Friday, September 18, 2009

Was Congressman Joe Wilson inadvertently framed?

In Washington, things are rarely what they seem. Was Congressman Joe Wilson inadvertently framed by fellow Republicans, thereby becoming the ass of an abandoned conspiracy, the butt of endless jokes and the target of numerous satires? SNL presents what really happened. (It’s their job to tell the underlying truth.)

It’s a shame Rep. Charles Boustany wasn’t in on the scheme. Had he been, he might have read the president’s speech, or at least the part that says, “If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out.” Had he done so, he wouldn’t have become the second lying fool since Obama’s speech who needed to be called out, the “officer and gentleman,” as his foremost apologists called Rep. Wilson, being the first.

In SNL’s “Weekend Update,” Louisiana’s “James Carville” comments on the September 12 rally in Washington, sponsored by the right-wing FreedomWorks Foundation, and the “eyes-wide-shut” treatment he recommends for people like Rep. Wilson. Remember, it was Carville, an ardent fan of his alma mater’s football team, the LSU Tigers, who coined the adage that has redefined politics as being more, or rather less, than Webster’s art and science of government: “Politics is a contact sport.”

Seth Meyers:  Last week thousands of protesters from the conservative Tea Party Movement converged on Washington, voicing their concerns about Obama’s health-care plan and increased government spending. Here to comment is Democratic political consultant James Carville.

“James Carville”:  Thank you, Seth Meyers

SM:  So, um, James, what do you think of these protesters?

JC:  Oh, did you see these people out there protestin’? Grown men dressed up as jokers and goblins and Hitlers? I mean, these people are first-class crazy. And I should know, Seth, because I’m as crazy as they come. I mean, look at me! I see this in the mirror every morning and I think, “Yep, that’s a good look!” Come on, I look like a skel-e-tor.

SM:  Well, surely they’re not all crazy. I mean, what do you make of the argument that there are moderate conservatives in the crowd?

JC: No, Seth, there ain’t no moderates in the Tea Party. They only seem moderate ’cause they’re surrounded by the super-crazies. It’s like when a midget stands next to a Smart Car: “You ain’t tall, midget, you just clever!”

SM:  When do uh... When exactly do little people stand next to Smart Cars?

JC:  Oh, you come on down to Louisiana, you’ll get an eyeful of clever little people.

SM:  So, how do you think the White House should respond to these demonstrators?

JC:  Ignore ’em! I mean, when a crazy drifter comes up to you on the street and says, “Hey, Snake Face, you the Devil!” You don’t stop and engage with him. You just keep walkin’. I mean, I don’t know why we entertain these backwater knockaloops. I mean, in the middle of a school assembly, no one says, “Hey, hey! Let’s hear from the creepy janitor who fought in Vietnam. I bet he has a good suggestion for prom themes!” Dont go near ’em, Seth, ’cause you’re goin’ to a nightmare prom!

SM:  OK, I get it. So, your advice is to ignore the pretesters out in the street. But what do you do with elected officials like Joe Wilson? Were you pleased that the congress voted to rebuke him?

JC:  Rebuke? Seth, no. Rebuke? Gimme a break. You gotta handle things Old School. I mean, you break into Joe Wilson’s house in the middle of the night. You throw a garbage bag over his head and you drag him to some mansion in the woods—OK?—there there’s a circle of eyes-wide-shut fellows in tuxedos and them weird Venetian masks, what, with them big noses, what—beak masks!—and you rip the bag off, and you just stare at him ’til he cries. Next mornin’, he wakes up, he doesn’t know...“Was that a dream?” What was that?” Well, what you do is you leave a little mask on his pillow. Like, “Wuh-oh! That coulda been real!

SM:  Wow! That uh, that sounds really illegal.

JC:  Illegal! You’re a cute kid, Seth Meyers.

Watch it:*

*By the way, we native Louisianians do tend to get shorter and shorter the farther south we are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daniel Ellsberg: "Telling the truth ... can make the difference"

In 1969 one man made the difference between continued escalation of a perpetual war and ending it. To make that difference, he told the truth at great personal cost and risk. Telling the truth was in the form of leaking 7,000 pages of the secret history of the Vietnam War, which he smuggled from his office in the Pentagon, where he worked as a top military analyst for the Rand Corporation. That act led to the fall of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the end of the war.

The man who made the difference is, of course, Daniel Ellsberg, whose whistleblowing story is the subject of a documentary film released this year, the fortieth anniversary of that leak that changed the course of U.S. and world history. The film of his gripping story —The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers — opens today at New York's Film Forum. It was none other than Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State in the Nixon administration, who called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America." What was a perceived as a danger to one of the world's most infamous unindicted war criminals is a man of conscience whose courage will hopefully be emulated in the coming months and years.

Here's the trailer:

trailer: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers
produced and directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith

Daniel Ellsberg, his wife of more than forty years, Patricia Ellsberg, and the film's co-director Judith Ehrlich were guests this morning on Democracy Now! to discuss the film with Amy Goodman. At the end of the interview, interspersed with segments of the trailer, Goodman asked Ellsberg what, in light of his experience, he thinks should be done today.
Ellsberg: I look at this film and I watch the bombs falling and all I can see in my mind  are the bombs—the same bombs falling over Afghanistan or Vietnamistan, and Iraq right now. And we're really facing at this moment a crisis, a decision that's just like the crisis in this film, which I failed at the time,  where the president is doing something that I feel will be a disaster, and I kept my mouth shut about it: the change from 70,000 men in the spring of 65 to an open-ended commitent, starting with another 50,00, which I knew was on the way to hundreds of thousands. I didn't tell about that, and nor did anyone else. There was a lot of dissent in the administration about that,  but we were overruled we saluted Clark Clifford, Vice President Humphrey.
Again we have a vice president who is apparently against the application, another parallel. James Jones, a military man, who can see what I can see, what anyone can see who has memories of Vietnam. There is no success at the end of this tunnel. There's only a statemate, which could persist indefinitely.
Goodman: Do you think we'll see a new "Dan Ellsberg"?
Ellsberg: We need people to put out, to tell the truth, and to do it not the way I did--not after the escalation, not after the bombs are falling--but right now, right now; and for the congress to hold the hearings that will entertain those people.

The film The Most Dangerous Man opens today at the Film Forum, and then it will be in
Santa Monica, which is right across from the Rand Corporation, significantly, on the fortieth anniversary of the leak of the Pentagon Papers.
Ellsberg: I wish it were in D.C. this month We're gonna do everything we can to get it there. Because I think this film actually, by showing that actions by an individual telling the truth at great cost or risk, can make the difference. And that's the critical thing that keeps people's mouths shut: it won't make any difference.

(see link for full transcript)