Plame-Gate: I Dare Call It Treason After 9/11, I took the opinion (which I still hold), that if members of the Bush regime or the CIA were to use illegal tactics to extract information from captured members of al Qaeda, then so much the better; the security of the American people should trump other concerns. However, what happened with the Plame affair was much different: loyalty to the Bush regime trumped concerns about the safety and security of the American people. The Bush regime engaged in illegal tactics involving the CIA, but this involves weakening our security and making Americans more vulnerable to attacks from groups like al Qaeda. Mark Kleiman, who is following Plame-gate closely, doesn’t want to believe it, but it’s true (I don’t want to believe it either, but I know what the thugs occupying the White House are capable of doing such as daring Iraqis to attack our soldiers: ”Bring ‘em on”).
Here are just a few consequences of the Plame affair:
1) The weakening of our intelligence regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
2) Terrorist attacks are easier because Plame’s cover was blown.
3) Plame’s life is endangered—as well as the various contacts she has made throughout her career.
4) Plame’s career is destroyed. Her only sin was to be married to a man who told the truth (in the eyes of the Bush regime, this is disloyalty, a sin greater than any other—including treason).
5) The intimidation of whistleblowers who can provide information that can strengthen our defense against terrorists.
6) It is an assault against the rule of law. Where’s the outrage by those who cited the rule of law when the issue was the denial of a blowjob? (more on this later).
This stinks to high heaven. Let’s call the Bush regime’s actions what they are: treason. Ann Coulter is silent about the matter (apparently she is too busy red-baiting patriots like George C., Marshall whose hard work protected western Europe from communism). I knew the members of the Bush regime care only about themselves, but I didn’t think they would stoop this low—not because they aren’t thugs but because I thought they would forgo this kind of petty payback out of self-interest: the next terrorist attack could be against them.
Slowly but surely, Plame-gate is getting legs. This, of course, is no thanks to the same people who tried to promote non-scandals such as Whitewater and the White House Travel Office firings. One of the people who expressed outrage at various Clinton non-scandals was pompous blowhard William Bennett. Bennett is attempting to establish his reputation as a moral arbiter after the stunning expose that he was a problem gambler—most recently he has, at long last, come clean about the fact that he lost a shitload of money (nobody believed his bullshit story that he almost broke even).
If Bennett were sincere about doing the right thing, then first he could start by denouncing this outrage against the American people by the Bush regime. If the guy could get worked up enough to write a book encouraging the American people to get outraged over a president who got blown and didn’t want to talk about it, then he should have no problem with call for outrage against a regime that is putting the American people in danger. I’m waiting.
More on Plame Later I'll have a new post up on the Valerie Plame affair, if not today, then on Saturday. I'm gearing up to see Seabiscuit (no, Ann Coulter didn't get the title role) to see if there's a good shot of me (I was an extra). I was in four scenes, two of which there is a good chance that I'm in a prominent shot: 1) In the St. Louis fight scene, I'm am in the front row standing ringside by the benches; I'm wearing a suit and fedora.
It's Valerie Plame, Stupid One way to take down this regime is to make sure that the media doesn't give Bush and his henchmen a free pass on their treachery regarding the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. It's outrageous that Plame, an operative whose responsibility was to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, had her cover blown by small-minded and vindictive members of the Bush regime. Could you imagine the hue and cry if members of the Clinton administration had done something as illegal and unpatriotic as this? These thugs are playing with our lives in order to intimidate dissenters. Mark Gisleson is doing a good job of following Plame-gate.
ESPN and The Mainstreaming of the Politics of Hate
Rush Limbaugh is a poor excuse for a human being. He is a racist. He is a liar and a rabble-rouser. He defended racists, such as Trent Lott. He smears people by distorting their words. Limbaugh exploited national tragedies to smear political opponents (click here and see addendum).
What makes Limbaugh dangerous is not Limbaugh himself but the attempts to airbrush his hatemongering by people in the mainstream media. Limbaugh, despite his bluster (he once wrote an article titled, “Why Liberals Fear Me”), is a pussy--which is the case for most bullies. Limbaugh is quick to hit the mute button when he gets a caller who wants to challenge his lies (I got on his show and was muted twice by El Rushbo (click here and here); click here for another caller who was muted). Bully-boys like Limbaugh exist because journalists like Edward R. Murrow are not around anymore. America is ill served by the lazy journalists who have taken Murrow’s place. It hurts America when a lazy excuse for a media watchdog like Howard Kurtz shills for Limbaugh. Ditto for when Tom Brokaw gave Limbaugh credence. But the contrast between Murrow and today’s brand of journalist was made clear by Ted Koppel’s disgraceful performance. Koppel could have given Limbaugh a knockout punch when the topic of Limbaugh’s rumor-mongering regarding Vince Foster's death was brought up. Instead of exposing Limbaugh as a liar, Koppel covered for Limbaugh.
The latest attempt to mainstream Limbaugh and the politics of hate is by ESPN, which hired the hate radio jock hired as a pre-game commentator. I agree with Michael Tomasky that this is just another manifestation of the right “to politicize aspects of life that had not historically been overtly political.” Also, I have concerns not only about the mainstreaming of Limbaugh but similar concerns that Jeff Cohen and Steve Rendell had when ABC was considering hiring Limbaugh for Monday Night Football a few years ago: is it proper to have a racist like Limbaugh covering the NFL—which is 70 percent African-American? Cohen and Rendell gave examples of Limbaugh’s various racist statements.
What is to be done? I think one easy way to address this problem is for African-American NFL players to tell ESPN to stuff it. Why should they cooperate with a network whose idea of a commentator is someone who told an African-American caller to “take that bone out of your nose”? That would be one quick way to put Limbaugh back on the margins--where he belongs.
From the speech Clinton gave in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing:
In this country we cherish and guard the right of free speech. We know we love it when we put up with people saying things we absolutely deplore. And we must always be willing to defend their right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. But we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see -- I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.
Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.
If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too, and we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.
If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.
Though Clinton certainly never identified Limbaugh as one of those "angry voices," almost immediately Limbaugh responded with cries of censorship and claims that Clinton was attempting to silence him. The protests have continued so steadily that the claim that Clinton blamed Limbaugh has become a stock theme about the supposed perfidy of liberals. Indeed, Ann Coulter herself continued this meme in her book, Slander: Liberal Lies About The American Right, pp. 92-93: "When impeached former president Bill Clinton identified Rush Limbaugh as the cause of the Oklahoma City bombing, he unleashed all the typical liberal curse words for conservatives. He blamed 'loud and angry voices' heard 'over the airwaves in America' that were making people 'paranoid' and spreading hate."
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
Of course, Clinton did not name anyone, even though the voices he probably had more in mind were those belong to the likes G. Gordon "Head Shots" Liddy and some of the more vicious Patriot types like Chuck Harder, who constantly hawked Patriot conspiracy theories outright, alongside a full dose of rhetoric about the violent resistance of federal agents. But in fact Clinton used very general terms probably because he recognized the reality as well, which was that characters like Limbaugh and his fellow movement arch-conservatives have been irresponsible as well -- perhaps not to the same degree, except for the fact that the reach of transmitters like Limbaugh is so massive.
Note from Scoobie: click here for a more humorous response to Limbaugh’s accusations.
Attitude of Gratitude Yesterday, I was cursing my luck because I had to go down to Long Beach for a job interview that wasn't to be because the interview scheduler gave me the wrong date. Had I not had the interview, I might have been in Santa Monica where tragedy occurred. I'm counting my blessings.
America’s Worst Newspaper A few months ago, The New York Post came to Los Angeles. I was going to write about it, but I thought, “What’s the point?” It would have been too easy. The New York Post is for people who are too lazy to watch television. When I passed the newspaper racks that held the Post, I read the headlines —I don’t know why people in LA would pay a buck to read a tabloid with headlines about New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg.
A few days ago, a copy of the Post was left on a newspaper rack. I opened it up and it was worse than I remember it being. It reminded me of the late Mike Royko—who left the Chicago Sun-Times when Murdoch bought. Royko said that no self-respecting fish would allow itself to be wrapped in a Murdoch newspaper. Royko later said a truism about Murdoch--which is particularly relevant since “The Alien” (Royko’s nickname for Murdoch) has control over the “fair and balanced” Fox News. Royko pointed out how damn supercilious Murdoch was: Murdoch thought people were boobs; that was why Murdoch started boob-mentality newspapers or acquired newspapers and then dumbed them down. Fox News is the logical outgrowth of Murdoch’s philosophy.
Run Wesley Run! Franklin Foer and Jack Beatty make strong cases for the presidential candidacy of retired General Wesley Clark. The more I read about General Clark, the more I like him. But there is one huge reason that he should be the Democratic nominee: he can beat Bush--and possibly handily.
This Year's Glitter 2001's Glitter starring Mariah Carey was one of those movies people loved to hate. I saw the promotional signs for the upcoming Ben Afleck/Jennifer Lopez flick Gigli and it reminded me of Glitter. From what I read in the review in Ain't It Cool News, Gigli appears to be a poor man's Pritzi's Honor. I predict a bomb.
Michael Savage: Free Speech Martyr? Kudos to East Coast Bob. This phone prankster single-handedly got Michael Savage (Weiner) fired from his MSNBC show. In terms of the impact of televised phone pranks, East Coast Bob outdid Captain Janks, one of Howard Stern’s cronies, who in 1996 called the Rosie O’Donnell Show claiming to be Philadelphia major Ed Rendell and called O’Donnell “a big fat pig” on live TV (Don’t get me wrong; I thought Janks’ comments were cruel and uncalled for; I’m referring to the impact and publicity of the phone prank).
East Coast Bob got through when Savage was discussing airline horror stories and apparently began to insult Savage (he was partially muted) and Savage went off on him:
"So you're one of those sodomists. Are you a sodomite?" East Coast Bob replied: "Yes, I am." "Oh, you're one of the sodomites," Savage responded: "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."
MSNBC was not amused. MSNBC canned Savage in a big hurry. "His comments were extremely inappropriate and the decision was an easy one," said an MSNBC spokesman. This leaves some unanswered questions. First, why was this lunkhead hired in the first place? As I wrote about Savage previously, this man is an addlebrained and barely coherent rabble-rouser (click here and go to “Isn’t It Ironic” to read the transcript of another of his outbursts).
Taranto is engaging in sophistry. This deserves elaboration. Savage’s situation differs from Maines’ situation in three major ways:
1) The nature of the words
2) The critics
3) How the critics responded to the words
First, the nature of the words. Taranto referred to Maines’ comment as “obnoxious.” Actually, it is rather mild compared to what Taranto’s cronies have said and written about President Clinton (more on this later). On the other hand, Savage’s words were hateful name-calling. Hoping that someone dies from AIDS is cruel. Also, Savage is sixty years old; suggesting that someone is a homosexual because one doesn’t like what another person says is a debating tactic that Savage should have abandoned sometime during Eisenhower’s first term. MSNBC was fully justified in getting rid of him.
The critics of Maines and Savage. Savage was rightly fired from MSNBC for his comments and MSNBC had a reasonable basis to make the decision. On the other hand, the biggest critics of Maines were people who were engaged in wholesale hypocrisy. Clear Channel, which was one of Maines’ most vocal critics, has in its employ, Rush Limbaugh, who has made vicious allegations against President Clinton and other Democrats. Limbaugh was part of the cabal (along with Roger Ailes) who planted the false story that the Clintons were responsible for the death of Vince Foster. More recently, Limbaugh questioned the courage and leadership of John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam commander (scroll down to May 22 and click here). By the way, Limbaugh used the pimple-on-the-ass excuse to get out of military service. Another of Maines’ prominent critics was Newsmax’s Christopher Ruddy, one of Scaife’s monkeyboys who was the godfather of the paranoid view that the Clintons were responsible for Foster’s death (Ruddy’s book on the matter was even criticized by fellow wingnut Ann Coulter as “conservative hoax book”).
Let’s look at the response of the critics to the words of Savage and Maines. With Savage, MSNBC fired him and gave a reasonable explanation for the firing. Commentators on the matter have generally acknowledged that Savage is a whacko and that his sodomite comments were consistent with his previous rhetoric—a fair criticism. On the other hand, after Maines made the comment, the critics acted as if she made an attack on America and the office of the presidency (mind you, these were the same people who lied with impunity about President Clinton). Maines was denounced as “anti-American” and “pro-Saddam” without a shred of evidence for these conclusions. Ruddy and Newsmax created a Deck of Weasels playing card deck that included Maines and others pictured with Saddam hats superimposed on their heads. The American right was whipped up into a frenzy and Maines received numerous death threats from right-wing rabble.
Maines gave her opinion of George W. Bush. It was a reasonable, especially if we compare it to criticisms of Bill Clinton made by the usual suspects: Coulter, Limbaugh, Ailes, Ruddy, Farah, and Horowitz. For this, she was demonized by these same people who thought nothing of engaging in a wholesale smear campaign against the Clintons. Savage made some idiotic comments and got his just desserts.
Today as I listened to new radio show by Joseph Farah, nutburger conspiracy theorist and Scaife Monkeyboy (click here and here), I experienced satori due to contradiction overload. Farah’s guest was Ann Coulter and they discussed how Joe McCarthy was unfairly maligned. Farah asked Coulter if there was anyone presently who is being as unfairly treated as Tail-gunner Joe. Coulter’s answer: Ken Starr. I got through to the call line and even though the screener didn’t let me past to question Coulter, I was able to communicate to him that the show was tripping me out.
Andrew Sullivan took some well-deserved shots at Coulter. Here’s where Sullivan got it wrong. 1) Michael Moore is not a Coulter of the left; sure, Moore has gotten things wrong, but his errors and rhetoric are not one tenth as poisonous as Coulter’s; 2) the American media is not, as Sullivan claims, “biased to the left.” 3) Sullivan argues: “American politics has been badly damaged by the scruple-free tactics of those like Michael Moore and Ann Coulter.” Everything Moore says or writes is scrutinized and criticized by the right. Coulter, Limbaugh, Ailes, Farah, Scaife, and Ruddy have been able to get away with murder because people like Sullivan were largely quiet in the 1990’s. In fact, when David Brock came clean about the heavily financed dirty tricks operation he was involved in, Sullivan tried to smear him as a liar. Go figure.
Now all of this about respect. And we’re always told Muslims feel humiliated—that’s why they slaughter Americans. It really is stunning how the people with the least self-respect are those most obsessed with others paying it to them. What I find is that a little soap and indoor plumbing goes a long way for your sense of self-respect. I would recommend it over flying planes into buildings.
Good read The new August Playboy is must reading for people who want to be in the know. James Peterson has an eye-opening column on Clear Channel and how its lame and homogenous groupthink mentality represents the bottom of the barrel of corporate radio. Peterson also takes CC to task for being in the pocket of Bush and the kook right. How True. A media channel is supposed to encourage discussion. Clear Channel, on the other hand, takes on the tactics of the hard right: it wants to discuss ideas—but only the right's ideas. They don’t want to win debates; they want to silence the opposing side.
That issue of Playboy also almost compelled me to go out tonight. I don’t feel like going out tonight; last night’s T3 bash partied me out (scroll down to yesterday’s post). Tonight is the premiere for Legally Blonde 2; I’m not going—it isn’t my kind of film. I almost changed my mind when I turned to the DVD review section and it had a topless picture of Reese Witherspoon. Sweet.
Must Read Article I apologize for not having read Treason yet. One of the reasons that I wasn't motivated was that I assumed (wrongly) that Coulter learned her lesson regarding at least not outright lying and that Crown Books had employed a factchecker or two for the book. I was wrong. Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity has a devastating review of the book. Apparently, Coulter came up with a false quote of former President Clinton; I noticed this quote when I browsed the book. According to Coulter, Clinton said, "They have good reason to hate us ... after all, we sent the Crusaders to try and conquer them." I copied the quote and checked the internet and found nothing. Nyhan checked Nexis and Google and found nothing. Coulter didn't footnote the quote. Did Clinton say it? If he did, what words did Coulter remove with her use of the ellipsis? This is relevant because she spent a paragraph denouncing the supposed idiocy of this statement. Nevertheless, Nyhan wrote a great article; read it.