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What I Saw at the Pro-Nuclear Proliferation Press Conference in the U.S. Capitol
By Jay Marx
This sad event, held in a small conference room in the Capitol Visitors Center (Senate side), was sparsely attended by press, and sponsored by an outfit called the "New Deterrent Working Group," evidently an offshoot of the Center for Security Policy, and skipped by Sen Kyl (who evidently "had to go vote...").
But B*sh era relics John Bolton and Rick Santorum said their bits, and a few other notables offered statements. After an hour of paranoia, innuendo and misrepresentation, they did take a few questions and I was able to ask the first. Incredibly, they let me get all three questions in one. For those who are interested, they're below:
"Jay Marx, Proposition One. One correction if I may, as the Senate has held 18 committee hearings on the NEW Start treaty, not 12 as Mr. Gaffney just stated.
"First, why do you all who oppose this treaty think you know so much better than the legions of US political and military leaders who are on record supporting New START, including the head of the US Missile Defense Agency, multiple generals, some joint chiefs of staff, several former secretaries of state - of both parties - and the current Secretary of Defense?
"Also, how do you supposedly conservative deficit hawks reconcile the hypocrisy of trying to whittle the budget deficit through, for instance, refusing to extend unemployment benefits during a recession, while at the same time extorting tens of billions of future tax dollars - now up to $84 billion over the next 10 years alone - from the pockets of the American people for the welfare of an (as one of your speakers just testified) an obsolescent Nuclear Weapons Complex while over 70% of the American people (and even more around the world) would prefer to see nuclear weapons eliminated - the sooner the better?
"Finally, isn't this, in truth, a bold-faced political last-ditch effort by a minority rump of arch neo-conservative policy makers and dyed-in-the-wool cold warriors, some of whom have already been explicitly rejected by the American public as too conservative (like former Sen. Santorum and the oft-quoted Mr. Gingrich), to torpedo a worthy arms-control treaty negotiated by a Democratic president who you hope to destroy?"
Mr. Gaffney, who moderated the event, responded essentially that those policy makers are very busy and have so many things on their plates and so, unfortunately, *didn't really have time* to study this treaty as they should (and so were essentially uninformed in their support), while declining to respond to what he characterized as the "ad hominem" portions of the question.
In the end, I think the event will have warranted the coverage I think it received (almost none), and I believe it was a parting shot by these neo-cons that will not hit its mark.
Their go-to talking points were the standards:
* Missile Defense! Missile Defense!
* There's no time!
* No rubber stamp during the lame duck!
and they will not resonate.
I gotta believe New START will pass, after some debate, possibly next week.
See y'all in the street with the Vets for Peace on Thursday, Dec. 16!
Pax et Lux,
P.S. Afterwards, I asked John Bolton how much *would* be enough to guarantee America's security (since he had already dismissed $84 billion as "not nearly enough"), and he refused to answer, and rounded a corner instead to confer with the writer from the Washington Times. On passing him upon departure, I managed to remind him, "Sir, you're a criminal. You should be in jail." This offended the Times writer, who said, "Hey, what's your problem. Look, I'm a journalist. You're not a journalist. I'm a journalist, and you don't speak to the ambassador that way." I had to respond: "That man's not an ambassador, he's a criminal." I failed to point out that Bolton's recess appointment--necessary because he would not have been confirmed by the Senate--was far lamer than this "rubber duck" ratification, as it was briefly called by the ex-vice-admiral who couldn't quite credibly articulate "lame duck rubber stamp" while launching one of today's torpedos. I also did not then observe that, reporting for the borderline defunct, newly Moon-lined Washington Times, the writer was only arguably a journalist.