Category ►►► Wordwooze

June 15, 2012

When Metaphors Attack!

Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

Tuesday: Barack "Big Stick" Obama explains, with one of the most labored metaphorical analogies in political history, why the deficit really is all Bush's fault:

When Mitt Romney and other Republicans carp about the dismal economy without mentioning that Mr. Obama inherited a $1 trillion deficit from his Republican predecessor [well, not really. -- DaH], "it’s like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, martini, all that stuff," Mr. Obama said, winding up to his punch line as his audience tittered. "And then, just as you’re sitting down, they leave, and accuse you of running up the tab!"

"That’s what they do!" the president said, as the Democratic Party faithful crammed into the ballroom applauded, hooted and hollered. [Or could one say, brayed like donkeys? -- DaH] "I am not making this up!"

No, he's not; that's the Obamic speechwriter's job. And it's a cute analogy, if not remotely close to reality. But lo! The v-e-r-y  n-e-x-t  d-a-y...

Wednesday: "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you..."

Celebrating Father’s Day early, the president had lunch with two service members and two local barbers at Kenny’s BBQ on Capitol Hill.

As the group chatted about fatherhood, the president enjoyed a steaming plate of pork ribs with hot sauce, collard greens, red beans and rice and cornbread.

The bill for the president and his four guests was $55.58, but was left unpaid at the point of sale, according to pool reports.

Might one say he left, sticking his hosts guests with the bill? I am not making this up.

So the Big Stick throws another boomerang. But don't worry; the White House did eventually, and however reluctantly, pay the bill, probably after mulling how chintzy it would look if they simply stiffed the helmet-heads and head cutters. Nevertheless, Obama still hasn't managed to stop running up his own "steak dinner" deficit tab -- martinis and all.

No word on when the president plans to apologize to George W. Bush for the stupid "stuck-Obama-with-the-bill" mal-analogy; but another perfect example of just what it means to be "snakebit."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 15, 2012, at the time of 11:57 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2012

Awkward Angle over Archangel

Hatched by Dafydd

I'm all in favor of authors self-publishing -- even though all my own novels have been published by Big Publishing, and I really have no complaints about that paradigm either. There are advantages and disadvantages to each; but the bottom line is that unless you're already a bestselling author, you're very unlikely to make big bucks (quit-the-day-job bucks) self publishing a novel. (And of course if you are already a bestseller, then why do you need to self publish in the first place?)

Still, I'm not averse. I have a pitch for a new SF novel -- my first in a number of years -- under submission right now... to Big Publishing. But hey, if that falls through, I have enough confidence in the novel, via my 26 friggin' years in the novel-writing biz, to spend what it takes to publish it myself.

But not through Amazon Digital Services, however.

Comes to that, I would publish through an independent company (Amazon will still be happy to make it available through the Kindle, of course). And if I go that self-publishing route, I promise, as God is my witness, to contract to make the book available via "print on demand" in a regular dead-tree version, in addition to digital media.

There must be many others like myself who just can't bring ourselves to read novels on screen, or even on e-ink; at least until that technology improves markedly, particularly in the realm of pixel density.

A high-quality print job usually uses a density of 1,250 dpi ([printed] dots per inch, a linear measurement); that gives the human eye the illusion of continuous print, like an old-fashioned inked forme. Display monitors aren't that dot-dense -- or pixel-dense, as electronic displays are measured. High-quality monitors can range from barely over 100 ppi (pixels per inch) in large displays to a maximum of somewhat over 300, but only on very small displays, like some cell phones. 300+ ppi on a large display would be prohibitively expensive, due to the cost of the display technology.

It's tough to compare dpi to ppi, because the wider range of colors available to monitors generally makes up for the lower pixel density. Except in black and white, however, where the only color is (surprise!) black. By a curious coincidence, black and white is the normal "color scheme" of the interior pages of most books. In that respect, the comparison is direct: 1,250 dpi, or even up to 1,800, in actual print, versus less than 350 ppi on the best (and smallest!) screens. The Amazon Kindle, as well as the Barnes & Noble Nook, clocks in at 167 ppi.

A more useful measurement than ppi (dpi) might be ppsi (dpsi), pixels (or dots) per square inch; since letters, punctuation, and other characters are two-dimensional, ppsi/dpsi gives you a better idea how dense each character is: A 167 ppi Kindle screen yields just under 28,000 ppsi; but a 600 dpi printed book translates into 360,000 dpsi. And high-quality printing, 1,250 dpi, yields a whopping 1.56 million dots per square inch.

I don't own a Kindle (or Nook), and I have no plans to buy one -- until, that is, it can display black and white text at a minimum of, say, 600 ppi. At that pixel density, the number of dots/pixels alotted to an individual character would be about 13 times as many as in the same size character on an e-ink reader. (The full 1,250 ppi, mimicking high-quality, slick magazine print, generates character images using 56 times as many dots per square inch as a Kindle or Nook.) That is a big, big difference... enough to spell the difference between what's comfortable for me to read and what gives me a headache trying to resolve the text!

All of which is preamble to my quandry: I am very happy to publicize the first novel by Aaron Worthing, Archangel (click the link to take you to the novel's page on Amazon)... but I cannot honestly say that I have bought or even plan to buy it. Worthing, as many of you already know, is an erstwhile blogger at Patterico's Pantaloons who recently admitted that the name is a pseudonym (Aaron Worthing, not the blogname).

I have nothing bad to say about the novel; the only reason I haven't read it is that I cannot read low-quality displays without cranial pain. Alas, since Archangel is only available in Kindle format, I can't read the darned thing!

Aaron is a great guy; and as Beldar says, the conceit of the novel is certainly interesting: a superhero who appears on 9/11, rescuing victims of the most evil terrorist attack in human history -- and changing history itself in the process. Alack, the low level of e-ink display technology prevents me from being able to enjoy a book that exists only electronically.

Aaron's novel Archangel might be as fantastic as the immortal Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, by Gary Wolf. Lord knows I hope it is... because then Aaron might indeed earn the Big Bux for which we authors ever seek, as Parsifal sought the Holy Grail. And that would illustrate the triumph of Capitalism, in all it's small-business glory.

So if you enjoy reading books on Kindle, I strongly urge you to buy ($9.99) and read Archangel... then please let me know what you think of it!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 14, 2012, at the time of 5:05 AM | Comments (2)

August 19, 2010

Greasing My Spindle Part XIX

Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

I often write stubs of posts that I never get around to finishing; on occasion, entire posts that I forget to edit and publish. I must be as absent minded as a -- as a great -- absent-minded thing. Whatever.

Here's one I wrote entire the day after Independence Day...


Just two years ago this month [July], then-candidate Barack H. Obama, speaking on the campaign trail in the American state of Berlin, called himself "a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world."

"Citizen of the United States" I understand, though I'm a bit skeptical about the "proud" part. But what on earth is a "citizen of the world?"

My understanding of citizenship is that it's a relationship of allegiance between an individual and a single, unified political entity; the fellow avowing he is a citizen of X thus accepts that he is subject to the jurisdiction of X, required to obey its laws (excepting unconstitutional or tyrannical ones), and sees X as his lawful sovereign, to which he owes some level of fealty. Underlying all of these defintional conditions is the assumption that X actually exists as a political body.

Thus, I can be a citizen of the United States, of the state of California, and (stretching a bit), of my county and city. Each of these is a distinct political entity; each demands obedience to its rightful laws, ordinances, and regulations; and each exerts an authority over me that I acknowledge.

But "the world" is not a political entity. It does not have general police powers, nor a codified, world-wide set of laws and regulations that we all pledge to obey. And I certainly don't agree to "the world" having any sort of authority over me; rather, I reject that cockamamie idea in favor of pledging fealty to one specific piece of "the world," even when that entity -- the United States of America -- finds itself at odds with the huge majority of the population of Planet Earth.

Pithily put, the phrase "I am a citizen of the world" is syntactically valid; but it's semantic gobbledygook, a phrase that "seems vague but is in fact meaningless." Saying "I am a citizen of the world" is like saying "I am the procrustean reiteration of next Thursday."

Does President B.O. realize he utters such whoppers day in and day out? I doubt it; he has been carefully trained his entire life to replace thinking with sloganeering, from his earliest days in school in Hawaii and Indonesia, through his misbegotten youth as a "community organizer," through his political career, and even today as President of the United States: Obama truly believes that saying, for another example, that he is trying to find whose "ass to kick" anent the BP Gulf oil spill, should be "deemed" an example of thoughtful analysis and policy-making.

I don't believe he realizes what a fool he sounds; he is surrounded by sycophants, head nodders, chest thumpers, and yes, an entire gaggle of fellow fools. Regardless of where one lands on the eternal philosophical question of whether Barack Obama is a well-meaning incompetent or a highly competent anti-American, he is at his core an utter dope -- which severely impacts his ability to close the deal with the American people.

Thank God for buffoonery!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 19, 2010, at the time of 2:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 30, 2009

On the Lighter Side - Mythic Words We Believe In

Hatched by Dafydd

I'm writing a more substantial piece, but it's really dragging. So I decided to lighten up with a confession: There is no such a word as intricities.

Yes, I confess: For years, I thought it existed. I was well aware of the (actual) word "intricacies," but I'd somehow got it into my head that there was that similar but distinct word intricities that was more or less a synonym.

Has any of you ever done such a thing -- accidentally made up an ersatz word but thought it was real?

I know at least one other person: Friend Lee was perfectly familiar with the word multitudinous; but somehow a nonexistent variant got lodged in his brain -- and for hundreds of years, he described New York hordes, Bengali swarms, and Carter's collection of catastrophes as multidinuous.

I'm not particularly interested in simple misunderstanding of the meaning of a real word; I had a girlfriend -- I think it was before Sachi and I married -- who insisted that so-and-so's behavior was more than silly... it was supercilious! But I'm interested today in the misbegotten creation of brand, new vocabulary -- involuntary neologism -- birthing a never-before-seen word into the English language by sheerest mischance.

I think I'll start calling such words neologasms (and no, that isn't one).

I'm also not interested in deliberate neologism, from Shakespeare supposedly creating the word "assassinate" to Norm Crosby coining the utterly apt "beertender." To qualify as a neologasm, a created word must be an honest mistake; and it must persist in vocabulary long enough to thoroughly humiliate its unwitting creator.

Non-native English speakers can come up with some great neologasms: Sachi once described herself as being too squirmish to eat snake; she insisted that one of her friends annoyed her by acting smuggish; and she suggested, when money was tight, that we needed to be more frugalent.

Then there are neologasmic phrases, where words are put together in a way that's not quite right -- but might discover a serendipitous meaning all their own. Someone who can't seem to get his life together after the death of a loved one might suffer from post-mortem depression; people in trouble might have grown up on the wrong side of the bed; the young make foolish mistakes because they're still green behind the ears; and I myself once accidentally (not on purpose!) got annoyed enough at an acquaintance to tell him not to stick his head in an ostrich. But that last doesn't really count, because I realized immediately that it wasn't exactly what I meant to say.

So is this unique to me and those folks frudulous enough to hang around me? Or are there other corralections of people who create stimular neologasms?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 30, 2009, at the time of 11:21 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 2, 2009

Weapon of Gas Discussion

Globaloney Sandwich , Liberal Lunacy , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

A left-wing enviro "think tank" -- well, I reckon that's a misnomer! -- has suddenly tigged to what's stopping the mass conversion to Globaloney that the econuts have predicted (demanded!) for decades: It's not the preposterous premise, the muddled modeling, the risible rejection of ratiocination, the brouhaha of bullying, the abhorrent adhering to ad-hominems, or even the inconvenient injection of raw reality... the misbehaving meteorological malaise that causes ice storms and blizzards to descend upon global-warming gabfests like starving seagulls upon a seaside soirée.

No, none of that is the problem. It's that damned phrase, "global warming." It just doesn't sing. Liberal lexicographers at ecoAmerica have fallen into a frenzy of phraseology, trying to find a New! Improved! dictionary of doom and disaster to awaken the weary bourgeoisie:

The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is “global warming.”

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.

They advocate globaloney proselytizers eschew "grim warnings" in favor of terms that sound vague but are in fact meaningless... but which poll well. Ecospeak dictionary in hand, they plan to send "TALKING POINTS" (caps are theirs) out to advocacy groups around the world, helping them gin up support by spinning up their speech.

How did we find out? Well, EcoAmerica e-mailed its secret report to a number of friendly (that is, liberal Democratic) lawmakers; it wanted to keep the results under wraps until they could find a way to frame it so that the entire project would not end up a laughingstock. Alas for them, some well-meaning cement-head on their website accidentally cc'ed a number of news organizations.


Of course, they have every reason to worry about the report leaking prematurely:

Environmental issues consistently rate near the bottom of public worry, according to many public opinion polls. A Pew Research Center poll released in January found global warming last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. “We know why it’s lowest,” said Mr. Perkowitz, a marketer of outdoor clothing and home furnishings before he started ecoAmerica, whose activities are financed by corporations, foundations and individuals. “When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say ‘global warming,’ a certain group of Americans think that’s a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.”

Well, yeah. We do. And so it is. As word trickles down to the masses about how their legislators are spending the staggering emergency deficits they have voted to snow voters with hot air on global warming, strong steps might be taken through the proper channels. 2010 approaches faster with every passing month.

Here are some of ecoAmerica's suggested circumlocutions. I wonder how much they got paid for this?

  • "Global warming"    "our deteriorating atmosphere;"
  • "Carbon dioxide"    "the dirty fuels of the past;"
  • "Cap and trade"    "pollution reduction fund;"
  • "Energy efficiency"    "saving money for a more prosperous future;"
  • "Environment"    "the air we breathe, the water our children drink." (That's still boring; now if they had it, "the water we breath, the children we dunk," they might have something.)

The movement should have come to me; I would have given them much more bewildering babble at a small fraction of the probable millions they forked over to ecoAmerica. Viz.:

  • "Banning all industrial operations" could be renamed "greenlining;"
  • "Carbon rationing" becomes "redistribution of illth;"
  • "The Kyoto Protocol" -- frightening, technical, foreign -- becomes "atmospheric contingency operation;"
  • "Tailpipe emissions of carbon and carbonoids" becomes "van-caused disasters;"
  • "Mandating use of hybrid cars for all non-governmental usage" becomes "the Prius is right;"
  • A "collapsed economy" is a "global financial resimplification;"
  • An "ice-age Earth" is defended as "it's cool to be blue;"
  • And complaints from globaloney deniers of "flawed general circulation models that cannot even accurately predict the past" shall henceforth be referred to as "exochronic evidentiary discrimination."

See? No need to modify hypotheses that are shot down and predictions which fall flat. All we need do is change the user interface, and presto! Hope meets anthropogenic global climate change.

Gore's in His heaven, all's right with the world.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 2, 2009, at the time of 11:52 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 7, 2008

We Are Living "Atlas Shrugged"

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dave Ross

Last October, the 50th anniversary of the monumental novel by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, was celebrated by freedom-loving people all over the world.

This life-changing book, second only to the Bible in its influence on 20th Century Americans, was a quasi science fiction that predicted what would happen if the people who actually create things, the inventors, industrialists, the entrepreneurs, drop out of society and left the world to the people who think that the most noble job is to “serve mankind” rather than make money, be happy and live one’s life to the fullest. Predictably, the world grinds to a halt.

I have a friend, who is a specialist in the life of George Orwell and his equally groundbreaking work, who has said for years that Orwell’s predictions about Big Brother are all coming true.

I think it is just as demonstrable that Rand’s dystopian vision of government bureaucrats running peoples’ lives and ruining the economy is coming true -- and the worst is yet to come.

Barack Obama, giving commencement speeches, sneers at graduates whose vision is to own their home or business. Instead he exhorts them to do something about global warming or other manufactured crises of the left.

“You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should by,” he said about a week ago, as if this were an ignoble pursuit.

He would prefer this:

But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have that debt.

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.

That interpretation of the promise of America might be a surprise to the people who actually did build the country. You know, those who hitched their wagons to oxen, not ideology. That’s how this country was built. Obama might know that if he had ever actually created a job, instead of attacking those who have.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, June 7, 2008, at the time of 8:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 29, 2008

McClellan's Losing Campaign - Part II

Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Plame Blame Game , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

Scott McClellan's pathetic campaign against George W. Bush -- hence for the election of Barack Obama -- continues apace; he keeps talking about more snippets from the book in interviews.

Today, McClellan bores deep into the Plame name blame game, which he sees as a "turning point" in his relationship with the president. But here is an oddity: It was clear to everyone from at least October 28th, 2005 -- the day that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald indicted "Scooter" Libby -- that it was not true that Libby was uninvolved in the inadvertent leak of Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation; and it was also well known by then that Karl Rove had testified five times to Fitzgerald's grand jury, correcting some of his testimony. As I recall, we already knew at that time that the correction involved a conversation Rove had with Matt Cooper of Time Magazine... which clearly implied that Rove, too, had inadvertently revealed Plame's employment.

So by late October, 2005, Scott McClellan already knew that what he told reporters in 2003 was wrong. This was the moral "turning point," he now says.

Yet he continued in his White House employment, after Libby's indictment, for six more months; he did not resign until late April, 2006 -- when he was ousted by new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Some "turning point!"

And once again, not a single charge of McClellan's is backed up by any evidence so far released... and much of it is in fact contradicted by strong, available documentation. (And this complete lack of evidence does indeed make McClellan, as Rove put it, sound like a "liberal blogger!")

Not only that, but McClellan and his new allies in the elite media (didn't they used to despise him?) now stoop to deliberate obscurantism to hide the absurdity of what they're claiming. Viz:

[McClellan] was ordered to say from the press room podium that White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not involved in leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press. Later a criminal investigation revealed that they were.

Revealed that they were "involved," yes; revealed that they were criminally culpable? No.

In fact, neither I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, nor Karl Rove, then Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy, was ever indicted for leaking Plame's name or CIA affiliation: Libby was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, and Rove was never indicted for anything at all.

("Involved" -- what a weasel word! For that matter, Robert Novak, Matt Cooper, and Tim Russert were also "involved," weren't they?)

During the investigation, Richard Armitage, then Deputy Secretary of State to Secretary of State Colin Powell, admitted that he was the first to inadvertently leak to reporter Robert Novak the fact that Lyin' Joe Wilson's wife was in the CIA; Armitage was also never indicted on any charge. Had the leak been intentional, the leaker would almost certainly have been indicted; thus it's a pretty fair conclusion that the Special Counsel believed the leaks were unintentional and inadvertent. (Particularly so since Armitage, like his boss Colin Powell, opposed the Iraq war... so why would be try to "discredit" the guy who was trying to prevent it?)

So yes, Libby and Rove were "involved in leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press;" but AP (and McClellan, so far as they report) fail to mention that they were both exonerated of the accusation that they did so deliberately in order to discredit Wilson.

You would think that would be an important part of the story.

Here's another wonderful bit of half-truth misdirection from AP, which they save to the end as the supposed killer-anecdote that demonstrates, to everyone who already suffers from BDS, what a liar and hypocrite is George W. Bush:

And [McClellan] recalled a day in April 2006, when the unfolding perjury case against Libby had revealed that Bush secretly declassified portions of a 2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities to help deflect criticism of his case for war. High-profile criticism was coming from Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, in those days before the war. [Take note that AP doesn't reveal what this "declassified" intelligence report was; but I'll let the beans out of the bag in a moment.]

The president was leaving an event in North Carolina, McClellan recalled, and as they walked to Air Force One a reporter shouted a question: Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence, enabled Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times back then to bolster the administration's arguments for war?

McClellan took the question to the president, telling Bush: "He's saying you yourself were the one that authorized the leaking of this information."

"And he said, 'Yeah, I did.' And I was kind of taken aback," McClellan said.

"For me I came to the decision that at that point I needed to look for a way to move on, because it had undermined, I think, a lot of what we had said."

Really? Let's stick a few particulars into that vague and smelly indictment...

First, anytime an administrative official speaks to a news source off the record -- even if fully authorized -- that could be called "leaking." As McClellan himself has done this many times (along with every other White House Press Secretary), he should not feign such horror.

Second, let's clarify what "intelligence report" Bush "declassified" in 2003 or 2004 (not 2006). There are only two possibilities that McClellan could be referencing, and the first is easily dismissed:

  • The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate;
  • Or the 2002 intelligence report on the debriefing of a certain former ambassador who was recommended by his CIA wife to be sent to a certain African country.

The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate

President Bush relied upon this estimate, compiled by the CIA, in his decision to ask Congress for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force; an AUMF is the legal equivalent of a declaration of war.

By mid-2003, with the war in full swing, the elite media was abuzz with claims that the 2002 NIE had said that Iraq had no WMD and was not even trying to develop any. In particular, these many stories claimed that the idea that Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain Uranium had been "debunked" by the CIA before the war -- and that the war was therefore entirely predicated on a lie.

It turns out that all these stories had a single source: Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had been sent to Niger by the CIA in response to his CIA wife's nagging of the Agency.

It was absurd that the CIA accepted Plame's suggestion of her husband for the trip. Its purpose was ostensibly to determine whether Saddam Hussein was trying to buy Uranium yellowcake, yet Wilson had no expertise whatsoever in nuclear or WMD investigations. He did, however, have one indispensible qualification: He already believed the story was a fairy tale, even before he left for Africa.

When he returned, and after he was debriefed by his CIA handlers (see below), he covertly went to numerous elite-media sources and told them that he had found that the idea that Hussein was trying to acquire Uranium yellowcake was bunk. Later, he published an op-ed in the New York Times (July 6th, 2003) titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," in which he peddled the same claim.

As more and more people came to believe, because of this disinformation campaign, that the administration had "lied us into war" (a cherished Democratic mantra), the president decided to declassify parts of the NIE on which he had relied. Not the whole thing, as that would reveal sources and methods; just the "key judgments" that the CIA presented the White House. He did so with great fanfare on July 18th, 2003... the day after Scott McClellan was named White House Press Secretary. This is an important point: McClellan was already the presidential spokesman when Bush announced the declassification of parts of the NIE and distributed it to reporters; and even prior to his promotion, he was the Deputy Press Secretary to Ari Fleischer.

Therefore, I suggest that the NIE cannot be the "2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities" that Bush "declassified," which McClellan now says he first found out about in April of 2006. Obviously, McClellan knew about the declassification of portions of the 2002 NIE way back in 2003... when the rest of the civilized world found out about it.

So this cannot possibly be what AP means above, unless Scott McCellan is dumber than a box of Barbara's boxers. That leaves only one other reasonable possibility:

The 2002 intelligence report on Joe Wilson's debriefing by the CIA

On July 7th, 2004, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a document titled Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. In the section titled "Niger," there is a chapter tantalizingly called "the Former Ambassador." It includes the following summary of the previously classified CIA debriefing of "the former ambassador" -- that is, of Lyin' Joe Wilson -- when he returned from the trip to the African nation of Niger that his CIA wife, Valerlie Plame, wangled for him. The briefing was included in an intelligence report disseminated within intelligence-community circles on March 8, 2002.

When the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to publish their report, they asked the president to declassify any intelligence in the report that was still classified. Bush complied; we don't know whether Wilson's debriefing was declassified at that point or before, but I don't recall anybody writing about it until after the report came out.

I strongly believe that this is what AP means when they write "Bush secretly declassified portions of a 2002 intelligence report about Iraq's weapons capabilities to help deflect criticism of his case for war." I can think of no other 2002 intelligence report that has made its way into the unclass information world besides these two... and it cannot possibly be the NIE for reasons elucidated above.

But why did this declassification so enrage the Left -- and so horrify Scott McClellan, becoming one of his "turning points?" Let's see what, exactly, former Ambassador Joe Wilson did tell his CIA handlers when he returned. In this case, speculation is unnecessary, because we know exactly what information Wilson gave them from his little Nigerien adventure. From that same chapter linked above:

The intelligence report based on the former ambassador's trip was disseminated on March 8, 2002. The report did not identify the former ambassador by name or as a former ambassador, but described him as "a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record." The report also indicted that the "subsources of the following information knew their remarks could reach the U.S. government and may have intended to influence as well as inform." DO officials told Committee staff that this type of description was routine and was done in order to protect the former ambassador as the source of the information, which they had told him they would do. DO officials also said they alerted WINPAC analysts when the report was being disseminated because they knew the "high priority of the issue." The report was widely distributed in routine channels.

(Redacted) The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, (Redacted) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

And there you have it: In setting straight the record of prewar intelligence on Iraq, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee had to note that former Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of former CIA employee Valerie Plame) told his CIA handlers that the former prime minister of Niger revealed that an Iraqi delegation tried to meet with him to discuss "expanding commercial relations," which the former prime minister believed was an attempt to purchase Uranium.

Wilson then went to the elite media and lied through his teeth... covertly, at first; but when that failed to bring down the Bush regime, overtly in an op-ed in the NYT. Thus, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report exposed Lyin' Joe Wilson as exactly what he was; and for that, the Left will never forgive either the president who declassified the debriefing or the committee that revealed Joe Wilson to the world.

For reference, here is what President Bush said in his January, 2003 State of the Union address... the very "sixteen words" that Wilson flatly claimed in his op-ed "was not borne out by the facts as I understood them."

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Sounds like an excellent summary of what former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki told former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson.

Selective declassification vs. selective leaking

The elite media and its new sock puppet Scott McClellan make much to-do out of this final point, as if it were the synecdoche that encapsulates McClellan's entire charge:

Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence, enabled Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times back then to bolster the administration's arguments for war?

Once again, vagueness to the rescue! There are two ways to "selective[ly] release" classified information; one is completely legal, the other criminal, despicable, and a gross and offensive betrayal of the United States of America:

  1. The president or some Congressional committees can legally declassify specific information, in consultation with the agency that classified it, and release it to the general public, including the news media;
  2. A disgruntled government employee, fighting against the express policy of the elected government, can criminally "leak" the classified information to individual elite reporters he believes are friendly to his cause, in an effort to destroy whatever legal intelligence program he dislikes.

AP is correct: The president has on many occasions decried a "selective release of secret intelligence" of Type 2, such as the leak of details about the Terrorist Surveillance Program (the NSA al-Qaeda telephone intercepts) or our perfectly legal -- nobody even denies this -- voluntary surveillance of the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system, part of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program to find and interdict terrorists' money transfers.

This sort of "selective release" does incalculable damage to our intelligence-gathering capabilities, puts human sources at risk, and alerts death-cult terrorists that they should change their modus operandi to avoid detection by intelligence and law-enforcement agents. Such leaks kill good people and aid and abet al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other evildoers.

But that's not what McClellan is whining about. He was so shocked and horrified that he "came to the decision that at that point [he] needed to look for a way to move on" because the president made no attempt to conceal the fact that he had engaged in a perfectly legal Type 1 "selective release of secret information": He formally declassified part of a CIA debriefing, after consultation with the CIA, possibly even at the request of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee.

Are you able to detect the subtle, miniscule difference between some low-level toady in the NSA leaking details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, thus shutting off the flow of information about potential al-Qaeda cells in the United States -- and the president declassifying a summary of a debriefing that the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to release as part of a report on pre-war intelligence, more than a year after the debriefing was conducted?

If so, then you're one up on both the former White House Press Secretary and the elite media!

What McClellan didn't prove in his book

I'm sorry that so many folks are shocked to learn that former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson is a liar; but it's hardly the president's job to keep old intelligence documents classified -- even when the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to publish parts of them -- just to preserve Wilson's reputation... so he can continue to accuse President Bush of lying, when in fact the evidence indicates that all along, the liar was Wilson himself.

And I note, once again, that all of this was printed not only in the Senate report on July 7th, 2004; it was also discussed extensively -- and put into the context of debunking Joe Wilson's lies -- in a July 12th, 2004 column in the National Review by Clifford May. I myself was late to the game; I didn't start blogging (on Patterico's Pontifications) until May of 2005. But by October of that year, I was already posting about this on Big Lizards.

Where the hell was Scott McClellan that he wasn't already aware of this until sometime in April of 2006? The rest of us knew it eight months earlier.

More and more, the evidence indicates that McClellan's faux horror and his "turning points" are entirely fabricated after the fact... and the only two reasons I can imagine are (1) to sell more copies of his book, and (2) to set himself up for a position in the fantasized administration of President Barack Obama.

The saddest part is that even if Obama were elected, then just as with David Brock (anyone remember him?), he would no more give a job to a betrayer like Scott McClellan than he would pluck somebody else's used Kleenex out of the rubbish and blow his own nose into it.

McClellan is burning all his former friends and colleagues for nothing.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 29, 2008, at the time of 6:41 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

McClellan's Losing Campaign - Part I

Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Plame Blame Game , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

I believe that McClellan's campaign will turn out to be a disaster, not for the president but for McClellan himself.

(And I assume you all realize I mean the campaign by Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary until he was ousted by incoming Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten -- and not a minute too soon! -- to damage the GOP enough that Barack Obama wins the presidency in 2008... not the failed presidential campaign of ousted -- and not a minute too soon! -- Civil War Gen. George McClellan in 1864.)

Alas, I was scooped on the following observation by John Hinderaker at my favorite blogsite, Power Line; but I shall persevere, secure behind the lizardly firewall of "Never first, always final."

What has struck me is "the Case of the Missing Evidence": McClellan is quoted as leveling numerous charges against President Bush and members of his administration, from "misleading" us into the Iraq war by spreading "propaganda," to McClellan's accusation that Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby conspired together to out Valerie Plame and then lie about it to the grand jury, to -- this is truly bizarre -- McClellan's psychic claim that Bush lied about never having tried cocaine. Yet in not a single accusation in a single article I have read (I've read six) is there even a shred of evidence offered for the claim, other than the rather dubious word of a man hawking his new "tell-all" book.

Nothing. Nada. Bagel.

Here is a typical example from our ancient enemy, the Times:

Mr. McClellan writes that top White House officials deceived him about the administration’s involvement in the leaking of the identity of a C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson. He says he did not know for almost two years that his statements from the press room that Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr. were not involved in the leak were a lie.

“Neither, I believe, did President Bush,” Mr. McClellan writes. “He too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth -- including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney -- allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”

Of course, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald extensively investigated Karl Rove in that case, calling him back numerous times for more testimony. Rove even corrected some of his testimony, which almost certainly led to even more intense investigation by Fitzgerald. Yet after all that, Fitzgerald -- who was highly motivated to find some legal victim higher up the food chain than the chief of staff to the Vice President -- couldn't even gain an indictment from a grand jury... which hears only the prosecution's case.

But I'm sure McClellan knows better. I wonder whether he shared whatever evidence he has with Fitzgerald, who obviously considered it pretty unconvincing (or he would have used it) -- or whether McClellan only discovered this "evidence" of perjury and obstruction of justice after Fitzgerald failed to indict Rove.

Here's another good one:

[McClellan] is harsh about the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, saying it “spent most of the first week in a state of denial” and “allowed our institutional response to go on autopilot.”

Does anyone else detect a pattern here? Systematically, McClellan is working his way, one by one, through every anti-Bush fairy tale promulgated by the "reality-based community," the nutroots of Daily Kos. (I fully expect that somewhere in the book, which I will not waste time reading, McClellan will express his doubts that 9/11 was really carried out by al-Qaeda -- maybe it was Mossad! -- and will suggest that the Pentagon was hit by a U.S. missile and that the World Trade Centers were taken down by controlled demolition...)

Anent Katrina, I was going to make some scathing response about how effective President Bush really was, in contrast to the Demo-lib caricature; but then I remembered I already did -- two years ago. I'll stack my evidence up against McClellan's any day... or I would, if McClellan could find any.

Maybe McClellan should start reading Big Lizards before writing future books.

Although I did independently come up with this observation, I must confess that John beat me into print phosphor with this addendum to an excellent (if short) post by Paul Mirengoff:

JOHN adds: McClellan was a lousy press secretary. A much better spokesman, Tony Snow, once told me that the best thing about his job was the opportunity to follow President Bush around and observe his conduct of the Presidency. Tony said that he came away with a deep appreciation of President Bush's character, judgment and knowledge of the issues. Unless McClellan can come up with some facts to back up his claims--facts have been notably absent from the press accounts I've seen of his book--I think Tony's assessment is considerably more reliable.

I could not agree with John more... especially the part about McClellan's squirmy "talents" as a presidential press secretary; he always came across to me a lot less like Ari Fleischer, or even Clinton's Mike McCurry, and a lot more like Jon Lovitz's pathological liar character from Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s ("Yeah, yeah, the Queen of England... that's the ticket!")

But I also agree with Paul: McClellan's tabloid trash is going to get a full-court press of reviews, news articles, and free PR by the Democratic Party (both political and journalistic wings)... making the contrast all the more stark with the brilliant insider tome War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Feith's book received no reviews by any major elite-media source except for Bret Stephens' review at the Wall Street Journal... despite the fact that War and Decision was written by the man who actually made (in consultation with his direct boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) the important decisions he discusses; while What Happened -- say, if this is about McClellan's career, then didn't the printers accidentally leave off the question mark that should have been at the end of that title? -- is nothing but the ramblings of a man whose only function was to explain other people's decisions to the press.

Say, has anybody else ever noticed that life isn't fair? (Darn... I think I was scooped on that observation, too.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 28, 2008, at the time of 5:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 29, 2007

"And Why the Sea is Boiling Hot, and Whether Pigs Have Wings"

Iraq Matters , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

Just a small point to make in this story, which is mostly about a speech Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%) made to leftist activists in California.

I pass lightly over her fabrications about President Bush -- she seems to believe that Bush's people put up that "Mission Accomplished" sign on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in order to claim (prematurely) that the entire Iraq War was finished -- to commence taking victory laps. She is belied by Bush's speech itself, the transcript of which is readily available:

In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

He gave the speech, as its very words proclaim, to commemorate the end of "major combat operations" -- that is, the force-on-force part of the war; and indeed, he was accurate about that: The Iraqi Republican Guard was broken, Hussein's tank divisions were shattered, and his favorite palaces stood in ruins. His sons were dead, and he himself was on the run (he would be plucked from his "spider hole" on December 13th, 2003, and executed just three years later).

But the fact that Hillary Clinton is willing -- eager? -- to prevaricate to achieve her goals is hardly even news... so I won't even mention it. Forget I said anything; erase, erase, erase. This is, after all, the woman who claimed for years that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest... which he did when Ms. Clinton was five and a half years old -- conjuring up the charming image of a little girl with no name, awaiting some knight to perform a deed daring enough to finally supply her a moniker.

Instead, I want to focus for a moment on a statement made by John Edwards. This single sentence perfectly encapsulates the disordered thinking (in a clinical sense) of the Democrats:

Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, said the world needs to see that "America can be a force for good."

"What their perception is that America is a bully and we only care about our short-term interests," Edwards said. "The starting place is to end the bleeding sore that is the war in Iraq."

Let's pull that apart a bit. How can the Iraq war possibly be an example of America only caring about "our short-term interests?" What conceivable short-term interests could be found in going to war with Saddam Hussein and the Baathists?

  • If all we wanted was the oil -- which I suppose is the only feeble ratiocination that flickers like a birthday-cake candle in the oxygen-deprived brain of the former senator -- then why didn't we just cut a deal with the dictator, as France, Russia, and others did?

    If nothing else, Hussein had proven himself amenable to selling off oil leases at bargain rates to avoid being attacked by great powers. Or even France.

  • And if we didn't just want the oil... then whatever we did want, for good or for ill, is necessarily a long-term interest!

I'm tempted to say "that's so Edwards." But really, such mental confusion goes far beyond the politician known as the Pink Sapphire (formerly known as the Silky Pony). It has become almost canonical for Democrats to say, "Under the criminal Bush regime, A has occurred... and the first thing I'll do as president to fix that problem is B" -- where B is a complete non sequitur to A, of course.


  • Under the criminal Bush regime, America's economy has completely tanked, and the the federal deficit is spiraling out of control, higher and higher every year. That's why, when I'm elected president, my very first order will be to completely divest America from all investments in Israel.
  • Under the criminal Bush regime, terrorism around the world and especially within our very own borders has skyrocketed since 9/11. When I'm president, I will take the necessary steps to safeguard our country... starting with a promise in writing to ensure that all Americans, regardless of skin color, have a level playing field when it comes to jobs, education, and government contracts.
  • Under the criminal Bush regime, our air has become unfit to breathe, our water unfit to drink, hundreds of children die of tobacco-related illnesses every day, and the earth's temperature has risen so high that most people now boil their eggs in their swimming pools. America needs a president who can actually solve our terrible environmental problems... and I pledge to you that my very first executive order, on January 20th, 2009, will be to establish a living wage that will provide a decent lifestyle to every American citizen, resident, transient, and bum -- regardless of race, color, national origin, or legal status.

Thus, it became clear to me several months ago that some clever entrepeneur has created Democratic speech-synthesizing software: The candidate (or rather, his campaign's computer consultant) enters his favorite stump-speech slogans, catch phrases, and pithy, rhyming sing-song into the database, along with the general themes of the campaign.

(This database is kept updated throughout the campaign; if a particular saying starts to be ridiculed on Jon Stewart's show, it can be replaced by something eerily similar but distinct enough to pass.)

When a talk is needed, the speechwriter selects the audience from a drop-down menu: Anti-war veterans, Militant gays, Unionistas, CAIR, La Raza, or NPR. Mousing over the "gasbag" icon pops up a menu with varying speech lengths: Sound Bite, Press Statement, Stump Speech, Commencement Ceremony, Denial of All Charges, and Multi-Hour Keynote Address.

Once the writer finishes selecting options, a full speech is randomly generated by stringing together poll-tested, trite-and-true phrases from the most recent (1998) edition of the Lexicon of Liberal Liturgies, spiced by selections from the candidate database -- and complete with the word "(Applause)" arbitrarily inserted after several of the paragraphs. (That last is for consumption by the elite media: They can count them and announce -- in advance -- that the speech was interrupted that many times for sustained hosannas.)

Nothing else could explain the bizarre periphrasis and linguistic contortion that litters the Democratic campaign trail like condoms after a gay-pride parade.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 29, 2007, at the time of 2:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 9, 2006

Battered Conservative Syndrome: Defending Ann

Atrocious Analogies , Scurrilous Scribblings , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dafydd

All right, folks; put on your manly gowns, gird up your loins, and go tell the Spartans: I'm about to defend Ann Coulter. And not by sweeping her words under the rug and blubbering "but she's a good girl in spite of the horrid things she says!"

No no, not Big Lizards style. I defend the very words she used and bat the ball right back across thet net at the liberals and their conservative "enablers."

But first, let's jump in the wayback machine and speed back through the ages to 1991. Connie Chung had just had her special on breast cancer the year earlier, in which she first floated the meme -- with never a shred of scientific evidence -- that silicone breast implants cause breast cancer.


Oh just read on, for heaven's sake.

We are the evidence!

In 1991, Oprah Winfrey had a show on the topic, and she invited a spokesman from Dow Corning, against which the anti-breast-implant mob had already begun to file the thousands of lawsuits that were to drive the company into bankruptcy just a few years later. What Oprah did not tell the spokesman was that the entire audience had been packed with women who had gotten breast implants, gotten breast cancer, and believed with the fervor of the mad that the one caused the other.

This was the first time I encountered what, fifteen years later, Ann Coulter would call "the Left's doctrine of infallibility," "using their grief to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding." (The link is to a transcript of Coulter's appearance on the Today Show with Matt Lauer; tuck it away in your grey matter, we'll come back to it at the end of this post.)

The premise of these Oprah women was that, since they suffered from a terrible disease, therefore any pronouncement they made about its cause was not open to argument.

It made no difference what the Dow spokesman said; they could not care less about the scientific evidence he cited. He noted, as his basic point, that if silicone breast implants were in any way implicated in breast cancer, then the rate of such cancer among women who had silicone breast implants would necessarily have to be higher than among women who did not have them.

Any rational human being should be able to understand that much. You don't need a PhD in oncological research. If smoking is implicated in lung cancer, then smokers should have a higher rate of lung cancer than non-smokers... and by golly, they do; much higher. That is why no serious medical researcher in the last forty years has disputed the point: the statistical argument is unanswerable.

Curiously, however, women with silicone breast implants have an identical rate of breast cancer as women who have saline implants or women with no implants at all. There is no difference; a hundred studies have shown this, and not a single one has shown the opposite. This is almost irrefutable evidence that there is no connection.

When the Dow guy brought this out, the women responded by booing. One leapt to her feet and shouted, "nobody ever studied me! Why don't you study me?" And the mass cheered in response, just as they might have cheered a coherent argument.

Then, in a surreal display that brought to mind Franz Kafka (or George Orwell), they actually rose in near unison and began chanting "we are the evidence, we are the evidence!" Whenever the Dow spokesman tried to speak, he was shouted down. He was accused of not caring about them. Women stood and burst into tears, accused him of "harassment" because he dared to defend Dow Corning's product.

Thus the infallibility of grief in action: these women suffered a tragic loss -- and that immunizes their every pronouncement from response.

A decorated war veteran who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War

Flash forward a few years, to the 2002 senatorial re-election campaign of Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) against Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

During the election, Chambliss raised the issue that Cleland was too liberal for the state of Georgia; to make that point, Chambliss aired some hard-hitting ads saying that Cleland's policies -- in particular, his opposition to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security -- benefitted terrorists and dictators, like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. As the names were mentioned, the Chambliss ad showed brief images of their faces:

The ad says that Cleland does not have the "courage to lead" at a time when "America faces terrorists and extremist dictators." The evidence? Cleland voted against the president's version of the still-pending Homeland Security agency 11 times.

Now, the point is arguable; many Republicans didn't like the idea of the new department as well, calling it "just another layer of bureaucracy" and "shuffling boxes around the org chart." But Cleland did not try to argue it... instead, he and his surrogates in the antique media swiftly trotted out the point that he was a decorated Vietnam veteran who has lost three limbs:

Cleland, a decorated war veteran who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War, blasted the ad, accusing his GOP rival, Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss, of trying to wrest political advantage from the war on terrorism and the impending conflict with Iraq. "Accusing me of being soft on Homeland Security and Osama bin Laden is the most vicious exploitation of a national tragedy and attempt at character assassination I have ever witnessed," the senator said in a statement.

The infallibility of grief, take 2.

Of course, Cleland did not actually lose his legs and part of one arm "in the Vietnam War;" he lost them during the war, in a stupid accident: he was hopping out of a helicopter that was taking him and other soldiers on a "beer run," and a grenade slipped either from his own vest or someone else's. He bent over to pick it up, and it exploded. His grievous injuries were not attained in combat; and indeed, none of his decorations were for that incident (he, personally, never claimed they were; but he, personally, also never corrected the record when others claimed Cleland lost his limbs in combat).

The meme was launched, not just by the Washington Post but virtually every other newspaper, magazine, and television network: Saxby Chambliss, how dare you question the patriotism of a guy who lost three limbs?

The club of grief

The phenomenon Coulter describes is far more despicable than anything she has said in attacking it. "The infallibility of grief" is used to silence opposition by exploiting basic human decency.

Among con artists, there are two kinds: those who exploit human greed by tricking their marks into thinking they can con someone else (like the "dead millionaire Nigerian dicatator" spam) -- and those who exploit human pity by pretending to some tragedy that causes the decent to want to help them out (the classic "my rented baby is hungry, can you give me $5 for some baby food?" scam).

The latter are much more repulsive; if a greedy guy thinks he's scamming someone else and gets fleeced himself, who cares? He got what was coming to him. But to rip someone off by attacking his empathy and goodness not only punishes the victim for his goodness, it also makes him cynical -- and makes it that much harder for people who really are in trouble to get help. Once bitten, twice shy.

But those who practice the infallibility of grief scam are even worse

  • They affect the much larger arena of public policy via irrational appeals to emotion;
  • They twist tragedy for their own ends;
  • They pervert the deaths of their own loved ones (recall the funeral of Sen. Paul Wellstone);
  • And they create backlashes against those who really have suffered great tragedy, but have chosen not to use grief as a weapon... a backlash that is itself exploited by the "griefarazzi" as a weapon against the Right.

Coulter argues -- and I completely agree -- that by using their grief as a club to batter their opponents into silence, they have willfully and irrevocably forfeited the right ever again to use it as a shield.

"Mother" Sheehan (as she likes to be called, aping the religious without actually stooping to practice religion) has been relentless in retailing the death of her son Casey for political purposes wholly at odds with what he, himself believed. By using the doctrine of the infallibility of grief as an offensive weapon, she has forefeited any right to fall back on her grief when her politics are attacked.

So has Michael Berg, who has taken to the airwaves to argue that President Bush, not Musab Zarqawi, is responsible for the beheading of his son, Nick Berg. Look what Bush made Zarqawi do!

His only call for making such judgments is his certificate of authenticity as a man who suffered a terrible tragedy. Berg uses victimhood as a badge of authority to batter down any response under a sledge hammer of faux guilt: how dare you defend Bush against my attacks? I lost my son!

And now at last this brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Ann Coulter vs. the Jersey Girls.

Enjoying their husbands' deaths

Here is what Coulter wrote in her newest book, Godless, that has provoked such a fury of denunciation... not just from the left, but from the right as well:

These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was part of the closure process....

These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparazzies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.

Very hard words; but I stick up for Coulter even here. Read above: the Jersey Girls have used their grief as an offensive weapon against Republicans and in support of the candidacy of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA, 100%)... and that means that by their own actions, they forfeit the right to use their personal tragedy as a shield against attack.

But who are the "Jersey Girls?"

The Jersey Girls or Jersey Widows (Kristin Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Lorie Van Auken, and Mindy Kleinberg) are four women from New Jersey whose husbands were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks....

The Jersey Widows testified for hearing led by congresswoman Cynthia McKinney on July 22, 2005 [2]. In Lorie Auken's statement she said this of the 9/11 Commission Report:

And finally, without compromising our national security, it would have reported all of its findings, with its redactions blacked out and submitted to the American people. In essence, the Commission could have produced a final product where the resulting conclusions and recommendations could be trusted. Instead, at the end of the day, what we got were some statements that truly insulted the intelligence of the American people, violated our loved ones’ memories, and might end up hurting us, one day soon.

One such statement is that 9/11 was a ‘failure of imagination’. A failure of whose imagination? What exactly does that mean? When you have a CIA director with his hair on fire, a system blinking red, 52 FAA warnings, an August 6th, 2001, PDB entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States’, leads on several 9/11 hijackers including Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Marwan Al-Shehi, warnings from many foreign governments, a Phoenix memo warning of Islamic extremists taking flying lessons, the arrest of would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussauoui, facts imparted to one agent, Agent Frasca at the RFU at the FBI, 9/11 was truly a failure alright.

What else did they do? Was that it? Not by a long shot. From the Today Show exchange, here is Coulter on the Jersey Girls' politicking... facts which none of Coulter's critics have troubled to dispute. (This is a hallmark of the infallibility of grief, by the way: Cleland didn't try to argue that his votes against the DHS were right... he simply denied Chambliss the right to criticize him at all because of the tragedy Cleland suffered in Vietnam.)

They were cutting commercials for Kerry. They were using their grief to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding.

In a Hannity and Colmes segment yesterday (no transcript, I just watched it), she elaborated, noting the television shows and magazines that had featured them, the Democratic fundraisers they attended. I myself recall them sitting on some panel on terrorism, as if they were experts by virtue of grief. The Jersey Girls were not "grieving widows," for they were not grieving... not unless, as Coulter put it, "denouncing Bush was part of the closure process."

They are not grieving widows; they are crusading widows. The difference is colossal.

Matt Lauer's snide questions are almost tailor-made to prove Coulter's point, for not once does he ever bother responding to anything she says; instead, he spent the entire interview subtlely undermining her moral credibility and her decency for daring to challenge the crusading widows in the first place:

His first words, before even reading what she wrote:

  • Do you believe everything in the book, or do you put some things in there just to cater to your base?

After reading the excerpt where she concludes "I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much”:

  • Because they dare to speak out? [At least, thank God, he didn't say "dare to speak truth to power." -- the Mgt.]

Here are the rest of his "responses" to Coulter:

  • So grieve but grieve quietly?
  • By the way, they also criticized the Clinton administration. [Lauer gives no examples.]
  • So if you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?
  • Well apparently you are allowed to respond to them. [Said while he attacked her for responding to them.]
  • What I’m saying is I don’t think they have ever told you, you can’t respond.
  • No. I think it’s a dramatic statement. “These broads are millionaires stalked by stalked by grief-parazzies”? “I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s deaths so much”?
  • The book is called “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Ann Coulter, always fun to have you here.

There you go: content-free invective. Lauer never responds, refutes, debunks; he just denounces. This is practically a classroom demonstration of the infallibility of grief at work.

In the same article in Editor & Publisher, the Jersey Girls themselves (plus Monica Gabrielle) respond (they get the last word, of course; Coulter is not allowed to respond to their response). Amazingly, their response also reinforces Coulter's original point:

We did not choose to become widowed on September 11, 2001. The attack, which tore our families apart and destroyed our former lives, caused us to ask some serious questions regarding the systems that our country has in place to protect its citizens. Through our constant research, we came to learn how the protocols were supposed to have worked. Thus, we asked for an independent commission to investigate the loopholes which obviously existed and allowed us to be so utterly vulnerable to terrorists. Our only motivation ever was to make our Nation safer. Could we learn from this tragedy so that it would not be repeated?

They then append a list of eight Democratic-Party talking points, the exact attacks that Minority Leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) make against President Bush and the Republican Congress.

Ask yourself this question: what reason is offered for us to accept the analysis of the Jersey Girls about what's wrong with our response to 9/11? Why listen to them, instead of (for a wild example) Big Lizards?

The only reason put forward is that 9/11 "tore our families apart and destroyed our former lives."

That's it. If they conducted "constant research," they certainly didn't demonstrate any in their response, nor on any of the media lollapalloozas they basked in for months: the television appearances, the spread in Vanity Fair, the Kerry campaign rallies and fundraisers they attended, or the commissions where they spoke.

Their sole authority to declaim upon Bush's failures is that they lost their husbands on September 11th; their sole response to critics of their political activities is "we did not choose to become widowed on September 11, 2001."

But they certainly chose the path forward from that point. They buttered their bread; now they refuse to sleep in it.

Battered Conservative Syndrome

Yet rather than stand up to the bullying use of victimhood as a weapon, many pundits and bloggers on the right have instead joined the liberal dogpile on Ann Coulter. The response of conservatives matches that of Matt Lauer: who cares whether Coulter's critique is right or wrong? Those poor women have suffered! How dare she add to their grief?

They join the liberals in attacking Coutler for malfeasance of rhetoric; in this, conservatives are showing classic symptoms of Battered Spouse Syndrome. Huddled in a defensive crouch, they labor to prove that they are too decent, they are so sympathetic -- they attack Coulter to prove their own chivalric honor. They become "enablers" of liberal griefarazzi.

Many conservatives have let themselves be ensnared by the "infallibility of grief" gambit. Like suckers who give money to the woman with the baby she rents by the hour, conservatives who attack Ann Coulter, without regard to the point she makes, prove the utter truth of that point: the reflexive, Lorelei power of the whimper of whipped dogs. And like Odysseus, if they don't stop their ears or lash themselves to the mast, they will wreck upon the rocks.

The Left wallows in that whimper, in the infallibility of grief; they use it to bypass argument, substitute for evidence, and take the place of moral courage. To argue with the grief-mongers makes ordinary, decent people feel like they just yelled at Grandma and made her cry. And the Left shamelessly exploits that basic human guilt.

I grew up in a Jewish family, and I had that trick played on me too many times. My family and culture burned out that autoresponse circuit in me; sorry, but like Jo Dee Messina, my give-a-damn's busted:

You can say you've got issues, you can say you're a victim
It's all your parents fault, after all you didn't pick 'em
Maybe somebody else has got time to listen:
My give-a-damn's busted

If you're a human being, you feel sorry for people who have suffered great tragedy. But if you're a reasoning human being, you don't allow empathy to leap up your throat and strangle your brain: you control it; you take a step back and ask whether We are the evidence ever means anything more than "Shut up," she explained.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 9, 2006, at the time of 5:42 PM | Comments (67) | TrackBack

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