they could understand each other perfectly, for they all spoke the lizard language


Libby Filing: A Denial and a Mystery

Defense attorneys for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said in a court filing late Wednesday that the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney doesn't remember a conversation he had with a State Department official in June 2003 in which the official told Libby that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA.

But the conversation did take place, according to current and former administration officials and attorneys who have remained close to the two-year-old CIA leak probe. At least a half-dozen witnesses who testified before a grand jury over the past two years said that they were at the meeting when Marc Grossman, the former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, told Libby that Plame Wilson worked for the CIA, according to attorneys and US officials close to the two-year-old CIA leak probe. Grossman also told Libby that Plame Wilson got the CIA to send her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, on a fact-finding trip to Niger in February 2002 to check out reports that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from the African country. Wilson took the trip and reported back to the CIA in March that he found no evidence that Iraq tried to acquire uranium.

"It's not just Mr. Grossman's word against Mr. Libby's," said one former State Department official knowledgeable about the substance of the conversation between Grossman and Libby. "There were other people present at the meeting at the time when Mr. Grossman provided Mr. Libby with details about Ms. Plame's employment with the agency. There is an abundance of evidence Mr. Fitzgerald has that will prove this."

It should be assumed that as cautious and methodical as Fitzgerald has been he would have some solid evidence both in terms of witnesses and documentation that lays out what was said and when.

E-Mails Tie Former GSA Official to Abramoff

Federal prosecutors last night released hundreds of e-mails documenting the business and personal ties between former White House aide David H. Safavian, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and a network of congressional representatives and staffers.

Within days after becoming chief of staff at the General Services Administration, for example, Safavian began discussions of government property opportunities with Abramoff. In other e-mails, Abramoff suggested that then-GSA Administrator Steve Perry join them on a $130,000 golfing trip to Scotland.

I saw this article as it broke yesterday and it didn't take long for the righties to sieze on it, The Left, Online and Outraged. I call this this chit chat school of journalism and while I might get a smile out of it if it was about the vitiolic right I would tend to regard it as not very consequential. The thing is I would be wrong. I want the the field of political debate to be about important issues, but frequently it is reduced to these careless character snapshots. Mistaking caricature and generalization for journalism

The tactics in the article are as intellectually lazy and empty as they are transparently deceitful and trite. There is no cheaper or emptier form of argumentation than to isolate a specific individual, describe her, and then, without any basis, ascribe those attributes generally to some larger group — in this case, a much, much larger and more diverse group — of which she is ostensibly a part. Anyone who has even minimal exposure to "the blogosphere" knows that it is insusceptible to the sort of sweeping generalization oozing from every misleading paragraph in this article.

It is difficult to assign motives to people without benefit of esp, you're left putting together pieces of evidence, what was said or done, motives stated (Finkel hilariously said that he "didn't have in mind any angle." But "[h]e did have a phrase weaving in and out of his mind: 'The Angry Left.'") , and what could have been said, but wasn't. Has Finkel ever visited lsf, free republic, protein wisdom, or a couple of dozen right-wing sites who's unhinged vitriol flows like a broken dam guring a flood. There are degrees of anger and while I wish that some of those that are at least marginally on my side would keep things to a simmer rather then a boil, in general terms the center-left is the pennacle of calm rational debate compared to the right. Though to really understand this ground we need to step outside the anger framing and cover an odd phenomenon that is a combination of feigned civility and suppressed rage. It is a deeply dishonest argument to only categorize disturbing behavior solely in terms of anger, just remember the Max Cady/Danielle Bowden scene from Cape Fear, Norman Bates, or Evelyn Draper in Clint Eastwood's Play Misty for Me. Cady, Bates, and Draper were capable of appearing sane, rational, and even charming, but obviously they were not. I'm not giving this right-wing zealot a link, I pulled this off an on-line aggregator,

Betsy's Page:
If you're at all like me, you just don't have time in your day to check out the lefty blogosphere. I can see what they're talking about through various aggregratfors and by what the MSM chooses to focus on without having to wade through all that venom and Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Finkel, coincidently or not has tapped into one of the right's favorite tactics of the last six years, a tactic that that has festered out of the right's deply rooted psychological projections, to portray the center-left as angry and incoherent. Betsy is thus reassured, without benefit of actually researching the issues, reading the essays, or going through any careful step by step philosophical breakdown of liberalism, that liberalism is anything and everything she finds objectionable in America. Ironically as part of a group that lays sole claim to patriotism she'll never have to face the fact that the entire concept of democracy is the jewel of liberal political thought. Conservatives from the early sixties until today have made no contributions of note to democracy; on the contrary they have weakened it, they have used democracy the way a pickpocket uses a trusting tourist, they have taken what they wanted when they wanted it and said damn the consequences. From Betsy's echo chamber again,

I think that this venomous, over-the-top quality of the lefty blogosphere is a bonus for conservatives. They can talk amongst themselves and agree with each other that Bush, Cheney, and Rove are demons coughed up by Satan to torment the world, but they aren't going to win converts to their beliefs with such talk. They'll just reinforce each other in their beliefs and deceive themselves on how widespread the repulsion against this administration is. People might not approve of Bush, but the great majority don't despise him. That's what shocked them when they couldn't defeat this smirking Bushhitler chimp in 2004. And, guess what, he's not on the ticket again.

I'm not sure what half of this means. It does have that calm repressed rage of Evelyn Draper. I have to confess I've called Bush bunnypants, but I've never called him "Bushhitler". Betsy is kind enough to recommend some reading material by another member of the Norman Bates school of political framing, Michelle Malkin who was problematically rational and reasonable when she wrote, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, not as cowardly as Ann Coulter's Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism , both of these bombastic invectives we're to assume are descinded from the refined intellectual heights of political discourse to which liberals could never attain. Pardon me if I pass on the kool-aid there Betsy, Michelle, and Ann, or shall we say The Evelyn Drapers of the Right, unhinged, rabid, vicious, cold, phoney, character assassination, vitriol, lies, and half truths are the stock and trade of the right, without these essential ingredients, well, you'd be liberals.
See Ezra Klein for Angry for a Reason and hilzoy for other subjects that Finkel could have written about center-left blogs, Oh, Please.

Lastly, A Bad Leak

President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he "wanted people to see the truth" about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush's actions in this case, or his overall record.

Mr. Bush did not declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — in any accepted sense of that word — when he authorized I. Lewis Libby Jr., through Vice President Dick Cheney, to talk about it with reporters. He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report. The declassification came later.

And this president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress. Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret.

Obviously, we do not object to government officials talking to reporters about important matters that their bosses do not want discussed. It would be impossible to cover any administration, especially one so secretive as this, unless that happened. (Judith Miller, who then worked for The Times, was one of the reporters Mr. Libby chose for this leak, although she never wrote about it.) But the version of the facts that Mr. Libby was authorized to divulge was so distorted that it seems more like disinformation than any sincere attempt to inform the public.

SEVERAL large lizards were running quickly into the cleft of an old tree; they could understand each other perfectly, for they all spoke the lizard language.

“What a noise there is in the old Elfin mound!” said one of the Lizards. “What a rumbling and uproar! For two nights I have not been able to close my eyes, and might just as well have had a toothache, for then I certainly should not have slept.”

“There is a something going on there,” said the other Lizard. “They let the mound stand on four red poles till the crowing of the cock, to have it thoroughly aired; and the Elfin damsels have learnt new dances, in which there is some stamping. A something is going on, I’m sure.

from The Elfin Mound by Hans Christian Andersen