Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Columnist Jumps The Shark

I've never been that impressed by Bush-hating columnist Molly Ivins, but also never felt strongly enough about her silliness to mock and belittle it... until now.

I think it's a good thing to have people question the government -- keeps people on their toes. But, if one does, they should at least be writing about something that bears some relationship to "The Truth" other than "doesn't reflect it at all". Check out Ivin's latest column; after wrongly trying to equate the Total Information Awareness data-mining program with the NSA comms sorting, she talks about the probable use of the warrantless wiretap authority:

"Then we always get that dreadful goody-two-shoes response, "Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, do you?"
"Folks, we KNOW this program is being and will be misused. We know it from the past record and current reporting. The program has already targeted vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- and, boy, if those aren't outposts of al-Qaida, what is? Could this be more pathetic?
"This could scarcely be clearer. Either the president of the United States is going to have to understand and admit he has done something very wrong, or he will have to be impeached. The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we're up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic?"

Where has anyone said that the program (NSA wiretaps) targeted vegans and PETA? As The Moderate Voice points out, the FBI has apparently been conducting surveillance of some groups, and people can legitimately be concerned about that. But, there's no indication that the NSA has been involved. This is Ivin's problem; she's trying to "connect the dots", but ends up coming across as someone who doesn't understand the difference between COMINT, FBI surveillance, and data-mining. And the Dems wonder, with public spokespeople like this, why people don't trust them on national security? Also, you might note that the FBI tracking of PETA goes back to at least July 2000 -- anyone remember who was in the White House then? (Hint: Bush didn't take office until Jan. 2001).

So, Ivins apparently can't tell the difference between the FBI and NSA. That's OK, though, because she says "we know" this program is being misused. I guess she "knows" it's being misused because she "knew", in a previous column from last week, that the DoD thought Quakers were trying to "overthrow the government", and two "feds" interviewed a Dartmouth student for trying to check out a book:

"Here is a curious fact about the government of this country spying on its citizens: It always goes wrong immediately. For some reason, it's not as though we start with people anyone would regard as suspicious and then somehow slip gradually into spying on the Girl Scouts. We get it wrong from the beginning every time. Never seem to be able to distinguish between a terrorist and a vegetarian.
"The Department of Defense has just proved this yet again with its latest folly of mistaking a flock of Florida Quakers for a threat to overthrow the government. A few months ago, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth tried to check out a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book" and wound up being interviewed by two feds. Cointelpro and all those misbegotten Nixon-era spy programs were always making ludicrous mistakes."

I've discussed before the aim of the DoD database, and it looks like her other piece of information was just a little bit made up. One can do a threat assessment on a group that one doesn't think is trying to "overthrow the government"; in fact, the DoD would have been derelict had they not done so.

If the Democrats hope to remain a viable political force in this country, they and their public voices, like Ivins, really need to start coming up with some actual facts and plans, and avoid this kind of "Bush will take away our freedoms" reflexive nay-saying that frankly makes them look silly. And easy to mock and belittle.

Going deep...

Update 2355 05 Jan: To her credit, Ivins does admit she did confuse the NSA and FBI at the bottom of her latest column; she still doesn't mention buying into the "Homeland Security officers question student" hoax.


Blogger Skippy-san said...

Impeaching Bush is the perennial Democratic fantasy. Had this revelation come out before Sept 11, they might have had some traction with it, now there is not a chance.

The probelm is the Democrats need to grow a pair and realize that they are not going to get either election back. They are going to have to field candidates of stature who can actually lead and call attention to the President's flaws ( which are many) in an organized fashion and get their "stuff" together in Congress to oppose his legislative and wartime agenda ( they are starting to wake up to this I think. which is why this story has a much traction as it does..)

Al Franken has a piece on the impeachment of Bush in his book. They fail to realize that Bush and his cohorts are too smart to get trapped into that.........

12/28/2005 7:17 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Agreed; if they want to win, they need to come up with something positive, rather than the continued negative we've been seeing -- less "I wouldn't do it that way" and more "here's how I would do it". Plus, if they do come up with something like that, they need to stick to their guns. Wasting time pursuing an impeachment probe that won't happen will only drive them further into the minority.

12/28/2005 7:50 AM

Anonymous Byron Audler said...

One reason why the folks on the left hand side of the aisle might have their panties in a bunch: Imagine what NSA might find, if they shined their spotlight on THEM, instead of the bad guys they ARE after. Sort of like roaches and rats running around trying to miss the spotlight...

12/28/2005 11:22 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Byron Audler beat me to pretty much the same comment. What the Dems are really worried about is being caught in their perfidy. If I am not mistaken, the inscrutable Senator Rockefeller from WV, for instance, actually travelled to Iraq for some strange discussions with Saddam prior to the latest war. What (short of patriotism) would make anyone believe sympathetic phone contacts have not been maintained all along by this esteemed member of Senate Intelligence and other Dems who probably have other "connections" to people of former influence?

Nice posting, BH.

12/28/2005 2:33 PM


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