Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ann Coulter supports the estate tax

I mean, how else can you read this statement tucked away inside her tirade against Lincoln Chafee?
Taxes, I note, have virtually no bearing on someone who is not currently earning an income but living off incomes earned generations ago by better men than he.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Share this far and wide.

The transcript.

Bill Maher's take on Rumsfeld:
The morgue in Baghdad counted more than 1,800 bodies last month, which was a record high. Or a normal month in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. But this month, the morgue is on track to receive less than a quarter of that. Why? Because we've redeployed 8,000 U.S. soldiers and 3,000 Iraqi troops to Baghdad and sent them on house-to-house sweeps for militants and weapons caches. In other words, we've knocked Baghdad back from complete and total madness to borderline chaos.

Geez, it's almost like more soldiers works better. And it only took three years to figure this out.
WaPo's William Arkin:
Either Rumsfeld has delivered one of the most important speeches of the modern era, or he's gone crazy.

I think the latter, not just because I think the secretary is wrong on his intellectual characterization of terrorism, and not just because he is wrong about the media and its intentions, and not because he is so pugnacious, or because he has been wrong so many times before.

Rumsfeld is so wrong about America. His use of World War I history and the specter of fascism and appeasement, and his argument about moral weakness or even treason in any who oppose him, is not only polarizing but ineffective in provoking debate and discussion about the proper course this country must take to "fight" terrorism.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How press restrictions have backfired in Iraq

Susan Moeller, whose excellent book Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat is a must-read for anyone interested in the way wars are captured visually, provides a great essay in today's Washington Post. Here she discusses the famous photo of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima:
Countless publications duplicated the image. It was reproduced on a postage stamp, made into a statue, copied on untold numbers of commemorative items and turned into a Hollywood movie plot. Joe Rosenthal's photograph not only gave Americans back home an image of what was happening on the front lines, it persuasively argued that Americans were winning.
What I think Moeller leaves out, however, is the influence of the war's popularity among the American people throughout its span. There were many images which told less positive stories of the war. A Marine Corps photographer's photo published in Look just a month before Rosenthal's shows a nearly nude Marine "crucified to a stretcher by Japanese bullets." Moeller talked about this photo and others in this interview (the numbers discussed correspond to the number in the book):
LAMB: This next photograph is again from World War II, and it's your 26th photograph and it's done by Ralph Morris. What is this?

MOELLER: Well, this is probably the most horrific photograph from the book and it is a photograph from the Guanada Canal of a Japanese skull that's sort of speared on top of a Japanese tank. When I interviewed him about this, he mentioned that he was with a a platoon of soldiers who were walking through the jungle, came out into a clearing and saw this and he took it. Saw this scene and he took the picture of it. It was published in Life and perhaps created the greatest amount of furor of any photograph in the war. It received a lot of support from people as well as a concerted outcry from others.

LAMB: This is photograph number 33.

MOELLER: This is perhaps a photograph that shows the kind of of care, the kind of patriotism symbolism that was still evident and still operating in in World War II. The caption was "Crucified to a stretcher." And here we have a man who was literally crucified in the crucifix position with his arms outstretched but is actually wearing a crucifix. It's actually a good example of how photography could capture the symbolism.

LAMB: And this was in Look Magazine?

MOELLER: This was in Look Magazine.

LAMB: And it was a U.S. Marine Corps photograph?

MOELLER: Yes, that's correct.

LAMB: 35.

MOELLER: Ah, that famous photograph from Robert Cappa that I was telling you about earlier. Of the Normandy D-Day invasion -- you can barley make out there's a man crawling ashore and those sort of spiky things in the background are tank traps.
And I have mentioned before this image of George Strock's from 1943--published over a year before the Iwo Jima photo.

My point in bringing this up is not to argue against the power of Rosenthal's photograph, but only to point out that Americans had many choices of photographs which could be raised to the level of an icon, but, because they believed in the war, Americans chose Rosenthal's.

When we think of the Iraq war, supporters of the administration would like for us to think of the image of the toppling of Saddam's statue as the symbol of the conflict, but, as Moeller points out, the actions depicted in that photo were nothing more than an "elaborate photo op." More than that, it was an act of psychological warfare directed against domestic American targets.

As David Neiwert wrote when it became public the event was staged:
This reality raises a serious concern about the fragility of democracy during wartime. Because under the aegis of a seemingly eternal war, the American government has clearly been involving the public in its psychological combat, and has hijacked the nation's press in the process. The entire meaning of the Iraq war -- and by extension, the "war on terrorism" -- is inextricably bound up in the psychological manipulation of the voting public through a relentless barrage of propaganda.

This is why the both the runup to the war and its subsequent mishandling have been so replete with highly symbolic media events -- many of them played repeatedly on nightly newscasts -- that have proven so hollow at their core, from the declarations of imminent threat from Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, to phony images of Saddam's statue being torn down, to flyboy antics aboard airline carriers, to meaningless "handovers" of power. It also explains why certain important and humanizing symbols of wartime -- civilian casualties, the returning flag-draped coffins -- have been so notably absent from our views of the war.
Yes, Americans have come to realize that it was a war we shouldn't have started managed by an administration lacking the skill to bring about a positive outcome, but I do believe that the reliance on image management has backfired on this administration. I would argue that the staged nature of the statue image and the tight management of media imagery--a management which I, as a public affairs soldier in Afghanistan have seen firsthand and in which I've played a small role--makes it impossible for this photo or any truly positive photo of the Iraq War to be considered as iconic as Rosenthal's. Americans don't like feeling manipulated and the tight reins on the media have, in my view, added to the public disdain of the Iraq War. A free people expect and deserve a free press and images which tell the complicated truth about the conflict in which our county is engaged. The more Americans feel they're being led toward a point of view, the more likely they are to question the direction of the shepherds.

Dance, dammit

From "What's Left of the Flag" by Flogging Molly:
But sure as night turns day
Ends the passion play
Oh my God what have they done?
WIth madman's rage, well they dug our graves
But the dead rise again you fools

Walk away me boys, walk away me boys
And by mornin' we'll be free
Wipe that golden tear from your mother dear
And raise what's left of the flag for me
Love these guys.

Son of local boy makes good

This American Dream thing sells, baby.

Money quote:
Of course, he could not escape Beltway politics, even 7,500 miles away.

One Kenyan journalist, after a long preamble on the virtues of the American Constitution, asked him, “What will you do to liberate Congress from the White House?”

John Gibson: Bush is not president

Gibson says Republicans are running away from Bush, a few seconds after trying to prematurely declare Bush "out of office." Here's the big yellow bouffant's discussion with Kirsten Powers about Bush's apparent lack of interest in catching Osama bin Laden:
POWERS:...they blew it when he was in Afghanistan. They did. So they're trying to present themselves as the people who are strong on the War on Terror and they don't get him when they could have gotten him.

GIBSON: If you want to go backwards and start talking about who blew what, I mean, you get back in the Clinton zone...


GIBSON: You get back in the Richard Clarke zone, 'I'm not going to attack Usama on aday I've got him in my sights because the sheikh someone-or-other is nearby.'

POWERS: No, here's the thing, I actually wouldn't bring it up if they weren't so viciously attacking Democrats and saying the Democrats are weak on terrorism. You have to look at their record. You have to go back and say, 'OK, you're so strong on terrorism, you had Osama bin Laden--the mastermind of the terror attacks on the United States--in your crosshairs and you blew it.

GIBSON: Yeah, but if you want to make that argument, I'm going to make that argument about Democrats.

POWERS: How? When did we have him in our crosshairs?

GIBSON: Bill Clinton had him in our crosshairs...before 9/11.

POWERS: And you know what? You can go back and say anything you want about Bill Clinton. He's not president anymore. George Bush is president.

GIBSON: He's not. He's not president. For the purpose of this discussion he's a lame duck and he's out of office.

POWERS: No, he's not a lame duck in the sense that he has the complete support of the Republicans who are running for Congress.

GIBSON: Oh really?

POWERS: They completely support him a hundred percent.

GIBSON: Then what's all that daylight between him and them?

POWERS: But when push comes to shove and they had to make a vote in Congress, they voted for that ridiculous, just suck-up resolution where they claimed that everything George Bush was doing was right and anybody who opposed them was cutting and running and they supported him completely.

GIBSON: Well...[snicker]

POWERS: They did.

GIBSON: They may have.

POWERS: They did.

GIBSON: But the fact is, when you go out and look at what they're doing, where they're running, you could drive a truck between and George Bush.

POWERS: Now...because they realize what a mistake that was.
(Audio via a pro-Fox News right wing blog. This bit starts about two-thirds of the way into the clip.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Glenn Reynolds just makes shit up

Instapundit sez:
I don't recall Bush ever saying that Iraq would be a "day at the beach," and in fact casualties to date are considerably lower than what was generally expected for the ground war to Baghdad, where you generally heard figures in the 10,000 range.
Where, exactly, did Glenn "hear" these imaginary figures? As far as I can tell, the only person to even attempt an estimate was Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution (full PDF) and he predicted
In rough terms, U.S.-led forces might suffer 100 to 5,000 forces killed in action in such a future war. The lower half of that range is perhaps the most plausible.
Glenn's statement reminds me of a scene from Family Guy:
Peter: I'll handle it, Lois. I read a book about this sort of thing once.

Brian: Are you sure it was a book? Are you sure it wasn't...nothing?

Peter: Oh yeah.

Update: It's an epidemic of bullshit.

Asked and answered

James Wolcott saves us the time of coming up with an answer for a question he poses himself.
Given what a monumental cock-up Iraq has been despite (Max) Boot's initial raptures, why should anyone listen to his latest recipe for preemptive state-sponsored murder? Answer: they shouldn't. Fuck him too.
Damn straight.

[See also]

It's true because we say it's true

Carol Iannone, writing at the "academic" blog for National Review, writes the following.
Now reason and research and evidence and experience have accumulated to tell us pretty much that children are best off raised by two parents in a traditional marriage, and that boys especially, on the whole, are harmed in being raised without a father. (Italics mine.)
For someone who seems interested in discussing academia and "research" and "evidence," Iannone doesn't seem willing to do any. If she had, she would know that, while there is research suggesting difficulties for children raised in a single parent household, two parents are what make the difference--not the nature of the marriage. Here's the American Academy of Pediatrics' take on the issue (PDF link):
There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents.
There was a study done a few years back that claimed that researchers were downplaying some findings in their research--a claim snatched up eagerly by conservatives like Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who knows something about faking academic information--but Dr. Judith Stacey, one of the authors of the study said that the study's findings were misused by conservatives, adding:
Significant, reliable social scientific evidence indicates that lesbian and gay parents are as fit, effective and successful as heterosexual parents. The research also shows that children of same-sex couples are as emotionally healthy and socially adjusted and at least as educationally and socially successful as children raised by heterosexual parents.
Conservatives love to toss little phrases like it's been proven that or research shows or most americans believe, but, often, those phrases are simply unproven window dressing for their ideology. Iannone is no different, but, one would hope that an NYU professor, writing on the National Review's academic blog, would know better.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bloodthirsty bastards...

The world seems out of touch now
I don’t get out so much
I don’t feel the same
In these bones anymore
My heels are all worn down
My loyalties are torn
I’m finding different paths now
I never saw before
And it hurts less every day
The paths lead me away
Lead me away from those
Bloodthirsty bastards
Making plans for no one
But themselves

Do you feel safer?

Osama does.

And he's got the Republican Party to thank for it.

Up to their old tricks

If you thought that Ken Mehlman's "Southern Strategy" pseudo-apology was going to be the end of Republican attempts at "trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," then, well, you're stupid. Republicans since World War II have succeeded repeatedly by using a very simple technique: point at people, say "they're the problem" and then say you're here to help. Depending on time and location, they've pointed at nearly everyone but corporate bosses, including communists, blacks, hippies, gays, liberals,, Muslims, jews, women, teachers, Martin Luther King, flag-burners, "secularists", Howard Dean and, today, Markos of DailyKos.

They've got nothing else, people. The "Republican Revolution" of 1994 turned out to be nothing more than a torchlit march to the shed where the pork barrels were kept. Republicans have proven they have no dedication to fiscal responsibility. They've outspent the creator of the Great Society and created nothing useful with those funds.

They talk about putting the hammer down on the "Axis of Evil," but then toss money at North Korea--while simultaneously letting that country off the hook for inspections to which they'd previously agreed!

Because they don't know how to fight a war, they've bogged our military down in a war of choice, which has led to a horrible, bloody civil war and, quite possibly a regional Shiite/Sunni conflict. Americans realize this is foolish and they don't feel safer, but to reality-challenged Republicans, their glorious war has brought about "nothing short of a miracle."

I could go on and on, but the point is they're back at it today, with the "Willie Horton" ad of 2006, an ad against a Republican running for the Senate in Rhode Island which features plenty of scary brown people.

Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan has realized that, with all the coded (and not-so-coded) hate pulsing through the right, the time is right for him--one of the architects of the original, Nixonian "Southern Strategy"--to return to the public eye. The time, apparently is ripe for his kind of hate. Racism is back! Anti-Catholicism is even back in vogue among some.

So it's time, at last, to ask these fuckers what they stand for. They're always asking us if we'll "denounce" this thing or that thing (e.g., Howard Dean's since-proven statement that we're no safer with Saddam in custody), so it's time for every Republican to answer some questions:
  • Do you believe, like Pat Buchanan states in his new book, that illegal immigration has put the nation in a "state of emergency"?

  • Do you support Pat Buchanan's argument that non-whites lack the "genetic endowments" necessary to continue American civilization?

  • Do you believe that Buchanan's book, as Tony Blankley writes, is a "stunningly logical" attempt to "define the ethnic, language and cultural nature and desirability of America"? (Italics mine) Is our country really supposed to define a "desirable" ethnic make-up?
This time, we can't let Republicans get away with it. They've admitted to the "Southern Strategy." There's no way in hell we can let them get away with their new "South of the Border Strategy." Every time they point, we should be pointing back.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bush: Right wing bloggers are distorting the facts

Well, that's not exactly what he said, but he did say this today:
Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction.
Capacity, shamacity. We were warned of mushroom clouds!

But, in light of Bush's overlooked admission, let's take a trip down memory lane with a few of our right wing friends...

Powerline's Hinderaker:
Saddam's WMDs were indeed one of the reasons for going to war. But the claim that they were the only reason, or the main reason, is one that is simply asserted by Lindlaw and like-minded reporters and is generally taken to be true by dint of repetition.
FrontPage's David Horowitz:
The rationale for this war was not, as critics claim, stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. This is a misunderstanding that was the product of political arguments during a Democratic primary season that were intended to unseat a sitting president, but they had grave fallout for the credibility and security of the nation itself. The resultant misunderstanding about WMDS is the basis for most of the attacks on the war in Iraq.
Dean Esmay:
The fact is that I never believed WMDs were our primary reason for war against Saddam Hussein. After more than a year of regularly arguing in favor of taking out the monster in Baghdad, I'm bemused by people who now think that was our main reason for going. I suppose that's not entirely fair, because the whole world doesn't read my weblog, but I know I'm not the only one who said the things I said.

Oil was never our main reason for going. Neither were WMDs.
There are many more, including Glenn Reynolds who, as always, bravely fought the war against strawmen by pointing out that Bush never said WMDs were the only reason. Thanks, Glenn, but neither did anyone else.

While he was at it, you might notice, Bush also said the 50 percent of Americans who think there were WMDs--including Rick Santorum--are wrong and, if you're wondering about Bush's long spiel about how he "will never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with" him, that can be easily explained. A poll of troops in Iraq in March found that
more than half of US troops in Iraq (51%) favor a full withdrawal either "immediately" (29%) or within six months (22%).

An additional 21% told interviewers that US troops should leave Iraq between six and 12 months from now, while only 23% - or less than one in four - agreed with official Bush policy that the troops should stay "as long as they are needed".
And, of course, Bush supports the troops. Just not their views.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On Republican accountability

As Glenn Greenwald mentioned last weekend the right has been eager to bash John Murtha over his Haditha comments, but have failed to mention that comments as bad or worse were made by conservatives and Republican lawmakers like Rep. John Kline (Minn.). So, Glenn seems to have forced the hand of the lawyer suing John Murtha, who added Kline to his lawsuit. Kline backed down fast, but get this bit of sweet backtracking.
Kline wrote that news outlets used incomplete statements that gave the false impression that he had concluded the Marines broke the law.

"I am, of course, very concerned regarding any allegations surrounding misconduct by U.S. troops in Iraq," Kline wrote in his statement. "Such allegations must be taken seriously, but we should never rush to judgment before all the facts are known and the military criminal justice process is completed."

Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was briefed on Haditha by Marine Brig. Gen. John F. Kelly, the legislative assistant to the Marine commandant. At the time of the briefings, the official investigations were not complete, and Kline emphasized that "conclusions have not been reached."
Does Kline think so little of the American people that he thinks they'll buy that comments like these were taken out of context?
There is no question that the Marines involved, those doing the shooting, they were busy in lying about it and covering it up — there is no question about it.
This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them...This is going to be an ugly story.
Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who is a retired Marine colonel, said that the allegations indicated that "this was not an accident. This was direct fire by marines at civilians." He added, "This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity."
Kline, like Murtha, is a retired Marine field-grade officer. I might be impressed with him if he could simply say, "I was wrong," but this is an apology-free apology. He's saying that he didn't really say those things, because the press took his statements out of context. Some apology.

Update: Already there's idiocy. Some genius who runs a blog with the pithy name of "Left Wing = Hate" titled a post on this story Rep Representive John Kline of Minnesota apologizes to Haditha Marine for “Guilty Remarks” in lawsuit settlement, Rep Murtha of Penn refuses to comply with settlement agreement. Hello? Dumbass? Murtha has made no agreement, therefore there's no agreement with which to comply.

Shorter Norman Podhoretz

Despite press and pundit claims to the contrary, Bush hasn't changed his mind about a thing. That's a good thing because his Iraq plan and Middle East policy are working wonderfully.

I just don't get these people

All the righties are pissed at the Bush administration because it supported a ceasefire in the current fighting between Hezbollah.

These guys are all but tearing their hair out because the killing has ended. Bush is a "disgrace" and a "dangerous failure." I agree with them, of course, but I think he should be booted for the deaths he's caused and the laws he's broken, not for taking the side of peace once in his miserable life.

But, in a few minutes, Ramesh Ponnuru will be on The Colbert Report to explain why Democrats are the "party of Death."

I really don't get it.

I just don't get these people

All the righties are pissed at the Bush administration because it supported a ceasefire in the current fighting between Hezbollah.

These guys are all but tearing their hair out because the killing has ended.

But, in a few minutes, Ramesh Ponnuru will be on The Colbert Report to explain why Democrats are the "party of Death."

Remembering Saint Max

I really don't like Captain Ed, but today he recognizes a man I greatly admire, Saint Maximillian Kolbe. It's nice to be able to agree with people once in a while.

Kolbe, tossed into Auschwitz for writing anti-Nazi sentiments, gave up his life for a Jewish prisoner with a family. Captain Ed writes:
I think of Father Kolbe when we see the heroics of everyday people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. World Trade Center, which I reviewed yesterday, provided a number of examples of people who risked their lives to save others. United 93 showed people who almost certainly knew that they had forfeited their lives to save others. Few get the opportunity to personally put themselves in another's place for certain execution without any guarantee of saving the other life, with only trust in the Lord.
Hear hear.

It should be added that people like the future Pope John Paul II fought hard to have Kolbe declared a saint and, because of their efforts, they added an entirely new classification of martyrdom to Catholicism. Since Kolbe wasn't killed because he was Catholic, but gave up his life for another, he became the Church's first Martyr for Charity.

If you're so inclined, say a prayer.

Why not? She believed that Iraqis would welcome us with flower-strewn streets...

"I mean, I want to believe, John. I believe in you. I want to believe."
Explanation at TBogg.

More here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Shorter Rich Lowry

A one percent chance that you could be killed by terrorists justifies losing 100 percent of your freedom.
O'Reilly, in one of his rare moments of accidental clarity, disagrees.

The post in which I agree with Tom DeLay

I agree with Tom DeLay:
I asked DeLay if he had a problem with Scalia’s handling of the case. “Yes, I do,” DeLay said. “He obviously spent no time looking at what’s happening in the court in which he has oversight. Within three hours, he denied this stay.”

“You can always count on the judiciary to make stupid rulings,” DeLay told me. “Not only stupid, but dangerous.”
Tom is absolutely right. Anything that threatens to keep him in power is both stupid and dangerous.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is your safety in Republicans' best interest?

According to national security experts, we're losing the war on terror. Even 71 percent of the conservatives questioned said so, adding that we're less safe today than we used to be.

So why aren't Republicans moving to make things better? Because they think Americans still think they're the best people for national security. Today's foiled British terror plot is "going to play big," said one Bushie.

Nice, huh?

What's the matter with my alma mater?

Not much.

Our football coach seems to have recruited well and they're asking the right people to come talk to them.
Native Kansan Thomas Frank will open the (Lou Douglas Lecture) series Monday, Sept. 18, in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union with a lecture co-sponsored by K-State's Donald J. Adamchak Distinguished Lecture Series in Sociology. In his book "What's the Matter with Kansas?," Frank, a former Republican, seeks to answer why so many of us vote against our economic interests, where the outrage is at corporate manipulators and what happened to middle-American progressivism.
Of course he does this about six months after I leave the state.

They're so cute when they call us the Taliban...

Hey, fellow Democrats! Have you heard?
We're weak.

We're nuts.

We're angry.

We're wackadoos.

We're motivated by hate.

We're anti-American.

We're worse than terrorists.

We hate.

We blame America first.

We will create a mountain of skulls, just like Pol Pot.

We have been taken over by our party's Taliban wing.

We have embraced isolationism and defeatism.
And the Republicans?
They're scared shitless.
If they wanted to win, they should have actually made us safer. The fact they fucked up so much actually does drive me a little nuts, but I think I'll leave the skull-mountain creation up to others.


Does anyone remember why Glenn Reynolds said he didn't allow comments on his web site?
I think that one reason has to do with media treatment. Charles Johnson, for example -- who does have comments -- has repeatedly faced media stories about his site in which comments made by his readers are directly attributed to him, as if he had written them. I certainly worry about that sort of thing, too. I think that lefty sites expect, and get, less of that kind of mistreatment.

I've never had comments. I get about 1000 emails a day, and I don't have time to look at those, post on my blog, AND moderate comments. And unmoderated comments raise a risk of the kind of thing I mention above, as well as possible libel and copyright issues.
Yet, when Lanny Davis cherry-picked a few comments from DailyKos to make a case for "liberal McCarthyism," Reynolds wrote simply that Davis didn't "like what he sees." Reynolds didn't bother pointing out this was a perfect example of why he didn't allow comments, much less why he couldn't handle running a web site just signed up poster number 100,000. Nope, that would be too honest for Glenn.

Instead, he said this was part of a "climate of fear" that we liberals seemed to have caused. He even goes on to link to some posts about how we've become supposedly a party of thugs, recalling a story from 2004, when a soldier, recently returned from Iraq, was beaten for wearing an Army shirt. If you follow that link back, though, you see that someone pointed out to Glenn that the story was bullshit.
In response to a later link back to this post on August 8, 2006, Reader Ted Gideon emails that this report turned out to be false.

I don't promise not to link to stories that turn out to be wrong (how could I?) just to correct errors when they appear. And, actually, I'm glad this looks not to have been true.
Of course, if you don't follow it back and just accept that Glenn has something juicy there, you'll find no mention of this error.

Glenn Reynolds: The man who doesn't want to take the blame for what anyone writes--even himself--doesn't have the balls to point out that Lanny Davis is full of it.

More from Media Matters:
O'Reilly addressed "anti-Semitic stuff directed at [Sen.] Joe Lieberman [D-CT]" in his "Talking Points Memo" and read from two of the weblog quotes Davis had included in his Journal op-ed. But read in context, one of the quotations O'Reilly cited was clearly a parody of an anti-Semitic rant and both were from comments posted to the weblogs O'Reilly mentioned. Neither O'Reilly nor Davis cited any evidence that either commenter spoke for anyone in the progressive community or indeed that the commenter is actually a progressive.

O'Reilly and Davis simply misrepresented a comment by tomjones that appeared on the Daily Kos website on December 7, 2005.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's about time

Some brave souls have finally stepped up to take on the falsiness.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rumsfeld's faulty grasp of history

Today, Donald Rumsfeld said something that was very interesting. He was asked whether Iraq is "closer than ever to the brink of civil war" and he answered:
(I)t seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage.

It certainly isn't like our Civil War.
This isn't an argument but another Rumsfeldian ahistorical dodge. No two wars are alike, ever--especially civil wars. To paraphrase Tolstoy, every unhappy country is unhappy in its own way.

But he's right in one respect. The American Civil War involved the dissolution of established democratic ties in a country which had been functioning as a relatively cohesive whole for nearly 80 years. The Union had a trained, functioning army and the Confederacy drew many from that same army. If the Iraqi civil war breaks out into all-out conflict, there will be few professional military attitudes on display. Instead, Iraq will resemble the fighting in Sri Lanka, for example--an endless cycle of hit-and-run attacks that will last for years and years.

Yes, there will be no Iraqi Antietam or Gettysburg, so, in that respect, Rumsfeld's right.

However, it is likely that we are only on the cusp of Iraq's worst days and one would have to say that Rumsfeld is very wrong. Iraq, in one sense, is an exact replay of the American Civil War if you go back far enough.

In Iraq today, you see a government struggling for legitimacy, clerics and radicals running their own militias, people dragged from their beds to their deaths, terrorist attacks, hooligans in uniform and an impartial military force stuck in the middle of it all.

This is exactly how our Civil War began.

In 1854, a compromise was reached. Like Iraqi parliamentary machinations, it was supposed to bring about peace between rival factions--abolitionists and slave owners. The upshot of this compromise, known as the Kansas-Nebraska act, was citizens of a territory or state could choose whether their state would be a free state or a slave state. Not for the first time, it was proven, as Churchill put it, democracy really is "the worst form except for all the others." Congress had assumed, foolishly, that Nebraska would be a free state and Kansas would become a slave state.

Instead, the opportunity of choice drove people from all over the nation to the state in order to influence the vote. New Englanders formed the Emigrant Aid Society, moved west and became Kansans to vote against slavery, while pro-slavery Missourians simply came across the border, voted and went back home. Both claimed a true vision of God's will. As Whittier wrote in "Song of the Kansas Emigrant":
We go to rear a wall of men
On Freedom's southern line,
And plant beside the cotton-tree
The rugged Northern pine!...

Upbearing, like the Ark of old,
The Bible in our van,
We go to test the truth of God
Against the fraud of man.
Terroristic groups became common on both sides of the conflict. In one of the most famous of attacks, abolitionist John Brown led a small band of men to Pottawatomie, to the house of the pro-slavery James Doyle and killed him in retaliation for an attack on Lawrence, Kansas, the freestaters' capital. James Townsley was an eyewitness to the event and his account is remembered in William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas.
The old man Doyle and his sons were ordered to come out. This order they did not immediately obey, the old man being heard instead to call for his gun. At this moment, Henry Thompson threw into the house some rolls or balls of hay in which during the day wet gunpowder had been mixed, setting fire to them as he threw them in. This stratagem had the desired effect. The old man and his sons came out, and were marched one-quarter of a mile in the road toward Dutch Henry's crossing, where a halt was made. Here old John Brown drew his revolver and shot old man Doyle in the forehead, killing him instantly; and Brown's two youngest sons immediately fell upon the younger Doyles with their short two-edged swords.
Jayhawkers, Bushwackers, Border Ruffians and others fought it out in Kansas for five years (or seven, depending on whom you listen to), with Union troops stuck in the middle in order to try to keep the peace. The time was called "Bleeding Kansas."

In the end, Kansans--9,000 Free State Democrats; 8,000 Republicans; 6,500 Proslavery Democrats; 500 Pro-Slavery Know-Nothings by one rough reckoning--declared the state free. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that this political humiliation, and not simply the election of Abraham Lincoln, led directly the Southern secession.

(And, lest we forget, even losing the Civil War didn't end the terrorist attacks by pro-slavery fanatics, who continued to kill blacks and those who would help them for many years after the war's official end.)

Again, it's true Iraq will never look like what is commonly known as the American Civil War, but if the people of Iraq really wanted to copy our bloodiest conflict, they're on the right track.

Update: A friend of mine who has studied the conflict in-depth wrote in e-mail...
Don't forget the bureaucratic side of how the Bleeding Kansas mess ended. All the losses caused by the poor planning and the resultant terrorist attacks were supposed to have been reimbursed by Congress. Affidavits were taken and losses totaling more than $250,000 (in 1855 dollars) were spelled out in hundreds of pages, published in 1859. Yet when it came time to appropriate the money, Congress never did, because it appeared that some people with unclean hands could conceivably be reimbursed. As far as I know, NOBODY got restitution.


I want to thank Pat, Josh, Kansas Citizens For Science and everyone else who fought so hard keeping my home state safe from stupid.


It's working, but not for us. James Fallows, writing in Atlantic Monthly, explains that, yes, we've hit Al Qaeda, but, as feared, our actions could be making things worse.
When Americans think of satellite surveillance and the National Security Agency, they are likely to imagine something out of the TV show 24: a limitless set of eyes in the sky that can watch everything, all the time. In fact, even today’s amply funded NSA can watch only a limited number of sites. “Our overhead imagery is dedicated to force protection in Iraq and Afghanistan,” I was told by a former intelligence official who would not let me use his name. He meant that the satellites are tied up following U.S. troops on patrol and in firefights to let them know who might be waiting in ambush. “There are still ammo dumps in Iraq that are open to insurgents,” he said, “but we lack the imagery to cover them—let alone what people might be dreaming up in Thailand or Bangladesh.” Because so many spy satellites are trained on the countries we have invaded, they tell us less than they used to about the rest of the world.

Documents captured after 9/11 showed that bin Laden hoped to provoke the United States into an invasion and occupation that would entail all the complications that have arisen in Iraq. His only error was to think that the place where Americans would get stuck would be Afghanistan.