Saturday, January 08, 2005

More Fun with Jonah

I think the most amusing thing about the Corner today is watch Jonah complain about Gilliard's use of "Uncle Tom" (which, as far as I can find, he doesn't actually use [update: he does use "tom." that's what I get for searching for "uncle".]) while if we scroll down just a wee bit we see K. Lo approvingly quoting a column which refers to "those non-conforming minorities who is threatening to bust up the liberal plantation from which Conyers and others earn a handsome living. "

Goldberg on Charles Murray

Murray catalogs 4,002 significant individuals over the course of 2,750 years who comprise humanity's all-star team, itself broken down into subcategories of chemistry, biology, astronomy, etc. He came up with the list by taking 167 respected encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other reference works, tallying up the size, frequency, and content of the entries on specific individuals and their accomplishments--and then crunching the numbers with the sort of élan and sophistication we've come to expect from the author of "Losing Ground" and coauthor of "The Bell Curve."

Alan Wolfe is one America’s best, most honest, and interesting academic sociologists. The reason you (probably) haven’t heard of him is that we are blessed to live in a country that does not care who its best sociologists are. In the current issue of The New Republic, Wolfe writes a blistering assault on 20th century conservatism called “The Revolution that Never Was.” In it he rails against the “impossibility of conservatism” (and says some very unfair things about Charles Murray and followers of Leo Strauss).

My first major lesson in this phenomenon came when I was a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute at the time "The Bell Curve" was first published. Charles Murray, the co-author of the book, an AEI scholar (and now a friend of mine), was treated to a shellacking in the national press that has not been replicated since.

Yeah. The book took a shellacking in the media. About it, the New York Times Book Review wrote:
Charles Murray, best known for attacking welfare, and Richard Herrnstein, an experimental psychologist who argued that intelligence is largely in the genes, built public careers as the dark angels of social science. And with the publication of "The Bell Curve," their reputations have apparently been secured: The 845-page tract has driven liberal editorial writers to rug-chewing and led the editors of The New Republic to elicit 17 separate rebuttals. The idea behind "The Bell Curve," as many readers must know by now, is that I.Q. is destiny, determining how individuals get along in school, jobs and social relations. Since little can be done to raise "cognitive ability," the argument goes, little can be done to change the socioeconomic pecking order. This is a grim message, the authors acknowledge, but someone must deliver it. "There can be no real progress in solving America's social problems," Mr. Herrnstein and Mr. Murray explain, "when they are as misperceived as they are today." Not everyone has been charmed by the pair's appeal to sweet reason. Indeed, some critics have been inclined to hang the defendants without a trial: merely entertaining the idea that I.Q. tests predict economic performance, they believe, breeds complacency about racism because just one black American in six scores above the average for whites. That is unfortunate, for the authors' look at the nexus between measured intelligence and life outcomes is the most original and interesting part of the book. The analysis deteriorates sharply when it moves on to the question of whether intelligence can be raised through government intervention, and the implications for public policy if it cannot. Indeed, what begins as provocative research on the plight of the losers in a meritocracy ends in a sloppily reasoned rationale for letting them eat cake.

The New York Times science writer wrote:
However much one may disagree with this assessment, the possibility that the authors may be even partly right makes these three books worth plowing through and mulling over. The articulation of issues touching on group intelligence and ethnicity has been neither fashionable nor safe for the last three decades, but these scholars argue that the time has come to grasp the nettle of political heresy, to discard social myths and to come to grips with statistical evidence. The authors suggest that unless we do something to correct present trends, America may soon be permanently split between an isolated caste of ruling meritocrats on one hand and a vast, powerless Lumpenproletariat on the other. Society, the authors predict, will have little use for this underclass in a world dominated by sophisticated machines and the bright human beings who tend them. This grim future may already be unavoidable. ... One of the strengths of "The Bell Curve" is that it devotes an entire section to the relationships between I.Q. and behavior among whites alone, thereby eliminating the complications arising from interracial comparisons. Analyses of data gathered from exclusively white demographic groups strongly suggest that even if one ignores race, socioeconomic status and family background, I.Q. does indeed correlate with birth rates, crime rates and many other things. Taken as a whole, the statistics are impressive; it seems hard to challenge the notion that I.Q. plays a statistically important role in the shaping of society. Mr. Murray and Mr. Herrnstein draw extensively from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which has focused on 12,686 high school students, picked as a representative sample of the high school population, who graduated between 1980 and 1982. These students, who were tested and measured at the outset of the study in 1979, have been tracked ever since. Based on the psychometric indicators and the personal histories of these young people, the authors found various suggestive correlations and concluded that the biggest influence on the lives of the people in their sample was the "g" factor -- psychometricians' jargon for core intelligence. Definitions of intelligence have always been controversial, as have been tests devised to measure it quantitatively. In 1904, the British psychometrician Charles Spearman conceived of a quality he called "g," or "general factor" of intelligence, which has remained part of the psychometrician's lexicon ever since. Spearman's idea was based on his finding that people tend to achieve similar scores on tests that may be very different in content but that contain questions requiring cognitive skill. Such questions were said to measure "g," and tests that emphasized this factor rather than calling for demonstrations of learned skills are said to be "g-loaded" tests. ... Nevertheless, "The Bell Curve" makes a strong case that America's population is becoming dangerously polarized between a smart, rich, educated elite and a population of unintelligent, poor and uneducated people. The authors deplore this polarization, which, they feel, has begun to manifest itself in the polarization of the nation's services: while the elite use private delivery services, go to private schools, live in gated communities and rely on arbitration by private lawyers to handle business disputes, the rest of the population uses the Federal postal service, goes to public schools, lives outside the gates of private communities and relies on public judicial process.

Cue trolls and "mature" liberals telling me that no one has offered a serious critique of Murray and the Bell Curve. Many many many devastating ones can be found throughout my archives...


It's been said a million times, but can't the National Review find any respectable hacks to write about economics?

The Tiny Trunk


Hey, Jonah


Jonah flashback:

Over at National Review Online, meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg is gleeful that the sniper suspects are both Muslim and black, and is hoping they turn out to be homosexual as well.

"IS JOHN MUHAMMED A THREEFER?" he asked last week. "We know the Sniper is a Nation of Islam Muslim (which is to say he belongs to a cult that uses Islamic jargon). We know he’s black. But I’ve got this nagging feeling we might find out that he also practices an alternative lifestyle—I mean besides from all of the murdering. There’s just something about this Batman and Robin act—Malvo is his ‘ward’?—that strikes me as odd, in a specific way. Call it a hunch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that."

A "threefer." I think that says it all about how much sport these guys take in bashing whole categories of minorities. It’s like: Gee, we might be able to smear homos now, in addition to Negroes and towelheads! Fun times, dude!

It’s also interesting that Goldberg delights in speculating—based on absolutely nothing—that murder suspects might be homosexual, but wasn’t compelled to tell us that 9/11 hero Mark Bingham was gay in those first days following the tragedy, when Goldberg penned columns about his helping to steer Flight 93 away from Washington. It’s at those moments, when a hero is to be lauded, that guys like Goldberg tell us that we dwell too much on sexuality, you see. But at these moments, when it’s about a couple of infamous alleged murderers, he’s just got to let us know about his "nagging feeling" about their "alternative lifestyle." Score another hit for the sniper pundits.

Steve G. responds here.

And, I really need to get my ass to the library so I can help the Cornerites with their National Review 50th anniversary celebration...

Defending the Homeland

By hauling lawnmowers to lawnmower drag races:

An audit of the state's spending of nearly $600 million in federal anti-terrorism funds found that some of the money was spent improperly, including to buy a trailer that was used to haul lawn mowers to ``lawn mower drag races.''

The state auditor's office pointed out several cases in which poor monitoring by the Texas Engineering Extension Service may have allowed abuse.

One county bought 18 radios and other communication equipment from a company owned by one of its county commissioners, according to the report released Thursday. Another jurisdiction used a trailer ostensibly bought as emergency equipment to haul lawn mowers to races, the report says.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Williams Column Axed by TMS


NEW YORK Tribune Media Services (TMS) today terminated its contract with columnist Armstrong Williams, effective immediately. But Williams told E&P tonight that he plans to continue his feature via self-syndication.

TMS' action came after USA Today reported this morning that Williams had accepted $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind education-reform law on his TV and radio shows. E&P subsequently reported that Williams had also written about NCLB in his newspaper column at least four times last year.

In a statement, TMS said: "[A]ccepting compensation in any form from an entity that serves as a subject of his weekly newspaper columns creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Under these circumstances, readers may well ask themselves if the views expressed in his columns are his own, or whether they have been purchased by a third party." (Full text of the statement is available at the end of this story.)

John Twohey, vice president of editorial and operations at TMS, told E&P tonight that terminating the contract "wasn't a close call" after he and four other senior TMS executives discussed the matter.

"I understand the decision," Williams said when reached by E&P. He also said he would not be returning the $240,000.

Now, which Bush administration officials will be prosecuted for paying him?

Friday, January 07, 2005

No Cat Blogging

One of them was very bad and must be punished.

Evening open thread...

Who Else?

One of Josh Marshall's readers raises the obvious question -- who else is getting White House payola?

Since we don't know the target/scope of USA Today's FOIA request, it's hard to know exactly what else might be out there.

Except for Jonah, they are sure are quiet about this over at the Corner...



Washington, DC. Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and long-time advocate for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, sent a letter to David D. Smith, Chief Executive of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and Johnathan Rodgers, Chief Executive of TV ONE, demanding that their contracts with syndicated broadcaster Armstrong Williams be terminated immediately.

As reported in today's USA Today, Williams was allegedly paid $240,000 by the Bush Administration to discuss the No Child Left Behind program in a favorable light as a regular part of his radio and television broadcasts on stations owned by the two broadcast groups.

Slaughter noted in her letter that if the Fairness Doctrine were still in place, this type of deception would not be possible. The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which required radio and television stations to air all sides of important or controversial issues.

Because the American people own the airwaves, Slaughter reminded the broadcasters of their public interest obligations to provide diverse and balanced views on critical issues. She also pointed out that broadcasters could be found in violation of federal law if they fail to disclose such payments.

"Sinclair and TV One should move expeditiously to correct this egregious breach of the public trust and to restore the journalistic integrity that American audiences deserve.

This outrageous incident demonstrates once again why we need to restore the Fairness Doctrine. And it is precisely why I will re-introduce legislation to do just that.

Slaughter added," The idea of broadcasters-for-sale is simply despicable. But more importantly, it diminishes our democratic process, which depends upon the exchange of information without fear or favor.

The majority of stations broadcasting his television show are Sinclair stations.

Hacktackular Howie

It's almost sad how horrible he is.

Sinclair Makes Threats


Although Sinclair respects the rights of these organizations to voice their opinions, we find inappropriate that their tactics include advocating their constituency to contact our advertisers in a blatant attempt to use economic pressure to censor the speech of Sinclair. Moreover, the continued misrepresentation of the facts surrounding any company's advertising practices regarding Sinclair stations constitutes "trade defamation" which would entitle Sinclair to seek damages in a court of law. Sinclair will aggressively pursue any organization or any individual which engages in such defamation, including individuals who lend their names to mass e-mail campaigns spreading such misinformation.

You can sign up for MMFA's email list here.

They Write Letters

Lautenberg, Kennedy, and Reid write to President Bush.


In addition to the illegality of these actions taken by your Administration, we believe that the act of bribing journalists to bias their news in favor of government policies undermines the integrity of our democracy. Actions like this were common in the Soviet Union, but until now, thought to be long extinguished in our country.

These revelations regarding Mr. Williams are the latest – and most disturbing – in a series of actions by your Administration to manipulate public opinion through covert propaganda. On May 19, 2004, the GAO found that your Administration illegally spent taxpayer funds on covert propaganda by paying Ketchum Incorporated to produce fake news stories promoting the image of the new Medicare law.

Full letter.

And, E&P has:

n a May 24 column criticizing the National Education Association, the Tribune Media Services (TMS)-distributed Williams wrote that the NEA is "fundamentally opposed to any education reform -- like vouchers or the No Child Left Behind Act -- that seeks to hold public schools accountable for their failures."

Williams also wrote about the Bush administration's education-reform efforts in his Oct. 26 column, though he didn't specifically mention NCLB.

TMS is taking this seriously, John Twohey, vice president for editorial and operations, told E&P today. "It's troubling, at best." He added that TMS doesn't want to decide what action to take, if any, until "we get the complete set of facts. We don't want to leap to any conclusions based on incomplete information. I owe it to him and his newspaper clients."

Twohey said he talked with Williams today, and was told by the columnist that "the rendition of events in USA Today is not complete." The TMS executive added that he will talk again with Williams later today.

Williams wrote about NCLB here, here, here, and here.

And, the triumphant return of Ignatz reminds us of a few things.

Bobo's World

Virgina House Bill 1677:

When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

fetal death=any miscarriage, no matter how long after conception.

Not law... yet. Punishment? $2500 fine and up to 1 year in prison.

MMFA to Staples

Since the trolls have been bugging us about this, here's David Brock's letter to the CEO of Staples:

Dear Mr. Sargent:

It has come to my attention from press reports today that Staples, Inc. contends that Media Matters for America misrepresented Staples' decision not to renew advertising on local news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations as of January 10, 2005.

As you may know, Staples, Inc. officials reviewed, edited, and approved the Media Matters press release of January 4, 2005, in both draft and final form. That release stated that Staples was not renewing advertising on Sinclair local news programming due in part to concerns registered by visitors to the website, which was launched December 14, 2004, to protest the conservative slant of Sinclair's news programming, in particular a nightly conservative commentary called "The Point."

Visitors to the site who contacted Staples, Inc. received email replies from the company informing them that as of January 10, 2005, Staples, Inc. would no longer advertise on Sinclair local news programming.

On January 4, 2005, Staples, Inc. confirmed these facts both to Media Matters and to reporters. For example, on January 5, 2005, Staples, Inc. spokesman Owen Davis was quoted as telling the Chicago Tribune: "In general, we don't explain decisions regarding our media buys. But we did consider the concerns expressed by our customers with some political partisan programming, specifically 'The Point.'" And also on January 5, 2005, The Washington Post quoted Mr. Davis as saying that "Staples did consider among other factors the concerns expressed by our customers" regarding the content on Sinclair news programs.

Despite Staples' issuance of a "clarification" yesterday, January 6, 2005, an article in The Baltimore Sun today, January 7, 2005, noted that Staples spokesman Paul Capelli "still acknowledg[ed] e-mail complaints in part caused it to stop advertising on Sinclair's local programs."

So, to summarize, Media Matters stated the following in our press release of January 4, 2005: 1) Staples won't be advertising on local news programming on Sinclair stations as of January 10, 2005; and 2) that decision was based in part on the activism generated by Nothing in Staples' "clarification" negates or contradicts either of these two statements.

Thank you.


David Brock
President and Chief Executive Officer
Media Matters for America


World O'Crap covers torture day at the Corner, in which we discover that the Cornerites have been so busy insisting that all of this torture stuff was no big deal, they hadn't actually been reading any of the news reports about it.

Action Alert

Contact Armstrong Williams. Tell him you want your 240,000 tax dollars back.

...or not. It appears the emails are bounching. Oh well.

...or, try . That seems to work.


I was going to write about this a couple of days ago, and it appears I was correct in my thinking. The Bushies screwed up by thinking the best way to approach their kill Social Security PR was to start screaming "CRISIS!!!" Frankly, everyone already *knows* there's a crisis. Everyone is wrong, of course, but there was no need to remind them of this. And, rolling out a several month campaign to convince people of something they already (wrongly) know, has provided an opportunity for a bit of push back.

The "crisis" idea was already there -- they would have been better off taking it as a given and running with the joys of investment. Instead of choking off debate, they've managed to encourage it.



Just before his helicopter lifted off, Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris. "Get some devastation in the back," Frist told a photographer.

All Your Jobs Belong to Bush

January edition. +157K in December. Need 140-150K to keep up with growth in working age population.

At the end of December 2000, the number of jobs was 132,441,000. It now stands at 132,266,000.



Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.
The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


The title of this post is flippant, but the subject is serious. 7 soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb which destroyed their Bradley fighting vehicle.

Back before the election, before the media decided that the facts were too partisan, some discussion began about just where the hell all this explosive material came from. Anyone can make a small bomb which can maim and kill a lot of people, but not everyone can make a bomb which will destroy a goddamn tank.

The Good News

Largely overlooked in the death of Crossfire is that CNN's Capital Gang, which Novakula was executive producer of, is also scheduled to die.

Late Night

Chat away.


I've been meaning to do a similar post for quite some time, but Yglesias beat me to it. One could waste a week digging up similar quotes. I don't really know if tragically successful attacks on our troops are "signs of desperation" or not, but even if they are it's a rather silly and pointless thing to say.

Debate Shows

Well, I'm not entirely sad to see Crossfire go, of course. It did devolve into something mostly unwatchable. But, it was about the only place on the vast liberal media landscape where partisan lefties actually had a platform. The truth about Crossfire is that in many ways it took all of the worst elements of these types of shows, put them in a blender, and then cut it down to half an hour. The old old old Crossfire (kinsley era), while never a stellar program, was much less explicitly partisan and more educational than the current version. At least as I remember, once upon a time an entire program was often devoted to a single issue, with a single pair of guests, though that changed to two issues at some point. Sure there was some partisan hackery, but the discussion was a bit more in depth. When the Begala/Carville version began it was a breath of fresh air, because the genuine lack of Dem voices on TV combined with the post-9/11 media climate meant that there was no one speaking for "our side." But, the tendency to jam 87 segments into an hour program... and then 87 segments into a half an hour program (oh, and CNN, one reason you're down in the ratings is because you give no thought to West Coast viewers when scheduling your lineup) turned it into a self-parody fast.

There's actually a place for an interesting debate show. Someone should figure out how to make it work. I'm not sad to see Crossfire go, but it really was the only TV platform for the Dems.

Some Positive News

Not that it probably matters much, but it's at least nice to see some of these people leave.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a leading hard-liner on nuclear nonproliferation who has raised hackles among America's allies as well as its adversaries, is expected to quit the Bush administration, sources said on Thursday.

His departure may signal a shift in U.S. diplomacy to a less confrontational approach as President Bush begins a second term in which he has pledged to reach out to allies estranged by the Iraq War and other policies.

Bolton, an outspoken and controversial policymaker, often provoked strong negative reactions from European allies and was identified more with the sticks than the carrots of U.S. diplomacy when dealing with countries like North Korea and Iran.

He had hoped for a promotion in Bush's second term, perhaps to deputy secretary of state, but the word went out that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick would get the No. 2 spot under Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state designate.


I imagine Specter will go a bit wobbly when the time comes, but for now he's categorically opposed to destroying Social Security and that's a good thing.

If you're a Pennsylvanian you should contact his office and express your support.

Afternoon Thread

Have fun.

Boot Him

Yglesias catches Max Boot being full of shit. But, the question is not why is Max Boot full of shit, but why the LA Times opinion editor (cough kinsley cough) puts it in print?


The Dems need to realize that Bush's dishonest plan to destroy Social Security isn't something which should send them scurrying for cover, as they've been doing for years, but something which will allow them to win in '06. Just get smart, and most of all stick together. The instant this is "bipartisan" it's over, and you're a big bunch of losers again. Clinton health/tax plans? 1994 elections? Ring any bells?

Morning Thread

Chat away.

The Good News From Iraq

Wow. From the Mayor of Loonyville:

Plus, the press loves reporting on bad news, but why don‘t they talk about the good news from Iraq?


Now, here‘s the story of an immigrant to the United States who signed up for military duty the day he got his green card. He went to Iraq and promptly volunteered for the most dangerous of duties and then proved himself worthy of the title American hero.

Sadly, few media outlets have shared his heroics with the American people, because it doesn‘t fit their liberal agenda. So, you probably haven‘t heard about his story, that is, until now.


According to “The Army Times,” quoting those who were there, a fragmentation grenade was rolled into a room where he and fellow Marines were seeking cover. He grabbed it and cradled it to his body, saving their lives, sacrificing his own.

That's the "good news." Heroic tales of sacrifice are not "good news." Last I checked it was thought to be fucking horrible when heroes died. Maybe I didn't get the memo.

And, for the record, while the Mayor of Loonyville and Oliver North claimed that the evil liberal media didn't cover this story, they lied. They've since scrolled off Google News, but I checked the day after North's 12/17 column and there were over 100 separate stories about Rafael Peralta.

(Loonyville tip thanks to Miss Authoritva commenting over at the Poor Man's pad.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

One Question

Marshall has the skinny on the leaked kill social security memo.

I understand that some people just think guvmint programs are bad. I understand people who truly believe that private investment accounts are a cheaper way to achieve a desired end for much of the population. But, what I don't understand is how none of these people are interested in addressing this question seriously:

What should society do about a significant number of 75+ year olds who through some combination of bad choices, bad circumstances, and bad luck find themselves unable to afford to maintain a modern subsistence lifestyle?

As Only the Poor Man Can

Just go read.

Medicare Drug Program Crisis


We're Number Two!


Houston was named the fattest city for the fourth time in five years, followed by Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis and Chicago.


Ben Wikler provides us with a choice excerpt from the Nelson report, a long running insider tipsheet generally considered to be quite reliable:

There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear "bad news."

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. "That's all he wants to hear about," we have been told. So "in" are the latest totals on school openings, and "out" are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that "it will just get worse."

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this "good news only" directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.

Late Evening

Have fun.

Early Evening Thread

Have fun.

An Evil Plot By Supervillains

This really is something out of Pinky and the Brain. It appears that Bush and his dastardly minions are plotting to explode the brains of much of the country during the inaugural:

The inaugural ceremony will include performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, the U.S. Marine Band and mezzo sopranos Denyce Graves and Susan Graham.

Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss., who performed on the Lawrence Welk show, will sing, “Let the Eagles Soar,” a song written by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Everybody, get to your soundproof safe rooms. It's the only way to survive.

Danny Boy vs. Ann Northrop

Danny Boy Okrent sez:

Statement from Daniel Okrent
New York Times Public Editor

Spurred by challenges and queries from several readers, I looked into the charge that The Times had willfully suppressed information about Susan Sontag's relationship with Annie Leibovitz. My inquiry indicates that the subject was in fact discussed before publication of the Sontag obituary, but that The Times could find no authoritative source who could confirm any details of a relationship. According to obituaries editor Chuck Strum, "It might have been helpful if The Times could have found a way to acknowledge the existence of a widespread impression that Susan Sontag and Annie Leibovitz were more than just casual friends. But absent any clarifying statements from either party over the years, and no such corroboration from people close to her, we felt it was impossible to write anything conclusive about their relationship and remain fair to both of them." Ms. Leibovitz would not discuss the subject with The Times, and Ms. Sontag's son, David Rieff, declined to confirm any details about the relationship.

Some might say that such safely accurate phrases as "Ms. Sontag had a long relationship with Annie Leibovitz" would have sufficed, but I think anything like that would not only bear the unpleasant aroma of euphemism, but would also seem leering or coy. Additionally, irrespective of the details of this particular situation, it's fair to ask whether intimate information about the private lives of people who wish to keep those lives private is fair game for newspapers. I would personally hope not.

Ann Northrop responds:

Dear Mr. Okrent--

I've read your note on the failure of The Times to include mention of Susan Sontag's relationship with Annie Liebovitz in her (Sontag's) obituary. I must say it leaves me with little respect for you or The Times fact-checking and research capabilities. Susan Sontag did talk about their relationship--in an essay in The New Yorker in which she referred to it as "an open secret." Ms. Sontag also had committed relationships with Lucinda Childs and other women.

Not only is your research deplorable, but your opinion that this information is out of bounds for reporting is antedeluvian. This is 2005, Mr. Okrent. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Belgium, the Netherlands and 8 provinces of Canada--and soon will be in all of Canada and Spain (and that's just this year). Same-sex relationships are not shameful or second-rate. Susan Sontag did not hide her relationships. The Times does not hesitate to discuss the private lives of anyone in its obituaries. You and The Times have performed shamefully in this instance.



Bush “likes somebody he sees as having overcome potential disadvantages, because he sees himself as having done that,” says Paul Burka, executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine and a close follower of the president.


This AP article was one of the better ones on SS until you got to the last line:

In each case, income from the worker's private account, funded with a portion of their Social Security tax, would be expected to at least make up the difference.

Not according to the chief Social Security actuary. Not according to the CBO study of "model 2" which appears to be the closest thing to the not-plan the president hasn't proposed.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

DeLay DeLight

Shorter Tom Delay:

"Thank God For 150,000 Dead!"

Longer Tom DeLay, from this morning's prayer breakfast.

"Matthew 7:21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29. For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes."

French Horn

"You know what I've heard about Shepard Smith... Shep Smith? Queer as a French Horn..."
--Rob Cordry, Daily Show.

A.G. T


WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, intervened directly with Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices in the name of national security, current and former administration officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Gonzales's role in seeking a legal opinion on the definition of torture and the legal limits on the force that could be used on terrorist suspects in captivity is expected to be a central issue in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings scheduled to begin on Thursday on Mr. Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general.

The request by Mr. Gonzales produced the much-debated Justice Department memorandum of Aug. 1, 2002, which defined torture narrowly and said that Mr. Bush could circumvent domestic and international prohibitions against torture in the name of national security.

Until now, administration officials have been unwilling to provide details about the role Mr. Gonzales had in the production of the memorandum by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Gonzales has spoken of the memorandum as a response to questions, without saying that most of the questions were his.

Current and former officials who talked about the memorandum have been provided with firsthand accounts about how it was prepared. Some discussed it in an effort to clear up what they viewed as a murky record in advance of Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Others spoke of the matter apparently believing that the Justice Department had unfairly taken the blame for the memorandum.


If our press can't even get the simplest goddamn things right, we're doomed.

WASHINGTON Jan 4, 2005 — The Bush administration is focusing on a Social Security proposal that would allow younger workers to invest up to 4 percent of their payroll taxes in private accounts, with contributions limited to about $1,000 to $1,300 a year, an official said Tuesday.



Evening Thread

Chat away.

Wow. More Lies.

On the floor of the Senate. Today. It's just unbelievable. I don't know what we'll tell the children.

the oath was a simple phrase. i do solemnly affirm i will support the constitution of the united states. those same 14 words form the vital core of today's oath. the oath that 34 senators, now, three hours ago. they bind us. in all who have served in this body before us, many of whom joined us today, to a common, a timeless and a paramount cause. and so our first responsibility above all else is to do our constitutional duty.

nothing should come before it. nothing should stand between it. not party, not ideology, and certainly not politics. and yet in the last congress, i believe the senate failed to perform in an essential constitutional duty. it failed to offer advice and consent to the president by filibustering ten judicial nominees and threatening to filibuster another six. these filibusters were unprecedented. never in the history of the senate has a minority filibustered a judicial nominee that had clear majority support. this was an abrupt and an unfortunate break in more than 200 years of senate tradition, of senate history. this tradition must be restored, not merely because we honor the traditions of the senate, but because this tradition reflects the proper role for this body, the senate, as designed by our framers in the constitutional arrangement. next month we'll have the opportunity to restore senate tradition. i'll bring one of the president's very capable, qualified, and scperd [??] judicial nominees to the floor. we can debate that nomination. we can vote to support it or to oppose it. and we must offer the president advice and consent by giving this and future judicial nominees who are brought to the floor up-or-down votes. some, i know, have suggested that the filibusters of the last congress are reason enough to offer a procedural change today right here and right now. but at this moment, i do not choose that path. my democratic colleagues have new leadership, and in the spirit of bipartisanship, i want to extend my hand across the aisle. i have a sincere hope that we can move forward past difficulties, beyond the past difficulties we saw in the last congress, and look forward to a future of cooperation. i seek cooperation not confrontation. cooperation does not require support for the nominees.

cooperation simply means voting judicial nominees brought to the floor up or down. so let me say this: if my democratic colleagues exercise self-restraint and don't filibuster judicial nominees, senate traditions will be restored. it will then be unnecessary to change senate procedures. self-restraint on the use of the filibuster for nominations, the very same self-restraint that senate minorities exercised for more than two centuries will alleviate the need for any action. but if my democratic colleagues continue to filibuster judicial nominees, the senate will face this choice. fail to do its constitutional duty or reform itself and restore its traditions and do what the framers intended. right now we cannot be certain judicial filibusters will cease, so i reserve the right to propose

changes to senate rule 22 and do noting awee dwroas carryingover[???] all the rules from the last congress. as a public servant who has twice taken an oath to support the constitution, i cannot stand idly by, nor should any of us, if the senate fails to do its constitutional duty.

I don't know what it is about that guy. He just can't stop lying. Maybe he needs help or something.

[uncapped to make easier on the eyes. Sorry, it's how I got the transcript, including errors]

Frist - Big Fat Liar

Oh My. What will we tell the children? This is just shocking, really. And the man's a doctor too. Disgracing both the venerable medical profession and the United States Senate. It's too horrible to even comprehend.

From CAP:

Documents obtained by American Progress show Frist participated in an effort to block one of Bill Clinton's judicial nominees via filibuster, then lied about it.

In recent weeks, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been relentlessly preaching about the evils of judicial filibusters. Speaking to the Federalist Society on November 12, Frist said filibustering judicial nominees is "radical. It is dangerous and it must be overcome."[1] Frist called judicial filibusters "nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority." When Bill Clinton was President, however, Frist engaged in the same behavior he is now condemning.

In 1996 Clinton nominated Judge Richard Paez to the 9th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. Conservatives in Congress held up Paez's nomination for more than four years, culminating in an attempted filibuster on March 8, 2000. Bill Frist was among those who voted to filibuster Paez.[2]

Frist was directly confronted with this vote by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation (11/21/04). Schieffer said "Senator, a group called The American Progress Action Fund sent me a question to ask you. And here's what it says: ‘Senator Frist, if you oppose the use of the filibuster for judicial nominations, why did you vote to filibuster Judge Richard Paez when President Clinton nominated him to the 9th Circuit?'"[3] Frist replied "Filibuster, cloture, it gets confusing--as a scheduling or to get more information is legitimate. But no to kill nominees."

But American Progress has obtained a document that proves Frist was not, as he suggested, voting to filibuster Paez for scheduling purposes or to get more information. He voted to filibuster Paez for the very reason he said was illegitimate – to block Paez's nomination indefinitely.

On March 9, 2000, Former Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) issued a press release describing the intent of the Paez filibuster vote the day before. The release says Senator Smith "built a coalition of several moderate and conservative Senators in an effort to block" Paez's nomination.[4] Frist was a part of that coalition. Smith did not organize the filibuster to get more information on Paez (after all his nomination had been pending for four years). He organized the filibuster because he had already decided Paez was "out of the mainstream of political though and...should [not] be on the court" [Click here to read Smith's press release].

You can read the horrible document here.

Model 2

Max points out just how shitty Little Nell can expect to do under what appears to be the Bush plan, though of course we don't really have a plan.

I'm not sure how to square the numbers rattled off by the Post reporters with the CBO predictions. Of course, as long as we don't have an actual plan, but just a bunch of smoke blown up gullible reporters asses, it's hard to discuss the details.

So, perhaps we shouldn't fall into the trap of doing so. The social security "crisis" is about as real as the WMD "crisis," though I suppose when seniors are impoverished we can similarly claim that it was a humanitarian mission.


I don't have the time this second to go into the full history of Judith Fucking "The Queen of All Iraq" Miller, but Seth Mnookin's comment to Sam Rosenfeld in his interview is just bullshit:

Whenever Judith Miller’s name comes up, too often the nuance is lost that there was never any point at which Judith thought she was doing anything but bringing good reporting to the paper. She wasn’t, obviously. But that was not because she was trying to perpetrate a fraud or advance some agenda or because she was hoping to get a position in the [Ahmed] Chalabi cabinet or whatever. In discussing her reporting, and obviously there’s a lot to discuss, I just think it’s so crucial to remember that distinction.

What a load of crap. Here's the normally useless Kurtz with a Judith Miller flashback:

On April 21, when the MET Alpha team was ordered to withdraw to the southern Iraqi town of Talil, Miller objected in a handwritten note to two public affairs officers. It said:

"I see no reason for me to waste time (or MET Alpha, for that matter) in Talil. . . . Request permission to stay on here with colleagues at the Palestine Hotel til MET Alpha returns or order to return is rescinded. I intend to write about this decision in the NY Times to send a successful team back home just as progress on WMD is being made."

One military officer, who says that Miller sometimes "intimidated" Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith, was sharply critical of the note. "Essentially, she threatened them," the officer said, describing the threat as that "she would publish a negative story."

An Army officer, who regarded Miller's presence as "detrimental," said: "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," this person said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

Times editor Rosenthal strongly disagreed, saying Miller's note sounded routine and that characterizing it as a threat is "a total distortion of that letter."

Miller later challenged the pullback order with Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne. While Petraeus did not have direct authority over Col. Richard McPhee, the commander of the 75th task force, McPhee rescinded his withdrawal order after Petraeus advised him to do so. McPhee declined two requests for comment.

"Our desire was to pull these guys back in," said an officer who served under McPhee, adding that it was "quite a surprise" that the order was reversed.

As for MET Alpha's seeming independence, this officer said: "The way McPhee phrased it for [staff] consumption was, 'I know they have gone independent, I know they have gone rogue, but by God at least they're doing something.' But if they're doing something, where's the meat? It didn't pan out."

That wasn't for lack of trying. In early May, Miller reported on MET Alpha's search for an ancient Jewish text that wound up unearthing Iraqi intelligence documents and maps related to Israel. In this case, too, Sethna said, the information was passed from Chalabi's group to Miller. "We thought this was a great story for the New York Times," Sethna said. "She discussed it with her team. . . . That came from us."

Asked if MET Alpha had gone astray, Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman, said that "commanders make decisions based on developing situations" and that the unit had the approval of its headquarters. He said that any lead provided by a reporter is deemed "open source, and we're going to use it."

But Curtin said of one MET Alpha foray: "Interrogating prisoners is usually left to military intelligence people who are trained in that art and do it right, under the laws of land warfare."

Miller formed a friendship with MET Alpha's leader, Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, and several officers said they were surprised when she participated in a Baghdad ceremony in which Gonzales was promoted. She pinned the rank to his uniform, an eyewitness said, and Gonzales thanked Miller for her contributions. Gonzales did not respond to a request for comment.


Miller's coverage of MET Alpha has drawn some critical press scrutiny for optimistic-sounding stories about the weapons hunt, generating headlines including "U.S. Analysts Link Iraq Labs to Germ Arms," "U.S. Experts Find Radioactive Material in Iraq" and "U.S.-Led Forces Occupy Baghdad Complex Filled With Chemical Agents." These potential discoveries did not bear fruit.

At the very least Judy's agenda was... promoting Judy. And, as a one-time listed Expert at the Middle East Forum, her agenda was likely quite a bit bigger than that.

Afternoon Thread

Chat away.

Never Forget

For some reason some of you still like to hold on to the notion that Sullivan is in fact a reasonable person. Let's remember what he published on September 16, 2001, and what he considers to be one of his "greatest hits."

The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.

Actually, that isn't what he published on September 16, 2001, despite what it says at the bottom of the page. What he actually published, but has now edited though it remains in Nexis's archive, was this:

The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country -the great red zone that voted for Bush -is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -and may well mount a fifth column.

And, two days later he wrote:

But we might as well be aware of the enemy within the West itself - a paralyzing, pseudo-clever, morally nihilist fifth column that will surely ramp up its hatred in the days and months ahead.

Sullivan was one of the earliest adopters of the idea that the most appropriate response to September 11 was to figure how to to use it to pit American against American.

Sociopath of the Day

Andrew Sullivan:

QUOTE FOR THE DAY I: "I'd much rather be doing this than figthing a war," - helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt, helping the survivors of the south Asian tsunami. Earth to Whitsitt: you're a soldier.

Earth to Sully: A rather large point of our massive Defense machine is its massive deterrent effect, along with the idea that we use it when we have to. We train our soldiers with the hope that they don't have to go to war, not so they make you feel big and powerful as you cheer them on to their deaths. It shouldn't shock you that a soldier would rather be helping people than killing them, even if he's willing to do the latter when necessary.

Another one of Sully's Deep Thoughts on the military:

i'm sorry but i pay for those soldiers to fight in a volunteer army. they are servants of people like me who will never fight. yes, servants of civil masters. and they will do what they are told by people who would never go to war. that's called a democracy.

Sully's thoughts on his recent experience in Iraq:

I'm still glad we fought it.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Journalist Alert

So you don't get exposed as an idiot in the coming weeks, let me give you a bit of information. It isn't just the initial level of Social Security benefits upon retirement which are determined by the wage index. The wage index is also what determines the income cap which sets the maximum income level upon which SS taxes are levied.

Cutting the rise in benefits without cutting the rise in the income cap is just another way to tax people of moderate incomes to pay for the tax cuts for the wealthy.

Bobo's World


Human beings have always told stories to explain deluges such as this. Most cultures have deep at their core a flood myth in which the great bulk of humanity is destroyed and a few are left to repopulate and repurify the human race. In most of these stories, God is meting out retribution, punishing those who have strayed from his path. The flood starts a new history, which will be on a higher plane than the old.

Nowadays we find these kinds of explanations repugnant. It is repugnant to imply that the people who suffer from natural disasters somehow deserve their fate. And yet for all the callousness of those tales, they did at least put human beings at the center of history.

In those old flood myths, things happened because human beings behaved in certain ways; their morality was tied to their destiny. Stories of a wrathful God implied that at least there was an active God, who had some plan for the human race. At the end of the tribulations there would be salvation.

Shorter Bobo, courtesy of Fred Phelps:

Thank God for 3,000 Dead Americans!

No Sex With Pages After All?


WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans suddenly reversed course Monday, deciding to retain a tough standard for lawmaker discipline and reinstating a rule that would force Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step aside if indicted by a Texas grand jury.

The surprise dual decisions were made by Speaker Dennis Hastert and by DeLay - who asked GOP colleagues to undo the extreme act of loyalty they handed him in November. Then, Republicans changed a party rule, so DeLay could have retained his leadership post if indicted by the grand jury in Austin that charged three of the Texas Republican's associates.

When Republicans began their closed-door meeting Monday night, leaders were considering a rules change that would have made it tougher to rebuke a House member for misconduct. The proposal would have required a more specific finding of ethical violations than is now required.

Republicans gave no indication before the meeting that the indictment rule would be changed. Even more surprising was DeLay's decision to make the proposal himself.

Republican Ethics Repeal Act of 2005

Here's what DeLay's goons are planning for tomorrow.

WASHINGTON -- January 3 -- Today, a non-partisan coalition of eight government watchdog groups condemned a new set of proposals under consideration by House Republican leaders that dramatically weakening House ethics rules. The proposed changes, which are scheduled for consideration this week – the opening week of the new Congress – reportedly include:

Dropping a key standard for ethics violations. Currently, it is a violation of House ethics rules to act in such a way that creates the appearance of corruption. The new proposal would eliminate that ethics standard and make only actual criminal behavior or illegal activity a violation of ethics rules.

Deadlocking the ability of the ethics committee to investigate complaints. If the bipartisan House ethics committee ties along party lines whether to conduct an investigation, a complaint automatically triggers an investigation within 45 days. The new proposal would require a majority vote to initiate any investigation.

Punishing members of the ethics committee who scolded Rep. Tom DeLay for ethics transgressions. A few months ago, the bipartisan House ethics committee unanimously voted to admonish Majority leader DeLay for offering his endorsement to a colleague’s son in exchange for a floor vote, for appearing to link campaign donations with legislation, and for diverting Federal Aviation Administration resources to chase after legislators over a partisan squabble. Rep. Joel Hefley, the Republican chair of the ethics committee, and perhaps other Republican members of the committee who voted for the admonishment, are now facing a drive to remove them from the committee.

So, what has the key ethics rule been used for? The WaPo explains:

It has been used to discipline members for taking bribes, fixing parking tickets and having sex with House pages.

So, the House Republicans support a rule change which will let them:

*Take bribes!

*Fix parking tickets!

*Have sex with House pages!

Open Thread

Chat away.

Happy Birthday National Review!

My. Has it been 50 years already? Time sure does fly. K. Lo promises a lovely trip through the archives for a celebration. I thought I might help get things started. Just in case they miss a few things. My birthday gift to them. From 1957 unsigned National Review piece, "Why The South Must Prevail." (warning -- serious cooties at link).

The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

That National Review! So ahead of it's time! Sticking up for minority rights, even in 1957. Well, white minority rights anyway, but let's not nitpick! It's a birthday celebration after all.

Bobo's World


Skeptics have called it the ``Miracle Study'' -- findings by scientists that simple prayers could dramatically boost fertility in women.

Published in a respected medical journal by a Capitola researcher, a department head at Columbia University and a Korean scientist also based at Columbia, it immediately attracted the attention of the news media, religious groups and couples desperately trying to conceive.

``Women who were prayed for became pregnant twice as often as those who did not have people praying for them,'' trumpeted the New York Times in 2001. Other media, including the Mercury News, picked up the story.

But now, three years after the study first suggested that a higher power could influence pregnancy rates, critics are calling it all a sham, a black eye to the research community and proof that medical studies aren't always what they appear to be.

Many in the medical field are saying that the only miracle about the study is that it was published to begin with. They wonder if the research was ever conducted at all.

As the controversy rages, the Bay Area researcher is en route to a California prison camp on an unrelated fraud conviction. The second scientist recently took his name off the study. The third quietly left Columbia. The government conducted its own investigation and determined the study violated federal research guidelines.


Somerby comments on the Grey Lady's anti-internet jihad. He concludes:

Gail Collins produces a superb editorial today about the unfolding Soc Sec debate. But isn’t it strange—that the information included here can only be found in a Times editorial? The Times is quick to challenge silly misstatements when they’re made by anonymous shlubs on the Net. But it’s weird! The paper seems a bit slow to respond when the crackpot misstatements come from the White House! When that happens, fellows like Schwartz get very quiet. You have to turn to editorials if you want to receive basic facts.

yep. And, it is rather odd that Schwartz didn't mention the blog of their star reporter.

That Liberal Media

Let the fence-mending begin. According to a Broadcasting & Cable source in Washington, D.C., CBS News president Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration.

CBS News’ popularity at the White House—never high to begin with—plunged further in the wake of Dan Rather’s discredited 60 Minutes story on George Bush’s National Guard service.

An incentive for making nice is the impending report from the two-member panel investigating CBS's use of now-infamous documents for the 60 Minutes piece.

Heyward was “working overtime to convince Bartlett that neither CBS News nor Rather had a vendetta against the White House,” our source says, “and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced.” CBS declined to comment.

They have been wonderfully "fair and balanced" recently, with John Roberts reading Bush adminstration press releases about Social Security and calling it "news."

There Is But One Sin

I think Mac Thomason has the best comment on the fact that some parents are upset that kids of gay parents have been allowed to attend their Catholic school because they think only the kids of "families that pledge to abide by Catholic teachings" should be allowed to attend.

I seem to remember graduating from a Catholic high school even though my father is a divorced Episcopalian.

Heh. Indeed.

Poppy and the Clenis

No, it's not the name of a 70s era TV show about a crime fighting truck driver and his pet python. It's an actual surprising move by Bush:

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) has tapped former Presidents Clinton and Bush to lead a nationwide charitable fund-raising effort for victims of the Asian tsunamis, the White House announced Monday.

The two men will lead an effort "to encourage the American people and American businesses to support, through private contributions, non-governmental and international organizations" relief and reconstruction to areas devastated by the tsunamis, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.


The RNC has a compassion deficit and a rather unfortunate headline.

I Want My Tivo To Go

Tivo's new upgrade finally unveiled, and my box doesn't yet have the right software update. grrr.

Morning Wingnuttery

From World O'Crap. Judson Cox is my favorite.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Late Night

Chat away.

Feel the Love

Ms. Maglalang says:

While I disagreed strongly with Matsui's stance on the WWII evacuation/relocation/internment...

Does anyone really wonder what Malkin's views about internment would have been if she had been born Robert Matsui:

I'd like, if I may, to take a moment to read something that I was able to get through the Freedom of Information Act in 1992. Individual number, 25261C. File number 405986. Your birth, '41, relocation center Tule (?) Lake, assembly center Pinedale. Home address, Sacramento, California.

Country of birth of father U.S. mainland, country of birth of mother, U.S. mainland. Birthplace, California. Year or arrival, American born, never in Japan. Marital status, single. Languages, not applicable.

Race, Japanese and no spouse. Highest grade, no schooling or kindergarten. Military service, no military nor naval service and no physical defects, and no public assistance or pension program.

Alien registration and Social Security number, none. Did not attend Japanese language school. Has neither alien registration number, nor the Social Security number.

Length of time in Japan, none. Age in Japan, never in Japan. Schooling in Japan, and number of years, none.

That happened to be my file that is still in the defense Department of the United States government. I was six months old at the time that I was taken, with my mother and father, from Sacramento, California, and placed in internment camps in the United States.

I was never given a trial. I never went before any magistrate, nor did my parents. To this day, I do not know what the charges that were lodged against me or my deceased parents at this time.

I spent approximately three and a half years of my life there, although I have no personal memory of it. I do know that many of my friends of Japanese ancestry suffered a great deal.

My mother and father refused to talk about it with me until they were nearing their death, separately, obviously. I remember when I was in the fourth grade at William Bland School in Sacramento, California, I was asked by a very well intentioned teacher, because we were studying American history and World War II. She said, "Bob, weren't you in one of those camps, those camps for Japanese during the war? And maybe you can describe this to the classmates."

I'll never forget it. I shuddered. I must have turned color and I said "I don't know what you're talking about." She says, "Are you sure? You were in one of those camps. I know your mother and father were." I said "I don't know what you mean."

Then we went out later in the playground and I remember one of my friends, a very good friend, going like this to me as if it were a gun or something, and saying, "Were you a spy? Was that why you were in jail?"

What our problem was was that there was this specter of disloyalty that hung over us as Americans of Japanese ancestry, those of us that were interned during World War II, 115,000, Americans, basically, of Japanese ancestry.


And the U.S. general, John L. DeWitt, who was in charge of the internment and incarceration of the Japanese Americans, stated a few months later "The Japanese race is an enemy race, and while many second and third Japanese born in the United States soil possessed of U.S. citizenship have become Americanized, the racial strains are undiluted. It therefore follows that along the virtual Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies of Japanese extraction are at large today."

And the reason I call your attention to this, and what happened in the comments and before December 7, is because there was an anti-Asian sentiment. There was a strain throughout the West Coast, and particularly the state of California. Pearl Harbor merely triggered the sentiment to become a sign of action. It is my believe that the internment was for that reason. It was the triggering event of deep seated feelings that existed in the state of California, and Washington, and the entire west coast of the United States.

As I said, this was something that we had a very difficult time talking about, and it wasn't until 1981 when the Congress of the United States actually set up a commission to look into the causes of the internment, and also whether anything should be done, such as apologies, or redress, or reparations for those that were interred.

I was personally stunned, because of the seven or eight hearings throughout the United States, many Americans of Japanese ancestry who at that time were in their 60's, began to speak out. And it was stunning because as they were testifying, they would immediately break down and begin to describe their ordeal; the fact that they were isolated and ostracized from their own communities, their own state, and obviously the nation.

I recall going back and finally having the opportunity to talk with my parents. And my mother, who was at that time dying, said that yes, she woke up all of the time in the middle of the night thinking that she was in one of the camps.

My dad finally began to speak about it. It was an event that kind of opened up for us the opportunity to begin to discuss what had actually happened. Instead of saying that it was our fault, we were then able to finally say that it wasn't our fault. It was the government, a failure of leadership in the United States that caused the internment.


Let me conclude, and then we'll have questions and a discussion, if I may make one other observation, if I may. This is a great and wonderful country, because what happened in 1987 is that the House, the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate passed legislation for a presidential apology for the internment for the surviving Americans of Japanese ancestry who were interned, plus compensation of $20,000 per survivor.

President Reagan signed the legislation, and I have to say that I brought the letter from the president, by that time President Bush, Sr. had signed the letter and given it to my father, who was 21 years old at the time of the internment, and he broke down and cried, and he indicated what a great country we had.

I have to say that it's very few countries that are willing to look back at its past and apologize for its act, or make amends for its act, as the United States had one. Hopefully as a country, that we learn from our mistakes of the past.

Local Recommendations

If you're a Philly local, check out All Wear Bowlers if you get a chance...

And, on the restaurant front, Pif is excellent.

Robert Matsui (D-CA) Has died

Flashed up on CNN briefly.

thoughts go out for family and friends..

"Repeat Them Exactly"

Wolcott comments on an article in the Economist.

Bobo's World

This time it's Bobo himself, who is angry that discussions about relief efforts are getting in the way of his existential angst.

Morning Thread

Chat away.