Et Tu, David?

The Oregonian used to have two associate editors, David Sarasohn, a cranky liberal with a great sense of humor, and David Reinhard, an unreconstructed homophobe and serial liar from the right.  Reinhard seems to have disappeared of late; as the Oregonian has contracted to the point where its $2 daily could be made into a paper airplane and therefore delivered much more expeditiously, Reinhard, as Republicans do, has apparently taken the money and run. Sarasohn, who made his reputation and earned my everlasting affection wittily skewering the Reagan administration, was banished during the paper’s long love affair with George W. Bush and his wars to writing about local issues and poverty, but has evidently chosen to hang on.  After a column he wrote yesterday, I cannot imagine why.

On the same day that the paper ran David Ignatius’ despicable WaPoo column defending torturers from prosecution, on the other side of the page, there was David Sarasohn, saying essentially the same things, with even less charm.  He had seemingly come to the same demented and self-discrediting conclusion as the rest of the beltway; that prosecutions would be what Chuck Todd called “cable catnip,” and that the best way to prevent torture in the future was to let the torturers off the hook.  What the hell?  Fortunately, here in Little Beirut other readers remember as I do the old Sarasohn, and despite the Oregonian’s policy of running equal numbers of wingnut letters, regardless of volume, even in its own 70% liberal city, a letter that expressed my own feelings managed to slip through the cracks, and ran this morning.

Who’s Laughing Now?

I’ve always been an admirer of David Sarasohn’s keen wit, but he really outdid himself with his August 26 column on “enhanced interrogation,” aka torture.  I have to admire his spot-on parody of right-wing talking points: how we can’t have a criminal investigation of outrageous war crimes committed by the Bush administration because it would -get this- cause controversy and dissension.

Another high point of hilarity: that prosecutions would “end up punishing people for doing what they thought they were supposed to do.”  It’s funny, because it accepts the premise that some low-level functionary in the Justice Department, putting forth twisted logic that wouldn’t fool a fourth-grader, gets to allow folks to break a long-settled law with impunity.

The topper was a quote from a fromer CIA Counterterrorism official that “This [i.e., investigation and possible prosecution of torture] is a political act.”  As Sarasohn knows, but is too sly to mention in this humor piece, our law, treaty obligations [binding under the Constitution], and basic human dignity require us to prosecute those involved in and responsible for the torture regime set up after September 2001.

When Sarasohn repeats with a straight face the canard that somehow we can prevent such heinous crimes from happening again, while allowing their perpetrators, planners, and executors to go scot free, I just had to laugh out loud.

Joke, right?

Bill Space

Southeast Portland

I couldn’t have put it better, Bill.  Maybe the penurious Oregonian made Sarasohn take over Reinhard’s old job, in addition to his own.


  1. heru-ur says:

    Mail “Bill Space” and tell him to join us here. :-)

  2. Maybe, maybe not. If Garrison effing Keillor, of all people, can offer the same bit of folk wisdom to the masses, then maybe we’ve got the wrong idea about what it means to be a liberal.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Stephanie Miller, who has a hilarious lefty talk show in LA but syndicated nationally, always jokes about how, because of something they’ve said or done, she wants to date, say, Jack Cafferty, Russ Feingold, or somesuch. I felt the same way about Sarasohn, and long before I’d heard of her, back in the 80′s, I eagerly went to a talk Sarasohn was giving. Sadly, he turned out to be lumpy, schlumpy, and decidedly ardor-cooling, but I still loved his columns, until the other day.
      It was as big of a betrayal as when former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, he of the passionate opposition to both Vietnam and the Gulf War, turned around and wrote an Oregonian op-ed encouraging the Iraq War. He promptly fell down a flight of stairs and hasn’t been heard from since. It made me believe in Karma.

  3. Bill Space says:

    Hi there. Thanks for the mention.

    I, too, was shocked that Sarasohn could be so wrong-headed. I mean, this is a guy who wants our mayor to step down because he lied about a kiss, but he wants to let Dick (no nickname required) Cheney and company completely off the hook for freaking war crimes! I had a hard time keeping from yelling at my keyboard or typing in ALL CAPS.

    By the way: did you retype my letter out yourself? I couldn’t find it in the Oregonlive letters archive.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I typed it, laboriously, from the print edition, which I only buy when I’m straining for a blog idea, or have irritable bowel syndrome. Was your wingnut “rebuttal” letter that followed on OregonLive?
      I wouldn’t be too surprised.
      I’ve written them hundreds of letters over the years, few run and those that were were edited “for length,” so I gave up trying. I think New York magazine has printed my letters more often, even though I used to deliver the danged Oregonian, and I only wrote to New York about four times.
      Thanks for checking in; my blog has an audience, and some great commenters, that are primarily in other places, so I thought you could use the shout-out.

      • Bill Space says:

        I know all the arguments against the paper — paying the Newhouses, which is really just a subsidy for the money-losing New Yorker; institutional corporate bias; old technology; endorsing Bush in 2000. But I LOVE newspapers. Even bad ones have their charms. The Oregonian, as a mid-sized American daily, is actually not terrible. I’ve read far worse (hello, Poughkeepsie Journal).

        Usually, I content myself with grumbling over breakfast, or smacking the columnist’s picture, or something. Usually, I am not moved to write to them, as I think it would be no use. But since I’ve liked Sarasohn in the past, I thought a gentle corrective was in order.

        Even though I didn’t think my letter overlong, I was horrified to see its length in print. Too long! I gasped. They did edit one little part out, and rearranged my last paragraph (which you then rearranged just a little more in your retyping), but on the whole, I thought the edit was a good one. They didn’t, however, correct my misspelling of scot free; you did, bless you.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I have a love/hate relationship with the paper; I’d certainly miss it if it were gone. One time they did a lengthy photo shoot of a loft I designed and built, and then someone connected my name to all the torrents of nasty letters, they decided not to run the pictures. (I was later told this by someone who worked for the Home section…) That pissed me off. Twenty years ago, the Oregonian was very nearly a great paper, as is the Times-Picayune still, inexplicably, so I don’t think Newhouse is any worse than the rest of them. Of course, back then, there were better syndicated columnists, too, and they still had a Washington bureau.
          In archives, under “dying newspapers,” I have several pieces about my love of newspapers, and I have shelves of books about journalism as well. My fear is that they are doing the exact opposite of what it will take to survive; providing less for more money, pandering to the noisy right, and failing to attract and engage with a new generation of readers, much less develop tomorrow’s journalists. The decline of the WaPoo is a perfect example of this.
          I don’t think your letter was too long; I find it annoying that newspapers, of all things, should be home to only sound bites. The righty blatherer whom they included to “balance” your piece went on just as long, without saying anything we haven’t already heard ad nauseam.
          Blessing accepted, although after 100,000 or so people saw “scott” in print, my 100 or so readers saw it spelled correctly…. I do what I can, despite my spotty typing skills. I am just a contractor after all.

    • heru-ur says:

      I enjoyed the letter. Well done.

  4. Retzilian says:

    This is sort of off-topic, but it’s in the realm of “newspapers”. I found this site that reviews Maureen Dowd’s ouevre and it’s actually quite amusing.

    Just thought I’d share. Have fun!

  5. cocktailhag says:

    God, I hate that Dowd woman, as anyone here should know, but not for her horrible personality. It’s the otherwise useful real estate she occupies that gets my goat.

    • Karen M says:

      Exactly! Her useful real estate, Tony!

      Bill Space:

      Another shout-out to you. Love how you used a bit of jiujitsu to turn that op-ed into a piece of parody. I’m wondering if we couldn’t all follow your example and do that more often.

      It would be so effective against your more typical Republicans, since most of them don’t get or understand Irony, anyway. What fun it could be… if only the topics were not so serious.

    • rmp says:

      For what it’s worth, the website PoliticsHome that polls Americans on political topics, including me, latest poll showed that Americans see the newly announced CIA investigation as politically risky for the Obama administration. But a majority support the investigation nonetheless. Here’s the link:.

    • timothy3 says:

      Yes, CH, that woman is revolting. But I find her peculiarly attractive (like, sexually) and I know I’m probably making a mistake here by saying so, but it both interests and puzzles me.
      Are we inherently attracted to those who otherwise repel us? Is this natural? And if it’s not, how can we explain this?
      So, anyway, I probably put myself in an untenable position here, but I wanted to be honest (and when am I not?) and lay out this point.

      • cocktailhag says:

        It’s certainly possible, and quite frustrating, to be attracted to the repellent. During the Iran/Contra hearings, I found Ollie North attractive, but only with the sound turned off. I think old age has largely cured me of this problem, though. As for MoDo, if it weren’t for hate fucks, she’d have no fucks at all, methinks.

      • The Heel says:

        Now that is a Heel topic if there ever was one.
        Yes, sexual attraction to otherwise hideous individuals is a common occurrence and you don’t need to talk to your shrink about it.
        Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Maureen Dowd are common targets of heelish lust and sultry imaginations. I would imagine that in practice, a lot of alcohol and possibly other mind numbing substances would be necessary and certainly a quick departure afterwards is advisable – just imagine, what are you gonna do if they start talking?….

        • cocktailhag says:

          That’s always been my problem, Heel. The talking. Speaking of Heels, I got into my old computer (with the kndness of strangers, natch…), and dug up old writings from back in the day. I ran “Hostess Tips” today, I’m saving the Heel article from Willamette Week for later….

  6. rmp says:

    As all the people who comment on Hag’s blog know, the human tragedies of the innocent by our torture of detainees is ignored in the M$M discussion. That’s not the case in the rest of the world. Some paras from the latest Times article on Mohammed Jawad and his mom’s reaction when she first saw him:

    When he was reunited with her, she refused initially to believe he was her son because he had changed so much, and fainted in a fit of hysterics, according to a family friend. Only when she came round and checked for a distinctive bump on the back of his head, did she embrace him as her offspring, said Sher Khan Jalalkhil, a close friend of Mr Jawad’s father.

    Mr Jawad is not the first Afghan prisoner to be released from the Guantánamo prison. But he is believed to be the youngest — although the Pentagon says that bone scans indicated that he was 18 when sent to Guantánamo in 2003.

    He has thus become a cause célèbre for human rights activists … and something of a celebrity in Afghanistan. President Karzai even offered to give him a house in Kabul when he met him on Monday night. The Defence Minister, Abdul Rakhim Wardak, offered to pay for him to study overseas.

    Mohammed Jawad: ‘I was 12 when I was arrested and sent to Guantanamo’

    • cocktailhag says:

      Thanks for the links, RMP… I’m going to write something about the Jawad case soon.

    • harpie says:

      Well,that’s really nice about the proposed gifts, since it was someone in the Afghan government/policeforce who framed Jawad and gave [sold?] him to US.

      Liked your letter, Bill Space, and your column [as usual], Hag. Thanks for the MoDo link, Retzillian and I think you’re on to something, KarenM. Wish I was better at satire…there’s so much potential material out there.

    • timothy3 says:

      RMP, when GG first wrote about this I remember sitting here just in a state of silence and shame at the thought of taking and torturing a 12 year old boy. Even now, the shame and disgust nearly makes me mute (nearly, but since I’m commenting about it, not completely).
      My father, were he still living, would feel disgraced in a way that I can only imagine.
      You’re a good guy RMP and I really appreciate the work you do.

  7. rmp says:

    My conservative Chicago Tribune does have one fair political columnist and one Repug idiot. This is the fair one on torture.

    Rationalizing torture,0,3632398.column

  8. cocktailhag says:

    Sounds to me like that guy reads UT.

  9. pedinska says:

    Great column CH.

    Wonderful letter Bill. Glad it got into print. I gave up on our local rag when I finally admitted to myself that the only thing they wanted to print were rants about guns, God and commies/DFHs.

  10. Retzilian says:

    Apoligies to the late, great Warren Zevon who is now sleeping cuz he’s dead.

    The Dispatch has got its standards:
    Stick with the group-think.
    It’s Jesus, guns and commies
    or your “letter” won’t get ink