Posted by: quiscus | June 11, 2010

June 11, 2010

1.  “Pentagon hunting Wikileaks founder

Julian Assange hopefully on the run”

2.  “Italian flotilla journalist: My credit card was used after IDF confiscated it”

3.  “Israeli Official Threatens to Kill Turkish PM

Uzi Dayan, former deputy Chief of General Staff in Israel, says the Jewish state should consider a possible Turkish military escort of Gaza aid ships an act of war. “If the Turkish prime minister joins such a flotilla,” Dayan told Israeli army radio, according to the Jerusalem Post, “we should make clear beforehand this would be an act of war, and we would not try to take over the ship he was on, but would sink it.”

It is unprecedented for a top level state official to threaten a head of another state with murder.”

4.  “Hypocrisy Reigns. “The World has been taken over by Lying, Hypocritical, Mass-murdering Madmen”

Things internationally are so dispiriting there’s nothing left to do but fantasize. I picture Turkey, as a member of NATO, demanding that the alliance come to its defense after being attacked by Israel. Under Article 5 of the NATO charter an armed attack on one member is deemed to constitute an armed attack on all members. That is the ostensible reason NATO is fighting in Afghanistan — the attack against the United States on September 11, 2001 is regarded as an attack on all NATO members (disregarding the awkward fact that Afghanistan as a country had nothing to do with the attack). The Israeli attack on a Turkish-flagged ship, operated by a Turkish humanitarian organization, killing nine Turkish nationals and wounding many more can certainly constitute an attack upon a NATO member.

So, after the United States, the UK, Germany, France and other leading NATO members offer their ridiculous non-sequitur excuses why they can’t … umm … er … invoke Article 5, and the international media swallows it all without any indigestion, Turkey demands that Israel should at least lose its formal association with NATO as a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue. This too is dismissed with scorn by the eminent NATO world powers on the grounds that it would constitute a victory for terrorism. And anti-Semitism of course.

Turkey then withdraws from NATO. Azerbaijan and five other Central Asian members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace with Turkic constituencies do the same. NATO falls into a crisis. Remaining member countries begin to question the organization’s policies as never before … like please tell us again why our young men are killing and dying in Afghanistan, and why we send them to Kosovo and Iraq and other places the Americans deem essential to their endlessly-threatened national security.”

5.  “Gulf Oil Spill “Could Go on Years and Years” …

Silence from Eco groups?… Follow the money

Without doubt at this point we are in the midst of what could be the greatest ecological catastrophe in history. The oil platform explosion took place almost within the current loop where the Gulf Stream originates. This has huge ecological and climatological consequences.

A cursory look at a map of the Gulf Stream shows that the oil is not just going to cover the beaches in the Gulf, it will spread to the Atlantic coasts up through North Carolina then on to the North Sea and Iceland. And beyond the damage to the beaches, sea life and water supplies, the Gulf stream has a very distinct chemistry, composition (marine organisms), density, temperature. What happens if the oil and the dispersants and all the toxic compounds they create actually change the nature of the Gulf Stream? No one can rule out potential changes including changes in the path of the Gulf Stream, and even small changes could have huge impacts. Europe, including England, is not an icy wasteland due to the warming from the Gulf Stream.

Yet there is a deafening silence from the very environmental organizations which ought to be at the barricades demanding that BP, the US Government and others act decisively.

That deafening silence of leading green or ecology organizations such as Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and others may well be tied to a money trail that leads right back to the oil industry, notably to BP. Leading environmental organizations have gotten significant financial payoffs in recent years from BP in order that the oil company could remake itself with an “environment-friendly face,” as in “beyond petroleum” the company’s new branding. ”

6.  “Journalistic balance at the expense of truth

Is there a single person anywhere who has ever argued or believes “that all detainees are innocents,” let alone this belief being so pervasive as to be a “myth of the left”?  No, of course not.  Such a proposition is absurd and, in five years of writing about detention issues, I have never, ever heard anyone say or even suggest “that all detainees are innocents.”  The argument is and has always been that due process must be granted to detainees so that a fair determination can be made as to their guilt or innocence, and that it’s tyrannical to indefinitely detain people without charges (particularly because, once the Supreme Court mandated minimal due process in 2008, the vast majority of detainees who sought habeas review [though not all] have been found to be wrongfully detained).  Obviously, to call for due process for detainees is not to assert that they are all “innocents,” any more than an insistence on the right to a jury trial is reflective of a belief that all criminal defendants are innocent.  That’s so obvious it shouldn’t need to be stated.

So why did Ambinder invent this non-existent belief and then attribute it to “the left”?  Because that’s what journalists do who are eager to show how “balanced” and centrist they are.  Ambinder is correct that the series of habeas defeats for the Government “demolish the myth of the right that all detainees are cutthroat super terrorists” (a view reflected by the constant conflation between “Guantanamo detainee” and “Terrorist,” i.e., the refusal to recognize the distinction between accused Terrorist and Terrorist, as though all detainees are, by definition, Terrorists).  But he can’t simply point out that reality negates this belief of the Right, because that would mean he’s being imbalanced, biased and (the greatest sin of all) a non-centrist.  So he then has to concoct a totally ludicrous view and attribute it the “left” — and then proceed to mock and criticize it — to prove that he’s in the center, with equal distaste for both extremes,  and thus reasonable and pragmatic.  That’s what most journalists believe “objectivity” requires, and it’s to be achieved at all costs, including a complete departure from reality.”

7.  “Don’t forget about Beltway cowardice

That there is no remote journalistic justification for granting anonymity for these kinds of catty comments is self-evident, but that’s not worth discussing, since the Drudgeified Politico has long ago established that they operate without any ethical constraints of any kind when it comes to such matters.  The only anonymity standard Politico has is this:  we grant it automatically the minute someone in power wants it (though on some level, in a warped sort of way, that’s almost more admirable than what the NYT and Post do:  pretend that they have strict anonymity standards while basically handing it out as promiscuously as Politico does).  But what is striking is how often top White House officials — who are among the most politically powerful people in the country — are willing to inject views into the public discourse only if they can be assured that they will never be accountable for what they say.  That is just unadulterated cowardice.

I suppose this shouldn’t be particularly surprising.  Washington is a culture of cowardice.  It’s filled with people who systematically suppress (or never develop) genuine convictions for the sake of career advancement, who continuously advocate wars which only other people fight and against countries which cannot defend themselves, who are secrecy-obsessed and whose most significant acts take place in the dark in order to avoid consequences and accountability.  Still, the long-standing propensity of White House officials to cower behind anonymity even to spit the most trivial insults — remember this and this and this and this? — stands out as particularly weak and pathetic.  There are obviously times when anonymity is justified and necessary — when someone powerless is risking something substantial to reveal serious wrongdoing by those who wield power — but these cases are the opposite.  Just ponder the character of the “senior White House official” who was so angry about what labor leaders did in Arkansas that s/he just had to call Ben Smith in order to stoke divisions between unions and their members by criticizing their actions, but then pleaded:  “don’t use my name when you publish my comments.”  That’s what Washington is filled with, and it’s why Washington is what it is.


Doubtless, part of the great appeal of being someone who works in the White House is the ability to personally revel in the reflected power of the American presidency. As such, when someone there has thoughts, it’s a small step for them to believe that those thoughts are important and substantive rather than petulant and cliquish. The fact that you have people who are eager to grant you a place to have these thoughts published while acceding to your desire to remain a “power behind the throne” can only be a supreme ego stroke.

This type of psychosis is definitely bred by political power (or proximity to it) and plays a significant role in all of this (see here for a particularly vivid example).


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