Friday, 14 December 2007
THE NEW YORK TIMES' ROOTING INTEREST
Let's play a game of suppose.
Suppose you are an al qaeda "leader", maybe bin laden or zawahiri. What kinds of
things would be on your wish list for the USA?
How about these:
-Making it significantly harder for authorities to monitor the telephone
conversations of your terrorist operatives;
-Disallowing interrogation techniques like waterboarding, even with the
hardest cases who have the most information to provide (waterboarding has only
been used three times that we are aware of and is not - repeat, not - legally
defined as torture);
-Ignoring the nuclear threat of nations friendly to your kind
of terrorism, like Iran, by acting on a statement within the latest NIE report which said
Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but
disregarding detailed information in the same report that Iran's "peaceful" nuclear program was
comprised of virtually the same steps necessary to create nuclear
Could anything make bin laden and zawahiri any happier? Short of
the USA renouncing democracy and pledging loyalty to shari'a law, I doubt it.
With this in mind, here is the New York Times' lead editorial today.
See how you think bin laden and zawahiri feel about it:
Notes From the Global
War on Terror
During the presidential campaign, candidates from
both parties will warn of the risk of another terrorist attack on this country.
Americans should insist that they also explain how they will repair the damage
President Bush has done to Americas intelligence-gathering capabilities in the
name of fighting terrorism.
Congress certainly has not done the job. For six
years, it stood by mutely or actively approved as President Bushs team cooked
the books to justify war, drew the nations electronic spies into illegal
wiretapping and turned intelligence agents and uniformed soldiers into torturers
at outlaw prisons.
Now, with the opposition party in control on
Capitol Hill, lawmakers have a chance to start setting right some wrongs in
these areas. But there are disturbing signs that they will once again fail to do
what is needed.
the disclosure that Mr. Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to
eavesdrop on Americans international phone calls and e-mail messages without a
court warrant, Congress has been struggling to write a law that does three
important things: force the president to obey the 1978 Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, or FISA; preserve the power of judges to approve and monitor
surveillance of Americans; and update FISA to keep pace with technology. Last
summer, Congress gave Mr. Bush a bill that had the needed updates but made it
easier to spy on Americans.
That law expires in February, and the House has
passed a bill that updates FISA while doing a great deal to ensure real judicial
and Congressional oversight of any eavesdropping. The Senate Judiciary Committee
also wrote a bill that does those things with a sensible two-year expiration
Mr. Bush, of course, wants fewer, not more,
restrictions and wants those powers to be made permanent. He also wants amnesty
for telecommunications companies that gave Americans private data to the
government for at least five years without a warrant.
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, seems
intent on doing the presidents bidding. He has indicated that instead of the
Judiciary Committees bill, he may put on the floor a deeply flawed measure from
the Senate Intelligence Committee that dangerously expands the governments
powers and gives undeserved amnesty to the telecommunications companies. The
White House says amnesty is intended to ensure future cooperation but seems
truly aimed at making sure the public never learns the extent of the companies
involvement in illegal wiretapping.
That will leave Democratic senators like
Christopher Dodd and Russ Feingold in the absurd position of having to stage
filibusters against their own partys leadership to try to forestall more harm
to civil liberties.
INTERROGATIONS AND TORTURE The recent disclosure that
the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed videotapes of the interrogation of two
Al Qaeda prisoners was a stark reminder of the catastrophic blunder that
Congress made by enacting the Military Commissions Act of 2006. In addition to
creating kangaroo courts to try the Guantnamo detainees, the bill permitted Mr.
Bush to abrogate the Geneva Conventions by creating secret, extra-legal rules
for interrogations by intelligence agents.
It was obvious that the tapes were destroyed to
protect interrogators or their bosses from being held responsible for illegal
acts like waterboarding. Congress must investigate the destruction of the tapes,
using subpoenas, if necessary, to officials like John Rizzo, the C.I.A.s senior
lawyer, and Jose Rodriguez, the former chief of clandestine services, who
ordered the tapes destruction in 2005.
MISUSE OF INTELLIGENCE Americans were stunned when the White House
released a new intelligence assessment that said that Iran had halted its covert
nuclear weapons program in 2003. Beyond those startling facts were questions
about whether Mr. Bush knew of this assessment when he was warning about World
War III if Iran were allowed to get a nuclear weapon.
And that was a reminder of another time when Mr.
Bush misled the nation about Iraqi weapons programs that had long disappeared.
The Senate Intelligence Committee was supposed to have an investigation years
ago into what Mr. Bush and other officials knew about the intelligence on Iraqs
weapons when they used it to stampede the country into war.
For more than two years, the Republican chairman
of the committee, Senator Pat Roberts, made sure that a report would never be
finished. It has now been in the hands of his replacement, Democrat Jay
Rockefeller, for nearly a year, and there is still no report. That means
Americans still dont know whether Mr. Bush deliberately hyped and distorted the
intelligence on Iraq or was also misinformed.
Americans need to know what Mr. Bush knew on both
Iraq and Iran, and when he knew it. Anything less is unacceptable. .
I've asked this before but, having read the Times editorial, I
have to ask again:
Which side are they rooting for?
PARALEPSIS FROM THE CLINTON CAMP
In previous blogs, I've talked about the rhetorical device known as
"paralepsis". Paralepsis is when you communicate something by pretending
not to communicate it (e.g. "my opponent's frequent visits to strip clubs has no
place in this campaign").
I am mentioning it again because now, as Hillary Clinton's presidential
nomination is becoming less and less certain, her campaign has taken
to using it.
This week we had a nearly perfect example of how it's done from Ms. Clinton's
campaign co-chair (I think there may be 10,000 co-chairs for this campaign,
everybody seems to be one), "Bill" Shaheen.
Mr. Shaheen is hardly a newbie in politics. His wife, Jean, was
the governor of New Hampshire and is currently a candidate for the senate.
So it is reasonable to assume that Shaheen knew what he was doing when he
attacked Barack Obama on the grounds that Obama's (self-admitted) drug and
alcohol usage during his teen years would become an issue in the general
Mr. Shaheen's exact words were
"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did
you sell them to anyone?'" Shaheen said. "There are so many openings for
Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."
That is political poetry in motion. Not only does Mr. Shaheen get out
the attack line on Senator Obama, but he blames Republicans for
doing it and attacks them! I didn't say it, y'see, I'm just
channeling what those dastardly Republicans were going to say.
If this had been done maybe a month or two ago, media - which at that
time were still jumping through hoops for Hillary - would have let it go and it
might have sunk the then-fledgling Obama candidacy.
But Mr. Shaheen's attack took place now, as media are clearly starting
to become horrified that Queen Hillary is not so inevitable as they thought and
maybe there has to be a different Democratic candidate. So it was
reported in context, seen for the hit job it was, and backfired into a major
(Parenthetically, I would be remiss not to say that I consider the
hypothetical questions Shaheen raised to be perfectly legitimate and, if I were
the Republican candidate running against him, I would ask them. I call
this a "hit job" because Shaheen pretended the questions were not
legitimate while simultaneously making sure everyone heard them).
Now, in full damage-control mode, Mr. Shaheen has apologized (he had to
for her sake) and "resigned" from the Clinton campaign.
I put resigned in quotation marks because I believe this resignation about as
much as I believe that when a manager is tossed out of a baseball game he
doesn't stand next to the dugout door and tell his team what to do anyway.
But it is undeniable that, in this instance, paralepsis turned a campaign
operative into a paraleper. The question is how badly it hurts Ms. Clinton
- the one who more than likely put him up to it in the first place.
PEACE PARTNER UPDATE
Here, courtesy of www.imra.org.il
, is the latest update from those sweet, fun-loving folks in
Gaza; the ones Israel is told it should make peace with.
The insanity is Gaza's, the bold print is mine:
|Friday, December 14, 2007|
|Four killed, 30 injured in Palestinian
grenade attack on Palestinian funeral in Gaza |
|Four killed, 30 injured in grenade attack
on funeral in Gaza|
Date: 14 / 12 / 2007 Time: 13:16
Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian medical
sources announced on Friday that four
Palestinians were killed and more
than 30 injured during the funeral
procession of Khalil Masar'a, who
was killed yesterday in Israeli shelling
in the Sheikh Radwan
neighborhood of Gaza City.
Mu'awiya Hassanain, the director of
ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian health ministry said
that four people were killed and more than 30 were injured during the
funeral as a result of a grenade being hurled. He described five of the
injured as being in a serious condition.
He named the dead as twenty-year-old Mu'taz
twenty-three-year-old Yousif Abu Ryala and
eighteen-year-old Zuhair Awad, in addition to Ashraf Al-Ashqar, who fell
from the top of a building while the funeral procession marched past.
The spokesperson of the
Fatah-affiliated Sami Al-Ghool Brigades, a division of the Al-Aqsa
Brigades, also confirmed that a grenade was hurled at the crowd of
mourners attending the funeral.
High-ranking Fatah official Ibrahim
Abu An-Naja condemned the attack on the funeral. He told Ma'an that such
practices only serve the Israeli
The spokesperson of the Hamas-affiliated
police in the Gaza Strip Islam
Shahwan said that the grenade targeted
one of the mourners and that
Let me be the first to wonder out loud how Israel could possibly have a
problem making peace with these kindly, gentle people.
A grenade is launched into a funeral procession. Why? Because
Hamas, which runs most of the government and took over all of Gaza through
violence, wanted to kill one of the attendees.
What about civilian casualties
among the people NOT being targeted? No problem at all.
And let's not forget that condemnation. Why was it made?
Not because this is a depraved, mindlessly violent act
that killed many innocents. But because the attack might
somehow help Israel.
The fact that there are many Gazans who are dead and injured? Who
gives a damn.
Yeah, there's a peace partner all right.
KEYES, KUCINICH AND MEDIA MANIPULATION
Alan Keyes holds no political office. He has no presence in the
polls, no organization and virtually no support. Mr.
Keyes' nonstop rants, often completely off topic, embarrass Republican
frontrunners. He has been in no Presidential debates until two days
Dennis Kucinich is an elected congressperson running for
President. Although he does not appear to have a realistic chance of
winning the nomination, he does have pockets of significant
support. Mr. Kucinich takes strong, leftist stands on major issues
which often draw strongly positive reaction from Democratic
audiences. His political stands and the positive audience reaction to
them embarrass Democratic frontrunners. He has been in almost every
Presidential debate until two days ago.
The Des Moines Register ran a Republican debate two days ago and included
Alan Keyes. The Des Moines Register ran a Democratic debate yesterday and
excluded Dennis Kucinich.
Now why would that be?
It was reported that the Register would put an explanation of why Alan
Keyes, an absolute nonentity without any credibility as a Presidential
candidate, would have been there to upstage and embarrass Republicans. I
went to the paper's website and searched every logical combination I could think
of, including "Alan Keyes", Alan Keyes debate", Alan Keyes Republican Debate"
and "Alan Keyes Debate Criteria". Nothing came up to explain his presence
But I did find a feature article about why Dennis Kucinich was
excluded. Here is the relevant excerpt from that article:.
Kucinich fans wanted him in
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Fans of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich ripped
into organizers of Thursdays Democratic debate for excluding their
They did not buy the explanation from Des Moines Register
leaders, who said Kucinich failed to meet their criteria because he didnt have
Iowa office space.
I just thought the excuse was absurd, said
Christiane Brown, a Kucinich supporter who hosts a political talk show on radio
in Reno, Nev.
Kucinich backers anger was fanned by the fact
that two trailing GOP candidates, Alan Keyes and Duncan Hunter, were invited to
the Registers Republican debate Wednesday. Debate organizers said those
candidates met all five entrance criteria, but Kucinich did not.
officials say Kucinichs Iowa office is in donated space at the home of a
Register Vice President of Marketing Susan Patterson
Plank said the campaigns explanation did not suffice. The decision by the Des
Moines Register was that they needed to have an office, not in someones home,
Publisher Laura Hollingsworth released a statement
saying the criteria were designed to ensure a serious debate, not to exclude
specific candidates. Iowans look for and expect a commitment from candidates
during this process, including having an office, having staffers, polling at 1
percent and higher.
Brown said she and others suspected the Democratic
Party establishment was behind the exclusion because of fears that Kucinich
would raise uncomfortable issues. Patterson Plank denied it. Of course not.
That is not true, she said. .
There you have it, folks. The reason given by the Des Moines Register
to explain why Congressperson Kucinich was not allowed on that stage is
that they didn't like where his office was. I kid you not. Read it
again and see. Those words aren't going to change.,
So Alan Keyes, who embarrasses Republican frontrunners, is
included for no stated reason. And Dennis Kucinich, who
damages and embarrasses every frontrunner (which is exactly what the
frontrunners try to do to each other!) is excluded based on the quality of his
Bottome line? The Des Moines Register has intentionally manipulated
both debates. The result of its manipulation is damaging to the Republican
frontrunners and helpful to the Democratic frontrunners.
This is a textbook case in media bias and a textbool lesson in how it is
done. I hope we all learn well from it.
WHEN THE MEDIA ELITE MAKE A MISTAKE
Fiorello LaGuardia, the former mayor of New York City, was
a very colorful man. One of his most quoted lines was "when I make a mistake,
it's a beaut"
I think if The Little Flower were alive today he would give license to
WNBC-TV-New York to use that quote. Loudly. Here's why:.
WNBC's Bogus Steroids Scoop
Pujols, Nomar, Varitek on phony Mitchell list
published by station
DECEMBER 14--Shortly after ESPN broke the
news yesterday that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte would be nailed in the
Mitchell Report, WNBC-TV, the NBC affiliate in New York, blew the story wide
open. "Newschannel 4's Jonathan Dienst has obtained the expected list of current
and former major league players linked to steroids, according to George
Mitchell's investigation," reported the station's web site at 11:23 AM. The WNBC
story then unspooled a list of 75 purported juicers, including Albert Pujols,
Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell,
Milton Bradley, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Trot Nixon, Mike Cameron, Brady
Anderson, Albert Belle, and Kyle Farnsworth. The WNBC exclusive, which is
reprinted below, was posted seven minutes after an identical list of names was
published by the sports blog Deadspin,
which reported that it had been forwarded the names by "about 25 different
people" during the preceding hour. The list, which was whipping around via
e-mail, "could very likely be one of those Web urban legends that somehow got
around," Deadspin cautioned. WNBC, though, showed no such reserve. The station
reported that it had received the list from "two separate sources" (which was
still 23 "sources" fewer than Deadspin). But after WNBC posted the list,
baseball officials began refuting the story, with the station reporting that
Major League Baseball brass said there were "several discrepancies between the
list posted and Mitchell's list." As it turned out, it was several dozen
"discrepancies," with nearly half the names in WNBC's story not appearing in
Mitchell's report. In fact, every name above--from Pujols to Farnsworth--can not
be found in the Mitchell Report. The list was
eventually yanked from the WNBC web site out of "an abundance of caution," the
station reported in an updated story. The station has yet to retract (or
apologize for) its original reporting. (1 page) .
That last line says it all. "The station has yet to retract (or
apologize for) its original reporting"
This is what being a member of the media elite is all about. You can
attack everyone else and jump all over their mistakes. But
yours are to be immediately forgotten. No retraction or apology
Hey, just because when you make a mistake it's a beaut, doesn't mean you have
to ADMIT to the beaut, does it?