Monday, October 31, 2005

Fifteen years

How can George Will look at himself in the mirror without weeping at the waste his mind has become? Check it:
(B)ecause of the glittering credentials that earned Alito unanimous Senate confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, those Democrats who are determined to oppose him are unhappily required to make one of two intellectually disreputable arguments.
Will gives two possible arguments:
  • Conservatism used to be respectable but, now, isn't.

  • Alito isn't Sandra Day O'Connor.
Only two arguments, George? Really?

How about this one: 15 years ago, no one knew just how much of a right-wing nutjob he was! Now, of course, we do.

Here's something Will could compare this to: George, I'm guessing, promised an eternal commitment to his wife Madeleine when they were married in 1967. She, I'm sure, also promised to have and to hold and to serve as his shield against getting drafted for the Vietnam War. But, roughly 20 years and three children later, their marriage was being described as "off again, on again" by the Washingtonian and suddenly poor Georgie's shit gets dumped on the lawn, topped with a sign reading "Take it somewhere else, buster." I honestly believe that the Wills not only intended to stay together forever, but actually believed that they would.

Being charitable, I would say that George and Madeleine each figured out they had misjudged their partner. Madeleine probably didn't think she was marrying a man who would have a "romance" with Lally Weymouth (if that is her real name). George probably realized that Madeleine, unlike his second wife, wasn't 13 years younger than him. Shucks, we all get fooled.

So there may have been a similar slowly dawning realization among Democrats that they'd promised a life-long commitment to the wrong man. Unfortunately, the constitution does not allow for a judicial divorce.

Additionally, there's the possibility that maybe Alito has changed. You see, regardless of the judicial philosophy Alito began with, it was, again, 15-freaking-years ago!

Remember this: 15 years ago Dubya was still embarrassing his dad in front of reporters, misusing secret information and dreaming up a huge, ethically questionable, possibly illegal land grab.

OK, maybe he's a bad example, but most people don't stay the same for 15 years.

In ten years, in fact, George Will's opinion of judicial filibusters turned 180 degrees.

I do have to give Will some credit. When it comes to "intellectually disreputable arguments," he's the undisputed expert.

B.S. from a Ph.D.

David Gelernter, a charter member of Conservative Academics Banded Against Logic*, proves once again that he just simply doesn't care to tell anyone the truth. As Media Matters has pointed out, his most recent column blatantly misquotes Carter's Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Gelernter writes:
Carter preached anti-anti-communism: As the U.S. military deteriorated for lack of funds and confidence, and Cuban troops with Soviet advisors moved into Angola and Ethiopia, Carter's secretary of State announced that "to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement in Africa would be futile." This was foreign policy as the left liked it.
Is it really? Um, no.
The more lucid and consistent statements of U.S. policy over these past months have come from Secretary of State Vance, as he initially outlined it in an address in July, 1977, at St. Louis and restated it in an Atlantic City speech this past June. Essentially, Vance on both occasions sought to identify American policy with African nationalism, on the basis of the faith that "having won independence, African nationals will defend it against challenge from any source." Accordingly, a "negative, reactive policy that seeks only to oppose Soviet or Cuban involvement would be both dangerous and futile."
In other words, don't just oppose bad guys, but improve the situation. Crazy, huh?

Gelernter further supports the war in Iraq with an argument that can most succintly be paraphrased with two words: Deus Vult!
Polls show American uneasiness about the war. Naturally. The fighting is dirty and dangerous. But the U.S. is a God-fearing nation; we are proving that by battling to spread justice.


* Other members include Victor Davis Hanson and Fred Kagan.

A real American hero

Alito has been nominated! Unleash the hoard of Chickenhawks!
The seventh seal has been broken, the goat entrails point toward gotterdamerung, it's on.
Yep, as long as there's no threat to his income or his sorry ass, Jonah's willing to take up arms to defend his country sit at his keyboard throughout the political apocalypse to come and defend racial discrimination in employment, the strip-searching of ten-year-olds despite limited search warrants and making disability discrimination nearly impossible to prove. (Link.)

Update: I'm sure that Jonah also can't wait to go to the matresses -- (Pillow-top only, please!) -- over the right to discriminate against people with AIDS due to a "fear of contagion whether reasonable or not." He just loves to find reasons to discriminate against people. He speculated (on a "hunch") that sniper John Muhammad might be a homosexual and, therfore, a "threefer": Muslim, black and gay! Oh, what fun it was going to be to bash him now that his killing spree had enlightened Jonah about the queer (?), black Muslim's true deficiencies!

As stated before, though, Jonah must enforce limits on his pledge of defense. While he, of course, couldn't possibly be expected to pledge his life, his fortune or his sacred honor in defense of a cause he supports, it's also important to remember that he can't be made to face people who disagree with him. That's just not fair.

Michael Signorile:
Last week, a producer at Boston’s WBUR, an NPR station–the same NPR accused by the right as being at the forefront of the "liberal media agenda"–was so eager to get in touch with me that she contacted my editors at both New York Press and Newsday with urgent missives, and also sent an email via my website. She was calling from a popular program called "The Connection," hosted by Dick Gordon, and wanted me to participate on a show about same-sex marriage the following day. The other guests would be writer E.J. Graf and National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg...

She called back at 6:30 to inform me that I was "off the hook" for the show: Conservative pundit Goldberg wouldn’t appear with me. The producer noted that she doesn’t usually let a guest "dictate" who the other guests are, but it was late and thus hard to find another conservative. As I wrote in a letter about the incident to Jim Romenesko’s media news page on the Poynter Institute’s site last week, that sounded pretty bogus. Finding a conservative pundit to do a radio program is about as difficult as finding a drag queen at gay pride.

Cronyism

I'm about a third of the way into George Packer's Assassin's Gate and, so far, a lot of the book seems an apologia of the war hawks' cause. Packer wants us to know that his vision has cleared and often picks at the ideological pinheads who pushed for the war, but really wants us to understand that he's really a good guy who just wanted the best and, therefore, shouldn't be blamed for supporting this debacle.

Having said that, the book is a good primer for the war. For people who have been paying attention for a while there might be little "news value" in the book, but it's the big picture of Iraq in one place and it's well-written.

I do want to highlight something, though, because it's proven to be an extremely detrimental modus operandi of the Bush administration. Fareed Zakaria, in yesterday's New York Times, reviewed the book and reminds us that we knew long before Hurricane Katrina and the nomination of Harriet Miers that this was an administration that relied on nothing more than the loyalty of cronies.
Packer describes an occupation that was focused more on rewarding confederates than gaining success on the ground. Garner received instructions from Feith and Wolfowitz to be nice to the Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi, who was a favorite of the Pentagon. State Department officials were barred from high posts in Baghdad, even when they were uniquely qualified. Senior jobs went to Feith's former law partner and to the brother of Ari Fleischer, Bush's press secretary. Friendly American firms like Halliburton were favored over local Iraqis.

Packer describes in microcosm something that has infected conservatism in recent years. Conservatives live in fear of being betrayed ideologically. They particularly distrust nonpartisan technocrats - experts - who they suspect will be seduced by the "liberal establishment." The result, in government, journalism and think tanks alike, is a profusion of second-raters whose chief virtue is that they are undeniably "sound."
American Conservative brought this up last week, too.
Some of the corruption grew out of the misguided neoconservative agenda for Iraq, which meant that a serious reconstruction effort came second to doling out the spoils to the war’s most fervent supporters. The CPA brought in scores of bright, young true believers who were nearly universally unqualified. Many were recruited through the Heritage Foundation website, where they had posted their résumés. They were paid six-figure salaries out of Iraqi funds, and most served in 90-day rotations before returning home with their war stories. One such volunteer was Simone Ledeen, daughter of leading neoconservative Michael Ledeen. Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training, she nevertheless became a senior advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad. Another was former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s older brother Michael who, though utterly unqualified, was named director of private-sector development for all of Iraq.
You may remember Simone's declaration that "war is hell" because it was tough on her wardrobe.

I know that conservatives have a fear of "elites," a description which they apply to anyone who has studied the matter at hand and disagrees with them (Limbaugh famously dismissed "elite" professors, media, doctors, lawyers, scientists and sociologists), but couldn't they just once take what they're doing seriously enough to rely on people who know what they're doing? Whether you supported the war or not, you have to wonder how many Iraqis have been sacrificed to the conservative fear of knowledge.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wolcott on V.D.H.

Ouch.
Like the neocons who think he's the hunkiest, Hanson urges Bush to broaden the war on terror and put a major hurting on Iran and Syria and any other tyranny in the region thwarting American aims. But he also wants Bush to fight a two-front war.

"George Bush also should begin addressing his most venomous critics at home, by condemning their current extremism. He must explain to the nation how a radical, vicious Left has more or less gotten a free pass in its rhetoric of hate, and has now passed the limits of accepted debate."

This will no doubt pass the limit of accepted debate, but allow me to part with the following sentiment: Fuck you, Victor Dave. The limits of accepted debate have already been trampled into mud and splinters by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, David Horowitz, Michelle Malkin, and the Swift Boaters, among others, about whose rhetorical extremes you've never made a peep. Moreover, this conflating of Howard Dean Democrats with Islamofascist hate speech is McCarthyism at its most unrefined. Truth is, Democrats have been remarkably watery and ineffectual when it comes to the Iraq war, as Arianna has lamented (and when a Greek goddess laments, it's like thunder from the mountaintop).

Hanson's use of the phrase "the limits of accepted debate"--he probably meant acceptable debate--has the authoritarian ring we've become used to on The O'Reilly Factor and other Fox news shows, where the word "treason" is thrown at every sharp note of dissent.
The whole thing is wonderful.

Friday, October 28, 2005

What will we tell the home-schooled, brainwashed, right-wing, little children?

Everyone forgets that in violating man's law, Scooter Libby is violating God's law as well by lying. As American hero Bill O'Reilly has told us, America is supposedly a Judeo-Christian nation, so shouldn't we be concerned that Libby violated the Eighth Commandment?

It's up to the fine Christians of America to help us make sure that the children of this country aren't scarred by this public official's lying. May I recommend that we turn to Dover, Penn., School Board member Bill Buckingham, who's currently working to get creationism taught in the schools there? A good Christian man like this could help us demonstrate to children how important honesty is to the nation and...

...um...

...never mind.

(Hat tip to The Questionable Authority.)

Important points

Of course it's good to remind people that Republicans who poo-poo perjury are being hypocritical, but there's something that's being overlooked. Clinton's alleged perjury* was tangential to the case at hand.

If Clinton lied about sex with Monica Lewinsky as he was said to have done, then that doesn't effect the truth of the charge against him vis-à-vis his dealings with Paula Jones. All it proves about Jones' case is, well, he couldn't have been harassing her while he was being fellated by Lewinsky. Yes, it might make him seem more likely to be a womanizer, etc., but it doesn't prove or disprove whether he waved his willy at Jones.

Fitzgerald pointed out in his indictment today that Libby's lies prevented him from getting to the truth of the matter at hand, therefore his crime is significantly worse than Clinton's, even before you point out that, at its worst, the Clinton perjury scandal never effected national security. As Fitzgerald said in his statement today, "It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown, it was known that there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it.

"And, given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts."


* "Alleged" because he wasn't convicted by the Senate.

O'Reilly threatening callers now?

Bill O'Reilly, noted coward (see here and here) now seems to be trying to scare off callers who oppose him. A caller talking about Valerie Plame merely mentioned Media Matters and O'Reilly went ballistic.
You're a nut. Ya know, that's the worst part of this job is the nuts. We should all go to his house, because I can do that. I can get his name and address from the phone records that we record. We should all show up at his house.
We should start a pool as to whether he's going to either retire or go out in a Novak-style profanity-spewing gasket-blowing. His only other option is actually facing his critics, but he's much to much of a pussy to do that. I think he fears someone going cough cough-falafel-cough, which would be followed by an explosion, the likes of which haven't been seen since the opening scene of Scanners.

Update: My commanding officer (in the blogosphere) has already mentioned the issue of O'Reilly's impending "abrupt cranial decompression".

Crutches

At the beginning of the week, we heard that Scooter Libby's notes proved Dick Cheney had been his source for Plame's identity.

This is a shot of him today. Now we know what happens when you make Cheney look bad.

Bush to get sued?

Paul Begala just reminded us of this case, which said it was the "law of the land" that a citizen could sue a sitting president. He said "Joe Wilson's going to sue."

Indictment

Libby's indictment: Here's the goods.

Money quote:




Click for larger image.

Update: Dems getting the message. Byron Dorgan (D-SD) just said this was the most important aspect of this issue. He's right. This is about national security, period. No Democrat should be arguing about Joe Wilson at all. If you must argue, just say that the administration already said that their Niger information was B.S. and apologized for it.
President Bush's deputy national security adviser on Tuesday became the second U.S. official to apologize for allowing a tainted intelligence report on Iraq's nuclear ambitions to find its way into a major speech by Bush before Congress in January.

Stephen Hadley, in a rare on-the-record session with reporters, said that he had received two memos from the CIA and a phone call from CIA Director George Tenet last October raising objections to an allegation that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore from Africa to use in building nuclear weapons.

As a result, Hadley said the offending passage was excised from a speech on Iraq the president gave in Cincinnati last Oct. 7. But Hadley suggested that details from the memos and phone call had slipped from his attention as top administration officials were putting together Mr. Bush's State of the Union address, given before a joint session of Congress in January...

Hadley is the top aide to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The controversial passage citing a British intelligence report "should have been taken out of the State of the Union," Hadley said. He said he was taking responsibility on behalf of the presidential staff just as Tenet had done for the CIA.
They weren't trying to "correct" Wilson, but attack him.

Choice

They're discussing, of course, the Plame leak indictments on CNN with Joe DiGenova. Wolf Blitzer says that DiGenova "knows a lot about these investigations" since he's a former prosecutor, but doesn't mention he and his wife were both rabid anti-Clintonites. DiGenova just said, my hand to God, that Bush messed up when he nominated John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Why? Because, as a political person, Ashcroft had to recuse himself from the case. DiGenova said that was bad because Bush lost control of choosing which crimes to prosecute and which crimes to not prosecute.

So much for the rule of law.

A Hack Flashback:
Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor, believes there is a simple definition for the rule of law that should apply in all cases, including the impeachment of the president.

"It means that the law transcends power and might and delivers a verdict regardless of the station in life of the accused, and humbles the mighty just the way the founders of the Constitution intended," he said. "It simply means that the president is accountable in the simple and most fundamental terms that our Constitution recognizes: telling the truth in a judicial proceeding, telling the truth to the Congress and not using his vast power to ruin people's lives to continue his own."

Mr. diGenova said he doubts that White House officials who sought to "undermine the rule of law" by preventing the disclosure of information believed that their actions would lead to impeachment. "The spin machine has met the raw power of the rule of law, and the rule of law has won," he said.
-"Both sides mention the 'rule of law'; While it's a simple concept, applying it is an altogether different story." The Washington Times. December 19, 1998. (Emphasis Nitpicker's)

Is Ronald Radosh a liar?

I'm still waiting for an answer to that question. The essays he claimed aren't his are still up on the Hudson Institute website. If a group I worked for had posted articles under my name that I did not write, I would be livid if they were still on the web 113 days later.

Mr. Radosh?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

BBBbbwwwwahhhahahaha!

It turns out that the day before Nitpicker noted Bill O'Reilly fit his own definition of a coward. He released a list of "weasels" who wouldn't come on his show.
O'REILLY: OK, here we go with the people who will not stand up and answer questions about their bomb-throwing statements. Now here's my philosophy so you know it: If you are going to put yourself out into the public arena and attack somebody, somebody, a person, a human being, OK, then you owe it morally -- you have a moral obligation to answer questions about the attack.

All right? Even if it is [President] Bush or Cheney or the big shots. You have a moral obligation to do that. If you don't, you're a coward. You're a coward. Because if you're going to attack somebody, no matter how you do it, then you have to be man or woman enough to stand up and defend the attack. Otherwise, you're a weasel. You know weasels run out of their little holes, and they run around, and they bite chickens or whatever they're doing, and they run back in their hole.
As of this writing, O'Reilly hasn't added his own name to the list, even though he has repeatedly smeared Media Matters for America (twice in his last two shows!) and refuses to debate them.

O'Reilly is just simply a pussy.

The Soul of Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson writes today that, yes, 2000 soldiers have died in Iraq, but A) that’s really not that many; B) Americans only care about that number because we’re soft and; C) it’s all the media’s fault.

I admire some of Hanson’s earlier books. I read The Soul of Battle in a class once and thought his description and defense of Sherman was brilliant. In the past few years, though, I have watched him sliding into blather; he has become a self-contradicting waterboy for a crowd of hawks who, well, might not have fucked up so much if they’d actually read some of his earlier works. (Or Barbara Tuchman’s. Or Liddell Hart’s. Unfortunately, the only strategy that concerns them is political. Thucydides may be a stranger to them, but Machiavelli they turn to as to an old friend.)

What was brilliant about Hanson’s writing was that he showed readers how the so-called “butterfly effect” worked historically. An acquaintance of mine—who, like Hanson, has spent some time teaching in a military academy’s history department—lamented V.D.H.’s lost focus to me in a recent e-mail, writing that “what is sad these days is how much (Hanson) has lost one of his early insights, namely, that he unintended and unexpected consequences often have greater historical impact over the longer run.” This is being generous, actually. I think what is sad is that Hanson has decided to continue to serve as the Bushies’ academic Aquarius at the expense of any semblance of intellectual integrity. I hope that, whatever he has gained from his foray into Republican advocacy, it was worth the cost of his credibility and scholarly reputation.

Consider this, from today’s op-ed.
Television and the global news media have changed the perception of combat fatalities as well. CNN would have shown a very different Iwo Jima - bodies rotting on the beach, and probably no coverage of the flag-raising from Mount Suribachi. It is conventional wisdom now to praise the amazing accomplishment of June 6, 1944. But a few ex tempore editorial comments from Geraldo Rivera or Ted Koppel, reporting live from the bloody hedgerows where the Allied advance stalled not far from the D-Day beaches - a situation rife with intelligence failures, poor equipment and complete surprise at German tactics - might have forced a public outcry to withdraw the forces from the Normandy "debacle" before it became a "quagmire."
Not only is this not an argument, but it’s all but stolen from one of Hanson’s fellow travelers, David Gelernter. When Gelernter made his comments, I said that this was a ridiculous argument. You cannot compare the motivations of troops and their supporters who can see the possibility of an endgame with those of a people facing an interminable and inexplicable war. Hanson himself has said as much.
The American military fights best when it is asked to keep on the move and go from point A and end at point B. The very idea that troops “were going to Baghdad” was worth a division — like “on to Germany” or “Next stop, Tokyo” and, tragically, so unlike “on to nowhere” in a static Vietnam.
Hanson also hopes that you don’t know anything about the media in World War II. In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually decided to treat Americans as adults. The War Department lifted restrictions on photos of American losses. They argued that Americans needed to get a more complete picture of the war. Photos of wounded soldiers began appearing in newspapers and magazines. Hanson might say that there’s a qualitative difference between nearly real-time television news and the print media of the 1940s and I would agree. CNN and Fox News work in a fractured media environment and will never achieve the power that Life magazine once wielded. Everyone read Life.

Today, newspapers are losing their readership at an increasing pace and broadcast media are beginning to see a slip in their ratings as well. That Fox News continues to lead the cable news pack is further proof that Hanson’s thesis is flawed. Consider that it has a larger number of viewers and cheerleads around the clock for the Iraq war, yet has not kept American opinion from souring on Bush’s adventure.

Also, we may remember the wartime reporting of Edward R. Murrow’s peers as entirely supportive, but by the standards of today’s self-appointed media watchdogs they would be accused of treason. Charlotte’s Web author and journalist E.B. White chafed at the early censorship of the military and had the gall to once write, “In a free country, it is the duty of writers to pay no attention to duty. Only under a dictatorship is literature expected to exhibit an harmonious design or an inspirational tone."

Ernie Pyle’s most famous and oft-quoted piece is called "The Death of Captain Waskow.” An excerpt.
Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed to the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden packsaddles, their heads hanging down on the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking awkwardly from the other side. bobbing up and down as the mule walked…

We went out into the road. Four mules stood there, in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them stood there waiting. "This one is Captain Waskow," one of them said quietly.

Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the low stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally there were five lying end to end in a long row, alongside the road. You don't cover up dead men in the combat zone. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else comes after them.

The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.
Can you imagine that article appearing anywhere today? Those, like Hanson, who have blamed the press (at least in part) for the debacle their war has become, would be beside themselves. John Hinderaker wrote this a couple of months ago.
News reporting on the war consists almost entirely of itemizing casualties. Headlines say: "Two Marines killed by roadside bomb." Rarely do the accompanying stories--let alone the headlines that are all that most people read--explain where the Marines were going, or why; what strategic objective they and their comrades were pursuing, and how successful they were in achieving it; or how many terrorists were also killed...

The sins of the news media in reporting on Iraq are mainly sins of omission. Not only do news outlets generally fail to report the progress that is being made, and often fail to put military operations into any kind of tactical or strategic perspective, they assiduously avoid talking about the overarching strategic reason for our involvement there…
Doesn't it reflect badly on the purpose of the war in Iraq that, three years later, most people don't even know why we're there? Do you think that Ernie Pyle needed to explain to the American people why we were fighting in World War II? Do you think that the Roosevelt administration had 27 different reasons to fight the Germans or the Japanese? Could the press have dismantled his single reason?

It's doubtful. Americans are notoriously willing to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt. James W. Loewen reminded us just how willing in Lies My Teacher Told Me (p. 306):
In late spring 1966, just before we began bombing Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam, Americans split 50/50 as to whether we should bomb these targets. After the bombing began, 85 percent favored the bombing while only 15 percent opposed. The sudden shift was the result, not the cause, of the government's decision to bomb. The same allegiance and socialization processes operated again when policy changed in the opposite direction. In 1968 war sentiment was waning; but 51 percent of Americans opposed a bombing halt, partly because the United States was still bombing North Vietnam. A month later, after President Johnson announced a bombing halt, 71 percent favored the halt. Thus 23 percent of our citizens changed their minds within a month, mirroring the shift in government policy.
Is it likely that the tone of press coverage shifted that much in a month? No.

Americans want to know why their soldiers are fighting and dying and, by God, they expect to not be lied to about it. Even if Bush had 27 reasons for invading Iraq, we only heard about, say, 24 of them after the fighting had begun. Victor Davis Hanson has argued that this is an improper view of history. It's all so much more complicated than we wish it were.
Had we acted wisely in Vietnam…the Gulf of Tonkin legislation would be seen instead as an irrelevant if improper effort to prompt needed action to save millions from Communism rather than the disingenuous catalyst that led to quagmire.

Again, this is not to suggest the ends justify the means, but rather to acknowledge that there are always deeper reasons to go to war than what lawyers, diplomats, and politicians profess. Those underlying factors are ultimately judged as moral or immoral by history's unforgiving logic of how, and for what reason, the war was waged — and what were its ultimate results.
It could be argued, however, that such relativist arguments don’t work well for countries fighting wars of choice. In fact, that argument has already been written.
In war, clarity of purpose—which is not a relative construct—counts for everything…
Personally, I think that’s both oversimplifying and overstating the case, but it’s not my argument. It’s Victor Davis Hanson’s.

He directly opposed relativism in “The Tyranny of ‘But,’” one of the first essays Hanson wrote for The National Review, in which he argued it was a plague upon our nation.
The conjunction BUT, in discussions about the current war, has become endemic in the year since the victory in Afghanistan. So are its wishy-washy siblings of American conversation — the kindred "although," "however," and "nevertheless." A few experts employ the more formal "on the one hand… on the other hand…." "One could argue" is another, though weaker, method of qualification.

The current proliferation of these words reflects the popularity of equivocation, of covering all bets. Or maybe it is deeper — proof of an insidious relativism that now infects our thinking generally. There must be various explanations why so many of us cannot flat-out distinguish between right and wrong, smart and dumb, evil and good, or stasis and action — period…
He goes on to list the ways that so many Americans used BUT to argue against the war: I am no fan of Saddam Hussein, BUT…, Remove Saddam? Sure, BUT…*

I admit to using this “equivocation” myself a few times. My use was slightly different though. It went something like If Saddam Hussein has weapons then we should take him out, BUT Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell said he didn’t have any. Or, Yes, we should have kept after Saddam when we could have prevented him from filling mass graves in the early 1990s, BUT now I’m worried that we might cause more Iraqi deaths than we’d prevent.

Again, I must mention E.B. White, who wrote about loss of life once, "Living in a sanitary age, we are getting so we place too high a value on human life — which rightfully must always come second to human ideas." You’d almost think that White would support Hanson’s feelings about the body count in Iraq, that he would join Hanson in saying that 2000+ dead soldiers is a small amount in the grand scheme of things.

White, however, believed that ideas needed to remain consistent. I doubt he would have taken very kindly to Hanson ranting about equivocation only to write a week later that (Emphasis Nitpicker's):
Perhaps we will never have 100-percent proof of Saddam Hussein's direct connection with terrorists who use weapons of mass destruction until we are hit; but

Third, it is necessary in a free society to audit and question the government. But…

We must be vigilant about our civil liberties, but…

We must worry about collateral damage in war and will always strive to prevent civilian deaths, but...
And let me only briefly mention that for all his claims of “moral clarity” and arguments against relativism over the past three years, he was awfully quick to tell us after the Abu Ghraib photos were released that
without minimizing the seriousness of these apparent transgressions, we need to take a breath, get a grip, and put the sordid incident in some perspective…we must keep the allegations in some sort of historical context. Even at their worst, these disturbing incidents are not comparable to past atrocities such as the June 1943 killing of prisoners in Sicily, the machine-gunning of civilians at the No Gun Ri railway bridge in Korea, or My Lai.
Does Hanson remember that he was against relativism before he was for it?

(As an added irony, Hanson urged us to relax and rely on the “self-correcting mechanisms of the U.S. government and the American free press.”)

Hanson had a suggestion to do away with the “insidious relativism” of guys like me.
To dethrone the reign of BUT, I suggest a revolution led by therefore — a better adverb which follows from, rather than sidesteps or elides, the truth:

Saddam Hussein murders his own, attacks others, and threatens us; therefore let us remove him.
In the end, I’m all for this new age of logic and reason which follows from truth and the facts. The fact is, Victor Davis Hanson wrote the following:
February 7, 2003: (I)f it comes to war, we will win and most likely win quickly. We will be safer — and Iraq immediately a better place — for our efforts. And we can at least say that we did not leave a madman with frightening weapons in an age of mass murder for our children to deal with.

March 18, 2003: The fact is that U.S. Marines will find more deadly weapons in the first hours of war than the U.N. did in three months.

April 17, 2003: In the aftermath of the incredible three-and-a-half week victory we should not post facto make the mistake of assuming that Operation Iraqi Freedom was necessarily an easy task.
You must, of course, read more.

Here’s my simple, non-waffling statement: Victor Davis Hanson has proven to be foolish, intellectually dishonest and wrong in his every prediction, therefore the man should never be taken seriously ever again.


* This argument against relativism was gleefully stolen by all manner of conservatives. In Deliver Us From Evil, Sean Hannity wrote:
Even when (liberals) can bring themselves to acknowledge the brutality of a venal tyrant such as Saddam Hussein, they qualify it. “We are not denying that Saddam is a repressive dictator,” they say, “but we don’t believe we should have attacked Iraq without giving him more time to comply with U.N. resolutions.” For the appeasement-minded liberals of our country, there’s always a “but.”
Quotation marks, huh? Then someone must have said that, right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bill O'Reilly: Hiding under his desk

Despite numerous requests by David Brock, founder and CEO of Media Matters, to defend attacks against his organization, Bill O'Reilly not only refuses to debate Brock, but also continues to smear him and his organization. Last night, O'Reilly had two conservatives on his program and they all three bashed Media Matters repeatedly.

O'Reilly, by his own definition is a coward. Here's a sampling of O'Reilly's statments to that effect.
Finally, the mail...

John Wright, "The Herald Journal," Logan, Utah, "I graduated from one of the best journalism schools in the country, the University of Florida. You, Bill, are not a journalist. You spew propaganda.

"For example, you said the journalism professors from Rutgers and Lehigh were cowards because they would not come on THE FACTOR. That's not true. Maybe they simply didn't want to appear."

Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Wright. If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward. Wise up, sir.

-January 5, 2004

George Clooney's new movie, "Good Night and Good Luck," which is very good, by the way, chronicles the struggle between journalists Edward R. Murrow and communist hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy in the '50s.

Writing in the New York Daily News, critic Jack Matthews opined, "Bill O'Reilly might have made a perfect McCarthy. He looks like him and could play him with conviction."

…So will the real Joe McCarthy please stand up? Sorry, I know it's hard for Matthews to do that, hiding under his desk. We asked him to be on the program.

-September 26, 2005

Well, this is rich, pardon the pun, because Frank-baby has dodged any and all interviews that would challenge his hateful point-of- view. Remember, Rich is the guy who assassinated Mel Gibson's character, and Gibson isn't the only one.

So, here's a personal note from me to you, Frank: At least your far-left colleague, Paul Krugman, had the guts to face me. You are a cowardly smear merchant who uses a newspaper column to promote defamation under the guise of opinion. You are intelligently dishonest and absurdly vicious. And here's an example of the dishonesty:

In the same girlie man column, Rich writes, quote: "Fox has given priceless nonstop hype to (Swift Boat) commercials that otherwise would not have been seen only in seven small to medium markets."

…John Kerry and George W. Bush are both patriots, they don't deserve to be smeared or called despicable names by anyone. Let them slug it out over the issues and let the real cowards, like Frank Rich, be shunned. And that's a memo.

-September 7, 2004

All right, again, that's an hour interview on CNBC, and you might want to watch that. In addition to The New York Times, the Daytona Beach News Journal calls the Fox News Channel "closer to propaganda or parody than news." We called them up. These people are hiding.

A columnist in the Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky accuses me of being unfair to France of all places. A writer in the Dallas Morning News, Chris Wagner, outright lies about my interview with the son of a 9/11 victim. And the Miami Herald printed a column by Edward Wasserman, a professor of journalism, that is blatantly dishonest.

None of the above people would defend their work on this program. We have called, and called, and called. However, joining us now from Los Angeles is Alex Ben Block, the editor of Television Week, who has written a column saying that Fox ignores some of the writers who are critical of it.

All right, now, look, you can understand that this network, under fire almost on a daily basis from the liberal media, primarily, which, for whatever reason, doesn't like us -- and it's more than ideological, I think, but it could be just that -- you can understand why our publicists here and our people here really don't want to give them very much, can't you?

…But we want to persuade people, all people, that we are a fair operation here, that we -- you know, you just heard the guy Krugman saying, "Oh, they get memos," you know. What he's doing is he's taking this from a smear movie that, cut and paste, all this kind of propaganda. Sure, Fox News issues a morning briefing -- every network does, all right.

This isn't unusual, but he takes it in the way the smear merchants want him to take it because he's a puppet. Now, if Krugman wants to come on THE FACTOR and debate, I'll take him all day long. If Krugman wants to roam around the building, I'm not letting him in, because we're not going to get a fair shake from him. And that's, I think, the point here.

…I mean, my point of view is decidedly different than Greta Van Susteren, coming up an hour after I get off, and it's decidedly different than Brit Hume. And so, what is presented by some journalists is that this is a propaganda parody, and that Daytona paper is -- disgraceful editorial. And when you ask them to come on and defend it, they won't. They're cowards.

So when the Daytona paper calls me and wants to follow me around for two days, I'm going to say no. I'm not going to let them in the building, and you objected to that, and I didn't understand why you did.

-August 5, 2004

The propaganda is now a high stakes show. John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, has actually formed a corporation that shapes and distributes propaganda. Incredible. Speaking to go a group of liberal activists, Podesta was asked what can be done about news outlets that tell lies. Podesta answered, it's time to sue Bill O'Reilly.

Well, that's just cheap. Have I told any lies, sir? Why don't you come right on this program and produce some proof of that? And if you don't, you're a coward and a sleazy propagandist who deserves to be scorned.

-June 4, 2004

Now "The New York Times" is attacking Fox News by legitimizing rank propaganda. Today film reviewer A.O. Scott, who loved the Moore movie, gleefully attacked FNC using the distorted work of an ultra liberal filmmaker. By the way, that guy's so-called movie was called anything but fair and balanced by "The Chicago Trib."

...Of course A.O. Scott is hiding under his desk. We called him tonight. Come on the program. Oh, no. Can't do that. He's a coward as well as a propagandist.

So enough's enough. And I am issuing this challenge directly to "The New York Times." I will debate any "Times" editor or columnist on the Charlie Rose PBS program. I talked with Mr. Rose this morning. He's happy to moderate such an event. So I'm calling these sleazy guys out. We'll let you know what happens. Do you think they'll show up? Yes, sure. And that's the memo.

-July 20, 2004

Elites don't debate, they attack and marginalize. We invited Frank Rich on this program tonight because he declines. He's hiding under his desk. Rich typifies how the elites operate. I'd be pleased to debate this man on the merits of his arguments, but that would be beneath him.

In reality, he's a coward. In his mind, he's enlightened.


-March 8, 2004

O'REILLY: But, Professor Navasky, what you're missing is -- you're missing that (Jack Lule, chairman of the journalism department at Lehigh University) and (Rutgers University journalism professor Steven) Miller and all of these other cowards who make these erroneous statements and won't back them up by coming in here and talking about them are basically telling their students in big schools -- Rutgers is a big school, all right -- that the Fox News Channel is not worthy, it's not journalism, it's garbage and ignore it. And that, sir, is dishonest and doesn't serve the student well.

VICTOR NAVASKY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY JOURNALISM PROFESSOR: OK. First of all, I don't know that you know that they're cowards, and secondly...

O'REILLY: Yes, we know. We gave them...

NAVASKY: And secondly...

O'REILLY: We gave them any time they could appear.

-December 19, 2003

Well what makes -- say you're right and the NASA chiefs, I mean this Dan Golden was a coward. We tried to get him on. He hid under his desk. And you know, everybody's laying it on him.

-August 26, 2003

In the "Personal Story" Segment tonight, the district attorney in Brooklyn, New York, is a man named Charles Hynes. He has held that position since 1989.

Recently, he charged 27-year-old Ronald Dixon with possessing an illegal weapon after Dixon shot a career burglar who broke into his home, was menacing his children. We thought that was outrageous.

But not as outrageous as what Mr. Hynes did next. He allowed his prosecutors to cut a deal with 28-year-old Tarajee Davis who scalded her 4- year-old daughter to death last year.

…And he's a coward. He's a coward because we gave him months. This story was on the board before the war, Niger. All right. We bumped it because of the war. We gave Hynes months to come up with his side of the story, explain it to us, tell us what happened, why he did it, and, you know, he gave us the finger. That's what he did.

-April 24, 2003

O'REILLY: Yesterday, the largest newspaper in Connecticut, The Hartford Courant editorialized this way. "Along with punishment, predators need treatment.One-size-fits-all legislation unfairly stigmatizes offenders without protecting children."

The guy who wrote it, Bill Williams, declined to appear with us this evening, but joining us from Hartford is Rich Hanley, who teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University. And from Boston, attorney and child advocate Wendy Murphy.

…There's no other paper that competes with it in circulation. And Connecticut is a small state. So it basically sends a message to the legislators don't do this, don't put in Jessica's Law, we don't like it and on and on.

But I don't know if that's going to fly in Connecticut, I really don't. I think the paper is making a big mistake. And obviously, they're running. They won't put anybody up to defend this editorial. Were you surprised about that, professor?

HANLEY: The Courant is a fine newspaper with some great reporters. I was really, really stunned to hear that no one from their editorial page would come and defend the editorial that they wrote.

O'REILLY: No, they won't. And the publisher, Jack Davis, he's running. He's hiding under his desk, too. You know, look...

HANLEY: There is an obligation, I think, to defend a position.

O'REILLY: There is.

-September 13, 2005

So Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and you would assume President Clinton, knew that Usama bin Laden was on the attack, yet the USA allowed him to operate in Afghanistan without sanction.

Now we contacted Warren Christopher and he refused to comment. I believe Congress should compel the man to speak by issuing him a subpoena.

At this point, it looks like Christopher was derelict in his duty. And he is a coward if he does not explain the situation.

-August 17, 2005

In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight, add Kentucky to the growing list of states that are trying to pass Jessica's Law, which would impose tough minimum prison terms against adults who sexually abuse children.

…(New Hampshire) Governor John Lynch says he's committed to a tough new law, but the state's largest newspaper, the Union Leader, is now convinced Jessica's Law is the right way to go -- is not the way to go, I should say, editorializing, quote, "What is right for Florida might not be right for New Hampshire, and that goes for laws as well as coral-colored homes and flip-flops in November."

It goes on to point out that it costs a lot to do background checks and the like. The publisher of the "Union Leader, Joseph McQuaid and editorial writer Drew Cline declined to come on "The Factor" this evening…

And now we've got the Manchester paper who says they're not -- again, they gave us a statement but they wouldn't come on. That just drives me nuts. Not because they have to come on my show. It's because if you're going to make an editorial that says Jessica's Law may not be right for this state, then come on and defend your position. Don't be a coward.

-August 22, 2005

O'REILLY: In the "Impact" segment tonight, the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper doesn't like much our reporting on its failure to get behind the Jessica Lunsford Act, which would establish mandatory minimum sentences for child sexual predators.

…OK, my problem with your newspaper is that you're not proactive in trying to rectify a terrible situation. Did you know that your state, the granite state, a state I love, cannot even -- does not even keep statistics on children assaulted by adults? Did you know that?

JOE MCQUAID. PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER OF N.H. UNION LEADER: No, I was unaware of that, Mr. O'reilly.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCQUAID: I think you're picking on the wrong newspaper and the wrong...

O'REILLY: No, I'm not. You're the largest newspaper in the state. And you're not proactive.....

MCQUAID: So what?

O'REILLY: ...in getting the kids protected. Go ahead.

MCQUAID: That's nonsense. That's nonsense. New Hampshire has what is called a truth in sentencing law specifically precisely because of The Union Leader.

This happened in the 1990's. Before that sentence was given down and people assumed that the sentence was going to be served, but it was like seven months out of a year of the sentence.

O'REILLY: Well, that's good. That's nice.

MCQUAID: Time off for good behavior.

O'REILLY: I'm not saying you're an evil newspaper.

MCQUAID: That's very nice.

…We do not go by your schedule, Mr. O'Reilly. And speaking of personal attacks, you called me and my newspaper a coward the other night.

O'REILLY: Yes, because we didn't - for not coming on.

MCQUAID: ...go by your schedule to go on your show.

O'REILLY: You didn't come on.

MCQUAID: Huh?

O'REILLY: You didn't come on.

MCQUAID: You didn't come on when it pleased you. I'm here now.

O'REILLY: No, no, wait a minute. Hold it. No, no, no, no. Mr. McQuaid, if you're going to attack me in your newspaper, which you have for the last few days...

MCQUAID: Yes, because you attacked us.

O'REILLY: ...then you have an obligation to speak face-to-face as we're doing now.

MCQUAID: We didn't attack you until you called us a coward on your program.

-August 24, 2005

We need high-caliber people in Congress, and Gary Condit fails that litmus test miserably. When approached by a Fox News reporter a few days ago, Condit snapped, "I don't talk to tabloids." Well, Gary, you don't talk to grieving parents and frustrated investigators either. What a disgrace.

Condit, of course, would never appear in a media forum where he would be taken to task. He is a true coward.

-March 5, 2002

O'REILLY: It was a dishonest column.

MICHAEL KINSLEY: Now, wait.

O'REILLY: A hit piece. And you're a coward for writing it. I'll give you...

KINSLEY: Wait a minute.

O'REILLY: ... the last word.

KINSLEY: What you said was, in your commentary, that I had been invited on your show many times, and was a coward for not showing up.

O'REILLY: Correct.

KINSLEY: Well, let me tell you, as far as I know, I have never been invited on your show before...

O'REILLY: Then you get...

KINSLEY: ... until this column appeared.

O'REILLY: ... you need a new secretary.

KINSLEY: And, and, and, your, your producer called and was told that I was out of town on vacation, which was true, and you go and call me a coward. Look, I debated Pat Buchanan for many years on "Crossfire." I do not need to be afraid of Bill O'Reilly.

-March 20, 2001

In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, accepting advertisements for abortion providers but rejecting pro-life ads. That's what the New York Transportation Authority apparently is doing.

This pro-life ad was rejected by the MTA, no coherent reason for the rejection has been put forth, and the MTA big shots would not come on THE FACTOR to explain. This is especially troubling because the MTA has posted ads in subways and buses for abortion providers.

… And neither do we. We've called and gotten the runaround, as everybody else has, from the heroes at the MTA who are cowards. I'll say that right up there. They're cowardly.

-June 15, 2000

A follow-up report on the case of Marie Noe. She's the 70-year-old Philadelphia woman who confessed to killing her eight babies. She smothered them. She got parole. The deal was made with the Philadelphia DA's office. Noe would plead guilty. No jail time.

Now we contacted Lynn Abraham (ph), the DA involved, and Charles Gallagher (ph) who prosecuted the case. Both declined to be interviewed. And not in a nice way either. "No, we're not coming on." Both are cowards, in my opinion. Not just because they didn't show up, but because they have a responsibility to tell the people of the United States how this happened.

-July 9, 1999

A couple of weeks ago, after another ridiculous anti-Fox News article, actually, it was a movie review, I called the editors of "The Times" out, saying I would debate them anywhere, any time. They did not answer the call, hiding under their desks.

-August 9, 2004

Finally tonight, the mail…

Darryl Matheson, Elgin, Scotland: "Bill, if you were unhappy with Gavin Esler's interview of Jane Fonda, you can make a complaint. You shouldn't criticize the BBC without giving them a chance to respond."

Mr. Esler was invited on "The Factor," sir, as we said yesterday. He is hiding under his desk. I hope someone is bringing him food.

- July 12, 2005

"The Factor" follow-up segment tonight, as we've been reporting, the criminal justice system regarding crimes against children seems to have broken down in the state of Florida. Last night, we told you the Tampa judge Walter Buzzy Heinrich allowed convicted violent rapist David Onstott to walk out of court posting $100 cash bond after the man did not register as a sex offender.

…We will, of course, stay on this story. And we have put in lots of calls to this Judge Heinrich. He's hiding under his desk.

- April 19, 2005

(Y)ou may remember that liberal "Philadelphia Inquirer" columnist John Grogan chastised me over the Villanova controversy. We then invited Grogan on the program. He sent back this reply: "Thank you for the invite. Unfortunately, I am unable to do this tonight."

OK. We get rejections like that all the time, and our standard reply is the person is hiding under his or her desk. You've heard me say that. Well, Grogan writes today that I was lying, he was not hiding under his desk, he just had something else to do. I'm lying? Another example of a complete distortion by a writer who should know better.

By the way, we've invited Grogan on next week. Hopefully, his desk will not be an issue because that would be ridiculous.

- February 11, 2005

And finally tonight, the mail…

Ed Kraus, Berlinsville, Pennsylvania: "Bill, I was amazed to hear about the radical organizations that George Soros is funding. When are you going to invite him on THE FACTOR?" Well, we have many times, Mr. Kraus. But Soros prefers to hide under his desk and hire character assassins to do his bidding. He is the big gun behind the radical movement in America.

- July 22, 2004

O'REILLY: In the "unresolved problem" segment tonight, one of the problems in Iraq is that everybody it seems has a gun, including American civilians. You may remember four American security men were brutally killed in Fallujah. They were members of the Blackwater U.S.A. Company.

Joining us now from Boise, Idaho is Dick Couch. He knows all about Blackwater and is the author of the book, "The Finishing School." Mr. Couch is a former Navy Seal...

COUCH: Well, I think varying security contractors should be vetting their people to make sure that they have their requisite skills to do this. And it leads to bad situations if they don't have the training or they're not given the training. I mean, that's...

O'REILLY: Yes. See, I don't know what the bad situations are. And I'll tell you why. We asked the president of Blackwater to come on. He is hiding under his desk someplace. He is not coming on.

- April 19, 2004

NAACP chairman Julian Bond doesn't like Republicans very much. Here's what he said last night. "Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side....They draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics. Now they want to write bigotry back into the Constitution."

Well, general, bomb throwing like that is entertaining, but pretty much useless. We wanted to ask Mr. Bond what exactly he's talking about, but he is hiding under his desk.

- June 3, 2004

Time now for the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." I hate to dwell on this Michael Moore business but I keep getting dragged into it. Writing in the "New York Daily News" today, left wing movie critic Jack Matthews actually compares me to the bomb-thrower.

Quote: "Moore, the sparkplug of Flint, and O'Reilly, The Factor flash are both ideological thugs who play loose with the facts while fostering hatred in an increasingly polarized country."

Well, that's a provocative statement. So we called Matthews, inviting him to explain exactly where I played loose with the facts. Somehow I guess old Jack couldn't reach the phone while hiding under his desk. He just couldn't do it. The best place to hide from thugs, of course, is under your desk. Ridiculous? Depends on your definition of a man. Real men do not criticize people behind their backs. They do it, Jack Matthews, face-to-face. OK, pal?

- June 23, 2004

O'REILLY: How many students are there that complained and objected, do you know?

SUSAN WAGLE (R), KANSAS STATE SENATOR: Well, on the Senate floor, I put out four documents from students who complained to officials at the University of Kansas, and then in addition to that, I have a number of e-mails from students who have complained about the class…

O'REILLY: All right, it was a rather -- and I might tell everybody, it was a rather quick investigation of this guy. I mean, it was, what, less than a week?

WAGLE: Yes. And, Bill, I was told they were going to appoint a committee. So, I didn't think that they would come out with...

O'REILLY: Yes, there was one guy, and this guy is -- he's hiding under his desk, David Shulenburger. Do you know this guy Shulenburger? He headed the...

WAGLE: Well, I did try to call him on the phone, and we just crossed wires. We haven't been able to talk.

O'REILLY: OK, so we can say, I think, with honesty, that this wasn't a very aggressive or probing investigation. But the university has one thing on their side, Senator. This professor is extraordinary popular with the students who take his class.

- May 14, 2003

O'REILLY: Now I've been very critical of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue for not taking aggressive action to condemn the all-white prom. Last night, the governor's spokesperson Kim King spun it this way.

Well, joining us now from Atlanta is Neal Boortz, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio program and who was critical of me today.

So, Neal, I'm against the prom, and I'm for Georgia's elected officials speaking out against it -- leadership -- and you're on... You're on my case? What's that all about?

BOORTZ: No, you're not. You're not for Georgia letting -- you want Sonny Perdue to be on your timetable. I want to apologize to you for the people of Georgia because our governor did not make himself available to you whenever you deem that to be necessary.

O'REILLY: Oh, stop it. He had five days to make a comment. He could have talked to the Associated Press.

BOORTZ: Bill.

O'REILLY: He could have talked to you. He talks to nobody. He's hiding under his desk.

BOORTZ: It's a private party.

O'REILLY: He's hiding under his desk.

- May 7, 2003

Tomorrow the Kansas legislature will vote again on whether to withhold funds from the University of Kansas for allowing a tenured professor to go wild in the classroom. Dr. Dennis Dailey is accused of using porn movies, graphic slides of naked children, crude language, and sexually insulting remarks to his students to teach his class in human sexuality.

…The School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas gets $3 million every year of taxpayer money, and the legislature may cut that off. However, Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the last attempt to rein Dailey in and may do the same thing this time.

The governor has refused THE FACTOR's request for a statement but has said in the past, she believes Dailey's activities are covered by academic freedom.

The chancellor of the university, Robert Hemingway, is hiding under his desk and has been for quite some time.

- April 30, 2003

And finally tonight, the mail…

Matt Costello, Toronto, Ohio: "O'Reilly, you say you don't personally attack people, but I've heard you call some folks cowards." Legitimate point, Mr. Costello. In some cases, I must describe people for whom they are, and sometimes, that's harsh.

-July 28, 2004
There are more examples, but I believe the point is made.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The numbers of the dead

Today the 2000th American died in Iraq. I don't understand what it is that affects us when things like this happen, when the numbers on the counter all roll up at once and we've reached a new place. It's not just one more soldier, but one more thousand soldiers who've died since the last time this happened.

Is it arbitrary? Yes. I admit that.

But numbers have power and different ones affect us in different ways. Remember the year 2000? Remember how ninnies told us that it wasn't really a new millenium and that would start, officially, in 2001? They were right but who cares? All those zeros, the 2K, the MM, those had an emotional effect on people that MMI never would. Does anyone remember a 2001 end of the world cult? Nope. I didn't think so.

Those who support the war, however, want these numbers to mean nothing. Ignore the calendar and the tick marks you've scratched, they say, they're just numbers.
The spokesman for the American-led multinational force called on news organizations not to look at the 2,000 death as a milestone in the conflict. Lt. Col. Steve Boylan described 2,000 figure as an "artificial mark on the wall."

"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan said in an e-mail. "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."
Well, he's partially right, except it's not an "artificial mark." There are 2000 dead Americans who wouldn't be dead if we hadn't gone to Iraq. That makes that a very real mark. It's the truth, it's unquestioned, it's not artificial.

Is it used by people with specific agendas? You fucking bet your ass it is, Colonel. Just like the conservatives who have been saying for that "3000 Americans were killed" on 9/11 every time someone questions why it is they so badly want to torture people.

Are those motives ulterior? Do you know what "ulterior" means? It means they're not telling you what their true intentions are. Do you think that's the case for AntiWar.com? Is their message too subtle for you? Here's a hint: They're against...something. Alternately, the Wage Peace Campaign say they are for something. Are you seeing the pattern here? Are their motives becoming clearer to you, sir?

Today, those who support this war say, aw, hell, we think one soldier's too many, but, really, 2000 aren't all that many. They say "being in the military is a high-risk enterprise" and a lot of those deaths shouldn't even count because they were accidents. With helicopters. They say that those of us who don't like this war--in other words, a majority of Americans--think soldiers are "semi-retarded victims, children really, who were duped into signing up." They say the soldiers are all volunteers who get paid to put their asses on the line and that people like me don't really care about them (even though, of course, I'm in the Guard and could still be one of them any day, my recent deployment to Afghanistan notwithstanding). No, they say people like me only our base political motivations.

They're good at saying a lot of things that are desperately, embarrassingly, painfully and wrenchingly stupid. They're good at assigning motives while avoiding investigations of their own.

Here's what I say.

As you go to sleep tonight, hawks, roll that number around in your head. Imagine 2000 people gone from your town, your church, your kids' high school.

Your military.

Then imagine that you're not explaining your motives for war to Sgt. Alfredo Silva, the 2000th person to die in your adventure. Imagine that you're explaining your motives to Marine 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, the first two men to die in combat in the country. Explain to those men all that we know now about Iraq and, honestly, should have known then. Tell them there were no WMDs.

Tell them why they're dead.

Your war wasn't worth the lives of 2000 Americans. It wasn't worth one. Period.

Are Kansans getting tired of crazy?

The switch is on. A long-time Republican in Kansas has switched parties to run for Attorney General.
Johnson County district attorney Paul Morrison made it official this morning: He will challenge incumbent Phill Kline for Kansas attorney general next year.

And he’ll do it as a Democrat.

Morrison made the announcement on the steps of the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe. Other press conferences were scheduled today in Wichita, Topeka and Pittsburg.

Although never mentioning Kline by name, Morrison said it was time to put the office of attorney general in the hands of a prosecutor and not a politician.

“As attorney general, I’ll insist we get that office back to the basics: safety, security, and the kind of independent approach Kansans ought to be able to expect from the state’s chief law enforcement officer,” said Morrison, who previously has been affiliated with the Republican Party...

Asked about his switch from a Republican to a Democrat, Morrison said there wasn’t a Democratic or Republican way to prosecute a case and said he would take a bipartisan approach to running the office.

“This is a deeply personal decision for me that has been a long time in the making,” he said. “In fact, this decision to do this is something I’ve been pondering well in excess of a year.”

Morrison said he believed the focus of the Democratic Party in Kansas was better on the issue of public safety “and I feel most comfortable with it.”
Have "moderate" or "mainstream" Republicans in Kansas finally realized that the Republican Party no longer represents their values? Are they sick of IOKIYAR non-investigations and backdoor attacks on choice? Could this be the beginning of a flood of party defections as when, in the 1960s, racist Democrats like Helms and Thurmond realized that the Republican party had become the party for them? We'll see.

Nitpicking Pruden

The substance of the B.S. column Wes Pruden smeared on his newspaper today has already been dismantled here, but I wanted to point out another, smaller idiocy. The man even lies about his likes and dislikes.
Mr. Fitzgerald, the Chicago D.A. who got the Plame assignment two years ago and has spent upwards of $2 million in pursuit of the ham sandwich, wants to indict Karl Rove, the president's campaign guru, or I. (for Irving) Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff. But to get an indictment you have to have a crime.

Ay, as we Robert Burns fans are wont to say, there's the rub. There may not be one. So Mr. Fitzgerald has to invent one. Perhaps a violation of an obscure clause in the Espionage Act of 1917, enacted in the frenzy of the war to end all wars. (Emphasis Nitpicker's)
If Pruden were a real fan of Burns, he would know that "Ay, there's the rub" comes not from Burns but from Hamlet's famous soliloquy.
To die, to sleep --
To sleep, perchance to dream, ay there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause; there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
Also, he probably would have recalled these much more appropriate lines.
Here is a toast to them that are away,
Here is a toast to them that are away!
Here is a health to Tammie, the Northland lad,
That lives at the ear of the Law!
Here is freedom to them that would read,
Here is freedom to them that would write!
There is none ever feared that the truth should be heard
But they whom the truth would indict!

Quotes you should have read

Two statements on religion and politics that you might have missed.
"Others have taken the trouble to tell me how disturbed they were to read reports that I had said (in answer to a question at the end of a talk) that I failed to understand how someone could be a Republican and a Christian. What I actually said was that it seemed to me that 'Republican' -- at least in its current usage -- and 'Christian' had become contradictory terms. Of course, I know there are many people who consider themselves to be both (and some of them are even good friends of mine). I am also well aware that historically there have been many Americans who were both good Republicans and good Christians, Abraham Lincoln perhaps most preeminently. But the Republican Party in its current incarnation is racist (racism being the clear premise of its 'Southern strategy,' pursued so singlemindedly since the days of the ineffable Richard Nixon) and the enemy of the poor. To be these things -- to be against the poor and the marginalized -- is, in my reading of the New Testament, to be specifically anti-Christian."
- Historian Thomas Cahill
"You know, to the extent that (Harriet Miers') qualification is she's a devout Christian, I would remind our business friends that the Sermon on the Mount is not necessarily a prescription for corporate judicial policy. And they should be guarded, because she does not have a foundation in constitutional analysis, and her faith may take her to places that corporate America might not like."
- Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley on "The McLaughlin Group," October 14, 2005
What would Supply Side Jesus do?

Shorter Robert Kagan

"Bill Clinton was right in ignoring journalists' warnings that Saddam had WMDs."
(Update: BusyBusyBusy, where "shorter" is done best, has another take.)

Nitpicker bonus: As long as Kagan wants to play the "these quotes mean I'm right game," then let's remind him of these quotes, too.
"(Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." - Colin Powell, February 24, 2001

"But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt." - Condoleezza Rice, July 29, 2001
One more thing. Kagan writes:
Many such stories appeared before and after the Clinton administration bombed Iraq for four days in late 1998 in what it insisted was an effort to degrade Iraqi weapons programs.
Funny thing is David Kay said those attacks did "degrade Iraqi weapons programs."
Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced - if not entirely destroyed - during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections.
Of course, everything this so-called neocon says has to be doubted, since he works for what Bill O'Reilly assures us is "a left-wing organization."

7053

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bush admits he's pro-torture

From tomorrow's New York Times:
Stepping up a confrontation with the Senate over the handling of detainees, the White House is insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempted from a proposed ban on abusive treatment of suspected Qaeda militants and other terrorists.

The Senate defied a presidential veto threat nearly three weeks ago and approved, 90 to 9, an amendment to a $440 billion military spending bill that would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of any detainee held by the United States government. This could bar some techniques that the C.I.A. has used in some interrogations overseas...

"They are explicitly saying, for the first time, that the intelligence community should have the ability to treat prisoners inhumanely," Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said. "You can't tell soldiers that inhumane treatment is always morally wrong if they see with their own eyes that C.I.A. personnel are allowed to engage in it."
An exception for members of the C.I.A.? Has Bush mentioned that before? Well, kind of. In this memo, in which he writes, first, that he doesn't have to follow the Geneva Convention if he doesn't want to, he then goes on to add:
Of course, our values as a Nation, values that we share with many nations in the world, call for us to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment. Our Nation has been and will continue to be a strong supporter of Geneva and its principles. As a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva. (Emphasis Nitpicker's)
Get that? Bush covers his ass by saying "the United States Armed Forces" and not, say, "all Americans serving in the Global War on Terror." Nice.

Too bad he showed his hand by wanting to make that exception overt.

Every journalist in today's White House Press Briefing should ask what rules members of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies have been following up until now.

P.S. The WaPo makes it clear this is "Cheney's plan."

The argument against Harriet Miers

I know it's fun to watch the conservatives tear into each other over the Harriet Miers nomination, but here's my single sentence argument against her:
Harriet Miers has proven her judgment is flawed by picking Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.
Thank you and have a good night.

Photos

I was in Manhattan, Kansas, today, walking across the Kansas State University campus and I came across some warnings written in chalk on the sidewalk. Paraphrasing, they read, "Attention! Graphic anti-abortion photos ahead!" and offered an alternate route to help you avoid looking at the disgusting images. Here's a bit of the story from the K-State paper.
Photographs of aborted fetuses will be on display Monday through Thursday next week.

World Christian Fellowship is bringing the Justice For All Exhibit to three areas of campus: the quad, Bosco Student Plaza and the grassy area west of Hale Library, Addie Lynn, WCF adviser, said.

"It's to bring awareness of abortion," she said. "There won't be any confrontations because the exhibit itself is vivid enough."

Justice For All's mission is "to create debate, change hearts and save lives," according to its Web site.
Now, I know why anti-abortionists use these sorts of images and I find both their methods and the photos themselves disgusting. But, truth be told, the Navy used the same sorts of techniques against me in boot camp, showing my company images of horrible penile wart outbreaks, etc. It's clearly effective. Sailors have never slept around since they started showing films like these in the 1940s.

No. Wait...

Anyway, I think that it's entirely fair for people to face the graphic results of a decision. I don't think it's right to surprise people with it on their way to, say, Comp I, but this is a free country and all.

Which brings me to Iraq. If anti-abortion activists can display the "results" of abortions, then I think it's high time Department of Defense removed the restriction on the publication of the American dead in Iraq. Yes, Photos of coffins are powerful reminders of the cost of war and the even more shocking and (probably) soon to be released Abu Ghraib photos will help people see what's going on (whether O'Reilly thinks our seeing them is "an abuse of freedom" or not), but, if we have to see the results of abortion as we walk around, then why not the bodies (and body parts) of our soldiers? Aren't those deaths the results of this stupid fucking war? If Americans can't handle looking at dead soldiers, they should do what they can to keep them from dying.

P.S. Please, people. I've said before that "I won't argue that the press should necessarily be showing bodies on television or in print." I don't really want pictures of dead soldiers all over, but was simply making the point that the anti-abortion argument is suspect. If I failed to write "wink wink" enough, I apologize.

Judy's uniform

Atrios sends us to this picture of Judy Miller in an Army uniform. Call me picky, but it pisses me off. Yes, she does have the right to wear BDUs, but only if they're hers (meaning they have her name on them) and are labeled with the title (still in the regs) of "War Correspondent."

The reg's here.
30-10. Wear of uniforms by U.S. civilians

a. Authorized U.S. civilian personnel attached to, or authorized to accompany forces of the United States, including DA civilians, are authorized to wear utility uniforms only when required in the performance of their duties, and when authorized by the MACOM commander. The procedures for purchasing uniforms, footwear, and insignia are contained in AR 700-84, chapter 3 . Only the insignia described below is authorized for wear on these uniforms.

b. Insignia for civilians.

(1) Description. The woodland subdued insignia is a black equilateral triangle, 1¼ inches long per side, with the letters "U.S." in olive-drab color, ¼ inch wide and ½ inch high. The triangle is printed on an olive-green colored cloth background, 3 inches long and 2-½ inches wide. If applicable, the insignia also indicates the designated assignment in black letters, ¼ inch high. The desert subdued insignia is the same size, with khaki or tan letters on a black cloth triangle. The triangle is printed on a khaki or tan cloth background.

(2) The authorized designations are as follows.

(a) Scientific consultant.

(b) Operations analyst.

(c) War correspondent.

(d) Technical observer.

(e) Ordnance technician.

(f) Chauffeur.

(g) Messenger.

(h) Logistics specialist.

(i) Safety.

(j) Ammunition surveillance.

(3) Insignia for civilians performing duties not listed above, or when specific designations are not required, will conform to previously described insignia, except the insignia will not denote duty assignment (see fig 30-2 ).

Interview with the Savior

Anne Rice has found religion.
"For the last six months," she says, "people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'." We'll know soon. In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord." It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" announced that he'd been born again.
I welcome her back to the Catholic faith wholeheartedly.

It's hard not to be cynical about this abrupt turnaround, though. A year ago Rice chastised commenters on Amazon fiercely when they dissed 2003's Blood Canticle.
Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I'll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I'm answering you, but for what it's worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses.
Humility was never Anne Rice's strong point. I liked the first three books of "The Vampire Chronicles," but lost interest, so I never read Blood Canticle, but I feel embarrassment for any artist who bitches because people don't understand the worth of their "great art." She may even be right. The book could be fabulous, but can you imagine, say, Hemingway giving a shit about some fanboy's persnickety rantings on Amazon? Rice herself said that she was forced to respond by suggestions the book suffered from her own health issues or due to the death of her husband.

While less than charitable, I have to question whether this anger and her eventual return to Catholicism was driven by the fact that, while still solid, Rice's readership has been dwindling for some time. I'll read the book and, hopefully, the feeling behind it will show through, answering my doubts. I hope she wasn't just looking at her sales and feeling left behind.

Let fighting idiots lie

One should probably allow discretion to serve when political opponents are fighting each other, but I simply can't help myself. When AssRocket says that some guy at Big Lizards has committed George "Will's latest polemic to the trash heap of history," you just have to know that, well, he didn't.
Practically the first words out of Will's pen betray the very quality of discrimination that has served him so admirably for so long... until now, in his dotage. Which "Miers' advocates" would those be? Anyone in particular? In this case, a careful study of the record reveals that these advocates consist of Ed Gillespie -- assuming one is willing to look at a cap gun and call it a Howitzer. Will bravely shoulders that duty: so Gillespie said (according to Will) not only that "her critics" (all of them?) were "sexist" but that they were "snobs" as well.

Did Gillespie say "snobs?" Did anyone? I'm certain someone must have... and in the new world of Will's rhetorical cannonade, that is enough; what was said by one was said by all.
Since this writer--who thinks he can chastise my white whale--acts like Will hasn't done his homework, let's see who has said "snobs" and "sexism".
"Ed Gillespie, the former RNC chair with the uneviable task of shepherding Miers through confirmation, told a gathering of conservatives last week his sensitive nostrils had also picked up a 'whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism' among them." - Pat Buchanan, "Who's the sexist?" Pittsburg Tribune Review, 10/15/05

"I think there's also snobbery here. I think the fact she went to SMU instead of Harvard like John Roberts, has these conservatives who have always been supposedly anti-intellectual and anti-elite, have them concerned that she may not have the intellectual heft to move the court to the right." - Joe Scarborough on "Today," 10/05/05
Well, hell, there's Gillespie suggesting snobbery and sexism right there. You want more? OK. Here's an extended quote from the October 5 edition of the Fox Special Report:
Some observations on whether there is in all of this a whiff of elitism in the air from Fred Barnes, a graduate of the University of Virginia, as indeed I am, Mort Kondracke, a graduate, I'm afraid to say, of Dartmouth, and Mara Liasson, a graduate, dare I say it, of Brown University.

All right, folks. What about it? Is there a bit of elitism in all of this?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, there may be snobbery even.

(CROSSTALK)

HUME: Snobbery even? Snobbery even? Go ahead, Fred.

BARNES: When you read -- look, and all of those people you mentioned are all friends of mine. They're people who I admire, who I always read their columns. But David Frum says, for instance, that she's not good enough for the job -- that's Harriet Miers -- and she will remain not good enough even if she votes the right way.

Well, I think, for most conservatives, if she votes the right way, she will be exactly the person who they want on the court. But somehow they've gotten all tied up in this idea that she doesn't have the right credentials, she hasn't written a lot of dazzlingly intellectual opinions. And therefore, the president should have picked -- now, there is a list, I'll have to say -- and David Frum writes about this -- about 20 conservatives on the appeals courts or in jobs in the administration or somewhere who really do have dazzling credentials.

And President Bush didn't pick from that list. He picked Harriet Miers. And they're mad about that, because she doesn't measure up credential-wise, you know, SMU Law School.
And there's Richard Land, as pointed out by Ken Herman of the Austin American-Statesman:
Despite the hometown pride, some Miers backers, confronted by opposition from some conservatives, perceive an academic snobbery being trained on the nominee's lack of an elite education.

On "Meet the Press" this week, Miers backer Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said some of the conservative trepidation about Miers "has the scent and whiff of elitism about it."

"I'm a graduate of Princeton, and I just want to say you don't have to go to an Ivy League school to be on the Supreme Court," Land said.

Land's "whiff of elitism" comment echoed a phrase reportedly used by Ed Gillespie, the former GOP national chairman named by the White House to help shepherd Miers' nomination through the Senate, in a meeting with conservatives upset about the selection.
And, finally, Thomas Oliphant.
(O)n this latest occasion (Bush) appears to have received strong advice from several Democrats most notably Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, that the choice of Miers would be viewed as a positive gesture. This will make opposition to her extremely difficult to mobilize on purely political grounds.

That leaves snobbery and charges of cronyism.

Miers's absence of judicial experience is easily ignored. The White House spin is correct in its historical reference to the 38 justices who arrived without having worn robes previously. To the White House citations of Rehnquist and the late Byron White (appointed by President Kennedy direct from the Justice Department), I would add the courtly big-time attorney from Richmond, Lewis Powell, whom Richard Nixon also put on the court. The fact is, qualifications are not an obstacle for her.

Neither is cronyism. Harriet Myers is no Michael Brown. She played major league ball as a lawyer in Dallas, and her service with Bush is a plus in terms of advertising her strengths, not a weakness.

The White House will undoubtedly try to keep much of her White House record from inspection, and the Democrats will undoubtedly try to get their hands on as much of it as possible. May the best side win. Meanwhile, Bush has appointed a sensible, loyal person whose nomination has deeply disturbed conservatives. These days, that's as good as it gets.
Do I think Miers is a bad choice? You bet. The woman has proven herself poorly prepared for one of the most important positions available to an American citizen. However, it must be pointed out (as John does here) that, if Miers' nomination is withdrawn as is being predicted, Democrats have been more than kind to Bush's nominee and do not bear responsibility for this failure.

I'm not the only one to wonder what happened to Frist's call for "a fair, up-or-down vote on every judicial nominee?"

Interruption over, guys, continue to fight amongst yourselves.