Several Things From the Sunday Sillies

137635764_edbedb6e7e A great day in the Sunday Newsies on TV:

– Chris Matthews, the man who knows everything about American politics (he says) posed the question of what the Vice President of the United States would have as his/her daily schedule if Hilary wins the oval office.  Matthews believes that with Bill back sleeping in the family quarters there will be nothing for a post-Cheney VP to do because Bill will be doing "all that."

This Mathewsian fancy pre-supposes that future presidents will find it necessary to give the VP anything at all to "do."  The VP is the president of the senate and his/her other duty is to wait to see if the president will die during their time in office.  Perhaps the odd funeral might be offered as something to fill the day.

As with a dead marja’ among the Shia, a departed president’s taqaliid (opinions) should die with the end of his/her term.  Some sort of handicraft might be a good pastime for the VP.  One could always try to write historical fiction.  I could offer advice on that.

– Admiral Mike McConnell (the Director of National Intelligence) appeared on "Meet the Press" to assure us that we do not "torture" our "guests."  When pressed he gave a definition of torture that left open many possibilities.  An absence of permanent physical injury seemed to be the central criterion in deciding if something may not be done in the name of the Republic.  He said several times that we "do not torture."  I suppose that Torquemada might have made a similar claim.  Hey!  I don’t know if we "torture."  I hope not.

McConnell was asked by Tim Russert to "square" an interview he had given a couple of years ago with his present status as a senior official of the Bush Administration.  In the interview he voiced opinions much like mine concerning the administration’s manipulation of the intelligence process before the war.  He did not deny those statements but he said that he now finds that Bush and Cheney are completely open to the opinions of the intelligence community.  The implication seems to be that maybe he "got it wrong" before.

I am sure he is right in finding that Bush and Cheney et al are no longer concerned with what the IC thinks.  They have developed ways of manipulating public opinion that are far more subtle and effective than any NIE could ever be.

– Finally, on McLaughlin’s Circus, Arianna Huffington opined that Bob Gates’ tears at a banquet in honor of a fallen USMC officer showed that he believes that "these men are dying in vain."  My God!.  What planet does she come from?  People cry on battlefields, old battlefields.  Go and look.  Gettysburg would be a good example.  I have seen them weep there.  She should go and look at the flowers laid on the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge or across the paws of the wolfhound at the Irish Brigade monument.   I doubt if the people who leave the flowers think that those men died in vain.  pl

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29 Responses to Several Things From the Sunday Sillies

  1. swerv21 says:

    whilst on the topic of sunday punditry, here are some choice cuts from todays ignatius on a yet another ‘new’ regional strategy. love to get your thoughts:
    -“pushing harder for negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and creating a standing “Iraq neighbors’ conference”
    briefly summarizing: shore up abbas, have the saudis host, establish the regional (concert) framework.
    here’s where i thought it got interesting:
    “The administration recognizes that Iran would be an essential part of any such regional conference. And Rice still seems hopeful that although the Iranians haven’t delivered any practical help yet in stabilizing Iraq, the long-term process of engagement is worth continuing. The basic agenda for the second U.S.-Iranian ambassadorial meeting, which was announced last week, will be similar to that for the first — setting ground rules for reducing violence in Iraq. The larger framework for the talks is the conviction that the United States and Iran have overlapping interests in Iraq. Rice seems, if anything, more convinced of those shared interests than she was six months ago.”

  2. john siscoe says:

    Ms. Huffington is not from another planet. Instead She is behaving in an all too human manner: interpreting the actions of others through the prism of her own beliefs. When the mind closes, it ceases to observe, and all things become clear. Would that this failing were Ms. Huffington’s alone! But it is the stock-in-trade of political “experts” of every persuasion. Yes, you were right to call her out on it, but the condition is pandemic.

  3. walrus says:

    There is “Torture” and “Torture” and methinks the Whitehouse and CIA are splitting hairs regarding the subject. It is quite simple to torture to the point of permanently destroying a persons sanity and leave no marks at all.
    If you visit the Tower of London, and visit the museum, you can see a simple device that does this.
    It’s called “Skeffington’s Gyves” or “The Scavanger” since it removes the last vestiges of sanity from a victim.
    It’s a simple metal bar about a yard long with four shackles on it. Victims ankles and wrists are shackled to it, holding the person in a tight fetal “stress position”.
    Within a few minutes, as the helpful description explains, the thigh muscles will begin to cramp, followed by the back and lower legs. This causes excruciating pain.
    The recommended treatment, according to the description,was about twelve hours, after which the victim may be released and, while having no permanent physical injuries, will have not a shred of sanity remaining.
    For further confirmation of the effectiveness of non invasive techniques, look on the web for the interrogation manual from the infamous “School of The Americas”. The most chilling part of its description of interrogation is the statement that a psychiatrist should be present if it is desired that the individual under interrogation should be returned to sanity afterwards.

  4. barbara feinberg says:

    I’d like to provide another take on the Huffington episode. The issue, for us civilians, is not that soldiers fail to cry, mourn, shriek: human responses; it’s that our leaders seems so callous, oblivious, heartless–“stuff happens.” That Gates seems to exhibit cooncern, even at a single individual’s level, is important for the rest of us. Weeping leaders provide no solutions through their tears alone; but we do need people who have a glimpse of the utter agony we have heedlessly inflicted.

  5. Chris Marlowe says:

    Visiting the US, I am amazed at how much the US government has become like China’s.
    China has Xinhua News Agency, which is officially called the organ of the Chinese Communist Party. Ask any Xinhua official and they will tell you that they are the “eyes, ears, mouth and voice of the Chinese Communist party”.
    Tony Snow, Tim Russert and Chris Mathews are the “eyes, ears, mouth and voice of the neoconservative wing of the Republican party” led by Karl Rove, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. There is absolutely no difference in the fact that one is employed by the White House ( and was formerly at Fox), while the other two are employed by NBC, which is owned by GE, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors.
    The past six years have been a grand experiment for the Vulcans, who have been testing the American people, nibbling away at the Constitution to see how much they can get away with. Before they were working on the margins, but now they are acting in direct conflict with the US constitution, concentrating legislative and executive powers in a way never seen before, not even during the Civil War and WWII.
    And how has congress reacted? Nothing. Aside from some useless complaints. I believe that is what the unnamed WH official meant when he said that “we are going to create one reality, and when you are examining that, we will create a new one to replace that, and so on and so forth down the line.”
    He was not talking about Al-Qaeda and the war on terror, he was talking about American domestic politics, with Americans as the target and the audience! Americans have been suckered big-time; and like the frog in the pot which is slowly being heated up, they have fallen asleep.
    The only thing that remains to be done is for something to “happen” to George W. Bush, and for Cheney to assume emergency powers in the war on terror. It would be the American version of the Reichstag fire.
    “2008 elections? What elections; we need to show determination in this war on terror! This was nothing the Founding Fathers envisaged; we need to suspend the constitution until Usama bin-Laden signs the surrender papers on the deck of the Missouri!”
    It was a nice republic while it lasted…

  6. seenthemoviebefore says:

    If Adm. McConnell was unable to tell us lowly citizens that the administration he works for has turned it’s back on the traditions of our fathers, i.e., the Geneva Convention definition of torture, what confidence are we to have in him when he tells us he speaks truth to power? Incidentally, shouldn’t someone who has spent 40 years in the IC know using extraordinary means does not yield accurate intelligence?

  7. taters says:

    Col. Lang,
    Nice wrap up of the newsies.
    So Ms. Huffington has the ability to read what’s on someone’s heart and mind…
    those powers apparently weren’t yet developed with the ex.

  8. Kirk says:

    I just finished reading “Guests of the Ayatollah”. It describes the treatment of the hostages during the Iranian hostage crisis. There is no doubt in my mind that they were subjected to torture. Yet, none had the permanent physical injuries that are, apparently, now required to meet the definition of “torture”.
    The other thing that impressed me was that after about a year and a half the “students” determined that they were hurting the Iranian position in the world. We have failed to figure that out after holding prisoners at Gitmo for a number of years.

  9. Bobo says:

    Why not invite Ms. Huffington for stoll through the Vietnam Memorial Wall. She is of the right age. If she makes it through the gauntlet without shedding a tear I’ll never listen to her again. Its a stroll I have never been able to finish, not sure if its the anger or the guilt but its powerful.
    Bob Gates was just demonstrating the emotion of a normal human being.

  10. lina says:

    1. C Marlowe: I have no love for Chris Matthews, but he has been a vocal critic of the neocons and their war from day one.
    2. “They have developed ways of manipulating public opinion that are far more subtle and effective than any NIE could ever be.” Truer words were never spoken.
    3. Sometimes soldiers do die in vain, or in other words, for someone else’s vanity.

  11. Montag says:

    Cheney needs Bush to hide his evil behind a human face. When Bush blurts out something ghastly it’s interpreted as an amusing malaprop, but when Cheney says it you know he’s as serious as a heart attack. When an American journalist wrote a book about Mussolini’s Fascism he called it, “Spurs On The Boot”–which is certainly what Cheney has in mind.

  12. Chris Marlowe says:

    Come to think of it, there is a difference between the Bush/Cheney administration and the Chinese Communist Party.
    When food and drug quality issues in China became so serious that the people became angry at the government, the minister-level official who was in charge of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA was swiftly tried and shot. Most Chinese applauded the government decision to execute him.
    In contrast, an architect of a failed American occupation, Donald Rumsfeld, was consistently praised by Bush/Cheney, even though there can be no doubt that his policy decisions led to the deaths of several thousand American military, not to mention Iraqi citizens.
    Based on this, it is possible to build the argument the Chinese government cares more about what Chinese citizens think of their government than the Bush/Cheney administration care about what Americans think. Does this mean that American lives are cheaper than Chinese lives? Actions seem to suggest so.
    Very interesting indeed…

  13. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The “surge” in U.S. troops in Iraq has resulted in an increase in patients passing through this base….Since 2003, the facility has received 43,807 patients from Afghanistan and Iraq. Of those, 9,548 had battle injuries. Airmen have conducted nearly 70,000 patient movements.”

  14. jonst says:

    Perhaps its a generational thing..or perhaps it is personal aesthetics but I was never big on weepy public officials. Nor have I ever been big on the public memorial inducing tears. And yes, I have walked through the Vietnam Veteran’s Monument in DC. Didn’t do a lot for me with regard to guilt or anger or tears. Which should not be mistaken for thinking that I lack both emotions. But they don’t get turned on or off by simple (or, complex, for that matter) stone. But in private, I have been reduced to tears by simply thinking of funny moment I experienced with another Marine, now long gone. But public tears…nah. I would prefer that Gates was spending more of his emotional energy getting us out of the mess we are. Then maybe he can find the time for tears. But that is my take alone. Of course.

  15. Martin K says:

    Sir, while I didnt see Huffingtons live-performance, over at Huffingtonpost she puts it somewhat different, pointing out that Gates emotion is a clear break with the president jocular approach to the whole war.
    I quote: “Gate’s emotional tribute isn’t going to end this war, but it was remarkable to finally see a high-level administration official “off message” — breaking with the party line and movingly acknowledging the real costs of this war. Thank you for your tribute to Major Zembiec, Secretary Gates, and for not being “good humored” about this war.”
    On another topic, Im still not understanding how the the white house can refuse the army contigency planning-options. It sounds like engineers being refused to calculate metallic stress in a construction.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The people who imprisoned the diplomatic staff of the US Embassy in Tehran were not professional soldiers, police officers, members of the Iranian Armed Forces.
    They were civilians that had neither discipline nor training; i.e. they were not an organized force in which clear lines of authority with procedures & rules had been established and enforced.
    That condition does not obtain for US Armerd Forces. They cannot plead lack of discipline, training, and education.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Chris Marlowe:
    Chinese Government, like all the Oriental States, only cares about the population from an instrumentalist point of view; it is the group (body politic) that counts for them and not the individual cell (the single human being).
    While I personally support the death penalty for violent crimes against persons, I can never condone the death penalty for other crimes – including economic crimes and corruption.
    Chinese are morally wrong to execute corrupt officials.

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Martin K
    I DID see Huffington and heard her speak. I have recounted exactly what she said. She can try to weasel out of her words now but that is what she said.
    As for the issue of contingency planning, you don’t understand or accept the concept that American military forces are COMMANDED by elected or senatorially confirmed CIVILIAN officials. The US military does whatever it is ordered to do by duly constituted constitutional authority and it is on a very short leash.
    An age in which George Marshall and Ernest King were given broad authority by Roosevelt to fight WW2 as they saw fit is long, long past. pl

  19. Chris Marlowe says:

    While I respect your views, I find your broad usage of the term “Orientalist” borderline offensive, especially as China, and all other parts of the world for that matter, are changing at an accelerated pace. Sure, a lot of the things you put into the “Orientalist” basket may continue unchanged into the future, but I would put much more weight into that view if you in fact lived in that part of the world and spoke one of the languages.
    As for being against the death penalty, I feel the same way. But I would have a very hard time explaining that POV to someone who lost a love one because of taineted drugs. That is just the same as I would have a hard time arguing against the war with an American who lost their son/daughter/spouse in Iraq.

  20. Will says:

    “Scavenger’s daughter
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (Redirected from Skeffington’s Gyves)
    ’s daughter
    Scavenger’s daughter
    The Scavenger’s daughter was a type of torture device.
    It was invented as an instrument of torture in the reign of Henry VIII by Leonard Skevington (also known as Leonard Skeffington), Lieutenant of the Tower of London. It was an A-frame shaped metal rack to which the head was strapped to the top point of the A, the hands at the mid-point and the legs at the lower spread ends; swinging the head down and forcing the knees up in a sitting position so compressed the body as to force the blood from the nose and ears.
    The Scavenger’s Daughter was conceived as the perfect complement to the Duke of Exeter’s Daughter (the rack) because it worked the opposite principle to the rack by compressing the body rather than stretching it.
    The Scavenger’s Daughter is rarely mentioned in the documents and the device itself was probably not much used. The best-documented use is that on the Irishman Thomas Miagh, charged with being in contact with rebels in Ireland. It may be in connection with Scavenger’s Daughter that Miagh carved on the wall of the Beauchamp Tower in the Tower of London, “By torture straynge my truth was tried, yet of my libertie denied. 1581. Thomas Miagh.”
    It is also known as Skevington’s gyves, as iron shackle, as the Stork (as in Italian cicogna) or as Spanish A-frame. Further it is known as Skevington’s daughter, from which the more commonly known folk etymology using “Scavenger” is derived. There is a Scavenger’s daughter on display in the Tower of London museum”

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Chris Marlowe:
    I did not use the word “Orientalist”, I used the word “Oriental”.

  22. Annie Burns says:

    Huffington “Issue”: The underlying discussion referred to the isolation of GWB from the results of his war policy. That is, there is no coverage of returning war dead, he doesn’t attend funerals of fallen soldiers or marines. As opposed to the humane reaction of current Sec of Defense. The right wing nuts on the panel did their best to shout her down. She has/had a valid point.

  23. ExBrit says:

    When food and drug quality issues in China became so serious that the people became angry at the government, the minister-level official who was in charge of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA was swiftly tried and shot. Most Chinese applauded the government decision to execute him.
    Perhaps the Chinese people became angry with the head of their FDA, but that’s not why he was tried and executed. He was tried and executed to show the rest of the world that the Chinese government takes food contamination seriously. If confidence in Chinese exports drops China will have real problems on their hands. They can’t afford to have this happen, so they took swift action. Everyone was looking at the potential damage to their economy. Popular demand for justice probably didn’t play a role. It was strictly for foreign consumption.

  24. Martin K says:

    Sir, forgive my ignorance and naivity, but on the subject of contigency-planning I still have a rather big problem coping with what you tell me, so let me see if I get this straight. You are telling me that the US military forces are commanded by civilian elected or appointed politicans, down to the micro-managing level of contigency planning, right? Isnt this the recipe of Stalingrad, forbidding military commanders to consider all options? And do you have no security-checks, no quality control against, lets say, a senile demente president suddenly getting delusional and decide to bomb Canada? (The recent bombing of Somalia shows that it doesnt seem necessary anymore for any Senatorial/Congressional approval prior to engaging a nation).
    Forgive me for asking what to you is a idiot question, but for me as non-US citizen, this is truly frightening. I have for a while now tried to understand what happened in the transition-phase from the initial invasion plan (wich postulated that the US should have about 5000 troops in Iraq at this point) to the Bremer/neocon plan of experimental nationbuilding wich clicked into place when it became obvious that Chalabi was a fraud. As a former student of history, this transition from plan A to plan B seems to lie at the heart of the problems the US has encountered in Iraq, and I would dearly like to have someone tell me in technical detail how the machinations of this transition played out. How did Rumsfeldt “hijack” the phase 4 of the operation? Where was the intelligence oversight comitee? How did the Joint Chiefs of Staff deal with this seeming doubleplay? How far in advance was the Bremer-experiment planned, and how much of this was revealed to the JCS? Somewhere in this area I think a great dog lies buried, and what you tell me about civilians being able to command down to a level of being able to deny contigency-planning for politically unacceptable outcomes fits right into the overall picture.
    A friend of mine is serving in Kabul, they lost their first man yesterday, so the conduct of this war is truly relevant to more than just the US public.

  25. mlaw230 says:
    Apparently, members of the Congressional Over-sight Committee are not even permitted acces to the Executive Order regarding continuity plans.
    This could be over zealous security people, or could mean that the rising murmurs about false flag operations and conspiracies have some merit.
    Reluctantly, impeachment is looking more and more attractive.

  26. Homer says:

    RE: Huffington, `dying in vain’
    To be clear, for what just cause are people dying for in Iraq?
    From where I sit, people are dying and being mutilated in Iraq so that GWB can save face.
    From where I sit, people are dying and being mutilated in Iraq for the sake of a small group of men who have fought their adult lives to transform Iraq into an Islamic state (Al Sadr, Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim, Bayan Jabr, Hamid Al Bayati, et al).
    From where I sit, people are dying and being mutilated in Iraq for the sake of a government that will never be a loyal ally to the US in anyway whatsoever.

  27. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Here, on the Potomac, we are not living in the idealized “form” of government that Mr. Jefferson hoped for.
    We are living in the Constantinople in which Belisarius and Narses has to make their way. pl

  28. J. Michael Hammer says:

    Constantinople be damned! My bet’s on the republic, and I’m betting your’s is too..

  29. Montag says:

    We can only hope that OUR Belisarius refuses to obey orders to reprise the Hippodrome massacre of some 30,000 Nika rebels in Constantinople. Perhaps Cheney will try to stiffen Bush’s resolve by telling him that the Imperial purple will make an excellent funeral shroud. But Bush will respond by resigning, telling Cheney, “That purple shroud is all yours, Dick. You’re the one they’re really after anyway.”

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