NY Times finally runs a comic strip….

The Times has finally broken down and decided to run a comic strip in the daily paper. Or so it seems. In any case, two stories this week run by our “national paper of record” can only be characterized as comical.

In one run today and still up on their site, the Times suggests that the current demise of the Big Three auto companies is actually an indication of the power and effectiveness of the, wait for it….United Auto Workers!  

Good lord, the UAW has presided over the demise of the country’s critical transportation infrastructure and in the process has lost hundreds of thousands of members. And now on the same day Chrysler files for bankruptcy – which will allow a federal judge to tear up what remains of the UAW collective bargaining agreement – the Times rants on about how the union will emerge as a “winner.” 

Of course, they ignore the fact that the UAW leadership trampled federal labor law and securities law in order to manipulate its own members into creating the off balance sheet VEBA’s that are now being forced, again in violation of their fiduciary obligations to retirees, into becoming owners of failing businesses!

For a slightly clearer picture of what bankruptcy means for a union and its members, I think this article I wrote for Dissent magazine on the Delphi bankruptcy is closer to the mark.

In the second comical story, Scott “See no evil, hear no evil” Shane, the Times “national security” beat reporter, alleges, absurdly, that top government officials did not know that the torture techniques created by Government lawyers and officials in the Bush Administration were adopted from the stalinist regimes that the US faced off against in the Cold War.

Oh, give me a break.

Shane, of course, is trying to help out the Obama Administration because the left wing of the Democratic party is out for blood and wants government officials prosecuted for their crimes against humanity. As they should be, of course. But Obama wants to narrowly limit the legal attack so the Times is riding to the rescue with fanciful stories about top officials’ ignorance.  

Shane has been recruited for such a task in the past – he was the one tapped to try to mislead the emerging concern about the long standing political, professional and personal ties between Obama the candidate and his pseudo-lefty mentors, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. I wrote about that episode during the campaign here.

Of course, to succeed, Shane had to attack (on NPR’s Fresh Air last night) his Times’ colleague Frank Rich who wrote on Sunday that the Bush officials clearly knew what they were doing when it came to torture. 

The key to Rich’s argument is that the US government not only had a thorough understanding of the origins of waterboarding, etc., it also knew that such techniques had no relationship whatsoever to either preventing terrorism or solving acts already carried out. Rich contends, credibly, that the real reason that figures like Abu Zubayhah were waterboarded half a dozen times a day for weeks on end was to get him to say anything, anything at all, that could be said to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11. It did not matter if it was credible, anymore than the ginned up claims about a yellow cake uranium in Africa were credible.

As Rich wrote: “In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections.”

Torture has to be understood in the political context in which it was used. It has nothing to do, and certainly had nothing to do in the US, with finding out accurate information. It is aimed at abuse of a human being for other purposes. When used by Argentinian or Chilean dictators it is aimed at demoralizing the political opposition. Here it was being used in an attempt to gin up “intelligence” to cower a democratic anti-war movement.

Shame on Shane and the Times for once again riding to the rescue of the narrow and increasingly conservative Obama agenda.