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September 29, 2006

Round Up for the Week of September 24-October 1.

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Not being able to blog except (if I'm lucky) on the weekends means I have a lot of catching up to do to produce a record of the political events (some quite minor) that tend to snag my attention.  So I'm going to do it in one fell swoop this week.  Thanks to The Huffington Post, it's easier than it would otherwise be. 

O'REILLIAN TACTICS.  Not that this would surprise anyone who gives half an ear to what the perpetually riled O'Reilly has to rant, but it's a nice of illustration of how neocon pundits work----i.e., they'll say anything at all, even things they don't believe, to score a point.

The quote below---and you can hear the audio clip at the link if you're interested---is from the September 25 broadcast of his radio show. 

[quote begins from MediaMatters.com, O'Reilly on Iraq:  I "[c]ouldn't care less about the country."]

O'REILLY: I don't care what Iraq was, I don't care what it will be. I just don't want them killing anybody or helping Al Qaeda. OK? Couldn't care less about the country. That is the no-spin honesty that you all come to expect from me.

[quote ends]

What actually interested me most about the audio clip of this statement was the unnatural emphasis on the word "honesty" (HONESTY).

The nice illustration of what some would call "hypocrisy" but which I call "the Right's totally typical elevation of expediency over strict attention to facts" simply requires you to compare that statement---which I'm so sure is completely truthful----to this, also cited in the same publication 

[quote begins from MediaMatters.com, O'Reilly on Iraq:  I "[c]ouldn't care less about the country."]

From the January 24, 2005, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Now, you would think everyone in the world who values freedom would be rooting for the Iraqis to have them, but they are not. Here in the USA, some of the anti-Bush crowd would rather have chaos in Iraq than a victory for the president.

[quote ends]

Right-wingers have a tendency to incorporate into arguments in support of untenable positions (the untenable position here being that everyone who values freedom must support the war) self-serving generalizations about the moral position of those who disagree with them. 

To a moderate like me, the above statement is obviously a rhetorical ploy intended to give his personal opinion some sort of superior moral standing in the perhaps not terribly analytical minds of the people who compose his audience.  To me, the concern he expressed for the people of Iraq seems so transparent, so fatuous, and has such a false note in light of other things he is known to have said, that I would instantly dismiss it.  But it gives people who agree with him a way of convincing themselves that supporting the war places them on the moral high ground.

It's such a transparent ploy that you'd think it couldn't fool a child of five and perhaps it couldn't.  In the culture of the Right, it's less important to be on the moral high ground than it is to seem to be.

So it makes perfect sense for a right-wing pundit to assert that opposition to the war = indifference to the Iraqi people and to imply that this is a bad thing, another reflection on the moral character of those who oppose his views, and then to say on a subsequent occasion that he is indifferent to Iraq (and by implication its people).  I'm sure that statement is true.  It's congruent with his other known views.   It rings true, whereas his mouthing about how opponents of the war don't care about freedom or the future of Iraq strikes a false note.

The other was just rhetoric being used to score piety points in order to sell their views to gullible people.  It's how they've managed to draw in the so-called "Christian right." 

Instead of calling him a liar, Democrats and progressives need to start commenting on the tactic---preferably with amused indulgence.  Once people realize how they're being played, it's much more difficult to play them. 

"WHITE SUPREMACIST RACIST."  Because I'm like that, the first thing I thought when I saw this blog by George Archibald was:  "Isn't "white supremacist racist" a redundant phrase"?

It's an interesting blog on an interesting topic:  the source of The Washington Times's neoconservatism.  As Archibald points out, The Washington Times---founded, incidentally, which I (being from the backwoods) did not know, by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon----has been a staunch ally of the Bush administration. 

[quote begins from The Nation article, Hell of a Times, by Max Blumenthal]

Since its founding in 1982 by eccentric cult leader and self-proclaimed Messiah Sun Myung Moon, the Times has been a favorite outlet for the right. President Ronald Reagan granted Times reporters special access to the White House, and he publicly called it his favorite paper--pointedly not the Washington Post. During the Clinton era, the Times helped push media coverage of Ken Starr's ultimately fruitless Whitewater land-deal investigation. It has long served as a nest for fledgling conservative talent like its former editorial page editor Tony Snow, now White House press secretary and a key link between the paper and the Bush Administration. National Review's O'Sullivan told The Nation, "The Times is an extremely important paper for conservatives because it's in Washington and it has great influence with the Administration."

In January 2005 Bush hosted Coombs, Pruden and a handful of Times principals for an exclusive interview and tour of the Oval Office....

[quote ends]

But now, according to this article, there appears to be a nasty imbroglio going on.  The article in The Nation surprised even me---and I am from the South and know all there is to know about apologists for the Confederacy---because I'd have thought it wouldn't be possible for someone who expresses the views attributed to The Washington Times editors to rise to the top of a major newspaper, even in today's political climate and even though I'm familiar with the typical tone and tenor of the articles published in The Times.

[quote begins from The Nation article, Hell of a Times, by Max Blumenthal]

When asked if he has ever used racial slurs, Coombs exploded: "Are you going to accuse me of being the twentieth Al Qaeda hijacker next? I mean, please. I find those terms to be beneath contempt. Do you truly believe that in a modern American newsroom a person could use phrases like that? That is beyond preposterous. That is just unbelievable. Anyone who says that is a complete liar."

But why were so many of his former and current colleagues leveling these allegations about him? Coombs could only speculate. "Maybe there's a chorus there," he said.

[quote ends]

But I'm not sure that's really the problem.  If you read the article, it specifically describes Coombs' involvement with white supremacist organizations and provides names and dates. Interesting.  As I said and as Coombs himself argues, I wouldn't have thought it possible.   

Pulitzer-prize winning George Archibald points out in his blog at The Huffington Post that these attitudes are not shared by the majority of The Washington Times staff.  He quotes from a letter posted at The Nation by Amanda Kolson Hurley, former assistant book editor for the paper. 

[quote begins from The Huffington Post, The Blog: Top Washington Times editor's wife confirms racial allegations by George Archibald]

"As a former (albeit short-lived) staffer at the Washington Times, I was eager to read Max Blumenthal's expose," Hurley wrote. "What I found was largely a rehash of revelations about Fran Coombs' hateful, but well-known, views on race, along with a fair summary of the struggle for the Times' soul. What's missing is a larger indictment of a newsroom culture that quashes real journalistic talent for the sake of an extremist ideology."

Hurley added: "Readers may get the impression that editors like Coombs and Stacy McCain have handpicked a staff of right-wing crazies to support their agenda -- but that's simply not the case. Coombs and especially McCain [national assistant editor before, according to The Nation, being placed on administrative probation], a virulent misogynist, are reviled by most Times staffers, who would like nothing more than to turn the crass propaganda sheet into a respectable newspaper."

[quote ends (link added by me)]

Archibald says in his blog, "I was surprised to find out how many Times staffers were willing to talk to Blumenthal about the rampant racism and abusive management of Pruden and Coombs, the paper's top two editors, who are legendary for their spiteful vindictiveness and ruthlessness. It took a lot of courage for Times people to speak out."  He also discusses based on personal knowledge the opinions and activities of Coombs and his wife.

Looks as if The Times (in its current incarnation) is due for a big fall, just when all the king's horses and all the king's men are busy trying to put their own credibility together again.  Oops.

barberpole1  GEORGE SOROS ON FALSE METAPHORS AT "THE HUFFINGTON POST."

Yes, the notion of the "war on terrorism" is a false metaphor, and not a real war, but is there anyone in America who hasn't heard this argument? 

But if you've been living under a rock, this is a pretty good blog.  Here's my favorite bit:

[quote begins from The Huffington Post, The Blog, A Self-Defeating War by George Soros]

If we persevere on the wrong course, the situation will continue to deteriorate. It is not our will that is being tested, but our understanding of reality. It is painful to admit that our current predicaments are brought about by our own misconceptions. However, not admitting it is bound to prove even more painful in the long run. The strength of an open society lies in its ability to recognize and correct its mistakes. That is the test that confronts us.

[quote ends]

I like that; it sums up the situation very nicely.  As noted earlier, a favorite tactic of the Right is to reframe every situation they support, and even every opinion they hold, as something other than what it is.  They know that's what they're doing and we know that's what they're doing; but evidently there are a number of credulous Republicans who get their views prefabricated from their favorite authority figures who don't know that.  (Or at least I hope that's what's happened; I'd hate to think that they're as cynical in Topeka, Terre Haute, and Dubuqe as they'd have to be if they didn't believe what they're being told and carried on being guided by it anyway).

To be progressive or even a moderate with liberal leanings is to be always repeat yourself, because what else can you do? It's hard to make yourself heard over the banging of drums ("DOOM! DOOM!") and crushing of cymbals ("BE AFRAID!  BE AFRAID!"_) from the other side.  You just have to keep chipping away at the premises on which their platform rests till it collapses.

barberpole12

"RUMSFELD'S IRAQI WAR PLAN WENT BEAUTIFULLY FOR THREE WEEKS."  This is a direct quote of the first line in this CNN.com article: "Rumsfeld:  No One Anticipated Insurgency's Strength," which was linked through The Huffington Post.

Does he really think that?  If so, he really ought to have talked to some of the people I know, who anticipated it just based on news reports and website commentaries and other such sources.  I mean, none of them had access to the CIA or other intelligence sources.  And yet they anticipated the insurgency's strength.  So someone clearly had a notion that the war might take more than three weeks.

[quote begins from CNN.com article, "Rumsfeld:  No One Anticipated Insurgency's Strength"]

"Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is," Rumsfeld told CNN for the documentary, "CNN Presents Rumsfeld -- Man of War," which debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. ET....

Rumsfeld's style and policies have rankled many, and several former top military officers have called for him to resign. One of those is the man who led the 1st Infantry Division in northwest Iraq in 2004. Former U.S. Army Maj. Gen John Batiste said he asked for more troops and was turned down.

"We're in a real fix right now [in Iraq]," Batiste told CNN. "We're there because Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ignored sound military advice, dismissed it all, went with his plan and his plan alone."

Batiste argued that had he been given more troops the military could have secured Iraq's border with Iran and secured the country's oil facilities. (Watch Batiste describe how Rumsfeld ignored military's advice -- 5:50)

Rumsfeld's plan was to win the war with low troop levels and superior technology, let democracy take root and then have the Iraqis secure the country. That strategy appeared to be working in Afghanistan, where 1,000 troops had ousted the Taliban with the help of the indigenous Northern Alliance.

[quote ends (links in original)]

That's not exactly a "plan", is it?  More of an "aspiration" or "hope." 

Speaking on information got at third-hand, an article by William Hamilton at The Washington Post.com reports that Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, states that former chief of staff Andrew Card and Laura Bush tried to get Bush to get rid of Rumsfeld.  She felt "that Rumsfeld's overbearing manner was damaging to her husband."  When Bush refused for a second time, "Card left the administration last March, convinced that Iraq would be compared to Vietnam and that history would record that no senior administration officials had raised their voices in opposition to the conduct of the war."

Another time, perhaps he'll listen to his wife. 

I'm just bemused at the apparently very different tone of Woodward's latest from its predecessors.  I'm guessing that he doesn't want history to record that he himself was beguiled. 

balloontop62

C.C. GOLDWATER ON HOW GOLDWATER'S PARTY HAS CHANGED.

I remember a family friend sneering when my father shouted---more jovially than not---that Goldwater, for whom he and my mother voted, "was too damn liberal!"

I wonder what he'd think of W.  I know he thought that the Vietnam War was a mistake, though he still thought young men ought to be willing to be sent there to be killed; he abominated "draft dodgers," "marchers," and "long hairs."

Anyway, C.C. Goldwater has made a documentary which, according to her blog at The Huffington Post, she hopes will "make it clear that the Republican party has changed from what it was in my grandfather's day. 

She didn't bowl me over last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, but I liked her blog at The Huffington Post.

[quote begins from The Blog at The Huffington Post, Filming Mr. Conservative by C.C. Goldwater]

It's hard to speak for him, but I think he would be a little sick about the invasive government we have today.

Our government is in our lives, peeking into our purses, telling us what to do with our bodies, and just sticking its nose where it should not be. My grandfather was about the preservation of our own free liberties, and they are being threatened every day.

I hope the documentary makes it clear that the Republican Party has changed from what it used to be in my grandfather's day. Barry's opinion would be loud and earth shattering if he were alive today.

[quote ends]

Most of the Republicans I've known since childhood, including my mother, don't seem to notice a difference---or if they do, it doesn't trouble them.  So I do wonder what he---or my own father---would say. 

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