Sunday, July 31, 2005

BuzzFlash interviews Harry Reid and Bob Somerby's Daily Howler

Two things. First BuzzFlash's latest BuzzFlash Interview is with Harry Reid.

BuzzFlash: Why does the Bush Administration have such difficulty in leveling with the American people?
Senator Harry Reid: Arrogance, abuse of power. This Administration is drunk with power. They control the House and Senate and seven of nine members of the Supreme Court, and therefore, they feel they need not compromise. They need not communicate with the minority.
[. . .]
BuzzFlash: What's the role of the President of the United States in holding such treachery accountable, whatever the legal outcome might be?
Reid: What it shows me is that the President is not a person of his word. He said almost two years ago that if anyone in his Administration was caught being involved in this, they would be fired. There is no question Karl Rove is involved in it. Evidence is heavy. The President, after finding that Rove's involved, changes his standard from "being involved" in it to having committed a crime. Well, crimes are hard to prove, and then you go through the appellate process. What does this mean? It means the President is not a credible person.

Click here to read more.

Second thing, there was a Saturday Howler. Here's an excerpt from Bob Somerby's latest:

Good grief! While everyone else pretends to wring hands about the use of single anonymous sources, we now thrill when such lone sources make judgments on matters as absurdly subjective as whether Miller’s mouth "twisted in hatred" when she spoke about Joe Wilson one day! But then, we remember the day (in November 1999) when Arianna was overdoing in the other direction, trashing Candidate Gore on TV for his (non-existent) four-button suits, which he was allegedly wearing "with all four buttons buttoned" (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/12/00). "Frankly, what is fascinating is the way he's now dressing makes a lot of people feel disconnected from him," Arianna revealed. "It's just not the way Americans dress." We like Arianna more than you do, but that was utterly silly then--and the quote about Miller is silly now. We don’t think it's good for liberals--or for the country in general--when that kind of phantasmagoric, "four-button" thinking takes over the liberal web.
So yes--we'd be surprised if the Plame story is as simple as it's being played on the web. And no, we don't think that it's a good thing when liberals turn real life into fairy tales. None of this affects the basic questions involved here: Was Plame still connected to security assets? Were those American interests damaged when she was outed? Did White House officials behave inappropriately--even criminally--when they passed this information around? Those are the basic questions involved in this case--and these questions don't turn on the matter of how strongly Harlow may have warned Novak. Beyond that, real life isn't a fairy tale, and the facts don't typically all go one way. It may be that Rove behaved in bad faith--and that Harlow gave a weak warning to Novak. People surrender their rational judgment when they start to think the facts all go one way.
David Corn, a superlative writer and a superlative guy, asked if he was making certain judgments "because of [his] bias." Because we all bring biases and preconceptions into our judgments, we'll try to ID our own bias here. Here goes: We don't like GroupThink, mob rule, lynch mobs or hoohah, and we think we've seen these impulses--the building blocks of propaganda--spreading around the liberal web this past month. At times of high partisan feeling, even the smartest folks of all can read "confusion" and turn it to "lie." At present, we think many liberals are wishing too hard--and we think it's a dangerous impulse.

In addition, there is a Sunday Daily Howler. (A Saturday and a Sunday one is a rare thing. There will be no Monday Howler.) From Bob Somerby's Sunday Howler:

In short, I didn't complain about Novak's "blatant dishonesty" or "false smears" because I'm unaware of any. As a factual matter, his claims still seem basically accurate. This leaves a different question: Should he have published this information at all? On that, I don't feel equipped to judge, for a variety of reasons. First, I don't know enough about what he was told; hopefully, this will become more clear in the future. (Yes, this includes the question of how strongly Harlow waved Novak away, a matter which still seems unclear. Armando isn't intrigued by that fact, but I am. This too may become more clear.) Second, I have no background in judgments like this; I really don't know what the typical journalist would have done in a situation like this. And finally, I still don't know if the outing of Plame led to serious consequences for U.S. intelligence. As I have frequently said, I get the impression that Patrick Fitzgerald may have reached the judgment that it did. That, of course, would still beg the question of what Novak was actually told.
I understand that many liberals have had a good time battering Novak. I think the matter is less clear, and Armando's reflexive exaggeration of the facts helps make that basic point for me. No, Novak didn't suggest that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip, although Armando scolded me for not saying he did. No, Novak didn't publish "false smears;" the info he published was basically accurate. And no, it doesn't make a lick of sense to say that, in matters involving the CIA, the CIA automatically gives "the best evidence." The sheer absurdity of that last claim helps point to the problem I've been discussing. We're all inclined to dump facts and logic when we're gripped by a partisan incident. I don't think that's a productive way for important liberals to proceed.
For the past seven years, I've written, every day, to absolutely no effect, about bogus facts and faulty logic. During that time, bogus facts and faulty logic have routinely been use as effective tools against Dems. In my view, progressive interests are served, in the long run, by higher standards of clarity and accuracy. Yes, it's much more fun to make like Rush, and I think many liberals now seem to be going there; in the past few monthgs, we seem to be engaging in silly, tribalist cant of the type Rush churns out every day. But inevitably, power is served by intellectual chaos, and if liberals decide to spin facts and logic as Rush and Sean have done for twenty years, I suspect we'll see in the end that this was an unwise decision.

Excerpts were selected by Wally and Brenda.

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