Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Reliable BS

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
-"The Solution," Bertolt Brecht, 1953

Remember — the problem is not that the Bush administration is breaking the law and concealing it or lying about it. The real problem is that you know about it. And that, friends, means it’s time to play that beloved conservative game: Blame the Fourth Estate!

The Raw Story has the video up of a segment from Howard Kurtz’ CNN show Reliable Sources. In it, New York Times columnist Frank Rich must defend against the by now familiar BS line that the press are traitors for revealing yet another secret, illegal government program (this one deals with global banking — I know, it’s hard to keep track any more). Three papers initially covered the story, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal (no link because subscription is required). Guess which newspaper earned conservatives’ ire and which paper received no comment?

Rich is first subjected to Dick Cheney’s charges that revealing the program is irresponsible and hurts the war on terror. In the next clip, Peter King (R-NY) does Cheney one better by insisting that criminal charges be filed against reporters. Finally, Rich must fend off former White House speech writer David Frum, who denouces the dissemination of this information as treason most foul, and who divines the machinations of The New York Times in all three newspaper accounts based on the “grammar” of the story. Never let the realities of media competition interfere with a good liberal conspiracy theory! Rich does a fine job of laughing in Frum’s face in a mostly civil manner.

A shorter statement from these conservative press critics could just as well be: “I’m disappointed that this truth-telling may become a trend.”

Really, I think the American people would be more forgiving about the Bush administration's unprecedented law-breaking if they were just more, well, competent. At this point, Bush’s approval rating hovers around 30%, down to his base, the “yellow dogs,” so to speak. These are the people who a) think he’s competent or b) think the Democrats would do an even worse job or c) are sticking with Bush out of stubborn loyalty or d) hate the Democrats so much anything they oppose must be good.

The Washington Post’s account of the story contains a choice quotation:

"We are disappointed that once again the New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect Americans," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "We know that al-Qaeda watches for any clue as to how we are fighting the war on terrorism and then they adapt, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement.”
Yeah, well, Dana, some of us are pretty damn disappointed "once again" in this administration. I know you’re a paid flack, but anyone who thinks that terrorists aren’t aware they may be monitored or recorded is a complete idiot. Mobsters have been using surveillance-foiling tactics for decades. Hasn't the White House crew seen Casino? Or is it only Rambo, based on their disastrous foreign policy? Maybe if your team could, y’know, follow the law and uphold the Constitution - oh, not to mention, tell the truth without being forced to at gunpoint - you’d have a little more credibility when you complain about the press. (Apparently, the Bush administration chose to brief lawmakers on this latest disclosed program only after the newspapers said they would run the story, all for the purpose of the White House minimizing damage and being able to claim, "they were briefed!")

And let's not forget about Cheney, as transcribed from the video:

What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some in the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people. That offends me.

Considering Cheney’s batting average is almost nil, and he’s a well-established liar, if he’s genuinely offended (or even if it's the usual manufactured outrage), it probably means you’re doing something right. What I find most "disturbing" about Dick Cheney is that he’s taken it upon himself to bypass the legislature and the judiciary and push for a series of dangerous, harmful and illegal actions, from warrantless eavesdropping to torture, thus making it more difficult for America to retain its previously positive image abroad, not to mention the problems caused by a direct and sustained assault upon the Constitution and the core values of America itself. That offends me.

And sorry, no, you don’t get to lie repeatedly to the American people and to Congress and keep on telling the same discredited story about Atta in the Czech Republic even after DCI Tenet has told you to stop doing that because they know it’s false and the Czechs say so, too... (whoops, sorry the list can go on for so very long...) You don’t get to lie repeatedly, perform horribly, break the law and then complain about other people when they tell the truth. There’s a reason that Cheney’s approval rating is regularly below 20%, and it says something that not even all the diehards will stick up for Cheney.

Ask not how your government can better serve you. Ask how you can better assist the government in curtailing your civil liberties.

There's a saying that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. However, knaves and scalliwags vilifying those who tell the truth about them is a pretty reliable occurence as well. The only question is what flavor the BS will come in this time, and from whom.

Perhaps if Cheney is unhappy with the people, he can dissolve them and elect another. Personally, I’m hoping a step in the other direction shall occur this November.

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