Some time ago, now Senator Al Franken wrote a book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. I read the book, and found it to be a lousy read as petty, spiteful, and true. You may not agree with his politics or his style, but the one thing you can say about Senator Franken is that he has always valued the truth. On the other hand, I don’t know why anyone actually believes Fox News at all. Because they and their chief liar Bill O’Reilly are at it again! This time, it’s a railroad job against Senator Coburn, who had the audacity to call my Congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, a nice lady, and who said, when talking abut the insane notion of putting people in prison for buying insurance, that “The intention is not to put anybody in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn’t the intention.”
Bill O’Reilly can’t have that, so he claimed, “We researched on Fox News if anybody had ever said you’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance. Nobody’s ever said it.” Guess what? The New York Times did some investigating and found at least six instances where someone on Fox News did say it.
When reporter at the New York Times was caught some months ago for plagiarizing, he was forced to resign and the entire newspaper was shamed. Not so for Fox when they just make stuff up, as apparently they have no shame! And so I think they deserve a new name: The Republican Liars Network (RCN). Not all Republicans are liars, and not all liars are Republicans, but those who choose to believe what they know to be lies, aren’t much better than the liars themselves, especially when they act on that information in the voting booth.
All I can ask is please, Senator Franken, don’t update your book. There’s just too much material.
Update: CNN’s Peter Bergen points out all the flaws in Dick Cheney’s logic here.
Over the last few days there have been a plethora of conservative commentaries that range in their argument from Dick Cheney accusing the Obama administration of a political vendetta to The Wall Street Journal repeatedly arguing that the prosecutions are just wrong headed (such as this one) to Debra J. Saunders in the SF Chronicle, arguing that the employees in question should be pardoned. There are at least two problems with the arguments now appearing on the street:
- In all cases, torturer sympathizers seem to forget that we, the American People, don’t actually know what happened yet. That is what an investigation is for.
- In some cases, the argument seems to be that members of the CIA who were acting on orders should be shielded by the fact they were just following orders. We tried people and convicted them, not withstanding that defense, in Nuremberg. They were known as Nazis. We as a society need to send a message that no one is above the law. It may take years to catch up with people who have been politically shielded from their crimes, but they will be brought to justice.
- According to the CIA, torture has been shown to be unreliable.
That leaves the argument that the current investigation by the Justice Department is politically motivated. I would have to say that if one’s politics require one to believe that torture is illegal and immoral, then the answer is yes. Our morality throughout the world has been called into question. Do we condone the torturing of human beings? What, then, separates us from those we accuse of being evil?
On the other hand, I do not see any evidence that this is some sort of game of political Gotcha. While Debra Saunders writes that General Holder has in the past been inconsistent in his views when it comes to pardons, that means nothing in the context of a factual investigation.
As to Mr. Cheney, let him speak. He may, at best, be shielded by the fact that the vice president cannot order anyone in the executive branch outside his own staff to do anything. He would be the wrong person to go after, anyway. If President Bush ordered a crime to be committed, let him be held accountable, assuming a crime was committed.
The rats are out of the ship, now that Senator McCain has lost. Although they are on all sides of the spectrum, here is an article from CNN that demonstrates just how fast the Family Research Council has started complaining that moderates are to blame, and that Republicans should shift right. While anyone’s 20/20 hindsight is less than interesting, as we discussed prior to McCain’s loss, his problem was that he tried to advance two separate strategies and alienated both of his bases. John McCain did not simply run a moderate race.
Arguably, however, the reckoning will go the other way: President Bush’s administration is about as unpopular AND as far to the right as one could possibly get in America, and John McCain could not run farther from it. As proof, where was President Bush the last month of the campaign? Answer: he was hiding, keeping a low profile, as we previously discussed. Elizabeth Dole, a conservative, lost her seat in the Senate, and Virginia has gone blue.
The fight for the soul of the Republican party is on. Whether they will remain right wing conservative will very much depend not only on how the electorate views the McCain loss, but how President Obama and the economy fares in the first two years.
Why is it that John McCain picked Sarah Palin? The answer lies in how George W. Bush won the presidency. President Bush jumped on a wave of conservative ire aimed at the Democratic Party and President Clinton on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. By driving a convincing message that he would realize the conservative agenda, Bush energized the huge electoral machine of right wing moralists. This shifted the field to the right, and required VP Gore to play a more moderate game than he would have otherwise played, and it just did not ring true to anyone. Bush didn’t really play to the moderates, except to be some sort of compassionate conservative.
McCain argues that he is a moderate, and so he should have played to them. Instead, he tried to play President Bush’s game of driving to the right after the primary was won. The New York Times recently had an article that compares the campaigns to the faux campaigns found in the last two seasons of West Wing. In that series, at one point it is argued that the Republican candidate (Vinick) could wiin ALL fifty states by expanding the moderate base of his party. This is what McCain could have tried to do, but it is not what he did. Instead, he attempted to play to both bases, and he argued neither convincingly. By bringing in Sarah Palin he alienated the center. And it wasn’t enough to sooth the right.
There was no way that George Bush’s strategy would work for John McCain. McCain is also the victim of bad timing, with regard to the economy, an issue about which the public as blamed the Republicans nearly exclusively. Barack Obama, merely has to mention the economy and McCain’s ratings drop. That is vaguely reminiscient of President Clinton’s old slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Were it only the economy, perhaps McCain could have survived. However, the War on Terror also looms like an albatross around the neck of Republicans. People are sick of it. Finally.
And so, before Democrats start to crow too loudly, one should point out that neither of these two problems, the economy or our current geopolitical environment, are simple problems, and both will require serious consideration and absense of hubris to repair.