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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Game Needs Some Snarl

- You might have read about, or saw snippets from, the snarly testimony by David Addington before a House subcommittee late last week. Addington, the current chief of staff and former legal counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, practically growled and HISSSed at the Democrats who had the unmitigated gall to question him about his shadowy role in introducing and spreading the culture of the harsh treatment and torture of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq to Afghanistan, and beyond. Addington was thoroughly smug, arrogant, and disrespectful, not only to the Subcommittee members, but, in turn, to the people they represent, whose right to know about potential governmental violations of international law and human decency is part of the freedom that we're told our troops are fighting for over there.

The proceedings stood in stark contrast to the recent House subcommittee hearing, entitled “Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns: Killing Time Before the Elections.” Or something like that. For one thing, last week's hearings concerned a topic that we should all actually care about; as opposed to some convenient industry bashing prompted by a statistically rare fatality that happened to occur at the Derby.

And these latest hearings were, of course, completely lacking in the self-inspection, self-reflection and self-flagellation that we heard from some racing industry witnesses, and which we have been hearing and reading throughout the industry press and blogosphere for weeks now.

One thing we all seem to agree on is the need for a strong leader - a "commissioner of racing." And whaddya know, Addington figures to be out of work before long. (And I say that even acknowledging the unlikely [he says with a mixture of hope and desperation] possibility that Senator McCain will win in November. The senior Senator from Arizona isn't nearly as conservative as he's presently tryi ng to make himself out to be, and I have little doubt he'd quickly dispatch creeps like this guy.)

I think it might be good for the industry to display a little snarl instead of the current passivity. "Mind your own business; we're dealing with it," Unitary Commissioner David Addington might have scolded Rep. Whitfield. "Besides what are you going to do? Open the Interstate Horseracing Act? Ha! Do that, and you'll all be wondering where a lot of your special interest money went. And what are you going to tell your constituents back home who you'd be threatening to put out of business? And the parents whose school aid depends on revenue from racing and simulcasting? Yeah, go ahead. Interstate Horseracing Act my hairy ass! Do you have any other questions?"

To his credit, NTRA President Alex Waldrop issued a vigorous statement himself, though without the rude reference to his rear quarters. He decried the notion of governmental involvement, while "nearly shouting" according to Ray Paulick's surprisingly engaging live account.

Whether Waldrop is the guy to unify the industry remains to be seen. But for now, all this brooding and moping is just unbecoming for true degenerates like us. Horse racing is what it is. It's a game, one with millions at stake for everyone involved. As such, and, on this continent, true to its very American roots, it has its ample rough'n'tumble side along with measurable doses of seediness, sleaziness, and cheaters. Whatsmore, a great deal is asked of the horses, and a small number of them get hurt or killed. Didn't you know all that when you signed up? Is there any difference between this and the securities markets? Or the NBA or the NFL?

Surely, it hasn't been a great month for the sport. But I don't see anything so horrible going on here. A couple of drug positives for prominent trainers - yeah, what else is new? A jockey whipped his horse wrong and got immediately suspended; so, people don't screw up? The handicap division is weak because horses retire early? That sucks. Guess I'll have to bet on the 99,000 other races instead. And the sport therefore can't attract new fans? That's unfortunate; but it's mostly their loss (though I'd love to have their money in the pools).

If this attitude makes me guilty in your eyes of not taking this all seriously enough, then so be it. There's enough stress and heartache in the world, this is supposed to be fun. To be sure, part of that enjoyment is thinking about the issues the industry faces, forming opinions, debating them with friends and in chat rooms and blogs, doing what one can to be heard. But obsessing over them at the expense of appreciating every chance one gets to contest this irresistible game isn't fun at all. And it ain't fun reading and hearing about it over and over either. So please cut it out already. HISSSSS!


Anonymous said...

I saw the House subcommittee hearings with David Addington.

Congressman Delahunt came across as a real scumbag.

Here's a guy collecting a state Pention,free medical and his six figure salary.

A real Hack!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan - I too felt Congressman Delahunt was an absolute jerk. He stated that he was glad Al Qaeda could get a look at David Addington. Does he want Al Qaeda to take him out ? Oh those poor detainees. I guess the democrats want them back on the battlefield ASAP.

Bob From NJ

Alan Mann said...

Hey Bob - Rep. Delahunt's comment was unfortunate. Borne out of frustration from an intransigent witness no doubt, but stupid and thoughtless nonetheless.

However, I see that, as usual, the conservative bloggers are using his misstatement to obscure the real issues. Funny, I didn't read any of them being outraged when that FOX commentator joked about Obama being assassinated.

Democrats don't want terrorists back on the battlefield; but they don't want innocents locked up forever at Guantanamo with no due process; and they want to see prisoners treated as we'd expect our own to be. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan,

Just out of curiosity, in your estimation, what % of the folks on lock-down at Guantanamo are "innocents?"

Can you hazard a guess for me?

Alan Mann said...

>>Can you hazard a guess for me? '

No, I can't. But, apparently, here's one. (And this is from your Wall St Journal so please spare me the 'liberal media' stuff.) I'd hazard a wild guess that he's not the only one, y'think?

Anonymous said...

So, one poor schmuck gets a raw deal. Look, I always vote democratic, and the Bush administration is a terrible embarassment that this country might never get over. But...the dems get KILLED in elections when they start whining about prisoner's rights at Guantanamo. Hey, it sucks, it's far from perfect, but the dems shouldn't spend too much time playing a violin for the handful of people at Guantanamo that get a raw deal. Fortunately I think Barak gets it and he'll stay away from this issue. You should also take a hint, Alan. Aren't there more important issues than the 10 or 20 suckers at Guantanamo who got railroaded? Most of those dudes would love nothing more than to detonate a nuke in downtown Manhattan. Get your head out of your ass! (and I say that lovingly)

Alan Mann said...

>>Get your head out of your ass! (and I say that lovingly)

Wow, that's really sweet! :-)

Yes, there are more important issues, and it's a dodgy one for the Democrats I agree...Hillary wouldn't even touch it. I just have a big problem with people being locked away with no recourse based on someone's say-so in the fog of war...even if it's only 10-20 suckers. And even McCain was for due process there before he was against it!

Anonymous said...

Addington's message to Delahunt's constituents: Send a jerk hack like Delahunt down here to represent you and this is what you get. And in case you missed it, check out the latest show trial on You Tube! And next time vote Republican for a CHANGE!

Then there's the Green Police at the convention, and the ban on fried foods by the food police. Huh?! Why else do you go to a national convention? To party, get drunk, eat crappy food, and generally have a helluva good time. Nope, not with the New Puritans! You can't make this stuff up. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Not a big fan of President Bush but I love the way He's Killing the Enemy.

When in England,
at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by
the Archbishop
of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example
of empire
building' by George Bush.

He answered by saying, 'Over the
years, the United
States has sent many of its fine young men and women
into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.

The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return
is enough to bury those that did not return.'

could have heard a pin drop.

steve in nc said...

I've already written & deleted hundreds of words in anger at those who support torture or belittle people concerned about it. Now I've counted to 4,000 or so, calmed down, and I'll just say that torture is a crime against humanity. May it never happen to your children. Or anyone's children.

If the government had slam-dunk cases agaisnt the detainees, don't you think they'd have tried them years ago, and televised the trials? Instead, cases of demonstrated mistaken identity probably outnumber the convictions. You can fit the Arabic speakers in our military intelligence community in your living room. Ignorance is why our policies have been so bad, and why our forces have no clue which dude with a beard and turban is a terrorist and which one is caught up in a personal, political or religious feud.

Speaking of clueless, back to the racing industry...

I for one, support the Congressional hearings, no matter how many ignorant things are said. The racing industry's leaders have "led" the sport into its current horrid state.

Just last Saturday, I waited for a filly in the 9th at Monmouth to make her winning move, with "5-2" listed as her odds on the monitor down the backstretch. She paid $5.80. They won't/can't even take care of easily soluble problems like that. They don't care about me as a bettor. I don't care about them. May they lose all their power.

Federal pressure is already showing positive results. I hope the people's reps put the industry kingpins' balls in vice (metaphorically, of course -- I do seriously oppose torture).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Children (Steve in nc)

Imaging your child(let say daughter)had been kidnapped and buried somewhere and you have the person who did It in your possession,but he wouldn't tell you(after hours of interrogation)where your daughter is buried.

What do you do Steve?

steve in nc said...


Good scenario. But it never happens except on Fox's 24. Go find me a case.

Wanna know where our Guantanamo interrogation techniques came from? A American analysis from 1957 of how the Chinese used torture to extract FALSE confessions from US POWs in Korea. Don't take my word for it or sneer at the NY Times where it is on the front page today -- go look at the sources they're using. Here's the link (remember to cut & paste carefully because of spaces & line breaks):

So evem under your dream scenario, you might well get false information from your captive. Most experts on interrogation I've heard interviewed say that people under torture will say whatever they think their captors want to hear to stop the torture, so the info is notoriously unreliable.

The US officers who interrogated capatured Nazi officers played chess with them, treated them with respect, appealed to their humanity, and in some cases got some usable intelligence. It did take time. Instant successes happen only on TV.

Also you make a big presumption in your scenario -- that you actually have the right person.

But forces don't even know who they have in many cases. They grabbed a muslim Canadian citizen a few years ago at JFK, sent him abroad for a few years of torture, and it turns out he was the wrong guy. He's been freed and is back with his family in Canada. His attempts to sue have been thrown out because his case would reveal US intelligence and methods.

This is why we need to allow even those we think are terrorists to go to court in a fair proceeding. Allowing that is what separates us from the guy in your scenario who kidnaps a child. There are children at Guananamo, you know (at least they were children -- they're probably over 18 now). Even if those kids were soldiers, they should be treated as victims of their elders -- like those forced into combat in Africa -- not as terrorists.

Just two days ago, a very conservative US appeals court with a number of GOP appointees unanimously ruled that our military presented absolutely no evidence that the detainee in question is an enemy combatant. Turns out the "evidence" was the Chinese government's say-so. The judges quoted Lewis Carroll in belittling the government's case. The guy in question is a Chinese muslim who claims to have been escaping China and supports the US. And apparently, we've tortured the guy for years either out of ignorance or as a favor to the Chinese. Most of the judges decision is classified so we'll probably never live long enough to see just how bad the military's intelligence is in this case.

OK -- scratches are probably in. In AQ's 6th, is The Cuban Hawk a horse both of us can agree on?

steve in nc said...

Oops. race 7. Sorry.

Alan Mann said...

Steve - Actually I was hoping you wouldn't bother responding; it's a ridiculous scenario, and one can make up something hypothetical in response to anything.

Here's the complete link to the Times article. What a joke.

>>Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after reviewing the 1957 article that “every American would be shocked” by the origin of the training document.

“What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions,” Mr. Levin said. “People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don’t need false intelligence.”>>

And sorry, I went elsewhere in that race! Not that The Cuban Hawk can't win, but I think he'll be seriously overbet considering the long layoff.

Anonymous said...

So,Hypothetically Steve's daughter is buried under groud(see above post 11:38) and "Steve in nc" has the man resonsible for his daughters terrifying circumstance but would not take the time to Waterboard the suspect for information of his daughters whereabouts.

Steve said..

"even under your dream scenario, you might well get false information from your captive".

So,Steve would not Waterboard the suspect because the suspect "MIGHT" give him false information.

Sleep well Steve.

Anonymous said...

Former CIA Director George Tenet said the "aggressive interrogations” of top al-Qaida leaders brought the U.S. more valuable information about planned terror plots than all of the government's other intelligence gathering efforts.

"I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots," Tenet said in a "60 Minutes" interview set to air Sunday, before the release of his new book "At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA.”

"I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.”

steve in nc said...

Tenet's claim runs counter to lots of other experts & evidence. The sad thing is he probably believes it. The Chinese knew they were getting false confessions out of our troops. Tenet's CIA uses the same techniques, believes the confessions are truthful, and sells you rubes on them.

Sleep well knowing that by supporting torture you're inspiring people who've never met you to want to blow up your plane. That's the real threat, not your mythical kidnapper.

I'm done. But I'll respectfully consider any future posts you put on this string.