Friday, July 20, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #66 - Part 2

Clarabell Award: CNN hypes Iranian missiles

The Clarabell Award, which has become a regular feature of Left Side of the Aisle, is given for that week's act of Truly Meritorious Stupidity. This week, however, there was just too much stupidity; maybe it's the heat or something. In any event, I couldn't pick one. So I have a winner plus two runners-up.

The second runner-up comes about as the result of an article in Esquire magazine by Tom Junod entitled “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama.” It's about the Obama administration reserving to itself the right to create kill lists without oversight, outside input, any minimal transparency, or even acknowledgment about these policies even when they target and kill innocent people. I've talked about this issue several times.

Junod said in response to the article, he received a telephone call from someone he describes as “a person with intimate knowledge of the executive counter-terrorism policies of the Obama administration.” State secrecy, the man on the phone said, exists to protect two essential things: the sources and methods of the intelligence community (an assertion which is not under challenge and is irrelevant to the issue), and something he called "the requirement of non-acknowledgement." State secrecy, that is, is vital because it enables the government to lie through its teeth to everyone, including the US public. The state must be able to keep things secret so that the state can keep things secret.

That's like someone proving the sky is green by saying it must be green because it's the sky and the sky is green, therefore, the sky is green. How more clownish can you get?

Well, maybe this much more, our first runner-up. Witless Romney has been struggling to explain how it is that, according to him, he had no connection to Bain Capital after 1999 even though documents over the following three years list him as CEO, Chairman, President, and sole stockholder of the company and show that he took a six-figure salary, signed corporate documents related to major and minor deals, and attended board meetings for at least two Bain-affiliated companies.

On July 15, senior campaign adviser Ed Gillespie went on CNN’s “State of the Union” and took another shot at climbing out of this deepening hole but instead produced this gem of clownishness: "He [that is, Romney] took a leave of absence [in 1999] and in fact he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to 1999 as a result."

Got that? He "retroactively retired." What a great concept. "Gee officer, sorry but you can't give me a speeding ticket. I retroactively turned off this road a mile back so I'm not actually here." "Retired retroactively." A phrase that will outlive its clown originator.

Okay, now here's this week's winner of the Clarabell Award for Truly Meritorious Stupidity. I gave this the award because of the importance of the issue.

To start, you need to know that the Pentagon is sending the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis to the Persian Gulf region four months ahead of schedule and intends for it to be there twice as long as originally planned. There is ongoing, even increasing, tension in the region as Israel threatens pre-emptive airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, Iran responds by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and US officials continue to make dark references to "Iran’s nuclear weapons program" even though our own intelligence agencies say there isn't one.

Late last week, on CNN’s The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer reported on what he described as “an ominous new warning coming in from the Pentagon" about Iran's missile program. It turned out that the "ominous new warning" was actually an unsubstantiated Pentagon claim - the Pentagon being the people I call The Fear Merchants - from three years ago.

But this is the award winner. Blitzer then turned to CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, a guy named Chris Lawrence, who dutifully parroted the Pentagon claims about how Iranian missiles are getting more accurate and more deadly and then said this:
Iran already has a missile that could reach the US if it could put it on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline.
What the hell kind of argument is that? I have a rock I could throw all the way to Iran if I could get to within 100 feet of its border. How incredibly clownish is that argument? Especially considering that back in November, when Iranian leaders were boasting about their navy, the Pentagon mocked idea that the Iranian navy could get anywhere near the us - and CNN obediently quoted its "experts" ridiculing the very notion that now the network finds so threatening.

CNN: not only clowns, clowns in service to those pushing us to another insane war.


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