Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Horse. Shit.

Today, someone tried to explain why this constant Reagan coverage was justified. Here's my response:

No, it is not justified. Nothing *new* has happened. Reagan is still dead. What is the point of the News doing 24/7 coffin-cam shit when important things are going on in the world? The networks are not doing their jobs spending all of their time on it.

Would you like to know what happened today that you probably won't see on the major news networks?

Last year, lawyers argued on behalf of the Bush administration, that Bush had the right to torture alleged terrorists and that he is above the law in a time of danger (something that rolls back hundreds of years of post-Magna Carta law). We only found out about this because someone in the administration leaked the memo. There are parts of the memo that suggest that certain acts that the Supreme Court has defined as torture are not really torture and that they can be exercised. This raises mountains of new questions regarding the official policy and knowledge of both the Bush administration and the Pentagon (er... the Ronald Reagan Defense Center ) regarding the travesty that was the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

So Congress asked Ashcroft for access to the memos. Know what he did? He flat out refused to turn them over. Did he claim that executive privelege or Congressional statute prevented him from turning them over? Did he cite any legal justification for why he wouldn't do it? No, he flat out admitted that he wouldn't do it merely because he didn't want to. This resulted in an exhasperated Congress that began to threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Check out some of what was said on the floor:

KENNEDY: Just, General, has the president authorized you to invoke the executive privilege today on these documents?

ASHCROFT: I am not going to reveal discussions, whether I've had them or not had them, with the president. He asked me to deal with him as a matter of confidence.

I have not invoked executive privilege today. I have explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

KENNEDY: Well, what are you invoking?

ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. You got to have a reason not to answer our questions, as you know from you sitting up here. There may be a rationale for executive privilege that misses the point, but, you know, you have to have a reason. You are not allowed, under our Constitution, not to answer our questions, and that ain't constitutional.

But that's a different question. I don't want to get off on it, because I have to talk about other things. But you all better come up with a good rationale, because otherwise it's contempt of Congress.

------------------

DURBIN: I respect that.

But under which standard are you denying this committee the memos, either executive privilege or a specific statutory authority created by Congress exempting your constitutional responsibility to disclose? Under which are you refusing to disclose these memos?

ASHCROFT: I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential and that the responsibility to do that is a function of the executive branch and a necessity that is protected by the doctrine of the separation of powers in the Constitution.

And for that reason -- and that is the reason for which I have not delivered to the Congress or the members of the Senate these memos, any memos.

DURBIN: Sir, Attorney General, with all due respect, your personal belief is not a law, and you are not citing a law and you are not claiming executive privilege. And, frankly, that is what contempt of Congress is all about.

You have to give us a specific legal authority which gives you the right to say no or the president has to claim privilege. And you've done neither.

I think this committee has a responsibility to move forward on this.

HATCH: Are these memos classified?

Is this a sidebar conference on something the attorney general has so authoritatively stated his position on?

ASHCROFT: I'll tell you: This is me getting advice which will remain confidential.

HATCH: Well, I know. But the attorney general has been speaking about these memos so authoritatively that you ought to be able to at least say whether they are classified or not.

ASHCROFT: I have answered your questions. The committee has not made a decision to ask for these memos.

DURBIN: No, but the chairman asked you a specific question. Are there memos classified?

ASHCROFT: Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes.

ASHCROFT: I don't know. I don't...

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect, that is a complete evasion. What you have done is refuse to cite a statutory basis for disclosing these memos, refused to claim executive privilege, and now suggest that some parts of these may be classified.

----------

LEAHY: I would assume that you would carry out your responsibilities; you swore a solemn oath to do so. But does your answer mean that there has or has not been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants?

ASHCROFT: The president of the United States has not ordered any activity which would contradict the laws enacted by this Congress or previous Congresses...

LEAHY: Not quite my...

ASHCROFT: ... or the Constitution of the United States...

LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, that was not my question.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHCROFT: ... or any of the treaties.

LEAHY: That was not my question.

Has there been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants, yes or no?

ASHCROFT: I'm not in a position to answer that question.

LEAHY: Does that mean because you don't know or you don't want to answer? I don't understand.

ASHCROFT: The answer to that question is yes.

LEAHY: You don't know whether he's issued such an order?

ASHCROFT: For me to comment on what I advise the president...

LEAHY: I'm not asking...

ASHCROFT: ... what the president's activity is is inappropriate if -- I will just say this: that he has made no order that would require or direct the violation of any law of the United States enacted by the Congress, or any treaty to which the United States is a party as ratified by the Congress, or the Constitution of the United States.

LEAHY: Well, it doesn't answer my question. But I think my time is up. We'll come back later.


Pretty newsworthy, right? Nope. Instead of learning about the gathering threat to the Separation of Powers that form the basis of the United States, we got "RONALD REAGAN IZ DED AND HE RULEZ AM I RITE?" 24 hours a day. It's like there's a firefight going on outside your house and you're inside watching "Who's Line is It Anyway?"

And you know what's sad? The administration will probably get away with this horseshit because 90% of America will have no idea that it ever happened. They'll just keep sucking down the soma of "BREAKING NEWS: How Reagan saved the west from Communist totalitarianism" and re-elect the whole nightmare of an administration to a second goddamn term.

That's a travesty. I feel bad for his loved ones, but when it comes to news, fuck him. We all know that he's dead and could probably benefit much more from coverage of shit that's actually important than the utterly repulsive circle-jerking that's passing for journalism on all of the major networks right now.

edit: If you didn't catch it tonight, you should try to watch tonight's Daily Show, with Jon Stewart, when it airs later tonight or tomorrow afternoon. It catches some of the better parts of the testimony and Jon's comments are perfect. I'll pull up a link if I find it available.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Newsflash: Reagan Still Dead!

Hey guys, guess what.

Have I got the scoop for you.

You'll never believe it.

As of Tuesday morning, RONALD REAGAN IS STILL DEAD!!!

Yeah, you heard it here first. Don't count on the lieberal media to tell you this kind of stuff, but unlike his hero, J.H.C. (discovered at the exact moment he decided to become a politician), Ronnie has failed to rise from the dead.

As such, I think it's imperative that the TV news continue to focus on his not being alive for close to hour-to-hour coverage. You never know when something important could come of it.

So yesterday, some friend of mine made the laughable suggestion that this Reagan coverage was occurring in place of more important stories. I scoffed at his assertion that our media outlets are anything but prestigious networks of hard journalism.

To disprove his argument, I did a quick look through some news sites.

Apparently, last year, a group of administration lawyers made the argument that the president has the legal right to order interrogators to conduct torture or other criminal acts against terrorist suspects. Well that's clearly not a real news story. Who on earth would question the idea of giving the executive of the United States the authority to electrocute the genitals of people alleged to have committed terrorist acts? Innocent until proven guilty? Modern human rights norms? What a bunch of leftist myths.

I looked further and found this story, detailing a car bombing in northern Iraq that killed 12 or more people, including an American GI, and wounded 50 others. Now this clearly doesn't qualify as real news. Everyone knows that the violence in Iraq is overplayed and isn't anywhere close to being a real or reccurent problem. Such coverage would only further undermine the war effort and mislead us from the rosy reality that is life in modern Iraq post-US occupation.

It looks like Marc Anthony won't say one way or the other whether he's married J. Lopez or not. Okay, I'll admit that this is an important story.

There's a G8 summit going down that could implicate US relations with a variety of nations, economic growth, the world fight against HIV-AIDS, world hunger, peacekeeping, energy policy, and nuclear proliferation. But anyone who worries about this is probably paranoid. I'm sure we'll be well represented and that the president will report back to us any information that we really need to know.

There's a situation flaring up between Israel and Hizbollah again. But whatever. We should just nuke the whole middle east, rite?

Oh yeah, and there's also this tiny little Security Council draft resolution concerning the hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi governing council on... June 30. But that is a long time away and I'm sure that they all have a well-thought out plan for how that's all going to happen and realistic time tables for all of the stages of that process, much like they had those things for the process of the invasion and redevelopment that we've seen so much of over the past year and a half.

So I guess my friend was wrong. Nothing else of importance is happening in the world.

Reagan is still dead and that's the most important thing for the news networks to be talking about now.

He was our greatest president after all and if, for some reason, he came back to life, that'd be pretty important, now wouldn't it?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Partisan Pseudo-Media and the Soros Smear Campaign.

This is really, really sick.

But it's a pretty good opportunity to see the Rove attack machine in full gear.

Many of you may have heard of George Soros. He's a wealthy philanthropist who is best known for heading up the Open Society Institute, that's been responsible for promoting education, human rights, social, economic, and legal reform, public health, media access, etc. around the world. A lot of people in the world can point to a few things that they've done to make this a better place, but I'll bet that very few have accomplished a fraction of the things that Mr. Soros has done. Here's a short list of some of OSI's initiatives.

But there's just one problem.

In addition to doing all of the above things, Mr. Soros is also a contributor to THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!!! Oh noes!

Soros has a lot of money and a lot of clout, so it's kind of understandable that there would be subsequent attacks and propaganda focused against him, in typical Rove fashion ala the infamous New Hampshire insinuation of McCain having an illegitimate black child and more recent political hits on Joe Wilson and his family and Richard Clarke. That kind of power probably inspires a lot of political anxiety and, through some stroke of coincidence, like everyone else who has posed a threat to Bush's electoral campaigns, one would expect that he would probably become the target of a really ugly smear campaign, filled with mountains of ridiculous misinformation. Now, I can't say for certain who would be behind such a push, but past experience gives me a pretty good idea*

But frankly, I'm kind of amazed by the job they're doing with Soros. Watching some conservative media outlets, one gets the impression of a very concerted effort to taint the guy's image. We're not talking about a few off-handed remarks... we're talking about a focused effort... the whole echo machine roaring at full blast after this one guy.

O'Reilly (the alleged independent who has spent lengthly amounts of time attacking Soros on his television and radio shows, including a puffball interview with the editor of the less than reputable source of pseudo-news, newsmax.com, but has denied even a moment of air time to a Soros supporter), Hannity, Limbaugh, the RNC, et al are in full effect.

For a brief rundown, you should visit mediamatters.org.

But as I said, this is really sick. The energy being spent by media charlatans who have dedicated their careers to misleading, faux journalism to discredit someone, whose life's work they could never hope to mirror, is just insane.

I guess I'm at a loss for why people can look at stuff like this and continue to believe that O'Reilly and company represent legitimate media. It doesn't even feel like they're making an attempt to cover up what they're doing. It's so arrogantly obvious, that I'm shocked that anyone would defend this attack machine anymore. This isn't about partisan mud-slinging. There are idiots and geniuses, people with and without integrity on all ends of the political spectrum. I just can't see how a respectable conservative individual could stand having their ideology represented by this kind of dishonest horseshit.

On a lighter note, I think the absurd moment of the week can be summed up in this quote from O'Reilly to Mr. Poe of newsmax.com: "If Soros is what you say he is, and I have no reason to doubt it."

Did you hear that? He just said that he had no reason to doubt the claims made by the editor of a newspaper that has spear-headed such ridiculous content as:

Jerry Falwell's article, detailing the coming oppression and persecution of Christians, in America of all places, where a non-Christian can't even get elected to the presidency, in the name of an agenda of "tolerance" and homosexual rights (his scare quotes, not mine)

An article alleging that Kerry opposed the Vietnam war because he was collaborating with the ol Communists

And this utterly ridiculous article that alleges that Kerry flipped off a heckler at the Vietnam memorial that A. Describes an event that managed to not be noticed by any other network with cameras at the event, B. Fails to identify the source of the information, and C. Was probably taken from the lone word of the person who was allegedly flipped off, Ted Sampley, who has a disturbing history of claiming that McCain was a Manchurian Candidate who was brainwashed by the KGB while a POW to infiltrate America, lying to families of MIAs by saying that their loved ones had been chopped to pieces before they were safely recovered, spending time in jail for assaulting a McCain staffer, receiving a restraining order from Sen. McCain, questionable business practices, and an attempt to fund the vigilante bombing of a building in Laos, in a crude attempt to destroy the Laotian government.

Yeah... that's the news source that O'Reilly has "no reason...to doubt." Way to go there, Mr. Fair and Impartial.

*