July 15, 2005 | 12:38 PM ET | Permalink

One question:  If Novak informed Rove, who then oversaw a campaign to leak the information to six reporters, does that mean they can share a cell?  More here.  (If I were Novak, I would use my career history of inaccuracy to plead innocent.  “You can’t believe anything I say or write, Your Honor.  Why, wasn’t I the guy who broke the story that Rehnquist’s resignation was a done deal?”  Remember, right before the election, he broke the story that Bush was planning to pull our troops out of Iraq, too.)

Anyway, it’s not the crime, boyz and grrrls, it's the cover-up.  (And what’s a nice Jewish boychik like Ari, doing in an investigation like this?  Clue: Lie down with treyfe…)  Naturally, the smart guys at The Note take this opportunity to smear Krugman as “apocalyptic and apoplectic” for telling the truth about the Rove/right-wing/MSM nexus that does so much to misinform Americans about things like unnecessary wars, and McCarthyite attacks on loyal public servants.  Read the real thing, here.

Quote of the day:  “She said that she worked for the ABC News.  It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use.” — Elvis C.

George W. Bush may hate us:  John Tierney and his New York Times editors may think we need to “examine our consciences” merely for living where we do, but take a look at how my 'hood reacts when a building collapses on a baby right by our bus stop, (next to the Metro Diner shop, right now, the home of my favorite burger in the world).

Of course I don’t usually eat in places like this but did you notice that half of this country’s entries are in one city?

Remember, the liberal New York Times editorial page endorsed this deeply delusional conservative Republican governor for re-election over an extremely capable African-American.

Rolling Stone profile of Tomlinson, here, demonstrates why this story of ideological nepotism designed to undermine public broadcasting’s prime mission is no surprise.

Major Bob wanted us to take a look at:  Divorce rates among active-duty personnel in all branches of the U.S. military:

FY2000: 19,223

FY2001: 18,774

FY2002: 21,629

FY2003: 23,080

FY2004: 26,784

More here.

Alter-reviews:

My assistant, Cynthia Lowen, reviews the documentary, “Favela Rising: Witnessing a community overcoming adversity."  We will run her interview with its 26-year-old  director,  Jeff Zimbalist, next week, I hope.

In the midst of a year with plenty to feel discouraged by, Favela Rising, a documentary debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and appearing at festivals around the country this summer, offers strong medicine.  Set in Vigário Geral, one of Rio de Janiero’s most notorious favelas (or squatter settlements), the film tells the story of a community combating poverty, drug-associated conflict, and police-misconduct through the vision of the music group and social movement, AfroReggae.

In scenes that rival the 2002 Brazilian film, City of God, for their rawness and brutality, Favela Rising takes us into the streets where packs of young men sit on stoops polishing automatic weapons, where children no more than five years-old fly kites to warn gangs of approaching police, where the unidentified bodies of teenagers are found shot dead in alleys, and where police storm homes and intimidate innocent civilians.  Not to be mistaken with City of God, however, which suggests the only hope for its protagonist is escape from the slums, Favela Rising demonstrates how success can come from within the favelas through the transformation of the community.

The film avoids the risk of becoming merely voyeuristic by focusing its gaze away from the violence and instead following the growth of the AfroReggae movement, led by the charismatic Anderson Sá, a former drug-trafficker, and José Junior, a long-time activist.  Through the success of their music, AfroReggae establishes programs in dance, percussion, literacy, and healthcare for youth and adults in twenty favelas, offering an alternative to gang involvement, promoting dialogue between civilians, drug factions, and police, and broadcasting participants concerns far beyond the favelas.  When Anderson Sá, whose lengthy interview creates the overarching narrative of the film, suffers a devastating injury that threatens to paralyze him from the neck down, the film reveals not only the capacity of communities to overcome hardship, but the potential for individuals to prevail against personal adversity as well.

Co-directors Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist, who won the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, adopted an innovative approach to achieve consistency between the subject and style of the film.  By giving cameras to children who capture many of the most intimate scenes of favela life and including residents in the editing process, the film is told solely from the perspective of its subjects.  Of his process in constructing the documentary, 26-year-old Zimbalist, who made his feature-length directorial debut with Favela Rising, acknowledges, “To make a film about empowerment or asset-based development and to represent it from my point of view is inherently the opposite of what I was focusing on.”

By relying on voices from the favelas to tell the story, this documentary never becomes dogmatic but shrewdly asserts the larger issues at hand: misrepresentation of poor communities in much of the media, the lasting implications of mishandled, abusive police forces, and most importantly, the power of individuals to positively impact their environment.  Favela Rising offers hope that after violence, repression, and economic paralysis, genuine democracy can be generated against great odds by resourceful, creative, determined communities.

Slacker Friday Corner:

I'm reprinting Laurel Leff’s letter to the Times Book Review of a couple a weeks ago because, though I haven’t yet finished her book, her argument strikes me as strong and well-reasoned and the topic is an extremely important one.  (You can read it yourself, here.)

Buried by The Times'

To the Editor:
Robert Leiter may have reviewed my book, ''Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper'' (May 15), but his comments provide scant evidence that he actually understood it.

For example, referring to my account of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, then the publisher of The New York Times, Leiter writes: ''She ... treats Sulzberger's anti-Zionism like some evil aberration.  There were many Jews who agreed with him, some of them even in Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.''  Yet a quick perusal of my index reveals 50 pages devoted to explaining that Sulzberger's anti-Zionism arose from his involvement with Reform Judaism, including an entire chapter on Sulzberger's alliance with the Reform rabbis who founded the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism.

More tellingly, Leiter avoids coming to grips with any of the evidence I provide concerning The Times's coverage, preferring merely to repeat the conventional wisdom that ''the extent of the killing'' of European Jews ''could not have been fathomed'' by ''Sulzberger or any other newspaper executive.'' Then how does Leiter explain the nearly 1,200 New York Times articles that chronicle in terrifying detail the destruction of Europe's Jews, including ones that tally the mounting death toll and describe the precise methods of murder? (Again, a look at the index's 24 separate entries under ''New York Times news coverage of extermination campaign'' might have helped.) Or the Times editorials that treat the news as ''officially established facts'' (18 index entries)? Or the dozens of contemporaneous comments I quote, from Sulzberger and others, acknowledging what was happening to the Jews in Europe?

Finally, and most astonishingly, Leiter suggests that I don't understand my own title, which he writes has a ''particular but unintended resonance,'' in that ''the Holocaust was an issue buried by the times in which the participants lived.'' Of course the Holocaust was buried by the times, but it was also buried by The Times. The times can't really be held to account; The Times can and should be — as some of its more recent editors have acknowledged — despite Leiter's calculated effort to let the newspaper off the hook.
LAUREL LEFF
West Hartford, Conn.

Eric adds: While we’re on the topic, “How can the Times editorially support the 5th amendment and discharge those who invoke it?" asked Izzy Stone.  And why can’t it apologize today?   Read this for more.

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago
Hey Eric, it's Stupid to get serious about the war against terrorism.  I'm sorry to keep picking on Thomas Friedman, because I really do respect him, but I can't help it.  After 9/11 he repeatedly urged Dubya to use the tragedy to galvanize the nation around energy conservation.  I expected Friedman and others to do the same after the London attacks, but I haven't seen a word.  It mocks the noble stoicism of the Brits to ignore the most empowering course of action we can still take in this war.  One ounce of Saudi Arabian crackdown on the terrorists is worth a pound of video surveillance cameras trying to spot the next subway bomber, but what leverage do we have with the Saudis when we're begging them to keep their oil production at maximum levels?  Not to mention whatever oil money reaches the terrorists and Wahhabi institutions that create them.  How can anyone call this a war when we're financing our enemy?  Zeesh, even before we entered World War II, we tried to undermine the economy of the Axis powers.

This should be more than just fodder for pundits, because the left needs to establish a narrative before the first soft-target attacks in America that goes beyond listing the mistakes in Iraq.  Robert Kennedy Jr., for example, has noted that if Ronald Reagan hadn't undone Jimmy Carter's energy policy, we'd be completely independent of foreign oil.  Today the Dems need two things: a mantra (e.g., "follow the money") and the courage to ask the country for some sacrifice: demand higher CAFE limits and/or an oil price floor with the resulting tax revenues used to hire translators for improving intelligence and the like.  Whatever short term political costs will be made up in long term respect.  No war has ever been won without homefront sacrifice (only ties, like Korea) and if American culture has become so selfish that if swing voters can watch these attacks and still cling to their SUV's, we've got bigger problems than losing elections.

Name: Major Bob Cunningham
Hometown: Miami, FL
Political stickers are one of the items specifically allowed under 1344.10 (enclosure 3, paragraph B, item 9).  Servicemembers are allowed to "display a political sticker on the member's private vehicle."  I don't have one and, in my experience, neither do most other soldiers.  My note about 1344.10 was intended to inform your readers that there are restrictions on political speech by servicemembers.  It is not new policy created by the current administration for partisan ends.  Enclosure 4 details the sections of law that are the foundations for the DoD directive.

Name: R.L. Kirtley
Hometown: Louisville,Ky.
Hey Doc....Jut a couple of tidbits...Darrell Scott and the fantastic Tim O'Brien made a CD "Real Time" recorded in Scott's living room and kitchen that is to die for......Glad to see you like Joe Ely.  The man is a God in Texas and elsewhere.  A few years ago Ely's band and the Clash toured here and the U.K.  Joe Strummer would come out and play the Buddy Holly songs with Ely.  Tears come to my eyes.  Keep up the good fight!

Name: Steven Hart
Hometown: Highland Park, N.J.
"National Lampoon's Lemmings" is, in fact, the funniest thing ever connected to the National Lampoon ever put out -- including the movies and everything written by P.J. O'Rourke.  It was particularly funny in the 1970s, for anyone who'd taken the long dry march through the three-record "Woodstock" set, enduring Sha Na Na, Neil Young's single worst recorded performance and endless boogie from Alvin Lee in order to get to Jimi, but it's still funny now.  You get Chevy Chase doing John Denver to a turn with a song about a back-to-nature group freezing to death in the Rockies.  You get dead-on parodies of CSNY and James Taylor ("Farewell to New York City with your streets that flash like strobes/ Farewell to Carolina where I left my frontal lobes").  And the final act is a band called Megadeath with a sound that kills anyone who listens to it.  Talk about life imitating art.

Name: Jay Gilbert, WEBN Cincinnati
Hometown: Cincinnati OH
I worked at a radio station that carried the National Lampoon Radio Hour.  I copied several reels of the show, and for some reason much of the best material has never appeared on any collections.  For instance, despite the fact that the show's short life was during the peak months of Nixon-Watergate, virtually none of the many Watergate skits, some of which were fall-down funny, have yet to surface.  (I haven't seen this new collection, are some sketches on it?)  Also, some of the show's best humor consisted of long-running gags that revealed themselves over many weeks, something that a CD package couldn't do justice to.  The best stunt they pulled was on their own affiliates:  About 6 months into the show's run, they changed from a 60-minute program to only a half-hour, but they never changed the show's name, and for about 3 weeks they ended the show sounding as if another 30 minutes was coming ("Stay tuned for the second half of the show," etc.).  Then they began ending the show with warnings to "some of our affiliates" who were refusing to air the "more controversial second half" of each week's show.  Each week was more strident and threatening, encouraging listeners to call and complain.  I was a lowly board op who had to take these calls and try to explain that there was no second half.  Space does not allow me to relate the ultimate punchline to this prank, but it was beyond belief.  Despite the many weak episodes, I have nothing but fond memories of this show.

July 14, 2005 | 12:03 PM ET | Permalink

Return of The Lobotomy Corps

Altercation is featured today on the Hotline's Blogometer in an e-mail interview, here.

I wrote my Think Again column on what I understood to be some of the lost issues of the Rove-related hysteria, here, building on some of the things I’ve been saying here this week.  (And all the Rove mishigas notwithstanding—and I do enjoy it—Richard Cohen is right on this point anyway: 

Washington is electrified with the abundant energy of buzz from a scandal -- speculation about Rove, about Bush, about Cheney's aide, Scooter Libby.  Who leaked?  Who may have lied?  How did Novak slip the noose?  But the real scandal is the ongoing mess in Iraq, the murder just the other day of innocent children (is there any other kind?) and the false notion that, somehow, taking out Hussein would make us all safer.  London gives the lie to that.

Potential proof of God’s existence:  "Several people familiar with the investigation said they expect Fitzgerald to indict, or at least force a plea agreement with, at least one individual for leaking Plame's name to conservative columnist Robert D. Novak in July 2003."  [ Link]

Remember, we will be welcomed as liberators.  (Or is this another “Mission Accomplished”?)

Hey small states, thanks for nothing:  Next time New Yorkers get attacked by Islamic fanatics, we’ll know who to thank.  Read this Times editorial:

This was a sad week for the war on terror.  The Senate voted, disgracefully, to shift homeland security money from high-risk areas to low-risk ones—a step that is likely to mean less money to defend New York and California against terrorism and more for states like Wyoming.  Before the vote, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made a powerful appeal to the senators to distribute the money based on risk.  But the Senate, led by Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and other small-state representatives, put political pork ahead of national security.

Quote of the Day, runner up:  “We’ve secretly replaced the Washington press corps with actual reporters.”  - The great Jon Stewart.

They’re back: The Lobotomy Corps
One reason I could never be a straight reporter is that it requires a voluntary lobotomy—or seems to.  “Don't be deceived," said the U.S.'s comptroller.  "We face large and growing structural deficits in the long term that are getting worse every day."  Never mind that.  Both the Washington Post and The New York Times offer their readers deliberately deceiving headlines in order to spin them on behalf of the Bush administration’s transparently phony claims.  The Times’ headline reads: “Sharp Rise in Tax Revenue to Pare U.S. Deficit” and the Post reads, “Revenue Surge Shrinks Deficit.”

The LA Times report adds this bit of false advertising: The Administration's revised budget forecast provides "ammunition to supply-side advocates who contended that tax cuts helped pay for themselves."  But what everyone involved with this story knows, as the U.S. Comptroller explained, is that this is a temporary blip driven by rising stocks and the housing bubble in a sea of red ink, which is due to explode due to the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush and the Republican Congress.  What’s more, including the ripping off of the Social Security Trust fund, the deficit is still roughly half a trillion dollars; that’s compared to a surplus under Clinton.  They know, as Krugman pointed out yesterday, here, that “the fact is that revenue remains far lower than anyone would have predicted before the tax cuts began.  In January 2001 the budget office forecast revenues of $2.57 trillion in fiscal 2005.  Even with the recent increase in receipts, the actual number will be at least $400 billion less.

And nonpartisan budget experts, such as Ed McKelvey of Goldman Sachs, believe that even the limited good news on the budget is a temporary blip, not a turning point.  Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, warns us to take the new revenue figures with a "grain of salt," and declares that "if you take yourself to 2008, 2009 or 2010, that vision is the same today as it was two months ago."

Really, this mindless parroting of administration deliberate deception is hard to believe.  What’s more, it is also unnecessary, even from a suck-up point of view, as Bush’s poll numbers are tanking with the country.  "Majorities of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy, foreign policy and Iraq.  And a plurality rates Mr. Bush negatively on 'being honest and straightforward' for the first time in his presidency."  And that was before they heard about Rove outing CIA agents.  That’s here .

And hey, look at this: 

Yet 55% of Americans also applaud the idea of a justice who would uphold affirmative action, a key demand of liberals.  More problematic for the right, which for three decades has blasted the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a robust 65% of Americans say the court shouldn't overturn Roe. As the party in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have the most to lose from broad public unease. By 45% to 38%, Americans say they would prefer that the 2006 elections produce a Democratic-controlled Congress rather than a Republican-controlled Congress.

Kosherer Than You’ll Ever Be…
Here’s Little Roy being more kosher than Israel’s chief rabbi again, accusing the BBC of not using the word “terrorist” for reasons of anti-Semitism.  Look, it’s not a useful word.  It’s been ruined by partisans.  Our freedom fighters are their terrorists, OK?  When I was at Yale, in the early 80s, former CIA Director Stansfield Turner gave a faculty seminar I attended where he said, “One thing we could do to reduce the amount of terrorism in the world would be to stop using it ourselves in Nicaragua.”  He was right.  (What else would you call mining harbors, assassinating civilians, blowing up bridges, and the like?)  They have their “terrorists.”  We have ours.  The word is specifically intended to dehumanize your enemy and leads directly to excuses for torture and the evisceration of Constitutional protections.  Now the BBC, and others want to introduce a little linguistic clarity into the discussion and Andy is all, “Whooh, you hate Jews."  Someone call Nick King and Cathy Young at the Boston Globe Editorial Page Review of Jewish Ethics and get a ruling.)

Oh and congratulations to my Israeli friends for creating the largest Jewish community in the world, in the Biblical “Holy Land” for the first time in 2000 years, here, beating out the U.S. by a total of 5.24 million (or so) to 5.28 million.  (Will Andy say, “You’re welcome” here too?) 
(And congrats to the folks at Al-J for running this story straight....)

Thanks to the folks at Progress Report, here, for reminding us of the ongoing horror of Darfur, and our own complicity in that tragedy.

Quotes of the Day:

Where are the conservatives?  Here’s one answer.

Combination schadenfreude/nostalgia corner:  The great man on why the Yankees (happily) keep sucking, here.

Yesterday in History:  Two bad days in my city:

  1. 1863 The New York City Draft Riots/mass murder of innocent blacks
  2. 1977 Blackout/Looting/general breakdown of civilization

Today in History:  A mixed day for my other city

1789,  French citizens stormed the Bastille

And a bad day for Boston, my other baseball city:

1921 Sacco and Vanzetti convicted

Stop the Presses:  Breaking News from ABCNEWS.com:

NEWCOMER 'DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES' NOMINATED FOR 15 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS”

Alter-reviews:  Ricki Lee Jones, National Lampoon, James Carter Organ Trio and Mary Stallings

Here’s Sal on Rhino's new 3 CD set "Duchess Of Coolsville":

This is a wonderful, if somewhat arbitrary career retrospective of Rickie Lee Jones, certainly one the most interesting artists of the 20th century.  I say arbitrary because, as a fan since day one, this collection, while being a very nice listen, seems haphazardly put together.  It certainly isn't a "hits" collection if it's missing "Young Blood" and "Danny's All-Star Joint" both from her sensational debut.  It also seems to draw heavily from her most recent release "Evening Of My last Day," which seems pointless, while offering almost nothing from her long out of print fan favorite "Girl At Her Volcano."

That said, it is a beautiful compact box set, with many amazing songs, as well a full disc of rarities, including the gorgeous duet with Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile, and some early demos.  The sequencing is also fantastic.  I much prefer the "mix tape" approach to compiling box sets, as opposed to the ultra-boring chronological approach.

My complaint, and it's minor, is the same complaint I have with all box sets.  If you have an opportunity to raid the vaults and give the fans something special — and really what casual fan is going to drop 36 bucks for this set — why not do it right?  My suggestion...a nice single CD anthology with all the hits and fan faves, and a separate 2 CD set of nothing but rarities for the fan who has everything.  In the meantime, "Duchess Of Coolsville" is still highly recommended.  More here.
—Sal Nunziato, NYCD

A few weeks ago I plugged National Lampoon’s “Magical Misery Tour,” (which should be called “Genius is Pain”) as just about the funniest song of all time.  I picked up a four-CD collection that just came out called “Classic National Lampoon,” upon which MMT is the final cut.  It’s kind of like wading through a swamp of strychnine to reach it however.  Despite the presence of Belushi, Bill Murray, Lorraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramus, and the fact that these guys were the first to give the counter-culture the mocking it so richly deserved, etc., this stuff is about as unfunny as anything I’ve ever heard; gazillions of fart jokes, child-molesting jokes, and easy pot-shots, (and I do mean “pot” shots, though it might have been hash, acid, or coke — or all four at once — too.)  I thought it was great back in the early seventies; about a tenth of this stuff is mildly funny thirty-something years later.  Read about it here.  (P.S. I remember “Lemmings” as being funnier than this, but it’s not here.)

Less unfunny, but a lot more rewarding in every way are two recent releases from Half-Note Records, (owned by Blue Note International):  One is the latest from sax phenom, James Carter, with Hamiet Bluett and James “Blood” Ulmer, guesting on this “organ trio” CD called “Out of Nowhere.”  Nobody since mid-late Coltrane (and I suppose David Murray) blends free jazz with structured tunefulness better than Carter and the song selection here is particularly interesting and inventive.  They’ve also released the newest from the chanteuse Mary Stallings, “Remember Love,” whose performance at the Blue Note we happily reviewed a few months back.  Sultry, sexy and self-confident, she’s got Wallace Roney on trumpet and Geri Allen producing.  Lots of classics, tastefully done, what’s not to like?  More here and here.

And if you’re looking for summer reading, I’d take a look at the lovely editions of old (and usually forgotten) classics that New York Review Classics has been re-issuing in paper of late.  I picked up handsome editions of Edmund Wilson’s incredibly polymathic To the Finland Station and the enjoyably dirty, Memoirs of Hectate County, both with thoughtful and learned intros by Luke Menand.  I am also looking forward to reading Gershom Scholem’s famous book on his friend Walter Benjamin, which has so far eluded me.  Finally, in honor of our newest family member, “Duke” Alterman, the kid and I have re-discovered Jenny and the Cat Club, who go to sea in the newest edition of this series.  It’s a near perfect kids book from a parent’s perspective anyway.  (My friend Christina Schwarz wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, “Averill colors her stories with abundant flights of clever fancy... But the nonchalance with which she delivers these makes them as real as her grounding details...Children will find Jenny's lessons about emotions and behavior helpful and reassuring.”  And these (hardcover) editions are really bootiful.  More here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: R.C. Sanders
Hometown: Ocean Springs, MS
If, as Major Bob C. suggests, DoD directive 1344.10 applies to Leonard Clark, presumably assuming that partisan blogging equals a political contribution in kind to a candidate, then let's start handing out Article 15s to all the owners of vehicles on every military installation which carry a Bush/Cheney '04 bumper sticker.  At the time, Bush was a federal employee, a bumper sticker is a contribution in kind, and that activity is expressly forbidden by 1344.10.  Major Bob, lose the "W - The President" sticker before the security forces see it...

Name: Bill Skeels
Comments:
BJ Shaver, Todd Snider and Darrell Scott too!  Damn, you're on this stuff.  At one point early in reading Altercation, I 'accused' you of not paying that much attention to this type of music (I think it was something stupid like 'I like Springsteen fine, but where are the Steve Earle's of the world').  You cited me to several links showing different, but I have to say, the proof is in the pudding, with reviews like this.  While I had heard about the Darrell Scott CD from my other favorite music critic (Mike Smith in Houston), your reviews and heads-ups in this area have been priceless.  You know your stuff on this, nice job!

Name: Richard Galvin
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dr. Alterman:
I have been a big fan of Robert Earl Keen and Joe Ely for years.  I recently purchased the Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver-Live album; it was great.  You seem like a principled guy.  I don't agree with your views very often except when it comes to music - especially The Boss.  I read all sorts of stuff from both sides and it seems to me that a lot of what passes for information or news is actually thinly veiled opinion pieces.  I give you props for being clear on where you stand.

Name: Edward Furey
Hometown: New York City
Eric:
The Entebbe rescue was in 1976, not 1974.  Word arrived just as the Fourth of July was breaking.  I remember it vividly because I was in New York City for the Bicentennial Fourth of July celebrations and there was an Israeli vessel anchored off Battery Park, I believe one of the famous Cherbourg gunboats spirited out of France a few years before.  There were also thousands of small boats in the harbor, many of which went over to the Israeli ship to offer what appeared to be congratulations while awaiting the arrival of the Tall Ships.

Eric replies:  Thanks for the correction. I spent the summers of 1974 and 1976 in Israel and I confused the two.

July 13, 2005 | 11:50 AM ET | Permalink

Smearing patriots

There aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with all the theories and counter-theories, plus the spin and propaganda being thrown out in the hopes of deflecting attention from the actions of the Rove/Novak diabolic duo.  One thing worth keeping in mind is the quality of the people they are seeking to smear.  Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame were both life-long public servants.  Wilson, whom the right is seeking to smear as a partisan-minded Democrat—not that he wouldn’t have the right to be if he chose—contributed to the presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, and took many hazardous and unpleasant duties on behalf of his country.  When the CIA sent him to Niger, he knew that the politically smart—and self-promotional course to take would be to hew to the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Perle line without gumming up the system.  Instead he told the truth and they came after him.

Valerie Plame, meanwhile, lived her entire life under cover—no small or easy thing—in the service of her country.  (How many journalists and Republican pols or consultants can say the same?)  And for her trouble, she has seen her cover revealed and both herself and her husband smeared across the land.  Her former colleague, Larry Johnson, writing in TPM Café, tells you what kind of person and patriot she was, here.

Can you spell “desperate?”  They are now even spreading rumors, believe it or not, that Wilson was the source who blew his wife’s cover, if you can believe that.  Also, the Rove camp's claim that Matt Cooper "burned" his source is nonsensical.  Boy are these guys grasping at straws.

Meanwhile, Murray Wass reports here that “Fitzgerald is looking seriously at conspiracy or obstruction charges against Rove et al. and perhaps even Novak himself.”   Read the whole thing.

And Josh M. points out again, here, that Novak’s excuses are a proverbial dog that won’t hunt.  He refers back to an earlier post which “shows quite clearly that Novak has a history of being careful and precise when he uses the term 'operative' in a CIA or intelligence context,” while a review of Novak's earlier columns shows he only uses it to refer to clandestine or covert agents, and hence, fully intended to blow this CIA agent’s cover for the administration’s deceitful purposes.  As Josh notes, “to suggest that in this one case he simply lapsed into a colloquialism (as one might refer to a 'Democratic political operative'), as he has repeatedly claimed, just doesn't pass the laugh test.”

Want to read the Republican Party talking points on this?  They’re here.

(We note that a lot of them are designed to knock down arguments that nobody has made.  Wilson has never claimed—as the WSJ also lies about today—that Cheney appointed him.)

Here's his account from his New York Times column ...

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report.  While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip. The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government.

Unanswered Questions:

  1. Did John Bolton play a role in blowing Plame’s cover?  Is that why the administration refuses to release the transcripts of the intercepts he requested to the senators from whom it is demanding his confirmation?

  2. What’s going to happen if we eventually learn that it was Judy Miller who revealed Plame’s identity to Rove rather than vice-versa?  It would sure explain a great deal and we do know, as I mentioned earlier this week, that it would be consistent with what certain lawyers are leaking.  I don’t want to spend too much time on it, since it remains purely speculative at this point, and hell, it would be incredibly bad news for the press—though good news for Judy-haters in the press-and elsewhere, but keep the possibility in mind, lest your assumptions be completely upended in the end.  (And even so, it hardly exonerates Rove or Novak…)

And in re #2, we wish the smart guys at “The Note” would pay a little closer attention to us.  They write this morning, quoting the Bolshies at the Journal, “Note the interesting use of the word 'appears' below from the editorial, and we would love to know where the Journal got the part about Rove having heard it from journalists:

'But it appears Mr. Rove didn't even know Ms. Plame's name and had only heard about her work at Langley from other journalists.'"

Ok, we’ll help.  Here it is, again: "Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials -- not the other way around -- that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee."  Here.

The craziness of this editorial and the fact that it is carried to a million people every day wrapped inside one of the world’s great and indispensable newspapers, is more than my little head can bear this morning.  Dear Google.  Please buy this thing and show these would-be capitalists what it would be like to have to find a job in a real free market…  There is a syndrome in Stockholm named for this… and for this.  (Darn that liberal media!  Remember the News is supposed to be the liberal tabloid in town.  Reels the mind… )  For a corrective, both journalistic and common-sensical, read Harold Meyerson, here.

Meanwhile, this kinda thing ought to win a lot of hearts and minds...

I lived in Netanya, here, for three weeks in 1976*, helping to renovate an agricultural school there.  I was there when the Israelis rescued their soldiers from Entebbe.  I’ve never seen a whole country so happy, and with such good reason.  Now the only emotion that all Israelis share is grief.  Palestinians too.  We know what the deal is, too, they made it at Taba.  The folly of human pride, and irrational hatred, is truly murderous.  The cycle is beginning again, though perhaps the good, strong, condemnation by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will help keep a lid on things this time.

* I may be wrong, but I don’t recall either Nick King or Cathy Young having been there at the time, honing their skills as analysts of all things Jewish and Israeli, for the Boston Globe Editorial Page of Jewish and Anti-Semitic Scholarship.

Sartre, encore fois, here.

Happy?

Alter-reviews
Terry Gross' piece on the life of Billy Joe Shaver airs today.  He’s got a lot to talk about with a new album, his autobiography (recently published by University of Texas Press), a new DVD (co-produced by Robert Duvall), and all the deaths and tragedies that befell him a few years ago.  It’s an amazing story.  His latest release from Compadre is the Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver – Live, with his songs sung by Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis, and a personal Altercation fave, Todd Snider.  You can’t really go wrong with Billy Joe if you have a heart and a head, and the tribute is a nice way to educate yourself about other people as well... like Todd Snider for instance.  And while we’re on the topic of Texas, and Compadre, I’m also enjoying the collection of booze-related songs on Brewed in Texas, volume 2. 73 minutes of songs you probably didn’t know and very few of which suck.  A few of which, well, trust me.  It’s all here.

For some reason I just figured Darrell Scott was from Texas, but he’s from Nashville, and termed down there, one of “Nashville’s aberrations.”  While he’s written big hits for big singers, his own stuff is quiet, thoughtful and understated, but with some damn fine guitar.  This “Live In NC" album here is a pleasure throughout, and I’m particularly impressed with the bravery—but he pulls it off— of doing pretty much straight forward renditions of “Folsom Prison” and “I Still Miss Someone.”  Read about him here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Dave Elley
Hometown: Seattle
Eric,
Following your comments about Karl Rove's priorities of putting political advantage above national security (anyone surprised who watched the terror alert dance of 2004?).  The question is not about the meaning of 'leak' or 'identify' - unless Joe Wilson is a bigamist, Rove plainly identified Plame.  There are several unanswered questions that the SCLM should now pursue, or perhaps the bloggers will get there first: (1) Where did Karl get his classified information?  After all he is still just a political hack and not a government employee (at least not in 2003) (2) Who gave him that information? (3) So if the Niger yellowcake documents were forged as Wilson, the Italians and then the UN verified, who forged the documents?  (4) Who is the second official involved? (5) How many of the answers to the above are the same person or group?  At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, I have my bet placed.  I think the most likely candidate can be found in an angram of 'John Bolton.'  Oh yes and what did C-Plus know?

Name: Major Bob Cunningham
Hometown: Miami, FL
Dr. Alterman,
While I am not familiar with the particulars of Leonard Clark's case it would appear that he is in violation of DoD Directive 1344.10 which controls the political expression of service members on active duty.  This regulation predates blogging by a number of years, but it would appear to still apply to blogging with a political bent.

Soldiers do give up some of their rights when they volunteer to serve.  It's another aspect of the sacrifice they make for this great country of ours.  Soldiers on active duty get briefings on this on a fairly regular basis.  I'm not sure what training reservists get on this subject though the rules for reservists are very different...until they come on active duty and then 1344.10 applies.

Name: Brian Kresge
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
I admire Leonard Clark's chutzpah, but when one raises one's right hand, one affirms or swears to live by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  This code isn't immutable (fingers crossed for gay soldiers), but Clark runs headfirst into a wall that isn't likely to change...ever.  Major Batement referenced Article 88 of the UCMJ (Contempt Towards Officials) in a recent posting concerning the benefits of an apolitical military.  While the text of this article applies only to commissioned officers, DOD Directive 1344.10- POLITICAL ACTIVITIES BY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES ON ACTIVE DUTY extends the same criteria to enlisted and warrant officer personnel.  Failure to comply results in action under Article 92, Failure to Obey an Order or Regulation.  The mainstay of my active duty service was during the Clinton years, and I endured the constant GOP opining of many a fellow grunt, including senior NCOs with the approval-by-silence of some officers.  Clark's commentary would most certainly be considered "personally contemptuous" under these rules, and by blogging it, his situation is further compounded since his views are either available to subordinates or enjoy wide circulation.  In the text of his e-mail, Clark cites a casus belli as "To prevent the embarrassment of the maniac (you know who) who would have to admit he made a mistake."  On his blog, he engages in the sophism of "I didn't say his name" as a defense.  Additionally, his declaration of candidacy for the U.S. Senate may actually be illegal under the same DoD directive.  I've often wondered when the blog would hit the proverbial UCMJ fan during this war.  Perhaps Clark wasn't aware of the limits his Oath of Enlistment and sworn/affirmed fealty to military law imposed upon his free speech.  In any case, his predicament is of his own creation and is hardly pitiable.  There is a very solid reason why Congress and the Department of Defense imposed these rules; few issues are more divisive than politics, and in hazardous fields such as Military Police or Infantry especially, cohesion is an operational imperative.  I would encourage any uniformed blogger or would-be pundit to review the rules before issuing rhetoric that could land one in the brig.

Name: Ray Lodato
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Eric,
Soldier Field, not Soldiers, is the Chicago venue where the Dead played their final show.  No, I don't know why it's not the plural, but there are a lot of things I don't get about this place, like why it appears to still be 1950 in terms of race relations, why it's so tolerant of public corruption, and why, oh why, they spend so much time hating New York.  If I remember correctly, New Yorkers are too busy enjoying the greatest city in the world to give two shakes what Chicagoans think about them, which only infuriates Chicagoans more.  The mind reels...

Name: Josh Hawkins
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Eric,
I urge ya to check out Dark Star Orchestra at the earliest opportunity....while the concept IS sort of creepy, they put on a great show.  If you close your eyes, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference 'twixt the original and spawn.  Saw them for free in a great park in Springfield, Ohio last summer, and there was a good family atmosphere with none of the nitrous thugs that marred latter-day Dead.  For a real Dead fix, check out archive.org, which houses an exhaustive chunk of (free) downloadable shows of great quality.  Keep up the good work.

July 12, 2005 | 1:30 PM ET | Permalink

Just one question about Karl Rove:  Where is the conservative outrage?  After all, the man outed an undercover CIA agent, blew numerous operations, cost the country millions of dollars and quite possibly endangered national security and could conceivably have cost lives.  (For all we know, he did.)  And he did it all for pure political advantage.  There was a reason that law was passed.  And it was to prevent people from doing stuff like this.  Whether what Rove did was within the law strikes me as beside the point.  What is the president doing keeping a man in his job who treats the national security of the nation and the lives of its dedicated public servants as pawns in his political chess-match?  And what are CNN and The Washington Post doing keeping his cowardly accomplice?  Isn’t that the kind of thing about which patriotic conservatives profess to care?  Or are we liberals and those folks at the CIA who demanded this investigation—because it surely would have died without them--the only true patriots anymore?  (And isn’t it funny how the smart guys at The Note didn’t think this was an important story yesterday?  Sorta hard to esplain today here, based on yesterday, here boys and girl…)  Anyway if you haven’t checked out Blogometer, here, perhaps you should, I dunno.  It’s not for me to tell you what to do with your time. 

Oh, Hi Bob….

Name: Major Bob Bateman
Dateline: Baghdad, Iraq

Time and Space

“No honey, first you need to turn off the water, then disconnect the hoses, before you move the …” one baritone voice intones.

Another voice, higher pitched, cuts into my attention, “Hey kiddo, how was school? [pause] Yes, I liked the cookies very much, thank you soooo much, did you make them with mommy’s help?”

A third voice carries an edge of stress.  “I don’t care what he says sweetheart, the car is under warranty.  They have to do the work, we can’t afford to swap cars, not now…”

One voice is in German.  From further down the line I hear Spanish and from near the end of the row of morale-call telephone carrels come the lilt of what I am pretty sure is Vietnamese, though I am not sure.

I am in the South end of what used to be one of Saddam’s palaces.  It is a magnificent room, coated in marble and glittering with a ceiling-defying chandelier.  The roof is thirty or forty feet up, and along one wall is a massive mural showing Scud rockets blasting into the sky.  The room is divided with temporary barriers to create workspaces, and this phone-bank.

There is one phone in each cheap plywood carrel. The chairs are mostly broken and cast-off office furniture.  The booths are always full.  Tension is low, however, because there are enough phones that the lines are not long.  Privacy, however, is not possible.  The Babel carrying across the area are the voices of men and women who left their spouses, lovers, children and parents, at least 6,000 miles behind.

The phone card and the Internet link homefront and battlefront together in a way unknown in history.  Not even in our Civil War could soldiers so readily reach across the miles and communicate with their loved ones.  There is no doubt that this boosts morale.  I know it does for me.  But at the same time, there are new issues which arise from this immediacy.

Iraq is not an easy place to spend a year.  In some ways, I suspect, the instantaneous nature of communication available today can make deploying here even more difficult than it once might have been.

In past decades and centuries the perception of time came with a slower beat.  The tempo of life, in peace and in war, was more measured.  Men, and women had what we would now consider a luxury of time.  They had time to digest, to consider, to respond.  Mail, plain old pen and paper letters, brought news from home at a much slower pace.

A man in North Africa in the Spring of 1943 knew that the letter he held in his hand was mailed weeks and weeks earlier.  The events described there were issues of the past already, and any response he made might not reach the homeland for months to come.  Veterans with whom I have talked about this suggest that this carried a tiny element of relief.  They knew that they could not do much, if anything, about things ‘back home,’ so in most cases they could let it go and focus upon the here and now.  A critical thing in a war zone.

Today it is different.

In the South Wing of the Palace, or in tents at Camp Stryker, it does not matter.  Privacy is not available.  It is impossible in these conditions for one to avoid catching fragments of the conversations flying into Iraq from across the seas, and from these assemble a mosaic: A marriage disintegrating in Tucson, a family on the brink of financial ruin in Sandusky, the death of a grandparent in Sarasota.  Soldiers hear the news, instantly.

Then they strap on their helmets, Velcro shut their body armor, bend down to pick up their rifles…and return to war.

BAGHDAD WITHIN EARSHOT:

My daughters had a great time at their Marine Biology camp last week.  My father, physicist that he is, was e-mailing me at 0300 (EST) about the NASA project Deep Impact, which he was then watching on streaming-video.  London was bombed, and fifty people died.  Mosul, Irbil, and Baghdad were bombed, and several hundred fell.  Up at Iskandariyah another Iraqi Policeman died, acting as a human shield and smothering a suicide bomber with his own body.  No major explosions in my immediate vicinity this week, though they’ve been hitting the water plants and power plants with mortars, making life miserable for the Baghdadis and probably killing more than a few from the attendant heat.  I do not want my daughters to really understand what environment their pen-pals must live through here.  Someday, but not now.

Alter-reviews

I woke up on Sunday morning to an Answers.com reminder that it was the tenth anniversary of the last Grateful Dead show of all time; Soldiers Field in Chicago.  (“Box of Rain” was the last song, for those of you keeping score.)  Still the band is about ten times more prolific now, release-wise, then they were when they were still playing gigs.  In the past few weeks, we’ve seen the discovery of a show from the formerly-thought-to be-lost-tour of 1971, with a terrific four CD show from San Diego, L.A. and Chicago, playing some of their best material and in a cohesive, way.  How was it found?  Here's the story:

Late in the summer of 1971, just before Keith Godchaux began rehearsals with the Dead, Garcia handed him a big box of tapes and said, "Here, this is our most recent tour.  Learn our music."  It's doubtful he ever listened to them - his ability to play Dead music was pretty much “on the natch."  In any case, he left the tapes on his parents' houseboat in Alameda, and there they stayed.  For 35 years.

A month ago, his brother Brian and son Zion were cleaning out the houseboat, found the tapes, and gave them to Donna Jean, whose jaw dropped.  One call to Lemieux later, and the Dead's long-lost missing tour from the summer of 1971 had resurfaced.  Dick's Picks #35 will be four CDs: the complete San Diego (8/7/71) show, all that was salvageable of the 8/24 Chicago show, and an hour-plus from the Hollywood Palladium (8/6).

It’s available as Dick’s Picks, #35, and here is a set list.

Also just out are both a two CD and a DVD of the July 4th 1989 show, called “Truckin Up to Buffalo.”  I love the artwork and '89 is considered by most to be the band’s last great tour (the keyboardist was Brent Myland.).  The CD has excellent notes from Blair Jackson, who wrote Jerry’s biography.  The CD is here and the DVD is here.  Pretty decent set list.

Finally, some people find this a little creepy but I think it’s cool.  The “Dark Star Orchestra”--the band that plays entire Dead shows and lets the audience guess which ones they are— have just released a DVD of their May 8, 2004 show which perfectly tracks the Dead’s May 5, 1977 New Haven show.  And what a set list.  This was the band’s heyday, in my opinion, and only possibly because it was when I was 17.  Anyway, I’ve never seen the DSO and I’ve only got a crappy TV where I stay for the summer so I can’t really review the DVD, but it comes with a lot of Dead community bona fides.  (Donna G sings on both, for instance, and it’s got some of the original sound crew.)  Take a look here and see what you think.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Andrew Goodman
Hometown: Upper West Side
Eric -
Please allow me to offer a few comments: One point from Frank Rich's article that I find interesting is the assertion that the administration ignored Mr. El-Baradei when he stated the uranium sale was based on forged documents.  Funny how those folks ignore the experts and scream to the high heavens over such documents as those that gave us "Rathergate"!  I also looked up Rove's lawyer on Martindale Hubble.  Robert Luskin is a partner at Patton Boggs, and my guess is he charges on the upside of $500 per hour.  I hope Rove has to foot that bill himself, and I hope it's substantial.  I'd like to know if there has been any coverage of who may be footing his legal bills.  As Bill Clinton can tell you, big-time D.C. lawyers may be partisan, but they don't come free.  Finally, I caught the Dead at Riverport in St Louis shortly before the final show.  Never dreamed it would be the last time.  I still remember picking up the Times and learning that Jerry had died... Anyway, thanks for the good work and keep it up!

Name: Dave Richie
Hometown: Birmingham, Al.
Dr. A,
Thank you for your "Think Again" column.  I have been trying for these last many months to convince my fellow conservatives that this nation is not nearly so "right" as they may like to believe.  But they and many others, including the "lazy" MSM, made a mistake that many on the left made over the years in overestimating their appeal.  They paid attention to the "polls."  Even more disastrous they are using polling data discredited on the very night of the election.  If the exit polls were so far skewed by sampling problems that they had to be ignored what makes us think the data is any better for proclaiming that Bush's election (and Dr. A, he was indeed elected) is due to the vast turnout of the religious right?  Out here in rube land most of us are culturally liberal but very conservative on the issues of national defense and the economy.  The latter issue could well sink the Repubs if most Americans get their backs up about the deficit.  But I am sorry to be the one to inform you that if the economy keeps grinding along in an almost robust fashion, sorry Ritholtz, you can kiss your poll watching Democrats goodbye (again).
Yours from the Red States,
Dave Richie

Name: Robert Rothman
Hometown: Providence, RI

Doc,
I've been watching Doris Day movies too.  One I saw again recently and enjoyed was Teachers Pet.  In that, as you may recall, Doris plays a journalism professor in a New York university who teaches, and learns, a lesson about what newspapers should be from hard-boiled reporter Clark Gable.  Check it out, if it doesn't hit too close to the bone for you.

Name: Guy Toubes
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Hey Eric,
Weequahic - not Weehawken - is the section of Newark, NJ that is famous for Philip Roth.  Weehawken is a different place, not, as far as I know, associated with Philip Roth.  Except maybe that he passed through it a few times coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Eric writes:  Agreed, thanks.

Name: Steven D
Comments:

Eric,
President Bush is fond of quoting the troops when what they have to say supports his policies in Iraq, such as he did today at the Virginia Military Academy.  However, as Armando at Daily Kos points out ( here), soldiers in Iraq who don't agree with those policies are being censored and silenced by the Pentagon.  Specifically, a soldier by the name of Leonard Clark (who describes himself as that damn liberal serving in Iraq), serving in the 860th MP Company in the Arizona National Guard, and currently stationed somewhere in the Baghdad area, has been arrested for blogging his criticisms of the Bush administration and for describing the Iraq war as both illegal and unnecessary.  Although his Web site has been scrubbed since his arrest, you can still read some of the e-mails that got him in trouble with his superiors at these Web sites: [ Link], [ Link], [ Link].  To give a flavor of what Leonard has been saying to get himself into such trouble, here is an excerpt from an e-mail:

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement.  I remember sitting and watching the news show every Sunday morning in the States and becoming very emotional every time I saw the faces and names of soldiers who were killed over here in this disastrous fiasco called the Occupation of Iraq.  I grew very angry at the terrorist who killed them but angrier at the maniac who put them there and caused their unnecessary deaths.  I could not understand nor do I understand even now how an American leader can be so callous as to sacrifice American soldiers lives just so he won't have to be embarrassed or look bad politically.  We are not over here propping up a corrupt government just for democracy the leadership has us here for 2 to 3 reasons :

  1. For the U.S. to have an excuse just occupy a piece of territory in the Middle East as a future beach head against Iran
  2. For the blood money of oil.
  3. To prevent the embarrassment of the maniac (you know who) who would have to admit he made a mistake.

Meanwhile, my brother and sister soldiers do their best to show that we are not like our leadership but that we care about the people of Iraq and that while we are here we will do our best to treat them with kindness, and dignity and the respect that all human beings should be shown.  Are there those who would besmirch our reputation: I say yes, but remember in every barrel of apples unfortunately there are a few bad apples.  I want to let you know that my fellow soldiers in the 860th M.P. CO. would not tolerate any violation of human rights toward Iraqi citizens.  We are the ones who are crying for their children when we see the conditions that they are living under and the mal-nourishment that they suffer.  We bring them food and we give them toys.  I have seen with my own eyes countless acts of kindness by my fellow soldiers even though they know that the parents of some of the children they are treating with kindness plot with terrorist to kill us.  I know that I and my fellow soldiers will immediately report any soldier who violates the human rights of an Iraqi citizen.  If this means that other soldiers would want to kill me so be it because I am going to have to live with myself if GOD lets me get back to the States and my family.

But unfortunately, we have overstayed our welcome here in Iraq.  Most of the normal Iraqi citizens are thankful that we deposed their evil dictator but now they are starting to wonder why we are staying here for so long after the victory.  Of course some of their leaders as I alliterated in an earlier e-mail are saying they need us here because they are embezzling billions of dollars of U.S. tax payer dollars and their own Iraqi citizens money and making many Swiss bankers very happy.  This corruption runs from the top of the Iraqi government right down to many of the local police chiefs because this is considered the normal way of doing business in this part of the world.  Nepotism is rampant and we may view it and all these things in horror as compared to own government (oops, but I forgot about no-bid Halliburton, KBR, oil lobbyist etc. in the White House) but this is their culture.  As I suggested earlier we don't have to turn a withdrawal into a retreat but instead turn a withdrawal into a plus for our great nation.  We can convene a special session of the U.N. and of the security council and ask that China, Russia, Germany, France and other nations send troops to be stationed on the borders of Iraq such as Kuwait.  In this way we would reassure the Iraqis and the world that we are not just making up a story about wanting to establish a foothold for democracy in the Middle East and that if Syria or Iran or any foreign nation for that matter tries to come into Iraq that we will as a world community take immediate steps to stop any nation trying to do that.  But, as you probably know this leadership has its own hidden agenda.  Our leadership has now lost much of its credibility with the world community.  The world community says they are going to help us by contributing a drop here and a drop there but they are just giving us lip service.  The current leader is a lightning rod for the United States and it will be very difficult to work with the world as long as this maniac is in charge. The Downing Street Memos and many other pieces of evidence are now in my opinion showing conclusively that impeachable offenses have been committed against our great country the United States of America.

Over 1,740 American soldiers have now lost their lives for a lie and tragically this figure will probably go over 2,000 if current trends continue ( I just pray that none of my fellow soldiers or my self become part of these statistics.  Again, your words and prayers have strengthened myself and my fellow soldiers.  It is, in all truthfulness very scary to know that I have not only terrorists that are trying to kill me every day over here but a leadership that is certainly monitoring all of these messages to the world that I am sending and its own ideas about how to silence me.  But, the cause is a just and noble one: That Not One More American Soldier should die over here in this great lie we call the Occupation of Iraq!  Keep up the good fight and don't let the Orwellians get you down!  N.O. M.A.S.!  Si Se Puede!  Viva Caeser Chavez, Martin Luther King and Mr. Ghandi!

P.S. to Steven and all of you out there thanks and by all means you have my permission, Leonard Clark, to disseminate and spread these words as far and wide as possible so that the world may know the king is wearing no clothes and that we can stop the killing of our American soldiers so that they may return home to their families.

Leonard Clark (the damned liberal patrolling the mean streets of Iraq every day) :)
Inner City Public School Kinder Garten teacher
Resident of Glendale, Arizona
and Candidate for the United States Senate in Arizona against John Kyl

You can also listen to a voicemail of Leonard before his arrest.  Hearing his voice describe his predicament makes this violation of his free speech rights all the more poignant.  President Bush is more than happy to use soldiers to promote himself, while at the same time any soldier who speaks out against the war gets the proverbial hammer pounding the nail that sticks up treatment.  Please ask your readers to contact their Senators and Representatives in Congress to protest what is happening to Mr. Clark.  If our soldiers are fighting for our freedoms they sure as heck shouldn't lose theirs in the process.

July 11, 2005 | 11:23 AM ET | Permalink

Did the London terrorists train in Iraq?

We don’t know, but remember, that’s just what the CIA predicted before the war; and just what they recently reported was happening.  It was reason enough to oppose the war—creating the very threat Bush and company pretended we were defending against—and now, our terrorist chickens may have come home to roost; or at least Tony Blair’s may have.  (I guess that brilliant “flypaper” strategy—kill our soldiers, and Iraqi citizens, but leave us alone here in peace—didn’t work out so well after all.)  Anyway, here’s what Time is reporting:

"Al-Zarqawi is a potential source since there’s an unlimited amount of explosives and munitions in Iraq that he controls,” says a second U.S. official.  “So it’s just a matter of getting it out of Iraq and to the right people,” the official tells TIME. ... Investigators are looking into whether Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s top operative in Iraq, may have helped supply explosives for the London bombers.

What’s more,

Jihadists Returning from Iraq: David Kay, who led the CIA’s hunt for weapons of mass destruction, says European intelligence officials told him at a meeting in May that their nations are seeing “episodic evidence” of jihadists who had returned from Iraq refulgent with anti-American hatred and well-versed in bomb-making.  “There is all this opportunity in Iraq for them to learn how to counter our tactics,” says a U.S. counterterrorism official.”

Also in Time, Daniel Benjamin, co-author of the forthcoming The Next Attack:  The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right, here, explains why the invasion “provided the best possible confirmation of the jihadist claims and spurred many of Europe’s alienated Muslims to adopt the Islamist cause as their own.”  He begins by quoting, Sir Ivor Roberts, Britain's Ambassador to Italy, who declared last September that the "best recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda" was none other than the U.S. President, George W. Bush.  With the American election entering its final furlongs, he added, "If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it is al-Qaeda."

(We note also that in opposition to Benjamin, an expert with decades of experience writing about and enacting counter-terrorism policy, Time pairs Charles Krauthammer, a pundit who once had some expertise in psychiatry, but knows nothing in particular about anything, except how to sound as if he thinks he does.  The equivalence that the media offer ignorance with knowledge is one our greatest barriers in dealing with our problems intelligently.)

And look, Little Roy, who, unaccountably is given space in Time also—was Ann Coulter unavailable?—decides not to blame the attack on liberal Londoners who represent a decadent Fifth Column.  He does, however, get taken apart, with a great deal more patience than I can muster, here.

Frank Rich observes, here, that:

[A] corporate mentality needn't be imposed by direct fiat; it's a virus that metastasizes in the bureaucratic bloodstream.  I doubt anyone at Time Warner ever orders an editor to promote a schlocky Warner Brothers movie either.  (Entertainment Weekly did two covers in one month on 'The Matrix Reloaded.')

Time Warner seems to have far too much money on the table in Washington to exercise absolute editorial freedom when covering the government; at this moment it's awaiting an F.C.C. review of its joint acquisition (with Comcast) of the bankrupt cable company Adelphia.  "Is this a journalistic company or an entertainment company?" David Halberstam asked after the Pearlstine decision.  We have the answer now.  What high-level source would risk talking to Time about governmental corruption after this cave-in?  What top investigative reporter would choose to work there?

And so the post-Watergate, media-conglomerate world shows its face in this rather brave admission by the Cleveland Plain Dealer of its own company’s cowardice—and in all likelihood, unnecessary cowardice-- in "not reporting two major investigative stories of 'profound importance' because they are based on illegally leaked documents -- and the paper fears the consequences faced now by jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.”  Score another victory for autocracy, here in the good ol' USA.

And you thought Fox couldn’t sink any lower… well, making fun of the terrorist attack in London?  I guess you were wrong, here.

And you thought Howie couldn’t sink any lower...  Well, flacking for Ed Klein?  I guess you were wrong about that too, here.

America’s Greatest Political Writer, here, no contest.

What’s a little treason between sources?  Four days in a row, notes Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: "since his lawyer admitted that Rove was one of Matt Cooper’s sources, no member of the White House press corps asked a question about Rove’s role."

This just in:  Pink Floyd re-unites, Pigs Fly, David Broder writes a useful column for Howard Dean and the Democrats here.

Reasons we’re Dumb:  The average U.S. household now watches 7 hours and 55 minutes of TV per day.  Here.

Dear Jon, Mike and all the rest of the fun bunch at the L.A Times Current section,
There already is a fun, snazzy, Internet debate site called “Altercation.”  It’s been here since May 2002.  Calling yours “E-Altercation” is not terribly original, in our admittedly not terribly humble opinion.
Sincerely,
Eric and the folks at “Altercation.”
(since 2002)

Quote of the Day:  As Kriston Rucker, an organizer of the U.S. Air Guitar Competition, put it, "If there's one thing that Americans deserve to dominate, it's competitive air guitar."   Here.

History Corner

  • This day in history, 1995 The Massacre at Srebrenica, here .

  • Last Saturday in History, 1995: The Gratful Dead played their final show.  Final encore was “Box of Rain.”

  • This day in history, 1767:  John Quincy Adams, America’s greatest secretary of state, was born;  Adams also deserves enormous credit for serving in the House of Representatives for 24 years after his presidency, and fighting tirelessly for the anti-Slavery cause, and demystifying the office, something that one of his successors ought to try.  (I still think Bill Clinton would be a terrific mayor of New York.)

  • This day in history, 1804 Alexander Hamilton, America’s greatest secretary of the treasury, and a far more visionary politician and admirable human being than his political rival, Thomas Jefferson, was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, in Weehawken, N.J, otherwise famous only for Philip Roth.  One of the many fascinating implications of Ron Chernow’s terrific biography is how little credit History has given Hamilton for his tireless anti-slavery work.  This has a great deal to do with the fact that the left has embraced the slaveholder, sybarite, and likely statutory rapist, Thomas Jefferson rather than Hamilton, but look into it and you’ll be surprised.  (But while we’re on that topic, I do think (and frequently say) that my old friend Hitchens has completely lost his bearings when it comes to political judgments—there’s some of that discussed here —but the man has so much talent overflowing that he manages to sound like a dangerous nutcase on Iraq and still writes a book on Thomas Jefferson that wins the praise of Gordon Wood, here.  Along with his alcohol consumption, this is further evidence that he is in many ways, superhuman, and what a shame it is that’s he’s gone over to the dark side.

Hitchens addendum:  Sorry, comrade, say what you will about Ms. Shamansky, here, "needle-dick," is inaccurate at best.

Alter-reviews
I’ve been under a deluge of Doris Day lately.  Yeah, yeah, I know, the bandleader Oscar Levant said he knew her before “she was a virgin."  And I think it was Dwight Macdonald who complained of her sexlessness, and compared her to Marilyn Monroe, which seems unfair, and it’s undeniable anyway, that Doris aged better, but call me a Communist, but I find her sexy.  She’s one of those actresses who mostly plays herself, but it’s a delightful person to have around.

There’s the box set of eight DVDs called “The Doris Day Collection” a few of which are kind of hard to get to, but most are pretty wonderful, including particularly, Young Man with a Horn, The Pajama Game, the Glass Bottom Boat, and Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.  If you click on Amazon you can read reviews of each of the individual ones.  Check it out here and pick up the individual ones if the whole set seems a bit much.  The only weakness of the set is that it does not contain the three Rock Hudson/Tony Randall flicks contained in the “Rock Hudson & Doris Day Romance Collection," which also has lovely packaging.  Finally, I don’t know how many Altercation readers remember the Doris Day show which aired for about five seasons between 1968 and 1973 and looks and feels a little sappy even by these standards.  She lives on a farm for this season, having just been widowed and quit her New York magazine writer job.  Take a look at it, here.

Two movies I loved:  "Me and You an Everybody We Know,” and “Walk on Water.”  See ‘em if you can.  Or write ‘em down so you can rent them when they become available on DVD.

And has anybody ever heard of Fern Jones?  She put out a country gospel record in 1959 called "The Glory Road," and died in 1996 at age 73.  It's been reissued on The Numero Group because Fern's daughter heard an NPR piece on another reissue from this label and contacted the founders of the company about her mother, a minister's wife who was major on the revival tent circuit of the 40s and 50s.  She was sitting on these masters for years.  This record was made with the A-list of Nashville session guys fresh off a June 1958 Elvis Presley recording session.  It’s not like anything else I’ve ever heard, but it sure is great.  You can read more about it here.

Correspondence Corner

Name: Jeff Thomas
Hometown: Brighton, MI
Eric,
Something to consider - maybe it's so obvious I missed it until now.  G. Bush has abdicated the position of "World Statesman," or whatever title that comes with the position of President of the United States, to Tony Blair.  Mr. Blair has put Bush into the position of having to answer to Blair's initiatives rather than vice versa and I find that to be amusing and refreshing.  Amusing because Bush couldn't match wits with Blair in any way, shape or form and Blair, possibly, has finally tired of his dimwitted ally.  Refreshing because our ethnocentric, narrowminded President is forced into a global thought process that involves more than the concept of bludgeoning our foes/critics into submission.  I also think that Mssr Cooper and Mdmsl(sp?) Miller were tools of the administration, not reporters of valid information, and should go to jail regardless of exposing their sources or not because what they did constituted a crime and they should have known better.  They should have reported their sources to the Feds and not the newspapers.

Name: Bryan Law
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Dear Eric --
Starting around the Forth-of-July weekend, I've been noticing some black ribbons stenciled on sidewalks and overpasses around Tulsa, with numbers scrawled in chalk above them.  These numbers have sometimes been scratched out and another, higher number written as a replacement.  It took me a while to put two and two together, but I finally realized that the numbers written were an updated count of the American troops who have died in Iraq.  I was surprised to see such a bold display of discontent with the war here in the heart of Bush country.  I was wondering if you or any of your other readers know anything about this.

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