Saturday, December 11, 2004

Late Night

bling bling.

Memories... How They Fade so Fast...

From the commies at the History Channel:

An Outlaw Christmas
In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.


I've been thinking about how we can emulate Brent Bozo's little gang and start filing FCC complaints. But, we need a reasonable target. Daytime soaps?


As regular readers of "Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle" know, there are frequent newsworthy moments in the daily press gaggle with our dear Scotty.

How come those newsworthy moments rarely actually make the news?

Glad I'm an Adult


BRADENTON - Retired Gen. Tommy Franks has signed on to be the spokesman for a company that uses global positioning system technology in teens' cell phones to let parents know how fast they're driving.

Franks, who as commander of U.S. Central Command based at MacDill Air Force directed the invasion of Iraq, will be the official face of Teen Arrive Alive.

The organization aims to get teens to carry a cell phone containing a GPS chip that sends out regular signals letting parents know where they are and how fast they're going.

If a predetermined speed limit is passed, an alarm goes off in the teen's cell phone and parents are automatically notified.

Even before these types of enhancements, I imagine that a lot of teenagers very quickly regretted their new cell phone..

Evening Thread

Chat away.

Indecent Olympics

This is hilarious.

Fake Ethics

I get so sick of people handwringing over a fake journalist code of ethics. Romenesko is filled with people tut-tutting a reporter for daring to help soldiers craft questions for Rumsfeld because he "inserted himself into the story."

The media is always a part of the story. Every single story which is written implicitly inserts the media into the story. Reporting the "news" is not a passive event without consequences, it shapes events.

Every decision to publish an anonymous leak by an administration official pushing an agenda inserts the media into the story.

And, christ, where were all these people when half of the Washington press corps became an adjunct wing of Starr's OIC?

President Liar

What will we tell the children?

The system is headed towards bankruptcy down the road," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren."

No, it is not "headed towards bankruptcy." At worst, if zero changes are made andpessimistic growth assumptions come true, at some point around 2045 (depending on which estimate), the system is predicted to only be able to pay out 75% of promised benefits. Of course, that 75% of promised benefits is still going to be equal to or higher in real terms than current benefit levels. So, while there would have to be a drop in payouts if no changes at all were made in the system, that drop would still lead to benefit levels roughly equal to or even greater than current benefit levels. And, then, those affordable payouts would continue to grow...

Every Democrat should be on TV tomorrow saying some version of "The president is lying to the American people about this vital program..."

Saint Rudy

I doubt Kerik withdrew because of his minor nanny problem, although I suppose it's possible. But the real question is whether this event knocks Saint Rudy off his perch a bit. Kerik was Rudy's choice, and this is the kind of bad advice which pisses Bush off I imagine. Perhaps we won't see the mayor hanging out with the prez so much in the coming days.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Quote of the Week

From Big Bad Bill O'Falafel:

That's why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? How about Jim Lehrer -- did he? Did Larry King -- hello -- I love Christmas -- did he? No.

-- Bill O'Reilly, The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, December 9, 2004

Flip Flop

Kerik's out.

WASHINGTON Dec 10, 2004 — Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, President Bush's choice to be homeland security secretary, has withdrawn his name from consideration, the White House announced late Friday.

Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, in a conference call to news organizations, revealed that Kerik had withdrawn "for personal reasons."

Late Night

Chat away.

Friday Cat Blogging

Cat Torture edition.

Dealing With Liberal Academia

The Poor Man tells the future:

How can it be that, after only a year with the Times, David Brooks has already written the definitive example of every wingnut talking point there is? What horrors does the future hold?

This "problem" will be dealt with the way every other left-wing conspiracy has been dealt with. First, it will be whined about incessantly, and anyone who tells them to pipe down will be accused of hating America. This can be kept up indefinitely, because, if there is one thing conservatives are good at, it is whining about how oppressed they are by nebulous crypto-commie cabals. (The other thing they are good at is gloating about how they control everything. Both can be done at the same time without any discomfort.) Peter Beinart will assume that there's something to this, and write about how the Democrats need to abandon their unmanly intellectual elitism and embrace the proud Democratic tradition of Wavy Gravy. Gregg Easterbrook will mount his 600 cubic hectare gravity bong and write a column about how the theories of evolution and relativity are only theories, maaaan, and as such are no better than his theory that there is an infinitely wise and kind and just spirit controlling the universe who allows the creatures he loves unconditionally to suffer the many arbitrary cruelties of this world, such as Gregg Easterbrook columns. Principled liberals and moderates will roll over, and public universities will create Departments of Conservative Studies, where you can earn a Doctorate in Wingnuttery for your dissertation on how the Dixie Chicks made us lose Vietnam.

Let's Make a Deal

I'll concede to my good friend Jonah Goldberg and Peter Beinart and everyone else that "all serious liberals [and people]" supported, at least in principle, the war in Afghaistan as proper response to the events of 9/11 and a necessary step in combatting terrorism if they all concede one little thing to me:


That is, they opposed the war on Iraq because they considered stopping that war a necessary step in combatting terrorism. Sure, there were lots of other reasons to oppose that war, but that one was good enough and one which was embraced by plenty of "serious" people.

Or, at least, take the issue up with noted Afghanistan war opposition leader Donald Rumsfeld.

(yes, the whole conservatarian "serious people believe..." construction is one of their most annoying little rhetorical tricks)

Jew-Hollywood-Anal-Sex-Abortion Conspiracy

Revealed by William Donohue!


MSNBC hasn't quite mastered the whole link thing, so I'll just quote most of it:

If you're keeping score at home, this week, speaking on behalf of the home side, Peter Beinart suggests we all jettison Michael Moore, who's never done anything except make a lot of successful movies and support Wesley Clark. Meanwhile, across the field, not only does C-Plus Augustus do a photo op with an accused child-diddling parson, but also David Brooks uses his prime piece of real estate to popularize a eugenics Creepazoid from deep on the fringes of the fringe. And there's your national dialogue for you: Democrats must keep their best friends in the attic while Republicans keep the bats**t brigade right there in the front hall.

Moore apparently has become a punchline for "all that social justice stuff," among the DLC corpocrats. Bruce Reed cited him on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal -- and what a fine place THAT is to find a Democrat. (I hope Vince Foster's family thinks to call Bruce over the holidays to compliment him on his new pals.) On CSPAN, I also heard Moore's name used in vain by none other than strategist Jim Jordan who, when we last heard from him, had John Kerry running a strong fourth in New Hampshire, but widening his narrow lead over both Al Sharpton and Trigger.

Thanks for coming back, Jim. Mine's the gray Buick. Bring it around, will you?

(And while we're at it, the Slate piece about was another prize, especially the blind quotes from an "aide to one of the Democratic presidential candidates," and if the candidate in question isn't Weepin' Joe Lieberman, I'll eat Michael Kinsley's hat. Note to Slate -- there are any number of rightist groups whose only function is to "excite a finite universe" of hysterical wingnuts, and the Republicans seem fairly cool with it.)

As long as we're cutting people loose, here's a notion. How's about we start ignoring The New Republic for a while? I mean, it's been a pretty good 20-year run for the Singer midgets since they signed aboard Ronald Reagan's Excellent Nun-Slaughtering adventures in Central America. People still take them nearly as seriously as they take themselves -- and this is despite Ruthie Shalit and Stevie Glass, and the Bell Curve, and Liz McCaughey's health-care horsepucky, and Beinart's own defense of on-your-Beltway-duff reporting from a couple of months back. Turning a highly successful -- would TNR really like to measure itself against the works of Michael Moore using any of the conventional benchmarks of American success? -- progressive activist into cheap shorthand in order to advance the progressive cause is a strategy that leads me to believe that maybe some of the golden children need to get out into the country more.

As near as I can tell, the worst thing most rank-and-file progressives have said about Michael Moore is that he's a lousy boss. (And, boy, is THAT not an argument available to any TNR editor.) Whatever quibbles you may have had against his movie --and I'm not sure that this particular magazine ever will be in a position to quibble about anyone's facts again --the movie showed the country an awful lot that the country's alleged media gatekeepers declined to show it while they went haring after the fantastical grounds of an increasingly bloody war. If some of the suckers are feeling a little guilty now, that's their problem, not Michael Moore's.

And, Dr. Alterman says he's co-hosting the Majority Report on Monday. Dr. Atrios will be doing it on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fun With Infinite Horizons Models

Now this is truly a great idea. Cost of NAFTA to the economy of Mexico? $8.1 trillion.

Late Morning Thread

Chat away.

The Problem Is

When a network interviews someone, pretending they hold neutrality when they are actually partisan. That is not a legal problem, however, but an ethical one.

Fucking hell.

And, adding to that, yesterday CNN had a segment on Social Security which began with:

Social Security is in trouble. Politicians like South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham know it.

And then included diversity of opinion by experts from... the Concord Coalition and the Cato Institute.

That was it.

The Social Security media fix is in. Do you know why? Cavuto's Jordan Kimmel of the Magnet Investment group told us. Cavuto asked him:

Jordan Kimmel, if we start seeing that [privatization], that's a lotta money that makes its way to guys like you right?

Oh, it's just another, another bushel of money. The money that's been on the sidelines in the bonds. The money that's in Social Security. Again, I think you will see a certain privatization happen. And again, it's an avalanche of money and there's just so much money on the sidelines. That's why the market has been so strong for months now.

Heh. Indeed.

Great Moments in Punditry

From the 8-times divorced Larry King, talking to John and the wonderful Elizabeth Edwards, regarding her recently diagnosed breast cancer:

Senator, has there been any thoughts and this happens in any case where the male hears the news from the mate -- aesthetically, how will Elizabeth look, how will she respond? Do you have any of those feelings?"

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Flip Flop

Look, this is gibberish. Even if the idiots come up with some "creative dynamic scoring" plan for SS borrowing, one cannot simultaneously cut the deficit in half and not cut it in half any more than one can have tea and no tea.

White House budget director Joshua Bolten said the cost of implementing Bush's plans would not undercut Bush's goal of cutting the deficit in half over the next five years.

Yet, he said, such costs ``may well'' add to short-term annual deficits. ``I don't want to prejudge how they might be accounted for,'' Bolten said.

Yet Another Version

I know this is getting old but, but it's also increasingly ridiculous:

The affiliations and identities of bloggers are not always apparent. Take writer Duncan Black, who blogged under the name Atrios. His was a popular liberal blog. During part of the period he was blogging, Black was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America. Critics in the blogosphere said this fact wasn't fairly disclosed.

“People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it’s partisan,” Jamieson said. “The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.”

That is not a legal problem, however, but one of ethics. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog and his affiliation with Media Matters. Fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. And Black continued blogging.

Defenders of Black point out that unlike the South Dakota blogs, he was not working on behalf of a campaign. And clearly, absent blog ethical guidelines, what Black did was not that different than many others.

Still no correction notice...


Thanks Bill! Love you too!

On Air America in a few...

DeLay - Punk'd


Shut Your Hole Norm

Things are changing, apparently...

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Bush administration expressed confidence in U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) on Thursday and said he should stay in office, in a belated rebuff to demands from Republicans in Congress for his resignation.

U.S. Ambassador John Danforth called reporters together to deliver the comments, saying that he had to clarify the U.S. position after his colleagues and the media believed the United States government was not supporting Annan.

"We are expressing confidence in the secretary-general and his continuing in office," Danforth said, "No one to my knowledge has cast doubt on the personal integrity of the secretary-general. No one."

"We are not suggesting or pushing for the resignation of the secretary-general," said Danforth, adding that he was speaking for the White House and the State Department.

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (news, bio, voting record), a Minnesota Republican, who was later joined by five congressmen, last week called for the resignation of Annan, who has two more years in office before completing his second five-year term.

Bobo's World

Cary, NC.


Students at one of the area's largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived "a life of plenty, of simple pleasures."
Leaders at Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using "Southern Slavery, As It Was," a booklet that attempts to provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren't treated as badly as people think.

Principal Larry Stephenson said the school is only exposing students to different ideas, such as how the South justified slavery. He said the booklet is used because it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery.

"You can have two different sides, a Northern perspective and a Southern perspective," he said.

Some book excerpts:

* "Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence." (page 24)

* "Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." (page 25)

* "But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends." (page 27)

* "Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South -- and had a much easier existence." (page 30)

They Get Letters

David Brock writes to CBS.

Ha Ha

World O'Crap shows us the early version of the recent CBS piece on bluggers.

...Ed Cone notes that CBS has changed their story somewhat without informing readers. New relevant bit:

Hypothetically, if The Washington Post discovered that The New York Times had a reporter being paid by the Bush campaign it would report it. If proven, the suspect reporter would be fired and likely never work in mainstream journalism again. Hence, the courts have been satisfied with the industry’s ability to regulate itself.

This is what happened in the case of Duncan Black. The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios, Black wrote under a pseudonym. During part of this period, Black was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

“People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it’s partisan,” Jamieson said. “The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.”

That is not a legal problem, however, but one of ethics. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog. Fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. And Black continued blogging.

Defenders of Black point out that unlike the South Dakota blogs, he was not working on behalf of a campaign. And clearly, absent blog ethical guidelines, what Black did was not that different than many others.

This actually isn't any better. What an idiot. How about some goddamn journalistic ethical guidelines. Such as, you know, running a "correction" notice when you change a story.



Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by “a matter of physics, not a matter of money.'’

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company’s aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.

“We’re prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,'’ Mecredy said in the interview. “I’ve told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.'’

Remember folks, it isn't the sex, it's the lying...

...let me just add, kudos to Edmond Lococo of Bloomberg for doing this story. This is exactly the kind of "should be obvious" follow-up journalism which is in short supply these days.


While I think Confessore is not so far from the mark here in some ways, I think it's really important to highlight what really pisses people off about the DLC.

Look, back in the 90s what pissed people off about the DLC and Clinton forays into Republican-lite policies were the policies. But, that was yesterday's DLC. Today's DLC isn't out there pushing a particular policy agenda, they're just out there throwing bombs onto everyone who is to the left of them. No matter what the merits of any particular DLC policy, their MO isn't to advocate those policies - their MO is to go out there and say "you're all a bunch of l0000zers for not agreeing with us and everything is your fault!!!!!!" to, well, 80% of the people who tend to vote Democrats.

Now, inside the beltway democrats who count among their friends plenty of DLC types and have serious discussions about policies and strategy and whatnot probably perceive this as a serious debate about the direction of the Democratic party in terms of its policies, but the rest of us just see the DLC as a bunch of smug bratty assholes who pop up every few weeks to write nasty polemics against everyone who doesn't agree with them. Everyone, of course, being most Democrats. It's not exactly a winning strategy.

Basically, From likes pissing people off. From Josh Marshall:

Suffice it to say that I asked my friend whether he thought From and Reed were fully aware of the 'optics' of running such a 'Dems get your house in order' piece on the Journal's editorial page. He said yes, they did and that they enjoyed the optics of it. I responded, yes, I knew that; but still really didn't think they quite 'got it'.

Let me explain what I meant and didn't mean. I didn't mean that Democrats should boycott the Journal OpEd page or restrict their writing to house organs -- plenty of liberals write pieces there and that's fine; I wouldn't want it any other way. Nor do I mean that Democrats shouldn't air their dirty laundry. They should. And now, frankly, as far as you can get from an election, is the time to do it.

But to advise Democrats you've got to be a Democrat, part of the Democratic party. And what that means is a certain threshold level of lack of contempt for people who, day in and day out, are the Democratic party. I don't mean 'the base'. I mean everyone -- right, left and center, the volunteers, the funders and the intellectuals, the issue activists and the occasional voters. And this shows a basic unwillingness to do that -- even in the most simple symbolic ways, indeed, a delight in not doing so.

The point is that the DLC gives off the impression, quite understandably, that they're not actually interested in convincing anybody they're correct about whatever it is they're advocating that day. They just want to be smug and look down upon all the pissants who aren't on board. While they write about how the problem is that some people actually disagree with them, they don't really seem to concerned with changing anyone's mind. Peeing in people's cornflakes for fun and sport isn't a way to win friends and supporters.

I'm sure some good folks at the DLC, and they of course exist, might object to this characterization. But, that's the image people have of them -- if they want to fix it they should try.

Bobo's World

I'm shocked. There are bad people in Bobo's world.

Lakewood-based General Steel Corp. engaged in consumer fraud and deceptive business practices by leading customers to believe they were getting deep discounts on steel buildings, a judge ruled.

Jefferson County District Judge Brooke Jackson imposed the maximum fine of $200,000 on owner Jeffrey Knight and lesser fines on other company officials. He also ordered restitution for customers of the company, which sells steel buildings used in agriculture and commerce.

General Steel praised portions of the ruling, including a decision by Jackson not to fine the company itself. But it vowed to appeal other "aspects of the case."

The judge said that the General Steel, in some of its ads including those done by personalities Paul Harvey and Rush Limbaugh, pitched products at 50 percent off, when the buildings were being sold at full price.

Theocracy Rising


Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration, saying that religion ``has played a defining role'' in the nation's history, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to permit Ten Commandments displays in courthouses.

The Justice Department today filed a brief supporting two Kentucky counties accused of violating the constitutional ban on government establishment of religion by posting framed copies of the Ten Commandments.

I wish the fine Christians who support this stuff would get their heads out of their asses long enough to realize that different denominations embrace different versions of the Ten Commandments.

Morning Thread


Late Night

Chat away.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Kuhn Flashback

Jerome caught Kuhn with this:

On one side is the moderate wing, now under the stewardship of Reid, a Mormon who opposes abortion except in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's life. On the other is the liberal wing led by antiwar and pro-abortion rights presidential candidate Howard Dean.

As Jerome wrote at the time:

In case you missed the new tune in town, the "moderate wing" of the Democratic Party "opposes abortion" and the "liberal wing" is "antiwar and pro-abortion".

If you feel slightly amazed that you now find yourself standing on the far left wing of your own party, alongside 80-90% of the rest of the Democratic Party, in opposition to the unilateral occupation in Iraq, and to government intrusion of a woman's body (otherwise framed as "antiwar and pro-abortion"), join the club.

Ah, that liberal media.

Dear CBS & David Paul Kuhn

I'm writing to you regarding your recent story titled "Blogs: New Medium, Old Politics." Your article, which was concerned with, among other things, whether "bloggers are credible," contained some errors.

First, the title of this blog is "Eschaton" and not "Atrios." This is apparent from the big black letters at the top of the page.

Second, you state that I had been working with Media Matters for America "all along" while I was doing this weblog. I began writing this weblog in April, 2002. MMFA only came into existence in May, 2004. I began working with them in June, 2004.

Third, you suggest I had an "ethical" problem. Could you be more specific about what that was? Having one's character impugned by a major media outlet is a serious matter.

Finally, a quote is positioned in your article such that it suggests my assocation with Media Matters for America makes me somehow "partisan" and that beforehand I therefore was perceived as non-partisan. I have never worked for a candidate or campaign, though I have never made my political views secret, any more than has the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. This blog is produced entirely using my own time and resources, and Media Matters for America is a non-partisan "501(c)(3) not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."



Stupid Media


In the case of Duncan Black, this is what happened. The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios, Black wrote under a pseudonym. All the while, he was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

“People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it’s partisan,” Jamieson said. “The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.”

That is not a legal problem, however, but an ethical one. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog and fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. But he is still blogging.

No, I wasn't working with Media Matters "all along." I started this blog in April 2002. My prior employment ended in May, 2004. I started working with Media Matters in early-mid June, 2004. I was out of the country for most of July, not doing anything for Media Matters, and then I came back, went to the DNC, and outed myself.

As for what the ethical problem is, I have no idea. But, as for these stupid fuckers who worked for the Thune campaign, all I have to say is YEAAAAAARGGHH:

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.

The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.

Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.

No laws have apparently been broken. Case precedent on political speech as it pertains to blogs does not exist. But where journalists' careers may be broken on ethics violations, bloggers are writing in the Wild West of cyberspace. There remains no code of ethics, or even an employer, to enforce any standard.

Thanks for inviting the regulators over for dinner, assholes. And, yes, Kos has done consulting work and whatnot but that's very different from being on the payroll as a propaganda outlet.

As for this:

Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.

Jeebus knows what kind of crap they have in mind. I can think of reasonable extensions of campaign finance laws which really don't apply to internet activity currently, but I would hope that they instant they start they cross the line and make it necessary to hire a lawyer before you start shooting off your mouth online the Supremos will smack them down.


just go read.

Where We Are

David Brock wrote a letter to Creators Syndicate asking them about their decision to syndicate Samuel Francis's column. Here's their answer:

"Did I disagree with the column? Yes," responded Anthony Zurcher, a Creators editor who saw the Francis piece before it was syndicated. "Did I feel it was so reprehensible that it shouldn't have been sent out? No."

In his Nov. 26 column, Francis decried the MNF spot not only for its implied nudity and implied sex, but for racial reasons. (Sheridan is white and Owens is black.) Francis wrote, among other things: "Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction because it means the dissolution of the cultural boundaries that define breeding and the family and, ultimately, the transmission and survival of the culture itself."

The column prompted yesterday's letter from David Brock, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, an organization dedicated to "monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Brock, a former conservative, wrote Creators President Rick Newcombe to say "Creators' willingness to distribute such abhorrent views calls into question the syndicate's ethical and editorial standards. ... [W]e are looking forward to hearing your explanation as to why your syndicate judges Sam Francis to be an appropriate columnist for your roster."

Zurcher said Creators distributes columnists from across the political spectrum, and "we don't tell them what to say." He noted that other Creators columnists, including Roland Martin, have discussed the MNF spot from a different perspective than Francis took.

The syndicate editor acknowledged that Francis addressed "a very sensitive topic." But, "he's entitled to his opinion and David Brock is entitled to his opinion," said Zurcher. "I have a lot of respect for David Brock and what he does, and for media watchdog groups on both sides. They have an important role to play."

Yes, Francis is entitled to his opinion that "Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction." Creators is entitled to syndicate it. Newspapers are entitled to publish. But, expressings concerns about breaking "down the sexual barriers between the races" is not a broaching a "senstive topic," it's fucking racism.

They Get Letters

The ADL writes to Bill O'Reilly.

Dean Speech

Pretty good.

Afternoon Thread

Chat away.

Pledge Drive

Not for me, but for Media Matters. I'm not exactly a disinterested party, but if you have some spare money and wish to make a tax deductible contribution... Media Matters is doing the kind of work that our side just hasn't been doing enough of. It takes a lot of manpower to do comprehensive media monitoring. And, frankly, you can't pay people enough to force them to watch that much Fox News.

So, consider giving a little...

Here's the fundraising email which went out:

Dear Friends:

Together, we are fighting back against an avalanche of conservative misinformation in the media. Thanks to incredible support from you, our readers, Media Matters for America has accomplished a great deal since our launch. Just look at what others are saying:

On Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

"Long before newspapers and television networks began dissecting the claims of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Media Matters for America, a new Website headed by conservative-turned-progressive David Brock was in hot pursuit of the anti-Kerry group." -- Scott Shepard, Cox News Service, August 26, 2004

On MSNBC canceling plans to have Republican pollster Frank Luntz conduct presidential debate night focus groups:

"Looks like the [Media Matters] letter had an impact ... the network [MSNBC] has decided 'not to go with Frank for the debate.'" -- Mary Ann Akers, Roll Call, September 30, 2004

On Sinclair Broadcast Group:

"[T]his [Sinclair pulling the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor from its program schedule] was largely engineered by a terrific group, an independent group called Media Matters for America, a progressive group that monitors the media. ... Good for Media Matters for America." -- Paul Begala, CNN's Crossfire, October 20, 2004

FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly on Media Matters:

"That's just Joseph Goebbels Nazi stuff." -- The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, September 14, 2004

There is so much more that needs to be done, and we need your help. With your support, we hope to expand our media monitoring to include right-wing religious broadcasting and conservative regional and local radio shows. We will have the capacity to launch more activism campaigns that -- through your participation -- hold the media accountable.

Click here now to make your tax-deductible contribution
A healthy democracy depends on public access to accurate and reliable information. Media Matters for America is dedicated to alerting news outlets and consumers to conservative misinformation -- wherever we find it, in every news cycle -- and to spurring progressive activism. Together, we must continue to fight, and your contributions will make a difference.

Click here now to make your tax-deductible contribution
We can ensure standards and accountability in media.

Thank you for your continued support.


David Brock
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

Bobo's World

Criminal debauchery in his favorite points in exurbia...

I think Bobo's World should be a regular feature. Please submit tales of the sordid from rural/exurban America as they come to your attention.


David Neiwert adds to the conversation about liberals-and-terrorism.

Let me add just one thing: Beinart's obsession is that it's the "softs" who have prevented Democrats from having a coherent and distinct and sufficiently muscular foreign/anti-terrorism policy.

Beinart's got it exactly wrong. The primary thing which prevented the Democrats from having that was the insistence by people like Beinart that it was necessary to support the Iraq war, in order, presumably, to not be "soft."


Eminent Domain for Big Box

The WSJ (subscription) has an article about the increasing employment of eminent domain by big box retailers to obtain land on the cheap. It's really a disgsuting practice. Let's hope the Supremes swat this practice down once they issue their ruling.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


It's stunning what the Times splashes across its pages these days. Charles Murray, Steve Sailer, David Brooks...

Tapped and Media Matters tell you more.

Late Night

Chat away.

Consumer Credit

Big numbers:

Separately, U.S. consumers took on more debt in October, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Consumer credit outstanding rose $7.7 billion in October to $2.093 trillion. That follows a revised $13.6 billion rise in September to $2.086 trillion, originally reported up $9.8 billion.

The October consumer credit rise was larger than Wall Street expected. Analysts had forecast consumer debt growth to rise by $6.2 billion in October. Consumer-credit data tends to be highly volatile from month to month and is frequently revised.

Best Friends

Bush with his good friend Mike Hintz.


Another fake uniform. Check out the embroidered bit.
from Fox News front page:

...ahh, mystery solved by Thersites.

O'Reilly to Jewish Caller: "Go to Israel"

This is astounding:

O'REILLY: All right. Well, what I'm tellin' you, [caller], is I think you're takin' it too seriously. You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] -- if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.

Drinking Liberally

After a long absence I'll actually be able to attend this evening, though only for about an hour.

Ten Stone, 21st & South, 6pm-?


It's always fun pointing out hypocrisy, but even those who preach against what they consider to be sin are allowed to fail now and again. But, as Adventus points out there's a difference between an internal struggle to live up to your own ideals, and those who believe God's on their side of a culture war and who are actively trying to impose them on others. When you're shtupping the teenager while proclaiming yourself a mighty warrior in the struggle for the soul of your country, it transcends simple hypocrisy. It's a deep and ugly arrogance.

Family Values


Bush introduced Mike and Sharla Hintz, a couple from Clive, whom he said benefited from his tax plan.

Last year, because of the enhanced the child tax credit, they received an extra $1,600 in their tax refund, Bush said. With other tax cuts in the bill, they saved $2,800 on their income taxes.

They used the money to buy a wood-burning stove to more efficiently heat their home, made some home improvements and went on a vacation to Minnesota, the president said.

"Next year, maybe they'll want to come to Texas," Bush quipped.

Mike Hintz, a First Assembly of God youth pastor, said the tax cuts also gave him additional money to use for health care.

He said he supports Bush's values.

"The American people are starting to see what kind of leader President Bush is. People know where he stands," he said.

"Where we are in this world, with not just the war on terror, but with the war with our culture that's going on, I think we need a man that is going to be in the White House like President Bush, that's going to stand by what he believes.

and today...

A Des Moines youth pastor is charged with the sexual exploitation of a child.

KCCI learned that the married father of four recently turned himself in to Johnston police.

Rev. Mike Hintz was fired from the First Assembly of God Church, located at 2725 Merle Hay Road, on Oct. 30. Hintz was the youth pastor there for three years.

Police said he started an affair with a 17-year-old in the church youth group this spring.

Groundhog Day

WaPo, 7/19/03:

U.S. military commanders plan to train and arm thousands of Iraqis to conduct military missions alongside U.S. and British troops in an effort to restore security and quell resistance by forces loyal to ousted president Saddam Hussein, the new head of U.S. military forces in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East said today.

"The Iraqis want to be in the fight," Army Gen. John P. Abizaid said in his first interview since taking over U.S. Central Command this month. "We intend to get them in the fight."

Plans to create a militia-like civil defense force signal a new approach to the task of establishing order in postwar Iraq, where 36 U.S. troops have been killed in attacks since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.

WaPo, 7/21/03:

Abizaid has said that U.S. casualties suffered during raids or other operations to secure Iraq are an unavoidable cost of combat. But he also said that noncombat casualties, such as those suffered by soldiers guarding civilian institutions, are unacceptable and that those jobs must be given back to Iraqis.

"We're still at war, and in this environment, no soldier likes to be on guard duty," said Army Col. Guy Shields, a spokesman for the U.S. military here. "The way these soldiers are trained, they can do a lot more than just being security guards. We want to get soldiers doing more soldier-like things."

Other officials expressed worry that the heavy U.S. military presence in Baghdad could be a prime reason for the attacks. American soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles patrol the streets here with machine guns ready. Officials said removing military guards from places where Iraqis bank, shop and visit the doctor would lower the military profile and might reduce the simmering resentment among the Iraqi population.

Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said this week that more than 8,700 trained Iraqis were working in a new facilities protective service, which provides guards for key civilian sites.

That corps is separate from the Iraqi police force and the new Iraqi army that are being organized. It is also distinct from a militia-like civil defense force that U.S. officials plan to create to patrol alongside U.S. troops until the new army is fully functional.

WaPo, 10/19/03:

U.S. military commanders have developed a plan to steadily cut back troop levels in Iraq next year, several senior Army officers said in recent interviews.

There are now 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The plan to cut that number is well advanced and has been described in broad outline to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld but has not yet been approved by him. It would begin to draw down forces next spring, cutting the number of troops to fewer than 100,000 by next summer and then to 50,000 by mid-2005, officers involved in the planning said.

The plan, which amounts to being the first formal military exit strategy for Iraq, is designed to show how the U.S. presence might be reduced without undercutting the stability of the country. Military officials worry that if they do not begin cutting the size of the U.S. force, they could damage troop morale, leave the armed forces shorthanded if crises emerge in North Korea and elsewhere, and help create a long-term personnel shortage in the service.


During that period, the U.S. military hopes to turn over as many basic security functions as possible to the Iraqi security forces now being created and to any additional foreign peacekeepers that U.S. diplomacy secures. If the Iraqi security forces can shoulder more of the security burden, it might be possible to replace the departing divisions of about 16,000 troops each with brigades of about 5,000 each.

Over the spring, that changeover would represent a cumulative reduction of more than 30,000 soldiers; along with other cuts, it could lower the U.S. troop level to fewer than 100,000 by mid-2004.

WaPo, 11/17/03:

The Pentagon announced plans yesterday to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq from 132,000 to 105,000 by next May but, in the process, to replace ground troops currently there with fresh contingents of Army soldiers and Marines early next year.

The reduction is envisioned despite a recent surge in guerrilla activity in Iraq. Outlining the plan at a Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed confidence it could be achieved without undermining the stability of the country.

But he also made it clear that the cutback hinges on several key assumptions, including improvement in the security situation in Iraq and the ability of the Iraqi security forces now being assembled to take over responsibility for ensuring law and order.

While the overall number of U.S. troops in Iraq has already declined by about 30,000 since the summer, the new plan represents a major step by the Bush administration toward developing a longer-term exit strategy. If implemented, it could provide a significant political advantage for President Bush in next year's presidential campaign, although Pentagon officials insisted yesterday that politics were not involved in the decision to shrink the force.

Rumsfeld pointed to growth in the number of Iraqi security forces -- which he said now total 118,000 -- as an important factor enabling U.S. troops to relinquish some responsibilities. The Iraqi forces, which include policemen, building guards and several other groups, are projected to reach 221,000 by next autumn.

WaPo, 6/12/04:

Starting July 1, with the transfer of limited sovereignty to Iraqi authorities, military helicopters will switch to flying "friendly approaches" instead of menacing ones, U.S. soldiers will go on patrol only when accompanying Iraqi security forces, and any shooting of U.S. weapons meant to harass or interdict will require higher-level approval than before, military officers here said.

In Mosul, Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, who leads a brigade of armored Stryker vehicles and other forces, said he expected that his troops would assume a much lower profile.

"On July 1, what I want Iraqi people to say is: 'Where are the airplanes? Where are the Strykers?' " Ham said last week. "What they'll see instead will be Iraqi forces."

For U.S. troops in Iraq, the coming political change -- from occupying power to supporting partner -- is supposed to be accompanied by a major shift in military mission and tactics. While legally still authorized under a U.N. resolution to use "all necessary means" to ensure security in Iraq, U.S. commanders say they intend to reduce combat operations, concentrate on training and assisting Iraqi forces, and promote local governance and economic development.

U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledged in interviews and in briefings to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz last week that their plan was sure to be complicated by two main factors.

First, many of the 215,000 members of Iraq's fledgling forces are far from ready to take over much of the security burden. And second, the deadly insurgency that emerged shortly after the U.S.-led invasion last year continues to bring fresh waves of violence, most recently a surge of assassinations and attacks on oil facilities.

WaPo, 12/7/04:

CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar, Dec. 6 -- Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, raised the possibility Monday that U.S. forces in Iraq could start to be reshaped as early as next year to reduce the number of combat troops and concentrate on the development of Iraqi security forces.

Abizaid declined in an interview to set a timetable for the shift, saying it would depend on the outcome of national elections in January and evidence that Iraqi forces could assume a greater share of combat operations against the country's entrenched insurgency. Other senior U.S. officers who elaborated on the plan said the change would not necessarily lead initially to an overall decrease in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq but could eventually facilitate a lower troop level.

Wine Importation

Perhaps the lawyers will disagree, but it seems that the stupidest case coming before the Supreme Court is the wine importation one. The basic question is - was the 21st amendment which explicitly grants states the right to regulate wine importation intended to override the commerce clause which forbids such things.

Well, duhhh, of course it was.

I'm not a fan of such laws, but the constitutional question seems rather clear. The knuckleheads at the WSJ (subscription) say:

If the Supreme Court lets states impose restrictions on wine sales, watch for curbs on other products sold online. A negative ruling could affect all Internet commerce in which a state can express a regulatory concern. Think automobiles or insurance or contact lenses.

Well, no, because there aren't any constitutional amendments specifically granting the states the right regulate the importation of contact lenses.

I live in a state with some of the most annoying liquor laws in the nation, including restrictions on importation, but as a matter of constitutional law this one seems like a no brainer.

But, then, Kenny Boy Starr is making the case, so...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Late Night

Have fun.


Max $1000 Per Year

Oh man, this is going to be a disaster. Watch your grand get eaten up by administrative fees.

But Republicans say the Bush administration favors a plan that would allow workers to voluntarily redirect 4 percent of their payroll taxes up to $1,000 annually to a personal account.


99.8% of FCC complaints come from Brent Bozell's drones.

More DLC

Jeffrey Dubner notes that they're supporting Norm "The Worst Senator In Washington"* Coleman's attempt to delegitimize the UN and blame the entire war on the oil for food scandal.

*Jeff Sessions is a close second, and one of the newly elected members probably will take the title from him.

Icky People

Taibbi on who's behind the campaign to shun the icky people.

Marshall also signed, at the outset of the war, a letter issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) expressing support for the invasion. Marshall signed a similar letter sent to President Bush put out by the conservative Social Democrats/USA group on Feb. 25, 2003, just before the invasion. The SD/USA letter urged Bush to commit to "maintaining substantial U.S. military forces in Iraq for as long as may be required to ensure a stable, representative regime is in place and functioning."

One of just a handful of Marshall's co-signatories on that letter was Bruce Jackson, who also happens to be the head of the PNAC (whose letter Marshall also signed) and the founder of the aforementioned Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Jackson is not only a neo-con of high rank and one of the chief pom-pom wavers for the war effort. He was also a vice president in the weapons division of Lockheed-Martin between 1993 and 2002—meaning that he was one of the implied targets of Bowling for Columbine, which came out in Jackson's last year with the company.

Clearly, Marshall was thinking about the good of the Democratic Party, and not the integrity of his grimy little network of missile-humping cronies, when he and Al From made the curious—and curiously conspicuous—decision to denounce Moore, Hollywood and France at the DLC meeting in early November.

There were a number of things that were strange about the release of this obviously coordinated series of sound bites from the DLC heavies.

For one thing, people like Al From, Donna Brazile and DLC president Bruce Reed—event speakers who are all high-level political heavyweights whose instinct for spontaneity died with their souls 100 years ago, and would never say anything without first calculating its potential impact—would seem to gain very little by mentioning Moore's name at all in the conference.

To say openly in front of a roomful of reporters that the party has to disavow Michael Moore is to remind a roomful of reporters that the Democratic party is still currently linked to Michael Moore. This would be like George Bush Sr. using the word "wimp" in public, or John Kerry using the word "effete" or "snob." No alert political operative would recommend it, under normal circumstances.

Furthermore, as both Marshall and From surely know, there was no effort whatsoever even this time around by the Democratic Party to associate itself with Michael Moore. Excepting the brief and mostly unrequited love affair between Moore and Wes Clark, most of the party candidates recoiled from the fat director as from a diseased thing throughout the entire campaign season. They've already kept him at arm's length—why talk about the need to do it again? Why bring him up at all?

Well, that's easy. It's one thing to avoid public appearances with a Michael Moore, and to accept his support only tacitly. But it's another thing entirely to openly denounce him as anti-American, which is what Al From did last week.

What From, Marshall and the other DLC speakers were doing last week was not just ruminating out loud about the need to shy away from certain demonized liberal icons. They were, instead, announcing their willingness to embrace the other side's tactic—I hate to lean on this overused word, but it is a McCarthyite tactic—of branding certain individuals as traitors and anti-Americans. What they were doing was sending up a trial balloon, to see if anyone noticed this chilling affirmative shift in strategy and tactics.


Drum says:

Needless to say, the issue at hand is expeditionary military force, not some weird strawman about Koreans invading LA. And evading the issue by constantly implying that no one who supported the Iraq war is morally qualified to criticize those who opposed it doesn't really help matters.

This is a conversation we liberals need to have. But if we don't engage in it honestly it doesn't do any good.

It was not a "weird strawman" it was an attempt to illustrate with an over the top example that the charge that people are always against "military power" implies they would be against it even when our security was directly threatened. Whether the force is "expeditionary" or not, the point still stands. The implication was that anyone who opposed the Afghanistan war did so because they placed other concerns above our national security, something which just isn't true. It was possible (if wrong) to oppose the Afghanistan War, precisely because of a belief that it would jeapordize our national security.

As for being against "expeditionary military force" being used for purposes not directly tied to defending the country, I have no idea why that's a political problem. I'm not an isolationist, and nor are most Democratic elected officials, but frankly this country does have a pretty deep isolationist streak - mostly on the Right - which makes any other kind of use of expeditionary force rather difficult.

Things That Drive Me Crazy

Site most likely to crash my internet explorer: MSNBC.

Mac people: shut up.

Firefox people: yes, I use it too.


Aaron Brown:

BROWN: There is an important and explicit bargain between the press and the Pentagon in a time of war. We don't do anything to endanger the troops or operations. They don't lie to us.

Each is essential in a free society and each is made more complicated by the information age but it seems that sometimes in an effort to mislead the enemy the military has come close, very close, to crossing the line and misleading you, so again, from the Pentagon, CNN's Barbara Starr.

Donald Rumsfeld:

But the idea that government needs, for whatever reason, to actually actively tell something that's not true to the American people or the press, I just haven't.


It was also a distorted and incomplete narrative, according to dozens of internal Army documents obtained by The Washington Post that describe Tillman's death by fratricide after a chain of botched communications, a misguided order to divide his platoon over the objection of its leader and undisciplined firing by fellow Rangers.

The Army's public release made no mention of friendly fire, even though at the time it was issued, investigators in Afghanistan had already taken at least 14 sworn statements from Tillman's platoon members that made clear the true causes of his death. The statements included a searing account from the Ranger nearest Tillman during the firefight, who quoted him as shouting "Cease fire! Friendlies!" with his last breaths....

But the Army's published account not only withheld all evidence of fratricide, but also exaggerated Tillman's role and stripped his actions of their context. Tillman was not one of the senior commanders on the scene -- he directed only himself, one other Ranger and an Afghan militiaman, under supervision from others. And witness statements in the Army's files at the time of the news release describe Tillman's voice ringing out on the battlefield mainly in a desperate effort, joined by other Rangers on his ridge, to warn comrades to stop shooting at their own men.

The Army's April 30 news release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman's death, according to internal records and interviews.

Democracy Comes to Pakistan

Who knew?


Yglesias says:

It probably paints with too broad a brush to say that every opponent of the Afghan War is a pacifist or someone who thinks that the whole thing was motivated by some nefarious natural-gas pipeline scheme, but the pacifists and the tinfoil hatters are very much real people, and liberals need to recognize that when these people become the public face of progressive politics -- as Michael Moore did around the release of Fahrenheit 9/11 -- that conservatives are the ones who reap the benefits.

For sake of discussion, let's stipulate that every thing in this excerpt is correct. But, if you have a problem with Michael Moore being the public face of progressive politics, you have a couple of choices. You can spend all your time wringing your hands about it, demanding that all good people can renounce him, thereby alienating him and his supporters. Or, you can realize that there's an extraordinarily lack of leadership in the sphere of progressive politics, especially within the Democratic party itself, and understand that without that vacuum someone like Moore (or Nader) would have a much harder time thriving. So, you can put forward a less tinfoil hat-prone more credible alternative, or you can call on people to condemn Moore. And then call on them to condemn everyone who hasn't condemned Moore. And then call on them to condemn everyone who haven't condemned the people who haven't condemned the people who haven't condemned Moore. And, then, hey, it's 2006 and oh shit we lost again and Karl Rove is still laughing.

If we truly believe the reason we can't win elections is because of an overabundance of lefty asshatery because the Democratic party gets held accountable for everything anyone to the left of Tom DeLay says, from Michael Moore on down to the perennial favorite "some guy with a sign somewhere," then we really have a problem - the problem is that we've failed to play the same game against the Republicans. The Right is filled with asshatery of such epic proportions. It's our failure to exploit that which is the problem.

Who has crazier "conspiracy theories" -- Moore or Laurie "Saddam stole my car keys" Mylroie? Which one has the ear of people who run our foreign policy?

And, since we're still talking about opposition to the war in Afghanistan, we shouldn't forget one prominent opponent:

Donald Rumsfeld.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Dow 36,000 returns.

(Via pandagon)

One More Thing

The fact that three years later there's still this desire to attack people who were less than enthusiastic about going into Afghanistan, despite the fact that one has to reach pretty deep to find them, simply serves as a warning for anyone who would disagree with any war any time. Even if we stipulate that going to Afghanistan was the right course of action, by essentially branding all those who disagreed at the time as america-haters (and, yes, arguing that such people would "never" support the use of military force, including presumably as the North Korean tanks are rolling through Los Angeles, is doing just that) provides a very loud warning for anyone who would ever dare disagree with a proposed war. For some reason it's only okay to be wrong about a war if you supported it.

Kevin Drum, piggybacking on Peter Beinart, says:

If the Taliban's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden after 9/11 wasn't enough to justify military action, I'm not sure what is — and I think it's fair to say that anyone who loudly opposed the Afghanistan war is just flatly opposed to any use of American military power at all.

That's ridiculous. The issue with that war and any other war isn't simply whether it's "justifiable." And opposition to George Bush's War in Afghanistan does not imply that someone was "flatly opposed to any use of American military power at all."

Obviously 9/11 required some response. Our sandbox logic told us that response would have to be a military one. Symbolic revenge and all. We had to go blow some shit up. But, that doesn't mean there weren't other possible better ways to deal with the problem.

Am I arguing that on balance I think the Afghanistan war was "wrong?" Honestly, I don't even know enough to answer that question. I supported it at the time, even though I had justifiable misgivings about the details, but the question isn't whether it was "justified" in some simplistic sense- it's whether we achieved desirable and necessary aims at a minimum of cost which couldn't otherwise be achieved.

This New Republican desire to marginalize the peaceniks is simply the identical logic and rhetoric which led them to be marginalized during the march to Iraq. We see how well that worked out. The peaceniks weren't necessarily right on Afghanistan, and while I was an Iraq peacenik it wasn't necessarily the case at the time that I was right. However, in both cases the country would have been better served if we'd had a wider and more comprehensive debate on the goals, wisdom, purpose, methods, and post-conflict planning than we did.

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan was in fact a legitimate position, even if it was the wrong position, and could have been an honest position by people who weren't simply knee-jerk anti-war, or america-haters, or people who, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, thought we got what we deserved on 9/11, or anything else. People may have thought there were better ways to punish those responsible and to combat terrorism, whether or not they were correct.

The consequence of marginalizing all such sentiments, or reducing them to caricatures, is that we never have a decent conversation about what we're doing. Acknowledging that there are almost always other options than war is one way to ensure that we understand more fully the consequences of those wars. War should be the last option, not the first one, almost no matter what. I don't say this because I'm a peacenik, but because war is fucking expensive in blood and treasure and has a lot of unintended consequences.

In Iraq, the debate was reduced to "either you want a homocidal dictator to have weapons of mass destruction or you don't." In Afghanistan it was reduced to "either you support the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 or you don't." Whether or not either war was the correct course of action, the marginalization of more nuanced opinions did our country and the people of their countries a great disservice.

Was there a better way to deal with Afghanistan? I don't know, but we would have been well-served, not ill-served, had we had that conversation.

Final thought: who should be considered more worthy of marginalization? Those who cautioned against a just war, or those who supported an unjust and increasingly catastrophic one. Whatever the ultimate outcome of our Afghanistan conflict (which, by the way, is still going on), I submit it's quite likely a decision to not go to war there would have had far fewer negative consequences than our decision to go to war in Iraq.

...additional troll repellent: The point is that the right question is not "did 9/11 justify war" the right question is "was the way the Bush administration went to war, and all of its consequences, better than the next best option." Unless we have a conversation about the next best option before the fact, and an honest accounting of the consequences after the fact, we can never actually know that. "Taliban bad, al Qaeda bad, therefore the only possibile course of action is the Bush/Rumsfeld battle plan" is rather stupid thinking.


Seeing the Forest takes a look at the New York Times's "balanced" view of yet another bogus school controversy cooked up by the religious right.

Eriposte actually does some real journalism and takes a look a the materials in question, discovering that some of them are actually bogus. Great.


I didn't watch MTP, but I did read the transcript and I thought Reid did some pretty skillfull things. He correctly called Social Security "privatization" a Wall Street giveaway designed to destroy the system, he said Clarence Thomas was an embarassment, and he likened Republican tax proposals to a (gasp!) Yurpean system of taxation. Not so bad.

Stoller has more.


Turning Fallujah into a massive forced labor camp? Oh Jeebus...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Evening Thread


Before it Began


22. Question: Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power if you knew that — -

A. There would be 100 U.S. casualties.


B. 1000 casualties


C. 5000 casualties


Somewhere in the Middle...

BROWN: A parallel to all of this, an Iraqi police station was attacked today. Ken, do you think that if you're the police chief anointed by the Americans, do you feel safer today because of the events? Because you've certainly been a target up to this point.

POLLACK: Well, I think that if you are that police chief, you're probably hoping that you're safer afterwards.

As you point out, one of the other big problems out there for so many Iraqis have been the attacks by those who oppose the U.S. presence. They are trying deliberately to go after any Iraqi who cooperates with the reconstruction, because they don't want to see it succeed.

And I think that those who have been cooperating are probably hoping that Saddam's death will cause at least a decrease, that many of Saddam's followers will give up the fight. They'll go home. They'll lose heart. Maybe they'll just lose the paycheck that has been causing them to keep up these attacks.

And that might make it easier for these very brave Iraqis who are standing up for the reconstruction to actually do the jobs they all want to do.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The capture of Saddam has not made America safer.

CROWLEY: "That statement," responded Senator Joe Lieberman, "says to me that Howard Dean has climbed into his own spider hole of denial."


ZAHN: Ramesh, yes or no? Are we safe? I can only give you time for a one-word answer here.

PONNURU: I believe we are safer and we're going to become safer as long as we don't listen to all of this left-wing rhetoric and continue to prosecute the war on terror.


ZAHN (voice-over): This is the face. This is the face of fear. This is the face of hate. This is the face of the dictator who instilled terror in millions of his people during his 24 brutal years in power. The murderer who presided over the genocide of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen. The tyrant who invaded Kuwait in 1991, leading the world down a winding and often deadly path.

It was then that Hussein's bold actions first put our military in harm's way. The swiftness of that war often makes us forget that 382 American troops died on that battleground.

After 12 more years of defiance and deception, it was Saddam Hussein who, in the words of the president, chose confrontation. It was Saddam Hussein's provocations that caused more that 100,000 United States soldiers to be put in harm's way again. And harmed they certainly were, in the deadliest American conflict since Vietnam -- 456 Americans mortally wounded, some as young as 18. Men and women, from big cities and small towns all across the nation, all dead because Saddam Hussein wouldn't relinquish power.

Then, finally a ray of hope on what George W. Bush called a hopeful day. But the pressing question remains. The families and loved ones of American troops and of course the troops themselves want to know, will this ruthless dictator's capture mean America's men and women in uniform will be safer? Is indeed the world itself a safer place? We can only hope.


CARVILLE: That Saddam Hussein be brought to justice by the Iraqi people, I don't know how anybody could argue with that. And obviously we'll find out more.

Tell us, and this is a day that -- tell us how the world is safer from terrorism now that Osama bin Laden is in jail and not a cave.

BLUNT: Well certainly James, the people in Iraq are safer than they were before.



DAN BARTLETT, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, Wolf, you know that the presidential politics will take its own course. The Democratic primary is spirited right now. There are many candidates saying a lot of things. There's a real battle going on for the heart and soul of the Democratic party. Many of the candidates all having conflicting views on what the direction is for their party. That will play out in its course. President Bush, of course, is focused on the nation's priorities and the nation's priority to make America safer, to make our country more prosperous and to make it a better country. And the steps taken in the war in Iraq and the steps taken by our U.S. troops in Iraq, particularly with the capture of Saddam Hussein has made America much safer.

BLITZER: Tell us how America is safer now that Saddam Hussein has been captured and is being interrogated by U.S. authorities as opposed to when he was simply on the run?

BARTLETT: Well, Wolf, I think it is important to take a step back. The fact of the matter is, Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator with weapons of mass destruction, used them against his own country, used them as he invaded another country. He was a threat to the world. He was a threat to the American people. He was a threat to his own people. And the fact that this chapter in Iraqi history is now closed is an important step forward because now, more so than ever, the Iraqi people can realize the future of their own country, which is going to be free and prosperous, which is a security interest of the United States and the entire world.


LIEBERMAN: When you are a great nation, when you presume to want to be president of the greatest nation in the world, you can't deal with one problem at one time. Five years ago, in 1998, John McCain and I introduced the Iraq Liberation Act, because we reached a judgment. Saddam Hussein was a ticking time bomb that would go off and kill a lot of Americans until we stopped him, and that law called for a change of regime in Baghdad. The man was a brutal dictator. He supported terrorism. He hated the United States of America.

Of course, we're safer with him gone. Our soldiers are certainly safer, because he was encouraging the insurgency that's going on and keeping so many of the Iraqis in fear. The world is safer any time a tyrant and mass murderer like this, hater of the United States, is captured. That's self-evident.


WALLACE: General, it's been alleged that, even after the capture of Saddam Hussein, that it did not make Americans any safer and, in fact, that this country is not any safer than it was on 9/11. What do you think of that?

MYERS: Well, I disagree with that. I think, certainly, for those Americans, for those Iraqis, as a matter of fact, inside Iraq, it makes them a lot safer.

We have seen an increase in the number of Iraqis coming forward to provide intelligence. Just like when his two sons were killed, we saw a large increase in the number of Iraqis willing to come forward, probably because they were not afraid anymore, to come forward and report on former regime elements that were trying to do either Iraqis or the coalition harm.

We're seeing that same surge again, and I think it's a realization that this Baath Party and all its remnants are never coming back to power in Iraq. There's going to be a new Iraq. It's going to be based on democratic principles. And so, I discount that.

I also think...


JIM LEHRER: What about the specific, his specific comment that drew a lot of heat from his fellow Democrats, which was that he did not believe the country was safer, our country was safer because Saddam Hussein was captured?

DAVID BROOKS: This guy could take jingle bells and turn it into a war song. He is bound to offend people with anything he said.



That Liberal Media

Laramie vs. 20/20.

Your GOP


The appointment to the state Board of Education of a high-ranking member of a Confederate heritage group who once sold anti-Semitic books is causing an uproar with civil rights groups and education officials.

Ron Wilson, a former commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was selected by a 4-3 vote of the Anderson County delegation to the General Assembly.

“This should send chills down the spine of all South Carolinians,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks racist groups.

Wilson, who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate this year, declined comment when reached at his home in Easley.

Wilson once sold textbooks to parents who home-school their children. The books included “Barbarians Inside the Gates,” which touted a discredited theory that Jews are working toward world domination.

He praised the book — which the SPLC called “a viciously anti-Semitic tome” — on his personal Web site.

What a shitty reporter, that was almost comical -- "a discredited theory that Jews are working toward world domination."

From the SPLC:

Hijacking Heritage
Ron G. Wilson, 56 | EASELY, S.C.

When Ronnie Wilson was elected commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in August 2002, his politics were largely unknown both inside and outside the 32,000-member heritage group.

Within months, however, it was clear that Wilson was an extremist. Working closely with white supremacist ally (and failed SCV leadership candidate) Kirk Lyons, Wilson has appointed racists and anti-Semites to key posts, purged some 300 SCV members and leaders who opposed racism, and worked to turn the SCV into an actively neo-Confederate organization.

But it turns out there is more to Wilson's history than the last year has revealed. He is the author of five essays about the evils of communism (one praising the legacy of disgraced Sen. Joseph McCarthy) published in the tabloid of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens* (CCC). He spoke at a 1997 CCC meeting that also featured long-time white nationalist Sam Francis (see 'The Stupid Party').

He hosted a late 1990s right-wing talk show, "Hour of Courage," on WWCR, a shortwave station. In the same period, he led the South Carolina Heritage Coalition, a group whose vice chairman was Jerry Creech, state director for the CCC (an outfit that has more recently called blacks "a retrograde species of humanity").

At the same time, Wilson runs a business called Atlantic Bullion and Coin Inc. But that's not all. Until he pulled down its Web site last year, he also operated from his Easley home a firm he called International Commerce Corp., "specializing in books & videos for the family & home schoolers."

One book his company sold, Barbarians Inside the Gates by 1960s Defense Department official Donn de Grand Pré, is a viciously anti-Semitic tome that approvingly quotes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous Czarist forgery that purports to reveal a Jewish plot to take over the world.

The squib advertising the book on Wilson's Web site included these words: "The author reveals concealed codes and goals that might be extracted from the Protocols of Zion. Once again our publisher asks 'can you handle the truth??' ... I thought long and hard about handling this book. [But] I will not back away from the truth in this book. You MUST READ THIS BOOK for yourself."

With a political lineage like that, it's no surprise that Wilson grew close to Lyons, a long-time racist attorney, in the late 1990s. Today, Wilson is on the board of Lyons' non-profit law firm, the Southern Legal Resource Center, while his daughter, Alison Shaum, works there.

Among many similar actions inside the SCV, Wilson recently named Allen Sullivant, who created the racist Web site, the group's "chief of heritage defense." Now, although he was temporarily stymied in votes taken at the SCV's national conference in late July (see Unfinished Business), Wilson is working hard to solidify the extremist takeover of the SCV.


Make sure to listen to this week's This American Life on the air or online when it hits the web. Fascinating and disturbing story about the island of Nauru. can listen here.

Family Values


Bernard Kerik, the man tasked with protecting the United States from the threat of terrorist attacks, fathered a daughter with a South Korean woman while serving on the peninsula in the mid-1970s, U.S. media reported over the weekend.

Kerik, who was selected to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of the Homeland Security Department on Thursday, had the baby with a woman identified as Sun-ja after arriving in South Korea as a 19-year-old military policeman in December 1974, according to several reports.

The baby, named Lisa, was born in 1975. But Kerik deserted her and her mother when he left the country in February 1976.


I've been mulling this one over all weekend, I have no fucking idea what was going through Tommy Thompson's mind when he said this:

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.

Louisiana Congressional Races

Well, we won one and lost one. Just traded seats, so it's a wash.

I Remember When It All Began...

RICHARD ENGEL: Yes, well just as soon as we got off the, off air, it just, wow, the whole sky just lit up, is lighting up in front of me. Right on the other side of the water, I guess these are presidential sites. Basically the entire western side of the, of the, of the river is now, is now smoking. There's another blaze of fire that you'll hear. There it is. That will give you the intensity, an idea of how close, unfortunately, this is right now. All the tall buildings, these main government buildings that are on the other side of the river are now on fire. The, this is, this is like nothing we've seen before. This is, this is, this is shocking. And this is awe inspiring.


BROWN: Wow, look at that shot.


SHEPPERD: I tell you, one of the most encouraging things I find is the ability of the flexibility of the planners in this military engagement. The Shock and Awe campaign has been postponed, for now. The reason is, obviously, that the purpose of this is not to kill people. But the purpose of it is to separate the leadership and have the army surrender. And that's what's taken place. So I think the U.S. military, the intelligence forces are listening to see has the leadership been decapitated? Is it still communicating? And how can they further deny the capability of the Iraqis to command and control forces and then, separate the forces and get them to surrender. This is a very, very encouraging development. I'm very glad to see that Shock and Awe is not necessary, right now, but the Iraqis must know that the United States forces can turn it loose, if necessary, because, as the saying goes, they ain't seen nothing yet.

HEMMER: Wow. In television, we call it adlibbing. Apparently, the military might be doing a little bit of that, right now, too.


DAVID CHATER reporting:

Just huge amounts of--huge amount of fire, getting much, much closer. All the air defenses are opening up all around me at the moment, all around me. As to the--as to the west, there are surface-to-air missiles arcing upwards (unintelligible) a large explosion--a large explosion. Huge--wow. Very close to us. We've got to watch the--the windows here. I hope you can--I hope you can still hear me. I'm trying to maintain contact with you. A large billow of smoke, another large flash of explosions to the west of the city. Four or five huge billows of smoke, a massive shock blast just coming through our windows. I'm going to have to take cover.

There are--there are fires burning in a huge arc right in front of me. Very fierce explosions, not just cruise missiles; I'd say they were bombs, as well, at least 30 strikes, very, very fierce attack at the moment. And the attack is continuing on all sectors, on all fronts around the center of the city. This is the beginning of shock and awe. It was a--a dreadful sight. It was very close to us. It's still going on. There's still bursts in the distance. It's now pretty much moving from the south and the west into the center of the city. There's a huge amount of percussions, large explosions, a pall of smoke hanging all around the city at the moment, a lot of fires burning. An extraordinary scene at the moment--there's another fire--watch out, watch out. Oh, OK. Let's--those are very large bombs. Those must be the thousand-pounders, I would have thought. I think the citizens now of Baghdad know exactly what the Pentagon means by shock and awe.



(Off Camera) Oh, oh, look, look, stop, stop, let's take a look. Wow.



(Voice Over) In Baghdad, the words for today were "shock and awe." Words validated by the sights and sounds that reached all who watched on television. Words whose truth could best be felt if you were there. Reporter Richard Engel was.


(Voice Over) Wow, the whole sky just lit up. It's lighting up in front of me. This is like nothing we've seen before. This is, this is shocking. There it is. That will give you an idea of how close, unfortunately, this is right now.


Kyra Phillips is on board this aircraft carrier with its crew of 5,700, planes dropping bombs and firing off missiles, based up there in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with about 5,700 men and women on board, as we said, CNN's Kyra Phillips is embedded with that unit, and she has filed for us today.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are welcome to Shock and Awe from the U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln." Let's take a look at these pictures from not long ago when the first strikes began. Now, pilots tell me they were fired upon constantly. A number of threats in the air that they faced. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), surface-to-air missiles, old Soviet MIGs, also lots of triple-A fire.


COLLINS: Thank you, Aaron. I'm Heidi Collins at CNN Center, and here now are the latest developments at this hour.

The Pentagon is reporting 10 injuries, some of them very serious, after a grenade attack behind the U.S. front lines. At least two people were spotted running off after grenades were tossed into two tents of the 101st Airborne at Camp Pennsylvania in Northern Kuwait. It is believed to have been an attempt on the life of the camp commander.

Iraq says 200 civilians have been injured in the American and British bombardment of Baghdad. President Bush has accused the Iraqis of putting civilians in harm's way. The Pentagon says every single one of more than 1,000 bombs that fell during the bombing campaign was precision guided. That is a first in military history.


HANNAH STORM, co-host:

We want to show you some scenes from the shock and awe operation which began last night as missiles rained down on Baghdad in the heaviest bombardment of the war. Today, people there began the task of assessing the massive damage to their city.

Hot Econ on Econ Action

Um, Brad... the problem here isn't just the ignorance of WaPo reporter Weisman, it's also the bullshit of economist Mankiw. While he is a Bush admin flunky for a few more days, his day job is as one of your colleagues in academia. Criticize Weisman for not calling him on his bullshit, but make sure to criticize Mankiw for the bullshit in question.