Thursday, February 16, 2006

Other Items

Chain-Chain-Cheney, Cheney Fool.

So yesterday Cheney Fool sat down with Mother Confessor Brit Hume (well, Barbara Walters has semi-retired) for his tell all. Short on the tears but brava acting none the less. No musing over what sort of tree he would be (though possibly Hume could have asked, "If you were to picture yourself in prison, what type of sentence do you think you'd be serving?"), no tales of sexual abuse while a child, but drama none the less.

As Alessandra Stanley notes:

He chose a proactive defense, accepting blame for what he had done but arguing that there was nothing wrong with what he had not done. And that made for a layered performance.
[. . .]
Mr. Cheney was following the rules of television redemption in Washington: the appearance of candor trumps contrition.

As for the issue of the drinking, from David E. Sanger and Anne E. Kornblut's "Silence Broken as Cheney Points Only to Himself:"

Until Mr. Cheney acknowledged having had a beer at lunch, members of the hunting party had been adamant that no alcohol was involved. Katharine Armstrong, whose family owns the ranch, had said in interviews that Dr Pepper was served at lunch and that no one was drinking. In interviews with The Times and other papers, Ms. Armstrong heavily implied that no alcohol was served at all.
"No, zero, zippo, and I don't drink at all," she said in an interview published on Monday in The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the paper she initially called. "No one was drinking."

She was also vague on her lobbying re: Cheney. (Yesterday, on Democracy Now!, Robert Bryce noted that: "And Katharine Armstrong has every reason to try and protect Cheney, not Whittington. You know, and the other part that really sticks in my mind on this whole thing is, you know, that Katharine Armstrong is part of the Republican political aristocracy here in Texas. And NBC just reported last night that Katharine Armstrong has, in fact, lobbied the White House. She was paid $160,000 and was doing that legal -- that lobby work for Baker Botts.")

Ralph Blumenthal's "From Arrival to Errant Shot, a Timeline of Cheney's Hunting Accident" puts the time of the shooting (according to unnamed Secret Service agents) at 5:50. Cheney admits to drinking one beer (I'd say "now admits" but he could argue, since he let everyone else do the talking, that he'd never personally argued he hadn't drank) at lunch.

Blumenthal tells you that they broke for lunch at one. They resumed hunting at three (according to what Sanger and Kornblut report: "Hunting resume at 3 p.m. he said."; Cheney's far less exact statement was actually: "oh, sometime after 3:00 p.m." -- in the same interview he states that following the shooting he did cancel the Sunday hunt -- insert joke here).

Unless I'm remembering incorrectly (could be) alcohol can effect your peripheral vision. Add in the likelihood that he's on medications (remember his health condition) and who knows how the stated "one beer" impacted him? Is he on meds? Do they allow alcohol to be ingested?

Peripheral vision? From Sanger and Kornblut's article:

A bird was flushed out of the brush, Mr. Cheney said, and he recalled swinging to his right to follow it.
"I turned and shot at the bird and at that second saw Harry standing there," Mr. Cheney said. "I didn't know he was there."

And you can't have "confession" without marketing. You only confess when you have something to promote and Cheney had comeback news! With regards to whether or not he authorized Scooter Libby to reveal classified information, Cheney was pushing harder than a first wife, shunted aside for a trophy wife, there to market a new fashion line. From "Vice President Says He Has Authority to Declassify Items" (Bloomberg News):

Vice President Dick Cheney, whose former chief of staff is reported to have testified to a grand jury that his superiors authorized him to disclose classified information, said on Wednesday that he had the power to declassify material.
"There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president but also includes the vice president," Mr. Cheney said in an interview on Fox News.

Because, just as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there will be a second act. Cut to cheering audience.

An e-mail noted that Blumenthal included this in his article:

An ambulance -- one always accompanies Mr. Cheney -- arrived in about 30 minutes.

That is bravery for the Timid; however, it needs to be noted that in the actual televised interview, Cheney said the following:

We also had an ambulance at the ranch, because one always follows me around wherever I go.

From Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches:

On Wednesday 16 February 2006, Australian public broadcaster SBS current affairs program DATELINE telecast a segment featring 60 new photos of the torture inflicted on prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These photos were secured by court order -- the ACLU figures prominently in the report -- but these photos haven't yet been shown in the media anywhere in the United States. Because of the broadcast on SBS, you now have access to both Web-downloadable versions and BitTorrent file-sharing network versions of the broadcast on this site. THESE PHOTOS ARE VERY DISTURBING. Please do not view this video if you are easily disturbed by graphic imagery of torture and death.
Download the SBS Abu Ghraib video (mp4)

Along with that link, Jamail's providing other links as well so click here.

Media Channel is also offering videos these days. (For about a month now.) It's a pay service and there's a free trial membership offered. If you're interested, go to Media Channel. (Yes, I know we have members operating on old computer systems with old versions of Windows and that the prospect of watching online isn't possible for all. That's why I haven't pushed this. I'm not pushing it now, but since we're not one set of video, it makes sense to note this as well.)

Okay, short version of what was going to be a stand alone entry last night. The press (print) is killing the Jack Abramoff story. Killing it with bad writing. For some that may be an intentional kill, for others that may be an accident. (No, that wasn't a Cheney accident.) But people aren't able to follow it. Print writers (and their editors) need to learn to set-up. Whether it's mainstream or alternative, they need to learn how to set up a story. If they were telling the story on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman would be there to say, "Let me stop you right now . . ." and get the point clarified. They are writing over the readers' heads. As a group, they are doing that. Whenever the issue is money, you have to go slow. The more zeroes you add, the less people can relate. It's a Congressional scandal and those are the easiest stories to kill intentionally to begin with. Not everyone writing these bad articles is attempting to kill the story off, but they are bad articles. (Again, I'm speaking of print. Media Matters, to note one online resource, has done a wonderful job of keeping it simple and easy to digest. Print isn't doing the same.) I grew up seeing the process of killing and saving a Congressional scandal in print. If my grandfather cared about the story, he'd get with the reporter, rip apart what they wrote, and they'd start over together. If he didn't care about the scandal, he'd print it as is. Nobody's going to that trouble today. (And I'm not interested in writing myself about Congressional scandals, more power to those who are.) This would have been a long entry but instead I was stuck in the e-mails dealing with what I see as nonsense. (If Wally was slammed, that changes the status. And if Wally was slammed, I will have something to say on the topic.)

In the midst of that, I saw an e-mail on Danny Schechter's latest and thought, "Do I want to read this?" I shouldn't have worried. Danny knows how to tell a story. He's worked in all forms of media, he knows how to craft a story, how to hook you and how to tell it. So we'll note his
"JACK ABRAMOFF'S WHITE MAN'S BURDEN: How the Sleazy Republican Lobbyist Boosted Apartheid" (

Picture the scene.
It was a quiet night in June 1985 in the equatorial heat of Jamba, a small town in the heartland of Angola, the oil and diamond rich African nation that was divided by a bloody civil war for 30 years. Jamba at the time was a base for Jonas' Savimbi's Unita movement, a tribal secessionist army bizarrely funded, at the same time, by Communist China and the CIA.
A top-secret meeting was then underway between Savimbi and his boosters led by a young American Republican activist, none other than Jack Abramoff a man who could bring down the current GOP Administration. He was there representing an organization he founded, the International Freedom Foundation. Abramoff, and others disguised their identities. His code name was "Pacman." Also present, a South African newspaper reports, "Leaders of the Afghan mujahedin, Nicaraguan contras, Laotian guerrillas and members of the Oliver North American right." (Could a Bin Laden operative have been there with the CIA- backed Afghan delegation? There's no evidence of that yet.)
Unita's strongman, the late Jonas Savimbi, who fancied calling himself Dr. Savimbi, was a masterful guerilla fighter who became the darling of the American right wing as it rallied to the cause of Unita's main ally, racist South Africa. Conservatives dubbed him a freedom fighter, heralding him as their Che Guevara. In the end 600, 000 people, mostly civilians would die in this bloody conflict, many as result of atrocities perpetuated by Unita. (I reported from Angola in that period and can confirm it was an awful bloodletting with cities like Lubongo destroyed and thousands displaced.)
Abramoff's trip to Angola had been paid for by right-wing New York financier Lewis Lehrman as part of an effort to create a global anti-communist alliance.
(Lehrman later fired Abramoff, who would go on to become the most notorious lobbyist in America, for inflating his expense reports, a portent of corrupt practices to come.)
Abramoff, an ultra-orthodox Jew recalled an incident when he left the meeting to pray alone in the bush. "They thought, I was a "mystic," he would later write.
There was nothing mystical about the US policies Abramoff was then covertly advancing.

That hooks you. That's how you tell a story. Bad writing's not going to rescue the Abramoff story or make people care. I've seen too many Congressional scandals swept under the rug despite mountains of ink wasted them. (Including one that involved a family member.) They're the easiest stories to kill. And you can kill them very easily with bad writing (intentionally or unintentionally). Good writing alone doesn't save a Congressional scandal. It does allow people to follow. So make a point to read Danny's article today. (And that's the short version of the intended entry.) And make a point to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

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