"And one of the reasons we will prevail is because of George Allen's leadership, vision, courage, and his ability to stand up for what he believes in."
Thursday, September 28, 2006
While his opponents dredge up people with memories of conversations from 30 years ago, Allen is working hard NOW to prove that he is a Senator for all of us. His latest work is a Bill Providing Historic Remedy for Black Farmers Who Suffered Discrimination by USDA:
WASHINGTON, DC— In the South Hill Virginia country side, John Boyd has been tilling soybean, wheat and corn fields his family farm that goes back four generations. But like other African-American farmers, Boyd says that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discriminated against black farmers when they applied for assistance between 1983 and 1997. That’s why Boyd turned to Senator George Allen (R-VA) who today, introduced legislation expanding the number of black farmers eligible to receive compensation under a class action lawsuit agreed to by USDA for what Senator Allen calls “the historical injustices suffered by African American farmers who through hard work and toil are a part of the great American farming family.”
Seems some good Virginians were left out of a class action lawsuit settled by the USDA, and Allen is working with Charles Grassley, Republican (IA), to fix that error.
In 1999, that class action was settled and USDA began disbursing checks to qualifying farmers. But, in the following years, it became apparent that many African American farmers had not been included in the original lawsuit. Senator Allen’s legislation would in effect, allow any eligible African American farmer “who has not previously obtained a determination…may, in a civil action, obtain that claim.”
Why is Allen doing this?
“There is no doubt,” says Senator Allen, “that this discrimination took place against many African-American farmers. What this bill attempts to do is to correct the limited number of farmers who actually benefited from a class action suit that should have extended to all African American farmers who suffered the indignity and inequality of being denied financial assistance through USDA.”
The Webb campaign wants you to believe the unbelievable, that this is the action of a racist. But it's the act of an honorable man, a man who a liberal African-American State Senator feels comfortable in endorsing.
“African American farmers are a part of the rich diversity of our country’s landscape and diverse farming communities,” said Senator Allen. “Since my days as Governor, I have made it a top priority to help strengthen and protect the fabric of the family farm. This measure is an appropriate and reasonable remedy to allow African American farmers to have their cases finally heard on their merits.”
Allen has the support of Senators of his party, which enables him to deliver for our state. Webb shares little in common with those in his chosen party, other than his hatred for Bush and the war in Iraq. They will hardly spend time with him now as he's campaigning.
His time in the Reagan administration suggests an inability to win others to his positions, which is a critical job requirement in the deliberative halls of the Senate, where Allen has proven so adept at swaying his colleagues for our State, along with our Senior Senator John Warner.
We don't have to look 30 years in the past to know the strong character of Senator Allen today, or to know his proven ability to serve ALL of Virginia as our Senator.
It's been quite a month for Sen. George Allen, looking to represent Virginia for another six years. While he's tried to discuss a comprehensive Energy Strategy and his National Innovation Act education plan, he has been beset by a barrage of negative attacks driven by his opponents.
Thus I start my piece about the backstory of Allen discovering his Jewish heritage -- that he passed up a golden opportunity to stop macaca in it's tracks, neutralize the Webb bloggers whisper campaign about his "shame" about his heritage, and possibly wrap up the election before it even began.
This past month Allen discovered his Jewish heritage -- a secret that his mother kept from him, her family, and the world for her entire married life. But the story of how that secret came to light provides a more revealing view of Allen than the secret itself.
I never really dealt with this in my blog when it happened, although I touched on the Washington Post story in a post about the Webb Campaign Treasurer Ingred Malloy promoting an article claiming Allen's grandfather was a Nazi Collaborator.
Etty Allen's father, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII. She says, "What they put my father through. I always was fearful." Her family moved to America, where she met and married George Allen. They decided to keep her former religion a secret -- "He didn't want me to tell his mother. At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the church."
They lived their lives, raised a family, and never found a good time to "come clean." Those who have lived with family secrets know the problem isn't the secret, it's explaining why you kept it for so long.
I mentioned this over at NotLarrySabato, and they laughed at me for being too sensitive.
With Allen a public figure, her secret was in danger. People, especially Allen's political enemies, were digging around in her past, trying to find dirt to throw around. This summer rumors were circulated on left-wing web pages about Allen's "Jewish" past, and how they could use it against him. Webb staffers suggested he was ashamed of being Jewish, and his supporters wouldn't like it. In truth, his mother told him she was raised Christian, and he believed her.
That's about as partisan as I got in the article.
Here's what I meant about sealing the election:
But I said this was about Allen, not about his mother being "outed" by the left in their attempts to discredit her son. See, August was when the "macaca" story was raging. You would think Allen would do anything to change the subject. What better way than a press conference announcing he just found out he had a Jewish heritage, and was proud of it? The questions about him "hiding" it would be answered, and "macaca" would be history.
But Allen didn't do that. A simple political act that would likely seal the election for him, and he refused. Why? Because his mother asked him to keep her private life private. Instead of telling the world, he kept quiet as the rumors and attacks continued.
Because of that, he endured three more weeks of attacks on his character. He knew he had a Jewish heritage, and people who were professed Jews were calling him an anti-semite, and claiming he was ashamed of his heritage, afraid of his supporters, a self-loathing Jew. And he silently endured those attacks, for the sake of his mother.
His mother couldn't take it anymore, and released him from his promise. He acknowledged and embraced his heritage. And proved both that he is not anti-Semitic, and that he values family, trust, and keeping his word more than his own political career. And that is the kind of man I want as my Senator.
Will the Webbies who have been gleefully basking in their mudbath join us NOW in calling for some civility? Webb is hardly the kind of person who is going to have a squeaky-clean background, after all -- if you read his books, you have to realise that authors have to find inspiration from SOME WHERE for their characters.
I didn't want this to happen. I begged us all to stop a week ago, but the Webb campaign and their paid bloggers and supporters couldn't quit while they were ahead. There's going to be other people out their who have no real axe to grind against Webb, but just feel like the playing field should be level.
Anyway, from the story "Webb Denies EVER Using Word as Epithet" (how else can you use it?):
Cragg, 67, who lives in Fairfax County, said on Wednesday that Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them.
"They would hop into their cars, and would go down to Watts with these buddies of his," Cragg said Webb told him. "They would take the rifles down there. They would call them [epithets], point the rifles at them, pull the triggers and then drive off laughing. One night, some guys caught them and beat . . . them. And that was the end of that."
Ah, youthful indiscretion. I bet the Webbies could defend this if they hadn't called for a resignation over the casual use of the n-word in an alleged conversation about turtles.
Cragg said Webb told him the Watts story during a 1983 interview for a Vietnam veterans magazine. Cragg, who described himself as a Republican who would vote for Allen, did not include the story in his article. He provided a transcript of the interview, but the transcript does not contain the ROTC story. He said he still remembers the exchange vividly more than 20 years later.
I could say something about that, but since the webbies at NLS have told me my opinion is worthless in these matters, I'll let them have a crack at it. I will say that a sit-down interview 22 years ago with specifics about what was said at least is easier to discuss than the vague "he said the n-word" from 10 years earlier.
Webb, who is in Texas for fundraising events, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Todd said Webb denied the allegations in a conversation with her.
A lot of Virginians in Texas? Maybe Webb chose the wrong time to leave the state, right after telling the Washington Post he wanted voters to learn about "the real me".
"He said it's not true. It's not even close to being true," Todd said. She quoted Webb as saying: "In 1963, you couldn't go to Watts and do that kind of thing. You'd get killed. So of course I didn't do it. I would never do that. I would never want to do that."
Cragg didn't saywhether Webb actually DID it, he just says Webb TOLD him he did it, and used the n-word describing it:
Cragg, a former Army sergeant major, described himself as a longtime friend of Webb's who worked for him when he was assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan. Cragg said he approached the Allen campaign through a friend after hearing Webb's answer to the Times-Dispatch reporter's question about using the N-word.
"The fact is he has. He used it in my presence," Cragg said. "I don't think he's a racist any more than George Allen is. But he's not frank in admitting that he grew up in a culture where that was common and he used it."
Anyway, this certainly meets Larry Sabato's seal of approval -- since Webb SAID he had never used the word "as an epithet", I guess it's fair game to trot out people who say otherwise. The guy says he was a friend of Webb's -- and Webb did give him a long interview for a book, plus Webb didn't deny knowing him.
I'd ignore this story, if it wasn't for the crap the left has been throwing around in this campaign. It could well be true -- it certainly sounds like something that could have happened in the late 60s, and the getting beat up is plausible. But I don't care what Webb said 20 years ago, I care about what bad things he would do to Virginia and our Country as a Senator.
And I don't mean as a womanizer or racist, I mean by voting based on the few positions he has voiced so far, like shutting down the billion-dollar bases we built in Iraq to keep our troops safe, and redeploying them to Jordan and Kuwait so the terrorists start tearing up THOSE countries and we end up with two more unstable governments -- plus having to spend billions more to build bases and redeploy the troops.
Anyway, is this what the Webb supporters wanted for their Senate Race? I guess, and now we have it, whether I like it or not.
For the record, I will note that I am NOT dancing a jig, or shouting "in your face" or otherwise spitting on my colleagues on the other side. This makes me sick, it should have made you sick, and maybe by the time this is over we'll all be throwing up on the sidewalk after voting for our candidates.
Because like the Post said, this isn't going to get any better, unless the two candidates get together and put a stop to it.
oh, I can't end on that note. So I'll include this little bit of more humorous tit-for-tat, something I DO enjoy because it's campaign chatter, not the destruction of human beings. Webb's campaign spokesperson Todd says:
"They are pathetic individuals. They are beneath it. They are slime," she said. "Here we are trying to talk about the issues. They are completely and totally desperate."
I mean, that's funny, right, given her candidate isn't here discussing the issues, he's off in Texas trying to raise money. And then LaCivita responds:
Allen campaign officials declined to comment on Cragg's story. But political adviser Chris LaCivita responded to Todd's criticism. "They wouldn't know an issue if it hit them square in the face," he said.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Let's return Debbie Stabenow to the Senate and keep Michigan blue -- contribute to Debbie's campaign today!
I'd be blue if I Lived in Michigan, and had Granholm as my Governor, and Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow as my Senators.
Unemployment: 7.1% (tied for 49th worst)
Income increase : 3.2% (2003) (tied for 49th worst)
economic momentum: -1.45 (worst)
State Budget Deficit Increase: $7.8 billion since 2001.
RICHMOND, Sept. 26 -- Democratic Senate candidate James Webb launched an ad Tuesday attacking Republican George Allen on the decision to go to war in Iraq,
That isn't really mud. It's negative, but not mud.
My way of saying, this is the least of the mud problems in this campaign.
"He has yet to offer any kind of a clear position on what to do in Iraq," Wadhams said of Webb. "It's terribly consistent with Webb's continued vagueness and contradictions."
It's easier for a challenger to complain about what the incumbent as done than it is to articulate a decent response of his own, and hard to fit into a 30-second commercial.
Allen is also attacking Webb's attitude toward women in fliers mailed to voters across the state.
OK, It is based on fact at least, but it was 30 years ago. If Webb had seriously apologized for and repudiated his statements, this would be a dead issue, but since he wouldn't even acknowledge the women who said they were actually harmed by his statements, it lives on.
Still, why not instead send out flyers telling Virginians what Webb supports -- it would win more votes for Allen. If only we knew what Webb supported.....
"They are desperate," (Kristian Denny Todd) said. "They can't talk about one positive thing. They can't talk about anything resembling his job or representing this state."
Well, at least Allen has run two TV commercials discussing issues he thinks are important. Webb has run one commercial claiming the support of a dead man, and now the one attacking his opponent about Iraq. Then there was that false body armor ad.
With less than six weeks to go before Election Day, the race between Allen and Webb has tightened as it has become dominated by accusations, countercharges and defenses. And political observers say they expect both sides to keep up the negativity
On rare occasions, I find something I can agree with in the Post.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who attended U-Va. with Allen, insisted again Tuesday that he believes Allen has used racial epithets, although he acknowledged that he has never heard him directly.
Thanks Larry. I believe Allen used the n-word sometime, somewhere as well. I could be wrong, I'm not a psychic like you. But Allen's hung around the south, and Webb said anybody who hung around the south was BOUND to say the n-word sooner or later. Or use it in his fiction books.
LaCivita declined to criticize Sabato. "All I'm going to say about Larry is that he and George did not hang around the same people."
See, Allen wasn't so bad in college, at least he didn't hang around with Larry.
Webb campaigned Tuesday with former vice presidential candidate John Edwards in Fredericksburg, capping a week in which he raised nearly $1 million in a series of star-studded events
First, is Edwards really a star? Second, I bet we don't see Webb with the previous Democrat Vice Presidential candidate any time soon. Wonder if Lieberman could be convinced to campaign for his fellow Jewish senator, George Allen.
Webb also held a news conference with several former military officials who reiterated their support for the Democrat.
I'm sorry, had something happened which them think they had to re-iterate their support? I know why Lambert felt he had to come out again with his endorsement.
"He has the courage and integrity to ask the right questions, not just about the military and the armed forces, but about the country," said former NATO commander Wesley Clark.
Oh, Wesley Clark. Never mind.
Asked about the scandal enveloping Allen, Webb declined to comment, saying it was a distraction to his campaign.
How is his campaign "distracted" by the attacks on Allen? It's not like they are spending a lot of time spreading rumors, forwarding e-mails, meeting with their good friend Doug Thompson, and telling Shelton not to talk to Fox News, right?
"It's not relevant to what I'm trying to do," Webb said.
Your campaign Web team didn't get the message.
"There's six weeks left. I'm trying very hard to get our message out so people who will know who I am. That's really what's important to me."
Be careful what you wish for. After all, the Post suggested there's a lot more mud to be slung, and when you are slinging mud, some is bound to fall on you, even if you've got the media on your side. Are you sure you want Virginia to "know who you are"?
That's what I want, because if people vote on the issues, and know what Webb stands for, Allen will win this thing, despite the mudslinging.
But, after the continued senseless dredging up of charges from 30 years ago, that are both unsubstantiated, but more importantly meaningless to judging the man Allen is today, the Senator felt it important to re-iterate both his endorsement and the reasons for it.
Far from backing away from Allen, he puts his own considerable reputation as a solid voicee for the African-American community behind Allen's character as our Senator.
As reported in the Style weekly, Why I Choose Allen:
September 27, 2006
Why I Choose Allen
by State Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III
As a senior member of the Virginia General Assembly, it has been my privilege to serve my constituents and all the people of the commonwealth for the past 28 years. In each position, first as a delegate and now as State Senator of Richmond, Charles City County and Henrico County I have endeavored to place principle above politics.
As I have spoken to many of my constituents over the past few weeks, most have understood and respected my support for Sen. George Allen. What I have shared with them and others are my Christian beliefs in the power of forgiveness and in the power to give a person the opportunity to demonstrate that they have changed.
As a fallible man like each one of us, Sen. Allen has made mistakes that he has personally acknowledged and apologized for. He has not only apologized, but over the course of several years now, Sen. Allen has demonstrated his increased sensitivity as well as his deliberate commitment to African-Americans and the issues that affect all Virginians.
Sen. Allen has demonstrated this commitment through his active support for Roger Gregory as the first African-American on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, his co-sponsorship of re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act, to his co-sponsorship of the U.S. Senate’s anti-lynching resolution, and lastly his active support to increase funding for minority students and our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
When you add up the $250 million to the HBCUs for technology upgrades, the $50 million in scholarships for minority students in math, science and engineering and the restoration of $150 million to Title 7, you’re talking about $450 million. That’s close to half a billion dollars going to HBCUs and minority students. That kind of support for our community speaks for itself.
A recent quote I enjoyed said, “When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.”
So, as I continue to represent my constituents, it is important they understand my commitment to them and the principles of fairness, reconciliation, integrity and respect that direct my decisions as a Senator, but most importantly as a man.
State Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III, a Democrat who serves Richmond and the counties of Charles City and Henrico, has endorsed Sen. George F. Allen in the race for U.S. Senate.
I can only imagine the heat this man has taken, having seen how the paid Webb staffers have savaged anybody associated with the Allen campaign, and the Webb internet supporters and DailyKos and RaisingKaine go after their political enemies.
For this man to stand by Senator Allen, a man I doubt he has a lot in common with, speaks both of his own character, and that of Senator Allen. A man might stand with his political allies despite knowing of a character flaw, but who would stand by a political adversary against their own party if there was any chance the character assassination had any merit?
It takes real principle and courage to stand with your political enemy against the flood. Thank you, Senator Lambert.
As an American Muslim activist, I am growing upset over the accusations that Senator George Allen is facing. Granted, the use of the word “macaca” was completely inappropriate, but I forgive Senator Allen for good reason. I have met Senator Allen personally, our organization has provided advice to his campaign, and I want to confirm it now and for all – Senator Allen is not racist; in fact, he is one of the Senate’s most open-minded and unbigoted leaders. Senator Allen has maintained an excellent track record of confronting major issues within the War On Terror, without having to alienate Muslims in order to do it.
So Allen, the Christian Jew, has a Muslim endorsement.
Personally, I was shocked that Senator Allen attended at all. After all, Senator Allen had just completed his work as the Chair of the Republican Senatorial Committee, putting him in charge of every Senatorial election that year; his work was most impressive. Republicans stormed 2004 winning a great majority of their Senate seats, despite being blamed for a lagging economy and deficiencies within the War On Terror. Most impressively though was the fact that hardly any Republican Senatorial candidates criticized Islam or blamed Muslims for our problems within the war. Instead, most Republican candidates stayed upon a logical message of separating the terrorists from Muslims and talking about the great advances that could be made within the War On Terror, provided that we continue working with peace-loving, moderate Muslims.
Obviously, such directives were coming from the Chair of the campaign, Senator Allen. In hindsight, there was only one Republican Senatorial candidate who openly criticized Muslims and that was Peter Coors of Colorado, one of the few Republicans to lose his Senate bid that year. When confronted with his management over Coors, Senator Allen was quick in letting us know that Coors was not advised to criticize Muslims, was told to apologize, and most surprisingly, Senator Allen himself said, “On behalf of Peter Coors and the RNC, I apologize to all of you for his remarks.”
Most importantly, Senator Allen kept that promise. No Senator has worked harder to resolve the matters between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir debacle. Senator Allen has traveled to both countries, in an effort to create a dialogue between Pakistan and India that will lead to a peaceful resolution. His efforts have proven well, as both countries are engaged in a dialogue today that could lead to great peace.
We were activists of Islamic faith, with skin complexions of brown and black, and ethnic heritages that went beyond the American borders. Our appearance and backgrounds didn’t stop Senator Allen from shaking our hands, giving us his time, and working hard to implement our suggestions. A man of such nature is no racist to me; based upon his strong track record, it would be suffice to say that America, the world, and our Muslims need Senator Allen back in Senate.
Muslims For America proudly gives its endorsement to Senator Allen, in his 2006 Senatorial re-election bid.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Issues? What issues?
Virginia voters may be excused if they won't be able to make an informed choice in the Nov. 7 U.S. Senate election.
Republican Sen. George Allen and Democrat Jim Webb seem to have spent more time apologizing than talking about how to move the country forward.
Allen apologized for referring to a Webb campaign aide as "macaca," whichcould be a racial slur. Webb apologized for demeaning women in the military in an article he wrote in 1979.
And whose fault is that? The Washington Post had a three-week m-word fest -- imagine 17 articles about issues instead?
The contest has reached the point where Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, said he doesn't think either campaign can get back on track with a discussion of substantive issues.
Kidd blames the negativity, in part, on an attempt by national Democrats to rough up Allen and ruin his presidential prospects. Allen has spent much of the campaign on defense.
But Kidd said Allen brought some of the trouble on himself with his macaca comment caught on camera at a campaign event in far Southwest Virginia.
Larry weighs in:
Larry Sabato, political commentator at the University of Virginia, said there has been a discussion of issues.
"Iraq is such a dominant issue that it has overshadowed other issues," he said.
Larry, if the news isn't covering it, what difference does it make?
The campaigns say they ARE talking about issues:
Dick Wadhams, Allen's campaign manager, said Allen has been discussing issues. He announced an energy policy on the floor of the Senate and has run television commercials promoting education and Internet safety, he noted.
And except for the TV commercials, nobody's heard a word in the news about this.
Kristian Denny Todd, spokeswoman for Webb, said Webb has been discussing issues, but the Allen campaign has chosen to change the subject.
Webb announced his position on the war in Iraq and foreign policy during the macaca controversy, and it got little attention, she said.
Kristian, I appreciate a good spin as much as the next guy, but to suggest that Allen CHOSE to spend a month on macaca, sorry, but no cookie for you.
And I think we know Webb's position on Iraq -- it's all the other issues we are in the dark about.
A third candidate, Independent Green candidate Glenda Gail Parker of Alexandria, is promoting more rail transportation in Virginia. She has adopted the nickname "Gail for Rail" Parker. She also is speaking out against the burgeoning budget deficit.
There's a third candidate?
But as an independent without the means to promote herself, Parker has received little attention.
And yet Webb managed to get millions in free advertising from the media. Maybe she needs a good scandal to jumpstart her campaign.
An article about not discussing issues, instead of an article about issues. Maybe that's why we don't know about the issues?
ARLINGTON, Va. — President Bush has not only embarked on his own voyage into the Persian Gulf, that Bermuda Triangle of Presidencies.
The debate over our role in the Persian Gulf crisis has focused on national, rather than specific military goals. The fundamental questions, upon which all others inevitably rest, have not been addressed. Why did we send such a huge contingent of ground troops in the first place? And under what conditions are we going to use them or bring them home?...
Answers are not forthcoming. Military officials intimate that the question would expose tactical options. Administration officials talk in vague terms: ... Cheney is telling us to prepare for a commitment that may take years. Others have been quoted as saying we may be there for a decade.
The U.S., whose interests in the region are far less than Kuwait's, Saudi Arabia's, Israel's, Europe's and Japan's, is carrying the overwhelming burden. ...
And now we are out on the international hustings, asking for financial contributions for our effort. Mr. Bush hastens to assure us that this does not make our soldiers mercenaries, but anyone with a relative or loved one ... will quickly argue that this is not a fair trade....
And what is the impact, strategically, of the introduction of all these ground forces? In grand sum, it can only be judged as negative.
Those who have called for massive, pre-emptive air strikes against Iraq must now contemplate the detriment of tens of thousands of American soldiers within range of Iraqi chemical weapons, as well as possible terrorist attacks from Iraq and now Iran.
Those who worry about the possibility of crisis in other parts of the world must recognize that a large percentage of American maneuver forces -- including as much as half of the Marine Corps -- are tied down in the waiting game in the desert.
Those who believe we should use these forces offensively should realize that this would galvanize the Arab world, invite chemical retaliation and an expansion of the hostilities, produce great numbers of casualties and encourage worldwide terrorism -- in short, open up a Pandora's box.
Others wonder about the predominance of Texans in the Administration, and the dual benefit that higher oil prices will bring to the Southwest
James Webb, soothsayer? Visionary predictor of the future?
Nope. That's James Webb, in September of 1990, arguing against the first Gulf War invasion.
At least he's consistent?
Monday, September 25, 2006
This 2006 Senate race will have one sure victim at the end of the day: The VA Blogosphere. Instead of being, what it was until three months ago, a place for regular people to engage in the issues and the politics of the day, it has turned into a can-you-top-this of muckracking, race-baiting, near-libel, and blatant attacks. Its a disgrace. This. All Of This. This.
I'm sick of it all. I' sick of macaca, of Jew baiting, of everything. I'm sick of videos, YouTube, and ever single dirty trick played by everyone.
I can't even read half the blogs I used to anymore, so full of vitriol and hate are they. Webb promised to run a campaign on the issues -- who knew the issues were his videographer, the Jewishness of Allen's 83-year-old mother, and what Allen said in college in the 70s.
Meanwhile, republican bloggers are suggesting connections between the Webb campaign and a 30's era Nazi poster. As if just noting the exagerated features in a Webb campaign ad wasn't enough.
Paid Webb campaign staffers are shopping stories about Allen being a self-loathing Jew, and suggesting his grandfather was a Nazi Collaborator.
And the democrat bloggers are implying that Allen supporters Booed a Jew, and wore SS-style patches on their t-shirts.
And some guy from North Carolina says the important thing is Allen put a deer head in a mailbox, and by the way his nickname Wizard was an homage to the KKK.
Did I mention that a Webb campaign staffer said Allen named his kids after Confederate War heroes?
I decided to stop arguing on other blogs about this stuff, it's a silly and unproductive endeavor, and I don't need the personal attacks.
So I'm quitting. If James Webb ever wants to actually express a policy position, I'll discuss it. But I'm not wasting my time on personal attacks. For a while I thought the problem was not answering it, but now I realise the problem is acknowledging it at all.
The problem with a campaign of rumors and gossip isn't that every charge is patently false, it's that none of it has anything to do with what people are today, what they stand for now, or what they will do if elected. For all I know, Webb really was anti-women. Is he that way today? That's the only thing that matters. Maybe Allen loved the confederate flag. Is he trying to hang it from the flagpole today?
Everybody claims they just want to talk about issues. That's absurd. Senators Allen and James Webb have ideas and philosophies and competing proposals (we presume). But nobody is talking about it.
We want this medium to work and to be taken seriously. Now all we are are political hitmen who get to say what the candidates cant because we are unregulated and get to post whatever the hell we want. Sometimes we are right, sometimes not. Nowardays, that no longer matters. Its all about getting the other guy. This isn't election about a Senate in Virignia. This is about trying to DESTROY both men, and I'm done with that. This is ridiculous. Our medium is turning into a joke, because all we are doing now is trying to top each other is attempting to destroy the other person. Have I been involved? Sure. After reading this thing on NLS about Allen dropping the N-bomb in college--which I did and I gaurentee millions of people have--and all the posts below had just disgusted me beyond words. This is not about winning anymore. The filth at Raising Kaine has shown that for months now. We aren't debating issues like I wanted too. Maybe I was a naieve 25 year old, but this is not what I wanted to happen to this medium. We have the power to let every person into the polticial debate, and we are turning into a joke.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
My last post touched only tangentially on a recent Salon article, because it was about Ben going over the falls, not some 2nd-rate so-called news organization.
But I thought it would be fun to make some observations about the Salon article, which you can find here. Let Fisking Commence:
Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.
That is actually the beginning and the end of the facts of the story. Salon found three white people to say Allen used a "racial epithet". And only one of them will identify themselves so we can judge their veracity.
"It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.
This was one of the anonymous people. Note he claims it was "so common" among Allen's "white friends". That's important, because if true we'd expect everybody to at least agree they heard him say this. Instead, from a little later in the article, the paragraph that would have been the lead in a serious newspaper:
Over the past week, Salon has interviewed 19 former teammates and college friends of Allen from the University of Virginia. In addition to the three who said Allen used the word "(n-word)," two others who were contacted said they remember being bothered by Allen's displaying the Confederate flag in college, but said they do not remember him acting in an overtly racist manner. Seven others said they did not know Allen well outside the football team, but do not remember Allen demonstrating any racist feelings. A separate seven teammates and friends said they knew Allen well and did not believe he held racist views. "I don't believe he was insensitive," said Paul Ryczek, who played center in Allen's year before joining the Atlanta Falcons. "He had no prejudices, biases or anything else."
So we have three people who say he WAS racist, one of whom says it was "so common" -- but 16 others don't have any recollection of any racist or racial actions. You have to presume they were also asked about the n-word, and that they said they didn't remember him saying it -- or else Salon would have told you. But being a left-wing attack piece, the journalist hides that information from us.
But there's more from these 16 teammates:
In the interviews, old teammates generally spoke of him highly, as a good friend, a bright and ambitious student, and a colorful character who embraced Southern culture, listened to country music, and attracted the nickname "Neck," as in redneck. "If a black guy dropped a pass, he would say something to him," said Gerard Mullins, who played defensive back in Allen's year. "If it was a white guy, same thing. It really didn't matter where you were from, who you were, or anything."
For Salon, that's it for the 16 people who disproved their thesis. Back to the three men who claim Allen was overtly racist, apparently while at the same time hiding it from 16 people who considered him a good friend and a nice guy:
The three former teammates, however, painted a very different picture of Allen when he was around his white friends. Shelton said he feels a personal responsibility to tell what he knows about Allen's past, especially now that Allen has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. "I got to know Allen a little too well," Shelton said, adding that he does not believe Allen should hold elective office. "He had prejudices that were deep-seated."
Getting back to Ken Shelton, who at least had the decency to identify himself:
At one point, Shelton says, Allen nicknamed him "Wizard," after United Klans imperial wizard Robert Shelton. "He asked me if I was related at all," Shelton remembers. "I knew of that name, and I said absolutely not." Several former teammates confirmed that Shelton's team nickname was "Wizard," though no one contacted by Salon could confirm firsthand knowledge of the handle's origin.
We have to start wondering about this Ken Shelton. He claims he was given the nickname "wizard" refering to a KKK leader. This was his team nickname. But he didn't tell anybody else where the nickname came from. Was he proud to be named after an imperial wizard? We don't know, but I'm sure that if someone said to me they were giving me a KKK nickname, I would have objected, and I certainly would have let my teammates know. The story simply doesn't sound plausible unless Shelton was the one who had deep-seated racist tendencies. I'm not saying he did, I'm saying this doesn't make sense.
BTW, After the vague anonymous comments by two people that Allen said the n-word, the entire article was based on stuff from Ken Shelton:
The radiologist said he decided earlier this year that he would go public with his concerns about Allen if a reporter ever called. About four months ago, when he heard that Allen was a possible candidate for president in 2008, Shelton began to write down some of the negative memories of his former teammate. He provided Salon excerpts of those notes last week.
I had friends in college in the 70s, and I can't imagine I'd be able to accurately "recollect" their racial inclinations, much less feel like I had to spend months writing down negative memories. But these notes are the entire factual basis for this article. There is no 2nd source for any of the allegations. COntinuing with the deer incident, and a possible explanation for why Shelton "came forward" NOW, and not, say last year:
Shelton said he also remembers a disturbing deer hunting trip with Allen on land that was owned by the family of Billy Lanahan, a wide receiver on the team. After they had killed a deer, Shelton said he remembers Allen asking Lanahan where the local black residents lived. Shelton said Allen then drove the three of them to that neighborhood with the severed head of the deer. "He proceeded to take the doe's head and stuff it into a mailbox," Shelton said.
Some Webb supporters have suggested this might have been a crime, and could still be punishable. If so, I expect to see the police rounding up Shelton soon, since he has confessed to the "crime". Skipping for a minute what a "deer head" would mean in racial terms, or how you would fit a deer head into a 70s-style mailbox, let's find out what Lanaham says about this in way of confirming or denying the story:
Lanahan, a former resident of Richmond, Va., died this year at the age of 53, said his aunt Martha Belle Chisholm of Richmond. In an interview on Thursday, Chisholm said that she remembered Lanahan speaking highly of Allen. "Bill was very complimentary of George Allen," she said. "He said he was just one of the boys."
Darn, that's just bad luck, isn't it, that the only NAME provided by Shelton to vouch for his story just happened to have died RIGHT BEFORE Shelton has an attack of conscience and decides to confess to hate crimes. Since I presume Salon asked Chisolm if Bill was a racist or ever said anything about Allen being a racist, I assume she said NO, so that's actually a 17th person who didn't vouch for the Salon story. And means that still the only CONFIRMED racist in the story seems to be this Ken Shelton guy, who claims to have had no objection to sticking dead deer heads in a mailbox.
I presume Salon went to that neighborhood and asked if anybody ever found a deer head in their mailbox around the time Allen was at college. I would assume that if a deer head ended up in a mailbox in a close-knit black neighborhood, everybody would know it, and it would be a story passed down and embellished over time. So since Salon seems to have found NOBODY who could remember it, that casts a pretty large doubt on the veracity of this tale.
BTW, Salon really wants to LOOK like they are fact-checking and confirming stuff, so they include this useless piece of information:
Chisholm also confirmed that the Lanahan family owned hunting land near Bumpass, Va., about 50 miles east of the University of Virginia campus.
As if the fact that Lanaham had hunting land somehow lends credence to the deer story -- although if they had found otherwise, THAT would have been pretty damning evidence against Shelton, it seems reasonable that if you are going to tell a deer hunting story, you might have actually done deer hunting with the people you are calling racists.
Ok, earlier I said Salon would drop the 16 exculpatory statements, but they come back to identify another Allen supporter from those days:
Several of Allen's teammates remember him arriving at the University of Virginia in 1971 with long sandy blond hair and surfer stories of the Pacific Ocean. "He was a Californian," remembers Craig Critchley, a family doctor in Ohio who played linebacker in Allen's year, and did not remember the senator displaying racial views. "It was like, 'Wow, man, yeah.'"
Shelton provides a parting shot, again with no evidence:
For Shelton, the memories of Allen's behavior during his football days raise clear questions about the senator's fitness for office. "I just think that someone who attains that level of higher office needs to have higher standards," Shelton said. "He has deep-seated core values that are hard to reverse despite what he says."
I would love to hear how he feels about Robert Byrd, former REAL KKK leader, whom the democrats embrace as a senior senator, and who a few years ago, while sitting 4th in line for the presidency, used the n-word in a public speech.
Stepping back, we have a boy raised by a Jewish mother who converted to Christianity, and a solidly Christian father who was a respected NFL coach. He grew up in California, and somehow when he shows up in Virginia he is a die-hard racist who nicknames teammates after KKK leaders, has deep-seated racist core values that he somehow hid from most of his teammates, and at least once took two obviously racist teammates with him to put a dead deer head in a black family's mailbox, an act which remained an apparent mystery to the entire community, and which one has to assume there is NO POLICE RECORD of a report, since Salon doesn't mention it.
None of these people ever thought to mention this during Allen's long public career, but now, in a campaign where his opponent's campaign is leveling baseless charges of racism and anti-semitism, attacking his mother and calling his grandfather a Nazi collaborator, in a race driven by the DailyKos scorched-earth team, and with a clear eye toward stopping a good man from having a chance to run for President, we suddenly have one named person making a serious of unsubstantiated claims, and they are published without any factual confirmation, and in the face of massive evidence to the contrary.
About what I expect from Salon. It's not that they are left-wing, it's that they are an embarrasment.
Allen's Lightning Bolts - Where Ben posts some Nazi pictures and notes that Allen once had some supporters who used a lightning bolt on their shirt. If using a lightning bolt means you are Nazi, I'm supposing the people at Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative have some explaining to do. Oh, and he also falsely accused Allen supporters of booing the mention of Jews at the debate Monday: "I was at a debate where Allen supporters started booing Jews".
It was that comment that prompted me to request being removed from Ben's blog roll. I've been hard on Ben here, but I haven't personally accused him of being anti-semitic, and I've always referenced actual things he did, and provided my opinions about them.
Ben knows why the people booed at the debate -- and further, there were no "Jews" there to boo.
IN fact, the only people that "booed" a Jew on monday, were the Webb supporters who booed Allen -- who Ben notes, is a Jew.
Then in a hysterical response to a silly post at the A-team in RESPONSE to his absurd "lightning bolt" post, Ben asked "Is this a threat against me?" claimed that the A-team was out to get him, because, as we all know, he is Jewish. In nonsensical fashion, Ben says:
The A-Team blog has just published 1930s era Nazi cartoons that are designed to incite violence against Jews, and then personally attacked me by name. The author also knows I am Jewish.
I don't see any way this can be seen other than a personal threat against me.
For the record, as Ben well knows, the post he references compared a 30-era's Nazi cartoon to the anti-Miller cartoon put out by the Webb team, to suggest that the Webb camp had long used anti-semitic overtones. I personally don't see the similarities as being exact enough to suggest a copy, and doubt the Webb team had seen this Nazi poster before, but to claim it was a personal threat was ludicrous.
Then (and I guess it's hard to blame Ben for this since Salon is the leftwing magazine that wasted it's time to bring us this tidbit), Ben slaps on the "Allen said the N*** word." (he used a few dozen exclamation points).
Ben references a Salon report about Allen's COLLEGE days, where they interviewed a few former classmates, most of which said Allen was a great guy with no racist bone in his body, but a few anonymous democrat supporters who remembered him saying bad things about blacks. I'm not saying anything about the veracity of the story at this time, because it's stupid. It's not like these are decorated military people willing to come out publicly and testify to actual suffering caused by the candidate for real comments made that he still hasn't disavowed (like Webb with his anti-women comments).
Now, I suppose to someone finding out somebody used the n-word 25 years ago while goofing with his buddies might actually sway them. But of course, Ben didn't tell us this was from his college days. He simply included the story link in 40-point type, and threw up a bunch of toupees.
The reason this is an issue is that people trust Ben as an astute analyzer of politics. When he throws up toupees, it usually is taken to mean there is a real story somewhere of importance.
But all he gives us is that a couple people remember Allen using the n-word in college last century, and an Allen support group used a lightning bolt patch.
Sorry Ben, but I've had it with your pretense at being a credible blog. Note I didn't even bother to criticize you for spending an entire entry attacking Wolf for his vote against earmark legislation, without once mentioning that he voted with the DEMOCRAT MINORITY because he supported tougher legislation. I suppose Feder would have voted AGAINST Nancy Pelosi on this one? Politics make strange bedfellows, but when the opposition party uses your votes with them on an issue against you in a political campaign, is it any wonder we can't get anybody to compromise or work together anymore?
I've pretty much had it with this crap. I've never really like the internet, and it's time what's gong on is exposed to the nation. DailyKos, RaisingKaine, and a lot of other blogs have gotten away with murder because they operate under the radar of the common man. It's got to stop, because it's poisoning our political process and tearing our country apart.
Why can't Webb run on issues? Is he so bad that the only way he can win is if they attack Allen's mother, call his grandfather a Nazi Collaborator, dig up words he may or may not have used three decades ago, mock ethnic Republicans, and call his supporters anti-semitic and racist?
I guess so. Another week has gone by, and still nobody is talking about anything Webb will actually DO if he is elected.
The article gives a good discussion of Allen's history, and does an excellent job debunking the baseless charges hurled at Allen from the left. I learned some stuff I didn't know. For example, that Allen made the same decision I did to stay in Virginia after college, and at about the same time:
A year later, Allen graduated from the University of Virginia law school. By this time, his family had made the decision to return to California. Allen chose to stay in the Old Dominion. He had come to love the commonwealth's history, its landscape, its people. "I was going to go into a partnership with someone in Charlottesville in an old building built in 1814," he told Barnes. "Mr. Jefferson played the fiddle there, allegedly. I bought this old building." Soon after, his prospective partner opted out of the arrangement. Allen was alone. He renovated his new property himself. "I lived in it while renovating," he said. There was no shower. "I started my law practice and then bought a log house out in the country, in the woods. Charlottesville is where I wanted to take my stand."
Oh, and I also bought an old home, here in Manassas, and spent some time renovating it (that's another story)
They talk about his service as governor, again in glowing terms:
There ought to be little argument that Allen was one of the most successful governors of the 1990s. He abolished the parole system as promised, signed into law a parental notification abortion statute, and shepherded to passage a welfare reform plan that eliminated benefits after two years on the dole. He signed into law the Standards of Learning (SOL) education reforms, the model for President Bush's No Child Left Behind act. Allen, who criticizes No Child Left Behind on federalism grounds, likes to point out that the standards he championed are far tougher than Bush's. The best evidence of Allen's success as governor came in 1997, when Virginians elected his handpicked successor, Attorney General James Gilmore, governor on a tax-cut platform.
They give a surprisingly good concise explanation for Allen's "Jeffersonian Ideals" -- as a fan of Libertarianism, I've alway appreciated how Allen melds the concept with his conservative principles:
Throughout his career, Allen has sought to govern by the principles of what he calls "common-sense Jeffersonian conservatism." In March, when I asked Allen what this meant, he said, "It means I trust free people." As a symbol of Virginia's heritage, and as a model for self-government, Jefferson has served as the touchstone for Allen's politics. "I look at Reagan as a modern-day Thomas Jefferson," he told me. Then, unprompted, he quoted from Jefferson's 1801 Inaugural Address: "The sum of good government is a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another but otherwise leave them free to regulate their own pursuits of industry. And the government shall not take from the mouths of laborers the bread they've earned."
They also note that he shares MY frustration with the Senate. Not surprisingly, Webb's campaign has distorted this truthful observation to suggest Allen is "bored", or somehow "not concerned" with his job. But as you can see, it's just that he wants to accomplish things, and the Senate, well, doesn't always seem to have that goal:
The Senate has frustrated Allen. He said it surprised him "how long it takes for them"--his fellow senators-- "to get things done." He went on, "They're the most collegial bunch of folks you'd ever want to meet. I'd never seen more people take so much time to make a decision. They need action."
They deal directly with the absurd "racism" charges:
Last week, one outside adviser sent me a seven-page white paper of Allen's "African-American Accomplishments." These included, as governor, "safer communities," "enterprise zones," an "urban revitalization initiative," support for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, support for Black History Month, appointing a "significant number" of African Americans to state government posts, criticizing discrimination against black farmers, funding the Virginia Slavery Museum in Jamestown, "authoring a resolution" at the 1997 National Governors' Association meeting condemning church burnings, welfare reform, education reform, and support for hate crimes legislation. As senator, Allen has, among other things, cosponsored a resolution condemning the Senate for failing to pass anti-lynching legislation, and hosted, along with Georgia Democratic congressman John Lewis, two civil rights pilgrimages--one to Alabama, the other to Virginia.
The article mentions the good response Allen got from a recent Fairfax Republican "ethnic rally" event:
On a recent Saturday, post-"macaca," the Fairfax County Republican Committee held its Third Annual Ethnic Community Campaign Kick-Off Rally in the Edison High School auditorium in Alexandria. Outside the school, a few protesters milled about. One wore a gorilla suit.
You wouldn't have known that, though, from speaking to the people inside the crowded auditorium, who made up an incredible collection of hyphenated Americans. According to the event program, there were, in alphabetical order, Afghans, Africans, Bolivians, Chinese, Colombians, Cubans, Filipinos, Indians, Iranians, Koreans, Pakistanis, Peruvians, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese--all waving American flags, carrying balloons, and wearing buttons embossed with the names of local Republican political figures.
A local party activist named Gary, a retired engineer who recently returned from an overseas vacation, told me he paid no attention to the protesters. Gary is white. Sen. Allen's verbal slip-up, he said, was excusable, even understandable. "He felt too relaxed and slipped. It came out the wrong way," Gary said. Then he paused and smiled. "Sometimes I get into trouble like that, too."
Onstage, Puneet Ahluwalia, a northern Virginia businessman, introduced Allen, who launched into a cheerful and enthusiastic mangling of greetings in the native languages of those assembled, racing through each phrase, stumbling over diphthongs and glottal stops, and barely pausing to acknowledge the audience members, who laughed, yelled out corrections, and cheered. It was a pleasant scene: a run-down school auditorium filled with delighted Americans, young and old, and a veteran politician who still was smiling. And here, for the moment, no one had any questions about Allen, race, or ethnicity, and the protesters outside might as well have been a thousand miles away.
I wish politics could be that way all the time. I wish we could stop playing the politics of personal destruction. If Allen had given a major speech, or written and published an article attacking the ability of blacks to do a job, that would be a real charge that would require an answer
(oddly, Webb did that about women, and nobody in the media seemed to care). But the Webb campaign's exclusive focus on tearing down Allen and his family have soured the political discourse, just like they did against Harris Miller, their Democratic Primary opponent.
The article also takes the Washington Post to task, showing the absurdity of their m-gate obsession simply by noting the overwhelming coverage:
A second reason is the incredible amount of coverage the Washington Post devoted to the controversy. According to the Lexis-Nexis research database, prior to August 15, 2006, the only mention of "macaca" in the Post occurred in a June 2003 "Travel" piece that mentioned the famous monkeys of Gibraltar. Between August 15 and September 18, however, the Post mentioned the "macaca" incident some 44 times. During that time, "macaca" appeared in seven front-page (A1) news articles. It appeared in six front-page "Metro" (B1) articles. It appeared in no less than three editorials and one op-ed column. This sort of coverage is what reporters mean when they say "flood the zone."
Of course, us conservatives know why the Washington post would "flood the zone" on what was a single disrespectful comment to an opponent's campaign worker. But this also again demonstrates that the word isn't as offensive at some pretend. IN fact, the article confirms something I had speculated about when the story first appeared:
He is also curious. As Sidarth tells it, after the Breaks event he sought out a dictionary and looked up "macaca," which he found refers to a genus of monkey, and in certain cultures is used as an ethnic slur.
In fact, even today you can go to dictionary.com and you will find only 3 references for "macaca", none of which suggest a slur of any kind. But the important thing is that Sidarth was not offended immediately. He had to look up the word before he had any idea what it meant. And even in his own self-serving account, he wasn't "offended" until he saw the definition, and it wasn't until then that he put the video out.
The video became available on late monday/early Tuesday, and Allen apologized on Tuesday -- so much for the misrepresentation that Allen apologized "too slowly". The article doesn't explain why it took Allen another week to apologize directly to Sidarth, which is odd because even I know that answer: Allen wanted to apologize personally, but Sidarth stopped showing up at his events (I assume on orders of the Webb camp). After spending a week hoping to apologize to his face, and apologizing (too much I thought) in the press, Allen gave up and tracked him down to apologize by phone.
Politically it would have been better for Allen to just call him up the first day, but Allen actually CARED that he had hurt Sidarth's feelings, and wanted to make sure the young man personally understood that. IT wasn't political for him, it was a misunderstanding that he wanted to correct because that is the kind of man Allen is.
But for the purpose of the article, this apparently wasn't important -- because their fault with Allen is NOT that he occasionally says the wrong thing, but that he let the story get out of hand. They fault his campaign staff, and they fault him, for not handling what they and the rest of us know should have been a one-day story. I don't fault Allen so much because I don't see how you can overcome three weeks of unpaid political attacks by the Post, but I do share their frustration.
But this is a political issue, not a personal one. This is not an attack on Allen's character, or his position on issues, or on the fact that he is an excellent Senator. It's about how he handled a meaningless event.
The also fault him for his handling of the question about his Jewish Heritage, for the same reason -- they understand his position, and don't think the issue or the question was appropriate, but wish he could have done a better political job.
Well, I guess at one level I wish Allen had done a better political job, because then we would be talking about real issues that actually matter instead of this crap that the Webb campaign wants to talk about.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Now, Riley over at the A-Team reveals a much more DIRECT connection to the Webb campaign, in the post Did I really read this?!?!?!?:
UPDATE: It turns out that this post was promoted on Raising Kaine by Ingrid who I am told is Ingrid Morroy. She is the Webb campaign’s treasurer. Is there still any question as to if Webb’s people are the ones behind peddling this garbage?
Promoting is what puts things on the front page of RK, it is an endorsement of the ideas in the post as something worth reading. It means the post is something RK want's the world to read when they first arrive.
Webb's Campaign Treasurer is PROMOTING the story that Allen's grandfather was a traitor to his people.
Meanwhile, the Webb campaign staff is whining about the Allen campaign staff calling them out on their offensive tactics, complaining he is "unfairly attacking him". I've never SEEN a political campaign before where the press gave ANY interest whatsoever in what two campaigns said about each others workers, because it is simply assumed that they will spar and attack and fight and call each other names.
Well, if Wadhams deserves to be "demoted" for attacking Webb's staff about their tactics, what should the punishment be for a Webb staffer who attacks an 83-year-old woman? Or now, how about a Campaign Treasurer who calls a dead Jewish man who was imprisoned by the Nazis in WW2 a "Nazi Collaborator"?
If she isn't fired by Monday, it will be clear that James Webb has no problem with this line of attack, and he will be held responsible. Allen is held responsible for what HIS staff says, and it's time we held the Webb staff to the same standard.
Anyway, here's some snippets from my weekly column, which now appears on Thursdays in the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger, titled "Discussion of Torture Needed":
Suppose a criminal has kidnapped a member of your family. The police catch him. Before being silenced by his lawyer, the kidnapper says the hostage is alive, but won't be for long. You need to act quickly, but the criminal isn't talking. And under our system of justice, the police cannot question him.
If you could get an hour alone with him, what would you do to get him to talk? Would you use torture? Would you mind hurting him to save your child? Would you violate his rights, even if it meant he would go free, to save your family member?
My goal is to make people think personally about the issue, to weigh the difference in response to a general intellectual discussion of harsh interrogation techniques ("Of course, we shouldn't do that") and the response if you are personally responsible for the consequences of choosing NOT to question a suspect. Now jumping forward:
Our rules of justice are clear -- criminals have rights, and we don't violate those rights, even if it means the death of innocent people. Fortunately, the situation rarely comes up with common criminals. Our morality rarely costs us more than a guilty man going free. That is a price we are willing to pay for the moral high ground.
Now our government is debating the forms of interrogation we should use against terrorists. This is not some election-year ploy; this is a serious issue that requires serious thought, discussion, and resolution. Our decision will define us to the world for a generation. And on this serious issue, Republicans are leading the discussion on both sides.
Unlike some conservatives, I was not upset at the actions of Warner, McCain, and others. This issue was not a political issue, it is something (as I argue following) that we had to confront, discuss, and decide on. And I was happy that republicans were willing to risk looking "divided" in order to ensure the discussion was had. Which it was this week, and a better compromise was reached as a result. With no help from the democrats, who according to the New York Times "remained on the sidelines, sidestepping Republican efforts to draw them into a fight over Mr. Bush’s leadership on national security heading toward the midterm election." That's not leadership, it's cowardice.
The discussion involves the meaning and purpose of the Geneva Convention. It's important to understand this point -- the Geneva Convention was not adopted because soldiers aren't worth interrogating, but because they are.
An "average" soldier could know important information, that if revealed could save the lives of his captor's people. They could know the location of troops, bases, and supply lines. They might even know the date and location of a major offensive operation. Torturing soldiers could save lives.
But since nobody wants their own soldiers tortured, the Geneva Convention was adopted. Its purpose is to ensure that neither side will mistreat soldiers to gain information. That could mean lives will be lost, but it is better than having your people afraid to be captured because they would be tortured. And if your enemy knows you will treat them humanely, they have reason to surrender rather than fight to the death.
This was a response to some conservatives who argued with me that the Geneva convention was acceptable because simple soldiers wouldn't be worth questioning anyway. But also to answer liberals who suggested that torture would be worthless (as did a letter responding to my column). Torture can get you wrong information, especially if the person doesn't know something. But it will also get what the person DOES know -- McCain himself gave away valuable but fortunately old information, for example, when he was tortured. And Kaleed Mohammad (I butchered that name I bet) gave us actionable information that proved true and led to the capture of terrorists and the prevention of attacks. If you oppose torture, do so because it's wrong, not by false claims it doesn't work anyway
So I agree with Sen. John Warner on this point -- if we are talking about troops following the rules of war, we should clearly reject coercive or harmful interrogation techniques. But we must distinguish between lawful war, and unlawful terrorism.
So did both Allen and Webb at the MTP debate, although as I mentioned in a previous post, Allen didn't just say he agreed, he spelled out the importance of balancing both our security and our morality -- a position Warner also took, and which led to the successful compromise (I await Webb's position on the final bill, since he already signed in with Warner/McCain but the DailyKos/MoveOn crowd is having a fit; maybe Webb will disavow another endorsement here).
If an enemy is fighting dirty, we should be allowed to use some coercive techniques to find out what their next unlawful act will be. Those who plan and carry out illegal acts of terrorism don't deserve the same protections as lawful combatants. The Geneva Convention doesn't require it, and morality doesn't dictate it. This is what we need to discuss -- but let's not confuse the issue by comparing terrorists using illegal acts of violence with soldiers following the rules of war.
I respect those who argue that all humans, no matter how "inhuman," should be treated with basic human decency. But before we adopt that position, its advocates must make sure the American people understand the consequences of their choice.
I purposely chose not to use "torture" here, because I personally oppose invasive "torture" techniques such as, say shooting a suspect in the leg (although it works well in the movies and on TV, most memorably in the movie "The Patriot Games" where Ryan puts one in the kneecap of the traitorous British Attachee who promptly tells him the terrorist's escape plan and complement). The word "torture" skews the debate, so I used "coercive interrogation techniques" (not, as some might suspect, to pad my word count).
Suppose we capture a terrorist that is part of a plot to set off a nuclear device in our country? If we forbid coercive interrogation, and he won't talk over tea and crumpets, we won't stop the attack. Can we accept a hundred thousand Americans dead, a million injured, and a city destroyed?
Opponents of coercive interrogations must explain to the survivors the deaths of their loved ones. They need to make the case now that not putting a terrorist's head under water for a minute is more important than the lives of innocent Americans.
My point being that there is a morality involved in both choices; just as someone said the Constitution is not a suicide pact, neither to I think our moral strictures are meant to lead to our exinction.
Senator McCain suggests we should just break the rules in cases like this. I reject that. If there are instances where coercion is acceptable, we should say so. We are a nation of laws.
I had found McCain's suggestion on this point objectionable enough to me to put in in the article, even cutting another good paragraph somewhere to keep it. It was kind of out of place, but those who know me know I hate passing laws that we expect people to break in the normal course of business, like speed limits and the 21-year-old drinking age.
We have stopped terror plots that would have killed Americans through the use of interrogation techniques that, while mild, would be curtailed if we do nothing. If we are going to make that decision, it has to be because the American people have had the choices clearly explained, and are willing as a nation to accept the death of our citizens for the principle that we will not scare terrorists into talking.
That last paragraph was missing from both the print and online editions. I've got to find out why they keep dropping my last paragraph -- it's repetitive, but I do that for a reason. Anyway, it is my summary -- we could choose to reject any interrogation that could possibly run afoul of article 3, but those doing so must explain and accept the consequences.
I had expected there would be a few more days of discussion before a compromise was reached, and people might call Senator Allen and Warner about this topic. But on the day my article was posted, the compromise was reached, and the bill is now being debated on the Senate Floor.
I support the compromise.
This is not just sloppy. In some cases, it is offensive to the group being identified, because it can be seen as a lack of respect.
I apologize to all groups for which I've failed to capitalize, including but not limited to the many Jewish readers of this site, many of whom oppose my opinions and have reason to suspect my motives. Please accept my word that I did not mean any disrespect, although my actions were disrespectful, and accept my promise that I will make every effort to properly capitalize in the future, at least in my own blog posts.
I had pointed out previously that people who were Jewish might be more likely to launch anti-Jewish attacks because they would know how powerful they could be. But re-reading a lot of RaisingKaine posts, and noting the context in which claims of "Being Jewish" were made both there and at NotLarrySabato, I realised that being Jewish is a great cover for launching such attacks, because if your opponent calls you on your attacks, you can say "Why would I do that, I'm Jewish".
It's part of politics I dislike, but if you want to call your opponent a racist, you send out a person of color. If you want to call him anti-women, you trot out women. If you want to attack his religion, you use people of that religion.
This does not prove that attacks are being made -- but that is not in dispute. It is factually clear that the attacks are being made (at least in some of the cases -- as I said in Ben's case, I don't think he purposely meant it, but I was dissappointed he refused to acknowledge and correct what I thought was inadvertant jew-baiting with his comment about Miller and church).
From Raising Kaine, just another of the myriad of disgusting posts you can find there every day, things that are just what the rabid base of the Democratic Party eats up, but which would likely offend any normal Democrat. Is this what Lowell means when he says he wants the Webb campaign to talk about real issues? Without further ado, excerpts from Raising Kaine, the unofficial website of the Webb campaign, a fascinating work of vitriol called George Allen and the Lumbroso Code:
Now, to justify his implausible claim of ignorance, he has trotted out his octogenarian mother to issue a touching but equally unsatisfactory apologia.
This refers to a Washington Post story where Allen's mother reveals that she hid her Jewish heritage from her entire family, including Allen, proving his claim true, which is of course a bit problematic for the "Allen is a self-loathing Jew" "issue" the Webb campaign was pushing.
What it boils down to: Allen’s grandfather Felix Lumbroso (Allen’s grandmother, Felix’ wife, seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle), a Jewish Tunisian businessman with ancient family ties to Italy, suffered a terrible experience during World War II. He was “incarcerated” or “imprisoned” by the “Nazis.”
OK, I could believe they quoted "incarcerated" or "imprisoned" because they are quoting what was said. But why would they quote "Nazis", do they think the Germans have plausible deniability on the issue? Sounds like they are trying to raise doubts of the entire story, doesn't it?
So terrible was this experience, the story goes, that his daughter, Allen’s mother, resolved to never tell her children of the reason for his incarceration, or to fend off their questions with vague generalities.
Hm. Don't people use "the story goes" when they are trying to suggest it's not true?
So Allen grew up believing that – in his reported words, on various occasions – Felix Lumbroso had been incarcerated by the Nazis “because of his prominent position,” or because he had been an “Allied sympathizer,” or because he had been a “member of the Free French resistance” or the “anti-Nazi resistance,” or even because he had espoused “economic freedom”! Never, apparently, was George told – nor did he guess -- the most obvious reason for his grandfather’s incarceration: because he was Jewish.
And that couldn't be because he believed his mother, could it? Don't the people at RK believe their mothers?
Obviously, having her father hauled away by Nazis in 1942 or 1943 could be a terribly traumatic experience for a young girl.
You think? But not so much that we don't want to make her relive in in excrutiating detail so we can score political points against her son.
Still, a glimpse into the situation of Jews in Tunisia during that period is enlightening. To begin with, Tunisian Jews were – with a handful of exceptions – not subjected to the absolute horrors befalling their coreligionaries in northern Europe.
So the shoe drops. But it gets worse:
Of a population of many thousands, only about 20 Tunisian Jews were transported to the European death camps.
"His odds were very low of being gassed, so he should feel lucky"
Many more – perhaps 10,000 – were conscripted into forced labor, and were sent to camps (Bizerte being the largest and most harsh) or to private farms or factories.
"See, not bad at all, he was probably just enslaved -- no big deal"
There was a small but active Resistance in Tunisia. Published records show that at least two members of the extended Lumbroso family were active in the Tunisian resistance, with one of them, Lucien Lambroso, being decorated with the Croix de Guerre after the war. But Allen’s grandfather Felix is nowhere mentioned in these records.
Hmm, I wonder where this is going....
Most probably Felix was simply one of the thousands of able-bodied Jews (and others) who were conscripted into forced labor camps and who, when the Axis occupation collapsed in 1943, simply walked back to their homes. But is this a reason for traumatized silence?
There with that "simple enslavement" thing. Is RK even Democrat, don't they know slavery was a big deal? But now we get into the real slime:
These Lumbrosos would have been – in the broadest sense of the term – “collaborators” with the Axis occupiers. Upon arriving in Tunisia, the triumphant Allies promptly (if briefly) incarcerated a number of Tunisian collaborators – mostly Italian – in the same labor camps that had weeks before been occupied by Jewish conscripts. Did this fate befall Felix Lumbroso? Is this the skeleton in the closet?
Yes, that's what they said: Allen's grandfather was actually a German collaborator, and was imprisoned NOT by the "Nazis", but rather by the Allied Forces. Of course, they have proof to make this claim right? You don't just accuse people of helping the Nazis, especially a Jewish person, without SOMETHING, right?:
There is absolutely no evidence for this, but the confusion of Allen’s statements opens the door to endless speculation.
So, the Webb paid campaign staffer, Lowell, runs a web site, which uses the name of our Governor, Tim Kaine. And at his web site, paid for by the RaisingKainePAC, which supports Democrats, a blogger has posted, and had promoted, the theory that Allen's grandfather was a Jewish Nazi collaborator who was imprisoned by the Allies -- and they did so with NO EVIDENCE.
Why would they make such an offensive, vile, and outrageous charge?:
In short, it seems that George and his parents engaged in a lifelong “don’t ask – don’t tell” conspiracy. Etty has since made her true motivation clear. It was not the trauma of her father’s wartime experience that kept her silent. It was, sadly, more mundane than that: fifty years ago, large numbers of Americans were still blatantly racist and openly anti-Semitic.
Etty's QUOTE from the Washington Post article: "What they put my father through. I always was fearful," Etty Allen said in a telephone interview. "I didn't want my children to have to go through that fear all the time". I guess Raising Kaine thinks Etty is a liar now, too.
And why would they call this 83-year-old woman a liar? So they can make THIS comment:
All of this makes sense. And George Jr.’s studied ignorance of his family history begins to fall into place: he is, after all, his mother’s son. But his professions of ignorance contain a huge dose of implausibility: is he the Bubble Boy? Has he been kept in clinical isolation from his extended and extensive Lumbroso family through all of these decades? No contact, no conversations with aunts, uncles, cousins? I can tell you outright, and from experience, that it is impossible for a grown man to be unaware of the religion of half of his family…especially if it is a Jewish half!
Yep. Allen's a liar because his mother's a liar. Just like Allen was a racist because his mother was a racist.
Oddly, nobody questioned that John Kerry wouldn't have known his "religious heritage", or Madeleine Albright.
Lowell can profess his "outrage" all he wants about references to his web site. But so long as his site contains blatant garbage like this, and he does nothing to stop it, he deserves all the ridicule he gets.
Oh, and to answer RaisingKaine's rediculous question: Yes, Allen was kept from that side of the family. From the Washington Post:
Leo Mugmon, 92, a longtime friend of Allen's mother who knew her as a Jew in Tunis, recalled her decision to hide her faith when she came to the United States.
"She did not say anything to her mother-in-law or her family," Mugmon said. He added that Etty Allen's father, Felix Lumbroso, traveled from Tunis for the Allen wedding. "Mr. Felix didn't say anything about it. In silence, he sort of condoned it."
Allen never denied his grandfather might be Jewish, he said he didn't know, and his mother wouldn't say. But his mother kept this secret from her husband's parents, and from her family, and her friends:
Allen's mother said she first began concealing her Jewish roots after meeting her future husband, afraid that she would not be accepted by his parents and fearful that her religion could harm his budding coaching career, which started at Whittier College, a school in Southern California founded by Quakers.
"He didn't want me to tell his mother," she said of the elder George Allen. "At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the church."
That's the truth. His mother decided to hide her Jewish heritage because, as RK notes but dismisses, there was blatant racism in those days. And she kept the secret for years. And at some point, keeping the secret became more about having kept a secret, than the secret itself. How do you tell your family you have been hiding something for so long?
Many elderly confront this problem -- having kept a secret long past it's usefulness, they are fearful that revealing it might drive away their family and friends, when they need them most. Etty was obviously scared of this, because when she told Allen, she said this:
When I told Georgie, I said, 'Now you don't love me anymore.' He said, 'Mom, I respect you more than ever.' "...
"I said, well, I just didn't want anyone to know," she explained. "I had said, 'Please don't tell your brothers and sister and your wife.'
So up to three weeks ago, Allen said his mother wasn't Jewish because that's what he was told by his own mother. And Allen declined to answer the question on Monday because he honored his mother's wishes to keep her secret.
In fact, Allen had just recently learned about their Jewish roots when he made those comments. Allen declined to comment, but his mother said she had sworn him to secrecy.
Allen's mother says the recent events are exactly why she kept her secret:
"The fact this is such an issue justifies my actions, and my behavior."
Well that, and Raising Kaine using her revealed Jewish heritage as an excuse to call her father a Nazi collaborator. While most of us want to think the racism that Etty feared died a long time ago, Raising Kaine shows that it is still alive today in the blog run by a Webb paid campaign staffer.
UPDATE: Fixed multiple capitalization problems, including "Jew", "Jewish", "Democrat", "Lowell", "Nazi", "Allied Forces", and probably a couple others. Also a typo or two. Thanks to David for pointing this out.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I responded in the comments, but in doing so I decided to promote the issue up here.
So, I ask you, Where's terrorism in Webb's own issues page?
I searched for the characters "terror" in his entire issues section. THere are THREE references:
- Terrorism and Iraq were separate issues, until George Bush incorrectly and unwisely linked them
- First, it was a diversion from, not a response to, the war against international terrorism.
- This would give us the ability to contain the terrorist threat within Iraq without continuing our occupation.
That's it. Not one word about FIGHTING terrorism.
"Protect" is only there once, and its "protect our values".
"Security" is there 6 times, not ONCE in regard to dealing with our security:
- speech on national security
- National security policy under the Bush-Cheney Administration
- and homeland security is being neglected
- Iraq is in a crisis that we must address now in order to make progress on all other security matters.
- ... the border security solution.
- There is a consensus that our border security must...
In other words, there is nothing in his entire issues section about how to protect our country against terrorist attack in a post 9/11 world. BTW, 9/11 isn't in their, neither is "attack". Oh, and defend isn't either.
I've saved off a copy, in case Lowell figures this out and changes it.
While looking back over the old posts during the Webb/Miller fight over Miller being Jewish, I came across a common theme, that I had missed at the time.
First, here's Lowell Feld, responding to the charge that the Webb campaign was making sure Virginians knew that Miller was jewish:
They are also "Jewbaiting" three original members of the Webb "draft" - Josh Chernila, Lee Diamond, and myself - all of whom were raised Jewish.
Then there is Ben Tribbet (NotLarrySabato):
Since I am Jewish, I find this to be the most offensive thing ever said about me.
The implication was that, as Jews, they couldn't possibly be using Miller's Jewishness against him.
But in fact, the opposite is true.
They would have a unique perspective of what being known as Jewish means to how you are perceived by others. A non-Jewish person might have no idea how being known as Jewish makes people think less of you, or causes them to treat you differently.
So in fact, someone who knows that might be more likely to use it against political opponents than someone who doesn't. Or at least, not less likely.
Now, I don't know whether these people, and others involved in the Webb campaign, all mean what they are saying all the time. I can only speak to the MESSAGE they are sending, not their motivations. It could be that they don't understand what it means to go out of their way to label someone a Jew, especially in the context of calling a mother a racist.
What is evident is that Lowell (who put a Jewish Star of David on his web site for a time this week before yanking it without explanation), and Ben, and others associated with Webb, are working hard to make sure the "Allen - Jewish" connection is known to the world.
And given the anti-semitism of some "Progressives" posting at DailyKos and other web sites, and the attempts by Democrat bloggers three weeks ago to figure out how to "use" Allen's Jewish heritage against him, I think it is fair to ask "why are Ben and the other Webb supporters so fixated on labelling Allen a Jew?"
Updated: Fixed capitalization of "Democrat", "Allen", "Jew", "Progressives", and "Jewish".
On an area radio program during the primary, Harris Miller, Webb’s opponent, said the following regarding Webb’s anti-Semitic flier, “I was very disappointed in this piece. I mean frankly it’s despicable, I’ve never seen anything like this in Virginia politics before. I was very disappointed to see it, and I’m sorry its part of the campaign. It was also only distributed in certain parts of Virginia as if people there would fall for that imagery. One of the things I was hoping we could keep out of this campaign, because it has nothing to do with the campaign, is my religion and my background.” (The Politics Program with Mark Plotkin, WMAL Radio, 6/9/2006)
Now, one opponent complaining about you bringing up their religion and their background, you could dismiss that as simply politicking. But two straight opponents, from two different parties, and two different political ideologies, BOTH claiming that your campaign is unfairly focusing on your jewishness?
Webb has a problem -- he's probably NOT anti-jewish, nor do I think he really believes that Allen's heritage, or Miller's heritage, were truly appropriate things for his campaign staff to use in an election. But he hasn't lifted a finger to stop them, and when asked about it on Hardball tonight, he missed an opportunity to apologize. But rather than come clean, he avoided the questions and instead attacked Allen's campaign manager.
And lest we forget, the Webb campaign has been making fun of the campaign manager's name for months, calling him "Dick Wad(hams)". We don't know how Webb feels about making up names for people in the other campaign -- Allen did it once, and apologized for it. Webb won't answer questions about that, or about his paid bloggers, or his campaign's penchant for dwelling on the matter of jewish heritage.
Still my favorite allusion to jewish bigotry was that shown by a man who says he is half jewish, and who denies he meant ANYTHING anti-jewish in his statement. Discussing Democrat Harris Miller's use of an analogy regarding a church choir, Ben Tribbet (NotLarrySabato) felt he had to throw in THIS important piece of information:
From yesterday's debate:"Asked later whether he thought Webb is a legitimate Democrat, Miller said that
"when you welcome someone to the church, you don't necessarily invite them to be
the choir director the next day."
There might be nothing more uncomfortable than a candidate whose analogies don't come from personal experience. Harris Miller is Jewish and doesn't go to church! Of all the analogies he could choose- why this one which he obviously has no idea about?
Ben insists he meant nothing by it. But it plays into the theme that the "red-state" voters are christians and might not appreciate a candidate who doesn't "go to church" (I presume Miller DOES go to church, a jewish synagogue to be precise). Miller, BEING A JEW, wouldn't understand anything about the life of us "christians". Note the "why this one he obviously has no idea about?". Why would a christian vote for a man who has no idea what a choir is?
Ben INSISTS he meant nothing by it, but his entire complaint made NO sense without that context. Even athiests can grasp the concept of a church choir. And the analogy was a good one -- and I most certainly attend church regularly. No, This post by Ben, a major Democrat blogger, targets the democrat's perceived bigotry of christians toward people who "aren't like them" -- such as jews.
We all know that Miller, Webb's primary opponent, is jewish. We now know that Allen, Webb's general election opponent, has a jewish heritage. How many other candidates are there for which you know whether they have a jewish background? How many of those did you learn from the opponent's campaign?
There's a pattern here, and Webb refusing to answer questions about it only makes it seem he is directly involved. Webb needs to come clean. He needs to apologize, and frankly, he needs to dump Lowell Feld, like some democratic bloggers are calling for.
This is Virginia, and DailyKos/MoveOn.org-style tactics are not welcome.