Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Annals of houses: Rumsfeld and Cheney edition

I'm feeling more witless than usual today. Thus, I turn to commenting on the NYT's publication, in their travel section, of a story about Secretary Rumsfeld's and VP Cheney's vacation houses.

Blogland is on fire with the implications of running the story. Several prominent right wing blogs have claimed that the NYT has committed treason and aided and abetted al Qaida by giving away supersecret information about the said residences. This, of course, has ignited the expected response from the left wing blogging punditry.

Let's not dissect the whole logic of the treason argument. (Life is short.) The conclusion is that the NYT has committed treason. One of the premises of the argument is that the information was super secret. Another premise is that the NYT ruthlessly endangered the lives of the Rumsfelds and Cheneys. Unfortunately, for the argument, neither premise is true.

The information was not super secret. There were other stories reported earlier by media organizations such as Newsmax and Fox News that gave the same information. Secretary Rumsfeld gave permission to print pictures of his vacation home.

The information did not present any new risk to the lives of Secretary Rumsfeld and VP Cheney. That is if you believe what Secretary Rumsfeld and the Secret Service have said about the matter.

Permit me some tangential observations.

America is obsessed with the lives of the rich, famous, and powerful. Their comings and goings are under intense scrutiny and reported 24/7 by media . It's big business. Inquiring minds want to know. That doesn't make the participants treasonous. At least, I hope not.

Americans love a good conspiracy theory. The best of them don't let the facts get in the way. Some people have refined cool dismissal of facts into an art.

The explosive combination of human imagination and passion has the power to turn the banal into a desperate life and death struggle.

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