Tuesday, June 28, 2005

News from the front

I have no idea how the news editors allowed this to slip into the Tuesday NYT. It was buried deep, yes, but its mere presence is noteworthy (hat tip: Tom Maguire via Instapundit). An excerpt:

Senators Laud Treatment of Detainees in Guantánamo

Published: June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 27 - Senators from both sides of the aisle competed on Monday to extol the humane treatment of detainees whom they said they saw on a weekend trip to the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. All said they opposed closing the center.

"I feel very good" about the detainees' treatment, Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said.

That feeling was also expressed by another Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

On Monday, Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, said he learned while visiting Guantánamo that some detainees "even have air-conditioning and semiprivate showers."

Another Republican, Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, said soldiers and sailors at the camp "get more abuse from the detainees than they give to the detainees."

In the last month, several senators, including some Republicans, have suggested that Congress should investigate reports of abuses at the detention center or that the military should close it to remove a blot on the country's image.

One senator, Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, has come under criticism and apologized repeatedly for comparing reported abuses at the camps to treatment in Soviet gulags or Nazi concentration camps.

[End exceprt]

As Glenn (among many others) has noted before, the biggest health danger for these captured terrorists seems to be overeating.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Instant Classic

Well, that one cetainly has to go down as one of the great Finals (or any other NBA) game ever.

What a fascinating dichotomy. On the one hand, you had Horry, the guy whose career has been defined by being the man among boys in the clutch in big games. And on the other you had Duncan, who has spent his career disappearing in those kinds of situations, shiveling like a raisin in the desert. The irresistable force of Rob's clutch play vs the immovable object of Timmy's. It was amazing to watch, and you had to know by the last minute or two of regulation that whether the Spurs won or lost would be decided by whether or not they allowed Horry to carry them to the win or instead put it in somebody else's quivering hands.

Which begs the question...what the hell were they thinking running the last regulation play for Ginobili? You had one guy who craves the ball right then and four who don't want any part of it. Drive, kick, and go home happy, but they somehow forgot option one and almost lost the game as a result. To their credit, they learned from their mistake and knew what to do in an even worse situation later.

One final bit of fascination here...the fate of the Spurs season, and indeed the NBA title, came down to the result of one Robert Horry three pointer in two of the last three years. To the Spurs great fortune, they ended up on the right side of both.

Friday, June 10, 2005

An earlier "Watergate"

I’m only mildly surprised that I had never heard about LBJ’s illegal activities during the 1964 presidential campaign, which would have made the Nixon administration blush. After all, major media dissent from the party line was mostly silenced even one decade ago, much less four, and this is surely not aimed at a proper target to warrant inclusion in most contemporary history texts. Nonetheless, it is fascinating that Nixon is somewhat defined by Watergate and similar or worse indiscretions by others have been largely ignored. The article below originally appeared here.


Johnson’s “Watergate”
LBJ vs. Goldwater.

By Lee Edwards
It was a political scandal of unprecedented proportions: the deliberate, systematic, and illegal misuse of the FBI and the CIA by the White House in a presidential campaign. The massive black-bag operations, bordering on the unconstitutional and therefore calling for impeachment, were personally approved by the president. They included planting a CIA spy in his opponent's campaign committee, wiretaps on his opponent's top political aides, illegal FBI checks, and the bugging of his opponent's campaign airplane.

The president? Lyndon B. Johnson. The target? Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate.

Here are three examples of a presidential abuse of power for political purposes that constitute an even graver offense than Watergate.

In the fall of 1964, the White House turned to the CIA to get advance inside information about the Goldwater campaign, although the senator could hardly be described as a "domestic enemy" (the only valid excuse for agency action). E. Howard Hunt, later convicted for his part in the Watergate break-in, told a congressional committee a decade later that he was ordered to spy on Goldwater's headquarters. He said that President Johnson "had ordered this activity" and that White House aide Chester L. Cooper "would be the recipient of the information."
CIA Director William Colby admitted that Cooper prepared campaign material for Johnson and obtained advance texts of Goldwater speeches through a "woman secretary," clearly suggesting that the agency planted someone inside the Goldwater campaign organization.

The Democrats constantly used the covertly obtained information to undercut Goldwater initiatives. In early September, for example, the Goldwater campaign announced the formation of a Task Force on Peace and Freedom that the AP described as one of the most "unusual tactics in the history of American politics." Three hours before the Goldwater task force was unveiled, the White House announced that President Johnson had created a 16-member panel of leading authorities to consult with him on international problems. The White House announcement trumped the Goldwater plan. Democratic campaign speechwriter John Roche revealed that he and his colleagues got advance texts of Goldwater's major speeches. "When I innocently inquired how we got them," Roche said, "the reply was 'don't ask.'"

Goldwater's regional political directors were convinced that the telephones of the Republican national headquarters in Washington were bugged. At one private meeting aides discussed the possibility of a campaign stop by Goldwater in the Chicago area. Midwest director Sam Hay called the Republican chairman of Cook County, who agreed it was a good idea but promised to keep the trip confidential. Within the hour, a reporter called to say that he had heard Goldwater would be coming to town and wanted the details.

Senator Goldwater recalled that two correspondents once questioned him about a proposal not yet made public: that if elected, he would send Eisenhower to Vietnam to examine the situation and report back to him. Goldwater insisted he discussed the Eisenhower mission with only two members of his personal staff, but the two reporters swear they heard about it at the Johnson White House.

Most disturbing of all was the FBI's bugging of the Goldwater campaign plane where the senator and his inner circle often made their most confidential decisions. The bureau's illegal surveillance was confirmed by Robert Mardian, when he was an assistant attorney general in Nixon's first term.

During a two-hour conversation with J. Edgar Hoover in early 1971, Mardian asked about the procedures of electronic surveillance. To Mardian's amazement, Hoover revealed that in 1964 the FBI, on orders from the Oval Office, had bugged the Goldwater plane. Asked to explain the blatantly illegal action, Hoover said, "You do what the president of the United States orders you to do." William C. Sullivan, the bureau's number two man, confirmed to Mardian the spying operation against the Goldwater campaign.

Why did President Johnson order the Anti-Goldwater Campaign and illegally use both the CIA and the FBI as his personal political instruments? All the polls agreed he would win and by a handsome margin. But Johnson wanted the mother of all political landslides, eclipsing FDR's record presidential victory in 1936 and at the same time burying six feet deep Barry Goldwater and American conservatism. Johnson nearly succeeded in the first objective, receiving 61.5 percent of the popular vote, but miserably failed in the second.

Of all the men who have run for and lost the presidency in modern times, only Barry Goldwater and the central themes of his campaign were vindicated so quickly. Reviled and rejected in 1964 as no other presidential candidate in the 20th century, Goldwater was easily reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1968 while the president who had won by one of the largest margins in presidential politics dared not seek reelection. Just twelve years later, the Great Society was exposed as a trillion-dollar bust and Ronald Reagan, an unabashed conservative, became our 40th president.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cool new stuff

What a week, as new CDs from the White Stripes and Coldplay as well as The Sopranos season 5 DVD set hit the shelves today. If you managed to keep yourself out of your local Best Buy or whatever, you are the ultimate unconsumer.