Posts Tagged ‘Sean Hannity’

Brent Bozell Deliberately Misleads His Readers!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Brent Bozell:

I have said many times that the greatest opposition to the Left can be found in conservative talk radio and every major conservative talk show host should concern himself, or herself, with what inevitably will be ferocious personal attacks…

It was only a matter of time before Sean Hannity would find himself with a big, fat target on his forehead, too. Now that he is set to launch his new book, Conservative Victory, the left is going out of its way to smear him

It’s time for conservatives to rally around this man. He is being attacked personally not just because he’s trying to do something good for our military, but because he’s got a message to tell America in this book, and the Left wants him stopped — by any means necessary. We cannot allow them to succeed with this campaign of character assassination. [my emphases]

I was curious as to what Hannity had been accused of – and Bozell didn’t think that either explaining that or providing a link to that would be relevant. He did include a link to a refutation of the charges which did link to the source of these allegations – namely that Sean Hannity “improperly benefited from [the charity] Freedom Alliance by charging private jets, hotel stays and luxury cars” and that the charity provided few benefits to the groups it was supposed to be benefiting, apparently children of fallen soldiers and injured soldiers.

Damn leftists, hating on soldiers!

But lo and behold the accuser is one Debbie Schlussel, “Conservative political commentator, radio talk show host, columnist, and attorney.” A few isolated blog posts on the left have discussed this issue. Following the links provided by Bozell and other conservatives blaming the left for this, I found a 2006 NewHounds story criticizing the charity but not alleging any illegality, a Daily Kos story from 2007, a user post in True Slant from last week reporting on and evaluating Schlussel’s claims, and a Huffington Post news story documenting Schlussel’s allegations, a veterans’ group’s allegations regarding marketing practices of the charity, and a liberal watchdog’s allegations regarding the charity.

The substance of the liberal complaints seems to be that the organization promoted concerts saying “100%” of donations made to a scholarship fund would go to scholarships – but that they ask the donations be made to the broader organization, leaving a much smaller amount of money going to the scholarship fund than the advertisements suggest. These allegations were made some years ago.

Then Schlussel found them on her own and added a few allegations about impropriety by Sean Hannity – prompting a few liberal groups to make complaints.

In other words: A conservative attacked Sean Hannity and accused him of specific malfeasance. Some liberal groups have complaints about the organization’s marketing brought to light by the conservative’s complaints. Bozell asks his readers to rally against the left in defense of Sean Hannity.

In Bozell’s defense, misleading his readers is probably easier (and more effective) than trying to explain the issues and evaluate what’s going on, as this is how our politics now works: building coalitions based on ressentiment.

N.B. I sent a message to Bozell asking him for a comment – but he gave none.

Framing the Torture Debate

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

This isn’t a definitive timeline of the debate over torture in America. These are merely some highlights.

On September 11, 2001 we were attacked by militant islamists as they took advantage of the openness of our society and our technology and committed one of the most foul atrocities in history.

By September 12, 2001, everything had changed for those in power – and for many of us – “The sense of danger in the White House was urgent, palpable.” An associate of Condi Rice explained:

We really thought we were going to be attacked – possibly chemical, biological, even nuclear, the potential that they could blow up entire American cities…And then CIA came and said, ‘You know, this is the only way to question these people. Our experts say this is the only program that will work.’ And Justice said that the [Geneva Conventions] didn’t apply…and that the agency program did comply with the torture statute.

Others in the White House described a feeling of panic imbuing all their actions.

On September 16, 2001Dick Cheney appeared on Meet the Press:

I think the important thing here, Tim, is for people to understand that, you know, things have changed since last Tuesday…We…have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

On August 1, 2002, what becomes known as the Bybee torture memo, written apparently by his deputy John Yoo, re-defines torture as physical pain:

equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.

It is not known if all of the techniques justified using this legal shield have been made public – but a partial list includes:

  • Suffocation by water (waterboarding, or traditionally, the water torture);
  • Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head…
  • Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees’ neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall…
  • Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face…
  • Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement…
  • Prolonged nudity…this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months…
  • Sleep deprivation…through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noises or music…
  • Exposure to cold temperature…especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and…use of cold water poured over the body or…held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of water.
  • Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet…
  • Threats of ill-treatment, to the detainee and/or his family…
  • Forced shaving of the head and beard…
  • Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest…

Sometime in 2002John Ashcroft exclaims during a meeting of the cabinet-level officials going over the details of how detainees are being interrogated:

History will not judge this kindly.

Donald Rumsfeld writes on 2002 memo describing interrogation techniques:

I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?

Rumsfeld presumably stood at a desk, using it for support and moved around – a very different experience than “forced standing,” a former Communist torture technique which can result in physical effects which Red Cross reports described in detainees:

After 18 to 24 hours of continuous standing, there is an accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the legs. This dependent edema is produced by the extravasation of fluid from the blood vessels. The ankles and feet of the prisoner swell to twice their normal circumference. The edema may rise up the legs as high as the middle of the thighs. The skin becomes tense and intensely painful. Large blisters develop, which break and exude watery serum….

Beginning in 2004, photographs from the Abu Ghraib scandal surface:

Christopher Hitchens – after publicaly calling waterboarding and the other interrogation methods used merely “extreme interrogation” and not “outright torture” – accepts a challenge to undergo it himself. He comes away a changed man:

Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict…

[I]f waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

Deroy Murdok writes in the National Review:

Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud.

 

Former CIA operative Barry Eisler:

[T]orture is also an excellent way to get the subject to confess to anything at all, which is why it was a wonderful tool for the Spanish Inquisition and for the secret police of assorted totalitarian regimes. But if the goal is to produce accurate, actionable intelligence, torture is madness… To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, torture is worse than immoral: it’s tactically stupid. It produces false confessions, which can be used to confirm mistaken suspicions and even outright policy fantasies; it instills an insatiable thirst for vengeance in most people who are subjected to it, and so creates new, dedicated enemies; it permanently brutalizes its practitioners; and it cuts us off from intelligence from the local populace because so many people will refuse to inform on someone if they fear he’ll be tortured.

On October 15, 2004, Justice John Stevens wrote:

For if this nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny.

On June 14, 2005, Senator Dick Durbin gave a controversial speech in which he read from an FBI report of detainee interrogations:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners

Malcolm Nance, a former SERE interrogator explained that Senator Dick Durbin was right:

Now, at long last, six years of denials can now be swept aside, and we can say definitively: America engaged in torture and legalized it through paperwork.

Despite all the gyrations – the ducking, dodging and hiding from the facts – there is no way to say that these people were not authorizing torture. Worse yet, they seem to have not cared a wit that these techniques came from the actual manuals of communist, fascist and totalitarian torturers.

On September 28, 2005, Captain Ian Fishback wrote a letter to Senator John McCain:

…the most important question that this generation will answer [is] Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession.I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is “America.

On November 4, 2005, Senator John McCain explained his opposition to torture:

I have said it before but it bears repeating: The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don’t deserve our sympathy. But this isn’t about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies, and we can never, never allow our enemies to take those values away.

On January 19, 2009Dick Cheney explained to the Weekly Standard

I think on the left wing of the Democratic party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured…

On January 14, 2009, Bob Woodward interviewed the top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial in the Washington Post:

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.

On January 22, 2009, a day after taking office, Barack Obama said:

I can say without exception or equivocation that the United States will not torture.

In April 2009, Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books:

[T]he political logic is insidious and, in the aftermath of a future attack, might well prove compelling…

The only way to defuse the political volatility of torture and to remove it from the center of the “politics of fear” is to replace its lingering mystique, owed mostly to secrecy, with authoritative and convincing information about how it was really used and what it really achieved.

On April 20, 2009, Dick Cheney told Sean Hannity:

I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions.

In spring 2008, Eric Holder explained:

We owe the American people a reckoning.

On March 18, 2008 Dawn Johnsen, who has been appointed to head Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel which was responsible for the legal opinions cited above wrote in in Slate:

We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.

On April 19, 2009, Peggy Noonan on This Week With George Stephanopoulos:

Some things in life need to be mysterious … Sometimes you need to just keep walking.

(All emphases within quotations are my own.)

This is where we stand today – thanks to the courage of heroes within the Bush administration and the military who stood for American values in a time of crisis and against preemptive surrender of our way of life and thanks to the courage of journalists from Mark Danner to Andrew Sullivan to Glenn Greenwald to Dana Priest to Jane Mayer who exposed these secret actions.

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The Last Hillary 2008 Supporters: A Journey Into the Surreal World of the PUMAs

Monday, July 7th, 2008

A puma, like the PUMAs
[Photo by victor+.]
Every once in a while, I try to check out that hidden corner of the blogosphere where Hillary Clinton supporters still live.

Over the course of the Democratic nomination, most of the online energy went to Barack Obama, Ron Paul, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel. The conservative opinionsphere jumped from Giuliani to Romney to, finally, reluctactly, McCain. The liberal opionsphere seemed to weigh the pros and cons of Edwards and Obama for some time, finally coming down decisively with Obama after Iowa. Hillary Clinton, in all of this, had few web proxies.

There were some – like MyDD and Taylor Marsh – but eventually, after the stalemate of February 5th and the string of twelve consecutive wins by Obama, a new mini-opinionsphere grew out of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mainly, they were women who had taken every slight against Hillary as a personal insult; some just had a deep and abiding distrust of Barack Obama, for whatever reason. What was most perplexing to me is that this movement finally bloomed the moment Obama had taken an insurmountable lead. Despite the win in Ohio and half of the Texas two-step, and the win later in Pennsylvania, Obama never fell behind after his string of victories in February, and never even came close. And any clear-eyed analyst could see from that point that the nomination was Obama’s to lose.

But a certain segment of Hillary supporters found strength and popularity in denying the inevitable, in railing against reality.

Given the way this movement was born, it is unsurprising that small things – like Barack Obama’s mathematical clinching of the nomination or Hillary Clinton’s concession endorsement of Obama (a commentor pointed out that Hillary has yet to use the word “concede”) – would stop it. These PUMAs (Party Unity, My Ass) – as the acronym-prone, former Hillary supporter, and now die-hard anti-Obama activists now call themselves – continue to this day. Some of them, like Larry Johnson, play on fears, racial stereotypes and resentments and do their best Sean Hannity impressions. Others seem to be working full-time creating new acronyms, groups, and catchphrases. The newest and coolest catchphrase is “NObama, NOvember.”

Oddly, the arguments that are made tend to go like this:

  • Obama cannot win in November, which is why we need Hillary to be the nominee;
  • Let’s work hard to make sure Obama doesn’t win in November.

I have yet to see any acknowledgment from the PUMAs that Obama has won the Democratic nomination – and Hillary conceded it – unless you count the continuous references to stolen elections and the end of democracy as we know it. The closest I saw to an acknowledgment of Obama’s historic victory was at HillBuzz where – after suggesting that “we” would have to vote for Newt Gingrich over Obama – she wrote:

So, in the fall, barring a surprise Clinton re-entry into the race, it’s McCain over Obama for us.

In this world, there still is a chance for a surprise Hillary re-entry! Befitting the surreal world in which these blogs exist, many are still convinced that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, if only she is given a chance.

A group called The Denver Group has been formed to take action regarding the Democratic Convention in Denver with two of it’s primary goals listed as:

  • Speeches allowed by supporters of Senator Clinton on behalf of her candidacy.
  • A genuine roll call vote with Senator Clinton as a legitimate candidate. [Emphasis aded.]

In her personal blog, Heidi Li, one of the founders of The Denver Group writes, speculates on recent news:

As Senator Obama looses support, he may well be more and more afraid that if Senator Clinton’s name is put in nomination at the Democratic Party’s convention, then Senator Clinton might actually win the nomination.

It is unclear what Ms. Li means by Obama’s loss of support – as most recent polls show him leading John McCain by significant margins. But items like these aren’t acknowledged in PUMA-land.

HillBuzz tries to explain how her fellow Hillary devotees are feeling, and what is motivating them to oppose Obama so strongly:

Our loyalty is to Hillary Clinton, personally, because we believe in her and her goals. We are no longer to the Democratic Party, because we stopped believing in it on May 31st. Whoever came up with the idea to steal 4 of Clinton’s delegates in Michigan and give them to Obama is responsible for this – you can thank that person in November…

We’re hard pressed to think of anyone Obama could run against that would force us to choose him over the opponent. At this point, after the way Obama’s campaign has treated us, and continues to treat us, we’d vote for Gingrich over Obama. And he divorced his wife while she was dying of cancer. But, we trust Gingrich to protect this country and respect its values and traditions…

So, in the fall, barring a surprise Clinton re-entry into the race, it’s McCain over Obama for us. [My emphasis added.]

It’s worth pointing out that the writer of this piece only refers to two non-self-referencing facts: Newt Gingrich’s tawdry personal life and the May 31 compromise that split the Michigan vote. There is no talk of policy; there is no discussion of what an Obama or McCain administration would look like. Instead, the writer is trying to make two points:

  • Obama didn’t treat “us” well – a highly dubious point on it’s own;
  • And “we” will vote for anyone except Obama to punish him.

An ancillary reason to trust Gingrich and to not trust Obama is that we need a president who will “protect this country and respect its values and traditions.” I’m sure elsewhere in the PUMA opinionsphere someone has listed the reasons why Obama doesn’t want to protect his country and doesn’t respect it’s values and traditions.

Balancing out this vision of Hillary as messiah is a visceral hatred of Barack Obama, as demonstrated in this oft-repeated phrase:

Obama simply cannot be trusted. Obama cannot be trusted on any issue. Obama cannot be trusted by his friends. Obama cannot be trusted by his enemies. Obama cannot be trusted.

This Hillaryis44 post repeats this same phrase three times and Larry Johnson and many other PUMAs have taken it us as a slogan to go alongside NObama, NOvember.

PUMAs and Projections

The John Birch Society so feared the efficacy of Communist subversives, that they created a secret society that mimicked the imagined Communist subversive threat. Republicans believed that CNN was a far left organization pushing the Democratic agenda under the guise of objectivity – so they created Fox News to take on the same role for the Republican party. American history is replete with examples of groups who deliberately mimic their enemy’s imagined tactics.

The movement that grew out of Hillary Clinton’s losses proves to be yet another example of this trend in American history. The PUMAs (Party Unity, My Ass) seem to have embraced the (real and imagined) aspects of the Obama campaign that led them to reject Obama’s candidacy:

  • They explicitly see Hillary Clinton as a messianic figure, the only one who can save the Democratic party. (See above.)
  • They deliberately disrespect and attack those demographic groups that did not support Hillary in the primaries. (Remember when Hillary was introduced by a man attacking “the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear [Obama] speak!”)
  • They have adopted the right wing talking points used to attack Obama. (This might be unfair, as it could have been Hillary surrogates themselves who gave the right wingers like Sean Hannity these talking points – so while Obama supporters did adopt certain right-wing talking points about Hillary to use against her, Hillary supporters may have invented the talking points against Obama and given them to the right-wing.)
  • Although they started out defending the role of superdelegates as those people who have the best interests of the Democratic party at heart, they now attack them for being un-democratic (and un-Democratic) – which is something Obama surrogates never came close to doing, but Clinton supporters constantly accused them of doing.
  • Many – though not all PUMAs – have resorted to race-baiting and gender-card-playing, at least on occasion. (The constant rumors of a Michelle Obama ‘Whitey’ video come from one of the founding PUMAs.)
  • They take umbrage at the smallest slight and impute near evil motives on every move that Barack Obama takes. (Which to be fair, is something some of Obama’s supporters did do – Andrew Sullivan for example.)

The key lesson I take away from this journey into the alternate reality that the PUMAs live in is this: they are a force to be reckoned with and a force that will remain in politics for some years – at least as long as Barack Obama is in the national political arena. To paraphrase Michelle Goldberg’s excellent piece in The New Republic exploring the crisis in the women’s movement that Hillary’s campaign created, the psychic wound irritated in this hard-fought primary is not Obama’s fault, but it is his problem.

Obama has already taken steps to woo Hillary Clinton’s supporters – and he will win most of the 18 million over to his side. Within those big Democratic states that Hillary Clinton won in the primary, Obama now has a sizeable lead over McCain (and in many, he also had a large lead over Hillary before the primaries ended). But there are some – and they are organized, they are angry, and they are wealthy – who will continue to fight until past the end. And there are many others who will be sympathetic – remembering how Hillary’s campaign made them feel.

If Barack Obama is elected in 2008, expect to see a PUMA or two sneak into Congress. And expect a few Congresswomen and Senators to ally with them. Hillary herself will keep her distance.

Unless Obama is able to somehow heal this particular psychic wound, the PUMAs will continue to cause him problems. It’s hard to say what impact these PUMAs will have. But if it is true that all it takes to change the world is a small group of dedicated people, then the PUMAs will be able to have an impact – as they are small in number and large in dedication.

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