Saturday, March 29, 2008

One dare not say "war crime"

As the fifth anniversary of the illegal war in Iraq has come and passed, the American public has been subjected to a seemingly endless stream of pseudo-mea culpas from pundits and mainstream journalists regarding their complete lack of critical thinking in the lead-up to the invasion in March 2003. But rather than apologizing profusely for leading this country into an unjustified and immoral war of aggression, most of these pieces in this unfortunate genre have been attempts at absolving the authors of any actual responsibility for their actions -- "if anything, I just trusted our leaders too much... I just didn't know the Iraqis would not be able to grasp our inherent goodness, etc." And if you think that's an exaggeration, consider Megan McArdle of The Atlantic and her recent attempt at explaining away her support for the war:
I should have realized that the Iraqis would find it humiliating to be conquered by an outside power, even one that was (as we are) one of the best-meaning occupiers in human history.
Sure, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, but damn it, we had such good intentions (what's the saying about the road to hell?). For a look at what an actual mea culpa from a former war supporter looks like, see John Cole at Balloon Juice ("I was wrong about everything.").

Now, people like Megan McArdle are not important in and of themselves, but she is typical of what passes for mainstream. She is serious, respectable, and utterly lacking in original thought. She also happens to be, as Jonathan Schwarz points out, willfully ignorant of basic and undisputed facts, which is always a desired trait in an establishment pundit.

Oh sure, McArdle will now concede that the war was a "mistake", but she will never question the underlying reasons for why the United States has military bases in over 130 countries and assumes the right to intervene in any country in the world. It's okay to say "mistakes were made" (as her post on the fifth anniversary of the war is titled, apparently without irony), but it's extreme and unserious to say that maybe, just maybe, the Iraq war was simply a continuation of an imperial American foreign policy that has been perpetuated by both Republican and Democratic administrations since at least the time of President McKinley, despite the overwhelming evidence that, well, it is. And though people like Richard Perle, in rare moments of honesty, will admit that the Iraq war was a blatant violation of international law, just try and find that essential fact uttered anywhere on cable news or in Time magaizine -- you won't.

As investigative journalist Robert Parry notes over at his site Consortium News (which I highly recommend), pointing out the underlying criminality of the Iraq war and the complete and utter failure of the establishment news media to question the assumptions that led to it would require there to be actual change in Washington:

During the post-World War II trials at Nuremberg, the United States led the world in decrying aggressive war as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Yet, [PBS'] Frontline and other mainstream U.S. news outlets shy away from this central fact of the Iraq War: by invading Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council and under false pretenses, the Bush administration released upon the Iraqi people “the accumulated evil of the whole” – and committed the “supreme” war crime.

An obvious reason why the mainstream U.S. press can’t handle this truth is that to do so would mean that President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, a host of other U.S. officials and even some prominent journalists could be regarded as war criminals.

To accept that reality would, in turn, create a moral imperative to take action. And that would require a great disruption in the existing U.S. power structure, which hasn’t changed much since Bush won authorization from Congress in October 2002 to use force and then invaded Iraq in March 2003.

Not only are Bush and Cheney still in office – and two of the three remaining presidential candidates, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, voted for the war – but the roster of top Washington journalists remains remarkably intact from five years ago.

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

War, what is it good for? Electing Democrats

Writing in the Guardian, Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill throw cold water on the idea that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton are committed to anything other than a Bush-lite (at best) foreign policy:
For the first time in 14 years, weapons manufacturers are donating more to Democrats than to Republicans. The Democrats have received 52% of the defence industry's political donations in this election cycle - up from a low of 32% in 1996. That money is about shaping foreign policy and, so far, it appears to be well spent.

While Clinton and Obama denounce the war with great passion, they both have detailed plans to continue it. Both say they intend to maintain the massive green zone, including the monstrous US embassy, and to retain US control of Baghdad airport.

They will have a "strike force" to engage in counter-terrorism, as well as trainers for the Iraqi military. Beyond these US forces, the army of green zone diplomats will require heavily armed security details, which are currently provided by Blackwater and other private security companies. At present there are as many private contractors supporting the occupation as there are soldiers, so these plans could mean tens of thousands of US personnel entrenched for the future.
After the performance of Democrats in Congress over the past year and half, one would think anti-war activists would not need to be reminded that the Democratic Party is more than happy to take their votes while continuing the US imperial mission abroad, albeit with a kinder, gentler face (not that that matters to an Iraqi parent who has had a son or daughter liberated by an American "smart bomb").

As a congressional correspondent at the time Democrats took back the Congress in November '06, I remember House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boldly declaring that she would end the dastardly war in Iraq, while coldly calculating to do no such thing. After all, doing something proactive to end the war -- like cutting the funding, as Congress has the full authority to do -- would open up Democrats to claims that they are "weak" and pacifistic.

Meanwhile, allowing "Bush's war" in Iraq to continue, and to actually expand, would allow the donkeys to come galloping back to the White House in '08 on a platform of opposing the war, or so the thinking of the Democratic leadership goes.

The lack of change -- there's that word again! -- brought about by the Democratic takeover of Congress was perhaps best described not by some some anti-war activist like Cindy Sheehan, but by Republican congressman Paul Ryan at a hearing I attended in October:
[Since Democrats took over Congress] we’ve heard comparisons about how much we are spending on the war as opposed to children’s health insurance or education programs, or what have you. But nothing has really changed. The President continues to send his war funding requests to the Hill, and in the end, he continues to get what he asks for.
Now, Klein and Scahill argue that anti-war voters should use their electoral power to force Clinton and Obama to adopt a more strident stand against the occupation of Iraq. That might be all well and good, but if neither of them feel comfortable calling for a complete withdrawal now, when a good 70% of the American public opposes the war, then they probably never will. Instead, the public will continue to get glorious sound-bites about "bringing the troops home" -- always short on specifics -- and the occupation will continue to one degree or another, regardless of who wins the White House.

And you know what? Anti-war voters will probably fall for it. After all, the Democratic nominee -- if there ever is one -- will be running against John "100 years in Iraq" McCain, and as someone like Rahm Emmanuel might ask, "what're you gonna do, vote Republican?"

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Interview with Ron Paul

Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) may now be winding down his campaign for president, but when I first spoke with him last year he was just getting started. The following interview, conducted on January 16th, 2007, just off the floor of the House of Representatives, I believe was in fact the first interview with the Congressman following the news that he was forming an exploratory committee and considering a presidential run. The interview also happened to take place right after President Bush announced the so-called "surge" in Iraq, which provides an interesting starting point for the conversation.

In hindsight, several of Congressman Paul's comments turned out to be rather prescient, such as his prediction that the Internet would allow him to get his message out to an untapped segment of the population that would be receptive to his libertarian message.

My favorite part? His characterization of the current Republican Party as having been taken over by promoters of "big government, corporate interests, and warmongering."

Anyway, go ahead and check it for yourself:

Friday, March 21, 2008

In Defense of Barack Obama

I've been a critic of the cult of Obama as much as anyone, and not because of anything particular the man has done, but because I don't think it's wise to invest much faith in a politician, no matter how many times they may mention "change" or "hope" in their stump speech. That said, the made-for-TV pseudo-controversy over the comments his pastor Jeremiah Wright has made over the past few years is completely unwarranted (but nonetheless predictable), and demonstrative of how the media attempts to stifle any actual discussion of the realities of life in America. Unless your politics fall in somewhere between Newt Gingrich and Joe Lieberman, you are more or less a radical extremist in the eyes of our elite media outlets. Just ask Ron Paul.

By now you have probably seen Wright's sermons -- or at least the four second excerpts the cable news airheads will allow on television. And if you rely on these tabloid news outlets for your information, then you've probably already come to the conclusion that Wright not only hates white people, but he hates America (I addressed the phenomenon of so many Americans "hating" America two years ago).

Of course, that's what the kids these days refer to as "bullshit".

Wright's only crime is stating uncomfortable truths in an inflammatory manner. You know what? The United States government has imprisoned an incredibly large number of African Americans in the name of a failing crusade against drugs (I reported on the racist aspects of the war on drugs for Oklahoma Public Radio last year) -- part of the reason why this country leads the world in the number of people it imprisons. Not to mention the fact that the CIA looked the other way while its dear friends the Contras smuggled cocaine into the United States in order to finance its vicious war in Nicaragua. Of course, pointing out that the U.S. government has been less than angelic, particularly in regard to its killing of poor foreigners, is an unspeakable truth -- which explains the current two minute hate against Wright.

That said, there are still people out there who are willing to look at what the man has actually said before condemning him to Guantanamo. And surprisingly, some actually work for the aforementioned tabloid news outlets, such as CNN contributor Roland Martin:
As this whole sordid episode regarding the sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has played out over the last week, I wanted to understand what he ACTUALLY said in this speech. I’ve been saying all week on CNN that context is important, and I just wanted to know what the heck is going on.
Amazing, right? Martin does a public service by providing the actual contents of Wright's now infamous post-9/11 speech, in which he dares to mention that the United States government has killed a whole hell of a lot of people. An excerpt:

“I heard [former U.S. Iraq] Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

“We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

“We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

“We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

“We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

“We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

“We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

“Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

The audacity of the man! To think, a Christian pastor preaching that "an eye for an eye" only begets violence, and that the United States should treat others as it wishes to be treated.

Why, he ought to be crucified.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama Derangement Syndrome

One of the more peculiar (and least convincing) arguments for a Barack Obama presidency is that the mere election of a non-white president would somehow eliminate the animosity much of the world has for the United States. Electing Obama, the argument goes, would show that the United States is not just run by warmongering, rich, old white men (it is), and, as Israeli writer Igal Moria argues, would "rekindle global faith in America's basic goodness":
America is perceived as a threat to traditional tribal and religious values, as an enemy of indigenous cultures, and a menace to the environment. This disillusion with America - and, by proxy, with modernity – pushes youngsters to follow extremist leaders who give them a much-craved for sense of worth in a world that otherwise relegates them to underdog status.

This is why the candidacy of Barack Obama is so promising. Obama is, indeed, an audaciously hopeful human being who exudes positivity and shuns cynicism. Just as he is inspiring the American young to embrace the political process or reaching across racial and political divides, I believe that he will also be able to rekindle in the hearts of many the belief in the basic goodness of America.

Put yourself in the shoes of a youngster in Africa, Iraq or Indonesia: can you imagine what effect it would have to see the non-white face of Obama –of Barack Hussein Obama - as the figurehead of the United States? Do you know how vital it would be for the psychology of youngsters in the developing world to be infected by the relentless positivity that Obama exudes? Do you think Hillary Clinton's image and message would have the same effect? Or McCain's?

Not by a long shot. Only Obama can re-inspire the lost confidence in America. And every youngster inspired by Obama is one less potential recruit for Osama.
The idea that electing someone like Obama would erase the world's memory of the United States' actions over the past, say, 60 years, is not only ludicrous, but it also assumes that the rest of the world's attention span is as short as, well, the typical American's. The simple fact is that, more often than not, Barack Obama supports a continuation of the same foreign policy which has engendered so much hatred toward the United States in the developing world. I seriously doubt that the average person outside of America (that area known as, "Not America", as I like to call it) dislikes the United States because its leaders lack "relentless positivity" when they order the invasion of poor, third world nations. And I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'd venture to say that I don't think it matters to the average man or woman in countries such as Iraq or Iran whether the leader of the United States orders their country to be bombed or embargoed while wearing a smile or a sneer. I know it might sound crazy, but I think they probably would dislike the fact that their friends and loved ones are being killed by the U.S. war machine, regardless.

Daniel Larison of The American Conservative, who has made critiquing the church of Obama something of a hobby, has more to say on the topic:
This is a huge assumption that Obama fans often make about the man's potential to change foreign perceptions of America, which seems to require that you believe that foreign perceptions of America are driven almost entirely by superficial and symbolic things and that the problem with America's reputation is not what our government has done in our name but rather with the packaging of America. This is the Bush administration's argument that the problem is not content, but marketing, not policy, but "getting the message out" that we are all swell and friendly. Obama's virtue, then, is that he will show the world that Americans are actually swell and friendly, so they will immediately drop whatever objections they may have to the (as they see it) baneful cultural influences of Americanisation or the forcible export of democracy or U.S. hegemony in their region. This is crazy. Mr. Bush gave us Karen Hughes to run a public relations campaign in lieu of real public diplomacy; the Obama fans present Obama as a more appealing Karen Hughes.
Amen. Read the rest here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lack of Self-Awareness Watch

As the post below mentions, I recently saw former NY Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer speak at an event about the folly of attacking Iran. As I reported for IPS:
[S]peakers at the forum urged attendees to lobby their members of Congress to support legislation urging President Bush to engage Iran in direct and unconditional negotiations.

"I think if we passed that bill tomorrow, probably Bush would name [Vice President] Dick Cheney as his ambassador," said Kinzer. "Nonetheless, I think it would be a great symbol, a great sign, that Congress doesn't really want this military option."
Now, of course, comes news that President Bush plans to do just that:
President Bush, dispatching Vice President Dick Cheney to the Middle East, said the goal is to get Israelis and Palestinians to hold firm to the promises they've made toward peace.

Bush said Monday in the Oval Office that Cheney would "reassure people that the United States is committed to a vision of peace in the Middle East."

Because if there's anyone who can put an end to the generations-long violence and bring peace to the Middle East, it's Dick Cheney...

"The Folly of an Attack on Iran"

Last week I attended an event here in Washington, DC, organized by the group Just Foreign Policy focusing on the need for direct, unconditional negotiations with Iran. The speakers included Representative Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), former NY Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer (and author of the excellent book Overthrow), and William Nitze, a former State Department official under Presidents Reagan and Bush (the first).

I filed a piece on the event and the broader issue of U.S.-Iranian relations for Inter Press Service, which you can find here.

An excerpt:
The overthrow of Mossadeq, followed by the successive support of six different U.S. presidents for the repressive dictatorship of the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, directly led to the Islamic revolution that brought the current Iranian government to power, argued Kinzer. Further, that revolution in part led the United States to provide military support for Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran in the 1980s -- a conflict that cost upwards of one million lives.

"The great lesson that I draw from this is that when you violently intervene in the political development of another country, you can never predict what the long-term consequences will be. And most likely, although the consequences will be terrible and tragic for the target country, they will be even worse for the country that launched the intervention," said Kinzer.

"The same thing will be true if we fail to learn this lesson and launch an attack on Iran now," he added.

Other speakers suggested that though the NIE seems to have diminished the chances of an attack on Iran in the next 10 months, efforts still need to be made to push the issue of rapprochement with Iran onto the agenda of the next U.S. president.

"Neither Senator [Hillary] Clinton nor Senator [Barack] Obama has seen fit to openly discuss this issue" of dialogue with Iran, said William Nitze, a former State Department official under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "And I think part of that has to do, frankly, with what they perceive -- not correctly, in my view -- as the interests of Israel and its supporters in the United States."

Though Democrats have criticised President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, many have echoed the administration's hawkish rhetoric when it comes to Iran. One recent Democratic-sponsored resolution which passed overwhelmingly called for the United Nations to indict Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for "inciting genocide" because of his anti-Israel rhetoric.

And last year, after further tightening economic sanctions against Iran, Democrats in Congress removed a provision in an Iraq war spending bill that would have forbidden an attack on Iran without congressional approval. The measure was removed after intense lobbying from groups such as the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, an influential lobbying group that is seen as supporting policies in line with Israel's right-wing Likud Party.

"It would be a disaster for Israel if the United States took military action against Iran, because it would fundamentally weaken the United States and it would fundamentally weaken Israel's position in the Middle East," argued Nitze. "But nobody in the political horizon, including on the Democratic side of the aisle, has been willing to say this."

UPDATE: has also picked up my piece, which you can access here.

UPDATE II: I see that has also picked up the article, so go ahead and read it for the third time here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Plagiarists Please Apply

So just how desperate for content can the National Ledger be? That's what I'm wondering after heading over to their site earlier today to see if they had done anything to address the blatant plagiarism engaged in by one of their authors -- a Mr. Vincent Gioia, a retired patent attorney and apparent former president of the American Rose Society. As I noted in an earlier post, I discovered that Mr. Gioia plagiarized a recent article on the Energy Independence and Security Act by using a newfound technological breakthrough that we journalists like to use: the Google.

Now, after thanking me for bringing the plagiarism to his attention, National Ledger editor CK Rairden told me three days ago that "we will deal with the matter". So, how did he deal with it? By publishing Mr. Gioia -- again -- this time so that he can rail against "global warming zealots", like those, apparently, who think global warming is a real phenomena. I guess I shouldn't expect much from a conservative tabloid site that runs plagiarists right alongside breathless "news" articles about naked teen starlets -- but, damn it, I do.

Again, I ask: Is there really such a dearth of Republican hackery that the National Ledger need publish people like Vincent Gioia to pass off the work of others as their own?


Monday, March 03, 2008

Article on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

My latest article for Inter Press Service, regarding the U.S.-Colombian free trade agreement and the opposition its engendered from organized labor is now online.

An excerpt:
Despite the continued violence, Colombia has benefitted from increased trade with the United States over the past several years. Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1991 and recently extended another 10 months, the Andean Trade Preferences Act, under which tariffs on most exports from Colombia coming into the United States are removed, has increased employment and boosted Colombia's economy. Last year, Colombian exports to the United States totaled nearly 9.4 billion dollars -- mostly in the form of crude oil, coal, and flowers -- up from less than 3.0 billion dollars when the preferences were first enacted.

But Colombian labour leaders and independent observers say the increased trade has not led to much improvement in the status of workers' rights. A 2006 U.S. State Department report on Colombia found that "freedom of association [is] limited in practice by threats and acts of violence committed by illegal armed groups" against labour unions, and noted that Colombian NGOs often complain that the government has "arbitrarily detained hundreds of persons, particularly social leaders, labour activists, and human rights defenders".

Last year, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based fruit giant Chiquita was ordered by a U.S. federal court to pay a 25-million-dollar fine after executives at the company were found to have authorised payments to the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, a violent right-wing paramilitary group linked to labour violence. According to Vasquez, his organisation has found that the Chiquita case may only scrape the surface of the extent to which U.S. corporations have supported violence against organised labour.

"[T]here are other American transnational enterprises, for example Dole and Del Monte, in which we began to see evidence appearing of their links to these paramilitary groups and to anti-union violence," Vasquez said.

Those links were the focus of a recent trip to Colombia by Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat. Speaking to IPS, Delahunt would not say whether he discovered anything in Colombia implicating other U.S. corporations. "I really don't want to disclose that at this point in time... but yes, it was very productive, it was significant," he said.

Violence directed against unions and the role some U.S. corporations have played in supporting it is an important aspect of the debate over the FTA, say labour activists, but it is far from the only one.

"Even if Colombia had a sterling record on human rights, if there were no assassinations of trade unionists, the Colombia free trade agreement would still be a bad idea," said Economic Policy Institute global policy director Tony Avirgan.

"These agreements provide for the extension of patents and [intellectual] property rights, particularly in terms of medicines, that go way beyond what's provided for in the United States," Avirgan said.

"They should be called corporate rights' agreements rather than free trade agreements," he argued. "It's a misnomer because they're not much about the exchange of goods, but they are about empowering corporations."

Plagiarism and Conservative Media

Is there something intrinsic to mainstream conservatism that causes it to so often lend itself to misrepresenting the work of others as one's own? Though I ask in jest, whether it's an aide to President Bush resigning after getting caught plagiarizing college journalists or the White House itself stealing the term "enhanced interrogation" from the Nazis, it certainly seems like Republicans have had the plagiarism market fairly well cornered as of late.

Just today, while doing some research on the "Energy Independence and Security Act", I discovered some more right-wing plagiarism, this time at a conservative news site called The National Ledger. It seems a writer by the name of Vincent Gioia, a self-described retired patent attorney, didn't feel like writing a whole article on the energy bill on his own -- so it he just stole an article from Fox News.

In his March 2nd piece, Gioia writes:
A little-noticed provision of the ironically named "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last December bars the federal government from purchasing fuels whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are greater than those from fuels produced from conventional petroleum sources.
Now, from a column by Steven Milloy at Fox News:
A little-noticed provision of the ironically named "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last December bars the federal government from purchasing fuels whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are greater than those from fuels produced from conventional petroleum sources.
Sound a little familiar? It continues. From Gioia:
The Financial Times in its February 15th edition noticed that section 526 of the energy bill prohibits the federal government from buying oil that was produced from Canadian tar sands, a reserve that holds about two-thirds the amount of recoverable oil as compared to reserves in Saudi Arabia.
Now compare, again, with Milloy's column:
The Financial Times article reported on how section 526 of the energy bill prohibits the federal government from buying oil that was produced from Canadian tar sands, a reserve that holds about two-thirds the amount of recoverable oil as compared to reserves in Saudi Arabia.
In the final example, while speaking of how Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) are looking to force the Pentagon to comply with the aforementioned measure, note how Gioia deftly attempts to cover up his lack of original material:

Waxman and Davis apparently expect the military to take on the impossible task of tracing the source of the fuel it purchases and then to refuse North American oil from unconventional sources apparently in favor of oil from OPEC sources such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. How’s that for energy independence and security?
Now compare with the original:

Waxman and Davis apparently expect the military to expend the Herculean effort of tracing the source of the fuel it purchases and then to refuse North American oil from unconventional sources apparently in favor of oil from OPEC sources such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. How’s that for energy independence and security?
Clearly there's no question that this is a case of plagiarism. So has National Ledger taken the offending article off its site and issued an apology? Why, of course not. After I pointed out Mr. Gioia's "borrowing" of Mr. Malloy's column, the editors at the site have taken the article off of their homepage -- but not their site. And they continue to host a whole slew of articles by the same plagiarist, though it's uncertain how much of these articles the author wrote himself versus how much he borrowed from more talented, established columnists.

The moral? That apparently, in the age of Google, some people still are so brazen (and incapable of writing their own material) that they'll blatantly steal from others -- and that their publishers will simply try to cover for them.

If you have a minute or two to spare, feel free to go here and tell the editors of The National Ledger that you prefer your right-wing talking points to be original, thank you very much.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

He's Back

I'm speaking of Ralph Nader, of course. His decision has already provoked the expected whining from the partisan Democratic types, including former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt:
People can disagree about whether the corrective leader is Clinton, McCain or Obama, yet all but extreme, angry, illogical, and utterly estranged people will agree that Nader has no business again trying to tilt an election in a divided country to someone with whom he surely disagrees, namely, John McCain. So why is the press covering him?
Got that? Only the most "extreme, angry, illogical, and utterly estranged people" could view Nader as anything other than the devil incarnate. Leave it to a former top Clinton bureaucrat to be so sure (and full) of themselves that they can write such partisan tripe. And he continues:
[T]he media should ignore him consistently and firmly. He has no measurable support. He has no credibility on issues. He does not deserve to be on Meet the Press; he does not deserve press coverage of any kind. Only if and when polls show he has a few percent of support might he plausibly deserve mention.
Right, because the media dedicates so much print and airtime to alternative points of view as it is. Why, we can't let our coverage of Britney Spears' crotch give way to actual intellectual discussion or coverage of the likes of Ralph Nader or Scott Ritter, or any number of others who question the establishment bipartisan consensus. For the former chief regulator of the public airwaves to adopt the tone of a high school principal while admonishing disobedient reporters for covering anyone outside of the major two parties is revealing, if not at all surprising.

As a commentator at another site pointed out, being a mainstream partisan Democrat means believing two contradictory things simultaneously: that George Bush stole the 2000 election from Al Gore, and that Ralph Nader is a "spoiler" who cost Gore the election. Then again, one shouldn't expect consistency from people who view the world through partisan eyes, whether as a member of the Blue team or the Red team, and certainly not from the likes of Reed Hundt, who owe their careers to their commitment to partisanship.

Republicans in the late 1990s screamed bloody murder when Clinton bombed Serbia, adopting the most strident of non-interventionist rhetoric. Of course before that time and certainly since, the same Republicans have endorsed bombing everywhere from Tehran to Paris with nary a concern about "policing the world." And the Democrats have, clearly, been no better. Commitment to principle flies out the door when it's your team in power.

Anyway, rather than vilify Nader or accept Mr. Hundt's directive that I dare not speak his name for fear I will be visited by the ghost of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and led on a journey to a mythical Gore-Lieberman (that second name is, conveniently, often dropped by Mr. Nader's Democratic critics) White House, why not just let the man speak for himself? Or channelling Mike Gravel/John Lennon on "partisan censorship", why won't you let Nader say what he wants to say (power to the people)?

So for all of you committed partisans out there, here he is from last Sunday's Meet The Press: