February 17, 2006 | 10:21 AM ET | Permalink

I gotta fly to Texas this morning, which is just as well, because there’s a lot of evil in the papers today, much of it perpetrated by you know who,  it would just depress all of us to pay attention to it.  In the meantime, I wrote a column about which I feel pretty strongly this morning.  It’s called “Think Again: A Funeral for America’s Conscience,” and it’s here.

I also have a Nation column on the new MMFA study entitled “The Gasbag Gap,” and it’s here.

Oh, and I’m giving a talk at the Woodrow Wilson school at Princeton University next Wednesday entitled "Conservative Media, Liberal Nation,” which would have been a good idea for a book title, come to think of it. Info here.

If I were getting upset about the news of the day, I don’t know if I would start with this, but it’d be there: "Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?"  Here.

Though I suppose I would also have had to go with this:

CIA chief sacked for opposing torture

The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.

Bye

Slacker Friday:

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago
Hey Eric, it's Stupid to offer more advice for the Dems.  Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran a poll about Mayor Richard Daley.  70% believe he's corrupt, yet he still beats every potential challenger.  Lesson: voters don't elect the opposition just because the incumbent cheats.  With that in mind, here are some suggestions for the Dems in 2006.  First, hold an off-year Convention and come out with a consensus platform (Howard Dean and the Blue Dogs should hammer this out ahead of time).  That would grab the spotlight and give the Dems an oft-suggested "Contract with America."

Iraq: I know you have issues with Kristof, but his position makes for a good Dem consensus position: pledge to leave Iraq no later than two years (you can tweak that, but nothing immediate) AND ALSO pledge to oppose U.S. bases on Iraqi soil.  Is the GOP really going to run on "we'll be there as long as it takes and with bases if we need them?"  Both hawks and doves could live with that position, and it's good policy (as Kristof argues, it addresses the insurgents' rhetoric and Iraqis' fears but gives Iraqi security forces both incentive and time to shape-up).  And remember, as awful as torture is, it’s a loser as a campaign issue -- "24" isn't popular for nothing.

Job Creation:  Remember the $300/$600 tax rebates from 2001?  They cost about $40 billion...or 10% of Exxon's 2005 revenues.  Don’t just talk about windfall profit taxes – make them tangible to the voters.  It won't help the budget deficit, but it's in the spirit of "pay/go" and a flat rebate is effectively a progressive tax cut.  Even better: make it $400/$800 IF you
invest the rebate in an IRA or 401(k).  That tells baby boomers the Dems have ideas on how to address the retirement crisis (plus it helps with our low savings crisis).  I'd also support mandatory reporting for companies of their outsourcing.  

Finally, in addition to legislation, support creation of an Ethics Czar/Ombudsman.  This person would be appointed on a bipartisan basis and make an annual report on influence in Congress and the effects of any recent campaign ethics legislation (or FEC rule changes). Now there's a position for which I can endorse John McCain!

Name: J.G. Berinstein
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
"We are going to publish only those images that give readers essential information.  Many of the images are so shocking and in such bad taste, especially the extensive nudity, that they are not publishable in our newspaper or on our Web site." The PHOTOS are in bad taste??  Not the conduct itself??  How can these people fail to understand that it is the conduct that is the problem, and the photos are essential precisely because they shock the conscience -- and show the world, INCLUDING Americans, just what the Bush Administration is doing in the name of freedom and democracy.  The American people not only deserve to see the photos; they NEED TO see the photos.  Without raw, unedited images of the reality of American practices, the public is getting only Bush-Cheney approved spin--an Ozzie-and-Harriet view of U.S. foreign policy.  Recent revelations of the massive amounts the Bush Administration has been spending on PR -- both at home and abroad -- should cause every American citizen alarm.  We are being manipulated like never before.  The reason?  On some level, the Bushies understand that the American people would go ballistic if they knew what the Administration is doing in our name.  The only way they can acquire the consent of the governed is by hiding their acts through any and every possible means (including by prohibiting photographs of coffins of soldiers arriving at Dover AFB and trying to keep the images of tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib from being published).  The truth can be ugly and upsetting, but ultimately, the truth is the only thing that will set us free.

Name: Bill
Hometown: Denver, CO
Eric,
I think it worth noting that last night's CBS Evening News did air both new photos from Abu Ghraib and a comment on Cheney's beer at lunch.  I don't know about the other networks but CBS deserves some credit.

Name: John
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Eric,
I am a 27-year-old who started reading your blog about two years ago.  I was raised in an almost exclusively Republican household, and have voted mostly Republican since I have been able to cast a ballot.  I am not a huge fan of President Bush, so I chose to read your blog and get a Democrat's view of the policies of the Bush administration.  I wanted to share my views with you regarding your blog.  I have never in my life read someone who did absolutely nothing but focus on the negative.  You make it sound like Americans are the worst people in the world.  Not only do you bash everything that has to do with the Republican party, but you also bash the military, claiming that all they do is torture Iraqis.  When I started to read your blog I wanted a reasonable Democrat to make valid points about what they believe.  Instead, the only thing I get is you bashing everything that our country does.  Not only have you not convinced me to become "more liberal" in my voting, but your cynicism regarding everything about America and its Republican leaders has strengthened my conservatism even more.  I started reading your blog two years ago with an open mind.  My mind has now been made up - if you and your cynical views represent the Democrat party, I want absolutely nothing to do with it.

February 16, 2006 | 1:39 PM ET | Permalink

So here’s how the world works.  The U.S. media keeps the country in the dark about things everybody else in the world knows, then Americans, in their ignorance, vote for people who promise to do things that make no sense whatever, except in the context of their own (understandably) confused notions about what might make sense.  Take for instance, this invasion of Iraq, which to be fair, was never really that popular, but was always far more popular than it should have been.  Because people were deliberately misinformed on its relative level of popularity by the Bush administration and by Fox News ( See the survey by the Program on Policy Attitudes if you doubt this.), they have a hard time understanding why in the world everybody hates us, and think it’s because of “our freedoms” rather than because, say, we pretend to liberate people but we actually torture them.

I got to thinking the above when I read in Today’s Papers this morning that:

Everybody mentions another batch of photos showing abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib back in 2003. The photos, which were broadcast by on Australian TV, show plenty of blood as well as men with fresh burn marks and welts. There are also images of six corpses, though it's not clear how they died.

So far as TP sees, none of the papers run any of the photos. The Post points out that it has had the images and "hundreds more" since 2004. As the WP's story notes, the paper's editor explained backed then: "We are going to publish only those images that give readers essential information. Many of the images are so shocking and in such bad taste, especially the extensive nudity, that they are not publishable in our newspaper or on our Web site." You can see the photos here and here.

Nobody puts the photos story on Page One. But the Wall Street Journal, which is the only paper to at least go high with its coverage, says "satellite television stations throughout the Muslim world are airing the new footage almost continuously."

There has never been an independent investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. In fact, the Journal says there is "still no reliable information on the numbers or identities of prisoners who died in U.S. custody."

[See original for inline links.]

Get it now?  The whole world is looking at these pictures and they are inspiring who knows how many Arabs to enlist in the jihad against the United States (just as the CIA warned us before this lunatic war).  But Americans are blissfully ignorant of the evil perpetrated in their name and hence, make the same mistakes over and over.

Now look at the following TP item:

The Post fronts the administration proposing to spend $75 million in Iran to promote democracy and, essentially, regime change. The LAT plays up the potential drawbacks, namely that the plan could backfire.

And if it can backfire, ladies and gentleman, alas, it will.  More instability, more jihad, more terrorism and this time these guys really do have these nasty weapons.  Who does speak for America?

Thanks, by the way, Ralph.

While I’m letting TP do my foreign policy and "democracy" analysis, we should be aware that this kind of thing is a further problem in the mix:

USA Today fronts records showing that Republican Sen. Arlen Specter channeled $50 million in defense-related earmarks to clients of a lobbyist who's married to one of Specter's top aides.  The aide happens to deal with Specter's work on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where, as it turns out, the earmarks were inserted.

“Sorry Dick, I think you’re going to have to shoot that old rich guy, maybe this weekend.”  The Rovian Plot line looks stronger, here.

And about Cheney’s decision to blow intelligence details and help America’s enemies for political gain, the Note notes this:

“There is remarkably little in the papers today about what Vice President Cheney said about national security in his Hume interview.

Cheney would not comment on court filings that indicate that Scooter Libby, the Vice President's former chief-of-staff, has suggested that his unidentified superiors authorized the release of some classified information.

But he did tell Hume that a vice president has the authority to declassify information and that he "certainly" has "advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions."

Asked if he's ever made such declassification decisions unilaterally, Cheney said: "I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President."

The AP's Ron Fournier Notes the way in which the Cheney mishap has taken the focus off of the White House leak investigation. LINK

To the sage Fournier's point . . . perhaps demonstrating just how easy it is to distract the White House press corps, the New York Times dedicates six paragraphs to Vice President Cheney's comments regarding his authority to declassify intelligence. LINK

And this, too: 

Politics of domestic surveillance:
In another key story that would be on A1 — not A4 — if not for the Cheney saga, the Washington Post reports that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in an interview yesterday that the Administration will "sharply limit" the testimony of John Ashcroft and James Comey when they appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. LINK

Et tu, Peggy?

Et tu, too, George?

Here we go again:  "Hume. . . touched the major bases in his discussion with the vice president."  — Howie shills for the administration PART XVIII 

Here is Brit describing his hard-hitting interview technique, that so impressed Mr. Conflict of Interest: 

I can't really think of anything.  Some people have quibbled about whether the sheriff was brought into the picture when he should have been, and that the Vice President should have undergone questioning immediately after that.  I don't think that goes very far, and it didn't much interest me. ... I tried to ask questions that would of interest to others.

And Petey reports that NBC's Today show said Fox failed to air Cheney's admission to having a beer at lunch, although that admission did appear in the transcript of the interview.  (Although for all I know, Petey had a beer or two at breakfast…)

Also, I'm going to go out on a limb here, but might not a guy who lies about nuclear weapons, terrorism, and whether or not he claimed, on videotape, that there was a Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence be capable of lying about how many beers he had before he started shooting people?  Just asking....

I’m offering a million bucks for New York Press  (Thing is, you gotta pay it to me…)

Don’t buy this record unless you want to commit suicide.  “This stunning debut by James Blunt--a British soldier turned musician--will take your breath away; literally!”  Here.  (Oh wait, you think they meant “figuratively?”

Hitchens is actually pretty good here, damn all that wasted talent of his…

Alter-review and Celebrity Report:

I spent the early part of Tuesday evening  at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, here, which is the club, and by far the most economical (for fans), of the three venues at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, here, seeing a wonderful four piece band featuring both Eric Reed and Cyrus Chestnut on piano, with the great Gerald Cannon on bass, and Willie Jones IV on drums.  The show was short, barely an hour, and started on-time at 7:30, which is just crazy stuff when it comes to jazz, but beautiful, particularly Reed’s solo on “My Funny Valentine.”  Four handed piano is a tough thing to pull off and these guys had just the right amount of rehearsal and spontaneity to make it work.  I’d like an album of it, and I’d also like a few more songs. But still, go if you can…

Afterwards, I saw Steve Martin at dinner.  I didn’t talk to him, we just looked at each other for about an hour, from two feet away because of where his table was, in relation to the bar (where I was.  He didn’t smile the whole time.  This really weirded me out.  Steve Martin, not smiling.)  Also, it reminded me of something.  Guys: women tend to take a long time in the bathroom.  So it’s OK to bring something to read on a date, as long as you only take it out when they’re not there (or on the phone).  It’s crazy not to, methinks.  Ask Steve, who apparently doesn’t know this, and you know, kept starring at me.  (And by the way, great city, huh?)

Meanwhile, last night I went to a book party for the lawyer Ed Hayes and my friend Susan Lehman, who co- [ha]wrote his book Mouthpiece: A Life in -- and Sometimes Just Outside -- the Law, here, with him.  Tom Wolfe was making a toast and I was whispering something by way of explanation to my young assistant, when a guy in a fancy suit told me to shut up.  I told him he was telling me to shut up louder than I was whispering.  OK, I might also have used a part of the anatomy to illustrate my point.  Anyway, and here’s something you don’t hear every day at New York book parties, he grabbed my shoulder and said, “Listen to me, fella. I’m going to take you outside right now and break every fu**ing bone in your body.  Do you understand me?”  I did and that was that.  (If he wanted to hear Tom that bad, well…)

Anyway, it was that kind of party, and I suppose, is that kind of book, and I’m sure it was merely coincidence that the gentleman left the party at almost exactly the same time that New York Governor, Presidential fantasist, and destroyer of New York City schools George Pataki did.

Altercation Book Club:

Shlomo Ben-Ami, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, (Ben Ami is a historian and the former Israeli foreign minister. The book is published by Oxford University Press.)

I will never be able to erase from my memory my feelings in Taba. Here, I wrote in my diary, an outline of a reasonable settlement was lying on the table. One would have had to be blind not to understand that these were also the last days of the Israeli Left in power, maybe for many years. An Israeli team consisting of Yossi Sarid, Yossi Beilin, Amnon Shahak and myself as its head cannot be repeated in years to come. In other words if an agreement was not to be reached then, there would be no agreement at all, and both Israelis and Palestinians would be thrown into a wilderness of blood, despair and economic decline. Nevertheless, I discerned no sense of urgency or missed opportunity among my Palestinian friends.

Zionism, at least up to 1948, would never have functioned this way when faced with what is always and inevitably an imperfect settlement. It always acted with its back to the wall, which is why it was blessed with the capacity for pragmatic decision making. In contrast to the anti-Semitic cliche about ‘Jewish power’, Zionism was always the national movement of a weak Jewish people lacking support, a persecuted people decimated by holocaust and genocide, a people that in case of failure at the time of taking a decision might be annihilated. The Palestinians, the presumed weak side of the conflict, never acted out of lack of choice as Zionism did.

Zionism was a social revolution, an attempt to change the patterns of existence of the Jewish people. Though never abandoning wider territorial dreams, it would not have occurred to Ben-Gurion to delay the establishment of the Jewish state because he would not have access to the Western Wall or the Temple Mount. The positive ethos of building a new society was supposed to compensate for the poverty of the territorial solution. The Palestinian leadership failed its people primarily due to the lack of will to process a positive founding ethos that would enable them to assume a reasonable compromise.

The Zionist leadership prior to 1948 looked for solutions, not for justice. The Palestinian national movement has been more about vindication and justice than finding a solution. It therefore never possessed the capacity to make a positive decision. Seen from the perspective of the Palestinian tragedy of refugeeism, the loss of a homeland, long years of dispossession, homelessness and exile, and the deprivation of personal and national rights, the Palestinian ethos of vindication is fully understandable. However, peace is frequently not about justice but about stability. The history of the Jews’ modern national movement had been characterized by realistic responses to objective historical conditions. The Palestinians have consistently fought for the solutions of yesterday, those they had rejected a generation or two earlier. This persistent attempt to turn back the clock of history lies at the root of many of the misfortunes that have befallen the peoples of the region.

But the major weakness in our peace enterprise was political and domestic. Ours was the case of a front without a home front. On the way to Camp David, I wrote in my diary:

Sunday, 9 July, on the night flight from Tel Aviv to New York. I am troubled, and I wish the reason were only the enormity of the task ahead. The government is falling apart, and I wonder during this tense flight who it is exactly that we are representing in this grueling political undertaking . . .. We are approaching our moment of truth like a front line without a home front. . . . Upon landing in the US, I hear that David Levy, the Foreign Minister, has announced that he will not be attending the summit. . . . The rumor about ‘Shas’, meanwhile, has become fact. They have announced their resignation. The government that started out as a government for ‘everyone’ has shrunk into its most basic foundations, the traditional Left.

The lesson from Barak’s experience is that however grandiose and enlightened the peace vision of a leader might be, he would be doomed if he is not sustained by a careful domestic political organization. The Israeli case – and indeed, this is also the Palestinian predicament – proves that, tragically, war unites and peace divides. Much will always then depend on the caliber of leadership. A leader should not be a trivial mind, a hostage of the state apparatus and bureaucracy. But he should not ignore them either. Inspiration alone is not sufficient for a bold peace enterprise. A sensible balance is always needed between inspiration and political maneuvering. A foreign policy needs to have domestic foundations.

Nor were the Palestinians immune to serious problems on their home front. For years they had been yearning for a Palestinian state, and when the moment of truth arrived they met it in a condition of deep internal divisions. An intra-Palestinian crisis, which stemmed from a battle for the post-Arafat succession, developed between the Gaza group of the younger generation (Muhamed Dahlan, Muhamed Rashid, Hassan Assfour) and the old guard represented by Abu-Mazen and Abu-Ala. The Palestinians were far more impressed by the Israeli proposals than they liked to admit in public. For they all felt that they were nearing the final-status agreement and they believed that whoever brought about the settlement would become Arafat’s successor.

This dramatic internal battle within the Palestinian camp erupted during the Stockholm secret talks in May 2000. Abu-Mazen, who had initiated the Swedish track in the first place, felt that he was now being bypassed in the talks, so his people leaked them to the Al-Hayat newspaper in a way that built resistance in the territories to the presumed concessions that the Palestinian delegation was making at Harpsund. We made efforts to co-opt Abu-Mazen and convince him not to torpedo the process. His answer was that he needed time ‘to stabilize things’.

Months later, during the Sharm el Sheikh international summit of early October, I asked Abu-Mazen directly about his unhelpful approach. His answer was that we, the Israelis, were negotiating ‘with the wrong people’, as if it was our responsibility to appoint the Palestinian delegation for the talks. At the moment of truth, when an Israeli government was ready for a historic deal, the Palestinians, and in a way the Americans and the Israelis as well, failed to address what was clearly a major obstacle: the internal Palestinian squabbles and the premature but nevertheless fierce struggle for succession.

We are going from here into a catastrophe. You will forge an alliance with Hamas and we shall go into a paralyzing national unity government with the Israeli Right. When we meet again this will be with the West Bank replete with settlements. Make no mistake: this is the defeat of the peace camp in Israel for many years to come.

This was how I addressed my Palestinian counterpart Saab Erakat, on the last night at Camp David, in the presence of Mr. Clinton and his entire team gathered in Aspen, the President’s residence, when it was clear to all that we were not going to reach an agreement.

Correspondence Corner:

From: Siva Vaidhyanathan
Hometown: Funkytown
Dear Eric:
Yes, that was me on The Daily Show last night, talking about social network sites like MySpace and Friendster.  I hope you caught it.  It was sort of jarring to be called an "old person" by the reporter, especially while I am still (barely) on the south side of 40.  If you missed it, you can catch the segment soon on the show's Web site.

I have been perplexed about the Cheney shooting thing for a couple of reasons.  First, I am not sure why it matters to us that we learned about the shooting a day or so after it happened.  What difference does it make?  Who cares whether the Corpus Christi Caller-Times or ABC News gets it first?  Why are we in such a hurry to learn trivia (yes, trivia) and yet so unwilling to pursue real mistakes that kill thousands or millions of people the slow way?  Is the story any different or stranger on a Tuesday vs. a Sunday?

But second, I care a lot less about what the Vice President does with his firearm than I do about the fact that other people around him have loaded firearms.  Think about it.  A 78-year-old lawyer is sneaking up behind the Vice President of the United States with a loaded gun.  Both of them might have had a beer or six at lunch.

Does anyone really think it's a good idea for civilians to be armed when within striking distance of either the President or the Vice President?  This time, Cheney made the mistake.  Next time, it could be Scalia.

There is something reckless going on.

Name: Carl Kolbet
Hometown: New York, NY
Dear Eric,
I noticed something very strange about David Horowitz's list of the 100 most dangerous professors in America.  Namely, not a single professor from Harvard is included.  Horowitz, Ann Coulter and their ilk, lead me to believe that Harvard is the center of liberal elite, ivory tower academia; yet it does not have even one professor dangerous enough to make the list.  What is going on?  The next thing you know we might find out that Hillary Clinton is not such a bad person, or that John Kerry actually earned his purple hearts.  I would say Horowitz just didn't look hard enough, but that might suggest his research methods are sloppy or imprecise.

Name: Janet Ward
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Somehow John McCain has morphed into the Republican darling of the left.  I can't figure it out, and, as much as I love Jon Stewart, I find it disgraceful the way he slobbers all over McCain whenever he's on the show.  McCain is just a more accomplished version of W.  Like W, who made himself over from a privileged child of the Ivy League via Kennebunkport into a hail-fellow-well-met rancher dude from the tumbleweeds of Texas, McCain has completely transformed himself from Keating Five scandalier and right wing nut case to something only a Nazi would call a moderate.  Don't get it.  Just do not get it.

Name: Steve
Hometown: Kokomo, Indiana
Dr. Alterman,
Another Cheney joke invented by my daughter-- I was explaining to my son how the Republicans here in Indiana were able to make us go on daylight savings time.  I explained that they were in the majority and voted that way.  My son then asked if Republicans cared about those who didn't want daylight savings time.  My daughter immediately replied "One Republican just shot another Republican.  Do you really think they care about you?"

Name: David Ehrenstein
Hometown: Los Angeles, Ca.
Dear Eric:
"The Adventures of Superman" was my favorite TV show as a kid.  Little did I know that I'd grow up to meet Jack Larson.  Little did I (or anyone else) suspect that "Jimmy Olson" led such a colorful life.  Part of Frank O'Hara's poetry circle, Jack has written librettos for Virgil Thompson operas, and produced the films "Urban Cowboy," "The China Syndrome" and "Mike's Murder" directed by his lover, the late James Bridges.  I keep nagging Jack to write his memoirs.  Hope he will.

Name: Edward Furey
Hometown: New York City
Also featured on the second season of Superman is one of the most influential television programs of all time.  It's no accident that the baby boomers tend to be the segment of American society least enthusiastic for the death penalty, thanks in part to the first episode in this package: "Five Minutes to Doom."  Clark and Lois are granted an interview with a death row inmate on the eve of his execution and Clark/Superman holds the man's wrist to act as a lie detector and realizes that he is telling the truth about his innocence.  The rest of the show is a race against time that ends when Superman smashes through the death house walls and short circuits the electric chair in a shower of sparks, with the prisoner closer to one second than five minutes to doom.  The final scene is reminiscent of the execution Rocky Sullivan/Cagney at the end of "Angels with Dirty Faces," except this time the guy being strapped in has been framed by the real killer.  Superman smashing through wall and short circuiting the electric chair is one of the most vivid and least discussed moments in the history of television.  At a very early age, a whole generation realized that the justice could go terribly wrong and that the death penalty was not the brightest of ideas.  And even here, Superman stays within the law and avoids vigilantism; he smashes into the prison carrying a reprieve from the governor.

Name:  David Sass
Hometown:  Houston, Tx
I beg to differ with Laura from Newport Beach.  Saying the hunting of pen raised birds is good for wildlife is like making a case for smoking by pointing out your gonna die of something.  Pen raised birds are used 1) to make sure the VIPs on the ranch actually see some birds and 2) to give even bad hunters a good chance to kill something.  We wouldn't want the Veep to go hunting and not see or kill a few birds.  He is liable to get all frustrated, fabricate intelligence and make Dubya send the troops into Iran.  Pen raised bird hunting is not designed to benefit wildlife, it is designed to satisfy fat cat politicians and corporate leaders so they won't take it out on the rest of us come Monday.

Eric replies:  And that’s a bad thing?

February 15, 2006 | 2:23 PM ET | Permalink

Worser, still?

One thing you depend on with the Bush people, whatever the current scandal is, there’s always a bigger scandal about to happen.  We worry they might be putting up a few phony blogs in Iraq, turns out they are doing so all over the media.  We see some torture photos for Abu Ghraib (which by the way is an “incubator for terrorists,” thank you very much); they hid the really bad ones.  We think we’re sending people to other countries for torture, turns out they have refurbished the gulag in Eastern Europe.  We think there’s a few hundred people on the terrorism we-jail-you-whenever-we-feel-like-it-for-however-long-we-feel-like list, turns out there are 325,000, here.  We think domestic wiretapping is a big problem for those of us who still hold our constitutional liberties dear—one which Congress does not have the courage to investigate -- turns out “former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights.  Look here.

Russell D. Tice told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations he has concerns about a "special access" electronic surveillance program that he characterized as far more wide-ranging than the warrantless wiretapping recently exposed by the New York Times but he is forbidden from discussing the program with Congress.

Tice said he believes it violates the Constitution's protection against unlawful search and seizures but has no way of sharing the information without breaking classification laws. He is not even allowed to tell the congressional intelligence committees - members or their staff - because they lack high enough clearance.

Neither could he brief the inspector general of the NSA because that office is not cleared to hear the information, he said.

So I have one more question:  How many other people has Vice-President Cheney shot recently?

Go to it, Mr. Feingold.

Exclusive!  Must credit!!!  Drudge reveals: Gore, Mondale, also shot their friends, hid it from public while sobering up. Humphrey stabbed small children. Democratic hypocrisy unveiled, here.*

Three jokes: I forget who wrote ‘em:

  • Did you hear today’s news? It seems Halliburton got the contract to remove the lead from Harry Whittington’s face.
  • So, Harry Whittington got some flowers today from the vice president’s office, and that was a nice gesture.  But still, there was something a little odd about it, because apparently, the card said, “Please speak into the third daisy from the left.”
  • I guess the army knew what it was doing when they gave him those five deferments.

And this, from Petey: New Republican slogan:  "The buckshot stops here."

More Media McLove for McCain Surprise Surprise:

The most frequent Sunday show guest during this nine-year period is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who has appeared 124 times. A staggering 69 percent (86 out of 124) of McCain's appearances have been solo interviews. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) has been the most frequent guest since 2003, but only 31 percent (25 out of 80) of his appearances have been solo interviews.

That’s from the Media Matters study which I’m not making a big deal about today because I’ve got a Nation column on it this week, but the McCain stuff got cut.  We note also with little surprise that both of the most heavily favored guests are actually to the right of Bush on Iraq, and completely out of step with the (irrelevant) American populace.  (And note, MMFA did not even include Fox's Sunday show, which outdraws ABC in many places, including I believe Washington, and almost certainly leans as far right as the rest, if not more.)

From Free Press:

Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) on Tuesday delivered nearly 40,000 petitions to the Justice Department and Congress, calling for an investigation into illegal "covert propaganda" produced by the Bush administration.  The groups began collecting the petitions last fall after an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Education illegally funneled more than $240,000 to pundit Armstrong Williams to tout Bush's education policy before the 2004 elections.  The petition calls on the administration "to fully disclose all administration expenditures for publicity" and to prosecute those responsible for illegal propaganda "to the fullest extent of the law."  — Here.

Peter Singer is right, here.  If we thought “negotiating with kidnappers” was so wrong, we wouldn’t be kidnapping people ourselves.  (Couldn’t be that we are hypocrites and are willing let a 25-year-old woman die for that, could it?)

I was interviewed at some length for this profile of Lou Dobbs.  I pointed out that during both the Anderson trial and the Gulf War, Dobbs deliberately misled his audience and could not be trusted to keep his partisan Republican views from distorting his news reportage.  I have nothing against advocacy journalism, goodness knows, but it depends on being fair to the evidence.  Dobbs is not.  The details are in What Liberal Media.  The reporter and/or editors decided not to include that particularly point, as is their right.  Still, I beg to differ.

Alter-reviews:  By Eric

TV on DVD:

Well, the highlight for me this month has been the second season of “The Adventures of Superman,” in which we get the Noel Neill as Lois Lane,; who is in all likelihood the one you remember, unless you caught the first season or saw the movies in the theater.  It’s a quite nostalgic picture of the news business too, which gives it a “Good Night and Good Luck” romantic air, without al that cigarette smoke. The circumstances of its production are actually quite fascinating and are written up in some detail here.

I’m happy to say that Hill Street Blues - Season 1, here, from 1981, wears remarkably well, and demonstrates that the early eighties were in most ways, even worse than the seventies (though politically, Ronald Reagan was a progressive, detail-oriented, reality-based president compared to “W.”).  What a sweetheart that Furillo was, and I never knew this was supposed to be Chicago.  Check it out.

While we’re on the topic of cop dramas, I’ve also watched a few NYPD Blue - The Complete Third Season, something I never saw when it aired.  It’s an advance from HSB in many ways, much more intense and emotionally wrenching.  This is our country’s art form, ladies and gentlemen, for better or worse.  Read all about it here.

And finally, I had high hopes for The Time Tunnel Vol. 1 from 1966.  I remember thinking how cool James Darren was (aka “Moondoggy” back when I was six.  Well, you really better be into nostalgia to invest in this.  Beginning with their landing on the Titanic, well, it’s amazing how the boys can’t seem to pick out a day in history where nothing awful happened.  Seems to me that the writers on Star Trek learned a lot from how to do this kind of thing more credibly, if you can believe that.  Anyway, if your interest is piqued, it’s here.

CSN Re-issues by Sal

Ok, they ain't no Arctic Monkeys, but Crosby, Stills, & Nash put out some fine music in their day, and Rhino, with little fanfare, has just reissued, expanded, and remastered a classic and a not-so-classic.

"Daylight Again" from 1982 is a much better record now than we all thought upon its release. "Wasted On The Way," while being a hit, was considered light weight, even for these guys. And the video for "Southern Cross" was in such heavy rotation on MTV, by 1983, millions of people knew how to sail without ever leaving their homes. Over 20 years later, these songs, as well as the beautiful "Delta" hold up nicely. All in all, "Daylight Again," now including 4 bonus tracks, is a keeper.

The real winner here is the debut from 1969. When talking about "greatest albums of all time," the obvious choices always come up. "Sgt. Pepper." "Blood On The Tracks." "Born To Run." But, "Crosby, Stills, & Nash" could easily fall into my top ten. Now, we have been blessed with what could be the best 4 bonus tracks ever tacked onto a reissue. A demo of "Teach Your Children" which found its way onto the follow-up "Deja Vu," features just Graham Nash & David Crosby. It sounds as if Nash had just finished teaching Crosby and was hoping for the best. And Crosby delivers with a slight variation on the chorus harmonies which will make you shake. Another gem is a loose take on Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin," which was a hit for the great Harry Nilsson. Here, Stephen Stills takes the lead while two of the greatest harmonizers in music show exactly what made their previous bands, The Byrds & The Hollies so legendary. "Do For The Others" and "Song With No Words" are as strong as the rest of the LP, even with the later sounding unfinished- Crosby scatting beautifully as the title implies.

Sal
NYCD

Correspondents’ Corner:

Name: Barb Goldstein
Hometown: Albany NY
Hi Eric -
Much as I would like to spend the day making whippy remarks about the Veep and the Shooting - I'd like to point out to you another program that has been zeroed out by the Bushistas: it is the Community Services Block Grant... we are the [remnant] of the War on Poverty.  We are a 600 million federal program designed to alleviate poverty, etc., etc., and just to give you perspective: when the War on Pov was declared by LBJ - funding for what would become the nation's community action agencies was $500 million. so in 42 years, we've gained 100 mill.... most of that in the 10 yrs since Clinton was pres.  Anyway, this block grant, in addition to paying my salary - yes, my ox could be gored - also provides funds for the nation's 1,000 community action agencies, which provide everything from employment counseling, head start, and senior meals to income tax prep, transportation, and youth services. Help! Don't let us die! [FYI - almost every pres has tried to kill us.. Raygun and Poppy Bush zeroed us out too] .... but the work that is done at the local level is astounding.  We are a small program, unsung mostly.  We need to be singing!

Name: Laura
Hometown: Newport Beach
Hey Eric,
I'm having some problems with the Cheney story.  Like how does a guy who's been hunting for well over 50 years suddenly forget everything he's ever learned about hunter safety?  How did a guy who only got "peppered pretty good" end up in intensive care?  And if you're the VP of the free world with the best staff money can buy, why wouldn't you have the proper paperwork to go hunting?  For all you non-hunters, the reason ranches raise birds for people to shoot is to protect wildlife.  The pen-raised quail are going to be dinner anyway, and there are plenty of people who are going to hunt anyway.  By bringing the two together, wild birds actually benefit.  The biggest problem with offering hunting services is the inexperienced hunter.  That's why these ranches are usually extraordinarily careful and watchful of their groups - people randomly shooting each other isn't good for business.  While the Armstrong Ranch is saying this happens all the time, I'll bet they can't tell you the last time it happened on their ranch or last time one of their customers ended up in intensive care.  So how come their management failed in this instance?  How come they didn't make sure Dick's paperwork was in order?

Name: Shannin
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN
The lies continue - there is a new commercial running here in Minnesota.  You can see it here. This is sponsored by Progress for America Voter Fund, and it uses 9/11 to tug at the heartstrings of middle America.  As someone who lost family and friends on 9/11, seeing this commercial use the death of thousands for an unjust war really boils my blood.

Name: Jim Garry
Hometown: Delmar, NY
I was looking at the Web site for the Daily News (I only look at it for the sports ... really!) and found " An ode to Cheney: No. 2 with a bullet!"

Name: Andrew LaFollette
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Dear Eric,
I am saddened and disappointed to learn that you did not make the list of the 100 most dangerous professors in America, which David Horowitz has right there in his hand.  Keep up the good work, all the same.  On a more serious note, what does it say about Horowitz that he considers holocaust deniers like Arthur Butz and HIV/AIDS revisionists like Peter Duesberg to be less dangerous than the likes of Eric Foner or Michael Berube?

Eric replies: Condolences accepted.

* Correction:  Drudge does not really reveal that.

February 14, 2006 |11:18 AM ET | Permalink

When the hunter is captured by the game

I went to a small book party last night for James Carville and Paul Begala hosted by Bill Clinton at the offices of his foundation up in Harlem. I don’t know James at all, really, but I’ve always liked Paul, who is a genuinely southern, Catholic, populist liberal Democrat, and who, unluckily for Dick Cheney, really knows how to hunt quail (and I’m guessing, not from the inside of a car). Over at TPM Café, Paul goes through some of the more obvious—to him anyway—holes in Cheney’s story and leaves the reader that--Rob Corddry below not withstanding—Cheney really is no more cautious in real life than when he is choosing which countries to instruct George W. Bush to invade.

Paul bent my proverbial ear for quite a while on this topic and well, seemed to really know what the heck he was talking about. Oddly enough, Clinton wanted to talk about the same thing. In his public remarks, after praising the authors, he bemoaned the fact that his wife was up for re-election and so he couldn’t be as honest about it as he might like to be, but privately afterward, he wanted nothing more than to engage in all kinds of analysis and speculation, and like Paul, demonstrating that Democrats hunt just like real Americans (and not, as a matter of fact, like Cheney, who only goes hunting with Republican fund-raising millionaires who look like quails and Supreme Court justices who hand them unearned election victories).

Anyway, if you read the comments to Paul’s post, you see that Cheney appears to have shot the guy almost point blank. When you consider that he never bothered notifying anyone, you have to wonder whether this mishap was, as are so many hunting incidents, alcohol-related. It would be the only sensible decision for delay, since it’s hard to believe that anyone could be so arrogant as to think that they could get away with a SSWVP (shooting-someone-while-vice-president). Otherwise, I guess I’m still a little worried that there’s a Rove angle to this and like, illegal domestic spying, will rebound somehow to help the Evil Ones.

Finally, Clinton was a quite gracious host and invited everyone into his office to check out all the stuff he saved from being president along with the photos. It’s a tribute to what fancy friends he has (Bob Rubin, Roger Altman, etc), that he didn’t worry too much about people putting stuff in their pockets and sneaking out. Believe me, I was tempted.

And let’s give the man a nod for a blow against childhood obesity, here.

Unavoidable Quote of the Day:  “Everyone believed there were quail in the brush," and "while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he would still have shot Mr. Whittington in the face."  —"Vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst," Rob Corddry.

Well, OK, there’s one, from Rob’s boss:

Now, this story certainly has its humorous aspects. ... But it also raises a serious issue, one which I feel very strongly about. ... moms, dads, if you’re watching right now, I can’t emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president.  I don’t care what kind of lucrative contracts they’re trying to land, or energy regulations they’re trying to get lifted — it’s just not worth it.

Iraq has become the deadliest country for journalists in the last quarter-century, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, story here.  My related CAP column from last week is here.

Now he tells us, Department:  Daniel Okrent, here:

He summarized the columns he wrote while public editor about alleged reporting and editing failures in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and the leadup to the Iraq invasion.  He told a questioner: “The general rolling over on the part of the American press allowed the war to happen.  I do believe that is true, and I think the press is extremely chastened by that.  I think we all know how bad it was."

Uh, oh, one more person who doesn’t understand the issue of domestic wire-tapping as well as Joe Klein (and his minions at Alternet), former top CIA  and Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism veteran, Larry Johnson, here.

Today’s Budget bad news is as follows:

More Budget Details: For the second year in a row the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) is zeroed out from the president's budget; there are no funds whatsoever for grants and only $510,000 is requested for staffing and administration for the remaining ongoing grants.  Once they are completed the program would be terminated.

Also zeroed out is all funding for Senator Lamar Alexander's (R.TN) Congressional and Presidential Academies which this last year the Department of Education (ED) launched with awards of just under $2 million to several organizations.  If the president's proposal is embraced by Congress, the ED's popular "Teaching American History" (TAH) grant initiative would be cut in excess of 50 percent as the president has requested only $50 million for this program in FY 2007.

The administration advanced a curious rationale for the cut in funding for the TAH grant program. In the budget proposal the president asserts that, "the number of quality applications for assistance under this program [TAH] in recent years does not justify the current level of funding ($121 million)."  Hence, the reduced request reflects "the anticipated number of high-scoring applicants" and would generate "about 52 new awards."  According to departmental and Hill insiders and education advocates who monitor ED programs, the collective view is that the president's assertion that the number of "quality" applications has declined is of "questionable veracity."

Another big loser is the National Park Service. According to National Parks Conservation Association, a citizen watchdog group, the president proposes a cut of $100.4 million in the NPS budget.  Last year's appropriation was $2.25 billion and this year the budget request is scaled back to $2.15 billion.  Most of the cuts come in construction and land acquisition of which there is only one project recommended for funding - for the Flight 93 National Historic Site in Pennsylvania that commemorates the terrorist attack of 9/11.

Thanks to the NCH for the above. They could use a hand.

Alter-reviews, Oldies

Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label —“Operating as a kind of mini-Motown with a stable of house musicians and composers, Miami's Deep City Records delivered a modest catalog in the mid-60s.”  Plus, it’s good for you.  More here.

James Talley, “Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, but We Sure Got a Lot of Love: 30th Anniversary Edition”  —This is just plain great in every way, and the perfect place to start with Talley if, as is likely, you are unfamiliar with his work.  Read all about him here and see what Jimmy Carter and I are so excited about it.

The Highwaymen; The Road Goes on Forever, Remastered —This is one of the greatest records in the world. You’re really nuts not to buy it if you don’t have it.  Read Geoffrey Himes’ review here.  The video is watchable but forgettable.

The Talking Heads, everything. —Rhino has broken out its “brick” from last year’s elaborate box set and released the individual albums.  If the brick is too pricey, and you object to the difficult-to-file elongated box set, then well, you must have the first four of these.  They helped save rock n roll.  After that, you can cherry-pick or go the greatest hits route.  And while we’re here, I think I’d pick up “The Name of this Band is” as they were a revelation live. More here.

T-Rex, Four more, here  —I am a greatest hits man when it comes to T-Rex, but these re-releases are elaborate and filled with great extra stuff if you’re not.

The Very Best Of Roberta Flack —Soul music doesn’t get much better than “Killing Me Softly” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The rest is very hit and miss.  More here.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, Velvet Redux: Live MCMXCIII  (DVD), here  —“Filmed live at the Paris Olympia on June 15, 16, and 17, 1993, Live MCMXCIII captures the original lineup—Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Moe Tucker—on extended versions of VU classics like "Femme Fatale," "Pale Blue Eyes," and "Heroin," and on more obscure fare like "Hey Mr. Rain" and "I'm Sticking With You" (both of which remained unreleased for years after the band's breakup.”  This is a lot better than I remember it from seeing it in the theater, and is the only video presentation of the band of which I’m aware, though you know, while it is all them, it’s not really “the band.”

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Africa Unite: The Singles Collection (Island/Tuff Gong/UM) —“Along with 17 vintage tracks, Africa Unite: The Singles Collection spotlights "Slogans," the first new official Marley track released in more than a decade. It is believed Marley recorded the song in a Miami bedroom in 1979.” (with Clapton overdubbed on guitar). Otherwise it’s yet another Marley package, More here but check out the (previously recommended) Live at the Rainbow DVD here if you already have this stuff.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Stephen Koyen
Hometown: Aloha, OR
Interesting.  I e-mailed McCain asking him how he, as a Vietnam vet, could support Bush.  I am US Navy vet, 69-72, and could not imagine anyone from that era support another cast of liars who took us to war.  I didn't serve in Vietnam, but know many who did.  The war was based on lies.  McCain did respond stating he felt Bush represented the best case for addressing the war on terror.  This after the lies of South Carolina and everything that has followed.  McCain is just another politician trying for the gold ring.  To hell with the troops and the country.  Bush screwed McCain and the men and women in uniform, but, what the hell, John will align himself with Bush for his own political gains.  Shame on John McCain.

Name: Jim Goetsch
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
RE: the Katrina report I truly think this report misses the mark when it ascribes the Bush Administration lack of response as incompetence.  If you dig into correspondence during the early set-up of Homeland Security, there is evident an attitude that this was an aspect of federal government that was to be reduced and pushed back on local and state governments.  Once this attitude is understood, then all the statements by the Bush people during and after the disaster are no longer incomprehensible; they wanted to get the federal government out of disaster relief, and the non-response was a very willful decision on their part to dismantle a facet of the federal government they did not want.  So this is not about competence, this is about philosophy, and very definitely a very valid issue that the Democrats need to run on next year.  Do Americans really want to elect national leaders that do not believe the federal government has a role to play in disasters?  Do they really believe this can be done by state and local governments?

Name:  DMC
Hometown:  Fishers, IN
Good news for your friend (Doctorow) and freedom, even in a red state.

Name: Matt
Hometown: Medford, OR
Regarding the Dick Cheney hunting accident: It happened when they got out of a car to shoot some quail?  So driving around in a car until you find something to shoot is considered sportsmanlike?  How do you shoot someone who walks up behind you?  I'm sure Cheney will blame Saddam Hussein for this.  I thought they taught firearm safety in the military.  But then, if Cheney didn't get his five deferments maybe he would have learned something.

Name: Gregg South
Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Regarding Calamity Dick Cheney's little hunting accident, The Rude Pundit is a must read. Note: Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics.

February 13, 2006 |12:02 PM ET | Permalink

The Real McCain

If you read Joe Lelyveld’s 8400 word profile of Chuck Hagel, here, you’ll see that Hagel is everything John MCain pretends to be—and what his suck-up fan club in the press corps build him up to be.  Hagel does what he thinks is right and accepts the consequences.  He does not do what he knows is wrong and then apologize afterwards to show what a regular guy he is.  He does not brown-nose the people who cut him off at the knees and he does not attack honest legislators like Barack Obama to curry favor with the racist and/or regressive elements of his party.  If only he had had the nerve to vote against the war which he now, at least, has the courage to oppose.

Now look at McCain, here.  It’s pathetic that this is the media’s idea of a heroically plain-spoken politician.  As Media Matters points out, McCain couldn’t get better press from the insider media if he had pictures of all of them having sex with, well, matters of taste preclude from finishing that sentence.  They ask, “Has any political figure ever been the beneficiary of the kind of relentlessly positive, often-sycophantic media coverage Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has enjoyed for as long as we can remember?”  Let us count the ways, here:

While other politicians face regular media second-guessing and cynicism about their motives and consistency, McCain is presented as a paragon of virtue, tirelessly and selflessly toiling away to make America a better place. His "years of work" for lobbying reform are mentioned; his refusal to investigate Jack Abramoff's ties to lawmakers is not.   Lobbying reform is described as a "very personal issue" to him; his own reliance on campaign cash generously provided by lobbyists with business before his committee and his frequent use of corporate jets is ignored. And when his involvement in the infamous Keating Five scandal is mentioned, it tends to be by way of explaining why he is so passionate about reform - the fact that the Senate Ethics Committee found that he had "exercised poor judgment" in the scandal is less often mentioned.

Nor is McCain as consistent on campaign finance reform as his publicists in the news media would have you believe. Think Progress explains that McCain has now flip-flopped (don't hold your breath waiting for the media to use that phrase to describe McCain) on public financing of elections:

In December 2002, appearing on PBS' NOW with Bill Moyers, McCain spoke enthusiastically about expanding public financing of elections, saying Arizona's public financing law could "absolutely" be used as a model for the whole nation.

[...]

Now, he is refusing to even discuss public financing and attacking others for even considering it.

But McCain's uniformly positive press extends beyond mere questions of policy. Media figures like MSNBC's Chris Matthews genuinely appear to swoon whenever he walks in the room; news organizations make editorial decisions that amount to an in-kind contribution to his prospective 2008 presidential campaign.

During a McCain interview with Lauer, NBC plastered McCain's 2000 presidential campaign slogan across the screen, declaring: "Straight Talk from John McCain."  Try to imagine an NBC interview with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) that included an onscreen graphic blaring "John Kerry: A Stronger America."  Yet when it comes to McCain, this sort of media treatment -- which would be inconceivable in the case of nearly any other candidate, Democrat or Republican -- is the norm. On his Daily Howler website, Bob Somerby described a February 6, 2005, McCain appearance on ABC's This Week, during which McCain was interviewed by host George Stephanopoulos:

Try to believe -- just try to believe -- that a major host actually said it:

STEPHANOPOULOS (2/6/05): Okay, let's turn to Social Security. Two straight-talk questions right at the top...

Good God! Two "straight-talk" questions? Knowing McCain's favorite term of self-praise, Stephanopoulos started by pimping it for him!

[...]

[A]s Stephanopoulos pandered, the situation kept going downhill. Try to believe that this occurred even after McCain's first misstatements:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final straight-talk questions: What kind of benefit cuts should future retirees expect?

[...]

Good God! Even after McCain's original misstatements, Stephanopoulos was still pimping his "straight-talker" slogan for him.

[...]

Do you see why it's easy to disinform voters with "journalists" like Stephanopoulos around? Try to believe that we saw what we did -- that we saw a major TV host pimping a major pol's favorite slogan, pretending he was getting "straight talk" even as his "straight-talking" guest was making weird misstatements.

And on February 7, Matthews interviewed McCain about the senator's public exchange of letters with fellow Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL); Matthews promoted the segment by announcing, "We'll get the straight talk from Senator McCain himself in just a moment," then went on to ask McCain a series of fawning, leading questions, leaving little doubt whose side he took. And, sure enough, McCain picked up Matthews' cue and twice described his own comments as "straight talk."

Quote of the Day:  "Nobody's going to get to the right of John on the war or spending." Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

Lying/Incompetent/Extremist/Worst President-of-All-Time-story of the Day, I:  Katrina 

Hurricane Katrina exposed the U.S. government's failure to learn the lessons of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as leaders from President Bush down disregarded ample warnings of the threat to New Orleans and did not execute emergency plans or share information that would have saved lives, according to a blistering report by House investigators. A draft of the report, to be released publicly Wednesday, includes 90 findings of failures at all levels of government.

Lying/Incompetent/Extremist/Worst President-of-All-Time-story of the Day, II:  Expert on Congress' Power Claims He Was Muzzled for Faulting Bush, here. (WSJ$)

Lying/Incompetent/Extremist/Worst President-of-All-Time-story of the Day, III: Cheney Role Risks Political Fallout CIA-Leak Case May Hand War Critics Momentum, But Legal Issues Are Slim, here. (WSJ$)

And while we’re on the topic of trusting the Bush team to spy on our phone calls, now compare Newsweek’s liberal columnist Jon Alter with that of Time’s Joe Klein.

Lying/Incompetent/Extremist/Worst President-of-All-Time-story of the Day, IV:  Bush to Science: Stay Dead By Todd Gitlin

Though he didn't say so publicly, Bush is a dissenter on the theory of global warming....He avidly read Michael Crichton's 2004 novel State of Fear, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to curb global warming....Early in 2005, political adviser Karl Rove arranged for Crichton to meet with Bush at the White House.  They talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement.  The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalist s all the more.

—Fred Barnes, Rebel-in-Chief:  Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush, pp. 22-23

Fred-Barnes related Quote of the Day: 

“I don’t want loyalty,” he once told an aide.  “I want loyalty.  I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.  I want his pecker in my pocket.”

—Lyndon Johnson (David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Random House, 1969) 434

Scary too: Ronald Dworkin on Alito.

One more Quote of the Day: 

I mean, you know, I think these civil rights leaders are nothing more than racists.  And they're keeping constituency, they're keeping their neighborhoods and their African-American brothers enslaved, if you will, by continuing to let them think that they're -- or forced to think that they're victims, that the whole system is against them.

Mary Matalin

Just asking:  Has tough-guy Little Roy, together with his corporate sponsors at Time, published the Danish cartoons, or is he merely demanding that other journalists risk their life and limb to do so?  More here.

And it looks like the White House was as eager to tell the truth about Cheney’s shooting his buddy as it was to admit that there were no WMD, here.  The Vice President's office says they "deferred [to the owner of the ranch], Mrs. Armstrong about what had taken place on her property."  That’s a little bit like finishing a book about a goat because you don’t want to upset a bunch of school kids just because your nation has been attacked.  And by the way, this hunting-animals-that-are-raised-to-be-shot-by-people-who-can’t-hunt-for-real, well it reminds me of Cheney’s handling of the White House press corps.

‘Scuse me, while I walk across the Galilee. 

Speaking of which, say what you will about the man, he has good taste in classics.  "Asked again in early February in an interview with TIME in his Senate office what he had been reading, Obama had an answer this time:  E.L. Doctorow's new novel about the Civil War, The March, and the Bible,” here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Jim Celer
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Why would the very words "secret government wiretapping" (used by President Carter at the funeral) be offensive to someone who proudly boasts of his secret government wiretapping?  Why would the color of the victims of Katrina embarrass someone who had nothing but praise for Brownie and whose first expression of relief was over Trent Lott's recuperative powers?  And I'd think someone who went out of his way to start a war, and has devoted his administration to cutting social programs, would jump up and say "Yeah!" when Rev. Lowery says, "For war, billions more, but no more for the poor."  Why the brouhaha over things that, when HE provides the context, Bush is happy to be associated with?  Sounded like a pro-Bush funeral to me.  On another note, Democrats keep losing mainly because they are hammered in the Republican media.  They are lied about and bullied, their messages are distorted and filtered -- and of course the refs are being worked so that gradually, "Republican media" is becoming redundant.  All the soul searching and message nuancing is nice, but the core reason for the Dem's troubles is that GOP propaganda is working.

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL
Eric--
Wow that was one pathetic performance by Norm Coleman in his questioning of Michael Brown.  Give Norm credit, he got tagged by the administration to hang it all on Brownie, and he accepted his marching orders.  But Coleman's significantly less than a heckuva job here, suggests that the administration might be running short on allies; either that or their competence in this area is as threadbare as in all others.  But you've got to have a little sympathy for Norm, after all.  It's one thing to be outmatched rhetorically by the likes of George Galloway, but when a sad sack like Brownie outduels you, ouch.  Coleman's final words take on an entirely different meaning than he might have intended:  "My time is up."  And in the remarkable timing category, I'd like to nominate Porter Goss, whose NYTimes op-ed piece addresses the steps he's taken to end dangerous leaks appears on the same day that a CIA agent blows the whistle on the administration's lies in advance of the war.

Name:  Olivia L.
Hometown:  Dallas, Tx.
I just want to say, Guns don't kill people. Vice presidents kill people. That is all. ;)

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