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Altercation

July 16, 2004 | 12:06 PM ET

Slacker Friday
I’ve got a Nation column here, but guess what?  Pierce has one too. It’s here.  Mine’s about mistaken coverage of the Intel report and his is about his home state of Librul Massachusetts.  (I’ve renamed my column, by the way, to “The Liberal Media” for reasons I explain in the column, which also, by the way, should carry a parental advisory for its vice-presidential-like language...) 

I also have a new “Think Again” column here.  That one’s clean.  And it’s called “Fox Outfoxes Itself.” 

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Joe Wilson’s rebuttal of the charges leveled against him in the Senate report and celebrated by those ideological soul-mates Christopher Hitchens and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, is here

And there’s a rare, no-nonsense apology from the Times editorial board regarding the newspaper’s WMD coverage here.  It reads in part, “We did not listen carefully to the people who disagreed with us.  Our certainty flowed from the fact that such an overwhelming majority of government officials, past and present, top intelligence officials and other experts were sure that the weapons were there.  We had a groupthink of our own.”  Congrats to them for that, but of course the important question is not how well do they apologize but by how much does the coverage improve.  (And where is the Jayson Blair-like examination of what went wrong? [And by the way, once again, is helping the administration mislead the country into an unnecessary war an example of liberal media bias?])

Don’t think I’ve forgotten today’s “Nader is a Traitor” item. It’s here.

Finally, the worst humanitarian crisis of our time continues to roll on, all but ignored by our Powers that Be.  The average life expectancy in parts of sub-Saharan Africa is now 33.  More here.

Now onto the main event.

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
Hey Doc:
Apropos of yesterday's missive, in which I noted that Tucker Carlson had dismissed the plight of a disemboweled child as a "Jacuzzi case," I noticed that Tucker was reported in yesterday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram as having said the following to an audience of TV critics:

"Look," says Carlson, when confronted about his obvious role-playing on Crossfire (where he'll remain) and Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.  "They're all the real me.  I never say anything I don't believe on Crossfire.  I mean, there's no reason to lie."

So, he's an entitled smug-merchant without the decency God gave the coldest stone, but HE'S NOT INSINCERE!  Makes you thank the Whatever for Rick Hertzberg's new anthology, which is so brimming with humane intelligence that I may finally forgive Rick for having been on the wrong side of the 1976 Democratic nomination battle, despite the fact that my Udallite soul remains a bit raw over the Wisconsin primary.  That his profile is not higher than Tuckerboy's is pretty compelling evidence that the major media in this country are run by gibbering baboons.

There really is only one issue in this election.  Since the Extended Florida Unpleasantness, this has been an Adminstration utterly unconcerned with any restraints, constitutional or otherwise, on its power.  It has been contemptuous of the idea of self-government, and particularly of the notion that an informed populace is necessary to that idea.  It recognizes neither parliamentary rules nor constitutional barriers.  (Just for fun, imagine that the Senate had not authorized force in Iraq.  Do you think for one moment that C-Plus Augustus wouldn't have launched the war anyway, and on some pretext that we'd only now be discovering was counterfeit?)  It does not accept the concept of principled opposition, either inside the administration or outside of it.  It refuses to be bound by anything more than its political appetites.  It wants what it wants, and it does what it wants.  It is, at its heart, and in the strictest definition of the word, lawless.  It has the perfect front men: a president unable to admit a mistake because he's spent his entire life being insulated from even the most minor of consequences, and a vice-president who is viscerally furious at the notion that he is accountable to anyone at all.  They are abetted by a congressional majority in which all of these un-American traits are amplified to an overwhelming din.

So, now we are faced with the question:  Do you want to live in a country where these people no longer feel even the vaporous restraints of having another election to win?

BUSH-CHENEY UNLEASHED.  Up or down? Yes or no?

That's the only issue that matters.

P.S. -- Now, after the Ditka fiasco, isn't it plain that the obvious Republican senatorial candidate in Illinois is U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald?  What's that you say?  He's busy investigating the White House over Valerie Plame?  Tough break.

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

Hey Eric, it's Stupid to say "Oh no you didn't!  Tell me you did not just say that!"  I'm referring to Monday's calling-out of us "liberal hawks" for failing to realize "the more democratic Arab nations become, the more anti-American/anti-Israeli/pro-terrorist they become.  Arafat is more moderate than the Palestinians who would replace him."  (In a way this is good: you haven't written anything in a while that I completely disagree with!)

First, I challenge both premises.  Arab nations with a degree of democracy (Jordan, Qatar, Iraq) are hardly more anti-U.S./pro-terrorist than Saudi Arabia.  Expand "Arab" to "Middle East" and this is more so.  Even in Iran, the pro-democracy forces are less stridently anti-American/Israel than the old hardliners.  OK, you got me on Egypt, but they're the exception.  As to Yasir Arafat, given that the man has likened any peace with Israel to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah (i.e., temporary) and indirectly uses terrorists like the Al Aqsa Brigades, how is he "more moderate"?  He's just more strategic.  And that Post article you linked to shows the Palestinians seem more upset with Arafat/Fatah's corruption than soft line towards Israel.  

But let's assume you are correct.  Democracies are far more dynamic than dictatorships.   If nothing else, in a democracy a counterpart to Yitzhak Rabin could emerge as an available choice for the Palestinians.  After another year of wall construction (love it or hate it, terrorism has gone way down since construction began) the voters' mood might shift.  And wouldn't an agreement signed by a representative government have a better chance to last than one that could be renounced as illegitimate the moment Fatah was thrown from power?  Finally, history shows that we're better pushing for democracy and living with the results -- the "moderate" dictatorship either 1) falls anyway (Iran), 2) coddles our enemies (Saudi Arabia) or 3) will otherwise come back to haunt us (China).

P.S. One more week to Paula Zahn Sudan Day!

Name: John Curtin
Hometown: Boston

Dear Doc,
This is how I know that Bill O'Reilly is an arrogant, incompetent boob:  A few years ago, when I was working at WRKO-AM in Boston, the nationwide-jackass-to-be filled in for Howie Carr (that's a whole 'nother story) a couple of times.  One day in particular, the top story was the parole request of Gerald "Tooky" Amirault, one of the main defendants in the landmark Fells Acres Day Care child molestation case.  My co-producer and I came to dear William with piles of articles and prep work on the story, which he proceeded to waive off, saying that he didn't need all that, he knew how to get this one going.  Mind you, this was THE story that day.  Every newscast led off with it, and since Rush immediately precedes Howie, no one had really talked about it for a few hours.  O'Reilly got crickets, nothing.  Calls trickled in, mostly due to his inability to get a firm grip on the story and present it in any coherent way.  So how did he explain his failing?  By blaming us, the producers, for not preparing him adequately for the show.  Anyone who thinks he has any knowledge of the stories he pretends to cover on his show is a prime candidate for ownership of Florida swampland.  I will never trust a single thing he says, because he is a world-class dope.

Name: David
Hometown: Devon. PA
RE:  Abu Ghuraib
Dear Eric,
As always, I find myself asking, "What liberal media?" when I see a piece like this at Juan Cole's Web site

Iraqi Boys Sodomized at Abu Ghuraib: Hersh

Sy Hersh, the journalist who broke the Abu Ghuraib prison torture scandal, told an American Civil Liberties Union audience that film exists of young Iraqi men at Abu Ghuraib being sodomized by US troops. He said, 'The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war.'
...
Does anyone else see an irony here? Isn't this the same administration that just tried to tinker with the United States constitution in order to prevent government sanction for sodomy?

The piece has made me particularly outraged at the media for its collective amnesia, laziness and complaisance because I just returned from 3 weeks in Europe where ordinary people (across the political spectrum) are still talking about the abuses.  Americans don't seem to realize, or care that they are on the verge of being perceived much as white South Africans were in 1984-85.  Let's remember that when we hear how W. has restored honor and integrity to the White House.

Name: Jerry Calabrese
Hometown: Montclair, NJ

I'm an American of Italian extraction who has spent most of his life working and socializing with Jews, and Judaism is a culture that I respect and admire.  I'm having a very tough time separating my lifelong connection with Jews and Judaism from the current political situation in the Middle East.  I'm having an even tougher time making it clear that my opposition to Sharon's extremist policies does not suddenly make me an anti-Semite.  My real concern is that the seemingly blind support of our current president for Sharon's government will lead to a serious backlash in the U.S. when the general population of our nation realizes that we are not only going against the majority of world opinion on this issue, but that doing so is not in the interest of the U.S., or the long term interest of Israel.  Are there political action groups of like minded gentiles and Jews with which you could connect me?

Name: John Starr
Hometown: Richmond, VA

For once, I'm disappointed in you.  You got it wrong.  Although Kate Pierson of the B-52's bopped over to R.E.M. to join them on the song "Shiny Happy People" (not "Shiny, Happy People Holding Hands"), the song is on the R.E.M. album Out of Time.  And what was with that "Rock Lobster of a screw-up" metaphor?  Not only is it inaccurate, but it's bad writing. Incidentally, R.E.M. has a much better phrasing for you, from one of their album titles. How about "a 'Monster' of a screw-up?"  Even on dial-up, you can get this info with a quick search on Google. But don't worry about it too much.  Although I may be Losing My Religion that you are not capable of mistakes, you still have my vote when you decide to run for President. You Belong in the White House. Just a little Low Country Feedback from Me In Honey, Half A World Away, Near Wild Heaven, but not near Texarkana.  Well, I'm nearing the Endgame of my R.E.M. Radio Song wordplay, so I'll end this Document and get on with Life's Rich Pageant.

Eric replies:
Dear John,
Just what is your frequency, dude?  I was pointing out that it was an R.E.M. song, and not a B-52 song, despite its guest lead singer.  Now quit smoking so much dope and stand in the place where you live, until you’ve said you’re sorry.

Name: Republican
Hometown: Middle America

Eric Alterman, why do you hate america?

July 15, 2004 | 11:20 AM ET

Slacker Thursday:

There’s a trailer for “Outfoxed” here, and the Center for American Progress has some more examples of Foxiness here.

What a Rock Lobster of a screw-up by The Note:

"Kinda reminds you have that B-52's song "Shiny, Happy People Holding Hands," doesn't it?"

I’ve been working on dial-up all week and hence, have not seen any of the mail yet.  Sorry about that.  Meanwhile, I’m traveling today and must rely on the great Pierce to pick up the proverbial slack.  Here's the man.

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:
Because every day, even the day before it, is Slacker Friday, Part The XIX.

In 1994, an eight-year old girl named Valerie Lakey was playing in a wading pool.  She got caught in a defective drain.  Her intestines were ripped from her body by the suction.  She is now 17.  She will have to be fed through a tube, 12 hours a day, for the rest of her life.  In 1997, John Edwards won her family a $25 million judgment, of which he took a portion.  The judgment helped jump-start his political career.

On the first day of last year, as part of his opening comments on Crossfire, this is how the incident was described by Tucker Carlson, whom public and private broadcasting networks tumble all over themselves to hire: "Four years ago, he (Edwards) was a personal-injury lawyer specializing in Jacuzzi cases."

Jacuzzi cases.

An eight-year old who got disemboweled.

Jacuzzi cases.

A child who'll have to be fed through a tube for as long as she lives.

Jacuzzi cases.

Now, I know it's a terrible thing when Whoopi Goldberg makes salacious fun of C-Plus Augustus's last name.  I know that society may simply collapse.  But here is a professional communicator at the top of his profession who, because he couldn't come up with anything else to say at the moment, smugly dispatches the tragedy of a child whose guts were ripped out.  (Later in the same show, he told co-host James Carville to "Lighten up," about his comments.)  It was an interesting evening -- not only should Tucker Carlson have lost every job in the professional media that he has, and not only did he lose forever any right to criticize anyone for intemperate speech, he at that moment should have been shunned by decent people for the rest of his sorry life.

Jacuzzi cases.

Christ.

The Ralph Item (c/o PRWatch.com)

Citizens for a Sound Economy, a national organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R., Texas), is widening its efforts to help presidential candidate Ralph Nader get on the ballot in pivotal states. A recent news release from the corporate-backed group says it plans to pursue those efforts 'in key battleground states like Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.'  John Stauber, founder and executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, said today: 'The Republican machine is mobilizing for Nader. Major Republican funders are sending checks to Nader, and a far-right industry-funded front group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, is organizing to get Ralph on the November ballot in a number of swing states.  Nader, the sworn enemy of corporate power and influence, has become its not-so-secret weapon for the November election.'
Source: Institute for Public Accuracy news release, July 13, 2004

This just in: more on Ralph the Republican
Also it's happening in West Virginia: the Charleston Gazette says people are reporting being stopped by "guys wearing big stickers on their shirts that read 'W '04'" who are asking for help in putting "an independent candidate on the ballot."  It's here.

Correction:  Yesterday I employed the New York Times figures for the funding of "Outfoxed."  Robert Greenwald has since informed me that both the Center for American Progress and Moveon.org put up equal amounts, with the balance secured by loans.

July 14, 2004 | 12:49 PM ET

Just what is Fox trying to say?
The New York Times won't respond to Fox’s accusations re Robert Boynton’s Magazine piece last week, but I will.  Fox accuses the Times of "taking orders from" a George Soros-funded Web site," and describes Soros as "a left-wing billionaire currency speculator who funds many liberal efforts."

This is a particularly nasty and malicious bit of false innuendo.  First off, while the Center for American Progress did give Robert Greenwald $80,000 to support “Outfoxed” it had no say whatever over its editorial content and did not see a single frame until it was completed.  It obviously had nothing whatever to do with Boyton’s magazine story.  So Fox is just lying right there. 

Second, the “Web site”—which is of course, a think-tank (where I am a Senior Fellow)- is funded by Soros, but he is far from its most significant funder.  That would be the Sandlers of Northern California.  So why is Fox picking on Soros?  I don’t know for sure, but we do know that Sean Hannity, Tony Blankley and Bill O’Reilly have proven part of a nasty disinformation campaign to slander Soros with anti-Semitic codewords and images, and attack his religious beliefs on Fox and elsewhere.  We note here the term “left-wing billionaire currency speculator” which can be read in some benighted circles as another way of saying “filthy, greedy, wealthy Jewish troublemaker.”  For shame.

Meanwhile, Fox News continues to feel the heat from Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed."  As Boehlert at Salon notes, FNC execs don't handle the heat very well.  In Romenesko's letters column, former Fox producer Charlie Reina writes, “Now here's the scary part. Having worked there for six years (until April, 2003), I can tell you that the sordid picture of Fox News Channel presented in Greenwald’s documentary is, if anything, understated.  It's only the tip of the iceberg.”  Mark Jurkowitz of The Boston Globe has a piece here while David Cole, the law professor, recounts his experiences with O’Reilly here.  Robert Greenwald could hardly ask for a stronger confirmation of his primary contention about the fundamental dishonesty of Fox and its flagship loudmouth.

Wonkette has the Fox Memos.

Last week, The Note complained that the mainstream media were not making a big enough deal over the fact that Whoopi Goldberg made a few tasteless references to Bush’s name during the Democrats’ fundraiser at Radio City.  I found this amazing.  Does anybody at that super-smart organization really think it matters in the slightest whether Hollywood performers say dirty words?  Will this make John Kerry a worse president?  Do they think Goldberg was speaking for the campaign?  Do they think anyone even approved the remarks in advance?  No, they were just complaining that the media weren’t being stupid enough.  One expects this kind of thing from Drudge, but really what’s next?  Are they going to complain that there’s not enough Laci Peterson coverage?  Not enough celebrities on Larry King?  Even Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard does not really think it worthwhile to make a big deal out of Goldberg’s remarks.  That means The Note was being more partisan (and pretend stupid) than the Weekly Standard.  Nice work if you can get it.

Speaking of both anti-Semitism and the Weekly Standard, I came across this article describing an alleged incident in which a Jewish woman was allegedly attacked by a Jew-hating mob that has since been proven to be a hoax.  Little Roy wrote, “Yet another sickening anti-Semitic attack in France, and the usual blathering from Chirac about it.  When Chirac actually criticizes his favorite Arab states for fomenting anti-Semitism, then I'll take him seriously.”  (He has noted the hoax.)  The Standard, whose report was more (and appropriately) skeptical, had not, as of 10:30 a.m. this morning. 

Whenever I question the evidence of anti-Semitism in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter), my inbox fills up with Jewish hate mail signed by Jews.  Because the false reports of this incident appeared on the same day I happened to do so this week, I heard about it from my nasty correspondents about a hundred times.  Let’s be clear.  Even if the incident had turned out to be true, it would have had no impact on anything I say.  Only in our foolish cable-driven political culture do people think that a single incident of anything proves a long-term, widespread trend.  I don’t mind the mail so much, though, because I kind of like the idea of e-mails from these ‘Kosher-er’ than the Pope Jews being turned into spam.

The “Ralph” Item:
Question of the Day: Is Ralph Nader genuinely, and I don't mean metaphorically, insane?  Take a look at this quote, to Salon’s David Talbot:

Ralph: “We're not going to play the fascist game of the two-party monopoly barricading itself from any competition, with all kinds of statutory obstruction that cost third parties immense time and money if they can surmount them. This is a dictatorship, which you don't seem to understand.”

(P.S. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus apparently vote yes.)

We're makin' money!  Can I have a raise?

July 13, 2004 | 11:05 AM ET

“Outfoxed” Arrives
Here is Rush and Malloy's report from yesterday’s press conference at which I appeared on behalf of “Outfoxed”  (The movie is profiled here by Rob Boyton in the Times Magazine on Sunday and the FAIR study commissioned to support its work is here. Salon’s coverage is here.  You can order the DVD if you like, here.):

At a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton, Murdoch's former employees - Fox News terrorism expert Larry Johnson, Fox News Washington reporter Alexander Kippen, Fox News booker Clara Frenk and Fox News freelance writer David Korb - stood with Robert Greenwald, the director of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," a documentary on FNC that screens tonight at the New School University downtown.

Johnson said his appearances on Fox News ceased last year when he questioned the war in Iraq.  "They never asked me back again," Johnson told The News' Brian Harmon.
Korb said he received orders to "make protesters look stupid and use footage of small crowds where the protesters look like pot-smoking liberals."

For his film, Greenwald obtained internal FNC memos in which execs order newswriters to describe events in a Republican-friendly way.

A Fox spokeswoman released a statement at the press conference that called the four ex-staffer's concerns "hardly worth addressing," adding that "some left due to incompetence."

Elsewhere yesterday, a former New York Post reporter claimed that Murdoch tried to dictate his stories on the media.

In a posting on Jim Romenesko's media Web site, Dan Cox said that when he was the Post's media reporter in 2002, "barely a day went by when Murdoch didn't force-feed items about his rival media moguls ...

"Not only were we not allowed to ask Murdoch any specific questions about these 'tips,' we were not allowed to check their veracity - anywhere."

Cox added, "Murdoch expected us to use them wholesale, unattributed, of course."

Though I’ve not seen the movie yet, and cannot speak either to the praise or criticism it is receiving in the media, I did speak at the press conference in order to represent American Progress and to add a little historical context, I did my “working the refs” spiel and my “that’s why we have a First Amendment” spiel and threw in this section from the new afterward to the paperback edition of What Liberal Media?

As the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, approached, Americans' ignorance continued to build.  Seven in 10 Americans questioned insisted at the time that Hussein played a direct role in the attacks.  On the one hand this was surprising.  After all, no credible evidence for it had appeared anywhere.  On the other hand, the creation of this misperception had been at the center of the administration’s strategy to win the argument for war.  An in-depth study undertaken for the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes and published around the time of the second anniversary of the attacks found that over sixty percent of Americans believed one of the following misperceptions:

  • There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.
  • U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  • People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.

Moreover, the researchers discovered a direct correlation between these misperceptions and the consumption of television news as opposed to newspapers or National Public Radio. According to its figures, 80 percent of Fox News’ audience and 71 percent of CBS’s bought into at least one of the above falsehoods. Meanwhile only 47 percent of newspaper and magazine readers and just 23 percent of those who said they relied on PBS or NPR found themselves similarly misled.  And lest we forget, phony ideas have consequences. Support for Bush’s war reached 53 percent among those who believed one of the lies, 78 percent among those who accepted two of them and a full 86 percent among those who embraced all three. Meanwhile fewer than a quarter of people who understood the truth of the situation--rejecting all three phony canards—were willing to take a trip on Bush and Cheney’s not-so excellent adventure.

I am moderating a panel discussion on media concentration tonight that precedes its premier.  The panel will feature Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Coumbia School of Journalism, Paul Starr, co-editor of The American Prospect, Arianna Huffington, sui generic, and John Nichols, of The Nation and Capital Times.  It is co-sponsored by The Center for American Progress and The World Policy Institute, so I get to wear both my “senior fellow” hats at once, and The American Prosect, which has a symposium on the issue featuring a longish essay by Robert McChesney, and responses from Arianna, Jim Fallows and Starr.  The whole thing begins at 5 and there’s a reception afterwards and it’s gong to be very crowded check either with the American  Progress or WPI to see if you can talk yourself in.

We note that Howie Kurtz's coverage perfectly reflects the attitude of a man who is married to a Republican media consultant and seeks to do her bidding.  We wonder why Washington Post Executive Editor Downie is so hard on reporter Steve Pearlstein (“This has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with the appearance of conflict.”) when his conflicts pale in comparison to those of Mister Kurtz.

Today’s “Nader is a Conservative/Republican Stooge” Item,  thanks to Todd Gitlin:  Nader voters claim to hate lesser evils--at least the Democratic brand.  If they vote for Nader on the Reform Party platform, here are some items they're signing on to:

RPUSA ISSUES
Committee Final Report as approved by the 2003 RPUSA Convention (October 10, 2003) from Valli Sharpe-Geisler, Issues Committee Chair (green is where the Convention made changes)

These planks have been approved as additions to the RPUSA Platform.  These are the resolutions that were passed by the 2003 Convention.
...
E)     Immigration
Although we cherish and honor America's proud immigrant history and traditions, we must recognize the reality that today our nation is no longer an unsettled frontier.  Immigration levels have risen to well over a million a year and the US Census Bureau projects, at this level, the population to exceed 400 million in less than fifty years. The Reform Party supports:

  1. Banning    the mass importation of temporary foreign workers via the abuse of the H1-B and the L-1 programs whose impact is to hold down the wages, working    conditions and incomes of American workers, both immigrant and native-born alike.
  2. A temporary Freeze on all immigration, except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens until the these are assimilated.
  3. Authorizations and appropriations necessary to secure our borders by unitizing    technologies that enhance our border patrol and enforcement of US immigration laws.
  4. Use of the National Guard or any branch of armed forces to help secure and patrol our    borders.
  5. Employer’s shall be legally liable for insuring that foreign workers produce    appropriate documentation allowing foreign workers to live and work in the United States.  Employers shall be legally liable for the public and private direct and indirect costs associated with non-legal immigrants.
  6. A national campaign to assimilate new immigrants and allow them to fully participate in American life by teaching and requiring new immigrants to learn English, American history, government, American tradition and values.
  7. A Constitutional Amendment that will not give automatic citizenship to children born on U.S. soil to parents OTHER THAN legal citizens of the U.S.
  8. No national, state or local government assistance of any kind for education, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid shall be provided for anyone that is not a legal alien or U.S. citizen.
  9. The United States Government automatically expel any immigrant found to be illegal.

...
5)  Property and Land Rights: The Reform Party recognizes that ecology and the economy are    inter-related, and therefore holds the following to be of great importance: Scientific management of privately held lands has proven more successful than agenda-driven, agency management of government lands.

Accordingly, the Reform Party calls for greater private property rights, and demands that hard data replace politics as the basis of land  management decision-making and land use regulations and laws.

Go f**k yourselves.

July 12, 2004 | 10:49 AM ET

The “Democracy” Hoax
This story demonstrates a central fallacy in the Bush/Neocon argument for war that has never really been addressed by anyone.  The fact is, the more democratic Arab nations become, the more anti-American/anti-Israeli/pro-terrorist they become.  You have to choose.  Arafat is more moderate than the Palestinians who would replace him in a true democratic election and so, too, are most of the corrupt leaders of places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  It would be an insurmountable conflict, except for the fact that the democracy talk is mostly just a pretense to justify the use of military power to get what they want, much to chagrin of the many “liberal hawks” who allowed themselves to be fooled by it.

Meanwhile, I suppose it is anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic to point out that even though Bush has all but turned over the Mideast desk of U.S. foreign policy to Ariel Sharon, he still can’t get any results from the guy even when it comes to enforcing Israel’s own laws.  “After turning aside U.S. requests for dismantling illegal outposts, Shalom stated what the two sides had agreed upon."

And we’ve not heard much for a while from those hyping European anti-Semitism into something it’s not and I wonder why.  I seem to recall Little Roy insisting in the most ahistorical manner imaginable, that things were already as bad as they were in pre-war Europe.  I read a lot of this crap, and was amazed that it was almost all coming from Americans, while being denied by European Jews themselves.  Nobody seemed to care what they thought.  Anyway, I was in synagogue the other night, and I picked up the most recent annual report of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (5763-57764), the largest Jewish religious movement in the world.  I turned to page 11, to see what was up with my European landsman, and lo and behold, the topic of anti-Semitism is not even mentioned.  Now I’m not saying that it’s not a problem at all -it is— but the hysteria of people like Roy and quite a few other lunatic bloggers who shall go nameless demonstrates how easy it is to get attention for yourself so long as you play to people’s fear, ignorance and prejudice.  And I don’t mean the anti-Semites in this case…

Moreover, both Kofi Annan and Jacques Chirac have decided in recent times to make a point of combating anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Arab world.  And like it or not, the misguided policies of George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon have done a great deal to inspire it.  Don’t believe me, just ask Roger Cukierman, the senior leader of the French Jewish community, who terms Sharon’s policies to be an inspiration for the violence among Arabs and has frequently asked American Jewish leaders to butt out of a situation they do not understand.  (The Forward article “Community Head: France No More Anti-Semitic Than U.S.” is not online.)

Meanwhile, I caught this terrific rapper, Matisyahu, a 25-year-old Lubavitcher from Crown Heights, at the “What I Like About Jew” show last year, and have been waiting for his CD ever since.  It’s still on the way, but check out this great story about him and this crazy world of Jewish/Palestinian rap.

Along with Hell freezing over, we continue to await the New York Times correction of
William Safire’s false assertion that the Mohammed Atta/Iraqi intelligence meeting was an "undisputed fact" (New York Times, November 12, 2001), owing to a never-ending supply of stories like this one, that appear in a newspaper Mr. Safire at least ought to read.  (After all, it’s not as if he works for the Journal edit pages.  In any case, perhaps the Times’ excellent Public Editor, Dan Okrent, would like a comment here, Dan?

Dan Okrent replies: “I am not my Safire's keeper.  Columnists do what columnists do, which is often a good thing and sometimes not.”

The funniest thing you’ll see for a very long time is here.

Today’s “Nader is a Fraud” item is here and continues down below.

Correspondence Corner:
Name: Harry G. Levine
Hometown: New York City

Since you linked to my essay "Ralph Nader as Mad Bomber" on your Reveal Ralph day, you might like to know I've got a new piece.  It's called:

"The Real Ralph: Quotations from Ralph Nader and others on Nader's desire to punish the Democrats and elect George W. Bush." 

As you said about my last one, "It's really long, but there's a lot there."  It's intended primarily as a resource for those concerned about Nader and his impact on the election -- like you and your readers.  I expect to write and create shorter things, but it seemed to me that for now this could be a useful document. 

The Real Ralph is here.

"Ralph Nader as Mad Bomber" is here.

My shorter Village Voice piece from May, "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber," and Tarek Milleron's amazing letter to the Voice in which he essentially grants my main point are here

Keep at it. The stakes are huge

Name: David Ehrenstein
Hometown: Los Angeles, Ca.

"What about Bulworth?" you ask.

That's an interesting story, Eric.

Murdoch reneged on money promised for "Reds."  Beatty planned to sue -- but offered an out.  He would forget the whole thing if Murdoch would allow him to make a movie for the precise amount he was owed.  And so "Bulworth" was made for that precise amount.

Murdoch did managed to screw him in one way, however, as he didn't assign a unit publicist for the picture.  That meant that items started appearing in the press to the effect that Warren Beatty was making "some secret movie."  Had a unit publicist been assigned, a formal announcement would have gone out.

In any event, Beatty got to make one of the greatest political films ever made in this country.  Yes it's right up there with "Reds," "Shampoo" and "Bonnie & Clyde."


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