ChrisWeigant.com

Should America Assassinate?

[ Posted Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 – 17:27 PDT ]

Assassination, as a foreign policy option, is supposed to be completely forbidden to America. That's the theory, at least. But in our post-9/11 world, the once-unthinkable is now increasingly being seen as a viable option. The moral discussion of whether or not America should engage in assassination, though, hasn't even really begun in any noticeable way. Which is a shame, because the country as a whole should consider what its leaders are doing in this respect. Especially while we're bombing Tripoli, once again.

Assassination, as a concept, has been around pretty much as long as written records have existed. There are assassinations in the Old Testament of the Bible, and in the writings of Sun Tzu in China. In Rome, assassination was extremely common. Machiavelli mentions it favorably in The Prince. But defining what is (and what is not) actual assassination is harder than one might think.

The English word comes from the same root as the word "hashish." From the etymology of "assassin," traced by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Arab. hashshashin and hashishiyyin, lit. "a hashish-eater, one addicted to hashish," both forms in Arabic being applied to the Ismaili sectarians, who used to intoxicate themselves with hashish or hemp, when preparing to dispatch some king or public man.

The first definition of the word in the O.E.D. reads as follows:

1. lit. A hashish-eater. Hist. Certain Moslem fanatics in the time of the Crusades, who were sent forth by their sheikh, the "Old Man of the Mountains," to murder the Christian leaders.

This all comes from that well-known peripatetic Marco Polo, who described the sect following Hassan-i-Sabbah (the "Old Man of the Mountains") as "Assassins." Polo also passed on a legend about the group (which is mostly disbelieved today), which explained their fanatic loyalty to Sabbah. Candidates for becoming Assassins were drugged with hashish, and then while asleep were deposited in a beautiful garden. Upon awakening, the candidate would find himself surrounded by nubile young women and plants and fruits he had never seen before. He was told he had been allowed to temporarily visit "Paradise," and was left to enjoy himself for a while. Drugged into sleep once again, the candidate was returned to face Sabbah, who informed him that he had now seen the Paradise which awaited all those who served Sabbah faithfully.

As a mythical recruiting tool, it's a pretty good story, one has to admit. However, no trace of such gardens have ever been found at the stronghold fort that Sabbah used as the seat of his power, and no mention of such has been found in the writings from this stronghold, so one wonders whether Marco Polo was just reporting a tall tale told to him on his journeying. Even the story of Assassins getting high on hashish before their attacks is likely a myth as well.

But the Assassins themselves were far from mythical. They were a powerful force in the region for centuries, and the closest well-known concept today for how the Assassins were seen back then might be "Ninjas." Assassins infiltrated the leadership of Sabbah's enemies, and would kill the leaders rather than attacking any of the followers -- often in mysterious ways in the dead of night, to further the mythos of the Assassins themselves.

Because they had pretty much trademarked the "cut off the head of the organization" tactic in the eleventh to thirteenth century in what today is Iran and Syria, the name of their organization became synonymous with their signature tactic. Hence the English word "assassin" and "assassination."

In more modern times, assassinations have had enormous consequences on the world stage. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand precipitated World War I, which led to the deaths of over nine million people before it was over. In World War II, the United States specifically targeted the commander in chief of the Japanese Navy (the man who had planned the Pearl Harbor and Midway attacks), Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto, and killed him by shooting his plane down. After the Church Committee revealed in the 1970s that the Central Intelligence Agency had tried to assassinate Fidel Castro numerous times, President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11905 which restrained the U.S. intelligence community in a number of ways, and included the specific ban: "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." Pretty cut and dried, one would think.

The question Ford's order begs, though, is how exactly is "political assassination" defined, and what does it mean in the post-9/11 world? Was killing Yamamoto really an "assassination," or was he a valid military target in the midst of a war? Exploding cigars for Castro was obviously over the line, but where exactly was that line drawn -- especially in the context of international terrorism?

President Ronald Reagan decided that taking a pot shot at Libya's Colonel Ghaddafi was acceptable, back in the 1980s. Ghaddafi's residence was targeted, although he (quite obviously) was not killed in the attempt. Reagan targeted Ghaddafi for supporting terrorism in Europe which had targeted United States soldiers. Was this justifiable use of military force against an undeclared enemy, or was it flat-out an assassination attempt? Opinions differ.

Jumping forward to today's world, I don't think anyone would argue that (for instance) targeting Osama Bin Laden with a cruise missile wouldn't be justifiable. It would indeed be an assassination (under a loose definition) of a single man by the United States military, but this man has already attacked us directly -- even if he is not a political figure or head of state. My guess is that few tears would be shed in America if we were to take Bin Laden out in this fashion, and few people would even bring up the morality of assassinating individuals in the resulting discussion afterwards. In fact, we have tried to kill Bin Laden in such a fashion already, under President Bill Clinton.

If Clinton's cruise missile had struck its target (reports are that we missed Bin Laden by only a matter of hours), would 9/11 ever have happened? Well, that sort of alternate future is impossible to predict with any accuracy. Perhaps Al Qaeda would have faded away, but there's also a good chance that the "martyrdom" of Bin Laden would have spurred them on even more than a live Bin Laden could have.

Assassination is a tricky thing, precisely because of such unknowns. As military logic, it is almost as old as the concept of warfare itself -- take out the leader, and the followers will have nothing left to fight for, and will put down their arms. Killing a rival to the throne on the battlefield, back in the Middle Ages, pretty much ended the war right there. Without a figurehead, there simply wasn't much reason to continue fighting. In modern warfare, the higher the brass, the more valuable to the enemy's military. Remember that not only were the Twin Towers attacked on 9/11, but also the Pentagon and either the White House or the Capitol (the intended targets of the fourth hijacked plane). Bin Laden, obviously, subscribes to the concept of taking out the leadership by force.

The lines begin to blur when civilians and political leaders are targeted, however. President Obama has authorized the targeting and killing of an American citizen, for instance, believed to currently be in Yemen. He is accused of fomenting Al Qaeda attacks against both American civilians and the American military, and has therefore been put on a "death list" by our president.

And then there's Ghaddafi. The N.A.T.O. bombing of Ghaddafi's compound this week in Tripoli was rationalized as an attack on Ghaddafi's "command and control" facilities. This same thin veneer of plausible deniability was used by Reagan, back in the 1980s -- even though it was plainly obvious what we were trying to accomplish.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we dropped a bomb on Ghaddafi's head tomorrow, it's easy to see that the situation in Libya would change almost immediately. Ghaddafi is the one holding his backers together, mostly by force of personality. If he were to be taken out, the remains of his regime would have a tough time rallying their forces (perhaps under one of Ghaddafi's sons). But, again, making such predictions is a tough thing to do, because it is almost impossible to say what would happen if a such vacuum of power were created in Libya right now.

Nobody's going to admit, if such a bombing was successful, that Ghaddafi had been personally targeted. Diplomatic niceties would lead to statements from both America and N.A.T.O. that Ghaddafi just happened to be in a command-and-control center when the bomb hit. Diplomatic fictions aside, however, it's easy to see that some in N.A.T.O. are seriously considering this option. Just a few days ago, the main Ghaddafi compound was hit again, in what was obviously an attempt to get lucky. It's not going to be too surprising if we take such pot shots in the future, either.

But what gets lost in the diplomatic fictions and plausible deniability (and all the rest of the hindquarters-covering euphemisms) really needs to be hauled out into the open for some serious discussion. Is America now comfortable with assassination as both a military and foreign policy option? We've deluded ourselves into thinking -- since the mid-1970s -- that we're somehow "above" the assassination tactic. Every president since Ford has backed Executive Order 11905 -- even while sweeping parts of it under the rug. It's likely that the American government is never going to publicly admit assassination as a valid military tactic in the midst of wartime -- it will always be explained away as part of the "fog of war," and other such convenient excuses. Even if we do successfully target Ghaddafi in the coming days or weeks, not too many Americans are going to complain (especially if it leads to a drop in gasoline prices). And it is also likely that nobody in America is going to do anything but cheer if we successfully dropped a missile on Osama Bin Laden's head one of these years. By his own words and actions, Bin Laden has proven to be an enemy of this country -- meaning he is indeed seen as a valid military target to most people. The "American Taliban" guy in Yemen, however, raises more of a moral question. Does the American government -- whether the president or the military -- have the legal power to declare a United States citizen essentially "open game" anywhere in the world? Is America really comfortable with this concept?

Don't get me wrong, here. I'm not arguing against assassination as a valid military and foreign policy tool. My personal feelings on the subject are mixed, at best. It's easy to see the game-changing effect such assassinations might have on the world stage. What's not so easy, however, is to accurately predict the blowback. Taking out Ghaddafi might indeed calm things down in the region -- but then what would be stopping us from sending a team in to assassinate the leader of Syria next week (to pick just one example)? Walking down that road would lead us back to the 1950s, when the C.I.A. regularly attempted such things in the Middle East (which is how we got the Shah of Iran, which bred the Iranian revolution). It's a vicious cycle, once started. And, to flip the coin, it would mean that we would be legitimizing attacks against our leaders by our enemies, as well. Which might take the cycle all the way back to when the word was coined to describe a group who was attacking Crusaders (and others, to be fair).

Which is why I firmly believe that if America is going to choose to go down this road, it behooves us all to have a much more in-depth discussion on all sides of the issue -- military, diplomatic, and moral. If we're going to legitimize assassination as a valid American foreign policy tool, we really should do so with our eyes wide open.

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

29 Comments on “Should America Assassinate?”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Which is why I firmly believe that if America is going to choose to go down this road, it behooves us all to have a much more in-depth discussion on all sides of the issue -- military, diplomatic, and moral. If we're going to legitimize assassination as a valid American foreign policy tool, we really should do so with our eyes wide open.

    I like your bottom line which is particularly interesting given that nowhere in this essay asking if America should assassinate and outlining a brief history of assassination and its prohibition does the name ‘Kennedy’ get mentioned. Perhaps, that is fodder for a whole other piece ...

    You ask if America is now comfortable with assassination as both a military and foreign policy option. Far from being a matter of being comfortable with the concept, it's more likely, in my view, a matter of being in complete denial.

  2. [2] 
    Hawk Owl wrote:

    This is a thoughtful invitation to really think about a complex issue, especially in a society where our movies & war games invite and even indoctrinate us in the idea that a complicated problem can be "solved" by demonizing a single powerful figure, eliminating him a la an old Arnie Schwarzenegger movie with a single well-placed shot. But it seems to me it begs the question, a critical question such idealized dreams ignore,. . . whether it would WORK? From my decades of watching history, it seems equally as likely that such a killing would only create a martyr, a rallying call for outraged followers who would seek revenge, perhaps for a lifetime. Is it possible that the cruise missile attacks on bin Laden might have led to 9/11? We know WE would instantly and intensely seek revenge, perhaps on a grand scale, if a president were so killed. How do we know that "THEY"are any different ? ? ?

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    HawkOwl,

    We know WE would instantly and intensely seek revenge, perhaps on a grand scale, if a president were so killed.

    You wonder if the assassination option works. While I know what you meant by that, I also have to say that the option worked very well already, albeit in a scenario in which the US government was both perpetrator and victim. It worked in the sense that there was no accountability for the conspirators and no accounting of the truth ... just a perpetuation of a falsehood.

    You suggest that you are certain that Americans would instantly and intensely seek revenge if a US president were assassinated by forces abroad. And, yet, Americans have seemingly preferred to enter a state of perpetual denial in the case of an assassination of a US president hatched from within the US government.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i'm not exactly sure where i stand vis-a-vis assassination. if i were to argue in favor of it, i would say the greatest threats to our nation are internal, not external. then again, i'm sure tim mcveigh thought the same thing...

  5. [5] 
    tommymccarthy wrote:

    I so hope...That I did NOT just hear my old and trusted friend "N.Y. Poet22" weigh in that..

    There is even the SLIGHTEST possibiity that domestic assassinations within the United States might under certain circumtances be tacitly acknowledged as acceptable...

    A phrase in our beloved language, which may....at first blush, come to mind .....
    "The exception that proves the rule".....
    does not...(and must NEVER) apply here.

    More properly stated...this would be:
    "The exception that NEGATES the rule (and ALL the rules!)"

    No matter WHAT extreme circumstances one might hypothetically conjure ......

    Contemplating such in this instance would be the equivilant of abject surrender to the forces of darkness and despair...

    As in so MANY other arenas in the current civic life of our country...

    Like the ancient maps of the world
    (drawn by the very BEST minds of THEIR day!!)
    It seems just a step or two more on the current sorry course and.........

    "BEYOND HERE BE DRAGONS!"

    To Chris, Liz, Josh, Michale & all

    Hoping you are well

    Regards
    TM

  6. [6] 
    dsws wrote:

    At the start of the current Iraq war, an enthusiastic supporter of that war described the mission as removing Saddam Hussein from power, dead or alive. My response was something like, "So, it's just a really big assassination attempt?"

    To be honest about it, we need to articulate a position on assassination that we're willing to have all governments live by. Some exceptionalism is ok, as long as we're willing to apply it equally: whatever special license we have as the world's greatest military power, China must also have the moment they surpass us; whatever special license we have because we're morally in the right on the big picture, every country must have equal claim to, insofar as they believe they're morally in the right.

    In the case of assassinating terrorists overseas, it may be helpful to compare it to the question of when police can and can't legitimately shoot a suspect.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's definitely a touchy and interesting subject..

    I completely agree with you, CW..

    It SHOULD be openly discussed.

    But said discussion should not get marred or bog'ed down with overt emotionalism.

    Any discussions should start with the assumption that, yes.. Assassinations are bad and it would be just peachy keen wonderful if we didn't have to resort to them.

    Establish that as a point of agreement and then move on to the real discussion and weighing the pros and cons of the act..

    As I am sure ya'all will guess, I really don't have a problem with assassinating a scumbag who so richly deserves it.. But I also believe it should be considered an option of, if not last resort, at least quite a ways down on the list of possible options..

    In short, as with torture, keep it in our Root Kit but don't become overly fond of using it...

    Michale......

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Like the ancient maps of the world
    (drawn by the very BEST minds of THEIR day!!)
    It seems just a step or two more on the current sorry course and.........

    "BEYOND HERE BE DRAGONS!"

    "Yer off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!"
    -Captain Barbossa, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

    :D

    I am well, thank you. :D

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    I'm in a rush today, but just wanted to say "good to see you" to tommymccarthy.

    Also, Michale, that was a surprisingly reasonable response from you. No offense intended... heh.

    From another thread: Michale -

    I noticed a big omission from your list of documents you somehow feel the entire public is entitled to see of presidential candidates: military records.

    So, should Bush and McCain have released their full records? What were they hiding... hmmm?

    Heh. Two can play at that game, that's all I'm saying.

    :-)

    (sorry for the short responses, more later...)

    -CW

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    Also, Michale, that was a surprisingly reasonable response from you..

    Hay now!! Let's not be sayin' things we can't take back!!! :D

    So, should Bush and McCain have released their full records? What were they hiding... hmmm?

    Abso-frakin'-loutly

    And I am sure the Left made some loud and boisterous hay about them NOT doing it..

    Heh. Two can play at that game, that's all I'm saying.

    And, as usual, yer dead on ballz accurate...

    The Left demanded complete disclosure from Bush...

    Why is it so unreasonable that the Right demands the same from Obama??

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    yes tommy, you're right that it's a slippery slope to oblivion. the trouble is, most of the biggest threats to our country's well-being are internal, the foremost being the take-over and naked exploitation of all the machinery of government by the financial sector. the housing bubble almost sent us into a second great depression. if something isn't done soon, the next bubble may finish the job and be followed by a period of widespread poverty even deeper than the first great depression.

    of course i don't like assassination as a domestic political tool, and of course it throws the pretense of civilized society out the window. but perhaps if the big-shots on wall street felt like some jobless and desperate individual hurt by their exploitation could get at them anywhere they went, we might see some protection or restoration of the middle class.

    i.e. i don't want it to happen in real life, but i would very much like to see a movie about it.

    Coffee makes me nervous when I drink it. Mmm.
    ~sling blade

  12. [12] 
    tommymccarthy wrote:

    NY Poet22....

    As often happens, we are in sad accord.

    Thanks for that little sciatic thrill down the long-unused neural pathways of a middle-aged radical.

    Huey was freed some time ago (no thanks to us)...and that particular war WAS stopped (though we have three new ones to take its place)
    But we can still declaim for "All Power To The People!"...just to keep the synapses popping..
    should they be needed..........heh.

    All kidding aside,....
    Isn't ironic that the most vociferous and politically active of our citizens today
    seek to "take back" the country....
    not from the banks and the corporations.....
    but from the "socialist" Obama and his fellow travelers in the few remaining labor unions
    (and those dastardly propagandists at PBS)??
    Makes one wonder who they want to hand it to should they get ahold of it.

    I hope someone more talented than I is at work on a screenplay such as you describe.
    I envision a sort of "slasher" film..
    With legions of former middle-clsss homeowners run amok on Wall St. with lawn & garden implements that they had secreted away from the forclosure auctioneer's hammer...... Most satisfying.

    Good old Billy Bob...
    Nice to know I'm not the only one who has cast HIMSELF as "Karl" in a daydream/mini-movie in which Hank Paulson, or (dare I hope?).. Dick Cheney asks:

    "Whatcha' doin' with that lawnmower blade, Tommy?"

    Mmmmmmm......

    Regards
    TM

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Isn't ironic that the most vociferous and politically active of our citizens today
    seek to "take back" the country....
    not from the banks and the corporations.....
    but from the "socialist" Obama and his fellow travelers in the few remaining labor unions
    (and those dastardly propagandists at PBS)??

    No more ironic than the most vociferous and politically active of our citizens in 2008 sought to "take back" the country from the evil Bush and his minions..

    The more things change, the more they stay the same..

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    tommymccarthy -

    To paraphrase Joe Bob:

    "Lawnmower-fu. Wall Street-fu. Auctioneer hammer-fu. Three breasts. Joe Bob says 'check it out!' "

    Heh. [For those of you scratching your heads, go Google "Joe Bob Briggs" for edification. You're welcome.]

    michale -

    Still running ragged today, spent many hours over in the Media Relations building at Chris Weigant Enterprises, Inc... long story.

    But, answering a different thread (which I haven't had time to read fully), I say to you what I said before Obama released anything yesterday, and which is my standard response:

    When you can answer the following without referencing a time machine or Gary Seven, then I will listen to anything you have to say on the birther topic -- HOW did those birth announcements appear in two newspapers? This is the key fact which disproves any birther consipiracy theory, at least if you still shave with Occam's Razor.

    My only response to birtherism is ridicule... which allows me to plug today's article, which has now been posted! Enjoy, all!

    -CW

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    HOW did those birth announcements appear in two newspapers?

    That's actually the EASIEST to explain..

    My lovely wife was born in Rota, Spain...

    There is a birth announcement in the Mesa, AZ paper that announces her birth...

    If my wife was President today, she could claim, based on the strength of the newspaper announcement, that she was born in AZ...

    But it would not be factual..

    Regardless, my point of contention is not whether or not Obama was born in the US or not... It's really an inconsequential point.

    My question is, WHY???

    Why did Obama wait so long to release this information?

    Why is Obama refusing to release other records, such as school transcripts and the like?

    I just think it's far that we hold Obama to the same disclosure standard that the Left tried to hold Bush to...

    What could POSSIBLY be more fair than that??

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    CW,

    Lawnmower-fu. Wall Street-fu. Auctioneer hammer-fu. Three breasts. Joe Bob says 'check it out!'

    i was thinking more like a "Falling Down" scenario, with michael douglas:

    "What the hell are you trying to do? Kill me with a golf ball? It's not enough you have all these beautiful acres fenced in for your little game, but you gotta kill me with a golf ball? You should have children playing here, you should have families having picnics, you should have a goddamn petting zoo. But instead you've got these stupid electric carts for you old men with nothing better to do. [shoots up the golf cart] Now aren't you ashamed? "

    michale,

    Why did Obama wait so long to release this information?

    my impression is that it's because he didn't think it was politically worth responding to. up until now, nobody in the "legitimate" media took the birther claims seriously. mostly, it made the righties look like crazypants, so it served his political interests to let them rant.

    when some independents had started to question whether there was any substance to the claims, it served his political interests to take the birthers to the woodshed.

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    when some independents had started to question whether there was any substance to the claims, it served his political interests

    And you don't have a problem with a President who puts his political interests before the welfare of the country??

    to take the birthers to the woodshed.

    Careful... :D If a Republican had made such a statement, he would have been set upon by the Left as a racist.. :D

    Michale....

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    "What the hell are you trying to do? Kill me with a golf ball? It's not enough you have all these beautiful acres fenced in for your little game, but you gotta kill me with a golf ball? You should have children playing here, you should have families having picnics, you should have a goddamn petting zoo. But instead you've got these stupid electric carts for you old men with nothing better to do. [shoots up the golf cart] Now aren't you ashamed? "

    Now THAT was funny!! :D

    Kudos on the movie quote...

    Michale.....

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    And you don't have a problem with a President who puts his political interests before the welfare of the country?

    the welfare of the country depends on the president hunting down his own birth certificate? as if he doesn't have something better to do with his time? the guy's a politician, so exactly as you say, if the welfare of the country doesn't hang in the balance, then it's normal for media decisions to be made based on politics.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    the welfare of the country depends on the president hunting down his own birth certificate?

    According to the President and all who chimed in to support the President, this has been a "bother" and a "distraction"..

    But who made it that way??

    The guy who stubbornly refused to reveal what turned out to be no big deal certainly deserves some of the blame, if not most of it..

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am sure there is a little voice inside of you that agrees with me and wishes Obama would have just come clean a couple years ago...

    On the other hand, I am also sure there is ANOTHER little voice inside of you that is pissed Obama caved at all!.. :D

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    OK, here's my last word on the subject. I mean, I realize it's fun for you to poke the Lefties with the birther stick, but deep down I think you know that it's all a bunch of hooey, because I think you're smarter than that.

    When was I convinced that Obama was born in Hawaii? When I found out that -- long before he ran for president -- he had a US Passport. End of story. Case closed. He had to prove to the United States government that he was born in the United States, and they accepted his documentation. If they hadn't, then he would have had to apply for American citizenship (which he would have been entitled to, no matter where on the planet he was born) when he was 18, just like everyone else.

    If he hadn't used his birth certificate, and had become naturalized when he was 18, don't you think the birthers (or Hillary Clinton, for that matter) would have dug this up? Like I said, case closed.

    That's when I was sure, personally.

    Then the newspaper announcements came to light -- which were from actual state records (the STATE notified the newspapers, not his family). Again, case doubly closed.

    Then there was the release of the short form. If there had been any hanky-panky, the conspiracy would now have included Hawaiian officials, both in the past and current. The current ones were Republicans. Case triply closed.

    Now the long form. Case quadruply closed.

    As for blaming Obama (the victim) for the hoopla surrounding the subject, that simply does not pass the laugh test, no matter what Fox News is saying about it.

    I'll bet 100 Quatloos right now that you'll eventually hear from the Right that Obama should be taken to task for "being above the law" because Hawaiian law simply does not allow anyone to get their long form copy. That's right -- that elitist Obama got the governor to actually waive the law and make an exception for him to get the copy.

    What else? Oh, the "African" -- to even address this one way or the other, you'd have to have a bunch of other Hawaiian long forms from the era, both with black American parents and black African parents, just to see what the state routinely listed them as. If such evidence came to light, and nobody else was listed as "African" then maybe you'd have a case, but in a vacuum, you just don't.

    Occam's razor, dude. Either lots and lots of people are involved in a giant conspiracy and none of them have leaked anything; or else ALL the evidence points to the simple fact that Obama was born exactly where he's always said he was.

    C'mon, dude, which is the smart answer here?

    Sheesh.

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Oh, and we're still waiting for George W. Bush to release his military records. As we are for John McCain to release his tax forms, his birth certificate (he was born in the Canal Zone), and for him to also release his military records. Either McCain or Bush could easily have done so, but they have not. Now who is trying to cover things up, eh?

    Couldn't resist.

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    As I have repeatedly said, this isn't about whether or not Obama was born in Hawaii..

    At least for me it wasn't..

    It has always been about Obama being Mr Transparency, yet refusing (what turned out to be) the simplest of things..

    It's about Obama saying one thing and then doing and being the exact opposite..

    THAT is what it always has been about, as far as I am concerned...

    I could list them, if you would like...

    THOSE are valid arguments..

    I am on record as saying that the birthers are as crazy as the 9/11 truthers...

    But it is also factual that Obama could have prevented this from going so far into the mainstream..

    This is also a factual statement...

    That is, and has been my point all along...

    Michale.....

  25. [25] 
    tommymccarthy wrote:

    CHRIS,

    Thanx for your kind response and your fine work here and elswhere as always.

    I'll confess I was one of those who had to follow your suggestion with regard to "Joe Bob Briggs" in order to "grok" your allusion.
    As with almost every "Google".... my edification extended beyond my original question.

    It turns out that I HAD heard of "Joe Bob" previously...but under his given name...John Bloom.

    He was one of the more prominent spokesmen for the (ultimately unsuccessful) campaign to "preserve the historical and cultural value" of the many B-Movie or "Art-House" theatres in the Times Square area during the big clean-up of the early 80's.
    I'll confess that his campy declamations championing the first ammendment and the arts with regard to these theatres fell largely on deaf ears...even among those of us predisposed to oppose ANYTHING the city wanted to "improve" on general principles.
    Whether x-rated or not....those of us familiar with the neighborhood universally referred to these venues as "Jack-Shacks"...ahem....and thus unworthy of historic or cultural preservation.

    With regard to this particular movie genre....I have always been as one with Yogi Berra, who, when asked: "Don't you know ANYTHING?" famously responded: "I dont even SUSPECT anything"
    ..until today that is.

    Speaking of concurrences:
    Here's Craig Ferguson's two-word take on the candidacy of Donald Trump..with which I quite agree.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swd7g4EruB4

    It's at about 5:20 of the video.....
    Once you submit yourself to 11 seconds of advertising you can scroll ahead and back as much as you like...because "CBS Cares"

    BTW:...I was much taken with the imagery of ...
    "The Media Relations Building at Chris Weigant Enterprises"......
    I imagine something like George Lucas' old "Industrial Light and Magic" campus down in Marin...heh

    All the best
    TM

  26. [26] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 [16] -

    OK, now I gotta put "Falling Down" on my movie list. Maintaining this site has some weird side benefits, and one of them is the high movie-quotability quotient of the audience, I will freely admit. But my favorite golf movie will always be "Caddyshack," I have to say...

    Nice use of "crazypants," too.

    Michale [17] -

    Oh, PUH-leeze. Where, exactly, do the "interests of the country" come into to Obama proving something he's already proven? I mean, really...

    It's Obama's fault he doesn't answer every lunatic accusation out there? Spending his time doing this would DETRACT from the "interests of the country" for him to be doing his job, I would think. Sheesh.

    OK, though, your comment in [21] was the most cogent you've offered up on the whole scene so far. So, in the midst of heaping steaming piles of ridicule upon you (which, in my opinion, you richly deserve), I have to admit, that was a very sharp barb! Heh.

    tommymccarthy [25] -

    I am eternally indebted to Joe Bob Briggs, as he is a gold standard for my style of writing (the only other person on the same level would be Dave Barry). I routinely "borrow" from JBB, and I used to actually (search my archives for his name in quotes) credit him every time I used one of the following:

    "I'm surprised I have to explain this stuff."

    "You just can't make this stuff up, folks."

    and, of course, his signature line when reviewing drive-in movies: "Something-fu. (number of) breasts. Joe Bob says check it out."

    I've never read anything he's done under his real name, but I was amazed when he started a political column (around the mid to late 1990s) which didn't even mention movies, because it was the most straightforward political writing I had read since the heyday of Hunter S. Thompson (pause for everyone to genuflect towards their wetbar).

    So you, sir, have sent me on a Google quest for "John Bloom," for which I thank you, as "Joe Bob" was such a big influence on me. Anyone who doubts this should Google a random Joe Bob Briggs column, and compare his style with mine -- the similarities are quite obvious, really.

    I'm running on a slow connection right now, so I'll have to check out the Craig Ferguson clip later. I quoted Craig last Friday, as I recall, on he reminded us all (as a public service) of the day Skynet took over. As you mentioned... CBS cares.

    Heh.

    I'm glad you liked the "Media Relations Building" quip, as I was unsure whether to make it a "building" a "wing" or just the "eighteenth floor at CW.com Towers." Man, I spend too much time being creative in these comments, don't I?

    If anyone asks me nice (as a comment to FTP[165], today's column), I will explain the reference, I promise.

    As for ILM, I think I speak for many a geek who responded to the news that they would be taking over the Presidio in San Francisco: "They CAN'T put ILM there -- that's where StarFleet Headquarters has to be built!!!"

    Heh. I bet I get a response out of Michale on that one, when he gets back from his long weekend...

    :-)

    -CW

  27. [27] 
    dsws wrote:
  28. [28] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    in light of US spec-ops finally getting bin laden, the timing of this column is downright prophetic.

  29. [29] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws and nypoet22 -

    Nope, no special knowledge up front. I was thinking solely of Ghaddafi, and OBL was just a "what if" scenario to toss out there. Although there was a bit of discussion of such over on HuffPost comments, I do admit.

    I thought this column had been vindicated when I heard the news we had killed Ghaddafi's son and granddaughters. I thought to myself: see, bringing up this conversation WAS relevant and necessary, and I'm glad I did so.

    I mean, hard as it may be, put yourself in Ghaddafi's shoes. After the Reagan attack, he (quite famously) slept in a diffent place every night -- to avoid ever being targeted again. He did this for YEARS, I should mention. And you simply can't call it paranoia -- he had concrete evidence people were out to get him.

    Now, we drop three bombs on the house he's staying in that night, in the midst of this conflict. If you're Ghaddafi, you've got to be wondering: "HOW did they know I was here?" This spreads so much REAL paranoia ("Who can I trust?") that it's just got to rattle him.

    That's when I thought this article was vindicated.

    But, seriously, never in my wildest imaginings did I think Bin Laden was about to fall. Although, I did give this week's MIDOTW to Leon Panetta...

    Heh.

    -CW

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