Torture Architect John Yoo Gets Monthly Column in Philly Inquirer

by matttbastard

Clicky-clicky the image for more

Um, wha?

John Yoo has written freelance commentaries for The Inquirer since 2005, however he entered into a contract to write a monthly column in late 2008. I won’t discuss the compensation of anyone who writes for us. Of course, we know more about Mr. Yoo’s actions in the Justice Department now than we did at the time we contracted him. But we did not blindly enter into our agreement. He’s a Philadelphian, and very knowledgeable about the legal subjects he discusses in his commentaries. Our readers have been able to get directly from Mr. Yoo his thoughts on a number of subjects concerning law and the courts, including measures taken by the White House post-9/11. That has promoted further discourse, which is the objective of newspaper commentary.

Will Bunch nails it:

No personal disrespect toward Harold Jackson (a well-regarded colleague with whom I’ve crossed career paths in two far-flung cities, with many mutual friends) but I could not disagree more. None of this is a good enough justification for awarding a column to America’s top defender of such a serious human rights violation as torture — certainly not the fact that he’s now a celebrated Philadelphian (so is disgraced state Sen. Vince Fumo, who could be handed a political column based on this kind of rationale). Sure, his warped viewpoint that the president of our once-proud democracy can assume virtually dictatorial powers is controversial enough to “promote further discourse” (so did George Will’s recent blatantly misleading column on climate change) but that alone hardly makes something worth publishing.

But while promoting public discourse is a goal of newspaper commentary, it should not be the main objective. The higher calling for an American newspaper should be promoting and maintaining our sometimes fragile democracy, the very thing that Yoo and his band of torture advocates very nearly shredded in a few short years. Quite simply, by handing Yoo a regularly scheduled platform for his viewpoint, the Inquirer is telling its readers that Yoo’s ideas — especially that torture is not a crime against the very essence of America — are acceptable.

Hmm, I wonder if Charles Manson is too busy carving swastikas into his forehead to phone in 500 words a month, too? In the interest of “promoting further discourse,” natch. I hear he’s also really knowledgeable about legal subjects.

Cough.

h/t Sarah via tweet

Update: more from Sarah, who suggests that the Inky hire another celebrated Philadelphian to provide further discourse (and a counterpoint to  that whiny fuckhelmet Michael Smerconish.)

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Torture, Accountability and the Faux-Absolution of Collective Guilt

by matttbastard

In a must-read post, Dan Froomkin takes on recent attempts by OG ‘eventheliberal’ Michael Kinsley and pseudo-contrarian Slate guru Jacob Weisberg to whitewash the Bush Admin’s torture record by arguing that “the nation’s collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out.”

Froomkin points out the elephant in the room–and it’s wearing a press pass:

While it’s true that the public’s outrage over torture has been a long time coming, one reason for that is the media’s sporadic and listless coverage of the issue. Yes, there were some extraordinary examples of investigative reporting we can point to, but other news outlets generally didn’t pick up these exclusives. Nobody set up a torture beat, to hammer away daily at what history I think will show was one of the major stories of the decade. Heck, as Weisberg himself points out, some of his colleagues were actually cheerleaders for torture. By failing to return to the story again and again — with palpable outrage — I think the media actually normalized torture. We had an obligation to shout this story from the rooftops, day and night. But instead we lulled the public into complacency.

Wait, you mean the corporate media may have collectively (and quite willingly) played the role of useful idiot in the tragicomic post-9/11 GWOT farce put on by the Bush-Cheney Review? NO WAIS, DUDE!

Froomkin continues:

Secondly, while it’s certainly worth exploring why any number of people were either actively or passively complicit in our torture regime — and I’m all for some national self-flagellation here — that has nothing to do with whether senior administration officials willfully broke the law, and whether they should be held accountable. It doesn’t change the law.

Froomkin’s case for accountability has since been inadvertently and unintentionally bolstered by–wait for it–former Bush AG John Ashcroft (h/t Think Progress):

The government must hold accountable any individuals who acted illegally in this financial meltdown, while preserving the viability of the companies that received bailout funds or stimulus money. Certainly, we should demand justice. But we must all remember that justice is a value, the adherence to which includes seeking the best outcome for the American people. In some cases it will be the punishing of bad actors. In other cases it may involve heavy corporate fines or operating under a carefully tailored agreement.

Ok, so Ashcroft is talking about the financial meltdown, not the widespread erosion of human rights and the complete subversion of the rule of law that occurred under, um, his watch.

Still, as Jack Balkin notes, the principle is universal:

According to this same logic, the government should demand a full accounting of what Bush Administration officials did and it should institute new methods for monitoring and preventing abuses in the future. It should find ways to hold individuals who broke the law accountable without jeopardizing our existing national security. What the government should not do is what Attorney General Ashcroft argues against in the financial context– to sweep illegal actions under the rug or to go easy on the individuals who broke the law because they work for the federal government.

Sen. Chris Dodd underscores the bottom line:

[N]ot to prosecute people or pursue them when these acts have occurred is, in a sense, to invite it again in some future administration.

Special prosecutor NAO.

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Swagga Like Us (Or, Why CNN Should Never Be Allowed To Come Within 100 Metres of a Story About ‘Black’ Issues)

by matttbastard

You ever watch something so vicariously embarrassing, so painfully awkward that it almost gives you a full-body toothache?

Yeah.  That.

h/t @Humanity Critic (via HuffPo)

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If You Kids Don’t Shut Up I’m Gonna Turn This Plane RIGHT Around!

by matttbastard

Via Jay Rosen (by way of Sarah), I see that the Villagers are still primarily concerned with the circumference of their navels (which also corresponds with the breadth and depth of their shallow egos):

The standard form during “joint press availabilities” — bureaucratic lingo for press conferences where leaders from two different countries stand next to each other and take questions from reporters — is that each official’s press corps gets the same number of questions.

Well, during the joint press availability on Wednesday with Mr. Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the ornate British foreign office near 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown called on the U.K. press corps for four whole questions. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama only called on the White House press corps, which schlepped (granted, on a really nice United 777 charter) across the Atlantic to scrupulously chronicle his first overseas trip as president, thrice.

Mr. Obama even tried to cut off the press conference after six questions had been asked—most dealing with the growing rift between the United States and the rest of the world over how to fix the global economy. “All right?” he asked, in an “O.K.-we’re-done-I’m-outta-here” way.

Because of this unforgivable slight, Helene Cooper wonders if Obama is trying to ‘muzzle’ the White House press corps (and pines for the good ol’ days of Condie Rice–OMG SHOEZ!) Seriously, what the hell happened to Cooper? When did she morph into the quintessential whiny-ass titty baby?

“Waaah Obama isn’t bein’ nice to us. MOOOM!”

Apparently the brats in the beltway need fresh binkies to suck on.

You know, it says a lot that, during a time of global economic upheaval and uncertainty, a member of the White House press corps earnestly believes that not getting asked an extra question by the POTUS at an international presser is a matter of grave import.  One would hope that Cooper would take some heat from her colleagues for her demonstrative outburst. Alas, they were likely cheering her on from the sidelines, shouting ‘YEAH! TRUTH TO POWER!’

Because, sadly, the Villagers live in an isolated upper-middle class bubble, sequestered away from the rest of the nation (and its petty problems) in an insular gated community filled with an endless parade of cocktail parties and trivial sniping.  To the average Washington correspondent, meeting with the Great Unwashed is presented as an exercise in cultural anthropology, eg, John King’s Sunday morning diner round-tables with Real Americans (if you cut them, they BLEED! I know, crazy!) At this point, it’s all too clear that they are essentially writing for each other; the conversation is entirely circular, even if the 4th estate have deluded themselves into believing that the general public actually gives a rat’s ass about Ed Henry’s game day ritual.

Yeah, politics is all just a fucking game to them. Winners and losers, gaffes and ‘body blows’–political journalism as play-by-play sportscasting. Which is why, in this context, it is perfectly natural for Helene Cooper to be (passive-aggressively) “keeping score.”

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A Round-about Way of Calling David Brooks, Roger Cohen, David Broder and Jay Leno Fatuous Assholes (Because They, um, ARE Fatuous Assholes)

by matttbastard

DougJ hears something bubbling in the collective gullets of The Villagers:

Brooks last week:

But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.

Roger Cohen yesterday (via John and Kevin Drum):

But that does not change the fact that Obama, in his restorative counter-revolution, must be careful to steer clear of his French temptation.

Jay Leno last night:

“The financial [crisis] seems big enough,” Leno said. “[Obama is] also taking on energy and health care. Is he biting off too much? Should we just go, ‘All right, let’s fix the economy; next year we’ll talk about health care or energy.’ Should you pick one and focus on that? It’s like we’re doing everything all at the same time.”

Broder yesterday:

But many of these governmental pros clearly are doubtful whether this administration—or any other—can make it work.

Brooks today:

I’m still convinced the administration is trying to do too much too fast and that the hasty planning and execution of these complex policies will lead to untold problems down the road.

My, how farting out insubstantial conventional wisdom can quickly pollute the public commons! Really, it seems that Brooks & the rest of the head-up-ass Beltway pundit brigade are simply in love with the (muffled) sound of their own voices of ‘moderation’, “[offering] no substantive criticism of any particulars of any policy but rather an overall pessimism about the possibility of doing anything,” as DougJ puts it.

Pessimism.  The default position for lazy, overpaid, woefully underqualified hacks who, during a time of political upheaval and economic crisis, offer no serious insight whatsoever, much less expertise. And it’s an all-too tired pose that was well-past its best-before date 10 fucking years ago.

Sharpen the pitchforks.

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Olbermann: Alex Rodriguez Inducted Into The Apology Hall Of Fame!

by matttbastard

I really don’t give a toss about the A-Rod steroid controversy.  Am far more curious why Washington Post reporter Michael A. Fletcher felt the matter was of such national import that he asked the freakin’ POTUS for a response during Monday’s prime time press conference.

As O-Dub put it:

We’re in the middle of a fiscal crisis, two wars, and numerous other national and international issues. A-Rod could shoot up heroin, snort cocaine and disrobe during the all-star game and it would be immaterial.

Still, I couldn’t resist posting the following montage, a fitting tribute to the many insincere career-salvaging expeditions embarked upon by disgraced public figures over the years.

Watch it:

On a related note, I will never, ever tire of Jimmy Swaggart’s iconic tearful confession–even if the nostalgic indulgence in schadenfreude simultaneously resurrects the unfortunate image of him getting a blowjob in sweatpants.

My sincere apologies if any of you were eating while reading that.

(video courtesy CSPANJunkie)

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Read This Now

by matttbastard

Over at Global Comment, Sarah Jaffe, in a devastatingly on-target critique, utterly eviscerates yesterday’s head-pattingly patronizing L.A. Times article/future-bird-cage-liner (where the credentials of Dr. Jill Biden were examined [and dismissed] in a manner that was maddeningly glib, highly gendered–and entirely sexist).

Jaffe’s point about the underlying (and intersecting) double standards at play is especially sharp:

I have to wonder, if we were discussing a male academic who taught at a prestigious Ivy League university, the reporter would feel the need to spend the entire piece debating whether he deserved the prefix “Dr.”

The article’s dismissive tone is symptomatic of the way the media treats women, particularly accomplished women in the public eye. Jill Biden has several advanced degrees, and yet chooses to teach in a community college, helping students who often cannot afford to attend school full-time. This is worthy of respect, not a quibble over whether she deserves the title as much as someone who stitches up wounds, treats skin conditions, or performs nose jobs.

Highly recommended reading–the whole damn thing, goddammit.

Go.

Update 02/04: The Women’s Media Center has reposted Jaffe’s article in its entirety.  Check it out, and show some love.

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