To publicize his 20/20 special, “Bailouts and Bull,” ABC’s John Stossel went on Sean Hannity’s show that same evening (last night). There were two high (so to speak) points, one involving Stossel and one not.
In a discussion of the mess in Mexico, the following conversation occurred:
Stossel: That’s why we should legalize drugs. That’s our old argument. They’re killing each other because the stuff is illegal.
Hannity: Do you want to walk the same streets as people on crack and heroin?
Stossel: I assume I am. I’m living in New York city. They use it regardless of whether it’s legal or not.
Hannity: Every once in a while you just have to say “Checkmate. I lose.”
Note: I watch Hannity almost every night. This is the first time in a few years that I’ve ever seen him admit that he got bested.
Then Hannity went on to say that it’s people’s own responsibility. Stossel then pointed out that if that’s so, then people should be free to poison themselves. Hannity replied that they hurt other people by committing crime to buy the drugs. Stossel pointed out that the high price of drugs is due to the fact that they’re illegal.
Hannity then almost admitted that another of his pet views was wrong. He and liberal guest Julie Menin, of the Women’s Campaign Forum got into a discussion of waterboarding, which Hannity advocates.
Menin: Evidence has shown that those types of torture tactics [waterboarding] unfortunately do not work.
Hannity: Let me tell you something. If you dunk my head in the water, I’m going to tell you whatever I need to tell you to get–if it’s true–to get out of this.
You could almost see the “whoops” in Hannity’s eyes as he caught himself and added “if it’s true.” Hannity caught himself saying what I think he really thinks, which is what most of us think: we would say anything if doing so would stop someone from torturing us. But then he realized what he had said and so he added, “if it’s true.” If I were being tortured, I wouldn’t care whether what I said was true as long as it ended the torture.
BTW, I thought the Stossel show was one of his best. That’s saying a lot because many of his shows have been high-quality. My one objection was to the economist, whose face I didn’t recognize, who said that the United States will have hyperinflation like Germany’s in the 1920s. I hate it when people super-exaggerate to make a point.
As Justin Raimondo points out in his article this morning, “A Brazen Evil,” noted Israeli scholar Benny Morris wrote an op/ed in Friday’s New York Times, “Using Bombs to Stave Off War,” in which he advocated that the U.S. government or the Israeli government attack Iran. In his op/ed, Morris wrote, “if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war â€” either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.”
Why is this quote so striking? Because Morris implicitly admits that the Israeli government has nuclear weapons, even though that government has never so admitted. In 1986, Mordecai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician, revealed that fact and for his troubles, was kidnapped by the Israeli government, tried for treason in secret, and forced to spend 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement. His treason? Revealing Israel’s nuclear weapons program. It’s true that he violated a non-disclosure agreement, but that’s not treason. Presumably the treason is that he revealed Israel’s nuclear weapons program, with the non-disclosure agreement being irrelevant.
Guess what? In last Friday’s New York Times, Benny Morris revealed Israel’s nuclear weapons program. So shouldn’t he be charged with treason too?
I think highly of Ivan Eland as a person and as a foreign policy analyst. His piece on today’s site on the danger of recruiting into the military people with bad records of behavior is on target. On the way to making his points, though, Ivan writes the following:
One problem is that when the U.S. is not fighting a war against what the American public perceives as a dire threat (for example, the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese during World War II) â€“ that is, the war is one of choice, such as Iraq or Vietnam â€“ the nation is unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to win. In World War II, serving more than 12 months overseas was not an issue.
Is he sure that these tours were not an issue? Or could it be that people didn’t dare protest because they feared being accused of being unpatriotic or even feared being punished if they protested? After all, many of them probably knew how Woodrow Wilson had handled dissent during World War I. Maybe they learned the lesson. There is far too much nostalgia about World War II but, interestingly, less so from people who were actually in it. When I was a child in the 1950s and 1960s, I couldn’t get WWII vets to say much about their experiences. Maybe they thought no one would really listen.
But we need to listen. Next time you talk to a World War II vet, make sure you don’t presume to know what he thought and felt.
Two final notes about Ivan’s use of language. First, nations don’t make sacrifices; people do. Second, any war a government engages in is a war of choice. Even if your side is attacked, going to war is still a choice. It might be a good choice, but it’s a choice.
Well, OK, he didn’t say that explicitly. But he did say it implicitly.
A basic logic lesson and please forgive me if you think I’m talking down to you. I’m really not. It’s just that I’m shocked at how many people, including McCain, don’t seem to get logic. If I say, “All crows are black” and I also say, “That bird is a crow,” then I’m saying that that bird is black even if I don’t say so explicitly.
On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, April 20, John McCain called William Ayers “an unrepentant terrorist.” What was McCain’s evidence? McCain said that Ayers “was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent peopleâ€¦” So McCain is saying that someone who engages in bombings which could have killed or did kill innocent people is a terrorist.
Now consider what McCain did. McCain flew a bomber, an A-4E Skyhawk, over North Vietnam. I don’t know whether he actually dropped his bombs before being shot down. But certainly he was engaged in actions that, if he had succeeded, could have killed innocent people. Which makes McCain, in his own words, a terrorist.
Now McCain could argue that that’s different because, as he said elsewhere in the interview, “I had a reconciliation with the Vietnamese, when we normalized relations.” Did he apologize to them? He didn’t say. If he did, that would make him a “repentant terrorist.” Too bad Stephanopoulos didn’t challenge him.
I’m not a big fan of the New York Times, but today’s front-page investigative report on the Pentagon’s managing of the news is absolutely first-rate. One of the Pentagon officials, Torie Clarke, the Pentagon’s main propagandist, said her goal had been to achieve “information dominance.” In other words, she wanted the Pentagon’s message to get out and crowd out the independent information from others. To do this, the Pentagon recruited retired military officers and fed them select information that was often at odds with reality. Wow! I’m already sounding like a spin doctor. What I mean in the earlier sentence is that the Pentagon lied.
The payoff for many of these retired officers was that various “defense” contractors for whom they worked got a better shot at military contracts. [Why “defense” in quotation marks? Because most of what the Department of Defense does has nothing to do with defense: it’s offense, much of which makes us less safe.]
Interestingly, some of the retired military knew they were being lied to and passed the information on as truth nevertheless. In other words, they lied. One, General Paul E. Vallely, a FOX News analyst from 2001 to 2007, stated, “â€œI saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south [in Iraq.]” But on his return, Vallely told FOX’s Alan Colmes, â€œYou canâ€™t believe the progress,â€ and predicted that the number of insurgents would be “down to a few numbers” within months. Of course, it wasn’t. And it turned out that Vallely didn’t “believe the progress.”
How did they rationalize their lying? Take Timur J. Eads. Please. Eads is “a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Fox analyst who is vice president of government relations for Blackbird Technologies, a fast-growing military contractor.” Eads said he had withheld the truth on television for fear that a four-star general would call and say, “Kill that contract.” I’ve heard of people running from battle because they might be literally killed. And I’m sympathetic. But lying because the consequence of telling the truth is that your employer might lose business and you might get fired? Wowee. Pretty scary.
The whole article is well worth your time.
This morning I received a request to sign an â€œEconomistsâ€™ Statement in Support of John McCainâ€™s Economic Plan.â€ The statement laid out his plans to prevent taxes from rising, to reduce some taxes, such as the corporate income tax, to support free trade agreements, and to restrain the growth of domestic government spending. Notice something missing? I did.
Hereâ€™s the answer I sent to the co-chair, economist James Carter:
There’s nothing in there I disagree with. [I later found a few things but I agreed with the vast majority.] The problem is that it leaves out a huge part of his economic policy that will make it virtually impossible to achieve what’s in the statement. That huge part is his policy on war–with Iraq and maybe with Iran. War is very expensive and is part of an economic policy. So by signing the statement, I would be helping Senator McCain maintain the fiction that there’s no connection between war and economic policy. I’m unwilling to do that.