I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Various matters

A few miscellaneous items of interest:

(1) Following up on the post yesterday about George and Kellyanne Conway, there are two matters to note:

(a) Commenter Sully pointed to this passage from page 182 of David Brock’s book Blinded by the Right:

For the next few years, Conway ... spoke to me about little else but Clinton’s rumored sexual habits, and the supposed size and shape of his genitalia. On some level, Conway's hatred of Clinton seemed attributable to raw jealousy.

For the few people who e-mailed to opine that my post about the Conways was too aggressive or personal, please give that some thought. There are lots of things that probably explain George Conway’s obsession with this particular genitalia matter, but the important point is that the assaults and attacks engaged in by people like him throughout the 1990s degraded our political discourse in unprecedented ways.

(b) Speaking of which, George’s wife, Kellyanne, appeared on television last night with Joe Scarborough and this is what she did:

I just saw [MSNBC's] Joe Scarborough with airhead pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick go on and on about how "Democratic Senators" have been taking their cues from Bin Laden or vice versa and both had been persecuting our Commander-in-Chief.

Accusing Bush opponents of treason and subversiveness -- or working in tandem with Osama bin Laden -- is, in a real sense, a continuation of the sleazy Republican tactics of the 1990s. Nobody plays more games with matters of national security and terrorism than Bush followers, for whom those issues are little more than instruments to be used for domestic political gain.

UPDATE: Crooks & Liars has the (unpleasant-to-watch) video of Kellyanne comparing "the President's detractors" to Osama bin Laden.

(2) There is a glaring double standard for what is acceptable for political rhetoric in this country. Anything other than the most reverent and restrained criticism of George Bush is strongly condemned by the establishment media, and yet the most extreme types of accusations (treason, working with Osama, etc.) are endorsed and therefore prevalent against the President’s opponents.

Along these lines, Digby details two separate, quite illustrative episodes involving the odious Chris Matthews – (a) his remarks that bin Laden in his new video "sounds like Michael Moore"; and (b) some truly repulsive homophobic banter between Matthews and faux-cowboy Don Imus in which they guffaw while referring to "Bare-backing Mountain" and "Fudgepack Mountain." Digby contrasts that banter with the truly unbelievable panting of Matthews, along with G. Gordon Liddy, over George Bush’s aircraft-carrier strutting.

Peter Daou is demanding an apology from Chris Matthews for his equating Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden, and is urging everyone in the blogosphere to join and demand that Matthews apologize. Digby in the post linked above provides the contact information for Matthews. And a new website has been created to leave your comments for Chris Matthews regarding his behavior.

(3) Armando has an excellent post lamenting the inability and/or refusal of certain timid Democratic types to clearly articulate the real dangers posed by the Bush Administration. I really believe that this is one of the central problems in mounting a real challenge to the excesses of this Administration – that even so many Democrats have been bullied for so long that they are afraid of standing up in any real way to the Administration, because they doubt their ability to persuade Americans of their views.

As a result, they dribble out entirely half-hearted and vague protests which are so incoherent that they are incapable of letting anyone even know what their position is, let alone persuading anyone of that position. They then point to the fact that Americans don’t agree with these (tepidly expressed) protests as a reason not to pursue them more aggressively. It’s a vicious, self-defeating cycle which has been George Bush’s best friend.

(4) Jane Hamsher has done some superb blogging the past few days regarding The Washington Post’s Ombudsman Deborah Howell and Howell's flatly false statement about the Abramoff scandal. This episode is a real case study in how blogging can have a meaningful impact on how events are reported. Adding to Jane’s tenacity were Atrios and John at Crooks & Liars, among others, and as a result, Howell was forced by the unrelenting tidal wave of protests into a reluctant retraction, and the Post was so upset by the intensity of the protests that they actually eliminated their Comments Section on their blogs.

The important point is that they felt the wrath of readers as a result of their inaccurate reporting – whereby they simply ingested and then disseminated GOP talking points that were false – and this episode can only make them more careful in the future.

(5) Both Digby and Sean-Paul Kelley have good posts regarding mistakes they believe Democrats are making in talking about the Abramaoff scandal.

(6) The Heretik’s takes on pretty much every issue are always unique and entertainingly expressed. I highly recommend this post regarding the Administration’s rhetoric in defense of its illegal eavesdropping.

(7) I have a new post from last night up at C&L regarding the way in which this Administration has destroyed U.S. credibility by a steady stream of statements which have, time and again, turned out to be false. For the first time in my lifetime, many people immediately disregard -- not subject to scepticism, but outright disregard -- statements of purported fact which they hear from the Government. Many Americans generally, as well as our traditional allies, have arrived at the sad and counter-productive point where they simply don’t trust what the Administration says. Given the history of its statements and conduct (which, regardless of the reason why, have proven over and over to be inaccurate), any rational person would do the same.

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