Thursday, February 10, 2011

I don't really have a quarrel with Horowitz's past

There's no question that, yes, he did some extraordinarily stupid things as an avatar of the Left, but my concern is more that I don't find him to have renounced the intellectual errors that led him into the Soviet sphere in the first place.

Nonetheless, it's worth considering one of Horowitz's recent assertions regarding the incident at Ramparts that has caused so much controversy:

    I should add that the crime in question was printing an article by a defector from the National Security Agency revealing classified information. This was the same crime committed by the editors of the New York Times when they published the classified documents known as the "Pentagon Papers."

Unfortunately, there is one core difference that makes this assertion untenable: the information published by Ramparts directly affected ongoing intelligence efforts against the Soviet Union.

    The real secret that [the source for the article] was revealing to us (a fact I did not even realize at the time) was that United States intelligence had cracked the codes of both the Soviet Union and Israel, and was able to read all their electronic communications. This information would have been among the most guarded intelligence secrets of all. By making public to both ally and enemy that the United States had broken their codes, our informant was, in fact, alerting the intelligence agencies of both countries to change them. Thus the information [the source] gave us was, or might have been (we had no way of knowing), a major blow to the United States’ national security in the midst of the Vietnam War.

The Pentagon Papers certainly dealt a blow -- not entirely deserved -- to America's efforts in Vietnam, but they didn't directly affect war efforts on the ground. (See Brennan's concurring opinion in New York Times Co. v. United States, arguing that government restraint of publication must rest on evidence showing "that publication must inevitably, directly, and immediately cause the occurrence of an event kindred to imperiling the safety of a transport already at sea.") This is substantially the same point made by James Robbins in a recent National Review article regarding a more recent NYT publication. In particular, Mr. Robbins appeals to a dictum in Near v. Minnesota, in which Chief Justice Hughes says that

    No one would question but that a government might prevent actual 'obstruction to its recruiting service or the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location' of troops.

I don't think I could argue that Horowitz's actions by necessity rose to the level of criminal act, but there's certainly a case to be made (see Title 18 USC, Sec. 793(e)), depending on the construction of the phrase, "willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted," and whether the Ramparts staff had reason to believe that "the information ... was, or might have been ... a major blow to the United States’ national security." Even if such a case were to have been brought, I don't think it would have been successful, given the deference provided to the press by our courts. But it was no Pentagon Papers, and never could have been.
posted by Watchful Babbler / 11:46 PM

Monday, September 23, 2002

DH Is At It Again

Once again, The-Worst-Blogger-In-The-World is trying to blame the tragic events of 9/11 on Bill Clinton. This is hardly a big surprise. FrontPageMag has had articles with this message since right after the tragedy. Of course, this is an attempt to deflect attention away from "The Grown-ups" (the Usurper-In-Chief, Rummy, etc.) who deemphasized the fight against terrorism after the 2000 (s)election. As I have mentioned previously, it wasn't a surprise that Richard Scaife's Top Monkeyboy would exploit 9/11 in such a vulgar manner; He has a history of this (such as when DH and other FrontPageMag columnists repeated the Moonie Times's Clinton Georgetown Speech Smear). The one thing I find amusing about this revolting attempt to pin the blame on Clinton is that one of the people the hard right cites to support their case is Dick Morris--now that's one person in Clinton's inner circle who knew what was happening regarding security matters.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Stop, Miss Coulter, Before It's Too Late

Herewith the opening lines of Ann Coulter’s latest column, “So Three Arabs Walk Into A Bar. . .,” republished today at David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine:

“An American Citizen overheard three Muslims at a Shoney’s restaurant laughing about Sept. 11 over breakfast. ‘If people thought Sept. 11 was something, wait till Sept. 13.’ ‘Do you think that will bring it down?’ ‘Well, if that won't bring it down, I have contacts. I'll get enough to bring it down.’ Patriot Eunice Stone [Ed.: Mrs. Stone plays professional football?] took down their license plate numbers and called the police as the mirthful Muslims left.”

Now, here is Coulter’s punch line, so to speak: “I’d give you the names, but they’re too complicated. There’s a reason they use numbers at Guantanamo.”

Hilarious. RAOTFLMAO, as they say.

We would have thought Coulter’s expensive education -- Cornell, then Michigan, the latter resulting in a law degree the tuition toward which she paid at out-of-state rates all three years, we’re sure -- would have prepared her for the transliteration of Arabic names, but, alas, we have upon us yet another failure who nonetheless emerged bestowed with highly marketable, yet ultimately meaningless, degrees from two of our nation’s “elite” institutions.

Coulter continues: “According to accounts in [t]he New York Times, the men were uncooperative, refused to answer basic questions, gave false information and told contradictory stories. A bomb-sniffing dog reacted to the presence of explosives in both vehicles. After a careful search, however, no explosives were found and the men were released.”

Coulter citing the Times? And without a footnote, no less? What gives? Is this the same Ann Coulter who wished a horrible death on everyone working at the paper? Maybe she’s being sly, thinking something along the lines of, “That stupid Times, reporting about dogs finding explosives where there were none. Can’t liberals get anything right?”

Here’s another gem from the New Canaan sophisticate, her words dripping with racist and xenophobic condescension and contempt: “Who knew the Religion of Peace [Ed.: Coulter is referring, derogatorily in the article’s context, to Islam.] was so darn funny? Did you hear the one about the release of VX gas in Disneyland?” [Ed.: Emphasis in original.]

It goes on, as is always the case with Coulter: “By my count, the Muslims have given at least five versions of what happened,” she writes, with no substantiation of that count whatsoever. “Eunice Stone has given one consistent story. She has been interrogated by law enforcement officials and is corroborated by another witness,” adds Coulter, blissfully -- or deceitfully -- unaware that Stone’s account of the events at Shoney’s has not been called into question, only her interpretation thereof.

And still more: “According to the Boston Globe, the Three Stooges first told law enforcement officers they did it on purpose.” What was that about conservatives never calling anyone names?

And: “[T]hey tried out the hysterical-woman defense -- used to great effect by Democrats in the Clinton era. One of the Muslims tauntingly demanded to know ‘how many other people witnessed this event that supposedly took place, first of all?’ Well, at least one other person. Stone’s son was there and he heard the conversation exactly the same way. He just thought the men were playing his mother and him for suckers.”

How, Miss Coulter, could Stone’s son have heard the conversation “exactly the same way” when he, unlike his mother, was sufficiently astute to conclude that, in your own words, “the men were playing his mother and him for suckers,” which is exactly the point of confusion at the heart of the matter?

Our advice to Miss Coulter: Stop. Now. Take a breather. Take a vacation. Take a powder. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

They Must be the Same

Lowell Ponte’s “The Greening of McKinney” in today’s FrontPage is a truly bizarre document that works primarily as an expression Ponte’s dislike for anyone in the Democratic Party or further left and his inability to distinguish between people in that very broad category.

It begins with the usual Cynthia McKinney bashing. I don’t agree with all of it but, for the most part, critics stick to the facts about her record and don’t engage in wild conspiracy theories. Ponte, however, does go into that terrain.

In an attempt to illustrate an alliance between the Green Party and McKinney, Ponte writes:

    …her [McKinney] wacky Left radicalism and position on the executive board of the congressional “Progressive (i.e., socialist) Caucus” (honored here on the website of the Democratic Socialists of America) brought “more than 50 Green Party activists from across the nation…to Georgia,” reported Associated Press, “to help McKinney in the final days of her primary campaign.”

There appears to be a missing word or two but the AP story Ponte links to doesn’t say that McKinney brought in Green Party activists. Rather it just says they came to campaign for McKinney, making it unclear if McKinney knew about their party affiliation at all or if it was a coordinated effort. Maybe the congresswoman knew and maybe it was an organized effort but the evidence is not presented by Ponte.

Probably unaware of his lack of understanding of the article, Ponte uses it as the basis for the following revelation:

    Reading this AP story, I suddenly felt stunned at the obvious truth I had so long overlooked about the real nature of the Green Party.

    Who was its Presidential candidate in 2000? He was Ralph Nader, who beneath his anti-capitalist political costume is a proud Arab-American of Lebanese ancestry.

Say what you will about Nader and his 2000 presidential campaign but this passage is very strange and does not mesh with the facts.

What exactly is Nader’s “anti-capitalist political costume”? The most logical explanation is that Ponte doesn’t believe Nader actually believes in the positions he has taken over the last 40 or so years but Ponte provides no reason to believe this.

Nader does take pride in his Arab ancestry but he does not make a very big deal out of in his public profile nor does it appear to have greatly influenced his politics, as this excerpt from an interview conducted by David Barsamian shows:

    DB: Few people know of your Arab heritage. Your parents were born in Lebanon. You rarely mention this. I was wondering how that background influenced you.

    RN: It was a very civically responsible upbringing. My parents said to the children, The other side of freedom is civic responsibility. My father said that when he sailed past the Statue of Liberty. He took it seriously. So we were always encouraged to participate and try to improve our community and not be passive onlookers or bystanders. Our parents would take us to town meetings in my hometown, which were often pretty robust displays of discussion between the citizenry and the selectmen and mayor. I think it was also a time when children had some solitude. They weren't glued to video games and television thirty or forty hours a week. We played in the backyard instead of sitting on a couch gaining weight, getting out of shape, munching potato chips and watching some violent cartoon show.

    DB: What about the heritage of Arab culture?

    RN: We grew up learning the language. The proverbs were always a part of encouragement and admonition in the household. It was a very nurturing type of cultural upbringing.

If we know that Nader is takes pride in his heritage then it can be safely assumed that his comments about that heritage's effect on him are accurate.

Most importantly, Ponte implies that Nader’s ancestry reveals something inherent about Nader and/or the “nature” of the Green Party. Yet Ponte never says what that is. No doubt many people would read that passage and conclude Ponte is racist. (I’m not sure if that is the correct assessment or not because it is unclear to me what Ponte is getting at.)

Ponte goes on to write:

    What is the color green? Yes, it is the color of trees — except as we head into autumn — and is the symbolic color camouflaging the watermelon-red-inside-green-outside environmental movement.

    But the flags of Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim nations are also mostly or at least partly green. Why? Because green is the symbolic color of the Prophet Muhammad, the legendary color of the cloak he wore, as well as the color of Muslim heaven envisioned as a lush oasis amid desert sands.

    And now the Greens are courting Cynthia McKinney, strange bedfellow with a proven family history of hating Jews and prostituting her political office to Muslim radicals willing to heap lots of green upon her.

    Is this mere coincidence? Are the Greens willing to embrace anyone or any group that both hates America and is willing to provide millions in cash to finance this party’s political ambitions?

    Are the Greens really mere Gaia-worshipping pagans, pantheists and latter-day Wiccans, as they are widely perceived? Or could this party have secret, or even not-so-secret, alliances with radical Arabs, Islamists and the Muslim faith?

Leaving aside the issue of the Green Party’s religious preference or lack thereof, the Green Party's hedging on whether it is pro-capitalist or not and the matter how a political party could form an alliance with a religious faith, Ponte seems unable to grasp that many people –Democrats, Greens and others- do not see McKinney the same way he does. Many of her supporters no doubt do not believe that she is a beholden to “radical Arabs, Islamists and the Muslim faith.” Rather they see her as a strong woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and criticize the powerful. Ponte doesn’t have to agree with this assessment to not recognize that it exists if only in the minds of evil idiots.

Ponte goes on to say that he’s happy Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election because:

    Imagine what might have happened if this Gorebot had been Commander-in-Chief on September 11, 2001, as an ally of Ralph Nader and fellow “Progressive” Democrats like Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Thank God Ralph Nader ran for President in 2000.

Gore and Nader are allies? When exactly did this alliance form?

And for the record, I am unsure how Gore would have reacted to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I find it perfectly plausible that he would have reacted just the same as Bush did and would like to know how Ponte thinks he would have reacted.

Ponte also writes:

    For the record, I hope Cynthia McKinney becomes the Green Party’s Presidential candidate in 2004. This would educate millions of idealistic young Americans as to the real nature and agenda of this extremist political party. And it would siphon votes away from the Democratic Party’s candidate who will be pretending to be more centrist than McKinney.

Yep, everybody knows that the Democratic nominee will be “pretending” to not have the same positions as McKinney because all Democrats are the same or something.

In another section, Ponte writes:

    What remains to be seen is how many African-Americans, women, and principled Leftists the McKinney’s [Cynthia and her father Bill] can also inspire to leave the Democratic Party, the traditional party of the slave owners, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, Bull Connor and today’s most racist politicians.

Given all else that Ponte believes about McKinney, it is bit strange to think he sees anybody who is “principled” as following McKinney. And how does this jive with his hope that McKinney as the Green’s nominee will “educate millions of idealistic young Americans as to the real nature and agenda of this extremist political party”?

There aren’t any logical answers to these questions because, as this article indicates, Ponte doesn’t seem to recognize any differences amongst Democrats or between Democrats and those to their left. Sure Nader repeatedly bashed Gore and the Democratic Party, but if Gore had been elected Nader would have been in the cabinet. Yes many Democrats preferred another candidate to McKinney but in two years they will nominate someone who has the exact same ideology as McKinney. The Green Party may have a very different platform than the Democratic Party but it doesn’t represent a different political movement.

There are of course many Democrats and leftists, not necessarily mutually exclusive groups, who view all Republicans and conservatives in the same way, that is they view them as being all the same. Whichever side it comes from, such reductionism is not an intelligent means of understanding politics. It leads to all sorts of conspiracy theories and will rarely, if ever, lead a person to understand those he or she disagrees with.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Support Unlimited War or Become a Traitor

    When your country is attacked there can be no such thing as an "anti-war" movement. Protesters against America's war on terror, are not peaceniks, they are America-haters and saboteurs, and they should be treated as such.

Horowitz then goes on to label Jessica Quindel, president of the Graduate Assembly at UC Berkeley, “a traitor of the heart” for merely acknowledging that Old Glory has become a symbol of U.S. military aggression to many people around the world and perhaps believing, although it isn’t clear from what Horowitz quotes of her, that they are right. Horowitz also names Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn as being traitors and says that these three and those like them “would aid and abet any enemy, [Osama] Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein -- it really doesn't matter -- before she would embrace her own country.”

The piece, entitled “Editorial: America Haters,” makes it very clear that Horowitz doesn’t view their as being any legitimate criticisms of U.S. foreign policy that question the use of force. Horowitz is clear that he isn’t saying such people should be censored but there is a problem with this statement that is at least as large.

By including Hussein –the Iraqi dictator who has not been shown to have any intentions of doing harm to the U.S. since at least 1993- in this list, Horowitz implies that the White House should have free reign to go to war with anybody that it wants and that questioning the merits of any military action amounts to treason. In other words, there should be no constraints on the power of President Bush –and his successors?- to make war.

Section 8 of the Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the exclusive authority “To declare war.” Horowitz has previously defended the U.S. Constitution but perhaps, much like the rights of criminal defendants, limits on Presidential war making are on aspect of the Constitution he wants to get rid of.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Frontpage Blog

Mr. Horowitz posted the following item this past Monday on his Frontpage Blog (3rd item down):

    If you want to measure the lack of security in this country as we face the terrorist threat, note that Sami Al-Arian, who on the evidence is a leader of Islamic Jihad and a professor at the University of Southern Florida is 1) a free man 2) a hero of the American left and 3) defended by the leading professional organization of "scholars" of the Middle East -- which is to say the people who train the best young minds of those Americans who have an interest in the Middle East and can provide us with intelligence about it.

As I am a member of the American left, I figured I should know about this supposed 'hero' of mine, a Mr. Sami Al-Arian. I consulted my wallet for my pocket sized, standard issue list of lefty heroes and found that nowhere between Atrios and Zappa could I find the gentleman in question. So it was off, once again, to Google where I found the information I was seeking.

Oh, it's that guy. I remember him from his television appearances after 9/11. But wait a minute, I seem to remember that I was cursing and throwing things at my television whenever he opened his mouth. I remember, in fact, that I thought he was perhaps one of the most idiotic people I had ever seen warm the seat of a television talkshow. So... Why does Mr. Horowitz believe him to be one of my heroes, and if Mr. Al-Arian is a leader of Islamic Jihad, why were the FBI not dragging him off the set instead of letting him chat with Bill Mahr?

Well, I followed quite a few of those Google links and found the answers to my questions.

First of all, as can be quite clearly understood from an article in Salon, Mr. Al-Arian is, in fact, not a leader of Islamic Jihad. FBI and INS investigations dating back to 1995 concluded that he was not so affiliated. He had raised money through a charity that sent funds to a branch of Hamas, but he did so before the 1996 law that made such transactions illegal. The Salon piece is a harsh indictment of the way in which the media, led by Bill O'Reilly, MSNBC's Steve Emerson, and a Florida DJ named Bubba the Love Sponge (yes, I'm serious) tried and convicted Mr. Al-Arian on the airwaves, and eventually exerted enough pressure on his employer to have him fired.

Let me reiterate that my personal feelings about Mr. Al-Arian are anything but kind and charitable. I despise the man and everything that he stands for. But to my knowledge, he has never done anything illegal during the more than 25 years he has been in the United States. The FBI and the INS seem to be of the same opinion. Last time I checked, being a dickhead wasn't against the law.

Sami Al-Arian is a militant Palestinian Nationalist, and was a tenured professor at the University of South Florida, but he is not a member of Islamic Jihad, much less a leader of that organization, and during his repellant appearances on talkshows he was always careful to repudiate the actions of the 9/11 terrorists. Mr. Horowitz, I assume, was posting based on information from the O'Reilly program, which would account for his error in identifying Mr. Al-Arian, but I should think that a simple Google search would be in order before calling someone a leader of a terrorist organization and suggesting that they should be imprisoned. It took me less than three minutes to get the correct information.

As to Mr. Horowitz's assertion that Sami Al-Arian is a hero of the American left, I was unable to find any evidence in support of this idea. Every defense of Mr. Al-Arian that I could find was based on the issues of academic freedom and First Amendment protections of free speech. Not a single article that I could find expressed support for his politics. Even the Socialist Worker Online based it's defense of Mr. Al-Arian on the First Amendment, and frankly, I would suggest that Mr. Horowitz has more in common with the SWO than any of the lefties I know.

Now that I know the facts, I defend Mr. Al-Arian's right to free speech just as I and many on the left defended the rights of the Skokie Nazis back in the 1980's. Would Mr. Horowitz have you believe that Hitler is a hero of the Left as well? Actually, by Mr. Horowitz's logic, David Duke should be regarded as a hero of the conservatives since some right-wing extremists regard him as such. Perhaps Mr. Horowitz has forgotten that the most important tests of free speech come when the speech in question is unpopular and offensive. Mr. Horowitz might also be reminded of the fact that since Mr. Al-Arian's speech is political, it is all the more important that it be protected.

It is certainly likely that Mr. Al-Arian may be a hero to Americans who are also Palestinian Nationalists, but if that is the case, Mr. Horowitz should state it in those terms rather than taking a cheap shot at smearing the entire American Left. If Mr. Horowitz, as he seems to indicate, has evidence of Sami Al-Arian's guilt then he should back up his post with links to that information and inform the FBI. If he can point to any non-extremist on the left who holds Al-Arian up as a hero, then he should provide the links. That's what we do here on our blogs. We link to information to back up our posts. But, Mr. Horowitz is new to the whole blog thingy, so maybe he hasn't figured that part out.

With actual facts in hand, it would appear that rather than being a leader of Islamic Jihad, a terrorist in our midst, and a personal hero of mine, Sami Al-Arian is actually just an asshole with repellant political ideas and a big mouth. Kind of like someone else that comes to mind...

[Note to Mr. Horowitz: Brian Linse is my real name. My personal blog is AintNoBadDude, where I also post under my real name, and my e-mail is I also live in LA and would be happy to buy you a cup of coffee and disagree with you in person. We met once in the mid-90's, and I found you to be an intelligent, interesting, and kind man. What happened? I've always been a prick, so there's nothing new here.]

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Babble On: Renaissance and Reformation

Horowitz maintains that he "never was in alliance with the racial right," and refers to "the attacks on me in American Renaissance by [radical paleocon and syndicated columnist] Samuel Francis and others." I concede this point to Horowitz; since my use of the term "allies" was the result of his cross-publishing articles and authors from AmRen, he can fairly say that doesn't rise to the level of an alliance. Since the facts have been stipulated to, terms are of little importance. Besides, Horowitz's idiosyncratic attitudes on race are indeed anathema to Euro-supremacists.
Insofar as Imperium is concerned, it's no more than a particularly turgid1 vulgar Spenglerian simplification, spread over some 600 pages, and dedicated "To the hero of the Second World War" (yes, him). Amongst other things, it calls blacks "primitive and childlike," and lambasts Jews as "[t]he most tragic example of Culture-parasitism for the West." Neo-Nazi and professional Holocaust denier Willis Carto's Noontide Press has published Imperium for forty years (the book was self-published by its author in 1948), as well as works by Jared Taylor, the aforementioned Samuel Francis, and numerous other contributers to the fount of intellectualist racism. The views of Taylor and AmRen's contributors are simply part of a long chain of hatred that far outstrips the equally absurd but far less dangerous Quebeckery of the left.
I'd advise Horowitz to stay away from Imperium, unless he is truly curious, or else has a high tolerance for pain. It's the literary equivalent of Speer's architecture: grand, gothic, sterile, malignant.
Finally, DH brings up the question of the "Wichita Massacre" article (parenthetically, I don't think my "hope" that DH would review and possibly retract the article rose to the level of a demand). Although I don't agree with the article as published in FrontPage, it is the ten paragraphs excised from that version (or never submitted in the first place), but printed in AmRen that truly reveal the article as an exercise in the virulent and twisted logic of racism. (The following paragraphs are taken in part from an earlier post on the subject.)
First, Webster attacks Christianity, intimating that it essentially emasculated the "five young whites" so they would not fight back against a black aggressor:
To what extent does this turn-the-other-cheek mentality [of Christianity] explain why five whites failed to fight back against two attackers? Three of the whites were young men, surely capable of serious resistance, and there must have been several opportunities for it. ... Why ... did five young whites ... kneel obediently in the snow to be shot one by one? ... [H]ad they simply been denatured by the anti-white zeitgeist of guilt that implies whites deserve whatever they get? One does not wish to think ill of the dead, but these three men showed little manliness.
The article ends with an attempt to herd its readers into one of two conclusions: if the murders weren't hate crimes, then they were evidence that blacks are "so depraved they can commit on a whim" the most terrible crimes. They are, it is implied, barely human at all.
It is natural for whites to assume that behavior so vicious and odious must have been driven by consuming hatred. Most whites cannot imagine treating another human being the way the Carrs treated their victims unless there were some terrible underlying animus. ... However, it may be a mistake to project white sensibilities onto blacks. ... It may ... be that the Carr brothers are incapable of analyzing and describing their own motives with enough intelligence to make it possible for others to judge them. The angry whites do not seem to realize that what happened on the night of Dec. 14 may be only a particularly brutal expression of the savagery that finds daily expression in American crime statistics and African tribal wars. It may very well be that the Carr brothers are so depraved they can commit on a whim brutalities that whites can imagine only as the culmination of the most profound and sustained hatred.
Philosophies do have power. and concepts consequences; as they enter and influence (small-c) culture, they become part of the toolbox with which we interpret the world. The philosophy described by those few paragraphs is far more than anything written by a Charles Taylor or Susan Wolf, a menace to the American project. I would hope that we see Horowitz continue to defend that grand experiment in liberty from racism and injustice with the same vigor he brings to his assaults on the far left.