Sunday, August 31, 2003

George Will embarrasses himself again

George Will amazes me. Really. My hat’s off to the preppy bastard. Even after it’s been proven repeatedly that he’s both intellectually dishonest and horribly partisan, he seems to hang on to an inexplicable aura of respectability. Maybe it’s the glasses. Maybe it’s Dutch Boy brand Teflon Aura (TM). Who knows?

All I do know is that we need to figure it out, even if it takes a government grant and men in white lab coats poking him with sharp sticks for 19 hours a day.

Scratch that. I mean to say especially if it takes a government grant, etc. The grant money would hurt him as much as the sharp sticks.

Today’s column, if this were a just and honest world, would shatter his aura finally. Unfortunately, in Tom Delay’s America, the best we can hope to do is to ridicule him just a little bit and hope someone takes notice.

You see, today Will goes after Wesley Clark. He’s really ticked, too. Why, you ask? Is it because the hints Clark has given about future policy stances are unsound? Does the general have some deep, dark secret hiding in his past? Nope. Will doesn’t like Wes because Wes isn’t Dwight.

Comparisons of Clark to Dwight Eisenhower are ludicrous. Eisenhower, as well-prepared as any president for the challenges of his era, had spent three years immersed in the political complexities of coalition warfare, dealing with Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, de Gaulle and others. Clark's claim to presidential stature derives from directing NATO's 78 days of war at 15,000 feet over Serbia. It was the liberals' dream war: tenuously related to U.S. security, with an overriding aim, to which much was sacrificed, to have zero U.S. fatalities.

Let it sink in. Take a deep breath. I’ll wait.

OK. Now let me show you what a prick George F. Will is.

It’s true that Eisenhower’s task was a daunting one. All the countries involved had their own issues to deal with and Ike, my fellow Kansan, got them all together to fight evil. He did this, of course, with the help of Roosevelt and Gen. George C. Marshall, who were instrumental and not, as Will seems to suggest, just a couple more bees in Ike’s over-laden bonnet. Of course, Will doesn’t want to give any credit to a Democrat or his General, so he forgets that Eisenhower himself said he could never have achieved the things he did without their help and support. I recommend that Will pick up a little book called Crusade in Europe that Eisenhower wrote and find out for himself how much credit he gave to those two men.

But, again, Eisenhower was the man on the ground and got all the soldiers’ heads turned in the right direction. However, he had one major, oft-overlooked ally in his efforts: Hitler. Yes, at the end of the day, no matter what their petty political squabbles entailed, everyone commanded by Eisenhower knew that somewhere off to the east was a dangerous, scary motherfucker who had no qualms about destroying everything in his path. As hanging is said to focus the mind, so does a great evil focus the intentions of nations.

Wesley Clark, on the other hand, had no such evil to keep necks from swiveling on their pivots. He, also for three years, was immersed in a much less black-and-white world of international and military politics. He succeeded admirably.

Will’s apparent complaint that Clarks’s war was too short is ridiculous, as is the idea that a war in Europe -- in the Balkans, no less -- is only “tenuously” connected to our security. Also, Will is just livid that no Americans were killed. That’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow from a man who skipped out on Vietnam with a graduate school deferment and then complained to Naval Academy students that Americans are just too squeamish about the military’s violent nature. (He then left that speech and bought himself a new pair of short pants and big, shiny lollipop.)

Also, George should note, Clark wrote a book you may have heard of, Waging Modern War (does reading books by generals make Will feel inadequate?), which tells how he would’ve run that war quite differently, but was impeded by politicians, most importantly by a man Will agreed with in the last war, Prime Minister Tony Blair.

After saying that Clark isn’t the reincarnation of a dead president, he moves on to the new meme that conservatives are trying to spread about Clark: He’s a liar, just like Gore was a liar (even though neither Clark nor Gore are liars). Here’s George:

As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him ("I expect to have my decision made by Sept. 19," when he visits Iowa -- feel the suspense), he compounds the confusion that began when he said on June 15 that on 9/11 "I got a call at my home" saying that when he was to appear on CNN, "You've got to say this is connected" to Iraq. "It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over." But who exactly called Clark?

July 1: "A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank." There is no such Canadian institution. Anyway, who "from the White House"? "I'm not going to go into those sources. . . . People told me things in confidence that I don't have any right to betray."

First, Clark never said the man was part of a Canadian Middle Eastern think tank, but that the “fellow” was Canadian and is part of a Middle Eastern think tank. Therefore, whether or not such a “Canadian institution" exists is irrelevant. Also, for a man who has spent the last three years kissing the ass of the most secretive administration since Nixon’s, George sure does get his feathers ruffled easily when someone doesn’t want to betray a confidence and tell him everything he wants to know. George F. Will: dishonest and/or stupid.

Aug. 25: It came from "a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who's the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium. He's very well connected to Israeli intelligence. . . . I haven't changed my position. There's no waffling on it. It's just as clear as could be."

Wow. George got him there. Now he really is making up that “Canadian institution” that he wasn’t making up in the first place. Damn. I guess I’ll just have to find someone else to vote for.

Or I would, if there wasn’t the B’Nai Brith Canada Institute for International Affairs, which says on its website that its job, in part, is to "better inform Canadians about Middle East developments" and calls itself "a distinguished think tank." I have no idea if this is the group in question. All I'm saying is that there's at least one group that's a) Canadian, b) a think tank and c) deals with Middle East issues. And, there's the Inter-University Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, which seems Canadian-think-tankesque and, you know has "Middle Eastern" right there in its fucking name! Now, I know that Will couldn't possibly be held responsible for knowing these two organizations exist. It's difficult to find these sorts of things out. I, for example, had to type five words into Google and search for almost three minutes. Those words? You guessed it: Canadian Middle East "Think Tank." How could Little Lord Fauntleroy ever have sweated that one out?

So George Will's full of shit (and so is The Weekly Standard). If you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention.

P.S. If you skipped the link to Will's speech at the Naval Academy, go back up and read it now. Pay special attention to the parts where he bemoans the number of veterans serving in government. What better way to increase that number than to give our youngsters a shining example, I say.

Update: I have no way of knowing if these are the only two such organizations, but I do know that neither does George Will.

Update: More at the Clark Sphere.

Update: More at BusyBusyBusy.

Friday, August 29, 2003

When the boys come out to play, Bill O'Reilly runs away.

Bill O'Reilly was bitching about the internet again tonight, saying at one point that he was just tired of people picking on him. Shouldn't there be some limits? he practically moaned.

Apparently, Pittsburgh columnist Tony Norman was right when he guessed that O'Reilly is probably "vain enough to read every word ever written about him." Let's hope so, cause I've got something to say to him.

It seems that O'Reilly hates it when he invites people on to the show and they don't come -- even if that person just happened to be out of town for a few days. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth mention again that O'Reilly once called Michael Kinsley a coward for not showing up. Kinsley was on vacation. He also mentioned last night that, shucks, people, he invites Democrats on his show all the time, but a lot of them just won't show up. As Conason has said, O'Reilly refuses to meet with him in any venue. Also, I'll bet Al Franken would love to go on the show (and deliver a nice fruitbasket as thanks for all the free publicity).

But those are the big boys and, well, knowing little Bill the way we do, we know he's not up to that kind of a challenge. Odd, because the thing that seems to bother O'Reilly about us internet types is that we attack semi-anonymously and, he seems to say, there's just nothing you can do about people who "hide behind the First Amendment."

Therefore, I volunteer to appear on Bill O'Reilly's show. I will gladly represent the bloggers who have been "attacking" him "viciously" on the internet, as I have repeatedly called him a serial liar, a pinhead and maybe some other things in the numerous posts I've written about what a jackass he is.

(In fact, let me pause to say again here: Bill O'Reilly is a serial liar.)

Come on, Bill, look at me. I'm fresh meat. I've never been on national television and maybe I would find your studio so bright and frightening that you could just have your verbal way with me. You could call me names and, as bullies who can't stand alone do, could scream for your buddies to cut my mike if you start to look bad. I'm nobody. Just a little speck who called the "rich and powerful" O'Reilly names. I wear little, thin-framed glasses that your audience would just see as oh-so-liberal-and-nerdy. I don't even have a book coming out, so I can't benefit from the exposure in any way -- in fact, being a Kansas boy, an appearance on your show would probably lead to busted windows and nasty phone calls. I'm the perfect target. Come on. Come on. Come on.

Hell, Bill, maybe I'm a little scary still. I really did grow up in a blue-collar household. My dad was a welder and all the Welch boys served in the military (starting with an ancestor who fought in the War for Independence, alongside Washington, right up in your neck of the woods). Maybe I'm too threatening, even when you have the advantage of controlling the environment. So here's what I'll do: I'll just point others who are willing to represent the wicked denizens of blogtopia in your direction. I'll ask them to send you an e-mail with the subject "O'Reilly: I Volunteer to Appear." It'll be up to them as to what they'll say and, who knows, maybe you'll pick a stupid one and get to look like a hero of the people.

The thing is, O'Reilly, you bitch about us attacking you, so let us explain ourselves. If you don't, you're the worst kind of man: A powerful coward.

Update:Tom's in. And Barney's in. And Chris's in.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Around the Neighborhood

First, TBogg's back! Go read everything.

Pay special attention to the snippet from from Austin Bay's new novel, the aptly titled, The Wrong Side of Brightness. For my money, this sentence tells me more than I need to know about this book (and convinces me a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia really isn't all that you might think it would be):

The atrocities: our euphoria preceded the atrocities.

The man's the next Hemingway.

And Dwight Meredith drags a less prominent Republican bullshit artist out into the light.

And Kos is back (without his luggage) and he's pissed about Bush's war.

And Atrios points us to an L.A. Times story, in which U.S. intelligence officers try to convince us that Saddam intentionally made us believe he had weapons, even though he didn't.

And the above story is pissing Tom Spencer of royally (and justifiably).

And There's a chart up at uggabugga which lays out the history of Bush's "compassion."
O'Reilly admits he filed frivolous lawsuit

Roger Ailes points out that Bill O'Reilly's most recent bout with logorrhea, during which he admitted that he and Fox didn't have a case, leaves him open for all kinds of legal action. Kudos to Rog. I read the article and missed that entirely. Franken probably has too much class to file a countersuit along these lines, but some of these sanctions can be initiated by the judge who caught the case, too. Considering the spanking he gave them in court, Judge Denny Chin might do just that when he wakes up and sees that O'Reilly admits he was wasting the court's time.

And, lest we forget, let's recall a choice moment that O'Reilly should have remembered, because it happened on his show. He was talking with Fox's legal mouth, former judge Andrew Napolitano about Gary Condit's lawsuit against Dominick Dunne for slander when this exchange occurred:

O'REILLY: Now Condit's got to know this. Condit -- he's got to know this. I know this. I'm not a lawyer. You just said it. Doesn't he know that he's going to be dragged through -- and every reporter's going to get a copy of that deposition?

NAPOLITANO: You know, I -- I don't know why his lawyers didn't advise him that you are digging yourself a much deeper hole than Dominick Dunne could ever have done for you. He's...

O'REILLY: People don't even remember that.

NAPOLITANO: Correct, correct. That's another problem in cases like this.

O'REILLY: Yes, they don't even remember Dominick Dunne.

NAPOLITANO: Right. You regenerate the bad publicity against you about which you're complaining. (O'Reilly Factor. December 12, 2002)

Also, when barbers sued Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for criticizing the movie Barbershop, O'Reilly said:

A group representing 50,000 barbers across the country has filed a lawsuit against them for criticizing the movie "Barbershop." This is dopey, ridiculous, and un-American. Jackson and Sharpton have the freedom to criticize anything they want, and foolish lawsuits like that one should not be allowed. (October 31, 2002)

Apparently, even O'Reilly doesn't take what O'Reilly says seriously.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Washington Post cleans up Arnold's act

First, let's check in with the Associated Press Stylebook (mine's from 2001, but I'm pretty sure it's the same), the Bible of journalistic style:

quotations in the news

Never alter quotations even to correct minor grammatical errors or word usage. Casual minor tongue slips may be removed by using ellipses but even that should be done with extreme caution. If there is a question about a quote, either don't use it or ask the speaker to clarify

If a person is unavailable for comment, detail attempts to reach that person...

In general, avoid fragmentary quotes. If a speaker's words are clear and concise, favor the full quote. (Pages 209-210)

Now let's flip over to The Washington Post, where we find out that Arnold Schwarzenegger called in to the "Sean Hannity Show" and answered a few questions, finally laying down where he stood on some issues, including gay marriage:

On gay marriage, Schwarzenegger said: "I do support domestic partnerships." But he said he is against state-sanctioned unions for gays and lesbians. "Marriage should be between a man and woman," he said.

Unfortunately, Post staff writer William Booth isn't telling you the truth. Sure, it's a small change and, if he had used ellipses or indicated in some manner that it wasn't the whole quote, I wouldn't give a damn. Instead, Booth cleaned up Schwarzenegger's words to make him sound a lot more thoughtful than he really sounded:

HANNITY: Do you support, uh, gay marriage?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I do support, uh, domestic partnership.

HANNITY: But not gay marriage.

SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman. (Italics Nitpicker's. Hear it at Hoffmania!, via Atrios.)

So Booth cleaned up Arnie's words without letting you know he did it. Please do your part to let The Washington Post know that we see what they're doing. E-mail their much ballyhooed ombudsman, who's been gone all damn month, and remind him what the AP says about altering quotes.

Update: No, Virginia, I don't think you need the "uhs" in there, but you can't alter something then put it in quotes without telling the reader you're doing that. Even Fox News gets it right:

Asked about gay marriage, Schwarzenegger said, "I do support domestic partnerships" but added that he was against gay marriage. He said marriage should be between a man and a woman.

See? That's what Schwarzenegger meant and we know it, but quotation marks indicate that what's inside them is exactly what he said.
Jack Shafer misses the damn point

Today, in his Slate column, Jack Shafer tries to make it sound like liberal writers are just using the word liars to sell books:

(L)ibs and lefties have generally shied away from calling conservatives liars—at least on their dust jackets. But no more. Having realized their side is getting whupped in the court of TV, three liberal/lefties who are talk-show regulars have incorporated the "L" word into the titles of their new books. Comedian and former Shorenstein Center fellow Al Franken takes on Republican politicians and the greater media culture, including Hannity and O'Reilly, with Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. New York Observer columnist and Clinton apologist Joe Conason holds the laughs as he surveys similar territory in Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth.

He goes on to say how much liberals are going to hurt their credibility if they keep this up, but I think he's sadly off-base in his arguments here, at least when it comes to "Mighty" Joe Conason (I haven't yet read Franken). Anyone who's read Big Lies knows that Conason isn't really going after individuals and calling them liars, but is attacking the unfair stereotypes with which liberals are painted due to 30+ years of conservative screeching. He's a) right on target and b) conscientious about pointing out that sometimes, and when speaking about specific people, conservatives have their moments of lucidity, too.

Even a first-year English major could do a better job of describing the theme of Conason's important book than Jack Shafer.
Message from God: "Please don't be on my side."

Have you ever been having a discussion and then someone jumps in to defend your point of view, but just makes things worse? I'm sure that there are plenty of conservatives who feel that way about guys like David Horowitz, Brent Bozell, Sean Hannity, etc., and duck into the bathroom whenever they see them coming down the hall. I feel that way when someone steps into an argument about whether the Iraq war was necessary and "backs me up" by saying that military conflict is always and forever unjustified.

Don't you wonder if God feels that way about Justice Moore and his supporters in Alabama?

As a controversial Ten Commandments monument was removed from the rotunda of an Alabama judicial building Wednesday, about 100 protesters – some of whom had camped out all week – were visibly shaken and angered by the action.

"Put it back!" screamed the crowd after each statement made by Christian Defense Coalition Director Patrick Mahoney, who vowed to continue the fight.

An irate man initiated the "Put it back!" chorus after the monument was wheeled away from the rotunda.

"Get your hands off our God, God haters!" yelled the wildly gesturing, red-faced man.

As someone named "DJ" pointed out in the comments over in Atrios' comments earlier, these people sure are attached to their graven images. Heck, in claiming that they've got their hands on God, the "red-faced man" seems to be violating both the first and second of those commandments in one fell swoop.

God was unavailable for comment, but his secretary said he's in a meeting and "could be in there for some time."

Update: Is Fox News anti-Protestants and Jews? They have a "raw data" list up, which purports to show people what the Ten Commandments are and they use the Catholic/Lutheran version without even mentioning there are others.

Update: Reader Sean points out that the site now says: "The following is a list of the Ten Commandments as they appear on the Alabama monument." It didn't say that yesterday, but simply read "The Ten Commandments." That, itself, is interesting. If that's what's on the monument, then isn't Moore, a Southern Baptist, arguing that the Catholic/Lutheran take on the Commandments is the correct one? Did all those people lying on the ground know that they were supporting us papists?
What words mean

Now that neo-cons have all gotten onboard the "flypaper strategy" bandwagon, which suggests that we're using Iraq as a terrorist magnet, can't we get them to adjust their terminology a bit?

First, this was a war of necessity because Iraq had weapons and we didn't want "the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Second, this was a war to obtain Iraqi freedom, because we're very much against torture and oppression (unless, of course, the oppressor in question is "with us," like Uzbekistan's President, Islam Karimov). Now, it's a way for us to keep terrorists from attacking us at home, by drawing them to Iraq, where they can be killed with impunity.

You know, it kind of makes sense. I've been wondering how in the hell the administration could not see that we either a) need more US troops in Iraq; or b) need to get the UN more involved, even if it means power-sharing. This could explain it, I guess: If we were trying to draw terrorists into Iraq and we had a sizeable force there, they might be scared off. Which means that our soldiers, if the supposed "flypaper strategy" were true, are being used as targets to attract terror.

Flypaper seems to me something of a bad simile here. I therefore propose that those who are suggesting that this theory is being tested in Iraq should have the decency to at least be honest about it.

This isn't about flypaper, but about using soldiers for "terror bait."

Is this really the way you want to defend Bush's policies?

Update: Digby has more.
The simple message about Iraq

Via Ezra at Not Geniuses, I see that Instapundit is embellishing clear cut sentences in order to obscure the truth. Instead of writing:

Howard Dean believes we need to stay in Iraq until the job is done.

He writes

The good news is that even anti-war candidate Howard Dean seems to have figured (out that we have to stay in Iraq for some time).

Ezra says this is because Glenn is a cut-and-dried ideologue who's attempting to spin the truth -- that Dean has been saying the same thing for some time. What ticks me off is that he acts as if being anti-war and having the common sense required to get the job done are two mutually exclusive qualities. Dean's (and Clark's) message about Iraq is one that's so simple, even George W. Bush -- millionaire average guy and renowned straight-shooter -- could get it:

Don't do it unless you've gotta do it, but, once you decide to do it, make sure it's done right.

It's like surgery. No doctor would walk into another's operating room and close a patient's incisions with the procedure half-finished, even if he disagreed with the reasons for the surgery in the first place. He might, however, perform those procedures better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

From the "What did you expect from a criminal?" file

Just five minutes ago Oliver North, as a guest on Hannity & Colmes, said, "Since 1979, the nexus of terrorism has been in Tehran."

From October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan, by Gary Sick, who served on the National Security Council under Ford, Carter and Reagan:

The "no negotiation" (with terrorists) slogan became a cardinal principle of policy under the Reagan administration. It was formally enshrined in the report of a "Task Force on Combatting Terrorism" headed by Vice President George Bush. That report was issued with some fanfare in February 1986, just as five hundred U.S. TOW missiles were being covertly delivered to Iran in an attempt to barter the release of U.S. Hostages in Lebanon and just three months before Robert McFarlane, Oliver North, and others flew off to Tehran with a cake in the expectation of meeting Rafsanjani. The no-negotiations-with-terrorists edict was a deception of the worst kind. It never deceived terrorists, or arms dealers, or hostile governments. It deceived only the American people, who were too far from the center of power to notice that the order was delivered with a wink and a nod. (Page 194. Italics Nitpicker's)

And then there's this, from Big Lies:

Oliver North, the Marine lieutenant colonel responsible for carrying out the Iran-Contra deals, confessed in his 1991 memoir that everyone knew what Reagan had ordered: "At the time, it seemed that selling a small amount of arms to Iran was worth the risk to make it all work. But a quid pro quo arrangement of arms for hostages? This placed all of us in a moral quandary. Human life is sacrosanct, but making what people would inevitably see as concessions to terrorists was a terrible idea -- especially since it violated our prohibition on arms sales to Iraq." (Page 198.)

So he broke the law and knowing sold weapons to terrorists. I know he was only convicted of aiding and abetting obstruction of Congress, shredding and altering official documents, and accepting an illegal gratuity, but is there a statute of limitations on treason? That's clearly what he's admitting to -- and not some sort of mushy-headed, "if you don't like my war you're a traitor" bullshit -- we're talking honest-to-God "lending aid and comfort." He's admitting it. He says we've known since 1979 that Tehran was the "nexus" of terrorism and that he gave those terrorists weapons. This man is a disgrace.

Update: After all that, Hannity still finished up with Big Lie #10: Conservatives are tough on terrorism, while liberal Democrats are soft. There must be intellectually honest conservatives out there somewhere, right?

Update: "Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes." - George W. Bush, May 1, 2003
Bozell and Horowitz hear the Clark train a-comin'

Knowing that Clark (whom the Nitpicker supports, if you were wondering) would be a hard candidate for Bush to run against, Bozell's CNS News is reporting that Wesley Clark is being criticized as an advocate of nation-building.

First, this is funny, considering what we're doing in Iraq right now, but, more obvious is the desperation Bozell's troops are showing as they try to find whatever they can with which they can pick at Clark. Let's look at who is "criticizing" the General:

  • John Hulsman, a senior foreign policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation


  • Doug Bandow, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute


  • Robert Maginnis, a national security analyst with the Fox News Channel

  • Wow. Thank God the CNS was doing their best to "put a higher premium on balance than spin." Although, since Heinrich Himmler is unavailable for comment, I don't know how they could have put more spin on it.

    David "I was never ultra-left, just really, really, really left" Horowitz's FrontPage shock troops are starting to wake up and smell the electoral college asskicking, too. Today, Lowell Ponte (Ponte...Isn't that French? --The Poor Man.) brings out all the old Anti-Clark crap. He ran the operation at Waco and burned babies. He's not a real soldier (?), but a "perfumed Prince" (via the eternal Colonel, David "No Stars" Hackworth, who's an asshole that just loves to go after those who are clearly his betters). His "meteoric" rise to four stars was based on politics, not the fact he graduated first in his class at West Point, was a Rhodes Scholar and served bravely in Vietnam. Hell, Ponte even loses track of who the good guys are supposed to be now:

    The Rhodes Scholarships had been set up by British imperialist Cecil Rhodes to educate the brightest American youngsters in England, a once-secret codicil in his will made clear, so that they would go home and help bring America back under the political sway of the British Empire.

    But Monsieur Ponte, I thought the British were our allies!

    All of this sudden lying, dodging and right-wing pants-wetting should alert everyone that Wesley Clark is a force to be reckoned with.
    Flight of the yellow-bellied Whackmaster

    You must go read Julia's post at Sisyphus Shrugged, in which she bring us up to date on another frivolous lawsuit. It seems that Ted Nugent said some bad things and hopes to convince a judge he didn't -- even though he said those things into a live radio mike. Julia reminds us what a class act the Nuge really is: A racist, sexist, draft-dodger.

    You don't believe me? Ask the Nuge.

    (Read that, then click on over and check out some other choice quotes from the Motor City Motormouth, including a heartwarming tail about the first animal he "slayed." He's all kinds of cool.)
    David Horowitz: ultra-left, ultra-right, ultra-hack

    The sad, flailing David Horowitz "strikes out" semantically against Joe Conason in Salon's letters section:

    Why does it not surprise me that the author of "Big Lies" should turn out to be a Big Liar? Contrary to Joe Conason's latest smear, I have never been an "ultra-leftist." Ever. I have a long publishing record as a leftist, available to Conason and any writer willing to check the facts, that shows that I was a mainstream New Leftist -- anti-Stalinist, anti-Maoist, anti-Weatherman, anti-vanguard party.

    OK, fine. But Horowitz himself has talked about working for the Black Panthers, which is hardly the DLC, now is it? In fact, he starts the column in which he tries to cover his butt for his right-wing readership by saying "when I was a college radical and anti-war activist forty years ago..." and then goes on to say how he was really a big "cautious and sober" radical.

    Is it just me or do these words not seem to go together? Merriam Webster defines a radical as someone who is extreme or is "of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change." And, if you look up "ultra," you'll find it means "going beyond others or beyond due limit" or "extreme."

    In other words, Horowitz declares that his own past was "ultra-left" without using those exact words and then calls "Mighty" Joe Conason a "Big Liar" for doing the same.

    (Odd that he doesn't argue with Conason's statement that he gives "stark, simple and demagogic" advice.)

    Horowitz is playing a ridiculous semantic game which only proves Conason's point: Hacks like David Horowitz don't want a real debate.

    Update: I received the following e-mail:

    I have absolutely nothing good to say about David Horowitz, but your criticism of his rejection of the term "ultraleft" is ridiculous. "Ultraleft" has a very specific meaning on the left. "Mainstream" radicals define themselves as left; "ultraleft" describes people who, for example during the Vietnam war, marched with banners reading "Victory to the Vietcong" rather than "Stop the war - bring the troops home now!". Ultraleft also describes people like the Weatherman, who lost faith in the ability of the masses to affect change, and instead launched into their own little homegrown guerrilla war band.

    I don't KNOW what Horowitz's stance was then, but without other information I'll take him at his word that he was "left", but not "ultraleft."

    Right, right, right. But a guy like Horowitz, whose magazine has called The Nation an ultraleft magazine and who, on CNN, called filmmaker Michael Moore an "ultra-left wing, anti-American Leninist," has lost the moral high ground. When students disagreed with him at the University of Delaware, he screeched, "I hope you get anthrax letters in the mail!" He says that Democrats are racist, are members of the "party of sabotage" and that they're carrying on a "war against America." A pissant like this does not get to argue about whether he was "ultra-left" or not. He should either quit shoveling crap into the cultural conscious or should quit crying like a small child at every tiny perceived slight.

    Monday, August 25, 2003

    Fox takes its ball and goes home

    Fox drops lawsuit after being utterly embarrassed in court. This is their genius spokesperson's response:

    "It's time to return Al Franken to the obscurity that he's normally accustomed to," Fox News spokeswoman Irena Steffen said.

    Rrrriiiight. "We just wanted to pump up the sales of a book that calls our main star a 'lying, splotchy bully' and leave, resting assured that his sales would drop immediately afterward."

    Morons.
    Whew!

    For a while there I thought the administration might do something to inflame militant Islamist feelings of resentment and hatred. They sure fooled me:

    The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.

    The (Israeli) Prime Minister's Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a "bonus" the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.

    Nope. I sure don't see how sending oil directly from Iraq to Israel could be used to recruit the next generation of terrorists. Nosirree.


    Nice try, Bill

    You know I respect Bill Maher, but the man, frankly is just getting it wrong here:

    She is not afraid to say something that will make people boo, and we need more of that. People are such panderers. They're such babies about that. They want to reinforce people's prejudices. I certainly don't agree with everything she is, but I admire that. And the older you get, at least for me, the more I adore the quality of acceptance in people. And Ann and I understand that about each other. We have a great time, we're not dating. People want to always put the sex factor in everything. No, it's not about that. It's about acceptance. It's about OK, I don't agree with everything you say, you don't agree with everything I believe, but we accept each other. (Link via Counterspin.)

    I don't think anyone has a problem with Ann Coulter's willingness to say difficult things. I certainly don't. What disgusts me about Coulter is that she's simply a bullshit artist who makes facts fit her view of the world. She's intellectually dishonest. She says liberals have to resort to name-calling and then calls the Kennedy family a bunch of "heroin addicts, statutory rapists, convicted and unconvicted female-killers, cheaters, bootleggers and dissolute drunks." She looks at Patty Murray's thoughtful attempt to explain bin Laden's appeal and accuses her of siding with the enemy (while not mentioning conservatives who really did blame America first. She's a liar. She's an embarrassment. As Gen. George C. Marshall biographer Prof. Mark Stoler wrote, when I asked him about Coulter's bashing of the Nobel Prize winning hero, Coulter's "smear and diatribe" was a "terrible commentary on the state of our nation."

    He's right.

    Contrary to what you might expect, I have plenty of conservative friends. What allows me to respect them and, I think, for them to respect me is our unwillingness to bullshit one another. We try to stick to issues when we argue and we don't just make stuff up out of whole cloth. That's what our country needs, but, as I've mentioned before, many conservatives are unwilling to debate honestly.

    Again, Bill, I don't mind if you like Ann Coulter, but don't act like she's being brave by saying things that other people boo. She's a liar, pure and simple.
    Don't I know you from somewhere else?

    General Barry McCaffrey, US Army (retired), will be filling in for Pat Buchanan on Buchanan and Press for a while. While I was perusing his biography, I noticed that something rather significant had been left out. Can you spot it?

    MCCAFFREY IS THE Olin Distinguished Professor of National Security Studies at the United States Military Academy. In addition, he is the President of his own consulting firm and has been elected to the Board of Trustees and Directors to several foundations and councils. Throughout his military career, McCaffrey served in the first Gulf War and served overseas for thirteen years. He was the most highly decorated and youngest four star general in the U.S. Army, receiving a number of medals and honors. McCaffrey also served as the assistant to General Colin Powell and the JCS advisor to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

    That's right. It seems that MSNBC simply forgot that McCaffrey, who is apparently conservative enough to replace Buchanan for a week, was also President Bill Clinton's Drug Czar.

    I guess they want to leave that out because it just doesn't fit with the whole "Clinton was so damn partisan" meme.
    Crazy men and the constitution

    Look, it almost seems pointless to mention the guy, but Howard Phillips recently wrote a defense of suspended Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore which includes this squinty-eyed look at the Constitution:

    The provisions of the Constitution cannot lawfully be amended by judicial fiat or edicts from the bench.

    Indeed, Article V of the Constitution spells out the only authorized procedures for amending the Constitution.


    Nowhere does the Constitution authorize Federal judges to change even a single word in the document - or to disregard the plain meaning of its text.

    In fact, Article VI of the Constitution makes explicitly clear that the Constitution, and the laws made pursuant to it, are "the supreme Law of the Land".

    All judicial officials, including Judge Myron Thompson and the judges of the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have sworn oaths which bind them to support the Constitution as it is written, not as they would personally prefer it to be written.

    The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

    Clearly, if the words of the framers are honored, Congress has no authority to restrict the establishment of Biblical religion in the State of Alabama - neither has any Federal judge such authority.

    So, should we care what a crazy man says? After all, this is a guy who once said that his ideal presidential candidate would support "term limits for broadcast licenses, so that, at last, we can end the corrupt power of the left-wing media, and turn the airwaves over to men and women like Paul Weyrich, Reed Irvine, Don Wildmon, James Dobson, Brent Bozell, and Bev LaHaye." Obviously, he's a nutbag.

    But these crazies can't be allowed to rant with impunity, I guess. So, I would simply like to point out that Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution says:

    The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution...

    And Alexander Hamilton explains in Federalist Paper #78:

    A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. (Italics Nitpicker's)

    Odd, he must have forgotten to put in where batshit political sideliners and oath-of-office-violating, publicity-seeking, poets of crap get to overrule anybody with whom they disagree.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    Blessed are the peacemakers

    I didn’t know Sergio Vieira de Mello, but, as a soldier who spent nine months in Bosnia in 1998, it appears I owe him a lot. I owe him the fact that, while there were the odd nights where we would hear RPGs being fired by unrepentant loyalists into the homes of their opponents, usually we slept soundly and the troops patrolling the streets while the rest of us slept went unmolested. That wasn’t entirely because of de Mello – the tough-minded Richard Holbrooke forced the initial calm on unwilling combatants and UN troops forced them to keep it – but, behind the scenes, de Mello was working his magic. Me, I got to sleep.

    De Mello worked wonders later in Kosovo, where he built a government from scratch in relative peace. In East Timor, he calmed a country boiling with anger by showing them that they would get nowhere if everyone simply looked out for him or herself. He very astutely appealed to that same self-interest as he did so. As he wrote later, “I have been telling the Timorese for a long time that the best way to erode the support East Timor has enjoyed worldwide is for them to start fighting each other again. If you burn a house, if you burn a school, if you harm one another, why would donors continue to funnel money to you? Why would a foreign investor bring his money here?”

    As the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, he was a tireless, tough defender of basic human dignity. In meeting with President Bush in March, he castigated the administration for tossing roughly 650 people into a “legal black hole,” telling Bush that the cause of ending terror was just, but that those who fight it “do not need to suspend certain fundamental freedoms and guarantees to achieve that goal.”

    He is reported to have been hoping to stay put for a while, which would have been a well-deserved rest. After 34 years in the United Nations working for the rights of refugees and, eventually, everyone whose human rights were violated, he had his own right to a little peace. After Turkey, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Kosovo, etc., no one would have blamed him if he let his luggage gather dust. When Kofi Annan asked him to go to Iraq for four months, though, he agreed, despite the fact that the Bush administration refused to share authority with the UN, leaving him virtually powerless. Nevertheless, he pitched in where he could, lending his moral authority and honesty to Ambassador Paul Bremer, who, as Bush’s handpicked administrator, needed someone to help blow away the political air of his position. As the Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote today, “He managed, in the short time he was in Iraq, to win the trust of not just Bremer and the Americans but also Iraq's fractious political, religious and tribal leaders. He became what U.N. diplomats are supposed to be but rarely are: an honest broker respected by both sides.”

    De Mello knew that his responsibility in Iraq wasn’t to toe anyone’s political line, but to help the Iraqi people give birth to a new, freer nation. To succeed, de Mello knew that you couldn’t win the minds or hearts of a people without first trying to inhabit those minds, without understanding what drove those hearts to beat. He needed to know the Iraqi perspective. He seemed to have found it. Recently, the Brazilian-born diplomat told one of his home country’s newspapers that he was sympathetic to the fears and feelings of the Iraqi people, as quoted today in The New York Times: “It must be one of the most humiliating periods in their history. Who would like to see their country occupied. I would not like to see foreign tanks in Copacabana."

    Still, I had no idea who this man was until yesterday. His name had popped up in stories I had glossed over and had left only a smudge somewhere in my memory, but that was it. Then, as I drove home from work and listened to his obituary – listened to how he died, horribly trapped beneath the hot, dusty rubble of his office, talking with those who dug madly, but unsuccessfully, to save him – I realized that the man who was helping to bring peace in Iraq had also helped make safe a country in which I had served. I knew that, probably even more than my fellow soldiers who stood watch at the gates at night, I owed my security in Bosnia to Vieira de Mello and Richard Holbrooke and all the other diplomats who, in their business attire and dress shoes, had got inside the minds of foreign peoples and had brought them calm. And, exponentially more important than my wellbeing, there are millions of people worldwide who owe people like that their very lives.

    It’s easy to point at UN ambassadors and discount them. They are nominated by politicians and serve at the pleasure of those who called them to that service. We should remind those in power today, though, that the United Nations isn’t filled with these political water-bearers. The next time a conservative member of Congress tries to smear the United Nations with one broad brush, we should remind them of the service and sacrifice of those who are walking the ground that they would fear to tread. The next time they say it’s “ time for the United States to get out of the United Nations,” we shouldn’t just dismiss them as paranoid and foolish, but draw them out into the light and compare them openly with the peacemakers they denigrate.

    It is tragic, indeed, that a man like de Mello would have to die in such a way. Just as sad are the deaths of our soldiers, who are still being killed with an alarming frequency. While there is no way to know, I have to wonder how many of those soldiers might be alive today if, in our inexplicable drive to hold onto power in Iraq, we hadn’t sidelined brilliant, experienced diplomats like Sergio Vieira de Mello. Hopefully, if anything good can come of yesterday’s bombing, the loss of de Mello will alert Americans to the kind of people who are serving in the United Nations and the noble causes for which they fight.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2003

    Oh man, is this funny

    From Paul Newman in today's Times:

    The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.

    Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.

    Go read the rest.

    Monday, August 18, 2003

    Fox News should trademark bright yellow spine

    I've already dealt with what an absurdity Bill O'Reilly's new column is, but, with its publication today in the New York Daily News, it seems important to address a timely issue I overlooked last Thursday. In his column, O'Reilly writes that the lawsuit against Franken was Fox's attempt at self-defense:

    Now Fox News is striking back by putting the demonizers on notice that they will be held responsible when they violate trademarks or launch defamatory personal attacks on Fox personnel.

    Now, I've already mentioned that Fox doesn't mention "defamatory personal attacks" even once in its entire lawsuit (which deals only with trademark infringement), so I'll let that slide. What's interesting here is whether or not Fox will have the cojones to come after people like yours truly.

    Last Friday, hundreds of Americans across the country joined together to protest the frivolous lawsuit against Al Franken. Each of us used the term "fair and balanced" as much as possible. We will have to wait and see if Fox is willing to attack us as they did Franken, but it's doubtful. Not because we're small fish in a big pond, but because the American public isn't likely to take Fox's side against individual housewives, farmers, soldiers, retirees and, yes, even journalists. Franken can be (unfairly) painted as a "political activist" and not a satirist and Fox can continue to act like it's really just acting out of an editorial policy that is "populist-traditional" and "pro-American." But, if it had to face the facts that their suit has outraged the populace, which is not "primarily ultraliberal," then those who don't normally pay attention to this sort of thing would wake up to the fact that the Foxholes* are really trying to shut someone up.

    I think that Fox would have a hard time convincing people that they're simply trying to contribute to a "wider range of thought and expression" if those people saw that they were simply trying to stifle someone's first amendment rights. Hell, if we could just get people to compare O'Reilly's statement that Fox doesn't "do drive-by character assassinations, and we don't denigrate opposing points of view by launching gratuitous personal attacks" and disdains attempts to "smear and destroy the reputations of those with whom you politically disagree" with the text of the lawsuit itself, people would see what a joke O'Reilly and Fox are.

    77. Franken has recently been described as a "C-level political commentator" who is "increasingly unfunny." Franken has physically accosted Fox News personalities in the past, and was reported to have appeared either intoxicated or deranged as he flew into a rage near a table of Fox News personalities at a press correspondents' dinner in April 2003. Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality. He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight. Franken is commonly perceived as having to trade off of the name recognition of others in order to make money. One commentator has referred to Franken as a "parasite" for attempting to trade off of Fox News' brand and O'Reilly's fame in the Preliminary Cover of his Book. - Fox News Network, LLC v. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and Alan S. Franken (Page 15)

    First, there are the attacks against Franken's character -- that he's "unstable" and possibly "deranged"; that "His views lack any serious depth or insight." Those are obviously what O'Reilly would call "drive-by character assassinations" that are intended to "denigrate opposing points of view by launching gratuitous personal attacks." More importantly, though, you should pay attention to the comments that they attribute to others.

    The fact that Franken was called a "parasite" and a "C-level political commentator" is undisputed. What they fail to mention is that both of those comments were made by C.K. Rairden in a column for the conservative Washington Dispatch. Rairden is a guy who has also referred to Tom Daschle as a "court jester" and Hillary Clinton as a "pimp" in the pages of the same magazine, which also features the fair and balanced rantings of L. Brent Bozell III, Pat Buchanan, Michelle Malkin, Oliver North, Robert Novak and serial liar Bill O'Reilly.

    The fact that Franken was called "increasingly unfunny" is also true. Who said that? Why, Newsmax.com, of course: A beacon of fair-handed journalism, covering issues from views across their broad political spectrum -- from conservative to far, far right.

    What the fair and balanced network leaves out of their complaint is that Franken isn't universally disliked**:

    "'Genius' might be too strong a word, but when a book has sucked you in to the point where you don't even know
    whether to take the acknowledgements seriously... you know you're in the presence of great satire." — The Dallas Morning News

    "A very funny book... [Franken] picks the scabs off every logical inconsistency, factual error or act of malice he can find in contemporary conservatism... this book destroys [Limbaugh]." — USA Today

    "[Franken's] points are swiftly and deftly made, and his sense of humor about the current carnival of political grotesques is badly needed." — Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

    And then there are my favorites:

    "This book establishes Al Franken as a master of political humor... a delight to read and certain to appeal to readers of any political persuasion whose spirit hasn't been completely broken by the state of current U.S. politics." — The Washington Times

    "Now, I was given the assignment of writing a piece on 'why Al Franken isn't funny.' But, I must confess, in all fairness, he can be very funny... The problem with Franken is not that he's unfunny. He has very good timing and many of the skits he wrote for Saturday Night Live were excellent (as was his cameo appearance in Trading Places)." — Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online

    So a fair and balanced view is that quite a few people see Franken as a funny guy and a satirist who makes excellent, insightful points. Odd that a fair and balanced television channel wouldn't see that.

    Now, there are real arguments of law that I'll let others answer -- like this guy (scroll down) and this guy and even this guy -- but I think it's pretty obvious that, if Drudge can be trusted, O'Reilly has bitched Fox News into an untenable position, where they're going to have to enter a court of law and argue against the first amendment with poorly parsed evidence and a complaint that proves the point that they're not "fair and balanced" at all. I almost wish that they would come after us little people -- not to boost our profiles, but to show Americans who aren't paying attention what a bunch of dishonest cowards they really are.


    * Term "Foxholes" coined by Tom Tomorrow.

    ** Update: Check the link and you'll see that, yes, the usual suspects (The New York Times, The washington Post and The New Yorker) are there, too, but I wanted to make the point that even smaller and less (so-called) liberal publications also liked Franken.

    Saturday, August 16, 2003

    The new Nitpicker

    In the midst of the e-mails I received over the past few days, I received the following statement:

  • Irritating tiny type. Or do you prefer to have few readers over 45?
     
    Did you know that even expensive prescription reading classes only come in quarter sizes: 2:25, 2:50, 2:75, etc. So, most people over 45 don't have perfect focus even with reading glasses.
     
    Your stuff is good but it's not worth eyestrain. I'll stick to Joe and Neal and Adam, they're small enough.


  • I'm certain I'm not the first one to e-mail you about this: your website is unreadable not because of what you say, but because of the color scheme you use and the extremely small font size. Please accept this as constructive criticism. I would like to see more people read your blog and a more legible design will help tremendously.

  • While I'm young (or at least childish) enough to have wanted to make a dick joke about whether Joe, Neal and Adam are "small enough", I do, of course, want as many people to be able to read this blog as possible. Hell, maybe my dad would even drop in from time to time if he didn't have to read the site from 30 feet away through a rifle sight.

    Thus the change, even though I loved the old color scheme. I tell myself that there's a reason that no one ever printed a newspaper with white type on a green background with dark blue borders, but the still, small voice of Carson Kressley inside me is disgusted by my kowtowing to function over form.

    P.S. Apparently, this post worried some people. I guess it's hard to tell if my tongue's actually in my cheek if you're not talking to me, so I need to take a moment to tell the amateur psychologists out there that I have no intention of killing myself. I really do feel good about my place in the world, even though I suggested that Andrew Sullivan is headed to the 8th circle of Hell.

    P.P.S. There's a master's thesis to be found in the fact that the new media experiments with wacky design elements but, in the case of ostensibly informative sites, everyone seems to be learning that Gutenberg might have been on to something...

    Friday, August 15, 2003

    The man kicks Nitpicker in his fair and balanced ass

    If you're looking for the fair and balanced t-shirt, it's gone:

    Hi,

    Some of the images in your CafePress.com account have been set to 'pending' status due of the following reason: Your image(s) may be Copyright/Trademark protected and require a license prior to the use for merchandise sales.

    Please review Section 4.3 of our User Agreement relating to prohibited items: htp://www.cafepress.com/cp/info/help/memberagreement.aspx

    You may also visit our Copyright/Trademark FAQ page for additional information regarding the types of images, which require a license prior to their use through our service. Please review our FAQ page at:
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    To review your images, please log into your CafePress.com account and click on the 'Media Basket' link. The images set to 'pending' status are highlighted red.

    If you currently hold a license for the image(s) in question or feel that they may not be in violation of our policies, please contact a Shop Advisor at imageverification@cafepress.com. Your images will remain unusable and after 14 days will be scheduled for deletion.

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    I'm going to check on keeping the "I made Bill O'Reilly cry" coffee mugs. Funny, it looks like I really might have made Bill O'Reilly cry.

    A big, fair and balanced middle finger to Roger Ailes


    Wow! As my man Cyrus said in the great/awful movie The Warriors, "Can you count, suckers? ... Can you dig it? Can you dig it? CAAAANNN YOUUUU DIG ITTT!?"

    Check out this list of Fair and Balanced Day bloggers. Apparently, Roger Ailes didn't realize that people actually take their First Amendment rights seriously. Go figure. But where are Insty and Andy?

    Also, I've repaired the glaring error on the Fair and Balanced Day t-shirt (any profits will be donated to the ACLU) and added an "I Made Bill O'Reilly Cry" coffee mug. Pick one up for yourself or, if you want, send one to your favorite lefty in Congress. I'm thinking that one would look really nice on the desk of Rep. Barney Frank, for example.

    And, if you missed it, check out my fair and balanced post on serial liar, Bill O'Reilly. You'll have to scroll down, though, links are bloggered.


    A fair and balanced love


    Go read Neal. You'll never be able to look at a bunny the same way again.

    Happy Fair and Balanced Day!

    Thursday, August 14, 2003


    A fair and balanced look in the mirror



    There's really no need to tell me, as some correspondents do, that this blog is something of a futile cry in the dark. I know that. Only about 10,500 people have bothered to read it in the ten months I've been keeping track. I'm cool with that. As I've said before, the main reason I maintain this blog is because it keeps me from screaming at the radio, the TV and at editorials in the Wall Street Journal -- an embarrassing personal tic to have when you pick up that newspaper in an airport kiosk a few minutes before boarding a cross-country flight. (It never calms anyone down, by the way, to explain to them that they'd be screaming, too, if they were only paying attention.)

    So there's no need to remind me that I'm not changing the world. I'm also not scaring strangers and, as Martha would say, that's a good thing.

    I've also resigned myself to the fact that fame and fortune as an essayist will continue to elude me. I don't think Esquire will be calling me up soon to offer me a gig (though, of course, the phone's on the hook, if you know what I mean) and I'm fine with that. Honest.

    It is nice, though, to get anything, even a letter to the editor (responding to an essay by someone who must be Canada's first mentally handicapped cowboy historian) published in one of the nation's most widely-read newspapers. It really deals a blow to the screaming rants.

    If you sense a self-pitying tone, I have to say it's entirely unintentional. I like my position as gnat -- no, mite -- on the American psyche. You start making money at this and, in today's America, you go from idealistic liberal to Morton Kondracke before you know it. Sure, there are those who can avoid that fate, but they're mostly splashing around in the little puddles of "thought money" -- The Washington Monthly, The Nation, Mother Jones, etc. -- to be found here and there. Or in Academia. Or wicked genius like I will never be. The left can't yet boast sugar daddies like Richard Mellon Scaife, The "Reverend" Moon or Rupert Murdoch, men who can afford to open the floodgates and coax mediocre writers into their river of sophist slaver and swag (are your ears burning Jonah G.? Andy S?). That's pretty much OK with me, too. Those guys paddling around in there don't realize that the stream was diverted through the Augean stables before they jumped in and empties out somewhere around the 8th circle of hell -- with the panderers, hypocrites, sowers of discord, fake counselors and liars.

    Too harsh?

    Sorry.

    Well, not sorry, but sorry I wrote it "out loud." I guess you can't keep the rants down too long. I really am fine with my place in the intellectual food chain, though. I get great comments from some people I really admire (many of whom are listed on the left) and, even if I didn't, I like being able to toss my ideas out into the noosphere to alight where they will.

    I guess my whole point is: Send nastygrams if you must. I'm OK with that, because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and, doggone it, people like me.

    A fair and balanced look at Bill "Pinhead" O'Reilly



    First, you have to read this crap he was spouting last night:

    But that success has caused an incredible amount of anger among some in the elite media and among some liberal ideologues. And their attacks on us have now resulted in legal issues, such as trademark infringement and defamation.

    The main point here is that trying to hurt a business or a person because you disagree with what they say is simply unacceptable in America. And that message has been sent by FOX. There's a principle in play. Vigorous debate is embraced by us, but smear campaigns will be confronted. It is simply a joke for The New York Times to editorialize that fabricated personal attacks are acceptable under the banner of satire.

    Then read what he wrote today:

    The accusation that Fox is a conservative network is pure propaganda as poll after poll has demonstrated that FNC's audience is across the board ideologically and demographically...

    Using liberal-leaning newspapers and publishing houses, the critics of FNC have unleashed defamatory personal attacks on me and other Fox news analysts and have attempted to denigrate the entire network.

    If Fox News crashed and burned tomorrow, these people would toast marshmallows in the flames.

    Now Fox News is striking back by putting the demonizers on notice that they will be held responsible when they violate trademarks or launch defamatory personal attacks on Fox personnel.

    It is simply a sorry joke to see a political activist like Al Franken labeled a "satirist" by The New York Times.

    Attempting to smear and destroy the reputations of those with whom you politically disagree is not satire...

    We don't do drive-by character assassinations and we don't denigrate opposing points of view by launching gratuitous personal attacks...

    The pubahs at The New York Times know what a smear campaign is but apparently if it's directed at an enterprise the paper disapproves of it's okay.

    I wonder how the Times' editorialists would react if their faces graced a book cover accompanied by the word "liar."

    Wow! That's a lot of bullshit to have to wade through, so let's break it down:

    1. Fox obviously doesn't give a damn about "character assassination" or "defamation." They don't mention either of those complaints in their lawsuit, which is entirely about trademark infringement. As much as O'Reilly would like you to believe this is about his being libeled, Fox's lawyers knew better.


    2. As Joe Conason asks in Big Lies, the left-leaning "publishing houses" also publish rightwingers, so how could they be call "left-leaning"?


    3. O'Reilly actually has no problem with character assassinations or personal attacks.

      In defense of (oddly enough) the First Amendment, O'Reilly admitted calling people names. "How many times on this broadcast do I call people pinheads? You know, it's just in basically the discourse, back and forth, the passion," he said (O'Reilly Factor, 5/01/2003).

      After Michael Kinsley wrote something about him in Slate, O'Reilly's producer called to see if Kinsley would appear on his show. When informed that Kinsley was on vacation, O'Reilly called him a "coward" on his show for "refusing" to show up. Kinsley did come on the show later and had a great response: "Look, I debated Pat Buchanan for many years on 'Crossfire.' I do not need to be afraid of Bill O'Reilly." (O'Reilly Factor, 3/20/2001)

      Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has never been proven to have done anything wrong, O'Reilly smears her every time he brings up her name. On June 23, he said she had "so many skeletons in the closet, it's Halloween every day." He once wrote that "The problem with Hillary Clinton is that she is putting forth a façade; she will not define herself as a real person" -- which is a sneaky way of saying she's holding something back, even thought there's no way for O'Reilly to know if that's true or not.

      Not to mention he called Al Franken a "vile human being" and, as Bob Minzesheimer pointed out in U.S.A. Today, "the conservative talk show host first decried political commentators who "call people names." Then he called Al Franken , the liberal humorist, an "idiot."


    4. As for hurting a business because you disagree with them, isn't that exactly what O'Reilly did to Pepsi by launching a boycott against them after they hired Ludacris?


    5. Also, does Bill (and Fox) really welcome "vigorous debate"? When the son of a man killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center disagreed with O'Reilly, Bill told him to "shut up" and told the director to "cut his mike."


    6. The idea that O'Reilly and Fox aren't conservative is, well, just stupid. For more than two years O'Reilly's columns were published on Townhall under a heading that read (and still reads) "Conservative Columnists." Did O'Reilly complain, one wonders? He's constantly warning against "raging liberals" or calling them "weasels."


    7. And, despite his disgust that Franken could be called a "satirist" he has no problem accepting Ann Coulter's calling liberals traitors as her way of being "funny" and then giving her the advice that she doesnt want to be like "liberal bomb-throwers."


    Obviously, as Franken said during his famous argument with O'Reilly, "there's a lot more," but who has the time? The man is clearly intellectually dishonest, at best. At worst, he's a serial liar who can't take a freaking joke -- at least when it's on him. Remember, this is the man who once said how he used to love to rip open the personal lives of the rich and powerful... until things changed. "At the time I didn't think much about it, because I thought the rich and powerful were fair game. But now I'm rich and powerful." What a pinhead.

    Bill O'Reilly will hold his manhood cheap



    General Pollack gives his St. Fair-and-Balanced Day speech.

    Keeping the UN out of Iraq


    Today in the Times:

    The Bush administration has abandoned the idea of giving the United Nations more of a role in the occupation of Iraq as sought by France, India and other countries as a condition for their participation in peacekeeping there, administration officials said today.

    Instead, the officials said, the United States would widen its effort to enlist other countries to assist the occupation forces in Iraq, which are dominated by the 139,000 United States troops there.

    A cynical person might think that Bush doesn't want the UN touching his oil, but I think that cynical person would be wrong. Bush already has the UN pretty cowed, considering they gave the US and Britain autonomy over the oil fields with 1483, so it's not the oil that's keeping the UN out of Iraq. The reason Bush doesn't want the UN in Iraq is because he's afraid that Saddam will turn himself over to, say, the French, who won't turn him over to the United States. Then, instead of either being dead or sweating in a tiny room in Cuba, he will be taken to the Hague, where he will report on all the good times he and his old buddy Donny had back in the day. God knows what sort of memos he might be dragging around in his briefcase, right?

    Just watch. We'll catch or kill Saddam soon and then Rumsfeld, blatant as ever, will put the welcome mat out for whatever furriners want to help out in Iraq.

    What's a movement without a T-Shirt?



    Nitpicker has designed a slap-dash and shoddy t-shirt for "Fair and Balanced Friday." Celebrate your participation by letting the whole world know that you "made Bill O'Reilly cry."

    What a wonderful world


    Being a man who loves words, I'm glad I live in a time when I can write "Happy Blogiversary, Uggabugga!" Say it out loud. It'll make you smile.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2003


    Begging to differ



    Look. I love Josh Marshall. You all know that. He's like the brother I never met -- the handsomer, smarter, better respected... Screw it. I like him less with every adjective. My point is that he's a smart guy and, usually, knows his stuff vis-a-vis politics.

    However, I have a real bone to pick with his take on Clinton-hating/Bush-hating comparisons.

    The way I read it, he's saying that Bush had to rise above the Clinton-haters to be able to draw in the middle-of-the-road crowd. I think that's a less than complete understanding of the issue. The last election didn't turn on anger, but on issues. Bush pulled people over to his side not by being an outsider, but by hiding his conservatism in moderate rhetoric.

    It's true, though. America was sick of the "Get Clinton" crowd. It wasn't, however, because they were sick of "rage." They were simply tired of misdirected partisan rage. Americans didn't like Clinton-haters because they didn't buy what the American Spectator crowd was selling. It's the plain truth. They knew that every action was politically motivated and his "crimes" were being blown out of proportion. Poll after poll told that story.

    Bush, however, ran on a moderate platform which has been shown by his actions to have been nothing but a façade, a cover for his real beliefs. He had a reputation of being a straight-shooter but has proven himself a bullshit artist. He lies without compunction and has failed miserably in his attempts to restore "responsibility" to the White House. Those are real issues and they should make people angry. I think America will understand anger like that.

    Ha!



    The Onion:

    Republicans Introduce Economic Equality Bill For Fun Of Shooting It Down

    WASHINGTON, DC—Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed H.R. 2093: the Economic Equality Initiative, with the express purpose of shooting it down "just for kicks" Tuesday. "H.R. 2093 will level the economic playing field, spreading the wealth among the rich and poor," said Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX), visibly fighting back snickers. "We must pass this bill to stop the fat cats from getting fatter while the average Joe struggles to make ends meet. Also, I'm the Queen of Bavaria." Following 10 minutes of uproarious laughter, the congressmen stepped out of the chamber to smoke cigars lit with a bill that would allocate $115 million to clean up hazardous waste sites.


    Tuesday, August 12, 2003


    Ms. vanden Heuvel thinks of the children



    How to talk to your children about President Bush:

    Think about your values as they relate to this situation. What are your family's values about telling the truth? What would you do if your child lied to you and when you scolded him or her, he or she replied: ''I am not a fact-checker.'' Or added, ''Isn't it time to move on?''

    Ask your children to tell you what words mean to them. Explain that words have consequences and lies can come in two, six or 16 words.

    Clarify facts. Give short, age-appropriate answers. Explain that shifting strategies at damage control only lead to more unanswered questions. Make clear that even if facts are malleable for President Bush, they're not malleable in your home. Explain that even though the White House strategy may be to say whatever is necessary, even if they have to admit later that what they said the first time wasn't exactly true, you don't do it that way yourself.

    Use these talks with your child to encourage good decision-making. Let them know that if they grow up to become president and lead a nation into war, the right thing to do is take responsibility for their words and acts. (This is a good opportunity to explain what the saying ''the buck stops here'' means.)

    Use television news as a springboard for discussion. However, do not let children younger than 13 watch this coverage alone. It can be ugly and disturbing for children to watch the president and his aides scapegoat their subordinates with so little compunction.

    Ha!

    Note to Bible publishers


    It's sad that I have to tell you this, but the Bible was never intended to be a form letter (link via Making Light). Just look what happens:

    Blessed be the God and Father of Nitpicker's Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed Nitpicker with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ; even as He chose Nitpicker in Him before the foundation of the world, that Nitpicker would be holy and without blemish before Him in love; having predestined Nitpicker for adoption as a son through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His desire, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He freely bestowed favor on Nitpicker in the Beloved. In Him Nitpicker has his redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of Nitpicker's trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward Nitpicker in all wisdom and prudence, making known to Nitpicker the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Nitpicker to an administration of the fullness of the times, to unite all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in Him.

    You see? And now that that's in print, Pat Robertson has to interpret it literally.

    Trademark



    In order to avoid the need for lawsuits à la Fox News, which is suing Al Franken for using the term "fair and balanced" (which is why Nitpicker and numerous others are also fair and balanced now), TBogg has put up a list of phrases he's claiming as well.

    Also, Fox News is preparing lawsuits against the following:

  • Shimon Peres, who said that the Mitchell report on Israel was "fair and balanced."

  • Reginald A. Wilkinson, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, who called for a "fair and balanced" approach to the parole system in Ohio.

  • Foodservice Equipment Reports magazine, which claims to give "fair and balanced evaluations of foodservice equipment and supplies."

  • The AFL-CIO, who insanely thinks that we need a "fair and balanced" judiciary.

  • Brent Bozell, whose newsletter Medianomics is said to provide "reporters and Hollywood insiders with free enterprise perspectives and examples of how to present stories in a fair and balanced manner."

  • British Energy’s executive chairman Robin Jeffrey, who said that a House of Commons Trade & Industry Committee had reached "fair and balanced" conclusions.

  • George Will: Revisionist Historian


    What the hell is George Will talking about? Does anyone have any idea? Today, he makes two points to which you should pay close attention.

    1. Arianna Huffington was a Republican at least eight years ago:

      In the 1950s, when Doris Day, prim and perky and squeaky clean, was starring in romantic comedies, the mordant Oscar Levant said, "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." Washington knew Arianna Huffington before she was a left-wing populist.

      But in politics as in other fields of fashion, standards of chic change, and it is as a Huey Long from the upper crust that millionaire Huffington is seeking to make of herself a gift, as governor, to California's downtrodden. Can it be just eight years ago that she was living here, toiling to establish a salon for like-minded surfers on the rising -- or so she thought -- wave of Newt Gingrich's brand of conservatism? "Why Newt Must Run," she wrote in the Nov. 27, 1995, Weekly Standard, urging a presidential candidacy.

    2. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an embarrassment to the Republican Party because he makes Ronald Reagan look bad:

      By encouraging facile comparisons with Reagan, Schwarzenegger's candidacy will seem to validate the dismissive assessments of Reagan as an empty suit whose smile was his political philosophy. In fact, Schwarzenegger could hardly be less like Reagan, a "conviction politician" who ran for governor in 1966 after having honed his political thinking over more than a decade of constant public advocacy.

    Here's the thing: On one hand he's saying that Arianna's full of shit for changing her party due to "standards of chic" and on the other, he's saying that Schwarzenegger isn't Reaganesque because Reagan was driven by real conviction. Doesn't he know, as we do, that Reagan only switched parties four years before he ran for Governor of California? How could he say Arianna's a flip-flopper, then, but Reagan was some sort of ideological juggernaut?

    Remember, everyone was switching parties back then: Strom (who switched two years after Reagan), Jesse, etc. And where was George Will when it was time to mock Richard Shelby, who switched from D to R in 1994 and Ben Nighthorse Campbell who did the same a year later? Should we ignore them because they were party floppers? What about Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who changed from Republican to Independent and back in the same year (1999)?

    It's funny that George (rightly) castigates Arnold for not taking a serious position on real issues, but bashes Arianna, who has, for reasons which can only be described as superficial. Actually, considering Will's own record of turning 180 degrees on issues for purely partisan reasons, its obvious that the man doesn't really care about ideas, but only the letter in parentheses behind someone's name.

    Monday, August 11, 2003


    Bullshit alert!


    Write your congressmen and local newspapers about this travesty:

    A retired schoolteacher who went to Iraq to serve as a "human shield" against the U.S. invasion is facing thousands of dollars in U.S. government fines, which she is refusing to pay.

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a March letter to Faith Fippinger that she broke the law by crossing the Iraqi border before the war. Her travel to Iraq violated U.S. sanctions that prohibited American citizens from engaging in "virtually all direct or indirect commercial, financial or trade transactions with Iraq."

    She and others from 30 countries spread out through Iraq to prevent the war. She spent about three months there. Only about 20 of nearly 300 "human shields" were Americans, she said.

    Fippinger, who returned home May 4, is being fined at least $10,000, but she has refused to pay. She could face up to 12 years in prison.

    In her response to the charges, she wrote the government that "if it comes to fines or imprisonment, "please be aware that I will not contribute money to the United States government to continue the buildup of its arsenal of weapons." Since she won't pay, she said, "perhaps the alternative should be considered."

    The government also has asked Fippinger, 62, to detail her travels to Iraq and any financial transactions she made. In her response, Fippinger wrote that the only money she spent was on food and emergency supplies.

    If Fippinger does not pay, the fine may increase, and the money will be drawn from her retirement paycheck, her Social Security check or any of her assets, officials said.

    "She was (in Iraq) in violation of U.S. sanctions," said Taylor Griffin, a Treasury Department spokesman. "That's what happens."

    Remind everybody about this hypocrite:

    It was only five years ago when Vice President Dick Cheney, as chief executive of the oil-field supply corporation, Halliburton Co., was engaged in secret business dealings with Saddam's regime by selling Iraq oil production equipment and spare parts to get the Iraqi oil fields up and running, according to confidential United Nations records.

    During the 2000 presidential campaign, Cheney adamantly denied such dealings. While he acknowledged that his company did business with Libya and Iran through foreign subsidiaries, Cheney said, "Iraq's different." He claimed that he imposed a "firm policy" prohibiting any unit of Halliburton against trading with Iraq.

    "I had a firm policy that we wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal," Cheney said on the ABC-TV news program "This Week" on July 30, 2000. "We've not done any business in Iraq since U.N. sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, and I had a standing policy that I wouldn't do that."

    But it turns out that Cheney was lying. It's only through the sale of Iraqi oil that Saddam would be able to afford to obtain such weapons. If Saddam was in fact building nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, which some news reports allege could be used against American and British troops, Cheney is partially responsible.

    The Washington Post first reported Halliburton's trade with Iraq in February 2000. But U.N. records obtained by The Post two years ago showed that the dealings were more extensive than originally reported and than Vice President Cheney has acknowledged.

    Update: It appears that Dem Vet beat me to this one, making an entirely different point.

    Lies


    By any other name...

    Canards: Administration's evidence of weapons in Iraq.

    Cock-and-bull stories: Bush's politically motivated pseudo-science.

    Taradiddles: Many children are left behind by Bush education policy.

    Fraudulencies: Treasury twists data to support Bush policies.

    Inveracity: Bush promised more funding for Americorps. Guess what?

    Thursday, August 07, 2003


    Numbers


    Today, I think, marks the last day of Pat Robertson's 21-day "prayer offensive" against Supreme Court Justices. All nine judges seem safely ensconced. Apparently the highest court isn't listening to Robertson's appeal.

    When U.N. weapons inspectors had been in Iraq for 111 days, Bush said "They've had enough time." Our troops have been for 119 days. No weapons have been found.

    Since Bush strutted beneath a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, 116 Americans have died in Iraq, an average of 1.31 per day.

    Since the Bushies took office, over 3 million people have lost their jobs. Job growth has been negative for 25 straight months. Bush promised in April that, with his tax cut, the economy would produce 510,000 more jobs than without it. He is 841,374 jobs behind pace (scroll down to "Job Creation Scorecard for July:).

    Meanwhile, the average employed American gets 8.1 days of vacation after one year of employment and 10.2 days after three years. President Bush, in his third year in the White House, is taking a month's vacation. He has taken at least a month's worth of vacation each of the three years he has spent in power.

    Tanned, rested and ready


    Dwight Meredith is back from the beach and kicking ass over at PLA. Go there. Read everything.


    Hamilton v. Ashcroft


    In all the hubbub recently over the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision, I kept hearing that the court was undermining the decision of "the majority" in deciding as it did. In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia put it this way:

    Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts--or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them--than I would forbid it to do so. What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new "constitutional right" by a Court that is impatient of democratic change. It is indeed true that "later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress," ante, at 18; and when that happens, later generations can repeal those laws. But it is the premise of our system that those judgments are to be made by the people, and not imposed by a governing caste that knows best.

    In other words, we should just wait until the people come around to a new way of thinking. The court shouldn't make these decisions for them. I find these statements shocking from a sitting Supreme Court Justice, who should understand that the courts were intended to limit the power of the executive and legislative branches when necessary. All of those who are currently decrying the increased authority of the courts are really saying that they want to deny the courts the authority given to them by the constitution. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist Papers:

    There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.

    If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers, and that the construction they put upon them is conclusive upon the other departments, it may be answered, that this cannot be the natural presumption, where it is not to be collected from any particular provisions in the Constitution. It is not otherwise to be supposed, that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their WILL to that of their constituents. It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

    Sounds good to me, but not to John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is currently asking federal prosecutors to report all "downward departure" sentences -- sentences which do not meet mandatory minimums set by congress.

    This memo, of course, isn't the beginning of this story. To find that, you'd have to go back to the mid-to-late 80's, when members of Congress were so gung-ho to prove their "tough on crime" credibility that they started setting harsher and harsher "mandatory minimum" sentencing requirements for all sorts of things. This was the beginning of the end of the independent judiciary promised us by the constitution. No longer would judges be allowed to judge cases based on their merit, but on complicated guidelines.

    Often, these guidelines resulted in horrifying miscarriages of justice -- as demonstrated by the case of Dorothy Gaines, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison solely on the word of a drug dealer who cut a deal (listen to here story here). Bill Clinton pardoned Gaines and other victims of sentencing laws back when all you were hearing about was Marc Rich.

    The sad fact is that Ashcroft's memo is really just reminding federal prosecutors of the new policy defined by the Feeny Amendment to the Amber Alert law. As Ryan King, research associate for The Sentencing Project told me this morning, the memo "just creates a system of surveillance over the judges" who are unwilling to hand down harsh sentences to those who don't deserve it.

    What is disgusting to me and others is that those who are pushing so hard to weaken the judiciary are the same people who claim to defend the Constitution. John Ashcroft told The Federalist Society last November that it was his responsibility to defend it. "Those of us in the Justice Department are federal law enforcement officers," Ashcroft said. "First and foremost, we must follow the Constitution."

    Instead, he has been part of an administration -- and was part of a Congress -- that worked against the Constitution at every turn. "You've got two branches of government that are usurping the powers of the third," King told me.

    The next time you hear someone talk about "activist" judges, remind them that the judiciary was designed to be an equal partner in the leadership of this nation. Anyone who believes in the Constitution should defend its quickly dwindling power. Especially politicians. As King says, in praising those (like Senator Edward Kennedy) who oppose Ashcroft's I've-got-my-eye-on-you-tactics, "I would like to see some other politicians realize where their power ends." Until the people realize that limit, I doubt many politicians will.