely invoked "state-secrets privilege."



Monday, June 28, 2004

Sovereignty, Or Something Like It 

Yahoo! News - U.S. Transfers Sovereignty to Iraqi Govt.
The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government Monday, speeding up the move by two days in an apparent bid to surprise insurgents who may have tried to sabotage the step toward self rule.

Legal documents turning over sovereignty were handed by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in a ceremony in the heavily guarded Green Zone.
Well, this was a smooth move.

And there were those who said it would never happen. Oh, wait, no there weren't. That's a strawman. Never mind. Good thing that in the rush to get this done, Bush was able to squeak in that war crimes exemption. Whew!



Sunday, June 27, 2004

Bush: That Flippery Rascal 

Story courtesy of Talkleft:

Shackled Saddam to be hauled in dock within days: Rubaie
A handcuffed and chained Saddam Hussein will be hauled in front of an Iraqi judge within days to hear his arrest warrant, Iraq's national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said in a televised interview.

"We're going to have control of Saddam Hussein.

"We're going to have two American military MPs to hand him over to four Iraqi policemen. They will put a chain (on him) and take him to the waiting room," Rubaie told CBS anchorman Dan Rather.

"The judge will call his name, Saddam Hussein Majid. And they will bring him in... open his chain, handcuff and take him to the judge and the judge is going to give him his rights and his defense and he's going to issue an arrest warrant against Saddam Hussein.

"They're going to put the handcuffs on him. Take him... controlled by Iraqi policemen."
Hmm, what a difference a week makes.
The United States will transfer legal custody of Saddam Hussein and other top prisoners to Iraqi authorities as soon as Iraqi courts issue the necessary warrants, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

But U.S. forces won't let go of the former dictator, even after Iraq regains its sovereignty next week, because it doesn't have a prison strong enough to hold him, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And this story wasn't just the story told by the Iraqi overlords Coaliton Provisional Authority. This came from the Bushitter himeslf:
President Bush said yesterday he was not ready to set a date for handing over custody of Saddam Hussein to Iraq's interim government, saying he wants firm assurances Saddam would not somehow be freed or avoid a criminal trial.

Bush, addressing reporters beside Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, noted that as a sovereign nation, Iraq would ultimately assume custody of Saddam and authority over his legal fate. But Bush made clear that he needed more confidence that the former Iraqi president could not evade justice.

"Nobody wants Saddam Hussein to leave, and when there's a transfer of responsibility, we want to make sure that he is secure," the president said. "He's a killer. He's a thug. He needs to be brought to trial."
So if it's true that Hussein is going to be given to the Iraqis this early, that would make this another flip-flop.

Of course, if it's true, it would also be another example of Powell being left out of the loop.
The interim prime minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, and the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, have disagreed over who will have custody of Saddam Hussein once power is transferred to an Iraqi regime on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the former dictator is to be moved to a new jail with Iraqi guards and limited support from the US-led military at the start of July.

Speaking in a television interview, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said legal custody would be handed over soon but maintained that Sadaam would be in US hands for the foreseeable future.
I'm going to have to come up with a graphic for that. Maybe something like this:



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?