Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tools Of The Trade

The latest Politico opus is perhaps more instructive and informative than even the writers could have hoped for. For instance, Mike Allen apparently talked to a great many people for this splendiferous little gem of an article -- he conspicuously mentions "White House loyalists", "sources", "several Republicans", "a well-connected Republican whose views have reached Bush's inner circle", "several prominent Republicans", "some Republicans", "an adviser to one of the Republican presidential campaigns", and on and on. Plus helpful snippets cribbed from other publications.

In fact, as far as I can tell, the only person directly quoted from Allen's cocktail napkin is the James Carville of the new millennium, Mudcat Saunders, who with his typical subtlety, grabs a headline from the supermarket checkout-line news rack and attempts to twist a funny out of it:

“Scooter Libby is in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Saunders said. “If Paris had to go to the slammer, Scooter should get his pajammers.”

Makes "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" sound like Yeats. But then, any poetry more complicated than "Here I sit, broken-hearted" is beyond Mudcat's level of cognition.

Anyway, the article. After reading paragraph after paragraph of Allen's anonymously-sourced stenography, we get to the real crux of the biscuit, the open secret of how bidness gets done in this town of Gucci kneepads and Dolce & Gabbana butt-plugs:

The lobbying is subtle, according to participants. They say that making the case directly to the president or his top aides would be insulting and could backfire. Instead, friends of Bush and Libby have been quietly working cocktail parties and other venues, laying out their logic for a pardon.

So let's see if we have this straight -- we have a convicted felon, someone who deliberately betrayed a covert intelligence agent as political retribution for her husband's open dissent against the administration's cherry-picked "evidence" for a preventive war. This person was prosecuted by a lifelong Republican prosecutor with a spotless reputation, and tried, convicted, and sentenced in a court presided over by a judge appointed by Fredo because of his no-nonsense attitude toward criminal behavior.

Now, I understand why all these anonymous sources prefer to remain anonymous, especially if Allen's willing to take dictation for them anyway. But what's in it for Allen? Seriously, what legitimate journalistic purpose is served by merely transcribing -- and really, that's all it is -- the agenda of people who refuse to step up and own their backroom wheedlings? Scooter Libby was convicted in a court of law, period. He has his chance at an appeal in open court, where it belongs; there is no responsible reason to be relaying the gossipy cocktail-party chatter of people who think that they're above the law, and thus entitled to a do-over.

Here's some more samples of Allen's nose for news -- in Dick Cheney's pants:

The Libby Legal Defense Trust, backed by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and other prominent Republicans, has raised more than $5 million to help Libby defray his legal costs, The Politico has learned, with contributions of as little as $5 coming from grass-roots conservatives.

This raises far more questions than it answers. When Allen says that the defense fund is "backed" by Thompson and "other prominent Republicans", what does he mean? Is it financial backing, or do they just lend their spotless reputations to his noble cause? Who are these other prominent Republicans, and what exactly is their role? In the $5 million that has supposedly been raised, what is the average contribution? How many individuals have contributed so far? How many commercial or corporate entities? How many of these donors, whether individual or corporate, have any sort of prior or existing association with members of the administration or Republican party interests?

And is there a legitimate reason to tack on the lame "$5 grass-roots contribution" qualifier; in other words, is such a low-ball donation a representative sample, or just a cheap diversion from $1000-a-plate "Free Scooter" dinners hosted by Joe Don Baker Fred Thompson? We can't tell from this article, because Allen is apparently too busy letting his numberless anonymous cocktail-party buddies take turns at the open mike (get it?), to bother elaborating on any of the data in that paragraph, which could have come from Barbara Comstock's letterhead for all we know.

Open Mike also helpfully reiterates a quote from the chairman of the Free Scooter Coalition (or whatever the fuck these animals call themselves), Mel Sembler.

The chairman of the defense fund is Mel Sembler, formerly Bush’s ambassador to Italy, who told The Associated Press when Libby was sentenced: “There really is only one answer. This man has to step up and pardon him.”

Huh. So the guy who chairs the defense fund recently told someone else that his client should be pardoned? Wow, that is like so fucking helpful. Informative, really.

Not as informative as this, mind you:

I'm sure you know who Sembler is, and the mind control atrocity called Straight Inc. he and wife Betty perpetrated on American youth in Florida for nearly two decades. Straight bent itself out of shape in the early '90s and became the "Drug Free America Foundation" only after, finally, exposure and public outcry at its virtual "psychic murder" of kids in its alleged care for addiction recovery. Though it no longer directly treats addicts it still influences US drug policy, and survivors who haven't killed themselves or lost their minds are still living with the trauma of their "treatment," including repeated rape with objects such as curling irons. Arthur Trebach, author of The Great Drug War, said in a recent interview that he "got a call two days ago from a man in Texas who sent his son to Straight, Inc. ten years ago":

The father told me it was an awful mistake, that they imposed sexual activities on the young man, that they peed on him. According to the father, his son still refuses to talk about his experience at Straight, Inc. Dad said his brother, a drug counselor, had recommended the place as the best in the country.


There are political connections here. Straight, Inc. was endorsed by George Herbert Walker Bush, who visited the place with Nancy Reagan and Mel and Betty Sembler and Joe Zappala, who are, as best as we can determine, the founders of Straight, Inc. Both Sembler and Zappala were heavy contributors to the elder Bush's campaign, and both were rewarded with ambassadorships. I saw Ambassador Sembler give a speech in Australia in which he proudly said he founded Straight, Inc. and held it up as a model. More recently, Mel Sembler was the co-chair of finance for the Republican National Committee for the 2000 election.... And Jeb Bush last fall declared a "Betty Sembler Day" in Florida, commending her for her work with drug abuse control, especially with Straight, Inc. Betty claims she has the ear of the president.

Funny how so many of these people seem to have incubated in America's Wang. I'm sure it's just coincidence. But the War On Some Drugs is another of those things that some people made a lot of money from, while others were tossed in prison under mandatory-minimum guidelines, or bought into the hand-wringing Reefer Madness hysteria, or just watched their basic constitutional freedoms get slowly eroded (how 'bout that Fourth Amendment).

For Penis Pump Sembler, offering a boot-camp cure to juvenile delinquents was a ticket to money and an inner circle of power.

Sembler, of course, enjoyed a second ambassadorship at the pleasure of another President Bush. He was sent to Rome, though he can't speak Italian. This White House has a penchant for making excruciatingly inappropriate appointments, doling out ambassadorships to party and family bagmen whose only qualifications are the size of their bags.


Sembler's a busy Bush factotum. He's also recently joined the board of an extremely flush new bank starting up in Florida, a state said to be popular with international crime because of its proximity to the United States.

More on Straight here. Fun stuff. I mean, not to interrupt the clubby retelling of carefully-placed, surreptitious appletini chatter on Open Mike Night, but jeebus, you have to wonder about these professional journamalistas sometimes. If they devoted one-tenth of the time they spent being administration sock puppets, doing even a modest amount of investigating some of the people they write about, they might get somewhere. Maybe they don't really want to get somewhere, or maybe they just want to get somewhere different. It's literally impossible to tell, but one thing that's clear is that "afflicting the comfortable" is no longer part of the job description. That would be a breach of civility, you know.

It's not that hard to connect some of these dots -- Sembler's been a Bush lackey for decades, and was ambassador to Italy at the time SISMI helpfully supplied some Niger yellowcake documents that just happened to be completely fraudulent. And now he's heading the effort to free the guy who exposed the guy who uncovered the fraud.

How do you like them odds?

1 comment:

Righteous said...

sad part is they are still making money on the "war on drugs" places like straight, supported BY DFAF, still exist today.