Guest sums it up colorfully and the new anchors apologize

July 13, 2009 | By | 14 Replies More

Firedoglake’s Marcy Wheeler, urging that we should investigate secret operations of the CIA, describes the situation the same way that smart people on the street would describe it.   Then, the anchors fall all over themselves allegedly apologizing for Wheeler and allegedly apologizing for themselves. This is pathetically sanctimonious.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (14)

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  1. Half the reason some of this shit gets investigated and revealed such half-assed a manner usually is because we're so afraid to call things what they are. We then get all exercised about word choice instead of concerning ourselves with the act in question. What if she'd said "oral sex" instead? Does it make any difference? I think her choice of words was quite apropos, directed as it was at the double-standard being touted by her opponent.

    And what's going to hurt the country? Finding out what really happened or letting rumor and innuendo continue to poison public discourse?

  2. Erika Price says:

    Whew. Now that we've taken the heat off of that unspeakable blowjob line, we can go back to making snide "teabagging" comments.

    Why should one euphemism be any worse than another? "Blowjob" and "teabag" are in the same league as far as sexy euphemisms go- both are abstract, humorous representations of an actual sexual act. Does the fact that the "blowjob" in the case actually occurred make it more graphic?

  3. I don't understand why more wasn't said about the cigars. Sometimes a cigar is more than just a cigar…

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    What is the real obscenity? One mother responds:

    [M]y kids know the real obscenity isn't a euphemism for oral sex, or even that it happened on a cable show in the middle of the afternoon. My kids know that the real obscenities are these:

    * Our country went to war based on lies told by elected and appointed officials;

    * Their brother and the sons/daughters/brothers/sisters of many other families like ours served for this war, came back damaged or dead, for nothing but lies;

    * Their president and vice president lied repeatedly about all manner of things while refusing to accept responsibility for any failures which happened on their watch;

    * Their government was either obstructed during investigations into these lies or simply failed to make any effort to investigate these lies;

    . . .

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Erika: I didn't know that "teabagging" had a sexual meaning. I really didn't have a clue.

  6. Dave Jenkins says:

    The investigation into supposed "war crimes" or violations against the Constitution will ultimately be pointless, as was the witch hunt for what Bill did in the anteroom with one of his own staff. It has nothing to do with the severity of the crime or the immorality of the act, it has to do with the fiendishly one-way nature of time: it only goes forward.

    Pursuit of consequences against any act committed by a politician who has since left office has no teeth, has no punishment, no cost– and therefore has no value. Our justice system is geared toward the shoulder shrug when evidence is inconclusive, and any past political act or decision is murky enough to hide within that inconclusivity. The court of public opinion can attempt to seek some retribution, but– just as Michael Palin found out– arguments are no fun if the other side doesn't want to participate. To wit: once Bush was out of office, the left wing so wanted to add dessert to their victory by pursuing charges– but no right wing wanted to argue anymore. Have you ever tried to bad mouth someone after they were fired? The wise manager doesn't do this, as there is no point, and there is no one left to defend or ever care about their streamlined comrade.

    I would imagine that the Obama administration has done its homework: the impeachment of Clinton did more damage to the GOP; Iran Contra made DEMs look like they hated freedom; no one chased Johnson for the Tonkin after he pledged not to run again, FDR's twisting of the exec powers went nowhere after the war, etc.

    Lame duck or retired politicians make lame duck fights. The democratic party will only burn itself if it pusues this.

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Dave: I agree that there is scant satisfaction to be had by prosecuting the perpetrators now that they are already out of power.

    I would like to see a truth commission with subpoena power, however. I would like to see a comprehensive record made of what went wrong during the Bush Administration. I'd like a clear record made so that we can hopefully learn from these transgressions (I won't say "mistakes") so that we can better avoid these problems in the future.

  8. Dave writes:—"Pursuit of consequences against any act committed by a politician who has since left office has no teeth, has no punishment, no cost– and therefore has no value."

    So in your opinion, the Nuremberg Trials should not have taken place and those convicted out-of-power Nazi politicians should not have been punished? That had zero value?

  9. Dave Jenkins says:

    Mark, with respect to Neuremburg:

    My reading of history and international politics leads me to the opinion that the Neuremburg trials had little to do with actual punishment, but mostly about establishing legitimacy of the victors, and an attempt at establishing a new branch of law: "war crimes" and "international law".

    If the goal was punishment, why not simply take all the nazis out back and hang them? We had been killing nazis by the hundreds only weeks earlier– no one would blink at killing their bosses. If anything, people were baying for blood.

    There was a lot of discussion– and debate– within the US Govt about their attempt at putting nazis on trial: no precident, what was the goal, how to try, and philosophically: are there inherent 'rights' of humanity that are even beyond war that cannot be violated (even in total war)? Neuremburg was the first steps towards "human rights". As such, there was very much at stake, and therefore very much of value to be gained by successful trials. In a certain way, the Allies established more authority and legitimacy in Europe by NOT hanging nazis, but committing them to Spandau prison. The Allies vaulted themselves as 'protectors of human rights', rather than just vengeful victors. Fortunately, it seems, the Allies learned from their mistakes of 1919 Versailles.

  10. Tony Coyle says:

    Dave, Erich: I agree with Mark — "water under the bridge" is perhaps a laudable approach to your personal dealings… but it's a piss poor way to run a country. Public officials should be publicly accountable.

    investigate and follow the investigation where it leads.

    I'm not interested in a politically motivated witch hunt that is simply seeking plausible heads. I'm interested in correcting the egregious wrongs perpetrated during the last administration, and ensuring that current and future officials recognize that the country will seek out and prosecute those who break the law, whomever, wherever, and whenever.

  11. Tony Coyle says:


    I'm confused by your response regarding Nuremberg.

    One one hand you seem to accept that the trials determined that a set of actions were considered significantly "beyond the pale" – their perpetrators were therefore tried and imprisoned.

    What is it that you do not see in the recent blatantly illegal acts of the Bush Administration deserving of similar investigation and trial? Is it simply that these are 'Americans'? Is it that the acts committed and enabled by these people are awfully close to how you yourself would have acted?

    I cannot agree that 'sweeping under the rug' should be a regular policy for the handling of miscreants at any level, never mind in government.

  12. Dave writes:—"If the goal was punishment, why not simply take all the nazis out back and hang them? We had been killing nazis by the hundreds only weeks earlier– no one would blink at killing their bosses. If anything, people were baying for blood."

    It's called Rule of Law and it may in many instances be abused to the point of uselessness but that in no way lessens its importance. Just shooting the Nazis would have made the Allies no better than the Nazis. The war was over, law as a system was being reestablished, the trial was important.

    And there was precedent, at least in the United States—there had been a few "war crimes" trials conducted in the wake of the Civil War, most notably the trial of the commander of a Confederate P.O.W. camp. But you're right, a lot of discussion took place, spurred primarily by the enormity of what had been wrought by the Nazis and their allies, which really did top the charts.

    Nevertheless, establishing a code whereby consequences for illegal and unethical behavior pertain seems to me important if only for the self-image of a civilization. I disagree that it accomplishes nothing.

  13. Dave Jenkins says:

    Tony– please understand that I am not trying to excuse the behaviour of the previous administration, nor am I condemning those who want to pursue the matter. I am speaking as a political scientist and amateur historian in drawing out the point that such witch hunts seldom work, and often backfire. I am only trying to guess the reason why the Obama administration is hesitant to pursue the matter; my statements have nothing to do with my personal feelings left or right.

    Mark– your mention of "Rule of Law" is exactly what I was trying to describe as the goal of Nuremberg: there had been no Rule of Law in previous international total war conflicts, and that was the stated goal of the US State Dept.

    We find ourselves debating this still, as the African despot Charles Taylor sits in the clink awaiting judgement at The Hague on war crimes charges. Taylor has killed no European or American, yet here are a bunch of European and American judges determining his fate (Taylor's a monster and should be put down, don't get me wrong). The only legal framework with any "sovereign consent" on these matters is membership in the UN, and the subsequent determinations of the UN Human Rights Council. Strictly speaking, it's a dangerous intersection (heh) of sovereignty, perceptions of moral authority, and "do as we say not as we do" all around.

    As for the Rule of Law following the Civil War– absolutely: the goal of the Union was to reimpose its sovereignty over those people in the Confederacy. The USG claimed the right to pass judgment, and no one had any ground to challenge that right. International situations are a little more hairy: what gives one country the right to pass judgment on another? Military or Economic superiority? Popularity in the UN? A seat on the Security Council?

  14. NIklaus Pfirsig says:


    Those who fail to learn from past errors are doomed to repeat them. We must hold our leaders accountable for their misdeeds and abuses. The office of the President is technically above the law, which is why we have the ability to impeach a president. Once out of office, the president is fair game.

    However, if an ex-president is deemed to be above the law, then there there are no consequences for any action the president may take. This is the path to a dictatorship.

    And if we fail to hold the others accountable, those who were involved but not in the public spotlight. One must be reminded that they are already making contingency plans and campaign strategies for 2012. It appears that some might work to sabotage economic recovery programs as a strategy to discredit the current administration, and hopefully to engineered a failure of those policies to get people to vote against the incumbents in 2012.

    It appears that many of them truly believe that the ends justifies the means, and that we need a single party government.

    The third reason we need to prosecute and punish those that chose to create policies in direct violations of international law, is for the security of the people. American may be lukewarm to the idea, but to those victimized by the last administration, the credibility and image of the US as citizens of the world is deeply tarnished by the policies of the Bush administration. We have lost the trust of most of the world and with it, our respect. The loss of respect has made th USA the new evil to replaces the USSR, and the actions of our former leadership has lent creedance to our enemies abroad.

    Most importantly, we need our government to be a government for the people, of the people and by the people, and we can't have that when our lawmakers are immune for the laws they make.

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