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October 1, 2004 | 4:12 PM ET

Slacker Post-Debate Friday

I hate high school metaphors but this is a blog and there are no archives so I can eventually deny it. Anyway, I’m down with Our Man Pierce. Last night was the A- nerd straining to be likable vs. the low C cut-up attempting to sound like a grown-up. The latter was given his three lines to repeat over and over to impress the committee (for whatever) and he did his best, though he couldn’t remember to keep a straight face when he wasn’t speaking. (Live by “body language.” Die by “body language.” Kerry missed two key opportunities. He never once said “Here’s what the president said before I voted for the war resolution and here’s what I voted for. I did not vote for THIS.” He also never spelled out just how horribly things are going in Iraq, leaving it to people to get their impressions elsewhere, including the fantasy spin of the man at the other podium. But he was well-spoken, well-disciplined and almost likeable: in other words “Presidential.” Anyway, the debate matters less than the post-debate spin. There’s no question Kerry got the better of the former. The question will be is the line of the day, “Kerry did well but not well enough” or will it be, “It’s a whole new ballgame.”  Last night seemed to be leaning to spin #2, which normally would surprise me, since the right-wingers always control this stuff, but reporters like a good story almost as much as they like to swallow canned conservative talking points. So it looks like “it’s a whole new ballgame.” Thank, God (I think.)

Story continues below ↓
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There’s an interview with me about When Presidents Lie in the new Philadelphia Weekly. Because I know that, (and because I am in Philly, where I watched the debate “grumpily” on Mr. and Mrs. Atrios’s couch) I can report that the headline of the paper is “Vote for Kerry or Burn in Hell.” Finally a message for lefty evangelicals. Also, I got a little obsessed with the lunacy of the Rather/CBS story this week and so I wrote about it both here and here.

They are different enough to justify themselves, though, (I think).

Onto Slacker Friday.

Correspondent’s Corner.


Hey Doc:
     All right, on my card, I make it a TKO.
     My son, the Brandeis sophomore, who has spent far too many nights watching professional fistfights with me, had the best evaluation. It was a body attack -- relentless and withering. There were no spectacular sweat-spinning punches. No mouthpieces flew into the third row. But, as an old trainer once told me, the ones you can't see are the ones that hurt. At long last, I think, somebody finally made the case that C-Plus Augustus is not up to the job by illustrating that the guy simply doesn't know enough about enough.
     Time and again, Kerry cut off the ring. At least three times by my count, on the subject of the North Korean nukes, he maneuvered Bush into the absurd position of defending a policy under which there are, well, North Korean nukes. Which is not to say that Kerry didn't establish the jab. The quote from Poppy's book was a stiff one, as was the mention of how Bush left Colin Powell hanging out to dry, again over North Korea.
     (By the way, if I wasn't afraid of Kim Jong-Il's bombs before last night, I am now. Yeesh.)
     But, mostly, he did what all good body-punchers do. He didn't let him breathe. He even snuck a few in there during the clinches -- wedging into a discussion of the cost of the Iraq debacle a couple of short, crisp ones about global warming and the tax cuts. Referee Jim Lehrer -- who is no Mills Lane, by god -- didn't see them, but they landed.
     Did he miss a couple of chances to land some bombs upstairs? Well, yes. That missile-defense thing should have been a putaway, and I wish to god Kerry had dropped a right hand over the top on the whole "mixed signals" thing by citing the incumbent's ambivalence toward the Department of Homeland Security, and his ungainly fandango over the entire course of the 9/11 commission. But he kept digging to the ribs, over and over again. Port security. Loose nukes. A nice little hook on the president's good pal, Vladimir, there in Russia, who's fitting himself for the crown of the Romanovs.
     And this was supposed to be Bush's wheelhouse last night. Does he really plan to get up on a stage twice more with this guy and talk on subjects about which he manifestly knows and/or cares even less? Stem cells? The right to choose? Chief Justice Scalia? The (shh!) economy?
     TKO, Doc. Fifth round.
     Only one president on that stage last night.

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

Hey Eric, it's Stupid to be an armchair activist.  Actually I was out volunteering last week (first time since Mondale!), but some of the volunteers I was with were talking up the Dean campaign's use of handwritten letters. 

Indeed, phone calls are efficient, but there's something powerful about a personal letter.  Plus it's something easy to do on your own.  So, on a whim, I looked up some suburban swing state voters this week and wrote them the following:
Dear ----:

Please excuse this intrusion into your mailbox -- you are not on some "list" and I promise not to bother you again after this!  I'm acting on my own and got your name from an Internet phone book.

I am writing to urge you to vote for John Kerry this November 2nd.  I don't know who you are supporting, but if you are planning to vote for President Bush I hope I can convince you to reconsider.  While there are many issues which people of good faith disagree on (the war in Iraq especially), there are some that both liberals and conservatives recognize are immediate threats to our future: the record-setting budget deficit, the sharp rise in our dependency on foreign oil (which sends billions of dollars out of our economy forever) and the unchecked outsourcing of good, quality jobs.  I don't know if John Kerry has all the answers -- I really like some of his proposals, others are typically vague politician-speak. But the President's record shows that he will make these problems much worse.  In fact he doesn't even talk about them.

I hope that you will seek out as much unbiased information as you can about these issues -- I believe you'll conclude as I did that we really need to elect John Kerry.  Either way I hope you'll vote - it makes our democracy stronger.  If you'd like to talk to me about any of this, my number is - and e-mail is -.  Otherwise, thank you for reading!

Beth Woodall
Hometown: Charleston, SC

So pleased to read the letter from Mike in Pittsburgh, PA., the Christian who will be voting for the Democratic ticket. It's hard to be a Christian Democrat these days, especially with the neocons telling folks that it is their Christian "duty" to re-elect George W. Bush. Rubbish!  I have found direction and inspiration from a faith-based organization called Sojourners.  Sojourners weaves religion, politics, and today's pressing issues into sane and very insightful commentary. Indeed, they have launched an aggressive campaign entitled "God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat." The ad was run in the NY Times during the Republican National Convention. For more info, check out 

Name: Bob Mangino
Hometown: Seattle

Get your Schadenfreude here:  Bush's hometown paper endorses Kerry.
The circulation of 425 won't sway a lot of locals and it hardly makes Bush suffer, but it does make him look a little ridiculous if he can't win over his homeys and the message will hopefully resonate all over. The editorial is a pretty cogent-sounding analysis of where Bush is taking us--off a cliff. Please, pleeeease Kerry campaign, take this and run with it, lighheartedly make fun of W every chance you get, smile a lot and nod knowingly.

Name: Jennie Saxena
Hometown: Dayton Ohio


Wanted you to see what the Republican Party will stoop to to limit votes (and democracy) in a swing state.

September 30, 2004 | 4:12 PM ET

The Rubber Hits the Road: Debate Questions, Continued.

Name: Jeremy Mazner
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Mr. President, you've accused John Kerry of being on indecisive on issues.  But you yourself have changed your opinion on issues including the establishment of a cabinet level homeland security department, an independent 9/11 commission, steel tarrifs, and more.  What's the difference between being indecisive, and changing your mind?

Name: Eric lost it.
Hometown: Nashville
Mr. President--in October 2002 you said the Iraq resolution was a vote for peace.  Now you're saying it was a vote for war.  Which was it?  Is John Kerry really the one who's been flip-flopping on this issue?

Name: William H. Calvin
Hometown: Seattle
Sir, many would say that your foreign policies have greatly increased hatred of the US and that your Iraq war has only strengthened Al Queda recruiting.  How do you respond?

Name: Gail Gardner
Hometown: St. Louis, MO

(To President Bush)

Mr. President, in planning for the war in Iraq, you and your advisers rejected military advisers' predictions of the insurgency and advance plans for heading it off that they offered, choosing instead to go with your ideology that bringing down Saddam would create a situation ripe for democratic development. If you are re-elected and again find it necessary to implement a military strategy somewhere, will that strategy be based on ideology, or on expert analysis from military leaders?

Name: Michael Olsen
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
Question:  Mr. President, you have accused John Kerry of not supporting the troops because he did not vote in favor of the funding bill that contained funds for basic soldier gear such as body armor. My question is who sent them into battle without that equipment in the first place?

Name Frank Lynch

Ten questions:

  • At a time of increased federal deficits, why do you continue to refer to the checks some Americans received from the IRS as "tax cuts" instead of "money stolen from future generations"?
  • At a well-publicized event on the morning of September 11, 2001, you risked the lives of many innocent civilians (including school children) by not leaving their presence immediately after Andy Card informed you we were under attack. In fact, you sat idle for seven minutes while those children read to you. Why did you stay there, endangering them?
  • At a time of limited federal resources (taking note of our failure to adequately protect our ports from terrorist threats, and inability to support first responders), why were resources diverted from pursuing known terrorists in Afghanistan, to pursue a war against an uninvolved country?
  • Bob Woodward reports that, prior to the invasion, you were dissatisfied with the CIA case that Iraq had WMD. Why did you proceed to make that case to the American public?
  • When VP Dick Cheney was on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on March 16, 2003, and said that Iraq "has reconstituted nuclear weapons" — a statement later characterized not as an error but merely a misstatement — why didn't you insist, in March 2003, that the record be corrected?
  • When poll after poll showed that the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was behind September 11, why did you wait until after the war to say that there was no evidence of a connection? Why didn't you correct the record earlier?
  • In the interest of national security, why didn't you take immediate action to find out who in the White House gave reporter Bob Novak the name of a covert CIA operative for use in a column?
  • Given your interest in national security, why did you resist forming the department of Homeland Security?
  • Your staff has said that your asking Richard Clarke to investigate Iraq's role in 9/11 was part of a broad effort to understand who was responsible. Is this true, and if so, what staff members did you ask to look into the involvement of other countries (and what other countries)?
  • Have you ever used cocaine?

The Book Tour
When Presidents Lie  had an extremely moving, for me anyway, public introduction last night as well over a hundred people braved torrential downpours that probably would have kept me snuggled home in bed to come to Barnes and Noble at 82 and Broadway—even though Ken Auletta was interviewing new leftie hero Ted Turner across town for his fine new book from James Atlas’s new series. (For the record, Auletta is a completely different reporter than the one I slammed in the LA Times a decade ago. Something happened, and now he’s terrific, and so is his collection.) Anyway, it’s a demanding book and I don’t expect it to sell as well as either What Liberal Media? or The Book on Bush, (both of which were national bestsellers) or possibly even the Springsteen book but I am actually far more attached to it emotionally than any of those, given how long and hard I worked on it, people are being awfully generous about it, and it’s around 250 on Amazon as I write this, so that’s all very nice. If anyone wants to create a weblink for Jon Meacham’s review of it to which I could link I’d be grateful.  

Thanks also, to everybody who complained that the book tour was not coming to their towns. I have next to no control over this, since it’s not my money. We are going to Florida instead of Portland or LA this time because I insisted on adding a swing state and I thought Oregon was in the bag. (God help us if it isn’t.) Anyway, thanks for writing in and everything else. It’s part of what makes all this worth doing.

And speaking of my love of my neighborhood, Is that Horse Dead? Is this Blog the only place in the universe that will defend the Upper West Side against New York Times Slander? I sent this off today:

To: Public Editor/New York Times
Fr: Eric Alterman


In light of Sunday’s column, this loyal Upper West Side liberal and Zabar’s lover would appreciate an answer to the question I've twice sent in to the letters, and both times received no reply. What was John Tierney's (and The New York Times') source for saying that the Upper West Side calls itself "the conscience of the Nation?" And if in fact, Mr. Tierney is not actually quoting the Upper West Side itself, and I find this a little hard to imagine--even conceptually--why did the paper refuse my two requests for a correction or a clarification? Is it imaginable that a reporter would be allowed to be so simultaneously careless and cavalier with his  gratuitous insults to, say, Arkansas famers or Alabama church-goers?  What makes us fair game?

And the New York Times replies:

As a West Sider of many, many years' standing, I found the notion of our neighborhood calling itself anything at all kind of bizarre. I think one has to distinguish between clumsy writing and factual error, and I place this one in the first category. Sorry.
Dan Okrent

Odds and Ends:


“C” IS FOR COWARDLY (or is it for “craven?”)

Kerry Haters for Kerry

IRAQ IS FAR WORSE THAN YOU THOUGHT (I’m trying to be calm about this, really I am, but if you’re planning to vote for the president, how about volunteering to send one of your children there?)  More HERE.

Quote of the Day, from John Forbes “What in the world took me so long?” Kerry:
“I would not have gone to war knowing that there was no imminent threat — there were no weapons of mass destruction — there was no connection of Al Qaeda — to Saddam Hussein! The president misled the American people — plain and simple. Bottom line."

Quote of a Year and a Half Ago Paul Wolfowitz: “We will be welcomed as liberators,”

They’re lying about THIS too.

“SMILE” IS HERE. I really, really like it, but don’t quite love it. That may be a product of expectations. It’s not that I believed the hype but neither could I avoid it. Sal tells me that is too generous. The above piece is an awfully good discussion of its history. I hope to report on its performance on October 12 at Carnegie Hall. In the mean time, how can you avoid it. More HERE.    

David Brooks Also Eats Cereal.

Here’s Pierce:

Hey Doc:
     From the pen of our man Hitch, Tuesday:
     "But I also know the difference when I see it, and I have known some of the liberal world quite well and for a long time, and there are quite obviously people close to the leadership of today's Democratic Party who do not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq."
     One name, Christopher.
     No "Democratic activists." No "prominent foreign-policy Democrats." Nothing you thought you over heard over the clinking of the silverware and the pouring of the sherry. Nothing that "Doctor" Chalabi whispered in your ear. Nothing that depends on a reader's faith in your experience in "the liberal world," because that's starting to sound like the stories told by people who claim to have been abducted by the Little Gray Ones with the big old eyes and the rectal probes. Nothing out of that profitable puppet show that you've made out of your middle years.
     One name.
     One person close to the leadership of the Democratic party who does not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq.
     One person who wants American soldiers to die so that John Kerry can win the election.
     (And not, of course, one person who, say, would play hide-and-seek with U.S. Marines in and around Fallujah because a high casualty count might knock down the old numbers in Iowa and Minnesota -- The Marine general already told us who that is.)
     I don't give a damn that he's starting to turn into Whitaker Chambers in tweed. I couldn't care less about the fact that Bill Clinton drove him as batty as he ever drove anyone, so much so that he finked on a friend to a special prosecutor steeped in the kind of "monotheistic flotsam" he once jeered at on "Crossfire." (And, by the way, if you spent eight years endorsing the work of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who got conned out of his socks and longjohns by every poolroom liar in Arkansas, you might exercise a little discretion in ridiculing people who believe in "conspiracy theories.") Hell, that's all his business and if he can make a buck at it, well, he's welcome to waltz with his new rightist fan club until the stars dance in their eyes.
     But I care about my craft and this is as dishonest a sentence as anyone ever has constructed. It is a reckless, vaporous smear possessed of even less substance than decency. As a friend of mine from Belfast once told a mugger near North Station in Boston:
     Sir, where I come from, if you have a gun, you produce it.
     One name.

And here’s Dr. Rauchway with a note on last week's news:

If one news story last week shouted "I am undercovered!" it was THE DECISION TO RELEASE Yaser Esam Hamdi, lately of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

Before the Supreme Court ruled on the case in June, the government said Hamdi posed such a danger to the national security of the United States that they wished to, and should by law be permitted to, lock him up indefinitely without charging him with a crime, let alone giving him a 
trial. The Supreme Court took due notice of the administration's argument and opined, "not exactly." Or judicious words to that effect.

Less judiciously, Justice Scalia threw the book at the White House in his dissent. And when I say the book, I mean BLACKSTONE. With Stevens joining him, Scalia socked a twenty-five line section from Blackstone's Book the First (The Rights of Persons), Chapter the First (Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals) into the opinion, rebuking the majority and the government and resting on the KEY sentence, "confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten; is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government. . . ."

The upshot was that Hamdi did in fact have some rights, rights we were bound to respect.

So this week, the administration decided to respect those rights by sending Hamdi home, and everything's okay, right?  Well, no; as Dahlia Lithwick points out, we face an UNANSWERED QUESTION: "Did Hamdi spontaneously stop being dangerous? Or was he never really a danger in the first place?" You guess.

To recap: Scalia thinks this administration's signature response to terrorism, preemptive punishment without due process, threatens our basic liberties. And now the administration has signaled there wasn't much point to that policy either. I am proud to agree with both of them.

September 28, 2004 | 4:15 PM ET

It's debate question time:

Name: Craig
Hometown: Frederick, Maryland


Here is a question to the President.
"Mr. President - Although no weapons of mass destruction have been located in Iraq you continue to claim that Saddam Hussein violated 17 UN resolutions to disarm.  Is it possible that he did obey the UN resolutions and that continuing inspections would have avoided the war?"

Name: Dave Elley
Hometown: Seattle

My debate questions go like this:
"Mr President, it is widely suspected that many of the horrific beheadings we have seen are attributed to Abu Musab Zarqawi. Why then, in 2002 and 2003, when you had no less than three chances to attack Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq, did you refuse to attack him and his base against the recommendations of the Pentagon?"
[Editor's note: As support of that claim, read this story.]
And then:
"Did you or did you not personally order the April 2004 offensive against Fallujah and did you or did you not personally order the offensive stopped?"
"You have presided over two of the worst intelligence failures in history, your Sec of Defense failed to plan for the occupation of Iraq, your White House staff committed a federal offense in 'outing' a CIA agent, your budget team lied to the US Congress about the cost of your Medicare bill, why, Mr. President, has no one lost their job in your administration?"
My last one:
"In July 2003 and over 800 US lives ago you told the insurgents to 'bring it on'. What would you say to the mother of one of those US soldiers who had it 'brought' to them?"

Name: Paul Holm
Hometown: Richmond, IN
Debate questions
For Bush: "As Commander in Chief, what are the present military goals in Iraq, how will they be achieved, and how many casualties can we expect as a result?"
For Kerry: Same question, but as a hypothetical "If you were..."

Name: Bill Heber
Hometown: Torrance, Calif.

Hi Eric;
Here is my question to Pres. Bush. Sir, you said that knowing what you know now you would have still gone to war in Iraq. Let's pretend it is February of 2003 and you are about to deliver your address to the nation on the eve of the Iraq war. This time you know there won't be any WMD to find in Iraq and no significant Al Qaida links or 9-11 links to Saddam. What would you say to the American people to convince them we need to go to war?

And Slate’s Robert Wright wonders:


Do you think Kerry could pick up any Florida votes by noting that many experts think global warming will make hurricanes more common in the future -- and that G. Bush has more or less dismissed the issue of global warming out of hand?
Of course, Kerry should be careful not to sound Al Gore-alarmist, and he should stress that he’s not saying Bush could have prevented these hurricanes, or even that these hurricanes are a result of global warming. But, given that the federal government’s own storm specialists worry about the long-term link between global warming and hurricane intensity [See, here], a responsible president would at least look into the matter, and wouldn’t have blown off the Kyoto crowd so casually.
Of course, w/global warming there’s a big time lag between remedy and cure. But people w/ kids have long time horizons. And even Florida voters without kids would probably like to think that Florida will have a citrus industry a few decades hence. (My brother-in-law’s in the citrus business, and hurricane Frances cost him most of this year’s crop.)
Kerry probably couldn’t pick up a ton of votes w/ this issue, but then it may not take many Florida voters to swing the whole election.

A couple of odds and ends:

Why does the military hate America?

Just get on my big wheel and leave

And don't forget: I'll be at Barnes and Noble at 82d and Broadway in New York City tonight at 7:30; and at the National Constitution Center book shop in Philly on Friday, at lunchtime.

Non-Question Correspondent’s Corner:

Name: Mike
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Hello Eric,
Thanks for the good work you do.
I fit perhaps a rare demographic.  A Catholic, who has as an adult accepted Jesus into his heart (attach whatever title to that you want), pro-life, and VERY much against our current administration.  I am not a lifelong Democrat but voted that way in 2000 and will do so again this year.  Let me add, that I do reside in a so-called battleground state.
My main purpose for writing to you though is to pass on what I believe to represent the US Catholic church on this year's Presidential election. This information was published on two consecutive weeks in the Diocesan newspaper and our weekly bulletin and comes from the US Catholic Bishops, 2004.  

The exact text is as follows:
"VOTER REFLECTIONS: The Catholic Church teaches that all life is sacred.  A candidate for office must understand that the Church stands against any policy or course of action which diminishes life, dignity or the rights of the human person: abortion, capital punishment, war, scandalous poverty, denial of healthcare, mistreatment of immigrants and racism, to name a few.  All are essential to a "pro-life" voter."
"Question for the Campaign: After September 11, 2001, how can we build not only a safer world, but a better world - more just, more secure, more peaceful, more respectful of human life and dignity ? "

The message that needs to be known is that the Catholic Church cannot be defined by any single issue and voters must consider the morality of all facets of life.  To my fellow Catholics that feel you for some reason must vote Republican because they are more likely to appoint judges who may someday overturn Roe v. Wade, please consider what your own Council of Bishops has published. Please reflect on not only the legality of abortion today (and what this and past anti-abortion Presidents have actually managed to accomplish), but also on the death warrants signed and executed by governors, on the millions of Americans being cast into poverty, to the rise of the number of those without healthcare, and on the Popes condemnation of the Iraq war. All are issues to the American Catholic, and on November 2nd I pray all these issues and more will help guide your vote.

To all readers of this message, I fear that the news media may have provided you a partial or skewed view of how Catholics are approaching this election.  Hopefully, this allows you some greater level of insight to the Church's viewpoint.

September 27, 2004 | 12:25 PM ET

Recipe for a Presidency:
Steal Florida, Rinse, Repeat

If it all comes down to Florida again, you can be sure that Jeb Bush will find a way to ensure that no fair vote interferes with his family’s  plans. The media—in a state of collective pre-frontal lobotomy — continue to treat Bush as if he were any other governor of any other state, just as they did Katherine Harris, but you’d have to be stupid to think that elections are something that Jeb or George (or Karl) are willing to leave to the voters.

Last time Bush’s close performance in the state was ensured by throwing thousands of black voters off the voting roles in an illegal purge of former felons and those who had names that sounded something like those of former felons. Pictures like the above terrify the Bushes, given the African-American hostility to Republican candidates According to Ann Louise Bardach, here, is getting ready to do the same this year. Florida is filled with disenfranchised ex-felons.

As she writes, “A task force set up by Gov. Bush to recommend changes after the vote-count fiasco of 2000 urged that the voting rights of prisoners be automatically restored once inmates completed their sentences. But the governor refused to review the issue. No matter whether one's crime was marijuana possession, check bouncing or drunk driving, a felon must negotiate a daunting obstacle course to win back the right to vote.”

In fact he went even further. “In 2001, the ACLU and the Florida Justice Institute sued the state for failing to comply with a state law mandating that felons be provided voting-rights assistance upon completion of their sentences. In response, the state admitted that between 1992 and 2001 it had not provided the required assistance forms to 125,000 ex-felons. When a Florida appellate court ordered Bush to provide the forms, he responded by abolishing them.”

This cruel and un-American treatment of denying people their right to participate in their own democracy is compounded by the incompetent—or is it overly competent—manner in which it is enforced to “mistakenly” keep others from voting. Depending on how close Florida is, we may have another stolen president and illegitimate presidency.

Jimmy Carter gives even further cause for concern.

The really sad part about this quote of the day is that it is being recycled from Vietnam. Iraq is actually worse than Vietnam. When Vietnam happened, we hadn’t experienced Vietnam yet. We didn’t know that a president would lie to the country in order to involve us in a war that would needlessly kill tens of thousands of Americans and destroy our prestige and moral standing in the world. Now we do. And we let it happen again.

Quote of the Day: James Carville: “Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true!"

Meanwhile the lying about Iraq continues together with the murderous violence and the media’s inability or unwillingness to hold the president even remotely accountable. “Less than half of the aid in the Bush administration's reconstruction package for Iraq is being spent in ways that will benefit Iraqis, U.S. government officials and independent experts said.” here

And remember Al Qaida? While we were creating terrorists in Iraq, they were taking advantage of our inattention to recreate themselves, bigger and better than ever.
Thanks Ralph.

Yo, Carlos, he scares us too. Speaking of which, last year I spoke to a really interesting conference sponsored by the journal Social Research on the political uses of fear. Al Gore gave one the great speeches I’ve ever heard. This year the conference is called “Their America “ and it‘s the first conference to bring together representatives from around the world to discuss candidly and strategically the growing tide of anti-American sentiment. Journalists, writers, academics, politicians, and activists from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America will share their unique perspectives on how the US is viewed in their countries and regions.

Moving away from the divisive trend of "America bashing", Their America will foster understanding and propose solutions to anti-American attitudes by placing this crucial issue in a historical context spanning 75 years.  For more information and to register, go here or call 212-229-2488.

Alter-request: Send in Your Debate Questions. I’ll print the good ones and take the day off. Sign ‘em and add a link, if you like.
Here is a really interesting profile of Philip Roth The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less. (Warning: sexually explicit content)

I’ll be on The Majority Report on Air America tonight in the nine o’clock hour (I think)  discussing When Presidents Lie and speaking  and signing at Barnes and Noble at 82 and Broadway at 7:30 on Tuesday night. The book received a wonderful rave in The Los Angeles Times on Sunday from Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham, but you need to subscribe to the paper to read it.

Perhaps you prefer Ratdog? Dennis McNally tells me they’ll be playing live at KPFA in Berkeley from 8 to 10 pm PDT on Wednesday, Sept. 29th webcast on and, and also on Check for tour dates.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Peter
Hometown: near Boston
Does any of this charade about progress toward democracy in Iraq sound hauntingly familiar?  Does this help refresh your memory?
"I extend my warm congratulations to you and to Prime Minister Ky on your victory in the election... The election was a milestone along the path toward . . . a free, secure and peaceful Viet-Nam." Lyndon Johnson to Thieu, Sept. 10, 1967.

"It is remarkable that a young country fighting a tough war on its own soil has moved so far, so fast, toward a representative government."  Lyndon Johnson, Aug. 18, 1967, NYT, Aug. 19.

"We are in South Viet-Nam today because we want to allow a little nation self-determination. We want them to be able to go and vote for the kind of leaders they want and select the type of government they want. We want them to be free of terror and aggression in doing that ..." Lyndon Johnson, Oct. 27, 1966.
"We saw that democracy is gaining in Viet-Nam."  Lyndon Johnson, June 27, 1967.

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