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Pundit Roundtable

Hi there, welcome back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our weekly gathering of pontificating pundits here at WILLisms.com. I am your host, Ken McCracken.

Our topics this week are both very serious:

Topic 1: The New York Times has been blowing the lid off secret intelligence operations such as NSA wiretapping and flights throughout Europe and elsewhere of suspected al-Qaeda agents. Is it time to rein in the press and institute some kind of wartime censorship controls? Or are these revelations good for our democratic system? What are your thoughts on this whole issue?

Topic 2: Do you wear boxers, or briefs? And if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Our first guest is a return visitor to the Roundtable, Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse. Rick?

Okay...so. Wartime censorship? Interesting concept but probably unworkable in the present political climate.

Besides, with the internet, it would be a physical and technological impossibility. What are you going to do, shut down all the lefty blogs who criticize the war?

Come to think of it...

Seriously, it couldn't be done. Just think how many people would have to be employed in a department like that. The bureaucracy would take on a life of its own and despite the best of intentions, would probably irrevocably change the nature of our free press not to mention get a whole bunch of people mad. After all, I want to be free to criticize the Administration any time I feel like it and would not be happy if someone tried to censor my site. And in order for any censorship program to be effective, you would have to include blogs.

Having said that, there is such a thing as stepping over the line and I believe in the case of the NSA intercepts, the New York Times may have done so. The problem is, it is impossible to prove that there was malice in the leaking - at least from the Time's point of view. There very well may have been ulterior motives of the leakers themselves (although Risen says they are clearly "whistelblowers"). But trying to prove the NY Times was negligent is pretty darned near impossible without further compromising the NSA intercept program. Ultimately, there must be a sense of responsibility on the part of the press, something they clearly lack. But government isn't going to force them to be responsible no matter what they do so, in the end, you are left with the First Amendment.

Not a bad place to end up.

As for what I wear, shorts or boxers? The answer is neither. I rarely wear underwear and when I do, it's usually something pink, frilly, and shows off my shapely butt.

As for the question "if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

The answer is I am a tree and it's none of your friggin' business what kind. Do I ask you what race you are?

Sheesh! Some people...

Our next guest is also a returning visitor, Wunderkraut. What do you say, Wunderkraut?
Topic 1: Press censorship is a tough call. I know we are at war and that we need to take extra precautions, but is going back to WWII like restrictions the way to go?

I think that by and large the press has done a half way decent job of protecting vital intelligence like troop movements, locations and strengths. This was especially evident during the initial ground combat phase back in 2003. The press seems to have learned their lesson from the first Gulf War. The old Saturday Night Live skit of a room full of reporters comes to mind:

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Thank you Senator Cheney. I'm happy to take any questions you might have with the understanding that there are certain sensitive areas that I'm just not going to get into. Particularly, information that might be useful to the enemy. Yes?

Reporter #1: What date are we going to start the ground attack?

Reporter #2: Sir, knowing what you know, where would you say our forces are most vulnerable to attack, and how could the Iraqis best exploit those weaknesses?

Reporter #4: I have a two-part question. Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait, and if so, where exactly will that be?

Reporter #8: Yes, Farud Hashami, Baghdad Times. Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?

Like I said, they appear to have learned their lesson.


The New York Times as well as The Washington Post has strayed into dangerous territory. I know that the goal of every MSM-er out there is to play Woodward and Bernstein and uncover some illegal government scheme or program. But you have to be extremely careful about what programs you expose and the problem with the Woodward and Bernstein mindset is that you are consumed with the thoughts of glory. You know that if you expose something, then generations of J-school kids will be learning about your exploits and revering you as a god. That is a fact.

I believe that what the New York Times has done is very illegal. Some argue that they are just passing along information and that the illegal action is the actual leaking. I do not agree. If the story exposes some top secret program, then the leaker (unless he has qualified as a whistle blower) is passing information that is illegal and the media outlet has to look at the information to determine if exposing said information will harm national security...ah...but there is the rub...

Most people in the MSM consider themselves to be unbiased news reporters. Even though they are citizens of the U.S., they feel they have to remain above petty patriotism. That is where the system breaks down. Some of these people have outright loathing for the U.S. and everything she stands for. Trying to get people like that to see news as either hurting or helping the U.S. is not going to work.

If someone came to them with a juicy story about the CIA or NSA, they are not going to give two thoughts to what publishing that story will do to the security of the U.S. If they did stop and consider it, that would be violating that unwritten rule that they have to be citizens of the world...not the U.S. Oh sure they will say they support our troops, but their actions show just the opposite.

It is also driven by money. If the New York Times is approached with a choice story and they decline because they feel that the story will harm national security (sure that will happen), that person will just peddle their story to the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or *shudder* the BBC. Stories like the NSA wire-tapping and the CIA prisons will sell newspapers. Maybe that is it. Maybe they love their country after all but they are just driven by greed? If only it were that simple.

I think press censorship during the actual combat phases of any war should be imposed. The model should be how this last war has gone. I think the press has done a fairly decent job of reporting without disclosing too much information to our enemy. It is the after combat situations that are a little sticky.

We should not impose total censorship, BUT we should prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. We should clear up any confusion about who is a whistle blower and who is just leaking classified information. I think the prosecutions should also include the newspaper that broke the story. A few prosecutions and maybe the MSM will start considering how their reporting affects MY national security. If there is now law allow prosecution of newspapers, then pass one.

Parting thought: One day when the history books are written it will be discovered that the CIA was actively seeking to undermine the Bush administration and United States foreign policy.

Topic 2: Boxers or briefs? I am a tighty-whitey kind of guy. Sorry ladies. Look, I tried boxers and things just...well...feel...too *cough* free *cough*.

Next we have Will Franklin, proprietor of this very blog. Will, what do you say?
Topic 1: I started WILLisms.com in part because I was fed up with the establishment media. Overall. In entertainment. In sports. Especially in politics. They are just wrong so much, and far more powerful and influential than many give them credit for. Blogs certainly have the capability to become a challenge to the left-wing establishment media, but that day is still somewhere on the distant horizon. This latest few weeks has been astounding to observe. Many of usual suspects in the media have gone from biased partisans to full-blown advocates for the bad guys. They have become advocates for al-Qaeda. They seem to be rooting for American failure, economically, militarily, diplomatically, and so on.

I don't know the answer to this considerable problem, but I know my personal answer. Tune them out. Beat them. Starve them. Undermine them. And in the meantime, "the government" needs to be more like "Rambo," "Walker, Texas Ranger," "James Bond," et al., and less like lawyers and bureaucrats, in dealing with terrorists and thugs and other bad guys.

Topic 2: Boxers.

And I'd be a live oak tree. I'd likely have lots of live oak friends nearby. People would like me. I would be majestic. And wise. And powerful. Perfect for treehouses. Or wind chimes. I'd be tall, but not too tall. I'd keep my leaves and stay green all year round. I'd provide shade for people. I'd likely not be chopped down, or surrounded by apartments, since I'd need a relatively large area to flourish. I'd likely live in a relatively warm climate. I'd be strong. I'd be resilient and adaptive. People would depend on and admire me. I'd be the anchor tree of most any yard. I'd be resistant to disease and too much or too little water/sun. And yet I'd be a bit nuanced and delicate.

The Host's Last Word: It is shameful and distressing that, in this time of war, we have to contend not only with al-Qaeda around the world, and an insurgency in Iraq, but with the New York Times and other fifth columnists in the MSM who think that humiliating George Bush is more important than protecting this nation.

Keep it up guys, and it could be a couple generations before anyone lets your precious Democrats anywhere near the levers of power in this nation.

And depriving Democrats of power because of these abuses is by far the best and most poignant revenge possible. So there.

Censorship doesn't work, and that just isn't the way we do things here in America. We can handle the truth, and we can work around the internal sabotage we are now facing. We are stronger than the all the damage the traitors and al-Qaeda hope to inflict.

The idea that, somehow, the New York Times is actually 'helping' by laying open our national security apparatus for all to see, and that this type of dissent is somehow a principled form of patriotism, is of course complete rot. What was that about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel? Well, here it actually applies. Publishing the revelations about NSA wiretaps was about as 'patriotic' as handing the Nazis troopship schedules for D-Day.

But even MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT . . . why, boxers of course!

My boys gotta BREATHE.

And as for trees, why, I would be an ENT. In fact, I bear a remarkable resemblance to Treebeard:


I was really impressed by Will's tree answer. I threw out a stupid, silly question, and he came back with a thoughtful, touching response.

Well done, Will.

Come back next week, for our next episode of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 January 2006 02:50 PM


I really like the way you were able to throw out that race card!...
You would make a great Oak Tree!...
Great SNL comparison!...
As usual you remind me so much of Will. I love Ent!
It would really be great if all of you guys were able to touch the MSM and change the way they report!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 8, 2006 03:37 PM

Who needs the MSM??

We have the blogosphere now, and we make no pretentions to being neutral or unbiased.

You should have no doubt as to where we stand on things.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at January 8, 2006 03:48 PM

This is the first blog entry I've seen that suggests media censorship as a potentially good idea.

I'm not a liberal, but I'm glad I live in a country where liberals (and anyone else) can say what they think.

Some day we will have another Democrat President, another Democrat-dominated Congress, and another Democrat-appointed Supreme Court. You don't really want them to have censorship power, do you?

Posted by: D M Brown at January 8, 2006 04:40 PM

I don't believe anyone was suggesting cencorship!... Although sometimes I wish some of the major liberalites would be quiet! ... If the Democratic Party would move a little farther away from being such Communisr, Socialist death party advocates it might make me feel a little better about life in general!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 8, 2006 05:51 PM

I sure have been making alot of typing errors! ...Sorry!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 8, 2006 07:28 PM

I totally forgot about the tree question.


The Larch

Posted by: WunderKraut at January 9, 2006 09:22 AM

It's a stretch, I admit, but, one could make the case that all the MSM's antics serve our nation's image abroad.

If we Americas media can accuse their government of "torture," Koran "desecration" and "domestic spying," then it appears to our foreign observers that America is anything but the Third Reich. In fact, the breadth of our nation's public discussion makes Indonesians, Germans, Namibians and Venezualens more aware of the lack of adversarial media content in their own countries.

Maybe I'm rationalizing away the damage done by the NYT's political tactics, but there is a silver lining to their partisan muck-raking.

Posted by: Steve at January 11, 2006 11:01 AM