Thursday, October 21, 2010

Senate CANDIDATE's "Guards" Were Active Duty Military

A quick aside before diving in: While it's true that there are Democrats whose recent actions have been simply beyond the pale, in my opinion the vast majority of major fuck-ups, gaffes, and egregious acts have been perpetrated/committed by Republicans.

In the latest installment of "What the Hell Has He Done Now?", at a campaign event last Sunday night, security "guards" hired by Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller forcibly handcuffed and detained a journalist who deigned to ask Miller a question that Miller didn't want to answer. The journalist was told he was "under arrest" by these guards, who were not police officers. When the actual police arrived, the journalist was released. Two other reporters from the Anchorage Daily News were aggressively threatened by these same guards for trying to investigate the matter while at the same Sunday night event.

As it turns out, the ADN now reports, the two guards detaining the journalist were active duty soldiers with the U.S. military, moonlighting for a security contractor hired by Miller's campaign.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, there are two Department of Defense directives that prohibit active duty members of the Armed Forces from performing "clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee or candidate during a campaign." Greenwald asks:
If it's not completely intolerable to have active-duty soldiers handcuffing American journalists on U.S. soil while acting as private "guards" for Senate candidates, what would be?

These events are part of a two-year continuum regarding the crumbling relationship between the press and politicians. It began with the vice presidential candidate from the Republican Party in 2008, who refused to hold a single open press conference during the campaign, and whose horribly bungled interviews with mainstream journalists resulted in a total press blackout other than Fox News from this point forward (as well as the coined term "lamestream media"). It has continued with this once (and future) candidate and now-reality show personality retreating to Twitter and Facebook for nearly all communication with voters, other than heavily scripted events with filtered audiences and no press coverage. And, during this midterm election season, it has culminated in: a senate candidate who walks out of a press conference she herself organized without taking a single question, and who explained to Fox News that she will not do any interview where she could not plug her website and solicit donations for her campaign, and that the press should only ask questions that she wants to answer; a senate candidate who is following the former VP candidate's advice to speak only "through" Fox News to get her message out; a gubernatorial candidate who told a reporter, "I'll take you out, buddy!" for asking questions about his out-of-wedlock daughter; and the actions of Joe Miller's "guards" that are the subject of this piece.

I've seen this type of blame-everyone-else-and-take-no-responsibility behavior before: addicts. People who are addicts tend to think everyone else is responsible for their behavior and actions, and that they are totally justified in doing what they are doing because they've been so put upon by everyone harping on them to change their behavior. Republicans are totally, undeniably addicted to the acquisition of power (and of power itself) that they will circumvent a free and open press that is one of the basic components of a free society. They are so afraid of dealing with reality that they just cannot accept being questioned for their beliefs or policy positions or their actions. They have so totally immersed themselves in this victim mentality that literally everyone is out to get them and destroy them, while all they want to do is what's right, so the flow of information has to be tightly controlled (actually this all also sounds a little like the actions of a dictator to me). God forbids this descends into state-owned press, but the building blocks are being stacked. Anyone who thinks that this strategy isn't highly organized and only coincidental must really want California's Prop 19 to pass (in other words, I'd like a hit of what you're smokin', dude!).

Getting back to the matter at hand -- I think these soldiers should face charges for what they've done, I think Miller should, at a minimum, apologize to the blogger, to the Alaska press, and to the Alaska voters, for his actions and fully open future events to the press. Absent that, he should be disqualified from holding elected office in the United States of America.

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