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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Light holiday fare

(updated below - updated again)

A few (perversely) humorous holiday items:

(1) On this weekend's Meet the Press, Bill Bennett ominously warned the panel of journalists that Americans were growing extremely angry over the disclosures of classified information by The New York Times and other newspapers. Riding this wave of massive public rage towards the NYT, a protest was organized for yesterday by Cliff Kinkaid of Accuracy in Media along with The protest was heavily promoted by Michelle Malkin (who announced that she would personally attend) and other pro-Bush bloggers, who urged all patriotic Americans to attend and make their anger at the NYT heard loudly and clearly.

The protest was scheduled to take place in front of the Times' Washington Bureau, where the Al Qaeda-lovers/traitors Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau work. The protest was over the fact that the NYT has, of course, been "giving aid and comfort to al Qaeda." The protest occurred yesterday and, on a beautiful July day in Washington, a grand total of 20 outraged Americans showed up (including Cliff Kinkaid, Michelle, one of her Hot Air workers, and Matt Stoller, who filed a photographic report of the historic event -- which means that 16 protestors actually showed up).

Michelle linked to this report from Aaron, a blogger who attended and reported on the event. His whole report is highly worth reading, but I found this observation of his to be particularly incisive:

Halfway during [AIM's Cliff] Kinkaid's speech, three muslim tourists stopped to watch and began speaking in their foreign tongue. I thought it was a bit ironic.

Just "a bit ironic?" Is anyone surprised that when Muslims want to gather to speak in their foreign tongue, they choose the front of The New York Times building as their meeting place? And if there is anything that powerfully illustrates the true threats we face from terrorism -- threats which the NYT is intent on aiding and abetting -- it's the sudden appearance of 3 Muslim tourists speaking in their foreign tongue. I'd say that's much more than "a bit ironic." If anyone believes that those sentiments were the exception rather than the rule for this protest, just look at a few of the photographs from Matt Stoller's report.

Michelle also announced that "a second protest at the main NYC offices of the Times is scheduled for July 10, 5pm Eastern, 229 West 43rd Street." One commenter here, who apparently attended yesterday's event and filed his own report, had this to say:

The streets of Washington D.C. were brought to a standstill today by massive protests over recent treasonous actions by the New York Times. As the massive crowds gathered in front offices of the newspaper’s Washington D.C. offices, employees inside cringed with fear and pretended not to notice.

They did a good job. When asked for estimate on the overwhelming crowds, a D.C Parks Dept. a spokesperson responded, “huh, what are you talking about?”

Obviously left speechless and overwhelmed by his crowd control duties, no other comments were forthcoming, and no other spokespersons made themselves available - too much work to do to keep the crowds under control. Of course, the traitorous hate-America mainstream media refused to covered the event, which left only Bryan from Hot Air to try and capture the feel of the event, fortunately he was joined by award-winning veteran reporter Michelle Malkin to cover the event as it deserved to be covered.

New York City is trembling with fear, because the Free Republic has organized another protest July 10.

Bush followers obviously believe that hate-mongering against the NYT is going to be the key to their electoral strategy, as it will motivate their "base." John Podhoretz argued exactly this in his Op-Ed yesterday in the New York Post, entitled "Uniting the Right -- Thank you, New York Times." But Americans have abandoned this administration due to a long list of intense grievances with the President, and relentless, hysterical attacks on newspapers are highly unlikely to make them forget about those grievances.

Ultimately, any institution or group which commits the Greatest Sin of opposing the President and imposing any limits on his powers will be subjected to this same treatment. The media, the Supreme Court, whistleblowers, Senate Democrats are all depicted as treasonous swine and allies of Al Qaeda because they oppose the President and believe that he should not have unlimited power. The war they are waging on the NYT is simply one front in the war they wage on anyone or anything which impedes or "hampers" the President's will in any way.

(2) Speaking of hysterical attacks on newspapers, several rather similar bloggers who pumped the "Hidden-Murder-Scheme-in-the-NYT-Travel-Section" plot -- Michelle Malkin, Tom Maguire, David Horowitz, and Pamela at Atlas Shrugs -- have now responded to the fact that: (a) the photograph of Rumsfeld's house was taken with his permission; (b) all of the information published by the NYT has long ago appeared in numerous other media outlets, including NewsMax and Fox; and (c) both Rumsfeld's representative and the Secret Service scoffed at their claim that this article endangered anyone's security. How did the accusers respond? By dismissing the Secret Service's views and re-affirming their original accusations even in light of these facts:

Michelle Malkin: "What news value and journalistic end was served by publishing the Cheney/Rumsfeld vacation home piece and the accompanying photo? 'Because Rumsfeld gave permission' may cut it with the moonbats and fairweather privocrats. Not with me."

Tom Maguire: "Greg Sargent of TAPPED follows up on the security issues, and is pleased to conclude there are none . . . . Well, as I said in my post, I had no doubt a determined terrorist or protest group could have found this info without the help of the Times. Coming as it does a week after President Bush called the conduct of the Times "disgraceful", I remain dubious of the timing."

David Horowitz: "It is in the context of this hatred directed among others at Rumsfeld and Cheney that the Times action has to be assessed. . . . The casual (and unnecessary) publication of the pictures of Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s homes seemed to me of a piece with this ongoing recklessness and lack of care for the safety of Americans. . . .

Finally, the fact that Rumsfeld responded to the Times request to take the pictures means what? What else could he say? He lives under conditions of danger that go with waging a war in behalf of this country, intensified by what magnitude one can only guess th the (sic) divisive and hate-filled propaganda of the left and antiwar liberals. . . . Does this mean that when the Rumsfeld family goes to town now its risks are not heightened? Hardly."

Pamela at Atlas Shrugs: "A number of readers have advised me that Rumsfeld gave his permission for the photos to be used. I am sure he was thrilled. IMAO, I think it stinks."

So they accused the NYT of deliberately endangering the security of Rumsfeld and Cheney by printing that travel article. If you wanted to debunk that accusation and had the power to have the best possible evidence magically materialize, you would wish for it turn out that the photographs were taken with the permission of Rumsfeld himself, that right-wing media outlets previously published the same information, and that the Secret Service would make clear how ludicrous the accusations are. And, lo and behold, that's exactly what materialized here. And yet the accusers, even in the face of that dream evidence, still insist that they were right all along and that this Travel article is highly suspicious.

There are no facts which matter. Literally, virtually every political controversy we have is generated by this fact-impervious mindset, this refusal to accept that what one wishes is true is not, in fact, true. As one commenter here observed about Malkin's "response":

So....both Cheney and Rumsfeld confirm that the puff piece constituted no security threat . . . But their mere permission isn't enough for her, no. Only a "moonbat" or some entity known as a "fairweather privocrat" would accept that the Times did nothing wrong just because the Vice President and Defense Secretary themselves say so.

The woman claims liberals are "unhinged." If Rumsfeld and Cheney could make hay criticizing the Times in this instance, they most assuredly would, but even they would be too embarrassed to do so in this context. Malkin is clearly exempt from such normal emotional inhibitions.

Literally nothing could convince her that the NYT did no wrong. Nothing.

For a similar, highly amusing response to Horowitz's ongoing insistence that he was right, see this comment here. These sentiments apply to each of the accuser-bloggers who are refusing to repudiate their extremely serious accusations against the NYT even in the face of the most conclusive facts one could imagine. And that syndrome repeats itself over and over again. Things are going great in Iraq. Saddam really did have WMDs when we invaded. Bush is a popular president. His policies are beloved and supported by regular Americans. The NYT disclosure that the administration eavesdrops without warrants rather than in compliance with the law helped The Terrorists to evade surveillance. Nothing matters less than facts.

(3) For pure holiday entertainment value, I cannot recommend this video highly enough. It contains five minutes of political commentary by Pamela of Atlas Shrugs while she watches CNN. Pamela was one of the four bloggers selected by John Bolton for an exclusive blog interview he gave a couple of weeks ago.

I confess that I sat, literally transfixed, watching the entire video, and then watched it a second time immediately thereafter, in full. I fear that I will be unable to resist watching again today, at least once. It defies belief, is truly riveting, and yet, at the same time, is depressingly instructive. It's really everything at once, all packed into a jaw-dropping, action-packed 5 minutes.

UPDATE: Two additional worthwhile items regarding the attacks from Bush followers on a free press:

(4) This is from last week, but I only saw it yesterday and it is truly amazing - Fox's Brian Kilmeade and E.D. Hill both overtly advocating the creation of an Office of Censorship to suppress any news articles which are deemed harmful to the country.

(5) As I suggested yesterday, I believe that the media is beginning, finally, to recognize the serious threats posed to it by the Bush administration. Atrios has a long excerpt of a Nicholas Kristof column from today which bolsters that belief.

UPDATE II: Scott Lemieux has a persuasive and thorough explanation as to why the fanatical accusers of the NYT still refuse to back down from their inane-from-the-very-beginning accusations of treachery and treason hidden in the NYT weekend Travel Section, even now that the most conclusive evidence possible has emerged demonstrating how false those accusations are. In sum, Lemieux points out: "Given that the attempts to gin up a scandal started at the absolute ground zero of idiocy and paranoia, additional evidence of the idiocy of the non-story is beside the point."

That's all true, but humiliations like this -- events that demonstrably and undeniably expose their complete lack of credibility -- ought to at least influence how they are perceived. It's unsurprising that John Hinderaker, Michelle Malkin and David Horowitz et al. are unmoved even by evidence that's this conclusive, but why do Howard Kurtz and Time Magazine and CNN continue to treat people like this -- people who are entirely unburdened by even minimal amounts of rationality and integrity -- as though they are serious pundits deserving of respect and large media platforms?

UPDATE III: Several additional posts worth reading in the wake of the exposure of these sham accusations:

(a) The generally reasonable Kevin Aylward at Wizbang acknowledges the obvious -- that the NYT vacation home article was merely a "puff piece" rather than a secret coded plot to send hit squads from their Al Qaeda allies to murder the Vice President and Defense Secretary -- and he therefore commendably added a corrective update to the post by his co-blogger, Lorie Byrd, which originally helped spread the false accusations.

Byrd, however, is much more tenacious, as she clings pitifully to the possibility that she really was right all along. As I pointed out in a comment in response to Kevin's post, Byrd evidently believes that she knows more than both Rumsfeld himself and the Secret Service about security issues surrounding Cheney and Rumsfeld, as she continues to insinuate that the NYT story really did pose a security threat even though both Rumsfeld's office and the Secret Service said that it did not. Just pause for a moment to contemplate the level of denseness and imperviousness to reason which that reaction requires -- and then consider that Malkin, Horowitz and Maguire are levels beyond (or, as it were, below) that, given that they continue not merely to insinuate, but to insist, that they were right all along.

(b) Greg Sargent, who (unlike those spewing the false accusations against the NYT) thought to pick up the phone and call Rumsefeld's office and the Secret Service to ask if the article really did pose any threat, analyzes the political reasons motivating these attacks on the NYT-- reasons which continue to drive the accusers still to insist that their disproven accusations are true.

(c) Despite all the ink now spilled over this matter, the Editors remind us of just how straightforward this issue was all along.

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