Saturday, December 17, 2005

Other Items

A senior scholar at the Cato Institute, the respected libertarian research organization, has resigned after revelations that he took payments from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for writing columns favorable to his clients.
The scholar, Doug Bandow, who wrote a column for the Copley News Service in addition to serving as a Cato fellow, acknowledged to executives at the organization that he had taken money from Mr. Abramoff after he was confronted about the payments by a reporter from BusinessWeek Online.
[. . .]
A second scholar, Peter Ferrara, of the Institute for Policy Innovation, acknowledged in the same BusinessWeek Online piece that he had also taken money from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for writing certain opinion articles. But Mr. Ferrara did not apologize for doing so. "I do that all the time," Mr. Ferrara was quoted as saying. He did not reply to an e-mail message seeking comment on Friday.

The above is from Anne E. Kornblut and Philip Shenon's "Columnist Resigns His Post, Admitting Lobbyist Paid Him" in this morning's New York Times. KeShawn e-mailed to note it and noted that Armstrong William has suffered very little fall out for his own "paid work in service of the Bully Boy."

Now what else is going up today? First, let's note that Seth posted Thursday on the nightmare of working retail during the holidays. Rebecca will be posting today and Cedric will as well. They both confirmed that and said to look for it. Kat will also be posting today. Tomorrow, there will be The Third Estate Sunday Review and Mike says that if he doesn't post today, he will post tomorrow.

Back to the Times. The Congress giveth (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eric Lichtblau's "Senators Thwart Bush Bid to Renew Law on Terrorism") and the Congress taketh (Eric Schmitt and Tim Golden's "Lawmakers Back Use of Evidence Coerced From Detainees"). On Schmitt and Golden's article, the paper wasn't interested in reporting on this until now. Michael Ratner and Amy Goodman addressed this two weeks ago on Democracy Now! but it wasn't news to the Times. This agreed provision appears in the McCain Ban on Torture that everyone seems so pleased as punch about.

So the position, if the bill's not further "revised" (gutted?) is now that torture is wrong. Except sometimes. That's not a ban. McCain will get all the usual praise and hoseannas but it's nonsense when the bill, as it stands now, currently contradicts itself so strikingly. If you're "banning torture," then you're banning it. "Banning" is not saying we're against it but we can use claims made while under torture as evidence.

From Golden and Schimtt's article:

The juxtaposition of the seemingly contradictory measures immediately led lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners to assert that Congressional Republicans were helping to preserve the utility of coercive interrogations that senior White House officials have argued are vital to the fight against war against terror.

That is exactly what it's doing. No Real Deal McCain once again comes up short but watch all the back patting that occurs on the Sunday chat & chews and watch the gas bags rush to prop up the image of McCain, one that should have been questioned long ago.

Both highlights from other outlets come from Zach. He's been very patient this week and for part of last as we've been stuck dealing with and focusing on a mess. As a result there have been very few evening posts here as I stuck to addressing members e-mails.

Zach is a big fan of Robert Parry's work and I'll note that barring any glitch in posting or any unforseen problem, we'll be discussing one of Parry's books in the book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review. But I appreciate Zach's patience as he's submitted several things for highlights and even been told, wrongly by me, that we'd catch one in a link-fest evening entry. That statement was made by me before the whole thing blew up again.

So let's note two of the things Zach wanted highlighted. (I e-mailed him to check that two were the two most important to him. He went with one and offered a new one so those are the two we're noting. And thank you to Zach and every other member for their patience.)

From Robert Parry's "Is Bush Leveling With America?" (Consortium News):

George W. Bush is winning praise from the major U.S. news media for finally leveling with the American people about the difficulties in Iraq. But Bush is still making many of the same false or fuzzy assertions that guided the United States through the first 1,000 days of war.
By refusing to correct or discard these fallacies in four recent speeches and in other comments on Iraq, Bush seems to be holding to an unrealistic course that will lead to an ever-lengthening list of dead American soldiers and Iraqis.
For instance, one of Bush’s favorite arguments continues to be that the U.S. invasion was justified by the goal of imposing democracy on Iraq because "democracies are peaceful countries" -- and, therefore, presumably an Iraq with democratic institutions should become peaceful.
The internal contradiction of this rationale -- from the leader of "the world’s preeminent democracy" which invaded Iraq in 2003 under false premises -- goes unnoticed by the U.S. press corps even though it watched the invasion unfold. In an Orwellian fashion, the news media accepts that Bush’s going to war was evidence of his peaceful intent.
Bush’s notion that democracies are intrinsically "peaceful" is also not supported by history. Democracies as diverse as the United States, France, Great Britain and India have fought wars against neighbors, in colonial possessions or in nations far away -- Vietnam, Mexico, Algeria, South Africa, the Philippines, Cuba and Kashmir, to name a few.
The United States and other powerful democracies also have supported proxy wars in even a longer list of countries. U.S. interventions of various types have touched nearly every country in Latin America and many of the islands of the Caribbean Sea.
War Hysteria
Democracies also have shown themselves to be no more immune from war fever than autocratic states, as was demonstrated by the war hysteria that swept the United States in late 2002 and early 2003.
As Bush’s supporters poured French wine into gutters and ran trucks over Dixie Chicks CDs, the U.S. political debate was drowned out by full-throated calls for invading Iraq. Skeptics were largely silenced, often excluded from the major media. Constitutional checks and balances did nothing to slow Bush’s rush to war.

The second highlight is from Robert Parry's "Spying & the Public's Right to Know" (Consortium News):

The New York Times has disclosed that George W. Bush secretly waived rules restricting electronic surveillance inside the United States, allowing spying on hundreds of Americans without a court warrant. But almost as stunning was the Times admission that it had held the story for a year.
Indeed, it appears the information about Bush's secret spy order was leaked before Election 2004, but was kept from the American people because the Bush administration warned Times executives that the story’s publication might endanger national security.
In finally publishing the story on Dec. 16, more than 13 months after President Bush won a second term, the Times gave few details about specifically why it withheld the story in 2004 and then decided to print it now.
The article stated that "the White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting."
In the final weeks before Election 2004, Bush administration officials might have been nervous, too, that the revelation that Bush had asserted broad presidential authority in overriding legal constraints on domestic spying could have played into the hands of Democrat John Kerry. But there is no indication that political concerns were raised with New York Times executives.
Still, there is an unwritten rule in elite U.S. journalism that sensitive stories should not be published in the days before an election so as not to skew the outcome. A countervailing view holds that newsworthy information should be reported to the American people whenever a story is ready, regardless of the political calendar.

I'll add that the administration could have come forward with this information before the Times did. As with Abu Ghraib, they were content to stay silent because embarrassment is apparantly not a component in the make up of a Bully Boy.

What else do we have today? Maria's still working on her contribution. If it's not up before The Laura Flanders Show begins, it will be up sometime after. Ruth's latest will be up this morning as well the entry on The Laura Flanders Show. And on The Laura Flanders Show, we'll note two guests: Mark Crispin Miller and Eleanor Clift.

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