December 20, 2007

Col. Addington, in the EOVP, with the lead pipe ...

David Kurtz at TPM deduces, from this AP article quasi-exonerating Abu Gonzales in the CIA torture tape destruction, that "Cheney's Cheney's Cheney" Addington is likely the onliest culpable subject left in the decision tree.

Now, of course any real intel/foreign-policy decision in the Bush Admin is ultimately going to leave a slime trail leading back to Cheney's office.

That said, it still seems clear to the Confidence Man that our earlier speculation regarding the proximate motivation for destroying the torture tapes was, as we say, right on the squirrel: to wit, that Cheney/Addington/Libby determined that the tapes should be destroyed only when it seemed as if Pat Fitzgerald might (advertently or not) have been close to discovering the tapes during his prosecution of Libby.

(We might speculate further that the tapes themselves could likely include visual evidence of Cheney, Addington, and/or Bush actually being present for some of the interrogations. But that would be irresponsible.)

December 11, 2007

The CIA torture tapes and the Libby prosecution

Reading today's NYT account of CIA counsel's apparent advance approval of the destruction of the CIA torture tapes, I was struck by the timing of the decision.

The tapes were apparently destroyed in November 2005.

Now, as the Confidence Man wades through this vale of tears, looking backward becomes more and more problematic. But it seems as if I recall some sort of legal-political firestorm around that time, and that it centered on tacit Executive-level approval of the dissemination of classified CIA information. Hmmm ... what was going on then ... then ... then ... then ... < cue wavy flashback effect >

Uh, this was going on then.

That's right: Scooter was indicted in October 2005; the CIA (and, likely, folks in the Exective Branch) decided it should obnstruct justice and destroy evidence immediately thereafter.

It's. All. About. Protecting. Cheney.

(And, to a lesser degree, Chimpy McFlightsuit.)

December 10, 2007

Did Rudy Giuliani just out himself to Tim Russert?

Via Andrew Sullivan, the clip of 9iul1an1 on MTP yesterday:

Now, everyone seems to be focusing on 9iul1an1's nervous, giggling meltdown and his inability to parry Russert's flaccid thrusts. And that's all to the good.

But I want to focus on something strange.

At the 3:45 mark, Russert starts in on a recitation of Huckabee's anti-Teh Gay bona fides, and tries to box 9iul1an1 into alienating Teh Base by defending his Sodomitic Heritage as a Rootless Cosmopolitan.

9iul1an1 responds by being fair to the Huckster and refusing to take the bait. He then makes an odd parsing of Catholic dogma regarding ass-fucking and segues clumsily into the "hate the sin, not the sinner" shibboleth -- and he does specifically invoke "sin": "It's the acts -- it's the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the orientation that they have."

Then, as Russert tries to move on, 9iul1an1 can't leave well enough alone, and cuts Russert off: "Which includes me, by the way."

To be sure, he then stammers, continues, and tries to contextualize his odd (and oddly insistent -- Russert clearly didn't get what he was aiming for, and was trying to move on) segue: "Unfortunately, I've had my own sins that I've had to confess and deal with and try to overcome. And so, I'm very very empathatic with people. We're all imperfect human beings, struggling to try to be better."

9iul1an1 trying to "do" humility is itself a transparent charade (and also, in this context, a weird decision itself, as he's clearly trying to squeeze in between the aw-Hucks man-o'-Gawditude and the clumsy-Mitted deployment of vague theologisms). Perhaps his handlers were insistent in the Green Room that 9iul1an1 had to thread the needle this way.

But the manner of 9iul1an1's compulsion to cut Russert off, and to go for the confessional gesture immediately after condemning ass-fucking as a sin, strikes me as a Freudian "tell."

What's more, any Fundie watching that exchange would (even if he knew about 9iul1an1's serial adultery) take it the same way (without the Freud, of course). Here's the sequence: 9iul1an1 deploys the "hate the sin, not the sinner" trope; then he specifically condemns ass-fucking (and its constellation of perversions) as a sin; then, when Father Confessor Tim is clearly done with him and implicitly granting absolution, 9iul1an1 insists that he himself is of that same category of sinner.

This sequence is identical to the prominent Protestant pervert's public confession -- Haggard, Foley, et al. Any religious cultural literate watching 9iul1an1 there will know that he's not confessing to adultery -- he's confessing to sodomy.

Now, that sodomy doesn't necessarily have to be same-gender. But, since 9iul1an1 is being so insistent about it, shouldn't he be asked?

October 12, 2007

AP sacrifices stylebook on the altar of expediency (and/or reactionary politics)

According to the AP's own Stylebook (scroll 2/3 of the way down to "I sometimes read in the newspaper"), shouldn't the object of the headline in this story be "gunyouth"?

Al Gore should now run for ...

Al Gore should now run for ...

... vice president.

Think about it.

With his secular canonization this morning capping off his 7-year public reinvention, Gore is virtually untouchable in the public arena right now.

Yes, he could leverage that into a run at the top spot.

However, being this late to the Party presents a host of difficulties, not least of which would be a disastrous lag in fundraising and committed donors, bundlers, and ”backers.” There’s also the issue that virtually all of the prominent experienced Dem campaign operatives are committed to Clinton, Obama, or Edwards.

Who, exactly, would primarily fund a Gore campaign? Yes, he’d instantly command a surge of small-donor contributions – but that surge wouldn’t be sustainable, unless he has a Deane/DNC-esque database that he’s kept under wraps (a possibility which, of course, isn’t out of the question). He might get some sympathy/consolation cash from the big donors, but they’d all be loath to alienate their primary dance partners.

And who, exactly, would run a Gore campaign? While there’s certainly the snark factor that, given the relative incompetence and feebleness of the contemporary Dem consultancy, having them all committed to working for one’s opponents could be seen as a boon more than as a hindrance, there’s the more immediate practical effect of not having any ground operations in place, let alone national organization for media and messaging. (The tighter clustering of primaries this cycle could potentially mitigate this factor, or could make it all the more crucial. It certainly reduces the chance of picking up the team of an also-ran who quits early in the sequence—in past years, post-Iowa or –New Hampshire.)

Add to the practical challenges the fact that Gore has repeatedly insisted that he’s sick and tired of the dumbing-down and ameliorism necessary to head a national ticket, as well as the practical and ideological concessions and deal-making incumbent on the top of the ticket, and it’s hard to see how running for president in this cycle has any practical or personal appeal to Gore.

But if he were to conduct a sub rosa campaign for the second slot …

Look: none of the current Dem candidates have any value whatsoever as a second banana. All of their value is tied up in their personalities and framing, which would be for all practical purposes eliminated in the second slot. Not to mention the fact that none of the Dems would provide any crossover or appreciable Red-state appeal as the #2. And there really aren’t any other prominent or likely Dems with established national presence who would.

Gore, on the other hand, would be massively valuable as a Dem VP candidate. As the down-ticket option, he’d be freed up to deliver red meat to the Dem base (I guess the more apposite metaphor would be “tofu”), to pitch his messaging as noble and highfalutin’ (or, for that matter, as dirty and street-fightin’) as he wants, and to address his own signature concerns (environment, science/technology, sensible defense) without watering them down. And he’d bring instant cache, credibility, and celebrity that no one else can.

What’s more, in a post-Cheney/Addington administrative political environment (and with burgeoning Dem majorities in Congress), Gore could have an entirely unfettered hand as a sitting VP to definitively act on those signature concerns in ways he never could have in the ’90s. Just as on the campaign trail, in office as vice president he’d be able to narrow his focus – and act and speak as a more direct partisan – in ways that he couldn’t as president.

The way I see it, Gore for the second slot – under any of the first- or second-tier Dem candidates – would be a win-win-win-win situation: for Gore himself, for the Party, for the nation, and for the world.