Friday, August 19, 2005

A brief break

I'm off to the wilds of northern Vancouver Island for a week conducting research for my next book, and I think it will be a given that the broadband availability will be limited. I'll be pretty busy, too, so please don't expect too much.

I'd really like to post more about Eric Muller's revelations about our friend "Bob" -- but really, his post speaks for itself, and anything I could say would be mere replication.

However, James Lileks' latest is just so wrong-headed, as well as simply dead wrong on the facts, that it positively cries out for a response. So I'm hoping to fire something off while I'm up there. I usually do my best to ignore Lileks, who is a cloying ninny of the most execrable sort, but this can't go unanswered.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Elrushbo Decree

I think it's already pretty clear that Rush Limbaugh is the nation's premier practitioner of the politics of eliminationism. It is a constant theme, of Limbaugh's, really; after all, nearly all of his shows are not so much to trumpet conservative ideals, except insofar as they reflect his larger project, which is the utter demonization and expulsion of liberalism.

So it was perfectly within character when reports recently surfaced (via Atrios) that he was recently caught wishing aloud again for the elimination of liberals from the nation altogether:
LIMBAUGH: We just had Stephen Breyer saying, oh, yeah, totally appropriate, we must import what they're doing around the world in other democracies, it will help buttress their attempt to establish the rule of law, and we might learn something, too. Well, here's something I'd like to import. I'd like to import the ability that the Brits are doing to export and deport a bunch of hate-rhetoric filled mullahs and imams that are stoking anti-American sentiment. Wouldn't it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country? Anybody that threatens this country, kick 'em out. We'd get rid of Michael Moore, we'd get rid of half the Democratic Party if we would just import that law. That would be fabulous. The Supreme Court ought to look into this. Absolutely brilliant idea out there.

Nevermind, of course, that the British policy to which he refers strictly deals with foreign extremists. I'm sure that, in the interests of national security, such details can be overlooked when it comes to purging the nation of liberals, as far as Limbaugh is concerned.

What's that? You say this is only a joke? Riiiight. Now, tell me again: What kind of person would think this joke were actually funny?

The truth is, not only is El Rushbo perfectly serious, he actually has prepared a doctrinal statement in support of just such a policy. It's all hush-hush, of course, for now; but my impeccably placed sources have assured me that the following decree, obtained in the dead of night through old-fashioned investigative techniques, has issued directly from the pen of the Most Dangerous Man in America himself.

That's right, folks: An Orcinus exclusive. Secret Plans From Limbaugh's Secret Files!

Mind you, the plan contained herein appears to be contingent on other plans evidently already in the works -- indeed, it seems to have been written for events more than a decade ahead. Make of it what you will:
The ElRushbo Decree

You well know that in our Republican dominion, there are certain bad Americans that liberalized and committed apostasy against our holy Conservative faith, much of it the cause of communications between Liberals and Real Americans. Therefore, in the year 2006, we ordered that the Liberals be separated from the cities and towns of our domains and that they be given separate quarters, hoping that by such separation the situation would be remedied. And we ordered that and an Independent Counsel be established in such domains; and in twelve years it has functioned, the Independent Counsel has found many guilty persons. Furthermore, we are informed by the Independent Counsel and others that the great harm done to the Americans persists, and it continues because of the conversations and communications that they have with the Liberals, such Liberals trying by whatever manner to subvert our holy Conservative faith and trying to draw faithful Americans away from their beliefs.

These Liberals instruct these Americans in the ceremonies and observances of their Law, educating their children, and giving them books with which to read, and declaring unto them the theories of evolution, and meeting with them to teach them their false anti-American histories, and organizing environmentally conscious practices, including the hugging of trees and the saving of whales, and making them understand that there is no other law or truth besides it. All of which then is clear that, on the basis of confessions from such Liberals as well as those perverted by them, that it has resulted in great damage and detriment of our holy Conservative faith.

And because we knew that the true remedy of such damages and difficulties lay in the severing of all communications between the said Liberals with the Real Americans and in sending them forth from all our reigns, we sought to content ourselves with ordering the said Liberals from all the cities and villages and places of California, where it appeared that they had done major damage, believing that this would suffice so that those from other cities and villages and places in our reigns and holdings would cease to commit the aforesaid. And because we have been informed that neither this, nor the justices done for some of the said Liberals found very culpable in the said crimes and transgressions against our holy Conservative faith, has been a complete remedy to obviate and to correct such opprobrium and offense to the Conservative faith; because every day it appears that the said Liberals increase in continuing their evil and harmful purposes wherever they reside and converse; and because there is no place left whereby to more offend our holy faith, as much as those which God has protected to this day as in those already affected, it is left for the Master of All Megadittoes to mend and reduce the matter to its previous state inasmuch as, because of our frailty of humanity, it could occur that we could succumb to the diabolical temptation that continually wars against us so easily if its principal cause were not removed, which would be to expel the said Liberals from the kingdom. Because whenever a grave and detestable crime is committed by some members of a given group, it is reasonable that the group be dissolved or annihilated, the minors for the majors being punished one for the other; and that those who pervert the good and honest living on the cities and villages and who by their contagion could harm others, be expelled from the midst the people, still yet for other minor causes, that would be of harm to the Republic, and all the more so for the major of these crimes, dangerous and contagious as it is.

Therefore, with the council and advice of the eminent men and cavaliers of our reign, and of other persons of knowledge and conscience of our Supreme Council, after much deliberation, it is agreed and resolved that all Liberals and Leftists be ordered to leave our kingdoms, and that they never be allowed to return.

And we further order in this edict that all Liberals and Leftists of whatever age that reside in our domain and territories, that they leave with their sons and daughters. Their servants and relatives, large and small, of whatever age, by the end of July of this year, and that they dare not return to our lands, not so much as to take a step on them not trespass upon them in any other manner whatsoever. Any Liberal who does not comply with this edict and is to be found in our kingdom and domains, or who return to the kingdom in any manner, will incur punishment by death and confiscation of all their belongings.

We further order that no person in our Republic of whatever station or noble status hide or keep or defend any Liberal or Leftists, either publicly or secretly, from the end of July onwards, in their homes or elsewhere in our reign, upon punishment of loss of their belongings, vassals, fortresses, and hereditary privileges.

So that the said Liberals may dispose of their household and belongings in the given time period, for the present we provide our assurance of royal protection and security so that, until the end of the month of July, they may sell and exchange their belongings and furniture and other items, and to dispose of them freely as they wish; and that during said time, no one is to do them harm or injury or injustice to their persons or to their goods, which is contrary to justice, and which shall incur the punishment that befalls those who violate our royal security, unless of course you can make a profit off it, and then all bets are off.

Thus we grant permission to the said Liberals and Leftists to take out their goods and belongings out of our reigns, either by sea or by land, with the condition that they not take out either gold or silver or minted money or any other items prohibited by the laws of the Republic.

Therefore, we order all councilors, justices, magistrates, lawyers, ambulance-chasers, officials, and all our vassals and subjects, that they observe and comply with this letter and all that is contained in it, and that they give all the help and favor that is necessary for its execution, subject to punishment by our sovereign grace and by confiscation of all their goods and offices for our party statehouse.

And so that this may come to the notice of all, and so that no one may pretend ignorance, we order that this edict be proclaimed in all the plazas and usual meeting places of any given city; and that in the major cities and villages of the Republic, that it be done by the local radio talk-show host as well as all national radio talk-show hosts, and that neither one nor the other should do the contrary of what was desired, subject to the punishment by our sovereign grace and deprivation of their offices and by confiscation of their goods to whosoever does the contrary.

God Bless America.

Supposedly, this proposal has a historical precedent. Seems kind of far-fetched to me -- but then, my notions of "far fetched" have taken a beating in recent years ... In any event, what can you expect from anonymous sources?

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's about accountability

The Cindy Sheehan matter has produced more than its fair share of dumbassery from the usual suspects: i.e., right-wing bloggers for whom fealty to the Bush agenda is the chief gauge of a person's worth. You know the type.

But I've seen an inordinate amount coming from ostensibly mainstream media folks, too. However, considering what Sheehan's campaign is really all about, maybe there's a reason for that, too.

The most prominent local instance of this came from P-I columnist Robert Jamieson, who has of late been doing his best to enhance a "maverick" reputation. But his attack on Sheehan was so fluffy that it also, unfortunately, revealed a real shallowness to Jamieson's work (which, I've noted a couple of times in the past, has also exhibited problems regarding source checks).

Jamieson avers -- without any substantiation whatsoever -- that Sheehan is not sincere in her desire to meet with President Bush. He regurgitates the now well-trodden (and largely debunked) GOP/Drudge talking points claiming that Sheehan "changed her story."

He misses a key point regarding Sheehan's earlier meeting with Bush: It occurred in June 2004. The Duelfer Report -- which made clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction -- was released in September 2004. Note now, if you will, that Sheehan's main line of criticism of Bush is that "he lied to us."

You can bet that, if she had been so bold as to make that claim in June 2004, guys like Robert Jamieson (or some Fox News talking head) would have criticized her for it.

I was especially struck by these passages:
If Sheehan wants sober war policy answers, I have a one-word suggestion for her: Google.

She can read up on Bush's shifting justifications for the Iraq debacle. She won't get solid answers, but she will read a lot about a Bush administration that misrepresents facts and lies as a matter of habit.

She also will come across accounts of our "heartless" president crying with families of dead soldiers.

Sure. And she will also -- rather more to the point -- read many accounts of what happens when anyone chooses not to let themselves merely be a photo op for Bush's propaganda, a prop for his agenda. They get shut out or shouted down, accused of being anti-American traitors.

She'll be able to find any number of stories that make clear that the only way to you even get be in an audience for an appearance by the president is by swearing to be a supporter. And that the easiest way to get tossed from a Bush event is to express support for anything resembling a liberal idea. How weird -- how totalitarian -- is that?

This is a president who lives in a bubble, who refuses to be held to account. By anyone.

Indeed, if Cindy Sheehan were to Google around a bit, she could find plenty of stories about what happens to anyone who tries to hold this president to account. Paul O'Neill. Richard Clarke. Joe Wilson. All tried to expose the lies he used to lead us into this war, all were smeared. Wilson's wife saw her career as a CIA specialist in weapons of mass destruction end.

What's remarkable about all this is that Bush has succeeded. He has not yet been called to account for misleading the nation into war. The primary reason: the watchdogs of our national discourse, the mainstream media, have refused to hold him responsible.

I mean, just how is it that the nation isn't really aware of the contents of the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing? How is it that, nearly a year after both the 9/11 Commission Report and the Duelfer Report, most Americans still believe Iraq was connected to 9/11? How did it happen that a guy who certifiably skipped out on his military commitment was able to run a campaign that slandered his war-hero opponent's record? How is it that the Downing Street Memo is still just a rumor for most Americans?

I'll tell you how: Because the traditional media have completely fallen down on the job. The public isn't getting this information because guys like Robert Jamieson and his editors have decided they have, um, "other priorities."

Sure. While the threat of terrorism was building both at home and abroad in the late 1990s, these are the same folks who thought it worth the public's while to devote most of our attention to prurient allegations regarding the president's private life. Some priorities.

The song and dance continues: Michael Jackson. Scott and Laci Peterson. Robert Blake. Terri Schiavo. An endless circus of freak shows, bread and circus for the masses. Let's not be bothered by the inescapable reality that the United States invaded another nation under false pretenses, and almost certainly in violation of international law. Oh, and don't look over there at those photos from Abu Ghraib, either, or the reports out of Gitmo.

But then what happens? Someone comes along and reminds everyone that soldiers are dying daily in Iraq, and that this president still hasn't been called to account for misleading the nation into war, and in so doing, dishonoring the memories of those people who have died there. Someone tries to do what the media have failed to do: Hold this man to account.

And, well, the media poobahs huff and they puff. How dare she? Who does she think she is?

Well, Robert Jamieson may not like it, but she is someone who is speaking for a lot of us. We're people who are opposed to the war on principled grounds, and who have not been taken seriously because our motives, too, have been discounted and smeared.

You find wonderment that the antiwar movement has coalesced behind her? It shouldn't be a surprise, because everyone else who has demanded this accountability has been called an anti-American traitor, sideline carpers who won't make the necessary sacrifices. It's false, it's a smear. And it sticks -- mostly because the charge is made so freely in today's "mainstream media" environment. Right, Ann Coulter?

But it's harder to pin that on Cindy Sheehan. A lot harder.

So she's become a spokesperson for a lot of people. Including a lot of those other mothers and fathers of dead soldiers for whom Jamieson seems to have so much sympathy -- the ones who don't have the luxury of spending the time and energy to force some kind of accountability from this president. She speaks for many thousands of them, even if not all of them.

She speaks for a lot of people who feel passionately about this war, that the killing must stop. No doubt, Robert Jamieson will have heard from a lot of them.

And just as night will follow day, Jamieson will produce, for his next column, a quaint piece -- based around the doubtless barrage of phone calls and e-mails he's received -- exposing just how nasty those people on the left could be. (If he expedites it to Michelle Malkin, she can use it as fodder for her next book.) So much for tolerance! And blah blah blah.

To which it is always useful to point out two things:

-- When judging, as a journalist, whether an extreme reaction to something you've produced has merit, it's always useful to weigh the source of the public ire. The right gets all worked up about blow jobs; the left about body counts. There's a difference there.

-- Sometimes, you get screamed at by ninnies because you've earned it.

That's something our Fearless Leader could stand to learn, too.