Monday, May 09, 2005

Democracy Now: Discussions on Luis Posada Carriles; Bob Somerby on Michael Kinsley

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching"):

Headlines for May 9, 2005
- U.S. Death Toll In Iraq Tops 1600
- Over 300 Iraqis Killed Over Past 10 Days
- Leaked Memo: U.S. "Fixed Facts" To Justify Iraq War
- Three Afghan Women Brutally Killed
- Appeals Court Throws Out FBI Whistleblower Suit
- Vatican Forces Out Liberal Magazine Editor
- California Labor Organizer Miguel Contreras, 52, Dies
- Anti-Nuclear Peace Activist Elmer Maas, 70, Dies

Terrorist Cuban Exile Luis Posada Carriles Seeking Political Asylum in U.S.
A chief terrorist with long ties to US intelligence agencies is seeking asylum in the United States. The FBI has evidence linking him to an airline bombing that killed 73 people. We're talking about the notorious militant Cuban exile: Luis Posada Carriles. Today we speak with one of the few American reporters who has interviewed him and the president of the national assembly of Cuba, which is calling for his extradition to Venezuela.

EXCLUSIVE: Top Cuban Official Ricardo Alarcon Demands U.S. Hand Over Terrorist Posada
In an exclusive interview, the president of the Cuban National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon gives his most extended remarks to date on the case of the notorious Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles. Alarcon says, "Now the Bush doctrine - those who harbor a terrorist are as guilty as the terrorist himself - should be proven. The proof is in the pudding."

From Headlines, we'll note this:

Anti-Nuclear Peace Activist Elmer Maas, 70, Dies
And longtime peace activist Elmer Maas has died. He was a lifelong anti-nuclear activist and a founder of the Plowshares movement. In 1980, along with Phil and Dan Berrigan and five others, he hammered on nuclear warheads at the General Electric plant in King of Prussia Pennsylvania. The action became known as the Plowshares Eight. He would have turned 70 in August.

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's plate is full and I'm tempted to swipe from the comments on NYT David Brooks but I'll excert instead from commentary on Michael Kinsley. From today's Daily Howler:

But none of that mattered when Michael Kinsley sat down to type on SS. Amazingly, Kinsley praised Bush for the honesty he displayed in his recent TV press conference--and he said that Bush was especially honest when he discussed SS! "There was a remarkable amount of honesty and near-honesty" in the conference, the scribe weirdly said. "Above all, Bush was honest and even courageous about Social Security." But good grief! Kinsley's column appeared two days after Bush lied to those five young workers, and two days before he lied to the mothers. Yes, we've really defined dishonesty down when a conservative president gets praised by a liberal in the midst of a grisly performance like that. When such praise comes from a famous "liberal spokesmen," we’ve reached the day when this gentleman's burn-out must be described as it is.
[. . .]
Yes, that was The Meathead Proposition: Bush uses rosy projections when he estimates stock returns, but he uses contradictory gloomy projections when he says that the trust fund will expire by the year 2041. Many of you are familiar with this argument, for good reason; as Drum noted, it had already been "batted around a fair amount" by February 1, twelve days before Kinsley's column appeared--the column which attributed the idea to Meathead. Indeed, the idea had been widely discussed, all across the liberal web. But, as usual, Kinsley was clueless. He seemed to think his idea was new; indeed, he assured us that the idea wasn't his. He had heard it at a Hollywood party, he seemed to say as he laid out the notion.
No, this isn't a hanging offense, although it seemed to suggest that Kinsley was clueless--that he didn't know the shape of the discourse occurring all over the liberal world. Indeed, our analysts rolled their eyes at this column only because they had seen this gentleman's consummate cluelessness before. How out-of-touch is Michael Kinsley? In October 2004, he did a segment on Washington Journal, a segment where his utter cluelessness rang out loud and clear. An e-mailer asked him what he thought about a widely discussed Washington think tank. Our analysts (and several of our readers) were startled by Kinsley's odd reply. He spoke with C-SPAN’s Steven Scully, who presented the e-mailer’s query:
SCULLY (10/24/04): An e-mail from J. Steele: "Mr. Kinsley, how much influence do you believe the Project for the New American Century has had on President Bush?"

The e-mailer asked an obvious question. But as usual, Kinsley was utterly clueless. Here was the full discussion. And yes, this exchange should amaze:
SCULLY (10/24/04): An e-mail from J. Steele: "Mr. Kinsley, how much influence do you believe the Project for the New American Century has had on President Bush?"
KINSLEY: Now, someone will have to remind me what that is.
SCULLY: That was the, the letter--wasn't that the letter that came out in 1997, co-written by Donald Rumsfeld and others?
KINSLEY: I gotta confess, I don't know.
KINSLEY: I, so I, so obviously--it may be influencing President Bush but it isn't influencing me much. And I apologize.

Readers can watch this remarkable exchange on the tape of the C-SPAN program. Just click here; the exchange begins about 16:45 into the session.
Many readers will understand what made this exchange so remarkable. As Scully seemed to know (but Kinsley clearly didn't), The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is
an important Washington think tank--a think tank whose highly influential members began arguing for military intervention in Iraq during Bill Clinton's second term. Indeed, here's the PNAC letter to which Scully referred (it was actually written in January 1998); in it, PNAC's members urged President Clinton "to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power."
"This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts," the letter continued. "Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater."
As many of our readers will know, this letter created a great deal of discussion in the run-up to the war in Iraq. It created discussion because of its authors; the letter had been written by a string of big players in the current Bush Administration. Its authors did included Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, and several other big players in the Admin which eventually went to war in Iraq (among them: John Bolton, Richard Armitage, Robert Zoellick, Richard Perle). To state the obvious, there was no reason why these people shouldn't have lobbied Clinton this way; they argued openly for their policy views, which is every citizen's perfect right. But the letter, written in early 1998, showed that major players in the Bush Admin had wanted to go to war with Iraq long before the events of September 11, 2001.

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